Disclaimer – I love to play with things that aren't mine to begin with! I'm just your average klepto!
Author – Warlordess
Notes – Oh, wow, I can't believe I'm actually writing this. I was. . . I admit that I came into this season rather late, but then again, I haven't watched a lot of Pokemon since Misty left (such a shocker, I know) and then when I heard about Serena's history with Ash and her crush on him, I was a bit deflated. I really wish Misty had gotten as many opportunities as her successor female counterparts received. May and Dawn both had generous subplots, even introduced before Ash's entry to their particular home region, and Iris too. Not only does Serena get the same treatment, but there's also a romantic development, which has never been seriously, canononically introduced into this anime before. It kind of broke my heart for a moment but I tried my best to make it pass.
Instead, I decided to give the season a chance. I think I've watched about seven episodes so far and I've found both things I love and hate about it. I'm very glad that Team Rocket went back to their usual flimsy interpretation of evil, and especially that they're using their old motto again. The graphics are kind of great, I admit, but Pokemon vastly needed an update on their CG. The characters introduced in the XY series are all very likeable, including Serena. I seriously love Bonnie and Clemont. Like I said, however, there were a few things that I don't like. I don't approve of Serena's crush on Ash. I openly admit that this is in part my Pokeshipper soul crying out in reprieve, but it's also because they introduced a female character with a historic connection to Ash like, twenty seasons – read: fifteen RL years, seven regions, and five other female companions – down the line. Are you seriously telling me that Serena's mom sent her to another part of the world for summer camp? What, Professor Sycamore didn't have any summer programs she could attend closer to home?
But at the same time, I've decided that a development between Serena, who likes the good, wholesome boy that Ash was when they met so long ago, and Clemont – who is just as much a good, wholesome boy as Ash, only a tad shyer – would be very sweet. I have a thing for Beauty and the Geek scenarios, which is interesting since I'm not a reality TV buff and I've never seen that show at all. Lol.
So, that being said, this is my first foray into the GeekChicShipping world. I pray it treats me gently since this project, while something I've become quite interested in writing, is still the first (possibly second) idea I've had for this couple and there aren't going to be any confessions or anything. It's just a detour in canon, a test on how I write and conceive this relationship, a chance I want to give myself as well as the characters.
Title – "Project Forty-Five"
Summary – After another embarrassing proposal, Clemont has finally decided to invent something useful to put Bonnie's concerns for his wellbeing to rest. But he isn't the only one interested in the prototype. One-sided Amourshipping, partial GeekChicShipping.
"Aipom Arm, go!" Clemont shouted in embarrassment as Bonnie kneeled down on one knee and proposed to a random woman on his behalf, and not for the first time.
He pressed the button on his backpack's strap and heard the familiar sound of the mechanical gears wrenching into life before a long steel cable with a white arm protruded from over his shoulder and shot at his younger sister, pulling her back in his direction and fortunately cutting off her undying words of admiration mid-sentence.
The woman, head chef and owner at the mid-class restaurant their group had splurged on for lunch that day, smiled half-heartedly at the strange spectacle, perhaps reminded of her own siblings and their outrageous behavior growing up. Ash smiled blankly, one brow twitching in wonder, while Pikachu held one paw to the back of his own head and stroked it bashfully. Meanwhile Serena was calmly sipping her hot tea and staring at Ash from over the rim of her mug, ignoring the current situation, wishing he would just take a second to really look at her.
It had been awhile since she had joined his group while traveling through the Kalos Region, an even shorter amount of time since she'd gotten him to remember her and their fateful introduction as even younger children than they were now. . . She hadn't known what she was expecting when he'd first recognized her.
She thought back to when she'd seen him on the news before leaving home, how she'd nearly instantly seen the similarities between him and the boy she'd met when she was forced to endure Professor Oak's summer camp all that time ago. And that was before she'd realized that he and that young boy were indeed the same person! Watching him cautiously approach a rampaging Garchomp on one of the highest floors of Prism Tower, watching him throw himself into the fray just to try and save a Pokemon from doing any damage to itself as well as the city, putting himself in harm's way enough to make sure Pikachu had a clear shot at the collar that Team Rocket had forced the dragon-type Pokemon to wear. . . And the heartrending fear that had gripped her when she saw him leap from the tower without a second thought when the ground had crumbled beneath Pikachu's legs and he'd – both of them had nearly fallen to their deaths. . .
Anyway, she had thought that he would be at least half as invested in her if he held any romantic notions or feelings towards her, but there had been nothing so far.
"Fen fennekin!" her fox-type Pokemon companion cooed as she lounged comfortably on Serena's lap.
"Bonnie, that was so embarrassing!" Clemont miserably wailed as he and his sister rejoined the rest of their group at their booth.
He took the seat beside Serena while Bonnie hopped up onto the empty space beside Ash, standing on the fabric cushion and pointing earnestly at her sorry excuse for a relative.
"Big brother, you'll never find someone who will take care of you if all you worry about are building your silly inventions all the time! That's why it's up to me to find someone for you instead! Right, Dedenne?" she asked, staring down at her mousy companion as he perked his head from the pouch at her hip.
"De de!" he affirmed with a nod, clearly sticking up for his friend despite the fact that it was Clemont who'd caught him originally. Then again, nobody made him feel as good as Bonnie did when she was petting up and down his tail.
"But I don't need someone like that; at least not yet! I have plenty of time for," but he stuttered and sputtered, clearly too disconcerted to go on. Well, girls had never really been an area he was adequate at navigating. . . Not that he'd admit that to her. But then again, she didn't seem to need to hear his confessions, rather taking it upon herself to find some dutiful woman to care for and coddle him for the rest of his life, "Anyway, I told you to stop doing that a long time ago!" he finally reprimanded her, but even his authoritative tone did nothing to deter her intentions.
"Big brother, you're going to end up alone as a stodgy old man someday soon if I leave it all up to you! I don't want to see you living as a hermit somewhere with nothing but your inventions to keep you company, you know?" she told him, at first rather brash and skeptical, though her tone did soften the more she went on. "And Sage," she began again, her eyes alight with renewed vigor as she mentioned the name of the woman she'd just finished harassing only a few minutes previous, "would have been perfect! I mean, she cooks for a living! I wouldn't have to worry about you skipping meals because you're too busy with your next great idea to make something to eat! Plus she's in customer service so she's great with people already!"
"Well, the way she handles the affairs of her restaurant is rather impressive," Serena noted to prove she wasn't acting ignorant. Plus introducing herself to the conversation caused everyone's gazes to shift in her direction, including Ash's.
She felt her cheeks ignite as his eyes caught hers but immediately broke contact under the pressure.
Perhaps it was a good thing he hadn't come around and decided to confess his undying love to her yet.
"Yeah, see?" Bonnie wailed enthusiastically with her hands clamped together against the right side of her face, her daydreams temporarily overwhelming her. "Serena even agrees with me!"
"Bonnie, I told you no," Clemont said, eyes flashing as though to further renounce the topic of debate.
His little sister slid down into the seat of their booth, instantly deflated by his decision, though he knew she'd be back to her old self in no time at all.
After finishing and paying for their meal, they left the restaurant they'd decided to stop at for lunch and began to wander the streets of their newest destination once more. Cyllage City, with its multiple winding paths and spacious setting, was rather nice to look at. Plus it was right on the water so the breeze put everyone at ease.
"Kaa," Pikachu soothingly sighed from Ash's shoulder, and his trainer craned his neck around with a wide grin.
"It does feel good, doesn't it, Pikachu?" he asked rhetorically. Then he turned around and noted the different kinds of terrain the paths were made of, not to mention that some of them were rather narrow for pedestrian travel. "Why are they like that?" he wondered aloud.
"Cyllage City is known for its bike courses," Clemont explained knowledgeably, fixing his glasses so that the lenses glimmered in the sunlight. "The town usually hosts a marathon here a few times a year, and it's open to all levels of experience. Bonnie always watches it on television when the time comes."
"Well, I mostly turned the TV on for you, Clemont!" the young girl responded in kind, voice lowering to a mutter, "I had hoped that seeing all of those athletes would get you to start exercising more. There's a reason why you can never keep up with the rest of us!"
Everyone broke down into a unanimous fit of laughter at the young inventor's expense but he tried his best to ignore them.
"Anyway," Ash began anew once it had died down, "there's a gym around here somewhere, isn't there?"
"Ah, yeah, actually," Clemont noted again, first one to offer the information, "I think the gym leader specializes in rock types though, so you better be prepared."
"Hah, I've got Froakie so I shouldn't have any trouble at all!" the raven-haired trainer exclaimed confidently with his hands at his waist, standing tall and laughing loud. Serena and Bonnie took in the sight, all smiles. But what got Serena's attention the most was the next moment when Ash's self-assured expression had faltered and been replaced with a more somber air.
Bikes and rock-type gyms, huh? That sure brought back some memories.
"Well, Pikachu? Are you ready for us to face our next challenge?" he asked once he'd shaken himself out of it.
Serena watched the overly-excited trainer exchange words with his starter Pokemon and decided she'd pretend she hadn't noticed what she'd seen. There were clearly things she still didn't know about Ash after all the time they'd been apart. He'd been traveling for a long time before meeting her again. It only made sense that he would take the occasional moment to remember some of the things he'd left behind.
Their group walked around town for the next half-an-hour or so, meandering their way towards the gym and taking a chance to glance at all of the shop storefronts on the way there. It was when they approached the tall building that something finally changed in their formation.
"Uh, guys? I'm actually going to sit this one out if it's alright," Clemont told them all casually.
Bonnie narrowed her eyes at her brother. More like suspiciously.
"You'd really miss Ash's next gym battle?" Serena asked him with wide eyes. If it were her, she'd feel rather guilty for leaving her friend behind, after all.
"Well, it's just. . . I have something I wanted to check out. It shouldn't take long anyway but I don't want the shop to close up before we leave the gym because then I won't get my chance," he halfheartedly explained.
Ash and Pikachu glanced at each other before smiling at their companion.
"It's alright, guys. We don't mind if Clemont has other things to do. You don't have to feel obligated to follow me everywhere. I like having your company at all!" he said with a laugh and Pikachu immediately agreed in his own foreign tongue. "Besides, we all know what's gonna happen when I walk in there anyway, don't we?" he asked them without really asking them, that certainty he was always known for peeking through.
You'd never know that he lost his first gym battle after arriving in Kalos, Serena thought with a smile. It was that never-say-die attitude that had attracted her after all.
Clemont bid his friends farewell and turned on his heel to run back towards the shops they'd passed a little some time ago while Ash, Bonnie, Serena, and their Pokemon partners all marched into the gym instead.
"Hehe, what'd I tell ya?" Ash asked, undoing the lock on his badge case and showing Clemont a couple of hours later once their group had gotten back together.
"Wow, that's pretty impressive," the blond inventor agreed as he took in the sight of the new addition to the raven-haired trainer's collection. "I guess Froakie came through for you, didn't he?"
"Yeah, but like I said, I knew I could count on him!" and the trainer gave the frog-type Pokemon's Ball a slight pat, wondering to himself if the sentiment happened to get through the mechanical contraption and reach his ally's ears. "Well, I guess we're done here! Should we head out to the next town?"
More like the next gym.
It was actually Serena who grounded his elation this time.
"Um, if you don't mind, I'd rather stay here in Cyllage tonight. It's already getting late anyway and if we go now, we should be able to get a room at the Pokemon Center, shouldn't we?" she asked rather timidly. She still preferred sleeping in an actual bed compared to on the road, though there were a few times when it was unavoidable.
Ash stared at her for a second or two and then shrugged, giving in easily since he was still high on his most recent achievement.
"Sure I guess," he told her.
"Ah, alright then, that's great!" And she gave her most fitting, charming smile. . . though it didn't seem to have any effect since Ash had already u-turned from the direction they were traveling in, which would have led them out of town.
"C'mon Pikachu, Dedenne!" Bonnie yelped excitedly as they changed course. "I'll race you both there!" She took off without a second thought, nearly immediately regretting this choice when her shoe caught on a piece of cobblestone. She rebalanced herself awkwardly before hitting the ground, then looked up and saw both electric mouse Pokemon beating her. "No fair! Wait for me, you two!"
Her laughter reverberated around them in the oncoming nightfall.
Once they reached the Center, everyone handed in their Pokemon to Nurse Joy for a good rest, knowing that they'd have their work cut out for them the next day when they finally did leave Cyllage City. Then they requested a room with two bunk beds and went to prepare for sleep.
It was roughly an hour later when Serena finally exited the bathroom adjacent their overnight quarters, all squeaky clean and comfortable in her own skin once more after running around outside all day. Ash and Bonnie were already asleep on separate bunks (one was for the boys and one for the girls; it seemed most appropriate that way) and she gave herself a free moment to stare wistfully at the boy she'd liked for so long without getting caught. It was a rare opportunity for her.
"Are you going to bed?" Clemont whispered from the desk next to the door and Serena squeaked before clamping a hand over her mouth. She hadn't even been aware of his presence!
"Uh, yeah, in a few minutes," she murmured back, kneeling down to remove her hairbrush from her bag. Then she began to unknot her long tresses, stopping midway down one particular brush and turned wary eyes on him. "Aren't you?" she asked curiously, already walking in his direction.
When she finally got close enough to see, she noticed he had an assortment of things on the desk, most of which were diagrams of something that looked oddly similar to a. . .
"Is that a necklace?" she immediately questioned, pointing at the closest page to her.
"Um, well. . . yeah, sort of," he replied kindly, hoping he wouldn't have to explain anymore. However Serena wasn't finished yet, taking in the evidence of his labor until finally gazing at the top left of the first piece of paper she'd seen. And the next one, and then a few more that happened to be spread out on the desk.
"Project Forty-Five?" she quoted blankly, before cottoning on, "Wow, you've invented forty-four other things? That's really great! You're so talented!" she gushed under her breath, enthusiastic but still hoping not to wake anybody.
"Well, actually no. . . Forty-five doesn't stand for the numerical order of my inventions," he indeed disclosed for her benefit.
"Oh? Then what does it stand for?" she asked patiently, still staring.
Whatever it was, it looked just as alluring as it did tacky. A thin, fragile chain with a pendant at the end, a heart-shaped jewel at its center. From what she could tell, there was a clasp on the back of the pendant that may have opened up to reveal something within it, but there were no notes detailing what that something would be. Instead, on the back of the pendant displayed in the diagram, was a loopy number forty-five, just like in the title Clemont had given his newest pet project.
Serena felt something akin to passion well up within her and she knew that this was what Ash had felt when he'd previously watched Clemont reveal one contraption after another to him.
"Heheh," the amateur innovator smirked, pressing his glasses up the edge of his nose once more and feeling the pride at his latest great feat overrule his determination to keep everything quiet until he was ready to unleash it on the world. Well, this particular brainchild of his was rather mild-mannered compared to those he'd built in the past. . .
"I'm afraid I can't say quite yet. I've already bought the materials I needed for it though," and he nodded towards his own backpack, not all the space of which was apparently taken over by the Aipom Arm and his other contraptions, "I'll be starting work on it in the next few days. But if I do say so myself, I believe that this will be one of my greatest inventions ever!"
He continued sniggering almost dementedly to himself and Serena backed away and let him get to work once more. She wasn't sure what he was doing and she usually wouldn't be bothered to find out more. But there had indeed been something about the design that had got her attention.
Well, he had told her to expect more news in a few days so she would bide her time until then, she supposed. There were plenty of things to keep her busy, including building up her relationship with Fennekin, as well as trying to get Ash's attention. All she could do outside of that was wait for the big reveal, just like the rest of their group.
Notes – Holy bajeezus, I just wrote this, didn't I? Oh, man, I can't believe I did this. . . Then again, it's probably a good thing. It's happening. Heck, it's already at least partially done, right? So I guess I have no choice but to keep going. And I may possibly be okay with that.
I hope nobody took my opening notes too personally. It's just how I feel. . . And I kind of hope there are others out there who feel the same as me. But even beyond that, I live in a free country so I'm allowed to say how I feel! Right?
Anyway, next chapter should hopefully be posted in a week. I only say it will take that long because my work days are usually sixteen hours long when you include transportation. I'll be trying my best to work on this between working and sleeping though, in the precious few minutes per day that I have. Lol. I feel pretty confident about this fic, though I should note that it's only going to be two or three chapters long. I decided to make it shorter per chapter than – well – basically every other fic I've ever written. Shorter chapters; it's something I've wanted to try out for awhile. :)
Until next time! And remember, reviews are love!