In the darkness of Ever Grande, the ground shakes with each giant step. A nervous face watches his departure from the window, carefully hiding behind the curtains if there's ever a risk of him looking back. At last, she gives a sigh of relief.
"Okay, guys, he's gone, we can make insensitive jokes now."
Immediately she and Sidney start with their improvised morbid comedy routines.
"She was a Dragon-type user, right?" snickers Sidney. "Well I guess she's dra-gone now!"
Glacia gives them a disapproving look. "That was not only a terrible pun, but it was incredibly disrespectful, not to mention beyond unprofessional."
"I must admit," admits Wallace shyly, shuffling a stack of paper on the desk. "Her death was dreadfully inconvenient."
Phoebe, not missing a beat, chimes in with a, "Are you sure you don't mean dead-fully inconvenient?"
"I can guarantee that you wouldn't be making those jokes if you knew her," says Glacia disapprovingly.
"Eh, I wouldn't mind if my gramps kicked the bucket already," says Phoebe. "Besides, we didn't know her, and we even decided to be nice and wait for Drake to leave!"
"I just hope nobody we know ever dies again while I'm Champion," says Wallace. "Or at least that nobody ever has to take time off work for mourning. The paperwork is a nightmare."
"Well, I'll let Drake know if I see her around," concludes Phoebe, and that's the end of that. "So since he's not here, obviously we can't take challengers, right?"
Wallace sighs heavily. "Okay, you can go, but if you see anyone from the League then hide behind a bush or something. I'm not doing any more paperwork today. I'm heading to Mossdeep."
"What for?" asks Sidney smugly, and from the smirk on his face it's blatantly clear that he does indeed know.
"Oh, get your mind out of the gutter. We're just going to go to lunch and watch a movie, nothing more."
"If you insist," says Glacia, her smirk rivaling Sidney's, and Wallace neglects to give his boring speech about how she's normally above their petty teasing. Instead, he sends out his beloved Milotic and lets her ride on his shoulder as he walks out of the building. Once at the beach, he lets her dive into the water, and then gets on her back, the water soaking his white cape. He can't wait to see the look on Steven's face when he sees him.
When your astonished boyfriend asks, "How did you get time off work?!", the best answer is generally not to look him dead in the eye and say, "Illegally." But if that is your chosen method to inform him, the look on his face as he tries to figure out what sort of crime you've commited is certainly entertaining.
Wallace spends far longer than he should enjoying Steven's bemused expression, but eventually he can't stop himself from laughing, and his laughter clues Steven in to the fact that nothing concerning is going on. "Okay," says Steven. "You got me there. What's the real story?"
"Technically it wasn't truly legal," argues Wallace. "Anyway, Drake's taking some time off -- death in the family, I'm afraid -- and we all sort of figured that if we can't take challengers without him then we might as well just leave. But I didn't want to do any more paperwork, so I just didn't bother making it official. So legally speaking, I'm still meant to be in Ever Grande."
"Oh, I guess that makes sense. I actually did that a few times, back when I was Champion. You could have called ahead, though."
"I thought it would be a nice surprise," says Wallace, seeming genuinely offended by Steven's shock at the visit. "I was thinking perhaps we could go to lunch and maybe catch a movie later on?"
Steven opens his mouth to agree, then closes it. For a few seconds he opens and closes his mouth like a Magikarp as he tries to find the words for what to say, then finds a compromise between being open and closed -- that is, an apologetic grimace.
"I'd love to, I really would," he says apologetically. "But I promised Rachel I'd babysit the twins -- you know, Tate and Liza. She has her sister's wedding, you see, and I was the only person available..."
He trails off mareepishly, but Wallace grins. "You do know I adore children, Steven. I would be happy to help you with the twins."
"That... certainly sounds like an interesting date." He tries, with varying degrees of success, to sound like it also sounds like an appealing one. "And we could watch a movie to keep them entertained, like you suggested..."
"So it's settled then. We're babysitting together."
The twins are blue and full of errors.
Not literally blue, of course, that would be impossible -- but their dark blue hair combined with their bright blue clothes make it easy to think otherwise. But they are certainly full of errors in the literal sense. They refuse to sit still for two minutes, it takes half an hour for Steven to suggest a movie without being interrupted, they spend another half hour arguing over what movie to watch, and even when they're actually watching it they still refuse to stop fidgeting. Not to mention that the twins are clearly identical, biologically speaking, and yet they seem to be different genders, if Tate really is a boy like everyone claims.
Steven looks at Wallace with a smirk. "Still adore children?" he whispers.
Wallace develops a mock-offended look. "Of course I do! This is the way children naturally behave, and while it can be annoying at times, it's a beautiful example of humans flourishing and learning!"
"Ah, of course. I could never stand kids myself. Except..." He tries to remember her name, then gives up. "Except Bandana Girl. I like her."
Wallace groans. "Steven, please tell me that when you say 'Bandana Girl', you don't mean May? As in, the one that saved the world from Groudon and Kyogre? The one whose name you should definitely be able to remember?"
Steven blushes. "I never claimed to be good at remembering names. But I do genuinely like May, and not just because she saved the world."
"I agree." Wallace smiles fondly. "She's like the niece I never had."
Then the movie is interrupted by the loud ringing of Steven's PokéNav, and he hurries to silence it before the twins kick up a fuss. He holds it to his ear. "Hello? ...Oh, everything's fine, we're watching a movie now. Hm? ... Oh, that's wonderful. Thanks."
He hangs up and turns to Wallace. "That was their mother. The wedding went faster than expected and she'll be here soon. Which means we can go out for dinner later, if you like."
Wallae smiles. "That would be lovely."
Kind words are exchanged over a plate of some Kalosian food Wallace can't recall the name of, both he and Steven blushing with a furious intensity. "Thank you so much for the meal," Wallace says for the tenth time, turning redder with each word. "It's wonderful."
"Wallace, my father is literally the head of Devon, you know money is rarely an issue for my family. It would be needlessly selfish of me to insist that you pay."
In the darkness of the restaurant, the candle illuminates Wallace's face, which is now so red that it's about to go to Mt. Silver for three years. He feels tears welling up in his eyes, though the cause is uncertain -- he wants to say joy, or maybe take the easy way out and insist that the cooks are cutting onions, but he can't deny the rising anxiety in his chest with seemingly no cause.
But he's not going to let unfounded paranoia ruin this night, so he blinks back the tears. "I'm so glad I met you."
His unease must show in his voice because Steven frowns. "Is everything okay?"
"Everything's better than okay, Steven, this is just ... this is just so perfect that it's getting me emotional. I'm so glad I met you, Steven, I'm so grateful for your presence in my life."
"As am I grateful for yours," says Steven, placing a hand on Wallace's. "I love you, Wallace."
"I love you too. You've been nothing but a positive force in my life. Steven, I love you more than anyone else in the world has ever loved anyone and I never want us to be apart. I love you so much, Steven."
And the two continue to exchange declarations of love in between mouthfuls of some Kalosian food neither can recall the name of, completely unaware of the meteor hurtling towards them, ready to make impact in mere seconds.