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The Palentine's Day Chocolates Situation

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Eve of Palentine's Day, 2021, Professor Bellis' lab

"Bettie, you're still not done?"

She shook her head as she looked apologetically at Serena and Dawn, who'd clearly finished making all the chocolate they needed for Palentine's Day. "I still have some more to make," she said softly. This was her sixth batch now, she thought as she started pouring the chocolate into the mold.

Dawn's eyes bulged at the already increasing amount of boxes behind Bettie, all filled with chocolate. "There must be more than ten boxes  already..."

She nodded as she looked at her list. "There's Rosa, Barry, Norman, Pryce, Koga, Hau, Brock, Misty, Cheren, Valerie, Skyla, Molayne, Acerola..." Everyone on her team, then...

Serena exchanged a look with Dawn over Bettie's head. "Well, it wouldn't be very Palentine's of us if we didn't help. Show us your list and we'll split the remaining people..."

Bettie blanched as Dawn snatched the list from her. "Dawn, no!"

But it was too late, as Serena and Dawn's eyes widened as they read the list. "Bettie, this isn't just people on your team, isn't it..."

"Um, because there are so many people I want to thank for helping me in Pasio. I mean, even my rivals..." Paulo, wherever he might have gone, and Lear, arrogant though he was, he still pushed her to do better...

Serena smiled at her. "Well, you're our friend, we already know how friendly and supportive you are."

"...Thank you, both of you!"

***

Palentine's Day, 2021, early afternoon

"Why are the peasants scurrying about?"

"Master Lear, you know why. We've made all the preparations for the Palentine's Day party."

"I know that, but we're the one's who've prepared for the party. So why is everyone frantically scurrying about and carrying multiple boxes?"

He ignored Sawyer and Rachel exchanging a look.

"Master Lear, you must know the tradition of Palentine's Day..." Rachel seemed a bit unsure. "Of people giving chocolate to the people they appreciate? There seems to be a similar holiday in the other regions which is why it seemed to be adopted so quickly here."

"Hmph, what a useless tradition to adopt." Nevertheless, if it made people more lively like the Summer Music Festival, he would allow the trainers of Pasio their Palentine's Day and help them celebrate it. For invigorating the PGL, of course, he thought smugly. No use in becoming King of lackluster trainers, after all.

Lear's musings were cut short as he suddenly spotted-

"Ah, that is Bettie" Rachel commented. "She has a lot of boxes with her, it seems."

"She is a friendly young lady," Sawyer replied, all three now watching Bettie stop multiple trainers in the plaza and offer them boxes, all of whom accepted happily.

"She seems to be giving them to all the members of her team," Rachel continued. "That's nice of her."

Can I not escape her even now, Lear thought with annoyance. Her beating him - that little Pikachu and her, beating him with his mighty Staraptor - still smarted. Why had that little slip of a girl, that naive girl, beaten him? And why did so many renowned trainers from all the different regions join her team, even when in defeat?

Why was he paying so much attention to her anyway? Still, his eyes followed her as she continued her task of giving boxes of what must be chocolate to trainers of her team.

He frowned as she approached Giovanni, who seemed to be talking to Cyrus. Even them, who were considered evil and given a wide berth by multiple trainers from their regions? She had accepted them in her team, he knew, but to even give chocolate to them on this holiday? Was she that stupid? ...or just that friendly? Or...

Bah, he thought, and frowned as she then left the two to go to another group of trainers.

"Not just people on her team," Sawyer countered. "Look, she's even given some to Hilbert; he's not on her team."

"Huh, that's right. And now she's giving some to Ethan as well."

"Bah," Lear said. "We've wasted enough time here."

He ignored Sawyer and Rachel exchanging another look.

***

She exhaled as she sat down. Still a few more to go, but... maybe she could rest for a few minutes.

Pikachu jumped into her arms, also looking tired.

"Sorry, Pikachu, just a few more..."

"Bettie, are you done yet?"

"S-Serena! And Dawn, what- what are you doing here?"

"Um..." Serena looked a bit shy. "Well, Dawn was worried-"

"As much as Serena was-" Dawn interjected.

"Thank you, both of you" she said happily, her tiredness immediately dissipating. "Actually, these are for you-"

She offered two boxes to her two friends.

"Wow, thank you-"

"Not that we didn't see our names on that list but-"

"Dawn!"

The three girls laughed.

"So who's left after us?"

Pikachu immediately pointed to the box next to Bettie, who felt her face heat up. Why was she feeling like this, she wondered. It just so happened that she couldn't find Lear the whole afternoon, it was just coincidence that his was the only box left...

"Ooh, who's that for?"

"Is it for someone... special?"

She couldn't speak but she knew her face was burning. Had she put his name on her list, she wondered. Had they seen...? And why was she feeling so strange over Palentine's chocolate, which she'd given to so many already? And about Lear, who'd always been so rude to her?

But even if he is so rude, he cares about Pasio in his own way. And its trainers too, with all the options he's given us for training our Pokemon and deepening our bond with them. His determination to be the best, his decision to fight anything that disrupts Pasio's peace... and when she saw him, she was always determined to give more than her best.

Serena suddenly tilted her head. "Bettie, have you bought something to wear for the party later?"

She shook her head. "I thought I'd just wear my usual clothes, I heard many of the guys are also doing the same. I haven't had time to go shopping for a while..."

Dawn and Serena shook their heads. Of course Bettie's team was all she thought about, no wonder she never changed her outfit, but...

"Then we're going shopping!"

"Um, Pikachu might... need to train...?" Out of the corner of her eye she saw Dawn luring Pikachu with a tasty treat, which it quickly gobbled. She turned to look at it reproachfully but couldn't help smiling at Pikachu getting some cream on its cheeks.

Serena beamed at her as she finally nodded. "Pikachu will be fine with Alcremie and Whimsicott! Let's go, the shops will close soon!"

***

Night of Palentine's Day, at the party

"Looks like they went all out," Brock said. "I don't like Lear, but he does good events."

The PGL stadium, for one night, had been decorated for Palentine's, with pink and red balloons and hearts of all colors all over the stadium. A buffet table had been set on one side, seemingly groaning with sumptuous-looking food for both Trainers and Pokemon.

"Yeah, the party looks great, no wonder everyone's here" Misty said grudgingly. "Still, he didn't have to bring out that statue of his again." Seemingly out of place with the pink hearts and balloons, an imposing statue of Lear was near the entrance of the stadium. "Puts a damper on the event seeing him when you walk in."

Bettie laughed, feeling warm as she thought of Lear. "He must have a lot of them, remember last Summer? He gave out one, and there's the one in the Pokemon Center as well."

Misty looked at Bettie strangely, causing her to gulp. "Bettie, can I ask-"

"Why, Bettie, you look wonderful!" She almost jumped out of surprise as Valerie suddenly grasped her hands. "I've never seen you in other clothes before... it's wonderful you changed for tonight."

"Um, thank you Valerie" she said shyly. While she'd been hesitant about the yellow dress Serena and Dawn had convinced her to buy, having Valerie compliment her made her happy.

"Come, let's go and see what everyone is wearing" she invited. "Did you pick the dress yourself?"

"No, um, Serena and Dawn helped me, they're really fashionable too-"

Misty looked in consternation as Valerie dragged Bettie away. "I never got to ask."

Brock shook his head. "I know what you wanted to ask and I think we should stay out of it. It's probably a bit too early too, I don't think she's aware of it yet."

Misty's eyes widened. "Really? You're saying that, Brock?"

"Yeah, though I don't agree with it either. If it's true. Maybe it'll pass." He frowned, but stayed firm in his conviction. "As long as it doesn't affect our run in the PGL, it's none of our business."

"Okay, but-"

"If he hurts her, he'll have thirty people coming for his head anyway. More even."

"Oh you big softy," Misty said, laughing. "C'mon, let's go get some food before it runs out."

***

"It looks like everyone is enjoying themselves, Master Lear." Sawyer nodded to the staff assisting Trainers as they acquired food.

"Of course they are," Lear said haughtily as he observed the trainers mingling with each other at the center of the stadium.

Sawyer continued to look around. "While some of the trainers remained in their own clothes, others seem to have dressed up especially for the party."

Lear frowned at this observation, it wasn't important, but then his eyes landed on a Pikachu. A Pikachu, then that meant-

"Bettie looks nice," Rachel observed. "Haven't really seen her in anything other than that blue and white outfit she wears."

Lear unwillingly - involuntarily, it seemed like - his eyes followed the Pikachu to its trainer, who was smiling as she was leaning down to pick it up. Bettie was dressed in a modest yellow knee length dress that looked... acceptable on her. That was the most... acceptable adjective he would give her. Bah.

She turned to greet one of the trainers of her team, who'd popped up behind her with his Empoleon at his side.

"Bettie, I've been looking for you! Come on!"

"Okay, Barry!"

He felt annoyance bubble in his chest. Every time he looked at her she was talking to other guys. Granted, most were her teammates, but-

"Hmph, we should move on" he said quickly, forcing himself to tear his eyes away from her.

"Of course, Master Lear" Sawyer said in response, he and Rachel exchanging a look as they followed Lear to move to another part of the stadium.

***

Two hours later, Lear was bored. Rachel and Sawyer had left, having to attend to simple concerns regarding... well, he didn't remember such things as a Prince. He strolled around the Stadium, ignoring the looks he was getting from the trainers he passed. Weak, he thought, his mind then going to the trainer who'd beaten him recently - after he'd beaten her before-

And there she was, sitting alone in the corner of the room on a bench.

Of course she was smiling, Lear thought, even though at this moment she was alone. Even her Pikachu wasn't with her now, clearly playing with some of the other Pokemon at the party. 

"Hmph."

Her eyes widened as Lear, the object of her thoughts suddenly sat down next to her.

"Lear, I-"

"I'm going to sit here," he said haughtily, though his voice sounded hollow to his ears.

"Of course," she said quickly. "Do you want me to leave?"

"No, you can stay" he said gruffly. "For now," he added to make sure she didn't forget the difference between them.

She smiled hesitantly and started looking at the people dancing again. Maybe it was a sign that Lear had sat down next to her, already a surprising event in itself. "It's a wonderful party," she said shyly.

"Hmph, of course everyone is enjoying themselves" Lear said haughtily.

She kept her hand on the small box in her bag, trying to find the courage to bring it out. If only Pikachu was here, but Serena and Dawn had taken it along to sample some of the special treats for Pokemon with Alcremie and Whimsicott.

"But only for one night, then we're back to competing - of course, I'll win."

That overwhelming confidence was certainly a trademark of Lear, she thought and just smiled at him directly.

"I see you're also participating in that silly tradition," Lear said suddenly, unnerved by her smile. It was comforting yet maddening, bringing feelings that he did not want to examine at the moment to the surface. She beat him, he reminded himself. He would beat her in the finals, he thought quickly. But at this moment, the PGL felt so far away, and it was only them alone in this moment.

She tried to hide her surprise at Lear's comment. He'd noticed her box? But it was in her bag. "Um..."

"Tiring yourself out, no doubt, instead of training. Chasing many people instead of training." He deliberately made his voice harsher than usual, trying to brush away the thoughts in his head of her smile, of her.

He'd seen her earlier? "Um, it wasn't that tiring..."

Lear looked at her incredulously. "You made chocolate in large quantities, packaged it all up, then distributed it for hours earlier today and you're not tired?"

She turned bright red. How long had he been watching her? "Well, maybe a little..."

He glared at her.

"But it was worth it," she said quickly. "Since I really like Palentine's..." She gathered up her courage and brought out the last box.

"Hmph." She winced at his glare, but then she realized he wasn't glaring at her directly but at the box in her hand.

"Well, the party's almost over. You better get a move on and give that to whoever you plan to give that to-" Probably someone kind to her, he thought with annoyance, maybe that guy with the Rockruff who called her his rival, maybe one of the renowned trainers not on her team- that Trainer with the red cap that everyone admired that had beaten him-

That was the last straw, especially since eventually Bettie's Team and that Trainer would meet, and perhaps like all the teams Bettie had defeated before, even HIM she might befriend-

Bettie grasped his sleeve as he moved to get up, pulling him back down and shutting down his destructive thoughts for a moment.

"Yes, I should."

He felt his temper, already ignited, rise. "What, you want me to lead you to whoever it is? Bettie, release me, I don't have time for your-"

"It's for you," she said firmly as she held out the box to him. "Please accept it."

She'd seen Lear stunned once, when she'd beaten him and his Staraptor. This was the second time.

"Um, because you're doing your best to make the PGL fair and giving us trainers a great challenge and making sure the Pokemon Center... and all of Pasio is here for all us trainers! And giving us the Battle Villa and all the different ways of training to make us all stronger- and you make me want to work harder as a person since you're- you're one of my important rivals, the most important one-"

"I... I can't!"

"Oh no, I'm sorry" she cried, her hand still frozen and holding out the box to him. Could a hole suddenly open up that she could crawl into? Of course Lear wouldn't accept her chocolate, why had she hoped otherwise? Had he heard her word vomit? Molayne, she thought desperately as she bowed her head in shame, I need your Dugtrio-

"Oh!" Both of them froze as they recognized the voice of the person who had spoken. "How nice! Bettie has given you chocolates, Master Lear!"

Lear stiffly turned to look at Rachel, who was accompanied by Sawyer, who also looked astonished.

"Of course Master Lear will accept, will he not?" Sawyer then grinned at Lear, though it was not the usual grin he gave Bettie when she would beat him in the Battle Villa. It seemed to have some... bite.

"I... I..."

"Prince Lear is of course, a gentleman and also the organizer of this party," Rachel said in a singsong manner. "It would be strange if he didn't partake of the customs of the island he has built."

Bettie finally found the courage to look up. Were Sawyer and Rachel... helping her?

"F-Fine," Lear exclaimed, roughly taking the box from Bettie. "I-I'll accept it!"

"There," Rachel said, a satisfied look blooming on her face. "Isn't that nice, Bettie?"

"Yes, of course" she said, then finally stood up. "Thank you, um, happy Palentine's Day Sawyer, Rachel, Lear!" She saw Pikachu out of the corner of her eye, waving its paw curiously at her, its tail raised. Dear Pikachu, it probably sensed her extreme discomfort. "Pikachu's calling me, sorry" she said quickly before leaving the three.

Lear stared blankly at the box in his hand, the box he'd forcefully taken from Bettie.

"Perhaps," Rachel whispered to Sawyer, "it is time for spring for Master Lear."

Sawyer chuckled. "Maybe a late spring, but certainly it will arrive someday."