(this fic has implied sex but nothing explicit. It's also probably the world's only RealContendershippy fanwork, although hopefully someday it won't be alone! Contains spoilers for the entire series.)
When Cynthia said she wanted vanilla in the bedroom, she wasn't talking about having more typical sex. She was saying they were out of chocolate.
The Champion wiped at her mouth with a cloth and rolled over, embracing Mitsumi. "You're tense tonight," she muttered, brushing against the other woman's hair. "Chill not going away?"
Unconciously, Mitsumi rubbed her bare stomach where the ice cream had sat. It had been a small amount, of course, but it felt heavy in her mind. "It's a little weird," she said at last, slower than normal. She stared up at the dimly-lit ceiling for a moment before twisting out of Cynthia's hold.
Cynthia pouted, flopping over and grabbing a pillow. "I expected you to have a bit more energy and you're already falling asleep?"
Mitsumi's only reply was to curl tighter, pulling the covers around her form until she was fully covered. She couldn't sleep, but it was probably better to let Cynthia think she was.
The next morning, Mitsumi got up early. She had finally fallen asleep just as Cynthia was getting up, and dreamed of her lover getting dressed. Such an utterly mundane activity that she had been initially unsure that it had been a dream, until she recalled that it had ended with her luring Cynthia back to bed for some "special training".
She showered, thinking of nothing in particular, and redressed in the nightclothes that had been tossed on the floor the night before. The sun was just starting to peek in through the window and already Mitsumi knew she wouldn't feel up to going anywhere that day. At least she could work from home.
Jun had sent her some field videos of wild Chanseys, taken during his travels with Hareta. Someone had to keep an eye on that boy, and Jun was reliable for that as well as continuing his job as one of Rowans' aides. Mitsumi had been a little jealous, missing the journey, but her relationship with Cynthia had just taken the more intense turn and she didn't want to turn away.
"I should have gone with them," she muttered as a video played, then turned away from the computer. "...I love her, don't I?"
For breakfast, she made a quick smoothie, resembling the ones that had been stocked in the Team Galactic break room fridge for as long as she could remember. It was the first thing she had ever learned to make, back when she had just been brought into the fold, back when she was learning to destroy any opponent who got in her way but still had to stand on a stepstool to reach the countertop.
As she took a drink, she thought back on those days as she usually did. She was far too young to be a Galactic, both morally and by official policy, but they had made an exception for her. Cyrus himself had taken her in, and even in those days he commanded great obedience from everyone around him. Of course, she'd been too young as well to understand that. She didn't fear him then because she didn't understand how dangerous he was.
It was hard to imagine a future back then that didn't involve Team Galactic. They were her life, her very breath, the blood in her veins, and to turn and leave that all behind had been unthinkable for everyone. Even now, after there was no more Team, after they had all gone their separate ways yet remained near each other, she could still feel the intense burning resistance to violating their beliefs.
The wild Chanseys in the video took her back to that. They lived lives of compassion, devoting themselves to the aid of others, and in the back of her mind, Mitsumi kept thinking about how wrong that was. "We're all alone in the world," she repeated under her breath, the statement that had defined her life in those days.
No matter that they had all stuck together after all was said and done, that they had opened themselves to the others in their lives, that even Cyrus was working to free himself from that mindset that had kept them all trapped. It had happened, and it had affected them all.
"Chaaaaansey!" sounded behind her, and she jolted. Cynthia laughed, slinging her trademark long coat over a chair. "How can you be glum watching a video of something so cheerful?"
Mitsumi shook her head, turning around towards her. "How was your training?"
"Don't try to change the subject. What's going on? You've been a sourpuss since last night. Are you getting sick?" Cynthia's tone was surprisingly stern, considering her humor a moment ago. "Here, let me feel your forehead."
Mitsumi squirmed away from Cynthia's touch, facing the screen again. "I'm fine. Let me finish watching this. Jun said something unusual happens near the end."
"Fine." Cynthia lingered for a bit, shifting her weight from side to side as the Chanseys onscreen started to dance around. "Made another of those drinks, did you?" she asked the second the video was over, as she picked up the glass. "They smell like swampwater and taste like something died in it."
Mitsumi took a moment to reply, writing up a summary of what Jun had sent and sending it to Rowan. "They're nutritious."
"Yeah, if they put you off food the rest of the day. You're still frowning, you know. You're probably the only person I know who can watch dancing Chanseys and still frown. I think even cranky old Rowan would crack a smile at that."
The elderly professor wasn't so much 'cranky' as he was staid, a distinction he was always quite clear on, but Mitsumi just nodded absently and took the glass from Cynthia, downing the remainder. "How was training?"
"Oh goodness, it's so hot out! Garchomp was complaining so much, and someone tried to swipe my coat when I set it down!" As if suddenly reminded of the heat, she opened the freezer and got out the tub of ice cream from the night before. "Want any?"
But Mitsumi couldn't think straight, and turned back to the screen.
"Mitsuuuuuumi~" Cynthia teased, bringing the ice cream closer, a spoon dripping with thick vanilla. "Open wiiiiiide~"
Mitsumi ducked her head, pulling away from the offered utensil with her mouth tightly shut.
"Oh come on!" the blonde pouted, licking the rapidly melting ice cream off the spoon before it could fall on the ground. "All of a sudden you hate ice cream?"
The younger woman squirmed in her seat. "Cynthia, stop it!"
Cynthia's expression changed entirely. She was in Champion Mode, the serious woman the Sinnoh region revered, and she rested a hand on Mitsumi's shoulder. "Mitsumi. Look at me."
Mitsumi did as she was told, trailing her gaze up Cynthia's bare arm up to her grey eyes. "...yeah?" she asked hesitantly.
"I know something's going on. Are you uncomfortable with...us?" The last word was a bit softer than the others.
And Mitsumi's gaze fell almost as soon as she had fixed it.
"...I see." Cynthia wandered away a few steps to the couch, her hand now on the back in anticipation of needing to hold onto something unyielding.
"I love you!" Mitsumi insisted, following Cynthia over and embracing her from behind. She repeated it nuzzled against Cynthia's back.
Cynthia sighed. "This is another 'Galactic Thing', isn't it? They messed you up so bad, sweetie..." She turned around to embrace Mitsumi fully.
"It's got to be," Mitsumi muttered, "but I don't really know how to put it in words."
"Is it OK to kiss you at least?"
That brought a smile to Mitsumi's lips, and right away, Cynthia was there too. But so was the taste of ice cream, and she pulled back far too suddenly for it to be romantic. She slumped down on the couch in shame. "I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me."
"Well, let's try to figure it out." Cynthia sat next to her and slung an arm over her shoulders. "You said that it's probably a Galactic thing. Last time we talked about that was when we started dating."
"Yeah..." Mitsumi pulled closer to Cynthia, snaking an arm behind her back and winding fingers in the Champion's long hair.
"Is it still hard for you to be in a relationship?"
Team Galactic had banned any romance amongst its members, considering it needless waste. "Always," Mitsumi sighed, "but I feel like this is something more complicated."
Cynthia rubbed at Mitsumi's far shoulder. "Hmm. It's not your advantage, is it? Assimilating into a normal life can have drawbacks if you internalize the wrong things."
Mitsumi shook her head. Her 'advantage' had been that she had never experienced any negative stigma for favoring women. All sexual orientations, Cyrus had preached, were equally unimportant and should be equally disregarded, as they were based in emotion.
"Well, that's good. I think grandma's just starting to come around to us. Took her long enough to stop talking about how I needed to stay away from big cities whenever I'd talk about girls," Cynthia pouted.
Mitsumi only muttered, staring off towards a bookshelf although it was apparent that she wasn't really looking at it.
"Do you...enjoy being with me?" Cynthia's voice had lowered in volume, eyes turned floorward.
The planned enthusiastic reply choked in Mitsumi's throat, and she could only provide "Of course."
"Do you mean that?"
Mitsumi was silent, deep in thought, and broke the stillness with a pained "Yes. But it's confusing."
"Love is generally confusing. Or that's what people say," Cynthia whispered, inching close to Mitsumi's ear. "I love you, and I really feel like you love me. If I'm mistaken, please let me know and we'll call it an honest mistake. If you do, then I want to make it work. Please talk to me." She brushed a stray dark green hair away from Mitsumi's face. "I want to develop this with you."
"I..." There weren't any words. Mitsumi turned and kissed Cynthia again, far more passionately than before.
Cynthia smiled, her hand on the side of Mitsumi's face. "I believe you."
But Mitsumi was still silent, nuzzling against her lover and trying to form some wisdom from her scattered thoughts.
"Mitsumi, can you say something?"
Silence. Then finally "...I think it's a Galactic thing" came, murmured against Cynthia's shoulder.
"Mm? How so?"
Mitsumi pulled away, but only a bit. "When we...you and I, when we make love, I..." Her gaze fell, avoiding direct contact. "I really enjoy it. And the way I was raised, I..."
Cynthia rested a hand on Mitsumi's leg. "I get it."
"N-no. See, I love the petting. I love the nicknames. I love the elaborate situations. I even love the ice cream! But every time, I just hear those speeches in the back of my mind and I--"
This would continue and only make Mitsumi's mood worse, and Cynthia wasn't about to let that happen. "You enjoy it. Do you think there's anything wrong with it?"
With a sigh, Cynthia stood, leaning over Mitsumi with her arms on each side of the young woman. "Yes or no."
Mitsumi finally looked back up. "No."
"Do you want help getting over that utter crap you were taught back then?" Cynthia's grey eyes narrowed.
With a gulp, Mitsumi smiled. "I do."
"Good. Then I'll get the ice cream." With a quick kiss, she pulled Mitsumi up off the couch and into her arms. "The healing begins today!"
And Mitsumi laughed, feeling better already. It might be a long road to recovery, but she was at least already looking forward to the journey.
Goodness knows they'd have enough to eat along the way.