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Chapter 27: Chapter 27

As the sunlight entered Valerie's office, it fell onto Sylveon's eyes. She tried to ignore it, refusing to move into a different position so that her eyes wouldn't be targeted, but she was comfy. In the end, she got up with a growl. One of her feelers came to her right eye, rubbing it gently to remove some dirt while the other lazily looked around the room. 

Sylveon's gaze landed on Valerie's form, hunched over on her desk, head resting on the solid surface, arms dangling. A sigh escaped from Sylveon, she knew how much effort Valerie puts in, but like always, she wished she'd take a breather and not work so hard, at least that way she could get a good night's rest. The last Fashion Show was the worst one by far, Valerie had spent multiple sleepless nights making designs for dresses, helping make the dresses from scratch, and making sure she was okay to be standing on stage, answering questions, and many other things before passing out in the break room.

Walking over to her, Sylveon touched Valerie's hand with her feeler. Valerie's body jolted upon contact, her dull eyes looked around the room, dark underneath them. Pushing herself up, Valerie sat straight for a few seconds before she leaned back on her chair. She grunted in pain, feeling it shoot up her back. 

' You should have slept. ' Sylveon said, sending the message through her feelers while placing one on Valerie's back to soothe the pain. 

" Can't! " Valerie croaked, her mouth dry. Sylveon grabbed a bottle of water and handed it to her. Valerie took a large sip, enjoying the cool sensation of the water going down her parched throat. 

" The fashion show is in a couple of days. The stage will be set, the lights have been taken care of, and the visuals and audio are being tested, but more importantly, I still haven't figured out the final piece of clothing I need to finish the set! " Valerie said, placing the bottle on the table and dragging her hands across her face in frustration.

' Then you try again later. For now, let's get something to eat. ' Sylveon said. ' Maybe you'll get some inspiration. '

" ...Fine. " Valerie agreed, getting up from her chair to freshen up before heading outside. 

...

Walking the streets of Laverre City, Valerie wore a thin grey turtleneck with black loose trousers. She returned greetings to the citizens who spoke to her on her way to her local bakery, Mamatte Boulangerie. 

" I can't wait to see what Ms.Valerie's latest line will be!! " One girl gushed to her friend after Valerie continued to walk. 

" I know, but greatness can't be rushed. " Her friend said, " Besides, it's Ms. Valerie, we know it's going to be amazing. " 

' Well, at least it wasn't the ' Is this guy your boyfriend or not? ' stick. ' Valerie thought, having a small smile of relief. 

' Those photos you posted did not help. ' Sylveon rebuttled. 

' They did not. ' Valerie agreed, then chuckled. " But it was fun. "

Walking into Mamatte Boulangerie, Valerie went directly to the front counter. 

" Hello, Valerie. " The waiter greeted from behind the register, holding a notepad. " Judging from your dark eye bags, sluggish demeanor, and the fashion show coming up, you want an Espresso with a little extra sugar, two croissants, a fruit bowl, and finally, a chocolatine. " 

" And... "

" 3 Pokepuffs, Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry for best friend. " The waiter smiled, looking at Sylveon who smiled. Jumping onto the counter, Sylveon walked up to the waiter, gently rubbing her into his hand as he petted her. 

" Good morning to you as well Alexis, you are still as cheerful ass ever in the mornings. " Valerie said. 

" Well, one of us has to be. " Alexis replied, giving Valerie's order to another employee. " On the other hand, did your late-night escapade help you in any way? "

" ...It did not. " Valerie admitted. " I passed out. The last time I checked the clock, it was around 4:30. "

"Again! " Alexis exclaimed, taking a deep breath and exhaling. " Valerie, for the love of Arceus, get some sleep or at least do anything else to give your brain some time to reboot. You're not going to be able to get any ideas like this. " 

" Yeah, yeah, I know. " Valerie scoffed. " I've tried to do other things but I can't think of anything else. " 

" And what have you done? " Alexis asked. 

" Painting, some sketches... " Valerie said. 

" And did you end up drawing different clothes? " Alexis asked. 

"...No. " Valerie responded. 

"...You are an idiot. " Alexis replied. " Valerie, when I said doing something else to take your mind off work, I meant do activities that don't have a single relation to designing clothes. Read a book, watch a TV show, or heck, just take an extra long nap in the bathtub. "

" Tch... " Valerie responded by clicking her tongue.

" Don't pull that attitude with me woman, we both know you're the one who's suffering because of your choices. " Alexis retaliated. 

" I hate you. " Valerie said. 

" Say that in front of a mirror next time sweetie. " Alexis said, turning around to the chime of a bell. Grabbing Valerie's packaged order, Alexis handed it over to Valerie after deducting the amount from Valerie's pre-paid tab. 

" Hey. " Alexis called out, stopping Valerie before she could leave. " Take care of yourself. " 

" ...I'll try. Tell Sasha I said hi. " Valerie said, before walking out the door. 

" Don't hesitate to use force. " Alexis said, glancing at Sylveon. Sylveon did a salute to which Alexis smiled, rubbing her head one last time before Sylveon left the bakery and started jogging. 

Dipping and dodging between legs, Sylveon caught up to Valerie and started walking beside her. 

" Whatever advice he gave, ignore it. I'm fine. " Valerie said, glancing down. Sylveon looked up at her with an unamused face. 

' No. ' Sylveon replied. 

Valerie sighed but smiled in the end which in turn caused Sylveon to smile as well. After walking for a while, the two of them were close to the entrance of the Gym. As they kept walking, Sylveon's senses went haywire. Something was wrong so Sylveon applied a small misty terrain, 6 feet in diameter, covering both her and Valerie. 

Valerie stopped moving, her eyes widened as she gazed forward. She repeatedly blinked, bringing her arm up to pinch her cheek. The pain she felt was real, so that must mean the person with blonde hair, wearing a plain white T-shirt with long black pants with a Decidueye and Gengar by his side.

' That's Atsumu, right? ' Valerie asked. 

' Yep. ' Sylveon yipped.

With Atsumu,

' So, what's special about this tree? ' Atsumu asked. 

' It's extremely old. ' Decidueye states, utterly fascinated, and a content smile adorning his beak. ' But more importantly, it's the feel of it. It's incredibly heartwarming! I... can't think of a metaphor to explain it. ' 

' So, is it the reason why this entire feels so comforting? ' Atsumu asked. 

' Yes, it is. ' Decidueye replied. 'Its influence spread to all the other plants in the area. Every single one of them gives off a similar feeling. '

' Huh. That's... incredibly cool. ' Atsumu smiled, taking a photo of the tree using his phone. 

' We have good company. ' Gengar said, waving at their approaching friends. Sylveon walked up to Gengar and the two of them started to converse. 

Atsumu glanced at the woman who was approaching him, his eyes widened, and a smile graced his face. 

" Sup, Valerie. " Atsumu greeted when she got into earshot. 

" Nothing much, what's up with you? " Valerie greeted with a smile of her own. 

" Arrived yesterday and started exploring. " Atsumu said. 

" Yet, the first thing you did was come directly to the gym. " Valerie smirked. 

" Yeah, not challenging you today. " Atsumu said. 

" Well, that's good, though I wouldn't be able to accept your challenge for a few days anyway. " Valerie said. 

" Really? " Atsumu said surprised. " Why? "

" I have a fashion show coming up soon and need to prepare for that. Also, is Decidueye... stand sleeping? " Valerie asked, taking a close look at Decidueye. 

" Hmmm... " Atsumu hummed in confusion, turning his head to find Decidueye standing still, soft snores emanating from him.

" He is. " Atsumu confirmed. Gengar and Sylveon walked up to Decidueye trying to wake him up, by trying to tickle him. But no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't get Decidueye to wake up. Frustrated by the lack of response, a quickly cultivated annoyance to his peaceful face, combined with failure, made Gengar and Sylveon tip Decidueye over. Together, they pushed him back and made him sleep in the middle of the street. 

Atsumu and Valerie chuckled. 

" It's good to see you, Valerie. " Atsumu smiled. 

" It's good to see you too. " Valerie smiled back, then proposed an offer. " Since you're here, how about you come and join me inside, I'll have my breakfast, and then, I can show you around town. " 

" That'd be nice. " Atsumu agreed. 

" Alright then, follow me. " Valerie said, turning around in the direction of the gym, then halted, glancing at Deciueye. " But what about him? " 

Atsumu raised an eyebrow in confusion, taking out Decidueye's Pokeball and recalling him back into it. 

" ...I thought you would try and convince me to get up. " Valerie said. 

" Why would I do that when I can let him out once we get there? " Atsumu asked. 

" Touche. " Valerie admitted. 

The two of them started walking towards the gym side-by-side while Gengar and Sylveon chatted in front of them. 

" By the way, how is no one recognising you? " Valerie asked, as they walked past multiple people and ignored their presence. 

" Because Gengar is using Confuse Ray. " Atsumu replied. 

" So that's why Sylveon used Misty Terrain. " Valerie mused. 

" Clever girl. " Atsumu smiled, looking at Sylveon making funny faces with Gengar. 

" Let's hurry inside before my coffee cools down. " Valerie said, picking up the pace and Atsumu matched her. 

...

Walking inside, Valerie led him through the place till they reached her office. Opening the door, Atsumu was greeted with a very messy room. Paper, charts, pencil scraps, and more were littered across the room. 

" Are you okay or are you just a messy person? " Atsumu asked. 

" I'm...fine. Ignore the mess, I'll clean it up later. Come in, come in. " Valerie encouraged, placing her breakfast on her table, and sat on the couch. 

Atsumu shrugged, walked inside, and sat on the couch while Valerie opened her parcel, bringing out her breakfast and placing them on the table. Atsumu looked down to see a chart on the ground and picked it up. Atsumu stared at the various sketches Valerie made, while she opened up the Pokepuff box and placed them on a plate for Sylveon to eat. 

" These... look good. " Atsumu said, while Valerie was taking a bite out of one of the croissants with jam on it. " So, why was it on the floor? "

" Cause... it's not good. " Valerie said. 

"...How? " Atsumu asked. 

" I made something similar in the past and that... " Valerie said, pointing at the drawing in Atsumu's hand, " Is nothing more than a poor recreation of it. I'd be a disappointment if I showed that. "

" I see... Then does that mean you have something ready or... " Atsumu asked nervously. 

" I have nothing. " Valerie answered, finishing the last piece of her croissant. 

" I'm so confused right now. " Atsumu said. " Is it... normal to be feeling so many things at once? " 

" Yeah. " Valerie agreed. 

" Do you... have an idea of what you want to make? " Atsumu asked. 

" Not a single clue. " Valerie chuckled. " And the fashion show is in 2 weeks. "

" Don't you have clothes by then? " Atsumu asked. 

" Yep. " Valerie said. 

" And you have no idea about what to make? " Atsumu asked. 

" Yep. " Valerie said. 

" So you have till at most... maybe a week to finish your design cause I'm not sure how long it takes to make clothes. " Atsumu said. 

" You're pretty spot on, I have 4 days left to finish a design to have optimal time making them and managing other stuff. " Valerie said, leaning back on the couch, sipping her Espresso. 

" Should... Should I be giving you space? " Atsumu asked. " Like, don't you need to be thinking right now? " 

" Probably. " Valerie said, then frantically saying, " But that's for the thinking part, not you giving me space! " 

" Eh? " Atsumu said, confusion etched on his face. 

" Honestly... I don't mind you being here. It's nice having you here with me. " Valerie said. 

" Oh... No... No problem. " Atsumu said awkwardly. 

A silence grew between them, the two of them staring at each other. Soon, their eyes widened, their concentration grew, and their faces got closer together. Staring into each other's eyes for as long as possible, the two had a staring contest and were unable to look away. The winner was soon decided when Atsumu had to look away because his eyes were getting dry. 

" I win! " Valerie cheered.

" How did do that? " Atsumu asked, readjusting his eyes by blinking repeatedly. 

" I've posed in front of flashing cameras multiple times. Got used to the strain. " Valerie said. 

" Is that something to be proud about? " Atsumu asked. 

" You're just mad you lost. " Valerie said. 

"Uh-huh. So what now? " Atsumu asked. 

" Pretty sure I'm supposed to give you a tour. " Valerie said. 

" Well you did promise to give one after you had your breakfast, but you sure? Considering... " Atsumu then gestured to the entire room. " This whole situation. "

" You referring to my lack of inspirational design for the fashion show? " Valerie asked. 

" Yes, but also, you're office is a mess. " Atsumu deadpanned. 

"...That's what you're concerned about? " Valerie asked. 

" Yeah, 'cause it's bumming me out. " Atsumu said. " I don't like this. " 

" So, between me giving you a tour of this beautiful and cleaning my office, you'd choose... " Valerie nudged forward. 

" Cleaning your office. " Atsumu said. 

" I... what...Why?! " Valerie asked. 

" Is there a special event that happens once every 2 years happening today? " Atsumu asked. 

" No. "Valerie answered. 

" Is there a shop that is giving a massive discount for their excellent food only for today? " Atsumu asked. 

" No! " Valerie said. 

" Is the city going to be destroyed tomorrow? " Atsumu asked. 

" NO! Also, if anyone tried to destroy the city, I would not spare even a single soul. " Valerie said. 

" Noted. So, why do we need to do the tour now? " Atsumu questioned. " I'm not busy at all, so whenever you feel like it, like when you have a break, you can choose the place we visit. " 

Valerie smiled widely at Atsumu before letting out a silent scream of joy, then covered her mouth to muffle her squeals born from pure joy and happiness. She began to chuckle, while letting out a few sobs, some tears rolling down her face. 

' What am I supposed to do?! ' Atsumu thought while watching this. Having never been in this situation, Atsumu stayed seated like a Sawsbuck caught in headlights. 

Valerie looked at Atsumu after she wiped away most of her tears. Her eyes shined like stars, filled with gratitude as she embraced Atsumu in a hug. Her slender arms wrapped around him, face buried a bit below his neck, a bit above his chest, where his chin rested on top of her head. 

Atsumu was overwhelmed. So much happened in such little time that he had no time to process everything. Feeling the woman currently hugging him, Atsumu followed his instincts and gently wrapped his arms around Valerie. Applying a bit of force, Atsumu pulled Valerie in while Valerie slowly started to rock back and forth, and Atsumu followed the rhythm. 

They stayed in that position for quite a while till Valerie started to squirm, loosening the hug. Atsumu let his arms down and Valerie moved back to be able to stare at him. 

" Thanks. " Valerie smiled. " This... was nice. " 

" Yeah, it was. " Atsumu smiled as Valerie slightly chuckled. 

" I've got to ask though, don't you still have work to do? " Atsumu asked. 

" I do. " Valerie confirmed. " But it's all related to the fashion show. So, I have time for other things. " 

" And what's that? " Atsumu asked. 

" I do remember someone saying he wants to clean up my messy office. " Valerie said. 

" Ah, ah, ah... help clean up your office. I'm not doing it by myself. " Atsumu said. 

" So you're not going to clean up my office for me? " Valerie asked with a pout. 

" Yep. " Atsumu replied. " I'm going to help YOU clean YOUR office. " 

" Alright. " Valerie chuckled, standing up. " You gonna get up and help or what? " 

" Yeah, yeah. " Atsumu replied. " You got a broom? " 

" It's over there. " Valerie said, pointing at it leaning against the wall, next to the trash bin. 

" Cool, we can save it for last. " Atsumu said. " Let's pick up your drawings first. " 

" Then throw it in the trash. " Valerie said. 

" Didn't I say the sketch was good? " Atsumu asked. 

" You did. " Valerie confirmed, walking up to him. " But... "

" Right now, I have much better ideas," Valerie says, playfully punching his shoulder. " All thanks to you. " 

" First, that's good. Secondly, I just hugged you. I don't think I did much. " Atsumu said. 

" No, you did. " Valerie said, before giving Atsumu another hug and said, " Thank you. " 

Atsumu didn't respond for a few seconds before his arms wrapped around Valerie and gently tightened his embrace. The hug lasted for a few minutes before they broke and started cleaning Valerie's office, a pleasant atmosphere surrounding them. 

__________________________________________

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