Original thread can be found here.
It is my pleasure to redo this story for you, as I felt the original version was lacking in...how shall I put this..."good writing." I have decided to expand on the original, and recreate the storyline. This story is rated R, for sexual diologue, alcohol, violence, language, and all the things you normally wish were in Power Rangers. This is a Power Rangers/AdvanceShipping story, so if any one of those offends you, do not look at this story, and do not rate this story, unless you are going to give it an honest opinion. I cannot stress that enough.
Ash Ketchum: 28
May Birch: 27
Max Birch: 22
Brock Harrison: 33
Sarah Birch: 5
Morph One-Nicklbeack- Rockstar
Morph Two-My Chemical Romance- Famous Last Words
Morph Three-Bowling for Soup- High School Never Ends
Morph Four-0's Theme: Linkin Park- What I've Done
Morph Five-Tenacious D- Tribute
PKM Rangers: Rise of the Dark Gems
Morph One- Ground Zero: The Dark Man with the Pikachu Emerges!
The dark man walked towards the towering building, his face shrouded in shadows. No one stopped him, no one asked directions, no one interfered in the least as he walked forward, interested only in the convention center in front of him, his dark, glazed attention firmly fixed on the giant double-doors before him. Hands in his pockets, he slugged forward, his shoulders shifting from side to side as he swayed. He barely noticed the other creature standing on his shoulder, a quiet yellow mouse about the size of a basketball that took in the center through its beady little eyes, its nose taking in the scents of the venders and the wafers inside. The man didn’t notice, and pulled one gloved hand out of his pocket, slamming his palm against the clear glass door, and hot air blasted at him, an alteration from the cold, crisp air of the January morning. Shrugging off the new heat, the man walked into the center, the door falling back after him as he relieved the tension that his hand exerted, and placed his hand back in the pockets of his dark pants.
It had been a while since he had stopped traveling, since he had stopped his journeys and explorations with his friends. He had pursued a different goal in life than Max or Brock. He had found another path, separate from Misty or Tracey. They had all done what they had wanted with their lives, and were still doing it. Hikari, after all, hadn’t fallen from light. She was a coordinator now, like another, certain someone that the dark man knew. It had been a while since he had seen Brock, Max, even Gary. It had been a while since he had been home, or even had a place to call home. He was on a “break.” A break that had been standing for about two years now, without showing signs of stopping. But he didn’t know if he wanted it to stop, because even if he did, nothing could be done. For a long while now, his only friend was the one sitting on his shoulder, looking through the vast crowd of people that was swooning around, searching for any signs of the dark man’s old friends.
The young man hadn’t changed much since the old days, when he had been excited, an eager trainer waiting to make his mark in the world, to become the greatest Pokemon Master ever born. Except that he wasn’t the greatest Pokemon Master ever born. Drawing influence on the dark man’s personality, his clothes would not have been out of place in an otaku conference. He had ditched the hat, first of all, tired of the trademarked look. His hair was now free, and mostly unkempt, several times its original mass, though it still stuck up like it used to in the old days. Most of it was tied in a shocked-like ponytail, which served no purpose other than to direct the unkempt hair in the correct direction. Instead of the hood and the nice shirts he had worn in the days past, a plain yellow t-shirt fluttered around his stomach with each step. The pants were black and baggy, rather than dark blue and neat, but beneath them steel-toed combat boots clunked against the polished floors he walked on.
There really wasn’t anything interesting about him. He was above-average in height, a few inches above six feet. The baggy outfit the man wore concealed the broad and powerful muscles he had, and did exactly as it was designed to do, hide his physique. A chain jingled along his neck, made of what appeared to be either silver or stainless steel, connected by interlocking links. At the end of the chain hung a simple symbol, a ring crafted out of gold that might have fit on his fourth finger, had he worn it there. The man glanced down at it, and took a deep breath. After all this time, he still felt the brutal sting of what the ring symbolized. But what did he expect, to wake up one day and the pain wouldn’t be there?
“Damn,” his muttered, looking up once more from the ring. He felt it hit his chest every time he moved, the pain was stronger here, in this place. He looked around, watching the people, knowing that he shouldn’t, but secretly hoped, that he would see her again. It wasn’t as though he didn’t have some form of contact with her, he did, after all, have to send the check to her every single week, his precious money which, by order of law, he was required to pay, handing her money which paid for someone he wasn’t even allowed to see. He almost, but not quite, chuckled at the irony of how his money was used. Sometimes that was just the thing about life, in that it could sometimes kill you with stupid irony.
The mouse riding atop his shoulder, the electric type, looked at him with its beady eyes. His eternal companion, its red cheeks sparked as it checked him out, making sure that its trainer was alright. At the same time, its small, long ears perked, listening in for something, or someone. Its tail, shaped like a powerful lightning bolt, stuck out from the back of the man’s head, or, at least, it looked that way if you were on the right side of the man. It too, was older, but it still held the spark that the dark man had forgotten.
The man looked around, then sighed again. “So, where is she?” he muttered, looking up at the atrium’s main arch. He had been walking down it, the atrium was just one of many entrances to the center, heading towards the battle arenas. A sign was draped over the atrium’s exit, proclaiming Saffron City Pokemon Contest- Invitation Only in bright purple lettering. The mouse on his shoulder issued a squeak with an eager “Pika!” The man just shook his head, and scratched his chin with one dark gloved hand. “Well, I hope she brought Sarah. You shouldn’t leave a little girl at home alone.” Picking up his feet once more, he made his way through the columned atrium’s exit, and entered the convention center’s main battle arena section.
At once, the moment he left the comparatively quiet area of the atrium, bright lights issued from all round him, colors swirling in front of him. He could see everything: people fleeing across the floors in search of food, circles of spectators watching as below them, contests were being won and lost, thanks to some ingenious design in the center’s layout that had battles below, with glass ceilings above where the spectators watched, allowing for more focus, as the combatants couldn’t hear the cheers or boos their performance generated. The dark man passed over the battles, mostly ignoring them, as he headed for the registration booths to pick up an identification badge. There are way too many people here. The man yawned at the thought, he was getting bored already. Sighting the booths over on the other side of the center, amidst a sea of people standing in line waiting for them, so that they too might partake of the festivities and watch the matches. Making his way over to the area, the dark man turned to the yellow rodent. “Are you sure she’ll be here, Pikachu?” he asked.
As the dark man blatantly ignored the long line to retrieve an all-access badge, and headed straight up to the receptionists, the mouse nodded. “Pi!” it squeaked, confirming exactly what the man had said. Its eyes were scanning the floors below, the contest matches that were taking place, in search for her, or any other familiar faces in the crowds. The man knew she would be here, of course, since she was one of the top coordinators from Hoenn, but he really didn’t want to catch her at an inopportune time. There was also a good chance that the others were here, supporting her. He didn’t want to see them, exactly, as he hadn’t parted on good terms with them. After all, he was the one who had caused the demise of the relationship, not the other way around, and his former friends could never understand his point of view.
The people waiting in line didn’t seem to take his point of view either, as a few of them were shouting at him for barging to the front of the line. As the man turned to the receptionist, a young redhead girl, he felt a strong poke jab him straight in the back. Annoyed, but not tempted to violence, the man bent his head to the girl, leaning onto the tall blue counter set up in front of her. “Reservation,” he muttered, pulling out a scrap of paper from his pants pocket, and handing the folded sheet to her. “An all-access pass, please.” The girl took it from him, and smiled at him with her emerald eyes.
“Just one moment,” she answered, looking down to her computer terminal. The man nodded, and felt another sharp jab, this one to his lower back, followed by a vehement exclamation demanding to know exactly what the man thought he was doing and who he thought he was. If the nerd who was hitting him got any lower, the man silently decided that he would deck whoever was behind him. Fortunately, when the receptionist said to wait a moment, she really meant it, something very rare in the man’s experience. “Here you go,” she answered, handing the man a small, clip-on badge in the shape of a rectangle with a famous coordinator on it smiling at him. The man took it without looking and placed it into his pocket for later attachment.
“Thanks,” the man grumbled, before turning around to see the offending person who had had the audacity to touch him. A tall, Goth boy, with pale face paint over his skin, with dyed raven hair was looking directly at him, a slight snarl embedded on his black lips. The dark man was unmoved. “What do you want?”
The Goth seemed angered about something. “I want to know why you think you can skip clear to the head of the line without waiting like the rest of us,” he demanded, his various chains jiggling all over his dark attire as he shook his fist at the dark man. “What makes you better than us?” The crowd chorused its agreement.
The man considered answering them, but decided against it. Instead, he turned towards the mouse riding on his shoulder. “Want to get something to drink? I‘m thirsty.” he asked it, deliberately dodging the question the Goth had so kindly wanted him to answer. The mouse nodded, issuing one squeaking “Pi!” The dark man nodded, and began to scan the surroundings for the nearest drinking establishment. One caught his attention, a bar made up in the theme of a Orre cantina, that he liked the look of. The double doors were open, so he started walking forward, leaving the line without another word. What is this, a nerd convention? I would think she would have a better rep. He decided against asking anyone, including himself, the answer to that question, considering that he himself game here every year, so that would make him one of the “nerds” that frequented these kinds of events.
“When’s our first match?” the dark man muttered, shifting his face to look at Pikachu. The little mouse shook its even smaller shoulders, and gave out a long stream of squeaks and murmurs, all of which either used the whole or part of the word “Pikachu.” The man nodded. “I’ll consult the chart later, they said I wouldn’t start until tomorrow anyway.” Both trainer and Pokemon made their way through the public, the man making sure that he didn’t draw any attention. He didn’t want anyone to recognize him, that was the precise reason that he had grown out his hair and changed his clothes from the ones commonly associated with him. He preferred privacy, one of the main reasons he kept such small contact with other people, and why he dressed himself differently. He didn’t want the paparazzi after him, the media hounds that had ruined his life once. It had taken an entire year to ditch them. Now, he blended into the crowd, another passing, forgettable face.
The dark man pushed open the revolving doors to the bar, and took in the scent of cheap booze and drunks. This was one of his safe havens, a place that he go could to without being hounded, where he could enjoy the simpler things of life, and for a few hours, just forget about his problems. The atmosphere was hazy, the reek of tobacco beckoning him from all over, swirls of smoke tracing the wooden ceiling above him. The TV was muted, but turned onto some coverage channel, most likely one of the matches that was going on. Twenty people were assembled in the dank bar, not counting the bartender, all of them staring into their bottles of hooch, or at the screen, where a Blaziken was blasting an Aipom with a Blaze Kick, followed by a Sky Uppercut. The man ignored the drunks, who all seemed to be slewing in some sort of misery. He had his own problems, so he didn’t engage any of them in conversation, as they could get the impression he cared. He heaved himself forward, and took a solitary seat on one of the barstools in front of the bartender. Pikachu, mimicking its trainer, hopped off its perch, and settled down on the table in a laid-down position.
The man opened his mouth. “Give me the strongest beer you got,” he grunted, looking up at the bartender. “Now.” The man placed a hand in his pockets, drawing forth a few bills and his access badge. The bartender took them up, and peered over the information, studying the dark man’s face. When he was satisfied, the bartender handed the badge back to the man, and took the money.
The bartender, a grubby looking man with an eye patch over the left side of his face, nodded his head, pushing back the blond locks of his hair. “Coming right up,” he answered politely, but with a slight growl. The dark man nodded, and the barkeep walked towards the old fashioned register next to the taps, ringing up the sale, and collecting the change from the tin. The bartender grabbed a mug from under the counter, and took out the strongest tap he had. Pressing down on the button attached to the nozzle, a steady stream of dark beer poured into the cup. The keep tilted the mug, the foam falling out onto the floor as the container was filled. When the mug was full, the bartender raised his other arm and coughed hard, making sure to keep it away from the drink. The bartender then placed the drink down onto the shiny surface of the counter, and shoved it down towards the dark man, who caught it without glancing at the keep.
“Here’s your change,” the one-eyed man muttered, handing back a few coins to the other, who just took them in his gloved hand and pocketed them. The man stared at the drink, while the bartender reached into his pocket to obtain the pack of smokes he kept in his pants, along with a small lighter with the image of a naked woman embossed on the surface. He opened the pack and grabbed one of the slim joints, shoving it into his yellowed, stained mouth, placing the pack back into his pocket and lighting the smoke with the flames from his lighter. Putting the lighter back, the bartender took a deep drag from the cigarette, before removing it from his mouth to blow more of the carbon monoxide-creating haze into the air.
The dark man looked up to the bartender, who appeared to be immensely enjoying the burning joint, and made a slight face of disgust with his mouth. “You know, that’s bad for you,” he said with a solemn voice, before raising the tankard of beer to his lips. As the bartender watched, the man took a deep draught from the mug, emptying about a fourth of the contents into his mouth. He stopped to let the alcohol take its natural course, as drinking too much at once was a hazard, and set the tankard down.
The bartender laughed. “Yeah, the alcoholic tell the smoker that what he does is bad,” he coughed. The dark man joined in, chuckling at the irony with him. “What I do to myself ain’t much worse then what you do to yourself, ya know.”
The dark man nodded. “I’m not an alcoholic, buddy,” he replied, raising the glass once more. “I just like the taste is all.” The barkeep chortled, as the man made about half the contents of the tankard’s original amount of liquid vanish mysteriously into his stomach. “Hey, you want some, Pikachu?” The mouse looked up, but shook its head. “Give my friend here a glass of milk.” At this, the rodent nodded vigorously. The bartender just sighed, but got out a platter of milk for the Pokemon. Pikachu gave out an almighty squeak of thanks to its trainer, before it shoved its face into the drink and inhaled. The dark trainer fished out another few bucks, and passed them to the barkeep. “So, what’s going on there?” he asked, pointing towards the television in the corner. The Blaziken had defeated the Aipom, and a play-by-play of the last move was being displayed, along with the scores.
The barkeep shook his head in confusion. “Don’t ya know who that is?” he asked, pointing a finger at the screen. “That’s the girl who’s gotten the most bets placed on her. She’s the favorite to win this year’s Contest.” The dark trainer grunted in acknowledgment, as a new picture came on the screen, displaying the girl in question. “The Contest started today, with the semifinals and finals taking place tomorrow. This kind of event is pretty good for me, ‘cause most people come here ta drown their sorrows after losing in some booze.”
The man wasn’t paying attention to what the bartender was saying, focusing his attention on the woman in the picture, who was waving energetically and smiling. Her soft auburn hair fell down, slightly obscuring the azure eyes that were sparkling with triumph. She had grown out her hair, he noticed, since he had last seen her.
The dark man finished the glass, draining every last drop down his throat. “I suppose you are right,” he muttered, staring through the empty bottom of the mug. “I’m one of the contestants, and it ain’t exactly a peachy day for me either.” The man looked down at the badge he had taken from the registration booth, and groaned aloud. The coordinator he had just seen on the TV stared back at him, her face fixed into a smiling grin, with two fingers sticking out of her fist, making the bunny signal.
Deep, deep down, Max Birch loved his niece. Honest to goodness he did. He had been there when she was born, and had personally overseen her childhood with May for two years. He was perfectly willing to do whatever he could to protect her, and would do almost anything for her. This did not, however, change the fact that he would have done practically anything to avoid guard duty when May was off doing a match in the Contest.
Sarah Birch, the single most energetic girl that Max had ever met, gripped her uncle’s hand with a strength that didn’t seem to Max normal from a five-year-old. Plowing through the crowd, Max made certain that he didn’t lose track of her, partially because he was a loving and caring uncle, but mostly because of the threat the little girl’s overprotective mother had administered to him prior to heading for her match. Max chuckled sheepishly, keeping an eye on the little girl so that she wouldn’t cause any trouble, one of the single greatest challenges he had ever faced.
Why May always picked him for guard duty, he never knew, though silently he screamed in exhaustion as Sarah somehow got behind him, and he suddenly felt a slight burden on his shoulders as she leapt up. Max groaned as he felt his eardrums burst, Sarah shouting for a piggyback ride as though he was standing on the opposite side of a battlefield. Already, his dark jade shirt was creasing, and beads of sweat fell from his face. His feet ached, an after-affect from chasing the little girl around. He needed to recuperate. “Hey, think we can sit down for a sec?” he asked, panting vigorously.
She giggled, grabbing the front of his neck as he tucked her little legs under his arms. “Yee-hah! Go, Uncle Max, go!” she squealed, kicking him hard in the side, like a cowboy spurs a Ponyta. Max reared in shock, but reluctantly neighed for the girl as he lumbered in the direction of the nearest place to sit. He looked around quickly, as he needed a place that would both let him sit and keep Sarah occupied. Deciding that his back was more important than spoiling dinner for Sarah, Max buckled towards an open food court, which seemed to house all sorts of different venders selling stuff. Passing through the crowd, Max panted as he approached one of the booths, and set the girl on his shoulders down onto one side of the table atop the large cushioned seat that spanned the outside of the table. She bounced around happily as Max deposited himself on the other side, panting roughly, and wiping his brow.
Sarah, easily distracted, looked in the direction of one of the arenas, where someone was losing. It was an exhibition battle, not part of the actual tournament, but the little girl turned towards Max, and smiled. “Is Mommy gonna win?” she asked, her high, assertive voice trailing over all the commotion going on around them. She dropped her head, pooped, onto the table, though her eyes remained trained on her uncle.
Max grinned, and raised his thumb. “She’d better win, or we’re all gonna be in big, big trouble,” he replied, pushing himself into an upright sitting position. It wasn’t that he didn’t mind babysitting Sarah, it was just that she somehow always managed to make him feel so old. Living with and watching a baby niece was definitely one of those things that could have put grey hairs in Max’s head, though thankfully the dark locks had remained intact since his old journey days. They were a little longer now, and needed occasional brushing out of the eyes, but were otherwise fine. Max still wore glasses, though the style he had now was thinner and narrower than the kinds he had worn as a child. Sighing, he adjusted the lenses, making sure that they were firmly attached to his head. Blindness was not a good thing when watching Sarah. “You want something to eat?” Max looked round the venders, taking stock of what each was selling. “I think one of these guys should have some pizza for ya.”
Sarah, at the very mention of the word “pizza,” changed, suddenly beginning to drool from her mouth, her foot shaking itself into a frenzy. “Pitza!” she shouted happily, mispronouncing the word as she always did, raising her arms. She hadn’t learned yet how to properly say her favorite food, but she was far too cute when she said it for anyone to correct her. “Pitza!”
Max chuckled, shaking his head. “Sure thing, kid,” he replied, rising from where he was sitting. He spotted the pizza vender, which wasn’t that far from where they were, only a few feet away. Sarah jumped up from her seat, and followed her uncle, grabbing his larger hand as they went. The vender, a large man, who’s lower face was covered by an unbelievably heavy, thick, auburn moustache. Max thought the man smiled, as the hair inclined upwards at the edges when they approached.
“Tell him what you want, squirt,” Max said, nudging her forward.
As Sarah, in rampart detail, explained to the vender exactly what she wanted, Max looked at her, and smiled. He was a lucky guy to have such a cool niece in his life. And she was, of course, May’s daughter, which meant that the dark, almost raven, auburn hair shined in the convention center’s light, glowing with an inner beauty that plenty of guys would be stunned by when she grew up. Sarah, however, unlike her mother, was big on the shopping deal, having inherited the feminine gene from her grandmother that drove crazy women to shop. So she wore designer jeans, even though she was five, with a small yellow shirt that was tucked into her pants. She even had running shoes on her feet. But it was probably the eyes that Max always noticed the most when he saw her. Eyes that could freeze a Charizard in its tracks. Pools of midnight black, which carried a strange combination of fierceness and gentleness.
They were his, the eyes of the dark warrior, and Max knew well enough not to mention them. Even so much as saying his name near Sarah or May was warrant a death sentence according to his sister. But still, he had left his mark on his daughter, and he never ceased to feel amazed at exactly how intense the gaze was. I wonder if she even knows who her father is. May’s revenge against him, and Max sagged his head in dismay. No matter how much I hate him, no child should be kept away from her father. Sarah looked up to him, and offered a wide smile. Max replied with a grin, and paid the vendor, taking the receipt from the man, and walked back to the booth to wait for the entire, large pizza pie that Sarah had ordered.
He sighed, staring at the ceiling. Times really have changed since it happened… As Max drifted off, Sarah began to demand attention once more, and it wasn’t until a firm shoe slammed into his knee did Max return to reality, shaking his head. Sarah wanted the pizza, now done, from the vendor. Max chuckled, and nodded, rising to get it. She was such a happy child, for all she had been shielded from by her mother and family.
“Hey, Max!” The man, caught off guard, failed to notice as he was grabbed roughly in a giant, unbearably painful hug, as he set the pizza down on the table for Sarah. Max grunted in annoyance, though he knew the master of the voice. Brock Harrison squeezed a final time, before releasing Max to recover breath, laughing his head off. Max grinned, turning round to clasp the hands of his fellow Gym leader. He hadn’t known that Brock would be attending, but it was a nice surprise nonetheless.
“You old dog,” the younger man chuckled, shaking Brock’s hand in welcome. Brock grinned, his fox-eyes nothing more than friendly slits on his face. They hadn’t changed, just like the Brock that Max, May, and little Sarah knew and loved, his personality still bright and optimistic, if slightly more perverted than the old days, as Max could see Brock staring at one of the surrounding women out of the corner of his eyes. Brock’s hair no longer stuck up, though it still gave someone the impression that he had stuck a pin cushion on his head and colored it brown. The spikes were longer, bent at the ends, and held up by a dark blue headband. He seemed to have gotten more tanned since Max had last seen him, and wore a dark brown vest with a navy blue shirt underneath. He wore black cargo pants, and nice, highly polished boots that in themselves qualified as a light source. “It’s been a while, Brock. Good to see you.”
Brock issued a giant laugh. “Same here, buddy!” he retorted, passing the younger man. “Scoot, squirt.” Sarah cheered, moving hurriedly so that Brock could settle himself down next to her, and he patted her on the head, ruffling her dark auburn hair. “It’s good to see you two here.” He bent towards Sarah, and winked. “Now, have you been behaving for your momma, Sarah?” He pulled out a box of chocolate, a special Kanto delicacy that he gave the little girl every time he saw her.
The girl nodded, and snatched for the candy, which Brock kept just out of range. “Yes, Uncle Brock!” she squealed back. Chuckling, Brock lowered his hand, and handed her the candy, which she thoroughly inspected before tucking it away in her pants pocket. She then eyed, and began attacking, the pizza, tearing off a slice of the cheese-based product and gobbling it up.
Max grinned, looking at the exhausted form of Max, who was munching on a slice of his own. “And have you been a good girl for Uncle Max?” he asked.
“Nope,” the other man muttered, a final pant escaping his lips. Brock and Sarah laughed. “She’s a little demon. Aren’t ya Sarah?” She laughed, and nodded her head.
Brock, deciding the moment was too good to waste, deepened his voice, taking on the sterner, more adult accent he once used on his own brothers and sisters when they misbehaved. “Sarah,” he lectured, wagging his finger at her, as if he was displeased, “say sorry to Uncle Max.”
The little girl giggled, and bobbed her head up and down. “Sowwy, Uncle Max,” she chirped sweetly, “I’ll be good from now on!” Brock thanked her, while Max decided they would have better luck figuring out a way to make “from now on” last longer than the hour it usually did.
***The sounds, the chaos, the unending satisfaction of victory.
May Birch grinned in triumph, as her favorite Pokemon delivered the finishing blow on the small purple monkey in front of her, smashing its flaming arm in a fierce uppercut, sending the simian flying into the air, smashing its annoying, grinning face on the glass ceiling, with the crowd above cheering as they looked down into the match. Flashing a smile for the camera nearest to her, the young woman’s pearly whites dazzled the audience, the shining azure eyes capable of stopping cars in the street smiling along with her mouth. She raised her hands high, as the judge roared her name.
“AND THE WIN GOES TO…MAY BIRCH!”
The crowd above them erupted into echoes of cheers and hoots, fan boys and girls alike chanted her name like crazy. Her opponent, a youth prodigy about half her age, had already recalled his Aipom, and seemed to be fuming as he left, walking towards one of the elevators on his side of the arena to the above floor, where the press would be certain to annoy and harass him on his crushing defeat. She almost wished that she hadn’t beat him. Almost, because she had wanted to win, and no amount of coordinators was going to stand in the way of that. Grinning, she recalled Blaziken, raising the Pokemon’s red and white containment unit, its Pokeball, to shoulder height. She pressed down on the button in the center, and a streak of bright, crimson light erupted from the little orb. The light encompassed the large Pokemon, and reverted it to the same color, before the whole Pokemon vanished into the light, disappearing into the ball with an audible whoosh. Her match completed, May reattached the Pokeball to her belt on a small clip.
She chuckled to herself. Winning matches like this, completely and utterly dominating her opponents, was one of the few, simple pleasures that she had never denied herself. Brushing the long strands of brown hair from her face, she flashed another smile at the otaku standing above her battlefield, who all shouted in approval above her platform, her blue eyes twinkling at them. Dusting off her hands, May turned round, now that the match was over, and made for the elevators leading up to the upper floors. She passed through a small corridor, before reaching the glass lift. She pressed the button on the side, and the double doors whirled open in response. May stepped through the doors, and hit the button for the main deck, the floor above her.
The elevator whirled to life, and the doors closed slowly before her, and she felt the small jerk beneath her as she started to rise from the lower level, where the battles took place, and the upper deck, where most of the non-battling activity was going on. Through the glass, she could hear the venders selling their wavers, otaku running around in search of their favorite coordinators, and the various other goings-on common with an event such as this. Though the complex design of the center was made solely to accommodate multiple battles and a different form of spectator viewing. With the battles taking place below them, the viewers were given a different point of observation. Contests were growing in popular culture nowadays, almost on the same par as regular battles. As such, famous coordinators such as herself were normally swamped with incoming fan mail and attacked by paparazzi, not to mention swarmed by fans. May’s fan mail alone could have more than capable of keeping an entire region happily supplied with paper for months. Sometimes this lifestyle gets on my nerves. She sighed, shaking her head, the machine slowing down as she approached her destination. She chuckled, hoping that her brother hadn’t gotten overrun with guard duty, or else she might have trouble finding Max and his charge.
She was dressed plainly, she thought, looking over herself as she stepped out of the elevator. She didn’t like to think she was beautiful, despite the fact that both Playboy and Penthouse had asked her to pose for their magazines on multiple occasions. She was about five foot seven, with a lithe build and complex that masked her surprising strength. She didn’t exactly like drawing attention to herself, even though every person in the building knew who she was. So she dressed simply, wearing black leather pants, high heel shoes, and a red blouse. She didn’t wear makeup, because she thought it made her look tacky, but her family agreed that she looked stunning with the stuff on. That was all, nothing more. Nothing that would draw attention, except from, of course, her fans…
She had just exited the elevator when the cry of the average central-Kanto fan boy rang out clear through the crowd. “Hello beautiful!” echoed a nasally voice from within the surging crowd, followed by a giant horde of intense whistling. May groaned inside, as the man who had issued the catcall, a stereotypical otaku, emerged from the crowd. A large beefy man, with more chins that a phone book’s pages, grinned at her with bucked teeth, pointing to the extremely tight shirt he happened to be wearing, which displayed a wider version of her own smiling face, stretched over his tubby pectorals. The man grinned a second time, rubbing a fat hand through his gleaming, greasy black hair. “How you doin’?” he asked, in a deeper, more annoying voice.
May rolled her eyes. “Here we go again,” she murmured, rubbing the top of her head. “Okay, let’s do this. Which one of you guys to I have to beat up for everyone to stop bothering me?” She turned to face the gathering of sweaty nerds, or, in particular, the sweaty nerd who had catcalled her, and cracked the knuckles on both her hands. She knew exactly how to deal with annoying fans: beat them up.
The otaku who had spoken to her, obviously the leader of the gaggle of nerds, stood tall in the face of her demand, walking boldly towards her, his massive hips swaying with his hands. His nostrils flared, and his cheeks turned a deep scarlet, his heart thudding in his chest so loud that everyone could hear, though that was mostly due to his clogged arteries. “Come on, baby, don’t be like that,” he swooned, his disfigured teeth grinning. “I mean, I’m sure that a nice, lovely woman like yourself needs some…manly comforts now and than. And considering as you don’t have a man no more, and you haven’t for the past couple years, I decided it would be a good idea to extend to you an invite into my pants. You look like you need some loving anyway.”
May’s hand curled up into a fist. “You’re just begging me to beat you down, aren’t you?” she asked calmly, though her flushed face displayed that inside she was beginning to burn with rage.
The otaku raised his hands. “Hey, Miss, I was just saying that I’d be better than that chump of an ex-husband of yours. What was his name again? Ketchum?” The otaku would later come to regret the decision to bring May’s ex into the conversation.
May flashed white with rage. “I’ll take that as a yes,” she hissed through gritted teeth. “And I’m happy to oblige.” She walked very, very calmly towards the otaku, with that special glint in her eyes usually reserved for those people who, soon after being seen, grab a shotgun and go searching for a bell tower. The instant she was within striking distance of the nerd, she obliged. Throwing out her foot, she struck the otaku hard against the face with a heeled foot. Time froze in between the kick, and the distance that the otaku traveled immediately after the backlash was administered. The nerd was lifted clear off his feet, and knocked into the metaphorical next week. In unanimous agreement, the crowd that had supported the large man parted, allowing the nerd to travel several feet before a massive thud was heard, his giant girth making friends with the solid ground.
The group parted even further away from May as she walked forward, hands on her hips, and bent over the nerd, who was wheezing from the impact. The otaku winced as she approached, and she smiled, like a hungry wolf preparing to feed on her prey. “If you, or anyone here, mentions his name to me again, and you will pay,” she growled, her eyes taking on a predatory look, glaring at him. Fuming, she spun round on her heel and left the crowd speechless, looking around for the nearest drinking establishment, feeling a desperate need to blow off some steam. It took her only a moment, and a sign advertising an Orre-style cantina. One that the nerds, judging by the acne on their faces, could not follow her into. Perfect, she sighed, making a quick dash for the bar, dodging through the relatively light traffic on the walkways. She almost collided into someone, even, just to get there as fast as she could. A light drink, just to take her mind off things, was exactly what she needed to unwind.
Opening the revolving doors, she took a quick survey of the room. There were only a couple of people inside, the only one of them which appeared conscious was sitting at the counter, his shadowed face turned towards the TV in the corner, checking out the match that her rival, Drew, was fighting in, though he didn’t appear all that interested in it. A half-full tankard sat in his gloved, strangely large hands, containing a beer color that almost bordered on black-amber. On the counter next to him, a small yellow rodent was curled up, snoozing peacefully, with a half-finished saucer of milk by it. A Pikachu, she thought, her heart briefly skipping a beat when she saw it. He had a Pikachu, she thought, though she hadn’t seen him in years. The man before her looked nothing like him, with strong, powerful muscles, albeit compact and not body-builder-size, with long hair, the raven color was the only thing that she could say reminded her of him. The man wore a yellow shirt, which was almost golden-colored if seen in the light, and hung around the man baggily, like the rest of his clothes.
She walked towards him, deciding that sitting next to him wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. She looked at him as she sat on the stool, and offered a quick smile, which went unnoticed by the man himself, whose face was covered by heavy bangs, and who seemed engaged in the activities on the television. Holding up her hand, she signaled to the barkeep, who came over a moment later, obviously bored out of his mind. “Could I please get a Mai Tai?” she asked, resting her elbow against the counter. The bartender looked her over once, before his working eye widened when he figured out who she was, and nodded his head.
“Ten, please,” he muttered, grabbing various rums and juices for the drink. May groaned, and pulled her wallet out of her pocket. She flicked it open, and rooted through its contents, coming up with only five in bills. She looked up, watching the barman work, and grinned sheepishly.
“Do you take credit cards, by any chance?” she asked, revealing her empty wallet. The barman looked at her, and shook his ruddy head. May sank her head, but lifted when the man next to her coughed, having apparently woken up from his thoughts. She watched as he put a hand into his pocket, and dug up a twenty bill, and threw it in the direction of the bartender.
“It’s on me,” the dark man muttered, scratching the ears of his Pikachu. His attention was still on the TV, watching as the Roselia delivered a very nice Body Slam to its opponent. “You look like you’ve had a rough time.” He sighed, then raised the glass to his lips, draining the last half of his drink. “Another one, barkeep.” The dark man tossed the mug at the barman, as the one-eyed drinks mixer handed the Mai Tai to May. The barman grunted, and poured out another cup for the trainer.
“Thanks,” she murmured, raising the lithe glass to her lips and sipping, the light rum burning lightly in the back of her throat. She set the glass on the wood counter, and rubbed her head. “It’s just that groupies make me sick sometimes. Paparazzi hasn’t left me alone for years…”
The dark man beside her grunted, and turned himself so he was facing away with her, and nodded his head. “Yeah, life sucks, doesn’t it?” he asked, his voice a dull growl, as the bartender handed him his third beer for the afternoon. May nodded her agreement, chuckling lightly, before he spoke again. “What’s your story, anyway? I thought people wanted to be famous.” The dark man raised his glass, and took a small gulp out of the beer. May sighed, but shook her head.
“It’s nothing really,” she answered, taking a second sip from the small beverage. The bartender, sensing he was not needed from a hand motion from the dark man, decided to occupy himself with a dusty glass beneath the counter, keeping his one eye on the match on the TV. “Just the life of every celebrity you read about, you know? Marriage, divorce. That kind of stuff.” The man nodded his head, scratching the head of his Pikachu, its happy face peaceful and content. It was actually pretty cute, she thought, almost like his Pikachu. “You ever get into things like that?” She waited for him to answer, taking another drink from her Mai Tai.
The dark man chuckled, nodding behind his back. “Yeah, I’ve been in stuff like that,” he replied, taking another sip from his tankard. “The way families are like nowadays, it’s tough to find the ‘ideal’ family. Yeah, I know what you’re talking about.” He coughed into his drink, then took another draught. “I used to have a wife, and a kid too. Didn’t work out the way I had planned, so my wife made me leave.” He paused, then offered a small chuckle. “I still pay alimony, I’m not a deadbeat like most, but the funny thing is that I can’t even see my kid. When we split, she got a court order saying that I couldn’t come near the kid, or ever talk to her. So, I don’t exactly know my kid.”
“Oh…” May dropped her face, looking at the combat boots the man wore. “I sort of do the same thing to my ex-husband. He can’t see my baby girl, because I got the same kind of order from the courts. I still get the checks like clockwork though…” She touched her chest, it hurt talking about her former husband. “But I think he deserves it, after what he did to me, and how much he hurt me.”
The dark man grunted. “Don’t you worry about how he feels? I mean, not being able to ever see his daughter must be horrible for him.”
She snorted into her glass in response. “It doesn’t matter,” May retorted, sipping in her drink. “I don’t want my daughter around that kind of people anyway. He’s the one that did it me, and not the other way around. He destroyed me, so I really don’t care about his feelings on the subject.” She looked up at him, noticing a slight change in his voice. It seemed sadder. “Hey, are you in the Contest, big guy?”
The man nodded. “Yeah. I’m in the semi-finals tomorrow. I was transferred in as a wild card, so I haven’t been in the earlier rounds. I hope I have some decent competition this time, I haven’t lost a fight for a good long while…” He sighed, lifting his head to stare at the ceiling. “You are, I know that. I saw you on the tube. You weren’t bad, but there’s always room for improvement.”
She grinned. “Well, I’m pretty stiff competition, you know. I’m a top coordinator from Hoenn, so it shouldn’t be a cakewalk for even the best coordinators.” She raised her eyes, sizing him up. “I’m May Birch,” she said, finishing her drink, and settling in on the counter. “What’s yours?”
The dark man sat up straighter, paying attention. “Does it really matter?” he asked, cocking his head. “I don’t use my real names in events like these. Got a chart on ya for the next matches?” May shook her head but, as if on cue, the match ended on the TV, and displayed the next round. May smiled, looking at her own face displayed on the monitor. Drew’s face was there, as well, along with Hikari’s beaming gaze. And then…she looked at her own opponent, who bore a very strong resemblance to the man she had been talking to. The dark, raven bangs covered the eyes, but his face was set into a half-smile, as though he had tried to smile, but had somehow failed. They couldn’t hear what the announcer was saying, but May could see the names underneath the faces. Hers, Drew’s, and Hikari’s she knew, but the mystery man she didn’t.
May scratched her chin. “I’ve never heard of you, Mr. Toby,” she said. “How have you avoided the paparazzi?” The dark man heard her, but didn’t answer the question, so she changed the subject, looking towards the Pikachu waking on the table. It’s eyes were fluttering open, and it yawned deeply. “How long have you been training that Pikachu?”
When the mouse was fully awake, it stared at May for a moment, as though having an experience of déj?* vu. When it did, the man bent his head down to his Pokemon, and grunted. “Kachu,” he muttered to the rodent, who nodded and kept quiet. “Pretty long,” he answered, as the Pokemon climbed back onto his back, and settled on his left shoulder. It blinked, then began to whisper to its dark trainer rapidly. “We’ve got to get going.” The man stiffened, then rose to his full height. Nodding to the barman, he turned to face the doorway out. “It’s been nice talking with you, May Birch. I’ll see you around.” With that, he waved, and shoved his hands into his pockets.
She raised her hand. “See you later, then,” she answered, as he left the bar, to stew in her own thoughts and guilt.