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Thread: Good Love Charm (Advanceshipping, PG-13)

  1. #176
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Earth, previously Gallifrey
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    Good chapter, Gaz!
    I've recognized this little piece of text from another literary work of art:
    "L-love!?" Ash coughed, his eyes widening in surprise at Brock's open usage of the word and a deep blush quickly clouded his face.
    JK

    Ash having doubts about if he's doing the right thing is good. it kinda "forces" the readers to create an empathic connection with the character.
    Again, Great job!
    What Happens..., an AmourShipping fic.
    Read it if you want, I won't force you.
    Also, read my Amourshipping drabble, about Amourshipping.

    "An inspiring book on overcoming life's obstacles."
    New York Times 4-8-2016

    Write it down on your calendars.


    We're experiencing technical diFICculties,
    Please stand by.


    While I'm gone, I'm gonna read the whole of AmourShipping thread. Wish me luck.

  2. #177
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    837

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    Chapter Sixteen:
    The Sleeping Princess

    "C'mon you piece of crap, hurry up and load already." Nico muttered underneath his breath as he watched a blue progress bar on the screen in front of him slowly increase in size little by little. Clearly bored, he leaned his hand against the wall of the Pokemon Center and drummed his fingers in as rhythmic a fashion as he could muster as he waited for the computer to finally gain access to his personal Pokemon storage system.

    Soon enough the boy's patience was rewarded and the screen flickered to life, showing vibrant, three-dimensional images of all of his Pokemon that had been stowed away ever since Nico had become an officially licensed Pokemon trainer.

    "Finally." Nico chuckled, a smile crossing his lips as he moved the cursor up and down with his finger to check each creature's statistics. "It's good to see that the league isn't completely up to date; I still have access to these guys."

    Nico began to scroll through his boxes, swiping his finger along the display as he debated which Pokemon to withdraw from the system. Time was of the essence, since he had no idea when the Pokemon League would blacklist his account and refuse him access to his Pokemon once the Floaroma Police Station filed the reports about his aid to Team Rocket, but he didn't want to rush things, and wanted to ensure that he had the perfect combination of Pokemon to help him through this coming ordeal. After all, this could be the last time he would have access to them for a very long time.

    The Pokemon Center was surprisingly empty considering how busy the streets of LaRousse City were. There were several people using the complimentary PC systems as well as those who had simply brought their laptops to the center to utilize the free wi-fi that was available to all who visited, but there wasn't a large line to the service desk and Nico could see Nurse Joy and her Chansey assistant idly tending to their station behind the desk; always a surefire indication that the Pokemon Center was far from busy.

    "Ah, yes..." Nico mused, his eyes brightening as he brought up one Pokemon's details in a small window at the side of the screen. "You'd be perfect, too."

    Soon enough Nico had selected five of his Pokemon to withdraw from the PC system, placing all five of the Pokeballs on his belt onto the built-in transportation system beside the computer's monitor and flipping the appropriate switches to begin the transfer process. He gritted his teeth a little as he recalled how he had to abandon his Shiftry back at the carnival in Floaroma Town, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

    Pokemon League regulations meant that since he currently had six Pokemon withdrawn from the system, even though one of them wasn't physically with him right now, he could only switch what Pokemon he had on him at this very moment. In other words, he could only withdraw five new Pokemon as opposed to the standard six. Some day he would be able to return to Floaroma Town for his Shiftry, but for now that simply wasn't an option; a team of five would have to do.

    Within a few moments the five Pokeballs that had been placed on the machine began to glow a bright white and quickly vanished with a surprisingly subdued noise, as if they were carried away by the wind in the blink of an eye. Barely a second had passed before five Pokeballs reappeared in their place, and it was only thanks to the fact that Nico had caught two of the creatures in different kinds of Pokeballs that he could tell that this was in fact the new batch he had requested to be transferred from his storage system.

    Nico quickly clipped the five new Pokeballs onto his belt, smiling to himself as he thought of the assembled power of his new team. No matter how much of a great coordinator Drew thought he was, there was no way his meagre Pokemon could stand up to Nico's powerful and well-trained band of fighting machines.

    "I always get what I want, Drew." the boy whispered to himself as he began to log out of his Pokemon League account. "Always..."

    Nico took another quick glance at the computer station to ensure that he hadn't left anything of value behind, and was about to turn and head out of the door when he suddenly saw the glass panels which led out onto the streets of LaRousse City slide apart, allowing a group of five young trainers to enter the building - Ash, Brock, Dawn, Paul and Alisa.

    Immediately the boy's heart jumped and he leapt over into one of the small dining booths beside the window - which fortunately happened to be vacant at the time - and quickly ensured he had his back to the group.

    'How the hell did they manage to get here so quickly?' he thought to himself, feeling his heart pounding in his chest as he heard Ash begin to introduce himself to the Nurse Joy behind the counter. 'And why is Alisa with them? If they don't hurry up and get out of my way this is going to really screw up my plans!'

    "Say Nurse Joy," Nico could overhear Ash explain to the woman with the soft, pink hair, "do you have any idea where Drew Blackthorne lives?"

    "Why of course!" the nurse replied in her usually happy self. It made Nico feel nauseous to even listen to. "Are you members of his fan club?"

    "Oh, uh, yeah," Ash managed to lie, though it certainly wasn't a very easy task for him to achieve, "yeah we are. Really big fans!"

    "Oh, you simply have to take the tour at the local museum!" Nurse Joy continued, sounding completely awestruck as she spoke. "They even have stock footage of his first Grand Festival match on display! Oh, you'd absolutely love it!"

    "Uh, yeah, we're going there tomorrow!" Brock interrupted the woman, causing the rest of the members of the group to stare at him awkwardly. "But we won a free tour of his mansion, you see, and we lost the directions. Since we're new to this town we were hoping that perhaps you could tell us where to go, miss?"

    Nurse Joy beamed at the boy, who blushed immediately in response, but did his best not to flirt, as he knew that Croagunk's wrath would make him regret the whole ordeal if he did.

    "I'll do even better than that!" the woman proclaimed. "I'll go get you a map!"

    With that settled, Nurse Joy headed off into the back room while the five young trainers waited beside the counter, admiring the Pokemon Center as they did so.

    Though the designs of Pokemon Centers had become somewhat standardised over the years, LaRousse City's was somewhat different on the inside - first of all, the computers on display were far more advanced and modern than the ones found in the vast majority of Pokemon Centers on the Sinnoh mainland, and the whole "feel" of the building was much more sleek and modern than Ash was used to. Of course it brought back plenty of memories of his adventures here a few years ago, but it was something that was hard to adjust to, even if this was a second visit. Even though he was worried about May, Ash couldn't help but admire the place and feel excited seeing all the different trainers with their Pokemon by their sides.

    Once this ordeal was all over he couldn't wait to get back to the Sinnoh League and finally compete in some good, old-fashioned Pokemon battles again. He could imagine it right now - battling in the spotlight amongst the cheers of thousands of adoring fans, and looking over to his corner he would see May smiling her usual, confident smile. That same smile that he had fallen in love with the day they first met. The smile that said to him "you can do it, Ash". It was a beautiful smile that only she had.

    'Come on, you idiots!' Nico thought to himself from his solitary booth. 'Hurry up and leave already!'

    ~*~*~

    May was thrilled. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the air tasted crisp and refreshing. Anything felt possible on a day like today.

    Yes, that's right; it was finally the day she would confess - get it all out into the open. It had been years since she and Ash had first met, and for years she had felt something and ignored it, chalking it up to just simple friendship or confused feelings, but not anymore. Now was the time to do what she should have done all those years ago. Ash wasn't going to make the first move - that was painfully obvious from the start, but yet she kept hoping, in her wistful, childish ways, that one day he would finally get the hint and ask her out to dinner sometime. But of course, that never happened.

    And so it was up to May now; the girl he had travelled throughout Hoenn with, casting barely a glance at her each day. It was her time to shine, and she would swallow her feminine pride and tell him how she had been feeling all these years. It was either that, or wait around even longer in the futile hope that one day he would finally wake up and notice all the hints she had been giving him. And that was simply not an option for May.

    As she considered these feelings May eventually found herself on top of a hill, with a large, sweeping view of the valley laid out before her. Her eyes lit up as she spotted one house in particular in the small town of Pallet, nestled innocently amongst a quaint street that fit perfectly with the humble appearance of the rest of the town. That was it - the Ketchum household.

    Without a moment to spare May excitedly broke into a dash down the hill, unable to contain her excitement as her mind became filled with emotions and thoughts of bliss. May Ketchum - she had always liked the sound of that name.

    As she ran towards the house, May's thoughts raced around in her head and showed no sign of stopping. She wondered what her family would say, and laughed as she imagined Brock's reaction. Delia would be pleased, too, of course; the two of them had always gotten along. If Pikachu could talk, it would surely tell them that it was about time. She couldn't wait to tell all of her friends after they finally took that first date.

    Speaking of the date, where exactly would Ash take her? She hadn't thought of that yet, but she honestly didn't care where they went, as long as he was with her. That was all that mattered, after all. It had been so long since they had last seen each other, that she was determined not to waste a single second of their time together.

    At last she was at the porch, feeling as if she had just run a marathon, yet she wasn't tired at all. Swallowing nervously, she remembered her resolve and firmly pushed her finger on the doorbell. Now it was time to wait.

    Slowly the front door opened and sure enough, standing in the entrance, was Ash, smiling that same, confident smile he always had. He was wearing that same, black t-shirt he used to wear under his jacket during their adventures together, and his hair was quite ruffled, with no sign of his trademark cap anywhere to be seen. By the looks of it, he had just crawled out of bed, but May paid no notice to such minor details. All that mattered was that he was here, and now he had nowhere to run.

    "Ash!" May greeted the boy exuberantly, as if they hadn't seen each other in years, though she restrained herself enough to stop herself from happily leaping into his arms.

    "Oh, hey May!" Ash replied, seemingly unfazed by his friend's enthusiasm. "What are you doing all the way out here in Pallet Town?"

    "I came to see you, of course!" May answered right back, unable to stop herself from beaming like a maniac. "And, I came to-"

    "Ash, dear?" the voice of a woman called from inside the house. "Who is it?"

    "Oh, is your mom home?" May asked, instinctively getting up onto her tiptoes and trying to peer over Ash's shoulder to get a better look at the interior.

    "Oh, no, it's just the two of us." Ash assured his friend. "Hey Misty, guess who's here!"

    May felt a sudden bolt of lightning strike her heart. Misty? What was she doing here? In Ash's house? With him? ALONE?

    "Oh, hi May!" Misty exclaimed, wandering over and standing beside Ash. May's eyes widened as she examined the girl with the bright, orange hair and cerulean blue eyes, their deep shade reminiscent of beautiful oceans. Her hair was flowing down past her shoulders and was still wet from having been washed. Around her body was wrapped a large, white towel, and it was clear that she had just gotten out of the shower. "Long time no see."

    "Uh..." May stammered, not entirely sure what to say. "Misty, what are you... Doing here?"

    "Huh?" Ash tilted his head as he looked at May with uncertainty, then suddenly smacked his head with the palm of his hand in a playful manner. "Oh, of course! That's right! You were on the contest circuit so we never told you!"

    "Told me... What?" May asked, her voice beginning to waver as the happy thoughts that had filled her mind just a few brief moments before their encounter began to suddenly shatter one by one.

    "We're married." Misty said bluntly. "It just happened last week; we're sorry we never got around to inviting you to the wedding."

    As she said this, Misty reached out and pulled on Ash's arm, bringing him closer to her and laying her head on his shoulder, which he was more than happy to provide.

    May could do nothing but stand there and gawk. She could feel the tears welling up inside of her but she refused to let them see her cry.

    "We're sorry, May." Ash explained. "But we figured you were so busy with your contests and everything that we didn't want to bother you."

    "I..." May whimpered as she stood there, completely frozen. She stared into Ash's eyes. The eyes of the man she thought would be her husband one day. The eyes of a married man. "I... I..."

    Suddenly Misty turned, the blunt tone of a ringing telephone calling her attention from inside the house.

    "Oh, that'll be your mother, honey." she guessed, tugging on Ash's shoulder in an effort to lead him away from the door. Away from May.

    "Oh, right!" Ash grinned, slowly closing the door on May, who continued to stand motionless on the porch. "Thanks for dropping by, May! See you later!"

    The door closed, and May finally slumped onto her knees before bursting into tears. She sobbed for what seemed like hours, tears streaming down her face in a never-ending waterfall. She cried until she couldn't hear herself anymore, and slowly her vision blurred into darkness, a cold sensation overwhelming her body as she tried to forget the pain.

    ~*~*~

    May awoke with a gasp, jolting her body upright as she finally came to. Immediately she raised her hand and felt the heat from her forehead pulsing into her skin. Her head was throbbing and it felt as if she had been asleep for days. Maybe she had been.

    "Ah, you're finally awake." an unfamiliar voice greeted the young Pokemon coordinator just as she was beginning to get her bearings.

    May swiftly looked up to see the form of a middle-aged woman smiling warmly at her from across the room. She had a soft face and a full mess of brown, curly hair which dropped down to her neck. She was quite short; only a few inches taller than five feet, May wagered, and she was dressed in a traditional maid's outfit, with a white apron adding some much-needed contrast to the black which covered the rest of her uniform.

    "Who are you?" May asked uncertainly, though she wasn't afraid. If anything she was too groggy to feel fearful right now, and besides, this woman certainly didn't strike her as the evil type. "And... Where am I?"

    May glanced around the room as she spoke, doing her best to take in the sights and try to see if she recognised the place. The walls and ceiling were a dark, mahogany texture, and the entire room was filled with matching pieces of furniture: dressers, closets, desks and chairs - even the frame of the large, queen-sized bed on which she lay was identical in style. The carpet beneath them was thick and had a dark-yellow colour, looking like it came right out of a Victorian-era drama. On it were drawn numerous circular patterns in red and gold, and high above the centre of the room hung a large, extravagant-looking chandelier.

    Though May couldn't compliment the design of the place it was very clear that the person who maintained it had an exquisite eye for detail - there wasn't a single speck of dust in sight, and on the mantelpiece above the fireplace directly across the room from May were several expensive-looking glass ornaments, as well as a gold clock which looked very old and very valuable. Everything was neatly aligned and clearly well taken care of.

    "Don't worry, dear." the woman did her best to keep the girl calm with her soothing voice. "My name's Lucinda, and Master Drew instructed me to take good care of you while you were sleeping."

    Immediately at the mention of Drew's name May's eyes widened and she remembered what had happened before she was knocked out by Roselia's Stun Spore. So she was in Drew's home, or at least, one of his holiday villas. But what had happened to Ash and the others? What about Team Rocket?

    "You must be hungry." Lucinda continued, kindness radiating from her voice. "Miss May, isn't it? Would you like me to make you some tea?"

    "Um..." May stammered, not entirely sure what to say to the woman. She was still so confused. She was worried about her friends and where exactly she was. She knew from the brief period of time that she had dated him in Johto that Drew had a lot more money than she had ever imagined when they first met, and he would often fly to one of his numerous homes on the weekends in-between contests; it was almost impossible to narrow her location down from such limited information.

    "Oh, you are just simply adorable." Lucinda commented, wandering closer to the girl and placing a glass of water onto the bedside cabinet next to where she sat. "I can see why the young master has taken such a liking to you."

    She paused for a moment before adding something.

    "And may I also say that you look simply amazing in that dress. It suits you perfectly!"

    "Huh?"

    May looked down and gasped as she realised that her standard red outfit was nowhere in sight, and instead she was covered from head to toe in the most stunning dress she had ever seen. It was a light, pastel shade of pink, one that would be appropriate for a wedding dress, and was just as exotic in shape. The light material flowed across her body like a veil, clinging to her upper body and transforming into a large, billowing skirt at her hips which cascaded down to her ankles. Her shoes had been replaced with tall, white heels and around her neck and wrists lay dazzling gold jewelry which must have been worth thousands more than any prize money she had ever won in her life.

    Raising her hand to touch her hair, May could also feel a large, golden clip with an enormous ruby etched into it which held her long, brown hair up in place. It was as if she had been dressed ready to go to the most expensive ball in the world.

    "Wh-where are my clothes!?" May gasped, her eyes darting wildly around the room as she scrambled off the bed and did her best not to trip over her heels once her feet finally found the floor.

    "Now calm down, dear, please." Lucinda suggested, a worried look now spreading across her face. "Your clothes were dirty so Master Drew told me to get you into something more appropriate, that's all."

    "Appropriate for what!?" May snapped. "What's going on here!? Where am I and where's Drew?"

    "Why, have you forgotten?" Lucinda questioned as she looked the young coordinator up and down, clearly puzzled by her confusion. "You're in LaRousse City, Miss May. Master Drew said you two had been planning a trip here together while you wait for the next contest in Johto to come around."

    "What!?" May yelled, her voice rising in intensity from both anger and confusion. Her head was still aching and she wasn't quite able to piece together what had happened. Had she knocked her head when she fell unconscious from the Stun Spore or something? "That's impossible! Drew and I are finished!"

    "What?" Lucinda raised an eyebrow at this statement. "But that doesn't make any sense. He said it was all your idea to come and visit, too. I mean, he doesn't normally like to come home, so it certainly couldn't have been his idea. I know how he doesn't tend to get along well with his mother, and his father is always working abroad, so he hardly ever gets to see him..."

    May felt the confusion inside of her building and building with every word the woman said, and her headache wasn't helping matters either. She paused for a moment, standing on the spot as she tried her best to straighten out what had happened in her mind. So she was in LaRousse City; that meant she was technically back in Hoenn. Drew had travelled a huge distance to bring her here, and she had to get back to Sinnoh somehow. She had to get back to Ash and the rest of her friends. But where was she supposed to begin?

    "Miss May, you should have a drink of water, my dear." Lucinda insisted, picking up the glass she had laid on the cabinet and making her way towards the disoriented girl on the other side of the room.

    Suddenly May looked away from her feet and up towards the oncoming woman.

    "No!" she yelled as forcefully as she could, then broke into a dash for the nearby door, stumbling slightly as she attempted to balance in her heels and run at the same time.

    Before Lucinda could argue May had already bolted through the door and proceeded to dash down the huge, impressive hallway that awaited her outside. From here she could see that she was on the second floor, and to her left was a long, wooden railing which trailed the entire length of the corridor. On her right was a large wall, its monotony broken only by the occasional door and oil painting. At times she would pass large, oak cabinets with sliding glass panels protecting a large array of trophies and ribbons, all presumably Drew's different accomplishments from early on in his coordinating career. May knew that she had no time to admire the scenery, though, however grand it might be. All she knew was that she had to get down onto the ground level somehow, but there was no sign of any staircases nearby, and already the corridor had come to a dead end.

    May stopped in her tracks, her eyes darting around wildly as she considered her options. She had no time to waste, and no time to think rationally, either. Immediately she flung open the closest door she could find and charged inside. Doors led to rooms, and rooms led to more doors. Soon she had completely lost all sense of direction and her strategy devolved into simply opening the first door she came across in hopes of finding a staircase.

    'This is crazy!' May thought to herself as she made her way into another long corridor, this time with windows to her left granting her a view of a long row of evergreen trees, and yet more doors on her right. 'How can Drew live in a place this big? You'd need a map to even go to the bathroom!'

    Finally, her heart still pounding, May reached for another door, hoping and praying that this would lead to the exit. She twisted the golden handle, pushing the exquisitely-crafted door away from her and stepped through the entrance it had now revealed. She walked inside, her legs now growing tired from running, and closed the door behind her, panting slightly from her nonstop sprinting. It was only now that she realised that her ankles had begun to hurt from the combination of sudden running and uncomfortable shoes.

    "I am never wearing heels again." she vowed to herself.

    It was only now that May realised the room she was standing in was incredibly dark. There were no windows in sight and so she began to fumble around the wall in search of a light switch. Soon enough her fingers reached an outcropping and she flipped the device upwards, suddenly filling the room with the orange haze of incandescent lights from the chandelier above her.

    It was a rather small room in contrast to everywhere else she had visited in this mansion, but it was by no means any less grand. It, too, shared the same visual style and decoration that was prevalent throughout Drew's family home, but there was something very different about it, too. There were no traditional, antique-looking ornaments in sight, and a single, twin bed was relegated to the corner nearest the door. The carpet was the same as the one in the room where May had first awoken, and several desks and shelves lined its various walls, each one covered in dozens and dozens of picture frames.

    May found herself slowly regaining her composure as she examined the room, and suddenly felt a tickling sensation in her nose. It was no surprise; the entire room was covered in a thick layer of dust, and it seemed as if no-one had entered it in years. Perhaps it was off-limits to the cleaning crew of the house for some reason, but why would that be? May's curiosity quickly got the better of her, and she made her way over to the desk beside the lonely bed.

    Holding her breath so that she wouldn't inhale too much dust, she picked up the largest of seven picture frames which crowded the small cabinet. There was hardly enough room for the humble piece of furniture to hold all seven frames, let alone give anyone a good view of what they displayed. Using her finger to wipe away a thick layer of dust which obscured the photograph in her hands, May examined the picture closely, then suddenly let out a gasp.

    The frame dropped from her hands and onto the floor, causing a large, crashing sound to escape from beneath May's feet, but to her it sounded like a distant thud of no significance. She stepped backwards away from the frame whose glass had now been shattered, her hands covering her mouth in shock as she looked around the room at the hundreds of eyes all staring down at her.

    The dust was thick but there was no mistaking that every picture contained the image of the same young woman; a woman May knew very well. She had long, pink hair which flowed down to the small of her back and bright, blue eyes that sparkled with an inner fire that every one of these photographs had managed to capture. There were pictures of her in casual clothes and there were pictures of her dressed in numerous coordinating outfits. Large photographs, some as tall as four feet, hung from the walls of the room, while the vast majority of the pictures were in small, desktop frames which crowded every piece of furniture in sight. None were knocked over; all were pointed directly towards the bed in the corner of the room; all showing the same confident girl smiling happily.

    "Th-these..." May gasped as she turned and examined every corner of the room. "These are all pictures of..."

    She swallowed nervously as the pressure of the photographs bore down on her more than the expectations of thousands of fans ever could.

    "Solidad..."

    ~*~*~

    *gasp*! Yes, even I'm surprised this chapter was so quick in being written. It was actually a pretty difficult chapter to write, and I know it's shorter than you're probably used to, but this seemed like the logical point to end the chapter, as the next "arc" will be quite long.

    I'm pleased with how May's dream sequence turned out; I feel like it gives a nice contrast to May's fears versus Ash's fears in his own dream a few chapters earlier.

    I realised that I never responded to the reviews while I was gone, and I'm sorry about that - to be honest I read them so long ago and I completely forgot to respond, so let me answer some right now:

    advance4ev:
    Hey there..I've been reading your fic for a while, just didn't have an account at the time and I just want to say..like Manaphy.. they're AMAZING!!!! The plot, the shippyness, you make it seem so real, like the actual series(only with a higher rating)and should definitely become like a movie or something.*Gets Pokemon creator and (attempts to) force them to make this a movie* Congratulations, you just received a new fan to this o^v^o!! Ok, I'm speechless, in a good way.
    Hey, thanks! It's always really great to hear from a new reader ^^ I'm really pleased you think it's like the actual series, but with a higher rating, because that's exactly what I was going for when writing this, so that's a huge accomplishment. I spent a lot of time when I first started writing this fic watching Movie 9 over and over again because (not only was it a lot of fun to watch, but) it really captured better than any episode, I think, my feelings on Advanceshipping and how cute they are together. I'm aware that these past few chapters haven't had much shippiness in them, but that will be changing very soon, trust me. I just had to set the scene for bigger things, if you will.

    Please keep reading and let me know how you think I'm doing! ^^

    Manaphy:
    Hello I just spent the past 3 hours reading this entire fanfic and I must say its amazing! You put everything into great detail with also having a great plot! I reallyy hope you continue this! ^^
    Wow, three hours? ^^; You are a fast reader. But thank you! If I managed to keep you reading for that long then I must have written a really great story. I'll be sure to add you to the PM list!

    Typholision 1200:
    I've read all the chapters by now and I really love it. It's well-written, but even for me as a German good to understand. What I liked most was how you found a compromise between the "shippyness" and the dramatic scenes. But reading the story I got more and more aggressive. It's because everytime Ash gets closer to May some bad things happen ^^
    Thanks so much for your comments! Yes, I love writing cliff-hangers, so sorry about that ^^; But it makes a story much more exciting, I think, and also feels like I'm writing actual "episodes" if I do it that way. I'm so pleased that you find my language easy to understand, even if English isn't you're first! I'd write it in German, too, if I could, but I'd probably make a mess of it, so please keep reading it in English! ^^;;

    XxMays_flowerxX:
    wow. I'm just speechless! everything you write flows like a steam! the plot is very genius, and the dicribtion ( sorry can't spell TT__TT) is simply phenomenal! You are my insperation honestly. Before I made an account I would come here everyday to see an other wonderful chapter to be veiwed. I'm so addicted to the drama, and supension has me at the edge of my seat! The character's are all well played. I must say this is a work of art, of an upcoming worldwide novelist.

    I must say keep up the good work, and smile. Cause you are loved and inspired by all.
    Thank you so much! I must admit, I remember first reading your review way back in September one day and I was feeling quite down, but your last words really helped to cheer me up. I'm so pleased that this story is touching people's lives and adding some excitement, so even though there are times when it seems like I'll never finish a chapter I always remember your comment. I will make sure I finish this fic, because I know it means a lot to you all, and it means a lot to me, as well, being my first Advanceshipping fic. Please consider it my gift to the Advanceshipping community! ^^

    Chaos_Umbreon:
    This has got to be one of my all time favourite Advanceshipping fics, mainly due to the fact that this fic made me become an Advanceshipper. The way you describe each scene is spectacular and gives a perfect balance of setting, dialogue and emotion. The development of the shipping scenes is in no way forced and flows naturally, and the battle scenes are so well described that you can visualise it like the anime.
    Thank you very much for really focusing on the aspects you like the most; I'm pleased I'm addressing everything in the right way. Truth be told before I started writing this fic I thought I was terrible at shippy scenes, but this story has made me feel a lot more confident in writing them now. Action scenes are always my favourite ones to write, and sometimes I make them a little too long 'cause I get too into them ^^; I think I've struck a good balance in this fic, and even though these last few chapters have been a bit "low" on both shipping and action counts, I think the next few will begin to make up for that. You need a breather every now and then, right?

    I'm also pleased with my LaRousse City description (I watched the movie again a couple of times to really try and get the style of it in my head, especially since it's such a weird city - glad it paid off and someone noticed!).

    Eon Master:
    Ahh... such a refreshing chapter with the gang in such dire straights. Ash's doubt and hesitation was very nice to see, you've really done a great job developing his personality in areas that have never been explored before in the Anime. Loved the interaction between Dawn and Paul as well, and you hit Paul's apathetic personality right on the head. A Paul clobbering scene might have lightened the mood, so I'm glad that you held off.
    To be honest the main reason I didn't write a Paul clobbering scene was because I was too lazy ^^; Also, it would have felt a little too slapstick, especially given Ash's mood at the time, but I did want to poke at Ikarishipping a little bit (sometimes I feel like I'm writing a Multishipping fic, lol). Thanks for reading even when this fic was in the "hybernation" mode!

    crisiscore:
    Ash confiding in Brock with his worries and the cute interactions between Ash and Dawn, Paul and Dawn, as well as many more. It was also interesting to see the relationship between Drew and his mom. The way he defends May makes you wonder if he really does like her.
    Wow, seems that everyone liked that Ash/Brock scene. To be honest, I added it at the last second because the chapter felt "empty" without a little bit of reflection on Ash's part. I'm pleased that it turned out so well!

    I know there are lots of other reviews that I'm not personally quoting, but I want to assure you that I do read them all and I love getting them, so please keep them coming and let me know what you like/dislike about the story! Believe it or not, I do take some of your suggestions into consideration when developing the story! Thanks for reading, and I'll be sure to respond to reviews more frequently! Enjoy!
    Good Love Charm
    *COMPLETE*

  3. #178
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    First Review! XD

    Another great chapter, and I was right about Ash and Nico being in the same Pokemon Center, will they team up or fight it out? Should find out in the next chapter. May's dream, what all Advanceshippers fear most Pokeshipping, poor May having her happy mood destroyed because Ash is with Misty.

    Finaly May has woken up trapped in Drew's 'castle' awaiting rescue, although I don't think she's completely stranded as the maids don't know the reason behind her being there, and she could get help. An abandoned room with loads of pictures of Solidat, was she Drew's first play thing, and Drew has a museum dedicated to him thats got to be a lot of fame.

    Look forward to the next instalment.

    See Ya!

    Chaos Out!
    Last edited by Chaos_Umbreon; 15th February 2010 at 7:32 PM.
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  4. #179
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chaos_Umbreon View Post
    Another great chapter, and I was right about Ash and Nico being in the same Pokemon Center, will they team up or fight it out? Should find out in the next chapter. May's dream, what all Advanceshippers fear most Pokeshipping, poor May having her happy mood destroyed because Ash is with Misty.
    Yes, the dream was actually a lot of fun to write in a bad way ^^; I felt really bad for May whilst writing it, but at the same time May's such a great character to write because she's so in touch with her feelings that you can really portray so much with her. She'll be taking a much bigger role in the fic than "damsel in distress" from now on, so I'm looking forward to writing more scenes from her perspective in the future.

    Well, if any Pokeshippers have been reading my fic, there's your moment for you ^^;

    Truth be told I would have loved to add Misty as a main character to this fic (I think she adds a lot of drama when it comes to Advanceshipping because I personally believe she still has a thing for Ash and so I write her accordingly), but there's only so many characters you can add before a fic starts spiraling out of control. But hey, maybe in the sequel?

    Thanks for your review!
    Good Love Charm
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  5. #180
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    Chapter Seventeen:
    Drew's Pain

    May continued to quiver as she stood surrounded in a sea of photographs that stared unrelentingly at the confused coordinator. She backed away from the bed until eventually she felt her back nudge against the wall behind her and she stopped for a moment, her hands resting on the flat, vertical surface as she tried her best to regain her composure.

    "This doesn't make any sense!" She whispered to herself uneasily. "Why are there so many photographs of Solidad in this room?"

    Suddenly the girl felt her heart leap into her throat as she heard the sound of the door from which she first entered slowly begin to creak open. She quickly began to back away from the door but there was nowhere to run, as that door was the only entrance to the room she was now trapped in.

    After what felt like a long, extended pause the door finally swung open and revealed the form of Lucinda, the same maid whom May had awoken to earlier, standing in the doorway.

    "Miss May!" She exclaimed, worry clouding her tone of her voice instead of the anger that May had been expecting. "Please calm down!"

    May felt her body relax slightly as she began to trust the sincerity ringing in the woman's voice. She stepped out from the far corner of the room, her eyes doing their best to ignore the hundreds of picture frames surrounding the girl from every conceivable angle.

    "Oh, dear..." Lucinda mused, glancing around at the room which she seemed to be completely unfamiliar with. "We shouldn't be in here, Miss May. Come on, let me get you something to drink in the dining room."

    "What is this place?" May ignored the maid's statement, though it wasn't intended in a rude way. She was morbidly fascinated with the story of this room, and she knew that if she didn't learn its secrets then it would haunt her for months to come every time she thought about Drew.

    "This is Master Drew's bedroom, Miss May." Lucinda explained, her eyes darting around from corner to corner as if she was afraid that somebody would overhear them. "We maids aren't allowed to ever come in here."

    "What?" May stammered, confused. "But why not?"

    Lucinda shook her head a little before answering.

    "Master Drew's orders, Miss May." She sighed. "He hasn't been home for years now, so it's become quite dirty, I'm afraid. But Master Drew was always very insistent that nobody was allowed in but him."

    "So... What are all these photographs about?" May questioned, her eyes glancing back down to the floor where she had dropped one of the frames.

    "I have no idea, miss." Lucinda admitted. "I don't even know who this girl is."

    The maid glanced over her shoulder before returning her gaze to May.

    "Miss May, please come with me!" She urged the girl, who responded with a puzzled look. "If anyone sees that you-"

    "Well, well, well..." The unfamiliar voice of another woman echoed out from the hallway connecting to Drew's bedroom, causing both May and Lucinda to shudder as they heard it creep into the room like a snake slithering from rock to rock. "I thought I heard a commotion up here..."

    May watched as the form of a tall, slender woman with long, green hair tumbling down her shoulders walked into view behind the now cowering maid, her hands gently fondling a large and gaudy golden necklace with the most enormous emerald May had ever seen etched into its centre.

    "Lady Elizabeth!" Lucinda gasped, turning to face the woman and bowing her head in what seemed like shame.

    May glared at the woman who was now examining the young Pokemon coordinator carefully from the hallway, an amused smile painted across her face as she looked the girl up and down. Though May had no idea who the woman was, she could already tell that she wasn't the type that May tended to get along with. Her demeanour and stance simply exuded an arrogance that was beyond words, and her gaze was cold and apathetic. When May began to think of it, however, it reminded her of when she had first met Drew, and slowly she began to realise who exactly was now staring her down.

    'Drew's... Mother?' May thought to herself, gritting her teeth slightly as their eye contact was finally broken by the older woman who was now glaring at Lucinda.

    "Lucinda!" She barked angrily, removing her hand from her chest and clenching it into a tight fist as it fell down to her side. "You know that this room is off-limits! Why is she in here?"

    "I-I'm sorry, Lady Elizabeth..." Lucinda offered, her voice quivering as she spoke in the presence of Drew's mother. "I was just-"

    "Be quiet!" Elizabeth snapped, causing Lucinda's words to stop instantly. "Get out of my sight."

    With a swift curtsey the maid excused herself from the room and made her way out into the hallway, her desperate need to be formal at all times doing its best to prevent her from breaking into a full sprint as soon as she had exited. May looked on as Elizabeth watched the woman leave from the corner of her eye until finally her gaze fell back onto May once again.

    "So we finally meet." Elizabeth chuckled to herself, though May remained silent. She was not entirely sure what to say and the shock from watching Lucinda being dismissed so harshly made words difficult to formulate for the girl.

    Elizabeth watched the girl closely, both admiring and despising the determination in her bright, sapphire eyes as she did so.

    "Oh?" She mocked, raising her hand to her face as she brushed a loose strand of emerald-green hair back behind her ear. "What's the matter? Have you forgotten how to talk?"

    May felt herself flinch a little at this statement, though before she could respond Drew's mother was already continuing with her barrage of insults.

    "I see they really went all out trying to dress you up. But a tramp like you could never look natural in such stylish clothes, could you?"

    "Excuse me?" May spoke back, unable to help a frown emerge.

    "Oh, please don't be offended, little girl!" Elizabeth chuckled to herself, well aware that her smirk was angering May more and more with every passing second. "Some women have it and some don't. It's not your fault that you were born into a peasant family, after all. At least you're trying to make yourself worthy of the Blackthorne name!"

    "I don't want to have anything to do with that name!" May snapped back, rather surprised at her own reaction to the woman. She was all alone in a strange mansion, being talked down to by somebody she didn't even know, so perhaps she was justified to be jumpy, she thought.

    "Hit a nerve, have I?" Elizabeth smiled yet another irritating smile as she gazed down at the girl, enjoying watching her writhe with anger. "You know I simply don't understand what my son would see in a street girl like you. He has the pick of the world and he chooses you? I wonder where I went wrong..."

    The woman sighed a little, raising her right hand and examining her nails idly in the dull light of the dusty bedroom.

    "He just doesn't understand that a mother-in-law is supposed to approve of her daughter-in-law, does he?"

    May clenched her fists tightly, unable to hold back her anger any longer. It had been a long day, and she was sick and tired of holding back her emotions; bottling them up inside of her until she had an opportunity to be alone at night and let them all out in a flood of tears. She had felt this way since she first arrived in the Johto region to pursue her contest dreams - the feelings of loneliness and isolation and loss of her friends had all caught up with her, and Drew's betrayal had only served to compound her problems even more. What made it worse is that he never even cared; never even admitted any wrongdoing on his part. If he really loved her like he always claimed he had, then he would have understood what he had meant to her, and how exactly his actions had shattered her heart in every conceivable way.

    "I wouldn't marry your son if he was the last man on Earth!" The girl yelled at the top of her lungs, her eyes closed as she tried her best to clear away the red haze of anger that clouded her vision.

    Elizabeth paused for a moment, not quite able to comprehend what May was saying to her.

    "What are you talking about?" She stammered uncertainly, her voice finally wavering as she raised an eyebrow in confusion. "I know exactly why you charmed him! You money-grabbing peasant girls are all the same!"

    "If Drew thinks he can buy my love then he doesn't know me at all!" May exclaimed, her eyes glaring straight into Elizabeth's with an unshakeable resolve normally reserved for the grandest of Pokemon contests. "No amount of money in the world would ever make me happy if I was his trophy wife!"

    Elizabeth felt a growl in her throat as she considered a way to snap back at the young Pokemon coordinator. Slowly she took a step towards May, but just as she opened her mouth to speak she was interrupted by the voice of a young man standing right outside the door.

    "That's enough, mother!" Drew ordered, causing both May and Elizabeth to look over at the boy in surprise. "You've said plenty."

    Elizabeth looked down at her son, the anger still evident in her eyes, though it began to wane in his presence. Drew's resolve was firm, however, and he continued to glare at her in a commanding, stoic way, showing no sign of love or compassion for the woman who had raised him from childhood. May couldn't quite believe it, but now she felt even more awkward than she had before as she felt the unsettling emotions exuding from mother and son which now plagued the old, dusty room.

    "Drew," Elizabeth spoke up once more, a tone of disbelief ringing in her voice, "you can't seriously believe that this girl has anything to offer? Just look at her!"

    May frowned once more as Elizabeth pointed right at her. Drew's eyes followed his mother's finger to May's defiant face, his expression unwavering as he stared down at the girl in a way that May couldn't remember seeing from him before. She felt her heart skip a beat slightly as his eyes surveyed her with a form of mild contempt before glaring back at his mother once again.

    "Just go." He said firmly. "This is none of your business."

    Elizabeth was about to say something, but quickly changed her mind, glancing over her shoulder towards May one last time before heading out of the bedroom, casting a sharp glare at her son as she did so. Drew ignored the glare and stepped into the room where May was still standing on the opposite side, watching him carefully, a slight panic vibrating through her chest as she heard him push the door closed and the incandescent lights above them seemed to flicker and darken slightly.

    He stared at the girl in silence for a moment, and her panic began to slowly morph into anxiety, which in turn evolved into fear. She wanted to run away. She didn't know who he was anymore - all she knew was that she felt unsafe, and the unending sea of photographs which surrounded her from all sides did little to subdue this feeling.

    "I've missed you," Drew finally spoke up, his lips curving into a slight smile as he did so, "May Blackthorne."

    ~*~*~

    "Wait..." Dawn stammered as she looked up from the map in her hands to the enormous estate in front of her, and back again, her wide eyes broadcasting her disbelief. "You mean... THIS is Drew's house!?"

    The group had finally arrived at their destination: the Blackthorne Estate. Standing before them was an enormous, black gate with ornate letters displaying the name "Blackthorne" at its very top, and with several sturdy bars running down to the paved driveway below. Attached to either side of the gate were long, bricked walls which curved around an enormous garden as far as the eye could see, and just behind the gate itself was a small security building, through the window of which they could see one of Drew's private guards sipping from a cup of coffee whilst reading a newspaper.

    Behind the impressive entrance lay a veritable nature reserve - the grounds of the estate stretched out as far as the eye could see, with numerous decorated trees and bushes scattered elegantly throughout the garden, and much of the garden was filled with rose bushes of all kinds of colours and shades. No doubt this was where Drew's love of roses came from, and Ash wondered if perhaps he had even caught Roselia in this very garden - it certainly wasn't an impossibility, given its sheer size.

    At the very centre of the garden stood an exquisite mansion which appeared to be much older than every other structure they had encountered in LaRousse City thus far. Though they couldn't make out the details from this distance, had the group been standing closer they would have marveled at its finely-painted off-white walls, and the stunningly beautiful decorated windows which portrayed images of numerous elegant Pokemon of the Hoenn region.

    Ash felt his stomach churn slightly at the sight of the estate. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen something so exotic, and it saddened him to think that he couldn't provide this kind of luxury to May. After all, if there was anyone in the world who deserved to live like a queen, it was her.

    "It's... Beautiful..." Alisa breathed, completely spellbound.

    "I must admit, I never expected anything like this." Brock agreed.

    "Must be a pain to get the mail." Paul commented from the back of the group, causing Dawn to cast a sharp glare at him. "What?"

    "Well, we'll need a plan to get inside..." Brock mused, rubbing his chin as his eyes surveyed the gate which towered some twelve feet above them. "Do you have any ideas, Ash?"

    Brock paused in anticipation of his friend's response, but it never came. Confused, he glanced over his shoulder and was surprised to see the boy standing right beside the intercom that was connected to the right-hand side of the gate, ducking slightly to speak into it.

    "Um, excuse me?" Ash began. "We need to get inside to see our friend, please."

    "You got a reservation?" The device hissed a distorted and curt voice back at the boy.

    "Well, uh, no, not really..." The boy replied uncertainly.

    "Then beat it, kid." The intercom crackled again. "This here's private property."

    "Pika..." Pikachu sighed from atop the boy's hat as a frown emerged on his face.

    "That wasn't exactly what I had in mind, Ash..." Brock groaned as his friend returned to the group, his eyes tracing the ground beneath his feet with bitter disappointment.

    As the five trainers began to discuss the different possibilities of gaining access to Drew's estate, they were unaware that they were being watched from the shadows of a nearby collection of trees just across the road from where they stood. Comfortably nestled within the proximity of several shrubs and bushes so as to remain undetected, Nico watched the group plan their next move. He had been following them since they first left the Pokemon Centre, but now he had no further use for them, save perhaps as a minor distraction whilst he infiltrated Drew's mansion.

    "Perfect..." He whispered to himself, undaunted by the security which surrounded the estate. Smiling to himself, he turned to face the humanoid creature which stood next to him. "Now it's your turn, Gallade."

    Gallade was an interesting Pokemon belonging to both the Psychic and Fighting type categories. It stood at just over five feet tall and possessed a body that was coloured primarily in green and white. A sharp, red protrusion jutted out from its chest and back, and the top of its head was curved upwards like a Sharpedo's rear fin. Its most unusual feature, however, was the fact that Gallade's arms were essentially little more than large swords which emerged from its elbows.

    "Search every room until you find her, and bring her back to me." Nico commanded, causing the creature to nod before crossing its arms together.

    As Gallade began to focus its mind, several dull lights of multiple colours and hues began to emerge from the Pokemon's body as it slowly became more and more translucent with every passing moment. Then, as quickly as the process had begun, the creature disappeared without a trace, leaving the boy alone to contemplate the smooth execution of his plan.

    ~*~*~

    "What's going on, Drew?" May's voice was firm and unwavering as she looked her former boyfriend square in the eyes. "Why did you bring me all the way here? And why am I wearing..." She paused for a moment to glance back down at the exotic ballroom dress she was wearing. "Why am I wearing THIS?"

    Drew simply smiled his traditional smile, closing his eyes as he flipped his lime-green hair back in that trademark fashion that only he could pull off.

    "Isn't it obvious, May?" He asked, opening his eyes and looking back at her smugly. "I brought you here to show you how I feel about you. Without any distractions."

    "Distractions?" May repeated, her voice showing confusion and wariness at his words.

    "Your friends." Drew explained simply as he took a step closer towards the girl, who instinctively backed away but felt the solidity of the bedroom wall push back against her. "I can never get a chance to talk to you without them butting into things that don't concern them."

    This comment served only to anger May, who glared at the young coordinator once again. Drew continued to walk towards her, but was suddenly stopped as he felt his foot push against the fallen picture frame which lay in the centre of the room. Slowly he glanced down at the object before kneeling down and picking it up, flipping it over and allowing some of the shattered glass that had collected on its cover to fall to the ground. His smile slowly faded as he stared into the eyes of the girl in the photograph; the girl who had turned his life upside-down in every possible way.

    May noticed Drew's sudden change in demeanour and watched him carefully, uncertain of what action she should take. Part of her wanted to leave the room this instant and get out of these ridiculous clothes, but she was also concerned about the boy, and curious about the story behind him and Soledad. Against her better judgment she took a step towards the centre of the room where Drew continued to kneel in silence, his eyes transfixed on the picture frame in his hands.

    "Drew...?" She began uncertainly. "What are you-"

    "Why did you have to come into this room?" Drew interrupted, refusing to take his eyes off the photograph in front of him.

    May stepped back once again, a little taken aback by his sudden reaction.

    "Huh?"

    "You heard me." Drew continued, his voice suddenly become more guttural, as if he was preparing to growl. He turned his head to face the girl, his emerald eyes staring right at her accusingly. "Why did you have to choose THIS room to run into?"

    "What's going on, Drew?" May questioned, trying not to let her fear show through. "Why are there so many pictures of Soledad in this room?"

    Drew slowly got to his feet and wandered over to the nearest desk. He carefully placed the damaged picture frame up onto a nearby empty space, shaking away any excess glass from the photograph as he did so.

    "Soledad..." He mumbled in a whisper before turning back to face May. "That's none of your business, May."

    May frowned at Drew's reaction, watching him carefully as he stared at her from across the room.

    "None of my business?" May echoed, her voice showing clear anger at his reaction. "You had a secret shrine to Soledad in your house while we were dating and it's none of my business?"

    "You wouldn't understand, May." Drew snapped back, clenching his fist as he did so. The painful memories would always flood back when he came into this room, and that was why he tried to avoid it at all costs. Why did she have to bring him here and drag up the past once again?

    "Try me." The girl answered defiantly.

    Drew reflected on his feelings for Soledad for a moment; the memories of his past rejections and failures as a coordinator rushing through his mind like a physiological tornado. It was pointless to talk about it, wasn't it? After all, May could never understand what he had been through. And yet, May and Soledad were so very much alike - that was why he had approached May in the first place, after all. The only two coordinators to have ever beaten him in a Grand Festival. Was he destined to lose to them in matters of the heart as well as Pokemon? Is this what they called fate?

    "Soledad..." Drew tried to find the words, but they were difficult to grasp; like trying to catch falling leaves that tumbled in a crosswind. "Soledad is..."

    May continued to watch the boy as he stared down at the dusty carpet beneath his feet, his mind desperately searching for a way to express the frustrations that he had harboured for so many years.

    "Soledad is... My only failure!"

    May raised an eyebrow at this as Drew looked back up at her, his expression reminiscent of someone who had been studying for hours on end and could no longer formulate a logical thought process.

    "You and her, May..." He continued somewhat frantically. "You and Soledad are the only women I can't understand!"

    "Wh-what?" May stammered. "What do you mean?"

    "Everyone else..." Drew explained, his voice sounding as if he was about to break down into a flood of tears. "Everyone else would give anything to be with me, but you two...! Why can't you understand that I'm the man that you're supposed to love!?"

    Both coordinators were silent for a moment as Drew's voice seemed to echo throughout the room, the sound reflecting off of the glass of the photo frames lined up on every desk and shelf available to them. May's mind considered the boy's words and did her best to make sense of them. It seemed egotistical of Drew to think that way, but perhaps he wasn't far from the truth. After all, anyone who had grown up in a house like this would have had plenty of reasons to think that they were better than the rest of the populace in every possible way - that would be a natural assumption after seeing the contrast in their daily lives. Who was she to judge him?

    Suddenly the room was filled with a dull-green light, and the image of a slender, humanoid Pokemon appeared, its dark-green eyes sparkling like well-polished gems under the light of the chandelier which hung from the ceiling. May barely had enough time to catch a glimpse of the creature's long, blade-like arms before she found herself caught in its powerful grasp and the room slowly began to fade out of view.

    "Drew!" She cried, reaching out a hand towards the coordinator who lunged towards her.

    "May!" Drew yelled, dashing towards the spot where May had once stood, but she was now no longer there. "May!?"

    "MAY!!"

    ~*~*~

    This chapter was probably the hardest one I've had to write in the whole fic. It was originally going to be much larger, but I decided to split it up since I feared it would be too much to digest in one go otherwise. I'm aiming to post 18 very shortly - I'm super excited about writing it, and I'll be equally excited to see what everyone thinks of it once it's done ^^ We'll finally settle some old scores...
    Good Love Charm
    *COMPLETE*

  6. #181
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    Sorry for how long it took to write this review:

    This fanfic, coming from someone who's been around, is one of the best I've read in a long time. Your chapters are always well written; you have an ability to keep things short, yet also manage to capture everything that the reader needs to know in order to visualize a scene. The way you write all of the pre-existing characters captures their personalities extremely well, however, your original characters are all complex and interesting; you add personalities that allow for a more fascinating story to develop, making this fic not only enjoyable from a shipper's perspective, but from an ordinary reader's. I look forward to seeing the next chapter, and hope that updates become a more regular occurrence in the future.
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    Chapter Eighteen:
    Ash vs Nico! Battle for May!!

    The heat of the sun on Pikachu's fur began to slowly intensify as morning gave way to afternoon. The Electric-type creature glanced up towards the bright, blue sky, admiring the clouds as they floated serenely above the group of Pokemon trainers who continued to attempt to devise a strategy for gaining access to Drew's mansion.

    "Pika..." Pikachu squeaked, made slightly uncomfortable by the large amount of humidity which seemed to hang in the air.

    Ash was equally uncomfortable, though for an entirely different reason. He was frustrated by what he perceived as a lack of power. He knew that May was somewhere in that estate, and he knew that he had to get her back, but he had no idea how to get to her.

    At last he decided, his face brightening up and a renewed determination burning in his eyes. Standing around formulating a plan wasn't going to help matters; it was time to take things into his own hands.

    "Give me a boost, Brock." Ash exclaimed, not waiting for Brock's reaction as he wandered over to a section of the large, brick wall which was outside the security guard's field of vision.

    "What are you talking about, Ash?" Brock asked, following his friend over to where he was heading. "You can't just jump over the wall and expect to do anything!"

    "Pika!" Pikachu agreed from atop its trainer's hat, clearly worried by Ash's rash decision.

    "It's better than sitting around here, Brock!" Ash insisted, glancing up at the height of the wall before him. "I'm going to rescue May right now, and nothing's going to stop me."

    Brock looked at the boy closely. He had that same confidence and commitment that Brock usually only saw when he was about to face a Gym leader. He knew he was serious, and if there was one thing Brock had learnt during his adventures with Ash, it was that when he became serious no amount of reasoning could stop him.

    "But, Ash..." He began, but was suddenly interrupted by a large flash of green and purple lights from a few yards away which caught the attention of the entire group.

    The lights slowly faded into nothingness as they spun rapidly in a spherical motion before finally revealing the slender form of Nico's Gallade and the struggling figure of May which it held tightly within its grasp. Ash, Brock, Dawn, Paul, and Alisa all watched in puzzlement at the creature which stared back, its cold, green eyes showing nothing but apathy as it surveyed the silent humans which stood before it.

    "Huh?" Ash stammered as he realised that May was now in front of him, fighting to free herself from the grip of the Pokemon that had just teleported outside. "May!"

    May stopped struggling for a moment and turned her head to see the young Pokemon trainer, confused but relieved to hear his comforting voice and see his dark eyes which exuded a love and care that only he could display.

    "Ash?" She cried, stretching out her hand in an effort to reach him, though he was several yards away. She didn't care how far he was - she just wanted to feel the strong, protective grip of his hand on her own; the hand which always made her feel warm and safe and loved. "Ash! Help me!"

    "I'm coming, May!" Ash yelled, wasting no time in dashing towards the Pokemon which frowned and surveyed the boy in a calm, machine-like fashion. In its vision Gallade could see Ash moving in slow motion, as if he was struggling to dash through thick syrup. Pikachu leapt from the boy's cap and also began to break into a sprint towards the Psychic-type, its eyes filled with the same determination as that of its trainer.

    Suddenly a flash of light engulfed the immediate vicinity of the gate, causing the group to shield their eyes as it slowly receded into the form of an enormous, snake-like Pokemon which towered above even the colossal brick wall that surrounded the Blackthorne Estate. Its metallic body glistened like silver under the light of the afternoon sun, several sharp protrusions jutting out from it at irregular angles. Its huge, fearsome eyes stared down at Ash and Pikachu with a terrifying hunger as the creature shook its sharp tail menacingly, like a Seviper that was about to strike the finishing blow to its weakened prey.

    "Sorry, Ash," the voice of Nico chuckled as the young Pokemon trainer walked into view, his hands resting comfortably in his pockets, "but you're not going to play the hero today."

    Everyone stood in silence for a moment as they watched Nico slowly emerge from the cover of the trees across the street, a confident smirk covering his face. The young trainer eyed the group before him, then glanced over towards his Gallade which continued to hold the struggling May as it hovered above the ground, patiently awaiting its trainer's next command. He had finally done it.

    "Nico!" Ash growled, clenching his fist and glaring straight at the boy.

    "Pika!" Pikachu squeaked as menacingly as it could, mirroring its trainer's movements as warning sparks began to erupt from its red cheeks in preparation of an electric attack.

    "Nico!" Alisa called out, taking a step away from the group. Her expression was one of both anger and disbelief, though it also undeniably contained a hint of sadness and disappointment at the boy's actions. "What are you doing? You have to let May go right now!"

    Nico took a moment to look at the girl, reflecting on his past experiences with her. She had been his closest friend for much of his life, and the only person he had ever really grown to trust. She was undeniably a good person, always looking for ways to improve her father's carnival and bring in as much money as possible in a legitimate way. It was truly unfortunate that Kendrick treated her so poorly. Lies and deceit were something Nico hated above all else, and yet he had to live a lie when it came to Alisa. She couldn't know what her father was really like - it would devastate her in every way to know that the man she had so much respect for was little more than a street thief in a fancy hat.

    "This doesn't have anything to do with you, Alisa." Nico replied calmly, looking straight into her passionate, determined eyes. "This is something I have to do."

    "We're not going to sit back and let you take away our friend!" Dawn threatened, the small, blue penguin beside her chirping in agreement with an angry look on its face.

    "She's right, Nico!" Brock added, detaching a Pokeball from his belt in preparation of releasing the creature that lay inside. "If it's a fight you want, we'll give it to you!"

    "Stop!" Ash turned to his friends, who looked back at him, confused. "Let me handle this."

    Dawn raised an eyebrow at the boy, but Brock nodded, unable to help but smile. This was something Ash had to do by himself, after all.

    "You're so predictable, Ash." Nico chuckled, redirecting his attention to the young trainer with the Pikachu by his side. "But my fight isn't with you; it's with Drew."

    Ash frowned, his fists loosening slightly as he listened to his opponent.

    "Wh-what do you mean?" He asked with a puzzled tone of voice.

    Nico smirked, running his fingers through his jet-black hair as he gazed idly up at the blue sky above them.

    "Think about it." He explained casually. "What am I going to do with May? Kidnap her and live happily ever after? We all know that's not going to happen."

    "You've got that right!" May growled, still squirming between Gallade's arms as she attempted to free herself.

    "You know, you're even cuter when you struggle, May..." Nico chuckled, flashing the girl a grin which resulted in a retaliatory scowl from her. "I'm not stupid enough to believe I can pull something like that off."

    "Then let her go!" Ash demanded, clenching his fists once more. "Right now!"

    "Pika!" Pikachu agreed, coiling back on its hind legs in preparation for a well-placed Volt Tackle.

    "Let her go?" Nico forced a laugh. "And then what? Just watch as you let Drew carry her back off to his castle? It's your fault that he managed to bring her all the way back here, Ash."

    Ash paused, the colour suddenly fading from his face.

    "It... Is?"

    "Don't listen to him, Ash!" Brock yelled. "He's just trying to trick you!"

    "If she meant anything to you at all you wouldn't have let her out of your sight after I took her away." Nico continued, smiling at the young Pokemon trainer as he did so, well aware that his words were inflicting far more pain on him than any attack could ever hope to.

    "But, I..." Ash stammered, his eyes widening as his mind replayed the events of May's kidnapping in the forest outside of Canalave City. Those memories were so painful; the loss of May and the worry that he might never see her again. He wished he would never have to feel that pain ever again. "I..."

    Nico's face grew more stern as he focused all of his attention on Ash, clenching his fists tightly.

    "You're just as bad as Drew!" He snarled.

    An uncomfortable silence penetrated the area for a moment as Nico's words echoed in Ash's mind. Ash stared down at the ground, not entirely sure how to react. He was angry and wanted to lash out, yet he was also saddened by what Nico was saying. Was it possible that he was right? Was Ash really just as bad as Drew? If he were in Drew's position, would he have taken the same actions and believed that he was justified for them?

    "Pika..." Pikachu did its best to comfort its trainer, wandering over to Ash's shin and nuzzling it. "Pika Pi!"

    "Pikachu..." Ash whispered.

    "Ash!" May's cries suddenly snapped the boy out of his daze and he looked up to see her reaching out towards him.

    "May..." Ash breathed.

    Suddenly a wave of energy began to course throughout the boy's entire body. He clenched his fists, feeling as though electricity was pulsing through his veins. Nico was wrong, and he would prove it right now.

    "This is getting boring." Nico sighed, snapping his fingers and looking over towards his Steelix which continued to glare down at Ash and Pikachu. "Since I have time to kill, I'll just have to use you for a warm-up. Steelix! Iron Tail!"

    "Pikachu, look out!" Ash yelled, diving down and picking the small creature up in his arms. Steelix's tail slammed into the road, churning up several chunks of debris and concrete as it did so, though it just narrowly missed its target.

    "Pika Pi!" Pikachu cried, looking up towards its trainer with concern.

    "I'm okay, buddy." Ash replied, smiling confidently before getting back up to his feet. "Now, are you ready for a battle?"

    "Pikachu!" Pikachu squeaked, looking over towards Nico's Steelix which was still recovering from its last attack. "Pikachu Pika!"

    "Alright, then!" Ash declared, twisting his cap around so that its peak was now jutting out behind him as he readied a Pokeball from his belt. "I hope you're ready, Nico, 'cause you're going down!"

    "What a joke." His opponent chuckled to himself, folding his arms confidently. "Let's make this quick. I don't have all day."

    "You won't last five minutes!" Ash exclaimed, launching his Pokeball into the air and watching proudly as it split apart, ejecting a plume of white light onto the road in front of Steelix which slowly faded to reveal a green, humanoid Pokemon standing just under six feet tall. Its elbows ended in several sharp, leaf-like blades, and on its back were numerous yellow seeds which seemed to absorb the energy of the burning sun above. Its long, green tail was shaped like the branch of a palm tree, and in its mouth was a small twig that the creature chewed idly whilst surveying the enormous Steel-type that stood before it.

    "What in the world is that Pokemon?" Dawn marveled in amazement at the creature, removing her Pokedex from her bag to analyze its information.

    "I see..." Brock mused knowingly. "Ash must have switched out some of his Pokemon while we were at the Pokemon Centre here. He must be serious if he brought out Sceptile."

    "So you actually have a Pokemon that isn't shorter than you are." Nico insulted Ash from the opposite side of the makeshift battlefield. "That's quite impressive. But let's see how it handles my Steelix!"

    Nico pointed his finger towards the green Pokemon that stood confidently before the enormous Steel-type, idly watching the creature in anticipation of its first move.

    "Iron Tail, Steelix!" Nico bellowed. "Take it down!"

    "Dodge it, Sceptile!" Ash yelled.

    Nico's Steelix slammed its tail down into the ground once again, kicking up dust and debris as its metal body swept across the road, the enormous Pokemon's heavy, ominous breathing sending a chill down everyone's spine. The cloud of dust billowed slowly up into the air, obscuring the vision of the battling trainers as they eagerly searched for the location of Ash's Sceptile, which was nowhere to be seen.

    "Leaf Blade, Sceptile!" Ash commanded.

    Suddenly a green blur flashed from the safety of the trees that lined the roadside as Ash's Sceptile dashed from shrub to shrub, the leaf-like blades on its elbows glowing brightly in preparation for the creature's attack.

    Before Steelix could react Sceptile had already struck the Pokemon in the back of the head, causing the enormous worm to let out an ear-splitting roar which rocked the air for miles around. Steelix angrily lashed out with its spiked tail, trying desperately to land a hit on the agile Grass-type that evaded its every move, though it was no use.

    "Ha, I knew it!" Ash cheered, pumping his fist as he watched Sceptile dodge the creature's attacks effortlessly. "You're way too fast for him, Sceptile! Keep it up with another Leaf Blade!"

    "I don't think so!" Nico countered, waving his hand in the air to attract the attention of his enraged Pokemon. "Steelix, use Rock Polish, now!"

    "Rock Polish...?" Ash repeated the strange name of the move that was completely unfamiliar to him. "Be careful, Sceptile!"

    Nico's Steelix raised its body up to its full extent, casting an enormous shadow that engulfed the road on which they were battling. Suddenly the individual metal orbs which made up its Steel body began to spin at a steadily-increasing rate until they started to gleam in the light of the midday sun, forcing Ash to shield his eyes from the glare.

    "Now use Dig!" Nico ordered.

    "Use Leaf Blade before it can get away, Sceptile!" Ash countered.

    Immediately Sceptile leapt into action, readying the blades on its arms for a quick and powerful strike. Within an instant the Grass-type had reached the point where Steelix had once been standing, only to find itself striking at thin air above a large gash in the asphalt below.

    "What!?" Ash stammered, looking around the area and doing his best to detect the vibrations in the earth as Nico's Steelix circled the arena from below. "How did it get so fast!?"

    "That's crazy!" Dawn commented from the sidelines as she watched the battle take place. "It was moving so slow just a second ago!"

    Brock nodded in response, a nervous frown taking over his expression.

    "Rock Polish is a move that greatly increases a Pokemon's speed." The young trainer explained to the inexperienced coordinator at his side. "Nico just neutralized the major advantage Sceptile had in this battle with just one move!"

    "Come on, Ash!" Dawn cheered, prompting Piplup to do the same as it jumped up and down. "You can do it! Don't let him get to you!"

    Ash ignored the cheers that were erupting from his friend on the sidelines. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate her concern, but he had to focus all of his attention on this battle. He may well have underestimated Nico, but he and Sceptile had come through plenty of battles before, and this would be no exception.

    "You've got quite the cheerleader over there, Ash." Nico chuckled confidently from the other side of the arena, causing Ash to clench his fist angrily. "I'll tell you what - why don't you keep her and I'll take May off your hands?"

    "Why you-!" Ash began, but was quickly cut off as Nico issued his next command.

    "Steelix, rise up and use Dragonbreath!"

    As soon as the orders escaped the young trainer's lips his Steelix shot up from underneath Sceptile, forcing the creature to lose its balance and begin to tumble in the air. As Sceptile tried desperately to grab on to the Steel-type Pokemon's body in an attempt to reverse the situation, Steelix quickly spun around, slamming the side of its sharp, iron tail into Ash's Pokemon and sending it crashing down into the rubble below.

    "Sceptile, no!" Ash cried, but before he could issue a counterattack the wounded Pokemon was engulfed in a sea of navy-blue flames which scorched the entire area, causing Ash's vision to blur from the immense heat of Steelix's Dragonbreath attack.

    "Sceptile!" Dawn gasped, covering her mouth in shock as she watched Nico's Steelix land with a crash, its titanic body uplifting large chunks of cement and debris upon impact.

    "Nico's a lot tougher than any of us thought he'd be!" Brock exclaimed through gritted teeth. "Come on, Ash! You've got to pull it together!"

    "Sceptile!" Ash called over to his Pokemon, but there was no response. The creature lay motionless amidst a heap of rubble whilst Steelix glared down on its prey victoriously.

    Ash returned Sceptile to its Pokeball, a red beam of light emitting from the device and retracting the creature into the safety of its confines. Ash looked down at the Pokeball in his hands for a moment and smiled before placing it back on his belt.

    "Thanks, Sceptile. You did great." He said as he removed another ball from his collection before hurling it out into the arena. "Glalie! I choose you!"

    Ash's Pokeball sailed through the air for a moment before splitting apart and revealing a torrent of white light which slowly formed into the image of a large, floating creature with a spherical body and two sharp, pointed black ears that jutted out from the sides of its head. The Pokemon's white, crystalline body floated above the ground, its bright, icy-blue eyes watching Steelix cautiously from across the ruined stadium.

    "So you have a Glalie too, huh?" Nico noted, remembering the Ice-type Pokemon he had used during the carnival's contest. "Bad move; you should have known that you'd have a type disadvantage against my Steelix. Steelix! Use Dig now!"

    "Same old trick, huh?" Ash smiled to himself as he watched Nico's Steelix once again burrow its way into the ground beneath their feet.

    "I don't need to make an effort against you!" Nico laughed in response. "Rise up and use Iron Tail, Steelix!"

    "Double Team, Glalie, now!" Ash commanded as soon as he heard Nico's latest command.

    Just as Steelix broke through the concrete above which Glalie hovered, Ash's Ice-type Pokemon split into several forms which scattered around the edge of the makeshift arena and began to circle the enormous Steel-type which was now frantically swatting at the images with its tail in an attempt to find the real Pokemon.

    "Icy Wind, Glalie!" Ash commanded.

    "Use Dragonbreath!" Nico countered.

    The two attacks collided in mid-air, pastel-blue shards of ice crashing into a stream of navy fire. Ash and Nico both shielded their eyes as the flames of Steelix's Dragonbreath attack lashed out towards the edge of the stadium, singing everything in its path.

    Eventually Glalie's Icy Wind gave way to the Steel-type's more powerful move which quickly engulfed the battlefield. Steelix began to slowly advance, continuing to spew harsh, ethereal flames of energy from its mouth before it was suddenly hit from above by a powerful stream of ice.

    Steelix let out an immense roar of pain before looking up towards the sky to see Ash's Glalie descending upon the creature.

    "Steelix, Dig!" Nico commanded. "Get out of there!"

    It was too late for Steelix to escape Glalie's attack, however, and soon both Pokemon's faces were mere inches from each other before Glalie summoned its energy to launch another powerful Ice Beam directly at the Steel-type. The air shimmered from the intense cold of the attack, sharpened fragments of beautiful, crystalline ice scattering throughout the area as the sheer force of the Ice Beam thrust Steelix's entire body across the road and into the wall that surrounded the Blackthorne Estate. The wall quickly crumbled under the intense weight of Steelix's metal body and Glalie floated down towards the centre of the road once again, its eyes now shimmering with even more intensity than before.

    "Steelix!" Nico cried in disbelief, dropping the Pokeball he held in his hands. "That's impossible!"

    "Awesome, Glalie!" Ash cheered, jumping on the spot and pumping his fist.

    "Pika!" Pikachu added, beaming over at Glalie, who remained as focused and serious as ever.

    Nico silently returned Steelix to its Pokeball, gritting his teeth as he did so.

    "Fine!" He barked angrily, replacing Steelix's Pokeball for another on his belt before throwing it out into the arena to meet Ash's Glalie. "So maybe you're not as pathetic as I thought..."

    The projection of light emitted from Nico's Pokeball quickly began to recede, revealing a large, bulky Pokemon with purple, armour-like plates covering its body. The creature stood just under five feet tall, its dark eyes glaring at Ash's Pokemon from across the road, a large pile of rubble marking the halfway point of the makeshift stadium. Its most striking feature was the large horn which rose up from its forehead, and it possessed two large, curved ears which twitched casually in the breeze. The Pokemon swung its large, thick tail back and forth, occasionally slamming the ground in an attempt to intimidate Glalie.

    "But let's see how you handle my Nidoking." Nico snarled. "Nidoking, use Earthquake!"

    "Glalie, dodge it!" Ash cried in response.

    Nico's Nidoking slowly raised one heavy, powerful foot before slamming it back down into the ground and immediately causing a huge tremor to rock the area. Pikachu quickly climbed up onto Ash's shoulder to gain some stability, though this proved rather futile as even he was having difficulty standing against the powerful waves which reverberated beneath his feet.

    Glalie quickly raised itself higher into the air, narrowly avoiding a sharp outcropping of debris which burst out from the ground underneath it. As soon as the tremors began to diminish Nidoking was hurriedly chasing after the floating Ice-type, spinning its body to gain force before slamming its muscular tail into Glalie's side and causing the Pokemon to careen into the ground below.

    "Glalie, no!" Ash called out to his Pokemon as he watched the creature desperately plummet into a huge pile of rubble. "Counterattack with Ice Beam!"

    Almost as soon as the commands were issued, a large beam of ice shot out from the ground where Glalie now lay and slammed into Nidoking, knocking the creature out of the air and back down to the ground with a large thud. Slowly the two Pokemon climbed their way back into their fighting poses and glared at each other once more, both creatures breathing heavily as their trainers considered their options.

    "Not bad..." Nico acknowledged, his voice little more than a growl as he spoke.

    "Let May go right now!" Ash demanded, but Nico simply smiled.

    "I don't think so." He replied calmly, standing tall and looking over at the girl who was still trapped within Gallade's grasp. She had been watching the battle as it continued to unfold, every so often attempting another effort to break free of the Psychic-type Pokemon's grip but proving unsuccessful every time. "You see I still have some time before the curtain falls on this show, Ash. Nidoking! Megahorn into Iron Tail!"

    Nidoking let out a mighty roar before charging headfirst towards Ash's waiting Glalie, the sharp horn on its head almost appearing to glow as it prepared to strike the enemy.

    "Glalie, float up and dodge it!" Ash exclaimed, prompting the Ice-type Pokemon to quickly rise up and away from the oncoming Nidoking. "Now use... Huh!?"

    Before Ash could realise what was happening he watched as Nidoking began to climb up one of the mountains of debris that had been formed from the previous Earthquake attack before launching itself right into Glalie, its horn penetrating the creature's thick, icy hide with a loud crack that could be heard around the entire stadium. Ash flinched as he heard the sound, hoping that Glalie was okay, but he knew that now was the time to counter; the opening from Megahorn to Iron Tail would be a brief but vital opportunity.

    "Ice Beam, Glalie!" Ash yelled.

    "Iron Tail!!" Nico retaliated.

    Just as Nidoking's heavy, glowing tail made contact with its target, a large stream of ice emerged from Glalie's mouth and engulfed its assailant. The force of the attack thrust the two battlers apart, sending Glalie careening into the wall of the Blackthorne Estate, whilst Nidoking tumbled into the ground right beside where Nico stood.

    Nico stared at the unconscious Pokemon that lay before him, his hand idly throwing its empty Pokeball into the air and catching it as it fell back towards him. He had to admit that he was quite surprised by Ash's strength; perhaps a book really couldn't be judged by its cover, after all.

    The young trainer idly returned Nidoking into its Pokeball before choosing another of the small capsules from his belt and twirling it on his finger with a bored look on his face. Ash frowned slightly, not entirely sure what to make of his opponent's demeanour. He had expected Nico to be angry and frustrated, and yet he didn't seem to be fazed at all by Nidoking's defeat. Perhaps he was giving up? Or did he have some sort of trump card up his sleeve?

    "Two down and two more to go." Nico commented, a sly smile appearing on his lips. "I should be thanking you, Ash. I haven't had this much fun in a battle for a long, long time."

    Ash smiled back. Though he was of course worried about May and knew that this battle was a serious one that he couldn't afford to lose, that simply made the competition even more exciting to be a part of.

    "But you won't be taking down any more of my Pokemon from here on out." Nico continued, pressing down on the central button of the Pokeball that lay in his hand before throwing it out into the centre of the devastated arena. "Blastoise, I choose you!"

    The crowd of spectators watched as the Pokeball ejected a huge beam of light which slowly faded away to reveal a bulky, turtle-like Pokemon with a dark-red shell and blue body. The creature stretched out its short arms, taking in the sights and sounds of the area, two large, cannon-like protrusions emerging from above its shoulders. Its tail was short and thick, and it stood upright at a height of about five feet, its shell brightly shining in the light of the midday sun.

    "No way..." Alisa breathed, her eyes widening as she examined the Pokemon that now stood before Nico. "It can't be..."

    Brock and Dawn both glanced over at the girl, their eyebrows raised in unison as they wondered what was the matter.

    "Alisa?" Brock asked, concern evident in his voice. "Is something wrong?"

    Alisa took a moment before replying, her mind not entirely able to analyse the scene that she was seeing. Was Nico really using his Blastoise after all this time? Was he really that serious about winning this match? Or, perhaps he was just enjoying this match for what it was? Was the old Nico finally returning after so many years away?

    "Alisa?" Dawn repeated Brock's words. "Are you okay?"

    "Ah, yes," Alisa stammered, snapping out of her daydream and turning to face Brock and Dawn, "yes, I'm fine. It's just that that Blastoise..."

    Paul cast a quick glance towards the girl who was standing beside him, though he said nothing, his attention mainly focusing on the battle between Ash and Nico.

    "That Blastoise was Nico's first ever Pokemon." Alisa explained. "He got it when it was just a Squirtle back when he first came to live with our travelling carnival."

    "Is it strange for him to use Blastoise, then?" Dawn inquired, still confused by Alisa's reaction to the Pokemon.

    "Nico hasn't used Blastoise in years." Alisa explained. "Not since he started working more closely with my father. I haven't seen it in so long that I used to wonder what had happened to it... It's like a part of his childhood that he never brings up."

    "So that means..." Dawn muttered as she look back over towards the battlefield. "That means that Blastoise could be his strongest Pokemon! Be careful, Ash!"

    Ash and Nico watched each other closely. Ash's heart was racing. It had been a tough battle so far and from the looks of it Blastoise would be no pushover. He had already returned Glalie to its Pokeball and wasted no time in selecting his next battler.

    "You ready, Pikachu?" Ash asked the small, yellow creature beside his feet.

    "Pika!" Pikachu nodded eagerly, bounding out towards the edge of the road where Blastoise was confidently awaiting its arrival. "Pikachu!"

    Nico and Blastoise surveyed the Electric-type which stood defiantly before them, sparks flickering from its cheeks as it prepared itself for battle. Nico smirked, his arms folded confidently.

    "Let's make this a battle worthy of your return, Blastoise." The young trainer declared, suddenly pointing directly at Pikachu. "Flash Cannon, go!"

    "Pikachu, use Agility!" Ash countered.

    Blastoise snarled loudly, ducking its head as the cannons on its back began to target its opponent that had already begun to dash around the entire arena, springing from debris to debris like a blur of electricity. Once its attack was fully-charged, the Water-type let out a roar before firing an enormous burst of grey energy into the centre of the arena, ripping apart mountains of rubble and sending chunks of concrete flying in all directions.

    "Pika!!" Pikachu cried as it lost its footing and was flung towards the other side of the road, the violent gusts of wind that Blastoise's Flash Cannon had whipped up acting like a miniature tornado that was scattering everything in its path.

    "Pikachu, use the debris to regain your balance!" Ash instructed.

    Ash and Pikachu's bond was an instinctive one; almost telepathic in how they seemed to sense each other's thoughts and predict their movements. As soon as Ash had announced his strategy the small Electric-type Pokemon felt a great sense of relief and confidence fill its body. Immediately Pikachu glanced around, quickly surveying the surrounding area as it continued to sail through the air. Sure enough, there were several large scraps of rubble nearby, and Pikachu quickly used its tail as a spring to land on the closest piece before leaping away from it and back towards the enemy, large currents of electric energy beginning to accumulate inside the creature.

    "Now use Volt Tackle, Pikachu!" Ash commanded, pumping his fist as Pikachu's fur itself seemed to ignite into a sea of electricity.

    "Volt Tackle!?" Nico gasped. "Quick, Blastoise, Withdraw!"

    Blastoise quickly retreated into its large shell just before Pikachu's Volt Tackle made contact with the Water-type creature. Sparks flew in all directions as Blastoise's large shell deflected much of Volt Tackle's power, prompting Pikachu to fall back slightly and retreat towards the safety of its trainer. Slowly Nico's Pokemon began to reemerge from its shell, and although it had managed to avoid a direct hit, the attack had clearly dealt some significant damage to the creature, which was now breathing noticeably heavier than before.

    "Great job, Pikachu!" Ash complimented his Pokemon. "Just keep it up! We're definitely the ones with an advantage here."

    "Blastoise, let's finish this!" Nico ordered, raising his hand into the air. "Swamp the field with Surf!"

    "Blastoise!" Nico's Pokemon bellowed, re-aiming its cannons towards the centre of the arena once more and quickly flooding the road with gallons of clear, blue water.

    "That's a clever move!" Brock exclaimed from the sidelines, prompting Dawn to look at him curiously, her expression demanding an explanation from the young Pokemon breeder. "By first clearing the battlefield of debris with Flash Cannon, Pikachu had nowhere to hide from Blastoise's attacks. And now with the battlefield flooded, Pikachu's speed will be entirely negated! Ash will need to think this through carefully. It looks like Nico isn't one to go into battle without a strategy."

    "Nice try, Nico," Ash complimented his rival with a confident smile on his face, "but maybe you forgot that water conducts electricity! Pikachu, use Thunderbolt, now!"

    Ash chuckled to himself as he watched Pikachu begin to charge up its energy, releasing it in an enormous burst of electricity which illuminated the entire ground like a sudden bolt of lightning in the darkest thunderstorm. His old friend Misty had always hammered that simple scientific fact into his head back when he had first started training Pokemon, and although he would have never liked to admit it to her back then, it had certainly helped him throughout his career.

    "How predictable." Nico smirked. "Blastoise, aim your cannons down to the ground and use Aqua Jet!"

    "What!?" Ash gasped, watching as the large, turtle-like Pokemon fired two streams of water from its cannons with such force that its entire body was hurled up into the air, completely avoiding Pikachu's wave of electricity just in time.

    Everyone watched in silent awe as the silhouette of Blastoise's shell blocked the light of the sun for a moment, spinning rapidly from high up in the air before falling back down with an intense speed.

    "Nowhere to run..." Nico whispered to himself with a smile, his eyes meeting Ash's just before his opponent could realise what his plan was.

    "Huh!?" Ash gasped, his eyes widening. "No way! Pikachu get out of there! It's going to land on top of you!"

    "Pika!?" Pikachu squeaked up in surprise, quickly coiling its back legs in preparation to dash away, but the water was slowing it down, and Blastoise was falling far too fast for the Electric-type to retreat in time. "Pika Pi!!"

    "Pikachu!!" Ash cried, watching helplessly as Blastoise slammed on top of the creature, trapping it under its large, powerful foot.

    "Blastoise..." Nico's Pokemon sneered, the cannons on its back retargeting their aim once more, this time locking onto Pikachu at point-blank range.

    "Not even a Ghost-type could escape this..." Nico spoke with a grin on his face, his arms returning into their confident, folded position now that his victory was assured. "Now, Blastoise! Hydro Cannon!"

    "Pi... Pika...!" Pikachu squeaked nervously at the sound of Blastoise's cannons whirring into position.

    "Pikachu, no!!" May called out, struggling once more against Gallade's grip, but Nico's Pokemon was not about to let go. She knew she couldn't do anything, but yet she still wanted to break free and try. She couldn't watch Pikachu go through all this pain, and she felt even worse knowing that she was the cause of this battle. She had to do something to stop this.

    "Pikachu!!" Ash yelled, dashing forward to stop the battle, but just before Blastoise could launch its attack, a vivid beam of green energy shot past the road, slamming into Nico's Gallade and sending it crashing into the trees nearby.

    "Blas?" Blastoise asked, lowering its cannons as it, Pikachu, and everyone gathered outside the Blackthorne Estate looked over at the source of the mysterious attack to see Drew and his Roselia standing on top of the ruined wall that surrounded the mansion's extensive gardens.

    "Ash!" May coughed, slowly getting to her feet now that she had been released from her captivity and dashing over to where the young trainer stood.

    As she approached the boy Ash instinctively opened his arms and felt her run into them before he wrapped them around her and brought her into a tight embrace. For a moment time seemed to stand still as he felt the gentle impact of her body pressing against his own, her face burrowing into his shoulder. Suddenly all thoughts were lost on him; all he wanted to focus on right now was being able to hold her like this forever.

    May was delighted, yet did her best to hold back tears. Ash could hear her sniffling into his jacket but she simply didn't care - for so long she had wondered if she would ever get to be this close to him again, and for a while she had thought it would never happen. But she was wrong, and she couldn't have been happier about it.

    "Don't leave me..." She whispered into his chest, her voice barely audible to the boy, yet somehow he could hear her words. "Don't ever leave me again, Ash..."

    "I won't, May..." He breathed, pulling her closer to him as he too fought back tears of relief and joy. "I promise you, I won't."

    "Drew!" Brock exclaimed, prompting both Ash and May to wake up from their daydream and glance up at the young Pokemon coordinator standing above them.

    May gently broke away from the hug, though she kept her right hand on the boy's chest whilst her other hand held his own, partly for stability and partly because she wanted to continue to feel his warmth against her body.

    "So," Nico smirked, his arms remaining folded across his chest as he looked up at the boy with the lime-green hair who was glaring at Ash, "you've finally arrived."

    "You..." Drew growled, his attention now focused on Nico as he clenched his fists in both anger and disgust. "So you're the one who took her..."

    "Now the party can really begin, Drew." Nico laughed, rubbing his hands together with glee. "Now I finally have an audience that will see how much more pathetic you are than this humble carnival boy."

    Drew continued to glare at Nico, his rage building more and more, but Nico just seemed to become more amused with every passing second. Ash wondered what the boy could be up to, but it just didn't seem to make any sense.

    "Ash..." May spoke softly to the boy, her voice as gentle as a whisper on the breeze. "Be careful, Ash."

    Ash looked at the girl, taking a moment to admire just how beautiful her bright, sapphire eyes were before nodding in response.

    "Don't worry, May." He reassured her. "I won't let anyone come between us ever again."

    ~*~*~

    Big chapter! I loved writing this one; lots of action, and I even managed to sneak some fluff in at the end. I'm surprised it didn't spill out into two posts.

    This fanfic, coming from someone who's been around, is one of the best I've read in a long time. Your chapters are always well written; you have an ability to keep things short, yet also manage to capture everything that the reader needs to know in order to visualize a scene. The way you write all of the pre-existing characters captures their personalities extremely well, however, your original characters are all complex and interesting; you add personalities that allow for a more fascinating story to develop, making this fic not only enjoyable from a shipper's perspective, but from an ordinary reader's. I look forward to seeing the next chapter, and hope that updates become a more regular occurrence in the future.
    Thanks a lot, Agustus ^^ It's always great to hear that I'm keeping the canon characters in-character, and I'm also glad that my original characters have been so well-received. I like to imagine that they're like characters from the Pokemon movies; they have significant development and screen time, but don't ever steal the limelight from the canon characters or detract from the story itself.

    It makes me happy to know that this fic stands on its own in your eyes despite being a shipping fic, since shipping fics tend to not be categorized as being as equal as regular fics, so thanks a lot for your review, and I hope you'll keep reading! ^^

    I've lost a lot of my regular readers since my hiatus, but even without reviews I still plan on finishing this fic. I even started formulating a few ideas for a potential sequel, but let's just focus on getting to the end of this installment, shall we? Thanks to everyone who continues to read! I'm glad you're still enjoying reading the story as much as I enjoy writing it.
    Good Love Charm
    *COMPLETE*

  8. #183
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    I haven't read a battle like this in a long time, it was very vivid, I felt I was there.
    The fluffiness in the end is good as well.

    I wait for the next installment.
    Last edited by Sp1derp1g; 16th April 2010 at 1:49 AM.
    What Happens..., an AmourShipping fic.
    Read it if you want, I won't force you.
    Also, read my Amourshipping drabble, about Amourshipping.

    "An inspiring book on overcoming life's obstacles."
    New York Times 4-8-2016

    Write it down on your calendars.


    We're experiencing technical diFICculties,
    Please stand by.


    While I'm gone, I'm gonna read the whole of AmourShipping thread. Wish me luck.

  9. #184
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    Wow.... i just had an awsome thursday reading all those chapters in one. i love it! =D Doing great with this story already. Just cant wait for the next chapter!
    Current super Pokemon Fear My Wrath!

  10. #185
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    Thumbs up

    Man I've been putting this review off for a while.

    Firstly the previous chapter;

    You nearly made me sorry for Drew, poor Drew not every girl is completely shallow and instantly falls in love with you, I'm so sorry... NOT!

    Now the last chapter;

    Amazing battle between Ash and Nico, just as imaginative as the anime. Very well described that I could see it in my mind just like an episode on TV.

    And finally Ash and May are reunited, so cute. Hopefully you will get a chance to do a scene with them alone together just like when they nearly kissed at the carnival and after escaping the helecopter, those scenes were just magical and probally my favourites so far.

    It really is getting hard to keep track of May and who's kidnapped her, it's been like 3 times already.

    Now is it a 3 way show down between Ash, Drew and Nico.

    Great chapter look forward to the next.

    See Ya!

    Chaos Out!
    Advanceshipping: Together, 4Ever, Always
    <--------------Original image Suzu, Drawn by Me.
    Favorite Advanceshipping Oneshot by Damon Howe When Earth Meets Ocean
    Fanfiction Page
    Advanceshipping Quote:
    “Absence diminishes small loves and increases great ones, as the wind blows out the candle and blows up the bonfire.” - Francois de la Rouchefoucauld

  11. #186
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    Another great chapter! Keep up the great work Gazmof!

    The battle was especially awesome. So detailed! I wonder if the next chapter will be a three way battle?! Which Pokemon would Ash use? So many questions! XD

  12. #187
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    This is really well written! Maybe after some classes and whatnought you could join the board of an Anime writiing board eventually, so you arent restrained to preset character like these, and one last thing. WHY DO YOU MAKE PAUL SO FUNNY. I LIKE FUNNY PAUL. HIS SARCASM IS THE BEST.
    Everytime
    I see him die
    I laugh a little
    on the inside.

    MY SHINIES!!!

    -CURRENTLY LOOKING FOR A GEN V SHINY, PREFERRABLY

  13. #188
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    Thumbs up

    Man, my first post on this fic

    I dont post at all and i gave up on pokemon and ADVanceshipping, but your story caught my interest.

    I read every chapter and loved everyone of them. This Chapter was great.

    You get Lunar Tumbs up! for this

    Your story got me back to ADVanceshipping

    So update soon!

    Lunar Lucario Out!

  14. #189
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    i hate drew this has made me hate me more then i have ever hated any thing i want to go to japan and make them get them kill me off. i hate him that much who i there right mind said lets make the biggest ******* we can how can any one like to make storys with him as a good guy i makes me sick.
    That said this is a good story i just got carried away sorry to any one who likes me but hate him.

  15. #190
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    now does everyone see my Contestshipping is bad. cause Drew's an egotistical jack*****. still love this though.

  16. #191
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    ZOMGZORS AWESOME!

    Fangirliness aside (even though I'm a dude...), I really enjoy this. I love how you've managed to keep everyone in character (aside from Drew, but meh, who cares about him?), and even add additional depth to the characters. I applaud the latter point, since the anime doesn't really define them incredibly well.

    I suppose it also helps that Advanceshipping is tied for my favorite anime ship (along with Pearlshipping and Questshipping).

    I'd appreciate if you could add me to the PM list, if and (hopefully) when you update again.

  17. #192
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    I never read fanfiction, of any kind, however for some reason I found this, and decided to read it.

    I think that this a great story, with great new characters, while having extremely well done old characters.

    The only other fanfiction I read before was Harry Potter based. It was great, and yet I feel this is better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    I've lost a lot of my regular readers since my hiatus, but even without reviews I still plan on finishing this fic. I even started formulating a few ideas for a potential sequel, but let's just focus on getting to the end of this installment, shall we? Thanks to everyone who continues to read! I'm glad you're still enjoying reading the story as much as I enjoy writing it.
    Please continue this, by now you surely have a new chapter?
    it has been almost a year.
    The other fanfic never got finished either. Everything I read is cursed?

  18. #193
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    Wow! I have to say, I have spent the whole day reading this fan fic and it is really awesome! I hope you keep writing about it!
    Last edited by tmmay; 14th February 2011 at 12:01 AM. Reason: Different Word Choice
    [IMG]http://i55.*******.com/2jfhsm0.png[/IMG]
    Credit goes to EzzPeon!!

  19. #194
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    After just over a year of inactivity, this fic shall be resurrected!

    Chapter Nineteen:
    Wager of Destiny

    May's hand gently squeezed Ash's own as the two of them watched Drew with suspicion from afar. A strange and uneasy silence filled the immediate area as the entire group of young trainers and coordinators waited anxiously for the boy's next move. In fact the only two people in the vicinity who didn't seem to be fazed by Drew's intrusion were Drew himself and Nico, both of whom were smiling slyly, relishing the prospect of their upcoming battle.

    "How does it feel, Drew?" Nico chuckled, folding his arms as he gently leaned against a nearby tree. His Gallade wandered over to join him, having recovered from the surprise attack of Drew's Roselia. "How does it feel to see your girlfriend all over another man?"

    Nico nodded his head towards Ash and May, instinctively causing the girl to wrap her arms around Ash's slightly tighter. She had been so used to being whisked away by different people and things today that she knew the only safe place for her was by Ash's side. The very sight of this caused Drew to flinch, but he quickly regained his composure and glared right back at Nico, his rage slowly welling up inside of him with every passing word the boy spoke.

    "I guess money can buy you everything but common sense, huh?" Nico continued with a grim sense of satisfaction. "So what are you gonna do now? Tear her away from him? Maybe you could pay him to leave you two alone forever, hm?"

    Drew clenched his fist, the barrage of psychological attacks that Nico was firing off were so powerful that one could be forgiven for believing he was an Alakazam in disguise. Drew stood his ground though, watching from atop the ravaged wall of his family estate as Nico continued without hesitation.

    "She may not have chosen me," Nico explained, his smile now breaking out into a grin, "but that doesn't matter. All I care about is that she's out of your hands, and that mea-"

    "Too much talk." Drew interrupted as Roselia let out another sudden blast of petals which slammed straight into Nico's stomach, knocking him down and sending him skidding across the asphalt of the street. Immediately Nico's Gallade teleported to its trainer's side in an effort to catch the boy.

    "Drew!" May gasped, the horror painted on her face a complete mirror image of everyone else who was watching the scene unfold. "Are you out of your mind!? How could you att-"

    "Shut up!" Drew barked. "He got what he deserved for interfering! He should be happy I went so easy on him!"

    Drew and Roselia hopped down from atop their perch on top of the ruined wall and began to slowly approach May, prompting Ash to take her arm and move her behind him in an effort to shield her from the oncoming coordinator.

    "This is between me and you, May! No-one else!"

    "Wrong, Drew!" Ash replied, stepping in front of Drew and looking him straight in the eyes. "This is between you and me now!"

    "Step aside, peasant boy." Drew snarled. "Unless you want to feel the full extent of Roselia's Petal Dance."

    Drew motioned his head towards Nico, who was slowly struggling back onto his feet, much of the skin on his arm having been viciously shredded by the hard gravel on which he had fallen, blood running down and dropping onto the sidewalk below.

    "Let's see you try it, Drew." Ash challenged, quickly grabbing the boy's collar and pulling him closer, prompting the young coordinator to struggle in his grip.

    "You really are nothing more than a barbarian, aren't you?" Drew sneered at Ash, whose fist was now readying a punch, but quickly stopped when he thought of what May would think.

    Ash slowly eased his grip on the boy's shirt.

    "If that's what you think then let's settle this with a Pokemon battle."

    "Ash!" May called out nervously.

    "Are you sure about this, Ash?" Brock openly questioned his friend's judgment. "You've just had a pretty long battle with Nico. I don't think it would be wise to-"

    "Fine." Drew responded, a smirk crossing his face as he glanced over towards May, who was by this point wearing a strong scowl directed squarely towards the young coordinator. "And since I'm a man of honor, let's call this a three-on-three battle. Any objections?"

    Ash couldn't help but allow a smile to creep across his face at the prospect of another exciting battle. Of course he had faced Drew before a long time ago during his travels through the Hoenn region - a one-on-one battle in which he had lost. He had often considered challenging him to a rematch, but given the fact that he had since become May's primary rival during her contest run he had decided not to pursue it, so as to not make May feel like he was fighting her battles for her. This time there would be no such excuse.

    "You're on!" He responded, clenching his fist in an expression of both excitement and determination. "And if I win, you promise to leave May alone!"

    Drew nodded, smiling with satisfaction. Between their showdown Pikachu wandered over to stand beside the ankle of its trainer, Blastoise having gone to tend to its own trainer's situation. The battle between Ash and Nico seemed to be officially over, and now there was a new one brewing.

    "Deal." He agreed, folding his arms as if he had just won an enormous bet without breaking a sweat. "And in that case, if I win..."

    Drew allowed himself the luxury of a pause before continuing his words, his eyes locked straight onto Ash's, almost as if he was daring him to strike out at this very instant and invalidate the whole deal.

    "May becomes my wife."

    A sudden gasp of shock escaped from the entire crowd that was gathered outside of Drew's estate. Even Paul, who had remained silent and stoic throughout this entire ordeal, couldn't help but allow his eyes to open widely in disbelief at the boy's suggestion. Was he really that serious?

    Ash felt his heart jump in fear. He couldn't do this. What if he were to lose, and decide May's fate forever? That wouldn't be fair to her, and it would be a loss that would haunt and destroy him for the rest of his life for more reasons than one. To fight for the girl he loved more than anything in the world only to force her straight into the arms of a man who would cause her nothing but heartache and misery for the rest of her life? This was no longer a wager he could accept.

    "I-" Ash began, but was quickly cut off by May, who approached him and stood firmly by his side.

    "We accept your challenge." She exclaimed, looking straight into Drew's eyes with a fire and determination neither of the young trainers had ever seen in her before.

    "What?" Drew stammered, undoubtedly taken aback by the girl's complete lack of hesitation.

    "May, you can't!" Ash insisted. "If I lose, then you'll-"

    Once again May cut off the boy by placing her finger over his lips. She gently patted his shoulder and smiled at him - that same smile that had instantly melted away all of his troubles throughout their journeys together so many months ago.

    "But you won't lose, Ash Ketchum." She spoke to him softly, as if they were the only two people in the world at this moment in time. Her words and her voice contained such a level of intimacy that Ash felt a shiver echo throughout his entire body - his hands tingled, his spine quivered, and his pupils dilated as he looked deep into her eyes - eyes that calmed his soul effortlessly. "Because I believe in you. I always have, and I always will."

    Ash was speechless for a moment, unable to take his eyes off her, her smile seeming to radiate with more and more energy with every passing instant.

    "May..."

    "Please, Ash." She continued, her voice now barely more than a whisper. "Do this for me."

    Ash took a moment to take in the image of the beautiful girl standing beside him. Her eyes were full of such belief and self-assurance that he couldn't help but feel relieved at the sight of them - their calming, blue shade seeming to completely cast aside every ounce of doubt that remained in his body. With a sudden clench of his fists and a knowing smile he nodded to the girl before turning back to Drew, a newfound resolve in his eyes.

    "You're on, Drew." Ash exclaimed, looking his opponent squarely in the eyes. "If that's what it'll take to get rid of you, then that's the way you're gonna get it."

    Drew smiled back at the boy with his trademark arrogance. No matter how many times he witnessed it he could still never quite fail to be surprised at the stupidity of his social inferiors. People of a lesser breed were always so eager to fall straight into their own demise with nothing more to back them up than a vague, fleeting sense of self-confidence. A self-confidence that within a few hours would be crushed beneath his feet.

    "Good." Drew responded with a sly smile. "There's a battlefield suitable for this kind of a showdown in our cellar. Follow me."

    "I don't think so!" Barked a voice from across the street as Nico's battered figure slowly approached the group, his Gallade walking beside its trainer in an effort to keep him propped upright. "I'm not finished with you, Drew! You and me are going to have a battle right now to decide once and for all how pathetic you are!"

    The entire group turned to face the angered coordinator, who was still clutching his bloodied left arm, wincing every so often at the feel of a sharp, intense pain that shot through his body every few seconds. Everyone was surprised, however, when none other than Paul stepped out in front of Nico, idly throwing a Pokeball back and forth between his hands.

    "Go, Ash." Paul spoke with a curt and firm presence to his voice, his eyes not moving from Nico for one instant as he readied the Pokeball in his hand to release the creature which lay inside. "I'll deal with things here. I've been waiting for a battle with this clown for a long time."

    "Paul..." Ash muttered in disbelief at what he was seeing.

    "I said hurry up and go!" Paul growled, his voice becoming even firmer than before - a feat which Ash would have considered impossible just moments ago.

    Ash's eyes traveled from Paul, to Drew, and back again, before finally accepting Paul's gesture and nodding his solid approval. Drew then proceeded to lead the group of Ash, May, Brock and Dawn through the main entrance of the Blackthorne Estate, leaving the ruined street to Paul, Nico and Alisa.

    "Ash!" Paul called out just before his rival was out of sight. Ash turned back to face the boy, who smiled confidently at him. "Don't think this changes anything between us. It's not that I'm helping you out; I just can't stand watching this loser keep making an idiot of himself."

    Ash smiled back, nodding silently before feeling a tug on his wrist from May, who continued to escort him into the front gardens of the Blackthorne Estate, ready to face their destiny together.

    Paul turned back to face Nico, who by this stage was now scowling intensely at the young trainer, his hand already wrapped around a Pokeball he had readied in anticipation for the coming battle.

    "This has nothing to do with you, you second-rate halfwit!" He growled. "Get out of my way!"

    "Nice insult." Paul smirked. "You learn that one in grade school?"

    Nico's frown slowly morphed into an elaborate smile at the boy's retort. It reminded him that he had been clouded by anger for far too long, and now was not the time for that. He was angry at having been thrown across the gravel by a sudden sucker-punch of Drew's, of course, but perhaps it was time to let that go. He had served his purpose, and now it was up to Ash to bring Drew down to a human level, and show him the pain and misery of a bitter defeat. Nico had long ago resigned himself to the fact that he and May would never be together - hell, he was probably destined to be alone for the rest of his life - but that wasn't what was important. Considering how well Ash's Pokemon had fared in their own battle, perhaps he would stand a better chance against Drew's team than Nico himself would have.

    Nico closed his eyes for a brief moment, continuing to wince from the pain that surged through his arm like a thousand needles scraping against his flesh. Yes - he knew he would enjoy this battle.

    "Fine." He finally spoke up, looking directly into Paul's eyes. "A three-on-three battle with no time limit. I'll show you exactly what tricks I learnt in grade school."

    Paul smirked, coiling his arm back as he prepared to release his Pokemon into the center of the littered arena.

    "Let's do this."

    ~*~*~

    Dawn stared at her surroundings in awe as she, Brock, Ash and May all followed Drew towards the Blackthorne's personal Pokemon battlefield. The path which they had followed through the estate gardens had twisted and turned so many times that it had come close to making the young coordinator's head spin, and all the while they had been surrounded by beautifully crafted garden sculptures and finely-carved water features as elegant as any Milotic could hope to be. It was hard to imagine how much all of this must have cost, yet at the same time Dawn wondered about the tolls such a lifestyle must have taken on Drew - an only child who had no doubt lived a sheltered life in the lap of luxury. Given all that, it could be no surprise how he had so desperately wanted to keep May all to himself. Failure and loss were things the Blackthorne family had no understanding of.

    Eventually the team made their way to a large clearing on the northern side of the estate, tucked just behind the huge mansion, shielded from much of the now-setting sun. With the simple pull of a lever and the entrance of a passcode in a nearby keypad, a slight rumbling began to make itself known, causing Dawn to falter slightly as she did her best to maintain her balance. Before anyone could realize what was happening, the entire section of patio on which they all stood began to slowly lower itself into the ground: an enormous elevator.

    The gardens had certainly been thrilling to walk through, but the underground sections of the estate were by no means any less impressive. As the light of day slowly receded from everyone's vision, huge girders and electrical cables could be seen all around them. The entire area was like an enormous hangar, with high-tech equipment covering the walls, and far below them was a large clearing, with dark, faded lines that could just barely be distinguished from this great a distance. Ash stared down at the simple patterns from above the railings of the elevator which continued to move towards them, and there was no doubt in his mind what they represented.

    "A stadium..." He whispered, his voice unable to hide a hint of awe at the fact that such a huge underground area could be devoted entirely to Pokemon battling.

    "Not just any stadium." Drew corrected the trainer as the elevator finally came to a stop with a loud clang, the sounds of gears grinding to a halt ringing throughout the vast, empty darkness.

    Drew hopped over the railing of the elevator and moved confidently into the shadows, disappearing from view for a few moments as the rest of the group waited patiently on the elevator, none of them daring to venture into the darkness after him. After a few moments of silence a sudden click blasted through the area like a loud clap of thunder filling a low valley, and three spotlights cast their gaze down onto the center of the battlefield.

    "A contest stage!" May gasped.

    As a regular Pokemon stadium the field would have been nothing short of stunning, but as a contest stage it had a grandeur that even the Grand Festival would be hard-pressed to match. It was adorned with numerous tiny, multi-colored lights which defined the dividing lines of each respective player's side of the field, and hanging from the high-vaulted ceilings were huge velvet banners and silk ribbons in all kinds of colors and shades. On either side of the field were two large, raised platforms with railings to house each competitor, and several yards behind them was a large ring of seats which wrapped in a semi-circle around the entire stage, providing a spectacular view of the action for visitors and spectators that would make even some official contest houses envious.

    "Correct, May." Drew's voice echoed over a loudspeaker from the far end of the field.

    Drew smiled as the group all stepped forward off the elevator and looked up to see him standing on the far end of the contest stage, already in position on the raised platform, ready to do battle.

    "So, Ash." He chuckled, idly spinning a Pokeball on his finger, his Roselia standing proudly beside him. "Let's get this over with."

    ~*~*~

    I know this chapter alone really wasn't worth waiting an entire year for, but I can promise you that the next one will definitely not take as long! For any readers who are still faithfully reading this story - thank you for waiting, and I sincerely apologize for a lack of any updates. This has been an enormous year for me, but I am fully dedicated to finishing this project, and continuing to write Advanceshipping fics for as long as I can. After all, I love the 'ship so much that I feel it's a crime not to express that love in some way.

    So thank you all for your patience, and I'm going to ask for you to continue to exercise that patience. The next update will not be far away, but I can promise you that Good Love Charm will definitely see a conclusion. Thank you to everyone who sent concerned PMs and emails - I read every one of your reviews and tried to respond to as many as I could, and they always reminded me of how many other people love this 'ship (and this fic) as much as I do, even after May having left for so many years now.

    So everyone, let's keep showing our support of Advanceshipping, and thank you all for reading!
    Good Love Charm
    *COMPLETE*

  20. #195
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    "...tried to respond to as many as I could..."
    Suddenly I feel special, because that means there were some you didn't reply to.

    I know, I'm dumb.

    In all seriousness, great chapter, well worth the wait. Everything is just as, if not better than, expected. The characters are all still gloriously within their established or modified personalities; happy, determined, angsty, and... well, abrasive as ever.

    Would that I had anything helpful to say, but, alas, my reviewing skills are not the greatest in existence.

  21. #196
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    No, thank you, I appreciate the reviews, and it lets me know that there's someone still reading ^^;;

    This was a difficult chapter to write, and I wanted it to further the story a lot more than it did, but it was a transition chapter. Initially I wanted to include the upcoming battles from the next chapter, but that would have made it too long and difficult to absorb, so everyone can look forward to an action-packed chapter next time!

    Thanks for your review (I'm glad I'm still managing to keep everyone in character, since it's been so long since I last updated I was worried I'd lost my touch with them).
    Good Love Charm
    *COMPLETE*

  22. #197
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    I keep forgetting to review this good story of yours. perhaps i'm too busy with my own. haha.

    I keep going o.o at Drew's personality. even i do dislike him i still can't imagine him begin so rough and mean. but still, a good fic.

    Like this a lot despite that. i hope you get the next chapter up soon. =)

  23. #198
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    Quote Originally Posted by midnightjewelz View Post
    I keep forgetting to review this good story of yours. perhaps i'm too busy with my own. haha.

    I keep going o.o at Drew's personality. even i do dislike him i still can't imagine him begin so rough and mean. but still, a good fic.

    Like this a lot despite that. i hope you get the next chapter up soon. =)
    Thank you for the review! As I've mentioned before, Drew has a reason for acting the way he does during the fic which will be revealed soon (not next chapter, but the one after, if all goes according to plan). So please don't think I'm character-bashing him at all - that would go completely against my philosophy of doing my best to keep all characters consistent to their personalities throughout a fic. Yes, sometimes they must be pushed beyond their boundaries a little, as would any character given some of the situations they are put in during your typical fic, but hopefully I've remained true for the most part, and that will prove true for Drew as well once his reasons are revealed.

    Thank you for the review, and I'll be sure to post the next chapter as soon as I can. I'm definitely not as snowed under with outside work as I was before, but it has been picking up again recently, so I'm aiming for an update this weekend. I'll do my best to stick to that schedule, because I want to see what happens next as much as you guys do!
    Good Love Charm
    *COMPLETE*

  24. #199
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    This is my first review on this shipping fic. Hehe. I've been waiting around lazily but here it is! First, I just want to say you have a talent in writing that I will never have! Good job. I was very much absorbed into this story even though I'm more of a Contestshipping kind of person.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gazmof View Post
    "How does it feel, Drew?" Nico chuckled, folding his arms as he gently leaned against a nearby tree. His Gallade wandered over to join him, having recovered from the surprise attack of Drew's Roselia. "How does it feel to see your girlfriend all over another man?"

    Nico nodded his head towards Ash and May, instinctively causing the girl to wrap her arms around Ash's slightly tighter. She had been so used to being whisked away by different people and things today that she knew the only safe place for her was by Ash's side. The very sight of this caused Drew to flinch, but he quickly regained his composure and glared right back at Nico, his rage slowly welling up inside of him with every passing word the boy spoke.
    OOOOohhhh! Mental attacks are more powerful than physical ones! NICE! I can't wait to read the ending. Big fan! Keep up your awesome writing!
    ~Kat

    Check out my Tumblr post for different accounts: http://katspearl.tumblr.com/post/320643625...ro-2-meeeeeeeee

    I'm an optional author for the Fic Request Shop. I'm working on http://www.serebiiforums.com/showpos...&postcount=198 and http://www.serebiiforums.com/showpos...&postcount=293

    CURRENTLY WORKING ON: Over the Edge and The Reality Show
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    ~SNIIIIVYYY!!

  25. #200
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    By pure coincidence I came back to these forums, then I remembered this story and decided to see if there was a new chapter, to my surprise, there was.

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

    Hope to see the next chapter soon

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