9 months later – The Grand Festival
Brendan was in the box seat of Slateport's contest stadium with Gwen. It had been an interesting nine-months. May's pregnancy had become a hot topic in the news and on social media as soon as the Maples had posted the announcement on their Festival Plaza account. That hype grew much especially when she announced that she would still be in the Grand Festival this year, despite her being nine-months pregnant now. That, however, wasn't the only pregnancy that had caught the media's attention.
Mommy, is this the last battle for Aunt May this year? a small voice said, coming from the young Ralts in Gwen's lap.
Yes, Alicia, Gwen said lovingly. Are you excited to see her win? The night of the wedding had been a very fun night for Gwen and Sam, which resulted in more than just one night's consequences. About a month later, Gwen had laid an egg, and Gwen's daughter had hatched four months ago, quickly taking after her mother in her speech and intelligence.
Yeah, she's going to be the best! Alicia said excitedly. The guy won't stand a chance!
Gwen smiled and stroked Alicia's hair lovingly as she noticed Brendan was on the edge of his seat. You know that May has this in the bag, right. She's already a three-time champion. Plus, her opponent is a newbie. With Astra by her side, I'm sure she can win this one easily.
Brendan smiled, hearing the name of the Jirachi he'd given May for their wedding. She had decided on using the star Pokémon for her Grand Festival performance. Her appeal had been incredible, using Doom Desire, Swift, and even Thunderbolt together to make the appearance of real shooting stars, which Astra then went ahead of, joining the display. The cute, little Pokémon had then somersaulted down into May's arms. It was another perfect score for May with that performance. She had gone on to show her sheer dominance as a coordinator in the battle rounds, combining Wish, Doom Desire, and Protect to great effect, along with her own improvisations, like Iron Head, Zen Headbutt, and even Thunder Punch.
Now, it was time for the final round: May against the new challenger, named William, who was using a Weavile for the cold and dark appeals. It was a well-trained Pokémon, and likely would win against another opponent.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands together for the challenger, William Clasact!" said Vivian excitedly. The crowd applauded for the young, dark-haired man, who was striding out confidently in a suit and tie. He waved to the middle row, presumably to his family. Then, the lights went to the other end of the stage, showing the chair that was being provided for May in her battle box. "Now, give it up for the top coordinator, looking to retain her title, May Maple!" The crowd went wild as May walked out on the stage in her nicest maternity dress, and her most comfortable dress shoes, cradling her belly with a smile across her face as she slowly sat in the chair.
On the stage, May kept a hand on top of her belly as she pulled out Astra's Luxury Ball. "Alright, Selena, think you can help your mom out here?" she said, feeling the baby, who turned out to be a girl according to the doctors, shift slightly as if to respond. May just giggled and opened the Luxury Ball, sending out Astra. "Thanks, sweetheart."
William smiled. "Come out, Pluto!" he called as the Weavile appeared on the battlefield. "May, I've been a huge admirer of yours since you became top coordinator," he said. "But don't expect me to go easy on you just because you're pregnant."
"That's fine with me. I wasn't going to take it easy on you either," she said slyly as she winked. The buzzer sounded to get them started. Astra immediately fired a Swift, aiming for Pluto as he leapt and rolled to dodge. May smirked as Astra used a Doom Desire, the energy gathering in the sky steadily. "Fire Punch!" Astra flew as fire built up on her hand, getting closer just as Pluto had dodged the last star of Swift.
"Night Slash!" William called out. The Weavile swung his glowing black claws at his target, only for Astra to duck under the claws and uppercut the Ice-Type. William's points dropped to half, while May's had barely hit the 75% mark.
May just sat comfortably, feeling Selena getting much more active than usual, squirming a bit faster. "Alright, I know you're hungry, sweetheart. I'll get us both something to eat," she said quietly, putting a hand over where she felt Selena pushing with her little hand, making a slight imprint. May smiled as her hand met Selena's, anxious for the day where she could directly hold her daughter's hand
Astra's Doom Desire launched down as May's hand met Selena's. Pluto, not knowing any protective moves strong enough to stop the attack, took the full force of the attack, trying to dodge desperately. He even fired Ice Shards to try and cancel out the attack, but it proved unsuccessful. The steel-type attack hit hard, knocking out Pluto, with William's points following closely.
"And it's over!" Vivian said. "May Maple has retained her title in a decisive victory."
May slowly got up, her back arched as a hand supported her back as Astra came over and hugged her trainer happily. "Hey, Astra, that was a great performance. Thank you for working so hard," she said. "Would you like to stay out for the award ceremony?" Astra's excited nodding was all she needed to see.
William approached her with Pluto walking shakily beside him. "That was really impressive," he said as he politely shook May's hand. "Even though it was a loss, I'm still going to try for your title."
May smiled politely. "Well, I look forward to seeing how you perform in these coming years. To be honest, you remind me a lot of myself with your motivation. Just don't lose that drive, and I'm sure you'll go far…but I won't be losing my title any time soon if I can help it."
"Well, I guess I should try in other regions as well. Maybe I'll head to Sinnoh next," William said as the stage crew brought out the award ceremony podium. "Anyway, thank you for being here this year, even with your baby so close to being born. I hope you and Champion Brendan have a beautiful, healthy baby."
"Thank you so much," May said. "You're such a gentleman."
As she said that, Vivian began to speak once again. "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now time for our award ceremony." May, William, and the third-place coordinator, named Jessica, who had used a Roserade, took their positions, May getting a hand from Vivian to help her get onto the podium. She let out a slightly relieved breath, her hand still on her back for support as she smiled to the audience. She saw Brendan, Gwen, and Alicia in their box seats, and she waved to them happily. Alicia was the first one to wave back, smiling cutely at May. May giggled at the cute little Ralts, and Gwen joining her daughter. Brendan just winked knowingly at his wife as the awards were presented to the other two.
"And now, to award our first-place winner, I'd like to call to our specially chosen guest. Please welcome Hoenn's Champion of nearly four years, Brendan Maple!" Gwen took her cue, teleporting herself, Brendan, and Alicia all onto the stage. May beamed happily as Brendan approached her with the trophy, realizing that Brendan was waiting to surprise her, only to almost hear an audible pop from her belly, followed by wetness building slowly on a pad she'd had at the ready since the week of her due date began. It was then followed by a contraction as strong as her strongest Braxton Hix contractions had ever gotten.
Brendan, holding May's trophy, saw his wife's sudden change of expressions from happy to shocked and slightly pained, along with her hand going to her belly. "Hey, May, are you alright?" Brendan asked as he got onto the podium with her.
May gasped slightly as the contraction subsided, nodding slightly. "I'm fine…but I think Selena's coming."
Brendan's eyes went wide as she spoke, while Gwen teleported a microphone into his hand. Brendan then turned to the audience. "I apologize to all of you, but the award ceremony will need to be cut short for medical reasons." Gwen then put her hand onto Brendan, who took May's hand, while Astra went into her Luxury Ball. May gripped his hand tightly as Gwen teleported them all to Littleroot General Hospital's entrance. Brendan quickly helped May get inside the building, going to the reception desk, the nurse recognizing them both from May's repeated visits for her ultrasounds. She quickly dialed the phone at her desk.
"Mrs. Maple is here, and she is going into labor," she said. "I'm sending her to the maternity ward, suite A." She got a quick acknowledgement as a wheelchair was pushed in for May. Brendan helped her into the chair, her hands going to her belly as she tried to take deep breaths.
Once they got to the birthing suite, Brendan and their accompanying nurse helped May get to an elevated seat, the nurse handing a hospital gown to May. "Alright, May, you and Brendan just relax and get comfortable. We'll be sending in doctors every so often to check on your dilation," the nurse said kindly and reassuringly.
"Thank you," May said as she let out a breath. The nurse smiled and left Brendan, May, Gwen, and Alicia as May took off her dress and putting on the gown. Once she was mostly covered, she took her panties off, letting them fall to the floor, since she knew she couldn't bend over that far. Brendan helped May get into her seat, then picked up her panties for her as she got into the chair.
Aunt May, are you gonna be okay? Alicia asked, looking worried.
May smiled as she rubbed a hand over her belly. "Yes, I'll be fine. Selena is just about to be born."
Really? Is her egg coming out now? Alicia asked cutely, not yet understanding that humans didn't have eggs like Pokémon did.
No, sweetie, Selena is already out of her egg now, Gwen said, keeping it simple for her daughter.
May was holding Brendan's hand tightly. "I'm really nervous," she said with a deep breath as Gwen teleported Alicia's favorite toy ball from home to distract her while May was giving birth.
"Hey, everything will be alright. Just relax. We're going to have a healthy, beautiful baby in a few hours now," Brendan said as the door opened as the nurse entered.
"Just coming in to check on you," she said, Brendan seeing Carla on her nametag. The Latina nurse seemed to be in her forties now, and she had an air of experience about her as she lifted May's gown, inserting a speculum for a moment. "And you're progressing pretty quickly. I'd guess that you'll be giving birth before midnight tonight. Feel free to turn on the television, if you'd like." Carla then took the tool out of May and left the room with a smile.
Brendan turned on the television as Carla left, the channel coincidentally showing the commentary for the Grand Festival. The two commenting were Wallace, who had taken up broadcasting and analysis for contests since losing his title to Brendan, and Green Leif. Green was both a powerful trainer and coordinator from Kanto, and she was married to Red Harrison, who would take his own trips alone repeatedly after giving up the title of Champion.
"With what can only be described as a show of her being in a new league of trainer, May Maple and her Jirachi, Astra, won decisively against their opponents. Unfortunately, Grace Sinatra, one of May's long-standing rivals, has been traveling in Unova for the past year with her family," Wallace said.
"Yes, and but it was just such a shame that May and Brendan both left the stage just as the award ceremony was getting to her," Green said. "Wallace, what are your thoughts on the matter, since you've known May longer than I have?"
"Them leaving before the trophy was awarded was a slight shame, but I suspect it won't be for very long," Wallace said with a knowing smile. "Given the fact that May is in her ninth month of pregnancy, how her expression shifted just before leaving, and that Brendan said they were leaving for a medical reason, I am almost positive that she is going into labor. If that's the case, then we will likely see something on social media soon with a picture of their baby."
Green smiled and giggled slightly. "Well, if the Maples are watching this now, know that the entire world is waiting excitedly to welcome your baby into the world with you."
That was when the door opened again, with the now engaged Lisia and Wally, entering with Sam right behind them. "Hey, is it okay for us to come in?"
Alicia's eyes lit up as she saw Sam entering. DADDY! she called out as she ran forward, jumping into the Gallade's arms, giving her father a hug. I missed you! Gwen stood up with a smile.
Come on, you two are our best friends. You can be in here until the doctors say otherwise, Gwen said as she walked up to Sam, kissing him like a housewife would her husband. Thank you for coming so quickly after I contacted you.
Sam just smiled, presumably saying 'it was the least I could do' to Gwen before going to play with Alicia for a while. Wally and Lisia then came inside, the latter of whom took May's hand that wasn't gripping Brendan's hand.
"Hey, you did really well out there on that stage," Lisia said. "Seems that baby Selena wants to come out and join us for the celebration."
May started laughing musically when Lisia said that. "She should know by now that she's always part of the celebrations," she said as she took her hand from Brendan and rubbed over a bulge as Selena pushed out with what May guessed to be her elbow. Brendan's hand followed May's as well, making her smile despite the building pressure in her lower abdomen. "But damn, the entire world knows that I'm giving birth tonight," she giggled.
"That's a price of fame," Lisia said almost tauntingly. "Especially when you're a region's iconic couple the way you two are."
There then came another knock at the door as Norman, Caroline, Lily, and Professor Birch all entered. Lily was immediately to her daughter's side hugging her tightly. "Hey, sweetheart, how're you feeling?"
"I'm feeling nervous, but excited too," May said. "Selena seems to be just excited." Lily giggled at the thought.
"You were the same way when I was about to have you," she said with the bright smile of a mother reminiscing about her family. "Seems like a small, innocent dose of irony." May giggled. "I guess I'll be giving that same advice to Selena when she grows up."
Lily gave her daughter a reassuring kiss on the forehead. "Don't go thinking that far ahead. You'll miss the moments in the present." May smiled as she hugged her parents tightly.
As Nurse Carla had predicted, when the clock struck ten at night, May winced as she felt her active labor going into the faster, more powerful contractions of the transition phase. Nurse Carla entered with the doctor, a woman named Samantha, came in quickly as Norman called out into the hall. She took a moment to check May, then stood up. "Alright, I'm going to need everybody except Brendan to wait in the hallway until the baby is born. The others left the room, with Gwen carrying a sleeping Alicia in her arms into the waiting room.
May gripped Brendan's hand tightly as Nurse Carla took her vitals for a moment. "Alright, May, do you want the epidural?" Dr. Samantha asked.
May sighed. "No. I don't want to be numb to this," she said. She was nervous about the pain of giving birth, but she was going to face all of it bravely, and directly, and Brendan was going to take all the verbal abuse he knew was coming his way.
"Alright, but this will be very unpleasant for you," Carla said as May put her feet into the stirrups.
"I know. But nothing good came without some amount of pain," May said.
"That is quite noble," Dr. Samantha said, turning to Brendan. "I'll be sure to send an orthopedist to look at your hands once this is all done."
May giggled a little before the next contraction hit, getting overlapped by the next one. Her grip got tighter on Brendan's hand, already getting close to breaking a bone or two. She winced and cried out, the pain making May feel nauseous as the contractions continued for almost four minutes. She groaned as the contraction stopped, sweat covering her face. Brendan let go of her hand briefly as he went to the sink, grabbing a cloth and getting it wet with cool water before coming back to her side, wiping her forehead lightly.
May smiled at him. "Thank you," she said as she caught her breath.
"And with that, it seems you're fully dilated. Are you ready?" Samantha asked.
"No, but will I ever be?" May asked with nervousness in her voice.
"Don't worry, the next part will be over quickly," Carla said reassuringly.
May then felt Selena's head pushing against and through her cervix, pain erupting from her hips. "AHHHH!" She screamed painfully, glaring daggers at Brendan. "All this pain is your fault! You couldn't keep your damn hands to yourself!"
"You're doing great," Brendan said calmly, letting her crush his hand as she squeezed. Nurse Carla just seemed to smiled with amusement
"May, just go ahead and push when you feel the need, just go slowly. I'll let you know if you'll need to stop," Dr. Samantha said. May nodded slightly, pushing in-time with her contractions, but she quickly got to a point where she felt like her vagina was about to rip in half, making her want to quit.
"I can't do this," she said with tears in her eyes. "It hurts."
Dr. Samantha gently reached up and took May's hand, slowly guiding it to her sex. May was confused until she felt soft, wet hair at the entrance, and May's eyes brightened. "You're so close. Don't give up now," Dr. Samantha said.
May nodded. "Okay, I can do this," she said, sounding out of breath. "Brendan, I need that wet cloth."
Brendan immediately began to wipe May's face with the cloth as she began to push again. The strain and stretch continued for another minute before a wave of relief came over her entire body as she felt Selena's head come out completely. May gave one last push and Selena's body followed out of her, a rush of joy and happiness flowing through her and Brendan as they heard the hiccupping wail of their daughter.
Dr. Samantha cut the umbilical cord, and Nurse Carla took Selena to a table nearby, weighing her to be seven pounds exactly, and measuring her to be about sixteen-inches long. She then swaddled Selena, taking her back over to May, who immediately took her daughter into her arms, starting to soothe the infant. "Brendan, look at her," she said, tears of joy in her eyes as Brendan hugged May closer. "She's beautiful." May's hand went to the now wide and bright-eyed Selena, softly stroking the baby's hair. May then kissed Selena softly on the forehead. "Hi, Selena. I'm your mommy," she said as she continued to cry from joy. Brendan had some tears starting to form in his eyes, seeing that their daughter had May's beautiful, blue eyes.
"You did great, May," Brendan said, kissing the side of May's head.
"Well, I'm exhausted," she said, smiling as she handed Selena to Brendan. "You can hold her. I know she's been dying to meet you. Every time she heard your voice for the past three months, she got more active."
Brendan's smile grew as he took Selena in his arms for the first time. At that moment, he felt an overwhelming joy rush over him. He knew, in that instant, that Selena had completely taken his heart. "May, I love you…but I have a new girl in my life," Brendan said.
May giggled as she rested. "I feel the same way. You know our lives have just changed completely, right?"
"I know, but…I don't care," Brendan said, his gaze fixed on Selena as she seemed to begin falling asleep in his arms. "If it's the three of us, then I'm not afraid of what's coming."
May kissed his cheek as she leaned over the railing, only to have the door open slowly. Hey, can we come meet the newest Maple? Gwen asked, family and friends alike behind her, starting with Norman, Caroline, Lily, and Professor Birch.
Brendan smiled and quietly gestured for them to come in as May smiled at them. They could all tell that she was exhausted, but she was too happy in the moment to fall asleep. Deep down, though, Brendan had the feeling that Selena was going to be the one who took the title of Champion from him…and maybe the top coordinator spot from May. He kept smiling as he handed Selena to his mother. Well, no matter what, only time will tell.
5 Years Later
Alicia, come on, we're going to miss your boat, Gwen called up the stairs to her daughter.
Coming, Mom, just needed to brush my hair to make it look perfect, Alicia said as she teleported down to Gwen's side.
"Alicia, wait for me!" came the voice of a sweet little girl. The five-year-old brunette Selena came running excitedly, looking like a miniature version of her mother, with Brendan's nose and ears.
"Selena, go slowly down the stairs," May said as she walked behind her daughter, rolling a rather large suitcase, Brendan, the last to appear, was fast in picking up May's suitcase along with his and Selena's, about to take them down for her. Gwen sighed and teleported up to them.
Honestly, you three would be lost without me here to help you, Gwen said as she teleported them and the bags to the ground floor as they awaited Selena. The little girl was walking slowly down the stairs, listening to her mother obediently. Gwen wanted to help speed things up, but she knew that, like her father, Selena was extraordinarily stubborn when it came to doing certain tasks on her own.
Brendan was waiting for Selena at the bottom of the steps when she got to the second-to-last step, getting ready to jump as she usually did from that step. "Ready, Selena?" Brendan asked.
"I'm ready, Daddy," she said sweetly.
"Then, big jump!" he said playfully as Selena jumped into his arms. She already had on her cute black shoes, courtesy of May's efforts, with her blue bow in her hair. The color was meant to be in contrast to May's old, red bow, which now sat in a chest with her photo albums of their family life. "Are you excited to go to Alola?"
Selena giggled, hugging Brendan around his neck. "Yeah, Daddy, I can't wait!"
Alicia smiled softly. I'll be sure to send you all a postcard from Orre once I've met my trainer there, the Ralts said.
Gwen took a deep, steadying breath as she heard Alicia say that. While Alicia's desire to travel to Orre to help bring happiness to a trainer there had been a shock to the entire Maple family, especially Gwen, they had mostly come to accept it.
Well, just promise me that you'll be in contact more than just a few times. I don't want to have my daughter be a stranger, Gwen said, her motherly tone having a practiced ease to it.
Alicia groaned jokingly. But MOOOOOOM, I want to be mean to you and cut you off from my life…when my sibling is about to hatch soon.
Gwen smiled, kissing Alicia's forehead. Good girl, she said as she hugged Alicia. She then looked to her own bag, which held the egg she'd laid three months prior, coming from another passionate night with Sammy.
They all began to walk toward Brendan and May's SUV. Brendan looked at his covered sportscar longingly for a second before kissing Selena on the cheek and putting her into her booster seat. Gwen followed suit with Alicia in the back. While the Ralts was not young like Alicia was, she was still only a foot tall. Gwen then got in the back between the two children, her egg's bag in her lap, as Brendan and May put the luggage in the tailgate of the van, getting into the front seats. "Alright, to Slateport first, then to the Mauville Airport," Brendan said, taking the driver's seat.
The drive was fun, with Selena's music playing the whole way, with May and Gwen helping her sing along with the words. Selena, however, still had trouble keeping pitch with her singing, so it sounded odd, but it had cuteness overload for the occupants of the car. It took them thirty minutes before they got to the port, May getting Selena out of her car seat, carrying her a short distance before setting her on the ground, holding her hand as Gwen got Alicia out of the car, and Brendan locked the van when they were all ready to go to the harbor.
It didn't take long for them to find the check-in station for the Pokémon going to Orre. In the past, the different regions had donated multiple Pokémon through Devon's program to aid the desolate region and provide Pokémon for the people there. Alicia quickly led the Maple family to the check-in station, where Steven Stone was standing with the ship's captain.
"Mr. Stone!" Selena said happily, recognizing the man as she ran forward, hugging the legs of Devon's CEO excitedly.
"Oh, hello Selena!" he chuckled as he hugged her back, looking up to see Brendan and May approaching. May was facepalming a little as she laughed at Selena's behavior. "How are you all doing today?"
"We're doing quite well," May said. "But, Alicia is ready for her travels to Orre, so this is where we're saying goodbye."
And hope that she goes to a great trainer. One like that guy Brendan battled in Victory Road for the League Tournament nine years ago, Gwen said. What was his name? Wes?
"Don't worry about that. We always vet the trainers before they get the Pokémon, and they typically turn out to be good people. Whether she's picked by a trainer with the disposition of Brendan is another issue though," Steven said.
So, where should I go to check-in, Alicia asked.
"Just head up the gangplank, and the crew will get you ready," Steven explained.
Gwen then crouched down beside Alicia hugging her daughter tightly. Alicia, you be careful while you're traveling, and please come to visit us often.
I promise I will, Alicia said happily, kissing her mother's cheek. Gwen stood, looking proud of her daughter, but in a bittersweet sense. Alicia then found herself in a surprisingly tight hug from Selena. I'll miss you, Selena, Alicia said as she hugged the little girl back.
"I don't want you to go," Selena said, sounding like she was crying. "I want us to stay together forever."
Brendan smiled softly as he went to pick up his daughter, who let go of Alicia reluctantly. "It's okay, she's still going to be with us even if she's not here," he said, even though he knew Selena wouldn't understand something so abstract. The captain then approached the Maple family.
"I'm sorry to break this farewell early, but the boat is about to depart," he said kindly. Alicia nodded and smiled at the captain.
Got it, she said as she teleported up the ship's gangplank, getting a smile from May, Brendan, and Gwen as she waved back to them. The captain was up to her side in less than a minute before the departure horn sounded from the cargo ship. The Maples just stood and watched with smiles as the boat got moving. Alicia then stood up on the starboard beam waving to her family. I love you all! Next time I see you, I'll have a great trainer…I might even be a Gardevoir!
May, Gwen, and Brendan all smiled and waved back to the little Ralts, while Selena turned to face the ship again, giving a little wave to her friend as they watched the boat shrink into the distance.
And, suddenly, I have a bad feeling about her going on this trip. Something feels wrong, Gwen said.
"I wouldn't worry too much. After all, the captain has a great record on this ship…plus, what could go wrong with a ship named S.S. Libra?"
Yeah, I guess you're right. I'm just being a worrying mother, Gwen said.
May then pet Selena's hair over Brendan's shoulder, smiling sympathetically. "I know how you feel…but maybe a couple weeks at Alola's Hano Grand Resort will help with that issue."
"And, with luck, maybe Selena can meet Alola's Champion, Elio," he said, getting his daughter to perk up at the name of one of her idols.
"I want to meet Mr. Northstar!" she said. Brendan just chuckled and kissed his daughter on the cheek.
"I'll see what I can do, sweetheart," he said as they began to walk to their car.
As they began to drive to Mauville, Gwen couldn't help but smile with pride. She'd originally set out with the goal of becoming the world's strongest Gardevoir. Now, her goal had been met in ways that she never expected to happen. Selena just giggled at Gwen's happiness radiating out. The little girl didn't understand it, but she knew that Gwen's happiness meant good things were going to happen.
With giddiness and joy through the car, May drove on toward their destination: paradise.
And…that is Brendan's Journey, finished after 3 years. I'm in shock at how long it took, yet how short it felt. Either way, I'm glad to be getting a bit of a hiatus while I prepare a few chapters for Into the Storm so I can release more than one for the start of that story.
As always, please review, and let me know what you thought of the story. Hopefully I'll see you all back for Into the Storm
Until next time ~ jmoul18.