A/N: Hey, everyone! Here's yet another chapter for this story to round out the month of June! I was nearly off-schedule by a few minutes, but I made it! And I wish you all an early happy Fourth of July, if any of you do celebrate that holiday! :D
"I guess this is where we part ways for now!"
Upon reaching the hallway that led to the dressing room, Serena, Yancy, Shauna, Miette, and Nini all turned around to look at Ash, Selene, Nate, and the others. All of their Pokémon were sent out: Serena's Braixen, Sylveon, and Pancham; Yancy's Florges, Quilladin, Alolan Ninetales, Tundra Pattern Vivillon, and Spinda; Shauna's Ivysaur, Orange Flower Flabébé, Swirlix, and Gothita; Miette's Slurpuff, male Meowstic, and Togetic; and Nini's Smoochum, Farfetch'd, and Gothita.
"Good luck, you guys!" Trevor exclaimed.
"Yeah," added Calem. "We know you can do it!"
"I have faith in all of you!" Nate declared. He then looked at Yancy with his usual charming smile. "Especially you, Yancy! You'll definitely blow the audience away like usual!"
Yancy's face immediately turned red. "Th-Th-Thank you, N-N-Na-Nate," she stuttered.
Serena looked at Yancy and smiled softly with understanding. The poor pink-haired girl was trying her best to maintain eye contact, but her expression looked absolutely ridiculous as her blue eyes met with Nate's. Her posture was rigid and trembling, and her fists were balled up into awkward-looking fists, as if she was prepared to punch Nate at any moment. It was a surreal sight, since Yancy shared much of her physical characteristics, and even similar tastes in clothing. Was this really how she looked every time she had an intimate moment with Ash...?
Just then, as if the heavens had heard her musings, Miette piped, "What about you, Ash? Do you have faith in Serena blowing the audience away?"
"M-Mi-Miette?!" Serena stuttered.
To the honey-blonde's dismay, Ash replied, "Of course I do! Serena's a great Performer! Probably the greatest I've ever seen! I know she'll do well out there."
"Pika!" Pikachu added in agreement.
Serena's face immediately turned red, just like Yancy's. "Th-Th-Thank you, A-A-A-Ash."
Yancy looked at the younger self of her mother, her eyes widening with surprise. When she was a child, her mother told her stories of all of the experiences that she had with Ash. She also used examples of her old relationship with Ash while sharing advice on how to deal with a crush. Yancy knew her mother had an extremely rough start with Ash, romantically speaking, but to see it in person was an eye-opener in its own right. She could see herself in Serena as the poor honey-blonde tried to maintain eye contact with Ash. In fact...was this really how she looked every time she had an intimate moment with Nate...?
"Wow, what about us?" Shauna asked teasingly, her arms crossed. "Do you have any faith in us, Ash?"
"I do," Calem suddenly replied, catching the tan-skinned girl's attention. "I'm not really the biggest expert in Pokémon Showcases, but I'm sure you'll do fine out there, Shauna, if you're so devoted to them."
Now Serena and Yancy both started to empathize with Shauna as she blushed intensely and started twiddling her fingers nervously.
"O-Oh!" she replied, her voice wavering abruptly. "Th-Th-Thank you, C-C-Ca-Calem."
In the background, unbeknownst to anyone else, Miette closely observed Serena, Yancy, and Shauna one-by-one. The blue-haired Performer was wearing a silly but crafty grin that stretched from ear to ear.
"Alright, out of the way, out of the way!" a familiar voice exclaimed. "Future Kalos Queen coming through!"
Everyone turned around to see a certain magenta-haired, eccentrically-dressed woman sauntering through the startled crowd of attendants, flanked by a peculiar Meowth, a Wobbuffet, and a Super Size Gourgeist. The quartet was closely followed by a blue-haired man, who despite his more modest choice of clothing still stuck out like some sort of tourist. Yancy and Selene both sweat-dropped upon recognizing Jessie, James, and Meowth.
"Jessilee?" Serena asked. "You're here too?"
The trio froze in their tracks, seemingly shocked to see the twerps there. But Jessie quickly recomposed herself.
"Why, of course!" she replied. "This is my last opportunity to showcase my undeniable beauty to the masses of Kalos! And there's nothing you can do about it, twer- I mean, Serena."
Serena blinked for a moment, then replied, "Well, I wish you the best of luck, then!"
"Luck? HA! I don't need luck to win this Showcase! Luck needs me!" Jessie, Meowth, and her Pokémon confidently and boldly strolled right through the group. "Out of the way!"
The group disappeared into the dressing room, while an overwhelmed James remained idle for a few moments before dashing off for the auditorium, like it was an afterthought.
"You sure attract quite the interesting crowd with these Showcases, Serena dear," Layla remarked.
"Ummmmm..." Yancy said, catching Serena's attention, "did you guys not know who those people were...?"
"Sure we know them!" replied Serena. "Jessilee and her crew. Come to think of it, I never found out the name of that guy who's always with her. He's probably her boyfriend or something. But...he seems familiar for some reason. They all do."
"Yeah, I've always had that feeling," Ash added.
"Me too," Clemont said.
"Me three!" exclaimed Bonnie. "It's like we know them from somewhere else that's not Showcases."
"Nenene," chirped Dedenne.
"THAT'S BECAUSE THEY'RE TEAM R- MMPH!"
Yancy sprung forward and covered Selene's mouth before she could get anymore words out.
"What my sister meant to say is that they're a, uh, a righteous team!" the pink-haired girl lied through clenched teeth.
"A righteous team, huh?" Ash asked. "Why? Do we get to know them better in the future?"
"You, uhhhhh...you could say that..."
"Huh..." Serena blinked slowly. "Well, they don't give off that feeling, but if that's what Selene has to say about them, then I guess they can be trusted!"
Selene merely glared at her older sister and puffed out her cheeks. But before Yancy could give her some sort of signal, Shauna quickly checked her watch and then gasped.
"Come on, girls!" she exclaimed. "We can't waste anymore time! Let's all get over to the dressing room!"
"Right!" Nini replied. "We can't afford to be late!"
The five Performers rushed off down the hallway, waving goodbye to their friends as they did.
"Good luck out there, Serena!" Grace called.
"Thanks, Mom!" Serena called back.
"We all know you can do it out there!" Clemont called encouragingly.
"So give it your best!" added Bonnie.
"Dedenne!" Dedenne squeaked, while Squishy garbled in support.
"Thanks, guys!" Miette replied.
The five girls reached the dressing room, and Shauna, Miette, and Nini were all quick to step inside. But before Serena and Yancy could follow their friends, they suddenly heard a familiar voice.
Both Performers stopped and turned back towards the group.
"Yes, Ash?!" Serena called.
Ash was wearing a confident grin. "Remember, never give up till the end!" he replied, raising a clenched fist as he spoke.
Serena's eyes widened a little at the words, as did Yancy's. But they both recovered from their surprise, grinned just as determinedly as Ash, and replied at the same time, "Right!"
Serena and Yancy stepped inside the dressing room...and then stopped and stared with awe.
Usually, the dressing rooms for Showcase Theaters were half-full at most, even for a Master Class Showcase. However, the Laurier Maison's dressing room was apparently an exception. Serena could see almost every single Performer who had ever participated in a Showcase during the past year.
She first saw Shauna, Miette, and Nini, who all looked rather overwhelmed as they desperately searched for spots where they could privately change.
Then, she saw Blanche, Kazalie, and Shulin, who were all excitedly talking amongst themselves. Blanche and Kazalie were already dressed in their handpicked Showcase uniforms, while Shulin was still putting the finishing touches on her dress. As she did, Kazalie helped out her cousin by styling her hair.
Next, Serena saw Sara Lee and Concetta. Poor Concetta seemed to be at the receiving end of one of Sara Lee's self-centered admonishments, for she was blushing with embarrassment while the green-haired Performer talked down to her in a patronizing tone. Occasionally, Sara Lee would shoot ambiguous glances at Blanche, making Serena wonder exactly what kind of connection the two of them had in the past.
She could also see a quartet of Performers talking to one another, apparently about some surprise event that was slated to occur directly after the dance party. They were Alouette, the Furfrou Trainer who participated in the Coumarine City Showcase; Elma, the Roserade Trainer who also participated in the Coumarine Showcase; Kayleigh, the Furfrou Trainer whose performance had been interrupted by Pancham during the Lagoon Town Showcase; and Lily, the Solrock Trainer who had been grouped with Serena and Nini during the Theme Performance of the Anistar City Showcase.
And of course, there was Jessilee, who for some strange reason was talking to her Meowth like it was a human.
And there was a variety of other unnamed Performers that Serena remembered, much to her surprise.
The Honchkrow Trainer from the Fleurrh City Showcase; the Nidoqueen Trainer from the Anistar City Showcase; the Trainer with the Plusle and Minum, from the Dendemille Town Showcase; the Dragonite Trainer from the Coumarine City Showcase; and the Scizor Trainer from the Coumarine Showcase were feeding some Poké Puffs to their Pokémon while doing some last-minute touches to their looks.
The Smeargle Trainer from the Fleurrh Showcase, the Sneasel Trainer from the Dendemille Showcase, the Vanillish Trainer from the Dendemille Showcase, the Lickitung Trainer from the Dendemille Showcase, the Honedge Trainer from the Dendemille Showcase, and the Furret Trainer from the Coumarine Showcase all had their eyes glued to the TV set. They were most likely waiting eagerly for Monsieur Pierre's opening announcement.
The Trainer with the Pansage, Pansear, and Panpour, from the Couriway Town Showcase; the Litleo Trainer from the Dendemille Showcase; the Marill Trainer from the Coumarine Showcase; the Kirlia Trainer from the Coumarine Showcase; and the Swanna Trainer from the Coumarine Showcase were reviewing their performance strategies with their Pokémon. All of them were achieving varying degrees of success with their practices.
The Heliolisk Trainer from the Coumarine Showcase, the Psyduck Trainer from the Coumarine Showcase, and the Swirlix Trainer from the Coumarine Showcase had all apparently arrived just before Serena, Yancy, Shauna, Miette, and Nini. They were all struggling to quickly get into their dresses and apply makeup to their Pokémon in the nick of time.
The Trainer with the Teddiursa and Ducklett, from the Couriway Showcase, was having an argument with the Mightyena Trainer from the Anistar Showcase and the Vileplume Trainer from the Coumarine Showcase. Apparently, Teddiursa and Ducklett had done something to agitate Mightyena and Vileplume. The argument wound up being interrupted when the Munchlax from the Anistar Showcase waddled into the fray and ate Mightyena's food without asking, prompting its own Trainer to join in the heated exchange.
"EXCUSE ME, EXCUSE ME!" a voice squeaked.
Serena, Yancy, and their Pokémon all immediately made way for yet another Performer, who Serena recognized as the Trainer with the Sylveon from the Coumarine Showcase. She was accompanied by none other than her own Intertwining Pokémon.
"Ohhhhhhh, the dressing room's packed!" the Performer moaned in disbelief. "How am I gonna be able to have some privacy while I change?! Ohhh, I gotta find a space to hog, and quick! Let's see, let's see, let's see..."
The girl rushed off, muttering to herself and making quick and frantic glances. Her Sylveon sweat-dropped and bowed her head at Serena's and Yancy's Pokémon.
"Sylvie-syl, sylvie," it said apologetically.
"Sylvie," replied Serena's Sylveon as she smiled brightly.
"Syl-syl, sylvie," Yancy added.
"Sylvie," the other Sylveon said, nodding at Yancy.
Serena and the Pokémon, including the second Sylveon, gawked at Yancy with shock. But before the other Sylveon could say anything, its Trainer called out, "Sylveon! Come here, quick!"
Unable to comprehend what had just happened, the Sylveon obeyed its Trainer's command and dashed after her, giving one last look of confusion at Yancy as it did. Serena, on the other hand, had her lower jaw dropped open.
"You...can speak to Sylveon...?" she asked, astounded.
"Yeah," Yancy replied bashfully. "It's...It's an ability that I have. I can understand all Fairy-type Pokémon, and I can talk to them as well."
Serena's eyes widened. "Wow... So you can speak to my Sylveon?"
"Uh-huh." Yancy looked down at Serena's equally-befuddled Sylveon and said, "Syl-syl, sylvie syl-eon, sylvie-syl, eon."
"Sylvie..." Sylveon replied hesitantly.
"What'd you tell Sylveon?" asked Serena.
"To not be freaked out by me. It's something she'll learn to live with in the future."
"Sylvie," Sylveon replied, nodding in affirmation.
"Oh..." Serena smiled. "That's very impressive! Do...Do you think you can teach me?"
"Well, I could, if I knew how I got my ability in the first place. Apparently I was born with it."
"Born with it?"
"Yes. For my entire life, I've been able to understand and talk to Fairy-type Pokémon, no matter what the species. Even half-Fairy-types count. And yet, I just can't seem to understand that part of myself, no matter how hard I try to search for answers." Then, Yancy's eyes narrowed slightly. "You do seem to know where my ability comes from in the future, though..."
"Yeah. You and Dad. I can tell, but whenever I ask, you two always pretend that you don't know. Whatever my secret is, you want it kept that way, even from me."
"Huh..." Serena raised an eyebrow with intrigue. "I guess I'll find out in a few years, when I have you."
Meanwhile, Braixen, Sylveon, and Pancham all looked at each other with a mixture of shock, confusion, and intrigue.
Just then, Shauna called out, "Hey, Serena! Yancy! Over here!"
Serena and Yancy looked at Shauna's direction, and found that she, Miette, and Nini were already dressed up. With them now were Blanche, Kazalie, Shulin, and all of their Pokémon: Blanche's male and female Meowstic, Kazalie's Lilligant, and Shulin's Escavalier and Accelgor. Mentally agreeing to save the conversation for another time, Serena and Yancy joined their friends.
"I can't believe this is happening!" Nini squealed. "And just when I thought that the Showcase season was over!"
"You know, I honestly thought they wouldn't be having an Exhibition Showcase this year," Miette remarked. "Guess they threw us a curve-ball on that one."
As for Shauna, she spotted Yancy's Pokémon for the first time and started admiring them one by one.
"Wow, Yancy," she said. "So I'm assuming these are all of your Pokémon?"
"Why, yes, they are," Yancy replied. She then proceeded to point at each one of them, starting off with her Florges. "This is Flo."
Florges bowed politely at Shauna, Miette, Nini, Blanche, Kazalie, and Shulin. Yancy then pointed at Quilladin.
"That's Chestnut, my starter Pokémon."
"Quill, quill!" Quilladin exclaimed before doing a small somersault for the Performers. Then, it spotted Nini's Smoochum, and within split-seconds, hearts appeared in its eyes. "QUILL, QUILL, QUILL!"
Smoochum squeaked in fear and hid behind Nini's legs. Quilladin prepared to dash forward with the full intent of kissing the Kiss Pokémon, but fortunately, Florges held the lovestruck Spiny Armor Pokémon back, sighing and shaking her head in disapproval as she did. This did not deter Quilladin, for it tried to break free, without any success.
"Wow," Nini said. "I think Quilladin's in love with my Smoochum."
Yancy sweat-dropped. "He falls in love with any female Pokémon he sees. It never goes well for him in the end."
Serena sweat-dropped as well. "He reminds me of a certain other Quilladin..." she said, her mind filling with memories of a wild Quilladin desperately running towards her Eevee.
Just on cue, Smoochum saw Serena's Pancham and, knowing that Quilladin was now restrained, skipped over to him and tried to kiss him.
"Pancham, pancham!" Pancham wailed helplessly as he tried to hold the Kiss Pokémon back.
Upon seeing Smoochum's strong display of affection towards Pancham, Quilladin froze, his jaw dropping open. Then, he glared hatefully at Pancham, and Serena could tell he was plotting something diabolical against her Playful Pokémon.
Yancy then approached her Alolan Ninetales and started stroking its head.
"This is Blanche."
"You named your Ninetales after me?!" Blanche exclaimed in surprise.
"No, sorry," Yancy replied quickly. "It's just a coincidence that you two share the same name. I don't know how that happened."
Ninetales merely cooed and licked its Trainer's fingers fondly. Meanwhile, Serena and the others stared at Ninetales with surprise and intrigue.
"Is that really a Ninetales?" Kazalie asked.
"It is, actually," Yancy replied. "It's usually a special kind found only in the Alola region."
"Just like my cousin's Golem," remarked Serena.
"Yeah, that's right! But for some reason, I found Blanche wandering around in a forest at Route 20, near Snowbelle City. She was a Vulpix at the time, and I don't know how she got there. She didn't have a family in the area, or a Trainer. She was all alone and I felt sorry for her, so I decide to catch her."
"Very interesting..." Nini replied, rubbing her chin as she focused on Ninetales.
"I know..." Yancy looked down at Ninetales thoughtfully for a brief moment before refocusing on Vivillon. "Anyway, this is Vivi."
Vivillon crooned happily and fluttered over to Serena, landing directly on top of her fedora.
"Wow," Miette said. "Vivillon seems to be fond of Serena."
"Well, that's 'cause she's the daughter of my mom's Vivillon," Yancy replied. "So she views her as a grandma of sorts."
"Wait," Serena said, pausing while she was stroking Vivillon's wing. "So I-" She then remembered that Blanche, Kazalie, and Shulin were present. "My mom has a Vivillon now?"
"Huh? Oh yeah, you- ahem, she does."
Serena raised an eyebrow. "Since when?"
"Since she returned from Hoenn," Yancy replied cryptically. "You didn't know?"
"No. Wow..." The honey-blonde looked back at the Scale Pokémon with wonder. "A Vivillon in my team..."
"Wait, what?" Shulin asked, having seemingly heard Serena's last statement.
Noticing this as well, Yancy acted quickly. "And last, but not least..." She bent down and picked up Spinda, which sported a heart-shaped spot on its forehead. "Ditzy!"
"Awwwww, a Spinda!" Blanche exclaimed, her eyes glimmering with adoration. "It's so cute!"
However, Serena pulled out her Pokédex with curiosity. "A Spinda, huh...?"
The Pokédex activated itself at the sight of the new Pokémon and explained, "Spinda, the Spot Panda Pokémon. No two Spinda in the world are said to have identical spot patterns on their fur. Its shaky, tottering steps give the appearance of dancing, and Spinda are capable of using this to confuse opponents."
"Ohhhhh, I'm such a huge fan of Spinda!" Blanche squealed, struggling to contain her joy before it bursts over. "I just wanna touch it!"
The blue-haired Performer reached out an index finger to touch it, but the Spot Panda Pokémon immediately cried out in fear and hugged Yancy, burying its face in her chest like a scared infant. Shauna was quick to withdraw her finger out of concern.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!"
"It's okay," Yancy replied as she started stroking Spinda's back. "Ditzy's the newest addition to my team, and he's not exactly comfortable around strangers."
"That sounds a lot like Sylveon when she was still an Eevee," Serena commented.
"Sylvie," Sylveon added, glancing at Spinda with a sympathetic expression.
"Believe it or not, Ditzy was going to participate in his first Showcase before we traveled here. He was very nervous despite all the practicing we did together." Yancy looked at Spinda straight in the eyes. "Hey, Ditzy. We're going to be doing this Showcase, but no one's going to vote for the best Performer. It's all just for fun."
"Spin...?" Spinda replied, tilting his head with confusion.
"Yeah, just for fun! We're still going to perform in front of a big crowd, though, so just try and consider this a warm-up for the real Showcase later on, okay?"
Spinda reluctantly nodded. "S-Spin!"
"So, who're you going to use for the Theme Performance, Yancy?" Nini asked curiously.
"Definitely Flo," the pink-haired girl replied. "She's my lucky charm. Also, I'll have to use Chestnut, since I have no idea how different this Showcases will be. Chestnut may look clumsy but he's quite versatile. He knows how to make the best out of my quick thinking."
"Quill, quill!" Quilladin replied confidently. Then, he shot a glance towards Smoochum and winked seductively at her, but she instantly recoiled at the sight of it.
"I can't wait to see what kind of performances you've got for the crowd!" Serena exclaimed. "I look forward to seeing it, Yancy!"
Yancy looked back at her mother and smiled. "Great! And I look forward to seeing your performances as they happen!" She took a quick glance at Blanche, Kazalie, and Shulin; and when she realized they were now admiring Shauna and Nini's Pokémon, she whispered as an addendum, "Mom."
Serena giggled, blushing as she did. "Mom... I just can't get enough of that..."
"Speaking of you being the mom," Miette whispered, leaning forward with her usual sly look, "did you ever find out who the dad was, Serena? I recall that being an unresolved issue last time we met..."
Serena felt her heartbeat stop in that very moment. She remembered Miette not being there when Selene outed Ash as her father. The teenager struggled to find the right words to say, so she could gloriously rub it in Miette's face for all the times she had ever embarrassed her...
At the corner of her eye, she saw Yancy, but the other girl wasn't even moving her lips. In fact, she was being fidgety. At first, she didn't know why, but then she remembered how they bonded over Miette's personality, and deduced that Yancy wasn't spilling the beans because she didn't want to contribute in further embarrassing her own mother.
"We sure think alike," Serena thought. "I guess Yancy really looks up to me in the future if she wants me to call my own shots. ...Makes me wonder what I'm really like in the future..."
"Hellooooo, Serena," Miette said in a singsong voice. "Earth to Serena! I'm waiting for an answer..."
But before Serena could reply, she heard a familiar voice snapping snobbishly, "Out of my way, peasant!"
Everyone in the dressing room looked towards the doorway, and Serena gagged upon seeing Clarice and her Fletchling. Then, her feeling of revulsion changed into one of shock (and a little satisfaction) when she saw Clarice trip over herself in her surprise and fall pathetically to the marble floor. And then, the feeling of satisfaction quickly faded away when she saw the reason behind Clarice's blunder.
"HA! How embarrassing!" Amelia exclaimed as she towered over Clarice. "Tripping on your own feet and falling like a pile of useless bricks! How uncultured, not to mention clumsy! I've never seen such low-class peasantry!" Then, she glared at Clarice's Fletchling as it landed next to its Trainer, in an effort to see if she was alright. "And I see you're going to be using a pathetic little Fletchling. HA! HAHAHA! What good can it do compared to my Pokémon?"
Amelia snapped her fingers, and her Espeon and Shiny Dragonair stepped forward, flanking her sides. Paralyzed in fear, and feeling all of the Performers' eyes on her, Clarice could stare up at her tormentor. At that moment, Serena forgot all about her rivalry with Clarice over Ash's feelings, and could feel nothing but absolute loathing for Amelia now.
"I asked you a question," Amelia said, her voice slow and terrifyingly cold. "What good can your little Fletchling do in a Showcase compared to my purebred Espeon and Dragonair?"
Serena saw Clarice open her mouth for a few seconds and then close it, like a fish in a tank. She looked so scared...and yet, no one seemed to be doing anything to try and stop Amelia. Many of the Performers were looking away and trying to keep their distance. How could anyone decide to be a bystander to this?!
Clenching her fists, Serena stepped forward, followed by her Pokémon.
"HA!" Amelia exclaimed. "Nothing to say, huh? I guess-"
"Hey, leave her alone!" the Vaniville Town native interrupted.
Amelia whipped her head towards Serena's direction. "How dare you interrupt me, you-!" She stopped in mid-sentence, her eyes widening at the sight of Serena, before narrowing into slits. "You again?!"
"Yes, it's me again!" Serena proclaimed. "Now, you leave her alone, Amelia! Picking on others is not proper etiquette for a Performer!"
"Xen!" Braixen barked.
"Sylvie!" Sylveon cried.
"Cham!" Pancham snarled.
Clarice stared at Serena with surprise, but also relief, while Amelia snarled, "How do you think you are, lecturing me on what you believe is Performer etiquette?! If you think we're also supposed to be nice and lovey-dovey to one another, then I'm afraid you've developed a terrible misinterpretation on the world of Pokémon Showcases!"
"I didn't misinterpret anything. It's you with the misinterpretation!"
"I see a great opportunity for Performers and their Pokémon to show their beauty to the world together! But you can't do that effectively if you treat your fellow Performers like trash!"
Amelia sneered jeeringly. "It's a competition, you uncultured hillbilly. How else do you think anyone will come out on top of these Showcases?"
"This Showcase doesn't require a winner!" another voice declared. At that moment, Serena realized Yancy had joined her side. "Do you still think your views will get you far here?! And don't forget, she beat you at Fleurrh City! Think about that for a minute!"
Amelia's eyes widened at the reminder of her previous loss, and Serena and Yancy could see her balling up her trembling fists. They feared she might order her Pokémon to attack...or perhaps do the attacking herself. Even her Pokémon were afraid of her possible reaction, stepping away from her apprehensively. But fortunately, Amelia recomposed herself.
"I don't need to hear such drivel from hillbillies," she growled. "This nonsense isn't worth my precious time." She looked down at Clarice and Fletchling with another sneer. "Be grateful that you have other yokels in your company, peasant. I'm sure you three have a lot of low-class things to do together after I utterly annihilate you all. Now, if you will excuse me, I've got an Exhibition Showcase to prepare for."
She strolled haughtily towards the mirrors at the other end of the dressing room, followed by Espeon and Dragonair. As the trio made their way across the room, other Performers quickly scurried away to make room for them. Upon reaching the mirrors, they found Jessilee, Elma, Kayleigh, Lily, the Honchkrow Performer, the Nidoqueen Performer, the Plusle and Minun Performer, and the Scizor Performer already there.
"Out of the way!" Amelia barked.
"How rude!" Jessilee protested, but she, the other Performers, and their Pokémon were otherwise quick to abandon their positions, leaving the set of mirrors all to Amelia and her Pokémon.
Meanwhile, Serena and Yancy approached Clarice and Fletchling, with the former helping the brown-haired Performer up.
"You...You stood up for me..." Clarice said in a low voice of bewilderment.
"Well..." Serena replied, "I couldn't let her talk down to you like that. No matter what I feel about you."
Clarice pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes, having apparently been reminded about her grudge towards Serena. "D-Don't think this changes anything! I'm-I'm still gonna beat you, a-and I'm still gonna win Ash's heart! And-And there's nothing that you or your..." She examined Yancy for a moment. "Your...Your sister could do to stop me!"
She quickly ran off towards an unoccupied dressing booth, nearly tripping over herself again in the process. Fletchling chirped with concern as it flew after its Trainer, leaving Serena, Yancy, and the former's Pokémon at the doorway.
"Who was that, Mom?" Yancy asked, perplexed. "And...what did she mean when she said she was gonna beat you and win Dad's heart?"
Serena sighed heavily and shook her head. Her thoughts were now reeling from the absolutely unpredictable and high-stakes nature of this Exhibition Showcase. At the corner of her eye, she could see Shauna, Miette, Nini, Blanche, Kazalie, and Shulin joining them.
"It's a really long story..."
Unbeknownst to Serena, Yancy, or the others, Amelia was keenly watching their group like a hawk. Her hands balled up into fists again as she stared daggers at Serena.
"Picking on others is not proper etiquette for a Performer?!" she repeated in her mind. "Who does that hillbilly think she is, Aria?! HA! She's not worthy to be Kalos Queen. Neither is that self-righteous Aria. Nor any of these peasants that surround me like pests. Today I'll show them. I'll show them all! I will, I swear it to you, Uncle!"
Pikachu, Pichu, and Dedenne scurried down the hallway while the others followed right behind them. Ash, Nate, Calem, Tierno, and Trevor were engaged in a conversation about their recent Pokémon battles. Grace was talking to Layla and Moose about their twins and the future that was ahead of them. Clemont had completely isolated himself socially from the group, and he was determinedly tinkering with his Amazingly Accurate Wristwatch. And as for Selene and Bonnie...
"Will you get off me?" Bonnie asked irritably as she tried to shrug off Selene's arm, which was slung over her shoulders.
"Why?" Selene replied, looking at her aunt with confusion. "You don't want to be friends with me, Young Auntie Bonnie?"
Bonnie stuck her chin up stubbornly. "Not in a gazillion years!"
"But why?!" The raven-haired girl hugged Bonnie tightly with one arm, all while wearing a cheeky smile on her fair face. "We're the bestest of friends in the future!"
"You're very annoying. And too clingy." Bonnie lightly pushed Selene away and held on to her satchel protectively. "And you touched Squishy without my permission!"
"B-But I said I was sorry!"
"Well, there can only be room for one girl who has a rare, powerful, green Pokémon as a best friend!" Bonnie crossed her arms arrogantly, as Squishy poked its gelatinous head out of her satchel. "I'm the hero of this show, not you!"
Selene blinked and tilted her head in confusion. "What are you talking about, Auntie Bonnie...?"
"Biiiii...?" Celebi also tilted its head.
But before Bonnie could reply, she bumped into someone's legs.
"Agh!" the person exclaimed. "Hey, watch it, you little runt!"
"I'm not a runt!" Bonnie snapped defiantly, as she and Squishy looked up at the cantankerous fellow.
It was a man with wavy, neatly-combed green hair with golden streaks, dressed in a sharp olive-green suit with a green-and-yellow-striped tie. He also had yellow eyes that glinted very brightly, giving him a perpetually teary-eyed look, even though he was clearly anything but. There was something about his overall demeanor that gave the two girls, plus Celebi and Squishy, an uneasy feeling. Despite this, Bonnie stood her ground and puffed her cheeks outward at the man.
"Who do you think you're calling a runt?!" she continued. "The only ones who call people runts are those who don't feel so good about themselves, so they have to take it out on others!"
"Yeah, you tell him, Auntie Bonnie!" Selene cried with encouragement.
Bonnie shot her an annoyed look. "I didn't tell you to say anything!"
Meanwhile, the man's eyelid twitched at Bonnie's irksome defiance. "You've got a big mouth on you, you know that, little girl?" he snarled savagely.
"Yeah? What's it to you?" asked Bonnie confidently.
"I hate little girls with big mouths."
"That's not a nice thing to say!" Selene snapped angrily.
"Bi!" Celebi added, while Squishy garbled in agreement.
Bonnie in particular wouldn't have it. "And-And you're a big man with a little brain!"
This set the man off in split-seconds; and Bonnie, Selene, and everyone else in the immediate vicinity were nearly blown away literally by his outburst.
"YOU DARE INSULT MY INTELLIGENCE?! YOU DARE SAY THAT TO MY FACE?! DO YOU LITTLE BRATS HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?!"
"The loudest man in the world...?" Bonnie asked nonchalantly as she rubbed one of her ears.
"I AM ADAM GLAZING, RIGHTFUL OWNER OF THE BLUE SUNS DELUXE HOTEL CHAIN, YOU PUNY TWITS! Oof!"
Someone else had yanked Adam away from Bonnie and Selene with all of the strength they could muster. Bonnie looked up at the person who intervened on their behalf...and smiled happily.
"Daddy!" she cried.
Meyer stared Adam down with an expression that would make Arceus cower in fear like a scared newborn Ponyta. But Adam stood his ground, gritting his teeth at the large electrician.
"And who the f-" the green-haired man began.
"Speak to my daughter like that ever again," Meyer interrupted, his voice low and menacing, "and I'll see to it that you'll rue the day that you did so. So come on." He stepped aside, leaving Bonnie and Selene in Adam's sights. "By all means, continue."
Adam prepared to speak, but he paused upon seeing Meyer's Ampharos joining its Trainer's side, giving him a menacing look of warning. Instead, he pursed his lips and straightened out his suit, all the while making a cursory scan of Meyer's features.
"I don't need to hear such drivel from hillbillies," he growled.
Meyer's eyelid twitched, but he didn't do anything as Adam turned around and stalked off. As he walked, many people in the area hastily made way for him, fearful of crossing paths with him. Once Adam was gone, Meyer let out a small sigh of relief and turned to face Bonnie and Selene.
"You okay, sweetie?" he asked, referring to Bonnie. "He didn't hurt you, did he?"
Bonnie shook her head. "I'm fine, Daddy," she replied.
"That's good." Then, Meyer noticed Selene for the first time. "And who's your new friend, Bonnie?"
Before she could control herself, Selene cried out excitedly, "GRANDPA!"
"Dad!" a familiar voice cried.
Everyone looked to see Clemont running up to them, followed by Ash and the others.
"Clemont!" Meyer greeted, his jolly smile back. "How are you?!"
"I-I'm fine," the inventor replied, inwardly dreading the inevitable back-slap that would be powerful enough to knock him to the ground as if a Rock-type attack hit him. "Wh-Wh-What're you doing here?!"
"I've got a friend who works at the Laurier Maison, said he needed some extra hands for this Pokémon Showcase, and I just couldn't say no." Then, he scanned the rest of the group. "I guess you're all here to watch."
"Yep!" Bonnie chirped. "Serena's participating!"
"Serena, huh?" To Clemont's horror, Meyer gave him a mischievous stare. "I bet you're gonna be paying a whooooole lot of attention to her, huh son?"
Poor Clemont was reduced to a stuttering mess for the second time today. To his relief, Selene spoke up.
"But Grandpa! Mommy's marrying Daddy, not Uncle Clemont!"
"Oh yeah, speaking of which..." Meyer pointed a thumb towards Selene. "Who is that girl, and what's her big deal?"
Everyone else looked at Selene, who was looking up at Meyer with an unsatisfied expression. Then, Ash sighed heavily.
"It's a really long story..." he said.
Several minutes later
"Soooooooooo...lemme get this straight... She's from the future?"
Ash nodded. "Uh-huh."
"And she's supposed to be Ash's daughter with Serena..."
"Pretty much, Dad," Clemont replied with relief.
Meyer examined Selene from head to toe. Right now, the little girl was sitting on none other than Ash's lap, much to the surprise of everyone else. She was licking on an ice-cream cone, occasionally sharing the treat with Celebi, Pichu, and even Pikachu. Right now, the entire group was already seated in the auditorium, which was filled with a cacophony of noises coming from the audience. This gave Ash and the others a perfect opportunity to pass Selene and Nate's story on to Meyer without the concern of being eavesdropped.
"I guess it makes sense," the electrician eventually remarked. "The girl looks a little like you, Ash."
"Oh," Ash said. "Thanks, I guess...?"
"It's a shame, though." Meyer started to sulk in his seat. "I was really banking on the possibility of you getting together with Serena, Clemont. You really need to find yourself a pretty girlfriend-"
"I DON'T NEED A GIRLFRIEND, DAD!" Clemont interrupted, his face completely red.
"But you do, Clemont!" whined Bonnie. "You need to have someone who'll take care of you for the rest of your life!"
"Nenene!" Dedenne chirped from his unofficial owner's shoulder.
"He will, Auntie Bonnie," Selene replied consolingly. "He has Auntie Korrina, remember?"
"Oh, yeah," Tierno said. "You mentioned that to us last night."
"K-K-K-Korrina...?" Clemont stuttered, an image of the Shalour City Gym Leader flashing across his mind.
"Korrina..." Meyer repeated. "Very strange name, but I do hope she's a nice girl."
"Yeah, she is..." Then, the inventor realized what he said and instantly started backtracking. "I-I mean-"
"Wait a minute, Selene," Calem piped up. "Why do you still call Meyer 'Grandpa', then?"
"He's married to Grandma, how else?" the raven-haired girl replied.
"Wait, what?! He's married to my mom?!" Ash exclaimed, shocked and almost disgusted at the thought of it.
"No, Daddy! He's married to my other grandma!" She pointed to Grace. "Her!"
"Say wha...?" Grace asked blankly.
Then, to her absolute displeasure, she saw Meyer scanning her from head to toe. This time, he didn't have an inquisitive look on his face, just like he did when he examined Selene. Instead, the electrician had a look of surprised pleasure.
"Well, it makes sense," he said. "You do look like my type- OOF!"
Grace had been quick to slap Meyer in the face, leaving a discernible, red, hand-shaped mark on his cheek. "You've got some nerve if you're okay with this so...so quickly!"
"What?" Meyer rubbed his cheek, wincing a little at the power Grace had put into the slap. "You're...not okay with it...?"
"WHAT DO YOU THINK?! WHY DON'T YOU ASK YOUR CHEEK, YOU PER-?!"
"Oh, I don't know about that, sis," Layla said teasingly, as she also examined Meyer. "He does look like your type..."
The former jockey looked at her younger sister with a look of affronted outrage. "H-He does?! S-Since when?!"
Layla shrugged. "I dunno. I just notice things. And you've always had a soft spot for big, strong men-"
"I DO NOT!" Grace interrupted.
"Sure you do. When we were younger, you always collected the local firefighter calendars and-"
The former Rhyhorn Racer's eyes widened with horror. "WILL YOU CUT IT OUT, LAYLA?! THE CHILDREN DON'T NEED TO KNOW THIS!"
"What's a...firefighter calendar...?" Bonnie asked, slowly and innocuously.
"Yeah, what is that?" added Selene.
"It's an adult thing, girls," Moose replied. "You'll learn more about it when you grow older."
"But we wanna know about it now!" Bonnie and Selene both cried at once.
"Dedenne!" Dedenne squeaked.
"Pichu!" Pichu squeaked as well.
"Bi!" Celebi crooned.
Squishy just chirped.
"Oh, now do you see what you've done, Layle?!" Grace shrieked. "Now you've got the kids all curious!"
"Then why don't you explain it to them?" Layla asked.
"Wh-What?! W-Wh-Why me?!"
"You're the collector."
"I refuse to impart such knowledge to innocent little girls! That's something they should learn for themselves!"
"You sure about that, sis? If I can recall, that strategy led to Serena finding-"
Gritting her teeth, the former jockey clamped her hand over her sister's mouth. "Zip it! What do you know about girls' budding awareness of romance?!" Then, she remembered something and sneered devilishly. "Or would you like me to fill in your beloved husband on your thing for glasses?"
"Glasses?" Moose asked, suddenly intrigued. "What's this about glasses, honey?"
To Grace's absolute surprise, Layla calmly replied, "When I was a teen, I had a crush on the local gardener. He wore these cute little rectangular glasses. When he moved away, I just gravitated towards guys who were wearing glasses."
Moose blinked. "But...I don't wear glasses...or contacts, for that matter-"
"That's 'cause I eventually got over my obsession," Layla interrupted. She then glared at Grace with a crafty expression. "Unlike a certain someone..."
Grace looked away, her face completely red. Meanwhile, Bonnie started squirming in her seat.
"YAY!" she exclaimed excitedly. "I just realized, I get to have Serena as a big sister!"
"Nenene!" Dedenne squeaked, while Squishy garbled with encouragement.
"Not to mention you get to have Daddy as your brother-in-law!" Selene added.
"Oh yeah, that's right! Since Serena will marry Ash, then that means Ash is my big brother too!"
"Awesome!" Ash cried, smiling at the thought of it. "I've never had any brothers or sisters, so it's great to know that I'll be related to some of my best friends in the future!"
"Pika!" Pikachu added.
"Ash, m-my brother?" Clemont said. Then, he chuckled and rubbed the back of his head. "I-I've never really thought of that possibility, but I like it."
"I hope you treat us well, Ash!" exclaimed Bonnie.
"I will!" Ash cried, as the Pallet Town native clenched a fist in determination. "I promise you, I'll be the best big brother anyone's ever asked for!"
"You'd better!" Meyer said, suddenly leaning towards Ash's direction in order to give him a look of warning. "You'd better not disappoint my children, or you'll hear from me, mark my words!"
Ash chuckled nervously. "Trust me, I won't, Meyer."
"Pika pika," Pikachu added.
Just then, the auditorium suddenly darkened, eliciting a drawn-out "Whoa!" of excitement from the massive audience.
"Oh, looks like the show's about to start!" Trevor exclaimed with anticipation.
"About time..." grumbled Grace, her cheeks comically puffed out.
"Yay, yay, YAY!" Selene cried.
"I can't wait to see what's in store for us!" Nate proclaimed.
Once the auditorium was dark enough, the stage was lit up with a multitude of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet spotlights, fully revealing it in all of its glory. It was massive, circular, and golden; and the audience was quick to notice the all-too-familiar Poké Ball insignia engraved in the stage floor. There were also three Poké Ball symbols that were engraved across the forefront of the stage.
Hanging above the stage floor, mightily and brilliantly, was a golden chandelier styled after a key-ring and a multitude of Princess Keys that had been given out over the past season. Ash immediately recognized the Coumarine, Dendemille, Anistar, Couriway, and Fleurrh Princess Keys among the many chandelier arms.
Finally, there was a small mezzanine on the stage, with two identical staircases that allowed access to it. This mezzanine was situated over a quaint-looking wall that sported three brown, keyhole-shaped doors. In addition, there was a lone door at the top of the mezzanine, which was colored a peculiar shade of red.
"That's quite a stage," remarked Clemont.
"And the largest I've ever seen, by far," Tierno added.
"Eh, I've seen bigger..." Nate replied.
"Makes me wonder what kind of performances this Showcase has planned for the Performers," Calem said.
"I guess we're about to find out," replied Ash, as he pointed towards the stage. "Look!"
Someone was rising out from a hole in the center of the large Poké Ball insignia, where the button normally should be. He was instantly recognizable with his blue top-hat.
"Bonjour, Pokémon Showcase fanatics and aficionados!" Monsieur Pierre announced with his grand, suave voice. "I am Monsieur Pierre, your host, and I welcome to Kalos' one and only Laurier Maison!"
Upon those words, a massive roar of joy and delight broke out from the audience, proving to be so loud that the walls of the theater seemed to shake. Pierre smiled and held out his arms dramatically, embracing the audience's excitement.
"I thank all of you for coming here today, and for being a wonderful audience during this past season! It matters not if you were present at any of our Showcase Theaters, or if you simply watched from the comfort of your home! In fact, it matters not if you are here right now or are at home watching this! You are all an audience brillant, magnifique! All of our Pokémon Performers here today could not have dazzled the way they did this past season without your unconditional support! As a result, they are all ready and willing to say merci to you all in the only way they know how: through this wonderful, marvelous, beautiful Exhibition Showcase!"
Once again, the crowd roared like an excited, entertained beast. The might of their delight filled the auditorium and even spilled throughout the rest of the Maison. With that, Pierre twirled his signature staff a couple of times before aiming it at the chandelier. At first, Ash and the others believed that it would shoot out his Klefki, like it always did. But then, they noticed that Klefki wasn't inside at all.
Instead, over a dozen Klefki descended from the stage ceiling, responding to Pierre's cue. They sang all at once, filling the auditorium with a soothing melody.
"Whoa, look at all of the Klefki!" exclaimed Nate.
"They're all so-" Bonnie began.
"CUTE!" completed Selene, her eyes shimmering with awe and adoration.
"Pichu-pi!" Pichu squeaked, just as astounded by the show.
Bonnie merely glared at her future niece and pouted at being interrupted.
"Hey, look at what's hanging from all of the Klefki!" Ash said.
Everyone else saw it as well: hanging from each individual Klefki was a Princess Key. But it wasn't just any Princess Key; it was a Princess Key that had been handed out as a prize in past Showcases.
"These Princess Keys were awarded to Performers during the past season as a mark of their achievements, a sign of their progress. But today, there will be no Princess Keys as a prize. I repeat, je répète, there will be no Princess Key. There will also be no voting with Glow Casters, or any of the other earmarks of a Rookie Class competition. Instead, this Showcase will demonstrate how far these Performers have come since the start of the season. We have followed them since the very beginning, and we shall see how truly grown they've become since then."
Serena, Yancy, Shauna, Miette, Nini, Blanche, Kazalie, and Shulin watched Pierre's opening announcement on the TV. As he talked, Serena and Yancy looked at each other and smiled determinedly.
Amelia was also observing the opening announcement, and she smirked malevolently.
Clarice, Sara Lee, and Concetta were all watching as well, all the while waiting determinedly for the Showcase to begin.
Aria and Palermo oversaw the opening announcement from the safety of an upper-floor balcony in the auditorium. Aria was smiling softly, while Palermo silently observed with her usual serious look.
On another balcony, Adam watched Pierre as well, all the while yawning with boredom and checking his wristwatch.
Ash and the others listened to Pierre's speech as they waited with eager anticipation.
"And now..." Pierre twirled his staff again. "Let the long-awaited Exhibition Showcase...COMMENCE!"
So we finally meet up with Clemont and Bonnie's father Meyer, whose subplot is yet another transplant from the original "Way We Will Be" fic that was deleted. It looks like Grace has yet to warm up to him, though. But we'll see if she starts singing a different tune by the end of the fic. XD
Also, every last unnamed Performer that I described is NOT an OC. If any of you don't recognize any of them, they DID appear in a Showcase episode. Yes, I did painstaking research on the unnamed Performers too. Now that's commitment, am I right? XP
I'd like to thank the following people for reviewing (I don't have time to answer the reviews again, though; I apologize):
-Guest-san (guest reviewer)
-Rajiv A. Rajaram
-Dragon King Ryouga
Well, hope you enjoyed this chapter! TheCartoonFanatic01 is out. PEACE!