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Thread: Perfect Strangers (Multishipping, R)

  1. #1
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    Default Perfect Strangers (Multishipping, R)



    I was growing bored of my other writing so I figured I'd take a whack at serialising characters that had already been pretty well developed. This is what I've come up with; a soap-opera esque film noir ship that features in some way each of the following categories:

    Advanceshipping
    Contestshipping
    Orangeshipping
    Pokeshipping
    And something I wasn't sure how to name.

    Well, that's about all I've got to say in the admin department for now, so here's chapter one.
    Note: [what Ash says in the prologue is not to be taken seriously; feel free to post praise / criticisms / death threats as you see fit]
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    EDIT: All the cool kids were doing it, so here are direct links:

    Chapter One: Come Together
    Chapter Two: Scar Tissue
    Chapter Three: Beginning to See the Light
    Chapter Four: The Great Pretender
    Chapter Five: Little Doubt Goes a Long Way
    Chapter Six: Soul Saver
    Chapter Seven: Come Fly With Me
    Chapter Eight: Cheshire Cat
    Chapter Nine: Devil's Party
    Chapter Ten: The Reason a Dog
    Chapter Eleven: Sharpshooter
    Chapter Twelve: Rock and Roll Suicide
    Chapter Thirteen: Cells + Epilogue
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    October 27, 11.00am
    ASH


    I’m going to tell you the true story of what happened last June on two conditions.

    One; you don’t interrupt me. It’s a pretty complicated story and if you break my train of thought, I’ll probably leave out something important, and then you’ll complain afterwards that it doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to put up with any of your complaining.

    Two; you don’t judge us based on our actions. Everybody does stupid things, especially in youth. We all make mistakes, and we all made mistakes. Some mistakes were worse than others. Just remember that you loved us before, and that shouldn’t change based on what I’m going to tell you.

    Can you agree to those conditions? Good. I’ll tell you then. There are a couple of gaps in my own memory, but the others have been pretty good straightening them out. Everyone remembers things a bit differently, but I’ve put together what I think is the most accurate version of the story.

    But here’s a warning, it’ll probably take me a while to tell it. You’ll just have to be patient.

    There’s one thing I learned from all this, and I want to share it with you now so that you’ll remember I wasn’t always such a horrible guy.

    You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.

    June 10, 2:30pm
    ASH


    I saw him going down the stairs into the Dark Arena. Sidney was giving a demonstration down there. I was planning to go and Drake and Lance at the Dragon Arena, but since it had been so long, I figured I should go and say hi.

    I caught up with him just as he reached the bottom of the stairs and we stepped to one side. He sure was a lot taller now, but I guess it had been a good six years since we travelled together.

    ‘What are you doing here?’ he asked, clearly surprised.

    It wasn’t a particularly intelligent question; certainly he should have assumed that I would be here. I was never the kind of guy who would miss an exhibition like this.

    ‘Misty’s sisters couldn’t make it, so she gave their tickets to me and Tracey.’

    ‘Oh that’s right, you still keep in contact with Misty, don’t you?’

    There was no mistaking the disapproval in his voice. I think he always wanted me to hook up with his sister, but that was never going to happen.

    ‘Yes, Max, I still keep in contact with Misty. And we’re still just friends,’ I added after seeing the look on his face. ‘To tell the truth, I forgot you’d be here too. Your dad’s giving his demo tomorrow, isn’t he?’

    ‘Sure is,’ Max boasted, lightening up considerably. ‘He’s got an exhibition match against Isabelle from Cobalt Crest. She uses poison types,’ he added. Max was as full of information as ever.

    At least some things don’t change.

    ‘That’s great,’ I said, trying to sound enthusiastic. ‘I’ll be there for sure.’

    We both knew that I probably wouldn’t be.

    ‘I can’t believe I forgot you’d be here,’ I said, breaking the silence after a few moments. ‘I’ll get Misty and Brock, and when today’s demos are over we can all hang out. It’ll be just like old times.’

    ‘Sure,’ Max said with a tolerant smile. ‘I’ll tell May.’

    May.

    Another person I’d completely forgotten.

    She was roughly the same age as me, and like I said before, there were more than a few people who wanted us to hook up. It wasn’t going to happen though. We had different goals. Mine to be a Pokémon master, and hers to be a top coordinator. She achieved her goal earlier this year. I meant to give her a call and congratulate her, but didn’t get around to it.

    ‘Okay Max, I’ll meet you outside the Water Arena at about eight, okay?’

    ‘Sure thing, Ash.’

    Max continued down into the Dark Arena, and I headed off towards the Dragon Arena. But I wasn’t that interested in seeing Drake and Lance now. I was thinking about tonight, having to see May again.

    May. Damn.

    The last time we’d seen each other I’d made a real fool of myself. It was her sixteenth birthday, and there had been tequila and karaoke involved, and without Pikachu there to stop me, I’d confessed to something that even now I wasn’t a hundred percent sure was true.

    For some inexplicable reason, I told her I loved her.

    And she punched me in the stomach.

    We’d only spoken once since then, completely by accident. I was at Professor Oak’s lab when she rang for her fortnightly check on her Ivysaur. I’d answered the phone, and after a few awkward and jolty exchanges, I hung up again.

    That was our precedent. Hopefully tonight would go more smoothly.

    May. Damn.

    June 10, 7:56pm
    BROCK


    They used to say that the ladies made me fly off the handle, and in a way they did. But nobody complained about me after Ash started taking interest in the ladies. He upstaged me every time, the lusty *******. He was a good guy and all, but he was ruled by his hormones.

    The thing about Ash was that he fell hard and fast, and then took months to get back out of the grind. Take his first girlfriend, Christina. She was nothing special, really, but Ash just thought the sun shone out of her. As far as he was concerned, she was perfection, a goddess, and nobody could say a word against her.

    She cheated on him eight times, and eight times he forgave her and took her back. They’d probably still be together, cheating and forgiving, if Tracey and I hadn’t run her out of town. Never gladder to see the back of someone as when she left. She moved to Johto somewhere. I can’t remember where.

    The only way Ash could get over one girl was to fall for another. He was trapped in some demented cycle, never giving himself a break. That was what led to this business with May. I don’t think he ever really loved her. I think he just wanted to to get over whichever girl he had just before then.

    I got there first. Ash was always late, and Misty was wrapping up a demo inside. Tracey was watching, and what happened to the other two I don’t know. In any case, Max was the next to arrive.


    It was good to see him again. I don’t think I’d seen him since he became a trainer.

    I’d run into May a couple of times at contests, where she was often inextricably tangled up with Drew, but Max had sort of vanished off of my radar.

    ‘Evening, kid,’ I said as he walked up slowly, his head still stuck in the event program.

    ‘Hey Brock!’ he said. He seemed glad to see me, thrusting his hand out and shaking mine. He had a pretty strong grip, considering he was only fourteen.

    We shot the breeze for a while before Tracey and Misty came out of the Water Arena. More greetings were exchanged and the four of us sat down on the benches just outside the tank, talking loudly but silently wondering what had happened to Ash and May.

    Surely that business hadn’t gotten them afraid of each other?

    They were just kids, but I expected more than this from them.

    Besides, it’s not as if May hasn’t moved on. Even if Ash is scared of her, there’s no excuse why she shouldn’t be here. Max said she was coming.

    They were probably just late.

    Just running late.

    June 10, 8:17
    ASH


    I couldn’t go. How could I?

    I don’t know why I’d suggested it in the first place. I knew May would be here.

    I changed my pants for the millionth time and turned to Pikachu.

    ‘What do you think?’

    ‘Pika,’ said the little mouse, shaking his head at me. He hadn’t liked any of the past three pairs of pants. Maybe he was just screwing with me, the yellow *******. I wasn’t in any mood for any of his shenanigans.

    I went back to my blue jeans and didn’t even ask Pikachu what he thought. If I knew Pikachu, he probably thought I was worried about seeing May again.

    It disturbs me how much smarter Pikachu is than me.

    I looked at my watch and realised I was more than ten minutes late. This would look bad. It’d look as if I was scared of seeing her again. I wasn’t.

    I grabbed my favourite blue jacket and ducked out of the door, Pikachu at my heels. He ran up my leg and perched on my shoulder as I locked the hotel room and pocketed the key. I brought Pikachu, but I left the others behind.

    I wouldn’t need them, surely. I was just meeting friends.

    I whipped down the stairs out into the cool evening air. The streetlights had come on not an hour ago, and the little village was lit up beautifully. It was a nice night, there was no denying that.

    I walked quickly through the throng of people towards the Water Arena. Most of them were heading out to dinner, or to the encore demonstrations. A few, the couples will small children, were heading back to the hotel.

    I saw the others as I rounded the first corner.

    Not all of them though.

    May wasn’t there yet.

    At least I wasn’t the last to arrive.

    I said hi to everybody and apologised to all of them for being late. They didn’t seem to mind too much. After all, we still had to wait for May anyway. There’s not really any point in being mad at the second-to-last to arrive.

    We waited for what must have been about ten minutes before May finally showed up.

    She looked good, I have to admit that. She was wearing a pair of tight blue jeans and an even tighter black tank top. Her hair was down – she’d finally done it after God knows how long having that bizarre style.

    She wasn’t alone.

    With her was a guy about six foot six, wearing dark grey jeans, a black t-shirt and a leather jacket. His hair was pretty long, around shoulder length, and he had stubble on the whole lower half of his face. He looked like he was in his early twenties, but he was only eighteen.

    ‘Hey everyone, sorry I’m late,’ she said. ‘This is Dante.’

    ‘Dante?’ Max said immediately. ‘You mean the Point Noir Gym Leader, Dante?’

    ‘That’s right,’ she replied, smiling at me. It was very disconcerting. Why was she smiling at me like that?

    ‘Nice to meet you, Dante.’ Misty was the first to speak.

    ‘Misty,’ Dante said, his voice a low growl. He took her hand and kissed the back of it.

    A real old fashioned gentleman. A real Humphrey Bogart.

    He shook hands with Tracey, Max and Brock and before I knew it I realised that he was holding his hand out to me. I clasped it quickly and shook it, rather harder than I usually did, but I’m not sure why.

    In the few moments our hands were joined he looked into my eye and knew that I was trying to crush his hand. But he didn’t apply any more pressure to mine, and waited for me to release his hand without another sound.

    ‘I’ve heard of you, Ash,’ he said as I pocketed my hands again. ‘I’m a bit surprised you haven’t been up to my Gym yet.’

    ‘Point Noir is too far away,’ I replied weakly.

    ‘Too far away?’ Misty said incredulously. ‘You dragged me all over Kanto and the Orange Islands looking for badges, and now Point Noir is too far away?’

    ‘It’s on another continent,’ I snapped. ‘It’s further than anywhere in Kanto.

    She seemed slightly taken aback. Brock noticed and leapt into action.

    ‘Well gang, where do we want to eat?’

    I was glad Brock was there.

    June 10, 8:40pm
    MAY


    In hindsight, it may have been better for everyone if I’d left Dante out of it. It certainly would have been better for him.

    I brought him so that Ash wouldn’t get any more funny ideas. I’m sick of my friends always trying to make our friendship into something more. That’s the trouble with being sixteen – any guy thinks that if you smile at him, it’s an invitation to your bed. I hadn’t thought Ash was like that, but he’d proved me wrong quickly enough.

    Still, Dante was a perfect gentleman. I think he knew from the moment we arrived what was going on, but he didn’t let it show. He knew he was being used, but for some reason he didn’t seem to mind. He was talkative but modest, and best of all, he bought us drinks. I’m glad I didn’t have to settle for Coke again.

    If I thought Ash was going to be the biggest problem that evening, I was corrected pretty soon.

    The snooty maitre’d at the restaurant wouldn’t let us in.

    ‘There are no tables for seven,’ he said through his nose, saying the word ‘seven’ as though it gave off an unpleasant odour that didn’t bear thinking about.

    ‘Then give us a table for eight,’ Brock said, looking hopefully at a large table by the window. ‘How about that one?’

    ‘But you only have seven,’ the maitre’d replied, putting the same stress on ‘seven’ as before. ‘We cannot allow a chair to go unused when we are so busy.’

    They didn’t seem very busy at all.

    ‘What do you want us to do, kick someone out?’ Misty’s temper was starting to flare up again. She must have been hungry.

    ‘You could add another to your party,’ the maitre’d suggested.

    ‘Where are we going to find an eighth person now?’ Ash demanded, joining Misty in the angry camp.

    ‘I could join you.’

    The voice was high and cultivated, and I knew it as soon as I heard it. But boy did I hope I’d misheard it.

    I hadn’t.

    June 10, 8.45pm
    DREW


    They were surprised to see me, that much was obvious. I’d been hoping for a quiet dinner alone, but when I heard of their predicament, I decided to be charitable.

    They all stared at me like stunned Barboach, and with good reason, I suppose. After all, why would the premier coordinator of Shin’ou choose to visit the Gym Heroes Exhibition?

    I could see them all trying to decide whether or not to dine with me.

    ‘I guess that could work,’ Ash said slowly. Good old Ash. Dim as a Psyduck but always well-meaning.

    His agreement meant that he didn’t know about May and I.

    A secret between such close friends?

    This would be fun.

    We all sat down at an elegant table at the window. May’s new friend went and organised the wine for the meal. As he left the table I realised with a start that I should have gone with him. I assumed he was a Philistine, and would choose the cheapest wine on the list. But I was mistaken. He picked a rather sweet red, perfect for the unrefined palettes of most of the table.

    A connoisseur, like myself. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised.

    So May was now dating somebody similar to myself.

    May obviously wasn’t over me. I’d have been surprised if she was.


    A waiter came over and told Ash to return Pikachu to his Pokeball. I watched this exchange with amusement, knowing that this would be an entertaining sight.

    But Ash simply told Pikachu to return to the hotel. The little rat agreed, scampering out the door and heading off down the street.

    Boring.

    Thankfully the night didn’t stay boring for long.

    June 10, 9.00pm
    TRACEY


    I’d spent a lot of time studying Pokémon in my time. In fact, I had an idea that Professor Oak was planning to give me his laboratory when he retired. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I had learned to tell when a Pokémon was hungry, tired, angry or in love by the way it was acting.

    In these respects, people weren’t too different to Pokémon.

    Of everybody at the table, only Brock didn’t have some emotional issue with another person there. It was like an old Mexican stand-off, except we were all sitting down. And we were unarmed. And nobody wanted to kill each other. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a Mexican stand-off.

    I could tell by the way that Ash and May were constantly glancing at each other while determinedly avoiding direct conversation that something was going on between them. Something had happened between them that made this situation very uncomfortable for them. I didn’t know what it was. Nobody tells me anything.

    In any case the meal itself passed without too much drama; the boys divided up the check and we left, out onto the streets.

    We wandered about for a while, wondering why everybody else seemed to be crowding around outside of the Water Arena.

    ‘Let’s go check it out,’ Ash said after a few moments of speculation.

    We pushed our way through into the crowd and saw what was happening. A man was being loaded onto a stretcher and covered by a white sheet.

    Somebody had been murdered. Electrocuted, as we found out from the crowd.

    ‘Hey, I saw that boy send his Pikachu out of the restaurant!’ somebody called out, pointing enthusiastically at Ash.

    The crowd slowly turned to face him.

    ‘Oh, ****,’ he breathed.

    'This is going to get worse before it gets better,’ May said, shaking her head sadly.

    That was the precise moment when we all became fugitives.

    June 10, 11:00pm
    ASH


    We couldn’t stay at the Gym Heroes Exhibition any longer. We had to leave right away. People were already pointing the finger at me, and the others were likely to face accessory charges. That raised the question of where we could go to hide out. My place was out, so were Brock’s, Misty’s and Professor Oak’s Lab. We couldn’t stay in Kanto, that much we could agree on.

    We couldn’t go to Drew’s place – his parents would be there and would probably have some questions to ask when eight teenagers burst in to hide for God knows how long. Plus nobody really liked him very much, and it would be harder to be mean to him in his own home. Well, not really harder, but I’d feel considerably less comfortable about it.

    Dante offered us the Point Noir Gym for a hidey-hole, but that would involve flying across the ocean to the Stralis continent. No, we couldn’t go to Point Noir either.

    That just left one place.

    May and Max’s.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To be continued
    Last edited by Zubeon; 12th December 2006 at 3:59 AM.

  2. #2
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    very interesting, so ash doesn't like may, but he said he did, but drew and may used to be a couple, but now may's dating dante , the gym leader. to get back at ash and drew, meanwhile, max wants ash and may to get together, but ash likes someone else, presumably misty and to make everything worse, pikachu may have killed a guy, so now this group of eight is on the run from the popo, and they have to stay at may and max's house to hide from the police that are after them. wow

    now that everything is sorted out, i would like to say that this is really well written, but there a few grammar mistakes
    advance shipping forever
    contestshipping must die painfully

    I have claimed Saint Bernards and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Together they shall rule the world.

    Proud member of Xbox 360/Xbox Live Club and the Mythical Creatures Club.



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  3. #3
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    I really liked this. It's well-written, pacey and it draws you right in. The terse, spiky style works perfectly for a piece like this - too many authors think they have to cram every sentence with adverbs and flowery metaphors to create good prose, but you've got the art of less-is-more down just right. And for a romance fic, it's refreshingly devoid of sap and melodrama. So kudos!

    There are a few things I'd nitpick at, though. Some of them are debatable points, but I figured I might as well mention them anyway. First of all, while your prose is good, there isn't a great deal of variance between the characters. I know it's difficult to alter your writing style to sound like someone else - I can't do it to save my life - but if you're in first person and you're moving through several different POVs, it'd be good if they were more easily distinguishable from each other. I find it helps to imagine each of the characters speaking a monologue aloud - if May were telling a group of friends about something that had happened to her at dinner, she wouldn't phrase it the same way as Brock or Tracey would telling the same story.

    In addition to this, while all of the characters in the fic are interesting so far, not all of them are entirely recognisable as their canon counterparts. For instance, I'd be intrigued to read about an original character who's a slightly edgy, broody guy, always falling in and out of love, but I'm having a slightly hard time buying Ash behaving that way. Ash is, first and foremost, a happy, good-hearted guy - if this has changed in the fic, then a good explanation needs to be provided to explain why (but perhaps that's going to come later). And May - no matter how angry she was at somebody, is she really likely to punch them in the stomach? If she'd yelled at Ash in a high-pitched voice and ran out of the room, I'd have found it more believable. Drew is an interesting case, because in some ways he's spot on - I can totally see him becoming a wine coinesseur! - but in a lot of ways, it's as though you've taken his bad traits and exaggerated them to make him come across as much more of a snob than he ever was in the show. He did actually improve a lot over the course of AG, and even in his earliest appearances he was never that arrogant.

    Then there's the romance part. I actually found the various relationships perfectly believable thus far as an extrapolation of canon. Which is definitely a compliment, given how much I dislike Advanceshipping. Normally I roll my eyes whenever Ash and May suddenly develop romantic tension from nowhere in fics, but the awkwardness between them in this one makes sense. I can buy that Ash might latch onto May as a means of getting over the last girl (though not, as mentioned earlier, May's violent reaction). I can certainly buy May feeling irritated that the others were all reading things into her and Ash's friendship. As for Contestshipping, May and Drew breaking up and getting back together and breaking up sure sounds like something those two would end up doing in their teenage years.

    The parts I didn't buy were mainly the bits about everyone expecting Ash and May to get together. Max being cold to Ash just because he's meeting Misty and Max has always wanted Ash to get together with May, in particular, grated with me. In the show, nobody sees anything going on between Ash and May apart from that mad tag-battling couple in The Bicker The Better, whereas half the cast have made sly remarks about May and Drew, including Max, Jessie and Caroline. I know it's like ten years in the future, but I'm a bit puzzled as to why the situation would reverse itself. Brock's line about May being "inexplicably tangled with Drew" every time he runs into her at a contest rings false for the same reason. Usually when reading romance fics, that's the point at which one of my warning flags goes up - when suddenly all of the characters, none of whom have ever expressed anything approaching that sentiment in canon, start saying, "oh, but I've always thought you guys should get together, you'd be the perfect couple!". 99% of the time, it's a rather cheap means of setting up romantic tension between two characters without bothering with believable build-up. It'd be a shame for this fic to use that tactic, since the situation you've set up between Ash and May is plausible apart from that one detail.

    Somewhat linked to that, there was a line that brought me up short about halfway through... I think it was at the end, when Ash is explaining why they couldn't hide out at Drew's place, and says, "besides, nobody liked him very much". Is there a reason for this? Some incident that occurred post-anime that made Ash-tachi dislike Drew? Because in the show, Ash and Brock at least don't seem to mind him - Max thinks he's stuck up, but the other two are quite friendly towards him a lot of the time, particularly in the Kanto Grand Festival - and May likes him a lot. Again, another 'cheap' tactic badfics sometimes use is villainising the character who's being made into the obstacle for the eventual final couple (not that I know which couple it's going to be - I would guess Advanceshipping at this point, but who knows how things will develop later).

    One last thing - the chapter seemed to me to be building up to some kind of conflict at the dinner table, but once everyone was sitting down, you skipped over the entire meal in a couple of lines and leapt at full speed into a rather strange twist about Ash being a murder suspect. Firstly, I know I said that I like the terse, pacey style, but that part I feel needed to slow down a bit. It was too abrupt and confusing. More importantly, I thought it made no sense that Ash would be accused of murder on such flimsy evidence. It would have made a lot more sense if it was the victim's hysterical son/mother/wife/whoever who caught sight of Pikachu and flipped out, rather than some random member of the public making such an absurd leap. But even then, no way would Ash and all his friends have to go into hiding. Ash didn't even know the guy! Not to mention that running away is a really stupid thing to do, as it'll only make them look guilty. All in all, if that was the set-up for the main premise of the fic, I think that a lot more page-time needed to be spent on it, with a better reason provided for why Ash would be the main suspect.

    OK, I'm done now. XD I hope you're not offended by all this concrit - I only go into this kind of detail with fics I really like, so take the kvetching as a good sign. Good luck with the next chapter!
    Fic plugs: Taking a Chance (multi-chaptered, Contestshipping/Pokeshipping)
    Firelight (Christmas oneshot, Contestshipping)

    I adopted Drew Plushie from Ama's Collection

    ^ Adopted by moi. Innit CUUUTE?

  4. #4
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    ^dude, you put my review to shame
    advance shipping forever
    contestshipping must die painfully

    I have claimed Saint Bernards and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Together they shall rule the world.

    Proud member of Xbox 360/Xbox Live Club and the Mythical Creatures Club.



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    She's a Contestshipper that dislikes Advanceshipping and I'm an Advanceshipper that dislikes Contestshipping. *nodnod*

  5. #5
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    I got a bit carried away...

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    Lordzangoose – thanks for bringing that up. Most of the grammar mistakes are intentional, though. These are teenagers telling a story, remember.

    Jo-Jo, I want to thank you for that criticism, and now I’ll explain myself.

    Firstly, I was thinking the same thing about their similarities when I was re-reading it last night – don’t worry, there’ll be more differentiation from now on. I think the only really different character in this chapter is Drew.

    The majority of your points (May’s reactions, feeling towards Drew, Ash’s brooding persona) are all the results of various events that have happened during the past 4 years. As the story progresses, these issues that you have raised will be addressed, the events explained, and hopefully they will make more sense to you then.

    The whole thing about Max wanting them to be together. I don’t want to sound pedantic, but at that moment we are hearing from Ash’s perspective. Ash thought that Max always wanted them to get together. There’s no confirmation that Max ever did want them to hook up.

    I definitely agree with everything in your last paragraph, I did rush through that, partly because I was getting anxious to start the next chapter, when I can start revealing details.

    As for the flimsy evidence against Ash… you’ll soon find out who that somebody in the crowd was, their motive, and another piece of startling (hopefully) evidence. There’s a better reason why Ash is the main suspect, but if I were to reveal it now, I’d have to think of some other way to work the next several chapters.

    The concerns you raised are important to me because they show me that I’m treading a very fine line between laziness and suspense.

    Hope you keep reading,
    Zubeon
    Last edited by Zubeon; 30th October 2006 at 4:14 AM.

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    That's fine, if everything gets explained later then there's no problem.

    Thanks for slogging through all that stuff I wrote, I didn't mean to dump a 1000-word essay on you.

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    If you take the time to write it, I'll take the time to read it, no matter how long it is.

    And now, on a semi-related note, Chapter Two:

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    June 11, 7:18am
    MAX


    I seemed to be the only one happy that we would be staying at my place. Ash, May, Misty and Drew seemed positively angry about the turn of events, and Dante and Brock tended to just exchange knowing glances and then shake their heads.

    Well I was glad to be home.

    We all released our Pokémon into the greenhouse where they joined our other Pokémon. Dad had taken his to the exhibition so we just had enough room for all of them. I was excited to see Dante’s party, but he seemed reluctant to send them out.

    Eventually May convinced him and we got to see.

    He had a Kingler, who seemed to dislike Ash’s Corphish and kept mostly to itself, clicking its large claw and cutting down the smaller shrubs. It was one destructive crab, that was for sure.

    His Espeon was almost the opposite. The moment Dante released him he went strait up to May’s Glacia and the two have been almost inseparable since then. Same thing happened when he released his Steelix – she wound herself around Brocks and now there’s a huge tangle of iron snakes in the greenhouse.

    Ash’s Bayleef was quite affectionate towards Dante’s Tropius, who seemed content just to munch on the leaves of the taller trees.

    Pikachu almost fainted when he saw what came out of Dante’s fifth Pokeball. It was a Raichu, and Dante had trained it to mostly use fighting-type moves. It was his secret weapon against cocky rock-type trainers, he told me.

    People say that Pokémon take on the characteristics of their trainers. Well that was certainly true in the case of his Houndoom. Or maybe he took after Houndoom. In either case, both of them tended to sit slightly apart from the main group until hassled by May and her Skitty. Although Houndoom snapped half-heartedly at Skitty every now and then, I think he really quite liked having her around.

    Tracey went nuts when he saw all the Pokémon together. He’d already used half of his sketch-pad after about an hour.

    ‘Max,’ Dante said, coming up to me seemingly from nowhere. ‘I’m heading out to get some supplies. I’m only telling you because the others will freak. If you have to tell them I’m gone, don’t let them follow me.’

    Before I could even say anything he disappeared with Espeon and Raichu through the front door.

    June 11, 3.00pm
    MAY


    Dante returned with his supplies at about three o’clock. I would have told him not to bother, since we already had food and stuff, but that wasn’t what was on his mind.

    He came back carrying a slab of beer, and Espeon was carrying another one in the air with his psychic powers. Raichu waddled along behind with four pizza boxes. I was impressed – beer was the one thing we didn’t have, and arguably the one thing we needed most. If we were going to be hiding out for weeks, we’d need beer to stave off cabin fever.

    Brock just about fell to his knees with gratitude when he saw the beer. Dante threw one to him and it was gone within minutes. We sat outside on the grass, drinking beer and eating pizza, though Max didn’t have anything to drink, no matter how many bottles Ash ‘dropped’ into his lap.

    ‘Come on Max, you’ve got to get wasted for the first time sometime,’ he said. ‘You may as well do it now, when you know your parents won’t catch you.’

    ‘He makes a good point,’ I said. ‘I won’t tell them.’

    ‘I don’t think this is really the time to be getting drunk,’ Max said sternly. ‘I’m fairly sure we’re still in pretty big danger.’

    ‘Oh, for sure,’ Dante butted in, tossing the cold crust of his slice to Houndoom. ‘This is probably the last night where nobody knows where to find us. This will be the safest night of our journey. You should listen to your sister,’ he finished.

    Ash poked Max in the cheek with a beer bottle.

    ‘C’mon,’ he wheedled.

    I took Dante by the hand and led him inside. Tracey let out a loud, high-pitched whoop.

    I led Dante all the way up to my room and sat him down on my bed. Then I sat next to him.

    ‘I-’ I began, but Dante cut me off by placing his finger on my lips.

    ‘I know you’re using me as protection against these guys, and I know you’re sorry that you’ve dragged me into this.’

    Damn. He was good.

    ‘I don’t get it,’ I said. ‘Why are you here?’

    Dante looked sad when I asked this. ‘I’ve been a Gym Leader since I was eleven. I’ve never had an experience like this before.’

    ‘Neither have I,’ I said. He smiled at this.

    ‘I mean a road trip. Moving around with friends, just getting drunk and hanging out. I’ve wanted to do this for ages, and now I’ve got the perfect chance.’

    ‘But you do realise that at some point, Ash and Drew are going to want to fight you. They’re both after me.’ I realised how conceited this sounded even as I said it, but Dante didn’t make a big deal of it.

    ‘Bring it on,’ Dante said. ‘I love fighting.’

    I kissed his hand and we went back downstairs, where Ash had finally convinced Max to have a beer.

    Nobody asked us anything.

    June 11, 6:00pm
    DREW


    Despite being able to choose an acceptable wine, Dante has proved himself to be a philistine with his actions earlier today. Beer and pizza. How civilised.

    I don’t think he thought it through at all. We ate our dinner at three o’clock. What exactly are we supposed to do until we’re ready to sleep now? Oh, but he had the answer to that as well, the clever *******, and surprise surprise, it involved more beer.

    He sat us down at the table, having scrounged a few extra chairs from various rooms of the house, and gave us a fresh bottle of beer each. He smiled at me as he gave me mine. Never was I more convinced of his innate savagery.

    The premise of the game was simple. We would go around the table clockwise, saying something we had never done. Anybody who had done it had to take a sip from their drink. One was allowed to lie, saying something that one had already done and consequently drinking with the others. It was a ridiculous concept, but May and Misty fawned over it, saying what a wonderful bonding exercise it would be.

    Women.

    I must say I felt sorry for May during this game. The things she had to confess to in front of her brother. But Max was so out of it that he would probably not remember anything in the morning anyway.

    June 11, 9:00pm
    ASH


    Well, Max is quite a lightweight, as I learned tonight. He crashed at about eight thirty. I suppose it’s not too surprising; he may have gone in too hard too fast tonight. “I’ve never” was great fun, everybody got embarrassed in equal proportions, except for Drew, who didn’t even have the courtesy to drink when he had done something. He’d just raise his bottle and put it down again. There should be a law against that, against letting good beer go warm.

    Everyone was getting rowdy by nine. May came back from putting Max to bed with a brilliant idea: she wanted to play strip poker. We were all pretty sauced up and were up for it, except for Dante, who after being the life of the party all night, suddenly went quiet and shook his head.

    ‘What’s wrong?’ May asked, sitting down on his lap and putting her arm around his shoulders. He murmured something I couldn’t make out, possibly because I was too busy watching her hand stroke his thigh. Then he just got up and walked outside. May followed him, and I turned back to Misty, who was dealing out six hands of cards.

    June 11, 9:10pm
    MAY


    I followed Dante out into the garden, all the way to the greenhouse, where he was sitting and patting his Houndoom on the head.

    ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked him, sitting down next to him.

    ‘Nothing really,’ he replied, still looking straight ahead and rubbing Houndoom’s skull.

    ‘I can tell it’s more than nothing. You left the room. You left your beer.’

    I thought I saw a faint smile flicker across his face.

    ‘Look, I just really don’t want to play strip poker. Or strip anything.’

    ‘Why not? Do you have a poor self image?’ I sounded very sophisticated.

    ‘You could say that,’ Dante replied. ‘But I’m not the only one with it.’

    ‘I know,’ I replied, happy to finally be getting somewhere. ‘Lots of people have problems, like anorexics.’

    ‘No, May, you misunderstand me,’ he turned to face me now. ‘Lots of people have a poor image of me.’

    ‘Why?’ I asked, genuinely surprised. From where I was sitting he was pretty handsome. A bit lanky, but not bad to look at by any stretch of the imagination.

    ‘It’s a long story.’

    ‘Then give me a synopsis.’

    June 11, 9:15pm
    DANTE


    She looked so goddam cute, the way she was staring at me. I could tell why Ash and Drew had fallen for her so badly. Those big eyes, that hair…

    ‘I really don’t think I know you well enough to go into it,’ I said, trying to find a diplomatic way to get out of it. She wasn’t going to let me, though.

    ‘Well, if you want to talk, I’ll be here.’ She grabbed my hand and kissed my knuckle again. Her lips sure felt different to what my knuckles were used to.

    God damn it. The trouble with dames is that no matter how annoying and vapid they are, no matter how bland and boring or *****y they are, they can do just one little thing that just makes you fall in love with them. Now I’m not saying May’s any of those things, don’t get me wrong. I’m just trying to make a point here, and that point is that suddenly I wanted to tell her everything about me. All the horrible truth.

    She just kept staring at me. I couldn’t hold out any longer.

    June 11, 9.20pm
    MAY


    He turned away from me again.

    ‘I’m eighteen years old,’ he said. I already knew this, but didn’t interrupt him. ‘My dad walked out when I was eleven. That’s the reason why I got the Gym. He just left. He used to smack my mother around something fierce. I was just a kid, so I couldn’t do anything about it. But he came back, three years ago, just after my fifteenth birthday. Fifteen. Almost a man. My time at the Gym had made me strong. At least that’s what I’d thought. When I saw his car I came out of the house. I had a lead pipe behind my back, and I was planning to bash his God damn skull in with it. But somehow he knew it was coming. He kicked me in the ribs, broke a couple of them. Then he socked me around the face something bad, then slammed me against the wall a couple of times. I was pretty pulped and bleeding by then, and I passed out for a few moments. When I woke up I felt wet. I felt around with my hands, looking for the wound. But it wasn’t my blood that was all over me, spilling out onto the ground. The next thing I thought was that he had one of his water Pokemon out and was using something on me. Well, he had a Pokémon out alright. But it wasn’t a water type. It was his Magmar.’

    ‘So what was…’ I began, already afraid of the answer.

    ‘Petrol,’ he replied, his voice hollow. ‘The ******* was wetting me down with god damn petrol!’ He stood up angrily and threw one of his Pokeballs hard at a nearby tree. It hit hard and smashed, pieces scattering around the base of the tree. Houndoom trotted over to investigate, no doubt hoping for more pizza crust.

    Dante collapsed onto the ground in a sitting position, his knees up to his chest. He was still looking straight ahead. ‘It took weeks of surgery. The doctors did their best. They didn’t think they’d be able to save me at all. I was supposed to have died. A medical marvel.’

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. His own father had tried to murder him.

    ‘Sure, I was a medical marvel. But I’m a ****ing ugly one. You don’t want to see what’s under this t-shirt. Nobody but the doctors ever have, and nobody but the doctors ever will. And that’s more or less the reason why I don’t want to play strip poker.’

    ‘What happened to-’

    ‘Dad got life. The Magmar got shot.’ Dante sounded bitterer than ever. ‘I didn’t want them to shoot the Magmar.’

    I didn’t know what to say. I just sat there and held his hand for what seemed like an eternity. Houndoom came and sat down, leaning his head in Dante’s lap.

    The three of us sat in silence.

    June 12, 10:30pm
    MISTY


    At the start I’d felt a little weird being the only girl in our poker game. But it didn’t end up mattering.

    They couldn’t believe I wasn’t cheating, and neither could I, really. Five of us there and I won every single hand. Pretty funny, really. But the funniest thing was watching Ash. Watching his face screw up with concentration when I dealt him his cards. His tongue poked out of the corner of his mouth when he was thinking.

    Yeah, Ash was still pretty cute. There was still a part of my heart saved just for him. But I couldn’t let it show. Not yet anyway.

    June 12, 1:22am
    MAY


    I couldn’t sleep, not after what Dante had told me. It was just about the most horrible thing I’d ever heard.

    Max was in his own bed upstairs, but the rest of us were scattered about in sleeping bags and quilts on the floor downstairs. If this place stayed safe we’d work out something more permanent.

    I looked across at Dante, who was partially under one of my own blankets. Even when he was asleep, he looked tense, as if he was expecting to have to spring into action at any moment. There was just something about him. I guess going through something like that keeps you from ever being calm again.

    I crawled out of my sleeping bag across the floor towards him. Then I slipped in under the blanket and wrapped my arms around him.

    Suddenly I felt tired, and in a few minutes I fell asleep.

  9. #9
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    dante looks like frankenstein =P
    advance shipping forever
    contestshipping must die painfully

    I have claimed Saint Bernards and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Together they shall rule the world.

    Proud member of Xbox 360/Xbox Live Club and the Mythical Creatures Club.



    Paired with SkyHighSwellow
    She's a Contestshipper that dislikes Advanceshipping and I'm an Advanceshipper that dislikes Contestshipping. *nodnod*

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by lordzangoose View Post
    dante looks like frankenstein =P
    Point taken

    I was planning to draw him myself, but discovered I couldn't draw anime at all. It's not a particularly good picture, but the hair's about right...

  11. #11
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    Hey hey, it's Day 3
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    June 12, 8:18am
    DREW

    I woke up smelling the disgusting smell and hearing the disgusting sound of sizzling bacon. Everyone else was already gone. They had let me sleep in.

    I didn’t know quite what to make of that. Not yet, anyway.

    I stepped into the kitchen where I saw Brock standing in the kitchen over the stove, wearing one of Caroline’s more floral aprons. So he was behind this sickening assault on my senses. I don’t know who came up with the idea of serving meat for breakfast, but I was certainly glad that they were dead.

    ‘Morning, Drew,’ Brock said, waving his spatula at me. A small fleck of grease detached itself and landed on my arm. ‘You want some bacon?’

    ‘No.’

    I sat down in an armchair and reached for the newspaper. It was two days old, so I put it back.

    ‘How about a Politoed in a hole?’

    ‘A what?’

    He walked over and showed me the frying pan. The thing he pointed at appeared to be slice of toast with a hole in it, the hole now filled with egg.

    ‘No, thankyou, Brock. I’ll pass on the double shot of cholesterol today.’

    Brock smiled and went back to the stove.

    ‘I’m trying to be nice here, Drew. You could try it some time.’

    Not likely. At this moment everything about Brock just made me furious. His ridiculous beady eyes, his infuriating hair, that floral apron.

    But I wasn’t angry with him. I was angry with myself.

    Why had I decided to dine with them? If I’d gone through with my original plan I’d still be at the Indigo Plateau, instead of turning down camp food in my ex-girlfriend’s kitchen.

    A thought occurred.

    ‘Why are we hiding? There’s no proof that Ash had anything to do with that murder.’ Brock looked thoughtful for a moment. The effort must have pained him.

    ‘I don’t know, Drew. Now do me a favour and round up the others. Breakfast is ready.’

    June 12, 10:30am
    MAX

    As soon as I felt well enough to get out of bed, I was going to kill my sister. And Dante. And especially Ash. Why would anybody choose to drink that vile stuff? It tasted bitter as a rawst berry, and although it was nice to be carefree, it wasn’t worth it, no sir. Not if it made you feel like this the next day.

    I bet it was just a plan to get me out of the picture so that they could do other stuff. May always treated me like a little kid. I was only two years younger than her.

    ‘Good morning, sleepyhead.’ There was my sister, pleasant as anything, carrying a plate of bacon and eggs. Sucking up to me.

    I took the plate and started eating as she sat down on the edge of the bed. It was great food alright – I’d definitely missed Brock’s cooking more than anything else.

    ‘I think tonight you’d better not drink so much,’ she said with a nervous laugh.

    ‘I think tonight I’ll tell Dante the Tentacool story,’ I replied calmly.

    ‘Don’t you dare!’ She hit me in the head with a pillow.

    ‘You keep hitting me and I’ll tell him the one about –’

    I didn’t finish because at that moment Ash burst into the room, a wide smile across his face.

    ‘Good news, guys. I just heard on the radio that we’ve been spotted heading for Goldenrod city. We’re safe here for at least another day.’

    That was good news. I liked sleeping in my own bed after spending so much time on the road.

    ‘Great!’ May exclaimed, getting up again. ‘I’ll send Dante out for more beer.’

    ‘No more beer!’ I yelled as they left.

    ‘Don’t worry, Max. We won’t make you have any,’ Ash called back.

    I went back to my breakfast. Brock really was the best cook in the world.

    June 12, 11:00am
    ASH

    Something wasn’t right. Why did that crowd turn on me so quickly? It was just one guy who said I had a Pikachu, and they were all pointing the finger. Seriously, there was no evidence other than that. And it was pretty weak. Sure, Pikachu was out of his Pokeball, and I did send him back to the hotel. I can see how that might have looked suspicious. But I didn’t even know the guy who got killed. Besides which, anybody who knew me at all knew I liked to battle Pokémon. I hated real fighting.

    There was only one possible answer.

    I’d been framed, and I’d dragged all the others into this.

    Straight away I started thinking about who would want me to get tried for murder and what they’d accomplish by doing so.

    I couldn’t think of anybody. Even Team Rocket wouldn’t go this far, and anyway, they weren’t into crime anymore.

    So I wasn’t really any better off. All I knew was that somebody wanted me out of action. And they were obviously someone willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

    I hadn’t been this scared since the first time I met Misty.

    June 12, 11:30am
    MISTY

    My head was feeling a couple of sizes too big when I sat down at the table for breakfast. Ash, Brock and Tracey were already stuffing their faces when I got there, and Drew was sitting at the head of the table, drinking orange juice out of a wine glass.

    Pretentious jerk.

    I tell you, if it had been up to me, I wouldn’t have let him join us for dinner. Not after what he did to May. But that’s guys for you, never thinking out the full consequences. In the end it’s up to us girls to look out for each other.

    Speaking of which…

    May and Dante were both missing. And I mean missing. They didn’t seem to be anywhere on the property. I didn’t notice at first. Or at second. Actually, I didn’t notice until Houndoom forced his way through the back door, right up to the table and sat down, staring at me. Just staring and staring. And only at me.

    ‘What?’ I asked, unable to ignore him any longer. He just kept staring at me.

    ‘What do you want?’ I repeated, trying not to sound angry. I didn’t want to get on the bad side of a Houndoom, especially not when I was this tired.

    Houndoom tilted his head and shuffled slightly on the spot.

    Well I wasn’t planning on spending the whole morning in a one-sided conversation with a dog, so I just went back to eating. I could still feel him staring at me for a few more moments, then finally he got up and left.

    June 12, 11:42am
    MAX

    I heard the soft padding of footsteps coming down the hall a few minutes before Houndoom showed up at my door.

    ‘What’s up?’ I asked as Houndoom trotted right up to the bed and sat down. He reached out with his paw and put it on the bed.

    ‘Dante’s gone out to get beer, I think,’ I said as I pulled on a fresh shirt for the day. I was feeling much better after that breakfast Brock cooked. ‘Why don’t you go and ask May? She probably saw him last.’

    At this Houndoom got really worked up. He was fidgeting like crazy, and was making growling noises. Not angry growling, but talkative growling.

    I didn’t know what he wanted, so I headed downstairs. He followed behind me, sticking really close.

    I walked into the kitchen where all the others were and suddenly he darted across to Misty and bounded upwards, putting his front paws in her lap.

    ‘Gah!’ she cried out, leaning as far back as she could as Houndoom pushed his muzzle into her face. ‘What’s with you Houndoom?’

    He jumped down again and ran to the door, standing impatiently. He was so edgy this morning. We let him out but he turned around, as if asking us to follow him.

    So we did.

    He led us into the greenhouse. At first I didn’t see the problem. All the Pokémon were there.

    But of course that was the problem. All the Pokémon were there.

    I didn’t know Dante very well, but I knew May. She wouldn’t go anywhere without her Pokémon.

    They’d been taken.

    June 12, 12:00pm
    ASH

    No way.

    There was no way I was going to let those two get kidnapped because of me. I took a couple of minutes tracking down and returning my Pokémon to their Pokeballs. I had a feeling I’d need all of them.

    With me now I had Swellow, Bayleef, Quilava, Muk, Corphish and of course, Pikachu.

    I was at the front door when Misty grabbed my arm.

    ‘Wait a minute, Ash, I’m coming with you.’

    I wasn’t in the mood to argue with her. It would just waste time. I’d seen May less than two hours ago, so whoever had taken her can’t have gotten too far.

    We were halfway down the street when we heard Brock yell out. He and Tracey were running behind us.

    ‘We can’t all go!’ I yelled. I was angry at them for wasting time.

    ‘We don’t want to go,’ Tracey said. ‘Here!’ He held out a Pokeball. ‘You can use Venonat for tracking. You’ll just have to give me one of yours.’

    It was a really good idea so I gave him Swellow and he dropped Venonat’s Pokeball into my hand. I heard Misty shudder beside me.

    ‘And Misty, you take Crobat,’ Brock said, trading it for her Marill.

    Then Houndoom butted his way between the two of them and darted off ahead.

    Of course. He’d have good sniffing skills, like a Growlithe.

    Me and Misty ran after him, not even saying goodbye to the other two.

    June 12, 12:30pm
    MISTY

    No luck. My head was really killing me now, but I didn’t say anything. Ash was a good-natured guy, but he got really hot-headed whenever something got in his way. Although, since Christina, he’d been a bit of a hot head all the time. He was stealing my bit.

    Suddenly Houndoom stopped. With a start I realised where we were.

    The Petalburg Gym.

    Did May have a key? Were she and Dante…

    I didn’t want to think about that. And if that was the case, I definitely didn’t want to go inside. And I definitely didn’t want Ash to go inside. But he already had his hand on the door.

    ‘Ash, wait!’ I grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

    ‘Get off me Misty, I have to save them!’

    ‘They’re not in any danger!’ I said, trying to be subtle. He wouldn’t let me.

    ‘What do you mean, they’re-’

    ‘They’re having sex, Ash!’ I hissed at him.

    He looked as if Brock and Dante had dropped both of their Steelixes on him at once.

    ‘What?’ he sounded horrified.

    ‘They’re probably just having some time alone,’ I said. I knew he wanted me to say sex again, and I wasn’t going to.

    ‘You don’t know that,’ he reasoned, folding his arms.

    ‘Okay, here’s what we’ll do. We’ll send Houndoom in. That won’t be nearly as awkward for them if I’m right.’

    Thankfully he agreed to that.

    I opened the door just wide enough for Houndoom to fit through and left it ajar after his tail disappeared inside.

    We waited a few minutes until Houndoom started barking like crazy. A few seconds later two figures burst out the door, right into Ash and the three of them fell to the ground.

    They struggled to their feet just as I released Gyarados, who formed a half- ring around us, his giant face staring at the two would-be kidnappers.

    ‘Take your masks off, you creeps!’ Ash said angrily.

    ‘I…no….’ said one of them. It was a man’s voice, but it was quite high and clownish.

    ‘Oh Lord,’ Ash said, holding the bridge of his nose. He’d already worked out who they were. ‘What are you two doing here? You’re not still after Pikachu are you?’

    ‘Of course not!’ said the red-haired woman as she tore off her mask. ‘There are bigger fish to fry.’

    ‘Fish like Suicune,’ said the blue haired man as he too tore off his mask.

    Jessie hit him over the head repeatedly.

    ‘You’re – not – supposed – to – tell – them!’

    James cringed and cowered in the corner. It was pitiful.

    ‘What’s this about Suicune?’ I asked. I was curious now.

    ‘It goes something like this – we’re blasting off again!’

    The two of them fired up jetpacks I hadn’t even noticed and soared off into the sky. Ash produced Swellow’s Pokeball and prepared to throw it, but then remembered that he had Tracey’s Venonat instead.

    ‘Crap!’ he yelled. ‘They got away!’

    ‘Never mind. We found May and Dante, like we’d planned to.’ That was good enough for me.

    June 12, 6:00pm
    ASH

    After our rescue operation not much else happened that day. We went back to May’s place and just hung around. Last night was great because we had the energy. But now, after only two days together, cabin fever was setting in.

    Besides which, some of us were sick of watching May and Dante.

    Today taught us something though – whoever framed me is still at it, trying to lure me out. It just goes to show that we can’t leave, not even for a trip as short as the Petalburg Gym.

    There was something I was still curious about though.

    James had mentioned Suicune for some reason. And he seemed to think it had something to do with either May, Dante, or the Petalburg Gym. And I bet I can guess which of them it was.

    ‘Dante,’ I said loudly, not even looking at him. In my peripheral vision I could see May getting up out of the sunken chair they were sharing.

    ‘Yeah?’ he replied, his voice as even as ever.

    ‘Why did James mention Suicune?’

    ‘Who the hell is James?’

    ‘The guy who was holding you hostage.’

    ‘How would I know?’ Dante didn’t sound so pleasant now.

    ‘Well I’m pretty sure May doesn’t have anything to do with Suicune, and it was just the two of you in there.’

    He didn’t say anything.

    ‘Did you capture Suicune?’

    ‘Ash, I’m not going to lie to you.’ He got up and walked out of the room, then outside.

    I really didn’t like him.

    But I followed him anyway.

    June 12, 9:10pm
    BROCK

    Nobody had seen Ash in a couple of hours. I asked around, but nobody’d seen him since he followed Dante outside.

    So I thought I’d ask Dante. It seemed logical.

    ‘Ash was being a prick, so I had Tropius use sleep powder on him.’

    ‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Wait, what?’

    ‘Sleep powder. He’s sleeping out there now.’

    I was torn between indignation and admiration. I didn’t know which stance to take, so I just changed the subject.

    ‘You got any beers left?’

    June 12, 10:00pm
    TRACEY

    Continuing my study of the people staying here.

    Brock and Dante seemed to have become fast friends, probably because they’ve had similar experiences. Both were Gym Leaders at a young age, they both have Steelixes, and… well, they both love beer.

    May seemed much more affectionate towards Dante, and less so to Max. The first day she’d been pretty sisterly to Max, but today she barely spoke to him. She was all over Dante all the time, and he didn’t do anything about it. He didn’t seem to encourage or discourage it.

    Misty was determined to go with Ash today. I think she’s still got feelings for him somewhere.

    Ash doesn’t like Dante, that much is obvious. I bet most of it’s just because of his relationship with May. Dante reacted to Ash’s antagonism in much the same way his Houndoom treats May’s Skitty. He tried to ignore and avoid Ash as much as possible, but when Ash got in his face, he took action.

    Sleep powder. It was a good one.

    Drew spent the entire day apart from everybody else, just sitting and reading. After making some pretentious remarks about the nature of the books in the house, he gave in and started reading them. The weird thing was that Misty seemed the most annoyed by him being here. I don’t know why.

    Nobody tells me anything.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    I haven't started Day 4 yet, but I have constructed an elaborate plan, so I won't be winging it so much any more.

    Z

  12. #12
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    Nice. Sleep powder...good one. *snicker* Poor Ash. I'm starting to like the craftiness of this guy Dante.

  13. #13
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    Oh he's just liquid craftiness. He's got some surprises in store for you...

  14. #14
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    good chapter, i'm predicting the next one will be even better. one thing bothers me. you're not doing anything with max.
    advance shipping forever
    contestshipping must die painfully

    I have claimed Saint Bernards and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Together they shall rule the world.

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    Max has something very important to do in the next chapter. It opens and closes with him.

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    hmm, very interesting
    advance shipping forever
    contestshipping must die painfully

    I have claimed Saint Bernards and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Together they shall rule the world.

    Proud member of Xbox 360/Xbox Live Club and the Mythical Creatures Club.



    Paired with SkyHighSwellow
    She's a Contestshipper that dislikes Advanceshipping and I'm an Advanceshipper that dislikes Contestshipping. *nodnod*

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    Update: Day 4 is coming along, but it's taking longer than I expected. By the looks of things it'll be about the same length as days 1-3 combined. It'll probably be done and up by Sunday (hopefully)

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    I reshuffled things a bit, changed the chapter break, and now Day 4 is of standard length.

    And here it is.
    ----------------------------------------

    June 13, 9:00am
    ASH


    Son of a *****, I was sick of Dante. Strutting about the place like he owned it, acting all indifferent to May’s affections. A lot of guys would have killed to be in his position.

    They were all at breakfast when I finally woke up. Bayleef was poking at me with her muzzle. I got the feeling she’d been watching me all night. I was glad of that, but at the same time ****** off that nobody even bothered to drag me inside, or at the very least throw a tarp over me.

    ‘Good morning, Ash,’ Misty said as I came inside.

    ‘Is it?’ I replied angrily. I was equally angry with all of them, and especially mad at Dante. The jerk. I stomped into the kitchen and threw a couple of slices of bread in the toaster. Then I waited with my back to the table. That’s probably why I didn’t notice Dante had followed me until he started talking.

    ‘Hey Ash, I’m sorry about last night,’ he said. He sounded like he meant it, but there was no way to be sure. ‘To make it up to you I got us these.’

    He held up eight tickets in his hand.

    ‘What are these for?’ I asked, squinting at the tiny writing. My eyes were still partially gummed together with sleep.

    ‘Flannigan’s. The karaoke bar. May said you liked karaoke.’

    My insides turned to ice. I stopped rubbing my eyes and stared at him.

    ‘Is this some kind of joke?’ I demanded, all my previous anger coming back hotter than ever.

    ‘I don’t see anything funny about it. But I haven’t heard you sing yet.’ He cracked a toothy grin.

    A wave of relief washed over me. She hadn’t told him. Yet.

    ‘Thanks, Dante. That’s a great idea. But how did you get those tickets? I heard there was a really long waiting list.’

    ‘Not for me there isn’t,’ Dante replied mysteriously. Then he left the kitchen.

    My toast popped up. As I buttered it I tried to work out what the hell just happened and whether or not I still hated the guy.

    June 13, 12:00pm
    MAY


    Dante was up to something with this karaoke trick. But hey, after he mentioned it everyone started getting along better. So did it really matter if he had some ulterior motive? Even Drew was talkative and friendly. He seemed to have developed a friendship with Tracey, who was just about the only one who could stand him.

    Dante’s tickets were for six o’clock, so we still had a couple of hours to fill. We sat about downstairs, lounging around on the couches and the floor.

    ‘I’ve never done karaoke before,’ Tracey said. ‘I’ve only ever sung in the shower.’

    ‘I heard that people who sing in the shower are generally better than people who don’t sing at all,’ Max said, throwing in another random fact from nowhere. His head must just be full of useless facts.

    ‘Still, I don’t think I’m brave enough to sing in front of other people,’ Tracey said worriedly.

    ‘I’ve got something to fix that,’ I said, pulling out the bottle of vodka I had, until earlier today, stashed under a loose floorboard in my bedroom.

    ‘It’s only twelve o’clock!’ he cried.

    ‘Yeah, don’t drink it now. Wait until we’re just about to leave. One shot really calms the nerves. I do it all the time before contests.’

    ‘So that’s why you’re always so calm,’ Drew said, sounding genuinely surprised. ‘Most of my female opponents get very… agitated when we face off.’

    ‘You know Drew, if you’ve got to hold all those tickets on yourself, it means nobody else wants them.’

    ‘Touché.’ He tipped his glass to me. I nodded back, then got up and headed for the kitchen to bring back more chips. Max followed me.

    ‘May, I don’t want to sing,’ he said quietly, as if he didn’t want the others to hear.

    ‘That’s okay Max, you don’t have to,’ I replied. ‘But it is a lot of fun. Tell you what – we’ll give you the last ticket, so you can watch all of us first and decide whether or not you want to.’

    ‘Good idea, but I don’t think it’ll change anything.’

    ‘Well, it gives you a bit more time to think about it.’

    We went back with the chips.

    June 13, 6:00pm
    MISTY


    Flannigan’s smelt of smoke and spilt beer, and sounded like somebody was swinging a sack full of Meowth against a wall. But that was just the horrible, wailing girl who was screeching out some Whitney Houston number on the stage. The rest of the place was pretty nice; a whole wall was dedicated to an aquarium, which had some pretty neat water Pokémon swimming aimlessly around in it. I was watching a Gorebyss swim around when I heard Brock take the stage. We’d agreed not to tell each other what we would be singing. I was curious to hear his pick.

    ‘Good evening,’ he said. ‘Here’s a little number called Harvest Moon.’

    And he sang.

    ‘How long can we live this way? How long till the rain stops coming down?
    Everyone here’s been wondering; when will it be over?
    I hear the night train, every evening
    Maybe change is coming soon
    With the harvest moon

    Take me down to the river; take me to the preacher man
    I can’t wait any longer; I’ve messed up all I can
    I hear the night train, singing in the distance
    Maybe the angels are coming soon
    With the harvest moon

    If the river’s rising, look to the dark horizon
    For the harvest moon

    Wait a minute, just a little bit longer
    It’s all up to me and you
    Wait a minute just a little bit longer
    It’s all up to me and you
    Wait a minute, just a little bit longer
    It’s all up to me and you
    Wait a minute just a little bit longer
    It’s all up to me and you

    With the harvest moon.’

    The crowd when wild. He’d done a good job of the song, and his score flashed up on the screen. 7.4. A good score by anyone’s standards, but it probably wouldn’t win the night for him.

    I was more impressed with his choice of song than with anything else. I wondered if the others got the same meaning as me. But I didn’t have much time to wait, Ash was already heading up there.

    June 13, 6:05pm
    MAX


    I had hoped that Ash would choose a more up-beat song. Brock’s was kinda depressing. I was worried at first when he started, but he soon put those worries to rest.

    ‘Oh Mama, I've been years on the lam and had a high price on my head
    Lawman said 'Get him dead or alive' and it's for sure he'll see me dead
    Dear Mama I can hear you cryin', you're so scared and all alone
    Hangman is comin' down from the gallows and I don't have very long

    The jig is up, the news is out
    They finally found me
    The renegade who had it made
    Retrieved for a bounty
    Never more to go astray
    The judge'll have revenge today
    On the wanted man..’

    And he went on like that, singing the rest of ‘Renegade.’ We all had a laugh at his choice. It was certainly appropriate, and really lightened the place up after Brock’s number. He didn’t get a very good score though. Only a 7.0.

    ‘Finally, I’m better than you at something,’ Brock said as Ash sat down.

    ‘Enjoy it while you can, Brock. Don’t get used to the feeling.’

    Tracey went next and gave a wonky rendition of ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ that only got a 6.9. You know how that one goes, I won’t bother telling you again.

    Misty went next, and her song was just dripping with not-so-hidden meaning. Ironically, I think Ash was the only one who didn’t get what she was singing. Here’s the song:

    ‘There goes my old boyfriend, there’s a ‘nother diamond ring.
    And all those late night promises, I guess they don’t mean a thing.
    So tell me, what’s the story? Did you find another girl?
    Is it easy to sleep, in the bed that we made?
    When you don’t look back I’ll bet the feelings start to fade away.
    Well I used to feel your fire, but now it’s cold inside.
    And you’re back on the street, like you didn’t miss a beat, yeah,

    Tell me what it takes to let you go
    Tell me how the pain’s supposed to go
    Tell me how it is that you can sleep
    In the night
    Without thinking you lost everything that was good in your life to the toss of the dice
    Tell me what it takes to let you go.’

    As she sung I heard Brock and May talking quietly.

    ‘She’s obviously still in love with him,’ Brock whispered. My sister was nodding fervently.

    ‘In love with who?’ Ash butted in.

    ‘With you, you idiot!’ May said, much louder than she should have. ‘Listen to her!’ She grabbed his chair and turned it around so he was facing the stage.

    ‘Tell me that you’re happy now you’re on your own.
    Tell me that it’s better when you’re all alone.
    Tell me that your body doesn’t miss my touch,
    Tell me that my loving didn’t mean that much
    Tell me you were lying when you prayed for me.’

    ‘Oh ****, she is,’ Ash said.

    Misty got an 8.0. I think she deserved more.

    June 13, 6:25
    DREW


    Tonight was quite revelatory. I had already learned a lot about Brock, Tracey and Misty from their song choices. Ash, as usual, had opted not to use this unique opportunity to his advantage.

    The more fool him.

    He could have chosen a more appropriate song, one that would win May for him from Dante. If there was one thing I knew about women, it was that they were easily wooed by any small act of public affection.

    I’d picked my song to impress.

    But not to impress May.

    They let me play the piano myself for it.

    ‘People stared at the makeup on his face
    Laughed at his long black hair, his animal grace
    The boy in the bright blue jeans
    Jumped up on the stage
    And lady stardust sang his songs
    Of darkness and disgrace

    And he was alright, the band was all together
    Yes he was alright, the song went on forever
    And he was awful nice
    Really quite out of sight
    And he sang all night long

    Femme fatales emerged from shadows
    To watch this creature fair
    Boys stood upon their chairs
    To make their point of view
    I smiled sadly for a love I could not obey
    Lady Stardust sang his songs
    Of darkness and dismay

    And he was alright, the band was all together
    Yes he was alright, the song went on forever
    And he was awful nice
    Really quite paradise
    And he sang all night long

    Oh how I sighed
    When they asked if I knew his name
    Yes he was alright, the band was all together.’

    8.6. Less than I’d hoped, but enough. And as I rejoined the rest of the band, I could tell that only one of them had any clue who I was singing to.

    Perfect.

    June 13, 6:30
    MAY


    Drew finished his weird song and it was my turn. But even as I got up onto the stage I found myself thinking about Drew. Who was he singing to? It can’t have been me, I know that much. Long black hair and animal grace. Sounded like Dante, but I knew it wasn’t. But I didn’t have time to think about that now. All I had to think about now was putting Ash in his place once and for all.

    And I think I had the song to do it.

    ‘Fly by Frankie thinks he's superman
    Like a child at the wheel of a rocket
    He comes round here with a license to love
    But I don't know where he got it
    I trusted you offered everything
    But I'm not sure you deserve it

    You tell me that I'm lucky
    But I feel like giving up
    'cause a heart like mine's wasted on you
    If you don't know what you've got

    You throw it away
    Throw it away
    All the heart and the soul I've been giving
    You throw it away
    Throw it away
    Like it's no big deal you'll be missin'
    You throw it away
    Throw it away
    Run it underground

    Fly by Frankie's got it in his head
    That he's something I know that he's not
    He's like a blind bull in a china shop
    When it comes to affairs of the heart

    You wouldn't know what love is
    If it hit you like a rock
    And a girl like me is lost on you
    If you don't know what you've got

    You throw it away
    Throw it away
    All the heart and the soul I've been giving
    You throw it away
    Throw it away
    Like it's no big deal you'll be missin'
    You throw it away
    Throw it away
    Run it underground

    Every breath in the park
    Every dance in the dark
    Every promise you make
    You go and throw it away
    Every smile in the rain
    You know it's always the same
    You go and do it again
    You go and throw it away

    You wouldn't know what love is
    If it hit you like a rock
    And a girl like me is lost on you
    If you don't know what you've got

    You throw it away
    Throw it away
    All the heart and the soul I've been giving
    You throw it away
    Throw it away
    Like it's no big deal you'll be missin'
    You throw it away
    Throw it away
    Run it underground
    Oo-oo, oo-oo.’

    I was pretty nervous and I think I missed a couple of the high notes. The score came in at 7.4, the same as Brock. I was happy with that. What made my unhappy was that Ash hadn’t even been listening, and that he didn’t even notice when I sat down again. When he reached for his drink and saw my hand on the table he sort of bounced in his seat out of surprise. I wasn’t impressed.

    ‘Hey May, that was great,’ he said.

    ‘Save it, Ash, I know you weren’t listening.’

    ‘I was listening,’ he protested as Dante got up to take the stage.

    ‘Good luck, honey,’ I called to him. He responded with a half-wave.

    Honey?

    Why the hell did I call him honey?

    ‘Okay, this one’s for a certain lady in here tonight,’ Dante’s voice started abruptly, snapping my attention back to the stage. He was looking right at me as he said it, so I guess I was that certain lady.

    Then he started.

    ‘Do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do
    Do, do, do, do. Do, do, do do

    Don't tell me your name, just use that pretty mouth
    To kiss me if you want this, but I want you inside out
    Start here at the end and later, when we're waking
    Our bodies still weak, we finally meet, turn my head and say

    We could be perfect strangers, let's spend tonight
    We could be perfect strangers, hello, won't you look in my eyes?
    Don't let this bad world change you
    You got places to go, so much further than I can see
    We could be perfect strangers
    Thank you for spending one night with me

    Do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do
    Do, do, do, do. Do, do, do do

    Let's just keep this simple
    In the A.M it's goodbye
    The syrup's so much sweeter when you let the butter fly
    So spread your wings and go, it's better not to know
    What I'm gonna miss, I'll remember your kiss when I turn my head and say

    We could be perfect strangers, let's spend tonight
    We could be perfect strangers, hello, won't you look in my eyes?
    Don't let this bad world change you
    You got places to go, so much further than I can see
    We could be perfect strangers
    Thank you for spending one night with me

    We are passing trains,
    We are whiplash lovers
    We are burning wax
    Melting all over each other

    We could be perfect strangers, let's spend tonight
    We could be perfect strangers, hello, won't you look in my eyes?
    Don't let this bad world change you
    You got places to go, so much further than I can see

    Everyone wants you
    but nobody knows that you're so alone inside
    We could be perfect strangers
    Thank you for spending one night’

    It was heartbreaking to hear. This guy, this amazing, wonderful, genuine guy, didn’t think he was good enough for me? It made me angry. Not with him, but with myself. How was I acting, if people got this impression of me?

    I looked back to the stage. The score was up – 8.2 – but Dante was nowhere in sight.

    June 13, 6:35pm
    ASH


    Son of a *****, I was sick of Dante.

    I knew from the start that he was up to something with this karaoke trick. At first I thought he was planning to make a fool of me, but now I could see it all much more clearly.

    He didn’t give a damn what I did, he was using this as a chance to get closer to May.

    The jerk.

    But why did I care?

    I wasn’t in love with May.

    I’d been telling myself that for the last three days, but I still didn’t believe it.

    So I was in love with May. What now? She made it pretty clear in her song how she felt about me.

    Damn, I wished I’d worked this out half an hour ago. I sure as hell wouldn’t have sung ‘Renegade.’ This was the third time Styx had ruined my life.

    There was only one reasonable course of action now: fight Dante. And not just with Pokémon.

    Suddenly Dante was back at the table.

    ‘Where have you been?’ May cried, jumping up and throwing her arms around him.

    ‘Whoah, calm down, May. I was just in the commodes.’

    ‘I thought-’

    ‘That I’d run away? Left the rest of you to the mercy of the ‘law man’ by yourselves?’

    Jerk.

    ‘Speaking of which, Ash, you made pretty good time getting back here so fast.’

    ‘Back from where?’ I snapped.

    ‘From the latrines. I just saw you in there.’

    ‘No you didn’t, you idiot. I’ve been here the whole time.’

    He didn’t say anything. At first I thought he was going to hit me for calling him an idiot, then I realised that he was thinking something over.

    ‘You were still in there when I left,’ he said.

    ‘I’ve been here the whole time,’ I repeated.

    ‘Ash,’ Tracey said slowly, ‘do you think the guy in there that Dante saw might have something to do with you being accused of murder?’

    Just like that a huge puzzle piece fell into place.

    A lookalike. No wonder that guy in the street was so determined that it was me.

    ‘Here you come,’ Dante said. We all turned and looked in the direction of the toilets. Sure enough, out came somebody who looked exactly like me. He was even wearing the same thing, down to the same hat. His hair was the same shade, and the exact same style.

    ‘Come on you *******, look this way,’ I mumbled. I wanted to see this guy’s face.

    He turned his head slightly and stopped moving. And then I recognised him.

    Have you worked out who it was yet?

    It was Mr. Perfect himself.

    Richie.

    June 13, 7:15pm
    MISTY


    Richie had sat down with some girl who had her back to us. I couldn’t work out who she was, if I even knew her.

    There were so many questions running through my head. What did Richie have to gain by framing Ash? He was always such a nice guy, such a good natured guy. Why was he working with Jessie and James? What was this business about a Suicune? And the biggest worry, why hadn’t anyone thought to check May’s place yet? It was such an obvious place for us to be hiding. Everything smelt of another set-up.

    Suddenly Richie and his date got up and headed to the door, just about the time Max was coming back from the bar. Richie and the girl stepped outside into the fresh air, but not before the girl turned for one last look around.

    Well, that answered one of my questions. Why was Richie suddenly against Ash? Easy. He was dating Ash’s manipulative ***** of an ex, Christina.

    May suddenly cried out and snapped me out of my ponderings. I looked back to the door and saw Max disappearing out of it.

    June 13, 7:19pm
    MAX


    Luckily for me this guy had a big boot. His car was a 1962 Chrysler Valiant, colour white. I managed to slip into the back without him noticing. There was nothing in there, which was just as well. Now I could stretch out while he drove me back to his hideout. Then I could find out what the hell was going on.

    I cradled the Pokeball in my hand.

    I hoped Brock wouldn’t mind me borrowing his Steelix for the night.

  19. #19
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    Richie! That was unexpected...and he's dating Christina! Scary thought.

    Hang on, Max knows that's Richie, right?

  20. #20
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    I'm not going to bother with a long review, as looking up... that's already been covered :P This is really well written and I'm really enjoying it. Btw - you have great taste in music!
    Altaria
    ~

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    great chapter. Ash sang "Renegade", what a dumb-s***
    LOL at Styx has ruined my life three times
    advance shipping forever
    contestshipping must die painfully

    I have claimed Saint Bernards and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Together they shall rule the world.

    Proud member of Xbox 360/Xbox Live Club and the Mythical Creatures Club.



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  22. #22
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    Artemis:
    Max has never met Richie (or Christina). Not in my timeline anyway. As far as he's concerned it's just some guy who framed Ash.

    Altaria:
    Thankyou. I do have great taste in music. I've compiled a soundtrack to this, I'll post the list sometime.
    Last edited by Zubeon; 13th November 2006 at 12:53 AM.

  23. #23
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    Oooh, that was really good. Very interesing and well written- I liked how you switched viewpoint very easily. I liked how Tracy kept saying that no one tells him anything, very amusing.
    I'll keep my eye out for the next chapter!

  24. #24
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    Next chapter could be up anytime between now and friday. I've already planned it and started it, it usually goes pretty quickly from there.

    Z

  25. #25

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    My god, this story is interesting, the way you wrote it. Interesting song choices. I'll wait for your next chapter. =]

    ----

    Total Hitsugaya-kun lover. <333

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