Okay, so this is my first attempt at a multi-chapter story. I've had this bouncing around in my head for a while, and hopefully people will like it. I would really appreciate any comments, suggestions, any thoughts at all, really, especially since this is a longer story. If you like it and want me to continue, please say so. Thanks!

It was a beautiful day to start a cruise. The Autumn Light had been sitting in Slateport Harbor for weeks now, waiting patiently as its supply rooms were loaded, its furnaces stocked, and its crew gathered from all over the world. Now, with spring ending and summer about to begin, The Autumn Light was anxious to begin her maiden voyage.

On the pier, a huge crowd had gathered, made up of everyone from passengers, family members, and paparazzi. The cruise was a huge deal, with only a select number of trainers and coordinators being invited to take part. And who could say no to an all-expense paid luxury cruise? The voyage would last all through the summer, ending in August back in Kanto, where the passengers would disembark in Vermillion City.

The chosen coordinators and trainers mingled lazily on the dock, gathering in small groups and casting sympathetic smiles at their less fortunately companions. The atmosphere was buzzing with energy, and no one was more excited than a certain blue eyed coordinator from Petalburg City.

May Maple stood slightly off to the side, apart from rest of the crowd. She scanned the pier anxiously, rising to the top of her toes every so often, before rocking dejectedly back on her heels. She was just about to give up hope when she was rushed from behind by a girl with gleaming midnight blue hair.

"Dawn!" May squealed as she hugged her friend.

"May!" Dawn echoed, giggled and jumping up and down. Dawn was only a little bit younger than May, but markedly shorter. She was dressed for the cruise in a flowery pink sun dress, complete with white sandals with matching flowers. The two girls began walking towards the ship, both eager to board.

"I was getting worried. I thought you'd decided to ditch the cruise and travel with Kenny," May said, shooting a sly glance at her friend.

Dawn's blue eyes narrowed, catching the older girl in an uncharacteristic glare.

"No. I've said it over and over again, there's nothing going on between me and Kenny!"

May grinned. "I never said there was."

Dawn squealed in rage and lunged at her friend. May let out a shriek and sprinted away, heading for the gangplank. She ducked and weaved through the crowd, narrowly avoiding collisions on several occasions. However, her luck didn't hold out, and just as May reached the upper deck, she collided with a tall woman with flowing pink hair. They both went down, hitting the polished wood and sliding several feet before coming to a stop.

"Well, May, that's not exactly how I wanted to say hi," the other woman said, a bit sarcastically.

"Oh my gosh! Solidad!" May scrambled to her feet and helped Solidad up. "I'm so sorry! It's so good to see you!"

"You too. Although next time, you don't have to tackle me," Solidad said good-naturedly.

"Yeah, sorry. But in my defense, I was running for my life."

Solidad looked puzzled. "From who?"

"From me!" Dawn said threateningly, appearing from out of the crowd. May shrieked and

ducked behind Solidad, using her as a human shield.

"Hey, I know you," Solidad said, which caused Dawn to stop momentarily.

"You do?"

"Yeah, Dawn Hikari. You were the runner up in the Sinnoh Grand Festival, right?"

Dawn blushed slightly. "Well, yeah," she said modestly.

"Plus," Solidad grinned, shooting a glance at May, "you beat May in the Wallace Cup."

May glowered at her friend. "Barely."

Dawn snorted. "You wish."

"What, is it pick on May day?" May asked, throwing her hands in the air.

Solidad grinned and punched her younger friend lightly on the shoulder. "C'mon, let's go find somewhere less crowded so we can talk."

The three girls leaned against the railing, breathing in the fresh sea air. In front of them, the open ocean stretched as far as the eye could see. Most people were still crowding the front of the ship, waving to friends or loved ones. The back deck was almost completely deserted, which suited May just fine. It was a lot more peaceful back there, and certainly easier to hear her friends talk.

"So, Solidad, where've you been? May asked. "I didn't see you at any of the contests last year."

Solidad laughed. "Well, that's because you were in Sinnoh. I actually was in Hoenn, just to see what the circuit was like here."

"You've never been here before?" Dawn asked, looking slightly puzzled.

"Nope. I've usually kept to Kanto and Johto, you know, a bit closer to home. Sinnoh's next on my list, actually, right after this cruise is over."

May grimaced. "No, don't talk about the cruise being over. It hasn't even begun."

Dawn nodded. "Yeah, I want to savor every moment."

Behind them, someone snorted. They all spun around to see a guy with longish purple hair leaning against a pillar.

When he spoke, his voice was monotone and bored, contempt slightly coloring his words.

"I see you haven't changed much. Seriously, who uses "savored" in a sentence?"

Solidad just gaze at him impassively, but May glared, her temper flaring.

"I do. You got a problem with big words?"

"No," he said lazily, detaching himself from the pillar. "Just stupid people who use them."

At this, Solidad frowned, while Dawn had to physically restrain May.

"Hey, Paul," she said cheerfully, although her voice carried a slight undertone of wariness.

He didn't even acknowledge her as he walked away.

Dawn's shoulders slumped and she let go of May, who stumbled forward a few steps before she could catch herself.

"What's up with that guy?" May asked. "He's a total asshole."

Solidad rolled her eyes and continued to look in the direction that Paul had gone, her brow creased deeply.

Dawn sighed. "When I traveled with Ash, you know, back in Sinnoh, we'd run into Paul every now and then. He and Ash were big time rivals."

Solidad snapped her fingers. "Now I get it! He's Reggie Shinji's younger brother."

"You know Reggie?" Dawn asked in shock.

Solidad chuckled. "Yeah, I met Reggie when he was still a trainer. He challenged the Battle Frontier in Kanto. I was getting ready for a contest when our training areas crossed."

"That's so cool," Dawn said, although May looked slightly confused.

"I know absolutely none of these people. Just so you know," she said, looking back and forth between Solidad and Dawn.

Dawn sighed. "Trust me, you probably don't want to know Paul."

"Yeah, what's up with that?" Solidad added. "He's absolutely nothing like Reggie."

"Yeah, really," Dawn muttered, but just then the ship's foghorn sounded.

"Come on! It's about to pull out!" All three of them ran for the front of the ship, thoughts of Paul momentarily banished.

The cheers and screams of the crowd were still ringing in May's ears as she, Dawn, and Solidad made their way to an outdoor café for lunch. They had yet to check out their rooms, but as usual, May was in the mood for food. The café was cute, with tile mosaic covered tabletops, and chairs with twisted metal designs running up the backs. The girls' table was a deep aquamarine blue, the tile glittering in the afternoon sunlight.

"Oh, yeah," Solidad said, just after their food arrived. "I forgot to mention this. My sister's actually on the ship. You'll both get to meet her."

May stopped eating for a second. "I didn't even know you had a sister," she said blankly.

Dawn asked, "Is she a coordinator, like us?"

Solidad started to shake her head, but stopped. "Well, she was, but she's retired. She's actually a Pokémon researcher now. She's on the cruise to do research, among other things."

May said, "That's so cool. Is she going to be at the opening ceremony tonight?"

Dawn frowned. "What ceremony?"

"There's a reception for all the coordinators and trainers on the cruise," Solidad replied. Dawn started to look slightly panicked, so Solidad backtracked.

"Relax, Dawn, it's nothing major. Just some food, probably music and stuff."

"We'll probably have to mingle too, you know, get to know everyone else," May added.

"Mingling?" Dawn gasped. "I don't know if I have anything to wear to mingle!"

May and Solidad laughed at the younger girl's horror, which elicited a glare from Dawn.

"This is a serious problem. Everyone here is someone. I can't just go looking like this!" Dawn's voice had been rising steadily, finally settling on a pitch that would shatter glass. She gestured to her clothing as if she was wearing rags and sackcloth, instead of pink silk with threads of golden woven into the fabric.

Dawn stood up abruptly and said, "I have to go raid my wardrobe. I have to have brought something decent." And with that, the dark haired girl left, muttering under her breath as she disappeared around a corner. May and Solidad looked at each other, then collapsed into laughter.

They finished the rest of their meal and left, talking as they walked the decks of the ship. May had been traveling on her own for so long that she had almost forgotten what it was like to have a friend to talk to. A pang of loneliness shot through her, and for a second, she remembered the long ago days of traveling in Hoenn with Ash, Brock, and Max.

"Hello? Earth to May?" Solidad asked, waving a hand in front of May's face.

May startled slightly. "What? Oh, sorry. I zoned out," she apologized.

"It's fine," Solidad assured her. "Anyway, have you seen Drew lately?"

May froze for a second, her mouth feeling strangely disconnected from her brain. She wrested control back and replied, "No, it's been a while." She paused. "Why?"

Solidad glanced at May sideways before saying nonchalantly, "Oh, no reason. I just didn't know if you knew he was here."

May swallowed hard. "Here? Like, on this ship?"

Solidad nodded. "Yep. In fact, I'm supposed to have dinner with him this evening. If you'd like to come, I'm sure he wouldn't mind," Solidad said craftily, shooting another sideways glance at May, whose face was slightly pinker than it had been a minute ago.

"I don't know. I'll probably just eat with Dawn, you know, protect her from Paul," May said, her voice faltering slightly at the end. Solidad just gave her a knowing look and said, "Okay. I'll tell him you say hi."

May nodded but didn't say anything. In all honesty, she didn't know what to say. She hadn't seen Drew in months, despite the fact that she knew he was in Sinnoh too. Drew had seemed to be going out of his way to avoid contests she was entering, so May had let things be. But she couldn't pretend that his silence didn't hurt a bit. They'd known each other for more than six years at this point, and she considered him one of her closest friends. They were rivals, of course, but still, May had thought they were friends too. Apparently, she had thought wrong.

May didn't voice any of this to Solidad. As wise and understanding as she was, Solidad had been friends with Drew for far longer than she had with May. And May definitely didn't want Drew to know that she had cared so much about his absence.

"Hey, I'm going to head to my room, check things out. You should too," Solidad said. "Hopefully, they didn't forget your luggage."

May paled. "They wouldn't . . ." she whispered, images of herself in gift store clothing for the next three months flashing in front of her eyes. Forgetting to say goodbye, May turned and ran for her room, narrowly avoiding crashing into a couple out on a leisurely stroll. Solidad just laughed and shook her head before she turned and headed for her own room.

Okay, so that's it. I hope you guys like it! I'm not going to hold a story hostage until I get a certain number of reviews, but if you could just take two seconds and tell me what you think, it would be really helpful. Thanks!