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Pokémon Trainer
Rated: M
Genres: Romance, Friendship, Trauma, Hurt/Comfort, Fluff, Humor, Slice of Life, and Angst.
A trainer with past successes, a passionate individual, an art lover, these are elements of Valen's identity. In his mind, his passions and his Pokémon are all that remains.

His platonic life partner, Melanie, shows him there's hope. His girlfriend, Rosa, wants nobody else. His fear of running into Hilda can't overcome their true feelings for each other.

This fic is completed, so I'm not looking to make too many edits. Minor ones are fine.
I'm mainly trying to have fun, so please try to be light on crit. Prose feedback would be the main thing I'm looking for, but issues like wording, spelling and grammar are fine to point out too. This community helped me to become a better writer overall, but I have to take my own well-being into account too.
I did post this under its old name, The Price of War, back in February. However, the fic's gone through a lot of changes since then. That's why I'm starting over here. Revisions include adding to what's already there, or adding something that compliments what's there. Scenes for other characters, adding detail, adding more dialogue exchanges, etc.
While this is set in the game universe, it takes many cues from the anime and deviates a lot. It does borrow from the Adventures manga as well, even though I'm not a frequent reader of it.
It's got multiple real world aspects, but this HC is far from an exact 1:1
Battles are mostly secondary in this fic. I don't have a move limit, but I won't go too crazy. Also, exact numerical values for aspect like Level, HP, and stats won't be brought up either, but related terms like health will come up.
No Pokemon nicknames are present due to cast size.
References are present, and these can range from historical to musical to another franchise. Actual song lyrics won't be copied and pasted.

If you’re interested in looking up artists that are referenced, use the lone name they’re referred to as for a search. For these Pokémon world counterparts, I keep the name they’re most known by/referred to as and change the rest.

EX: If I were to include a reference to Henri Matisse, the surname would be the same.

This will usually apply to other historical figures too.

Chapter 1: The Wheels of Fate

Angel City's a metropolis of dreams, a metropolis that attracts many who wish for stardom and are determined to achieve it. Unfortunately, such optimism and positivity feels too distant for young man sauntering with his Gardevoir. His hands resting within the pockets of his black Guzmani pants. His black hair's disheveled, his expression's one of indifference. The glare emitting from his dark blue eyes could make someone feel like they just got hit with Sheer Cold.

Headphones for this logy walk would be really nice right about now. Anything to shield his ears from the sound of sneakers and heels on the sidewalks. Not to mention all of these people talking, vehicles beeping at the busy intersections, among other noises within the hustle and bustle of the megacity's downtown. With that said, he does like the fact that a number of people are rocking Guzmani jackets with Team Skull's logo on the shoulders and the back. He can make a exception to crowds if the crowds are cool enough to see how awesome Team Skull attire is. Several of them are also wearing shirts with Team Skull's logo on the front. There's even a couple wearing suits with the logo on the back.

At least people and Pokémon are working together and having a good time. There's a lot of Pokémon present, such as a Herdier, a Litten, a Growlithe, a Bulbasaur, and a Meowth. The Growlithe wants to be petted by its trainer, as does the Litten. A Misdreavus pops out of a building's steel wall, scaring the couple with its best opera singer impression.

"Litten acts like Luxray did back when he was a Shinx," he remarks towards his Gardevoir. "That Misdreavus acts like Gengar." Besides his passions and his Pokémon, there's little else left of him. His name's still Valen, but he's a shell of his former self.

Warmth, love and warmth. His cold gaze becomes tender upon the sensation of Gardevoir caressing his right cheek. Her mellisonant humming rings through his mind, slowly relaxing it.

Great examples of architecture surround him, he should take a look at that. He steps to the right of the flowing foot traffic, marveling at the juggernauts that pierce the sky as symbol of economic success. One of the International Style skyscrapers is finished in bronze metalwork and dark amber-tinted glass. In between them is a Neo-Futurist skyscraper with an aluminum construction and a glass facade. Arguably the most notable feature is that it curves downwards on the front and rear sides. There's also a trio of towers that stand out due to their unusual roofs, which heavily slope down to the front of the structures. This is a clear example of Postmodernism, a style known for designs that greatly stick out.

A billboard atop a skyscraper finished in True Blue causes a slight jolt: Melanie's on the billboard. She's got her signature jean jacket on, a confident grin greeting those who happen to lay eyes on it. Seeing that she won another tournament gives him a fleeting feeling of happiness. Her Swampert and male Pyroar are also their, the duo depicted like they're gazing proudly into the distance.

A large green to his right informs drivers and pedestrians that the city's oldest district, Ville da La Ferrebouque, is only a few miles away. An offshoot of the Kalosian Renaissance, a piece within the jigsaw puzzle called the Northern Renaissance. As expected, hundreds are heading in that direction, probably curious about the history of this megacity. At least a handful of them on the road to happiness, but his road is closed for renovation. Will the sun set on his future, giving way to the blackest of shadows? Or did fate start writing a new book, one with a much happier conclusion?

Onto the crosswalk they go, and a truly unorthodox building greets them. This Postmodernist skyscraper's shaped like a Dragonite, the toes being the ground floor entrances. Those four Dragonair located within the front concrete plaza in front are lovely examples of bronze sculpture.

Gardevoir realizes that had her trainer continued looking up at the skyscrapers, he'd have likely noticed a second billboard. Rosa and Hilda stand back to back, smiling as they wink. Rosa's Serperior and Hilda's Umbreon are present as well. Is it a mere coincidence that their eyes were drawn to that building and these billboards? Or is it a sign of things to come?

Within a suite on the same street, Melanie's sitting on a brown leather sofa, her legs crossed as she grabs a mirror. She likes that this suite's designed for trainers to rent out—trekking within downtown can be tough if you're trying to make it to a tournament on time. Speaking of which, she just won another local tournament. That was so totally epic! Her Pyroar and that Houndoom went toe-to-toe like apex predators!

She runs her right hand through her elbow-length, black hair, which is slightly wavy. She lifts up her hair's few pointed ends that are above her forehead. Look at her sculpted face in that mirror! The curvy bangs that extend well below her chin have always been a rocking look on her! Her phone's dinging repeats every few seconds. Her fans are gushing about her skills and her looks, which is appropriate. Eat you heart out, Rosa and Hilda.

Melanie glances towards the wooden table that's in front of the sofa. That old photo album has tugged her heart for years. So many happy memories, but are those days over? She's gone to his house, but not even one of his Pokémon came to the door. She tried to call him at work, but he didn't answer. What happened to this guy? Not even Rosa's heard from him, so what's his deal? He must've contacted Silver, right? What's going on with Hilda?

"...Valen...is he okay?" Her posture slumps, her eyes closed. "He's not the type to suddenly break off all contact beyond social media...and even then, he's been less active there." She fights back tears. She needs to be positive, she needs to believe that he'll show up eventually.

She returns her focus to the album. It's opened to page that contains photos of their starters through the years. For Valen, it's photos of Cyndaquil, Quilava and Typhlosion. For her, it's photos of Mudkip, Marshtomp and Swampert. She flips to the next page, now glancing at photos of Valen, Rosa, Hilda, Silver, and herself.

She stands up and straightens out her blue jean jacket. "Let's see if his boss can get him to meet up with me." She glances towards a pair of large rectangular windows to her right, staring into the clear skies above. The windows offer a magnificent view of downtown Angel City's ocean of skyscrapers. She faintly smiles, knowing that Valen would love this view. Rosa and Hilda would love this view too. Silver would probably complain about something, but he's a nicer person than he seems.

After about a minute has passed, Melanie's smile morphs into a sterner expression. She turns away from the window, walking towards a wooden door that leads to a flight of stairs. Before she leaves the room, her eyes catch a glimpse of that photograph near the door. It shows the famous ceiling frescoes of the Sistine Hall, painted by Michelangelo Bellincioni.

Art's something he's been into since childhood.

As Valen and his Gardevoir enter the security monitor room, both are greeted by Valen's boss, Dimitri Liniya via a subtle wave. Dimitri's Haxorus is out of its ball, also giving them a subtle wave. His flinty stare meets the glances of his Haxorus and Valen's Gardevoir. No words need to be spoken—something's got to be done about this unhealthy behavior.

As the sounds of a bustling lobby seeps past the closed door, Valen keenly eyes all of the computer monitors. They're buzzing with activity from the ground lobby, the numerous hallways, and other areas of the building. All he's got to do is sit there and watch all these monitors, looking for troublemakers. That's all he's good for nowadays.

Dimitri adjusts his white Grimsley Lauren suit. "You're very early, as per usual." His stare fixates on Valen's waxen face. "You've never even taken a vacation."

Valen leaves his train of thought, exchanging a glance with Gardevoir. "Consider it my way of saying thanks." He stares blankly at the black ceiling, feeling Gardevoir caressing both of his shoulders.

"It is the least I could do—I once went through a rough patch myself." Dimitri's left and resides in the pocket of his white dress pants. "However, we will have to cut this talk short."

Valen brings his gaze downwards. "Something happen?" Is he about to get fired? Did he screw up again? Whatever it is, it has him trembling.

"Calm yourself, I do not mean what you think I mean." Dimitri clears his throat, approaching Valen. "You refuse to take a single day off, and you've been coming way too early." He narrows his eyes and tilts his head down. "It's like you've got nothing else going on, but I've known who you are for years." He grabs an old magazine off of the the large crescent desk, pointing towards a picture of Valen. "You are Le Moissonneur Noir, one of Calvana's poster trainers and coordinators." Despite this past, he hasn't heard a single word about battling and contests.

Valen briefly directs his attention to the room's pitch black walls, but his eyes can't ignore that past version of him. That confident smile, the tidier hair, the Guzmani suit with the BW Agency logos on the sleeves, he's lost that. Now that he thinks about it, Dimitri never talks about his own personal life. Why's he doing all of this for somebody like him?

"Melanie wants to meet up with you," Dimitri informs. "Maybe it is time for-"

Valen steps back, his elbows bent backwards. "She's been asking about me?!"

He slowly rubs his forehead, then fidgets with thin pointy ends of his hair that lie above it. He doesn't want this, he's just too weak. Will she say that the friendship's over? Will he be too scared to follow through with this?

Or...or will something that's actually good happen for once? He shuts his eyes, shaking his head. He's gotta try to keep pushing forward, no matter how impossible it seems. No matter how hopeless his future feels, he's still got family. He's still got his team...what about friends...and his girlfriend?

Upon feeling a peck from Gardevoir on the back of his head, the dwelling train halts. He slowly creaks open the door, the sounds of the bustling lobby flooding the monitor room.

"...I'll wait for you, Gardevoir." Valen saunters out of the room. "Take your time."

He hopes he understands what Dimitri's doing, because too many bad scenarios are trying to corrupt his mind further.

"I would like to see you regain those glory days," Dimitri encourages, a smile flashing. "I'm also aware of your gift for art history."

"...That's one of only things that I have left...the other's my team...my identity's gone."

"There is light at the end of the tunnel, trust me on this."

The door closes, but Gardevoir can't bring herself to move. He had such a pained look on his face, that's why she's now crying. Why him? Why the trainer who helped her overcome her shyness? Why the trainer who helped a Bagon achieve his dream?

She notices Haxorus approaching her. The dragon faintly roars that he can tell that she deeply loves her trainer. Gardevoir nods, a tender smile appearing on her face.

She waves goodbye at Dimitri and Haxorus, vanishing from the room via Teleport.

Melanie waits for Valen on a park bench in a quaint and quieter neighborhood, one that's a considerable distance away from downtown. The leaves on the ground arising from the swooping cyclists, the cool breeze directing the leaves onto the dancing grass. She's surrounded by people walking, laughing and talking. Others play with their Pokémon.

She's had many enjoyable moments like this with her her best friend of seventeen years. This was the part that their first met in. She flashes back to the Valen that she remembers. She was a five-year old-girl who moved to a far and unfamiliar region from the frigid Nordica region. Valen and his family were the first ones to make her feel at home in the neighborhood and in Calvana.

Laughter comes out of her mouth when she envisions Valen's flustered face. Haha, like she'd ever forget the numerous times that cutie friend of hers acted like dorky fanboy! Not even those acting lessons could shield the doofus! The time Rosa fell asleep while hugging him made his face so red that Hilda and her were cracking up!

He always made sure she was okay, always making sure she smiled, always supported her in her dream of becoming a writer, and so on. Here comes a tidal wave of memories from their teens, memories that she hopes he hasn't forgotten. One such memory involves Valen jumping for joy when his Shelgon evolved into Salamence. Shelgon evolved because it didn't want Valen to be sad over losing to that Druddigon.

They watched Lance Wataru and Steven Stone duke it on in an exhibition match, they've watched Rosa achieve win after with, they both promised to reach for the sky. Speaking of battling, there's a pair of teenagers battling it out with a Druddigon and an Altaria. Valen and her used to duke it out with their own Dragon-type Pokémon within this park.

A booming roar catches her attention, a flock of Pidgey and Pidgeotto having been spooked into flight. A second roar echoes, and a Salamence flies into her line of sight. She waves at Salamence, being greeted by the tri-colored dragon via a soft roar. The dragon lands on Melanie's right, a group of kids marveling at the powerful Pokémon. Those kids are saying that it's the dragon from The Dragon King, which happens to be Valen's favorite animated movie.

Speaking of Valen, he's slouching between the dragon's wings. That black jacket's has been his trademark casual outfit since he was thirteen. At least the "bad" boy side seems to be intact. Maybe the charming gentleman side is too.

Her brown eyes light up as she watches him jump off his Salamence. his Gardevoir following suit. She waves at Gardevoir, flashing back to the last time she saw Gardevoir's trainer in person. She vividly remembers how distracted he was, which ended up costing Salamence and him a battle against her Dragonite. There's more to life than this—that win brought Dragonite and her zero joy.

As if right on cue, her Dragonite lets himself out of his Poké Ball. The two dragons are delighted to see each other, giving each other a claw bump. Dragonite waves at Gardevoir, who folds her arms and nods again. Salamence lets out a soft roar, asking if Dragonite's been on a losing steak. In response, Dragonite howls that Salamence shouldn't project himself onto others. Much like he shouldn't hide the fact he likes Milotic.

Salamence's eyes widen, his face nearly reddening. He does not have a crush on Milotic, you orange buffoon! Both dragons share a laugh, bumping claws a second time. The other three bros in the squad will join them eventually, nobody can separate the coolest squad of dragons ever.

"It looks like they still have their dragon bromance," Valen murmurs as he saunters towards to the bench. Gardevoir follows behind him, faintly humming to put him at ease.

As he sits next to her, Valen watches his Salamence and Melanie's Dragonite playfully arguing over who's the cooler dragon. Those dragons are a silly bunch, having their own bromance and squad and all. This park has always been relaxing to him and his team, plus it's surrounded by well preserved examples of eighteenth century architecture. Gotta love that, right?

"I'm sure that you have questions for me."

I do have questions," Melanie replies, folding her arms. "First of all, why were you so difficult to find?"

"I've got trust issues now...it's not you." Valen glances towards the right side of Melanie's blue jean jacket. "It's me."

Silence blankets the air surrounding Valen and Melanie. Melanie's gut because exerting pain, her wide-eyed stare fixated on his pale face and messy hair. The Valen that she remembers had a more dashing face, and his hair was much neater than this.

Both Gardevoir Dragonite notice that Salamence's got a pained look on his face, like he's going to cry. Salamence somberly roars that the trainer who raised him is gone. That's what it feels like, and he hates. it. He's the strongest member of team, but he's so weak that he's powerless to help Valen.

Dragonite pats Salamence on his head, Salamence softly roaring to thank him. He softly roars again to let Gardevoir know that he's fine. She should focus on their trainer, he's coming too.

"...Sorry, that wasn't appropriate to blurt out." Valen breaks the ice between Melanie and him. "I'm scared of the risks." Gardevoir's caressing the top of his head, Salamence's nuzzling his right cheek. He pats their hands, which delights them.

Melanie somberly smiles at her Dragonite, the Pokémon rubbing her head. "Hey, can you tell me what happened?" She places her hand on Valen's upper arm. "What caused your trust issues?"

He's not making any attempt at eye contact. "Well...something broke my already bad state...rather not talk about it," he answers. "Trying to push forward feels like a lost cause, but I'm still trying."

He was in Orre for an art history conference, yet he got caught up in a mess that affected him more than he let on. Maybe it's actually himself that he distrust?

"I'll tell you what the catalyst was." He exchanges a somber gaze with both Gardevoir and Salamence, both knowing what he's about to say. "I got hurt in Orre." He shuts his eyes, clenching his teeth. "I didn't want anyone to worry about me, so I lied and said that I was really busy."

She won't push, but what else is he hiding from her? He also seems to be dismissing any semblance of his past successes, and she doesn't understand why. For starters, this guy tamed a Salamence. A Salamence.

"Sorry...that was a bad statement to blurt out." Valen takes a hard deep breath, resting his right hand on Melanie's shoulder. "I made a full recovery... but being hurt for the first time...and then seeing a-"

"Stop, don't make yourself uncomfortable." She rests her hands on Valen's left arm, rubbing it to calm him down. "And just to be clear. I'm not mad at you." Her eyes gleaming with adoration. "My love for you will always be unconditional, bestie."

"Re-Really?" Valen asks, trying to hide how moved he is. "Y-You mean it?" His legs become restless again. "But I-"

"I won't throw away seventeen years of friendship over something that's not your fault."

It may sound crazy to some, but Valen can feel Melanie's unconditional love for him through her gentle gaze. He pats Gardevoir's head, gesturing for her to join the two dragons.

Gardevoir's elegant gown twirls as she turns her body around. Her gentle smile turns into a devious grin, which causes Salamence's eyes to slightly widen. He knows what might be coming, and it's definitely not true.

Salamence is met by a mischievous grin from Dragonite. Gardevoir vanishes, then re-appears behind her teammate a couple of seconds later. She cackles while Salamence clenches his teeth, the tri-colored dragon moving his head from side to side to find a place to hide.

Gardevoir and Dragonite inch closer, waiting for him admit that he's a softie. Why do they do this to him? Why can't they do this to Luxray for once? Luxray has a crush-he just exposed himself to himself! That's not good!

Valen exchanges a fist bump with Melanie over the trio of Pokémon having a good time. Melanie's always rocking a Valerie Versace jacket, this one matching her blue jeans and azure shirt underneath. "Forgot to tell you that you still look great in your choice of clothing."

"Are you trying to see if you're still a ladies man?" Melanie playfully winks, pointing at him. "You already won my heart, platonically speaking."

Hmph, she better not test her luck with him. She will be wholesomely spoiled and she will like it! The charmer who's fluent in Kalosian will always win in the end! His obvious coolness aside, he's glad that she still loves that jacket he got her as a birthday present years ago.

Hopefully, Rosa still likes those art portfolios. Hopefully, Hilda still loves Unovan Noire and those action figures. Those are among the presents he's gotten those two over the years.

"You're still sweet." Melanie inches closer to him. "Don't forget that I love you." She kisses Valen on his forehead, wrapping her arms around his upper chest. "I want to stay by your side," She softly whispers into Valen's left ear. "Besties forever."

Relaxing, just like when Gardevoir caresses him, when Rosa hugs him, when Hilda hugs him. Warmth, comfort, it feels great. He wraps his left arm around Melanie's waist, pulling her closer. He runs his right hand through her black hair, resting his chin on the top of her head.

He's actually starting to remember the good times he once had. Melanie came with him to Unova and Alola on more than one occasion. She was right there in the front row when he first entered the Calvanian Conference, and vice versa. He recalls how excited she was for the both of them when their Quilava and Marshtomp evolved at the same time.

"You better still be into the arts, history, and design, or we'll need to have a talk." His hugs and cuddles are still as relaxing as ever, plus he's still a cuddly Growlithe puppy.

Valen would like to know who else does she know with the ability to recite painting names like a grocery lists? Who else does she know that can correctly guess art movements and architectural styles with ease? Which mother and son duo taught her everything she knows about interior design? Heh, probably no one, cuz y'all are stupid. He's playing around, obviously, and it's nice to feel like this again.

"Age six, Empress Bossy Butt," he quips. "Don't forget that my first books were The Lives of Artists, and Art History's Fundamentals."

Her bestie's face has become less pale! Yes, it worked! His passions are still there! That means he's still in there! She can bring him out through this!

He points towards himself. "Heh, can't touch this."

"I bet you can't write a novel." Melanie flicks him twice on the forehead. "Can't touch this, doofus." She notes that the Pokémon are watching this exchange like it's some sort of theatre performance.

"I forgot, so overruled," Valen counters, earning himself another flick. "I still have a nonfiction book on hiatus." He playfully taps his chin. "I seem to recall that was your suggestion."

"How many books do you have now?"

"I have a fifth bookshelf now."

"I'm on my sixth." Melanie's voice brims with pride. "Get on my level, you smooth scrub."

"Oh, congrats on the tournament win."

"Lemme guess, the billboard?" A nod confirms it. "I'm just that awesome." He already knows that it's the first time she's been featured on a billboard.

Valen and her fist bump. "I'm glad that at least one of us is still kicking butt." Valen's smile becomes fainter as he stands up. "I think I'll head out now." He begins sauntering towards his Salamence and Gardevoir. "It was nice to see you again," he comments. "I hope we can hang out again."

Melanie wishes he'd stay, but she doesn't want to put pressure on him. Nevertheless, there is something important that he needs to know.

"Rosa senses something is wrong." Melanie places her hands on her lap. "She's happy that you're still messaging her, but she really wants to hear your voice again," she pleads. "She'll never throw away all those years just like that." He got lucky—any partner must accept that the other will always be a big part of their life. Her exes couldn't accept that.

Valen feels his muscles tensing up, his head starting to hurt him. Why can't he push himself forward to call his girlfriend? His fears of her secretly being at him, her going back to Unova and leaving him behind, they're irrational…yet he seems to forget that when those fears plague his mind.


"...Melanie…is she moving back here?" Valen places his right hand over her heart. "Will I...will see visit me?" He grits his teeth, a few tears dripping from his eyes.

"Yes, of course." Her voice is firm but tender. "Hilda's going to move-"

Her eyes widen over Valen's sudden change in demeanor, a chill trekking up her spine. He's trembling, his breathing is rapidly increasing. Is he having a headache?

"...I'm scared...more scared...of running into Hilda." He takes several deep breaths to calm himself down. "I dunno what happened." His head continues to thump. "I still miss her." Why does this only happen with the thought of running into her?

"You've been able to message her too."

"...Yeah...but it's getting less."

"...What did you do to deserve this?" Melanie whimpers, her chin and gaze inwards. "It's not right, you've always been a kind-hearted person."

"...I'll see you around." Valen glances back towards Melanie and Dragonite. "Don't end up like me—I'm not recognizable when I look at myself in the mirror."

Just before Salamence can take on, Melanie looks into the somber eyes of her longtime friend. "Hilda still loves you too," she affirms. "You'll realize that in due time." She waves good bye with her Dragonite, a bittersweet feeling shared between the two. At least he had the faintest of smiles after hearing those words.

She reaches towards Dragonite with her right hand, rubbing his left arm. Dragonite lets out an affectionate cry in response. Then, she hears her phone ding. She takes her phone out to check her text messages, seeing that it's Rosa. She's apologizing for not texting recently, but Melanie understands. Both Rosa and Hilda are popular trainers with fanbases. She's got a lot of faith in him, and she should too.

Melanie notices that Hilda's sent a message in a group chat, followed by Silver. Hilda's been busy, while she has no idea what Silver's ranting about. Why does he refer to those three as The Three Stooges of Johto? Why is he so adamant about this Kris person being just a friend?

She chuckles upon seeing Rosa's declaration that she'll paint a portrait of shogun Silver. Of course, Silver's response is to text an angry face emoji, which is met by Rosa a grin emoji. The cycle repeats over and over again, with Melanie remembering that Valen loves silliness like this. He's still in there somewhere, but can he take back control of his life?

The answer...is yes.

What did you think of the first chapter?

Angel City's the Pokémon Los Angeles. The original region in this fic's based on California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Idaho. However, there's other influences as well. Orre's based off of Phoenix, so Arizona isn't included in the OC region.

Architecture's among the arts. Dunno how widely know that is, so I brought it up. International Style first showed up prior to WWII, Postmodernism was after WWII, and Neo-Futurist's the most recent.

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Lives, or The Lives of The Artists, is considering the forefather of modern art history literature. Heinrich Wölfflin's Principles of Art History is a monumental work of art literature.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 2: Am I Still Strong?

A splashing fountain, people talking, kids playing, and bird Pokémon chirping are the sounds that surround those within a large lush park. The aromas of flowers and food fill the air of this brisk morning, with some of the park's occupants taking a whiff of it. Leaves stir up and flop around on the ground as several bicycles pass through the pathway they rest on, while trainers partake in conversions or friendly battles.

Valen's in this park too, leaning back while sitting on a large bench. He's currently engaging somebody over the phone, his Gardevoir looking on with her arms folded. "How's it going in Galar, dad?" He watches a group of Skwovet and Greedent collecting and munching on acorns. It reminds him of his several vacations within the tranquil Galarian countryside.

"Surprisingly well, given the circumstances," Alexander Barsotti answers. "Chairman Rose left a huge mess."

"Yeah...Cipher did too." Valen frowns, feeling a knot in his stomach. "If only I could've done something beforehand-"

"You're too hard on yourself," Mr. Barsotti points out, his tone stern but gentle. "You didn't know Cipher would try again a third time."

"...I suppose you're right." Valen slightly rocks back and forth, halting when Gardevoir wraps her arms around his neck.

"I'm proud of you for trying to do the right thing, despite being in Orre for unrelated matters."

"Thank you, dad...thanks for everything." Valen gratefully smiles. "No matter how busy you got, you always made sure that I knew you cared." The numerous times he rode in dad's original Shelbi Arbok roadster, the roar of the 289 V8 engine, those are among his fondest memories.

"It was my duty to be a good father," his dad states. "That's why I retired from DRS and found a job closer to home."

The towering skyscrapers that loom large are a symbol of the region's triumph. Valen's long been aware that a decline in the tourism and entertainment industries would cause an economic crisis. That's why DRS came to be in the first place.

"See ya kiddo, make sure you visit your mother." Mr. Barsotti's words snap Valen out of his thought process. "Assuming she's not busy with her Pokémon and art history research, of course."

"I'll visit mom tomorrow," Valen promises, feeling Gardevoir letting go of him. "See ya, dad."

After the call has ended, Valen lies down on a bench, noting that the area seems to have gotten quieter. As he puts his phone away, he can hear the splashing fountain more so than any chatter. Then, both him and his Gardevoir hear someone blasting Team Skull's rap music via a boom box.

Upon hearing Guzma's voice alongside the beat, Valen faintly smiles. "Man wanted to make legit money, and now he's got a ton of it." He overhears people discussing how Guzmatic was a hot album. He recalls that Guzma explaining that a hard-hitting bass and a smooth jazz-like rhythm are among the elements of boom bap. Plumeria and Gladion chimed in, informing that Alolan boom bap often includes mixes of traditional Alolan hymns.

He did learn how to sing, but he's not a big music listener anymore, much like how he isn't an astronomy person. However, he respects all forms of music. It's among the arts, after all. He'd still listen to them about music if they hung out again, and he'd still listen to Calem about astronomy.

Valen's nap doesn't last longer than eight minutes, as evident by the shadow of his unamused childhood friend hovering over him. Melanie's frustrated, and seeing Valen lying down on a bench doesn't help. She he emits a bossy aura, placing her hands on her hips. He groans, wishing that he could hide inside of those puffy clouds. Why's Melanie's glaring at him like he forgot to washes the dishes and clean his room?

"Get up." Melanie's frowning mouth bears her teeth. "Don't be such a pain."

Gardevoir folds her arms, sternly observing the situation. Her hands on her hips and her tone make her seem like Valen's big sister, despite them being the same age But this isn't anger or bossiness. She senses that Melanie's frustrated because she deeply misses hanging out with her trainer .

"Why do you have to shout when you're right next to me?"

"You have no time for a nap," she retorts. "I want you to come with me to one of the city's public battle arenas."

"There's more to life than that." Valen closes his eyes, lying back on the bench.

"Don't use my words against me."

"In any case-" Valen takes a quick peek at Gardevoir, who nods. He sits up and straights out his posture, a faint glimmer of gratitude in his eyes. "Since you actually went looking for me, I'll repay the favor and tag along."

The dinging of Melanie's phone causes her to hold in her excited shouting. The consolidation prize is a flick to Valen's forehead, while she rummages through her dark blue Valerie Versace handbag. Upon pulling her phone out, said excitement finally shows itself. "Rosa wants me to tell you that she said hi!"

Valen's eyes widen, his head spontaneously turning towards Melanie. He feels his muscles tensing up, his legs are restless, but a faint smile emerges. "Tell her I said hi too." He's still hesitant to call, but he'll always love her.

"Yes, that's the spirit!" She raises a fist above her head. After replying to Rosa's text, she plops her lips onto Valen's forehead. "If it helps, how about I tell you something?" She clasps her hands hands behind her back. "Even nowadays, there are times when I can get nervous about what I write," Melanie confesses, her eyes emitting a gentle gaze. "Other times, I worry about capturing the setting well, whether the characters are memorable, whether scenes came out well, and so on." She lets loose a timorous laugh. "Don't even get me started on my setting issues."

"...What do you do in response?" Those of her eyes are beaming with her unconditional love. He should've at least tried to call her, but at least he can now fix it.

"I refuse to back down, and you shouldn't either." Melanie caresses Valen's right shoulder. "Even though setting's a challenge because I want to represent the entire world, I still push through."

"I wish things turned out differently," Valen admits, his smile somber and regreful. "I could be promoting your work as a token of appreciation."

"You're sweet." Melanie kisses his forehead, exchanging a smile with his Gardevoir. "No matter what you're showing on the surface, you're still sweet."

"If I can muster up the courage, I'll try to call Rosa before the week ends."

"Good luck, big guy," she encourages. "I'm happy that I can finally hang out with you again."

"Do I have a choice?" He smirks when he hears Gardevoir cackling.

"You're more annoying that a Zubat for cave explorers," Melanie teases, playfully winking.

"You're more annoying than the prices of the Ho-oh painting print I want." Valen earns himself another forehead flick.

"Try figuring out the setting of a novel." She will admit that he probably can, given his extensive historical knowledge.

"Try recalling all seven paintings in my master bedroom." He knows she probably can, since she always studies to ensure she gets it right the second time.

Valen and Melanie faintly laugh, exchanging a high five. They really are glued together, aren't they?

Valen approaches his Gardevoir, rubbing her head. No words needed, a peck to his forehead says it all. He recalls her back into the ball, then places the ball inside his leather jacket. Valen strolls off with Melanie, the former feeling the bricks being lifted off of his shoulders.

Melanie's brought Valen to a familiar sight, opting to stand behind him as he eyes this circular arena. A lot of trainers and spectators crowd around the exterior, steady foot traffic flowing in and out. Chatter about battles, the snapping of cameras, Pokémon letting out delighted cries and roars, and various other noises surround them. The sunlight illuminates the cream color of this large structure, the imposing facade making it look like a ancient king's palace.

Valen assess the intricate lunettes containing sculptures of various Pokémon that decorate the structure. Next up is the roof of the enclosed arena, plus the massive columns that surround the entire arena's exterior. The presence of the Ionic order is evident, the biggest clue for him being the volutes that rest between the top of each column and the arena's roof. The center prominently displays bronze statues of King Tiberius Regulus, an Ancient Calvanian king. His chariot's pulled by four Galarian Rapidash, all of whom look charged up for a fight.

"Time for an art quiz," Melanie teases, walking in front of him. "Let's see if you've still got it."

"Hmph." He playfully scoffs, folding his arms. "Come on, you know that I'm the art man of our age group." He at the surrounding buildings. the arena slightly taller than all of them. He used to gush over old buildings being intact and still being used.

"I remember you dropping history on us in trivia games, so I memorized it all." She turns to face him, clasping her hands behind her back. "When was Neoclassical prominent?"

"Middle of the eighteenth century up to around the middle of the nineteenth century."

"Alright smarty-pants, tell me how old battling competitions are."

"Urukia held competitions within the city of Mesoponia, the oldest known depictions of a competition being Urukian art that dates back to around 3500 BCE. Later cultures like the Estruks, Ancient Kasmenestias, Ancient Osiris, Ancient Siscia, and the Barsatines held competitions too."

"Who's considered the father of Pokémon painting in the Western world?" Melanie asks. "Who's considered the father of modern Western painting, as well as the Renaissance?"

"Giotto di Buonacorsus, and while twentieth century artists changed the game, Giotto's influence can still be felt today."

"What else?" Melanie inches closer, her face inches away from him. "Come on."

"He would sketch the battles he saw with his own eyes, then use those sketches for his paintings."

"I told you that I memorized everything you asked us, didn't I?" Melanie flicks him on the forehead. "Which painter did Rosa and you geek out over first?" She sticks her right hand into the right pocket of her jean jacket, crossing two fingers. "I recall that he was also from the Ragulia region."

Valen pauses for a minute, then he smiles. "Titian Vercelli, the most famous painter to originate from Altomare City," he responds. "Considered the founder of Pokémon painting in the Western world, as well as Western painting overall."

Melanie's glad that he understood what she was trying to do. "One more question, but with a twist." Melanie kisses Valen on the forehead. "Do I love you, bestie?"

"Yes." Valen walks closer. "I love you too."

"All correct answers." She walks towards him, wrapping her left arm around his neck. "You and I are inseparable friends, so there's no escape." She rubs his right shoulder. "I don't want a boyfriend, because you're my number one."

He doesn't understand why she's got so much faith in him, but he's glad to have to her around again. She's now tugging on his left jacket sleeve, so he better mentally shut up and pick up the pace.

Painters like Giotto and Titian were progenitors of Western painting. The Taizhou region's arguably the progenitor of landscape painting as a genre. As he enters through the arena's grand entrance with her, he can't help but theorize that Melanie's the progenitor of a brighter future for him. One day, Rosa and Hilda. One day, he'll hold both of you in his arms again.

The interior of this arena's bigger than Valen thought, or maybe he had forgotten about it. The arena seems to have expanded a bit, perhaps due to the recent influx of residents into this area? Each of the battlefields has own open entrance in the form of lunettes with two columns on both ends. This time, buon fresco paintings greet those who lay eyes upon the lunettes.

Melanie and him enter the section with two medium-sized battlefields, bleachers enclosing both in a circular formation. The space between the ground and the ceiling's more than enough for a Pokémon to fly high. However, trainers usually agree that it's best to do things differently in an indoor arena. Flight's fine, but a Pokémon shouldn't fly too high for obvious reasons.

"You still have great taste in interior design." Melanie pats his upper back. "Crowds aren't so bad, right?" Melanie notes that many trainers have their Pokémon out as well. Then, she eyes a male trainer's Incineroar and Staraptor, and a female's trainer Ariados and Skarmory.

Melanie's not wrong—a number of the people present are rocking Team Skull jackets, shirts, and/or pants. He likes seeing this, because when Guzma started Team Skull, he'd just run away from home. Now, it's become fashionable to have their logo on your clothing.

He notices that Melanie's glaring at him, and she's got her arms folded. Maybe he should've have said something. Oh well, at least he can show her some appreciation. He kisses her on the top of her head, causing her eyes to widen. "Thanks for everything," he embraces Melanie, placing his left hand on her back. He runs his right hand through her elbow-length, black hair. "You helped me to fit in as time went on."

Melanie wraps her arms around Valen's neck, kissing him on the forehead. "Besties forever."

Valen lets go of Melanie and vice versa, both exchanging a fist bump. Then, Valen shifts his attention to the wear and tear on the battle arena. The city's been maintain it well, as per usual. Past cracks and dings have since been filled up, but more and more appear like Tentacool in the ocean. It's a testament to its endurance.

"Hey, you're Melanie Olsen!" A male trainer blurts out, catching Melanie's attention. "We'd love to face you in battle!"

Melanie looks behind her and sees that six Pokémon trainers want to face her in battle.

"Sorry if he was abrupt, but we won't force you," a second male trainer states.

"Hey, who's the guy next to her?" A female trainer among the the group of ten asks, having spotted Valen behind Melanie. "I don't recognize him."

"Melanie, how about we fight three each?" Valen walks next to Melanie's right side, undeterred by the murmurs about him.

Melanie doesn't know what to make of this. She thought he wasn't fit for battling, so what's going on? Is he trying to make her happy at the cost of his well-being?

"Wake up."

"Sorry...what's what with the sudden interest?"

"Eh, might as well try." Valen shrugs, sporting a half-hearted smile. "Besides, I'm kinda bored."

Melanie's Scizor is well into a battle with a male trainer's Torkoal within the left battlefield. Both Pokémon keenly eye each other, waiting for the other to make their move. Surrounding them is a crowd of people and Pokémon eager to see if Scizor can beat back its type disadvantage.

"Sorry bud, but you can't except to defeat me with type advantage alone." Melanie folds her arms, sporting a smirk.

"We'll see about that!" The male trainer shouts. "Flamethrower!"

Melanie closes her eyes. "Agility and Brick Break." She runs her right hand through her black hair.

Torkoal shoots out a reddish orange stream of fire, but Scizor swerves so fast that it looks likes he's disappearing and reappearing. Then, Scizor appears right in front of Torkoal, his right claw glowing white. Scizor slams the bottom side of his claw onto the top of Torkoal's head. Torkoal yelps, crashing into the ground.

"Excellent job." Melanie and Scizor exchange a smile. "That's two."

Both Melanie and Scizor head over to the other battlefield. A female trainer's Hitmonchan is dashing towards Valen's Golisopod, the former's right fist enveloped by yellow sparks.

"Liquidation." Valen's voice is shaky, his legs slightly restless.

A massive water sword begins to form in Golisopod's hand, emerging in a crescent-like shape. Golisopod shows off how cool he is by spinning it from the handle. Playtime's over for this opponent. Golisopod positions his water sword sideways, lunging head first at Hitmonchan. Hitmonchan's eyes widen as Golisopod swings the water sword through the Fighting-type's upper body. Golisopod lands in front of Hitmonchan in a kneeling position, cackling as Hitmonchan falls face first onto the ground.

That's two for him as well, and the third trainer's already stepping to the plate. The sight of a Skarmory causes Valen to recall Golisopod, placing his ball back inside his leather jacket. He takes out another Poké Ball, pressing the button to let his Pokémon out. The Pokémon in question is his Typhlosion, who bears her fangs. She lets out a belligerent roar, glaring at her opponent.

Valen's well into his battle with the same trainer who challenged Melanie, the former's Golisopod crossing his arms as Scrafty leaps into the air and attempts to land a blow via a High Jump Kick. Golisopod simply knocks Scrafty away with the armor on his right hand, the Dark and Fighting-type colliding with the wall. Scrafty shuts his eyes and yelps, his right leg shaking from the failed attack.

Melanie catches herself trying to pick off the lipstick red nail polish, much to her relief. That sense of unease still lingers, making her remain abnormally silent. Her longtime friend's still a strong trainer, but something feels off.

That Scrafty's taken serious blows but it's still interested in keeping the fight going. Wait, interest! Oh no, oh no, oh no! Don't her that he's lost interest in battling! She should've known this would happen! Why didn't she think of this?!

"Mega Kick!"

The male trainer's command catches Melanie's attention. She observes Scrafty attempting to land a blow with its right foot, a white glow enveloping it.

"Hmph, this battle's over." Valen closes his eyes. "X-Scissor."

Golisopod lets out a robotic, maniacal cackle as he crosses his armored arms to form a x shape. Golisopod's arms glow light blue, the arthropod lunging towards his opponent like a space shuttle re-entering the atmosphere. Before Scrafty gets a chance to strike back, Golisopod slams into it with his crossed arms. Shiftry lurches, then falls onto the ground on his face.

Golisopod turns around to look at his trainer, sporting a somber expression. He doesn't think this that Valen's the real one, none of them do. However, they still love him. They'll never leave his side. They know that he's a good person inside. As if on right on cue, Valen offers Golisopod a fist bump, the cackling arthropod accepting it. Valen recalls his Golisopod, placing the ball back inside his jacket.

"That was marvelous battling." An accented voice calls out to them. "It was a pleasure to watch."

Both Melanie and Valen look around, perplexed over who just called out to them. She notices a male trainer around their age slowly approaching them. That buttoned up trench coat-like suit is a stylish choice, plus those matching pants are sweet. Both are finished in a darker shade of brown, and look to be Victoria-era. They could also be modern reproductions.

"Hey, aren't you that one guy who's the heir of the Bennington noble family?" Melanie asks, her palms on her hips. "Arthur, right?"

"Yes, I am Arthur Bennington," Arthur introduces himself as he bows. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"The Bennington family's quite prominent in both Calvana and Galar, so I'm surprised to see you around these parts," Melanie notes. "After all, you're not an ordinary guy of our age group."

"Well, it can be rather hectic," Arthur sheepishly admits, placing his left hand on the front of his short, ashy blonde hair.

Valen notes Arthur's attire. His clothes and shoes probably costs more than half of Dimitri's entire corporation. He seems like a polite person, but he'd prefer if she does most of the the talking.

"Pardon me, but is she your girlfriend?" Arthur asks Valen, folding his arms.

"Nah, but she acts like my nagging wife," Valen fakes a grumbling tone. "Even though we're platonic-"

"Valen, I'm right here next to you!" Melanie scowls, her firm voice carrying a faint growl. "At least try to be subtle!"

Trying to understand him isn't easy-that big doofus. This giant troll can't hide that faint mischievous smirk from her. At least the trolling side's still present.

Melanie observes Valen and Arthur walking towards opposite ends of the battlefield she was using. There's Valen taking out a Poké Ball from inside his black leather jacket, while Arthur retrieves one from under his trench coat. Her sharp hearing picks up on the murmurs of the gathering crowd. It's disheartening that they're talking about Valen like he's not known, but his disheveled appearance is far from the classy look he liked to don the pro circuit.

A thud on the ground causes Melanie to focus on what's in front of her. Valen's called out his Salamence, the tri-colored dragon eyes closed like he's in meditation. He sharply opens them, and out comes a mighty roar. His thunderous calling card sends shockwaves through the ground and air. that the reasons why he ceased battling haven't gone away. He will still try his best to come out on top.

It seems that Arthur has made the correct selection. However, he cannot afford to let his guard down against an individual who have managed to tame a ferocious Pokémon like Salamence, Hydreigon, and Garchomp. He presses the button on his Poké Ball to let his Pokémon out, which is Grimmsnarl. The imp-like Fairy/Dark type letting out a slightly eerie howl that causes the dark purple hair on his body to sway like there's a breeze.

"You really think that having a type advantage means you're guaranteed a victory?" Valen questions, both Arthur and him and her placing the Poké Balls back in their respective spots.

The bloke's not wrong—Pokémon with a considerable amount of battle prowess grow more resilient to their weaknesses.

"Let's begin, Arthur."

Arthur points his left index finger towards Valen and Salamence. "Very well, we shall start with Dazzling Gleam!"

"Counter with Flamethrower."

A rainbow aura of light envelops Grimmsnarl, who uses the aura to launch a giant ray beam towards Salamence. Salamence roars, launching a blue stream of swirling flames. Both attacks collide, causing a explosion as they cancel each other out. Smoke fills the battlefield, but Arthur's not waiting for it to clear.

"Sucker Punch!"

Grimmsnarl forms a fist with his right, and he moves so fast that he appears to be a blur. As the smoke clears out, Grimmsnarl appears right under Salamence. He jumps, striking the dragon's lower jaw with his fist. Salamence's sent into a whirlwind-like spin, but he's able to remain in-flight. He roars for Grimmsnarl to try harder, the former landing on his feet.

"Ice Punch!"

Grimmsnarl forms a fist with his left hand, and his fist glows icy blue. He jumps into the air at rapid pace, striking Salamence in the face. The tri-colored dragon careens to the ground sideways, a loud bang echoing upon contact. Salamence manages to stand back up, only for Grimmsnarl to wallop him on the top of the head several times. The dragon digs his white claws deep into the battlefield, his eyes shut as he grits his teeth.

Grimmsnarl falls back, while Salamence manages to re-opens his eyes. He glares menacingly at Grimmsnarl, letting out a ground shaking roar. Salamence feels that he may be a bit rusty. More importantly, he hopes that Valen sees that they can win. The trainer who raised him since he was an ambitious young Bagon never backed down from a fight.

Arthur's impressed with what he's seeing, but there seems to be more to this bloke that meets his eye. Valen and Salamence is a combination that he feels he's seen before, but where? In any case, he'll worry about that later.

"Darkest Lariat!"

Grimmsnarl emanates purplish black energy all over its body. Then, Grimmsnarl holds outs it arms and beginning spinning rapidly like a tornado towards Salamence.

"Hold it back," Valen commands. "Then use Flamethrower."

Salamence stands up on his hind claws and uses his front claws in an attempt to hold of Grimmsnarl's Darkest Lariat attack. Salamence roars as he severely struggles to hold off Darkest Lariat, sweating and moving backwards several feet. Grimmsnarl spins even faster, faintly gasping that he can't seem to land a blow. He keeps spinning like he's a wheel, but the dragon's not giving in.

Just as it looks like the attack is going to hit, Salamence applies as much pressure as he can, shutting his eyes. He lets out a thundering roar, shoving Grimmsnarl backwards just enough for the latter to stop spinning. Salamence unleashes another blue stream of fire, which scorches Grimmsnarl's face. The imp-like bipedal tumbles backwards, still in shock over what just occurred.

"Use Hydro Pump."

Salamence fires off a large and powerful jet stream of water from his mouth. Grimmsnarl gets hits in his face, sending him stumbling backwards as a result.

"Use Air Slash."

Salamence flaps his wings, firing off a barrage of royal blue, disc-shaped blades. All of the energy blades crash into Grimmsnarl, one after another. Grimmsnarl falls onto his kneels. grunting that Salamence's a worthy opponent. Salamence slightly roar to return the praise. Grimmsnarl hops back onto his feet. He bangs his chest with his fists, causing Salamence to chuckle.

"You're strong, you're definitely strong." Valen looks up, his pulse increasing at a rapid pace. "Good." He exchanges a smirk with his Salamence. "Let's see if you can defeat me."

Upon seeing Valen like this, Melanie's eyes widen as she steps back. "Valen, you-"

A mental flashback of her and Valen when they were younger replays. There they are, having a Pokémon battle between Salamence and Dragonite when they were a Shelgon and a Dragonair. Valen had the exact same grin when battling all those years ago, plus countless other times. Times that are precious memories.

While the Pokémon bob and weave to avoid attacks, she envisions Valen back when he was a teenage. Guzma rubbed off on him in more ways than one—Valen thought Guzma was one hell of a badass dude.

Melanie closes her gleaming eyes. "Go! Go! Go!" She cheers, clasping her hands in front of her. "Go Valen, it's your birthday! We're gonna party like it's your birthday!"

"Melanie, don't copy the ball of fluff," Valen teases, faintly grinning.

Melanie's face reddens, grumbling about that side of hers not staying hidden. Then, it hits her what he just implied. Is he actually going to do it?

"Use Dragon Claw."

Melanie jerks her head backwards, her thoughts racing on a track. Did he forget that Grimmsnarl's part Fairy-type? Is he so out of it that he called the wrong attack? Or has enough time passed to where she actually forgot about a strategy he's got?

Salamence hesitates for a brief moment. Both of of his claws glows royal blue and he charges at Grimmsnarl, whom is given no command to counterattack, block, or evade. Salamence strikes Grimmsnarl with both claws, but it doesn't impact the Pokémon in any way.

Arthur presumes that Valen made an error in judgment, believing that Valen's anything but an amateur. No amateur could tame a Salamence.

"Use Iron Tail."

Salamence also grins as his tail glows silver, realizing what his trainer's intent was. He swings his tail to attack Grimmsnarl. Before Grimmsnarl can even strike with Ice Punch, Salamence brutally strikes Grimmsnarl in the upper chest. Grimmsnarl falls to his knees, bellowing from the major damage he took. He grunts, wobbling as he attempts to stand up.

Arthur's eyes widen, his mouth dropping open. "Dragon Claw was just a mechanism to launch another attack?!"

"That's right, and here comes another."

"Not quite!" Arthur proclaims. "Dark Pulse!"

Grimmsnarl stands up, letting out a booming cry. Once again, purple and black energy begin to appear within Grimmsnarl's mouth. Then, Grimmsnarl fires off another stream of purple and black circles. Before Salamence can strike again, the streams of circles slam into his face, cause him to stumble.

"Do not let up, use Ice Punch!"

Once again, Grimmsnarl forms a fist with his left hand, and his fist glows icy blue. As Salamence bends over, panting from the overall damage, Grimmsnarl lunges at him, striking him on the left side of his face. Salamence stumbles, his eyes moistening up. No, this can't happen. He can't lose, he can't lose this battle. Win win win, he's got to win this for the trainer who raised him. He wants to see a smile more often, regardless of how faint it is.

Salamence's eyes widening upon seeing Valen's facial expression. The tri-colored dragon's breathing becomes heavy, recalling that he's lost several battles because he couldn't bear to see his trainer in such a state. Will it happen again?

"Dazzling Gleam."

Grimmsnarl's panting, realizing that this opponent's stronger than anticipated. This dragon can take some serious blows. Nevertheless, he's got a battle to win. A rainbow aura of light envelops the imp-like . He uses the aura to fire off a giant ray beam towards Salamence. The tri-colored rapidly turns to face his opponent, realizing that he got distracted. The ray beam strikes the dragon in the face, causing him to cry out.

"Dark Pulse."

Purple and black energy begin to appear within Grimmsnarl's mouth, the imp-like launching a stream of said circles seconds later. As Salamence attempts to stand upright, Dark Pulse slams into his face, causing him to stagger.

Valen rapidly re-open his eyes, silently cursing at himself for getting distracted. He grits his teeth, watching Salamence slam into the ground. That echoing thud is his fault. This is all his fault. This is why he stopped battling in the first place. He's a failure, there's no point in telling the truth about his past successes.

Salamence's got his left eye closed, refusing to go down like this. As he struggles to stand upright, he can feel his will to fight slipping away. No no no, he can't lose that. He's got to win this for Valen. He wants Valen to be happy more often. How can that happen if he loses this battle?

"Mate, you look ill." Arthur cocks a brow, tapping his chin. "Are you okay?"

Valen feels a knot in his stomach. His headache returns, the thumping causing him to shut his eyes. Maybe he should forfeit, but that wouldn't feel right That course of action would make Salamence sad, and Salamence's already been affected enough as is.

A roar from Salamence causes Valen to snap out of his dwelling. The tri-colored dragon feels a sudden explosion of adrenaline, finally being able to stand upright. A gust of wind blows as flaps his wings. He take flight, roaring at Grimmsnarl. Grimmsnarl remains quiet, assessing the situation. Salamence's shedding a few tears, but is trying to hide it by shutting his eyes.

"Valen!" Melanie cups her hands over her lips. "You're more than capable of winning this battle!" She cries out, her eyes watering up. "I don't want to lose more of you!" She pleads, her voice increasing in pitch. "It breaks my heart to see you like this!"

Valen's gaze becomes vacant. "I-" He glances at Melanie, then glances back at Salamence.

A cheery voice spontaneously echoes within his mind. "Tee-hee, you inspired me to train my own dragon!"

His eyes widen, recalling that these were Rosa's exact words when she showed him her newly caught Zweilous. Over his heart his right hand goes. That adorable grin, those sparkling blue eyes, it elated him when she said that he's one of her heroes. That girl's a walking ray of sunshine. He's slowly beginning to realize that he needs that ray of sunshine to dispel the blackest of nights within his mind.

Valen stares at Salamence, looking into the dragon's watery eyes. "Arthur, I can't let him down." She glances towards Melanie. "I can't let her down either." He can't back down, he's got to face his fears one step at a time.

"Your loyalty is commendable, mate" Arthur faintly smiles, bowing out of respect. "Ice Punch."

Once more, Grimmsnarl's left fist glows icy blue. He charges at Salamence, who lowers himself in an offensive position.

Melanie's eyes slightly widen. "Valen, come on!" She screams, feeling more energized. "Another Ice Punch could cost you the battle!" She watches as Grimmsnarl about to strike Salamence. Then, she notices that Salamence's grinning.

"Iron Tail."


Salamence smirks, his tail glowing silver. He spins around to avoid the Ice Punch, but Grimmsnarl jumps back to avoid it. Grimmsnarl eyes glow gray, a moon-like orb of the same appear appearing in his right pam. His posture bends backwards to his right, then he hurls the sphere at Salamence.

Valen snaps his fingers. "Return to sender with Iron Tail."

Salamence spins in a full circle, his tail glowing silver as he slams it into the sphere. Grimmsnarl's struck in the upper chest, sending him stumbling a few steps.

"Time for more blows."

Salamence swings his glowing tail into Grimmsnarl's midsection. Grimmsnarl bellows, crashing into the ground on his right side. Once more, Salamence's tail glows silver. Before Grimmsnarl can stand upright, Salamence slams his tail into Grimmsnarl's chest. Grimmsnarl crashes into the ground on his back, realizing that he really did let his guard down.

"Time to finish this," Valen remarks. "Hydro Pump once more."

Salamence flaps his wings and takes flight again. He fires off a powerful jet stream of water towards Grimmsnarl. Grimmsnarl's unable to avoid the powerful attack, and it blasts him just under his lower jaw. He tips backwards, then crashes face-down into the ground.

"Grimmsnarl!" Seconds later, Arthur calms down and smiles. "Ah well, you win some and you lose some." He rubs his forehead. "You fought well." He tells Grimmsnarl, recalling him. He places Grimmsnarl's Poké Ball back inside his trench coat.

"Good job," Valen compliments his smiling Salamence, recalling the dragon. He places Salamence's Poké Ball back inside his black leather jacket.

Melanie walks up to Arthur, a wide smile plastered on her face. "Why don't you tag along with us?" she asks. "Valen could use a second friend around."

"No, Valen doesn't need a second friend around." He scowls, folding his arms. "Battle and befriending are two different things."

"It would be my pleasure, and thank you for your kind words." Arthur bows.

"Fine, ignore me." Valen rolls his eyes. "At least I'm finally free of Empress Bossy Butt." He saunters away with his hands in his pockets.

"Quite the snarky fellow, isn't he?" Arthur asks, noting Melanie's got her left palm over her face.

"I thought bringing him here might bring at least part of his old self back."

Melanie's mouth falls open, realizing that she's wrong. He's still Valen, just like she told him earlier today. His battle with Arthur proved that he hasn't completely changed on the inside.

"I owe you one, Arthur." She'll re-pay him with a battle.

"I don't have all day to wait for you," Valen interjects, peeking behind him. "Come on already, Empress Slakoth."

Melanie's about to scold Valen, but then she notices that he's faintly smirking again. "Doofus." She bolts to catch up with Valen. "Colossal doofus."

"I'm not a Pokémon, Detective Ding Dong."

"I said colossal, not Coalossal," Melanie flicks Valen on the forehead as they enter the indoor lobby.

This is the arena Melanie and him frequented the most. This is where the two of them made it into the pro circuit. The awe-inspiring frescoes that lie above them were painted in the 1760s by two of the leading painters within the Calvanian Fresco School: Rosalina Merrifield and Nicholas Beauchêne. All of this wrapped into one package can't be a mere coincidence, can it?
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 3: Rosa Whitley

There it is, there's a sight that can make Valen smile even in the midst of this mess. He sheds a few nostalgic tears as he stands outside an enormous residence within his old neighborhood. The sunlight illuminating the residence's cream color of the house he grew up in, the house filled with the memories of happier times. He's still gleeful that the Neoclassical architectural style is the style of his childhood home. When one half of your family's been studying the arts for six centuries, this probably tends to happen. Okay, maybe there's a bit of an outlier somewhere.

His eyes lock on like magnets, studying the four cylindrical columns in the middle, each column consisting of a bell-shaped capital with volutes. The volutes are accompanied by two rows of acanthus leaves. Between the columns and the aedicule front entrance lies the aged walnut armchairs of the front porch, chairs that he's sat in many times.

"Aren't you going to say hello?" An older woman wearing a magenta blouse calls out. "Or are you too busy studying the house's Corinthian order columns?" She places the water pot on the grass, leaving the left end of the front yard.

Valen scratches the back of his head. "Sorry for not calling you ahead of time, mom." She still keeps that garden as well-maintained as the house.

"Don't worry about it," Professor Veronica Beauchêne-Barsotti beams with a gentle vibe. "Even though you live elsewhere now, this is still your house too."

Then, a Boltund spots his old friend through the front door's arched windows. The happily panting canine jumps out through the slightly opened door, rushing to greet him.

"Who's a good boy?" Valen smiles. "I think it's you." He bends to pet Boltund, who affectionately licks his face. "You know, I've never really explored Galar," he tells his mom. "At least, not beyond the countryside and the historical urban areas."

"That's not a surprise." His mother chuckles. "I still remember walking in on my young son trying to watch two documentaries at once."

"What can I say?" Valen shrugs, faintly grinning. "I've got Beauchêne blood within me."

"Why don't we continue this conversation inside?" The ringing of her cell phone halts their conversation. "I'll join you shortly." She decides not to reveal who's calling her, but he'll likely put two and two together soon enough.

Valen places his hands in his pockets, beginning a logy walk towards the front door Boltund by his side. He rub's Boltund's head as enters the house with the canine.

After Valen closes the door, his mother answers her cell phone. "Don't worry, I'm sure that he'll call you eventually."

"Thanks, Mrs. Barsotti," Rosa replies, her voice sluggish. "I really do miss hearing his voice, but I have to remain cheerful. That's just who I am, plus I have faith in him."

"I'm sorry." Professor Beauchêne-Barsotti lets out a deep sigh. "He's been struggling a lot."

"I've felt that something's wrong ever since he stopped calling."

"Your mother and I would tell you everything, but we don't want to hurt you," Professor Barsotti admits, letting out another sigh. "I'm sorry, we know how much you love him."

"I understand, Mrs. Barsotti," Rosa assures. "I know that I can't wave a wand and make his issues go away, but I'm going to be my usual self so he cheers up."

"In any case, I better go inside," Professor Beauchêne-Barsotti says. "Thanks for calling, and take care." She begins to walk towards the wooden door.

"You too, Mrs. Barsotti," Rosa replies, the call ending afterwards.

Professor Beauchêne-Barsotti slowly opens the front door, hoping that she can talk some sense into her son. He's always been a good kid, he means no harm. Wait, is he texting? She can see him from the coupled rectangular windows on her left. Whomever he's texting, it's making him grin. A genuinely happy grin.

Inside the living room, Valen sits on a red sofa with outscrolled arms that's finished with velvet leather upholstery, whereas his mother sits on a mahogany armchair that's also finished in velvet leather upholstery.

Valen's mother remains silent, allowing him to look around. She sports a nostalgic smile, mentally visualizing when she walked in on six-year-old Valen, Boltund, and baby Shinx watching a Baroque art documentary after the usual Saturday morning cartoons. Later that day, they watched a Gothic Revival architecture documentary. Returning her focus to the present, she watches Valen eye the decorative arts that surround them.

Yep, mom's kept everything the same. The walnut table on his right, the ornate walnut and pine cupboards within the kitchen where he learned how to cook in. Ornate walnut shelves and cabinets within the living room contain numerous examples of ceramics and figurines. Among them are ceramics with depictions of architecture, such as Parfum Palace, Dragonspiral Tower, and the Hearthome Cathedral. Other ceramics, along with the copper and bronze, figurines depict various Legendary and Mythical Pokemon. The largest ceramic, an oval-shaped vase with a middle bulge, proudly towers at the top. It's finished with a depiction of Mew prowling through the lush tropical jungles of the Guyanaica region. Mew's present among the figurines as well.

The various paintings that his mother's kept on the walls for years have rarely, if ever, moved. His favorite painting within this house is still the one that depicts Rayquaza soaring through the sky. It was the the very first painting that he learned about.

The Roaring Sky by Marcantonio Matteo da Caravaggio. Painted in 1600, it's one of Caravaggio's finest works. The use of light's minimal overall, as per usual with a Caravaggio work. The sky packed with so many ominous-looking clouds that little to no sunlight's passing through. This darkened and dramatic background causes the viewer's eyes to focus on where the light is, which is of the enormous dragon itself. Rayquaza's gaze directly meets Valen's gaze, it's like he's witnessing it veering around the traffic jam of clouds.

Left of this painting lies his second favorite along these paintings: Garchomp On The Stone Bridge by Rembrandt Aendriessen van Remis. Rembrandt's paintings were and are famous for their eerily realistic portrayals of Ghost and Dark-types. This painting from 1637 is one of the few that doesn't have either type. He eyes the several Garchomp that march like soldiers on a high stone bridge, a deep river passing underneath it. There's a Gyarados lurking within the river, and its eyeing the marching Garchomp with curiosity. A Charizard soaring above also eyes the marching Garchomp with curiosity. Above lies the contrast between the darkened clouds and the illuminating sunlight.

"I'm glad that you kept the interior like this." The elegant walls still retain their original brown marble, which show few signs of aging.

"Honey, you of all people should know that we have to keep the historical themes going!" Professor Beauchêne-Barsotti chirps, flashing a broad grin. "We also have to maintain its historic value!"

"...It's a weird feeling whenever I actually express myself," Valen admits with his eyes closed. "It shouldn't be." He pets Boltund, who's happily sitting next to his left leg. This dog's a good boy, a really good boy. He hopes that his dilemma doesn't causing that happy panting to vanish.

"Honey, have you talked to anyone lately?"

"...Only Melanie." Valen feels a light quiver in his stomach. "Am I really worth that much to them?"

Boltund faintly winces at Valen's sorrowful expression. The canine's perplexed—he doesn't understand why Valen's talking like this. He remembers the Valen that constantly played with both Shinx and him where they were younger.

"...I'm different than I used to be...will they actually accept that I'm not who they remember?" Valen frets, ceasing his rocking.

"We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but that doesn't mean we can't try to improve ourselves."

Valen nods, bending down to pet Boltund with his right hand. He heard the canine wincing, and this dog's too precious. As the yellow canine licks Valen's hand, one word rings through his mind.

Precious. Precious. Precious. Just like...those two...Rosa must've been calling his mom! The direct messages, the texts, saying hi via Melanie, is she really not mad at him for what he did? Her love hasn't become conditional? What's going on?

"Everything will be okay, honey." She stands up, slowly approaching him. "I promise."

She's still his mother, So he better expect the affection that Gardevoir studied. She bends to give him a kiss on the top of his head, wrapping her arms around his upper back. His tears drip onto her blouse, his wailing shattering the silence throughout the house.

Boltund's just seen one of his least favorite sights, and he's not having it. He dashes out of sight like he's uses his Agility move in a battle. Several seconds later, he returns with a stuffed toy of a Pidgey clenched in-between his teeth. Boltund places the Pidgey near Valen's left leg, barking in encouragement, He happily pants upon seeing a faint smile on Valen's face.

As they let go of each other, Valen and his mom smile at Boltund, petting him at the same time. Afterwards, Valen's mother returns to her seat.

"I'd like to know more about Hilda," she requests. "Please, honey?"

Valen wipes away his tears. "Truth is...I'm paranoid of Hilda...dunno why...guess my mind's turning everything positive against me." His voice emits a dull tone. "I already have anxiety regarding Rosa, but it's twelve times worse regarding Hilda."

Professor Beauchêne-Barsotti nods. She knows that her son's lost and confused, so she won't push him. "Are you still in contact with Jacques?"

"Yeah, but he's busy." Valen shrugs. "Being a sculptor and actor and all that."

Professor Beauchêne-Barsotti decides to change the subject. "Honey, do you still remember what was Marcantonio Matteo da Caravaggio's breakthrough piece?"

Boltund jumps onto Valen's lap and sits. Valen faintly grins, petting the canine. He looks at his mom, responding, "Gengar and Mimikyu, 1593. The painting setting's what 'da Caravaggio' references: Caravaggio Town in the Ragulia region."

"Which architect was commissioned to construct The Cathedral of Heroes in Galar?"

"King Galahad I commissioned Sir Charles Wren for that."

"What's one of oldest paintings that depicts we'd call an official Pokémon League battle?"

"The Kalosian Fights by Giotto di Buonacorsus, 1286."

"I definitely raised you right," she quips. "Don't get too comfortable, though."

"Challenge accepted, mom." He leans back on the sofa, still petting the good boy on his lap.

As she asks more questions, Valen recalls that she bought a house and led its restoration. She kept that house just so he'd have a place to live. His father retired from the military and became a management consultant, as well as partaking in humanitarian work with mom. Dad was able to be more active in his life as a result. He'll always be grateful for the parents he's got.

Melanie's asked Arthur to come with to the park where she met up with Valen again. Melanie lets him study his surroundings, her blue jean jacket rippling in the slight breeze.

While Valen went off to do his own thing, she's been getting to know Arthur better. It's not a surprise that he loves the Galarian countryside. He's got a great taste in literature, liking everything from Whitelaw Shakespeare to her own father. However, she wishes more people would understand fanfiction terms like OTP and AU, Arthur being among them. That being said, he's won the Galarian Conference and did decently in the Champion Cup. It's making her even more pumped up to battle him.

"So, whatcha think of the park?" Melanie clasps her hands behind her back.

"It has a quaint feeling to it, and it is quite pleasant." His adjusts his brown Victorian-style trench coat.

"We both grew up in this neighborhood." There are less people within the park today.

"Where exactly is he?"

"The dunce vanished without telling me where he was going." Melanie groans in exasperation, her hands on her hips. "All he texted was that he needed a little bit of time to ponder about his past connections." A tender smile appears on her face. "If he's considering what I think he might be considering, then let's leave him be."

She notes that a few people recognize her. In fact, a group of about ten trainers are waving to her. Upon seeing Arthur nod, she approaches the group.

"Been a while, Melanie," A male trainer with a Slowbro remarks. "I guess he's not around?"

"Yeah...he's not gonna show up today...he's had it rough." Melanie glances away, slightly bowing her head. "Not exactly in the best state of mind right now." As her ribs begin to tighten, she begins rubbing her sides.

"Sorry to hear that," A male trainer with a Blaziken responds. "I still can't believe someone who's social had trouble fitting in."

"I hope he gets better," A male trainer with a Dreadnaw comments. "Felt bad for him."

"He could've faked who he was just to fit in, but he didn't," A female trainer with a Liepard recalls. "I thought that was a smart move."

"Remember when that pompous asshole from outside this neighborhood called him a nerd?" A female trainer chuckles alongside her Noivern. "His response was amazing: 'N.E.R.D stands for Nobody Ever Respects Derek.'"

"His friend asked Valen if he does anything beside read!" The second trainer howls. "'He had another amazing response: "'At least I know how to read!'"

As he observes the banter, Arthur's glad that he got to learn more about Melanie. He admires the fact that Melanie's an aspiring writer, plus she likes the works of famous Galarian authors like Carl Dickens. Her father's Arvid Olsen, a remarkable novelist who's one of his favorites. However, she's a two-time Calvanian Conference winner and has conquered Hoenn's Battle Frontier. That means he's got to see her strength with his own two eyes.

He sees Melanie approaching him, the people she spoke to waving at her and vice versa.

"Arthur, I asked you to come here so you can take me up on that offer."

"Is that so?" Arthur smirks, his smile now a grin. "That must mean you wish to battle."

"Yep." Melanie takes out a Poké Ball from inside of her jean jacket. "Let's do this." She holds the ball out in front of her.

"I shall accept your challenge." Arthur takes out a Poké Ball from inside of his trench coat.

Melanie and Arthur stand on opposite ends of a lush grassy field. Since Melanie's a notable local trainer and a former resident of this neighborhood, a small crowd of people have gathered to watch this battle. Among them are then trainers she engaged in conversation with.

Melanie has sent out her Dragonite, the light-orange bipedal flapping its wings. The ensuing gust doesn't phase Arthur's Duraludon, a thud echoing as he stomps his giant feet. Dragonite lets out a ferocious cry, sounding like he's the apex of this area. Duraludon lets out a deep robotic-like cry to state that may the best dragon win.

"Let's do this!" Melanie bends her right elbow, clenching her left fist. "Use Dragon Dance!"

"Hone Claws," Arthur commands, folding his arms.

A light blue glow envelops Dragonite's body, and he rotates at a high rate of speed. At the same time, Duraludon's triangular indents metallic gray and extend outwards, a metallic gray aura enveloping the dragon. Both auras vanishes seconds later, the dragons staring each other down like cowboys in a western.

"Dragon Claw."

Both of Duraludon's hands glows light blue and he charges at Dragonite.

"Counter with your Dragon Claw!"

Both of Dragonite's hands glow white. He flaps his wings and takes fight. Then, he charges at Duraludon. Both Pokémon slam their glowing claws into each other, with neither giving an inch as they glare at each other with their competitive fighting spirits. Both weave from left to right and back to front to avoid the other attacks.

Both Pokemon fall back, then charge at each other again. Dragonite and Duraludon slam their claws into each other again, bobbing and weaving when one takes advantage of a potential opening. Eventually, both dragons land a blow on each other, causing them to stagger backwards.

Arthur sees this as another opportunity, commanding, "Stone Edge!"

"Oh no you don't!" Melanie raises her right fist upwards. "Use Brick Break!"

Dragonite charges at Duraludon, his right hand glowing bluish white. This time, Dragonite flies around the rock pillars like he's partaking in an obstacle course challenge. Dragonite positions his glowing hand sideways, while Duraludon uses Stone Edge again via a circular formation. Dragonite grins, surprising Duraludon with a mid-air somersault and a strike to the center of his body. Dragonite laughs over learning this from what the humans call action movies.

"Dragonite, Dragon Pulse!"

Dragonite opens his mouth and a white ball of energy forms in front of it. Dragonite launches the sphere, which first morphs into a beam. It further morphs into a massive white dragon with quadruple wings and spikes on its shoulders. Wind shrieks as the dragon formation blasts into Duraludon's face, the Steel and Dragon-type colliding with the ground behind his trainer.

"You got the jump on us, but we shall prevail!" Arthur announces. "Flash Cannon!"

As Duraludon moves in front of Arthur, small orbs of energy begin to form and merge in front of the metallic dragon's mouth. Duraludon launches a large silver beam, striking Dragonite in his midsection. Both Pokémon signal respect for each other by letting out cries.

"Use Flamethrower!"

Dragonite opens his mouth and unleashes a white stream of swirling fire. Duraludon's struck on the right side of his face. As he pulls himself together, Duraludon's entire body becomes enveloped in flames, taking additional damage from the status condition.

"We shall not let up!" Arthur proclaims. "Dragon Claw!"

"Use Reflect!"

Both of Duraludon's hands glows light blue and he charges at Dragonite. As Dragonite's getting back onto his feet, Duraludon slashes him with both claws. However, a giant, yellow circular barrier separates the two dragons. No matter how many times he tries, Duraludon can't break through,

Duraludon can feel himself getting weaker due to his infliction, but he's not letting up. As Dragonite gets back up on his feet, Duraludon roars that he wants a powerful opponent, not one who gives up. Dragonite lets out a smug cry, telling Duraludon to be careful what he wishes for.


Dragonite inches closer to the ground. He slams his tail into the ground as hard as possible, sending a flurry of white shockwaves towards Duraludon. Duraludon wobbles as he attempts to endure the super-effective attack, shutting his eyes during the process.

"Use Brick Break!"

Dragonite charges at Duraludon, his right hand glowing bluish white. Dragonite aims his hand sideways, slamming Duraludon's head and sending him toppling onto the ground.

"We shall not go down like this!" Arthur shouts. "Outrage!"

Melanie's eyes slightly widen, extending her left hand horizontally. "Reflect, quickly!"

Dragonite's mouth falls open, while Duraludon cackles. Duraludon's eyes glow metallic red, an aura of the same color emitting from his entire body. Duraludon lets out a blistering roar, lunging at Dragonite as fast as he can.

Another barrier begins to materialize, but Duraludon slashes Dragonite's midsection before it can increase in size. Dragonite slams onto the ground on his back, Duraludon repeatedly slashing him over and over again.

Dragonite pants, the barrage of slashes finally ending. Duraludon falls back, wobbling from side to side. His eyes continue to glow. Seconds later, he's able to snap himself out of confusion. However, Duraludon's also panting, plus the burn damage's still ongoing. Dragonite's still laying on the ground, attempting to stand upright. It's now or never.

"Dragonite, you can do it!" Melanie cups her hands over her lips. "Quick, Brick Break!'

"Do not give in, Duraludon!" Arthur encourages. "Use Dragon Claw!"

As his claws glow light blue. Duraludon' eyes widen upon seeing Dragonite mustering enough energy to get back onto his feet. Dragonite takes flight, his right hand glowing bluish white. Duraludon roars, lunging at Dragonite. Dragonite positions his hand sideways, landing a blow on the top of Duraludon's head. Duraludon topples onto the ground, his trainer watching with his teeth clenched. As he tries to stand upright, he lets out a soft roar to congratulate his opponent. Then, the Steel and Dragon-type falls to the ground in defeat.

"Nice job, Dragonite!" Melanie exclaims, dashing towards her tired Pokémon. Melanie and Dragonite exchange a hi-five, both grinning.

"You've got to be bloody kidding me!" Arthur exclaims in disbelief as he recalls Duraludon. He takes a silent deep breath, stating, "Get some rest, Duraludon."

"You need some rest too." Melanie recalls Dragonite. She places the ball inside of her blue jean jacket. She looks directly at Arthur. "Good battle." She walks up to him, and they shake hands. "You're definitely strong, I sort off...got caught off guard by that Outrage."

"You are quite strong yourself," Arthur compliments, placing Duraludon's ball inside of his trench coat.

"There's more to life than this, so don't let losing a friendly battle get to you like that," Melanie comments. "Even the most famous trainers have additional things going for them—this region's champ wears a cape designed by Lance Wataru."

"You make an excellent point," Arthur responds, then bows. "I apologize for my outburst."

"Don't worry about it, because nobody's perfect." His blond hair's thicker than she first thought, but it's a nice look on him.

"Much appreciated."

"That being said, I can't blame someone if they thought that about me." Melanie shrugs, her grinning mouth gaping open. "He always made sure that always felt great about myself."

Arthur chuckles, remarking, "You're a lass who's got a lot of confidence. I can certainty admire that."

"Thanks." Melanie exchanges a high-five with Arthur. "He didn't want others to feel what he felt as a kid, as he didn't have the easiest time fitting in," she explains, tenderly smiling. "That's why he decided to act the way he did." Her smile flips upside down. "I hope that side of him comes back to the surface...that's who I want."

Arthur frowns, unsure of what to say. All he can do is hope that this debacle fades away. He'd like to become more acquainted with Valen, still trying to pinpoint where he's heard that name before.

Valen lies in his old room's bed, staring at his cell phone in silence. He got seven out of thirty five wrong, but he should've gotten all of them right. He's gotta up on Walter Hogarth's work, Wilfred Dobson's work, Kalosian armchairs, the ancient temples of Phnomdia, the history of Castelia City's Empire Region Building, Alola's Neoclassical architecture, and Johtoian Metabolism architecture. Of course, now he remembers that Wilfried Dobson was a Galarian Baroque painter, much like how Sir Charles Wren was a Galarian Baroque architect.

He eyes an ebony bookshelf. It's empty, it's completely empty. It's devoid of any symbols of happiness, fun, hobbies, and successes. Imagine if he didn't have his Pokémon. Imagine if he didn't retain his passion for reading, history, and the arts. His life would look exactly like this bookshelf.

His mind veers onto Reconnection Avenue, the traffic being what his mother and Melanie told him. However, the road's also the battlefield where the civil war within his mind rages on. The ideologies clashing like two warriors engaged in a sword duel. One warrior's telling that both Melanie and his mom are right. Rosa still loves him, and everyone will re-accept him. Maybe it's actually himself he doesn't trust. However, the other warrior's calling him an idiot, stating that he isolated himself from Rosa. What kind of boyfriend is he? How can Rosa still love him? Why should anyone re-accept someone so cold and distrustful?

Things have changed for him in a big way, and not a good way either. Hopefully, Rui's doing better than the is. He stares at his cell phone again. He recalls that no matter what, Rosa's presence brightened his mood. Maybe he really does need her around, but what if things don't work out? He once promised her that she'd better than the others, but doesn't isolating himself break that promise?

Valen attempts to dial Rosa's number, but he begins to tremble. His muscles tense up, causing him to clench his teeth. "How...how's Hilda not going to tear me to shreds over isolating myself from her?" He bemoans, taking deep breaths. "I can't believe I'm anxious about calling Rosa...Rosa of all people...even worse is that I can't shake the fear of her leaving me behind and going back to Unova...such a disgusting and selfish thought."

Suddenly, he feels something tapping his left shoulder. A peek reveals that his s Gengar's materialized from the wall. The grinning red-eyed ghost points to Valen's cell phone with his right hand. His other hand's pointing towards Gardevoir, who's standing next to the open door. Gardevoir's leaning against the wooden door, her arms folded. She nods with an affectionate smile. She's joined by Luxray and Typhlosion. Luxray nods with a sterner expression on his face, whereas Typhlosion lets out a gentle cry.

Before Valen can say anything, he's interrupted by a low-toned roar from his Salamence. Gardevoir and Luxray move to their right to show that Salamence and Golisopod are here too. The giant room that connects to his room's where the team slept when he lived here. He should've figured that they'd all show up.

"...Alright, I'll give a try if it makes all of you happy," Valen says, closing his eyes while sporting a faint smile. "I'm still not sure how I'll proceed from here on out, but let's do this." He dials Rosa's number on his cell phone. Before he starts the call, his hands start to tremble. He takes a deep breath. He's going to make this call. He won't hurt his Pokémon, even if his worst fears become a reality.

"Silver once said he was forgiven by people who became his friends...can I be forgiven too?" Valen Valen initiates the call.

The phone rings once, as it's immediately picked up. "Hi, Valen," a middle-aged woman's voice greets.

"Hi, Dr. Whitley," he greets, sheepishly smiling. "Probably should've called you first." He scratches the back of his head.

"Rosa's home, but she forgot her cell phone downstairs," Dr. Maureen Whitley informs, faintly laughing. " She's watching Give Up, the movie about the Gengar that follows people and Pokémon."

"Heh, classic Rosa." Valen glances towards Gengar, who's still grinning. This Ghost-type enjoyed that movie a little too much.

"So, how're you feeling?" Dr. Whitley's voice has got a gentle tone.

"Eh...dunno...but thanks for reaching out for me when you did." Valen somberly smiles. "The plan helped me to return to reading...focusing on the arts...and so on."

"You've always treated my daughter well, no matter what conflicts arose." Dr. Whitley's tone emits gratitude. "You still remember what I told you about distracting yourself?"

"'Focus on your passion for books, history, the arts and design.'" Wait, are those footsteps emitting through the speaker?

"Hey there, Valen!" A middle-aged man interjects, causing Dr. Whitley to groan.

"This isn't a play, Keith." Dr. Whitley's voice emits a hint of annoyance. "How did she gain my looks and your personality?"

"You're the psychologist, Maureen." Mr. Whitley chuckles. "Besides, she gained both of our personalities."

"Hi, Mr. Whitley," Valen greets Rosa's father, feeling amused by the banter. "They haven't changed much."

"Just wanted to say hi, and thanks for reaching out," Mr. Whitley tells Valen. "You'll always have our support for what you've done for our daughter." His voice emits gratitude. "Got to go now, but I hope you feel better."

"Thanks." Valen can hear Mr. Whitley walking away. He takes several deep breaths. "I'm ready," he states. "I'm ready, Dr. Whitley."

"You remembered the words," Dr. Whitley remarks, her voice having a warm tone. "Hold on one second."

Footsteps again, but here comes the moment of truth. The sound of her walking up a staircase into a hallway echoes within Valen's mind. He can feel a slight headache when he hears knocking on a door, followed by Rosa being informed that somebody important is on the phone. His hands tremble again, his headache increasing in intensity. He starts to sweat, but takes a deep breath. He hears the door opening, and can hear the phone being exchanged.

"Hiiiii!" Rosa greets, closing her door. "Who's this?"

Valen takes a silent deep breath. "I dunno, who is this?" Please let this go well. "I'm not sure myself, ma reine."

Valen can hear Rosa's loud gasp. "Is it...is it really you?!" Rosa's voice quavers as it cracks with emotion. "You...this time you...called me?!"

"Yeah...sorry for isolating myself...but here I am." So far, so good?

"It's you...it's really you...you're back." Rosa whimpers, her breathing heavy. "I'm...I'm so glad...I really missed you."

Valen raises his eyebrows upwards as d Rosa's crying grows louder. "...Will you be alright?" He feels his headache coming back. "Sorry-"

A hard deep breath can be hard over the speaker. "Don't worry, I'll be fine," she assures. "Thanks."

"So...am I...in trouble?" Valen feels sweat dripping down his face.

"I know you didn't ask for any of this."

"You...aren't...going to blame me?" The thumping within his head's actually going away. "You aren't mad at me?" His mouth gapes open. "I left you out to dry, so why're you-"

"I wanted to remain optimistic about our future," Rosa admits. "I know you didn't mean malice, so I waited."

Valen trembles, causing his Pokémon to fixate concerned expressions towards him. "I'm...sorry for-"

"You don't need to say story when it's not your fault in the first place." Rosa states, her tone soothing like a lullaby. "Your mom told me some of what's been going on. I know that my own mother reached out to you too."

"...What now...what happens now?"

"From the bottom of my heart, I promise that I won't hold it against you," Rosa reassures. "You waited to make us official due to my own struggles, so I'm doing the same for you."

"...I dunno what to say." Valen bows his head, feeling the tension within him slowly drifting away. "You're...a ray of sunshine." His headache's already gone.

"I'll always wait for you, because I've known you for fifteen years. In due time, you'll see that I still love you with all my heart."

Valen goes silent, his stare becoming vacant. His issues won't go away just like that, but he's got to grab this moment with both hands and fix his mess.

"...Are you okay, Valen?" Rosa's voice emits a concerned tone. "I'm sorry if I said something that make you uneasy."

"First Melanie...now you," Valen murmurs, his limbs tingling with warmth. "...Again...second time," he whimpers. "How...how could I've been so...stupid?"

"My love for you has always been unconditional," Rosa reminds him. "That'll never change."

"Rosa...I...you're-" Tears began to stream down his face.

His Pokémon look at each other, unsure what to make of this. Then, Gardevoir lets out a soft cry, pointing towards Valen. All six Pokémon smile when they see their trainer sporting a smile of his own. Not just any smile—they haven't seen a smile this wide for what seems like forever.

Rosa lets out an elated scream, startling Valen so much that he nearly fall off his bed. The sound of her jumping up and down on her bed can be heard through the phone's speaker . Valen breathes a sigh of relief—at least it made his Pokémon laugh.

"Wherever Rosa goes, smiles follow!" Once again, her jumping's loud enough for Valen to hear it.

Valen loves her liveliness and her pure-hearted nature. "If I recall, you really want to become equally famous here." He's imagining her sporting her usual grin or smile.

"That's the plaaaaan!" Rosa exclaims in a singsong tone. "I've already booked a flight for that very reason, but I won't tell you when it is!"

"You still a play and film buff?" Valen can faintly hear what sounds like twirling on a mattress.

"Yeeeeeeep, I read Swords of Justice, watched The Turtonator, and I paused Give Up!"

"Cute and clever."

"Pretty too!" This time, her twirling can definitely be heard better over the phone. "I still use my platform to spread my knowledge of theater, film, painting, and graphic design!" Rosa cheers. "Another goal of mine is to give out free smiles!"

"I like that," he says. "Paint anything recently?"

"Yeeeep, a still life painting of Unovan pizza!"

Yep, good ol' Rosa. Unovan pizza and this ball of fluff is as classic to him as Michelangelo's The Trainer is to art history. They were young kids when she realized that still life painting, the depiction of inanimate objects based on certain qualities, can be used to paint her favorite foods. She was jumping around like a basketball player scoring multiple points in a row.

"Wake up, silly!" A singsong tone again

Valen faintly yelps, his blushing face as obvious as the blue sky. "S-Sorry...um...good job."

"I still want to have battles with all sorts of trainers."

Valen breathes a sigh of relief. "You better watch yourself—we still don't mess around in Calvana."

"We both know who's going to win in the end."

"You're a Normal-type and I'm a Fighting-type," Valen boasts, his body feeling lighter with each passing moment. "There's no way you'll defeat me."

"Oh noooo, I'm soooo scared." Rosa's smacking of her bedroom's wall echoes through the speaker. "You're talking to a woman who's won the Unovan Conference four times and can paint a fresco faster than most can."

"That's because you're awesome."

"I already know that, you silly boooy." she giggles. "But what if I told you that you're also awesome, hmmmm?"

"Noooooo, I'm sooooo shocked."

"Tee-hee, you're sooo funny!"

Gengar joins the other five Pokémon, all of them joyful that their trainer might be starting to open up more. There's still the Hilda situation, but all in due time. They believe in their trainer, like they always have.

Gengar decides to lighten up the mood even further, snickering that Salamence needs to fess up about his crush on Rosa's Milotic. Salamence blushes, retreating backwards into the giant room he came from. His teammates laugh, running after the dragon while roasting him. They chant that they'll find Salamence and Milotic sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.

To add to Salamence's romantic woes, Rosa's howling with laughter. Valen's trying to contain his laughter. He's a powerful dragon, not a Growlithe puppy! Get it right!

Rosa was the first canon character I decided to include. Her character's heavily based off of Rosa from Masters.

Furniture and interior design are among the arts, dunno how known that is. Mahogany, walnut, pine, and ebony are types of wood.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 4: Uncertainty.

Melanie's relaxing on a bench within a plaza in Angel City, the mighty skyline of downtown looming large in the distance. The footsteps of people and Pokémon surround her on all sides. The sounds of chatter and laughter surround her as well, while a flock of Taillow and Swellow chirp as they soar within the sunny sky. The line for the ice cream cart extends well past her, the other merchandise stands seeing a lot of activity as well. Within a magazine stand, she sees several issues of Trainer's Digest with Hilda's winking face on it. Her eyes brighten, recalling all the fun times she had with Valen, Hilda, and Rosa. Ha, even she's on a few, but they're hiding!

However, thinking about Valen causes Melanie to bow her head. She's so worried about him, but she has her own own wants too. However, she also doesn't want him thinking that he's holding his back. It's worse now, his self-esteem's been shattered. She's an individual too, and he'd be hurt if someone neglected themselves for him. Why partake in a lose-lose situation?

She's still going to be there for him, no matter what. She trust him, she trusts that he'll come around one day. She decides to focus on another topic, and writing's the first thing that comes to her mind. She wants to remain a pro trainer, but she also wants to write novels, novel-like nonfiction, and articles.

First thing's first, should should use Angel City again in her third novel? How's her dad able to do this so efficiently? Should she set this trainer rivalry novel in Vega City, Puget City, Cascade City, or Riverwood City? Should she go global and set it in the Schwiizer region? How about the abandoned city of Mewlandia within the Amazonia region? How about the Nordica region, her birthplace? What if she got more specific and set it in her hometown, Vikenbergen City?

There's also that historical fiction manuscript...manuscripts. Over a dozen different manuscripts, because she's a crazy woman. There's the one regarding an Impressionist artist, love, and the Kalosian art establishment. There's also the one set during the Barsatine Empire, or East Siscian Empire. Can't forget the Renaissance either. Oh, that twentieth-century setting too, 1910s-1920s! Wait, she also needs to crank out that AU fanfic of Whitelaw Shakespeare's Roland and Justine!

Hold those thoughts, she's got fans heading her way. She knows that they're fans because they're in her local fan club. "Hey there!" She waves, beaming a grin.

"I can't believe I ran into you!" A female trainer gushes. "You looks soooo goooooood in that jean jacket!"

"Obviously." Melanie runs her right hand through her elbow-length, black hair. "Kidding, kidding!" She laughs, her left hand above her mouth. "So, you want autographs or something?"

"Well, do you mind if I battle you?" A male trainer with a Electivire asks. "I'd like to see how I fare against you."

"Sure." Melanie stands up, straightening out her jacket. "I can battle all of you one at a time." She takes out a Poké Ball from inside her jacket. "I'm now in a battle mood, it's time for me to rock!"

She presses the button on the ball to let out a Dragonite, a thud echoing as Dragonite plops his feet onto the ground. Dragonite and Electivire narrow their eyes at each other, letting out ferocious cries.

After defeating the trainer with Electivire, Melanie's won five more battles. Currently, her Dragonite's engaging in battle with a Staraptor, the two glaring at each other as they remain in-flight. Due to her notability, a sizeable crowd's gathered to watch her battle.

"Staraptor, Brave Bird!" Her male opponent shouts.

Staraptor lets out a booming screech, flying higher. Then, Staraptor launches itself towards Dragonite, burning up like a rocket that's just re-entered the atmosphere. Staraptor rams into Dragonite and sends him plummeting into the ground, a loud thud echoing throughout the closes its eyes, enduring recoil damage.

Dragonite's able to stand upright, flexing his arms. This causes Melanie to smirk. "Dragonite, use Thunderbolt!"

Dragonite lets out a prideful cry, firing off a powerful of electricity from the string-like antennae on his head. Staraptor's struck just under the head, the electricity quickly enveloping the large bird.

"Staraptor, use Giga Impact!"

"Oh no you don't!" Melanie turns rightwards, pointing at her opponent. "A Dragon Pulse will finish this!"

Dragonite opens his mouth, a white ball of energy forming in front of it. Dragonite launches the sphere, which morphs into a beam. It further morphs into a massive white dragon with quadruple wings and spikes on its shoulders. A powerful gust of wind occurs as the massive dragon rams into Staraptor. The large bird crashes onto the ground.

"Yeah, another win for us!" Melanie's eyes gleam, bending her elbows while clenching her fists. "Eat your heart out, Rosa and Hilda!" She sees her grinning Dragonite darting towards her, the two of them exchanging a high five. "We rock, Dragonite!" Melanie's eyes glitter, while Dragonite flexes his arm. Then, both of them turn towards their opponent, who's already recalled his Staraptor. "Good battle!" She runs up to him, the two exchanging a handshake.

"Right back at you," her opponent says. "I couldn't pass up the chance to battle a Calvanian Conference winner."

As she watches him leave, Melanie's phone starts to ring. She takes it out of her jeans' right pocket. When she sees who it is, she grins and answers the call. "Hi, Silver."

"It's been a bit since I called you." His voice has a faint hint of regret. "Sorry."

"It's fine, don't worry about it," she reassures. "What are you up to?"

"Well, I'm about to leave Hoenn," he answers. "I had fun challenging the trainers here again, but I fell short again."

"Oh?" Melanie's grinning mouth falls open. "Champion Zinnia kick your ass?" Few let him live down his past habit of boastfully challenging champions.

"Quiet." Silver groans. "Next time."

Melanie wags her right index finger. "You said next time when Hilbert, the best looking musician of our generation, kicked your ass too." Same story with Cynthia, Steven and Leon.

"He has Zekrom, dammit!"

"You thought you could defeat Zekrom!" Melanie bursts out laughing, smacking her knees as she bends. "I'd say that's gold, but you're Silver!"

"I forgot that he has Zekrom!" Two bubbly ladies and a lively guy can be heard laughing in the background. "You three need to stop laughing at me!"

As she attempts to chats with the now riled up Silver, Melanie hopes that he'll come to this region at some point. The three he's yelling at must be who he calls The Three Stooges of Johto. Wait, is Silver now running away? What's he scared of? Who's the woman teasing him about trying to impress this Kris person?

It's now a cloudy evening. Valen, along with his Salamence, are strolling down a giant plaza walkway. He likes the quiet and tranquil aura, noting how there's barely any people on the sidewalk and very few vehicles on the road. "It felt nice to go out and have a few battles, didn't it?" He asks his Salamence, patting the top of the tri-colored dragon's head. "Sorry...it's been hard." He smiles when Salamence lets out an affectionate roar.

As the loud hooting of several Hoothoot and Noctowl echo throughout the area, Valen and Salamence stroll past the Brutalist style buildings that make up this district. The dragon eyes the peculiar shapes of the drab buildings on both sides of the street, wondering why the humans chose to build such structures. Even stranger to him is that several seem to be in rather poor condition.

Valen notices that his Salamence's keenly studying the monochrome concrete buildings. He faintly smiles, joking. "You seem a little too mesmerized by these buildings." Salamence smiles in amusement at his trainer, both of them halting to further study the buildings.

"Barren concrete buildings are peculiar to me, especially since nobody bothered to maintain them." He notes the deterioration of the structures too, recalling that they've long since abandoned. "I hate to see any building like this, but at least nobody will be hurt." He recalls that this style can be traced back to famed architect Charles Leonard Corbusier. He notes the stark forms and raw surfaces, a hallmark of Brutalist architecture. It's a controversial style that's difficult to love at first glance, and it's been that way since it spawned decades ago. "I remember when cousins Louis and Loïc got into a debate over Brutalist architecture," he reminisces. "Debates and discussions on history and the arts are fairly normal at Beauchêne family gatherings."

Valen and his Salamence resume their walk. As they passes a dimly lit alley, Valen notes the presence of two Gastly, two Haunter, a Shuppet, a Duskull, and a Misdreavus. The ghosts mischievously laugh as they topple over garbage can after garbage can, whether empty or not. Valen's used to mischievous ghosts, because Gengar loves to jump scare people. Salamence smirks at the Ghost-types, knowing that his teammate would try to do the same thing.

As they stroll past a wooden bench, Valen's eyes widen when he spots a poster on one of the silvery street lights. He sighs, coming to a sudden halt. Salamence halts too, giving his trainer a concerned look. He's wondering what's gotten into his trainer, until he looks at the poster himself. Salamence's mouth falls open—he remembers that name and that human girl very well. Even before calling Rosa, his teammates and him believed that their trainer was far more paranoid of Hilda than Rosa. They still do, hence why they're giving him space.

The poster's got BW Agency written in big and bold letters on the top. The left half of the name's black, while the right half's white. The poster states that this renowned will be moving its main division to Angel City, merging it with the Calvanian division.

Valen remembers the BW Agency, the faintest of nostalgic smiles appearing on his face. Even if he didn't, he'd know what it is. The founder became a sensation due to her idea of hosting a musical in Nimbasa City, so who doesn't know the agency? It's renowned for its ability to plan even the largest and most complex events, as well being a prominent sponsor of trainers, actors, actresses, painters, and so on. Within the entertainment industry, it's a top recommendation for those seeking a talent agent, manager, or business partner. They've also got Pokémon actors available for various tasks, such as movie roles and commercials.

Famous. Popular. Those words once applied to him. The cheering fans, the contests, the fun he had, he misses it all. However, he doesn't know if he's capable of reaching for that dream of his. It feels too far out of his reach.

He recalls that the Calvanian division was used as the temporary main division when their founder and president lived abroad. Unfortuatently, his mind's been screwing up his entire life, and he feels that his friendship with the agency's president suffered the worst of it. Salamence glances at his trainer, wondering how he'll respond. His trainer's been lost and confused, but all six of them have seen him shed many tears. They know he longs for his old life.

Right when he feels like he's calming down, Valen's heartbeat and pulse use Agility, a headache thumping at the same time. His attention's been drawn on the large photo plastered in the center. "Oh no...I'm fucked if she's coming to town!" He trembles, his muscles feeling tense. "She's going to fucking kill me for not contacting her!" It's a photo of Hilda White, the agency's founder and president. His eyes scan the picture of his fresh-faced friend, unable to move past her dark brown hair. She's got her back turned, but is giving the camera a playful wink. He recalls that Rosa loves to pose like this too.

He takes several deep breaths, trying his hardest to calm himself down. "Hilda's still a friend...a close friend...might not be mutual anymore." He frowns, his tone sounding dull. Tears start streaming down his face as he recalls the good times he's had with Hilda, from having fun at PokéStar Studios to exploring Angel City. "Salamence, I really miss her...I can't...I'm too scared to reconnect." He can feel his head thumping harder. "What if she doesn't...if she rejects me, then why bother trying-"

Valen hears his phone ding. He wipes away his tears and takes his phone out of his left pocket. He sees that the text message's from the receptionist at Liniya Corp. "Huh, Dimitri would like me to meet him at his private arena tomorrow evening." The message also states that Dimitri wants to test him, but there's no further information within the message. "Interesting turn of events." Dimitri's never called him to this arena before. What does he want from him? Why would Dimitri call him to the private arena when both of them rarely battle nowadays?

Then, Valen notices that he's missed several texts from Melanie. He texts her that he'll read them all when he gets home. In response, Melanie texts a thumbs up emoji.

Valen notices that Salamence's looking at him, a saddened expression plastered onto his face. He pats the dragon on his head, and Salamence smiles in response. Salamence lets out an affectionate roar. "Let's go home," Valen says, tilting his head. "I'll be alright, don't worry."

Salamence nods, both trainer and Pokémon resuming their stroll. Salamence hopes that Valen will reach out to all of his friends, but he knows about his trust issues.

"...Salamence, why's it so hard to be proactive?" Valen laments, his stomach hurting. "I feel so passive...but that's not what I need to do." he sighs. "Thing is that I can't push myself hard enough."

Salamence lets out a sigh. What did Valen do to deserve such pain? All he can do is prove that they're still a strong team.

"...This reminds me of the day you evolved." Valen somberly smiles, coming to a halt. "You were so mad at that Druddigon that you evolved." His smile flips upside down. "I also had doubts...such a powerful Pokémon...was I skilled enough?"

Salamence halts as well, walking backwards to stand next to his trainer. The tri-colored dragon flashes back to when he first met Valen. He was a Bagon who wanted to be the strongest dragon possible, so he picked a lot of fights. Valen ran into him while at the park that Valen and Melanie met up in not too long ago. Valen stated that he was going to prove his skills by taming a Salamence, but that's not all.

"Do you want to be in our family, Bagon?"

Valen offered him a berry, which he gladly accepted. Valen accidentally picked what the humans call a Tamato berry, but the dragon could take the heat. He's just that awesome.

"You realized that I had doubts, so you went out of your way to prove me wrong...thanks buddy." Valen tenderly smiles. He closes his eyes, petting the dragon's head. His smile becomes wider when he hears another affectionate roar. "Cousin Sammy was also a big help."

Salamence wants the Valen who raised him to return. He wants the Valen who never backed down. His teammates and him will always be loyal to him, but this isn't the real Valen in their minds.

Valen's lying down on his bed within his Victorian era house. As his antique bronze clock ticks by the second, he remains quiet. He stares blankly at his black marble ceiling. He isn't feeling tired, so he ponders about recent events and what the future may hold for him. "It's been six days since I met up with Melanie...five days since I met Arthur...it feels like a lot longer," Valen muses. "Friendship...joy...love...can I really feel all of that again?"

Things have taken a turn for the worst. Physically, he's fine. Mentally, he's anything but fine. How does he figure out how to trust again? Does he truly distrust others as a whole, or does he distrust himself? Can he repair the damage he caused? So many questions, but zero answers. At least he's got family, his Pokémon, Melanie and Rosa. He isn't sure about Arthur yet. Arthur's not bad, but he's become skeptical of potential new friends.

"My ideal world is one where people can be themselves and still fit in," he laments. "But...how can I maintain such an ideal when I've lost most of who I was?" He hears his room's door creak open. He wipes his eyes. "Come on in, Gardevoir."

Gardevoir slowly enters the room, and Valen's glad to see at the elegant Pokémon. He eyes her long and flowing gown, grateful that she's been taking care of him on behalf of the whole team. His other five Pokémon believe that she's the best suited for this task. These six have kept him going, just like they've always have. Gardevoir walks up to Valen, sporting a tender smile. She begins to caress his forehead, letting out a soothing and melodious cry. Then, she gives him a peck on the top of his head.

"Thanks for everything." Valen pats Gardevoir's head, causing her to lovingly smile. Then, his mouth falls open, realizing that he needs to read Melanie's texts. He reaches into his pants' right pocket and takes out his cell phone. He goes into his text messages, smirking when he reads that Melanie had a fourteen battle win streak today. "I know what to do." He texts Melanie that she's a beautiful badass. He smiles when she sends heart emojis in response.

After texting her "talk to you later" and vice versa, Valen places his phone on the round carved walnut table table northeast of his bed. He grabs the book that rests to the right of his phone, deciding that reading is a good way to get his mind away from that gloomy thinking.

His dwelling is interrupted by the ringing of his cell phone. When he sees who's calling, he softly smiles. "Hi, Rosa."

"How're you feeling, sweetie?"

"Eh, not so great." Valen scratches the back of his head. "I'll be alright, though." Can he sculpt a future for himself like Gianluigi Bernini sculpted masterpieces centuries ago?

"I hope you're ready to see me in person again."

"Do you actually think that you can find me in person?" He appreciates Rosa's attempt to get his mind off of his issues.

"You can't run from your destiny."

"Let's see if your actions can live up to your words—I challenge you to see who finds who in person first." He decides to put the phone on speaker, placing it on the bed.

"I'm gonna win, so I expect a victory kiss."

"Why does she expect me to kiss her?" Valen's mouth falls open. "I thought that-" His eyes widen, remembering the words they exchanged with each other before he left for Orre and she left for Johto.

"I'll always love you."

However, relationships need communication. Isn't growing distant kinda like breaking up? Didn't he screw up?

"Ooooooh, you went quiet a second time." Rosa's soft voice snaps Valen back into focus. "Is big boy scared to give me a kiss?"

Valen faintly smiles. "Hmph, as if you can actually find me in person." He picks up his book, feeling the glossy texture of the pages

"I missed this," Rosa whispers. "I had a feeling you would eventually resurface, because we had loads of fun together."

"So far, it seems that-"

"Ooooh, whatcha thinking?" Rosa teases. "You thinking about your speech after I defeat you?"

"Oh please, you'll never defeat me."

"Don't push your luck with Battle Queen Rosa."

"Heh, you really are still the same."

"I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was!"

"One of the very best sounds more appropriate."

"I knoooow, buuuut it doesn't sound as cool!" she giggles. "That's what you said years ago!"

"...This is one reason why you're so much fun to be around." He realizes that he forgot to turn the page. "By the way, I'm reading my biography on your favorite painter."

"Awesomeeeeeee!" she cheers. "I'm glad to hear that."

"You still read?"

"Yeeeeep, but I have so much energy that it's not always easy!" she exclaims. "Also, make sure you're getting enough rest and drinking enough water!"

Valen rapidly blinks. "What."

"It's not good to stay up too late, plus you need to drink lots of water!"

"...Rosa, it's eight thirty over here." Did she forget about the time zones?

"You never know when I'll pay you a visit!" Rosa exclaims, the sound of twirling emitting through the speaker. "It could be tomorrow, next week or next month, so be prepared and well rested for your favorite girl!"

A mischievous smile appears on his face. "Are you trying to be my pretend nagging wife instead of Melanie?"

"H-Hey, I-I'm just looking out for you!"

"Rosa help, I forgot to pack clean underwear." Valen snickers.

"T-That's not funny!"

Valen laughs, then goes quiet for a few seconds. He blinks, asking, "Shouldn't you be going to sleep?"


"Crazy girl." Suddenly, Valen gets an idea. "Let's quiz each other." This was...no, this is a favorite pastime among the squad.

"Bring it on." Rosa's voice brims with pride. "Nooooow, tell me what Baroque era play inspired the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Cinematic Universe," she challenges. "As well as inspiring lots of other things?"

"Where Have All Our Trainers Gone?" Valen smirks. "1632." This play's so sad that even Silver became teary-eyed while watching a film adaptation with the squad.

"Good work!" she cheers. "Your turn to ask!"

"What was Raphael's main Pokémon?"

"That's an easy one, silly!" she giggles. "An Articuno!"

"I'm feeling nice today." he snickers. "What was Michelangelo's main Pokémon?"

"A Galarian Articuno, plus he was Raphael's rival!" The sound of Rosa drumming her feet can be heard. "A rival artist and trainer!"

"Aw, I guess I'm too nice." His face glows, his smirk now a grin. "Whatever will I doooooooo?"

"Don't get too comfortable, big boy," she teases. "Here comes another!" she giggles. "Name a movie on something historical that my dad wrote the script for!"

"Building The Hearthome Cathedral, a biopic movie about one of Jaxon Loughborough Rowan's most famous buildings."

"Woo-hoo, you got it right!"

As Valen and Rosa continue to quiz each other, the former feels his mind and body being enveloped by a sense of relaxation. It's impossible for him to not feel calmer and happier when Rosa's around, even if it's just a phone call. He's surprised that Rosa's not brought up Hilda, but he feels that she's being cautious. Of course, he doesn't know what Hilda, or anybody else, is thinking.

Happier memories of their time together have come back to him, such as going to PokéStar Studios numerous times, having a lavish dinner in Lumiose City, and walking along Angel City's boardwalk. He recalls how addictive he found Rosa's hugs, kisses, and cuddling to be. He truly loved this girl with all his heart, and he can still sense his feelings for her within him.

At the same time, Gardevoir flashes back to the day she met the human child who'd become her trainer. She was a timid Ralts who'd somehow ended up in something she heard the humans call a backyard. She was terrified of this strange unknown location, choosing to hide behind a thick plant. He offered her a berry, a Cyndaquil and a Shinx encouraging her. She slowly approached them, and they patiently waited as she took a nibble. The berry was delicious, which made her sport a smile.

Gardevoir gives her trainer an adoring smile. That's the trainer who raised her. That's the trainer she wants back. That's the trainer all of six of them want back. Nevertheless, they'll always be by his side.

Brutalism was about mid-20th century.
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you should've known the price of evil
  1. inkay-shirlee
  2. houndoom-elliot
  3. yamask-joanna
  4. shuppet
  5. deerling-andre
Hello there. I've read Chapter One. I originally started it with the Review Tag in mind until someone beat me to it, but I was far enough to decide to finish and review anyway.

Unfortunately, I have a lot to critique. I like the premise and certain ideas here, but the prose and the characters have a lot of room for improvement. I'll try my best to explain why I think so and how I believe things could be improved.

Then, Valen notices a billboard atop one of the skyscrapers. His eyes slightly widen when he sees who's on the billboard: Melanie. Melanie and Valen were close friends in their childhood, and their friendship extended well into their teens and young adulthood. Despite their past, Valen's now staring at the billboard with apathy and indifference. She probably doesn't care about him anymore. It's not like it's anything new. In his mind, less so-called “friends” means less chances of experiencing further pain.
The first issue I have with the writing is how much telling there is. You may be familiar with the Show, Don't Tell principle - the idea that it tends to be more immersive to depict things that imply a certain fact rather than outright stating it. Spelling things out also has an effect of coming across as patronizing to the reader - implying that they aren't clever enough to put two and two together themselves and need to be explicitly told everything.

In this paragraph, we have the statement "Melanie and Valen were close friends in their childhood, and their friendship extended well into their teens and young adulthood". However, a close relationship like this is already inferable from Valen's surprise towards this woman on the billboard whom he addressed on a first-name basis. Furthermore, having ambiguity that is expected to be resolved later on in the chapter is also much more interesting for a reader - I'd be more engaged if their past was hinted at instead of outright explained. Due to both these reasons, the paragraph would be better without this statement.

she’s searched for her childhood friend, but she's lucked out so far.
After consulting some friends, it seems that "luck out" can refer to bad luck as well, but I've personally only seen it refer to good luck and it's very possible this will confuse other readers for the same reason.

Valen hasn’t missed a single day he started working here. He never talks about anything personal. It’s like all he knows is work and serious matters.
"It’s like all he knows is work and serious matters" sounds out of place in the narration both because it's very opinionated out of the blue and because the POV character in this scene is Valen who most likely wouldn't say this about himself.

what Sliph is to Kanto,

“However, we will have to cut this talk short—it seems that it was not just Cipher who paved the way for General Branko Pavlović’s regime.”
I don't know my history so I might be missing something, but why is there a Serbian dictator in Orre? Furthermore, the fact that there's a real politician by that name is a bit awkward.

Dimitri remarks as he adjusts his pearly white Hugo Boss suit.
The name-dropping of a real-life brand is strange when every other proper noun is something from Pokémon or original.

his pearly white dress pants.
His pants also being described as "pearly" white seems repetitive, and as far as I understand, "suit" refers to a set of clothing including pants so we already knew the color.

Melanie sits on a park bench in a quaint, quieter neighborhood that is a considerable distance away from downtown. This is the same neighborhood where both Valen and Melanie grew up in. As plants rustle in the wind, Melanie quietly waits for Valen, surrounded by people walking, laughing and talking. Melanie reminisces about her childhood and teenage years, noticing a pair of teenagers battling it out with a Druddigon and an Altaria. This sight makes Melanie nostalgic about the times Valen and her duked it out with their own dragons. “Dimitri told me that Valen said to meet him at our old spot, so I assume-” Melanie’s train of thought is interrupted as she hears a familiar roar close by. Melanie glances upwards, noting that the roar was intimidating enough to accidentally scare off a flock of Pidgey and Pidgeotto. Melanie immediately recognizes the roar—it's a Salamence. Another roar interrupts Melanie's train of thought as the Salamence comes into her line of sight. Once the dragon has landed, a group of kids marvel at this strong Pokémon.
Returning to my Show vs. Tell point: this is a good example of a paragraph that could be streamlined significantly by taking away explicit telling and honing away redundancies while letting the events speaks for themselves. Here's what I suggest:

Melanie sits on a park bench in a quaint, quieter neighborhood that is a considerable distance away from downtown. As plants rustle in the wind, Melanie quietly waits for Valen, surrounded by people walking, laughing and talking. She watches as a pair of teenagers battling it out with a Druddigon and an Altaria, reminiscing about how Valen and her used to duke it out with their own dragons in the very same park.

“Dimitri told me that Valen said to meet him at our old spot, so I assume-”

A familiar roar interrupts her train of thought. She glances upwards, looking for the source, but only sees a flock of Pidgey and Pidgeotto startled into flight by the noise. Another roar, and the Salamence flies into sight. Once the dragon has landed, a group of kids marvel at this strong Pokémon.
This edit also does away with the repetition of her train of thought being interrupted and adds some paragraph breaks for what I consider to be better dramatic timing.

Note that there is no mention of this being the neighborhood they grew up in. That's because there's plenty of other material to suggest this or something like it. Surely they wouldn't travel to an entirely different city just to battle in a park?

Melanie’s brown eyes lit up as she watches jumps off his Salamence. Then, one of Melanie’s Pokémon lets himself out of his Poké Ball. The Pokémon in question is her Dragonite. The two dragons are happy to see each other, giving each other a claw bump. These two dragons go way back, having had a close friendship and a friendly rivalry for many years.

“They haven’t seen each other in a while, so let em hang out. After all, it looks like they still have their dragon bromance,” Valen tells Melanie. As he sits next to her on the bench, Valen watches his Salamence and Melanie’s Dragonite playfully arguing over who’s the cooler dragon. Dragonite lets out a soft cry, telling Valen’s Salamence that he's cooler. Salamence laughs it off, softly roaring that he's the cooler dragon.

As the dragons playfully quarrel, Valen glances towards Melanie.
Another example: there is no reason to say "these two dragons go way back, having had a close friendship and a friendly rivalry for many years". This is crystal clear from the way they act.

"I always liked the old style of architecture here, since this area was first constructed and first inhabited in the late 18th century.”
This sentence is strange for two reasons. Firstly, the way it's constructed makes it sound like Valen liking the old style of architecture is dependent on the area being constructed and inhabited in the 18th century, while what I think you wanted to express is that the style of architecture is old because it was made in the 18th century. Secondly, this is just kind of a weird fact to casually bring up in this situation.

Melanie gasps, her becoming watery. “No....is that what you really think nowadays? Is that why.....nobody’s heard from you?”

“Yep, unless you can prove me wrong.” Valen’s gaze emits zero warmth.

Melanie’s at a loss for words, feeling like somebody just put heavy weights on her back. How did Valen become this callous and apathetic? Melanie sobs as she flashes back to the Valen that she remembers
Melanie sobbing here makes her seem very immature. I only know of little children sobbing in the middle of conversation when things don't go their way. Crying when angry is not uncommon - it happened to me a lot until my antidepressants made it stop - but sobbing is something adults only do when something very tragic has happened, like a close one's death or hospitalization, and even then it takes its time to set it through the denial. Sniffling is the kind of crying adults do when upset.

“Don't give me commands, and don’t ask me questions.” Valen rebukes, his voice emitting a harsh tone. "You're not my commanding officer in special forces.” Secretly, Valen does feels remorseful. He’s not a cruel person—he just can’t see the point of things like happiness and friendship in a world filled with despair, death, and destruction.
The narration here comes off as trying really hard to justify Valen's behavior and make the reader feel bad for him. Unfortunately, it just feels tacked on and manipulative. I'll get deeper into my issues with Valen later.

Furthermore, "he just can’t see the point of things like happiness and friendship in a world filled with despair, death, and destruction" parses like "he can't see the point of wanting to have good things in a world filled with bad things", which further makes him appear unreasonable.

Melanie's noticed that the two dragons have been looking at them, along with several other onlookers and Pokémon. Valen's attitude really irks and hurts her, but she decides that she’s got to calm down. “...Sorry, I got a little carried away...and I got upset,” Melanie admits, wiping away her tears. “Moving on, you said special forces. I'd like to know at least a little bit about that, assuming everything isn't top secret.”
Honestly, the way she reacted so dramatically I was surprised she didn't storm off, but now the conversation suddenly turns peaceful as they stop their fight to talk about Valen's army career.

Melanie thinks to herself, her eyebrows angled downwards
"Valen, I just said that I am not sure that I will attend," Dimitri chastises, his tone becoming more angry as his eyebrow angle downwards. "Even if I did, your mental health issues have rendered you unfit for such a task. Even intel might be too much for you nowadays."

Valen bows his head, his eyebrows curving downwards as his eyes become watery. "Sorry....I just....I just can't accept that I can't do it anymore."
"Eyebrows angled/curved downwards" is a very clunky, overly-technical way to describe an expression, especially when there is a simple, well-known word to describe this much more easily: frown.

Valen reveals the inside of his jacket, showing Melanie a gold medal shaped like a fang, and a purple medal shaped like a shield. “Compared to you, these are my only big achievements—the Fang of Valor, and the Purple Shield.”
"You are my achievement" is kind of a creepy thing to say.

“There’s quite an interesting dynamic between us,” Valen states, having deciding that he doesn’t want to talk about Orre anymore.

“What do you mean?”

“You blossomed and I withered, and yet here you are,”
A poetic phrase like “you blossomed and I withered" feels very out of place in natural conversation and also inconsistent with how Valen speaks in general in the chapter.

“I’m fine,” Melanie reassures her Dragonite, but she’s got an expression of uncertainty on her face. “....Should I be happy that I finally saw him again, or should I be sad that he’s no longer the person he used to be? It’s an odd situation to be in,” Melanie admits, sporting a frown. Melanie sheds a few tears, feeling like someone just put a heavy load on her. "That poor girl....Rosa, the popular girl whom finally found the right guy....after he entered her life. I feel bad for Valen too. He seems....he seems really depressed.”

Melanie wipes away her tears and goes silent for a brief moment. Dragonite looks on, wondering what his trainer's going to do. Then, Melanie smiles and forms a fist with her right hand. “I guess it’s up to us to bring back the old Valen, isn’t it?” Melanie turns to look at her Dragonite. “I’m sure you want another duel between dragons as well.” Dragonite's expression turns into one of confidence upon hearing his trainer utter these words. “Hopefully, his battle loving side’s still in there. More importantly, he needs to realize that people do care about him.”

Then, Melanie hears her phone ding. She goes to check her text messages, her eyes becoming watery again when she sees who sent this somber text. “...Why doesn’t he understand that Rosa’s not mad at him?” Melanie lets out a deep sigh as she replies to the text. “Rosa loves him so much, so-” Melanie’s cut off when her phone dings again. Melanie faintly smiles as she reads Rosa's latest message. “I admire the level of positively that she maintains. I need to have that same faith in Valen too. He's my childhood friend, after all.”
All of these lines of monologue should be thought rather than said. Real people do not have long speeches about their thoughts, and thus Melanie does not feel like a real person when she does this.

“Wait, why’d you tell me all of that if you were going to pull this shit on me?” Valen piques up. "Why tell me this information in the first place, Dimitri?”

“It is still important information, and I never said that you do not need to know this,” Dimitri replies. “What you need to know is that you are nor the only person who can handle this.”

“I still don’t get it, because this is a severe matter.”

“That doesn’t change the fact that there are others who can handle it. Besides, your mental health has not been in a good state,” Dimitri replies. “Valen, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take this seriously, but you’ve lost something big. I want you to figure out what you’ve lost as a result of solely focusing on work.”
"That is some surprisingly decent social progress on your part for once," Dimitri acknowledges with a faint chuckle. “Moving on, we have heard a rumor that the leader of The Kalos Connection plans to move operations here. There happens to be a gala that he is attending, albeit I am rather suspicious about its origins. I am not sure if I shall attend, as it may be too risky."

"When does this gala take place?" Valen asks.

"Two weeks from now." Dimitri feels a thickness in his throat—it's actually taking place in one week. Dimitri said two weeks because he's hoping that by then, Melanie will have gotten Valen to realize that a little bit of joy and fun in his life wouldn't hurt.

"Oh come on, what the hell am I supposed to do for two weeks?" Valen groans. "It's not like I have any close friends these days. Even if Melanie and I do hang out, it won't be easy to reconcile our old friendship."

"Valen, I just said that I am not sure that I will attend," Dimitri chastises, his tone becoming more angry as his eyebrow angle downwards. "Even if I did, your mental health issues have rendered you unfit for such a task. Even intel might be too much for you nowadays."
Both of these conversations confuse me for the same reasons. Dimitri gives Valen, an ex-soldier, information about the army and then either tells him not to do anything about it or that he's unsure whether Valen should do something about it. But if Valen isn't even in service anymore and is a civilian now, what would he even theoretically do about it? Is Dimitri's company keeping an illegal private army of their own? Or, if this is supposed to be legit, how is the army okay with giving out information this freely? And telling people they might be wanted for something in a week (but actually in two weeks, and I don't understand how lying about that would in any way be beneficial) but they're not sure? I never served in the army, but I got the impression that things are on a need-to-know basis and orders need to be clear. This army, legit or not, seems pretty incompetent.


Now's the time for me to talk about Valen. As the protagonist of the story and the source of its conflict, the way he's written is crucial to the story.

The idea that you had for him seems to be that he used to be this pretty nice guy before he had traumatic experiences in the army, which gave him PTSD and made him very cynical towards the world and other people. It seems he is also meant to have been very good soldier considering he served in "the military’s most elite unit".

Unfortunately, this is not the image I get. The image I get is of an angsty teenager that wears black leather clothing and a graphic tee with dragon eyes. One that has black spiky Goku hair. One that takes every situation he can to complain about the world and the people in it, how he's been hurt and how all his old friends probably hate him.

Sure, PTSD changes people and can make them act in unpleasant ways, but what I expect someone who's been mentally scarred to do is more to keep his emotions to himself to avoid being vulnerable rather than constantly spilling them out like this. The way he expresses himself is melodramatic and feels like it's fishing for pity and/or attention - typical teenager behavior. But he's supposed to be one of the army's best men. I don't think you suddenly forget all the order and discipline you need to have in the army once it's been such a strong part of your life. I also really question him being so good at being a soldier when he appears to only be twenty-something.

All of this and the lack of good traits in Valen make me strongly dislike him as a character, and that does not spell good for the story. An unlikable protagonist can work, but really only in two kinds of cases - one where he is clearly wrong both in and out of universe and our engagement comes from seeing reality teaching him a lesson, or one where he's set up against characters that are much worse so that he's the guy whose side we want to be on. Here, though, we only have Melanie to contrast him with, and while Melanie comes across as immature, she is clearly in the right for being upset at Valen's behavior... which makes it even more frustrating when the narrative then wants us to believe she's being unreasonably hostile towards Valen. Valen is framed as this troubled character we should feel sorry for when I didn't see him show any sympathetic traits outside a little self-pity and thinking people dying is bad. Really, I feel sorry for Melanie because it seems like she's going to have to deal with many of Valen's tantrums from now on.

The story also seems to have rather little focus on Pokémon and Pokémon-related things despite being a Pokémon story. For nearly the entire first half of the chapter, Pokémon aren't shown or discussed at all. Valen also completely leaves his Salamence out of his rants towards friendship, which makes it seem like he doesn't even acknowledge his own Pokémon's existence. This undermines one of the core draws and most explored elements of Pokémon - the relationship between Trainers and their Pokémon. It's a shame because my favorite part of this chapter was when the two dragons were interacting.

You mentioned your newer chapters being better than your older chapters, and if that's so, that's good to hear. But in any case, I hope my commentary can be of some help. In the end, we all want to tell our stories the best we can.


Pokémon Trainer
Thank for the feedback.

The advice definitely did help. I’ll see what I can do. I’ll fix the scenes with Dimitri and Valen’s character, plus I’ll see if I can squeeze in any Pokemon talk. However, I may have to put a limit on how much I change, so that could mean a limit on what I implement from your comment. I’ll definitely fix up Valen and the Pokémon part as best as I can without affecting too much in the other chapters. I feel like I’ll have to stop revising eventually and just leave it as “take it as it is” beyond minor changes, adding detail, or changes to show something better like the you suggested. With that said, I really need to consult that writer’s library on a more regular basis.

Dimitri has no army, but he does want to protect his region. There's actually more to this, but you'd have to get to Chapter 13 for that. I do think that it can be worded better, though.

Pokemon get talked about more later on, and Valen eventually realizes that his behavior’s shitty, and regrets it. He keeps getting proven wrong over and over again.

I didn’t realize that the dictator’s name was a real name for a politician.

Real life brands do appear in the fic. EDIT: There's a way to make this more "in-universe." Armani, Gucci, Versace, etc are all surnames.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 5: Self-Confidence & Self-Esteem

It's early evening, and Valen's strolling down a concrete sidewalk. He's on his way to the Liniya Corporation's privately owned battle arena, located close to the company's main headquarters in downtown. In fact, one can see the towering skyscrapers, including the company's headquarters, from this area.

This area isn't too busy, despite it's location. There's road and foot traffic, but it's nothing like nearby downtown. It's still less than than usual amount of foot traffic in this area. Scattered within this ocean of people are various Pokémon, such as a Rowlet, a Chikorita, a Chimchar, a Luxio, and an Elekid. Interestingly, there's a female Pyroar, a Scyther and a Sneasel among the people and other Pokémon as well.

Huh, there's a vintage car with the soft top up. It's not everyday one sees a Kadillak V-16 Cabriolet on the road. This grand luxury roadster of the 1930s is finished with an orange body, brown fenders, and brown running boards. There's another 1930s vehicle present. This one, a Serperbaker Coupe Express, is finished in gray. It's an interesting combination of a coupe and a pickup trick.

As the vintage vehicles slowly drive out of his sight, he flashes back to a vacation in Kalos. His grandfather once picked Rosa, Hilda, and him up in a 1933 Lagunnda 3 Litre. Good looking luxury car, and he still thinks that the black roof compliments the dark green body well.

Wait, it happened again! He was perfectly fine when Hilda came to mind. What's happening to him? Why's he scared about encountering her if thinking about her doesn't cause him to panic? Over his heart his right hand goes, his feelings for both Rosa and Hilda locked within there for safekeeping.

A few minutes later, the arena's within eyesight Then, he hears his cell phone ding. He takes it out from the right pocket of his Guzmani pants. Melanie...she's sorry? He reads Melanie admitting that she should've been nicer to him on the day they met Arthur. His behavior wasn't great either. He texts her that he's sorry too.

Melanie texts a thumbs up emoji, stating that she's got to eat dinner. Valen and her text they love the other, putting his phone back in his right pocket afterwards. He wants and needs to re-pay her, it's the least he can do for his longtime friend. Maybe he could lend her a hand with historical fiction, or help to promote whichever novel she publishes first? Her manuscript box is more filled up than Silver's hot sauce cabinet, which says a lot.

He turns his attention towards the mid-rise buildings, the colors ranging from Jazz Age to Apollo White. However, his favorites are Postmodernist Pokémon buildings. He's standing across the street from one right now—Frank Gibson's office building that's shaped and styled like a Gengar. He recalls that the red eyes and the teeth are translucent glass windows, and that the toes are the entrances and exits. Of course, other windows are present in various parts of the building too. Close to the Gengar building's a restaurant that's shaped and styled like a Typhlosion on all fours. He recalls that Alfio Rossi chose this Pokémon because the restaurant was and is owned by a Johto family of chefs.

He spots Dimitri standing next to arena's gate. He saunters step by step, feeling a quiver within him. As he gets closer to the arena, he sees that the gate's been built in a nineteenth-century style. He keenly eyes the ornate patterns in the center, then he eyes the extravagantly finished spires on the top of the gate. This is a cool twist to a modern public arena.

"Ah, you're here." Dimitri's face sports a stern expression. "Thanks for coming." He's glad that Valen showed up, because he needs to confirm something.

"Sup?" Valen asks, a hard gulp occurring. "You wanted to see me, so here I am."

"Would you mind having a battle with me?" He asks, holding a Poké Ball in his right hand. "I apologize for this sudden and unusual request."

Valen's unsure what to make of this request. Not once has Dimitri requested a Pokémon battle with him. He's well aware that a prevalent rumor in the region is that Dimitri is actually stronger than the region's champion. Another rumor he's heard is that Dimitri's got a legendary. Will he have to face that legendary?

This request feels pointless to Valen when he knows he's going to lose. The sound of Dimitri unlocking the gate puts a halt to his dwelling for now. The gate's door opens into two, causing a loud creaking noise to echo. Dimitri enters the arena, this position at one end of the arena. Valen takes a few steps towards the, then halts. He takes several deep breaths to relax, not wanting his team to worry about him. That's easier said than done as of late, sadly.

"...Alright, but you'll have to tell me why afterwards," Valen states, sauntering into the arena. "

"Very well," Dimitri replies, sporting a stern expression. "I shall tell you why after the battle, regardless of the outcome."

Valen closes the gates, which cause a bang as both sides return to being one. He walks to the opposite end of the arena. Valen turns around to face Dimitri, grabbing a Poké Ball from the inside of his black leather jacket.

His hand and legs shake, but he may as well give it try. "Typhlosion, you're up."

Valen presses the button on the Poké Ball to let his Pokémon out. Typhlosion appears with no flames on her back and her eyes closed, but the flames on her back shoot upwards. The ferocious Fire-type Pokémon opens her eyes, bearing her fangs. Her glare could pierce the courage of anyone who wasn't strong. A belligerent roar that's akin to an erupting volcano follows seconds later.

"Let's get this battle started," Valen tells Dimitri, while "I shall use my Haxorus."

Dimitri presses the button on his Poké Ball to let his Pokémon out. Haxorus lets out a mighty roar, shockwaves rippling through the ground and air. Haxorus and Typhlosion stare each other down, both ready to duke it out like martial artists.

Given her facial expression, Dimitri suspects that this Typhlosion's not one to forfeit. "Use Hone Claws."

Haxorus's red talons glow and extend outward, a red aura surrounding him. The aura dissipates, and the talons return to normal size. Haxorus roars, feeling even stronger now.

"Use Flamethrower and Fire Punch."

With an self-confident, taunting grin, Typhlosion launches a red-orange stream of fire from her mouth at Haxorus. Haxorus is hit by Typhlosion's Flamethrower attack, but is undeterred and is more than ready to strike back. Typhlosion's left hand is surrounded by flames, and Typhlosion charges at Haxorus. This time, Dimitri won't let the attack hit, smirking as he readies to command a counterattack.

"Use Earthquake."

Typhlosion attempts to strike Haxorus with her Fire Punch attack, but Haxorus jumps and the attack misses its mark. Then, Haxorus lands back down and a wave of white shockwaves, powerful enough to make the battle arena slightly shake. The shockwaves careens towards Typhlosion, who's having trouble maintaining her balance. The white shockwaves hit Typhlosion, and are strong enough to send her slamming into the ground. Typhlosion refuses to be defeated so easy, standing up and letting out another belligerent roar. Despite this show of strength, she's still reeling from the attack she just took.

This battle really does feel one-sided to Valen. He keenly studies both his Typhlosion and Dimitri's Haxorus, feeling sick to his stomach. Typhlosion's going to be hurt because they lost, and it'll be his fault. He's such a failure.

"Use Dragon Claw."

As Typhlosion's reels from the Earthquake attack, both Haxorus's claws glow light green. Haxorus lunges at Typhlosion, slashing the Fire-type Pokémon in the face. Typhlosion staggers backwards, kneeling over. She nearly falls to the ground, but she can't let this happen. This is a tough opponent, but she's got to keep on fighting. She needs to try to ensure that her trainer doesn't give up.

"Use Flamethrower."

Typhlosion's able to pull herself together, going down on all fours. A belligerent roar echoes, then a red-orange stream of fire is launched her mouth. As Haxorus falls back, Flamethrower strikes him in the black portion of his chest. As he staggers backwards, the dragon's engulfed by flames, taking additional damage from the infliction.

"Use Fire Punch."

Typhlosion notes that his tone's gotten dull. Nevertheless, she charges at Haxorus, her right hand enveloped by flames. She lands a right hook to Haxorus' face, sending the dragon stumbling sideways. Haxorus falls to the ground, but is able to get back up. Haxorus lets out a booming roar, causing Typhlosion to respond with another belligerent roar.

"...Use Flamethrower again."

A sense of dread overcomes Typhlosion, but she complies. She fires off a red-orange stream of fire at Haxorus, striking him in the face. He pulls himself together, but his mouth falls open seconds later. He senses that something's very wrong with his opponent's trainer.

"...It doesn't matter," Valen's head beginning to thump. He clutches his head, the pain becoming difficult to manage. His legs are becoming more restless too.

Typhlosion's eyes widen, realizing that her fear's come true. No, no no no! Valen, you're strong! Don't forfeit, please don't forfeit


Typhlosion narrows her eyes, letting out belligerent roar. Valen goes quiet, taking his hands off of his head. This marking the second time one of his Typhlosion's panting, while Haxorus doesn't seem to be breaking a sweat.

Dimitri and Haxorus look on, unsure what to do, but Typhlosion roars that they better not call it off. She hates forfeiting, even if the odds of winning are low. In response, Haxorus roars that she's got his respect for refusing to surrender. Haxorus turns towards Dimitri and nods. Then, he turns to face Typhlosion and her trainer again.

"Use Hone Claws again."

For a second time, Haxorus's red talons glow and extend outward. A red aura appears and surrounds him, the dragon letting out a booming roar. Several seconds later, the aura vanishes and the talons return to normal size.

"...Use Flamethrower." The thumping of his headache increases.


Haxorus's eyes glow dark red, and a dark red aura emits from his entire body. Haxorus charges at Typhlosion, dashing from left to right to avoid all of Typhlosion's attempt to strike him with a red-orange stream of fire. Before Valen and Typhlosion know it, Haxorus is already in front of the latter. He repeatedly strikes and slashes the Fire-type with his black and red tusks. Typhlosion bellows, staggering backwards. She still refuses to forfeit.

Valen closes his eyes, words unable to come out of his mouth. She still refuses to forfeit, even when he want to, even when there's little chance to win. She hasn't changed, but he has.

Eventually, Haxorus ceases his attack and jumps backwards. Typhlosion crashes into the ground, a thud echoing throughout the field. Tears begin to drip down Typhlosion's face. soaking the ground below. Even if this opponent was stronger, there had to be more that she could've done. It's not like it would've made a difference. Even if she could've counter that attack, she felt her will to fight slipping away.

She can't make eye contact with him. She failed him, she failed the trainer who raised her from a Cyndaquil. Just like Salamence, she too feels powerless to help Valen. Why are they so weak?


Nausea burns within Valen's body. He let his Typhlosion down, and it makes him want to puke. Dimitri and his Haxorus looking concerned as well. What should he do? How does he respond?

Valen takes several deep breaths to ease his anxiety. Then, slowly approaches his Typhlosion. "...I don't like this either." He faintly smiles, patting her head. "But I'm still proud of you."

Typhlosion goes on all fours, nuzzling Valen's midsection. Valen pets her head, causing her to let out a affectionate roar.

"Good girl, Valen closes his eyes, his smile now a grin. "Win or lose, I still love all six of you." He faintly laughs when he feels Typhlosion licking his face. He continues to pet her, her delighted cry music to his ears.

"Is everything okay?" Dimitri asks, recalling his Haxorus. He re-attaches the ball onto his brown belt.

"She's always okay in the end." Valen re-opens his eyes. "Get some rest." He recalls Typhlosion back into her ball. "Next time…I give you my word. "He places the ball back inside his black leather jacket. He takes a deep breath, then he stares at Dimitri. "So, why the battle request?" he asks. "This isn't like you, not to mention there are way stronger opponents than me that would give you a bigger challenge."

"I requested a battle with you to test you," Dimitri explains. "I apologize for the trouble that I have caused you and your Typhlosion."

"...Test me?"

"Valen, strength is not the only thing that matters," Dimitri advises. "Your self-esteem has been shattered, just like I have been suspecting."

Valen's eyes slightly widen, his body trembling. "Dimitri-"

"Your mental health has even taken a toll on your trainer skill and your Pokémon," Dimitri continues. "If you ever wish to return to full power, you will have to reconsider some of your choices."

"Well, there's also Rosa."

"Rosa Whitley?" he asks. "The popular Unovan trainer and social media star?"

"The most wholesome social media star ever." His voice carries a faint proud tone. "She's coming to Calvana again."

"That does not surprise me, she is a borderline A-list star in Unova."

"Rosa's a vivacious girl, but you probably already knew that," he remarks. "She's quite the people person as well...I'll suck it up...it's worth it."

"If you do happen to come across her, please bring her to the company's headquarters." Dimitri strolls towards the gate, opening it. Once again, a loud creaking noise echoes. "For now, I suppose that you should get going," he tells Valen. "Thank you for the battle."

"Will do, I'll see you around."

"Valen, do not forget that you're still on indefinite vacation." Dimitri smirks. "I better not see you for a while after you bring your friend to the company's headquarters."

"Yeah yeah, I know."

As Valen walks out of the arena, Hilda comes to his mind again. Wholesome social media star applies to Hilda too. He doesn't know why he's okay when thinking about her, but loses it whenever he thinks about running into her.

A ding interrupts his dwelling. He takes his phone out, and upon reading this message, his broadly smile. He feels like jumping into the air for the first time in a little while. He's got a good reason to be happy—Rosa's flight to Angel City leaves early in the morning. The string of grin emojis she sent him is a clear indicator. She'll explore for a few days, and she teases him to come look for her. Challenge accepted, ball of fluff.

Rosa texts that both may of them need a few days, because this reunion will overwhelm their emotions. He responds with a thumbs up, only for to Rosa reply with a text where she repeats the nickname "Valey" twenty times, followed by a string of happy emojis. This is typical Rosa at work. She's called him Valey since the day they met each other as kids. He's hopeful that Rosa and him can become official again. They never broke up, but a relationship needs communication. He feels that he can't consider them "together" until he fixes his mess.

Before he can put his phone away, it rings. When he sees who it is, he smirks. Make that two exceptions. He answers the call, holding his phone up to his right ear. "How'd the brooding contest go?"

"Shut up." Silver chuckles. "Been a while."

"How've you been?"

"Humph, I should be asking you that."

"I wish I could say that I was doing better." Valen sighs, feeling a knot within his stomach.

"You'll get there," Silver encourages. "If I can do it, so can you."

"...Heh, you act all tough, but you're a kind person." Time to lighten up the mood. "You win anything lately, or have you started to suck?"

"I defeated Norman of the Elite Four," Silver brags, his tone smug. "I'd rather not talk about Champion Zinnia, though."

A devious smile spontaneously appears on Valen's face. It's faint, but it's something. "I seem to remember that your Feraligatr has a thing going on with a Meganium." He taps his chin. "Lemme see...the trainer's name was...Kristen? Crystal?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Aha, it's Kris!" It's nice to have a little fun again.

"NO IT'S NOT!" Silver uses Hyper Voice, but it doesn't affect the opposing Valen. "WE'RE JUST FRIENDS!"

"...Did you just admit to having a crush by mistake?" Only Silver would be this oblivious.

Laughing can be heard on Silver's end, followed by running and a door slamming shut. There's two bubbly female voices, plus a energetic male voice. Are they the so-called The Three Stooges of Johto?

As he chats with a now riled up Silver, Valen's mind spontaneously back to when he first learned that Zinnia became champion. Steven Stone had stepped down to focus on archaeology, petrology, being a sculptor and being an author. Steven's sculptures look like they time traveled from antiquity, the Renaissance, and the Baroque era to the present day. People don't call him contemporary Hoenn's Timeaus, Phylades, Donatello Bezio, Gianluigi Bernini, Michelangelo Bellincioni, and/or Lorenzo Da Vinci for nothing.

His passions keep him going, as do his team. Melanie and Rosa gave him more hope too. Fate hasn't fully decided whether the road he's traveling down leads to the light of reconciliation, or if the road's closed off beyond the shadows of regret. He may have lost that battle, but this one's another story. However, he's got to try and keep Dr. Whitley's treatment plan in mind as much as possible, no matter how hard pushing forward is for him.

Angel City International Airport's bustling with traffic that's causing a conglomerate of noises. Among them are people greeting each other or saying their good-byes, the clanging of baggage carts repeating as the wheels roll, Pokémon are helping workers and passengers, travelers consult the digital screens for information on various flights, and the passengers of a flight from Aspertia City to Angel City entering through a gate.

One passenger's bubbly voice can be heard within that gate's corridor. Despite having a population of about half a million, just about anybody from Aspertia City would recognize that voice.

A young adult brunette wearing a pink and white visor comes into sight. "For those visiting for the first time, you'll have a great time here!" She's got a big smile. "For the rest of you, welcome back or welcome home!"

She wants to be a bigger star trainer, a more famous painter, maybe even a theatre and film actress. She's got big dreams, but she's got an even bigger wish. She rests her right hand over her heart, a tidal wave of euphoria surges within her. There's somebody near and dear to her heart that needs her. He never has to worry about her leaving his side. She wishes that he was here to greet her with one of his relaxing hugs, but she understands that it's not so easy.

"Thanks for making the flight so enjoyable," a mother says, causing the young woman to twirl to face her.

"You made the little guy's day," her husband adds.

"Thank you, Miss Rosa!" The couple's young son waves.

"You're welcome, have a nice vacation!" Rosa waves back, twirling again.

Loud flight announcements, luggage wheels rolling, footsteps, chatter, laughter, and various other sounds echo and surround her. Men and women in employee uniforms are performing various tasks, such as informing lost travelers where the food court is, pushing and pulling carts full of luggage.

An adorable Shinx's meowing at his trainer for more treats, while two guys showing each other their Gyarados and Venusaur figures respectively, l. Oh no, a departing flight to Brugesstad has been delayed! She wants to give out free smiles, but she has super duper important matters to attend to!

Wait, she can still give out free smiles! Here comes her infinite energy! "There's nooooo time to question my moves! I stick to the path that I chooseeee!" Her tone's melodious, her elbows bent as she forms fists. "The Rosa Force's going to do it right! You'll never see us run away from a fight! Being a star here is my dream, and all I've got to do is believe! And I believeeee!"

"Rosa!" A female onlooker shouts from a row of seats. "I love your white and blue top!"

Rosa turns around to greet her fan. Well, fans. There are several people who've taken note of presence. Several of them have pulled out their cell phones to record. They can't believe that Rosa's walking around like everybody else, but that's a plus to them.

"You're such a strong trainer!" her male companion exclaims. "Welcome to Calvana!"

"I've lived abroad he before." Rosa's eyes twinkle. "What's my fanbase called again?" She winks with her right eye. "I conveniently forgot."

Tee-hee, they're all shouting Rosa Force! She clasps her hands next to her right cheek, her eyes sparkling. Her fanbase's so awesomeeee!

"You look great in those black leggings!" A female trainer with a Squirtle gushes. "I love those yellow shorts too!"

"A queen's got to look her best." She shows off her dark blue nail polish, her other set of fingers touching the bottom of her neck. "Rosa's the queen, after all." she smirks. "The cutest and prettiest queen."

A pair of onlookers are chatting about how cool it is that there's Unovan pizza at this airport! She waves at her fans, they know she's got to go eat some of that pizza! Unovan pizza wins every time! It's a million billion trillion times better than deep dish pizza! The wide ceiling sign on her right's pointing to where the food court is. First, she's got to go to pick up her luggage at the baggage claim. That's what the other arrow's pointing towards.

Kaaaay, let's stop being so goofy and get serious! Serious about more fun, that is! She's got a chance to win, she's on my way to victory! Rosa Force! She can make everybody smile if she believes! She's on a Rosa Quest, and she want the whole world to see that she believes! She's gonna be among Calvana's best, and all she's got to do is believe in her! Rosa Force! Her sweetie and her will be together again too! She'll be the sunlight that brightens his darkest days!
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 6: Reunited With Rosa

The morning sun shines over a giant plaza that's currently jam packed with trainers. This is to be expected—news of Rosa's presence in Angel City's rapidly spread within the couple of days since her arrival. This popular girl and her Serperior are currently battling a male trainer and his Arbok. Arbok attempts to wrap its around the green serpentine, hissing at the smirking Grass-type.

Rosa folds her arms, tilting her head back. "I'm afraid that the play's reached it's climax," she remarks. "Use Frenzy Plant."

Serperior's body glows dark green, the serpentine slamming her tail onto the ground. This causes massive roots with dozens of thorns dotting them to spring up all around a wide-eyed Arbok. All the roots coverage and slam into Arbok at once. Arbok staggers, while Serperior pauses due to the secondary effect of Frenzy Plant.

"Finish this with Iron Tail!"

Serperior's smirk evolves into a cocky grin. Her tail glows metallic green, and she swings it right into Arbok's upper body. Arbok's sent hurling backwards, slamming onto the ground in defeat.

"Woo-hoo!" Rosa broadly grins, twirling twice. Her Serperior lets out a prideful cry.

"Argh, she doesn't mess around!" Arbok's trainer exclaims, recalling his Pokémon.

Rosa does a twirl to check out the crowd. Everyone's got a smirk, smile or grin, which makes her grin even winder. "Go, go, go, go Rosa!" She takes her phone out of her pink purse. Serperior joins her trainer, and Rosa pats her on the head.

Rosa turns her back the camera, giving a cocky wink. Serperior decides to wink too, the bright light of the phone's camera flashes several times. "Come on, Rosa Force!" She calls out to the crowd. "Join me!"

She broadly grins when several male and female trainers, along with a Charmeleon, a Sylveon, a Gliscor, a Butterfree, and a Galarian Ponyta, happily dash towards her. Rosa faces the camera, holding her left hand sideways over her forehead. The other trainers, plus all of the Pokémon, do their own poses. She winks again, sticking out her left index and ring fingers.

"Rosa Force!" Everybody shouts, all of the Pokémon letting out delighted cries. Once more, Rosa's phone's camera flashes several times.

"Thanks for letting us join you in the photos," Charmeleon's male trainer states. "And for always being friendly to your fans,"

"That's just how I roll," Rosa exchanges a smile with Serperior as she recalls the Grass-type. "You can find me in Old Downtown!" She clasps her hands next to her left cheek. "Nobody's allowed to frown!" She darts out of the plaza and onto a walkway, her steps having a bounce to them. "You can find me in the club!" She exchanges waves with her fans. "My club of smiles!"

She notes that people are still watching her and recording her. Rosa waves to them, her eyes gleaming when she sees that the smiles have followed yet again.

"A girl from Aspertia in a big region to seeeeee!" she cheers. "Don't know what it'll hold, but it won't get the best of meeee!" She stops to twirl. "There's so much to learn and battles to be woooooon! I've advanced so far but there's always more to comeeeee!" Another twirl for good measure. "Take a step and I'm on my way! I'm gonna start all over again!"

Uh oh, her phone's dinging like a doorbell! She goes to check who's calling. She giggles upon seeing Silver's name in the caller id. She picks up, exclaiming, "Hi there!"

"Finally, you picked up," Silver remarks in a slightly annoyed tone.

"Sorry!" Rosa giggles, her voice increasing in pitch. "I was having lots of battles and doing lots of exploring!"

"Acceptable reason."

Rosa dallies down the concrete walkway. She's going to keep being happy for everyone's sake. Wherever she goes, smiles follow. Even Silver, the one whom Kris has dubbed "The Scrooge of Johto," is forbidden to frown around her..

Within Old Downtown, Valen saunters down a cobblestone plaza walkaway, as there's no roads that pass through this part of Angel City. Valen glances at the wall-to-wall Gothic Revival buildings he passes, noting the conical roofs, polychrome brickwork, and arched windows of the aged structures. He eyes the colors that these historic buildings are finished in, such as middle brown, golden brown, maroon, and royal maroon. As he saunters by the area's Pokémon Center that doubles as a hotel, his turns his head rightwards. He starts by looking at the intricate placement of the bricks that all of these buildings share, his gaze moving upwards to the clock tower with an ornate spire. The clock itself has a geometric swirl pattern within the circle.

Valen resumes his back, recalling that these buildings date back to the 19th century. The air around him is filled with the aroma of various foods, such as spicy noodles, chocolate, and pizza fresh from the oven. However, he's not in Old Downtown to grab a bite to eat.

Valen hears his phone ringing, and he takes it out. When he sees that it's Melanie, he picks up. "Sup?"

"Sorry, I've been busy." Melanie sighs. "I'm tired."

"Too tired to write?"

"Believe it or not, yes." Melanie sighs. "Also, can I go one day where hanging out with a guy doesn't result in the obvious question."

"What'd you expect?" Valen teases. "Look in the mirror."

"This is all your fault." Melanie chuckles.

"I regret nothing." He wants all of the hugs and cuddles, while she wants to hear how good she looks. "You can can stay home and rest." His voice emits a softer tone. "I'm looking for her."

"I'll see you soon." Her tone's soft and proud. "I love you, bestie."

"Alright, love you too."

Some people just won't give up, even when the other person's someone like himself. As for Rosa, he hope that she's okay with the current him. A phone call isn't exactly the same as an in person encounter.

Oops, he just passed the square arena in-between four large buildings. Before he can turn back, his eyes catch a familiar poster attached to a black Gothic lightpost. As his muscle tense up, Valen takes several deep breaths to call himself down. This is the second time he's seen a poster for the BW Agency. This one's got the same photo of Hilda on it. What's fate up to this time?

This time, he solely focuses on the photo of his old friend. That black waistcoat, those denim shorts, that hat, those black ankle shoes. That was her favorite outfit when he first met her, and she looks really good in it. His head thumps, his mind a jumbled mess. Why's he scared of Hilda? What's preventing him pushing past his fear? How was he able to DM her, but has since become scared of doing that? He's glad that she's doing well, but this damn paranoia's gonna ruin their friendship.

A few seconds later, he walks backwards until he's standing by the entrance walkway. Well, one of them. Two other districts have entrance walkways to it too. Unlike the one he went to with Melanie, this one's got a large, reinforced concrete area with walls designed to shield buildings from damage. It's also a considerable distance away from the buildings, the opposite site of it being the shoreline. If Rosa's in Old Downtown, he knows that she'll definitely be in here.

He strolls down the pathway and onto the field immediately recognizes Rosa via one of her favorite accessories: her white and pink visor. Much to his surprise, there aren't any trainers around, except for Rosa.

As her long brown bangs sway due to a slight breeze, She leans back against the concrete wall. Her gaze is fixated on the Poké Ball plastered on her top's upper center. Not many people have showed up in this spot, and that's no fun. How can she give out free smiles when so few come?

She's still a stunner. That white and ice blue top, the pink fabric around her neck indicating that she still wears that pink top underneath. Those signature mustard yellow shorts and black legging. She looks so pretty in her favorite Grimsley Lauren clothes. However, now's not the time for this. He's gotta get that cute smile back onto her face.

"Seems like few came, huh?" Valen moves closer to her, his faint smile one of adoration. "Does this guy's presence make up for it?" He points to himself. "It's your boy."

That voice's mellisonant, that breath a cool mist bouncing off of Rosa's face. A waterfall of euphoria begins to thunder within her, her skin tingling all over. Finally...all that optimism paid off...like she believed it would.

"It's...you...in the...flesh."

Her watery eyes can't be taken off of him. His casual attire hasn't changed at all. Black leather jacket, black pants, and a gunmetal gray shirt. All from Guzmani. His black hair's messier than she remembers and his face looked a little pale at first, but her dashing knight's still got it. He still has that cool alluring voice that adds to both his gentleman and his bad boy vibe.

"Come on, what happened to those free smiles?" Valen folds his arms, tilting his head while smirking. "Give out two to the badasses standing right here."

Her gaze pierce the shadows within him, and there's love in there. Love, something he truly misses deep down. Her gaze still emits how much she loves him. He slowly approaches Rosa, extending his arms with his elbows bent. He doesn't need to say it.

Forget frowning, she's got an ear-to-ear grin! "Valeeeeeeeeeey!" She dashes towards Valen like a Ninjask using Agility. "Hiiiiiii!"

Before he even knows it, she slides her arms around Valen's neck. As his eyes moisten up, Valen's mouth curves into a faint smile. Rosa makes it way too hard to resist smiling. He wraps his arms around Rosa's midsection, a boulder being kicked off of his shoulders. His body threw all of that tension into a dumpster the instant it felt her gentle touch. Time has stopped, or at least it feels that way to him. Perhaps Dialga's still listening to his singing about her after all these years. Heh, Rosa must still think they're Dialga's OTP.

"I missed you so much, sweetie." The warmth's flowing through Rosa feels like a Blast Burn attack. "I knew you would be back, and I was right." Rosa kisses Valen on the lips, which sends a Thunder Shock throughout his body. "Oooooh, somebody's blushing." She giggles at his slightly reddened face.

Valen fakes a scowl, trying to pull off his best Silver impression. "Humph, you don't let go of me, we can't have a Pokémon battle." His genuine smile kicks the fake scowl out. "The Rosa that I know jumps at the chance to battle."

"You aren't escaping meeee just yet!" She bops his forehead with her forehead. "Nice impression, by the way!"

He's still got it. "Uh oh, it looks like somebody is afraid of losing to me," Valen teases, his smile turning into a grin. "Did Battle Queen Rosa get rusty?"

Rosa and Valen let go of each other, and Rosa takes a few steps backwards. "I'm going to defeat you, then you'll be unable to escape me!" She spontaneously gaps, her smile becoming sheepish. "I...uh...I forgot to tell you that I'd arrived." She rubs the back of her head. "Sorry."

"You sent me like fifteen pictures of yourself among the one hundred fifty seven text notifications."

"Ooooh, you're right." Rosa giggles. "I'm soooooooooo silly."

"I did challenge you to see who finds who first." His fresh-faced ball of fluff can brighten anybody's day, even the two brooders they both know. "Battle time."

"Kaaaaaaaay, you're on!" Rosa twirls in a full circle. "Battle Queen Rosa's in the house!"

Valen and Rosa stand on opposite sides of the arena, each of them holding a Poké Ball in her right hand. Rosa wastes no time, jumping up and presses the button on the front to let out her Serperior. The elegant green serpentine lets out a prideful cry, having won seven battles between yesterday and today. Her eyes widen upon seeing Valen, but a smile soon follows. It's about time these two reunited.

"So, many battles have you won within the last two hours?"

"Yeah, I know what you're thinking." Rosa's mouth falls open, pointing her right hand sideways under her chin and sticking her thumb out. "Did she win six battles, or only five?" She pretends to be serious by lowering her eyebrows and looking stern.

Valen blinks, his confused face making Rosa giggle. Good thing he's not blushing or being dorky...he just jinxed it, didn't he?

Tee-hee, a wild grin appeared! "Roooosa lost track of the amount because of all the excitement!"

"...Heh, I'll always love your energy." Good thing he can somehow keep up with her.

"Let's get down to business!" Rosa moves from side to side, moving her fists in and out. "Serperior's been on a win streak!"

"Hmph, I'm still the big bad trainer," he teases. "I'll use Gengar."

Valen presses the button on the Poké Ball to let his Pokémon out. The grinning red-eyed ghost lets out a sinister snicker and flexes his arms like he's a human bodybuilder, showing that he's ready to battle.

Rosa narrows her eyes, her body leaning forward. "Ooooh, so that means I get to defeat you while you have a type advantage." She smirks, her hands on her hips. "It's time to get this play started!"

Valen gestures for her to come and get him, his Gengar flexing again.

"Serperior, boost the queen's forces with Growth!"

A light green aura of energy begins to form and surround Serperior, who lets out a battle cry. The aura glows brighter and brighter, her power increasing. Eventually, the light green aura dissipates. Serperior smugly smirks as she holds her head up high.

"Good choice, but will the boost really be enough to win?"

"Tee-hee, we'll find out!" Rosa twirls, raising her left fist above her head. "Use Energy Ball!"

Serperior opens her mouth and a glowing, light green orb of energy begins to form in front of it.

"Gengar, use Shadow Ball."

At the same time, Gengar places his hands in front of his body, a black and purple sphere of energy forming in-between his hands. Gengar uses his left hand to launch his sphere of energy at Serperior, who fires off her orb at the exact same time. Both attacks collide with each other at great speed, causing them to cancel out. The collision causes a medium explosion, and smoke bellows as a result.

"Ice Punch."

As the smoke fully clears out, Gengar charges at Serperior via the air with his right hand, which glows icy blue. However, Rosa smiles with determination. She's prepared to counter.

Rosa bends her elbows while forming fists. "Leaf Blade!" She makes punching motions. "Wham, bam, bow!"

The three leaves on Serperior's tail glows light green, Oozing with pride, she swings her tail to block the Ice Punch attack. Gengar's nearly pushed back, but his footing remains. Gengar and Serperior glare at each other with a fierce determination to come out on top, both Pokémon struggling to push the other back.

"I see that you're still a formidable opponent," Valen compliments. "Fun and I don't mix that often anymore, but we'll see."

"Oh, is that so?" Rosa teases, her dark blue eyes fixated on both Valen and the battle. "I don't think you'll be saying that anymore!"

Valen smiles, folding his arms. "Gengar, fall back and use Sludge Bomb."

Gengar backs up, and Serperior swings her tail again in an attempt to strike Gengar with her Leaf Blade attack, but Gengar's able to evade it just in time. Then, Gengar opens his mouth and fires off a barrage of brown sludge, each one having a glowing purple aura enveloping them. Serperior is struck just under her coiled dark green extensions that form a V shape under her head. She's sent reeling from the attack, the front half of her body bowing downward. She glows purple, bubbles of the same color floating all over her lengthy body.

"Uh oh, that might not be a good sign for us!" Rosa knows what's coming next.

"Use Hex."

Gengar's mouth falls open, the grinning ghost letting out an eerie laugh. His red eyes glow, a giant and menacing pair of blood red eyes appearing above him. The eyes begins to glow, causing a blood red aura to form and envelop Serperior. She lets out a distressed yelp as the aura becomes thicker, looking like it's sapping away her vitality.

Rosa places her left hand over her gaping mouth, her eyes twitching. "W-Why does Hex have to look sooooo scary?!"

Valen's unsure why Rosa's spooked by a move she's seen many times. Eh, she'll chill out soon enough. "Ice Punch again." Pun intended for his own amusement.

Gengar's right hand glows icy blue, and he charges at Serperior. This time, Gengar lands a blow to Serperior's face, sending the Grass-type Pokémon reeling further.

Rosa tightens her fists, her mouth curving into a confident grin. "We won't go down so easily!" She swings her left hand from right to left. "Giga Drain!"

Before Gengar can back away, Serperior entire body glows with a green aura. Four large streams of energy extend outwards and latch onto Gengar. The energy streams glow a brighter green as Serperior sucks away Gengar's own health to heal itself. Gengar closes his eyes and his sinister smile curves downward as it attempts to endure this attack. Eventually, the energy streams fade away, as does the glow enveloping Serperior. Gengar falls to the ground. Several seconds later, he's able to get back onto his feet.

"Brutal Swing!"

As Gengar attempts to regain his focus, Serperior's tail glows dark green. She extends her tail and does a full rotation at a rapid velocity. Her tail slams Gengar in his face the Ghost-type hurling backwards. He falls on his back, struggling to get back on his feet. Gengar's able to stand upright. He flexes his arms to show he's raring to go, despite panting a little bit.

"Battle Queen Rosa's going to defeat you, then you'll see that you absolutely positively need your Salamence to win against me!"

"Hmph, keep dreaming."

"Be careful what you wish for, sweetie," Rosa counters with a coy smile. "You're in my dreams more than you think." She wags her right index finger. "Those dreams can be innocent, or they can be sweet and spicy."

"Is that a bad thing?" Valen retorts. "Sounds more like a badge of honor."

"Baby boy, you stay on my mind, I still have fantasies." She gives Valen a flirtatious wink. "I love it when you're on my mind, you're the finest boy to meeeee."

Uh oh, please don't get him flustered! She needs to look in the mirror, she so's cute and pretty and amazing that it's quintuple effective against him!

Rosa's noticed that Serperior's been enveloped in a dark purple aura that's in the shape of Gengar. "Oh noooo, I triggered Cursed Body!" She yelps, snapping Valen back into focus. "Serperior can't use Brutal Swing for a bit!"

"Reminds me of the time you forgot Moxie existed," Valen teases. "I bet that still stings."

"Hmph, don't get so high and mighty with me," Rosa teases back, sporting a playful grin. "You're still gonna lose."

"Are we gonna keep talking or are we gonna continue this battle?" Valen grins. "C'mon, I've got a battle to win."

Rosa smirks, folding her arms. "Use Frenzy Plant." Her smirk's now a lopsided grin.

Serperior's body glows dark green, and she slams her tail on the ground. This causes massive roots with dozens of thorns dotting them to spring up all around Gengar. All the roots converge and crash into Gengar at the same time, dealing a massive amount of damage.

Serperior pants, having still taking poison damage this entire time. Gengar falls to the ground on his back, his grin flipping upside down. His Gengar looks like he was just defeated, but something doesn't feel right about this.

Wait, Valen knows what Gengar's doing! Even he can't predict when his Gengar will do at times, but that's the silly guy for you.

"Roar, we did it! We won!" Rosa forms a fist with her right hand and raising it towards the sky. "Go, go, go Rosa!

Despite panting due to being worn out from this battle and previous battles, Serperior lets out a victory cry. Suddenly, a green aura envelopes Serperior, her eyes glowing with the same color. Her trainer realizes that the previous battles, plus the poison, has triggered Overglow. Perhaps she should've used a different Pokémon, assuming Serperior would've allowed her win streak to be taken over like that.

Wait a minute, didn't she just win the battle?! Why is she's thinking all of this? Valen isn't even recalling his Gengar, choosing quiet with his eyes closed. What's he doing? Gengar lost the battle...or has he?

"Use Shadow Ball."

Gengar rapidly stands up on his legs, his eerie snickering bouncing off the walls. Gengar places his hands in front of him, a purple and black sphere forming in-between them. Then, the Ghost-type launches it at Serperior, who's struck just under her lower jaw.

Rosa jumps backward, her jaw dropping. "S-Seriously?!" She watches as Serperior's sent staggering from the attack.

Serperior lets out a cry to tell Gengar that he hasn't changed at all. In response, Gengar laughs.

"Sludge Bomb."

Once again, Gengar opens his mouth and fires a barrage of brown sludge that glow purple at Serperior. This attack also hits, sending Serperior reeling further as she bows downwards.

Gengar's panting from Frenzy Plant, now's her chance to end this. "Use Leaf Blade!"

The leaves at the end of Serperior's tail glow light green. The leaves extend outward, looking like daggers. Serperior lets out a prideful cry, charging towards Gengar. Serperior swings her tail, the leaves slashing Gengar. Gengar shuts his eyes, stumbling backwards. Something's wrong with his trainer, why does he have to deal with this? Why can't he be happy again?

"Sorry Gengar, I got distracted."

Gengar can feel his will to fight slipping away, feeling horrible that he may've hurt his trainer. Suddenly, Gengar jerks his body from side to side. No, no no no no no. Neither of them are to blame. Don't lose the will to fight. Come on, we can do this.

Upon seeing Valen's blank stare, Rosa's eyes wide. A chill goes up her spine as she places her right hand over her gaping mouth. What's happening to him? He was never like this in a battle.

"Are...are you okay?"

"Yeah...lost focus."

"...Use Energy Ball." She doesn't want to risk Valen blaming himself, so it's best that she continues the battle.

Serperior opens her mouth, a glowing, light green ball forming in front of it. Serperior launches the ball at Gengar, who's just gotten back onto his feet. The Ghost-type's struck directly in the face, sending him stumbling backwards. He falls to the ground, snapping Valen back into focus.

"Sorry," Valen tells Gengar. "Damn mind's at it again." His voice's shaky. "Um...try launching a Shadow Ball if you can."

Gengar refuses to lose his will to fight, mustering up the strength to stand back up. He extends his arms outwards, a purple and black sphere forming in-between his hands. Gengar launches the sphere, which slams into the V shape under Serperior's head.


Gengar's mouth falls open, but now's not the time for laughing. Another giant pair of menacing blood eyes appears above him. The eyes glow, a blood red aura forming and enveloping Serperior. She yelps as the aura becomes thicker. Like before, the attack looks like it's sapping away her vitality. As the aura vanishes, a somber look plasters the serpentine's face. Valen was so kind to her, her trainer, and her teammates. What happened to him?

Rosa sports a faint sheepish smile. "I really should've used a different-"

Serperior interrupts her trainer with a prideful grin. She looks back, shaking her head. She wanted to keep battling until she couldn't anymore, and her trainer gets the message. Serperior looks back at Gengar. Both Pokémon commend the other on a battle well fought. Seconds later, the poison deals the final blow. Serperior faintly yelps, a thud echoing as the upper part of her body goes down.

Rosa can't bring herself to say anything as she recalls her Serperior. Poor sweetie has had it even worse than she thought. She flashes back to the Pokémon that Serperior fought before Valen shown up. That Greninja proved to be a powerful fighter, but she wishes she could've geeked out with him over battling. Those little moments are so precious, please don't take them away from her...from them.

Gengar pants, his grin upside down. His teammates and him lost several battles before Valen ceased battling. Battles that they could've won. No, they can still win, they need to keep trying. Gengar's grin comes back as he floats backwards towards Valen. His grin's more tender as he rubs Valen's right arm.

"Thanks," Valen whispers, exchanging a fist bump with Gengar. "You six have done more than enough by staying by my side." He recalls his Gengar, placing the ball back inside of his leather jacket.

Rosa folds her arms again. "I'm getting more worried about you." She feels a sense of unease. "I wish you'd have said something to me." She doesn't know how to go about this.

"Well...it's not like these battles have enormous stakes." Valen blankly stares at the ground. "They're supposed to be fun...but my mind affects my Pokémon too...I'm such a burden...sorry."

She slowly walks up to Valen. "You're never a burden for me." She caresses Valen's left cheek. "I promise." She wraps her arms around Valen's neck. "Everything's going to be okay." She feels Valen wrapping his arms around her midsection. "I know you can pull through this."

Valen closes his eyes, which briefly moisten up. "...You're too good to me."

"I could say the same thing about you."

"I'll admit...that I haven't been battling much." Valen lets out a self-deprecating laugh, scratching the back of his head. "Not in the best state to be battling."

"I forgot how mischievous your Gengar can be."

"Sorry if-"

"No no, it's fine," Rosa reassures, placing Serperior's ball back into her purse. "That's just his personality."

"...Thanks." A warm feeling slowly beginning to surge within him. "Now, I'd say that we'd go be meeting Melanie, but she's rather tired," he says. "You also need to meet Arthur."

"Oooh, a new friend for meeee!" Rosa lifts her right foot off the ground. "Don't forget that I also looove to meet and talk to people!" She said she'd try to cheer him up, and she'll keep her word.

"So, what's your total number of likes?" Valen teases. "Hopefully it's one billion."

"You silly booooy!" Rosa giggles. "I recently hit four hundred thousand likes on Glaliebook and four hundred thousand followers on Smeraglegram!"

"Acceptable." Valen pats her on the head. "Come on, walk with me." He tilts his head towards the entrance/exit. "We have some catching up to do."

"Some catching up?!" Rosa giggles again. "You're soooo silly, Valen!"

Valen and Rosa walk side by side down the cobblestone plaza walkway, both noticing that the amount of people present have increased. They gaze around at the historical buildings as they pass by them, various bird Pokémon perched on top of the buildings or soaring above them. Rosa can't seem to take her eyes off of the center's clock tower, so Valen taps her right shoulder. She responds by bopping him on the forehead, the two sharing a laugh.

"Soooo, you're still into art and all that?" She's always loved Valen's passion for the arts, history, and design. Plus, he's an avid reader and a great cook. Perhaps he won her heart before either of them realized it.

"Yep," Valen affirms, glancing rightward. "That and my team's what kept me going."

"I'm glad to hear that."

surprised to see you in Old Downtown," he admits. "A little bit surprised, that is."

"This is still one of my favorite areas, you silly boy!" Rosa states in a peppy manner, feeling like she just went back in time.

"So, you're moving back to Calvana?" Valen inquires. "That's what Melanie told me."

"I don't want to put too much on your plate, so we'll talk about living together another time." It's better this way. He needs time. "I'm renting a small house for now."

"Always gotta look out for me, huh?" He pats Rosa's head.

"Just returning the favor." Rosa bops Valen on the forehead. "Also, I never fully moved away, so pay attention."

"Did you use optimism to cope?"

"Kinda...you know me." Rosa softly smiles, gently grasping Valen's right hand. "I fend off negative feelings by being my usual self as best as I can." That's what she always does. She doesn't want others to be sad too.

"You have a good degree of popularity and fame here too," Valen comments. "You deserve it, you deserve the best."

"So do you," Rosa reminds him. "I know that it's been hard for you, but you'll see that I kept my word in due time." She kisses Valen on the lips. "I know I've said it already, but I really missed you."

"So, what's the plan?" Valen asks, glancing to his right towards her. "Still the same?"

"I'm gonna be the very best, and all I've got to do is believe in meeee!" Rosa jumps up, her eyes gleaming. "That's the plan!"

"That's my girl." Valen smiles, exchanging a fist bump with Rosa. "Also, thanks for taking Rui in as part of the circle."

"After learning what happened, we had to," Rosa tells him. "You're still in the circle too, which you'll also learn in due time."

He hopes so, Valen really hopes so. Not even his screwed up mind can stop him from missing Hilda. Hilda made his glory days, Hilda's one of the most precious people in his life. Hilda...Hilda is somebody he has deeper feelings for. If only things didn't get rough for him—can that vee still happen eventually?

Rosa's in her early twenties.
Thoughts on this chapter? Thoughts on Rosa and Valen's reunion?
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 7: Hiding The Obvious

Since Old Downtown's only a short distance from the towering skyscrapers of Angel City's modern downtown, Valen's taken Rosa to where he works, or where he used to work. As per usual, Valen appears to be very disinterested, keeping his hands within his pockets. He recalls that Dimitri asked him to do this. Okay, maybe Dimitri had to remind him via a text message from the front desk, but at least he's now here.

He glances leftwards towards a grinning Rosa, the sounds of vehicles driving down the road, footsteps, chatter, laughter, and the chirping of bird Pokémon echo surrounding them.

"I left Unova and now I see this same horizon!" Rosa raises her right fist towards the sky. "Rosa came back to Calvana!" she twirls. "Rosa's back! Rosa's back!"

"What." Into the pockets Valen's hands go, trying to act cool despite the Butterfree in his stomach. She's so adorable, the most adorable person he's ever known.

Rosa wraps her left arm around Valen's neck, forcing him to bend with her. Does he really think he can hide how happy he is? Tee-hee, let's find out! "I'm on the road to become the greatest traineeeer!" She forces Valen to twirl with her, a jolt making him yelp. "And I won't quit until I'm number oneeeeee!" She gives Valen a cocky wink. "Gotta be number one! Number one, number one!"

A squeaky grunt in-between Valen's teeth makes his face even redder. "What is this, I don't even-"

"We keep on trying, and then we try some moreeee!" She makes Valen twirl with her again, causing another jolt that makes him yelp even louder. "To stay together, and find a place worth fighting fooooor! Roooosa's on the rooooad!" Another twirl, another jolt, and another yelp from Valen.

"Rosa, why're you making me-"

"I'm on the rooooad to Angel City!" Rosa announces, nudging Valen's left side with her right elbow. "Meet the squad along the waaaaaay!"

Valen faintly laughs, breathing a sigh of relief. "There's no battling going on, Rosa." He smirks, patting Rosa's head. "Also, this is Angel City."

Rosa lets Valen go, bopping Valen on the forehead. "I knooooow, but I'm soooo happy!" She bounces from right to left. "The queen forbids all faces that aren't happy faces!"

She's a ball of fluff and and a cinnamon bun, which causes Valen to turn away to hide his reddened face. Everybody must keep in mind that she's the cute one. Only her, not him.

Rosa claps her hands behind her back, focusing on the juggernaut building towering in front of her. She notes the unusual leftward slope perched on top. "Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo, this is where you work, Valen?" She inquires, mesmerized by the narrow and rectangular skyscraper. She recalls a brochure stating that the Liniya Corporation's headquarters is a seventy story tall office building that was completed sixty five years ago.

"Yep, but I'm now on indefinite vacation." Valen shrugs, sporting a faint half-hearted smile. "Eh, it is what it is."

"Nooooow, talk artsy to meeeee." Rosa winks, feeling the air around her heating up. "Hmmmmmm, there's nothing hotter than a boooy with so much passion and confidenceeee." She'll bring up the cooking another time. She still remembers how flustered she got when Valen first cooked for her. She got even more flustered when she cooked for Valen for the first time.

"You're here, so I disagree." Valen inches closer to her right ear, muttering, "I'll use Mega Evolution to settle this."

"Do you mean a Pokémon battle with?" Rosa's eyelids flutter as she faintly giggles. "Or a battle between meeee and yoooou?" She places her finger on her lower lip. "Hmmmmmmm?"

"Who know?" Valen snickers. "You'll have to wait and see."

"I'll let you slide this timeeee."

Back to looking at the building! She likes how the entire building's dark blue all around, with no noticeable deviations in the color scheme. Even so, the building sticks due to its unusual roof. Postmodernism's known for sticking out in peculiar ways, just like her.

"I like the dark blue color!" Rosa's eyes glitter, her head bobbing up and down as she scans the building. "It matches your eyes and my nails!"

Valen's face burns up as he begins poking two fingers together. Why must she be so cute? It's too much cuteness! It's not a safe amount of cuteness.

"Ground control to Valeeeey!" Rosa waves her right hand close to Valen's face. "Wake up!"

Valen nearly shrieks, slapping his mouth shut at the last second. His head droops, his arms dangling on his sides. This girl's too much sometimes.

"Picture timeeee!" Rosa announces, snapping Valen back into focus. She takes her phone out of her pink purse. She darts in front of Valen, her steps having a bounce to them. She turns her back towards Valen and the camera, giving a cocky wink. The bright light of her phone's camera flashes several times. Afterwards, she runs back towards Valen, "Tee-hee, I look soooo goooooood!"

He glances at the fountain in the center, eyeing his reflection in the water. He breathes a sigh of relief that his face isn't red, pink or any color that shows his dorky side. He can't help it, okay?! Rosa looks so good, she's so adorable, she's so much fun to be around! It's the perfect combination!

"Sooooooooooooooooo, how strong is this Dimitri guy as a trainer?" Rosa inquires, extending her elbows and fists out in front of her. "As Battle Queen Rosa, I must know how strong he is! Tell me or I will bop you with my feet!"

"If you talk to other trainers, you'll run into a rumor that Dimitri's stronger than our champion."

"S-Seriously?!" Rosa yelps, jumping backwards. "He's that strong?!"

"I'm neutral on it, because that's a pretty bold statement." Valen shrugs. "He doesn't believe it himself."

Rosa nods, making Valen blush by making him twirl with her again. "Let's gooooo inside!" She points her left index finger towards the sky.

Valen and Rosa walk on the concrete steps, entering the Liniya Corporation's headquarters through the automatic glass doors.

Rosa's taken aback by the sheer size of the lobby, noting that the interior walls are also dark blue. Rosa glances to her left, and sees a large number of plush leather chairs, plus leather sofas several wooden tables, and a a flat screen television. To her right, Rosa sees a large fountain flowing with water, plus more furniture and another flat screen television. Her favorite aspect are the various Pokémon paintings that decorate the walls, the artists ranging from Titian Vercelli to Neville Poussin to Kamakura Hokusai. Both hear the sounds of televisions, people murmuring back and forth, the dings of an elevator, among other noises. Nevertheless, the lobby's got a rather calm, quaint vibe to it.

Valen checks out the painting on the walls. Analyzing art isn't a new habit of his, but it's been helping him to keep moving forward, even if it's still a slog.

Rayquaza's painting depicts the majestic dragon soaring through the clear skies over Hoenn. Valen notes that the remnants of Draconid stone architecture dot the background, which appears to be somewhere in northwestern Hoenn. There are no manmade structures beyond the work of an ancient empire, the awe and raw power of nature a hallmark of Romanticism. However, this work is from well after that movement.

"The Sky Dragon's Domain by Maya Birch, 1942."

When he was six, his mom taught him about Dr. Braxton Birch and Professor Maya Birch, the great-grandparents of Hoenn's current Professor Birch. Braxton was also an expert on the Draconid people, while his wife was the professor who gave trainers the choice of Treecko, Torchic, or Mudkip. In the 1940s, they began to feel that contemporary art couldn't capture the history and natural beauty of Hoenn, so they turned to the past.

Next up's Lugia, and two paintings are present. The first one's a painting that he's got a print of himself, but he decides to check it out anyway. It's his favorite piece of Johtoian art. This painting depicts Lugia peeking out of massive tidal wave, parts of the ocean turning into aquatic mountains as Lugia flaps its wings. The sky's a blend of white and orange.

"Lugia's Great Wave by Kamakura Hokusai, 1829." This was the first Johtoian painter he learned about. A print of Hokusai's painting of Ho-oh hasn't been easy to find, at least not for a good price.

He turns his attention towards the second Lugia painting. Lugia's depicted flowing through the deep ocean, massive gray clouds hovering overhead and unleashing heavy rain and lightning upon those below. If one looks closely, they can see Zapdos flying through the storm clouds.

"The Forty Night Storm by Hanabishi Itchō, 1700."

This was the first Kantonian painter that he learned about. He recalls that when he was seven, he learned that Kanto didn't even exist as a separate region during this era. It was still called Kanto, but the region became independent from Johto almost two hundred years after this painting was conceived. That being said, the region still shares many things with Johto, such as the Indigo Conference.

"Ooooh, did you say Hanabishi Itchō?!" Rosa blurts out, causing Valen to nearly lose balance. "He was also a kabuki playwright, a haiku poet, and a calligrapher!"

"Next time, warn me after you snap yourself out of a trance." Valen breathes a sigh of relief, as nobody saw him nearly fall down.

"Sorry, I got mesmerized!" Rosa closes her eyes with a silly grin.

As Rosa giggles, Valen turns away to hide his blushing. He was going to check out at least two more prints, but he's here for something else. He can just go back to his childhood home if he wants to see prints of Portrait of Champion Francesco Romano by Titian Vercelli and The Birth of Arceus by Domingo Velázquez. As for the others, the originals are within this city.

"I'm glad to see that part of you is still hereZ" Rosa strolls up and stands to his right. "Everything's going to be okay." She wraps her right arm around his midsection. "I promise."

"Thanks." He rubs the top of her head. "Thanks for not giving up on me."

"As if I'd ever give up on you." She lets go of him, bopping his forehead.

"You must've been really taken by this lobby." Valen's gaze ping-pongs around his surroundings, this time with a bittersweet feeling. He won't be seeing this place again for a while, if ever again.

"This lobby is like the size of an entire house!" Rosa twirls to take another look around.

"That might be a bit of exaggeration, but it's big," Valen replies with a faint mischievous smirk. "Will she fall for my trap?"

"It's not just big, it's very big!" Rosa corrects, causing Valen to faintly laugh. "Super duper ultra mega big!" She raises her hands and moves her arms in opposite directions.

"That's what she said," Valen teases, his mouth having curved into a devious grin. "Success!"

Rosa jumps backwards, her face reddening and her mouth falling open. "H-Hey, that's not a-appropriate at all!"

"You always fall into my trap."

"M-Make a-appropriate jokes towards an innocent girl like me!" Rosa cries out, jumping from side to side.

"Gotcha," Valen teases. "You snooze, you lose."

"M-Meanie face!" Rosa shuts her eyes. "Only meanie faces do this to innocent girls!" Her face burns bright red. "I want cool sweetie Valey, not meanie prankster Valey!"

Nearby onlookers chuckle at the situation that just unfolded right in front of their eyes, while Valen walks to the center of the lobby towards the receptionist's large circular desk. Rosa sighs, then runs to catch up with him, the tapping sound of their shoes on the floor's tilting slightly echoing.

"Ah, hello Valen," the female receptionist remarks.

"Hey, can you let Dimitri know I'm here?" Valen asks, balancing his head on his right elbow, while his right palm rests on the white desk.

"There is no need, as I am right here," Dimitri calls out from further within the lobby. He walks closer to them, noting that Valen seems a bit happier than he usually is.

"This is Rosa," Valen introduces, patting the top of her head. "Probably don't need to tell you that, though." The adorable grin she's got on her face might make him blush, but it's worth it.

Dimitri sports a friendly smile. He turns to look at Rosa. "It is nice to meet you. My name is Dimitri Liniya," he politely states. "I am the President and CEO of the Liniya Corporation."

"Hiiii, it's nice to meet you too!" Rosa cheerfully proclaims. "If you're Valey's friend, then you're also my friend!"

"You are quite the cheerful and energetic girl, aren't you?" Dimitri chuckles. "That is what many people say about you."

"Tee-hee, they can never win, but they sure can try!" Rosa twirls, raising her left fist.

"What you see is what you get with her."

Rosa's eyes fixate on Dimitri's attire. "Oooooh, Valey should wear a outfit just like yours!" She states, pointing at Dimitri's white Fantina Vuitton suit, his matching dress pants, and his dark red tie. "My knight needs to look dashing! Tee-hee, queen's orders!"

"Your...knight?" Dimitri asks, staring and blinking. "Valen's your knight?"

"Yeeeep, Valey's my handsome, classy, and hunky knight!" Rosa proudly declares with her eyes closed. She blushes, squealing, "It was like a fairytale had come true for meeeee! He became my bestie, and now he's my bestie and my sweetie!"

As Rosa gushes, she envisions herself as a queen, whom imaginary knight Valen is approaching via his Salamence. Of course, it must look like a play written by Whitelaw Shakespeare. Imaginary knight Valen bows and kisses Rosa on her left hand, handing her a rose. He tells her that if he was thy knight, it would a great honor. He'd always fly home, back to her majesty. He requests that her majesty allow him to love her. Let thy knight the one to give her majesty everything she requires and desires. He desires thy affection, requesting that her majesty make him thy selection. This causes the queen to squeal, placing her hands on her cheeks. She states that thou will be both her knight and her king.

"I have no idea what she means by any of that." Valen shuts his eyes, his face slightly reddening. "Yep, not a clue."

"Ooooh, you want to do this the hard way, big boooy?" She places a finger on her lower lip. "You know you can't defeat meeee."

"Actually, I can defeat you."

"Nooooooo, you can't." He'll never truly beat her, not when she's his biggest weakness.

Valen's been working for Dimitri for about two weeks now. Not once has he mentioned that she's his girlfriend, but that's not surprising to him. In any case, looks like his indefinite vacation idea has already bore fruit. But as amusing at this whispering is, Dmitri has to keep the train going.

"Shall we go up to my office to chat further?"

"Yeah, but can Rosa come with me?"

"Yes, she may join us." Dimitri rubs his red tie. "I wanted to meet her personally."

"Woo-hoo, I get to be a part of a special meeting!" Rosa does yet another twirl. "That means I'm special too!"

Valen wants to know a moment in time when his ball of fluff wasn't special. She's so wholesome and outgoing, always wanting everybody to smile and have a good time. Not even the brooders named Silver and Gladion are strong enough to resist this unstoppable force.

Dimitri's brought Valen and Rosa to the top floor via the elevator. Rosa notes that the dark blue walls have various paintings and large photographs on them. She also notes the two gigantic, rectangular windows behind his wooden desk and his black, office chair.

"I presume that you have seen Barberini Stadium before, correct?" Dimitri asks Rosa. "The seventeenth century structure that spans three city blocks?"

"Tee-hee, of course I remember that old and cool stadium and neighborhood!" Rosa sticks up her right index and ring finger. "Antonius Barberini, the man who led the expansion that resulted in modern day Angel City!"

"Excellent work," Dimitri compliments, his gaze alternating between Valen and Rosa. He wonders why Valen didn't say anything when he's a big history buff.

Rosa decides that it's time to get more serious—she wants to use this to figure out what's going with her boyfriend. "Hey, have you ever won the Calvanian Conference?" She asks Valen, glancing to her right.

Valen can feel his head starting to thump, but he takes a silent deep breath. It's not even worth mentioning his past successes anymore—he's become a failure.

His somber expression stings Rosa's heart she but presses his lips together. She can't be sad, not when her beloved's in such a state. She must remain optimistic, she must remain strong-willed.

"I don't remember, but I'm sure you already know." He feels a knot in his stomach. "However, once you do get your invitation, it's a permanent invitation with no strings attached."

"Something's not right," Rosa muses, scratching the back of her head. "I do remember...why'd he lie?"

Having also noticed Valen's behavior, Dimitri decides to change the subject. "Rosa, do you remember that we have no gyms?" He cocks a brow. "He needs some space—his self-esteem's barely there."

Rosa's face reddens as she jumps backwards. "I asked where the gym is within Angel City, and it was sooooooo embarrassing afterwards!" She scratches the back of her head. "Eh heh...my face was redder than a Charmeleon's skin."

"What." A dumbfounded Valen asks in a deadpan tone.

"She is the most jovial and energetic person that I have ever met," Dimitri amusingly notes with a friendly smile. "Your most recent reaction aside, even someone like you seems to liven up around her."

"Yep, things are way less boring when she's around," Valen admits, giving Rosa a faint smile.

"Tee-hee, I'm the anti-boredom and the anti-sadness girl!" Rosa infectiously grins, sticking up her her right index finger and middle finger.

"This region has maintained the basis of its tournament structure since the year 1737," Dimitri explains. "In addition, Calvana is a massive region with both densely populated cities and remote areas. You could go days without running into anyone else in the barren parts of the region."

"The tournament structure can be so difficult that some locals call it the Big Punisher, or Big Pun for short," Valen adds.

"Thanks for telling me this super cooooool information!" Rosa clasps her hands next to her left cheek, slightly lifting her right foot up. "If I learned this before, then I forgot it!" she twirls. "Tee-hee, I'm soooo silly!"

Valen faintly yelps, knowing that there's nowhere to hide.. Why must she be this adorable ninety-nine percent of the time?

"Valeeeey, wake up!" She waves her hands in her face.

"Chill," Valen responds, taking a hard gulp to fend off blushing. "Otherwise, I'm gonna have to defeat you in battle again."

"Ooooh, you think you can defeat me a second time?" Rosa's eyelids flutter, her right index finger resting on her lower lip.

"...Heh...maybe I'll start to have fun more often." He doesn't know if he'll actually come back to this job, but he wants to keep that a secret. If fate's got a bright future planned for him, he feels that it lies here.

"No maybe, mister!" Rosa fixates an annoyed glare on Valen. "You'll have lots of fun, because I make everything a million billion trillion times more fun!"

"I won't argue with that, but-"

Rosa folds her arms, stating, "I forbid all frowning!"

"Yes, mother," Valen sarcastically responds with a faint smirk. "Should I pack clean underwear? How about a new toothbrush? Are you gonna tuck me in at night after reading me a bedtime story?"

"I want sweetie Valey, not meanie Valey!" Rosa shuts her eyes, her facing reddening.

Valen hears a text message and takes out his phone to check it. He smiles when he sees who texted him. "Oh hey, Melanie got bored and wants to meet up."

"I'll join you in a few minutes!" Rosa tells Valen as the latter walks towards the elevator, holding up his right hand to acknowledge Rosa's words.

"Dimitri's already figured out that he's got a crush on her, a big one at that. He seems to be a bit hesitant to reveal it, though.

"Hellooooo, wake up!" Rosa waves her hands in-between Dimitri and her.

Dimitri's amused by this fast change in demeanor. So far, everything he's heard about Rosa has proven to be true.

"Pssssssssssssssst, can you please tell me more information?" Rosa requests, scratching the back of her head. "I need a memory refresher, but I don't want to put too much on his plate"

"Very well, I shall answer all your questions." She radiates so much energy that it's hard not to crack a smile.

"Yay, thanks!"

"However, may I ask you two questions of my own?"

"Sure, go ahead!"

"How exactly do you view Valen?"

"Oh, that's an easy question!" Rosa giggles, her face reddening as she re-opens her eyes. "He's my boyfriend!" Her eyes sparkle like a magnificent gemstone. "Kyaaaaa!:

"I thought so," Dimitri admits, faintly laughing. "Has Valen been in touch with Hilda White or the BW Agency?"

"Well...no," Rosa admits, bowing her head. "Hilda's been really busy...and he's not reaching out for some reason." Poor Hilda really misses him, but she's trying to be her usual vivacious and upbeat self.

"...I see." Dimitri folds his hands on his deck. "He is quite the mystery."

"I wish I knew the full story," Rosa admits, her face tensing up. "I'm not faking anything, but I want to cheer him up." Her voice becomes slightly dull. "I like to remain my usual self—I don't want others to be sad."

"You are a benevolent person," Dimitri commends.

"I believe in him." Rosa smiles, her eyes glowing. "Now, I'll ask my questions," she informs. "Is that okay with you?"

"Yes, ask away."

"Thank you, Dimitri." Rosa's face softens, the lingering tension evaporating. "Don't worry, Valen and I will pull through this together."

As Rosa throws question after question towards Dimitri, the latter faintly smiles. He's already doubled down on his belief that this is what Valen needs. Valen's much stronger than he realizes, and Dimitri hopes that he will remember that one day. Anyone who held his own against that trainer should be proud of themselves.

Dimitri snaps out of it when the ringing of Rosa's phone fills up his office. "

Rosa takes it out of her purse, faintly frowning for a brief moment. "It's who you were asking about."

"I think he'd be better off there, but he needs time," Dimitri says. "In any case, perhaps you should get going."

Rosa nods, turning around and walking towards the elevator. As she presses the button to go down, she answers the call.

"Heeeey, guess who's coming tomorrow!" Hilda cheers through the speaker. "I'm soooooo excited! Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

"We're both stars, and we're gonna show the world that we are!" Rosa grins, entering the elevator door. Smile and grin, smile and grin. She must remain optimistic.

Dimitri watches the elevator doors close. Hopefully, the doors don't close on Valen's future. Even though he said it in a slightly joking manner, he meant it when he said that he better not see Valen again in a while.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 8: Wherefore Art Thou, Heroine?

Valen and Rosa have met up with Melanie and Arthur in an outdoor plaza that's not far away from Liniya Corporation's HQ. Even though there are a few empty tables around, they decide to stand, their shadows being eclipsed by the shadows of the towering skyscrapers that surround the plaza. It's a warm day, but their sneakers prevent them from feeling the heat on the plaza's concrete floor.

At first, Rosa's mesmerized by the sea of towering skyscrapers, but she snaps out of it to wave at people. "Tee-hee, Rosa is the anti-boredom girl!" Rosa sticks up her left index and ring fingers. "Wherever Rosa goes, smiles follow." She does several twirls, much to Arthur's bewilderment. "I still have way more energy than I know what to do with!"

"I love your nails so much!" Melanie's gleaming eyes fixate on the dark blue polish. "And you still look great in Grimsley Lauren!"

"You still rock Valerie Versace well!"

Their jovial chatter implants a sense of calm into Valen's mind. That's rare these days, or so it seems. He should try to socialize a little bit. If not for himself, then at least for Rosa and Melanie.

"Arthur, how'd you end up in Calvana?"

Arthur's mouth slightly falls open, but he smiles seconds later. "Living abroad for the time being, because I needed to get away from Galar." he answers. "Maybe I could do something with woodcutting or engraving."

"How long have you been doing that?" He swears that he's heard the surname Bennington before, but he can't put his finger on it.

"My family has quite the historical lineage regarding cartography, woodcut, engravings, and furniture designers." Arthur's proud smile lights up his face. "Cartography's another field that runs deep in the Bennington household."

Now he remembers where he heard Arthur's surname. The Bennington family's well known for their maps, woodcuts, engravings, and luxury furniture. His mom's met a few, but Arthur's the first he's met.

"How did you become acquainted with this lass?" Why does she twirl? Does she really have that much energy?

"I befriended Rosa fifteen years ago," he answers. "She's a badass who tamed a Hydreigon, a Pokémon whom many consider the most difficult non-legendary Pokémon to tame."

"Seems like you're very proud of her, mate." Arthur's pleased to see a more amicable side of Valen.

"She can also paint a fresco." His amazing ball of fluff went to Johto not too long ago, Clair wanted to spice up her new dojo being the reason.

"Looks like you've started to change more," Melanie chimes in, letting go of Rosa and vice-versa. She can't take her eyes off of his wide smile.

"Not really, I'm still mostly the same." Valen shrugs, his smile now half-hearted. "I'm trying, though."

Arthur looks directly at Rosa, bending for a bow "It is with great pleasure that I make your acquaintance, my name is Arthur Bennington."

"Tee-hee, you're so formal!" Rosa sports a winsome grin, her fists under her chin. "Nice to meet you too!"

Her mouth falls open and she holds her right hand sideways. She sticks her thumb out, remarking, "Your clothes look so old but are so well preserved!" Arthur's trench coat like suit definitely looks like it came from the Victorian era. She likes how both his suit and his pants are finished in a darker shade of brown. Has he ever worn one of those awesome top hats?

"Actually, these garments are modern reproductions of nineteenth-century clothing.:

"Tee-hee, it fits you well!" Her eyes sparkle as she clasps her hands next to her right cheek.

"Your kind remark is very much appreciated."

Melanie eyes Rosa's white top with ice blue sleeves. "I still love your favorite outfit. The top, the black leggings, and the yellow shorts. It suits you will."

"Tee-hee, thanks!" Rosa grins. She eyes Melanie's blue jean jacket, azure top, and blue jeans. "You still look great in Valerie Versace!"

"Thanks, but that's obvious." Melanie closes her eyes, running her hand through elbow-length, black hair. Then, she turns towards Valen. "This is still my ship."

Arthur may not have been in the city for too long, but there's no seaport nearby. What does she mean by ship? Is she rich enough to own her own ship?

Melanie chuckles at Arthur's confused expression. "What's up with you?"

Suddenly, she's pulled closer to Valen. Her chin's now resting on his left shoulder. His soft touch on her back, the running of his other hand through her hair, her platonic life partner gives such relaxing hugs. She kisses him on the forehead, then slides her arms around his neck. If this was a sofa, she might've fallen asleep. It's happened before, but with Rosa and Hilda.

Valen and Melanie release each other, the latter turning towards Rosa and Arthur. As Rosa, Melanie, and Arthur chat, Valen feels a sense of unease, like something's going to happen. His headache's come back, which doesn't help. He really wants to spend time with Rosa, but this feeling keeps getting more and more intense. He sighs, causing the other three to turn their bodies towards him.

Valen smiles, patting Rosa on the head. "You mind if I go home?"

Rosa's smile vanishes, her worries coming back. She does a hard swallow, tightening her fists. She must remain positive for her sake, for his sake, for everybody's sake.

"What's up with you?" Melanie raises her right eyebrow, her hands on her hips. When Valen doesn't respond, she frowns.

Rosa and Melanie glance each other in concern, then they glance back at him. His skin looks a little pale again, his expression making him look stressed out. Both sport tender smiles, hoping that he sees that their patience is due to how much they care about him.

"We understand," Melanie assures. "If you need to relax at home, go ahead."

"Thanks." Valen begins to saunter off, trying to hide the tension he's feeling. "Sorry Rosa, I'll catch you later." He places his hands in his pockets, exiting the plaza. He saunters onto a concrete sidewalk in between two towering skyscrapers.

"Don't worry about it," Rosa reassures, sporting a gentle smile. "You don't need to hide your struggles, kay? I'll wait for you, I promise."

Valen halts, his eyes widening. Several seconds later, he faintly smiles, proceeding to walk out of sight. Afterwards, Melanie turns rightwards toward Rosa. "I don't think you've gotten an explanation as to why he vanished." She folds her arms again. "Am I right?"

"I don't think so." Rosa sports a uneasy smile while fidgeting with her fingers. "We had some contact, then he vanished." She sighs, a somber look now plastered on her face. "I hate it...I hate it so much...I hate seeing him suffer." She bites her lower up, her body leaning inwards. "I never fake my usual self, but I planned to cheer him up...I can't cheer him up if I'm sad too...but I don't know what to do." she sighs. "This is...this is not something I was prepared to deal with."

'On the surface, he's almost become the opposite of the Valen that we remember."

"I can't run from it when I'm here in the flesh. Please tell me what he's been through...if you know anything."

Arthur stays silent out of respect, but he wonders what else Valen's not telling him. That name is not an unknown one, but where has he heard it before? More importantly, was the bloke having some sort of panic attack? What infliction made him like this?

Valen's gone back to his house, and is currently laying on his bed. "This fucking messed up mind of mine can't leave me alone, even when I'm with Rosa." He stares at his black marble ceiling, the antique gilt bronze clock within the center antique bookshelf ticks by the second.

Valen turns his head towards that mahogany bookshelf, eyeing its ornate imagery and patterns. Valen eyes the one photograph he did take with him to his current residence: A photograph of Valen and his team from many years ago that sits within the center top of the enclosed bookshelf, just below the curved arch. The framed photograph shows Valen as a pre-teen alongside a Bagon, a Kirlia, a Quilava, and a Luxio.

"She's always so much fun to be around," Valen murmurs, now eyeing the books within all five of his shelves. "I still wonder how this is gonna turn out for the two of us."

Out of the corner of his eye, Valen spots Gardevoir standing near his open door. As per usual, she's come to check up on him on behalf of the whole team. However, Valen notices that Gardevoir isn't alone this time. Typhlosion's come to check up on him too. He gives Gardevoir and Typhlosion a thumbs up. Gardevoir nods and smiles, while Typhlosion lets out a soft roar. Then, they dash towards their trainer. He sweats nervously as the duo give him mischievous grins. He realizes that Gengar's told them about Rosa, and the whole team knows how nervous he can get when it comes to her.

However, Valen returns to being calm when he realizes that they're just trying to cheer him up. Rosa did this too. She likes to maintain her usual self for her own sake, and for everyone else's sake. Rosa loves it when she makes people smile. He pets Typhlosion and rubs the top of Gardevoir's head, the latter bending forward for it.

"Hey Gardevoir, sorry about asking you to Teleport me home," Valen whispers. "Typhlosion, I wanna say sorry again over what happened in your last battle." Gardevoir caresses the top of Valen's head, while Typhlosion nuzzles his upper chest.

Valen's cell phone rings. Heh, Silver's decided to come out of hiding. He answers the phone, a smirk decorating his face. "Sup?"

"Hey, so-" Silver clears his throat. "Somebody wants me to give examples of how big prehistoric versions of Pokémon were, and I'm stuck on what to say," he explains. "Should I go with Gyarados and Salamence being the size of a yacht? The smallest prehistoric Hydreigon being as big as your three story house? Seviper being longer than a city bus? Venomoth being the size of my Feraligatr?"

"Whichever works best for you."

"By the way, any luck on the battling end of things?"

"Eh, so-so," Valen admits. "It's still difficult for me, but I should at least try to be proactive...even though that's also difficult for me."

"Happened to me too," Silver confesses. "Felt bad for what I did years ago."

"How'd you push through it?"

"I kicked my doubting self's ass."

"Yep, there's a classic Silver response."

As their trainer chats with Silver, Gardevoir and Typhlosion stare at each other with content smiles. Hopefully, this is another sign that the trainer who raised them is on his way back.

"W-What?! That's why he didn't call Hilda?!" Rosa exclaims as she places her right hand over her mouth, trembling in horror. "He's afraid of running into her?! He was afraid of what would happen if he called me?!"

Arthur remains quiet, allowing them to discuss. He doesn't know Valen like they do, and he must respect that.

Rosa can feel her ribs tightening and her heart aching, and she places her hands over them. Valen's more than just a best friend turned boyfriend to her—Valen's the best boyfriend she could've asked for. They kept in touch via phone and social media until they were old enough to travel by themselves, the exceptions being Valen visiting Unova and Rosa visiting Calvana with their family. Valen was always patient with her, always hugging her, always calling her, and so on. Furthermore, she'll never forget the day when Valen swooped down on his Salamence, donning a Guzmani suit. It was their very first romantic date.

"Sorry for telling you that." Melanie's voice shakes, her head bowed.

Rosa returns her focus to the present. "Don't be...I need to know...no matter how much it breaks my heart." Rosa leans back against the plaza's silver railing, her palms resting on the top rail. "I should've come back to Calvana much sooner." She feels like she's about to slump onto the ground.

"I thought that he'd start to improve faster, but it's been a really slow process," Melanie admits, sighing as she places her hands on her hips. "We need to keep this a secret from Hilda...even though I feel awful for doing so."

Tears begin to stream down her face. The poor guy was and is suffering, and that hurts." She uses her left hand to wipe her eyes, but the tears just keep coming. "That hurts me more than anything else."

Melanie and Arthur glance at each other, unsure of what to do.

Rosa's crying becomes louder as her stream of tears turns into a river. "I wasn't there for him!" she wails. "I'm so sorry, Valen!" She rubs her eyes with the ice blue sleeve covering her right arm. "I love you so much, but I wasn't there for you!"

"...Sorry you got dragged into this, Arthur."

"You do not need to apologize, Melanie."

Rosa becomes quieter, tears still streaming down her cheek. "Did I...fail him?" She looks at Melanie, her sorrowful gaze meeting Melanie's worried gaze. "Did I...am I weak? Am I a bad girlfriend?" she winces. "He's done so much for me...I couldn't even be there when he needed me the most."

"No, nobody asked for this." Melanie wraps her arms around Rosa's upper back. "His mental state can't be magically cured, but you can bring a lot more joy into his life."

"...You're right." Rosa wraps her arms around Melanie's neck. "You're absolutely right...I can't make it go away just like that...but I can still help him."

"I know it's hard to stomach, but please cheer up." Melanie's gentle gaze meets Rosa's watery eyes. "Can you do it for him at least?"

Rosa nods, wiping away her tears. "It hurts...my heart feels like it got broken into two...but I can't help him if I'm down in the dumps," she admits. "I never fake my usual personality," she states. "I love making people happy, and it's how I can keep moving forward." She faintly smiles. "Optimism's how I manage to remain strong...I never lost hope...never lost faith...I'd knew he come back to me."

"You've known him for a long time," Melanie whispers. "You know him as well as I do."

"Worth it," Rosa whispers back. "We first met just over fifteen years ago...five and a half years of romance...all worth it." She still remembers that day, she'll always remember the sunny day when a boy her age gushed over her painting.

"Give yourself a free smile too, Rosa."

Rosa's mouth curves into a grin. "Good idea." She lets go of Melanie and vice versa. "Excellent idea!"

"I can't hear you." Melanie turns her head, her right ear adjacent to Rosa's mouth. "Come on, you can do better." She places her right hand behind her ear. "Speak louder."

"I'm noooooow Super Roooooosa!" Rosa forms a fist with her right hand and raises it above her head towards the sky. She sports a radiant smile, bringing her right hand down. She uses her left hand to point towards the sky. "I wanna be a heroine!"

"Pardon my intrusion, but do you even know where he is?" Arthur inquires.

"Uh...um...no, I don't," Rosa reluctantly admits with a sheepish smile." A little help would be appreciated."

"Knowing Valen, either he's lying on a bench, or he's lying in bed at home," Melanie chimes in.

"Ah, then I'll check his neighborhood!" Rosa exclaims. "I know exactly where that's located!"

"Arthur and I will check his other usual spots, even though I know he won't tell us where he is." Melanie groans. "I bet he asked his Gardevoir to Teleport him home so he could get away faster."

"Rosa Rescue Rangers, it's time to move out!" Rosa sports an enthusiastic grin. Once again, she forms a fist with her right hand and raising it into the air.

"Hey, don't call us that," Melanie scolds, her hands on her hips. "Your help's appreciated and needed, but don't name a group after yourself." The group should be named after her instead.

"That name has quite the stupendous rhythm to it."

"Don't encourage it." Unless he comes up with a group name based on her name.

"Your impudence is unnecessary and inappropriate," Arthur counters. "Please enroll yourself into a educational institution to learn the behavior of a proper lass, thank you."

Melanie blinks. "Who uses the word impudence?" Arthur's similar to Valen's cousin, Jacques.

"I am a gentleman who uses whatever language I wish to use in any given situation." Arthur looks at Rosa. "Fifteen years, eh?"

"Yeeeep, fifteen years!" Rosa twirls. "I've called him Valey since day one!"

"Marvelous," Arthur comments, gesturing like he's reciting a line. "It's like Whitelaw Shakespeare's Roland and Justine, except Valen can actually win a bloody battle."

Rosa laughs, waving her hand dismissively. "Buuuuuuurn!"

"That's why I wrote an AU fic of it!" Melanie grins. "I have Roland as a league winner in it!"

Rosa boisterously laughs, stating, "Even when I was a newbie trainer, I bet I could've beaten Roland easily!"

Arthur blinks. "What's AU?" There's no harbor, and now this. What's with this peculiar terminology?

Melanie smacks her face with her right palm. "You're behind on the times."

Arthur and Melanie exchange banter, while Rosa watches the few clouds in the sky float like ships. Rosa's mind envisions Valen, Hilda, and herself together again, having a playful wresting match. This play will have a happy ending, she just needs to keep believing in herself and them.

Rosa's just strolled into Valen's historic neighborhood. As she walks down the old, cobblestone sidewalk, a sight breeze rustles rustles clothes and hair, as well as the nearby lush grass and leaves on the tall trees. The afternoon sun gleams over the neighborhood's Gothic Revival style houses of the Victorian era. Rosa notes that all of the houses are either two or three stories, and are finished in a variety of colors. Some houses are cream, others are warm red, others are royal maroon, and so on.

Her memories of this neighborhood's coming back to her like a flash flood of thoughts. Rosa had tons of fun hanging out with Valen's family, Melanie, Hilda, and others. "A girl from Aspertia with an awesome goal to seek! I don't know what's in storeeeee, but it won't get the best of meeeee!" She raises her left fist towards the sky. "There's soooooo much to learn and battles to be woooooon! I've advanced soooo far, but there's always moooore to comeeeee!"

She halts, her eyes fixated on the maroon three story house, noting that the house's roof is finished in black. As she eyes the pointy arched windows, she recalls Valen's house being finished in this color scheme. "Take a step and I'm on my way!" she twirls. "I'm gonna win all over again!"

"Hi, did you get yourself a gig in a play?" Valen calls out to Rosa from his front yard.

Rosa lets out a happy gasp, twirling around to face Valen. "I wanna be a heroineeee!" She beams a winsome smile towards Valen, who's standing in front of his front porch's railing. "I'm Rooooosa Advanced! I wanna be your heroine, give me just one chanceeeee!"

Valen rapidly blinks. "You're already-"

"And the future will decide-" Rosa's voice emits a lowered tone, reverting back to normal second later. "If there's a heroine buried deep insideeeeee!" She points her left index finger towards the sky. "I wanna be a heroine! Rosa Forceeeeee!"

"Do I get free tickets because I'm your boy?"

"Tee-hee, you get a VIP pass!" Will Valen will ever plop the Shelby Arbok or the Umbreon XK140 into that garage?

Valen turns to his team of Pokémon, whom are relaxing on the lush front lawn. "Hey, look who dropped by."

All six Pokémon appear to greet Rosa. Salamence and Typhlosion let out slight roars, Gengar waves hello, Gardevoir folds her arms and acknowledges Rosa with her eyes closed. Luxray and Golisopod pretend to be disinterested but still acknowledge her presence via a faint smirk and a cackle respectively.

"Ooooooh, it's your entire team!" Rosa cheers, lifting her right foot up. She clasps her hands next to her right check, evolving into a battle announcer. "The ferocious Salamence, the mischievous Gengar, the fiery Typhlosion, the elegant Gardevoir, the electrifying Luxray, and the menacing Golisopod!"

Valen's Pokémon close their eyes out of joy. They love having Rosa around, and they hope that she'll stay. Wherever Valen and Rosa went, she brought smiles with her. Even the human brooding duo of Silver and Gladion couldn't help but smile around her.

Rosa darts towards Valen. "Wake up, sleepyhead!" She waves her left hand inches away from her face.

Valen snaps back into focus, his face slightly reddening for a brief second. "So, what brings you here?"

Rosa steps back, announcing, "Valey, the Rosa Rescue Rangers are here to assist you!" She turns her body sideways. "Wherever Rosa goes, smiles follow!" She points at Valen with her right ring finger, and places her left hand on her hip.

"The Rosa Rescue Rangers?" Why not the Rosa Force, her fanbase's name. "Super Rosa?" She's more than super.

"That's right!" Rosa asserts again like she's a super heroine within an action movie. "I'm your heroine, warrioress, baroness, countess, duchess, princess, queen, angel, goddess, friend, fangirl, and girlfriend!"

"Well then...this is an interesting development," Valen remarks, unsure what to make of this situation. "A very interesting development, to say the least."

"Smile this instant!" Rosa shouts. "Go, go, go, go smiles! It's your birthday!" She twirls. "Smile like it's your birthday!"

"Super Rosa and the Rosa Rescue Rangers...I can't take this," Valen murmurs, placing his hand over his mouth. He begins to tear up, his cheeks reddening. "Pfffft...pfffft...pffffffftttt...sorry Rosa...I can't...pfft...help it." He erupts with genuine laughter. "I can't help it!

"D-don't laugh!" A red-faced Rosa demands, backing up up a few feet. "T-This is serious! S-Serious responses only!"

"I'm sorry, but this is amazing!" Valen howls, placing his hands on his ribs as he cries laughing. "Leave it to the ball of fluff to make me laugh this much!"

"I-It's not f-funny!" Rosa cries out. "Rosa mad! Rosa smash!"

Valen's Pokémon are taken aback by this and look at each other in confusion, shock, and disbelief. All expect for Gengar, as the grinning ghost joins Valen in laughing.

Then, Gengar realizes that he can pull off his favorite antic. The mischievous Pokémon vanishes into the ground, snickering to himself as he secretly heads towards Rosa to pull said antic. Seconds later, Gengar decides to make his presence known behind Rosa. Tap tap tap, tap Rosa's right shoulder then quickly hide in the ground! Upon Rosa turning her body, Gengar quickly materializes into its full form. Here comes his eerie opera-like scream, which sends Rosa tumbling backwards into Valen. Gengar roars with laughter, extremely pleased with his antic. She's even hugging his now flustered trainer, meaning he helped his trainer get a hug too! Win-win!

"Nobody wanted this house because a Gengar decided to move in." Valen sports a lopsided smirk. "My parents bought the house to restore, while I battled and caught the Gengar," he says. "They kept the house so I had somewhere to stay when I moved out."

Rosa places her right hand over her gaping mouth, jumping backwards like a Cinderace. Her eyes twitch as she fixates her gaze upon the house. Could a being from another world be watching people from behind any of the pointy arched windows? What if there's an entity lurking behind Valen, waiting to take drag both to somewhere unknown?

"I-" Rosa begins to speak as she turns around to at Valen, her face lit up by a smile "I remember this story now!" She clasps her hands next the right side of her head.

Valen yelps, his face looking like a Tamato Berry. Have mercy on him, Rosa's cuteness is too powerful!

"You're so awesome and cool!" She tilts her head, placing her palms under her chin. "I'm cool too! We're all cool, hooray!"

"I would rather find more ghosts in my house than trying to figure this out!" Valen blinks over his own statement. "...That made zero sense...whatever...at least I wasn't called cute." Rosa's cuteness made him hurt himself in his confusion.

"Tee-hee, you're soooo funny!" Rosa closes her eyes, clasping her hands behind her back. "Make sure you smile lots, kay?"

Valen sighs, then smiles. "Wanna come inside and hang out with your boy?"

He walks up the wooden steps leading up to the front door. The steps make a slight creaking noise, but it remains sturdy enough to use.

"Of courseeeee, you silly boy!" Rosa darts up towards the steps. She can feel that he wants to open up again, but is struggling to.

"I could get used to having her around again." Valen faintly smiles as he's about to re-enter his house with Rosa behind him.

"Oh, my other Pokémon need to say hi to you!" Rosa exclaims, clasping her hands next to her right cheek. "I'm sureeeee my Hydreigon and your Salamence will look adorable together again!"

Salamence's face begins to burn up, the other five Pokémon fixating their gazes at him in a teasing manner. Typhlosion lets out a roar to tell Salamence that he's cute, causing him to cry out in embarrassment while she triumphantly grins.

"By the way, where are Melanie and Arthur?" Valen questions, raising his right brow. "I thought that they're-"

"You're just now asking that?!" Melanie calls out, her voice carrying a slightly annoyed tone.

Valen and Rosa turn to look at Arthur and Melanie, their footsteps echoing on the cobblestone sidewalk.

Melanie places her hands on her hips, asking, "Well, what do you have to say for yourself?

Valen shrugs. "Eh, it is what it is." His mouth falls open, recollecting his need to grab something for his ball of fluff. "Bye." He walks into his house, opening the brown wooden door. Noticing that Rosa's making small talk with Arthur, he exchanges a wink with Melanie.

Valen's Pokémon watch him close the front door, broadly grinning. Well, aside from the fact that Gengar grins by default. Regardless, they all know what's about to happen. He's been planning for this moment for a few days.

Before Melanie, Rosa or Arthur can say anything, Valen opens the door. "I'm back." The front steps creak as he walks down them, his right hand in his pocket. "Here you go," Valen says to Rosa as he walks down the steps, revealing that's he's holding a rose in his left hand. "For old time's sake." He places the rose in Rosa's right hand, causing Rosa to blush immensely as she holds onto it. "You're welcome." He smiles, sauntering past Rosa while glancing at her.

A smiling Rosa closes her eyes and holds rose over her heart. She always love him, and she'll make him feel those words again through her actions.

"So, what is the story behind the rose?" Arthur asks, watching Valen and Melanie exchange a fist bump.

"I handed her a rose because I thought it made me look badass," Valen admits, placing his left hand in his pocket. "Anyway, had already invited Rosa inside-"

"I changed my mind! Battle first, date second!" Rosa interjects, bopping Valen's forehead. "Unless we can combine them and be a tag team!"

"I like the tag match idea." Valen pats Rosa's head.

"Yay, head pat!" Rosa cheers. "Rosa Rescue Rangers, assemble!" she twirls. "Oooh, maybe it should be the R-Team or the Rosa League!"

"How about the Rosa Force?" Valen suggests. "You know why."

"Yeeeep, Rosa Force's the name of my fanbase!" Rosa twirls again, her eyes sparkling.

So far, this day has been both amusing and perplexing for Arthur. The people around this bloke seem to truly cherish their relationship with him. Furthermore, he can't help but assess that Rosa and Melanie bear similar traits to Gloria.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 9: Valen's Soft Spot

The battle arena near Valen's house is empty beyond the four of them, and they stand in the middle of the arena. This one's very basic, as it's basically a medium sized park designed for trainers to battle, but it gets the job done. The air around here is pleasantly clean, and the lush, green grass looks well kept, despite clear signs of wear and tear from countless battles. Numerous wooden benches are placed on all four sides for spectators.

Rosa takes a whiff of the air, delighted at the pleasant aroma around her. Then, she glances downwards at the rose Valen gave her, which is clenched in her right hand. She glances up at Valen, then glances bath the rose. She faintly blushes, her mouth curving into an affectionate smile. She carefully places the rose into a smaller compartment within her purse.

"Alright, so-" Valen stops himself from poking two fingers together. "Um…err-"

"The queen wants to battle alongside her valiant king and knight." Rosa closes her eyes, a sweet grin appearing. "Pretty please, Valey sweetie?" She clasps her hands next to her left cheek.

Valen's abnormal squeal perplexes Arthur and forces Melanie to hold back hysterical laughter. That face, it's that face! does she have to be so adorable? Not only that, but she's gorgeous and she's got an amazing personality! All in one package! How's he not supposed to get nervous around such a masterpiece?! This isn't Silver's abnormal endurance for devouring an entire Tamato pepper! This woman's quintuple effective against him!

Rosa tugs at Valen's jacket. "We always have lots of fun together." She faintly giggles. "Please?"

Once again, he stops himself from poking two fingers together. Is this what happens to Silver whenever he's around that Kris person? That's what Skyla told him the last time they chatted.

"Come on, silly!" Rosa bends her elbows in front of her, making punching motions. "Wham, bam, pow!" They win battles at the speed of light! They challenge you so prepare to fight!

He wants to say yes, but he doesn't want to say yes right away. Imagine the shocking scandal that would occur if word got out that Valentinus Beauchêne-Barsotti finds a girl cute.

"Mate, let her battle alongside you," Arthur tells Valen, trying not to laugh. "My assumption is that you do not have the heart to say no."

"Well...alright," Valen pats Rosa's head. "You can team up with me."

"Woo-hoo!" Rosa jumps up and down like a pogo stock.

Rosa drags Valen to the left end of the arena, while Melanie and Arthur walk towards the right end of the arena. Valen, Arthur and Melanie take out a Poké Ball from inside of their jackets, while Rosa takes out a Poké Ball from her pink purse.

Valen presses the ball's button to let out his Gardevoir. She's got her eyes closed, choosing to remain quiet for now. Arthur, Melanie, and Rosa perform the same reaction, with Corviknight, Swampert, and Volcarona emerging in front of their respective trainers. Corviknight flaps his wings and takes flight, letting out a proud cry. Volcarona hovers above the ground, letting out a booming screech. Swampert flexes his front limbs, letting out a resounding growl.

While all four of the humans place the balls back in their respective spots. Swampert and Gardevoir greet each other with pleasant cries. Then, Gardevoir folds her arms, sporting a lopsided grin. She's an unusual Gardevoir—she radiates a slightly ominous aura around her. Despite her witch-like laugh, Swampert and Volcarona, plus their respective trainers, know that she's a good Pokémon. She's just very cocky and devious.

Corviknight studies the level of smugness and confidence emitting from this Gardevoir, who's taller than her trainer. He's taken aback by this elegant Pokémon's demeanor, the large avian's mouth partially gaping open. He flashes a smile when Gardevoir looks back at her trainer with an affectionate smile.

"I don't wanna wait another minute!" Rosa cheers, raising her right fist. "Volcarona, use Calm Mind!"

"Two can play at that game!" Melanie announces. "Swampert, Work Up!"

Volcarona closes his eyes, a translucent dark red aura emitting from his red wings. The aura envelops his entire body, a wave-like motion rippling within it. At the same time, Swampert's body is enveloped by a blue aura. The aura vanishes seconds later, and Swampert lets out a booming cry.

"Use Steel Wing against Gardevoir," Arthur commands.

Both of Corviknight's wings glow metallic gray. Then, he dives down towards Gardevoir. Gardevoir awaits her command, but her smile vanishes when she glances behind her. She wonders if her her trainer losing focus yet again? Come on, you're strong. You're a strong human. We're strong.

"...Sorry," Valen tells Gardevoir. "Use Mystical Fire."

Before Gardevoir can even begin to counter, Corviknight's wings slam into her abdomen. She yelps, stumbling backwards. However, Gardevoir refuses to go down, mustering up her entire will to fight. She folds her arms, her smirk returning. She looks into the eyes of her opponents with a cocky gaze, cackling to "try a little harder." In response, Swampert chuckles over how she's still the same, while Corviknight lets out a prideful cry.

"Flamethrower on Corviknight!"

The aura vanishes, then red-orange flames envelop all of Volcarona's wings. All of the flames converge onto the middle of Volcarona's body, combining into a powerful stream of fire. Volcarona re-opens his eyes and launches the stream of fire at Corviknight.

"Swampert, Mud Shot!"

Corviknight backs up while still in the air. His quadrupedal teammate counters the Flamethrower by launching a large ball of mud from his mouth.

Both attacks collide and cause an explosion, resulting in a lot of smoke that floods the field. Corviknight lets out a faint cry to thank Swampert, who smiles in response.

"Swampert, hit Volcarona with Liquidation," Melanie commands.

Swampert's enveloped by a oval shaped orb of water. He lets out a menacing cry as he charges towards Volcarona, blowing away the remaining smoke in the process.

Before either Rosa or Valen can counter, Swampert collides into Volcarona, sending him crashing into the ground. Rosa's mouth falls open, but she breathes a sigh of relief when Volcarona's able to get back up.

Gardevoir can't take her eyes off of her trainer, her cocky smirk having morphed into a worried frown. A thumbs up causes her smirk to return, letting Volcarona know that she's going to clean up house. Volcarona jokes that Gardevoir must clean up house a lot due to her attitude, to which Gardevoir merely cackles over.

"Liquidation again!"

Swampert's enveloped by a oval shaped orb of water again. He lets out the same cry, lunging towards Volcarona like a missile being launched.

"Intercept with Teleport and Reflect." Valen places his hands in the pockets of his black leather pants.

Gardevoir smirks, vanishing and reappears in front of Volcarona with her hands raised. Gardevoir's eyes glow light blue as she creates a circular barrier. Swampert's Liquidation attack crashes into the glowing, light blue barrier, causing Gardevoir's elegant flowing gown to blow backwards. Gardevoir wobbles a bit, but she remains standing. Gardevoir grins at Swampert, with Swampert grinning back.

"Prior to meeting Arthur, my last battle was nearly four weeks ago." Valen lets out a self-deprecating laugh. "Maybe five weeks...I don't fully recall."

"This battle's for fun," Rosa assures. "There's no pressure on you, kay?"

"Thanks." Valen pats her head. "Thanks for being patient with me," Valen tells them. "I might not show it, but I'm grateful for that." He faintly smiles. "Let's continue the battle."

"Use Steel Wing against Gardevoir."

"Volcarona, it's your turn to help Gardevoir!" Rosa bends her elbows in front of her with her fists clenched. "Flare Blitz!"

A red-orange fireball begins to form and surround Volcarona. As Corviknight is swooping in to strike Gardevoir, Volcarona launches himself like a meteorite, striking Corviknight head before Steel Wing can hit Gardevoir. Afterwards, red-orange flames surround and deal recoil damage to Volcarona.

Rosa gives Valen a wink, while Valen simply closes his eyes and smiles. He places his right hand back into his right pocket.

Gardevoir says thanks, emulating her trainer by closing her eyes and smiling. Volcarona lets out a cry to say that Gardevoir's welcome.

"Use Magical Leaf against Swampert."

Using her psychic powers, Gardevoir materializes a barrage of green, crescent shaped leaves and sends them hurling towards Swampert, who's unable to get out of the way in time.

Melanie looks concerned as the barrage of leaves sends Swampert reeling, but concern quickly turns into an approving smile. Swampert struggles to pull himself together, but he's still raring to go.

As for Corviknight, Arthur smiles in relief when Corviknight gets back up on his feet. Corviknight out a loud cry as he flaps his wings and takes flight once again. Corviknight and Swampert exchange glances again, both smiling over being able to battle against such strong opponents.

"I'm having sooo much fun!" Rosa cheerfully proclaims, jumping up into the air. "Use Giga Drain against Swampert!" She bends her elbows in front of her, tightening her fists.

Volcarona's body begins to emit a red aura, red streams of energy extend from each of Volcarona's wings and it latches into Swampert. Swampert closes his eyes and lets out an unpleasant grunt as Volcarona sucks away Swampert's health to replenish his own. Eventually, the red aura and red streams evaporate. Swampert falls to the ground, but he's not out yet.

"Come on, Swampert!" Melanie shouts words of encouragement, watching her Swampert struggle to get back up on his feet.

"Use Moonblast."

Gardevoir cackles, her eyes glowing light pink. A glowing moon-like orb forms in-between her hands.

"Iron Head."

Corviknight's entire head glows metallic gray, the avian diving down towards Gardevoir.

"Volcarona, stop Corviknight with Flamethrower!"

Once again, red-orange flames envelop all of Volcarona's red wings, the flames converging onto the middle of Volcarona's body. Then, Volcarona fires off another stream of fire, striking Corviknight in the face. At the same time, Gardevoir swings her right hand back, then hurls the large orb at Swampert. The orb collides into Swampert's face, causing him to stumble upwards, his face looking at the sky. Swampert slams back down, but is able to stand up seconds later.


Gardevoir's eyes glow light pink again, the same orb forming in-between her hands.

"Corviknight, Iron Head."

"Swampert, Hydro Cannon!"

"Uh oh!" Rosa yelps, jumping backwards.

Corviknight's entire head glows metallic gray again, charging downwards at Gardevoir. Meanwhile, an orb of water forms in front of Swampert's mouth, rapidly becoming bigger than the quadruped's head. Then, Swampert unleashes a surge of water that's almost the same size as him.

Before Gardevoir can launch the second Moonblast, Corviknight crashes into her, causing her to stagger. As her gown blows backwards, Gardevoir nearly loses balance. At the same time, Volcarona's blasted by the powerful attack and he's sent hurling behind his trainer. He crashes into the ground, a wide-eyed Rosa glancing at him, then glancing back at Swampert.

"Iron Head again!"

Corviknight's entire head glows metallic gray again, and he dives down towards Gardevoir. Much to Arthur's surprise, Valen doesn't issue any commands. Gardevoir stands there with her arms folded, staring at the incoming Corviknight with a cocky smile. Melanie and Rosa don't say anything, keeping their arms folded. Melanie notices that Swampert's pulling himself back together, while Rosa exchanges a faint laugh with Volcarona.

At the last second, Valen's stern expression turns into a confident smirk. "Evade, then use Thunderbolt."

Right when Corviknight is about to strike, Gardevoir jumps to the right of Corviknight to get out of the way, her gaze oozing self-pride. A stunned Corviknight has his mouth gaping open, while Gardevoir glances over at him with an ear-to-ear, smug grin. Purple sparks surround Gardevoir's body. She launches a powerful bolt of purple electricity at Corviknight, who's unable to evade or counter in time, and takes a direct zap to his face, with the attack quickly enveloping his entire body.

"The bloke timed it until the last second?!"

"My Valey's soooo coool!" Rosa gushes, jumping up and down. She bends her elbows, raising her fists out in front of her. "Go! Go! Go! Go! Go Valeeeeey! Yaaaaay, go Valeeeey!"

"I love seeing the look on people's faces when he pulls a stunt like this," Melanie admits, smirking with her eyes closed. "Swampert, use Stone Edge."

Swampert slams his hands onto the ground. Then, several giant pillars of rock sprout upwards, emitting a white glow. The pillars slam into both Volcarona and Gardevoir. Gardevoir wobbles, but is able to remain upright. Volcarona falls to the ground, struggling to get up.

"Yeah!" Melanie exclaims, her eyes glistening. "Stone Edge again!"

Swampert slams his hands onto the ground. Several giant pillars of rock sprout upwards, emitting a white glow.

"Not this time." Valen smirks. "Gardevoir, counter with Psychic."

Melanie's eyebrows curve upwards. "Oh no!" places her right hand over her gaping mouth. "I forgot about her Psychic!"

Gardevoir laughs, her wide grin looking borderline maniacal. Her eyes glow light blue. Gardevoir fires an enormous wave of light blue energy, causing her flowing gown to blow backwards. The wave of energy causes a flurry of shockwaves within the ground and air. As a result, everybody's clothes and hair start to ripple. The light blue wave of energy disintegrates the rock pillars before they can do additional damage.

Both Swampert and Corviknight are pushed backwards at a high velocity. Both bellow, shutting their eyes as they try to endure it. Corviknight nearly loses his balance in-flight, the avian barely avoiding plummeting to the ground. By now, Volcarona's able to pull himself together, floating in the air one more. Corviknight's also able to pull himself together, but he notices that his trainer's got something on his mind.

"Gardevoir's been tending to my emotional issues, but she's ruthless in battle." Valen's voice emits a prideful tone.

Gardevoir nods, her eyes closed and her arms folded. What a silly human her trainer is. She's what the humans call a boss when it comes to battling.

Since the skies are cloudless, Rosa decides to have Volcarona launch an even stronger Grass-type attack. "Solar Beam!"

Volcarona uses his wings to absorb sunlight, and his wings glow translucent red. The light converges into a beam the size of Volcarona's entire body, and he launches it. The massive beam strikes a still reeling Swampert head on, enveloping him and most of the battlefield with its intense light. Once the light fades, Swampert's shown to be hunched over. He pants, but has a faint grin on his face. It wouldn't be fun if his opponents weren't strong, now would it?

"Steel Wing on Gardevoir."

"Block Volcarona with High Horsepower."

Both of Corviknight's wings glow metallic gray and he charges at Gardevoir at a much closer distance to avoid being caught off guard. At the same time, Swampert pulls himself together, standing upright on his hind legs, his body glowing with a dark blue era. Then, he jumps at a high rate of speed.

Corviknight's wings strike Gardevoir's abdomen, causing her to fall onto the ground. As she tries to get back up, Swampert slams into her teammate. Volcarona's sent flying behind Rosa, crashing into the ground seconds later.

Corviknight and Swampert fall back, while Volcarona pulls himself together. He shouts into the sky, jumping in front of his trainer. Gardevoir manages to stand up right again. She glances back at Valen, smiling when he gives her a thumbs up.

"Solar Beam again!"


Volcarona uses his wings to absorb sunlight again, his wings glowing translucent red. The light converges into a beam the size of Volcarona's entire body. Before Arthur can command a counter, purple sparks envelop Gardevoir's body. She cackles, firing off a powerful lightning bolt.

Corviknight's struck just under his beak, the electricity enveloping him within seconds. He yelps, nearly losing his mid-air balance. A strong flap of his wings manages to keep him up in the air, but he's come to realize that his cocky Gardevoir can more than back up her demeanor.

Volcarona blasts Swampert with a large, translucent red beam of energy. Swampert's sent flying backwards, crashing into the ground behind Melanie. Melanie looks back with a surprised expression, watching Swampert attempt to stand up on his hind legs. The Water and Ground-type pants, narrowing his eyes at his opponents. He's taken a lot of damage, but he's not going down like this. Then, Swampert's eyes glow blue, a translucent blue aura enveloping his body.

"Torrent...use Hydro Cannon!"

Once again, an orb of water forms in front of Swampert's mouth, quickly becoming bigger than his head. He unleashes a surge of water that's almost the same size as him, blasting both Gardevoir and Volcarona at the same time. Both Gardevoir and Volcarona are sent hurling behind their trainers, falling onto the ground. Gardevoir manages to get back up, but she notices that Volcarona's still struggling.

"Heal Pulse."

Gardevoir smiles, sending multiple pink waves of energy in Volcarona's direction. The glowing pink waves envelop Volcarona, his body glowing the same color. After the pink energy evaporates, Volcarona lets out a cheerful cry. Both Pokémon jump in front of their respective trainers.

Swampert lets out a cry to commend his opponents, then he slams down onto the ground.

"We win some and we lose some." Melanie shrugs, faintly smiling. She recalls her Swampert back into his Poké Ball. She places Swampert's Poké Ball back inside her blue jean jacket. "Good battle, you two."

"Thanks, but that was more of my girl's doing than me." Valen glances at Rosa with an approving smile. "I'm nothing special, but she's very special."

"Yay, my Valey sweetie called me his girl!" Rosa blushes with her eyes closed, clasping her hands next to her left cheek. "We're both special, you silly booooy!"

Melanie gives everyone a warm smile as she goes to sit down on the bench behind Arthur.

"Use Mystical Fire."

Gardevoir musters up enough energy to stand upright. She cackles as her eyes glow purple, two flaming swords appearing in front of her. She moves her hands like a composer, Corviknight's eyes slightly widen, veering from side to side like a car driving around cones. Seconds later, both swords are slammed into Corviknight's back. The avian goes careening into the ground while being enveloped by several circles of purple flames that glows more intensely.

"You really are strong, mate," Arthur commends. "Iron Head."

Corviknight's able to pull himself together, flapping his wings and taking to the skies. Once again, Corviknight's head glows metallic gray and it charges downwards at Gardevoir from up in the air. Corviknight's striking from a closer distance, not leaving any time for Valen and Gardevoir to pull the same stunt again. Corviknight lands a direct hut and Gardevoir almost falls to the ground. She manages to stay standing, albeit her eyes are shut as she reels from the damage.

"Brave Bird!"

Corviknight flies up even higher, before immediately charging downwards at Volcarona at a high rate of speed, bursting into flames like he's a rocket burning up in reentry. As Gardevoir pulls herself together, Volcarona's sent flying backwards behind Rosa, eventually crashing into the ground. Meanwhile, Corviknight closes his right eye in pain, having taken recoil damage.

"Come on, Volcarona!" Rosa encourages, looking back at her Volcarona. He's trying his best, but he's struggling to pull himself together.

"Iron Head again!"

Corviknight bears off the recoil damage and flies back upward. His head glows metallic gray and it charges downwards. Gardevoir's unable to evade this one either, and Volcarona still reeling from Brave Bird, so he's unable to block it. Gardevoir takes another direct hit, and she's now barely standing.

However, Gardevoir refuses to go down like this. She folds her arms, telling Corviknight to try harder. Corviknight chuckles, admiring her boldness.


Gardevoir faintly smirks, Purple sparks surrounding her body again. She launches a purple lightning bolt at Corviknight. Corviknight's mouth falls open, the electricity striking him under his lower jaw. Seconds later, the electricity evolves his entire body.

As Corviknight attempts to pull himself back together. Gardevoir's heavily panting. Valen glances over at his kneeling, then he glances over to Volcarona. He notices that Volcarona's managing to pull itself together. As he watches Volcarona moving in front of Rosa, Valen decides to hasten the process if or when he gets the chance.

"Use Iron Head."

Arthur's command catches Valen's attention, noting that Corviknight's already pulled himself together. He watches Corviknight's head glow metallic gray, then he smiles at his Gardevoir. "Gardevoir, I'm proud of you," he compliments. "Use Heal Pulse on Volcarona."

Once again, Gardevoir fires off multiple pink waves of energy. The waves envelop Volcarona, his body glowing pink. Noticing that Corviknight's charging at her, Gardevoir smiles at him out of respect and vice versa. Corviknight crashes into Gardevoir, and she falls to the ground in defeat. She tried her best to keep her will to fight, and she's satisfied with her performance. What matters the most to her is the fact that Valen's proud of her.

"Thanks again, Valen and Gardevoir!" Rosa winsomely smiles, her Volcarona letting out a gentle cry.

"It's up to you now, Rosa." Valen recalls his Gardevoir, giving Rosa an approving smile and a thumbs up. "As for you, get some rest." He places Gardevoir's Poké Ball back inside his black leather jacket.

Rosa tilts her head back, closing her eyes as she folds her arms. "Battle Queen Rosa's got this."

Volcarona lets out a loud screech, letting Corviknight know that he's going to lose. In response, Corviknight lets out a faint laugh. As Volcarona and Corviknight continue to battle, Valen takes a seat next to Melanie.

Melanie brightly smiles. "You sure you aren't changing?" She playfully flicks Valen on the top of his head.

Valen folds his arms. "The bar's still at five percent. Downloading stalled for some reason."

Melanie chuckles, causing Valen to smirk. "By the way, does Gardevoir still harbor disdain for using Teleport as an evasion tactic?"

"I don't like that idea either."

Valen and Melanie return their focus the battle again, noting that Corviknight and Volcarona have been going at it. They could've platonically cuddled in secret for old time's sake, but what can you do?


Red-orange flames enveloped all of Volcarona's red wings, and flames converge and combine into a powerful stream of fire. Volcarona fires off the stream of fire, striking Corviknight on the top of his head. This time, Corviknight ends up glowing bright red, indicating it's been burned.

"This lass really doesn't mess around in a battle!" Arthur's eyes widen, but his shock quickly turns into enjoyment. "Well, it wouldn't be any fun if this was too easy, would it now?" He looks directly at Rosa and Volcarona. "Corviknight, use Aerial Ace."

Corviknight flies upwards, then charges back down as his body is surrounded by white aura of energy. Within milliseconds, Corviknight crashes into Volcarona, sending it reeling. However, Volcarona's in this fight.

"Brave Bird!"

Corviknight flies backs upwards. Then, he charges downwards at Volcarona, bursting into flames like last time.

"Counter with Flare Blitz!" Rosa bends her elbows in front of her, tightening her fists.

Once more, a red-orange fireball begins to form and surround Volcarona, and he charges towards Corviknight. The ensuing collision between the two causes a massive explosion, with smoke making it even harder to see, causing all four of them to close their eyes and cover their mouths.

Once all of the smoke have cleared, both Pokémon struggle to stay in the air. Corviknight's taken the brunt of the collision, plus the burn caused by Flamethrower's still dealing additional damage.

After what feels like an eternity for both trainers, Corviknight crashes into the ground.

"Yay, yay, yay, yay!" Rosa cheers, jumping up and down. "Good job, Volcarona!"

"Good fight, Corviknight." Arthur recalls his Pokémon, placing the ball back inside his trench coat.

Volcarona lets out a delighted cry. Rosa darts up to him, giving him a kiss to the top of his head. Volcarona lets out an affectionate cry, his trainer now petting him. Back into the ball Volcarona goes. Rosa places his ball back inside her purse, then she runs towards Valen.

"Go, go, go Rosa! It's Rosa's birthday! We'll party like it's Rosa's birthday, even though it's not actually Rosa's birthday!"

As Rosa and Valen exchange another fist bump, Melanie gives Valen a teasing smile. "Rosa seems like she's the biggest exception."

"...I might have a soft spot for Rosa, and that's a very big might, so don't get any wrong ideas." Valen closes his eyes and folds his arms.

"He still thinks that I'm the cutest!" Rosa giggles, twirling on her tiptoes.

Upon hearing this, Valen's face becomes bright red for a very brief moment. "Hmph, I have no idea what any of you are talking about," he counters. "I don't even know what the word cutest means."

The duo exchange a smile as they turn around, both Valen and Rosa noticing it. "Where are you two going?"

"We think you two charming lovebirds need some quality time together," Arthur jokes with an approving smile. "Make your move already, mate. If you did it once, you can do it again." He hasn't said it, but the name Valen still rings a bell. He's just been unable to pinpoint exactly where he's heard his name before.

"Don't screw this up, because I still ship it," Melanie gives Valen a playful smile and a wink. "The Valen that I remember became a ladies' man, but I'll still help you to pick a ring."

Rosa waves with a beaming smile, while Valen rapidly blinks with a sheepish smile. Once they're out of sight, around his neck her arms go.

"I'm sorry for not being there for you," she whispers. "If you won't be happier for yourself, then at least try to be happier for me, kay?"

Valen stares into the distance and blinks in surprise. Twice, twice he's felt Rosa's arms wrapped around his neck on the same day. He makes no attempt to hide his genuine smile, placing his right hand on Rosa's back and his left hand on the back of her head to embrace her. This ball of fluff's always been a bright light.

"Heh, you're worried about me?"

"Tough guys like you also need to feel loved, so shut up and let me show you some affection, kay?" Rosa caresses Valen's right cheek. "You're overdue for your required doses of Rosa's love, my sweetie."

"...Alright, thanks." Valen lets go of Rosa and vice versa. He places his hands in his pockets and looks up into the late afternoon sky as the sun starts to set. "A bright heart can become shrouded in darkness upon seeing the horrors of this world," he comments. "Is there a light that shines so bright that it can vanquish the darkness from one's heart?"

"I'll be that light!" Rosa cheers, clasping her hands in front of her chin. "I'll bring lots of joy back into your life!" Behind her back her hands go. "Soooooo, do you still think I'm the cutest, big boy?"

Valen turns his head away, his face burning up once again. "Oh, uh, um, how do I put this...w-well, I do still find y-yo-you both c-c-c-cute and b-beautiful, but please keep that between us, especially the c-c-c-cute part. Heh heh heh." He repeatedly pokes his two index fingers together. He's screwed, isn't he?

Yay, I knew it!" Rosa triumphantly proclaims, her smile becoming coy. "However, if you still find me cute-"

Rosa mischievously grins as she places her left arm around Valen's neck, just as Valen re-opens his eyes. He turns away, only for Rosa to turn his head back towards her.

Rosa wags her right index finger, shaking her head. "Tsk tsk tsk, fess up to the queen." She places her right index finger on her lower up, blowing a kiss at him. "You're still the most handsome knight I've ever seen, big boooy."

"Lalalalalalalala, I can't hear you!" He plus his ears with his index fingers. "Lalalalala, I don't know what cute means!"

Rosa yanks his arms. "You're so silly."

"O-Okay, fine!" Valen clenches his teeth, taking a deep breath. "F-First of all, y-yo-you're still as g-gor-gorgeous as ever." Valen repeatedly pokes two fingers together. "Also, y-yo-your per-person-personality's so a-ado-adorable that it's unsafe."

Rosa's eyes sparkle like a starry night sky. "Woo-hoo!"

Huh, it actually felt quite good to Valen. It felt good to let that one out, but why does he get so nervous around her? He know he's a dork, but he won his crush's heart. He makes less sense than Gladion brooding over fries...wait, that's an exaggeration. Nothing makes less sense than that.

Ooooh, her sweetie thinks he can just go quiet!" Tee-hee, look at this hunky hottieeeee." Rosa flirtatiously winks, grabbing his right arm.. She slowly rubs his arm with both hands, her smile now seductive. "You think you can lift me up, big boooy?" Her eyelids flutter, her forehead resting on his. "C'mon, lift me up."

Valen's smug attitude reverts back to being abnormally adorable, at least in her eyes. "H-Hmph, of c-cor-course I can lift y-yo-you up!"

"Baby boy, not a day goes by without you being sweet to me!" She moves her neck from side to side, wagging her right index finger. "I think about you lots of times, my favorite boy's a cutie!"

"I'm a badass!" Valen shrieks again, hiding his face with his palms.

"Noooo, you're a cool cutie!" Rosa yanks his hands off of his face. "Roar, Sweet Kiss!" She twirls, then inches closer towards Valen. She kisses Valen on the lips before he can say anything, causing him to blush again.

Valen takes a deep breath, affectionately smiling. "You're a real pain in my ass, but you're an adorable pain in my ass, which is fine with me."

Rosa's smile becomes even wider. "Heeeey, can Rosa pet the kitty?"

Not even a minute later, Valen's Luxray jets out of his Poké Ball and onto the cobblestone sidewalk. No, he's not a cute kitten! He's a proud feline! Upon noticing Rosa's chasing him, his bluish face reddens. Nooooo, she caught him! Noooo, the petting feels good!

As he waits with an amused smile, Valen takes his phone out of his left pocket. He's got several news notification, most of which is related to art. Huh, they found a lost Jorgen van Eyck painting? He's gotta check that out in detail later today.

He scrolls down, his smile evaporating upon spotting one headline in particular: BW Agency President Confirms That She's Moving To Angel City.

Valen reads the title multiple times, feeling a chill throughout his body. He bends over due to his painfully tense muscles. He shouldn't be afraid, but his mind's in a state of paranoia. As his head thumps, he dreads to think how badly he'll be torn to pieces by Hilda. He looks down at his palms, his mouth gaping in horror.

"Why's this happening to me?!" He wails, his hands trembling. "I know what happened was...that doesn't mean...why was I scared of Rosa?! Why am I scared of Hilda?! What have I become?!" He takes several deep breaths, but it's not working this time. "Why can't this fucked up mind of mine leave me alone?!"

More deep breaths finally do the trick, but he slumps down on his knees. He feels Rosa wrapping her arms around his neck, her lips pressed against the back of his head. Luxray licks his right hand, his front paws on the lower arm.

"...I don't know...I've become a monster...I hurt-"

"Stop," Rosa interposes, her voice and face stern. "Please, don't do this to yourself."

"...Sorry," Valen mewls, his voice higher pitched than normal. "This shouldn't...be-"

"Shhhh, I'm here now." Rosa holds Valen tighter. "I'm here by your side, sweetie." She feels Valen wrapping her arms around his midsection. "I meant those words, you'll see."

Valen tries to pet Luxray while hugging Rosa. "I know that's it's irrational, but it's like all my logical thinking is pushed aside by this."

Luxray laments how weak his teammates and him feel regarding their trainer's condition. They've never dealt with anything like this before, and it hurts. It hurts them to see him like this. However, his teammates and him know that they can back him up by always being there for him, just like Rosa and Melanie. Their trainer's told them that they've given him the strength to fight back, no matter how bleak his situation feels.

When writing this, I forgot that Duraludon and Corviknight were both part Steel-types. However, I left both in because of their additional typing.

Thoughts on the first double battle? Thoughts on the chapter overall?
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 10: Hilda's In The House!

Rosa's on her way to the small house that she's renting for the time being. All of the houses within this neighborhood were built in the the 1920s, this one being a one story.

She strolls down the concrete pathway to the house's wooden door. She takes a deep breath, looking inside via the two square windows on the upper part of the door. The door creaks open as she opens it, her footsteps echoing as she steps onto the tiled floor. She needs to remain optimistic for her sake, for everybody's sake.

After locking the front door, Rosa surveys the living room and the kitchen area, both already containing common pieces of furniture and appliances. She walks towards her bedroom, immediately realizing that she has seven unopened brown packages scattered around her bedroom. Great, she had so much fun that I totally forgot to the remaining boxes. She places her right hand on her forehead, musing that she better get this done so she can have lots more fun.

"It's time for Rosa's Extreme Energy Power-Up Attack!" She forms fists with both of her hands. "I'll reward myself by watching Fossil Park afterwards!"

Her phone's dinging delays her umpteenth twirl. She grabs her phone from a nearby desk. Her eyes glow when she sees who just texted her. Awesome, the flight's landed! Hilda and her exchange a flurry of grin emojis, then she places her phone back on the desk. Roar, it's time for her awesome unpacking skills! That makes no sense, but whooooo careeees?!

"My whole's life led to this, it's time to test my skills!" She cheers, doing a twirl. "I know that I just can't miss! I'm gonna show the world that I'm born to be a winner! Born to be a champion!" She unpacks a box filled with her movie DVDs, her film history book, her theatre history book, and other books. "Born to be a winner, born to be one of the best!" She organizes and sorts the items, placing them on her medium sized bed. Then, she goes to open other boxes that contains belongings such as magazines, trophies, badges, and photos. "Born to be a winner, Rosa Force!"

As she continues to unpack, Rosa turns turns her attention to the opened box that contains a giant pile of magazines. They're all older issues of Trainer's Digest, and The Arts' Hub, with the Trainer's Digest issue on the top being six years old. She decided to pick these up in bulk because they were very cheap. A number of them were even free. "Some may see bulk, but I see inspiration and knowledge!"

The Trainer's Digest magazines causes cause Rosa's mouth to fall open, having remembered something that she needs to do. What's really going on with him? What happened to the trainer who was a big inspiration for Hilda and her?

Rosa grabs her cell phone and dials his number. She hopes that he understands that she means well for him. She trusts him, he trusts her, but his mind's working against him. After a few rings, Valen picks up. Rosa takes a deep breath, hoping this doesn't backfire. She doesn't want to lose somebody so precious to her.

"Valen...um...this is a serious matter." She puts her phone on speaker, placing it next to her upper leg. "Why'd...you lie about your wins to me?" She grips her upper left legs, her gaze meeting her knees.

"It's a long story...does it matter?" Valen asks, his voice dull. "Whether I told the truth or not, it was a lose-lose situation."

"Yes, it does," Rosa counters, furrowing her brow. "Please admit it...please don't lie." She bites her lower up, her chin touching her neck. "I've never dealt with something like this before...it hurts seeing you like this."

"...What's going to happen to me?"

Rosa gasps, horror taking over her face. She can hear a hint of fear in his shaky voice, but why? Is he actually afraid of her? No, please no. Please don't say this is why he wasn't calling her.

"Are you...going to...what's going to happen to me?"

Rosa's eyes widen, feeling a tremor. What's affecting his mind just used Poison Sting on her heat. "What are you saying?!" She shouts, her voice cracking with emotion. "I'd never do anything like that to you!" Her eyes begin to moisten up, her pulse and heartbeat racing. "Come on, you know who I am! Please don't do this!"

Her body crumples inwards, her forehead hitting her right knee. Why is this happening, why did this have to happen?! Stop hurting her sweetie, let him be happy! If you must hurt somebody, hurt her instead! Leave him alone, leave him alone, leave him alone!

"...Right...sorry," Valen sheepishly responds, taking several deep breaths. "I overreacted...I'm just...scared...my mind's all screwed up."

Rosa sits upright. "It's hard for me to see you like this." She takes a hard deep breath, wincing as she rubs her forehead. "But I'm not mad, sweetie," she reassures, wiping her eyes. "I just don't want you to value yourself so little."

"I had to cease battling...my issues...were affecting my team too." Valen sighs. "I...I don't think it matters...I've become so much weaker...I'm ashamed of who I've become."

"You're still Valen, you're just confused."

"I suppose so...thanks." Valen's voice emits a soft tone. "...Sorry for lying...my thought process is all screwed up." His heavy deep breath can be heard through the speaker. 'You sure you don't want to live with me?" He asks, his voice faintly cracking. "Really, it's fine...I just got a bit spooked, that's all."

"Sweetie, I'll come live with you eventually," she promises. "I just don't want to risk making things harder for you, that's all."

"You're a sweet person...I just..."I...you already...brought more joy into my life again…I've remembered-"

Rosa tightens her left fist, her eyes titled down. She's a strong-willed woman, and she needs to remain that. "We have to proceed step by step, kay?" She consoles, pressing her lips together. "Please try to relax—everything's going to be okay."

"Thanks…um...anything else?"

"Silly, it's your turn." Rosa faintly giggles, her tone so soothing that it's lullaby-like. "Come on, I'm trying to lighten up the mood here."

"Oh...well...I'm the the mood for what's regarded as the first modern art history book, Or rather, a reprinted version of said book."

"Oooooh, somebody's going to read Pietro Vasari's Lives of the Great Artists!" Rosa's eyes sparkle, her fists under her chin. "The guy who invented the art history field as we know it today!" That was his first art history book too!

Okay fineeeee, he had a clear bias towards his hometown of Florentine City. Nevertheless, his work remains a monumental achievement. It's a source that must be consulted when studying the Ragulian Renaissance. One of her favorites stories within the work is the one about Giotto di Buonacorsus painting Gengar eyes all over the walls to prank his teacher. Another favorite is Donatello Bezio having spilled lunch all over his Flygon upon seeing a friend's wooden sculpture of Xerneas.

She happily gasps when his clapping can be heard over the speaker. "Yay, Valey's proud of me!" She twirls, her eyes widening when she realizes she's about to fall off her bed. She yelps, jumping backwards to avoid falling. "When will I learn not to twirl while sitting close to the edge?!"

Valen laughs, commenting, "Let's see if I can read and talk to ball of fluff at the same time."

The dry texture of the pages can be faintly heard through the speaker as he turns them.

"Heh, remember how bad my attempts at painting were? Best I leave that up to you."

"Tee-hee, and my energy reserves are the size of a Snorlax!" she twirls. "That's why you can handle longer stretches of sitting for research!"

She can do it if she's given long breaks, but she's a kooky one. You never know what you'll get with Roooosa!

"We compliment each other well, Rosa Rafaela Mieke Whitley."

"We're the painter and the historian, Valentinus Beauchêne-Barsotti!"

"...Why did we say our names like that?"

"It's cuz we're idiots in love!" Rosa faintly blushes, closing her eyes. Onto her cheeks her palms go. "I love how self-aware we can be at times!"

As they continue chatting, Rosa hopes that she can put her worried mind at ease overtime. At least she managed to put him at ease for now, plus they're having one of their normal conversations.

Within a part of central Angel City that's just north of downtown, Leaf, Hilda, Calem, and Brendan stroll down a concrete sidewalk, the afternoon sun is obstructed by the thick white clouds jamming the sky. Cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles pass them on the busy roads, bringing along a jumbled mess of beeping, engine noises, and honking. Street vendors announce their goods to everybody that passes and the aromas of various foods flow through the air. A lot of people walk, chatter, and lauugh along the sidewalk, a number exiting or entering the buildings.

The four friends walk past the aged wall-to-wall buildings, which house everything from a deli to an antique shop. Brendan's eyes light up when he sees a trio of trainers with a Sceptile, a Blaziken and a Swampert. A Loudred's standing in line filled with a bunch of confused people. Brendan, along with Calem, smirk upon seeing a Guzmani store. Serena's crazy about brands like this, but she's still a nice person.

Leaf attempts to watch where she's going, but her brown eyes are fixated on the narrow buildings with pyramid shaped roofs. As she wonders what food and goods are available inside, Leaf notes that these aged buildings are dotted with dozens of windows that curve at the top or are completely rectangular. She wonders why some buildings have both styles of windows. Maybe Kris can fill her in, assuming Kris doesn't yell at her again like a Loudred. She studies young woman now keenly studying the various colors, such as maroon, hazel, azure, and dark brown. Then, Leaf almost bumps into Hilda, barely avoiding doing so at the last second. Her face reddens, nervously looking around. She breathes a sigh of relief.

Hilda doesn't notice it, or anything else for that matter. "I still need to figure out the best spot for a giant billboard." She keenly focuses on the map she's viewing on her phone.

"Traffic light pole," Calem tells her, faintly chuckling. "Don't run into it."

"H-Huh?" Hilda looks up and yelps when she realizes she was mere inches away from running face first into a metal pole that holds up traffic lights and a pair of street signs.

"Aieeee, t-that was a close one!" Hilda hides her face behind her hands. "Y-You saw n-nothing!"

"You're still a klutz." Calem places his left palm over his face. "Serena warned me, but I didn't listen."

"She was thinking about Pokémon battles so she wasn't paying attention!" Leaf giggles, happy that her own blunder wasn't noticed.

"Reminds me of when she fell into the water outside Slateport City!" Brendan laughs, patting Hilda's upper back. "You really are a giant klutz!"

Hilda yelps, hiding her reddening face with her palms. Why must they team up to roast her?! Roast somebody else!"

"...Anyway, this city is huge." Calem fixates his gray eyes on the city's towering skyline in the distance, slightly lifting up his cap. "I guess they call it a megacity for a reason."

"Yeah, this place is really impressive!" Brendan exclaims, his elbows and fists extending out in front of him. "I wish May could've come along!"

"That's Salon Maiden May to you, silly." Hilda titters, moving her palms away from her face. "A worthy successor to Anabel."

"Damn right, my girl kicks ass in both battles and contests."

"Bet Gladion's still brooding over Silvally losing to her Latios." Leaf giggles. "Silver caught him brooding about getting the wrong size of fries."

Calem shrugs while chuckling. "It's plausible."

"Hehe, we're all bad," Hilda jokes, placing her right hand in front of her mouth. "And silly."

"I want to visit Sunset Studios!" Leaf's eyes sparkle, her fists placed under her chin. "Ooooh, I better take a selfie of myself in front of the big sign!" She runs her hand through her dark brown hair, which extends down to her lower back. "Hilda, Rosa and you better prepare for competition!"

"You'll never top us!" Hilda boisterously laughs, placing her hands on her hips. "Anyway, this city's soooo amazing!" She clasps her hands above her right shoulder. "Actually, I should say that the city's still amazing!"

"What should we do first?" Brendan piques up, glancing around the area. "This city makes Slateport look like a medium-sized town in comparison."

"We're going to explore and battle lots and lots of locals!" Hilda titters, placing her right hand in front of her mouth. "I remember that you've been saving up money for years, which is impressive," Leaf compliments, clasping her hands in front. "Even though your family has money, you wanted to save up a lot of money yourself."

"I'm a woman who works hard and kicks butt!" Hilda cheers, entering her phone's camera app. "But all work and no play isn't my style!" She holds her phone up, giving the camera a broad grin. "Hilda's the antidote to dull days!" She winks, the bright light of the camera flashing several times. "Who's that? Who's that? Silly, I've got that spunk!" She turns her back to the camera. She turns her head to give a wink, the bright light flashing several more times. "So don't worry about my name!" She faces the camera, running her hand through her dark brown hair. "You'll hear it many times soon enough!" Once again, the bright light flashes several more times. "I'm so awesomeeee!"

"Is taking pictures of yourself really necessary?" Calem rapidly blinks. "You do this often."

"Uh, yeah!" Hilda laughs, putting her phone back in her pink bag. "I've got a following!" She clasps her hands over her right shoulder. "They want to see how much I rock!"

Upon seeing Calem rolling his eyes, Hilda waves her right hand in a dismissive manner. He's just jealous that she hit four hundred and fifty thousand subscribers follows on EeveeTube a few days ago.

"How come you're staying with us at a hotel?" Brendan asks.

"Cuz you're among my besties, and I want to hang out at the hotel with you!" Hilda exclaims. "Don't worry, a local bestie of mine will let me stay at her place!" She places her right hand in front of her mouth. "She just needs some time to arrange everything!"

"...Moving on, I remember that there's a public arena nearby." Calem tilts his head northwest.

"Hildabots, let's roll out!"

"Hilda, we aren't robots," Calem groans, smacking his face with his left palm..

"Rosa calls her group The Rosa Force, so I'm gonna call us The L-Team!" Leaf sports a broad smile, making punching motions.

Brendan smirks, tilting his head back. "Big Poppa ain't taking no L today!" he shouts. "Brendan Smalls is gonna get money! Get money! Get money money money money!"

Calem and Hilda smirk at each other. Yep, somebody else can tell her why The L-Team makes us sound like they're on a losing streak. Brendan would probably annoy her to Galar and back, so preferably somebody else.

Within a concrete battlefield, Hilda's well into a battle with Goodra's trainer. Due to Hilda's popularity, a large crowd's gathered to watch. Among them are a group of guys and girls holding up a banner with "Hilda Empire" written in big bold letters. Others have their phones out to record Hilda's battle.

It's dragon versus dragon, Hilda's Garchomp jumping up in the air to avoid Goodra's barrage of brown sludge blobs. Garchomp lands on his feet, his fins glowing green. He dashes like a ninja, bobbing and weaving around several frost white beams. He jumps up in the air to avoid another frost white beam. Garchomp spins around as he dives down, slashing Goodra's midsection with both fins. As Garchomp jumps backwards, Goodra stumbles backwards, nearly toppling over.

"There's no time to question my moves—I stick to the path that I choose" Hilda cheers, raising her right fist above her head. "Shake it up with Earthquake!"

As Goodra reels, Garchomp slams his tail into the ground as hard as he can. This causes a flurry of white shockwaves to careen towards Goodra. Goodra shuts its eyes, attempting to endure this attack.

"Me and my besties are gonna do it right—Hilda White never runs away from a fight!"

Leaf, Brendan, and Calem stand behind Hilda and watch her go. Leaf's Pidgeot, Brendan's Sceptile, and Calem's Meowstic are watching the battle as well

"Even I can't fully keep up with Hilda, but she's awesome!" Leaf cheers, her Pidgeot letting out a happy chirp.

"How does Hilda have so much energy?" Calem asks, placing his right hand over his face. Meowstic looks at Calem, titling his head. Get used to this human already.

Hilda turns her head behind her to give the trio a playful smile. "If you're having trouble, I feel bad for you." she winks. "I've got ninety nine problems and energy ain't one." She returns her focus to battling.

Leaf's eyes gleam as Goodra pulls itself together. "Go, go gooooo! This battle's awesome too!" She watches Garchomp and Goodra continuing to duke it out.

"How do people keep up with Hilda and Rosa?" Brendan sports a tight-lipped smile. "They've got infinite amounts of energy and liveliness."

"Serena and I have an old friend who can keep up with them," Calem tells Leaf and Brendan. "He's actually a native of this region."

Leaf and Brendan look towards their left and right respectively. "Really?"

"Yeah, but I guess he's been busy." Calem shrugs. "Haven't heard from him lately."

At least, he hopes he's just busy. He's heard from Rosa that he's not in the best state of mind right now.

He focus on the battle again, noting that while they were chatting, Hilda's Garchomp defeated that Goodra. Now, Garchomp's duking it out with that Armaldo, the two slamming their glowing claws like they're in a swordfight.

While the humans converse, Brendan's Sceptile folds his arms, trying to act all cool. Leaning up against the wall's cool, right? He's gotta look fly for the sassy Tsareena that's among the crowd. Does he understand why Brendan calls himself at times? No, no he doesn't. Does it sound cool? Yes, yes it doesn't.

It's now late afternoon. Valen's Victorian era blinds, which are attached vertically and decorated with ornate patterns, have been shut to keep too much sunlight from beaming into his room. He lays on his bed, staring at the ceiling as he ponders recent events, while his old clock ticks by the second.

His gaze isn't moving away from the painting prints on his wall. Painting brought Rosa and him together, art has brought countless people from all walks of life together to admire it.

Gardevoir's by his side, worried about the fact that Valen still lays on his bed and ponders a lot. She may be cocky and likes mischief, but she's what the humans call a big sis to her teammates and trainer.

"You know, ever since I've started to communicate with Rosa again, it's feels like that I don't need to be on high alert nor super serious all the time," Valen tells his Gardevoir. "I'm slowly beginning to understand that even when you're dealt a bad hand, happiness isn't impossible. It's difficult, but it's possible."

Gardevoir affectionately smiles, giving her trainer a peck on the forehead. Then, she melodiously hums into his left ear. Even if it's agonizingly slow, Gardevoir's relieved that her trainer's starting to revert back to his old self.

His phone rings, and he already knows who it'll likely be. He picks up, asking, "You really won't let me escape, will you?"

"Nopeeeee!" Rosa affirms on the other end of the line. "I'm checking up on you everyday to make sure you're okay!"

"Thanks, cinnamon bun." Valen feels at ease, he could really get used to this again.

"I forgot to tell you that four of my other besties are coming to this region!" she cheers. "Hilda, Calem, Brendan, and Leaf!"

Valen's eyes widen upon hearing the name Hilda again. How's he gonna handle running into her with this level of paranoia?

He snaps back into focus when he feels Gardevoir caressing the top of his head. She hopes that one day, he'll be reunited with his other human friends.

"Oh...sorry," Rosa sheepishly says, a slight tremor in her voice. "I slipped up-"

"It's fine," Valen reassures, taking deep breaths. "Please be happy." He nearly rocks back and forth, recalling that headline.

"...Okay, sweetie." Her voice emits a soft tone. "Let's talk something else, like the decorative arts."

"Yeah yeah, I know," he responds, feeling Gardevoir caressing his head again. "Make sure I have lots of decorative arts too."

"I want that house to be a home library and gallery. I want a big-"

"That's what she said."

"Grrrrr, dirty joke by Valey!" Rosa shouts. "Rosa's going to beat up Bad Valey!"

"That's also what she said."

"Rosa used Rage!" Rosa laughs with Valen. "Rosa mad! Rosa smash!"

"Ahhhhhh, whatever will I dooooo."

"Roar, Hyper Voice!" Rosa booms, faintly giggling. "Roar, Hyper Voice again!"

"Oh noooooooo, soooo scary."

"Tee-hee, you're sooooo funny!"

Gardevoir laughs too, hoping that this trend continues. This is who raised her from a shy Ralts.

It's still late afternoon, and as the sun in the cloudless sky beams down both the city and the people in it, Leaf, Hilda, Calem, and Brendan are within the same area of Angel City. They've just finished up the battles with the locals. They're a little bit tired, but they're still eager to explore the massive city.

"Those trainers were harder than I expected," Brendan remarks, the four of them standing outside the circular and indoor battle arena. "Sceptile won, but Exploud went down." Brendan's Metagross is out of his ball, and it seems to be taken by the arena's silver paint.

"Those battles were sooooo much fun, and our Pokémon had a blast too!" Hilda clasps her hands in front of her face, her Umbreon smirking. "Everybody had a good time, and that's what matters!"

"Anyway, since this is city is huge, I think it's time we split up to explore," Calem tells everyone, his Meowstic nodding. "We can meet up at the hotel we're staying at."

"Okay, I'll explore the northeast part of the city, as that's where Sunset Studios is!" Leaf broadly grins, her Pidgeot letting out a prideful screech.

"I'll explore downtown," Brendan tells everyone, sporting a smug grin. "If anybody asks, your leader's name is Big B, and he's a muthafuckin' P.I.M.P."

"Brendan, please act sensible for once outside of a Pokémon battle, especially when abroad," Calem chastises, his Meowstic nodding.

"Don't hate, dawg. Otherwise, you'll be sorry when the mixtape drops," Brendan starts to stroll off. "Get money! Get money! Get money money money money!" Metagross happily closes it eyes, letting out a booming cry.

"Why me?" Calem smacks his face with his left hand. Meowstic looks at his trainer, sporting an amused grin.

"Hey, Leaf." Brendan looks back at Leaf with a devious grin. He points his right index finger at Leaf, giving her a wink while clicking a tooth one time. "I love it when you call me Big Poppa."


"Throw your hands in the air if you're a playa trainer!" Brendan raises his hands for a few seconds, his Metagross mimicking him with its front legs.

Confusion turns into anger when it dawns on Leaf what Brendan just did. "Brendan, I'm gonna beat you so badly that people as far as Galar will shed Hydro Cannon level of tears for you!" She barks, her face burning bright red.

"You're easy to mess with, so you've only got yourself to blame," Brendan tells Leaf, his Metagross laughing. "Big B's a boss at battles and banter, and if you don't know, now you know." His Metagross and him begins to stroll out of sight. "The Notorious Brendan's outta here."

"One day, Brendan." Leaf storms off in the opposite direction, her Pidgeot flying above her. "One day!"

Leaf's Pidgeot can't help but laugh over how silly these humans can be.

At the same time, Hilda and Calem look at each other with dumbfounded expressions. After a few seconds, Hilda decides to break the silence. "I hope to check out the the Calvanian Museum of Art at some point!" She sports a board grin. "The former's got a new permanent exhibit featuring tablets depicting battles from around 4000 BCE!"

Calem's expression turns into a surprised one. "That's impressive."

"As the queen who's organized a pair of digs on behalf of the Nacrene City Museum, I must see it!" She jumps, clasping her hands in front of her left shoulder. "I got the art bug from you-know-who!"

"Have fun, Hilda."

Calem and Meowstic begin to stroll away, waving goodbye at Hilda and Umbreon. As he makes his way down the sidewalk, he places his hands in the pockets of his dark blue pants. He came here to chill, but Serena and him want to hear from their friend again.

...Calem must be wondering about him too. She has to be herself...but she's getting-

"Hey, you're Hilda White!"

Hilda's mouth falls open, turning her head to look behind her. She sees duo of reporters, one male and one female.

"We weren't expecting to see the President of the BW Agency roaming around here," the female reporter remarks. "You mind giving us a couple of minutes of your time?"

Hilda's mouth curves into a friendly smile. "Yeeeep, I sure can!" Her Umbreon smiles at her, nodding in encouragement.

The female reporter holds a microphone in front of Hilda's mouth. "What's the plan for the agency after the move's complete?"

Hilda folds her arms, sporting a confident grin. "I'm already familiar with this region, having lived abroad here in the past," she answers. "I wanted to come here both as the head of the BW Agency, a trainer, and maybe even a coordinator."

"As the granddaughter of PokéStar Studios founder Sean White, do you plan to get more involved in the film industry here?"

"Of course I am!" Hilda slightly tilts her head leftwards, placing her right hand in front of her grinning mouth. "Hehe, why wouldn't I?"

"You're also the daughter of former champion Connor White and actress Odelle White." He asks again. "Plus, you're a skilled trainer yourself and a social media star. How do you manage all of that, on top of being the woman behind the widely successful musical?"

"Oh, that's easy!" Hilda clasps her hands over her right shoulder. "All work and no play isn't my style, and I'm not just a battler! Besides, it's not work if it's sooooo much fun!"

"Do you plan to track down that Valen guy?" The male reporter inquires. "The quadruple Calvanian Conference winner?"

Hilda can feel a quiver within her, but she keeps her composure. "I dunno, but it would be nice to have him on board again." She wishes that this question wasn't asked. He hasn't called or texted her, and nobody's told her why. Nobody's told her where he is. At least she knows that he's okay, plus she doesn't want to make others sad.

As Hilda answers more questions that the reporters ask her, a number of other people notice her presence.

"Woah, it's Hilda White!" A male trainer with a Nidoqueen shouts.

"It's really her!" A female trainer with a Staryu exclaims. "She's soooo awesome! I wanna be like her!"

"My bro wasn't lying—she's even finer in person!" A male trainer gushes, only to get glared at by his unamused Tsareena. "What?"

"I love how she kicks butt with the agency and as a trainer!" A female trainer with a Furret gushes. "She also knows how to take a sweet picture!"

"One she's done with that interview, I'm asking her for an autograph!" A male trainer with a Poliwhirl announces.

After a few minutes, the reporters shake Hilda's left hand and leave. Then, Hilda's fans approach her, wanting pictures with her and/or her autograph. Of course, she's fine with this. She loves to make people smile, just like Rosa.

"Hey, can we take photos with you?" A male trainer with a Weezing asks. "You're such a cool person!"

"Yeeeep, everyone can take a photo with me if they want too!" She jumps, clasping her hands over her right shoulder. "Hilda White's the antidote for dull days!" She exchanges a high five with her Umbreon.

The swarm of fans move closer to Hilda. She poses with numerous fans for photos, and signs posters of herself. The sight of all these smiling and grinning faces causes a feeling of euphoria to flow within her. She remembers how all of this all started at age fourteen. With help from her grandparents, parents and Elesa, she managed to start up the BW Agency after her musical idea proved to be a smashing hit. She also remembers what The Unovan Times said about her:

"This fiery Nimbasian's a prodigy of Unova's entertainment industry, and has the potential to become a powerful pro circuit trainer."

It was through the BW Agency that she met several of her besties. including the one who's missing from her life. That's not going to fly. Her feelings for him haven't changed, and she's already forgiven him for his lack of contact.

Leaf, Brendan, Hilda, and Calem are in their early twenties.

Hilda's heavily based on Masters Hilda, but while working on her character in this headcanon, I later added aspects from her manga counterpart. I've never fully read the B/W, nor do I read the manga regularly, but I like the end result of combining Masters Hilda and White from the manga. White's actually similar in character to an extent. As a result of this, there's been a number of Hilda-focused revisions and additions. Among the revisions made to this chapter was adding more to show Hilda's character, plus having the chapter end with a focus on Hilda.

While he did have a bias to his native Florence, Giorgio Vasari's work is the best contemporary source for information on artists of the Italian Renaissance. The stories that Rosa mentioned are based off of stories within the work.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 11: Big Bad Battle

Rosa's dallying through one of Angel City's many commercial districts, her Volcarona hovering by her side. The effulgent sunlight blankets the district with warmth, a mild wind of cooler air contrasting it. The blaring beeping of commercial vans and the ferocious howling of several muscle cars are also among the various noises that surround the jubliant woman. A chorus of chatter and laughter among the foot traffic is accompanied by the pleasant melodies of chirping Pidgey.

Speaking of Pidgey, she makes note of every Pokémon she spots, such as the same flock of Pidgey flying overhead. She also notices a Lillipup who wants to play with its trainer, and a Kadabra who's looking around. The Kadabra seems to be trying to figure out how it ended up here. Rosa and her Volcarona laugh as the Kadabra tries to Teleport away, only for a mischievous Drowsee to use the move Disable against it.

As she passes the buildings that dot the road, she notes that the sleek and straight-line buildings have vibrant colors, such as bright yellow and orange. She recalls that these buildings are finished in a style called Art Deco. Art Deco, artsy girl. That's all the reasoning she needs. "Picture time!" She giggles, taking out her cell phone from her pink purse. She places her left hand on her hip, confidently winking. Volcarona joins his trainer, the bright light flashes multiple times as Rosa takes a few photos.

"Tee-hee, I'm soooo awesomeeee!" As she continues dallying down the sidewalk, she recounts to herself about her explorations of this large city. "In addition to being Battle Queen Rosa, I'm Singing Queen Rosa. Acting Queen Rosa, Theatre History Buff Rosa, Playwright History Buff Rosa, Film History Buff Rosa, Painter Rosa, and more!" She giggles, her steps having a bounce to them. "Befriend one Rosa, and you'll befriend the other Rosas!" She gives a thumbs up to her fans, while Volcarona greets them with a delighted cry. "Tee-hee, this offer never expires!"

Rosa resumes walking, taking a whiff of the air. She smells the aroma of roses from the old flower shop she just passed by. This leads her into fantasizing about receiving flowers from Valen, which causes her to sparkle. "Ooooh, my sweetie should give me black roses!" She places her fists under her chin, with Volcarona silently agreeing.

She snaps herself back into focus and continues to dally, her Volcarona happily closing his eyes. Many people and Pokémon on the sidewalk and within the shops are amused by her behavior, but her lively demeanor causes a number of them to feel at least a little bit happier. Several onlookers are recording this popular woman via her phones, which she definitely doesn't mind. She's got the popularity, but she's going to be one of the first names people think of when they think of Unovan trainers, as well as trainers who live in Calvana. The same applies to painting, graphic design, and the performing arts. She wants to showcase the styles of the greats to her generation and younger. Older people are always welcome too, because her free smiles have no age limit.

Speaking of which, she's just noticed that she's passed a store that sells art prints. She walks backwards to take a closer look, her Volcarona joining her. Within the front display lies prints of paintings she knows all too well. "The Ultimate Weapon, The Crowning Of Champion Charlemagne, The School of Artists & Scholars, Chaotic Distortion, all famous works by Raphael." Her eyes dart left and right as she scans each print. The first depicts a flower-like weapon firing a white beam into an ominous red sky that hovers a rocky wasteland, while the second shows a medieval era trainer being crowned. The third depicts a group of scholars and Pokémon in a plaza-like setting within Ancient Kasmenestias. The fourth depicts Giratina flying through a forest, but the trees are upside down, sideways, or careening into the sky.

Raphael Sadoletto da Urbina, a man whose artistic bailiwick made him one of the most renowned and towering figures within an epoch of world history. He was also a skilled trainer who was besties with an Articuno. He was the first artist Rosa ever studied in her personal time. His work was the subject of her first painting project and her first art history project while attending the Pokémon Painting & Sculpture, Aspertia City's prestigious private art academy. The first frescoes her blue eyes laid upon were located in his birthplace: Urbinoroti City within the Ragulia region.

Her Volcarona's glad to see that Rosa's been smiling so far. Him and his teammates have been feeling that she's got a lot on her mind lately. Valen treats their trainer so well, he deserves happiness too.

Rosa strolls down the cobblestone sidewalk in Valen's neighborhood, house being located in within the center. She sees the black fencing surrounding Valen's house, her gaze fixating on the ornate pattern within the middle. A somber smile appears on her face. She wasn't lying when she said she doesn't fake her usual personality, but it's also been a coping mechanism as of late. This poor guy really needs her, and she wasn't there for him. That won't happen again.

"We've got each other again," she murmurs. "Everything will be okay."

She ducks behind the fence, hoping to make the mood lighter by surprising him. As she waits, she recalls that it's been four days since she reunited with Valen in person. She understands that Valen isn't the most outgoing person due to his struggles, and she won't force him to come out of the house. She can go out on her own just fine, albeit she prefers company.

She snaps back into focus when Valen exits his house and walks down the front steps. "It was nice talking to my cousin again," he murmurs, walking out of his front yard. "Melanie's busy and Arthur vanished like how half the cheese puffs vanish when I leave them around Luxray-" Valen feels someone jumping on his back, causing him to faintly smirk. "Bonjour."

"Hiiiiiii, whatchaaaa dooooing?" Rosa wraps her arms around Valen's upper chest and his upper arms, giving him a kiss on the top of his head.

"Well, I was gonna look for you." Valen looks away to hide the the fact he's faintly blushing. "It's just us this time around."

"That means I have you all to myself." Rosa rests her forehead on the back of his head. "Perfect."

"Heh, it really is nice to feel like an actual person." Valen feels a more intense feeling of tranquility.

"Tee-hee, Super Rosa saved the day!" Rosa drums her feet on Valen's legs.

"Soooo, are you going to let go or-"

"Nope!" Rosa giggles, her tone increasing in pitch. "Tee-hee, battle!"

A smirk appears on Valen's face. "Ahhhhhh, I'm soooo scared."

"Roar, infinite Mega Kicks!" Rosa winsomely smiles, repeatedly bopping Valen's legs with her feet. "Grrrr, feel Rosa's power!"

"Oh no, whatever will I dooooo?" Valen's voice emits a playful tone. "I'm sooooo terrified of this ball of fluff." He fakes a scared facial expression.

"Roar, Headbutt!" She nudges the back of his head with her forehead.

"Ahhhhhhhh, I'm so scared."

"Roar, Headbutt again!" She gently taps the back of his head with the top of her head.

Then, both of them hear the echo of footsteps getting louder and louder.

"We've got company." Valen tilts his head to his right. "We don't usually have people walking through here, unless they live here."

"Oh?" Rosa raises a brow. "I wonder who this person could be."

She looks in the direction that Valen tilted his head towards. She notices a confused girl about her age slowly walking past. She's seemingly unaware of Rosa and Valen's presence as she gets closer. When she notices the white bucket hat, light blue sleeveless top, and pinkish-red skirt that the girl's wearing, Rosa's mouth curves into an inviting smile.

"Hiiii, Leaf!" She exclaims, causing Leaf to perk up.

Leaf turns her head towards Rosa and waves. "Hiii!" She exclaims, sporting a beaming smile. She notices that Rosa's got her arms wrapped around a guy wearing a leather jacket. "Awwww, you two are soooo cuteeeee!"

"I'm not cute," Valen groans, starting at the pinkish-red Poké Ball on Leaf's white hat. "Why's that logo only half a ball?"

"Valey, here's one of the besties that I invited," Rosa happily informs Valen as she gets off of his back. "She's from Kanto!"

Leaf greets an unamused Valen with a radiant smile. "Hiiiii, my name's Leaf! It's nice to meet you!"

Valen closes his eyes again, placing his hands in his pockets. "Bye, my name is irrelevant. It's not nice to meet you."

Leaf slowly blinks, folding her arms. "Not the most open person, is he?"

Rosa lets go of Valen. She stands to his right, folding her arms. She glances at him. "Hey, it's rude to not introduce yourself."

Valen doesn't say anything, closing his eyes instead. Rosa and Leaf sport confused expressions on their faces.

After a few seconds, he speaks. "Sorry," he tells Leaf. "I...well...long story." He scratches the back of his head, sporting a half-hearted smile.

Leaf pauses, then smiles. "It's okay," she assures. "I'm assuming you're Valen?"

"Yeah, that's me." Change is hard, but Rosa and Melanie believe in him so much. It feel right to try at least a little bit.

"Rosa's always spoken positive about you." Leaf feels that she's heard his name elsewhere, but where?"

Rosa turns her attention back to Leaf. "By the way, what're you doing here?"

Leaf places her right hand on the back of her head, closing her eyes. "I...kinda got lost on the way to Sunset Studios...so I wandered into this neighborhood." She sports an embarrassed smile.

"...Who's the stronger trainer between you two?" Valen asks.

"Me!" Both Rosa and Leaf grin, but discreetly glance at each other in disapproval. Both suspect that the other is going to blurt out their wrong opinion regarding pizza.

"Who's the more adorable trainer?"

"Definitely me!" Rosa and Leaf glare at each other in annoyance.

Rosa places her hands on her hips. "Rosa's the most adorable trainer."

Leaf places her left hand on her hip and wags her right index finger at Rosa, stating, "Nuh uh, Leaf's the most adorable trainer."

Valen's proud of himself over what he just started, secretly laughing to himself. Unfortunately, he fails to realize that he's about to witness the most intense rivalry he'll ever see.

Rosa folds her arms, tilting her head back. "Hmph, I'm waaaay cuter than than the noob who likes the inferior deep dish pizza."

"Venteuxian deep dish pizza's better that than thin nonsense you call Unovan pizza!" Leaf folds her arms, turning away from Rosa.

"What." Valen's voice emits a deadpan tone.

Rosa narrows her eyes, glaring at Leaf like she's about to pick a fight. "You take that back."

"The truth hurts, doesn't it?" Leaf glares at Rosa like she accepts her challenge to a fight.

"Unovan pizza's superior!" Rosa's eyes bulge out, tightening her fists.

"Venteuxian deep dish pizza's superior!" Leaf's eyes also bulge out, clenching her fists.

"This is really awkward," Valen murmurs, his mouth hanging open.

Suddenly, Rosa's eyes light up, and she clasps her hands next to her right cheek. "Tee-hee, let's use this as a petty excuse to have a Pokémon battle!"

"Hee hee, I accept your challenge, Rosa!" Leaf grins, clasping her hands next to her left cheek. "The crazy Venteuxian woman vs the crazy Unovan woman!"

"Wait, I thought you were from Kanto." Valen cocks a brow. "She seems nice enough to try."

"I've lived in Kanto for the last ten years, but I was born in the Venteux region," Leaf answers. "My real hometown's Chi Town, which is like Pallet Town fused with Aspertia City."

"...Interesting," Valen remarks. "Quite the distance."

"Yeeeep, but I'm still partially Kantonian!" Leaf exclaims, her eyes gleaming. "Besides, I once got to travel through the entire Route 66, from Lakeview City to Angel City!" She leans back, extending her right arm sideways. "Those ghost towns looked soooo spooky!" Her mouth hangs open. "Like wooooah, I thought a Haunter was going to jump scare me or something!"

"Rosa and I have also traveled down Route 66 in the past, and we've checked out a few ghost towns."

"Yeeeep, I still have all of her selfies!" Leaf places her fists under her chin.

"She didn't want me in full view because she wanted me to be mysterious."

As Leaf and Valen talk, Rosa believes that he'll get there one day. Still, this sense of unease won't go away. This struggle to cope won't leave her be.

Rosa's brought Leaf to the same battle arena where Valen and her had their tag match in with Melanie and Arthur. Both Leaf and Rosa take a whiff of the pleasant aroma surrounding them. Rosa takes out a Poké Ball from her pink purse and Leaf takes out a Poké Ball from her yellow crossbody bag,

"I'll use this Pokémon!"

Rosa presses the button on the Poké Ball to her Hydreigon out. Hydreigon lets out a thunderous and intimidating roar like there's an invisible thunderstorm in the cloudless, early afternoon sky. The ferocious, three-headed dragon's roar sends shockwaves through the ground and air. Hydreigon notices Valen waving at him, greeting back with a soft roar.

"If you're using your Hydreigon, then I'll use this Pokémon!" Leaf presses the button on the Poké Ball to her Pokémon out.

Valen's mouth falls open for a few seconds. He wasn't expecting Leaf to send out a Tyranitar. He watches the menacing armored bipedal as it lets out a booming roar, like it's an apex predator announcing itself as the king of the mountains. This roar also sends shockwaves through the ground and air. His surprise turns into secret excitement. This is gonna be one badass Pokémon battle. Looks like this Tyranitar's got Unnerve, as Sand Stream would've kicked in immediately. He's never really understood how that ability works, even though his mom explained it to him.

Rosa forms fists with both of her hands and makes punching motions with both fists. "It's time for the big bad battle, Leaf!"

"Kaaay, bring it on!" Leaf replies as she mimics Rosa's gesture.

Rosa narrows her eyes, her mouth falling open. "Take the stage, Hydreigon!" She bends her elbows in front of her, raising her fists. "Wham! Bam! Pow! Roar!"

Leaf mimics Rosa's posture. making punching motions. "Lights, camera, and Tyranitar!"

"No more waiting around, Rosa!" Leaf fixates a competitive glare at Rosa, their respective Pokémon giving each other the exact same look. "Tyranitar, let's start the show with Ice Punch!"

"Hydreigon, counter with Flash Cannon, then use Dragon Pulse!"

Both of Tyranitar's fists glow icy blue. While letting out another roar that causes shockwaves, the green armored Pokémon charges at Hydreigon, a thumping sound echoing throughout the ground. Tyranitar repeatedly swings his fists like a boxer. Hydreigon narrowly evades Tyranitar's repeated attempts to land a blow via rapidly moving from side to side.

At the same time, small orbs of silver energy begins to form and merge inside of the purplish black dragon's main mouth. As Tyranitar remains in close proximity, Hydreigon fires off a large silver beam. Tyranitar's blasted slightly above the diamond-shaped section that decorates the middle of his chest.

As Tyranitar staggers from the attack, a black sphere of energy forms in front of all three of Hydreigon's mouths. Hydreigon lets out a thundering roar as he launches the spheres. The spheres immediately morph and merge into a gigantic black dragon with ominous red eyes. The formation's also got talons, spiky wings, and a line of spikes running down its back and tail. It causes a screeching gust of wind that causes everyone's clothes and hair to ripple. It crashes into Tyranitar's upper chest at a high velocity, hurling him backwards. Tyranitar's back slams into the ground and he slides to a halt. He shuts his eyes, attempting to get back on his feet. He refuses to give up so easily.

"Stone Edge!"

Tyranitar sharply re-opens his eyes. As he slowly get backs up, he slams both of his hands and his tail onto the ground. Giant pillars of brown rock sprout upwards, all of them crashing into Hydreigon. Hydreigon yelps, but roars that he's "still in this."

"Here's something that Hydreigon learned in Galar!" Rosa exclaims, raising her left fist into the air. "Hydreigon was inspired by Valen's Salamence!"

Leaf's eyes widen and her jaw drops halfway. Valen?! Salamence?! If this is who Leaf thinks it is, he's not telling the full story!

Rosa's Hydreigon readies himself to strike, awaiting his trainer's command. "Use Hydro Pump!"

Hydreigon launches a large and powerful jet stream of water from his main mouth. Tyranitar's hit by the stream of water in the face.

"Dark Pulse!"

Purple and black energy begins to gather in Tyranitar's mouth, while pitch black energy gathers inside Hydreigon's main mouth. Tyranitar fires off a stream of purple and black circles, while Hydreigon fires off a stream of pitch black circles. Both streams of circles collide and cause a somewhat large explosion as a result, causing a lot of smoke to bellow.


Before the smoke fully clears, Hydreigon uses all three of his heads to let out the most brutal and thunderous roar he can, sending a flurry of white shockwaves towards Tyranitar. As the last of the smoke clears, Tyranitar's hit and gets sent reeling to the point where he slightly kneels over with his eyes closed.

"Come on, Tyranitar!" Leaf encourages.

Rosa's got no plans to stop her relentless assault. "Flash Cannon!"

While Tyranitar attempts to regain his composure, small orbs of silver energy begins to form and merge inside of Hydreigon's main mouth. Hydreigon fires a powerful stream of silver energy, which strikes a still kneeling Tyranitar on the top of his spiky head.

"Oh no, this isn't looking good," Leaf nervously observes with a tight-lipped smile.

"Hydreigon, use Dragon Pulse!"

Leaf narrows her eyes, clenching her fists in front of her. "Tyranitar, use Focus Blast, and use it quickly!"

Tyranitar's finally able to pull itself together, letting out a booming roar. Just as Hydreigon prepares to launch another Dragon Pulse, Tyranitar's able to form a light blue orb of energy between his hands and launch it at Hydreigon.

Hydreigon takes a direct hit, losing his mid-air balance. However, he's not going down that easily.

"Come on, Rosa! The best girl's gotta win!" Valen cups his lips with both hands. "Go, best girl Rosa! Gooooooo, Hydreigon!" He bends his elbows, tightening his fists. "Your number one fanboy knows you can win this!"

"You silly boooy, of course I'm gonna win this."

Upon hearing and seeing this side of Valen again, Leaf smiles. He's a good guy, it's not that hard to tell.

"Ice Punch!"

As Hydreigon's pulling himself together, Tyranitar charges at him, both of his fists glow icy blue. Tyranitar slugs the three-headed dragon several times. Afterwards, he jumps backwards, a thud echoing when he lands on his feet. Hydreigon falls to the ground, but he roars that he "refuses to let Tyranitar win this battle."

"Keep up the Ice Punches!"

Tyranitar's fists glow icy blue again, and he charges at Hydreigon. He manages to slug the dragon a few more times, but Hydreigon's not letting him score more than that.

"Counter with Crunch!"

As Tyranitar attempts to strike again, Hydreigon manages to get back up. Hydreigon chomps down Tyranitar's left arm as hard as he can with his main mouth. Tyranitar shut his eyes and clenches his teeth.

"Quick, use Flash Cannon!"

As he keeps his main mouth clenched on Tyranitar's arm, two small orbs of silver energy begins to form and merge inside of the dragon's other two mouths. Then, Hydreigon fires off two smaller and separate beams, blasting Tyranitar in the face as he releases Tyranitar's arm. Hydreigon falls back and Tyranitar pulls himself together, giving the dragon a determined glare.

"Stone Edge." Leaf's voice brims with confidence. "Encircle."

Tyranitar slams his hands and tail into the ground, giant pillars of rock appearing one by one like a domino effect in a circular formation. Hydreigon looks from side to side as the rocks converge and strike him on every area of his body. Hydreigon shuts his eyes, the teeth within all three months clenched.

Leaf smirks, folding her arms. She tilts her neck rightwards. "Use Outrage."

Rosa's eyes widen as she jumps backwards. "Oh noooooo!" This could cost her the battle, especially since Hydreigon just fell out of the sky.

Tyranitar's eyes glow metallic black, an aura of the same color enveloping his entire body. Tyranitar lets out a thunderous roar, lunging at Hydreigon at a rapid pace. As Hydregion tries to himself up, his wide-eyed expression is met by a smug grin from Tyranitar. Tyranitar repeatedly slashes Hydreigon's front side over and over again, causing Hydreigon to shut his eyes and bellow.

"Hydreigon, come on!" Rosa cups her hand over her lips, watching the dragon trying his best to endure. "If you can withstand, we'll win!"

"Keep going and going and going!" Leaf jumps into the air, raising her right fist above her head.

Rosa raises fists her in front of her. "You can withstand this, Hydreigon!" She makes punching motions. "Wham! Bam! Pow!"

Valen remans silent as he watches Tyranitar use every last bit of his energy to win with this attack. He smirks, respecting the determination of Leaf and her Tyranitar. He glances towards Rosa, noting her bent forward posture.

Eventually, Tyranitar halts his relentless attacks. He jumps backwards, but feels dizzy. Hydreigon slams into the ground, panting as he tries to get back up.

"It's too late, Rosa!" Leaf points at her, her smirk evolving into a grin. "I win!"

Rosa smirks, placing her hands on her hips. "Are you sure about that?"

Leaf's eyes widen when she noticed that Hydreigon's barely managed to get back up. He's barely able to hover above the ground, but he looks capable of using at least one more attack.

"W-What?!" Leaf places her left hand over her gaping mouth. "That was supposed to win me the battle!"

Rosa notes that Tyranitar's not only worn out, but is wobbling due to the effects of Outrage. She sees this as her chance to win the battle right here, right now. "Let's try this again!" She swings her right hand slightly behind her right shoulder. "Hydregion, use Dragon Pulse!"

Three black spheres form in front of his mouths. Hydreigon fires off all three spheres, which transform and merge into a giant black dragon with red eyes. Like before, a shrieking gust of wind blows as the dragon formation blasts into Tyranitar. Tyranitar's sent careening behind Leaf, his back skipping on the grass like rocks over a pond. He faintly roars to congratulate Hydreigon, unable to get back on his feet.

Hydreigon roars in celebration, hearing his trainer dart towards him. Rosa pets all three of his heads, causing him to happily close his eyes.

"That's my girl," Valen murmurs with his eyes closed, proudly smiling.

Did a Pokémon just ram into Valen via Tackle?! Wait, don't be an idiot! It's his ball of fluff! Re-opening his eyes confirms the obvious.

Rosa embraces him by placing her arms around her neck. "Thanks for the encouragement!" She giggles over Valen's reddened face.

Leaf watches this scene with a big smile. "Get some rest, Tyranitar."

She recalls her Pokémon, placing the ball back into her bag. She darts towards Valen, Rosa, and Rosa's Hydreigon. Hee hee, Rosa got him flustered just now! She laughs when Valen tries to stand back up, but Rosa bops him on the forehead and pins him down.

Rosa re-opens her eyes, asking, "Valen, can Leaf and I invite Brendan, Calem, and Hilda to this spot?"

Valen regains his composure and closes his eyes again, now indifferent to the fact that Rosa won't let him stand back up. "I'm not the boss, so go ahead."

"Tee-hee, thanks!"

"Leaf, only a fool would ignore your friend's skills as a Pokémon Trainer. You did well."

"Hee hee, that's a twist!

"I'm in a good mood, plus Tyranitar's a tough one to control," he responds. "I respect you as a fellow trainer."

"Thank you!"

"Since Rosa won't let me get up, I'm gonna use her as a blanket and take a nap on the grass."

Valen closes his eyes, much to the bewilderment of Leaf, Rosa, and Rosa's Hydreigon. Rosa takes a peek at her cell phone. It's not even one in the afternoon, and yet Valen's already said goodnight. Ooooh, she's got unread messages from Hilda. Leaf takes a peek, and they both faintly giggle at Hilda's string of angry emojis texts. She seriously can't decide if the new employee uniforms should be Guzmani clothes or Grimsley Lauren clothes?

Hydreigon notices that Rosa's seems to be worried about something. He attempts to pat her head with his wings. Rosa kisses him on all three heads, rubbing his midsection. She's got to be strong. She's got to be a fighter. She's got to ask him about what happened. No more pain. No more suffering. No more gloom.

Within a five-star hotel room, an orange glow illuminates the sky as the sun sets in full view of a large, rectangular window. An exhausted Hilda slowly unlocks the brown wooden door of her room. She staggers into the room, feeling like somebody's drained all of her energy. She doesn't turn on the room's light, and she nearly stumbles while staggering towards the medium-sized bed.

She takes a seat on the bed, slumping seconds later. She unties her dark brown hair, allowing it to flow downwards to the lower part of her back. She places both her cell phone and her hair tie on the round wooden table. She rotates the small knob to turn on the lamp, shielding her eyes from the illuminating light with her left arm. "That lamp feels brighter today," she comments, staring at the room's cream ceiling. "Maybe it's because I'm beat." She lets out a loud yawn, stretching her arms upwards. She lies down on the bed, pondering about the last few days. "This bed's really comfy, which is nice." Hilda faintly smiles. "I need this...I know showbiz can be tough, but-" She groans, placing her right hand on her forehead. "Lay off on the calls and interview requests already."

Hilda sighs, thinking about how she's done more interviews within these past four days than she's done within the last month. She's been getting calls from potential clients and people within the entertainment and tourism industries. She wants to spare no expense in everything. She wants stylish employee uniforms, plus she wanted the building to have a cool exterior and a cool interior. Trying to decide furniture and decorations for the interior was tough, as there were so many to choose from.

"...So much for all work and no play being my style," Hilda bemoans, now staring at the cream walls. "I couldn't even do any of the fun activities within this hotel...couldn't even go to that museum." she sighs. "At least I was able to get a few battles in within the last four days." she smirks. "Garchomp and Umbreon were kicking everyone's asses four days ago."

She's glad that she found a building big enough for the main division, but it wasn't easy. She had to settle for white, as there weren't any black and white buildings up for sale. She's had to find people who'd paint the interior black, plus place black tiles everywhere. "Good thing I've got a fairly large division over here, otherwise this would've taken longer and require even more money." She's also glad that didn't have to pay the full amount in order to bring Leaf, Calem, Brendan and herself to Calvana. The Liniya Corporation agreed to split the cost, allowing her to book rooms within this five-star hotel in downtown.

However, she's been saving a lot of money for this trip, because she plans to live here. She's decided that she doesn't want to buy a house just yet. It feels too sudden for her. Especially considering how slow the process of moving the main division's been. Then, her phone dings. She glances over to the round table, grabbing her phone. She sees that the notification isn't a text message, but a notification from Glaliebook. Upon checking it out, her mouth curves into a faint grin. "I knew my fans would like those pictures," she comments. "Seven thousand plus likes is proof of that."

She snaps back into her focus when her cell phone rings. She smiles when she sees who's calling, and she answers it.

"Been working hard, or did I catch you slacking off?" Silver snickers.

Hilda laughs. "Shut up," she teases. "So, what's going on?"

"I'm following in your footsteps," he informs. "I'm moving to Calvana, it's about time I got far away from here."

"It'll be nice to have you around, even if you're a grouch."

"Watch it, I'll kick your ass in battle and spicy food eating contest."

"Why?" She places her right hand over her grinning mouth. "You wanted it in a different way."

"Please don't mention that," Silver's voice emits a nervous tone. "That's the most embarrassing thing I've ever been through."

"The Uniform Ripper's the nickname Guzma, Gladion and Plumeria gave you for a reason." She titters, tilting her head rightwards. "Yoooou want it that waaaaay." Her voice emits a playful and melodious tone. "But you should've taken me out to dinner first."

"Shut up already!" Silver's voice becomes even more high-pitched. "Kris might hear you! Lyra and Ethan might hear you! Shit, what if Gladion's somehow hiding in here?!"

As she begins to roast Silver, Hilda hopes that things get less hectic for her. She also hopes that she can track down a certain someone.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 12: Rosa's Unconditional Love

The orange glow of the setting sun illuminates the sky over the arena where Rosa and Leaf had their battle earlier today, Rosa's sitting one of the benches, watching a flock of Murkrow being led by a Honchkrow.

There's a chill going down her spine, but it's time she worked up the courage to ask about what happened to him. If she has to endure more heartbreak to order to avoid seeing Valen in anguish, then so be it. That sight is horrific.

The rhythmic tapping of Valen's sneakers rustle the grass in front of her to life, two orange juice bottles in his hand. She smiles as she takes one of them. "I know it's still hard for you, but thanks for hanging out with me." She pops the lid and takes a few sips.

"Anything for you." Valen takes a seat next to Rosa's right, gently stroking her head. "So, you wanted to talk to me?" He opens the lid of his own bottle, taking several sips.

"Yeah…I think we need to talk about…that." Rosa feels her pulse racing. It's making her want to grab Valen and hold him. She wants to hold him tight for a long time.

Valen's smile flips upside down. "I know what this is about." He frets, feeling his head thumping. "I'm a mess, an absolute mess."

"You...so much you've been through...you don't deserve such pain." Rosa slouches, her gaze and chin inwards. "I hate the fact that I wasn't there for you."

Valen takes a deep breath to calm himself down, but the thumping won't go away. What if he emotionally dumps his problem onto her? What if he burdens her? He hates being altricial, he hates being despondent. Where's the conation that made him reach for the mountain's peak?

"Sweetie, it's going to be okay." She caresses Valen's right cheek with her left hand. "Everything's going to be okay. I promise you that you'll be okay." She grasps his limp left hand with her other hand.

"...Rosa…I'm a failure." Valen bends his head, covering it with his palms. "I'm such a failure." Tears stream down his checks. "I'm ashamed that I was reluctant to call you." He buries his face in his arms. "I'm sorry."

Rosa's eyes begin to water up, but now's not the time for dejection. She musters up her inner strength to fight back her tears. "Sweetie, can you look at me?"

Her mellisonant voice massages his mind. Her breath's a misty blanket of love that kisses his face, the smooth skin of her hands tingling his left arm as she cups it. Slowly, his face emerges from the soaked sleeves of his jacket.

Rosa leans closer to his right ear, using the humming Gardevoir does to calm him down. She slides her arms around his neck. "It's okay, sweetie," she lovingly whispers. "I'll always be here for you." She feels the warm touch of his hands on her back. "Remember that you're a human being, not a perfect being. You can't change what happened to you."

Valen begins rocking back and forth. "What about...Hilda-"

"In due time, you'll see that she still considers you a precious person in her life." Rosa kisses his left cheek. "You'll pull through this, I know you will," she assures. "Dwelling won't help you, and neither will beating yourself up," she advises. "You have to keep pushing forward, it's the only way you can regain your full identity."

"...Thanks, that means a lot...coming from you." It may sound crazy to some, but it's like he can feel the love and care Rosa's got for him when he looks into her eyes. Her voice carries that same feeling whenever she speaks.

"...Can you tell me more?" Rosa requests, rubbing his cheeks. "Please?" Be strong, be brave.

Valen decides that it's time she learns more about that. "Pyrite Town." He takes a long and hard deep breath. "Outside of that town's where I got wounded. "He briefly closing his eyes. "Barely did anything in Orre, then got sent home."

Rosa's eyes widen, feeling a chill throughout her body. She bites her lower lip, tears dripping from her eyes. "I...I can't...I still can't believe you were...wounded.

Valen's pained gaze meets Rosa's watery eyes. "Sorry-"

"Melanie told me this already, but I…I guess I need to hear it from you too." She takes a deep breath, not wanting Valen to worry about her. "Please keep going."

"Cipher was experimenting on a Pokémon, and it began to rampage...I was the only one injured," he laments. "Salamence flew me to safety while my comrades took care of the rest." He met the Pokémon after it had been freed and purified—it felt really awful about what happened.

"...You poor thing." Rosa's voice emits a dull tone. "At least it looks like you made a full recovery."

"Yeah, thanks to Rui."

Rosa's mouth falls open, and she jerks her head back. "Rui...Rui helped you?!"

"Wes, Rui, Silver, and I worked together to deal with Cipher." Valen somberly smiles. "Rui's almost like you in personality...it was like you were there by my side." A frown appears. "Wes and I were good friends...then Wes and Rui had a fallout." Valen slouches. "The bad blood between them...it's scary for me to even think about it...dealing with Cipher three times made Wes snap."

"Rui cried her eyes out over what happened." Rosa bends, clutching her upper legs. "And she deeply regrets the fact that another friend got hurt."

"Wes could've been saved, Rosa." Valen sighs, slightly rocking back and forth. "He could've been saved if others cared for him."

She notices that Valen's struggling to look at her face again, having chosen to look at her white and ice blue top instead. "Sweetie, is there more on your mind?"

"...Can I ask you something?" He feels a knot in his stomach. "It's about your goals...your dreams...what happened to battling, singing, painting, and acting?"

Rosa bows her head, sporting a sad smile. "That was fun...that was really fun."

"...It's my fault." Valen shuts his eyes as tears stream down his cheeks. "Some boyfriend I-"

"No!" She blurts out at the top of her lungs, causing Valen to jerk straight upwards. "You're anything but a horrible boyfriend!"


"That's right I'm Rosa!" She cries, making strong eye contact with Valen. "I'd never abandon those she I care about!" She swings her left hand backwards. "I'd never abandon the sweetest guy I could've ever asked for!"

"...You mean it?" Valen asks, his voice trembling. "You'll...stay by my side?"

Rosa takes a deep breath to calm herself down. "Yes." She wipes away her tears, giving Valen a sad smile. "I mean it."

Valen legs become restless, but his head feels lighter. It's like the tension is slowly evaporating into thin air. Now she's humming into his left ear.

"My dreams will have to wait." She caresses his right cheek. "I need to help out a person who's very special to me."

"You're actually...putting your dreams on hold for a nobody like me?"

"You're not a nobody to me," Rosa replies, sporting a tender smile. "You mean the world to me."

"...Thank you, Rosa." Valen's voice is emotion-rich, and he feels a tingling warmth in his limbs. "I'll support you in everything you do." His eyes prickle with happy tears.

Rosa decides that a topic change's needed. "Hey, do you still remember how we first met?" She reaches for her juice bottle to take a few more sips. "You were visiting family in Aspertia, and we met while you were touring the Pokémon Painting & Sculpture Academy," she reminisces. "Tee-hee, you got so excited when you saw me attempting to paint like Raphael!"

Valen faintly blushes. "W-Well-" He pokes two fingers together. "I...uh...thought it was amazing…really amazing." He sheepishly grins, scratching the back of his head. "So I flipped out."

"That made me soooo happy!" Rosa clasps her hands next to her right cheek. "Not only did you have good taste, but you praised my work like I was already a star!"

"You were already a star to me."

"Awww, thanks!" She grips her hands, her eyes sparkling. "I know you've said it like a million bazillion gazillion times before, buuuut I still love it!"

Not long after that, her dad wanted to consult his mom in order to make sure his film was historically accurate. Her grandpa from her mom's side was also there, discussing medieval art with her. It's fitting that all but two of their earliest in person meetings took place within art related buildings.

Speaking of her grandpa, Unova's leading art historian has rarely taken a vacation or a business trip without going to a museum and/or visiting fellow historians. He thought that was awesome, and he still does.

"Ground control to Valeeey!" Rosa waves both hands in this face.

"It's a little too coincidental that your gramps was director of the Aspertia Gallery at the time, don't you think?"

"Tee-hee, the universe decided that we were soulmates!" Not long after we met, they geeked out over Titian Vercelli, Sir Patrick Peter Rubens, like a bazillion more artists! Those are some of my fondest memories!"

"I was so happy to have someone who fully shares my passion for art, and I still am."

"Tee-hee, we're inseparable!" Woo-hoo, that's the millionth something fist bump she's just exchanged with him! "I even tackle hugged you when I got my Snivy!"

"Mom still has photos of that." Valen places his right palm on his forehead. "With her copies of Luxray's kitten photos."

"Ooooh, I should ask to see those!" Rosa nudges Valen's side with her elbow. "I should also ask to see that footage of you at age four again!" She drums her hands on Valen's left arm. "The one where you were running around in a Salamence costume!"

Valen yelps, pretending to be indifferent. "B-By the w-way, any plans to re-enter the pro circuit?"

"Yeeeeep, but there's no rush!" Rosa cheers. "I'd also like to try to do something with graphic design, painting or the performing arts if possible!" A sheepish grin debouches, and she scratches the back of her hair. "Admittedly, I haven't painted since my last visit to Johto. I'd like to start again in the near future." Same story with graphic design and the performing arts.

"What was your most recent painting?" He also scratches the back of his head, his own sheepish grin wider. "Sorry, need a refresher...heh heh." He earns himself a bop to the forehead.

"I painted a fresco inside of the Pokémon Musical building not that long ago!" She clasps her hands next to her right cheek. "It features a Raikou, a Zapdos, and a Regieleki being besties!" She folds her arms and tilts her head back. "Of course, I'm just that awesome." flashes back to how amazed the crowd was at the finished work.

"Good job," he commends. "You're definitely awesome."

Rosa's silly grin and adorable giggle nearly makes Valen's face evolve into a Charmeleon. "Why do you always get so shy around me?" Her amused voice increases in pitch. "I already said that I'm awesome so attention."

"Hmph, the shyness is your fault." Valen winks, clicking a tooth. "I'm ice cream and your summer."

Rosa leans back, shouting, "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMN!" She bursts out into hysterics with Valen.

A Pidgeot leading a flock of Pidgey and Pidgeotto over the neighborhood. Is this another coincidence? Pidgey and Pidgeotto dream of becoming majestic Pidgeot? It's like the Pidgeot's guiding them to a brighter future, just like Rosa, Melanie, Valen's parents, and Valen's team are guiding him. Can't forgot about Dimitri either.

With Rosa, art always comes up. It's how they met, it's how they grew closer, it's their shared interest as a couple. Ink, egg tempera from Chansey, oil, fresco, Rosa has tried all of these. She wants to be a multi-muster of painting, he wants to be a multi-master of art history. This region's more suitable for outdoor frescos, so it's a good place for an artist like her. She learned about outdoor fresco only being suitable for dry climates the hard way.

He better say something before he gets bopped. Oh no, her bops are soooo scary! "I missed this." His eyes slightly moisten up, using two fingers on his left hand to wipe them. "I missed you...so much."

"Me too," Rosa whispers, her voice cracking. "I'm glad we reunited, and nothing can separate is." She uses Sweet Kiss on Valen's cheek. Tee-hee, he's so inconsistent when he blushes!

"Together forever," Valen exchanges a fist bump with her. "From now until the end of time."

The film reel of his late teenage self jumping for joy when she said yes to dinner plays within his mind. He looked damn good in Guzmani's latest tuxedo, hence why Rosa found herself blushing immensely after she took a closer look at him.

"...Hey, can you tell me you dream?" Rosa's gentle gaze meets his calm gaze. "I'm sure you have one too, right?" She'll continue to encourage him, just like he always encourages her.

Valen takes a deep breath, moving his head downward. He looks at Rosa, stating, "I've been missing my glory days a Pokémon Trainer, plus I'd like to do something with the arts."

"You'll be able to regain your past glory," she reassures. "And you'll be able to do something with the arts, I'm sure of it."

"...Thank you." He closes his eyes, placing his right hand over his heart. "More of those happier memories are starting to come back...maybe I never forgot them in the first place."

The two of them entering a tag team completion at the Pokémon World Tournament, their vacation within Alola, the two of them snuggling within a country home in Galar, pranking Silver with a "prophecy" that led him to try and kiss that Kris girl, entering tag contests, this freight train is fully loaded with nostalgia.

"I know you've still got paranoia about Hilda, but just know that we all appreciate you," Rosa softly tells him. "Me, Hilda, Melanie, Alexis, Skyla, Serena, you've always made us feel special."

"You're all stars." Valen shrugs, tilting his head back. "I just wanted to show you that you are." Alexis is a name he hasn't heard in a little bit. Presumably, Melanie still DMs her often.

"There you go again, you silly boy." Rosa laughs, her voice increasing in pitch. "You just don't know what to stop, do you?"

"Last I checked, you've got great personalities on top of being talented, knowledgeable, badass, and stunners in appearance." he compliments. "Screw what anybody else says, you're all ten outta ten."

"I see that you still like it sassy and spunky." Rosa winks with a coy smile. "Naughty boooy."

"That's right." He glances in front of him, watching a group of Sentret and Furret trotting about. "To be fair, it's easier for me to befriend girls than guys."

"You spent more time with your mother, bonding over arts, design, and history," Rosa reminds him. "Your first closest friend was Melanie, then me, and not everybody's the same." She cups her his face in her hands. "You're not the only guy who prefers the company of women."

"I suppose you're right," he admits. "I never picked one over the other, but I went with what I'm good at."

"You succeeded in making guy friends too, such as Calem," she points out. "You managed to befriend Silver and Gladion as teenagers," she continues. "They've gotten more social, but back then, it was an achievement."

Silver didn't want to be judged, but that felt like it was too much to ask for. That's what he told them when he started to open up, eventually disclosing his parents lead Team Rocket. Gladion and Lillie's father has never been found, and their mother is serving hard time in a maximum security women's prison.

The darkness can come in all shapes and sizes, but so can the light. That's what her favorite philosopher. Hold that thought, a loud yawn just interrupted it. Oops, guess she used too much energy today.

"Huh, so you do get tired after all," Valen jokes, earning himself a bop on the forehead. "It's rarer than a shiny." Double bop, sooooo scary!

"Shut up, my favorite idiot," Rosa teases, yawning again. "This is nothing, I'll be back to full power soon enough!" Another yawn while she stretches' her arms upwards.

"If it helps to ease your mind, you can stay in my house for as long as you like. I'd really like if you moved in, but-" Valen's interrupted by a bop to the top of his head.

"You silly boy." she giggles. "I'll move in soon enough." She yawns again, stretching her arms. She decides to use Valen as a temporary pillow.

As she rests the back of her head on his lap, he faintly yelps. He turns his head away, his face reddening even more. Oh come on, why did the Raphael inspired self-portrait of this gorgeous and adorable woman come into his mind when he's already blushing! She's too powerful!

"Say, what happened to your art history inception book?" She rests her hands on his chest. "Melanie the novelist and Valen the nonfiction writer." she giggles. "Just like I'm the painter and your the historian."

Valen gulps, forcing himself to regain his cool. "I hope to get back to it one day." He caresses Rosa's forehead.

Their first date was something—it was while riding the Ferris wheel that Valen and her shared their first romantic kiss. Tee-hee, they were both so shy, but neither neither wanted to stop. It was the same story for Hilda and him as well. There's light at the end of the tunnel—his feelings for Hilda will come back to him.

The movie called her memory plays the part where Valen was donning a Guzmani tuxedo for a Super Contest in Sinnoh. Hilda and her got so flustered that they hid behind Melanie and Jacques, both of whom nearly fell into hysterics. Lots of good times they shared together, and there's plenty more on the horizon.

A full moon gleams within the black night sky, with Valen eyeing the moon through the master bedroom's large window. He sits on his bed, holding up his cell phone to his right ear. The person who showed him that there's light at the end of the tunnel should know about what happened today. That big smile on his face says it all.

"Rosa fell asleep, otherwise I'd give her the phone."

Melanie's deep breath can be heard through the speaker. "I know it's been hard for you, but I've known you for seventeen years," she reminds him. "Nobody handed you anything just like that—you earned everything through your passion, determination and kindness."

Valen pauses, then smiles again. "Thank you...thanks for everything." He feels a tingling warmth in his limbs.

"Take care, love you bestie."

"You too times two."

After the call ends, Valen plops his backside onto his bed, yawning but unable to sleep. He stares at his black marble ceiling, his antique clock ticking by the second. He feels a strong tightness in his chest.

Melanie forgave him...and then Rosa forgave him. Rosa's still here...She didn't reject him...she didn't abandon him...just like Melanie...that means...Rosa also kept her word. Fourteen years of friendship and over five and a half years of romance. Worth it, absolutely worth it. He still remembers the day when she admitted to overhearing him singing his feelings as practice: "Running out of time so it's time for a different prayer. Dialga, save Rosa for me. That girl's the one for me." Even though she heard this, he still sung it to her as planned.

Valen's emotional state can't be bottled up anymore, believing that he was in the wrong. He clenches his teeth, closing his eyes as tears begin to stream down his face like an overflowing river. "I'm sorry that I ever doubted you! I need you in my life!" he cries. "I love you, Rosa! I've always loved you, even when we were apart! I really mean it!"

The top of his is being caressed—Gardevoir's teleported herself into the room. Gardevoir sports a tender smile as they hug. Unbeknownst to her trainer, his crying's accidentally woken Rosa up. Will she come in?

Rosa leans against the wall, her arms folded. Her eyes are closed, her affectionate smile lighting up her face. No matter what he's showing on the outside, he's still the same on the inside. She walks back towards the bedroom she was sleeping in, shedding tears of joy. It's all worth it, it was always worth it, and it'll always be worth it. As she's about to enter the bedroom, she halts to exchange a smile with Valen's Gengar and Luxray.

Hold on a minute, why she's going back to this room? She smacks her forehead, then darts back towards the master bedroom. She pushes open the wooden door, dashing past Gardevoir towards him. Not even ten seconds later, Valen's snugly in her arms, his crying having already ceased. There we go, her sweetie's so relaxed that he might use her shoulder as a pillow! Not that she minds, he's welcome to do that anytime!

A number of Hoothoot and Noctowl are perched on various trees, the moonlight illuminating them as the Pokémon's hooting echo throughout Melanie's neighborhood. Despite the time, Melanie's waiting for someone on the outskirts of the neighborhood park.

Melanie hears footsteps on her right, turning her head in that direction. She broadly smiles, instantly recognizing Hilda's black waistcoat. Both the moonlight and the streetlights illuminate the duo. They sweep each other into a hug, with Melanie wrapping her arms around Hilda's upper back. Hilda wraps her arms around Melanie's neck, the two besties holding each other tight.

Hilda lets go of Melanie and vice-versa. "Skyla's already sent out the rest of my belongings," Hilda informs. "Thanks for letting me stay at your place for the time being."

"It's not a problem." Melanie rubs Hilda's right shoulder. "Stay as long as you like," she tells her. "You're great company to have around."

"So, how's writing and battling going?" Hilda inquires, clasping her hands behind her back.

"Decently," Melanie replies, folding her arms. "I've written some one-shots lately."

"That's awesome," Hilda compliments. "Hey, maybe you can become a client of mine one day."

"I'll consider it," Melanie teases. "You're a hard-ass." She won't forget the time Hilda literally tried dragging Rosa to a theatre audition. Rosa was already planning to go, but she just forgot to tell Hilda.

"I'm still busy, but hopefully we can all meet up soon." Hilda's gaze darts around as she eyes the bungalows. "Do you think Silver could help out with you-know-who?"

"Maybe, is he coming back here?" Melanie raises an eyebrow. "He didn't say anything to me." Not that she expected Silver to say anything.

"He wants to get away from Kanto and Johto," Hilda states. "He didn't say anything about a house, but Silver is Silver."

"I'll let him know that there are a few houses in this neighborhood for sale"

She points to a tiny, wide one-story bungalow four buildings away from the park's entrance, moving her finger towards three more in a similar style. Next, she points to a larger two-story bungalow across the street. Silver secretly likes the quaint feeling of a small town or the countryside, this neighborhood being like a small town in a gigantic city.

Wait a minute, is Hilda okay? She tugging her arms, bowing her head. She doesn't need to ask why—she's concerned about that too.

"Listen." Melanie rubs Hilda's shoulders to put her at ease. "Try to remember that he'd want us to be ourselves."

Hilda's frown is thrown by a soft smile. "You're on the nose."

Melanie decides to change the topic, but she believes Hilda and him will be together one day.. "So, did the agency cause your trainers skills to be rusty?" She nudges Hilda's right side with her left elbow. "Bet I can smoke you."

Hilda smirks, waving her hand in a dismissive manner. "Oh please, Expert Trainer Hilda can trounce you easily."

"You can't even beat me in the looks department, much less in the trainer department."

"Don't test your luck, Melanie." Hilda winks, wagging her left finger. "As the head of the BW Agency, you better keep a lid on it."

"Or what?" Melanie folds her arms, tilting her head rightwards. "You're gonna fall into the water like you did in Oceanside Town?"

Hilda's face reddens. "H-Hey, I found Pokémon Master's Stadium for half off!"

"So, you wanna be a master?" Melanie playfully winks. "You'll have to get past Calvana's Clair first."

"You only have one dragon, so you lose." Hilda tilts her head leftwards, her right hand now in front of her grinning mouth. "Kidding, kidding."

"So do you, you crazy woman." Melanie chuckles. "Bet Dragonite could whoop Garchomp's butt."

"I said don't test your luck." Hilda teases, earning herself an elbow jab into her right arm.

Melanie and Hilda faintly laugh, hugging each other again for a few seconds. After letting go, they exchange a hard high-five, gripping each other's hands. Melanie and her began strolling down the sidewalk, their hands clasped behind their backs.

Melanie's mouth gapes open, how could she forget how stylish Hilda is?! Her black waistcoat, her white top, her black Eevee Rangers wristband, her black ankle boots are such a nice combination. Her white and pink hat's cool too!

"Still looking good in that outfit."

"Hehe, of course I do." Hilda tilts her head rightwards, placing her left hand in front of her mouth. "You still look great in that Valerie Versace jean jacket." As well as those jeans and that azure shirt. "Heeeey, you're rocking the same black ankle boots!"

"Duh." Melanie chuckles, a hard high-five being exchanged. "So, binge watching Eevee Rangers again?"

"Go go Eevee Rangers!" Hilda raises her right fist above her head, humming an upbeat tune. "Black Ranger's still my favorite!"

"Still a fun one." Melanie's not surprised by Hilda's favorite, considering what her Eevee evolved into.

"Hilda White's the antidote to dull days!"

As Melanie chat with Hilda, she hope that the future's bright, bright like the starry night sky above them. True friendship lasts forever, Hilda and her just proved that. It'd also be nice to run into her old friend and rivals again. It's been a while since she's seen Alexis.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 13: Art Lovers

It's early morning, and Valen's sitting in bed. Being the avid reader he is, why not chill and read a book? Of course, he's got to have more than one book on the bed, so he's got three. He picks one of them up and opens it to a random page. The dry texture of book pages, be it uncoated or coated, has always been a pleasant feeling for him. In this case, his hands rub up against coated paper as he flips the pages of this book.

The door's creaking open? Huh, he didn't realize that she was awake. Will she notice that the book he's reading is related to Unova?

"You've got to be kidding me!" Rosa's eyes widen and her mouth gapes wide open. "You've been awake this entire time?!" She stares in disbelief. "Why didn't you tell me?!"

"You mad, girl?" Valen snickers, returning to his book.

Rosa leans forward, letting out a exasperated sigh. "You're such a troll." Her mouth curves into a tender smile. "I missed it." She approaches the bed, feeling more at ease. If he's trolling, he must be feeling better.

On the round, carved walnut table located northeast of Valen's bed, she sees a tray holding a plate and a cup. Rosa realizes that Valen not only woke up earlier and ate breakfast, but he's suddenly too lazy to get out of bed again and go downstairs to put the tray, plate, and cup back in the kitchen.

Then, they hear Gengar letting out a loud shriek, following by Luxray letting out a panicked cry. Then, Gengar and Gardevoir's laughter echoes throughout the hallway.

"Guess Luxray was brooding in bed again." Valen faintly laughs, glancing into the hallway. "Or maybe his kitten photos 'accidentally' got leaked."

"Silly kitty." Rosa faintly giggles, her voice rising in pitch. "I missed these little moments."

"I did...do too." Valen's smile disappears, his voice dull. "I miss my old life so much." He's making some progress, but it's too slow.

Rosa caresses Valen's left cheek with her left hand. "You'll get there, sweetie."

This woman's a real jewel of a person, Valen thinks as he rubs her forearms. If he can't smile for himself, he should at least try to smile for her. Her usual smile and grin is far too precious and pure to risk.

"Come on. I'll make you breakfast." He stands up from the bed, grabbing the tray. "What are you in the mood for?" He had to learn how to cook anyway, since he moved out at age seventeen. He may as well use that to make the people around him happy.

With the feeling of Butterfree in her stomach, Rosa does a hard gulp to avoid blessing. "Blueberry pancakes, please." She folds her arms and tilts her head back, teasing. "I'm pleased with this royal breakfast."

"As you wish, my queen." He puts the tray down and gets on his right knee. ""Le roi et chevalier is here" He kisses her right hand. "Come." Her adorable giggle is music to his ears.

Gardevoir teleports in front of them. She eyes the tray containing the plate and cup, giving the duo a nod. Gardevoir teleports the items and herself out of sight. Valen. wraps his right arm around Rosa's waist. He feels Rosa wrap her left arm around his neck, the tapping sounds of their feet echoing as they walk down the dark brown wooden surface.

His warm touch soothes her as he strokes her hair. Tee-hee, her shocked expression when she learned that Valen learned how to make all of her favorite dishes was soooo funny!

Not just her, but others too. Typical Valey, always trying to one up himself in being a sweetheart.

Within the dining room, Rosa sits in the lone walnut chair on the right side of the walnut table. She's got a big grin on her face—not only she gets to eat one of her favorite breakfast foods, but the porcelain plate's got a Dratini, Dragonair, and a Dragonite plastered onto the plate's thick rim.

Valen stands across from her, leaning against the ornante black wall with his arms folded. He faintly gulps as he waits to see if he's still got the magic touch.

Rosa uses a knife to cut the blueberry pancakes, picking up a piece with a fork and taking a bite. Her eyes light up, they're as yummy as she remember them to be! She chugs orange juice down her through, the beverage cool and refreshing.

She catches Valen breathing a sigh of relief, which makes her laugh. "You silly, the fact that you made me breakfast is more than good enough for me."

"Point taken." His Gardevoir strolls into the dining room with her arms folded.

Rosa wags her left index finger. "Tsk tsk tsk, somebody didn't listen," she teases. "The fact that you're a good cook is hot." she winks. "I told you that we ladies love a guy that can cook, didn't I? It's not just your charm, you silly boy."

"I'm still glad that you like it."

"Of course, there's nothing wrong with that," she tells him. "But try to value yourself more, kay?"

"...Yeah-" Valen scratches the back of the head, admitting, "I know it's not healthy, but it's hard to stop."

"You'll get there, sweetie."

Gardevoir pats her trainer on the head, causing Rosa and Valen to laugh. She gives him a peck on the top right side of his head.

As for Rosa, she realizes that she hasn't taken a closer look at the old and cool living room yet. She'll take care of that later today, because it's time for them to geek out after she's done with breakfast. Among her most precious memories are Valen and her geeking out over art.

Speaking of which, leave it to her sweetie to have still-life paintings displayed on the dining room walls. Her favorite remains the same: Still Life with Bowl of Sitrus Berries by Giorgia Garzoni. The Sitrus Berries within that porcelain bowl look like they've just been plucked from a tree. It feels like she could reach out and grab them for her Pokémon.

"Still life painting's perfect for a dining room," Valen comments, eyeing the painting himself.

"Remember, I'm painter and you're the historian."

"Forever." Valen gives her a thumbs up. "Even though you're a boss at art history." He sighs, his sheepish grin returning. "Heh, my attempts at painting were so bad that you hugged me out of panic." She wouldn't let go, no matter how many times he said that he was fine.

"I had to make sure you kept smiling!" Rosa cheers, her face glowing. "Not everybody is cut out for it, and that's kay! Alsooooo, they weren't that bad!"

"Would you become an actress if giving the opportunity?" he inquires. "You were really good at being Serperior Woman at PokéStar Studios and Sunset Studios."

"Well-" Rosa scratches the back of her head. "I dunno, but I certintely wouldn't turn it down." She stops to finish the first pancake, then she moves onto munching down on the second pancake. "I love the performing arts, but painting's my artistic calling card." She winks, wagging her right index finger. "That being said, I'm game for theatre roles, and we all know how gorgeous I'd look in a box office hit on the big screen." Her smile becomes more tender, and she stares into Valen's eyes with a loving gaze. "Whether was a play or a musical, you were always in the front row."

"Of course I was," he says. "I had to sit in the front row to get the best view of how awesome you are."

"Am I awesome, or are you the awesome one?" Rosa's mouth falls open as she points her right index finger sideways and sticks her thumb out.

"I love a girl who can school people in history, on top of being cute, pretty, lively, and badass." Valen winks, clicking a tooth one time. "Not to mention you were indeed a stunner in those PokéStar Studios we did for fun."

"I love a guy who can recite painting names like he's reading a grocery list." Rosa winks back. "On top of being cuddly, classy, charming, and cool." she giggles. "You were sooooo cool and mysterious in those same films!"

A lightbulb flickers on inside of Rosa's mind. She can try to get him to talk about his passion for art. He needs to realize that he's got his strengths, and then there's that smile. That precious smile that Melanie, Hilda, and her adore. That sight is all they've every wanted from him.

She continues to eat and drink, wondering if he remember how much of an inspiration he is to her. He was, and still is, an awesome trainer and coordinator. He'd be a great historian too. He already is in her eyes.

An hour and a half has passed since they went downstairs together, and they've returned to the room. Valen sits back down on his bed to read, while Rosa takes a look around the room.

Valen's got a gunmetal gray blanket, but that can't be accurate to the Victorian era. Nevertheless, she does like the bed itself. The furthest front and rear sections have mahogany that was curved into an arch. It was further carved to include cool ornate patterns and imagery.

Time to check out the lamp on that table. The lush imagery of pine trees, mountains, pagodas, and a river plastered on the large shade make it look like a ink painting-that's because it is an ink painting! Tee-hee, she's so silly! Ho-oh, Lugia, Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres are also depicted within the imagery, majestically soaring above the scenery.

"That lamp was originally shipped to and sold in the Johto region," Valen informs. "Dunno if I told you that."

"Reverse-painted lamp!" she exclaims. "You did tell me!"

Valen sheepishly smiles, scratching the back of his head. "Oh, sorry-"

"It's kay, don't worry!" Rosa's eyes twinkle as she folds her hands. "Fully restored example from the early 1900s! That artwork is View of Johto-chihō by Sesshū Toju, painted in 1495!" She jumps, broadly grinning. "The Toju clan became prominent during Johto's Muromachi period and were pioneers of kabuki theatre in the early 17th century!"

"That's my girl."

"Yeeeep!" She looks at the book Valen's reading, her eyes lighting up when she reads the title. "Ooooh, Unovan Art and Architecture!"

"Ah, you finally noticed?" He points to the author's name, which is written in medium-sized bold letters. "Did the adorable kook forget?"

"Shut up, you lovable idiot." Rosa's amused tone increase in pitch. "I'm glad that you're still an avid reader."

Two other books are resting next to Valen. One's book on the Second Kalosian Empire that reigned supreme about four hundred to five hundred years ago. The other book's on the infamous clash in Orre's Tombstoner Town. Even though the battle didn't take place at the Onix Corral, but six buildings west of the rear entrance. Having read that book herself, she knows that the book makes that fact very clear.

Near the lamp and tabes lies a mahogany display cabinet. She doesn't remember this being here, but there's cool Pokémon figurines and sculptures resting within it. He's even got figurines of each of his Pokémon. Ceramics with Pokémon depicted on them are present too. Her favorite is the the plate that depicts a Salamence soaring over Meteor Falls.

Seven paintings are framed on the wall behind the bed, organized into vertical columns of three. "Ooooh, new additions!" She clasps her hands next to her right cheek.

"Heh." Valen closes his eyes, sporting a nostalgic smile. "Once upon a time, we were a couple of kids going crazy over Titian's paintings."

"Now we're young adults, and we still go crazy over Titian's paintings! You should get a print of at least one!"

"In due time, I will."

"Get a Rembrandt too!" Rosa inches closer, her eyes sparkling. "Pleaseeeeeeeeeeee?!"

Valen nearly blushes, but maintains his cool. "Gotta spook 'em all."

Rosa high fives him, then she twirls to look at the prints. She notes that the paintings at the bottom of both columns are landscape paintings devoid of any people or Pokémon, but they're cool depictions of towering mountains and a lush forest respectively.

Actually, she was wrong about the first one. A closer look at the former does show two trainers relaxing near a lake. One trainer's got a Machamp, and the other's got a Scizor. They're also relaxing, the early morning sunlight beaming down upon them and the scenery surrounding them.

Rosa takes a closer look at the second painting, but this one really doesn't have any any people or Pokémon in it. Nevertheless, she likes the pure natural scenery of this one too. She notes that in both paintings, the skies are finished in somewhat darker colors.

Rosa glances back at Valen, feeling a little uneasy. She know these Galarian landscape paintings, but she want him to realize that his voice matters too.

After a few moment of silence, Valen puts two and two together. "Mount Snowdon by Ronald Wilson, 1765." Typical Rosa, wholesome as ever. "Empty Avenue of Trees by Jack Constable, 1811."

She breathes a sigh of relief, her gaze lines up with Rayquaza's gaze in the top left row. It's The Roaring Sky by Marcantonio Matteo da Caravaggio. She loves how Caravaggio's dramatic usage of light makes her envision herself watching theatre. The use of thick dark clouds adds to the effect, the viewer's eyes being drawn towards the dragon, the vast majority of the light illuminating the green and yellow titan.

"Caravaggio really knew how to capture the raw power of a legendary."

"That he did," Valen agrees. "Since we're talking Baroque, Rembrandt's still the master of making you sleep with the light on." He smirks upon hearing Rosa laugh. He's not wrong and she's well aware of that.

Rosa turns her body halfway, giving Valen a devious grin, "I seem to recall that big tough Silver was spooked by Rembrandt's Darkrai Lurking." she giggles. "Should well troll him dragon at some point?"

Valen pauses, then deviously grins himself. "Hell to the yes."

They're so bad, Rosa mentally giggles. She aims her focus at the paintings again, her eyes lighting up upon seeing the painting with several different species of dragons. This one rests above Mount Snowdon, and she loves how a print of this painting is on the cover of Unovan Art and Architecture.

This painting depicts Salamence, Dragonite, Garchomp, Hydreigon, Haxorus, and Druddigon taking flight, resting and trotting around Dragonspiral Tower. AReshiram and Zekrom are depicting in the distance, soaring high above within the clear skies. Dragonspiral Tower by Thomas H. Castelia, he was so happy to receive this print as a present for his first conference win.

"What year?" Valen asks, proudly smiling. "You're overdue for a quiz."

"1800, and it's one of the earliest examples of Unovan Romanticism." Rosa proudly smirks, folding her arms. "Thomas Henry Castelia was a playwright, a painter, a sculptor, and an architect." She tilts her head like she's flipping her hair when it's down. "Cymus City was re-named in his honor in 1830, but Unovan cities still list the historical names next to the modern names."

"What else?"

"He's also one of The Founding Five," Rosa responds, tilting her head. "The five whom most impact in shaping modern Unova."

"I love hearing you talk art and history." Valen beams with pride. "That's my girl."

"We're such an awesome team!" she twirls. "Tee-hee, we both fell down the Bunnelby hole as kids!" She clasps her hands next to her right cheek. "Let's continue!" She twirls back to eye the three remaining paintings.

The one above Empty Avenue of Trees depicts a temple that's finished in some sort of brown, the magnificent building illuminated under the glow of a full moon. She notices that several Crobat flying above the sloped end of the large roof. She also notes the presence of Noctowl in the distance, perched on one of the lush trees.

This work, Tōshō-ji, is also by Sesshū Toju. That old and cool building's located near present day Olivine City. It was painted around the year 1475, but the building itself was constructed sometime between the years 590 to 610.

Rosa twirls towards Valen and winks. "I find it hot when you express yourself, even when I already know the information."

"Heh." Valen smirks. "Asagi Province used to be a giant farming community—the shrine was constructed in the hopes of a good harvest."

"I hope Lugia said thank you to the farmers." Rosa laughs with Valen. "If I know my Johto history well, the names are due to an influx of people from regions far away," she remarks. "Hence why the heir to the Toju clan is named Morty Matsuba Toju."

"You got it."

"It's cuz I'm Roooosa!"

She eyes the painting above Dragonspiral Tower. This one depicts the tranquility of the Galarian countryside, the rising sun beaming down on the quaint setting. There's a cozy looking cottage to the left, a large tree behind it and a smaller tree to its right. She notes that there's a Boltund standing parallel to a pair of Meganium that are pulling a hay cart through a shallow river. There's also various other humans and Pokemon going about their business in the background, from picking berries to haymakers loading hay onto a second cart.

"Jack Constable's The Countryside from 1821." She studies how the light and shadow patterns on land and in the sky are consistent. "I'm gonna try to paint like Jack Constable again one day."

"You'll do a great job."

"I'm on a roll!" Rosa cheers, raising her left fist above her head. She begins to jump in a dancing-like motion. "Go, go, go, go Rosa! It's your birthday. We're gonna party like it's your birthday!"

She turns her attention to the Lugia painting that's above Tōshō-ji, jumping backwards when she realizes what this is. This was in the lobby of the Liniya Corporation's headquarters. She loves how Lugia's popping out of a tidal wave, flapping its wings. The ocean twists and turns due to the power of this awesome Pokémon.

Lugia's Great Wave by Kamakura Hokusai, a woodblock from 1829. She figures that Valen must've gotten it while she were exploring the city. Now, if only they could find a print of Kamakura Hokusai's Ho-oh painting for a good price. Same applies to a certain Jack Constable painting.

"Rosa, look here." Valen uses his left index finger to gesture, then he watches Rosa approach him.

With Rosa standing right next to his bed, Valen makes her blush by holding her right hand with his left hand. Rosa feels a warm and fuzzy feeling throughout her body. He hasn't grasped her hand so affectionately and romantically since she reunited with him in person.

Valen gives her the widest smile he's given her since she arrived in the Calvana region, causing her to flash back to her first date with him. Valen had the exact same smile right before they shared their first romantic kiss. Prior to that was so happy that she said yes that he was jumping up and down like a giant idiot. Faint laughter from Valen causes her to return her focus to the present.

Valen puts his book down and places his left arm around Rosa's waist, pulling her closer. She never lost hope, and it paid off. She happily embraces him back, wrapping her arms around his neck. The talk they had yesterday taught Valen a valuable lesson about how lucky he is to have a girl like Rosa in his life. No matter what his demons try to tell him, he knows that Rosa and him will always be able to make up.

"You're still the best, sweetie." Rosa basks in his warm hug.

Valen's got both affection and mischief on his mind. "Behind this gorgeous queen is a badass knight." He gives Rosa a wink and clicks a tooth one time.

"Oooooh, you wanna play that gameeeee?"

Valen eyes Rosa from the top of her head down to her black leggings. "Damn girl, if you were writing in a book, you'd be the fine print."

"If you were in a play, you'd be the finest actor."

"You must be a Moltres, because you're a smokin' girl." Valen's grin becomes more seductive. "And don't test me."

"You must be a Zapdos, because you're a electrifying boooy." Rosa's smile becomes sultry. "You better not test meeeeee."

"Rosa, it's cold that we can't think of one for Articuno."

"Oh, that's easy." Rosa licks her lips, clasping her hands behind her back. "We need to cool down after it gets hot."

"Arceus must have sent you from the sky because you're a goddess in my eyes."

Rosa blushes over this this line from their first date—Valen said that he had a theory involving her known Arceus. When she told him to tell her, he dropped the line.

"Are you a Fire-type?" Valen winks, clicking a tooth once. "You're hotter than my Typhlosion's Flamethrower attack."

"Yeeeep, I know the move Blast Burn."

"Your personality's so cute that it's super effective against my heart."

"You're soooooooooo charming that it's quadruple effective against meeeee."

Both Valen and Rosa let go of each other, sharing a laugh. Then, Rosa turns her attention to Valen's five mahogany bookshelves and darts to it, filled with her usual enthusiasm. Her eyes are immediately drawn towards the gilt bronze clock. "Woo-hoo, more old and cool items!"

Valen's still smiling as he glances to his left, watching Rosa inching closer to jog her memory and see what he's gotten since last time.

"W-Woah, it's the The Art of Battling by Sūn Lí!" Rosa's mouth falls open as she jumps backwards. "A newer print of a work that was first written in the 5th century BCE!" She looks back at Valen, giving him a playful wink. "A good cook who's got a encyclopedia within his brain is double hot." she giggles. "You know what to do."

"As you wish, my queen." he smirks. "That man was the heir to the Lí dynasty that ruled the Taizhou region from 565 BCE to 520 BCE." His gaze meets Rosa's gaze. "Humans have been competing with one another for thousands upon thousands of years-"

"As a result, Pokémon battling's existed in some form since the dawn of civilization itself!" Rosa exchanges a high five with Valen. "Prepare for a pair of quiz questions!" She raises her right fist upwards. "Tell me about a super old league!"

"What's now known as the Kalosian Conference was established in 1286 CE as the Kalosian Fights."

"Correct, keep going!"

"King Roland IV wanted to show the strength of the First Kalosian Empire, but he didn't want to do it though war," he states. "Instead, he chose to show off their ability to tame powerful Pokémon."

Nooooow, name a battling competition that's even older." She wags her right ring finger. "Does big boy remember, hmmmmmm?"

"A famous example of an ancient battling competition would be the one held in the Colosseum during the heyday of Siscia," he answers. "As a bonus, I'll throw in the fact that centuries later, Gianluigi Bernini created a sculpture of Siscian Empire champion Constantine Romulus and his Arcanine."

"Good job again, Valey sweetie!" She bends her elbows, raising her fists. "You even gave a correct bonus fact!" She makes punching motions. "Our brains are like wham, bam, and pow!"

"We're a boss duo." Valen exchanges a fist bump with Rosa. "And you're as beautiful as a Bernini sculpture." He winks, clicking a tooth. "A living masterpiece."

"Awwww, thank you!" Rosa's eyes sparkle. "Tee-hee, we're sooooo smart, but we're also sooooo cute!" She twirls to face the bookshelves. "Back to this!"

Her mouth falls open as she points her right index finger sideways and sticks her thumb out. There's the books on Mew and Celebi sightings throughout history, Feudal Johto, and the Calvana Gold Rush. She also spots the book on the secret voyage of Sir Francis Devonshire, and she's among those who believe he made it all the way to the Utqiaska region. There's Architecture in Galar: 1530-1830, Art and Architecture in Kalos: 1500-1700, Calvanian Art & Architecture, Alolan Art & Architecture, and Venteuxian Art & Architecture.

"Aren't you going to say something, ball of fluff?"

"Tee-hee, I love how big your library is!" Rosa clasps her hands next to her right cheek. "Oooh, this book's on Kanto's most infamous hoax! Mew was never under that allegedly haunted truck!"

"What if Mew was the truck?" Valen fakes a stern expression.

Rosa happily gasps. "You solved the mystery!" She cheers, raising her right fist upwards. "Mew used Transform!"

"Heh." Valen gets off of his bed. "It's about time I did this again." He walks towards Rosa with a affectionate smile. "My turn."

As Rosa turns to face him, she met with a jolt from his lips locking in place with hers. She can't believe this —not once has he kissed her like this since she returned into Calvana. Up until this point, it's been vice versa. His hands on her back and head, the gentleness of his kiss, it feels amazing. It's all her worries have been vanquished by a valiant knight who rode in on a Salamence. She wraps her arms around her neck, the air around them heating up with fiery passion.

Since the curtains are rolled up, and because the bedroom's coupled window faces the backyard, Valen's entire team of Pokémon are watching this scene. All six of them smiling out of happiness, their eyes shining like the sparkling, dew-drenched grass that's all around them. Antics and silliness aside, all of Valen's Pokémon enjoy having Rosa around.

As for Valen and Rosa, they eventually stop kissing, but neither wants to let go of the other. The feeling of their hands and arms on each other is so soothing, almost addicting. They chortle over time they got into a shouting match over why the other was the better one, plus who loved the other more.

"Muhahahahahaha, I'm randomly Yami Valen now, or Dark Valen!" He booms, faking an evil grin. "Whichever you prefer, because they mean the same thing!"

"Oooooh, you want to be a baaaad booooy?" Rosa giggles, gently nudging her head against his.

"I'll dethrone you," Valen counters, his voice emitting a low-pitched tone.

"Oooooh, I love how that sounds." Rosa's smile becomes coy. "Why don't you do it noooow?"

"And you call me the bad one?" Valen snickers. "You're not much better, my queen."

"Looks like I've been a bad queen." Rosa kisses Valen on the lips. "Come and get meeeee."

"Very well, my queen," Valen teases, his smile growing wider. "What're your orders?"

"Use Charm, Seismic Toss, Submission, and Bind on meeeee." Rosa's eyelids flutter, her smile morphing into a grin. "If you can handle meeeee, that is." She places her right index finger on her lower lip. "Can you, hmmmmm?"

"I can handle you just fine," Valen teases, moving closer to Rosa's left ear. "Ask Skyla for proof."

"She warned me how sweet and spicy you are, and she was right." Rosa giggles, resting her forehead on his forehead. "I love it."

Valen and Rosa burst out laughing. They look into each other eyes with adoration, then they began kissing again.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 14: Chilling With Pokemon In The Backyard

As the sound of the kitchen sink echoes, Rosa rapidly moves around Valen's living room in excitement, keenly studying everything she sees with gasps of amazement. She got to eat Unovan pizza lunch, and now she gets to see all of these old and cool items. She's mesmerized by the eerie black walls with pearly white ornate floral patterns that contrasts it. What makes it even cooler is that he's plastered the walls with various woodcuts and prints of Dragon-types, such as Salamence and Hydreigon. The originals are the work Adalbert Dürer, a master of the Northern Renaissance who hailed from the Ziegler region. Woodblocks by Dürer that depict various other Pokémon, such as Gardevoir and Arcanine, are also present. She loves it when woodblocks get to hang out with besties.

Next up is Valen's writing desk. As her mouth falls open, she points her right hand sideways under her chin and sticking her thumb out. The old desk looks really nice, but why there's no cool pattern decorating it? The nearby antique cupboards have cool patterns on them. She will mercies sly cuddle him as punishment over this at some point.

Super Doctor Rosa's next appointment is with the the red rug that's got a thick gold outline, and it's in awesome shape. It's placed between a pair of large sofas, and she loves the depiction of Arceus and Dialga, Palkia on the rug. Leave it to him to have a rug with Raphael's Space, Time, and Creation on it. Dialga's blue sphere has an old and cool gold clock in the background, while Palkia's pink sphere has the contrast of the blackest of night skies with the brightest of stars. Those two take up the bottom half, with Arceus taking up the whole top half. Arceus has an old and cool clock too, while the sky is evenly split between blue, pink, and black.

Nooooow, it's time for Super Instructor Rosa to check up on those sofas. She presses both of her hands on the snowy white leather upholstery of both sofas. She loves how soft and cushiony they feel, giving them a passing score.

Rosa hears footsteps getting louder. A quick glance towards the kitchen reveals Valen strolling into the living room, his hands placed in his pockets with his eyes closed. It's time to have fun with her sweetie. With her hands clasped behind her back, she slowly approaches Valen. Then, she feels a ominous glare fixated at her. She nervously turns around while sweating, knowing who's behind her.

Gardevoir's got her arms folded as she angrily grunts under her deep breaths. She fixates her stare of doom at Rosa, like she's about to use Psychic to toss Rosa out of the nearest window. Rosa places her palms up in front of her, while Valen blinks in bewilderment.

Rosa breathes a sigh of relief when Gardevoir bursts out laughing. Gardevoir's smile becomes lopsided, and she tilts her head towards her trainer. Rosa exchanges a fist bump with the devious and elegant Pokémon, then she spins around on one foot.

"Soooooooooo, you still want to dethrone the queen?" Rosa's eyelashes flutter, a sultry gaze locked onto him. "I've been a veeeeeery bad girl, so whatcha gonna do about it?" She clasps her hands behind her back again. "You wanna recreate that movie where the hero had to bring the villainess into HQ, hmmmmmmm?" Her face is inches away from his.

Valen scoffs with an amused smile, replying, "I know what you want." He leans closer to her right ear. "I know exactly what you want me to do."

"This is my yin and yang, can you handle it?"

A jolt of excitement erupts within Rosa when she feels his hands on her backs, his lips plopped onto her lips. Both go tumbling onto the sofa, kissing hard for several minutes.

"You like that?"

"The queen's pleased with you," she whispers. "I'll surrender to my bad and handsome knight later—the kitty wants to play tag."

From the dining room, Luxray rubs his paws backwards, then charges towards Rosa like a Unovan football player. Rosa fakes a scared expression as she twirls and darts towards the front door and runs outside, the electric feline chases her down the front steps, through the pathway connecting the front steps to the cobblestone sidewalk, and onto the sidewalk itself.

Rosa abruptly stops and turns around. Tee-hee, the kitty fell into her trap! She slowly approaches Luxray, who nervously backs away a few feet. Luxray's face reddens as he lets out a panicked cry, turning around and darting away from Rosa. She chases Luxray like she's used Agility twice more, darting to block his path. Luxray attempts to run the opposite way, but Rosa somehow darts to block his path just in time. This repeats itself over and over again, because Luxray is too prideful and edgy to allow pets and belly rubs.

Valen and Rosa stand on the back patio, the former watching the later twirl around to check everything out. She excitingly looks around at everything in the backyard, from five chairs and a table within this large patio to the various plants that've grown within the sea of grass.

Rosa's secretly a little surprised at how well maintained the lush green grass and plants are, indicating that Valen isn't super lazy all the time. Valen would definitely be doing it by himself. She still admires how he wanted his backyard to be a place where Pokémon can chill out in. People can chill out in the backyard too, but the silly boy forgot about this patio at first

Valen's mouth curves into a devious grin. "How huge is it?" Gengar and Gardevoir, whom are standing next to Valen, snicker because they love Valen's jokes the most.

"It's really huge!" Rosa clasps her hands behind her back, awaiting the obvious.

"That's what she said."

"Grrrrr, attack Valey." Rosa giggles, bopping Valen several times on both cheeks.

"Ahhhhhh, soooo scary." Valen fakes a scared expression. "Have mercy on me, you unstoppable ball of fluff."

"Tee-hee, you're soooo funny!"

"Call out your team already." He bops Rosa back.


First, she calls out Serperior and Eelektross. Then, she calls out Hydreigon and Volcarona. Lastly, she calls out Aerodactyl and Milotic. Hydreigon and Milotic head towards Salamence, while Serperior and Eelektross head to Golisopod and Luxray respectively. Volcarona also heads to Luxray, and Aerodactyl heads to Typhlosion.

Valen notices that Rosa's Milotic has wrapped her body around Salamence. Milotic's got a coy smile on her face, giving the indifferent dragon a wink. Look at how cool his boy is, even though he's kinda acting like Silver. Specifically, Salamence's acting like Silver around that Kris girl he vaguely remembers meeting as his persona.

Gardevoir and Gengar, whom are still standing next to their trainer, laugh as Milotic fails to get Salamence to look at her. Valen takes a photo of it with his phone and sends it to Melanie via text, who responds back with laughing emojis and a picture of her Dragonite laughing over the photo, causing Valen to sport an ear-to-ear grin.

Rosa can't take her eyes off of this sight. She imagines herself wearing painting overalls, a giant canvas on a stand in front of her. There is, working her magic to immortalize Salamence and Milotic's romance in the style of the Romanticism movement, specially the Castelia River School movement. These two lovers snugging, a gorgeous and realistic depiction of rural Unova's lush grasslands and thick forests surrounding the. The finished work hanging in the Calvanian Museum of Art, being gawked at by all sorts of people and Pokémon. Everyone's got a big smile, her free smiles having no limits.

"Wake up, Rosa."

"Tee-hee, I ship it! It's us, but in Pokémon form!" She clasps her hands next to her right cheek. "I love it sooo much!"

Valen raises his eyebrows when he notices that his dragon has other ideas. "I dunno about that...you might wanna look again."

Unfortunately for Milotic, it's not her whom the dragon wants to hangs out with. As a grinning Valen begins to record the scene with his phone, his Salamence focuses all of his attention to Rosa's Hydreigon. Milotic becomes so jealous that she lets Salamence go just so she can use Ice Beam on Hydreigon, having to be held back by Rosa's Serperior, Rosa's Eelektross and Valen's Golisopod before she can actually fire it off. Golisopod stands in front of both dragons as a shield, while a stunned Serperior and Eelektross wrap themselves around Milotic, wresting the enraged and jealous water serpent to the ground, while she squirms to try to break free from their grasp.

By this point, Gengar and Gardevoir are roaring with laughter, but Rosa's about as amused as an angry mother scolding her child. She stomps towards the aquatic serpent, while Salamence and Hydreigon laughs at Milotic for trying to interrupt their dragon bromance.

Valen decides to look around his backyard. Not far from the patio area, his Typhlosion's getting along well with Rosa's Aerodactyl. Next to them is the sight of Rosa's Volcarona uses his wings to console a comically crying Luxray for losing another chase battle against Rosa. He overhears Rosa's giving a loud stern lecture to Milotic on how to behave at her "father's" house. Milotic looks irritated and angry, rolling her eyes like a rebellious teenager. The tired duo of Serperior and Eelektross continue to hold Milotic down, looking at each other in bewilderment and wondering when they can finally let go.

Then, Valen's phone rings. When he he sees that it's Melanie picks up, he answers it. "Sup, second best girl."

"Second best girl?" Melanie asks.

"Yeah, because Rosa's best girl." He watches Rosa happily close her eyes with a wide smile on her face.

Melanie chuckles, replying, "Well, you two are absolutely adorable together, so I'm fine with second place."

"I'm just messing with you, Empress Bossy Butt." he snickers. "Rosa already knows that she's best girl."

"I know that, you doofus."

"So, what's up?"

"Do you mind if I come over just to hang out?" Melanie asks. "It's been a while since my Pokémon hung out in your backyard."

"Sure, come on over," Valen replies, sporting a friendly smile. "It'd be nice to have you and your Pokémon over here."

"I'll see you soon, big guy!"

"Sounds good to me."

He can hear the glee coming from her voice. It's been a little bit since she's come over, so he's glad about this.

An hour has passed, and Melanie's arrived at Valen's house. Rosa watches them enter the backyard patio, softly smiling when they sweep each other into a hug. After letting go of Valen and vice-versa, Melanie calls out her Pokémon two at a time. First it's Dragonite and Scizor. Then, it's Alakazam and Swampert. Lastly, it's male Pyroar and Absol.

Dragonite immediately goes to Salamence and Hydreigon. All they need is for Hilda to show up, and the quadruple dragon bromance will be complete. Meanwhile, Swampert attempts to piece together why Milotic's in a sour mood, and why Serperior and Eelektross are lying on the ground and panting out of exhaustion. Pyroar decides to hang out with Typhlosion and Aerodactyl. Alakazam joins Swampert in trying to figure out what happened between Milotic, Serperior, and Eelektross.

Absol broods with Luxray over the latter losing the chase battle against Rosa, while Volcarona joins the other two Fire-types, plus his Aerodactyl teammate. Scizor happily greets Golisopod with a claw bump, but they quickly end up getting into a competitive claw wrestling match.

Valen looks at Rosa's Milotic, disliking the fact that she's the only Pokémon who isn't having a good time. Furthermore, a quick glance towards Rosa reveals that her smile's starting to fade away. Rosa's growing more concerned about her Milotic, and he doesn't want her smile to vanish.

Valen places his right hand on Rosa's head, no words needing to be spoken. Both of them start walking towards Milotic. As Melanie, Alakazam, Swampert, Gengar and Gardevoir observe, Valen ponders about how to go about helping Rosa's Milotic. Valen cautiously gets closer to the scowling Milotic, who has her eyes closed. He carefully places his right hand onto Milotic and begins petting her.

"You remember Valen, don't you?" Rosa asks, also petting Milotic. "I'm sorry for yelling at you. We mean well, kay?"

Milotic's scowl turns into a smile, letting out a cry to thank them. Milotic approaches the other Pokémon, letting out cries to apologize for all the trouble that she caused. This time, Salamence decides to pay attention to Milotic, much to her delight. Milotic wraps herself around the dragon once more. It turns out that the dragon was merely emulating his trainer's indifferent behavior because he felt like it.

"You're still a sweetheart." Rosa kisses his right cheek, feeling weak in her knees.

"I wasn't going to let that precious smile of yours vanish." Valen pats her head. "I should say hi to the others too."

"Good idea, sweetie." Rosa begins to walk back to the patio. She overhears Milotic letting out a cry to apologize to her. Rosa looks behind her, Milotic her and her exchange adoring smiles. She watches Milotic returning to her attempt to get Salamence to finally go a date with her.

Valen approaches Rosa's Hydreigon. As he walks towards Hydreigon, he gives Milotic and Salamence a teasing wink, causing both Pokémon to blush. He exchanges a high five with Melanie's Dragonite, and then greets Hydreigon with a wave. Hydreigon softly roars in response, exchanging a grin with Valen.

He walks up to Serperior and Eelektross, patting their heads. He follows it up by turning towards Melanie's Alakazam and Swampert, both let out joyful cries to greet him. He takes a detour to greet Melanie's Pyroar, Rosa's Aerodactyl, and Rosa's Volcarona, all of whom respond with happy cries. He would greet Melanie's Scizor and Absol, but they seem too preoccupied at the moment. His Golisopod lets out a victory cackle while Scizor lies face-up on the ground, comically crying over losing a claw wrestling match to Golisopod again.

Valen strolls back to where Melanie, Rosa, Gengar, and Gardevoir stand. Valen, Gengar, and Gardevoir happily exchange a three-way fist bump. Then, his mouth curves into a wide grin. "Rosa, let's set up a date between my Salamence and your Milotic."

Rosa closes her eyes. "Sounds good to me." she shrugs. "They may as well be involved already."

Both Salamence and Milotic blush immensely, the other sixteen Pokémon fixating mischievous glares at them. It's time to copy the humans and do what they call a roasting session. Gardevoir and Gengar go to join the other Pokémon. As the other two dragons egg Salamence on to make his move, the other Pokémon approach Milotic and Salamence at once.

Milotic cries out in excitement as Gardevoir gives an approving smile. Then, Milotic begins to sweat nervously when Gardevoir manically grins. Gardevoir lets the aquatic serpent know that she's always watching. Salamence cries out in embarrassment as Rosa's Hydreigon roars with laughter. Melanie's Dragonite lets out a laugh, amused that his old friend's got game.

Typhlosion gives her dragon teammate a smug grin, wanting to know how can he sweep entire teams, but he can't handle Milotic. Gengar snickers that the thought of Salamence having a girlfriend's scarier than his favorite prank, Luxray purrs as a way to tease both Salamence and Milotic, and Golisopod sneers over how Salamence can't even handle a lone Pokémon whom he's not even battling against. Serperior and Eelektross warn Milotic to give Salamence some space or they'll take her down again.

Aerodactyl's laughing so hard that he accidentally crashes into his Volcarona teammate, sending both Pokémon careening towards Swampert. Swampert gasps and attempts to run away, but both Aerodactyl and Volcarona crash into him. All three Pokémon end up lying on the ground as a trio of disoriented messes, wondering what just happened.

Alakazam's chatting with Dragonite about something the humans call a wedding, while Absol wonders why she was brooding when doing what the humans do to each other is so much fun. Pyroar and Scizor tear up in hysterics at the thought of the big bad Salamence attempting to wear what the humans call a tuxedo.

Valen's grin becomes devious as he just remembered a fact about both Milotic and Salamence: They're both in the Dragon egg group. "Salamence, no eggs for the time being. That's a new house rule."

Both Milotic and Salamence cry out in embarrassment as the other sixteen Pokémon roar with laughter. At the same time, Rosa giggles and Melanie chuckles.

"Heh, I still got it." Valen's smirk evolves into a lopsided grin. "Team Skull's Valen still causes mayhem."

Melanie places her hands on her hips, inching her face closer to Valen. "Oh?" Her smile evolves into a teasing grin. "I memorized that trivia question on Baroque, so let's see if your actions can live up to your words."

"At the end of the 16th century, the two most powerful people within the Kingdom of Siscia requested a meeting," he states. "Champion Giacomo de Concorezino and King Bartolomuccio I wanted Legendary Pokémon, Mythical Pokémon, AZ's story, and the epics of antiquity to be presented in a manner that strikes the viewer with an emotional ump.

"Name an example of architecture of the period."

"Parfum Palace, a fine example of Kalosian Baroque architecture."

"Can confirm both answers!" Rosa cheers, sticking her right index and ring fingers out. "Nobody can break up the most badass couple of all time!"

Melanie chuckles. "Valen's got a big-"

"That's what she said." Valen earns himself a forehead flick.

"I was going to say brain, you dirty minded doofus." Melanie wraps her right arm around Valen's neck.

"I dunno what you heard about me, but you can't take the troll outta me.

"I'm glad to see that you've fully retained your sense of humor."

"That's my lovable idiot for you." Rosa giggles, her voice high-pitched.

Valen looks back at Salamence, who's now trying to hide behind Golisopod. This silly dragon of his took down two legendaries at the Battle Frontier, yet he can't handle puppy love and being teased over it.

Rosa and Melanie glance at each other, their minds in-sync. Conquering Hoenn's Battle Frontier was a big triumph for him. Maybe if things keep looking up like this, he can return to those days. Keep fighting and you'll persevere, Valen. You're not weak, not at all.

Their thoughts are interrupted when they hear Valen answering a call from Silver. They can hear Silver screaming about The Three Stooges of Johto, and Valen's got a hilariously blank expression on his face.

Within downtown Angel City, Hilda and her Umbreon are sitting at a round, wooden table within a cafe's outdoor sitting area. She's attracted the attention of multiple people, but it's not solely because she's well known.

"What do you mean they sent white and gray?! I ordered black and white casual Guzmani and Grimsley Lauren for the employee uniforms!" Hilda barks through her phone's speaker. "You mean to tell me they don't know the different between black and gray?!" As Hilda continues to shout, her Umbreon tilts her head to her right, a concerned look plastered on her face. "Tell those Miltank maneuver assclowns that I don't play games!" She hangs up, her phone clenched in her hand as she lays it down on the table. taking a few breaths to calm herself down.

She rests her forehead against the end of the table. Why does moving the main division have to be so agonizingly slow and annoying? She can't neglect her friends and her hobbies, that's not the style of Hilda Odelle White. Neither is giving up on her dreams and desires.

Picture your dreams and live each day to the fullest. That's one of the things she tells people to cheer them up and/or to motivate them, including a certain someone that she deeply misses. He promoted the agency and helped her with the creation of this division. He treated her like a friend from the start. He was the sweetest thing.

Hilda's Umbreon nuzzles her face against Hilda's left side, and Hilda pets her back. t wasn't Snivy, Tepig, or Oshawott. It was Eevee, Eevee was her starter. This black-furred bestie was a real pain in the butt at first, but in a cute way. She wanted to play, play, and play, even when they had training to do.

All of her besties know why she wanted to start with an Eevee. "Go go Eevee Rangers!" She clasps her hands over her left shoulder. !Super awesome Eevee Rangers!" Hehe, that theme song will never get old for her!

Hilda lifts her head up and glances towards the towering skyscrapers that surround the café. She uses her white and pink hat upwards to shield herself from the bright rays beaming down from the mid-afternoon sun. As her blue eyes scan the buildings, Hilda notes that the some colors seem more vibrant than others. She likes the various colors that the buildings are finished in, such as white, black, dark gray, dark blue, sea green, and turquoise.

To her, these magnificent skyscrapers feel like a symbol of fame and success. She's read and heard that the reason why she's moving here contributed to how thriving Angel City is. She's in a region with a multi-trillion dollar entertainment and tourism industry. The pro circuit's got close ties to both industries, plus others. How could she not move the main division here?

The BW Agency is the embodiment of a desire, and the epitome of how much of a hit her Pokémon Musical idea proved to be. She wants to get talented Pokémon Trainers, or talented people in general the recognition that they deserve. She wants to have the best Pokémon actors available. She wants to continue planning and organize events. She wants everybody to smile and have a good time when she's around, or if she's running something. She's long since expanded, but all of her clients have been trainers who double as actors, actresses, musicians, and so on. She's worked hard for this, and she couldn't have done it alone. Of course, she still wants to be well known as a super awesome trainer in this region as well.

She smiles when she sees a text message from Rosa. Rosa wants to meet up within the next couple of days, and asks her to bring Calem, Leaf, and Brendan along. Hilda texts that she will, followed by thumbs up emoji. However, she feels conflicted inside. Rosa's such an amazing person, she was always optimistic. She wants to have that attitude too, but it's so hard. There's no way he can be okay. He'd never do this to anyone he cares about.

As Umbreon rubs her body against Hilda's right side, the latter feels a sinking feeling within her. A tidal wave of memories crashes into the shoreline called her 's always loved battling, but he was one of the main people who helped her realize that being a successful trainer herself would help the agency. He was also among those who said that a skilled trainer like her should show the world her strength. He's among her biggest inspirations, to the point that she wanted to train a Dragon-type that's notoriously difficult to tame.

"One thing will never change," she tells Umbreon. "I-" She places a hand over her heart. "I'll always love him."
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 15: Hilda's Heartbreaking Realization

The brisk morning sun conceals itself behind a string of cumulus clouds, faint chatter and the revving of a muscle car across the street from the grassy arena within Valen's neighborhood. A slight breeze rustles the dew-drenched grass to life, the shifting of feet making the grass dance.

Rosa's attention is drawn towards a flock of Starly chirping above. There's a Staravia and a Staraptor present too, and they all look pleased. Speaking of pleased, Valen decided to tag along with Melanie, Arthur and her. That's a big win, but a problem still lurks behind the scenes. She couldn't say no to either him or her.

"I didn't expect you to show up," Melanie tells Valen, placing her hands on her hips. "I'm not complaining, though."

Valen sits down on the wooden bench. "I came so Rosa doesn't get sad," he responds. "Besides, I'm starting to feel better."

"I totally forgot that the ship train never stopped!" Melanie's eyes sparkle, clasping her hands in front of her mouth. "Rosa and Valen's soooo my OTP!"

Rosa happily closes her eyes. "Tee-hee, I knew he couldn't resist me forever!" She cheers and twirls. "I'm quintuple effective against my Valey sweetie!"

"She kept her word." Valen's voice emits a faint joyful tone. "Just like you."

Melanie gives Valen a teasing smile. "Hey Rosa, are you still crashing at this doofus' place?"

"Well, I did go back to place I was renting for two days, but I had soooo much fun while staying with Valen, and I was already missing him sooo much!" Rosa fakes a pouty face, but reverts back to her usual self seconds later. "That's why earlier today, I brought most of my belongings over to his house! He said that I could stay as long as I'd like!"

Arthur rubs his chin. "Pardon the intrusion, but what does OTP mean?" Why can't she uses different terminology?

Arthur's question causes Melanie to roll her eyes, Rosa to giggle, and Valen to yawn.

"You've never tried to write a fic before, have you?" Melanie asks, placing her hands on her hips.

"No, I have not." Arthur lifts his eyebrows, asking, "Out of curiously, you ever written a novel before?"

"Two novels, but neither have been published." Melanie folds her arms. "I'll get around to that one day."

Everyone hears the echo of footsteps on the cobblestone sidewalk, the grass rustling and dancing again. Rosa's eyes light up when she spots spots Leaf, Calem, Brendan and Hilda entering the battle arena. She waves at her friends, who acknowledge her presence by giving her friendly smiles.

Melanie stops herself from fidgeting with her bright red nails. Rosa couldn't omit Hilda and Valen from this group meet to avoid further trouble, but how will they handle their reunion?

With nobody paying attention to him, a wide-eyed Valen looks away, his headache being the worst one yet. His muscles tense up, causing him to bend over. He's beginning to sweat, feeling like the air around him is emitting heavy tension. Why, why the hell is this happening to him?! Why can't he push back against the irrational fear? He missed Hilda, she's one of the most precious people in his life! He rests his hands on the sides of his head, which won't stop thumping. He takes several deep breaths, knowing that there's no way he can sneak away. He'll have to figure out a different way to protect himself. It doesn't really matter what he does now. Anything he does will end badly. So much for starting to feel better.

Rosa's gentle touch on his right cheek, calms him, but this isn't a good situation. He takes another deep breath, watching Hilda and Calem introduce themselves to Arthur and vice versa, while Leaf introduces herself to both Melanie and Arthur. Calem and Melanie have met, but they don't know each other super well like Serena knows her. Huh, Leaf's waving at him? May as well wave back.

"Get money! Get money! Get money money money money!" Brendan shouts. "Your homie Brendan Smalls is in the house! I also go by Big B, Big Poppa, and The Notorious Brendan!" Calem and Leaf are already fixating disapproving glares at him, but haters gonna hate. "I'm Hoenn's number one hustler, and I'm a strong and serious battler like the rest of you! I'm also a-"

"Be quiet!" Rosa, Leaf, Hilda and Calem scowl.

Yo, why everybody be hatin' on my swag?!" Brendan's eyes bulge out, his fists clenched. ""Junior Hustlers runnin' this shit!"

Arthur and Melanie laugh to themselves. Even Valen's slightly amused by Brendan's antics, as evident by a faint smirk.

Hilda's smile vanishes, noting that Valen doesn't seem to be anywhere nearby. She notices the nervous facial expressions plastered on Rosa and Melanie's faces, causing her to tap her chin. Something's really wrong about this situation, but what?

Melanie folds her arms and has a wide smile on her face. The confident aura Melanie emanates causes Leaf, Calem, and Brendan to feel as if she's the unofficial boss of this group, as Melanie's gaze and posture emits a commanding and confident aura. However, the three of them note that she also emits an aura of friendliness.

Melanie and Rosa wait for Valen to speak, but they quickly realize what's going on. His expression has a slight hint of fear, he's trying to keep himself from rocking back and forth.

It hits Hilda, and it sends a chill enveloping her body. Calem looks stunned too, he can't even speak.

No, there's no way, there's no way this is Valen. Hilda shivers, her body jerking backwards. She places her left hand over her gaping mouth, her eyes morphing into a sinkhole of sadness. She feels like she's about to slump onto the grass. She never expected one of the nicest people she's ever met to act like this.

While everybody else focuses elsewhere, she turns away. With her teeth clenched, she wipes away her tears. She takes a deep breath, deciding that it's best that she remain her usual self. She'd hate to make anybody else sad. At least Rosa and Melanie are around, which makes her feel content for now.

Rosa decides that she needs to distract Hilda. "Do you still falsely call yourself the queen?" She folds her arms, sporting a cocky smirk. "You know, that silly notion that you're better than me."

Hilda smirks, retorting, "I am better, I am the queen." She points to herself, tipping her white and pink downwards. "Silly pleb."

"Keep dreaming."

Valen wraps his left arm around Rosa's waist, giving her a warm and fuzzy feeling. He pulls her closer to him, kissing her on the top of her head. "You're a kook," he teases, exchanging a kiss on the lips with Rosa. He lets Rosa go, turning to look in Hilda's direction. "How about we make it a double battle?"

"I'm more than okay with that!" Hilda clasps her hands in front of her left shoulder.

Hilda must keep her spirits up, she must do it it for her sake and their sake. She turns around and strides towards the other end of the arena. She subtly watches Valen saunter past Melanie, Arthur, and Rosa, her smile fading. She sees Leaf, Calem and Brendan walk rightwards, turning to face the center of the arena. Calem must be hurt too. Leaf and Brendan don't need to be dragged into this.

Calem takes a deep breath. "Valen's ou've changed."

"Things change and people change." Valen avoids direct eye contact by looking at Calem's blue track jacket. "However, I've come to realize that there's one major thing that hasn't changed at all," he admits. "An incorruptible angel's found her way back into my life." He briefly flashes a smile. "Well, two angels." Can it be three?

Calem's gaze darts downwards. Maybe he hasn't changed, maybe Hilda and him misjudged, but he needs to distract himself. He keenly studies the wear and tear of the arena. Calem observes that the arena has been well maintained despite showing signs that many battles took place here, as evident by the signs of various cracks and holes underneath the lush green glass.

Hilda takes out two Poké Balls from her red crossbody bag, one in each of her hands. "I'll use Emboar and Beartic!" She presses the buttons on both Poké Balls to let her two Pokémon out.

Emboar lets out a booming cry, sounding like a wrester who had just won a big match Beartic snarls in a lowered tone, sounding like a vicious predator threatening a person or a Pokémon to back away from him. Both Pokémon confidently flexing their muscles at the same time, as if they were bodybuilders. Hilda smiles as both her and her two Pokémon await Valen's two Pokémon.

Valen takes out two Poké Balls from inside of his jacket, one in each of his hands. He presses buttons on both Poké Balls to let his Salamence and Typhlosion out. Both Pokémon have their heads bend downwards, their eyes closed like they're in the middle of a mediation session.

Salamence opens his eyes, glaring at his opponents. The red winged dragon lets out a ear-splitting, thunderous roar. The roar sends a large amount of shockwaves through the ground and air. Typhlosion opens her eyes, bearing her fangs. Typhlosion lets out a belligerent roar as flames shoot up on her back. Her roar sends more shockwaves through the ground and air.

Then, both of Valen's Pokemon notice whom their opponent is, causing them to sport somber smiles. They're enveloped by a bittersweet feeling, knowing why Valen behaves the way he does. Both of Hilda's Pokemon glance at each other, sporting concerned expressions. They remember this human, and Hilda was so worried that she'd never see him again. She once tried to resist recalling memories of him. They know she regrets it. As their trainers place the Poké Balls back in their respective places, the four Pokémon look at each other and nod. They decide to focus on the battle for now, but all four of them feel uneasy.

Brendan's looking forward to seeing this duo of Pokémon duke it out with Hilda's Pokémon. "Dang, this dude managed to tame a Salamence!" He exclaims. "That Typhlosion looks really tough as well!"

"It's nice to see them again." Hilda faintly smiles, eyeing Salamence and Typhlosion. "Hit me with your best attacks, Valen!"

Valen places his hands in his pockets. "Use Earthquake."

Salamence flaps his wings and takes flight. Then, Typhlosion jumps up and slams herself back down as hard as she can. A flurry of white shockwaves rumble the entire arena, causing Emboar and Beartic to close their eyes as they wobble from the attack, especially in Emboar's case.

"Typhlosion, use Flamethrower on Beartic." Typhlosion lets out a menacing roar, launching a reddish orange stream of fire from her mouth towards Beartic.

"Emboar, counter with Scald!" Hilda commands.

Emboar fires off a stream of steaming, boiling water from his mouth to counter Typhlosion's Flamethrower. Both attacks collide and cancel each other out, causing a medium explosion in the process.

"Salamence, counter with Hydro Pump."

As the smoke from the explosion clears up, Salamence fires off a large and powerful jet stream of water from his mouth, striking Emboar in the face.

"Again, then follow up with Dragon Claw," Valen commands. "Typhlosion, block Beartic with another Flamethrower."

Before Hilda can command a counter, Typhlosion launched another stream of fire, which strikes Beartic in his upper chest, causing him to shut his eyes and bellow. Beartic's sent staggering backwards. At the same time, Salamence fires off another jet stream of water, blasting Emboar in his chest. Emboar shuts his eyes, just as Salamence's front claws glow royal blue. Salamence dives down, slashing Emboar's chest with both claws.

Hilda's mouth falls open, watching both of her Pokémon stumble and stagger. Then, her mouth curves into a smirk, noting that Salamence is within close proximity of her Beartic.

"Beartic, hit Salamence with an Ice Punch!"

Beartic pulls himself together. His left fist glows icy blue, and he jumps into the air. He strikes Salamence on the dragon's right side, landing a blow to his face. Salamence stumbles backwards as Beartic prepares to attack once more.

"Use Ice Punch again!"

Before he lands, Beartic's left fist glows icy blue again. He jumps, striking Salamence in the lower jaw. This sends the dragon careening into the ground, but he quickly stands upright. Salamence glares at his opponents, letting out another thunderous roar as he takes flight again.

"Use Hydro Pump and Fire Blast."

Salamence fires off another large and powerful jet stream of water, while Typhlosion spits out a powerful surge of red-orange flames that take the shape of the kanji for fire. Beartic takes a direct hit from Fire Blast and is sent stumbling backwards. At the same time, Emboar's struck within the orange area of his chest, right below the constant flames under his jaw.

"Air Slash."

Salamence flaps his wings, sending a flurry of royal blue, disc-shaped blades towards his opponents. The flurry of blades pelt Emboar and Beartic. The former crosses his arms, but falls to the ground. The later mimics, but maintains his footing.

"Emboar use Scald!" Hilda turns sideways, extending her right arm out. "Beartic use Ice Fang!"

Emboar lets out a prideful cry, the Fire and Fighting-type getting back onto his feet. He fires off another stream of steaming, boiling water from his mouth. Beartic lets out a booming cry. His fangs glow icy blue, and he jumps towards Salamence.

"Salamence, fly higher and use Hydro Pump."

As Beartic charges at Salamence, the dragon flies upwards. With a smug grin on her face, Typhlosion falls back and roars for Salamence to get them. Her teammate fires off another powerful stream of water, blasting both Emboar and Beartic at the same time.

Valen feels a quiver within his body, the thumping returning with more intensity. Hilda's as strong as ever, but why can't he stop being paranoid? Why can't he avoid this when he doesn't want to hurt her?

"Emboar, rock their world with a Stone Edge!" Hilda tightens her fists, bending her elbows. "Beartic, make them chill out with an Ice Beam!"

Emboar slams his hands onto the ground. Then, several giant pillars of rock sprout upwards and encircle Salamence and Typhlosion. At the same time, Beartic fires off a frost white beam from his mouth at Salamence. The glowing red rocks converge and strike the duo from all ankles, while Salamence gets struck in his neck by the Ice Beam.

Why...why can't he stop being paranoid? Valen legs become restless, his ribs tightening. Why is this happening to him? Hilda's a nice person.

"Hey, snap out of it!" Rosa and Melanie scream, both placing their hands on her hips. "We know you've got what it takes!"

Valen's eyes widen, realizing just how much his mind's preoccupied with the Hilda debacle. Sorry...lost track." He notices that Typhlosion's pulled herself together, the Fire-type bearing her fangs. "That's my girl."

Then, Valen notices that his Salamence's not so lucky. Salamence's trying his hardest to stand upright, his eyes shut and his teeth clenched.

"Beartic, use Ice Fang!" Hilda turns to her right, pointing at Valen and his Pokémon. "Emboar, heat things up with another Scald attack!"

Emboar fires off another stream of steaming, boiling water from his mouth, while Beartic's fangs glow icy blue as he charges at Salamence again.

"Not this time." Valen folds his arms, tilting his head towards Beartic. "Typhlosion, send that Scald his way with Strength."

Typhlosion charges towards the boiling water as fast as she can, a reddish-white aura surrounding her body. She slams into Scald so hard that it changes course, the boiling water striking Beartic in the face. Beartic bellows, boiling water enveloping his body.

Hilda sweats, placing her right hand above her gaping jaw. How'd she forget about this?! She notes the wide-eyed expression on Emboar's face, nervously yelping when he's sent hurling backwards by Typhlosion.

As the aura around her vanishes, Typhlosion hears Salamence repeatedly grunts. She softly roars that they need to try their best for their trainer's sake. Salamence sharply re-opens his eyes and fixates a fierce glare towards his opponents, letting out another thunderous roar.

That's his boy, but he feels horrible, he feels like he's a bad person. He hates this, he want to be Hilda's friend forever. No, more than friends. Rosa and him have discussed that several times.

A worried frown appears on Hilda's face. She's been noticing that he's been struggling this entire time. This has gone on long enough, she decides as she folds her arms. "Hey, what's going on with you?" She narrows her eyes at him. "You haven't even acknowledged our friendship," she scolds. "If there's something wrong, please tell me."

Valen's mouth falls open, drops of sweat flowing down his face. "Back to the battle."

"Don't be an asshole." Hilda can feel her pulse and heart racing. "I need to know what happened to you." She tugs her arms. "Something's happened...I need to know...please."

Valen can feel his head pounding. He also feels nauseous, knowing that there's no way out of this mess. "I'm...I've become afraid of you...and I hate it." Tears stream down his face. "I thought you were going to tear me to shreds."

Hilda's eyes widen, her jaw dropping. "Valen...you actually thought...I was going to hurt you or something?" As she stares at the anguish on his face, she feels a chill throughout her body. "I'd...never hurt you." She places her right hand over her heart. She can feel it breaking. This must be how Rosa and Melanie felt too. A quick glance towards Calem reveals that he's shedding tears himself, but is trying to hide it.

"I pretended not to know you because of that." Valen shut his eyes, clenching his teeth. "I couldn't risk hurting you either...I hurt you anyway so it doesn't matter now." He takes several more deep breaths. "I don't want to be a burden to others."

"...Valen...you were never a burden." She feels a thickness in her throat, her legs feeling wobbly. Now she gets it.

An eerie silence envelops the arena, the rustling of foliage and the chirping of bird Pokémon are the only notable noises. Beartic and Emboar look back at Hilda, unsure of what to do. Salamence and Typhlosion look back at Valen, unsure what to do themselves.

Upon seeing his Pokémon's concerned expressions, Valen takes several deep breaths. "Sorry...I guess I should fo-" Roars from Salamence and Typhlosion interrupt him, causing him to respect their wishes. All three look towards Hilda, wondering what her Pokémon and her will do. "Hilda...sorry isn't good enough but...can we continue the battle...please?" he asks, his voice quavering. "I've been trying to battle more, so I'd like to see this through."

"Are you sure about this?" Hilda's concerned tone sounds monotone. "I don't want to make things worse for you."

Her limbs are getting heavier, her head's using Confuse Ray on itself, but she's got to be strong like Rosa and Melanie.

"I realized my mistake far too late, but I need to face my fears." He flashes the faintest of smiles. "Well, manager?"

"I understand." Her voice emits a gentle tone. "We'll continue." She nods at her Pokémon. "It's okay." She smiles when they nod back.

Melanie and Rosa know that they're both thinking the same thing. Valen and Hilda have a strong bond, so strong that they'll overcome this. They subtly fist bump, then they focus on the battle again. The two teams have already resumed their fray like wresters in a ring.

"Beartic, make Salamence cool his jets with another Ice Beam!" Hilda commands, raising up her left fist. "Emboar, give em a jolt with a Thunder Punch!"

"Not this time." Valen folds his arms. "Salamence, counter with Flamethrower. Typhlosion, use Fire Punch."

Beartic fires off an frost white beam from his mouth at Salamence, while Salamence launches blue stream of swirling fire. The attacks crash into each other, causing a detonation that results in smoke.

At the same time, Typhlosion's left hand and Emboar's right hand are engulfed in flames and electricity respectively. Both glare at each other as they lunge, their fists colliding like the swords of two knights engaged in combat. Both Typhlosion nor Emboar refuse to give an inch, undeterred by the smoke.

Typhlosion and Emboar weave from left to right and vice versa, evading the other's attack. Eventually, Emboar strikes Typhlosion just under her lower jaw, sending her staggering backwards.

"Shock em with Thunder Punch!" Hilda shouts, raising her right fist upwards. "Beartic, cool em off with an Ice Beam!"

Valen notes that no clouds are dimming the sunlight. "Dragon Claw and Solar Beam."

As the smoke clears, Typhlosion jumps out of range of Emboar, the latter's right fist engulfed with electricity again. Salamence uses his front claws, which glow royal blue, to intercept Thunder Punch.

Both attempt to push the other backwards, their vision obscured by the smoke that's enveloped the battlefield. The flames on Typhlosion's back glow bright red, a flurry of glowing orbs appearing and diving into the flames. Typhlosion fires off a massive bright red beam of energy towards the frost white beam. Solar Beam manages to cancel out Ice Beam, Beartic's wide-eyed stare causes Typhlosion to snicker. The Ice-type's blasted in the face, bellowing as he goes careening backwards.

Hilda notices a repeat position. "Salamence's in close proximity again of Beartic." She playfully winks, wagging a finger. "Brush up on your skills."

You're still strong." He regrets his actions, but he's glad that Hilda wanted to resume their battle.

"You too." Hilda's still saddened by his change, but she's also happy that the Valen she knew is still present to an extent.

Both Valen and Hilda note that their Pokémon are starting to get tired. It's now or never.

"Another Ice Punch!"

Beartic's left fist glows icy blue. He lets out a prideful cry, jumping in the air towards Salamence.

"...Playtime's over." Valen faintly smirks. "Evade and use Iron Tail."

Just as Beartic's about to strike Salamence in the lower jaw, the dragon immediately does a full circle with his tail now glowing silver. He slams his tail into the Ice-type's right side. As Beartic slams into the ground on his back, Hilda's eyes widen. She places her right hand over her gaping mouth. "E-Emboar, Stone Edge!"

Emboar slams his hands onto the ground. Then, several giant pillars of rock sprout upwards, emitting a red glow. This time, the pillars slam into both Salamence and Typhlosion, sending them reeling. They shut their eyes, but they refuse to go down.

"Yes, do it again!"

"Typhlosion, counter with Earthquake."

Salamence struggles to maintain flight, while Typhlosion pulls herself together and glares at her opponents. Typhlosion jumps up and slams back down as hard as she can, sending a flurry of white shockwaves that cause the ground to rumble. Both Emboar and the nearly defeated Beartic wobble from the attack.

Valen sees this as his chance to finish off Beartic. "Salamence, use Dragon Pulse," he commands. "Typhlosion, use Flamethrower."

First, Typhlosion fires off another powerful stream of fire from her mouth. The attack strikes Beartic on the top of his head, the Ice-type's body bending forwards.

A a white sphere of energy forms within Salamence's mouth. Salamence launches the sphere, which morphs into a dragon-shaped beam. It morphs into enormous white dragon with blue eyes, a lengthy tail, and talon-shaped spikes running parallel on both sides of the head. A howling gust of wind blows as the dragon formation blasts both Emboar and Beartic, sending them hurling behind their wide-eyed trainer.

Both crash face-first onto the grassy field. Beartic attempts to stand up, but he falls back onto the grass in defeat. Salamence boomingly roars, his eyes glowing royal blue.

"Moxie's taken effect," Hilda murmurs, recalling Beartic. "You fought well," she compliments, placing the ball back into her bag.

Valen gives Salamence and Typhlosion an approving smile. Salamence and Typhlosion grin, but they quickly revert back to their fiercely competitive demeanors. However, it's not all what it seems. Salamence can't get his mind off of what happened. Slowly, the will to continue the battle is slipping away from him.

"Salamence, use Hydro Pump. Typhlosion, use Fire Blast."

Hilda looks straight up, her eyes emitting a sorrowful gaze. She can't keep this up, she's losing her will to fight. Why him, why this sweetheart?

Salamence and Typhlosion simultaneously launch another jet stream of water and another surge of flames that take the shape of the kanji for fire. Both attacks hit Emboar in the middle of his body at the same time, sending him wobbling backwards. Blaze activates, the exhausted Emboar's eyes glowing red.

Suddenly, Salamence loses his mid-air balance. He slams into the ground, causing everyone's eyes to widen or their mouth to gape open. Salamence's down, but he's not out. He refuses to go down, trying his hardest to stand up.

Hilda places her right thumb and index finger on her chin. What happened to his Salamence? This dragon's tough enough to take some serious blows and has taken down some seriously tough opponents in the past. She's shaken back into the present when Salamence roars at Emboar and her. Of course, this dragon will never forfeit, no matter how much he struggles with his will to fight. Emboar's looking back at her, both trainer and Pokémon choosing to respect Salamence's wishes.

"...Alright...use Blast Burn."

Emboar's eyes glow an even brighter red, while Salamence musters up enough strength to stand upright, albeit barely.

"Salamence, try using Hydro Pump." This probably won't work, but it's worth a try.

With one eye closed, Salamence launches a powerful jet stream of water. At the same time, Emboar slams both of his fists into the ground, causing a massive inferno to careen towards the dragon, singeing the grass as it does so. Before Hydro Pump can hit, Blast Burn engulfs Salamence. Salamence slams into the ground seconds later.

"Aerial Ace," Valen commands, recalling his Salamence. He stares at the dragon's Poké Ball, musing, "I failed you...I failed all of you."

Typhlosion roars, her body being enveloped by a red outline with white streaks. She lunges at Emboar, moving so fast that she looks like a blur. Within milliseconds, Typhlosion slams into Emboar's chest, sending him crashing onto the ground.

Hilda recalls her Emboar, nearly dropping the Poké Ball as she places it back into her bag. She swallows, trying to maintain her usual nature. She doesn't want others to be sad. She sees Typhlosion looking back at her trainer, exchanging a somber smile with him as he recalls her.

Valen places the Poké Balls back inside his leather jacket. He glances around, realizing that he can't sneak away just yet. Dammit, he really needs to get out of here. He can't face Hilda after what he's done to her. As Valen's gaze darts away, Hilda's gaze meets it. Both stare at each other with a pained look.

Hilda tenderly smiles, stating, "You won't escape me, Val-Val."

Valen's eyes widen, his mouth falling open as he jerks his head back. "Val-Val?!"

"That's my nickname for you, remember?" Hilda wags her right index finger.

Valen's heartbeat and pulse increasing rapidly. He can't bring himself to make eye contact with Hilda, choosing to look at her black waistcoat and the white top underneath instead. "H-Hilda...what-"

Hilda cocks a brow, her mouth falling open. "What's wrong?" she asks. "Our friendship never ended." Does he really think eight years of friendship would end just like that?

Valen backs up, unsure what to do. He looks into her eyes, those deep blue eyes that make him feel a little bit calmer. There's no way, there's no way that this is happening. Why's she treating him like this? He hurt her, he made her cry. What's going on here?

"This isn't you," Hilda states, her gaze now gentle. "I know this isn't you."

After all that, after hurting her, after he realized his error in judgement far too late, there's love. There's unconditional love emitting from her eyes. Those eyes of hers aren't even emitting a sense of rage, hatred, or another. She was rightfully upset, but she didn't tear him to pieces. Instead, her eyes emit a strong tenderness towards him.

"...Are you still afraid of me?" Hilda frowns, tugging her arms. "I'd...never...hurt you."

"Hilda, I-" Valen's voice sounds dull, his shoulders starting to slump. "I screwed up...I need to compose myself." He glances away from her. "The guilt's strong."

Hilda feels disgusted at herself. First she called him an asshole, now she's making him uncomfortable. She has to tell him, though. He has to know what they still are, what they'll always be.

Hilda folds her arms and furrows her brow. "Wait, reaper," she calls out, her tone firm. "Manager's orders."

Valen halts, staring blankly at the ground. "...Why?"

"You know why," Hilda retorts, lovingly smiling. "Besties forever."

Leaf notices that Valen's feeling uneasy. She frowns, starting blankly at the ground. "I barely know him...and I know Hilda means well...but-" She turns her head towards Hilda, wanting to help him out in someway. "Hilda, do you mean The Black Reaper?"

While Rosa, Hilda and Leaf are distracting everybody, Valen sees his chance to scurry away. "Thanks...thanks Leaf." Valen sheds tears, clenching his teeth as he scurries off. He now remembers one of the biggest reasons he stopped battling in the first place. Dimitri was right—his mental state affects his battling. What can he do about it? Can he do anything about it?

Rosa happens to take a quick glance in Valen's direction. She glances back and sees everybody's looking away. Thus, she decides to beat a hasty retreat.

As the others converse, Hilda ponders about this situation. Poor Salamence couldn't bear it anymore, that's why he went down. The high stake battle his trainer and his teammates are facing can't be solved with that kind of strength.

She's got to get out of here too, or she'll break down in front of everybody. She can't suppress what she's feeling inside for much longer.

Hilda's walking down the cobblestone sidewalk, having told the others that she'll meet up with them later. She looks at the aged houses that make up the neighborhood, trying to put her mind at ease.

However, her mind quickly returns to the anguish she's feeling. Melanie and Rosa must've felt as heartbroken as she did. They probably still feel their hearts aching. "...Scared of me...why?" Hilda winces, her stare vacant, "I'd never...I'd never do anything to hurt him...why so much paranoia?" It's not his fault, but what happened?

She somberly smiles, recalling the day she became his agent. She'll never forget the sunny day when he strode into her office in Nimbasa City, wearing a black leather jacket. She didn't know that his clothes were Guzmani, but that's because the brand had just launched. She remembers their initial exchange well, which started as he was sitting in one of the plush chairs.

When she asked him who he was, he said that the was the big bad trainer who beats you down without every letting him. When she dared him to put his money where his mouth is, her jaw dropped when he told her to ask her Salamence. Oh no, he was not escaping her. She liked him already, and he said he likes sassy girls. She later realized that this was the same charming boy who attended acting lessons hosted by her mother and her.

The loud sounds of chirping Starly and Staravia causes Hilda to snap back into focus. She comes to a halt, staring blankly at the sidewalk. "So much coldness...agony... pain...don't go...please don't leave me." She places her right hand over her heart. "Please...remember...how we really feel about each other." She clenches her teeth, tears dripping from her eyes. "I'd never do anything to hurt you!" She slumps onto her knees, her stream of tears becoming a river. "Please don't be afraid of me!" She feels her limbs getting heavier. "PLEASE COME BAAAAACK!" She screams at the top of her lungs. "I DON'T WANT TO LOSE YOOOOU!"

She doesn't notice that Melanie and Calem have located her. Calem and Melanie look at each other with pained expressions.

"I'll handle this," Rosa calls out to them. "Arthur, Leaf, and Brendan told me."

Melanie and Calem turn around, watching as Rosa marches towards them.

"Where'd they go?" Calem asks.

"...They said that there wasn't much that could do," Rosa replies, biting her lower lip. "They don't have a history with Hilda and Valen like we do." She tightens his fights, pressing her lips together. "I'm going to lead the charge."

Melanie and Calem nod, stepping aside in opposite directions to let Rosa pass.

Rosa walks up towards Hilda, who's gone quiet. Rosa kneels down behind Hilda, rubbing her shoulders. Hilda re-opens her watery eyes, glancing behind her. She wraps her left arm around Rosa's waist. "...Please make sure that nobody holds this against Val-Val." She uses her left hand to wipe away her tears. "Please...please make sure that nobody hurts him...my heart's already been shattered into pieces." Her pained gaze meets the trio's eyes. "He's suffered enough."

"We're disappointed with him, but we aren't going to increase his pain," Melanie reassures, folding her arms. "We all know who he really is deep down."

Rosa shuts her eyes, tears streaming down her face. "I can't believe...he was scared of Hilda...and me...I wish I'd known that sooner." Her own heart was shattered when she learned more about what he's going through.

"...What do we do?" Hilda asks, wiping away her tears.

Rosa re-opens her eyes and wipes them. "We'll just have to prove him wrong...so wrong that his shell completely breaks." She feels a surge of fiery determination. She tightens her fists, pressing her lips together.

"...We've had three people break down over what he's become," Melanie laments. "Me included."

"That's why Serena nor Skyla can't find out about this," Calem warns, feeling a sinking feeling in his stomach. "Nor can anyone else." he sighs. "I hate doing this, but it's for their own good."

"...If you insist." Melanie bows her head. "What'd he do to deserve this?" she whimpers. "He was always nice and polite to everybody."

Hilda notes that while Rosa's also got a pained look plastered onto her face, she still looks determined. The real Val-Val never goes down without a fight, neither does Rosa and Melanie. She can feel her own fiery determination surging within her. She'll never turn my back on any of her friends. She loves him, he'll remember that eventually.

The front door creaks open as Rosa slowly makes her into the house. A wide frown's plastered over her face, her blank stare aligning with the floor as she walks into the living room.

Then, she hears it. She hears vomiting coming from the downstairs bathroom, which is located in between the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen. Her eyes widen, tears dripping from them. Then, another vomiting sound echoes throughout the house, this one even louder. Her heart and pulse begin to increase at a rapid pace. Without hesitation, she darts to her left, then repeats it, passing the living room before she even realizes it. Rosa tears up, hearing the sound of vomiting again. Please no, spare him for once! Spare her sweetie, hurt her instead!

As she approaches the hallway's dining room entrance, she turns left again, approaching the kitchen. Then, she halts, starting at the bathroom. She notices that Valen's leaning up against the bathroom wall, his Gardevoir, Gengar, and Luxray by his side. She notes the three Pokémon are attempting to hold back their tears, but are unable to do so. They aren't even looking at their trainer—the sight's too painful to watch. She slowly approaches Valen, feeling like weights have put on her. "Are you...okay?"

"I think so...sorry." Valen sighs. "I don't blame others—I'll own up to this too."

Rosa glances at the trio of Pokémon. "Are you three okay?"

Gardevoir and Luxray faintly smile, nodding their heads. Gengar faintly grins, all three Pokémon wishing they could lighten up the mood.

Rosa turns her attention towards Valen again. "Hilda will forgive you." She sweeps Valen into an embrace, wrapping her arms around her neck. She feels him place one hand on her back, and the other hand on the back of her head.

"I have my doubts," Valen responds, feeling a knot in his stomach. "Rui...don't end up like me...please...I'm going to end up like Wes at this rate."

"It's going to be okay," Rosa comforts, feeling tears dripping onto her white and ice blue top.

Valen clenches his teeth, tears streaming down his face. "I'm such a failure!" His emotion choked voice echoing throughout the room. "Why didn't I realize any of that before it was too late?!"

Rosa fights back her own tears. She must stay strong. "You'll see it in due time," she affirms, kissing him on his right cheek. "Hilda still loves you as a friend, and you're the best boyfriend I could've asked for."

While, Rosa comforts their trainer, Gengar wishes that the world would spare him from pain. Luxray says that he agrees with Gengar. We're hurt whenever he's hurt. Gardevoir admits that she wishes she could teleport all the anguish away. The trio look at each other, sporting determined expressions. They'll continue to stand by his side, no matter what.

Within the backyard, the other three Pokémon face away from the house. They've got their heads bowed, tears dripping from their eyes. Salamence whimpers that he's powerless to help Valen, Typhlosion admits that she's no different, while Golisopod remains quiet. He doesn't know what to say. They glance at each other, knowing that they're all thinking the same time. They'll never leave his side.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 16: Looks Can Be Deceiving

Rosa makes her way towards the master bedroom, her right hand rubbing against the pearly white ornate patters of the black wall. As she's about to open the door, she halts to ponder about recent events. It's been a couple of days since Valen's battle with Hilda, and she's been able to hang out with her friends. However, she's been struggling to going back to her place.

"Hilda...I'll try to make it up to you...if I can."

Hearing Valen's dull tone from within his room causes Rosa's posture to slump. Deep down, that punch to the gut's far from being healed. His current state didn't break her heart—it shattered her heart into hundreds upon hundreds of small fragments.

The sound of Valen vomiting echoes within her mind. That horrible noise, the pain infused within his voice, enough is enough. Let her take his place, let her endure that pain so he doesn't have to.

She takes several long deep breathes to calm herself down. She all of her inner strength to fight back her tears. She firmly believes that Valen doesn't need more gloominess in his life, especially not from her. She's done running from the darkness. She wants to be the valiant angel who vanquishes the darkness for good.

Then, she notices Valen's Luxray slowly walking towards her. Luxray's mouth falls open upon seeing her facial expression. Her smile's important to his trainer, thus it's important to the six family members on his team. Luxray nuzzles his face on her right side. Forget the whole kitty thing right now. Let her pet him if it makes her happy.

Rosa slightly bends forward and pets Luxray's back, smiling when the feline purrs in response. "You don't want to be treated like a kitty, yet you act like this," she teases. "Thanks, Luxray."

Luxray nods, backing away from Rosa. The feline walks past her, sporting a content smile. Now that the more important matter's been dealt with, it's time for him to eat some cheese puffs.

Slowly, Valen's black wooden door creaks open. Rosa giggles upon seeing that he's awake, but refuses to get out of bed. "Rise and shine, sweetieeeee!" She exclaims, dallying into Valen's room. "Tee-hee, Rosa commands you to get up!"

"No," Valen retorts, yawning so loudly that someone might mistake him for a Slaking.

"Roar, Rosa will use Body Slam to make Valey sweetie get up!" Rosa giggles again as she rushes up to Valen's bed, removes the large gunmetal gray blanket over him, and playfully jumps onto both the bed and Valen as hard as she can.

Valen gives Rosa a playful smile, stating, "You make a good blanket."

"Tee-hee, you're so funny!" Rosa leans her forehead up against Valen's forehead, placing her right thumb on Valen's chin as she kisses him on the lips. "However, by refusing to get out of bed, you've been a very naughty boooy." She gives Valen a seductive smile, gigging at his reddening face. "I'm not happy about that."

A nervous Valen breaks eye contact. First, he stares at her white and ice blue top. Seconds later, his gaze moves downwards to Rosa's frilly yellow shorts and black leggings. He lets out a faint yelp, jerking his head to his left.

Since Valen's wearing a gunmetal grey sleeveless shirt, Rosa decides to use that to her advantage. She rubs her hands on Valen's arms, stating, "Such big muscles you've got, my handsome kingly knight."

Valen regains his composure, deviously grinning. "You're barking up the wrong tree."

"E-Eep!" Rosa begins to sweat nervously. "Please don't say that-"

"Today's lunch is deep dish pizza with pineapple and spinach."

"I surrender!" Rosa blurts out, hiding her face with her palms. "Don't bring up that abomination!"

Valen laughs, then he wraps his arms around her midsection. "Thanks for trying to cheer me up." He feels her wrapping her arms around his neck."

"Rosa and the Pokémon won't allow sadness from you." She kisses him on the lips. "Dwelling and beating yourself won't help," she whispers. "Keep pushing forward."

"I know...I'm just ashamed-"

"I promise that everything will work out in the end, kay?"

"...Thank you." He lets go of Rosa and vice versa."

"I'm going out for a walk and to have some battles," she informs. "I'll be back for my prescription, kaaay?" She gives Valen a flirtatious smile and wink.

"Prescription?" Valen asks as Rosa turns around, looking like she spun as fast as a moving car's wheel.

A content Rosa hums to herself as she begins her undulated, sensual walk towards Valen's door, which was left open. Valen stares in confusion over how Rosa's walking, but he prefers not to know why Rosa's walking is so odd this time around.

"Yeeeep, I need my daily dose of Valey's love and affection!" Rosa says, stopping to give Valen a broad grin. She clasps her hands next to her left cheek. "The doctor said that I have to take both of those medicines multiple times every daaay, kaaaay?"

As Rosa walks out of his room, Valen can't help but blush over Rosa's behavior.

"Why must you be so adorable?"

"It's cuz I'm Rosa, big booooy! Rosa's the poster girl of adorable!" Rosa hollers back as she begins to dally down the stairs. "See you later, my Valey sweetie!"

"...I've been tracking down something really special for her," Valen murmurs, somberly smiling. "I know she's wanted this for a while...finally found one. She's done so much for me...I can never thank her enough."

It's now early afternoon, the sun beaming its bright rays down upon Angel City. Within the city's bustling downtown, Brendan and his Houndoom stride down the concrete sidewalk. "Get money! Get money! Get money money money money!" He shouts, proudly grinning. Houndoom sports a lopsided grin, ready to "rock the house." At least, that's what Brendan's said in the past.

Brendan's walking through an area with heavy foot traffic. The brochure he recalls reading that this area is where a lot of resorts, hotels, five star restaurants, casinos, and clubs are located. HE eyes all of the buildings he passes by, noting that a few tourists are pointing at him. He assumes that they must be visiting from Hoenn too.

As he walks past a large café with plenty of outdoor seating, he overhears Hilda having a conversation with Leaf. "I'm glad that she's at least feeling well enough to hang out," Brendan remarks. Then, he smirks when he realizes that he can have some fun. More importantly, he wants to cause a distraction for Hilda, because there's no way she isn't feeling sad inside. That guy's behavior wasn't great, but she loves him. Is it friend love or something else? Who knows, but friends don't let friends remain sad.

Hilda and Leaf come into Brendan's line of sight. He notes the presence of Hilda's Beartic and Leaf's Venusaur as strides over to the two women. "Hilda, the Black Reaper sent me as his replacement for you to gush over!" He's unfazed by the fact that both Hilda and Leaf look like they're about to throw him into the giant dumpster that's behind the café.

"As if you can match him " Hilda points to the sidewalk, giving Brendan an unimpressed unrelenting stare. Her Beartic and Leaf's Venusaur exchange a grin.

"Even a Lance girl like me knows that you're sooooo not cool enough!" Leaf sassily snaps her fingers. She's a magician trying to make Brendan poof away from her location. "In fact, you're like negative fifty trillion billion million on the coolness scale!"

Brendan snickers as he folds his arms, retorting, "I'm not going anywhere!" He hears his Houndoom howling in support.

Leaf and Hilda glance at each other, remembering how Brendan likes to share memes about the squad roasting people. It's time to give him a taste of what that's like. For Hilda, it means that she's not going to be the target for once.

"Yo, I'm still here!" He snickers again. "It's working!"

"First off, where's your motorcycle?" Leaf chastises Brendan, her Venusaur closing his eyes and nodding.

"Yeah, where's your motorcycle?" Hilda chimes in, her Beartic folding her arms and nodding.

"Yo, chill out! I didn't come here for a roast session!" Brendan yelps, his Houndoom blinking in confusion. "Also, what motorcycle?!"

"You were physically present three days ago." Hilda stands up and places her hands on her hips. "Rosa said that I was his agent and manager." She fixates an intimidating and overbearing glare at Brendan. "I also ran the Unovan fan club."

Brendan steps back, sweating over the possibility that she's about to charge at him like a Rhydon. He's envisioning the Imperial Hilda March theme being blasted somewhere nearby. He was just trying to have some fun two April Fools ago, but it backfired.

"You dare question my authority within his fanbase?" Hilda scowls, furrowing her brow. "You dare oppose me, mortal?"

Brendan avoids eye contact with Hilda, choosing to look at her black waistcoat and the white shirt she's wearing underneath. All three Pokémon blink in confusion.

Suddenly, Hilda's scowl is kicked off of her face by gleeful grin. Her angry glare turns into sparkling eyes, and her face slightly reddens. She places her hands on her cheeks. "So uh, yeah! I totally know what I'm talking about! He had this really cool motorcycle that he'd show up on! Then, he would toss his biker jacket into the air to reveal his suit! He always look so cool and dashing! She sways from side to side "Kyaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

Hilda notices Brendan, Leaf, and all three Pokémon are mischievously smiling at her, causing her to jump backwards. She nearly loses balance, but manages to remain on her feet. "H-Hey, he's a cool guy to hang out with, okay?!"

Leaf decides to mess around with Brendan. She gives him the same mischievous smile. "I bet he doesn't even own a suit, let alone a cape." She snickers as she points at Brendan's black and red T-shirt. "Such a scrub."

Brendan's eyes widen, his jaw dropping. "W-Woah, chill-"

"Look at this guy's lame ass hat, or is it his lame ass hair?" Hilda laughs. "He looks like he once tried to cosplay as an Altaria but got kicked out for having the worst costume ever."

Brendan folds his arms. "Hilda's vicious, and this is coming from a battle rapper."

As for Brendan's Houndoom, Hilda's Beartic and Leaf's Venusaur have been dealing him a roasting of their own. Beartic laughs that even a Fire-type like Houndoom can get scorched by roasting. Venusaur chuckles that the typing didn't stop him from defeating Houndoom. Houndoom closes his eyes and groans. A little help here would be nice, teammates.

"...All joking aside, thanks." Hilda warmly smiles, standing up. She slowly approaches Brendan, then wraps his arms around his neck. "I know why you did that."

Brendan's eyes slightly widen, causing Leaf to giggle. That being said, Leaf's sporting a warm smile of her own.

Hilda returns to her seat, with Brendan sitting down seconds later. She notices that their Pokémon are having a friendly chat.

"So, what's going on with that situation?" Brendan inquires. "If you don't mind telling us, that is."

"...I still don't understand how he can be scared of me." Hilda frowns, bowing her head. As her gaze rests on her black waistcoat, she tugs her arms. "I'd never do anything to hurt him...I love him as a best friend...it's always been unconditional." More than a friend, she loves him. Rosa and her remember that part about him, but does he remember it? Can that vee still occur?

"How long have you known him for?" Brendan asks, rubbing Hilda's right shoulder.

"Yeah, you've never told us that." Leaf folds her arms.

Hilda snaps back into focus. "Eight years, and he was one of my earliest clients." Her eyes prickle with happy tears, a nostalgic smile appearing on her face. "Even as the BW Agency grew, I kept him on as a client. We grew closer, plus I select based on who's the best fit for the client."

"How was he back then?" Brendan cocks a brow.

"One of the kindest people I've ever met."

"He definitely isn't a bad person." Leaf places her right thumb and index finger on her chin. "I wondered what happened to him."

"Please don't hold it against him," Hilda requests, her smile fading. "He's already going through a lot."

"We won't," Leaf and Brendan assure. "We promise."

Leaf decides that a topic change could help Hilda. "Remember when you first met Brendan, May, and I?" she inquires. "You met May and I after a contest in Lilycove City!" She broadly grins, sticking up her right index and ring fingers. "Hee hee, Venusaur and I won that contest!"

"I think you were in Hoenn for contests," Brendan chimes in. "Right?"

Hilda nods. "I suggested to Valen that he should try out being a coordinator.

"May and Lisia are big Steven fangirls, but she kept yapping about how contests would be a perfect fit for the guy." Brendan amusingly smirks. "They enjoyed his performances when he did enter contests."

"I also wanted the BW Agency to start hosting contests in Unova, Sinnoh, Johto and Calvana." She scratches the back of her head, sheepishly smiling. "This was before I realized how much it would cost, and I don't like to borrow money that much."

"You didn't realize it cuz you're a silly dummy." Leaf giggles, her Venusaur chuckling.

"Slateport City." Brendan laughs, his Houndoom cackling. He throws his hands up, teasing, "Aieeeeeeee, why does this keep happening to meeee?"

"H-Hey, d-don't roast me!" Hilda yelps, her Beartic laughing. She hides her face with her palms as Brendan, Leaf, and the trio of Pokémon continuing to tease her.

Valen saunters down his dark brown wooden staircase, which has got an arch pattern on both rails just under the roundish solid top of each felt good talking to Jacques again, but...the shame's still there...How can he call myself Hilda's friend after that?

Rage is burning up inside of him. He's mad at himself, but he'll keep it at bay for everybody's sake.

Once he's off the stairs, Valen briefly stares at the front door directly across from him. He turns to his left, then repeats it. He saunters down the hallway, walking past the living room.

Rosa's sitting on one of his snowy white sofas. She's having a video call with Hilda, Leaf, and Melanie, hearing that Hilda's calling from her hotel room, Melanie's calling from her house, and Leaf's calling from a quiet park. He sneaks away into his large dining room.

"Are you feeling better now, Hilda?" Melanie asks.

"Yeah, thanks." Hilda smiles. "Hanging out helped a lot."

"I had to do something," Leaf points out, bowing her head. "I still have to do something...but I dunno what."

"...It looks like you're still staying at Valen's place," Hilda comments. "How's he doing?"

"He's doing even worse," Rosa admits, a pained look plastered on her face. "He vomited out of guilt...he lashed out at himself a couple of times."

Hilda and Melanie look at each other, their mouths falling open. Somber expressions appear, their chins on their necks. The poor guy just can't catch a break these days.

"...He wants me to focus on my dreams, but I can't when he's suffering so much."

Rosa's able to keep herself composed by reminding herself that she's got to be happy and cheerful for everyone's sake. However, it may be too difficult for her in this case. She wasn't there to hug him. She wasn't there to kiss him. She wasn't there to caress him. She'll be the general who leads the fight against the deadliest of unseen enemies.

"Valen doesn't want you to be sad." Hilda gives Rosa an encouraging smile. "Nobody wants you to be sad."

"He's a nice person deep down!" Leaf sports a warm grin. "You have great friends too, so please cheer up!"

Rosa wipes away her tears, her frown turning into a sad smile. "Thanks."

As the chat goes silent, Hilda's trying to avoid crying herself. Her eyes slight widen when she feels her posture slumping. She tightens her fist, exerting as much force as she can to remain standing upright.

She feels a surge of determination within her. She furrows her brow, stating, "I'll shatter the rest of his shell." She's refused to let her positive and fun-loving attitude fade away. She can and will do something about this. Friends don't abandon each other.

"You can do it," Rosa encourages. "We know you can do it."

"Rosa, you need to go back to your usual self," Melanie encourages. "Do it for his sake, alright?"

"...You're right...we hate seeing each other sad." Rosa feels like a light switch was turned on within her. Her mouth curves into a broad smile.

Melanie decides to change the topic to lighten up the mood. She deviously smirks, asking, "So Hilda, have you ran into any good doors lately?"

"I gain ten extra points for not running into doors." Rosa folds her arms, tilting her head back.

"Hee hee, she once fell into the water in Cerulean City because I scared her with a story about Cerulean Cave!" Leaf giggles.

"You can run the BW Agency so well, but you can't avoid almost running into a tree!" Rosa giggles.

"Did she find a way to trip on the tree?" Melanie chuckles.

"Stop roasting me!" Hilda yelps, shielding her face with her palms.

"Y'all are stupid." Valen folds his arms, having snuck behind Rosa. He's got both hands in his pockets as usual and the sofa obscures the view.

Rosa turns her head towards Valen, while Hilda, Leaf, and Melanie stare at him. The latter three sport perplexed expressions, while Rosa's mouth hangs open as she points her right hand sideways under her chin and sticking her thumb out.

About a minute later, Leaf decides to break the silence. "Everybody must remember that capes are cooler than rocks!"

"Just ask Lance to design a cape for Steven that's got a rock pattern on it," Melanie suggests, her grinning mouth bearing her teeth.

"Good idea!"

"What." Valen's voice emits a deadpan tone.

No, he's not confused because of the rock deco on a cape comment. Why didn't she mention Steven Stone's marble sculptures? His eye-catching pieces reek of classical influence. He belongs in the same group with artists such as Donatello Bezio, Michelangelo Bellincioni, Gianluigi Bernini, and the sculptors from antiquity.

A slight peek at his phone causes Valen to realize that he's missed calls from a certain grumpy friend of his. "I need to make a phone call, so bye."

"I'll be looking forward to our next meeting, Val-Val!" Hilda cheers, folding her hands above her right shoulder.

Valen's eyes widen, his body shaking. "Hilda...why be friendly towards me?" He frets, his head beginning to thump.

Hilda frowns. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Valen doesn't respond, strolling down the hallway. He glances at Rosa, feeling that he did at least one thing right.

"Wait!" Hilda pleads. "Tell me what's going on!"

Valen halts, looking upwards into the staircase. "I ruined it." The nausea returns, his posture slumped. "I ruined our friendship."

With tears filling up her eyes, Hilda watches him walk into the staircase, the anguish on his face stinging her heart. Let her take the brunt of the pain so he doesn't have to.

Hilda takes a deep breath, her limbs feeling heavy.


Everybody looks at Hilda with a stunned expression.

"I told you that our friendship never ended!" she wails. "You didn't ruin anything, I promise!" She shuts her eyes, gritting her teeth. "You know how we feel about each other! I don't want to lose you!"

Valen feels a knot in his stomach, unsure of what to say. His head's now thumping less, and he's not panicking. Is he becoming less paranoid?

"...Val-Val?" Hilda slowly re-opens her eyes. "I'm sorry for-"

She spots the faintest of soft smiles on his face. She doesn't say anything else as he saunters upstairs.

Back in his room, Valen goes to sit on his bed. His headache went away, but he now feels light-headed and his gut beginning to ache. He's tempted to run towards the master bedroom's bathroom. He was an asshole to Melanie and Hilda. He even snapped at Rosa. As tears begin to drip from his eyes, he slouches on his bed.

Valen's face burns up, and he slams his phone onto the floor. "I'm such a fucking idiot!" He erupts, slamming his left fist into his pillow. "How do I approach Hilda after what I did to her?!" He clenches his teeth. "What the fuck's wrong with me?!" He hears his door creak open. That nauseous feeling returns, realizing that he had an outburst in front of his Pokémon. He watches Luxray enter the room, a pained expression plastered onto his face.

Luxray halts for a few seconds, then approaches his trainer. The feline wants to help, but he's unsure how. Then, Gardevoir appears seconds later via Teleport. Gardevoir gives Valen a peck on the top of his head, while Luxray decides to rub Valen's left arm with his front paws. Valen responds by petting Luxray's back and rubbing Gardevoir's head. Gardevoir sports a tender smile while Luxray purrs.

After several minutes, Valen dials the number. He faintly smiles at Luxray and Gardevoir, stating, "Thanks, you two."

Gardevoir and Luxray look at each other and nod. Believing that Valen's now okay, they decide to exit the room to give him some privacy.

"Live and learn." After a few minutes, somebody picks up the phone. "It's your boy, Valen."

"Took you long enough." Silver groans. "The plane landed over half an hour ago."

"Sorry, I had to run away from loonies...maybe loony isn't the most appropriate term for them.

"Prepare yourself for Kris, the biggest loony of them all." Silver jokes.

Valen blinks in confusion. "Wait, that Kris?"

"Yeah, that Kris," Silver replies. "Did you forget?"

"Uh...yeah...my memory's been foggy," Valen sheepishly answers. "So, is she your friend or-"

"She's my friend, but she annoyed the hell out of me today."

Valen faintly laughs, noting, "Yeah, you seem rather irate."

"She has literally spent the entire last hour trying to decide how many clothes and accessories she should buy while visiting Calvana," he grumbles. "I was trying to take a nap."

"Are you still inside the airport?" Valen asks. "I hear a lot of commotion in the background, plus I also just heard a loud flight announcement."

"Yep, because Queen Blabbermouth decided to check out as many shops as she can. I snuck away while she was in one of them. I should just leave the airport right now."

Valen manages to prevent his laugher from becoming louder, asking, "Silver, how long will you and your friend be staying in this region?"

"I don't know how long Kris will be staying here, but I'm permanently moving to your home region," Silver affirms. "I want to move far away from Johto and Kanto."

Valen's eyes slightly widen upon hearing this, as he thought Silver was just visiting. "R-Really?!"

"Valen, I've got more bad memories than good memories within Kanto and Johto."

Valen goes silent, unsure how to respond. Their familial backgrounds couldn't be any more different.

"Hey, wake up."

Valen snaps back into focus. "Sorry...how's Rui doing?"


"I'm glad to hear that." Valen feels a knot within his stomach. "Rui's so similar to Rosa...it's just not right...I thought Wes and I would become friends too."

"...I want to test my strength as a Pokémon Trainer within Calvana again," Silver states. "Will you accept my challenge?"

Valen takes a deep breath to calm his nerves. "You're gonna kick my ass, but I'll gladly accept your challenge."

"Finally, something that'll help me get away from that motormouth," Silver grumbles. "Speaking of which, Kris wants to check out this area within Angel City called Old Downtown. I'll guess I'll meet you there or something. Assuming that I don't run the hell away."

Valen faintly laughs, replying, "Sounds good to me. I'll see you soon."

"Are there any clothing or accessory stores in that area?"

"Yep." Valen pauses, the deviously smiles. "There's at least seven, plus various other shops and a bunch of restaurants."

"Shit, Queen Blabbermouth is going to spend at least half of the damn day in those places!" Silver's voice is abnormally loud. "Knowing my luck, there's a shop in Little Johto that sells shogun outfits!"

Valen's smiles evolves into a grin. "If I recall, one of them is a boutique that sells modern reproduction of Victoria era clothing." He glances towards the hallway, giving his snickering Gengar and cackling Gardevoir a thumbs up. "Oh, there's also a fashion accessory shop that just got bought by Elesa to expand her global retail empire, and-"

"I'm ditching Queen Blabbermouth as soon as possible!"

"And Little Johto has a shop that sells shogun outfits."

"Agh, no!" Silver shrieks. "Not that!"

Valen snickers. "You're welcome to chill with me." He exchanges a fist bump with Gengar and Gardevoir.

Silver sighs, replying, "I'll take you up on that offer as soon as possible."

As the video group chat continues. Hilda notices the glossy black box that Valen snuck next to Rosa before he strolled off. "Hey, it looks like Valen left you something before he went back upstairs."

Rosa cups the glossy back box in her left hand. Sophia Gucci's signature is the only name written on it. Slowly, she lifts up the hinged lid. She loudly gasps, her eyes widening as she scans the item.

"No way...there's no way...Valen remembered this?"

It's a dazzling diamond line necklace with a enchanting green emerald at the bottom. A coiled up Serperior is engraved on both sides of the emerald. The diamonds are finished in silver, a green square in the enter of each one. Each square houses a silver diamond.

Rosa's hands begins to tremble slightly—she can't believe that this is actually happening. She's wanted one for years, but she never imagined that she'd be able to own one of these. One example's now resting in the palm of her right hand. This rare piece of jewelry is hers, all hers.

Rosa eyes water up, a warmth of euphoria flowing within her like an ocean current. "I...he...he still remembered...he remembered something this specific about me." Her voice trembles, tears beginning to stream down her face. "He's…too…much."

Rosa squeals, her fists raised above her head. "Valen remembered!" She blushes, closing her eyes. "He remembered! He remembered! He remembered! He remembered!"

Leaf stares and blinks in confusion, "What exactly did Valen remember?"

"He remembered how much I really wanted this Serperior necklace!" Rosa begins jumping up and down in excitement. "It's a low production Art Deco style necklace designed by Elesa's sister, Sophia Gucci!" She shows the diamonds, pointing to the green squares. "This green is called Emerald City!"

"Hee hee, congrats!"

"Heeeeey, it's soooo pretty!" Hilda cheers, clasping her hands in front of her right shoulder. "I wish somebody would get me the Emboar one!" She's wanted that one for sometime.

Melanie stays quiet, sporting a bright smile. This is a big step in the right direction.

Hilda's unable to resist jumping up and down, the euphoria flowing through her becoming more intense. She sports a triumphant grin, screaming, "Val-Val never left!" She clasps her hands over her left shoulder again. "I didn't lose Val-Val! This just made my entire week!"

"Of course not!" Rosa cheers. "The real Valen's dormant! Super Rosa will bring him out!"

"Expert Trainer Hilda will join you!" Hilda announces, placing the tips of her left fingers against the bottom of her neck. "Nobody can't resist this duo of fiery Unovan women!"

"Tee-hee, we're sooooooo awesomeeeeeee!" Rosa twirls, raising her left fist towards the sky. "Don't forget our own goals and dreams! Rosa Force, rollout!"

"Imperial Hilda Empire, march!" Hilda clasps her hands above her left shoulder. She hums in a dramatic tone, like she's lurking and waiting to make people smile.

Rosa closes her eyes. "Every trainer's got a choice to listen to that voice inside," she says in a soft tone.

Hilda mimics Rosa. "I know the battle may be long," she adds. "Winners may've come and gone."

Rosa and Hilda re-open their eyes, which now gleam with joy. "We will carry on!" They point their right index fingers towards the sky. "Yeah, our dreams will last forever, our dreams will never die! We will rise to the challenge every time!" They wink with ther right eyes. "Our dreams keep us together! It shows that you and I will be the best that's the world's ever seen!" Rosa twirls and Hilda slightly jumps. "We'll always follow our dreams!" Rosa and Hilda attempt to high-five each other, both knocking their phones out of their hands.

"Oh nooooooo!" Rosa cries out, jumping backwards. "How could I forget that that this was a videooooo chaaaaat!"

"Aieeeeeeee!" Hilda yelps, losing her balance. "Why am I such a kluuuuuutz?!" She flails her arms like a Feebas, a thud echoing as the back of her feet slam into a box. She falls down on her back, crashing into the bed.

"Is it fall already?" Melanie playfully winks.

"Hee hee, what sillies you two are!" Leaf giggles.

"Don't talk to the queen like that," Rosa retorts, turning her head away.

"Be quiet." Hilda rolls her eyes, folding her arms. "I'm going to lay on this bed and brood like Silver."

"I heard the weather's cooler in the fall." Rosa's amused tone is slightly higher-pitched than normal. "Can you confirm, Hilda?"

"Don't fall for the confirmation trick." Leaf giggles, wagging both of her index fingers. "Maybe the trick's chances of working will fall alongside you."

"Melanie, back me up here!" Hilda yelps, hiding her face with her arms.

"No." Melanie chuckles, placing her right hand above her mouth. "I'm enjoying this."

She's got her phone out, texting Valen about what just happened. Yes, he responded with laughing emojis! She bends and raises her elbows, her fists tightened.

The inclusion of Silver and Kris was inspired by another Pokémon writer on A03 called Blossomleaf, who wrote a short story starring Silver, Kris, and Ethan titled Uncovering Truths and Motives. I'm certain that's where I got the inspiration from.
You already know who's inspired me to include Orre character mentions.
When I was adding the manga elements to Hilda's characterization, I didn't realize how on the nose I was in regards to White's character. When looking into the BW chapter, I saw a moment where white literally goes "kyaaaaa" over her musical idea being well received.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 17: Tenderness

t's late morning, and Valen's sitting down on one of his snowy white sofas. After putting on his black sneakers, he's about to get up. However, a grinning Rosa blocks him.

Her eyelashes flutter, her eyes gleaming with affection. She places her hands on her hips. "Uh uh uh, where do you think you're going, big boooy?"

"I'm gonna go meet up with an old friend of mine." Valen notices that Rosa's got her ice-blue and white shoes on. "What about you?" He gazes at the mustard yellow shoelaces.

"Me too!" Rosa rests her forehead on Valen's forehead. She places her right thumb on Valen's chin, while wagging her left index finger. "First, me and you need to have a little talk about your behavior." She flirts, sporting a provocative smile. "Tee-hee, I'm gonna grant you knighthood for the millionth billionth trillionth timeeee!"

Valen sees that Rosa's wearing the necklace he got her. He smiles, feeling proud of himself that he managed to make the already cheerful Rosa even more jovial.

"Thanks again!" Rosa wraps her arms around Valen's neck and kisses him on the lips multiple times. "Thank you sooooo much!"

Valen already knows that there's only one reason why she didn't pin him up against the sofa's headrest. "Come here, gimme a hug." He places his left hand on her back, bringing her as close as possible towards him.

"Tee-hee, you figured it out!" Rosa closes her eyes, soaking in the warm embrace of her beloved. "Yay, Rosa got hug!" She wraps her arms around the middle of Valen's waist. "You're the best, sweetie!"

"You're the best thing that's ever happened to me, ball of fluff."

"You need to tell me how you remembered this, big boooy." Rosa winks back, feeling the air around her getting warmer. "Hmmmmmmm?" Her eyelashes flutter, her smile becoming more seductive. "Does the queen have to force that info out of you?"

"Your boy still knows how to charm."

"Tee-hee, you're the master of charm and class!" Rosa places her hands on her cheeks.

Rosa startles Valen with a squeal so loud that Valen's Gardevoir uses Teleport to appear behind the sofa, wanting to see what's going on. Gardevoir folds her arms, her face sporting a menacing glare for a couple of seconds. Gardevoir's mouth curves into a warm smile, bursting out laughing over the wide-eyed expression plastered on her trainer's face. Valen's Gengar materializes from the ceiling, floating downwards as he laughs with Gardevoir.

It's a bustling early afternoon within Old Downtown. A scowling Silver broods to himself as he leans against the back of a chair within a outdoor seating area. There's too much talking and laughter going on around him, and he's not in the mood for that. Sitting across from where he's standing is Kris, who's drooling over the aroma of the noodles she's gotten for lunch. The round wooden table's got an umbrella sticking out within the middle, and has four seats. However, Kris has put three giant bags of items that she's bought on the other three seats, leaving Silver with no place to sit.

However, Kris has put three giant bags of items that she's bought on the other three seats, leaving Silver with no place to sit. If that wasn't bad enough, Silver almost had to order her lunch because she went on a pointless shopping spree. Why can't she gush about the Pokémon Center's clock tower again? He'd also be fine with her describing the bricks used for these buildings.

"Sooooo, you're waiting for a friend?" Kris asks Silver, snapping him out his train of thought. "Come on, tell meeeeeeeeeee!"

Silver decides to answer Kris so she doesn't recite fifty pages of drama towards him. "Yeah, what about you?"

"I'm also waiting for a few friends of my own!" Kris exclaims, drumming her feet on the ground. "This area is so cool!" She folds her palms in front of her chin. "Can you believe that so many of these building are sooo old?!"

Silver faintly smiles, breathing a sigh of relief. "It's nice to hear something that isn't fashion and shopping."

"One of the clothing stores I went to has been in operation since 1872!"

Sliver slaps his face with his right palm. "Dammit Kris, I just praised you." Why's it always him who's got to put with this? Why can't it be Ethan or Lyra for once?

"I even got to visit the Nimbasa Fashion megastore!" Kris gushes, placing her hands on her cheeks.

Silver fixates a unamused glare at Kris. "Kristýnka Tanaka, can you please shut up for five minutes?"

Kris giggles, her smile growing wider alongside Silver's scowl. "So, big tough Silver thinks he can use my Čech region origins against meeee?" She closes her eyes, her arms crossed. "You know you've got a soft spot for me."

Silver grunts, rapidly turning his head away. "Go to Ledwinka City and leave me alone." Please don't let anyone see his face reddening. "Or Prague City." No, don't redden! "Just get lost already, Queen Blabbermouth."

"Ha, the Scrooge of Johto thinks he can shoo me away so easily." Kris' sass-filled voice contrasts with Silver's annoyed grumbling. "I'm your friend, so you'll be coming to see both of those gorgeous cities with me."

Silver ignores Kris by glancing around him at the surrounding area, groaning upon realizing that multiple people are looking at them out of amusement. He keenly eyes all of the aged buildings with cone-shaped rooftops that dot both sides of the plaza walkway. Back in the Victorian era, he bets that Queen Blabbermouth would be seen as an ill mannered delinquent who torments ears wherever she goes.

Out of the corner of his eye, Silver notices Valen approaching him, causing the former to breathe a sigh of relief. Silver and Valen exchange a fist bump as the two of them start to stroll off.

"Bye bye, have fun with your friend!" Kris grins as she waves. "I'm gonna eat these yummy noodles while I wait for my friends!"

Valen glances behind him towards the blue-haired woman. Yep, it's that Kris. He's met her while donning his moniker, plus Gladion exposed how Silver really feels about her.

"There are times where Kris makes me want to find a Deoxys and ask it to take me to its home planet." Silver's mouth curves into a devious grin. "She was so focused on shopping that accidentally ordered the spiciest noodle dish."

Valen gives Silver a dumfounded expression. "Uh oh."

"Wait for it." Silver rubs his hands together, gleaming with deviltry. "Wait for it, wait for it-"

"Ow ow ow, hot hot hot hot hot hot hot hot hot hot!"

A red-faced Kris flails her arms around around like she's a Magikarp, accidentally drops hot sauce onto her short, white jacket and the crimson sweater underneath. "These noodles are too spicy! My mouth feels like I just turned into a Fire-type Pokémon! I'm a Grass/Fairy-type, not a Fire-type! Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

"The hot sauce's made from Tamato peppers, the spiciest peppers in the world." Silver explains to Valen, who's taken aback by the unusually wide and triumphant grin on Silver's face.

"Your crazy obsession with spicy food aside, how about we have the battle that you wanted?"

"Sure, but where exactly are we gonna battle around here?" Silver's gaze darts around the area.

"I already know of a place, so follow me," Valen answers. "There's an entrance to a public arena here."

Valen's brought Silver to the exact same arena where he reunited with Rosa in person. As he grabs one of the Poké Balls attached around his waist, Silver notes the extensive wear and tear that this reinforced, concrete arena's got. The aged buildings are in the near distance, and he can see the ocean from here.

"I only agreed to this because you're an old friend." Valen's smile is halfhearted as he retrieves a Poké Ball from inside of his black leather jacket. "I won't forfeit, but you're still gonna mop the floor with me."

"You need to work on your self deprecation issues."

"The odds are severely stacked against me." Valen shrugs. "Whatever, let's do this."

"...I'll use my Arcanine."

Silver presses the button on the Poké Ball to let his Fire-type Pokémon out. Arcanine lets out a booming growl, bearing his fangs to show that he's ready to fight.

"You're up."

Valen presses the button on his Poké Ball to let his Luxray out. Luxray hisses loudly, electricity crackling all around his body like lightning flashing in a stormy sky. However, the feline feels that something's wrong. All of Valen's Pokémon know about his habit of degrading himself, and Luxray feels that it's happening yet again.

"We'll start off with Extreme Speed."

A translucent crimson red aura envelopes Arcanine. He charges at Luxray so quickly that the feline only sees a blur. When Arcanine becomes visible again to Luxray, the former crashes into the latter, sending the feline hurling backwards

"Use Dragon Pulse."

A crimson red sphere made up of flames swirls inside of Arcanine's mouth. Arcanine launches the sphere, which instantly morphs into a dragon-shaped beam. The beam expands into a massive flaming dragon that looks like a combination of lava and molten rock, complete with wings, talons, and a tail. A screeching gust of wind causes both Valen and Silver's clothes and hair to ripple. Due to the close proximity, Luxray's got no time to evade or counterattack. The attack strikes the feline just below his head, sending him staggering backwards.

As Luxray pulls himself together, Valen notes that he's feeling different inside. He's going to lose, and yet he doesn't feel like giving up so easily anymore. Even more surprising is that he feels less distracted. Is it because Silver's his opponent? Is it because he's been battling more? Luxray glances behind him, sporting a wide smirk. He's glad that his trainer isn't backing down, despite his belief that this battle can't be won.

"Luxray, zap em with Thunderbolt."

Luxray's body is engulfed by a yellow. From the top of his head, he unleashes a powerful electric bolt towards Arcanine. The bolt of electricity zaps the canine in his face, and his body becomes enveloped like it's been surrounded by lightning. Once it's gone, Arcanine kneels halfway with his teeth clenched.

"Stay strong, Arcanine." Silver crosses his arms. "Use Flamethrower."

"Counter with Double Team."

Arcanine stomps his paws and howls. He fires off a crimson red stream of fire from his mouth towards Luxray. Luxray creates several copies of itself, the Flamethrower attacks striking one of the copies. Arcanine's mouth slightly gapes open as Luxray smirks in amusement. Since Arcanine's now in close proximity of his Luxray, Valen uses the opportunity to strike back.

"Use Night Slash and Thunder Fang."

Luxray charges towards Arcanine as both of his front claws glow purple. Luxray jumps up on his hind legs and slashes Arcanine under the lower jaw with both of his front claws, both strikes being aimed at Arcanine's beige fur. Luxray bears his fangs, which glow lightning yellow. He dashes and bites down on Arcanine's tail, causing the canine to yelp.


Once again, Luxray's body glows with a lightning yellow aura. He launches a powerful bolt towards Arcanine. The bolt strikes Arcanine in the beige fur that's under his lower jaw, and it envelopes the canine's entire body. Arcanine closes his eyes as he stumbles backwards, but is able to pull himself together. Arcanine fixates a stern glare at Luxray, letting out a booming howl. Then, Arcanine lets out a soft bark to compliment Luxray's strength. Luxray attempts to shrug it off like it's nothing, but he can't help but faintly smirk himself.


Once again, Arcanine fires a crimson red stream of fire from his mouth. This time, Luxray doesn't have time to counter. He's struck just under his jaw. He closes his eyes while attempting to maintain his footing.

"Let's see how you handle another Flamethrower."

For a third time, Arcanine fires a crimson red stream of fire. However, Valen and Luxray won't let this one hit.

"We'll handle it with Agility."

Luxray sharply opens his eyes, evading the stream by running around in circles. He so fast that he seems to disappear and reappear like a magician. Arcanine snarls, a scowl on his face as he tries to figure out what to do. He knows this leaves him wide open for an attack.

"Use Thunder, then follow it up with Night Slash."

An intense surge of electricity surrounds Luxray's body. As he evades any potential counterattack via Agility, Luxray launches a massive wave of electricity that quickly envelops Arcanine's entire body. Arcanine bends down, shutting his eyes as he yelps. As Arcanine attempts to pull himself together, Luxray lunges towards the canine, his front paws and claws glowing light-purple. Luxray jumps into the air and slashes the canine on the top of his head. Then, Luxray lands behind Arcanine, hissing as he bears his fangs.

"Use Thunderbolt."

For the third time, Luxray launches a bolt of electricity towards Arcanine. As the canine struggles to stand upright, Thunderbolt strikes him just under his lower jaw, quickly enveloping the Fire-type. Arcanine yelps, staggering from taking a trio of strong attacks.

"Focus." Silver fixates a stern gaze fixated on Arcanine. His gaze shifts towards Valen. "He's far from a pushover."

Arcanine's able to pull himself together and stand upright, letting out a prideful howl. In response, Luxray hisses that he's ready for whatever Arcanine throws at him.

Silver's mouth curves into a lopsided grin. "Alright, I'm gonna use it," he states. "Bulldoze."

Arcanine stomps all four of his feet onto the ground, a red aura of energy pulsating through the shaking ground. Luxray shuts his eyes, bending on all fours as he attempts to endure the attack.

"Now use Flare Blitz."

"Counter with Wild Charge."

Arcanine's enveloped by a crimson red fireball. He lets out a howl as he charges towards Luxray. At the same time, a hissing Luxray charges towards Arcanine. The feline's body being enveloped by yellow electricity that sounds like thunder's rumbling in the sky. His body becomes obscured by the thick bolts surrounding him.

Both Pokémon brutally ram into each other, making it look like dynamite's just gone off at the center of the battle area. As the smoke clears out, Arcanine's surrounded by flames and surrounded by electrical shocks, both taking recoil damage at the same time. Luxray nearly falls down, staggering with his eyes closed. Arcanine's staggering backwards as well, the canine realizing that Luxray's more powerful than he remembers. However, Luxray's more worn out than he is.

"Finish this with Fire Blast."

Arcanine manages to stand upright on all fours. He fires off a powerful surge of crimson red flames that take the shape of the kanji for fire. As the Fire Blast attack approaches his Luxray, Valen seems content with this loss, sporting a warm and approving smile. He's not even beating himself up like he did when his Typhlosion lost to Dimitri's Haxorus. He lost with grace this time.

The feline sense that Valen's proud, and that's more than good enough for him. He smirks as he takes the Fire Blast attack to the face, toppling to the ground in defeat seconds later. Maybe one day, his trainer will realize that he's not the weak human that he thinks he is.

Silver recalls his Arcanine, re-attaching the ball to his waist. At least his friend's not degrading himself, he thinks as he watches Luxray being re-called. He's still got a long road ahead of him, but Silver will never forget that Valen was among the first who didn't judge him. Valen was among the first to call him a friend. Having friends like him around changed him for the better.

A half hour's passed, and both Silver and Valen are currently standing near the arena's opening. Both have their arms folded as they lean against the wall. Neither really knows what to do right now. They talked about battling, about Silver's abnormally high spicy food tolerance, and about Valen's knowledge of classical art.

"There was supposed to be more than just the two of us, but only you showed up." Silver rolls his eyes, his upper lip curling. "Guess the posh guy was buying a fountain or something."

"Posh guy?"

"Name's Arthur," he answers. "We bonded over our love for the epics of the Kasmenestias region, plus antiquity in general ."

"Arthur...wait a minute, Arthur Bennington?" Valen wonders how Silver knows Arthur, and how Arthur deals with the main reason Silver vibes with Homeric virtues.

"Yeah, that guy." Silver raises his left eyebrow. "You've met him?"

"Kinda." Valen scratches the top of his head. "Haven't really gotten to know him super well."

Silver slowly blinks. "Huh...you still struggle with deeper friendships with guys?"

"Dunno if that's the case here," Valen admits, folding his arms. "Not that I never tried, otherwise we wouldn't be talking right now."

"Must've been hard," Silver comments. "Not having your interests match up."

"What can I say?" Valen shrugs. "Boys or girls, my interests didn't match up."

"Refresh my memory."

Valen watches the clouds float like a ship on the high seas. "I never actively sought out female friends over male friends, but perhaps a big factor was that most of my deepest friendships are with women," he responds. "Girls seemed to take more of an interest in me, but both boys and girls tried to help me out...which I still appreciate."

"...At least you had a better childhood that I did." Silver sighs. "You've got good parents...got both of them around too."

"Gladion and Lillie didn't have it easy either," Valen laments. "They've got a psychotic mom and a missing dad." He felt bad for them, so he asked his aunt and uncle in Alola to take them in. They've since become Gladion and Lillie's adoptive parents.

"...You're a soft ass," Silver teases, hoping to cheer him up. He wraps his left arm around Valen, letting go a few seconds later.

"At least I can hug people." Valen faintly laughs. "The hell was that supposed to be?"

"Shut up, I tried." Silver folds his arms, briefly flashing a smirk. "I've got one more thing to say." he glances at the sky again. "I heard what went down between you and Hilda."

Valen's smile vanishes, a frown taking its place. "I screwed up." He bows his head, feeling a knot in his stomach. "I don't understand how...how could I become paranoid of Hilda?"

"You're right—Kris forgave me," Silver points out, his gaze moving downwards and towards Valen. "As for you, I believe Hilda will-" He closes his eyes, his mouth curving into a smile. "I bet she's already forgiven you."

Valen perks up, his eyes widening. "Really?" He faintly whimpers. "I'm not...I'm not unforgivable?"

"I did worse, and I was forgiven," Silver points out, re-opening his eyes. "You were never as bad as me."

"...Heh." Valen chuckles, nudging Silver's left shoulder with his right fist. "Who's the soft ass now, you professional brooder?"

" I told you to shut up." Silver nudges Valen's right shoulder with his left fist.

Silver looks forward to seeing Rui again, and Valen's no different. Maybe these clouds will allow sunlight back into her life too.

"By the way, do you still want every generation of the Cheveron Corvette?"

"Hell yeah I do."

He's about to say something else, but then he hears Kris' voice getting louder. He scowls, smacking his face with his left palm.

Whatever's left of Valen's somberness immediately evaporates upon hearing Rosa's voice. "Things just got ten times better."

He's about to say something else, but then he hears Kris' voice getting louder. He scowls, smacking his face with his left palm.

Whatever's left of Valen's somberness immediately evaporates upon hearing Rosa's voice. "Things just got ten times better."

"Things also just got ten times worse because Queen Blabbermouth is here."

"You'll never escape me, The Scrooge of Johto!" Kris shouts. "Never!" She puts her three shopping bags down, folding her arms afterwards. "Rosa, back me up here!"

"Tee-hee, I can't-" Rosa happy gasps when she spots him. "Hiiiii, Valey!" She rapidly waves, giggling when he waves back. "Woo-hoo!"

Yep, there's ball of fluff being a fall of bluff. No matter what, Valen's day is brightened by her presence alone. He gestures for Rosa to come here with his right hand. Ball of fluff can give him all she's got. He can more than take it and dish it.

"Grrr, feel Rosa's power!" She happily dashes towards Valen, roaring like she's a female Pyroar.

"Valen used Counter." Valen wraps his left arm around Rosa's waist. "What's my adorable cinnamon bun doing here?" He gives Rosa a noogie with his right hand.

"I love this so much!" Rosa tears up with laughter. "You were going to see Silver and I was going to see Kris!"

Even Silver can't help but smile over the interaction between these two old friends of his. He glances towards Kris, breathing a sigh of relief when he realizes that she's keenly focusing on Valen and Rosa.

"Hi, big guy," Melanie calls out to Valen, causing both Silver and him to look in her direction.

"Oh hey, I wasn't expecting you." Valen stops his merciless noogie session.

"I wasn't going to be here, but they wanted to meet their friend," she explains. "I've hung out with them, and it's been fun."

Silver abruptly walks in front of Valen, exchanging a high five with her. He shrugs, watching Kris greet two more friends with a bright smile and wave.

Wait a minute, that black waistcoat! The boots, those denim shorts, that entire outfit is...no...there's no way. There's no way! There's no way this is happening!

"Heeeey, everybody!" Hilda waves, her grin wide. "Val-Val, I hope you're feeling better!" Her Umbreon's next to her, letting out a faint cry to greet the other humans.

Valen's eyes widen, his head beginning to thump and his legs restless. Why is this happening?! Why's she still being friendly towards him after what he did?!

"I told you, didn't I?" Hilda inches closer to him, warmth infusing the air around them. "It never ended."

Valen takes a hard deep breath, his gaze drifting towards Hilda. He can feel his paranoia trying to seep out, but he's going to try to fight back this time.

Suddenly, Leaf dashes next to Hilda's right side. She waves, her Espeon letting out a faint cry to greet everybody.

"Nice to see her again," Valen murmurs.

Kris decides that it's time for fashion talk, which Silver delayed due to his antic. She eyes Melanie's blue jean jacket, blue jeans, and her crimson red shirt. "I forgot to tell you that you rock Valerie Versace clothes well!" She eyes Melanie's elbow length, black hair. "Your hair's really pretty and well kept as well!"

"Thank you," Melanie replies, closing her eyes. She smiles, running her left hand through her hair.

Silver smacks his face with the palm of his right hand. "Oh no, not this crap again."

Kris eyes Rosa's necklace, her eyes sparkling. She remembers how much Rosa gushed about it over the phone. "How come I didn't notice it sooner?!" She squeals. "That necklace is sooooo much prettier in person! It looks soooo good on you!"

"Tee-hee, I still can't believe I have one!" Rosa shows Kris the Serperior engravings on the emerald. "Valey remembered how much I wanted this!"

Kris assesses Rosa's white and ice blue top, having been a fan of it since day one. Next up is her frilly mustard yellow shoes and her black leggings. Yep, her favorite outfit also still looks good on her! She rapidly spins towards Hilda and Leaf, eyeing Hilda's black waistcoat, white top, and denim shorts. She also eyes Leaf's light blue top and pinkish-red skirt. She also takes a closer look at Valen's black leather jacket, black shirt, and black leather pants. Ooooh, this guy looks all mysterious! He rocks Guzmani well too!

One by one, Kris points a finger at the others. "Silver, look at them, then look at you!" She places her fists on her hips. "You need to listen to me about fashion!"

"I don't listen to people who act like the fusion of an annoying yodeling hiker, a deafening opera singer, and a loony fashion freak," Silver retorts, causing everybody but Valen and Kris to laugh.

Kris's face has become as red as the infamous Red Gyarados. The normally happy girl's now hurling a barrage of borderline undecipherable obscenities towards a smug Silver like she's a drunken sailor.

"With that said, I'm sorry about what I did." Silver briefly closes his eyes. "I'll pay for new clothes if need be."

Kris suddenly goes quiet, looking at Silver with a perplexed expression. "...Don't worry, it'll come off." She sheepishly grins. "It's not your fault, it's mine."

"I didn't feel like warning you because you annoyed me."

"As if you're any better, Scrooge of Johto."

Kris turns her attention towards Rosa and the others, missing the loving smile that flashes for a brief moment. They're just friends, nobody should think otherwise.

"Yo, any word from The Master of The Brooding Arts?"

Valen's works save Silver from the absolutely horrendous possibility that someone may learn about that. "Gladion was justifiably whining about having to go to the Nimbasa Fashion store in Alola with his sister and your aunt."

"How much you wanna bet he's gonna have his brooding music on max volume the next time you call him?" Valen wonders if Silver's hiding a roast session from him.

"My damn ears are still ringing from those loud ass speakers he got," Silver comments, smacking himself above his left ear. "He's got a rock music playlist when he's edgy and/or brooding, and he's got a rap music playlist when he's annoyed and/or angry."

Valen rapidly blinks. "Wait, that sounds like it's just normal Gladion, so-"

"Like I said, my ears are still ringing." Silver taps his right ear. "I put the phone to this ear, so it's heard rap songs by some guy named Hau many times."

While everyone else chats and messes around, Silver ponders about Gladion and Lillie. He recalls their shocked expressions when it was explained that Faba joined the Aether Foundation on behalf of the Alolan Mafia, likely for the trafficking of Alolan forms. This revelation came a month after the Alolan Island Police, the Alolan Coast Guard, and an army of Pokémon ranging from Gyarados to Garchomp stormed the artificial island. Lusamine was their main target, Faba having already fled by this point.

While Silver's deep in thought, Hilda bends down to pet Umbreon. "It's time."

Umbreon lets out an affectionate cry, rubbing her against Hilda's left leg. The black quadruped nods, encouraging her trainer with another cry. It's time for her trainer to shatter a certain someone's shell wide open. Hilda and her Umbreon walk closer to Valen, the former thinking about how she's going to use Fissure on that shell. Umbreon darts ahead of her trainer, causing Valen to blink. His mouth falls open when Umbreon rubs herself up against his left leg.

Hilda clasps her hands behind her back. "Valen...I'm sorry." She feels a quiver within her. "I'm sorry for calling you an asshole." All the good times she's had with him proves that he's anything but an asshole to her.

Umbreon walks back towards her trainer, nodding in encouragement. Leaf's Espeon tilts her head leftwards, wondering what this is about.

"I've...we've already forgiven you." Hilda's eyes gleam with a gentle vibe.

"Why...why forgive me?" Valen rest his chin on his upper chest. "I don't-"

Hilda swallows, sporting a frown. "I don't have the heart to hold it against you...so much pain...plus our own history together."

"...I still don't deserve to be treated kindly by you." Valen breaks eye contact with Hilda, glancing at the lower portion of her black waistcoat and the white tank top underneath. "It was all a farce-"

"I don't care about that," Hilda interjects, tenderly smiling. "I care about your well-being." Hilda walks closer to Valen. "There's more that I've got to tell you."

Hilda's Umbreon backs away from Valen, sporting a proud smile. Her trainer's determined to get her friend back. She's always been a determined human.

As for Valen, he isn't sure what to make of this. Hilda's standing inches away from him, but something's different. He's anxious, but he's not freaking out. He was able to focus his battle against Silver. Did his rough reunion with Hilda have a silver lining?

"Thank you for always being so kind and sweet towards Rosa...and towards me." Hilda rubs Valen's left shoulder. "You're far from a bad person, no matter how you present yourself." Her blue eyes meet his dark blue eyes, emitting a compassionate gaze. "You have a big heart."

As he looks into the eyes of his agent, manager, and friend, Valen's headache is beginning to cease. He can still feel his head thumping, but there's something about that gaze that's pushing back against his fears. Those eyes, he's beginning to vividly remember those eyes. There was no reason to be shocked that day. That gentle gaze's genuine. Those eyes still emit Hilda's unconditional love for him.

"You were forgiven on the same day," Hilda assures, feeling her heart drumming as she places her left hand on it. "I won't throw away eight years of friendship, not when you're still the same person deep down." Her heart really wants to break loose and throw her true feelings at the guy, but that's on him for always being a sweetheart towards her.

Valen's eyes slowly moisten up, her voice ringing through his mind. Her eye gleam so brightly that Valen feels like he just got hit with Dazzling Gleam. Wait, that warmth, that tranquility! Hilda just wrapped her arms around his neck! This can't be, this can't be real!

He's actually feeling at ease. Somebody else besides Rosa, Melanie, his Pokémon, and family members actually made him feel calm and comfort. No, it's more than that. It's a familiar feeling. The warm sensation of Hilda's arms around his neck isn't foreign to him. It's like this sensation is a expression of her unconditional love, something he thought he had lost. Something that he thought would never return. He places his left hand on Hilda's back, running his right hand through her dark brown hair. It wouldn't feel right not to—their rough reunion wasn't enough to prevent Hilda from showing him affection.

"I can tell that this is very difficult for you," Hilda whispers into his right ear. "I'm so sorry that you've endured so much pain."

"...You hugged me." He whimpers, tears streaming down his face. "You...me...Silver was...right." His limbs tingle with warmth, the tension within his body fleeing faster and faster.

"Friends care for each other," Hilda affirms. "I love you." She rubs his shoulders. "You waited for Rosa out of respect for her own issues, and you helped her out," she reminds him. "That was really sweet of you."

"Even so...do I really deserve it?" He glances downwards, his voice dull. "Do I really deserve your-"

"You more than deserve it," Hilda interjects, gently rubbing his right cheek. "You were the sweetest thing to me from the start."

"Hilda, if you want to give Valen one, you can." Rosa softly smiles. "He deserves the best from us...he always made sure that we knew how much he appreciates us."

"...What-" Valen cuts himself off when Hilda kisses him on the top right side of his head.

"I'll be waiting for you, Val-Val." Hilda tenderly smiles, letting go of Valen and vice versa.

Valen's eyes widen immensely, his pulse and heartbeat rapidly increasing. Again, she called him Val-Val again. He trembles as his tears increase—he can't believe that he was wrong yet again. He observes Hilda's Umbreon strolls back towards her trainer, both of them giving the other an adoring smile. They proceed walk closer to Melanie and Rosa, exchanging high-fives with each other.

Leaf and her Espeon turn their head toward each other. Espeon nods her head, sporting an encouraging smile. Leaf turns her towards Valen, exclaiming, "Hey Valen, thank you for being so sweet to Rosa!"

Then, Valen feels Leaf's Espeon rubbing herself up against his left leg. His mouth falls open, unable to believe what's going on. He's known Hilda's Pokémon for years, but he barely knows Leaf, let alone her Pokémon. Even more shocking for him is that he's being shown seemingly unconditional kindness, on top of forgiveness. He watches Espeon backing away from him, exchanging a smile with Hilda's Umbreon.

"You're not a bad person," Leaf states, her eyes emitting a gentle gaze. "If you're good in their book, you're good in my book."

Before Valen can respond, Kris decides to join Hilda and Leaf. "Thanks for being such a gentleman towards Rosa and Hilda! Oh, and Skyla and Serena too!" She happily closes her eyes. "Nearly everybody in the circle knows your name, but most don't know your face!"

By this point, Valen's muscles have frozen. He shuts his eyes, clenching his jaw as he hyperventilates. He feels light-headed, he doesn't understand this! He doesn't understand any of this! He doesn't know what to do! He takes deep breaths to calm himself down. He places his hands in his pockets and starts to saunter away. It's better he goes home sooner rather than later.

Wait, not yet. He can't leave without doing something important first, but should he do it? Upon seeing Rosa nod, Valen saunters back towards Hilda. He kisses Hilda on the top of her head, causing her face to slightly redden. He's beginning to remember the conversations he had with Rosa and Hilda. More than friends, he wanted to be more than friends with both Rosa and Hilda.

"Val-Val-" Hilda's still hurting over what's happened to him, but she can't help but smile. "Besties forever?"

"From now until the end of time." Valen kisses her on the forehead, causing her face to redden even more. "In due time." He winks, then he turns around, resuming his saunter out of the arena.

Hilda closes her eyes, placing her hand over her heart. All she did was show him the kindness he's showed her for the last eight years, but it worked.

While the others ponder about this situation, Hilda's Umbreon and Leaf's Espeon look around, both sporting concerned expressions. Umbreon rubs herself up against Hilda's right leg in an attempt to cheer her up. Both smile when they sees Leaf and her Espeon getting closer.

Leaf places her left hand on Hilda's left shoulder, giving her friend a soft smile. "You've got a caring heart."

"...Thanks, Leaf." Hilda wipes away her tears. She turns towards Rosa, who's looking at her with a concerned expression. "Don't just stand there-go make sure Val-Val's okay."

"Sorry...zoned out a bit." Rosa waves goodbye towards everyone, running out of the arena.

As Rosa runs out of right, Hilda takes a deep breath to calm herself down. "I'm suspending operations for a bit."

"Are you sure about this?" Melanie notes Hilda's stooped posture.

"It's true that my main reason for coming here is the BW Agency, plus I have my own goal as a trainer." Hilda stares at her black waistcoat, letting out a pained sigh. "However, there's someone precious to me who's suffering." Even though she was his agent, he treated her like a good friend from the start.

"Valen struggled to fit in, but he was a social person," Melanie adds. "He told me that while he can't make the world make a better place, he can make somebody's world a happier place."

"I felt that firsthand...Val-Val was a sweetheart."

"I never imagined that we'd both have a similar struggle, cuz our parents couldn't be any more different." Silver crosses his arms. "Small world, huh?"

"I love being a people person," Hilda affirms, starting at her waistcoat again. "However, it can be difficult to be viewed as yourself when you're the daughter of a former champion and an actress, plus they considered me a prodigy of the industry and as a trainer." Valen led the encouragement, she became more of a trainer after that. Three league wins, a PWT win, her successes as a trainer couldn't have happened without the great people around her.

The group goes silent, while the sounds of footsteps and chatter outside echo within the arena. Various aromas of food such as pizza and chocolate find their way into the arena, but nobody's feeling the desire to have a snack.

As he saunters, Valen glances at all of the people going about they day, both within and outside of the historic buildings. A group of women are laughing as one tells a joke, a couple holds hands as they stroll past him, and a man's seated at a round table as he tends to his Stoutland. There's a lot of joy going around, and he's feeling it too. He's been feeling happier lately himself. This is good, this is very good. Embracing his real self will make him a stronger person.

Perhaps most importantly, the road's finally open. Valen can see the bridge that leads to a happier future. He can see the sunlight knows as friendship, he can feel soothing breeze of love, and he can hear the vehicles that will drive him towards his desire.

"Hilda still calls me Val-Val...we never stopped being friends...not at all." Valen faintly smiles, shedding tears. "Melanie, Rosa, Hilda...they kept their word." New sadness cannot be created and happiness cannot be destroyed within the vicinity of Rosa and/or Hilda. He calls this The Law of Crazy Wholesome Minds.

"Valen!" Rosa calls out. "Wait up!"

Valen halts, glancing behind him towards Rosa as the latter catches up to him.

Rosa pants, her hands resting on her knees. "Why'd you take off like that?"

"...I didn't know how to respond."

Rosa counters his vacant gaze with a loving gaze, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Valey, Hilda will never leave a friend's side." She kisses Valen on lips, letting go of him afterwards.

Valen smirks, folding his arms. "Leave it to her to try and re-friend an asshole."

"The real Valen's anything but an asshole." Rosa feels that Valen's still hesitant, but she believes that he'll come around eventually.

Valen goes silent, thinking about Rosa and Hilda. Much like his ball of fluff, how can anyone not like Hilda? She's lively, she's got a big heart, she can get big jobs done, she's a badass who tamed a Garchomp, and so on.

"It's your turn to hug!" Rosa's bubbly voice snaps Valen back into focus.

"Good timing." Valen gives Rosa a warm smile. He wraps his right arm around her waist, pulling her as close to himself as possible. "Your hugs are still addicting, but keep that between us."

Rosa wraps her arms around his neck. "Don't worry, nobody will know!"

Valen and Rosa let go of each other, with Rosa bopping him on the forehead.

"Come walk with me." Valen's gaze darts around at the aged buildings. "Let's hang out for a bit before we go back home."

"Kaaaaay!" Rosa giggles, still holding hands with Valen. She notices that he's studying the architecture of the area to avoid showing his blushing face. "Tee-hee, Valey's being mysterious again!"

"Soooo, best girl...um...you wanna move in with me?" He wants to poke two fingers together, but he also doesn't want to let go of Rosa's hand.

"Oooooh, big boy wants Rosa all to himself!" She giggles, bopping his forehead.

"...Why don't I take you out for a bite to eat too?" Valen asks. "There's a place that serves authentic Unovan pizza within-"

"I think I passed that place on the way to the arena!" Rosa's eyes glitter. "Let's gooooooo!"

"Today's lunch is on your boy," Valen informs, giving her a thumbs up. "Dinner too."

"Awwww, you don't have to do that, Valen!" Rosa adoringly grins, pointing to the necklace she's wearing. "You've already spoiled me with this amazing gift!"

"I'm getting hungry." Valen rubs his stomach, hearing a faint growl.

"Kaaaay, I'll let you win this time!" Rosa darts ahead, attempting to drag Valen through a crowd of surprised onlookers via his right hand. "Come on, make it easier for me to pull you!"

Valen's eyes widen, his mouth hanging open. "I said walking, not running!" His face reddens as he tries to pull back, but is unsuccessful. "Your adorableness is preventing me from escaping!"

Rosa halts and lets go of Valen's hand. She twirls to face Valen, who's breathing a sigh of relief. "Oh?" She wags her right index finger, teasing, "I know you can keep up." she winks. "Big booooy."

"Of course I can, but you're a kook." Valen smiles again, patting Rosa's head. "It's losing it's grip," he tells her. "Facing Hilda like that loosened the grip."

Rosa's delighted to hear that, but she needs to have another heart-to-heart with him within the next few days. She expects to be left heartbroken, but she's not backing down. Neither of them are weak, neither of them will go down so easily.

Silver and Kris are in their early twenties.

Any thoughts about Hilda in this chapter? I really like how the interactions between Hilda and Valen turned out. One of the biggest revisions for the whole fic overall was expanding their relationship.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 18: No More Tears

Rosa slowly approaches Valen's room, wondering if he's okay. Ever since Hilda moved him to tears two days ago, he's been sitting in bed more than he should. However, she'll address that later. Her eyes follow the pearly white ornate patters that contrast the black walls. She takes a deep breath as she reaches for the doorknob. The black wooden door creaks as she opens it, catching Valen's attention.

"Hi sweetie, can I come in?" Rosa asks in a whispery tone.

"Of course, you don't need to ask," Valen replies, softly smiling. "Eventually, this is going to be your room too." He gestures for her to come closer.

As she enters the room, she notices that Valen's reading a book, the cover finished with a photo of highly ornante cabinets. "I see that you're reading your book on Art Nouveau."

She places her phone on the Art Nouveau walnut table, eyeing the furniture's Yanmega-shaped legs. She also notices the Art Deco book laying on the circular surface. Both are by his grandpa, a recognized authority on Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau and Art Deco since the late 1960s. She fidgets with her hands as she eyes the second's book cover. It's got a painting of Kyogre, Groudon, and Rayquaza on it.

Valen's smile vanishes, sensing something's up. "You wanna talk about what's on your mind?"

Rosa does a hard swallow, words unable to come out for a few seconds. "...I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about what happened."

Valen's eyes widen, unsure what to make of this. "Rosa...really?" He closes his book and places it on the round table. He feels a knot in his stomach, his head beginning to thump.

"...Sweetie?" Rosa's mouth falls open, staring at Valen with concern.

Valen rocks back and forth. "...I just don't want to be a burden to others...I think it's actually myself that I distrust." He'd rather keep it to himself than to see her cry.

Rosa slowly walks towards Valen, her body shaky but her fists are clenched. She takes a seat on the edge of his bed, sporting a somber smile. She kisses him on the lips while grasping his right hand with a tender touch. She fixates a loving gaze at him, using her left hand to caress his right check.

Time has stopped, time always seems to stop when he feels Rosa's love for him. It's a tingling sense of warmth that cleanses him of tension and fear. It's like he can hear and feel her affection and care from her lullaby-like tone alone. She's always been the nurturing type, even before his rough patch.

Valen's Gardevoir teleports into the room, immediately giving Valen a peck to his left cheek. She's always reprised her role of being a motherly big sis towards her trainer and teammates. She won't stop because he's got more people in his life now.

Despite his reluctance, Valen decides that if he's going to get better, he has to learn to speak about his issues. "It was a Shadow Blaziken that wounded me," he confesses. "Hit me in my leg with a brutal punch." He rolls up his right pant sleeve, showing her the faint remnants of a scar. "This wound changed everything, but I don't blame the Pokémon."

Tears try to escape Rosa's eyes, she fights back her tears for his sake. "I need you to keep going," Rosa says, her eyes meeting Valen's eyes. "Don't worry, sweetie," she whispers. "As long as I have you by my side, I'll be okay."

Valen's body feels even lighter when Gardevoir begins humming a lullaby into his left ear. It's the same lullaby his mother hummed to him as a kid, and it always calmed him down.

"Please keep going, Valen."

"Wes caught the Blaziken and purified it," he continues. "I'd already forgiven it, it accepted my fist bump." Wes and Rui, two good friends of his that broke up with each other right in front of his eyes. "Another big factor was that fallout."

"…I-" Rosa rocks her legs back and forth. "I wish I came to Orre with you…I wish I could've helped them." She hasn't met Wes, but that's moot.

"You were in Blackthorn City for a painting commission, and I was in Phenac City for an art history conference," he reminds her. "Cipher causing problems again was not something we had anticipated." He rubs her left cheek. "I'm getting better."

Rosa feels the tension starting to leave, a smile debouching. "Clair's Dragon Dojo was an interesting commission." She closes her eyes. "She dared me to paint in three different styles, but she tried to play smart when I mentioned fresco and tempera." She should try that again—painting like medieval and Renaissance artists was loads of him.

"Oil was the third one, I presume?" His ball of fluff's a rebellious painter. She broke from modern art, much like how modern art broke from tradition.

"You got it." Rosa smirks, tilting her head back. He doesn't need to say that he's proud, his face says it all.

Valen loves how unorthodox of a painter she can be—she still uses Lorenzo Cennini's The Handbook of the Crafter, a fifteenth century publication, as a painting guide. Fresco, tempera, ink, oil, she's up for anything and everything.

"Melanie and Hilda will be here within an hour or two," she tells him. "They asked me if they come over. I hope that's okay with you."

"I don't mind." Valen and Gardevoir exchange a fist-bump, with Rosa joining in too. "That's my girl, applies to both of you."

He grabs both of the books, flipping open the Art Nouveau one. Rosa hops into the bed and wraps her arms around his neck. She rests her head on Valen's upper chest. She flips to the next page so Valen can keep his arm around her. The Johtoian influence within Art Nouveau has always been a neat little historical tidbit to them. Art, reading, and cuddling, their time-honored tradition.

"Say, you're okay with Hilda coming, right?" Rosa inquires. "Sorry, but I know that paranoia and anxiety won't vanish just like that."

Valen glances up at the celling. "I can still feel my mind veering in all directions," he admits. "The paranoia and anxiety wants to ruin my life even more." He furrows his brow, his eyes gleaming with determination. "With that said, I won't let it control me anymore."

"I know you can do it, sweetie."

Gardevoir watches them conserve with a proud smile. As she leans back against the wall, she's certain that they'll be be triumphant over their unseen foe.

Melanie and Hilda wait for Valen and Rosa to come outside. Melanie feels a little bit worried, while Hilda feels a little bit nervous. A breeze causes Melanie's blue jean jacket and Hilda's black waistcoat to ripple. Melanie's long black hair and Hilda's dark brown hair also ripple. As various bird Pokémon chirp above them, Melanie glances above at the cloudy skies. Little sunlight can pass through, just like how little hope couldn't pass through his mind.

Hilda's on the phone with the BW Agency back in Unova, discussing the current state of affairs. She's such a good friend, Melanie muses. She's willing to put aside her own goals to help somebody in need. Rosa and Hilda have such pure hearts, always wanting everybody to smile and have fun. She hears Hilda zipping up her red crossbody bag, but why is she staring at the house? Her eyes have a somber look, her gaze one of longing, but what's got her like this? He's had it rough, but there's more to this than meets the eye. it her true feelings for him?

Hilda tugs at her arms, feeling a shiver. "It wasn't his behavior that hurt me." she winces. "It was...learning...that he was afraid of me."

Melanie frowns, responding, "I don't get it either."

"It...it still hurts." Hilda wipes away her tears before they can stream down her face. "Why...I'd never hurt him...ever...why was he afraid of me?" Hilda's face softens, the tension easing up. "At least I got through to him."

"Thank you for that." Melanie gently rubs Hilda's left shoulder.

"...I think...I could...I should live in this neighborhood." Hilda's voice quavers, her legs feeling weak. She glances down at her black waistcoat, tugging her arms. "I dunno...something tells me that I should at least consider it." Should she say it so soon, or should she wait? Melanie may already know why to begin with

"I understand." Melanie inches closer, her playful smile lighting up her face. "Do you still have those feelings for him?"

Hilda faintly blushes, her eyes slightly widening. "Uh...well...um...I-"

Why did she have to ask that?! Val-Val's not just a sweetheart, he's also good-looking! He's cute, he's funny, he's a good cook, the list goes on!

Both Melanie and Hilda hear the front door opening, causing Hilda to breath a sigh of relief. They watch as Valen and Rosa step outside the house, the front steps creaking as the two of them stroll down. Without hesitation, Melanie walks over to Valen, sporting a gentle smile. No words are needed as she wraps her arms around Valen's neck. It's about time she gave him another warm embrace.

"To what do I owe the honor, boss lady?" Valen places his left hand on Melanie's back, running his right hand through her long black hair.

"Shut your mouth and let me show you some affection, you colossal doofus," Melanie playfully counters, her voice emitting a soothing tone. "After what I saw, you needed another hug from me too."

"That's such a mind blowing revelation that will shake the scientific world to its core," Valen teases. "You're such a genius for figuring it out, Detective Ding Dong."

"I said shut your mouth," Melanie counters, playfully flicking Valen on the back of his head.

"Thanks, Melanie," Valen says with a warm smile. "I still need to repay you for taking the time to look for me, so I'll start with this. Valen kisses Melanie on the top of her head. "I was the one who started this level of affection, so I've gotta continue it."

"You better," Melanie teases, wanting to let herself go limp. Affection from her platonic life partner's way better than any spa massage.

Melanie and Valen let go of each other, both sporting a gentle smile. Valen and Melanie exchange a fist bump, the he approaches Hilda. He wraps his right arm around Hilda's waist. e pulls her closer, resting his chin on the top of her head.

Hilda's at a complete loss for words, a relaxing feeling flowing within her. Nothing else matters right now, all she wants is to for him to hold her. She kisses him on the forehead, tittering at his wide-eyed expression. He's such a goofball, but that's one reason why he's so loveable."

"We'll talk more about everything when it's just the two of us." Valen whispers into Hilda's left ear.

"Will do," Hilda whispers back. "Don't forget your unpaid hug and cuddle debt."

"Yes, manager." Valen lets go of Hilda and vice versa. He offers Hilda a fist bump. "It's your boy, Valen."

Hilda accepts Valen's fist bump. "Besties forever!"

Rosa smirks. "Oh?" She playfully winks. "What was that text message you sent me again? Something about Valen still being h-"

Hilda loudly gasps, her face reddening. She rapidly waves her palms in front of her, hoping Rosa changes the topic. Yes, yes he's still hot! He's got a great personality and great looks, that's why even Rosa used to get shy around him!

Valen looks towards Hilda and Melanie "Since you two came all the way, why not come inside?" He points behind him towards his house with his left index finger.

"Of course!" Melanie exclaims, her eyes gleaming. "I'd love to, big guy!"

"R-Really?" A wide-eyed Hilda lets out a loud gasp. "Y-You're actually inviting me into your house?!"

Valen nods with a friendly smile. "Are you gonna come inside, or do you wanna stand there like a overthinking Xatu?"

"Sureeeee, I'd love to come inside!" Hilda doesn't know why she was shocked—this guy's been a bestie for the last eight years. Now, if he'd just groom his hair so she could see his dashing handsome again. She wanted to be the president of his Unovan fan club for a reason. Well, more than one reason

Then, the four of them hear the echo of slow footsteps getting louder. They all look towards the cobblestone sidewalk and the quiet street. They'd recognize that guy's long red hair anywhere. plus a Feraligatr is walking behind him.

"So, you finally showed up?" Valen folds his arms, nodding to acknowledge Feraligatr.

"Obviously." Silver chuckles, glancing at the quarter in front of them.

While Rosa and Hilda wave at Silver and Feraligatr, an unamused Melanie places her hands on her hips. "He lives in my neighborhood, so why didn't you two tell me?"

"Consider it a surprise appearance." Valen shrugs. "Also, you never asked."

"I didn't feel like it." Silver exchanges a subtle fist bump with Valen.

Valen, Rosa, Melanie, Silver and Hilda stand in Valen's backyard porch. Valen's addressing his Pokémon, all of whom are standing close to him. Meanwhile, Rosa and Melanie are feeling content about the situation.

As for Hilda, she's shocked at the enormity of this backyard, but she quickly becomes jovial again. "Wow, this backyard's still awesome!" She exclaims as she rapidly moves from side to side. "It's soooo big!" She likes the patio, the chairs, the lush grass, and just about everything else.

"That's what she said," Valen jokes, smirking when he hears Silver cackling.

Hilda bursts out laughing, exclaiming, "That's a good one, Val-Val!" She pats Valen on his upper back. "You're funny!" She laughs again upon seeing Valen's smug expression. As if the other two haven't laughed in the past,

Hilda strolls up to Valen's team but slowly blinks upon seeing that only five Pokémon are present. "Salamence, Typhlosion, Gardevoir, Golisopod, Luxray...I could have sworn that Gengar was with them just now." Suddenly, she feels like something's eerily watching her from behind, and the sudden chill that just surrounded her makes her feel very uneasy.

Hilda nervously turns her head, sweating profusely. The instant that Hilda sees Valen's Gengar, the mischievous ghost jumps in her face, letting out a high pitched scream. "Aieeeeeeeeeeee! G-G-Gengar!"

While Gengar and Gardevoir roar with laughter, Hilda almost stumbles down onto her back. She flails her arms up and down, only to realize that Valen's caught her. She blushes, unsure what to do. Warm, his arms wrapped around her midsections makes her feel so warm. To make things even more awkward, that smile. That sweetheart's smile is her weakness.

"Hey, go ahead and let out your Pokémon too." He tells everybody. "You know the drill." He lets go of Hilda, watching her look away as she tries to stop blushing. "Just as I suspected." He places his right hand over his heart. "One day, I promise."

About a minute later, Hilda rapidly spins around to face her friends. She's radiating happiness like she's the sun in the cloudless sky, beaming rays of light down on everybody and everything. Rosa and Melanie radiate the same level of happiness, all three calling out their teams two at a time.

"Nope, not going to follow suit," Silver states, folding his arms. He notices that everyone's looking at him, causing him to blink. "I didn't meant that." He smacks his face with his right palm. "I'm sending out my team, just in a different manner."

As expected from the professional brooder, Valen silently laughs. As expected from himself, he yelps when both Rosa and Hilda fixate their trademark grins on him. Why does this happen, and why is it inconsistent? Why is he so dorky that he now accepts it?

Hilda, Melanie, Rosa, and Silver watch their respective teams scatter around, heading towards Valen's team.

Valen's Salamence, Melanie's Dragonite, Hilda's Garchomp, and Silver's Kommo-o greet each other with a claw bump. Rosa's Hydregion uses one of his smaller heads to join in. The other four dragons turn towards Hydreigon, who yelps upon seeing their mischievous grins. Salamence roars that both of Hydreigon's hands have heads to stand on, while Garchomp snickers that Hydreigon might've gotten a head start. Dragonite and Kommo-o want to know which head would Hydreigon do a hand stand on, or would it be called a head stand? Milotic stands next to Salamence, neither allowing themselves to be roasted again. Instead, Milotic jokes that Hydreigon can't wrap his head around any of this. This causes all of the dragons, Hydreigon included, to roar with laughter.

Hilda's Starmie attempts to attract the attention of Valen's Golisopod. Golisopod pretends to be disinterested, the arthropod turning away from Starmie. This causes Starmie to start poking him with the tips of its star-like body. Silver's Feraligatr pokes the arthropod as well, causing him to roll his eyes.

Meanwhile, a perplexed Swampert and Beartic stare at Luxray, Absol and Umbreon. They can't figure out what they're brooding about this time. Luxray might be brooding due to low cheese puff supply, as they do remember this trait of the electric feline. Absol might be brooding just for the sake of brooding, and Umbreon's no different.

Gengar and Gardevoir are chatting with Alakazam and Zoroark. They're discussing why the humans have heated food arguments, specifically Rosa and Leaf over this food called pizza. They're fine with the food they get, but these humans are so weird and silly about it. Still, the antics of the humans make for better shows than what's on the glowing boxes they call television.

Aggron and Scizor decide to test their luck with Golisopod. It turns out that Golisopod felt like trolling, as he immediately turns towards this duo. This annoys Starmie to the point where its red jewel repeatedly brightens on and off. It unleashes a rapid and merciless barrage of pokes. It doesn't bother Golisopod, the arthropod continuing to chat with Aggron and Scizor. Starmie decides to repeatedly poke the two Steel-types too, alternating between Golisopod, Aggron, and Scizor. Feraligatr joins the trio in chatting about battles, only for Starmie to add him to its poking barrage. He smirks over how Golisopod and Scizor don't get into their umpteenth claw wrestling match.

Typhlosion, Emboar, male Pyroar, Arcanine, and Volcarona hang out and discuss the time they saw depictions of themselves, or what the humans call "species," in painting. Typhlosion and Volcarona laugh that all of them overhear the humans so much that they even know the names of these humans called painters.

Crobat, Braviary, and Aerodactyl soar in the skies, having a little bit of a race. Aerodactyl screeches to pick up the pace, causing to Crobat to point out that the last time he picked up the pace, he crashed into Braviary. Braviary sports a sheepish grin, asking for that story to remain under wraps.

As their teams chat and have fun, Valen, Melanie, Hilda, Rosa, and Silver decide that they should go to the all sporting content smiles. They exchange a five-way fist bump. Then, each of them walk towards the seating arraignment within the patio. Each take a seat in one of the five contour chairs that surrounds a large mahogany table. Each chair's got a walnut frames and dark brown upholstery.

Valen glances to his right, giving Rosa a mischievous smile. "There's somebody here who needs to come clean."

"H-Huh?!" Rosa begins to sweat nervously a second time, while Silver, Hilda and Melanie silently enjoy this situation.

"Tell me the truth about Hydreigon, Rosa." Valen's smile evolves into a grin.

"W-Wha-" Rosa's face reddens as becomes more flustered—she's just noticed Valen's Salamence approaching her.

Salamence's smirking, eagerly waiting for Rosa's going to say. Hilda's Garchomp's also approaches Rosa, cackling as he awaits her response. The other three dragons follow suit.

"Yeeep, I kicked her butt!" Hilda folds her arms, tilting her head back. "Hahahahahahaha!"

Hilda's Garchomp lets out a prideful roar to confirm what his trainer had just said. Then, Garchomp returns to his dragon bromance. The dragons share a laugh over Valen's antics.

Rosa's mouth curves into a lopsided grin. "Valen, you've forgotten something important."

Hilda begins to sweat nervously. "Wait! Wait! I take it back! I take it back! Aieeeeeeeeeeee, please don't mention that battle again!"

"I beat Hilda three to zero at the Pokémon World Tournament!" Rosa boisterously laughs. "Eelektross, Hydreigon, and Serperior, except I didn't even need to use Serperior!"

"Aieeeeeee! That was soooo embarrassing!" Hilda's face reddens as she shuts her eyes. "All three of my Pokémon got afflicted by status conditions!"

"Hahahahaha, Eelektross did Garchomp in from the start with Toxic!"

Garchomp gasps, hiding his face with his fins. The other dragons turn to face him. This time, Hydreigon states that a human once stated that "you better have Burn Heal." Salamence roars that

"That's my girl." Valen pats a grinning Rosa on the head. "We were trolling you."

"Lovable idiot." Rosa bops him on both cheeks.

"You're actually putting in a little more effort," Melanie remarks with an approving smile. "Not bad, Valen. Not bad at all."

"Thanks, Empress Bossy Butt."

"I hate you." Melanie smiles, flicking Valen on his forehead.

"I know." Valen earns himself a double flick.

"Oh, I forgot!" Hilda laughs as she takes out her phone. She stands up, positioning herself where the backyard's in full few. She turns her back towards the camera, turning her head to give a wink. The bright lights of the camera flash several times.

Then, Rosa rapidly gets up, darting to join Hilda. Rosa does the same pose, and the bright light flashes several more times.

"We look sooooo good together!" Hilda and Rosa cheer, their eyes sparkling. "Our fan clubs and our followers will loooove seeing these!"

"You see why I love these two so much?" Valen smirks.

"You're not much different," Melanie teases. "That's why you need me, the calm one, around.

"I'm calmer than you," Silver points out.

"You're also grumpy." Melanie chuckles.

Silver smirks, stating, "You can't even figure out one setting."

Melanie's eyes widen, her face reddening. "H-Hey, that's difficult to decide!" she shouts. "I'm a travel girl too! I love to use different settings!"

"You haven't traveled in a while," Valen adds.

Melanie flicks Valen on the forehead. "I have." She playfully winks. "Being busy includes going out of town."

Valen laughs, then turns his attention to Hilda. "Still a video game and board game woman?"

"Yeeeep, and don't forget trivia games and tabletop games!" Hilda cheers. "You should play alongside me one day!"

"Heh, we'll see." More like absolutely, but he feels like being mysterious.

"I'll make sure there's an art and history category." Hilda playfully winks. "In exchange, I expect to be hugged and cuddled the entire time."

"Sure." He'll never say no to that.

"Silly, I was kidding." Hilda titters, tilting her head rightwards.

Valen's face reddens, his eyes slightly widening. "Oh...errr-"

"Hehe, the Lillipup wants his hugs and cuddles." Hilda places her right hand over her grinning mouth.

"Remember that one sign?" Silver smirks, glancing towards Valen.

Valen yelps, his face reddening even more. "U-Uh oh."

"'Y'all are stupid if you think I'm not Rosa and Hilda's number one fanboy.'" Melanie chuckles, patting Valen's upper back. "I love what an idiot you are."

Valen hides his face with his arms. "T-That n-nev-er hap-happa-happened!"

"Yes it did!" Rosa and Hilda cheer, their eyes dancing and their hands folded above their right shoulders. "Cutie cutie cutieeeee!"

"I'm not cute, dammit!" Valen clenches his teeth, his eyes bulging out. "Team Skull's Valen is not cute!" He was never cute, and he'll never be cute!

"Yes you are," Hilda and Melanie tease, bopping and flicking him respectively.

"I'm not cute!" Valen screams, hiding his face again when he hears the Pokémon laughing. "Stop laughing at something that's not true!"

"Welcome to my world, Valen," Silver comments, looking away from the group. "Except these three aren't the Three Stooges of Johto." Nobody better imply that he likes Kris. It's not true, not true whatsoever.

Before Valen can speak again, he notices that his Typhlosion's gotten closer and is on all fours. He calms down and pets her, smiling when she affectionally roars in response.

Valen can't help but ponder the irony of this situation. He was rude to his longtime friend, and yet she's hanging out in his backyard days later. Of course, it's probably not the first time she's been here. Hilda and him were and are best friends, just like she said. This time, that's literally what she said.

Within a concrete plaza, Silver's engaging in a battle with Arthur. A crowd of onlookers have gathered to witness this battle. The late afternoon sun sinks in-between thick clouds. the skyline of downtown looming large in the distance.

"Aggron, use Thunder Punch."

Aggron lets out a booming roar, his right hand being enveloped by electricity. He charges at Corviknight, who smirks.

"Corviknight, use Steel Wing," Arthur commands.

Corviknight wings glow metallic gray. The avian lets out a prideful cry, lunging towards Aggron. Aggron's right fist and Corviknight's left wing slam into each other, neither Pokémon giving an inch.

"Fall back and use Stone Edge."

Aggron jumps backwards, allowing himself to be struck by Corviknight's wings. Before Corviknight can escape, Aggron slams his tail into the ground. Several giant pillars of rock sprout upwards, emitting a white glow. The rock pillars slam into Corviknight, causing the purple bird to yelp.

Corviknight stumbles, but remains in-flight as the rock pillars dissipate. Both Pokémon stare each other down with competitive glares.

"So, moving to Calvana?" Arthur inquires, eyeing the towering skyscrapers that cast a shadow over the plaza. "I I heard that you were able to acquire a bungalow."

"Yeah, gotta get far away from Kanto and Johto." Silver glances to his northwest, eyeing a green sign that's got Little Johto in big and bold letters on it. Next to the letters is an arrow that points east. "I don't mind this, though."

"Old Downtown looks like it came straight out of Victorian Galar."

"Kris keeps going back there, she's actually there as we speak."

"In any case, shall we resume the battle?" Arthur suggests. "We can discuss such matters after I defeat you."

"We never halted the battle, posh guy," Silver retorts. "You won't defeat me either."

"Oi, I'm not posh." Arthur folds his arms.

"Your full name says otherwise, Sir Arthur Chadwick Bennington the Third." Silver mischievously smirks.

Aggron and Corviknight cackle at the silly back and forth between their trainers. Then, they glare at each other. Aggron lets out a thunderous roar, and Corviknight lets out a prideful screech.

Suddenly, Silver's phone rings. He takes it out of his right pocket, his mouth falling open when he sees who's calling. "Timeout, this call's important."

Arthur nods. "I understand."

"Thanks." Silver answers the call. "Where've you been lately?"

"Fighting back and kicking ass," Rui responds. "I won't let this keep me down any longer."

Silver smiles. "Good to hear."

"I'll come to kick your ass one day," Rui proudly proclaims. "I'm all the way in the Sevii Islands right now, just outside of Trainer Tower."

"Impressive," Silver compliments. "Can you beat Hoenn's Battle Frontier?"

"I've got four out of seven silver symbols."

"Uh oh, that means you got your ass kicked three times."

"Hey, I wasn't expecting Noland to have a Galarian Articuno along with an Ice and Flying-type Articuno!" Rui yelps. "He only had the latter when you two challenged him!"

"Whom else did you lose to, scrub?" Silver's mouth curves into a lopsided grin.

"I didn't know that Brandon's now got a Regieleki and a Regidrago!" she screams. "And Arena Tycoon Greta's now got a Urshifu!"

"Relax," Silver responds. "It took Valen, Rosa, and I a while to get all the symbols."

As he chats with Rui, Silver notices Kris is waving at him, so he subtly waves back. He notices that she's got five large bags, She's carrying one, while her Ursaring's helping to carry the other three. He figures that she must've bought half of Old Downtown's clothing and accessories and fit them all into there.

He watches her walk up to Arthur, the two of them introducing herself. Of course, she instantly goes gaga over Arthur's reproduction Victorian-style attire. Arthur and Rui better not imply that there's anything going on between Kris and him, because they're just friends. Any implication that they're more than friends is hogwash.

Silver snaps back into focus when Kris nudges his right side with her left elbow. He closes his eyes with a smirk. Sometimes, it's still surreal that they managed to become close friends, but he won't complain. Even if she earned the nickname Queen Blabbermouth for a reason.
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