She sat in the chair, head tipped back, eyes on the seam between the wall and the ceiling. Her legs swung back and forth as they dangled from the chair that was just a hint too tall, and her chin bobbed slightly from side to side as the music pounded on the walls. She was vaguely aware the rules prohibited the use of loud music in the green room… but she was alone, and she would be alone until she was called to compete in the final match.
She hoped it would be against Rosa. She prayed it would be against Rosa.
But if it weren’t… then she needed to break character.
Loose lips sink ships. That’s what she’d thought when she first heard what they said about her. Not that it bothered her, usually. She’d made peace with who and what she was when she’d been helpless to save Munna, because something about her had been so compelling that Hilda and Rosa had been moved to help. She may not be powerful in her own right, but Bianca had found her charisma and cheer was more than enough to motivate other people into doing what she wanted done anyway.
So when she’d heard that N had explicitly called her weak, and mused that she could never get stronger, it’d been sort of sadly amusing, more a reflection of him than her. N’s incessant need to comment on his surroundings had inspired Bianca to fight with her mouth and not her monsters. It had given her the inspiration to do exactly the things that had allowed her friends to wipe the floor with Team Plasma. It had set her on the path she now took, the path that had laid the framework for Rosa’s victory over Plasma as well as Hilda’s. She liked to think her behavior had even inspired Cheren toward his own development as a trainer.
Bianca had spent two years turning her inherent weakness and vulnerability into an asset.
She reached over and patted Musharna absently as she tried to discard two years of work.
She sat, listening to the harshest music she could stand, kicking her feet, trying to get her blood pumping through her veins. Not in the way it usually did during a Pokemon battle… not in the fun way. No, she tried to call to mind the look on Hilda’s face when she’d gone up against every Plasma operative Bianca had ever seen her fight… the scowl of that boy Hugh in his phone calls about Team Plasma. She tried to evoke the feeling behind that roar of rage Haxorus could muster before a battle.
She closed her eyes and tried to sing along with the song, able only to pull a soft squeak for fear of being louder than the radio.
She tried to tell herself what was at stake if she lost this battle, if her opponent won this tournament against Rosa, a stronger trainer.
Her little feet still kicked against the air.
She thought of being a little girl, glued to the TV, leaning on Cheren while Hilda sat on the floor next to her. She tried to remember the news reports and how scary they’d seemed, reporters trembling in front of a tall building and talking about how the town was under siege, ducking away from figures in black, cutting to static. She tried to imagine a world of such fear, villainy and abuse not even Team Plasma would think of.
She tried to tell herself that was what awaited her if she lost… but she couldn’t quite believe it. Hilda was still out there somewhere. So was N.
Even if Bianca could let the seriousness s sink in, even if she could convince herself that her success was do or die, that the fate of the world rested on her… could she cut it? She shuddered at the thought that her weakness might hurt someone other than herself.
But the fact was, Red had lost in the mountains to a boy from Johto who hadn’t even qualified.
The fact was, Cheren, Marlon, and several others she’d expected to outlast her had already been knocked out of the tournament.
The fact was, Giovanni was sweeping, and Red had made no secret of what Giovanni had told him. Nor had Ethan and Lyra, though their story of Celebi seemed farfetched. Haha, Farfetch’d, that’d b ea good Pokemon to use against Giovanni…
The fact was, if Giovanni won enough, he might just be brave enough to start over…
…and he seemed to think a lot less about how to make people ok with what he was doing than Ghetsis did.
The fact was..
The fact was, the weak had to become strong. The limited, limitless. Being strong did Cheren, Hilda, Rosa no favors outside of these important battles. Maybe Bianca could save all her strength for this one moment… or maybe she would be too weak. Not everyone can become stronger.
She jumped when the door opened, startled out of her reverie, legs going still. Cheren was there, frowning, arm on the door frame, leaning too hard. His lips were tight together, his blue eyes cold.
“Get ready for him,” Cheren warned, frowning. “Rosa’s down to one Pokemon. That Garchomp has Brick Break.”
She stared at him for a second and they locked eyes… the fear in his blue eyes, the nervous upturn of his lip. She leapted to her feet, recalling Musharna into its pokeball without looking back. “I’m ready,” She offered calmly, grinning a little.
“Bianca? Are you ok? You aren’t your usual cheerful self…” He cocked his head to the side.
“Well, Cheren, there’s a lot at stake if I lose. I know everyone’s going to see me up there and expect me to choke. So many things happened to me… but I’m glad they did. I know how it tastes to lose. And if I lose this one… a lot of people who are stronger than me might really get to know that feeling.” She shook her head, wondering if she looked too much like N. “It’s hard to put into words. I guess I’ll just have to fight.”
His eyebrow shot up. “Are you sure?”
“I have a type advantage on every one of his Pokemon. I have something to lose if he wins.” She grinned. “And if I lose to him, every trainer in Unova will be clamoring to fight him and get revenge. Well, not revenge, not for some of them. Maybe just discouragement.” She shrugged. “The point is, Cheren, I have to win… but if I lose, I still win, as long as you and Rosa are watching. But if you really want to make sure I do what needs to be done… find a way to make sure N and Hilda see me, win or lose.”
She stepped out of the door calmly, head held high, shifting into a skip and a smile as she passed the threshold, ready for the cameras.
Giovanni wouldn’t even know what hit him.