"Hey Shine! Why doncha read me one of those stories from the book Mama gave me?"
"What, right now?"
"Right right now, pretty please!"
"Alright. I guess we should start with the first one. Fittingly called Part the First. Ahem.
Once, trees grew from blood-soaked soil. After the gods slept, man and Pokemon fought against one another, killing millions, and only then, did their blood mix into the land. From there, they tried to co-exist, but did not entirely mix. Pokemon still could not fully understand man. Language and logic was separate, and so, their worlds remained separate, or so they thought.
In one corner of the earth, a human couple took one lonely egg from the mountain and kept it warm in their cottage. They could not bear children of their own, as the woman was infertile, however, after the egg hatched into a Bonsly, they took care of it as their own. Despite its nature, they adapted by airing out the cottage whenever possible, as Bonsly could not stay too damp, or else, die. Even when forced to hunt Pokemon to sustain themselves for the day in their rickety abode, they spent every other second looking after the Pokemon, so much so, the villagers grew distant from them.
At first, it only spoke in cries and moans. After spending a prolonged amount of time with them, however, they uttered their first word in the human tongue: love. A word abstract and immaterial to most Pokemon, but felt all the same by this one. Although this surprised the two, they welcomed Bonsly with open arms and passed their knowledge down to him, but nevertheless, remained cautious, and warned them to keep silent outside. The idea of Pokemon speaking human, for one thing, was an affront to nature, as it was not by the white god's design, which scared the settlers within their village. Beyond that, it was said that if Pokemon were allowed to speak, they would show themselves as the dominant species and break the great chain of being, and bring chaos unto the world.
By the time the Bonsly evolved into a Sudowoodo, sprouting to double its size, they could converse fully with their surrogate parents, and would question the world, their own existence, and everything both infinitely large and infinitesimal. Although they couldn't answer, the Sudowoodo's curiosity was boundless. They desired to explore the world at large, to see that giant ball of fire sink into the sea, to see campfires shine brilliant lights in empty woods, and to see flares shoot into the sky from wayward ships for Dragonite to drag to safety.
Despite their wishes, their surrogates would not allow their leave. They could not enforce it, only persuade against, and so, they obeyed, for the moment. While they slept, the Sudowoodo ventured outside and talked to the villagers, who reacted with ire and commanded their Pokemon to attack. They hid in plain sight by turning into a tree, allowing their escape. Once they returned home, however, their cottage was in flames. Their surrogates kneeled down in front of the chief, who summoned a pair of Houndoom at their feet from their binding spell, ready to attack. The Sudowoodo charged through the mob to meet their surrogates and pleaded with the chief, begging them to leave their loved ones alone. The chief only saw something unnatural, and commanded the Houndoom to fire. The Sudowoodo caught alight, in front of their parents who taught them the very thing that destroyed their home. Before they burned out completely, through the flames, the Sudowoodo stood in the middle of the mob's circle and spoke thus.
"You came with your swords, torches and predators, I came with my human tongue. I might be the first to speak your language, but I will certainly not be the last. These words will spread on like wildfire even after I burn out."
They turned to ash, as did their surrogates, and so, the village moved on while the cottage's remains laid still. The two Houndoom, however, learned to understand their master, and devoured them before fleeing that land, roaming the wild away from human civilization."
"Well, that was kinda depressing, but kinda cool too, like she used to tell me! Can we read the next page?"
"Go on. We have time before our next lesson."
"Thanks. I could listen to you read for ages, you know."
"Hm, I guess that's a good thing."
A white light shone into the space and soon enough, Shine's paws touched the floor once again as everything came back to him: the Claws that tore at his body, the air that smelled of sugar, and Curio. She stood to his right with her arms crossed, looking at one of the nurses, except it clearly wasn't Nurse Joy if the pink stubble was anything to go by.
"Well," Curio said in her distinct human tongue, "We free to go now? You've kinda been keepin' me here all night, with no good movies or anythin'. The entertainment's really weak here, you know."
"Um, okay," the male nurse said, "but everything looks fine, and his leg's healed up now, so go for it."
"Awesome." Curio headed out of the treatment bay through to the main hall with her satchel bag in tow, as Shine followed after her. His leg no longer burned when he applied pressure on it, but he shambled out of the room to try and catch up with her, eventually walking by her side. The sunlight beamed in from the windows at the entrance bay, so he must've been there the whole night.
Shine's heart pumped rapidly. He was finally alone with Curio and could ask about what happened at GeL and how she got on since then, but when he opened his mouth to speak, no words came out, even though his questions lingered on. Curio didn't respond either, walking out of the Pokémon Centre into Dendemille's daylight, and only when they were out, Curio stopped and turned to face Shine for the first time.
"Um, Curio?" he said.
"Yeah, it's me," she said with a frown, and knelt down to his level. "So, do you mind telling me what the hell you were thinking last night?!" She grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him violently.
"I, uh, I was looking for you, I heard—"
"Yeah, I know that much. Barley said you went snoopin' around, and that's fine and all, but letting yourself become that Meowth's ransom shouldn't have been on your to-do list! So I'll ask again, what were you thinking?"
"Um." He pieced together last night's events quickly under Curio's gaze, and remembered he ran into the streets when he heard of her whereabouts, therefore leading him to the gang of diseased cats of his own accord. Finally, he let out a defeated sigh.
"Sorry, what I did was stupid. I looked for you all day and found nothing, so when Luccy told me, it must've gotten to my head. I had no excuse."
"You idiot." She looked scornful for a moment, then burst into laughter and wrapped her arms around Shine's body. "Stupid, crap for brains, idiot." She leaned in closer to Shine to the point where the tip of her spike touched his chest. Somehow, he trusted her enough not to impale him.
"Oh sunshine, it's good to see you again."
That nickname came back to him, as he suddenly remembered Curio used it on him during the facility days. He smiled and stood on the tips of his hindpaws, joining her embrace.
"And you. I don't even know where to start. Are you alright with that arm? What were you doing all this time? How did you end up here? Why—"
"Oh c'mon, we'd be sitting here all day if I told you everything." Curio released Shine and the two made eye contact again. "Besides, I've got places to be."
"Yeah, nothing important, so let's just walk and talk for now. That'll be a surprise for later." Curio stood and led the way as Shine followed by her side.
Again, he was at a loss for what to say. He glanced at a few of the passers-by on his side, who was surprised to see they paid no attention to the two strutting Pokémon, and in general, the citizens were less downcast and more eager to smile. Then he remembered how apprehensive they were around him when the Thousand Claws still inhabited the city and how Curio drove them out. That was a good place to start.
"Sorry you had to drag me to the Pokémon centre," he said, "I wish we met under less desperate conditions."
"Well," Curio said, "Them's the breaks, I guess. Hopefully we won't have to deal with those guys ever again. Hopefully."
"You mean you don't know?"
"Eh, they're slower than a buncha Slowpoke in a race, but I'm sure they get the hint."
"Still, it's amazing you knew exactly what to do."
"Wanna know something even more amazing? I didn't know. That was just a fluke as far as I'm concerned."
"Anythin' could've gone wrong. What was stopping them from just pouncing on me and killing me to take the bag right away, huh?"
Curio stuck her tongue out.
"They were so damn annoying. I couldn't find a place to sleep at night the first few days I was here. Even the police were on my tail even though I didn't do jack. I shook 'em off eventually, but before that, it was mostly rough sleeping, more than any other city I've been to in this region, 'til I found Barley."
"Well." He looked up at her. "I'd love to hear it all someday. It sounds like you've been on so many adventures already."
The disgust flushed itself from Curio's face and she flashed Shine a toothy grin.
"You bet. My weeks beat most people's years, both humans and Pokémon."
"Including jumping off of Jubilife Tower, apparently?"
"Eh, long story, but hey, we're here!"
Curio stopped outside a glass window with the silhouette of a Pikachu on a sign nearby. They opened the door with a bell ringing past them. As Shine walked in, he sniffed at the different scents of coffee beans, cheese and buttermilk wafting from the kitchen, and his stomach rumbled. He hadn't eaten since his excursion to the inn the night before.
"Hold on just a second," Curio said, "They're upstairs."
"They?" Shine added.
A uniformed girl dashed out from behind the counter, and a Pikachu bounced behind her.
"Sorry," she said, "I've gotta run! Have fun!"
The Pikachu gave a shrill cry of goodbye as the girl exited the cafe, then turned to the two patrons and bounced up and down on the floor near Curio's legs.
"Curio!" he said, "Continuing lesson, yes?"
She nodded. Pikachu glanced at Shine briefly and scurried behind Curio, poking his head out with a perplexed look.
"Never seen Pokémon like that before! What are you?"
"A Luxray. My name is Shine. It's nice to meet you, fellow Pikachu."
"Ooh, Shine! Shine! Love that name!" Pikachu skittered across the smooth floor and climbed on top of the counter again, disappearing behind the workspace. Shine looked around the yellow painted insides of the cafe, marked with all sorts of scribbles on the walls, and the locals were focused on themselves, ignoring the presence of the Pokémon there.
"Nice place," he said.
Shine followed Curio to the counter where a tanned pudgy man leaned behind it, waving at her with a hairy arm.
"Ay!" he said, "What's the plan for today?"
"Same as before," Curio said. "Say, can you fix up somethin' for my friend here?"
The man peered over the bar and looked down to Shine, moustache twitching.
"Maybe, but that depends if his kind is lactose intolerant."
"Actually," Shine said,"I've had plenty of dairy myself and I can safely say I've never had any problems with it."
The man gave him a wide smile. "Just my luck, another one! Barley knows how to pick 'em!" He stopped to lift the bar stand and waved at the two, disappearing into the hissing coffee machines. Shine followed Curio into a barren looking break room with a low cut table in the middle and a small bed filled with plushes in the corner where Pikachu sat, and he joined Curio on the floor opposite the yellow rodent.
"So you're a teacher?" Shine said.
"You're givin' me too much credit, you know. I just go wherever Barley has work for me, talk to the Pokémon for a bit and get a day's grub out of it. I'd rather just be doin' my own thing, but eh, it beats hunting to get by."
"I know the feeling."
The two chatted idly until the pudgy man stomped in with a basket of croissants and laid them at the centre of the table, where the Pikachu jumped up to the edge.
"I'll get some water too!"
The man left the three Pokémon to their breakfast. Pikachu immediately tore into it, leaving a mess of flakes on the surface, while Curio took a few paws worth of croissants and laid some on the floor beside Shine while she attended to hers. When Shine nibbled at the tip of his croissant, he bit into a layer of creamy cheddar. He looked over to Curio with a wide eye.
"This is stunning!" he said as she held hers out.
"Right? I couldn't have picked a better place to teach if I tried!" She took a big bite out of one end and pulled back, making a string of cheese dangle from the middle of the pastry.
After Shine finished eating every last morsel of croissant he could and drank his fill from a bowl, he was full again. He yawned and felt satisfyingly tired; with the tingle of cheese still on his tongue and the sweet smells drifting in from the kitchen, he could have curled up into a ball and slept on the spot right there.
Before he lost himself in his reverie, Curio's knuckle rapidly rubbed at his head.
"You're one sleepy bugger, aren't you?"
"What does a creature like me usually do after it's had a nice meal? It's only natural."
"Eh, excuses. You know, you could leave if you don't wanna stick around."
"Not after finding you. I wouldn't miss this for the world." Of course, he hadn't told her about his plans to start teaching the Goodra back at Ambrette, but he put it aside for another occasion when he could speak to Curio about how he came to find her.
"Suit yourself." Curio shrugged and turned to Pikachu. "So, been trainin' recently?"
Pikachu tapped his rosy cheek with a thoughtful expression, and opened his mouth to say something, but hesitated, then opened it again.
"Little. Trainer young."
"Is she even allowed to do that yet?"
"No. Out school. Sometimes, train alone."
"What do you usually get to battle?"
"Street Pokemon. I battle. Mostly lose."
"It ain't easy when you're starting out."
"Feel small. Em..."
Pikachu stopped, scrunching up his soft, round face.
"Em-barr-ass-ing," Shine chimed in. "It's pronounced embarrassing." Pikachu gave Shine an unsure look, to which Curio leaned in and spoke in his ear.
"I'm not too hung up on that stuff yet," she said. "Just let him speak as well as he can and he'll get it right over time."
Curio pulled away from him and continued her conversation, the start of many to come. In the span of a few hours, they talked about things such as what Pikachu's to-be trainer did outside of school, what his relationship was with her father, also the owner of the cafe, what friends Pikachu made out in the town square, how he started using Curio's teachings to impress said friends, and a story about how Pikachu ended up being chased by a Purrloin at night and lived to squeak about it another day.
What Shine noticed about the way Curio spoke to her student was how she would let them go uninterrupted without correcting them for ages, despite their many odd pronunciations and grammar mistakes. Although he had the urge to interrupt, he suppressed it and thought about how he would go on to teach the dragon horde later, occasionally asking Pikachu a few questions of his own.
When the shift was over, Curio stood up and said her goodbyes to Pikachu as she exited out the back and Shine followed after her into the sunlight. They walked out of the alleyway as Curio dribbled a can down the road.
It was past noon and Shine still had a whole day and a bit left to get Curio to come back to Ambrette with him, which seemed harder the longer he hung out with her. She had a life in Dendemille, as she appeared to do well as a teacher, had built a reputation with the townsfolk, either positive or negative, and found plenty to do despite the town's rurality. Not once did she mention GeL during that whole talk.
"Fancy goin' down the park later?" Curio asked, interrupting his thoughts. "There's supposed to be a band there. It's free!"
"We could, but I need to tell you something important."
Curio kicked hard, sending the can flying into the air which landed in the distant streets.
"Oh boy, here we go. Out with it, then."
"It's about how I got here. Doesn't it seem odd to you that I just happened to be in Dendemille the same time as you?"
"Not really. Could've just been complete coincidence as far as I care."
"Well, it was no coincidence. I saw you got into a bit of trouble with those Claws in the news."
"I was in Ambrette Town at the time. As soon as I read what happened, I flew into Dendemille to try and find you."
Curio stopped short of entering the road where cars passed by, and knelt down to Shine with a questioning look.
"You don't have wings, do you?"
"No, but I looked all day to find you and-"
"Just cut to the chase, Shine."
"Oh, I," he stammered. "My trainer's doing research on the GeL facility and we need to interview you all the way back in Ambrette."
At that moment, Shine saw that look in her eyes for the first time in years, the way her pupils dilated, making them look as if they were lost in a sea of green. It was the first time since they reunited that Curio looked visibly fearful. Not even the confrontation last night stirred her. She exhaled, as if she was about to say something, but set her eyes back on the road, wordless. With that, he realised he just crossed a line. His approach might have been too direct, or that he essentially asked her to travel half the region with him unannounced, or that he reopened old wounds just with the mere mention of the word 'GeL', but for whatever reason, the fingers on her metal arm twitched mechanically, clicking with each micro-movement, then abruptly stopped.
"Crap." Her tone was flat and raspy. "I knew you were going to say that. Was that what you came here for, then, to dig up the past?"
"Absolutely not!" Shine protested. "I couldn't believe my eye when I saw you alive. After everything that happened, all I wanted to know was how you were doing all this time."
"Oh really? Do you even remember the time we spent there, all the times I looked after your scrawny ass, and the times you read to me in the library, and all that other stuff?"
"Why, I- I.." He faltered to find the right words. What Curio talked about did happen, but he only remembered those crucial moments in broad strokes, except for reading that book that previously belonged to her mother. "Some parts. My trainer-"
"Yeah yeah, I guess your trainer told you to come here and drag me over to him, huh? Just like any good Pokémon following its orders."
"I, um..." Shine's maw hung open. He knew Curio would be a little apprehensive to revisit her past, but this came out of nowhere.
"Shine, I need a moment alone. Meet me at that park later. Don't follow me."
Curio stepped into the road, passing through two lanes of cars that stopped suddenly in a cacophony of honks, with drivers shouting obscenities at her from open windows as she yelled equally vulgar insults at them in their tongue. Shine was about to run after her when the traffic continued, leaving him at that side of the road while Curio disappeared down the other. He was alone again.
For the next hour or so, he wandered aimlessly through the streets in the hopes he'd eventually stumble across Curio, but like yesterday, the streets were sparsely populated, and the townsfolk and their Pokémon drifted in and out with indifference. His thoughts bubbled, thoughts of what he should have said, what he shouldn't have said, the way he said them, all stewing in a cauldron of blame and self pity. His movements slowed and at a certain point, he stopped, ignoring the passers-by.
What stung the most was how suddenly it all happened, from Curio's transformation to her disappearing in seconds. He didn't know how the years changed her or how she moved on GeL, but he didn't expect for her to immediately reject his idea. He replayed the conversation back in his head, going back to the moment before Curio took off, then his eye widened. She not only said that, she also referred to Tony as 'him'. Shine continued walking, not paying attention to whoever was beside him. Why would Curio assume his trainer was indeed a he if Shine himself never said anything of the sort? There were three explanations. It was either coincidence, the power of her aura, or even worse, she had somehow met Tony before. How?
A weight dropped on Shine's back. He grunted, fumbling around for a bit before regaining his balance, and something tugged on the tufts of his back.
"Hey eye-guy!" It was the Quilladin from last night.
"Hello," Shine said, shaking his shoulders, "Would you mind getting off of me?"
"Mush, eye-guy, mush!" He pulled on his fur, making Shine thrash around in an attempt to shake him off. Before him, the familiar barbed tail swished in the air, meaning Barley had come along too, perched on the shoulders of his trainer, who stared at his phone.
"You don't want to be zapped, do you?" Barley said with a wink. The weight lifted off of Shine's back and Quilladin scurried away beside the trainer's legs.
"What are you all doing here?" Shine said, in human tongue in case the trainer had something of note to say.
"Curio told us there was someone playing at the park soon," Barley said, "We weren't that busy so we thought, why not?"
"I don't suppose she said anything else, did she?"
Barley shook his head. "She left. Again, she goes where the wind takes her. So I take it you managed to find her?"
"Yes, last night. She won't talk to me now, though. I must've upset her somehow."
"Well," Quilladin chimed in, "You better come along with us and give us the spicy details!"
Shine blinked. He was heading to the same place as them, and at that point, his legs were somewhat tired from dashing from place to place in vain.
He joined the group, following behind Barley and his trainer along with Quilladin who walked by his side. The two partners chatted to each other in human tongue, mostly about club matters, managing donations and partly about the local events the trainer found on the news. Although Shine couldn't tell how Barley came to learn to speak human, he was fairly fluent at it, although it was hard to tell what they were saying sometimes as they used a lot of lingo such as 'homie' to address each other. If he had to guess, his trainer probably taught him himself, though he wasn't certain.
"Hey," Quilladin said, turning Shine's attention away from the two. "So what's troubling ya?"
Shine moaned, thinking about how to phrase what happened. Even though GeL was the part that triggered Curio, he didn't want to tell anyone else about its existence yet. Again, he had to settle for a convenient half-truth.
"I asked her if she wanted to come back to Ambrette with me and my trainer, but she seemed really upset about the fact I was with one in the first place."
"Eh, chicks," Quilladin said, "To be fair, she wasn't too friendly with Barley's trainer either. The vibe of the room got really awkward when those two first talked, but they're fine now, so I dunno."
Shine hummed to himself. It wasn't surprising for her to be apprehensive towards humans, as he did when he first left. He looked in front of him and noticed the absence of a certain stick in the tail.
"Where's your friend?"
"Bleh." Quilladin squinted his eyes, baring his chipped fangs. "We're not friends anymore. He thinks he's all fire just because he can win a human's game."
"Ah, that's unfortunate to hear." It would've been more accurate to call Quilladin a sore loser, if that flipped table was of any indication, but Shine thought of saying otherwise.
They reached the park which had a full crowd this time with a mix of mostly young trainers and Pokémon sitting beside each other on the grass, and the stage had musical equipment set up, although the band members weren't present yet. When Shine went to sit with his group, he was surprised to see both the Pikachu and Leafeon together. He called over to them and the two scurried over to him, with Pikachu in particular pouncing on him, and licking his face, who couldn't help but laugh.
"You're tickling me, stop!"
Pikachu complied and Shine stood up again, looking at the two Pokémon. He questioned whether or not it was habit in Dendemille for Pokemon to pounce onto each other.
"I guess Curio told you to come here as well."
"Bingo," Leafeon said, then cocked her head. "As well?"
Shine turned his head to the other group, who were stood up. Pikachu looked up and beamed at the sight of Barley, who glided off his trainer's shoulder and joined claws with the electric rodent as the rest sat down.
After that, the group talked idly for what seemed like ages during the waiting period. Leafeon talked mostly about her situation with the caretaker, Pikachu talked about Curio's lesson with Barley, who relayed it back to his trainer, while Quilladin revealed his situation to Shine: his trainer was taking care of family matters out of town, whereas he chose to stay with Barley for a little bit while the dust settled. Plus, a little bit of unsuccessful flirting from Quilladin to Leafeon. Although Shine talked little about himself, listening to the others distracted him from his own head space and softened the blow of Curio's sudden leave.
The band counted in and the music started with a strong drum beat. It was nothing special as it was just generic rock, not even something he'd consider putting on the radio, but it was quiet enough to talk over, yet loud enough to enjoy. In the middle of the first song, Curio appeared from behind the bushes.
She made her way to the crowd, who swayed back and forth to the music, and started jumping in place, which eventually broke out into a dance. The crowd steered clear of her, obviously not wanting to get accidentally impaled, forming a circle around her. She didn't pay attention to the onlookers, or the little Pokémon that joined her jig by her feet, as she was occupied in her own world.
Seeing this play out in front of him, Shine forgot his present worries for the moment and couldn't help but smile. Curio was enjoying herself and didn't care what others thought of her. Shine felt a tinge of envy at this, as he wouldn't have drawn attention to himself that way, and couldn't have danced even if he wanted to since he wasn't bipedal.
He shook his head. Shine had more pressing issues to take care of. He needed to find out why Curio left him behind earlier and why she brought all the Pokémon to the park.
"She's got some moves, hasn't she?" Leafeon said.
"Er, yeah, sure," Shine said as he stood up. "I need to talk to her, I'll be back."
"I'll come with," Quilladin said.
"Me too!" Pikachu said.
The three joined the crowd and pushed past their legs to where Curio was. When they arrived, Quilladin joined inside the circle and mingled with the other Pokémon while Pikachu danced in place.
"Hey!" Shine called out to Curio as she spun in place. She didn't stop.
"Curio!" he shouted. She spun around and smiled.
"Oh Shine!" she said. "C'mon, dance!"
Curio picked him up by his forepaws and jumped around. His movements were unsteady, barely keeping himself balanced on the pads of his paws as Curio jerked him up and down.
"Why'd you bring us here?" he said.
"I said, why'd you bring us here?!"
"Sorry!" Curio said with a grin, "Still can't hear ya!"
"Dammit Curio!" he shouted, "I know you can read my thoughts, just tell me what's going on!"
The song ended. Curio stopped her dance, letting go of Shine, and frowned.
"Jeez, you're a downer today. Alrighty, lead the way."
Shine ran back to his earlier spot and the rest followed behind him as the concert continued in the background. Everyone was seated around Curio.
"That was amazing!" Pikachu said, who could barely sit down. "Can we do that again?"
Curio patted his head.
"After we deal with this guy." Curio turned to Shine, stone faced and serious.
"You heard me. Fight me. If you win, I'll come along with you and do your stupid interview."
"It's not stu-"
Curio raised her paw to stop him.
"If I win, I get to stay here. You got that?"
It took him a few seconds to realise what this meant, and when he did, it felt as if something hard had smacked Shine across the face.
"But, but that means I might never see you again!"
"Sure you will. I might get into a scrape or two after that and be in the news again. Who knows, I might make it on the front page someday! You'll find me that way!"
"That's not the point! I didn't come here to see you for the first time in ages only to have you disappear!"
Curio revealed her fangs. She narrowed her eyes, her left twitching as if it had a mind of its own.
"Yeah, now you know what it feels like, Shine! It sucks, doesn't it?"
"Ooooh!" Quilladin exclaimed.
He was at a loss for words. He could tell Curio was furious at him, but he couldn't pinpoint the reason why, as the memories of his escape were still fuzzy, except for the aftermath.
"Hey Pikachu, what's your face?" Quilladin chimed in. "Can you go get us some popcorn? I'm enjoying this lover's quarrel."
"In your dreams!" Both Curio and Shine said in unison. She laughed, and her expression lightened up a bit.
"That's my only offer, Shine. Besides, there's a battle park right by us. I've already got a spot for us to fight in when the third bell strikes."
"Lots of people will be watchin' too. I practically asked the whole town." She turned to the spectators who sat in stunned silence, especially Barley's trainer. "So basically, if you haven't been clued in, we're fightin' in that park, and you and every Pokemon are coming along to watch, kay?"
"We are?" all of them said.
"Yup, just so you can pick sides. Any one of you can be Team Curio or Team Shine. Preferably Team Curio."
"This is silly," Shine said. "What is this supposed to prove?"
"Nothin'. But you can always run with your tail between your legs if you don't want to face me. What's it going to be, Shine?"
Shine gazed at her with a wide eye. There wasn't once lick of irony in her tone or expression; she was really prepared to take every measure to put him in a difficult spot.
He gave himself a moment to process what he was about to do. He was about to enter in a fight with an old friend of his, with little explanation as to how or why she organised it, all in order for her to agree to his bargain. There was no way he would go back home empty handed, as his journey would've been for nothing. A part of him questioned how he would take her on considering she could read him like an open book, but when he decided what he would do, Shine presented his paw to Curio with a smile.
"I'm in," he said. Curio took his paw in hers and shook it firmly.
"Awesome." She let go. "Be there or be square."
Before Shine could ask her anything else, Curio left him and the rest of the gang behind, and Pikachu joined her to meet the crowd near the stage. When she started her dance again, Shine sighed and slumped to the ground.
He felt there was a deeper motive behind her carefree attitude. The way she was so dismissive of Shine told him she was actively dodging the question, either not wanting to deal with the GeL situation or was vengeful against him for some unknown reason. There was so much he needed to know he didn't get the chance to ask; how she got to Kalos was still a total mystery. However, if he wanted another chance to resolve those burning questions, he would have to defeat her in a fight, or lose his chance to recapture his past indefinitely. Shine took a deep breath. What had he gotten himself into?