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cherry blossom, cherry bomb

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Giovanni eyed the tie held in front of him with the same distaste another person might eye a loaf of bread they found to have been chewed at one end by tiny rodent teeth on a morning where all they wanted was a piece of toast for breakfast to start their day with.

It wasn’t too much to ask for, a piece of toast, and neither, Giovanni thought, was it all that much to ask that his wardrobe be left as it was. The way he had decided it should be. 

What was so wrong with the colors black and white? A basic jacket with a basic shirt? No one had ever had a problem with Giovanni’s sense of style before (and if they had, they were smart enough to keep it well to themselves) much less taken it upon themselves to try to change it.

And more than that, what was so great about the tie held in front of him by small, delicate hands for inspection now – the tie that not only had the audacity to be a shade of pink he’d only ever seen on overcooked salmon and blood stains that wouldn’t fully wash out of the white shirts he preferred but had tiny, cartoonized images of cherry blossoms held in the mouths of Jigglypuffs like cigars all over it on top of that.

Giovanni looked at the tie with distaste because it was distasteful, but the worst part was that it wasn’t even the worst he’d seen. It was only one ugly tie in a long line of uglier ties and shirts and slacks and, on one occasion he wished he could forget, one-piece pajamas. 

If Giovanni had ever known retiring meant being subjected to the sight of such garish monstrosities on a regular basis, he wouldn’t have done it, and if he ever found out any of his grunts knew and didn’t tell him, he’d turn them into Magikarp food and throw them in a river. 

Being a criminal no one questioned or tried to foist fashion advice to was better. 

Constantly losing face and battles both because a bored child was dismantling your criminal empire was less humiliating. 

Giovanni pushed the hands holding that tie gently away from him and said the only thing one could say when having such an unwanted object presented to them like the rarest of Pokemon.

“No.”

Erika scoffed like he’d said something stupid and slapped the tie down on the bed.

“But it’s spring ,” she said like that was justification enough, and maybe for her it was but for Giovanni?

He sighed. He looked down at her hand still pressed over the tie and wondered if it would help or hurt him to try to placate, then decided to chance it and placed his hand over hers. 

When Giovanni looked back up, Erika was eyeing him much like he’d been looking at the tie but she didn’t pull her hand out from under his so he counted that as a tentative step in the right direction.

Side-stepping the police was easier than side-stepping Erika. Giovanni longed, not for the first time in such a situation with her, to be in an interrogation room instead. He would have felt more secure in his ability to succeed there.

“I know it’s spring,” he said patiently. “I just have to take one look around to see that.”

Giovanni didn’t look around then, though. He didn’t have to.

He was well aware of every flower in every pot and vase that took up his bedroom. He remembered the first one that Erika brought in at the end of March, a small cactus with a yellow bloom that rested in a simple white stone pot that she said was as prickly as him and not likely to die no matter how hard he tried to kill it, and he remembered how that plant was only the first of many to cross his threshold in a steady trickle of greenery that over the last few weeks had turned into an explosion now that spring was in full swing and Erika had plunged fully into the mania of it, taking him along with her.

The silent message woven in to reminding Erika of the fact that his bedroom now resembled a botanical garden that just so happened to have a bed in it was this: I’ve let you change my home, isn’t that enough?

The answer to that, apparently, was a resounding no .

“This is just the inside of your place, though,” Erika said, just as patiently as he ever was. Just as ruthless. 

She might have made a formidable member of Team Rocket in another life, Giovanni thought, if she were able to put her mind to things not involving plants or whatever matched their color schemes. 

She continued, “You spend most of your time out in the city or at your casino and when you do, look at you! You look like you’re going to a funeral!” 

Giovanni doesn’t point out just how many funerals he’s been to in his business. Intimidation wouldn’t work here and he feared he’d only be proving Erika’s point for her if he said it. 

No, what he needed to do now was something else.

He needed to compromise. Offer a little ground so he wouldn’t lose a lot.

“How about this – I’ll let you pick a pocket square for me and I’ll wear it on the weekends,” Giovanni offered.

Erika smiled sweetly and countered, “How about you let me pick out an entire suitcase’s worth and you wear it all on our trip to Hoenn every day of the week we’re there?”

Giovanni stared at her, glad that he had a stellar poker face so that she wouldn’t see that he was – despite himself – impressed.

There were only so few people who had ever held their own against him, after all. Enough that he could count them all on one hand and still have most of the fingers left to spare. That this one came in a more enticing package than the other and wasn’t trying to destroy his life’s work, only his style, made their little power struggle – in some ways – not totally unenjoyable to deal with.

“A pocket square,” Giovanni repeated, “and I’ll wear it for three week days.”

Five pocket squares, one for each day of the week, and I promise they’ll be solid color only. No prints.”

Giovanni bit back a pleased smirk. “No pink, either.”

Erika glared. Then she relented. Mostly. “No pink, but I still get to pack your suitcase for Hoenn.”

“You pack half of it and I make no promises about wearing it.”

“Three-fourths.”

“Deal,” Giovanni sighed, and when Erika laughed with triumph and leaned over to give him a kiss, he could almost believe that he’d got the better end of it after all.