Chapter 12: Fight For The Heart

Both Ash and Anabel woke up at the same time in the lodge. The two of them yawned simotaniously as they went around doing their usual morning chores. Ash would cook breakfast while Anabel fed the Pokemons. After that, Ash would set up the table while Anabel clean up the Pokemon's nests. The two of them have been doing this routine for so long that it was already automatically before they even knew what they were doing.

By the time all the morning chores were done, they both sat on the table and began chowing down on some well earned food. Anabel was surprised how good Ash's cooking had become. At first she had her doubts that the boy his age would actually know how to cook, but after tasting his dishes now, she actually believe that the kid could work at a five star restaurant. "This is great Ash" she complimented the meal, "What is it?" Ash grew out a smile, "Just some old Kanto delicacy. I call it…… Salted Bean Soup" they both let out a small chuckle.

Suddenly, Anabel's phone began to ring. "Hello?" she answered, "Oh hey… how's everything going? (phone gibberish) WHAT?! But I thought I had those things signed last week (phone gibberish) Yes… ok ok… I understand…… I'll be there in awhile" she quickly hung up and lowered her head with an annoyed sad sigh.

"Something wrong?" Ash asked her. "Huh? Oh it's just my assistant" Anabel replied, "He lost the files he was supposed to pass this morning and now I have to go back and do the whole thing all over again" but then Ash offered, "I could help you if you want" but Anabel declined, "That's ok Ash. It's all just complicated signings and all. Hey I got an idea! Why don't you go to town for awhile? I bet there are a lot of things you haven't seen in Celadon city"

Ash wanted to decline but after a little look from his Pikachu, he had to submit. "Ok sure… why not?" he said cheerfully. "Great!" Anabel replied, "I'll give you one of my spare keys for the house. Don't lose it ok?" with a nod from the two, they immediately split up and went straight to their respective business.

(In Celadon city downtown district)

Ash walked around in town with his winter coat to keep him from the colds. He now wore a scarf that was long that it reached his elbow, some cute mittens, and a pair of brown boots. "Where do you want to go first Pikachu? (Pikachu!)" his little yellow friend stood on his head like a head piece that didn't want to go away. And after a few minutes of looking around, Pikachu pointed to a small convenience store that had several ketchup bottles on display. Ash would've laughed if he wanted too, but he only cracked out a chuckle, "Sorry Pikachu, but I think you had enough ketchup for one week hehehehe"

But just when they were about to head in to another shop, a sudden scream caught their attention, "He stole my purse!" yelled a woman. The crook that stole the purse was probably a late teen doing a daring act so that he could be in Santa's naughty list. "Somebody stop him!" the woman cried.

While Ash was just standing there oblivious to what was happening, the crook was suddenly heading his way with great speed. "Oh boy… not again" he muttered before pulling out his arm for a little stretch. Since the crook was so busy running for dear life, he didn't even see Ash's punch as it laid right in front of his face. WHAM! The crook got a broken nose and slammed right to the ground with a defining 'thunk' sound. With the crook unconscious, officer Jenny had no problem in capturing the idiot who dared break the law. "Thank you citizen" she saluted to Ash before throwing the crook to the other officers. "No problem" Ash replied lazily.

"Alright boys, take him to the station" yelled Jenny. With a defining salute from the other two officers, the car drove off disappearing into a corner. Taking the liberty of doing a good deed, Ash picked up the purse that the crook stole and gave it back to the owner with a smile on his face. "Here you go miss" the woman thanked him in six languages and hastily moved away to go on with her business.

"Pika pika pikachu!" (You should've let me shock him!) yelled Pikachu as he gave out several static from his cheeks. Ash gave out a weak laugh before moving on with his little furry friend. But before they were able to take three steps away from the crook scene, a large man with muscles built upon muscles stood in front of him like a tower looming over the boy. "Wahhh!" Ash yelped and fell to the ground as he tried to look at the man's face. "C…c… can I help you?" he asked frighteningly.

The man gave out a scowl which reached to the bottom of his chin, his eyes were as sharp and knives and his punches looked like they could knock a building down with just one hit. When the man looked closer at the boy, his frightening scowl turned into a cheery smile, "That was a good move kid" he said suddenly which caught the boy unprepared. "Where did you learn a move like that?"

"Huh?" Ash tilted his head in confusion to the man's unusual rambling. "Huh? Oh sorry, where are my manners nowadays. My name's Melvin. I own the gym just right across the Pokemon center" he handed Ash a call card, "You should come by sometime. If you're interested, I'll even give you a discount in using our facilities"

Then suddenly, the guy's name ring a though in Ash's head, "Melvin?" he said quietly, "Hey, are you Greta's cousin by any chance?" the man gave out a 'what' look, "Huh? You know Greta?" Ash flashed out a small smile, "Of course! She told me that she sent me to try out for your gym" Melvin simply let out a laugh, "Well I guess that changes everything then. Come on, I'll show you around the place!" Ash was going refuse at first, but then Melvin pulled his hand and dragged him all the way through the city with Pikachu still on his head before he could even speak.

(Back in Pallet town)

Gary had just finished packing up and locking the door to his house with defining click sound. He was now prepared to go on to another adventure. "Come on Umbreon, we got a lot of road to go through and we wouldn't want to miss the ferry now" he gestured to his black cat as it quickly leaped towards its master's side.

Just as they were crossing through professor Oak's house, Gary must've felt like he was shocked by one of Ash's Pikachu's thunder shock on the sight he was seeing. The professor himself was sweeping outside the house and from the looks of his eyes, it seems like the old man didn't get much sleep last night. Usually Gary would see Delia sweeping the dirt outside the house, but of all people, it had to be his old grandpa. Not taking the man into consideration, the boy quickened his pace slightly just so that he could avoid contact with that man.

"Gary?" but in the end, Samuel just had to call his name. "You're up pretty early today" Gary would've ignored the man and continued walking down the road, but something told him that he should stay and listen for awhile. "I'm going to Hoenn…" he said plainly, not even taking a look at his grand father, "I'll see you in a couple of weeks gramps" just before he could take another step forward, Samuel spoke up, "Oh wait Gary" the boy was now regretting on stopping on his tracks. "Delia told me that you were going to Varidian city today so she wanted to ask you if you can bring this to the Pokemon center there" the professor gestured to a small package of medicines.

"Fine…" Gary was more than happy to do a favor for his grandma in law. He quickly took the package and stuffed it into his rug sack which made it look a bit bulkier. With nothing left to say, Gary turned around and continued down the road to Varidian city. "Gary?" the professor called out which was now irritating the boy, "What's wrong? Don't I get a farewell hugs anymore?" he said cheerfully.

A short silence loomed the two of them as a cloud hovered over the house, blocking the sun's ray with its cotton like body. Gary always gave his old man a hug before he goes onto each adventure. But after he heard what happened, he felt disgusted to even think of being related to such a man.

"Why grandpa…?" he said finally. The professor gave a 'hmm' sound which sounded like a question rather than a statement, "Why did you do it? Can you tell me?"

"What are you talking about Gary?" asked the professor. Gary simply sighed as the anger in him grows steadily under control, "Why are you still with Ash's mom?" Samuel stiffened slightly as Gary had never asked him that before. "When I started on my journey gramps… I always admired you every step of the way. You were my role model… my hero" he raised his voice slightly on the last part, "When I was younger…… I always wanted to be just like you" he gazed back at his grandfather with eyes as cold as the dead, "But now…… when I look at you…… I just feel……" he wanted to tear the man into pieces with what he was going to say next. But Gary knew that it would only make things harder for Ash. "No… forget it…… see you later grandpa…" and with that, he left the scene, leaving behind a slightly saddened professor.

(Celadon city workout gym)

Melvin had dragged Ash halfway across the city with speed faster than a Arcanine. By the time they got there, Ash was practically worn out. "Well… here we are!" said Melvin with a cheery smile, "Welcome to the Silicas gym!" he pointed to the wide sign on top which was misspelled as Silicon rather than Silicas. "Ahehehehe… sorry about the sign, I was planning to have that thing fixed today"

When Ash went into the gym, he was actually surprised how different it was than he expected. Usually the gym would have a lot of workout gears and plenty of people lifting heavy weights, but the gym looked more like a dojo rather than a workout gym. There was an old traditional eastern style battle ring at the center and a lot of old fashion workout tools. And the other thing was noticeable…… was that the gym was empty. There wasn't a soul in sight except for Ash and Melvin and the janitor who was sweeping the floor of all the old dust the place was gathering.

"Um… no offense Melvin, but where is everybody?" Ash asked thinking that the place was still not yet open for the day. But Melvin had to ruin the moment, "We are everybody" he said cheerfully which made the boy face faulted to the floor. "WHAT!?" he yelled at him, "Than why did you bring me here in the first place?!" Melvin waved his hand defensively as he gave out a small sweat drop on his forehead, "Hey, easy there. Don't worry, this place will be full before you even know it" just when he finished his sentence, the door bell (as in a real bell not one of those techno bells) rang. "Oh here she is" Melvin said as he jerked himself towards the door.

"Hey there Melvin" said Greta in her usual tone. "Hey there Greta, you're here early. Good!" the two cousins laughed at each other until Greta spotted a familiar boy behind him, "Hmm?" the moment she noticed it was Ash, she jolted right to him, "Ash?! Is that you?"

"Hey there Greta (pika pika!)" greeted Ash with his Pikachu, "I'm glad you took my offer after all" the black belt replied with a smile on her face. "So are you here to work out? Or do you want to have a little match competition?"

"Match competition?" Ash said confused. Melvin then came by to explain what she meant, "Yeah, usually once a week when Greta is here, we usually hold a match competition with the customers. The winner gets the pot money and a two week free usage of our facility" Ash gave out an 'oh' sound which meant that he understood…… at least he understood some part of it.

"Well I'm off to open up. You'd better get ready Greta" the Arena Tycoon mistress gave out a nod and slung her bag to the sides.

A few minutes after Melvin put the open sign up, a flood of men and women came rushing through the door like a horde o Tauros. "Whoa!!!" Ash jolted away from the crowd as they surrounded Greta with pen and papers on hand.

"Greta, spar with me!" said one

"No! Greta, spar with me!" said another, "Greta, are you free this afternoon?"

"Greta, can I have your autograph?!" a whole crowd of masculine men were asking the girl out as if she was some sort of celebrity.

Ash was barely able to crawl out of the mass hunk of irons as he finally made it to the counter where Melvin was grinning happily. "What's with all of them?" Ash asked, "Huh? Oh you mean Greta? Well as you can see, she's kind of popular around here with everyone. A lot of people tried to ask her out but as you can see… she's only interested in strong men"

"So she must have a lot of fans huh?" Ash giggled slightly along with his half squished Pikachu. "Not really" Melvin replied, "That's why a lot of people here are trying to get stronger so that they could have a chance with her"

Just when Melvin was still explaining the rough details to the boy, a bunch of girls about Greta's age rushed through the front door all in black belts. "Greta!" said the leader of the gang. "I demand a rematch this instance!" the entire crowd quickly silenced as Greta gave out a smirk.

Ash gave out another confused face which Melvin decided to clean up, "That's Paulina, Greta's arch rival. She comes here every time visits and demands a fight with her" Melvin explained. Paulina had red hair that stretched into towards her shoulder and branded into a small ponytail. She as physically fit just like Greta, but looked as if she just joined the army boot camp. She wore a red battle robe garment and traditional sandals which looked pretty matching for her attitude.

"She must be very good then" Ash inquired which the man only giggled in reply, "Not really. The girl can't even lay a finger on Greta. This battle will be over before you know it"

It was then, Greta grew out a smirk, "I accept your challenge!" and before Ash knew it, the two girls were already on the ring preparing to duel it out to the finish.

"Watch this…" Melvin said to Ash, "She'll finish her off with three moves" the whole crowd surrounded the battlefield with great anticipation. Some were already making bets on who would win and who would lose. Some thought that Greta would win again for sure but then the others thought that this might be the day that Paulina completes her revenge.

"Hey Melvin!" Greta called out, "Do you mind being the referee for this match?" the man gave out a smile and quickly got onto the ring with two flags on his hands. "This is a match between Arena Tycoon Greta and the challenger Paulina! The first one who falls to the ground in any way but their feet or goes out of the ring is considered the defeated. Fighters, are you ready?" Melvin looked at both sides as they give out their nod.

Greta's face consisted of a smirk and a calm look that could really piss you off, but Paulina's face consisted of nothing but pure anger and rivalry. This made Ash remember the times about him and Gary when they were still kids.

"BEGIN!" the crowd began to cheer almost instantly after the flag went down signaling the beginning of the match. Paulina charged out first using her fists and legs as her main assortment of weapons. But Greta, who was a master of many martial arts, dodged them skillfully like a true professional. The first kick that Paulina gave was ducked. The second move the red head made was a side punch which Greta blocked quite easily. The third move that Paulina made was another punch that was meant to get the girl off guard.

"Gotcha!" Paulina said as she reached out for Greta's black battle robes. But that was her biggest mistake of all. Greta knew that the girl would rush things and make her fall fast before she could counter, so instead of dodging it, she decided to attack a punch on shoulder (ouch!) then a jab on the stomach (ooofff!) and when the red head was off balance, Greta pulled HER robes and tossed her out of the ring with one good whooze!

BAM! Paulina's butt met against the hard wooden floor making her groan in pain. Seeing that victory was certain, Melvin waved up the flag, "Paulina I out of the ring! The victory goes to Greta!" half the crowd yelled, "YES I'm rich!" while the other half said, ""NO I lost all my money!"

When Paulina's gang went to pick up their boss, the red head shrugged them away, "I want another rematch!" she demanded which was only returned with an annoyed glare by the Arena Tycoon mistress, "Again?" she said, "May be some other time Paulina, when you get better" she then turned to the crowd, "Alright, who here wants to spar with me? Come on raise your hands!" everyone in the room began raising their hands and saying something intelligible.

"Wow…" was all that Ash could say when he saw the match.

"Pretty impressive huh?" said Melvin with a grin. He was holding a large amount of money on his hand flapping them to make them look like a fan. "Yeah…" Ash replied still a bit awed by the fight, "I can't believe how strong she really is" Melvin laughed, "You got that right kid! There's not a man on earth that could possibly take on the Arena Tycoon!" he slapped Ash's back forgetting his own strength making the boy fall onto the arena.

Greta noticed this and immediately pointed his finger at him, "Ah it looks like we have ourselves a volunteer!" she smirked, "Come on Ash, let's see how strong you really are"

The boy quickly panicked and waved his hand refusingly, "Huh wait! No, I uh… I don't I can…!" but Greta only gave him a confused look, "Oh… you're right!" she jolted, "You can't fight in those clothes. Melvin!" she turned to her cousin, "Can you suit him up for me?" the man gave out a smile and nodded his head. Ash began to sweat drop like bullets as his face paled like a piece of paper. The next thing the boy knew, he was being dragged by Melvin to the changing room.

"Alright kid, there should be some spare battle robes at the back. You can try them on and meet me back on the field in ten minutes. Come on chop chop!" Melvin slammed the door behind him and quickly began making another set of bets.

Ash sighed in defeat along with his Pikachu. He didn't even get a chance to write his 'will' nor get his health insurance or something like that. At least then his death would have some meaning. "Well… I guess we don't have much of a choice Pikachu (pikapi…)" he then began rushing through cabinets to see which one would fit him. Surprisingly for Ash, all the battle garbs there were just either too big or WAY too big for him. The kid could barely fit in the smallest size they had to offer.

But then, something caught his eyes. A black and white battle garb similar to Greta's except that it was meant for a man rather that a girl. It was hanging oddly at the back of the room hidden behind several piles of other clothes. Seeing that it was the only suitable thing to wear, Ash quickly changed into the battle garb and prepared himself for a fight of his life.

The only question now is: How many bones is he gonna break when he gets out of there?

By the time he came out, Greta couldn't help but hold a chuckle in her throat. She knew that the boy would have to pick that battle garb since it was the only size that would fit him. "Hey kid, you looking pretty good" said Melvin as he slapped Ash's back even harder than before. He then turned up to whisper to the boy's ear, "Alright listen up. If you break more than ten bones in your body, you get a discount in the central hospital" Ash gave out a sweat drop as the guy wasn't much of a supporter to him. "Thanks a lot Melvin" the boy replied irritatingly.

As Ash walked into the ring, Melvin hastily pocketed his cash prize and prepared to referee the next battle. "Alright everyone quiet down quiet down!" he gestured to the crowd which silenced them immediately, "This is the second match of the day. With the Arena Tycoon mistress Greta and……" he looked at the boy puzzlingly, "Uh… that reminds me, I never got your name kid" Ash face faulted along with his Pikachu. "It's Ash!" the boy replied annoyed beyond all reasons, "Hehehehehe… And the new kid Ash!" with his flagged raised, both contestant got into their battle stances. "The rules are same as before. If you fall on the ground or step out of the ring, you are considered defeated"

"Fighters… are you ready?!" Melvin remarked as he looked at both of them. Greta still retained her usual smirk and calm face, but Ash contained something that no fighter has seen before. His face was… calm… collective and yet at the same time it showed some signs of determination. It scared Melvin a little bit, but he knew that Greta would win for sure.

On the side line near the benches, Paulina was sitting with an annoyed look on her face surrounded by her female gang. She wanted Greta to end the fight quickly so that she could have rematch again soon.

"BEGIN!" Melvin waved the flag and quickly backed away as the killing intent grew larger by the moment. Surprisingly for everyone, Ash didn't charge at all. He just stood there with an expressionless face imprinted on him.

Greta's frown disappeared as ten seconds passed by with no movement at all. She was patient enough to wait for the challenger to attack first but now that Ash didn't attack her immediately, she was growing a bit impatient. Taking his strength into consideration, the blonde black belter charged up and lodged a fist to the boy, which he skillfully dodged out of the with only two steps.

Greta saw this and began dishing out punches and kicks in a rapid speed. But Ash was not one who would fall so easily. With his lightning fast reflexes, he was able to dodge them without touching Greta even once. Everyone's jaws dropped to the ground as they saw how their role model was having a hard time taking Ash down. Paulina noticed the match and immediately became intrigued with the fight.

With Ash dodging and avoiding all physical contacts with the blonde martial artist master, he discovered all of her flaws and weaknesses that Greta had in her form. Just by observing her movement, Ash could see that her most fatal mistake was her synchronization. Her attacks and speed becomes uneven after the first few rounds. When her jabs go up, her speed slows, making her legs vulnerable to a swiping move, and when her legs pulls in, her torso becomes a heartbreaking target for anyone who could see through speed.

When Ash finally had enough, he caught Greta's feet as it nearly struck against his head. Both the blonde fighter and the crowd gasped as Greta became temporarily defenseless. Ash saw this and began counterattacking her with jabs of his own. His speed and rhythm of battle flowed freely like he dancing to an invisible beat of a silent music. It was then Greta noticed that the boy was humming his favorite Pokemon theme song. Unable to cope with the music, Greta faltered back, withdrawing with every punch the boy gave out. It was like he could read her every movement or something like that.

Just when Ash saw a clear opening, he grabbed Greta's battle garb by the collar and began his overhead toss. But just when victory was about to become his, the pain on his ankle that he got from saving a child yesterday shot back, making him lose balance, thus making them both fall on each other. Greta fell first and on top of her was Ash.

Paulina's eyes widened considerably as she just witness a tie between her arch rival and the new kid. Melvin couldn't believe it either. Her cousin, known to be the undefeatable champion Arena Tycoon was tied with a kid probably two years younger than her. "Uh ah…"

"Are you alright Greta" Ash asked still suffering from the pain on his ankle. The blonde black belt blushed in a slight color of pink as the boy's face was so close to hers. "Uh… yeah… I'm fine" she replied shyly. Their bodies were pressed along each other making them look like they were in a love making position. But after taking their position into consideration, Ash moved away from the girl and shoved himself into a sitting stance. "Ahhhhccckk!" he held his ankle as it shot out another jolt of pain into his feet.

Greta noticed this and quickly got to him, "Ash, are you hurt?" she asked worryingly, "Huh? Oh no its nothing. I hurt my ankle yesterday I tripped hehehe ackk!" he clenched his ankle even tighter as it continued to ache. "Come on, I'll bring you to the Pokemon center. They'll patch up" Greta slung Ash's hand onto her shoulder and hastily made her way towards the Pokemon center across the street leaving behind an annoyed but yet amazed Paulina and a poor Melvin who lost all of his money.

(The Battle Tower)

Anabel had just finished signing all the papers her assistant lost a couple of hours ago. Since she still had a lot more work to do, she could only stare outside her window and think what Ash could be doing right now. She imagined him cooking dinner when she returned. Whenever he cooks, it would always be something new or something different than before. And every time she tasted it, she would enjoy the flavor ten times over and over again.

"Anabel?" her assistant called out, "Some files from the head office just arrived ma'am" the Salon Battle Maiden sighed in defeat.

This was gonna be a long afternoon…

(Back in Celadon city Pokemon center)

Nurse Joy had just finished in treating Ash's bad ankle with some fresh band-aids. Although the won't be moving around properly for awhile, it hell beats up being cooped up in a house all day long. "There you go Ash. Good as new" said the pink haired nurse as she did her usual check up, "All you need is a lot of rest and your ankle will be back in mint condition" when Nurse Joy left the young boy alone with Greta, the girl gave out a deep blush as she couldn't stand to look at his face.

"Well, it looks like I won't be going around much" said Ash as he limped slowly towards the door. When Greta saw how he was walking, she quickly offered her hand to rush him out of the Pokemon center.

They both arrived in the lobby taking a seat on separate couches. "Thanks Greta" Ash appreciated her help as he made himself comfortable. "I guess I must've overdid it with that last throw huh?" the blonde simply smiled back with her reply, "You should've told me that you had an injury Ash. Otherwise it could've been very serious" the boy smiled back apologetically as he began to realize that ever since he came here, he's only been getting him hurt.

First the land slide, then the intruder that attacked Anabel, after that the Frontier Brain bashing him up and…… well you know the rest.

"Sorry about that…" Ash replied rubbing the back of his head, "It's just that I was in the moment that I completely forgot about it" just when he finished, his stomach began to growl signaling that it was time for lunch. Both Greta and Nurse Joy giggled at the sound, "Well since your leg isn't any good, why don't we go have something to eat? There's a nice restaurant next door and their food is terrific" Ash quickly accepted the offer and gestured her to him up.

As they left the Pokemon center together, they didn't know that they were being followed by Paulina and her gang along with some of the boys from the gym and Melvin.

"That kid's walking away with Greta!" muttered one of the masculine men, "Look! They're walking into the restaurant!" said another with binoculars.

"Who is that kid with him?" asked Paulina, "Dunno" said one of her gang members, "I've never seen him in town before. He could just be a visitor or a distant relative"

But the boys quickly clenched their fists as if they were going to war, "Well whoever he is. He ain't getting miss Greta from us without a fight!" the others quickly agree with a silent nod.

Well one thing as for sure…… Ash was going to a long day waiting for him.