A PARK IN VERDANTURF has opened for those wishing to have a picnic under the spring blossoms. A local bakery brings in pastries for park-goers to try, while mini-games are held to celebrate the vernal vibrancy of the land.
after the ultra beast war, hoenn begins to heal. the megalopolan invasion may have failed; however, it is clear there is much more at stake. a prophecy revolving around a cyclical meteoroid, the appearance of necrozma and a dangerous and viral alien threaten the safety of the region once more.
with rocket's new boss, the resurgence and reappearance of the crime syndicate's presence is imminent. the league has done its best to repair its reputation, and with the victory of a war under their belt, perhaps it is enough. but the seeds of distrust have already been sown in the ravaged land of this region, causing many to wonder what will grow?
the place was disgusting and it offended the peak of her sensibilities; the veritable beauty of one of hoenn's premier beaches, even if it were a tourist trap and thus inherently tainted. it'd be easy to place the blame on the shoulders of tourists from other regions, but perse had the latent feeling that it was the pigs from lavaridge, who tended to be, in her objective opinion, the most disrespectful and irreverent ones.
gazing at the absolute piles upon piles of trash littering the beach with exasperated wringing of her hands, perse wondered if this was a hopeless exercise. surely more people were meant to turn up. she won't admit to herself she only came for the pitifully small amount they were paying, for expenses that she also wouldn't admit to herself.
seeing another person was a surprise in isolation, seeing his lack of an arm was somewhat stunning, and seeing him fiddling around with a plastic bag was just outright shocking. perse watched him struggle for several long moments, not sure whether it is appropriate to laugh before approaching him.
"here to clean the beach too?" she said, by way of announcing her presence. the words do you want a hand with that? died on her tongue, and she tried to continue smoothly, neutrally and as professionally as someone who was commissioned to pick up rubbish could be.
a voice picks up behind him, carried by the gentle breeze. a lovely noise; music to his ears. the symphony seems to catch him off-guard a moment, gaze lifting upwards, eyes wide in surprise. it softens quickly. she was small, though, many were by his point of view. as if forgetting a question had been placed to him, he waited a moment. two. finally, his rudeness washed over him.
"yeah." he stops fiddling with the bag and his stump. it seemed like a more shameful act now; more embarrassing. "yeah i am. are you too?" he continues on to say, hoping to in part make-up for being caught off guard. as if any of that truly mattered.
leon's shoulders slumped a bit, his eyes darting from his missing limb, to the one good hand that carried the trash bag. he smiled, taking in the situation for how foolish he probably looked. pride got him no where. much less with women. "i'd appreciate it. it's harder than it looks," he chuckled slightly, hopefully diffusing any lingering tension from his deformity.
people acted weird around him. it only alienated him more.
he approached, careful of how it might seem to her. he didn't particularly enjoy scaring women, though understood how some would have their guard up. he was large, and did not lack definition. leon did notice, however, the safety net losing a limb cast over him. many let their guard down around an armless man. perhaps they felt safer. more confident in their abilities. leon never took the time to find out.
"i think it's just us," he said, handing her the trash bag. positioning himself so his body was side-ways to her. he cast his gaze out towards the rolling waves as she worked. they toiled around the shoreline at the moons beckon. gently, they came in, and receded back to the vast waters.
it held a certain peace to it all.
"leon," he says after a moment of two. his eyes turning towards her, cerulean pools that stand out like sapphires. "it's a pleasure to meet you." leon smiles. it's normal.
up close he is somehow taller and broader than she expected, though also kinder and less intimidating when you can see the detail of his face. he looks almost shy approaching her, and with an anxious pang in her stomach, persephone makes a conscious effort to relax her default, vaguely hostile expression to something more jovial. others have commented that she has a tendency to look cold and haughty, and she hopes he didn't see or misunderstand it as a mockery.
wallowing in their own - probable - mutual embarrassment at least gave them another thing to bond over other than collecting trash.
with the due care and precision of a surgeon doing a much more serious procedure than this, persephone twists the bag into place around the man's arm with a couple of seafarer's knots she had learned from her grandma as a kid. after a few moments and seemingly satisfied with her work, she takes a step back to survey the job, clapping his shoulder in a gesture that she swiftly realises might have been too over-familiar. "let me know if it's too tight or uncomfortable, but it should at least hold," she said sheepishly.
thankfully, he introduces himself and smiles, and relieved, she smiles back instinctively, a quick quirk at the corners of her mouth that feels like her muscles are being pulled up by invisible strings. the sudden awareness of how long it's been since she's had a reason to smile at someone made it bittersweet, but it was still more sweet than the alternative. "persephone, but just perse is fine in a pinch."
taking her own bag and a waste picker from the 'slateport beach trash collection station,' persephone sends a wry look leon's way, threatening to smile again. "i kind of don't want a bunch of families and stuff watching me pick up trash so i'm glad the place is empty and it's just us," she admits.
"it's fine, thanks," leon says sheepishly. she could have laced it into his clothing and he would still be in pain. it was arguable the only constant in his life. sad, isn't it?
the league cadet reaches down with the metallic grabber, picking up a can of alcohol, and placing it into the bag to prove it works. "arguably not the most fashionable, but, that's the one good thing about losing an arm — no one's going to say anything about it." he chuckled at the thought, deciding to slowly move outwards towards the beach.
he takes her words and sits on them for a moment. "it's a bit embarrassing," he admits, "though, i'd rather be seen cleaning it up, than contributing to the mess." a few more article of trash and a trickle of a breeze. the bag is weightless against the gentle gust.
"perse is a really pretty name, though," he says, a gentle pink hue lingering on his cheeks. "her story is a particular favorite of mine in greek mythology. she was a badass woman."
leon talks while he works. doing his best not to just break the ice, but shatter it entirely.
she smiled at the joke, a weak twitch of the lips, but didn't comment further. sticking close by, she followed him to the shore, glad for the overcast sky. at least the heat wouldn't torture them or make the trash smell worse than it already did.
pleasantly surprised when he expressed knowledge of her name's origins, let alone the compliment, persephone paused to to beam at him. "i'm glad i don't have to explain it to you!" she exclaimed, having to trot to catch up again. he had long strides.
"i was born in spring after a atypically cold winter, my mother thought it appropriate." the addition felt too personal and a little bittersweet the moment it left her mouth, so she quickly changed the subject to him.
"now you tell me something about yourself, leon. favourite season? why you're picking rubbish up on a saturday morning in slateport? favourite city in hoenn?"
in groups of people, she tended to fall silent, content to listen and watch, but being in the company of someone with leon's gentle, maybe veering on shy disposition, made her feel comparatively extroverted and happy to fill the silence. maybe that's what they both needed, and he was trying too.
she went out closer to the water until the tide touched her bare feet when it came in; partially to swipe up any trash before it was taken out to see, partially to throw back any dumb pokemon that somehow got itself stranded out the water.
leon's smile widened. her appreciation easing a timid heart. his eyes caught the hurried movements she made to catch up. his mind over thought it. the large man made a conscious effort to slow down.
"that sounds wonderful," he says, listening to the story of her mother. her next question causes his brows to raise in surprise. he wasn't sure why. maybe he just wasn't used to talking about himself? leon tried to catch any hesitation in her voice. any apprehension. not many people thought it polite to mention a disfigurement. is that why she didn't ask?
why couldn't he leave well enough alone?
realizing the question was left hanging. he quickly cleared his throat, walking with her to the oceans edge.
"uhm, let me see if i can remember all of that." he smiles a bit. "autumn, definitely. and, i'm not sure. because it's the right thing to do, i guess. i like knowing i can make subtle differences. and... probably this one. it has an almost unforgettable view, don't you think?" he looks at her then, as if seeing her face for the first time.
a touch of pink later, and he's again looking out at the waters edge. the sand was colder here; darker. stained by the ever present rise and fall of the tide. it was comfortable. a routine that never ended. he wished in part his days could hold a similar routine. or perhaps just the end part.
he thrust the thought from his mind.
"what about you perse? what brings you to these shores?" of change? of comfort? the words lost to him. "i think it's good that you're here." a pause. "cleaning up trash, that is. it's kind. even if you're only giving your time."
"what a coincidence that all your answers would match mine, then!" she exclaimed, glancing up to peer at him through a veil of fine white hair.
and it was true, not empty just empty words. to think she'd meet a kindred spirit here of all places, amongst a pile of trash.
his next question was simple enough on the face of it, but she found herself hesitating to come up with something that matched his answer in its earnestness.
she could tell him it was a sense of obligation; her newly instated ranger rank within the league that compelled her into action, but that felt somehow dishonest because it was only one aspect of a multi-faceted truth.
but saying that it was all from a misplaced sense of guilt wouldn't cut it either.
"i'm with you on that," persephone said eventually, her words slow and contemplative, forcing her to pause and think.
"i don't know, it just kills me to see this place in such bad shape. makes me wonder if places like this always need clean-up and i just took it for granted. how many other smalls things have i missed?"