Juan of the Best

Three days after the incident with Kyogre and Groudon, Brendan was lying awake in the bed with May, both still naked from last night, just looking at his new fiancée, marveling at just how beautiful she was. They had spent their days sightseeing in the city, even getting a TM for Brick Break from a kind-hearted martial artist. There were even a few people who recognized them from the news broadcast and asked for their autographs. During the evenings, they would get passionate and let their primal instincts take over. During all this time, every minute they were together just served to reaffirm how he felt about her, and Brendan could definitely feel it as he watched her sleeping with her head resting on his chest. I hope this moment never ends, he thought as he remembered the activities of the previous night. Literally, nothing had been off-limits, and May even asked him to put it where most guys only dream of with their woman. Sure, he was sore now, but it was the type of soreness that came with a sense of pride.

Just as he was getting lost in thought, the phone rang. May groaned at the loud ringing, waking up while Brendan answered the phone. "Hello?" he said.

"Hi Brendan, this is Dr. Reynolds. I'm just calling to let you know that all of your Pokémon have all made a full recovery. You may pick them up from the front counter at your leisure," said the voice on the other line.

"Thank you, doctor, we'll be there around…" he looked at the clock and saw that it was only nine in the morning. "Noon." With that, they both hung up, and Brendan turned his attention back to May. She looked absolutely beautiful, even with bedhead, and he couldn't deny how good it felt to have their bodies in such close contact.

"Hey," she said with a tired smile. "How's my stud today?"

Brendan blushed a bit when she called him stud, not expecting her to say that. "I'm great, just thinking about how lucky I am to be in love with you."

May smiled and kissed his chest. "Well, you're too sweet," she said as she moved her body over his, slowly straddling him like she had last night.

"Do you want to go again?" Brendan asked, a bit surprised.

May just giggled. "Would that be a bad thing?"

Brendan smirked. "No, I guess it wouldn't be." May kissed him softly, and began to lightly grind her hips on him. It didn't take long before they were continuing their activities from last night. They lost track of time as they showered and pleasured each other that morning, miraculously getting ready by noon almost exactly. It was more miraculous that they both looked presentable, and not like they had just rolled out of bed. The nurse at the counter already had their Pokéballs out on the counter when the two trainers got to the front desk, while Gwen seemed to be chatting with her happily.

Well, looks like the lovebirds finally decided to join us today, Gwen said. Brendan went slightly wide-eyed as Gwen gave him a knowing look.

"Yeah, yeah, we slept later than usual today. Cut us some slack," Brendan said as he collected his Pokéballs and put them on his belt, where they belonged. May did the same, slightly giggling when she heard Gwen speaking to her.

So, you're saying you two didn't "engage" each other this morning? Gwen said, with a giggle. Brendan did the best he could to ignore her. That was when he had a realization, almost feeling guilty about it.

"Excuse me, nurse," he said, getting her attention. "Is there a video phone in this building? I'd like to make a call."

"Yes, there is a private phone just down the hall and to the left. The walls of the room are sound proof," she said.

"Thank you so much," Brendan said, and May immediately picked up on what he wanted to do. In all honesty, she was thinking the same thing. All three of them went to the booth, which was very spacious, and Brendan dialed the number for his house.


In Littleroot Town, the Maple family was sitting with the Birch family, enjoying a lunch Norman had prepared for everybody.

"Well, Norman, you're one hell of a chef. If ever you decide you don't want to be a gym leader anymore, you should definitely look into opening a restaurant," Professor Birch said with a hearty laugh. Caroline gave Edmund a look that just said, 'don't encourage him,' which only made Norman smile more.

"It was nothing, just a simple burger cookout," Norman said.

That's when Lily Birch spoke up. "Well, on a different note than Norman's cooking, did you two see the news broadcast from Sootopolis this week?"

"No, we haven't had the chance to watch the news much recently," Caroline said as Sylveon came up to her and nudged her hand to get some attention.

"Brendan and May were on it. I think you need to watch it, because I honestly have trouble believing what I saw there. There are other videos too, and they're going viral pretty fast," Ed told them. Just as he said that, the video phone on the wall began ringing. When they saw that it was from the Sootopolis Pokémon Center, Caroline automatically answered the call, bringing up the image of Brendan, May, and Gwen, all smiling

"Well, speak of the Giratina, and he shall appear," she said as the others joined by her side.

"How's it going you three? Haven't heard from you in a few weeks," Norman said

"Hey, sorry we haven't called in a while, we've been really busy lately," Brendan said.

"Honestly, I don't know if you'd believe us if we told you everything that's happened," May said.

"Well, start wherever you want, we've got nothing but time," Lily said.

May seemed happy to see her parents after so long, but she knew that she was about to worry them tremendously. "First, promise you won't freak out when we tell you what we've been doing recently," she said.

Edmund noticed that all three of them looked exhausted at that moment. "We can't really promise that right now, but we will try to temper ourselves," he said with a tone that showed he was already a bit worried.

"Well, we should start with what happened over the last month since we were last in Littleroot," Brendan said, beginning the story with catching Avery and Drake on the Southern Isle, and they went from there, May occasionally taking over. They didn't mention their new betrothal when they got to that part of the story, but Brendan could see a look in Norman's eyes that told him his father knew that he was waiting for that part of the story.

Needless to say, both of their parents looked more than a little scared for their children when the story ended, but they also looked relieved at the same time. "Well, we're just glad everybody is safe," Lily said, breaking a silence that had built.

"Agreed," the professor said. "As interested as I am in studying Groudon and Kyogre, I'm much happier that you're both alive and well."

That was when Norman spoke up. "That's all great to hear, but I can see you both have something else you want to tell us," he said.

May decided to answer that question with a slight blush. "Well, Brendan and I just got engaged," she said, earning a very surprised look from both of their parents.

"Wait, already?" Caroline asked, clearly questioning the speed that the teens had made such a big decision. Norman, however, seemed more like he expected to hear something like that.

"It makes sense. After what you two have been through together, I can see that you two are extremely close, much more than you were last time you called us," he said.

"Are you at least going to take some time before the wedding?" Lily asked.

"Yes, of course. We still have to finish our journey, and we'll keep dating each other for a while before getting married," May said.

Caroline sighed in relief. "That makes me feel better," she said before looking at May. "I think you and Brendan will make a beautiful family together some day." Brendan blushed slightly, and Gwen's sly look didn't help.

"It's really early for that, isn't it, Mom?" Brendan a bit quietly, making Norman laugh loudly.

"Well, good luck to both of you. Brendan, since you're in Sootopolis, then I should tell you this: Do not underestimate the gym leader there. Word among the other gym leaders in Hoenn is that the man mentored the current champion," he said.

"Thanks Dad, I'll remember that while I'm battling him," Brendan said.

"You two keep working hard, you have no idea how proud of both of you we all are. And please let us know when the league tournament and the grand festival are," Professor Birch said. "We will all be there to watch you in person."

"Of course, neither will be for a few weeks, but we'll let you know as soon as we find out when they are," May said with a smile.

"Alright, we'll talk to you both soon, keep in touch, and please be careful. Remember that you guys can always come home if you want to," Norman said.

"We will. See you in a few months at most," Brendan said. They said their goodbyes and ended the call. Gwen was still giving them both a sly look when they turned to the door, but she stopped when Brendan gave her a playful glare. She giggled and they all walked out to the waiting room, where they were pleasantly surprised to see both Steven and Wallace, who were evidently waiting for them.

"Good morning you two, you seem to be well-rested. How'd you enjoy the suite?" Steven asked.

"It was very comfortable. Thank you so much for letting us use it," Brendan said.

"Yeah, we loved it so much," May said.

"You are most welcome," Steven said. "However, it just so happens that there is something else that we are here for."

Brendan looked interested, so Wallace stepped forward. "I would like to lead you to the Sootopolis Gym. The leader, Juan, has been eagerly awaiting Brendan's challenge," he said.

Oh, cool, Norman just told us about him, that should be an awesome battle! Gwen said, earning a chuckle from Steven.

"I should've figured that you were talking to your families," he said. "Norman probably couldn't resist giving his son a little warning."

Brendan smiled a bit. "Yeah, seems he couldn't, but I can say that he only told me not to underestimate the leader."

"That seems like something Norman would do, for sure," Wallace said before he started walking and leading the group out of the Pokémon Center and to the center of town, where the gym sat, surprisingly completely unaffected by the devastating battle a few days ago.

"Wow, this place is beautiful!" May said, almost having stars in her eyes. The building was reminiscent of an ancient temple, made completely out of white marble granite on the outside. It was accentuated with fountains resembling various water Pokémon, with one grand statue in the center that was an exact image of a Kingdra.

"The gym was modeled to fit the tastes of Juan, and he's very eccentric," Steven said.

As he said that, a Spaniard, who looked about ten years older than Norman exited the building and joined them. He was wearing a blue traveler's coat with white trim along the edges, along with a white blouse with a round blue jewel around his neck. He had a black dress shirt on underneath and a pair of violet dress shorts over black leggings. He wore a pair of very fashionable aqua shoes, and his sleeves were rolled up at the cuff and accentuated by the frilled white sleeves of his blouse. He had a thin mustache the same black color as his hair, which was accentuated with what looked like three white feathers.

"Wallace, my old student!" Juan said as he embraced the blue-haired man, a Spanish accent clear in his voice. "It's great to see you again, my boy."

"It's great to see you too Juan, my friend," Wallace said with a wide smile on his face.

Brendan, didn't Norman say that this town's leader was the mentor to the champion? Gwen said to only him.

Yeah, he did. You don't think that Wallace is…

"Brendan, isn't it?" Juan said enthusiastically. "I am quite happy to meet the savior of the region. I am Juan, leader of the Sootopolis City gym."

Brendan smiled and shook hands with the man. "It's a pleasure to meet you too. Wallace and Steven have both spoken quite highly of you."

"Well, I am sure their descriptions pale in comparison to your exploits in the past few months. Ever since I heard that you defeated your own father in a battle, I have been expecting to see you in my gym. Our battle will be one of elegance and splendor, truly one for the history books," Juan said, moving his hands in a slightly pompous, but fitting gesture to accentuate his words.

Gwen smiled back. And we look forward to our battle. I promise you that Brendan and I will give you a great battle.

Juan looked only slightly surprised when he heard Gwen speaking. "It has been quite some time since I saw a Pokémon with the ability to speak like a human. You are truly a rare specimen of your kind, and such a beautiful one as well." Gwen blushed happily, and Brendan could tell that her ego had just gotten a massive boost just by looking at her.

Juan then turned to Brendan and smirked confidently. "Shall we head inside now? The battlefield awaits us," he said. Steven and Wallace started to follow Juan inside while Brendan, May, and Gwen all brought up the rear.

So, looks like our audience is going to be a bit bigger than usual, Gwen said.

Yeah, and a hell of a lot more influential, Brendan said, getting a slight giggle from Gwen.

Just before they were to get into the gym, May grabbed Brendan's hand and pulled him into a quick kiss. "That's for luck. I know you'll do great," she said.

Brendan smiled at her and gave her a hug. "This is why I love you so much," he said. "I'll be sure to give it back for your next contest." May giggled before they entered the truly amazingly decorated gym.

The battlefield was a perfect combination of water and dry land to allow water Pokémon to battle without restriction, and it seemed bigger than the other battlefields Brendan had seen in Hoenn. The interior of the building was extravagant as well, with a combination of Unovan and Kalosian architecture styles forming archways. The stands looked almost like the ones from the famous Orre Colosseum, just with a better polish and finish to them.

He's clearly very well-traveled, Gwen said, her voice making it clear that she was impressed.

Yeah, especially since he's got designs from Orre, Brendan said as they took their positions on the battlefield.

"Well, Brendan, what do you say to a battle of attrition. The last trainer with Pokémon fit for battle is the winner," Juan said.

"Sounds good to me," he said, which caused the screen on the side of the battlefield to light up and show both Juan and Brendan's profiles with five Pokéballs beside Juan's face, and six beside Brendan's.

"I'll start us off with Maria!" Juan said as he threw a Pokéball, letting out a Pokémon that looked like a little heart. Brendan pulled out his Pokédex, knowing he'd need information on his opponent.

It scanned the Pokémon and displayed the picture, the electronic voice giving him the data. "Luvdisc, the Rendezvous Pokémon. Type: Water. Luvdisc live in shallow seas in the tropics. This heart-shaped Pokémon earned its name by swimming after loving couples it spotted in the ocean's waves. Luvdisc's heart-shaped body is a symbol of love and romance. It is said that any couple meeting this Pokémon is promised a loving relationship that never ends."

Brendan just looked over at May, who just blushed slightly when it said the part about a "loving relationship that never ends," but he needed to focus. He decided that, even though the opponent's Pokémon was a water type, he might still be able to win at least one round with Jack. So, he sent out the Camerupt. The images of both Jack and Maria appeared on the screen with green health bars beside them.

Juan seemed to get an almost disappointed expression. "Dios mio, niño, surely you know that you put yourself at a severe disadvantage."

"Type-wise, perhaps, but maybe I have another strategy," Brendan said, realizing that Juan hadn't noticed the Heat Rock pendent around Jack's neck. "Like this! Jack, use Sunny Day!" Jack gathered what looked like a bright white light on one of his volcanos before launching it up into the air, creating an imitation of the sun, intensifying the heat of the battlefield. Juan raised an eyebrow, now seemingly intrigued.

"Very well, Maria, use Water Pulse," Juan said. Before Brendan could even react, the Luvdisc leapt from the water and fired three rings of water at Jack, all with perfect accuracy. They hit their mark, making Jack's health bar drop to about half of the maximum.

"Damn, she's still strong. Then we'll just use Stone Edge!" Brendan smiled as he watched Maria dive back into her pool of water just in time for Jack to step on the ground, making multiple stone spears erupt from the pool…with none of them hitting the intended target. "How is that possible? How did she dodge it?"

"How, you ask? Simple, Maria is very good at dodging. Her form makes it easy for her to swim gracefully around any attack," Juan said. Maria, as if wanting to mock Brendan, did a graceful leap from the water, and twirled in the air as the Stone Edge retreated back into the ground before going back into the water. Brendan gritted his teeth in mild annoyance.

"I see, then I'll just need to be much more careful. So, I'll just do something a bit more rash. Jack, use Earthquake!" Jack stomped on the ground again, making the battlefield quake and break apart, one breaking directly under Maria, knocking her into the air. Juan, however, seemed to be just fine despite Maria's health dropping by a third.

"Maria, use Aqua Jet," Juan said. Maria twirled quickly and surrounded herself with water and she began to spiral forward, hitting Jack hard in the side, making him stagger as his health dropped to less than the one eighth mark. "Now, make that a Water Pulse!"

"Counter with Flamethrower!" Brendan said. Jack turned and unleashed a jet of fire from his mouth. At the same time, Maria transferred all of the water from her Aqua Jet into three rings of water, firing all of them at Jack. The attack from the Luvdisc wrapped around the Flamethrower from Jack, neither attack affecting the other, but it was now clear to Brendan that he had failed Jack. When the attacks both hit, Maria simply dove back into her pool, while her health bar stopped at the quarter mark. There came a buzzer as Jack fainted. Brendan sighed and recalled Jack. "I'm sorry, buddy. I shouldn't have put you out there without gauging his skill. I promise you that we'll win this for you." Brendan put the Pokéball back on his belt.

You'll need some speed. It might be smart to use Turk now, Gwen said. He's got the speed, and he's got at least some neutrally effective attacks.

Brendan nodded to her and grabbed Turk's Pokéball, letting out the Crawdaunt, who seemed very ready to battle. Juan smiled. "So, you have a Crawdaunt as well. That's very interesting to see. Let's see how you use him," he said.

"Turk, use Night Slash!" Brendan said with a smile. Turk's claws both began to glow with a black and violet light.

"Use Flail!" Juan said. Maria leapt from the water and began whipping her body around, slapping against Turk before he swiped his claw across her body, launching her across the field. The buzzer sounded as Maria fainted. Juan sighed, but Brendan stayed focused, seeing that Maria had done a lot of damage with that single Flail.

Juan recalled Maria, thanking her extensively in Spanish, before pulling out his next Pokéball. "Vamos, Santiago!" he said as he sent out a Crawdaunt of his own. This one, however, was more brown than red, which told Brendan that this one was, like Erza, a shiny. "Now, use Dragon Dance!" Santiago gathered energy, which formed a red and black aura, boosting his speed and his attacking strength.

Brendan gritted his teeth a bit. This would make things more difficult going forward. "Alright, Turk, use Brick Break!" he said, happy that he and May had done their sightseeing earlier in their visit to Sootopolis. Turk's claw began to glow brightly as he raced forward toward Santiago, swinging hard.

"Santiago, use your own Brick Break!" Juan said. Santiago's claws glowed the same way as Turk's but he moved just slightly faster than his red counterpart. So, despite Turk starting his attack faster, the two Crawdaunts hit each other at the same time. Turk grunted loudly as he took a lot of damage, and it showed on the battle monitor as his HP dropped to a tiny sliver. Santiago, however, only dropped to about the halfway mark.

Damn, Dad wasn't kidding about not underestimating Juan, this guy is an amazing battler, Brendan thought, but he couldn't dwell on that. "Turk, use Aqua Jet!"

"Santiago, use Crabhammer," Juan said as Turk surrounded himself with water and leaping at Santiago. Santiago's claws both began to glow brightly. Turk hit his opponent directly, dropping his health by only a small amount, but it would still help. Santiago, however, was done dealing with Turk. He pivoted slightly and slammed his claws into Turk's back, the buzzer sounding almost immediately as Turk was knocked out. Brendan recalled his Pokémon, his focus not wavering. He knew the consequences he would face if he did lose focus.

"Well, niño, it seems that you've got some good instincts in battle. I wonder how far that will carry you," Juan said, his expression bordering on a confident smirk.

We have more than that, Gwen said. We'll win this for sure.

"Right, and to help me prove it, I choose Nikki!" he said, throwing her Pokéball out. The Slaking gave a grunt, showing her readiness to battle.

"I see. You take after your father. I should've been ready for something like this," Juan said with a chuckle. "But then again, you did recently defeat Norman, and that is no small feat. Let's see how you handle yourself."

"I agree, so I'll start it like this. Nikki, use Hammer Arm!" Brendan said, his passion for this battle clear in his voice. Nikki moved fast, closing the distance in two seconds as her arm began to glow. She swung hard, sending Santiago rocketing into the walls around the field. She snorted as the buzzer sounded again, making it clear that she meant to win this entire match.

Juan smiled and chuckled slightly as he recalled Santiago. "I see, you love battling a lot, don't you? It's clear from the way both you and your Pokémon are so passionate for what you're doing. I haven't seen that type of passion since Wallace was my student," he said with a smile. "Now, let's see if you can win this round. Go, Bagre!"

Brendan was shocked to see a Pokémon that looked like blue catfish with a yellow underbelly and a yellow "W" on his forehead, that dove into the water on Juan's side before sticking his head out so he could fight effectively. Brendan pulled out his Pokédex once again, needing some information. The image appeared and the device began to speak. "Whiscash, the Whiskers Pokémon. Type: Water and Ground. Whiscash is extremely territorial. Just one of these Pokémon will claim a large pond as its exclusive territory. If a foe approaches it, it thrashes about and triggers a massive earthquake. If Whiscash goes on a wild rampage, it sets off a quake-like tremor with a radius of over three miles. This Pokémon has the ability to predict real earthquakes."

I see, this should be interesting. There's no distinct advantage on either side, Brendan thought. Gwen just smiled. This was how she knew Brendan loved to battle. It wasn't with the life or death pressure that he'd been having almost exclusively recently. This was the Brendan she and May both loved so much. "Alright Nikki, start this with a Slash!" Nikki began to run again, albeit a bit slower as she felt the effects of Hammer Arm. As she approached the catfish.

Juan just gave a "tch-tch" sound to Brendan. "You should really be more cautious sometimes. Bagre, use Fissure!"

Brendan's eyes went wide as a massive crack formed in the field directly in front of Nikki, who was helpless as she fell into it. The crevice closed hard and then opened again, launching the unconscious Slaking into the air. It closed a final time as Nikki hit the field, the buzzer sounding immediately. Brendan was in shock. Nikki was one of his strongest Pokémon, and she had just been beaten so easily. He recalled her, debating his next Pokémon. Clint could make this a quick win, but Brendan wanted to save him for later. The Sceptile would likely prove a good final trump card, but not just yet. So, he went with the one Pokémon he knew couldn't be hit by a ground type.

"Avery, come on out!" he said as he sent out his Latias. The Eon Pokémon cooed happily and went through her usual routine of flying to Brendan and nuzzling him sweetly. "Hey, I know, I missed you too. Are you ready to win some battles?" Avery gave a soft coo and a nod. Brendan smiled as she turned toward Bagre.

"So, niño, you brought an Eon Pokémon. You are truly quite the trainer. Let me see just how well you two work together," Juan seemed more intrigued than before.

"Then we won't disappoint. Avery, use Dragon Pulse!" he called. Avery reared back and fired off a beam of purple and green energy at Bagre. Bagre dove to try and dodge, but it was useless. The attack was already too strong as it split the water almost like a biblical scene, and the beam hit the Whiscash. It dropped his health significantly, almost making it turn red on the screen, while the water settled back into place. "Great, now use Psychic!"

"Hydro Pump!" Juan said. Avery began to glow as Bagre opened his mouth. Just as Avery gripped her target, Bagre fired a massive torrent of water. While it didn't do much to her damage-wise, it threw off her concentration. Bagre broke free of the Psychic attack, taking only minimal damage from the attack. Even so, he was starting to slow down, his fatigue apparent.

"Well, that was well done, my boy. You should be proud, but you still have a long way to go," Juan said. "Now, Bagre, use Ice Beam!" The Whiscash leapt from the water and fired a beam of freezing energy at Avery.

"Dodge, then use an Ice Beam of your own!" Brendan said. Avery was more than cheerful as she twirled around, causing the incoming attack to fly past her and hit the ceiling. She then fired a beam exactly like Bagre's, but it moved with much greater speed by comparison, hitting her target directly on his belly. Bagre groaned loudly and the buzzer sounded as he fell to the ground again, landing in a heap. Juan recalled his Pokémon and pulled out his next one.

"You're doing much better than most of my other challengers, especially with this being your final gym battle before the league tournament," Juan said. "But, I still won't go easy on you. Nor will Léo!" He threw his next Pokéball and sent out a large sea lion Pokémon. Brendan once again needed to go to his Pokédex for help.

"Sealeo, the Ball Roll Pokémon. Type: Water and Ice. Sealeo has the habit of always juggling on the tip of its nose anything it sees for the first time. This Pokémon occasionally entertains itself by balancing and rolling a Spheal on its nose. While the Pokémon is rolling something, it checks the object's aroma and texture to determine whether it likes the object or not." Brendan chuckled a bit. Sealeo definitely sounded like a fun Pokémon, but his impression of the one in front of them now was that he meant business and only business.

"I suppose I'll keep the ball rolling. Avery, use Thunderbolt!" Brendan said. Avery launched a spiraling stream of electricity directly at Léo.

Juan would not let his Pokémon lose so easily. "Léo, use Sheer Cold!" The Sealeo reared back, and for the second time in this match, one of Juan's Pokémon fired off a one-hit K.O. attack. Avery, knowing that her losing would make it much harder for Brendan to win this gym match, boosted her attack power by using a fast Calm Mind. The two attacks collided and vied for dominance. In the end, they just exploded in the middle, creating a cloud of dust and smoke.

"Avery, now's your chance! Use another Thunderbolt!" Avery was faster in firing her next stream of lightning, and this shot hit Léo before he had a chance to dodge or even react. The buzzer sounded after a few seconds as the attack finished off the Pokémon.

"Very well, it seems you've come to my final Pokémon. He will not go down without a major fight," Juan said. "Go, Rey!"

Brendan almost groaned when he saw the final evolution in the Horsea line dive into the pool on Juan's side of the field. He knew that Kingdra was a powerful Pokémon, with Clair in Johto also having one on her team. It was one of those Pokémon that trainers almost universally wanted, but very few ever actually got.

"I see, so dragon against dragon? Seems fitting," Brendan said.

"Indeed, niño, but you are about to find that one of our dragons is stronger than the other by a significant margin. Rey, use Dragon Dance!" Kingdra was surrounded with a red and black aura as his power and speed were both boosted.

"Avery, Calm Mind!" Avery was surrounded by a green aura and her special abilities increased.

Juan smirked slightly. "Dragon Rush!" Rey's body began to glow with a light blue aura before he dove deeper into the water before leaping and flying directly at Avery at incredible speeds.

"Dragon Pulse!" Brendan called. Avery fired her attack, but Rey had other plans. Rather than try to dodge and call of his attack, the Kingdra plowed right through the beam, losing about half of his health in the process. However, when he slammed into Avery and sent her plummeting into the ground, Brendan could see his reasoning. It was even more apparent when the buzzer sounded. Avery cooed sadly to Brendan, despite being just barely conscious.

"Juan, could I get a brief timeout?" Brendan asked. Juan nodded, understanding that Brendan was going to console his Pokémon. He knew from his few encounters with trainers and their Eon Pokémon that there was a strong bond between the Pokémon and the trainer.

When he got to her side, Avery looked at Brendan in a way that said she was about to cry. Brendan knelt down and gave her a hug. "It's okay, Avery. You were incredible out there. You battled with more heart than ever before, and I never thought a standard that high could be raised," he said. Avery cooed softly, rubbing her face against his cheek. "I love you too Avery. Now, get some rest. I promise that I will win this match."

He recalled Avery and walked back to where he had been standing, and thinking about whether he should use Clint or Gwen now. Oh, forget the debate with yourself, it's my turn, Gwen said as she walked out onto the field. Let's do this.

"I see, so it's time for your Gardevoir to take the field. I have been looking forward to meeting the one rumored among the gym leaders to be one of the strongest of her species in the modern era," Juan said.

"Well, we won't be disappointing you," Brendan said. Gwen, let's go mega! He touched his keystone and both it and Gwen's Gardevoirite lit up simultaneously. When their light beams connected, Gwen morphed into her Mega Form, smiling confidently.

Listen up Juan, we're here kick some ass and chew bubble gum, and we're all out of gum, Gwen said. Brendan face-palmed as she said that, and Juan started to laugh heartily at her joke.

I really should stop letting you watch so many quotable movies, Brendan said. But this isn't time to joke. I need you to use Hyper Voice.

Oh fine, Mr. Kill-Joke, Gwen said as she shouted loudly, sending a sonic wave toward Rey.

"Don't take advantage of when I'm distracted, that's not honorable," Juan said. "It seems that I must teach you a lesson, niño tonto. Rey, use Double Team, then Dragon Dance!"

Brendan got a bit nervous as the Kingdra began to multiply around the field like Gwen would usually do when facing a strong opponent. It was a bit daunting, but Brendan knew they could win, even after the Hyper Voice missed its mark. That was, at least, until Rey started to glow with a red and black, boosting his power and speed again.

Gwen, be careful. Use Calm Mind again, then use Shock Wave! Brendan said. Gwen smirked, knowing that Brendan had a plan to win this. She began to concentrate deeply, a green aura appearing around her.

Juan, however, had different plans. "Rey, end this round with Iron Head!" Just as Gwen finished gathering power, Rey launched himself out of the pool, the crown of his head glowing brightly like polished metal.

Gwen, Shock Wave, NOW! Brendan said with worry in his voice. Gwen managed to get off an attack, sending some powerful electricity in a ring. The Kingdra grunted as he was hit, but he kept going, slamming his head into Gwen's stomach, knocking the wind from her lungs. GWEN!

Brendan looked on with worry as Gwen's health bar dropped rapidly. S-sorry Brendan, I think I- the buzzer sounded as Gwen hit the ground and passed out. Rey, however, dove into the water again, his eyes showing determination.

"Gwen!" Brendan yelled with worry as he ran to her side. She reverted to her normal state just as he got to her. "I-I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have sent you out without knowing that he could use a Steel-Type move," he said with regret.

Gwen barely came back to consciousness, and smiled at her trainer, putting her hand on his cheek. It's fine, guess my luck of winning every battle I've been in has dried up, she said with a weak giggle. Now, don't worry about me. Just win this battle.

Brendan nodded as he picked her up bridal style and carried her back to his side of the field and set her down in a more comfortable position. He took a look at the screen, seeing that Rey was below half his health, and he saw that Jack's Sunny Day was still in effect thanks to the Heat Rock. Without a second thought, he threw out Clint's Pokéball, sending out the grass type.

"I see, so the niño had a Sceptile lying in wait. I'm glad to see you had a strategic fail-safe," Juan said. "But so do I. ICE BEAM!" Rey leapt from the water, firing a stream of icy energy.

"Clint, dodge, then use Solar Beam!" Brendan said. Clint leapt out of the way, but Rey was fast with adjusting his aim, hitting the Sceptile in his chest. Brendan was worried as he saw his Pokémon's health drop fast, but practically sighed in relief when it stopped just after it got to the one-quarter mark. Clint struggled to his knees, and, with the help of the Sunny Day, immediately fired off an incredible beam of green, yellow, and white energy, his aim perfect. The attack hit Kingdra just as the water dragon was about to re-enter the pool.

When the blinding light cleared, Rey was slumped against the far wall with a scorch mark on a large area surrounding him. The buzzer sounded, and Juan sighed. "I see. Your dance of battle was, indeed, superior to mine." The gym leader recalled his Pokémon and walked over to Brendan. "I am positive that you will do very well in the upcoming Pokémon League Tournament."

Brendan smiled confidently. "Thank you, Juan. I really enjoyed that battle. I'd definitely agree to a rematch if you ever want one."

Gwen stood up as he said that, her legs clearly unsteady, but she still stood nonetheless. And I promise you that I will be much stronger next time. Rey will not beat me as easily as he did, she said.

Juan laughed slightly. "I am sure that you will be." He pulled out a badge shaped like a trio of rain drops, handing it to Brendan. "I now confer onto you the Rain Badge, and the badge that qualifies you for the Pokémon League Tournament."

Brendan graciously took the badge, only to be turned around by his fiancée once he had it in his hand. "Well, that was a great battle. Deserving of another reward," she said before she kissed him briefly.

Brendan smiled. "Well, I think it's your turn to get back on the contest circuit," he said.

"Then I guess we'd better get back to the Pokémon Center and plan that out," May said.

With that, the trio said their farewells to Steven, Wallace, and Juan, heading to the Pokémon Center. Brendan helping Gwen walk back as they got out of sight.

"Well, Wallace, are you a bit nervous now? I get the feeling that you won't have your title for much longer," Juan said.

"The boy was good, I admit. But he has a long way to go before he takes the Champion title from me," Wallace said, smiling softly. "But he is a remarkable young man, Champion or not."

"That he is," Steven said. "I got that feeling from the moment I met him in Granite Cave, and he has yet to prove me wrong."

"Perhaps, but I think he will be surprised to find out that the champion title is pretty meaningless with a trainer as strong as you still around," Wallace said, referring to Steven.

Steven just smiled back. "Perhaps, but give it time…give it time."

Wow, I am so sorry that this took so long. I seem to have gotten into a habit of losing track of time with my other story, mixed with my classes and social obligations. I honestly haven't had that much time to write recently.

Anyway, I decided that my earlier choice to take a hiatus from FanFiction was a bit premature. I'm currently thinking of my next project, the basis of which will not be revealed until the last chapter of this story, but I promise you all that it will be incredible…and a lot darker than any of my current stories.

Anyway, as always, please leave a constructive review, and let me know what you think I can improve on. Until next time ~ jmoul18