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Title: Recovery
Rating: PG - PG-13
Word Count: 1343
Characters: Archie, Adrian, and Carys.
Summary: The truth hurts. Waiting is just as painful.
Warnings: Language and attempted suicide.
A/N: A response fic to Letty's Adrian-goes-crazy fic. I fail so hard at family dynamics. ...And I hope this doesn't come across as sounding shippy.

Everything fell apart again. By this time Archie had come to expect it. He had cut his losses and run, same as Maxie did. If there was ever a moment in his life he would regret, it was that one. Unbeknownst to him, Adrian was learning the truth of the Surrogate Project around the same time.

Johto was safe from the Project - at least for the most part. He shouldn't have worried though - the Surrogates took Geechisu out. That was another thing he would grow to regret - he hadn't been there to provide backup. He should have been. It looked like he had run away from the inevitable fight. That idea disgusted him. He'd never run from a battle (unless absolutely necessary), and he sure as hell wouldn't have run from the man that controlled his life for the past severl years. Archie didn't even know how long it had been since he had formed Team Aqua and repeated his actions time and time again.

It would be months before he would return to Hoenn. He was still a wanted criminal; it just wasn't safe to return right away. He learned what had happened in his absence from Carys, but when he asked about Adrian, her answers got evasive. It was obvious that he wasn't a good influence - and had unintentionally been behind Adrian's numerous drownings - but Archie's insistance finally won out. Carys explained that Adrian had simply... broken.

Of course Archie hadn't understood. Discovering that he and Maxie had played the same game time and time again to keep the Surrogates busy was shocking, but it wasn't enough to break him. Adrian... Adrian was another story entirely. Carys didn't tell him everything - but Archie could guess. He'd been lied to, lied to himself, and eventually found out the truth. It hadn't ended well.

Archie hadn't bothered to visit Adrian - not at first. He had loose ends to wrap up. But even after those were done he was hesitant to go. Adrian had drowned - how many times? Archie couldn't remember any of them - but it was clear that he was at least indirectly related to those deaths. Guilt was never an emotion he could deal with very well. By ignoring the problem, maybe it would fix itself.

Despite all his bravado, Archie was afraid. He was afraid of seeing what this strong kid - this kid who opposed him at every turn and never failed to disappoint with an amazing battle - had become after all of this. He had actually liked Adrian. To see him as anything other than the happy-go-lucky kid? He couldn't do it.

Yet the address Carys gave him never failed to stick out in his mind. And one day he finally decided that enough was enough - he'd just have to deal with Adrian if he wanted to get rid of that sense of guilt.

It's a damn good thing he did. Looking back, he can't quite recall exactly what happened, only that one minute he was trying to talk to Adrian, and the next Adrian was on the ground in a pool of blood. A knife. The kid had stabbed himself in the stomach with a knife. Archie didn't even remember rushing the kid to the Pokemon center. He didn't even remember waiting there to see if Adrian was alright.

He'll be fine, Archie was told by one of the attendants. He lost a lot of blood, but he should be well enough to leave soon. Archie had only nodded and finally asked to see him. Though skeptical, she had complied.

Adrian looked peaceful in sleep - but it was the first time Archie had seen him in months and the change was shocking. It looked as though he'd aged a good deal and he looked so haggard and weak. Archie wasn't aware of how long he sat there - not until Carys came running in. She gave him an enigmatic look - then immediately turned her attention to Adrian.

They talked at length. Theo - their friend - had been killed. He had supported the Surrogate Project to his death. That had been only one of the events leading up to this. Carys had revealled everything to Adrian - including how his parents and sister had been murdered just to ensure Adrian's cooperation with the Surrogate Project. He had operated under the idea that his family was getting money for this.

It was sickening, how this Project had used these children. Even Carys looked older, though she didn't look anywhere near as badly off as Adrian. She was right. Adrian had simply broken.

Adrian wasn't released in a day, or two, or even three. Carys and Archie weren't the only ones there - the Gym Leaders, the Elites, other Surrogates, even Maxie bothered to make an appearance - but the weeks wore on. Adrian had simply slipped into a coma. He was dehydrated, suffering from malnutrition, and it seemed that he had just lost the will to live. He wasn't getting any better.

Why are you here? Carys had asked once. You will get caught.

Archie had only shrugged in response. It didn't particularly matter. Team Aqua was disbanded, safe from the law's reach, and it would take some time for them to realize he was hanging out in a hospital in Fallarbor Town. Even if he was tossed into jail, Archie wouldn't care. Adrian was what mattered now - somehow or other he had grown to care for that damn kid over the course of his twenty lives and Archie's repeatedly-wiped memories. He was partially at fault, but he didn't need to explain himself to her.

Maybe he was too obvious - or maybe Carys had seen straight through him. This isn't anyone's fault but Geechisu's. You don't have to stay here. It was amusing that she was offering him the chance to flee after all the trouble he'd put her and Adrian through.

No, He'd finally replied, I wasn't there for you all when you needed me. I can at least be here now.

They didn't discuss it further, and things seemed to ease between them after that. Carys had never been as open and talkative as Adrian, but it wasn't difficult to get along with her. The death of the Project seemed to have brought a new life to her, while it had robbed Adrian of his.

Adrian did wake, nearly two months after Archie first dragged him to the Pokemon Center. He didn't say anything; Carys explained the situation. Adrian was still silent and after a moment, Carys got up and left the two to get the nurse.

Damn, kid. You really scared us. Still silence. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you; bet you could'a used my help against that jackass. Unsurprisingly, Archie didn't feel any less guilty. An' I'm sorry about... all those deaths of yours. I'm pretty damn sure I didn't cause all of 'em, but...

Adrian merely stared at him. Archie wondered if any of this was getting through when the boy slowly nodded. At least he understood. You had a ton of people worried, y'know.

The silence was oppressive. Archie felt the need to keep talking to fill it, but he had nothing else to say. There really wasn't any way to put his feelings of relief into words. Adrian would be okay. He'd heal slowly, but eventually he would be okay. Archie was sure of that. He finally reached out and pulled Adrian into a hug.

The sudden move surprised both of them, and Archie could feel Adrian tense up. He didn't let the kid go though. Dammit, Adrian, next time you feel the need to do something so stupid, will you at least think about it first? Adrian relaxed and Archie was a bit surprised to have the hug returned. You'll be fine. You know that, right? Things'll get better. Trust me.

He sure as hell hadn't healed any wounds, but it was a good start.