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Thread: Not Listening Has Its Advantages

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    Default Not Listening Has Its Advantages

    Pairings: FireRedShipping (Ash/Zoey), LightRockShipping (Brock/Dawn) and one sided in both PenguinShipping and MorpheusShipping (pairs of Kenny/Dawn and Ash/Angie, respectively). (Potential for more shippings to come.)

    Rating: G

    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3782092/...Its_Advantages

    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokemon, a creation of one Satoshi Tajiri, and is produced domestically (in the United States) by Pokemon USA/TAJ/The Pokemon Company, and internationally by Shogakukan and OLM. I personally own nothing and make nothing by writing this. Please do not flame.

    (Chapter 1- Getting Into the Picture)

    ---------

    "Aipom! Wait up!" Ash Ketchum says while he Brock, Dawn and pikachu chase, or rather attempt to chase Aipom through an indoor mall. To Ash, it seemed to happen on almost every day that ends in the letter 'y'. Aipom in all its unbridled cheerfulness would run off on her own and look for fun. From Ash's perspective, however, despite the love that he had for Aipom and his other pokemon, it always seemed that Aipom would find more trouble than fun.

    "How many more times are we going to have to go through this before Aipom learns his lesson, Ash?" Dawn cries out while panting as she and Brock flank the trainer from Pallet.

    "Just try not to think about us having to chase Aipom," Brock responds, consoling Dawn. "Think of it as you getting your daily exercise."

    Dawn turns to Brock and gives him a somewhat jaded look, saying "Are you trying to say that I need exercise, Brock?"

    Brock becomes frustrated and defends his statement to Dawn by answering, "Oh! Criticize me for actually trying to put a positive spin on an otherwise sorry episode. I don't like chasing Aipom three or four times a week either, but all I'm trying to say is that you have to look on the bright side of these types of situations, you know?"

    "Will you two cut it out back there?" Ash vociferously requests of his comrades. "This isn't helping us catch up to Aipom at all!" Ash then looks forward once again. "Aipom! Please stop!" Ash then watches as Aipom goes inside of a instant photo booth and Ash becomes very worried. "Aipom, don't!" he screams, even though the purple ape with the funny tail had already bounced inside of the booth.

    Aside from the obvious Ash, the two people who are most happy that the chase for Aipom has come to a halt are both Brock and Dawn, who quickly slow down their previously frantic pace of an Olympic sprint down to the speed equivalent to a brisk morning walk.

    Dawn is especially happy, and shows her relief by exclaiming, "WHOOO! No more games of 'chase the Aipom' for me!"

    Ash is very perturbed, especially by the last comment that Dawn made. He turns around, thereby halting his walk towards the photo booth, and explains to Dawn "You know, if you were that against looking for Aipom with Brock and I, then maybe it would have been better for you to just stay back and wait for us to retrieve my pokemon, Dawn!"

    "Well, if you would have been a better trainer of Aipom, Ash, maybe he wouldn't run off all the time! Did you ever think about that, Mr. 'World's Greatest Pokemon Trainer?'" Dawn responds, becoming angrier.

    Ash gasps at Dawn's remark, legitimately feeling insulted, but then the trainer counters, "Dawn! How dare you! Aipom is doing just fine with me as I am, thank you very much, and as far as Aipom running off all of the time, he's a free spirit, all right? Did you ever think that he just wants to have a little fun? Shame on you for even inferring that I'm a poor trainer just because Aipom likes to run off on his own a few times!"

    Pikachu yells out a call of 'PIKA!' to the trainer in an attempt to calm him down.

    "It's nice to see that you two are still getting along just fine," says the voice of a female off in the distance. Ash, Brock and Dawn turn from their heated conversation to see a girl who is about Dawn's age. She is wearing an purple shirt and her orange vest over that. But perhaps her most noticeable features are her wild hair, which is fire red in color, and the sunglasses fixated over her eyes. She is carrying a Glameow and an Aipom in both of her arms.

    "Zoey?" exclaim Ash, Brock and Dawn.

    "In the flesh," Zoey responds cheerfully. "So how is everyone doing?" the girl asks out of habit as she lets go of both Glameow and Aipom and removes her sunglasses.

    "We're fine, Zoey," Ash tentatively responds. "So...you were the one that was in the photo booth?"

    "Yes, indeed!" As Zoey clarifies, "I wanted to send some photos back home to Snowpoint City to give this person named Candice some proof of my ever-expanding team..."

    "Wait a minute!" Brock interjects. "You're good friends with Candice, the Snowpoint City Gym leader?"

    Zoey hesitates for a second before she admits, "Not quite. Honestly, I'm in...what you would call a friendly rivalry with this pokemon trainer that also came out of Snowpoint City. Candice saw that Tolon, that's the name of the trainer, by the way...Tolon and I had different philosophies as far as raising and training pokemon are concerned. Before we left, we both agreed to have the first year of each of our careers documented by Candice to see who had the most success in their rookie year."

    As Zoey continues, "One of the objectives in our competition against each other is that we each send pictures to her gym address and pose with either our newly captured pokemon, our ribbons, or in Tolon's case, his badges. We have to mail them, because Candice is so tied up in her work as a gym leader, it's not often that she can answer a video phone. Because I don't own a camera, I go into photo booths like that one," which Zoey points to, "and I get about five different pictures. So I have one to myself, a few to send to the family back home, and one for Candice. At the end of the competition, the one who's career has progressed the furthest after one year in terms of pokemon captured and gym badges or contest ribbons won will be given automatic entrance into either our next Grand Festival or League Conference courtesy of Candice."

    "My only issue is that," Zoey stops her speech to bring out the five photos to show to the attentive Ash, Dawn and Brock, and the girl matter-of-factly says while nervously chuckling "I don't raise an Aipom!"

    Ash can see it clear as day. Aipom was able to cleverly sneak into the photo booth without the knowledge of Zoey or her Shellos and got its picture taken before Zoey could do anything about it. "Awww, man!" Ash sighs, putting his hand to his head. "I'm sorry, Zoey. I...I should've watched Aipom better than I did. I...gosh, I really feel awful."

    "Ash," Zoey nervously consoles, "don't feel bad about it, man. I mean it."

    "No, Zoey." As Ash reminds the girl, "It's my fault. Is there anything that I can do to...pay you back? It's not often that you get a chance for automatic entry into a Grand Festival, and neither Aipom or I had that intent. I'd just like the chance to at least atone for it. Aipom is my responsibility, after all."

    "Well, Ash, that's really not..." Zoey stops for a second and considers what Ash just asked her. The boy, who she'll admit is quite the looker and very charming, especially when he is roped into a conversation about his pokemon is willing to do whatever he can to pay her back.

    Even though she feels somewhat bad taking advantage of Ash in this manner, Zoey nevertheless asks Ash "You mean 'anything', Ash?"

    Ash says "Yes. Anything that you want. Really. I feel bad about what went down, Zoey."

    Zoey thinks about what she would like to do for a moment, and then finally answers "Okay. I'd like to have some ice cream. Your treat, and if you don't mind, I'd like to have it with just the two of us."

    "What?" asks both Brock and Dawn out loud.

    "But," Brock stutters in a confused haze, "why?"

    "Why not?" Zoey remarks quickly. "He owes me, because for some reason, Aipom got loose and messed up my photos." Zoey then pats Ash on the shoulder twice. "Besides, it's the least that he can do for me. Right, Ash?"

    Ash starts to become red in the face, which is something that Brock notices, but does not verbally respond to. "Uhh...yeah. You're right." Ash then nervously chuckles and adds "You and I will get whatever ice cream that you want." Ash then turns to his confidants and tells them "Brock? Dawn? Meet me back here in about half an hour. Okay?"

    Brock and Dawn can only tell Ash 'Okay,' as he and Zoey head for the ice cream shop with pikachu standing on the trainer's right shoulder. While they walk away with Glameow, Aipom and Pikachu in tow, Brock can only think to himself 'What is Zoey up to? Those photos couldn't have cost that much money. Something fishy is going on here, and I'm not just thinking that because we're near a sushi cart.'

    Meanwhile, Dawn's thoughts are far less critical of the coordinator. In fact, as Ash and Zoey walked off with each other so that Ash could pay back Zoey, Dawn thinks back to a conversation that she had with Zoey at a contest house about one or two months ago.

    ---------

    "Uhh, Dawn?" Zoey asks the raven haired girl while she brushes her hair in preparation for her contest appeal. "Do you mind if I get something off of my chest that's kind of embarrassing?"

    Dawn looks towards her good friend and explains to Zoey, "Zoey, you can tell me anything. I promise you; there is someone out there in your shoes that is in all likelihood more embarrassed faced with the same kind situation you're faced with. And whatever it is, I'm sure it's not that bad. So what's this thing you'd like to get off your chest?"

    Zoey nervously smiles to Dawn, and quickly tells her "I think I have a crush on Ash."

    "Woah!" Dawn retorts. "Slow down, girl! All that registered in my mind was the word 'crush'. Now are you trying to tell me that you have a crush on someone?"

    "Yes," Zoey softly answers.

    "Who...do you have a crush on, Zoey?"

    Zoey sighs and snickers for a moment before she says "Ash Ketchum."

    Dawn couldn't believe what she just heard, and by instinct, she said to Zoey "What?"

    Downtrodden, Zoey claims "See what I told you? Embarrassing! I knew you wouldn't understand."

    "No, no, no, Zoey. Zoey," Dawn says in an attempt to redeem herself in her friend's eyes. "You misunderstood me when I said that. I wasn't making fun of you. I was just shocked. You...really do have a crush on Ash?"

    "Yeah," Zoey laconically answers.

    "What makes you so sure that you have a crush on Ash?" Dawn curiously inquires.

    Zoey gives Dawn a goofy grin and explains to Dawn, "I know that...back at the contest in Jubilife, I really pre-judged him, especially after I found out that he was also going to compete in gyms. It wasn't until afterwards when you guys cleared up that the only reason why Ash was even in the contest to begin with was because Aipom wanted to be in it. After a while, I got to see the heart that he shows for his pokemon. He really, truly cares for them and loves them." Zoey sniffles for a moment, and Dawn can sense that her friend is becoming emotional reliving the highlights of Ash Ketchum.

    "Now, I'd like to think that we are already good friends right now, and that's something that I don't want to change," Zoey admits. "But...I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't at least interested. What should I do?"

    Dawn can see where Zoey is coming from as far as her budding feelings towards Ash. She herself has felt these feelings towards a young childhood friend by the name of Kenny, but has not acted upon them as of yet, as she does not feel that she is ready for that type of a relationship as of now. Despite this, she can feel for Zoey's situation; she thinks that she is in love, and it's quite possible that that is the case, but Zoey has no idea how to handle her situation.

    Again, wanting to be a good friend, Dawn makes her suggestion to Zoey, explaining "Look, Zoey. First of all, I thank you for telling me this, and I do have some advice in how to handle this so that it turns out the way that you'd like. First of all, Ash can at times be absent minded, but very rarely is that ever the case with his pokemon. So if you're gonna pursue that type of relationship with him, remember that few people come between Ash and his pokemon. If you happen to be one of those people, then he truly does care about you...in that way."

    "All that's well and good, Dawn," Zoey tells her friend, "but how do I go about expressing my feelings to Ash?"

    Dawn gets up from her seat on the bench and holds her friend by the shoulders answering her by saying "Subtlety. After all, you don't want to overwhelm the boy. Now, I have to go do my appeal. Remember what I said," Dawn concludes as she walks towards the staging area. Zoey can only hang onto the advice given to her by her good friend and watch her as she prepares to make her introduction.

    ---------

    As Dawn relives that moment, all she can do is smile. When Zoey asked if Ash could pay her back for the photos with ice cream, it had very little if anything to do with Ash paying back Zoey for the messed up photos. Zoey was making her first move in an attempt to let Ash know of her feelings. 'Remember, Zoey. Subtlety,' Dawn cheerfully thinks to herself as she goes to do some window shopping while she has the next 30 minutes or so.

    ---------

    After about 25 minutes, both Ash and Zoey have finished their frozen treats, which Ash treated Zoey for in exchange of the Aipom photos, or so Ash thought. While Ash decided to make the best of an otherwise embarrassing situation and got a large banana split with all the fixings, Zoey went for a more modest route so as not to entirely exploit the boy by ordering a chocolate and banana milkshake. Ash also decided to treat his number one pokemon by giving the electric mouse a bottle of tomato juice, but Pikachu didn't have much if any of the vegetable puree.

    Zoey got to get a firsthand look at Ash Ketchum eating a banana split and thought that it was extremely cute, especially when he would lick the whipped cream from the corners of his mouth and played with the cherry and cherry string afterwards.

    The redhead decides that the only way that she can open the door to a deeper relationship with the trainer is to start conversation. She begins with the obvious question, "Did you enjoy your banana split, Ash?"

    Ash smiles and rubs his stomach telling Zoey "Sure did! What about your milkshake?"

    "Oh, yeah!" Zoey heartily but uneasily responds. "But I can't help but think that chocolate and bananas would be something that Aipom would really like."

    Ash's cheerfulness is once again shot down at the mere mention of Aipom, and the trainer goes into 'apology' mode. "Again Zoey, I apologize for Aipom's..."

    "Ash? Enough, alright?" Zoey says in frustration, although she is trying her best not to be rude. "I forgive you. I forgive Aipom. I've learned that your Aipom will be Aipom, and you're not the type of trainer that will stand in its way. I admire that, Ash."

    Ash is surprised to hear that come from Zoey's mouth. "Really?" he asks.

    "Really," Zoey responds. "And as far as the pictures, I'll call Candice. I'm sure she'll understand. And furthermore, you're going to meet Candice in my hometown, right?"

    "Snowpoint City?" Ash inquires as a means of confirmation to which Zoey nods. "It's one of eight gyms, isn't it?" Zoey nods to Ash's rhetorical question again. "Then that means I'll be there, and I'll beat the pride of your city while I'm at it, too!"

    At that point, you could have colored Zoey amazed. 'That confidence. I love that about him. Absolutely nobody can tell him that he'll lose,' thinks Zoey.

    "Well," Zoey begins out loud, "when you meet Candice...and beat her," Zoey explains with a suffixed chuckle, "tell her that you know Zoey Aiken, and if I'm not able to get to her before you do, the Aipom in the picture still won't count against me."

    "Yeah," Ash concurs, "but I doubt that any of the pictures are worth anything to you right now. I mean, you did say that you send them to not only Candice, but some of your family members, and...I doubt that they would be interested in a picture with you and my Aipom quite clearly on display."

    "Well," Zoey begins, not really knowing where to start, "they might not be interested, but..." Zoey then takes out the photos once more, "I'd like to keep them, if you don't mind. Aipom reminds me of you, and..." Zoey stops and remembers Dawn's advice. She continues, saying "I like you, a lot. Every time I think of Aipom, I think of you, because naturally, Aipom and his attitude are both an extension of you. I get this...giddy feeling when I see Aipom's smile, and I know that he loves being your pokemon because you show him nothing but the best of your love. Whenever you decide to be in a serious relationship with another girl, I'm sure that they'll get that same type of love and affection that you show to Aipom, Pikachu and your other pokemon."

    Ash is somewhat jolted by this lengthy admission from Zoey and is curious as to whether she is inferring something deeper than what she is speaking. "Are you...trying to tell me something that's on your mind, Zoey?"

    Zoey decides to make her move here and now, as Ash has left the door open for her to truly speak her mind. She knows that by going this route, she is no longer following Dawn's sage advice to be subtle in her admission of affection, but if she holds in her feelings any longer, the girl feels as if she'll crack. Even if Ash doesn't return the feelings, she will be content knowing that she hasn't kept this secret from her friend before it becomes too late.

    "Ash," Zoey says, shivering just thinking about that name, "When I say that I like you, I mean it...but not just as friends." Zoey then caresses the soft face of the trainer and continues "I like you Ash...as more than just a friend." Zoey takes a deep breath and admits "I'm sorry. I just had to get that out. You can say or do whatever you want, but I just had to let you know how I felt." Frustrated, Zoey stands up and tells Ash "Thanks for the milkshake. I'll see you around," and she leaves for the exit.

    "Zoey? Wait!" Ash exclaims as he quickly walks towards the exit and to Zoey while Pikachu gets up from the counter to play catch up. The tomboy turns around and meets the glaze of the boy that she has become so infatuated with over the past few months. "You really mean it? You...love me?"

    Zoey timidly smiles and admits "Yes. I know. It's quite embarrassing, but yeah. I do love you. You probably don't love me back, but if there is ever some time in the future..."

    Zoey is not able to finish her impromptu admission to Ash, because she just got kissed by the boy on her right cheek. Zoey is left dumbfounded by the action, and finds it hard to even breathe knowing what Ash just did.

    "You know, it's clear that you haven't learned much from the first time that we met, Zoey," Ash softly and carefully admits. "You said that I shouldn't be competing in contests and gyms at the same time, even though Jubilife was a one time only deal for Aipom. I must say that after your comments about having Dawn raise Aipom, I seriously considered it for a day or so. But then, I realized that I don't have to take advice all of the time, even if it is meant with the greatest of sincerity."

    "I only said that," Zoey defends, "because I felt that if Aipom wanted to compete in contests so badly, she should be with a coordinator that can better focus her talents in that direction."

    "Well, Aipom does get the chance to be in contests, though," Ash happily explains, "only this time, it's with Dawn, as she gets to borrow Aipom for appeals or battling. Anyway, what I meant after I kissed you was that you had said that I probably don't return your feelings, and you were willing to just walk away content with just letting me know how you felt. I was...a tad turned off, because, again, you were judging before you even gave me the chance to tell you what was on my mind. Who knows? I could be absolutely infatuated with you, and you would have never known because you're so stuck in your ways thinking that I could never return your feelings."

    Ash's words have a great affect on Zoey. The fact is that Ash is absolutely correct, and it hits Zoey like a ton of bricks. Indeed, Zoey can go back in time and find several examples of being too quick to judge people, especially those that she cares for, extensively. Zoey prejudged Dawn for thinking that she was making fun of the fact that she harbored feelings for Ash. She sadly frowns, puts her head down and starts to tear up. Even if Ash didn't return her feelings, Ash made a great point that most of her relationships would be sabotaged from the onset because of Zoey's judgmental attitude.

    "I..." Zoey tearfully begins, "I need to do better. You're right. I mean, I can't see inside of your mind and figure out what you're thinking. I-- I need help, though. I can't change overnight."

    Ash carefully holds Zoey by the shoulders and then brings her chin up so that he can see the girl's face. He uses his thumb to get the tears out of the eyes and the face of Zoey. "Don't cry, Zoey. No more tears, now. Nobody is telling you that this has to be an overnight change, but the most important thing is that you make the change. We all have the ability to change if we just allow ourselves to do it. You wanna change, right?"

    "I do," she sniffles, "but...how? I've done this without thinking about the people I judge for years, now. What can I do?"

    Ash smiles and gives the grieving girl a hug. Ash answers Zoey by explaining, "You can take it one day at a time, and if you need help, I just want you to know that...someone who really loves and cares for you will be only one call away whenever you need him."

    Zoey does not exactly comprehend what Ash just told her and asks "What do you mean? Who's this person that can help me?"

    Ash releases some of the pressure from his hug, looks Zoey square in the eyes and tells her "Me," before he gives Zoey a kiss, this time, on the lips. Zoey is more than elated to return the affection, and kisses back while even more tears come out of her eyes, which are about as red as her hair.

    The two kissed, and did so with animated emotion and vigor behind the action, but with no subtlety to speak of. They were showing this affection while each of them remained inside of the confines of the ice cream shop and a audience of about 15 people or so saw the entire scenario take place under a hushed silence as they didn't know what to think. The confession, the kiss on the cheek, the conclusion of Zoey's character made by Ash, the tears shed by Zoey and the confession by Ash Ketchum all came together to form quite the arena and the setting for love.

    Regrettably, the newly formed twosome had to let go. As Ash gets a good look at his watch while in an embrace and a kiss with Zoey, he releases his grip from Zoey in shock. "Oh, Zoey! I'm sorry. I told Brock and Dawn that I'd meet up with them in half an hour and we've been here for over an hour! Oh! I wish we could stay together longer, but...they've gotta be worried sick! Come on! Let's find them together!"

    "Uhh, Ash?" Zoey calmly states, "I don't think we need to go that far. Look." Zoey points to an area in the ice cream shop and Ash sees Brock and Dawn. Like just about everyone else in the shop, they are shocked. Despite this unexpected turn of events for both Brock and Dawn, Dawn has the trace of a smile on her face knowing that Zoey has accomplished something very important to her--and it has paid off.

    "Umm, yeah," Dawn says, trying to subdue her elation for her good friend. Dawn drags the near motionless Brock near the direction of Ash and Zoey, and states "I think Brock and I can wait a little longer. I'm sure you two have a lot to discuss, so is another half hour all right for you?"

    Ash and Zoey both give each other nervous glances knowing that their kiss has become public knowledge to their friends. Perfect strangers knowing about it is something that they could care less about, but friends are a different story entirely. But then Ash clearly sees the smile on Dawn's face. As far as Brock is concerned, he might be a little jealous that Ash has found someone, but the trainer gathers that he'll get over it eventually.

    "Yeah," Ash answers after some apprehensiveness. "Thanks Dawn, and whenever Brock comes out of his trance, tell him that I said don't feel bad about it. Okay? Oh! Could you also watch over pikachu while you two are together?"

    "Will do," Dawn says as she prepares to take Brock and Ash's pikachu out of the shop. Before she takes two steps, Dawn turns back to Ash, specifically, and says "Oh! I need to tell you something, Ash--actually, I need to tell you two things. One is that I need to first and foremost apologize for my comments to you earlier about you not being a good trainer for Aipom. I'm sorry. I acted like a jerk, and...it was uncalled for."

    "It's okay, Dawn," Ash responds by patting the blue-haired coordinator on her right shoulder two times. "Besides, I don't feel bad about what you said. Not listening to every bit of criticism out there has its advantages. Imagine if I took everyone's advice? You would have been raising Aipom, I would continuously be doubting myself due to people doubting me over the years, and, well..." Ash stops to give a mouth to mouth kiss to Zoey once again. This time, the kiss only lasts a few seconds before Ash pulls away and explains to Dawn "If I had listened to Zoey when she said that I probably didn't return her feelings, I wouldn't be able to do what you just saw us do."

    "Sometimes, it's good to not listen, especially if your heart is telling you something important, right?" Dawn states.

    Ash tentatively says, "Yeah, sometimes. But...wasn't there something else that you wanted to say to me?"

    "Yeah," Dawn admits. "I knew that Zoey has had a crush on you for a while, now. She confided in me, and I gave her the advice to be subtle in her approach," and Dawn directs her next words to Zoey, exclaiming "that she didn't follow!"

    "I know, Dawn," Zoey humorously laments, "but to his credit, Ash left the door open for me to let him know my feelings. I had to seize the moment, you know?" Zoey dreamily looks at Ash and concludes "And I'm so glad that I did."

    "So am I, Zoey," Ash agrees.

    "Pikachu, Brock and I will leave you two be, for now," Dawn tells the pair. "See ya later."

    "Dawn, wait!" Zoey exclaims as Dawn continues to maneuver the immobile Brock to and fro while Pikachu rests upon her white hat. Upon hearing her name, Dawn turns around to see Zoey come up to her in a hurry.

    "Now, don't think that it's weird of me or anything," Zoey begins, "but I feel the need to apologize to you for something that happened about two months ago. I'm sorry for saying that you were making fun of me for having a crush on Ash before I got to know the whole story. That was wrong of me to pre-judge you like that, and I...need to work on it," Zoey then turns her head over to the direction of Ash Ketchum and grins. As she turns back to Dawn's direction, she finishes her sentence by proclaiming "and I will work on it, because I'm getting some help along the way from someone very special."

    Dawn pulls her friend close to her in an embrace and says in her ear "Good for you." Dawn releases the embrace after about 10 seconds and explains "Now, if you ask me, I think that someone is sorta lonely right now," as she points to Ash, who is now sitting on one of the mall benches. Zoey gets the hint, and tells Dawn that she'll see her later. Zoey then joins Ash on the bench, but not before stealing a quick peck on the lips.

    "So, what did you and Dawn talk about?" Ash inquires.

    "Change," Zoey answers. "I made my first step to change. I apologized to Dawn for thinking that she had made fun of my crush on you."

    "And?" Ash wonders.

    Zoey shakes her head for a moment and then adds "It felt great. I know you said that this is something that I had to do one day at a time, and...taking that approach and coming to you for help and advice could be just what I need."

    After 30 minutes or so of each party bearing their souls to each other and coming to a better understanding of their feelings for one another, Dawn and a rejuvenated Brock come back towards Ash and Zoey's direction. The new pair both sigh sadly in each other's direction with the reality of knowing that they must part at hand.

    'Shakespeare was full of it,' Zoey silently ponders. 'Parting is not such sweet sorrow. Parting just sucks.'

    "Well," Ash says out loud, "Unfortunately, Zoey, it's time for me to go. But, I'll be sure to talk to you in the near future."

    "Okay," Zoey returns as they both get up from the bench and share a final kiss.

    "I love you, Zoey," Ash says, almost despondent.

    "I love you too, Ash. Hey," Zoey consoles, even though she is sad to see her new boyfriend go "Like you said, we'll see each other again soon. There's a contest coming up in about a week. Maybe we'll run into each other."

    "Yeah," Ash remarks, even though there is clear sadness in his voice. "Maybe. Good bye, Zoey," Ash concludes as he depressingly walks away from Zoey to Brock and Dawn.

    "Ash! Wait up!" Zoey screams out after 15 seconds or so.

    "Huh?" the trainer exclaims as he sees his girlfriend quickly coming to him with a small object in her right hand. When Zoey opens her palm, Ash sees it first hand. It is one of the wallet sized photos with Zoey, her Shellos and Ash's Aipom altogether.

    "Here," Zoey tells Ash. "I probably should have given it to you sooner, but...I want you to have it to remember me by, even though I know we'll see each other again soon."

    Ash smiles and tells Zoey "Thanks! Maybe one day, I'll get into the picture."

    Zoey laughs and informs her beau that "But you're already in the picture, Ash; my big picture, and I wouldn't have it any other way."

    Ash goofily chuckles and says "Aw, shucks," and leans forward once more. Before Ash and Zoey can lock lips again, however, Brock turns the tables on his love struck friend by tugging him by the ear and dragging him to the direction of the mall exit.

    Brock remarks "Unfortunately, if we leave it in your care, this picture will be worth a billion words," and then Brock says "We'll see you later, Zoey," while he is dragging Ash. Everyone with the exception of Brock sweat drops at the scene and Zoey watches as Ash shrugs his shoulders upon his involuntary departure. Right before going through the automatic doors, Ash blows a kiss to Zoey, which causes her to return the action in kind before Ash and company are finally out of sight.

    When Ash is finally gone, Zoey deplorably puts her head down. "He just...he just left! And I already miss him!" she laments as she starts to cry once again. "I'm not even listening to my own advice now that he's gone. I told him we'd see each other again, but I'm not listening because I don't wanna listen! I want Ash!" Then Zoey comes to the very real conclusion. "I'm lovesick," she says while sadly smiling. "I hate the fact that I don't get to spend as much time with him as I'd like to, but...the fact that I'm even with him is something I can't help but love."

    Zoey then goes into her pocket and pulls out the now infamous pictures with Aipom in them. Sniffling, she can't help but love looking at the smiling face of Aipom. It reminded the girl so much of Ash Ketchum, but these feelings didn't make her sad. How could she be sad looking at the grin of Aipom and always thinking about that same grin on Ash's face the next time they saw each other.

    "Thanks, Aipom," Zoey quietly says to herself. "for bringing Ash into the picture...and not listening, too."

    ---------

    Initially intended to be a one shot, this is now a chaptered story with two coming soon. Your thoughts?
    Last edited by Rave The Rich; 6th July 2009 at 3:15 AM.

  2. #2
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    Another oneshot of yours that is becoming a chaptered story. But still, its a nice read. And I haven't seen many FireRedshipping fics.

    A nice break from what's going on in All Roads Lead to the Grand Festival.
    Its up; The Sinnoh Journey. The story is http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?t=334150
    Proud to be a Scarfshipper.

  3. #3
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    Finally, a FireRedShipping fic 8D! It used to be my het OTP, and I still rather like it, so this pretty awesome.
    Ash and Zoey seem to have really good chemistry (imo, it was a little too early to have the confession, but considering it was a oneshot, the pacing was still pretty good) and Dawn and Brock were very much IC. The one-sided Penguinshipping intrigues me, and it would be interesting if Dawn is pursuing Kenny, and Kenny is completely oblivious, since it's usually the other way around in fanfictions.
    I just found one little thing:
    "I could be absolutely infatuated with you, and you would have never known because your so stuck in your ways thinking that I could never return your feelings."
    "Your" should be "You're"...I'm sorry to be nitpicky, it's just my "thing" on which I need to work ^^;.
    {New icon currently under construction C:}
    You can call me Liberty4Pokemon, Liberty, or Libby (my given name), whatever floats your boat! =)

    Proud Namer of/Supporter of OutofSpiteShipping | Ditto on ShootsDownShipping :-*
    ^Glitter/Twinleafshipping, yuri-licious oneshot | ^ShootsDown/Penguni/AppealShipping serial <33
    Claims: Shinji/Kengo; Nozomi/Kengo; Kasumi/Hikari; Sakaki/Kaorin {AzuDai} (couples)||Gwen Stefani (celebrity)
    Nozomi is my bishie =3

  4. #4
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    Default Well, I think now's the time to reply back!

    @Lord Aggron: I really have to work hard at closing a one shot and keeping it a one shot. There aren't many Ash/Zoey fics, like you said, but I'm glad you like it and the clear change of pace from some other fics of mine.

    @Liberty4Pokemon: Yeah, I still like it. It has Zoey, so that helps! ^__^

    Thanks for the comments on the pacing. Given all the circumstances, the pacing issue turned out to be a wash. Brock and Dawn have a..fun role in this fic. Thier relationship is another unique one not seen often, and you've given me an idea for the potential PenguinShipping.

    And as far as that 'thing', that's a good thing. Please keep it. It will benefit us all.

    Now, continuing with the story, here is chapter number two!

    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3782092/...Its_Advantages

    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokemon, a creation of one Satoshi Tajiri, and is produced domestically (in the United States) by Pokemon USA/The Pokemon Company, and internationally by Shogakukan and OLM. I personally own nothing and make nothing by writing this. Please do not flame.

    (Chapter 2- First Date: Part One)

    ---------

    Whether it is his nervousness or the weather tonight, Mother Nature decided to make what would have been a very cool November evening in more ways than one unseasonably warm. The temperature, which would usually be around the upper forties during the twilight, is almost seventy degrees and has been like this for the past three days. Either way, Ash Ketchum has been sweating most of the water out of his body for the past fifteen minutes as he awaits someone special this evening. It probably doesn’t help matters given that he is wearing a suit, carrying a small box in his right hand and is very uncomfortable given the humidity outdoors.

    While traveling with Brock and Dawn over the past couple of months, both of them have noticed several positive and refreshing changes with their buddy, Ash. One of the changes was in his temperament, and whenever he would get angry, instead of yelling out his frustrations to any of his friends or enemies, he would just walk away from the situation. Another change is Ash being more helpful in the camping and cooking of meals for their trio, including the pokemon. If they had to venture to guess what it was that sparked this turn for the pokemon master to be, they would answer using one simple name; Zoey.

    Ash Ketchum would agree wholeheartedly.

    Since he and Zoey got together during an otherwise embarrassing exchange at a local Pastoria City mall some months ago involving his Aipom, which now belongs to Dawn after a trade for Buizel, just about everything has changed for him. His head, while clear on most things like his training, capturing and battling methods is often complicated as far as the matters of love and the heart are concerned.

    Admittedly, he has never felt this way about any other girl before in his life. Of course, he’s found several girls before him to be attractive and what not, but not once with any of those girls did he ever feel as if he was on the same plane with them as he does with Zoey. He has grown over these past couple of months and even though he and his new girlfriend do not travel together, they have talked extensively through video phones and seen each other a couple of times since the aforementioned incident at the mall.

    Conversations between the two young people over the past week have involved one subject in particular that Zoey brought up after a talk of theirs which lasted well over an hour. She realized that despite their many rendezvous since the change in their friendship, there is one thing that the two of them have not done that people in love do if for no other reason than because they love one another. It is the reason why he is outside a restaurant wearing a suit this Friday evening in Snowpoint City.

    “My first date ever,” Ash softly comprehends. To say that the young man is a ball of nerves does not do his emotions justice on this night. Ever since the day he and Zoey shared their first kiss, the trainer has just been winging it. Not a single pokemon battle with a gym leader, league conference or difficult capture of a pocket monster throughout his career could possibly compare to the arduous waiting game he is playing as he awaits the arrival of his girlfriend by pacing back and forth to kill some time. “I wonder what she’ll wear?” he ponders. Smiling, he forms the conclusion “Well, whatever it is, I have a feeling that it will be great.”

    Wondering, wishing and waiting while wandering around the front of the four-star restaurant known as Icicle, he says a silent prayer that nothing goes wrong this evening. One would rightfully accuse him of worrying himself to the bone thinking that something is not as it should be, and that Zoey is running late for some reason. Had he chosen to get a poketch like his friend Dawn and his girlfriend, then he would know that Zoey is not even relatively late. In his effort to make everything right for the night, Ash came about forty-five minutes early just to confirm his reservation.

    Checking the small bag in his hand one more time to make sure that the gift is inside, Ash sighs in relief as he finds the small red box in the bottom of the package. Given the fact that everything he is experiencing with Zoey is new and foreign to him, there are several things that he forgot throughout the dating process. For one, he knew that the place that he was going to tonight was a formal spot…but he neglected to get fitted with a tuxedo until that morning. Luckily, the shops were open and Brock fitted the bill as Ash spent whatever money he had on the cover charge for reservations to Icicle and the gift for Zoey.

    Throughout the week, Ash has heard advice and suggestions from both of his friends, with Brock claiming that telling Zoey how beautiful she looks and pretending to listen to whatever she says will give him points. He also said that he would not have to do much talking tonight as Zoey will pull much of the weight in that department. Dawn would often counter most of Brock’s so-called advice and take a more grounded approach on the matter. She made it clear to Ash that Zoey fell for him because he is himself and not someone else. She added that trying to be something he is not will catch him in a lie than anyone, boy or girl, will see right through. Ash said that he would consider each one’s words, but sided with neither of them.

    Around the middle of the week, Ash felt that he had everything in order, even though the problems with the tuxedo would arise on Friday morning to give him a rude awakening. Though what he did on Wednesday afternoon is not out of the ordinary for him, he has to admit that it is one of the most unique talks that he has ever had. It was not a long talk, but it was an important one that boosted the young man’s confidence somewhat and covered a base he naturally forgot while mired in his other plans for Friday.

    FLASHBACK

    Patiently waiting for the person on the other end of the line to pick up the phone, Ash takes in the scene at the pokemon center in the outskirts of Snowpoint City. It’s a mild day in the northern municipality compared to most and being inside the center, he feels no real difference between the phone room and outdoors. Having already called Zoey earlier in the morning to iron out the final details of their date in two days time, there is one other person who the trainer feels can give him some great advice before he enters uncharted territory.

    Not quite ten seconds after dialing the number, he gets a glimpse of a woman in her mid thirties with a bandana over her medium brown hair and a sky blue blouse, which is all he can see at the moment.

    “Ash, honey!” she speaks from the other line. The lady, until Zoey came along, stood alone as Ash’s favorite woman in his life. That woman is, of course, his mother Delia.

    “Hi, mom!” he replies. “Am I interrupting something?”

    “Oh, no dear. I just did some housecleaning today. That’s why I look so…different. So was there anything you wanted to talk to me about?”

    “Mom, you’re reading my mind,” he says in a playful but scolding manner. “Yes, there is something that has been on my mind for the past several days. It has to do with Zoey.”

    “Oh, Zoey,” she dreamily reiterates. “My son’s first girlfriend. And to think it wasn’t that long ago that you were taking about never falling in love. I know that you were only seven at the time and you and Gary had your journeys on your minds full time then, but I think that given everything you’ve done in your career, I wasn’t sure. I never got this call before about you finding someone special, so…to hear this now is very nice. I know you’re fourteen and you are doing a lot of growing up in a very short time. Just promise me that you’ll take this slow.”

    “Mom, please!” Ash pleads with the woman. Delia notices him turning away from the screen a couple of times, likely due to the embarrassment of possibly facing a conversation tantamount to the birds and the bees, which he heard not that long after he first left home. “My goodness! That’s the furthest thing from my mind right now, I guarantee you that. She’s just hit twelve a couple of months ago, so…I can do without it mom. I will do without it. Besides, what would that say about Zoey and me?” Pausing to check the reaction of his mother, Ash is redeemed in his mind to see Delia nodding her head saying that her son is right and is making a great deal of sense. “You wouldn’t be too pleased with me if we didn’t take this slow given our age. I just have a girlfriend, mom, and I don’t know if we could be doing this any slower, quite frankly. In fact, that’s the reason why I called you.”

    “Come again, Ash?”

    “Zoey and I are going to go on our first date very soon,” he says, hesitation free.

    “You haven’t gone on a date yet with her?”

    “Well yes…and no. As a couple, we haven’t gone on a date, but before that, we did have an ice cream date that convinced me to ask her if she were interested in a relationship beyond just being friends. I’ve told you all of this and my feelings.”

    “Yeah, you liked her love for pokemon more than anything else and you liked her sincerity,” Delia reminds her son. “It was very refreshing to hear that because I’ve had my share of boyfriends over the years. While it’s nice for girls to hear that they have beautiful eyes, a great smile or anything physical like that, keep in mind, Ash, that it’s important for any young girl or woman to know that they are more than just the way they look.”

    “I know that, mom. Believe me; I’m not with Zoey because she’s a model type or anything of the sort. I just…I see a lot of herself in me. She aims for success in everything she does and that’s admirable. She’s got a great sense of humor, as I’ve come to learn, and she loves her family. What more could you possibly ask for, mom?”

    “Those are all things that we look for in people,” Delia affirms. “Great personalities, high moral standing and attention to detail…but I think we went off topic there for a second. You said that this would be your first actual date with Zoey as boyfriend and girlfriend.”

    “Yes, ma’am.”

    “May I rightfully assume that you called me looking for some advice for your date?”

    “Well…yes, I did. I don’t know how much help they can give me, but I asked Dawn and Brock and now, I want to know what you think about my date.”

    “Ash, you’ve come to the right place,” she assures her son. “I’ll tell you everything you need to know before your date on…when is it?”

    “This Friday.”

    “Wow, then I don’t have much time, do I?” she jokingly responds. “It seems like you’ll just have to settle for the crash course. Okay are you listening, Ash?”

    “Yes, ma’am. I’m all ears.”

    “Okay. Above everything else that you can do on your date, just have fun and be yourself. There’s no blueprint for a perfect date and you shouldn’t treat the date like a life or death situation if some things don’t go as planned. Neither of you are experts on the subject as of yet, so don’t get frazzled or intimidated by anything you might not expect. Go with the flow and, preferably, go at her pace. As clichéd as it might sound, you want to make her feel like a princess to your prince. Let her lead with conversation, but don’t be afraid to interject at times.”

    “I get the feeling that I should be writing some of this down,” Ash interrupts with concern laden in his voice and confusion in the midst of his mind.

    His mother simply laughs and says, “Don’t worry, son. You will be fine. I wanna hear you say it; you will be fine.”

    A few seconds of silence pass. In Delia’s mind, she does not feel that her son is sharing the same confidence about his date. “Ash, please say it! It’s not the end of the world, no matter what happens on Friday with your date. Zoey won’t leave you because you happen to make mistakes in something new and different to you. You know that, right?”

    “Yes,” he says. Then, after mulling over his mother’s words for a bit he adds, “You’re right. Zoey doesn’t have to have…the perfect date in order for Friday night to be great. I’ll be fine. I just have to be there for her, and everything else will fall into place.”

    “That’s the spirit! Like I said and like I’ll continue to say, you’ll be fine. And…this is something you might want to think about, but you have to do it unless you want to. Have you gotten Zoey a gift of some sort?”

    “A…gift? No, I really didn’t think about that.”

    Sighing for a second, Delia questions why she isn’t surprised, but doesn’t say any of this out loud. “Well, you ought to think about it, Ash. I’m not telling you that you need to break the bank, but you know your girlfriend. Get her something that…she’ll like. Just remember to be creative with it and she won’t be able to thank you enough times.”

    Nodding while taking every word in of his mother, the native of Pallet is convinced that once more, mother knows best. “Thank you, mom. You always know what I need to do. Why is that?”

    “It’s simple; I’ve been where you’re going,” she explains. “After much trial and error, I understand what it takes to succeed in many different areas. I’m your mother, but I’m also your guide, Ash. So…don’t be afraid to come to me for advice on this and whatever else. I know you, son. I know that you are headstrong, stubborn and independent to a fault. From everything you’ve told me, Zoey is a lot like that, as well. I think it’s just great that you found someone with the same qualities that you have.” Pausing for a second to collect herself, Delia continues, “I really think that you should travel with her. Long distance relationships—now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to tell you that long distance relationships don’t work. I just think that if you really wanted to get to know Zoey, you would be with her all the time.”

    Ash agrees with his mom. Among the many topics which he and Zoey have spoken about over the months was the possibility of coming together on a trek through the remainder of the Sinnoh region. Though the idea is something both like and would like to happen, they are not sure how to go about it. Over their many talks, they did not know if they wanted to go at it alone leaving Brock and Dawn behind or have Zoey come in and have a group of four just like when he made his rounds through Hoenn and Kanto. Their only problem is that they do not know what they want to do, which is why they have not made any decision or talked to anybody about it.

    “I’ve thought about it, mom. Hey, I wanna let you know that…I’m gonna introduce you to Zoey very soon,” Ash claims, dodging his mom’s prior statement about traveling arrangements. “I’ll bring her home and you’ll get to see her for yourself.”

    “Okay,” she says, conceding that she won’t hear much about the matter for whatever reason. “Well, good luck on your date, Ash. Once you have time, tell me about it. Do we have a deal?”

    “I’ll talk to you then.”

    “Bye,” Delia replies and both of them hang up their respective phones.

    END FLASHBACK

    The conversation with his mother, advice from his friends, buying a gift for Zoey and getting fitted for a tuxedo this morning has prepared Ash for his first date as best as he could. Feeling that it would be best to invest some money into a watch in the near future, he is turned from his current thoughts as he feels something resting on his shoulder.

    Turning his head he sees an angel, or to put it more correctly, someone who wears the color white very well. Before him is the star of the evening in his mind. Zoey has come to him on this unusually warm evening in a tuxedo of her own. It contrasts Ash’s perfectly as it is white with a white tie and a black handkerchief in the breast pocket of the suit. Below the suit, Zoey sports a black collared shirt and her hair, like her boyfriend’s hair, remains as wild and unruly as ever, especially in the humidity and her eyes remain covered by her signature sunglasses.

    “Hello, Zoey,” Ash greets with the smile on his face never departing.

    “Good evening, Ash,” she answers back, taking off her sunglasses and giving her boyfriend a good look at her rustic brown eyes for the first time in several days.

    Though both are familiar with each other, they both hesitate as they come together in a hug; their first hug in about three weeks. Whether it is the unique situation they find themselves in with a formal date or some other unmentioned factor, each partner appears more willing to take things slow as they share a light kiss on the lips while in the midst of their hug.

    Releasing their hold on one another, Zoey asks a question that has been on her mind since meeting Ash outside of the restaurant entrance. “Why aren’t you inside?”

    “I wasn’t sure if you wanted to sit inside the main room of the restaurant or outside on the lanai,” he explains. “I didn’t want to decide anything without talking with you first. I don’t know if I’ve been in a restaurant this fancy in about three years or so. Usually, when I eat, I don’t make it into much of a special occasion. I just eat. But…you’re the one who suggested it and I want to make you happy by doing something that you wanted to do. That’s why I’m here. And…I don’t mind waiting for you out here. I see you sooner this way.”

    Leaning forward and giving the young teen a kiss on the cheek, Zoey comments, “Ash, that’s very sweet of you. But I must warn you that if you stay out here too long, you’ll sweat down to almost nothing.” This latest quip from Zoey makes Ash laugh once more. Patting the trainer on his back, she says, “Come on. Let’s go inside.”

    As the two walk hand in hand to the front door of Icicle, Zoey begins the first of many conversations between the two by talking about the restaurant’s food. “I haven’t been here since about a year ago with my family, but every time I come here, whatever I eat is fantastic. You like seafood?”

    “I love it.”

    “Well, Icicle has been ranked as the best place for steak and seafood in the Sinnoh region four years in a row,” she states before going up to the front desk, informing them, “Ketchum; party of two, please.”

    “Very well,” the maitre d’ says, as he asks them a question, “Would you like a seat in the dining hall or outside?”

    Looking towards each other for the answer, Ash makes the first move. “It’s your call, Zoey. Wherever you wanna eat is fine with me.”

    Truth be told, the decision was not a difficult one for the tomboy to make at all. Though she has no idea how much time her beau spent outside waiting for her, he looked like he just stepped out of the sauna of a local Snowpoint bathhouse. In Zoey’s mind, perhaps heading inside will help Ash cool down some. “We’ll eat inside, thank you.”

    Smiling back to the hometown girl, the man at the front desk says, “All right. Follow me.” He leads the pair to a table off into one of the corners of the lightly-dimmed restaurant. As both Ash and Zoey meander through the many different sections of Icicle, they notice the great architecture including large statues of snowflakes, mountainous snow peaks and paintings of such landscapes with murals adorning the ceiling containing life-sized pictures reminiscent of many scenes of the winter season. They also notice the many modern perks of the swank eatery including the replacement of pillars to hold up portions of the building with large faux icicles that have the tips facing downward just like icicles that would form during a snowstorm. Candles on each table are clear blue and in a similar shape as the pillars. Music in the background gives off a feeling of coziness as the faint but noticeable sounds of wind during a blizzard are played for the paying guests.

    As they walk, they notice more than the aesthetically pleasing atmosphere of Icicle. They come across more than their share of couples out to eat for dinner, fellow coordinators, trainers and families out on the town. While most of the women and girls are adorned in elegant gowns and stylized dresses for their meal, Zoey is the epitome of the exception to this unwritten rule. With her white tuxedo, she seems to stick out like a sore thumb compared to the other ladies whose beauty is only accentuated by their outerwear. The same would be said about Zoey, but few people call those who wear tuxedos ‘beautiful’.

    They look at her funny given that she is walking along with a male companion while wearing what is for all intents and purposes men’s clothing, but the stares which she receives are no different than what she gets at some contests. She all but expected the attention and got it.

    Dealing with the stares just like admiring the interior comes to a head, though, as both Ash and Zoey are led to their table for the evening situated near one of the restaurants windows, which gives a great view of the lanai and the people dining on it. Once seated, the maitre d’ gives both partners a menu to check over and lets them know that their server will be coming in just a couple of minutes to get their drink orders and leaves the two alone. Ash sits his bag next to his chair on the floor not sure what to think about the fact that the girl across from her has not mentioned it at all or even asked about its contents.

    While Zoey opens the menu to look for something eye-catching, her counterpart thinks it would be a good idea to start some conversation. “This is a great looking place. I tell you, if the food is half as good as the building, I’m in for something special.”

    “Oh, you are,” she says, scanning the menu for something that will grab her attention.

    “Did you notice those people…staring when we walked to our table?”

    “Ash, it is hard to not notice the stares. But that’s what I get for being myself. If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m not a girly-girl. I haven’t owned a dress since I was probably…six years old. Luckily, the dress code is formal and I get to wear what I like.”

    “I feel like I’m watching you at your best, though,” Ash compliments. “Do you know what I’m trying to say? You’ve got class and you can obviously see that on the outside, but over these last few months, I’ve been real blessed to see that class on the inside as well. It shouldn’t matter how you dress. Clothes don’t make the person.”

    “Wow! That was awfully nice of you to say, Ash. I know I’m not the most endearing person out there, but believe me when I say I try.”

    “What to do you mean, ‘not endearing’?” he asks, his interest peaked.

    “Well…I read the newspapers and magazines. It helps to pass the time while I’m out on the road,” Zoey explains. “They don’t pull any punches whatsoever. I see forum posts on coordinating and it’s the same thing, only they are harsher in their language. I’ve been called…every name in the book, and it’s mostly because I’m not afraid to speak my mind.”

    “That’s not right,” Ash says, taking everything in that his girlfriend is telling her. “I read some of those things myself. I even see the news.”

    Putting her right hand to her forehead, Zoey exclaims, “Oh, God! Don’t even get me started on the news!”

    “They aren’t kind to me, either. They call me names like ‘dense’ and ‘foolish’ and Paul’s favorite word, ‘pathetic’. Eventually, I just stopped reading and listening to them. If you know that they aren’t true, then they’re garbage. Don’t get caught up in garbage. Those people staring at you? It’s just more garbage. You obviously have something that others can’t understand.”

    The voice of a cheerful young blonde in her early twenties with a dark blue, knee-length skirt and a sky blue buttoned-down blouse coming to their table, saying “Good evening you two!” takes the two young lovers away from their talk for that moment. Arriving to the table with a glass pitcher of water filled about a fifth of the way with ice, she, without missing a beat, she fills two tall glasses of water belonging to both of them and introduces herself. “Welcome to Icicle. My name is Erin, and I’ll be your server for the evening.” Pausing to hear greetings from both Zoey and Ash, she continues, “Now aside from the water that I just poured for you, is there anything else that you’d like to drink?”

    Looking at the different items available for each of them to drink before their meal and appetizers and hearing suggestions of the Icicle specials including a numerous spread of flavored cream sodas and floats, Ash makes the first selection, letting Erin know, “Those cream sodas look interesting. Have you had the…chocolate cream before?”

    “It’s great, I promise you,” she answers. “I have it myself all the time.”

    “Okay. I’ll have that.”

    “And I’ll have my own personal favorite; strawberry cream.”

    “Strawberry. Kind of like your hair,” she compliments. The comment did its job by relaxing the two of them at the table as they shared a small laugh with Erin for a few seconds. Recapping, Erin says, “So that’s one strawberry cream and one chocolate cream for the two of you. Now, I know it’s early, but would you both like an appetizer before deciding on the main meal? Our specialties of the evening in soup include clam and crab chowder, fried dumplings in gravy, ramen in broth and fifteen bean. As far as salads, the specialties for those are Caesar and garden. Our most popular appetizer is the seafood sampler, which can be served either steamed or fried. We also have fried mozzarella scallops and chips with crab dip. What do you guys think?”

    “The…appetizers sound really good,” Ash remarks as he looks at the rest of the selection. “I didn’t really plan on having soup and salad with that, though. Zoey, do you know what you want?”

    “Well, funny that I didn’t really plan on having an appetizer,” she counters.

    “Are you two together? I mean, of course you are here together eating, but are you guys dating?” Erin asks. Both of them answer yes, confirming her suspicions. “You guys look great in your tuxedos! This is great to see young people in love doing more than just going out to of age hangouts for their dates.”

    “It’s our first one,” Ash explains, “and Zoey here wanted to do something special for the first date. This is her hometown and she is competing in the contest tomorrow and afterwards, we plan on spending some time with her family so that they can get to know me and vice versa.”

    “Wait a minute? You’re name is Zoey as in Zoey Aiken, the pokemon coordinator?” Erin questions.

    Smiling while holding up her right hand, she declares herself “Guilty as charged.”

    “Wow, my niece was just on the phone with me the other day talking about how incredible you are. In fact, my sister-in-law says that you’re all that she talks about, period.”

    “Well, I’m glad that I can be such an influence to kids out there. That’s what it’s all about, Erin.” As she reaches into one of the pockets of her pants, she asks the server, “Say, what’s your niece’s name?”

    “Alexandria, but we all call her Alex.”

    “Okay,” she replies as she puts a small index card on the table along with a pen. While writing a message on the card, she asks a few more questions and finds out that Alex lives in Goldenrod City and is eight years old. As Zoey finishes, she has an instruction for Erin, telling her, “Make sure that your niece gets this and tell her that I said thanks for her support.”

    Gasping, Erin has to catch her breath. Zoey just signed an autograph for a fan without even batting an eye or making a scene or objection. Taking the index card in her hand, Erin takes a couple of seconds to look over the autograph. The stylish coordinator put more than just her calligraphy on the paper—she also added a message to Alex, which stated ‘To Alex, from Zoey. Thank you for being a fan!’

    “Oh my,” she speaks. Taking the hand of the young girl, she says, “Thank you so much for this, Zoey. My niece is gonna love me for getting this! She’s not gonna believe it! You’re gonna be the talk…for a very long time!”

    “No problem. I’ll do anything for a real fan.”

    “Hey, Zoey. What you just did right now is exactly what I was talking about earlier,” Ash reminds her. “You have class on the inside. What you wear doesn’t matter in the least bit. What you do is what makes you who you are and is the reason why I can say I love you.”

    “Thank you, Ash,” Zoey says, her voice breaking in the middle of her speaking. “I want you to know that means a lot to me. I’ve got critics like everyone else, but…it’s nice to just hear that.

    “I mean it, Zoey. I’ve never met anyone like you and that has to say something about all the girls that I’ve known over the years compared to you. Think about it.”

    “Oh, my goodness! Forgive me, you two!” Erin said, regaining control of the conversation. “In all of this…great talking that I hear from you two, I forgot the appetizers, soups and salads. I just…the things I’m hearing here are very refreshing. You can’t help but get caught up!”

    “That’s okay, Erin,” Ash insists. “We’re kind of guilty for it. We started the talk, after all. Umm…just a suggestion, Zoey, but does the seafood sampler sound good to you?”

    “Okay, that’s fine,” Zoey concedes.

    “All right, and would you two like that sampler fried or steamed?”

    Looking in one another’s direction once again, the two young people silently determine which one of the two types of appetizers that they want. As Erin patiently watches the scene with pen and pad in her right hand and the autograph in her skirt pocket, she sees Zoey nod to Ash for a brief moment; not even half of a second in length. “Fried?” she asks the young man across from her.

    “Sounds good to me,” he answers. Jotting everything down, Erin lets both of them know that their drinks will be arriving to their tables soon and leaves them alone once more.

    Once he is certain that their server is out of ear sight and eyesight, Ash makes the comment to Zoey, “She’s gonna get a nice tip when this night is over.”

    “Yeah, I like her. She’ll make this night a lot looser if we can’t do it ourselves. So, have you decided on what you’re gonna eat tonight?”

    “Well, I like steak…a lot. Seeing all of the different types, I thought that the large steak with Kobe beef would be good, and then I saw the combinations of steak and shrimp and said, there’s the best of both worlds right there. So I’m still trying to figure out…”

    Ash continues to explain the minor dilemma he faces to his girlfriend. Meanwhile, several tables away from the couple are another couple. One is wearing a blue hat, which provides covering over much of her face, including the top of her head. She also sports a blue blazer and skirt combination. The male she is with is much older, and has over his body a suit similar to the one Ash is wearing, but with a patterned tie in the place of Ash’s solid tie, which he is wearing at the moment. Another feature of note is that his hair is tied back into a ponytail and that he is wearing glasses.

    “Can you see anything, Dawn?” he asks the girl.

    “It’s difficult, Brock,” Dawn replies back to her older guide of sorts. “I can hear them faintly. Ash is talking about his meal, I think. Their waitress was at their table a long time. Who knows what Zoey or Ash could have said then? Brock, I really don’t know if we’re gonna get any answers tonight. Maybe we should just be patient and hope that they don’t decide to just leave us behind if they choose to go through Sinnoh together.”

    Hearing the faint sound of ‘pika’ from under the table, Dawn looks under the cloth, and whispers to the bag, “And you be patient too, pikachu. I’m sure the restaurant has bottles of ketchup and won’t mind sparing some for you. Just wait and you’ll get what you want.”

    Sticking her head back up from underneath the table, Dawn comes face to face with a young male waiter pouring cold water into a tall glass. “Are you and the table having a nice conversation?” he asks Dawn.

    Not missing a beat, Dawn replies, “Yes, in fact, it told me that you guys haven’t dusted underneath him for quite some time. He feels neglected.”

    Caring very little for the coordinator’s tone at the moment, Brock and Dawn’s waiter leaves in a huff, without even refilling Brock’s glass. Saying nothing, he gives the young girl a high five for putting their arrogant server in his place.

    Brock never knew hanging out with a girl he didn’t go crazy over could be so much fun.

    ---------

    Your Thoughts?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Annapolis, Maryland
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    Default Now Comes Chapter Three!

    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3782092/...Its_Advantages

    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokemon, a creation of one Satoshi Tajiri, and is produced domestically (in the United States) by Pokemon USA/The Pokemon Company, and internationally by Shogakukan and OLM. I personally own nothing and make nothing by writing this. Please do not flame.

    (Chapter 3- First Date: Part Two)

    The dinner at Icicle does not need to come quickly in order to satisfy the young couple. After all, Zoey and Ash have quite a bit to discuss and little time to do it. The restaurant is known for excellent service as they have quickly found out with Erin.

    “This night has been…great so far,” Ash comments. “I couldn’t have thought that this night would be this nice. It’s nothing terribly exciting, earth shattering, but it feels right. You know when things just feel right and you can’t exactly say why?”

    Before answering the question, Zoey chuckles for a bit. It appears that Ash is hitting at a personal point that she knows quite well herself. “I know the feeling. It’s like when I put on a good-fitting tuxedo and head out to a contest house and do my thing, you know? I don’t know what it was that brought on this love for pokemon coordinating, but when I’m out there, it feels like this is where I belong right here and right now. That’s the feeling that I am getting right now with you on my first date.”

    “You feel like this is where you belong?”

    “Absolutely,” she claims. “But I gotta say that I get chills when I think about it all, to be honest. The fact is all of this is new and different than just me traveling alone and being on my own. It’s a good ‘different’, though. I look forward to us talking on the phone for as long as…two hours a day or night. I’ve got something besides my…I hate to call it work, but that’s what I do for a living is coordinate and I have something that I can anticipate doing every day.”

    “Will you look at Zoey over there, Dawn?” Brock asks her while they look over at the other table in their disguises. “She certainly has a lot of emotion inside of her that she letting out. And Ash is doing the best thing he can do given the circumstances…he’s listening, or at least pretending to listen.” This commentary from Brock earns him a slap on the shoulder from his eating buddy at the other end of their table.

    “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course he is listening to her! He’d better, or Zoey will let out more than just her emotions. Trust me on this one, Brock! I’ve been around the girl long enough to know that even though she’s got a temper if you test her. She saw this trainer from her hometown of Snowpoint City who had this odd name. Give me a second, I think it was,” it takes five times more time than Dawn thinks it would to come up with the name, but she finally understands that the name of the person in question was, “Tolon Wilkes. Brock, when Zoey saw Tolon on the television screen in a contest some months ago she got really ticked off. I wanted to ask her what it was about that boy that drew her ire so much, but…I didn’t want to press her at all.”

    “That reminds me of Ash. Not a little bit, but a lot,” Brock comments, interrupting Dawn. “I can remember when he just started out. He’d get ticked off easily if you get on his bad side, question his abilities as a trainer or his love for his pokemon. He’s not immune to that, either, and that’s one thing that makes them a lot alike.”

    “Look, Brock!” she says, pointing at the scene and trying her best to hold in her excitement. “Ash just gave Zoey a kiss on the cheek! Aw, how sweet,” she dreamily coos. “That’s what it’s all about, Brock.”

    “I bet you dream about a moment like that with Kenny, right?”

    Raising her eyebrows like the promise for better salaries for the middle class, Dawn eyes her much older friend tentatively before she starts to chuckle like her friend did before her. This chuckle turns into an out and out laugh as the coordinator from Twinleaf Town apparently found a serious remark from Brock equitable to a stand-up comedian at a club.

    “Oh, man!” she says through her laughter. It seems as if nothing will keep her from continuing to let her emotions out either but eventually, the moment happens and Dawn is left to explain why she found an innocent question from Brock to be so hilarious.

    “Are you kidding me? Look, Brock. No offense meant to Kenny at all. I love him like the brother I’ve never had, but…that’s the exact reason why I don’t see myself getting involved with him right now. It does not feel right to me, and I know you know what that means. The sad thing about it is that he tries to make this big impression on me wherever we go. He thinks I don’t notice it, but I’m not as much of a ditz as people take me for.”

    “I guess we’re all learning that the more time we spend around you. But—and forgive me if I’m going too deep with this, but is there someone you are involved with at all or are interested in?”

    “Not really,” Dawn admits. “This might be a bad metaphor, but…I’m the type of person where I don’t find trouble but trouble always seems to find me.”

    “So you’re not one who is keen on waiting for love?”

    “Why? If there is a person out there for all of us, then I think it’s almost pointless. Not to mention the fact that…well I’m only ten years old, Brock. I’m not in any kind of rush or wanting to set some sort of record in finding a boyfriend. I know Zoey is only a year older, but obviously many more years mature and better equipped to handle someone like Ash.”

    “Well, not everyone is ready at the same time,” Brock agrees. “There are people twice my age who aren’t ready for romance so for you to not be ready is something that I really should not be surprised.”

    “Brock, listen to this!” Dawn says, pointing at the table where Ash and Zoey sit. “I think that they mentioned our names. We might be getting somewhere?”

    “Pardon me, miss,” speaks the spying duo’s arrogant waiter. “You had your hand up in the air. Is there something that you wanted like, say…yet another bottle of ketchup? This would be your third bottle, you know, and you haven’t even been served your main course yet.”

    Still turned off by the very snooty attitude of their server, Dawn does not show any intimidation on the fact that her waiter is so perturbed after they both asked him for multiple bottles of the red tomato paste for Ash’s signature pokemon. “Well, Matthew…”

    “It’s Matt to you, little girl.”

    “Very well, Mattie.

    Growling, he leaves the table without even considering that the young lady might need some service. This lends Dawn to even more praise from her much older partner in travel.

    At another part of the restaurant, another partnership is not feeling any sort of arrogance or sarcasm at their table. All that is happening is a discussion of great importance.

    “So I can honestly say that…I want to travel with you. Talking long hours on the phone have been nice, but can that last?”

    “The question is can this last, Zoey?” Ash responds. “I don’t know if we even give ourselves a chance if we don’t live together and see how this works out. I’m glad that I didn’t have to ask you if you wanted to join, but no matter how we came to this decision, I had a feeling you would say yes to my question of whether or not you wanted to travel with me. You know, it goes without saying that I’m glad that you want to do it…”

    “Umm hate to interrupt, Ash,” Zoey begins, “but I wanna get something straight; I do wanna travel with you but I can’t do that. I can’t do that right away, that is. I’ll need about a week to update some information in my personal files, inform some people, modify some of my contact information and emergency forms with the government and then I can go. Believe me, if I had the choice, I’d pack up and go with you right now, but the process is not as easy as one might think. That’s the reason why I didn’t say anything to you until now. Mom, dad and a few others helped me out and told me that I just can’t make this change without going through a bunch of red tape, which is not what I want, but a necessary evil.”

    “I see,” he laconically answers. One would get the feeling that the process will take a long time and keep him from the person he loves, but Zoey seems to have left out one important factor. In fact, she missed the most important factor. “How long will all of this take to finalize, Zoey?”

    “Maybe a week or two at the most. Wait, I thought I said that! Oh, man! I’m sorry. I had you worried over…nothing really.”

    “No, it’s fine. I don’t care if it took a month or two, it’ll be well worth the wait. And, I know you don’t mind Dawn and Brock being there with us, right?”

    “Oh, absolutely not! I’d love it if both of them could be there with us!”

    “Great!” Holding up his glass, he asks Zoey, “So may we toast to it?”

    “Indeed!” she answers as they bring their glasses of their drinks together and consume whatever is remaining before their waitress comes a few minutes later with a refill of chocolate cream for Ash and strawberry cream for Zoey.

    At this point, there is nothing. Nothing but the talking, light music and the conversations around them are making the restaurant come alive because neither party at the small table knows what else to say. Taking sly glances down at the ground, it does not take long for someone to realize that Ash is debating whether or not he should use this time to give Zoey her gift. He heard from everyone that he spoke to before the date that any gifts given should be saved until the end or near the end of the date.

    It is this time in which he decides to not listen to what everyone says. “Hey, Zoey. I have something to give you,” and then he reaches down in the direction of the bag. The young coordinator had a feeling that her much older boyfriend had something in the bag for her, even if he did not say it outright.

    The bag is a white one with similarly-colored handles and while handing it to Zoey, Ash tells her to “Go ahead. Open it.” She does so, and at the bottom of the bag, she finds a large, black velvet box. It is far too large for a single ring, but not shaped properly for a necklace or even a bracelet.

    Sitting and thinking about its contents will not get her anywhere. Like Ash said to her, it is best that she open it and find out for herself. Setting the box open, she finds what appears to be a pendant in the center of this jewelry. There is no doubt about what this is in Zoey’s mind. “It’s a locket!”

    “That’s right,” he affirms. “Now open it.”

    Using great care to remove the object from its holding place, Zoey looks for the clasp on the side of the locket and opens it to find two pictures at first glance. These two include Zoey with her pokemon along with Aipom, who now belongs to Dawn and an additional picture of Ash.

    “Oh, how sweet!” Zoey says, blushing at the gift given to her.

    “I see your looking at Aipom and myself, but take a look at the other side of the locket.” Heeding the words of Ash, Zoey takes another look at the locket to see that it is double clasped. Opening this second clasp, she sees a picture of herself along with two of her pokemon and Aipom in the photo booth. The other side of the locket, which is the final possible spot for any photos, is vacant with no photo in place.

    “Why is one of these empty, Ash?”

    “It’s for our picture together, Zoey. In the time we’ve been together, I noticed that we’ve never taken one with just the two of us in it.”

    “You’re right,” she answers as she puts the locket around her neck, wearing it for the night along with another necklace she wears more often than not.

    “Do they take pictures here at Icicle?”

    “Yeah, but they only do that in via a request. Once we finish our dinner, we can ask Erin about a photo and…we can call it a night if you want.”

    “Sounds great to me,” Ash questions. Even though he posed the inquiry, he doesn’t get an answer as their server Erin comes back to their table with their main courses. Ash gets his plate first, which consists of jumbo lump crab cakes, creamed spinach and lemon-pepper rice. Scant seconds after Ash gets his serving, Zoey gets her plate of surf and turf in a large sirloin steak and several tailfin shrimp.

    Once both plates are placed on the table, Erin asks the pair, “Is there anything else that I can get for you before I leave?” Zoey and Ash can’t think of anything, so Erin leaves them to their dishes asking that they enjoy their meals.

    “Wow, all of this looks so good!” Zoey exclaims. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve had great surf and turf. The other places in the region are nice and everything, but nothing really can compare to home.”

    “Tell me about it!” Ash concurs. “To give you an idea of that theory being put to test, I’m on the road…pretty much all year long, but I always, always look forward to mom’s cooking. I know everyone says this about their mom, but no one can cook like my mom. I’d put her works up against anyone else.”

    “I don’t know, Ash, but it sounds like you want me to come home and partake in this food of your mother’s.”

    “That’s right. Can you blame me? Mom…makes so much that our neighbors often get more of her home cooking than I do. She really wants to see you and I want you to see my mom. She’ll love you, I know it deep down she will love you, Zoey.”

    “I hope so. I mean, moms will tease their kids. Not meaning it or anything, but it happens, right?”

    Ash raises his eyebrows for the slightest of seconds at that remark from his girlfriend. “I guess,” he says.

    Shaking her head, she feels herself going off into a tangent she does not want to approach. “In any event, I know that this week is set aside so that you can see my folks and relatives and they can see you after tomorrow’s contest. They…they’ll like you too. They’re not that hard to get along with, it’s just that my family is real big and real critical. We’re all a bunch of big overachievers and it’s a family of professors, doctors, lawyers, business heads and the like. Yet my mother and father tell me that there is no pressure on me to graduate from college with honors after coordinating and continue on in the Aiken family tradition.”

    “Wow! Your family is…accomplished to say very little. Hold on; does your family—how do I say this? How badly did you want to coordinate growing up?”

    “I have loved the sport since I was four years old,” she explains. “Mom thought that it was nothing more than a hobby and treated it as such. She equated it to easy money and would say that anyone could call out commands for a pokemon. Until she saw that there was more to it than that, I faced a lot of opposition with me traveling alone on a journey.”

    “That’s rough, Zoey. I’m lucky to have my mother be so supportive of me wherever my journey takes me.”

    “Well, this story does have a happy ending, Ash. Mom came with my dad to an unsanctioned contest in Sandgem Town. Team Galactic operatives were there at the time and they wanted to take Glameow from me. I fought this one operative who was a little bit older than I am. Her name was…a planet? Mars! That was her name. Either way, I’d beat her into a pulp before I ever let her have Glameow, Misdreavus or any of my pokemon, and that’s exactly what I did. Mars turned very red that day from more than just embarrassment from getting her butt kicked by me. Mom saw something that day which I should have showed her from the very beginning. My mother saw the bond that I share with all of my pokemon and knew that coordinating is something I take very seriously. At the same time though, there was a selfish reason for me wanting to go on a journey so badly. I felt like I had to branch out and make a name for myself in my family. With so many people who have had a great deal of success doing what they love, I wanted to continue in the tradition.”

    “Yeah, but I don’t see how that’s selfish in any way. You want to be your own person but it’s hard to do that in a family that has done so many great things. That’s more you being you and coming into your own than defying…the family way. You’re growing up, Zoey, and you are being your own individual. Your mom seeing the care that you have for your pokemon is a large part of that, so don’t beat yourself up about expectations. You have plenty of time to decide what you really want to do the rest of your career.”

    Looking from afar, Dawn is really taken by the conversation Zoey and Ash are having. For the near year that Zoey and Dawn have shared a great friendship, the older of the two has always proven to be a confident, self-assured individual. But with the star trainer in front of her at the table, she opens up in a way she has not seen before. Whatever the Pallet Town resident is doing and however he seems to make Zoey so comfortable that she will speak of her own family like she is at the moment is grabbing at her attention and causing her to block everything else.

    “Hey, Dawn?” Brock says, putting his hand into the girl’s face in the hopes that that will send her back. “Earth to Dawn Berlitz!” Not even this technique works, and Brock concedes to just yelling out a very blunt, “Yo!” to the young coordinator.

    That gets her attention and then some as she asks Brock why he called out to her the way he did. “You haven’t eaten a bite of your lobster and scallops. You’ve just been watching Zoey over there with Ash. I don’t think we really need to pry in what they’re saying anymore. We know that when they travel together, they’ll take us along so that’s good.”

    “I just…I wish that I could hear Ash say these things when I had that real big hang up in my coordinating earlier this year before the Wallace Cup,” Dawn speaks. “He seems to bring out the best of whoever he’s with. I’m seeing a side of Zoey that…I never even knew existed, Brock. It’s making me wonder, that’s all. Can’t I wonder?”

    “That’s your right as a person, Dawn,” Brock concurs, “but the fact is that you can’t spend all of your time wondering when your moment will come or wondering when a guy will enter your life. You can wonder but not for long.”

    “Yeah, but it’s not bad for me to want something like that and to want to…share the intimate details with someone. I want that, but I don’t need to have it right now, you know what I mean? I see the two of them there and they are…like an example to live by. If there were a reason why I want to see Zoey and Ash, it would be to see how the two of them grow. That’s not…I’m not going beyond my role as a friend by doing that, am I?”

    “No way, you’re fine. I’m just worried as a friend and so are you. I wanted to see how my man would do in the dating scene for the very first time, and I think he’s hitting it out of the park.”

    “Brock, look at this! Now they’re feeding each other! How sweet!”

    Taking a look, Brock sees the scene, almost reminiscent of legendary moments in film and television where couples would do the same. “How is Ash feeding Zoey when he has those huge crab cakes? In all the years I’ve known him, he’s never been one to part ways with delicacies like that.”

    “In all the years you’ve known him,” Dawn counters, “he hasn’t had a girlfriend. Think about it.”

    “Good point.” And speaking of points, at this point, Brock can hear the light but clear sound of squeaking that can only come from a mouse.

    “Pikachu! Shhh! Please be quiet, you’re gonna get us in trouble. You know they don’t allow pokemon in here that aren’t in their pokeballs!” she warns the yellow electric mouse while peeking underneath the bright, white tablecloth. Looking down at the ground, she sees the four empty ketchup bottles and the eyes of the battle-tested pokemon start to cloud up with water and can’t help but chuckle for a bit. “Don’t worry. I promise that Brock and I will get you some more ketchup before the night is over.” This guarantee from the coordinator perks up Pikachu just like the one before and the one before that. “I know you’d like that. It’s coming as soon as Marvelous Mattie gets out of his little hissy fit…”

    “Uh, Dawn?”

    Turning up from conversing with Pikachu, Dawn says, “Just a second, Brock. I was just telling Pikachu about our foolish little imp of a waiter.”

    “Yeah, about that…”

    “You have something to say about him, too? I tell you, once I leave here, I’m not gonna give him a good tip, that’s for sure. This meal might come to one hundred fifty dollars, but he’ll only get about five. He doesn’t deserve a single cent more with his snooty attitude this evening.”

    “Dawn, stop!” Seeing that it’s worthless to stop her with everything that she’s said at the moment, Brock palms his face with his left hand and points his younger friend in the direction just behind her.

    “What? What is it?” she asks before finally deciding to turn around. Dawn had no choice in the matter, to be blunt, but she wishes that she did not have to look at a very insincere Matthew with a sinister smile plastered from one end of his face to the other. Upon seeing the face of the freckle-faced teen, it became apparent to her that the jig may very well be up. It causes Dawn to mouth something which might have been obscene in nature, but no one will ever truly know except her. “Uh, hello Matt. I—you know I was just kidding you buddy.”

    “Don’t call me buddy, little girl, and might I say that you have a very odd way of kidding around. Now I could have the two of you thrown out of here on your rumps very easily for bringing a pokemon in here for a non-disability purpose, but I think that dish duty would be best for taking you off your high horse.”

    “After you, Matt,” Brock unexpectedly chimes in. “You’ve been nothing but discourteous to Dawn and I the entire time we’ve been here, and I think it speaks badly upon this establishment that they would even consider employing you. The two of us are paying customers. We’ve overused our ketchup privileges, for sure, but we don’t mind paying for that. Just…don’t mind Dawn, we’ve had a pretty hard week and we wanted to…”

    “Just save it before I have to alert management about this unfortunate turn of events. Your Pikachu,” he explains while opening the tablecloth to see the mouse on the floor next to a bottle attempting to get a small amount from the bottom, “needs to go on ketchup detox and is causing more than just a shortage in condiments. There were people in the tables next to you complaining about a smell coming from over here and wouldn’t you know that I knew just where to go to find my culprit?”

    Looking down underneath the tablecloth one more time, she asks Pikachu to move over. He does so and Dawn gets treated to a mound full of scat. “Oh, Pikachu!” which causes Ash several tables over to do a double take.

    “Pikachu?” Ash asks out of pure habit. Zoey decides to get his pokemon off of his mind for once by giving him a kiss directly on the lips.

    Brock notices absolutely none of this and takes a look under the table and whistles at the pile made by the pokemon in less than half an hour of eating ketchup. “My goodness!”

    While both Brock and Dawn spend time commenting on the mess that the pocket monster has just made on the floor, Matt grits his teeth and curses his fortune given the fact that, “I have floor duty this evening,” but the two friends could barely hear him given the fact that he sneered while making this statement. “Do you two have any idea how difficult it is to clean this carpet? A couple of snot-nosed kids had their macaroni and cheese about a month ago and you can still see traces of yellow on the carpet.” Bringing his head down, he laments, “Cleaning it gave me nightmares; this might require some sessions in therapy…and you two are responsible!”

    “Look, if it makes you feel better, I’ll pay for the carpet cleaner! Don’t stress about it, we were just concerned about a friend and came here to see how he was doing on his date tonight. We didn’t know it would turn out like this!”

    “Why can’t this little rat just stay in his pokeball, for Pete’s sake?” Matt’s frustration is no excuse in Pikachu’s mind for being called a rat, which he considers an insult of the most degrading sort. He charges up electricity through his cheeks; a show of anger towards this Matthew character.

    “I wouldn’t call Pikachu a rat, man,” Brock says in an almost pleading fashion. “That’s just a warning, Matt.”

    “Well, your pal here has caused hundreds of dollars in damage.” Reaching down he aims to pull Pikachu out from underneath the table, saying “Let’s get your friend out of here and then we can break down how you plan to pay for all of this.”

    Dawn, seeing the look on the face of Ash’s primary pokemon at that moment “Wait, don’t do that, Matt. I’ll pick him up!”

    “You’ve done enough already!” he counters. “It’s time for me to take a stand for once and it starts with getting rid of this rodent…” Matt can not continue his rant as he is suffering from electric shock due to Pikachu’s thunder attack, which he is using as a means of defense. He screams and the calls from Brock and Dawn to let go of Pikachu fall on death’s ear as the volts of electricity pulse through Matt’s body until the mouse thinks that the very haughty waiter has had enough.

    “Oh!” he exclaims as he collapses down to the carpet of Icicle in a blackened and charred heap. When Brock gets up from his seat and offers to help him up, he gets the comment from Matt to, “Just go,” in his strained voice. “Just get your butts out of here before I call my manager, my lawyer or the police. I don’t care that you’re not paying for your meal. Just get out of here and take that disturbed little mouse out of my sight right now!”

    Hearing the very impactful and near-disturbing tone of Matthew’s voice, Brock and Dawn take a hint and gather up Pikachu, placing him in a bag meant for pets. The twosome catches a lot of attention for the scene, including the watchful eyes of Ash and Zoey, who try to figure out who is making their exit out of Icicle so quickly not caring whether or not they are drawing attention to themselves. Seeing the girl leaving the restaurant and holding the handbag, Ash notices that there is a head with ears sticking out inside the carry on. Knowing that carrying pets in this fashion is a new-old trend of sorts, he thinks nothing of it as he heads back into his seat along with Zoey to finish the rest of their meal.

    ---------

    “I just want you to know, that…this entire night has been great, Ash,” Zoey says while he walks the younger girl to her home, where she will be staying for the weekend. “I doubt that calling it a date is enough. Even without the incident with that couple and the waiter getting shocked, this was quite an experience.”

    “The pleasure’s all mine, Zoey,” Ash responds. “I’ve been waiting for this for some time and it’s all been well worth the wait.”

    As they walk and get closer to the Aiken household, Ash makes the obvious comment, “I’ll be rooting you on at the contest house tomorrow, but you probably knew that already. It’s funny. For the past several months, I’ve been rooting Dawn on and cheering for her in the stands and had you on my mind the entire time. This is when I wondered if you had any feelings for…anyone at that point. Now not only will I be cheering Dawn on, I’ll be cheering you on too. Boy, I think my voice will strain if you go up against her in the finals, what do you think?”

    “Ha! You’re right!” Zoey laughs. “At that point, you’ll have to leave it up to everyone else in the houses to cheer for you. You know, I’m glad to hear that, honestly. I wouldn’t want us being together to have some sort of negative effect your other relationships with your friends. You’ll cheer Dawn just as loudly as you cheer me. I like that.”

    “Thank you, Zoey. Really, you should know that I’ll always be there for my friends. They come first and so do you.”

    Now is the time when Zoey thanks Ash. With each other’s arms over one another, they finally make their way to the house. “We’re here. This is where we say good night.”

    “That’s until we see each other tomorrow,” he says. Afterwards, he leans in for a conservative kiss on the cheek, much like a first kiss, though both will admit that their first contained more pent up emotion than this one right now. This kiss that the two just shared is the epitome of a good night kiss.

    “Good night, Zoey. The deal is that I meet with your family and spend the day with them tomorrow, right?”

    “Right. Now you take care and above all, try not to be nervous. Mom and dad will see right through it. Now if I know my family everyone is probably gathered in front of the TV to watch soccer, so you can go if you want. I know it’s a ways away from the pokemon center.”

    “Okay, then. You have your copy of the eight by ten, right?”

    “Yep, it’s in the bag that you gave me with the locket. Good night, man!” And with that, Zoey makes her way back into the house using her key. As she predicted, no one was there at the door as they were all in the family room cheering on the local soccer team in their match against rivals, the Football Club of Solaceon.

    While Zoey walks in the house to greet her relatives and talk about her date, Ash’s mission is to not get caught outside too late at night. He hurries back to the hotel in near record time while still holding onto his copy of the photo that he and Zoey took at Icicle.

    In just ten minutes of what would have been a thirty minute walk, Ash goes to his room to find both Brock and Dawn channel surfing while the two are in their pajamas.

    “How are you guys?”

    “All right,” they answer. “How was the date?”

    “Incredible. Here, take a look at this,” Ash explains as he pulls out an eight by ten photo of her and Zoey smiling to the camera at Icicle while on their date.

    “Man it sounds like you knocked it out of the park tonight,” Brock comments, giving the young trainer a fist pound and declaring, “That’s my man!”

    “Did you two and Pikachu find something to do while I was out?”

    “Oh, we…made great use of our time,” Dawn answers, doing her best to not let the Delcatty out of the bag, or even the Pikachu for that matter.

    “All right. You should be heading for bed soon, Dawn. You’ve got a big day ahead of you tomorrow at the contest.”

    “You’re right. I shouldn’t be long.”

    “Where’s Pikachu?”

    “He’s in the bathroom,” Brock nonchalantly answers.

    “Okay then,” he says, knowing that Pikachu will often relax in a shallow bath of warm water whenever they are at a center hotel. Going inside the bathroom, he sees his signature pokemon with a big smile on his face as if he were in a dream state.

    Seeing his pokemon smile makes him smile, until he notices the bag next to the tub. ‘Wait a minute. I didn’t know Dawn had a bag like that!’ Getting a closer look at it, Ash can see that it looks familiar…and can feel everything coming together for him as he takes the bag and heads back into the main room. “Brock? Dawn?”

    “Yeah, Ash?” they sleepily ask while resting on the bed.

    “Be honest,” he says while holding up the bag, “did you spy on my date with Zoey at Icicle tonight?”

    The two look at each other and know that they are beat. Ash has brought the evidence and there’s not much defending either of them can do. They admit to their wrongdoings by saying “Yes,” and then apologizing for butting in like there is no tomorrow.

    “Don’t worry about it,” Ash assures the two of them. “I guess I should have thought that there was a chance this would happen. I’m not really mad. I’m just…”

    Ash doesn’t get the chance to finish his thoughts as he hears a noise coming from the bathroom. Checking on his friend, he sees that Pikachu is now inside a bath with water that is blood red.

    Fearing the worst, he checks his pokemon up and down and sees no cuts or injuries of any sort. Turning to Brock and Dawn at the front of the doorway into the bathroom, he asks them, “How did this water get…” and in less time than it took to ask the question, Ash gets his answer as his Pikachu throws up right in his face. “Oh, man! How did this happen, you guys? What did you feed him?”

    “Well,” Brock begins in an attempt to find the right words, “he wanted ketchup, and we gave it to him. I think it was…five bottles in all.”

    Putting Pikachu down, Ash wipes his face off and says, “No wonder. Okay two things, you two. One; you don’t need to spy. If you wanna see how I do in my dates, call Zoey and me. We’ll see if we can’t double date or go as friends. And two; limit Pikachu’s ketchup count to two bottles. Anything beyond that…” Ash explains as he watches Pikachu throwing up in the bathtub, “and he won’t be able to handle his sauce.”

    “Are we okay, Ash?”

    “Dawn, we’re fine, I just want to know that you won’t pull a stunt like this again. Do you swear to Mew?”

    Raising their right hands, both promise not to spy and the conversation ends with Ash hugging his best friends all at once.

    All of this happens while Pikachu continues to bleed ketchup from the mouth and regret going on his latest binge.

    ---------

    Your Thoughts?

  6. #6
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    I'm sorry I haven't given you reviews in a while, but I was like that for everybody ^^'
    I had to take some time off, but I saw this one, and the pairings in this fic made me genuinely interested

    On with the review :

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    "In the flesh," Zoey responds cheerfully. "So how is everyone doing?" the girl asks out of habit as she lets go of both Glameow and Aipom and removes her sunglasses.

    "We're fine, Zoey," Ash tentatively responds. "So...you were the one that was in the photo booth?"

    "Yes, indeed!" As Zoey clarifies
    lol, Aipom started everything when rushing in that booth ^^'

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    "No, Zoey." As Ash reminds the girl, "It's my fault. Is there anything that I can do to...pay you back? It's not often that you get a chance for automatic entry into a Grand Festival, and neither Aipom or I had that intent. I'd just like the chance to at least atone for it. Aipom is my responsibility, after all."

    "Well, Ash, that's really not..." Zoey stops for a second and considers what Ash just asked her. The boy, who she'll admit is quite the looker and very charming, especially when he is roped into a conversation about his pokemon is willing to do whatever he can to pay her back.

    Even though she feels somewhat bad taking advantage of Ash in this manner, Zoey nevertheless asks Ash "You mean 'anything', Ash?"
    Why doesn't Ash actually pay her back for some other photos to be taken ?
    And hehe, Zoey's going to take advantage of the situation xD

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    "All that's well and good, Dawn," Zoey tells her friend, "but how do I go about expressing my feelings to Ash?"

    Dawn gets up from her seat on the bench and holds her friend by the shoulders answering her by saying "Subtlety. After all, you don't want to overwhelm the boy.
    No you don't
    Notice the use of the word 'boy' instead of 'guy' or something similar

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    "I'd like to keep them, if you don't mind. Aipom reminds me of you, and..." Zoey stops and remembers Dawn's advice. She continues, saying "I like you, a lot. Every time I think of Aipom, I think of you, because naturally, Aipom and his attitude are both an extension of you. I get this...giddy feeling when I see Aipom's smile, and I know that he loves being your pokemon because you show him nothing but the best of your love. Whenever you decide to be in a serious relationship with another girl, I'm sure that they'll get that same type of love and affection that you show to Aipom, Pikachu and your other pokemon."

    Ash is somewhat jolted by this lengthy admission from Zoey and is curious as to whether she is inferring something deeper than what she is speaking. "Are you...trying to tell me something that's on your mind, Zoey?"

    Zoey decides to make her move here and now, as Ash has left the door open for her to truly speak her mind. She knows that by going this route, she is no longer following Dawn's sage advice to be subtle in her admission of affection, but if she holds in her feelings any longer, the girl feels as if she'll crack. Even if Ash doesn't return the feelings, she will be content knowing that she hasn't kept this secret from her friend before it becomes too late.

    "Ash," Zoey says, shivering just thinking about that name, "When I say that I like you, I mean it...but not just as friends." Zoey then caresses the soft face of the trainer and continues "I like you Ash...as more than just a friend." Zoey takes a deep breath and admits "I'm sorry. I just had to get that out. You can say or do whatever you want, but I just had to let you know how I felt."
    More or less subtle.
    But calmly done

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    The two kissed, and did so with animated emotion and vigor behind the action, but with no subtlety to speak of. They were showing this affection while each of them remained inside of the confines of the ice cream shop and a audience of about 15 people or so saw the entire scenario take place under a hushed silence as they didn't know what to think. The confession, the kiss on the cheek, the conclusion of Zoey's character made by Ash, the tears shed by Zoey and the confession by Ash Ketchum all came together to form quite the arena and the setting for love.
    They've got a soap opera, and they didn't even have to pay for it

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    Before Ash and Zoey can lock lips again, however, Brock turns the tables on his love struck friend by tugging him by the ear and dragging him to the direction of the mall exit.

    Brock remarks "Unfortunately, if we leave it in your care, this picture will be worth a billion words," and then Brock says "We'll see you later, Zoey," while he is dragging Ash. Everyone with the exception of Brock sweat drops at the scene and Zoey watches as Ash shrugs his shoulders upon his involuntary departure.
    OH MY LORD
    So Misty was just frustrated all these years ?!? xD
    She wanted some of the romance Brock was sharing lol

    Of course, you have another social portrait of people's minds with the part about change. Makes you wonder. Like in all of your stories.

    Chapter two ! :

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    Wondering, wishing and waiting while wandering around the front of the four-star restaurant known as Icicle, he says a silent prayer that nothing goes wrong this evening. One would rightfully accuse him of worrying himself to the bone thinking that something is not as it should be, and that Zoey is running late for some reason. Had he chosen to get a poketch like his friend Dawn and his girlfriend, then he would know that Zoey is not even relatively late. In his effort to make everything right for the night, Ash came about forty-five minutes early just to confirm his reservation.
    Talk about anxious ^^'

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    “It’s simple; I’ve been where you’re going,” she explains. “After much trial and error, I understand what it takes to succeed in many different areas. I’m your mother, but I’m also your guide, Ash. So…don’t be afraid to come to me for advice on this and whatever else. I know you, son. I know that you are headstrong, stubborn and independent to a fault. From everything you’ve told me, Zoey is a lot like that, as well.
    Obviously, Ash has a thing for tomboys xD

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    “Did you notice those people…staring when we walked to our table?”

    “Ash, it is hard to not notice the stares. But that’s what I get for being myself. If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m not a girly-girl. I haven’t owned a dress since I was probably…six years old. Luckily, the dress code is formal and I get to wear what I like.”
    Stares and other people's judgment. So difficult to not behave how other want us to. Kudos to Ash and Zoey.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    Sticking her head back up from underneath the table, Dawn comes face to face with a young male waiter pouring cold water into a tall glass. “Are you and the table having a nice conversation?” he asks Dawn.

    Not missing a beat, Dawn replies, “Yes, in fact, it told me that you guys haven’t dusted underneath him for quite some time. He feels neglected.”
    rofl. xD

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    Brock never knew hanging out with a girl he didn’t go crazy over could be so much fun.
    Spying, so cool

    And on for three ! :

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    Sitting and thinking about its contents will not get her anywhere. Like Ash said to her, it is best that she open it and find out for herself. Setting the box open, she finds what appears to be a pendant in the center of this jewelry. There is no doubt about what this is in Zoey’s mind. “It’s a locket!”

    “That’s right,” he affirms.
    Nice
    Let's just hope he didn't go bankrupt in a day because of his new girlfriend ^^'

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    Looking down underneath the tablecloth one more time, she asks Pikachu to move over. He does so and Dawn gets treated to a mound full of scat.
    o_o

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    “Okay then,” he says, knowing that Pikachu will often relax in a shallow bath of warm water whenever they are at a center hotel. Going inside the bathroom, he sees his signature pokemon with a big smile on his face as if he were in a dream state.
    omg he's stoned !!!! xDDD
    I loled, seriously ^^

    Quote Originally Posted by Rave The Rich View Post
    “Dawn, we’re fine, I just want to know that you won’t pull a stunt like this again. Do you swear to Mew?”

    Raising their right hands, both promise not to spy and the conversation ends with Ash hugging his best friends all at once.

    All of this happens while Pikachu continues to bleed ketchup from the mouth and regret going on his latest binge.
    The poor thing


    Is this story over ?
    Anyway, you are a great writer. Had you just been a fervent admirer of a mainstream ship, your popularity would have no doubt equaled any of this section's top writers. Nevertheless, I don't care, since anything that appeals to me, I read, more or less, and this, with its implications of philosophy, sociology and more, really reaches a higher level than you find in most stories.
    The writing itself is flawless. Abundant information, beautiful expressions, twists and turns. This story gets five stars from me in any case.
    The only thing I could point out, is that you tend to make your conversations about people and society sometimes too thorough and deep. Making the characters slightly ooc (after all, Zoey is twelve in this fic :/)

    I'll get working on "All Roads" asap my friend ! Take care
    Because of serebiiforums, my Life has been put on hold...

    ...wait, that sounds wrong...
    ...yeah, it's the other way around.

    My Works : A, B, C, D, E

  7. #7
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    Annapolis, Maryland
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    I'm sorry I haven't given you reviews in a while, but I was like that for everybody ^^'

    I had to take some time off, but I saw this one, and the pairings in this fic made me genuinely interested
    No problem, shadow_shipper! In fact, I noticed that you didn't review any stories in a while. My first thought was vacation and I was right. Glad you had a great time in Croatia and glad you found this new diamond in the rough that has caught your interest! ^__^

    Now to some of your comments...

    Why doesn't Ash actually pay her back for some other photos to be taken ?
    And hehe, Zoey's going to take advantage of the situation xD
    Because Zoey doesn't want money in this instance, she wants Ash...and she'll take advantage of the situation for sure!

    OH MY LORD
    So Misty was just frustrated all these years ?!? xD
    She wanted some of the romance Brock was sharing lol
    I've never really been a Misty fan (she plays minimal roles in my works for that reason and the fact that she's been out of the picture for a while, as well), but I loved the fact that she would do her best Carol Burnett impersonation and tug at Brock's ear when his libido was running at high. That's one that always tickles my funny bone.

    I never thought she was frustrated at a lack of love but more frustrated at the hopeless romantic known as Brock. It is a possibility, though. She's not linked to anyone.

    Of course, you have another social portrait of people's minds with the part about change. Makes you wonder. Like in all of your stories.
    Yep, that's my goal to make people think and wonder. This chapter (chapter one) was done over a year ago, believe it or not. I'll admit that I was not the caliber of writer then that I am now, but I like to look back and see how I impressed readers while just giving a lot of thought to the situations in stories while essentially winging it with the ships (Example: MinamoShipping). I just write what I know and what is inside of me in terms of romance and what's going on around me. People seem to like that, though, so I must be doing something right.

    Stares and other people's judgment. So difficult to not behave how other want us to. Kudos to Ash and Zoey.
    It's a shame these days that we live in a world where so many people do not really live as much as they just exist. But freedom to do what we want in this world is, ironically, not free. That's the meaning behind the scene in the restaurant. There are those in this world who don't believe in freedom. I'm not talking about terrorists said to be in a faraway place wanting nothing more than to plot our destruction. No, often times, these people can be our next door neighbors who place our everyday private lives in high regard and expect us to live to a great moral standard when they fail to realize that morals are internal. If you don't believe in them, no one can get you to sign on board no matter what the tactics involved.

    I'm going too far again! Sorry! ^__^

    Spying, so cool
    Isn't it though? *thumbs up*

    Nice
    Let's just hope he didn't go bankrupt in a day because of his new girlfriend ^^'
    Nope. He listened to his mother who told him not to break the bank when thinking about Zoey and a locket is a great idea. It connects the role pictures play in their relationship and it keeps memories. Double your pleasure!

    omg he's stoned !!!! xDDD
    I loled, seriously ^^
    Well, I remember 'Showdown in Dark City' quite well. It's the episode where Pikachu shows off his addiction to ketchup. There he went through withdrawal and it's like his personal drug so 'stoned' is a great way to put it! He has no one to blame but himself for getting sick, though.

    Is this story over ?
    In a word, no.

    Anyway, you are a great writer. Had you just been a fervent admirer of a mainstream ship, your popularity would have no doubt equaled any of this section's top writers.
    Thank you. If that were the case I'm sure that I'd be talked about in the vein of a PikamasterADV, Medea, Encyclopika, Water Spirit, ~Mist~ or others, but I did not write these works for popularity. I look for a...dedicated fanbase because I knew that there would be one for fics like Kelly/May, Zoey/Dawn, Ash/Zoey and others. I fashion myself as being like an Indie (Independent) rocker who plays his own style and gets a great deal of respect from many in the mainstream whether on forums or through private talks.

    People come to the ships that those aforementioned writers write for because of the ship and the reputation of the author. People come to my works for the story (and to a lesser extent, the reputation), which I personally feel is leagues more important in the long run. I respect their works, though. One day this site will see a mainstream ship from me and when they do, I plan to knock it out of the park.

    Nevertheless, I don't care, since anything that appeals to me, I read, more or less, and this, with its implications of philosophy, sociology and more, really reaches a higher level than you find in most stories.
    The writing itself is flawless. Abundant information, beautiful expressions, twists and turns. This story gets five stars from me in any case.
    Thanks for not caring! It has its advantages, no? ^__^

    I always aim to reach for a higher level. I realize that when I finish doing this, my work will be left behind for people to observe and see for themselves. I hope for one day people to put aside the differences in ships and just tune into a story for the story's sake (ars gratia artis). I look for works that ignite thoughts on numerous levels, just like you said. So I reference forms of higher arts and lower media all at the same time and write a story that is all encompassing and eclectic in nature; representative of Rave The Rich as a real person! Thanks for the rating.

    The only thing I could point out, is that you tend to make your conversations about people and society sometimes too thorough and deep. Making the characters slightly ooc (after all, Zoey is twelve in this fic :/)
    Yeah, you are right about that. Sometimes I'm in a situation where I don't scale back on the great implications of the actions of characters. I should, because usually getting that deep doesn't happen.

    And I did get chastised for making Zoey twelve in this somewhere else. I've heard the criticism as I have a feeling she'd only be a year younger than Ash or they would be the same age. That was haste on my part. Forgive me and please believe me when I say that OOC is not intentional in this or any other case when I write.

    I'll get working on "All Roads" asap my friend ! Take care
    Thanks! Chapter 35 of that fic is not too far off (maybe it'll come in the next five days). The past six chapters have been pretty long, so that means even more to review for you and more to reply back for me! I look forward to your feedback!

    Take care, yourself, man!
    Last edited by Rave The Rich; 1st October 2008 at 4:20 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default This is Chapter Four, Finally!

    Find the original posting of this chapter here. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3782092/4/

    NOTE: Enjoy this chapter and the little surprise that I put inside of here, as well. I promise that the next ones will come much earlier!

    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokemon, a creation of one Satoshi Tajiri, and is produced domestically (in the United States) by Pokemon USA/The Pokemon Company, and internationally by Shogakukan and OLM. I personally own nothing and make nothing by writing this. Please do not flame.

    (Chapter 4- The Ones Always In Your Business)

    ---------

    Late last night a frontal wave hit Snowpoint City and all points north with a tremendous cold snap, which seemed to do its job well, as it ended a warm spell that had hit the Northern city and lasted for several days.

    What was once the surface of the city, cleared of any indication of snow or ice by unseasonably high temperatures, has now been covered again with a nice coating of snow. This blanketing of the ground continues on into early Saturday afternoon, with the temperatures rapidly going below freezing, and allowing for such a scene to occur in the midst of such unpredictable and erratic weather patterns.

    Now, on this day of the city’s biweekly Pok&#233;mon contest, a large group of fans have nevertheless bared the elements for this big event. The crowd, at not quite capacity, awaits the time to strike at one o’clock so that the contest may officially begin with the appeals round. Already in the front row of the audience, awaiting the festivities is Brock and Brock alone, who came in his winter gear, but has put his coat behind his chair given that the contest hall is heated to room temperature. Absent among him is Dawn, who is currently in the dressing room concentrating on victory this afternoon and Ash, who’s tending to other pertinent matters at the moment.

    He will be joining Brock momentarily, but for now, he’s outside in the lobby, with Pikachu on his shoulder, awaiting some invited guests of Zoey so that this weekend can continue in the way they planned about two weeks prior. They are walking together hand in hand just outside of the entrance to the contest hall, where a couple of snow movers work to clear the empty parts of the walkway and the lot so that the walk back to the cars and out of the hall is not a slippery one. Zoey just got the call from her parents informing her that they would be on their way there before it was time for introductions and appeals. Given that she is a ‘hometown’ coordinator, she is given priority by the contest directors and allowed the final appeal of the day before the elimination rounds to save that moment for last and showcase the other talented names here on what is a day under conditions of heavy snow.

    Four of the top ten coordinators in all the Sinnoh region have gathered here today for the Snowpoint City ribbon and aside from Zoey and Dawn, the field today contains their fellow Sinnoh region citizens Nando and Kenny. Zoey has either met or spoken to all of her competition today, with the exception of a few, but now, she has to help facilitate moving her family into the VIP section, introducing them to Ash for the first time, changing into her contest garb and doing her appeal to, hopefully, vault her to the elimination round and win her home contest.

    But it all starts with escorting her folks inside.

    “You know, I’ve always thought it to be a real big irony that I lived on the opposite end of the city in comparison to the contest hall,” Zoey remarks as she and Ash watch for additional vehicles entering the parking lot. “I mean, I can remember always going whenever I had a Saturday to myself. I’d just take a bus ride over here or just walk and I’d be absolutely captivated by what I saw, and I knew that I wanted to be just like them and do what they do.”

    “And now, you are…to some great success,” Ash admits. Pikachu agrees and notices two large vehicles pull into the lot of the hall. Ash gets his girlfriend’s attention after his friend points to what’s pulling into the parking lot. “Oh, wait. Zoey, would that be them?”

    “That’s a…Toyota Sequia and a Honda Pilot—yeah! That’s them! All of my relatives that were here this weekend to catch me at this contest are here!” Grabbing the young man by the arm, Zoey charges him to “Come on! Get your coat on, and you can meet all of them!” Though the redheaded kid is definitely anxious about this meeting, she has enough sense in her head to know that she shouldn’t be running around the parking lot, even though much of the snow has been plowed off and the surface has been treated with salt.

    So while she has the hand of her boyfriend and is taking up to the two necessary sports utility vehicles, he watches from a distance as a woman in her late thirties or early forties comes out of the Honda and a man of similar age exits the Toyota. Zoey first gives a hug and a kiss to the man, he presumes is her father and then does the same to the other people in the Honda before going about this same ritual with her mother and those in her vehicle. “Thanks so much, you guys, for coming here.”

    “Zoey, you know it’s never a problem being there for you, seeing that it is what we’re supposed to do, after all,” says the person that Ash is now sure is his girlfriend’s father. Then, when he least expects it, she pulls him over to this extended semicircle of unfamiliar faces.

    “Okay, everyone,” she begins, directing these words to her family. “I’d like you to meet someone really special in my life right now that is as giving and as trustworthy as anyone you’d ever meet. While he’d be a great friend, I’m proud to say that we’re more; much, much more.” Now holding the hand of the young man she mentioned, Zoey continues, “This is Ash Ketchum, and he is a Pok&#233;mon trainer from Pallet Town in the Kanto region. On his shoulder is his Pikachu, whom he travels with along with Dawn Berlitz, who I told you about a while back and there are plans for us to do the same very soon.”

    Nodding, he simply follows along as Zoey does all of the talking at this point. She’ll get no argument from him, and the reasons for this are twofold. One is that he’s more than just a bit flattered at the comments that Zoey had for him in front of people she’s known and trusted her entire life. Second of all, what would a fourteen-year-old male say to the parents of their twelve-year-old daughter even though they know that the two are dating, more or less, and are talking about traveling together very soon? Ash knew that there would be a lot of time for ironing out all of the specifics, but for now he has to hand it to Zoey for handling things right now as he prepares for introductions.

    “Ash,” she speaks to the young teen, “First off, I want you to meet my father and mother Peter and Valerie Aiken.”

    “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Aiken,” he begins, shaking both adults’ hands. “It’s a pleasure meeting both of you. Zoey has talked a lot about you in recent weeks and I’ve really been looking forward to this.” It sounds kind and has enough complimentary language laden within it without attempting to butter both of them up too much in the process.

    “Thank you, Ash,” Peter responds. “I’ve heard much the same from Zoey about you and am really looking forward to knowing more.”

    “So am I,” Valerie adds.

    “Very good, and now I see where Zoey gets her lovely looking hair!” While Zoey brings her head down for a moment, getting the feeling that Ash is overdoing things too much here, the rest of the family heard the comment and thought it was quite funny. Even his little buddy found the remark to be in good enough taste to laugh his tail off and have everyone see a small amount of sparks come off of it.

    Zoey’s mom especially takes great pride in the quote from the young man and emphasizes this by saying, “And don’t you forget it, either!”

    “Okay, that’s nice and all, but lest we forget the rest of the family,” Zoey interjects. “We can talk about hair tips and genetics another day. We do, after all, have that time. Now, I should introduce you to the other members of my family and get them settled in inside here before it’s too late.”

    ---------

    At age eleven, he’s just beginning to know what he likes in life, or so he thinks. Inside of the coordinator’s waiting room, where each potential ribbon winner awaits their fate and the fate of others on a big screen, Kenny waits on something else entirely. Sure the contest is just a few moments away and the opportunity to add on to his ribbon collection beckons, but he’s looking forward to a show of a different sort; this time seen not in the competition, but from one particular competitor he’s had his eye on for a while.

    Leading to this waiting area is a curtain that leads to both dressing rooms with the gentlemen dressing on the left side and the ladies on the right side. With only about fifteen minutes left before proper introductions, only a few people remain inside of the dressing rooms that are not in the waiting room, or have gone there and left to tend to something else right now. For a second, the curtain opens and an unexpected coordinator enters who has made his mark in contests in other regions, but is making his debut here in the Sinnoh region while attempting to keep this moment a bit hush-hush.

    While all the other coordinators seem to turn a blind eye to this as they are working out their final strategies, one in particular remembers seeing him from just a month ago at the Ecruteak City contest. “Excuse me,” Kenny says to the young man, “Are you Drew Hayden?”

    Chuckling for a moment, he knows he couldn’t escape people asking him the question for very long. “Guilty as charged,” he answers, and then he shakes Kenny’s hand. “So this is what a Sinnoh contest waiting room looks like…just like all the others with a lot more flare,” he speaks while looking at the coordinators, some familiar but most not. “If you don’t mind me saying, it looks like you’re all having a Halloween party here. You look like you’re about to fight a bull right after this.”

    “Like I’m gonna find any bulls here in near-blizzard conditions outside,” he responds while rolling his eyes. He’s not offended by the comment, because he gets it all the time from many of his peers, but knows that’s the idea behind his garb. “And as far as how we dress, that would be the Sinnoh region staple, Drew.” Forgetting something, he briefly sidetracks to say, “Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Kenny Gilmer. And we here in the Sinnoh region understand better than any other region the right combination of style and substance in our coordinating. We…dress up because of this. We strive to be the epitome of an entertaining sport.”

    “That’s a good way to put it,” Drew remarks. “I mean, I did get what you’re kind of saying when I saw the Wallace Cup with my friends, Harley and Solidad. You’ve heard of May Maple, right?”

    “I have, and she really had quite the…she looked real good at the Wallace Cup, I’ll just say, and that’s what we’ve been aiming for ever since the 1970s; people to be creative through their coordinating as much as they are creative through themselves. Speaking of which, what brings you here to the Sinnoh region?”

    Drew looks around the waiting area before leaning in close to Kenny and asking him, “Uh, you want to know the real truth?”

    “Sure!” he answers as Dawn enters the coordinator’s room in a pastel-green dress with frills at the bottom and pink ribbons surrounding the collar falling down to her ankles. At that point, all other words, actions and thoughts matter nil.

    “The thing is that May and I have had a rivalry of sorts going on ever since we’ve been in Hoenn. We’ve propositioned each other to reach certain milestones while in Johto and she reached one before me and said that it would behoove me to go to Sinnoh for a contest and not make a big deal out of it. I essentially lost a bet with her and if I win, she has to do something for me, but if I lose, we’re even because she lost the Wallace Cup to…Dawn Berlitz.”

    “Oh, wow,” Kenny says, though such words do not pertain to Drew’s story as he watches the aforementioned Dawn from the corner of his eye. “What a nice showing. It could look good for you, I’m sure. And it’s not bad for a first time, either.”

    “Well, at least let me have my crack at the crop of coordinators here before you shower me with compliments,” he says before patting Kenny on the shoulder. “Thanks for listening to me, though. I have to take care of some business before introductions, but…I’m sure I’ll see you later. Take care, buddy.”

    As Drew leaves, very little changes in the occupied mind of young Master Gilmer. “Yeah, sure,” he replies; proof that there was still room in his head for stories of Drew and May proposition betting. Heading over to Dawn, who is now selecting which Pok&#233;mon she will ultimately use in her appeal. The decision is a tough one as it requires the one that will deliver the most bang for his or her buck. On a day like this with formidable competition to her left and her right, she can’t make a flippant choice and expect results.

    “Uh, hey Dawn,” Kenny says, nervously sauntering in the direction of his childhood friend turned much more in his mind.

    “Kenny, hey!” she responds. Seeing him actually took a lot of the stress off of her that was caused from wanting so badly to win a fourth ribbon in her drive for five. Getting up from her seat on a bench, she gives the boy a hug, which causes him to blush and sweat even more than what he was doing by just looking at her from across the room. “I had a feeling that you’d be here to compete against me. There’s just something about this contest that brings out some of the best.”

    Talk about coordinating has become an alleviator for the love stricken boy. Though he knows that he has to shake these thoughts or risk an early exit, it’s not like he can help it as much as he can help the dreams he has in his slumber. “Yeah, you’re right,” he admits with noted hesitation in his voice. “Really, you even get the crowd that isn’t coming here from the Sinnoh region, as well. Did you see Drew Hayden over there by me earlier?”

    “That was him?”

    “Oh, yeah,” he answers. “He’s here to get a feel of Pok&#233;mon contests done in the Sinnoh style and to make good on a promise that he made while coordinating in Johto. I get the feeling that by next year, he’ll be competing to get into the Sinnoh Grand Festival. It should be fun for him and all those who aren’t familiar with the game. I wonder if he’ll dress up like us and May?”

    “I’m sure he will do it. He’s a showman by heart, from all that May told me when we competed, so while I don’t think he really has a penchant for the eccentric, he can pull it off, for sure.”

    “Yeah, that’s putting it well, but I still get the feeling that he’s a nice guy. I mean, we had a good conversation just now and would he do that if he was the snobbish type that so many people claim?”

    “No, you’re right. That’s a good point.”

    “And…I get the feeling that people have already said this, but nice dress, Dawn. Is this a new one?”

    “Somewhat,” she answers, checking over her garb once more. “This design actually was the suggestion of a few people who thought that I needed to give my dress some contrast in small amounts. That gives you what you see here.”

    “You make it look real nice, Dawn.”

    As she was about to thank him for the compliment, Dawn feels something vibrating in one of her pockets. It’s her cell phone, which she reaches for in a compartment around the right side of her midsection. Pulling it from out of there, she opens up the clamshell model and sees that she just got a text message from Zoey. While brief, the message does contain much, including that her family, Ash and Brock are now seated along the press box in the hall’s second level if she wants to see them. She also alerts Dawn that she is in the dressing room and about to change into her costume for the afternoon. She promises something new, but interesting for herself for this special day.

    Letting Kenny know all of this, he is not too surprised to learn it. “I’m sure she will dress to impress today. We’d do the same if Twinleaf Town ever hosted their own Pok&#233;mon contests.”

    “We really should have them given all the talent that’s come out of there,” Dawn admits. “I mean, you, me, Leona, Lucas, Barry and so many others—my mom! Why in the world wouldn’t we host one?”

    “Politics,” he simply answers. “If you combine that, along with the fact that bringing people to a small town to watch a contest is not something that the directors are interested in as much, then you’ve got your answer. They are much more interested in the big towns with all the flashy entertainment, expensive shopping, places to stay and the like. Small towns with a much greater tradition tend to fall by the waist side because of it.”

    “Unfortunate,” she remarks. “Well, I do have to head back in the dressing room to check on Zoey and…”

    “Oh, sure! Go right ahead,” he calls back, stepping aside to let his friend take care of whatever she needed to do in the back with about ten minutes left before business picks up in Snowpoint City.

    ---------

    “This is a really nice view!” Ash says, making a point of never getting treatment at this level before from a league conference director, but also realizing that Pallet Town is another small area not really known for being a battle palace.

    “Well, this is what comes from garnering all the success Zoey has in recent months, Ash,” a member of his girlfriend’s family speaks. Ash thinks that it was her cousin Neil, but can’t remember for certain.

    “That and they will always roll out the red carpet for a coordinator in his or her hometown,” Peter Aiken adds. “But I feel that a lot of that does have to do with Zoey, as well. Ever since she was young, she has been a real show woman. That much I doubt will ever change for her even with a young man like you around her.”

    “Me? Oh, no,” Ash assures them. “I’m not one to stand in anyone’s way and keep them from doing what they love to do. Coordinating is Zoey’s trademark, and we would all be hard pressed to find anyone that can deliver quite like her. I want her to just be happy, and if she feels that I should be a part of that happiness, be it large or small, I want to be there.”

    While it might have appeared fleeting to most other observers, Valerie Aiken is a bit shaky right now. Ash, on the outside might seem like a guy whose mind and life has been about Pok&#233;mon and training to be the very best. For a time, that might have been the case, but Zoey’s mother didn’t get that impression hearing him speak about her only child the way he did. Sure, he was two years older and it would not surprise him to hear that he might have more on his mind than mere ‘puppy love’, but for that moment, she got the sense that there is more to Ash Ketchum than meets the eye, and that her daughter had much to do with this.

    “That was a very nice thing to say, Ash,” Brock says, commending him for his words and patting him on the back as the crowd sits at attention while Sinnoh contest announcer, Marian takes center stage.

    “Coordinators from across the region and in all parts of the world have convened here for an all important contest, and through rain, sleet and, yes, even snow, they come for the opportunity that all dream of; the prize, available for only one of the sixty-eight coordinators this afternoon is the Snowpoint City ribbon,” the aforementioned award is held high by Marian for all to see. The ribbon, with a silver snowflake in the middle, has three stripes; two white ones on the ends and a sky blue one in the middle with snowflakes sewn in the middle blue section to top off the design.

    “The one coordinator who can work to the optimum level with their Pok&#233;mon by putting together a class appeal over the course of two minutes will then work to carry that momentum into the final elimination round, but sixty of you here today will not even be able to make it that far. Only eight of you can compete in the second round and of that eight, we will determine a winner of the Snowpoint ribbon, which will put one coordinator another step closer to the ultimate playground for contest experts; The Sinnoh Grand Festival!”

    This introduction brings the crowd to their feet and causes them to wildly cheer and applaud at levels that would be expected of crowds about ten times this size. While the house is not packed, it matters very little. The Snowpoint City crowds have always been known for being hardcore in their love for the sport, but also respectful of the role coordinating has played for so many years in their part of the world. So this crowd of more than 2,500 people makes the contest hall truly come alive.

    “So, I just have a question for you, Snowpoint City. Are you ready for some coordinating action this afternoon?”

    Overwhelmingly, as expected, the response was more wild and raucous cheering from true fans. “Are you ready to see your hometown girl, Zoey Aiken, come back, prove that old saying wrong and win the contest ribbon?”

    Even more wild cheering, much louder than the previous two times, comes from the crowd, and it becomes very clear who they want to win the whole thing this afternoon.

    “Stick tight, Snowpoint!” Marian assures the audience. “We’ve got plenty of coordinating action to come, and I promise Zoey will be here!”

    “If not, there’ll be a riot,” Ash remarks and once more, Zoey’s family finds his words to be quite humorous.

    “For now, ladies and gentleman, we do have a special guest here that has made his mark in contests throughout the Hoenn region and is currently competing in the Johto region, and training for their Grand Festival. Let’s give him a hand right now. Coming all the way from LaRousse City in the Hoenn region and starting us off this afternoon with appeals is Master Drew…Hayden!”

    Some people didn’t expect this coordinating superstar to be anywhere near the area, but having secured himself very well by not announcing his appearance at Snowpoint City, and through the use of a very thick winter coat concealing his very noticeable facial features, he was able to register for the contest and get on the list of coordinators for this afternoon’s procedures.

    He has not been able to dress up for this occasion, but did promise Kenny right before the start of the contest that he would dress up for his next Sinnoh contest, whenever that may be. Saying hello to the judges and the announcer, Drew gets the appeals round underway.

    Pulling out a Pok&#233; Ball with a ball capsule covering it, he throws it out, declaring, “Masquerain, the stage is yours!” Upon opening the ball, a large amount of stars fly out like fireworks and then appears a bug Pok&#233;mon with wings.

    Masquerain began the appeal with the attack Water Sport, immersing itself in a sheet of water all around its body. After this command, the Hoenn coordinator then calls for gust, which causes the water to shift upward above the flyers head. Afterwards, Drew seems to count down the seconds he needs in order to pull off what he wants to do right now. After a while as the water begins to form a funnel above the head of Masquerain, he calls for his Pok&#233;mon to perform Quick Attack. To the surprise of most everyone in the contest house, Masquerain charges to the other end of the floor and the funnel remains intact. At this moment, Drew quickly calls for Air Slash, splitting the water funnel into two parts, which each flow out onto the floor. The scene was reminiscent of the parting of a sea and was an interesting conclusion to an appeal that many would expect out of water Pok&#233;mon. Nevertheless, the people of Snowpoint cheer Drew for the accomplishment and feel that if nothing else, they got entertained by his efforts.

    Going down the line, Contesta remarks that Drew has always shown great appeal prowess, but that everyone should watch out as he remembers that the young man is an even better battler. Sukizo affirms that the appeal was quite remarkable for a debut and the Snowpoint City Joy commends Drew for stepping up to the plate and coming out unannounced and with little fanfare to get the job done, giving him kudos in the process. Drew bows to the judges and salutes the fans before heading back to the exit and getting the same treatment from his Sinnoh peers.

    Appeals continue on through the hours with Kenny using Alakazam about an hour and a half into the round and Nando taking out Roserade for his two minute chance, which causes Drew to sit back and carefully watch how this hybrid trainer/coordinator uses the grass Pok&#233;mon to his advantage. Drew even makes the silent comment that one of the elimination matchups might be a Roserade versus Roserade matchup of top caliber, should both of them make it to the next round.

    All of the action has been going real well in the minds of the Aiken family, but it’s very clear who everyone is waiting for with just a few more appeals to come.

    “And now, ladies and gentleman, here comes another top ten ranked coordinator ready to do her appeal. From Twinleaf Town of the Sinnoh regions, here’s Dawn…Berlitz!”

    Yet another popular coordinator is up to bat in an attempt to make it through to the elimination round. Much of this popularity, whether deserved or undeserved, has to do with the long history of this family line competing and the fact that many of the people in the audience remembered the fun they had watching Dawn’s mother, Johanna, in the stands or on the television screens. It’s something that the young girl has just had to live with as a part of the reason for this reception.

    Slowly but surely, Dawn wishes to shed this stigma and go on with just being the best coordinator she can. Throwing out her Pok&#233; Ball, she calls for Aipom to take center stage with a ball capsule of hearts and stars flying out and about in the hall.

    Ash, looking on in the special section, can’t help but think that this is the same Pok&#233;mon that started it all for him and Zoey. He made no bones about it and was honest when it came to the role of this playful type. It’s just that on this day, when he meets Zoey’s family, he finds it very interesting that he shows up.

    Something happened at that moment. Unexpected as it was, he just felt the need to congratulate his traveling partner on taking such good care of Aipom, a Pok&#233;mon he truly loved, and keeping him so healthy and well. Ash got out of his seat and says, “All right, Dawn! Good job! You got it! Make this one count! I’m with you 100 percent!” As he explained to Zoey on the night of their date, he would cheer just as loudly for her as he would for any of his friends, because they always come first in his life. This doesn’t come without some minor controversy in the booth, though, as a relative of Zoey’s makes a point about Ash’s conduct.

    “You know, the way you cheer for Dawn, it would almost seem as if you had a thing for her.” This comment comes from Zoey’s aunt, Bridgette, who seems to be the splitting image of her niece.

    Even Ash had to take account of his actions and admit, while still standing up in the section that he might have gone a bit too far, though he won’t admit that to any of the people in this booth. Instead, he’ll say, “Well, I…really—I’ve known Dawn a bit longer than Zoey. I just have fond feelings for her, but they don’t go beyond just great friendship. Even Zoey doesn’t have a problem with me cheering my friends on in victory.” Sitting down, he continues, “In fact, I have to say that Zoey has been real good about my friends and secure about our relationships. Even if we’re young, I doubt age has much to do with it. I know that one of the big points has been…the fact that I travel with Dawn, who is just a bit younger than my girlfriend, and I don’t travel with Zoey, but believe me when I say that I want that to change and soon. I think that by the end of this weekend, it will. We just need this time to level. Zoey hasn’t met with my family as of yet, but I plan on that happening real soon. I mean, afterwards, the holidays are coming. Thanksgiving will be here in two weeks and Christmas comes in six. There will be a lot of time for us to do all of that. It just—it’s all on the way, you know?”

    "I guess,” Bridgette replies, “but to me, it would seem that if it is the case, you wouldn’t want to let Zoey stroll too far from you, even if you are going in different directions on your journeys. From what I heard, the confession between you two was a real emotional one that took place in front of quite a few people. That’s fine, and I’m sure you had people applauding you afterwards, but would you care to explain how you two left each other not even an hour later?”

    “Well, there is a way—oh, no!” Ash realizes that all the back and forth conversation that he’s had with Zoey’s family, he missed Dawn’s appeal. “Man, I just wonder what she’ll think about this. I have this conversation with all of you and I miss my friend.”

    “I’ve got you covered, man,” says Brock, who pats his friend on the back once more. “She used Aipom and a net with a lot of swift attacks and used tail whip to play tennis with about a thousand different stars.”

    “Brock Harrison Slate, you are a lifesaver!” he declares, pounding the fist of his longtime friend, as he prepares for the inevitable moment where Dawn will eventually ask him how she did in her appeal. As Dawn leaves the stage, Ash has to wait through a few more appeals before Zoey makes her way to center stage; something that he really couldn’t afford to miss.

    Dawn entered the VIP section where her friends and Zoey’s family were sitting not that long afterwards and without her even asking anything, Ash lets Dawn know how much of a good job she did on her appeal. Pikachu feels that even this might have been too much, and shakes his head, feeling for his trainer like only a best friend can. Dawn sees nothing wrong with the tone of Ash’s commendation and gladly accepts it, thanking him for being so supportive of her over the months. She admits, however, that she isn’t sure if it will be quite enough to get into the elimination round, so she’s gonna be biting her fingers awaiting the results after all the appeals.

    “Ah it’s not a problem, Dawn,” he speaks nonchalantly. Inside, however, he knows he dodged a bullet, given his occupancy with the questions of the family members. Changing the subject, he asks the coordinator, “Say, Dawn. Did you get a look at what Zoey is wearing for this appeal?”

    “Yeah, and…I think that everyone’s gonna be quite impressed with this. I was, for what it’s worth, and…Zoey certainly did put a lot of work into this look to get it down pat.”

    “All right, folks!” Marian speaks into her microphone. “I know you’ve been waiting patiently for this moment.”

    “We sure have,” Peter remarks.

    “Well, the moment is finally here, ladies and gentlemen. So everyone, please welcome Snowpoint City’s finest native daughter and one of the truly great ambassadors of the sport. Today, she has come back…in black. This is Zoey…Aiken!”

    After the introduction, a few chords which open one of the top rock songs in history playing over the loudspeakers. While most of the competitors would often put on a J-Pop tune or a classical piece of studio music to send them out to the ring for contests in the event of a victory, Zoey seems to go beyond anyone’s call of duty. But given that this is her hometown, there were those attending that just weren’t surprised to hear AC/DC played loudly on the speakers.

    What came next was likely the most unique appeal garb in at least one or two years. Zoey came out to the crowd, strumming an air guitar while wearing a black sport coat, a white buttoned-down shirt, black tie, a pair of black shorts and white sneakers. She had much of the older crowd in the palm of her hands with her tribute to the classic rock band from down under and even had the judges cracking up for a bit as her abilities as a show girl were put to test here all before ever releasing a Pok&#233; Ball.

    Upon making her way up to the stage, she shakes Marian’s hand before taking her place and saying that she’s ready for her appeal. She calls Shellos out for her qualifying effort and unlike many of the top coordinators before her, her Pok&#233;mon did not come out with a ball capsule entrance.

    The first command is a surprising one, as Zoey uses harden. While it has been a long, long time since Ash has used that attack in battle, he can still remember, to his shame, the lengthy Metapod versus Metapod battle he had with a young samurai in the woods of Kanto. Knowing that it doesn’t behoove Zoey to put up a defensive effort in her appeal, Ash wonders just what’s going on inside of his girlfriend’s head with this call.

    After hardening, Zoey then calls for Double Team from Shellos, and it quickly gets to work making copies of itself, forming a large circle in the middle of the playing field. For a second, though he is quite a distance away from her, Ash notices a smirk on her face as she’s about to go through the concluding motions of this appeal with just one minute left in her time.

    “All right, Shellos! Are you up for a game of ‘Whack-A-Shellos’?” Her Pok&#233;mon responds positively to such an idea and readies for whatever his trainer has planned.

    “Good, now let’s get rid of these fakes with some rapid fire mud bombs!” Shellos gets to work and quickly moves about again to knock out each doppelganger and does so by throwing mud balls at each of them. But instead of disappearing immediately, the copies act as if they have been forced off of the platform. At that point, they start to disappear and the real Shellos reveals himself, standing directly in front of Zoey the entire time…but with a mud ball coming right in his direction.

    Just about everyone in the contest hall cannot believe that Zoey is not making any sort of command for Shellos to just get out of the way. The feelings move from non-belief to shock as Zoey does, indeed, make the command for Shellos to “Stay right where you are,” even though the mud ball is heading right for her Pok&#233;mon.

    Ash stands up and is about to loudly protest what appears to be abject recklessness on the part of Zoey, but once the mud ball hits Shellos and everyone fears what might happen next, they soon learn that there is nothing to fear. Shellos used Harden at the very start of the appeal and it had its effect through a nice offensive display of speed and stability, but came back to be of great benefit to coordinator and Pok&#233;mon as the mud ball rebounded off of Shellos, then unceremoniously splattering onto the ring area. Two seconds pass and then the horn blares, informing Zoey that the appeal is over.

    For a moment, everyone sits silently. They aren’t sure what to think of what they saw. Zoey had just gone so unconventional with her thinking when it came to this appeal. She didn’t use much in the way of offense, yet it didn’t matter as it kept the fans on the edge of their seats. The fans then slowly begin to applaud the creativity used by Zoey to use an equal amount of defensive and offensive maneuvers to form her appeal.

    This is the opinion of Ash who whoops and hollers for Zoey and the same opinion held by the judges, with Contesta remarking that this is a very refreshing change of pace compared to the other appeals of the day. It had ups, downs, points of relaxation and times of thinking and understanding all pack into its two minutes. Sukizo, once more, remarks of the remarkableness of the demonstration and Snowpoint’s Nurse Joy commends Zoey for a fine performance and feels that this might be enough to get to the second round based on creativity alone.

    ---------

    Two minutes later, Zoey heads back over to the waiting room and finds, to her pleasant surprise, her mom, dad and Ash waiting for her. She smiles before running to the trio to give them a group hug.

    “You did a fantastic job, Zoey!” Valerie commends. “Every single time you come out and perform, it seems like you wanna just keep on topping yourself. You had them for a while, including me.”

    “Thanks, mom,” she smiles while now in an embrace with just her.

    “What did you do for that? I mean what were you thinking when you came up with this appeal?”

    “Well, Ash,” Zoey responds, “I do have to keep some secrets, you know? I mean, my competition is here, some of them out of the region. What if I just revealed it in front of all of them right now?”

    Rolling his eyes for a bit, he then asks, “Will you at least tell me later?”

    Kissing, of all things, his nose, Zoey acquiesces with the request and says, “Sure thing…sweet thing.”

    Thinking that she said that softly enough, Zoey is content to look at the big screen and await the results of who would make the cut, but just seconds later, she gets an earful from Drew, who walks by the foursome and hums a bit and raises his eyebrows twice before making his way over to the screen. Zoey’s reaction to this is more awkward than angry as she plays out the scenario in her mind. ‘Oh, man. Ash and I might have officially become public with that kiss.’

    “Ah, that Drew,” Ash remarks. “He’s…he is…I need to check a dictionary to really describe it for you.”

    “Shh! Everyone!” Dawn interjects. “Quiet! They’re about to announce who’s in the second round.” While Dawn did not mean to come off rude with what she just said, she’s on a bit of a tightrope as far as these results given that she is not too sure if her appeal made the cut or not.

    “You’ll be okay, Dawn,” Zoey assures her friend. “I think you might have gotten enough points from Aipom’s attitude in the appeal to seal the deal.”

    “And now, of the sixty-eight coordinators who appealed this afternoon for the Snowpoint city ribbon, let us all find out, together, which eight among these sixty-eight will go to the next round. Here…is your top eight!”

    All attending watch the screen carefully. A few seconds pass and the results are revealed to all. Zoey made it, the first step to her amazing come back home. Also moving onto the next round is Drew, Nando, and Dawn, much to her relief.

    Those on the outside looking in of great significance include Kenny and Jessalina, who will have to try their luck elsewhere in Sinnoh for their next ribbons. Their frustration, along with that of the other fifty-eight coordinators who wished they could get into the next round is apparent, but they hold it together in the waiting room, and see who’s competing against whom in the round of eight.

    The names and faces of the elated eight are placed on the screen and then shuffled into a random order to form the four matchups this afternoon. Zoey will have to match wits with a young coordinator named Clyde while Nando will go up against Xavier and Emery will compete against Janet. Dawn must go against Drew, the matchup that she was afraid to draw, but will have to wage in just a few minutes because she is first.

    She looks real nervous, and that’s saying very little. Like Brock had been doing for Ash earlier in the afternoon, Zoey is now here to give her friend assurance as she’s being called to center stage for the second round match. “Break a leg, Dawn,” Zoey speaks while she awaits her bout upcoming.

    Dawn doesn’t say anything, much to the surprise of her friends, but nods her head as she goes back onto the stage, shakes Drew’s hand and waits for the five minutes on the clock to begin.

    She calls on Pachirisu and he brings Roserade to the table, and they’re off.

    “Pachirisu, start with spark!”

    “Roserade!” Drew begins, “Dodge that and use bullet seed!” The fact that electric attacks are not as effective on grass types has not escaped Dawn at all. She knows this to be the truth, but Pachirisu still feel victim to the attack bringing down her percentage points to eighty for the match.

    Weakened, but still determined, Pachirisu gets back into the game with a call of sweet kiss. Pachirisu then looks back to her trainer for a second before Dawn motions for the squirrel to ‘go on’, which she does. While it won’t bring down hit points, it can lead to something greater down the line. Drew attempts to have Roserade dodge the ‘attack’, but to no avail. The grass Pok&#233;mon just catches a kiss right on the lips; a fact that is not lost on Ash and Zoey.

    “Oh, wow. That was Pachirisu…kissing Roserade. Dawn must really be pulling out…all the stops. I know that Pachirisu is a female, though, and Drew never…”

    “Ash, I...” Zoey begins as a form of protest. But thinking it over, even she isn’t too sure about what she just watched. “You know what? I don’t know, either. This is my first time in a contest with Drew, I’ve seen Roserade a few times.”

    “This is interestingly shocking…”

    “In more ways than one, yes,” she finishes. While they go over that unique strategy of Dawn’s, she has placed Pachirisu next to a very confused Roserade. She is close enough, in fact, that the type disadvantage is very much negated, so she calls for discharge, which takes about thirty-five percent of the hit points away from Drew, leaving him having to come back to get out of this current rut.

    “Roserade, I know that was…I actually don’t know what that was, but let it go,” Drew pleads with the Pok&#233;mon. “There’s a first time for everything. Now let’s get back into things with poison sting.”

    “Pachirisu, attempt a dodge!” Dawn immediately calls, knowing that the attack would come quickly and not without a great deal of damage. Somehow, the squirrel Pok&#233;mon is able to escape the poison, but by the hair on her coat, she does it.

    “Now, let’s use magical leaf!”

    “Pachirisu, charge towards Roserade with your super fang!” Knowing that an attack like magical leaf will hit the opponent each and every time, Dawn seeks to spare her losses and provide Drew with some by using an immediate command. This strategy only works somewhat, as Drew has another idea up his sleeve.

    “Solar beam, Roserade!” he calls at the same time that Pachirisu is charging directly at his Pok&#233;mon. Because of this, Roserade is able to get off the attack at the moment where Pachirisu is only three feet away from her, giving the attack even more impact than it would already have. The aftermath of this exchange has Roserade very fatigued, but still able to continue. The same cannot be said for Pachirisu, unfortunately, as the judges use their discretion and stop the match, seeing that the squirrel Pok&#233;mon has truly had enough.

    The field judge confirms it with only a minute left to go in the battle and declares Drew the winner, sending him to the finals with either Xavier or Nando.

    While a bit taken aback by the result, Dawn is still happy that she got here to the second round and really had a nice battle with a Grand Festival competitor with great success. Dawn shakes Drew’s hand and he commends her for a nice performance, but adds that she probably could have had more success if she did not use an electric type. While they walk to the back, Dawn says that she’ll keep it in mind, and that she’d love to face off against him again in the future.

    After meeting up with Ash, Zoey and her folks, they assure Dawn that she did well and that five ribbons is not that far off for her. It’s not that long afterwards that the remaining round of eight matches take place, with Zoey easily taking care of Clyde’s Raticade with her Glameow and Nando having some hiccups, but still being able to best Xavier’s Bibarel with his Cherrim. A fourth match, which took place right after Drew defeated Dawn, had another visitor, Janet lose in a match against Emery. Their Pok&#233;mon were Beautifly and Anorith, respectively.

    ---------

    Now the matchups are set; a final four in place with Nando up against Drew and Zoey up against Emery in battle. Before these all important matches, the competitors are allotted a fifteen minute break to stretch and prepare for battle. For Zoey, Ash and Dawn, this is a chance to talk about what’s been happening so far and to speak more about that which is to come. They walk around the entranceway and away from the people so that they can talk. Zoey’s folks have gone back to the VIP section for now.

    “Drew was certainly a handful there, especially when I forgot the attacks and technical machines that would best get him where it’s good,” Dawn will admit, “but otherwise, he’s a real good guy. He gave me advice; he wasn’t out there to hurt Pachirisu or anything like that, so he’s cool in my book.”

    “Yeah, I know this well,” Ash says, speaking from experience. “At first, Drew wasn’t like that at all. Both of you can talk to May about that, but I’m glad that he’s since mellowed and it shows. Uh…Zoey and I have a question that we want to ask you, Dawn, and we don’t mean to offend you, but...I know that Pachirisu is a girl, and…”

    “What Ash is trying to ask is…did you try and throw Drew off his and Roserade’s game by having what we’re all but certain was a girl-on-girl kiss?”

    “Yeah, but we didn’t think much of it,” Dawn reveals much to the surprise of Ash and Zoey. “It was nothing serious, clearly. Something of a Katy Perry deal, for what it’s worth. Pachirisu was mostly concerned about whether or not Roserade would violently retaliate. Honestly, we didn’t even know that Drew’s Roserade was a girl until Pachirisu turned around in a bit of a protest. Drew said that I did a good job with it, but to use it sparingly because not everyone will take it as well as he did.”

    “Uh, ain’t it the truth?” Zoey speaks. Knowing that she and Ash should start talking about another subject of far greater importance, she asks something else entirely. “So you’re not upset about the results?”

    “Nah, there will be other contests to come. No need to worry,” she says, as only Dawn can.

    “Good to hear. Now, Dawn, I know that there has been some…discussion between you, Ash and Brock about our traveling arrangements.”

    “Yeah?” Dawn is very interested in hearing this, though you wouldn’t necessarily know it from her tone.

    “You know we’re buddies, right?” Dawn nods. It is the truth and Zoey did come to her with her most personal secret of all. “Well, with your permission, and Brock’s, I’d like to travel with you all.”

    “Oh, my God! Ash Ketchum! Is that you?” Somewhat frustrated that Zoey is not able to get out everything that she wanted with this talk with Dawn because of an apparent fan meeting their idol at a contest house, she turns over to where the voice came from and gets quite the surprise.

    This was no ordinary fan. In fact, she was a fellow trainer that Zoey knew from many years back. She had the same look as her, had the same spunk and determination, but was even more tomboyish and saucy in some respects and it was the biggest turnoff that she could possibly wish for at this moment.

    “Angie?” she mouths, but Ash speaks as he watches the green-haired tomboy, not too different from the redhead next to him, walk up to him very quickly, giving him a big, squeezing hug.

    “Oh, it’s so good to see you!” she remarks while Zoey, sitting only a few feet away, gets Medusa syndrome and appears to sit still like a stone statue while this takes place. “I missed you since you left my folks’ daycare. Man, I had no idea you’d be here! I was gonna go up against Candice, but she doesn’t come back until later this evening. I put my name on a waiting list, so I’m gonna be battling her later tonight. Isn’t that great?”

    “Uh, Angie…”

    “It would be so great if you could watch me battle against her, too!”

    “Look, Angie…”

    “I’d love it, and I’ll take no answer but ‘yes’,” she interrupts. From this point, it gets really awkward as she lets go of the hug and gives Ash a peck on the cheek. “What do you have to say about my offer now?”

    At this point, Zoey, who Angie hasn’t acknowledged, along with Dawn, are really shaking in their shoes at the moment. The nerve of this girl, whom both coordinators know, to just barge into their conversation and kiss people and not even say hello to those around him. Dawn wasn’t touching Zoey at the moment, but was certain that she was boiling hot under her collar after watching what she did.

    She could tear this Angie apart if she wanted to, and Dawn wouldn’t blame her a bit, but first, she has to let her know what’s what. Then, she can pursue whatever means of release she deems appropriate for this sassy girl attempting to butt into her business without warning.

    ---------

    Your Thoughts?
    Last edited by Rave The Rich; 12th July 2009 at 2:53 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Annapolis, Maryland
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    Default Now, It's Time For Chapter Five!

    Chapter Five is here! Please don't forget to leave a review!

    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3782092/5/

    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokemon, a creation of one Satoshi Tajiri, and is produced domestically (in the United States) by Pokemon USA/The Pokemon Company, and internationally by Shogakukan and OLM. I personally own nothing and make nothing by writing this. Please do not flame.

    (Chapter 5- Who Bears the Bad News?)

    ---------

    “Hey, Angie! Angie!” Zoey exclaims, causing the aforementioned young girl to turn her head to the left and see the really unhappy camper in the formal wear for the first time.

    A momentary instance of shock appears on her face, and not that long afterwards, it’s gone. Sarcastically, she feigns surprise upon seeing the Snowpoint resident. “Why, Zoey! This is certainly an interesting surprise to see you here back home again.”

    “Spare me, Angie,” she speaks, sounding very displeased at the actions of this girl who she’s known since early childhood. “Where in God’s name do you get off thinking that you can just kiss my boyfriend and flat out ignore me and my friend, Dawn, sitting here next to him and not think that you will catch seven kinds of heck for it?”

    “Oh, Dawn,” Angie says, actually seeing the coordinator next to Zoey for the first time, having not noticed her earlier given that all of her attention was focused upon Ash. “How’ve you been since we last met?”

    “Well, not bad…”

    “Don’t try and change the subject on me, Angie! It’s not gonna work!” Zoey interrupts, not as concerned about any sort of reuniting that the Solaceon Town native had with her friend while Ash was in his many travels. “I’m still trying to figure out what was going on in your mind when you kissed Ash…almost sight unseen. What would posses you to do it when you don’t even know what’s been going on between us over the last three months?”

    “Zoey, just…stay calm about this, okay?” Dawn unexpectedly warns Zoey.

    Turning back over to her friend, she makes it clear, “Unlike Angie, Dawn, I don’t plan on doing anything rash and stupid.”

    “Hey, I’m standing here, you know?”

    “And so am I! What’s it to you?” Zoey retaliates, shutting the combative girl down for that moment. She adds, “No one asked you to get into my conversation or steal a kiss from my boyfriend, so until further notice keep quiet and just butt out of my business! I’m far from done with you.”

    “Who do you think you’re talking to, Zoey?” Angie interjects once more. She just flat out refused to let the home town girl have the last word, no matter what. Now turning over to Ash, she asks him, “Are you gonna stand there and just let her talk to me like that?”

    Speaking his first words since the unexpected kiss, Ash answers, “Well, Angie, to be quite frank with you, what you just did was totally uncalled for. You could have, first off, asked me if I were even interested in a kiss, which I wasn’t, but you didn’t even do that.”

    Angie now appears to be quite uneasy upon looking at Ash once she hears just how he felt about her rash actions. “What you did was walk up to me, talk about how much you missed me, and for the record, while I thought of you, I didn’t have nearly the same types of feelings for you that you apparently had—I mean, have, for me. Afterwards, you locked lips with me without warning thinking that I would somehow magically drop everything and run off with you to start traveling through Sinnoh with you or at least let me be your boyfriend and watch the daycare when I already call someone my girlfriend. Angie, forgive me if I consider that some sort of fantasy in your head that’s really unfair when you think about it, but…no. It won’t happen and I think that it’s…pretty selfish on your part to expect me to follow along like you’re some sort of Pied Piper.” That part did hurt her quite a bit, but she didn’t let it show.

    Off to her side, she notices a very shrewd smirk upon the face of the slightly gender-bending preteen. It leaves quite a bitter taste in her mouth, but given that Ash is speaking along the same lines as Zoey and also given the fact that the two are apparently in a relationship and are standing by each other’s words, she isn’t terribly surprised by what Ash just said. Angie gets the feeling that she will have to work much harder on this in order to make Ash see the light and leave Zoey for her. In other words, she’ll have to convince Ash that he has made a huge mistake, which has never been an easy thing for anyone to do over the entire length of his journey.

    “I couldn’t have said it better myself, Ash. Thanks for saying what really should be shouted from rooftops so Angie can get it through her thick skull. Dawn, I gotta warn you,” Zoey says, turning back over to her fellow coordinator, “I’m gonna have to handle this on my own here with as little distractions as I can stand. I’ve got Ash on my side. I’m gonna say some stuff that will likely be out of character.”

    “You don’t want me to be here, I understand, Zoey,” Dawn replies, already knowing what her friend would like her to do.

    “Thanks, and you know it’s nothing personal, right?” she questions. “I might be saying some things here that I only want a few people knowing.”

    “No problem. I’ll just go up to the VIP section and speak with Brock and your family,” she decides. “They might be wondering where you are, so if they asked…”

    “Just tell them that I’m in the locker room working out strategy against Emery for my battle,” Zoey finishes for her Dawn. Sighing for a moment, she does attempt to find the silver lining in this cloud when she says, “At least I have the Drew/Nando battle and at least another fifteen minutes to take care of this…issue before I have to get back to center stage. That ought to be more than enough time to nip this in the bud.”

    “Okay. Again remember what I told you earlier, and Ash?

    “Yes, Dawn?”

    “I know you have something to keep the time. Please, please keep Zoey apprised of the time so that she isn’t late for her battle. Remember, being late for an appeal or battle is an automatic forfeit.”

    “Got it,” Ash assures as Dawn walks over to the private gate leading to the contest hall suites. The turn to this area leads to a hallway out of sight of Ash, Angie and Zoey and as Dawn walks through this corner, she runs right into Brock, who’s carrying Pikachu on his shoulders and is obviously watching over the yellow mouse while his partner was going to have his discussion with Zoey and Dawn about their new traveling arrangements.

    “Brock!” she exclaims. “I thought that you’d be up in the booth!”

    “Well, I was,” he admits, “but Zoey’s folks wanted me to check up on her and make sure that she’s fine. That’s why I’m here.”

    Dawn gets the feeling that Brock is in for a surprise once she shows him just where Zoey is and what she’s doing. “Well, she is okay, but…she got a pretty bad surprise just now. I’m actually not supposed to be around them while she and Ash have a little chat…”

    “Wait, Zoey and Ash? Is there a problem between them?” Brock asks. Pikachu would like to know the answer to this question, as well.

    “Oh, no! They’re fine,” she answers, rejecting any thought of relationship problems between Ash and Zoey that they can’t help. “It’s just that...” Not really having an answer for what occurred just a few minutes ago, Dawn takes Brock by the hand and goes back around the corner where she came from. Pointing over to where the young couple is standing, Dawn asks her older friend to pay attention to the person around them and talking.

    “Pika?”

    “Is that…”

    “Shh!” Dawn says, stopping Brock from blowing their cover, and apparently learning her lesson from spying on Ash’s date one night ago. She lets Brock know of her desire not to violate his trust again by asking him, “Do you two want to be found out again?”

    “Sorry,” he simply speaks before turning over in the direction of the trio and seeing that more than just a lively discussion is occurring between them. The subject on their mind is love. And while it sounds easy, nothing could be more difficult for one who never even had much of a shot.

    “And you’ve been the only person who’s been on my mind for all that time, Ash,” Angie pleads with her fellow trainer. “I swear that’s the case.”

    “Oh, baloney,” Zoey responds, becoming more and more vexed at the words coming out of this girl’s mouth.

    Angie has had just about enough of the snide commentary from Zoey that she could stand. It seemed as if she could care less what Ash thought in this discussion they were having. As she reminds Zoey, “I thought you said you were gonna keep your mouth shut! Ash wanted to know the reason why I kissed him and I told him.”

    “No, what you told him were a bunch of sob stories about love and the heart and the moon and stars,” she counters, mocking Angie’s feelings and the fact that she did shed a tear when she explain what went behind kissing the trainer from Pallet, “and about how you feel that you and him are soul mates and that you connect on a different plane than everyone else and are an extension of each other. And then I hear stories about ghosts sending you the spirit world for eternity and Ash saving you? Do you know how crazy you sound right now? We’re nearing stalker levels with what you’ve been talking about. Please…just spare me—spare us before I throw all my guts up on this floor. Soap operas have more believability than what just came out of your mouth!” Scoffing, she adds, “What a bunch of crap. You just want to show me up…again. That’s it.”

    “Not true, Zoey!” Angie exclaims as she really starts to get red in the face at the rampant criticism coming from Zoey, who wasn’t there at summer camp to watch the origins of her relationship with Ash.

    Speaking of which, he has remained relatively quiet throughout this entire process, only raising his voice a few times when either Angie or Zoey would walk up to one another or use much harsher language than either of their parents would surely allow for both of them being slightly younger than he is at age fourteen. While they could disagree, and he would be all right with that, he didn’t want anything to escalate to a level it didn’t need to go. After all, just like the initial meeting with Zoey’s folks, she seems to be well equipped enough to do all the talking.

    “You don’t know what he and I experienced at summer camp together, so don’t you even pretend to understand, Zoey!”

    “There she goes again,” the coordinator remarks, rolling her eyes while Angie gets real emotional thinking about Ash risking his hide to save hers from the Ghost girl that attempted to send Angie to the spirit world during Summer Academy. “Always a crybaby, even when we were little kids, she was like this. Either it was ‘It’s too cold over in Snowpoint, mommy. Why can’t cousin Zoey and her family come here?’ or something like that. Ash, I know you’re smarter than to actually fall for this nonsense. Well, if you’re thinking about it, please think again.”

    “Wait, hold on!” Ash says, uncharacteristic of his role in this conversation up until now. “First off,” he asks, pointing to the two girls in front of him, “you two are cousins?”

    “Distant cousins,” Angie clarifies, “let’s just get that straight right here and now.”

    “How distant?”

    “We’re eighth cousins, Ash,” Zoey answers. “At that point, you wonder if people are even related when you go that deep down the bloodline, but our families knew each other from a while back. It was my mom who broke out her family history and learned that Angie’s mother and my mother had the same ancestor. That’s neither here nor there, though.”

    “Actually, I think it is,” Ash responds. “You two should be good friends with one another! You’re practically the same age; you’ve got similarities in look and style. Zoey likes to rock out, show off a bit, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind just like you, Angie. Why are you arguing?” Realizing that that question was more than just a little dumb, Ash, more or less, retracts his question. “Okay, wait. I think that I know the reason why, but even if I weren’t in the picture, I’d see no reason why you’d be at one another’s throats…unless you two are too much alike to even get along.”

    “Huh?” both tomboys question.

    “I mean, based on everything, you both did develop crushes on me,” he defends. “Think about it, you two.”

    While the two continue to have a discussion of which Angie attempts to convince Ash that their experiences actually trump those that he could have had with Zoey, even though both of them make it clear that they have been a couple for at least three months, Zoey would like nothing more than to just tell Angie off, leave this scene and head back to the locker room to prepare for her next battle against Emery but Ash, wanting to give the Solaceon Town trainer a fair opportunity to explain herself, lets her continue to talk. Why, she has no real clue, but Zoey gathers that that’s just Ash and what she has to put up with in her boyfriend.

    For the record, nobody is still perfect.

    Far off from this area are the watching eyes, once again, of Brock and Dawn with Pikachu curious as to why Ash is arguing with Angie in the first place. Both Brock and Dawn, without a doubt, are behind Zoey, who showed true courage and resolve when she ultimately decided to admit her feelings to Ash about three months ago. Nevertheless, both of them are much clued in to the attitude of Angie and the hothead that she often possesses. Brock even makes the comment, fearing some form of violence that may occur between the two, “Houston…I think we have a problem."

    “Not to joke or make light about this at all,” Dawn counters, “but I've never seen Zoey in a catfight ... and I don't wanna! I mean, I’ve never seen her…just shaking mad as she was when Angie did that to Ash. I’m kind of concerned. I wanna step in and tell them to just stop and bury the hatchet, but I’m not even supposed to be here, you know?” Although Dawn is sort of rambling, the one thing that’s the clearest is her words. She looks a bit downtrodden after what she just said, but after being found out and reprimanded by Ash last night, she can’t do much now without feeling the crunch of continuously sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Pikachu, still perched on the shoulder of Brock, bounces over about twelve or fifteen inches to go over to Dawn’s shoulder and console her.

    The Pokémon does its job well and Dawn thanks the yellow electric mouse for his concern.

    Brock can see that this, through no fault of her own, is taking its toll on Dawn. If you were in her shoes, the results might differ, but the idea is the same: Would the sudden and surprising needs of your friends always supersede their wishes and, in that same vein, their privacy? This is the internal war going on inside the head of Dawn right now which Brock is only getting an inkling of while standing next to the younger girl.

    Putting a comforting hand on her right shoulder, he attempts to explain what’s happening right now to Dawn. "These are the pitfalls of romance realized, Dawn. Sure it's great to be in love and feel it. The changes that I’ve seen in Ash can’t possibly be measured, but this is what those we who truly know what love is refer to as 'The Dark Side.'"

    "This is what I was afraid of, for Zoey's sake," she admits. “Not really knowing what a relationship with Ash would mean, I…did have my doubts when she said, ‘I think he’s cute, very handsome and I’d like to get to know him some more,’ but he’s really shown himself to be quite the gentleman and like you, I do notice the change in his behavior and temperament. And going back to what you just said, Brock, if your life had any more exposure to the 'Dark Side' than you already do, I'd be calling you Lord Vader."

    Chuckling, but somewhat surprised that Dawn got the reference; Brock continues down the path, declaring that, "Johanna-wan has taught you well."

    Wondering why in the world they would stop while they are still ahead, she keeps up the act by adding, "Naturally, at age ten, I’m nowhere near being a Jedi yet. Not even Anakin was at the point the council found him, but that doesn't mean I don't have my moments."

    Brock is, again, amazed at Dawn. While most of his male peers have the Star Wars franchise down to almost a science, so did she.

    Clearly, in his head, there is much more to her than meets the eye. He continues his ode to the science fiction juggernaut by claiming, "Indeed, you are but a learner, but soon, I see you as a master. Seriously, I do. You are doing so well in coordinating that I wouldn’t be surprised that you surpass you mom in terms of statistics, wins and accomplishments. Why do I say that? Because I feel you have it in you to put in the hard work. Just like Ash."

    "Well, first off, thank you,” Dawn says, truly flattered at the words coming out of his mouth, “but if I'm the learner, what in the world would that make you? I never knew of a Jedi with that much exposure to the Dark Side who didn't turn eventually. But somehow you're still here, alive and kicking with the rest of us Light-siders."

    “That’s a fair question,” Brock says, so he gives it some thought before coming up with an answer. Along with that, it appeared to be a serious question on the surface, so he puts aside his many different references to George Lucas’s creation and takes his time.

    There’s only one real way for him to answer his question, and that is the obvious way. “It's because I've not yet found the person that would cause me to go over the edge and make me want to risk everything in the process. No one has made me do that yet or think those same thoughts. Sure I fawn over the ladies like a fan, but there still hasn't been much luck for me in finding a partner, not just a woman or girl but a true partner, you know?"

    Dawn had no idea that Brock had these thoughts. Sure, he did come across as the ultimate flirt in many ways, but just as Brock had the same idea that there was more to Dawn than just face value, she’s getting that same sort of vibe from him. "Wow. That’s a good point that you just made. My mother is always talking about how you need to be equals in a relationship for it to last a long time, and when I see Zoey and Ash, I see equal parts. I don’t see anyone controlling their partnership at all. Do you?"

    “No, you’re right and your mother is wise in that regard, as well. That’s the same thing that my mother and dad have told me and my younger siblings, as well. And you know? It's…just the truth! They’re right. It’s about everyone coming together, pulling their own share of weight and having a common goal. I highly doubt that Zoey and Ash are at the same level as my mom and dad, though. They aren’t even a third their age, after all, but I’m sure that they’d be more than happy to help each other achieve their goals, so they do have that going for them.”

    "No need to tell me that, I've seen the results first hand,” Dawn speaks from some personal experience. “I might have been young when it all went down, but looking back on it, I got the feeling of what the problems between my folks came down to. It kind of makes me wish my mom would have been a bit choosier and a bit more patient before she decided she wanted a kid, but it's not like I hold it against her. I just figure it'd be nice to have my dad around for a change, maybe see her be happy with something other than watching me 24/7."

    While he could not be 100 percent sure about it unless he asked, Brock feels that Dawn was talking about some sort of situation involving divorce in her own family. Being a firm believer in there being a time and a place for everything, he decides not to press on that matter and instead implores the young one to look on the bright side. "You still have your mom with you, no matter what. Even if circumstances did not turn out the way she or her family might have preferred, you're no one's curse and I'm sure she never regrets a day gone by having you nearby. You say that her watching you 24/7 seems like a bore or an annoyance, but...if I know your mom, I think she'd say it is her life and that guiding you to where you need to go so that your life can be just a little bit easier than hers is her way of saying, 'I don't ever want you to live a life of 'What if's.' That’s just my thought, though."

    He made a great point, to be honest. She thought about it and Dawn can’t remember a day going by where her mother ever complained about having her around or helping her out using her version of tough love that she has seen before in Johanna’s mother, her grandmother. It seemed to do its job and despite the ill will she might feel at the moment the discipline, scolding or punishment came down, the compassion shown has no substitute, whatsoever. The bottom line is she’d trade in her mother and her being nearby and often just a call away for absolutely nothing and any thoughts to the contrary, while they would be fleeting in nature, were more or less fantasy and a form of longing for something that is likely not in the cards for her or her mom anytime soon if they can help it.

    "You're right,” she tells Brock. “I do get that feeling from her all the time. It's just so hard to think that she doesn't still have any other dreams or goals that don't have anything to do with me. I mean, isn't it okay for someone's parents to want to do something that isn't connected to their kids? I know it must sound selfish, but I guess since I'm not a mother, I just wouldn't understand. At least that's what she tells me..."

    "We all have dreams and aspirations, Dawn.” In that quote, Brock is really stating the obvious, but going right along, he adds this. “They don't just magically go away when children enter the picture, but good parents always know what priority number one is. And I've seen those dreams come true at times, too. I mean they can still do it, if they want, but only if they never forget that when they come home, someone is waiting for them and only them. That's life, really. While I can’t speak for my mom and dad as much as you can for your mom, I know that we can still be inspirations for our parents. Offer them encouragement, give them appreciation and tell them to keep their heads up when they're down. I think that's the least we can do, for all that they've done for us…and still do."

    Absolutely amazing, and she had to wonder if this was Brock that she’s actually speaking with and, if so, where has he been hiding? A thought occurred to her about judging books, but it was somewhat quick before she tells the older male, again, "Yeah, you're right. She deserves to have her own piece of the pie, so to speak. I guess this kind of stuff just doesn't occur to me. Being an only child does that to you sometimes, especially when there's only one parent at home, like mom says sometimes, it makes it hard to see the forest for the trees, whatever that means..."

    Sometimes the lessons in front of us need to be taught several times before we have them down pat. Chuckling once more, he assures the girl of this. "You'll learn, Dawn. You're learning, right now, as we speak. And I'm happy to be there to see it."

    "Ditto,” she agrees, as it appears that the two are going about a chuckling contest at the moment, “though based on everything we’ve said, I have to admit you seem to have learned a lot of it already."

    “I've been here a bit longer than you have so, naturally, I’ve had more time to learn more on the matter. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!"

    Shaking her head, Dawn knows that she just doesn’t have a counter for that argument other than to blow a quick raspberry in Brock’s face before calling him a, “Spoilsport! You know I can’t go up against an argument like that!”

    Holding up his hands, Brock calls for order and defends his words, claiming, "Forgive me. Truth hurts, though, Dawn!"

    "Well…okay. We’ll truce for now until another day, at least?" she asks, extending her hand out to the former Pewter City gym leader.

    Bringing out his own hand, he agrees to settle for now. "It's a deal," is what he says, and for a moment or two, the two just stand there by the corner they’ve been over for several minutes.

    "All right, then,” Dawn says, breaking the silence between the two, “do you know what we were talking about before this?"

    “Oh, my God! Do you take me for being some stupid little twit, Angie?”

    They got their answer then and there. “Oh, yeah,” they say in unison, with Pikachu saying the first part of his name in lieu of English lessons. “That.”

    “Angie, you ignorant little…”

    “Zoey!” Ash interjects. “No! There’s no need for that at all. I don’t even use that language and Paul often times leaves me steaming mad, but I don’t curse to let it out! And besides, I don’t care how you feel about her, or how far the bloodline goes, she’s your cousin. She’s family, and she should be treated with respect!”

    “I wasn’t gonna curse at her.”

    “Oh, yeah. That’s real believable, Zoey,” he says, though insincerely. “Given that you are as angry as I gather you are about Angie, and for good reason, I think you were gonna call her that word that rhymes with ‘pitch’, am I right?”

    “You know she was.”

    “Hey, why are you even talking, Angie?” he asks her, his tone really surprising her given the scolding he just gave her cousin, Zoey. “You didn’t show much dignity or restraint yourself, so you really don’t have a leg to stand on. You keep taking and taking and you wonder why the one time that you want something more than anything else; you don’t get it. Well, I’ll tell you why. You don’t get it because you really don’t get it! Zoey Aiken is my girlfriend and I intend to keep it that way. You coming back into my life as a friend is completely acceptable, in fact, I absolutely welcome it, but dropping this bombshell on me about wanting to be my girlfriend is something that I just can’t handle when you suddenly bring all of this to the surface!”

    Grabbing his head, Ash feels a bit of a headache coming along and he exclaims in light of these feelings, “God! I can’t believe how selfish you were, Angie! All you did was think about yourself and it got you absolutely nowhere. I don’t care what you do or say, know this,” and then Ash gets right in the face of the fellow trainer and says, “I will not leaving Zoey for you; not here, not now, and especially not when this weekend was set aside for me to meet her family who all happen to be here today.” Stepping back from the face of Angie, he then makes this assumption based upon his girlfriend’s distant familial relationship with the other girl. “Besides, if I did that to her, which I won’t, what wouldn’t I do to you? Think about it and while you do, my girlfriend and I will be leaving.” Taking Zoey by the hand, he lets Angie know that, “She has a battle that she needs to tend to, and she’s running very late. I’ll…good luck to you, Angie. We must be going.”

    “All right, Ash!” Dawn exclaims as she feels that it’s about time for her and Brock to head back to the VIP section before anyone is the wiser, so they do that and leave what they feel is the tail end of this three way conversation gone terribly south. Brock, Dawn and Pikachu actually run in order to keep from being found out once more, leave for the stairs leading up the press box and run out of sight.

    Consider that their small victory. For Zoey and Ash, however, their victory would have to not include Angie, so they make their way over in the direction of the locker rooms in the same direction where Brock and Dawn connected even more and spied on their business once again.

    They think that they might have done away with the high-aiming hoyden, until she yells back at them, “Then I guess I’ll see you later tonight, Ash, when you have your gym battle!”

    Turning around, Ash can’t think about much except how badly he’d like to just shake some sense into the girl, but fearing that someone might take the action the wrong way and leave him with more trouble than he’d ever ask for.

  10. #10
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    Default

    Because the story's chapter went over the character limit, its parts have been separated. This is the second part of chapter five.

    ---------

    “With only a minute or so remaining in this battle, LaRousse City’s Drew has only a slight advantage in percentage points against Nando in a true battle of the Roserades!” Marian speaks to the crowd, talking about what has become a truly exciting affair of same-species Pokémon.

    “I’m surprised that those four haven’t come back to look at this,” Peter Aiken admits in reference to his daughter and her friends. “This has been one heck of a battle and Zoey and Dawn could learn something from this, too!”

    “I know,” Valerie says to her husband, “but Dawn did let us know that Zoey was in the locker room prepping for Emery right after this match, so I really can’t blame her if she doesn’t want to lose her focus.”

    “Good point,” he says as he continues to watch the battle in progress. Drew is about to make a command in the hopes of ending what has been a real offensive exchange.

    “Now, Roserade,” he calls, “use Sludge Bomb. I think Nando’s Roserade is weakened enough to go for the finish!”

    Roserade takes a while to set up for this maneuver, so Nando knows that his Pokémon has at least a chance to get out of the way of this powerful and potentially poisonous and perilous predicament.

    “Roserade, make the dodge!” Though weakened, Roserade’s determination in the heat of battle hasn’t changed. The major problem is that the ability of Nando’s Pokémon to quickly respond to such a call has been diminished quite a bit.

    Because of this, Drew’s Roserade makes the hit with the Sludge Bomb, but the hit appears to be more like a clip in the minds of those attending. This ‘clip’ does have its effects, though. Nando’s Roserade appears to be in a worse situation than he was before the attack, and while he remains standing up, it’s only for a few seconds before the combined attacks take their ultimate toll and whoever placed a bet on the Roserade has pushed on a knockout…by Drew’s Roserade, with less than ten seconds remaining in the battle.

    “Nando’s Roserade is unable to go on!” says the referee in charge. “Drew’s Roserade is the winner!”

    “And with that victory, he will go on to the finals against the winner of Zoey and Emery coming up in just a few moments,” Marian adds. “Stay right here, folks, as your hometown girl is just minutes away!” While Marian speaks with the people in the contest hall and to the television audience, Nando and Drew shake hands, with both of them saying that the battle was great.

    “I really hope that I can see you again one day,” Nando tells Drew. “I’m sure that our paths will cross once more and when they do, I vow to prepare myself for whatever you bring to battle.”

    “As will I,” Drew responds. “Good luck on doing something that I don’t know I’m cut out for in battling and coordinating in the same journey.”

    “Keep in touch and let me know how you do when you get back to Johto.”

    “I will, and thank you,” Drew speaks as the two of them make their way towards the curtain leading to the backstage area. After signing a couple of autographs of the young kids in attendance and attempting to keep some of the female population at bay, the two gentlemen eventually disappear to the dressing rooms to get a look at the next battle about to take place in a few minutes.

    Both Nando and Drew pass a young teen boy with long, curly brunette hair, who’s wearing a tie-dyed shirt and khaki pants with sunglasses in the style of either John Lennon or his wife. He seems to look the part quite well. Although age thirteen, he has the height of a ten-year-old, with puberty seeming to not grant him much in the way of gifts at four feet, eight inches tall and weighing only seventy-five pounds.

    He’s completely non-threatening in just about every way imaginable, and he knows this. If he took a poll, he’d come to the conclusion that at least two out of every three girls under his age and coordinating could probably beat him up and not break a sweat doing it. He admits that this is the case and knows how puny he is, but has lived with it for a while with it not worrying him much at all. Much of that has to do with his personality, which is about as extroverted as one can get. While in school, most kids loved him and stood up for him in the face of those who weren’t as enamored with him. For many, he was truly the most non-threatening young man that they met; even his name refused to ebb any sort of strength or power within him…until his name gets called.

    An instrumental cover of ‘Kashmir’ plays over the speakers as Marian begins introductions for the next semi-final match. “And now, coming back to the stage; this young man is from Sunyshore City. Please welcome back…Emery!”

    Emery Todd Maudlin, to be more exact, and when he walks to center stage, he can swear that he just heard some boos from the crowd. It’s not as if he didn’t expect them to be like this. After all, if Emery wins this he sends a majority of the fans home gravely disappointed.

    Now that he’s taken his place on the right side of the field, it’s very obvious, though the contest directors seek to avoid it as much as they can, that a lot of people are booing him. In his mind, it’s all right. In all likelihood, the same thing will happen when he participates in a Sunyshore City contest in about a month’s time.

    ---------

    “I cannot believe it.”

    “Zoey, you gotta believe me when I say this,” Ash says while both of them walk to the curtain area and prepare for her entrance, “I entered my information online and wanted to do the battle tonight so badly and move on from there. I had no clue; none whatsoever, that Angie scheduled her battle right before mine!”

    “Look, it’s not in my best interest to think about that right now,” Zoey responds, her attention solely focused on Emery and his challenge. “I’ll just call Candice and set up a private battle between the two of you and volia! The problem is solved.”

    “You can do that?”

    “We’re buddies, sure!” she answers. “I’ll just claim that there is a special interest in this battle being a private one and go from there.”

    “All right, then,” Ash agrees. “You believe me when I said that I’d never do anything like that to compromise our relationship, right?”

    “I do. It might not seem like it, but I really do.”

    “You’re right. You have to focus. This is what you’ve wanted for so long.”

    “Ladies and gentlemen! Please welcome back to the stage your hometown girl…Zoey!” Marian again begins right before the cue to yet another rock staple from T. Rex that’s known for a very simplistic but impactful chorus.

    “That’s your cue!” Ash exclaims. Patting his girlfriend on the back, he gives Zoey and kiss on the cheek and implores her to, “Break a leg!”

    “Thanks,” Zoey speaks automatically. Despite the gesture, she could care less that Ash gave her a good luck kiss. She just wanted to get the job done and it all started by taking that walk down the aisle and back to center stage; a place she’s most familiar with and against an unfamiliar new challenge in Emery, who looks as if he could’ve gotten his starter Pokémon a few days ago, but is actually older than Zoey.

    Both of them meet in the center of the ring and shake hands, awaiting the referee to officially begin procedure here for the second semifinal match. Heading back to their corners, the battle begins.

    “Glameow, curtain!” Zoey commands, surprising none of her friends with this move.

    “Vespiquen, the time is now!” calls Emery, and a queen bee-like Pokémon appears in front of the crowd. This marks only the second time that Zoey has seen this bug flyer, but she is nevertheless prepared for battle.

    “Now, Glameow, get Vespiquen off her game with a growl!”

    It won’t do any damage, that much is certain, but most of a contest battle is ironically not about who can deliver the most pack in their punch. Despite this attack’s apparent shortcomings it does accomplish something in that Vespiquen is now softened, but only somewhat, for further attack.

    “No worries!” Emery concludes. “I still have some more tricks up my sleeve. Remember that I’m in command of a flyer first and foremost. Vespiquen, use fury cutter on Glameow, now!”

    The bee Pokémon makes like an aerial ace, no pun intended, and swoops down to just above the ground to attempt a slashing attack.

    Glameow, steady as she goes, is ready for such an assault. “Glameow, no dodging on this one. Let’s see how well Emery’s Vespiquen is trained using your fury swipes!”

    While not as accurate as a fury cutter from Vespiquen, the attack is done multiple times on Glameow’s foe. Along with that, while Glameow does take some damage from the cutter, it is decreased from the damage that she would’ve gotten had she failed in any attempt to just dodge an attack of higher accuracy.

    “As it stands right now in the opening stages of this bout, Zoey holds only a slight lead against Emery in percentage points, but there is still a long way for both of these young talents to go before victory.”

    The words from Marian could not ring more clearly in the mind of Zoey. The point made is an excellent one and she holds onto the advice in thinking of her next move with Glameow. “Go for hypnosis!” is all she says.

    Glameow follows her trainer’s advice, but the call is not the best one to make for multiple reasons, notwithstanding the flying ability of her opponent, which makes it much more difficult to keep Vespiquen in one place, especially with Emery calling on his Pokémon to do nothing but continuously dodge its opposition to great success.

    Certain that Glameow is growing in frustration at not being able to get Vespiquen to fall into a deep sleep, Emery decides to take that emotion to the next level and really throw Glameow off of her game. “Keep it up with…swagger.”

    Vespiquen does so and, again, the battle is lending itself to not being a strict offensive affair, but a more technical showing of the different ways to go about victory.

    The attack does its job and with more than half of the battle remaining, both trainers are not as apt to go for a kill as of yet. Both Zoey and Emery know that each other’s Pokémon is capable of it, but want to be certain that calling out their most powerful attacks will yield their desired results of ending the fight early and getting to work on Drew, who’s patiently waiting in the wings for who escapes this dogfight as victor.

    Glameow is terribly confused at the moment and frustrated in feeling that she’s not able to land any attacks. Because of this she screeches, and a loud meow is heard throughout the contest hall.

    As Zoey was about to encourage her cat-like Pokémon to continue to keep at her pace, the call of swagger backfires, but only somewhat. The meow is loud enough that Vespiquen can feel the cry from her spot, perched high above the arena. The meowing seems to bring the bee lower and lower down as the sound seems to wear down on her more and more. If one didn’t know any better, they might gather the conclusion that the Pokémon had a headache or something of that vein.

    One might argue that the judges could be reaching on this call, but under the must system that they run, two of them do notice that Vespiquen’s expression does show a great deal of pain; pain which must be considered in the final results of a contest battle and pain that didn’t have to take place if Emery knew that that would be the reaction of Glameow to his move to further aggravate the Pokémon.

    So the points come way down for Emery, who notices this and takes that into account for the future. “All right, that wasn’t for the best in retrospect. Let’s see heal order!”

    ‘Are you kidding me?’ Zoey thinks, wondering why Emery would waste a move on this when Glameow could come back at any time with a power attack and end the match. ‘Besides, his hit points can’t even be that low given the type of battle we’ve had.’ Zoey feels that while it will take time for Vespiquen to build back her hit points, she can just call for a major strike to end this one with time to spare.

    “Glameow, Shadow Claw!” this one may very well end it, but Emery’s face shows no worry or concern whatsoever. In fact, if Zoey didn’t know better, she could’ve sworn that she saw a smile on the older boy’s face, as if he planned for all of this in advance.

    “Vespiquen, send your little helpers out for Attack Order, now!” With this call, the same helpers that were aiming to get the hit points of their so-called ‘queen’ raised suddenly changed course and worked upon attacking Glameow just like a massive swarm of bees would attack if they felt threatened.

    If Brock didn’t get the sense of using heal order at that moment, it was crystal clear right now. “Now it makes sense,” he explains to Dawn and the rest of the Aiken family. “Emery knew that heal order would take too long for it to completely work in a five minute contest battle where every single move has to count, but he also knew that it would work partially to get Vespiquen’s hit points up to a level where Glameow would have to use all of her power moves to win by knockout and use them to their full effectiveness. The odds of that happening with Vespiquen’s flying abilities are greatly diminished in battle right now.”

    “But that can’t mean that Zoey is completely out of luck, right?” Valerie questions, feeling that there must be some sort of comeback against this strategic dynamo who looks like he’s not yet left grammar school.

    “Maybe, but it seems unlikely at this point in the match.”

    “Glameow, use iron tail!” Zoey quickly commands before Vespiquen’s minions can get close to her and start their work pummeling the cat Pokémon.

    While Glameow are not known for particularly quick and rapid speed, Zoey has trained hers to use what she has to eliminate such a disadvantage. Instead of jumping with her paws in the direction of Vespiquen, she uses her spring-like tail to propel herself upward and cause her to leap high in the air, do a tumbling motion while in the air, spinning her body like a drill bit before flipping forward and flinging her tail in Vespiquen’s area, aiming directly for the red gem in the center of her forehead.

    She makes contact about as well as Zoey could ask from her signature Pokémon, but right afterwards, falls to the ground as the numerous hits from the bees causes her fall from grace. Of course Vespiquen is not spared in the exchange having gotten hit by iron tail in the worst area possible for her. She falls to the ground just like her opponent and can’t recover in time to suffer even more damage in the fall.

    With all of this taken into account by the three skilled judges, the impact of both power moves cannot be underestimated, but with only fifteen seconds remaining, none of the judges are really sure that either Pokémon delivered a true knockout in the waning moments of the bout. Even with Glameow continuing to be torn apart little by little from Vespiquen’s bees, her percentage points have not fallen at nearly the level Emery was hoping for in the closing stages of the bout.

    Even with Vespiquen not responding to any calls from her trainer, the judges have not stopped the match, and with the seconds ticking down, the battle ends without a clear winner in their minds.

    “Glameow/Vespiquen!” both exclaim to their respective Pokémon, one, to find out if they are all right, and two, to let them know that they are gonna return them back into their respective Poké Balls.

    After Zoey does this, she speaks to Glameow through her Poké Ball and lets her know, “Win or lose, you were absolutely fantastic. I know some people were counting us out after Emery used attack order, but you kept your cool, and…I don’t know. We’ll just have to see.”

    From the inside of the curtain, Ash hopes for a result favoring his girlfriend, but even he’d be lying if he said that he was absolutely certain Zoey was the victor in that battle.

    Getting handed a small index card from Contesta, Marian then reads off the copy, saying, “We have not had a closer contest battle in the Sinnoh region this season, but after five of the most fierce, but technical battle we’ve seen in quite a while, the winner, by just one percentage point, and the one going on to the finals against Drew is…”

    The crowd, the participants and the production crew awaits the answer and they get it when Marian informs everyone with one simple name. “Emery!”

    The crowd, a majority of it, to be exact, did not take too well to this revelation that their own did not win the battle, but Zoey, while a bit shaken that she will not go any further in this contest, is content with the results. She left nothing to chance against this trainer, and her best might have won it, but just was not enough.

    Nodding her head for a bit, she applauds emery, but then notices the clear booing in the arena and takes a stand against it. Walking up to Marian, she asks for the microphone to say some closing words, which she agrees to. Handing the microphone over to Zoey, she wastes no time in letting the people know just how she feels about their attitude. “All right, I want everyone who thinks that it’s somehow cool to boo a great competitor like Emery to listen and listen closely.

    “Our Pokémon worked their respective tails off here for both of us, and to give you fans out there a true showing of their ability. I wanted to win this ribbon for two reasons. One was to; obviously, win in front of my home crowd. I wanna thank all of you real fans out there for supporting me here as today was a great experience winning one battle and getting here to the semifinals against Emery. I’ve never met Emery in battle before today, and while he did spoil my efforts here, he wanted to do just what I did and that’s get one step closer to the Grand Festival by winning a ribbon. That’s nothing to boo, because I’ve spoiled the efforts of several hometown coordinators like myself who would like nothing more than to impress in front of fans that they knew from school or growing up, to family that have come here and taken time out of their busy schedules to see what we do best and why we consider ourselves the ultimate competitors.

    “It involves respect, first and foremost,” she answers to the critics, while shaking the hand of her opposition and then giving the young man a friendly hug. Releasing the embrace, Zoey continues, “That’s why we compete is for respect amongst all of the people I just mentioned and respect amongst complete and total strangers we’ve never heard of, but who follow all of our professional moves here in the field of battle. That’s why we stand for each other, no matter how hard fought the battle or how tough the opponent, because respect for the sport, the competitors and the Pokémon are worth that much to us. With that in mind, no one should ever, ever boo two competitors who come out here and leave it all on the field. The respect that I show Emery and the sport at large is the same respect that you should show all these competitors. So, with that said, I lost. Yep, I did, but I’m over it and I wish that Emery could get the love that you all have shown me. Give him a round of applause and stick around for the final, as will I.” Turning to the young teen, Zoey once again wishes him good luck while most people respect the wishes of Zoey and applaud the efforts of both coordinators in what was a tough semifinal round that could have gone in any direction.

    With her head still held high, she walks back over to the curtain, but gets met by about ten different kids wanting an autograph. She turns down none of them and the final match gets delayed several minutes because Zoey can’t get to the back quickly enough for Drew versus Emery to commence.

    Eventually, though, she does sign all of the autographs and makes her way back into the arms of Ash, where her true feelings are felt as she sighs and sheds a few tears, knowing how hard she worked to win her home contest, but not being able to get enough support from the judges to make it happen.

    “You did a great job out there, Zoey,” Ash assures her. “You couldn’t…no one could say for sure who won that, but you’ll get five ribbons. You did say that was your goal.”

    Though experienced and polished in her work as a coordinator, she’s still just a twelve-year-old girl going through the pitfalls of her so-called life. “I know,” she sniffles, “I just wanted to do this so badly. This is home, Ash. If there was ever one place I wanted to win…”

    “I know. It would be here,” he finishes for Zoey. “That doesn’t change the fact that your fans still love you to death and that your family is real proud of you, as am I. I’m especially proud of what you said to the people, because it was spot on, you hear me? I love you because you get it. Not like Angie.”

    This has Zoey smiling, even while tears still come out of her eyes. While she knows that she’s not in competition with Angie, it still feels good for her to know that she remains a cut above the rest. For this remark, she says, “Thank you, Ash,” to the young man in his arms, truly thankful for so many good people around and in her life.

    ---------

    After settling down, Zoey went back up to the suite to hear the applause and adoration from her family and friends for her great semifinal battle. It was as if she never lost the bout, and was truly flattering to the girl. After talking about the battle some, the group watches Drew go up against Emery for the Snowpoint City ribbon. Most of the crowd, according to the wishes of Zoey, stayed behind to watch the battle.

    The two gentlemen did not disappoint in their efforts. Drew, immersing himself in the previous battle, sought to eliminate any potential flying advantage used by Emery when he brought out Flygon and Emery went even more for power when he pulled out a Blaziken. While not as competitive as the previous match with Zoey, the battle was a true showcase of aerial skills and mastery that ended with Blaziken using quick attack followed by sky uppercut and then flare blitz, at the risk of its own hit points.

    Despite such risk, Emery and Blaziken come out of battle the victors and winners of the Snowpoint City contest ribbon, marking yet another time that Drew loses convincingly to a well-experienced fire type in battle. He doesn’t take it hard at all. With his experience, he takes it in stride, knowing that he will compete another day and in another contest. Emery is quite simply, a talent far beyond his years and is likely to compete in the Grand Festival in any region should that truly be his ultimate goal.

    About ten minutes later came the ribbon ceremony, with most competitors, and Zoey’s family, coming back up on stage to congratulate on winning the Snowpoint ribbon, his fourth in the Sinnoh region, leaving him with just one win to go before he is eligible for automatic entry.

    During the ceremony, Zoey stands next to Kenny, who congratulates her on having a great match with Emery. After thanking Kenny, he then talks about having a note for her. As he explains, “This person said something about having to prepare for a battle in a few hours time, so she left this with me because I mentioned that I knew you, but I wasn’t even sure who she was.” Pulling out the note, she asks the very critical question on his and Zoey’s mind: “So, do you know an Angie Randall?”

    That would be her distant cousin who has caused so much distaste in her mouth since her surprise visit to Snowpoint. Now, should Candice not intervene in the matter, it won’t be the last time that she’ll see the girl today because of her gym battle taking place right before Ash’s. “Yes,” Zoey answers, accepting the note. “I know her, and thanks for saving this, Kenny.”

    “No problem,” he answers. “Her only condition was that you read it with Ash next to you.”

    “What?” she asks, questioning why she’d have any say in what she does with the note that’s supposed to be just for her?

    “That’s what she told me.”

    Shaking her head, she says, “Okay then, Kenny. I’m not trying to shoot the messenger here. It’s just…I’ve had problems with her before.”

    “I see. Well, today was fun, if nothing else,” Kenny speaks. “I hope you can get that straightened out and I’ll see you when I see you, all right?”

    “Sounds like a plan,” Zoey responds, shaking Kenny’s hand and wishing him safe travels. Just a few minutes later, everyone gathers by the front entrance to get back to the parking lot and for everyone to settle back in the Aiken household for more opportunity for each side to get to know one another.

    Before all the family and friends travel back home through use of the SUVs, Zoey asks for a few minutes alone with Ash to take on the matter of Angie’s note. Though her parents know nothing about the note or the fact that Angie was in the contest hall earlier, they accept her story and both Ash and Zoey go to one of the vending machines to make heads or tails of this correspondence. After all this time, Zoey finally decides to open it up to both of them.

    Its contents are brief, its message impactful, but neither Zoey nor Ash would allow such words to affect them as much as losing one battle. The one sentence might be considered threatening or scolding in its nature, but a call by Angie, letting them both know ‘I’ll see you later tonight,’ and informing Zoey that, ‘I never give up that easily, cousin,’ before signing the note with her first name do not have either of them shaking in their boots or considering an extreme step of writing a restraining order as a way of getting their privacy.

    Sighing, Zoey makes a statement of her own, giving a quick kiss on the lips to Ash and then letting him know, “You can never say I don’t know where the trash belongs,” before crumpling up the small piece of paper and throwing it into a nearby wastebasket for paper.

    “Good job,” Ash remarks.

    After that, out of sight and largely out of mind, Zoey takes Ash by the hand and says, “We should be going home.”

    He agrees, and they walk by the entrance before noticing the Toyota and Honda at the front of the lot, signaling that everyone’s been waiting for them. For how long is anyone’s guess, but neither of them want to keep this moment from themselves or their friends and family much longer.

    For Zoey, it’s homeward bound again, this time with a truly special and gifted young man. Life is so much fun for those who make it that way and for Zoey; she’s made it into a true blast. While she can’t have everything she wanted out of this weekend, she’s fortunate that all that she needs is so close to her and supporting her in her many choices and decisions.

    She’s got it all, it would seem, and yes, life is very, very good. Like training and coordinating, though, it will be up to her and Ash to continue on this prosperous trend.

    ---------

    Your Thoughts?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Annapolis, Maryland
    Posts
    123

    Default Chapter Six is Here!

    Here's the original link...

    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3782092/6/

    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokemon, a creation of one Satoshi Tajiri, and is produced domestically (in the United States) by Pokemon USA/The Pokemon Company, and internationally by Shogakukan and OLM. I personally own nothing and make nothing by writing this. Please do not flame.

    (Chapter 6- Aiken Palace Atop Snowpoint Hill)

    He was just outside of this same building yesterday, so he knew what the house looked like upon the drive back to Zoey’s home. Still, Ash got jitters of a different sort because he knew that in just a few minutes, he’d be eating at the house of his girlfriend’s folks for the very first time. He waited for the Honda in front of him to park in the right side of the parking lot before the Toyota, in which Ash and Zoey are passengers in, parks on the left side.

    Brock and Dawn are inside of the Pilot and initially didn’t want to impose on their friends knowing that this was yet another special moment for the two of them. Despite their wishes, Ash and Zoey pleaded with them to come so here they are about to leave the car piloted by family matriarch Valerie.

    The exterior of the house, one the immediate Aiken family moved in, is a two-story brick house designed to keep warm, especially during the cold winters in the northernmost Sinnoh city. While it continued to snow throughout this Saturday afternoon, Ash took the time to notice how the rooftop looked as if it were a winter wonderland. It made him think about how the two of them were gonna spend the Christmas holidays and think of just what to get his girlfriend for the special day.

    That was a while away, though. Ash knew it as Pikachu gave his trainer a mild shock and Peter told him to snap out of whatever spell he was under and come inside of the house so that they could start dinner preparations. “After all, you need a good meal for the battle with Candice later tonight,” Zoey’s father intelligently assumes.

    “I absolutely do,” Ash admits while he, his friends and the seven Aiken family members enter the house and remove their winter coats. A few of them enter the family room and take a seat upon the request of Peter, including Brock and Dawn along with two of Zoey’s cousins, Neil and Brooke. Both of them are young teens with Neil about a year older than Ash and Brooke about a year younger. Zoey informs her family and Ash’s friends that she and Ash would be upstairs for a few minutes to take care of business before dinner. She further specified that this would concern his night battle with Candice among other items of merit.

    “Zoey really…had me there the last few minutes of her match,” Brooke says, beginning conversation while in the Aiken house. Her look is nothing like her cousin’s as she has long ebony hair and much more tanned features while in her green sweater and light blue jeans.

    “I know. I thought that she would get a win out of it,” Dawn sincerely admits. “That Emery, though, he’s tough, powerful and a hassle to deal with. I’ve lost to him once before and he’s just…I mean, if anyone out there looks like he could win the Grand Festival this April, it would seem like he’s got the best chance. I just…how do you defend someone who’s always coordinating battles against your strengths?”

    “I think you have to have a much more well-rounded attack and pull out whatever works at that time to prevail. That’s to answer your question, Dawn,” Neil remarks. “Now, if Zoey’s smart…she’d be looking at video to see anything that she might have missed out on the battlefield or something that would help her in victory the next time she meets up with that kid. Let not the name fool you; Emery is tough for not making the match into a power display against Zoey as a means of combating her finesse style of coordinating. It’s one thing to go style for style with someone, but it’s completely different when you can beat someone at their own game and not get flustered in the process.”

    “It can’t be that complicated, Neil,” Dawn replies, trying to decipher everything that Zoey’s older cousin said about the thirteen-year-old coordinator. “No one’s invincible in this sport. But, you said that Zoey would look at the video and the contest isn’t even an hour in the books? How’s that possible.”

    “Well, she has a laptop to look at all of the footage of battle, remember?” Brock questions attempting to jog Dawn’s memory.

    “Oh, yeah!” she exclaims, kicking herself for how quickly she forgot. “She can use YouTube and other sites…”

    “Not only that,” Brooke now interjects, “she can look at contest footage on the coordinator’s website. It’s not available to everyone, though. You have to type in several encryption codes and sign a contract promising not to profit from the footage in any way.”

    “Wow! Serious much?” Dawn wonders out loud.

    “When it’s your property, you’d be too,” Neil argues.

    Shrugging her shoulders, Dawn sees no point in arguing at all and says, “I suppose,” before digging deeper into the words of Zoey’s very knowledgeable first cousin.

    ---------

    Briskly walking up the stairs and to her room with Ash and Pikachu in tow, Zoey wishes to accomplish a few things while she has scant minutes before dinner and prior to the gym battle planned for later this evening.

    Ash is not exactly sure of the reasons why he’s being dragged up the stairs the way he is, so before the two of them get to what he thinks is Zoey’s room, he says, “Zoey, uh…I know that you wanted to make a call to Candice before we went to the gym tonight, but…”

    “I know what you’re thinking,” Zoey responds before Ash even has a chance to finish his question. By the closed door of what he can only assume is her room, she continues, “I really just want you to see my room and help me out with an issue that I’ve been seeing in my most recent battle. It would be too late if we tried to do it after dinner or your battle and now that this is fresh in my mind, I think it would behoove me to just get this done.”

    “How do we do that, though?” he asks.

    “I’m glad you asked, come on inside,” Zoey answers before opening the door and causing Ash to do a double take as he gets a load of all the technology in the room of this girl who isn’t even in her teens. The burgundy-painted room, in and of itself, is of a fine size for any twelve-year-old, but Zoey makes the most of it all with her twin-sized bed over by the single window in the room. Right next to the bed on the right wall are two guitars hanging on stands; one is electric and the other one bass electric.

    On the bed are a couple of keep cases near what appears to be a portable Blu-Ray Disc player that Ash remembers seeing at a recent convention. Across from the far end of the room appears to be a full black wood, polished entertainment center and workstation with an iMac computer, what appears to be three spaces for keyboards, two of which pull out of the console and one is on top of the desk area.

    In the place of simple flat-panel monitors, Zoey has two large plasma LCD TVs standing side-to-side on the stand currently on the front page of her computer’s operating system. They double as her televisions when not used for her monitors, or she can simply switch over to a video projector at the top of this entertainment and work center and look at movies or shows put onto a pull down white screen built into the room’s ceiling.

    Neither Ash nor Pikachu can believe the size of this room. “Wow! I can’t believe all this…stuff you have! Here I am thinking that you had a laptop and that was big, but…it’s as if you have your own control center here.”

    “Your room is your palace, is what I say, so enough coordinating and you are able to afford to make your palace into whatever you want…along with nice rainy day funds for college and money in stocks. Ahem—have a seat, Ash.” Motioning for Ash to sit down at one of the two leather desk chairs by the console, she clicks the mouse on the icon which looks like an orange fox with flames on the end of its tail, opening the Firefox web browser.

    Unsure of what the simple task of going online would lead, Ash asks Zoey, while holding Pikachu in his lap, “So…exactly what are we doing here at the computer and why couldn’t this wait until later?”

    Typing in a web address, Zoey explains, “I can never be sure how long it takes for this information to completely load into my computer, but since I’ve used it when the coordinating directors decided to put up in-house production footage of appeals and battles for trainers and coordinators to use in their practice, I’ve found it to be a great tool for me in my studies. Could you pull that board in front of you out of its slot?”

    Noticing one that contained one of the many keyboards, Ash says, “Oh, sure,” and pulls it out to see several buttons that would appear to be part of some elaborate tape recording and mixing equipment. The electric mouse and his trainer can only look on in curiosity. “Zoey, do you video edit?”

    “Sometimes,” she honestly answers. “I can do both audio and video editing. A lot of this is for the music portion, but I still use much of this equipment to get clearer views of…parts of a battle that I might’ve missed and to review them after the fact to learn from opponents and myself.” Turning her head to Ash, she makes the point, “After all, there’s no harm going into combat prepared, am I right?”

    “No, you’re quite right,” he admits, “don’t you get the sense, though, that some of this might be too much?”

    “There’s no substitute for me wanting to be the best, Ash. That’s how I’ve felt about it since I made the promise to Miss Senior to work at becoming the best. If you don’t believe me, look at this.” As Zoey continues to watch the footage of her losing battle against Emery load into her system, decides to open up a new tab on her browser, goes to a popular sports website and puts in ‘Emery Maudlin’ as her keyword. While waiting for the page to load, she makes no excuses, but only says, “If I had this information earlier, however minute it might be, I could have better prepared for earlier, but you know what they say about hindsight.”

    “Indeed,” Ash concurs as the page completely loads and a stock photo of Emery at about age eleven comes up on the screen along with some vital statistics. “Born September 16th, 1997…Sunyshore City…voted rookie of the year in 2008 by peers and coordinating writers…average appeal score of 25.7…” and then, he sees perhaps the most telling statistic of them all, “a Pokémon Contest match record of 62-18-1 with fourteen ribbons and he's only missed the cut twice? Good night!”

    “It says that fifteen of those losses came on decision or points,” Zoey further explains after skimming further through the details, “meaning that even in defeat, he’s one to stretch contest battles to the limit as much as he can to find a solution for victory. He’s not one to go for quick victories so while he’ll go for the occasional power attack, it doesn’t make up the basis of his repertoire even though he has many power Pokémon in his arsenal. Kind of odd, don’t you think?”

    “Yeah. All that power but on the other hand, power isn’t everything.”

    “That’s true, Ash, but knocking out opponents in record time whether doing it with finesse or because you might have something better to do that day will still get you ribbons but, for whatever reason, he doesn’t do that when he clearly can. The question now is why?” With a couple more clicks of the mouse, Zoey pulls up the footage she’s been searching for and brings up the full screen to see the opening title intro of the footage and a lower third on-screen graphic describing what’s on the screen.

    Ash immediately recognizes what he sees. “This is from today’s battle! Wow, they put this up here really quickly.”

    “It’s of the few things that they get right,” she replies, in reference to coordinating offices.

    “So you want to see what went wrong in your battle today?”

    “You bet. Ash, you see your board over there? It has all the functions of a VCR remote. Could you fast forward about two or two and a half minutes just so I can see where I might have gone wrong?”

    “All right, Zoey. You got it.” All Ash has to do is press the fast forward button to see the battle progress at lightning speed while awaiting word from Zoey to stop or press play on the large display. She does so after about twenty seconds and leaves the footage at a point where both Zoey’s Glameow and Emery’s Vespiquen appear to be at a standstill right before Zoey called for Glameow to use hypnosis.

    The video is now on pause and the top coordinator appears to be in great thought while this takes place. Ash isn’t sure if he should speak up on the issue, but such thoughts don’t really matter after Zoey turns to him again and asks, “Uh…maybe...I’ll try this. Ash, could you fetch Brock and Dawn for a bit? I don’t think there’s any such thing as too many opinions on this footage and if I ever meet Emery, or someone who battles like him again, it can only help me out.”

    “Great idea, Zoey,” he answers sincerely. “I’ll go get them now,” and he gets out of his seat with Pikachu, leaving the way he came inside to give Brock and Dawn this news.

    While Ash goes back down the steps, Zoey logs onto a program called Skype to give her friend Candice a video call knowing that she’s got office hours during weekend afternoons during regular weekday business hours during times when she’s not holding sanctioned battles.

    Logging in and seeing that Candice is available for conversation, she points the mouse over her screen name, knowing that ‘Miss Senior’ would never pass her over if only for an idle chat. Before clicking on the name and waiting for a response she decides to further solidify her request, which she isn’t confident her friend will accept, and brings out Glameow. If for no other reason, it would be a chance for her to see the catty Pokémon once again and get the girl in a good mood.

    Calling Candice, Zoey immediately gets a response along with a hearty “Hello, Zo-Zo!” from the other end of the line. Hearing a meow, she lets her friend’s signature Pokémon know that she hasn’t forgotten her, saying “and Glameow, too! You caught me at the perfect time.”

    “How so, Miss Senior?” she asks while petting her Pokémon.

    Unexpectedly, Candice starts to cry up a bit before admitting, “I’m bored out my everlasting mind! Nothing’s been happening around the gym because everyone’s wrapped up about seeing you and everyone’s all ‘Oh, Zoey’s in town! Are you gonna be there?’ and I really wanted to go, but my responsibilities as gym leader had to come first. I wanted to come, but…I was most certainly there for you in spirit.”

    “Thanks for that, Miss Senior.”

    “That was a tough battle, though! Who knew that the little Young Turk would have it in him to take you to the limit the way he did?”

    “I’m nowhere near as concerned about Emery’s politics as I am about his battling style,” Zoey says, redirecting the conversation. She feels that if she leads Candice in some meaningful discussion, she might be in a better mood to go along with her request. Toggling with the board switches for a few minutes, she asks her friend, “This is a thought I’m having while watching the footage; did you get the feeling that Emery was intentionally working in a way to throw me off because of my tendency to lead in with non-damaging attacks? I ask that because—well, the battle was not even two hours ago and the first attack he had Vespiquen use against me was fury cutter, which won’t win any battles on its own, but definitely sent a message that I should be on my feet for this one.”

    “You know what I thought was odd?” Candice asks. “Aside from the fact that he never looked flustered in the battle, he always seemed to have an answer for all your attacks. That’s a great trait to have in battle, too, because if you’re thinking a move or two ahead, then the battle can be won without the opponent even knowing it. I don’t know if that was the case here, because after a while, you realized that you had to step up your power attacks to combat his use of finesse.”

    “Miss Senior,” Zoey counters while shaking her head, “as we speak, the footage is right in front of me and I really believe it runs much deeper than that, even though that could be a factor. I think, in fact, that he might be studying more than I am because he exploited my low-impact starting style and gradual increase to power maneuvers throwing me off with all of these defensive strategy plays that I couldn’t have expected given his pension for power Pokémon. It might’ve come down to him throwing stuff at me that I didn’t expect, too. After all, who the heck uses heal order with not even two minutes left in a contest match?”

    “A winner, that’s who,” says, not Candice but Brock, who has come inside of the room with Ash and Dawn.

    “Hey, whose side are you on, anyway?” Zoey joking asks the young man while he takes a look around the pad of the princely one. “A few people just walked in, for your information, Miss Senior.”

    While the older of the two says she has no problem with it, the oldest male in the room answers, “I’m a neutral party who wants you to win, but respects those who give it their all and then some. This place is amazing, Zoey!” Brock compliments.

    “Hey, Zoey. I didn’t know you played guitar!”

    “Thanks, Brock, and Dawn, that came from my dad wanting me to play an instrument during school. He and mom knew what I really wanted to do but since I started learning it, I’ve been hooked and can’t seem to stop guitar playing for anything. Most don’t know this, but I’m working on doing some songs about my coordinating experiences. In any event, you guys caught me while I was making my phone call to Miss Senior that I told you about, Ash. We we’re just about to talk about the battle that you have with her at nine o’clock tonight.”

    “No, we weren’t.”

    “Uh, Miss Senior,” Zoey clarifies raising her eyebrows in the hopes that the older girl got her hint, “we were gonna get to that subject later, you know? I called you right after the contest while I was en route back home. I told you that I needed to talk about a gym battle and now is the time for us to talk.”

    “All I remember is us sitting here figuring out why we lost to Emery.”

    “Candice, please!” she sharply interjects, hoping that that subject would be saved for later if need be. For a second, Zoey isn’t even sure if her friend remembered the conversation, but it couldn’t have been an hour ago since that call. At the moment, with dinner a few minutes away and the Pokémon battle very close to commencing in a matter of hours, Zoey is pressed for time because she’s not been able to find a solution to getting even with Master Maudlin. Subconsciously, she feels that she might as well be back at square one. “Forget about Emery for now! You have a Pokémon battle with a young man named Ash Ketchum coming up and he made a mistake filling out his online application.”

    “Okay…” she responds, somewhat confused. “You know that unless Ash is here to vouch for himself, Zo-Zo, my hands are tied. It doesn’t matter how strong our relationship is; Sinnoh region gyms are bound by this policy.”

    Signaled by Zoey from her seat, Ash walks into the range of the camera with Pikachu, proclaiming “But I’m here and I wanted to make a request to you for tonight’s gym battle. You see, Zoey and I wanted to share this particular moment with close friends only and would like to change the proceedings to a private battle.”

    “That’s the politically correct version, Miss Senior,” Zoey elaborates over the webcam. “In reality, my distant cousin from Solaceon Town, who doesn’t collect badges, signed up for the 8:30pm battle just to make sure that she would be there right afterwards to show me up and explain why Ash is the guy for her or some made up, fairy tale nonsense like that.”

    "Hmm," Candice wonders, not really believing what she's seeing over the camera but coming up with her own outrageous theories as far as what her friend and her friend’s friend are talking about. "This all looks too good to even believe. Do you have your ID, Ash?"

    "Oh, sure!" Digging into his backpack, Ash knows that that’s the last place where he put his Pokédex, which doubles as his identification. After looking through the various compartments, he finds it inside of the topmost zipper and opens it up. After this, he steps in front of the camera and presses a button on the touch screen device allowing the gym leader to hear the voice of Dextette describe the trainer it belongs to and provide the name, picture and vital information herein to match his online application Candice pulled up for quick confirmation.

    “Okay, you are Ash Ketchum, without a doubt and you’re the only one that can make changes in your battle with me.”

    “Great!” he exclaims while Zoey and the others look on attentively. “So does this mean that I can have that private battle Zoey and I talked about earlier?”

    “Absolutely not.”

    “Well, that wasn’t so—WHAT?” Ash exclaims not realizing that Candice just denied his request. “Why not? I’m here; you identified me to be who you thought and I asked for the change. Why can’t you accommodate it if I’m the one who made it and wants to change it?”

    “Standing rules of the gym require that all gym challengers must provide clear, truthful and sufficient evidence in order for any decisions made in clear conscience by the challenger to be overturned.”

    “But we already told you that Zoey has a family member who’s getting on our nerves and making things crazy for us!” Ash responds. “She was at the contest and annoyed us to no end in sight! Is that not enough evidence for you to reconsider?”

    “Well…” Candice says, appearing to find some other information online given her frequent clicking of her computer’s mouse. Nodding her head, she asks, “Zo-Zo, do you know…Angela K. Randall? That’s the name of the trainer that I have for 8:30p.m.”

    “Unfortunately, yes,” answers the younger girl still sitting down as Candice continues to speak to her and she watches even more of her battle with Emery as the closing stage of their contest battle is played in reverse. “We call her Angie and she’s a distant cousin of mine, as I mentioned. I don’t want her seeing this battle for…special reasons.”

    “Special reasons? Zo-Zo, you know all of this sounds highly unusual and, once more, as gym leader I have to follow procedure for this and all other trainers no matter what relationship you and I have.”

    “But, Miss Senior…”

    “No buts, Zo-Zo! I can’t allow it unless you give me a concrete reason why I should ban Angie from Ash’s battles.”

    “I have one, though!”

    “Then let’s hear it,” she responds. “I’m listening, Zo-Zo.”

    “Oh-okay,” Zoey reacts, not expecting Candice to be so pressed for time when it appeared just minutes ago that she was bored and had no clue how to assuage the emotion.

    How does a girl talk about someone that means so much yet can leave her speechless like she is right now? Zoey’s going through these same feelings as she debates in her head how to tell her friend of so long the good news. Will she be happy and pleased, or tease? Or will Candice go the way Zoey would rather she didn’t by getting mushy about it and causing the girl to get red in the face. Figuring out that deciding what will happen in her mind is doing nothing for either side; Zoey decides the drop the news on Candice as lightly as she can. “Well, Miss Senior…something very good happened in my life recently.”

    “Zoey is my girlfriend and Angie wants to break us up and have me to herself. I won’t let it happen, though and her plan to have this bogus battle just so she can be nearby when I have my battle won’t work. I’m not in love with her,” he emphasizes by stealing a kiss from Zoey on her left cheek. “I love Zoey and I want Angie out of the picture.”

    Most everyone could not believe how direct Ash was, but after a while they felt that if they knew Ash, they shouldn’t have been surprised. Even Pikachu shook his head, feeling that Zoey was doing fine on her own before Ash interjected himself.

    Quite annoyed given that she wanted to break this news her own way, Zoey turns around in her seat and openly criticizes Ash, saying, “You know, I was doing a pretty good job without you. It’s a sensitive subject, you know?”

    “Sensitive subject?” Ash retorts. “It’s the truth! It’s what Candice asked for and we gave it to her.”

    “We? No, you did, Ash. I wanted to give the news to Miss Senior gently; so that she would be able to digest it because I talked about never falling in love when I was young and she’s always held that over my head.”

    “Well, I’d think that she’d not even remember a thing like that. After all, you probably said that when you were—what? Seven or eight?”

    “Actually, it was when she was about age six,” Candice interjects, trying to hold back laughter while her good friend and apparent boyfriend engage in some back and forth. “And oh, my goodness, if you two don’t fight like a couple in love, I’d sort of hesitate in saying that there’s a slight possibility in you two being brother and sister.”

    “That’s not funny, Miss Senior,” Zoey speaks, suddenly turning serious. While she thought of it as more than just a playful joke between friends, that’s all Brock and Dawn could see in the gym leader’s comments as they laugh at the girl’s sharp reaction to a statement of something that was clearly in jest.

    “Zoey certainly isn’t one to play around when it comes to her love,” Dawn remarks.

    “Indeed not,” Brock concurs.

    “So you see why we want this so much, right?” Ash questions Candice. “Angie continues making all these allusions and innuendos to me about wanting me for herself and they’re really putting a strain on me and Zoey because we know it’s just desperation on her part. We just want to have this battle in peace, I want to get my seventh badge and move on, you know?”

    “I understand that, Ash. I really do, but unless Angie actually causes a distraction during battle, my hands are tied legally,” Candice regretfully answers. “Private battles can easily be arranged seventy-two hours or more in advance. Otherwise, restrictions can only happen as a reactive measure to anything that might halt the battle and not as a form of prior restraint. I would do it because I believe you, and you’d never lie to me about anything, Zo-Zo, but my reputation as a gym leader is on the line if I give any sort of preferential treatment. Lawsuits could arise and that’s stuff I’d just like to avoid.”

    “I understand,” Zoey honestly replies. “I don’t like it and it means that Angie could get away with a lot of nonsense without being thrown out of the gym, but I understand. Thanks for listening to me anyway.”

    “No problem, Zo-Zo!” Candice answers, coming close to wrapping up the call. “The pleasure is all mine! All right, I have to go prepare for battle right now. See you then.”

    “Okay. Take care,” Zoey speaks as she logs out of Skype and shakes her head knowing that she’ll have to deal with her cousin’s pestering without question. Glameow, noticing her partner’s frustration, nuzzles her head closer to Zoey, almost immediately bringing a smile to the face of the conflicted girl. “We all have our difficulties, Glameow. But, it’s how we handle them which determines character. I’ll keep my head up for us.” Looking up to some melancholy faces which know the extent to which she and Ash have had to deal with recent difficulties, Zoey wishes that the mood wasn’t as sour. “I’m glad all of you are here! Come on, perk up! There’s a lot that we can learn with what little time we have left before dinner.”

    “Ash told us about your idea to examine your work and I absolutely agree with it,” Brock replies, looking at all the equipment that the young coordinator has on hand for analyzing battles all the way down to a single frame.

    “Me, too,” Dawn adds. “In fact, it might be of benefit to all of us to see just how this style works. I mean, from what your cousins said and from what Brock told your family in the living room, this is a strategy that we could employ if we wanted to.”

    “Well, that’s what I want us to figure out together,” Zoey replies while petting Glameow. “I don’t know the strategy but I feel that if I get an idea of it, Emery won’t stand much of a chance when we meet again. Remember, I was a hair away from beating him just as he was a hair away from losing. If I figure out what he did to get me so confused, then he’ll be putty in my hands, so let’s get to work,” she declares while turning around, inviting everyone to gather around the screens and see the battle footage once again.

    ---------

    In the kitchen, there are courses to the meal that have already been made well in advance a night ago. The only prep work needed for some of these items was a simple reheating in the oven, so that means that the hungriest of them all will soon get to chow down on recently made seafood stew with red sauce. While setting up side dishes and boiling water for steamed vegetables which won’t take long anyway, the older guard can’t help but bring up the positive experience they had at the contest house earlier in the afternoon.

    “Zoey certainly…I saw something different in her when she was out there today, Pete,” Valerie says while pulling out ingredients for a homemade tartar sauce. “Ash has been real good for her. I knew that this day would come one day; I just didn’t know that it would be this soon and I’d be so impressed with her choice.”

    “I’ll admit, I had my doubts about that kid,” Bridgette says, in reference to Ash. “His age was a factor in some of my skepticism but if Zoey approves and you as parents approve, then so do I. She must have much more of a handle on this than her codger of an aunt does.”

    “Hey,” Peter exclaims, “you’re too weak on yourself.”

    Turning around to face the man who made that very snide remark, Bridgette reminds her younger brother, while chopping up onions for the salad, “You know I have a knife, right? You say that, but this knife can cut…and sharply.”

    “Oh, have mercy dear sister!” he exclaims while moving his arms as if he were reaching out to Mecca in prayer. “Have mercy for the teasing older brother who just wanted to make a joke and see how she would react.”

    “What is like Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction?” Valerie answers in the form of a question. After everyone in the kitchen gets their laugh, she seriously continues on the point her sister-in-law made about Ash. “Well, it’s…I wanted to be open to this because Zoey felt so strongly towards Ash. It’s…really telling when you see your child out there and falling in love, being counseled by someone else instead of coming to mom and dad for everything. I mean…what do I mean?”

    “I think I get it,” says Valerie’s younger brother Morris, who is checking on the bread for the meal and seeing that it’s about done based on the toothpick test. “That was a tough loss Zoey had today which could’ve gone either way. Usually, in a bout that someone wants to win as badly as Zoey wanted today, you go to your folks and ask for their words of wisdom, but…I’m sure with the number of losses Ash told me he’s had over the years, he had some fine words of wisdom for Zoey. I know she’s home, Valerie, and I know she usually will come to her with her difficulties on the road, but it’s clear; she’s growing into her own woman.”

    “You’re right, Morris,” Peter responds as he gets out utensils for serving the stew. “It’s…just something to see for her. It seemed like not too long ago that her and Miss Senior were promising that each one would do their best in training and coordinating and that they’d never let anything come in between them and their dreams.”

    “Miss…Senior?”

    “Oh, I meant Candice,” Valerie says, remembering that the nicknames her daughter uses often aren’t used by the extended family. “She’s the gym leader for the city and when they were in school, Zoey called Candice Miss Senior as she was a level or two ahead of her.”

    “Ah, I see,” Morris replies. Now that it comes to mind after the discussion, he asks his sister, “Does Zoey have a nickname?”

    “Yes,” she replies. “But it’s nothing that you or the rest of the family haven’t heard before.” Calling upstairs, she yells “Hey, Zo-Zo!”

    Very quickly, Valerie hears the word “Mom!” followed by “I thought I said that that was only for Miss Senior!”

    “I can’t help it, dear,” she admits. “Besides, I’m your mother and I’m supposed to get on your nerves. Anyway, it’s time for dinner so you, Ash, Brock and Dawn come down and help set up the table so we can get started.”

    While disappointed, Ash, Zoey and company did want to eat and had been looking at the Emery battle, along with a couple others for a while. The four hadn’t been able to come to much of a consensus with the exception that Zoey’s victorious adversary knew how to confuse his competition to the point that they’d almost have them staying up nights just to contemplate the purpose of a single move or command.

    One by one, they arrive downstairs with Zoey leading the bunch to the kitchen followed closely by Ash, Dawn and finally Brock. Peter meets the four and instructs them to get out the silverware, glasses, bowls, bread plates and dinner plates for the meal. Given that Zoey knows the setup, she instructs her friends to put out the different utensils on top of the table already adorned with a white cloth.

    Ash takes on the responsibility of placing the plates on the table, ten in all, while Dawn works on napkins and placemats, Brock puts the silverware in its proper positions and Zoey gets ice for the water and glasses for the sparkling beverages.

    Soon after the setting is complete, with two off-white candles in the middle of the table lit for ambience, the friends and family sit down as bowls of seafood stew are poured into each bowl, with oyster crackers, oysters on a half-shell, steamed scallops, a large Caesar salad among many other things to eat.

    Once all plates have been filled to everyone’s preferences, the ten individuals come together, as part of an extended family, to partake. Before that, however, a couple of clangs of glass are heard at the table. Everyone looks over to the head of the table as Peter uses his spoon to get everyone’s attention.

    “Okay, I know that everyone here’s just waiting to dig, because I am too,” he admits. “I just want to say a few words before we begin. I want to thank Ash and his friends and our family for all coming here. I want to thank my daughter, Zoey, for setting up this weekend. Most of all, though, extra special thanks goes to Ash for…” Peter turns away for a second as he feels himself becoming quite emotional just thinking about it.

    His family assures him that it’s okay, and a few seconds pass before he says, “Ash, you’ve made a father very proud knowing that you were his daughter’s choice for a boyfriend. You’re an upstanding gentleman, you’ve been nothing but cordial to my family and I, and…thank you. Thank you for being there for Zoey and agreeing to travel with her. I think it will be quite a rewarding journey for both of you, so…from this point to whenever, take care of each other. Okay?”

    “Yes sir, and thank you for accepting me when you didn’t have to,” Ash responds, truly humbled by the words of his girlfriend’s father. So much so that Zoey points out his shaking while Peter tells everyone to start eating.

    Ash just shrugs it off for a moment before cutting up his salad and starting his meal like everyone else at the table. Giving Pikachu a few bits underneath the table, he enjoys the rest knowing that he’s around a supporting crowd that wants him to have his fill and then clear his head for the reason he came to Snowpoint, Zoey or no Zoey.

    Having her there wouldn’t hurt, though. Not in the least bit.

    ---------

    Your Thoughts?

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