A Different Kind of Maple Story

This is an Advanceshipping (Ash/May) fic that is part of the 'Four on the Fourth' one shot project. Although going through the Sinnoh region with Brock and his new female traveling companion Dawn has been a great experience, Ash will never forget his last friend, May. I'm not really a huge fan of Advanceshipping, but I like it leaps and bounds above Pokeshipping and Pearlshipping. I honestly chose it because I wanted to do a hetero pairing, and Advanceshipping was the only one I could tolerate. I am more of a fan of Ash with another boy like Drew (Respect), Paul (Coma), Gary (Pallet) or Richie (League), and Advanceshipping was simply chosen by process of elimination. Anyway, Ash is doing something that a lot of fanfiction writers here like to do, much like myself, and that's tell a story. This is rated 'K+' for some thematic elements.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokemon, a creation of one Satoshi Tajiri, and is produced domestically (in the United States) by Pokemon USA/TAJ/The Pokemon Company, and internationally by Shogakukan and OLM. I personally own nothing and make nothing by writing this. Please do not flame.

It's Thursday night, and that means that it's Ash and Dawn's turn to watch the fire and be the lookout. It was a system that was developed since the days when trainer Ash Ketchum was traveling with just Misty and Brock. Every night, two people would tend to and control the fire, and one person would finally volunteer out of those two to keep to the fire, and eventually put it out and go to sleep with the rest of the group. Of course, there are opportunities that arise for both parties to spark up a conversation, and this night is no exception.

"Say, Ash" says Dawn. "Could you tell me a little more about the girl you were traveling with before you and I met up?"

"You know, Dawn, to be honest..." Ash orates, "I really don't know what I could say about May, other than she is, uhh..."

"Take your time, Ash, and think about it. I'd really like to now more about her" says Dawn calmly.

Ash Ketchum has been trekking through the various regions of the pokemon world for about the last five years or so. When he first began as a plucky young rookie, he involuntarily aligned himself with the Cerulean City gym leader by the name of Misty. Though this partnership through the Kanto region was not by choice. Ash's starter pokemon Pikachu inadvertently electrocuted the bike which Misty used to travel the region with. Misty used the bike as an excuse to stay with the first year trainer, and claimed that until he could pay her back, she would not leave his sight. Nearly three years after that, the Nurse Joy of Viridian City, the same one that tended to Ash's ill Pikachu, gave Misty her bike back. Upon learning that her sisters were going to travel the world, Misty reassumed her role as the gym leader of Cerulean City and left Ash and Brock.

But Dawn didn't inquire about his first female traveling companion; rather she wanted to know about his second one. May was not so much a polar opposite to Misty, but her route in her pokemon journey was a radically different one compared to Misty's.

"Well traveling with May was quite an experience to say the least. Initially, she was not a fan of pokemon, but got into it and went to the Hoenn league representative Professor Birch moreso because she wanted to travel. She loved to do that. She chose a Torchic as her starter pokemon, and by the time she left for Johto, it had evolved into a Blaziken. It's somewhat symbolic of her journey through Hoenn and Kanto." Ash takes a moment and reaches for a bottle of water. "You remember when Pikachu destroyed your bike?" Dawn silently nods.

Ash takes a moment to look at his surroundings. Pikachu and Brock are both sound asleep, and that makes the timing perfect for what he's about to say. "Well it seems that my good friend has an affinity of doing such a thing. It happened with Misty, as you well know from a few days ago, and it happened with May, as well. Unlike Misty, however, she didn't care too much about it. In fact, she told me afterwards that getting the opportunity to travel with an experienced trainer... I'm trying to find the right word here. Getting to travel with her younger brother Max, Brock and I sort of converted her into a fan of pokemon."

"And she was able to find her niche in the world of pokemon not that long after the four of us started traveling together. I was doing my gym battles, and just about everyone around at that time thought that May would follow in the same footsteps. We were at the very first stop to win the Evergrande Conference in Rustboro City, though we didn't know it until we got to this... pokemon trainer's school. That's where we met Roxanne, the Rustboro City gym leader and head instructor in this school that I mentioned."

"So it was at this school that May found what would be her modus operandi in pokemon; coordinating. You see, at this school, they were teaching young trainers and breeders and other areas in the world of pokemon. While on a tour, May stumbled upon it, liked it, and said 'this is what I wanna do'. And she did it, quite well in fact."

"She might not have come into this journey with the type of passion and vigor that you or I did," Ash is silent for a moment. "but she grew to become a standout coordinator, even in the face of some initial adversity felt by this guy named Drew. I'll be honest, the first time I saw Zoey battle, she reminded me a lot of Drew, and with me stepping out of my element, I felt like I defeated someone the caliber of Drew. But May held her own for a very long time, and was able to finally beat Drew at the Kanto Grand Festival about a year ago, though she lost a semifinal match to Solidad if I'm not mistaken."

"She had other rivals, much like you do, but none quite like" Ash can't seem to get the name out of his mouth. "Drew. Truth be told, I'd like to know a little more about how she's doing now in the Johto region, traveling with Drew and Harley and some others."

Dawn seems somewhat skeptical. She thinks that Ash is not being completely honest with her about his relationship with May, even when she asked him to do so.

"Say, Ash."

"Yeah, Dawn?"

"You really... miss her, do you?"

Ash smiles, but there is a clear amount of sadness within his glaze. "Yeah. The last battle we had before she left for Johto was interestingly enough in a pokemon contest. It was non sanctioned, but it didn't matter. It was between our fully evolved Hoenn starter pokemon that we got either at or near the beginning of our journey. It was my Sceptile against her Blaziken, and we tore the house down. The match ended up being a draw, and May came full circle that day from the kid who couldn't instruct a Mudkip to use water gun properly, to pushing yours truly to the limit and then some in pokemon coordinating."

"So," Dawn supplements, "you watched her grow up over that two years or so. She came into her own, and you got a chance to witness all of that occur."

"That's right."

"No wonder you speak so highly of her. She deserves it. You know, I think I'm pretty good, but I came into this knowing full well what I wanted to be. I couldn't imagine not even being a part of this culture if I didn't at least know what I was interested in accomplishing."

"Her story is definitely one worth telling" Ash punctuates. "Well, Dawn, I think I'll tend to the fire tonight."

"Are you sure?" Dawn asks, legitimately concerned for her friend's welfare.

"Yeah, I'm sure. Besides, you need to get some sleep and be ready for the Pastoria City pokemon contest this weekend. I know you'd like to get that second ribbon, especially if Zoey is there. I can't wait to tell her I've already scored three badges!"

Dawn lightly punches her friend. "You showoff!"

"What? You don't have any new rewards for your success aside from you Buizel?"

"You know what?" Dawn says, pointing her finger. "I'm actually gonna take your advice and go to bed. Just so I don't have to hurt you before we get to Pastoria."

"S'no problem, Dawn," Ash says, being playfully sarcastic.

"Good night, Ashy boy," Dawn says while walking away. Ash laughs to himself and then shakes his head.

'She'd never understand' Ash affirms himself. 'May was a real diamond in the rough. Dawn would have liked her, just for the fact she's an experienced coordinator. I just like her. She's becoming someone in her trade, and I'm glad to have at least helped her along the way.'

Ash puts out the fire after another hour, and joined his comrades in slumber. There was no mistaking it. Dawn heard the story of May; a kid who grew to be an exceptional young woman in the eyes of her superiors, and had truly proven her worth. If anything, Ash would have liked to keep May with himself forever, just to see how well she progressed in a career's worth of contests and Grand Festivals, but Ash was a realist. Keeping May with him that long would only hold her back, and because of how highly he regards her, he knew that because he loved her very much, he had to let her go.

But Ash will let the many people he encounters along the way know about the May Maple story; one of triumph, discovering yourself, earning respect amongst your many peers and elders, and believing in yourself, even when others don't. It keeps the memory of her alive no matter where he may travel in his never-ending story.

A/N: Please read, review, and let your voice be heard! Come on! Let me know what you think! I don't bite... much.