Ash sat on a bench, gazing morosely at a silver badge case in his hand. Pikachu watched forlornly as tears, heavy with guilt and depression, attempted to force their way down its trainer's eyes. He hadn't slept well in days, he hadn't eaten a single meal properly. He was constantly tortured by ever-growing regret; and memories that once filled him with happiness now filled him with guilt and depression. He didn't want Pikachu to stay outside, watching him replay his troubled thoughts over and over again.

It was not that he failed in his ambitions. He was, in fact, very successful- and he sat on one of the benches of the Turquoise Plaza of Puerto Regio City- one of the biggest cities of the Iberos Region. Clipped to his belt was the team with which he won the Continental Champions League- winning against the Champions of the Kanto and Johto joint region, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova, Kalos and Indus. Yet, he felt that he had lost.

"Never give up til' its over- The Straw Hat Girl" read the engraving on the badge case. Ash's heart sank deeper and deeper with each time he glanced at those words. The Straw Hat Girl- Serena. Memories flooded him, until he finally cracked under the weight of all the emotion. The warm hands that would normally embrace him when he was in that state were no longer there; the shoulder draped with tresses of honey-blonde hair that smelled faintly of jasmine- which would shoulder all his pain was no longer there.

"What have I done?" he asked himself bitterly, bringing the badge case to his eyes. "Serena, I'm so sorry!" he whispered to himself, as he took another look at the badge case.

"Pika-pi...Pika...chu..." Pikachu tried consoling him. If someone would've bet on this happening, it would've been a fool's bet. The two were so close to each other, and meant the world to each other. Yet what brought the distance between them?

Almost as if the two hearts were connected and could feel each other's thoughts, a thousand miles away in a different time zone, Serena tossed around uncomfortably on her bed in Vaniville Town, Kalos. The moonlight shone on her tear-stained face. Like him, she barely ate or slept since days without being troubled. Two people who once shared so much together now shared only one thing- sadness and, at that given moment, the same thoughts- Courmarine City.

Ash thought of it, whereas Serena dreamt of it. Though they had met each other much earlier in Pallet Town and the memories they shared there were the most cherished; though they travelled with each other for a very long time and shared great memories, Courmarine City held special significance to them because that was the turning point in their relationship. They were best friends before that, but the events of Courmarine City planted the seeds for something much deeper between them.