I would apologize for it being so late.... but that's starting to sound redundant. I'm really really sorry for my inconsistency.

Paul: You should be.

Dawn: Shut up, Paul! At least she HAS a life!

Paul: What?!

Me: I hate leaving them not agreeing. Drew, disclaimer, please.

Drew: I don't want to!

Me: I'm getting too much from them already. Just flippin do it.

Drew: Err....... ikarishipping900 does not own Pokemon.

Me: And a quick warning, this is a little longer.

"You know what?" Dawn snapped. "I don't have time for this." She spun on her heel and left the lobby. Paul rolled his eyes. Drew snorted. It was the duo's third fight today.

"Shut up," Paul said, as Drew opened his mouth to say something.

"You shut up," Drew answered back teasingly. "Seriously, though, I think you're bugging everyone on campus by this point."

"Shouldn't you be doing something else?" Paul retorted, opening a textbook.

Drew considered that. There was some math homework he was putting off. And there was the Contest to prepare for. "Not really."

Paul glared over at him. Drew shrugged. Gary shook his head and smirked.

"He did WHAT?" they heard an angry voice in the hallway yell. Drew glanced at the doorway. What now? Maybe Dawn ran into a roommate; it sounded like her shrill voice. He leaned back on the couch, closed his eyes…

"GARY OAK!" Drew jolted back forward and his eyes flew open. Misty was storming into the room, backed by an equally angry May, and also by Brianna and Zoey. Zoey's expression was odd – sad and desperate, like a frightened rabbit. He had never known Zoey to be afraid or upset before. Brianna's eyes had that same steely anger she had when she'd referred to Gary as "Oak." Gary looked startled at the outburst. "What is your problem?" Misty shouted, her hands on her hips.

"What…?" Gary started, leaning forward. He raised an eyebrow. Drew frowned. Now that he was paying attention, Gary didn't look terribly confused…

"You stupid. Moronic. Insensitive. Playing. JERK." She narrowed her eyes. "You have a thing for redhead roommates?"

Drew darted his eyes to Zoey. Did Gary…?

"Misty, what are you talking about?" Gary asked, frowning. Drew crossed his arms. He had a feeling Gary knew EXACTLY what he was talking about.

"You kissed Zoey!" she shouted. "And then you were all over ME! How many more girls do you have, Gary? Are redheads double points or something?"

Drew blinked and his eyes widened. Gary? Gary Oak, of all people, was a womanizer? Professor Oak's grandson?

Gary stood up. "Did she tell you that?" he asked, tilting his head towards Zoey. "Because jealousy does happen, you know."

Misty's eyes widened in anger, and her hand twitched like she wanted to beat him. Drew actually stood up and turned in anger to face Gary. "Are you serious, Gary?" he shouted, clenching his hands into fists. "If you knew Zoey at all, you'd know she's the last person to do something like that!"

Gary narrowed his eyes in careful evaluation of Drew. Drew darted his glance to Zoey again. He noticed her eyes were red. She had cried?

"Did you say Gary kissed you?" a brunette girl asked Misty, taking an earbud out of her ear. Misty nodded, and the girl's nostrils flared. "He kissed me too, and asked me out!"

"He did the same to me!" a platinum blonde girl, formerly engrossed in a fashion magazine, chipped in. "And we were going to see 'Dear John' together!"

"Same here!" a third girl added. All of them started yelling at Gary, the words impossible to make out in the mixture. Drew was somewhat amused by Gary's hastily panicked expression. Even Paul smirked at his mentor's dilemma.

"It's over!" the platinum blonde yelled, and scratched his face with two-inch nails. The brunette slapped him on the other cheek, the girl with black hair hit his head with her well-loaded purse, and Misty kicked his feet out from under him. He crashed onto the floor as all the girls except Brianna and Zoey stormed off.

Zoey watched Gary get up, anger and pain in her eyes. Gary finally looked at her, and Zoey spat in his face. "You weren't worth any of it," she hissed, and left. Brianna left with her, carefully watching her.

Gary wiped off his face, looking stunned. "What…?"

"Serves you right," Paul remarked, erasing something on his homework. Gary glared at him.

"You earned more than that, to be honest," Drew added. People like Gary were despicable to him. "I'm going to train. I'll see you later, Paul." He turned and left the room, heading to the Hall.

The Hall was the main training area for Coordinators. It was open on the weekends for general use, unless there was a Contest. The first school-wide Contest was coming up, so the Hall was, naturally, a busy area. Drew spun Surskit's Poke Ball as he walked. A water show…

He was surprised to see Zoey in the Hall, training with her Finneon. He'd been walking slow, but even for her to be thinking about training… She sidestepped a gust from her Pokémon's fins. "Good!" she called. "Much better." Then she noticed Drew walking in and nodded. He nodded back. She refocused back on Finneon, watching it swim and thinking.

"Hey, Drew," May called, waving. Drew waved back and stood at the mat closest to her. "How goes it?"

"All right, I guess," Drew said. Beautifly fluttered onto May's shoulder. "Are you any good with Beautifly yet?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Yes, I am!" May answered indignantly, crossing her arms. "You wait until next week! You'll see!"

"Sure…" Drew teased. She glared, and he snorted. She was so funny when she was mad. "On a different note, though." He glanced at Zoey, who was still considering Finneon, and May nodded.

"I haven't know her like this," May said quietly. "She acts tough during the day, focusing on everything else, but night comes…"

Drew nodded. He remembered one time Soledad had gotten heartbroken, over a guy who'd asked her out as a joke. She never cried while anyone was looking unless it was her closest friends. "I never realized Gary was such a jerk," he commented. "I mean, there were moments, but…"

"I know." May frowned. She opened her mouth to say something, but seemed to change her mind. "We'll be there for her. That's the main thing."

"Yeah," Drew said. "Are you guys going to train?"

"We need to do battle practice, May," Zoey said, turning around.

"Yup," agreed May. "See you, Drew."

Drew waved and watched them walk off. May and her roommates would watch out for Zoey… and Misty if she was upset too, but she seemed to be more angry…

Drew shook his head. He didn't need to be worrying about this. He had other things to focus on.

After all, the Contest was a week away.

"Welcome to the first school-wide Contest at Dream Academy this year!" the hostess said into her microphone, smiling. "I'm Lilian, and I'm going to be your MC today!"

Drew twirled his Poke Ball as Lilian introduced the "esteemed panel of judges" while the newer Coordinators chatted nervously. Since it was an off year, the official judges were actually here at Dream Academy, and some of the coordinators were getting nervous. Drew didn't let that kind of stuff get to him. He'd been in official Contests before anyway.

"This is exciting!" Dawn said to May, smiling. May nodded. Drew remembered this was the first Contest for Dawn. She was taking it well. Zoey had her arms crossed and was keeping her attention on the telescreen. She'd been in official stuff before this too.

"Here's the order of our appealers!" Lilian said, gesturing to a screen behind her. "As you probably know, these appeals will be set on a water-style stadium!" The pictures of the competitors were on the screen, shuffling. When they stopped, Drew found himself fifth on the list.

"Seven's a lucky number," Dawn said, pointing at her picture. "This is good!"

"Good thing I'm not superstitious," Zoey joked. She was thirteenth.

Tracey, hanging out behind, glanced at Melody. She looked nervous, and Drew didn't blame her. She was first.

"Sixth," May whispered to herself.

"We'll give our contestants a moment before we start!" Lilian announced, smiling. The telescreen flipped to the order.

"Hey, Tracey," Dawn said, turning to him. "Did you see my mom in the audience?"

"She was getting the VIP treatment," Tracey laughed. "May, your parents are here too."

Drew tuned them out. He knew his parents weren't here. They didn't approve of Drew's choice to coordinate instead of battle, to say the least.

"And our first appealer!" Lilian shouted as the telescreen switched back to the stadium. "Give it up for Melody Winters!"

The crowd cheered and Melody dashed in, hopping onto the island circle in the stadium. Drew watched expectantly. What sort of standard would Melody set?

"Flareon, it's showtime!" she called as she threw up her Poke Ball. Drew started. Did she just say Flareon?

Stars appeared around the Pokémon's white light. The light and the stars scattered simultaneously as Flareon landed at Melody's feet. "Flare!" it called, its fur shining.

"Wow, a Flareon!" Lilian said, commentating. "You certainly don't see those every day, and you definitely wouldn't expect one in a setting like this! What's Melody got in store for us?"

"Okay, Flareon, use Flamethrower!" Melody called, sweeping her hand across the field of play. Flareon nodded and leaped high into the air. It proceeded to spew fire from its mouth, hitting the water. The effect was instantaneous. Fire and water vanished, and for a moment everything was lost in a curtain of steam.

"Quick Attack!" Melody cried from somewhere within. Suddenly Flareon appeared on the edge of what used to be the pool. The position was precarious, but Flareon didn't wait for gravity to catch up. It darted on the edge in a fast, tight circle. The steam swirled and rose out of sight. Melody was smiling.

"Wow!" Lilian said. "The power of Flareon's fire is incredible! And look at that speed! Mm, feels like a spa now, doesn't it?"

"All right, Flareon, let's finish!" Melody called. "Flame Wheel!"

Flareon hopped into the empty pool (though not out of view of the audience – the material was transparent in anticipation of underwater appeals) and ran with fire blazing around it. It was running in some sort of pattern. It hopped into the air, and its fire trails rose as well. A five-pointed star burned around Flareon. "How pretty!" Lilian remarked. "And look at the intensity of that flame!"

"End it!" Melody called, raising her arm. Flareon's ability finally kicked in. Fire flashed around Flareon with enough power to scatter the star into orangey sparkles. Flareon landed on Melody's raised arm, fur shining brighter than ever, and Melody continued to hold her arm up so the audience could admire her Flareon. The crowd cheered loudly, and Melody smiled. She said something into her Flareon's ear Drew could only assume was praise, then she lowered Flareon and held it with both arms. He couldn't blame her, having it perch on her arm looked painful.

"What an impressive appeal!" Lilian said, and the crowd cheered its agreement again. "But what do our judges think?"

Melody turned to face the panel. "An incredible display of power and speed," the first judge said. "And employing the element of surprise to your effect was a good decision!"

"The only problem is that we'll have to refill the pool," the second judge joked, and Melody smiled as some of the audience laughed. "A remarkable appeal!"

"He needs a new word," Zoey commented to Drew. Drew smirked and nodded.

"Your Flareon is obviously in top condition," Nurse Joy said, smiling.

"Thank you, Melody!" Lilian said. Melody smiled, bowed, and left with Flareon. "Give us a moment to refill the pool, and then we'll have our second appealer go!"

"That was really cool," Dawn said, twiddling her fingers. "I hope we're ready for this." She bit her lip.

"You'll be fine," May said, smiling. "The judges don't judge by the first person's appeal."

"If you planned something really boring, though, there's no help for you," Drew commented, leaning back.

May giggled. "Yeah, right."

Melody slipped back into the room. "What'd you guys think?" she asked, mostly looking at Ash.

"Melody, that was incredible!" he reassured her. "May, wasn't that incredible?"

"It was flawless," she added, grinning. Melody smiled. "See what practice does?"

"Yup," she said. She let herself smile more and almost unconsciously wove her fingers with Ash's. Ash smiled at her again.

Drew was still looking at the telescreen. They were showing the crowd now, chatting with each other about who knew what. He saw Johanna, Dawn's mother, soaking in the attention the audience was giving her; he saw Norman and Caroline, May's parents, May looked a lot more like Caroline than Norman; he even noticed a man with orange eyes who looked a little like Zoey…

Nobody was there with green hair.

Drew sighed and slumped back down. What did he expect?

The next three appeals were mediocrity. There were a couple of traditional appeals with Frisbees and balls being suspended, there was nothing out of the ordinary…

"And now, let's give it up for a competitor who's already made a name for himself in the Hoenn region's official competitions, Drew Rose!"

The crowd cheered. Fan girls were not allowed in the audience without approval of the one with the fans, so Drew could relax on that. No manic fan girls with Roselia hats in the audience… that was a weird experience. He walked out confidently and leaped on the island circle. The crowd cheered again, and he smiled up at them. This was where he belonged.

"Let's go, Surskit!" he shouted, tossing his Poke Ball up into the air. Bubbles flew around Surskit as it glowed and landed gracefully in the water.

"A Surskit! What a cutie!" Lilian said, putting her hands together and smiling at the water skater.

Drew took a deep breath in. It always helped. "All right, Surskit, Bubble and Quick Attack!" he called, waving his arm. Surskit shot a staircase of bubbles and glided up them, rising higher and higher. It was working on the patterns they had practiced. Drew's goal was to make the antennae and wings of a Masquerain, in bubbles. Judges liked it when knowledge of a Pokémon was demonstrated. And audiences just liked patterns.

"Give them some Sweet Scent, too, Surskit!" Drew added. It was effortless for Surskit to do, and it was just a wonderful fragrance. Plus, it gave Surskit a little more time to work with.

"Mm, the scent a Surskit gives off is just so refreshing!" Lilian said, grinning in a way that was almost silly. "And is Surskit done? Looks like it!" Surskit had just finished, and it placed its feet carefully on the center bubbles. The image was the antennae and wings surrounding Surskit's blue body. "It's a Masquerain! The antennae and wings of a Masquerain! How impressive!"

Drew smiled, and the audience exploded in applause. Drew discreetly checked, and the noise wasn't bursting the bubbles. It had taken some practice to create stronger bubbles, and not being prepared for the volume of the audience would have been awful.

The next part wasn't rehearsed at all. It couldn't be. Surskit started glowing white again – and this time its shape was changing, fitting into the bubbles it had created like some kind of mold.

"Ma-asquerain!" Drew's newly evolved Masquerain cried, flitting its new wings happily.

The audience cheered loudly again. This time Drew bit his lip. He had thought this might happen, and this was definitely the best timing if it was going to. But handling evolutions during the appeals was always a daunting task. He'd have to wrap this up, and fast…

"Masquerain!" he called up. "Let's finish this with Gust and Sweet Scent!" He was absolutely certain it could use Gust. Ideally, he would use Silver Wind, but he was uncertain about the possibility, and this was not the place to find out…

"Mas!" It swirled the bubbles in a tight circular pattern, and then the bubbles burst into bright rainbow sparkles over the audience. The crowd went absolutely nuts, and Masquerain landed on Drew's arm. Drew posed and held up the arm on which Masquerain was perched, and the cheers were even louder.

"Good work," he commented quietly to Masquerain, causing the Pokémon to flit happily. "Looks like we'll need to figure out what you can do now, huh? And good timing." The Pokémon nodded cheerfully. He smiled at it and turned to the panel of judges.

"Drew, a very impressive showmanship, exactly what we'd expect from you," the first judge said.

"And your on-the-spot inventiveness with your Pokémon's evolution – the way you handled that hurdle – was simple remarkable!" the second judge said.

"Your Surskit was obviously quite powerful to be able to evolve, and your Masquerain is very healthy in every way," Nurse Joy added, smiling.

The crowd roared its approval. Drew bowed and exited. Keep it simple.

Melody was the first to say something when he got back. "Nice, Drew!" she exclaimed. "I would completely freak out if my Pokémon evolved in the middle of my performance."

"Were you planning that?" Dawn asked. "I mean, the timing, I don't even know if you could control, but…"

"I was hoping a little," Drew said. "I had a plan either way. May?"

"It was really good," May said. "I don't like the thought of following it."

May, despite her worries, put on a very good appeal. She used Bulbasaur, which surprised Drew a little. He remembered her practicing with Beautifly. But she put on a very pretty show with water and petals, and the crowd was obviously enchanted.

Dawn's appeal was a little shakier, but it was her first Contest and that was understandable. She showed her Piplup's charm and power very well, and that was the important part.

Drew stopped paying attention after that. He was sure that Zoey's appeal would be fine, she was ridiculously skilled. May commented it looked shaky, but that was probably Gary's aftermath still. Not his place to worry, and she would pass the preliminaries without a doubt.

"And here are our preliminary picks!" Lilian called a while later. "We've picked out eight coordinators out of the students you've seen! Everyone did a wonderful appeal, and these eight will continue on to the battle round!"

Drew sat up and looked at the screen. Soledad was staring down the screen with her arms crossed. "Worried?" he asked her.

"Better to be concerned than cocky," she answered, shrugging.

Dawn was shaking a little bit in anticipation.

"And here they are!"

The screen blinked up the Coordinators: Soledad (she smiled), Drew (he nodded), May (she clapped her hands), Wally (Drew barely knew him, but he grinned), Harley (thankfully not close enough to observe), Zoey (she glanced away from the screen), Melody (who smiled really wide and looked excitedly at Ash), and Dawn (she gave a deep sigh of relief).

"These Coordinators will be facing each other in the next round, a series of battles! The matchups are as follows: the first match will be Wally Duncan versus Harley Simmons, the second match will be Dawn Keystone versus Melody Winters, the third match will be Drew Rose versus Soledad Woods," (at this point Soledad winked at Drew) "and the fourth match will be May Maple and Zoey Badgers! The winners of these matches will face each other in the following bracket."

Drew followed the bracket. Theoretically, if he won, he would face either May or Zoey, and from there face either Wally, Harley, Dawn, or Melody.

Game on.

I felt like in a school full of budding Coordinators and Trainers, there needed to be Contests and such. I don't think the Breeders have competitions - I mean, what would they compete in?

Brianna: So unappreciated.....

Me: Hey, just because you're not competitive doesn't mean you're unappreciated!

May: Please review!!!