A quick stop at the Center, and Evangeline was heading north out of town. The bag case conveniently enough clipped to her bag so while it was on display, it wasn’t in the way or showing signs of opening by mistake. She didn’t make it too far though before she was stopped, this time by a woman who looked a good deal like the Gym Leader that she’d just faced, just with slightly darker hair and dressed in dark colors. “Oh, you… You are, aren’t you? You’re one of the kids who got a Pokémon from Augustine Sycamore, right?”
“Oh, yeah, that’s me,” Evangeline said, tilting her head. “Can I help you?”
But the stranger was easily distracted. “Would you look at that! You got the Bug Badge! Looks like I might have a new scoop.” She winked, and tapped her chin with one finger. “To beat Viola at your young age… You really are something, aren’t you?”
Flushing, Evangeline fidgeted with her bag strap. “Not really,” she mumbled. “I mean, I’d like to think I’m a good trainer, but I’m just starting out.”
“Still, you did fantastic for your first Gym battle. Oh! Sorry, I never did introduce myself, did I? I’m Alexa. The Gym Leader you just faced, Viola, is my younger sister.” That explained the resemblance. “I work as a journalist myself.” And that explained the nosiness.
“I’m Evangeline,” she introduced herself with a quick nod. “Thank you for your compliments.”
“It’s no problem. I work at the big publishing house up in Lumiose City. Feel free to stop by anytime if you have the next big scoop to share with me!” Alexa tilted her head. “Though I take it if I want to run an article to embarrass my sister a little, she’ll already have a bunch of photos for me? You look like the type she loves to take pictures of.”
Evangeline flushed even darker. “Yes.”
Laughing, Alexa patted her shoulder comfortingly. “She’ll at least ask before she displays them anywhere. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rub it in that she lost like the good big sister I am.” She waved and walked back into town in the direction of the gym.
Shaking her head, Evangeline took off towards Route 4, which according to signs was also called Parterre Way. The center piece was an impressive fountain featuring Horsea, and several gardens and hedge mazes. And trainers training among them! She also ran into a Budew among the flowers. Hiromi almost scorched it to death, but it still bravely railed against them. Holding the lion cub back, Evangeline threw a Pokeball and caught the brave little fellow.
“Budew, the Bud Pokemon,” her Pokedex piped up. “When it feels the sun’s warm touch, it opens its bud to release pollen. It lives alongside clear pools.”
“Huh,” she mused, looking down at Hiromi. “It must have been attracted by the fountain.”
She went ahead and let her new catch out to meet him. Naive and laid back, he and Kakashi were pretty quickly friends. Evangeline made a note not to let them double team her into taking a lot of breaks, they’d never get anything done with those two in charge of the team. He took the nickname Haruka, which she thought suited his rather feminine Pokemon type and gender both.
Another surprise came after one of the battles, against a gardener named Fabian. Cho once again glowed, and Evangeline didn’t cover her eyes again, knowing what was happening this time. She guessed the trainers at Santalune City Gym weren’t kidding about how quickly Bug Types could evolve!
With a flash of wings, Cho broke the light aura to show off her new form: Vivilion, the same pattern to her wings as Viola’s. “Vivilion, the Scale Pokemon,” her Pokedex declared. “Vivillon with many different patterns are found all over the world. These patterns are affected by the climate of their habitat.”
“Huh,” she said out loud, and smiled at Cho. “Well, I’m proud of you, Cho.”
“Thank you,” the newly hatched butterfly Pokemon preened, admiring her own new wings. “Wow, they are so pretty! And look, they match you!”
“They do,” Evangeline agreed, looking over them. They seemed well formed, which is all she worried about. Beauty was a bonus. “I wonder if that pattern is just for this area of Kalos, or if it has a wider change.”
“We’ll meet wild ones, I’m sure,” she said dismissively, with one last spin. “Okay, let’s keep going!”
Laughing, Evangeline agreed and they took off back down the path again. Evangeline slowed down, though, when she saw two people waiting at the end of the path, both in white suit-type uniforms. The blonde boy wore a blue tie, the dark girl a red one. She slowed down on her skates, unsure of what was happening.
The boy noticed her first. “Hello there!” he greeted warmly. “Have you ever heard of a Pokemon called Flabébé?”
Evangeline shook her head. “No, I didn’t run into one on this route,” she said.
“So, you haven’t seen one yet…” he said with a sigh, but didn’t lose his smile. “Well, that’s something you can look forward to!”
The girl butted in, perhaps sensing Evangelin’s confusion. “Flabébé is–now brace yourself–a Fairy Type Pokemon!”
Evangeline tilted her head. Was there something in her ears? She swore this girl just said a type of Pokemon that didn’t exist.
“It’s true! Fairy Type is a new Pokemon type that was just classified recently,” the boy insisted.
“This turned the entire type-match-up on it’s head!” the girl said, sounding excited.
Evangeline shook her head, but gathered herself quickly. She hadn’t heard about this on the boat ride over, but it was exciting. “Do you know how it’s affecting things?” she asked.
They shook their heads. “We’ve been battling Fairy Types against other types of Pokemon at Professor Sycamore’s request, but we’re still figuring out the specifics. Oh! I’m Sina, by the way. A beautiful name for a beautiful lady.” She tossed the edges of her bob, making Evangeline grin. It reminded her of Cho and her new wings.
“I’m Dexio,” the boy said with a more shy smile. “Two years ago, Professor Sycamore entrusted me with a Pokedex. You could call me a Pokemon-voyage veteran.”
Evangeline laughed, and couldn’t help herself. She gave him a formal bow like she would one of the trainers back home. “Hai, senpai,” she said teasingly.
Despite the language barrier, that bit of Japanese had apparently traveled to this region too. Dexio flushed, and Sina twittered, obviously trying not to laugh too hard at her friend. She got herself under control again soon enough. “If you’d like, we’ll show you the way to the lab,” she offered, and Evangeline quietly nodded. “Okay, come along now,” she said cheerily.
Evangeline hurried to take her blades off as she followed after them, strapping them to her bag for now. As they walked, Dexio asked politely, “So how are you and your Froakie getting along?”
“I think Kakashi and I are doing alright together,” she said, rubbing her elbow. He hadn’t voiced any complaints to her, or to the others that she had overheard. Nurse Joy hadn’t said anything at the Center either…
Dexio just hummed. “Well, the more you walk around with your Pokemon, the stronger your friendship will become.”
“Quit being a grump,” Sina scolded. “Right through this gate and you’ll be in Lumiose City!”
Evangeline managed to smile at her enthusiasm, uncertain why they were building this place up so much. A Pokemon lab wasn’t going to make the town that much bigger, was it?
She sucked in her breath as she walked through the doors. Tall buildings, crowded streets with trees scattered down the median… This was an actual city, not just a town with attitude. Evangeline was suddenly very glad for guides, or else she would have gotten lost.
Sina grinned at her elbow. “I’ll go ahead and wait in front of the lab for you,” she said, before taking off at a jog down the street. Evangeline managed a dumb nod belatedly, and Dexio got his chuckle at her. Flushing, she quickly walked ahead to follow Sina.
Thankfully, she hadn’t gone too far out of sight, and there were Pokeball-shaped signs that set the building apart from the neighboring ones easily. Sina still managed to gesture to it as if it weren’t obvious. “This building is the Sycamore Pokemon Lab,” she confirmed. “Let’s go inside!”
“Right,” Evangeline said, reflexively reaching up as if to smooth her hair down. It was finally time to meet this region’s professor. She hoped he was nice…
In the pristine lobby, Sina told her the professor was in his office on the third floor, with the elevator being the fastest way up. Evangeline waved good-bye and walked into the elegant, almost retro elevator with the way it was free-standing. The third floor came up way too fast. The white marble floors continued, along with the sapphire blue walls, the cool color scheme broken up by the red rugs.
The professor himself was waiting. A tall, thin man, his hair was dark and wavy, his clothes stylish but professional. He was younger than what she expected for a professor, and seemed much more charismatic than the crusty professor type like Professor Oak back in Kanto. “So, we finally meet!” he said with a smile. “Fantastic. Come this way, won’t you?” he asked, gesturing for her to follow him.
“Um, of course,” she said, flushing and hurrying after him. She was still baffled about how he knew who she was, so much so that he was able to recognize her on sight!
“Many thanks for coming all this way,” he told her as they reached what was obviously his desk rather than just his research room, private and away from any assistants. “As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’m Professor Sycamore. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Evangeline.”
“The same for me,” she managed to stutter out, flustered at being the center of such sincere, enthusiastic attention.
“How is your Pokemon journey going so far? Have you met many different Pokemon?” he asked, moving to sit on the edge of his desk.
She fidgeted awkwardly with a curl of her violet hair that decided now was an excellent time to fall over her shoulder. “Oh, I suppose,” she murmured. “About as many as you’d expect to see, between here and Vaniville…”
“Oh? Let me have a quick look at your Pokedex and see,” he said, holding out his hand.
She fumbled removing it from her bag, and handed it to him with a flush.
He flipped it open and appraised what she had seen. With a hum, he handed it back with a grin. “It’s starting to look good,” he assured her, making her blush darken. He appraised her from head to toe. “Well now,” the professor noted. “You do have a certain je ne sais quoi. I have a good feeling about you!”
Rather than being complimented, she narrowed her eyes at him. That sounded like he knew more than he was letting on.
He didn’t seem daunted by her expression. “At first, I was thinking of choosing only one child from that town when I was deciding on who to give a Pokemon to. It was going to be the child of pair of Veteran trainers that I know who live there.” She huffed, knowing he meant Xavier. Sycamore smiled a little at her response. “But then, I heard that new people were moving in, and did a little investigating…”
She cringed. Oh no… “How much do you know?” she whispered.
“For such traditional parents, you dress very modern,” he said simply, which was enough. She groaned, covering her face with her hands. “You have to admit, it was too tempting. Here you are in the Kalos region, far from everything you know. Away from your parents, both Gym Leaders who inherited their positions from their parents and grandparents and further back, in a lineage most people would kill for, but you refused the prestige or the help.” He tapped his chest over his heart. “That really hit me right here.”
“And completely ruined the point of why I came here,” she pointed out.
“I’m not about to announce to the world that the daughter of Violet City’s Falkner and Fuchsia City’s Janine is traveling through the region,” he said with a scoff of his own, then giving her a wink. “Instead, I decided to give you a Pokemon so you could go on the journey you so obviously wanted. Was I wrong?”
She sighed, dropping her hands. “No,” she agreed reluctantly. Evangeline still would have been happier if he hadn’t known. But she was cut off from saying anything else by the sound of the elevator whirling, the doors opening just loud enough for her to hear in the quiet.
“Hi Professor, it’s Shauna!” a familiar voice called, and two familiar people came walking in. Shauna, as expected by that greeting, but also Xavier.
“Sorry to have kept you waiting,” he said with a smile, then did a double take at seeing Evangeline already there. She gave a sheepish little wave.
“Fantastic!” the professor said, clapping his hands. “Now let’s all have a Pokemon battle. Shauna, you versus Xavier. And Evangeline, your opponent shall be me.”
“What?” she yelped, startled, but Xavier and Shauna gave an enthusiastic cheer, moving to use the sitting room/library part of his office. With a gulp, she stepped back from the professor’s desk, reaching for her first Pokeball as he reached behind him for one of three that were on his desk.