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The Gift of Giving [oneshot]

Panoramic_Vacuum

Hoenn around
Partners
  1. aggron
  2. lairon
The holidays in Hoenn are a busy time, but when Steven goes out of his way to get gifts for his friends, he puts the rest of his holiday plans in jeopardy. In the spirit of the season, the Elite Four band together and help cover for the bedridden Champion, and end up delivering a gift of their own in return.


The Gift of Giving


The saying is "It's better to give than to receive," but sometimes the ones who give the most deserve to receive a gift, too.



"…Boss?"

Discarded wrapping paper lay on the floor of the lounge, and silence finally settled about the room as the other three occupants revealed their own presents.

"…Are… are you serious?" whispered Glacia, eyes still locked on the interior of her own gift box.

Drake's narrowed gaze slid over toward where the Champion sat, a sheepish look on his face and a box of his own resting nearby. Except his was full of tissues.

Steven barely managed a nod in the affirmative before another coughing fit took hold.

"You didn't go to Sinnoh just to get these, did you?" Phoebe held up the polished key stone between her fingers and fixed Steven with an accusatory glare.

Grabbing another tissue, his silence was answer enough.

"It's December," stated Glacia.

This time Steven found his voice, though it was raspy and dry. "Yes, and?"

"You went to Sinnoh in December."

"I had to pick up the last keystone for the set." Steven sniffled again.

"No one goes to Sinnoh in December."

"I –" Another cough. "I did."

"And look what that got you," Glacia folded her arms with the same look her mother had given her when she'd run outside without her coat.

"Yeah, Boss. You don't sound so hot…" Sidney looked more than a little concerned.

"Aye, we appreciate the gifts, lad," Drake added, "but not at the cost of yer own health."

Steven tried to sigh, and all that came out was a wheeze and another cough. "I'll be fine. It's just a cold. Nothing some sleep can't fix." He gingerly rose from his seat with a dismissive wave and shuffled toward the door to their quarters.

"Steven, wait!" Phoebe called before he could leave, and Glacia shot her a look. "It's just… well…"

"Thanks for the stones, Boss. It means a lot," Sidney finished for her. "Now go get some rest."

With a genuine smile, Steven made his departure. "Merry Christmas, everyone."



Glacia was enjoying her morning cup of tea, still mulling over the events from the previous night. The key stone in her palm glinted with a rainbow of hues as she cradled it back and forth, lost in thought.

She'd known the Champion for quite some time now, and she still found herself amazed at the kinds of stunts he'd pull simply for the sake of others. This wasn't the first time he'd up and vanished only to come back with something rare and fantastical to give away, claiming he did it for the thrill of the adventure.

Granted, she never knew what sort of person Steven had been before he bested the League, but she certainly knew he never wanted for much; his father's estate had seen to that. But from the resigned eye rolls from Metagross every time Steven would return and excitedly share his latest find, Glacia suspected he'd always been like this.

Which was why she wasn't wholly surprised when Phoebe blustered into the lounge with both Sableye and Claydol hot on her heels, the latter whining in hollow, distressed tones.

"Glacia, maybe you can talk some sense into him?"

Calmly taking another sip of tea, Glacia asked the question, even though she fully knew what the answer would be. "Talk sense into who, dear?"

Phoebe threw her hands up in defeat. "Steven, that's who! Cradily showed me the thermometer. He's got an awful fever and he's still determined to fly all the way to Rustboro tonight, and that's after he's due for an appearance this afternoon in Lilycove for the Holiday Festival! He doesn't even have a voice, how is he going to give season's greetings to anyone!?" Claydol whined again, all eyes turned to the ice-type trainer in a worried look.

Tucking the key stone back into her pocket, Glacia stood and called forth her Froslass.

"I'll see what I can do," she muttered before slipping from the room.

Phoebe deflated into a nearby chair with a defeated sigh, staring at the two concerned pokemon still hovering nearby. "Not to mention he's the keynote speaker at the New Year Gala in a few days! What are we gonna do if he's still sick then?"

"Well, Wallace would kill us if we canceled the Gala," said Sidney as he came into the room and leaned over the back of the chair to look down at his fellow Elite.

"I know we can't cancel it," she retorted, "but how is the evening going to go if the host is absent?"

Sidney scratched the side of his head in thought. "Aren't we all hosts, technically? It's the League's Gala. Although if it means I don't have to wear that tux anymore…"

He trailed off as Phoebe suddenly shot straight up in her seat.

"That's it!"

"Uhh, what's it?"

She spun and grabbed Sidney by the shoulders, beaming.

"Sid, you're the best!"

With a twirl, she sashayed around the chair and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Quick, go find Drake, and I'll get Glacia."

When he only continued to stare at her with a dumbfounded look, she giggled as she danced out the door, "I'll explain when we're all together. And you better have that tuxedo ready!"



Steven wasn't exactly sure what time it was when he finally found the strength to sit up in bed. His room was dark and quiet with the shades drawn, and he turned to look at the clock on the nightstand.

The display read 7:08 pm, and Steven began to panic. He had to be at his father's holiday party in under an hour.

Ignoring the pounding in his head as he swung his feet to the floor, a round of coughing wracked his frame and set his throat on fire. Sure, he felt like he might collapse at any minute, but he promised he father he'd be there, and he wasn't about to break that promise.

At least until a pair of blue eyes materialized out of the darkness and he stumbled back onto the bed in surprise.

Glacia's Froslass moaned a quiet song as she waved him back beneath the sheets.

"But I –"

She sent him a narrow glare, and he faltered only a moment before stubbornly trying to rise again.

"I… I can't be late…" he coughed again, voice barely a whisper, and Froslass continued to disapprove. "I already missed one appointment today…"

A deep rumble from the doorway froze him in place. Metagross's stern gaze cut through the dim light of the room, and Steven couldn't hide a wince.

"Metagross… You know how much this party meant to Dad. I have to go."

But his partner wouldn't budge. Instead, the television remote lifted from the dresser in a faint blue outline before landing in Steven's lap.

Metagross's eyes flicked toward the tv, and Steven gave it a questioning look.

"What –?"

His question was cut short as Froslass darted forward and toggled the power before changing the channel to the Buzznav news.

Steven sat in silence as the latest stories scrolled across the chipper news anchor's desk. His patience was wearing thin though.

"This is just wasting time. I have to get ready." He moved to stand back up, stifling another coughing fit when the anchor's voice piped back up.

'…And the holiday festivities were in full swing today in Lilycove, as the Lilycove Department Store's Ninth Annual Great Gift Giveaway took place with an unexpected special guest…'

Steven spun to face the television, just as the studio cut to a video clip of the event. Sitting at the center of the holiday display was Glacia, dressed in her Sinnohan cold-weather best, smiling and handing out gifts to the line of waiting children.

As the cheery anchor droned on about how wonderful it was to have one of the Elite make a surprise appearance, Steven turned to look at his partner again, and Metagross gave a reassuring hum.

But even with the knowledge that his absence from Lilycove was excused, Steven was still not convinced it would be in Rustboro, and he was halfway out of bed again when his phone buzzed with a message.

A knowing rumble came from Metagross as Froslass floated over and handed Steven the device.

Sniffling, Steven thumbed through the screen until the message from his father popped up, revealing a picture of the Devon pre-party activities. Smiling back at him was a selfie of his father and Drake locked in a hearty embrace.

'Sorry to hear you're not feeling well, son. We'll have an extra drink for you!'

Just as quickly as the phone was handed to him, it was snatched away by Froslass and replaced with a dose of cough medicine. Steven obediently downed the medicine before Froslass returned to place one of her icy hands against his chest. With a gentle shove, she nudged Steven back into the waiting pillows where he stayed, too weak to protest any further.

As Froslass turned the sheets up, Steven's gaze slid over to his starter, and Metagross grated a satisfied noise. The only thing he was going to be allowed to do was rest. They would take care of everything else.



It had been several days, and while Steven's fever had finally broken, his voice had not yet recovered. At least nowhere to the point that he could deliver his speech at the New Year Gala. Which was why he found himself again barricaded in his quarters with Skarmory diligently standing guard at the door.

"Skarmory, please," he rasped. "A League sponsored event can't be missing the Champion."

But his pokemon would not be swayed, and it gave a short screech and a clack of its beak.

However, Steven also had a stubborn streak of his own.

"Who put you up to this? Glacia again?"

Skarmory put on its best poker face.

"Drake?"

No reaction.

"Phoebe?"

Skarmory was not a very good poker player, and its head slightly tilted at Steven's latest guess, causing the Champion to sigh.

"What could she possibly be thinking?"

But even though it gave away the mastermind behind the plan, Skarmory still would not budge. And as the evening drew on, Steven had little choice but to accept his fate. The clock ticked over to 6:00 pm and he was not on the stage at the Slateport Convention Center addressing a crowd of merry party-goers, so Steven closed his book and turned out the light.

"Happy New Year," he mumbled to the lone occupant of the room.



A gentle knock on the door roused Steven the next morning, and he blearily sat up as his visitor turned the handle and slid inside.

"'Morning!" chimed Phoebe as she came up to the bedside bearing a tray filled with an impressive looking breakfast spread.

As Steven eyed the treats now resting in his lap, he suddenly noticed that Phoebe wasn't alone. The rest of the Elites filed into the room and assembled at the foot of the bed.

"Happy New Year, Boss," said Sidney, wearing a lopsided grin. "First off, we wanted to apologize for basically forcing you to take a break."

"But you really did need one," said Phoebe. "And we all know how much of a workaholic you can be sometimes…"

"So hopefully you understand that it was really for your own good," Glacia finished, arms crossed.

"Besides, it all worked out in the end," added Sidney, nodding toward the breakfast tray.

Glancing down, Steven finally noticed the newspaper tucked beneath one of the plates. Unfolding the paper, the front page was splashed with a photo of last night's Gala. Standing center stage in a shimmering gown of midnight blue was Phoebe, and by her side looking only slightly frazzled, was Sidney, tuxedo in perfect order.

"It was a mighty fine speech, if I might say," said Drake with a nod of his head.

"So now that we know it's possible for Steven Stone to take a day off and the world won't end," Glacia's tone was firm, but there was a warm smile on her lips, "we've come together and given you a little gift."

Beneath where the newspaper had sat was a single white envelope, and Steven scooped it up and opened the flap.

His brow arched as he scanned the contents.

"A two week trip to Alola?"

All four Elites nodded in unison.

"Guys, while I appreciate it, I don't think I need a vaca –" he started.

"It's our vacation," said Phoebe. "Together. So you're coming along whether you like it or not."

"But we can't all go –" Steven protested, and this time it was Glacia who cut him off.

"Drake and I will stay here to look after the League. It's the least we can do to give you the peace of mind to actually enjoy your trip."

Steven still looked on, at a loss for words.

"Just say 'thanks', Boss," Sidney said with a wink. "You do so much for us. It's high time we paid you back."

"Now just relax and enjoy your breakfast, we can talk about the details later," said Phoebe as she ushered the rest of the Elite toward the door.

As surprised as he was by the whole situation, Steven couldn't help but smile. "I, uh – everyone, thank you."

"It's no trouble at all, lad," and Steven definitely saw Drake's smile quirk beneath his mustache.

But as Steven moved to set his gift down and tuck into his breakfast, something caught his eye, and he called out to Phoebe's retreating form.

"Wait, why are there four plane tickets?"

Phoebe giggled as she poked her head back into the room. "Oh, I forgot! Wallace is coming, too! See ya!"

With a wave, she ducked out just in time to miss Steven nearly choking on his toast.

 

Torchic W. Pip

~ Utterly glorious ~
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
they/he
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
Here I am reviewing another one of your fics! And I gotta say, this one might be one of my favorites. For one, it's a sickfic, and I love sickfics. Second of all, it's a sickfic where Steven is sick, and my sick and twisted mind likes seeing my favorite characters sick and miserable and being taken care of. Third of all, it's a holiday fic, and as weird as this year has been for me holiday-wise, it's always nice seeing fics about how characters celebrate the holidays.

Granted, this isn't the first time I've read this fic, but it is the first time I've ever commented on it (because now I finally have the chance to lol). Apart from the usual "this fic is cool and so are you", I have one more insightful comment: Steven, get some sleep.

Also the Elite Four taking care of him and being his family is just....... god I love it. It feels like a big group hug. Off topic but last year was a really rough Christmas, and for some reason, whenever I remember that Christmas, I imagine time stopping and Wallace being there to hug me and tell me it's going to be okay. It's stupid of me, I know, but I just want the Hoenn Elite Four and Champions to be there for me for the 2021 holidays.

Line by line stuff:
The saying is "It's better to give than to receive," but sometimes the ones who give the most deserve to receive a gift, too.
OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH
"You didn't go to Sinnoh just to get these, did you?" Phoebe held up the polished key stone between her fingers and fixed Steven with an accusatory glare.
It's the Mega Stones! He got them the Mega stones as a holiday gift! (:
"It's December," stated Glacia.

This time Steven found his voice, though it was raspy and dry. "Yes, and?"

"You went to Sinnoh in December."

"I had to pick up the last keystone for the set." Steven sniffled again.

"No one goes to Sinnoh in December."

"I –" Another cough. "I did."
My favorite headcanon/Pokémon fic trope is the one where Steven can't handle the cold and then goes to Sinnoh for some reason. Good stuff.
"And look what that got you," Glacia folded her arms with the same look her mother had given her when she'd run outside without her coat.
Yesssssss motherly Glacia.
Steven tried to sigh, and all that came out was a wheeze and another cough. "I'll be fine. It's just a cold. Nothing some sleep can't fix." He gingerly rose from his seat with a dismissive wave and shuffled toward the door to their quarters.
YES YES YES!!!! MY FAVORITE TROPE!!!!!!! CHARACTER DENYING THEY'RE SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Phoebe threw her hands up in defeat. "Steven, that's who! Cradily showed me the thermometer. He's got an awful fever and he's still determined to fly all the way to Rustboro tonight, and that's after he's due for an appearance this afternoon in Lilycove for the Holiday Festival! He doesn't even have a voice, how is he going to give season's greetings to anyone!?" Claydol whined again, all eyes turned to the ice-type trainer in a worried look.
yessssssssssssssssss I'm sorry for finding sick Steven so good but yes give me more sick Steven.
At least until a pair of blue eyes materialized out of the darkness and he stumbled back onto the bed in surprise.

Glacia's Froslass moaned a quiet song as she waved him back beneath the sheets.

"But I –"

She sent him a narrow glare, and he faltered only a moment before stubbornly trying to rise again.
Yes give me protective Ghost types.
'…And the holiday festivities were in full swing today in Lilycove, as the Lilycove Department Store's Ninth Annual Great Gift Giveaway took place with an unexpected special guest…'

Steven spun to face the television, just as the studio cut to a video clip of the event. Sitting at the center of the holiday display was Glacia, dressed in her Sinnohan cold-weather best, smiling and handing out gifts to the line of waiting children.
Yes give me philanthropist Glacia
Sniffling, Steven thumbed through the screen until the message from his father popped up, revealing a picture of the Devon pre-party activities. Smiling back at him was a selfie of his father and Drake locked in a hearty embrace.

'Sorry to hear you're not feeling well, son. We'll have an extra drink for you!'
I LOVE THIS IMAGE SO MUCH
It had been several days, and while Steven's fever had finally broken, his voice had not yet recovered. At least nowhere to the point that he could deliver his speech at the New Year Gala. Which was why he found himself again barricaded in his quarters with Skarmory diligently standing guard at the door.
Yes Skarmory guarding and protecting yummy yummy
and it gave a short screech and a clack of its beak.
"aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA"
"Happy New Year," he mumbled to the lone occupant of the room.
Me this New Year's when I fell asleep at ten.
"So now that we know it's possible for Steven Stone to take a day off and the world won't end,"
Except that wasn't true. Not an hour later, Steven went missing, and the stock market crashed.
Phoebe giggled as she poked her head back into the room. "Oh, I forgot! Wallace is coming, too! See ya!"

With a wave, she ducked out just in time to miss Steven nearly choking on his toast.
Uh oh Wallace in Alola what Ultra Beasts will he find
 

ShiniGojira

Multiversal Extraordinaire
Location
Stranded In The Gaps between Multiverses
Pronouns
He/him/they/her
Partners
  1. custom/zorua-gojira
Hello, Pano! Hope you've been doing great. I'm just popping in to give this fic some love, and boy was this a cute wholesome fic.

Slice of life fics about canon characters are always quite lovely to read. I always find it fascinating how people could write the same characters in totally different and new ways, it is a pleasant treat for me to read how people interpret the characters and I love seeing what sort of things these characters could get into.

The premise of this one-shot is lovely and cute. I've admittedly never read much fic's about a person being sick, but most of them (including this one) made for quite a heartwarming read.

Steven denying being sick and overworking himself to make everyone happy is a lovely character trait that I very much enjoyed. Plus, with the information that this Steven had only been champion quite recently makes the elite four's interactions all the more adorable, I love the way they treat each other like a big family.

The Pokémon that treated him was also a cute little treat that I'd enjoyed. It was fun to see them forcing Steven to take a break despite him wanting to work. (Like dude, just take a break lol)

Then the ending with the New Year was cute as heck, Steven's reaction to their gift was fun and the flustered reaction he gave at hearing Wallace joining him was funny.

Overall, this was well done and provided a lovely way to lift someone's moods.

Take care! Wishing you a great day!
 

Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
:okgon: This story is sweet and crispy. I was supposed to post this last week but here we are.

But even with the knowledge that his absence from Lilycove was excused, Steven was still not convinced it would be in Rustboro, and he was halfway out of bed again when his phone buzzed with a message.
This means Steven planned to hand out gifts then zoop over to Rustboro super quick? *wacks Steven on head with newspaper * REST!!!

Skarmory diligently standing guard at the door.
I just adore how Steven's pokemon get in on it, Metagross forcing him to rest first, and then Skarmory holding him prisoner. Even though the MC here is Steven, both the elites and their pokemon feel like good side characters. And as always, your prose is lovely. Smooth, communicates the point clearly, and doesn't stray into being overly dramatic.

Anyways I absolutely love this little story. I'm always a sucker for whump type stuff, and of course, everything about your version of Steven. I really enjoyed that you stayed very focused. You didn't show us that Steven went to Sinnoh, we just see the aftermath. Then we quickly see that Steven is only getting worse, and he's laid up in bed.

From there we get to sweet fluffy moments of Steven realizing the rest of the league covered for him in his absence, and his pokemon playing both Prison Warden and caretaker.

The only reaallly tiny nitpick I have is I actually wish this were longer. I'm sure you're long done the place of editing this, but I'll give some 2 cents anyways for future projects. I love how you write each of the elite 4, and their characters, even in small moments. I also love your Steven, so I would have loved a bit more sick!whump or details. Maybe a little mention of things like Cradilily faithfully bringing him water, or Metagross making sure the blankets are just right, or even Froslass keeping the room nice and cool.

But thats really minor and this little tale of giving and giving back still works superbly. Good stuff.
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Ace Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Partners
  1. nidoran-f
  2. druddigon
  3. swellow
Heya, admittedly going into this story blind since I wanted something short and sweet to end the night on, but I saw that you had a holiday-themed piece, and you left one on a piece of mine that was in a similar boat, so... sounds as good a reason as any for me to chuck a review at it.

The saying is "It's better to give than to receive," but sometimes the ones who give the most deserve to receive a gift, too.

I mean, yeah. It'd get old pretty fast to just give and give and never get anything back in return. Though let's see where this is going."

"…Boss?"


Discarded wrapping paper lay on the floor of the lounge, and silence finally settled about the room as the other three occupants revealed their own presents.


"…Are… are you serious?" whispered Glacia, eyes still locked on the interior of her own gift box.


Drake's narrowed gaze slid over toward where the Champion sat, a sheepish look on his face and a box of his own resting nearby. Except his was full of tissues.


Steven barely managed a nod in the affirmative before another coughing fit took hold.

You might want to trim one of the newlines between each of your paragraphs down for visual neatness. I'll skip doing it past this quoteblock, but it'd look something like this:

"…Boss?"

Discarded wrapping paper lay on the floor of the lounge, and silence finally settled about the room as the other three occupants revealed their own presents.

"…Are… are you serious?" whispered Glacia, eyes still locked on the interior of her own gift box.

Drake's narrowed gaze slid over toward where the Champion sat, a sheepish look on his face and a box of his own resting nearby. Except his was full of tissues.

Steven barely managed a nod in the affirmative before another coughing fit took hold.

Also, it might have made sense to set the scene a bit more before having the different characters speak up, since something about Glacia and Drake speaking up feels really sudden even though the stated premise of this one-shot is that Steven as a Champion's getting a present while he's under the weather.

"You didn't go to Sinnoh just to get these, did you?" Phoebe held up the polished key stone between her fingers and fixed Steven with an accusatory glare.


Grabbing another tissue, his silence was answer enough.


"It's December," stated Glacia.


This time Steven found his voice, though it was raspy and dry. "Yes, and?"

This guy really loves his rocks. :V

Glacia: "Steven, Sinnoh is colder than the Ice Cave in Johto at this time of year! No wonder why you're sick!" >_>;
Steven: "... Acceptable sacrifices, really."

"You went to Sinnoh in December."


"I had to pick up the last keystone for the set." Steven sniffled again.


"No one goes to Sinnoh in December."

Well, Steven did, obviously. :V

"I –" Another cough. "I did."

822923369149890622.png


"And look what that got you," Glacia folded her arms with the same look her mother had given her when she'd run outside without her coat.


"Yeah, Boss. You don't sound so hot…" Sidney looked more than a little concerned.


"Aye, we appreciate the gifts, lad," Drake added, "but not at the cost of yer own health."

I'm pretty sure this is more than three other occupants in the room, just saying. You probably either want to change the number in that earlier block or else just tick the number up to account for however many E4 members are present.

Steven tried to sigh, and all that came out was a wheeze and another cough. "I'll be fine. It's just a cold. Nothing some sleep can't fix." He gingerly rose from his seat with a dismissive wave and shuffled toward the door to their quarters.


"Steven, wait!" Phoebe called before he could leave, and Glacia shot her a look. "It's just… well…"


"Thanks for the stones, Boss. It means a lot," Sidney finished for her. "Now go get some rest."


With a genuine smile, Steven made his departure. "Merry Christmas, everyone."

Wait, they're just letting him leave like this? In this sort of health?"
:fearfullaugh~1:


Glacia was enjoying her morning cup of tea, still mulling over the events from the previous night. The key stone in her palm glinted with a rainbow of hues as she cradled it back and forth, lost in thought.


She'd known the Champion for quite some time now, and she still found herself amazed at the kinds of stunts he'd pull simply for the sake of others. This wasn't the first time he'd up and vanished only to come back with something rare and fantastical to give away, claiming he did it for the thrill of the adventure.

I mean, considering how he went to Sinnoh in winter for rocks, I don't think he's fully lying there.
:loltias:


Granted, she never knew what sort of person Steven had been before he bested the League, but she certainly knew he never wanted for much; his father's estate had seen to that. But from the resigned eye rolls from Metagross every time Steven would return and excitedly share his latest find, Glacia suspected he'd always been like this.


Which was why she wasn't wholly surprised when Phoebe blustered into the lounge with both Sableye and Claydol hot on her heels, the latter whining in hollow, distressed tones.


"Glacia, maybe you can talk some sense into him?"

Wait, into who now? :?

Calmly taking another sip of tea, Glacia asked the question, even though she fully knew what the answer would be. "Talk sense into who, dear?"


Phoebe threw her hands up in defeat. "Steven, that's who! Cradily showed me the thermometer. He's got an awful fever and he's still determined to fly all the way to Rustboro tonight, and that's after he's due for an appearance this afternoon in Lilycove for the Holiday Festival! He doesn't even have a voice, how is he going to give season's greetings to anyone!?" Claydol whined again, all eyes turned to the ice-type trainer in a worried look.

Ah, I see that the plot basically answered that in real-time. And... yeah, how on earth does Steven not get others sick when he sidelines his health this much for the sake of going places he needs/wants to go?
:fearfullaugh~1:


Tucking the key stone back into her pocket, Glacia stood and called forth her Froslass.


"I'll see what I can do," she muttered before slipping from the room.


Phoebe deflated into a nearby chair with a defeated sigh, staring at the two concerned pokemon still hovering nearby. "Not to mention he's the keynote speaker at the New Year Gala in a few days! What are we gonna do if he's still sick then?"

I suggest fielding a vocaloid as a stand-in. :V

"Well, Wallace would kill us if we canceled the Gala," said Sidney as he came into the room and leaned over the back of the chair to look down at his fellow Elite.


"I know we can't cancel it," she retorted, "but how is the evening going to go if the host is absent?"


Sidney scratched the side of his head in thought. "Aren't we all hosts, technically? It's the League's Gala. Although if it means I don't have to wear that tux anymore…"


[He trailed off as Phoebe suddenly shot straight up in her seat.]


"That's it!"


"Uhh, what's it?"

Oh boy. I can already tell that there will be shenanigans here. I do feel that it would make a bit more sense to see the gears turn in everyone's heads a bit more before Phoebe has her realization. It feels like it'd sell the sense of things happening and whatnot better for the group.


She spun and grabbed Sidney by the shoulders, beaming.


"Sid, you're the best!"


With a twirl, she sashayed around the chair and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Quick, go find Drake, and I'll get Glacia."


When he only continued to stare at her with a dumbfounded look, she giggled as she danced out the door, "I'll explain when we're all together. And you better have that tuxedo ready!"

Something about this bit feels like it could've used more description, and maybe a closing reaction line from Sidney. Since it feels like it's a bit more of a natural closer to end on a note of "... What are you up to?" given how confused Sidney is established as having been at the moment.

Steven wasn't exactly sure what time it was when he finally found the strength to sit up in bed. His room was dark and quiet with the shades drawn, and he turned to look at the clock on the nightstand.


The display read 7:08 pm, and Steven began to panic. He had to be at his father's holiday party in under an hour.

... Just how sick is this guy if he's slept in until 7 at night?
:uhhh:


Ignoring the pounding in his head as he swung his feet to the floor, a round of coughing wracked his frame and set his throat on fire. Sure, he felt like he might collapse at any minute, but he promised he father he'd be there, and he wasn't about to break that promise it.


At least until a pair of blue eyes materialized out of the darkness and he stumbled back onto the bed in surprise.


Glacia's Froslass moaned a quiet song as she waved him back beneath the sheets.


"But I –"


She sent him a narrow glare, and he faltered only a moment before stubbornly trying to rise again.

At this rate, the E4 are going to need to break out a 'mon that knows Sing to keep this guy in bed. :V

"I… I can't be late…" he coughed again, voice barely a whisper, and Froslass continued to disapprove. "I already missed one appointment today…"


A deep rumble from the doorway froze him in place. Metagross's stern gaze cut through the dim light of the room, and Steven couldn't hide a wince.


"Metagross… You know how much this party meant to Dad. I have to go."

Metagross:
:typhNOsion:

Steven: "... Metagross?"

But his partner wouldn't budge. Instead, the television remote lifted from the dresser in a faint blue outline before landing in Steven's lap.


Metagross's eyes flicked toward the tv, and Steven gave it a questioning look.


"What –?"


His question was cut short as Froslass darted forward and toggled the power before changing the channel to the Buzznav news.

Steven: "Where are you two going with this...?"

Steven sat in silence as the latest stories scrolled across the chipper news anchor's desk. His patience was wearing thin though.


"This is just wasting time. I have to get ready." He moved to stand back up, stifling another coughing fit when the anchor's voice piped back up.


'…And the holiday festivities were in full swing today in Lilycove, as the Lilycove Department Store's Ninth Annual Great Gift Giveaway took place with an unexpected special guest…'


Steven spun to face the television, just as the studio cut to a video clip of the event. Sitting at the center of the holiday display was Glacia, dressed in her Sinnohan cold-weather best, smiling and handing out gifts to the line of waiting children.

Oh, so they did fill in for him after all. Though I can't tell whether Steven would be appreciative of this or not. ^^;

As the cheery anchor droned on about how wonderful it was to have one of the Elite make a surprise appearance, Steven turned to look at his partner again, and Metagross gave a reassuring hum.


But even with the knowledge that his absence from Lilycove was excused, Steven was still not convinced it would be in Rustboro, and he was halfway out of bed again when his phone buzzed with a message.


A knowing rumble came from Metagross as Froslass floated over and handed Steven the device.


Sniffling, Steven thumbed through the screen until the message from his father popped up, revealing a picture of the Devon pre-party activities. Smiling back at him was a selfie of his father and Drake locked in a hearty embrace.


'Sorry to hear you're not feeling well, son. We'll have an extra drink for you!'

'We'll'? So does that mean Drake's Salamence was getting in on the drinking action himself? Since now I have a funny mental image of a tipsy Salamence bumbling around.
:loltias:


Just as quickly as the phone was handed to him, it was snatched away by Froslass and replaced with a dose of cough medicine. Steven obediently downed the medicine before Froslass returned to place one of her icy hands against his chest. With a gentle shove, she nudged Steven back into the waiting pillows where he stayed, too weak to protest any further.


As Froslass turned the sheets up, Steven's gaze slid over to his starter, and Metagross grated a satisfied noise. The only thing he was going to be allowed to do was rest. They would take care of everything else.

Oh, so they didn't need to resort to bringing out the Sing user. That's a relief. ^^;

It had been several days, and while Steven's fever had finally broken, his voice had not yet recovered. At least nowhere to the point that he could deliver his speech at the New Year Gala. Which was why he found himself again barricaded in his quarters with Skarmory diligently standing guard at the door.


"Skarmory, please," he rasped. "A League sponsored event can't be missing the Champion."

Skarmory:
oreally.jpg


But his pokemon would not be swayed, and it gave a short screech and a clack of its beak.


However, Steven also had a stubborn streak of his own.


"Who put you up to this? Glacia again?"


Skarmory put on its best poker face.

inb4 it was his own Metagross that did it.

"Drake?"


No reaction.


"Phoebe?"


Skarmory was not a very good poker player, and its head slightly tilted at Steven's latest guess, causing the Champion to sigh.


"What could she possibly be thinking?"

Alas, though it makes sense since she spearheaded this whole thing to begin with.

But even though it gave away the mastermind behind the plan, Skarmory still would not budge. And as the evening drew on, Steven had little choice but to accept his fate. The clock ticked over to 6:00 pm and he was not on the stage at the Slateport Convention Center addressing a crowd of merry party-goers, so Steven closed his book and turned out the light.


"Happy New Year," he mumbled to the lone occupant of the room.

Well that sounds like a depressing way to ring in the New Year. Not even trying to stay up to see fireworks on TV, huh?

A gentle knock on the door roused Steven the next morning, and he blearily sat up as his visitor turned the handle and slid inside.


"'Morning!" chimed Phoebe as she came up to the bedside bearing a tray filled with an impressive looking breakfast spread.


As Steven eyed the treats now resting in his lap, he suddenly noticed that Phoebe wasn't alone. The rest of the Elites filed into the room and assembled at the foot of the bed.


"Happy New Year, Boss," said Sidney, wearing a lopsided grin. "First off, we wanted to apologize for basically forcing you to take a break."

Steven: "... You don't seem remotely sorry about this." :|
Sidney: "Well, no. No, we're not." ^^;

"But you really did need one," said Phoebe. "And we all know how much of a workaholic you can be sometimes…"


"So hopefully you understand that it was really for your own good," Glacia finished, arms crossed.


"Besides, it all worked out in the end," added Sidney, nodding toward the breakfast tray.


Glancing down, Steven finally noticed the newspaper tucked beneath one of the plates. Unfolding the paper, the front page was splashed with a photo of last night's Gala. Standing center stage in a shimmering gown of midnight blue was Phoebe, and by her side looking only slightly frazzled, was Sidney, tuxedo in perfect order.


"It was a mighty fine speech, if I might say," said Drake with a nod of his head.

It might have made sense to have the headline give some sort of positive acknowledgement of how the Gala played out. Basically as a reassurance that the world didn't burn down on Steven on the one day that he skipped for sick leave. Maybe also emphasizing his mood and the way he's interacting with the other E4 member.

"So now that we know it's possible for Steven Stone to take a day off and the world won't end," Glacia's tone was firm, but there was a warm smile on her lips, "we've come together and given you a little gift."


Beneath where the newspaper had sat was a single white envelope, and Steven scooped it up and opened the flap.


His brow arched as he scanned the contents.


"A two week trip to Alola?"

inb4 he goes straight to Poni Island to be at one with his rocks for the entirety of it. :V

All four Elites nodded in unison.


"Guys, while I appreciate it, I don't think I need a vaca –" he started.


"It's our vacation," said Phoebe. "Together. So you're coming along whether you like it or not."

>entire League leadership structure of Hoenn ducks off to a completely different region


"But we can't all go –" Steven protested, and this time it was Glacia who cut him off.


"Drake and I will stay here to look after the League. It's the least we can do to give you the peace of mind to actually enjoy your trip."


Steven still looked on, at a loss for words.


"Just say 'thanks', Boss," Sidney said with a wink. "You do so much for us. It's high time we paid you back."

Steven: "..." .-.
Sidney: "Come on, Boss. Don't be shy." ^^

"Now just relax and enjoy your breakfast, we can talk about the details later," said Phoebe as she ushered the rest of the Elite toward the door.


As surprised as he was by the whole situation, Steven couldn't help but smile. "I, uh – everyone, thank you."


"It's no trouble at all, lad," and Steven definitely saw Drake's smile quirk beneath his mustache.

Hopefully Drake's smile's a bit less terrifying than his Pokémon's. Since I don't think a Salamence smiling would be reassuring given the fangs its got in its mouth.
:fearfullaugh~1:


But as Steven moved to set his gift down and tuck into his breakfast, something caught his eye, and he called out to Phoebe's retreating form.


"Wait, why are there four plane tickets?"


Phoebe giggled as she poked her head back into the room. "Oh, I forgot! Wallace is coming, too! See ya!"


With a wave, she ducked out just in time to miss Steven nearly choking on his toast.

:lolcat:


Alright, overall thoughts:

I thought that it was a cute festive piece, and the premise of a workaholic being made to take a break by his subordinates lends itself pretty well to shenanigans, this piece included. And it was nice to get to see the Hoenn champion and E4 get some love when they have a tendency to get overlooked pretty frequently in the franchise.

I do feel there were a couple of structural things that held it back a bit. First and foremost is that there's very, very little description going on in the story, which makes most scenes' settings read as kinda murky and undefined. The other is that it feels like we don't get a solid view as to the internal thought process of these different characters. For instance, showing the way Steven thinks to himself and what he thinks before insisting to the others that he wants to not take a break. If you do a revision or a v2 of this story at some point down the pipe, that's the number one thing that I would suggest focusing on. Since it's basically just adding more content to what you have to better ground the context or paint a scene.

Even with those quibbles, I still had fun with your one-shot @Panoramic_Vacuum , and I'll be looking forward to seeing more of your writing here on TR.
 
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