Author - Chibi / Warlordess

Disclaimer – Er, my old one was outdated, but if you know the definition of the word 'disclaimer', then you know what goes here. I'll leave it up to you to come up with some wonderful, comical, snarky remark; okay?


Fiction Title - "Fighting the Fates"

Chapter Seven - "As You Were, and As You Could Be"

Summary - While making their way through Sootopolis, Ash and friends stumble across a local fortuneteller who says. . . dun, dun, dun! Ash and May are destined to be together! And then Misty and Drew pop into the picture. . . Whatever could they have to say about this? Pokeshippy and Contestshippy fic. Tee hee. :)

Ages -

Ash / 15

May / 13

Misty / 16

Drew / 14

Brock / 18

Max / 10


The next day was the most unusual for any of them. Misty was the first to wake up, seeing as she'd agreed to set the date up for May and Ash. She made the phone-call to a local restaurant that Nurse Joy had told her about; one that she had heard had great food, service, and welcomed compliments. She could just as easily have tried to sabotage everything she was trying to do. . . but she knew that that wasn't the point of this experiment.

The next to wake up was May, who had quite a uniform to plan. Again, the thought of sabotage came to mind – why not wear something so completely unappealing that Ash went squealing in the opposite direction? – but, in the end, she knew that this was important. If not to her or anyone else that was personally involved, then to Misty. And she had promised that she would go through with it. And so it wouldn't be right to mess with that as of now.

Drew and Max woke up next, totally unaware of the event that would be taking place as of later that day. It was quite a shock to the younger Beech sibling when he turned to wake Ash, and he found the Pokemon trainer laying there in his bed, staring unblinkingly up at the ceiling with a blank expression on his face. He looked as though he hadn't gotten any sleep at all the night before – as though some horrible news had prevented him from reaching that wonderful plain of dreams.

Drew, of course, noticed this, too, but he didn't really see how it could affect him. He thought that he had other things to worry about, things that didn't involve anyone other than himself and May. . . until he exited the room, walking towards the lobby, and ended up colliding straight into said girl, sending her crashing to the floor.

He would have helped her back to her feet, but he was too busy trying to catch on to the fact that she wasn't wearing her everyday traveling-clothes. Today's ensemble was a spaghetti-strap, cherry-blossom colored dress, knee-length skirt, with matching heels of a scarlet hue that laced up her ankles. In her hair was a Beautifly barrette made of glassy pearls sparkling in the morning sunshine.

After ten seconds of his just staring at her, blinking, and her waiting impatiently for him to give her a hand, which he failed to do, she succeeded in raising herself up off of the floor. However, the aggravation she felt at the situation melted almost instantly to be replaced with reservation as she clasped her hands anxiously and tightly in front of her.

". . . So, what do you think? I'm going on a date today." She said, and finally caught his eye.

". . . It's just. . ." Her words breached the barrier that her attire had molded into his head, and he snapped out of the trance he'd been in before, ". . . not my business then, is it?" He avoided looking at her expression any longer.

She 'hmphed' in dignity, attempting to side-step him and head into the lobby of the Center and look herself over in the large mirror that was acquired in the public female trainers' restroom.

". . . Who is it with?" His statement stopped her in her tracks. She couldn't help but feel grateful at the knowledge of his curiosity. However – and she couldn't hide the smirk that grew on her face at the very thought – she also wanted to make him suffer a little, even if it was only for a couple of seconds. . .

"Who is what with?" She asked oh-so innocently.

"You'd really like to play that game forever, wouldn't you? Well, forget it. The date, May; I just want to know who you're going to spend your valuable time with."

". . . Oh." Well, that had been disappointing beyond belief. "Yea; it's with Ash." She turned and continued on her way, fondly aware of the fact that Drew hadn't liked that little bit of news anymore than she had when she'd first found out that she was going to be doing it (at least, not by the look on his face, he hadn't).

". . . You know, for someone who claims to have been so passionate about emotions being more important than anything else, you sure have given in easily. And what's this? Only about ten hours after our little fallout? I would have expected a bit longer of a wait from you. . . but then again, what else could come of it? After all, what you and Ash have is fate, right? And you've already shown that you find it hard to fight that."

"You have no idea. . . !" May turned on her heel to face him again, her hands curled into fists. It was rare that she got this angry. It was true that she and Drew hardly ever saw eye to eye, but that was usually to do with their Pokemon Contests, and it was mostly when they were in the middle of one of their insulting grudge matches. . . But this time, it was definitely nothing like that. This time, she had something real to prove. "You were the one who said I should decide what I wanted. . . ! You were the one who said that, if I didn't want to go for what was illogical, I should be with Ash. . . ! Well, guess what? I had already decided! You were wrong, Drew! You were just being. . . I don't know what you were being, if you were trying to prove a point, or if you were being senseless, or testing me, or pushing me away; but if the latter was the case, guess what? It worked! Because Misty and Ash went out yesterday, too, and they didn't do so well either, and now Misty thinks that since we had a problem, then the seer was right about us all! So she's forced both Ash and me to agree to a date! . . . So good for you, Drew!"

And then she was gone, heading in the direction of the restroom again. Drew quirked an eyebrow, feeling that perhaps she'd been calling on a bit more drama than was necessary. . . and then Max appeared.

"Ash told me what's going on; and I guess now you know, too." The younger boy stepped up to the male Coordinator's side and flashed his glasses accordingly. Drew didn't seem fazed. Stranger things had happened lately; like girls showing up in fancy clothes and then freaking out on him. "You know, it's not like she wanted to do this; she said so herself. It was Misty's plan, because she feels that there's really something to this whole fate-thing, since both you and my sister, and Ash and Misty, had some issues last night."

". . . And now, because you think so, I should be feeling sympathetic for her? Just because May says she really had nothing to do with it? After she just got done screaming her head off at me, sounding totally unbalanced, might I add?"

". . . Well, maybe she did come on a bit strong, but let's not forget how much truth came out in her statement. . . and there's one more thing you might find interesting. . . but then again, I'm not so sure." And then Max walked past him, kneeling on the ground and dabbing at the linoleum floor.

"What? When I accidentally knocked her down, I scuffed her shoe? I'll apologize for that, since I'm sure she'll complain that it ruined her perfect image. . ." Drew stated, scoffing quite irritably.

"No; it's not that. . . It's just. . ." Max turned back to face the older boy again and held up his index finger – the one he'd drawn across the floor – showing what he'd gathered there. ". . . She had to be upset by whatever you two were fighting about, since she was crying so much when she ran off."

Drew didn't move at first. In fact, he didn't seem to be breathing much either. He looked as though he was fighting off the urge to feel rather in the wrong about everything he'd said and done over the past day and a half. As Max continued to look him over, the Coordinator finally shook himself off and flipped his bangs in a casual, haughty sort of way – careless – and then placed his hands into his pockets.

"I'm not feeling guilty; I'm really not." He convinced the both of them as the younger Beech sibling stared him down with a fierce expression of unblinking calm. One bat of the eyelid, two. . . "Just leave it."

Meanwhile, Misty sat back in the room she and May had been sharing for the night, forcing herself to remain calm. It was rather hard, however, when she kept glancing at the clock. It was eleven forty-five a.m. The lunch reservation that she'd set up for May and Ash was for twelve fifteen p.m. . . . In other words, only a half an hour away from the current time. Could she really handle what was going on. . . ?

A tap signaled at the door, and it knocked her from her reverie, gratefully. For right now, she didn't have much of a choice. She got up from her seat on the bed, sighed, and went to open the door. She opened it to see Brock, but before she got the chance to say anything, he pushed his way inside.

"Okay, you've got to tell me what's going on. Ash won't, but by the sound of it, everyone else seems to know by now. May's parading around in some fancy little number, Drew's sulking, Max is taking bets, and Ash has locked me out of the room – which you two destroyed, so we still have to deal with the tab for that, but we'll get to that later. Anyway, back to Ash. . . I tried getting in there a little while earlier, but the door wouldn't open, and I kept hearing explosions, maniacal laughter; it sounds like he's gone quite mad in there. . ." Brock finished in an irritable mutter. He turned suddenly on his heel after pacing back and forth in the room, facing Misty once again. "So you've got to be the one to tell me – what the hell is going on?"

Misty took a moment to step back and collect her thoughts, catching up with everything that Brock had just managed to utter in one breath. Someone should really create an award for such an amazing feat as that. . .

". . . Well, I mean, it's. . ." She gave in and pointed to the bed, giving him the impression that he should sit down. ". . . going to be a long story." And, indeed, she began to tell him, everything from the point at which Ash had caught up with her in the Sootopolis shopping center yesterday, to the point at which she'd sat the raven-haired trainer down and forced him to agree to the very reason that May was parading around in above-mentioned "fancy little number".

"So, Ash and May are going out on a date?"


"And they're only doing this because you told them that they should do it?"


"Because you think that, since both you and Ash, and May and Drew, had some problem or other on your very first date ever in your lives last night, there must be something wrong with the chemistry, and not the fact that it was your first date ever?"

"Er. . . yea. . . That's about right."

"Misty, I don't know how to say this. . . And I know that, when I do say it, it's going to come out totally wrong and I'm going to end up on the most wounding end of that nail-ish mallet of yours, but I just feel that it has to be said; since when have you been the type to give in so easily to what you know is wrong?"

"What are you talking about?" She uttered, quirking an eyebrow, confused.

"I'm talking about the fact that, when I traveled with you for those almost-five years, you had a certain strong faith in a number of things. . . Water Pokemon, love, righteousness, etc. . . . And now, just because of some seer and her stupid fancy phrases, you give up all of that? I thought that you had a greater personality than that. I mean, you used to grill anyone who bad-mouthed Water Pokemon; you used to fight for the rights of Pokemon that were used for Team Rocket's evil employment; you used to step forcefully in between any girl who made a move on Ash whenever they tried to say or do something that was considered stepping into your territory. . ."

". . . Yea; so?"

"So. . . you've given up all of that, simply because some woman with possible-paranormal powers says that it won't work out. Misty, think about it! You've had a thing for Ash since you were thirteen, and he's had a thing for you since he was fourteen – and I'm only talking consciously here! You haven't torn each other – or the rest of us – to pieces yet, and you've been fighting each other almost constantly since the day you met! If you haven't done it yet, what makes you think you can do it now? And like I said about the date-thing, it was your first one, to start off with. Of course it wasn't going to go according to plan. I wouldn't have been surprised if you tripped over one another and landed in a huge fountain full of Goldeen! As for the test on Ash's romantic side. . . well. . . that wasn't your best idea. Ash was right; did you really expect him to pass? I mean, c'mon. . ."

"But what about Drew and May? They didn't do well on their date either. . ." Misty commented, wondering what Brock's retaliation would be to that comment.

"Well, you've known Drew barely two days now, so you can't say that you know him well, let alone his interaction with May. His not getting along with her is actually very common; believe me." And here, Brock grinned fondly. "Actually, it reminds me a lot of you and Ash. . . It's one of the ways we all can tell both of you couples actually belong together, even if that one person – the fortuneteller – doesn't." After he was finished with his reminiscing, he blinked and turned back to Misty. "So, what do you say you go out to the lobby and call of this whole bad dating game experience, and we go back to what we do best? You and Ash try to kill each other, May and Drew try to verbally rip each other's heads off, and Max, Pikachu, and I stand there and watch until we can't take it any longer and we decide that we all need a quick fix. . . thus, the Thundershocking begins."

"Look, you may think that it's okay to just go back to normal, but it's not. . . I want to see this through. . . ! Nothing you say can stop me!" Misty got up and headed for the door, not looking back, and Brock tried one last time to stop her.

"Misty, you said that you asked May what she would do if it came down to gaining Drew for herself or letting him go – allowing him to be happy! Well, what did she choose? You never told me. . . She had to give you an answer. . . and you must not have told me what it was because you didn't like it." Misty did stop in her tracks, and she turned her head just slightly so that he could see half of her face.

". . . She said that she'd probably keep him for herself – that it would take a lot for her to ultimately give him up for good. . . Is that all you have to ask me? Can I go now? Ash and May will be leaving soon, and they still need the directions to the restaurant."

"Just one more thing; knowing how you used to act around girls who showed a potentially friendly-romantic interest in Ash, and knowing how you forced them back, and now hearing May's reaction to the same type of situation, if ever it should come along. . . I just have to wonder. . . why can't you be that selfish any longer?"

"Because I was just a kid then, and he was just a crush – to all of the girls who tried to court him. Now we're older, he means more, it's serious. So c'mon; this room is now off-limits. Let's go see the two. . . er, datee's. . . off." She jerked her thumb over her shoulder and nodded Brock in the direction of the hallway leading to the lobby, and he sighed, nevertheless rising from his seat on the bed and agreeing to join her in her trek to the front of the Center.

When they reached the counter where Nurse Joy was standing, it was to see May sitting on one of the cushioned benches, looking extremely anxious, with her vision so focused on the ground that her hair was practically matted against her eyes; and it was for good reason that she felt that way, considering Drew was standing only seven meters away, looking cool and uncaring, continuing to just stare at her. It was not the best of displays.

Misty sighed and went to sit beside the other girl, knowing that it would be more worthwhile to give her the directions to the restaurant, rather than Ash, who had yet to even show himself, and who had had five and a half years to prove just how incapable he was of taking said directions, even if they were perfectly accurate and easily understood by everyone else in the vicinity.

". . . So, as you can see, it's just a couple blocks from here, and – May? Are you listening?" Misty asked, holding up a hand in front of the Hoenn girl's face and snapping her fingers to wake her up from her reverie. It did work, and the redhead was just about to make another comment when Ash finally graced the room with his presence. . .

. . . Which was a disaster. Now, whether or not he had done that on purpose was unsure, because, well, his hair had always been unmanageable, so the comb teeth that were actually broken off and tangled into his raven locks were understandable. His attempts to clean the dirt off of his cheeks had gone horribly awry, unfortunately, as now they just looked completely red and raw. And his clothes. . . Well, the suit seemed to be a cheesy knock-off of one of Brock's things – the type of thing that the breeder would use to try and get a date – however, the bowtie was hanging loosely because he couldn't have tied it right, and the cuffs of his dress-shirt were half curled around his palm. His slacks looked as though he'd rolled them up into a ball and sat on them for a couple of hours in an attempt to make them as wrinkled as possible.

To put it simply, he looked as though he'd gone through some type of explosion.

Misty, May, Brock, Max, and Drew were not the only ones to blink and stutter at his appearance; oh, no. The entire room had gone completely silent, other than the occasional cough of embarrassment.

". . . You cannot be expecting to go out in public in that!" Misty was the first to make a statement. Ash looked up, and at first he seemed to be pleased that they were still on common speaking terms. . . and then he realized that he'd just been insulted.

"You have no right to criticize, Miss Unfashionable! I can't help it if this is my first time in almost four years where I've actually had to do something with myself like this! And, let's not forget whose fault it is that I'm even going out dressed so uptight to begin with, right?" He pointed a finger accusingly at her as she stomped up to him, looking forward to a good, old-fashioned argument. . . Unfortunately, at that statement, she lost any competitive means she may have been holding onto.

"Whatever; now c'mon. . . I've got something that I wanna say to you and May before you go. And don't worry, because I already gave her the directions, so there's no way you can get lost on the way there." She gave the most eerie smirk she could ever have managed before leading him over to the front door, and May joined the two there.

". . . Hey! I'll have you know that—"

"—There's only ten minutes until your reservation is up for grabs." Misty interrupted his retaliation, "Now, I want you two to get there, and I want you to. . . have a good time. I don't want you to think about me and Drew, or what happened yesterday. I just want you to think about being there with each other and getting along and what could possibly. . . come to fruit from that." Misty looked away and clenched her fists for the slightest of seconds before turning back to face them again. "And don't go on about how it's hopeless or that it's impossible, because we're all just teenagers; we're too young to be as serious as all of that, right? So. . . you know; get going. And have fun or face the wrath of my mallet."

"Fine," it was Ash's turn to sigh, as Misty stood aside and allowed both him and May to exit through the front door. . . Only, May wasn't moving. "Hey; what's going on? You know, I can't exactly go anywhere without you. . . My map-reading and directing skills may have improved, but that doesn't mean I'm psychic. . . I still need you to at least tell me where we're supposed to be going to."

"Huh? Oh, sorry," the Hoenn girl started awkwardly, but then she turned on her heel, uttered a quick excuse along the lines of, ". . . Be right back. . . !" And disappeared past the lobby and towards the trainers' dorms. Everyone stood there, wondering for just a moment if she'd maybe gotten cold feet at the last second, when, quite suddenly, she reappeared, and she had added the strangest garment to her overall attire.

She had the dress, she had the shoes, she had the barrette. . . However, evidently, that still wasn't enough, because now there was a large, bright orange bow tied around her neck. Maybe she was trying to make Ash look like less of a natural disaster, or maybe she actually thought it fit well with the rest of her dating costume-wear. . . When everyone gaped openly at her choice of an accessory, she didn't bat an eye, but simply continued walking outside.

"C'mon, Ash, it's this way." She pointed positively, and he followed after her in a solemn step. Misty watched them go and then, resolving herself not to get involved any further, not to stalk them, not to disgrace them with sabotage, she settled herself back down on one of the trainers' resting couches in the Sootopolis Pokemon Center lobby to await their return.


To quote an awkward Christmas card, the restaurant environment was as pretty as a picture. Ash and May were sat outside at a wrought-iron table, painted white, covered with a simple sky blue table cloth, and a large umbrella shading them from the noon-time sun. The seats were padded and comfortable, and as the two sat there, looking through the menu's they'd received from their waiter, they busied themselves with that fact, hoping to distract themselves – not to mention each other – from the dangerous waters they'd gotten entangled in.

They did not want to be there.

Well, maybe that wasn't the case. So far, the service had been pretty good, the atmosphere was brilliant, and the food smelled wonderful, even though half of the things they'd looked at so far were named in another language. . . So let's rephrase, shall we?

They did not want to be there with each other.

Fellow customers were staring at them because they looked so ridiculous in their mismatched clothes, and they felt miserable for putting themselves, one another, and their friends through everything that was currently going on. But Misty's words of advice deterred them from falling into too much of a quagmire of despair.

Ash and May had agreed to have fun. With each other. On a date.

Ash sighed; it was time to get the 'fun' started, then.

". . . So, th – that bow. . . it was a. . . a nice touch." He nodded at it in affirmation and she looked down at it, too, mildly surprised at the effort he was making to have everything go alright. However, the shock didn't last long, and May wasn't surprised that his compliment, no matter how much of a lie it obviously was, meant nothing to her.

". . . Thanks; I just felt that something was missing, you know? And then this came to mind. . ." As she replied, she couldn't help but wonder what a certain male Coordinator's opinion might have been, had they been going on aforementioned date together. . . However, there was no way she'd probably ever know now.

"May I take your order?" A young woman asked, stepping up to them and holding out a small black-folded notepad. Ash and May glanced at each other, then at their menus, and then at each other again, because, while they'd been talking, they hadn't really bothered to look over anything they might have actually wanted to eat. . . Not anything that they could understand, anyway. However, seeing as they wanted everything to be over and done with as soon as possible, they cleared their throats, skimmed the first page, and picked the first thing with a picture that looked edible.

"I'll have the Tomato Basil soup, please." May stated in the most assured tone that she could muster, considering she'd never had the stuff before.

Ash was having just a bit more difficulty, however, and so he decided to simply close his eyes and wing it; the resulting pictured item would then be his choice for lunch.

". . . Uhm, this one, I guess." He said, showing the waitress what he'd gotten stuck with and wrinkling his nose dispassionately. He was supposed to be the boy with the bottomless pit for a stomach, though, so it wasn't very fair of him to turn something down just because he couldn't recognize what it actually was. . .

"And for your drinks?" The woman asked with a quirked eyebrow, taking down the notes necessary to turn the order in. She almost seemed to be holding back a laugh as well.

"Oh, uh, a Coke for me, and. . . ?" May started, turning questioningly to Ash.

". . . I'll have the same." Ash sighed, grateful that there was at least one thing he knew of quite well. The two handed their menus over and then sat back and waited in complete silence. They didn't want to talk about anything much at all, seeing as getting too chummy with each other at this point might mean that they were becoming even more compatible by the second. . .

. . . But when it came down to it, the sheer stillness of it all was not for them, and so they attempted to bring up at least one thing to focus on until their food came out and they could get a start on eating.

"So, do you remember how we met? You know, that was kind of funny, in a twisted, repetitive sort of way. . ." Ash began awkwardly, placing a hand behind his head and scratching; a sweatdrop was added to cause affect.

"Yea, well, you're just lucky that I'm not more like Misty; otherwise I'd have followed you around at first just for the purpose of forcing you to pay me back for that bike you destroyed. . . ! Be grateful that I'm a little more forgiving than that." May allowed a small grin to follow the comment, feeling slightly more at ease now than she had before with the situation.

". . . But no one does it like her, anyway; or haven't you noticed? You're missing a tomboy costume, red hair in a unique side-ponytail, and a mallet that's. . . obviously. . . permitted State-approved upgrades." They laughed more openly as the raven-haired trainer finished his comment.

"You're just lucky that she wasn't here to hear that. . ." May added, and then moved on to another topic, "And what about when you found out that I was related to the Gym Leader of Petalburg City? And when Max and I met Brock and saw him flip out on Nurse Joy for the first time?"

"Yea, that was great; although it wasn't the first time that someone hid their family relations from me. . . And your reaction to Brock was priceless. . . ! I think, sometimes, that it would make a major-motion picture if we recorded all of the times he used one of his lines on a girl and got turned down. . . We would make millions with something like that since it holds comedy and a moral."

"Yea; the moral is 'Don't ever trust this guy with your love-life. . .'" May added, figuring that most would surely live to regret it. . . even if Brock's opinion on certain romances were obviously not so farfetched. "What about the fact that he could tell just by looking at her, that the Nurse Joy of Rustboro City had eyelashes a fourth of an inch longer than any other Joy you'd ever encountered?"

". . . What, after all this time, you still think that that's the strangest thing about him?"

There were two seconds of silence before she nodded her head.

"You've got a point."

They both lifted their glasses to make a toast to their assortment of companions, but as the straws reached their mouths, they caught each other's eye. It was at this point that they both burst into light peals of laughter, so much so that they practically tipped their drinks all over the table.

Just as they were making the joint effort to clean up the mess, their waiter arrived with the food. It was shocking, but they'd spent almost a half-an-hour simply enjoying one another's company, even through all of the anxiety that they were supposed to be feeling.

They awkwardly regained their seats and their waitress, not affording to look anything less than tolerable of their behavior, placed their orders in front of them. May's was decent enough; a creamy tomato soup sprinkled with basil spices. It was thick and steaming heavily, proving that it had just been prepared.

Ash's meal, however, was nothing as simple as that. It looked like a burrito in a way, but it was filled with some sort of weird cream, and topped with. . . Dare he even imagine it. . . ? Tomatoes, spinach, and shrimp? It looked disastrous to even attempt to eat it. . .

"Er, excuse me. . . but what is this again?" He asked, pointing at the plate in front of him and trying to sound as smart as he could, which was difficult.

The woman scrunched up her nose disapprovingly and tapped her pen irritatingly against her notepad as she replied to him, "Shrimp and spinach crepe, filled with pesto sauce. It's what you told me to order for you."

The name even horrified Ash.

The waitress proceeded to walk away and he faced his lunch again, resolving to try it before knocking it. . . However, he'd never liked spinach before that day. . . And although he loved shrimp, how could any person ever think of placing it in the same dish as spinach? It was. . .

Not able to think of an adjective horrible enough to describe it, he knelt down and smelled what he was going to be forced to eat. He was just getting ready to force the first bite into his mouth when a snort of derisive laughter sounded from across the table.

He looked up and glared; May was smirking as she playfully stirred her completely edible meal, as though hoping to get a rise out of him.

"Oh, so this is funny? How about we switch, then? Do you wanna try it?" He took his knife and fork and cut a small piece off of the end of his crepe, spearing it at the end of his utensil and prodding it in May's direction.

She half-shrieked and held up a napkin in front of her face to protect herself.

"C'mon, stop. . . !" She doubled up again and he relented, decidedly pushing his tray away from him and sighing dejectedly.

"And I was hungry, too. . . Oh, well. . . ! I guess that it's on to dessert!" He said, before May tutted.

"At least wait until I'm finished!"

". . . Oh. . . Okay. . ." He collapsed further into his chair as though wasting away and, noticing his somber demeanor, the Hoenn girl succumbed to his persona and hurriedly began sipping at her soup. After all, the sooner she was done, the sooner they could move on to the sweets. And he wasn't the only one to be looking forward to them. . .

Less than ten minutes later, they were looking through their second menu that afternoon, trying to decide what to eat to polish off their lunch.

"Oh, how about this?" Ash asked excitedly, pointing at something labeled 'Le Fromage'. The description said, 'Brie, fontina and Danish blue with assorted berries and a port sauce'. "Or this?" And then he was pointing at the 'Vanilla Crème Brulee', which was labeled with the explanation of 'Rich and creamy custard with a hint of vanilla with a caramelized sugar crust'. "And look at this thing called. . . er. . . Far ni-ine. . ." He attempted to pronounce it, failing miserably.

May sighed, although in a way, she found it rather amusing. "Or how about we just stick with what we know, huh?" She ripped the menu from his hands and returned it to the waitresses arms, and then stated clearly so that there could be no mispronunciation leading to their receiving something along the lines of whatever Ash had been stating above, "We'll have two orders of your Crème Caramel, thanks."

The waitress was gone again, and as soon as she was out of earshot, Ash bothered to ask the question that had been plaguing him for the past. . . two-point-five seconds.

"Two orders of the what?"

"Crème Caramel. It's just French vanilla custard topped with caramel sauce; it sounded normal – at least it did compared to what you wanted to get. Let's not forget the last time you tried to order something." She reminded him with a quirked eyebrow, and he grinned sheepishly.

"Oh. Right."

Overall, and they both hated to admit it to themselves, it had not been a bad afternoon together. The minutes they spent enjoying their dessert were marked with jokes shot back and forth between the two, and when they got up to leave, they decided that it would be only fair to split the check, which turned out to be fairly pricy, considering Ash hadn't touched his main course at all, except when he'd tried to force the first piece down May's throat for laughs.

The conversational walk back to the PokeCenter was light and airy, and it seemed like the perfect successor type of thing to their behavior at the restaurant – the perfect relationship. This upset their inner demeanors even more, even though they didn't voice their seemingly minor concerns to one another. How would they let the other know. . . ?

It did cross both of their minds – and they were just a little grateful for the thought – that at least no certain strangers had walked up to them and told them that they looked absolutely brilliant together; most unlike Ash and Misty, who used to get that comment all the time. . .

The PokeCenter happened to just be nearing their eyesight when something that seemed to note importance happened; and that was that May shuddered from the cool afternoon breeze.

Now, obviously, and Ash felt that he owed himself a pat on the back for this brilliant deduction, that meant that she was chilly. He cautiously weighed his choices. Clearly, piggy-backing her was out, because that had been the wrong answer last time, and she was wearing a dress. He had a feeling even suggesting anything along the lines of picking her up into his arms – (no matter what position that happened to be in) – would not bode well with her. Running the rest of the way would not have been the best option either, because she was wearing heels. Ash may have been a guy, and Brock would weep over the loss of the raven-haired Pokemon trainer's manhood for this, but he did know that it wasn't a good idea for a girl to run in heels. . . But that left only one alternative. . .

"Uh, since you're cold. . ." He started awkwardly, shouldering his dinner jacket off of his back and holding it out for her to take, ". . . here you go."

She stared for a few seconds, blinking, and then grinned gratefully before accepting it, pulling it around her shoulders and holding it in her grasp.

"Thanks, Ash."

The two continued the rest of the two hundred meters to the Center, stopping just in time so that no one sitting inside the lobby would be able to see them had they glanced outside the windows. Neither one of the two datee's looked at each other, for fear that the other might not feel the same as they did about what had happened earlier that day. . .

"So, we had fun, huh?" May asked, edging around the topic, and yet bowling straight into it at the same time. She scuffed her heel at the dirt, watching the imprint that showed there afterward as though it was the most interesting thing in the world at that moment.

"Er, yea. . . We did. Listen, May. . . about today. . ."

". . . Are you going to kiss me?" She asked suddenly.

"What?" He near-shrieked, stumbling backwards, away from her, as she looked up at him, staring into his face to see his reaction. He pointed at himself, then at her, opening his mouth and then closing it again as no words were coming out. Pinching himself on the cheek, he found his voice, ". . . Ow! I – I mean, me – kiss you? Us, kissing? Here, now? In this lifetime? May, I – I can't. . . ! I don't. . . I mean, it's not that I. . . Why are you laughing? . . . Stop laughing! This isn't funny!" He stomped his foot angrily as she let out a giggle.

"Oh, c'mon; we've already been through this, haven't we? I don't like you that way, you don't like me that way. . . This wasn't our idea; we were forced. I was just playing with your head. And see? It was fun for me." She grinned cheekily at him before removing his jacket from her shoulders and handing it back to him, "Now, I suggest you take this and that – besides tonight, because I'm sure that Misty will want to know all the details, and I'll probably be inclined to tell Drew everything, too – we never speak of this again. . . What do you say?"

". . . So, you're not gonna force me into some weird commitment?" He asked hopefully, ripping his coat from her hands and hurriedly pulling it over his arms.

"Of course not! Just because some wound-up weirdo at a mall says we've got something going on, and just because a few mild set-backs that could lead us to what we really want happen to fall through temporarily, that doesn't mean that we have to be glued together, hip-to-hip. The mall may be my sanctuary, but it is not my master, I quote-ith." May added, waving a finger in his face.

"Well then. . ." Ash cleared his throat and joined her in a joined moment of clarity, shaking her hand almost professionally, as though they'd just made a contract, ". . . it was nice dating you. I hope I never have to again."

"Here, here."

And they entered the Center.


The first thing they noticed was that everyone seemed to be in the same basic positions they'd been in when the two had left. Brock was attempting to coax Nurse Joy into a moonlit stroll around the park while Max attempted to pull him away from the counter. Unfortunately, he was failing miserably, seeing as the breeder had seen this coming and had, therefore, placed a firm grip around the countertop. Drew had taken out Roselia and was talking to him in the same corner of the lobby that he'd been in before, although what about was unsure. Misty was sitting in the same exact seat, looking almost languid, but very drearily so. . . She was obviously upset somehow, seeing as she couldn't even grasp enough strength to get up and help Max contain Brock's hormones.

"So. . . I'll take Drew, and you take Misty? And how about we do this separately, so there're no distractions?" May asked, just to be positive.

Ash cleared his throat with a confident nod and strode forward.

Because it was such a lovely day, and mid-afternoon, a lot of the trainers were keeping themselves occupied elsewhere, meaning the lobby was mostly empty, except for the poor prospects mentioned above. When Misty, Drew, Brock, and Max finally did notice that Ash and May had returned, they attempted not to look too interested in their expressions, while at the same time trying to see just how much the two were giving away.

Unfortunately, the datee's had turned inexplicitly stone-faced.

"Hey, Myst; how about we go somewhere else. . . ?" Ash asked carelessly, offering her a hand as a polite yet careless gesture, so that she still couldn't tell where he was going with this, and she was worried as she nodded her consent and followed him outside.

May headed towards the corner where Drew was sitting, and the male Coordinator called back his plant-type Pokemon unexpectedly; back at the main desk, Brock had noticed how serious things were probably going to get, and had made way for the dormitories. The younger Beech sibling's job was done, therefore, and so he disappeared to some anonymous place as well.

May said nothing as she sat down beside Drew, and Drew didn't comment on anything either. After all, he didn't want to grace her with the knowledge that he was curious about the events that had taken place between her and Ash, and she didn't want to give anything away until he was at least inclined to admit something to her, no matter how small. . . And so, for a quarter of an hour, the two just sat there beside each other, not saying a thing. . . Just waiting for the other to crack. . .

Until. . .

"Oh, c'mon already! This isn't even worth eavesdropping on anymore!" Brock's shout echoed from beyond the threshold to the trainer's dorm hallway, and although a certain part of her wanted to run back there and kick him swiftly and silently for good measure, May held herself back and gave in to the fact that if she and Drew didn't start the conversation now, they probably never would.

"So. . ." May started awkwardly, coming to the vast conclusion that she was starting to hate both that word and the range of emotions that seemed to float alongside it. "I just came back. . . from the date with Ash. . ." She continued oh-so obviously, but it wasn't to get a rise out of him. She sincerely wasn't sure he'd even bothered to remember, or notice when she left before. "And I won't lie to you; it went really well, Drew."

He raised his eyebrow at her, as though asking her whether he should even care at all. "And why are you telling me this? If it went so great, then you should continue moving along, enjoying that wonderful, destined life you've got going for you. It's not like we need any sort of closure or anything; it's not like I liked you, or that we had anything going on."

Okay; his attitude was getting highly irritating, and May wasn't going to waste time wondering if she should bother telling him how she felt about it.

"Fine; okay! I get it! Maybe you don't like me! It's not my place to say whether or not you do! But at least hear me out. . . !" She sighed, almost in relief, when the male Coordinator looked her in the eye, and she knew that she'd finally gotten his attention. ". . . That date – it was great! – but it wasn't what I wanted either way! Ash and I. . . While we were out, we joked around, we had fun, we enjoyed ourselves. . . But those are the exact same types of things we could do as friends, and we have and always will be comfortable with the relationship we've had up until now! So now the experiment is over and we know for sure. . . Yea, Ash and I would probably live out our lives in blissful harmony. . . and then we'd probably die from never living.

"So let me give this another go. . ." She sighed again, cleared her throat, and started in the strongest tone she could muster, "I don't like Ash. I. Like. You. I don't know why, or how, or when, or any of those details, but I don't think it matters. . . And I won't try and make this decision for you, because – obviously – that was the wrong thing to do last time, too, wasn't it? But I'll just let you know now, and then you can have your time to mull everything over, in case that's what you need to do."

She reached her feet in the most gracious way that she could, only managing to take one step, before Drew managed to utter one word – one murmured word that she almost missed hearing. . . but she did catch it.

". . . Sorry."

"What was that?" Oh, and now she was smirking. She'd caught him now; he was hers. There was definitely no escaping. . .

"Your brother said that I made you cry this morning, and since I'm such an ever-dashing gentleman – no matter how much of a rival I may be – I still owe you an apology for that, if it was really my fault. So, I'm sorry."

"Oh, okay. . . Thanks. That means a lot to me." She grinned gratefully at him as she regained her seat once again, but this motion was just in time for him to get up, deciding that the deed was done, and he could now make his escape before embarrassing himself any further, or managing to voice anymore thoughtless confessions. "Hey, wait. . . Where are you going. . . ?"

"Oh, I don't know. . . Maybe to train my Pokemon for real this time. . . or maybe to have a chat with that strange, blind-as-a-bat, older friend of yours who's been watching us for the past half-an-hour." Drew shrugged carelessly with a confident expression on his face as he made his way steadily towards the trainer's dorms. He was just about to make a clean break when May realized that something was missing.

"Hold it!" She called out to him suddenly, and he screeched to a halt and reeled around to face her again. She was on her feet in an instant and standing before him in the next, holding out her hand expectantly, "Okay, Drew, don't think you can get away with it. . . Where's my rose?"

"Your. . . ? O-kay. . ." He finished brokenly, spun around on the spot, then, the next thing May knew, there was a rose in his hand. He held it out for her to take, and she accepted it charmingly.

"Oh, very smooth." She smiled at him and held the bud close to her.

"I try." Drew shrugged again, smirking in an assured sort of way. "And since we're almost finished this little exchange, let me just add in a word of advice."

"Er, and what is that. . . ?" She blinked confusedly.

"It's a nice look for you; the dress especially. . ."

Her eyes widened. After all, she'd never known Drew could give a compliment before that time. . .

". . . But, next time, lose the bow."

And then the moment was over.

Meanwhile, outside of the PokeCenter, Ash and Misty had walked halfway across town, entering a very commonly known territory for them at this point in time. And as the redhead became more aware of that fact with every step she took, she also became more and more tentative about the discussion that she thought was going to be taking place. . .

"Well, this is eerily familiar," Misty noted, observing the fact that Ash had led her to the very same area that – just the day before – she'd sat him down at and coaxed him into going out with May. What were the chances that now, the very same bench would be used to finalize the breaking of her heart?

How very ironic. . . Though, she had brought it upon herself.

"So, how'd it go?" She started solemnly, eyeing him cautiously for any symptoms that might give away the detail that he was uncomfortable.

"Actually, you must be pleased to know. . . it went really well." He sounded totally unashamed and nonchalant as he replied, collapsing next to her as though thoroughly exhausted from the overly enjoyable afternoon he'd had. Not even able to imagine what could have happened between the two of them, Misty could only feel the discomfort well up within her – the grief, the pain – as she clasped her hands tightly in her lap, already knowing full-well what was coming next.

". . . I suppose that you've finally got your answer, at least." Ash sighed, and then grinned, ruffling his hair, bowling straight into the topic at hand, "So will you please get over it now so that we can move on?"


"What did you expect to happen? When you first got here, you told me yourself that you already knew how much better May and I got along compared to you and I. . . ! Of course things were naturally going to go better! But that really has nothing to do with the fact that we have some unseen, mysterious interest in each other. There really is no hidden agenda between us. Today. . . well. . . it just verified what we'd always assumed. When we got to the restaurant, we were not having any fun at all. . . but I paid attention to what you said, and I started up a conversation with her. . . and before I knew it, May and I were laughing just like we always do. Do you get it?"

". . . Not really. . ."

"We were laughing just like we always do. Why should we have to change a thing? Especially if we don't want to. . . That's just pointless. You and I; we're more complicated. We started out rocky, then we grew to be the best of friends, even though we can still sometimes get a little hasty with each other, and then it changed again. . . whatever there was between us. It's not so unnatural."

Misty blinked, staring at Ash as if seeing him in a whole new light. Inching her hand along her thigh, she leant across the few inches of bench between them and pinched his arm.

"Ow. . . ! Hey; what was that for?"

"Well, I guess neither of us is dreaming."

". . . No. . ." He growled aggravatedly, rubbing tenderly at his reddening flesh. "You do know that, for things like that, you're supposed to pinch yourself, right?"

"Yea, but I also wanted to make sure that you were in your right mind. . . Most people who aren't usually lose most of their senses, like sight, smell, and touch. . . but I guess you're okay after all. Huh; who knew you had it in you to be so smart?"

"You know, I'd be insulted right now, if I wasn't so pleased by the fact that that must mean you finally believe me over anything else."

"I guess I do." They grinned at each other.

"So. . ." Ash started, swallowing nervously and leaning forward a bit, staring into her eyes, ". . . I think this is the part where we're supposed to become utterly cliché and school-girl-giddy and everything and share our first kiss. . ."

". . . I think so, too. . ." Misty agreed, and he was well-aware of the fact that she was leaning in as well. . .

. . . They were almost there when there was the sudden sound of someone thudding and moaning as they hit the ground, the crash of some type of expensive technological device, and Ash and Misty, in retaliation to the commotion, ended up bashing there foreheads together.

". . . OW!" They groaned in unison, massaging at their faces, not even gaining the chance to look around for the source of the disorder.

"That's it! I'm done. . . !" Ash continued, pointing at Misty immaturely, "You girls are nothing but trouble! I mean, first it's mallets, then it's poisonous cooking, then it's evil, conniving schemes of setting me up with other girls, and then pinching, and now this. . . ! I can't take it anymore!"

"Excuse me?"

"Oh, don't act like you don't know what I mean. . . ! I'm talking about the—"

"—Oh, man, it's ruined! The video camera's completely destroyed! Brock's gonna kill me!"

Ash and Misty blinked, staring awkwardly at each other for two-point-five seconds before they both caught on rapidly to the statement that had just been spoken.

"Did you just say you recorded us?" They asked one another at the same time in an irritable tone, "Of course not! How could I when I was with you?" They continued exasperatedly, "Really? Then, who was it?" They finished in complete synchronization.

It was at that point that they both turned to see Max attempting to raise himself to his feet with a very battered video/audio gadget in his hands in his haste to make a swift escape.

"It's Max!" Ash said, while Misty took a more physical approach, grabbing the younger Beech sibling by the collar of his shirt to keep him from getting away.

"Okay, just what did you think you were doing. . . ? And give me that! It's clearly evidence that we can use to. . . prosecute. . . you." She glared evilly as she nabbed the recorder from his hands and threw it into Ash's, who just managed to stumble across it before it landed on the ground again.

"Ack. . . ! No! It was all Brock's idea!"

". . . Brock? Why would Brock do this? Er, why would he make you do this?" Ash asked. "Is there some bet going on or something?"

". . . Well, you see. . ." Max sighed when Misty tightened her grip on the back of his shirt, proving her intent on not allowing him any chance of fleeing, ". . . There's this thing he's got going on. . . It's – it's not really a bet. . . because everyone knew that it would happen – you know what I mean – you two getting together. . . but everyone wanted to actually see it. . . So Brock offered videotaped proof. . . for a price." And then Max went frantic, ". . . And now it's all ruined. . . !"

"And you'd better be thankful that it is!" Misty shouted, placing him on the ground as softly as she could, but poking him in the back of the head for good measure so that he knew that he'd better be on his way before she changed her mind. "And you tell Brock when you see him that he'd better watch himself!" She shrieked as Max took off towards the PokeCenter.

She sniffed irritably as Ash walked up beside her and placed his free arm around her shoulder, the other still clasping the damaged video recorder.

"What's wrong?" He asked, worried that she might actually be upset about something.

". . . I don't know, actually. . . I mean, I guess I just never thought that our first almost-kiss would be ruined by something so. . . idiotic. . ."

"Huh; I guess you've got a point." Ash glanced at the recorder in such a way that it clearly stated he wasn't pleased. "Still, how much more proof do you need? Half of the shipping world was ready and willing to pay to see our first inclination of a relationship. . . ! They knew it was going to happen someday! I don't think it's right for you to doubt it if half the world is finding it perfectly within the confines of reality that 'we' can happen."

"Yea, I guess. . . You know, Brock was telling me earlier today that I should try and be a little be more selfish when it came down to my feelings for you. . ." She grinned and held him close, evidently forgetting all about the argument they'd been half-in the middle of before Max had stepped into the picture, ". . . I think I might just give that a shot."

And then, before they knew it, the next day had come and begun to pass. Drew was on his way again, and Misty had decided to stick around, at least for a few days – or weeks – until whenever her sisters threw a fit and called her to ask for her assistance (or threatened to start handing out badges to passing trainers; whichever came first).

Ash and May weren't worried, it seemed, about the possibility of their 'long-distance relationships' although, technically, May wasn't in a relationship at all as of yet. But the fact that they weren't worried showed a growth yet to be seen in most modern teenagers. . . or a naivety yet to develop from.

Before everyone was to 'set sail' for the next destination, Ash asked to take a personal detour, and requested that everyone wait for him at the PokeCenter for a few extra minutes while he make a little special delivery.

The thing was, earlier that day, he'd requested that everyone get together for a sort of. . . group picture. May, Misty, Brock, Max, and even Drew had consented, and Ash had asked Nurse Joy to take the shot so that he could take place in it, too. . . and then he'd returned to the room that he and Misty had destroyed to write a short letter. (He had talked to Joy about that, too, and they'd agreed on a payment plan).

He went to the postal office and requested that it be delivered to the booth of the Sootopolis seer at the local shopping center by that evening, and paid them the required price, seeing as there was no fixed address, and he and his friends would be leaving town by that time. The ordeal was left at that.

The seer was in the middle of one of her grand fortunes when the slightly nettled and, in her eyes, meddling delivery man arrived with a small envelope addressed simply to 'The Sootopolis Seer'. Huh; that had a nice ring to it. . . Either way, she signed for it, thanked the man, finished her fortune, and took a five minute break so that she could see what the message said.

Cautiously ripping open the envelope, she caught sight of the photograph first. It was a beautiful shot of the entire group, although, as anyone might have guessed, she obviously didn't approve of the seating arrangements. Ash and Misty were locking arms, and May was still holding dear the rose that Drew had given her the evening before. Although not letting on to much consciously, other than the fact that he was standing next to her in a cool sort of way – his hands in his pockets –the male Coordinator was slightly red in the face, having noticed also that she was still carrying that little item around. Max and Brock were neutral, in the center, Max in the front since he was smaller, and Brock, in the back. . . looking horribly crippled. . .

It seemed that Misty had succeeded in beating the crap out of him for that whole tape-recording incident.

Discarding of the photo, the seer returned to the envelope. Obviously, there had to be more than just that; right?

. . . And, indeed, there was, but it wasn't much; only the shortest of notes, written in Ash's rapid, messy scrawl, because he'd been in such a rush to send it out to her.

"You were wrong."


Notes – Okay; first of all, I've got a couple of apologies for you all.

1.) I'm sorry that it took a little while longer to update this time around. . . although, at least now you know it's finished. YAY!

2.) I'm also sorry about the extreme length this time around. I didn't mean to do it, but once I got started, and I reached the middle of Ash and May's date. . . I realized that it was kinda getting to be a bit crazy. . . I just didn't want to go back on my word about this being the last part, though. So I hope you're all okay with this. Sorry, again.

Moving on, and second of all, let's see. . . uh. . . Thanks to all of you who've reviewed this! I've got to admit, when I first started out, I was kind of scared! I mean, I was only getting nine reviews per chapter. . . but then, by chapter three, I started getting more. . . and then more. . . So I'm back in my comfort zone now. In fact, I'm sincerely hoping that, with this final update, I can crack one hundred reviews! Do you all think you can help me reach that goal? I mean, it's only – what? – fourteen reviews? C'mon; you all can do that. . .

Anyway, next topic. . . (I'm on a roll, aren't I?) I don't really know what to do with myself now. I'm thinking that I could start a new, shorter, fic. I've got this one AAMR-centered two-shot in my head that is already half-written. . . and I've also got this other one that's going to be four or five chapters long (short chapters; nothing like this), but it's going to include some one-sided Advanceshipping for most of the fic. Believe me, though; it has a purpose. My crazy idea's that I don't have any beliefs in always end up having a purpose. Besides, it ends up Pokeshippy. Although, May ends up being with Gary. That's the other catch. Lol; sorry. . .

The other thing I could do is not write a new ficcie up and just try to start updating things that I have up already, like Illicit Saints and The Strangest Kind of Love. I've got 13,500 words on the next chapter of IS typed up already, but I'm kind of stuck on a certain part there. . . However, with the proper incentive (possibly meaning more time to work on it), I could have that ready to post in a couple of weeks. I also have a couple thousand words on the next chapter of SKoL. The problem I have with that is quite simple, actually. . . and that's the housewarming party. I've never thrown one, never been to one. . . so I don't really know how I'd ever describe one. . . I can write out the humor of it. . . (Ash stealing the pigs-in-the-blanket platter) but other than that. . .

Anyway, please let me know in your review, for those of you who have an opinion! And for those who didn't know, SKoL does have Contestshipping in it! In fact, just wait until chapter ten! You'll find some major spoilage / hintage in that one:D

Anyway, thanks for reading and – pretty please – just grace me with a few last reviews this time around?