Chapter 6: “And I Won’t Be Messing”
The Riddenford Hotel, located in the Bunker Hill area of Downtown Los Angeles, was only two miles away from the Nokia Pokemon Coliseum. Its local competitor was the world famous Westin Bonaventure. Though plenty of businessmen, politicians, and celebrities chose to stay at the Westin, the Riddenford was always considered a favorite among pokemon trainers visiting the Downtown Los Angeles area. Amidst the high density skyscrapers that comprised the tall and busy L.A. skyline, the Riddenford contained many facilities that kept professional trainers and their pokemon in top shape.
Misty was taking advantage of the hotel’s Olympic sized swimming pool. Being a water pokemon trainer and a tough distance swimmer, she liked to keep herself in shape by doing a mile a day in the water. She had just touched the wall of the north end of the swimming pool, flipped around, and did another freestyle lap towards the south end of the pool. Her muscles burned as she continued to do her tenth lap.
May herself was also doing laps, albeit, not in the pool. In the large room adjacent to the indoor swimming pool, May was running on the hotel’s indoor track. Behind her was her various land based pokemon, appearing to have no problem keeping up with May’s seven point five minute mile pace. The girl was clearly a seasoned distance runner as she cleared her first mile, ready to tackle the next one.
What was amusing to both girls was that they had both invited each other to workout together on their respective courses. Misty had invited May to hit the pool with her only to have May humbly decline, saying that her speed and endurance in the water was far behind Misty’s. At the same time, May had invited Misty to hit the track with her only to have Misty humbly decline, saying that her speed and endurance would be likened to a goldeen flopping about out of the water if she tried to keep up with May. As a result, both girls decided to work out alone in their respective facilities.
May enjoyed running. She enjoyed the fact that she could rigorously keep herself in shape while at the same time, shift a significant portion of her mind to reflective thinking. In an odd way, it was an avenue that allowed herself to relax for the day.
For today’s run in particular, May’s thoughts dwelled on Ash. Although the two were now friends and no longer in a relationship, Ash and May clearly had lingering feelings for each other. May still understood that Ash was more deserving of a girl that was not necessarily better, but better suited for him. However, after what had occurred last night, May began to have second thoughts about her past decision to break up with Ash. The crisis that occurred yesterday forced May to reevaluate her policies towards her ex-boyfriend and whether it was right to let herself succumb to her feelings for a boy who she saw needed someone else.
The professional coordinator couldn’t help but think of when she was fourteen years old. Ash was eighteen years old at the time. Both were alone touring Johto in the intermediate leagues. Brock had to take a year off of traveling in order to ease the workload of his parents’ running the Pewter Gym. Max also had to sit the journey out in order to prepare for his pokemon trainer license test. As a result, things were rough at the beginning of Ash and May’s tour.
May was in a large forest, investigating every bush and shrub she spotted. She frequently shouted Bulbasaur’s name, trying to get it to return to her. May saw this as useless since Bulbasaur most likely wouldn’t come back to her, despite if it had heard her shouting in the woods.
It was two hours ago when May was competing in a contest, trying to earn her first intermediate-level ribbon. She had already passed the showcase portion of the contest and was now in the battle phase. About two minutes into her match, May found herself in an uphill battle. Her opponent’s pokemon had incredible defense abilities which somehow managed to overcome May’s formidable offensive capabilities. Beautifly was already down for the count. May was relying on Bulbasaur to form an effective counter-offensive.
Bulbasaur had managed to eliminate two of the opponent’s pokemon. However, the next released pokemon Bulbasaur was up against was a pidgeot. May had ordered her bulbasaur to perform vine whip on it. Unfortunately, Bulbasaur’s timing was off and had missed the pidgeot by a thread. This error was the first domino in the series of upsets which caused May to lose the battle section of her contest.
After the contest, May experienced a nervous breakdown and harshly reprimanded her bulbasaur for being so careless. Being without the manpower that comprised of Brock and Max to help him, Ash found it difficult to calm May down. Bulbasaur, having never seen her sweet, caring, and loving master resort to such berating and upbraiding, ran away to nearest open door it could find that led outside of the contest arena locker room and into the city streets.
May had tried to follow it through the streets and alleys of the city. She eventually followed it into a dead end alley. At the end of the alley was a chain linked fence with barbed wire at the top. At the foot of the obstacle was an opening that had usually been used by feral meowths and persians going in and out. Apparently, it was small enough for Bulbasaur who had no problem going through while May would have profound difficulty doing so. It was here that May saw it run into the nearby forest.
“BULBASAUR! WHERE ARE YOU!?”
The weather wasn’t helping May’s search. It was raining and the temperature wasn’t agreeable either, noted by May’s occasional shivering. May’s clothes were drenched from the dew falling from the canopy of the trees surrounding her while strands of her wet brown hair stuck on to her face. The reduced visibility from the driving rain prevented her from accurately assessing the whereabouts of her grass-type pokemon, even with her flashlight at hand.
“Bulbasaur! I’m sorry!”
May issued an olive branch of forgiveness to her bulbasaur, wherever it was. If it wasn’t enough, May would go on further.
“Bulbsaur! If you can hear me, I… I wasn’t myself! I overreacted! Please comeback!?”
May stood there, waiting for an answer or a response. Nothing.
It was until then that May began to break into tears. The fluids flowing down her face was considerably warmer then that of the rain. May’s knees buckled by the sorrow and regret she caused herself. Both of her legs dropped into the muddy floor of the woods while May tried to support her torso by placing her hands on her knees. For minutes, May just knelt there, sobbing over the loss of her pokemon, one that happened to be a good friend and a loved one.
A voice and a bright light interrupted May’s mourning. She looked behind her to see Ash, dressed in a transparent poncho while still wearing his ubiquitous baseball cap. He held a flashlight in one hand while a compass on the other.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
May got up and wiped the tears from her face which was subsequently replaced by the water from the rain.
“Did you find Bulbsaur?” asked Ash.
May didn’t say anything. Ash himself knew that his question was quite lame of him to ask.
“C’mon,” urged Ash, “You’re going to catch a cold in this weather. Follow me.”
May silently trailed Ash. She understood that it was going to be a while until they would get to the hotel since they were so deep into the woods and away from the city. It was her surprise to see that their destination would be a makeshift campsite with a tent already pitched up.
“Ash?” she said obviously not too sure about their current sleeping accommodations.
“Since we’re so far from the city, I decided to set up camp here,” he answered.
May felt guilty having dragged Ash so far away from the comforts of the warm hotel room they had checked out. It was all her fault. She had gotten her bulbasaur upset, subsequently lost it, and had finally dragged Ash out into her own mess. However, Ash interrupted her before she could say anything:
“Don’t worry about it. We’ve done this plenty of times, right?”
May looked at Ash who then smiled at her. She gave a sheepish smile back to him.
“It’s been a long day, May. I bet you’re really exhausted from that contest?”
May slowly nodded again.
“You did your best and I’m sure Bulbasaur is okay. Why don’t we look for her tomorrow?”
May nodded once again as Ash led her into the tent. Both of them were indeed quite exhausted as they slipped into their sleeping bags. It wasn’t long before the two dozed off, lulled by the rhythms of rain droplets sporadically hitting the roof of their tent.
* * *
May awoke the next morning to find that the rain had stopped. Despite her being awake, May still lay in her sleeping bag, thinking about Bulbasaur.
“I hope she’s okay,” she thought, “I hope it managed to find a cave or a tree to sleep under.”
May turned around in her sleeping bag to find a pleasant surprise. Bulbasaur! Bulbasaur had been sleeping alongside May all this time!
“Bulbasaur!” she ecstatically emitted,
The bulbasaur groggily woke up and said a light “bulba” in acknowledgement of May’s exclamation.
“Oh Bulbasaur! I’m so sorry!” May said as she hugged it, “You came back!”
Bulbasaur smiled as it accepted it's owner's apology and shook its head. It appeared that May was wrong in assuming how it returned to the campsite.
“Then, how… how did you come back?”
Bulbasaur oriented its head towards the other trainer in the tent, currently deeply asleep in his red sleeping bag. It added a simple “bulbasaur” with that action.
May put one hand up to her face, covering her slightly open mouth. Feelings of incredulousness and disbelief shared with extreme gratitude and remorse filled her.
“How?” she asked, “Why?”
She stared at her friend, mentor, and finally, hero. It occurred to her that despite how polished Ash’s outdoorsman skills may have been during his eight years as a trainer, it would have taken all night to search for a bulbasaur in a forest this large, especially in the middle of a heavy rainstorm.
May’s thoughts shifted from the how to the why. She’d known Ash to be someone who put others over himself. However she had never seen such exuding selflessness come out of Ash like this before. The fact that it was her that Ash placed before himself and not someone else had left quite of an impression on the young girl.
It was then that May realized that Ash was something that was worth more than a simple friend; he was more than a friend, mentor, and coach combined. May’s platonic bond with Ash had transcended into something else. Although tempered and cast from the time she spent with Ash since she was ten, she had finally reached a threshold with him.
“Thank you,” she whispered to her hero.
* * *
May had finished her second mile with a high speed dash to the mile marker of the track. Once she crossed the line, she slowed down to a walk while the pokemon behind her slowed down as well. May’s sore muscles and lungs entered recovery mode, forcing May to inhale heavy amounts of oxygen. The girl wiped the sweat off her forehead, put her hands on the back of her head so that her lungs could get a better flow of air, and began her cool down walk.
“It’s seven thirty six,” she thought, “Misty should be done by now.”
END OF CHAPTER 6