"Now, I just have to add some sugar. Yeah, that should do it…"
Drew hummed determinedly, frown firm and emerald-colored eyes narrowed. He removed the spoon he had been using to stir from the mug in front of him, steam slowly rising from the redolent liquid inside, and he moved his head closer to examine it – like an alchemist delicately testing the contents of his latest potion. He pulled back, dipping his spoon into the liquid again, then bringing some of it up to his mouth and sipping it slowly.
He closed his eyes, focusing all of his attention on the taste.
A few seconds later, he opened his eyes, his frown tightening as he turned his gaze to the mug.
"Needs more sugar," he muttered, and he reached for the small container of sugar that sat on the kitchen's granite countertop beside him.
Carrying the now-finished mug of tea on a breakfast tray, Drew made his way up the stairs, taking each step carefully and keeping his eyes on the mug, making sure that the tray remained balanced in his hands. He didn't want to risk losing a single drop of the beverage; he wanted it to be perfect. If anything happened, anything at all, he would return to the kitchen and brew some more.
One of his Pokemon, Absol, followed him up the stairs, rolling his eyes at the fact that whenever he came too close to the chartreuse-haired teen, Drew would hiss and nudge him back with his foot in the act of protecting the mug of "perfect" tea – not that Absol had any intention of distorting anything. After all, he had followed his master when he had gone down and into the kitchen to make the tea in the first place, knowing very well why Drew was so tense and determined to retain immaculacy; he had known since the day began and Drew first started this job.
Though Drew had always been one for perfection, this was just plain ridiculous!
Drew breathed out a short sigh of relief when he reached the second floor of the house, appearing as if he had just traversed a minefield. Absol rolled his eyes again, but remained silent as he followed his master through a hallway and towards a room at the end. Its door was slightly ajar, the sounds of a working television flowing through the thin opening. Absol stayed back as Drew approached it, nudging it open with his shoulder, making sure to keep the breakfast tray and single mug of tea that was on it balanced as he did so. When he was able to step inside the room, Absol walked in as well.
The room was somewhat big, red-colored curtains partially enshrouding the afternoon sunlight that was bleeding in through the windows. The carpet was soft, the wallpaper matching its design, and a medium-sized television set sat on a wide table against one wall, its lit screen facing a king-sized bed with a blue comforter and sheets. Ignoring the random sounds that emitted from the working television, Drew turned towards the bed, walked over to the nightstand beside it, and carefully placed the breakfast tray on it. He then turned his eyes to the person that was laying on the bed, her bored gaze having been focused on the television until he came in.
She looked at the mug of tea, then at Drew. A frown crossed her face.
"It took you an hour to make some tea?" she said, sounding incredulous – though it had indeed been an hour since Drew departed for the kitchen to brew the beverage.
Drew snorted, crossing his arms. "You wanted tea. I made you tea."
"But shouldn't tea take a lot less time to make?"
"Only if you want it to be faulty," Drew replied, flicking a chartreuse-colored bang from his eyes in an almost arrogant manner. "This, my dear Soledad, is the best tea you're ever going to taste."
Soledad chuckled slightly, her long, pink-red-colored hair still seeming tidy despite that she had been bedridden for the last few hours. "Is that so? Well, you didn't have to have put that much effort into it, Drew. I could've just made it myself. Hell, I could've done anything you've been doing for me by myself – not that I don't appreciate that you're doing all of it, of course."
Drew shook his head, his face stern. He reached his hand forward, lightly prodding Soledad's enlarged stomach with his finger. "Not with something growing in your stomach you won't," he said firmly. "I don't want to risk something happening to you why you're around and about with that thing sucking in all of your nutrients. You're staying in this bed until that thing is born."
"A 'thing'?" Soledad repeated, rolling her eyes and placing her hand on top of her abdomen. "That's a real nice title to give it."
"That's what it is!"
"It's a child, Drew."
Drew humphed. "Anything whose creation involves Harley is more like a parasite."
"Be nice, Drew. You're the one who offered to take care of me."
"I just can't believe that you and Harley had…" Drew shook his head, cutting off his own sentence with a groan of disgust. "I can't believe you're even together to begin with! What you see in him I'll never know."
Soledad arched her eyebrow, her voice nonchalant: "Harley and I have been married for three years, Drew. You're still not used to it?"
"Isn't that evident?"
Soledad frowned at him, then said, "Like I mentioned before, you don't have to do this, Drew."
"And, like I mentioned before," Drew scoffed, "you're not getting out of that bed until this whole thing blows over. I may not like Harley, and you may be pregnant with his child, but I'm not going to be having you clean your own house when, right now, your health is more important to worry about."
At that, Soledad's verdigris-colored eyes grew soft. "Thanks, Drew…I mean it."
Drew waved his hand in a passing gesture. "I trust myself doing this more than I trust Harley doing it. Besides, he's out shopping for baby supplies with May, so it's not like he's going to be back anytime soon."
Ignoring her urge to defend Harley like she always had to do when Drew was around, Soledad remained silent, knowing that, like before, saying something on the matter wouldn't change anything. Drew hadn't liked Harley since day one.
"Now," Drew began, turning to Absol. "I'm going to go get started on dinner. Absol, I want you to stay with Soledad and make sure she stays alright." He turned his head to Soledad. "I want you to stay here and drink your tea. When dinner is finished, I'll bring some up to you."
"Whatever you say," Soledad said simply, returning her eyes to the television. "You are the servant of this house now, after all."
Drew, who had been making his way to the door then, stopped in place, his face falling at her words. He glared at her, and she broke out into laughter.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he sneered. "Just drink your tea."
Soledad silenced herself at that, reaching over for the mug and bringing it up to her lips, where she took an immediate sip as Drew slipped out the door. As soon as the liquid touched her tongue, though, she grimaced, emitting a grunt of repugnance. She turned her eyes to the door.
"Too much sugar!" she called out.
"Just drink it!" was the only response.
Drew stirred the contents inside of a large pot with a long, wooden spoon, turning the switch on the stove to adjust the fire that blazed beneath it. The teen turned his eyes to the cookbook that lay open beside him, scanning it determinedly while he continued mixing the concoction he was making, its aroma spreading throughout the kitchen and the other first-floor rooms of Harley and Soledad's house.
Drew had always known how to cook – or, at least had always known how to cook simple things – mainly because it was one of the skills he had to learn back when he was traveling alone during his early coordinating years. He was quite good at it, actually – when he had a cookbook right in front of him. He had to admit to himself that if Harley were here, he would've been doing a much better job; the amethyst-haired man had a lot more experience behind the kitchen countertops.
This didn't stop Drew from trying, though.
After all, it was the least he could do for Soledad. Back in the past, she had always been there for him – like an alternate mother of some sort – and she was still always there for him. Right now, whether she articulated such a thing or not, she needed his assistance, and he was more than willing to give it.
Drew pulled the wooden spoon from the pot, eyeing the liquid that lay cradled in its center. Soup. Minestrone, to be exact. That's what he was making, or at least trying to make. He brought the spoon to his mouth and tasted it, wondering if adding anything would really help it. He had done that with the tea, trying to perfect it so Soledad could relax in peace, but he only wound up making it too sweet. He wanted to make this perfect, too, but what could he do?
After all, Soledad deserved perfection.
He frowned, bringing the spoon down and dipping its tip back into the soup.
Meanwhile, behind him, Absol emerged from the other room, turning his snout up to sniff the air, cocking his head at the scent of whatever his master was making. He turned his eyes towards Drew, only able to see his back since the teen was turned towards the stove.
Sensing that someone was watching him, Drew turned his head, eyebrows rising at the sight of Absol; though they then furrowed almost immediately.
"Absol!" he growled. "What're you doing down here? I told you to stay upstairs with Soledad!"
Absol didn't seem fazed by his master's attitude; in fact, he only shrugged his shoulders.
Drew sighed, already being able to tell that Soledad had sent his Pokemon back down – possibly to help him since she supposedly "didn't need him". He turned fully around to face his Pokemon, preparing to send him back upstairs.
However, as soon as he revealed the front of his body to Absol, the said dark type's face fell, his eyes glued to what his master was wearing. Grunts began to emit from the Pokemon, as if he was trying to stifle something, and then he burst out laughing, nearly falling over onto the tiled floor in the process.
Drew frowned. "What's so funny?" he asked, fists clenching.
Absol managed to raise a paw, pointing it directly at him.
Drew looked down, and his face turned red.
He had forgotten that he was wearing a kitchen apron – a pink kitchen apron.
"Shaddup!" he snapped. "I didn't want to get my clothes stained, and this is the only one that was here!"
Absol only continued to laugh, now rolling onto his back.
Drew let out a groan of frustration, which almost ceased Absol's cachinnation instantly. He pointed his finger to the entrance into the kitchen, which would lead to the staircase. "Go back upstairs," he ordered, and in a calm tone that Absol could tell was forced.
Absol got up, knowing that ignoring his master's command would only lead to trouble. Therefore, he began to make his way back towards the other room, though he stopped in place seconds later, eyes widening as a familiar figure came down the stairs and walked into the kitchen.
Drew, who had returned his attention to the stove, snorted at the sound of footsteps. "Absol," he began firmly, slowly turning back around, "I told you to go back upstairs-"
The teen stopped when he met Soledad's eyes.
"Soledad?" The surprise on his face replaced itself with annoyance. "You're supposed to be upstairs in bed!"
Soledad shrugged. "I got bored. There's nothing good on TV." She lowered her eyes slightly, eyeing his front. "Why are you wearing my apron?"
Drew blushed again, but shook it away, his glare returning. "I don't care if there's 'nothing on TV'! You. Bed. Rest. Now."
"I'm not going to drop dead just by walking down the stairs, Drew," Soledad said, rolling her eyes. "Besides, something smelled good, so I thought I'd come down to investigate."
Drew bared his gritted teeth, but then sighed. "Fine," he muttered, turning back around. "Obviously, every time someone tells you something, it goes in one ear and right out the other."
Soledad grinned. "I learn from the best."
Drew froze at that, shoulders sagging as Soledad let out another laugh. He glared at her out of the corner of his eye. "Sit."
Soledad complied, sitting down on one of the chairs that belonged to the nearby dinner table; Drew had already allowed her to stay with him against his own beliefs, and she didn't want to risk breaking such a privilege by disobeying him further.
"Remember when you and I first met?" she randomly said a few seconds later, having let her mind wander as Drew continued to cook.
"Of course," Drew answered, not turning around.
Soledad smiled, memories flashing through her head. "I defeated you at your very first contest, but despite that we became good friends?"
"How could I forget?"
Soledad hummed thoughtfully. "When we were facing each other for the first time, I never once expected that we would grow to be this close."
Drew stopped at that, though he still didn't turn around. "What do you mean?"
"Well, I thought that once that contest was over, you would move on to become a famous coordinator and I would do so as well." She chuckled. "It's just a funny thought, seeing you as only an opponent then, but now seeing you as a person I can turn to when I need help, like a guardian of some sort. Maybe even a godfather to my soon-to-be child."
"A…godfather?" Drew repeated, emerald eyes bright as he turned his gaze to Soledad, who nodded. He mentally repeated the words again, never having expected that she would give him such a title. He felt…honored. And, when he thought about it, he never once expected any of the moments they had shared to happen when he was facing her for the first time during that aforementioned contest.
"You try too hard to impress people sometimes, Drew," Soledad continued. "But your need to go out of your way to help people is why I admire you, even if you don't want to admit that that's what you're doing half the time. I mean, look at May. You were always trying to help her improve in her coordinating, despite that you had a funny way of showing it."
Drew didn't have any objections to that.
"Ever since Harley and I started talking about children," Soledad added, "I was afraid. I always wondered if I would make a good mother – a good idol. I now find myself turning to you when I need guidance, because undoubtedly when you have your own children some day, you would make one hell of a father." She turned her head away, a sly smirk crossing her face. "And May would make a good mother, too, you know."
Drew didn't seem fazed by the usual teasing of a possible relationship between him and his brown-haired rival. Instead, his mind was replaying all of the words that came before that. His eyes began to grow wet, and once he realized this he struggled to quickly wipe them with his sleeve.
Soledad's forehead creased in concern. "Something wrong, Drew?"
"N-nothing," he said. "It's just the heat from the stove; it's getting to me."
Soledad frowned. "Maybe you should take a break."
Drew nodded. "Y-yeah. Dinner's finished anyway."
Once Drew cleaned the stove and divided some of the soup into three bowls, he led Soledad back upstairs so they could eat in her bedroom, figuring that that would be a more comfortable place to eat in her status. She didn't protest to this; after all, he had allowed her an inch of breathing space when he had let her stay in the kitchen with him, and that was enough to satisfy her.
Soledad retook her place on the bed, Drew sitting down on the floor beside it. The television was still on, though neither of them paid attention to it as they ate in silence. Even Absol said nothing as he ate from his own bowl.
Soon, Soledad grunted, Drew swiftly turning his eyes to her. She placed a hand on her stomach.
"What is it?" he asked eagerly as he stood up, sounding worried.
Soledad shook her head, an amused smile crossing her face. "The baby's kicking," she said. She chuckled. "I guess it likes your cooking."
Drew's eyebrows rose, and he turned his eyes to her abdomen. Soledad reached forward, grabbing his hand and placing it on her stomach, where he blinked as he felt a tiny force push against his palm. He met Soledad's gaze, appearing slightly amazed.
Soledad only chuckled again.
"What're you going to name it?" Drew asked almost subconsciously.
"If it's a girl," Soledad said, "Harley and I agreed on 'Savannah'."
"And if it's a boy?"
Soledad smiled at that. "We both agreed on 'Drew'."
Drew's eyes widened. Soledad placed her hand over his, squeezing it softly.
A guardian and a godfather.
Soledad turned her eyes to the window, noticing that the light of the moon had already begun to make its entrance, its silvery hue clashing with the light that emitted from the room's lamps. She frowned, returning her attention to Drew. "It's getting late," she said. "Harley should be back any minute now. You should probably head home for the night, Drew."
"You can't be serious," he then replied, his voice firm, yet carrying a teasing tone that made Soledad's eyebrows rise. "If I have to leave, then I'm not going until Harley at least walks through the door first."
Soledad blinked. "Must you always be this stubborn?"
At that, Drew's smile returned. "I'm just looking out for you, Soledad."
Soledad's eyes grew soft, and at this point she didn't want to argue with Drew, telling him to go home and get some rest. Instead, she watched him as he walked over to the other side of the bed, climbing on and laying himself down right next to her. He looked up at her, smirking, and she wrapped her arm around him, pulling him closer. She then leaned her head down, planting a soft kiss on the top of his head.
"Thank you, Drew," she said.
"You were always there for me," Drew replied. "I'm just returning the favor like I always will."
It was later into the night when the door into the bedroom slowly opened, lit lights from the lamps in the hallway slightly bleeding into the room through the space between the door and its frame. This was just enough room for a head to peek in, its owner scanning his metallic blue-green eyes across the darkness that engulfed the inside of the room, brushing a bang of purple from his face as he attempted to see if his wife was still in the same position she had been in when he had left earlier that morning.
"Sol?" Harley called softly, using the affectionate nickname he had always called Soledad by. "I'm back."
He opened the door a little more, allowing in more of the light, but not enough to disturb the two beings who were on the bed, nor the Absol that was slumbering beside it.
Harley's eyebrows rose once he noticed this. Soledad was sleeping peacefully, her arm wrapped around Drew, who had his head on her shoulder, his own arm crossing over her front in an almost protective way. He was also asleep.
A soft smile crossed Harley's face.
Quietly, the amethyst-haired man made his way towards the bed, taking a blanket that was at its foot and spreading it out and over Drew and Soledad. He kissed Soledad on the forehead, gently brushing his finger down her cheek, and cast a grateful look to Drew.
Then, he stepped back until he was at the door, sliding out of it. He looked at Soledad and Drew one last time as they slept.
"You always said, Sol, that you were afraid that you wouldn't make a good mother," Harley whispered, beginning to shut the door. "But the evidence that you will be is sleeping right beside you."
And with that, he departed and made his way downstairs, not minding the fact that he would have to spend this night on the couch.