Ramzi’s Tavern and Grill was packed with every sorts of Pokémon when Ardor arrived. A long line had snaked from the restaurant’s entrance and into the street. He had to crane his neck to search for the elusive and incredibly annoying Dewott within the crowd. To his irritation, he failed to discern the Water-type’s location and had thought that the Dewott was simply pulling a prank on him—a thought that occupied his mind for the past five hours.
Those five hours which he had used to track down the aforementioned Dewott to no avail.
He supposed that Fennec's unique white hair would make him easier to spot, but apparently, he had vanished from the face of Parai. Ardor, who took pride in his tracking skills, was left irritated when he was unable to even spot a nick of the blue furred otter.
“Can I help you, sir?”
Ardor's thoughts were brought back to the present as he turned his attention to the Sandslash that had addressed him. The spiky quilled ground type was clad in the restaurant's rich red vest uniform embroidered with golden swirly patterns and trims. Gulping down the small feeling of panic down his throat, Ardor took a deep breath. “Er, yes. I’m with this Dewott–”
A paw suddenly plopped down to his shoulder and Ardor jerked to elbow whoever was standing behind him. He froze when he heard, “Reservation under Sharpe, table for two, nine o’clock.” With a muffled groan, the fire type spun to meet the sea-green eyes of Fennec Sharpe. The Dewott had an easy-going grin on his face as he gave the Quilava an encouraging squeeze. “I was wondering when you’d show up,” he said in a whisper. “Got us a nice, comfy spot. You’ll like it.”
“Here you go, sir.” The waiter took out a receipt and wrote something on the surface before he handed it to Fennec. “Table 6. A waitress will be right away at you. Enjoy your dinner.”
“We will.” Fennec nodded, slipping the receipt into his shirt pocket. “C’mon.” Without warning, he grabbed Ardor’s paws and pulled the Quilava into the restaurant's revolving glass doors before the fire type could protest.
Soft music reached Ardor's ears as he and Fennec weaved through the many round shaped tables and dining Pokémon. He was almost tempted to crush the Dewott’s paw but refrained from doing so due to the number of looks he was getting from their fellow patrons. He felt his cheeks burn from the snippets of the diners' comments as he walked past them.
“...did this young chap lose his way?”
“I pity his date...”
“...what is that Quilava wearing?”
“No sense of style at all, yes...”
“…who are those two…”
He had never felt so embarrassed and self-conscious in his life. He tugged on his clothes with his free arm uncomfortably and focused on the back of Fennec’s head instead. The water type's white hair had a hint of silver on them, Ardor noted with slight fascination.
Table 6 was located on the far side of the restaurant. It was propped on a semi-secluded corner decorated by vine-draped walls and intricately-carved wooden paneling depicting great trees and forests. Like the others, the circular table was draped in maroon velvet cloth neatened up with what Ardor identified as Arranysan embroidery.
“You picked a nice place, must be pricey.” Ardor remarked as Fennec pulled the chairs out and gestured him to sit down much to his annoyance. Fennec pushed him down to the seat when he hesitated. “I can sit on my own, thank you very much…”
Fennec shrugged and sat down, rolling his neck as a Delcatty waitress quickly came with a large bottle of wine and an ice bucket. He observed the waitress pour him and Ardor some wine before he answered, “I'm someone with fine taste,” he picked up the glass and sipping some of its contents. “What's the point of being well-off if I don't spend my dough on pricey-pricey stuff? …can't say the same about you though.” The Dewott furrowed his brows at Ardor's choice of attire. “You look like you're dressed for some jogging...and you turn up 30 minutes late. Where's your manners?”
Once again, Ardor found himself tugging at his attire, which was a simple white colored hoodie with decorative zippers on the sides. His face flushed slightly in embarrassment when he remembered the comments from the diners earlier.
“It's not like I know where this place is,” he murmured, thinking back to his uncharacteristic fussing over his wardrobe and the odd look Darius was giving him. The sleeveless white garment was the best possible option other than his flashy dress robe –which was a no go. He really hated that attire. He eyed Fennec’s stylish, but casual black button-up shirt a little enviously. Looking back, he would definitely look like some stuffy and snobbish nobleman if he had worn the elaborate red and white colored robes. “And did you even see the line outside?” he continued. “You just came out of nowhere as far as I know." The fire stoat turned to look at the waitress as she handed both of them a steaming bowl of soup.
Chuckling, Fennec quipped, “For a Master, you don't seem to know every nook and cranny of this place like I expected you to.” The glass of wine stopped halfway on its way to Ardor’s mouth. “Maybe...I should lower my expectations.” Fennec shrugged. The glass in his hand was replaced with a napkin as he flicked it open and laid it on his lap. “You look out of place really.”
Ardor was staring wide-eyed at the Dewott. Taking a deep breath, he exhaled and quickly schooled his features back to neutral. “And how did you know that, pray tell?” he prompted almost casually, sipping the wine which he had forgotten momentarily.
“Don't look so shocked,” Fennec returned with a bright smile. “Think some random Dewott would ask ya out just like that? You probably know everything about me, so why shouldn't I know everything about you?” He sampled his soup. “Mmm~ delish.”
Closing his eyes, Ardor exhaled loudly through his nose. No point playing dumb now. True to Fennec’s prediction, Ardor had turned to rake every kind of information he could get about the water type when he seemingly vanished. From what he had gathered, the Dewott was extremely… active, for lack of better word. But recent incident regarding two Researchers, a series of killings, and a Clock Tower definitely did catch his attention.
“Your reputation isn't too far off, Sharpe. Did you make it a habit to know your ‘victims’ –” Ardor quoted the air, “–before you asked them out?”
“Yup.” Came the immediate reply. Fennec seemed rather nonplussed by the question, as if he had been asked that many times before. “But I'm taking a hiatus...so you don't have to worry about me thinking of poisoning your food.” He said, shrugging his shoulders.
As if on cue, their waitress came back with a rather large tray of exotic dishes.
“That was fast...,” Ardor thought before his eyes focused on the tray, widening slightly as they registered an assortment of mezze, complete with yogurt and artichoke salad. “Whoa... wait. Did you order this on purpose?” he turned to look at his ‘date’ in a mix of surprise and wariness. To put it simply, the food that was prepared on the table was what Ardor grew up with back in Fȳren, and happened to be an assortment of his favourites. Did the damned Dewott have to research his background that thoroughly?
“Better.” Fennec popped a slice of köfte into his mouth, chewing it slowly to savour the taste. “I made it especially for you. Worked here as a part-timer, so convincing the owner wasn't too difficult.”
Ardor blinked in surprise. “You made these?” He found the notion to be quite far-fetched. Frowning in confusion and uncertainty, he picked up a stuffed Qualot berry and popped it into his mouth, letting out a satisfied sort of voice from his throat as the flavors just exploded in his mouth. “You know, this… is really good.” he remarked, taking in another bite. "I'm surprised really... did you really cook all of this yourself?”
Fennec simply rolled his eyes in response. “It's not big of a deal. I just taught myself to survive, that's all.” He propped his elbow on the table. “Cooking is only one of my many talents.”
“Well, I know some of these are quite hard to make,” Ardor pointed out, raising an eyebrow at Fennec’s dismissal. “You really have one hell of a talent if you can prepare something like this as if it was nothing.”
Peering at Ardor with a flat gaze, the Dewott huffed. “You give out praise too easily.” He picked some more of the food to his plate, but not much, and began to eat them in an orderly manner.
“That praise happens to come from someone who lived in Fȳren for more than 17 years,” was Ardor’s flat reply. “Need I say more?”
Fennec hummed flippantly. “Well, in any case, what do you do for a living?”
Ardor opened his mouth, about to state a snarky remark but Fennec cut him off with a wave of his paw.
“Besides your primary job of course.”
The Quilava raised his eyebrow and shrugged. “I joined the Hunters Guild as an apprentice, and have a part time job at the new dojo downtown.”
Fennec’s muzzle pulled into a small smirk as he regarded Ardor mirthfully. “Is that all? You're not very good at hiding your assassin aura.”
“For a wanted fugitive, you're not hiding yours very well either, Sharpe. Not worried that the Zigzagoon detective to sniff you out?” Ardor retorted, taking a souvlaki from the serving plate. “And what about your Lucario associate by the way? It has been a while since I saw him. I recall both of you were from the same organization.”
“Technically speaking, most don't know that I exist.” Fennec smirked. “I can be a painter, a florist, an alchemist, anything you can think of. And I wasn't really trying to hide my identity as a former Reverse member. What's the point when it's all been destroyed?” The Water-type sampled a bit of his tarama and took another sip from his glass. “As for Noir, I haven't really revealed myself to him yet, but I will sooner or later. He was a great partner, particularly when it came to sex~” he giggled. “He'd pound me until I was sore, so, so sore~”
Ardor had an odd look on his face. He blinked twice and shifted on his seat, giving the silver-haired Dewott an odd look. His face colored slightly at the implication. “I...see,” he coughed.
“Is there a problem?” Fennec’s grin grew darker.
“Well, no. Not really, no.” the fire type replied quickly. “It came as a surprise for me I guess.” Ardor shrugged, trying to get the disturbing images of Fennec and Noir together out of his mind. “Well, you sure aren't bothered by the fact most of the Royal Guards are still looking for you after your serial killing spree…” he uttered, lowering his tone slightly.
A chuckle rumbled from the Water-type’s throat. “Like I said, I'm a Kecleon. That busybody Zigzagoon can't prove that I killed all those Pokémon.” He scoffed. “No one is going to miss them, now that their secrets have been exposed.” He paused as the waitress came back with the main dish and took the appetizer away. “Well, let’s eat for the time being. You don’t want to let the food grow cold would you?” Fennec said, digging his utensils into the meat.
Rolling his eyes, Ardor cleared his plate and began to fill it with the new dish that had been laid out in front of them. He had to admit, Fennec’s cooking skills were beyond everything he could ever imagine. Soon, both plates were empty and the two Pokémon were drinking their wine in a satisfied silence.
Gulping down his last glass of wine, Fennec draped his napkin over his plate and pushed his chair out. “Well, this has been fun,” he voiced out, gesturing for the waitress who had been waiting for them.
“How can I help you, sir?” she asked.
The Dewott flashed the waitress a charming smile. “Yeah, can we have the bill?”
Blushing slightly, the Delcatty waitress nodded, while trying to keep her air of professionalism as she replied, “Certainly, sir.” Her onyx eyes lingered at Ardor, who was staring back at her with an eyebrow raised. “You have a really cute boyfriend by the way.” she teased as she flipped through her receipts.
Ardor choked on his wine.
“I do, don’t I?” Fennec replied cheekily, nodding at the bill before giving the Delcatty some Stars. Turning to Ardor, he gave the fire type a small gave and grin. “I’ll see you around then.”
Ardor stared as the Dewott slowly made his way to the exit. Exhaling half in annoyance and confusion, he quickly followed the Water-type into the streets outside. It was quiet, bare of any Pokémon safe for a few, mostly nocturnal ones as it was close to midnight. Spotting the familiar silver haired figure not far off, Ardor quickly fell into step with Fennec.
“So, that's it then?” he prodded, sounding a bit aggravated. “You kissed me out of the blue, invited me to dinner without me having a say, and then just walk off like that, huh?"
Fennec shrugged, stopping before he smiled at Ardor. “You don't seem to enjoy my company, so why should I make the effort?” he asked, tapping his foot lightly on the pavement.
“You're the most confusing 'mon I've ever met.” Ardor uttered, eyes twitching slightly.
“At least I'm special,” Fennec chirped, leaning on a lamp post as he stopped. He puffed out some air his fingers before the Dewott queried, “Why are you licking your lips, hmm?”
Ardor stopped what he was doing immediately. “It's a habit of mine,” he admitted, feeling a little bit foolish. “I tend to do that at random.”
“Ooo~ Mr. Master is lying~” Fennec giggled, grinning from ear to ear. “He actually likes my taste~”
“I do not," Ardor retorted, glaring at the silver haired otter. “And don’t call me that.”
“Hmm...” With a single stride, Fennec devoured the distance between them grinning from ear to ear, their breaths mingling. “That blush is not convincing me~”
Acting on instinct, Ardor inched his head away, but Fennec's sudden grip on his shoulders somehow froze him on the spot. “S-shut up.” He attempted to intensify his glare, only to be slowly entranced by the otter's bright, sea green eyes, unable to look away. And why is his face heating up suddenly?
Smirking from the reaction, Fennec poked his tongue out and moistened his lips, lowering his eyelids slightly as he spoke, “You make my heart skip a beat as well,” he uttered smoothly, leaning in and pressing their lips together as he hugged the Quilava closer.
Freezing for the umpteenth of the day, Ardor's eyes shot wide open. His heart was suddenly hammering against his ribcage as his brain tried to process what was transpiring. He could feel Fennec’s lips once again pressed against his, slowly nipping and prodding him away. It didn’t feel forced somehow, and it was as if the Dewott was waiting for his reaction. He did the only thing that crossed his mind, jerking away.
The movement however, prompted the Dewott to tilt his head to deepen his kiss, intertwining his fingers with Ardor's forepaw digits. He opted to take it slow, passing on prodding for entrance in favour of simply enjoying the feel of the Quilava's surprisingly soft lips on his. He eventually broke away, pressing his forehead against his new boyfriend's and tenderly peering into his eyes.
Ardor sucked in a large gulp of breath. Pale green eyes bore into vivid sea green ones in shock, uncertainty, and surprise. A deep flush had spread across the fire type’s face as he stuttered, “A-ah…?”
“Nice to meet you, Ardor.” Fennec smirked and went to peck the Quilava, much to the stoat’s surprise, and left, humming a cheerful tune to himself.