Hi, welcome to my next fic!

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I don't own Pokémon or any of the characters in this fic. I only own the story.

This fic is in first person and will switch between perspectives, despite this chapter only being from Serena's point of view.

All of the characters in this fic, with the exception of Brock who is slightly older, are 18. This fic may portray the characters drinking, but it is legal to drink in my country once you're 18 (UK) so there is nothing illegal in this fic. Yeah, this fic might be kind of trashy. Just warning you now.

~ This fic was beta read by my amazing friend Itssupereffective, check out his fics too! ~

Please let me know what you think. c:


Serena

While the cab journey from the airport had been long and monotonous, I still dreaded stepping out of the door once we arrived. I pulled my sun hat down over my eyes as the driver pulled open my door and thanked him while I stepped out. The sun was almost blinding- a contrast to the rain that I'd expected. At least that was a positive.

The only thing there to greet me was a set of great black iron gates twisted into intricate and ornate designs, the heights scaling past any of my previous expectations. On the other side, the long drive stretched far off and winded. The cab driver handed me my suitcase and began to pull open the gates, earning a loud groan from them and a small one from him as he dragged them through the gravel. I thanked him again and began the short trek down the driveway.

I didn't know a single thing about where we were staying, other than it was 'big', as May described it in her hurried phone call. By the looks of things, May hadn't exaggerated. I turned a corner, and as the mansion came into view my breath caught momentarily in my throat. Flanking the remaining drive were a number of bushes and hedges trimmed into intricate and unique shapes, including animals and hearts. At the end, the driveway curved in a ring to circle a marble fountain centred on a well-trimmed patch of grass. The fountain portrayed a smiling dolphin, the water spouting from its open, smiling mouth.

The stately mansion itself was bigger than any house I'd ever been in. Even the stone is was built from looked expensive. I would have gawked for long if May hadn't swung the enormous oak doors open and hurtled down the steps. Knowing May, I let my bag drop in preparation for the hug just as her arms closed around me. Despite the anxiety, her familiar scent brought a smile to my face. I had missed May.

"Serena!" was all she said, and I could tell she was grinning.

"Hi, May."

May quickly pulled away and grabbed my bag up from the ground, dragging it through the gravel. Obviously, she didn't want to waste any time before showing off the inside of the home, which was likely to be equally as impressive as the outside. Following, my stomach twisted suddenly, increasing the discomfort I already felt. There would be people I didn't know here, and while I was normally okay with meeting new people, this was a different situation- most of them would already know each other. Not to mention, I was sick just thinking of one certain person that May might have invited…

At least I had May. May had always seemed to know everyone, and everyone seemed to like her instantly. A lot. I'd met May when I travelled to Hoenn. She was taking her second shot at contests there, despite already earning the title 'Princess of Hoenn'. May and I had hit it off right away and became fast friends. Considering my situation, May had quickly become my best friend, but always had a plethora of other friends she'd call often, while I only had Clemont. I'd almost asked if I could bring Clemont along, just so he could share the awkwardness with me.

The inside was just as impressive as the outside, just like I'd expected. The entrance hall alone was gigantic, with polished wood floors and a pair of winding stairs that met on a balcony that led to the second floor. There were undoubtedly at least three floors. The furniture was all wooden- the same dark, polished wood as the floorboards, and decorated minimally but beautifully. The walls all seemed to be the same neutral shade of cream but were mostly hidden under paintings and photographs peppered across them. The floorboards creaked under my shoes as we entered.

"Tell me how you got this place again?" I asked, closing my jaw that had swung open at the sight.

May grinned from ear to ear. "I had dad pull some strings. It's a rental home, but the people that lived here recently moved out, and no one is moving in again until August."

I supposed it was a shame that we couldn't stay for the entire month that it was empty, despite the faces I might see. Just as the anxiety began creeping up my spine again, a girl appeared at the side of my vision. She stood in the door to the right, leaning against the frame, a lollipop in her mouth. She was tall, but not lanky, and had the brightest ginger hair I'd ever seen. A few freckles were dotted across her almost perfect face. She'd dressed for the weather in a cropped shirt that showed off her considerable curves, and dark denim shorts. Seeing the girl's perfect legs made me self-conscious about my own, and I tugged nervously on my blue pleated skirt.

"Hi." She waved. Her voice was flighty and friendly, despite her somewhat intimidating look, which allowed me to relax a little.

May walked over to the girl to stand beside her. "This is Misty. She was my friend Ash's travelling companion in Kanto. She came to visit him while he travelled with me in Hoenn." May grinned up at her friend and Misty returned it. "Misty, this is Serena from Kalos, the girl I travelled with last year."

I hoped May hadn't noticed me wince at the mention of his name. I'd gotten good at hiding it. While I'd worried about him non-stop on the journey here, and even beforehand, hearing his name made it so much more real. He could be coming here. He could be walking down that drive right now.

I held out my hand, hoping it was the right thing to do. Luckily, Misty had the same idea. I hoped my hands weren't clammy as I shook Misty's and tried my best to smile at her while she gave me a nod.

"Drew is also here somewhere. Probably ripping out roses from the gardens." May rolled her eyes and I laughed a little. At least I knew Drew, even if I'd only met him the several times he'd appeared to flirt with May while simultaneously beat her down about her competition style and Pokémon. He was always so absorbed with May that he barely ever spoke a word to me besides greetings.

"Miss Maple, a word please?"

May drifted away from us without a word. I knew my face twisted at the source of the voice. "Is that a butler?"

"Yeah. This place really has everything. It makes my gym look shabby as hell."

I was suddenly very aware that it was just me and this stranger left in the hall, and that we were simply standing, not doing anything in particular. If I were to walk away into another room, Misty would probably think I was rude, so I swallowed hard and wondered what a normal thing to say next would be.

"You own a gym?" was what came out. It seemed to work. Misty placed her hands on her hips, pushing the lollipop to the corner of her mouth to smile proudly.

"I do. The water gym in Cerulean City. My sisters used to own it, but they neglected it, so I took it off their hands… Or rather, they forced it into mine."

Just when I thought Misty couldn't make me feel any more inadequate, she revealed that she owned a gym. Of course she did. "You must be really busy." I clutched my bag handle tighter and wished it weren't still there. It made it appear as though I hadn't settled yet- like I should be going elsewhere. The conversation felt a little forced.

"Meh. Sorta. My sisters take over whenever I have somewhere else to go. I mean, I know they're doing a bad job, but I need a break every now and then too." She said it as though it were a fact, as though her sisters were only capable of doing a bad job. I sucked in a breath and prayed she wasn't always this arrogant.

The butler reappeared at the door to what I assumed was the living room, based on the lavish red silk sofa and giant hearth I spied behind him. For some reason, the thought of having a manservant, even just for two weeks, made me uneasy. I didn't deserve someone waiting after me. To my dismay, he approached me.

"Let me take your bags for you, ma'am." He took the bags from me before I could say no, leaving me feeling uncomfortable at the use of the word 'ma'am'. Misty opened her mouth to continue our small talk but was cut off by May calling us into the living room behind her.

I sat beside May on the sofa adjacent to Misty's. I sat upright and crossed my legs, but May splayed herself across her half, throwing her arms back and sighing.

"I could definitely get used to this."

"Well, don't!" Misty laughed at May's ridiculous position. "I'm never gonna feel satisfied in my own home again."

A pair of hands suddenly reached around from behind the sofa, grabbing May's shoulders and sending her shooting up from her seat. It was only Drew, of course, and May gave him what was obviously intended to be a playful smack on the arm but was a little too hard. I wondered if he'd even acknowledge me while May was here.

"Drew, go back to pulling roses from the garden so you can carry on your futile attempts to flirt with me and anything else with boobs."

May had never said that before- that Drew was known for flirting with other girls too. I'd always assumed that he only flirted with May as she was the only girl I'd properly seen him around. If Drew flirted with most girls, why did he never bother with me? I sunk down in my seat a little.

The thought was pushed to the back of my mind when he turned to face me. "Hey again, Serena."

I forced a smile. "Hey."

He turned back to May, and my attention for the day was gone. Not that it bothered me. Not in the slightest. I didn't need attention from anybody to prove my worth, anyway…

"My attempts are not always futile," Drew argued, returning to his previous conversation with May. "I pulled multiple girls in Hoenn last year."

May's nose wrinkled dramatically. "Ew Drew, gross. Do not ever used the word 'pulled' in my presence again."

Drew grinned as though proud of himself at her discomfort. Misty scoffed too. "Anyway," Drew continued, leaning his elbows on the back of the sofa above May's head, "when are the other guys coming? I'm sick of you already."

My head whipped around to face May. "What other guys are coming?" I felt a sudden sense of panic. I'd almost forgotten anyone else was coming. I couldn't face him, not now. Not with so many people to witness it. They'd surely ask questions and the whole thing would become infinitely more awkward, not to mention the pain I felt even thinking about his face. I clasped my hands together in my lap to stop their shaking.

"Well, I figured I may as well invite as many people as I can. There are plenty of rooms, after all."

"Who?" I tried and failed to hide the desperation in my tone. May raised an eyebrow in question but didn't ask about my obvious panic. She probably just thought I was nervous.

"Well, there's Gary, Ash's old rival and Misty's friend. Brock, of course, and Dawn and Paul from Sinnoh." With the ever-growing list, I became increasingly hopeful that his name wouldn't be amongst them. That somehow, he hadn't been able to attend. Surely she would have said it first. "And Ash, of course!"

My heart plummeted into my stomach.

As if on cue, the door swung open in the hall. I whirled in my head, my breath catching in my throat. Ash stumbled in, panting and holding a plethora of bags, some of which belonged to a girl. I bit my bottom lip hard to stop the cry that I choked on. The girl came into view, and she was stunning with long blue hair swaying over her naked shoulders. The little black dress may have usually been a little much for day to day activities, but she made it work. My heart pounded so fast I was sure I was breathing loudly, but the blood rushing in my ears kept me from hearing.

"Ash!" May called, clambering over the back of the sofa. She reached him in seconds and threw herself against him as if she hadn't seen him in years. He laughed and returned her hug, rubbing the small of her back slowly. I suddenly became aware that he could see me at any second and turned away again, sinking down into the sofa as if I could avoid the confrontation altogether.

Drew followed May into the hallway, his hands stuck moodily in his pockets. I was left alone with Misty, who seemed content to let the others greet Ash first. I studied the ginger girl's face. Her nose was narrow, and so were her eyes, in a somewhat intimidating but also beautiful way. They were the most spectacular shade of green that made me feel slightly jealous. They paired perfectly with her hair.

"Don't you want to go say hello?" I asked, secretly hoping she wouldn't leave me alone. Misty shook her head and crossed her bare legs.

"Nah. He'll come to me."

I raised my eyebrows despite myself. Was she really so confident, or was it arrogance? Or, perhaps she was just extremely close to Ash. So close that he'd go to her over any of the others. I sank further down, swallowing hard and pushed that thought from my mind. This was a mess.

There were footsteps, and I realised I'd pulled the sofa cushion down over my head too late. From under it, I could make out another pair of bare legs, less pale than Misty's and shorter. I wasn't sure if it would be worse to jump out or try to sink further down into the sofa until it consumed me, and I didn't have to face whoever this was.

"Hello!" The voice was even more enthusiastic that Misty's, and whoever it was didn't seem fazed by my unusual position, so I reluctantly sat up, pushing the cushion back down. It was the blue haired girl. She was even more gorgeous close up, with doe-like eyes that accented her heart shaped face and straight, petite nose.

"Hi," I replied, trying to replicate her upbeat tone. It didn't work. "My name's Serena." I at least managed to force a pained smile.

The girl reached out and grabbed my hand so suddenly that I jumped in my chair a little. "My name's Dawn!" She held the hand in both of hers and didn't shake it. "May has told me so much about you!"

I noted that she only said May had spoken about me, and not Ash. Not that it surprised me, or bothered me in the slightest, I told myself. I had a hard time convincing myself. I found myself wishing I'd met this girl a couple of years ago, when I was like her- upbeat and happy as I rode the high of finding an old childhood friend I'd cared for. After everything that had happened, I'd been left this way. Untrusting and drab.

"May's told me all about you too," I lied, remembering the one time May had mentioned Dawn in passing. Dawn dropped my hand so suddenly it slapped against my knee. "I love your dress."

"Thanks!" Dawn twirled, and the dress skirt floated up a little, further showing off her curves. "I like yours too!"

"Thank you." The dress was the same as the dress I'd worn in Kalos when Ash and I had first met, only it was blue and white this time. I hoped he wouldn't notice. I always used to wear pink, but I'd really taken to blue since Ash and I parted. I felt it suited me better now.

Dawn skipped off before I could say anything else. Blinking, I watched her dance away back towards Ash. Misty chuckled at my bewilderment. "She's always like that. I've met her once before and she was that bubbly the whole time."

I was sure there'd be more to Dawn than that but kept quiet and hoped that her demeanour wouldn't tire me out by the end of the two weeks. Ash was still talking to May, and she was making such a fuss about him, it was as though she was his sister… Or perhaps something else. I sighed, ready to turn back to Misty, when Ash turned to the living room and looked right at me. I turned away a split second later. I couldn't hide my wince this time. I felt sick. He knew I was here. He knew I was here.

"So, what's the story here?" Misty asked me, nodding towards Ash, who I was sure would still be looking. I shook my head as an answer, not wanting to say anything. Questions were the last thing I needed. Misty shrugged.

May returned a moment later, throwing herself down on the sofa beside me. Misty was busy inspecting her fingernails.

"So, May," she started, looking up from her hands. "You seem very fond of Ash?"

I wasn't sure if she meant to, but she sounded extremely intimidating. She posed it as a question, but there was most definitely a wrong answer. May's eyes flicked up to Misty as though she would say something, but quickly dropped again as she decided against whatever it was. "He's a good friend of mine, so of course."

Misty inclined her head in a slight nod, seemingly happy with May's answer. It was odd that she'd even ask that question in the first place. I wondered when the last time Misty had seen Ash was. Too afraid of rubbing her up the wrong way, I bit my tongue. Misty stood anyway, walking to the hallway. Just as she'd said, Ash began walking towards her, greeting her first.

"Anyway," I started, unsure of what I was even going to say. "Uh…"

"May, these gardens are amazing! Come and look!" Dawn called from the open front door. Even though May had seen them before, she sprung up happily from her seat, smiled at me, and left without a word. I could tell Misty's question had bugged her.

Misty returned a few moments later, snapping me from my thoughts. "Do you want to go for a drive?" She wasn't even looking at me.

"You have a car here?" I blushed. I couldn't even drive.

"Yeah. I got the ferry across with my car. I thought it might be nice to look around."

"Sure."

I followed her wordlessly to the door. She flicked the car keys around in her fingers and hummed something to herself. I found myself liking her and her calm attitude. Luckily, Ash had gone elsewhere, and we didn't pass him. Misty's 'car' was more of a truck with a somewhat aggressive look, just like its owner. Still, it was a nice car, and made me even more jealous of Misty as I settled into the seat and waited for her to finish adjusting her wing mirror.

"Hope you don't mind the music. You can change it if you like."

When she started the car, the CD player resumed playing the last album she'd had in. It was a happy rock song, with a female singer, and matched her personality perfectly. The heater blasted cold air, but I worried it wasn't my place to mess with the fans so wrapped my arms around myself instead, staring out of the window.

"You're from Kalos, right?" Misty asked as she pulled away, starting off down the drive.

I nodded, not looking away from the scenery outside. "Yeah. That's where I first travelled too."

"And where are you travelling now?"

I paused, debating which answer to give. "Well, I'm not really. I'm sort of taking a break." I slightly worried about embarrassing myself with the answer, but Misty didn't seem to care.

"And have you ever met Ash before?"

I started in my seat, unwrapping my arms. "What makes you think that?"

Misty gave me a side glance. "Serena."

I sighed. I had been hoping he wouldn't come up. I swallowed hard. As soon as we cleared the gates, Misty's foot slammed down on the accelerator and she drove exactly as I'd expected her to- fast and jerky, but completely confident in herself. She took the bends as though she didn't care if there was another car on the other side. I gripped the side of my chair subconsciously.

"Okay. I met Ash in Kalos. I travelled with him."

Misty nodded. "I met Ash in Kanto. He was just starting his journey. He had no control over Pikachu and she fried my bike. I was so annoyed, I decided I'd follow him until he got me another one. After a while, it wasn't really about that anymore." She smiled as though recalling a particularly happy memory. "He just kind of hooks you in like that, doesn't he? With all those fucking adventures."

I flinched slightly at her language. "Yeah, I know what you mean…" I was trying not to listen too intently to her words, afraid they'd upset me more.

"So, come on." Misty turned to me briefly. "Why did you look like your worst nightmare had walked through the door?"

It wasn't much of a story, but somehow the prospect of having someone to talk to it about seemed very appealing. I wasn't sure why, but I was sure Misty would keep whatever I said a secret. "I don't know. We were best friends. We were with Bonnie and Clemont too, but we were the closest by far. In fact, I was sure that we'd travel together again once I'd been to Hoenn, but he ignored me. I called him every day the following week and he didn't answer me. At first it was to check if he'd gotten home okay and to tell him about Hoenn, but then it was to confirm he was ignoring me. I was in Hoenn for a year, and we didn't talk the entire time. We still haven't talked."

May had already started another journey in Alola. She'd asked me if I wanted to join, but I couldn't bring myself to. I needed a break. May would be at least halfway through her new journey, and I was moping at home.

Misty shot me an incredulous look. "That doesn't seem like him at all."

I threw my hands up, relieved that she understood. "I know! I was in denial for a while and kept calling, but eventually I stopped. I figured he was busy or something, but then one day I walked into May's room, and she was calling him. He saw me come into the room and instantly told her he had to go and hung up. That was the first time I found out they knew each other. I didn't tell her I knew him."

Misty's jaw dropped as she listened. "No! You've never told May that you know him?"

Hearing her say that way it made me feel awful. "I didn't want to ruin their friendship too. I thought it might make it awkward if she knew, so I just let her call him whenever and listened to her stories about him as though he were a stranger."

Misty shook her head as she turned into a parking lot. We were at the beach. It had only taken a few minutes to get here. I waited for her to start getting out of the car, but she didn't. Instead she lifted her legs up and propped them on the dash, looking out to the ocean.

"That sounds horrible." She sounded genuinely upset for me.

"It just made it worse knowing he's kept in contact with all of you. I've tried pushing the thought away, but even after all this time I can't help but wonder what I did wrong."

"Maybe you didn't do anything wrong. Maybe it's something to do with him. Whatever it is, this is the perfect time to fix it. While you can't avoid each other, I mean."

"I guess you're right," I surrendered, but was still unsure if I'd bother talking to him again. He clearly didn't want me to. Either way, I was really beginning to warm to Misty.

The song had changed to a slow one. Misty mashed the skip button, still staring out of her window. "Fucking depressing."

It was so peaceful here, I almost forgot about Ash altogether. "Thanks for the ride. I'd only been there a few minutes and already needed a break."

"You were the only girl that wasn't obsessing over Ash. Not that that means I wouldn't pick you again."

I laughed. "That's okay."

Misty swung her legs off the dashboard and adjusted herself in her seat. She hadn't even bothered to turn the engine off, so she pulled away as soon as she was ready. She looked over to me. "Are you okay to go back now, or do you wanna stay out a while longer?"

I smiled, grateful that Misty was considering that I might need more time. I'd definitely judged her too quickly. "I'm alright. We can go back."

Misty nodded and drove back quickly. On the brief journey back, Misty explained who Dawn was and we laughed at stories Misty shared about Ash's first journeys. Even though it was painful to hear about him, it was less so with Misty. As we turned onto the drive, Misty turned to me. "At least you're not obsessed with him like the other two. They act like they're in love with him or something."

My laughter quickly died out as my stomach knotted. Of course, Misty didn't know. I thought about Kalos, and Ash again, and my feelings… They'd changed since then, but it was still a sore wound.

Misty didn't say much else as she locked the car and headed back to the house. Inside, the rest of the group had arrived and were gathered around talking in the living room. Noticing how close Ash sat to May, with her practically leaning on his chest, I felt a pang in my heart. I'd been telling myself my feelings had changed for well over a year, and yet this never got any easier.


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