Chapter One: Slateport City– In which Drew meets May, and May competes for the first time.
- Contestshipping was my first OTP.
- I want this story to follow some canonical events from episodes, and other chapters will be things I made up. This one, obviously, will follow the episodes, "Now That's Flower Power!" and "Win, Lose or Drew!"
- To all my contestshipping homies out there, leave a reviews and feedback to let me know if I'm getting charatcer personalities right and if you like or hate the story. That's my biggest peeve in fics: when the characters get totally OOC.
"There's sand all over me," some kid shrieked while entering the lobby. "What was the girl thinking?!"
"It'll take forever to get all of the sand out of my hair," his female companion whined.
Drew Hayden, although largely uninterested, raised his gaze from PokéNav his seat to focus on the scene. He'd been reviewing footage of his Roselia's magical leaf for the contest coming in two weeks; an attack they both knew needed more work. He wasn't pleased with the colors he wasn't seeing in the attack, and he knew if he could nail it, it would mean big points for him in any contest.
This was his year; he would win the Grand Festival. True, he was just over a year in his coordinator experience, and he hadn't even entered the Grand Festival last year despite qualifying, but he vowed to himself that this year would be the year that he would win.
His first year in the contest circuit was all about practice; that was his choice after his first loss to Solidad. He'd spent the year traveling Hoenn while building his team, studying other coordinators, perfecting technical appeals and combinations and entering a few contests here and there. Though he qualified for the Grand Festival, he chose not to enter it. He attended, of course, but merely to observe. He had learned from his loss to Solidad that going into something with no prior knowledge was not how to win.
It was a long year for him, but he knew he needed it to become great. He rarely lost that first year, and now fresh in a new contest circuit, he felt more confident than ever. His experience combined with his Pokémon would take him all the way.
He'd chosen Slateport City as his first contest of the season, and he'd been working with Roselia on her combinations all morning, filming each attack to study it later. That was how he found himself in the main lobby of the resort. He was resting in a large sofa chair, bathing in the sunshine from the large glass walls beside him. The lobby had been practically empty, with only a few people passing through to make their way to the famous beaches of Slateport. Roselia taking a much-deserved rest in her pokéball while he reviewed the videos and came up with ideas in his head. He was totally focused until the two teens barged in, yelling complaints and spreading sand everywhere. It was an unwanted disruption, to say the least.
"Why was she even on our section of the beach?" the boy demanded, shaking sand out of his hair. "I'm pretty sure she's not staying here."
"She said something about training," the girl moaned shielding her eyes from the sand he was unconsciously throwing at her.
Drew pursed his lips and thought for a moment; there wasn't a gym in Slateport, so that meant…
"There's no way she'll win the contest, even with a gust attack as powerful as that," the boy commented. "I'm going to shower and change, I gotta get this sand off of me."
The girl nodded and the two shuffled off towards the elevators, some maids coming in to sweep up the trail of sand they'd left in their wake. It definitely was a high profile resort.
Drew locked his PokéNav up and mused to himself about their words. Clearly, it was just another rookie who didn't even have the potential to carry her through the preliminaries from the sound of it. Or even more to the point, another waste-of-time competitor who wasn't taking it seriously. Just a silly little girl wanting a shiny ribbon without understanding the significance behind it, not that she'd get it.
That bothered him, a lot. Coordinating was still fairly new in the world, with branches just reaching out to Kanto and Johto, or so he'd heard. But the point was that Pokémon trainers with their gym battles and leagues still ruled almost every region in the world, despite that tropical place...Alola or whatever it was called. They had some completely different system that he didn't care about enough to look into. Although there was the argument contests were finally gaining popularity in the world, it was still offensive to him to see so many new comers coming in and thinking they could be experts right off the bat. Even when he started out, he wasn't terrible. But the contest halls he'd observed more recently were full of clueless children competing, trying to earn appeal points with dumb props like batons and Frisbees. It was a mockery; at least, it was to him, and he intended to try to bring some respect back to his chosen path in whatever ways he could.
He shoved his PokéNav into his jacket pocket and made his way outside, the warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze in the air giving him some inspiration. As soon as he was done observing this girl, he'd try out Roselia's solar beam. The conditions were perfect and he was sure his starter Pokémon could fire off a spectacular one.
While approaching the railing overlooking the private section of beach, he spotted a Beautifly who definitely caught his eye. Its wings sparkled unlike any other Beautifly he'd ever seen before. Whoever controlled this Pokémon could easily pull off some stunning combinations, and the thought of that almost made him nervous. He had to force himself to look away when he finally got to the railing, and below the magnificent bug, a girl in a red bandana was kneeling in the sand with clenched fists and a frustrated expression.
He raised his eyebrows curiously. There's no way this could be the same girl the kids he'd seen were complaining about, could it? She had a beautiful Pokémon whose appearance basically radiated contest appeal.
She muttered something from the ground, but he couldn't hear what she said. Something about a silver wind? He cringed; a silver wind from a beautiful Pokémon as good-looking as her's could be dangerous.
One of the three boys approached her from behind, and Drew studied the scene before him carefully, as if he were studying a contest.
"Okay!" the boy encouraged the girl on the ground. "That just means you gotta keep practicing, right?"
"You're right!" the girl responded, her confidence seemingly restored. "So, Beautifly, one more time from the top!"
This was it; the girl rose to stand, a fierce determination taking over her entire being. Drew braced himself, expecting to see something spectacular. Part of him was hoping to see the silver wind. He wondered just how much it would shine in the sunlight and he–
Were those Frisbees?
The world made sense again.
This was definitely the girl he heard about; there was absolutely no doubt. Drew flicked his hair and waited for the opportunity to intervene. She hurled the three pink Frisbees at her Pokémon, calling for it to respond with gust. It did, and Drew, although frankly unimpressed with the mediocre choreography of it all, couldn't deny that the Pokémon had at least produced a powerful gust, sending those Frisbees soaring before gravity finally forced them back down. At least the Pokémon was brilliant, and he could always appreciate a great Pokémon. The coordinator, though…well, he wouldn't even call her that.
With luck, he could resolve that problem pretty quickly and get back to training. But Drew Hayden didn't really believe in luck.
She caught the first two with relative ease and some grace, and it was nothing short of destiny that one of the Frisbees was coming straight for him, giving him the excuse he needed. He caught it without even batting an eye, and smirked at the collective gasps emanating from the four on the beach.
"I'm sorry!" the girl was quick to shout, running towards him and clasping her hands under her chin in embarrassment.
Her voice was shaky, a little unsure of herself. Perfect. This would be easier than he thought.
"Please don't tell me you're planning on entering the Pokémon Contest with a cheesy move like that," Drew couldn't get rid of the smirk on his face even if he wanted to.
He spun the Frisbee on his finger for a few seconds before tossing it back down to her, shock and a bit of annoyance all over her face. When she didn't respond right away, he took the opportunity. He hopped over the railing, landing gracefully on the sand and walked coolly towards her with his hands stuffed in his pockets.
"You've got no finesse, no moves," he criticized.
It was working perfectly. He had to shove his hand in her face to halt her from jumping him, because he could practically feel the anger rolling off of her tiny shoulders.
"Who are you to tell me that?!" she demanded.
She didn't know who he was? All the more reason she shouldn't be a coordinator. He has built quite a reputation in his year of preparation; the only coordinator who qualified but didn't enter the Grand Festival. And it sparked a lot of discussion in the contest world. "Just who was this mysterious powerhouse coordinator who didn't even enter the biggest contest of them all?" the headlines had read. Practically everyone in the contest world knew who he was, and yet this girl in the red bandana didn't.
"If you must know, I'm Drew: Pokémon Coordinator," he added for emphasis.
"Really?" the boy in blue questioned. "That's just like you, May!"
Drew had to hold back hysterical laughter, but at least he had a name to match to her face. May.
"Please, no comparison," he remarked honestly. "You see, you and your Pokémon here, you've got no style."
She was practically fuming now. Drew made a mental note of how easy it was to aggravate her, and how funny it was as well.
"Hey!" she was yelling now. "You can make fun of me all you want but don't you dare make fun of my Pokémon!"
That threw him off for half a second, but he was careful not to let it show. She was clearly a terrible coordinator, but she did care for her Beautifly. That was respectable enough, he supposed. He had lost count of how many people he's met on his journey so far who were only concerned with what their Pokémon could give them, and not the actual Pokémon themselves. Maybe May wasn't totally hopeless as a person, but he had too many doubts about her as a coordinator.
Still, he had a job to do, and he was going to protect his passion from wannabes like May.
"Just calm down, little girl."
That did it; his hand shot out again to prevent her from advancing.
"Why don't you show us all of your great Pokémon?" the boy in blue provoked him, not that Drew cared much.
"Why?" he replied. "What good would that do? I think you children outta just be on your way. This is a private beach reserved for people, like me, staying at that resort."
There, that should have done it. Not only did he make it obvious they were unimpressive, but he also clarified that they weren't even allowed to be where they were. They finally turned to walk away. May seemed frustrated enough, and Drew assumed that would be enough to convince her to stay away from his contests. After all, why would she want to consider competing if she knew she had no chance of…
"I guess you're entering the Pokémon Contest, too?" she asked, turning back.
'Too?' She really wanted to enter? He had to laugh at that. No matter how pretty her Beautifly looked, she didn't stand a chance.
"Brilliant guess, genius."
She stared him down for a few more moments before finally turning away.
He watched her go, her Beautifly in toe and landing on top of her head as though to comfort her. He kept his smirk on his face until the group was out of sight, and when she was, it fell into a hard frown. He'd failed in his mission: clearly taunting this girl wouldn't scare her away. He'd just have to show her what she was truly up against.
He grabbed Roselia's Pokéball and released her. With a twirl and a slight petal storm surrounding her, she landed on the beach as he'd trained her to do in contests. She looked around her and then up to Drew, slightly confused.
"Let's go work on your solar beam, Roselia," Drew muttered, shoving his hands into his pockets and turning to climb back up the hill.
"Roselia, that last solar beam was phenomenal," Drew praised, patting her on the head and reaching for his PokéBlock dispenser.
They'd spent the last few hours out in the forest behind the resort, working on combining Roselia's solar beam and petal dance together. The last attempt was the closest they'd come to nailing it, but the petals just didn't flow around the beam as he'd envisioned. Drew was glad they still had two weeks before the contest to figure it out.
He was game to keep training, but he knew solar beam was a powerful move that took a decent amount of energy to pull off. Blasting a petal dance on top of it was a lot to ask of his Pokémon. She did it time and time again without complaint, but he could see her getting tired. She had always been a hard working Pokémon; she had never let him down.
"Here, Roselia," he smiled down at her, handing her some of her favorite Pokéblock.
She hummed her thanks and gratefully accepted the blocks, munching on them before Drew returned her to her Pokéball.
Once he'd left the beach, he walked past the resort down a marked path through the forest. He continued on until he found a small clearing next to a cliff, providing him ample space to bring out his Pokémon and practice. He was far enough away that he knew other people wouldn't disturb him in his practice. It was a beach day in a city known for its beaches, not a hike though the woods day.
After hours of practice, there was a lot of new footage to review on his PokéNav, and he was hoping he could figure out the right timing to call both the moves that would combine them but not outdo each other. That had always been his goal in combinations.
He was in the process of placing his PokéNav back into his pocket when he heard voices calling out.
"Good job, Torchic!"
Sure enough, Drew turned slightly, and discovered the very same group of trainers he'd encountered earlier that day, May front and center, staring up in horror. He followed their gaze up onto the cliff, where he noticed the tiny orange Pokémon clinging on to a branch with what he recognized as bluk berries. Now that caught his attention; bluk berries made excellent Pokéblock.
Before he gave it a second thought, he was walking up the side of the cliff to the branch, planning to take the bluk berries when the Pokémon – a torchic – started to fall.
"Beautifly, use string shot, now!" May had shouted before he could even react.
Her speed impressed him somewhat, and suddenly he found himself with an idea. If her reactions were that perfect, maybe she was at least a good battler instead of a performer, and he could use a good practice battle. The bluk berries fell at his feet as the torchic was wrapped and pulled safely out of peril, May hugging it and making sure it was truly okay.
"Huh, that last attack had some real art to it," he couldn't stop himself from saying.
"…Thank you," she bit her tongue, instantly remembering who he was and their less-than-pleasant encounter earlier that morning.
She instantly demanded he hand over the bluk berries, and he smirked, finding it comical that she expected him to just hand them over so easily. He hated to admit it, but he found this girl interesting, and was fascinated by the chance to see her battle seeing as he wasn't impressed by her appeals.
To his delight, she accepted his challenge, and soon they were standing a few yards apart, staring each other down. Drew hoped to accomplish two things with this battle: One, discourage her from entering the contest at all and two, win himself some berries that would make add extra gloss and shine to his Roselia.
She called forth her Beautifly, and Drew watched as its wings sparkled in the sunlight. He figured she must have wanted to rely on its natural beauty to carry her through the appeals, and the Frisbee act would work just fine. Oh, he'd show her just how wrong she was.
He flicked his hair out of his eyes and summoned Roselia again, who sparkled just as much as Beautifly had. He heard the praises of May's companions behind her; if they could judge the power of his Pokémon based on just looks, he knew he had this match locked down, despite the type-difference. That's how confident he was in his Pokémon.
"I'm not losing to you!" May declared.
"Thank please, ladies first."
"Beautifly, tackle NOW!"
A standard attack for sure, and he had to admit to himself he was a little disappointed. With how fired-up she was, he at least expected a silver wind…unless…
Unless her Beautifly hadn't mastered silver wind yet; he suddenly understood. And she felt like she had to prove that she was good at this type of thing even without flashy moves like silver wind. Still, a move as simple as tackle? Well, if she wanted to stick to basic moves…
"Roselia, use petal dance," he said evenly.
May didn't even think to call for a dodge, thus eliminating his theory that she might have been a good battler, and further proving his belief that she was just a doe-eyed girl who wanted to win a ribbon because her butterfly Pokémon was shiny. It was people like this who made him want to be rude; who he wanted to scare them away from contests so they could be taken seriously.
"Stun spore, Roselia!" he ordered next.
Beautifly went down quickly; he could hear the panic in May's desperate pleas, and he was growing bored.
"That was easy," he admitted. "I expected a lot more from you than that."
She sounded like she was on the verge of tears, begging her Beautifly to get up and continue the battle. It was like she didn't expect herself to do that badly, either. Her own self esteem was shattered. And Drew almost couldn't stand to see a scene so pathetic.
"Roselia, finish it off with magical leaf."
Over Roselia's cry signifying that she was charging up her attack, Drew could hear May's companions giving her advice, telling her to calm down. Something she definitely needed. And then, something snapped. Her expression shifted from one of fear to something harder; more fired up.
"Silver wind, Beautifly, let's go!" May suddenly exploded, just as determined as he'd seen her on the beach that morning.
Without warning, Beautifly shot up into the air, releasing a powerful and pristine silver wind at his Roselia. It caught Drew completely off guard, and he wasn't able to compose himself before a shocked, "no way" escaped his lips. The silver wind didn't let up; it actually sent Roselia flying backwards.
He was still recovering from his shock when the giant Meowth balloon appeared, two people on the top saying something that sounded like an over-rehearsed speech and stealing the prized bluk berries from the battlefield. He also noticed May and her friends were suddenly completely disinterested in the battle, focusing all their attention on the two stealing the berries.
"This battle is over," May informed Drew curtly. "We know someone who needs those bluk berries!"
Drew mused to himself for a few moments, and realized that the situation suddenly had nothing to do with the contest or coordinating at all. This was about them helping out a friend apparently, and he saw no reason why he couldn't help them out...and show off, just a little.
Drew was snapped out of his thoughts when a huge jolt of electricity – a thunderbolt attack – was launched at the balloon. The power was incredible; hard to believe it had come from that boy's little Pikachu. Still, the attack had no effect on the escaping thieves, and the they boasted about how their balloon was electric-proof.
Electric proof, maybe…but they didn't say anything about…
He looked down and Roselia, and she looked back up to him, nodding.
"SOLAR BEAM, GO!"
Roselia launched the most powerful solar beam she had done all day, and he beamed at his partner. Oh yeah, with this much power and beauty on his side, he had the upcoming contest wrapped up. But now wasn't the time for those thoughts.
"It was you?" May questioned in disbelief.
He smiled back at her; for the first time since they'd met, it had been genuine.
"Not sure what's going on, but happy to assist," he clarified.
"Alright, Pikachu, thunderbolt 'em again!" the boy in blue cried.
Drew smirked, turning his attention back to the balloon. He saw a rare opportunity: to combine a grass move with an electric move. Something he'd both never tried, and had never seen anyone else do, either.
"Roselia, solar beam!" he asked one more time.
His Pokémon happily complied, and the two attacks merged together in a blinding streak of pure energy. It wasn't as appealing as he'd hoped, but a powerful attack nonetheless. He'd have to think about it for a battle round sometime. Forever analyzing moves…
When the beam collided with the balloon, a huge explosion sent the three villains flying, and the bluk berries plummeting to earth. Out of no where, May's torchic took off, mindlessly diving off a cliff and grabbing the berries in it's mouth. The Pokémon was clearly as thoughtless as its trainer. The torchic blinked a few times, suddenly realizing its mistake.
All of them stood in frozen, horrified shock, watching helplessly as the Torchic began its descent. May was the only one to make a move.
"Beautifly, string shot!" May called, not missing a beat.
He didn't understand how she could be so quick to think on her feet, yet not pull off the same skill during a battle. If she learned to handle the pressure of battles that well, she just might have a shot of winning a few of them here and there. Maybe she could go into gym battling, because she definitely lacked the style needed for contests.
Once the Torchic was safely in May's arms, Drew knew the battle wouldn't continue, so he recalled his Roselia. He wouldn't force her to train again that day. Summoning so many powerful solar beams had to have left her exhausted, even if she hadn't showed it. Forever the performer, just like he was; he couldn't have asked for a better partner than Roselia.
"Thanks for helping us, Drew," she approached him slowly.
"No need to thank me," he told her, adding a hair flick for good measure; he couldn't give off the impression he had a soft side. "You know what? We'll battle in a real contest, that is, assuming you can make your way through the preliminary round, first."
He gave her a short wave, and turned to walk away.
"Count on it, Mister…" he was surprised to hear her say from behind.
Something about her words forced a smirk out of him. Maybe it was the thought that she had a chance against him. Maybe it was that he knew he could finally convince her the contest world wasn't for her on a real stage.
Two weeks flew by, and before he knew it, it was contest day.
He'd registered for the contest a week early, so he was content to stay at his resort hotel, watch his "competition" train openly on the beach, and do a little training himself here and there. But not that much; Roselia was in the best shape she'd ever been in. She didn't need that much practice.
Competition was a term he'd used extremely lightly when watching those kids on the beach, all of them just as hopeful as that girl…what was her name? The one with the red bandana? He hadn't seen her all week, and now on the day of the contest, he had not seen her name on the registration list. It was just minutes before deadline. Maybe she'd wised up and left town with her friends, opting not to sign up for the contest at all and abandoning the notion of Pokémon coordination all together. He didn't dwell; he'd simply went to the backstage waiting rooms and prepped his Roselia.
He'd laughed to himself more than a few times throughout the week watching the people around him train. Some of them brought out some decent Pokémon, but a majority summoned commoners like Zigzagoons and Seedots. Stun spores and growls filled the public beach day after day, and he couldn't even believe this was a real contest. But after his first year in the circuit, he'd learned that the serious competition typically turned up at the end of the season, approaching the Grand Festival.
He was heading down the hall back to the common room for the coordinators backstage from a bathroom run before the contest began. He always drank too much coffee in the mornings on contest days. That was when he heard voices coming from the spare locker room with the door open.
"Hey, May! May!"
He peaked his head around the door for a brief second, and sure enough, there she was. She was practically shaking, clutching her PokéBlock case and trying to convince her friends she wasn't nervous at all. As if. He could hear the tremble in her voice from out in the hall.
Her friends were doing everything they could to calm her down, and it seemed to well work enough. So he left it at that, and returned to the common room. If by whatever miracle she made it through round one, he'd discourage her in the battle round, assuming whoever she battled first did squash her first.
The first hour was as boring as he'd expected it to be: Shroomishes spreading spores, Wingulls doing flips in the air and Belossums dancing about. Nothing spectacular about any of the acts at all. The audience cheered, though; they were just excited to get the season started.
"Contestants 23, 24 and 25, please prepare for your appeals," some official announced in the room, reading frantically over a clipboard.
He rose, and walked through the tunnel as the girl before him, number 23, finished her performance: her Spinda pulling off an above-average sunny day. Definitely one of the better appeals of the day, but he was about to steal the show.
When his name was called, he casually strolled up to the center stage and let the spotlight rain down on him. He was definitely in his element, and he threw a smirk at the camera, knowing May was watching from back stage.
Roselia emerged from her Pokéball, elegantly floating down onto the stage waiting for Drew's command. He'd decided to keep his appeal simple; a flashy combination that would score him major points in such a basic contest. He'd save what he dubbed his 'real' moves for the bigger and more important contests.
"Use petal dance!" Drew called.
Seconds later, the entire arena was swarmed with sparkles, pink petals and the sweet smell of roses. It was perfect, but he wasn't done just yet. He had every intention of showing the newbies what a proper stun spore was, which was the move he called next.
Roselia launched into a fast-paced spin, firing golden dust out.
"Add magical leaf!"
The glowing leaves sailed through, spreading the glittering air all throughout. He knew he'd already done more than enough to lock a solid score, but he had a point to prove. So he called for his big finish.
"Petal dance!" he ordered once again.
Just like they'd practiced, Roselia summoned so many petals, she was lost to all those watching the act. Only Drew knew where she was, which was how he knew exactly to time his final move, magical leaf.
The petals shattered, creating even more shine and aroma in the stadium. When his Roselia reappeared, she'd been posed in the same position he was in, both bowing and thanking the audience for their presence. The crowd went absolutely nuts, and everyone in the building knew this was no rookie coordinator like the ones they had been seeing that afternoon so far.
The 29.4 he'd been awarded was good, and he was proud of it. He didn't expect a perfect score, because he hadn't tried hard enough for one. But he didn't need to. He'd sail through the preliminaries, guaranteed.
He found her in the same place he'd last seen her, but this time, she was alone. He friends were no-doubt kicked out by the officials. After all, they weren't competing, so they didn't really get to stay backstage.
Now that she was by herself, she looked even more shaken up than before. She kept her eyes downcast, no doubt afraid to keep watching the TV screen to see the competition after his performance. Her Beautifly was faithfully resting atop her head, probably hoping to comfort her. It didn't seem to be working.
"Yo," he greeted her easily. "I see you made it."
"Hello, Drew," she responded quietly.
No witty remark, no comments about his performance. He'd have to work to get something out of her.
"I trust you caught our performance," he taunted. "That was some true art."
That did it. She inhaled sharply, her nerves twisting into fury.
"What do you want?" she demanded. "Did you just come here to brag?"
"No, as a great coordinator, I came here to cheer you on," he lamented. "See, I want you to at least make it through the preliminary round."
"Well then just watch me, oh great one!" she fired back, standing up to meet his height.
Before he could reply, they were both cut off by the sounds of the crowd going wild again; just as much as they had for Drew's performance. That drew both their attention quickly.
He was stunned when he saw the Milotic on the screen, glowing green with a shimmering safe guard. The whole stadium was in awe of the dragon. Even May managed to comment on how beautiful it was and Drew bit the inside of his cheek. This coordinator, Robert, was definitely a wildcard he hadn't anticipated. He'd have to be careful.
Drew wasn't surprised to learn that May had been slated as number 50 in the contest, literally the last spot on the roster. After all, she'd shown up with barely enough time to sign up.
"Number 50, please make your way to the stage!" the same official announced in the common room, loud enough to be heard from the other locker room Drew and May were both in.
"Oh," May breathed, her lip twitched. "Number 50, that's me…"
"About time," Drew yawned. "I was starting to think you weren't really registered. Well, they're waiting. Go on out there and give them a show."
He smirked and flipped his hair, but May stayed glued in place. The poor girl looked like she was going to have a panic attack.
"Where do I go?" she practically whispered.
It took almost every fiber of Drew Hayden's existence not to burst out into tears of laughter at her question. She didn't even know how to get to the stage. She was going to be X-ed out in the appeal rounds, no doubt. So much for battling her agian, but he supposed it was for the best. This girl clearly wasn't cut out for the coordinator life. He'd never been more sure of that fact until that moment.
"Come on, it's this way," he said.
She stood up slowly, almost reluctantly, and followed him down the corridor to the tunnel that led out to the stage. She took one last look at him before she walked out in front of the crowd, anxiety dripping from her every step. Instead of returning to the common room, he waited at the tunnel, determined to watch her compete firsthand and not on a screen.
As per the tradition of contests, every first-time coordinator got an introduction. Vivian guided May to the center stage to do so.
"This is May's first time participating in a Pokémon Contest, so let's give her a warm welcome and watch her Pokémon's elegant entry," Vivian announced.
He studied her then, as if he were watching serious competition. This was what it all came down to: this was her moment to impress him, and if he were being honest with himself, he was hoping for something better than what he was expecting. It was clear she was going to use her Beautifly, so maybe she could…
Drew almost couldn't believe his eyes. Before she could even release her Pokémon onto the stage, she slipped and went straight down. Her first appearance in a contest ever, in front of over a thousand people, and she had fallen on her ass. He should have expected as much.
The whole stadium was silent. It was like a bad omen: there's no way she'd recover from that. He didn't know much about her, but he already knew she was overemotional. He was expecting her to leave the stage after that and never do anything with contests ever again.
But she didn't.
May got up slowly, confirmed she was okay, and released her Beautifly onto the stage with her, the Pokémon's wings catching even the tiniest bits of light and reflecting magnificent colors.
The second he saw the Frisbee in her hand, he laughed to himself. Was she really going to try that whole gust-Frisbee catch thing again? Even after he told her how lame it was?
She surprised him, just like she had when she'd pulled off that silver wind. She ordered for a string shot, and her Beautifly complied, using its web like a whip, sending it straight back to May. She wasted no time in catching a releasing, throwing in 'again!' commands in between. And it was…impressive.
Not the Frisbee act, of course. Just the idea itself was about as lame as they come. But what amazed Drew was hoew in sync she was with her Pokémon. They worked together in perfect harmony, neither missing a step and totally focused on each other.
Even more so, Drew noticed she wasn't focusing on her Beautifly's appearance. A standard coordinator would have shown off Beautifly's looks in their appeal for sure and would have made it the center of the performance, because that was the safe and obvious choice. But by showing off the appeal in their relationship…well, whether she realized it or not, it was smart. And he, as a great coordinator, had to admit he could appreciate the sentiment.
How on earth was this that girl he met on the beach two weeks ago, completely unsure of herself and unaware of what she was doing? She was a completely different person when she was on the stage, and it fascinated him. So much so, he didn't notice his mouth hanging open while he watched them.
"Ready for this, Beautifly?" she asked, her face steely but her eyes a little distant.
That meant something bigger was coming. Drew inched a little closer.
She called for a return with gust, and Drew found himself holding his breath. Last time he'd watched her try this trick, she'd failed. He didn't know if two weeks was enough time for her to perfect that. The Frisbee came flying back at her, the high rate of speed carrying it. She grabbed it and – although she almost dropped it – managed to catch it. He saw her exhale in relief. He himself did the same.
Just when he thought she was done, she called for a spinning silver wind, which confused him. Silver wind was a great move, especially in contests, but that was if you focused your entire appeal on it. Or your other moves had the same visual effects. Her Frisbee act in the beginning didn't match the tornado of shining light her Beautifly had created in the center of the stage before them. Although it was a gorgeous ending to her first appeal, none of it had flowed together; her two move sets had been completely unrelated. He knew her points would suffer for it. That wasn't him being cocky or rude or anything of the sort; that was him being logical, with more contest experience than almost everyone here.
Still, both moves separately were nice enough. Beautifly landed gently on her head while May posed with her arms held out, giving the illusion that she had marvelous wings of her own. It signaled the end of her performance, and he hummed to himself. She'd done much better than he anticipated.
"What do ya know?" he smiled to himself. "That wasn't too bad at all."
The judges awarded her with a 24.9, which, with all technical things considered, wasn't horrible. It was one of the higher scores he'd seen all day. But her face fell, meaning she was hoping for something higher. If she could have found a better rhythm, she might of had a better shot at a higher score.
He turned to walk back to the common room while the judges gave their commentary, summoning Roselia out of her Pokéball on the way.
"Roselia," he said as the pair walked. "I need a rose, please."
The common room was full of nerves as everyone awaited the final decisions of the judges. No one noticed her when she walked in, sitting down on a bench and sighing.
He took his chance.
The rose Roselia had given him was perfect: thornless and a deep shade of red. He noticed just how it matched her bandana as he held it out before her. She looked up at him, eyes wide and a bit taken back.
"A good performance, May," he explained.
Someone whistled in the background. He ignored them. She didn't seem to notice.
Her eyes lit up like he'd never seen before, and she looked the happiest she had all day. He knew what that meant: false hope, which he was not trying to instill at all.
While she thanked him, he noticed the blush that dusted her face, and red flags shot up in his head.
It instantly occurred to him that he might have given her the wrong message.
"Not for you; it's for your Beautifly," he covered himself. "It's obvious that the coordinator still has a lot of training to do."
The happiness was gone almost as quickly as it came. The fire he was so used to seeing from her blazed behind her eyes.
"Well I guess we can't all be as good as you," was her rebuttal.
She glared at him as he simply flicked his hair, planting his feet and not moving away from her. That drove her crazy, but she didn't get rid of the rose. That either meant she still appreciated it, or she kept it in spite of him. He didn't care much either way.
It was a full four minutes of silence between stood between them. She was fuming on the bench next to him while he just stood there, loving it. Honestly, he was waiting for her to walk away, but she never did. May held her ground, and he stood his.
Vivian's voice echoed through the common room as she reappeared on the screen. The commercial break had ended and she was ready to announce who was moving on to the battle rounds. May shot up next to him, her hands clasped together and shaking.
He didn't know what surprised him more with the results: the fact that she'd made it into the top eight, or the fact that he had come in second. The coordinator with the Milotic, Robert, had beaten him. It was a bit of a blow to his confidence, but he couldn't let that show.
"You made it…" he admitted. "Because…"
"I know, you wanna say it was all because of Beautifly," she shot back, but she couldn't maintain the anger in her face, too elated to be thorough. "Who cares?! My Beautifly and I are moving on to the secondaries!"
The pictures on the screen disappeared, being shuffled to match up the trainers for their battles. When they settled on the screen, Drew couldn't contain the snort that ripped from his throat.
"Don't tell me," she begged, as if it could change anything.
"Me against you?" he laughed. "That'll be fun."
He didn't need to face her to feel her glare on him. So he walked away from her, chuckling at how perfect this all was. Their battle was first, so it'd be over quick. Then he wouldn't have to waste any more time on this girl and he could completely focus on his season. Besides, he had Robert to worry about.
They met again on the battlefield, Vivian explaining the rules and the time limit. Five minutes? He'd only need two, if that.
When she'd summoned her Beautifly once again, for what he assumed would be the last time he'd ever see it, he called out his Roselia. From their earlier battle, he already knew the type difference wouldn't matter.
He didn't give her the courtesy first move he extended to her in their last battle; he called the first attack instantly.
"Magical leaf, Roselia!"
May did exactly what Drew expected her to do: she called for a gust hoping to disperse Roselia's attack. Such a novice.
The leaves hit Beautifly straight on, despite being delayed for a second or two before straightening out on their path to hit Beautifly. May hadn't even called for a dodge or another counter. She was battling worse than the last time.
"You see, magical leaf is the kind of attack that always hits its mark," Drew explained. "You could never repel it with a simple gust. I'm sorry to have to tell you that."
A huge chunk of her points vanished. Drew kept the momentum going.
"Roselia, stun spore!"
Her counter was to call for string shot…what on earth was she thinking? What kind of comeback was that? This was pathetic, and it almost embarrassed him to have to participate in this battle in front of so many people. She had successfully proved one thing: she wasn't worthy to face him.
"Magical leaf!" he called again, the string shot being cut instantly and easily.
That was the last straw for May; she switched into full on desperate mode. She called for silver wind: her best move. Although flashy and pretty to look at, it was easy to stop. Roselia stopped the silver wind by simply firing off her famous petal dance. Somehow, May managed to call for her Beautifly to dodge.
It was clear that May wanted to finish the battle quick when she'd hastily fired off her silver wind; a wish that Drew would grant, because it really wasn't fun battling someone so inexperienced.
The adrenaline of battle was kicking in, and Drew was no longer in the mood to play around. He was there to prove a point to this girl, not to play around with her. The hilarity of it all had worn off. His smirk was gone, as well as his playful attitude. This fight was a complete joke; he'd never been in an easier fight in his life. Almost anyone could see that, and it was annoying that she still thought she belonged here.
This was his stage. This was his contest. This was his ribbon. This was his season.
He was going to become a Top Coordinator, no matter what. And no one was going to stop him. He'd take down anyone ruthlessly, especially inexperienced children who thought they could just come in and undermine the importance of the contest circuit.
What May hadn't realized is that by sending her Beautifly up into the air to dodge, she'd left her Pokémon wide open for one final attack.
Drew ordered a solar beam, knowing May wouldn't counter in time. She weakly tried a string shot – whatever that was supposed to do – but it was too late. Roselia fired off the signature grass type move, both devastatingly powerful and blindingly eloquent. It hit its mark directly, and Beautifly went down, unable to continue the fight.
He watched May from across the stage as she fell to her knees over her Pokémon, on the verge of tears and all. Really? Tears? This was no place for amateurs, and no place for tears. He'd learned that the hard way himself once before. So with a final flick of his hair and a bow, he left the arena, off to wait for his next battle.
He wasn't surprised when May didn't return to the common room, but her saw her shuffle awkwardly into the private room she'd been in when he first found her in while on his way to his next battle with Robert. She was crying, and berating herself to her friends.
That was that, he'd thought to himself; she'd never touch a contest again. Not only could she not handle one loss without breaking down, but her entire performance had been weak. And the way he'd ended the battle without losing any points at all was probably a wake up call for her. It wasn't that he was completely over confident like she'd though; the simple fact was that he was good at contests, and she was not. There had to be some embarrassment on her part with the way she did today.
Drew had also lost the first contest he'd ever competed in, but at least his first ever appeal score was a 28.6. At least he made it to the final round against who would become one of his best and only friends, Solidad. And at least he'd managed to get Solidad's points down to the halfway mark by the end of the battle. He had started off strong, and he'd only grown stronger since that day.
May seemed like the type of person to walk away from whatever had discouraged her.
He'd never see her again, so he pushed the thoughts out of his head and made his way to his battle with Robert.
The battle was grueling, and not in a good way.
Drew had always enjoyed going up against coordinators who could give him a challenge. Robert was the exception. Perhaps it was because he'd underestimated everyone here at this contest. He'd spent so much time obsessing over putting May in her place and laughing off the novelty of coordinators in the contest overall that he hadn't properly prepared himself nor his Roselia to face off against Robert's Milotic.
And he paid for it. Hard.
Robert seemed to have come out of nowhere. Drew had never seen him before in any contests or read about him anywhere. He just appeared, and he dominated the battlefield. His Milotic was the very definition of power and grace, the ultimate combination to win a contest.
He hadn't even gotten a full quarter off of Robert's points by the time the five-minute battle had ended. He was just happy with the fact that his Roselia had even managed to fight that long with some of the attacks she took. Still, he took the loss hard. And he stayed until the end to study Robert's technique in the final battle of the contest. The kid who went up against Robert in the last round did worse than Drew.
When the judges handed Robert the ribbon, Drew took that as his queue to leave. That ribbon should have been his, easily.
Drew learned right then and there that the contest season would be full of wild cards, and he could underestimate no one. Although he was relieved Solidad wasn't competing in the contest circuit in Hoenn that year, that didn't mean he wouldn't go up against other talented coordinators.
Despite this, he still had over eleven months and tons of contests to earn his five ribbons, so he wasn't worried at all. But that didn't mean he wasn't going to be training the entire time, either.
He was the first one out of the contest hall, much to his content. He didn't want to get stopped by anyone: no reporters or fans or anything. The empty courtyard in front of him was a blessing. He wanted to get to his hotel room, order room service, and give his Roselia a break before they left Slateport the next morning.
It seemed he was in the clear when he heard his name called from behind.
He stopped in his tracks, turning to surprisingly find May chasing after him, her friends in toe. She seemed a lot more calm than she had been a few hours ago, the shock of her loss finally absorbed, he supposed.
"What is it, May; you want a rematch?" he teased, hoping she wouldn't throw his own loss in his face; he was embarrassed enough as it was, and he was going to make up for it.
"Next time, I won't be the loser," she smirked back at him.
What? Next time?
She still wanted to compete? She wanted him to know she planned on competing? Wasn't her loss to him earlier that day enough to scare her away? He couldn't believe it.
"Oh yeah?" he responded dumbly, totally taken off guard by her confidence, but he recovered quickly enough. "We'll just see. Of course, I'll be a lot stronger, too, remember?"
He said it like a warning, as if he was giving her one last chance to back down. Turning to walk away, he threw a short wave over his shoulder and his smirk fell. He found himself totally at a loss for words.
This girl with a red bandana…she was an enigma. She barely had anything going for her; all she had was a pretty Pokémon and an unfathomable amount of determination, with a short temper to pair. Everything else she had shown him gave him nothing but doubt regarding her abilities to make it very far. Maybe she'd win one or two ribbons this season, if she was lucky and if she could improve her contest performance overall.
Her appeals needed work; her battling even more so. She was disorganized and unconventional, to say the least. She had shown some improvement and potential in very short spurts, only to stumble almost immediately after. One step forward, four steps back for sure. In truth, she could have potential if she were to train her Beautifly better. But Drew was sure she'd never, ever be a threat to him, his title, or his ribbon cup.
Then, after a hard season, she'd surely quit. One loss might not have been enough to discourage her like he'd originally hoped and/or assumed, but multiple losses would beat it all out of her. She'd abandon the dream when she saw how brutal some coordinators could actually be, just as many other rookies he'd seen before had. The contest circuit was unforgiving that way.
His hands clasped together behind his neck as he walked. The sunset was painting the sky of Slateport City a multitude of different colors. A gentle breeze rustled past him, carrying the smell of salt water from the beaches. The next morning, he'd leave this place, onto the next town and the next contest. And he idly wondered just where May and her three friends planned to go next. Or where she would lose next, to be more accurate.
May would learn, and he had been her first lesson; of that, he was sure. Drew Hayden had never been more certain of this one, absolute truth: he'd forget her quickly.
He'd forget that girl with the red bandana.
He'd forget May.