“Evangeline!” he greeted her, his voice more enthusiastic than his expression–but then, her father’s stern expression was nearly legendary. Overly serious by far, she could see a lot more of herself in him than her mother. But there was a softness there, affection for his only child, that had been present all her life outside of Gym battles when he had to be scary. “I wasn’t expecting a call from you and Aya for a couple of more days. Are you settled already?”
She winced a little. “Um, about that.” She ran her hands over her braid in nerves. “The nearby professor got word of me being here. Professor Sycamore. He, um, decided he could lump me in with the latest trainer class he was giving starters out to.”
His only visible eyebrow raised, and she could only tell because of how well she knew him that he was shocked. “So you have already started your journey?” he asked.
Evangeline nodded slowly. “Pretty much right away,” she admitted. “My starter is a Froakie, his name is Kakashi. Or, was. He’s already evolved.”
Falkner tilted his head. “I’m not familiar with that one, so not a Flying type in any evolution,” he said, his tone deceptively bland.
“No, Water,” she said, and quickly added. “Henri is the flyer, a Fletchinder.”
That smoothed his expression over, making her want to sigh in relief. “At least you have one,” he said, with a nod. “Your Maiko is doing well here, by the way.” Her heart swelled at the mention of the Pidgey-turned-Pidgeotto she had trained under her father’s guidance as a child. “I’m considering using her for Gym Battles, if you are okay with it. My current is ready to evolve, and she’s the best Pidgeotto in the Gym right now.”
“Of course,” Evangeline agreed. “I’d be honored.” Oh! Scrambling, she grabbed the case she’d brought with her from her room. “Speaking of Gyms, I faced the first one here, at Santalune City,” she said, and held up her case, letting him see her only badge so far. “I’ll be heading towards Cyllage City for my second in the morning.”
“Good work!” he complimented with a soft smile, making her sit up straighter in pride. But then he tilted his head like one of his Hoothoot. “Is that a beetle…?”
She whined, wilting at the reminder so her head rested on the table in front of the computer.
“Oh, my poor chick,” he said with a chuckle, though he turned serious again. “At least if you had stayed here in Johto, I could have talked to Bugsy for you.”
“I don’t want special favors,” she complained, voice muffled by the wood of the desk. “We talked about this, ad nauseam, before I left.”
“I know, but I promised the bird keepers I would ask their ‘hime’ if she was ready to come home yet,” he said. She snorted at him. If they were asking that, he must be talking about her as much as he talked Flying philosophy. “Evangeline,” he scolded.
Right, right, act like a lady. Sighing, she straightened up to pout at him. “I’m doing just fine here,” she muttered. “And I like that it’s different. New Pokemon, new places, new challenges. No one who knows who I am just by looking at me.”
Her father gave a slow nod. “I won’t pretend to understand,” he admitted at least. “I never had the desire to leave here, and just wanted to improve the Gym. But your grandfather Walker did, and it was quite some time before he settled here as the Gym Leader. Take your time, Evangeline, and follow your heart. It’ll lead you to your intended roost, just like it did him.”
“Yes, Father,” she promised and glanced at the clock. “I had better get to bed and let you get to work. I’ll call you in a couple of days?”
He nodded and added, “Make sure you call your mother sometime too. Or let Aya handle her, which ever you think is best.”
“Considering Aunt Aya was her idea, I’m tempted to just let them talk,” she muttered, but nodded in agreement before saying good-bye and hanging up. Neither of them were the type to casually mention their love for each other, but both knew it.
Evangeline sighed and went to go find a space in her own bed for her, between the cuddlers that made up her group of Pokemon. She’d call Aunt Aya in Cyllage to give her an update for her mother. Her father was too right, it would be easier for her to let Aya handle the communications back to their home regions as much as she could. If her mother wanted to talk to her, Aya could tell her that way.
The aquarium’s collection was impressive. It made Evangeline wish she had a fishing rod. Of course, as she walked down the beach path, she found that desire was waylaid by the sight of the waves crashing up on the sand. She understood why Nurse Joy had pushed at her to consider taking some time to enjoy it. There was a small area that seemed intended for tourists, or at least those who might not have worn their bathing suit for their journey to the coast.
She let her Pokemon out as she struggled to get her hair up in a ponytail and out of the way. Kakashi gave a whoop and was off to the waves before she could stop him, Ella right on his tail. Shaking her head, she straightened the ruffle at the top of her one-piece swim suit–it formed the straps that sat just off of her shoulders, tying with a chord in the middle, and not exposing any cleavage but just highlighting her collarbones. It was in her preferred aqua blue, with white and pink flowers and navy leaves for the print.
Glancing around at the ever-so-fashionable other swimmers, never had Evangeline been more happy that Aunt Aya had insisted on a shopping trip before they even boarded the boat to Kalos. She hadn’t even owned a swimsuit before, and would have looked awkward in either her ninja gear or her hakama skirts trying to wade into the water. She already felt odd since she was so simple compared to high French fashion. But it worked for her, and she was going to be happy.
Kakashi and Ella were joined by Chiko, who seemed to be enjoying snapping at the spray with her larger-mouth and the splashing at the others with her hands. She didn’t even try to convince Haruka, figuring that salt wouldn’t be good for him, and he seemed content to guard her bag. Cerise stayed with him rather than risking getting carried away with the waves, being so small. Felix seemed torn between avoiding Cerise and avoiding the water, and settled for sitting away from the other two and far from the waves. One of the handful of stands that rented out equipment included beach balls. Evangeline was more than happy to purchase one for those in the waves to bounce back and forth.
Of course, keeping control of the ball was something else entirely. One wrong hit by Ella sent it crashing into a nearby girl who was splashing around herself. “Hey!” she shouted, spinning around and indignant. Her blonde hair was easily as long as Evangeline’s, but perfectly straight and cut in fashionable layers, contrasting with the tan of her skin. Her pink halter bikini exposed a lot more skin than her one modest one-piece, and it made Evangeline self-conscious.
But she wasn’t going to let her Pokemon get yelled at. “Sorry, it was an accident,” she said, stepping forward and folding her hands in front of her to give an apologetic bow. “We’ll move further down the beach and be more careful.”
“We?” the swimmer looked over and saw Evangeline’s team. “Oh, a trainer! You can apologize with a battle. My Pokemon will get me vengeance.”
“It was just a ball,” Evangeline protested, but didn’t try and argue. She just gestured for her own team to gather around. The swimmer released a Psyduck, and she barely refrained from groaning. At least she knew how to handle them. “Haruka, you’re on!” she called out. The Budew waddled over, his bud opening and closing as he faced off. Cerise came over to watch, which Evangeline only thought could do the Spewa good.
At least until the Wingull came out. Cerise squeaked at the sight of the bird, trying to hide behind Evangeline’s leg. Haruka quaked a little too, but Evangeline stood firm. “You can do this, Haruka!” she promised. “Just keep up your attacks!” Both of her littlest Pokemon looked up at her. The Grass-Type puffed up, and he set his mouth in a firm line. He faced down the dual type with a fierceness that filled Evangeline with pride in him. So when he burst into white light at the end of the battle, she wasn’t surprised.
What did surprise her as Cerise inched forward to watch was Cerise copying him.
Her breath caught in her chest, and she looked between both of them. Haruka finished first, shaking his new hands and then raising them up in happiness. Then he saw Cerise and quickly came running over as her wings flicked off the light with a gust.
Purple wings. Evangeline felt like she could collapse in relief. Apparently they had moved into a new region for wing patterns for Vivilion. She smiled softly as Haruka and Cerise danced together in excitement for their new forms, the others clapping and cheering. The swimmer sulked and tossed her some coins, which she went to go put in her bag.
She looked up just in time to see Felix approaching. Evangeline tensed, watching the Charmeleon pause behind Cerise. The new Vivilion’s wings fluttered anxiously. But Felix held up his clawed hands, delicately taking her much smaller paws in his. He gave them a little shake, ducked his head, and then went to walk next to the bag to sit again.
Evangeline grabbed him by the shoulders, hugging him close. “That’s my boy,” she whispered to him, making him flush before she ran to join the celebrations.