Chapter 85, everybody! We're all dressed up with somewhere to go…as for how Darkrai knows this stuff, we'll start with he lived in Sinnoh for a long time and contests are a thing and leave the rest to the imagination for now.

Yes heatstroke is a real thing and you do need to stay hydrated when you're out in the sun but in rewatching the episode the one announcer really does turn into an Oddish for like five seconds so…also Misty's opinions of makeup sort of mirror my own and some of Darkrai's advice comes from my Mom trying to teach me how to use the stuff.

Also how on earth did Misty's hair get that long in this episode good grief. And Darkrai is referencing The Phantom of the Opera (the Broadway run is closing next year, not sure how to take that). Oddish, meanwhile, is channeling Mr. Pricklepants from Toy Story 3 (although I think the actual quote is from Toy Story That Time Forgot).

And now for reviews: thanks to JoshPlater, Dragonkeeper10, Black Knight Lucario, griffin blackwood, thor94, forward-smash, epantoja521, and Reader for the reviews! Also dangit I blame that typo on Viridian and Vermillion both starting with 'V' and ending with 'N' (fixed now). X\

Pokémon © Game Freak; Nintendo

And now, for something completely different:

Feebas Turns Into Milotic. (slang) To express sarcasm and/or doubt in regards to an event or person. Archaic, comes from the belief that Feebas and Milotic were two different species, something not debunked until recently due to how rare the events involving Feebas' evolution are. Can be shortened to Feebas without losing meaning. Example: yeah right, and Feebas turn into Milotic. Alternate structure: Feebas turns to Milotic.

So in other news, while it was cool that there was this whole contest-slash-battle thing going on, Ash wasn't entirely sure why they were here.

"I don't get it," Ash muttered, leaning on the railing with his head propped up on a hand. "Why is Misty even participating in this stupid thing? I thought she hated girly stuff."

"It's the principle of the thing," Brock said, adjusting his hold on Togepi. "And I don't think she said she hated it—just that she never had a need to do any of this."

"So why do it now?"

"Why are you after the gym run?"

Ash blinked at that. "Um…to be the very best."

"Like no one ever was?" Brock asked, smirking; Ash nodded sheepishly. "So that's it? There's no longstanding rivalry with a certain Gary Oak to help fuel it?"

Ash grimaced. "Okay, so there's that…."

"And Misty's probably been dealing with things like that her entire life—remember her saying that her sisters were like three Garys? Running into girls that behave just like that probably struck a nerve."

Ash nodded slowly, considering this. When put that way…okay, it made sense.

"Yeah, but," Ash noised. "Does Misty even know how to wear makeup or anything like that? I've never seen her in anything but tank tops and shorts."

Brock considered this. "Uh, yeah. Should have probably asked her."

"Well let's go ask."

"Hold it," Brock said, stopping him. "You're proposing going to the girls' changing room."

"Yeah, so? That's where Misty is."

"That's where a lot of girls are, and there will be blood if they catch you peeking in on them."

"That sounds more like what you would do."

"It would be bad, Ash."

"Pika pi," Pikachu said, from his usual perch on Ash's head.

"All right, fine," Ash said, throwing his hands up. "So now what?"

Brock considered. "Well, we do have someone else we can ask…someone who most likely wouldn't be caught…."

"Ah," Ash noised, understanding. "Quick, act like you're tying your shoes."

Ash dropped down, adjusted the Velcro straps on his shoes as Brock redid his knots.

"So…Darkrai. Would you mind seeing if Misty needs any help?" Ash asked quietly.

Their shadows shifted slightly—Brock's eyebrows nearly disappearing into his hair was amusing.

"And I would be wanting to do this why?" Darkrai's voice echoed from the shadow.

"Out of the goodness of your heart?"


But their shadows flexed and Darkrai skimmed away—Ash could track his progress from shadow to shadow for a little while until he was lost in the milling crowd.

"Okay, that was a little freaky," Brock said.

"Yeah, I can see where that would weird a person out," Ash said, standing and dusting himself off.

"Glad you can see that," Brock said, picking up Togepi and standing as well. "Is that a usual thing?"

"Him hiding in shadows? Yeah."

"Him hiding in our shadows."

"Yeah. You don't really notice it most times."

"That's concerning," Brock said, tipping his head and frowning slightly.

"Yeah, well," Ash said, shrugging and turning back to watch the stage.

And blinking at the odd sight he saw. "Okay, I swear the announcer turned into an Oddish for like five seconds."

Brock nodded. "Okay, that probably means heatstroke is setting in. Come on, let's get in the shade," he said, gently tugging Ash down the line.

"No, seriously."

"And maybe some water too—actually, maybe 'Gatr-ade, since you'd need to replenish your electrolytes."

"That's more Pikachu's thing, right?"

"Electrolytes, not electricity."

"But I was close, right?"

"Uh, no. Come on, let's find the concession stand."

Misty regretted the outburst and the decision leading up to this moment.

Specifically, the bit where she was currently sitting in a dressing room and staring at a ton of makeup without a single clue of how to put any of it on.

"Well…I can go natural, right?" she asked Psyduck.

"Psyayayai?" he asked, gripping his head and looking at her blankly. Yes, that was about how she felt about the whole thing.

Someone tapped on the glass—she ran and opened the little window, welcoming the distraction, even if the one providing it wasn't someone she was so hot on.

"The boys want to know how things are going," Darkrai announced, looking and sounding bored in the little thin alley behind the building.

"Terrible," she replied, having to stand on tiptoes and raise her chin and tug herself up with her fingers to even see out of the high small window. "Go see if Brock knows anything about makeup."

"Why, is there something Brock isn't telling us?"

"I just figure he has sisters, maybe he'll be able to make sense of all this junk."

Darkrai scratched his face, considering.

"Mmm, no. Hold on a minute."

And with that, he disappeared into his shadow.

"I don't—are you helping or not?" Misty asked, looking as far up and down the alley as she could.

"What do you think I'm even doing in here?"

Misty yelped in alarm and spun around to see Darkrai floating out of a shadow in the dressing room, already heading straight for the makeup stand and picking up one of the flats.

"How much time do we have?" he asked, dumping the contents onto the floor.

"What are you doing?"

"Look, do you want to win this stupid thing or not? Sit," he ordered, pointing at the makeup table.

"I do," she said, a little miffed as she sat down. "And what do you know about makeup?"

She could see Darkrai pause and sigh in his reflection in the mirror, a deep gusty one that showed a beak and sharp teeth. "I'll have you know that in Sinnoh, contests are what we like to call 'a very big deal.' This thing is the same basic steps, appeal and a battle, and humans have to look as sharp as their Pokémon. Now do you want to argue semantics or do you want to get on with it?"

Misty had a hard time believing that Darkrai would be allowed anywhere near something that sounded like a lot of people frequented, much less that he would have an interest in it. "All right then, we've got fifteen minutes—wow me."

"Oh goody, that long. Here," he said, snatching something up and tossing it to her. "Light dusting, for some reason humans don't like shiny faces."

"Ugh, I hate makeup," she muttered, taking the powder and dusting her face, closing her eyes and mouth tightly and holding her breath.

"It's about as fond of you too," Darkrai said, flicking assorted makeup items this way and that.

"Oddish odd-ish?" her Oddish asked.

"No, we're not going with that."

"What are we going with?" Misty asked, coughing a little as she put the powder away and accepted the next thing Darkrai tossed up at her.

"A little under the cheekbones, not too much or you start looking like a Mr. Mime. You want to accentuate your natural look—that's what this stupid stuff is for."

"Hmph," Misty noised, twirling the brush in the red cake. "My sisters always look like over-the-top models when they doll up."

"That's too much on the brush, and they were doing it wrong. Let me guess, you never joined them."

"It always felt like a bunch of junk on my face," she said, wiping some of the makeup off of the brush before dusting it against her cheeks.

"That's because it is a bunch of junk on your face," Darkrai said, looking between two things before holding them out to her Pokémon and asking them something she couldn't understand—rai dark rai rai—speaking in Pokémon. She didn't know why that surprised her.

"Psayai?" Psyduck noised, tipping his head further.

"I wasn't asking you."

Oddish pointed a leaf at the one, prompting him to toss it at her. "Between your eyebrows and your eyelids, and remember what I keep saying about not too much."

"Okay, what did you ask them, and how did you learn so much about makeup?" she asked, opening the thing.

"None of your business, and also none of your business—no, no red," he muttered, tossing a tube of lipstick away after glancing at the bottom. "Looking like a Jynx isn't much better than looking like a Mr. Mime."

"I'm glad we agree," Misty said, closing one eye and dusting the stuff onto the space Darkrai had told her. Blue. Okay, she liked blue….

Darkrai asked her Pokémon another question in Pokénese before depositing two tubes on the table.

"The one goes on your mouth and the other goes on your eyes, if you've ever seen a movie with Audrey Hepburn then you know how lipstick goes on."

"The fact that you know who that is boggles my mind."

"Let it be boggled," Darkrai said, tugging her hair out of its ponytail. "I'm going to see what little there is to offer as far as outfits, put those on and then do something with your hair. Tease it, muff it, have it fall around your face, comb it, just don't put it back in a ponytail."

"Unlike some people we travel with, I take care of myself on a regular basis," Misty said, running her fingers through her hair as Darkrai drifted into the little walk-in-closet.

"Good for you. I take it lace and frills are out of the question."

"I don't want to look like some prima donna princess."

"So less Colette and more Meg. Opinions on heels."

"They serve a proper function in foot structure?"

"I'm talking about shoes."

"You mean I can't wear my sneakers?"

She heard something that might have been Darkrai thudding his head against a wall. "Let me guess, you were planning on going out dressed as you were."

"What was wrong with how I looked?"

"Nothing—what you had was comfortable," Darkrai said, drifting out with something white and a pair of flats with crossing laces. "But if you really and truly want to beat these girls and beat them good, you have to show that you can look better than them and look comfortable doing it." He looked her face over before tossing the clothes at her. "Not bad for a rank amateur, so long as no one gets too close. Put that on, I found something that looks like a jewelry box."

Misty hastened over to the folding partition and changed, tugging her clothes off and pulling the white thing on—it was a dress, she realized, making her think something between Helen of Troy and Marilyn Monroe. She wasn't sure how she felt about that. She also wasn't sure how she felt about the zipper in the back she couldn't quite get. At least the shoes were comfortable.

"Yes, it was a jewelry box," Darkrai announced. "How is getting dressed going?"

"I can't get the zipper," Misty said, straightening up the front and adjusting the knot where some of the fabric looped around her neck—and then yelping as someone yanked the zipper up. Spin around—Darkrai. "Do you mind!?"

"Not at all," Darkrai said blandly, holding some gold pieces up. "Wrists and hair, and that's all I can help you with as far as looks."

"Gee, thanks," she muttered, putting the items on. "How much time do we have?"

Darkrai glanced at the clock on the wall. "It's been ten minutes, so I'm going to say we have two minutes to practice how you're supposed to hold yourself and walk."

"Let me guess, simpering little wave."

"No, because they'd be able to sense the sarcasm," Darkrai said, floating away. "Now walk over here and try not to look like you're heading down a trail."

"Odd Oddish odd," Oddish chimed, backing away from her on twinkle-toes with leaves wavering.

"What?" Misty asked.

"I have enough self-worth that I am not repeating that," Darkrai said. "Now over here."

Misty walked over. Well, at least the shoes were comfortable.

"Too fast," Darkrai said. "Walk like you're someplace that interests you, and try 'floaty.'"

Misty hmphed at him, turned—

And when she did, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror.

"Yes, more like that," Darkrai said as she unconsciously pulled her shoulders back, taken with…with how she realized she looked. Darkrai noticed what she was looking at, looked her up and down in the mirror again. It wasn't her, not quite, she thought—she was tank tops and suspenders and her hair pulled into a ponytail. Dressed up like this…she knew who she was looking at.

"Thank you," she said quietly, startling Darkrai.

And then the announcer called her name.

"Oop, that's you," Darkrai said, shooing her out. "Remember, don't rush, keep your hands loose and preferably by your side, curtsey, and above all, float—actually, above all, don't fall off the stage."

"I feel like I'm going to throw up."

"Yes, well, it's important you not do that."

"I'm not sure I can do this," she muttered, trying to keep loose but tightening up as she got closer.

Darkrai stopped her and flicked her on the forehead. "Listen to me: they can smell fear. Stay loose, keep your eyes half-lidded and focused on the stage, but keep your head up—it gives off aloof without you having to actually look at anybody. And do nothing fast—sudden moves make them rush the stage."

"I'm confused, are we still talking about contests?"

"I'll tell you later—you're fashionably late as-is."

She turned, took a deep breath as Psyduck and Oddish said something that sounded encouraging. Darkrai was more blunt.

"Break a leg."

Ash started fidgeting as the emcee called for Misty again.

"Maybe she decided she wasn't gonna do it," Ash said, leaning on the balustrade.

"Pika chu," Pikachu noised.

"I don't know, Misty doesn't strike me as the sort to back out of anything," Brock said, keeping Togepi nestled snug in an arm. "She might have stage nerves, but…I don't know."

Ash didn't either, was worried that maybe she had decided against it and they had stood here watching fussy ladies parade around for nothing—

And then someone stepped out onto the stage.

It took Ash a few beats to connect the person on stage with Misty—no suspenders or shorts or tank top, no sneakers and no ponytail, but once he recognized her…he was surprised, honestly. She reminded him of someone else, but he couldn't peg who.

"Wow," Ash noised finally, when she started down the stage—he could recognize that she wanted to hurry, but was forcing herself to go slow, trying to keep the tension out. "Misty…really cleans up nice."

"And how!" Brock agreed, putting his free hand up to his mouth and letting loose a few short whistles. Ash took the cue to start clapping and cheering and yelling go Misty! Pikachu joined in with gusto, as did several others as Misty took a curtsey in front of the judges and headed backstage once more, again looking like she wanted to hurry but staying at a sedate pace.

"Look, Togepi, that's Misty down there," Brock said, pointing.

"Toki toki," Togepi chirped, seeming a little confused.

"That's okay, I didn't recognize her either," Ash said. "But she's the only one without any lace and the battle portion is coming up—she's got this in the bag."