You Know What They Say. For AAML's Contest.
They had been fighting all morning. Initially, it was nothing serious; just pointless bickering for the most part. In fact, if someone had asked them what they were even arguing about, neither would remember. Although, chances were it started with a sarcastic comment on his part and then spiraled out of control with a biting remark of her own. Nevertheless, as the pair continued to make snide jabs, they grew increasingly annoyed and more likely to strangle each other.
Needless to say, it was not a very good atmosphere—for them or for the surrounding coordinators. Thus, both were now waiting for their turn in the appeals round of the Violet City Contest in the hallway, because Harley had kicked them out of the coordinator lounge, saying they needed to solve their "lover's quarrel" before they could come back in.
"Ugh! I can't believe this!" May said in exasperation. "Solidad's probably doing her appeal right now and we're not able to see it because Harley's locked us out..." Drew flicked his hair casually.
"Well, it's your own fault for yelling. I would've kicked us out, too."
"Excuse me, but I believe you're the one who started this—this whole thing!" she stammered, pointing her finger at him accusingly. Drew looked irked, but before he could reply, the sound of Johto Contest announcer Adrian's voice chimed in on the intercom.
"A fantastic combination! Lapras's Ice Beam freezes over the waves created from Water Pulse, creating a unique, yet beautiful display!" May looked sorely disappointed upon this announcement.
"Well, sounds like she did well," Drew said dryly.
"I know, and we missed it," May sulked. Their bickering picked up again shortly thereafter.
The crowd erupted into cheers, and Solidad smiled warmly, allowing herself and her Pokémon a few seconds to revel in the moment as the judges' scores were being calculated on the large video board above the stadium. After a few further seconds of delay, the final number "98" was emblazoned on the screen.
"An excellent score that's tough to beat! Nothing less than the best from the Kanto region's Top Coordinator."
"Lapras, return!" Solidad said after a while, recalling her beloved Pokémon into its Pokéball. The pink-haired coordinator then gracefully exited the arena as a bright-eyed young girl from Cherrygrove nervously scuttled past her to take the stage. Solidad shot the girl an encouraging look as she walked by, causing the girl's ears to turn pink in embarrassment. Solidad chuckled a little bit. The girl was obviously a first-time coordinator.
"Sentret, I choose you!" the girl cried aloud after Adrian gave her the OK to begin. Solidad paused and watched the girl awe the crowd with her Pokémon's cuteness. The girl was obviously thrilled she had elicited such a positive response. Solidad felt the edge of her lips tug upward. The girl's combination of determination and nervousness reminded her of a couple of young coordinators she knew well; both had acted the same way when they were first starting out, too. Since then, however, they had matured their talents and become tough competition for Solidad.
And she couldn't have been more proud.
After musing on this for a moment longer, Solidad turned and headed back down the hallway. Much to her surprise, however, she heard the voices of the two coordinators she had just been thinking about—and from the angry tone of their conversation, it was obvious they were at odds with each other. Solidad rounded the corner and, sure enough, there May and Drew were, figuratively at each other's throats.
Solidad knitted her eyebrows together and cautiously approached the two. They had been in the middle of their "argument of the day," as she and Harley commonly referred to it, when she left to complete her appeal. These arguments were typically meaningless, perhaps even flirtatious (on Drew's end, at least) banter, but this ... this was legitimately hostile.
"What's going on?" Solidad asked. May and Drew jumped back, away from each other, in surprise. They had been so caught up in whatever they were fighting about that they had not noticed her presence.
"Nothing," May began, shooting Drew a glare, "Drew's just being arrogant, as usual." He craned his eyebrow at her; it was easy to tell he was upset, which was highly unusual. Drew was very good about keeping his cool. He usually riled up May for fun, without ever actually getting angry himself. Solidad had only seen him snap once in the time she had known him and that was, ironically, at May during last year's Grand Festival.
She supposed the old saying held true: You hurt the ones you love.
"That's convenient, since you're being a bit-" Drew began before Solidad cut him off.
"-OK," she interrupted before Drew said something she knew he would regret later. Drew was resilient and could handle a few insults being flung his way. May had much less self-esteem though, and if he crushed that ... Well, while May was a naturally forgiving person (almost to the point of naïveté), something like that would strain their friendship, if not ruin it. She clutched both of the young coordinators by the shoulder and pulled them into the nearby closet with her, closing the door behind her.
"I don't know what could have possibly happened to get you two so upset with each other," Solidad began, addressing the young coordinators head-on, "but honestly, this is just ridiculous. You're acting like children."
"Never mind that we are children," Drew remarked sarcastically. Solidad had to pause and take in deep breath, as to not let herself lose her temper; Drew's cynicism was occasionally too much for even her to handle.
"My point is," she began calmly, "you're both professionals and I think you can hold off fighting until after the contest." There was a moment of silence, yet May and Drew still refused to make eye contact with each other.
"That's fair," May finally said.
"Agreed," Drew added.
"Good," Solidad said. She reached for the doorknob behind her, but she seemed to hesitate. The wheels in her head began turning as she finagled with the knob for a bit, attempting to turn it. After a long pause, she faced her fellow coordinators and announced a horrifying conclusion: "It's locked."
"What?" Drew asked in disbelief.
"We're locked in," Solidad repeated.
"No," May gasped. "No, my appeal is coming up, we cannot be locked in." Thus began her rapid descent into panic. Solidad hesitated again, but gave the door another good jangle.
"I'm sorry, May," she apologized. "But don't worry, Harley is up before both of you. He will let us out." Drew, who had by then casually situated himself on top of an upside-down mop bucket, rolled his eyes.
"Please, Solidad, Harley hates both May and I with a burning passion. Why would he even consider opening the door for us?" he said. There was a light sniffle from where May was standing, which prompted a rather irritated look to cross Drew's face.
"Arceus, May, don't cry," he said, a little harshly.
"I am not crying," May replied angrily as she hastily wiped away the tears that had formed in her eyes. "I'm just upset because I'm already behind on Johto ribbons as is and if I don't even get the chance to compete..." Her voice had grown watery around the edges again, which this time seemed to disarm Drew rather than further incite his frustration.
"May, please don't cry," he said, almost as if he were pleading. His expression softened significantly, and his tone became much more amiable and compassionate. "I can't handle it when you cry." He left his post on top the mop bucket and confronted her directly, but May shied away from him.
"I already told you, I'm not crying," she insisted defensively, though her dark blue eyes were obviously shimmering with fresh, unshed tears. She looked wary as he tried to approach her again, but didn't back away this time. Solidad leaned against the wall unobtrusively and watched the two closely; now it was getting interesting, she thought.
"Is that so?" Drew asked, sounding just the slightest bit amused. He now had her up against the closet door. He lifted his hand toward her and brushed away a stray tear that had managed to fall. "What do you call this streak of salty water running down your face, then?"
"Very funny. Sweat coming from your eyes?"
May was blushing at this point, probably from both the humiliation of crying in front of her rival and the awkwardness of standing so intimately close to him. Her tears had seemingly dried up though, and both she and Drew were looking at each other with a much more endearing expression. If Solidad didn't know better (and she almost always knew better), she might have guessed he was going to kiss her. A small, knowing smile graced the pink-haired coordinator's lips. This was working out better than she had imagined.
"No," May suddenly said, forcibly pushing Drew away from her. "I'm supposed to be mad at you."
"Mad over what?" Solidad asked, injecting herself back into the conversation. This seemed to catch both May and Drew off guard, as if they hadn't remembered their older friend was even there.
"Well, I..." May began, but her voice trailed off. Drew gave her a funny look and Solidad's smile widened, just the tiniest bit.
"Don't remember?" Solidad finished for her.
"I guess not," May said, sounding a little defeated. Solidad pushed herself off the wall and folded her arms, slinging her weight slightly to the left.
"You know," she began very casually, "I look at you two and I can't help but think how lucky both of you are. It's tough to find a rival who pushes you to challenge your potential, while also being there for you when you need it most." May and Drew exchanged a quick glance and even a smile—though it was more of a smirk on his end.
"You two are obviously good friends," Solidad continued in a matter-of-fact tone, though she was struggling to conceal her inner satisfaction upon the subtle show of affection between the rivals. "Don't ever let something as trivial as a fight that's so unimportant that you can't even remember what it's about come between you. You'll both regret it, if you do." Silence descended upon the trio in the little broom closet, again. May turned to Drew and smiled bashfully.
"I'm really sorry," she apologized, looking down at her feet as she shuffled them shyly against the tile floor. Drew waited until she looked up at him before he replied.
"I am, too," he said. He held her gaze for a bit longer before turning his attention to the door. "Now, we just need to figure how to get out of here." May nodded.
"Right," she agreed. Solidad sucked in her breath.
"It's not locked," she confessed. The two younger coordinators immediately turned to face her.
"What?" they asked in unison.
"I lied about it being locked," Solidad explained. "I thought you two would have an easier time forgiving each other if you felt under pressure, and as it turns out, I was right."
"Seriously?" Drew asked in an almost-growl.
"I'm surprised neither of you actually tried to open the door," Solidad continued. "My acting skills are practically non-existent. I barely turned the knob at all." May then reached out and, with total ease, opened the door. Drew shot a rather irritated look Solidad's way, to which she just chuckled.
"You'll have time to be mad at me later," she said. "For now, I suggest you go get ready for the appeals round. I imagine both of you are expected on stage very soon."
"Ah! That's right!" May exclaimed. She grabbed Drew by the arm and dragged him back out into the hallway with her. "Come on, you especially need to hurry up! You're in the line-up before I am!"
"Hey! Calm down," Drew replied in annoyance, trying to work his way out of her hold. "We'll be fine. We couldn't have been in there for any longer than 10 minutes..." Solidad followed them out, amused by the situation. She stopped and waited behind for a long moment though, watching them as they went ahead. May's grip had loosened considerably, but she still had her arm linked with his. Drew didn't seem to mind this arrangement, however, as they casually walked side-by-side back to the coordinator lounge.
Solidad smiled again, though she heaved a tired sigh.
She knew it was only a matter of time before they started bickering again.