A/N: This is my first Pokemon fic, based on the MANGA, Pokemon Special/Adventures. A very canon Wallace/Winona, Gracefulshipping, whatever you want to call it. I love them - if anyone else knows any places where I can read/post any Wallace/Winona fics, please let me know, because there isn't enough of them on Fanfiction.
Anyway, this will be a six-part series of oneshots, focusing on their relationship. I keep it canon, but also invent a lot of backstory and assume some facts, just because I can. PLEASE, read and review and tell me anything at all what you think about this. I love reviews and will try to send as many responses as possible. RECENTLY EDITED - hence the extra chapter; this used to be 5 parts. If you've already read it, I've made nice changes, so give it another shot. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: This applies to this chapter and all future chapters as well. I do not own the characters, settings, or anything else you recognize. I occasionally even borrow direct dialogue from the manga in order to keep this as canon as possible. So all those things belong to whoever originally created them, and not me.
From the very first time they met, he was captivated by her. She was tall and slender, and it was obvious that she had not only trained her Pokémon, but herself as well, for she was steady on her feet even in the heavy winds - the wide, open areas around Mt. Chimney always had dreadfully intense weather. She had straight, lavender-colored hair, which fanned out behind her in every direction. Something flashed in her pale eyes that was both beautiful and intriguing.
Even from a distance, she looked strong, determined. Wallace walked over to her, slowly, watching her train – she had a unique sort of grace in the way she moved with her Pokémon. The young Swablu flew in tight circles and dived every time the girl flicked her wrist, the timing and accuracy getting better each time. She smiled at the little bird each time it performed well.
"I didn't think I'd see anyone up here," Wallace said cheerfully once he reached her, extending his hand. "Much less someone so beautiful. I'm Wallace. And you are?"
The girl jumped around and stared at him, obviously just now realizing that he was there. Her Swablu fluttered at once to her shoulder. Cautiously, she took his hand her gaze confused and guarded. "Winona," she said. "I'm from Fortree."
"Fortree? Isn't that miles away?"
She nodded curtly. "I'm exploring on my own for a while. I love it there, but it's always good to get away."
Every tiny movement she made, every little gesture, was oddly elegant. For some reason, Wallace found that he couldn't take his eyes off her. He smiled. "How long have you been away?"
Perhaps if she smiled, he could discover what it was about her that fascinated him so.
"Six months," she said, looking at her Swablu. "It doesn't feel like that long, though. Most eleven-year-olds have been on trips for longer, after all." There was a clear tinge of bitterness in her voice now, but before Wallace could say anything, she shrugged and looked back at him. "I'm nineteen. I started just a little bit late, you could say."
"Age is of no importance. I myself am twenty-three - I've never been east of Mauville."
"You have a long way to go, then. If you ever decide to visit Fortree, let me know. Maybe I'll go visit at the same time."
"Was that a clever snub to this conversation? I think it was, dear Winona. I'll just go, then. It was nice meeting you."
"No, no, I wasn't ending the conversation – you can stay," she said hurriedly. "He's a bit strange, isn't he?" she murmured to her Swablu, probably under the impression that Wallace couldn't catch her words.
"I heard that," he said, and she snapped her head up, a carefully innocent expression on her face. "I'm not strange."
"Well, you are a stranger who just randomly introduced yourself to me in the middle of nowhere."
"I was being friendly. But, if you think I'm strange - "
"No, I appreciate it," she said seriously. She held out her hand again. "Honestly, I do. I need to keep training, but – it was nice to meet you. Now I'm snubbing our conversation."
Instead of shaking her hand again, Wallace bent and kissed it, missing her light, sudden blush. "I am heartbroken," he said as he stood up again. "But I'm sure I will see you again. I think we're traveling the same way."
Winona frowned at him. Looking each other straight in the eyes, they both raised their arms slowly and pointed in the same direction, down the same path. Wallace grinned, and after a moment, Winona did too.
"I never thought I'd really end up traveling with someone," Winona muttered, covered in mud. "You know, I dreamed of meeting some nice, brilliant, talented, attractive, sensible guy on the road who would whisk me away and we'd live happily ever after in some quiet, secluded place where everything would be absolutely perfect. I did not imagine traveling with an idiot who drags us on and on even when it's raining so much that the path has turned into a river!"
Wallace grinned as she dashed under the thick canopy of some nearby trees. He followed her at a leisurely pace, squatting beside her over the wet ground. "How many of those criteria do I fit? And you don't like the rain?"
"You do?" she shot back. "And you fit two. I'm not telling you which ones. I wouldn't have thought you would want to get your fancy hair and clothes all wet. Look at you, all drenched and dirty."
"Mud is an inherent hazard associated with water. Just like you train Flying Pokémon, I train Water Pokémon – they are my specialty. The most beautiful Pokémon of all."
"Oh, come off it. Flying types are far more beautiful. Stronger, too."
Wallace titled his head, catching a brief sight of her teasing smile. "Is that a challenge, dear Winona?"
"Maybe it is, Wallace. It's simple enough to determine who is right."
A sudden gust of wind roared up and attacked their hiding spot, knocking Winona backwards into the mud. She growled angrily, making Wallace laugh as he helped her back up to a sitting position. Her backside was completely coated in an impenetrable layer of sticky mud. The tricky wind had brought more rain with it, too, soaking them both to the bone. Winona was right - Wallace's clothes were completely filthy - but he didn't really care. He leaned back against the tree trunk, watching Winona seething with anger at the whole situation.
"Mud, wind, rain, thunder, lighting, cold," she muttered irritably under her breath, but Wallace still caught her words. "This is ridiculous. Come on." She stood up very suddenly, bumped her head on a branch, which she tugged furiously off of the tree before walking straight out into thick of the storm, despite her shivering. She glanced disparagingly back over her shoulder when Wallace didn't follow her. "Come on, Wallace. We'll either get lost and die of pneumonia out here, or we'll find our way to a Pokémon Center where it's warm. Then we can make good on that challenge. I've never seen you battle."
Wallace scrambled to his feet and braced himself for the wind. "Sounds fine to me," he said, raising his voice so she could hear over the vicious gale. She started off and Wallace followed, both of them practically splashing with every step they took. Twice Winona slipped and almost fell again, but Wallace stayed behind her so he could catch her both times.
"How come you never slip?" Winona muttered as Wallace set her upright again.
"Practice. My old friend Steven and I used to run away from home every time it rained, because that was the only time that his parents wouldn't come after us. Rain was no harm, we always thought. But they seemed to hold a strange aversion to getting wet."
After what felt like miles, they reached a narrow pass between two towering, rocky landmasses that looked almost like miniature mountains. The rain was still pouring down hard, and Wallace paused for a second, unnerved. Winona turned to look at him, confused. "Come on. We must be almost there."
"Right," he said, starting off again. But something still caused an uneasy stirring in the back of his mind. He started to walk a little closer to her, and if she noticed, she made no comment.
Lightning shot across the dark sky, immediately followed by an echoing clap of thunder that seemed to make the very ground beneath their feet split at the seams, rumbling and shaking. In a split second, Wallace knew that something was wrong. The rocks around them were moving. They were trembling and scraping, and without any further warning, hundreds of solid stone boulders leapt away from the surrounding mountains and crashed downwards, followed by more shaking and more stones tumbling down from the cliffs. The entire rock face was falling, both in front of them and above them.
Winona shouted something, but Wallace couldn't hear over the sound of falling rock. Immediately he stepped in front of her, reached to his belt, and released his Luvdisc and Sealeo from their Pokeballs. "Elizabeth, Light Screen!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. "And quick - Ice Beam!"
His Pokémon followed his guidance at once. A glittering wall of power shot from Luvdisc's scales and surrounded Wallace and Winona, the avalanche of rocks and mud bouncing off as if the barrier were made of steel. Through Wallace's heart shot the thrill of battle, the cool ease that he had come to know so well clearing his mind of all fear and second-guessing. At his command, his Sealeo shot an ice beam straight forward, freezing every drop of rain along the way so that they became hailstones, slamming fiercely onto the barrier. But that one shot was so well-aimed that it also froze the entire passage and all the cliffs around them, immediately halting the falling stones and securing the collapsing mountains. The only thing Wallace could hear now was the gentle pitter of icy rain against Luvdisc's still steady barrier. Wallace relaxed, breathing deeply.
He whipped around, his heart suddenly pounding, to make sure she was still safe – if she had been harmed -
She was staring at him, her eyes wide and glittering with some emotion that he had never seen before. It was almost like fear, but somehow softer – a kind of apprehensive admiration, nothing like her usual bright pride and determination. Wallace couldn't bear to meet her eyes for long, not when she was watching him like that. Staring vaguely at the ground, he returned his two Pokémon to their balls with quiet thanks. When he looked back up, Winona was still watching him. But she had relaxed a little.
"I had no idea you were that good," she breathed. "That powerful."
"I – I have a good teacher," Wallace assured her. "His name is Juan. He's the gym leader of Sootopolis City. I have studied under him my entire life, and I have learned much."
She looked at him long and hard for another minute – a minute that felt like an hour to Wallace, then turned her head and looked at the solid wall of frozen rock in front of them. "Well. It looks like we'll have to find a different way to the Pokémon Center, then," Winona said practically.
But her eyes slid away from Wallace's when he tried to catch her gaze again. And she subtly shifted her arm when Wallace tried to place a hand on her shoulder, to stop her, to explain. Her pace was quick. Sighing, Wallace followed, his heart sinking with disappointment.
Was this bound to happen with every friend he ever made, every person he ever met?
Eventually, they did find a city with a place to rest, and they both huddled in front of a fire with warm cups of tea in their hands and thick blankets over their shoulders. Winona stared into the fire, the flames dancing in her soft lavender eyes. "Wallace?" she said suddenly. "I withdraw my challenge."
The disappointment settled further into Wallace's heart, now accompanied by regret. He knew it was hard for people to see such an impressive display of power – but he'd had no choice. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah." Winona looked up at him at last, and even though Wallace could tell some part of her was still rather oddly sad, she smiled, bumping her head against his shoulder. "I'll still travel with you, though. You've now got three out of my five criteria."
"Will you tell me which ones now?"
She stood, shook the blanket off her shoulders, set her tea down on the coffee table, and winked at him. "You lack the brilliance and sensibility."
She walked off, still coated in mud, leaving Wallace alone in the Pokémon Center lobby. But he smiled, his heart lifting a little, a few of his worries disappearing.
After months on the road, they reached the point where they both knew they had to part. Winona knew that Wallace needed to return to Sootopolis because his teacher, Juan, was ready to recommence Wallace's training. But Winona wanted to explore, see every inch of Hoenn's territory, meet every type of Pokémon, and hone her skills all on her own. Part of her burned with jealousy that she didn't have Wallace's battling ability, the expertise that he seemed to claim so effortlessly - but that envy disappeared quickly, overridden by a strong aversion to their imminent parting.
Despite herself, she realized she'd grown to like this man. Perhaps a little too much, noted a sly, bitter voice in the back of her mind. Winona sighed, closing her eyes tight and shaking her head to rid herself of such troublesome thoughts.
They had both avoided the subject of parting ways until the very last minute – until they reached the crossroads that would turn them on different directions. Winona stopped and glanced over at Wallace, who was already facing her, smiling.
"I never thought you'd look so sad. I thought you'd be glad to be rid of me."
"Come off it," she said, returning his grin. "Let's just say I've gotten used to you." She held out her hand, but again, Wallace did not grasp it with his own. Instead, he lifted it with a regal flourish and kissed her fingertips, watching her as he did so this time. With effort, Winona forced herself not to blush.
"I hope we meet again, Winona," Wallace said as he straightened. They were standing very close now, so close that she could feel warmth emanating from his body, so close that she could see the sincerity in his clear eyes. "No, I know we'll meet again. I'm glad you allowed me to travel with you. Perhaps someday, I will make my way to Fortree City. Only if you are there, of course."
Winona shook her head in exasperation, but she couldn't stop herself from smiling and looking up at him. A sudden breeze whirled around them, lifting her long hair and tangling it so much that it seemed deliberate.
"It was nice traveling with you, Wallace." This time, instead of extending her hand, Winona opened her arms - somewhat hesitantly - and let him hug her. Then she gasped as Wallace suddenly lifted her off the ground and twirled her in a circle, his arms strong and unyielding. Laughing, she grabbed his shoulders to keep herself steady in the air, then allowed him to lower her back down to ground, where they both stood cool and close in the summer air. Slowly, Winona dropped her hands from his shoulders, unable to understand the sudden, warm look in his turquoise eyes.
He stepped away first and waved, smiling tentatively. "I'm glad I met you, Winona," he said, already on his way.
Seized by sudden inspiration – and by some other emotion, that she refused to name or acknowledge – Winona ran to him, stood on her toes, and pressed a quick kiss to his cheek. "I'm glad I met you too, Wallace!" she called as she hurried back to her own path.
But the little summer breeze had abruptly picked up into much trickier wind, and she wasn't sure if Wallace had heard. He still stood where she had left him, one hand touching his cheek where she had kissed him.
Winona walked a little ways down the road, feeling warmth on her skin and flushed cheeks, but lonely coldness in her heart. When she looked back, Wallace was almost out of sight, nothing more than a nearly imperceptible dot on the horizon.