Well, not a very long break, now, is it? In fact, it feels like no break at all since Love in the Time of Tenacity…a little. Oh, well. The Ancienverse is now entering its true final stages of the story, starting with a whole slew of weekly updates to keep you occupied so you don't forget about me. We're starting off with a fun one, too! (And yes, I had some fun at the beginning; little tongue in cheek.) Hope you enjoy!

Author: Epicocity

Rating: K plus

Pairing: Amourshipping

This takes place one year before the Epilogue of Tribulations.

DISCLAIMER: Still no ownsies.



Fourths, Films and Forgiveness

An Ancienverse Pokémon Oneshot

"Elle! Elle!" The man kneeled over the body of his fallen lover, clasping at her hands. "Why? Why would you do it?"

"Because…I love you…Satoshi…" the woman responded. There was water pouring down all around them, and electricity crackled through the air, showing an impending thunderstorm that raged around them. It was fully portraying the rage and grief inside the man. "You must…live…my brave, ancient knight…"

Then, her strength gave out, her hand flopping on the ground, slipping a bit against the rather slick surface of it, thanks to the rain. Satoshi gripped at his now dead lover, cradling her in his arms and raising his head to the sky. The rain entered his nose and mouth, making him choke a bit before spluttering out, even though he should have been screaming. However, he tried to salvage the moment as best as he could.

"Ah! Ah!" Ash choked out, feeling the rain burn at his throat a bit. In his grip, Serena couldn't stop laughing, her body shaking more than it should have for somebody supposedly dead. It made his own body shake, worsening the effect of the rain sliding into his nose. Eventually, he couldn't take it, and decided to go for broke and improvise with the moment, throwing himself across Serena's body as he snorted out, trying to expel the rain from his nose. Serena still laughed, though a bit quieter, so as to not ruin the scene. That mattered very little in just a second. "Achoo!"

"Bless you," Maka responded from her station near the director's chair. It took Ash just a moment to realize how badly he'd screwed up. His body flew upright, hoping to remedy what had occurred and to salvage the scene he was playing out; here, he'd thought memorizing his lines would be the hardest part. Serena sucked her lips in beneath him, as if trying to truly stop herself from laughing, particularly now that she was actually visible on the camera.

"This rain…I'll…never be able to sneeze with you again…or hear you bless me…" Ash said, trying to put as much feeling into his words as he possibly could…Although, it was hard when he could feel Serena shaking beneath him with all of her giggling. From offstage, Ash could see Jessie standing there, looking annoyed and waiting for him to finish delivering his lines. "Why did you have to go, Elle? Why? !"

"She was such a foolish woman!" Jessie finally declared, throwing her hands up to the air, and stepping further on to the set. Ash turned in her direction, moving some of his now soaked hair out of his eyes, glaring at her. It was really kind of difficult when he considered the ridiculous getup she was in, her dress so long and flowing that it was practically off of the very stage itself. At the very least, she was unrecognizable to anyone who didn't know she had the part. Regardless, she continued speaking her lines with all the vanity that Ash was accustomed to. "If she hadn't gotten in my way, then only you would have died. But at least you'll reunite with your lover in the next life! Ahahahahahaha!"

"You!" Ash declared, placing Serena's body back down, and moving to stand. He whipped around to face Jessie angrily, his hands balling themselves into fists. Unfortunately, his feet slipped on the surface of the stage, flying out and nearly hitting Serena in the face. She rolled to the side…and off the stage. Meanwhile, Ash faceplanted at Jessie's feet. She seemed to get straight in the action, all while remaining in character. Horrible thieves, they may have once been, but the woman could definitely be called the consummate actress.

"Get off my boot, peasant!" the magenta-haired woman shrieked, kicking out at Ash, and knocking him in the head. It didn't hurt too much, but it did send him rolling away. "I am the great Musashi! Scourge of your tiny Kantonian Village! How dare you ever think you could stand equal with me, or even prostrate yourself at my feet! Hah! You shall pay for your insolence! Kojiro, Meowth, Wobbuffet, my loyal bodyguards, take him away…and steal his Pikachu while you're at it."

"And cut," drawled out a rather annoyed voice. It wasn't Maka's, though, which Ash was keenly aware of, even as his head was pulsing and throbbing from Jessie's kick. "Really? Thieving? Isn't that a little petty, even for an improvisation?"

"Well, excuse me," Jessie scoffed out. Ash tried to stand up as the rain from above stopped falling, leaving the material of the stage still rather slick. He shook his head, while Jessie confronted the one that had put a halt to the scene (not that Ash minded, given it had slowly been turning into a disaster…or quickly, depending on one's opinion). "I can't help it that the twerp can't handle a scene."

"Neither can you, it seems," the other voice continued arguing, and Ash looked over to see Keoni standing at the edge of the stage, arms folded with a rather surly scowl upon his face. Flouncing over to his side was Maka, the young nineteen-year-old glaring at the other boy.

"Hey! No calling cut on my film, Keoni!" Maka protested, pointing at him. Serena was now sitting up, brushing off some of the rain from her legs. From up above, Mele was returning to the ground with Pikachu, the two of them having been providing the lightning effects from earlier. Pikachu, in particular, looked rather exasperated by the fact that Ash couldn't seem to make it through what was probably one of the more emotional scenes of Maka's movie. "It was fine until the midpoint, and Ash was doing good, too. There were some issues with the spluttering, though…Hmm…Maybe less on the rain?"

"Wartor!" the Wartortle from above acknowledged with a salute. Keoni sighed out, looking over to the only slightly younger girl as she re-tied her red ribbon to keep her hair up.

"I'm not denying that. He has some acting chops when he can stay on script, but I'm not funding five million retakes because those three seem to want to still act like the bumbling thieves they are," Keoni snapped at the black-haired woman, pointing right over to Jessie, James and Meowth. Ash had officially stood now, and was offering his hand to Serena, hoping neither of them slipped once again.

"Hey, who're you calling thieves? !" James protested angrily. Meowth slapped a paw to his face.

"We are thieves, Jimmy…just not full-time…ya dig?" The feline seemed to be giving his blue-haired companion a rather insistent look, causing James to chuckle nervously. Ash had no idea what they were really talking about, though he did know that he rarely saw them these days. The last time he had actually seen them was during a competition for Kalos Queen that Serena had attended some years back. It made it feel stranger, now, to see them anywhere near him, rather than to not see them there; it was a sentiment he never thought he'd hold.

"Gah, shut up, you two! This is about my scene!" Jessie declared angrily. Meowth and James just gave her a tired expression while rolling their eyes. "If you've got a problem with how I act, pretty boy, then why don't you see if you can do better!"

"I think your ego could take a check," Keoni spat out at her. Jessie surged forward, clearly wanting to throttle the Alolan native. Only, she didn't take into account her state of dress, feet tripping over the length of the hem and tumbling forward. "Honestly, if you three didn't blend into the roles so seamlessly to the point that no one even knew who you were, I would have no idea why Maka even considered you. Those slips about Pikachu are just ridiculous."

"Keoni, stop it, before I have Ponpon slap you," Maka now stated fiercely, hands on her hips. From behind one of the cameras, Ponpon flew out, rubbing the ends of his wings together, as though in gleeful delight. Serena froze in Ash's hands, blinking at the sight of the director and producer arguing with one another. It was rare for Maka to ever lose control or threaten someone whatsoever, even with all of Ash's screw-ups on the stage, but the last few days had seemed rather…tense, by his estimation. "I know you're helping to fund all this but you agreed to give me creative control here."

"Yeah, I did…" Keoni sighed out, still looking vaguely annoyed. Maka didn't appear to like that, walking closer and getting into his face. Keoni's eyes traveled up and down the woman's figure, still as petite as ever (and dressed in the same garb as usual, despite being older, that leant her a certain innocent flair), which caused Maka to step forward and trod a bit on his toe, even with a faint dusting of pink on her cheeks. "Fine! Do what you want! Just make sure the old hag stops messing things up!"

"You little piece of-"

"Jess, don't go mouthin' off!" Meowth suddenly expressed, leaping for Jessie and digging his claws into her costume. James joined in quickly, the woman gnashing her teeth angrily. Keoni smirked at the magenta-haired diva, and then cocked his head, shoving his hands in his pockets while he retracted his toe from under Maka's and walking off of the stage entirely.

"Keoni! Hey!" Maka shouted after the young man, but he gave no reaction. Ash now took his turn to blink and looked at Serena, who shrugged.

"Maybe he's just in a bad mood," Serena suggested, though she did look a little apprehensive about the whole thing. With Keoni finally leaving the area, Jessie calmed down, but certainly didn't seem very happy, judging by the scowl on her face. "Should we talk to him…?"

"Don't bother," Maka sighed out, pouting a little bit. "He's been in a bad mood since last week. Tried taking him to dinner to cheer him up, but he was quiet the whole way. Checked out the waitress, but that was about it."

"I'm not surprised…" Ash muttered out, still remembering the way Keoni used to check out his girlfriend. Regardless, he didn't push the subject, and Maka didn't seem to want to either. Despite her obvious annoyance at Keoni's attitude, she had walked back over to her director's chair, where her script was, and began to leaf through it. Shrugging a bit, she turned around to the whole cast and crew that were there.

"Take lunch, everyone. I'll figure out how to make this awesome scene work by the time you're all ready to go! Oh, but Jessilie, maybe we should tone it back on the Pikachu bit…" Maka suggested. Jessie was still snarling and heaving, but at least paid Maka some measure of respect when compared to Keoni. "Not because it doesn't make you seem super villainous or anything, but because Pikachu wasn't in the scene…"

"Fine, whatever! James, we're getting some food and rep-"

"Stop talking, Jessie!" James warned the woman, before he took hold of Jessie and began to steer her away from the stage. Behind her, Wobbuffet was gleefully picking up the large train of the dress, looking as though he liked the softness of the material. Well, he was rubbing it against his cheek as he passed the edge of the stage, at least. Ash continued to watch the trio go, wondering just what they were trying to hide, and whether it had anything to do with their all-too-frequent absences over the years, but he chose to ignore it. They hadn't come after Pikachu or any other Pokémon during their whole stay here, so Ash could only hope they would continue that trend.

It seemed irrelevant when they disappeared off the stage, and an Oranguru moved on it, holding out some towels for Ash and Serena. The couple took them gratefully, drying themselves off, even knowing they'd have to get some sort of makeup upon their return from lunch. Movie making, Ash found, was very hard work. His stomach's growls seemed to agree.

"Let's get some lunch, I guess," Ash said once he was fully dried off. Serena nodded, beaming up at him. Maka was still looking over her script, swiveling gazes between her notes and her sketchpad with a ferocity only matched by the times the young woman was in a battle. Ash, however, slipped his arm in with his girlfriend's. Her own clothing seemed a little wet, but quickly drying as it hung tight to her skin. To remedy that, she grabbed a jacket, and the two left the stage to find the food vendor. When they were out of earshot, Ash finally groaned out loudly. "Man…why did I ever agree to do this…?"

"Isn't it at least a little fun, Ash?" Serena laughed out. Ash glared at his girlfriend; she was clearly enjoying this a little too much, thanks to all her giggles from the middle of filming. "I think it's quite dashing of you to be the handsome, ancient Kantonian that comes to the modern times in pursuit of the villainous witch that wishes to take Mega Evolution from this time period and is after Princess Elle's collection."

"That's what makes it so hard!" Ash insisted, unhooking his arm from her and throwing his hands into the air with exasperation. "All that timey-wimey stuff combined with the swoosh of special effects makes me go all aargh!"

"Very eloquent," Serena laughed out, just as the two finished approaching the area for food. As they did so, Pikachu joined them, leaping up onto the table and making a beeline for the ketchup. "Well, at least you made Maka's day when you showed you can do your own stunts. I much prefer all the stunt work, compared to you always endangering yourself."

"Hey, I've gotten through everything in one piece so far!" Ash insisted, flexing his muscles a moment before grabbing for a plate and shoveling food on to it. He took a little point of pride in that, being able to do all the fight scenes Maka had wanted with aplomb. Keoni had been figuring of hiring a stunt double, but when he realized the power acting couple could do it instead, suddenly he became a lot less pushy on the subject. Well, after a time of insisting on Serena and Maka's part, it seemed.

"'So far' are the words that I'm worried about. I prefer the more controlled environment here," Serena stated, taking far less on her plate than her boyfriend. Having all the food they needed, the couple turned for an open table, Pikachu beating them to one. In the distance, Ash could swear he saw a number of fans at the Pokéstar Studio lot that they were shooting at, looking over to them and waving, like they wanted autographs. Security swiftly moved them off as they sat themselves down.

"Controlled, huh? Kinda feels like Keoni is trying to control aspects of this whole thing, and Maka's not that happy," Ash noted, sitting back and letting out a breath before beginning to shovel in his potatoes. Serena tapped her chin as she ate some macaroni, clearly thinking about the subject. Pikachu walked over to her plate, and with a light "Pi!" put a dollop of ketchup down on it. She petted him softly with a smile as she began to answer.

"I can't argue with that," his girlfriend agreed. She shifted her legs, her costume thankfully not being too revealing to any ogling passerby (though, most were focused on their work, anyway). "I heard he was the one who approved this outfit, saying it 'looks sexy but doesn't provide too much for the pervs'."

"Sounds weird, coming from him…"

"He's been super weird!" yelled Maka's complaint from the food table, the girl digging into her sandwich ferociously. Ash hadn't even noticed that she had left the set (not that he was looking), her hair tied up messily while one side of her clothing drooped low, exposing some of her shoulder. At the food table were her expert Oricorio film crew, each seemingly fighting over some pasta there. For a whip smart crew, they certainly loved to squabble over food. Maka flung herself into a chair alongside the dining couple. "First, he doesn't want my lead star to be super glamorous, which is fine, but then he's all trying to tell me how to write the script! At first, it was just little things, but now he's a pain…"

"Keoni is definitely an individual," Serena laughed out. Ash wasn't quite sure that was the word he would use. Naturally, almost five years after his first encounter with the young man, he was in a much better place with him, the previous letch no longer hitting on his girlfriend with every waking moment. However, he did still remember the way Keoni used to act, and clearly still did occasionally, to Maka's rather clear dismay.

"I don't mind all the looking at waitresses and stuff, since he does all that stuff, but really…" Maka pouted, eating more of her sandwich with large chewing motions. "No, I don't need more lovey dovey moments at the expense of the villain. I want to make a good film here, not some B-lister. Luke might have Brycen on his cast, but I've got you two, plus the endorsement and costumes of Miss Akela, and I want to make a bold statement to the world when we're done! Maka Productions is the greatest in the whole world, and we're gonna make everyone happy!"

"I get it!" Ash said, though he said so through a mouthful of food, some of the potatoes spraying on to Serena's costume. He grimaced, but she took it in stride, albeit with a sigh. Regardless, he slammed his hands down on the table and looked straight at Maka, who quirked an eyebrow in interest. "I'll work real hard at making your film as awesome as ever. Anything you need!"

"You can smack some sense into Keoni…" Maka muttered. "I don't know what's been goin' on with him, but it's becoming a real pain in the butt, I'll tell you that. Wish he'd just tell me, but he is stubbornly persistent in his ways."

"Sure, I'll take care of it!" Ash insisted, throwing up a grin with a thumbs up added in for good measure. Serena finished cleaning off the potatoes that had landed on her and looked to him with an expression of utter perplexity. "If someone needs talkin' to, we can handle it just fine!"

"Pika!" Pikachu agreed, just as enthusiastic as his trainer. Ash watched his girlfriend, seeing her gaze narrow a little, and he began to wonder if he'd done something wrong, or perhaps just something to offend her. However, her next words completely dispelled that notion entirely.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" she asked quietly. Ash tilted his head. "You two might be okay with each other now, but things have still been…tense between the two of you. I can always handle it if you want me t-"

"Let him do it!" Maka suddenly insisted, cutting across Serena as she leaned over the table, finishing off her food as her film crew came to join her, a large plate full of rather diverse food between them. "I've actually got some ideas for the scene that I want to run by my lead actress. You know Ash better than anyone, so you can decide if they work or not. What do you say?"

"All right…" came the rather skeptical response from the honey blonde. Having her reluctant permission, Ash pushed on the table and stood up. Pikachu joined him as the two faced towards the further away lots of Pokéstar Studios (naturally, the mouse remembered his ketchup). With a slight wave backwards, the two ran off further into the studio.

Despite being in costume, Ash still found it easy to move around, no doubt thanks to Serena having had a hand in the design, alongside Miss Akela, to ensure the largest range of maximum movement for him (she knew him so well). To that effect, Ash was able to quickly zip through the studios, looking every which way for Keoni, wherever he would be. Some other crewmembers and directors were around the lots, busily ordering around people or moving supplies. Inside one of the buildings, Ash could see Brycen, the Unova Gym Leader showing his acting chops in an action sequence. Even seeing that, though, Ash was sure Maka's movie could surpass whatever it would turn out to be. The thought gave him a grin as he pushed on.

Before long, Pikachu's ears were twitching, and he leapt from Ash's shoulder, his ketchup bottle colliding with the floor but, thankfully, not splitting open. The Mouse Pokémon ran forward, like he could smell or hear where Keoni was. Ash decided to trust in his ever-perennial partner, and ran after him. A few crewmen sidestepped to avoid him running into them, and Ash ducked to avoid some steel beams being carried around, all while Pikachu dashed between the workers' legs before running off for what looked like a props station on the lot. Ash just continued following, and soon arrived at the door to the props trailer. From inside, he could most definitely hear Keoni's voice emanating.

"Yes, I know!" the young man was shouting, sounding more than a little distressed. "Damn it, dad, this isn't the time."

"Wonder what's goin' on?" Ash asked of Pikachu, his partner now rejoining him on his shoulder as they'd reached their destination. Pikachu shook his head to indicate that he didn't know.

"I…I'm trying, okay, but I'm not about to ask her when she's got her own stuff going on," Keoni was arguing, clearly with his father, Ash was guessing. He waited at the edge of the trailer, not wanting to interrupt in any way what was clearly a rather tense moment for the darker-skinned young man. "No, dad, we're not like that…What do you mean, you're surprised?"

Now, Ash could hear a hearty laughter from the other end of whatever Keoni was talking on, as though the young man's father was finding his son's responses humorous. There was also a short response snippet that he managed to hear, brief as it was. "…so proactive about women…"

"Maybe I was, but I'm not about to settle for something less," Keoni insisted. "I was the runner-up for the Ali'i ka Leilani a few years ago and continued working towards it. If you want me to do this, then you're going to have to trust me, and that includes my decision regarding Maka, do you understand? I'm not about to squander the few good relationships I have!" There was silence for a moment on Keoni's end before it was filled with a very liberal sigh. "Yeah, love you, too, dad…"

Ash waited a moment, tapping his foot lightly as he stood outside the trailer calmly. It took a moment, but he finally heard the click of the latch and watched as the door swung open. Keoni began to leave the trailer, but seemed to stop at the sight of Ash, his face drawing a little tighter at the sight of him. "Oh…what're you doing here?"

"Maka asked me to find you," Ash said honestly. To that, Keoni offered a clearly annoyed scoff. "She's worried about you."

"I'm sure she is," Keoni stated, throwing his hands into his pockets and beginning to walk off, barely even paying Ash any attention. The raven-haired trainer reached forward, as if wanting to stop him, but there soon turned out to be no need, as the man stopped on his own. "Did she say what she wanted exactly? Because Maka can be very…demanding."

"Doesn't sound like her," Ash admitted. Keoni stiffened, and Ash was sure he saw the man's lips twitch a little. "I don't think she wanted anything, though. She just wanted to know why you're being so harsh with her lately."

"It's life business," Keoni sighed out. Ash walked forward, getting around to the front in order to face him. The young man turned a snarl up at him, but eventually let it drop. "So, what exactly is annoying her about it? Was it the waitress? Because that went nowhere. She would have just wanted me for the money."

"From your father. What's going on with that? And what makes Maka different?" Ash asked, now putting his hands on his hips in question. He continued watching Keoni, the man clearly wanting to get out of there, and far away from him, as soon as possible. There was extreme annoyance on his face, but Ash chose to persist. "Hey, come on, we can't get anywhere if you don't talk!"

"Maybe I don't want to talk to someone like you!" Keoni snapped out. He seemed to realize his harshness, both in his voice and on his face, because he stood back a second later, taking his hands out of his pockets and folding them across his chest, instead. "Sorry, that was rude. You don't deserve to deal with my problems."

"Makes me sound like I'm not good enough," Ash laughed out, and Pikachu nodded with him. Keoni gave a start and swiftly shook his head in denial.

"No, it's not…it's just…" Keoni grit his teeth, clearly seeming like he didn't know quite how to say it. Ash just put his own hands in his costume's pockets and grinned at him.

"Don't worry about it! Why don't you just say what's going on? If there's something I've learned from me and Serena being together all these years, it's that sometimes you just need to get things off your chest, even if it burdens another person," Ash explained to him. Keoni didn't look to share that opinion. Ash reached out, waiting to see if Keoni would reject him, or recoil like his hand was filthy, but he didn't. So, he placed his hand on Keoni's shoulder. "You're already burdening that person by not sharing it, so just let it out."

"See, that's easy for you to say…" Keoni snapped back at him. He didn't remove the hand, though. "You have Serena, something special. You can share all the things you want to say. I just have my dad, and while he's great, giving me a stake in his company and supporting me to move on to better…er…certain better things, I'm not exactly about to share my own problems with him or anyone el-"

"You have Maka, right?" Ash asked before he could even really think about quite what he was saying.

"Wait, what? Maka? ! Sh-she's…but she's…shut up!" Keoni spluttered out, though Ash and Pikachu just tilted their heads to the side, clearly not sure about why he was reacting the way he was. "This is why I can't stand you sometimes. You think you can just say anything, like you can understand what I'm…Ugh…there I go again…"

"Keoni, Maka relies on you as a friend," Ash instructed the young man. Despite being close in age to himself, for some reason, Ash felt like he was way older than Serena's former rival, doling out wisdom he'd long since learned from his years of traveling and maturing. "I'm sure she'd be willing to listen to you, but you can't go forcing your ideas on her or whatever. I learned that, too."

"Pikapi…" Pikachu said warningly, but Ash beamed at his partner, retracting his hand from Keoni. The young man watched him closely, waiting for any more of what he had to say.

"I'm not that great at planning dates, you know," Ash admitted, rubbing at the back of his head. "Tried a whole bunch and they rarely went right. So, after Alola, and me and Serena going separate ways, we reunited and went on a date after she became Kalos Queen. I think that was the fourth one I actually planned…Of course, we weren't alone…everyone wanted to be there, and I loved seeing everyone. But I also wanted it to be the two of us. Instead of saying something, I was pretty rude and snappish towards her and everyone, kind of…within reason, I think. Eventually, she asked what was wrong in private. I told her, and we worked it out for some time to ourselves. But by bottling it up and forcing myself into the mindset that this was how it was, we were both miserable, even if we didn't know it. Kinda the same when we were journeying in Alola…hmm…"

"Huh…so even the perfect couple has relationship issues, too," Keoni stated, breathing out slowly. He shook his head, almost chuckling underneath it all, and then he began to walk past Ash, slowly brushing him off entirely. Ash made to follow swiftly, catching up with the young man as they made their way towards the stage and lot they were filming on.

"I wouldn't say we're perfect at all. I kinda suck at this whole boyfriend-girlfriend thing," Ash admitted with a smile. Pikachu smacked himself in the face with exasperation.

"Is that an offer?" Keoni asked with a smirk, challenging things. Ash threw his hands behind his head, figuring that it was all just in good fun, really. He didn't say any more, so Ash believed his assumption was justified.

"Hey, one time I was late to a date we had set at a restaurant in Lumiose because I was trying to catch a Dunsparce," Ash laughed out further. Keoni rolled his eyes at the small story. "Told you: I can screw up at dates pretty often, and sometimes Serena isn't so happy about it. But we love each other, so it's all good. You just gotta find someone who puts up with your mistakes."

"Hmm," Keoni noted, staring straight ahead once more. Ash could see the craft services area in the near distance, both Serena and Maka there, with Jessie leaning nearby, having obviously joined them to go over the script. Maka's hair seemed to slip forward, out of her ribbon, but she stuck her tongue out and tied it up before rapidly sketching away on her pad. Keoni watched her a moment, adjusting the cuff of his fine clothes. "Did you catch it, by the way?"

"Nope! Left all my pokeballs at home!" Ash laughed out cheerily. For some reason, Keoni seemed to actually get something from that. Ash wasn't sure what it could be, exactly, but he had to take a guess that his own words had made the Alolan native understand that, sometimes, even the most futile of mistakes could still bear fruit between the right people.

"Right…well…" Keoni stopped, just out of sight and earshot of the group of women discussing the scenes. He looked to Ash and seemed like he was finding it hard to figure out exactly what to say. "To be honest, I've been meddling in some of Maka's choices because…well…because I want to show that I'm not…into your girlfriend, anymore."

"Uh…come again?" Ash asked. He only slightly understood the man's words, but waited for further elaboration before he could fully respond.

"Well, you know…I tried to seduce Serena with my handsomely devilish good looks, but it didn't work and all. Plus, in the end, it made me realize it was kind of sucky, trying to take away another man's girl," Keoni admitted. He was rubbing the back of his head now as he divulged this. "I guess…while I know you guys knew this and all, I really wanted to show that I wasn't going to try again. Tried pushing for more romance scenes between you two, and didn't want to make Serena look sexier than she already does."

"Hey…" Ash stated warningly. Keoni tipped his head back and laughed at that. Not that Ash could deny it; his girlfriend was very good looking. Peeking over at her, he had to admit she looked good in just about anything, even waking up with bedhead. Part of him told himself that he wanted to wake up next to that bedhead every morning, but it was merely this growing sensation that he pushed away to listen to Keoni.

"So, I was trying to make it happen…Plus, it would kinda help me to not be all 'lecherous', as Maka puts it. Still working on that. Maka drills it into me that it's not cool on a near daily basis recently. Ponpon packs a mean punch…or slap. Even Ninetales is scared of him," Keoni admitted with a shudder. Ash knew that one wasn't from his chilly fox. "Guess it was like my way of asking for forgiveness."

Ash quirked an eyebrow for second, sharp similarities between Keoni and another appearing in his mind. He couldn't help but laugh.

"Ha…you remind me of a friend of mine, though he beats himself up way too much, especially compared to you. But, man, that's all in the past!" Ash indicated, spinning around as he walked past Keoni and moved back towards the women. "Gotta look to the future now! And the future's all about that film!"

"Yeah, all right," Keoni muttered, and continued after Ash to approach Maka, Serena and Jessie. The black-haired filmmaker was the first to notice them approaching, standing up and skipping forward, her skirt flaring a bit. Keoni seemed to look at that and smirk.

"There you are! And Keoni, eyes up here! Paying for the movie does not give you permission to look anywhere else, 'kay?" Maka said, quickly closing the gap between them until Keoni was practically forced to be staring right into her eyes. Once he was, she thrust her newly revised script out in front of him. "Changed the scene. For one, less rain, but for another, I decided that we should have Jessilie…what is it?"

"Nothing," Keoni said, dropping his smirk off his face. Ash moved to stand by Serena's side, watching the pair as Maka glared at Keoni with suspicion.

"Uh-huuuh…and Ula likes water," Maka stated. She continued glaring at him just a while longer before throwing her hands into the air like it didn't matter much. "Oh, well, just look over the new scene. I think it's more dynamic, and Jessilie and Serena agree with it. I'm sure Ash can handle it. We pick up shooting in five!"

"Can I handle it?" Ash questioned of his girlfriend. She leaned over and pecked him on the lips, as though encouraging him to do it, whether she thought he could or not. Whatever it was, Ash decided to indeed take encouragement from that. Surprisingly enough, he wasn't the only one to do so. As Maka turned away, Keoni reached out to grip Maka's arm, pulling her back. It wasn't forceful, but it was enough that the papers slipped away and she bumped into his chest. He had more reaction than her.

"Wait…uh…" Keoni spoke. Maka reached over, removing his hand and stepping back, before smiling up at him with bemusement. "I'm sure the scene is great, okay?"

"Of course it is! I worked hard on this film, you know," Maka stated to him. Keoni nodded, looking rather like he'd swallowed a Surskit without meaning to at this point. "I plan on making this the best film in the whole world. For that, I need a producer who can trust me completely…and I need to trust him, of course. If you've got something on your mind, you can tell me. We haven't spent months meeting together just for you to act like a jerk."

"I…I know. You're right, Maka. Sorry," Keoni stated, rubbing the back of his neck once more. "I…uh…how do I put this…?"

"You better not be confessing some undying love for me. That'd be too cliché right now," Maka stated. Keoni almost blanched, spluttering like he hadn't expected her to say that. "You need to find the money shot to make it work! That kind of stuff happens after we have our big premiere!"

"Maka, don't let your imagination run wild. I mean, sure, you look great, and you're headstrong, so definitely my type, but don't get delusional," Keoni choked out. Ash quirked an eyebrow in amusement, while Maka winked at the young man, clearly teasing him the whole time.

"So, I'm in consideration."

"Gah! You insufferably fine woman! I'm trying to ask you something here!" Keoni finally shouted out, getting some attention from those around the area. Maka's eyebrows flew upwards, and Ash looked to Serena, who was emulating her friend. Keoni breathed out, bending down to pick up the scattered pages. "I'm sorry I've been acting so angry. My dad's been pestering me about things, especially a certain…event that's coming up in Po Town. I wanted to ask you for your help with it, because I can't think of anyone better, but you've been so busy."

"Like I can't spare time for a friend," Maka said, adorning her face with a little smirk upon it, flashing it over to Keoni. The young man looked taken aback, blinking at Maka's near instantaneous response. "All you had to do was ask. No need to act so standoffish. Right, guys?"
"Orrrrrrrrico!" her film crew trilled out in agreement. Ash had a feeling they had no idea what was even being talked about in the first place. He drew closer to Serena, putting an arm around her as he watched the two.

"Next time, try using words, 'kay?" Maka added, grinning at the man while pumping her fists. Then she spun right around and flounced back over to the stage, right after Jessie. Keoni stared after her in exasperation and admiration both. Then he chuckled to himself and began running off after her.

"Damn it, Maka! Let me finish reading first! I know it's good, but…"

"Glad that worked out," Serena spoke. She turned towards Ash as he watched Keoni chasing after Maka with his own continued bemusement. "You were gone awhile finding him. Anything interesting?"

"Just…guy stuff? That's a thing, right? Brock says so," Ash laughed out. Serena rolled her eyes, swatting at his arm.

"Honestly, still the same as ever. Though, I prefer you that way," Serena admitted, like she found his tendencies to be adorable. He liked knowing that. She had always loved him for him, warts and all, which was why she kept going, even during Keoni's bratty phase of Alola. Now, it seemed like someone had found Keoni and liked him for him, even though she was currently kicking at his leg for not looking at her eyes.

"Ah, who knows what that whole thing was about, yeah, Pikachu?" Pikachu shrugged, bounding off of Ash's shoulder to join the Oricorio that were heading back to the stage. Ash just took his girlfriend's hand as they, too, began walking in that direction. "But maybe Keoni might have what he wanted sooner than he thinks."

"That's deep of you," Serena giggled out. It reminded Ash of just what they were about to film. He almost grimaced, but chose to not worry at all. None of it mattered, really, even the depth of what he was speaking.

Not the fact that the film would release to critical and commercial acclaim.

Not the fact that the film would give Maka a prominent place among filmmakers and the general public.

Not the fact that the film would propel Ash and Serena into further stardom.

Not even the fact that the experience of making it would make Maka and Keoni further collaborators, drawing closer in their teasing ways every day, despite their insistent denials.

No, all Ash found that mattered was the woman by his side. No matter the number of disastrous dates or mistakes they all made, she was still there, always loving him and forgiving him. And he always loved her in return. That, he believed, would never change.

Fín


Author's Note: The first of our oneshots is done! I hope you had a bit of fun with this one. Not as humorous, perhaps, as my previous oneshots, but nor are these going to be. They're dealing a bit more with character interactions, especially those interactions from characters we met in the previous trilogy. I sort of hinted a bit at Maka and Keoni, which works with a changed Keoni. He's still beating himself up, but Maka is as sunshine as ever. I didn't want to go too much into the film itself because that's extra detail, so I hope this works. Likewise, while the basis of this oneshot was Maka, I knew I needed a little more than just that to truly make it work, and again, hope I did.

Naturally, I hope you enjoyed, because it was fun writing some of the character interactions. But anyway, that out of the way, look out for a rather fun proposal oneshot next Tuesday! Until then, of course, Review and, as always,

Dare to Be Silly,

Epicocity