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Good Love Charm (Advanceshipping, PG-13)

Ðãmon Howe

Stop posting DH.
So here's a curious question....why have you never posted this on fanfiction.net?

It's an amazing story that few authors can say they meet the same caliber, so why leave it here? I'm sure you must have your reasons, but still...

Anyways, great story, love the plot, setting, and the attention to character details. Don't really have anything that needs improvement, maybe a grammar error here and there but that's normal. I do like how you have the rich vs poor contrast and how you explain each of their perspectives the same way with different wording multiple times; I find that hard to do.

Anyways, hope you continue your return streak!


Zephyr Trainer
Thank you all for your patience - the next chapter is here! First, though - review responses!

First, I just want to say you have a talent in writing that I will never have! Good job. I was very much absorbed into this story even though I'm more of a Contestshipping kind of person.
Thanks! It always means a lot to me when I hear people compliment my writing, especially coming from a Contestshipper, who I think would normally be turned off by how Drew has been portrayed in this fic. Thank you for your review!

I liked the new chapter, can't wait to see the battle between Ash and Drew. I do have a feeling Ash is going to lose, and that the story will continue from there. But we will see.
Your wait is almost over! Thanks for the review!

So here's a curious question....why have you never posted this on fanfiction.net?

It's an amazing story that few authors can say they meet the same caliber, so why leave it here? I'm sure you must have your reasons, but still...
Thanks! Those words mean a lot to me ^^ This story actually was on fanfiction.net, but it was plagiarized by someone claiming to have written it T_T; ff.net eventually removed it a few months after I sent my requests, but it was a pain.

I had always planned on uploading it to fanfiction.net, but I just can't stand their document upload system - it always shows weird symbols in my stories and the spacing isn't right and I have to refactor all of my documents just to make it show up right. It's really annoying. For that reason I usually only upload fics to my account there once they're finished. I do have an account (Gazmof), but there are no Advanceshipping fics up on there - I've been meaning to compile all of my oneshots on there just in case Serebii ever goes down.

Anyways, great story, love the plot, setting, and the attention to character details. Don't really have anything that needs improvement, maybe a grammar error here and there but that's normal. I do like how you have the rich vs poor contrast and how you explain each of their perspectives the same way with different wording multiple times; I find that hard to do.
Thanks! The rich/poor contrast was something I was trying to capture with the whole Nico vs Drew dynamic, so I'm glad people have caught onto it. It helps define Nico as having a very bitter character, which then prompts him to do the crazy things he does. Thanks for the compliments!

And without further ado... Chapter Twenty (is that it?)!

Chapter Twenty:
Confession Before Sunset

"So," Drew chuckled, casting aside the light jacket he wore and unbuttoning the collar of his lime-green dress shirt before leaning over the railing of his battle station. "A three-on-three battle, just you and me."

"Pika!" Pikachu squeaked, quickly leaping up the ladder in front of its trainer in preparation for the battle.

"Sounds good to me!" Ash exclaimed without a single ounce of hesitation, his hand reaching out to grab one of the rungs of the ladder when he felt a sudden tug on his shirt.

Ash paused, craning his head to look back at May, biting her lip as she smiled nervously at him.

"May?" He whispered. "Is something wrong?"

May shook her head, her eyes sparkling like gems in the low light of the underground arena. She felt her ears twitch slightly as she suddenly realized they were being watched.

"You guys go on ahead," she insisted to Brock and Dawn, who were standing just a few feet away from them. "I'll get a seat with you in just a moment."

Dawn stared at May with a puzzled expression in her eyes, but Brock simply smiled, taking the young coordinator by the hand and leading her away. Ash watched as they walked up several steps into the stands to find a seat with a good perspective on the stadium.


May's makeshift cough snapped the boy out of his brief daze. He glanced back down at May, who was looking straight up at the small yellow rodent that was watching them intently, an expression on her face telling the creature not to test her patience.

"Pi..." Pikachu squeaked nervously, then suddenly realized what was going on. The Pokemon glanced down at its trainer with a coy smile, then slowly began to climb up to the top of the ladder and out of sight. "Pika Pi..."

May watched cautiously as Pikachu began to disappear, then turned her attention to the boy in front of her, his grip now easing on the rung of the ladder and his eyes fixed firmly on hers. Her nervous expression had lifted slightly, but it was obvious that something was still bothering her, and if he listened hard enough he could hear the beating of her heart rapidly becoming more and more pronounced.

"May, what's the matter?" He asked softly, his hand instinctively moving to gently lean against her shoulder as his head moved closer to hers.

"I just wanted a moment alone with you before you battle..." She explained gently, casting her eyes away from Ash and fixing them firmly on the shadowy floor. "Because I..."

Ash watched May struggle with the words inside of her, her chest still pounding and causing the motion to echo ever so slightly through Ash's own body like a gentle pulse they shared together. The room was so dark, yet she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on.

"I mean," she continued, her voice becoming slightly ragged as if she were suddenly in peril and had to confess something immediately. "This could be the last moment we ever get to spend alone like this..."

"That won't happen, May." Ash insisted, his other hand now coming to rest on her left shoulder in a steady, reassuring motion. "I promised you, remember? I'll never let you go ever again."

"Ash..." She smiled at his determination, finally looking into his dark eyes once again.

Ash smiled warmly at the girl, causing her to smile back, as if she were a magnet that was unable to resist his pull on her. She did her best not to think of what might possibly go wrong, but when she was looking into his eyes those things seemed so far and distant that they were insignificant and meaningless.

"Ash, I want to tell you..." She spoke in a hushed tone, sincerity rampant in her voice. "I want to tell you that you need to win."

Ash opened his mouth to speak but she quickly silenced him by pushing her hands against his chest, her fists firmly wrinkling his black shirt as she pulled on it tightly.

"You need to win for me because I love you, Ash!" She whispered with extreme effort, as if she wanted to shout the words but simply couldn't find the strength. "I've loved you since the day I first met you, but I was too young and stupid to realize it!"

"May, I-" Ash began but was quickly cut off again by May, who was now sobbing, her face buried in his chest.

"I love you so much and I always pretended to ignore it because I thought we were just good friends," May continued between weeping. "But when I was alone in Johto I couldn't think of anything but you!"

Suddenly May's fears were gone, and she felt a weight lift from her heart as she looked up into Ash's eyes, tears smeared on her cheeks. She continued to grip his shirt tightly, afraid to let go of what was rightfully hers.

"I don't care how young or naive we are!" She exclaimed, unwavering in her conviction as she spoke. "I need you, Ash! I want us to walk through the park together and go to restaurants together and do the things that couples do, just the two of us! I want us to be together forever!"

"May..." Ash whispered softly, his arms now wrapped around her waist, although he wasn't entirely sure how they had gotten there.

"That's why you need to win, Ash Ketchum!" May demanded. "I need you to win for us."

Ash was silent as he stared at the girl with a look of shock. Had he not felt exactly the same way he was certain that he wouldn't have believed what she was saying, but the fact is that she had said everything he wanted to say to her but had been too afraid to do. There was no way he could let her down.

Slowly May moved closer to Ash, then felt a gentle bump against her forehead as the peak of his cap brushed against her skin. She smiled knowingly at the boy, quickly grabbing his hat and holding it firmly at her side before kissing him gently. For a brief moment time stopped, and an electricity flowed through the young couple's bodies, Ash pulling May closer as she idly ran her fingers through his jet-black hair.

Eventually, and with a great deal of hesitance the two broke their kiss, silence filling the air around them. The silence was by no means awkward, but was instead incredibly comforting, and both Ash and May were unable to do anything but smile at each other, as if they were somehow now telepathic and could sense the sincerity in each other's feelings.

May wiped away the tears on her cheeks and planted Ash's cap firmly on her head before winking playfully at him.

"Now go and win that battle for us, Ash Ketchum." She demanded with a smile. "Your girl will be right in those stands cheering you on."

Ash smiled at May as she gently slid out of his grip and headed towards the seats where Brock and Dawn were waiting for her. With a deep breath he clenched his fist, then looked up at the ceiling.

"Don't worry, May." He spoke softly under his breath. "I won't let anyone stand in our way."


Paul's Torterra let out a thunderous roar as it slammed its front feet into the ground, causing several enormous, thorn-covered vines to burst out of the tarmac beneath Nico's Blastoise. The Grass-type Pokemon's attack savagely slashed and ground against the Water-type, prompting the creature to hurriedly withdraw into its deep, red shell.

"I didn't expect you to be such an amateur, kid." Nico smirked. "Didn't kindergarten teach you that Frenzy Plant takes a lot out of your Pokemon?"

"We're not going to need any reserves in our tank to beat the likes of you!" Paul retorted confidently. "Torterra, keep it up!"

The vines of Frenzy Plant continued to twist and turn, eventually flinging Blastoise up into the air where it spun majestically, as it would befit a coordinator's star Pokemon.

"Now Aqua Jet into Ice Beam, Blastoise!" Nico commanded.

"What!?" Paul gasped, watching in a mixture of both awe and anger as two cannons appeared from within Blastoise's shell and blasted a surge of water towards the ground to propel the creature straight towards Torterra.

The giant tortoise Pokemon was undeniably strong, and Frenzy Plant had significantly hurt Blastoise, but the creature's shell was also not something to be taken lightly, and the Water-type's speed and elegance were surprising to say the least. Within a few seconds Blastoise was just inches away from Torterra and let a chilling blast of Ice Beam slam directly into the Grass-type's face, hitting with such force that it sent the monster skidding across the ground with a long, painful groan.

Paul flinched as he watched the creature fall unconscious. It was clear that Nico's Blastoise had taken severe damage during the battle, as it was panting heavily as it attempted to regain its balance, but this was not the outcome Paul had wanted. He cursed at himself under his breath - he should have known that Nico would have taught Blastoise an Ice-type move. It was clear that the coordinator was better than Paul had first given him credit for.

"Torterra, return." Paul commanded, recalling the Grass-type into its Pokeball.

"I was expecting you to be better than this, Paul." Nico mocked the trainer, his arms folded confidently. "I didn't think any trainer could be as pathetic as Ash."

"You're going to eat those words, coordinator." Paul responded before unclipping a Pokeball from his belt and hurling it in front of Blastoise.

The capsule split in half, spewing out a bright, white light that eventually receded into the form of Paul's Elekid. The tiny yellow Pokemon clenched its fists tightly, sparks flickering between its long, narrow ears.

"Ele!" It barked. "Elekid!"

"We'll just see, kid." Nico chuckled, his hands falling to his side as if he were swaggering on the spot. "Blastoise, Hydro Pump!"

"Elekid, Thunderpunch!" Paul retaliated.

The two Pokemon lunged towards each other, shimmering drops of water slowly forming in front of Blastoise's cannons as Elekid's fist became cloaked in a giant haze of electricity. This battle had only just begun.


Ash's mind flashed through the images of each of his remaining Pokemon following the battle with Nico. Sceptile and Glalie were out of commission, but this would be a three-on-three battle, and he knew that Pikachu still had plenty of energy left. That left him with a choice of four remaining Pokemon - the question was, which would he start the battle out with?

"Our match will be judged by the automatic regulation system my family had installed here." Drew explained from across the other end of the stadium. "It was designed with contest battles in mind, but also has standard battle rules programmed into it."

"That's fine with me." Ash replied, removing his first choice of Pokeball and enlarging the device in his palm. "I'm ready when you are."

"Good." Drew accepted, looking up towards the ceiling fixture which hung above the centre of the battlefield. It possessed four large, flat-screen panels, each appearing to be about fifty inches or so in length measured diagonally, all facing opposite sides of the arena and the respective seating areas so that the crowd could keep an eye on the progress of the match.

With a tap of the remote control that rested in his hands Drew activated the automated judging system, causing the screens to flicker to life and the outskirts of the stadium to become illuminated by many hundreds of small, circular lights which surrounded the field.

"Computer, begin judging!" The young coordinator called out to the machine. "Match rules: standard single battle, three-on-three, no restrictions."

Ash and Pikachu both stared up at the screens as they displayed several loading images whilst initializing the rules for this match. This kind of technology was typically withheld for large, world-famous events such as the Grand Festival, so it was shocking that Drew had his very own duplicate system in his own basement. He really did have everything he could ask for.

"You ready for this, Pikachu?" Ash asked the Electric-type that sat on his shoulder, which nodded in response.


"Just think of this as practice for our run at the Sinnoh League, buddy!" The trainer continued, running a hand through his hair as he began to feel himself sweating slightly under the intense heat of the spotlights suspended high above them. "Together we're unbeatable!"

"Pika Pi!" Pikachu agreed eagerly.

"System initialized." The electronic voice of the automated judging system caught the attention of the two competitors, causing them to glance up towards the screen which faced them, where several instructions flashed before their eyes. "Standard single battle, three-on-three, no restrictions. Please place your chosen Pokemon in the Pokeball slots provided for registration."

Ash glanced down at the six empty holes in front of him, each perfectly shaped for a Pokeball.

"Damn," he sighed, prompting Pikachu to glance up at its trainer with confusion. "That means we have to decide ahead of time which Pokemon to use. Let's see..."

"Pika..." Pikachu squeaked, clearly disappointed.

"Don't worry, pal!" Ash reassured the tiny creature. "You're definitely part of the battle!"

To prove it, Ash removed the small red Pokeball from his belt, the engraving of a small lightning bolt emblazoned on its top half. Pikachu had never willingly chosen to stay in its Pokeball, but nevertheless Ash had always had to carry it with him for the Pokemon's details to be registered on demand when attending large events like the Pokemon League, which used a similar registration system. Each Pokemon's Pokeball contained a unique data set that was registered immediately upon catching a Pokemon, and so a Pokemon could always be registered for a tournament so long as the trainer had access to its designated Pokeball.

Ash purposefully placed the ball in the third empty slot from the right, then turned his attention to the rest of his team. Across the stadium he could see Drew carefully selecting his own entries for the match.

Ash cast his mind back to the journey he had taken through Hoenn, doing his best to remember what Pokemon the coordinator had. It was of course highly likely that Drew had picked up new Pokemon during his time in the Johto region, but Ash still had a great deal of familiarity with Drew's battling style, and so he was confident he knew the general kind of Pokemon Drew liked to battle with.

He glanced down towards the stands where May, Brock and Dawn were all staring up at the screen intently. May continued to wear Ash's red hat, and he couldn't help but smile as he watched her. It looked good on her, but then again she looked good in anything.

'Alright...' Ash's words echoed through his mind, his eyes sharpening in on where Drew stood, his selection now complete. 'I know that Drew has Roselia, plus I remember him using an Absol, Flygon and Masquerain during our time in Kanto...'

His eyes traced the air from the Pokeball in his hand, up to the screen, and then back down to his hands.

'I can't afford to take this lightly...' He thought to himself, before placing two Pokeballs back onto his belt and then slowly inserting two more into the empty slots reserved in front of him. 'But I know you guys can do this!'

"Selection complete." The monotone, robotic voice echoed throughout the giant arena as soon as Ash's final choice had been registered. "Trainers, please prepare for battle."

Slowly the towers where each trainer stood began to lower towards the ground, stopping at about five feet above the field in order to provide a closer view of the action for each competitor. May watched intently as Ash's figure was slowly illuminated as he and Pikachu came within range of the overhead spotlights. Both Dawn and Brock noticed her nervously adjusting Ash's cap as it sat on her head, her eyes full of clear concern for the boy.

"Trainers," the automated judging system boomed throughout the stadium, "release your first Pokemon."

Simultaneously both Ash and Drew hurled their Pokeballs into the arena, casting an enormous burst of light which quickly faded away to reveal their chosen Pokemon. On Ash's corner was a small, light-grey Pokemon with a long trunk and a dark, rocky, armor-like spine which covered its back. Opposite it hovered Drew's Masquerain, a small, light-blue Bug Pokemon that possessed large, intimidating wings with a large pattern which seemed oddly reminiscent of the eyes of a Noctowl. Masquerain stared at its opponent intently, its wings rapidly beating at what seemed like a mile a minute.

"That's great!" Brock exclaimed from the stands, though his voice was too distant for either competitor to hear him. "Ash brought his Donphan, which knows Rollout! That'll be super-effective against a Flying Bug-type like Drew's Masquerain!"

"That's so cool!" Dawn commented, unable to let her excitement be hidden as she removed her Pokedex from her bag and checked the statistics of the Johto-born Pokemon. "It's really surprising seeing all of Ash's Pokemon from other regions!"

"But..." May muttered nervously, bringing her thumb to her lip as if she were about to bite her nail in an attempt to calm down. "Masquerain is one of Drew's most veteran Pokemon... He often leads with it because of its Intimidate ability..."

The expressions on Dawn and Brock's faces visibly slumped as they realized the girl's concern and had few words to offer in consolation.

"Don't worry, May." Brock said somewhat hesitantly in an effort to clear away the gloom which surrounded her. "This is Ash we're talking about, remember? Champion of the Kanto Battle Frontier? He's the guy who took on an entire pirate ship and came out King of the Sea, remember? He'll be fine."

May smiled warmly at Brock, though her concern was still evident.

"Thanks, Brock." She replied gently. "I believe in him. I just get nervous every time I watch him fight, that's all. I feel so..."

Dawn watched the girl closely as the words slowly left her lips.

"So powerless..."

"We feel the same way every time we watch him battle too, May." Brock reassured his friend. "Don't you worry, we know exactly what you're going through. He'll be fine."

Dawn turned her gaze back towards the main stadium once again before she suddenly remembered Piplup, whom she had placed inside its Pokeball during the battle between Ash and Nico.

"Oh, that's right!" She declared, quickly rummaging through her bag and withdrawing Piplup's Pokeball, releasing it onto her lap with a loud click. "Piplup, you'll be wanting to watch this battle too, right?"

"Piplup!" The tiny penguin chirped in agreement before making itself comfortable on Dawn's lap. "Piplup Pip! Piplup!"

May smiled at the little creature, extending a hand to ruffle the navy-blue feathers on its head and causing the Pokemon to blush slightly.

'Just hang in there, Ash.' Brock thought to himself as he watched Ash begin to make the first move. 'We're all counting on you. Especially May...'

"Donphan, Defense Curl, let's go!" Ash cried.

"Masquerain, Agility!" Drew countered.

The Pokemon quickly obeyed their respective commands, Donphan curling up into a tight ball whilst Drew's Masquerain began to flap its wings at even higher speeds. Soon the Bug-type was flittering about the stage almost faster than Ash's eyes could react. Perhaps his type advantage wouldn't be such an advantage after all.

"Rollout Donphan, you can do it!" Ash called, prompting the Ground-type Pokemon to let out a confident roar as it spun its entire body towards the enemy.

"How predictable." Drew mocked, flicking his lime-green hair back as both he and Roselia watched Masquerain's graceful moves with a refined level of arrogance that befitted them perfectly. "Masquerain, dodge that wrecking ball."

Quickly Masquerain floated up into the air, completely out of reach of Ash's Donphan, which continued to plow its way towards the elevated stand where Drew and Roselia were watching the battle unfold. Within a few seconds the creature had crashed into the pillar, bouncing up into the air at a high angle from the impact and heading straight towards Masquerain.

"What!?" Drew barked, his eyes widening. "No way! Masquerain, use-"

Although Masquerain's agility was unparalleled, Drew simply couldn't issue a command in time and was forced to watch the powerful impact of Donphan's Rollout crash into the frail Bug-type's unprotected body. Masquerain flinched, the weight of Donphan's body almost slamming it completely into the ground, but it was able to recover quickly, fluttering its wings and rising back up into the air.

"Keep going Donphan!" Ash cheered his Pokemon on. "Use the pillar again!"

"Pikachu Pi!" Pikachu happily squealed in unison with its trainer.

"I'm not going to fall for the same trick twice!" Drew bellowed. "Masquerain, Agility again! Get underneath it once it rises into the air!"

Masquerain did as the young coordinator commanded, beating its wings with all of its might before flying underneath the midair Ground-type and quickly turning to face it as it flew into the air.

"Now use Ice Beam! Freeze that oversized frisbee!"

"Masqueraaaaaiin!!" The creature squeaked, hurriedly forming a ball of pure, crystalline energy from the eyeballs of its wings before blasting it straight at the undefended Donphan, the powerful beam crackling and warping the air upon impact with the creature's body.

"Phaaan!" Donphan whimpered, quickly tumbling to the floor like a rock plummeting through the air. The Ice Beam had done enough damage, but pounding into the stadium floor did not by any means help the poor creature absorb it.

"Donphan, no!" Ash cried. "Donphan, hang in there! Get up, Donphan!"

The entire room watched Donphan with obvious concern. The creature slowly began to pick itself back up onto its feet, but it was certainly no easy task. Its body was heavily bruised by the impact, and it snorted in effort as it finally regained its balance. It had no time to brace itself, however, as Drew had already issued its next attack.

"Now Quick Attack into Silver Wind!" He commanded. "The sooner we finish this battle the sooner we can get rid of them!"

"Querain!" The Bug-type's voice was quickly torn to shreds by the air pressure from its constantly-vibrating wings as it flashed out of sight, quickly reappearing above Donphan in a torrent of sparkling, dust-like wind that tore into the creature like an unrelenting tornado of metal shards. Ash watched helplessly as Donphan let out a cry of pain, slowly moving its way back towards the outskirts of the arena.

"Hang in there, Donphan! Use Defense Curl one more time!"

"Too late!" Drew laughed. "Masquerain, Hydro Pump!"

Donphan slowly curled into a ball before being soaked by a torrent of water that was blasted from the wings of Drew's Masquerain. Once again the Ground-type hit the ground with such force that it rebounded up into the air. Seeing this new opportunity, Masquerain quickly flew towards its target, circling above it before dousing it with another blast of Hydro Pump once again. With a pained grunt Donphan careened into the floor in the center of the stadium before falling silent.

"Donphan, no!" Ash called out to his Pokemon.

"Pikachu!" Pikachu squeaked in concern for its fellow team member.

"Donphan is unable to battle." The automated judging system declared, its harsh, monotone voice echoing throughout the underground arena with a painful apathy towards Ash's concerned spectators. "Please select your next Pokemon."

Drew smiled knowingly towards Ash, watching him make his painful decision. Ash flinched slightly, concerned about the welfare of Donphan and also about his new chances in this battle. Drew had become a lot tougher than he had given him credit for, and now it would be a significant uphill battle to defeat him.

"Pika..." Pikachu spoke up, looking at Ash with an expression of great worry.

"Pikachu..." Ash replied back as he recalled Donphan into its Pokeball, a red beam of light slowly fading into the capsule he held. "Don't worry, Donphan, you did great."

Ash pocketed the Pokeball before glancing back up towards Drew, taking his next choice of Pokeball and holding it close to his chest.

'I have to win this...' He thought to himself. 'I can't afford to lose!'

"Now!" He declared, hurling his next choice of Pokeball into the arena where Masquerain was waiting confidently. "Come on out!"


And so that's the end of this chapter!
Last edited:

Ðãmon Howe

Stop posting DH.
Another great chapter! I really liked the confession scene, it was a little overdone for my taste, but it was nontheless well written. Can't wait to see how this wraps up!!!

Also, I can understand why you'd want to wait before posting, I saw your account on ff.net. I was gonna ask, with your permission, to post Good Love Charm on ff.net under my account (with full credit to you, of course), but if you plan to do so in the end I suppose it doesn't matter. And yeah, I know the pain of the ff.net document upload system....it annoys me plenty too. lol

And yeah, I've been reviewing (or at least reading) fanfiction stories for quite some time now, so I've gotten somewhat used to creative writing techniques. Still love to learn more though, as I'm sure you are too.


Zephyr Trainer
Another great chapter! I really liked the confession scene, it was a little overdone for my taste, but it was nontheless well written. Can't wait to see how this wraps up!!!
Thanks ^^ That scene really wrote itself for the most part... I was very pleased with the results, and tried to get the hystericalness in May down accurately. She's been through a lot in this fic and she just hit breaking point.

Also, I can understand why you'd want to wait before posting, I saw your account on ff.net. I was gonna ask, with your permission, to post Good Love Charm on ff.net under my account (with full credit to you, of course), but if you plan to do so in the end I suppose it doesn't matter. And yeah, I know the pain of the ff.net document upload system....it annoys me plenty too. lol

And yeah, I've been reviewing (or at least reading) fanfiction stories for quite some time now, so I've gotten somewhat used to creative writing techniques. Still love to learn more though, as I'm sure you are too.
Absolutely! I always find my style slightly evolving over time. I started this pretty early in my fanfiction career, and a person reading it from start to finish now would probably notice some drastic changes in style.

And thank you for the offer, but I will definitely upload it later on. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks ff.net's upload system is unneccessarily complicated @_@;

Gah, cliffhanger! V_V

Great fic. Keep it up!
Haha, thanks for the review ^^ You should know after reading this fic for some time that I love my cliffhangers ^^;;;

Mega Typhlosion

Well-Known Member
Hey. I read your first 12 chapters a while ago, but then stopped coming to this section of the forum. Now while re-watching the Manaphy film, I realised I needed some Advanceshipping :p

And I must say I'm glad I found your fic again because this is the best one I've read. And I love long stories so keep going :)

I felt the need to review this since it is really good.


Zephyr Trainer
Hey. I read your first 12 chapters a while ago, but then stopped coming to this section of the forum. Now while re-watching the Manaphy film, I realised I needed some Advanceshipping :p

And I must say I'm glad I found your fic again because this is the best one I've read. And I love long stories so keep going :)

I felt the need to review this since it is really good.
Hey, thanks for the review! I really appreciate hearing that people are still enjoying this fic despite how old it is. When I first started it I figured it'd take a year tops, but I want to take as much time as necessary on it to make it the best it can be. Given how much I love Advanceshipping I don't think it deserves anything less.

And the best one you've read? That's great praise indeed! Thanks for your comments and I hope you'll keep reading once the next update rolls along.

I don't know when the next chapter will be out but I'm working on it. I'd say it's about 20% done at this stage. Large battles are really exhausting to write, and they take a lot longer than you might otherwise think, so thanks to everyone for your patience and you'll be rewarded soon!

Ðãmon Howe

Stop posting DH.
Large battles are really exhausting to write, and they take a lot longer than you might otherwise think, so thanks to everyone for your patience and you'll be rewarded soon!
If there's one thing I've realized, good battles are the most entertaining sections to read and the flat-out hardest part to write. I've never been good at writing battles (though I can picture them pretty well in my mind...) so unfortunately my most successful ship was a one-shot with no battles in it. :p


Optional Author
If there's one thing I've realized, good battles are the most entertaining sections to read and the flat-out hardest part to write. I've never been good at writing battles (though I can picture them pretty well in my mind...) so unfortunately my most successful ship was a one-shot with no battles in it. :p
I soooo agree!! I am working on a fic myself and its taking up most of my time trying to think of the right way to describe the battles!


Beginning Master
hm, I wonder why this thread is only 11 pages long? it should be alot more xd

I've only read the first 11 chapters, but I'm still going and I'm enjoying every chapter, keep up the good work!

(very bad review I know, if you even can call it for one)


I'm a Damn Aggron!
I must say, this is quite interesting!
Can't wait for the next chapter!

It's great so far.


Zephyr Trainer
Thanks for the reviews, everyone! Sorry to keep you all waiting!

Chapter Twenty-One:
Nico Falls

"Blastoise, no!" Nico cursed, watching helplessly as the large, turtle-like Pokemon crashed to the ground and quickly slipped into unconsciousness. "Dammit..."

"Ele!" Paul's Elekid hissed, visibly panting from its struggle against the coordinator's Water-type Pokemon. "Ele... Kid..."

"Damn..." Nico breathed, his hand moving back down to his belt where one more Pokemon remained waiting. "No, not yet..."

Nico quickly nodded to his Gallade, which stood beside him patiently awaiting its turn to fight. Acknowledging its trainer it nodded back, then slowly walked into the center of the makeshift battlefield where Elekid waited uncomfortably.

Both Paul and Nico's Pokemon glared at each other, keeping their distance of about seven feet apart. Gallade slowly assumed its typical, elegant fighting stance, the blades of its arms arcing over its body in a defensive posture, ready to defend against any sudden strikes Elekid may make. Elekid, on the other hand, remained quite clearly exhausted from its previous battle with Blastoise, doing its best to appear as composed as possible.

"Gallade!" Nico yelled. "Psycho Cut!"

Gallade silently dashed towards Elekid with the kind of speed typically reserved for a Ninjask. The slender green-and-white Pokemon vanished into a colored blur as it cut across Elekid with a bright pink slash.

Elekid hissed in pain, flinching as it held its arms up to defend against a sudden onslaught of Psychic-type attacks. The air around the Electric-type creature warped and vibrated in reaction to the strange mental energy that bombarded it, not allowing a single instant of relief.

"Ele..." Elekid breathed. "Elekid!!!!"

Suddenly a huge flash of electricity engulfed the two Pokemon, stopping Gallade in its tracks. Both Nico and Paul shielded their eyes from the bright aura of yellow energy before seeing Elekid launching a powerful Thunderpunch and throwing Gallade into the wall of the Blackthorne estate.

"Gallade!" Nico gasped in shock. "How the... Oh, no!"

Nico watched painfully as Gallade's body shivered, several sparks of electricity crackling over its legs.

"Static..." Nico growled, glancing back towards Paul who was smiling despite the obvious difficulty Elekid was having staying on its feet. "The damn thing paralyzed you already?"

Gallade slowly pushed itself away from the wall of the estate, several small stones crumbling away from the location of the impact where a large dent had now appeared in the masonry. It lumbered back towards the center of the stadium nursing one of its arms as the occasional sparks which indicated its temporary paralysis continued to flicker across its body at random intervals.

"Looks like that helped to even the score, huh?" Paul taunted his opponent from across the other side of the street. Alisa watched from the wall of the estate, uncertain as to what was going to happen next - it had been a hard-fought fight from the very beginning, and already it seemed like it was about to come to a close.

"Gallade, let's finish this!" Nico snarled, clenching his fist tightly. "Go! Brick Break!"

"Counter, Elekid!" Paul retaliated. "Use Brick Break, too!"

Alisa watched with wide eyes as Elekid and Gallade both collided in mid-air, a colossal mixture of purple and yellow energy emanating from their bodies as the fight continued to intensify.


"Charizard, I choose you!" Ash declared as the tumbling Pokeball split in two and slowly revealed an enormous, auburn-colored dragon in the center of the arena. Its strong, orange wings flexed proudly, extending as wide as possible as Charizard surveyed its new surroundings, an intensely burning flame flickering at the tip of its tail.

Drew's hands remained on his hips, neither he nor his Masquerain appearing to be at all intimidated by this latest development in their battle. The Bug-type Pokemon flitted back and forth in front of its trainer, apparently still having enough energy to burn from the previous battle against Ash's Donphan. However, Ash was confident that Charizard had what it took to bring down the rest of Drew's team - after all, it was a rare event that Charizard would ever be out-muscled by any Pokemon, regardless of its trainer's skills.

May's face visually brightened as she watched Ash's latest substitution with great confidence. Both Dawn and Brock cheered, pumping their arms in the air in support of their friend's decision, and even Piplup seemed to be impressed by the creature staring down its opponent in the center of the arena.

"I figured you'd do something like this, y'know." Drew spoke knowingly, flicking his lime-green hair back in a way so haughty that Ash could only ever imagine royalty performing such a feat. "You're extremely predictable, just like every non-coordinator out there; all brute force and no strategy to speak of."

"You'd better not underestimate us, Drew!" Ash warned, clenching his fist tightly as Pikachu squeaked in agreement, electricity flickering from its cheeks in eager anticipation of an upcoming chance in the ring. "Charizard helped me win the Battle Frontier for a reason."

Drew simply smirked, folding his arms and nodding towards Masquerain, which quickly regained an aggressive posture, its wings beating faster and faster until the air around them began to vibrate in anticipation of the next move.

"Talk to me again after you've tried your hand at a real competition like the Grand Festival." He retorted. "Masquerain, Agility!"

Ash smiled knowingly as the Bug-type shot towards the waiting Charizard; the fire lizard's eyes tracking the creature's every move as it came hurtling towards it, its wings beating so fast that one could be forgiven for thinking a jet aircraft was taking off inside the underground stadium. Within an instant the creature was behind Charizard, a small ring of water quickly beginning to form in front of its eyes as it readied its first assault on the aloof opponent.

"Fly, Charizard!" Ash commanded, prompting the dragon to immediately leap into the air. Masquerain hurriedly followed the creature, blasting small Water Pulse attacks up towards the fleeing Fire-type as it pursued it towards the high, vaulted ceiling of the underground arena.

"Trying to outrun a Masquerain?" Drew chuckled to himself, his eyes not even bothering to follow his opponent's Pokemon. "What a waste of my time."

Sure enough Masquerain was much faster than Ash's Charizard, particularly after the Agility had raised the Pokemon's flying speed far beyond its typical capabilities. However, Ash and Charizard both understood their strengths as well as their weaknesses, and this was all just a matter of timing.

Soon Masquerain was level with Charizard, the Fire-type's back still turned away from its pursuer. Quickly the Bug-type swooped underneath its opponent, quickly turning as it did so to face the creature in order to prepare a swift Hydro Pump attack to Charizard's face, but Ash and Charizard had other plans.

"Seismic Toss, Charizard!" Ash yelled. "Now!"

Before the startled Masquerain could finish finalizing its attack Charizard reached a claw down to grab the creature by one of its legs, quickly tumbling in mid-air before hurling the creature down into the ground of the stadium. The arena seemed to quiver upon the impact, but the dazed Masquerain was not able to recover thanks to the follow-up delivery of an enormous Fire Blast attack; a trademark move that had won Ash many a tournament before. A gigantic inferno of flames cloaked the entire battlefield, charring Masquerain and prompting the creature to let out a meek whimper in response, the Pokemon clearly unable to battle any longer.

"Masquerain is unable to battle." The computer spoke up again, leveling the score on its display panel to two Pokemon per contender.

Drew scowled towards his opponent's side of the arena as he removed Masquerain from the field. He knew that Ash wasn't able to see his expression from so great a distance, though he also knew that the trainer could feel the anger burning up inside of him.

"So much for your great run." He snarled at the Pokeball in his hand before replacing it on his belt and selecting the middle Pokeball that was embedded in the central console of the arena. Quickly he depressed the white button on the capsule, expanding the device into the palm of his hand where he examined it for a moment before hurling it into the waiting stadium. "Now go, Flygon!"

Neither May nor Brock showed any surprise from the sudden appearance of a tall, sand-colored dragon with green highlights covering numerous parts of its body as it made its way onto the Blackthorne Estate Pokemon field. Flygon was widely considered Drew's strongest Pokemon by many on the circuit, and it was typically employed only in large-scale battles where Drew had a lot on the line and wanted to psych out his opponents. Because of this, Flygon was usually reserved for Grand Festival battles and much of its strategic strength came from the fact that such a powerful Pokemon was a strong mind-game play that a trainer could make.

Contest battles in particular tended to lean towards more mental tactics than those of the traditional Pokemon trainer, as the points system usually had competitors at the height of their nerves anyway and would cause them to play an overly-defensive match - a style of battling that very few judges had the patience for. However, Ash was by no means a Pokemon coordinator, and therefore such strategies had little effect on him, especially given his typically brash and headstrong attitude towards battling. May had watched him in dozens of important matches throughout their time traveling together, and never did Ash allow the pressure of the situation to get to him. If he lost it was simply because he got outplayed, not that he was too scared to take the necessary risks to win.

Perhaps May was overanalyzing the mindset of both trainers as Charizard and Flygon began to trade blows; plumes of fire scorching the ground whilst Flygon did its best to lure the enemy down towards the floor of the stadium where it would be more susceptible to Ground-based attacks. She knew that Drew did not seem to be in a calm, mental state right now, and experience told her that such a lack of focus could cost the boy dearly if he lost sight of his goal. Nevertheless, such knowledge made watching the battle unfold no less tense or nerve-wracking for May, as she knew everything was on the line in this battle.

Brock watched as May clasped her hands together in a praying motion, her head lowering whilst her eyes narrowed in on the battle, her pupils darting from Charizard to Flygon to Charizard again.

'Come on, Ash!' She thought to herself uncertainly. 'You have to win this for us! You've just got to win this for us!'

"Your Charizard isn't bad, Ash." Drew complimented his opponent during a brief lull in the battle where both Pokemon recuperated slightly on their own respective halves of the field, their ragged forms breathing heavily as they did their best to recuperate as much energy as possible. "I guess you must have lucked out when you caught it."

"I told you not to underestimate us, Drew!" Ash retaliated, prompting Charizard to snort in agreement. "I'm getting May out of here and there's nothing you can do to stop me!"

"We'll just see about that." Drew hissed, a scowl quickly returning to his face. "Flygon, Dragonbreath!"

"Counter with Flamethrower, Charizard!" Ash returned.

Within moments of issuing their commands the darkened stadium was lit up by the impressive glow of two streams of fire colliding in the center of the battlefield. From Drew's corner of the field came Flygon's green flames which seemed to dance around the darkness like an elegant ballroom dancer pirouettes under the light of the moon. From Ash's side of the arena were Charizard's traditional orange-and-red flames that did their best to overpower their rivals, but to no avail. The two attacks continued to push back and forth against each other until they eventually dissipated in an enormous explosion that rocked the stadium and shrouded the entire field in a thick, dark smog.

Both Ash and Drew ducked on their respective platforms, their Pokemon sticking close to their legs as they did their best to avoid inhaling the sudden onslaught of smoke that enveloped the area. Fortunately the Blackthorne Estate's computer had been equipped with measures to prevent or control all kinds of battle-related emergencies, and as soon as the smoke rose to the top of the vaulted ceiling several vents immediately swiveled on the spot before opening and allowing the smog to escape and eventually begin to lift away from the stadium itself.

Much to the surprise of everyone watching, including the competitors themselves, once the smog had cleared they could see that both Flygon and Charizard had continued to fight, using their tails and wings to claw at each other as they soared above the arena, roaring and screeching as they did so. Flashes of Dragonbreath and Flamethrower occasionally tore through the air as the two dragon Pokemon dived towards each other, swooping and evading each other's attacks with a profound grace and power that only a dragon could have.

It was difficult for either trainer to gain a foothold in the battle - both creatures were evenly matched and neither side showed any signs of weakness or openings. May felt her heart beat a little faster as her nerves began to well up inside of her once again.

"Ash needs to play it cool and wait this out." She explained, more to herself than anyone else, though Brock and Dawn obviously paid attention upon hearing her voice.

"Pip?" Piplup questioned, raising a tiny blue eyebrow at the coordinator whose gaze remained transfixed on the stalemate that was unfolding in the center of the underground arena.

"Drew's a coordinator, and he knows how to bide his time," May continued. "But he's also like all coordinators - we're always keeping an eye on the clock."

"But this isn't a contest battle, May," Dawn replied uncertainly. "There isn't a time limit to how long the battle has to go on.

"That's right, Dawn," May conceded, turning to face the young coordinator and the small, blue penguin that sat in her lap. "But when you've been performing in contests for as long as Drew and I have it becomes second-nature in all of your matches to keep a mental clock running while you're battling."

"I see!" Brock declared, prompting the two girls to glance over at him. "So if Ash just keeps a defensive distance Drew will become frustrated and may be lulled into making a mistake just to try and end the match more quickly."

Everyone's eyes returned to the two dragons fighting in the center of the ring, flashes of fire occasionally illuminating the arena and casting shadows upon their faces. Ash and Drew's expressions had both become much more serious since the start of the match, the pressure of the occasion having finally settled in and made a lasting impression on the two of them.

Ash clenched his fist uneasily, leaning against the front of the railing as he continued to watch the match unfold, reluctant to call out a specific attack. Pikachu glanced up at the boy, its ears twitching nervously from its concern for the outcome of the match. The small electric mouse knew it would be next up to battle in the event that Charizard lost, and it also knew that Flygon's Ground-type would favor Drew over Ash even without considering the fact that Drew had a third and final Pokemon ready to use.

"Pika..." Pikachu whimpered uneasily.

"We can't just wait around all day!" Ash declared to his partner Pokemon, then pointed straight towards Flygon. "Charizard, dive and use Steel Wing!"

Charizard let out a fiery roar and quickly swooped down towards Flygon, its vivid orange wings quickly taking on a metallic shine as they took on a sharp and rigid form with which to strike. Both Drew and Flygon seemed ready for this, and a knowing smile crept onto the face of Drew.

"I knew it." He snickered. "Flygon, slam the ground to form a Sandstorm!"

Flygon emitted a loud, piercing shriek that echoed throughout the complex, hurriedly diving down in an attempt to avoid Charizard's oncoming Steel Wing. Flygon lacked most of Charizard's graceful speed, however Drew had made a point to keep the creature close to the ground, and so it quickly reached the bottom of the battlefield before Charizard's attack was able to connect, slamming its claws into the floor and kicking up an enormous cloud of dirt and debris which began to swirl around and engulf the entire stadium.

Ash quickly shielded his face from the sudden blast of dust and clay, cursing under his breath as he heard Charizard let out a painful roar - Flygon had laid a trap inside the shield of the Sandstorm, and the battle had now taken a significant turn in Drew's favor. Immediately Ash realized his mistake of allowing his impatience to get the better of him, and the spectators let out a collective gasp, all praying that Charizard would be able to shrug off whatever assault Flygon had made and continue to battle effectively.

"Oh, Ash..." May whispered to herself, her hand covering her heart in an attempt to slow the frantic beating. "Why do you make things so difficult for yourself?"

"But Charizard's a really strong Pokemon, right?" Dawn insisted, doing her best to keep the spirit of her fellow spectators as high as possible. "I mean, it's not like a little sandstorm is gonna stop it!"

Brock gritted his teeth nervously, the tenseness of the situation now managing to ruffle his normally calm and cool demeanor.

"Charizard is strong alright, but so is Drew's Flygon," Brock explained, knowing that Dawn wasn't fully familiar with the Pokemon of the Kanto and Hoenn regions. "And Flygon has a significant type advantage right now. With Charizard caught in that sandstorm Ash won't be able to use his Pokemon's full speed and power."

A shadow of doubt slowly began to form over the faces of Dawn and Piplup, their eyes staring up at the young breeder with obvious concern.

"But if Ash's last Pokemon is Pikachu," she muttered. "Then that means..."

Dawn's eyes caught a glimpse of May's clenched fist as she began to cast her gaze down towards the floor. Intrigued by this, she kept her vision locked on the young coordinator whose eyes refused to leave the battlefield despite their inability to see through the thick veil of debris which swirled all around it.

Dawn smiled, unable to help but admire the girl's determination and sheer force of will that was matched only by one other person she knew - Ash.

"He will win." May stated simply with a strong, serious tone in her voice. "He must win."


"Weavile, Metal Claw!" Paul yelled.

"Mismagius, Double Team!" Nico countered.

The small, dark, weasel-like Pokemon on Paul's side of the makeshift arena darted towards its opponent, its large, sharp claws glistening a beautiful shade of tinted orange as the sunset receded into twilight on the island city of LaRousse. Their battle had been raging for close to an hour now, and both were down to their last Pokemon of the match.

Alisa reflected on the match as Paul's Weasel's claws collided with the ground, narrowly missing Nico's Ghost-type Pokemon Mismagius, whose shadowy, purple form resembled the ragged robes and hat of a slender witch from a fairytale. It floated effortlessly above the shredded concrete of the stadium just outside the gates of the Blackthorne Estate, appearing and reappearing all around Weavile as it did its best to avoid a direct hit from the Dark-type's super-effective attacks.

The fight had been a hard-fought one, with neither side giving an inch. Nico's Gallade had slowly succumbed to Elekid's Static and was eventually disposed of by a well-placed Thunderpunch, although it certainly never stopped trying despite the odds. Mismagius, Nico's final Pokemon, quickly overpowered the worn-out Elekid, moving much faster than its opponent and finishing it off rather swiftly with Night Shade. Now the two combatants were down to their final trump cards, and Paul had managed a distinct type advantage. However, Mismagius was no pushover, and somewhat to Alisa's surprise Nico was implementing a great hit-and-run strategy in order to avoid a direct confrontation. Nico knew full well that as powerful as Mismagius was, he had trained it in offense and speed, and there was no way it would be able to survive a direct hit from a well-placed Night Slash. However, the ethereal nature of the ghost had proven to so far be more than enough to daze and confuse the scrappy Dark-type, flickering in and out of reality before firing a few blasts of dark energy with Shadow Ball. Paul viewed it as a coward's tactics, but Nico was always willing to do whatever it took to win.

"You can't keep running forever, kid." Paul snarled. "Weavile, use Hail!"

"Mismagius, Shock Wave!"

Weavile let out a frightening screech that seemed to reverberate for miles, and Alisa was convinced that everyone in the entire city down the road would take note of the noise. Suddenly a flurry of glittering white diamonds began to storm onto the field from the clouded sky above, appearing small at first but gradually increasing in size and velocity as time went by. Before Mismagius resumed its hit-and-run strategy the Ghost-type closed its eyes firmly and began to form a yellow ball of energy, flickering sparks of electricity jumping out from it like flares from the sun. Weavile quickly finished its summoning of Hail and began to dart towards the enemy, its claws now colored a grim shade of purple and appearing to morph and shift like thick tar on a hot summer's day.

Mismagius hurriedly finished its attack, blasting the Dark-type at close range whilst simultaneously being narrowly slashed by the attack. Mismagius winced in silent pain at the inflicted wound before fading out of view and reappearing close to its trainer, its shadowy eyes glancing down on its shoulder where a strange purple liquid appeared to be eating away at the very matter that made up the ghost's ethereal form.

"And Poison Jab makes its mark." Paul smirked, folding his arms confidently as he watched the hail continue to crash down onto the field, Weavile nimbly dodging it with ease whilst the wounded Mismagius let out subdued, pained wails between getting hit by the icy projectiles.

"Dammit..." Nico growled, clenching his fist tightly. "I can't lose this... Not now, not after everything..."

He glanced over to see Alisa's concerned expression from the corner of his eye.

"Not with Alisa watching..."

"Let's finish this! Night Slash, Weavile!"

Weavile let out another piercing shriek, its tiny feet kicking away from the rubble of the battlefield as it flashed its pitch-black claws in preparation for the attack. The distance between the two Pokemon was quickly bridged, and within mere instants the Dark-type was on top of the ghost, jumping with its claws extended. It was all over now.

"Mismagius, Facade!" Nico exclaimed.

"What!?" Paul gasped, his expression of complete shock mirrored on the face of his Pokemon as Mismagius smiled knowingly, a blast of dark energy slamming into Weavile's face and sending the creature hurtling into the wall of the Blackthorne Estate with a loud slam.

"Follow up with Mean Look, Mismagius!" Nico commanded, prompting the ghost to grimace through the increasing pain of its Poison Jab wound and float quickly towards the enemy as it was struggling to get back onto its feet. Mismagius' eyes flashed a deep, dark purple, prompting two beams of energy to escape from them and form dark shackles that slammed into the wrists of Weavile, helplessly chaining the creature to the wall.

"No way!" Paul cried.

"It's over." Nico chuckled to himself, placing a hand on his hips. "Perish Song, Mismagius!"

"No!" Paul yelled, watching in mute horror as Mismagius began to close its eyes and whisper a gentle lullaby. The sound of the creature's voice was a strange dichotomy of relaxing and terrifying, its tone sinking into Paul's very bones as it lulled him into a sense of dreadful complacency and fear.

Mismagius' eyes were now closed and it was completely absorbed in its somber melody - no longer even flinching at the impact of dozens of icy missiles colliding into its velvety, shadow-like skin. Paul clinched his fist. It was time.

"Weavile! Blizzard!!" He bellowed.

"Wait, what!?" Nico replied in shock. "Mismagius, Double Team!"

But both Nico and Alisa knew it was too late - once Mismagius had become absorbed in its singing there was no way of snapping it out of the attack until the song was complete. He had fallen right into Paul's trap and there was no way out.

Weavile opened its mouth, spewing hundreds of razer-sharp icicles directly into Mismagius' body. Not only was the Dark-type at point-blank range, but the power and accuracy of the Blizzard were increased anyway due to the appearance of Hail on the battlefield. Nico felt his blood boiling at how overconfident he had become following that Facade, but there was no longer anything he could do. He had lost the match and he could do nothing more than watch helplessly as Mismagius' limp form fell to the ground, its shadowy body flickering in and out of the twilight as the Pokemon slipped into unconsciousness.

Nico fell forward, slumping to his knees and doing his best to prevent tears from welling up inside of him. He had given it his all - he literally could not try any harder, and yet he still lost. He was pathetic - worse than pathetic. He couldn't beat Drew. He couldn't beat Ash. He couldn't even beat Paul. He was nothing more than a joke of a trainer and now everyone knew it - May, Paul, Alisa - everyone. And he had nowhere to run to. He'd been found in league with Team Rocket and been the fall guy after all. His life was officially over and there was nothing he could do about it.

"Heh..." He managed a chuckle in-between sniffling as the reality of his situation overcame his emotions. "I guess a homeless kid like me really can't do anything..."

Paul watched the boy out of the corner of his eye as he casually returned Weavile to its Pokeball. The hail had already begun to die down now that the battle was over, and he simply walked past the fallen body of Mismagius, stuffing Weavile's Pokeball into his jacket pocket as he did so.

As he walked past Nico he paused for a moment, standing nearby and glancing down with a look of minor disgust on his face.

"How pathetic." He commented snidely, his hands still firmly entrenched in his jacket pockets. "One loss and you fall apart. Try battling me when you learn how to train real Pokemon."

"Hey, wait!" Alisa called after the boy, running to Nico's side as she did so. "Where are you going?"

Paul didn't even bother turning to face the girl as he continued walking down the road that would take him back towards the LaRousse City harbor below.

"Back to Sinnoh; I don't have time to wait around for you losers." He called back casually in response, raising his right hand idly as he did so. "See ya."

Alisa watched the boy leave, frowning a little as his demeanor, though she quickly attended to Nico rather than dwelling on Paul's attitude for too long. She gently placed a hand on his shoulder as he remained hunched over, facing the dirt, where he felt like he belong.

"Nico...?" She whispered softly, her voice the only thing that shattered the overwhelming chirp of Nincadas hiding in the evening scrub.

"Alisa..." Nico replied, his voice full of both sorrow and exhaustion. "I'm sorry."

Alisa wore a slight smile on her face, though Nico was still staring at the ground beneath him and couldn't see her. He couldn't bring himself to face her knowing how pathetic he was.

"I'm not the one you should be apologizing to, Nico..." She answered softly; that same, soft tone that had always comforted him during their childhood together. "You should apologize to Ash and May."

Nico groaned, dragging himself onto his feet and walking dishearteningly over to Mismagius. He held out his Pokeball, absorbing the creature into a faded red beam of light and capturing it back inside the device before turning around to face the girl behind him.

"I have to go." He replied blankly, attaching Mismagius' Pokeball to his belt and walking past Alisa, heading down the road towards LaRousse City.

"Wait; go?" Alisa called after him, quickly scrambling to follow. "Go where? There's nowhere for you to go!"

"I'm sure the whole of Sinnoh is after me after that stunt we pulled with Team Rocket." Nico responded calmly, refusing to make eye contact with the girl as he looked straight ahead at the road which stretched before them.

"We?" Alisa echoed, raising an eyebrow.

"Uh," Nico stammered, clearly flustered by Alisa's questioning tone of voice. "I mean, the stunt I pulled. The stunt I pulled."

"But why, Nico?" Alisa asked, stepping in front of him and stretching her arms out to block his progress towards the city. Her face wore a stern expression, which was a look uncharacteristic for her.

"Why what?"

"You know what." She scowled as she spoke. "Why'd you try to steal all those Pokemon?"

Nico sighed, looking into the girl's deep eyes as twilight slowly lost its battle with night and the glow of the moon was swiftly becoming the only source of light they had to see each other with. It wasn't that he wanted to lie to her, but he knew the truth about her father would only upset her more.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Nico attempted to dodge the question, but it was a somewhat half-hearted attempt and Alisa could easily tell. He simply didn't want to be here right now - he wanted to be alone, where he belonged.

"Stop running away from me, Nico!" Alisa raised her voice, but Nico simply pushed past her, prompting her to dash in front of him, her arm raised.

Nico paused for a moment, confused by her motion, then quickly felt the sting of Alisa's hand slapping him across the face. The sound was actually more painful than the hit itself - it was flat and heavy, seeming to ring loudly in his ears for several minutes until it eventually receded, allowing the sound of the chirping Nincadas to resume.

The young trainer looked at the girl with wide eyes, her face still twisted into a scowl as she examined him closely, her hand ready to hit him one more time if he didn't comply.

"What's wrong with you!?" She demanded, her voice nearing the level of a scream on the empty street. To their left Nico watched a passing car drive by - the first sign of civilization he had seen in hours. His eyes stayed transfixed on the license plate until it was eventually out of sight and he had no choice but to make eye contact with the girl who continued to glare at him once more. "You've been acting like an idiot ever since we got to Sinnoh! What were you thinking? Stealing Pokemon? Kidnapping May? Coming all the way out here just for a Pokemon battle? What are you thinking!?"

"I knew you wouldn't understand," Nico's voice rising in unison. "Nobody understands! This was my one chance to start a new life and I thought that..."

He looked down at his feet sheepishly, his fingers flexing uncomfortably in his jacket pocket as he pondered whether or not to say what he was going to say.

"I thought that if I could get somebody to understand me then I wouldn't have to be alone again..." He finished, a sad note to his voice. "Like before you met me..."

Alisa's face lightened somewhat as she listened to the sincerity in the boy's voice. It was a brand new side that she had never seen to Nico - he was always brash, rude, in-your-face and refused to ever show a softer side, even when he first joined her family all those years ago as a young child. His smiles were never from happiness and his face was never dirtied by tears. A loss in a Pokemon battle had never made him so upset before. She bent down a little to try and regain eye contact, then placed a consoling hand on his shoulder.

"Nico," she spoke softly, "the only reason I don't understand is because you've never explained it to me. Please, tell me."

"You don't-"

"I do!" Alisa quickly interrupted Nico's protests. "I want you to tell me. I want you to tell me anything. We're siblings, remember?"

"Not by blood." Nico pointed out.

"I don't care about that, Nico!" She insisted. "You're still the only brother I have. I want you to trust me like I trust you."

Trust. The word echoed in Nico's head for a moment. How could she ever trust him, knowing their whole relationship had been a lie this entire time? Especially her relationship with her father - mild-mannered carnival owner by day, Pokemon thief by night.

"I just..." Nico began, pausing for a moment to consider if he really wanted to go through with this. "I just don't want to upset you, is all..."

"I'd be more upset if you didn't tell me the truth, Nico." Alisa explained firmly. "I'm your sister and I deserve to know. I don't want us to part ways like this."

Nico looked into his sister's eyes, and they were as comforting as ever - no judgment, no malice; nothing but unwavering sincerity.

An uneasy silence filled the void in Nico's mind as he considered the potential ramifications of what he was about to say. Alisa respected her father more than anyone else in the whole world - to her, he could do no wrong. Yet the reality was markedly different from her fantasy. It was an uncomfortable situation for anyone to be put on the spot for - the sister you respect more than anything having to learn the hard truth about the man who had raised her on his own since birth. Yet perhaps it would be more hard to live a false life believing in a dream world instead of waking up and seeing the real thing passing you by. Using you.

"Your father..." Nico stuttered awkwardly, his eyes shifting down to the ground. "Told me to always be prepared to take the fall for the good of the carnival..."

"The fall?" Alisa repeated, a quizzical look on her face as she raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean the fall? You make it sound like-"

"Haven't you ever wondered where we get all those new Pokemon from?" Nico interrupted her, his eyes meeting her own as his voice took on a more serious, straightforward tone. "How we get enough money to float from region to region and never stay in one place for very long? I mean, we haven't been back to Kanto in close to ten years!"

"Yeah, but..." Alisa began, not entirely certain of what her brother was trying to get at. "That's just the life of a traveling carnival, Nico!"

"No, Alisa." Nico replied calmly. "You're wrong. Your father's not just a host of a carnival." He paused for a moment, breaking their gaze as he looked up towards the moon that was suspended high up in the sky. "I'm sorry, but... He trained me to be a Pokemon thief after you took me in."

Alisa was silent for a moment - her eyes continued to look in Nico's direction, but they now seemed to be looking through his own rather than into them. She took a step back, turning on the spot and folding her arms, showing her back to the boy who instantly slumped at her reaction.

"Teaming up with Team Rocket was his idea," he continued. "He planned an exchange of money with them. It was the most ambitious project yet. After you told him your dream of hosting a Pokemon contest he thought it would be the perfect decoy, and he assigned me to..."

"Nico..." Alisa interjected. "Please... Stop."

Nico sighed and fell silent. He knew this would happen; this was just the perfect ending to the perfect day. He had lost his life - his home, his Pokemon, his freedom, and now even his family.

"I'm sorry." He spoke earnestly, kicking a small pebble from the road onto the sidewalk and watching it tumble across the asphalt. "I never meant to hurt you."

The roadway was silent for a few moments before footsteps prompted Alisa to turn and see Nico continuing to walk down the street, refusing to look back.

"Nico!" She yelled after him, causing him to stop, turning his head slightly to indicate that he was listening to her, though he could not see her. "If that's true then... Then why did you take May after Team Rocket appeared!?"

Nico's shoulders slumped once more and he let out a bitter chuckle, refusing to turn around again.

"I knew that your father would blame me for the screw-up in Sinnoh." He sighed. "I wasn't ready to lose my family, so I guess I just wanted to have someone..."

He hesitated for a moment before finishing his thoughts.

"Someone that I could try to make love me."

Alisa couldn't help but crack a depressed smile at the boy's confession.

"But I know I was stupid," he confessed. "I know you can't force somebody to love you." He craned his head up towards the night sky where the stars were now dimly twinkling overhead, as if he had an audience to his bizarre confession. "But I guess I was just caught in the moment. I wanted to believe that it was really possible to start over again."

He shifted his feet one last time before adding, "I'm sorry."

Alisa was silent as she watched the boy turn away again, his hands in his jacket pockets.

"Goodbye, Alisa."

With that he began the long walk back into LaRousse City, and all Alisa could do was watch in depressed silence as the street lights all around slowly flickered into life.


Jungle Ninja
Wow.I have read all your fanfic, and I love the way you portray all the characters. It's almost like watching a PG-13 version of the anime! I love how you can keep the element of pokemon in, unlike several other fanfics I have had the 'pleasure' of reading. My favourite bits are Paul's sarcasm moments, and the shippy moments you have between Ash and May is amazing. KEEP GOIN'!


Zephyr Trainer
Chapter Twenty-Two:
The Curtain Falls​

Waves of sand cut through the stadium far beneath the Blackthorne mansion, the dust whipping into a cyclone with such tremendous speed that the air became sharper than the blade of a cutlass. May, Brock and Dawn shielded their eyes despite their safe distance from the arena, hoping to spy a glimpse of the red dragon still battling the forces of nature within the sandy vortex.

"Pip..." Dawn's Piplup cheeped back against the onslaught of sand, the usually defiant penguin now slinking back towards its trainer in a combination of fear and concern. Dawn responded by wrapping her arms around the tiny Pokémon, her pink scarf whipping back and forth amidst the sandstorm.

Ash and Drew both remained on opposite sides of the stadium platform, their faces a serene picture of confidence. Ash adjusted his hat, twisting it around so that the peak faced towards his back, his eyes glistening and a sly smile forming on his lips.

"Charizard!" He announced, pointing his finger up towards the roof. "Fire Spin!"

"Still clinging onto the hope that you can actually win this battle, Ash?" Drew gloated, both amused and annoyed by the young trainer's tenacious spirit.

Drew's smile quickly faded, however, when several stray, orange embers began to emerge on different areas of the sandstorm. The flames slowly grew bigger, spitting and hissing until eventually the entire cyclone of dust and debris ignited into a raging inferno, the heat so intense that a warm glow could be felt all the way up in the rafters.

"Well," Brock mused, wiping the sweat from his brow as he spoke, "I certainly didn't anticipate that! Ash is just full of surprises!"

May's face beamed and she quickly pulled Dawn into an energetic hug.

"That's my Ash!" She exclaimed proudly.

Drew's Flygon's large, green eyes widened as the vortex of fire suddenly flew up to its location, bathing the creature's translucent wings in a violent orange glow. Flygon had little time to fly away from the coming onslaught, as the razor-sharp wings of Charizard smashed directly into the Ground-type Pokémon, prompting it to let out an ear-splitting screech of shock and pain. The two dragons began to tussle in mid-air, the dancing flames below engulfing them and spitting them back out as they darted across the stadium.

"Seismic Toss!" Ash commanded.

"No!" Drew cried, "you can't! Flygon!! Dragonbreath!"

Charizard flinched as a stream of bluish-yellow flames poured from Flygon's mouth, the volatile breath singing and biting into the dragon's orange scales with unyielding ferocity. Doing its best to ignore the pain Charizard's claws latched onto Flygon's hind leg, gripping firmly before launching the two Pokémon into the ground with an enormous crash. The fiery sandstorm slowly dissipated, dirt and debris falling down onto the arena floor beside the two unconscious dragons.

"A double knockout!" Dawn gasped.

"Piplup?" Piplup chuckled at its trainer, wagging its flipper at her mockingly, as if it had known what the outcome of the match was going to be the entire time, "Piplup Pip."

"That leaves a one-on-one matchup," Brock commented, his finger scratching his chin in concern.

"Roselia," Drew announced, prompting the small, plant-like Pokémon to take the stage.

"Pikachu," Ash likewise called on his final Pokémon, who nodded at its trainer with confidence.

The silhouettes of Charizard and Flygon returned to red light, their outlines shifting back into the safe confines of their Pokéballs. Ash and Drew glared at each other from across the stadium and a tangible sense of pressure could be felt by all in the arena, as if it were a kind of electricity which flowed between each person and Pokémon. The final battle between two old rivals was about to begin.

Pikachu's fur seemed to bristle with energy - at least, a lot more than it usually did - as the tiny rodent approached the center of the arena to meet its new foe. Both Roselia and Pikachu were in many ways the flagship Pokémon of both trainers, and so it was almost like a form of dramatic irony that they should both endure a final showdown against one another. Pikachu had fought a difficult battle against Nico, though it had also had ample time to rest and recuperate since then: Electric-types were renowned for their ability to speedily recover from minor injuries. It certainly couldn't beat the rejuvenation of a Pokémon Center, but it would have to do, because this upcoming battle would undoubtedly be a tough one.

"Final round," the robotic voice of the battle system's announcer echoed through the now mostly-ruined underground stadium, "begin."

Pikachu immediately dashed towards the opponent, its Agility maneuver allowing the small creature to circle the Grass-type with lightning-like speed. Both Ash and his Pokémon were wary, unwilling to make the first move. Roselia and Drew were likewise
on the defensive; Drew knew that there was no possible way Roselia could compete against Pikachu in terms of speed or reflexes. Instead the young coordinator would have to use his wits to stay one step ahead of the speedy rodent, something that he knew he would have no trouble doing.

"Roselia, plant your roots into the ground!"

Three simultaneous gasps erupted from the stadium stands as the Grass-type Pokémon obeyed its young trainer, numerous dark-brown roots emerging from beneath its petals and burrowing into the dusty arena floor below.

"Ingrain?" Dawn asked out loud, frowning slightly in confusion. "But why? That makes no sense... It's true that Roselia's life force will be constantly replenished by the nutrients in the soil, but it won't be able to move! It's a sitting duck compared to Pikachu's speed!"

May sighed slightly beneath her breath, a worried tone evident in the girl's voice without her having to even utter a single word.

"That's not going to matter to Drew," she explained simply, "not when Roselia can manipulate the whole field..."

"What?" Both Dawn and Brock questioned the young coordinator in unison, though her explanation would quickly become apparent on the battle arena below.

Slowly a slight rumble could be heard beneath the stadium floor, prompting both Ash and Pikachu to adjust their footing. The shaking began to grow larger and larger, until eventually Ash could feel the battle platform on which he stood quivering beneath his feet. Soon the roof began to quake, the rumbling becoming louder and louder still until suddenly...


Pikachu's eyes traced the edges of the stadium grounds. Nothing appeared to be any different, though the roots beneath Roselia were now glowing a subtle, lime-green color: a typical side-effect of the Ingrain process, and not the kind of thing which would have caused such a powerful tremor. Warily the yellow creature began to pick up speed to circle its opponent once more when suddenly an enormous, thorny vine burst up out of the ground mere inches in front of it, dirt and rock flying in all directions as the vine ascended towards the roof of the building.

"Pika!?" Pikachu squeaked in surprise, quickly backing away from the vine only to walk straight into another. "Pi!?"

Within moments the entire stadium had erupted into lush, green thorns: it was a literal jungle of flora, with brightly-colored flowers and thick, powerful vines forming an
enormous canopy above the field. Pikachu couldn't help but feel more than intimidated, carefully backing away from Roselia who remained in the center of the field, humming an alluring and nonchalant melody throughout the building.

"That..." Brock spoke with a slack-jawed expression on his face, not quite able to believe his eyes, "that is one powerful Grass-type Pokémon!"

May nodded soberly, though she was somewhat surprised by Drew's eagerness to use his trump card so early in the battle: he was clearly planning on ending this match sooner rather than later. It was certainly unusual for him, as coordinators were typically renowned for reveling in the battle, drawing their opponents to frustration and despair while their own Pokémon effortlessly dominated the field. Drew was finally taking Ash seriously.

"Pikachu!" Ash called out to his Pokémon, craning his neck back and forth in an effort to keep the Electric-type within his sights. "Don't let it overwhelm you! Keep moving!"

Pikachu squeaked in confirmation of the order, its tiny legs sprinting to and fro between the tree-like vines which now littered the entire stadium. Enormous thorns fractured the ground, their points sharper than any knife could ever hope to be. Pikachu ducked low, its angular tail barely scraping one low-hanging bramble as it dashed its way through the labyrinth. The makeshift forest had mostly finished growing by now, the vines and branches coming to an eventual halt, their leathery exteriors grinding against the ravaged dirt of the stadium floor and kicking up a final cloud of dust that lingered in the air like an eery, muddy fog.

"It's no use, Ash," Drew insisted mockingly from afar, "my Roselia can feel everything that goes on in this forest: every step your Pokémon takes can be instantly tracked. Just give up and accept that you're the weaker trainer here."

Ash remained calm and composed in the face of Drew's taunts, though Pikachu did little to contain its anger: small sparks beginning to generate from its red cheeks. Within moments its entire body was glowing like a neon sign, pure electrical energy pulsing from the tiny rodent's body like the waves of the ocean crashing against a rocky shoreline.

"So predictable, just like its trainer," Drew chuckled.

A blast of petals slammed into the ground where Pikachu stood, the yellow creature just barely able to leap away in time to dodge the assault. Their floral beauty was deceptive: the multi-colored kaleidoscope of rose petals had fractured the ground even more than any steel claw or rocky throw ever could. Soon Pikachu was scampering throughout the forest, ducking vines that attempted to trap the tiny Pokémon while at the same time evading a never-ending barrage of deadly rose petals.

The seconds ticked past like minutes, minutes rolling along like hours. Pikachu was exhausted, diving low then leaping high, flicking bolts of energy from its tail just to deflect yet another surprise attack from the living forest which was coiling around it like a Seviper tightening around its prey. The forest watched with eery, soulless eyes, each weed vibrating as Pikachu's little paws drew near, communicating to their floral master on where to strike next.

Ash gritted his teeth: Pikachu wouldn't be able to hold on like this forever. Not only was the battle an intense physical trial on the Pokémon, but it was a colossal mental struggle too. Pikachu was no longer able to see its trainer, no longer able to glance over for a reassuring nod or thumbs-up. Pikachu was alone, with only its wits and the training it and Ash had shared over so many years to guide it through this trial.

"Pika..." Pikachu panted wearily. "Pika Pi... Kachu!"

Another burst of energy surged through the creature, its minute frame darting in and out of another thicket of thorns and brambles before suddenly stumbling upon an enormous bulb in what was once the center of the stadium. The lush, green monument pulsed with energy, glowing roots transporting vast amounts of nutrients directly into its leafy confines, its exterior littered with beautiful, blooming roses painted in all shades and colors and hues. This had to be it: Roselia's protective cocoon.

"Pika!" Pikachu knew what to do, squeaking out a valiant battle cry before filling its body with the most powerful electric current it could muster. The electric mouse's entire being coursed with energy, its fur bristling and standing up on end, energy crackling like loud thunder all around it.

The vines of the forest quickly scrambled to attack the creature, suddenly realizing its plan, but it was too late. With a tremendous flash of light Pikachu's body was engulfed by lightning, springing up from the dusty ground and launching itself directly towards Roselia's bulb. As it soared through the air time seemed to stop, though whether this was merely an illusion of the mind or a reaction of the intense energy stored within its body Pikachu didn't know, nor did it particularly care. Only one thought was racing through Pikachu's mind right now: victory.

Spinning like a powerful tornado Pikachu suddenly turned its back to the target, the monumental force of its Volt Tackle now transferring into a mighty swing of its Iron Tail. The attack collided, a minor tear forming on the bulb where it had struck the blow. The entire arena fell silent, only the blinding light of Pikachu's attack able to pierce the thick mass of vines and foliage inside the stadium. Slowly but surely the wound began to increase in size. One inch... Two inches... Soon the gash had ruptured the entire bulb, shattering Roselia's protective cocoon and immediately sapping the Grass-type of its energy, the roots beneath its feet burning into dust as it was sent careening to the other side of the arena, the forest all around the two Pokémon wilting away.

"Alright, Pikachu!" Ash yelled, unable to contain his excitement as the vines which had once covered the stadium now receded, yielding a glimpse of the trainers and spectators once more. "You did it! You really did it!"

Pikachu nodded happily, though the creature was clearly exhausted, still panting heavily from the enormous effort that last attack had required. Still, it couldn't rest now: Roselia had yet to be recalled into its Pokéball, and that meant that Drew still planned to win.

"Roselia!" Drew snarled in anger and astonishment, rushing down to the edge of the stadium. "Roselia get up! Stand up, you pathetic rosebush!"

Ash's eyes widened, watching in disbelief as his opponent castigated his very own teammate: the Pokémon that was his dearest and most loyal companion. Roselia's entire body quivered, wracked by pain and exhaustion. It had taken every ounce of strength for the Grass-type to grow and manipulate that forest, and yet it still wasn't good enough. It breathed out a vague semblance of a whisper, reaching out its brightly-colored arms in an effort to get back on its feet, but it wasn't to be. Roselia was simply defeated.

"Ro-" the plant-like Pokémon wheezed, its dark eyes watching its trainer with a deeply apologetic look, "Rose... Lia..."

"No!" Drew screamed, unable to accept his defeat at the hands of a mere commoner from Kanto. "No!"

"It's over, Drew," came the sudden voice of an older woman from the entrance to the underground arena, "accept defeat and take it like a man."

Everyone turned to face the source of this new stranger, though her voice sounded oddly familiar. Nobody's eyes widened as much as Drew's, however, when they saw who it was. She was unmistakable, even in the gloomy light of this underground lair, her red hair shimmering like the fiery mane of a Rapidash, her eyes sparkling like sapphires. On her slim body she wore her trademark yellow jacket, a red and black skirt running straight down to her knees with matching boots that covered most of any part of her legs that remained exposed. It was none other than the multiple-time Grand Festival champion, Soledad.

"Soledad?" Drew gasped, his eyes brimming with tears, "but what... What are you...?"

"When May contacted me on my Pokénav I knew something important was going on," the older woman explained, slowly making her way down the main pathway of the arena before stopping at the edge of the stands, her eyes burrowing deep into Drew's own from across the room. "Fortunately I just happened to be staying in LaRousse City myself."

"No, I won't let you!" Drew cried, dashing over to where Roselia now lay, the Grass-type Pokémon barely hanging onto consciousness. "I won't let you see me like this! I will win!"

"Drew, stop!" Soledad exclaimed, her hand reaching out in a vain effort to stop the boy, but it was too late: she knew she couldn't make it across the stadium in time. He had finally gone too far.

"You're going to make me win, Roselia!" Drew roared, raising his clenched fist before slamming it down on the weary Grass-type. "Even if it means changing what you are you're going to make me win!"

What at first had appeared to be a punch to the petite rose Pokémon soon turned out to be so much more, for nobody in the entire arena except Drew knew what he was planning. His trump card hadn't been the forest after all. No, Drew was far more cunning than that, and just the mere idea that Ash's defiance had pushed him this far enraged him deeply. He had been planning to make this move eventually, but now was just as good a time as any.

Concealed within the palm of Drew's hand was none other than a small, pale-blue stone with a miniature gem set in the center of it. This small gem glowed like the soft flicker of candlelight, a warm aura permeating everything it touched. Yet upon contact with the exhausted Grass-type Pokémon the entire stone became engulfed with a blinding light. Roselia, unable to combat or even analyze what was going on, simply yielded to the stone's power, its body twisting and contorting, the entire silhouette of the Pokémon changing within the bright, white light exuded by the stone. Soon the entire arena had been swallowed up by the light, and Ash and his friends could do nothing but shield their eyes in horror and confusion.

Eventually the stone's light began to fade and the true nature of what had just taken place was able to be witnessed by all: Roselia had evolved. No longer the petite Grass-type it once was, it now towered viciously over Pikachu, its once happy and energetic face replaced by what appeared to be a mask of dark jade, white bouquets of sharp roses lining the top of its head. The bouquets that once comprised its hands had also grown in size, and a large trail of thorns snaked their way down the creature's arms, their knife-like edges glittering under the stadium's gloomy fluorescent lights.

"Drew..." Soledad whispered under her breath in shock, her eyes still wide and staring at what had just taken place. "How could you?"

"What is that?" Dawn asked, though the question was not really directed towards anybody in particular.

"Roserade..." Brock gasped.

"Now, Roserade!" Drew yelled triumphantly, pointing directly towards the Pikachu which stood nervously on the other side of the stadium, its paws slowly backing away from the newly-revitalized opponent. "Tear that Pikachu apart! Let them know that I'm the most powerful coordinator in all of LaRousse City!"

"Pikachu, get back!" Ash commanded, though the Electric-type needed little encouragement, quickly dodging a barrage of thorny vines which whipped across the field at breathtaking speed.

"Drew, this isn't fair!" May yelled over the din of the Pokémon battle, rushing to Ash's side and gripping his arm tightly as the two of them watched helplessly from afar. "Stop it right now!"

"Shut up!" Drew snapped back, "I'm going to win! I don't care what it takes! You all need to be put in your place!"

The group watched as Pikachu continued to dodge the never-ending assault of thorny vines, each one seeming to lash at the creature with more and more speed and ferocity than the one before. Pikachu was exhausted, faded sparks flickering from its cheeks as it hung onto what little reserves of power it had left. It jumped over one vine, then ducked below another. A quick roll to the side of a bramble followed next, but then a shower of razor-sharp petals came streaming towards the Pokémon from above. Unable to react quickly enough, Pikachu let out a heart-wrenching squeak as the petals made contact with its fur, slicing deep into the skin. A small trail of blood began to form beneath Pikachu's rear paw and it glanced over towards Ash pleadingly.

"Pika Pi..."

"Pikachu, no!" Ash called out to his Pokémon, reaching for the railing of the stadium and jumping down onto the dusty floor below. "Stop the battle! I give up!"

"I don't care about that, you fool!" Drew screamed. "I'm going to teach you all a lesson you won't forget! Roserade, use your Magical Leaf!"

Without thinking Ash leapt in front of Pikachu, his arms nursing the creature, his back angled to deflect the oncoming assault of petals. He braced himself, ready to feel the biting sting of razor-sharp leaves slicing into his back. Instead, all he felt was the warm, soothing heat of a roaring fire.

Ash and Pikachu both glanced up behind them in unison, confused. The concern on their faces soon faded, however, when they both realized what had happened.

"Blaziken," the voice of May's enormous, fiery Pokémon spoke warmly, flashing a beaked smile at the two of them.

"Blaziken?" Ash stammered, confused but certainly relieved. He looked over to his side to see May rushing over to the trainer and his Pokémon, a look of equal parts concern and determination shining in her eyes. "May, how did-"

"Don't worry about that right now, Ash Ketchum," May offered with a smile, an unwavering strength obvious in every facial feature, her hand warmly taking him by the elbow and pulling him to his feet, "let's just get this done."

Her smile grew slightly. This was a moment she wondered if she would ever experience again: to battle by the side of her very best friend. The love of her life. The stakes were different this time, though. Those playful times in Kanto were far behind them now: the days where she was little more than a child taking those first few tentative steps into the real world. Exploring, traveling, adventuring, contests and Pokémon. What else could a young girl have wanted?

Now things seemed so much darker. There was light, yes, but also an undeniable sense of growing up; of those youthful possibilities slipping away from her as she tried desperately to hold them back. Perhaps that was why she had always loved Ash: his optimism, his courage, his strong sense of justice. He truly was the man of her dreams - he was the one who kept her going when even she had given up hope. Now it was time to return the favor.

"Don't make me do this to you, May," Drew insisted, "this isn't a fight you need to be involved with."

Blaziken darted to the left, narrowly avoiding the vines which stormed through the dirt beneath its feet. The ground cracked and groaned under the stress of Roserade's attacks, a veritable army of flora pursuing the Fire-type with relentless ferocity. Blaziken's fist ignited in an inferno of flames, slamming into the ground and forming a wave of fire that consumed the encroaching plant life, stemming the tide of green for a few precious moments before the vines redoubled their efforts and continued the assault.

"Why do you insist on helping this loser!?" Drew barked. "I've beaten him! He's nothing!"

"You didn't beat anybody, Drew," May responded with equal fervor, her hand tightly gripping her favorite keepsake, "you know as well as I do Roselia was down for the count! And then you forced it to evolve? How could you, Drew?"

"I'll do whatever it takes to win!" Drew countered.

"You're not the same coordinator who inspired me throughout my travels in Hoenn," May explained, "you're nothing like the man I thought you were! I thought you always insisted on working with your Pokémon! That the show was more important than the end result! What happened to that coordinator, Drew? Did he ever exist at all? Or was it all just in my head?"

"You talk too much, May!" Drew snarled. "Roserade, finish that oversized chicken off so I can shut its trainer up and let her know her place!"

"That's not going to happen, Drew!" Ash interrupted, slowly rising to his feet, Pikachu leaping down, sparks flickering from its cheeks as it stood ready to do battle once more. "May and I will show you what real Pokémon training is all about! Together!"

"Ash!" May gasped in surprise, turning to her best friend. "What about Pikachu? It's injured! We need to get it to a Pokémon Center! I can't-"

May's voice was silenced as Ash's finger pressed against her lips. She shivered at his touch, unable to help a wide smile break out as their eyes met. Time stopped for a moment, the light of Blaziken's attacks pulsing like a candle flickering in a windy corridor, the fire reflected in the two young trainers' eyes. May paused, suddenly noticing something in Ash's left hand. The boy smiled knowingly, then opened up his palm to reveal one half of a ribbon: a very familiar ribbon from their past times in Kanto. He had remembered!

"Ash, you-" she gasped in surprise, "you remembered?"

Ash simply smiled and nodded.

"I always keep my good luck charm close, May," he said with a chuckle, "don't you?"

Sure enough May opened up her own palm to reveal her half of the ribbon, worn and smudged from many months of constant travel and the occasional forlorn gaze, but by no means ill-cared for. The two trainers carefully pressed the two halves together, the delicate cuts of the fabric brushing lazily against each other. A perfect fit, just like all those many months ago.

"I prefer to call it my Good Love Charm," May answered with a playful giggle, smiling as she reached up on her tiptoes and kissed Ash on the cheek.

As much as they wanted to enjoy the moment they both knew that they had a job to do. Ash had let May slip through his fingers once before, and this time he wouldn't let her go. Wrapping one arm around her he pointed directly towards Roserade.

"Pikachu!" He cried. "Volt Tackle!"

"Blaziken!" May yelled. "Blaze Kick!"

"I don't care how many of you I have to fight!" Drew bellowed. "Roserade! Crush them all with Frenzy Plant!"

Roserade remained silent, prompting Drew to raise an eyebrow. He approached the creature, uncertain as to its lack of response, when suddenly another enormous vine tore up the ground beneath the young coordinator's feet. Drew scrambled away as fast as he could, only to be trapped by yet another thorn rising up out of the ground. Within moments the entire stadium was covered in dense vegetation, vines and brambles screeching through the air at incredible speeds, their targets seemingly random and unpredictable.

Pikachu and Blaziken's attacks continued unfazed, however. It was clear that Roserade's unstable evolution had caused the Pokémon to go out of control, attacking everyone and everything within its sights. Ash had experienced this many years ago with Charizard: what was once a perfectly respectable and eager-to-please Pokémon had quite literally transformed into an aggressive and untamed dragon overnight. It had taken many months of travel and training to realign Charizard's savage nature back into the loyal companion that it had once been, but it was certainly possible. Ash wasn't an expert on Pokémon evolution by any means - that was typically Brock's forte - but he was certain that such a traumatic evolution did little to help the temperament of a newly-evolved Pokémon, especially one with the extensive powers and abilities that Roserade so clearly possessed.

Pikachu squeaked as ferociously as it could, the tiny rodent leaping head-first towards the Roserade which towered above it, the plant-like creature's dark, shadowy features slowly becoming illuminated by the incoming missile of electric energy. With a flick of its petals Roserade pushed back the assault, a stream of deadly leaves forcing Pikachu back towards its trainer. Blaziken's attack was likewise foiled, a row of enormous, spike-like branches tearing out of the ground and slamming straight into the charging Fire-type's stomach. Blaziken's lurched backwards, clutching its wounds as it shuffled back towards where Pikachu had landed in an effort to regroup.

Soon the entire building was beginning to shake, the neon lights above flickering in and out of life. Soledad watched the ceiling with an intrigued yet calm demeanor while Brock and Dawn approached.

"We need to get out of here!" Dawn exclaimed with worry, quickly recalling Piplup back into the safe confines of its Pokéball. "Can't they stop the battle? This is no time to-"

"It's fine," Soledad responded, her eyes closed and a knowing smile on her face, "this battle won't last much longer."

"Roserade, stop!" Drew screamed above the din of falling debris and constantly-shifting brambles. "Stop it, I said! I'm your trainer! You have to finish those two off, not me! What are you doing!?"

"May..." Ash turned to the young coordinator, his expression serious and his eyes solemn.

May smiled at the boy, reaching up to remove the cap from his head and placing it on top of her own. It was a slightly tighter fit, her luxurious chestnut locks doing their best to avoid being flattened, but Ash had to admit: she looked great, and she seemed to know it, too, flashing the boy a mischievous wink.

"I know," she replied calmly, "let's finish this. Blaziken!"


The two trainers' voices rose in unison, their arms rising towards the ceiling before pointing directly at Roserade.

"Volt Kick!!" Ash and May both cried.

Without any hesitation Pikachu leapt on top of Blaziken's head, its tail raised high and its body beginning to slowly glow. As the tiny Electric-type began to charge its powers Blaziken worked to frantically dodge Roserade's oncoming barrage of vines and petals. The Grass-type's attacks were coming faster and harder than ever now, as if it were sucking all the energy from the entire stadium in order to fuel its deadly rampage with an endless supply of vigor. Blaziken's fists sent fire and ash in every direction, the Fire-type trying its best to stay on its feet and keep the ferocious vegetation at bay.

"Pika... Chu!!!" Pikachu roared, engulfing both Blaziken and itself in a fireball of electricity. Immediately Blaziken launched into the air, its eyes locked firmly onto the unfazed Roserade down below. Pikachu's tail twitched, drawing electricity from every conceivable location in the underground stadium: the light fixtures, the electronic scoreboards: even the miniature energy capsules located inside each of the trainers' Pokéballs was used to empower the tiny yellow mouse.

With a mighty shout Blaziken shot down towards Roserade, its leg outstretched and its foot engulfed in a potent cocktail of fire and lightning. Roserade's eyes slowly widened and it raised its bouquet-covered arms to block the attack, but it was obviously a futile gesture. A tremendous crash rocked the entire room, dust and smoke billowing out from the point of impact and prompting everyone in the room to duck to the ground, Ash's arms covering May from any potential of stray debris.

A thick silence clung to the air for what seemed like minutes, the dust slowly beginning to settle as the plants and shrubbery summoned by the now-unconscious Roserade began to wither and die all around the room. The floor of the stadium bore little resemblance to an official Pokémon field anymore, having been torn and shredded over and over like a construction site without direction. Blaziken and Pikachu could be seen panting heavily by the collapsed form of Roserade and a whimpering Drew. Next to Ash May's body began to stir.

"Ash?" She whispered, slowly opening her eyes to see his bright, cheerful face and thick crop of jet-black hair. "Are you okay?"

"I'm great, May," he replied happily, "and it's all thanks you."


Zephyr Trainer
I keep my promises.

What Tomorrow Brings​

"I'm telling you, Alisa," Dawn's trademark excitement was as prevalent as ever as she spoke with the young carnival worker who continued to hoist box after box of equipment into the large truck beside them, "you should have seen it! After the battle Soledad scolded Drew - told him to grow up and stop living in the past. He never cared about May; he only ever cared about winning and having a replacement for Soledad: the one girl he couldn't charm. It was just like something out of a movie or something!"

Alisa chuckled slightly and wiped her brow, the bright sun of Sinnoh beating down on her from high above.

"Or a bad fanfiction," she suggested with a laugh, prompting Dawn to scowl slightly at the girl.

Dawn sighed, leaping down from the wooden crate and stretching out against it with a yawn. It had been a tiring week, that was for sure, but now it was all over. She was still new to the world of Pokémon, but was this what was going to await her throughout all her travels with Ash? Was this the type of adventure she could expect to be commonplace as they journeyed through the lands of Sinnoh and beyond?

"Oh," Dawn remembered, her voice suddenly growing sheepish and her expression subdued, "I'm sorry about what happened with your carnival, Alisa."

Alisa sighed, turning to lean her back against the open truck and stare into the bright sky above. A jet plane could be seen slowly weaving its way across the vast expanse of blue, wispy white trails marking its voyage for all to see.

"It's fine, Dawn," she spoke with a somewhat apprehensive tone, "besides it had to happen sooner or later. To be honest I'm glad I found out now. With my father in police custody we were able to return all the Pokémon to their rightful trainers. I'm glad that I'm no longer being forced to live a lie."

Dawn nodded sagely, then frowned once again as she remembered one slight discrepancy.

"What about Nico?"

Alisa couldn't help but break into a smile at the sound of her childhood friend's name. She glanced over to her young coordinator friend knowingly.

"They never did find him," she explained, "but somehow... I know he's safe. He wasn't such a bad guy. Just a little..."

Alisa paused for a moment, not quite able to find the word she was looking for.


"Hey you two!" Ash's voice pulled both of the girls away from their memories, Brock and Pikachu walking just behind him. "Dawn, are you ready to leave?"

"What!?" Dawn exclaimed, "but I didn't even get any cotton candy yet!"

"Oh, about that," Alisa offered with a sheepish grin on her face, "that was kind of one of the first things I had packed."

"Are you kidding me!?" Dawn yelled, prompting a chuckle from both Ash and Brock. "Hey, wait... Where's May?"

"She just left," Ash replied, glancing down towards Pikachu who wore a saddened expression on its face, "she had to catch the last ferry to Johto so she was in kind of a rush."

"Ash you idiot!" Dawn snapped, smacking him playfully on the shoulder. "This is true love! You're supposed to chase after her! Follow her to Johto! Defend her from crazed villains with delusions of grandeur rattling around in their brains!"

"Aw c'mon Dawn," Ash joked back in response, "you know I'm no good at that sort of stuff..."

"Pika Pi..." Pikachu groaned beside Ash's feet, clearly not amused by its trainer's constant state of naïveté.

"And besides," he continued, "there's an old saying I heard once... If you really love something you have to set it free: if it comes back, you'll know it's the real thing."

Dawn, Brock, Alisa and Pikachu all stared at the boy with wide, disbelieving eyes.

"Uh..." Ash stammered, noticing their awkward stares and quickly becoming flustered. "What? Is that... Weird?"

"Pika..." Pikachu squeaked.

"Ash," Brock laughed, taking the young man to the side, his arm resting sagely on his shoulder, as if to convince him that he was a sage old man in matters of the heart, "that's one of the most normal things I've ever heard you say."


May sighed, her cheek resting in one hand as she leaned over the railing of the ferry, the cold, Sinnoh waves lapping at the hull of the ship, their ebbing and flowing almost begging her to return to dry land and run back to where her Ash was waiting for her.

The sea breeze was chilly and she shivered in time to the lapping of the waves: above her several Wingulls circled the otherwise pristine blue sky. She reached for her chest; her heart ached to see him again, but they both had their own dreams and adventures to pursue.

May smiled knowingly. They may have had separate dreams right now, but eventually their paths would cross again: that was undeniable. Still that knowledge didn't make their parting taste any less bitter. She frowned, readjusting her bright-red bandana before wandering back into the ship's passenger lounge and taking a seat at the bar.

"Oran berry juice please," she requested from the bartender as she removed her fanny pack and placed it on the bar in front of her.

May had always been somewhat nervous about long trips, double and triple-checking her bags whenever the desire came upon her, however with the rush to board the last ferry to Johto and her tearful farewell to Ash she had neglected her paranoid duties. Her hand rummaged through the fanny pack to fondly retrieve her half of the ribbon. Smiling she gently brushed her finger over the edge where it had been torn in two, then raised an eyebrow as she noticed a white scrap of paper jutting out from the opening of the bag.

It was plain copier paper that had been cut down in size and folded twice. Intrigued, May slowly unfolded the note and couldn't help but crack a warm smile as her heart leapt in her chest. There, in black ink next to a slightly-smudged drawing of a ribbon were the words 'I love you.'