• Ten years and still kicking! Nominations are here for the 2020 Nuzforums Extravaganza! #HappyNuzYear
  • Want to support a good cause? Visit https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ to see how you can help the Black Lives Matter movement, even without donating.
  • This spooky-themed special episode wraps up the inaugural season of The Writer's Locke! As a sweetener we’ve included a roundtable with glancesherlock, all about Gracidea! Clocking in at around 100 minutes, this episode is an absolute chonker and an utter delight. Thank you for your support, Nuzforums!
  • New here and still figuring out the site? Check out the New User Guide and FAQ for some help!
  • Trying to figure out how the different forums have changed? This thread is the place for you.
  • One of our new features includes receiving a message on Discord when you have alerts. Find out how, here!
  • Have you seen our Stream tab? It let's you peek in and chat with our forum streamers on-site, from both Twitch AND Picarto! You can even view multiple streams at once. You can submit your own channel via Streams > Submit Channel.
  • If you're a fan of giving and recieving constructive criticism check out this resource about Critique Level Tags!

Written Story Galar Teen The Applin Of My Eye

Thread Description
Wooloolocke of love, ch11 up

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
494
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
Hey so I've been writing a thing for a while that's basically just an excuse to be as saccharine and as southern as possible. Are we still in Galar? Or are we in deep Antebellum South? THE WORLD MAY NEVER KNOW.

Anyways. This is a Wooloo Nuzlocke! Where I only used Wooloo! Because wynaut, am I right? Just your basic nuzlocke, catch a full team, name 'em, if one dies, it's boxed. That's it.

Remember how I wrote GitM? No rules, just fun and write? This is the same! But like, complete opposite tone from GitM, but just as lazily-fun written. What plot? What antagonists? We're here for lovey-dovey stupid cute stuff and nothing else. This is INDULGENT and SACCHARINE shit and very much for fun. (I swear I'm working on REAL projects, I am, I'll post one of them eventually.)

Happy Valentine's Day! If you would like something that's basically just a cutesy, sweet, romantic, following-the-tropes easy read, this is gonna be it for you. I'm going to post the first and second chapter because you all need to be able to meet the love interests first thing. The slogan for the run is, "Why have a love triangle when it could be a threesome?" The other slogan for the run is, "By god, if I turned myself into a Milo of Turffield stan, then I'm taking you all down with me!"

Rating is K? Or E for everyone?? (Most likely there will be some "Mature" for "Bad Touching" entries that will not be posted here, so you'll have to bug me for those installments.)




“Hey, I just met you and this is crazy
But here's my number, so call me maybe”

Call Me Maybe __ Carly Rae Jepsen



I’m carding wool with my grandmother when the letter comes in.

We’re really the only house that sits out on Route 1. Our road is called Woolwich Way, an old dirt road that’s off the beaten path between Postwick and Wedgehurst. Named, of course, for the herds of wooloo that live on our lands and the old wool factory. The only mail we get are bills, solicitors, and old fashioned people who don’t know how to contact me online for a commission.

So when a letter comes in from the Pokemon League, stamped for me, our mailman is enthusiastic that I open it now, before he leaves.

“Bonnie, it’s been ages since you were in school out in Motostoke, wasn’t it?” he asks. James has run mail for us for ages, so he know my grandparents and always notices when he delivers something different. It’s either the blessing of small town folks, or a curse. “Do they want you back out on the gym track?”

My grandmother leans forward, eyes shooting up. “Is that an endorsement letter?” Her face pinches up with a shrewd smile, and she wags a finger at me. “I knew you would get back out there! Who endorsed you? When did you sneak off to do this?”

For a moment, I stare at the letter. Because this is ridiculous. I didn’t think he was serious. “I didn’t,” I tell Mamaw. I look away from our lumps of wool and out to the fields where my sheep are—separate from the masses we harvest wool from in the factories. My favorites, all handpicked over my time here.

The Unbeatable Champion Leon Wright, the “Wright Man For The Job!” Leon, who hands out one endorsement a year.

Impressed by a sheepherder.

James checks his watch, hefts the bag on his shoulder and glances back at his truck. “Well?” he says. “Open it!”

I do. The peanut gallery is craning their necks like swanna to get a look at the paper. The nut job has signed off on a gym endorsement for me, allowing me, for the first time in years, to again pursue my old dream of taking the gym challenge.

I laugh and show James the letter, who immediately congratulates me and fawns. He hands it to Mamaw who coos, asking, “How did you do this, Bonnie? That’s MY girl! Endorsed by the Unbeatable Champion! Oh, where’s Chuck? Lassie!” Our herdier perks up and leaps to her feet. “Go fetch Chuck for me, he has to hear this!” Lassie barks and rushes off towards the farmhouse, and my grandmother smiles at me, all the lines of her years smiling with her. “Bonnie, fess up, dearie. How did you get endorsed again?”

I shake my head, and I say, “I was just doing my job! A pack of thievul came from the forest for my sheep, so I ran them off!” I wave my hand and pick up my carding tools and continue to comb through the knotted wool. “Everyone knows Champion Leon is horrible with directions, so he somehow ended up out this way instead of at home. He thought it was impressive that I ran off a pack of thievul with nothing but my wooloo, Lassie, and the Matron.” Out in our fenced in yard is about a dozen wooloo, and the Matron, Mamaw’s dubwool. “It wasn’t anything special.”

“Special enough to catch the Champion’s eye,” Mamaw says. She picks up her carding tools and joins me in combing through the wool. “It’s no mean feat, protecting all of the little ones from the wild pokemon. You should be proud!”

“You’re going to accept, aren’t you?” James asks. He’s shuffling backwards, knowing he needs to get back on the road to make his deliveries on time. I wave him off.

“Maybe. I’ll have to think about it.”

“Not the answer I wanted to hear!” he says. He waves when he gets in the truck though. “Come on, Bonnie! I expect to see you on the big screen! That’s an endorsement from the Unbeatable Champion! You can’t refuse!”

I roll my eyes and wave. The mail truck pulls away, and Lassie goes rocketing after him, barking up a storm. Behind us, I hear Papaw holler, “What! What is it? What did I miss? Lassie was impatient!”

Mamaw stands up to meet him on the path, and I furiously work at small pieces of wool. I always knew Leon was a ditz, but this really takes the cake. He endorsed me on a whim because he got lost and saw me fight thievul. I’m sure he looked up my track record, jogged his memory about who I even am, but that was ages ago. Long gone are the days where Leon swore I was going to be his rival. (Sonia, taller, prettier, richer, ended up taking that position when I bowed out of the gym challenge.) Maybe he’s riding a high on nostalgia.

“Well, you’re going to do it, aren’t you?” I look up, and I see Papaw, short and nothing but skin and bones with his cane. His face pinches up in a smile. “I always told you to try again, Bonnie! This is your chance!”

“Oh Papaw,” I say. I throw more combed wool on my pile. “That was ages ago! I’m grown now. I have a job, and I like it out here. I can’t just leave the farm!”

“Oh yes you can,” he says under no circumstances. He jabs his cane at me. “You’ve used the farm as an excuse for too long, young lady. First you dropped out because of me, and then we had the bad season with the thievul. You dropped out the year Mamaw got pneumonia. Refused to try to get endorsed the year I was down in my back.” He raps my knuckles with his cane when I don’t stop working. I look up at him with warm cheeks, and he accuses, “How long are you going to keep putting off your life for us?”

I fiddle my fingers. “I’m not.”

“Are too.” Mamaw gangs up on me with him. “You went to school to be a journalist, and now where are you? Helping us at the farm.” She huffs and scraps at the wool. “You’ve been stopping everything for us. Don’t you want a chance to go on this journey? This is the third time you’ve been endorsed, and you know what they say: third time’s the charm.”

I look out on my little herd of wooloo and sigh. I was at the top of my class with Leon back in the day. I know I could have went far, even with only a normal and grass type pokemon license. I owe the Yarrow’s, long-standing owners of the Turffield gym, for giving me the discount on the grass licensing process. The old leader was the first to endorse me. Milo was the second.

My mind drifts with the waxen dreams of my youth. I buff them shiny in my thoughts, testing out what a thrill it might be to officially dynamax, to finally have my chance to prove myself. Wouldn’t it be something to get out on the track for once? Papaw isn’t sick. Mamaw is in stellar health too. I’ve just been on the farm for so long I’m not sure how well I’d do anymore.

But Leon is still impressed with my battling, and he’s been the reigning Champion for ten years now, undefeated. There has to be merit in that.

“I think it’s high time you put yourself first,” Papaw says to me. He smiles at me, and his brown eyes are rich with warmth. “After all, I’d be right proud to see my girl winning that gym challenge.”

My heart flutters at the thought. I give him a shy smile. “You think I could do it?”

“I know you could.”

Mamaw reaches over and slaps my arm good naturedly. “Not to mention, the first gym is Milo.”

I groan and flop back in my picnic chair. “MAMAW.”

“I’m just saying, the boy’s got a good head on his shoulders, heart of gold, and my how he’s filled out. Handsome lad, Bonnie,” and she waves her carding comb. “You’d be remiss letting him slip away again.”

I flush. It’s no secret who Mamaw’s wanted me to marry all these years. “That was ages ago, Mamaw. He probably doesn’t even remember me.”

She tuts her tongue. “I’m just saying.” She winks at Papaw. “A very eligible boy, that one.”

Papaw nods thoughtfully. “I’d let him carry me bridal style.”

“PAPAW!”

***​

I decide to do it for a multitude of reasons. The major reason is my grandparents won’t let me NOT do it.

The other reason is that I do crave it. After being stuck on a farm all my life, my wanderlust has reached it’s zenith. Going to school in Motosoke before my first endorsement were the peak years of my life where I saw new things, tried new things, and met new people. The gym challenge gives me the perfect chance to see the region.

The last reason is I want to prove myself. Who doesn’t want to see how far they can go up the gym challenge? I want to be one of the ones to make it to the Champion Cup. I know I could do it. I’ve always been talented enough for this, and my babies are talented. I’ll take them as far as I can, and if I need to switch up my team later, I can. But for now, I walk out onto the pasture where my sheep are to pick who should go with me.

They bleat in the springtime sun, freshly sheared less than a month ago now with new fuzz on their bodies. I click my tongue, catching their attention. “Come here, everyone!” The Matron stays sitting, lazily munching on grass, but her children all race up to me. Lassie does too, and I have to shoo her off so she quits chasing the wooloo about.

“Okay babies,” I tell them. “I’m going to fight on the gym circuit. We’re going to conquer gyms, do all that cool stuff. Who wants to come with me?”

Several back away. Several scream at me, head butting me, and I laugh, wading through a sea of clouds.

“Okay, Blanche! Calm down, I’ll take you with me! You too, Dawson, you brave little boy.” I scrunch his cheeks and nuzzle my forehead to him. “You’ll have to take less naps though. We have to train hard, right?” He nibbles at my hand, and I rub his back. “Who else? Oh, Dottie!” I shove her face away when she forces her way to the front. “Oh no, you’re too sweet, Dottie! What if something happened to you?” She butts at my knees, and I smile. “You’re so little, sweetie, are you sure? If you change your mind about battling, I can always send you back home.” Dottie is insistent, and she hops, kicking her feet. “Yes! Okay, we have three! I need three more!”

The rest of the herd shuffles uncertainly. The crisp spring breeze pulls at my skirt, and I’m thankful for the fleece sweater I’m wearing. I should have slipped some tights on. I survey my sheep, thinking of the thievul battle we all skirted out of without a casualty. I look at my little wooloo that’s horn is already cocked out and growing crooked. “Henrietta? Do you think you could come with us? You noticed the foxes first. I’d love to have someone smart like you with us.”

She skirts about, clearly hesitating, and I say, “It’s okay if you don’t want to. It’s good to be careful about things.” I survey my others. Some have backed off, but some still linger. “The Champion was impressed with all of you, so I’d like to take you on the circuit, at least for a little bit. Gloria? Do you think you could come with us? You’re very strong and defensive. I think that would be helpful.”

Gloria bucks up when I single her out. She plants her front hooves and gives a vicious “Baa!” I can still see the thievul’s teeth marks raked down her hindquarter where she barely escaped.

When Gloria chooses to come, Henrietta—not to be outdone by her sister—bleats and pushes in front of her. I laugh, pull on their stubby horns and say, “Okay you two! Be nice, we’re a team now!”

Last, after a bunch of shuffling back and forth, I see Atticus. A longer tail than the rest of them, it swishes when he plods up. I coo, “Oh, what a dear, are you sure, Atticus?” He shies away uncertainly, my scared baby boy, and then he gives a big, firm nod. I rub his nose. “Aw, thank you, Atticus.” I stand up and smile at them. “Looks like we’ve got our team! Wish us luck, Mama?”

The Matron lifts her head and bleats, warm and low. Whatever she says, it’s good encouragement for my little wooloo herd, because they all start talking up a storm and skittering around me. I laugh, and holler, “Okay, stick together! Mamaw’s got pokeballs for you all, so let’s go!”

I use my shepherd’s crook to separate the herd from one another. Lassie helps round up the ones who are staying near the Matron, and I lead the rest of them up the hill to the house. The group briefly freaks out when I catch Gloria in a pokeball—they’ve never seen it before, I can’t blame them—and once every sheep is accounted for, we label their pokeballs with their initial. We differentiate Dawson and Dottie’s by putting “Dot” on hers.

Endorsement was two weeks ago. We’ve got about one more week before the opening gym ceremony. But first, I release my sheep for a long walk this morning down the dirt road to Postwick. I use my shepherd’s stick to make sure they stay on the path. It’s sunny and breezy, and the day should warm comfortably despite the early spring season. Today, I get to meet Hop, the Champion’s younger brother.

The last time I saw Leon’s little brother was ten years ago when his mother was holding him during the match that got Leon endorsed by Chairman Rose. Leon called my house to arrange our meeting. He wants Hop to have a rival, and he figured since he endorsed us both that we would push each other. I agreed, for lack of reason to say no. The only thing I know about Hop is he has nearly as many type licenses as Leon, and there’s been talk of if the only one to topple Leon’s regime will be his younger brother.

My small rabble of friends I hang out with are begging me to get Leon’s number for them. The best I could do is laugh and tell them if I actually got the Champion’s number, I’d hawk it to the highest bidder.

When I reach Postwick, I return my sheep so I don’t clutter the streets. It’s easy to navigate the small town, and easier to find the Wright residence—given it’s the only two story, plus-an-attic mansion in town. Leon has a very nice paycheck that he likes to spend on his mother.

Two purple heads are in the yard. One much younger and one much more handsome. I draw in a breath. Fine, he’s as pretty as they say he is, I’m grown enough to admit it. Doesn’t mean Leon’s head isn’t in the clouds and as full of just as much cotton.

Hop shouts when he sees me. “Hey!” He waves his hand to gesture me closer, so I walk onto the large yard. I spy the backyard battlefield, and I realize quickly what I’m in for. “You’ve got to be Bonnie Howard! Lee’s been talking about you!”

“Hey, Bonnie!” They greet me with the same big grin that crinkles up their eyes. Leon’s wearing that gaudy Champion’s outfit, but it’s mostly the tacky sponsorship cape that’s doing him in. The spandex hugs him all too tightly, so I focus on Hop.

“Hello,” I say, and I try not to be bashful. I wave at Leon, who beams, and I say to the teen, “You must be Hop.”

“That’s me!” Hop lifts his chin, and at full height, he’s already taller than me. He’ll likely be as tall as his brother, who dwarfs my five foot two. “Lee said you ran off a hoard of thievul with nothing but wooloo! I can’t believe it!”

Okay, now I’m embarrassed. “He’s telling you tall tales,” I say, waving my free hand and downplaying it so Hop doesn’t act like I’m the best thing since sliced bread. “I had a dubwool and herdier helping me! Honest, it wasn’t that great.”

“Don’t listen to her,” Leon cuts in. He smiles grandly, and talks me up by saying, “You had to be there, Hop! That many thievul and she didn’t lose a single sheep? That’s good battling! Did you know I used to know Bonnie?”

I groan. “Leon—”

Ten years of not knowing each other doesn’t put a dent in Leon’s glee and Hop’s starry eyes. “Bonnie here gave me a run for my money back in the day! Did you know I was going to make her my rival?”

Hop gapes. I’m flushed so bright I’m sure I’m glowing at this point. “You were going to be my brother’s rival?” He grins. “Yes! You’re going to be the greatest rival ever!”

“Leon, that’s not true!” I frown at him, and I lean on my shepherd’s crook. “Don’t act like Sonia wasn’t always going to be your rival!”

“Only since you dropped out,” Leon says. He’s still smiling. My anger washes over him like water on an oiled surface. “You’ve dropped out of the gym circuit twice, Bonnie, and I can’t let you do it again!”

I groan and slap my palm to my face. “Maybe . . .” I mumble. I’m good, but I really doubt I’m as good as Leon is talking me up to be. I fought well against Leon back in the day, but he always beat me. Not sure that’s really rival material. Hard to beat a charmander when you’re fighting with a wooloo and grass types. Sonia had more type licenses than I did, so she could always put up a better fight.

“For certain,” Leon corrects me. He grins at Hop. “You two are going to be great rivals! I hope you push each other to become stronger and learn from one another. Now, how about you two show me a champion battle!”

There it is. Hop leaps to attention, exploding, “All right! I’ve got two, Bonnie, what about you? Can we do a two on two?”

I nod. “Sure we can.”

He puts a fist out to me. “Wooloo buddies.”

I bump his fist with mine. “Wooloo buddies,” I agree.

The battle is remarkably short, as young pokemon battles are wont to be. (They don’t have the kind of endurance to have a long battle yet.) I lead with Gloria who takes down Hop’s wooloo. (His name is Snowball.) His scorbunny forces our retreat, and I switch to Dawson.

Hop’s scorbunny has Ember. All three of us find out very quickly that Dawson is extremely flammable since he’s Fluffy, so the battle ends for me in defeat with three pairs of hands frantically patting Dawson’s flaming wool out.

***​

Hop looks at me sideways. “So you’re really going to try to do this with a herd of sheep? No offense, but that seems really limiting. How are you going to counter fighting types?”

My preconceptions of the wild area was that it would be: big, beautiful, and full of predators that want to eat my wooloo. It proved to be just that, so I haven’t let my sheep out except for Gloria. She’s bleating with uncertainty, staying very close to my heels.

“Well, Leon endorsed me mostly because of my stunt with my wooloo,” I tell him. “So, I guess regardless of what happens, I want to take them as far up the track as I can. If it’s too hard, I can always send them back home.”

“That’s pretty cool,” Hop tells me. I draw shapes in the dirt with my stick, and Hop stokes the fire again. The nights out here are still cold since the wind is broken only by the tent we’ve been sharing. “I hope you can get past Milo’s gym with them. It’d be really cool to be able to say you got a gym badge with nothing but wooloo. That’d be bragging rights.”

I smile. I draw a cloud in the dirt and add legs to it. “You think so? Is that really bragging rights? Sounds like a person who just likes wooloo too much.”

“With good reason! Wooloo are great!” Snowball looks up and bleats at Hop; Gloria bleats at Snowball; Snowball talks back, and I hitch the crook of my staff around Gloria’s hindquarter when she charges.

“Be nice, Gloria!”

I pull her back to me, and Hop laughs. “She’s got a lot of fight in her, that’s all! That’ll be good spirit to have out on the gym track. But yeah, it’s TOTALLY bragging rights! People don’t walk into the gym challenge without coverage! Even with a single type license, you can go really far with covering your weaknesses by building your team up proper.” Hop cranes his neck abruptly, and I watch his eyes narrow at his scorbunny. The rabbit is full of so much energy it hasn’t stopped running since it was let out, but it must swerve back within the bounds Hop set because he relaxes again.

“I’m just saying,” Hop says, and he plops next to the fire. “It’s totally bragging rights to beat a gym with a team of all one pokemon species.” He snickers. “Man, imagine the look on Lee’s face when he finds out you’re trying to take a herd of sheep on this thing!”

I finish drawing my wooloo in the dirt. I knock Gloria’s front and gesture to it with my staff. “Hey look. It’s you.” She bleats, and she pounds her hooves in the dirt. She draws something, and I judge by the very bad stick figure that—“Oh is that me? Oh you shouldn’t have, Gloria! It’s beautiful! You. Are. An. ARTIST.”

She hikes up her chin as if she’s outdone me, and I let her believe it. I shiver against a chill wind as the evening sets deep, and I ask, “What if I trounced the first TWO gyms with my herd?” He looks at me in shock, and I wiggle my brows with a shark-like grin. “Look, wooloo evolve early, right? I think a bunch of dubwool could last against the second gym too, right?”

Hop laughs with impish delight. “PLEASE crush Nessa with a bunch of sheep. I’m BEGGING you. She would FREAK. Have you seen the way she loses?”

I smile, thinking of her hair-rending freak outs. “That might be cruel. She’d never live it down.” Look, I want her to like me, not resent me.

“But it’d be so fun to watch.” Hop pulls out his rotom phone, tapping away as he pulls up the live stream of Leon and Raihan’s exhibition match. “I bet you could do it. You’d probably have to find some coverage for Kabu though, I hear he’s killer. They call him The Firewall for a reason,” and he grins while he says that terrible pun.

We settle by our campfire, our sheep behind us to block the wind and act as cushions. Hop returns his haywire scorbunny, as the exhibition match winds up to start. I pull yarn from my pack and ask Hop, “Hey, want me to make you a scarf?”

“Whoa! Really?” He sits up straight, looking at the yarn I’ve got stuffed in my pack. “Yeah I want a scarf! Can it have a wooloo on it?”

“Sure thing,” I tell him. I rifle in the pack. “What color do you want it to be?”

“Red!”

I think of his admiration of his brother. “You want gold edges on it too?”

“Absolutely!”

I settle down to crochet his scarf while we watch the exhibition match. You know how almost all of the girls of the region have a crush on the Unbeatable Champion? With good reason, for sure. But I was never the girl with a poster of Leon Wright in my room. Unfortunately, my tastes ran . . . Mh, darker, you could say. And taller.

Raihan Garrick is just as pretty as he’s always been, but unfortunately, he’s grown up from a sweet boy who learned from his losses to a stuck-on-himself superstar. Even in battle, he can’t put that phone down. Honestly, I’ve never seen someone more self-absorbed.

If I don’t like Leon because his head is full of cotton, I can’t stand Raihan because his head is full of himself. I took his poster off my wall years ago. It’s helpful to get over childhood crushes, especially celebrity crushes.

(We’re not going to talk about who currently decorates my wall, nope, I am over celebrity crushes, I swear.)

Hop’s so enthusiastic about the battle it’s hard to see the screen sometimes when he jerks it. Still, we both know Leon’s not going to lose. This will mark Raihan’s tenth battle losing to him.

When Leon backs this battle into a corner, the camera pans in close on Raihan’s fierce snarl. I frown in annoyance.

How come it’s always the jerks who are so pretty? I sympathize with the endless girls and boys that are in love with Leon. Better a dumb himbo with a good heart to crush on instead of an egocentric ladies man.

I feel vindicated when Raihan loses. Serves the idiot right.

***​

Hop wants to stay in the wild area longer than I do, so we split apart halfway through the week. It’s a relief, honestly, because I like Hop, but he and his scorbunny are too much energy for me. I make it to Motostoke City two days before the opening ceremony. The city glitters with lights and bustles with activity, but when I taste the smog on the air, it’s definitely the part I don’t miss.

I stay in the Pokemon Center a night, having friendly battles with a few trainers that want to practice. Things are touch and miss with my herd—seems like others trained a bit harder in the wild area than I did—but people are friendly and like Gloria and Dawson. They ask me what other kind of pokemon I’m going to catch, and I tell them I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to keep an eye out for what kinds of pokemon would flesh my team out better if I plan on going far.

The next day, I pull my endorsement letter out of my pack. There’s a small schedule included: check in at the Budew Drop Inn, when to meet in the Motostoke Stadium locker rooms, release for break and to prepare for the formal dining and meeting event. Supposedly, it’s a chance to meet and greet with the gym leaders and your fellow trainers, and if you’re gunning to topple a gym leader, a place to network. I’m just hoping to leave it with some more friends. What would a pokemon journey be without some friends, right?

So I spend my day shopping the Motosoke boutiques. I’m so short it’s hard to find dresses that flatter me. My old prom dress doesn’t fit anymore—my butt’s too big for it—so I’m on the hunt for a new one. My old sparkly gray sandals will service just fine for shoes. I’m set on something that will flatter my butt since I don’t dress up often, but unluckily, that doesn’t seem to be the style anymore. Most of the skirts are short, flared ones that I’m sure I’ll flash people in.

I end up picking a blush pink dress. Floor length, lace, a touch deeper v-neck than I’d like, but you know what? It’s cute, I’m not going to trip in it, and it’s comfortable. The only way it could possibly be improved is with pockets.

Registration for the gym challenge is surprisingly easy. I show them the letter, fill out some paperwork (mostly disclaimers on pokemon death still being possible in such a grueling challenge) and receive my dynamax band. They size it for my tiny wrist too.

I try to pick 831 as my jersey number before I remember Milo owns the number. I bite my lip in annoyance and pick 832 instead. Fine, I can’t have wooloo’s pokedex number as my jersey number, so dubwool will have to do. I spend the rest of my day doing my nails, crocheting Hop’s scarf, and stressing over the opening ceremony.

I mean, how bad could it be? Mill around, eat rich people food, and they’ll probably have wine or champagne. It’s going to be fine. It’s going to be fun.

“Fight so dirty but your love so sweet
Talk so pretty but your heart got teeth
Late night devil put your hands on me
And never, never, never ever let go”

Teeth __ 5 Seconds of Summer



I’m viscerally reminded I haven’t been in the spotlight in ten years. Stepping out onto the pitch? In the bright white floodlights that blind you? In front of hundreds of thousands of cheering people? I hear the strains of, Just a small town girl! Living in a lonely world! when I stand out there in that ugly matching gym uniform with everyone else. Without my shepherd’s staff, I don’t know what to do with my hands, so I end up fiddling with my shorts, trying to disappear from the cameras.

The day is a dreary, Galarian rainy day. The domed top of the arena is closed up.

Standing on the pitch added ten years of life to Hop. It drained ten years from me. Maybe gym battling was a mistake, you know? At max, I live with two people in my life, and that’s my grandparents. I’m not used to the attention.

So because I’m already a mess of nerves, when I enter a sparkly ballroom with finger foods and drinks lining the walls and a bunch of strangers, my first thought is, Oh no. Almost all the girls are wearing short dresses. I’m wearing a floor length. This was formal, right? Formal means floor length, we’re in a ballroom, why did no one tell me I was supposed to wear a short prom-like dress?

I stay close to the sides, away from the well-dressed masses and praying my short height hides me. I nibble at a chocolate cupcake in the corner, and I wish I had my staff. I bet I could herd these people out of my way just like they’re sheep. Instead, I stare at the pillars holding up the room, the extravagantly painted ceiling, and crystal chandeliers. The more I people watch, the more I realize I’m the only girl not wearing heels. I’m the only one not decked out in make up. The other girls are jangling with jewelry—I’m wearing the single tear-drop pearl necklace and earrings I got for my sixteenth birthday.

Oh no. I do not belong here. How am I both overdressed in a floor length gown and under-dressed without proper makeup and heels? What am I doing here? I have no idea how any of this works. Where’s Hop? He’s the only one I know. I stand on my toes and crane my head. It’s impossible for me to see anything around people, but it’s easy to tell where people are flocking: Raihan’s got a slew of fans around him, all clucking like pigeons as he takes selfies and pictures with them. Two-faced jerk. I assume Hop is buried in the flock of girls and boys crowding around Leon, but it’s impossible to tell.

Fine. All alone with a cupcake wrapper and I don’t know where the nearest trash can is. Shit. I’m an idiot. Maybe I should go home now—

“Bonnie? That you?”

My savior is only a few inches taller than me, but twice as wide. I deflate when I see Milo approach, and he’s got a broad, sweet smile on his face and two glasses of something white and sparky in his hands.

“Milo,” I say. He proffers the drink to me, so I take it from him. Then we shake hands, and my gods his palm is massive and swallows my hand whole.

“Nervous?” he says amicably. “I’m the same in a place packed with folks like this. That’ll help relax you.” His gaze softens as he looks me up and down. “Well, don’t you look pretty as a peach. Don’t think I’ve seen you in a dress before.”

“It’s new,” I say. I turn the glass in my hands and watch the liquid swirl. I’m painfully aware of hunching my shoulders, so I try to smooth them out. “I don’t own too many dresses, so it’s nice to have a reason to dress up.” I take a nervous sip, looking at the way his arms are nearly bursting from his suit coat. Okay, so Mamaw is right. Milo has filled out very nicely, and he’s still as nice as ever. He hasn’t changed at all. Maybe she’s right, I should just marry him and settle down herding wooloo with him.

“You look nice too,” I offer.

His face pinches up with delight. “Thank you! Like you said, it’s good to have a reason to dress up,” and he tips a stylish hat to me. “Don’t tell anyone,” he says, and he drops his pitch, leaning in, “but I sneaked out of wearing a tie with the scarf.”

My eyes alight on his green ascot with little applin embroidered into it. “Your secret’s safe with me, just as long as you don’t tell anyone I’m wearing flats.”

Milo laughs, and it’s warm, boisterous laughter that fills the room. Heads turn, and I flush, suddenly wondering if my dress is cut too low. “Are you excited about the gym challenge?” he asks me. “You looked like a wooloo in headlights out on the pitch.”

My thoughts turn inward to my knotted stomach. “I’m starting to regret this already, honestly,” I tell him.

“Oh no you don’t,” he says. “You done bowed out twice before, Bonnie! I know you’re good enough for this.” He gives me a shrewd smile, and he lifts his brow. “What, my endorsement wasn’t good enough for you? Only the Champion actually gets you out on the pitch?”

I flush and pat my straightened hair down, making sure it’s still tucked in it’s low braid. “That’s not it at all, Milo. Papaw went down in his back that year. I needed to stay home and help on the farm.”

“I understand,” Milo says, and I hear in his voice that he does. I drink on my wine, thankful that at least someone here can understand something about the farm life. “I think this is your year, though,” he says to me. He smiles, tiny nose wrinkling up and freckles sprayed across his face. “Leon doesn’t give out endorsements lightly, so for him to give you one when he already gave one to Hop is a big deal. I won’t have you backing out this time. If something happens out at the farm this year, I’ll make sure to go down there and help out personally if it keeps you on the gym track.”

Yes, yes I’m blushing very hot now. I wave my free hand and shake my head, blurting, “Milo, you don’t have to—”

“You have a friend, Milo?” I look over, and oh gods, there she is. Nessa, gym leader, supermodel—my current crush, please don’t look at the poster on my wall—and she’s towering over me in a pair of sparkling pumps and an equally sparkling dress, looking like the little mermaid stepped onto land. She smiles. I blink stars from my eyes. “Hello,” she says. “My name is Nessa Lulina. Oh!” I see acknowledgment rise in her eyes. “I know you! You’re Bonnie Howard! Milo endorsed you! How many years ago was that, Milo?”

I take her hand, trembling so hard I’m going to spill my wine. Milo tells her, “Oh, that was five years ago now. I thought we’d never get her out on the gym circuit!”

“You’ll have to thank Leon for that,” Nessa says with a wink. Milo frowns.

“Not on your life! I endorsed Bonnie first. Turffield Gym has endorsed her TWICE and now he’s come to steal the glory of who my family has had confidence in all this time? No, I’ll support this wildflower, but I’m not letting Leon take all the prestige for endorsing this year’s winner.”

I choke on my wine. It snorts up through my nose, and I hunch over, coughing, because he can’t just call me a WILDFLOWER and insinuate I’m going to win, all in the same breath!

It’s Milo who quickly has his hand on my shoulder and his handkerchief at my face. I grab it, trying to stop choking on liquid and making a fool of myself. My face is burning by the time I fold up the handkerchief and hand it back to Milo, mumbling, “Sorry.”

“You alright?”

I nod, and Nessa smiles, saying, “Well, if Milo has endorsed you before, and Leon too, I’ll have to keep an eye out for you.” Her head turns when more trainers gather, drawn to her like a moth to flame. “Sorry, excuse me,” and she fluidly turns from us.

Before Milo is accosted, he turns his head up, hearing the music strains start up again. His face lights up. “Oh, I know this dance,” he says. He holds his arm out to me. “Care to dance?”

My face heats up again. “Sorry,” I stammer and lie, “I don’t know this one.”

“Shame,” he says. His attention catches over my shoulder, and he gives an apologetic smile. “You’ll have to save a dance for me, Bonnie.”

“Sure.”

He nudges me as he passes. “And hey? Go make some friends, or I’ll have to hold your hand all night.”

THAT is unacceptable, so I blurt, “Of course!” and make off before he can make good on that promise.

It doesn’t take long to integrate properly with the party. My eyes land on a group of girls. I edge closer to them, wondering how I’m going to break the ice, when one of them sees me. Her eyes widen.

“Oh my gosh! You guys, I think that’s her!” I freeze, cupcake wrapper and wine in hand. They release an assortment of gasps and come to meet me halfway. The first girl asks, “You’re Bonnie Howard, right? You’re the other one Champion Leon endorsed?”

“Uh, yeah,” I say. “That’s me.”

“Oh my gosh, you have to tell us about him!” The girls crowd around me, and I shrink, feeling even smaller than before. “How did you get him to endorse you?”

“What’s he like?”

“You’ve really gotten to meet him one-on-one?”

I shuffle my feet. My toes curl under the edge of my skirt, and I take a big drink, trying to trust Milo that it’s going to soothe my nerves. “I mean, he’s . . . He’s fine—” One of them whispers, “Yeah he’s fine,” and sends the girls into a tizzy of giggles. “I mean, he’s decent. He’s . . . tall.”

I wince at my dumb answers. I’m painfully aware of my drawl compared to their polished accents. I feel like a hick. Maybe I am.

“But he endorsed you, right?” One of the taller girls with brunette hair has her eyes on me. She’s sizing me up. “I have to keep a close eye on my competition. How did you do it? What types are you using?”

“Uh, normal and grass.”

“Huh,” she says, and I hear a huff to my side. My spine stiffens. Of course people think grass types are easily mowed and normal types are boring and crack under a single fighting type attack. Just because they’re common doesn’t mean they aren’t strong. “What made him endorse you? I haven’t heard anything about you.”

“I uh . . . I fought off some thievul with my wooloo.”

“Oh!” They seem more interested in that. “You beat evolved pokemon with some sheep?”

“I see how that could make a big impression,” the blonde mumbles.

“What’s your team right now?”

A small smile plays at my lips. “I’m uh, I’m using my wooloo right now.”

“That’s it?” The girl sizing me up frowns with disinterest. “That doesn’t seem so smart. See, I’m training fighting and ghost types.” She smiles and hikes her chin up. “Stow-On-Side’s types will put a stop to some silly sheep.”

“If she gets that far,” the black-haired girl says, and they all have a laugh at my expense.

My cheeks flush. Suddenly, my shoulders are squared and I’m glaring. “My sheep aren’t silly,” I snap. “If the Unbeatable Champion Leon was impressed with them, what makes you think I can’t take this entire gym track with them?”

“Oh yeah right,” the tall brunette says. “Come ON, you won’t even get past Nessa with a bunch of sheep. I don’t care how great you think they are. Any decent trainer knows to vary their team. You won’t last long like that.”

“Ah, there you are!”

The girls all turn with gasps, and I look up—and up. Oh gods. Oh no. There, in all his towering glory, is Raihan. Lax, easy smile, phone in hand, and the man didn’t even bother to wear a tie or scarf. He’s got the top two buttons of a rust-colored shirt popped open, showing off a sliver of dark skin.

For one moment, I hold my breath, bottling up every fancying thought I think of him. I tell myself, he’s too full of himself. Too tall. You can’t even kiss someone that tall. He’s a narcissist, hold it together.

He flips through his phone, and smiles. “Bonnie Howard, right? Leon endorsed you.”

Deep breaths girl. He’s not that pretty. (He IS that pretty.) “Yes, sir,” I say.

The girls around me are gossiping in whispers. Raihan puts his out his hand and says, “Come on, let’s dance.”

Um, NO. “Sorry, I don’t know this one,” I say quickly, but he waves his hand.

“Don’t worry, I’ll lead you. Can’t let Lee’s other chosen trainer wall flower all night.”

I hold up the empty wine glass and cupcake wrapper. “Sorry, I really can’t,” I blurt. I don’t WANT this man rescuing me some bully girls. I can handle myself.

“I’ll dance with you, Raihan!” one of the braver girls cuts in.

He waves his hand. “Thanks, but I’m here to check out the girl Lee endorsed.” He rescues the cup and wrapper from my hand before I can protest, and he hands them off to someone—have there been waiters this whole time? Or do people just materialize for him? He takes my arm, saying, “Just a quick dance. Come on, Miss Howard.”

There’s this moment where I’m half convinced I’m going to dig in my heels and refuse. But honestly, I don’t want to be swarmed again by those uppity city girls, and Raihan seems to be on his best behavior, so I acquiesce. Raihan pulls me out on the dance floor, puts his hand on the small of my back—holy gods his hands are huge too—and takes my free hand. I reach up, up, and I put my hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry about stepping on my feet,” he tells me. Dark eyes like melted chocolate settle on me. “The dance is just a small formality. I danced with Hop too. Wanted to get an uninterrupted chance to talk to one of Lee’s up and promising ones. He really knows how to pick ‘em, you know?”

His eyes are raking up and down me. My face is hot, and I set my jaw, not liking the way he’s looking at me. “It’s a surprise he picked me as well,” I tell him, staring firmly ahead. My line of sight is low on his chest. I stare at his top closed button. He looks good in his suit, but the cuffs are a touch too short. I look down, and so are the ankles. The fool’s outgrown his suit and hasn’t bothered to buy a new one. Tacky idiot.

Raihan chuckles. “Oh, I doubt it.” He pulls me along, and one of his fingers unfurls from my hand. I scowl when I catch him—hand still attached to mine!—scrolling on his phone. “You’ve got quite the track record, Miss Howard. Third time endorsed? We’re definitely missing something special here.” He grins wolfishly down on me, and I catch a flash of fangs that makes my heart jump. “I don’t think he picked you just because you’re a pint-sized stunner.”

His eyes flick down and up me again. I am massively regretting this v-neck dress that’s dipping even lower than Raihan’s unbuttoned shirt. I feel like the girls are on display, and I realize, being sexy is only nice until you’ve got some jerk ogling you.

The fangs are just part of his ensemble as a dragon themed gym leader. Stop freaking out. They’re fake. I bet if I reached up and pulled, I’d have a plastic cap in my hands.

“Can you NOT look at me like I’m a piece of meat?” I state as coolly as I can.

His insufferable grin widens. “When you’re pretty enough to eat? You’re snack-sized prey around here, Miss Howard. Hop told me you’re coming onto this gym track with nothing but a team of wooloo. That’s asking bigger predators to dine on you.”

He lords over me with his height, flashing fangs like he’s going to bite me right here and now. I hike my chin up and snap, “You know, you’re not the first braggart around here to act like you’re better than my wooloo. I’ll take this entire gym track with my sheep if that means I get the chance to beat you down to size.”

I mean to insult him, but he just laughs. My face burns in embarrassment and anger. “Miss Howard,” he says, “if you manage to even make it past Kabu with nothing but wooloo, I’ll consider my words eaten. Let’s face it, you’re a talented trainer, but you know it’s not possible to take this gym circuit with only one kind of pokemon.”

He swirls me across the dance floor, and I hear him laugh under his breath about me not being able to dance. I purposefully step on his toes. “Then I think you highly underestimate me, Mr. Garrick. The Champion endorsed me because he thinks I can make it to the top, and that means flattening your pathetic dragons underfoot.”

I see his eyes flash at that challenge. His hand tightens on my waist and on my hand, and I realize, I have the infamous Raihan’s full attention. His rotom phone is hovering behind his shoulder, forgotten. His lip curls.

“It’ll be a pity I won’t even get the chance to let my dragons sink their teeth into those sheep of yours.”

“Your dragons are weak. Their teeth are dull. Or do you not have a 0-10 losing streak against the Champion, currently?”

“You’re rather uppity for such a bitty thing, aren’t you? I’d like to see you take down Leon.”

“I will. That’s what he endorsed me to do.” I lift a brow at him. “And I’ll beat Melony too, something you can’t seem to do.”

His hands clench enough to pop my fingers. He yanks me closer, fingers biting into my back and hip, and he bends over, glowering down on me. “The day you can defeat a team of fighting types with those sheep of yours,” he snarls, “is the day you get to talk to me about type disadvantages! I’m the top gym leader in this region for a reason, Miss Howard!”

“You don’t act like it,” I snap. I refuse to back away from his proximity. I know he’s using his height as an intimidation tactic, so I keep my spine as straight as possible. “You’re an egomaniac, Mr. Garrick. You’re so conceited and concerned with yourself that your talent is slipping. Glued to your phone instead of the battle. Ha!” I sniff my nose up. “It’s no wonder you keep losing.”

“I invite you to make your best team and come to my gym,” Raihan sneers. He bends down so we’re nose-to-nose, and I refuse to give quarter and back away like he wants me to. “It’ll be a pleasure to prove to you why I earned the position I have.”

My tongue is quick on another retort, but the strains of the song have stopped, and someone clears their throat. Both mine and Raihan’s head snap towards the newcomer.

I recognize Kabu from watching his battles. He’s shorter than I expected—still taller than me—and lines full of the wisdom of years. His position as the Motostoke Gym Leader has been untouched for almost a quarter of a century now. He’s a cornerstone of the gym challenge.

He lifts a mild brow at us. “Am I interrupting something?” he asks. There’s something in his tone I can’t read well, but he cuts his eyes to Raihan.

Raihan lets go. I throw his hands off and step back. “No, you’re not interrupting a thing,” Raihan says. He rocks back on his heels and grabs his phone, typing fast. He lifts his voice, making sure to catch people’s attention. “Was just checking out the other one the Champion endorsed!” He smirks at me, fang bared when he announces, “Looks like Hop is the Wright choice this year!”

My fists knuckle up. Whatever Kabu attempts to say is drowned out by me shouting, “Talk all the smack you want, Mr. Garrick! But when I make it to your gym, I’ll defang your dragons. Then we’ll see who’s predator and who’s prey!”

He’s still gloating down on me, and I’ve had it up to here with him. I lift my foot and stamp down on his toes with all my might. Even without heels, the force of it is enough to make him swear. I whirl and stomp off, hitching my skirts up to stalk out of this ballroom.

Stupid ball. Stupid stuck up girls. Stupid, goddamn, holier-than-thou Raihan! I’ll take my herd of wooloo to the top if it’s the last thing I do!

***​

I flounce all the way through Motostoke Gym and to the front doors before I realize it’s pouring rain.

The night is black and the rain is heavy. I’m pissed as I consider how far it would be to the hotel next door. I’m going to be sopping wet. I wasted all that time this morning straightening my hair for this hairdo and it’s going to be undone by the rain. It’s not fair. I stand there, vibrating in anger, willing the rain to stop with my will alone.

It doesn’t stop raining, of course. Stupid, rainy Galar.

“Mind if I join you?”

I jump when Milo hesitantly walks up with me. I huff and let the anger drain from me. It’s not use getting bent out of shape over one jerk. Especially if I can make him eat his words later.

I’m just . . . Not sure how to do that with a herd of wooloo yet.

“Sure,” I say. I chafe my arms when he steps up next to me. There’s a moment where he hesitates to say anything. He rubs his hands on his thighs.

“I’m sorry about Raihan. He’s not usually so bad.” I snort a dismissive noise through my nose. Milo gently smiles. “Really, he’s not. What did you do, insult his dragons?”

It’s here that I flush guiltily. “Among other things,” I mumble to the floor. I know he was judgmental of me first, but Mamaw always said to heap the burning coals on their heads, not give them the satisfaction. I think of Raihan’s smug smirk, and I hate that I clearly gave him the satisfaction.

I hang my head. “He insulted my herd. I got mad.”

There’s a pause. “So the talk at the party was right? You’re going to take your wooloo on the gym challenge?”

I don’t like his tone. I cut my eyes to him, asking, “What, you don’t believe I can do it either?”

Milo hesitates, and I think that tells me all I need to know, but he says, “It’s gutsy and confident, and I like it. You’d definitely be the first person to do this with not just one type, but one kind of pokemon.”

I smile wryly at him. “Thanks.” I twiddle my thumbs. Milo clears his throat.

“You’re leaving the party already? I think Leon was wanting to see you.”

My shoulders cave. I shuffle on my feet. “They’re already making fun of me for the wooloo thing, aren’t they?”

“Not everyone.” I snort, and he gives a soft laugh. “Really, Bonnie, not everyone in there is so bad. I’ve met some real sweet gym goers. Marnie in particular looks like she’s going to go far.” He jerks a thumb back towards the party that’s not even half over. “Sure you don’t want to give it a go in there? You can use me as a shield if anyone’s being mean.”

He’s right. I should go back in there. I should go see Leon and thank him in person for endorsing me. I shouldn’t leave Hop hanging after he was so excited tonight. I should REALLY make a friend, but after I made a fool of myself in there? Making a scene? I’ve made a laughingstock of myself. Some hot-headed nobody using a herd of wooloo that the Champion endorsed. What am I doing? I’m making a fool of Leon’s reputation and his faith in me.

Maybe I should take this seriously. Leave my sheep at home instead of pursuing this out of spite.

“I think I’m just going to go back to the hotel,” I finally mumble to Milo. I look out at the rain. It hasn’t let up.

“Any reason you hesitated in the first place?”

I grimace. “Rain. It’s going to ruin my hair. I put a lot of work into it this morning.” Romantic tucks aren’t for extremely nappy hair like mine. I spent hours straightening my curls flat. One step into the wet, and my hard work is gone. I can’t believe I’m vain enough to whine about this when I accused Raihan of the same thing.

Milo hums in thought. “Hold on a second.”

He pulls off his ascot, and I stammer when he approaches, but Milo just hushes me. He wraps my hair up like he’s done this before, making sure every strand is hidden under the scarf, and he ties it below my chin. I hold my breath like an idiot, throat jumping when his coarse fingers brush my neck.

“Milo, you don’t have to—”

“Sure I do. Can’t let a fellow farmer ruin her hair, can I?” He takes the hat off his head and fits it on mine, and then, he smiles. “There we go,” he says. “Hair is protected!”

I flush, and I look at the floor. My toes curl in my sandals. “Shouldn’t you be in there? Isn’t it a gym leader requirement?”

“I can come back and fulfill all my gym leader requirements,” Milo says. “Gotta make sure the future Champion makes it back to her hotel safely, right? Especially if you’ve had a sour night.”

I peek up at him. His hair is creased from wearing his hat, and I can’t help the smile that sneaks to my face. “Looks like someone else’s hair could use some work.”

“Who, me? Naw, this is fine.” He fluffs it up with his fingers, sending red curls flying everywhere. My stomach flips.

Okay Mamaw, you can be a little bit right.

He takes my hand and tugs me toward the exit. The doors whiz open and the din of the rain fills the empty entry hall. At the last second, I hear him hum again, and he shrugs out of his jacket—

“Milo, NO, you’ve done enough to—”

“And what kind of gentleman would I be if I didn’t offer my coat to a lady?” I can’t do too much to fight him. I slip into a suit coat that dwarfs my slim frame. You could fit three of me in this thing. It smells like hay, musky closet, and some sort of sweet smelling cologne I can’t place.

I button the front buttons and clench the lapels closed. Milo takes my hand again and grins. His nose scrunches up with the motion. “You ready?”

“Ready.”

“Let’s go!”

I squeal when the first sheet of raindrops dump over me, but Milo and I go running through the rain. The hotel is just next door, but we have to cover a huge parking lot, the turf cutting a marker between the buildings, and the hotel parking lot. By the time we make it to the awning of the hotel, even if it’s barely a couple minute’s run, we’re soaking wet and laughing.

“The hair?” he asks. I take off his hat and untie the ascot. Milo grins. “Intact! Mission accomplished, ma’am.”

I give him the items back, and as he puts his hat back on, I stare at his chest because. Oh my. The rain and that white button up is a criminal combination. How the hell did he pour into that shirt in the first place?

My face blushes hot again. I look at the soaked hem of my skirt. “Um, this is yours too,” I say to him. I shrug out of his coat, shivering because now I’m wet and cold.

“Thanks.” He pulls it on even though it’s wet too and not going to protect him at all from the elements. He brushes dripping, red curls from his face and smiles at me. “So I’ll see you at my gym soon with those wooloo, right?”

After people belittling my sheep, my heart feels buoyant at his words. “Sure will,” I say.

“You better train up hard. First time dynamaxing can be scary, so it’s good to practice in the wild area.” I take his advice to heart. “I’ll be rooting for you, Bonnie.”

“Thank you.” When he turns, I jump. “Oh, Milo!” He looks back. I chafe my cold arms and add, “Can you tell Leon and Hop I’m sorry I bailed? I know they wanted me there.”

“No problem.” He smiles again. “You have a good night, Bonnie.”

“You too, Milo.”

He disappears into the rain, hustling back to the party even though he’s going to be drenched from head to toe now. I sigh. When I can’t see him anymore, I squeeze rainwater from my skirts and resolve to take a hot shower so I don’t catch a cold.

I reach up and touch my hair. It’s really dry and still straight and holding. I’ll have to get a shower cap so I don’t ruin my hard work and Milo sacrificing his clothes.

If you can believe it, this basically spawned as a "romance that hot Raihan for fun" fic thanks to 5sos's Teeth but then MILO came in and RUINED EVERYTHING. (Thank you, Milo.)

Also, I curbstomped Hop in-game and was VERY thankful for the ability Run Away in the wild area, woof.


TEAM WOOLOO:
Dottie:
Hardy. Highly curious. Run Away. (Steadfast)
Atticus: Relaxed. Quick to flee. Run Away. (Steadfast)
Dawson: Adamant. Takes plenty of siestas. Fluffy.
Gloria: Impish. Impetuous and silly. Run Away. (Steadfast)
Henrietta: Careful. Has a sturdy body. Run Away. (Steadfast)
Blanche: Brave. Is mischievous. Run Away. (Steadfast)
 
Last edited:

glancesherlock

Consulting Detective
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
32
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
737
Location
221B Baker Street
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ghost
Pokédex Entry
Just wants to stay home and solve crimes.
THIS TITLE. IS SO. CUTE.

I'm still sitting here like, "Oh my god she actually put it up." I salute you, madam.

Bonnie's farm life and family is so quaint and sweet. You really do capture the atmosphere of Postwick well. And all the Wooloo and their different personalities are so cute. You're a madwoman for this team, and I'm honestly curious to see how well you did, because I s2g if I have to sit through all these precious sheep dying in battle...

Okay, that ballroom scene. 😏 Sweet, charming Milo and stupid, sexy Raihan. I love it. They're such a stark contrast to each other, it's actually pretty funny that this is the triangle. Or will Nessa carrying Bonnie off in her swimmer arms, who's to say? Bonnie herself sticks out in the city scene, and as someone who grew up in a farming community, I relate to wanting to go on the defensive in an environment like this. Oh my god, how is she gonna handle Bede.....

I'm so happy this is here, and I can't wait for the first gym battle so we more of our friendly neighborhood homewrecker.
 

Second

A Yu-Gi-Oh! Protagonist but in Real Life
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
206
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
600
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
They / Them
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ice
Pokédex Entry
This Pokemon has a tendency to start many projects as they come to mind, but they tend to only finish projects other people have made deadlines for.
Your main character has a very strong voice, and this story so far is so... soft and sweet. You stomp that league with your herd of Wooloo. You show them.
 

Xita

Moo
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
186
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
93
Location
Germany
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Dark
I stay close to the sides, away from the well-dressed masses and praying my short height hides me. I nibble at a chocolate cupcake in the corner, and I wish I had my staff. I bet I could herd these people out of my way just like they’re sheep. Instead, I stare at the pillars holding up the room, the extravagantly painted ceiling, and crystal chandeliers. The more I people watch, the more I realize I’m the only girl not wearing heels. I’m the only one not decked out in make up. The other girls are jangling with jewelry—I’m wearing the single tear-drop pearl necklace and earrings I got for my sixteenth birthday.

Oh no. I do not belong here.
Wow it’s me.

This is cute, I wasn’t expecting a threesome to be one of the first SwSh nuzlockes I read but here we are. Bonnie’s a pretty cool protaonist so far, you can’t help but root for her. Milo is so nice, dang I was almost swept off my feet just reading this. On the other hand Raihan had the opposite impression so I’m curious to see how him and Bonnie will get along, heh.

A run with only Wooloo seems almost impossible to me so I’m curious to see how this shakes out. Good luck!
 

Rhema

Conqueror of the Azalea Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
218
Location
Hearthome City
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Pokémon Type
Fire, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
Oh my fucking gawd, this run gives me LIFE. I'm so glad it came up in writechat today, because as I told you earlier, I am a ho for romance.

First off, this run is so freaking cute??? How dare you. I was awwing outloud so much at this:

“Okay, Blanche! Calm down, I’ll take you with me! You too, Dawson, you brave little boy.” I scrunch his cheeks and nuzzle my forehead to him. “You’ll have to take less naps though. We have to train hard, right?” He nibbles at my hand, and I rub his back. “Who else? Oh, Dottie!” I shove her face away when she forces her way to the front. “Oh no, you’re too sweet, Dottie! What if something happened to you?” She butts at my knees, and I smile. “You’re so little, sweetie, are you sure? If you change your mind about battling, I can always send you back home.”
that my husband was like "wtf are you reading?" and I read it outloud to him, which then made HIM awww. These Wooloo are seriously so precious I could cry.

Secondly, the TENSION. The glances and the comments and all the damn things. You write it so well and it's making me just ship Bonnie with literally every character you introduce (well except Hop, that might be a little illegal if he's still supposed to be 10 lol). I'm personally rooting for Milo atm because he just seems so sweet, but I'm also a sucker for love-hate relationships.

This is an excellent, simultaneously wholesome and spicy run and I'm here for it. Can't wait to read more!
 

Uberle

Lur King
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
209
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
1,549
Nature
Lax
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Fire
Pokédex Entry
Stays in the distortion dimension where no one bothers him
I like this
A simple and fun read
It's gonna be fun just watching a wave of Wooloo sweeping through the region
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
494
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7
@glancesherlock YEAH WE'RE PUTTING UP INDULGENT, HASTILY-WRITTEN FICS! Reading everyone's polished stuff is wonderful, but I think there's always so much heart and fun that you can really find in fun, slapdash fics just because you had an urge. I'm glad the atmosphere is at least coming across well. (How well the wooloo do? Well. You'll just have to find out.) And YES, you had a ballroom sequence that I was like, "Yes, that. I'm stealing that. Thank you. Here's my version." Ironically, I think all 3 of these characters have a ridiculous amount of chemistry with each other.

@Second Thank you! Bonnie is very relaxing for me to write, and since my main fic right now is very dark, this lighthearted fic is very decompressing to write.

@Xita Honestly, I was surprised it has ended three ways? It initially started out as a self-indulgent "date that Raihan" fic, but then Milo homewrecked and had SO much chemistry with Bonnie. And then I realized the boys also had chemistry, so we deftly side-stepped another friggin' love triangle. I'm glad you identify with Bonnie loads! As for the sheep, thanks for that good luck, because I've still got some gameplay to finish!

@Rhema I'm so glad I'm giving you life!! And I'm SO glad you're attached to the wooloo herd. I was trying to make them all noticeably different and to get attached to them, since they sort of ARE a central focal point of the run. I'm glad it's cute and just spicy enough! Very much my goal in writing this.

@Uberle Thanks, I'm really hoping I can finish this locke with my wooloo. Still got a bit of gameplay to complete yet!

“We live and we learn to take
One step at a time
There's no need to rush
It's like learning to fly
Or falling in love”

One Step At A Time __ Jordin Sparks



“You know, you didn’t have to be so mean to her.”

Ah, so he decided Kabu’s reaming wasn’t enough? “Look, I get it,” Raihan snaps. “Don’t be mean to Little Miss Bo Peep. Kay? Back off.”

He fights with his buttons, short temper simmering as the guys change in the locker room. Milo stands there, as short and pert as his little farming buddy, still damp from white knighting with her in the rain. His nose wrinkles.

“What did she even say that’s got you riled up like this?”

“I don’t take kindly to anyone who assumes I didn’t earn my spot.” Raihan gives up on the buttons with a snarl. He pulls the shirt over his head, slaps it down into the locker, and rounds on Milo. The younger, smaller man looks away from him, face hot. “She insulted me, my team, and insinuated that I don’t have the talent to hold my position when I’ve held it for eight years now! She thinks she knows something about me when she’s just some backwaters farmer!” Milo still doesn’t look at him. Raihan relents with a wince, and he leans an arm on his locker. “Sorry,” he mutters. He jerks a shoulder. “Guess I let her get under my skin.”

Raihan casts his eyes about the locker room. Kabu’s already finished and left, efficient to a fault. Little Allister is struggling to pack his things as fast as he can. Piers? Never comes to these things, the lout, Raihan’s going to have to try harder to get him to come out of his hovel. And Gordie? Looking particularly smug and interested in the gossip. Raihan glares black enough to darken the sun, and Gordie shrugs. He puts his shades on his face, hefts his bag, and salutes.

Quickly, it’s just the two of them. Raihan rocks on his heels and rubs his fingers together. He’s never really talked much with Milo of Turffield. They’re so far apart on the gym track that there’s never been much business other than the opening ceremony that they share, and they live too far apart to keep close acquaintance. Still, he’s heard nothing but good about Milo: polite, kind, and hardworking, though maybe soft to a fault on the newbie trainers.

“I just—” Milo bites his lip and shakes his head. “I didn’t think she would bother you that much. I’m surprised she said those things. Bonnie’s real sweet, honest.”

“Yeah, she might be pretty, but she’s got teeth,” Raihan mutters. People don’t act like that around him. Arrogant, belligerent even, and meeting him tit for tat. She’s a fraction of his size, but she didn’t let him push her around. If she wasn’t such a bitch, he might like her for that.

Milo still won’t look at him when he says, a faint smile ghosting his lips, “Yeah, Bonnie’s a real spitfire, for sure. There’s a reason Turffield gym endorsed her twice. I’m glad things have settled at home for her so she can take the challenge this year.”

“Hey.” Raihan nudges one of Milo’s shoulders. What the hell, this guy is thick as hell. He might as well have nudged a boulder. “Sorry about the farmer comment. Nothing wrong with farmers, honest.”

“I know,” Milo says, but he’s still looking at his feet. He peeks up from under curly hair at him. “Nothing wrong with earning an honest keep for yourself either,” he says earnestly.

Huh. It’s no wonder everyone likes Milo. He’s just sweet and from the heart. Must grow ‘em differently down south. It’s nice. “Thanks,” Raihan says, and he means it. He finally kicks his loafers off and slips off his pants, saying, “You better not take it easy on her just because she’s cute and using wooloo.”

“I—I won’t!” Milo’s redder than a tomato berry though, so Raihan grins and laughs.

“Sure thing, lover boy.” Would you look at that? Farmer boy is cute all tied up like that. Hilarious how bad he’s got it for Little Bo Peep. He can’t blame him. He certainly got a good eyeful of her tonight.

His fingers itch. Raihan pulls on a pair of sweatpants and rubs his fingers together. He reaches for his phone, turns the camera on, and says, “Come on, Milo, let’s get a picture.”

“Aren’t you going to put a shirt on?”

“Nah, this one’s for the fans, they’ll love it. Haven’t given them one of these in a while.” He bends down and loops a long arm around Milo’s broad shoulders. “Say cheese!”

He snaps a photo of them, Milo’s cheeks still maddeningly pink. He types up, just talked with milo. pity I haven’t been hanging out with him more i’ll have to change that and posts.

“Y-You know,” Milo musters up, “you should apologize to her.”

Raihan groans. “Aw, you too? For what?”

“For being mean, of course.” Milo finally looks up at him, and he’s mushing his lips together with stubbornness. “I mean, I know you both said bad things to each other, but I reckon you’d both be off on a better foot if you’d apologize.”

“Look buddy, I can’t apologize for what’s true.” Raihan pulls a plain sweater over his head. He ties up his dreads, saying, “Wooloo? Seriously, Milo, she’s not going far like that.”

“I’ll take that bet.”

Raihan’s brow hikes up. “Oh yeah? What’s the wager?”

“If she makes it past me, you apologize for insulting her sheep.”

“Nuh-ah, face it, you’re soft as a marshmallow, Milo.” He flushes again. Shoot, how many times can a man blush? It’s almost endearing. Yeah, the distance is shit. Maybe he can pester Milo in chat enough to get him to participate more. “Try again.”

“If she beats Nessa, you apologize.”

“Okay, and what do I get when Nessa swamps her sheep?”

Milo rubs his hands on his thighs. Raihan watches him mildly as he hangs up his suit. He slips his shoes on, waiting, and finally, Milo huffs. “I don’t know what to offer. What do you want?”

Raihan grunts. He slams his locker shut, and Milo jumps. “How about you actually show up to my birthday party this year? You can carve out enough time in the farming season for that, can’t you?”

Milo nods fast. “Sure. I can do that.”

Raihan puts out his hand. “Alright then. One apology or one birthday party if the gal wins or loses.”

Milo clasps his hand, and they shake on it. Raihan shoulders his duffel bag and suit, and he smacks a wet pectoral. Sheesh he’s buff. “And do me a favor, would you? Put some dry clothes on man. You’ll catch your death of a cold if you don’t bust out of those threads first.”

Milo stammers something unintelligible, but his face turns more colors. Raihan grins. Nice. Still got it.

***​

Dawson hits the ground with a shrill bleat, and I jump. “Dawson! Return!”

Laughter fills the street. One is sharper than others, and I look at my foe in a bright pink coat. He tosses his hair, saying, “What’s that? Looks like Raihan is right: she’s definitely the Champion’s wrong choice this year!”

I didn’t even get to the wild area before he challenged me. He stopped me right outside the hotel this morning. His solosis sits out placidly, waiting for its trainer’s orders. That Confusion hit too hard. Another one like that, and Dawson could really get hurt. I hate pulling him back so soon, but I’d rather not risk an injury, even if we don’t get a hit in otherwise. I need someone faster to outspeed him.

“Gloria!” She lands on the field, giving a scream of bolstered anger. She strikes the pavement with her hoof. “Tackle!”

“Confusion!”

We get a lick in, and it’s a good one. Young psychic types may pack a punch, but they can’t take a punch either. The solosis squeals, and the yellow swirl on its head straightens out. It throws Gloria on her back, and she scrambles to get back up. “Again!” We luck up. I see dust on the pavement kick up where Gloria’s hooves were, and she rams into the pokemon. The solosis whines and sinks to the ground, trembling.

I hear several spectators boo. Some of them call, “Lucky shot!” and, “She’s not going to win!” and other sneers. My face feels hot. Cotton-top there doesn’t look fazed in the slightest. In fact, he smirks.

He picks up another pokeball, stage-calling, “Oh don’t worry. You see, she’s an idiot that leads with her strongest.” Pale purple eyes cut at me, and he gloats, “Me? I led with my weakest!”

Shit. I feel a trickle of sweat roll down my neck when he sends a gothita out. From above, I hear a big voice shout, “Come on, Bonnie! Don’t let him get to you! You’re doing great!”

I look up, and there, on one of the hotel balconies is Milo. He’s got fleece pajamas on, and he’s standing next to Raihan who loiters on his phone, not even half watching the battle. The young ghost gym leader, with his mask, is peering out curiously too. At another balcony, I hear Hop shouting, “Don’t let him push you around, Bonnie! Kick his ass! Show him what Champion endorsed can do!”

I turn my attention back on the battle. A Copycat won’t help here, not if he’s leading with psychic attacks, so I call, “Tackle!” again.

Cotton Top sniffs his nose up. “Psybeam!”

They catch Gloria right under the chin, and she sprawls out on the pavement, bleating piteously and a fine spray of blood leaking from her nose. “Gloria, return!”

Hoots and catcalls fill the air. I feel like the only ones here on my side are Milo and Hop, but their encouragement is drowned out by the jeers.

“You ran so predictably into that! Come on, who’s your third? I haven’t got all day.” He grins. “One more sheep led to the slaughter?”

People laugh at his joke. They laugh at me, and my face feels hot and puffy. This isn’t right. I haven’t gotten the chance to train yet. He’s clearly picking on someone he KNEW was weaker! “Atticus! Tackle!”

“Psybeam!”

Atticus lands a Tackle, but it doesn’t do near as much as I was hoping. I watch, flinching as he also takes that Psybeam to the face and hits the concrete. Cheers go up, and Cotton Top laughs derisively.

Three for three. We’re done. We lost.

I vibrate, hands clenched, as I lose right in front of everyone, right in front of the gym leaders, with so many camera phones pointed my way. It doesn’t make sense. He’s NOT that strong! He just keeps getting lucky hits in! Above all, I suck up my bottom lip and bite it, hard. I won’t cry here. I won’t give him the satisfaction.

“Who wants to see me take down the entire herd?” he calls out, and my spine stiffens. He laughs, and he flips his goddamn hair again. His teeth flash like a shark in deep waters. “Come ON, you’re not even a challenge! I bet you can’t even beat me with ALL of your sheep!”

Someone above—one of the gym leaders, Kabu—calls down, “The rules of League combat state—”

I don’t care about League combat. I’m not letting this pipsqueak get away with trying to humiliate me in front of everyone just because I’m using wooloo. “Blanche!”

A cheer goes up. I hate how they sound just like the thievul I had to protect my sheep from before we even got on this gym track.

“Perfect.” Cotton Top extends his arm. “Psybeam!”

I wait half a second, and once the attack launches and he can’t take it back, I call, “Payback!”

Cotton Top jumps. Blanche takes his attack head on, and it hurts her too much, but it’s nothing compared to what she launches back at him. Her little horns sharpen with dark energy, and she rams into the gothita. The psychic type squeals and lands in front of him, and I grind my teeth when the gothia doesn’t get back up.

Take that, you uptight bastard.

The heckling reaches new heights. I try to ignore their calls of cheating and fighting dirty, and instead, I snap at Cotton Top, “Walked right into that one, didn’t you?” His eyebrows pinch, but he doesn’t reply to me.

I look up. Milo has fallen silent for me, but it’s my own fault. He gives me a discreet thumbs up behind Allister’s head, but he can’t vocalize his support anymore. I’ve broken League rules by falling for Cotton Top’s taunts.

Raihan’s paused in his social media scrolling. He’s looking down on me, brow furrowed. I scowl at him. Hop’s voice falls from above me.

“Yeah! Make a comeback, Bonnie, you’ve got this! Show ‘em how good wooloo are!”

He’s on the balcony alone, but I can see the outline of a figure in his window. My heart pitches. Oh no, that has to be Leon, right? I shake the nervous fear from my head. I need to focus.

We switch out. I know Blanche can’t take another big hit like that, so I switch to Henrietta. He switches to a hatenna. She takes the hits from his Confusion better than my other girls, tanking two, but somehow that little hatenna tanks two Tackles. He outspeeds us again. Henrietta goes down in a heap.

My heart tightens. It’s not fair. I hesitate over little Dottie’s pokeball. She’s so small. She can take one hit, can’t she? I just need one more good hit on that hatenna. I see how it’s wavering. We can do this. I know we can, even if Dottie’s never been in a battle yet.

“What’s the matter, trainer?” Cotton Top sniffs up his nose. “You giving up already?”

My fist tightens. No. I’m NOT losing to this asshole. “Dottie!” She takes the field, my favorite. So much gumption, but so little, and I want to protect her. We have to hit hard and fast! “Tackle!”

He turns his head. “Disarming Voice!”

I wince when he pulls a new move out of the bag. A squall fills the air like ethereal nails, and Dottie squeals and tosses her head. She misses, and my stomach pitches.

No.

“Confusion!”

The hatenna throws her at my feet. I bolt for her, crying out, “Stop!” Dottie shivers in my arms, blathering and hiding in my stomach.

A cheer goes up. I cower there on my knees, holding my girl and glaring at Cotton Top, who tosses his hair with one more self-righteous flip. I refuse to cry here. I look at him with as much murder as I can muster up. Next time I fight him, I’m going to humiliate him.

He laughs, saying, “Looks like she really is the wrong choice! Taking a bunch of sheep to fight with? What an idiot!” He lifts up a hand, drinking in the attention. “If you all want to cheer for a real winner, screw the weaklings the Champion endorsed! My name’s Bede, and I was endorsed by Champion Rose! I’m going to win this whole thing, and no pipsqueak with a wooloo is getting in my way!”

***​

“Bonnie? Come on, open up, Bonnie! What happened to being wooloo buddies?”

I let Hop beat on the door too long. I have to finish crying first, splash my face, and check on my sheep. They’re all shook up, cuddling in the corner of my hotel room in a big fluffy pile. I rationed two of my three potions between them, apologized for the battle, and made sure to dote on them. I shouldn’t have lost my temper at Bede. I should have bowed out when I was outmatched.

Once I’m sure I’ve got myself under control, I slip to the door and open it a crack. Hop shoulders through and throws his arms around me.

“Come on, don’t let that jerk get to you! You did great! Did you see the way his face looked when you sprung that Payback on him? Serves him right!”

My throat’s still tight. I clear it, muttering, “He still whipped me in front of everyone . . .” The door creaks open, and I jump to attention when Leon stands there. For some reason, my face feels hot with shame. “Sorry!” I blurt. I look away from him. “I—I shouldn’t have fallen for the bait, I’m sorry. I lost fair and square. Twice.” Amazing, how you can lose twice in one battle.

Hop and I move out of the way so Leon can come in too, and he shuts the door behind him. Somehow, he doesn’t catch that gaudy cape in the door jamb. His face is drawn, and I cringe, because I know I’ve disappointed him. Not only did I lose, but I acted out of line as a gym challenger disregarding the rules of combat.

He first looks to my pile of sheep in the corner. “How’s your pokemon?” he asks me.

“Fine, sir.”

“No need for sir,” he says. He sighs and rubs his face. “That didn’t look good, Bonnie.”

“I know.”

“I’ll get to smooth this over with Chairman Rose somehow. I can try to make sure the media doesn’t skewer you too badly, but I think that battle spoke for itself.”

I hang my head. “Don’t worry about it. I deserve it.”

“No you don’t!” Hop butts in. “It’s that Bede who deserves it! He was completely out of line! He’s the one that wanted to break the rules in the first place!”

“But Bonnie accepted his terms,” Leon says. “She’s the one who did it.” A chime interrupts him, and Leon pulls out his phone. He frowns.

I cross the room and sit on the bed. I chafe my arms. “Should I just send them back home?” I finally ask Leon. “Is this stupid? They are just . . . a bunch of wooloo.”

Leon looks up. He slips his phone into his back pocket. (The shorts are so tight it’s a wonder he hasn’t lost that phone to falling out of his pocket.) He treads carefully. “Only if you want to,” he says.

I glower at him. “Come on, be real with me, Leon. You think it’s stupid too, don’t you? That no one can beat the gym challenge with some wooloo?”

“Not with that attitude!” Hop explodes. “Come on, Bonnie! We’re wooloo buddies! You can’t give up on them just because of one bad battle!”

That’s putting it lightly. Leon sighs and puts his hands on his hips. “If you want my opinion,” he says, “wooloo aren’t weak pokemon. I raised one myself for a while.” I frown at my knees. He doesn’t have a dubwool on his team right now, does he? Clearly he traded it out for something stronger. “We’ve had plenty of people make it very far in the gym challenge with one type alone, so I don’t see why you can’t do a lot with your favorite pokemon.”

He spreads his legs and slams a fist to his chest. He takes a theatrical voice when he parrots, “‘Strong Pokémon. Weak Pokémon. That is only the selfish perception of people. Truly skilled trainers should try to win with their favorites.’”

I roll my eyes. Everyone knows Karen’s famous quote. The woman held her position in the Elite Four for years with an unevolved Murkrow, and only chose to evolve it when it specified its preference to her.

“Quite frankly,” Leon continues, “I think it’d be great to see how far you can go with just your wooloo. I think it’d be good for every kid out there who has a favorite pokemon that people say are weak and won’t make it on the gym track.” He winks at Hop, who flushes with a grin and laughs. “So I say, if you want it, and your pokemon want it, then do it! There’s more to battling than just raw strength, which Bede might have right now, but that kind of strength gets overshadowed without good technique later on down the line.” Leon wags a finger. “There’s a lot more to battling than just strong moves. I’d like to see what you can do once you’ve trained up more.”

I look back at my sheep. They doze in a pile of fluff, odd legs kicking in their sleep. “They’ve really only fought as a group before,” I hedge. “We haven’t really had the chance to train them up individually.”

“That’s right!” Hop bursts. “You wanted to go to the wild area, right? I’ll go with you! I’ll help you train them up!”

“Hop!” I wave my hands. “You don’t have to do that! I thought you wanted to go ahead to Turffield?” His scorbunny is going to do big damage against Milo.

“That can wait!” he explodes. He crouches and pumps his arms. “Come on! If you’re gonna be my rival, you’ve got to get strong! I can help you whip some wooloo into shape!”

Leon’s phone chimes again. He makes a face, saying, “Sorry, I’ve got to head out. I’m going to be late for a meeting.” He smiles at us though, so at least I haven’t ostracized myself from the Champion’s faith. “You two battle hard and learn from each other! I expect to see you both as the top trainers in the finals, right?”

“Absolutely!”

I flush. “Sure . . .”

“And hey,” he says. “Have a champion time while you’re at it!”

Hop groans with a laugh. “Lee!”

“Sayonara! I’m out!”

I roll my eyes when Leon slips from the room to do damage control for me. Hop glances at me, and he asks, “Seriously, Bonnie, are you all right? You’ve got all the time in the world to train up, you know. And I still think you can take Milo with your wooloo.”

I smile tiredly. “Thanks, Hop.” My eyes list, and they land on my pack. My heart jumps. “Oh! Hop, I almost forgot, I finished your scarf last night!”

“Whoa! Really?”

“Mh-hm.” I open up where the red scarf is, embroidered with gold yarn that has tassels like wooloo braids. I show him the two fluffy white wooloo on either end, and honestly, the size of his smile is more than enough to wipe away thoughts of jerks with psychic types.

“Team wooloo!” he proclaims, throwing it around his neck and posing like a superhero. I laugh.

“Team wooloo!”

***​

I don’t get to see Milo off to Turffield. I’m upset until I realize he left me a note at the front desk. His penmanship is dark and heavy.


Dear Bonnie,
Don’t let the battle get to you. Bede was sponsored at the top of the year by Chairman Rose, so he’s had time to train his pokemon in advance the past months. Keep training hard, at your pace, and you’re gonna do just fine.
Sorry I had to leave so fast. I’ve got to get to my gym to prepare. I’ll see you next in Turffield for a gym match.
Milo Yarrow



I tuck the letter into my pack, considering this. I hadn’t thought of when Bede might have been endorsed. Endorsement begins at the start of the new year, and can happen at any point up to the opening ceremony in April. Hop and I were late picks by Leon, but he usually takes his time in picking. The whole journey usually lasts over a year for challengers—one time, it lasted nearly a year and a half because some jerk couldn’t come to terms with no being able to defeat Raihan. Peer pressure finally made him drop out of the runnings.

Instead of going forward with the rest of trainers around, I linger in the wild area playing catch up. My herd isn’t strong enough for this yet, and to boot, I trust Milo’s advice to practice dynamaxing so I’m not shocked on the pitch.

Hop helps me train, and I’m grateful for it. After the beating we took from Bede, I want to approach things better. I thank my grandparents for that Payback TR they gave me at the start of my journey. They were worried about me not being able to fight a ghost type if I came across one, but now I’m glad for the bite it lent to that battle.

I focus a lot on my herd. I watch them closely, trying to gauge where they excel and fail. My most defensive are Gloria, Atticus, and Henrietta—Henrietta is the one I trust to take special attacks just a bit better than anyone else. Blanche hits hard, but she drags her feet compared to the rest; she’s constantly outrun by her siblings. Dawson has ferocious strength, and I use it to my advantage.

And Dottie? Well. My little Dottie doesn’t seem like she excels at much of anything, but she’s very good moral support and tries very hard.

Hop tries to stay with me the second day, but I shoo him on. I tell him I’ll catch up. I have to figure out this on my own eventually, and he doesn’t need to wait. Hop’s talented, and honestly, given what I’ve seen him doing to me, I think he’s going to beat Milo easy. He’s got Champion blood in him.

I stay in the wild area a week before moving forward. The last night there, under the stars, I search through my yarn. I’m feeling crafty, but I’m not sure what to make. I think of Milo. I think of the size of his hands and how hard it must be to find gloves that fit.

I pick mint green yarn and begin my project, hoping I’m gauging the size of his hands correctly.

***​

I don’t know how the people of Turffield live out here when there’s wild dogs and feral cats terrorizing the countryside. The mine makes me claustrophobic, and there’s too many fighting types trained by the workers for my comfort. I get outside, and I’m chased. The entire way. To Turffield. Possibly something about smelling like sheep. I beat back the wild animals with my staff and Dawson at my heels.

(Look, I hear you, saying: how are wild foxes any different from wild dogs and feral cats? But let it be known that nickit are too small to make off with an entire sheep on their own; they mostly raid chicken houses in the night. Thievul maintain the same stealth and stalk type of hunting nature. The only time they come down from the mountains is if the hunting season has been bad, and they rarely band together since most thievul double cross each other. They’re selfish foxes. The worst I could face as a sheepherder is a wild corviknight snatching a wooloo, but they also rarely come down from the mountains or out of the Slumbering Weald.

So yes, these dogs and cats that run at you, chase you, and pack enough punch to do some damage? Bad stuff. I don’t like it, my sheep don’t like it, and now I know why Turffield is extremely fenced in.)

My pits are damp with sweat when I finally stomp into Turffield. I’m muttering under my breath about the wilds, brushing burrs off my jeans, and holding my pinching sides when I hear, “Bonnie! Watch out!”

I look up the winding path and I see two things: a wooloo rolling full tilt down this incline, and Milo Yarrow, hot on its tail.

I fumble with my shepherd’s staff, but it’s too late to catch the ball of fluff with my hook. Instead, I drop the stick and brace for impact.

I’m nearly bowled over by the force of a runaway sheep. My arms wrap around it at the same time Milo grabs at it, and for a moment, we’re locked, grappling with a wooloo that’s kicking its back legs with all its might.

“Whoa nelly!” I nearly lose it, but Milo seizes a leg, holding fast. Now it’s too off balance to kick. “Easy, sweetheart!” I tell it when it bleats piteously. I laugh when it chooses to go limp instead. “What are you so afraid of? It’s just Milo!”

“Thanks a bunch, Bonnie,” he says to me. “Thought I’d lost her for sure!”

I look up at Milo at the same time he does. With both our arms twined around the wooloo, it brings us nose-to-nose, and my sight is filled with green eyes. We both lean back at the same time, laughing, faces hot. I surrender the wooloo to him, and my eyes flick to his pink cheeks. Is he blushing, or is it just from the heat of the run?

He tucks the wooloo under one arm like a football. In a hectic fluster, I bend over and pick up my staff.

“So you finally made it!” Milo says. When I peek up at him, he’s smiling broadly at me. I notice he’s wearing his gym uniform. He tugs his straw hat back into place against the sunlight, asking, “I reckon you’ll be challenging me soon?”

“Actually,” I hedge, shifting on my feet, “I was thinking about training a bit more. I’m not sure we’re really up to snuff for a gym battle yet.”

“Always good to come in as prepared as you can,” Milo agrees. “Though, I’ve been looking forward to battling you. I can’t wait to see what you bring to the plate.”

A nervous laugh spills from me. “A lot of Tackling so far.”

“Tried and true. I take it you practiced dynamaxing?”

“Yes.” Frightening stuff, that dynamaxing. I’d briefly met up with some stragglers the first two days in the wild area who also wanted to prepare for dynamaxing. We’d hunted down dynamax pokemon in their dens, taking turns practicing so we don’t look like fools out on Milo’s pitch. They got the hang of it a bit quicker than me. Gloria is the one I dynamaxed, and let me tell you, there’s something terrifying about a giant, hyperactive, easily scared sheep that could accidentally trample you under a hoof.

“Oh! Did you see Hop’s battle?”

I smile against my will. “Sure did! I watched the lineup real close so I could see him.”

“Boy’s on fire,” Milo says with a shake of his head. “I didn’t stand a chance! Apple sure don’t fall far from the tree. I thought he’d have been on his way to Nessa by now, but he’s been staying at the Pokemon Center for you to catch up.”

A combination of indignation and embarrassment rises up in me and makes me flush. My hands fly up to my cheeks. “That Hop! I told him not to wait on me! He’s far too talented to let me hold him up!”

Milo’s brow quirks, and he counters, “And you’re far too talented to worry about how fast others are taking the gym route. Slow and steady wins the race after all.”

Before I can think of how to possibly respond to that, the wooloo tucked under his arm bleats and kicks its legs. He jumps, curling his arm tighter so he doesn’t drop it—why hello there, you big beautiful biceps—and he chides, “Hey now!”

“Hay’s for horses, Milo.” His nose wrinkles up with another smile, and I reach out, rubbing the lamb’s cheeks. “Are you pitching a fit? You ready to get back home safe?” I send Milo an exasperated look. “Y’all’s wildlife around here leaves MUCH to be desired.”

He laughs then, big and loud, and I can’t help the way I smile back. “Well, it does take some getting used to, but once you know how to trip them up—”

A young voice hollers, “MILO!” and he jumps clear out of his skin.

“Shoot!” His free hand slaps to his forehead. “I plumb forgot about my next battle!” Behind him, down the way, I see a young boy—he looks like Milo—beckoning him. Milo puts up his hand apologetically, stammering, “I hate to cut and run, Bonnie, but I really gotta get back to the gym. I’m scheduled for another battle.”

“It’s okay,” I tell him, and I thrust my hand out to him before he can scamper off. “Good luck out there!”

He beams at me. He clasps my hand, bursting, “Thanks a bundle, Bonnie!” and I pay close attention to the width of his palms and the length of his fingers. I think I’ve been gauging the size of his gloves right, though I won’t really know until he puts them on. He waves as he goes, and then he’s racing back down Turffield’s streets to his gym.

I wring my hands around my staff. First thing I want to do is try to finish his gloves. Then, the next days I’m here training, I need to invest in finding some Leftovers.

Took me some days after hip surgery to get back on my feet and coherent enough from pain meds to get this posted. Anyways, I'm glad y'all think this is a fun sweet run, and I hope to never disappoint and give you every trope you could ever want.

Ironically, Bede almost ended us. He got 3 crits on 3 different sheep, and brought them to low yellow in one hit. Very rough battle and I was a touch underleveled, so I went right back into the wild area to train again. Also, I lose my mind that the wild area gives you Leftovers in SUCH early game. I also picked up the Payback TM by the professor's house.

When I write this fic, I tend to listen to LOADS of old school Mariah Carey where her music videos were soft country and her songs somehow sounded like nostalgia. You know, Dreamlover? Fantasy? That's the good shit.
 
Last edited:

Uberle

Lur King
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
209
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
1,549
Nature
Lax
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Fire
Pokédex Entry
Stays in the distortion dimension where no one bothers him
Lots of people being dicks at the start of this
Though Rihan was provoked to be one while Bede just seems to be one naturally
There's a continuation of this joke becoming literal with Milo, but I'm gonna stop before that

Anyway looks like the first gym is coming up
Let's see how Sheep type does against Grass
 

glancesherlock

Consulting Detective
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
32
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
737
Location
221B Baker Street
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ghost
Pokédex Entry
Just wants to stay home and solve crimes.
Are you kidding me, Milo is pure beyond words. A good lad. A sunshine boy. Blushy turnip. Take him out for dinner, Bonnie.

Really loved the scene between him and Raihan. They're such polar opposites, seeing them together is almost surreal. I'm glad they're chummy. And the bet is oddly pure??? Either an apology or Milo goes to a bday party. Adorable.

Hmmm there's Bede. A perfect asshole as always. This scene was painful, what with everyone watching. A loss to Bede would be bad on its own, but a public loss is something you cringe about for days. Yikes.

Hop's scarf!!! Team Wooloo. ;;;;;

She's making Milo gloves, aawww!!!

Whoza, the fuck. Every damn time Milo appears, I just smile. I smile for the whole damn scene, because it's too precious. Don't you dare hurt this boy.
 

Rhema

Conqueror of the Azalea Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
218
Location
Hearthome City
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Pokémon Type
Fire, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
I look up at Milo at the same time he does. With both our arms twined around the wooloo, it brings us nose-to-nose, and my sight is filled with green eyes. We both lean back at the same time, laughing, faces hot. I surrender the wooloo to him, and my eyes flick to his pink cheeks. Is he blushing, or is it just from the heat of the run?
JUST KISS *pushes their heads together*

Milo is a sweet baby angel and I love him. Bede is a magnificent ass- you really captured his big douche energy. I can't wait to see Bonnie end his whole career.
 

khorale

Ruler of the Pillow Fort
Artist
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
1214
Caught
Dec 22, 2019
Messages
194
Location
Behind You
Nature
Hasty
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Ghost, Normal
Pokédex Entry
She enjoys showing off her artwork to others, and constantly discovers new techniques to experiment with
He puts a fist out to me. “Wooloo buddies.”

I bump his fist with mine. “Wooloo buddies,” I agree.
AAAAAH TOO CUTE!!! WOOLOO BUDDIES FTW!

Aww, Milo is the sweetest person out of this entire story.
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
494
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12
@Uberle Hehe, glad you're liking this one so far! And Raihan will slowly endear himself or it wouldn't be a trifold love, now would it? And yes! Gym battles! Ironically, most of them haven't been from Bonnie's POV.

@glancesherlock Isn't he just GREAT?? I couldn't fucking believe how he came in and wrecked my plans for a quick pointless Raihan x OC fic. And yeah, when I realized Milo and Raihan had easy chemistry too? Too easy man. Bede, of course is the asshole we all know and love to hate-love. And I promise I won't hurt Milo! This is a happy fic! There will only be mild sads that are quickly resolved.

@Rhema Milo just. I don't know how, but he overtook this damn fic when I wasn't looking, he just crashed in and wrested control from me with how adorably perfect he is. And Bede! We have a while for his come-uppance, but we'll get there. For now, we have a gym match!

@khorale Isn't he?? Milo really came out in such a surprising way for me, I'm so glad he's sweet as cherry wine. And I need to pour some more love into Hop, big time!

“If you don't like the way I talk
Then why am I on your mind?
If you don't like the way I rock
Then finish your glass of wine
We fight and we argue
You'll still love me blind”

Blow Your Mind __ Dua Lipa

Milo was sweet, even out on the gym pitch with thousands of people watching us.

But now, he’s not so sweet. He’s proving to me why he’s a gym leader.

Dawson cries out, bowled over by another Magical Leaf. I grit my teeth, searching for a way to win this. Defense Curl isn’t helping us here. We can’t avoid that attack, no matter how fast we are. We’re going to have to hit hard, and we’re going to have to hit fast. And maybe pray a bit.

Milo said his pokemon grew tough as weeds, and I feel like a fool for not preparing for this even more. My eyes fall on the Silk Scarf tied around Dawson’s neck, a gift from one of the locals that’s rooting for me. I have to hope it’s going to help his attack power enough to stop this gossifleur for me.

“Tackle!” I shout, and my voice echoes around me in the massive stadium. The mic on my chest amplifies my every noise for the spectators.

Dawson is off like a shot. His hooves pound the ground as he closes in on Milo’s gossifleur and slams his full weight into the pokemon. It chimes and returns the favor. We trade blows, and by the end of things, Dawson’s fleece is cut up and stained pink by sharp leaves, but victorious. I return him, thinking that was too close. We’re only just now making it to Milo’s ace, and all I have left is Gloria. I wanted Dawson in the wings to help her.

We switch our pokemon. Across the field, I can barely see Milo’s face, but he looks stern. Maybe he’s as worried as I am about this next part.

He dynamaxes his ace, an eldegoss that towers over us and howls a chilling noise. My face drains of color, and I swallow. This is fine. This is why I had a bit of practice in the wild area. I dynamax Gloria in response, and she lands behind me with a thunderous crash and a deafening roar that barely sounds like herself.

Milo calls, “Max Overgrowth!” There’s a swell of cheers in my ears. I look back at Gloria, and I know how hard this thing hits while it’s dynamaxed. She won’t be able to last. So I do the inevitable.

I take the coward’s way out, and I stall him out with Max Guard.

The Leftovers dangle just beneath Gloria’s chin as, three times over, I call for a Max Guard. Shockingly, the shield doesn’t break once. Our pokemon shrink. The crowd jeers that I’ve cheated them out of a titanic smackdown, the main attraction of gym battles.

Across the way, Milo looks surprised.

The battle is quick then. His eldegoss is strong, but not as strong as Gloria’s new Headbutt. He leaves us just as battered and bloodied as Dawson was, but we still pull through with a win. Barely.

I receive a combination of scattered applause, cheers and boos. My knees feel like jello as I come forward to Milo in the center of the battlefield. I feel like I cheated my way into winning this battle.

However, despite his strength on the battlefield, Milo is still as steady and sweet as ever. He smiles at me, dimples popping when he says, “I wasn’t expecting you to stall out my ace’s dynamax so deftly! I relied too heavily on that trick and failed to adapt with the tide of battle.” His nose crinkles up when he adds, “Maybe I dug my roots too deep. Either way, I’m proud to give you the Grass Badge!”

He hands me the badge, and I pluck it sheepishly from his hand. We shake with the other—lingering, the cameras always want to get good shot and pictures—and he reaches behind him. Then, he says to me, “Real good battle, Bonnie.” My eyes pop. He’s turned off his microphone. “Don’t let anyone tell you stalling out a dynamax ain’t a viable strategy.” He grins. “I’ll be rooting for you!”

Milo reaches behind him again. This time, as we part—I’m DYING to get out of the spotlight and into the locker rooms—he gestures to me, booming into his mic, “Bonnie Howard!”

His careful vouching for my strategy—and the many wooloo fans in Turffield—makes the crowd cheer just a bit harder for me as I beeline it out of the battlefield.

***

I’m sitting in the locker room after the match in unbuttoned jeans and a bra when I see the notification online.

Raihan strikes back. Only, instead of the trending tags of The Wright Choice! and The Wrong Choice! he’s decided to outdo himself.

GarrickHimself:
looks like little bo peep nearly lost her sheep! @nymphofthesea is going to have a field day raining on this parade


Then, he @’s me to boot, just to make sure I see it. Jerk.

I beat the first gym. He didn’t think I could even do that. I’m grinding my teeth, staring at the newest title he’s given me that’s sure to catch on as fast as The Wrong Choice did. And how dare he make light of my sheep getting hurt!

I type, The least you could do @GarrickHimself is to learn the name of the one who’s going to sweep your dragons. One gym down, seven to go. #stampedingherd

I’m in the middle of texting Hop back about getting lunch when Raihan responds.

GarrickHimself:
I haven’t seen anyone who can sweep my dragons yet miss peep but i’ll keep an eye out. now that you know this is the big leagues I won’t fault you if you give up now


How DARE he! I leap to my feet and pace back and forth in the locker room. I rake my brain for a scathing response, and it takes me a long moment because my ears are so full of steam.

AbsoluteEwenit
Why bow out when I’m having such a fun time collecting my badges? I eagerly look forward to humiliating you in front of thousands of people.


I set the phone down and reach to button my jeans. My phone buzzes. I snatch it back up, and I see red.

GarrickHimself
if we’re talking humiliation you managed to do it to yourself first bo bo. you couldn’t even handle dynamaxing and milo’s the easiest gym leader. we all know you only managed to win because he’s soft


He accompanies THIS tweet with an attachment of a meme with my face photoshopped over it—the moment I looked up at Milo’s dynamaxed eldegoss, and oh I hate that I look so scared! The bottom of the picture reads “You know I had to do it to myself” and if I wasn’t so angry at him, I might have been impressed at the speed at which he edited that meme.

However, I’m not going to be outdone by some cocky city OAF. He can’t get away with dragging me AND Milo. I furiously type an answer, nearly hit send, and then RETHINK the words, “Milo’s not soft because unlike city folk he’s got the tough muscles to show for his hard work.” I can’t find a way to defend Milo’s honor without sounding like a moonstruck teenager. Instead, I send:

AbsoluteEwenit
You’re just upset at Milo because you know he thinks I can beat you. Keep burying your head up your ass, Mr. Garrick, it’ll be that much more satisfying when I hand it to you on a platter.

GarrickHimself
i’m seeing a lot of bark but no bite. if you can barely beat the first and easiest gym of this region you’re not going far in the gym challenge at all. if you want my ass on a platter then come and get it #thewrongchoice


“Oh DO go on!” I snap, and my voice echoes around the locker room. I seethe between my teeth, pacing back and forth, muttering under my breath and gesticulating. I plop back down on my bench and my fingers fly.

AbsoluteEwenit
If you’re looking for some bite, then get down here. I know my sheep can’t take your team yet, but I’d be more than glad to punch that pretty face in.

GarrickHimself
1) i’d love to see you try. I can bend over if that helps you reach my face
2) biting sounds much more fun than punching
3) you think I’m pretty?


“Oh I hate his guts!” I shout and leap to my feet. I tremble with rage and stamp my foot. Bastard. Bastard! For one, horrible moment, I have no idea how to do damage control on that tweet. I just stand there, shaking, clenching my phone so hard I’m going to break it. Then, the appropriate answer hits me:

AbsoluteEwenit
Fly down here and I’ll show you my swing. Oh wait. Sorry, I forgot. Your dragons are just like your dick: too small to ride.


I punch the send button, and a voice calls, “Bonnie?” I jump guiltily, frozen because I’m still half naked and that’s MILO. “You in there?”

“Y-Yes!” I scramble to pull on my blouse. “Stay out!”

“O-of course!” I hear him holler back. “I just—I hadn’t seen you, and I was afraid I’d missed you leaving!”

“Sorry!” I shout back, face hot with embarrassment. “I got distracted! I’m coming!”

I stuff my uniform away in my bag. I shove my feet in my boots, lace them up, and my heart flutters when I grab the gloves I made for Milo: they have fluffy eldegoss on the backs. (My initial idea was applin before I remembered what applin gestures entail.)

I’m about to rush out when I think to check my notifications one more time. There’s no reply from Raihan. He’s merely liked my tweet. For some reason, even though I’ve gotten the last word in, it feels like he’s won, and it infuriates me even more. I huff and shove my phone in my bag.

Milo’s face relaxes into a smile when he sees me come out. “There you are!” he says. “I’ve got another challenger soon, so I really wanted the chance to see you before you left.”

“Yeah, me too,” I say, squeezing the gloves tightly behind my back.

He holds up two disks. “Turffield Gym always gives out Magical Leaf on a defeat, but I know that ain’t gonna be no use to you. So. Well,” and he rubs the back of his neck, flushing, “consider Facade a gift from me, you know, a good luck gift.”

This time it’s my turn to blush. I wring the gloves behind my back, stammering, “Y-Yes, well. Um . . . I uh—I mean, I . . .”

His hand falls, ever so slightly, and I realize he thinks I’m declining. “Bonnie?”

Best to rip it off like a bandaid. I turn my face away, stare down the empty lower halls of Turffield Stadium, and thrust the gloves out to him.

I hear his breath catch. “What’s this? Are . . . These are for me?”

He takes the gloves. My face is boiling alive with heat for some reason, and I can’t look at him. “Y-yeah. I um . . .” I draw a breath and spit it out. “Well, I noticed your hands were big and I thought maybe buying gloves might be hard for you, so I made you some!”

I feel ridiculously silly and want to sink through the floor. But Milo bursts, “Why Bonnie, if that ain’t the sweetest thing! Thank you! That’s real sweet of you. They’re really cute.”

Panic bursts in me. I face him, blurting, “Oh no, do they fit? If they don’t, I can fix them!”

“Here, let me put them on.”

Milo hands me the TMs, and I mumble a shy, “Thank you,” while he pulls on the gloves. Somehow, they’re a perfect fit. Milo beams, and I mean he GLOWS when he exclaims, “Thank you, Bonnie! Don’t think I’ve got myself a finer pair!”

Then, he does something that fries my brain. In a fit of happiness, he hugs me.

I freeze shock still, because oh holy GOD almighty I am wrapped up in the biggest, comfiest hug. I mean a SOLID hug, solid and soft and warm. It’s like this man was made for hugging. I get over my panic and start leaning into it right when he lets go. His face is red. My face is hot. I’m going to die of heat stroke down here and the air conditioning is on full blast. For some reason, we both laugh sheepishly, and I can’t explain what’s going on when he says,

“Thank you—”

And I say, “Thanks, I—”

And him: “Just thought a little something—”

“Was just feeling crafty—”

“That’s real sweet—”

“Glad you’re supporting me—”

We laugh again, shifting on our feet, clutching our presents. Milo jumps. “Oh!” He rifles in his pocket, adding, “And our League cards! I wanted to trade cards too.”

“Right!” I scramble for mine—I’ve only traded with Hop so far—and we swap cards. I tuck his away, and he does the same to mine. We linger in the hall, fiddling with our gifts until the next challenger—a young teen who gives us a weird look—comes back to change. Milo jumps.

“Sorry, Bonnie,” he says. “I’ve got to get a hustle on!” He waits long enough for the challenger to disappear into the locker rooms before he can’t hold a smile that’s got his face splitting at the seams. I’m dazzled by his dimples. “I’ll be rooting for you in Nessa’s gym! I’ll try to make it if I don’t have anymore challengers!” He does a little skip-hop backwards, and he waves. He’s still wearing the glove he tried on, and for some reason, my heart swells at the sight.

***​

He’s in a tracksuit with the hoodie pulled up, walking down Turffield’s streets on his phone when he gets the notification. From Milo? That man barely posts anything unless it’s a wooloo or a yamper. Sometimes it’s his brother or home cooking though, so Raihan swipes it open for a quick peek.

He freezes, and then, he throws his head back and laughs.

“Oh, Milo, you have been bit BAD!”

There on the man’s timeline is a picture of one of his hands wearing a very green, eldegoss inspired glove. Knitted, because it’s a very cute pair of gloves. But the kicker is the caption that reads, I was gifted these beautiful handmade gloves yesterday. Thanks a bunch @absoluteewenit I appreciate your hard work. I really love them! Good luck on the gym challenge! #stampedingherd

Raihan grins like a shark. This is too easy.

GarrickHimself
what! you took it easy on her because of bribery @woohoowooloo listen I know she’s pretty and cupid got you good but this cute shit’s getting out of hand man. just tell me you’re marrying her and send out the invitation! @absoluteewenit my man’s got it bad


He chuckles to himself, waiting for when they inevitably see that little gem. Milo? Flustered. Bonnie? Oh man, he can’t wait for the hell she raises.

He loiters near the edge of town, waiting for his corviknight taxi. He only lingered in Turffield to check out the gym challengers. You can tell a lot about how far a trainer will go on their first gym badge. Hop? He’ll be at Raihan’s gym for sure. He’s got his bets on that Marnie too, but that’s to be expected since she’s the little sister of Piers. He’s got his eyes on a few more, sure, but—

Wait a minute. Raihan straightens because there’s Milo’s love interest hurrying down the opposite side of the road and out of town. He grunts to himself. Makes sense. She got her badge yesterday, and she needs to hurry it up if she doesn’t want to REALLY fall behind the pack.

She’s on the phone. He watches her pass, long skirts, shepherd’s staff and all—he teased about the Little Bo Peep thing, but she seems set on selling the look—and he can hear her voice echoing in the empty streets. It’s early. Sun’s barely risen yet, and the mists are still hugging the ground like a child to their parent’s leg.

He considers talking to her, but ultimately decides it might be creepy to go after her when she’s on the phone. Raihan lounges against the wall, props his foot up, and flits aimlessly through his timeline.

Then, he hears the greatest shriek he’s ever heard in his life.

Raihan’s head yanks up, and he grins, because there she is, less than a football field’s length away, holding her phone that’s glowing in the low light. He watches her pace back, then forth, and then she’s typing.

He pulls up Milo’s post and impatiently refreshes the page until her reply shows up.

AbsoluteEwenit
Don’t spread rumors about us! @GarrickHimself I’ve had it up to here with you! I’ll have you know I’m making a gift for EVERY gym leader I defeat, not just Milo!


Hm, that’s an interesting development, and Raihan thinks she’s talking out of her ass. She walks three paces, and he replies:

GarrickHimself
don’t get your petticoats in a knot sweetheart milo’s a good guy (you’ve had it up to here? where’s here? the top of your short little head?) i’m just saying he muted his mic to whisper sweet nothings to you after that gym battle #releasethetranscripts!


She stops and growls between her teeth, and Raihan grins. Got her. He kicks his foot, refreshing the page until her reply surfaces.

AbsoluteEwenit
I know you’ve got a bone to pick with me but leave Milo out of it! If you keep being such a troublesome baby about things, I’ll make sure your gift is a bib to catch all those lies you keep vomiting!


Raihan grins, because she’s not even walking! She’s refreshing the page, the idiot, waiting for him to respond! He holds off on answering for an extended moment, watching her shuffle in the street and pace.

GarrickHimself
oh is this by request? if it is then knit me a great big blanket with yours and milo’s faces smooching on it because i’m both of your biggest fan #wooloolove #thewrongchoicemeetshermatch #bopeepandwoody #youcantmarryamanyoujustmet


She shrieks again, and this time, she accompanies it with a stamp of her foot! Raihan sputters, because what the hell that’s adorable, and he’s typing again before she can respond:

GarrickHimself
holy shit do you always stamp your foot when you’re angry because that’s either the cutest or the most childish thing i’ve seen


Shit, he’s scared her. Her shoulders hunch up, and she looks around like the devil himself is at her heels. Raihan lifts an arm and waves. She looks at him.

She scowls and instead of flouncing off in a huff, she marches right to him.

Raihan stands up when she stalks his way, and for one moment, he’s absolutely sure she’s going to whack him with that staff of hers. She doesn’t, but she does come up within inches of his front, hisses low, “I LOATHE you, Raihan Garrick,” and spins on her heel to leave.

His long legs easily keep up with her. “That seems a little excessive,” he simpers back. “You’ve had it in for me since the first time we met.”

“No, no,” she says, and she honest to god wags a finger. Her eyes are so dark brown they’re almost black. “YOU’RE the one that’s always flown off the handle at ME! Everything that’s ever come out of your mouth has been nothing but condescending to me!”

She wants to turn this on HIM? Raihan’s teeth gnash in annoyance, because how impossible can one woman be? “I’ll have you know you were the one putting on the frigid bitch act at that ball, not me! I was friendly! You acted like I wasn’t fit to wipe the shit of your boots!”

She rounds on him, skirts flaring and dark, dark cheeks flushing with heat. “You were the one being an uppity, rich, elitist city son of a BITCH who wrote me off just because of wooloo!”

Bonnie jabs him in the stomach with her finger as she says it, and for one moment, Raihan sees red. His lip draws back over his gums, and his fists clench up. Tension roils over his body, and it’s the urge to hit her back that dumps ice water on him. He jerks away from her, heart hammering, teeth grinding, and he’s upset that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

“What?” she snaps at him. “That’s what I thought! You’re rude! And arrogant! And—”

He rounds on her. She bites her tongue mid-tirade, and he growls, “Don’t you EVER call my mother a bitch.”

Her jaw clacks shut audibly. They stand there in the street, a runaway bus and a runaway freight train on course for another collision.

His phone chimes. Raihan looks, and it’s Milo, saying, @GarrickHimself Could you please cool it? And then, Bonnie and I are friends, yes, but there’s no need to start rumors. A third chime: I wish you’d mend fences. I really think you’d get along like two peas in a pod.

Raihan snarls under his breath and stows the phone. Can he not remember to add all his thoughts to one tweet instead of sending one out every few seconds? Mend fences? Peas in a pod, please . . .

Bonnie clears her throat roughly. “Sorry,” she bites out.

He can’t help it. He snorts. “Oh yeah, you sound sorry.”

“I’m SORRY for yammering about your mom when I meant to insult you, but I’m not going to apologize for being upset when you’ve been a right ass to me as well, Mr. Garrick.”

The streetlights are turning off. The sky is still heavy with dark clouds, but the sun is still casting enough light for them to see each other in the misty morning. Raihan gives her an exasperated look.

“Are you always this much trouble?”

She shuffles her feet. She twists her staff. “Only when I’m dealing with an even taller amount of trouble.”

His phone chimes again. It’s Milo again, and he’s belatedly asking, Wait, are you with her right now?

A thin smile stretches over Raihan’s face. What’s that? Jealous, loverboy?

Bonnie taps her walking stick. “Sorry,” she offers again. Raihan looks at her, and she’s avoiding his gaze. “I really wasn’t trying to insult your mom. Honest.”

“It’s fine.” That smirk is slipping back on his face. “I know you meant to insult me.” Her lips purse mulishly. He flips his camera phone on. “Come on, let’s get a picture.”

“What? No,” and she shimmies away from him. “I don’t want a picture with you.”

“It’s for Milo. Gotta let him know we’re not fighting, right?”

“But we ARE.”

“Not currently.” Raihan flashes her a lazy smile. “Look, sounds like you even apologized for some things like insulting my mama. I also apologize for whenever I might have insulted your mother. Even?” She looks away, hiding her eyes under long, long lashes. Raihan’s smile falters. What the hell. He knows what kind of an effect he usually has on people, so why isn’t it working on her? He shuffles his feet. “Come on, just a quick snap to tide the boyfriend over?”

That gets a rise out of her in the form of a glower. “For him, not for you,” she clarifies, as if admitting anything less than disdainful indifference for Raihan would make her clinically ill. “And he’s NOT my boyfriend.” Raihan bites his tongue against anything more, but he’s burning up for some reason. What, he has to be a farmer for her not to hate his guts?

“Smile,” he says. She gives a closed mouth smile. She doesn’t look happy. He’s smiling too, but it feels fake. He snaps the picture anyway.

“Now that you’ve got the power to bribe Milo,” she says primly, “am I free to go? Or are you going to harass me all the way to Hulbury?”

She twinges a nerve. His back stiffens and he looks away. He didn’t even see the taxi land, but the corviknight looms ominously in the morning mist. “Whatever,” he mutters. “My ride’s here anyway. Sorry to inconvenience you, MA’AM.”

He hears her huff behind him, but he doesn’t look back. He gets into the carrier and slams the door shut behind him. He stares at the bad photo before finally posting it, tagging both Bonnie and Milo with a caption that just reads, saw little bo peep on my way out of turffield. missing her already loverboy?

It’s almost an hour before Milo likes it and posts, It’s nice seeing you two starting to get along.

And immediately after: You both look nice today. Bonnie’s in a nice skirt and blouse, but Raihan’s just in a hoodie. (Of course, he DOES always look nice.)

And again, because Milo can’t just post once: I’m going to try to catch some of Kabu’s battles once I’m finished with challengers. Meet me in Motostoke? Read: he thinks he’s going to catch Bonnie’s battle with Kabu, if the woman can even make it that far.

Raihan huffs. He slouches and pulls on his hoodie strings. He types and posts.

Sure. I’ve got jack all to do anyways.

Whew, I've been fucked up on meds all week, here's to hoping I might have the rest of this hip recovery time to ACTUALLY write something instead of doing nothing.

Anyways, Milo was? Kinda difficult, actually? I took shit nuzlocking notes, but I imagine I was probably a little underleveled given I had 6 wooloo on my team. I don't think anyone evolved until after Milo. Ironically, I DID simply use Max Guard 3 times without it failing, and just stalled out Milo's grass max move so he didn't get that helpful grassy terrain. Gloria's Leftovers saved me.

Anyways. I've got a few more chapters of buffer, and I hope I can focus with enough energy soon to start writing again. Miss it, so this week has been especially horrible. Hope y'all enjoy this one as much as the rest!
 

khorale

Ruler of the Pillow Fort
Artist
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
1214
Caught
Dec 22, 2019
Messages
194
Location
Behind You
Nature
Hasty
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Ghost, Normal
Pokédex Entry
She enjoys showing off her artwork to others, and constantly discovers new techniques to experiment with
He takes the gloves. My face is boiling alive with heat for some reason, and I can’t look at him. “Y-yeah. I um . . .” I draw a breath and spit it out. “Well, I noticed your hands were big and I thought maybe buying gloves might be hard for you, so I made you some!”
So adorable!!! I knit things for my friends too (though all I know how to knit are scarves) and I always like to see how they like it.

I also like Milo's twitter quirks!
 

glancesherlock

Consulting Detective
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
32
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
737
Location
221B Baker Street
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ghost
Pokédex Entry
Just wants to stay home and solve crimes.
...I've actually never bothered to try out Max Guard, and I didn't realize that's what it does. ..........Would've help with Kabu's battle a lot...

Anyway, uh.

I'm glad Milo didn't go easy on her just because of his crush. He respects her abilities enough to go all-out and give her a proper battle. Turnip boy earnin' his gold stars today.

The gift exchange!!! ;;;;; This is so sugary sweet. All the blushing and stammering. I caaaaaan't. Actually, I can. I could definitely read about these two dancing around the question for like 10-odd chapters.

Raihan's such a prick. XD This entire sequence of banter and snappy comebacks slayed me. I love their twitter handles. And I am glad they cooled it once the insults got too far (taking a jab at someone's mum is bad form).

Uh oh, Raihan. You got some feelings stirring for Miss Bo Peep? Hmmmmm?? 😏
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
494
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15
@khorale milo and bonnie are so sweet they're gonna rot my dang teeth out. I've actually recently picked up crocheting! My mother's in love with the pot holders I can make.

@glancesherlock y...you've never used max guard? dude, i used it quite a bit during the wooloo run, but i DEFINITELY used it a lot during my next SWSH run. I JUST LOVE MILO SO MUCH?? he and bonnie are just so dang pure i lose my mind, i'm like, how are you two so dang cute, just SMOOCH ALREADY. Raihan is deffos a work in progress and brings out a spicier side to bonnie. I'm SO glad you picked up on all that lowkey jealousy burning his rear.

“Try to leave but I still don't go
Even if I wanted to, I come back around
Even if I wanted to, I come back and

We just go around, baby
Bang, bang boomerang
Do you love me or hate me now, baby
Bang, bang boomerang”

Boomerang __ Jidenna

I win against Nessa’s gym because I took the time to pool all the money I’ve earned (and a bit of savings) into buying a TR. Wild Charge. I teach it to Gloria who has become my team anchor—since she’s the most comfortable with dynamaxing—and despite stalling with a Max Guard, two Max Lightnings are enough to annihilate her dreadnaw. Gloria, Dawson, and Henrietta are tough enough in their newly evolved forms to take the heat Nessa is putting out since her team is full of physical attackers.

Because I sincerely doubt that knit things are really a supermodel’s style, I give Nessa a tea cozy shaped like a cloyster. She likes it—a LOT if her tweets are anything to go by:

NymphOfTheSea
Thank you @absoluteewnit for the tea cozy! I adore this thing, I keep switching it between every cup I’m using! @woohoowooloo You wish your gloves were as cute as this! What does everyone think, should I add a cloyster to my team for next year’s gym challenge?

NymphOfTheSea
@GarrickHimself Do I get to date her now too since she gave me a gift? I hope you enjoy the bib she’s going to make you, you big baby. Better watch out, the herd is on the stampede! #stampedingherd #stompthedragonbaby


Raihan doesn’t like that, because he replies:

GarrickHimself
is that how it’s gonna be nessa you get your ass handed to you and you turn against me? mark my words she beat you because of fresh evolutions and a expensive tr she won’t stand a chance against the Firewall @hotstuff roasted lamb for dinner?


Kabu isn’t amused:

HotStuff
Who changed my name? How do I change it back? When I find out which of you did this, you’re going to pay.

HotStuff
Seriously, how do I fix this? @GarrickHimself I know it was you somehow. Did you hack my account?

GarrickHimself
lies and slander! i would never do such a thing!


The twitter feuds are useless, I know, but I can’t help myself. I’m a hot-button topic for the League right now, and the tabloids are still buying into the narrative Raihan set for me, that I’m the Wrong Choice and I’ll be dropping out by Kabu. My entire uphill battle was set by this jerk—and Bede too, though thankfully I haven’t run into him again—and Raihan just gets my blood boiling. There’s just something about him that drives me bonkers.

So, contrary to what I should be doing, I dig at him publicly again, just a little bit:

AbsoluteEwenit
@garrickhimself What was it you said at the opening ceremony? That you’d eat your words if I beat Kabu? I hope you have a big appetite. Don’t worry about making a mess of yourself baby, I’m working on that bib for you.


He does come back with the perfect response, but I do my best not to stoop to another twitter war:

GarrickHimself
I do have a big appetite bo bo and it’s for smoked lamb. call me baby again when you drop out of the runnings baby (better keep that bib to wipe away your tears)


Infuriating. Infuriating, but also right. Kabu is the big time runner. He’s known as the Firewall for a reason, because he’s the first big obstacle to overcome. Nothing against Milo, but he does pull his punches a bit. (His eldegoss knows both Magical Leaf and Leafage? It’s true, he runs that Leafage to hit just a bit weaker, and it’s very charming of him.) Nessa is strong, but with the right counter—a yamper, or boltund if you train enough—is more than enough to topple her. Most trainers pick one up for their battle against her. Otherwise, the battle would be a lot closer (like mine was. Dawson took a beating).

So Raihan is right. I need to take myself very seriously for the next gym battle. Kabu is running a fully evolved ninetails and arcanine this year, along with his centiskorch. I’ve already seen battles where he’s sent his challengers packing. Which is how I know that Milo MAY or may not have helped me immensely to counter Kabu:

Kabu is running a Will O Wisp this year. Milo gave me Facade. Coincidence? I think not!

Either way, I need to catch my pokemon up to speed and get the rest of my team evolved. In this case, it’s a good thing I’m friends with the most talented trainer on the track.

“Dottie, don’t give up!” Dottie bleats, still a little wooloo (the last one who needs to evolve) and she buries her head in the dirt before standing back up. Hop’s raboot is dancing around us in this mine. Snowball? Out-muscled Atticus, though prompted an evolution. Orion the corvisquire? Flew circles around Henrietta, who I’ve decided needs to partake in the Kabu battle since she’s my best wall against special attackers.

Dottie? Well. She’s trying. But Torrid has a Flame Charge making her damn near impossible to hit, and she packs a punch too. Or, she packs a kick? Either way, I hesitate, and then say, “Hop, I think I yield again. You’re just too good!”

Hop laughs, and he blushes. “Aw, thanks, Bonnie! I just know my pokemon well, that’s all. You’re getting a lot stronger too—! AH, TORI!”

I chuckle when Tori launches her furry behind at Hop for hugs and kisses and praise. High strung and high maintenance, but Hop seems like he’s got the energy for her. I go out to Dottie, and she’s hanging her head. She knows she’s falling behind the pack. I squat down and rub her cheeks.

“Oh, don’t you worry your pretty little head,” I tell her. “You’re doing a good job! We’ll get you evolved in no time!”

When she whines, I tuck the hook of my staff over my shoulder and pick her up like a baby. After two months on the road, her wool has grown out far. In another month or two, she’ll be perfectly round again.

Hop returns Tori so he doesn’t have to worry about her running off. “Here!” he says to me, and he proffers a pair of sunshades. “I got these for Orion, but I’ve switched out for Eviolite now since we’ll need it for Kabu, and it should be a long time until he evolves again. You can at least give them to Blanche in case you fight that Bede again!”

“Oh! Thank you, Hop,” and I realize, belatedly, that they’re Black Glasses. My lip curls just thinking about Blanche wearing these things. She’ll be the coolest sheep on the block. I tuck the gift away for later, and once Dottie is sated by cuddles, I return her.

“Have you figured out what you’re doing for Kabu yet?”

“Honestly, I have no clue,” I tell him. We start walking so we can at least make it out of the cave by nightfall. Camping in the fresh air will be much nicer. “I’m leading with Henrietta since she’ll be able to take special attacks better. Dawson is out of the runnings for the obvious reasons,” and we both laugh thinking of our first battle together. “I suppose I’ll have to anchor with Gloria again for the dynamaxing.”

Hop nods and puts his hands in his jacket pockets. “Makes sense,” he says, and he grins. “Gloria’s getting really popular with your fans you know.”

“Oh hush you! I don’t have any fans.” Except for maybe Turffield fans and their very cute gym leader. It’s been a long month training for Nessa and not seeing him. Honestly, a very lonely month. I should have taken Milo’s advice back when the ball happened and swallowed my pride and made friends with someone other than Hop. Now I’m friendless on the road.

“You have PLENTY of fans,” Hop stresses. “Have you even been on social media other than yelling at Raihan?” For some reason, I flush at this observation. “There’s like, a whole thread of twitter fans who are begging you to tell them how you can tell each sheep apart, come on!”

“So I should answer them?”

“ABSOLUTELY.”

For some reason, I’m burning up with embarrassment. “And what about you? I know I’m going to train a whole lot more before Kabu. Have you figured out what you’re doing?”

“Sure have!” Hop lights up with glee, and I’m glad to see he’s still wearing the scarf I knitted him. “I’m actually leading with Orion this time instead of Snowball, because everyone knows Kabu’s arcanine is hitting a lot harder than his ninetails.” So, everyone but ME apparently knew that. “And I know he’s running Will O Wisp, so I’ve made sure to teach Orion Air Slash so the burn doesn’t hurt our attack power as much.”

Shit. He’s thought about this far more thoroughly than I have. I’ve been thinking defensively this whole time, and hoping that we’ll be able to withstand him. I haven’t even thought about how to counter him, other than the Facade I was given. “And Tori is the anchor?” I say. She didn’t get much action in Nessa’s gym. He anchored with Orion dynamaxing with a Hone Claws and Power Trip combo.

“Yeah! I know Orion could do big damage against a bug type, but realistically I think Tori’s going to be the only one able to weather a gigantimaxed centiskorch. If I could luck up and find Bounce somewhere that’d be great. Maybe I’ll check out the wild area a bit more for the tr sellers. You never know what they’ve got.”

“A lot sounder plan than I’ve got,” I tell him honestly. I’ve got a steep incline to think about. I’ve got money from defeating Nessa though, and money I’ve saved from the knitting and crocheting commissions I’ve done for the past several years. I can buy some super potions and burn heals for the occasion.

I elbow Hop. “Leon impressed yet?”

He flushes and grins so hard his eyes close. “I don’t know about IMPRESSED but he’s definitely glad I’m on the right track to win this thing!”

“You’re talented, so.” I round on him before we exit the mine. Hop jumps. “For the next stretch of this journey, I don’t want you holding back on account of me, okay?”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You, Hop Wright, are too talented to be waiting on a lollygagger like myself to catch up. You could have easily breezed by Kabu by now and been on your way to Allister if you’d been going at your own pace.”

He scuffs a toe through the dirt. “Aw, come on, Bonnie, I’m not going to leave my rival behind!”

“Hop, you don’t need to wait on me! I’m holding you back. You know it. The whole world knows it.”

“Are not.”

“Are too.”

“Are not! We’re wooloo buddies!”

“And we can still be wooloo buddies!” I wring my hands around my staff. I tap it on the ground. “Look, Hop, I want you to grow as strong as you can so you can have a shot at beating your brother, right? So you shoudn’t have to put everything on hold for me. We can still battle when we see each other and make time to meet up and hang out. But let’s face it, I’m trailing behind all the challengers for a reason, and you should be light years ahead of the pack.”

Hop, bless his soul, defends me from my own narrative, saying, “So? There’s really no time limit on the gym challenge, so who cares if it takes us a month for each badge? That’s average time, Bonnie. Besides, speed isn’t everything.”

We stand here in a standoff, Hop stubbornly crossing his arms and me twisting my walking stick. Finally, I purse my lips and say, “I’m stuck with you, aren’t I?”

He grins. “Yes you are! Now come on, let’s get camp set up before the sun sets out there.”

You know? After all of that, I’m glad he’s sticking around with me.

***​

I head east of Motosoke for fresh air, a place to let my sheep out, and good lightning.

I choose to take Hop’s advice and photograph all my sheep for my apparent fans. And I must have some, because the amount of people following me has doubled since I started on this journey. When I get nice enough pictures, I dump them all in a big post and caption them:

AbsoluteEwenit
This is Gloria. She’s my dynamaxer, and you can tell because she’s got the Leftovers around her neck. You can also tell because Gloria is my most impetuous and silly, jumps around the most, and has this black splotch on her nose.

This is Henrietta. She’s the easiest to spot since her horn grew out at this odd angle when she evolved.

This is Dawson. I lead with him a lot in gyms because he’s strong. He’s got this Silk Scarf around his neck to help his attacking power. He has the biggest horns.

This is Atticus. He has the pinkest nose of them all, and the longest tail. The Brightpowder around his neck is a new addition and made taking a picture a pain!

This is Blanche. She has the curliest horns! She also has these very cool Black Glasses to help her Payback. Thank you @bloodofachampion for the new hold item!

Last but not least, my little baby Dottie! She’s the smallest one, and the roundest. She has a notch in her ear from a thievul. She also has these boots now! I found a set of Heavy Duty Boots in the mine that were ripped up, but I mended them. We’ll see if it’s helpful to her battling! If not, she still looks cute!


“Well, if it isn’t the sheepherder.”

I’m typing up the last of this message when I hear a person I DON’T want to hear. I leer at Raihan when he swaggers up, phone in hand—because let’s be real, it’s a growth attached to him. My sheep walk up to meet him. He rubs each head, saying, “Hello clone. Hello clone. Hello clone!” When he catches me glaring, he grins. “Haven’t you heard? They’ve figured out how to clone sheep.”

“Haven’t you heard how much I hate you?” I punch the post button and put my phone away. I stand and use my staff to herd my sheep away from him. “Could you just maybe, for the rest of my life, leave me alone?”

Dottie is being a stickler, so I hook her around her horn and drag her back to the group. She bleats in annoyance, but she falls in line. Raihan huffs.

“Could you maybe, for one second of your life, cool it? I owe you an apology.”

I whirl on him. In the warm summer sun, I’m not sure I’ve heard him right. I have to have entered a fugue state. “What?”

He crosses his arms. “What?” he repeats rhetorically. “You still hell bent on leaving?”

I purse my lips. I absently hook Gloria when she wants to go running off. I sit on my heels and wait.

Raihan shrugs. He’s wearing gym shorts and a tight t-shirt, and the man’s nothing but a string bean he’s so skinny. Stupid, pretty, tall people. “Look, I’ve been a right ass, and one of us has to apologize first, right? So. I’m sorry I’ve been riding your ass about things.” He spins his phone in his fingers. “And the Wrong Choice hashtag. That was rough.”

I stare. The afternoon breeze pulls on my skirt. “You’re sorry?”

He glares at me then. “What, I can’t be sorry, is that it? Look, I don’t know what’s got you tied up about me, Ms. Howard, but can you NOT be an ass about things for once? I’m here, I’m telling you I’m sorry for being a prick, so do we HAVE to keep fighting?”

Some little part about me isn’t satisfied with this. “But you still think my sheep are weak.”

Raihan scowls and throws up his hands. He paces away and then back to me, and I see him grinding his teeth. “Look. I can apologize for being an ass about my opinion, but I’m not going to apologize for having an opinion about wooloo, and the fact is that you’re not going to be able to take down the gym challenge with sheep! It’s just not possible!”

“You’re wrong! Just because dragons are powerful doesn’t mean a DUBWOOL isn’t!”

“I don’t care if you were using nothing but dragonite! No one’s making it to the top without balancing their team!”

“We’ve made it this far, and we’re still managing! I don’t care how we do it, I’m going to make you eat your words, Mr. Garrick!”

He snarls, and I bite my lip when that stupid fake fang flashes at me. “Is that so? You’re just lucky Bea isn’t working the gym track this year, or she’d punch right through those fantasies of yours!”

“Dubwool are strong, and they aren’t going to crack just because of one fighting type!”

“Ms. Howard!” My mouth is open for another retort, but something sharp about his tone stops me. I watch as, with great effort, he heaves in a deep breath and rakes a hand through his dreads. He stops, putting his hands up to me. “Look. We can argue day in and day out about whether or not an unbalanced team of DUBWOOL will make it through this gym challenge, but the fact of the matter is we aren’t going to agree. So.” He sticks his hand out. “Agree to disagree on this point, Ms. Howard?”

I hesitate, stubborn to the end, chewing my lip. “You said you would eat your words if I beat Kabu on the gym track.”

Annoyance flickers across his face, but he manages to rein it in. “Yes. I will eat my words, Ms. Howard, I’ll buy you a damn celebratory TR for beating the Firewall.”

Something about that digs wrong, and I simper, “I’m NOT a person to be bought, Mr. Garrick, I—”

“For god’s sake, woman!” He throws up his hands again, snapping, “What do you want, an apology letter wrapped in a big red bow? I’m not going to grovel!”

“I didn’t ask you to!” I snap. “But an honest letter of apology would be much better than trying to buy your way back into my good graces!”

He shoves his hand back to me. “Fine! Are you satisfied yet?”

I jam my staff into the dirt. He’s pissed me off again. I’m not being unreasonable, he’s being shallow with this fake apology! I doubt this man has ever meant anything truly in his life! I grab his hand and shake, and when his grip feels too tight, I make sure to squeeze as hard as I can. I’m satisfied when I see the flicker of a wince across his face. Bet those soft city hands of his can’t take the strength of farm hands.

We let go. We stand there, alternately ignoring one another or sneaking glances at each other. Stupid, beautiful jerkish people. They get away with everything because they’re pretty. I got distracted by clear dark skin, towering height, and tight summer clothes. I’m a fool. Yes, fine, I’ll admit it, just because I’m attracted to him like any girl with eyes would be, doesn’t mean I should have caved like that. I should have never—

I blink and stare at him. Raihan shifts and gives me a dubious look, lifting his phone between us like a defense. “What?”

I smile broadly. “Mr. Garrick,” I tell him brightly, “I do believe I must thank you.”

He frowns nervously. “For what?”

My smile splits a bit wider, and for once, I feel like I’m baring MY teeth at HIM. “Why, you’ve just given me the perfect idea about how to take down the Firewall.”

***​

I spend another week specifically training Dottie, because my plan hinges on her. And now, out on the pitch, holding her pokeball, I hope it pulls through.

The ninetails was very tough, and Henrietta’s Facade I think is the only thing that made sure we pulled through this battle. Now, his Arcanine is on the field, and it’s so big. I have cold feet about putting Dottie on the field, but I have to trust her.

“Dottie!” She forms on the field with the Brightpowder dangling under her neck—a last second switch from Atticus. There’s no way we’re outspeeding an arcanine. I begin to sweat. The cheering of the crowd pounds on my ears. This is the biggest stadium I’ve ever performed in, and one slip up here, and we’ll be done for.

Kabu’s stern face is alight with fire. He bellows, “Will-O-Wisp!” and I clench my hands.

“Move, Dottie! Get in close!” She races off, and something about that Brightpowder must be working, because the Will-O-Wisp flies just wide enough for her to duck around it. Once she’s cleared it and makes in front of the arcanine, I put my plan into motion. “Attract!”

My dubwool puts her hooves together, bats her eyes, and shimmies her wool that wiggles. She turns her head, showing off her horns. A pink glow spits from her eyes and the arcanine’s, and my heart lifts. We’ve got them!

A cry goes up from the crowd. Elation or hatred, I can’t tell. “That won’t stop us!” Kabu shouts. The old man’s adrenaline is up, and he points, hollering, “Flame Wheel!”

“Defense Curl!”

And then . . . It works. We stop them. The arcanine lowers its tail, whining with deference to us, ignoring his trainer’s command. Dottie, who’s curled up into the roundest ball a Dubwool can, peeks her head out. I jump, realizing we’re dropping the ball on our opening.

“Facade!”

Dottie crashes into the arcanine once—twice—Kabu is shouting into his mic, trying to force his arcanine to listen—three hits—and it’s not until we’re barreling for a fourth hit that it gets a spring in its step, realizing it’s getting hurt. We crash together, a Flame Wheel and a Facade, but Dottie comes out stronger. The dog yips, and after a struggle, refuses to get back up.

For one moment, I’m dumbstruck. Dottie? My little Dottie, the runt of the pack? And then, it hits me that she’s had my cleanest battle yet and EASILY mopped up an arcanine while barely getting hit. I smile broadly.

I KNEW that Attract was going to work!

Kabu mutters in his mic, “Light that fire and get your mind moving, Kabu! There’s still a path to victory!” and it hits me that even KABU was taken off guard at how deftly I shut down his arcanine.

Then, he sends out his centiskorch, and the smile flickers off my face.

***​

Milo elbows Raihan with a smile. “So, how’s she doing?”

They’re up in the luxury box in the stadium. It gives them the perfect view of the battlefield as Bonnie switches from her barely-hurt sheep to her dynamaxing sheep. Raihan’s seen more than one “Gloria for glory!” poster floating around the stadium. When did that saying catch on?

Milo just made it to see his girl since the gym trainers have all passed him or dropped out from him. Raihan is here to watch some matches and get a feel for the ones that actually make it past the Firewall. He’s mostly unimpressed with the lot, so he’s wondering how many trainers he’ll actually get to fight in the finals.

Raihan sighs. Milo’s waiting with a cheeky grin, so he replies, “Honestly? I can’t believe she completely shut down his arcanine with an Attract.” Everyone knows Kabu’s pokemon adore him, because the old man is soft and gives them too many treats.

“I like it,” Milo says as they dynamax and gigantimax. “She’s coming in with strategies most people don’t use. It’s refreshing to see how she handles herself and her team.”

He can’t help but elbow Milo back with a smirk. “Yeah, REFRESHING is the word to describe how you watch her, lover boy.”

Milo flushes pink with a soft laugh, and by god this man is smitten. “She’s . . . certainly something.”

“Uh-huh. You keep telling yourself that.”

Raihan turns his eyes on the battle. She chooses to stall out Kabu’s gigantimaxed centiskorch with two Max Guard’s only attacking back once with a Max Knuckle. Huh. Smart, she’s at least preparing her attack power while healing up from the hit she took with those Leftovers. She definitely works her longevity with that Gloria of hers.

The two pokemon shrink. Now that they’re smaller, the playing field is leveled. She knew better than to take on a gigantimaxed pokemon with only a dynamaxed pokemon. Instead of letting Kabu crush her career with his ace, she waited him out. Annoyingly, it’s impressive. Raihan fiddles with the bow in his pocket.

Gloria is beat the hell up when she finishes, but Bonnie comes out on top with her sheep again. Milo whoops and claps vigorously.

He’s not sure why he prepared this in advance when he didn’t think she would win, but it’s a good thing he did.

***​

It’s a one-two punch when I see them—Milo? Wonderful! Raihan? Lukewarm coffee at best.

I want to hug Milo I’m so excited to see him again, but I don’t because Raihan will start up a rumor mill I’ll never escape. Still, Milo reaches out with both hands and shakes mine, saying, “Congratulations, Bonnie! That was the best battling I’ve seen from you yet!”

My face feels hot. I hope it’s not showing, but I’m smiling stupidly again. My free hand comes up to cover his, and I’m sad he’s not wearing my gloves—it’s too hot with summer rolling in—but I do enjoy the warmth of his palms swallowing mine. “Thanks, Milo! Gosh, it’s been a month of Sundays since I’ve seen you!”

His face pinches up with a smile. “It’s been busy out at the gym, but hopefully I’ll be free now to catch a few more battles! You did great out there today! Honest, one of the cleanest battles we’ve seen against Kabu this year!”

Now I KNOW the blush is showing on my face. “Aw, lay off! I’m doing all right, but it wasn’t that great!”

Milo starts to say something, but a sharp clearing of a throat interrupts him. Milo and I abruptly drop hands, and I think my face is going to clear melt off my face I’m so embarrassed. Raihan gives us both a knowing look, and he says, “Alright, shove off for a second, Milo, I need a word with Little Bo Peep.”

“S-sure!” Milo’s face is redder than his hair. He gives me a small wave as he goes off, intercepting Kabu along the way. It’s my second time seeing him in something other than his gym uniform, and honestly, a green button up—(with the sleeves rolled up!)—capri jeans, and ankle boots is an EXCELLENT look on him. Does he pour into ALL of his clothes like that?

I feel Raihan shift beside me, and he glances at Milo’s retreating form too. “Aw, don’t be shy about crushing on Milo. Man’s got an ass to crack a walnut with.”

“Oh—!” I haul off and smack Raihan’s arm, and he laughs at my burning cheeks. “What do you even want?” This man just won’t leave me alone!

He gives me a bemused look. “What? I was told I owe you this, but don’t open it in front of me. That’ll make me embarrassed.”

He hands me a TR wrapped in a red bow with a piece of paper, and my heart jumps.

“Oh.”

Raihan wags it at me when it takes me a moment, and I reach up and take it. My red face? Still blazing hot, but this time with just a little touch of shame. The TR is Zen Headbutt, and Raihan shrugs at me. “Look, you’re gonna be fighting Allister next, and you might have an edge since I don’t think the kid’s got enough coverage moves to take you, but you’re gonna need a little something more than just Wild Charge and Payback up your sleeve, or you won’t be hitting him either.”

I look at my toes and fiddle with the bow. “Thank you.”

Raihan grins when I say that. “What was that? Was that something NICE out of the infamous Ms. Howard’s mouth toward me?” I give him a LOOK, and he grins. He slaps my shoulder, and god damn the man’s hands are big. “Don’t sweat it, Bo Bo. I’m off to watch Kabu’s next match.”

He saunters off, fiddling with his phone the whole time. It’s a wonder he doesn’t crash into something.

When I approach Kabu and Milo, my phone dings at me, but I ignore it for a moment. I give Kabu a scarf that’s stitched up to look like a centiskorch—one of my more time consuming projects so far, but he heaps praise on me and genuinely adores it since he’s so cold-blooded. I chat with Milo for some time before we split so he can catch the next battle and I can get to the Pokemon Center to rest my pokemon.

In my room, I open Raihan’s note:


Dear Bon Bon,
My most sincere heartfelt apologies go out to you for me being a big meanie at the opening ceremony ball. I was also a big jerk for The Wrong Choice hashtag. I have eaten a very big helping of my own words because you beat Kabu fair and square, and I’m never going to let him live it down. Maybe Dubwool are pretty strong, but if you manage to get to me, I’m still not going to let you win with a bunch of sheep. Capiche?
And don’t doubt that I’m heartfelt! This apology is very heartfelt. Look, it’s from the heart.

Heartfeltly,
Mr. Raihan Garrick


He’s drawn a heart on the note too that says, “From the heart” and it’s so ridiculous that I can’t help but laugh. I get a message on my phone from Hop about meeting up for a celebratory lunch. It’s then I notice the other ping I got earlier today:

GarrickHimself
ouch looks like I’ve eaten my own words for saying those sheep couldn’t get past @hotstuff tripped up my man with one attract @absoluteewenit are you happy? you’re pretty good #stampedingherd? #mylifehastakenatwist #truce?

AbsoluteEwenit
I might be a little happy about this turn of events, yes. #truce

GarrickHimself
hey you said I gave you your idea for taking on kabu so does that mean you’re attracted to me? that makes so much sense you don’t have to fight it baby I know I’m pretty

AbsoluteEwenit
NO. #allbetsareoff #babybib #imgonnakickyourass

I kicked Kabu's fuckin' ass running an Attract.



....

Also, Hop's raboot Torrid being female is a reference to my first playthrough of Shield where, of all odds, I picked up a female scorbunny for my starter.
I also did put the boots on Dottie cause I thought the idea of it was cute as hell. Little baby sheep in baby booties. ^-^
 

Rhema

Conqueror of the Azalea Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
218
Location
Hearthome City
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Pokémon Type
Fire, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
“Oh! Thank you, Hop,” and I realize, belatedly, that they’re Black Glasses. My lip curls just thinking about Blanche wearing these things. She’ll be the coolest sheep on the block.
That is just the most adorable mental image.

I've got to say, I really like how this is all coming together. I think Bonnie and Hop's little friendship and how he's lagging behind a bit just so they can be close is really sweet, and I hope to see their friendship develop as the fic goes on. I also really, really loved the whole Attract strategy during the gym battle. The way you wrote it was super compelling and how clever Bonnie is really shined through. Excellent chapter once again!
 

Xita

Moo
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
186
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
93
Location
Germany
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Dark
Kabu isn’t amused:

HotStuff
Who changed my name? How do I change it back? When I find out which of you did this, you’re going to pay.
Think I laughed at this part for a full minute. Just the mental image of this cranky old man having the twitter handle “HotStuff” was just... too much lol.

Good to see Bonnie’s still finding ways to win out there, both on the field and off.
 

Whozawhatcha

i have too many projects
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
494
Nature
Lonely
Pokémon Type
Fire, Flying
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18
@Rhema I'm very glad you're liking things! I have to remind myself to focus more on the sheep and Hop, but it's always very rewarding when I do.

@Xita Yesss! I'm so glad the little funnies tucked into this thing are making you laugh! And yes she is, if there's one thing about Bonnie, the girl is hella competitive.

"Girl you're the one I want to want me
And if you want me, girl you got me
There's nothing I, no I wouldn't do
Just to get up next to you”

Want To Want Me __ Jason Derulo

I text Hop first.

Hop is already on the next route. He asks me if I want to join him, and I say I’ll think about it, that I have a few things I need to attend to first.

I text Leon next, because I realize, I’m really screwed because I didn’t make many friends. I don’t think I’m going to get a reply from him when I do. He says he’s in Wyndon. He asks me if I need anything. I lie and tell him if he’s in Wyndon not to worry about it, that I can handle it.

I don’t want him to see me like this, but I text Milo next. (I may have gotten his number. Somehow we managed not to get caught swapping by Raihan, and I intend to keep it that way.) Milo is back in Turffield. His little brother is sick, so he’s helping pick up slack around the farm. He also asks me if I need anything, and I lie and tell him it’s no big deal, and that I just wanted to see if he wanted to go out for lunch.

In my panicked induced state, I don’t realize I’ve technically asked him out until he sends back, I’m sorry I can’t be there, but hold onto that thought. I’d love to have that lunch date another day.

I sit crouched on my feet in the corner of the locker room sweating THAT one out on TOP of what’s going on right now. Without them, I’m screwed, you know? I’m plumb screwed. I message Hop again, asking where he is on the route. He tells me a few hours out and shoots a photo of where he’s at if I want to join him.

Hours out.

Hours is better than never, right?

I hesitate to ruin Hop’s day. Hours is ridiculous. Someone will find me in that amount of time, and I won’t be able to live with myself if—

And then, I remember the one person who is in town that I know. I bite my lip and whine. This is going to be so stupid. But he’s going to see it. We’re tentatively on a truce. He has to help. I pull up twitter with slow fingers.

AbsoluteEwenit
@GarrickHimself You’re in Motostoke right now, right?


His answer is immediate, because he’s perpetually attached to his phone.

GarrickHimself
what’s up bo peep you missing me already?

AbsoluteEwenit
I’m going to message you.


I private message him then, so hopefully he’ll answer instead of thinking I’m some creepy fan trying to get into his DMs.

BonnieHoward
I need a favor.

RaihanGarrick
I’d make a joke here, but something tells me you coming to me is a real emergency. what’s up?


I curl my toes. The locker room is still deserted. This is what I get for trying to make friends, right? I didn’t have friends, so I thought I’d make some, and now I’m the idiot stuck in the locker room because I’m stupid and trusting, and people don’t like wooloo, and they’re all big stupid JERKS that are mean as snakes!

It takes me a moment to fess up to Raihan of ALL people what’s going on, but I do.

BonnieHoward
I’m in Motostoke Stadium’s girl’s locker room. I trained with some gym track trainers today, but they stole my clothes.


I hesitate over that message for a long time, because I’m such a stupid trusting hick, but that’s where I’m at. Naked in the girl’s locker room—I took a shower because I smelled like smoke from the gym!—and all my clothes are gone. All the way down to my underwear. They even took my staff. All I have left is my bag, most likely because even dumb delinquents don’t want to be accused of stealing valuables.

Raihan’s answer is fast.

RaihanGarrick
I’m on my way. who stole your clothes?

BonnieHoward
It doesn’t matter. They’d just say it’s a prank and nothing would come of it. Don’t worry about it.

RaihanGarrick
I will worry about it because shit like that isn’t allowed on this gym track much less in kabus gym that old man would be pissed knowing that shits going on in his gym. give me some names bonnie and I’ll have them kicked off the gym track before we even get you some clothes


I don’t know why, but his vehemence in the face of petty bullying is so nice and I’m so fragile that I start crying again. I sit on my heels, curled up in the corner of the shower I used, bury my face in my knees, and I cry some more because this is stupid. It’s stupid and I’m embarrassed, and I thought Raihan would be a merciless tease about it, but he’s not.

My phone pings twice at me while I cry. I sneak out for some toilet paper to blow my nose with and retreat back to my hiding spot. I check my messages, and they’re both from Raihan.

RaihanGarrick
give me five minutes I’m coming. did you have names? I’ll take descriptions and what pokemon they’ve got itll be easy to figure out who they are

hey still with me bon bon? I doubt you can magic up some clothes THAT fast with those knitting needles of yours


Against my will, I snort a laugh at that. I type back:

BonnieHoward
Really, it’s fine. Don’t worry about them. They’ll probably lose the gym challenge at some point anyways.

RaihanGarrick
I’m not exactly happy i dont get to eviscerate these people on social media and call the wrath of kabu on them but hey you do you boo. hoping the sting of defeat is worse than getting them kicked off the track?

BonnieHoward
Something like that.

RaihanGarrick
I’m coming in so dont freak out


On the heels of that message, I hear knuckles rap on the wall. “Hey, Bon Bon, you in here?”

I swallow. My face feels hot. “Y-Yeah!”

I hear his shoes on the tile floor. “Marco,” he calls.

Oh boy. I bite my lip, roll my eyes, and call back, “Polo.”

“Marco!”

“Polo!”

“Maaar-cooo!”

“Polo—don’t come too close!”

He stops somewhere just outside of my shower stall. “Here,” he says. I hear a small rustle. “Take this. I didn’t think to try to grab a gym uniform first, but those are probably under lock and key since only winners get them. We’ll have to ask the front desk.”

I stand, arms crossed over my chest and knees turned inward. I hesitate at the curtain. “Your eyes are closed?”

“They’re closed.”

I peek out. Then, I flush because what the HELL Mr. Garrick! He’s standing there in his gym uniform—some interview today I happened to remember kept him in Motostoke—so he’s in his gym uniform. Sans the hoodie. Maybe in the winter he would wear the shirt beneath there, but in the summer, he’s elected to only wear the hoodie, which means the very long, very cut, very pretty pane of his chest and stomach is right there in front of me, and lawdy if he doesn’t look . . . well, good enough to eat.

My eyes drag down before I can stop it. He has that V-cut stomach, and my face flares so hot I’m sure he can feel the heat where he stands. I look up quickly. His eyes are shut.

“Promise you’re not going to peek?”

He gives me a lazy smile. “As tempting as it might be, Ms. Howard, I do pride myself on not being a creeper.” He proffers the sweater again, and he adds, “The only people I see naked are ones who want me to, if you get my gist.”

There’s so much to unpack there in that sentence that I elect to ignore it completely. I dash out of the shower, snatch the hoodie, and duck behind the curtain. I hear him laugh under his breath, and I pop my head out to glare at him. Eyes still closed. Well. At least he’s keeping good to his word.

I shimmy the iconic sweater over my head, and it’s long enough to be a dress for me. I don’t know what cologne he’s using, but it smells good. Something spicy, naturally, he probably thinks he IS spicy.

“I take it that’s long enough for you?”

My damp curls stick to my neck. I shake my head to fluff up my hair some, and I step out of the shower, face burning with embarrassment that I’m wearing this man’s clothing. He stares at me like someone’s clocked him over the head. My eyes flick to his abs again and back to the floor. Fine, he IS spicy, fine! I try very, very hard to ignore his moonstruck gaze and instead pick up my bag and stand awkwardly with him.

He blinks out of his reverie. He clears his throat. “Right,” he says roughly. “Clothes. Let’s go.”

We clear out of the locker room, both of us in opposite states of undress. Fortunately for Raihan, not many people are going to question his lack of a shirt. He’s shirtless enough on his instagram feed. (I am NOT lurking on his instagram feed.) My feet pad softly on the floor beside him, and he flicks his eyes to me and back to his phone.

“Sure you’re not gonna feed me some names?”

My shoulders slump. I look away. “Mr. Garrick, the sentiment is nice, but it really doesn’t matter.” He grunts like he doesn’t believe me.

“What if they’ve strung your underwear up a flagpole somewhere?”

My cheeks flare. “Okay, if they’ve done THAT then I’ll feed you names.”

“I’ll take what I can get.” He grins suddenly and elbows me. “So? You a thong kind of girl?”

“Mr. GARRICK!”

I punch him back, and he laughs, loud enough to echo down the hall. The only reason I allow him to live is because he IS being nice enough to help me. It has nothing to do with smiles. “Aw, come on, I’m teasing,” he says. He grins, flashing that infuriating set of fake fangs. “Let’s be real, farm girl like you? Granny panties for sure.”

I purse up my lips. If he wants to play that game. “At least I have modesty. You’re probably a whore that doesn’t wear any underwear.”

He laughs again, like I’ve told him the best joke. I narrow my eyes at him. His abs look VERY nice in the middle of a laugh. We pass someone in the hall, but Raihan doesn’t seem like he cares about being the butt of a joke, because he’s chuckling, “All right, you caught me, Bo Bo, I’m a huge slut! Whatever shall I do?”

“You have no shame.”

“Shame is for the plebeians of the world, Ms. Howard. You have a lot more fun without it.” We hit the forward stretch towards the main hall, and it’s empty of people. Raihan takes his moment to lean over to me with a predatory smirk that makes my spine stiffen. “Though,” he says lowly, “if you want my REAL opinion, I think I’d peg you as a lacy cheeky girl.”

My face is entirely too hot. I swear he’s somehow peeked into my underwear drawer. I keep my eyes dead ahead when I say stiffly, “What I wear is none of your business, Mr. Garrick.”

He huffs a breath. He turns back to his phone, muttering, “Yeah, shame that.” My eyes pop. I return a stare at him before looking at my bare feet.

He can’t be interested in me. He’s hated my guts ever since meeting me. What am I saying, I’M not interested in HIM, he’s an asshole! Get a hold of yourself, Bonnie.

We walk to the front, and it’s a very slow day for the gym since there’s no battles today. For that, I’m thankful, since that means there’s less than a dozen people up front to see me in tow wearing Raihan Garrick’s clothing. He comes up to where they sell the uniforms and curses.

“Shit. It’s Sunday, that’s right. Hold on.”

He’s typing on his phone again. I linger behind him. I’m definitely not admiring the slope of his back. I admire nothing about this man, because he’s a very huge dick, and dicks don’t deserve attention. (Well . . . I imagine sometimes they deserve attention.) I cross my arms, self-conscious of the few people that look our way, but they seem like gym workers. Hopefully they know better than to gossip? Probably not.

“Kabu’s coming to help,” Raihan finally announces to me. I jump.

“How long?”

“Ah, old man’s probably only ten minutes away. He doesn’t live far from his gym, this place is his life.”

He moves to the nearest bench and sits. He quirks a brow at me, indicating the seat next to him. I don’t have anything better to do or anywhere better to go, so I bite my tongue, pull his sweater as low as possible, and sit next to him with my thighs pressed tightly together.

And we sit.

It’s awkward.

We fiddle on our phones, cutting our eyes back and forth to each other. I think both of us are trying to be secretive about it but failing miserably.

“Thanks,” I finally say.

“No problem,” he replies.

There’s a beat. He sits up and shifts, saying, “C’mere, let’s get a picture.”

I flush when he throws his arm around me, and I frown severely. “I thought you already had one?”

He looks down at me, quirking a brow, and I’m so offended at his condescending look that I swear I’m just going to leave and never give his sweater back. “Look,” he says, “if you won’t let me kick these assholes off the gym track, then the least I can do is piss them off, and everyone worldwide by getting a picture with you. Right? Everyone wants in that sweater, just give me your cheekiest grin and tell those girls to eat shit.”

There was a boy involved too, but I don’t tell him that. He wraps his arm around me and pulls me close so I’m flush with his body. I pointedly ignore him drawing attention his bare chest, and I give a pinched smile to the camera.

Raihan smiles like a supermodel. “Come on, Bo Peep, are you ticklish?”

His fingers dig into my side before I get the chance to abort this mission. I squeal with laughter against my will and twist, fighting him. “Raihan, STOP!” I wrestle his arm off, and he’s laughing at me. Jerk. I scoot away and frown at him like an unruly wooloo, but he just grins with disarming charm, saying, “Don’t worry, I got a good one.”

I huff. He’s not charming. He’s a hazard to society. I pull out my phone so I can see what terrible picture he’s picked, but it’s taking him an uncharacteristically long time to post.

“So?” he asks. “Why the wooloo? Other than telling everyone to eat it. Just cause you came from a farm?”

I fiddle with the long sleeves of his dragon hoodie, trying to tilt my phone away from him while I refresh his twitter page. “Well, I mean . . . Sort of.” Shoot! He still hasn’t posted! What the hell? “Wooloo ARE my favorite. Might just come from being on the farm all my life. I just understand the best way to take care of them. It makes raising them easy, even if strategizing isn’t always easy. Besides,” and I grin and nudge his foot with my toes, “who wouldn’t want a team of big fluffy babies?”

He snorts and rolls his eyes. He nudges back with his knee. “I can’t imagine loving a single pokemon so much I’d fill my whole team with them. Too many other kinds out there to like.”

“Yeah? Imagine filling up your whole house with Alolan meowth because you love those sassy bastards so much. That’s dedication.”

“That’s not what I’d call dedication, I’d call it desperation.”

We both snicker. I refresh his page again, waiting for the post, but he’s taking his sweet time. “So what about you?” I ask him. “Why dragons?”

He doesn’t really have a full team of dragons anymore. He’s branched out a bit, focusing more on weather conditions lately. “Oh, you know,” he says without looking up from his phone. “They’re my favorite. Plus, someone told me I wasn’t smart enough to get the dragon license, so I busted ass to get it.”

“Way to stick it to the man.” I can’t imagine having the funds needed to get a dragon license. The rarer typings are practically pay-walled. It’s why I have normal and grass, the cheapest.

“Sure did.” He stretches crossed legs and, goddamn this man is so tall. “Then I became one of the greatest trainers in the region to make them even madder.” Raihan suddenly smirks around a grimace. “Hey now, you better not rise up with wooloo like that just to stick it to me, we’re friends now, right?”

“Oh buddy,” and I smirk right back, “it doesn’t matter that we’re friends, you’re gonna eat it when I get enough badges to challenge you.”

“Oh is THAT right?” He crosses his arms and lifts his brows. “What happens when I send you packing?”

“You won’t.”

“No, no, you don’t get it Bo Bo,” and he sits up, grinning with too many teeth. “Let’s have us a wager if you’re so confident. Unless you’re afraid to lose.”

I sit up straight. My hands tug his sweater down, and I boldly laugh in his face. “Ha! Me, lose? You’ve bitten off more than you can chew, Mr. Garrick. I’ll take your bet, and when you lose, you have to add a wooloo to your team for next year’s gym challenge.”

He laughs, and I’m glad instead of getting mad at my smack talk that he’s smiling and eating it up. “Yeah, and if you lose . . .”

Raihan trails off. I hike a brow up, waiting to see what his worst is. His eyes flick up and down me wearing his hoodie. My stomach pitches. I have to beat him. I don’t care what he wants from me, he’s not going to win, so it doesn’t matter. Right?

He opens his mouth, and a voice carries through the gym.

“What’s this I’m hearing about delinquents in my gym?”

Kabu is hot with anger. His centiskorch isn’t the only one to know Fire Lash because he puts the pressure on me until I fess up the names of three trainers. He hands me a fire uniform complete with shoes, and as I head to the nearest bathroom to change, I catch Raihan showing his flygon a picture. The dragon’s wings hum a song, and it leaps towards the exit, escaping out the double doors of the stadium.

I frown at Raihan. “What’s going on?”

“Well,” he says, typing on his phone, “I found your clothing. Underwear isn’t strung up on a flagpole, but they are definitely on display.” The color drains from my cheeks. I brace for the worst, but Raihan just shrugs, saying, “Don’t worry, I sent Darude to pick your things up.”

I choke. “You named that poor thing DARUDE.”

He grins. “You should’ve heard the last one’s name!”

“I don’t think I want to know.”

I go to change, and surprisingly—and relievingly—Raihan doesn’t tease me about being right about my underwear. I guess he’s a jerk, and a tease, but at least he’s not mean. I frown at my borrowed clothing. Nothing about that sentence made sense. But then again, nothing I feel about Raihan Garrick makes sense either.

I pull on the socks, shorts, and put the shoes on so I’m not walking on public bathroom flooring. My phone pings, and I remember Raihan’s tweet. Before I finish changing, I reach for my phone, fighting with Raihan’s freakishly long sleeves.

His tweets pull up—yes, plural, it’s a thread of all things—and so does the photo. It’s probably the very second he started to tickle me. He’s posed and smiling like a darn model, and I’m twisting away from his hand and into his chest with a laugh. For that one split second, I actually look like I’m having fun with him.

We look cute.

I shake that thought away and read his spill:

GarrickHimself
I’m sure some of you have seen the photo that’s been circulating of someone’s underwear but I want it known that those who took her clothing are going to regret it. that kind of behavior isn’t accepted on the

gym track and I don’t take kindly to it. lucky for her she’s got my undivided attention for the rest of the day if she wants it and a fashionable statement to boot. dragon type looks good on her right?

I better not see anyone circulating images of mean childish pranks or you’ll have me to answer to. bonnie howard already had to put up with me and she sure as hell doesn’t need it from the rest of

anyone who thinks she doesn’t deserve to be on this gym track when she’s proved over and over that she’s more than capable of crushing competent gym leaders with nothing but sheep. I don’t care if

you’re rooting for her or not, the least she deserves is proper respect for being an excellent trainer. quite frankly I’m looking forward to battling her myself. and as for the challengers that stole her clothes

you heard it here first @theverybest @pinkonthebrink @ghostsnbrawn your little stunt cost you your endorsements. hope it was worth it to be an absolute fucking wanker #stampedingherd #gloriaforglory #stompthedragonbaby


Oh.

I sit on the toilet, staring at this outpouring of defense for me. I refresh the page. The likes are climbing like mad.

I’m suddenly very self conscious of being in his uniform hoodie, so I quickly shrug out of it and into the fire uniform t-shirt. I make the mistake of stopping to read comments. They’re a mess, full of girls being jealous that I’m wearing his hoodie, others jealous that I’m getting his attention, people being supportive, people bitching that Raihan’s being hypocritical when he was mean to me first, and some people saying terrible things about how sexy my panties are. Some of the comments are marked as spam and don’t show up. I wonder if they were trying to repost the image of my underwear.

I refresh the page again. I scroll back through, and the comments about my underwear are already flagged as inappropriate and taken down. I picture Raihan in my head, out front with Kabu, endlessly refreshing his post to police it himself. But that’s ridiculous, right?

Throwing his hoodie over my arm, I head back out. I don’t see Kabu, but Raihan is waiting for me. He waves me over.

“Come here, what’s your number?” When I flush, he grins. “Just in case you have another emergency down the line. And I want to send you my favorite photos I got.”

I surreptitiously close the twitter feed when I pull my phone out. “Somehow I’m going to regret this,” I mutter to him, and I garner another snicker from him. We trade phone numbers. I give him back his hoodie, and I’m so relieved when he puts it on.

“If you want to wait, Darude will be back with your clothes soon. Kabu headed out already, he’s piping hot.”

“Sure,” I say. I try not to look at him, feeling flustered for some reason I can’t place. I open the feed again, and the likes and retweets are climbing so high it’s alarming. He didn’t have to white knight for me all over twitter like that. I read more of the comments that are pouring in. There are odd terrible ones that sneak in, but for the most part, they’re very heartening. I squirm. He didn’t have to do that.

“You want some lunch?” he asks me abruptly. “I know this hole in the wall that has the best pizza.”

I think of Milo wanting me to save a lunch date for him. Is that what this is? Is this a date? I fluster, and my phone pings when Raihan messages me. “No thanks,” I squeak out.

Raihan snorts. “Oh don’t be like that Ms. Howard, I’m not holding you at gunpoint. It’s not a date or anything. Thought we were friends?”

I preoccupy myself with my phone. “Sure,” I say, caving to his persistence. I open his message.

these are my favorites but you’d be mad if I posted them for everyone to see

There are three photos. Two of them are horrendous. I’ve got double chins in one; and in the other I look like I’ve swallowed a hot pepper. I slap at Raihan, exclaiming, “Oh DO go on! These are horrible!” and he just laughs and laughs at me.

The third one he slipped in is almost an exact duplicate of the one he posted, but he’s got his had turned down to me in this one, a surprised laugh leaping from him. We look too much like a couple. It’s one of his favorites.

Oh good heavenly day help me.

He DOES like me.

In other news, Animal Crossing has devoured my life and I haven't written anything in about a month. Whoops!
 

boomdidiyadah

Looking into middle distance
Pokédex No.
1609
Caught
Mar 6, 2020
Messages
101
Location
Inside, outside, U.S.A.
Nature
Lonely
Pokédex Entry
Quietly sings to itself quite constantly, and is said to always have a song inside its head. Despite this, it has a terrible singing voice.
Gym leaders & challengers as celebrities, bureaucracy re: trainer qualifications, social media feuds. We just need intrusive paparazzi and the Quartet of Modern League Stories is complete.
...okay, maybe Galar doesn't count because they did the celebrity part in canon. Game Freak has been reading fanfictions this whole time!

Good story! I love your descriptive language and creative strategies. I'm excited to see what clever tactics you come up with to fight the rest of the gym leaders. Especially Raihan and his wacky weather shenanigans. Are you grinding a lot? Or have you found it sufficient to keep near the "standard" level curve?

Excited for the next chapter! However, I must warn you. If you somehow find a way to make it even more aww-inducing than the story has been so far, I will have a heart attack from sweetness overload.
 

Xita

Moo
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
186
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
93
Location
Germany
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Dark
Wholesome chapter!

In other news, Animal Crossing has devoured my life and I haven't written anything in about a month. Whoops!
Can definitely relate, those loans don’t pay themselves!
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top