Water Stones and Sapphires

Pairings: Steven/May, slight May/Drew and Brendan/May in later chapters
Beta: None, and for some reasons, I'd prefer to keep it that way
Dedication: Anyone who thinks Steven Stone is the hottest Pokemon character ever
Genre: Romance/Mystery
Disclaimer: Galbinus-Rayquaza does not own Pokemon, though she wishes she does.
Warning: Huge amounts of fluff and sappiness. Potential character deaths. An actual plot that will manifest later on in the story. Badly written prose. Pokemon may not show up a lot.

Chapter One : Footprints

THE SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD May Maple inhaled a lungful of fresh winter air, exhaling exuberantly and watching her chalky breath puff out in roiling clouds of moist air. The biting cold wind slapped her face, and the brunette tightened the knot on her wool cardinal scarf, amplifying the itching sensation in her neck, which she valiantly ignored.

Stepping down the flight of stairs, careful not to trip over her feet, May proceeded down the sidewalk, her cerulean eyes flickering over the white, snow-covered landscape. Soft snowflakes swirled down from the heavens, landing silently on the ground and on May. She smiled as the ivory celestial flecks gradually accumulated on the tip of her nose and long eyelashes, feeling as if the snow were offering her some sort of protection against reality.

Needless to say, May always loved snow. She had set off on her walk with the main intention of building a snow Pokemon, but now, as she eyeballed the flawless blanket of icy white snow that covered the land in front of herself, May decided to leave the snow as it were and simply continue her walk.

Her footsteps were muffled by the snow, and the bottom of her dark brown boots left shoe-shaped imprints on the ground underneath her feet.

On a whim, May veered off the sidewalk and trotted down the empty road, though she still checked her left and right to make sure that no cars were approaching. None were. She decided that, since it was such a lovely day, she should take advantage of it and take a little stroll in the park.

Ten minutes later, May was stepping through the iron-wrought gates of Petalburg City Park, ambling amiably through the snow-covered main path. Flowerbeds, coated in white, flanked either side of the girl. The sun steadily rose into the sky, illuminating all under its sunny glare a blinding yellow. May squinted to prevent herself from being temporarily blinded by the sunlight that reflected off the untarnished surfaces of the snow.

As the early morning faded into day, the children of Petalburg began filling up the park, trampling the snow and upsetting the perfect winter landscape. May cocked her head to one side at the children's actions, forcing herself not to chastise them from running all over the snow-covered lawn. It was not her place, and May was not the best at criticisms and other adult habits. In fact, if it weren't for the occasional parent chaperones that dotted the largely juvenile crowd, May might've leapt straight into the snowball fights.

She missed being a kid.

May found a bench and seated herself, wringing her carmine gloves. She dug around in her yellow fanny pack, which she kept tied around her long scarlet waistcoat-windbreaker, and pulled out her Blaziken's Pokeball. Wrapping her hands around the round capsule, May shuddered as warmth seeped from the Pokeball into her bare fingertips and up her arms.

Glancing towards the group of children garbed in fat coats throwing snowballs at each other, May grumbled, "What the heck," to herself and stuffed her Blaziken's Pokeball back inside her fanny pack. She heard the Blaze Pokemon utter a distinct squawk, but didn't really care.

"Hey! You there! Can I play?" May cried, waving her arms at an authoritarian-looking yellow-haired boy who was in the middle of scooping a snowball from the ground. He paused and turned around; when he saw that May was the one who had called out, his childish features resumed a quizzical and confused expression—why did an 'adult' want to dabble in such child play?

Obviously, however, the blond boy didn't mind earning another asset to his 'team'—for the children had divided themselves into two perceptible groups—and beckoned with a mitten-wearing hand for May to join them. Eagerly, the brown-haired Coordinator jumped off of the bench and darted towards the group of children.

Laughing, she grabbed a fistful of pliable snow from the ground and began mashing it into a spherical shape, leaning to the far right to dodge a snowball thrown at her unguarded face by a chubby dark-haired girl. "Is that how it is, then?" She chuckled under her breath, sharp eyes relocating the round figure of the girl who had thrown the snowball at her.

May fired her own cold projectile at the girl, who had to swerve wildly to avoid being hit. Getting the hang of the game, May grabbed another handful of snow from the ground and quickly packed it into a ball, firing it at a nearby boy. The snowball caught the boy square in the back, and he toppled forwards, nearly falling into the ground. Hoping that she didn't severely hurt the boy, May began walking forwards to see if he was all right, but the boy whipped around and threw a snowball at her.

It hit May right in the kisser. Letting out an involuntary yelp of pain and embarrassment, she flushed a red reminiscent of her bandana, which she wore year-round, and scooped up another ball of snow from the ground, retaliating by throwing it at the boy again. She missed splendidly, and ended up earning a few giggles from nearby children. Feeling somewhat humiliated, anger flared inside of May, and out of pure spite, she began scooping up another snowball—

"Excuse me, miss, but are you having a snowball fight with these children?" A deep masculine voice behind May asked.

She dropped her snowball in shock.

Whirling around, May found herself facing a tall man, looking of age no older than thirty, with handsome features. His soft gray hair was sprawled across his forehead, and parts of it stuck up in natural tufts. As for his apparel, he was garbed in a flowing light-blue cloak that concealed what he was really wearing. It somewhat resembled a toga. What really captivated May's attention, however, were his alluring silver eyes—they resembled tiny full moons on a cloudless night; which was saying something, since May was not exactly the most poetic of people.

"Ye. . . Ye. . . Yeah," May spluttered nervously, grinding her snowball with the heel of her right boot, hoping that the man would not judge her based on her immature behavior. Oh dear Arceus, he looked like a cross between an Abercrombie model and. . . and a. . . a god of. . . attractiveness. The shade of red on May's face now greatly resembled her own bandana's color.

To her surprise, the man merely chuckled. May hadn't known that a man's voice could sound so melodic. "Wow."

Wow? Wow? Was that a good wow, or a bad wow? May also hadn't known that such a trivial and mundane word could boggle her so.

"You're braver than a lot of people that I've met," The gray-haired man finally said after an awkward silence of a few seconds. May assumed that they might've looked a little weird—two figures juxtaposed against the other, one lean and masculine and the other curvy and feminine—and she wondered if it was a 'good' weird or a 'bad' weird. Then her mind snapped back to what he was saying, and subconsciously her jaw unhinged in amazement.

"Oh, uh, thanks," May choked out. Her blush, which had gradually faded, was now returning in full bloom. "Um. . . so. . . I'm May Maple." She stuck her semi-gloved right hand out, hoping desperately that the man would shake it. To her immense relief, he did. His grip was firm but not ridiculously so—just the right type of firm, and was also pleasingly warm.

"I'm Steven Stone," He said after withdrawing his hand. "It's a pleasure to meet your acquaintance, Miss Maple."

Steven Stone. . . to May, it sounded the epitome of flawless alliteration, and oddly familiar for some strange reason. Realizing then that she must look a bit like an idiot gawking at him in the middle of a snowy park, May hurriedly replied, "You too, Mr. Stone. But please, call me May."

He laughed again. Again May was struck by how musical a man's voice could sound. "All right then, May. Please call me Steven. . . I get Mr. Stone too much for it to be healthy." Steven said genially, "How do you do, May?"

"I'm—I'm just dandy," May said, fidgeting with the hems of her waistcoat. Oh, now she sounded like an old woman. Just great. "And—and you?"

"I'm all right," Steven answered. "Simply enjoying a, ah, little stroll in the park." A pause. "What brings you here, May?"

"Well. . . I was just taking a walk, too." May said lamely, by way of reply. She hoped that she didn't sound as unintelligent as she thought she sound. And to think she managed to scrape a Ribbon Cup, as well. On a stroke of daring, she suddenly blurted out, "So do you want to walk with me?"

Steven hesitated for a moment, but said, "Sure."

May didn't know that a simple word could make her feel so happy.

- - -

THE TWO COULD NOT HAVE walked for more than thirty minutes, though the time seemed to sprawl infinitely for May. She hadn't expected that such a studious-looking man could be so entertaining. Despite herself, she laughed at least four or five times during their stroll though Petalburg Park. Nobody had had this effect on her for a long while.

She learned that Steven liked rock music, trained steel-type Pokemon, and was a rather popular Trainer ten years ago, but lost his popularity when he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to soul-searching and looking for rare stones in caves after a particularly stinging defeat by a young, black-haired Trainer. Steven was thirty, ambidextrous, and (thankfully, blissfully, wonderfully) single. His favorite color was blue. He was the son of the owner of the wealthy Devon Corporation. He said he thought May looked oddly familiar.

In return, May told her quite a bit about herself. She was seventeen, liked classical music, trained all types of Pokemon, was a semi-popular Coordinator, hadn't properly battled for some months after a crushing defeat under her long-time rival Drew, never had a proper boyfriend, was the daughter of the Petalburg Gym Leader, Norman Maple, and, she added, was also single. Her favorite color was red; she disliked green and grass Pokemon in general, though she did make a few exceptions, and was right handed.

May never knew that she could enjoy the presence of someone she hadn't even met for an hour so much. She also hadn't known that she could warm up so well to a stranger—and though she knew that perhaps her actions were not the wisest, there was just something about Steven that made her able to trust him easily. The brown-haired Coordinator learned a lot of things that morning.

"Daughter of Norman? Hm." Steven mused, rubbing his pointed chin. May, who had been wondering how she could state that they were both single without sounding like she was hitting on him, looked towards him, arching a thin quizzical eyebrow. "I knew Norman."

"You did?" May said, somewhat taken aback. Her father, usually quite isolated from other Trainers, didn't seem quite like the type to chat with people like Steven, though now she wished he did.

"Yes. . . not very well, though. Quiet man, isn't he, your father," Steven stated contemplatively. It was more of a statement than a question. "Perhaps that was why I never got to know him better. Hmm. . . he's a good friend of Professor Birch, isn't he?"

Now that was a question, and it looked as if their conversation was not going to proceed any further if May didn't reply. However, May didn't know the whole, truthful answer, though she attempted her best to answer his question with tact. "Um. . . well, he mentioned that he was best friends with Prof Birch when he was young, but they had a bit of a falling out when I was five."

"Ah. I see. Do you happen to know Brendan Birch?"

May glanced up at Steven. His face was indecipherable, the perfect cross between cool indifference and piqued curiosity, if that was possible—May wished she were able to determine which one of these two emotions were faked, though. She vaguely wondered why he cared, but thinking about stuff had never been her strongest attribute. "Well, no. . . I didn't even know that he existed until I heard that he placed first in this year's Sinnoh League. Actually. . . I never had any childhood friends. Well, there was Wally, but after a few visits his mom said we couldn't meet anymore because he was too sick. . . and there was this one boy. . . he—he. . ." May suddenly found herself unable to continue.

Steven's eyebrows disappeared into his mass of gray hair. "What boy?" Then, before May could reply, he added quickly, "No, don't tell me. It's not my business to pry into your affairs."

"Mmm." Was all May could say. She was glad that he didn't press, because that particular part of her past was one she never wanted to revisit.

He pulled to an abrupt stop. May tore her gaze off of Steven's angular face to glance at where they were. She noted morosely that they were back where they had started. The children were still there, throwing snowballs at one another and, though they were cherry-faced, didn't show any sign of stopping in their game. Any desire May had felt previous to her and Steven's walk to join them had long since died out, replaced by a maddening desire to simply bask in the presence of the gray-haired man.

"Well, May, I guess we should stop here," Steven said. Though his words were courteous, they rung with a definite finality, and though May hated to bid farewell to Steven, the moment had come.

Steven turned his back to May, striding off in the opposite direction. However, before he had moved a few meters, he stopped and began walking back towards her. May's spirits escalated.

"It was nice meeting you, May, really very nice," Steven began, "I hope that we do meet again. Here, take my business card." He flicked away his periwinkle cloak long enough to reveal a sleek black tuxedo underneath and for him to dig out a gleaming white card from his shirt pocket. May caught it when he tossed it to her.

She looked at the card.

Steven Stone
Geologist
815514143 Magenta Road, Mossdeep City

"Goodbye, May." Steven whispered, placing his right hand on May's left cheek. She shuddered at the warmth of the contact. Then, with a whish of his cape, he was gone, and all that was left of him were his footprints.

Author's Notes:

Don't say I didn't try to warn you of the incredible sappiness of it all.

I really hope that you liked this story, because I spent a ridiculous amount of time churning out this chapter, even though it's only half as long as my other stories' chapters. Please take the time to leave a review.

Hoennchampionshipping forever!