On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to meeee... a Christmas Contestshipping fic!
No, I can't be bothered to do the rest of the song. Aren't you glad?
Anyway, I bashed this out between 2.00 and 6.00 am this morning - please be kind. Rated PG to be on the safe side, but it's practically a G, really. It should be fine for anyone over seven - that is, if they can deal with excessive amounts of shameless fluff. Haters of sap may want to look elsewhere. ^^; For anyone who reads it, though, I hope you enjoy, and I would appreciate any concrit, positive or negative, that you may want to give. Or squealing praise or curse-ridden flames, for that matter. ^_^ *am a comment- ...shouldn't use that word in a PG fanfic*
(edited mid-July to tidy up a few phrases)
As soon as he walked through the doors, Drew remembered why he never stayed in Pokémon Centres.
It was Christmas Eve, and it showed. Paper chains criss-crossed the ceiling and sprigs of mistletoe hung all around, waiting to humiliate innocent bystanders. Drew side-stepped one just as a teenage girl standing nearby gave it a hopeful glance. The tree beside the reception desk was wedged in so that its top was bent in half by the ceiling; it was surrounded by a carpet of rotting needles, and looked as though it had been decorated by a deranged tinsel-fetishist. The Centre's Nurse Joy had to wrestle past it to get to her desk. By the look on her face, she was as fond of the thing as Drew was.
He glanced around the lobby, and wrinkled his nose. Who told them that was a good colour? The walls were covered in lurid decorations; the one that caught Drew's eye was a distressing orange and shaped like a foetus. The plaque underneath it identified it as a Solrock, and told him that it was a gift to the Pokémon Centre from the children of the local orphanage, as a thank-you for the money they had raised. Drew mentally swore off charity for life.
Remembering his reason for coming here, he shook off his horror at the appalling décor and headed towards the other end of the room. Along the way, he had to dodge a gaggle of Pidgey in little hats, a group of red-faced trainers who broke into a song about Stantler as he passed, and three Chanseys holding trays of mulled wine. Probably a plan to get us all drunk so nobody sues for crimes against good taste. Drew craned his neck and peered into the dark corners at the back. There was no sign of her. His shoulders slumped. If she'd already gone to bed, then he'd come into this ghastly place for nothing.
At that moment, a gap opened up in the crowd, and Drew caught a glimpse of brown hair. He stopped dead and double-checked - sure enough, there she was. She was sitting in one of the armchairs in front of the fireplace, eyes half-closed, an empty glass in one hand. Her face glowed in the light from the flames.
Drew smiled. He squeezed through the crowd, dodging more mistletoe, and leaned on the arm of her chair. She didn't notice him; her head was lolling back and her glass looked about to slip from her hand.
"I always pegged you as the type who sleeps with her mouth open," he said.
May jerked upright. Drew caught her glass just as she dropped it. She gasped and stared at him, her eyes reflecting the fire.
"Drew? What are you doing here?" she blurted.
Drew flicked his hair. "Nice to see you, too."
"No - I mean -" May clamped a hand over her mouth. Her entire face scrunched as she yawned. "I just didn't expect to see you in a - a - a - Pokémon Centre."
"Hmm. Neither did I." Drew cast a look over his shoulder. The singing trainers had moved onto an off-key rendition of Frosty the Snowman. "You know that time we nearly drowned?"
"This is scarier."
May giggled. "I like it in here. It's all warm and happy."
Drew peered into her glass. "What have they been letting you drink?"
May snatched it off him. "I wouldn't expect you to understand."
For once, she didn't sound mad. Whether she thought he was funny or she was just too tired to get angry, Drew wasn't sure. She rearranged herself in her chair with her legs tucked under her so that she could look at him properly. He thought she resembled a sleepy kitten, all curled up.
"What's wrong with all this, anyway?" She waved a hand at the room.
Drew gave her a look. "If you need to ask, there's no point in me even explaining."
"You're such a snob." May arched her back as she stretched and yawned again. "If you hate this so much, why are you here?"
Drew grinned to himself. He sat on the arm of the chair.
"I was looking for you."
It might have only been a trick of the firelight, but May's cheeks looked a tiny bit redder.
"Really? What for?"
"It's Christmas, isn't it?" Drew reached into his pocket and drew out a Pokéball. "I got you something."
May's tiredness seemed to evaporate in an instant. She sat bolt upright, her mouth falling open.
"You didn't -" she breathed.
Drew held out the present. May's face was now unmistakeably pink. She took the Pokéball from him without a word. Her fingers brushed against his for a split-second; he could feel his skin tingling where they'd touched. She sat with his gift cradled in her hands, looking at it as though too embarrassed to accept it.
Drew rolled his eyes. "You want it to die of boredom in there?" He leaned over and tapped it; May flinched back as a burst of red light poured out and solidified into a small blue Pokémon.
"Wy, wy!" it said.
May blushed crimson. "Drew!" she gasped. "You - it's a - but how did -"
Drew sat back, trying his hardest to suppress a grin. He'd known she'd be impressed.
"It was nothing," he drawled.
May seemed overcome. She beamed at him, her eyes slightly watery, and mumbled something that sounded like, "'nk-you". Reaching down, she picked up the Wynaut and cuddled it in her lap.
"But they're so rare - where'd you get it?"
"My sister gave it to me. She's a breeder and last month she got a pair of Wobbuffet."
"Oh, Drew," May said again. Suddenly, a troubled look came over her face. "But I didn't get you anything," she said.
Drew tried to look as though he went around dispensing flashy presents all the time. "No need. Just promise me you'll use it in a contest."
"Of course I will!"
Drew smirked and flicked his hair. "Great. Then, every time you win anything, you can remember that you only did it because of me."
May's smile vanished. Drew held in a laugh and waited for the tirade to begin. He wasn't disappointed.
"WHAT? That's why you got me this?" A rush of angry red surged into May's cheeks. "You are so unbelievable! I should have remembered you'd only care about making yourself look better than me!"
Drew gave her a patronising smile. "Hey, don't feel bad, it's only been two years. And I've got to take some of the blame - it's not like I need to keep on proving that I can look better than you -"
May jumped to her feet, clutching the Wynaut in her arms. "Every time I start to think you can be a nice guy, you go and remind me that really you're just a big jerk! I'm going to bed - goodbye!"
She spun on her heel and began to walk away. Drew gave up his attempt not to laugh, and caught her arm. She made a noise of outrage and tried to pull away, but was hindered by having to hold onto Wynaut. Eventually she stopped struggling and glared at him, her hair falling around her face. Drew loved how she looked when she was angry.
"Calm down, already, you'll frighten Wynaut," he said. "At least let it have a few days of happiness before it realises its trainer is a nutcase."
May "hmmmph!"-ed loudly. "You mean you didn't tell it on the way up here just what a rotten co-ordinator I am?"
"For your information, I told it you were one of the best co-ordinators I know."
It took a moment for May's brain to catch up with her ears. She was left standing with her mouth hanging open, lips framing the beginning of a hurled insult.
"Oh," she said at last, in a small voice.
There was a long silence. Drew let go of May; she didn't move away. She stared at the ground, holding Wynaut higher up as though wishing to hide her face. In a rare moment of empathy, Drew suddenly felt rather foolish. He searched for something to say, but nothing came to mind. He was beginning to wish he hadn't said it, had just kept on needling her until she stormed off to bed.
Eventually, not looking at him, May lowered herself back into the chair. Wynaut flopped in her lap, apparently oblivious to the fight that had just narrowly been avoided. Drew shifted from one foot to the other.
"Did you really tell it that?" May said abruptly. Her forehead was creased.
Drew hesitated. The honest answer was 'no'; he hadn't told Wynaut that, because why would he need to? Any Pokémon that spent time with May had to know how dedicated she was, how her love for her profession shone through in everything she did. It would be like telling it that water was wet.
"Kinda," he said at last. 'Kinda'? What the hell?
May began to scuff the carpet with the toe of her sneaker. Drew leaned against her chair again and gazed into the fire. For a long time, the only sounds were Wynaut's breathing and the occasional crackle as a spark went up. He had started to think May had dozed off, when without warning, she spoke.
"That means a lot to me." She turned around to look into his face, her expression unusually solemn. "Really, it does."
It occurred to Drew that they were having A Moment. This meant that he probably shouldn't ruin it. After consideration, he decided that he just couldn't resist.
"Don't get me wrong - when I say 'one of the best', I mean, you're still a long way below me.”
May gave him a look. "Yeah, well, I'm sure you can tell my Wynaut all about that when it's kicking your butt in the next contest." She turned her head to yawn again. "And I really need to go to bed."
Drew didn't stop to think. On reflex, he reached out and caught her shoulder. May froze in the act of rising.
"You didn't get me a present."
He hadn't even known the words were going to come out. May sunk back down.
Drew knew he was blundering down what could prove a dangerous path. "I'm just saying, fair's fair," he said, trying to sound casual. "I got you something - least you can do is come up with something for me before you leave tomorrow."
A host of emotions chased each other over May's face. Drew noticed her eyes flick upwards and then look away just as quickly, blushing. He glanced at the ceiling above them and remembered the mistletoe. There was none in this part of the room, but it hovered in his mind, impossible to get away from. Wynaut keened in protest as May shifted in her seat.
The noise of the crowd seemed muted, now. Even the singers had quieted down. Although Drew knew they were only separated by the back of May's chair, he couldn't help feeling as though they were in fact part of another world entirely. He and May were sitting in their own private pool of firelight. He looked back at May, and the lights dancing in her hair, and wondered if his terror and anticipation was anything close to what she was feeling. Her head was tipped very slightly to the side. When he leaned towards her, she drew a tiny gasp and sat up straighter.
Heart thumping, Drew bent down and felt the sudden warmth as his face grew close to hers, and then her lips were brushing his, soft as a breath, almost too insubstantial to be real. He had to reach up to make sure she was solid and not a ghost he'd conjured up out of loneliness. Her hair was soft under his fingers.
Too quickly, it was over. May pulled away, drew her knees up and huddled in the corner of the chair, her arms wrapped around Wynaut. The little Drew could see of her face was scarlet. He couldn't make out her expression. He straightened up and began to fiddle with a frayed thread. He had no idea how that would help anything, but he couldn't think what else to do.
When he chanced another glance at May, she was touching her lips with her fingertips. To his relief, he saw that she was smiling. She looked at him and grinned, like a guilty school kid.
"Gotta go to bed," she said, getting to her feet. "'Night, Drew."
Just as she reached the edge of the circle of light from the fire, May stopped and turned around. "Oh, yeah - Merry Christmas."
With a wave, she began to wriggle her way through the crowds still milling about the Pokémon Centre. Drew watched her go.
Once she was out of sight, he looked at the clock above the hearth. It was a few minutes past midnight. Now that he stopped and listened, everyone was calling out, "Merry Christmas!" and swigging down eggnog. He hadn't even heard the chimes.
"Merry Christmas!" An old man with half his teeth missing stumbled over and slapped Drew on the back. "Did you get what you wanted?"
The man staggered off to greet some other stranger before Drew could answer. Grinning to himself, he sat down in the chair May had vacated, and stared into the fire until it blurred and darkness settled in under his eyelids. An hour later, he was woken up by an irate Nurse Joy ordering him to go to bed. He let her push him upstairs without protest.
As he fell asleep on a lumpy mattress and maroon sheets, surrounded by orange wallpaper and feeling more satisfied than on any other Christmas in his life, he reflected that there was perhaps after all some good to be said of Pokémon Centres.