Serena sat back in the hard plastic chair as her Eevee curled up in her lap. It cooed as the stiff-bristled brush worked its way through the soft fur, making short work of the few tangles and tufts as it came across them.

She looked down at her Eevee and smiled as she made the last few brush strokes through its bushy tail. "You really love being brushed," she said.

Eevee looked up at her and, and with a smile, replied with a happy "Veeeee!"

"Alright, Eevee," Serena said as she set the brush down on the chair to her left. "All done." She ran her right hand down the back of Eevee's head, giving it a quick, loving pat on the head as it stood up.

Movement caught the corner of her eye, and a loud commotion a second later pulled her attention away from Eevee. She looked up to see her other two Pokemon, Braixen and Panchem, standing in front of her, shoving each other as they argued.

"ENOUGH!" Serena shouted. Her high-pitched shout cut through the arguing, bringing silence to their corner of the Pokemon Center. "If you don't stop, you won't get brushed." Braixen, a tall, orange, fox Pokemon, and Panchem, a short black-and-white Pokemon that looked like a Panda, froze before disappointingly dropping their heads.

"Is everything OK, Serena?" she heard the familiar boy's voice ask.

"Yeah, Ash," she replied as she turned towards the voice. She briefly locked eyes with the raven haired boy in the blue jacket and red hat as he walked towards her. She felt a Vivillion emerge and flutter around in her stomach as she smiled at him. A short blonde-haired ball of happiness walked next to him, smiling. "You know how Braixen and Panchem get when they want to be brushed. Neither one can wait for their turn."

"Can I help, Serena?" the blonde girl cheerfully asked. "Then they don't have to wait or fight over who's turn it is."

"That would be great, Bonnie," Serena replied as the Eevee stepped off her lap, curling up in the chair to her right. "You can brush Panchem."

The black-and-white panda bear Pokemon let out an annoyed huff as it crossed it's arms and closed its eyes, turning its back to Serena and Bonnie.

"You like it when Bonnie brushes you," Serena said to her pouting Pokemon. She flashed a smile, and Panchem, sensing it, softened. "You will look great when she's done."

"Nurse Joy should almost be finished with our Pokémon," Ash said as he turned and started to walk away. "I'm going to go wait with Clemont. We will be back in a little bit."

Bonnie sat down in one of the hard plastic chairs on Serena's left and set her yellow shoulder bag on another chair. She reached into her bag to grab her brush, carefully avoiding the sleeping Dedenne and Squishy that were cocooned in the bag, as Panchem grudgingly walked over to her.

"OK, Braixen," Serena said to her first Pokemon. "Your turn."

Serena's phone rattled against the hard plastic chair, startling her as she tried to work the brush through Braixen's thick tail fur. She glanced over at the phone, and saw a stack of messages from Shauna, her friend and Showcase rival from Professor Sycamore's Summer Camp.

I'll look at those as soon as I'm done, she thought as she turned back towards her Pokemon.

"Almost finished," Serena said as she slowly worked the brush through the tip of Braixen's tail. The brush snagged a small clump of matted fur, and she expertly worked the brush to quickly remove it.

"There," she said. "All done. You look perfect, Braixen." She set the brush down on the chair as Braixen walked towards Eevee. She looked over at Bonnie, who was just finishing up with Panchem, and admired the work she had done grooming Panchem. She's getting really good at taking care of Pokemon, she thought.

She picked up her phone, unlocked it, and opened the messaging app. I wonder what's going on, she thought as she looked at the stack of new messages. She opened the thread from Shauna.

"OMG! You have to check your email," she read aloud. Her voice was flat as she read it, and she sounded more confused than excited as she continued. "I've been waiting all year for this."

"What are you talking about, Serena?" a surprised voice asked from behind them.

She turned to see Clemont, the blond-haired gym leader of Lumiose City and Bonnie's older brother, walk into the room. Ash stood next to him with his yellow Pikachu perched on his left shoulder.

"Shauna just sent me a text," she replied. "I'm supposed to check my email. I'm not sure what it's about."

Serena turned her attention back to her phone. She closed out of her messaging app, making a mental note to get back to Shauna, and opened her email app. "I wonder what's going on," she said as she tapped on the first email in her inbox.

This must be the email Shauna was talking about, she thought as she opened it. She ignored the attached files and skimmed through the first few lines, which were a friendly greeting to all of the Performers, until she came to a link to a video that they were supposed to watch.

She nervously tapped the video link, and it started to play.

"Dear Performers," a tall blonde haired man with a blonde goatee said. He wore a blue top hat and a blue coat, both outlined in a bright-blue glow from the electroluminescent wiring sewed into fabric, and a giant key hung around his neck. He carried a cane, and a Klefky sat at the top of it. "Bonjour! I am Pierre, your host. To our talented trainers who are rehearsing for their performances, I am thrilled to invite you to a special dance party."

"Huh?!" Serena uttered. "Dance party?"

"I want to give competing performers a break," he continued, "and do it in an elegant way. So come and enjoy, S'il vous plaît!"

"A dance party!" Bonnie said excitedly. "That sounds so fun!"

"However, in order to attend, I require one thing," Pierre said as the video continued to play. He flashed a wicked grin as his Klefky began to glide through the air around him. "All performers and their Pokemon partner are hereby requested to attend my dance party with a date."

She gasped as she paused the video. The word date echoed through her head as she glanced over at Ash, who had quietly moved to her side as they watched the video. She could feel the nervousness building in the pit of her stomach as she thought about asking him.

"So," Bonnie said, dryly, "you need a date, huh?"

The room suddenly felt warm as she closed her eyes. She could feel beads of sweat forming on her scalp, and her cheeks began to burn. Her mind drifted away for a second, and she found herself in a ballroom as Ash, dressed in fine formalwear, reached out as if asking her to dance.

"So you're going to go, right?" Ash asked. He put his hand on her shoulder, which pulled her back from her daydream, and when she opened her eyes, she was greeted with his smiling face.

"I…um…" she stuttered. She felt her confidence fade away as she thought about asking him to be her date, only to be replaced by anxiety.

Would he even want to go to a dance? she thought. What if he says no? Do I want to be around him when he tries to dance?

She silently chuckled at that last thought, remembering Ash's attempts at dancing when he tried to adopt Tierno's battle style. He was really bad at dancing, and despite her best efforts at trying to teach him, he didn't really improve.

"Why not?" she replied, nervously.

"You should totally go, Serena," Bonnie said excitedly. "It sounds like so much fun. I want to see you in a fancy gown! You'd look really pretty."

"Thanks, Bonnie," Serena replied. She felt her confidence returning with Bonnie's compliment. "Yes. I'm going to go."

She spotted Eevee curled up in the chair where she had been groomed, and she walked over to her. She knelt down to Eevee's level and made eye contact with her newest Pokemon.

"Eevee," she said. "You want to go? There are going to be lots of people and Pokemon there, but it will be a great experience."

"Eevee?" the fox Pokemon replied nervously. Serena could see her Pokemon thinking, and a second later, it nodded as it jumped to its feet. "Eevee!" it chirped, excitedly, with a nod..

"Great!" Serena said. "I think you'll have a lot of fun."

"The video said you and your Pokemon need dates," Clemont said.

"Hmm," Serena said. She looked over at Ash, and then to the yellow mouse Pokemon perched on his shoulder. I wonder if Eevee would be comfortable with Pikachu, she thought. But she never got the chance to ask.

"What about Bunnelby?" Ash said.

He realized what he said two seconds later when he caught Bonnie giving him the Are you kidding me? look that she usually saved for Clemont's gadget failures. He glanced over at Serena, and he saw a face weighed down with disappointment.

"That's a great idea," Clemont said.

He watched, horrified, as Clemont reached for Bunnelby's Poké Ball, and he let out the Rabbit Pokemon in a bright flash of light.

"Bunnelby," Clemont said as he kneeled down in front of his Pokemon, "would you like to go to a dance party as Eevee's date?"

Bunnelby turned towards Eevee, nodded, and then affirmatively grunted "Be!"

Ash watched as the implications hit Clemont seconds later, and he couldn't help but feel a bit jealous.

"Does that mean…" he started to ask, his face turning beet red.

"Clemont," Serena said with a slightly uncomfortable smile on her face. "Will you be my date?"

Ash sat quietly, deep in thought, on a bench next to the Pokemon Center's battlefield. Pikachu had taken over the after dinner training session hours ago, directing the other Pokemon through exercises and mock battles.

I should be happy for Clemont, so why is this bothering me so much? he kept asking himself. He thought back to all of the Coordinator dances and socials in Hoenn and Sinnoh. May and Dawn had asked him to go as a friend, but he had preferred to train with his Pokemon instead.

There's something different about Serena, he thought. Maybe I need to talk to someone else.

He reached for his phone, and he was shocked when he saw how late it had gotten.

It should be morning back at home, he thought as he sent off a quick text message. She should be up already.

The phone rang a few minutes later.

"Hi Dawn," he said. "I need some advice."

"I'm here if you need to talk," Serena read quietly. She stared at the screen, not knowing how to respond to Ash's text. He had sent it shortly after dinner, and she had ignored it until now.

I'm fine, she typed back. I'm just tired. It was a small lie, one that he probably would see through.

Why couldn't I just ask him? she thought as she set her phone down. She had been mentally kicking herself over this all day, and she had retreated to her room shortly after dinner to have some time alone. Her mind continued to run on overdrive as she replayed the morning's events.

Her phone buzzed. She reached over to pick it up, and she saw that she received another text.

"So are you bringing Eevee?" Serena asked aloud as she read Shauna's latest text.

Yes, she typed back.

Shauna's reply came a few seconds later. Eevee will look so cute! So did you ask him?

Serena stared at the phone. "Ugh!" she sighed as a thread of embarrassment crept through her thoughts. "Why does this have to be so hard?"

She ignored Shauna's last message and turned her phone off.