Thank you all for your patience - the next chapter is here! First, though - review responses!
Thanks! It always means a lot to me when I hear people compliment my writing, especially coming from a Contestshipper, who I think would normally be turned off by how Drew has been portrayed in this fic. Thank you for your review!
Originally Posted by luvallpokemon
Your wait is almost over! Thanks for the review!
Originally Posted by nielsthomas1
Thanks! Those words mean a lot to me ^^ This story actually was on fanfiction.net, but it was plagiarized by someone claiming to have written it T_T; ff.net eventually removed it a few months after I sent my requests, but it was a pain.
Originally Posted by Đămon Howe
I had always planned on uploading it to fanfiction.net, but I just can't stand their document upload system - it always shows weird symbols in my stories and the spacing isn't right and I have to refactor all of my documents just to make it show up right. It's really annoying. For that reason I usually only upload fics to my account there once they're finished. I do have an account (Gazmof), but there are no Advanceshipping fics up on there - I've been meaning to compile all of my oneshots on there just in case Serebii ever goes down.
Thanks! The rich/poor contrast was something I was trying to capture with the whole Nico vs Drew dynamic, so I'm glad people have caught onto it. It helps define Nico as having a very bitter character, which then prompts him to do the crazy things he does. Thanks for the compliments!
Originally Posted by Đămon Howe
And without further ado... Chapter Twenty (is that it?)!
Confession Before Sunset
"So," Drew chuckled, casting aside the light jacket he wore and unbuttoning the collar of his lime-green dress shirt before leaning over the railing of his battle station. "A three-on-three battle, just you and me."
"Pika!" Pikachu squeaked, quickly leaping up the ladder in front of its trainer in preparation for the battle.
"Sounds good to me!" Ash exclaimed without a single ounce of hesitation, his hand reaching out to grab one of the rungs of the ladder when he felt a sudden tug on his shirt.
Ash paused, craning his head to look back at May, biting her lip as she smiled nervously at him.
"May?" He whispered. "Is something wrong?"
May shook her head, her eyes sparkling like gems in the low light of the underground arena. She felt her ears twitch slightly as she suddenly realized they were being watched.
"You guys go on ahead," she insisted to Brock and Dawn, who were standing just a few feet away from them. "I'll get a seat with you in just a moment."
Dawn stared at May with a puzzled expression in her eyes, but Brock simply smiled, taking the young coordinator by the hand and leading her away. Ash watched as they walked up several steps into the stands to find a seat with a good perspective on the stadium.
May's makeshift cough snapped the boy out of his brief daze. He glanced back down at May, who was looking straight up at the small yellow rodent that was watching them intently, an expression on her face telling the creature not to test her patience.
"Pi..." Pikachu squeaked nervously, then suddenly realized what was going on. The Pokemon glanced down at its trainer with a coy smile, then slowly began to climb up to the top of the ladder and out of sight. "Pika Pi..."
May watched cautiously as Pikachu began to disappear, then turned her attention to the boy in front of her, his grip now easing on the rung of the ladder and his eyes fixed firmly on hers. Her nervous expression had lifted slightly, but it was obvious that something was still bothering her, and if he listened hard enough he could hear the beating of her heart rapidly becoming more and more pronounced.
"May, what's the matter?" He asked softly, his hand instinctively moving to gently lean against her shoulder as his head moved closer to hers.
"I just wanted a moment alone with you before you battle..." She explained gently, casting her eyes away from Ash and fixing them firmly on the shadowy floor. "Because I..."
Ash watched May struggle with the words inside of her, her chest still pounding and causing the motion to echo ever so slightly through Ash's own body like a gentle pulse they shared together. The room was so dark, yet she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on.
"I mean," she continued, her voice becoming slightly ragged as if she were suddenly in peril and had to confess something immediately. "This could be the last moment we ever get to spend alone like this..."
"That won't happen, May." Ash insisted, his other hand now coming to rest on her left shoulder in a steady, reassuring motion. "I promised you, remember? I'll never let you go ever again."
"Ash..." She smiled at his determination, finally looking into his dark eyes once again.
Ash smiled warmly at the girl, causing her to smile back, as if she were a magnet that was unable to resist his pull on her. She did her best not to think of what might possibly go wrong, but when she was looking into his eyes those things seemed so far and distant that they were insignificant and meaningless.
"Ash, I want to tell you..." She spoke in a hushed tone, sincerity rampant in her voice. "I want to tell you that you need to win."
Ash opened his mouth to speak but she quickly silenced him by pushing her hands against his chest, her fists firmly wrinkling his black shirt as she pulled on it tightly.
"You need to win for me because I love you, Ash!" She whispered with extreme effort, as if she wanted to shout the words but simply couldn't find the strength. "I've loved you since the day I first met you, but I was too young and stupid to realize it!"
"May, I-" Ash began but was quickly cut off again by May, who was now sobbing, her face buried in his chest.
"I love you so much and I always pretended to ignore it because I thought we were just good friends," May continued between weeping. "But when I was alone in Johto I couldn't think of anything but you!"
Suddenly May's fears were gone, and she felt a weight lift from her heart as she looked up into Ash's eyes, tears smeared on her cheeks. She continued to grip his shirt tightly, afraid to let go of what was rightfully hers.
"I don't care how young or naive we are!" She exclaimed, unwavering in her conviction as she spoke. "I need you, Ash! I want us to walk through the park together and go to restaurants together and do the things that couples do, just the two of us! I want us to be together forever!"
"May..." Ash whispered softly, his arms now wrapped around her waist, although he wasn't entirely sure how they had gotten there.
"That's why you need to win, Ash Ketchum!" May demanded. "I need you to win for us."
Ash was silent as he stared at the girl with a look of shock. Had he not felt exactly the same way he was certain that he wouldn't have believed what she was saying, but the fact is that she had said everything he wanted to say to her but had been too afraid to do. There was no way he could let her down.
Slowly May moved closer to Ash, then felt a gentle bump against her forehead as the peak of his cap brushed against her skin. She smiled knowingly at the boy, quickly grabbing his hat and holding it firmly at her side before kissing him gently. For a brief moment time stopped, and an electricity flowed through the young couple's bodies, Ash pulling May closer as she idly ran her fingers through his jet-black hair.
Eventually, and with a great deal of hesitance the two broke their kiss, silence filling the air around them. The silence was by no means awkward, but was instead incredibly comforting, and both Ash and May were unable to do anything but smile at each other, as if they were somehow now telepathic and could sense the sincerity in each other's feelings.
May wiped away the tears on her cheeks and planted Ash's cap firmly on her head before winking playfully at him.
"Now go and win that battle for us, Ash Ketchum." She demanded with a smile. "Your girl will be right in those stands cheering you on."
Ash smiled at May as she gently slid out of his grip and headed towards the seats where Brock and Dawn were waiting for her. With a deep breath he clenched his fist, then looked up at the ceiling.
"Don't worry, May." He spoke softly under his breath. "I won't let anyone stand in our way."
Paul's Torterra let out a thunderous roar as it slammed its front feet into the ground, causing several enormous, thorn-covered vines to burst out of the tarmac beneath Nico's Blastoise. The Grass-type Pokemon's attack savagely slashed and ground against the Water-type, prompting the creature to hurriedly withdraw into its deep, red shell.
"I didn't expect you to be such an amateur, kid." Nico smirked. "Didn't kindergarten teach you that Frenzy Plant takes a lot out of your Pokemon?"
"We're not going to need any reserves in our tank to beat the likes of you!" Paul retorted confidently. "Torterra, keep it up!"
The vines of Frenzy Plant continued to twist and turn, eventually flinging Blastoise up into the air where it spun majestically, as it would befit a coordinator's star Pokemon.
"Now Aqua Jet into Ice Beam, Blastoise!" Nico commanded.
"What!?" Paul gasped, watching in a mixture of both awe and anger as two cannons appeared from within Blastoise's shell and blasted a surge of water towards the ground to propel the creature straight towards Torterra.
The giant tortoise Pokemon was undeniably strong, and Frenzy Plant had significantly hurt Blastoise, but the creature's shell was also not something to be taken lightly, and the Water-type's speed and elegance were surprising to say the least. Within a few seconds Blastoise was just inches away from Torterra and let a chilling blast of Ice Beam slam directly into the Grass-type's face, hitting with such force that it sent the monster skidding across the ground with a long, painful groan.
Paul flinched as he watched the creature fall unconscious. It was clear that Nico's Blastoise had taken severe damage during the battle, as it was panting heavily as it attempted to regain its balance, but this was not the outcome Paul had wanted. He cursed at himself under his breath - he should have known that Nico would have taught Blastoise an Ice-type move. It was clear that the coordinator was better than Paul had first given him credit for.
"Torterra, return." Paul commanded, recalling the Grass-type into its Pokeball.
"I was expecting you to be better than this, Paul." Nico mocked the trainer, his arms folded confidently. "I didn't think any trainer could be as pathetic as Ash."
"You're going to eat those words, coordinator." Paul responded before unclipping a Pokeball from his belt and hurling it in front of Blastoise.
The capsule split in half, spewing out a bright, white light that eventually receded into the form of Paul's Elekid. The tiny yellow Pokemon clenched its fists tightly, sparks flickering between its long, narrow ears.
"Ele!" It barked. "Elekid!"
"We'll just see, kid." Nico chuckled, his hands falling to his side as if he were swaggering on the spot. "Blastoise, Hydro Pump!"
"Elekid, Thunderpunch!" Paul retaliated.
The two Pokemon lunged towards each other, shimmering drops of water slowly forming in front of Blastoise's cannons as Elekid's fist became cloaked in a giant haze of electricity. This battle had only just begun.
Ash's mind flashed through the images of each of his remaining Pokemon following the battle with Nico. Sceptile and Glalie were out of commission, but this would be a three-on-three battle, and he knew that Pikachu still had plenty of energy left. That left him with a choice of four remaining Pokemon - the question was, which would he start the battle out with?
"Our match will be judged by the automatic regulation system my family had installed here." Drew explained from across the other end of the stadium. "It was designed with contest battles in mind, but also has standard battle rules programmed into it."
"That's fine with me." Ash replied, removing his first choice of Pokeball and enlarging the device in his palm. "I'm ready when you are."
"Good." Drew accepted, looking up towards the ceiling fixture which hung above the centre of the battlefield. It possessed four large, flat-screen panels, each appearing to be about fifty inches or so in length measured diagonally, all facing opposite sides of the arena and the respective seating areas so that the crowd could keep an eye on the progress of the match.
With a tap of the remote control that rested in his hands Drew activated the automated judging system, causing the screens to flicker to life and the outskirts of the stadium to become illuminated by many hundreds of small, circular lights which surrounded the field.
"Computer, begin judging!" The young coordinator called out to the machine. "Match rules: standard single battle, three-on-three, no restrictions."
Ash and Pikachu both stared up at the screens as they displayed several loading images whilst initializing the rules for this match. This kind of technology was typically withheld for large, world-famous events such as the Grand Festival, so it was shocking that Drew had his very own duplicate system in his own basement. He really did have everything he could ask for.
"You ready for this, Pikachu?" Ash asked the Electric-type that sat on his shoulder, which nodded in response.
"Just think of this as practice for our run at the Sinnoh League, buddy!" The trainer continued, running a hand through his hair as he began to feel himself sweating slightly under the intense heat of the spotlights suspended high above them. "Together we're unbeatable!"
"Pika Pi!" Pikachu agreed eagerly.
"System initialized." The electronic voice of the automated judging system caught the attention of the two competitors, causing them to glance up towards the screen which faced them, where several instructions flashed before their eyes. "Standard single battle, three-on-three, no restrictions. Please place your chosen Pokemon in the Pokeball slots provided for registration."
Ash glanced down at the six empty holes in front of him, each perfectly shaped for a Pokeball.
"Damn," he sighed, prompting Pikachu to glance up at its trainer with confusion. "That means we have to decide ahead of time which Pokemon to use. Let's see..."
"Pika..." Pikachu squeaked, clearly disappointed.
"Don't worry, pal!" Ash reassured the tiny creature. "You're definitely part of the battle!"
To prove it, Ash removed the small red Pokeball from his belt, the engraving of a small lightning bolt emblazoned on its top half. Pikachu had never willingly chosen to stay in its Pokeball, but nevertheless Ash had always had to carry it with him for the Pokemon's details to be registered on demand when attending large events like the Pokemon League, which used a similar registration system. Each Pokemon's Pokeball contained a unique data set that was registered immediately upon catching a Pokemon, and so a Pokemon could always be registered for a tournament so long as the trainer had access to its designated Pokeball.
Ash purposefully placed the ball in the third empty slot from the right, then turned his attention to the rest of his team. Across the stadium he could see Drew carefully selecting his own entries for the match.
Ash cast his mind back to the journey he had taken through Hoenn, doing his best to remember what Pokemon the coordinator had. It was of course highly likely that Drew had picked up new Pokemon during his time in the Johto region, but Ash still had a great deal of familiarity with Drew's battling style, and so he was confident he knew the general kind of Pokemon Drew liked to battle with.
He glanced down towards the stands where May, Brock and Dawn were all staring up at the screen intently. May continued to wear Ash's red hat, and he couldn't help but smile as he watched her. It looked good on her, but then again she looked good in anything.
'Alright...' Ash's words echoed through his mind, his eyes sharpening in on where Drew stood, his selection now complete. 'I know that Drew has Roselia, plus I remember him using an Absol, Flygon and Masquerain during our time in Kanto...'
His eyes traced the air from the Pokeball in his hand, up to the screen, and then back down to his hands.
'I can't afford to take this lightly...' He thought to himself, before placing two Pokeballs back onto his belt and then slowly inserting two more into the empty slots reserved in front of him. 'But I know you guys can do this!'
"Selection complete." The monotone, robotic voice echoed throughout the giant arena as soon as Ash's final choice had been registered. "Trainers, please prepare for battle."
Slowly the towers where each trainer stood began to lower towards the ground, stopping at about five feet above the field in order to provide a closer view of the action for each competitor. May watched intently as Ash's figure was slowly illuminated as he and Pikachu came within range of the overhead spotlights. Both Dawn and Brock noticed her nervously adjusting Ash's cap as it sat on her head, her eyes full of clear concern for the boy.
"Trainers," the automated judging system boomed throughout the stadium, "release your first Pokemon."
Simultaneously both Ash and Drew hurled their Pokeballs into the arena, casting an enormous burst of light which quickly faded away to reveal their chosen Pokemon. On Ash's corner was a small, light-grey Pokemon with a long trunk and a dark, rocky, armor-like spine which covered its back. Opposite it hovered Drew's Masquerain, a small, light-blue Bug Pokemon that possessed large, intimidating wings with a large pattern which seemed oddly reminiscent of the eyes of a Noctowl. Masquerain stared at its opponent intently, its wings rapidly beating at what seemed like a mile a minute.
"That's great!" Brock exclaimed from the stands, though his voice was too distant for either competitor to hear him. "Ash brought his Donphan, which knows Rollout! That'll be super-effective against a Flying Bug-type like Drew's Masquerain!"
"That's so cool!" Dawn commented, unable to let her excitement be hidden as she removed her Pokedex from her bag and checked the statistics of the Johto-born Pokemon. "It's really surprising seeing all of Ash's Pokemon from other regions!"
"But..." May muttered nervously, bringing her thumb to her lip as if she were about to bite her nail in an attempt to calm down. "Masquerain is one of Drew's most veteran Pokemon... He often leads with it because of its Intimidate ability..."
The expressions on Dawn and Brock's faces visibly slumped as they realized the girl's concern and had few words to offer in consolation.
"Don't worry, May." Brock said somewhat hesitantly in an effort to clear away the gloom which surrounded her. "This is Ash we're talking about, remember? Champion of the Kanto Battle Frontier? He's the guy who took on an entire pirate ship and came out King of the Sea, remember? He'll be fine."
May smiled warmly at Brock, though her concern was still evident.
"Thanks, Brock." She replied gently. "I believe in him. I just get nervous every time I watch him fight, that's all. I feel so..."
Dawn watched the girl closely as the words slowly left her lips.
"We feel the same way every time we watch him battle too, May." Brock reassured his friend. "Don't you worry, we know exactly what you're going through. He'll be fine."
Dawn turned her gaze back towards the main stadium once again before she suddenly remembered Piplup, whom she had placed inside its Pokeball during the battle between Ash and Nico.
"Oh, that's right!" She declared, quickly rummaging through her bag and withdrawing Piplup's Pokeball, releasing it onto her lap with a loud click. "Piplup, you'll be wanting to watch this battle too, right?"
"Piplup!" The tiny penguin chirped in agreement before making itself comfortable on Dawn's lap. "Piplup Pip! Piplup!"
May smiled at the little creature, extending a hand to ruffle the navy-blue feathers on its head and causing the Pokemon to blush slightly.
'Just hang in there, Ash.' Brock thought to himself as he watched Ash begin to make the first move. 'We're all counting on you. Especially May...'
"Donphan, Defense Curl, let's go!" Ash cried.
"Masquerain, Agility!" Drew countered.
The Pokemon quickly obeyed their respective commands, Donphan curling up into a tight ball whilst Drew's Masquerain began to flap its wings at even higher speeds. Soon the Bug-type was flittering about the stage almost faster than Ash's eyes could react. Perhaps his type advantage wouldn't be such an advantage after all.
"Rollout Donphan, you can do it!" Ash called, prompting the Ground-type Pokemon to let out a confident roar as it spun its entire body towards the enemy.
"How predictable." Drew mocked, flicking his lime-green hair back as both he and Roselia watched Masquerain's graceful moves with a refined level of arrogance that befitted them perfectly. "Masquerain, dodge that wrecking ball."
Quickly Masquerain floated up into the air, completely out of reach of Ash's Donphan, which continued to plow its way towards the elevated stand where Drew and Roselia were watching the battle unfold. Within a few seconds the creature had crashed into the pillar, bouncing up into the air at a high angle from the impact and heading straight towards Masquerain.
"What!?" Drew barked, his eyes widening. "No way! Masquerain, use-"
Although Masquerain's agility was unparalleled, Drew simply couldn't issue a command in time and was forced to watch the powerful impact of Donphan's Rollout crash into the frail Bug-type's unprotected body. Masquerain flinched, the weight of Donphan's body almost slamming it completely into the ground, but it was able to recover quickly, fluttering its wings and rising back up into the air.
"Keep going Donphan!" Ash cheered his Pokemon on. "Use the pillar again!"
"Pikachu Pi!" Pikachu happily squealed in unison with its trainer.
"I'm not going to fall for the same trick twice!" Drew bellowed. "Masquerain, Agility again! Get underneath it once it rises into the air!"
Masquerain did as the young coordinator commanded, beating its wings with all of its might before flying underneath the midair Ground-type and quickly turning to face it as it flew into the air.
"Now use Ice Beam! Freeze that oversized frisbee!"
"Masqueraaaaaiin!!" The creature squeaked, hurriedly forming a ball of pure, crystalline energy from the eyeballs of its wings before blasting it straight at the undefended Donphan, the powerful beam crackling and warping the air upon impact with the creature's body.
"Phaaan!" Donphan whimpered, quickly tumbling to the floor like a rock plummeting through the air. The Ice Beam had done enough damage, but pounding into the stadium floor did not by any means help the poor creature absorb it.
"Donphan, no!" Ash cried. "Donphan, hang in there! Get up, Donphan!"
The entire room watched Donphan with obvious concern. The creature slowly began to pick itself back up onto its feet, but it was certainly no easy task. Its body was heavily bruised by the impact, and it snorted in effort as it finally regained its balance. It had no time to brace itself, however, as Drew had already issued its next attack.
"Now Quick Attack into Silver Wind!" He commanded. "The sooner we finish this battle the sooner we can get rid of them!"
"Querain!" The Bug-type's voice was quickly torn to shreds by the air pressure from its constantly-vibrating wings as it flashed out of sight, quickly reappearing above Donphan in a torrent of sparkling, dust-like wind that tore into the creature like an unrelenting tornado of metal shards. Ash watched helplessly as Donphan let out a cry of pain, slowly moving its way back towards the outskirts of the arena.
"Hang in there, Donphan! Use Defense Curl one more time!"
"Too late!" Drew laughed. "Masquerain, Hydro Pump!"
Donphan slowly curled into a ball before being soaked by a torrent of water that was blasted from the wings of Drew's Masquerain. Once again the Ground-type hit the ground with such force that it rebounded up into the air. Seeing this new opportunity, Masquerain quickly flew towards its target, circling above it before dousing it with another blast of Hydro Pump once again. With a pained grunt Donphan careened into the floor in the center of the stadium before falling silent.
"Donphan, no!" Ash called out to his Pokemon.
"Pikachu!" Pikachu squeaked in concern for its fellow team member.
"Donphan is unable to battle." The automated judging system declared, its harsh, monotone voice echoing throughout the underground arena with a painful apathy towards Ash's concerned spectators. "Please select your next Pokemon."
Drew smiled knowingly towards Ash, watching him make his painful decision. Ash flinched slightly, concerned about the welfare of Donphan and also about his new chances in this battle. Drew had become a lot tougher than he had given him credit for, and now it would be a significant uphill battle to defeat him.
"Pika..." Pikachu spoke up, looking at Ash with an expression of great worry.
"Pikachu..." Ash replied back as he recalled Donphan into its Pokeball, a red beam of light slowly fading into the capsule he held. "Don't worry, Donphan, you did great."
Ash pocketed the Pokeball before glancing back up towards Drew, taking his next choice of Pokeball and holding it close to his chest.
'I have to win this...' He thought to himself. 'I can't afford to lose!'
"Now!" He declared, hurling his next choice of Pokeball into the arena where Masquerain was waiting confidently. "Come on out!"
And so that's the end of this chapter!