Warnings: obligatory satoshi crossdressing episode. oh dear.
Notes: Rough version, so there may be some grammatical errors. A cleaned up version will be posted on FFNet if this is positively received. This is set some time in the future after the Tripokalon shown in the New Year's Special has taken place, and assumes that Serena lost that Tripokalon as well as received the feedback from Yashio that features prominently in the first part of this fic.
Summary: Obligatory Satoshi crossdressing episode involves him entering a Tripokalon. Also there's character development for Serena involved probably.
Part 1 - Determination
What on earth did that woman mean? That Yashio…she claimed to be the one who’d scouted out Elle in the first place, had been apparently watching Serena’s own performances out of interest. But despite all her successes, all her victories and all the effort she’d put into her journey, she was still lacking something important. Her most recent loss was only evidence of that: she and all three of her Pokémon had put in everything that they had into their most recent performance, and they’d still lost.
But what could it be? What was it that she lacked? How could she even go about figuring it out? There didn’t seem to be any clues as to where she could begin. Serena hadn’t felt so disheartened since back when she’d been aimless in her journey, stagnating in place while watching everyone else pursue their goals and dreams ahead of her. The part of her that felt helpless in the face of such daunting lack of direction…it balked at what seemed to be a question with no answer.
Not that she was giving up! She knew better than that now, after all that she had experienced and learned from Satoshi and the others during their travels. But it felt strange and disheartening to be so…clueless. It felt too much like her old self, and she wondered if she really was relapsing back to the aimless person her mother accused her of being such a long time ago. No, no, that wasn’t it! She wasn’t going to give up on this, either! But how to go about doing it…
Stuck in this loop-like train of thought, Serena was unable to see the worried expressions on her Pokémon, nor the glances exchanged between her travelling companions.
Satoshi gritted his teeth as Serena yet again ignored everyone’s inquires about her state of mind. Even pointing out that there was a Tripokalon happening in the town they were now in did little to garner her attention at first. When the information finally did sink in, Serena had gone into a depression, apparently unable to think of a new performance.
“Pikachu…what should we do?”
“Pikapi…” His partner was just as clueless as Satoshi himself felt right now. Still, that wasn’t a reason to give up!
“Even if we don’t know, Pikachu, we gotta do something,” he muttered to the rodent, who narrowed his eyes and nodded. “We’ll find some way to get Serena back into performing, and get that last key. She’s too close to her dream to give up now!” Of course, he’d already told her that a few times. Reminding each other to never give up had become something of a running dialogue between them during their journey, he’d noticed. But now, those words couldn’t reach her, and Satoshi wondered just how he could deliver that message to her once more.
He and Pikachu were so caught up in talking with each other that they didn’t notice Tairenar disappearing into the hustle and bustle of the busy Pokémon Center they were staying at. (In fact, none of the travelling group did, so absorbed were they in Serena’s dilemma, so Satoshi’s and Pikachu’s absence of mind could be excused.) It wasn’t until the bipedal fox Pokémon was tugging at his jacket that he blinked and looked down, shocked out of his reverie.
“Ta-reh! Naiii!”It tugged at his jacket again with one paw, pointing with the other into the crowds.
“Huh? Follow you?” At the confirming nod from Serena’s Pokémon, he followed without further question…at least until they’d turned down into an empty hallway. “Tairenar, what is it?”
Tairenar yipped and pointed at one of the closed doors, which opened as the three of them all turned to look. In the doorway was a familiar-looking woman with pink hair tied back into pigtails, face framed with square glasses and a white hat. It took him a few moments to think of a name to place her.
“You’re…the one who did that double battle with Serena…” If there was anything Satoshi never forgot, it was a battle. Remembering that, especially with how Fokko had evolved into Tairenar at its climax, was what helped him pin down a name. “Elle…Elena-san, right?
Satoshi being, well, Satoshi, didn’t notice the slight twitch at his first attempt at remembering “Elena’s” name. The large smile and wave that she answered with, however, completely got his attention.
“That’s right! I thought I recognized you from somewhere, but saying Serena’s name confirmed it! You’re one of her travelling friends, right?”
“Yeah! I’m Satoshi, and this is my partner, Pikachu.” Gesturing to the mouse on his shoulder was a matter of course, as well as the “Pi-Pikachu!” that came after that. “Thanks for before, by the way…”
“Huh? Thanks? For what?” The Performer pointed at herself cutely, which Satoshi responded with his own grin in return.
“Well, Serena was really down before she ran into you, but she definitely cheered up by the time you two came back together! She was ready to reconcile with Fokko and Yancham by then too, so you must have helped some, right? And that battle you two had…it was really amazing! Even if it did get interrupted…” He scratched at the back of his head awkwardly, before an idea seemed to strike him.
“Actually…Elena-san, do you mind talking with her again? I think she could really use it…” The woman’s pensive expression made him cut himself off, wondering if he was being too forward or something.
“No, I don’t think I’m what she needs right now…rather, I don’t think my words would help this time around. There’s only so many times you can repeat a performance before it loses its charm, you know…”
“Huh?” Both the confusing wording and the refusal of his plea threw Satoshi off, and he wasn’t sure whether to feel indignant or perplexed. Before he could sort it out, however, she had already leaned in closer, as if looking him over for something.
“Actually, I noticed you guys and got Tairenar to bring you over here for something like that…see, I think Serena will be more likely to cheer up if it came from you. You’re her friend, right?”
“Of course we’re friends!” Pikachu chimed in with indignant cries of his own before Satoshi grew thoughtful. “But…she hasn’t been hearing what we’ve been trying to tell her…”
“Oh? And what’s that?” “Elena-san” tilted her head as Satoshi gathered his thoughts.
“That’s…she’s always reminded me about what I really need to know to get past whatever problem I’m having. When I get stuck on something, she knows the right thing to say somehow…I want to return the favor. To remind her about the same thing that she reminded me…that is…our determination. Our will to never give up, until the very end! That’s how we’ve gotten through our journey so far, and it’s how we’ll continue to build our future! That’s what I wanna tell her!” As he spoke, Satoshi’s voice grew firmer and more determined, and “Elena-san” watched him as his fingers clenched into fists, his face changing from uncertainty to unyielding resolve. He didn’t even notice her watching him until she giggled and nodded.
“Yep, you’ll do! You’ve got what it takes! I’ll help you tell her those things!”
Caught off guard, Satoshi could only stammer until a joyful yip from Tairenar brought him back down to earth.
“R-really? Alright!” He bounced on the balls of his feet and pumped his fists, before looking back up at her with a confused expression. “Although…how do you plan on helping, Elena-san?”
The wink and grin from Elena-san brought on a sense of dread rather than relief, for some reason.
“Well, Satoshi-kun…how much do you really know about Pokémon Performing?”
The questions from the others were getting to be too much for Serena’s frazzled nerves. It wasn’t enough that she had to puzzle over Yashio’s words, but dealing with the sibling duo’s questions about why she wasn’t going to perform in this town’s Tripokalon, or why she was feeling down, or how could they help her…she appreciated their consideration, really, but she just wanted some time alone to think. At least Satoshi had left for training some time before…knowing him, that was probably just his own battle-happy self seeking out any chance to train, but a small part of her liked to think he did it out of consideration for her, just somehow knowing that she wanted some time to herself. He seemed to know what to do to cheer her up at vital times, anyway. Then again, that was also Satoshi being himself, so who knew…
Walking together with her Pokémon along the streets was relaxing for a time, but also a little lonely. At the same time, however, she wasn’t really sure if she wanted to talk to anyone, either…A quick look at her handheld showed that there was a small beach at the edge of the town-not large enough to really attract a great amount of tourists, but enough that there would be some nice scenery…and a walk on the beach was always picturesque. Thinking about that, she didn’t notice Tairenar’s nervous expression on hearing where she’d decided to go.
The beach was empty, as she’d expected. Watching the waves crash relentlessly towards the shore, lapping at the sand with an easy steadiness like a heartbeat…it really was soothing. Did she really think her journey would be just as predictable and steady as the waves moving in and out with the tide? Once she’d earned that first Princess Key, and the second one right after, it felt like she’d finally found her pace. Had she become complacent?
No. Her travels had never been smooth, had they? From that initial disappointment of Satoshi not recognizing her right off the bat, to watching everyone else move on ahead of her with their goals and dreams, to struggling just to keep pace with others in the Performing field…and now she had come to this dilemma. There was always some other hurdle to jump over, right? So why was this one so difficult? What was she lacking?
“Okay, Pikachu, Fiarrow! Let’s try this again!”
The sudden voice coming out of nowhere completely shattered her thoughts. That passion, that energy…
Was that Satoshi? Had she stumbled upon where he’d chosen to train? Looking around, she saw that a rock formation of sorts had cut off a small portion of the beach to form a small enclave that perfectly nestled whoever was there from view. It would have been a perfect place to train without disturbing anyone. She should leave him alone…but in the end, she couldn’t stop herself from being drawn to him, like a flower turning towards the sun.
A loud boom and black smoke billowing from behind the rock formation signified a large explosion, and both she and her three Pokémon panicked at the sight. They all ran up to the very edges of the formation, peeking around with worried expressions.
“S…Satoshi?!” Coughing was her answer as the creators of the explosion tried to wave the smoke off.
“Ah, geez…” More coughing heralded the clearing of the smoke, and Serena started forward.
She was greeted with the sight of someone with tanned skin and brown eyes waving away the rest of the smoke. They turned to her, and both people flushed red in embarrassment when they recognized the other staring at them.
The voice was higher and squeakier than she imagined. She blinked and looked again.
Tanned skin and brown eyes were a familiar sight, but the black hair was admittedly a puzzle. It looked like it couldn’t decide just what style it was-the hair on this person’s head was somewhat spiked and wild despite the curls that threatened to keep it flat, but the rest of the hair that was tied back into a ponytail with a large blue ribbon was elegantly curled, resting on the person’s shoulders with bounciness and volume that many girls would kill for. They wore a white, frilled blouse that was accessorized with a red bow at the shirt’s collar. A comparatively simple blue vest and black capris to complete the look, along with a pair of white sneakers and blue wrist cuffs made for a classy, yet still casually practical outfit; and the whole thing was topped off with a pair of round glasses somewhat reminiscent of Citron’s that sat neatly on the person’s nose.
Whoever that person was, that was definitely not Satoshi’s normal clothing. But, they’d said her name…
“U…Um…I’m sorry, do I know you?”
“Eh?! N-no, that is…I, uh…”
Serena blinked in confusion: this person’s rather forward manner of address was at odds with how they were dressed. The person apparently realized this, as they flushed red, and their arms flailed about for a few seconds to an almost comical degree.
“I-I’ve seen your performances on the PokéVision! Yeah, that’s it! Ehaha!” The person-a girl?-scratched the bridge of their nose. “Y-you could call me a big fan!”
“Oh, is that it?” Serena sighed, embarrassed for making a fool out of herself. Assuming things so quickly… “Sorry, I thought you were someone else…”
“No problem!” The girl’s cheery optimism was dangerously infectious, and Serena found herself half-smiling at how quickly she’d brushed it off. “I get that a lot…I guess I just have that kinda face, huh, Serena?”
“I…I guess so…” Her Pokémon all tittered with laughter behind her, and she flushed a little again. “Geez, you guys…anyways, who are you?”
“Oh, us? I’m, ah…” Serena assumed that her sudden question must have caught the other girl off guard, otherwise, why else would she flush red like that at such a simple question?
“I’m, uh, Satori! And these are my partners, Pikachu-“ the aforementioned Pikachu chirruped at her at what felt like a familiar fashion, “-and Fiarrow!” The large bird waved a wing at her in a salute, and Serena and her Pokémon waved back. “Sorry if we, uh, bothered you or something…”
“No, it’s no problem…” Serena tilted her head as Satori beamed back at her, the wide, toothy grin comfortingly familiar. “But…what were you doing?”
“Oh!” Satori gestured widely to her two Pokémon. “We’re practicing for this town’s Tripokalon! Although…” She scratched the back of her head awkwardly. “…we kinda still have a lotta kinks to work out…”
“You’re telling me…” Explosions were standard fare for Tripokalon performances, but there was a decided difference between what would get the audience excited and…the mess Satori had just made. She’d barely just finished sighing when she found Satori staring at her intently, looking at her with an excitement that was threatening to spill over. “Um…Satori?”
“Ne, Serena, are you performing in this Tripokalon, too?”
“Euh…” Why was it harder to give the answer out this time? “No, I’m sorry…” She guiltily watched Satori and her Pokémon deflate.
“Aww,” she moaned. “It woulda been fun to compete against you…”
“S…sorry,” Serena apologized again, not really sure what else to say.
“Nah, don’t apologize!” Again, the girl waved off the disappointment with her unfailing optimism, and Serena again found herself being emboldened by the easy acceptance. This sort of infectious energy…it really was like him, wasn’t it? “Anyways, since you’re here, maybe you’ll give me some pointers on my performance instead? I bet you’d definitely have some good tips for me!”
“Um? I don’t think I’d be able to give that kinda advice already…” She’d only competed in, like…what. Five Tripokalons? And she’d lost half of them. Not exactly a long list of accomplishments, there…
“Aw, it couldn’t hurt, right? Seriously, I could use all the hints I can get, and your performances are always so amazing! Watching them always gets me so pumped up! I voted for you every time, you know?”
“A…ah…thanks…” Serena blushed lightly, before frowning. “Wait….you said you saw my performances on the PokéVision, so how did you vote…?”
“I…uh…” Again, Satori flailed her arms about in a panic. “What I meant to say was that if I could have been there, I’d have voted for you each time…watching them, it’s like I’m seeing your performances up close, you know? Like I was actually there! They’re that fun to watch, Serena!”
“R-really?!” There was no helping Serena now, her face turning completely bright red only signified that.
“Yeah! So, I’d be really happy if you’d help us out…we all would! Right, guys?”
Satori’s Pokémon-and to her surprise, Serena’s Pokémon as well-all let out affirmative cheers.
“Y…you guys…” Tairenar and Yancham pulled at her jacket, and Nymphia wrapped a ribbon around her arm in a show of support. All of them were eager to practice, all of them wanted to see her moving and performing again.
How could she deny them?
“Okay!” She winked and grinned. “Leave it to me, Satori! I’ll help you out!”
The enthusiastic cheers from Satori and all of the Pokémon did more to lighten her spirits than she expected.
Satori’s enthusiasm proved to be unending, which was honestly the one good thing Serena could say about the state of her…”performance.” Sure, Satori’s Pokémon had a surprising amount of grace: Pikachu had a limber step and could dance and dodge about the field as well as any speedy Electric type could, and Fiarrow twirled and spun about in the air like a graceful ballerina. But Satori herself…
“You…you really don’t have a good sense of rhythm, do you…”
“Ehaha…” Satori sat up from where she’d fallen to the ground for the umpteenth time, shaking sand out of her hair. “Not really, no…but I’m not gonna let that stop me!”
“R…right. Uh…how long have you been practicing for this, anyway?” She found it hard to believe that anyone could have been practicing seriously for so long and still be unable to coordinate themselves at all. Her confidence wasn’t helped when Satori huffed in pride and stood up, hands on her hips in a distressingly familiar manner.
“Since this morning!”
The dumbfounded silence wasn’t broken for almost half a minute.
“Th…this morning?! And you want to enter a Tripokalon tomorrow?!”
“Yep! We’ll definitely get this routine down by tomorrow, right guys?” The cheers from Satori’s Pokémon did nothing to soothe Serena’s apprehensions. She wasn’t sure whether to feel insulted that Satori wanted to accomplish in one day that took her weeks (and others likely months or years) to achieve; or charmed by such incredulous optimism.
“Th…that’s…” Serena didn’t want to tell the other girl that such a thing was impossible, but the word was right there on the tip of her tongue. What would even posses Satori to do something so…impulsive? She wanted to ask why, but instead a different question came to her lips.
“Er…if it’s not rude to ask, Satori, what exactly do you guys normally do, if you’re…not familiar with Tripokalons?” Satori didn’t seem to notice any hesitation in Serena’s words, as she responded without any of her own.
“Oh, I’m a Pokémon Trainer! These guys and I are aiming for the Kalos League together!” She gestured widely to her two Pokémon, which saluted back with cries of affirmation. “But for now, we’re gaining experience here at this Tripokalon! It’ll be fun!”
If Satori thought that losing horribly was fun, Serena wasn’t sure what that said about her career as a Trainer. But in the face of Satori’s unflagging excitement, she found it hard to say such a thing. Instead, she sighed, thought of another way to approach the hopeless situation.
“If you and your Pokémon are trained more for battles, maybe you should stick with doing that kind of stuff…”
Satori frowned and crossed her arms, and Serena flinched. Immediately she regretted her words, something so against what she’d learned from Satoshi and the others during her travels. She shouldn’t have said something so disparaging, and opened her mouth to apologize, but she was quickly cut off by Satori slamming a fist into her open palm in a triumphant gesture.
“That’s it! How could I have forgotten? Thanks for reminding me, Serena!”
“H-huh?” But already, Satori was turning to her Pokémon, pointing enthusiastically at the electric mouse.
“Pikachu, battle me!”
“Huh?!” Serena’s cry of shock was overridden by Pikachu’s agreement, mirroring his Trainer’s expression almost exactly. She and the other four Pokémon could only watch as Satori and Pikachu ran further down the beach, facing each other on opposite ends of an imagined battlefield.
“Okay, start! Pikachu, Thunderbolt!” The mouse nodded and charged up a powerful electric shock without hesitation, sending it straight towards the Trainer-turned-Performer.
“S-Satori!” What was she thinking?! With her clumsy movements before, Serena couldn’t think of any way Satori could avoid getting hurt, never mind getting anything useful out of this absurd exercise.
And then Satori spun directly out of the attack’s range, dodging the Thunderbolt with a grace and preciseness that cut Serena’s protestations short in surprise. The movement was completely unlike the clumsy steps Satori had shown before when trying to go through a standard dance routine: it was sharp, decisive, and almost like Pikachu’s dynamic motions itself.
“That’s it, Pikachu! Keep going, aim for my feet!”
Serena and the Pokémon watched in amazement as Satori leapt cleanly over the first Thunderbolt and hopped around others, a dance-skipping kind of step that mirrored Pikachu’s movements almost exactly. The display was almost hypnotizing to watch, with the electricity dancing around Satori’s body, her arms bending just so to avoid the sparks flying through the air and the lightning flashing across her face. It only ended when she predicted the next attack wrong and was hit straight on with ten thousand volts of electricity, completely toasting her and ending the surprise performance.
“Augh…” Satori shook off the soot with a rapidity that was surprising considering the intensity of the attack, and immediately turned towards her still-captive audience, waving both hands in the air to get their attention. “Oiii! Serena, everyone! How was that?”
“W…well…it wasn’t exactly dancing, but…” For all of the surprising grace and fluidity of Satori’s movements, it really wasn’t a dance in the strict sense of the word. The movements were unpredictable and bold, more tumbling around and rough than a dance. It really was just Satori throwing herself around a battlefield. But…even if it wasn’t a dance, it was still something surprisingly fun to watch, and it could work as a performance. It was definitely a better option than the clumsy attempts before.
“It looked really nice, Satori,” Serena finally decided. “I think you might have something here…”
Her compliments were cut off as Satori pumped her arms and cheered alongside Pikachu!
“Yes! I knew it! Thanks so much, Serena!” The boldfaced gratitude got her blushing lightly again (gee, she’d been doing it a lot today, hadn’t she?) and she waved her hands in front of her in a deflecting sort of gesture.
“H…huh? I didn’t do anything…”
“What are you saying? You gave me the idea!”
“How?!” All she did was discourage Satori from trying…didn’t she? Serena watched as Satori picked up Pikachu and grinned at her, a blindingly warm smile that made her skin warm and her heart race. It was so genuine and open and happy, full of confidence and pride…none of the things she felt at the moment. But looking at that smile…she could almost feel that same infectious energy leaking into her despite her current problems.
“You said it, didn’t you? I shouldn’t force myself into a style that doesn’t suit me!”
How did she get that from “don’t perform, stick to battling”?!
“See, a really good friend of mine told me once…my Pokémon and I, we have our own sense of rhythm! That was back when I was struggling with trying to find a new strategy for a match…and it really wasn’t working for me, honestly. But those words…they reminded me what I really need to do when I battle! I gotta trust in myself and my Pokémon…that’s how we always fight! We tackle all our problems head on, and we work together to make our own rhythm! That’s how we’ve always fought!”
“Finding your own rhythm…” Serena wondered at how Satori could say such things so confidently.
“Uh-huh! So I figured, if the rhythm of a performance doesn’t suit us, I’ll make it into a battle rhythm!” She nodded her head confidently, ignoring how Serena sweated nervously at such words. A battle rhythm? What sort of strange logic was this?
“Right! We’ll perform our own way, and get the audience super pumped up, just like we do during battles!” Satori’s whole body seemed to vibrate as she clenched her fists close to her face, her eyes scrunched closed. “Oooh, I’m so excited now! This is just like working on a new strategy! Alright!” She jumped suddenly, the action exploding forward like a firework as she threw her hands up in an excided dual fistpump, forcing her Pikachu to hop onto her shoulder to prevent from being abruptly dropped. “Pikachu, Fiarrow, we’re gonna make this work!”
Watching the two Pokémon cheer on their even more motivated Trainer finally brought a hesitant smile on her face, but it was gone quickly when Satori immediately drew closer.
“Thanks a lot, Serena! We’ll definitely win with this! You’ll come watch us, right?”
“Well, you said you weren’t gonna perform this time…it’s kinda disappointing that we won’t get to compete against you, but you can at least come watch, right?”
“W…well…” Serena fiddled with her fingers anxiously. “I don’t know…”
“Aww, it’ll be fun! Right, guys?”
Even her own Pokémon cheered. Traitors. In an attempt to avoid giving any sort of agreement, Serena fished around in her mind for anything to stall.
“I…I don’t know. Hey, Satori…”
“Huh? What is it?”
Thank Arceus she seemed to be so easily distracted.
“I was wondering…uh. If you’re a Trainer, why are you getting into Performing so abruptly? And with so little time, too?”
The surprised expression on Satori’s face made Serena backpedal immediately. “I-I’m sorry! If I was being too intrusive, I understand!”
“No, no, it’s okay! I was just surprised you asked that, is all!” Satori scratched at her hair, her embarrassed grin bright and inviting. “It’s actually kinda for the experience, but that’s not really it…”
‘Not really it?” Serena repeated.
“Well, the thing is, there’s something I really wanna tell someone right now, but…no matter what I do, they don’t seem to hear it. So…” Satori closed her eyes in a sheepish grin, one hand scratching underneath her nose while the other put up a victory signal. “I decided to use the Tripokalon! I’ll tell them what I want to say through my performance!”
“Tell them through your performance…?” Serena didn’t understand. Sure, there were things like interpretive dance, but Satori could barely even dance properly without attacks being flung at her left and right in some chaotic mess, never mind tell a story with her moves. “But what could you possibly tell them in a performance? What do you even want to say?”
Somehow, the atmosphere felt heavy when she asked that. Like there was something that she was missing. For a few seconds, Serena felt small and alone, like that time when she was lost in the forest during Okido-hakase’s sumer camp. Stuck somewhere with no idea where to go, with no courage to step forward, no idea what she was lacking or any will to pursue it.
And then Satori was close up in her face, grinning like a loon. Immediately, Serena’s face burned bright red and she stepped back, all feelings of apprehension gone and replaced with a sense of wonder at this stranger with the tanned skin and brown eyes and the bright, warm smile so much like his.
“That…is a secret!”
It took a few moments for Serena to respond.
It wasn’t a very intelligent response, but it was at least enough to get Satori to back off and start giggling.
“Like I said, it’s a secret! It wouldn’t be a good performance if you didn’t know from just me showing you! You should come and see for yourself!”
Damn. Maybe Satori wasn’t as easily deterred as she initially appeared to be. Still, it wasn’t like Serena wasn’t…curious…
“C’mon, Serena! It’d be great if you’d come! Please? I think you should come.” Satori crossed her arms and tilted her head, but all Serena could focus on was the lopsided little smile, warm and inviting.
“Maybe you’ll find some inspiration for your next performance if you come and watch! Why not go, huh?”
“I…I’ll think about it, okay?”
It wasn’t a proper answer, but the blinding grin from Satori showed that she was pleased regardless.
What a strange afternoon that was. More heartening than she expected, but now she had a new dilemma on her plate. Should she really go to the Tripokalon and not even compete? What if her other rivals were there: Sana, Millefui, Nene, or even that Musavie…what would they say? And could she even bear to watch Satori’s dreams getting crushed, could even understand what she was trying to say? Could she really get inspired by such a hopeless endeavor?
For all the questions this new problem put into her head, deliberating on those was much easier than thinking about Yashio’s words and the inner turmoil that was causing her. This came with the unfortunate side-effect of her worrying much more over a simple question than she should have been, keeping her awake far into the night longer than she usually would. Instead of sleeping, she was instead out on the balcony outside the bedroom they’d reserved at the Pokémon Center, looking out over the city. In fact, she spent so much time worrying about whether she would go to the Tripokalon or not that she didn’t even notice that Satoshi hadn’t come back from training until he walked in through the open glass door, freshly out of the shower and running a towel through his still damp hair.
“S…Serena? You’re still up?”
“Satoshi!” Her voice was a hasty whisper as she glanced over at the two siblings sleeping soundly in their own beds. When it was clear that neither of them would be waking up anytime soon, Satoshi shuffled over, still running a towel over his hair. He stopped when Serena glared at him, her next words coming out in a low hiss. “Why are you even back so late? What were you even doing?”
“Er…uh…training. There was this new combination I was working on, and I lost track of time…”
Serena sighed. Typical Satoshi…but that wasn’t any reason for her to snap at him all of a sudden. What right did she have to act worried when she hadn’t even been thinking about him at all for the past few hours?
“Sorry for snapping at you, Satoshi. I’ve just been…thinking.”
“About the Tripokalon?” He finally let the towel alone, and it rested on his shoulders as he leaned on the guardrail next to her, watching her attentively. It really was something, Serena mused, that Satoshi could be so dense one moment and perceptive the next, right at the most inconvenient moments. “Don’t worry, you’ll definitely blow them away with your performance this time!”
“I’m not performing, Satoshi.”
The worried look he gave her was worse than any sort of rejection or disappointment.
“I’m not sure, really. It just feels like something’s missing…it’s just not ready yet, I think.” She fumbled with her words, trying not to show any of her inner weaknesses, to make it more about her performance than it was about her. By the confused expression on Satoshi’s face, maybe it was working?
“I don’t really get it, but if you don’t think you’re ready, I won’t force you. You shouldn’t do something if you’re not ready to give it your very best, after all!”
She shouldn’t have been surprised that Satoshi was as supportive of her decision as he was. Hadn’t he always done his best to encourage her in the past, anyway? Why didn’t sitting out of the Tripokalon make him think that she was running away or giving up?
“I know that you’ll get it right and be able to perform again someday, Serena! You’re gonna make it to the Master Class and be Kalos Queen, after all!” He grinned, and she felt her heart flutter again. It was only for the briefest of moments, thankfully, as he frowned worriedly and tilted his head to look at her again.
“But if you’re not participating, why are you worried about it? Is there something else bothering you?”
“Well…” She almost wanted to revert to her old habit of hiding her face in her hair. How embarrassing… “I…I was thinking about going anyway, just to watch…”
“That’s a great idea, Serena!” Of course Satoshi would think so… “Why’s that bothering you, anyway?”
“That’s…um…” Somehow, when he asked that…all the worries she had before seemed so petty. They all faded away to nothing under the warmth from his curious smile, framed by wet hair and brown eyes gleaming slightly in the moonlight.
“Maybe you’ll get inspired or something if you go!” She looked at him at astonishment. For a second, she heard Satori’s embarrassed, yet excited proposition in her mind once more.
“Maybe you’ll find some inspiration for your next performance if you come and watch! Why not go, huh?”
Maybe her surprise had embarrassed Satoshi, too, because he had turned a little red and started rubbing underneath his nose with a single finger, like he always did when he got a little flustered.
“Hehe, was I too forward or something? I mean, if you don’t wanna go…I mean, since you’re not competing, there’s no point in me going, it’d be better off for me to train. So maybe it’s wrong for me to pressure you into doing that yourself, haha…”
“No, it’s not that…” Serena felt a little flattered that Satoshi didn’t think it was worth going to a Tripokalon if she wasn’t there, but he probably meant it as friendly support. But the more she talked it over with him, the more he encouraged her with just his presence; she felt less and less reason to not go. Maybe…maybe she would find the answer she was looking for.
“I…I guess…there’s no reason why I shouldn’t go…”
“Alright, Serena!” Satoshi cheered loudly, and Serena couldn’t help herself from smiling even while she shushed him hastily, looking over at the still-sleeping siblings inside the room to make sure he hadn’t woken them up. He was always so supportive of her, even when he didn’t know why she was down, or how he could help her…she was lucky, really, to have met him.
“It’ll be great for you, Serena, I know it! Go and have fun watching them, okay?”
0-0-End of Part 1-0-0
“Ah, geez, this hair of yours is really unmanageable!”
“Er, uh…sorry…” Satoshi sweated nervously as Elena-san attacked his hair with the comb and gel for what seemed like the tenth time in the past few minutes. Why did this always have to happen to him on his travels, anyway? Was there a sign on him or something that he didn’t know about? “Hey, please dress me up like a girl whenever possible, I’d look great?” Seriously, what made people look at him and decide he’d do fine dressing up like one?
“You should be sorry! What do you even do to get your hair in this kind of state, anyway? There’s tangles and knots no matter how much I comb through it, never mind the way it refuses to stay down!”
“W-well, I travel a lot, so…”
“That’s no excuse!”
Tairenar and Pikachu watched nervously as Satoshi was subjected to Elena’s not-so-tender mercies, before the fox Pokémon seemed to suddenly have an idea. She leapt over to where Elle-san was trying to force down Satoshi’s hair yet again in a fruitless endeavor, and tapped at one of the Pokeballs sitting at Satoshi’s waist. There was a flash of light and Gekkouga stood before them, wearing its usual calm expression as it looked down at Tairenar curiously. When she explained the situation with a bit of pantomiming and gestures, however, he quickly lost his cool, turning to stare at his femininely dressed Trainer with a shocked expression on his face.
“E…eheh, hey, Gekkouga. It’s me, seriously..”
Tairenar tugged at Gekkouga’s arm, before pointing at Satoshi again with an expectant expression. The frog nodded apprehensively, before holding its hands up. The two humans watched in wonder as the ever-useful Keromousse spilled forth from his fingers, and both their faces lit up as it quickly worked those same webbed hands through his hair, the Keromousse somehow both cleaning it and straightening the spikes out. They weren’t completely tamed (it didn’t seem like anything would) but all the tangles and knots were taken out, and the spikes even seemed to curl a little now, framing his face almost cutely.
“Haha! I didn’t know you could use your Keromousse like that, Gekkouga! That’s pretty cool…” It’d be cooler if it wasn’t being used to make him look more girly, but alas…
“Seems like Tairenar knows,” Elena-san giggled, looking as the two Pokémon sat on her bed next to Pikachu. Tairenar had presented her tail to Gekkouga, and the ninja Pokémon was cleaning it with a combination of its tongue and more mysteriously generated Keromousse in a practiced manner, as if it had done this many times before.
“She knows this pretty well…hehe! Kinda cute…and this new hairstyle of yours gives me some ideas…maybe curly hair would be better for you than I expected? Ooh, maybe a hair extension and a ribbon to hide where it’s attached…”
“A…ah…” Satoshi sighed as Elena-san continued to plot, her mutterings getting more and more ominous to him as she continued. Women…could be scary sometimes…
[A/N]: hahaha holy shit i haven't written a pokeani fic in ages not since i wrote that shitty pokeshipping fic that started my ficwriting career ages ago. i hope everyone's in character and that people enjoyed the fic because aaaaaa. I wanted to get this out for Amourshipping week so badly but online classes for me started last week so I spent a lot of time working on those instead and didn't get to put this out. welp. here it is instead.
You can probably tell I wasn't really sure exactly how to write Serena's reemergence of her self-doubt. She's gotten so much development over the past episodes and I'm so proud of her and it was actually really hard to write her backsliding.
Is Satori even a real name? Fuck if I know. It's a name now. My brain decided this like right now.
Elle-san! A lot of Serena's character development seems to be tied to her, so why not have her randomly appear as "Elena-san" again? Although she can't really appear in front of Serena with that identity again, since Serena knows about it. So let's have Satoshi act as her proxy, yay!
Speaking of Elle, I actually wanted to have Satori's design draw a lot of parallels to her in order to make it really obvious to the audience that she was involved in dressing Satoshi up. So a lot of the basics of her design get carried over to Satori's as well: keeping the same color scheme of their original selves, hair done up in ponytail(s) with some kind of large hair accessory, fake glasses to frame the face, frilled shirt and capris, etc. So Satori gets a hair ribbon instead of a hat, sneakers and a vest as a callback to Satoshi's usual getup and more practical travelling style, etc, while keeping to his usual blue-black-white color scheme. The red ribbon on Satori's shirt, however, while it serves as the splash of red as a fourth color accent like his hat usually ends up being, also is a callback to Serena's outfit itself. Since, you know, after her character development-induced haircut, she sports an outfit consisting mostly of reds, pinks, and blacks, but has that splash of blue prominently placed on her chest thanks to the ribbon she got from Satoshi. because hey. i'm trash. also I like to pretend that I actually know shit all about character design when I actually don't know anything so if anyone wants to give me pointers on Satori's getup that'd be nice because I actually only have a very vague idea on what Satori would look like other than decided parallels to Elle --> Elena transition.
Satori's actually pretty fun to write, considering how different (s)he is to the other times Satoshi has dressed up. As Satoko/mi, he was clearly trying to act as someone completely different, so he was pretty stiff and awkward (and adorable) during those times. The time he dressed up in AG he wasn't actually supposed to say anything, just stand there and look like whomever he was imitating...and got hit on by Takeshi anyway ssfffffhahah why. And then in DP he actually didn't have to act like anyone else, he was just helping out at the cafe...while dressed in a maid outfit because okay sure why not. Sure he was embarrassed at first, but then he just. didn't care or something. Satori is...well, while Satoshi gets embarrassed when he's asked who he is and why he's there, he's nervous, but once he gets into the challenge and actually starts trying to encourage Serena he's just his normal self, so, just Satoshi in girl's clothes and his usual genkiness is somehow cute enough for him to pass as just a very enthusiastic girl. A very enthusiastic, athletic girl. Who uses "ore." Because Satori still uses "ore" for some damn reason, which was why Serena was taken aback by how "forward" Satori seemed to be at first. It's not unheard of, but still. Satoshi, please.
Also, Satoshi still can't dance, even when dressed up as Satori. It's not that he has a bad sense of rhythm, after all, we've seen him dance pretty well before, and was even complimented for his good sense of rhythm back in...BW, I think it was? But being forced to dance in a style that doesn't suit him, like when he was trying Tierno's style, or trying out a typical Performance dance, it doesn't really work out that well for him. Thankfully, Serena's there to save the day and spur him back into his usual out-the-box thinking! What does that mean for his performance? Well, that's in the second part!
Omake times! Yes, Satori's ponytail is a hair extension rather than the usual wigs he dons when crossdressing. It's why Satori's hair looks so strange to Serena at first glance, both curled and spiked. Also, Keromousse. I gotta be level with you guys, I didn't think that Satoshi would ever get his Gekkogashira evolved into a Gekkouga, mostly because Keromousse looked like such a fun toy for the writers to play with. And it's so great for Satoshi's battling style too! Look at all the fun shit it could do, getting around certain attacks and immunities since it wasn't actually an attack, using it as a rope, making mousse dummies to replace with, cleaning up messed up fur and hair...ahem. Yeah. So it's my headcanon that Gekkouga can still generate Keromousse if it wants to, it just normally doesn't because the tongue usually works just as well. Probably gonna be jossed, but hey. That's why its an omake, not actually part of the fic. Also Insectivoreshipping. That's a thing too.
Anyways, I hope you all enjoyed the fic! There'll be a part two detailing the Tripokalon and its results if people like it, but feel free to leave reviews and crit, etc etc etc.