Cilan had dated before. Nothing serious, but back at his family's restaurant/gym in Striaton City, there were a couple of regular young female patrons whose company he had enjoyed over lunch or at the movie theater. These ladies were poised, not stiff by any means, but they carried themselves well and were always a pleasure to be around.
He had never loved any of them—love was a big word, and his relationships never advanced beyond casual dating—but there was, with some, a bit of hand-holding involved, perhaps a chaste kiss or two for those to whom he was particularly attached.
He always believed this sort of thing was the genesis of love; that if he was interested, if he pursued these relationships further, that he would actually fall in love.
Traveling around Unova with Ash and Iris, he was discovering he was wrong.
Iris was unlike any girl he had ever met, much less dated. She was pretty, sure, but he couldn't exactly call her "polite." She wasn't rude, either, but her personality had a certain flair. She was fiery, confident, athletic, teasing.
More importantly, she was unafraid to be hands-on with the world around her. Ash was that way, too, and after however many months of traveling with them, Cilan found he was as well. He had never known, because he had never been pushed to test his limitations. That's what made the three of them such a perfect little pack of three.
There were things he had done, adventures he had experienced, that he would have never imagined enjoying with anyone else. None of the ladies he'd ever seen would consider doing what he'd done. Even his brothers might be deterred by some of the chaotic beauty they faced.
Now that he had experienced it, though, he could never go back. He wasn't looking for danger by any means, but seeking after the next thing, looking for greater knowledge in the world, he never wanted that to end.
"Oh, did'ja see that one!" Ash excitedly bolted into a sitting position, pointing at the sky.
"I sure did, Ash," Cilan chuckled.
"Yeah, it was really pretty!" Iris added.
Tonight was a meteor shower, and they had purposefully put out the fire early to watch.
"You know, I've heard that some people think Pokémon come from space," Iris continued after a breath of silence. "I wonder if that's true? If there are undiscovered Pokémon out there, living among the stars. What do you think, Cilan?"
He was surprised she'd asked for his opinion; he supposed it was because he had established himself as the source of scientific authority in the group.
"I don't know," he answered truthfully. "But maybe you and I will go and find out someday."
"All right, it's a deal," she let out a light, chirpy laugh before smiling. Cilan lolled his head to look at her; she had just about the most fantastic smile in the world, and he loved to see it, especially if it was true. "You just can't be a pain when we do, m'kay?"
"OK," Cilan agreed with an amicable smile. "If it locks you in as my traveling partner throughout space and time, then I promise to tone it down."
"Not too much, though," Iris advised him. "Your weirdness is still what I like about you."
"Hey, if you guys go to space, can I come?" Ash glanced back at them.
"Yes, Ash, you can come," Iris rolled her eyes and laughed.
Cilan was watching her again. This, he had discovered, was the genesis of love.