Quiet music echoed off the stone walls of the large room, filling her with a nostalgic feeling. From afar, she could hear the faint sounds of a battle, but she assumed it was just an Elite Four member training their team, so she paid it no mind. Humming along to the tune of the song, she dangled her feet off of the chair she sat on, a bit bored of the lack of action. Where was Steven when she needed him?
That voice... it sounded so young. Was that a... challenger? Those were very rare around here, but it was always a possibility, she assumed.
"Hi there!" she called back, over to the cracked-open door, in curiosity, sitting up a bit straighter in her seat.
She could see a small head poke through the door. "Are you Champion Harlow?" a boy asked, trying to push open the massive door so he could get into the room.
Her eyes widened. This was her challenger? No offense to him, but how had he made it this far? "Oh, honey," she began, standing and rushing over to the door. "Yes, I'm Harlow. Are you here for a battle?"
Harlow stopped dead in her tracks.
The door was opening, but it was obviously not the boy doing so. Who else was with him?
He shook his head, smiling widely. "No, ma'am. My brother's challenging Miss Glacia right now. Mr. Steven said he'd take me to see you, so here I am!"
Cocking her head to the side, Harlow smiled widely as another familiar face poked out from behind the door.
"And, of course, the door's stuck again."
Harlow ran a hand down her face, chuckling. So that's what he'd been doing. "Hold on," she said, taking a PokeBall off of her belt and tossing it off to the side. In a flurry of bright blue and white light, a large Tyranitar emerged, crying its name. Turning back to her Trainer, the Pokemon smiled, bending down to her height. "Hey there, Tosca," Harlow greeted her partner, patting her head. "We need your help with the door again, please. We have a visitor!"
Tosca looked over to the boy half hidden by the door, whose eyes were wide and full of wonder. "Ty-Tyran!" she said, ruffling the boy's hair before turning to the door, taking it in one hand and easily pulling it open to reveal the rest of the boy and Steven Stone, a good friend of Harlow. "Tyranitar-tar!"
"Hello to you, too, Tosca!" Steven said with a smile, walking into the room, bringing the boy with him. "This here is Jonas. His brother, Mack, should be here soon. He's a strong one." He turned to look at Harlow before continuing. "Would you like to take him on?"
Harlow nodded, grinning. "Sure! You up for it, Tosca?"
"Yay!" Jonas cheered, jumping and punching the air in excitement. "I can't believe I get to watch Champion Harlow battle my brother!"
Again, Harlow chuckled. "We just have to wait for him to get here! In the meantime, would you like to see the rest of my team?" she asked the young child.
Jonas's eyes seemed to grow three times their normal size. "Would I ever!" he responded, visibly shaking with anticipation.
Tosca smiled, sitting next to Jonas and patting her lap, allowing him to climb on and get comfortable.
"Alright," Harlow began, grabbing the other five PokeBalls that sat on her belt, "you ready?" She didn't wait for an answer before tossing all the Balls into the air.
A flurry of voices accompanied the bright flashes of light as the remaining members of the teenager's team emerged. Beside her now stood a Gengar, Ampharos, Gallade, Mawile, and Swampert, all smiling brightly at the newcomer. "Everyone, this is Jonas," Harlow introduced, holding a hand out to the boy. "Jonas, this is Glory, Alma, Gino, Morrie, and Syrus. Say hi, everyone!" Another set of sounds followed her words and Harlow smiled in satisfaction. Her team was so obedient and kind; she couldn't think of a better one she could ever possibly have.
"Wow!" Jonas breathed out, squirming around in Tosca's lap. "That's so cool! I wanna see them battle my brother so badly!"
"You will, I promise!" Harlow replied, patting Morrie's head. "I would think that battle with Glacia should be done right about no-"
Before she could finish, a loud noise sounded from a different room of the building. The noise resembled a scream, and it was quickly accompanied by an, "oh, come on! I made it this far! Are you freakin' kidding me!?"
"That was Mack!" Jonas said, scrambling out of Tosca's grasp and running over to the door. "He must've lost... Oh, no..." He covered his eyes with a hand and leaned against the door. "That's not good. He hates losing!"
Steven calmly walked over to Jonas and bent down to his height, placing a hand on his shoulder. "There's no need to worry, Jonas. All Mack has to do is try again. Then, he'll be sure to make it!" he assured him, gently peeling his hand from his face.
Jonas thought about this information, looking into Steven's eyes. "Y-Yeah," he stuttered, standing up straight, "that's it! I'll just have to make him try again! But I don't think I can wait for the battle with you guys!" Quick as lightning, he hugged Steven, which caught the man off guard, but he didn't hesitate to return the motion. After letting go, Jonas hugged each of Harlow's Pokemon, ending with Tosca, and then turned to Harlow herself. "I guess I'll see ya then, then!" he chuckled, catching Harlow in a similar, tight embrace.
"We'll see you then," Harlow replied, wrapping her arms around Jonas's small form before he pulled back, waved, and rushed out of the room. Giving her team a quick once-over, the brown-haired girl spoke after a moment of silence. "He's energetic, isn't he?"
"Oh yes," Steven replied, smirking and standing from his spot by the door, turning to Harlow. "Are you up for a quick practice battle? We haven't had one in a while."
Harlow visibly paled, but nodded anyway. "Why didn't you let Jonas..." she trailed off, having already answered her own question.
Steven nodded. "I believe you already know the answer to that," he said, simply, heading off to the opposite side of the room-turned-battlefield.
A guilty feeling ate at her stomach as Harlow walked over to the edge of the field closest to her, opposite Steven. What was she supposed to tell Jonas when he returned? That she couldn't battle his brother without probably scaring both boys half to death? No, she could never say that to him. She'd just have to think of something.
Holding her forehead in a hand, Harlow looked back to Glory. "Ready?" she asked, suddenly seeming tired and not up for the fight. Glory noticed this, and she approached her Trainer slowly, rubbing her back in a comforting manner. The Ghost-type's touch sent shivers down her spine, but she refused to waver from them. "Thanks, Glory. Let's just see what happens, alright?" Glory nodded, a small, genuine smile growing on her face, as she took her spot on the battlefield.
"Let's just see what happens," Harlow repeated almost silently to herself, lowering her hand to clutch at her stomach uncomfortably as their opponent made their appearance and the battle began.