notes: KarinNatsukawa's request. Her prompt was "reunion". Enjoy!
i wouldn't miss you for long.
"Something tells me this isn't a casual visit."
May smiles awkwardly, fiddling with her sleeves. The girl stands perfectly straight, slender fingers clutching the champion's cloak to keep it from sliding off her shoulders. Five years later and she still doesn't quite look like she belongs. She's too thin, too short, the ends dragging by her boots and accumulating soil. Briefly, he wonders how many times she cleans it every week, if she uses the right detergent, if she hand-washes it like they are supposed to.
"It isn't," May admits after several beats of silence, reaching inside her bag for an envelope. "Your father wants me to deliver something to you, Mr. Steven."
"Steven," he corrects automatically. The address makes him feel jaded and at twenty-seven he doesn't think he's supposed to. "I thought we were past that stage."
The female champion offers him a smile and follows his example suit. "Steven," she says, his name sliding past her lips like a half-recalled arpeggio, "You should read that. It might be important."
"Thank you," he replies, ever the epitome of propriety. The smile she throws him over her shoulder is nostalgic and it makes him feel uncomfortable, trapped, as if the cavern walls have closed in on him. He watches her go, long bronze hair dancing behind her back, and opens the letter.
Loneliness, he learns three months later, is this: a company full of ideas he doesn't care for and people he doesn't speak to, a mouth forming words in languages he cannot speak, brightly-colored leaves falling to the ground and turning into mounds of mush. It is watching his pale and trembling father on a hospital bed, unable to do anything but to wish that it's him instead. It is trapping himself in between painted walls, letting time pass by in a flurry of businessmen and black briefcases. It is the burning on his fingertips, the itch for glass-surfaced stones and gravelly soil.
May visits him at the office one night. It's the first time he's seen her in thirteen weeks and she's traded her cloak for a long-sleeved cardigan that makes her look less like the strongest trainer in Hoenn and more like an ordinary girl. Their small talk is at first stilted, awkward, until she gives up and tells him:
"I saw your father."
Hazel eyes meet blue ones. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. Did you have dinner yet?"
"Would you like to have it with me, then?"
Her kindness makes him feel guilty but her smile is brilliant, and Steven doesn't resist.
The girl has a crush on him.
This thought runs in his mind and presses itself to the back of his skull, haunting, and Steven treats it with neither arrogance nor vanity. It is just fact, true like the innocent blush that spreads on her cheeks whenever he touches her, the soft laughter that escapes her lips every time he attempts a half-hearted joke, the lingering looks she gives him when she thinks he's unaware.
Knowing this strangely assures him so he takes her to the beach one day, the sun a brilliant orange half-circle on the horizon. They lie on the sand, their shoulders touching. There is dirt on his face and in his hair, and for the first time in a long while, Steven feels young and reckless.
"Are you in love with me?"
May blinks, looking less untouchable and almost like the girl he remembers from the old days, and then she smiles at him, gentle and knowing. "I don't think me falling in love with you is a good idea," she remarks softly, amusement dancing in her eyes. "Not now, at least."
His curiosity borders on being criminal. "But you can be?"
"In another life, maybe," her laughter is light and airy against the rush of the waves. "What's this about?"
"Not much," he replies, dissatisfied, then corrects himself, "Nothing."
Her smile widens, her eyes the color of spring sky. "If you're sure."
The swish of her cloak as she departs reminds him of days long gone, and Steven spends a while trying not to feel as if he has just been refused (rejected). It takes him another while to notice that she didn't actually answer his question.
May is enigmatic, a mystery, and on certain days Steven wants nothing more than to tuck her into his pocket and spend forever figuring her out. She doesn't say much but he likes to listen closely whenever she does, repeats softly spoken words so he can burn them into his brain. It's almost illegal how lovely she becomes as time passes, brown hair falling over bare shoulders and pink lips tempting and kissable.
The day his father is discharged from the hospital, she finds him perusing the collection of stones in his office.
"I thought you already left."
"How little faith you have in me."
This makes her laugh. "It's the contrary, Steven. I have too much faith in you."
"You want me to leave?"
"Aren't you the one who wants to leave?" she asks matter-of-factly, gesturing to his table, covered in so many papers that they cannot see the slick glass surface anymore. There is a large bag behind it, filled with three sets of dry-cleaned clothes and his stone-collecting notes. He packed it the first day he took over the company as the interim president. She laughs at the slight color his cheeks have taken on. "What's wrong?"
"My father used to collect stones," Steven tells her, running his finger on the label beneath the display, "He still enjoys it, but he doesn't have time for it anymore. Sometimes, May," he pauses, takes in the soft glow of her face, "Sometimes I feel old."
"Sometimes you act like it," she remarks, picking up Devon's newest pokéball prototype from his desk. Turning it around with her fingers casually, she lifts her arm and tosses it towards him as hard as she can. When he catches it in reflex, the corners of her lips curl upwards. "The question is, Steven," her voice is gentle with a touch of wistfulness, "Will you stay now that you don't have to? This isn't your dream, it's your father's, and I doubt he will hold it against you if you remind him. Not for long, at least; he loves you too much for that. So... if you want to leave, then leave. And if you want to stay," her gaze holds so much intensity that he is taken aback, "you're welcome to do that, too."
He cannot resist but to ask, "What about you?"
"Me?" she blinks.
"What do you want to do?" he stops, hesitates, and says, "Do you want to come with me?"
To his surprise, this is where she rises on her toes and presses her lips to his, a firm hand on his shoulder. She tastes like cinnamon and honey and suppressed longing and he takes this time to memorize the dips and rises of her mouth, the sound of her sighs, the feel of her skin against his.
"No," she answers then, silver voice a decibel above a whisper, "but I'll be right here. Waiting."
It's enough, he thinks when May is sprawled on the bed, tucked safely under the covers. Some of her old clothes lie folded on the floor, ready to be boxed and sent away, leaving the closet half-empty with some space for him. It's enough for now.
He won't be gone for long.
notes: still getting used to writing Pokemon, so I hope that was at least quite enjoyable. Thank you for reading!