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Into the Wild

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“You want to join me for training?” Gloria stared up at Raihan incredulously. 

Raihan at least had the decency to look abashed as he awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck, “Y-yeah, you don’t mind?” 

“Why?” 

Raihan nodded at the Champion, “I… figured if I want to beat Leon and subsequently you, I’d take a page out of your book?” The disbelieving look on Gloria’s face was almost answer enough. Raihan didn’t blame her, that excuse sounded flimsy even to him. Not to mention it was the League’s worst kept secret that he held a mild dislike for Gloria. How could he not, she’d single handedly destroyed his dream of dethroning Leon and set herself up as an even stronger opponent. If he couldn’t beat Leon yet how on earth would he be able to defeat the reigning Champion of seven years? 

Groaning internally Raihan wondered how he even got in this situation? Oh yeah, Nessa and Sonia…

 


 

The three of them had been hanging out in Nessa’s apartment trying to make plans for Leon’s return from Kalos. He’d been gone for a two years, off to explore the other regions in what he’d called a soul searching mission. Raihan called it being bloody bored with Galar. He couldn’t blame Leon either, Galar was a small region and once you’d been through it, there wasn’t much else it offered. 

Leon was lucky, no longer being the Champion and Gloria having turned 18 three years ago now being old enough to lead the League on her own, Leon was left with little responsibility. The only thing he had was the Battle Tower but it took care of itself. Raihan was jealous, he wanted to go on a journey as well but being a gym leader tied him down. With the annual league challenge he had to be in Galar for its six month duration and as the strongest gym leader he couldn’t just up and leave his gym to whomever as he went off on a journey.

“So…” Nessa’s voice broke Raihan out of his thoughts, her tone cheeky, “Are you going to confess when he gets back?”

Sonia’s face went redder then her hair, “What?! I-I don’t know what you’re talking about…”

“Leon! Come on, you’ve fancied him since you two took on the gym challenge! It’s been years Sonia, it’s time to tell him!”

“I can’t…” Sonia sighed, an air of defeat surrounding her.

“Why not? Look at you, he’d be insane to turn you down, you’re gorgeous! Tell her, Raihan,” Nessa said, turning to look at Raihan pointedly. 

“Yeah… he’d be insane to turn you down Sonia,” Raihan’s heart clenched painfully, just another thing he couldn’t beat Leon in, “You’re beautiful, amazing with pokemon, and wickedly smart.” Sonia smiled weakly at him. 

“Thanks guys, but I don’t think it’ll work out. I don’t think I’m his type,” Sonia crossed her arms over her chest, gaze directly to the floor.

“And just what do you think his type is?” Nessa asked, her tone sarcastic.

“Someone strong and fierce, that can keep up with him and challenge him.”

“So Raihan?” 

Both he and Sonia balked at Nessa.

“Wha-” he sputtered as Sonia hastily traded to clarify who she’d meant, 

“No! Gloria! Gloria is his type! Look at her she’s grown so much and so strong! She’s a fine young woman. I can’t compete with the Champion and I don’t want to…” She trailed off.

Nessa cocked an eyebrow, “Really, Gloria? What makes you think she even sees Leon in a romantic light?”

“It’s Leon how could she not?” Sonia’s said, her tone matter of fact, “Not to mention I heard her talking to Hop in the lab the other day, she was planning on confessing to Leon. How could I get in the way of that? They’re well suited for each other.”

“You did? What did she say?” Nessa asked. Raihan looked towards Sonia, even his interest was piqued. Confessing her feelings to someone seemed out of character for the normally reserved Gloria. 

“She and Hop were talking about something and she mentioned that she’d talk to Leon when he gets back next weekend and ask him. Hop asked her if she was sure about Leon and that it’d be a big commitment. Gloria said she was sure. Hop saw me before they said anything else, so I had to pretend to have been looking for him” Sonia concluded.

Both Nessa and Raihan’s eyes were blown wide in disbelief at Sonia’s reveal. Except Raihan couldn’t help but feel as if they were missing the full story. The story just seemed strange to him.

Nessa recovered first, “This just means we have to act faster than Gloria.”

“What.” Sonia looked at Nessa in confusion.

“Listen, I know you see Gloria as your adoptive little sister, but you got to be selfish. She’s got Hop on her side which means she may have the advantage of knowing exactly when and where Leon will be coming back so we need a plan…Hmm…” Nessa trailed off, already thinking of schemes. 

Raihan looked towards Sonia, “Sonia.” He called. She looked to him, waiting for him to continue, “I don’t think you have to worry about Gloria. Leon still sees her as nothing more than a kid.” 

“But she’s not a kid anymore Raihan, she’s 21.” Sonia smiled sadly at him, causing the Butterfree’s in his stomach to return. Damn Leon…

Sonia’s words had apparently snapped Nessa’s attention back to the conversation and away from whatever scheme she was cooking up, “Raihan, I know you hate Gloria.”

“Hate is a strong word, dislike is more accurate,” Raihan interrupted.

“Fine, I know you dislike Gloria, but even you have to have seen her. There is nothing childlike about her anymore. Nothing. Plus you’ve seen her gradually change, Leon’s been gone for roughly two years, it’ll be quite a change for him and who knows how he’ll take it. Might just change his thoughts on Gloria.”

“Change his thoughts?” Sonia squeaked in alarm at Nessa’s thoughts. 

“Who knows. It’s not like she’s unpopular with men,” Nessa stated. Even Raihan had to grudgingly concede that point, he’d seen what the press and web had been saying. 

“So here’s the plan,” Nessa plowed right on through, “We keep Leon from seeing Gloria first and allowing her to confess to him. That way Sonia can confess first and we’ll see the birth of a beautiful couple meant to be!”

“And just how do you plan on doing that?” Raihan asked.

“See, that’s where you come in Raihan,” Nessa’s smile was positively wicked.

 


 

“-han… Raihan?” Raihan’s focus snapped back to the present as he registered Gloria repeatedly calling him.

“Oh, uh, sorry, zoned out there for a second,” he sheepishly smiled.

“I noticed,” Gloria looked less than impressed, “None the less, I said fine. You are free until the gym challenge begins, yeah?” 

“Uh yeah, should be. Why?” The gym challenge? That’s four months away, what kind of training is Gloria planning!? Raihan suddenly regretted ever agreeing to Nessa’s plan, he didn’t even want Sonia and Leon together!

“Brilliant! I’ll let Hop know, you’ve really saved my skin, Raihan, I’ve been looking for a partner. I’m surprised you’re volunteering though. Thanks though. Pack your bags, we’re going to the Wild Area for the foreseeable future. I’ll meet you at the south gate of Motostoke at 6am. Don’t be late.” And without even waiting for an answer, Gloria began to walk off. 

She stopped after a few steps, “Ah, just to let you know we won’t be back in the cities for a while so be prepared. And don’t tell anyone please.”

What have I gotten myself into?

*Ring Ring Ring Rin-*

“ ‘Ello?” 

“Raihan!” Nessa appeared on the Rotom phone’s screen, “How’d it go? You manage to rope Gloria into spending the weekend with you instead of meeting up with Leon when he comes back?”

“Erm… yeah, I did… abou-” the tinny sound of high pitched squealing coming from the speakers cut him off.

“Brilliant Raihan!” Nessa exclaimed.

“Thanks Raihan!” Sonia smiled warmly at him as she appeared next to Nessa on the small screen.

Faking a brilliant smile and throwing a thumbs up at the two girls, Raihan managed a “No problem!” Before he was hung up on in all the excitement and he could even begin to explain his unexpected predicament.

Damn… So packing huh…

 


 

The next morning couldn’t have come any faster, Raihan thought as he trudged down Motostoke’s main street, heading down to the gate. 

Blimey, 6 am, kill me.  

He stopped to take a selfie in the streets, taking advantage of the morning’s Golden Hour and captioning it ‘Early start to training, #LeonYoureGoingDown’. He saw Hop and Gloria waiting by the gate, Hop waving at him with a large smile. Raihan quickly posted the photo to SmeargleGram, his phone already beginning to buzz with incoming likes. If he’d known that was about to be the last photo he’d post in a while, he would have put more effort into it, or maybe posted an SOS message in the caption begging his fans to save him from the hell trip awaiting him. 

Chapter Text

“Thanks so much for this Raihan, Gloria and I really appreciate your help!”  Hop exclaimed as soon as Raihan stepped within earshot.

Is Hop coming too? Raihan wondered. He approached Hop and Gloria.

Hop continued, “I’ll admit I was surprised when Gloria told me you of all people offered to help but hey, I guess anyone friends with Lee is bound to be somewhat decent of a person!” He finished with a grin. 

Somewhat decent…? Raihan felt slightly offended, did Leon’s brother have zero filter? Thinking on all his experiences with Hop, Raihan concluded that yes, Hop always had no filter, just that it was never turned on Raihan himself and thus had been funny. When it was at the expense of others, not himself.

“Hop, you can’t say that. That’s rude. We want him to stay and help, not drive him off,” Gloria chimed in, well, chimed as much as she could with her reserved voice. 

Had she always sounded so bored? Raihan could’ve sworn she was slightly more upbeat back when she took on the gym challenge. Maybe, maybe not? It’s not like I paid much attention to her back then. Everyone and their nan was focused on Hop, the undefeated champion’s brother, not the extra tagging along with him. Though in hindsight, that was a mistake…

“Right, sorry mate. Anyways thanks again, I expect Gloria filled you in on what you two will be doing, yeah?” Raihan only had time to blink before Hop continued, taking said blink as  confirmation, “Brilliant. I’ll expect updates whenever you can but don’t feel too pressured, I know service out there can be dodgy to none.” 

He continued, “Not that you use your phone much in the first place, Gloria,” Hop pointedly glared at the current champion, who only shrugged sheepishly in response, “Anyways, I’ll leave that responsibility to you, Raihan.”

“Uh…” What on earth is happening. What is Hop talking about, why would we need to check in?

Fantastic!” If he didn’t know better, Raihan would think Hop was Nessa’s brother what with Hop’s tendency of interrupting before he even managed to get the answer to his own question, “Anyways, you all packed?”

“Yup, good to go for the next four months,” Gloria chirped monotonously, a feat which Raihan had no clue how she was pulling off. Wait…

“Four months!?” Raihan exclaimed, physically taking a step back from sheer shock. Hop shot him a look saying Yes, that is exactly what you agreed to, is it not? And no it was not considering Gloria had not explained anything to him at all and JUST WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

Gloria on the other hand just smiled at him, “I figured you’d under pack,” she paused to shake the large and heavy looking rucksack hanging off her bony shoulder, “So I packed extra, should be enough for the two of us and our teams. If not we can always forage for berries, it’s always worked out for me before.”

“Brilliant, Gloria! You’re truly a life saver!” Hop exclaimed, slapping her back. With the amount of force Hop used and with how heavy the rucksack appeared to be Raihan assumed Hop would topple over Gloria with that friendly pat, but nope, Gloria stood proud and tall. Well, not physically tall, height wasn’t one of the gifts life thought to bestow upon her, but metaphorically tall.

“Well, we’d better head off, we don’t want to waste any time if we want to reach our goal by the end of the day,” Gloria turned and started heading towards the gate. “Coming Raihan?” She didn’t even turn back to see if he was following. 

Damn you Nessa… Raihan thought as he hurried after her. Maybe four months is an exaggeration?

“Good luck!” Hop exclaimed waving jovially after them. If Raihan had looked back at Hop he may have seen Hop’s wince and heard his muttered “You’ll need it, mate.” If he had, he would’ve known to turn tail and run, Nessa and Sonia’s plan for true love be damned. 

 


 

“Welcome to the Wild Area.” Gloria stated flatly, in contrast to the dramatic way she threw her arms up and out as if presenting to Raihan the glory of the vast Wild Area.

“I have been here you know,” he said, shooting Gloria a slight glare. 

She glanced at him, “Really? Never took you for the outdoors type.”

“That doesn’t mean I’m incapable of going outside or have never been.”

“Right.”

“You literally have to go through the Wild Area to even get to Hammerlocke.”

“You could always use the taxis.” Gloria said, finishing with a small hum. Raihan sighed, this was a pointless argument and was getting them nowhere. It was time he ask the real questions and figure out just what they were doing.

“So… just what was Hop talking about? What are we doing, I thought this was just training?” Raihan asked, glancing at Gloria as she walked next to him.

“It is training…” she trailed off. Raihan glanced at her pointedly, prompting her to continue, “…And then some.”

“And then some?” What.

“Yeah, there some areas beyond the Wild Area near Hammerlocke that haven’t been thoroughly explored and Hop wanted me to check them out and see what kind of Pokemon live there and the environment. Expanding the Wild Area is you will,” Gloria breezily explained.

“Hammerlocke?! Then why did we start all the way down in Motostoke? I literally live there! Why didn’t we just start there?” Raihan couldn’t believe what he was hearing, of all the things! She’s just added an unnecessary few days to this whole expedition!

Gloria shrugged, “Well, we could’ve but you wanted to train so I figured we’d train as we head to Hammerlocke. Kill two Corviknight with one stone ya know?” Great, she’d effectively placed the blame on him.

“Brilliant…”

“Anyways, thanks for coming with me, Hop wouldn’t allow me to go exploring on my own anymore after a few… incidents…” What the hell, incidents? “Though, again like I said before, I am surprised.”

“Why’s that? Both you and Hop have mentioned that.” Raihan asked, he couldn’t help it he was curious.

“Well for starters, like I said, I never took you for an outdoors type so four months max in the uncharted wild seemed unlikely,” Gloria began, but before she could continue, Raihan interupted,

“Wait, you’re serious about the four months?”

“Yeah? We’re researching lesser explored areas of the Wild Area, it’ll take some time what did you expect?” Gloria looked at him questioningly. If she’d paid closer attention to him she might have noticed him sweating,

They were doing what now?

“I… I was honestly just looking for training, but I’m here now!” Raihan confessed. Gloria nodded but didn’t say anything.

“Anyways, you said for starters earlier, what’re the other reasons?” He awkwardly attempted to change the subject.

“Just one.” 

Raihan waited for her to elaborate. She remained silent.

“Well, what is it?” He bit out. Let no one accuse Raihan of being a patient man.

“Oh. Well you don’t like me so why would you want to spend time with me?” Gloria looked at him blankly. Well damn, doesn’t she get right to the bloody point.

Raihan sighed, before throwing out the first answer he could think of, “I don’t have to like you to admit that you’re strong. Stronger than me, stronger then Leon.” 

“Obviously.” Gloria interrupted under her breath, voice flat, as if she uttered it without thinking. 

Raihan glared down at her, before continuing as though she’d never spoken, “I haven’t been able to beat him once in all these years. Obviously something has to change in what I’m doing. So why not get help from the one person I know who has managed to defeat him.” The more Raihan spoke, the more he began to realize the truth in his half baked excuse, though he loathed to admit it. Shit, I might actually get something out of this…

“So… what is your strategy, oh great champion?” Raihan asked sarcastically. He recalled studying all her recorded matches, trying to pick apart every move she’d make. He couldn’t pick out any semblance of strategy in her decisions. It all seemed so…so random! There was no rhyme or reason to anything she did! Calling out random Pokemon, calling them back in mid way through. She’d occasionally sacrifice a Pokemon, allowing it to take on a heavy hit only to call it back and bring it out later on in battle against a new opponent. Her Pokemon would then proceed to wipe the floor with its opponent, despite its earlier damage. 

Hell, Raihan had never even seen her use a defensive or stat altering move. She was a purely offensive battler, but she never made use of obvious type advantage. All battling theory pointed to Gloria losing very quickly, yet somehow she’d come out on top and managed to stay there for the better part of seven years. He didn’t understand. He’d just chalked it up to sheer dumb luck. 

Gloria looked up at him as if he were an idiot, “…Have you never heard of type advantage before?” 

“Of course I have!” Raihan bristled, what did she take him for, an idiot? “But you don’t use type advantage! Most of the time your Pokemon are either effective or not very effective against your opponent’s Pokemon!”

“Raihan… my Pokemon don’t need to have the type advantage themselves. As long as they have a move or two with the type advantage, thats all I need.” 

“Tch.” He had to concede that one. He was a little embarrassed he hadn’t caught onto that while studying her matches. He’d honestly thought her too simple for any kind of slightly more advanced strategy than: water Pokemon dowses fire Pokemon! Raihan grudgingly filed that tidbit away. It wasn’t a terrible strategy, though a bit underhanded. An opponent wouldn’t be able to clue into the secret type advantage until it was already too late.

“What about if your Pokemon have the type disadvantage despite having a move with type advantage, then what?” He smirked in self satisfaction, confident he’d found a hole in her so called strategy.

“Well that’s where the second part of my strategy comes in. Speed. They can’t hit you if you’re faster than them.” She explained to him matter of factly.

“That’s it? Type advantage for moves and speed? That’s so basic!”

“Yet, here I am, reigning Champion of Galar for seven years and counting.” Gloria said, her tone slightly smug. 

“Just wait till one of us gym leaders dethrones you,” Raihan looked away from her, pouting.

“I doubt that.”

“And why’s that?” He hated how sure of herself she seemed.

“You guys all use one type. Not that hard to plan for,” she replied simply. 

“We’re gym leaders, it’s kind of our thing.”

“Yeah, when you’re running the gym. You all use different teams when in the tournament, but you all still use the same type of Pokemon.”

“Call it a theme will you. We have reputations as type trainers to uphold.”

“Then you get beaten by type advantage.” Raihan had no follow up words to that. Gloria sighed before she continued, “Double types exist as well so if you’re so concerned with your precious theme, take advantage of the secondary types.” 

“I know double types exist and I use them, I still can’t win though.”

“Then get stronger?” Gloria shrugged. Raihan looked at her in disbelief, maybe she was as simple as he’d thought? “Strength over all else, yeah? Just use brute force, dragon types are pretty good for that…” she trailed off, becoming distracted as she started to look around for something.

“Anyways, since you want to change up your training style, we can try mine,” Gloria said as she began to wander, looking closely at the ground, “We’ll practice speed since we can’t train type advantage.”

“Yeah sure, speed. Why not?” Raihan agreed as he watched Gloria pick up various sized rocks and carefully compare them. She hummed in agreement. “Ah, just a quick question.”

“Hmm?” She hummed in response, still deliberating over the rocks she’d found. 

“Aren’t the Pokemon in this area weak? Why are we training here?” He asked. 

Gloria straightened up, a decent sized rock held firmly in her hand, “Yes, they are. On their own.” She said, a wicked gleam in her eye. Raihan felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand tall. “But as a swarm? Not so much.” Gloria flung the rock as hard as she could into the large patch of tall grass behind him and whistled. He heard the cries of many startled Pokemon, specifically the battle cries of many Perrserkers and Galarian Meowths, some of the most aggressive Galarian species,

The tall grass behind him began violently rustling. 

“Get ready to run dragon boy, let’s see how fast you and your Pokemon can deal with them!” Gloria shouted down at him, perched up on her Corviknight. When did she even get her Pokemon out?!

The tall grass behind him exploded in a fury of activity as group of twenty or so Perrserker and Meowths came barreling towards him, claws and teeth bared for a fight. Raihan turned tail and ran.

He couldn’t help but regret every life decision he’d ever made that led him to this very moment in time; running for his life from a pack of bloodthirsty Perrserker set loose on him by the Champion, all in the name of training. 

Chapter Text

BOOM

The ground exploded. Slashes, metal claws, and various other attacks blasted behind Raihan as he ran. He was dodging as best as he could, but he was only human. He had to release a Pokemon or two soon otherwise he’d be taken out by the vicious cats and that what an embarrassing death that would be, especially for the strongest gym leader. The problem was which Pokemon would stand the greatest chance against the berserker attacks of Perrserker. Before he could think further on it, a screech attack flew right at him. Raihan threw himself the left, only managing to dodge in time due to the high pitch sound of screech acting as a warning as the attack honed in on him. 

Who do I pick? It has to be a fast Pokemon… something that can take them all out at once… but who?

“Hey, Raihan, are you going to send a Pokemon out soon?” Gloria called down to him as she glided over the scene on Corviknight’s back. The knowledge that she was flying above him and completely out of danger only served to enrage him. 

“I’m trying to decide! I need one who can take them all out at once!” He yelled back. He instantly regret yelling, the action only made him more out of breathe. He was beginning to lose stamina.

“No! You’ve got to take them all out one by one not all together! Take one out while dodging multiple close range attacks! It’ll help your speed!” Gloria called back. 

One by one?! She’s got to be taking the piss!

“I will take out your Pokemon if you attempt to take care of the swarm at once! This is a training exercise, I expect you to follow it if you want to improve!” 

What the hell?! Is she serious… of course she’s serious, when does Gloria ever joke around? Almost never… shit. Who- Raihan swerved to the right, barely managing to miss a gruesome slash attack. Dammit, guess I’ve got to pick fast, “Flygon, go!”

Flygon flew from his pokeball in a flash, assuming a battling stance. Once Flygon took in the situation it was released in, it staggered a bit, “Fly-flygon?”

“Flygon! We’re attacking them one on one! Use dragon claw on the nearest Perserrker, keep attacking until it’s down! Dodge all incoming attacks!”

Flygon looked overwhelmed with its task but proceeded to follow Raihan’s orders with no hesitance, a tribute to the trust his Pokemon held in him. 

Raihan glanced up at Gloria, “Can I use weather altering moves?!”

Gloria took a while to respond, having been pondering Raihan’s request, “No,” she finally decided, “That’s giving your Pokemon an advantage. We want an even playing field so you can make full use of the speed training!”

“Even playing field?! There’s at least twenty of them and one of Flygon!” Raihan gestured desperately at the scene behind him as he continued to run from the rampaging Perrserker. Flygon had taken out its target and was now dodging attacks, the Perrserker and Meowths having now mainly focused on their new and more volatile enemy, rather than Raihan. 

“Yes, but they’re much weaker than Flygon!”

Raihan balked at Gloria’s words, “That doesn’t even things out! Flygon, Dragon Rush on the one to your left, then Bite on the one next to it!” 

It didn’t matter how many Perrserker and Meowths he and Flygon managed to take out, it seemed the Pokemon horde never diminished. In fact Raihan swore more were joining in as the horde chased him. Wait a second… new ones are joining in! He expressed this sentiment to Gloria who only scoffed in response,

“Of course, they’re drawn to movement and you’re running through the grass like a Tauros in a china shop.” She waved her hand dismissively in his direction from atop her Pokemon, leisurely keeping pace with his mad dash for his life.

“I know that! But it’s not like I can just stop running!”

Gloria peered down at him, giving him an innocently curious look, “Why not?” 

Raihan’s eyes widened at the sheer audacity of Gloria. She’s looking to kill me. That’s it- BOOM 

A hyper beam blast hit directly in front of him, the explosion of earth giving him an extra spike of adrenaline as he sprang around it, dodging debris and follow up attacks, and ran even faster and calling for Flygon to attack harder and faster. The desperation was starting to hit him. That was a trainer taught move! What idiot’s released their Perrserker here and why?!

Another hyper beam blasted through the air, striking the area a scant few feet away from where he’d just been.

I am going to die. Die with none of my goals fulfilled… At least I’m not a virgin…

 


 

Raihan lay collapsed on the ground, wheezing as he tried to catch his breathe, surrounded by knocked out Persserker and Meowths. His Flygon lay beside him, panting. 

Thump

He lifted his head at the sound, watching Gloria straighten from the crouch she’d landed in. She took out a berry, Raihan couldn’t see what kind from his position, from her bag and fed it to Corviknight, who eagerly plucked it from her fingers. She glanced at Raihan, 

“Not bad. You managed to take them all out on your first go, that’s better than my first time,” she mused. She looked around, her expression was a strange mixture of smug pride and annoyance, “Though you sure ran a lot farther then I expected you to… We’re ahead of schedule by about a day or two.” She sighed as she ran a hand through her short hair, “Oh well, guess I’ll have to refactor your athletic capabilities. Anyways, let’s set up camp, I don’t think you can go much further today.” Gloria carelessly dropped her rucksack onto the ground. “…Can’t believe he ran for five hours straight…” Raihan heard her mutter under her breathein disbelief. 

Raihan could only groan in response. He couldn’t move. Hell, he could barely breathe. He had no strength left in his body to do anything. His Flygon lying next to him looked no better, and had in fact already gone to sleep. 

“Erm… do you want me to set up your camp? You look a little out of sorts,” Gloria asked.

“…Mmhpgh-es…Yes…” he wheezed, his answer slightly muffled due to his face down prone position the ground.

Goria only nodded in response as she set about setting up camp and released her team. Silence engulfed the two as Gloria pitched the two tents and began starting a fire. Her Pokemon bustled around her, trying to help out. Raihan used the opportunity to finally catch his breath. 

“Where did you ever get the brilliant idea to train like that?” He asked, moving into a sitting position. He played on the sarcasm thick.

Gloria stopped fiddling around with the cure pot she’d begun setting up over the now roaring fire, “Oh, I got that idea years ago when I was first going to Motostoke.”

“What happened?” Raihan’s curiosity was piqued, when she was first going to Motostoke? That’d have been before the gym challenge even started! That was the opening ceremony! Arceus she must be insane…

“It’s not all that interesting…” she trailed off as she added in a hand full of berries to the curry she was stewing.

“No, go on, I’m curious.”

“…Well alright. I was on my way to Motostoke, going through the Wild Area. I’d been walking all day and it was getting pretty late but I didn’t want to stop and camp for the night, I was excited to get to the opening ceremony,” Gloria paused, a slight smile on her face as she recalled the memory, Raihan assumed. 

“Now apparently walking around in Pokemon infested areas in the dark is a bad idea.” She said. Raihan scoffed at Gloria’s words. 

She continued, “I wasn’t looking where I was going and accidentally ended up stepping on the tail of a nearby sleeping Purrloin who in turn tried to attack me. I think it was still sleepy or just confused because it missed by a long shot. It ended up hitting an Electrike though. Bloody aggressive lot they are…Then it attacked Purrloin who, I guess, blamed me. Anyways long story short I ended up being chased by a pack of angry Purrloin and Electrike and whoever else they woke up in their rage all through out the night. Luckily Pikachu, Rookiedie, and Sobble were up to fighting all night. We barely managed to beat them all but we made it. They ended up chasing us almost all the way to Motostoke,” Gloria said, giggling slightly at the memory. 

“When Hop found out he almost forced me to travel with him, he said he couldn’t believe I’d gotten into another incident so close to the beginning of our journey! Anyways, after that I noticed my Pokemon had all gotten noticeably stronger and faster, so I decided to try and incorporate swarm battling into my training. Individually calling out a Pokemon this time. Works out a lot better when you go into it knowingly! Plus its bloody fun, wouldn’t you agree?” She beamed at him. All her Pokemon called out in agreement. 

They’re all bloody insane! 

Gloria handed him a bowl of curry, “Better get your strength back, we’re starting up early tomorrow. I want to reach Bridge Field by the end of the day. …By the way, how do you feel about spiders?”

 


 

Nessa was worried. She couldn’t get a hold of Raihan all week. No matter how many times she’d called he wouldn’t pick up. At first she’d thought he was upset with her for forcing him to spend time with Gloria in order to help his crush get with his rival. But then he wasn’t answering Sonia’s calls either and that caused Nessa to begin to worry about Raihan. Still it wasn’t all that concerning, even if it was strange for Raihan not to answer. The man’s RotomPhone was practically a permanent fixture on his person. 

No, what caused Nessa to really worry was the lack of selfies posted. Raihan hadn’t posted a single photo in a week! Not one! Not even a random shot of his signature sandstorm! Her only clue was the caption on his last photo, but Raihan wouldn’t train for a week straight without posting photos of either himself or his Pokemon, so it didn’t really provided her with as much information as she would have liked. Had something happened to him? Of course not, Raihan is strong. The strongest gym leader even, he knows how to take care of himself and his Pokemon.

When Nessa presented Sonia with her thoughts, Sonia tried to further reassure Nessa, “Raihan is smart, he knows how to keep himself safe. He’s not in any danger what so ever, so don’t worry. I’m sure he’ll be back online soon enough! For all we know, his phone could have been broken int rain and is just getting repaired.”

“That’s true,” Nessa said. However her worries still wouldn’t leave her. She could sense something was wrong with her friend. 

“Don’t be paranoid, Raihan will be fine. He’s reliable, so don’t worry too much,” Sonia smiled at Nessa, placing her hand on her shoulder as if to provide reassurance to the water type gym leader. Maybe Sonia was right. Maybe she was being paranoid? Milo always did say she had a tendency of being worried about nothing, though that was in context for when he was comforting her about her modelling gigs. He’s such a sweet boyfriend… But still… No, she was worrying about nothing, Milo and Sonia were right about that. Raihan was fine, he was probably just sulking around the Hammerlocke gym or whining to Piers. Maybe both. Nessa slapped her cheeks, a habit she’d unknowingly picked up from Leon, to snap herself out of her thoughts. She had a plan to focus on.

“Right! And speaking of relying on him, he already confirmed he’d be with Gloria next weekend when Leon comes back so now we have to plan the perfect confession!”

Sonia squeaked as her face turned red.

Before Nessa could begin laying out the foundation for operation Sonia+Leon forever, a name Sonia had griped about, Sonia’s RotomPhone rang. 

Rotom zipped in front of the red head, answering itself once it had established itself in front of her face. Hop’s face showed up on the small screen, 

“Hey, Sonia! And oh, hi Nessa!” He eagerly greeted the two. 

“Hey Hop,” the two responded.

“What are you calling for?” Sonia asked.

“Ah well, you know Lee is coming back next week, yeah?” Sonia nodded, “Brilliant, I’m  throwing him a welcome back surprise party and I was hoping you’d be make it? You too, Nessa. I was going to call you later but seeing as you’re here, might as well get it over with too.” Hop was excited, he was practically vibrating on the spot at the thought of his brother finally coming home after being away for years.

“Sure, that’d be great Hop! Where and when is it?” 

“It’ll be at my house on the day he gets back. I was thinking around 5?” He answered.

“Sounds good!” Sonia gave him a thumbs up. 

Nessa piped up behind Sonia, “Who are you inviting?” 

“Oh, just the gym leaders and Piers.”

“No champion?” Nessa raised a brow. Is something going on? Trouble between the current champion and the ex champion?

“Gloria? Nah, she can’t make it then. She’s out for quite a while taking care of some important stuff for me. Raihan won’t be able to make it either,” he casually replied. Hop’s answer brought some relief to Nessa’s worries. Hop had been in contact with Raihan recently by the sound of it which meant her friend was fine. Now she could really put all her focus on the plan and this party sounded like it could be the perfect setting.

 


 

One week of training with Gloria in the Wild Area had passed. One week filled to the brim with absurd training techniques that bordered on near death experiences. Raihan was done. He was so, so close to calling it quits with Gloria’s hell on earth bootcamp. He was tried, cold, and sore all over. Not to mention his fingers kept twitching for some blasted reason. Gloria had unhelpfully suggested he might be going through phone withdrawal seeing as he’d had little to no service since they’d entered the Wild Area.

If this is what it took to be the current champion then he didn’t want it. Hell he didn’t even want to train with Gloria in the first place, he was only here on Nessa and Sonia’s behalves. He couldn’t leave now, no matter how bad it got, it’d be worth it to see Sonia smile, even if it was at Leon. Raihan could live with that. 

“Hey Raihan, you ready to go?” Gloria’s voice broke through his internal monologue. It sent involuntarily shivers down his spine. Nevermind. Was Sonia’s smile worth the amusement of the devil herself: Gloria? Raihan was starting to lean towards no. Nessa’s plan was for him to train with Gloria the weekend Leon was coming back, not join her on a four month excursion galavanting across the Galar regions untamed areas lying outside of civilization. Hell, now that he thought about it he hadn’t informed anyone other than Hop as to where he was going as per Gloria’s request. Wasn’t that the number one rule to going out exploring, always tell others where you’re going and when you’ll get back? Maybe he could call…? His fingers twitched again. 

Tch, right no service.

“Raihan?” Gloria blandly called out again. She was standing a few feet in front of him, waiting for him. He jogged to catch up with her. Once he joined her they began walking, aiming to get to the edge of the Wild Area by the next day.

Raihan sighed, no matter how much he griped he did have to admit he’d seen rapid improvement in both himself and his Pokemon. And deep down, way deep down, he knew he’d come to grudgingly respect Gloria as a trainer. Slightly. She was still insane and he wasn’t convinced she battled with strategy no matter how much she insisted she did. He was pretty sure she was such a strong trainer only because her Pokemon fought as if they were facing life or death which looking at her training regime seemed to be the case. And I’ve only been exposed to her “swarm” training! She’d refused to do anything else the entire first week, claiming that he wouldn’t benefit from only one days worth of training. He and his Pokemon had to build up stamina and strategy first before they moved on, she’d said. He hated to admit he saw her logic in that, no matter how barmy her training methods were.

A pale hand waving frantically in front of his face broke Raihan out of his musings, 

“You sure are lost in thought today. Never took you to be such a philosopher,” Gloria said with a slight smirk. In his week with her, Raihan had learned that Gloria did in fact possess a sense of humour, just an extremely dry one. 

“Shut up. I was just reliving all the trauma you put me through,” Raihan bit out. 

Gloria shrugged, “You lived though, didn’t you?”

I lived?! Bitch, barely! Sometimes he had to wonder if it really was a dry sense of humour or just well hidden cruelty. Raihan opened his mouth to retort but he was cut off by the sudden howl of the wind as it harshly began whipping past the two trainers. Both he and Gloria looked up at the dark and heavy looking clouds rolling towards them at impressive speeds.

“Uh oh…” he heard Gloria murmur. The clouds came nearer. They were practically on top of them. The howling of the wind got louder.

“Bullocks.” Was his brilliant contribution as a wall of fiercely falling snow crashed into them head on. 

Chapter Text

“You know for a guy who’s entire strategy lies in changing the weather suddenly, you sure don’t handle sudden weather change very well,” Gloria shot him an unimpressed look.

“That’s because I expect it! It doesn’t just start bloody blizzarding in the middle of 30 degree weather randomly!” Raihan sputtered, shivering from the sudden cold. Even though they’d quickly set up camp and changed into thicker clothing meant to withstand the cold, the sudden temperature drop had shocked Raihan’s core and his body was still trying and failing to adjust.

“If you spent more time in the Wild Area you’d be used to it.” She stated matter of factly. She barely seemed affected by the snow as it whipped around her.

“You and the damn Wild Area. Do you live here or something?” He bit out sarcastically.

“No...but I do spend a lot of time here so I guess it could be called my second home? I travel a lot around so I don’t know if it counts...” Gloria muttered, having missed his sarcasm. Even though the snow storm had hit them roughly fifteen minutes prior, the snow had already considerably piled up. It had already piled up to their ankles and the storm looked as if it wouldn’t be stopping any time soon. 

“Well this does put a bit of a dampener on my plans but we can make do,” Gloria said. She turned towards him, “How about a battle? One-on-one. One Pokemon each,” She was already in the process of pulling out a pokeball before he’d even had a chance to agree. 

Raihan sighed, pulling out Sandaconda’s pokeball, “Ready whenever you are. Sandaconda!” 

Sandaconda hissed as he was released. His Pokemon looked less than thrilled at the prospect of battling in the cold. He shot Raihan a withering glare, but none the less got into a battle stance. Raihan was no more thrilled by the weather then Sandaconda. He hated the cold and he hated restrictive clothing, such as the jeans he was forced into wearing lest he wanted his legs to freeze. He much preferred the comfort of shorts.

“Let’s go Pikachu!” Why does that line sound so pandering? Raihan thought.

“Pika pi!” Pikachu on the other hand looked completely unbothered, even as it was being buffeted by snow and ice.

Wait. “Pikachu? Really? Against a pure ground type?” 

“Watch. I’m going to show you my strategy in action,” Gloria said smugly. He could hear the smirk in her tone, even if he couldn’t see her very clearly with all the snow. 

“Fine. I get speed but I don’t see how you’ll get very far with move type advantage. Sorry to say Gloria but I think you’re going to lose this one!” He yelled over the howling of the wind.

“Guess we’ll see!” She called back. 

Raihan had an apprehensive feeling about this battle. What is she playing at with Pikachu? Is she serious…? It could be one of her sacrifice plays that I’ve seen her do before… No, she never pulls those out at the start of the battle. Plus we’re both only using one Pokemon, that wouldn’t make sense. Not to mention she has the advantage of type because she drew out her Pokemon second. No matter, battling defensively won’t get me anywhere, especially when I don’t know what she’s planning. Alright, let’s do this, Raihan! He pulled out his RotomPhone and snapped a quick selfie out of habit, not that you could see much other than the snowstorm raging around him. Tragic I won’t be able to post this… He unintentionally slapped his cheeks, to get his focus back.

“Sandaconda, let’s finish this quickly, start with Earth Power! Then get in close and hit Pikachu with Fire Fang!”

The second the commands were out of Raihan’s mouth Sandaconda was slithering into action. It fired Earth Power at Pikachu, the super effective attack honing in on the electric mouse. To Pikachu’s credit, it didn’t flinch as the the attack rushed towards it. Pikachu sat unmoving, eyes focused and body tense, waiting for its trainers’ command.

“Pikachu, dodge!” Gloria yelled, Pikachu jumped out of the way attack at the last moment possible, “Wait, look out for-!” But it was too late, Sandaconda had already caught up to Pikachu and was readying its Fire Fang. It bit down hard, 

“Pikaaaa!” It cried out. Pikachu shook off Sandaconda’s fangs and skittered away, it’s yellow fur slightly singed, the tell tale sign of a burn effect. 

Raihan smirked, “Don’t let up! Fire fang again!” Sandaconda leapt into action, baring its fanged maw wide open. 

“Pikachu, use quick attack to get out of the way!” Just as Sandaconda’s flaming fangs were about to close in on Pikachu, it bolted, slamming its way out of the ground snakes jaws. It’s speed enough to put out the flames. 

“Earth power again!” Sandaconda reoriented itself, and fired. 

“Dodge! And use discharge!” Pikachu jumped out of the way of the flying stones. 

“Piiiiikaaa Chuuuu!” It cried, discharging a large amount of electricity. 

The resulting light was too much for Raihan as he squinted his eyes, “Stand your ground Sandaconda! It’s won’t have any effect! Earth power again!” 

Sandaconda blinded by Pikachu’s Discharge flash bang attacked in the direction Pikachu was in last. 

“Pikachu, quick attack again!” 

“Dodge!” Raihan called out to Sandaconda. However it could only slither around in confusion, still blinded from earlier. Pikachu slammed directly into Sandaconda. Sandaconda went flying. 

“Get up! You can do it, mate!” Raihan called out as Sandaconda struggled to right itself. The snake was having difficulties moving through the snow, but thanks to Pikachu’s discharge some of the snow had melted allowing, clearing the battle field a bit, allowing Sandaconda a bit more mobility.

“Ssand…” it’s eyes held a determined gleam.

“Alright, Pikachu! Now’s our chance! Grass Knot!” Gloria called out. 

“Grass what now?!” Raihan called out from the shock. Even Sandaconda’s eyes were blown wide in disbelief. Pikachu’s an electric type! There’s no way! She has to be bluffing! Bluffing or not, Pikachu started glowing green as it began to ready the attack. What kind of bloody nonsense is this?!

He quickly recovered, “Sandaconda, dodge!” But it was too late. Grass Knot hit dead on. Sandaconda cried out from the super effective move. 

“Pikachu, Grass Knot again!”

“Not this time! Sandaconda, Earth Power again!”

The two attacks fired simultaneously, colliding in a spectacular explosion. The resulting winds physically pushed Raihan back, causing him to slide quite a ways back. He dug his feet into the snow, hoping the grip on his shoes was enough to prevent him form sliding too far back. His hope was in vain. The backs of his feet hit something hard, a large rock as it would turn out to be, and Raihan went down. Hard.

Splash

Raihan’s back hit the water first, as he fell splayed in the water. The shock of the cold water against his skin had him bolting upright into a sitting position, spitting out grimy, cold lake water. He groaned, “I can’t believe I missed the Lake of Outrage lying right behind me…” He could hear Gloria and their Pokemon run over to where he was. He saw all three’s feet (well two and and a tail?) pause at shore, but no one said a thing. He looked up and was met with the sight of Gloria, Pikachu, and Sandaconda all failing to hold back laughter as they leaned over him, sitting in the dirty, cold lake water.

“There are easier ways to forfeit, Raihan. You can save the dramatics for the telly,” Gloria snickered, not even trying to hide it anymore. Neither were Pikachu or Sandaconda by the sound of it Raihan thought as he watched the two Pokemon sprawled on the ground in laughter. Gloria stuck her hand out. “If you stay in the water any longer you’ll get sick.”

Raihan slapped her hand away, opting to stand on his own. He regret the second he stood up. The blizzard immediately assaulted his wet clothing. Raihan started making his way to his tent, quickly. However the more he walked the harder his movements seemed to become. Soon after he couldn’t even move. What the… He looked down, “Bullocks.” His clothes were frozen solid. He couldn’t move. 

“Raihan? What’s wrong, you’ll get hypothermia, hurry up,” Gloria said, as she caught up to him. 

He looked away, embarrassed, “..m s..ck… ca..t… m…v.. f….ze…n” he mumbled.

“What?” Gloria shot him a confused look.

He mumbled again.

“I can’t understand you. Speak up.”

He felt his cheeks grow hot. Raihan rumbled again, a little louder this time. 

“Raihan…” Gloria stood still, waiting. 

Arceus, why me… Raihan swallowed down his pride,

“I’m stuck. My pants are frozen solid,” He finally bit out, refusing to look in her direction.

Gloria snorted. Snorted! Before busting into a fit of laughter at Raihan’s expense once more. Tears even began to collect in her eyes. It was the first time he’d ever seen Gloria show so much emotion. He may have appreciated the moment more if it wasn’t for the extreme embarrassment and annoyance he was feeling. Not to mention the cold.

“Blimey, why didn’t you say something?” She began to usher him to his tent, wiping away her tears. He took one step forward. Just one step.

Crack.

One step was all it took for the bottom half of Raihan’s pants to shatter.

Silence reigned between Gloria and Raihan as they stared down at the pieces of frozen pants scattered like a broken jean stain glass window.

Gloria howled. 

At least he was back in shorts he though sardonically as he gazed at his now jean shorts.

Tears were streaming down her face, as she proceeded to try and blindly usher Raihan to his tent. She pushed Raihan into the side of his tent, “Hey! Watch it” He cried out indignantly. 

Gloria paid no mind to him as she let go of his shoulder in order to rub at her eyes, “Buggar.”

Raihan turned. He let loose a shit eating grin when he caught sight of her. Gloria’s tears had had frozen her eyelashes together. “Ha! Serves you right for laughing at me. What comes around goes around, eh?” He nudge Gloria. Her eyebrows scrunched downwards in what Raihan was sure was supposed to be a glare. If only she could open her eyes! 

“Hmmph!” Gloria crossed her arms, turning away from him, “This is all your fault you know. I mean, who falls into a lake mid battle?” She started to walk away.

Raihan quickly grabbed by the shoulders and spun her around, directing her towards his tent. I’d bring her to her own but it’s too bloody cold and I’m still wet…and missing half my pants…

“Just a word of advice, mate. If you’re going to angrily stomp off after a tiff, I’d suggest not heading back towards the lake that started this whole bloody mess, yeah?” He teased as he shoved her into the tent.

She harrumphed in response. Sensing they were indoors now, Gloria promptly sat on the ground, and using two fingers to grab her eyelashes, aiming to defrost them. Raihan used the opportunity to quickly change into dry clothing, not bothering to tell her to turn around as she defrosted her lashes… She was temporarily blind after all. He threw his frozen clothing into a pile in the corner of the tent. He watched with mild interest as they retained their shape, standing solid and tall. No wonder they shattered…

“When you’re done you can head back to your tent,” he told her when he saw one of her eyes finally crack open.

Gloria just looked at him, as if mulling her answer over, “No.” She said simply. 

“What.” He balked at her.

“No.” She repeated without bothering to elaborate.

“I heard you the first time. Why?” Raihan shivered, still feeling the cold in his bones. Gloria just shot him a look as if to say ‘That’s why’.

He raised a brow, “I’ll be fine. Just gonna grab a blanket and warm up. Maybe bring out a Pokemon or two.” He grabbed said blanket and began to wrap himself tight in it.

“No offence but none of your Pokemon are exactly warm, cuddly Pokemon.”

“I resent that.” He sniffed.

“Ah yes, how could I forget the warm embrace of Duraludon, the metal skyscraper Pokemon,” she deadpanned. Raihan looked away, refusing to concede to her. He heard her sigh followed by the tell tale click of a pokeball expanding. 

“What’re you doing?” Curiosity got the better of him as he turned to watch what she was up to now.

“Making sure you don’t freeze to death,” she said before releasing her Ninetails. The air warmed immediately just from the fluffy fire type fox’s presence. Her Ninetails glanced curiously at him before Gloria walked up to it, voice low as she murmured instructions to it. The Ninetails nodded once at her before it headed over to Raihan and settled down by his feet, wrapping its fluffy tails around him. Raihan instantly felt the heat, his shivers beginning to die down. 

“…Thanks…” he bit out, “You can go now, I’ll be warm.”

Gloria walked over to him, and sat down, promptly settling in next to him as Ninetails moved its tails over to make room for her, “No bloody way, I’m cold too and Ninetails is my warmest Pokemon. What? Do you expect me to go back and cuddle with Inteleon, the skinny cold blooded lizard?” 

What the… why is she acting so weird?

“Gloria! No, go away!” He childishly yelled out, as tried to squirm away from her. Ninetails’ tails held him steadfastly in place.

“No.” She pouted at him, “Now stop being a blanket hog and share,” she said as she began to pull on his blanket.

“No!” He refused to relinquish his grip.

“Raihan, you’re still cold. You need to keep warm, you’re at risk at catching hypothermia. Human contact is the best way to warm up,” she pulled the blanket further towards herself as she revealed her real motivation behind sharing a blanket with him.

“I’m fine. I like the cold. So you can leave,” he pulled the blanket back towards himself.

“Stop being such a child, Raihan!” She pulled even harder.

“No!” Raihan refused to let go of the blanket. He felt his blood begin to boil as Gloria continued to pull.

Raihan!” Gloria yanked as hard as she could, managing to pull one side of the blanket out of his grasp. She hummed in victory as she quickly slipped under the blanket, consequently cuddling up close to Raihan’s torso.

“Get off me, Gloria!” He tried to push her off, but Ninetails’ tails were wrapped too tightly around the both of them fo him to be able to create any room between the two.

“Warmth is warmth, Raihan, like me or not and you need it after falling in the lake in the middle of a blizzard,” She stated matter of factly, proceeding to huddle even closer to him., determined to share her body heat in her act to ‘keep him safe’. Raihan bristled at the contact but didn’t bother trying to push her off anymore. She was right, he grudgingly had to admit, as he sat there, leaching her body heat. Raihan decided to remain silent. It seemed Gloria was done with the conversation herself, choosing instead to press herself as close as she could to Raihan. He felt annoyance creep unto him but he tried to keep it at bay. Best to just ignore her.

Raihan didn’t know how long the two of them remained quiet and would have been content to ride the silence until the next day, pretending he wasn’t essentially cuddling with the object of his vehement dislike. However, the battle from earlier begun to run through his mind. There was one thing bothering him about the whole thing and it wasn’t that the battle remained without a victor.

“Just why and how the bloody hell does your Pikachu know Grass Knot?” He burst out.

Gloria looked up at him, “Why not?” 

Raihan felt his blood begin to boil anew. Guess she’s back to normal… Brilliant.

Chapter Text

Come the next day, Raihan felt awful and it had nothing to do with his impromptu dip in the Lake of Outrage. No, he felt bloody awful because Gloria had refused to leave his side. She had reasoned to him that she was making sure he didn’t freeze to death overnight. Raihan personally thought she’d just been too lazy to move. He would have gotten up himself if it weren’t for the death grip both Gloria and her Ninetails had on him all night. 

He’d felt tense almost the entire time. Every time he tried to ignore her presence and began to relax Gloria would pipe up with some inane question or comment, harshly reminding him that she was still wrapped around him like a Grookey on a tree. It was as if she could sense when Raihan was feeling comfortable and it was her personal mission to destroy that feeling. She succeeded every time. Blimey, this woman will be the death of me…

“-han. Oi Raihan! You going to bother helping me take down camp or just stand there taking up space like a Snorlax?” Gloria’s bland voice cut through his thoughts, startling Raihan back into awareness. 

A Snorlax?! I do not take up that much space, I would rather myself more a Sudowoodo blocking the path.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming,” he called back, “Don’t get your knickers in a twist,” he muttered under his breath. Gloria snorted, obviously having heard his comment. He threw a quick glance in her direction, but looked down immediately. He couldn’t look her in the eye after having spent the entire night basically cuddling with her. 

“I wouldn’t be getting my knickers in a twist if you’d bother with helping me out. There’s a lot of stuff and I want to leave soon. I think we’re done with this area, especially after yesterday,” she said casually, tossing Raihan his bag. He caught it and started putting away his tent. Obviously Gloria felt none of the awkward tension he felt. Or if she was feeling it then she was a phenomenal actress, besting even Opal in her prime.

With the two of them working together, they were able to tear down their camp in record time. Gloria took out her map, silently studying it and occasionally marking it. Where they were off to now, Raihan had no clue as Gloria finally decided on a direction and began to head off. She didn’t even glance back to see if Raihan was coming along or not. Raihan sighed, but followed after her figuring she’d tell him just where they were headed off to. Gloria, however, kept her peace. 

After spending an abundant amount of time with Gloria and being forced to interact and banter with her, Raihan had forgotten just how silent she could be. He decided to break the silence once he saw that Gloria had led them straight to the edge of the Wild Area and was currently staring up at the surrounding cliffside with an intense look. She’s not thinking of… no way… that’d be insane!

“Hey, Gloria…” he started but trailed off as he looked up and took in the massive cliffside in front of him.

“Hmm?”

“Just where exactly are we going?”

“Here,” she stated simply.

“You do realize this is a cliff, right? Not to mention the edge of the bloody Wild Area,” he said somewhat testily as he chanced a weary glance at Gloria. She was once again looking at her map, furiously marking something down, 

“Correction, dear Raihan, its the edge of the explored Wild Area. We are going up and exploring the unknown area,” Gloria said, her tone matter of fact, “Here, get on.”  She released her Corviknight and got on herself, extending her hand down to him. Raihan began to reach for her hand but hesitated.

If I get on there’s no going back. I can’t just turn around and leave, its the bloody unknown part of the Wild Area. We’d be there for months! The plan was to just occupy Gloria for the weekend, to keep her away from Leon for a while not go on a damn expedition! Shit… what do I do… I already agreed but I can back out… I’d be disappointing a lot of people though… Sonia and Nessa for one, as the plan will fail… and Hop and Gloria too, I’d ruin their research and have wasted Gloria’s time… Raihan was shocked to find himself actually feeling a little guilty about possibly disappointing Gloria. It’s most likely because I’d have wasted her time and she actually helped me improve with training… Still four months is a long time- And I haven’t posted anything in quite a bit too, my fans will get worried. I didn’t sign up for this… I quit.

“Are you scared of heights or something?” Gloria asked him, abruptly bringing him out of his thoughts, “You’ve been standing there just staring at my hand for a bloody long time.”

Raihan started and instinctively stepped forward and grasped her hand. He realized too late as Gloria hauled him off the ground and onto the back of her Corviknight, behind her, using his forward momentum, “Um, Gloria, waiiiiiiiiii-!”

Gloria either didn’t ear him or ignored him entirely as she kicked the sides of her Corviknight signalling it to fly up without any warning. Raihan felt himself start to fall back. Throwing his arms around Gloria’s waist, he held on for dear life as they flew straight up at ungodly speeds. He felt his stomach churn. Gloria let out a whoop of excitement. 

Fantastic, she’s a bloody adrenaline junky! was Raihan last thought before his breakfast decided it no longer wished to reside in his stomach an he hurled over the side of Corviknight. 

“Looks like there’s an unexpected chance of showers down below,” Gloria deadpanned. Raihan groaned, severely hunching over to bury his face in her shoulder, trying to feel less like death warmed over.

 


 

Hop was practically vibrating with excitement as he filled out the online catering form. Lee is finally coming back! He would plan the best welcome back party there ever was! His vibrations stopped as steady hand came down gently onto his shoulder, “Hop, calm down, you’re literally shaking.”

Hop glanced at the hands owner and grinned warmly, “Marnie, babe, I can’t! Lee is coming home in five days! He’ll have so many stories to share and I bet he’s grown so much stronger! I’d love to see a rematch between him and Gloria! He may even beat her! Er… not that I want my best friend to lose either… Gloria’s an amazing champion too! Though she has been champion for forever and is getting a bit too cocky. Well, cocky for Gloria that is. Now that I think about she was always sort of cocky, like she knew she’d never lose. But still, a match between Gloria and Lee! …Not that it matters seeing as she won’t be able to make it to the party anyways. Maybe when she gets back? Will Lee even still be here? I sure hope-“

“Babe. Stop. You’re rambling,” Marnie tightened her grip on Hop’s shoulder, interrupting her boyfriend’s endless chatter.

“Right… Sorry,” Hop chuckled, scratching the back of his neck sheepishly. 

Heavy booted footsteps resounded behind the couple. A pale hand with the nails painted black primly removed Marnie’s hand from Hop’s shoulder as Piers came to stand between the two, shooting a quick glare at Hop, “Hands off, mate.”

“Oi!” Hop bristled.

Piers just shrugged in response, letting Marnie’s hand drop, “Speaking of our champ, why won’t she be able to attend this weekend?”

“Oh, she’s out training…” Hop trailed off, reluctant to let anyone know of the research expedition Gloria was on for him without any results to show for it. 

Piers just raised a thin eyebrow at that, “And what? She can’t cut her trip a bit short to come to the party?” He grilled.

Any normal person would have caved under Piers intense tone and stare. Luckily Hop came prepared with his and Gloria’s cover story. Thank Arceus for Gloria’s well known training quirks. “Nah, she’s out on one of her intense training sessions. You the ones where she cuts herself off from civilization for extended periods of time and just lives out in the Wild Area like a hermit? Yeah, good luck getting in contact with her.”

Piers nodded, “Fair enough. How about Raihan though? I heard he wasn’t able to make it either. Mighty strange for the ex-champs rival and best friend not to show. Why isn’t he comin’ ‘round?”

Hop winced, voice cracking “Well… see… he’s training with Gloria….”

Hop needed to say no more as he watched Piers blanch, his already pale face beginning to resemble paper more than skin, “…Gods… the swarm…” Piers shivered, no doubt recalling the time he’d naively agreed to train with Gloria for a week. He lasted a day before he vowed to never train with Gloria ever again if he managed to survive the week.

“Yeah… the swarm…Let’s just pray he survives… they’re out for four months…” Hop muttered the last part. 

Piers look of horror spoke volumes, “Blimey… Let’s pray he survives…” 

“Oh, he will. Gloria will make sure of that. Just don’t know what state he’ll be returned in though,” Hop said.

Marnie looked between Hop and her brother in confusion, “What’re you guys on about? Gloria’s a sweet girl, I’m sure she an’ Raihan’ll be just fine.”

“No, you don’t understand Marnie, training with Gloria is a death wish. Raihan’ll be lucky to come back ’n one piece!” Piers clutched onto Marnie’s shoulders, “Please, promise me you’ll never agree to train with Gloria. I don’ care how close you two are, just never train with ‘er.”

Marnie shrugged off her brother’s grip, “I don’t believe it. Obviously as champion Gloria’s going to ‘ave an intense training regime. She’s got to in order to keep ‘er spot. You’re acting as if she’ll bloody murder me out there.”

“She bloody may as well what with’er style o’ trainin’,” Piers huffed, “I’ve made the mistake once and I’ll never do it again. Learn from others mistakes, Marn. You’ll live longer. I refuse to let you live through the swarm!”

“Speakin’ of, what is this damn swarm you two keep mentionin’?” Marnie asked, glancing between Hop and Piers. 

“Hell.” Was Piers’ curt answer as he began to head to the opposing wall, still lacking decorations.

Hop, however, had a more in depth answer. Marnie looked pale after Hop’s detailed explanation. “… So please Marnie, heed our warning, never train with Gloria in the Wild Area. Just… don’t?” Hop begged, grasping onto Marnie’s hand earnestly. 

“Bloody ‘ell, alright. Noted,” she squeezed Hop’s hand in reassurance, “Poor Raihan…” Marnie added as an afterthought, “Though good on you Gloria, good catch.”

“What was that?” Hop asked.

“Oh? Nothing you need to worry about,” Marnie dismissed.

Hop nodded, “Anyways, Raihan’s imminent trauma aside, what kind of cake are we thinking for Lee? I know he likes chocolate but it just seems too vanilla for a welcome home after two years party, ya know?”

“Chocolate hazelnut? Or maybe chocolate with cheri berries? A spicy chocolate would be nice!” Marnie cheerfully added.

“That’s brilliant, babe!” Hop cheered, pressing a quick kiss to Marnie’s lips. 

“Oi! Mate, hands off my little sis!” Piers angrily shouted from where he stood by the wall, tying and hanging up Leon brand balloons. They were a balloon version of the novelty Leon ball. Leon would hate them thus Hop thought they were perfect.

“Sorry, no can do, my girlfriend’s just too cute!” To emphasize his point (and antagonize Piers a bit) Hop leaned down and pecked Marnie’s lips once more.

Marnie giggled at Piers’ livid expression, “Oh buzz off Piers, a peck’s pretty tame compared to some o’ the things we’ve done!”

The only answer Marnie got was the sound of a balloon deflating in the dead silence her accidental confession had left. 

 


 

Raihan lay face down in the dirt, dry heaving. This was becoming an unfortunately familiar position for him during his time with Gloria. “Please… never do that again… Next-next time we use Flygon or j-just bloody climb the cliff our selves!” 

“Sorry,” was all Gloria said, not sounding very sorry at all, “Anyways, once you’ve caught your breath lets head on. I think I see a cave further up ahead and I want to check it out. We’ll need to gather some supplies first though, I’m not sure how large the cave is.”

“B-blimey,” Raihan breathed out as he staggered to his feet. She waited till he seemed to have gained some semblance of strength in his legs before heading off in the direction she’d spotted the cave. He shakily followed behind her. 

The entrance to the cave was dark, narrow, and not very tall. Raihan looked at it in distaste. His height dwarfed the entrance and he was not looking forwards to crouching throughout an entire cave system that was entirely anyones guess as to how large it would be. He glared at Gloria, who’s height seemed perfect for the entrance. Damn short people. Maybe it opens up inside? Not that I can see inside.

“It’s pitch black,” Raihan stated.

Gloria shot him a blank look, “Wow. You mean to tell me an unexplored cave doesn’t have lights rigged up? Blimey, call the chancellor. How on earth was he worried about a thousand years from now when the real problems are all here in this unlit cave.”

“Fine, I get it. But the problem still stands. It’s pitch black, how will we see? We need to mark which way we go and be able to look out for wild Pokemon. It’s dangerous,” Raihan said. Gloria opened her mouth to speak but Raihan cut her off first, “I swear if you say you’ll use a bloody fire type, save it. We don’t know if there are any gases in there that are flammable. One mistake and we blow ourselves up. I’ve already had too many near death experiences thanks to your training and I don’t want to add explosion to the list, thank you very much. My face is too beautiful to get blown up anyways.”

Gloria looked unimpressed, “Not what I was going to suggest.”

“Well, what was your suggestion then, oh great champion?”

“You wouldn’t happen to have any Pokemon that know how to use flash, would you?” Gloria asked, a hopeful edge to her tone. 

“Nope, can’t say I do,” Raihan said.

“Shit. Well, guess we have no choice then,” Gloria rolled up her sleeves with a determined look in her eye.

“Care to share your brilliant plan?” He asked, dreading her answer.

“Well… I remember Kabu mentioned that back in his day, when he was travelling around, he visited the Kanto region and they had a massive cave with no lights. If you were out of luck and had no Pokemon that could use flash, you’d hug the wall and keep going left. He said it worked like a charm… mostly.”

“No.” 

“Oh come on,” Gloria almost pleaded.

“We’ll get lost and die, Gloria.”

“Please?”

“No. Not until we have a light source and a way to mark our path.”

Gloria sighed, “Fine, I think I have a solution,” she dropped her rucksack onto the ground and began rummaging through it until she pulled out a fat red marker, “Here I’ll draw on the walls where we go with this and as for light…” she let out her Pikachu, “He knows Light Screen so it’ll be something. We’ll at least be able to see our feet and the wall we’re near by,” Gloria explained a little smugly, obviously proud of her solution.

Raihan took a deep breath in, Do it for Sonia, Raihan. Remember why you’re here. What you’ve set out to accomplish. It’s too late to back out now. You’ve got this. Do this for Sonia. For Sonia! 

He breathed out, “…Fine.”

“Brilliant!” Gloria’s bright smile only seemed like an omen of coming disaster to Raihan. 

Raihan slapped his cheeks, For Sonia!

Chapter Text

Raihan officially hated caves. Contrary to what Raihan hoped, the cave did not immediately open up to a greater height. He learned this the hard way when he attempted to straighten up once inside the pitch black cave, only to smack the top of his head rather hard into the rocky ceiling. Gloria, in a rare display of empathy, in Raihan’s opinion, expressed concern for him, before delving into a fit of even rarer laughter once it became clear to her that he was absolutely fine.

“How long do you think this cave goes on for?” Raihan asked, venturing a look at Gloria’s back as she mapped their way through the cave. He was in charge of dragging the red marker across the wall of the cave as they walked, marking the path they’d already been through.

Gloria gave him a deadpan look, “Do you not understand the meaning of unexplored?” 

Raihan couldn’t tell if she was begin sarcastic or not; knowing Gloria it was fifty-fifty. “I meant estimate wise. You’ve done the exploring thing before, so I figured you may have an idea.”

“Not a clue, depends on the size of the cave. Looked pretty big to me so I’d wager it’ll take us a few days…” she said, shrugging. Raihan assumed she was referring to the large mountain the cave was located in.

“A few days?” Raihan repeated incredulously. Gloria turned back to look at him and raised her brow, silently asking him if he was being serious. 

Of course it’ll take a few days, when hasn’t it. Fair enough, Gloria, I should’ve seen that coming. He decided to move on to a more relevant topic, “So, what are we looking for exactly? I mean how do we know there’s not just one entrance and exit to this place?”

“We don’t. But judging by how breezy this place has gotten occasionally and the Pokemon we’ve passed by, I’d bet on their being a few exits.” 

Raihan had to grudgingly give it to Gloria, what she lacked for in battle strategy, she made up for in survival tactics. However, there was one thing bothering Raihan ever since they’d stepped foot in the cave. For someone who claimed to be over prepared for anything the Wild Area threw at her, why didn’t Gloria have a torch?

“Hey Gloria, question, I was wondering whyyyiiiiiiiEEE,” Raihan began to scream as something brushed past his bare calf ,“-Ow!” Only to get cut off as Gloria none to kind kicked his shin. “Oi! The hell was that for!?”

“You’re being too loud, you’ll attract unwanted attention.” 

Raihan looked around, noticing a few pairs of interested eyes staring at the trio, eyes reflecting Pikachu’s continuous Light Screen.

“You couldn’t have done that in a gentler way?” Raihan bit out, voice quieter, as he nervously watched each pair of glowing eyes slowly disappear as their owners began to lose interest in the two trainers.

“No, you’re too tall, I couldn’t reach your mouth. I aimed for what was in range.” Gloria said flatly, “Does it matter? It got you to stop screaming bloody murder.”

“I was not! I-,” Raihan paused, taking in a deep breath of the musty cave air, to calm himself, “Something brushed past my leg…” he finished, a hint of embarrassment in his voice.

Gloria looked down at his leg and snorted, “I think I might have a clue,” pointing at a small boulder just behind him. Raihan turned and intently watched the boulder. For a few moments, nothing happened. Just as he was about to turn back around and scold Gloria for trying to pull one over him, a small purple imp like creature with jewelled eyes, shyly emerged from behind the rock.

“Sableye…? Sab?” The Pokemon called out, its clawed fingers gripping the boulder it hid behind. The Sableye slowly crept out from it’s hiding spot, but didn’t further approach the trio, choosing instead to watch them carefully, setting its gleaming gaze firmly on Raihan.

Raihan gave it a disgusted and fearful look, “Ew, it’s so…”

“-Cute!” 

“-Creepy…” Raihan and Gloria shot each other a look.

“How can you think it’s creepy? Look at it. It’s adorable.” Gloria exclaimed flatly. Seriously, how in the hell does she do that? 

“It looks like a bedazzled Impidimp.”

“What’s wrong with Impidimps?” Gloria asked, indignation coloured her tone. 

Right, I forgot about Gloria’s Grimmsnarl…

“Literally so many things. Do you not read the Pokedex entries before you catch anything? It feeds off negative energy,” Raihan pointed out, his mouth running before he could stop himself. Looks like Hop isn’t the only one with no filter.

Gloria’s face bore a hurt expression. She huffed and sent a glare his way, “Surprised you don’t have one. You’d think they’d flock to you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?!” Raihan bit out as his voice began to rise again. The forgotten Sableye shrunk behind the boulder once again at Raihan’s tone. However, its gaze never left Raihan’s form.

“You’ve been nothing but negative since the moment we started this journey,” Gloria started off, her hands coming to rest on her hips, “Even before we set off, it’s not like you tried to hide your animosity!”

Raihan could only stare at her in response. He hadn’t known she’d been genuinely hurt by his words and attitude, hell he figured she felt the same way about him judging by her all her retorts. It wasn’t like she had gone out of her way in the past to reach out to him. Whenever there was an event that required both of their presences, all she would do in regards to him was occasionally stare at him from afar. Silently challenging him, mocking him. She’d prove it too, when she proceeded to mop the floor with him in the battles he started after accepting her silent challenges. 

Gloria continued before Raihan could scrounge together a response, “You don’t have to like me but at least show some common decency. Especially when we’re stuck here together! You’re the one who asked to come, not me.”

Shame unexpectedly filled him as her words hit home. He craned his neck down to look into Gloria’s face. Her eyes boldly met his own. Here she was again, challenging him, but not to a Pokemon battle this time. Raihan gulped, swallowing down his pride, “…You’re right. I have been unfair and I… I’m sorry.”

A stunned silence met his words. 

Raihan continued, “I’ve just been under a lot of stress. I didn’t know what I signed up for when I asked you for training…but that’s not an excuse as to how I’ve been treating you. And it’s not that I dislike you personally…” Gloria shot him a disbelieving look, “I just dislike what you are. Who you are and represent.”

What. What does that even mean? That… You just said you don’t dislike me and then followed up with you dislike the entirety of me?”

“Well yes but no-” Raihan’s words were abrupt cut off as both he and Gloria were suddenly plunged into darkness, Pikachu’s Light Screen having run out.

“…Pika…chu,” it said. Raihan assumed it was an apology, judging by Gloria’s soft reassurances aimed towards the burned out electric mouse. 

“Hey, Raihan, help me find some Elixir in my bag,” Gloria said stiffly. Raihan heard her drop the rucksack on the ground and unzip it before the sounds of items being pushed around began. He bent down and reached his arms out in the direction of the rummaging sounds. His hands finally met the rough material of her bag, and with that he too, began to rummage. 

Gloria had evidently packed many, many, many things. Arceus, this is going to take forever… not this, not this, town map?… Just how large is her bag anyways?  Berry, berry, berry, Pokedex… wait. Pokedex? Damn it, of course! Technology! I’ve been so out of touch, how could I have forgotten! Dropping the aforementioned Pokedex back into the depths of Gloria’s bottomless bag, Raihan pulled out his phone instead, almost dropping it in his haste. The feeling of it in his hands felt like home. He turned it on and the faint glow of the home screen, a selfie of him post his first defeat at the hands of Leon, washed over him, Gloria and her Pikachu, and most importantly, over the contents of the bag. A long black cylinder reflecting the light of the screen caught Raihan’s eye. Pulling it out, Raihan let out a disbelieving laugh as he examined the object. Oh you have got to be kidding me! Raihan absentmindedly stuffed his phone back in his back pocket. 

“…Gloria… are you telling me you had a torch the entire time?” He asked, an accusatory edge to his voice. Gloria looked at him in alarm.

“Wait, Raihan, put the torch back. It’s not a good idea.” Gloria started to say, reaching her hand out to grab the torch from Raihan’s hand before he managed to turn it on. 

“Why the bloody hell not?”

“Raihan-”

Click

“-don’t!” A brilliant beam of light cut through the darkness of the cave illuminating its depths. Unfortunately it also harshly lit up the surrounding resident Pokemon. None of whom appeared to be very pleased with being disturbed. The resounding screeches of startled Pokemon filled the cave tunnel, the harsh light of the torch unexpectedly assaulting the resident cave Pokemon. The aggravated flock of Pokemon began to panic, and blindly began charging towards the direction of the light. Raihan’s grip on the torch tightened.

Shit, we’re in for it now.

The ground rumbled as the sound of furiously beating wings and angry footfalls began to quickly approach the two trainers.

Gloria quickly scooped up Pikachu, “Run!” And grabbed Raihan’s sleeve and began sprinting through the cave, with no regard for which direction they were going in. The two ran twisting down every which turn, trying to avoid the horde of disoriented and angry Pokemon chasing them through the cavernous tunnels. 

“Raihan, turn off the torch!” Gloria called back, the beam of light still bouncing in front of them as they ran, reflecting off the jagged walls and disturbing more and more Pokemon. She led them through as many twists and turns as she could, slowly but surely managing to temporarily throw off most of the horde of unknown Pokemon running rampant after them.

“Why would I do that?! We won’t be able to see where we’re going!”

“If they don’t stop chasing us we won’t be able to go anywhere!

“Why don’t we just fight them? We have Pokemon! You’re the bloody champion for Arceus’ sake!”

“We don’t even know which Pokemon are after us! Let alone how many! Just turn off the damn torch!”

“R-right!” Raihan conceded, struggling to turn off the torch with his one free hand, Gloria still keeping a tight grip on his sleeve. After a few failed attempts Raihan finally managed to extinguish the torch’s light, plunging the two into complete darkness. We didn’t think this through much did we? Ran through Raihan’s mind as Gloria accidentally ran them directly into a wall. 

“Ow, Gloria, slow down we can’t see!” Raihan exclaimed. Using his superior height and strength to pull Gloria to a standstill. Gloria struggled against him before eventually relenting. “Listen, they’re gone. I think we lost most of them and the rest quit when the light went away. We must’ve really bothered their eyes with the sudden light.”

Raihan heard Gloria huff, “Of course they were hurt by the light. They live in the bloody dark. There’s a reason I didn’t pull out the torch.”

“Right. Sorry, I, uh, should’ve trusted your word.”

“That seems to be a common issue on this trip.”

“Sorry.” Raihan said, though even he thought he didn’t sound very sorry, “… now what?”

Gloria let out a sigh, “You still have your phone?”

“Of course, what kind of question is that? Do you even know me?” Raihan asked, pulling out his RotomPhone. He turned on the screen and the faint blue light of the home screen washed over them and their surroundings. Raihan took a look at the both sides of the cave, noticing with dread that none of the walls bared the red marker lines they’d been using to track their path.

“…Uh… Gloria, you wouldn’t happen to have an escape rope would you?” Raihan ventured.

“Escape ropes only work in caves that are known, the exits and entrances have to be registered. Why would you…” Gloria trailed off as, she too, took notice of the fact that they were lost in the maze like tunnel system of the cave, “Oh. Right… Well, I’ll be honest, this is not the worst situation I’ve been in. We have half a drawn map, somewhere there are markings of where we’ve been and we have food and camping equipment. We’ll be fine.”

“I think your definition of fine is vastly different than mine.” Raihan huffed.

“When I have ever been wrong on this trip?”

Raihan shot Gloria a incredulous look, memories of the past few weeks racing through his mind’s eye, “..I’m not even going to bother answering that.” While she may never have been wrong on the trip technically, there were many things she did that Raihan wouldn’t have considered correct either.

“So what’s the plan, oh fearless leader?”

“We’ll just pick a direction to follow and just go with it. We’ll make it out eventually. I reckon we may even find our way back to our original path,” Gloria stated, confidence oozing from her voice. 

If it was anyone but Raihan with her they may have been convinced into trusting her frankly stupid plan. However it wasn’t as if Raihan had much of a choice. Not to mention I’d be going back on my apology to her if I continue to question and belittle her every choice, no matter how insane it is…

Letting out a little sigh, Raihan looked Gloria in the eyes and said, “Alright. Let’s do it. Which direction are we going?”

Raihan watched in amusement as Gloria’s eyes widened in surprise, “You’re agreeing with me just like that? No snarky comments? Nothing?”

“Well, what other options do we have? Stay in the cave till we bloody die? Thanks but no thanks.”

Gloria still looked slightly bewildered but with a slight shake of her head, she regathered her bearings quickly, “Right. Let’s go… left?”

Raihan hummed in approval, “They do always say to get out of a maze just turn left… Well, off we go then.”

Gloria nodded and begun to set off in the stated direction, Raihan following close behind. 

“Oh!” Unfortunately Gloria only took about three steps before she stopped abruptly, Raihan crashing into her back, almost bowling her over.

“Gloria! What the hell?! Why-”

“Raihan,” Gloria turned towards him, “Look.” She grabbed the RotomPhone out of Raihan’s hand, and shined the dull light onto a nearby boulder. 

“What are you bloody on about…” Raihan began but trailed off as a familiar purple bejewelled creature slowly emerged from behind the boulder. “Is that the same…?”

“I think so. I think she followed us or more specifically, you.”

“Why would it have followed me?” Raihan looked between the familiar Sableye and Gloria.

“She obviously took a liking to you earlier, that’s why she was hanging around your leg. Looks like you have a little admirer.” Gloria stated flatly. Though Raihan couldn’t see her face currently, he could still hear the stiffness in her tone. Bugger, is she still mad at me? Right, well, I’ll deal with that later… Now’s not really the time.

“I doubt it.”

“I can prove it. Watch. Hey there, Sableye,’ Gloria softly addressed the jewel eyed Pokemon, crouching down until she was roughly at eye height with the Sableye. The purple Pokemon shrunk back behind the boulder, only one blue jewel eye stared at the two trainers now.

“See? She doesn’t like me. You try.”

“I doubt it’d respond to me, Gloria.”

Gloria still crouched down on the ground, only turned her head a little to throw him a glare.

“What about Pikachu? Can it ask?”

He can try, but I doubt it,” Gloria looked at the exhausted electric mouse Pokemon, “Hey buddy, can you try asking that Sableye for help?”

“Pi…” Pikachu nodded at Gloria before he turned his attention to the wild Pokemon, “Pikachu, pika pika pi.”

The wild Sableye only whimpered in response, not moving from its hiding spot. Pikachu’s expression seemed to say Well, I tried. Both Pikachu and Gloria turned to looked pointedly at Raihan.

“Fine, fine!” Raihan threw his hands up, exasperated. The Sableye shrunk back a bit more at the movement but remained in sight, watching Raihan curiously, “Hey, you.”

The Sableye perked up a bit, “Sab?” It crept forward slightly, two of its eyes now visible from behind its boulder. 

Gloria shot him a look silently stating I told you so. She whispered, “Ask her if she can help us find an exit.”

“You live here right?” Raihan addressed the wild Pokemon.

The Sableye nodded in the affirmative.

“Right then. Can you help us find the way out then?”

“Sab, sableye!” Sableye answered, nodding its head rapidly. It’s bright bejewelled eyes shone in excitement. 

“Brilliant! Lead the way,” Raihan said. Gloria gave him a smug look as the pair of trainers and exhausted Pokemon began to follow the wild Pokemon deeper into the tunnels, “You better be right about this Gloria, otherwise this Pokemon may just lead us further astray.”

“Have faith Raihan, everything will be just fine.” 

Raihan only sighed in response. If only Raihan had learned to expect by now that with Gloria, nothing would ever be fine.