Chapter 16: Proposal
“She’s too good for me Gramps.” Gary Oak never liked admitting that something was wrong with himself fundamentally. He was intelligent and talented, if his research escapades and ownership of the Viridian City Gym were any indication. He was well trained and well armed, something quickly understood if you took a mere glance at his arsenal of exceptional Pokemon. He was handsome and famous—you only needed to catch a glance of him on a tabloid or being followed in the street. However, when the issue at hand involved a certain redheaded spitfire, the Viridian Gym leader was far more inclined to seeing and accepting the odious truths about himself. Especially when the company he was speaking to wouldn’t judge or mock him.
“Oh stop it Gary. Misty is perfect for you,” the wizened voice of Professor Samuel Oak responded instantaneously. The elder Oak was acquainted with his grandson’s insecurities and how foolish they sometimes were. Thus, he continued reading the article before him about a new evolutionary sequence for a Pokemon and sipped his coffee gingerly.
“Yes, she is,” he mumbled tenderly as a mental picture of the Cerulean Gym leader popped into his mind. “But I’m not enough for her.”
Gary had been pensive lately whenever the thoughts about his girlfriend and long time partner came to mind. It had been years of companionship, though it felt like only weeks and months in retrospect, with the fiery Waterflower in his life. She was both his friend and lover; and she was probably the most important person to him in existence, save for perhaps his family. Yet Gary couldn’t help his growing desire to make her more to him, to make her a part of the family he held so dear to his heart.
Then the dread and unworthiness struck him.
The brunette would be beaten down with insecure thoughts about how perfectly foolish the idea of marrying him would sound to his girlfriend. Sure, they had been together for years and were well matched. But marriage was something serious, something permanent. It meant loving someone before yourself, caring for someone absolutely.
And as much as the versatile trainer wished to brush away his concerns regarding the situation, thoughts of dread and simultaneous desire would always surge onto him concerning this topic.
“Gary, you know as well as I do that the pair of you are wonderfully compatible. Perfect for each other, in fact! Stop being needlessly insecure.” The elder Oak clucked as he spooned his coffee into his mouth, trying to reassure the brunette of what everyone was already familiar with. He knew how well matched the two younger gym leaders were, in life and in happiness.
“Gramps,” Gary sighed, tapping his fingers together nervously as his eyes scanned the wooden grains of the table in exclusivity, picking out mindless patterns as his thoughts whirled. If he couldn’t even gather the courage to tell one of the people he trusted most in life about his thoughts, what hope existed for him asking the real question to the woman plaguing his emotions? “I want to marry her.”
The spray of coffee across the table would have been hilariously amusing for the younger Oak in any other situation, but he merely maintained his stern features and ducked his head in consternation. This wasn’t the reaction he was hoping for at this moment of deep vacillation. Nor were the disbelieving coughs and thumps to the chest, which had the taller male bowing lower and closer to the table’s surface with each sound. His grandfather's reaction didn't reassure him in the least.
“G-Gary,” the Professor coughed, trying to gather his wits visibly. “You’re thinking about marriage?” The green eyed man couldn’t force his gaze up to meet his grandfather’s, fully expecting and fearing disapproval in his features.
“Yes,” he weakly responding, now completely mesmerized by the patterns and shapes formed within the rings of the wood his face was practically pressed against. But his thoughts were blank. There was nothing within him at this moment that reflected the Gary Oak known and feared in Kanto and beyond. This person was just Gary Oak, the confused twenty-four year old trying to figure out his life.
“Since how long ago?” a hesitant voice questioned and this caused the brunette to glance up; his grandfather sounded serious and gentle, and it was reflected in his face. Those familiar and all knowing eyes crinkled slightly at the corners while the wrinkled creases by his mouth were framing straight lips. The expression was a perfected poker face, and it strangely brought a sense of comfort to his hesitancy.
“A couple of months now, on and off.” To be fair, it had been more than year when this stray thought had occurred to him, and those couple of months had been his best efforts to fight the idea down back into the depths from which it had mysterious came. But that wasn’t relevant information to share with his grandfather. “More so ‘on’ though, as of late,” he continued in a hushed tone, hoping that it didn’t catch the ears of his elder.
There was a silence reigning over the pair of Oaks, the only noticeable distraction being the rhythmic ticking of the large cuckoo clock hanging on the wall. If it weren’t for this ever clicking stream of noise, the room would be completely devoid of sounds.
“How seriously do you feel about it?” was the breaking phrase, with a tone so neutral that the younger had no means to decipher it. Honesty appeared to be the best course of action in this scenario.
“Enough to know that the idea of spending every day of my life for the rest of it with her doesn’t worry me a single bit.” There. He had said what he’d been feeling. And strangely, it was refreshing.
“Then, Gary, you have my full support on this matter.” It was a momentary silence before his quiet and nervous mind began running through all the possibilities that his elder’s statement could signify.
“You do.” The reply was strangely nonchalant. “I can see you genuinely mean that, and that’s only something people in real love experience. People like your grandmother and I or your parents. So of course I support you if you decided to marry Misty.” Across the table, Professor Oak smiled kindly upon his grandson and waited for his reaction.
“Wow. Um, thanks Gramps.” What else could the younger say? Never in his darkest imaginings did it occur to him that he’d have unconditional support with minimal effort.
“Ha, what did you think I would refuse you something you genuinely wanted?” And it seemed that the Oak intelligence truly stemmed from past generations because Samuel Oak was very aware of Gary’s musings. Or perhaps his facial expression of extreme relief gave him away.
“Well, yeah actually.”
“Oh Gary. Sometimes I wonder where that genius of yours goes at times like this.” And there it was. A Oak was alway smarter and a smart ass to the rest, even between family members. “Anyway, I think you have more important things to focus on.”
“Like what?” He was so beyond relieved and reassured that these dreaded words couldn’t quite penetrate his mind. What had he missed that was obvious to his elder?
“Like how you’re going to ask her, and get her to agree,” were his words before his eyes dropped to the paper in his hands and the cooled coffee beside it was raised to his awaiting mouth.
She actively buzzed around the Waterflower kitchen, making a graceful turn here and there as she switched back and forth between the ingredients on the table and the stove. His fascination with her grace wasn’t something new to him; it was a development he’d watched flourish through their many years together as the redhead excelled in all facets of her life. In this moment, he’d just seemed far more conscious of it than he’d normally be. Blame it on the thoughts and fears he’d been having concerning their relationship.
Tonight was a normal Thursday evening, with the gyms closed and Gary driving up to Cerulean for a weekend together. It was Misty’s turn to cook in their rotation of schedules, which she was doing exceptionally well if anyone ventured to ask, so he was ‘relaxing’ as he ground together some dinner for his Umbreon and her Vaporeon; the pair of them were jovially playing tag in the living room and effectively out of any potential danger for causing an accident. But that also gave his attention the reign to focus solely on his fiery girlfriend and his plaguing imaginings.
The real reason the poor Viridian Gym leader couldn’t gather himself was actually a small velvet box that sat innocently in his jacket pocket, bouncing against him every time he took a step. The constant reminder of his goal for this evening was burdening his mental state; would he even have the courage to look at her without guilt and fear?
Calling to their Pokemon, he placed the chow down on the floor near the kitchen but outside of it to not disturb his girlfriend. Despite being an exceptional gym leader, Misty had a tendency of klutziness when it came to the relaxed environment of her home. There had been many a time when she tripped in his presence. That only ever led to disastrous face-plants or pain on his end from trying to catch her and taking the fall for her. With Vaporeon and Umbreon happily occupied, the brunette took a moment to lean against the doorframe as his spitfire girlfriend swayed softly to the ballad playing from her beat-up radio. This song was not a one he was familiar with, but it took his breath away as he surveyed her to-and-fro steps in time with the melody.
When the music was coming to an end, Gary had an amused and brave thought. Maybe he could enter his comfort zone and confront his challenge with a little musical assistance. Striding to stand a hair’s width away from the Cerulean City’s gym leader, the viridian eyed man reached around the woman to spin off the gas dial on the stove and collect the focused redhead in his arms. She gave an undignified squeak at his actions, but he did not heed her refusal as he twisted her around.
When the radio started playing out tunes with a jazzy feel, a perfect setting for dancing, Gary smirked with confidence as he grabbed her smaller hands and pulled her into his frame. With an elegance that came from years of experience, the brunette perfectly set them in position and carefully started stepping to the rhythm with his confused girlfriend following in half-stumbles. He righted her every time though, and very soon they pair were swaying softly to the piano, guitar and saxophone tones being played. It was hard not for them to fall into a lull, but Gary’s mind was far too awake to actually lose himself in the music. Instead, he found himself unable to remove his gaze and hands from the petite figure pressed up against him, soft hands around his neck and face pressed into his collarbone. The way she simply fit against him spurred him to let the jumble of feelings inside himself out into her world.
“You’re unbelievably beautiful, you know?” he whispered into her hair instead, taking in that familiar lemon and chlorine smell that never left her. He felt her giggle beneath him, a sensation that reverberated through his chest and the tall gym leader was sure she could feel his heartbeat skip.
“And you’re unbelievably handsome. Is this a compliment party we’re throwing?” she quipped, raising her head to meet eyes and bring that comfort to their conversation.
“No. I just want to let you know that I think you’re beautiful and perfect and I’m so lucky you’re mine.” Trying to bring out the words from his very soul, the green eyed former researcher watched her with a mature and calm air contradicting his internal squirming. The aqua eyed gym leader gave the other a peculiar look before she spoke.
“Huh? No retort or insult? Are you sick Mr. Oak?” Trying to pull her hands away from his neck to probably feel his forehead, Gary knew subconsciously that the time he was trying to evade was slowly crawling upon him. He squeezed the redhead flush against him, preventing her from actually reaching out to touch him motherly. She squeaked awkwardly and tried to hit him, but he planted his face into the crook of her shoulder and took a steadying breath. She stilled beneath him and when he mumbled against her neck, he felt her arms curl under his shoulders in comfort.
“Hey,” she called out quietly, “what’s up Gary? Are you okay?” Her hand was suddenly in his spiked hair, brushing through the strands in gently strokes. Repeating his name in concern, the water type trainer soothingly tried to engage the other while he focused on his next words.
“Misty,” his voice cooed against her skin, warm and soft. She ran her fingers across his scalp slowly and his shoulders relaxed a tad. He could do this. “I’m not okay lately.”
This was it, his moment to make or break his pride and heart. “I’m not okay when you’re mine and yet I still want more from you. I’m not okay when the only thought I keep having is why aren’t I taking a stand and having you actually be mine. I’m just not okay thinking about how much I need you and being afraid that you wouldn’t feel the same.”
“Gary, what are you-” there was no time for her to pull away and question his motivations. The brunette would not allow that when he’d finally found himself at his crossroad. His lips were against her with intensity, hand sliding up into her orange locks to steady her head. As a man of action he understood his best persuasion would be in this manner, so he clutched Misty even closer and prompted his tongue against her lips asking for entrance. The invitation was gladly accepted and the pair were lost to the world as their passion suddenly built up. Sliding his hands down to her butt, the green eyed trainer hoisted his girlfriend onto his hips and guided them a few steps towards the nearby counter.
If not for his still anxious heart, Gary would admit he was finally comfortable to let out the words he’s been hiding. But he didn’t stop his ministrations upon her as they bumped into the counter and Gary repositioned his hands around the redhead. Misty, in turn, secured him around the waist with her toned legs and renewed their lip lock frenzy. Her petite fingers probed their way underneath his shirt and he mimicked her action by tugging up her tanktop and cupping her breast.
In the heat of their passion, the former researcher realized that there was nothing to be afraid of. This girl, no this woman, had loved him through his fortes and his faults without faltering. And Gary knew there would never be another that could fill his heart the way she did, even if he searched the world for a thousand years. She gave him all the love he could ever want, willingly, and never refused despite his shortcomings. Being perfect for him, why should he cower at the thought of finally having her symbolically the way he’d certainly had her physically and mentally? After all, he reciprocated the sentiment in equal, if not greater, measure.
“Misty,” he breathed against her freshly bitten, cherry lips which puffed back against him in quick succession. “Misty, marry me.” He watched her with half lidded eyes and persuaded his heart to slow down as he gauged her. The hand pressed against the small of her back began rubbing delicate circles into the skin in his nervousness.
“Marry you?” was the husky reply as she opened her own eyes and took in his countenance. Her aquamarine orbs steadily sought out the meaning behind his own viridian glance, probing but never making him feel uncomfortable. In fact, the brunette felt too comfortable squeezed between her thighs, hands smoothing up and down her body, his heart and mind completely at her whim just as much as his lust.
“Yeah. Please.” It wasn’t the most eloquent response, but the Oak could do little more than mubble in uncertainty as the gravity of his question and her penetrating, but gentle, gaze centered solely upon him. The brunette was lost for a moment in the overwhelming doubts suddenly surging into his mind when the hands pressing into his chest began sliding awkwardly up to his neck, looping his shirt uncomfortably around his neck. But the unusualness of his state of dress was forgotten when she used her strength to pull him to her and give him a secure embrace. Her face was nuzzling his neck and he crossed his arms over her back to once again have her flush against him.
“Yes Gary,” were the words that heated his skin near her mouth. “Yes, oh Mew, yes.” Gary felt the youngest Waterflower clench him more firmly to her petite form, trembling subtly as her lips ghosted over his veins. With every peck came a soft, affirmative. The Viridian gym leader’s heart raced a mile a minute in excitement as she continued her onslaught, disbelieving that his courage had paid off in an agreement from the only woman who’d ever caused him fear. He wasn’t sure if her trembling was from nervousness or something else, but when he pulled a hand free to cup her chin and glimpse her face, he found the redhead in tears. Though her lips were upturned, he was panicked and quickly released her to hold both her cheeks within his larger hands.
“Misty, babe, what’s wrong?” he worried, wondering how his momentary bliss at her acceptance was instantly transformed into heartache at her teary features. What had he done wrong? The aqua eyed woman must have realized his panic from his confused gaze, because she was mimicking his actions, his cheeks cupped in her warm palms, as she shook her head.
“Nothing, I’m just so . . . happy. I’m so happy, I’m crying!” she hiccuped, bringing her lips forward to catch his in a chaste kiss. They pulled away so he could run his thumb underneath her water streaked eye, and he smiled in reassurance.“Me too, Mist, me too.” Gary took a moment to gaze at the perfection that was this woman, promising himself that he’d take this good fortune and make her life as happy as humanly possible. Then he proceeded to kiss her with a renewed fire that only surfaced when he’d won a exceptionally difficult Pokemon battle or was loving her. And now he’d have it for the rest of his life.
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