Chapter 10 is here... finally. For reasons of my unexpected (though probably expected anyway) absence, read the post before. If I miss any PM's, I apologize, since I lost my list after I reformatted my laptop. Good thing I backed up my chapter archives on a network drive before reformatting though.
Alright, finally. Again, sorry for the absence, but now I think I'm going to slowly work myself back into action. But anyway, I'm assuming most if not all of my usual readers are quite busy with school and whatnot, so I'm not really expecting much feedback anymore, but I still do enjoy writing. As I said to a certain someone here on the forums once, as long as one person reads and likes your fic, it's worth continuing. (Or did I say something else? I think it's along those lines.)
Chapter 10 - Questions
“Well, this has been an interesting night so far.”
The dark figure of Altaďr ambled through the brightly lit streets of Downtown Lightcrown. It was very early in the morning, earlier than anyone would wake up to go to work for, but there were still people on the streets that were enjoying the nightlife. The young trainer made sure to avoid any police officers in case they suspected that he was a minor out on the streets past the curfew that was set for his age group. Reaching his next destination, Altaďr straightened out his fleece jacket and put on a black beanie with the letters “PDI” on the front before walking into the bar that stood before him.
“Looks like I won’t be getting any sleep for a while.”
Dawn woke up early once again to get a head start on training, but this time Ash had set up his own alarm to make sure he woke up when she did. He didn’t want anything to happen to her today, especially since it was the day before the big contest. His alarm would be Pikachu, as Ash promised him a large quantity of ketchup if he did the job. Pikachu did, and so Ash woke up with a jolt that morning
“Gee, thanks Pikachu, but you didn’t have to shock me so hard.” Ash rubbed his head and could smell that his clothes were burnt. He walked up to the bathroom door and knocked it.
“I could use that bathroom sometime in the next century Dawn,” the trainer said with slightly annoyed tone.
“I’ll be right out!” called the Dawn’s voice from within.
“Yeah, that’s what you said ten minutes ago.” Ash gave up on waiting by the door and just sat on his bed instead. Brock was still snoring loudly on the top bunk as he had no intention on waking up as early as the other two. Pikachu had decided to catch up on what little sleep he had gotten that night after being recruited as Ash’s alarm clock. Ash sighed and lay on the bed, replaying Altaďr’s words from the day before in his head.
“I really do need to be more responsible for the people that I promise to mentor and keep safe. Dawn’s mother trusted me to make sure nothing bad happens to her… but I’ve failed and let her get hurt by a bunch of thugs.”
At the thought of Dawn’s mother entrusting him with taking care of her daughter, his thoughts wandered to another mother, and father, who also trusted him to take care of their daughter, who was not with him today.
Saying the coordinator’s name in his head sent a wave of feelings that Ash couldn’t comprehend. His stomach had a tingly feeling to it and his chest felt heavy. Emotions ran through his mind but he couldn’t understand what kind of feelings they were.
“What is this? Why do I feel this way whenever I think of May, or even just say her name?
The trainer then thought of the conversation between him and Brock the day before. Brock had mentioned that Dawn may have a crush on him, but Ash didn’t really believe the breeder’s words. However, this morning, Ash began to recall the events that have happened these past few days, and indeed Dawn had been acting a bit more strangely than usual. Sure she always seemed to be hovering around him quite often, even before they met Altaďr, but after the new trainer’s arrival, she had been even weirder than normal.
“Could she really…?” Ash pulled his hair and gave a moan as the complicated subject was too much for him. “But then… what’s holding me back, like Brock said?”
Ash then remembered the conversation he had two days ago with Brock, about May. He remembered having the same feeling as he did now when he began to mention her, but he did a pretty good job of covering his feelings until the very end, when he began to blush.
However, his thinking was interrupted as Dawn came out of the bathroom, dressed and ready for training. Ash stood up from the bed and made his way through the bathroom door, ready to take off the burning odor that was clinging to him
“A... A shower is what I need.”
Half an hour later, Ash, Dawn, and Pikachu were once again ready to hit the road to the training fields to the north of Lightcrown City. Dawn was pumped for another hard day of training as she needed as much as she could get to make up for lost time. Ash and Pikachu were just tired. As they were about to exit the Pokémon Center, the automatic doors in front of them slid open, letting the trainer known as Altaďr in.
“Oh, g’mornin’,” the tall trainer greeted.
“Morning, where have you been?” Ash asked with a hint of suspicion.
“Just out and about.” Altaďr walked into the Pokémon Center at that. It was then that Dawn finally noticed something different about him.
“Hey, Altaďr, nice hat! Where’d you get it from?” Dawn sent a friendly smile in the teenaged boy’s direction but he made no effort to turn around and receive it.
“Oh this? I’ve had it for a while now. Anyway, I’m tired, mind if I crash in your room?” Altaďr said while still walking away.
“Er, sure. It’s room 17.” Ash responded.
With that, Altaďr gave a lazy wave and turned the corner towards the dormitories.
“That was… kinda weird.” Dawn grumbled, as she was somewhat disappointed Altaďr didn’t bother to look at her.
Ash merely shrugged. “Yeah, wonder what’s got him so tired.”
This morning, Dawn decided that she would focus on contest battling, as her appeals were down pretty solid, so Ash agreed to help out with his own Pokémon.
“Alright, let’s not get too worked up, after all, your Pokémon will need their strength for tomorrow,” Ash shouted across the field.
“Right, let’s go!” Dawn grabbed a Pokéball and threw it into the center of the field. “Piplup! I choose you!”
The two Pokéballs opened with a flash of light as out of Dawn’s Pokéball appeared her blue penguin Pokémon, Piplup. Out of Ash’s Pokéball, a purple monkey Pokémon with a toothy grin and large round eyes materialized, ready for battle. The most noticeable trait on the monkey Pokémon was her tail; it had a three fingered hand-like appendage on the end, which was the source of many of the Pokémon’s attacks.
“Ai-Ai!” cried Aipom.
“Alright Aipom, let’s start this battle off with a Swift attack! And give it some flair!”
Aipom, who enjoyed contest battles very much and had been in several contests before, had no problem pulling off a stylish Swift attack from her tail that spiraled towards Dawn’s Piplup on the other end of the field.
“Piplup, counter with Bubblebeam, and follow up with Peck attack!”
Hearing the command, Piplup let loose a wave of sparkling bubbles from his beak that charged into the incoming stars. The two attacks collided and nullified one another, giving Piplup the time to charge in through the smoke for a Peck attack.
“Watch out Aipom, dodge it by using your tail!”
Aipom immediately comprehended the order and launched herself into the air by using her tail as a spring. Piplup halted his attack as he watched the Long Tail Pokémon soar into the sky.
“Now’s your chance, hit him with a Focus Punch!”
Aipom gave a cry of exertion while she balled her tail into a glowing, white fist, and made her descent to meet Piplup on the ground. Piplup seemed to freeze in place as the opposing Pokémon neared her.
“Don’t just stand there Piplup! Fire a Bubblebeam while Aipom is still in the air!”
“Pip…” The Penguin Pokémon puffed up his chest to ready the attack. “Luplupluplup!” Piplup then let out a stream of bubbles less sparkly but more powerful than the last as power was more important in this situation.
The bubbles made contact with Aipom’s tail, generating an explosion of energy between the two attacks.
The bright explosion blinded the trainer and the coordinator so they would have to wait for the dust to settle to see who the victor would be.
“Ahhhhhhhhh!” yawned a certain breeder as he sat up and stretched his limbs. Brock looked over at the analog clock that hung before the door and rubbed his eyes. He the blinked several times, if it even is possible to see him blink, and stared at the clock once again.
“Yahhh! It’s less than ten minutes from noon, and I need to cook for Ash and Dawn and their Pokémon!”
Not noticing the second human presence in the room, Brock leapt off the top bunk, slamming his head on the ceiling, and sprinted into the bathroom to freshen up. The other person in the room stirred and groggily sat up and looked around the room.
“Ugh… somebody’s noisy…”
Altaďr threw off his covers and grabbed his belongings, and strode out of the room. Right as he shut the door, Brock came running back into the bedroom began packing his belongings and supplies, too.
“Let’s see, rice, check. Hot water boiler, check…” and he continued going through a list of supplies.
The dust began clearing as two figures stood on opposite ends of the battlefield. Both held their breaths as they awaited the results of the colliding attacks. Finally, the dust dissipated and two small Pokémon stood their ground near the center of the field.
“Pip! Pip!” challenged the penguin Pokémon from where he stood.
“Aipom! Ai!” retorted the purple monkey Pokémon.
“Aipom, return!” said a voice from behind Aipom. A confused Aipom turned around and saw her trainer looking at her with a Pokéball ready in his hand. Aipom understood Ash’s order and quickly ran across the field to where he stood.
“Huh?” Dawn said with confusion. “Why are you recalling Aipom?”
“Well, we can train them too hard, or else Piplup won’t have any energy for the contest tomorrow.” Ash explained.
“Mm, I guess you’re right.” Dawn’s demeanor then brightened up. “Let’s get some two on two battles in, since those will be the kinds of battles in the contest tomorrow!”
A strange sound then echoed through the air, and the trainer, coordinator, and Pokémon looked at each other strangely. Then, after several seconds, they burst into laughter as they recognized what the sound was.
“Guess we need some food huh,” said Ash after the laughter subsided.
“Sure do!” giggled Dawn. “I wonder where Brock is… maybe we have to cook ourselves!” she added in mock horror.
“Pi-pika!” Pikachu joined in.
“Hey, who says I can’t be a competent cook,” joked Ash back.
“Actually, how about we go back to town for lunch,” a deep voice sounded.
Ash Pikachu and Dawn turned around and saw Altaďr, who looked as if he had been through a washing machine, as his hair was stick out in every which direction.
“But, what about Brock?” asked Dawn. “Won’t he be looking for us?”
Altaďr shrugged. “Call him; tell him to meet us wherever we end up.”
“Wait a second…” but before Ash could continue, his stomach growled again and he gave in. “Ok let’s go.”
After a quick look around Lightcrown, Ash, Dawn, Pikachu, and Altaďr soon found a small sushi shop and began ordering immediately.
“Uh… I’m not so good with sushi, so you guys can order for me if you please. Here’s 10.”
Altaďr handed Ash a bill and went to go sit at a four seat table. Dawn slightly pouted as he left while Ash merely turned his attention back to the menu board.
“Hm, wonder what I should get for him. No Pikachu, there’s no ketchup here. You’ll have to live without it for now.”
Pikachu looked down dejectedly as he cooed “Pika…”
When everything was ordered and the three humans and Pokémon had sat down, they began to dig in.
“Huh, I wonder where Brock is,” pondered Ash. “Didn’t you call him a while ago Dawn?”
“Yeah, it’s not like him to be this late…”
“Well, at least I’m not late anymore,” Brock chimed in as he approached the table.
“What kept you?” asked Altaďr in monotone.
“Uh… stuff…” Brock said sheepishly.
“An Officer Jenny?” teased Dawn.
Brock froze up at that but shook himself out of it in a second and sat down next to Altaďr.
“How did she know?” Altaďr could hear Brock mutter under his breath.
After a couple minutes of silence, Altaďr was the first to speak, which was not a common feat.
“Ash, I need to… converse with you after lunch… privately.”
Ash, Brock, Dawn, and Pikachu looked at Altaďr as if he had just told an obscene joke.
Altaďr ignored their stares and stood up. “I’m done; just meet me outside when you’re done. Pikachu can tag along too, if he pleases.” And with that, he ambled through the restaurant doors and onto the street.
“Hey, Altaďr, I’m finished too.”
Altaďr looked up from where he was looking at the ground and began to walk away from where he was leaning on a wall, signaling Ash to follow. Ash obeyed hesitantly.
For about half a block, Ash walked slightly behind Altaďr in silence, until Altaďr slowed his own pace and moved directly next to Ash. They walked silently for several more moments and Ash began to feel uncomfortable. As he was about to speak, Altaďr finally said his first words.
Ash stumbled slightly at his anti-climatic opener to whatever he wanted to say.
“Ugh, I’ll just do it. So uh, Ash, have you ever had any… interests in your life? Besides Pokémon?” Altaďr quickly added.
Ash whirled his head around and gazed at the taller boy with confusion. “Um… what do you mean?”
“Like… interests in other people?”
“What do you mean my interests?”
Altaďr rolled his eyes slightly. “Yeah he is as dense as he looks.”
“Girls.” Altaďr stated simply
Ash stumbled again as he heard this. After he recovered, he immediately began to babble incoherently.
“I… expected this too I guess… Ok, slow down there. Let’s start over. Have you ever had any female interests before?”
Ash stopped his babbling and formed one comprehensible question in his head.
“Why do you want to know?”
“Why are you being so defensive?”
“Hey, I asked you first!”
“Not really, I asked you if you’ve ever had any female interests before first, remember?”
Ash opened his mouth to retort but realized he would just be outsmarted again. However, he still didn’t trust Altaďr with information of this kind. Actually, Ash didn’t even know what he thought at the moment, so he gave grunt in response.
“Well, I’m not one to push, so if you don’t wanna say anything, meh.” Altaďr said calmly. He waited several seconds for a response before giving up.
“All right, let’s head back to the others,” Altaďr turned around and began walking in the opposite direction they had been walking in.
Ash stood where Altaďr had turned around and stared at the ground, mind working at full pace.
Well, whoever does end up reading this and feels the urge to say or correct something, please do so. I wrote the second half of this chapter in about an hour tonight, so it might be rough here or there. Might be missing italics, capitals, have funny wordings, whatever. It's a school night, and I gotta get sleeping now.
Enjoy, and sorry, once again, for my absence for anyone who was expecting a new chapter a long time ago.