Loud cheers exploded from the audience, nearly drowning out the last of the announcer’s speech, but it hadn’t mattered anyways. There was no stopping the flood of voices, each trying to outdo the others, trying to grab her attention. Flowers were thrown, some single stems, others complete bouquets. She grabbed a rose out of the air, making a show of sniffing it, then blew a kiss out in the general direction it had come from. Multiple shrieks, hopefully of joy.
Something nudged her hand, and she glanced down to her side. There was Absol, nuzzling her side, the beautiful pokemon looking just as happy as she.
The roaring of the crowd lulled a little, and she took the opportunity to act. Making a show of pinning the Ribbon to Absol’s sash, she curtsied then tossed the flower out into the sea of indistinguishable faces. Hands reached up, all in the hope of catching it. The cheering crescendoed again with renewed ferocity.
The teleprompter displayed a message in blocky neon letters. 'Bow and exit stage left'. She, the three former semi-finalists and all their pokemon bowed to the audience, then were waved offstage by one of the stage hands.
As usual, she went directly into the main lobby to talk to her fans, but this time was different. The moment she set foot into the room, she was hounded by dozens upon dozens of people like never before. It was a chaotic whirlwind of faces, signatures, hands reaching out to shake hers. In the end, she would only clearly remember the image of a small child who was near tears with joy: one of the few who had brought a gift for Absol, a pretty blue bow. Said pokemon was overjoyed, insisting it be put on immediately. She allowed the child to tie it around the base of her pokemon’s horn.
Soon enough, though, the crowd became pushy, competing for her as they had with their voices. Someone grabbed her wrist.
A startling cry from Absol brought that to an abrupt end, the graceful quadrupedal pokemon pacing in front of her, glaring daggers, practically daring them to approach again, and the crowd was suddenly reminded of the pokemon’s long, almost talon-like claws and the sharp horn on her head. But it wouldn’t last forever. A plan of action came to mind.
“Absol, use perish song!” At first the white pokemon’s voice soothed the crowd with a haunting yet pretty tune. However, it soon became discordant, each note clashing with the others, and people began covering their ears and sinking to their knees, their energy sapped by the sound. The effects, already ineffective against humans, were diluted by the background noise and would last only a few minutes after Absol had stopped. She had to be quick, but it wasn’t helping that her strength was also waning. When the opening came, she made a break for the exit through the weakened wall of bodies.
She cursed the size of the contest hall as they ran. There were so many spectators clogging the way, and the layout was already confusing enough as it was. Absol couldn’t have properly sung while running, as the warbling it caused was enough to disrupt the song’s properties, and her other attacks would either actually hurt people or cause property damage.
The commotion her fans were causing was attracting more attention from the otherwise bystanders, who were starting to follow as well. She was chased around in a near complete circle, ending up back where she started near the entrance to the performers’ dressing rooms and lounge. The veritable hoard of people and pokemon trying to glomp her had nearly caught up. She was tired, her side ached, her feet hurt, and Absol had disappeared part way through, perhaps swallowed by the crowd. She couldn’t keep the pace, they were going to catch her.
Just as she passed the hall, something caught her arm and she was dragged into it, to a shallow alcove just out of view from the main lobby. The mob carried on, chasing someone who wasn’t there anymore. A hand clamped over her mouth, preventing any sound coming out. She struggled, desperate to escape, but they had an iron grip around her.
“Calm down, May. It’s just me.” May froze, recognizing the voice, and felt her racing pulse slow. Slowly, she relaxed, and the person released her. She turned.
“Brendan?!” Her friend grinned, evidently having fun with her confusion.
“What, not happy to see me even after I totally just saved you?” His grin turned smug.
“I could have handled it,” She insisted, crossing her arms and turning her head away from him. “And I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“Ooh, that’s cold,” He mock shivered, rubbing his arms. “And for your information, Absol didn’t seem to think so.”
“Absol!? Where is she?” May panicked, whipping around trying to find sight her friend, guilty at the thought of losing track of her.
“Whoa, May, do you want to attract that hoard out there?” Brendan caught hold of her arm again, forcing her to still. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, he had a point.
“...fine,” she subsided. “Just tell me where she is.”
“This way,” Brendan turned into the hall and waved for her to follow. Even after the months since she had last seen him, he hadn’t changed all that much. Same backpack, same jacket, same white hat that had the little tufts on top.
He led May to the lounge where the performers rested in between their times on stage. It was comfortable, to say the least, with puffy chairs and couches around a glass coffee table, to one side of the room a buffet with mostly-empty platters of deserts and horderves. A large screen was mounted in clear view of all the seats, currently turned off, where the performances were streamed.
“Absol!” She practically tackled the pokemon, who had previously been pacing back and forth worriedly by the table.
“That pokemon of yours is pretty smart,” Brendan commented, sitting on one of the chair arms. “She found me, and since you and your partners are attached at the hip I knew something had to be wrong.”
“Thank you, Absol,” May murmured into her friend’s alabaster fur, who barked affectionately.
“What, I don’t get any appreciation?”
“I suppose you earned it,” She sighed, standing and turning to him. She took a couple steps forward, so their faces were only a few inches apart. He clearly wasn’t expecting that, as he blushed.
“W-what--” May started patting his head, a mischievous smile on her lips.
“Good job, Brendan.”
“May!” He yelled as she backed off, a whining note in his voice.
“You did asked for appreciation,” She laughed, to which Absol seemed to snigger. “And who wouldn’t want to be thanked by moi?” May exaggerated placing her hand over her chest, playing up the hubris.
“Your ego’s getting bigger by the day,” Brendan groaned, before hopping off the chair.
“Where’re you going?” She asked, tilting her head quizzically.
“Leaving,” He tossed the word over his shoulder, not bothering to turn.
“But that’s the staff exit.” He did look back that time, a dumbfounded look on his face.
“So you want to try to get past your rabid fans again?”
“Point taken,” May sighed, “So I’m going with you.”
“Why would you, o great May, want to hang with a nobody like me?” Brendan asked, the words riddled with good-natured sarcasm.
“A nobody who also just happens to be the newest Champion of Hoenn,” She replied cheekily, ducking into her changing room to change and grab her bag.
“So you heard? And I thought I was being sneaky…” The Champion pouted.
“Norman called a few weeks ago,” May rolled her eyes -- not that he could see -- shouldering the backpack her contest clothes were in as she adjusted her fanny pack. Content with her state of apparel, she left the room.
“Why do parents always ruin my fun?” He grumbled, still sulking. “I wanted to tell you myself.”
“Anyway, you’ve got a the story to tell. If you do, lunch is on me.” May offered Brandon her hand.
“You bet,” He grinned, taking it.