Hello!

Not a ton to say in this foreword, actually, so I'll just let the chapter play out.


Chapter 3


It took a while for Bianca to finally work up the energy to exit out of the bathroom; more than enough time for anyone involved with this entire debacle to key into the fact that she hadn't at all needed to use the restroom, but had been sulking and crying like a child all alone.

She hadn't really expected Cynthia to be waiting for her, but when she pushed the door open and stepped out into the halls of the gym, she found Cynthia leaned against a wall nearby, evidently having been doing just that.

"Ah. Bianca." Cynthia smiled at her. "How are you feeling?"

Bianca debated being honest with her emotions. As per usual, that debate went one singular way. "Fine."

Cynthia's smile waned. "Bianca, I think the both of us know that you are not 'fine'. How are you, really?"

Bianca opened her mouth, closed her mouth, and then, because her mind hadn't had enough of making her look like a complete idiot, opened it again. It hung open for some time before Cynthia nodded her head, and said, "I understand."

Bianca almost wanted to laugh. "You understand?"

"I can't say I've ever been exactly where you're standing, no," Cynthia shook her head. "But I can say I've felt something similar to what you're feeling right now."

Bianca couldn't believe that. Not at all. There was Cynthia, looking like a supermodel and rich as could be, having stayed in a condo that was nicer than Bianca could ever dream of staying in again, and she was trying to convince Bianca that she'd gone through this?

If she hadn't been such a pushover, maybe she'd have even gotten angry about it.

"So, you see now, don't you?" Bianca muttered below her breath, any potential rage falling away and giving way to dejection. "How much of a basket case you've picked up?"

Cynthia's lips creased into a thin line, as if she took offense to such a notion. Bianca wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

"I do not think you are a basket case, Bianca. Nor should you."

Bianca didn't look at her.

Cynthia waited for her to respond, but a few seconds passed by in silence before Bianca heard the sound of Cynthia readjusting her posture, saying, "I assume you remember what I told you about this building being converted into a contest hall as well as a Pokémon gym, correct?"

Bianca nodded, still not looking up.

"Tomorrow, the gym will be closed down, and will remain so, across the next week for a set of contests. You're not going to get a chance to rechallenge Wallace until at least then, given he's practicing for his routine in that very contest on the last day."

Bianca felt the white-hot ball of self-loathing within her grow even hotter.

"Why should I even bother rechallenging him?" She asked no one in particular; perhaps she was talking to herself. "It's clear I don't have what it takes for this. I never did. I should just… just go back to my home town and take my old job back. This just feels… stupid and–"

"The contest being held on Saturday." Cynthia cut her off. "Wallace got you a spot in it."

Instantly, the main feeling coursing through Bianca went from dejection straight to overwhelming anxiety.

"W-What!?" She practically screamed.

"I said that Wallace managed to snag you a spot in the contest a week from now. You and your Pokémon will–"

"I-I know the rules!" Bianca shouted. "I m-meant… me!? A-A contest!? But I'm– I can't enter a contest, I'll make a fool out of myself, and–"

"You won't."

"I w-will!" Bianca fought. "I-I've never entered a contest in my life, and I haven't had any time at all to prepare, and I'll embarrass myself on stage, and they'll all think–"

"They won't." Cynthia cut her off yet again.

She wanted to retort yet again, but she couldn't quite build up the energy to do so. A suspicion was forming in the back of her head, and she allowed her head to fall somewhat as she realized what was likely going on here.

"…This is just your way of saying I'm not cut out for Pokémon battling, isn't it?"

"No." Cynthia said, and she did so with such clarity that Bianca didn't doubt she was telling the truth. "On the contrary, I convinced Wallace to get you into this contest in order to help you in Pokémon battling. Or, well, perhaps your battling will be improved as a result, even if that is not truly the goal."

Bianca let out a frustrated sounding "What?" under her breath.

"I am not asking you to go out and win a Pokémon contest on your very first go, especially not with such little time to prepare. But I believe there is something that the participants of Pokémon contests have that you yourself might be able to gain, were you to enter."

She hated the fact that she perked up somewhat at that; like that little tiny shred of hope was all she needed to believe in the impossible yet again.

"And… what is that?"

"It's not something I can tell you." Cynthia shook her head. "It's something you have to figure out for yourself."

Bianca's lips downturned. "Can you give me a hint, at least?"

"Perhaps once you've actually started, yes." Cynthia said, smirking. "Until then, I'm afraid you and I need to go on a shopping trip."

"W-Why?"

"Well, that's obvious," Cynthia said with a little laugh as she stepped forward, and took ahold of Bianca's lapel.

"You're going to need to look the part!"

/

It turned out that Sootopolis had quite the department store.

It wasn't a particularly ostentatious or imposing building – which was notable in and of itself given that Sootopolis seemed, at least in Bianca's eyes, to be a rather wealthy city – but it was large and spacious, with clothing practically spilling out from every corner.

Cynthia had either been here before, or had far too good a nose for finding what she was looking for.

"What are your colors, Bianca?"

"Colors?"

"The colors you think you look best in." Cynthia stated, in a tone that, to Bianca at least, said she thought such a thing should've been obvious. "For example, my spon– people tell me rather often that I look good in black's and golds. It's the reason my jet is colored the way it is."

Bianca nodded, choosing again not to think too terribly hard about the whole private jet thing.

"So, what would you say are your colors?"

Bianca paused a moment as they continued walking towards the women's section of the store. All around her were beautiful dresses, and skirts, and even some more formal suits and pants. She even spotted jeans with actual pockets, which was akin to finding a shiny Pokémon in the wild, really.

"I guess… I don't really have them?"

Cynthia's brow furrowed somewhat, but she remained silent as they continued onwards.

"Well, would you mind trying out a few outfits I pick out for you?"

"Uhm… I don't really have the money to–"

"I do." Cynthia spoke in a voice that was neither bragging nor particularly humble, either. "And I'm paying for you, since I've gone and dragged you into this. This is all just a test run, anyhow, if you were to get an actual contest uniform, you'd have it custom made for you. We don't have that kind of time, so… you'll be wearing something much more normal."

That was a relief to Bianca, at least. She couldn't have imagined herself in the kinds of flowy and airy outfits that Wallace had been wearing back in the gym. They showed off… quite a bit of skin.

And while some people could pull such things off – and had the abs to match – well, Bianca was fairly certain she was not among them.

"Ah, here we are," Cynthia eventually spoke, gesturing for Bianca to follow her towards a collection of circular racks each with several rather expensive looking outfits hanging from them. "Well, give me something to start with. What's your favorite color?"

Bianca considered a moment, before answering, "Orange, I guess?"

"Okay, orange I can work with…" Cynthia trailed off, beginning to leaf through the displays. It only took her twenty or so seconds to pick one out that was…

"Isn't that a little…" Bianca wasn't quite sure what to say as Cynthia held the flimsy-looking clothing against her body, as if seeing how it would fit on her. "Uhm… risqué?"

"You think so?" Cynthia seemed somewhat surprised. "It's got a bit of a breast window, I suppose."

"A-A bit!?" Bianca couldn't help herself. "I-I'd practically be falling out of myself if I wore that!"

Cynthia chuckled under her breath as she put the dress back, and got back to rifling through the plethora of choices. Bianca herself couldn't help but feel just a little bit useless as she stood off to the side, unable to even contribute to Cynthia, essentially, doing everything for her.

Here she was, buying Bianca clothes, helping her pick out what she wanted, paying for them, and all she could do was… was just stand there.

"Bianca, can I ask you something?"

Not for the first time, Bianca was brought out of her own self-flagellation by Cynthia's voice calling out to her, and she looked up to see Cynthia not holding an outfit, but instead with her arms crossed in front of her chest.

"Uhm… sure, I suppose."

"When did you start wearing coats and hoodies so often?" Cynthia asked, and Bianca found herself caught. "I've never seen you without one, despite the fact that the sun has been beating down on us all day. And even back in Humilau you were wearing one."

"I…" Bianca didn't quite get the line of questioning, but she fought as best she could to dig through her memory to answer it, regardless. "I don't really remember. I've been wearing them since I was younger, certainly."

"And do you normally wear a hoodie, then?"

"I… I suppose."

"I see. Is there a reason behind it?"

Bianca's own brow furrowed, now.

"I don't understand the question, I suppose?"

Cynthia nodded her head, and, without saying another word, turned back towards the displays. She rifled through them for quite a while as Bianca stood there, quite confused.

"Y'know, when I was younger…" Cynthia began all of a sudden. "I was a little bit like you."

Bianca nodded a bit hesitantly. "You said… that I reminded you of how you used to be, right?"

"Mm." Cynthia hummed out in response. "I used to bundle up in rain, snow or sunshine. I used to go everywhere hot, humid, and sweating all of the time."

"…Why?"

"That's a good question." Cynthia said, looking right into Bianca's eyes. "Why do you think?"

Bianca had no idea.

…Or perhaps… perhaps she had an inkling, but didn't quite like the answer said inkling was pointing to.

So, she ignored the inkling.

But she couldn't help but look away from Cynthia's gaze; couldn't help cowering away.

"Well, let's worry about that later," Cynthia said, giving Bianca a much-needed out. "For now, let's keep trying to find an outfit for you here. The tournament's will be going to on all week, and Wallace got you a spot at the end of the card on the final day, so you won't have to perform until Saturday, roughly."

Bianca couldn't help feeling like that wasn't much consolation. So, what if her social-execution came a week from now or tomorrow? She was dead either way.

"Alright." She said instead, not bothering to disguise the doubt in her voice. "So… what do you think I'd look good in."

"That," Cynthia stated, as she went through a few more outfits, clicking her tongue at a few. "Doesn't matter. What matters is what you think you look good in."

Bianca paused a moment. "I'm not exactly…"

Cynthia looked at her, waiting for her to speak. Bianca trailed off, however, unable to finish her own sentence.

"I see." Cynthia eventually said. She was silent for a while, before, eventually, she stepped away from the rack, and took Bianca's hand. "If you don't mind, I think we'll postpone this shopping trip. There's something I want to give to you instead."

"W-What?"

Cynthia smiled, although it was slightly dimmer than what she felt the woman would've normally worn.

"C'mon. I'll show you."

/

Bianca wasn't exactly expecting them to end up back at Wallace's gym/contest hall that evening, and yet, as the two of them stepped into the doors, they turned not towards the arena they had been in earlier, but to an entirely separate wing of the building.

"Where are we going?"

"I think you'll probably figure it out once we arrive." Cynthia stated. "I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise."

Bianca frowned.

They traveled a while longer through well-lit corridors with tiled floors and the scent of chlorine in the air. Eventually, however, they ended up in a room filled with large tanks of water; one which, as Cynthia had stated, she recognized.

"This is an incubator room for water-typed Pokémon." Bianca let out beneath her breath. "It's where water-typed eggs would be stored."

Cynthia nodded her head with a smile. "Seems you're quite knowledgeable about these things."

"Well, it… was my job." Bianca stated, scratching at her face a bit awkwardly. "So… why are we here."

"I'd have thought that would be obvious." Cynthia spoke as she stepped towards one of the smaller tanks, and pressed a few buttons on a console just before it. "We're here for an egg."

"What!?" Bianca couldn't help but show her shock. "What do you mean…"

"For you." Cynthia stated as she turned back around, now holding, as she'd said, a Pokémon egg. "Wallace and I discussed earlier while you were in the restroom. We thought it might be helpful for you."

"…To… raise an egg?"

"Well, not entirely to raise it." Cynthia laughed under her breath. "You see, this egg is set to hatch within the next few days. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it began to break open now."

It must've been Wallace's egg, then, for it to be here. That raised the question of why Wallace was giving it to her, but then, Bianca had more prominent things to worry about than a gym leader's generosity.

"What do you want me to do with it?"

"I want you to use it on your team. I want you to take care of it and strengthen it. I think raising this particular Pokémon will be good for you."

Bianca couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at that. "O…kay?"

"Now, let's head back to the condo," Cynthia said without any ado. "It's late enough as it is, and you've got a big day tomorrow. After all, you've got to start training for the contest!"

Bianca just sighed.

"Sure. Right."

And if Cynthia's expression faltered somewhat… well, Bianca chose to ignore it.

/

Bianca was awoken at roughly three in the morning to Cynthia shaking her body repeatedly. She groaned rather hoarsely, trying to get the woman to lay off of her, but before she could manage to fall back asleep…

"Your egg, it's hatching!"

That… well, that was enough for Bianca to rub at her eyes, sleepily stand, and make her way towards the tank of water they'd set up in the corner of the condo's bedroom.

It wasn't that much of an event, truth be told. Pokémon eggs were rather confined spaces; and they were – to the eternal mystery of many Pokémon Professors the world over – nearly homogenous to all species of Pokémon. Bianca herself had seen a good thousand eggs hatch over her decade and a half or so experience as Professor Juniper's assistant.

Still, she had seen this particular kind of hatching but a handful of times in her life, because…

"A Feebas?" Bianca muttered, even as she looked at the odd coloration of the Pokémon's scales, the way that instead of being brown and blue, it was… "It's… shiny."

A purple and grey Feebas swam around in the small tank they'd set up. A shiny Pokémon; a phenomenon that Bianca herself wasn't entirely familiar with. Professor Juniper hadn't ever spent much time researching such, and thusly Bianca herself hadn't either. Still, she knew some of the basics. Shiny Pokémon were extraordinarily rare, appearing once in every ten-thousandth individual of a species or so.

"That's…" Bianca shook her head. "I shouldn't… I shouldn't have this." She muttered. "Wallace, he… he wouldn't have given this to me if he knew it was going to be–"

"Nope."

"H-Huh?" Bianca turned to Cynthia, who had her arms crossed over her breasts, and a smug smile on her face. "What do you… I'm sure he would have wanted to keep a shiny–"

"Nope." Cynthia drew out the 'n' for a full second. "This Feebas is yours, Bianca. I'm sure you know more than enough about baby Pokémon to know that once they've imprinted on a trainer, that trainer is their master."

Bianca shook her head. "That might be so, but–"

She turned to look at the small tank of water, and found that the shiny Feebas was staring right at her. Its slightly vacant eyes peered at her curiously, as if questioning her intent.

And in the face of that look… all Bianca wanted to do was hide away. She just wanted to crouch down in a corner and run away from all of her troubles. She wanted to pretend as if none of this had ever happened.

Even if there was an insignificant part of her that raged, that warred, that told her to keep going, because maybe, just maybe, this time–

"You're scared, aren't you?"

Bianca was snapped from her own head with a start, and she rounded on Cynthia like a Sawsbuck in the headlights.

"I-I…"

"It's okay to be afraid, Bianca." Cynthia said, more quiet; more reserved than Bianca had ever heard her. "No one's expecting you to just… get this immediately. No one's expecting you to suddenly have it all figured out. Or, well…"

Cynthia stared at her.

"No one but you, that is."

To be called out so blatantly was almost a relief to Bianca. It was painful, certainly, but she dealt with pain so often and so readily that a little bit more of it wasn't so big a deal. And having someone know about what she was going through… it helped, in a way.

So, she voiced her own concerns.

"My friends never had trouble." Bianca stated, trying not to falter now. "No matter what they faced, they kept going. Nothing could stop them; nothing did."

"And you're not them." Cynthia countered. "For better and for worse, you are your own person, Bianca. You cannot compare yourself to others; that won't do you any good."

Bianca just shook her head. "I just… I wish I was more than I am."

Cynthia paused a moment at that, drinking the comment in. It took her a while to nod her head, and say, "I think we all wish that from time to time. To want to be better than you are right now, than who you used to be, is an admirable goal. But when you compare yourself to someone else? Compare your growth to someone else's? All you're doing is causing yourself unjust pain."

Bianca tried to tell herself that what Cynthia was saying was the truth, but she simply couldn't manage it. Her head was spinning round and round like a hurricane, and it was all she could do to give out a weak excuse under her breath and walk back over towards her bed.

"I'm… tired. I'm going to go back to sleep."

Cynthia didn't respond to that. Instead, she watched her as she sunk into her mattress, and nodded her head.

"Okay, Bianca. We can talk more about this tomorrow. Goodnight."

Bianca called back with a goodnight of her own, and pulled the blankets over herself.

She laid there for an uncomfortable amount of time, unable to get to sleep. All she found herself doing was staring at the tank a way's away from her. Within it, the Feebas – her Feebas, a part of her commented – went around and around in circles. It wasn't an environment conducive to a Pokémon quite as large as Feebas was, but given that it would likely only be within the tank for the night, she didn't think it necessarily needed to be relocated.

She watched as it bumped its head against the glass, opened and closed its mouth, and then went back to spinning aimlessly.

Bianca shucked the covers off of her body and made her way towards the tank. Beside it was a Pokéball that Cynthia had placed to store whatever Pokémon was set to come out of the egg, and Bianca, well…

She took it up, and pointed it at the Feebas inside.

It looked up at her before the red stream of the Pokéball's energy could reach it. Its eyes seemed to bore into her own, despite the somewhat absent expression on its face.

Bianca wanted to smile. She wanted to offer some kind of comfort to it.

But more than anything, she was afraid.

So, she looked away as it traveled inside of its Pokéball for the first time, and trekked back towards her bed. She set the Pokéball down beside her Bagon's, and was content to leave things there.

"Hmhm…"

Of course, things couldn't be that easy. She turned and saw that Cynthia was watching her from her own bed, just a way's away from her, chuckling under her breath.

Bianca furrowed her brow at the woman a bit petulantly, but Cynthia just rolled onto her other side, facing away from Bianca. That seemed to be the end of whatever faux conversation they were having, so Bianca rolled her eyes and got herself comfortable again.

This time, it only took her a minute or so to fall asleep.

/

Bianca had sort of expected them to actually go to the contest hall when she'd awoken the next morning and gotten dressed. After all, the first performances were set to start early in the afternoon, and while Bianca herself wasn't actually in the contest for a week, she definitely felt she could use a bit of a head start – if getting a look at her competition this late into things could even be called such a thing.

But no. Cynthia had not taken her to the contest hall.

She had taken the both of them to the beach.

Bianca was completely and utterly confused.

"Uhm…" She felt a bit small as they strolled their way down Sootopolis' white sands. "Shouldn't we be… dropping by the contest hall?"

Cynthia – once again decked out in disguise – hummed something noncommittal out in response. "Maybe. But I don't think that's really all that important, honestly."

Bianca almost scoffed. If she'd had a single confrontational bone in her body, she would've.

Unfortunately for her, Bianca had roughly negative two confrontational bones in her body.

"This here," Cynthia gestured to the beach, to the crowds of people all sitting under umbrellas and playing in the sand, "This is important."

Bianca's lips flapped for a moment as she tried to muster up some kind of counterargument.

"…How?"

"Good question, Bianca." Cynthia smiled at her, before she walked back over towards her, and placed her hand along the small of Bianca's back. "I will answer it once we've both changed into our swimsuits and are lounging in beach chairs."

Bianca felt a thrill of fear rocket down her spine, then, and without thinking, she flinched away from Cynthia's hold. The woman watched her without any shock or surprise, almost as if she'd known Bianca might react that way.

It was unnerving, and it had Bianca collapsing in on herself, her posture shrinking.

"W-Why are–" She swallowed. "I don't… I'd rather I didn't wear a swimsuit."

"Okay." Cynthia didn't fight her. "May I ask why?"

Again, Bianca tried to find the words, but they just wouldn't come. It was all she could do to mutter, "I just… don't."

Cynthia nodded her head, even as she reached out and took Bianca's hand.

"How about… for right now, you come with me?"

"Are we… going to change into swimsuits?"

"We're not going to do anything you're uncomfortable with." Cynthia assured her, despite the way that she looked upon her with some degree of pity.

She led them towards a beachside lavatory. As she stepped inside, she began rifling through her bag, digging out a beautiful frilled one-piece swimsuit that Bianca could already imagine making Cynthia look gorgeous. She handed the bag over to Bianca, and then went into one of the nearby stalls. After about two minutes, she emerged wearing it.

And Bianca's suspicions were proven correct. She was, in fact, gorgeous.

"You look amazing." Bianca stated, smiling smally.

"Thank you." Cynthia said, before she took back her bag, and reached inside of it. "If you wouldn't mind… there's something I wanted you to try on."

Immediately, Bianca felt her pulse quicken, and her gaze darted towards the door; she wondered if she could make a break for it to somehow escape this–

"Bianca."

The words cut her mental planning off, and she turned to see Cynthia looking at her with a completely serious expression.

"I'm not going to make you do anything you don't want to, okay?"

Bianca nodded her head, despite the way that all of this was making her feel like the woman was lying to her.

"I want to ask… why don't you want to wear a swimsuit?"

"I just…" Bianca didn't look up. "I don't… I look…"

Cynthia didn't say anything as Bianca trailed off, but she imagined the woman understood what she'd been trying to say. To Bianca, it made sense. She'd been a shut-in, either in her home or in Professor Juniper's laboratory, going on a decade now. She had once gone on trips to see places in Unova, but…

Well, somewhere along the way she'd stopped doing that. She'd confined herself to Nuvema and ceased trying anything at all.

"May I ask you something?"

Bianca couldn't nod or shake her head. She felt pathetic; utterly pathetic.

"Bianca, do you not want to wear a swimsuit because you're afraid that others would judge you? Judge your body?"

Bianca bit down on her bottom lip, and forced herself to remain stubbornly silent. She felt like some petulant child, refusing to answer Cynthia's question. She was twenty-eight years old; she was more than just an adult; she was supposed to be a respected member of society.

And here she was having a panic attack about some people on a beach laughing at her body.

"…Mhm…" She eventually murmured out below her breath, as much an answer as she could bring herself to provide. "I just… I'm not… I'm shabby."

Bianca expected Cynthia to try and fight her on that. She expected the woman to argue with her; tell her that she was wrong. She expected her to get angry, and storm off, and call all of this off, because obviously, Bianca was a basket case, and Cynthia was so far over her head in trying to build her up that she might as well quite while she still had some semblance of sanity.

She had not expected Cynthia to push into Bianca's guard, and wrap her arms around her in a tight hug.

Yet she felt quite a bit warmer for it.

"Has anyone ever laughed at you for wearing a swimsuit before?" Cynthia asked her after five or so seconds, her face slotted into Bianca's shoulder.

"I…" Bianca thought back to her childhood; the last time she'd really gone out and swam. "N-No, I don't think. Well, maybe a few boys being mean, but that… it doesn't really…"

"Then why do you think that people would laugh at you now?"

It was a hard question to try and formulate an answer to. Incredibly hard.

Mostly because Bianca herself had no idea.

The more she thought about it; the more she applied logic and reason – two of her primary tools as a Pokémon researcher – to the question, the more the cracks and seams of her own feelings began to show.

She had no idea why she was so afraid to put on a swimsuit. She had no idea why she always wore a hoodie wherever she went. She had no idea when she'd put on sweatpants and never really stopped.

"I don't know." She answered into Cynthia's shoulder. "I don't…"

"It's okay." Cynthia stated. "But… I want you to understand something. If you go out there… no one is going to see you."

"What do you…"

"I mean that no one is going to turn their head and watch you, specifically." Cynthia stated. "If anyone did, then I probably wouldn't be able to get by with tying my hair up and wearing sunglasses. But somehow, despite being on a crowded beach surrounded by people, no one's called me out, or noticed my disguise. Why do you think that is?"

"I…"

"It's because no one is going to pay attention to you, Bianca." Cynthia stated with utmost clarity. "No one is going to watch you, and make fun of you. No one is going to track you specifically and point you out. Even if you looked completely ridiculous; and let me assure you, you wouldn't, there isn't a person on that beach who would care."

Bianca felt like a fool, having such an obvious thing pointed out to her.

Because when she thought about it…

She couldn't remember a single bathing suit that she'd seen while they'd been outside. She couldn't remember a single face of a single person that they'd walked by on their way down the beach. Because…

Because they hadn't truly mattered to her. She'd been too caught in her own head, too caught in her own worry, to care about them.

It didn't erase her own fears; for she understood that they were not based in logic. She couldn't just… forget about her anxieties; about the ultimate cause of all of this, which she was gradually beginning to uncover, but…

"…I… do you think I…" Bianca swallowed. "Do you think we could go back to the store and… and try buying another swimsuit?"

Cynthia's face lit up.

"Well, I'd say yes," Cynthia stated, before turning around and rummaging in her bag a moment. "But I already took the liberty of picking out one I thought you'd like."

Cynthia brought from out of her bag an orange one-piece suit, one that was vaguely reminiscent of her own swimsuit, but far more conservative in its cuts. It was far higher in the breast area, and far lower on her rear.

All in all, it would cover Bianca quite well.

…Her bottom lip wobbled, even as she reached out towards it with her hands, and took it up like it was some banner of war.

"I… I'm going to try it on!" She exclaimed with some small determination.

Cynthia's smile was all teeth.

"I'll look forward to it."

/

Three hours – and about a hundred times more sunlight than Bianca had seen in a decade – later, Cynthia and Bianca departed the Sootopolis beach and made their way back towards Phoebe's – whoever Phoebe was – condo.

And Bianca felt…

Well, she didn't feel perfect by any means. In fact, she had quite the headache, she was fairly sure she was sunburnt in multiple places, her swimsuit was filled with sand and was thus chafing in some places she'd really rather not be chafing, and she felt like she could fall right into her bed back at the condo and collapse, despite it being roughly two in the afternoon.

But even so… there was a pride within her breast, no matter how small or insignificant, that had not been there when she'd awoken that morning. A pride that had come from so small a thing; from the tiniest of steps.

But…

But she was moving.

She was moving towards… well, towards some nebulous something.

And it felt good.

"Alright!" Cynthia said as they stepped into the still-way-too-fancy condo, clapping her hands together with a power that had Bianca wincing. "Now that we've got a little more confidence in you, I think it's time we head down to the contest venue! You've got a routine to plan!"

Oh.

Right.

Bianca had somehow almost forgotten about the fact that she was, in just seven short days, set to embarrass herself in front of an audience of contest goers for some unforeseen reason.

This was what it meant to be thrown out of the frying pan, and into the fire, wasn't it?


End Chapter 3


Alright, another chapter of Who We Used to Be in the books!

I'm sure you all can start to see how this story is going to pan out. It's going to involve Pokemon Battling, of course, but that's not going to be the entire scope of the story. Bianca will be partaking in all sorts of things alongside Cynthia, building herself back up as she journey's through the world of Pokemon once more. It's not going to be a quick or instantaneous thing, but then, dealing with trauma or depression aren't either of those things.

Anyhow, I hope you're all enjoying the story!

LEAGUE OF LEGENDS WORLDS UPDATE: HOLY SHIT NRG BEAT G2, WE ACTUALLY MADE QUARTERS!

This is not a drill! North America has made quarters at Worlds yet again! It's only been two years, but it certainly feels a lot longer. Proud of the boys, they're repping our regions quite well.

...I got distracted, what was I talking about again?

Oh, shit, right, Pokemon.

Uh... see you guys for more WWUTB next week!