C-c-c-combo breaking Valentine's Day fics with a Christmas one. Like that's any better. Enjoy this ChessShipping (Touya/Black x Touko/White) fic I wrote for the Secret Santa gift exchange on SPPf!
From the Heart
As soon as Touya plopped down on his unexpectedly comfortable PokeCenter room bed, the phone rang.
'Phone call, phone call!' The obnoxious voice resounded about the room; no matter how hard he tried, it was impossible to ignore.
Begrudgingly, Touya dragged himself out of bed and trudged over to the Live Caster that he carelessly left on the table in the corner of the small, yet homey bedroom. He pressed the red button, and to his surprise, Professor Araragi's smiling face appeared on-screen.
"Hiya, Touya! How are you doing?"
"Hey, Professor; I'm doing fine, thanks. …Any reason your calling?" In all honestly, Touya wanted to get this conversation over with as fast as possible so he could attempt to get a nap in before all the training he planned to do the next day.
"Actually yes, there's something I wanted to tell all four of you!"
"…Four of you…?"
Just then the faces of Touya's three good friends popped up on the screen, along with Professor Araragi's. There was Cheren, looking rather impatient, but giving an acknowledging nod; Belle, grinning widely and giggling at something; and finally…Touko, the sweetest smile on her lips as she waved at him. Touya felt the ends of his mouth tug upwards at the sight of brunette on the bottom right corner of his Live Caster's screen.
"I'm so glad to have gotten hold of all of you! How are your adventures going? Where is everyone now?" Professor Araragi seemed to talk a mile a minute as she questioned the teens about their journeys.
"It's going great!" Belle piped up. "Cheren and I are both in Shippou City now!"
"I left Shippou not too long ago… I'm currently in a clearing in Yaruguma Forest where I'll be spending the night."
"Ohmigosh, Touko, aren't you cold? It's the middle of winter!" Belle frowned, green eyes flashing with concern for her friend.
"Yeah, don't worry about me; I'm fine! Mom made sure to pack extra blankets, plus I have a fire going."
Her words didn't assure Touya though; as he gazed at the brunette's image on the little screen, he could tell she was shivering slightly. Oh, what he would give to be able to teleport to Yaruguma Forest and warm Touko in a way that no fire ever could… The teen's mind started to wander (not into dirty territory, mind you), imaging Touko gently drifting to sleep in his embrace…
"Touya! …Touya!" The brunet was snapped out of his reverie by Cheren's stern voice. "Professor Araragi asked where you're currently located."
"Oh, um, right…" He trailed off, somewhat embarrassed. The others were so far ahead, while he – "I just arrived in Sanyou City actually." Touya cast his eyes downward as he chuckled awkwardly.
"Haha, Touya's a Slowpoke!" Touko and Belle both laughed.
"Hn, for once it's not Belle who is trailing behind."
"Hey!" Belle glared at Cheren's image. "You know I can easily get you for that!"
"Now, now, settle down." The teens quieted at the sound of Araragi's voice. "It's actually better for Touya that he's not that far away from Kanoko Town. …Because I need you all to do something." The four Trainers leaned in closer to their Live Casters in anticipation of her words. "…Come home for Christmas."
Simultaneously, the four friends fell to the floor with disappointment; that was not at all what they were expecting.
"Professor Araragi, I mean no disrespect, but do you really expect us to travel all the way back to Kanoko Town after we've just began our journeys?" Cheren frowned.
"Seriously, it took a lot of work to just make it this far!" Touko seemed especially upset; after all, she was the farthest ahead.
"Don't think this is my idea," Araragi said to them. "I love that you all are out there, helping me with my research and fulfilling your own dreams. But this is a request from your parents. I think they thought it was more likely that you listened to me over them…"
Touya thought it over for a bit and honestly, he was okay with going home. Not only was it a chance to see Touko again, it was…well a chance to see Touko and potentially travel with her after the Christmas season. (Even though Touya was a good kid, he tended to have a one-track mind. It was either Touko or Pokemon training occupying his brain, but I suppose that makes him no different than most teenage boys.)
Cheren, Belle, and Touko continued to dish out their protests, until Araragi stopped them once again.
"My goodness, you kids just have to complain about everything. Although I definitely feel where you're coming from. How about this? …I send an assistant or two out in a car to pick you guys up from your respective locations - "
"Wait, does this mean I can go back to Shippou City and stay in a warm bed?" Touko interjected.
"I would assume it does; I was wondering why you insisted on heading out in the first place, when you could be here all along," Cheren said to her.
"…Anyway," the Professor continued, "to make up for inconveniencing you guys, I thought we could do something fun! How does a Christmas party and Secret Santa sound?"
"That sounds like so much fun! I'm excited, how about you guys?" Of course Belle was the first to approve of the notion; her green eyes lit up and she resembled a small child, unwrapping their first Christmas present.
"I suppose I do have extra money to spend…"
"All right, then it's settled! Today is the 17th, correct? I'll have the car come and pick you up on the night of the 23rd – so you have time to shop for your present and take care of any other business – and we'll have the party on Christmas Eve!" Araragi clapped her hands together, giddy with excitement. "I'll call you back individually to assign whose Secret Santa you will be. See you guys soon~!"
"Bye, Professor Araragi!" The four Trainers bid their respective goodbyes and ended the call, only to wait for Araragi to call them back sometime later.
Touya felt like he had been waiting forever for his assignment. He lay back down on his bed, head dangling over the side so the world appeared upside down. (Hey, he had to do something to keep himself entertained.) The brunet made sure to keep his Live Caster close to him this time. Adjusting to another strange position on the bed, Touya actually felt himself beginning to drift off, thinking about how great it would be to get Touko, surprise her with a super special gift, maybe even confess his feelings…
'Phone call, phone call!' Touya was startled out of the bed and landed in a heap of blankets on the floor. He blindly groped around the mess until he felt his Live Caster within his grasp.
"Hello?" he said breathlessly to Professor Araragi on the other end.
"You okay, Touya? You like you were just in a fight…"
"Yeah, the blanket won." They both laughed at Touya's cheesy humor before getting down to business.
"Well, Touya, since I called you last there's only one more name to choose from…"
"That's all right," he replied. 'As long as it's Touko…'
Crossing his fingers, Touya watched eagerly as Araragi unfolded the paper in front of his eyes. His jaw dropped when he saw the name on the scrap.
"…This is a joke, right?"
"What ever do you mean, Touya? You thought that I wouldn't get in on this fun too?" Professor Araragi smiled mischievously, as it was indeed her name scrawled across the piece of paper. She continued to look at Touya with amusement (the teen simply opened and closed his mouth wordlessly, much resembling a fish).
"…Haha!" The blonde woman laughed boisterously. "Chill out, I was only kidding. In fact, it's your lucky day. For you get…" She picked up the real piece of paper, unfolding it to reveal…
"Touko." Part of Touya was ecstatic, for this could be his opportunity. The other part of him simply though, 'oh crap', for now he had to go through the turmoil of finding her the perfect gift.
"Yep, well have fun shopping! See you in a few days!" Without waiting for a response from Touya, Professor Araragi cut the connection.
Touya collapsed backwards onto his bed. 'Finding Touko the perfect gift, no problem, right?' He felt his thoughts drift away along with his consciousness as he stared at the ceiling. 'No problem at all…'
"Correction: this is a problem."
It was the next morning; Touya woke up bright and early – no so he could train, like originally planned - but so he could gift shop. Not that his Pokabu was complaining; it was enjoying sleeping the day away inside of its PokeBall.
The baseball-capped boy stood frozen within the doorway of the large department store located closest to the PokeCenter. He has never seen so many…things in his life. And it didn't help that Christmas was fast-approaching; the store was swamped with last-minute shoppers. Touya didn't even know where to start.
Overwhelmed, Touya simply wandered over the bargain bins to the left, full of junk affectionately labeled as "stocking stuffers".
Yet despite the multitude of potential presents around him, nothing screamed, "Touko". Nothing stood out as being special, something perfect, just for her. Touya couldn't just well give her an Adeku bobble-head to express his emotions…
He was getting desperate, and as the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. Whipping out his Live Caster, Touya scrolled through his contact list and dialed a number.
"Hey, Cheren, I need your help." (Don't ask Touya why he bothered to call Cheren of all people. It's guaranteed that he wouldn't have a good answer).
The teen was about to describe his plight when the bespectacled boy raised a hand to stop him.
"The Sanyou City Gym is run by three leaders: Dent, Pod, and Corn, each of them specializing in one of the starting types. You will be facing off against Corn and his Water-type Hiyappu. I assume you already received the grass-monkey Yanappu from the Site of Dreams; if not, go there now and use that to counter his Pokemon."
Touya just blinked. "Well, uh, thanks for that, I guess. Since you're my rival and all it was kind of unexpected but… But that's not the issue at all! It's even more important than that!"
"More important than a gym battle?" It must be something momentously important if Touya put it above a gym battle, especially since this was coming from a boy who dreamed of the day he could become a trainer since he was a little boy.
Cheren adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat. "Well I'm not one to believe in such frivolous things as rumors but…I've heard stories of this weird gang of people dressed as knights who are going about bothering trainers. You aren't in trouble with them, are you? …Are you?" Touya said nothing, his eyebrow twitching. "Seriously, everything that's happening to you I would expect to happen to Bel but - "
The coal-haired boy stopped speaking immediately, taken aback.
"It's not about any of those things. It's about…the Secret Santa thing."
Cheren nearly fell flat on his face, but composed himself almost immediately. "Are you serious? That's it?"
"That's not just it! I go…Touko!"
"Well way to ruin part of the surprise. …But what does that matter?"
Touya looked at him, expression edging on desperation. The shoppers around him gazed at him oddly as he continued his frantic conversation, seemingly to his wrist.
"C'mon man, you know why it matters. …Do you have any gift ideas. Like, what do girls like?"
"Why are you asking me this? One, I'm not a girl. Two, we're not in fifth grade anymore. 'What do girls like?'" Cheren rolled his eyes. "Three, Touko isn't exactly the epitome of feminism, is she? And four…"
"…I get it, Cheren. I get it." Frowning, Touya let out a sad sigh.
Cheren sighed as well, his stern countenance melting away into something…softer. "I'm sorry. Look, knowing Touko, she won't care what you get her. As long as it's something heartfelt, I think she'll be happy. For further advice, may I suggest calling Bel? She's better friends with Touko, and a female." He cracked a small smile.
"I might just do that. Thanks, Cheren."
"No problem. Good luck, and see you on the 23rd!"
Touya nodded and hung up. …He needed some fresh air, he realized. While on the phone, the overcrowded and busy air of the department store unknowingly got to him.
The chilly December air cut through his bones, and yet Touya found it oddly refreshing.
"All right. Something…heartfelt."
The teen felt the panic begin to set in once again as he realized the ambiguity of Cheren's words. That could mean anything!
Without thinking twice, Touya dialed Bel's number.
"Hey there, Touya. How are you doing?"
"Um, I've been better, honestly. Can I ask you a question?"
The blonde's vivid eyes displayed concern for her old friend. "Sure, what's up?"
"What is a good present for a girl? …Specifically, Touko."
Bel's hands flew to her mouth. "Touya, no! You ruined part of the surprise!" She frowned deeply, but continued to stare at the male teen, finally understanding. "…But this is a special case, isn't it?" She cocked her head to the side and giggled, causing Touya to flush a light pink.
"Well… Touko's not much of a materialistic person, really. So nothing too fancy. Make it…from the heart?"
Touya groaned, burying his face in his hands. "Cheren told me the same thing. And that's just so vague!"
"Oh! Sorry, Touya. I don't know what else to tell you; I mean, it's your gift!"
"I know, you're right. Thanks for the help anyway." He reached out to end the call, when Bel shouted out to stop him.
"Wait! …Are you gonna tell her? About how you feel I mean? At the party? Aww, that would be so cute, and it can all end with a kiss under the mistletoe…"
Touya blushed a deep red. "Stop it!" Bel stopped smiling, an apologetic look in her eyes. "…I'm sorry, Bel. It's just, how can I confess to her when I can't even buy her a simple gift? The whole thought of it is absolutely nerve-wracking!" (Touya doubted that even his first gym battle could make him this nervous).
"Hey, Touya, listen. Touko is a strong, independent girl. I think she wants a man to be the same, to be able to voice his feelings confidently. …Which is probably why Cheren won't ever have a chance with her," she added with a giggle. The blonde was lucky he wasn't around to hear that comment… "Just muster up all the courage you have, and go for it!"
Bel's words of encouragement instilled something with Touya. He actually felt…unexpectedly better about the whole situation. He puffed out his chest and stood up a little straighter, a prideful grin splayed across his face.
"I can do this!"
Bel clapped excitedly. "That's the spirit! It's going to be all right, I promise!" The blonde gave Touya one of her signature mood-uplifting smiles.
"Thanks so much, Bel. See you soon!"
"Okay, see yah!"
The screen of his Live Caster went black as Bel ended the call.
With his newfound confidence, Touya marched back into the department store. The perfect gift – the gift that he was going to make perfect and heartfelt – was somewhere inside that store and Touya, without a doubt, was going to find it.
Before Touya really knew it, Christmas Eve had rolled around. He was back within the comfort of his own home in Kanoko Town; Cheren, Bel, and Touko were all there as well, after one of Professor Araragi's assistants had picked them up the other night. The car trip was full of trip exchanges between old friends; although their adventure had really only begun, there were already so many stories to tell!
Yet Touya spent most of the ride in silence, casting shy sidelong glances at Touko or blushing whenever their knees would bump together in response to the car bouncing although the potholed road.
He had the gift situation squared away; the teen was actually quite proud of what he managed to come up with, despite the ineptitude he displayed beforehand. Now the only thing left to do was wait…and mentally prepare.
In the middle of his deep breathing exercises, Touya heard a startling knock on the door. He ran down the stairs and tore the door open, beating his mom to it by miles.
Cheren and Bel were standing outside, all bundled up to prevent the winter weather from getting to them. They both clasped neatly wrapped presents in their gloved hands (well actually, only Cheren's was nicely wrapped; Bel's was a bit of a mess).
"Are you ready to head to Professor Araragi's?" Cheren asked.
"Yeah, Touko's already there waiting~!"
"Coming, I just gotta run upstairs and grab the gift!" Touya was back in a flash and the three of them made the short trek over to the Pokemon Lab.
To their surprise and delight, the living quarters in the upper level of the lab had been transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Icicle lights lined the edges of the room, and stockings hung over the garnish-decorated fireplace. Off to the side was a table overloaded with snacks and drinks.
But in the center of it all was a massive Christmas tree, adorned with colorful lights, shiny baubles, and Pokemon ornaments; from what it looked like, all of the Unova Pokemon were represented on the tree. For such a small party, no one of them expected Professor Araragi to go to such great lengths.
Just then, the blonde woman appeared around the corner, Touko and he scientist friend Makomo trailing behind.
"You like it?" Araragi asked, gesturing at the room and grinning widely.
"It's amazing!" Bel gushed.
"Well, Makomo actually did a lot of the work…" The Professor laughed sheepishly while Makomo blushed.
As a means of greeting, Touko ran over and hugged Bel; the boys almost expected the same treatment – instead they were met with affectionate, but not exactly light, punches on the arm.
Laughing, she said, "Merry Christmas, you guys!"
"Don't just stand around in the doorway! Come inside and make yourself comfy!" Araragi ushered them all inside. "Presents go under the tree. Actually, I want to get that started soon, I just need to get something."
As she rushed away, Makomo leaned toward the teens. "Truthfully, Araragi is so excited to watch you guys exchange gifts. I'm betting she's off getting her camera to record it."
They all laughed and walked over to the enormous tree. As Touya was about to place his present on the ground, Touko snatched it up out of his hands.
"Hey!" He reached out pathetically in an attempt to grab it away from her.
Touko placed the box up to her ear and shook it around. "Hmm…sounds interesting." Setting the gift back down, she smiled at Touya. "I'm sure whoever you got is very lucky. You're such a thoughtful guy."
Just hearing those words and seeing her smile, the smile that in his mind was reserved for him, made Touya's heart pound with lightning speed and his palms sweat profusely.
Cheren nudged him in the side, snapping him back to attention, as he was gaping at Touko awestruck and not knowing exactly how to respond. So much for the whole confidence thing…
Professor Araragi returned moments later with – just as Makomo predicted – a video camera in her hands. "All right, let the festivities begin!"
"And last but not least, Touko!"
The other teens had already opened their gifts and were admiring them appreciatively; Cheren received an encyclopedia on all the great champions and legendary trainers of the past, even from other regions, from Touko; Bel presented Touya with the newest set of collectible Pokemon cards (once he started collecting them as a kid, he just couldn't stop); and finally Bel was gifted with a stuffed Yooterii doll from Cheren, something she was now hugging as tight as she hugged him upon opening the gift.
"…I wonder who mine could be from…?" Touko tapped her chin and winked at Touya playfully, who couldn't help but blush. With reckless abandon, Touko tore into the wrapping paper. She lifted the lid on the box containing her gift only to find…a baseball cap, not too much unlike the one currently on her head, just significantly less worse for wear.
Touko stared at it for a moment, almost like she expected something different. But that moment passed in the blink of an eye, and the brunette was removing her old cap to replace it. "Thanks, Touya. I suppose I was beginning to need a new one…"
It was then something fell out of the hat, just as she was about to place it on her head. A photograph now lay at her feet. Carefully, she picked it up as Touya gazed on in anticipation.
It was a picture of them, Touya and Touko, sitting on a playground and holding hands. They were young, only around seven, with wide, childish eyes displaying all their hopes and dreams.
On the back, a note: "Wherever our journeys may take us, I'll always be there with an outstretched hand."
And inside the rim of the cap itself, was a small heart and the words, "A New Hat for a New Adventure".
Touko was…speechless. Her brown eyes were shining as she gave Touya a real, genuine smile. "Thank you…" The teen boy's face was bright red as Bel gave him a thumbs up and Cheren nodded with approval.
Professor Araragi jumped to her feet, clapping to get everyone's attention. "Don't let the party end here; it's just getting started! Please, continue to eat, drink, and be merry! We worked hard to bring you this, remember?"
Bel didn't need to be told twice as she dashed over to the food table and nearly ripped it apart. Cheren followed behind, a small smirk on his face.
Touya simply watched as Touko continued to kneel at the Christmas tree, never tearing her eyes away from the photograph.
Inhaling deeply, and (hopefully) sucking in some courage, Touya walked over to her and – as promised – held out a hand. She took it gratefully and got to her feet. "I was right, Touya. I was lucky you got me," she said.
"Well," he scratched the back of his head bashfully. "I wanted to make it special, for you. And it wasn't easy either, digging up the photo! But all that hard work paid off, seeing you smile like that, Touko." The teen wasn't sure want he was displaying was confidence or if he was just rambling nervously, but either way, he rolled with it; all he knew was that it was now or never. He looked deeply into Touko's eyes, one hand still lightly grasping hers…
"It's because I – "
Touko's finger met his lip and she leaned in closer, smiling slightly.
"…I know, Touya. And I like you too." Her face broke out into a bright grin, like the sun breaking through the clouds, before she closed the space between their lips with a soft kiss.
Touya's body turned to ice, but his face was on fire. It took a moment for his mind to register what exactly happened and his body to react accordingly. He said nothing as Touko pulled away; instead, he just grasped her hand tighter.
"Aww, that was adorable!" Bel put her hands to her face, squirming at the sheer cuteness and thus ruined whatever moment the brown-haired teens just shared.
"And guess who got it all on film" Professor Araragi teasingly waved the video camera in the air.
"Hey, no fair!" Touya was about to run after the mischievous professor, but Touko yanked him back by the arm.
"Don't worry about it, alright?"
The brunet was somewhat surprised by the tenderness of her voice. "Let's just celebrate the rest of Christmas just as right."
They joined Bel and Cheren and the four friends effortlessly talked and laughed the time away.
Gazing at Touko, it dawned on Touya how much he would miss it.
Her, all of them, that moment on that very special Christmas.
But Touya knew, just because they had their respective goals to accomplish and journeys ahead, that their friendship didn't truly have to end, and in fact, it probably never would.
Because, as the night wound down and he gave Cheren a pat on the back, Bel a friendly hug, and pulled Touko closer to his side, he realized that true friends stay friends, no matter the distance.
Sooo review if you want! Have a good day everyone~