Soledad took a sip of her cappuccino. Her eyes fixated on the brunette sitting across from her, who shifted awkwardly in her seat. When Soledad's cup touched the glass table, the small thump it'd made caused May to jump, as if someone had fired a bullet. Soledad examined her, generally concerned now, and she glanced at the people around them. No. They were just regular Johto citizens enjoying hot beverages along the outdoor patio of The Lazy Pyroar, one of the more popular cafés in town. They shared stories with friends and tasty pastries with their pokemon. Soledad looked toward the street. Cars passed and people walked by, but nothing suspicious stared back at them, preparing to assassinate May.
Really. When May had called her at seven in the morning, having practically rung Soledad's phone off the nightstand, Soledad had assumed by her quiet and anxious tone that something was seriously wrong, that someone was following her, stalking her, causing her to be wary of everything around her. But it was eight now. The townspeople seemed no different than usual. If there were any psychos running around, they weren't here. If May had been informed by a doctor that she had a deadly disease, she was still up and walking. If the world was going to end, well, the sun looked normal.
So why had she called and begged her that they meet at The Lazy Pyroar as soon as possible?
May was silent, though stable. She hadn't talked much since Soledad arrived. She still avoided her gaze. She tightened her fists against her bike shorts. The Lazy Pyroar was filled with all kinds of sweets – and May hadn't ordered a single thing.
Really. There was something wrong with this teenager.
"May," Soledad said, dragging out her name, because if someone wasn't stalking her and she wasn't dying from a disease and the world wasn't ending, then what worse explanation could there be to explain her behavior, "what's wrong?"
Soledad blinked. She tapped her fingers against the cardboard covering to her drink. When May didn't continue, Soledad cleared her throat, a little more worried now. "What about Drew? Is everything going well between you two?"
May and Drew had been dating for almost a year now. Apart from the occasional sarcastic remark from Harley, their relationship had been with met with positive reception from the coordinating community, loved ones, and their pokemon. Soledad had spoken with Drew only a few days ago. Nothing had seemed out of the ordinary. Drew was happy. May was happy.
"Did you have an argument or something?" Soledad said, brow arched.
May stumbled and waved her hands. "No! He's fine. We're fine. It's just…" Firming her jaw, she averted her gaze again and mumbled something.
"He and I have been talking," May repeated. She swallowed. "We've agreed that we're both ready to take our relationship to the next level tonight."
Soledad's face fell.
"Uh." Soledad was usually calm and collected, but there were just some topics that even caught her off guard. By the way May acted, she knew what she wanted now. It was certainly better than the world ending. Somewhat. "You're mother never really talked to you about…sex?"
"Not beyond the usual introduction stuff."
"Our anniversary is coming up and…I'm ready. I know I'm ready. I'm just nervous. I don't want the experience to, you know, not be good."
"And you can't talk to your mother about this?"
"I've tried, but it just comes off as too awkward. I feel more comfortable with you, Soledad."
A sense of affection filled Soledad's chest, along with a sense of dread. "Uh, May-"
"I know you and Harley have that sex buddy thing going on-"
"We have a what now?"
"-and if there's anyone who would know how to make that kind of experience not suck, it would be you."
Heat rushed to Soledad's cheeks. Suddenly, her drink on the table became much more fascinating than anything in the real world. She didn't really mind talking to May, especially if May had no one else to go to. She just didn't know if her advice would carry that much merit. "You know that Drew is a virgin, too, right? He's probably just as nervous as you."
"He is. He's talking with Harley right now."
"Bondage, clamps, plugs, all kinds of stuff!" Harley raised one more finger. "Oh, and strap-ons! There's so much stuff you can try with May. I'm so proud that my little Scooby-Drew is going to lose his V-card tonight."
Despite Harley's enthusiasm, Drew looked completely horrified.
It was justified, considering the hour Harley had just spent telling Drew – in great detail – of all the various kinds of sexual positions, relationship types, and "toys" that existed, and while Drew definitely didn't mind about what other people liked (whatever floated their boats, after all), he had different interests and he still…looked completely horrified.
Really. Why had he gone to Harley? Parents were out of the question. Soledad was occupied with May. Drew probably would've benefited more by just winging it.
But, no. As much as he didn't want to think about it, Harley and Soledad had maintained a sexual relationship for years – and that made Harley the only man with whom Drew could receive advice on how to make his first experience with a woman not suck.
Seemingly oblivious to Drew's green face, Harley piped up again: "Oh, I got some things you can borrow-"
"No!" Drew put his arms out as if he was about to be hit by a car, ready to vomit and cry at the same time. When the other trainers in the pokemon center looked over at the noise, he slowly lowered his hands and cleared his throat. "I mean, no thanks. I got a general idea of what to do."
Harley shrugged and leaned against the wall, filing his nails as if he hadn't a care in the world. "If you insist. Think you're ready?"
"I love May, and I want to show her that I love her. But not with…'plugs'."
"Alright, but don't come crying to me when the bedroom gets boring."
With a sigh to maintain her calm attitude, Soledad finished: "The important thing is that you both love each other. This is a big step in any relationship. If you're truly ready to take it, then it won't matter if the first experience isn't perfect. It's the act itself – the idea behind doing it with someone you want to do it with – that truly makes it special."
May nodded, genuinely relaxed compared to earlier. "I think I understand. Thanks, Soledad."
Soledad took another casual sip of her cappuccino, her nerves shot, but still there. Good job. "No problem."
"Oh, and Soledad?"
"Harley mentioned it once, but he didn't explain. What's a 'dominatrix'?"
Soledad choked on her coffee.
The hotel room smelled of roses and lavender. Lit candles lined the shelves, tables, and nightstands. The curtains were open. The neon lights of the night-covered town painted the otherwise dim room a myriad of colors. Drew had even managed to find some soft jazz music to play through the speakers by the bed.
The evening had been romantic, with Drew having taken May out for dinner at a beautiful restaurant by the river. They toasted to their one year as a couple and the many years as rivals and best friends that had come before it. Things couldn't have gone more perfect.
Drew rubbed his palms together and shifted weight between each leg, anything to keep himself occupied from the moments that stood between him and May consummating their relationship. He had to shake his head at his own ignorance. He had amazed complete strangers on that coordinating stage with the abilities of his pokemon, but what if he couldn't please his girlfriend? Her opinion was worth far more than any judge's. She was getting ready in the bathroom. Tonight would be the night that he would show her how much he'd grown to love her, how much he wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for her. He smiled at the memories and grabbed a rose from the vase on the dresser, its stem clean from thorns.
He turned and saw May emerge from the bathroom, dressed in a simple nightgown. He swallowed, amazed by her beauty. Uncertain toward how he should have presented himself, he'd simply taken his shirt off, leaving only the dress pants that had gone with his suit.
May quickly sat down at the foot of the bed and folded her arms across her chest, hesitant to meet his eyes.
Drew sat down next to her. Gently, he touched her shoulder. Her skin was soft. Her scent of pomegranate and apples made him dizzy. He closed his eyes to relish in it.
Then, he sighed.
"You're not really ready, are you?" he said.
"Nope," May said, short and simple. "Are you?"
When he felt May turn to face him, he opened his eyes. She smiled at him. He smiled, too.
And they laughed. Because, really?
"Let's get some ice cream," May said, grinning, "and then we can come back here and watch some movies. An Aron Man marathon sound good to you?"
"Definitely." He handed her the rose and kissed her. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
"What the deuce!" Harley cried as he pulled away his binoculars. "That wasn't hot at all!"
Soledad looked at the bushes that they had not-so-cleverly concealed themselves behind to spy on May and Drew from outside their hotel. "This isn't weird or anything."
Ignoring her, Harley growled. "I gave her boy-toy all that advice and he didn't follow through with any of it!"
"I told you," Soledad said, with a soft smile, "I don't think they were truly ready. When they are, they'll know – and not just because they can say they are."
"Sol, get outta here with your reason and logic." He shook his fist. "I don't want reason and logic! I want to see a sexy party!"
"…that's concerning on a number of levels."
He smirked at her. "Care to provide a replacement for tonight's entertainment, then, my dear Sol?"
Harley, alone in the bushes in the pale moonlight, groaned with frustration.