Title: Breeze of Prelude
Author's Notes:There’s little fan fiction about the MikuNagi coupling, and that’s probably because so little is known of their past relationship that one can hardly make a story about a new relationship if they don’t know the terms of the previous one. So I’ve given it my best shot after being incensed on this couple by my beta-reader and colleague. Hopefully what I’ve written won’t interfere with the facts and you’ll enjoy it.
Thanks: The only other input I had on this was from my Partner-In-Crime, ChibiSecchan, better known here as GladiariaAlata. Not only did she introduce me to the couple, and keep me inspired during its writing, she was key in keeping them in character and suggesting things to. If this story does not suit your fancy, I very much suggest keeping an eye on the couple, as you can expect some great things from my Partner-In-Crime in the future dealing with them.
For the ever-necessary job of beta-reading, I offer my most gracious thanks to Neechan for once more reading through it all meticulously and picking out my (glaringly large) errors. You pointed out SO much that needed improvement, and it would have been a grievous action to post this without your edits. Thank you!!!
As a final note, this fic is using the JAPANESE names. It was suggested that be changed, but doing so would present a few problems that will be fixed for the next fic. It will use the English names to avoid confusion with the majority of reads.
Breeze of Prelude
“Nagi, would you mind staying for a moment after the meeting? There’s something that’s been brought to my attention that I need to speak with you about.” His words were those of the Pokemon League Champion, but his tone was that of a friend.
Across the long table, the violet-haired Gym Leader in question blinked, wondering briefly he had found out that had managed to slip past her, the Supervisor of the Hoenn Gym Leaders. Generally, she reported to him rather than the other way around. Maybe something from higher in the government... “Certainly.”
She tapped at the keyboard of her laptop, noting down the final subject brought up in the monthly meeting, the rather repetitive topic of the number of League authorized Pokemon a Trainer is allowed to employ in the field. Once more the topic had been brought to the attention of the Gym Leaders and the Champion. Had the Leaders decided the change from 6 to 10 Pokemon per Trainer to be a good idea, it would have been passed on to the Elite Four, the Champion presiding over that meeting as well. As usual, it had been shot down relatively quickly. 27 times exactly, Nagi thought to herself as she made note of it once more, linking it within the database to the other cases involving it that had been brought up.
It wasn’t necessary to keep such detailed notes of the tedious inner workings of the Pokemon League, but it was a way for her to force herself to pay attention, keep her awake, and made her look more deserving of her command position, a position she’d rather like to keep. As Touki, the final straggler, left the room, politely closing the door behind him, Nagi closed the League’s databases and powered the mobile unit down.
She pushed her chair in and started back toward Mikuri’s seat, arranged at the far end of the table. As she neared, he ceased his shuffling and rearranging of papers and stood as well, smiling at her, a smile that she recognized from ages past as being a genuine one, not the forced one that usually adorned his features. “What’s on your mind, Mikuri?” she asked, perching herself on the edge of the table comfortably.
“Well, I noticed that it’s currently 7:15 already, and that even flying, you won’t be back to Hiwamaki until well after 8:30. I thought it only proper to see if you’d like to eat before you leave, rather than once you return.” The smile he wore was certainly a hopeful one, she noticed. Much to her chagrin, she felt herself flush and looked down at the ground in what she hoped looked like thought, her hair falling down across her face.
“I don’t know...I have several things to attend to at the Gym once I get back, and I’m not sure they can wait...” Despite her best attempts, there was still a hint of hesitation in her voice, and she knew before she had finished speaking that it would work against her.
Mikuri shook his head, that smile of assured victory still playing across his face. “That’s all the more reason to stay and eat before you return to Hiwamaki. With all those things that need to be accomplished, you’ll end up finally getting food at 2100 or likely later.” She remained silent, and Mikuri knew that he had all but had it assured now.
“It’s really not healthy to eat that late, you know. It makes it very difficult to do one’s job when one’s hungry and tired...”
Nagi silently cursed his logic and her own desire to stay for dinner and grit her teeth before replying. “That’s true. I suppose I will stay for dinner then.” She looked up at him and smiled, slightly flushed. “Thank you.”
Mikuri nodded his acknowledgment and pushed his own chair in, a sign that they were done in the room, and plucked his royal blue jacket from the back of it, slipping it easily over his shoulders. As he arranged the papers he’d been shuffling and filed them in the appropriate folders, Nagi grabbed her own rather heavier jacket and aviator’s goggles from her chair and went to stand by the door.
Dinner? It’s been so long since just the two of us have had dinner alone... She sighed, watching him intently. No, it’s nothing more than friendly concern... She bit her lip as she realized that the thought of going out to dinner with him still made her heart-beat quicken, her breathing grow shallower, and her thoughts race. Why can’t I get over him like I should?
It had been some time since their previous relationship had been broken up, and both had vowed to the other that friendship would be an adequate status for them. Since the beginning, Mikuri had failed terribly at doing so but managed to not bother her with his pining. Several of their mutually close friends seemed to sense something between the two, but whether because Nagi couldn’t or wouldn’t see the small signs he displayed, she was certain he had forgotten her in that regard. He thought, as did she, that she would see him only as a friend from then on. For a while, she thought that she just might be able to separate thoughts of him and thoughts of romance, but when he had succeeded Adan as the Leader of Rune City Gym and she began to see him once more on a regular basis, it became more and more difficult.
Her mind and her own stubbornness contributed to the fact that she had not yet let it be known, not even suspected, among the others that they had previously had a relationship. She’d managed to keep her mind on her job and her duty despite his nearness through shear will power and an inability to admit the truth to herself. Chirutarisu, if anyone, knew the level of her emotional unrest. She, of course, would never tell anyone, especially not the azure-haired man that was the cause.
She found it infinitely frustrating that she was so torn between her convictions and the suave League Champion. At the time, it had been the right thing to do, separating. Now, and ever since then, she had been tortured with wanting to go back to him. She vaguely wondered if it was perhaps because she had too much pride to admit she was wrong. Am I really just being stubborn?
The Hiwamaki City Gym Leader blinked in surprise when Mikuri seemed to appear before her, one eyebrow cocked in a questioning manner at the thoughtful expression she wore. “Is something wrong, Nagi?”
“Wha? Er, no, nothing’s wrong, Mikuri.” She cursed herself silently for both the surprised stutter and the instantly flaring blush that came of having the object of her musings suddenly so close. The illogical fear that he knew what she had been thinking leapt to mind and she quashed it as quickly as she could, knowing it wasn’t possible.
The walk through the corridors of the provided League building was a seemingly long and certainly quiet one, both Leader and Champion rather deep in thought. Normally such a meeting of the Gym Leaders would have been held in the designated main office at Nagi’s native Hiwamaki City, but due to a particularly strong storm several weeks prior, it was out of commission as the League worked to repair it. The reflective mood was effectively dashed away when Mikuri stepped forward and pushed the glass door open, leading them outside. A strong gust of icy wind wound its way into the hall, stirring their clothes and sending Nagi’s hair flipping about in Mikuri’s face as she walked through, pulling her coat tightly about herself.
Mikuri stepped out after her and happily allowed the wind to close the generally heavy door for him. “It was supposed to be a stormy night,” he muttered into the collar of his jacket, “but this is a little more than they forecasted...”
Nagi nodded in silent agreement, casting a worried eye at the sky. She didn’t care much about most forms of precipitation, but if the wind got much worse, getting back to Hiwamaki would be rather more difficult than usual, and certainly unsafe. One hand drifted to the Pokeball in the inside pocket of her coat, patting it both for her own comfort and Chirutarisu’s.
“Mikuri, while we’re eating, is there someplace I can let Chirutarisu out? She gets agitated when there’re storms, and she prefers not to be in her Pokeball to begin with...” Before Chirutarisu had evolved, when Nagi had first been instated as Hiwamaki’s Gym Leader, she had been made to fight a trainer during a rather strong storm. She had lost the match due to the intensity of the winds, and a combination of lighting and a Pikachu’s Thunderbolt. Since then, the flying type had had an intense fear of storms.
“Preferably,” her voice quieted despite the din of the weather, “would she be able to eat with me?” She looked up at Mikuri and held the hair out of her eyes, too proud to plead, but her eyes asking him with much more power than he could refuse.
We’ll have to do something other than I’d planned, but “Sure,” he stated with a casual smile, seeming to give it little thought. “I was planning on this nice bay-side restaurant, but I’m afraid they don’t like to have Pokemon running about.” Admittedly, he also was not fond of their head chef, but had decided before-hand that he wouldn’t mind putting up with the boastful man for a night for Nagi’s sake. Her love of fresh lobster was, to him at least, well known, and he had planned from the start to give her the chance to order that.
“Would my home be an acceptable place, Nagi?” Mentally, he prepared himself for her to turn down the offer suddenly, intimidated by his request that they “go to his place.” He let out a soft relieved sigh when she nodded her approval, smiling slightly.
“Thank you, Mikuri.” The wind flared again, pulling her hair from her hold, and she let it do as it pleased, deciding she likely wouldn’t be able to do much good against it. The azure-haired man turned around, heading the other direction, and she turned as well, allowing him to lead the way. It had been a rather long time since she’d been in his home. It’s just for dinner, just so I don’t have to wait too long to eat, she told herself as they walked. Mikuri was, and always had been, a man of his word. If he’d agreed with her that things were over, they were surely over.
“Do you mind if we stop by a little store I know before we head to the house?” he asked over his shoulder, the wind carrying his words to her quickly. “I’m afraid I don’t have very much variety stocked back in the freezer.” She nodded quickly, once more brushing her hair from her eyes in an attempt to keep her gaze on Mikuri.
“Yeah, that’s fine.” She fell silent for a moment, contemplatively, then frowned slightly as she felt a drop of water hit her nose. For several seconds she felt nothing more, and just as her hope that it was a fluke began to gain strength, another hit her cheek. More followed until a steady, though very light, sprinkle began to fall.
“Oh this is just perfect,” she muttered dryly, glaring rather darkly at the pavement as dots of water began to connect on it. Mikuri walked ahead of her, hardly noticing the rain at all, accustomed as he was to being splashed with much more water than this. The Pokemon he trained were primarily aquatic, and he found himself in and around water a great deal more than most people. A little bit of rain barely merited his attention.
“What’s wrong, Nagi?” he cast over his shoulder, his eyes on the lights of a particular building a block or so ahead of them. He could see people moving about inside and he thanked his lucky stars that it was a day they were open. Depending on how much they brought in on a given day they were either open or closed. It was something they were totally unable to schedule and, more than once, Mikuri had had an urge to have some fish or another, only to be disappointed with a “Closed” sign in the main window.
The flying type Trainer withheld the urge to poke him to bring his attention back around to her and instead cleared her throat, hoping that would be enough to draw his attention. “Just this blasted rain. Terrible end to an otherwise okay day.”
He nodded and looked back at her, cracking a small grin. “It’s not too bad. I’m rather fond of it.” He took on a mock thoughtful face. “But then, I don’t have to fly in it...”
Nagi shot him a faux glare then turned her gaze to Rune City’s unique bay. The surface of the water was in a state of low-key turmoil, churning slightly, small waves crashing against the base of the city at regular intervals. I don’t know how he can stand to be in the water as much as he is. It’s amazing he’s not bothered by storms and things. She sighed, the sound masked by the wind. We really are pretty different, he and I...
She jumped when she felt his hand on her shoulder, and looked up into his clear blue eyes, smiling down at her. “This is the store.” He turned his gaze skyward and cocked a half-grin. “Come on in. I’m afraid I can’t let you follow me, but feel free to pick up a few things you’d like to have with the main course.” The woman pulled her jacket tighter around her as the wind gusted and frowned curiously.
“Why can’t I follow you?”
“Because the main course is a surprise, of course.” His voice nearly deadpanned, as if it were the most obvious thing the world, and she flushed slightly at having not guessed.
Mikuri smiled in secret, tucking his chin into the collar of his jacket. I’d forgotten how adorable she looked when she was embarrassed. He pulled the door open easily, noting the sound of a bell ringing to notify the staff of their arrival. He motioned his capped companion into the store before him, ignoring the customary, though less than enthusiastic, greeting from the cashier.
Still smiling to himself, Mikuri immediately headed towards the back of the establishment, passing up the normal sets of meat and heading directly for the “Employees Only” door near the freezers. As if he owned the place, he pushed the door open and strode in, looking around for the butcher who owed him what he hoped was favor enough for two very fresh lobsters.
“’Ey, can’t ya read? It says ‘employees only,’ and you ain’t no employee, son!” A voice boomed from behind him, nearly sending him into a rack of duck. The voice laughed, echoing through the cold room and reached out to steady Mikuri as he teetered beside a particularly large water fowl.
“Yes, I saw that, my friend.” He grinned at him and made sure his footing was steady. “I thought I’d be more like you and disregard the rules this time though.” Somehow managing not to look arrogant, Mikuri brushed the bits of meat from his dark blue jacket from where the man had grabbed him. Since he had been apprenticed by Adan, his appearance had become important, though he managed not to become narcissistic. Before the man could reply with another reverberatingly loud comment, Mikuri looked up at him, his expression serious.
“I’m actually here to call in on a few debts, Jonathan.”
“Oh, is ‘at so? Well then, if ya put it ‘at way, what can I do for ya, Mikuri?” The man, burly and large enough to fit his voice with a beard to rival Tessen’s, rolled his sleeves up and shoved the rather large cleaver into a pouch on his smock. The taller man peered over the butcher’s shoulder at several tanks situated in the back.
“I’m really hoping you have two very nice lobsters running around in those tanks, to be blunt,” he stated with a slightly apologetic grin. Lobster, particularly good ones, were notoriously expensive. “The fatter, the better.”
Jonathan made a face of disappointment and snapped two rather meaty fingers. “I was afraid you’d say jus’ ‘at. An’ here I ‘appened to get three jus’ like that in this mornin’...” Mikuri laughed and followed his friend as he ambled between the racks of meat towards the water-filled tanks. Milling about within the water were probably a total of fifty bright red lobsters, each crawling on top of the others, their claws rubber banded shut.
“’Ow do you intend to get ‘em home, exactly?”
Mikuri blinked, having not considered that dilemma, then looked about the area for some kind of waterproof container. His gaze landed on a small set of very thick plastic bags and he grimaced but saw nothing better. That’s gonna look rather conspicuous... He shrugged and picked them up, walking back over to Jonathan with his practiced smile. “In these, I think.” The stocky fellow turned around and eyed the bags Mikuri held appraisingly, then shrugged.
“‘At oughta work okay.” The League Champion handed them quickly to him, watching interestedly as he worked a rather large pair of tongs around a lobster situated near the bottom of the tank and, with a labored grunt, pulled it out of the water, other lobsters dropping off it back into the tank.
It squirmed in a feisty manner before Jonathan dropped it into the first of the clear plastic bags, tail first, and employed a large cup in filling the bag with water. He sealed it with some kind of iron, melting the top of the bag close, and handed it carelessly to Mikuri. The azure-haired man nearly dropped the slightly squirming creature, barely managing to grab onto the top of the bag before it hit the floor and splattered.
He repeated the process, mulling over which of the lobsters to snag, and finally dropped another bag into Mikuri’s now more prepared hands. “‘Ere ya go, Mikuri.” He frowned at the big crustaceans, almost feeling the profit drip out of his wallet. “I hope you enjoy ‘em as much as the next payin’ customer would.”
Chuckling to himself, the jacketed man nodded another thank you and grabbed a brown paper bag from an overhanging shelf and plopping both lobsters into it. “I think this will be enough to make up for my recovery of your boat. Thank you, Jonathan.”
The large man waved off the thanks and motioned Mikuri out of the cold room. “Now get on with ya, go buy somethin’, why don’t you?” Laughing, the Champion complied and stepped out of the lightweight swinging door back into the store proper.
He shifted the bag in his arms and gazed about the store, easily spotting the tips of Nagi’s distinctive hair style and the gleam of the goggles perched atop her head. His gaze rose to the sign above the end of the aisle and he couldn’t help but chuckle. “Snacks; why am I not surprised?” He could only define her love of chocolate as irresistibly cute. Smiling to himself, he made a note to pick some up before leaving.
Rather than immediately draw attention to himself and his rather large packages, Mikuri stepped quickly up the counter, making sure that he was out of Nagi’s line of sight, and sat the bag on the counter. “I thought I’d let you know that I was given permission to take these, free of charge.”
The cashier, a young man probably just out of high school, looked rather nonplussed and nodded. “Sure, whatever, man.” Mikuri frowned as he turned back around towards the aisles.
“I guess good help really is hard to find these days,” he muttered as he once more shifted the paper bag, wishing that it had a handle decently strong enough for him to use. He strolled into the rather short aisle that held the store’s small supply of alcohol. It was, after all, not a large establishment. Alcohol, on a normal basis, was something that both he and his violet-haired companion avoided.
This, Mikuri decided as he eyed the bottles nearest the front of the store, is something of a special occasion. He reached out and tilted a bottle of white wine back so he could better read the label and smiled. A quick glance at the nearby bottles cemented his decision and he lifted the bottle wholly off the shelf.
“And just who is that for?”
Mikuri whirled about, barely managing to reclaim the bottle that seemed to have leapt from his grip. “Nagi!” She stood before him, her hands crossed across her chest, and a rather expectant look on her face. He drew a deep breath and reasserted his well practiced calm air. How in the world does she do that... Trying to maintain his little remaining dignity despite his uncontrollable sheepish grin, he cleared his throat and held the bottle out. “For you and I, naturally.”
Nagi tapped her fingers against her arm and raised an eyebrow. “Uh-huh. Well, don’t expect me to drink any of it.” She picked up a small stack of foods she’d sat on the shelf beside her and turned around dismissively. “I don’t touch the stuff.” Her opinion on the subject was stronger than even Mikuri knew, and she didn’t plan on changing it for anyone.
Although slightly puzzled by Nagi’s absolute abstinence, Mikuri shrugged and placed the bottle back on the shelf, an almost forlorn expression on his face. His eyes focused on the woman he was accompanying, he hurried to stand in line with the azure-haired Leader, peering curiously at what she held in her arms. “Your tastes haven’t changed much, have they, Nagi?”
She turned around and looked up at him, frowning at the ambiguity of his words, then followed his gaze to the food in her arms. “Oh, you mean this?” He nodded.
“Nah, it’s basically the same,” she cocked a small grin and held up a clear bag containing celery stalks. “I suppose you have the same distaste for most of this?”
Mikuri recoiled in a much exaggerated fashion from the greenery, provoking a laugh from the violet-haired woman, much to his delight. “You dare to use my money to buy celery?”
Nagi frowned and shifted her weight. “Your money? I’m the one paying for this stuff if I’m picking it out. It’s not your- hey!” Mikuri reached out and methodically began plucking items from her arms, setting them between himself and the paper bag securely.
“And now I’ve picked them out, so there’s no problem with me paying,” he stated with, Nagi had to admit, a rather charming smile. Before she could manage a response, Mikuri nodded at the cashier’s call for the next customer and stepped around her easily, dropping the vegetables, soup broth, and bananas onto the counter gently so as not to bruise the softer items.
“Now that’s not fair, Mikuri,” Nagi protested, peering around him as the cashier rang up the foods, totaling their cost. “You’re already providing the main course, and these are things you probably won’t be interested in...” she trailed off when it became obvious that the taller man was paying her no attention in the least and sighed, fixing a bemused glare on him. He doesn’t have to do this...
Mikuri dutifully counted out the few bills the small amount of food came to and gave them to the inattentive attendant, smiling down at his companion as he waited for the food to be deposited into some sort of bag.
“It’s just fine, Nagi. As long as you’re letting me fix dinner for you, allow me the pleasure of doing the entire thing.”
His words, genuine as they were, would have melted Nagi’s resistance, and likely her heart, years ago, but she had since hardened it, trying to ease her fruitless hopes of picking up where they’d left off. She didn’t notice her eyes closing, nor that she swayed slightly, drawn to the soft-spoken man at her side until the cash register dinged as its door popped open, her eyes snapping open as well. Mikuri was looking down at her with a perplexed light in his eyes, and the attendant was holding the Champion’s change out to him with a dull expression, his eyes focused vaguely on the beautiful Leader.
She blushed slightly, recognizing finally that she had yet to respond. Damn, I must look like such a fool...He’d hate me if he knew I was still...pining for him. She cleared her throat and averted her gaze to the candy bars under the counter. “J-just this once, Mikuri. My salary has allowances for food, you know.” She silently cursed her unsteady voice chewed at her lower lip nervously, regretting her momentary lack of control immensely.
Distracted somewhat, Mikuri took the proffered change and slipped it into a pocket of his jacket. With dexterous ease, he slipped the rather light bags around one of his wrists, resettling the still-secret lobsters in his arms. Nagi’s gaze was still focused away from his, and he couldn’t help a small smile, despite her obvious distress. It’s been too long since I’ve seen that blush. He reached out and hesitantly touched her arm, drawing her attention.
“If you can’t think of anything else you’d like for supper, then we’re ready to go.” Her stormy violet eyes locked with his once more, and she was silent for a moment, then nodded. He smiled down at her for another second, then turned on his heel and strode towards the exit. Thanking his years with Adan for his balance, he struck out with one foot and pushed the door open, leaning against it to hold it open for his companion. She nodded at him in thanks and started out the door before his voice stopped her. “Don’t you want to fasten your coat back up? It seems the wind and rain have gotten a little stronger.”
She blinked and nodded, surprised that her thoughts had taken her so far from her present situation that she would forget the entire reason she was shopping with the League Champion. “Thanks,” she muttered quietly, working quickly to zip her coat against the wind that was already winding its way into the shop through the open door.
They exited quickly back onto the sidewalk, Nagi instinctively standing behind and to Mikuri’s left, using him as a buffer between her and the wind. They walked in mutually contemplative silence for a few long moments, just listening to the rain and their own wishes and denials that things were different. Nagi, knowing that from their angle and the presence of the mysteriously large grocery bag. that Mikuri couldn’t see her, decided to indulge herself. Warnings raced through her mind not to, that getting closer to him would only mean more pain when she had to pull back away, but his presence and the circumstances were enough to override her mind. Her eyes half-closed in something near contentment, she quickened her pace and stepped closer to Mikuri.
It’s been a while since I’ve been this close to him and not been pestering him to sign something, she thought with a content smile. It had also been rather a long while since they had been alone. The presence of Ruby and Sapphire, although it had reignited the emotion she had thought that she’d managed to quell for Mikuri, had afforded them little time for enjoyable company, and stress levels had been high enough regardless of her returning emotions, making managing her unrequited pining at the time difficult.
Her thoughts drifted momentarily to the young couple, and a wistful sigh escaped her lips, blessedly unnoticed by her companion. It occurred to her that she was to meet with Sapphire the next day, and she was hit with the obvious realization that her time with Mikuri, however much she enjoyed it, was quite finite.
I shouldn’t’ve accepted his offer; I should’ve just gone home...I’m only going to feel worse after this. There were times she marveled at her own emotional weakness, and she knew that in retrospect, her decision to have dinner with him would be a major point at which to marvel.
As long as I don’t say anything that might ruin our friendship...it’ll be okay, she assured herself, knowing full well that keeping their friendship would do nothing to still the ache that was beginning to return to her heart.
She didn’t notice until Mikuri stopped walking and she very nearly plowed into him that a rather comfortable, warm, and most importantly, dry car was rolling along slowly beside them. With a barely audible mechanical whir, the driver’s tinted window lowered slightly. Two middle-aged eyes beneath gray brows peered out at them, one hand raised to shield him from the rain that attempted to make its way into the vehicle.
“Awfully nasty night for a walk, isn’t it, folks?” By the slightly hopeful tone in his voice and the emblem on the side of the vehicle, Mikuri decided easily that he was a cabby, no doubt looking for a little more business before heading to his own home for the night.
Mikuri, after a moments’ consideration, nodded at the man, smiling. “It is a bit unpleasant for a walk, isn’t it?” Nagi nodded in agreement silently from behind him, greatly appreciating that he seemed willing to take a taxi.
“Well,” the driver glanced anxiously out the windshield, then back at the two League officials, “I was on my way home, but I think I’ve got time for one more stop. We seem to be headed the same direction.” He smiled, showing off a set of remarkably near-perfect teeth for a man his age. “And I couldn’t let a nice couple like yourselves walk too far in this downpour.”
Nagi turned a distinctive shade of red, thankful that she was still standing behind Mikuri and that the wind was blowing her long hair across her face, obscuring most of it.
“We very much appreciate your generosity, sir,” Mikuri broke in. Hiwamaki Gym’s Leader cast a confused glance up at the taller man, but just as he could not see her face, nor could she see his. “We probably have another 45 minutes if we walk,” he elaborated. Due to the storm, Nagi couldn’t quite tell what the odd note she heard in his voice was.
“Then go ahead and hop in, folks. I can have you back in 15,” the driver stated, still smiling kindly as he rolled the window back up.
Mikuri stepped closer to the curb and, balancing the groceries precariously, pulled the door open. He didn’t move to get in and Nagi immediately darted forward and slid across the seat, wincing as her coat squeaked on the back of the seat. Something soft and slightly squishy blocked her from sitting on the far side of the vehicle.
“Um...sir, there’s something back here.” The League Champion poked his head into the car as the driver turned around in his seat, frowning.
“Gonbe, get up here. You know you stay with me in the front seat.” The dark furred Pokemon, much like its evolution, Snorlax, remained asleep, blissfully ignorant of his companion. He called again to no effect, then looked apologetically at his violet-eyed passenger. “I’m awfully sorry. I don’t think he’s gonna wake up until afternoon tomorrow or so...”
Nagi waved her hand dismissively and patted the all-but comatose Pokemon on the head and smiled at the driver. “No, that’s fine. I don’t mind, really.” She looked closer at it, interest sparkling in her eyes. “I’ve never seen one before, actually.”
Shrugging, Mikuri decided neither the Pokemon nor Trainer were moving. With a grunt, he sat down heavily on the seat, the bag of vegetable nearly escaping from the larger lobster bag. Stretching to the point of pain, he pulled the door shut and sighed in comfort. “Nice and dry...”
After a moment, as the feeling that he didn’t realize he had lost returned to his legs, he realized that due to the rather cramped spaces in the back seat, his and Nagi’s shoulders and legs were touching. Since he was used to cold water, it would probably be longer before Nagi noticed, but when she did...he sighed under cover of the softly playing radio. She probably won’t like this... It wasn’t a particularly intimate sort of touch by any means, but it certainly set his heart to racing, and unless he applied all of his skills at masking himself learned through years with Adan, he worried that she would see his delight at being so close, and become angry.
They drove in silence for several moments, Nagi examining the Gonbe beside her with interest befitting a Gym Leader. As the heaters of the car began to take effect and she regained feeling in her arms then legs, she noticed immediately that she and Mikuri were actually touching. The question of whether it had been the environment or the contact that had warmed her briefly made its way into her thoughts, but she brushed it away and suppressed the corresponding blush.
I wonder if he’s noticed. Or even if he cares... She bit her lower lip and focused her attention all the more intently on Gonbe, both concentrating on and trying to ignore the closeness of the man beside her.
Silence continued for a moment before the driver looked back into his rearview mirror, gaze focused on Mikuri. “Where’re we going exactly, sir?”
It took a moment for the azure-haired man to realize that it was he that was being spoken to, and with a blink, his eyes locked with the driver’s. “Er...you know the League’s housing district? Champion’s Chateau, please.”
The man’s eyes widened and he unconsciously slowed the vehicle as he became less and less intent on the road and more on his passenger. “I knew you looked familiar!” His voice rose in excitement, and Mikuri couldn’t help but cringe.
Here I was hoping this guy was different... For various reasons, chief of which being his rank within the League, he was forced to deal with droves of fans. Though he did indeed enjoy the attention, being something of a show off, it could become tiring rather easily. Tonight, however, things other than pleasing Pokemon League fans were on his mind, and he would much rather not deal with it.
“If you don’t mind, actually, we’re in something of a hurry, sir...” As polite as possible, Mikuri flicked his eyes to the road and put just the right emphasis to indicate he didn’t like where the conversation was going. The driver nodded and, after another quick, slightly awed, glance, he turned his eyes back to the road and accelerated.
“The missus is never gonna believe this,” he muttered happily to himself. After all, who expected the Pokemon League Champion to stoop to the point of taking a taxi to get home?
Mikuri looked at Nagi from the corner of his eye, then when he saw that she was safely turned away from him, he allowed his gaze to fall completely onto her. Her wet hair was hanging around her face like a violet veil, keeping him from seeing her beauty in its entirety. He wanted to reach out and brush the dripping locks from before her eyes, but despite how close they sat, he was sure that she was too far from him to be reach her in such a way.
They arrived shortly at the spacious grounds set aside for the Pokemon League Champion, each of the passengers involved deeply with thoughts of the other. The lights, as one may expect, were out and the large building struck an imposing silhouette against the backdrop of the waterfall in the distance. Although ornately constructed, it was not outlandish and wasteful of resources. Though delighting in elegance and extravagance, Mikuri was a well known supporter of conservation, and had made certain the Champion’s residence complied with his morals.
The driver, jaw open somewhat in awe, pulled through the circular driveway so the vehicle was idling in front of the large double-doors at front. Nagi, although she had never been to the Champion’s Chateau before, didn’t allow her surprise at its size and magnificence to show, hardly sparing it a glance. Rather, she patted the cabby’s Gonbe as a parting gesture and shooed Mikuri out the door. “Come on, let’s get in there before it starts raining harder.”
He nodded and pushed the door open. Making sure that the groceries were firmly placed so as not to be blown to the ground by the wind, he leapt out of the cab, stopping just beneath the overhang before the door. Nagi followed him, her step rather lighter, unencumbered as she was.
Having not taken such public transportation before, she shut the door with little thought and started toward Mikuri. She stopped short when, from behind his half-rolled down door, the driver coughed in a polite attempt to draw attention.
Crap...he wants to be paid, doesn’t he? She turned back, smiling guiltily at him, and withdrew a card from her coat pocket. “Do you take La Rousseau Platinum?” she asked, holding out the rather shiny credit card.
He shook his head, his eyes apologetic. “No, I’m afraid I can only accept cash, miss.”
Nagi chewed on her lower lip and pocketed the card. I didn’t really intend on having to pay for anything while I was here... She searched her coat and, as she expected, found no cash. “Um, I’m afraid I don’t-“
“My back pocket, Nagi,” Mikuri interjected, stepping closer, still facing the doors to his home. “I’ve got cash in my wallet. Just pay him what he needs out of it.”
The Leader turned a shade to match the brake lights on the taxi and spluttered quiet objections, freezing at the thought of reaching into the man’s back pocket. I-it’s not like I haven’t... she turned redder still and shook her head defiantly, drops of water flying from the ends of her loose strands of hair.
Her hand shaking slightly with both anticipation and hesitation, she slipped her small hand around his jacket and into the back pocket of his slacks. Immediately, she touched upon a piece of what felt like extremely fine leather, and she pulled it out quickly.
Still red, she turned to the driver who merely explained that an even 10 would be sufficient. She slipped a bill out of the tri-fold wallet and into the driver’s hand. He thanked her with a toothy grin, easily seeing the blush on her cheeks as she refolded the Champion’s wallet, paying no attention to the amount of money it contained. “Have a nice night, folks,” he waved as he accelerated, not noticing Gonbe rolling about in the back seat as he turned in the drive.
Still slightly out of it, Nagi waved back dully, then turned back to Mikuri, finding that he had already proceeded to the door and was once more uncomfortably shifting the bags around in his arms, trying to decide if he could risk freeing a hand to unlock it. The violet-haired woman chuckled quietly, bemused, as she walked quickly up the steps, holding tight to his wallet.
“Nagi, I hate to ask you, but could you get the keys out of my pocket and unlock the door? It’s the key with the blue base...” He frowned down at her in an “it can’t be helped,” sort of way and half-shrugged, trying not to upset the bags of food further. As it was, the balance of the celery was already precarious, though he didn’t much care what happened to it. Her eyes widened and she swallowed nervously.
“T-the keys?” He nodded, and had she been flying, she would have begun a downward spiral. This isn’t happening...this is too...it just can’t be happening...
A darker shade of red than an apple, she stepped up beside the Champion and very hesitantly sat her hand lightly on his hip, just above the opening to his pocket. Her heart beat was accelerating, and she gulped down her nervousness again before beginning to slip her hand into his pocket.
His voice immediately halted her movements, and her eyes jerked up to meet his. “Uh....I meant my jacket pocket, actually,” he stated, amusement flickering like a candle flame in his eyes.
Nagi turned a shade of red that was sent even Mikuri into chuckles when combined with her apologetic stutterings. W-what am I doing? I can’t believe I did that...I just assumed he meant.... Wishing she weren’t even there, the Leader dug around in his right jacket pocket, clenching her hand painfully around the bits of metal.
Avoiding the gaze of the azure-eyed man at her side, she shakily fit the key he had described to her into the lock mechanism, turning it as quickly as she could and pushing one of the heavy doors open. “Thank you, Nagi,” Mikuri stated softly as he walked past her into the foyer. The sudden presence of movement alerted the interior sensors that somebody was home, and all throughout the house, lights flickered into evidence.
Without bothering to shed his dripping jacket, Mikuri strode quickly through the house, ahead of even the automatically activated lights. As her host disappeared into the lessening darkness, Nagi closed the door behind her and looked about curiously. She had been in Mikuri’s previous home on several little known occasions, and his new one certainly held the same touch as his first. Light blue and white accented the walls. The carpet was a beautifully clean cream color, unmarred by mud or any other less than desirable substance. Murals of the previous Pokemon League Champions adorned the walls of the foyer, each lit by a small lighting unit below the painting.
The newest, a grand painting of Mikuri himself, sat directly across from the door, a red velvet curtain hanging decoratively around it. She stepped closer to the wall and began removing her shoes out of habit. After she placed them beside the door and stood back up, level with the portrait, a small smile crossed her face, and her right hand rose to the painting, alighting briefly on his painted cheek.
She jerked her hand away as she heard the true version of the artistically rendered man call out curiously for her. Her face, beginning to return to its normal color, resumed the sakura blush of moments ago and she hurried out into the living room, gazing around for where Mikuri’s voice might have come from. “You realize I have no clue where you are, right?”
His following chuckle did little to help her locate him. She rolled her eyes and carefully traversed the plush carpet, trying in vain not to let her jacket drip on the floor. There hadn’t appeared to have been a closet or coat-rack to deposit it at. She poked her head into a doorway and smiled in relief as she found the bathroom. Committing its location to memory, she walked a little ways further down the wall and looked into the next doorway.
The glare of fluorescent lighting on linoleum greeted her, and according to the smell of citrus cleaning agents, she decided she had found the kitchen. “Oh, there you are,” Mikuri stated benignly from beside her, out of her line of sight. He stepped out from behind a large cabinet, several bowls and pans in his hands.
Nagi raised a hand to her chest, glaring at him in mock anger and surprise. “So help me, the next time you scare me like that...” She let the threat hang in the air, and after a moment, both laughed lightly.
Mikuri sat the various containers on one of the counters and picked up his rather soaked jacket from the back of a stool at the bar. “Would you like me to take your coat, Nagi?”
She nodded hurriedly and dug through her pocket, pulling Chirutarisu’s Pokeball out before shrugging out of the now heavy with water coat.
“Thank you.” She looked down at herself as he took her coat and hung it over his arm atop his own. Much to her dismay, her pants were as soaked as her coat, not that it was surprising. She noticed after a quick glance that her host’s were as well,
The violet-haired young woman looked up at him, catching his eye again, and blushed slightly at seeing that just as she had been watching him, he had been watching her. “Would you like me to take your flight cap and goggles as well?”
She slipped the dark blue material from her head, releasing yet more of her violet hair. As she dropped the cap thankfully into Mikuri’s waiting hand, she flicked a few newly loose stands of hair from before her eyes. “Thank you.”
He jerked his head towards the living room as he strode out the doorway, indicating for her to follow him. She followed him, trying to avoid watching him, instead looking at the walls and the floor with forced curiosity. He stopped briefly and Nagi looked up at him. He gestured at a stairway she hadn’t noticed initially due to its angle from the entrance. “There’s a rather nice bath annexed off of my room if you’d like to take one before supper.” He smiled apologetically. “I’m afraid it may take a little while.”
Nagi nodded, then stopped, frowning slightly. “No, I can’t. I don’t have any extra clothes to change into.” And a bath sounds SO nice too... She smiled kindly at him. “Thank you anyway tho-“
“I’ll find something of mine you can wear then,” Mikuri stated easily, already going through his stock of extra sweatpants and t-shirts, trying to remember if there were any that might fit her smaller figure.
The woman shook her head, laughing slightly “No, I can’t do that either. People would get the wrong idea when I go back to Hiwamaki tonight.” Mentally, she sighed. Yeah, the wrong idea...
Sensing her change of mood, Mikuri cocked his head curiously, but brushed past her and tugged on one of the cords holding the heavy royal blue curtains closed. They slid noisily open, and light flashed through the room, seeming to be timed perfectly with the point Mikuri wished to make. “You haven’t been hearing the thunder?”
Sure enough, lightning flashed across the sky once more, burning a temporary line across Nagi’s sight. She became suddenly aware of thunder rumbling in the distance and the sound of rain drumming steadily against the window, giving evidence to just how deep in thought she had been.
“I...I guess I haven’t.” She frowned into the rainy night sky, crossing her arms across her chest. After a moment of silence, she became more aware of his presence beside her. He seemed to be waiting, hesitating on something.
She looked up at him, and as she had expected, his face displayed a great deal of hesitation, wondering if what he was doing was permissible. “If you’d like, you may stay here for the night, Nagi.” Before she could respond, he raised his hands in a defensive manner of sorts, “but I’d understand if you’d rather not. I won’t have you flying in that, but I’ll pay for a hotel if you’d rather...”