On a visit to Alola, I did the quick walk between Nanu’s station on Route 17 to Po Town often. Nanu was protective, as any adoptive father might be, and his reluctance to let me travel into once-hostile Po Town, where Guzma still frequented, was as obvious as any of his emotions. Nanu tried to warn me off the first time, then sighed, and grumbled that a “kid” like me can’t sit still anyways. Something about agitating some of the Meowth with my leg always bouncing anyways. But he insisted, at least the first time, I be accompanied by a friend of his.
I knew of Grimsley, of course, he was Elite Four after all. But when Nanu called the lanky man over from the beach, he smelled of water and sand and spice.. I had to forcibly remind myself that this was a friend of my dad’s, an Elite Four member, and I was on my way to visit Guzma of all people. The ever-smirking Dark trainer listened to Nanu’s request for an escort, his sharp eyes darting to me. Making an assessment, I’d guess. I mostly listened to Grimsley’s voice when he began to speak. It was smooth, and he clearly chose his words carefully (unlike myself, blurting things out as they come to mind).
“She’s young, Nanu, but not nearly young enough to have called me from Route 15 to babysit. She—“
“They,” Nanu grunted quickly, a gesture I appreciated immensely.
“My apologies. They look like a competent trainer of their own merit. What help could Uncle Grimsley be?”
I cringed. Don’t call yourself that when you’re hot and probably only at most 10 years older than me, I thought.
“They don’t like ambush battles,” Nanu shrugged, “So I don’t know how tough their defense would be if the remaining grunts decided to play with them in place of their boss. They’re a heavy hitter, don’t get me wrong, but a whack from behind and even their Jigglypuff would be staggered. I just need you in there with them this time, so the Grunts see them and get their Boss’s notice to not be jerks about it. Can I count on you for this favor?”
Grimsley turned an inch to his left, to fully consider me. I felt bashful in that moment, wringing my hands and looking at the wall a little right of his head. I heard his amused huff.
“How about a coin toss for it?”
“Grimsley you’re outside my doorframe, I know the Skarmory trick already.”
So that’s how I officially met the man. At first, it was a simple task. Get me to the far end of Po Town to talk to Guzma. Grimsley, by some strange quirk, had me hold onto the crook of his arm through the town. He chatted amiably, letting me feel comfortable with him until I finally could chatter back. I only noticed once, but he seemed to be watching my face from the side of his eye when he again called himself Uncle Grimsley, and I pulled a face. He didn’t ask, so I didn’t think much of it.
Over time, he’d find his way to Route 17 more and more often. He brought a toy for the hoard of Meowth at Nanu’s place one time, while another time I was moseying towards the entrance of Po Town and he was calmly sitting against the wall by the door. However he’d cross my path, the two of us would begin to talk again. At first, it was meaningless chat. But, knowing me, I began deepening conversations pretty early.
“It’s not safe to play with your cards where everyone can see them,” he chided during an early conversation. He ruffled my hair playfully after his words, his eyes softening at my soft laugh.
There was a time, more recently, where Grimsley appeared a little south of Nanu’s door, holding a basket and beckoning me with his hand. With my hand securely in the crook of his elbow, he took me to Ula’ula Meadow. On the planks, we set up a picnic, with Malasadas plenty for himself and for our Pokémon to share amongst themselves. That’s when he told me about himself. His family. The ruin. The gambling. Some of it, he would almost mutter towards his Pokémon, as if ashamed to be telling another human about it.
What had begun as an innocent crush, grew into more, seeing the vulnerable side of him. Jigglypuff, ever my companion, waddled up to me and gave her biggest smile. A blessing, possibly a curse, knowing my luck.
He took some time to stare into the sea of red flowers, just breathing, thinking of the air between us. I couldn’t read him the way he reads others— his poker face was phenomenal. So I munched at my Malasada in silence, my free hand on Jigglypuff’s head to give me stability as I quietly tumbled in love.
A couple weeks later, and it was nearly time for me to visit another region for a while. Alola, despite all the boats, was towards my top list of favorite regions to be. But there was always so much for me to do and see, and many people out there eagerly awaiting my visits. I realized, with a clench in my stomach, that nothing with Grimsley was really set in stone. He might go back to Unova without telling me, and how would I find him then? Would he even want to be found by me? Was he only kind to me because of his friendship with Nanu?
I needed to know.
About midday, I told Nanu I’d be stepping out. He looked at me quizzically, but didn’t question why I’d announce that on a day I wasn’t meant to visit Po Town.
I called a Sharpedo and surfed around, towards Route 15. I found him looking out towards the water, so he absolutely noticed my arrival. With the speed of the Sharpedo, I near about tumbled off its back onto the soft sand, earning me a chuckle from the man I’d come to see. Alright. How was I about to go about this conversation?
I brushed myself off as the Sharpedo swam away, then took in Grimsley for the millionth time. I had almost suspected before that he wore the kimono because it made me easier to make fun of, but seeing him in it when he wasn’t expecting me made me pause. Maybe he really was just having fun with me. Maybe my crush, or love, or whatever was actually unrequited. I never got the vibe from him that he loved me, but at least he was kind, and I thought maybe I could be a little special, maybe he liked to tease me, maybe the kimono was just for me.
Too dark, I thought, forcing a smile. Gotta keep things light. Maybe I can get out of embarrassing myself, maybe I can confess…
A coin toss.
“Grimsley!” I breathlessly chuckled, “I need help making a decision. Coin toss for it?”
The ever-present smirk on the man’s face faltered into curiosity. “You came out this way for me to help you make a decision? With a coin toss?”
“What’s the decision?”
“I won’t tell you.” I stated as I fished in my pocket for a coin. His eyes darted from my face to my pocket to the sand and back up, before settling into a cocky gaze.
“If I call the right side, you’ll tell me the decision, though?”
“M’yeah, sure!” I found the coin and held it up between my thumb and forefinger for him to see.
“Interesting. I’m in.” His whole demeanor felt… different once he settled for the gamble. Something about it made me want to blush, it was… overpowering. Kinda hot. Square that one away for a future conversation.
“Heads or tails?” I totally didn’t stutter, shut up.
“Flip and I’ll make the call.”
So flip, I did. With a resounding ping, the coin went into the air. I caught it, and held it on the back of my hand with the other hand covering.
His eyes looked around the area.
“I don’t have a fast enough Flying type to do your trick. Anyways, I don’t cheat, you know me. Heads or tails?”
His nostrils flared, and he paused. Then, with a definitive head nod, he said,
I lifted my slightly sweaty palm up to look at the coin underneath. Sure enough, it was heads. Lucky shot. I felt both hot and cold as the blood in my body wasn’t sure what to do, color my cheeks or drop away from my face completely.
“Hah! I won” he crowed, then he looked at me with expectant and triumphant eyes. “What’s the decision?”
I swallowed. I felt like the earth would swallow me. I opened and closed my mouth a couple times before I could finally work out words.
“Grimsley, I love you.”
He froze. I shook. The sun was high above us, but suddenly I felt chilled. I prepared for a rejection, but time felt slow and there wasn’t any sign of life from the statue of a man before me.
I felt tears well up. “I-I’m sorry, that was st—“
In a flash, he bounded across the sand. One hand found itself in my hair, one on my lower back, and before I could finish the word “stupid”, he was kissing it out of my vocabulary. My world spun, powerless to even kiss back.
After a single fervent and passionate kiss, he pulled away and rested his forehead against mine. “For Arceus’ sake, do not call that stupid. I won twice in a row, and you cannot take this moment away from me.” He laughed, an almost broken sound. “You love me?”
I nodded, unintentionally bumping our foreheads. With a laugh of my own, I go, “Yes, and I don’t lie either!”
He pulled me in, hugging me with a concerning amount of strength for a man not known for brawn. “That’s why you hate my Uncle Grimsley nickname? Because you liiiiike me?”
“Shut up!” I giggled this time. “I didn’t want to leave Alola for a while without telling you. I want to see you again, and keep in touch, and stuff.”
“Of course. Nanu told me you’d be leaving soon, I was planning on giving you my number, I just couldn’t figure out how to do it without coming off like an old creep.”
With a snort, I went, “Trust me, your ‘old’ is nothing.”
“Remee I’m like—“
We both devolved into laughter. With a softer kiss, we parted from the embrace. “The sunset from this beach is spectacular, would you like to stay? I’m sure once I break news to your old man, you’ll want to avoid the house for a few hours.”
I nodded. I didn’t think Nanu would take it bad, but I was extremely embarrassed that Grimsley pulled a phone out of his kimono and dialed Nanu immediately, cocky grin on his face.
“Hey old man. I guess I owe ya some money now.”