The Search for the Perfect Christmas
Rated PG-13 for yuri
Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon… I keep trying every year though.
Author's notes: My good friend Orion has a rare, yet very cute OTP, Pinkflowershipping, aka Erika x Akane, aka Erika x Whitney. He asked his friends to help fill the world with more of his OTP, and I said I would write some by Christmas…so I did! This is based in the anime-verse, since it's the one I have the most experience with and feel most comfortable writing in. Orion, I do hope you enjoy this fic. It's all for you!
Flames do nothing but make me laugh, although I'll listen to any CC you have. Please read, review, and enjoy! Finished 12-05-08
There was one time of year when Kogane City's populous slowed down from its typical hustle and bustle and remembered that there was more to life than radio shows, fast trains, and Pokémon battles…Christmas time. It did not, however, hurt the city's commerce. A light snow had fallen over night and that day the city was covered in a wispy layer of powdery white fluff, but that didn't stop anyone from going out to shop for gifts. It was only four days until the holiday, and the stragglers wouldn't be stopped by a blizzard at that point.
That was why the city's gym had shut down for the day, while a certain pink-haired teenager flitted around the city in her fuzzy pink and white coat with matching hat and mittens, desperately searching for something. Something perfect. Something that there was no chance in the world her girlfriend could possibly have already. She'd spent the last three days looking, but to no avail. After all, Erika had quite a bit of money, what with owning a perfume shop, running a greenhouse, and being a gym leader. And Tamamushi City wasn't much smaller than Kogane… Still, Akane was determined to find the perfect Christmas gift for her princess, difficult task or not.
…Now, if only she'd quit getting lost…
"I can't believe this," she sighed as she slumped against the wall of a store she'd already passed half a dozen times that day. "I've lived here for years and I still can't find my way around!"
The frustrated girl screwed her eyes shut to keep herself from crying and took a deep breath to calm herself, knowing there was no way she could remember which way to go if she kept running around frantically, and especially not if she started bawling. She would find the perfect present once she found the store and all her worrying would be for nothing. She just needed to stay optimistic.
"Okay!" she exclaimed with a smile, her typical enthusiasm returning just as quickly as it had slipped away. "I'm gonna go this way, I'm gonna find a store, and I'm gonna buy a present! Nothing can stop me now!"
Her red eyes burned with determination as she pushed herself from the wall and turned a corner. Left, right, right, left, right, left, left, left, and then…
"I found it!" she cheered! "And it only took me three hours! I'm getting good!" Impervious to the stares she was receiving from the other shoppers, she entered the small boutique, a wide grin on her pretty face. This was the most exclusive shop in the entire city, not to mention the most expensive. She'd left it for last for a reason…but she was desperate at this point. She was taking the Magnet Train to Yamabuki City the next afternoon and would arrive by nightfall. She'd spend the night at a hotel, then arrive in Tamamushi City the next day. Christmas was two days after that; if she didn't get a present today, it would be very difficult to get one at all. Therefore, expensive or not, she'd pay all she had to get Erika the best Christmas gift ever.
The boutique's interior was…stuffy. A thick odor of perfume hung in the air, and not the good kind like Erika made with flowers and her Kusaihana. No…the artificial kind. Akane didn't like it, but she tolerated it as she moved further into the boutique. Everything was very elegant at least, just as her girlfriend liked. The first thing that caught her eye was a lovely pair of red silken slipper. Oh, the thought of Erika wearing them on her tiny feet was divine! …They did look familiar though…
'She…has these in green...and yellow. Oh well. Oh, what's that?'
"Excuse me miss…" Akane looked up from the silken fineries to see the sales clerk…and no one else. She guessed she'd been there longer than she thought. But surely she still had plenty of ti— "We're closing now. I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave."
Akane couldn't believe her ears. Leave? She…she couldn't leave yet! She hadn't found anything Erika would like that she didn't own yet!
"Miss? I'm terribly sorry, but I've already let you stay fifteen minutes past closing time…"
"It's okay," Akane said softly, not able to believe this was happening. "I'll be going now…"
She ignored the further apologies as she left the boutique, the door shutting behind her with a loud thud. Indeed, it was dark out now, with the street lamps fully lit by that point. The temperature had dropped as well, making her shove her hands in her pockets to keep them warm. She walked slowly down the streets, barely realizing when a soft snowfall began. Amazingly, she didn't make any wrong turns as she made her way back towards her home next to the gym.
The click of the key unlocking the door sounding very loud in the midst of the snow and twilight. Akane didn't bother to turn on the lights as she relocked it and began removing her winter clothing, the moonlight streaming through the windows being her only source of illumination. Only one thought ran through her mind: I failed. I have nothing for Erika, the love of my life. I failed…
Tears welled up in her eyes despite her every intention to stop them. It didn't matter; she felt terrible. She'd only had one mission, and she couldn't even do that right. Never before in her life had she felt more useless…
Sinking to the floor, alone and miserable, she began to sob.
Akane smiled at the children who kept looking back at her from their seats, wondering if she was really the gym leader they were too young to challenge yet. No doubt she'd be facing them once they turned ten… But despite her smile, inside she felt like doing anything but smile. She'd cried herself to sleep right there on the floor and woken up with a horrible crick in her neck… Not to mention since she hadn't set an alarm, she was late and had to rush to change, grab her suitcase, and make it to the train station in time. She had…with five minutes to spare.
Now she'd been up for only two hours, spent one of them on a train, had an aching neck, and still couldn't believe she was headed for Kanto without a Christmas present for Erika. She'd calmed down a bit though, knowing she still had that day once she arrived in Yamabuki, and she could always look around Tamamushi before heading to Erika's house… She still had a chance.
"Excuse me passengers…" Akane's heart sped up as the intercom came on…and the train slowed down. No…no, no, no! This couldn't be happening! "We apologize, but there has been a problem with the electricity on board. We're facing an hour delay while our engineers attempt to isolate and fix the problem. We're terribly sorry for any problems this may pose. Thank you for choosing the Magnet Train!"
Resisting the urge to bash her head against the window, Akane swore she'd take the S.S. Aqua next time.
By the time the Magnet Train finally got up and running, three hours had gone by. Akane arrived at the hotel long enough to check into her hotel, eat a quick dinner, and get to one shop before everything began closing for the night. She didn't find anything, but it was okay. If she left early in the morning, she could get to Tamamushi in little under an hour and spend the morning looking for a present there before meeting Erika at noon.
…That had been the plan at least. But Akane's plans hadn't been going well that week.
"E-Erika! What are you doing here?!"
Erika was only a year older than Akane, but when she had that disapproving look on her face, she looked much older…and pretty intimidating too. Akane gulped and tried again.
"I mean, Erika, I'm so glad to see you! I missed you so much!" Erika laughed as she found herself with an armful of pink. Peeking up, Akane was glad to see her girlfriend was smiling warmly.
"I missed you too. That's why I decided to head out and meet you part way here. It looks like I had perfect timing." Akane laughed nervously, torn between being ecstatic to see her girlfriend earlier than planned and devastated that she was missing her chance yet again.
"O-oh yeah, completely perfect! Of course, you always do everything perfectly!" It wasn't a lie—not in Akane's eyes, never—and Erika's smile grew at the younger girl's sweetness.
"Thank you dearest. Now let us go. We'll drop your things off at my home, and then I want to show you my favorite boutique. They're having a pre-Christmas sale that I simply must see! …If that's fine with you of course." It was as if the heavens had opened up and shown down upon her. Maybe this would be her lucky day!
"Sure, that sounds great, let's go!" With one hand holding her suitcase and the other in Erika's delicate hand, they headed to Erika's house…and Akane's last chance.
"Oh dear, I already own so much of this…"
Akane was ready to scream, that was how frustrated she was. How many expensive multi-regional boutique chains were there? Obviously one at least, because despite the fact she was in another region all together, she had definitely just been in this little shop. She looked around all the same, on the off chance there might be something Erika didn't already have in this one…
"Ah! Isn't this exquisite!" And that was when she saw it. A beautiful blue satin kimono, a silver print of various elegant Pokémon embossed upon it. It was gorgeous, it was stunning, and as something new caught Erika's eye and Akane was able to get closer, she saw…that it was worth a month's salary.
Nevertheless, it was perfect and completely worth spending all of her extra money on.
With Erika in the back of the boutique, she slipped into stealth mode and, to the best of her ability, tiptoed to the cash register. She grabbed a random, cheap bauble from a nearby display for safety and had the woman working there ring her purchases up. The size of the price tag made her shutter, but she just kept thinking of how happy her girlfriend would be…and everything seemed completely worth it.
"…What did you buy?" Akane jumped at the sudden voice behind her and spun around. Erika was looking at her with an expression of the utmost confusion, forcing Akane to play it cool… Which failed miserable, so she just giggled nervously instead.
"Oh, haha, um… Well, I just saw this cute little figurine on sale that I just had to have. See?" Reaching down into the bag, she pulled the ornament up, hoping that Erika couldn't tell there was anything else in it… And luckily for her, the other girl was far too confused to even notice.
"I… I didn't know you liked bug Pokémon…" Looking at the figurine she'd just held up, she had to make a conscious effort not to groan. Great, now Erika thought she loved Ariados… She made a mental note to give it to Tsukushi the next time she saw him. "Well…if you're done, let's get back, shall we?"
The younger girl was only too happy to agree. She'd finally found her perfect present… Now she could focus on spending some quality time with her girlfriend.
The remainder of the Christmas countdown saw the lovers baking cookies, decorating a tree, sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace… The gym and perfume shop were closed, and they spent their every waking—and sleeping—moment together. Akane had only found time to wrap the present while Erika was in the bathroom! She didn't mind though, not one bit. It would be a while before they'd get to spend this much time together again, and they weren't about to waste it.
The closer it got to Christmas, the sadder part of Akane got…she'd be going home the day after. And yet, the image of Erika's smiling face when she opened her Christmas present kept her going. She was just so excited! So excited, in fact, that once the day finally arrived…
"Erika! Er-i-ka! Get up get up get up! It's Christmas!" While Akane bounced up and down on the bed in her pajamas, Erika merely glanced at the clock, saw it was five in the morning, and rolled back over.
This was not enough to deter the eager young gym leader. No, she simply bounced harder and chanted Erika's name louder. And when that didn't work…
"A-Akane, s-stop! Heehee, th-that tickles!" Akane grinned triumphantly from her spot straddling her girlfriend.
"Well, that's kinda the point… It is called tickling you know. Now, are you gonna get up, or am I gonna have to go for round two?"
"Mercy!" Erika cried with laughter in her voice. "You win, I'm getting up! You go wait downstairs and I'll come down just as soon as I'm dressed."
Akane did as she was told, too impatient to get dressed herself. Why Erika didn't like to lounge all day in her pajamas, she'd never understand. It was alright though, as it gave her time to plug in the Christmas lights and admire the view. If only Erika were there, it would be the most perfect sight she'd ever seen…
"Alright, I'm ready. We can open our presents now."
…She took that back. She took it all back. This…this wasn't perfect. It was the most terrible, horrible thing she'd ever seen in her life. Erika was wearing a blue and silver kimono…exactly like the one she had wrapped up under the Christmas tree.
"Is something wrong? You don't look very excited anymore…"
"N-no, it's nothing," she stuttered in reply, sitting down on the floor in front of the tree and plastering a smile she just didn't feel on her face. "You're right, let's start…"
While Erika didn't quite believe her girlfriend, she saw no reason to doubt her words and sat beside her on her knees. She pulled a present out from under the tree and handed it to Akane, a twinkle in her eyes.
"Go on, open it. I do hope you'll like it…" A terribly hollow feeling in her stomach, Akane peeled back the paper and came face to face with a box. A plain brown box. Curiosity temporarily took over her feelings of dread, and she pulled open the top. Within the box sat three dolls—Pippi, Nidorina, and Miltank. The plush smiled up at her with glassy eyes, and she couldn't take it anymore. She began to cry.
"Akane! Oh my, what's wrong? Don't you like them?" The poor girl set her present aside, grabbed a familiar looking gift, and shoved it in Erika's arms, weeping bitterly all the while.
"I-I l-love it! Bu-But, but…" She couldn't finish as the sobs shook her body. Seeing the present in her arms as her only hope of clarity, Erika tore the wrapping paper, only to come face to face with her own outfit.
"Oh…" Akane couldn't look at her. All she could think about was how horribly disappointed the love of her life must be at that moment. Thus, she didn't notice as Erika set the kimono aside and wrapped her arms around her. "You silly girl."
"Huh?" As she blinked bad tears, Erika chuckled softly, pulling her distraught girlfriend closer.
"Haven't you ever heard that it's the thought that counts? And it must have been a lot of thought, since this is my favorite kimono. It isn't cheap either… And really, I love it. It was the perfect gift. Thank you."
Perfect. Erika said it was…perfect.
Suddenly, Erika was the one getting hugged. She didn't mind.
That night, their last night together for a while, they sat curled up by the fire, the brightly colored lights illuminating the room. It really had been a great Christmas. Sure, it hadn't turned out quite like Akane had planned… But it seemed to her that maybe her plans weren't always the best way things could go.
"Akane…" Said girl turned her head to see her girlfriend's face, which held its typical relaxed smile.
"I have one more present I want to give you." Red eyes widened at those words. Another present?!
"B-but, I have nothing else to give you!" A giggle was her answer at first as Erika got to her feet and pulled her girlfriend up, her smile turning slightly mischievous.
"Oh, but Akane, you've already given me the perfect gift."
"I have?" Erika grabbed her hand and placed a light kiss upon it before leading her towards the stairs.
Akane had a good feeling she knew what her present was…and now it really was the most perfect Christmas ever.