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Pokémon Alternate Title (Alternate Champion)

Torchic W. Pip

~ Utterly glorious ~
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
they/he
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
  3. custom/torchic-mikuri
  4. custom/torchic-daigo
A Facadeverse fic

All of the ways Wallace's Championship could go wrong, and all of the ways he tries to make it right.

Or: a chronicle of the Championship of one Wallace Papadakis, and everything else that happened that year.


This story started, like many of my oneshot ideas that I one day want to get to, because of a comment @System Error made on BHWIB about how my universe's Wallace "will handle the extra pressures of Champion". Spoiler alert: alone, he can't, but with friends... well, you'll see.

This fic mostly centers around Hoenn + the usual Torchic gang, but every so often there might be a gaiden or perspective switch focusing on other characters. This is probably technically slice of life, mixed with the usual mental illness, found family, headcanoning, queer stuff, and secret mafia stuff you'll see in my usual writing.

This story is rated Teen, but it could very well wind up being Mature as things go on.
Usual Torchic!Wallace warnings (including mental illness recovery, eating disorder/drug abuse/self harm recovery, trauma/abuse/rape recovery)
Themes and situations surrounding fertility issues and miscarriage
Abusive/toxic relationships
Anxiety, panic attacks, dissociation, depersonalization, paranoia, hallucinations
Implied sexual content and sexual themes
Slut shaming
Bigotry
(including queerphobia, xenophobia, sexism, and classism)
Individual chapters will be tagged, and content warnings may change.
 
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WHY DON'T YOU CUT YOUR HAIR/WHY DON'T YOU LIVE UP THERE/WHY DON'T YOU DO WHAT I DO SEE WHAT I FEEL WHEN I CARE

Torchic W. Pip

~ Utterly glorious ~
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
they/he
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
  3. custom/torchic-mikuri
  4. custom/torchic-daigo
WHY DON'T YOU CUT YOUR HAIR/WHY DON'T YOU LIVE UP THERE/WHY DON'T YOU DO WHAT I DO SEE WHAT I FEEL WHEN I CARE

Panic attacks, vomiting, implied past abuse and eating disorder, queerphobia, mentions of alcohol, slut shaming

Wallace knew the night was coming, but that didn’t make the days before it any more stressful. It didn’t make the night itself any less stressful. Perhaps he would have been better off in blissful ignorance until the last moment.

It was “Champion Night”, Phoebe’s cutesy name for the party commemorating Steven giving his title of Champion to Wallace. Steven was going to travel, learn about rocks, learn about the world, learn about himself. He had been wanting to do this for a long time, and Wallace couldn’t be happier for him; Steven deserved a bit of peace and enjoyment.

For six months, Steven would be travelling, exploring, learning, discovering himself. And Wallace was to take his seat on the throne of the Hoenn League.

Being such an important night for the League as well as a night that fell on the first night of the year, everyone who was anyone in the League was there: Hoenn League, the Hinode Leagues, hell, there were even a few members of the international Leagues here and there.

Wallace wanted to be celebrating with Steven and the others. He wanted to be a good Champion. Instead, he was locked in the bathroom stall furthest from the door, kneeling on the floor, hanging his head over the toilet, vomiting.

It wasn’t food poisoning; Wallace hadn’t been able to eat anything since breakfast. Illness was also off the list; nothing was going around, and Wallace wasn’t one to risk his already fragile health with that sort of thing. He wasn’t hungover, and he certainly, certainly hadn’t relapsed. No, this was a panic attack. Out of all the nights to have this bad of a panic attack, it had to be this night.

Wallace’s head was spinning, and his hands were shaking. He felt the familiar, smooth feeling of Victoria’s scales as he tried reaching for some toilet paper to clean his mouth off. She was hovering over him, holding his cape in her mouth. He gave her a small, weary smile. Poor Victoria, having to put up with him for so many years. Granted, his mental state had gotten better over the years, but he couldn’t help but feel guilty that he still wasn’t a perfect Trainer for her.

“I’m sorry, Victoria."

“Wallace? You okay?”

Wallace froze at the voice.

Damn it. Sidney’s here.

“What are you doing here?” Wallace asked, trying to speak as though he hadn’t just been puking his guts out. It was harder than he expected, especially since his throat felt like it had been raked with sandpaper.

He heard footsteps echo on the tile floor, until he saw two familiar, blue-grey loafers. Sidney had an unconventional style, but in his own words, at least he could pass it off as business casual.

“Steven sent me to go find you,” Sidney replied. “You’ve been gone for ten minutes. He’s worried about you.”

Ten minutes?! Damn it, so much for trying to pretend things were okay.

“Tell Steven that I’m fine.”

“You sounded like you just flipped your insides out. If anything, I think his worry is warranted for once. You think you need to go to the hospital?”

Wallace groaned. “God damn it, Sidney—”

“I don’t want to hear you mumble some shit about dignity under your breath!”

Sidney’s sudden change in tone startled Wallace.

“Do you think I give a shit about dignity?” Sidney demanded. “You know what’s more important than dignity—if something happens to you on my watch, your wife will kill me, and then Steven will bring me back from the dead just to kill me again!”

The bathroom was silent for a few moments as Wallace mustered the will to stand up. Eventually, he flushed the toilet, stood up from the floor, and, leaning on the wall for support, opened the stall door.

“I didn’t throw up every one of my internal organs,” he mumbled, “so I think I should be good for the rest of the night.”

Sidney raised a concerned eyebrow. “Geez, pal. You don’t look or sound good. You wanna go home?”

“Yes.”

Wallace listlessly walked over to one of the sinks and turned on the faucet. As he washed out his mouth, he heard Sidney say, “All right. I’ll call Winona and tell her to—”

“Don’t.”

Sidney glanced up like Wallace was crazy. “I thought you wanted to go home.”

Wallace let the water run through his hands. He was starting to dissociate; the walls of the bathroom and the confines of his body were starting to feel like a prison for his mind. He needed to ground himself somehow, and water had always been helpful in that regard.

“I do,” Wallace said. He wanted nothing more than to be in the safety of his home, in the safety of Winona’s arms, in the safety away from all of the people watching eyes.

“Then why can’t I tell Winona?” Sidney asked.

“Because I can’t go home.”

Victoria left the stall, and Wallace took his cape from her. Before he left the bathroom, he put it back on and looked over at Sidney. The poor man looked so confused. He didn’t deserve to have to deal with Wallace’s emotional baggage.

“It’s… just something that isn’t agreeing with me. Probably.”

Sidney shook his head, sighing. “Wallace, a lot of people can lie to me, but you sure as hell can’t.”

“How did—” He stopped talking, but it was too late; Wallace had incriminated himself.

Sidney puffed out his chest and put his hands on his hips. “I’m really smart, that’s how.”

Wallace shook his head. Whatever. Sidney could be really smart for one night.

“Don’t tell anyone that I was in here making a fool of myself.”

“But Wallace—”

“That’s an order, Sidney,” Wallace snapped, pointing a cold finger at Sidney.

Sidney held up his hands in defeat, smiling.

“Already exercising your Champion privileges, I see,” he teased.

Wallace dropped his hand to his side. Guilt started sinking in.

“I’m sorry, Sidney,” he said, his voice softer.

Sidney shrugged. “Eh, I was just joking, kid.”

He reached over to put a hand on Wallace, but Wallace pulled away.

His heart was racing, and he had to remind himself that Sidney was safe, Sidney was safe. Sidney was a bit strange, but Sidney would never hurt Wallace.

“Where’s…” Wallace stuttered, “Where’s Steven?”

-

Steven was standing on a balcony, talking to someone on his Pokénav Plus. In contrast to Wallace’s white cape, his suit was ink black.

“...All right, I think this warrants a Knock Off.”

Battle strategies, huh. Knock Off knocked a Pokémmon’s held item away. A very useful move. Of course Steven would know about moves and their effects. He was a former Champion, for crying out loud. If only Wallace was as good as Steven…

Steven looked up, noticing Wallace and Sidney.

“I’ll talk later,” he said before hanging up. A smile came to his face as he walked over to the two. “Where’d you find Wallace?”

“They were—”

“I got lost,” Wallace lied. “Sidney got lost while trying to find me, and we were both lost for a bit. But now”—he smiled—“Now we’re not lost.”

Before Sidney could call out Wallace, Steven laughed and said, “glad to know you two aren’t lost anymore.”

He wrapped an arm around Wallace as the three walked back inside. Steven’s touch was good. Steven’s touch was safe.

The main ballroom was big. It had black, carpeted floors and dark, hardwood walls with ornate carvings of Hoenn’s Weather Trio. The air was alive with chatter, music, and laughter.

Too much noise. Too many people.

But Steven looked happy. There was a big smile on his face as he waved at the people they passed. How did he do it? How did he do the whole Champion thing?

Wallace put up a smile and pretended he was okay. He couldn’t have Steven worrying about him, not now. Poor man worried too much about him already.

Wallace looked around the ballroom to see if he could find Winona, only to realize that Sidney was also nowhere to be seen.

“Steven, have you seen our Winona bird?”

Steven thought for a moment. “She was in a yellow halter dress, wasn’t she?”

The worry in Wallace’s shoulders faded, and he sighed with a dreamy smile.

“Doesn’t she look beautiful in it, Steven? She looks so good in yellow. She’s like sunshine on flowers.”

“I know, I know,” Steven chuckled. “You two just couldn’t pull away from each other in the month after your wedding.”

Wallace shook his head playfully. “We had to make up for our short honeymoon somehow. Besides, if we’re going to start a family, we’re going to have to, well, start.”

His mind wandered a bit as he daydreamed about starting a family, about having kids, about having a happy life with Winona and their kids and—

“Steven!” Lance called.

Wallace rolled his eyes. Lance, his “fellow” Champion, was standing with who he could only assume were other Champions, judging by how Cynthia was also standing with him. There was a pretty woman in white, a kid who looked too young to be here, and a man in an outrageous cape—though Wallace would take that cape over Lance’s any day. That dastard had the gall to buy the same cape several times, as if his first disgraceful cape wasn’t enough, as if—

Steven playfully nudged Wallace back into reality.

“Don’t get into too many fights when I’m in my caves.” Steven began walking towards the others. “I’ll see you and Winona on the dance floor soon!”

-

While trying to find Winona, Wallace sat down in one of the chairs by the refreshments table, slowly eating some of the water crackers in an attempt to put something back in his system. He was starting to get light headed, so he tried deep breathing. He also smiled, trying to hide the fact that he really didn’t want to be at the party anymore. There were other people at the refreshments table, and Wallace prayed that no one would try to talk to him.

“Hey, Wallace!”

Guess the gods are busy tonight.

Blue was walking over, along with a few other Gym Leaders: Volkner, Clair, and Raihan. Wallace had heard of them, but he didn’t know they were all... friends?

“It seems you’re leaving our club,” Blue teased. “Darn, Wallace, how are you going to deal with Lance and Cynthia without us?”

Wallace cocked his head. “What… club?”

“The Second Best Club. The club for the eighth Gym Leaders.”

“Who are cooler than Champions,” Clair added.

Huh. Wallace didn’t know that there was an eighth Gym Leader group. Was Wallace still a part of it? Was he “uncool” now? Was that a bad thing?!

Wallace stood up. Bad idea, because his head started spinning again.

“Speaking of cool,” he started, “I need to find someone.”

“Are you sick of us already?” Raihan joked.

Shoot. They think you hate them. They think you hate them.

“O-Of course not,” Wallace stammered. “I just—”

“Roll camera, Ty!”

Two other people appeared just a few feet from Wallace: Gabby and Ty of Hoenn TV. Old…friends? Acquaintances? People who seemed to follow him everywhere he went just so they could get the latest scoop on him? What lingering anxiety he had from before increased tenfold—maybe twentyfold—when he saw them.

“Hello there, Hoenn,” Gabby chimed as she pressed up against. “We’re here live to conduct an interview with your newest Champion: Sootopolis City’s Wallace!”

Please get off of me please get off of me please get off of me.

Gabby’s touch wasn’t safe. Gabby’s touch was scary, like all of the questions she asked. She couldn’t be trusted. She couldn’t be trusted. She couldn’t be trusted. No one was safe, not Gabby, not Ty, not Blue and his friends, not the millions of people watching.

Out of the corner of his eye, Wallace saw Steven, who was greeting guests at the door. He looked so calm, so collected, so much like the perfect Champion: a Champion who could talk to people, a Champion who could face the press and public with grace, a Champion who was fit to represent Hoenn. Champion Steven had been the crown jewel of Hoenn.

And Champion Wallace? Champion Wallace was seconds away from either throwing up or dropping dead on live TV.

“How does it feel to be rising from your position as Gym Leader to Champion?” Gabby asked.

Right. He had to look like a good Champion. He had to look like a good replacement for Steven.

“Oh, it’s been… it’s been fine.” Wallace could practically hear the whispers of viewers: What the hell is he saying? “I’ll miss the trainers at the Sootopolis Gym, but the Elite Four members have been more than welcoming.”

Gabby beamed a smile. “Well, that’s lovely! I hear your former mentor is taking over the Gym.”

“Yes. Juan is cer-certainly the best person I-I could ask to run the Gym in my place.” If I were Juan, I would be ashamed of mentoring such a fool.

“Your fans have certainly been thrilled for you! And your the country’s first nonbinary Champion! What a milestone!”

“Heh… that’s…” Why is that Sootopolitan slut representing Hoenn?! Why is some freak allowed to be Champion! Someone should just kill him already! Kill him! KILL HIM!

“Wallace? Is everything okay?”

All eyes on him. All eyes on him. ALL EYES ON HIM.

“…Excuse me a minute,” Wallace whispered.

-

As soon as Wallace staggered out to the garden, he leaned over a railing and threw up.

He couldn’t make sense of his surroundings, so he could only close his eyes and pray that no one else was outside, seeing how imperfect of a Champion he was. His vision was blurry, like he was trying to open his eyes underwater, but he eventually came to the conclusion that no one else was outside.

“Wallace… Hey, Wallace, it’s okay. I’m right here. Just get it all up.”

Well, no one else save a certain woman in a yellow dress.

Winona had one hand on Wallace’s back (her touch was safe), and Wallace gripped the other tightly on the railing of the bridge (her touch would protect him). The whole world seemed to be spinning. He only had two things on his mind as he was heaving: the fear that Gabby and Ty had followed him, and the fear that he would pass out. For a moment, he was even convinced that he would choke on nothing to death.

“Wallace, can you hear me? Are you okay?”

No. No. Gabby and Ty weren’t here. He wouldn’t pass out. Winona was here with him. Winona would keep him safe.

He nodded in response to Winona’s question. He couldn’t speak. He could hardly breathe.

“Can you speak?”

He shook his head. That was all he could do: nod or shake his head. At least Winona understood.

“That’s okay,” Winona reassured him. “We’re going to go up to Steven’s hotel room. Does that sound good?”
 
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I get by with a little help from my friends (I get high with a little help from my friends) gonna try with a little help from my friends

Torchic W. Pip

~ Utterly glorious ~
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
they/he
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
  3. custom/torchic-mikuri
  4. custom/torchic-daigo
I get by with a little help from my friends (I get high with a little help from my friends) gonna try with a little help from my friends

Mental illness, self hatred, anxiety, mentions of drug abuse and seizures, internalized ableism, mentions of vomiting

Wallace woke up with the parched, foul taste of vomit still lingering in his mouth and the aftereffects of his panic attack still foggy in his head. The rest of the night before had been a blur. There were the faintest shadows of memories of Winona helping him take off his cape, of Steven returning to the room, of Steven and Winona talking. Recalling it all over again felt like trying to remember a dream that was quickly trying to slip away.

But one thing was still clear: he had made a fool of himself at that party. He had made a fool of himself on his first night as Champion. He had made a fool of himself in front of the whole damn world. What kind of Champion was he?

“Good morning, Wallace.”

Wallace sat up. Steven was in the kitchenette, boiling a pot of water, smiling.

“How are you?” Steven asked.

There was a… mental block in Wallace’s head. He couldn’t speak. It was too hard to speak. Too overwhelming. Too much.

He took a deep breath, holding up his hands to sign out, [“I need water.”]

Steven took a moment to register what Wallace was saying, but when he did, he gasped and took a cup from the cupboard to fill it with water. Once the cup was full, he briskly walked over to the bed and sat next to Wallace.

“Here you go.”

The water was ambrosia to Wallace’s throat, but he was too thirsty to drink it slowly. He was also too thirsty to notice that Steven had walked back into the kitchenette, and now Steven was walking back with a Spheal wearing an orange vest.

“I brought Duncan,” he said.

(“Hello, Wallace!”) Duncan waved cheerfully with both of his flippers. (“Did you have fun at the party?”)

Wallace shook his head.

(“What? No fun at all?”) Poor thing looked so worried, made even more heartbreaking by the fact that Duncan was just a ball of blubber. (“Must have been a square time…”)

Wallace nodded. [“Panic attack.”]

Steven couldn’t understand Duncan, but he could understand Wallace. He put Duncan in Wallace’s lap so the Spheal could help by hugging him.

(“I can come with you to square parties so you can feel round!”)

Well, Wallace could… he probably needed Duncan, since he was, well, a service Pokémon, a Pokémon who was there to keep Wallace from having panic attacks. Or PTSD flashbacks. Or severe psychotic episodes or alcohol binges or seizures or—

“Are you feeling any better?” Steven asked.

Wallace was supposed to feel better. Wallace was supposed to feel better, especially five years after… the fact. That’s why he couldn’t bring Duncan to parties. Duncan had his service Pokémon vest. Duncan had his little tag that said “I’m a babysitter for this unstable manchild whore and he can’t function without me even after five years”. Champions didn’t need service Pokémon to help them; they could help themselves.

But Wallace couldn’t.

Wallace shook his head at Steven’s question. Steven was understanding. Steven had taught him HSL finger spelling and basic words and phrases. Steven was always open to negotiations on boundaries and limits. Steven understood Wallace’s issues, but Steven had to understand that Wallace needed to be better by now.

“Would a shower or bath help?” Steven asked.

[“Where’s Winona?”]

“She’s talking to some of her friends. Flannery got into a pretty heated argument with Chili.”

Wallace rolled his eyes at Steven’s pun, eliciting a laugh from the poor former Champion.

“Winona should be back soon, don’t worry. In the meantime, I’m going to make breakfast. Go treat yourself to a nice shower.”

-

Water had always had a therapeutic effect on Wallace. Perhaps it was because of Sootopolis City’s affinity for the sea, or maybe it was the fact that Wallace was a Water type trainer.

He let himself take in the warm water of the shower, the calming steam, the smoothness of the tiles. He tried not to think about the world outside the shower doors, instead focusing on the hotel’s fancy, vanilla/orange-scented shampoo and conditioner. An interesting combination for sure. It made him think of color schemes of white, brown, and orange. He didn’t really think about warmer color schemes as much as cooler ones…

A towel and bathrobe was waiting on the counter when Wallace finished his shower. As he put on the bathrobe, he caught a glance of his reflection in the mirror. The glance easily became a long stare.

Who is that? Of course he knew who it was. It was himself: Wallace Izumi Papadakis. Gym Leader turned Champion, Coordinator, and guardian and poster child of Sootopolis City. But he didn’t feel like he was the same person as the reflection staring back at him. He felt like a detached soul staring at a freak he didn’t know. It made all of his imperfections—the physical, social, and psychological ones—all the more easier to see.

Five years. It’s been five years. What can’t you be normal again already?

Wallace turned on the faucet and let the water run under his fingers. It was cold in a comforting way. It helped ground him in reality. It lowered his anxiety to a level where he could open the door to the bathroom.

-

Steven was drinking a cup of tea on the sofa. Another cup, along with a plate of toast, sat on the coffee table in front of him. Duncan was having a blast rolling around the perimeter of the room.

Wallace was hungry—no, he was starving —but years of ignoring hunger pangs had taken their toll on him, not to mention his anxiety over eating in front of other people. The latter had gotten better over the years, though, to the point that he could eat in front of people he was close to without having a panic attack. And Steven was certainly close. Steven, Winona, Lisia, Juan, Nicole, Raphael. Those people were close, safe, good. Every other person in the world was a stranger, dangerous, bad.

“How do you do it, Steven?” Wallace asked as he sat down next to him.

“Do what?” Steven smirked playfully. “Look this sexy?”

That got a small chuckle out of Wallace. “No, I mean how do you handle everything so… perfectly?”

It was Steven’s turn to chuckle—no, laugh. Louder than was normal for him. “Wallace, Wallace, Wallace, you silly I don’t handle everything perfectly— at all —and to be honest, I don’t know how I even handled last night. Usually, big crowds overwhelm me, but sometimes, they randomly just… don’t. My brain’s weird like that.” Steven wrapped his arm around Wallace’s shoulders. “Everyone’s brain is a little weird.”

Wallace’s frown didn’t let up, though… Steven? Being nervous?

Steven sighed. “This is going to sound really corny, but hear me out.” His voice had lowered to something less joking and more soothing, like a brook gliding over pebbles. “It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not be perfect every single moment. Do you promise to keep that in mind as the new Hoenn Champion?”

It’s okay to not be okay. Wallace had heard that phrase more times than he could count: from therapists to graphics on social media. It didn’t even feel like a real phrase to him anymore. But Steven was saying it, damn it, so it wasn’t more than a string of words.

“I’ll try.”

The smile was back on Steven’s face. “Well, I’ll be halfway around the world at times, so it’s going to be hard for me to keep track of you.”

An idea seemed to strike, because Steven got up and walked over to the closet. As he rummaged through his suitcase, someone knocked on the door.

“I’ll get it!” Steven sprung back up before Wallace had even a moment to react and ran to open the door.

Winona waved to Wallace as she walked into the room, a sympathetic smile on her face.

“Feeling any better?” she asked.

“A little bit thanks to Steven, and a little bit more thanks to you.”

Wallace stood up so he could wrap his arms around Winona. He simply had to greet her well; she was so good to him, and even her presence was enough to lift his mood.

“How’s Flannery?” Steven asked.

Winona shook her head against Wallace’s shoulder. “She’s still not on speaking terms with Chili.”

Steven laughed as he walked back to his suitcase. “Well, let’s hope this one’s like that fight with Brawly. Remember that? I barely do, it ended so quickly.”

Winona shrugged. “It’s Flannery; who knows?”

Steven stood up, hands clasped around something. When he stopped in front of Wallace, he held it out: a reddish pink, crystalline stone.

“Is that a ruby?” Wallace asked.

“Close.” It was clear Steven was lying. “It’s rose quartz. A mineral, not a rock.”

Wallace picked up the quartz and turned it in his hands a few times. It was a very beautiful rock—mineral. If safety and warmth has colors, then they would be the same color as this rock. Even just looking at the hue of pink made him feel like things… like things would be okay.

”Whenever I’m far away,” Steven said, “think of me as that little mineral, there to guide you and help you. I’ll call you two often, of course, but whenever I can’t, then I’m the rose quartz.”

Wallace had to shake his head at that—Steven, a rock? Perhaps Steven truly had snapped—though in fairness, this was probably one of Steven’s tamest ideas. And… well, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. Having the crystallization of Steven’s safety and warmth in his hands didn’t sound like such a bad idea.

“And I’ll be there for you,” Winona added. “Even when I’m at the Gym or dealing with the other Gym Leaders, the doors to my Gym and my arms will always be open to you.”

Wallace smiled. He didn’t deserve partners like Steven and Winona. He didn’t—

No. That was his mind being mean to him again. He wasn’t going to let it win, not now at least. He was safe with the two greatest people in the world.

”What’s Rose Quartz Steven’s advice right now?” he asked Steven.

Steven smiled. “Eat some toast.”
 
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The four kings of EMI are sitting stately on the floor

Torchic W. Pip

~ Utterly glorious ~
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
they/he
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
  3. custom/torchic-mikuri
  4. custom/torchic-daigo
The four kings of EMI are sitting stately on the floor

Panic attacks, vomiting, discussions of mental illness, mentions of past sexual harassment and bigotry

Staring at paperwork was worse than eye contact.

Steven was a numbers person, Winona was a words person, and Wallace was a pictures person. Paperwork was all numbers and words, with numbers disguised as pictures. Sure, graphs organized numbers into something he could at least comprehend, but numbers were scary, especially ones about Sootopolis City. Unemployment wasn’t falling fast enough, and crime seemed to be slowly ticking up higher and higher. Wasn’t Michaelides supposed to do something about that?

Speaking of which, the city’s mayor had sent an invitation to a charity ball. An event featuring the socialites of Sootopolis City. The same people who had called Wallace slurs. The same people who had flirted with him, even when he was barely a teen. The same people who—

Victoria bumped her head against the side of Wallace’s, snapping his vision of blurry text into clear focus. He reassured himself with the fact that his desk was neatly organized; perfectly white desk, perfectly straight pencils and pens, perfect color coordination—

“Hey, kid.”

Wallace jumped at the voice. Sidney was standing over his desk with…

“Sidney, get your foot off my table.”

Sidney frowned. “Steven let me do it.”

“Well of course Steven would let you do it.” Wallace gestured with his hand to emphasize his words. “Now would you get it off before the viruses and bacteria spread to the rest of my desk?”

Sidney surrendered, only to sit where his foot had been. Wallace made a mental note to get extra chairs for the office, though he couldn’t guarantee to his thoughts that they would match his current one.

“Why’s your office so sad and lonely?” Sidney asked as his eyes wandered around the empty walls of the room. “Steven says you’re an artist, so where’s the art?”

…Would Sidney get the half-truth, or the fuller-truth?

“Well… uh… doesn’t that seem… selfish?” Half-truth would do.

Sidney’s brow scrunched in perplexion. “You sayin’ art galleries are dens of selfishness or something?”

He had a point.

“Alright, then,” Wallace sighed, smiling. “I’ll see what I can find at home.”

Sidney smiled, his expression softening into… well, the softest expression Sidney could probably give. And then he started laughing.

“What, do you draw penises or something?”

“No, I don’t draw penises!” That was a lie. “What’s so funny about that?”

Sidney answered by laughing more, which wasn’t really an answer at all.

“You’re an odd man, Sidney,” Wallace said.

“Yeah, but it’s better to be an odd Sidney than a boring man.”

Wallace raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

Sidney looked down at Wallace. “Why spend your life trying to appease everyone? No matter how boring you act, how boring you dress, someone’s always going to hate you. It’s better to be interesting. People might not like you, but those people are probably just curious about things people they’ve never seen before. If you let them in… maybe they’ll start to like you.”

Well, Wallace hated to admit it, but maybe Sidney had a point.

Maybe.

-

Wallace had read somewhere that ginger and lemon were good for digestion, and he took that to mean that drinking three cups of ginger-lemon tea would help him keep at least one meal down.

It was nice to get up and out of his office, even if it meant going down to the break room to use the teapot, risking having to talk to a stranger—

“Hiiiiii, Wallace!!!”

—Or Phoebe.

He couldn’t chastise the girl for her cheeriness; she had spent her whole life with ghosts, and she still managed to keep it together with a smile and boundless energy. Could she see the spirits in heaven and hell, or just the ones stuck in the purgatory of the physical world? Was Megalos allowed to wander as a ghost, or did the Angels of Death condemn him to hell? Could she—

“Hey, Wallace? Earth to Wallace?”

Phoebe waved a hand in front of Wallace’s face. He looked down at his cup of tea so he could avoid her confused stare.

“Sorry, I’m… I’m a bit tired today.” And nauseous.

“Well, why not have some coffee?” Phoebe suggested. “Oh wait, you’re a tea person. I forgot.”

It was Wallace’s turn to be confused. “How did…?”

“Well, you’ve made a lot of it today…” She paused. “Also Steven told me. He told me all about how to make you feel welcome! No jumpscares from my friends, no loud noises…”

Wallace’s heart… felt something. Wow. No one had ever been so understanding. So—

“...Wallace, do you have autism?”

That question shocked Wallace. “Do-Do I?”

“I dunno. Steven does. I do. I think maybe you do, too… Crap, that’s a weird question, isn’t it?”

It was, but it was an important question. “Do you think I have autism?”

Phoebe shrugged. “The Water type and art fixation, lack of eye contact, lack of social things, being overwhelmed by loud places… that sort of stuff.”

Maybe Phoebe had a point. Maybe Phoebe could be trusted. Maybe—

She’s luring you in. If you tell her anything, she’ll use that against you and tell everyone and hurt you and—

“Hey Wallace, I’m sorry for asking that. I don’t—”

“Phoebe, Phoebe, Phoebe, you didn’t do anything wrong. I… I did.”

“No you didn’t! Don’t be silly!”

Wallace thought for a moment. Well, Phoebe knew about Wallace and Winona’s La Vega marriage relationship with Steven, and she hadn’t shunned them yet . “I know that my wife and husband are both autistic, and they’ve both mentioned that mental illness might fall under neuro—”

Shit. You just outed yourself as fucked in the head.

“Wallace?”

Wallace glided out of the office lounge, cup rattling in his shaky hand.

“Wallace!” Phoebe called. “Hey Wallace! I’m sorry for asking those questions and making you uncomfortable! I can stop the uncomfortable questions! And if you are something, I’ll still love you!”

Despite the fact that he was seconds away from throwing up, he stopped and turned back to Phoebe, who was standing some distance away from him.

She didn’t… She didn’t look like she was lying. Phoebe was too full of sunshine to lie maliciously.

Wallace managed to smile before his nausea flared up again.

-

Lunch did not end up staying down.

It was a miracle he made it back to the bathroom in his office rather than having to resort to the public restroom. Public restrooms were scary, especially men and women’s—

“Wallace? Is everything okay?”

Shit. Shit shit shit.

It was one thing for Sidney to find him vomiting, but Glacia?!

“Go away.” Shit. Not the most polite response from the most polite person to the most polite woman. But Wallace was too exhausted for anything better.

“Where did your manners go?” Glacia chuckled. So maybe she was joking. Thank the Sky Dragon. “Can I come in?”

“No.”

“Can you come out?”

“No.”

“…Oh dear…”

Wallace stood up and flushed the toilet. His head hurt like hell, but the last thing he needed was Glacia calling the ER.

“Fine. Fine.” He groaned and immediately regretted it. But Glacia seemed more concerned than shocked.

“Ojej, Wallace! Czy wszystko w porządku?” She put a hand to his forehead, mumbling Orzeskian under her breath.

“I think I’ll be okay if I just sit down.” Wallace didn’t know a whole lot of Glacia’s mother tongue, but he could make his assumptions.

“Sit down?! You’re lying down, young man.”

“But—“

“Trust me, I have two children.”

Oh right. That part. Glacia’s daughters. Only about a few years younger than Wallace, if he was remembering right. Thinking about it made him think about having kids of his own…

“How did you do it?” he mumbled. “The having kids thing?”

Glacia rolled her eyes. “I think you know very well, Sidney.”

-

Wallace found himself lying on the sofa in his office. He had a blanket—a white and blue crocheted blanket. It was... It was like a hug. He wrapped himself up tighter. It was like getting a hug without the humiliation that came with asking for one.

The snowflake pattern told him more than enough about its creator.

“Good afternoon, Wallace,” Glacia said, taking a sip from the cup of tea she was holding. She was sitting at Wallace's desk. “How was your nap?”

“I didn’t think I was tired enough to fall asleep for…” his eyes widened when he glanced over at the clock. “...three hours?!?!”

“It’s okay, Wallace. Steven would sometimes crash at his desk after a particularly long or stressful day, so I’m—”

“Not like that!” Thoughts were spinning in Wallace's head, and he started to feel nausea creeping up. He sat up, not bothering to take the blanket off of his shoulders. “I need to finish the paperwork! I need to get ready for a meeting with Cockburn! I need to get ready for a dinner with the mayor! I need to—”

“Wallace.”

Glacia remained calm, even as Wallace felt the world fall apart. She was… perfect.

“Deep breath in with me, Wallace. Breath in… Hold… Breath out… … Breath in… Hold… Breath out… …”

Slowly, Wallace’s thoughts and heart calmed down as his nausea subsided. It was only by a little at a time, but with a little at a time—steady breath in, steady breath out—he managed to come back down, managed to give Glacia a small smile.

"There we go," Glacia said softly, her smile dainty. "Winona says that art helps you when you're stressed. Why don't I teach you how to crochet? Maybe you can make me a blanket."

"But what about—"

"Wallace—”

"If I'm not perfect, then I'll be a failure to Sootopolis City and Hoenn."

Glacia rested her hand under her chin, closing her eyes in contemplation.

"Wallace," she eventually said, "have you ever seen snowflakes up close?"

Wallace nodded.

"Have you ever noticed how each one is unique, and how no snowflake is perfect?"

"I've heard of the first part," Wallace answered.

"Well, everyone is like a snowflake. Everyone of us is special in our own, unique way. No one is perfect, but that doesn't make anyone any less special."

"But Glacia—"

"Now come on." Glacia stood up. "Let's go crochet together."

-

Maybe the Elite Four was safe. Maybe the Elite Four would understand Wallace’s issues, accept him, love him. Maybe he could… be more than coworkers with them? Like friends? What even was a friend?

Wallace walked down the hallway with a boatload of questions in his mind: “How much did Steven tell you about my issues?” “Do you think I’m weird?” “Would you like to meet Duncan?” Questions like that.

“Wallace! It’s wonderful to see you.”

Planning to ask the questions was easier than actually asking the questions.

Drake was looking up from his book, a bright smile on his face. Wallace was standing in the doorway of the study, his face stoic and his posture perfect.

Drake put down his book and gestured towards the chair next to him. “Sit down, sit down.”

Wallace waved a dismissive hand. “I’m going to be going home soon, so I don’t have much time to chat. I just need to ask you something.”

“Come on, lad. Surely you have the time to sit down and have a chat with ol’ Drake.”

The chair was soft (safe, like the rest of Drake’s office). The shelves were filled with a fleet of ships in bottles (to keep the office safe from danger), and the walls were covered in maps.

“So,” Drake began, “how goes your Championhood? Is the paperwork being kind to ya?”

Wallace shrugged. “It’s been… fine.” Granted, he hadn’t been able to get to doing much of it, but at least an effort was made.

“How’s your missus?”

“Winona? She’s doing well. She’s a very… strong Gym Leader.” Wallace smiled as he thought of his wife. He missed her, even after only twelve hours.

“So I hear…”

Wallace let Drake ramble on about Winona, because it was nice to hear someone else praise her, and because it meant Wallace didn’t have to ask any questions.

“...But that doesn’t seem to be what’s wrong, now is it?”

“Well.”

Drake’s expression harshened. “Is there something you aren’t telling us?”

Fuck fuck fuck he looked mad. “No! Of course not! I’m not—”

Drake smiled, the sharpness of his face softening. Maybe he… wasn’t mad? “Wallace, none of us care about your identity or dress or whatever… not in the sense that we don’t like it or don’t care about your struggles, not at all. It’s in the sense that we’ll accept you no matter what. Is that what you’re worried about?”

Wallace smiled. “Yes,” he lied.
 
Last edited:

Panoramic_Vacuum

Hoenn around
Partners
  1. aggron
  2. lairon
Oh man, the general confusion and uncertainty over having Steven and Wallace be canon Champions at separate times has always been a big question mark for anyone who writes Hoenn stuff, and I was wondering what your take on it was going to be! There's so many different ways to approach the subject, and I like your version here.

Looks like you've gone with a game-canon feel, having Steven step down and pass the title on to Wallace. Of course, this doesn't go smoothly, and certainly not for someone like Wallace who puts so much pressure on themself. Boy, the gremlins run deep for Wallace, and I really feel for him. Balancing so much on one's plate and then having a whole other heaping helping of stress piled on top?? It's no wonder he's having A Time:tm:

I read chapters 1 and 2 together, as they paint a great picture when paired together. Chapter 1 is very much Not Okay and Wallace is not okay with being Not Okay. There is a running theme of anxiety, fear, and being alone. It reminds me of when in a movie or tv show, they have a face cam on a character with this wild distorted fish-eye lens, and it's just them on fast forward going through everything that's stressing them out, and in this case the camera is squarely on Wallace. The center of the chapter is him, and he is the center of attention. He's surrounded by his friends and yet they're on the periphery as he's living through his panic attack. He has conversations with Steven and Blue, but do they really see him? Are they speaking to the real him right in the moment? My guess is no.

Then, right at the end, his beloved is there to catch him. Winona breaks through where others haven't been able to, and she sees him and all his struggles. Which is a great lead in to Chapter 2, wherein Wallace isn't alone any more. He's with Winona and Steven, and this time they all can see him, the real him. A little part of me is perhaps bothered by the fact that Steven was more ignorant of his friend's plight the previous night, but he's only human, and here he makes more than amends with the comfort, grace, and advice he lends. It's touching, and it's a breath of fresh air knowing that the stress can be seen in a more positive, manageable light. And of course Steven's help comes in the form of a rock (sorry, mineral xD)

Gabby and Ty: Champion Wallace, what would you say is your spirit animal?
Wallace: Well, it's more of a spirit rock, actually...

Speaking of humor, I really enjoy the lighthearted banter in between the heavier subject material. A lot of little details caught my eye, too, like Victoria holding up Wallace's cape while he was sick (best partner ever 10/10). I'd pick them all out but then I'd be quoting over half your fic back to you!

I always enjoy seeing the Elites and Gym Leaders interacting with each other, sharing things that no challenger might ever dream of knowing. It makes them into real, believable people. A lot of times we're so engrossed with catching and training magical creatures that we forget there's a real world out there with people who shoulder real responsibility. It takes a lot to make the poke-world work, and this fic is proof that we all need our friends to keep the gremlins at bay. It's humanizing and relatable, and I love seeing your take on these trainers.
 

Torchic W. Pip

~ Utterly glorious ~
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
they/he
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
  3. custom/torchic-mikuri
  4. custom/torchic-daigo
@Panoramic_Vacuum Hey you're here reading my Hoenn stuff!!
Oh man, the general confusion and uncertainty over having Steven and Wallace be canon Champions at separate times has always been a big question mark for anyone who writes Hoenn stuff, and I was wondering what your take on it was going to be! There's so many different ways to approach the subject, and I like your version here.
(:
Looks like you've gone with a game-canon feel, having Steven step down and pass the title on to Wallace. Of course, this doesn't go smoothly, and certainly not for someone like Wallace who puts so much pressure on themself. Boy, the gremlins run deep for Wallace, and I really feel for him. Balancing so much on one's plate and then having a whole other heaping helping of stress piled on top?? It's no wonder he's having A Time:tm:
The gremlins run so deep the Marina Trench looks like a kiddie pool lol.
I read chapters 1 and 2 together, as they paint a great picture when paired together. Chapter 1 is very much Not Okay and Wallace is not okay with being Not Okay. There is a running theme of anxiety, fear, and being alone.
Nothing is okay lol.
It reminds me of when in a movie or tv show, they have a face cam on a character with this wild distorted fish-eye lens, and it's just them on fast forward going through everything that's stressing them out, and in this case the camera is squarely on Wallace.
THIS! This is such a good image of this scene! This scene was very much based on "Randy Scouse Git" in many ways, but especially the chorus (the chaos of Micky Dolenz screaming on one "A" note, especially the lead out chorus where the screaming is over Micky singing the verse... gosh that song is the personification of anxiety in a public setting lol).
The center of the chapter is him, and he is the center of attention. He's surrounded by his friends and yet they're on the periphery as he's living through his panic attack. He has conversations with Steven and Blue, but do they really see him? Are they speaking to the real him right in the moment? My guess is no.
He is here, and he does not want to be here at all.
Then, right at the end, his beloved is there to catch him. Winona breaks through where others haven't been able to, and she sees him and all his struggles. Which is a great lead in to Chapter 2, wherein Wallace isn't alone any more. He's with Winona and Steven, and this time they all can see him, the real him.
I would link to that one Muppet Babies song but that would expose me as a Muppet Babies stan lol
A little part of me is perhaps bothered by the fact that Steven was more ignorant of his friend's plight the previous night, but he's only human, and here he makes more than amends with the comfort, grace, and advice he lends. It's touching, and it's a breath of fresh air knowing that the stress can be seen in a more positive, manageable light. And of course Steven's help comes in the form of a rock (sorry, mineral xD)
Part of that is Wallace trying to keep up a mask, part of that is Steven not being good at reading people (especially in large group settings), but when he realizes that his friend is actually not okay, he's like "oh shoot I've got to make this up with minerals."
Gabby and Ty: Champion Wallace, what would you say is your spirit animal?
Wallace: Well, it's more of a spirit rock, actually...
Mood lol
Speaking of humor, I really enjoy the lighthearted banter in between the heavier subject material. A lot of little details caught my eye, too, like Victoria holding up Wallace's cape while he was sick (best partner ever 10/10). I'd pick them all out but then I'd be quoting over half your fic back to you!
Hey, quote as much of my fic as you want! I love it when people like little specific parts of my fics.
I always enjoy seeing the Elites and Gym Leaders interacting with each other, sharing things that no challenger might ever dream of knowing. It makes them into real, believable people. A lot of times we're so engrossed with catching and training magical creatures that we forget there's a real world out there with people who shoulder real responsibility. It takes a lot to make the poke-world work, and this fic is proof that we all need our friends to keep the gremlins at bay. It's humanizing and relatable, and I love seeing your take on these trainers.
I'm really glad you enjoyed this. I wasn't really sure what to do with it tbh, but I'm putting off working on this fic until I finish I'm a Marionette.
 

ShiniGojira

Multiversal Extraordinaire
Location
Stranded In The Gaps between Multiverses
Pronouns
He/him/they/her
Partners
  1. froslass
  2. custom/zorua-gojira
Hello, Torchic! Hope you're having a lovely day today! Here I am for the catnip and I've read all of them in one sitting. I enjoyed them as much as I've enjoyed IAM. (I should probably do more reading soon. Haven't been doing much of that recently so this was a nice way to jumpstart my read list)

Chapter 1 and 2 are much different from 3-6. As these two are talking about the start of Wallace's championhood (I'm gonna assume the two ending chapters of this will be when Steven returns).

Chappie 1 talks about a bit of Wallace's past trauma (presumably something to do with IAM) and about his anxiety of being interviewed to thousands– maybe millions of eyes! (So I understand why he's nervous) The end with Winona was cute and I liked it.

Oh and also I loved the surprise appearance of Blue and his ragtag group of 'second-best'.

Chapter 2 has nice exchanges between Steven and Wallace. Steven being supportive and Wallace being this mushed-up ball of anxiety and nerves. Lovely amount of whump and jokes.

Chapter 3 to 6 are a bit more lighthearted than the first 2 and they were just great! I always enjoy some family-ish interactions between the champion and their E4, it's so fun to see relationships like these.

Chapter 3 has stoner based Sidney and did he really take the entire computer? Oh God. Chapter 4 with child-like ball of sunshine Phoebe and her cuddly ghosts were cute. Chapter 5 has Glacia being the sort of 'mother' of the group and it's cute to see her teaching Wallace some stuff. Then chapter 6 has the stoic Drake and his blunt but effective advice, although it seems like Wallace doesn't truly believe in that.

And here's my line-by-line thoughts:
“That’s an order, Sidney,” Wallace snapped, pointing a cold finger at Sidney.

Sidney held up his hands in defeat, smiling.

“Already exercising your Champion privileges, I see.”

Wallace dropped his hand to his side.

“I’m sorry, Sidney,” he said, his voice softer.

“Eh, I was just joking, kid.”
Fun exchange. Loving the dynamic between them.
“She was in a yellow halter dress, wasn’t she?”

The worry in Wallace’s eyes faded, and he sighed with a dreamy smile.

“Doesn’t she look beautiful in it, Steven? She looks like an angel.”

“I know, I know,” Steven chuckled. “You two just couldn’t pull away from each other in the month after your wedding.”

“We had to make up for our short honeymoon somehow. Besides, if we’re going to start a family, we’re going to have to, well, start.”
Aw, that's cute.
Two other people stood just a few feet from Wallace: Gabby and Ty of Hoenn TV.
So, um are they the reporters we beat up in the games? 'cause that's kinda how I'm imagining them as.
If I were Juan, I would be ashamed of myself for mentoring a fool like him.
Probably just me being nitpicky but I find it a little weird that Wallace is referring to himself in both first person and third person here. Almost sounds like he's talking about Juan himself in the last 'him'.

Maybe try 'If I were Juan, I would be ashamed for mentoring (a fool/someone) like me.'
”But what about everyone else?”

”Who cares what everyone else thinks?”
A nice and supportive exchange between Wallace and Winona.
Water had always had a therapeutic effect on Wallace. Perhaps that was because of Sootopolis City’s affinity for the sea or the fact that Wallace was a Water type trainer.
It could also be both, Wallace, my boy!
He felt like a detached soul staring at a freak he didn’t know. It made seeing all of his imperfections—the physical, social, and psychological ones—all the more easier.

Why can’t I be perfect? Why can’t I at least be normal or functional?
No one is truly normal nor can they be perfect. Even the most normal-looking person can have one thing about them that makes them weird to others.

I think it's fine to be weird or have something that's weird as long as it doesn't hurt people.
“I don’t handle everything perfectly— at all —and to be honest, I don’t know how I even handled last night. Usually, big crowds overwhelm me, but sometimes, they randomly just… don’t.” Steven gestured absentmindedly with his hand. “I know I’m leaving a lot on your plate, but as someone who deals with anxiety and depression and as someone who was the Champion for quite a few years, I’ll gladly be a listening ear.”
Supportive Steven is supportive.
“This is going to sound really corny, but hear me out.” Steven’s voice had lowered to something less joking and more soothing, like a brook gliding over pebbles. “It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not be perfect every single moment. Do you promise to keep that in mind as the new Hoenn Champion?”
Easier said than done but good advice from the rock man himself.
Whenever I’m far away,” Steven said, “think of me as that little mineral, there to guide to and help you. I’ll call you guys often, of course, but whenever I can’t, then I’m the rose quartz.”
I don't know if this is intentional or not, but this kinda feels like a reference to Steven Universe. What with the whole Steven is a rose quartz and helps comfort people in the show.

A fun little reference if it is and a lovely coincidence if it isn't.
Wallace jumped and looked up at the sound of Sidney’s voice. “How did you get in my office?”

“The door was unlocked.”

“Well…” Wallace sighed, smiling. “...come in. I can get you a chair—”

Sidney sat on Wallace’s desk.

“...but that works, too.”
Based Sidney.
Had she heard him talking to himself? Had he heard his thoughts?
Genderfluid Dusclops ftw!

(Jokes aside, that 'he' should be a 'she')
“MR. CUDDLES! MRS. CUDDLES! YOU ATE WALLACE’S PRESENT!”
Love the image of Phoebe shouting at two ghosts named 'Cuddles'. Fun and cute.
Anywho, take care, Torchic! Hope your day's looking up for you! See ya!
 

Torchic W. Pip

~ Utterly glorious ~
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
they/he
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
  3. custom/torchic-mikuri
  4. custom/torchic-daigo
Hello, Torchic! Hope you're having a lovely day today! Here I am for the catnip and I've read all of them in one sitting. I enjoyed them as much as I've enjoyed IAM. (I should probably do more reading soon. Haven't been doing much of that recently so this was a nice way to jumpstart my read list)
Glad to hear you enjoyed it!
Chapter 1 and 2 are much different from 3-6. As these two are talking about the start of Wallace's championhood (I'm gonna assume the two ending chapters of this will be when Steven returns).
Chappie 1 talks about a bit of Wallace's past trauma (presumably something to do with IAM) and about his anxiety of being interviewed to thousands– maybe millions of eyes! (So I understand why he's nervous) The end with Winona was cute and I liked it.
You can arrest Megalos, but you can't arrest the trauma he gave Wallace 🙃 Mental health is a struggle, but it's easier with friends (especially when they know your problems *cough cough* IAM WALLACE *cough cough*)
Oh and also I loved the surprise appearance of Blue and his ragtag group of 'second-best'.
I love them as much as you do! Expect to see them more :tongue:
Chapter 2 has nice exchanges between Steven and Wallace. Steven being supportive and Wallace being this mushed-up ball of anxiety and nerves. Lovely amount of whump and jokes.
Whump and jokes is the goodest to write
Chapter 3 to 6 are a bit more lighthearted than the first 2 and they were just great! I always enjoy some family-ish interactions between the champion and their E4, it's so fun to see relationships like these.

Chapter 3 has stoner based Sidney and did he really take the entire computer? Oh God. Chapter 4 with child-like ball of sunshine Phoebe and her cuddly ghosts were cute. Chapter 5 has Glacia being the sort of 'mother' of the group and it's cute to see her teaching Wallace some stuff. Then chapter 6 has the stoic Drake and his blunt but effective advice, although it seems like Wallace doesn't truly believe in that.
Fun exchange. Loving the dynamic between them.
Really fun to write the Elite Four. Pano was onto something.
So, um are they the reporters we beat up in the games? 'cause that's kinda how I'm imagining them as.
Yep
Probably just me being nitpicky but I find it a little weird that Wallace is referring to himself in both first person and third person here. Almost sounds like he's talking about Juan himself in the last 'him'.

Maybe try 'If I were Juan, I would be ashamed for mentoring (a fool/someone) like me.'
Good point. Fixed that. Thank you!
I don't know if this is intentional or not, but this kinda feels like a reference to Steven Universe. What with the whole Steven is a rose quartz and helps comfort people in the show.

A fun little reference if it is and a lovely coincidence if it isn't.
I have only watched people talk about Steven Universe and fandom discourse, so this was very much an unintentional reference lol.
Genderfluid Dusclops ftw!

(Jokes aside, that 'he' should be a 'she')
Heck yeah genderfluid Pokémon

(Thank you for pointing out that typo. And for the idea to headcanon Phoebe's Dusclops as genderfluid)
 
Daydream believer and a homecoming queen

Torchic W. Pip

~ Utterly glorious ~
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
they/he
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
  3. custom/torchic-mikuri
  4. custom/torchic-daigo
Daydream believer and a homecoming queen

Implied sexual content, references to psychiatric medication, references to toxic family, minor anxiety

6:00

The sun came up at 6 o’clock, along with the alarm clock, and along with Winona.

The other side of the bed was empty. Winona sighed. The days of early morning kisses and cuddles from Wallace were getting few and far between. Oh well. At least the two always had the nights to spend together.

But she couldn’t dwell on those thoughts for long. She had to fly to work at the Gym, and she had a routine of things to do before that.

Reluctantly, she loosened the embrace her blanket had around her and got out of bed. She had to be strong without anyone or anything to help her. She didn’t need to rely on the comforts of the night to shelter her from the storms of the day. She was Winona, Leader of the Hoenn Gym Leaders, Hoenn’s strongest Gym Leader, bird user taking flight into the world. She hadn’t gained any of those titles through luck or birthright, and she had to show she deserved every single one of them.

-

6:11

The bathroom was lit by the dim, blue glow of the predawn sky peeking through the blinds. Everything was some shade of bluish gray, but Winona could still make out the lines on the stick she held.

Or the one line. Just like everyday. Oh well. At least she could try to change that after work.

She tossed the stick in the empty box, reminding herself to ask Ataksak, her Swellow, to go to the pharmacy.

-

6:40

Breakfast was toast and miso, as always. She was improving her Greek a lot—enough to determine whether or not the morning papers had any degrading rumors or gossip in them. The worst of it was starting to die down, thank goodness. Maybe she would stop reading them and just immediately throw them in the recycling.

But then how would she get her news? Her PokéNav Plus? There was worse stuff on the internet. At least newspapers had editors.

She walked out onto the patio, where her Pokémon were idly chatting with each other. She tossed a handful of birdseed on the glazed stone tiles and beamed a bright smile at them. “Good morning, sweet darlings.” She looked up at the sky. The sun wasn’t visible from the crater of Sootopolis City yet, but the oranges, golds, and light blues of the sky were. “And good morning, beautiful sky! May today be a wonderful day!”

-

12:35

Winona couldn’t remember a slower day at the Gym in her life.

She only faced one challenger from nine to five: Ashley, her youngest and newest Gym Trainer. The girl had the drive and heart of a promising trainer, but for the time being, she couldn’t surpass her mentor.

In the afternoon, Winona let her Pokémon out to soar around the skies over the city. She stood on the battlefield, staring up at the windmills, staring up at the trainer’s platforms, staring up at the limitless skies and the endless beauty and opportunities and—

“Ms. Winona?”

Ashley was looking up at Winona. She was much shorter, only going up to Winona’s knee. Her blue hair was also short. There was still that spark of passion in her matching blue eyes that had been there during the battle.

“Ms. Winona, why are you so strong?”

Winona knelt down so she was near eye level with Ashley. “Well, I was once a kid just like you, and I wasn’t always… this strong. Sure, I won some battles, but I also lost a lot of battles.”

By “battles”, Winona was implying several things, but by using such a vague term as “battles”, it could apply to Ashley’s predicament.

Ashley gasped. “You lost battles?”

“You learn as much as you do from your losses as you do from your wins.”

Winona forced a small smile. If only she could take that advice to heart. But she was a leader, not a follower. If she could help a student, that would be enough.

-

16:22

Flannery called Winona, inviting her to meet her at the Well Tempered Pidgey after work ended at 17 o’clock. Such was customary between the two; it gave them time to catch up and chat about pleasant things and… well, it gave Winona what she didn’t have as a kid: friends. Flannery was the closest thing Winona had to what seemed to be a friend; Roxanne, Brawly, and the twins were more akin to her children than her friends. Wattson and Juan were more father figures, and Norman was somewhere between a father figure and an enigma. Flannery was the closest thing Winona had to a human friend in the “mutual affection without sexual or family relations” sense.

Was that what friendship was? The dictionary said so, but Winona wasn’t like Steven or Wallace. She was more about experiencing things to find out what they meant. There were so many things to experience: love, flying, freedom—

“Winona! Hey! Winona! Is your head up in the clouds again?”

She was back in the real world again: Warm light peeping through the lattice windows. Paper lanterns on the ceilings, plants and posters on the walls. Warm tea in her cup. Scones on her plate.

17:45

“Watcha thinking about?” Flannery teased.

“Birds.” It started as a lie, but now Winona was thinking about birds. Birds were so pretty. Birds were so—

“That’s really cool,” Flannery said. “What kind of birds are you thinking about?”

“That’s really cool.” “That’s really cool.” That was such a kind thing to say. So why was Winona’s mind whipping around like a Latios and Latias playing tag?

“Swellow.” Winona’s mind was spinning around with Latios, Latios, and Swellow. “Doesn’t Swellow have such pretty wings? And Ataksak’s emerald green wings are just—”

Creak! Ding ding! Slam!

A woman was staring at Winona, a woman with light blue hair, a woman of exactly sixty years, a woman with an all too familiar stare and frown.

“Winona,” she said.

“Winona?” Flannery whispered.

She should have known. She should have known that Rina would be in Hoenn. If Bugsy was here, surely Rina would always be nearby.

Winona stood up and grabbed her bag in one motion. Her steps were sharp and coordinated like a model’s.

“Young woman, you will speak to me right now!”

Winona wouldn’t. She never would. She would never let her or her take away the only fragments she had left to rebuild her life.

She slammed the door and kept walking. Blocked out the world in case her mother was yelling at her, in case the rumors were already starting to spread. Avoided thinking about people would say. Tuned into the wind and air around her.

“It’s okay,” they said with a gentle breeze of pine and petrichor. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

Winona took out her Pokénav Plus and started texting Flannery:



If that woman tries to speak to you, don’t let her

-Winona



What’s up

Who is that woman

-Flannery




You don’t need to know

-Winona




-

19:50



Hello, darling. I apologize for being so quiet today. My new duties have made me… quite busy today. I promise to make up for this tonight. (;
-Wallace




The living room was a decently-sized space made bigger by its high, domed roof. It had simple, white walls and simple, azure furniture that could easily be pushed to the side. Arched doorways led to four different rooms: the hallway, the parlor, the staircase, and the patio. The two things that stood out the most were the rug, decorated with patterns of cyan and navy and white, and the paintings of Water type Pokémon on the wall.

It was a big enough room for Winona to let out her nervous energy through dance.

The first few songs were high energy pop songs, the kind of music Winona had listened to as a late teen. She could jump, spin around, spread her arms and legs out, be free. The songs got slower and slower in tempo as the hours went on. Aurora and her kids, Hwanung and Amaterasu, joined in to dance at one point, but then it became late, and Aurora had to take her kids to bed.

Winona stayed out, though. She still had that stupid nervous energy.

-

22:44

Winona stopped the music. “Lilycove Waltz” was about to play. She couldn’t dance to that without Wallace. First of all, it was a waltz, a dance meant for two people. Second of all, it was their waltz, their first dance as a married couple. It was silly, perhaps even childish, but the song wasn’t complete without him. Maybe she would go to bed early and—

“Hello darling.”

Wallace was standing in the archway leading to the hallway. His cape was draped over his shoulders and fell to the floor like the waiting wings of a noble bird; his arms were out and ready to take Winona in a warm embrace.

“The wind and waves have kept us apart for far too long,” he whispered has he held her closer, “but I have returned, my love.”

Winona took Wallace’s hands and guided him over to the center of the living room. She let go of them—temporarily, so she could start up the music. Wallace's eyes lit up with a glow of nostalgia.

“Shall we?” she said with a faux curtsy.

Wallace dramatically bowed in return. “We shall.”

-

0:03

The pressure of Wallace’s head was soothing on Winona’s chest. His breathing was slow, stable, soothing. His fingers were lazily tracing across her bare skin.

“I missed you, darling.” Wallace’s voice was husky yet comforting. “I missed every part of you.”

“How was today?”

“It was fine. But why worry about today? Until tomorrow, let us only think about you and me.”

“Did you take your medication?”

Wallace was silent for a moment, then he quietly chuckled. “You win your little game. You've found a loophole.”

He kissed Winona’s cheek and she giggled, but then she forced herself to frown. “Did you?”

“I did.” He buried his face in her neck and peppered it with kisses. “Did you miss me, darling?”

Winona smiled. “I’ve told you, what, thirty one times tonight?”

“Say it a thirty second time. Did you miss me?”

Winona wrapped her arm around Wallace. “Of course I missed you.”

“I missed you too.”

Winona stayed up as long as she could. She wanted this moment to last as long as it could, because when it was all over, it would be just another day.
 
Last edited:

IFBench

Rescue Team Member
Location
Pokemon Paradise
Partners
  1. custom/chikorita-saltriv
  2. custom/bench-gen
  3. charmander
  4. snivy
  5. treecko
  6. tropius
Here for another part of our review exchange, on chapter 1!

Oh boy, starting right off with a panic attack.

I have known Sidney for all of one minute and I'm already laughing at his remarks, especially the one about necromancy.

Oh boy, I can already tell this is going to be a fun read with Sidney around.

Oooooh, other champions and gym leaders! This is gonna be interesting.

Oh dear, Wallace is being televised?

And a spontaneous interview! Not gonna be fun for Wallace, I bet.

Wallace's self-hatred thoughts tear at my heartstrings. Poor guy needs so much love and support.

And here's Winona to help!

That was a nice chapter. I could really feel for how much Wallace did not want to be here, and yet felt like he had to.
 

IFBench

Rescue Team Member
Location
Pokemon Paradise
Partners
  1. custom/chikorita-saltriv
  2. custom/bench-gen
  3. charmander
  4. snivy
  5. treecko
  6. tropius
Alright, here to review the rest of ATAC!

I really like Wallace's internal thoughts at the beginning! Gives a good recap from the end of the last chapter, and helps set up this new one!

I like how Wallace is still feeling too overwhelmed to speak verbally. Shows just how much yesterday has affected him!

Awwww, emotional support Spheal! Always love seeing service Pokemon in fics and blogs, they're a fantastic concept that should be used more! And Duncan is an adorable name. Really like that you're giving this little seal personality! I want to hug him!

Also, I like the usage of "square" and "round" by Duncan. I'm guessing that square things are seen as bad in Spheal line culture? Interesting!

Oh dear...I can sorta relate to Wallace. Feeling like it's been long enough, that you should be better by now, that there must be something wrong with you, that you need to be better already. It hurts, and I really sympathize.

I'll admit, I had to look up who some of these characters are, particularly Flannery. Wonder what that argument with Chili is about, maybe about which fire-types are the best?

Oh dear, Wallace has trouble recognizing himself in the mirror. That's not a good sign. This poor man really needs his support network.

I can relate to anxiety about eating in front of other people. I feel that too.

I wonder who Lisia, Nicole, and Raphael are. Other water-type specialists? I recently learned that Juan was Wallace's mentor, are they also people who have helped Wallace? I can't help but wonder.

It's always a bit surreal when someone you really look up to reveals that they have fears and anxieties just like you do. That they're not fundamentally better than you. It's neat seeing that here with Wallace and Steven.

I need to internalize that phrase myself, that it's ok to not be ok.

I'm now even more curious as to what this feud between Flannery and Chili is about.

Awwwww, something to remind Wallace and Winona of Steven!

Legitimately laughed at those last two lines. That was great.

Onto the next chapter!

I wonder what EMI is, and what the four kings of it are?

Can definitely relate to hating eye contact.

I wonder who Michaelides is.

...oh dear. I have a bad, bad feeling as to what that third thing that happened with the socialites might have been.

Victoria!

Oh boy. All I know about Sidney is that he's the dark-type elite four member of Hoenn, and that his theme in Masters EX is awesome, so this is a fun introduction to his character.

...huh. Never thought about things like the way Sidney is saying, about how it's better to be interesting.

Oooooh, is this chapter going to be about the Hoenn elite four? Cool!

Huh, so Megalos is dead at this point. Interesting! And good riddance.

Heh, that's a bit upfront.

I wonder what Wallace would think of his adoptive nephew likely being autistic, but undiagnosed.

Wonder what that line about Sidney was about. I'm a bit confused.

I can relate to panicking after waking up from passing out for a while, and realizing how much you need to do.

Huh, didn't know that second thing about snowflakes either.

Heh, can definitely relate to how much easier it is to come up with questions than ask them.

I love the use of "lied" as a dialogue tag. Though I feel like this is going to come back to bite Wallace later, in one way or another.

Final chapter for now!

Oh dear. Looks like being champion is really overworking Wallace.

Huh, didn't know that Winona was the strongest Hoenn gym leader! Interesting!

Ooooooh, wonder how being a gym trainer works in this universe? I'm intrigued!

Like that advice. You learn a lot from your mistakes, too, perhaps even moreso than from your successes.

The mental image of a Latias and Latios playing tag is adorable, love that!

Huh, who is this Rina person? Looks like she doesn't like Winona much.

Oh, so this is Winona's mother. Oh boy.

I wonder who Aurora is? Another relative of Winona's?

I like how you came up with a custom piece of music for this universe! That's really neat!

I can really relate to missing someone you love, even if it's just been a day. I feel that way with my best friend and my girlfriend all the time.

This was a nice read, and now I really want Gen and Wallace to interact again.

Thank you for writing this!
 

Torchic W. Pip

~ Utterly glorious ~
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
they/he
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
  3. custom/torchic-mikuri
  4. custom/torchic-daigo
Oh boy, starting right off with a panic attack.
Wouldn’t be a Torchic fic without one :unquag:

I have known Sidney for all of one minute and I'm already laughing at his remarks, especially the one about necromancy.
I love this fool so much that I want to punch him in the face

Oh dear, Wallace is being televised?
Yes 😞
I really like Wallace's internal thoughts at the beginning! Gives a good recap from the end of the last chapter, and helps set up this new one!
Glad you liked it!

I like how Wallace is still feeling too overwhelmed to speak verbally. Shows just how much yesterday has affected him!
Writing Wallace with "too overwhelmed to speak verbally" makes me feel better about having it too :veelove:

Awwww, emotional support Spheal! Always love seeing service Pokemon in fics and blogs, they're a fantastic concept that should be used more! And Duncan is an adorable name. Really like that you're giving this little seal personality! I want to hug him!
I love this Spheal so much

Also, I like the usage of "square" and "round" by Duncan. I'm guessing that square things are seen as bad in Spheal line culture? Interesting!
Circles are round and superior (like Spheal), triangles and strong but unpredictable (like the teeth of a Walrein), and squares are not good at all.

Oh dear...I can sorta relate to Wallace. Feeling like it's been long enough, that you should be better by now, that there must be something wrong with you, that you need to be better already. It hurts, and I really sympathize.
Been there too 🫂

I'll admit, I had to look up who some of these characters are, particularly Flannery. Wonder what that argument with Chili is about, maybe about which fire-types are the best?
Wheel decide :copyka:

I wonder who Lisia, Nicole, and Raphael are. Other water-type specialists? I recently learned that Juan was Wallace's mentor, are they also people who have helped Wallace? I can't help but wonder.
Lisia is Wallace’s niece in canon. His sister is mentioned but never names or seen, so… Nicole. Oh yeah and Raphael is there too.

I need to internalize that phrase myself, that it's ok to not be ok.
Sameeeeee

I wonder what EMI is, and what the four kings of it are?
Oh heck yeah I get to talk about one of my favourite songs.

It’s a reference to “Randy Scouse Git” (“Alternate Title” in England”). It’s based on a patty that the songwriter, Micky Dolenz, was invited to by the Beatles. The four kings of EMI refers to the Beatles.

I wonder who Michaelides is.
New mayor. Hopefully better than Megalos.

Oh boy. All I know about Sidney is that he's the dark-type elite four member of Hoenn, and that his theme in Masters EX is awesome, so this is a fun introduction to his character.
He is a legend in Masters

I wonder what Wallace would think of his adoptive nephew likely being autistic, but undiagnosed.
Bonding! :veelove: Learning acceptance and community and all of the good things

Wonder what that line about Sidney was about. I'm a bit confused.
Something something innuendo

Huh, didn't know that second thing about snowflakes either.
Babey Torchic had a hyperfixation on snowflakes and Snowflake Bentley. AMA

I love the use of "lied" as a dialogue tag. Though I feel like this is going to come back to bite Wallace later, in one way or another.
Big big copyka

Huh, didn't know that Winona was the strongest Hoenn gym leader! Interesting!
Technically it’s Juan canonically, but I think Winona deserves good things like being really strong after everything I’ve put her through.

The mental image of a Latias and Latios playing tag is adorable, love that!
:veelove::veelove::veelove:

Huh, who is this Rina person? Looks like she doesn't like Winona much.

Oh, so this is Winona's mother. Oh boy.
Hahaha… cries

I wonder who Aurora is? Another relative of Winona's?
A thing I should explain better in edits, but she’s Winona’s Altaria.

I like how you came up with a custom piece of music for this universe! That's really neat!
It’s technically just the Lilycove City music in more conventional waltz orchestration but also cue music history wb

This was a nice read, and now I really want Gen and Wallace to interact again.
Yeeeeee : )

Thank you for writing this!
Thank you for reviewing it!
 
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