Characters: Unnamed Rocket grunt; Giovanni; Red.
Warnings: Mentions of self-harm and suicide, most off-screen character death ever.
Summary: A patient placed in one of Kanto's fine psychiatric institutions following what would seem to be a botched suicide attempt has an unusual story to tell about the fall of Team Rocket and that strange boy Champion who never speaks.
A/N: An alternate take on the DeadRed theory; Gen I-II game canon.
October 16, 1997
Okay, let’s do this. First off, I want to make it clear that I wasn’t trying to kill myself. Really I don’t give a shit what it says on my intake forms. I’m telling you. I promise you, I want to stay alive more than anything.
Tell me about it.
Look, I don’t do touchy-feely shit like this, and all my problems aren’t coming from in my head anyhow, but I’ll tell you a story. Do you believe in curses? I grew up in Lavender Town — oh, you like that, I bet. I can tell. Now you’re thinking I definitely tried to kill myself. Look, for people who grew up there all that gloominess is normal. Not going to pretend I wasn’t happy to get out of there, though.
I swear that whole organization is cursed. Team Rocket. Hell if I know how it got that way. We’re hardly the only group of people to be responsible for some deaths. I don’t know why we should have to put up with this shit when governments apparently don’t. I mean, if we do something, it’s organized crime, but if they do it, it’s acceptable loss. Do you think the Prime Minister has to wake up every morning and wonder if he’s going to be followed around by the ghosts of all the people he’s killed? Of course not. The world wouldn’t work if it were that way. For some reason, it’s us who have to put up with all that creepy-crawly shit.
It started last February. Well, there was probably a lot more that happened earlier, stuff that I never heard about. Like I said, I’m convinced now it was cursed from the get-go, so if there were two incidents, there were probably more.
We were doing some work back in Lavender. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be back there anyway, and then the mayor starts getting on our case. Mr. Fuji. This old guy with kleenexes in every pocket who dodders around the house looking after abandoned Pokémon. That town breeds people like that.
I heard about that incident. There was quite a bit of concern about the mayor’s disappearance, if I remember correctly.
Right. That’s the thing, though. I mean, I’ll swear to any god you choose to name that the worst the old guy got was some bruises. One day, I brought him Italian. How’s that for service? Plus the whole thing would have been done a lot sooner if he’d have just given us what we wanted from the beginning. Look, I’m not going to pretend that I felt bad about it, but I’m not a sadist, you know? I don’t get some kind of pleasure out of kicking old guys. I wanted him to cooperate; probably we all did.
Anyway, Fuji wasn’t even the problem. As soon as we’d gotten him up there at the top of the tower, we were practically stuck there with him. You could come and go if you had to, but it would break your nerves. Early on, someone had to shoot this bigass Marowak that lived in the tower and kept causing problems. The thing came back. I barely got any sleep that week. The second I closed my eyes I could hear this growling. I wasn’t even the one who had killed the damn thing, but I suppose it wasn’t exactly in the mood to be rational.
Honestly, I was probably happier than Fuji was when all of that was finally over. Between you and me, Doc, nobody ever really grows up. A shadow passes over the sun at the right moment and suddenly you’re three years old again and you want to bawl your eyes out. Human beings are pretty much worth shit.
We’d been there about a week, and then one day out of nowhere this kid showed up and pretty much handed me my ass. I’m not ashamed to admit that. Not now, anyway. I guess I was at the time. But look, I used Pokémon the boss gave me because that was my job. The boss taught me what to do. I never really wanted to train those things. The kid was one of those freaky boy geniuses, so the whole thing was a foregone conclusion.
I was grateful to him, if you want to know the truth. At least I didn’t have to deal with that damn tower and all those ghosts anymore. Compared with that, Saffron is like heaven. But honestly, even by that point everything was already fucked five ways.
I don’t want to talk today. I changed my mind. You’d never believe me anyhow, so there’s no point in telling any of it to you. Let’s just be real clear. The hold is up in few hours. I know how this shit works. If you decide you want to keep me, I’ll have to go to court, and it’ll be a big waste of time.
I’m going to explain it again, slowly. I didn’t try to kill myself. First off, only chicks kill themselves by swallowing a bunch of pills. If I wanted to die, I’d make sure. Probably I’d shoot myself.
That’s not really what I would call a sure thing. I’ve found that people have very misleading expectations when it comes to suicide, quite frankly. I’m glad you didn’t want to die, but you should know you’re lucky to be in the state your in. It happens much more often than you might think that someone tries to kill themselves and ends up disabled instead. What you said about shooting yourself in the head — I’ve observed patients who tried that and ended up in permanent vegetative states. Certainly not the peaceful death they had hoped for. I don’t know of anyone who wants to be trapped in their own body like that. The body can keep living for a long time even after the brain has been damaged beyond repair.
Yeah, I know.
That’s what I was going for.
I want to fuck my brain up so badly it’ll be impossible for me to ever wake up. Guess what: I’ll tell you a secret. I’m a coward. I have no intention of dying until I absolutely have to. But I can’t live, either. Even if you lie on a couch and sleep all the time, you still dream. I have to look out for number one.
The thing I do have in common with people that want to off themselves is that I’m doing it for the same reason. I want the same thing.
What thing is that?
Peace, I guess. No, fuck that, that’s such a weasel word. Oblivion, okay? Plus, if I’m in a coma, maybe I’ll be so pitiful that no one would care about me.
People who wring their hands about how they would never want to live like that are the same people who think death is pretty. It’s not a bad life, though, don’t you think? Sleep. Lie in a bed. Have other people take care of you. It’s what everyone has wanted at least once in their life. Not a bad life at all.
I promise you I’m more rational than you’ll ever be. I’m going back to my room now. Well, it’s been real.
Yeah, it’s me. Dr. Sensitive Guy Soul Patch said he wanted me to stay past the end of the hold, and I figured what the hell. I don’t have anywhere else to go anyway.
So where was I? Oh yeah, the tower. Nothing else happened for another month or so. I don’t know exactly when it was. Well, actually, a lot happened. Giovanni had been meaning to break Silph’s president for a while. But what I mean is, the whole thing went off without a hitch, at least up until the very end there.
Is this really necessary? You decided to stay here, even though you said earlier you wanted to go. Which means that deep down you know you need help. What we really need to talk about is why you want to — harm yourself, even if you don’t actually have any desire to die.
You want to know why I decided to stay? I’ll tell you. I don’t need your help or anyone’s. But I know what doctor-patient privilege is. It means I get to confess to murder and you get to not tell anyone. I’d like to be heard just once. I won’t get the chance to tell anyone else what happened, so it might as well be you.
So everything was going great. And then the kid came back. I hadn’t known before, but apparently he and Giovanni had already met. In other words, he had also handed Giovanni his ass, which really isn’t something you do.
I fucking hate Pokémon trainers, I really do. The ones who do it for more than pragmatism or a hobby, I mean. And especially the kids. Most of them are harmless. You know, their yuppie parents get them into it because they want their kiddies to feel like the special little princes and princesses they are. Then Prince Pidgey realizes how much work this shit is and how much he misses home and all goes well.
But then there are the other ones. Child prodigies. The real prodigies are always kids. I mean, what the hell do you do with someone whose loyal friends could melt your bones and who can’t be reasoned with? You can try to tell them to keep their noses out things that aren’t any of their business until you’re blue in the face and it doesn’t mean anything to them. Kids don’t see around corners well. Figuratively or literally.
Giovanni kind of soured on the kid after he curb-stomped him a second time. But I think it was the fact that the old man at Silph gave him the fucking Master Ball that really did it for him. It was like he was saying Giovanni was nothing. I honestly think if it weren’t for the Master Ball, things would have gone down differently.
Like I said, I never had any grudge against the kid.
Let’s be crystal clear on the fact that I’m not in here because I have some melodramatic sense of guilt, okay? I mean, yeah. I’d never killed anyone before — no one human, at least. And for some arbitrary reason, we all know that killing children is so much more heinous than killing adults. I guess that has to affect you. But sometimes your life makes you do things you don’t like, that fuck you up, and you have a few bad nights, and then you suck it up and move on. It’s not like I left Team Rocket over that. I was still there when the whole thing collapsed on itself last May.
As for what happened in May, I only saw part of it firsthand, but the news spread like herpes, and let’s be honest: within Team Rocket that’s pretty fast.
Very clever. But I’d rather talk about you. I watch the news as well. The scandal would have been hard to miss.
Forget everything you saw. It’s all bullshit. Well, maybe not all of it. Giovanni really did lose a gym battle, then lose his marbles, then disband the whole organization. He comes running into the office in the middle of the day, pulls all the drawers out of the desk, shoves some papers in a suitcase, and then he gets on the phone and spends an hour calling everyone and telling them everything is off. He says he’s getting the hell out of Kanto and never coming back. I guess he must’ve, because no one’s seen him since.
That was when I decided to cut my losses. What you have to understand is that Giovanni ran this thing almost single-handed. He’d written up directions for what should happen if somehow he ended up inside, but he’d never bothered to draw up any kind of will, so to speak. But this was even worse than if he was dead, because he was just gone, completely gone, and nobody knew when or if he was coming back. Some people were talking about keeping it going; a couple of guys were vying for power. I thought, sure, it could get put back together right, but it could also turn into a fucking bloodbath.
Honestly, I guess I can’t blame the guys who sent me here from the ER. At the time, I definitely thought Giovanni had snapped. Him disbanding Team Rocket was like him killing his firstborn son. Worse, actually. Him and his son never got along great to begin with. It was so completely out of character. All I could think was that he must have cracked under all the stress. He was one of those guys who has a finger in everything, always has to be the best at everything. I don’t know when he slept. I figured doing all that year after year could make anyone lose it if they weren’t careful.
From what I remember of the papers at that time, most of them took that tack. It’s not a bad interpretation, if you don’t know what really happened. Either that, or they tried to play the whole thing as some kind of weird victory for the whole Pokémon League. Apparently it makes sense in people’s minds that the man who worked for decades to build his syndicate from the ground up would run off in a hissy fit because some talented young trainer beat him. People will believe anything, I guess, but that one’s stupid even by the standards of the general public.
So yeah, I thought he was as cracked as you think I am.
Don’t ever kill anybody unless you absolutely have to. I don’t think most people understand how much trouble it is. And you have to do all the clean up while you’re still shaken up. You know there’s a smell that death has? I always thought that was a figure of speech. I don’t know what it is. It’s not blood alone, and it’s definitely not decomposition that early on. Whatever it is, you have to get rid of it. I’ve never used so much bleach in my life, and the smell from that gets into the back of your throat and makes your eyes water. Giovanni just stood there watching me scrub, too. Apparently it was all our fault for not using a drop cloth. I mean, he could have said something beforehand. After that it only got worse. The whole thing was such a fiasco.
The boss was mad at us anyway because we let the kid’s Pokémon get away. Which is such bullshit. What did he expect us to do? I don’t know how, since they were sitting there in their Pokéballs the whole time, but somehow they knew something was up. Hostile is an understatement. I wasn’t about to go chasing after them. Who goes and tries to chase down a Charizard? For one thing, it flies. Plus it looked like it wanted to eat me. Someone at least has to have a sense of self-preservation around here.
The only one that didn’t look completely terrifying was that Eevee. It wouldn’t go back in its Pokéball of course, but this guy Ellis tried to catch it in a net. Have you ever seen one? I hadn’t either before then. Those things are crazy rare. I looked it up later; apparently they only come from some valley in Papua New Guinea. That’s in South America, right? Anyway. They’re little and cute and they have this silky fur and these big eyes. But that thing nearly got Ellis in the jugular. The whole thing’s insane. What kind of parent lets their kid play with things like that, anyway?
Giovanni was kind of miffed. He just wasn’t having a good couple of days. Of course he was going to have us dump the body across the border in Johto anyway. That way even if someone finds him and runs the dental records, they won’t come up with anything. But no one picks that exact location unless they’re trying to fuck with you — it’s out of the way my ass. Lots of places are out of the way and don’t make you feel like you ought to be wearing body armor to go there.
Ever heard of Mt. Silver? Very scenic. Lots of pretty snow, but there’s a reason why you’re not supposed to go there. We didn’t actually go up the mountain. Still, this Sneasel jumped out of a bush and ran away with my Zubat in its mouth. I mean, what did the boss expect us to do if the wildlife decided it wanted to chomp on us? The whole mountain is cordoned off with all these warning signs. If it had been up to me, we would’ve stopped outside the fence and lied to the boss.
Let me tell you how my life got ruined. After Team Rocket imploded, I decided to go back to Vermillion. Nice place, and as far as I knew nobody there hated me too much.
Late in the summer I ended up hooking up with an old girlfriend. She was crazy about all of that. All the competitive battling, I mean. Don’t ask me; I don’t get it. But she always was one of those insane fangirls who has to watch it on TV when anyone challenges the League and would mortgage her soul for a lifetime pass.
I guess I’d been vaguely aware of the last match — the one in June — when it happened. I don’t pay attention to that kind of thing anyway, and I was even less in the mood to at that time. Ellis — he went to Vermillion with me; we went to school together — decided to throw himself off a bridge right after the tournament finished. Still, people wouldn’t stop talking about what had happened at the League, so I couldn’t help hearing some details.
No surprise there. I’ll admit I was glued to the TV throughout.
Oh, not you too. Anyway. I knew there had been something weird — about there being two champions or something. Alyssa explained the whole thing to me. In way more excruciating detail than I ever needed. There are only so many times a guy can hear about Lance and his precious dragons before he starts to feel kind of lacking.
So she tells me about how first one little prodigy kid won — I guess he was the grandson of some famous guy, so it was kind of a big deal. And then he doesn’t get to enjoy his crown for more than an hour before some other kid finishes him. Seriously, it didn’t even matter to me when she said the second kid was the one Giovanni lost to that made him crack.
And then she showed me some pictures she took while she was there.
And I saw the kid’s face.
The fact that he doesn’t talk is the proof. It’s what makes me absolutely certain that it isn’t some other kid with a similar face.
Everyone thinks the fact the kid never speaks is some kind of affectation. So many of them have something like that. Nobody bats an eye at the strange behavior if they think it’s all for show. Like how that bitch gym leader in Celadon has these over-exaggerated good manners and makes perfumes in her gym. No one ever goes up to her and says, “Hey, if you really just wanted to make perfume, why are you wasting your time battling Pokemon?” Because everyone knows the whole thing is a stage persona.
I know the real reason why he doesn’t talk. I wish I didn’t know that. There are plenty of things you’re better off not knowing.
We put duct tape over his mouth. Isn’t there an old superstition about tying the toes of the dead to make sure they don’t walk? That one sounds a lot more useful than the talking version.
I’m done for now. I want to go back to my room.
I’ve been thinking a lot. About Giovanni. How he pulled it off. Like I said, when he came into the office, he looked like he was about to be sick all over. But I bet he wasn’t like that when he was actually fighting — fighting him. Everyone’s scared of something, but there are people who fall apart on the spot on people who can put on a brave face until the moment is over. See, Giovanni had this thing he would do where he’d stare people down. Probably it was the secret to his success. If you can look someone straight in the eyes and not let them see even a sliver of fear, they can’t hurt you. I tried it after I found out what the secret was, but I couldn’t do it.
I bet Giovanni stared him down the entire time. Giovanni’s smart like that. He knows how to get in your head and start pulling strings. He would have known that somewhere deep down, he’s still a kid and still unsure.
That has to be how it went down. Otherwise, it doesn’t make much sense. He loved Team Rocket, sure, but giving up your work as payment for murder? It’s hardly an eye for an eye. Never showing fear is the key to any good negotiation.
Can you imagine doing something like that, though? Because I can’t. At least I know what kind of person I am. I could never manage.
Life goes like this. You’re born, and you have all these options. Not an infinite number, of course. It all depends on who you are. Not all of us have the luck to be born talented. But as time goes on, your options start to close off one by one, until one day you wake up and realize you’ve gotten yourself into a corner you can’t get out of. That’s when it’s over for you.
As I see it, I’m in that corner. I have three choices. I can do nothing. Keep living as if nothing were wrong. Go work as a cashier somewhere. And then someday I’ll have to deal with the fact that I can’t negotiate the way Giovanni can. Or I can kill myself. Which accomplishes nothing. Ellis was a moron. Thinking you can run from a dead person by being dead yourself is stupid as hell.
Let me tell you. I’m damn proud of myself for having come up with door number three.
All I have to do is walk through it.
Hey, Doc? Did you look at the trees this morning?
What about them?
Most of the leaves are gone now. I looked at the weather in the paper. Temperature’s really dropped over the past couple of days. The first frost will happen any day now.
It’s such a cold place. Mt. Silver, I mean. And soon it’ll be a cold place here, too. I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all. But it seems to me like it ought to mean something, and I know it isn’t anything good.
I remember how white the snows were the day we were there. This really, truly pure white, not like city snow. If you’re one of those people who thinks things in nature are beautiful, then yeah, I guess it was beautiful. Pristine, I suppose.
But me, I’m so afraid for when the first snow comes.
See, this totally makes sense to me.
Red is a ghost when you battle him on Mt. Silver. It's just that he's been a ghost for a long time before that.
Because becoming a Pokémon Master is his unfinished business.
Now he is doomed to wander the earth, kicking the ass of every wannabe out there.