Chapter three: Uncertainly and Conflict
Wingulls cheered as they flew across the ocean bed before flying side by side the small boat. It called out its name once more before soaring high into the summer sky. Everyone on board smiled as Misty embraced Manaphy tighter. Ash couldn’t help but touch the little prince of the sea as Lizabeth’s mother shared embarrassing baby stories to the group – all except May. She sat by the top of the stairs not too far from them and listened to their stories and laughter. Ash soon noticed this.
May looked up for a brief moment before looking away. She had no interest to talk with the boy.
“Why won’t you join us?” Ash asked as he kneeled down to May’s sight.
Unwrapping her arms from around her knees, May blankly stared at the small group surrounding Misty and Manaphy. “It is because I have no stories to share.”
Ash blinked in shock. “Really?” He watched May looked away from the group and wrapped her arms around her knees once more. “But why?”
“That is something I do not know myself.”
Misty watched the two speak before being interrupted by feeling Manaphy’s fins against her cheek. She smiled and rubbed her cheeks against his. “You make me so happy.”
With the feel of the moment, Manaphy smiled, “Happy, happy!” He cheered. Everyone around the water type trainer heard the little one speak. This caused May and Ash to rise to their feet and walked towards the group.
“Y-You were talking!” Misty stuttered.
“Misty are you sure?” Ash spoke in shock. He couldn’t believe he would ever hear another pokemon speak beside Meowth from Team Rocket.
Holding Manaphy proudly in the air, “Sure I’m sure!” Smiling. “Say happy!”
And within command, Manaphy repeated the same words once more. Everyone around them smile and giggled as Misty embraced the small water type. “You hear that? Manaphy is saying what I’m saying!” Both mother and child started to laugh.
“Say Ash Manaphy!” Ash asked. “Come on and say Ash!”
And the simple response Manaphy could give was saying his own name towards Ash. The trainer sweat dropped before hearing fleeting footsteps leaving the scene. Ash quickly noticed and walked after her. Misty watched on with concern as she made small footsteps after the boy before feeling Brock’s warm hand on her shoulder to stop her. As soon she heard Manaphy calling to her she smiled and shook Manaphy a little to keep him happy and smiling. But as she did this she couldn’t help but gaze down the path she saw May and Ash walk down.
“Why are you so attached to her Ash?”
May stopped as soon she grabbed hold of the rails as her tears dropping into the ocean. As she opened her eyes she could see her own depressed reflection looking back at her, it soon faded and only the deep blue ocean was staring back at her. Fearful of falling in she closed her eyes and turned back and started to run before crashing into the young trainer. Both fell down onto the decks. Opening her eyes she blushed to see she was on top of the boy. Ash couldn’t help but share the same red face.
“Look where you going!” May blurted as she sat up as she rubbed her own tears away.
“Well I’m not the one running with their eyes closed, am I?” Ash teased. May glared at the boy before standing up onto her own two feet. Standing up. “So why were you running like that as if you saw a ghost?”
Looking over her shoulder, “That is none of your concern.”
Reaching over for her hand, “I thought we were friends!”
“Just because I stopped the boat for you doesn’t mean we are friends.” She flicked her long brown hair over her shoulder. As she reached back to the group she saw Misty letting Manaphy jump into the ocean. This puzzled her as she stood right beside the red head.
Misty held her hand over her heart as she waited eagerly to see Manaphy out of the water. As soon she saw Manaphy jump in and out of water, she relaxed. The Marina group smiled as they all headed inside. Misty still had her eyes stuck on the little pokemon and was only caught off guard hearing May muttering words.
“Keep this up and Manaphy and I will never head back home.”
“Excuse me?” Misty blurted. Ash could see how quickly Misty was getting upset and quickly headed over to her side. “Speak up!”
With a death-like glare, “You heard me little girl. I don’t need to repeat myself.”
“Just because you have powers and we don’t!” Ash held one of Misty’s arms and Brock held the other. “Your just upset Manaphy likes me more than you!”
“I’m not going to deny that.” May flicked her brown hair over her shoulder once more. “The lunar eclipse is coming near and if Manaphy doesn’t want to come home with me then I’ll blame you! I need to bring the prince of the sea back home!”
With her legs kicking in the air, Misty yelled. “You can’t force Manaphy if he doesn’t want to go with you!”
“I’m sorry but the Maiden has a point Misty.” Jackie interfered. The gym leader suddenly calmed down but both boys didn’t let her go, just in case. “My mission is to bring Manaphy back to the Sea Temple to be safe from the hands of Phantom.” The ranger looked at the mysterious brunette. “And it looks like I have to bring you home too.”
“I don’t need guidance from some pity human.” May spoke bitterly.
With her arms crossed, May walked herself from the group before fading from their sights. Misty pulled herself from the boys and crossed her arms – her back facing Ranger Jackie. It was clear to them all the teen was upset. It was only Ash that stood by her side as the other two made their way inside. He leaned on the rails to take a peek at Misty’s face. He was surprise to see not anger but sadness.
“She’s right – they both are.” Ash could hear Misty speak softly.
Ash gazed at Manaphy who was waving at them both before diving back into the ocean. From gazing at Manaphy he looked at her hands. They were clutched. With doubts at first he placed his hand on top of her stressed hands. Looking down, Misty blushed but did not have the courage to remove Ash’s hands from hers.
In fact she didn’t want to take it away at all.
She needed his support. In reality she needed more than support from him but the fear of losing him bothered her as she slipped from his grasp. Her eyes still filled with the same sadness Ash had saw earlier. She embraced herself and warmed her arms slightly. Looking up at the sky, “That maiden-girl is really starting to get on my nerves.”
“Are you worried that she will take Manaphy from you?” Ash reached over to touch Misty’s shoulder but backed away. He looked away before looking back at Misty. “You know you’re not alone. You have me and Brock with you. We’ll support you through everything.”
She embraced herself tighter as she listened to his words as she held back her own tears. “That is probably the hardest part to take in.” She muttered as a tear slid down her cheek.
“What do you mean?”
Taking a step or two from the boy, “It just shows how weak I really am – to always rely on you.” Turning back Ash could see she was crying. “I’m tired to always rely on you; I’m tired of using you.”
Ash raced over to Misty and held onto her shoulders tightly. Shaking his head, “You’re not using me or Brock or anybody else. I’m helping you because I am your friend.”
Backtracking Misty avoided looking into his eyes. “Of course, friends, that makes sense.” Her hands shaking she made her way back inside. Ash reached his hand to grab hold of her but withdrew and sighed. He soon turned back to face the empty ocean as a certain brunette watched from a distance. Unsure why both trainers felt so depressed.
“Alright, down this way.”
What seemed to be a dead end suddenly changed into an aquarium like surrounding as Ash and his group of close friends smiled as the gazed at each water pokemon that would swim by. May stood a meter or two from the group as they smiled at the pokemon passing by.
“Manaphy!” Misty cheered as they all spotted the Prince swimming towards them at a high speed. It soon crashed into the glass and began to cry. “Come on, ok, it doesn’t hurt.” The gym leader calmed the little one as she placed her hand on the glass and acted as if she was patting him. And with that Manaphy smiled as he waved his hands and shook his body in happiness and soon swam away.
“Thank goodness.” Misty sighed. “I was worried for a moment.” Her eyes crossed Ash. When both noticed, the two quickly avoided each other’s glances. This puzzled May.
Like a lost and confused child May reached for Ash’s sleeve and tugged on his sleeve. Ash looked back at so did Misty. Misty was confused why the Maiden was so close to Ash yet so bitter towards her. Ash looked at her in a confused manner which caused May to roll her eyes. She tugged him back more; away from the group.
“Why are you not looking at Misty? Why must you always avoid her looks?”
Ash looked back at the trainer and when he saw he looking away he looked back at the brunette. “She thinks she is using me and that really hurts.”
“Then prove her wrong.” May suggested as she continued to drag Ash out of the room.
With a teasing grin, “By confessing your love to her!”
Ash started to cough as his face went to a shade of red rather quickly. He lowered his cap to cover his face after his coughing ordeal. “You’re kidding.” Looking up she saw May shaking her head. “We aren’t them – you know a couple.”
“I’m surprised you found the right term to describe you two.” May grinned.
Rolling his eyes Ash made his way back inside as he waved his hands in the air in disbelief. May smiled and chuckled slightly before realising something.
That was the first time she had laughed since she could ever remember.
Days flew and nights passed by them all. As the sun began to set on one of the nights Ash questioned how Manaphy knew how to go home. Even as the old man explained to him how they do it, it still didn’t make sense to him. May watched on from the corner and watched Manaphy jump in and out of water, saying hello to Misty when he got the chance. The old man’s word stuck with her.
“All alone, that is the way Manaphy will travel the entire ocean, finally returning to its home which is the Sea Temple.”
May was no stranger to the words such as home, alone and Sea Temple. In fact she was tired of hearing those same words over and over again.
Days went by and the skies were clear as Jackie patrolled high in the air in a gilder. Ash watched on and praised and wondered how it must felt to become a Ranger as his pokemon and the others ate their food on deck. May walked up to each one and patted them each softly, amusing herself with the different texture each pokemon had. She also noticed Misty and Ash were starting to return that friendship that kept May so interested in the two. But she could still feel the tense relationship they shared, mainly on Ash’s behalf.
She soon turned to the Wailords that rose up from the ocean and spray water everywhere, some even reaching the decks. She rushed over and waved to the water type pokemon. Soon she felt presences beside her. Now having travelled with the group for a few days knew she didn’t get startled so easily. She smiled when she noticed it was Ash that was standing beside her and sharing the great moment with her. The trainer soon looked back at her and with his Pikachu on his shoulder both boys smiled before Pikachu jumping into her arms.
The little mouse rubbed his cheeks into her chest and smiled up towards her. Ash and May’s eyes crossed and both laughed as Misty watched from afar. She softly patted Togepi while keeping her eyes on them both. She soon looked away and focused on the wonderful sight the Wailords were sharing with them all. Her worries were removed when one Wailord rose from the water with Manaphy on board.
“Hi Manaphy!” Misty cheered as she waved her hand in the air franticly. She was glad the little water type came and cheered her up. She was tired to over thinking her relationship and the words he spoke to Ash which continued to drift them apart from one another.
As it came closer May started to lose herself in the moment like the child she was and grab hold of Ash’s hand. She jumped onto the rails and soon landed onto Wailord’s back. The huge pokemon didn’t mind as it continued to smile. Manaphy looked up at May as he watched Ash’s shocked and scared reaction all over his face. Pikachu was sharing the same expression.
“I think you need to relax.”
Looking up at the Water Maiden, “Coming from you that could mean anything.”
Irritated May sent a weak water gun attack into his face before turning around to face Manaphy. Both look confused at each other before May reaching down to his height and held out her hand to the water type. Manaphy looked from her face to her hand then back to her face before walking over to her and shaking her hand.
“Mana!” He cheered. He soon jumped into into May’s arms as the brunette tried not to shed a tear of happiness before turning around back to Ash who was still unsure if standing on a huge Wailord was a good idea.
“I’m-I’m nn-not lie-liking th-this Mmm-May!” He spoke nervously.
Laughing at his nervous self May reached over for his hand and held it tight. This caused the trainer to look from the ground and up to her. “Just hold on coward.”
“I-I’m not!” Ash rejected.
May rolled her eyes with the response of ‘whatever’ clear all over her face.
The heat began to get to them all as all decided to take a swim near an area covered in corals. Ash quietly walked onto deck as Misty gave him the glare to remain quiet as Manaphy slept quietly in her arms. With a nervous smile he agreed and made his way up the ladder where May was sitting on the fence quietly. Admiring how quiet it was. She looked at the ladder to see who was climbing up. Seeing it was nobody but Ash she looked back at the sea.
“I see you and Misty still have that little issue bothering you two.”
“Well we are fixing things. I mean at least she’s looking at me – even that means glaring at me.” Ash rolled his eyes at the idea. Looking up at the brunette, “So why haven’t you gone swimming yet?”
“Swim?” May questioned. “What is that?”
Ash backtracked in shock as May continued to look at him with a puzzling look. He sighed. “Swimming is what we call it up here. When it is hot like today we humans like to go to a lake or a swimming pool to calm down and have fun.”
“And that requires you to be in the water?” May continue to ask, she shivered at the idea. “If that is the case then I rather not.”
A cheeky grin came over Ash’s face. “You scared, coward?” Ash referred to the time where she forced him to ride on a back of a Wailord.
Glaring back. “No! How dare you ask me! I’m the Water Maiden! It would be embarrassing if I was scared of the water!”
“Then prove me wrong princess.” Ash continued to tease as he stood up on the fence and jumped into the water. The vibration of Ash’s jump cause May to slip back and fall into the water right after Ash.
A huge splash came after the two fell into the water. Ash opened his eyes and he could see May had instantly fainted as she entered in and was sinking fast and fading as her body started to melt and blend with the water. Swimming over fast he reached over for her and held her tightly. Ash noticed that psychical contact somehow made her visible to human eyes.
Both continued to fall as May started to open her eyes. Seconds after discovering she was in the water her eyes were covered in dread and fear. Ash held the teen tightly as she tried so hard not to panic. After being in his arms her body started to soften as she was not as tense as she was earlier. Looking around she was caught captivated by the beauty of the corals and the water pokemon swimming beside them. Looking back at the man holding her tight he noticed he was smiling. As if he was proud of her.
But the fear of drowning didn’t leave her mind as she embraced Ash even tighter as they both continued to sink. Both held onto each other tightly as the scene of her final moments came into her mind and more. Some she only remembered till now.
She could hear a voice calling to her and she could remember looking at her mother as she continued to stand on the beach. She seemed very proud of her daughter. For what reason, she didn’t know. Soon more people came flooding in which May called her friends, but their faces seem blurred for some odd reason. She could hear a foot stepping into the water and then another before a loud pitch scream followed.
Opening her eyes once again she was under the water as the same shadow figure jumped in after her. May swore she heard his voice before. Was it her brother? Father? A friend? Lover prehapes? She couldn’t remember. She tried desperately to reach over to his hand but she had no more strength and simply gave up.
With her eyes half lit she could see the boy was still swimming down to her which was odd. Everything until now she swore the strange figure simply gave up after a few seconds but not today. It kept swimming towards her and there she could feel his touch. But having no more life within her, her fingers slipped from his as she could hear her name being called for the last time.
Opening her eyes May noticed she was above water once more. Looking around she saw the others looking down at her in concern as she noticed Ash was still holding her tight. Still suffering from her horrible ordeal May began to shake and shiver while still in Ash’s arms. There she began to cry as she let all her tears loose into Ash’s torso. There Ash held her closer as May continued to cry.
Misty watched on from above before walking away quickly; trying to hide her blush jealous face from anyone. Ash noticed this and sighed before looking down at May. He had discovered that the Water Maiden was deeply terrified of the water as he watched her continue to cry. He couldn’t help but mutter as he continued to watch on.
“So it was you after all.”