A/N: Hey, everyone! I hereby grace you all with a quick and timely update to make up for the four-month wait I had to put you guys through! We're finally getting back in the business of things, and I can guarantee there'll be a whole bunch of Showcase-related drama and excitement ahead!
But before we begin, I would like to announce that I've posted a new AmourShipping story on New Year's Eve. For those of you who have known me for years, I'm ecstatic to say it's the "Judgment's Fall" rewrite I've been promising for so, so long! Please check it out whenever you can, everyone! And PLEASE don't just devote whatever reviews you have for it to "The Way We Will Be". I've been getting reviews saying they like this story and asking when I would update again; you just don't see them in the review box because I've been deleting those. I know a lot of people are excited about this fic too, but I promise you, I am keeping as many people in the loop as I can through constant updates to my profile. If any of you want to know how I'm doing, writing-wise, check out my profile. I update it as often as I can with little snippets on how certain stories are coming along.
Also, in the wake of the Halloween bug that affected the visibility of new updates to fics and accounts, as well as newly-posted stories, I just wanted to remind you all that, if this site goes down for good, I will still remain active elsewhere, so there's no need to worry. For those of you who don't know, I have my alternate accounts listed at my profile, and their usernames are 100 percent accurate. It should NOT be hard to find me there. Go to my profile, and make sure you have the usernames and the websites memorized.
Alright, enough of this urgent rambling! On with the long-awaited chapter. ENJOY!
P.S.: Due to the ever-worsening situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak, I'm going to have to remind you all about the basic steps you should take if you want to stay healthy, courtesy of my university's reminder emails:
-Wash hands often with soap and water for 20-30 seconds at a time, and/or use hand sanitizer
-Avoid close contact with people who are sick
-Keep your hands away from nose, eyes, and mouth (I can't imagine how difficult this part is probably going to be)
-Eat well, get adequate rest, and exercise regularly
-Get a flu shot if you haven't already and are able to
And if you ARE sick (I hope you get better if you are), please be a good sport and save other folks the trouble of getting sick. You can do this by:
-Covering your mouth and nose with your sleeve, elbow, or a tissue whenever you sneeze or cough
-Not sharing food and drinks with others
-Avoiding touching your mouth, nose, and eyes (Again, I understand this is probably going to be difficult)
-Avoiding close contact with others
-Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects
-Staying at home if you're unwell (PRIORITY NUMBER ONE!)
-Staying calm and keeping yourself well-informed (My personal advice)
If you already know this, then great! If you didn't know any of this beforehand, please keep that information in mind as we all go through this trying time. It's a realm of unknowns at this point, and I wish myself and all of humanity well.
Near Mt. Kiloude
Ever since the strange airborne explosions induced by Celebi's wound had stopped, the lush, green breadth of land that was Kiloude Forest had settled back into its previous state of calm tranquility and normalcy. Herds of Pokémon grazed on the greenery while Bug-types took shelter in the tall trees and the thick brush. Flocks of Flying-type Pokémon flew across the skies, squawking and cawing lightly, carefree in their flights. The ponds and lakes rippled smoothly from the motions of the Water-type Pokémon that lived within the water's murky depths.
However, Parker ignored the great spectacle of nature that surrounded him on all sides. Instead, he trudged through the forest, his eyes narrowed and his mind solely focused on the task before him, like a machine. His Sceptile, Chesnaught, and Trevenant by his sides, on the lookout for any threats. Just above the tree-line, a horde of several Hoppip, Skiploom, and Jumpluff floated through the air, attentively scanning the ground for any movement. Their movements attracted the attention of the Pokémon resting and grazing nearby; any that were in their way instinctively fled deeper into the woods, their natural daily routines disturbed. Not that anyone in the group cared.
"ACK! Ah, gross!"
Parker rolled his eyes once he felt his train of thought becoming derailed. Obviously, it seemed there was stuff of concern to the people in his group.
Glaring over his shoulder, the exasperated Pokémon poacher watched as his new associates, Nick, Floyd, Lloyd, Sid, and Cecile, struggled to maneuver their way through the thick brush. Nick had accidentally stepped into a puddle of liquid, its surface covered with a thin veil of algae. Floyd appeared to have passed by an allergenic plant, for he was now viciously scratching at his arms and sweating profusely from distress. Lloyd was snickering at his twin brother's dilemma, only to trip on a thick tree root protruding from the ground and fall into a mound of excrement. Cecile was desperately using a hand-mirror to keep track of her face and making sure it wasn't tarnished by the elements, but she was dismayed to see her eyeliner now reduced to blotchy stripes running across her cheeks. And finally, Sid seemed to be having trouble with Bug-type Pokémon harassing him; everywhere he looked, he could see various Bug-types watching him from a distance or stealthily crawling after him.
"Are we there yet?!" Cecile wailed as she lowered her hand-mirror; the poor woman looked close to tears.
"Stop complaining," spat Parker. "We'll get there when we get there."
"Easy for you to say!" Floyd cried as his fingernail poked at a developing blister. "You've obviously been in forests an-and jungles before! We're just normal city folk whose closest interactions to nature are through safari trips!"
"Safari trips?" Parker blinked, his eyes glimmering for a brief moment. "Hm..."
"Whaddaya mean 'hm'?" Nick asked, intrigued. "They don't have safari trips where you're from?"
"They still do." The poacher turned away and focused on the woods ahead. "I just...haven't heard of them in a long time. It almost brings me back..."
"It almost brings you back?" Cecile repeated. "Wow. You make it seem like you had a childhood or something."
Parker blinked in dissatisfaction. "Everyone has a childhood. What in blazes are you talking about?"
"I dunno. It's just...I-I mean, you're so cool and yet so serious."
"Yeah!" added Lloyd. "You're like a robot!"
Parker blinked again, this time with interest. "A robot...?"
"Yeah!" Floyd replied. "You're like a robot sent from the future to kick a whole bunch of butt!"
"Except we're the ones who got our butts kicked..." Sid deadpanned. "So I don't think we are living one of your stupid lil' sci-fi movies, Floyd..."
"Don't call The Finisher stupid, Sid!"
Parker rolled his eyes and phased out the argument that broke out behind him. As he did, he raised his arm and stared at his wristwatch. It was currently displaying a small but highly detailed, circular, holographic 3D map of Kiloude Forest, specifically the mile-long radius that was his surroundings. Several yards ahead of him and his group was a blinking red dot, captioned with only a single letter.
Northern Kiloude City
"Hey, what took you girls so long?" Blanche demanded worriedly.
Serena, Shauna, and Yancy hiccupped at almost the same time, their hearts nearly bursting out of their chests. As soon as they entered the Showcase dressing room, they were immediately surprised by Miette, Nini, Blanche, Kazalie, Shulin, and Clarice, all of whom were already dressed and ready to go.
"Yeah!" added an ecstatic Kazalie. "The next round of the Exhibition Showcase is almost about to start! Monsieur Pierre's stepping on the stage right now!"
"H-He is?!" Serena exclaimed.
With that, Serena, Shauna, and Yancy joined their fellow Performers as they and the many other Performers in the room observed the TV screen. As expected, the Pokémon Showcase strolled on the stage, though Serena and Yancy both took notice of the change in his gait; it was stiffer and slightly more tense compared to his usual calm, confident nature.
"Bonjour, Pokémon Showcase fanatics and aficionados!" the blond man greeted with a graceful, rehearsed twirl of his staff. "It is I, Monsieur Pierre, and I welcome you all back to this beautiful Exhibition Showcase!"
He held out his arms slowly and dramatically, heralding a massive wave of applause and cheering from the fully-packed auditorium. Some of the Performers in the dressing followed suit, clapping enthusiastically for the Showcase host; Yancy noticed a couple of the Performers, specifically the ones with the Nidoqueen and the Lickitung, were blushing profusely in awe and admiration.
"Now, then," Pierre continued, lowering his arms as soon as the applause began to die down, "I sincerely apologize for the unexpected extension of our break. The Laurier Maison experienced a, uh, technical emergency, but it's all under control now. We have been cleared to continue this event, and I can assure you, the elongated amount of time has given our lovely Performers more opportunities to work on their craft and ensure you're all given excellent and everlasting displays of beauty!"
The audience burst out into applause again, but it was softer this time, thus giving Pierre an opportunity to continue his speech uninterrupted.
"Now then, without further ado, let's get on with the show!"
A panel suddenly opened up in the floor, right next to him, and the same human-sized carnival wheel rose upward from the dark, murky depths underneath the stage. At the same time, the same gargantuan TV screen lowered itself directly above the stage. Once the wheel and the TV stopped, the TV activated itself, boasting a live, HD feed of the wheel to the audience.
"For those who don't remember the rules," continued Pierre, "each trio of Pokémon Performers will compete in a different, randomly selected Theme Performance, all of them taken from the Pokémon Showcases of the past season! And each Theme Performance will be decided with this wheel!"
Pierre approached the carnival wheel, placed a gloved hand on it, and spun it. The Performers in the dressing room and the audience in the auditorium held their breaths with excitement, their eyes following the spinning wheel.
"I spin the wheel, and once it stops, the Theme Performance that's on this lil' arrow will be assigned for the round! And the Theme Performance for this round is..."
Everyone collectively continued watching the wheel as it slowed down, their breaths hitched. In the dressing room, all of the Performers were anticipating the kind of competition that would be ahead of them in this round, as well as wrapping their heads around which three among them would be selected to go up. In the auditorium, the audience was wrapped in the throes of excitement and enthusiasm in the variety of the rounds, and they could barely suppress their utmost glee in the continuation of the Exhibition Showcase.
Soon, the wheel came to a stop, and the arrow was pointing at a red square. Pierre took a quick look at it before smiling and glancing back at the audience.
"Pokémon Styling?!" Serena and Yancy cried at the same time.
Up in the stands, Selene, Clemont, Bonnie, and the rest of their group gawked at the Theme Performance selection.
"Pokémon Styling, huh...?" Clemont commented.
"And I must remind you all, mon public!" Pierre declared, continuing to address the entire audience. "To ensure certain Performers do not have an unfair advantage over others based on past experiences, all the Theme Performances have been tweaked! But I will provide you with the details of this Theme Performance later."
"Well, it's a good thing Serena didn't get this one," continued Clemont.
"Why's that?" Calem asked, glancing at the inventor.
"That was the Theme Performance for her very first Showcase." The blond teenager sweat-dropped at the memory of the Coumarine City Showcase. "It did not go well for her. I think she still has nightmares about it."
"It doesn't matter!" Bonnie squeaked, her eyes sparkling with giddy enthusiasm. "That means there's gonna be-"
"Cute Pokémon!" completed an equally ecstatic Selene.
"Pichu-pichu!" Pichu squeaked in agreement.
Bonnie glared at Selene for a moment, apparently incensed that the little girl interrupted her. Clemont noticed this and began to sweat even more profusely, sensing a squabble between the two children that could turn violent. However, just a few awkward, tense seconds later, Bonnie abruptly burst out laughing, joined quickly by Dedenne. Selene looked at her future aunt, tilting her head in momentary confusion, before joining in as well, followed by Pichu. This earned a soft and quick sigh of relief from Clemont.
"Phew!" he thought. "At least the girls are finally getting along with one another. That's good." Then, the inventor looked towards the stage. "Now, I wonder who's gonna be participating in this Theme Performance...?"
Meanwhile, in the dressing room, the door opened up, and a woman stuck her head inside while the Performers were still watching the TV and reflecting on the Theme Performance selection.
"Blanche, Clarice, and..." The woman's voice trailed off, and she double-checked the clipboard she was holding. "Y-Yancy. You three are up!"
"Yes!" cried an excited Clarice.
"Alrighty!" Blanche replied cheerfully.
However, Yancy's skin paled at the sound of her name. "I...I am?!"
"Well, well, well, this ought to be...interesting..." Miette remarked with a sly grin. Then, she scanned the pink-haired girl from head to toe and noticed something. "Hey, you're not dressed! What gives?!" Before Yancy could speak, Miette took her hand and guided her to the nearest dressing booth. "You gotta get ready, so chop, chop, chop!"
With that, Yancy entered the booth, slid the curtain of red velvet shut, and began dressing into the Showcase dress that she painstakingly picked out. As she did, she heard someone approach the curtain.
"Hey, uh, Yancy?" Serena called softly.
She briefly stopped dressing. "Y-Yeah, Mo- Er, S-Ser-Serena?"
Though she couldn't see her future mother through the curtain, Yancy could easily imagine the honey-blonde girl giving her the same gentle, assuaging, warm smile that she would always give whenever she knew someone was worried about something. Whether it be her father juggling between his Frontier Brain duties and the Guardians, or Red preparing for a Pokémon League battle, or Selene getting ready for another grueling day at school, or just herself fussing over her looks, Yancy knew Serena would always be there to comfort the people that she deeply cared about, all with just a smile and a few select words of encouragement.
"I just wanted to wish you the best of luck," Serena said, her voice calm and serene. "I-I know we're not actually gonna win anything in this Showcase. But...I know you are performing for people who are not from your own time. And I don't know if you've got performing methods that would be considered radically different today."
"I appreciate your concern, Serena," Yancy replied with a smile, just as she began dressing again. "But trust me, I know what I'm doing. Plus, not a lot's changed when it comes to Showcases." She looked at herself in the mirror provided by the booth. "I know I'm not gonna embarrass myself up there."
"Even so..." Serena hesitated for a brief moment. "I just want you to have fun up there, and not to worry about anything else that's going on right now. No matter what happens, Yancy, you'll do just fine. I know it. And remember." She gave a clenched fist. "Never give up till the end."
"Yes, that's true..."
By that point, Yancy had finished dressing up. After straightening out her attire, she opened up the curtain and faced her future mother, whose sapphire-blue eyes widened in awe at the Showcase dress she was wearing. She had restyled her hair into a curly, drill-like side-ponytail and applied a large cream-and-pink bow and a hot-pink headband to it. She also wore a white dress with a golden sash wrapped around the top of her waist, a puffy white collar held in place with a hot-pink Poké Ball-shaped pin, and white ribbons.
"W-Well, Mom?" she asked, suddenly growing bashful. "H-How do I look...?"
Serena blinked in amazement at the sight of her future daughter. She looked quite dazzling in that dress, and she could sense a rather stunning and beautiful aura radiating from her very form. It was as if the pink-haired girl was some sort of angel who had descended from the heavens to aid mankind in a dark and distressing time...
The honey-blonde's lips curled into a proud smile. "You look great, Yancy. I know you'll do just fine out there."
Yancy smiled back, her cheeks slightly pink with happiness at the praise. "Thanks, M- Er, Serena. I...I really appreciate it. I truly d-"
"Hello?!" a voice called, interrupting the conversation between mother and daughter. The two turned their heads and saw Clarice standing before them, her hands on her hips and her lips pursed. "Are we gonna move or what?! We can't afford to be late for the Theme Performance!"
Upon taking in the sight of Clarice, Serena's sapphire-blue eyes widened to the sizes of saucers, just as her memories of her previous exchanges with the brunette Performer returned to her mind.
"I remember you. You're that Performer from the Coumarine City Showcase. The one with the Fennekin that tripped. Poor, poor Fennekin. What an embarrassing way to lose. But I really can't blame the Pokémon. After all, it all boils down to the quality of the Performer's methods."
"Listen here, blondie, you've got some nerve. I mean, who do you think you are, calling dibs on Ash like that?! I'll have you know that Ash rescued me twice in one day. One day. That's how much he cares about me!"
"Hmph! Let's settle the matter of who Ash should be with with our Exhibition Performance match! The one who gets the farthest or gets the most points gets to keep him!"
"WHAT'RE YOU DOING HERE?!" Serena cried, her voice cracking. "ARE YOU STALKING ME OR SOMETHING?!"
"What the heck do you mean am I stalking you?!" Clarice snapped insistently, while her Fletchling fluttered its wings and sweat-dropped in surprise. "I'm not stalking you! In case you've forgotten, I'm a Performer, just like you and your..." She scanned Yancy from head to toe. "Y-Your sister!" Then, she narrowed her eyes. "An-And don't you think I've forgotten all about our little competition! So don't count all your Torchic before they hatch!"
"Me, count all my Torchic before they hatch?! HA! I could say the same for you, Fletchling girl!"
Clarice's eyes widened with rage. "Fl-Fletchling girl?!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, girls!" Blanche suddenly exclaimed while thrusting herself in-between the two other Performers. "L-Let's all calm down a-and take a deep breath-"
"HMPH!" both Serena and Clarice vocalized as they turned their backs on one another, stunning Yancy and Blanche.
"O-Okay..." Blanche replied, trying her best to maintain her upbeat smile. "Let's just get on with the Theme Performance already, shall we...?"
"Fine, then!" Clarice snapped haughtily. "I don't have time to socialize with the competition, anyway!"
With that, Clarice turned on her heel and stomped away with her fists clenched and her shoes making audible clattering noises. Blanche squeaked and stepped out of the other Performer's way, then she watched her go for a moment before following her. Meanwhile, Fletchling continued watching its Trainer with concern. As for Serena, she gritted her teeth and instinctively glared at a stunned Yancy.
"Yancy," she whispered ominously, "whatever you do, don't lose to her."
"Don't lose to...huh?" Yancy was at a complete loss for words. "But...we're not winning anything for this Showcase-"
"W-Well, let's just say we are!" interrupted Serena. "S-So don't hold back, especially when it comes to her!"
"We're fighting for-!" Serena paused, looked around, and then lowered her voice. "We're fighting for your dad's love and attention."
"D-Dad?" Yancy was still at a loss for words. "Wh-Why? You already know you'll be married to him in the future. Sounds like a waste of time, don't you-?"
"We-Well, w-what if it isn't?!" Serena interrupted, just as she felt dread rising within her, brought by the implications that her paranoia-riddled mind just formulated. "What do you think will happen if Clarice wins and impresses Ash?"
At first, Yancy couldn't believe the words that were coming out of her future mother's mouth. She was initially confident that Serena was just being needlessly paranoid. Then, as she thought about the events of the past few days, all the way back to when she first met Blanche, Kazalie, and Shulin, she started to come to a startling conclusion.
"My original plan was to be nothing more than a stranger to Mom and Dad if and when I met up with them," she thought grimly. "I was afraid that if I interacted with them in any further capacity than that, I might begin meddling around with the future... Making changes to it... Major changes... Erase everything that Mom and Dad and Uncle Clemont and Auntie Bonnie ever accomplished. Ever since I realized Selene already told them everything, I got careless and went along with it. But...But what if I was right...all along...? What if my actions are already influencing what happens in the future, even just by a bit? I...I gotta minimize the damage that I've been doing! I gotta make sure everything's on course as much as possible! I gotta make sure Dad is still on track to fall in love with Mom, so then Selene, Red, and I can still get born!"
With that conclusion, Yancy nodded at Serena. "I understand. Don't worry, Mom." She raised a clenched fist. "I've got it."
Serena smiled and nodded back at her future daughter. "Thank you, Yancy. I appreciate it."
At that moment, Miette stepped in, grabbed Yancy, and began ushering her out of the dressing room.
"Alright, now that the mother-daught-" she began.
"Miette!" Serena and Yancy both squealed under their breaths.
To their utter dismay, Miette playfully stuck the tip of her tongue out at them. "Excuse me, sisterly bonding is over with, you've got a Showcase to perform in, Yancy, so let's move it!"
She gave Yancy a light slap to her back, eliciting a surprised squeak from her as she finally departed from the room. The pink-haired girl stopped for a moment and turned back towards the doorway, feeling a wave of dread hit her. But as soon as she did, she remembered her future mother's assuaging words.
"I just want you to have fun up there, and not to worry about anything else that's going on right now. No matter what happens, Yancy, you'll do just fine. I know it. And remember. Never give up till the end."
"Never give up till the end," Yancy thought. With a smile, she resumed walking towards where Blanche and Clarice were waiting, her strut radiating utmost confidence in herself. "Can't ever forget those six words."
As soon as she was gone, Miette turned and spotted a seething Serena.
"What?" she asked innocently. But when Serena continued to glower and tremble at her, she gave her rival a nonchalant shrug. "Ohhhhhh, come on, it's not like anyone overheard that or anything! If they did, people would be shooting lots of questions down our way! And it's not like there are people who'd care about an apparent slip of the tongue over a simple Exhibition Showcase, now am I right?"
Serena's scowl vanished, but her lips remained pursed, and her gaze continued to radiate extreme disapproval. She then one last look at her fellow Performers, who were either watching the TV screen or applying the finishing touches to their Pokémon's grooming regiments. After begrudgingly confirming Miette's point, the honey-blonde began to determinedly stroll out of the dressing room, surprising the ever-observant Miette.
"Hold up!" Miette cried. "Where're you going?"
"Like I'd ever tell you," Serena spat in response.
Miette blinked, confused. "Y-You're not gonna watch Yancy perform?"
"I'll see if there's a TV where I'm gonna be at."
"Why would you be going somewhere else to watch Yancy-?" Then, she started mulling over Serena's words, and before the honey-blonde girl could make a timely escape, she immediately came to a realization. "Ahhhh, hold up! You're going to the Pokémon Center to visit Ash, aren't you?!"
Serena froze, and her skin crawled, proving Miette's point. The blue-haired girl smirked knowingly.
"Well, well, well," Miette continued, "you're gonna go play Nurse Joy and revitalize Ash back to full health. Why, how very romantic of you! Not to mention ki-"
Serena twirled on her heel and glared at her rival. "I just wanna be sitting by Ash's side when he wakes up, okay?! There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!"
"Yeah, yeah, absolutely nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all..."
"And what's that supposed to mean, Miette?!"
Miette gave her another shrug. "Nothing, nothing-"
"It's always never 'nothing' with you, Miette!"
At that point, Shauna overheard the exchange and decided to step in. "What's going on here?"
"Serena's gonna go to the Pokémon Center and visit Ash," Miette replied smugly.
Shauna blinked, confused. "Y-You're not gonna watch Yancy perform?"
Serena crossed her arms. "Like I told Miette, I'm gonna go see if there's a TV at the Pokémon Center. I can watch Yancy perform from there."
"Ah, alright." Then, to Serena's dismay, Shauna smirked and crossed her arms. "So, you're gonna go play Nurse Joy and revitalize Ash back to full health. That's very romantic of you, Serena! Not to mention ki-"
"Ah, shut your mouth, will ya?! I mean, you're one to talk! I bet that's something you'd like to try with Calem someday!"
Shauna's face turned as red as a Tamato Berry, confirming Serena's point. After shooting Miette one last scathing scowl, the honey-blonde turned back around and prepared to leave.
"Alright, then!" she snapped. "If you two are done teasing me about Ash, then I'm gonna-"
"What's going on here?" another familiar voice asked, and Serena cursed Nini's curiosity.
"Serena's gonna go to the Pokémon Center and visit Ash," Miette replied smugly.
"Ahhh, alright." Then, Serena could imagine the smirk appearing on Nini's face. "So, you're gonna go play Nurse Joy and revitalize Ash back to full health. That's very romantic of you, Serena! Not to mention ki-"
"I'mgonnagonowbye!" Serena squeaked shrilly in one breath.
With her mind made up, the honey-blonde promptly stomped out of the dressing room, leaving her three rivals and their teasing smirks behind. Only Arceus knew she had enough teasing for one day, and that was after a long, grueling couple of hours in retrieving Selene and Celebi from Parker's clutches.
"S-So, uh, wh-where do we go, exactly...?"
Yancy looked around quizzically, leaving Blanche, Clarice, and their Pokémon befuddled towards her lack of direction. Just when the teenage Performer was about to wander off, Clarice cleared her throat harshly.
"Um, hello?" she called, catching Yancy's attention. "You stand here, obviously."
She tapped her foot on the floor, prompting Yancy to look downward. For the first time, the pink-haired girl realized that Blanche, Clarice, and their Pokémon were standing on a circular part of the floor that was slightly elevated by a couple of centimeters. Upon concluding her fellow Performers were standing on the platform that would take them up to the stage, Yancy's cheeks turned florid in almost an instant.
"S-So-Sorry about that!" she stammered.
But before she could step onto the platform, Clarice held out her hand, the disapproving scowl evident on her face.
"Hold up!" she snapped. "Where's your Pokémon?"
"My Poké-?" Then, Yancy's eyes lit up with realization. "O-Oh, yeah! I forgot-"
"Hurry up, Yancy!" Blanche cried encouragingly. "The platform's gonna rise without you!"
Yancy's eyes became enlarged with shock. "Right!" Then, she reached into her pocket, pulled out a Poké Ball, and threw it. "Come on out, Flo!"
A burst of bright, brilliant light filled the room. Once it faded away, Blanche, Clarice, and their Pokémon beheld the sight of the White Flower Florges standing beside Yancy.
"Alright, Flo!" Yancy said with a confident smile. "Remember, we are participating in an Exhibition Showcase! It's nothing like the Showcases back at home."
"Flo," Florges vocalized in response, giving her Trainer a loyal nod.
"The Showcases back at home?" repeated Blanche, who gave Yancy a tilted head of confusion, as did her male Meowstic.
"Whaddaya mean 'the Showcases back at home'?" Clarice asked while crossing her arms.
Yancy's skin paled at the questions, and she gulped as she struggled to come up with a plausible answer.
"W-Well, um... Y-You see, um-"
"Okay, you know what?!" Clarice interrupted. "I regret asking. G-Get on the platform now, unless you want your sister to lose and for me to get Ash as a boyfriend!"
The pink-haired Performer immediately gnashed her teeth at that prospect. "Oh, definitely not!"
With that, she and Flo finally stepped onto the platform. For no more than a few seconds, the three Performers and their Pokémon could overhear Monsieur Pierre giving the last portion of his flashy speech to the eager, anticipatory crowd. And then, at long last, the platform began to rise, taking the three pairs with it.
As she began to ascend towards the stage and the next Theme Performance round, Blanche secretly looked at Yancy, her normally innocent light-green eyes narrowing with suspicion...
"And without any further ado, here's our next trio of wonderful Performers! Give them a round of applause, everyone!"
The audience started clapping animatedly, filling the auditorium with the thunderous but encouraging sounds. But Nate, Selene, and Evelyn all let out particularly loud gasps of awe and excitement as soon as they saw the three pre-selected Performers rise to the stage on their assigned platforms, accompanied by their Pokémon.
"It's Yancy!" Selene cried with excitement.
"Pichu-pi!" Pichu squeaked, its ears twitching with enthusiasm that equaled its owner's.
"Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!" Evelyn squealed. "I-I wish I could be down there with her! Good luck, Yancy!"
"So, I guess it's her turn on the Exhibition Showcase now," Clemont remarked. "Interesting." Then, he spotted the other two Performers. "Oh, and it looks like she'll be competing against Blanche and Clarice too!"
"Blanche?" Trevor asked, surprised. "She and Yancy sure seemed to hit it off well. I wonder if that'll affect either of their performances in this Showcase."
"Naaah," Nate replied with a confident smile. "I have the utmost faith in Yancy. She'll do her best and win it for sure."
"It's not like they'll be winning anything anyway," added Calem. "So there should be no harm and no foul."
But Nate did not hear Calem's response. Instead, he stood from his seat and waved vigorously with his right hand, while he raised a clenched left fist.
"GO, YANCY!" he hollered over the increasingly thunderous applause. "YOU'VE GOT THIS! WHOO!"
Down on the massive stage, Yancy seemed to overhear Nate's hollers of encouragement through the chaotic cacophony of applause and cheering. She glanced at the direction of Nate and his group, and upon spotting them, she gave them a bright smile and an energetic wave of her own.
"YAAAAANCYYYYY!" cried Evelyn, her voice almost an overly emotional wail.
"YOU CAN DO IT, YANCY!" Selene called. "YOU CAN DO IT! I BELIEVE IN YOU!"
"PICHU-PICHU-PIIIII!" Pichu squeaked at the top of its lungs.
"BI!" Celebi added encouragingly.
Once the applause died down, the stage began to change once again, drawing gasps and other vocalizations of awe from the audience. This time, it began to take the form of a fashionable boutique, not unlike the ones seen in Lumiose City or even the Laurier Maison. There were rows of shirt racks, dressing tables, and mirrors, as well as shelves filled to the brim with a variety of makeup kits and clothing accessories. However, front and center of the stage was a great runway, large enough to fit both a Performer and her Pokémon, but only one pair at a time.
Once the stage transformation was complete, Monsieur Pierre brought the microphone back to his mouth.
"Now that everything's all set up, I shall review the rules for everyone in the audience and at home!" he announced. "I'm sure many of you remember the Pokémon Styling Theme Performance from the Coumarine City Showcase. But even so, I must remind those who did not see that Showcase, or who have forgotten it, that this Theme Performance is a test of what a Performer can do to make their Pokémon beautiful and presentable to the public at a moment's notice."
With a dramatic flair, Pierre gestured towards the sets. "They all must dress up their Pokémon in a unique style with the materials at their disposal, and within the time limit, before presenting their partner to the audience! However, since the round will not be judged by the audience and their Glow Casters, the only way a Performer and her Pokémon can win this Theme Performance is by seeing which among them will be the first to have their Pokémon fully tailored and prepared for the runway before the timer runs out! In other words, the Performer who walks the runway with their Pokémon first shall be declared the winner!"
The audience roared with anticipation once again, nearly rocking the auditorium with all of their cheering. However, down on the stage, Yancy began to sweat nervously from the terms of victory.
"So it's pretty much a race to the runway?" she thought. "But...that doesn't make any sense. I could just slap a couple of pieces of clothing onto Flo, hop on there like it's no big deal, and call it a day... There's gonna be a 'but', isn't there?"
"But!" proclaimed Pierre, gradually silencing the audience.
"I knew it."
"Obviously, these rules are vulnerable to exploitation by any Performers of impure heart. The beauty of the Pokémon that will be presented must be still crafted with care, compassion, and above all else, in earnest. Such an endeavor cannot be done on those terms alone. Thus, there'll be a judge to this Theme Performance; it just won't be the audience and their Glow Casters. And who will that judge be? Why, none other than-"
Pierre suddenly stopped speaking, prompting the audience to look at and murmur amongst one another in confusion. On the stage, Yancy, Blanche, and Clarice could clearly see him adjusting an earpiece and whispering into it, making sure his microphone didn't catch any of his words. Even so, they could vaguely make out what he was saying.
"What do you mean there'll be a new judge? ...Wh-What happened to-? ...Okay, okay, who is the new judge?" Then, the announcer's eyes widened. "Her? Wh-Why? ...O-Okay, but it does seem a little sudden- ...Okay, okay, but are you sure-? ...O-Okay..." Then, Pierre sighed with defeat. "A-Alright, alright. What do I tell the audience? ...Okay, as you wish..."
With that, a confused and stunned Pierre lowered his hand away from the earpiece and took a brief moment to recollect himself. Once he was able to muster his usual enthusiastic smile back on his face, he glanced at the audience again and held the microphone close to his mouth.
"I apologize for the...brief interruption, everyone," he said. "I've just been informed that the judge slated to evaluate our wonderful Performers for this Theme Performance has been replaced."
Another wave of confused murmuring soon swept through the audience. As for Yancy, Blanche, and Clarice, they looked amongst one another, absolutely stunned by the revelation.
"Someone else will be judging us?" Yancy whispered, blinking thrice.
"I wonder who our judge was supposed to be..." commented Blanche while she scratched her chin.
"Forget about our old judge," Clarice replied, her eyes narrowed with anticipation. "I wonder who our new judge is now."
"And what a surprise our new judge is!" Pierre continued, catching the attention of the three girls. "She has experience in the world of Pokémon Showcases, an experience like no other! She has watched, with her very own eyes, this graceful and beautiful competition evolve from its humble roots to the marvelous spectacle that it is today! She has an unrivaled etiquette when it comes to judging Performers and their abilities to display beauty in their own unique ways! And most of all, she is the one who mentored and nurtured our very own Kalos Queen, Aria herself!"
The audience started to murmur again, but this time with awe and excitement. On the stage, Blanche and Clarice looked a little confused at the description, but Yancy felt her heart dropping to the pit of her stomach. She knew who Pierre was talking about.
And judging by her personal knowledge on the history of Pokémon Showcases, it could only mean she was in for a tough Theme Performance.
"So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls," Pierre called out, "give a round of applause for one of the foremost producers in the Showcase arena, a prodigy in the art of beauty between Performer and Pokémon, the shining light of our venue..." He gave a dramatic gesture towards the side of the stage.
Loud gasps filled the auditorium, and even Blanche and Clarice nearly fell over in their stunned disbelief as they watched Palermo stroll on the stage, her lips pursed and her gaze razor-sharp. She was wearing her usual professional attire, but even if she wasn't dressed for the occasion, there was an aura about her that exuded determination that simply couldn't be matched by anyone else. And it was exactly that kind of determination that rattled Yancy to her very core.
Then, for what seemed like a split-second, Yancy's sapphire-blue eyes met with Palermo's cool-gray ones. It was a swift gesture, so swift, in fact, that the pink-haired girl hoped she had been seeing things. But the older woman's expression changed ever so slightly, and it was that reaction that gave Yancy all the indication that she needed.
That Palermo was suspicious of her presence at the Exhibition Showcase.
In her private booth, Aria could barely suppress her stunned surprise when she heard Pierre say her mentor's name out loud to the audience, followed by said mentor's quick entrance on the stage. Even though she had been made aware of the last-minute change ahead of time, when she returned to the booth after helping Foster out of a workplace squabble, she still couldn't believe it when Palermo stepped in, calmly and coldly as usual, and calmly volunteered to step in as the Pokémon Styling judge.
It wasn't as if she doubted her mentor's ability to evaluate the performances of the Performers onstage, even after all of those years of inactivity. There was a very, very good reason she was renowned in all the celebrity magazines as one of the go-to people for the newest Pokémon Showcase talent. And, obviously, Palermo had been a Performer herself, back when the Showcase venue was only starting to emerge in Kalos. No, Aria had complete, unchallenged faith in Palermo's ability to conduct herself on the stage, oversee the entire proceedings, and judge each of the individual Performers based on their own merits.
But instead, Aria was fearful about what Palermo had planned for this Theme Performance. If all the years she had spent under the older woman's tutelage taught her anything, it was that Palermo could be cold, calculating, and sometimes a little cruel. She ultimately meant well in the end, but it would be hard for the average person to realize it, and Palermo's own attitude around most people, as well as what she considered to be her top priorities, didn't help matters much when it came to her image.
Many of her interactions with other people were purely transactional in her eyes, meant to be more beneficial to her than to the other person. Whenever she had a problem with something, whether it be personal training, a specific Showcase, Showcases in general, or even just a flub with a food order or a hotel reservation, she would make life quite miserable, not just for the poor, hapless person who messed up in the first place, but also for the organization who employed this person. And most of all, Palermo was not one to be easily fooled, for she had an almost inherent ability to pick up on the smallest and most inconsequential of poker-faces. No one could cross Palermo and get away with it unscathed.
In all, Palermo was a frighteningly excellent judge of character, but she did not tend to hold a lot of faith in most people, a volatile combination that made her perfect as a Showcase producer. In fact, she didn't have a lot of faith in Aria when she started to tutor her and mold her into the ideal Kalos Queen. Admittedly, Aria never heard such an admission come out of her mentor's mouth, but she knew that much was true the moment she first started training under her. She had to work hard and shed blood, sweat, and tears to earn Palermo's complete, undying respect.
So, to say that Aria was worried about what Palermo planned to do for her involvement in the Pokémon Styling Theme Performance was an understatement. Not only was she going to make those Performers' lives miserable, but she clearly had an ulterior motive behind her decision to become the new judge.
Whatever that motive was, it was only Aria's guess.
"Well, this is pretty interesting," a voice said.
Aria looked beside her and saw that the speaker was one of her assistants. The middle-aged woman was looking down at the stage and observing Palermo with a surprised look on her slightly wrinkled face.
"This is the first time in a long while where Palermo's been the judge of anything," the assistant commented. "I wonder what in Arceus's name drove her back to the stage. Hopefully she hadn't lost her touch. And hopefully this lil' trip down memory lane will brighten her spirits."
"Yeah, I hope so too," replied Aria.
With an apprehensive sigh, the redheaded Kalos Queen cast her gaze back towards the theater and at Palermo. She was sure something else was at play, and that her mentor was most certainly not thinking about taking a stroll down memory lane, as the assistant had just said.
Then, Aria noticed Yancy, Blanche, and Clarice on the stage. Blanche and Clarice were completely awestruck by Palermo's grand and almost domineering presence, just like any normal Performer would be. But Yancy...
She looked absolutely terrified, almost as if she had something to hide.
"I don't believe it. Mom?!"
"I...I can't believe it. I-I almost didn't recognize you..."
"I-I'm sorry, b-but...wh-what'd you just call me?!"
"M-Mom, what else?!"
Aria narrowed her eyes towards the stage, just as she began to remember the events of the past hour. She hadn't been able to learn much, but from what little she could gather, something unusual had been happening right under her nose. Something involving Serena and her group of friends and family. Whatever it was, it was clearly significant enough to get the attention of a gang of Pokémon poachers.
And it may or may not have something to do with time travel, given how that Evelyn girl was so willing to call her 'Mom'.
On instinct, Aria glanced towards the area where she knew Serena's friends and family were sitting. There, she could see all of them, except for Serena, who she assumed was either in the dressing room or attending to her hospitalized friend Ash (the latter scenario seemed more likely, in her expert opinion). But instead of Serena, Aria focused her attention on Evelyn, who was seated between Nate and Clemont. All the while, the memories of the blue-haired girl calling her 'Mom' kept echoing in her mind, insistently, like it was some sort of reminder for her to pursue a higher calling.
"Well," she thought, "now that I'm looking at her from here, she does look a little like me..."
Before Aria could stop herself, she thought, "She also looks a lot like..."
Aria shook her head and looked at the assistant, who was holding out a cup of iced strawberry lemonade towards her. A second later, the redhead remembered ordering one.
"Courtesy of the Laurier Maison, of course," the woman said.
"O-Oh!" Aria mustered a bright smile onto her face. "Th-Thank you, ma'am."
She quickly took the strawberry lemonade from the woman's hands, nearly spilling it in the process. Then, she used the provided straw to calmly take a drawn-out sip from the cup. As her taste-buds happily embraced the soothing dual tastes of strawberry and lemonade, Aria glanced towards the stage again.
And that was when she realized that the space between Yancy and Palermo had suddenly become small. In that moment, Yancy resembled a frightened Blitzle foal cornered by a predator. As for Palermo, she was not looking at the pink-haired girl, but Aria had her mentor's body language and mannerisms memorized to a tee. The older woman was positioned in a way that allowed her to observe Yancy through her peripheral vision, and her gaze was colder and sterner than usual. In addition, her lips were pursed, her hands were on her hips, and she was subtly tapping her foot slowly.
To Aria, it meant only one thing: Palermo had sensed that something was amiss with Yancy's entry in the Showcase, and she was determined to get to the bottom of it.
"This isn't good," the Kalos Queen thought. "If Palermo thinks Yancy's up to no good and learns about the trouble that I had just gotten myself into, then who knows what unearthly forces she could unleash...?"
The moment Palermo saw, through the corner of her eye, the skittish and intimidated Yancy, she knew she had the pink-haired girl in a bind. She hadn't exactly planned on becoming a judge in a Theme Performance round at the last minute, but when she learned Yancy, one of the girls she placed her suspicion on, would be participating in this round, she knew she wouldn't get an opportunity better than this.
So, she did what she taught herself to do: seize the initiative by any means necessary.
"I want you to look through the roster of Performers that are competing in this Showcase. They should have their photos taken and their names registered. Compare them to the rosters of all the other Showcases held this past season."
Tuning out the last portion of Monsieur Pierre's dreadfully colorful speech, Palermo finally cast her gaze towards the trio of Performers.
First, there was Clarice, the Performer with the Fletchling and apparently nothing else. She seemed quite dependent on the Tiny Robin Pokémon if she was willing to use it in every Showcase she entered herself into, despite the massive and debilitating limitations such a tiny and uneventful Pokémon posed. And obviously, her poor choices yielded poor results, given her track record of failing to make it past the Theme Performances every time. Palermo didn't have a lot of faith in Clarice's ability to succeed in the Showcase venue, and every time she saw her, she knew what outcome would await her.
Then, there was Blanche, the Performer with the two Meowstic. Unlike Clarice, she had such a great amount of potential as a Pokémon Performer. Every time she was onstage, she had a wide, bright smile on her face; she had nothing but the audience's happiness on her mind, judging by her performances; and most of all, she always prioritized grace and beauty in her performance conduct. Palermo never told anyone else this, not even Aria, but before Serena came into the picture, she had always thought Blanche was shaping up to be a worthy successor for the title of Kalos Queen. She would have a good amount of faith in the girl's ability to perform well.
But in spite of that, Palermo would also sense something else lurking deep within Blanche's depths, something that gave her demeanor a strangely artificial quality. Whatever it was, it was holding Blanche back. It was something in her life that had yet to be resolved.
And finally, there was Yancy herself. Unlike the other two girls, Palermo could not read her, and therefore, she could not accurately judge her quality and her ability to conduct herself well onstage. That was something that had to change.
"I don't know what kind of game you're trying to play, young lady," she thought, "but rest assured, the game ended as soon as you entered this stage. I will get to the bottom of your shenanigans, mark my words."
"So, the rules are simple!" Pierre announced. "The Performer must dress up their Pokémon in a way that communicates their beauty, first and foremost. Once they are done, they must take a walk on the runway and show off that beauty. And once all three Performers are done with their presentation, Palermo will cast her final judgment. The lucky Performer who receives the brightest accolade from her will be declared the winner! Comme c'est magnifique!"
"Psst! Hey, Yancy!"
"Hm?" Yancy turned towards Blanche, who was still smiling and looking at the audience. "Y-Yes, Blanche?"
Without looking, Blanche whispered in response, "I know we're friends. But I want you to know that I'm in this to win it."
"Win it?" Yancy blinked slowly as she refocused her attention on the audience, specifically Nate's group. "But...we aren't winning any-"
"Not officially. But to get the praise of the most famous Showcase producer out there, and a former Kalos Queen at that, is nothing short of a prize in of itself. If I am going to get some inroads as a Pokémon Performer, then I need Palermo's acknowledgment. I know something like that isn't important to you, but it is to me."
"Um, o-okay. I understand completely, Blanche-"
"Which is why, as your friend, I'm gonna give you this warning in advance."
Though Yancy couldn't see Blanche through the glare of the stage lights, she could sense the dangerous tone coming out of her voice through her next words.
"I'll crush you."
Yancy hiccupped at those three words, just as Pierre began twirling his staff around.
"Let us begin this newest round of our Theme Performance! Dress-up time!"
YANCY VS. BLANCHE VS. CLARICE
Blanche, Clarice, and their Pokémon quickly rushed to the clothing racks, leaving a stunned Yancy and Flo behind.
"Whoa!" Pierre cried into his microphone. "It looks like Blanche and Clarice already have a head-start on... Uhhhhh..." He had to adjust his earpiece. "Yancy? I've never- Ya-Yancy! Yancy needs to move quickly if she wants to gain an early lead on her fellow Performers!"
"Oh, no!" Yancy squeaked while turning to Flo. "Let's go, Flo!"
"Flo!" Flo replied as the two followed Blanche and Clarice.
As she approached the first clothing rack and scoured through it for clothes appropriate for Flo, Yancy began racking her mind, thinking about the dual challenges that were now before her feet. First, she had to defeat Clarice, not only to stop her from making a move on her future father and interfering with the timeline, but also to prove something to Clarice for her future mother, whatever that was. And now, she had to also defeat Blanche, the very first person that she befriended in this timeline, the sweet, gentle, eternally positive girl who easily inducted her into her group when Kazalie and Shulin had their understandable doubts...and who apparently had her own stake in winning the Theme Performance.
Yancy could understand beating Clarice at her own game, but Blanche? It was Blanche's bright smile and kind words that kept her going during her first couple of days in this timeline, a period of time where she thought all hope had been lost. And yet, that same sweet personality had quickly transformed into one of great competitiveness and even brutality. She had no doubt that if Blanche were to be defeated by her, a part of her wouldn't forgive her so easily.
At that moment, Yancy spotted a dress that would look good on Flo. But when she grabbed it and took it out of the rack, she did so in a halfhearted fashion, for her thoughts were mostly still on her rivalry with Clarice and the possibility of her new friendship with Blanche becoming strained afterwards. All of it was on the line, all because the other two girls simply wanted to win this Showcase, one in which no reward was even required. Not even the Showcases from her timeline got so competitive.
"Jeez," she thought. "Who knew Showcases could be such a cutthroat competition?"
Temporary Pokémon Center
"Let us begin this newest round of our Theme Performance! Dress-up time!"
Serena watched as Yancy followed Blanche and Clarice up to the clothing racks. She tenderly held a hand over her heart, specifically over the blue ribbon Ash had given her all those months ago, and her sapphire-blue eyes glimmered brightly as she watched her future daughter go at work.
"Don't worry, Yancy," she thought encouragingly. "You've got this! You can win this Theme Performance for sure!"
Then, the honey-blonde cast a glance towards the temporary desk that had been set up. Just minutes earlier, Nurse Joy had informed her that Layla was still in labor and about to give birth, so she couldn't see her just yet. And right now, the nurse was checking on Ash and Greninja's progress, for she didn't have a final word on their current conditions just yet.
"It's alright. I gotta have faith that everything's going to be just fine. Remember, never give up till the end. Never give up till the end. Just like Ash always says and does."
Serena looked back at the TV again, and she noticed how extra-hard Clarice was trying to find the perfect clothes for her Fletchling. It almost looked pathetic, and yet, she felt a sudden pang of sympathy in her heart for the brunette girl.
"You...You stood up for me..."
"Yancy, whatever you do, don't lose to her."
"Arceus, what in the world was I thinking, recruiting Yancy to beat her like that?! I'm not some obsessed Showcase mom or anything like that! I should've left everything up to Yancy and Yancy only! I shouldn't have put all this extra pressure on her!" With that, Serena clutched her head in distress from the realization that just dawned on her. "Holy Arceus, I...I am turning into my mother, am I?!"
"Serena?" a familiar voice asked.
"Yes?!" Serena replied, whipping around and her voice cracking in the process.
Nurse Joy smiled gently at her. "Ash is recovering surprisingly well. In fact, he's ready to see you now, if you want."
A/N: And that concludes this chapter! We've finally, FINALLY gotten back to the Exhibition Showcase, and with it, Yancy has gotten herself into a couple of unexpected rivalries! Also, Palermo's beginning to think something smells fishy, so she has taken matters into her own hands and is going to be peering over Yancy's shoulder for this Theme Performance! Will she prevail despite that?! Stay tuned to find out!
Anyway, I know I promised in the last chapter that there would be "AmourShipping hints galore" in this chapter, but quite unfortunately, I was unable to fit in something sweet and juicy. So, I decided to leave that aspect on a cliffhanger. But do not worry! That'll be visited in the next chapter, without a doubt, and we're going to see a lot of the AmourShipping that I promised! ;D ;D ;D
Also, I just love giving all these backstories to all these background Performers. It's a shame Serena never got a serious rival in the XY saga, so I thought I'd use them to fulfill that part in this fic.
Now then, I'd like to thank the following people for reviewing:
-TheDarkRising: If you're going to review, could you PLEASE give some more substance to your review next time? I'd really like to get some substantial feedback from you. I'm not a huge fan of one-liner reviews like that. It tickles me the wrong way.
1) Well then, I'm glad my updates bring you joy and excitement in that regard. :D
2) Yep. And just wait till you see how he has to deal with an angry Serena when they're MARRIED! :O
3) HOORAY! Bonnie and Selene have become fire-forged friends! And now, the teasing will be endless and relentless! :D Not to mention the support they'll get from their cute Electric-type Pokémon.
4) Well, of course Aria's gotta show everyone who's boss. She isn't called the Kalos Queen for nothing! The real question is what kind of price being Kalos Queen has to pay...
5) As a Showcase producer, her reaction will likely not be looking too bright. But as the mentor to the Kalos Queen and a former Kalos Queen? We shall see...
6) Looks like you might need to refresh yourself on some of the earlier chapters... ;)
-Amourshipper35: Unfortunately, the group has a few more hurdles to clear before this whole dilemma is finished... ;)
-Dragon King Ryouga:
1) But they don't know that. That's the funny thing. XD
2) Ohhhhh, I can assure you, those three would be the trinity of pink-faced, steam-jettisoning embarrassment.
3) Indeed she's pretty shrewd. And with her being the new judge of Yancy's Theme Performance round, it's going to be a tough obstacle for Yancy to overcome.
4) Whatever that threat was going to be, it was probably going to be something that would make even Parker shudder in his shoes.
5) Yeah, that would indeed be pretty hard. But I guess Selene could just say it's a baby Darumaka or something. XD XD XD
6) I believe Floyd is the older one. Or wait, is it Lloyd? I can no longer tell either. XP But one thing's for sure: Floyd and Lloyd are the bigger idiots, considering they obviously don't have consciences, unlike Team Rocket.
-stellar014: That topic will be for a follow-up fic to address. ;)
1) Well, in my case, you will know if I gave up when I update the summary of my fic saying it's been discontinued. Trust me, I have been in your shoes whenever it came to favorite fics of mine no longer being updated. And let me tell you, it really, really, REALLY ticks me off when my favorite authors vanish on me without a word. That's why it's a policy of mine to keep my readers in the loop as often as I can, via profile updates and summary updates. The only reason why I would be quiet for an extended amount of time is because something happened to me that was out of my control, e.g. being in a car crash (which I pray never happens to me).
2) No, Yancy hasn't performed yet. But she is now, and it's going to be quite the spectacle, let me tell you. ;) As for the Freestyle Performance, I see what you mean by that. And given what the Exhibition Showcase's Freestyle Performance will entail, I probably will just devote the first fourth of the appropriate chapter to that. I honestly just want to get to the ball section, because THAT'S when the story starts to turn around when it comes to shipping. ;D
3) Ahhh, okay. Well then, I'll give a backstory on that in the next chapter. But regardless, it's clear Clarice doesn't have the best self-esteem, and Showcases have played a role in that...
4) Well, you never know. Maybe Aria will marry Monsieur Pierre in the future. XD XD XD XD XD
-Guest reviewer #1: Well, you can expect this chapter to come up now. XP Jokes aside, I try to update this story on a monthly basis, but I'll let you know if something else comes up through my profile.
-MythGirl Writes: Don't worry. Everything will be rainbows and sunshine for the next few chapters. :D
-Traxamis (guest reviewer): Methinks you need a little refresher on certain old chapters as well... ;)
-Rajiv A. Rajaram: Well, like I said, you never know about Aria and Foster... XP XP XP
-Guest reviewer #2: Thanks! I'm glad you think the chemistry's good.
-Guest reviewer #3: Don't worry. There will be AmourShipping hints galore in the next chapter, if the ending is to be of any value at all! :D
1) Yep, there's just lots of stuff happening, and so little time to make sense of it all! Don't worry, though; the new round of Theme Performances should keep everyone's attention off the more complicated stuff.
2) Don't worry, I intend to give Ash and his friends just that. I'm not THAT sadistic, you know!
-ValorFennekin: No, she won't, sorry. If she did, she would've entered the story ages ago.
Well, hope you enjoyed this early chapter! TheCartoonFanatic01 is out. PEACE!