Disclaimer: My name's certainly not affiliated with Pokémon –not unless I want to be sued .
Story: All Ash Ketchum has ever wanted was to be the best. Ash's dream was to be the unbeatable, greatest and grandest Pokémon Master there ever was. So now of legal age to get a Trainer's license, Ash can start the road for just that. Problem? Ash is a girl. And the world is full of perverts as her mother had warned and so Ash Ketchum the girl must become Ash Ketchum the boy.
Set as an AU.
Spoilers: Probably.
Warnings: Perverts, raunchy humor, weird humor, craziness, etc…
Pairings: Reverse Harem Genre along the vein of Fushigi Yuugi, Ouran High Host Club, Negima! (regular harem), Love Hina, and other Ken Akamatsu works, with fanon Harem twist of multiple partners. Most guys are reoccurring unrequited or "character of the day" crushes, but a select number are permanent requited guys. Hence, Ash with a lot of people (mostly one-sided), Ash/Lance, Ash/Steven, Ash/Giovanni, Ash/Lt. Surge, etc. for sure.

Loyal to the Game
Chapter Eleven: Backtrack Backpacking II

Norman sighed as he was jostled a little by the speed of the train he was on. In order to catch up to May, he'd taken the express train, which would at least let him set foot on Kanto soil a day or at least half a day behind May, who had taken the regular overnight train to get there (and which took a minimum of two and a half days to reach Kanto, while his train took one and a half to two days). Unfortunately, the express train, while it had individual compartments, didn't have beds and was even faster than the bullet train May was on.

Damn it, what was that girl thinking? What was the point of all this? He just couldn't see why May would do this, or even think of just running away for whatever strange reason that got into her head, which he was totally clueless about anyway.

May had never been one to be reckless. That made this whole thing absolutely absurd and uncharacteristic of his daughter, who had seemingly just got up and left.

Norman knew that their home life was unusual and truthfully kind of messed up for the past few years or so. He didn't know if that had any factor to May seemingly having snapped, but regardless, he knew he had to somehow make up for it and try even harder than before to be there for his kids, and do what he could to help them through this. It wasn't their fault Caroline and he had gotten like this, and they shouldn't have to suffer for it. It was unfair.

But it was also true that nothing could be done about it, and Caroline and he couldn't be salvaged anyway. Especially not now that she was happy with someone else; he couldn't keep clinging onto the past, to the 'what was', and more so when he didn't even feel the same way anymore. It wasn't fair to anyone, and he had to let go.

Maybe Caroline was right. He should try dating again…

But definitely not with Ash Ketchum. No way –absolutely not.

Not even with how cute she was.

Professor Oak scooped some noodles into his mouth as he narrowed his eyes at the experiment. True to what his assistants had been telling him, it was acting up. He had yet to figure out if it was a good thing or bad thing yet, so he was reserving judgment and keeping an eye on it.

Suddenly, the phone rang and he fumbled a bit, almost dropping his soup on himself as he was startled by the telephone ringing. He hurriedly put it down and rushed to pick up his phone, answering it quickly. Seeing the caller's predicament as well as hearing the poor man panicking, Oak reassured the other he'd get help immediately and have the other back to normal in no time. Ending that call, he contacted the Viridian Joy, assuming that she was the one in charge of the whole "Watchtower Ash" project (he wondered if the Joys were Justice League fans or something…) that she had told him about, regarding the whole keeping an eye on Ash thing going on with the nurses.

According to her, the Nurse Joy in the Pokémon Land's Pokécenter had relayed to her that Ash was currently staying there, though could be leaving any time that morning. Since she hadn't been in yet to pick up her pokémon, so while he hadn't been able to talk to her right then, Pokémon Land's Nurse Joy would tell Ash he needed to talk to her and have her patch through to him as soon as she got there. A little disappointed in missing out talking to his friend, as well as helping out his distressed caller of course, Professor Oak agreed to wait and hung up. He reluctantly went back to his much cooler noodle soup, forcing himself to finish it anyway.

It was, thankfully, not too long after that Ash contacted him and he could see her face filling up his screen. Only that he could see Giovanni Rocketto surprisingly next to her, and he had no idea how the two knew each other or when they'd come into contact. Plus, given Giovanni's usual disposition and arrogance, he was surprised the two got along at all, much less that the other man was taking the time to be near her. And by the proximity of the two and the way their bodies were situated together, it seemed that not only were they familiar with each other but friendly too.

Come to think of it, Pokémon Land was owned by Giovanni. He wondered if there was a connection with Ash currently staying there.

Oak decided he'd need to get a full report of Ash's journey, starting from the beginning, from Viridian Joy. He somehow didn't doubt that she'd know more than she should either, along with the other Joys.

The fact was that Giovanni wasn't the sort of man that dealt out kindness on a regular basis, or paid any attention to any others unless he had to or they somehow held his interest (which usually lasted very briefly anyway). He was, arguably, mainly polite (if abrupt), but also arrogant and could get rather nasty if one irritated him or more likely when one straight out angered him. He was mostly a very cold and distant person that dealt with others with an indifferent and/or haughty attitude that put off many a people from interacting with him willingly.

Which confused him on how and why Ash seemed to be happy and comfortable with him, and why Giovanni in return seemed to be patiently content by her side and looked rather relaxed and not as abrasive as he usually was –and dare Oak think it, Giovanni seemed even fond of Ash, from the way he could read the barely shown emotion on the man's face.

He felt rather uneasy about Giovanni's unusual interest and, he was guessing, closeness with Ash.

"Hi, Sam!" Ash greeted, forgetting to once again use his title.

He chuckled and gave a small wave, deciding to push his thoughts to the side for now. "Hello, Ash. I see your journey's going well?"

"It's great, Sam! I'm having a lot of fun and I've met a lot of people," Ash told him eagerly. "Like my friend here! This is Giovanni, Sam. Giovanni, meet the famous Professor Oak!" That definitely struck a chord with Oak, who got confirmation that the two knew each other and were close of all things. Odder that Ash could even call the other a friend, and that Giovanni didn't refute such a claim.

He saw Giovanni give him a short nod, and Oak returned the greeting with a nod back, mind whirling with thoughts again. No, no, no –he needed to focus.

"Anyway, this is unfortunately not a social call, Ash," he became serious. "A friend of ours, Bill, has somehow been trapped into a pokémon body. I wasn't clear on this since he was panicking. Anyway, I heard you had an Espeon with the ability to teleport and was hoping you'd go to help him out. You remember where he lives, right? Your Espeon will be able to know the place from you, and you could go there."

"Ah! Bill's in trouble like that? Of course I'll go help him!" Ash agreed in determination.

"Wait, we're teleporting?" Oak heard someone yell from behind the two in front of him. "Aw man. So we can't take the jumbobus?"

"Jumbobus?" Giovanni muttered in confusion and scrunched up his eyebrows, turning slightly to face the caller. "What jumbobus are you talking about?" he asked as he drifted away from Ash and irritably towards the trio some way behind them (and there was Giovanni's common irate attitude).

Oak stared as he saw the two gym leaders and one gym trainer, and wondered if Ash was collecting gym leaders as well as gym badges (Brock, Lt. Surge, and Giovanni being three, and Misty was a sort of).

"So where'd you get an Espeon?" Oak asked, changing gears to focus on Ash. It was awhile since he'd talked with and seen her, and he missed their talks. "It's amazing you have one, especially as they're not really common among these parts. Although, I wish I could have found out about that from you, instead of a Nurse Joy."

Ash beamed at him, wearing a happy smile. "Giovanni gave her to me! She's real sweet and protective. Sorry about not telling you, but I didn't think I could just call you just because."

"Forget about it," Oak said casually, waving a hand. He grinned. "Call whenever you want. In fact, I'll give you my cell number instead."

To hell with it. If he gets called out on favoritism, it shouldn't be surprising that it was Ash. It wasn't like it wasn't common knowledge (around Pallet at least) that the girl was a favorite of his. She was always around his lab, before she went on her journey, and it wasn't like he hadn't been seen around her all the time. His grandson was a known friend, a very close friend at that, and he'd known her mother for a long time, though he wasn't sure whether he'd gotten drawn to Delia because he'd met Ash when he was younger or not. It still made him confused and uneasy thinking about that, and again made him remember the time travel theories he'd tortured himself with back in his younger days.

They caught up a bit more, mostly with Ash asking about Oak and what he was up to, and he just resolved to find out what had happened with her with the Joys, and just allow Ash to take control of the conversation while he basked in her long-missed enthusiasm.

When their talk finally ended and he'd hung up, he found he was missing her already. He sighed.

The place just wasn't the same without Ash hanging around and keeping him company.

When Ash hung up with the professor, she frowned to herself and worried about her researcher friend. Well, make that friends. Professor Oak seemed unusually subdued, and she also wondered what sort of trouble did Bill get himself into.

Still frowning, she turned to her traveling group (she was still really giddy about both Lt. Surge and Giovanni joining her). Right at the moment, Brock was excitedly explaining something to Giovanni, who had his eyebrows scrunched together as he listened to the rock trainer and watched him with a confused and wary look. Lt. Surge was mildly listening near them, lightly smirking in amusement, while Misty was pinching the bridge of her nose and looking like she wanted to just jump off the nearest bridge.

"What's up?" she asked as she walked towards them.

Giovanni turned his attention to her, looking disgruntled and his lip curling.

"Brock was just telling me something about those empty-headed boys that Nastina used to own having maneuvered a large bus onto the island and into the theme park. I'm guessing it is their mode of transport."

Ash felt excited about it too, and wanted to see it for herself…but decided not to say or do anything about it, considering Giovanni's irritated composure and the fact he looked ready to go out himself and send the guys flying off of the island in a very violent way.

Ah! Poor Giovanni looked so irritated…Maybe a hug would help?

Ash hesitantly sidled up to him and hugged him around his middle, causing Brock to pout and Lt. Surge to straighten up a bit, frowning slightly, and Giovanni to snap into a ramrod state and look down at her with wide eyes. Misty watched, wavering between amusement and getting irritated herself. She wasn't sure whether she wanted to make a big deal out of everyone's stupid reactions, or to quietly continue laughing at the guys in her head and enjoy their misery. She was supposed to help Ash out with guys and stuff…but she suppose this group was alright…

"It's alright, Giovanni! We have more important stuff to worry about," Ash smiled up at him.

While Giovanni uncomfortably stood still in her arms and tried to not think about how cute she looked, especially smiling at him, the rest of the group noted what she said closely. Ash elaborated to them, and they all got ready and made sure they had everything, including their pokémon, with them. Ash called out her Espeon, who glanced knowingly in Giovanni's way, and without further ado they teleported straight out of there, never mind the group of guys determinedly waiting outside with their finished masterpiece.

The first view for the group was of a large lighthouse. It towered over them and their surroundings and took up the majority of the scenery. Since there was still a little bit of daylight left, the lighthouse's lamp wasn't lit up. Aside from that, there were only trees and the cliff the lighthouse overlooked, as well as the ocean waters beyond.

Ash pointed at the lighthouse. "That's where Bill lives."

"He's a really famous Pokémon Researcher, isn't he?" Misty asked.

Brock was a little curious, but he knew a little more of the man than Misty. Lt. Surge and Giovanni were definitely more familiar with the researcher, especially Giovanni who had read some of the man's books and research papers, but neither had met the man in person.

"Un! Bill's responsible for the creation of the Pokémon Transfer System, that Dr. Akihabara refined and made for universal use. He lives here, but I think he's got his Sea Cottage north of where you live, Misty," Ash noted, randomly remembering that.

The others rolled their eyes at that, but didn't bother to tease Ash for once.

"He's also widely regarded as an expert in many fields," Giovanni added. "He's done extensive research on a variety of things, hence how renowned he is and how many look up to and also seek his advice on many pokémon matters. I believe he is also known for his large collection of both common and rare pokémon."

"Wow, Giovanni. You know a lot about Bill! Are you a fan?" Ash asked, surprised how much her older friend knew of the researcher.

Giovanni shrugged, making the others (minus Ash) feel very odd at continuing to see a more "human" side to him.

"Not really, per se. I have many of his works, especially if it is in a field I am interested in, so I'm familiar with Bill Sonezaki," he explained patiently to her.

"Aa, I got ya…Oh, he's also lactose-intolerant," Ash once again randomly stated.

The others sweatdropped.

They started their trek up the slope to the lighthouse, when they were confronted by a small Krabby.

"It's kind of cute," Misty smiled at it.

Ash bobbed her head in agreement. "It is! It's so small." Though when she reached out to pet it, it snapped a claw at her and frothed challengingly at the mouth. Ash blinked.

"Are you…challenging me?" she asked it, ignoring the others who were trying to get her to get away from it.

"Not so cute after all," Misty muttered, eying the thing warily.

Krabby just frothed some more and snapped both claws Ash's way. Ash huffed and a fire lit up in her eyes.

"I accept your challenge, Krabby!" she declared as she snatched up a stick.

Lt. Surge held her back. "Er, aren't you going to use one of your pokémon?"

"Pika Pika Pi!" Pikachu added his two cents, tapping her head with his paws in reminder.

"No way! This is an honor duel! This Krabby challenged me personally!" Ash thrust out her stick towards the Krabby, who parried in a panic (that was way too close for its liking). "En garde!"

And so the duel began.

"I didn't know Ash knew fencing," Misty commented about Ash's use of that term.

"She looks like she's holding a katana than a foil," Lt. Surge replied wryly.

"Since it's a stick, I'd say a bokken," Giovanni rolled his eyes, watching the "duel" with a weirded out sort of fascination.

"Take that!" and Ash poked Krabby straight in between its eyes, causing it to fall over. She quickly got a pokéball and threw it, catching Krabby with no further fuss. She took Krabby's pokéball and rubbed her cheek against it.

"You fought honorably, Krabby. Well done," she cooed.

"Alright, alright," Misty snickered, walking over to her friend. "Let's go already!"

Ash pouted, but continued to lead the way to the lighthouse again. Once at the huge doors, she rang the doorbell and waited patiently, while the others freaked out by the answering eerie ringing.

"Who's there?" was asked by an invisible voice that further freaked out the others.

"It's Ash, Bill!" Ash chirped up happily, opposite of the others.

The doors immediately opened, and they were greeted by a human-sized Kabuto inside of the lighthouse.

"Eh, Bill, what happened?!" Ash rushed forward, ahead of the others as she panicked about her friend.

"Ah, an accident happened," Bill started, much more calmer than he had been on the phone with Professor Oak earlier. "I was experimenting on pokémon teleportation, and somehow I got combined with the body of a pokémon. If you could help me out with that machine there, I'll be back to normal in no time."

While the others stood back and watched, Ash stood at the computer and Bill got into one of the capsules that made up the machine. The whole process took fifteen minutes, and then they were all meeting the real Bill. He was an average-sized man, with brown hair and eyes, and wearing a pale blue button up with a slightly darker tie, and greenish pants.

Bill grinned warmly at Ash and opened up his arms wide, inviting her in for a hug. Ash grinned back widely and accepted the invitation, hugging Bill back.

"Ash! Good to see you! Mother's been wanting to see you too, so you should come with me to see her one of these days," Bill ruffled her hair.

"She's still in Goldenrod City, right? You promised you'd show me around your hometown, but you never did!" Ash said accusingly, her pout making its appearance again.

He chuckled. "Well, you've never been there or have come with me to go there before. So next time, on a visit to Mother, yes?"

"Oh, your hometown is in Johto! I'd always thought you were a Kanto native," Brock interjected, bringing Bill's attention to the group.

Immediately, Bill's gaze cooled and he gave them a frosty smile. Brock and Misty were taken aback, but Lt. Surge bristled and scowled while Giovanni echoed the cooled gaze.

"I almost forgot! Bill, this is Brock, Misty, Lucien, and Giovanni. Guys, this is Bill," Ash introduced them to each other, unmindful of the tense and almost hostile atmosphere.

"Pleasure to meet you all," Bill said insincerely, with a just as insincere smile.

"Greetings," Giovanni said dryly, and apparently spoke for the group as no one else spoke up after him.

"Have you all had breakfast? Lunch? Come in, we should eat. Ash, you must be hungry. I know your stomach, darling," he teased, causing her face to flush red as he put an arm around her and started to lead her to his kitchen, ignoring the others and letting them follow behind on their own.

In the kitchen, Ash volunteered to cook, surprising the others who had no idea she could. Brock was especially pleased and wanted to stay behind and help out and maybe learn from or teach her some things…if it weren't for the tight grip Misty and Lt. Surge had on him. While Bill led them to the small dining room they could eat at, Ash stayed behind to cook their mystery meal.

Giovanni rubbed Persian's pokéball discreetly, seeking comfort from it. He was on edge and his guard was completely up. He did not like this Bill.

He especially didn't like how close he seemed with Ash.

"So you guys are all traveling with her or something?" Bill asked, still falsely nice as he spoke with a deceivingly kind voice.

"Yeah," Misty said hesitantly. She was feeling very strange about the group, all of whom seemed to be tensed. It made her tense up as well. "I met her early on, on her journey, and I offered to travel with her."

"I joined her in Pewter, after she beat me in a gym battle," Brock decided to be straight up, not afraid of this guy.

Bill glanced over him and focused on the other two left instead. Brock frowned and got ready to speak up. Yes, he was just the slightest cowed by Lt. Surge and Giovanni –but they were scary as hell! But he was definitely not going to back down to this guy, who thought he wasn't worth any attention.

However, before he could, he saw Lt. Surge slightly shake his head and mouth 'Play nice.' Brock inwardly cringed. Bill was, unfortunately, still Ash's friend. They'd have to play by his rules, especially as they were in his home and he had known Ash far longer than any of them.

"Still, I didn't think she'd be traveling with a brute and a megalomaniac," Bill said nonchalantly, even if his words were anything but.

Lt. Surge's 'Play nice' method went out the window and his eyes flashed angrily as he stood up. Giovanni, however, calmly grabbed a hold of his elbow and pulled him back down onto his seat, taking a sip of tea. Giovanni merely brushed off the insults –they weren't worth it, and he was more curious on whether or not Bill had any clue into his real identity, if the other man could choose an insult like that towards Giovanni so easily.

"To be fair, he's actually not all that brutish," Giovanni drawled, surprisingly defending the blond. Although, the two of them supposed a truce was a truce. "As for myself, you sure do think so highly of me, don't you," he continued sarcastically.

Giovanni set down his tea and finally looked at Bill. "Megalomania is a psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, omnipotence, and by inflated self-esteem...Hm, I wouldn't say I'm delusional of course. Or that my self-esteem is all that inflated," he ended mockingly.

"I wasn't asking for your opinion, half-breed," Bill sneered.

That made Giovanni snap. There were very few things that could really piss him off, and insulting and/or dissecting his blood status was one of them. He was quite aware of his mixed heritage, thank you very much. Being half Italian and half Kantoan was something he'd accepted long ago, despite choosing to mainly station himself in these regions (Kanto in particular). He wasn't ashamed of having an Italian mother and a Kantoan father.

And half-breed! Like he wasn't even human…

"I'd thank you to keep my blood out of this, bastard," Giovanni cursed him out acidly.

That caused Misty to actually gasp aloud, while Brock stared at him wide-eyed. Lt. Surge was taken aback and watched the other man warily. Still, to cause Giovanni to react and even burst out like that…blood must be a sore subject.

"Come on now. Let's keep blood out of this," Misty said weakly, trying to keep things calm.

Giovanni was still glaring daggers at the other, who looked too smug for any of them. The Rocket Boss was gripping tightly on the handle of the teacup, and the others were surprised it hadn't broken off yet, with the force of his grip.

"Why are you targeting us?" Lt. Surge quietly cut in, feeling much more calm and in control. And well, aside from shock at seeing the unflappable Giovanni lose control, he also figured that since Giovanni wasn't going to be the calmer, logical one (like usual), he'd have to take point.

Bill shrugged carelessly. "I don't approve of you. Especially when it concerns Ash, and you two being around her. Besides, why should I allow bad influences around her? Especially since I can clearly see the…attachments formed towards her, attachments that have no business being formed and are wasted efforts anyway."

"You know, I understand your protectiveness and that you care about her," Brock stated peacefully. "We all feel the same way. We'd rather her safe and protected, rather than just let anyone get near and hurt her. We have the same goal, so why don't we all get along and share that responsibility towards her?"

Bill's eyes flicked over to him before dismissively focusing on the two he'd zeroed in on from the beginning.

"I wasn't talking to you, you nobody. Stay out of this," Bill said simply, focused on (to him) the bigger threats. "She's way out of your league anyway."

Brock flinched, and the other three glared at Bill on Brock's behalf and in a united front. They were willing to put aside their differences against outsiders of their group, and Bill was definitely a hostile one. Even Misty, with her usual dislike against Brock, wouldn't stand for it. No one was allowed to hate on Brock but her, in her opinion, either way.

"Get the stick out of your ass, buster, because no one here is gonna take any more of your bull," Misty snapped at him, tired of trying to be nice and fed up with the man's attitude.

But instead of acting upset, as she'd thought he would be, Bill merely gave her a patronizing smile.

"How much do you know of Ash?" he surprisingly suddenly brought up.

And they immediately knew he meant something more personal about her, instead of things like her likes or something along that vein.

Still, Misty opened her mouth and fumbled for something. "Her mother is overprotective –"

"Yes, that's true," Bill acknowledged. "That's not nearly anything one can have trouble finding out –"

"Her father left her when she was younger," Brock said seriously, causing the others to look at him in surprise.

Misty was a bit jealous that Ash had confided such a thing with him, but at least for now it was something to argue against Bill's view of them. Lt. Surge shifted in his seat, frowning to himself about the new information and caught off guard that Brock knew that. Giovanni also was displeased with the new information and that he didn't know it (and that Brock did). It made him feel…oddly discontent that Ash had confided something very personal to someone else…and not to him.

Bill had a completely surprised look on his face at this turn of events.

"Oh? She told you that, did she? Well, yes. Ash's father did leave her and her mother when she was…six, I believe? Did she tell you anything else?" he was curious, and though his grin looked friendly, they had a feeling it was totally not.

"…No," Brock reluctantly admitted.

"Ah. So she didn't tell you she shut down, her mother became an alcoholic, and Ash learned to take care of herself and became a sort of recluse in that time?" Bill was back to being nonchalant, despite his words once again being opposite of tone.

The four of them stared at him.

"I see. She didn't then," Bill shook his head mockingly, though he became completely grim after. "I don't care what you think, say or feel. I don't care if you think you're so 'close' to her, when you're really not. I don't care if you think you really care for her…you really like her, because it's a ridiculous notion to think you stand any chance with her. And in any case, she's very…delicate in a way. She has her own little issues, and she doesn't need any more problems in forms of you all and especially with your troublesome feelings to trouble her with."

"You know what –that's for her to decide," Lt. Surge said firmly, not letting Bill's words get to him. Although, he did avoid the issue of feelings and what Bill was implying about his (and probably Giovanni's too –Brock was a no brainer). "The truth is, all of us honestly, and very sincerely care about Ash. Whether you like it or not, we'll be there for her. Even if she wants us to leave her alone, we'll be there for her. Because that's what her main problem is, isn't it? Being abandoned? Like with her father?" he surprised the other as he threw that out.

Bill frowned. He was ready to reply back, when Ash walked in happily, unmindful of the tenseness in the air. Misty inwardly sighed. That girl always did have trouble reading the atmosphere most of the time.

"Lunch is ready!"

Brock smiled smoothly, and acted as if nothing had happened in that room and as if they were all good friends with each other.

"That's great, Ash. What did you cook?" Brock continued on, determined not to let Ash know just how hostile it had been in that room just moments ago.

Ash blushed lightly, strangely looking to Giovanni from underneath her eyelashes.

"Um…I saw the ingredients in the cupboards and fridge…so I thought I'd make shrimp bucatini carbonara," she was just borderline mumbling, even if they could all hear her just fine.

Bill briefly scowled, before covering it up.

"Sarà delizioso," Giovanni smoothly chimed in, tossing her a charming smile.

Her face burned hot, even if she didn't understand what he'd said.

Lt. Surge rolled his eyes, mouthing "Hotshot Italian" at Giovanni, even as Bill glared at him. Giovanni smirked at them both. Brock was just thankful Ash was staying oblivious to the near-eruption of a miniature war.

Misty snickered under her breath, even as she spoke to Ash. "You need help bringing it in here?"

"I'll help you out. We can start to catch up in the meanwhile. It's been awhile since I've seen you after all," Bill interrupted, turning all his attention to Ash.

"Why don't we all go help Ash? I'm sure there are a lot of things needing to be transferred," Brock cut in, just to get in Bill's way, especially after all those repeated snubs towards Brock early on.

"Great idea, Brock," Lt. Surge seconded, throwing a smug grin at Bill.

Bill chose to ignore them all.

"I don't mind at all, mia dolcezza," Giovanni continued his onslaught, and was rewarded with an adorable squeak from Ash, who turned and hurriedly escaped back to the kitchen.

"Yeah, yeah. Play up the Italian," Lt. Surge snorted, giving him an exasperated look.

Giovanni just tossed an arrogant look back, though he mostly seriously directed it towards a steaming Bill.

"At least someone here doesn't mind that I am," he threw a sneer Bill's way.

Bill pointedly looked away.

"Come on, you three," Misty started towards Ash's direction. "Leave it alone. Let's go help her out, so we can have a good lunch while we're at it."

It wasn't long until the silverware, plates, and the Italian pasta dish was set onto the table, and everyone was serving themselves a plate. Ash was, though she was doing a bad job hiding it, anxiously watching Giovanni and waiting for his reaction. He noted it and inwardly smiled. He just slightly took a little more time on serving himself and then taking a bite, just to savor her cute worrying. And that she was trying to cater to him and wanted his opinion made it even better. For that, he took even more time tasting the pasta, and waiting to say or reveal anything about how he liked it. He couldn't help it if he enjoyed her reactions and squirming so much.

"It is very delicious," he sincerely complimented her. "Brava, sweetheart."

Her face practically lit up at his approval, though she continued to blush with the compliment and the endearment included.

Despite his occasional use of the endearment, he definitely made sure to add it in (as well as a little more Italian), just for Bill's'enjoyment.' He was feeling very vindictive towards the man.

He saw Pikachu, from the electric mouse's perch on Ash's right (having his own seat at the table), look at him and shake his head. Giovanni twitched, more so when Pikachu laughed quietly into his paws and then wagged a finger at him. For some reason, Giovanni felt as if Pikachu knew far more of what was going on than he should have.

Damn, that Pikachu was shrewd and really smart. And oddly knew Giovanni almost as much as his own Persian did…

Bill almost rose to the bait, but controlled himself and focused on Ash. "So I hear you've got a prototype pokédex from Samuel?"

"I did," Ash turned to him. She held out her wrist, where the "pokédex from Hell" (as was dubbed by Misty, and the others agreeing readily) rested around it. "It's this. Roy, say hello to Bill!"

"Hello, Bill," Mustang greeted 'innocently.' "Ash, there's a Know-It-All, level 36. These species believe that they are completely omniscient and right all the time. Sub-species include Book Worms, Opinionators, and Haters. Know-It-Alls may include one or more characteristics of the sub-species."

Oh, Ash's group was definitely inwardly cackling. Finally, someone else to be attacked by that thing. And it was a very good insult towards Bill that Mustang made up.

"Interesting," Bill hmmed, looking at it curiously. He gently took Ash's wrist, causing the other males to straighten up and watch him closely. Taking the pokédex from her, his fingers moved around and a series of beeps happened.

"Bill?" Ash inquired in confusion.

"No worries, Ash. I merely muted 'Roy' for the time being," but Bill was looking down at the pokédex with a grin that had a vicious tinge to it.

The others weren't sure whether to side with Bill or Mustang. In the end, they went with the pokédex since it was part of their 'group' after all.

"I see your pokédex is programmed for all the regions, so you can recognize all the other pokémon from the others, without needing to switch out pokédexes," Bill noted, still examining it. "That's useful. You can go to any region and identify the pokémon native there, without needing that region's pokédex. You only have Kanto's region map, so I could reprogram it to include the other regions' maps as well, if you'd like."

"Really? That's great, Bill! Thanks so much!"

Bill smiled fondly at her, before turning his attention back to the prototype.

"Pokédexes usually connect to the Transfer System, so that when a trainer has a full party of six pokémon, the captured pokémon after are sent through the system and to the connected laboratory. There's also a button on regular pokédexes that allows the trainer to switch out pokémon between themselves and where the pokémon have been sent to, so a Pokémon Center and the machine there aren't needed. I have yet to see that feature on this, so I'm not sure if you could use your pokédex to exchange pokémon, but it does seem as if your pokédex is similar to the Unova region's in that captured pokémon after the full six party don't get connected to the system and sent out. Instead, I believe, like Unova's, your seventh pokémon's pokéball and after will merely shrink and lock up and stay with you, and you may have to contact the place where your pokémon are being sent to and manually send pokémon there, probably through a Center, especially if there is no feature on your pokédex allowing you to use it to transfer pokémon."

Ash stared at him with wide eyes, though the others were also giving him their undivided attention. Much as the others didn't want to admit it, he was a very smart and educated man.

"But this is all a guess," Bill shrugged, smiling as he handed Ash her pokédex back (and after reluctantly giving back Mustang's 'voice'). "I have no idea just what exactly Samuel had programmed for it. It would take me some time to delve into it and completely analyze it. Though, I can fix the maps up for you right now really quickly, since I'm sure you might be getting ready to leave after eating," he wasn't pleased with that, but he didn't show anything about it.

Ash agreed to that, so she handed her pokédex back over to him.

"You know, wine –red in particular –would really go great with this dish," Giovanni suddenly said, a challenging smirk curling up on his lips.

Bill gave him a fixed smile from his spot where he'd stopped on his way to the exit of the dining room. "There's a bottle in the kitchen. Help yourself."

When Bill left, Giovanni and Lt. Surge went ahead and grabbed a few glasses and actually found the bottle of red wine quickly, going back to the others and pouring the red wine lightly. Ash pouted though, when she saw the lack of a wine glass for her.

"Underage," they all deadpanned at her.

"But-but –Misty's got a glass!" Ash pouted even harder.

"Misty is nineteen and only a year away from legal drinking age," Misty laughed at her. "That's against your four years."

"You guys suck."

They laughed at her again, before Giovanni relented slightly, handing over his own glass to her.

"You can have a few sips," he mused idly. "But only a few. And only sips."

Ash delightedly accepted the glass from him, carefully taking sips from it.

"You spoil her," Misty lightheartedly accused him.

"Probably," Giovanni smirked at her.

"Che, he probably just wants to curry more favor with her," Lt. Surge snickered.

"She's drinking from the same glass," Brock muttered, twisting a napkin anxiously in his hands as he watched her drinking.

Misty blinked and watched Ash, before turning her attention on Giovanni…who was resting his cheek on a hand and watching Ash calmly. However, there was no mistaking the slight red tinge on his cheeks either.

Well…aside from always wanting to let Ash have her way, she supposed she shouldn't be so surprised that Giovanni wanted Ash to favor him and see this as an opportunity to score more points with her. Or that she really would be drinking from the same glass he'd just been drinking out of…Wasn't there something about indirect kisses on that sort of thing too? That all just cemented Misty's suspicions as fact anyway.

That Giovanni was a complete sucker for Ash.

The experiment that they'd been watching closely was starting to bubble violently. Professor Samuel Oak wasn't quite the genius, but he could definitely say that something was more than wrong with it. He was about to call out to one of his aides, when the whole thing exploded without further warning, drenching the professor with the unknown contents.

Oak was definitely not prepared, and hadn't expected that to happen. Nor getting caught in the blast either.

As it was, he could feel the liquid literally seeping into his skin and then he was starting to feel like he was burning and then icy cold at the same time. When his mind overloaded with the sensations and the new "information" being familiarized by his body, it literally shut down and he'd blacked out.

When he woke up, he was on a couch and his aides were surrounding him. Tori, his most notorious aide, sighed and glared at him, catching him by surprise.

"I wish I'd been the one caught up in that lab accident," her red lips pouted.

"What…what on earth are you talking about, Tori?" his voice seemed…off.

"Sir, take a look for yourself," Robert, the assistant who'd first brought his attention to the malfunctioning experiment, handed him a mirror.

Taking a look into it, Oak stared in disbelief. He couldn't believe the sight. He looked young again.

It was amazing! He had his brown hair back, a definite lack of wrinkles, and his body felt fresh and spry again. He felt like he could do a few flips and not even break a sweat.

"Oh, we did some testing on you while you were out –" Tori began, but Oak looked at them all aghast.

"You guys tested on me while I was unconscious?!"

"No worries! We were very thorough," Tori chirped up, causing Oak to be even more horrified at them. "Anyway, we managed to deduct that you not only look younger, but you are younger."

"Er, what do you mean?" Oak tried to get a grasp on the new situation he found himself in unbelievably.

Howard, another of his aides, stepped in. "That is, the tests have concluded that your body did not just produce fresher and newer cells, but that it regenerated and literally 'de-aged' you to a younger time. The end results of the testing have put you at the age twenty-eight."

Oak stared at them all before promptly passing out again.

When he again woke up, he wasn't quite sure what to do next. His changes were quite obvious and there would be too many questions from everyone about what had happened to him. And if people found out what had happened, had seen what had happened to him…he knew there would be too many that would want to recreate the accident for themselves. As he'd jokingly said before, "Don't we all want to be young again?"

He wished he'd kept his mouth shut and hadn't jinxed himself.

Reorganizing himself, Oak had the others swear to keep quiet and keep going on as if he was there but unable to be reached, if anyone inquired about him. He didn't want anyone to find out about what had happened, and he also didn't want people to look into him while he stayed hidden. He was hoping to keep this all quiet and eventually swept under the rug after he'd returned himself to normal.

So long as the others went on as usual, then work would continue to go on and others wouldn't get suspicious.

Instead, he focused on traveling to the Pokémon Seminar, where hopefully a friend and old colleague of his would be able to help him out of this situation. He'd packed up a bag, left instructions for the others (he stressed that they should focus on the work they had been working on like normal, as well their regular duties –it would really help to keep the work from piling up and keep people from noticing something was wrong), and again directed them to tell others he was busy and unable to be seen if anyone asked (aside from not wanting others to see his new appearance, he was probably either going to stay hidden or actually be literally absent from there). And again, them continuing to work and act normal would help with that as well.

He would keep stressing how much they should keep working, those lazy aides of his.

The only problem with all that (aside from his dread that those aides of his would skip work and either laze around or party) was the fact that his old colleague couldn't help either, as it turned out, once Oak had made his way over to there. They both ran every test they could think of, look through whatever research books they thought might help, and whatever else they tried and didn't work.

There was just no solution, no answer that Oak could see.

It was the next morning when Ash received the call from Professor Oak, having decided to stay over Bill's for the rest of the day and overnight (much to the others' displeasure, who all just wanted to get the hell out of there). Only he sounded a little different and he was panicking and he just absolutely refused to turn on the video screen so she could see him…

It was very strange.

All she could tell was that he was in trouble, needed her help and for her to teleport over to the Pokémon Seminar, and to meet him there. In fact, he was already there and just wanted her to come and help him out, or at least just join him.

She was more than a little worried about the other by the end of the call.

After it, she relayed the situation to the others, who also looked and felt as bemused as her. Bill looked worried as well, slowly handing over her pokédex, which he had been examining and working on all morning.

"I see. I guess you'll have to leave now then," Bill frowned.

Ash smiled at him apologetically. "Yeah, but I'm really happy I got to see you again. We'll definitely have to plan out a time where we can travel together and go visit your mom."

"Sounds good to me," Bill leaned over and hugged her tightly. He lingered a bit, causing the others to stare intensely at him. When he pulled back, he was smiling warmly at Ash. "Anyway, I added some features to your pokédex. I made it an optional feature for you to be able to connect to the Pokémon Transfer System, so you can turn that on and then be able to exchange or send your pokémon to Oak's lab –I assume that's where your pokémon will be sent anyway. It's still not automatic, so your pokéballs won't connect and go straight there without warning. There's also…a special 'adjustment' I made to that, just for you. You can figure it out when you catch more pokémon," he gave her a sly wink.

She giggled. He wasn't done yet though. "I'm pretty sure there's a whole bunch of other stuff I added, but there's one thing I know you might really like. I know how you prefer Silph Co. and Kanto-based things, but I'm sure you really like the Poké́mon Condition application the PokéNav has, right? I might have hacked in, programmed and enabled a patch on your pokédex that monitors those conditions, as well as actual statuses that will show your pokémon's health and mood."

They were all gaping at him. And well, despite how many of the others felt about the guy, they again couldn't deny how smart and now how very useful he was. It really did pay to have a guy like him on your side, especially if he can and would do all that for you…

"And you know about the Pokétch Company too? Well, Silph signed a contract with them, so that next year a patch will be installed into the new Pokégears that will enable a 'Pokétch app' on it, so the Pokégear can then have all the things included on a Pokétch. I was the one working on the patch, so I thought I would install it onto your pokédex. Your pokédex is already made like a watch. Having a Pokétch too would just be bulky and too unwieldy for your slim wrist, even if you were to put one on each of your wrists. It would look odd too. So your pokédex utilizing the patch just makes it more efficient and uncluttered for you."

Bill wished he could have messed with the AI that was at home in Ash's pokédex, but decidedly left Mustang well alone. And as he was only adding and installing useful and beneficial things, Mustang hadn't interfered and allowed Bill to tinker with the pokédex as he wanted.

"Ugh. Ash, you have got to let me mess with your pokédex now," Lt. Surge said enviously, eying the thing with slight awe, now that it had all these cool features.

On the other hand, Giovanni, Brock, and Misty were a little put off that Mustang still hadn't insulted the lieutenant yet.

"We should get going now," Ash mused, looking at the time on the clock on the wall behind them. "Sam's probably waiting for us."

That was another thing. They hadn't really noted it before, but…was Ash referring to Professor Oak by his first name? They hadn't realized those two were so close…

"Well then, farewell, Ash. Until we meet again," Bill took her hand and kissed the back of it.

The others tried not to bristle too much, but the guys did glare balefully at the researcher.

Once again, Espeon was called out. Though before they could get ready to teleport out, Bill's eyes lit up and he was practically cooing over Espeon, which wasn't surprising considering Eevee and its evolutions were his favorites. Ash giggled and the two were engaged in a discussion about Ash's Espeon, who was more or less preening under the double treatment of petting from the two, as well as Bill's enthusiastic attention.

Giovanni cleared his throat, but kept his face unrevealing. "We have to get going," he reminded Ash.

Bill grumbled a bit, but allowed Ash to go back to the others, reluctantly letting her and Espeon go. Ash and he waved goodbye to each other, while the others ignored him and he ignored them back.

And then they were teleporting off to the Pokémon Seminar, where Ash saw Oak first. Apparently, he'd been waiting for her at the entrance…but she was completely caught off guard with his new appearance.

"S-Sam?! Is that you?" her mind just blanked and she ran towards him, freaking out.

The others followed suit in not only following her, but also freaking out. It wasn't everyday you saw a much younger Professor Oak in the flesh.

"In here," Oak opened a door to the side and ushered them in, slipping and closing the door after. "I've been hiding in here, while waiting for you."

He blinked and stared at the rest. "I hadn't expected you to have others with you, Ash. Although, I should have guessed, considering I knew you were traveling with others. Giovanni, Lucien, good to see you two. Brock, Misty, good to finally meet you."

Brock and Misty gave both shy and awkward waves, while Giovanni and Lt. Surge gave him nods. Ash just hugged him tightly and he smiled as he hugged her back.

"Explain?" she asked him.

He reluctantly told her, and in extension to the whole group, and the whole thing practically stumped everyone. Giovanni and Lt. Surge were looking at him in hidden jealousy though –it would be the best thing ever to become younger, even if it was a few years younger for them to be at the same age Oak was now. Twenty-eight was still better than thirty-one and thirty-two…

"So what are you planning on doing now, Professor Oak?" Brock asked, since Oak had explained his predicament and how he couldn't let anyone see him like this.

Oak scrunched up his eyebrows and frowned, before looking at the group in thought. He rubbed the back of his head as he grinned sheepishly at Ash.

"Got room for one more?"

Misty twitched, muttering how "It was getting way too crowded around here…"

Oak needed to lie low, so it was probably best he join them and pretended to be someone else for a bit. Lord knows what people would do if they found out he'd managed to de-age himself, accident or no accident.

He could just imagine Team Rocket (or any of the other Teams) wanting to get their hands on the mishandled formula.

"Are you going to eat that, Sam?"

He focused back in the present, to see Ash eying his last piece of tonkatsu longingly. But she couldn't help it! She was really hungry and it tasted so good. She'd been craving it ever since Pikachu had it back at the theme park. He just chuckled and gazed at her fondly, pushing his bowl towards her.

There was suddenly a commotion to the side of the yard, where they'd lounged and had been eating, taking a break before they would be getting ready to set off and continue traveling. A group of boys were intensely grilling a younger student, and was borderline abusive in the way they were "tutoring" him.

Ash's eyes flashed and without warning, she'd thrown her chopsticks at a dangerous speed towards the boys' feet, the chopsticks embedding into the ground. While the boys jumped back in panic, her own group stared at her in amazement, wondering how in the hell did she manage to do that. The boys looked in their direction, and their leader stepped forward.

"What's your problem?" he sneered.

Ash scoffed, agitated as she stood up and strode over to the group. "What's your problem? I can't stand bullies! You think you're helping him, but all you're doing is limiting his ability to think clearly!"

"Why you –!"

A pretty girl came forward and stopped the boy from further talking.

"It's okay, Derek. Let me," the girl turned towards Ash, smiling somewhat conceitedly. "We here at the Pokémon Technical Institute have a duty to make sure all students are performing at their best. If they're having trouble, we have to do whatever can be done, must be done to help that student before it's too late for them. You don't want to be like him, do you Joe?" she directed towards the younger student, pointing at an older student nearby that had been reading and looked harassed and anxious.

However, at attention being drawn to him, the older student looked up and stared in their direction, glasses flashing. Ash shivered and watched him warily, even ignoring the girl, who continued to go on.

"Hey, are you listening?" the girl finally noticed her inattention, irritably yelling at her.

"Shut up, Giselle," the older boy said loudly, an angry look on his face as he stood up and slowly started coming over. He drew a gun from his book bag, causing everyone there to freeze and panic, some students even screaming and trying to run out of the yard.

With the gun pointed in Ash's general direction, she really hated that she'd frozen and was staring stupidly in fear at the gun. She could hear Giselle shrieking from beside her, but all she could see was the gun and the angry, sneering face of the older male student.

She could hear the loud bangs as he started firing.

Started 6/9/14 – Completed 6/16/14

A/n: Meh, I wanted to get this out sooner, but my backup laptop broke and the computer in the house still working had no internet. Anyway, Giselle should have gotten a bigger reality check in the anime, than a pokémon battle. Still, she didn't really annoy me, and definitely not how Skyla does. Four more chapters are currently written up, so look forward to: Maiden's Peak, Saffron City, and Lavender Town.

Quick Important Points:

1. Bill: Totally more game-verse. His looks (plus clothing), his backstory and additional info about him (provided graciously by Giovanni and Ash), and even why Ash and the others come to see him with his in-game problem, versus the anime Bill who looks different, didn't invent anything and is just a young, smart researcher. The only thing from anime Bill in here is his lighthouse. His last name I took from his Japanese name (Masaki Sonezaki).

2. Jumbobus: To actually reveal something to y'all, as I usually just cruelly leave you with teases, yes the jumbobus returns. It is not the last you see of it or the Harem Club!

3. Professor Oak: I've been asked about him, so aside from what happened in this chapter and the fact it's going to let me get away with some things in the future, plot-wise, have y'all not seen "Pokémon 4ever"? Come on –Sammy! Sammy Oak and Ash were totally clicking. And the potential angst and everything, what with the time-traveling and all. That was like the last pokémon movie I saw in my childhood, and I was aghast at the lack of fics about them then and I still do. I mean, there's no fic dealing with the time-travel issues or of them talking about it or anything! I know the writers probably came up with it as some novelty idea for just that movie, but it could have been really cool f they incorporated it into canon completely. I'll probably write a full one-shot of it later on, but for now I'll work with it in here.

4. Pokémon/Harry Potter crossover: I put one out called "Il Silenzio Delle Stelle Cadenti", which is a Giovanni/fem!Harry. Much appreciated if you guys would check it out.

5. Sir Aaron: Still letting you guys vote. So far people are in favor.

6. Movies and Eevee brothers: Yes, doing them. Just letting people know, since I've been asked this a lot.

7. Italian: Sarà delizioso –"It'll be delicious", mia dolcezza –"my sweetness (sweetie, sweetheart, etc.)" –Obviously, Giovanni uses 'sweetheart', since he calls Ash that sometimes, Brava –"Good".

8. Drinking age in Japan is 20, which is what I'm using here. Likewise, Unova is more based off of America, so drinking age there will probably be 21.