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: Ash with a lot of people (mostly one-sided), Ash/Lance and Ash/Steven for sure.

Loyal to the Game
Chapter Eight: Land Bound and Water Down

Gary Oak, grandson of the famous Professor Samuel Oak and aspiring pokémon trainer. That was who he was. His goal to be the best was what he needed to be focusing on. He needed to only think about beating everyone and proving he was more than a famous progeny, only known and thought of because of the people he was related to.

But Ash Ketchum, his rival, had always messed him up and turned his head all around.

He idly glanced over to where his fanclub was giggling and whispering to each other, before sighing and staring back over the river. He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Gary, are you really leaving already?" his grandfather frowned at him. "I thought you were going to travel with Ash?"

Gary glared off to the side. "No. I told her I didn't want to and that we were rivals."

Oak rubbed his neck slowly. "If you're determined. I just thought you'd promised her and that you were going to stay by her side. You know I wanted you to make sure she's alright and that she had someone to accompany her, so she wasn't all by herself and get into trouble. God knows the trouble that girl can get into…"

Gary guiltily shifted. "I know, okay Gramps? I promised her I wouldn't abandon her and all, like her dad and stuff, and I know she's got those kind of issues…and I promised to travel with her when we were going to go on our pokémon journey…but I just can't. I just…can't," he said again lamely.

The professor looked at him in scrutiny for a moment, before nodding reluctantly.

"This is your pokémon journey and it's your choices to make. At least keep up with her, alright? Call on her sometimes?"

"Yeah, sure, Gramps," Gary muttered, not admitting that he'd never given Ash his new number.

He said goodbye to his grandfather and left, but paused outside of Ash's home on his way out of Pallet Town. He stared morosely at it before hiding his face with one hand.

"Stupid Ash. Late as always. Wake up, you dumb girl," he said, though fondly.

His hand slipped down and he stared with a shaky smile at the house of the girl that was his best friend.

"See ya sometime, huh?"

He walked on and didn't look back.

And now there he was, with a gaggle of girls that got on his nerves and unable to move passed that moment. He was sorry he had to leave her behind, especially since she had problems about being left behind ever since her father left her…

But there was no way he had the stomach to travel with the girl he was in love with.

Maybe it was cowardly, but he knew how he felt and he was better off staying away from her.

God if he had to hear the words 'just friends' from her, he'd probably break into pieces. And traveling to all these places alone with her (so close and yet so far away at the same time), knowing how he felt about her and her being oblivious, Gary knew he'd be miserable and unable to do it.

It's why he left her behind in the first place.

It was going to take some time before Giovanni's helicopter would come to pick them up, so they waited around the docks. In the meantime, Ash had looked over the railings and spotted a pokémon.

"Misty! It's a water pokémon," Ash waved her over excitedly. "Don't you like water pokémon?"

Misty curiously walked over and grinned. "Oh, it's cute! What is it, Ash?"

"It's a Horsea," Ash remembered her lessons. She pointed her pokédex at it and it gave all the information known about the water pokémon to Misty.

"Thanks, Roy," Ash beamed at her pokédex.

"You're welcome, Ash. Beware of ephebophiliac, class chronophiliacs, one located a foot away at level 56," Mustang said succinctly.

Ash blinked, while everyone else turned to Giovanni (gathered he was the only actual 'adult' there), who twitched irritably.

"What's an ephebophiliac? Or a chronophiliac?" she asked Mustang confusedly.

"Ash! Why don't you go get the Horsea and bring it here? It looks hurt," Misty intervened, just as Brock moved to intercept and hold Giovanni back, who had started forward with murderous intent.

"No murdering pokédexes," Brock muttered to the older man. "We cannot murder that evil pokédex."

"It needs to be destroyed," Giovanni hissed, narrowing his eyes at it as Ash handed it over to Misty, who 'claimed' to need it to research Horsea, but really just wanted to keep it away from Ash and corrupting and influencing her.

"Yeah, well, it's insulted me too, but I've dealt with it…Only why the hell do you get a high level?!" Brock just remembered that Mustang had appraised Giovanni at level 56, while he'd been stuck at level 0.

"Giovanni Rocketto, class Mafioso, known to terrorize others with just one look. Level 68," Mustang spoke up again.

"WHAT? He got leveled up again? And even higher!" Brock growled agitatedly.

Giovanni gave that look Mustang had been talking about.

Both men began striding towards Misty, who held the pokédex away.

"Hey, hey! Come on, you two! It's Ash's pokédex! We can't destroy it!" Misty exclaimed, honestly worried for the pokédex's "life."

"Misty Waterflower, class drag queen…or boy-pretending-to-be-girl or girl-who-looks-like-a-boy. Known to be flat-chested and has a horrible temper. Level 22."

Misty stared blankly at it, before screeching and hauling her arm back to throw the damn thing into the ocean.

"Eh? Misty, what are you doing to my pokédex?" Ash was back, with the Horsea cuddling up to her.

Misty chuckled nervously, while Brock grumbled and Giovanni continued to glare daggers at the thing. Pikachu had been left behind by Ash, though he had wanted to be, and was currently giggling quietly at the situation. He was definitely sharing this with Ash's other pokémon. They would get a kick out of this…

"Just…letting it catch some sun?" the water trainer laughed halfheartedly.

Ash shrugged and came over, taking back her pokédex and Misty eagerly trading it for the Horsea.

"Ash Ketchum, class jailbait. Known to be too cute, pretty and charming for her own good. Level 151," Mustang gave one last jab to the others.

Ash giggled. "Aw, that's sweet, Roy." She tilted her head to the side curiously however. "What's a jailbait though?"

Everyone's eyes widened, and they all broke out into loud clamoring, trying to stop Mustang from answering and from letting Ash know what that word meant. Just then, they heard an explosion and they looked off to the waters, to see a large ship on fire.

"Oh no!" Ash's eyes widened and she quickly flung out two of her pokéballs, while Pikachu frowned at not being able to help out his mistress. "Milotic, go over and get some of the sailors out of the water! Espeon, teleport over and check on the boat, and make sure it isn't going to explode and cause more damage."

Misty nodded. "Right, I'll send out Staryu, Goldeen, and Starmie to help."

Giovanni subtly shifted awkwardly. He wasn't a helping kind of guy…Glancing at Ash, who looked worried, he sighed and grabbed two of his own pokéballs.

"Kingler, Cloyster, go follow their lead. Make sure none of the sailors drown," he ordered.

When Ash sent over a quick, shy smile at him, he felt less weird about doing a good thing. While that was all going on, they found a boat and navigated it towards the ship. They had the pokémon start putting the fire out, once all the sailors were safely away, and then they tried to talk to the sailors themselves. It wasn't too good, since they all seemed too shocked and actually literally paralyzed from something to communicate back to them. One of them was well enough to direct them to where their boss was waiting, and when they got there they were greeted by a rather familiar-looking person.

Giovanni sweatdropped. The woman in charge of the men with the boat, looked remarkably too alike to the owner of that restaurant that had been a rival of Moe's.

"I am Nastina," she announced loudly, and a horde of good-looking and half-naked men appeared around her, fanning her and holding trays of things (though the small group ignored, minus Ash who didn't notice at all, how the guys sent longing looks over to Ash as they slightly cringed away from Nastina). "I've been trying to construct an underwater hotel at the coral reef, but those nasty and ugly Tentacool keep ruining everything! If you can stop them, I will reward all of you handsomely."

A whole array of delicious-looking food appeared, causing Ash, Pikachu, and Brock to stare and drool, although Misty was frowning. Giovanni kept his face neutral and ignored the food, watching the woman closely. He had plenty of thoughts going through his own head, that being that Nastina actually had a good idea and this was a good business opportunity.

Not that he was going to share any of the credit with her.

He also understood what Nastina really wanted them to do by "stopping" the Tentacool, and that more than likely she wanted them gotten rid of permanently. It wasn't…completely out of line with Giovanni's usual methods, although he didn't like pokémon dead. He wanted them alive, of course, and he made it a point to make sure all his agents knew that. It had never been a problem until that Marowak…

He'd shown how severely displeased he was about that incident in Lavender Town, and there hadn't been a repeat of the Marowak incident since.

Therefore, on this point, he disagreed with Nastina.

"… –You can have free dinners for a year, a million dollars, and vouchers to stay at the hotel for free –" Ah, it seemed she had still been going on while he'd been thinking and scheming.

"I think that's enough," Giovanni interrupted, "The full scope of what you want is out of line." He glanced disinterestedly at the flabbergasted woman, before looking back at Ash with a small smile. "If you were hungry, you should have said something. There were plenty of restaurants far back, and you know I'd treat you anytime," he told her as he began leading her out of there, with the other two following.

"But-but –I need those disgusting, foul things exterminated!"

Misty turned on her heel sharply at that, eyes blazing as she ranted at Nastina at how disgusting she was and that Tentacool were cute and lovely pokémon. But Giovanni was more concerned about Ash beside him, who had stopped cold in her tracks and he could literally feel her stiffening up under his touch. He gently removed his arm around her shoulders as she slowly turned to face Nastina, a dark look (very unlike the Ash he knew) on the girl's face.

"Monster," Ash actually snarled, eyes glaring ice at the woman. "You disgust me. You are a pathetic being who'll probably rot alone in life until death. I hope you're utterly miserable for the entirety of it."

And then Ash began to run out of there with Pikachu loyally by her side, leaving everyone surprised and Nastina about to burst out in anger.

Giovanni inwardly cringed. So he and his organization weren't exactly the best at handling pokémon and weren't…gentle per se. Despite his strict orders on keeping the pokémon alive, he also knew he could be rather callous and uncaring of the treatment of pokémon, and he'd even ordered last resort death suggestions (even if he wasn't completely serious, and his subordinates knew that he wasn't happy if this was to happen).

Perhaps, in light of Ash's harsh view regarding the treatment of pokémon, he should reconsider how he allowed his Team Rocket agents' handling of the pokémon he wanted. He felt…oddly unhappy at the thought of her being upset with him.

The thought of her being upset at all made him upset.

Ash was poking at her food, looking dejected. With Misty having brought the Horsea to the Pokécenter to heal it, and Giovanni sending Brock out to get Ash some of her favorite chocolates to cheer her up, it was just the two of them in the restaurant at the moment, with Pikachu pouting about the lack of ketchup and also about Ash's current mood.


"I was mean, wasn't I?" she stopped poking at her food and was looking up at him with wide eyes and a slight pout.

Mentally, Giovanni pinched the bridge of his nose. Ash was upset. She shouldn't look so cute when she was upset.

"I was mean," she shifted guiltily. "I don't like being mean. I don't like myself when I'm mean."

"I'm really the worse person to talk to about this stuff," he muttered under his breath to himself. He sighed. "Ash, Nastina is one of those people you shouldn't feel guilty being mean to about. You're a sweet girl. That she got you to be all riled up and be unlike yourself proves just how horrible a person she is and how much she deserved all of that. Don't waste any more thoughts on her –enjoy your food, sweetheart."

Ash looked at him speculatively for a second before nodding, and then turning to her food with renewed interest and beginning to eat with gusto.

"Mm! This is good~" she sighed appreciatively.

They heard a large blast and the doors to the restaurant burst open, with James rushing through them and towards her.

"Aaaaaasssh!" he wailed, throwing his arms around her and totally missing his boss. "You have to save us! We're all doomed! Saaaveee uuusss!"

Ash blinked, while Giovanni glowered at his subordinate. That buffoon…

"Er, what'd you do, James?" she asked bewildered.

Then he started explaining how Nastina broadcasted to the whole city that she'd pay anyone who exterminated the Tentacool a million dollars, so of course he, Jessie, and Meowth accepted and had gone out to get rid of the Tentacool with their special stun sauce thing. It backfired, and instead fell on the head of one Tentacool, that evolved into Tentacruel and grew to at least ten feet tall. It was now currently attacking the city and the people within it, and took Meowth hostage.

Ash frowned. "The coral reef must be the home of the Tentacool, and they're probably angry that their home has been getting destroyed while the hotel was being built."

That would have to be a detail Giovanni would need to address, if he was going to take over this hotel operation.

On the other hand…

"What did you say you did?" Giovanni growled dangerously, standing up slowly and finally bringing attention to himself.

James looked over to him, eyes widening in fright and starting to shake in his boots.

"B-b –" James started to squeak out, when Giovanni scowled frighteningly and shut him up with one look. Then Giovanni glanced over at a clueless Ash, and James understood he wasn't exactly supposed to go out and blab who the boss was to his frenemy.

Ash smoothly and nervously slid to go in front of Giovanni, laying calming hands on his chest, which stopped him in his tracks as he had started to loom threateningly and menacingly over his blue-haired subordinate, though Pikachu had been quietly cheering on the older man.

Giovanni wasn't exactly comfortable with her touching him like that. Or maybe he was a little too comfortable.

He clenched his jaw and made himself focus, looking down at the small girl, who was looking up at him harmlessly. He felt himself instinctively and immediately relax.

"Don't mind him," she scratched the back of her head in bemusement. "He's an idiot. Sweet, but an idiot. His whole team actually. Geez, I wonder why the boss of Team Rocket would ever hire them."

"I wonder too," Giovanni muttered darkly to himself, while Ash gave an amused and teasing look to James, who just gave her two thumbs up while sweating bucket-loads. "Ash, may I borrow Espeon right now?" he asked in a louder voice, though his request came to a surprise to Ash.

"Sure," Ash said as she handed over Espeon's pokéball, mentally relaying to the psychic pokémon what was going on and that she was lending her to a friend to help out for a moment.

"Go to Misty at the Pokécenter," he told her firmly. "Stay there, even if she ends up not being there. Don't go out to the streets and try to keep safe, okay?" He then turned to James, giving the other an icy look. "Go with her and stay with her. Look after her or else."

James nodded rapidly and grabbed hold of Ash's hand, hightailing it out of there before she could even reply back to Giovanni. Grimacing, he agitatedly took one more sip of his wine before standing up and straightening up his suit. Without further ado, he strode out of the restaurant purposefully.

He saw Brock not too far away, and caught up to the rock trainer.

"Brock," he hailed gruffly. "It would help if you could summon your Onix to help keep the debris from falling on people, particularly the falling structures from when the Tentacruel destroys the buildings. Your Geodude could help with moving the debris from the ground and keeping people safe from land position."

He felt himself twitch before his hand methodically moved and grasped a pokéball. He sent out several of his own pokémon and ordered them to help out with Brock's Geodude.

"Where's Ash?" Brock asked him before he could disappear from there.

"She should be firmly locked up in the Pokémon Center," Giovanni answered tersely.

"Is she…is she okay?" Brock asked anxiously, worried and wishing he could be by her side.

Giovanni refrained from giving a biting reply, since at least the other was genuinely worried about Ash, and his own anxiety about this whole situation and Ash's safety was what was mostly getting him riled up in the first place anyway. He had to calm down and use his logic like he usually did. Granted, he was still mostly cool and logical at the moment, but the rush of panic and the swell of emotions he was dealing with was not usual. He admitted that he largely attributed the unusual behavior to Ash, who seemed to make him do a number of things he wasn't used to.

"She's fine. Just…go hand her the chocolates you got her when you see her later, and you'll probably be granted with her beaming face," Giovanni uncharacteristically reassured the other.

Brock smiled in relief, and started to gain a goofy look –to which Giovanni just rolled his eyes at.

"I'm going to go now," he said, finally letting himself use a little scathing to his tone.

He left behind the floating-on-clouds trainer, while searching for an untouched and hopefully well isolated and out of danger area for him to be in. He found one that would serve his purpose and called out Espeon.

She tilted her head and watched him curiously.

'It has been a long time, hm?' she spoke in his head with a careful tone.

Giovanni frowned. "Yes, it has. I need your help on something. There is a Tentacruel I wish to communicate with, however I need your psychic abilities to reach out to it without getting in direct line of it and getting harmed, as it's going on a rampage through the city. As well as just being able to communicate and understand it in the first place…"

Her forked tail swished and flicked behind her, and she stared at him with wide, unblinking eyes.

'I have a new master now, you know…'

"I know," he murmured. "And I approve of your mistress and your loyalty to her. She did lend you to me, remember? This is important and your mistress' life is in danger as well."

Espeon nodded regally and then Giovanni felt her reestablish their old mental connection fully, before beginning to reach out to another, more foreign source.

'What is this? Who are you?' he heard an angrier voice in his head.

He took a deep breath and began ready to start negotiations, starting with the first business of saving the city before he'd have to lose money salvaging it.

"My name is Giovanni," he murmured aloud.

'Are you human?' it growled out.

"Yes, but that shouldn't be the focus. The coral reef was your and the other Tentacools' home, wasn't it?"

'Yes! And you disgusting humans were destroying it!'

"I understand that. And you are repaying that favor, aren't you? Let me ask, has any of the Tentacool been killed?"

'No, fortunately, but many have been injured. They are still recovering, even now!'

"I'm sorry to hear that," Giovanni said neutrally. Whether or not it was a lie wasn't a concern at the moment. Even he wasn't sure if it was. It slid off his tongue easily, and he felt no real emotion attached to the statement, except for maybe a slight ounce of sympathy (especially when he thought of Ash and her reaction to such news). Perhaps, a half truth then…

"Despite that, you should know that you are more than likely causing even more damage and likely death to the people here," Giovanni callously replied. "Are you satisfied? Does the destruction and fear of the people content you with what has been done to your home? If not, there are plenty more of the city to destroy and many more people left."

'…That is…this is not…'

"Stop then," Giovanni murmured quietly, Ash's image flashing through his head again. "If this is not what your end result is supposed to be, stop before it's too late."

'That girl…she's appeared twice in your mind. Is she your motivation, human?'

Giovanni twitched, having forgotten the mental connection broadcasted his thoughts, and that of course the other would see Ash.

'She's kind,' the Tentacruel hummed peacefully. 'Sweet. She cares…'

Flashes of images of Ash, not of his doing, went through the mental connection, and Giovanni realized it was of Espeon's doing. Especially since there were memories of Ash as a little girl, caring lovingly for pokémon in Oak Corral, Ash and Pikachu with the Spearows before she'd met him, Ash and Espeon first establishing their mental bond, and so on.

The Tentacruel gave a satisfied hum through the connection.

"She's not like most people," Giovanni commented idly. "Most trainers are like a step or two…actually more than that…down from her. But they aren't as bad as this woman," he brought up an image of Nastina in his head, agitating the water pokémon who recognized her. "Very few can reach the kind of person Ash is."

The Tentacruel was quiet for a second. 'It seems, that if at least even a few in this world are like this girl…perhaps not all humans are bad.'

Giovanni sighed in relief, and thought that perhaps this was finally settled.

'You wish to take over that woman's project, do you not?' the Tentacruel surprised him.

"It seems it is more trouble than it is worth," Giovanni answered guardedly, though he frowned at the thought that perhaps Espeon had leaked that part of his thoughts purposely to the other. "I don't think it'll be worth the investment, and it was a thought before it was found out that coral reef was your home. I don't think I'll be able to work around that problem."

'…Perhaps we can negotiate.'

He felt a smirk curl on his lips. Business, it seems, was business, no matter whom or what he was dealing with.

'There is another coral reef, farther away and more secret, than the one we've made our home on. It will be a longer trip, but you may be able to take advantage of it by offering what you humans call a scenery tour to and from the land to it.'

"I see," this could definitely work. "And what do you want in return?"

'Reparations. I want your help in rebuilding our home on our coral reef, as well those potions I know heal pokémon. The injured gathered will be healed and back to normal faster with this help. In return, I and others will personally protect whatever machine you choose to transport people to and from your…hotel and the land, as well as in the building process. We'll even agree to showing up and briefly entertaining the humans on your transport machine and at the hotel. You must also promise that your guests will refrain from trying to capture us there.'

"Of course. That would be bad business," Giovanni frowned. "That's losing money by losing the attractions…Very well, I agree to those terms."

'…I wish to also see the girl.'

At that, Giovanni stiffened up and didn't answer.

'She will not be harmed,' the Tentacruel promised.

"Fine," Giovanni finally agreed. "I'll see what I can do."

The connection to the Tentacruel was cut, and he was left with Espeon, who was back to watching him closely again.

"What is it?" Giovanni snapped at her.

'Your duplicity will cut her deeply. Be wary and wise in your future decisions, old master.'

She went back into the pokéball without another word, and left Giovanni with a foreboding feeling.

This was why he hated psychics.

He'd made it back to the main area of the city, and was heading towards the Pokémon Center when he caught sight of James running towards him, holding onto an irate Pikachu.

"What are you doing? I thought I told you to look after the girl," he specifically left out her name, not sure if he should show exactly how close he'd gotten to her.

James pulled at his hair, dropping Pikachu to the ground, and who scuttled over to Giovanni with a glower at the other.

"I know, I know! I'm so sorry, boss! But one minute she was there, and then she was gone! It's just like the twerp…Damn it, she saw the Tentacruel leaving after flinging Meowth somewhere near the Ferris Wheel, and she headed towards Meowth's direction, boss."

"Get Jessie and make sure that Nastina is out of there and not causing anymore problems," Giovanni scowled angrily at him. James nodded and turned to leave, when his collar was grabbed. "For yet another failure, I…" Giovanni trailed off. There were numerous things he could do, and were much harsher…but he thought of Ash and he inwardly grimaced. "I'm withholding your salary for the month. Now get out of here!"

James looked relieved and less fearful, and immediately followed his boss' orders, picking up Pikachu again (this further pissed off the pokémon, and Giovanni was rather hoping it would shock his subordinate a few times as punishment). Giovanni headed to where the Ferris Wheel was, and was confused to see Ash looking out of it in the water, holding tightly to the outer part of the Ferris Wheel with one arm and a semi-conscious Meowth in the other.

"Ash?" he called out, but she didn't respond.

He frowned. She couldn't…she couldn't be freaking out because of the water, could she? She seemed alright with it before, like at the beach. But he and the others were there last time, and who knows what triggers phobias.

Could she have developed a phobia for large bodies of water?

It wouldn't surprise him if she had, since he'd heard about the incident in Cerulean Gym with the electric water from Ash herself, and then with the whole sinking of the St. Anne. Remembering that, he flinched again, before pushing the guilt away.

It could be that she wasn't surprised and it wasn't unexpected that she'd gone into the water at the beach before. It was also not in the deep ocean and was in shallow waters, where she could safely reach land. He'd have to relay the new information to that Waterflower girl, who might be better suited to helping Ash with this…

"Ash!" he called out again, though this time she reacted a bit, looking towards him.

Her gaze cleared and he saw fear on her face.

"G-Giovanni?" she whimpered, hugging tightly to the cat pokémon and the outer part of the Ferris Wheel.

"You have to come here, Ash. Swim towards me. It's only a short distance," Giovanni said soothingly, but she shook her head and blinked rapidly, clutching harder to her anchors.

"I c-can't."

"You should've told me you were afraid of the waters," he scolded her lightly, taking tentative steps into the water and wetting his suit pants. Espeon could probably teleport her out of there, but she really needed to get over this.

"It w-wasn't so bad last time," Ash sniffled. "I-I thought I could handle it. I can't move right now."

He was waist-deep in the waters now. He was going to have to swim the rest of the way to her. Despite ruining his suit, he needed to get to Ash and she was more important than it anyway. Once by her side, he gently touched her hands.

"Come on, Ash. Just hold onto me and we'll go back to the land," he tried to unwind her arm off the railings and take her hand away from it as well.

"I'm sorry!" she burst out, sobbing. "I can't, I can't, I can't! I'm so scared. Giovanni, I'm so scared. Please, I don't know what to do."

"You have to let go of the railings," he continued to gently but hurriedly pry her hand away from the Ferris Wheel. "Ash, you need to let go. You're going to cut your hand on the metal!"

But she was shaking her head and holding onto it tighter, and he could see blood seeping from underneath her palm and a little on her arm near her elbow, where it was pressing harshly against the metal of the railings of the Ferris Wheel.

"Shit," he muttered, looking around frantically. "Ash, come on. I'm right here."

He looked over her and saw Meowth, who was watching with wide eyes. The wide-eyed thing was becoming common that day, probably no thanks to him…

"Meowth, talk to her. Do something," he gave the pokémon the order as he continued to search around for anything that might be able to help him.

"Come on, twerp," Meowth butted heads with the terrified girl. "I'm a cat, ain't I? We cats hate water. But I'm standing this, so you can too!"

Giovanni saw a tentacle in the corner of his eye, and didn't know whether to relax or not. Tentacruel rose up from the water, scaring Meowth and who cowered away from it in Ash's arms. Tentacruel reached forward and touched Ash's head, rubbing it soothingly. And then the water pokémon reached around her and rubbed her face before moving back.

Ash opened her eyes hesitatingly, seeing the tentacle hovering before her. She glanced at Giovanni, who nodded at her and reached out to grab one of her hands and lead it slowly to the tentacle. She held onto it and gently rubbed it for a bit, calming herself down as she focused on the pokémon and slowly relaxing little by little, before she sniffled again and finally moved away from the Ferris Wheel. She quickly moved to grasp Tentacruel's offered "arm" and held on tightly, as she looked at Giovanni with watery eyes.

"It's okay," he murmured, running a hand through her hair. "We're going now. You're fine."

And Tentacruel began to swim to the land, and Giovanni stayed close by to her.

On land, Giovanni allowed her to cry on him, her face hiding against his stomach as she hunched over Meowth, who let her hold onto him tightly while Tentacruel hovered in the background and gently rubbed her back.

Honestly, Giovanni should have fired the idiot who caused that explosion on the St. Anne.

"Everyone packed?" Bruno asked excitedly.

"Double-checked everything too," Lorelei giggled, rivaling Bruno's excitement.

"Blasted Giovanni. He owns Pokémon Land, and he can't even give discounts to his fellow colleagues," Lance grumbled, looking at the online receipts for the expensive tickets to the amusement park he'd had to pay for.

"Who cares?" Lorelei waved him off. "We get to see Ash in person!"

"Are we sure that's where they're heading?" Agatha made sure, not wanting to end up going somewhere that ended up being the wrong place.

"Yup," Bruno popped the 'p'. "Our video guys we have stalking her overheard them planning on flying over to there."

Lance scratched the back of his head. "They were supposed to be getting videos from the gyms, but instead we have them switching to stalking a teenager. That's kind of messed up, guys…"

"Oh boo hoo," Lorelei rolled her eyes. "Besides, it's all for the sake of the fanclub. After all, if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have gotten to get pictures and see Ash in that contest, or know she'd won. That whole thing is pretty low key after all."

"What are you guys up to?" their secretary popped her head in, and they quickly made sure their bags were hidden and out of sight.

They nervously looked at her, and Lance stepped forward.

"Nothing really. Just bored and discussing training tactics we should try out, for the next batch of challengers this year."

"Hm…alright. If you want me to get anything on that Ash Ketchum for you, just let me know and I'll see what I can do," she kindly offered them, before disappearing.

"Psh, we're good. We're doing fine on our own; we don't need your help," Bruno muttered discontentedly.

And they were so leaving there, at least for a little bit. It wasn't like they had anything to do, and was basically stuck in that place, usually training.

They were getting out, even if they had to sneak out of there.

Professor Oak nearly choked on his tofu.

Ash hadn't checked in for awhile, so he had gotten worried. Delia had been too, but Professor Oak admitted to lying to the other and reassuring her he'd been getting periodic updates from Ash, since Delia didn't have a phone for Ash to contact her. But since that wasn't the truth, Oak had gotten worried and resorted to an odd tactic.

He contacted Nurse Joy in Viridian City, and apparently he didn't have to go any further or contact any other Nurse Joy. It seemed that all the Nurse Joys were keeping contact with each other, and keeping an eye on Ash. He'd never known any Nurse Joy to keep tabs on anyone.

What was worse was that Ash had been in the news, and no one there had known. Having been sunk with an ill-fated ship that was involved with some Team Rocket plot, one would think that Pallet Town would know of one of their own being proclaimed dead, especially with one as popular as Ash.

But since she hadn't remained "dead" long before being found safe and alive in Aopulco, the focus switched from between her and the plot of Team Rocket's, to mainly focusing just on speculations about Team Rocket's involvement on the ship. And since Ash hadn't been available for comment or found anytime after, she'd been forgotten completely in the coverage, and it stayed focused on Team Rocket.

And then there was something about a Beach Beauty and Pokémon Costume Contest that she'd won, but that was a local event, that wasn't widespread or really paid much attention to. Anyone who'd care would probably be in Hoenn, considering the popularity of Pokémon Contests there, and especially with the rumor that the Beach Beauty/Pokémon Costume Contest tradition in Aopulco is what started the whole Pokémon Contests in Hoenn in the first place.

Hell, he should have given her his personal number or gotten hers, damn biases and accusations of favoritisms. The trouble this girl got into…

It was why he'd been really pressing for Gary to go with her. He wanted to make sure she was okay and safe.

He had to admit, despite trying hard to see Ash as family and only semi-succeeding enough to see her at least as a niece (sort of…barely?), that he treated her as and they acted more like friends. This he blamed himself on, since he was the one treating her as such first and she reciprocated, and it was just much more natural for them to do so.

He further laid more blame on Celebi, and more on his younger self.

What was it –forty years at least, since they became friends? On his side though. For her, it hadn't even really happened yet.

For a time, Oak had contemplated going into a scientific field that could explain more about time travel, and maybe even help him see his friend he'd made. But he quickly found out and realized, ironically through the memory of Ash herself, that his passion was for pokémon and what he should focus on. Still, he'd learned enough to know that because of the time traveling experience he'd gone through, that he'd caused a "grandfather paradox", in which there was probably an alternate timeline where he never made it back to his own time because there had been no certainty of him ever going back, and he'd ended up staying in Ash's present (or future right now). He wouldn't be who he was today there, but…

It does frequently make it into his thoughts of what it would have been like growing up with Ash, and having stayed with her.

He himself, though, had created a causal loop in how he paired Ash and Pikachu. It was standard how each trainer got a Squirtle, Bulbasaur, or a Charmander in Kanto. There were one too many trainers that year, and he'd remembered Ash had a Pikachu with her when they'd met. He'd intentionally set out to find a Pikachu, and hadn't actually showed any of the other trainers the Pikachu he had in his possession (like he had initially told Ash then). Not even his grandson had known he had. In truth, he'd made it so that those two would be together, like he'd known they would be as he'd met them as. Call it a predestined pairing if you will. He wouldn't have even conceived of the pairing, if he hadn't of met Ash and Pikachu when he was younger in the first place.

He chuckled to himself and held up a pokédex. Perhaps he should attribute this thing to her as well –since he would never have thought of it, if she hadn't of compared his sketches to her father's pokédex she kept around as a keepsake. Her own, the one he'd given her, was more advanced and he'd designed it with her in mind as well.

Ah well. That girl was a paradox of her own, while creating paradoxes.

"Sir, we need you to look at the experiment in the back. It looks…odd?" one of his assistants interrupted.

Oak scrunched up his eyebrows. "Odd how?"

"Dunno. It's not reacting the way it's supposed to. We're having a running bet on what the result of the creation will be," the other said cheekily. "Tori is hoping it'll get rid of wrinkles and make one look young again."

Oak snorted. "Don't we all want to be young again?"

Started 4/26/14 – Completed 4/28/14

A/n: Long time no see, eh? Sorry about that, but I promise I'll be around more now. I'm really getting back into Pokémon and this story again –you can thank me discovering Pokémon: Origins, then rewatching the original Pokémon on Netflix (as well as starting in on Black and White), deciding to replay my old games, and corrupting my little brother and sister into being fanatics (I've trained them well –they can now sing the original theme song without hearing it XD). Ah, nostalgia –I welcome thee.

Quick important points:

1. Reverse harem: Yeah, I think I'm pretty much all for it. It's fun to mix it up with the pairings, so I'll probably be writing this like the "reverse harem genre" in manga/anime (and JP roleplay games), where the heroine has a lot of guys falling for her, but with the fanon reverse harem twist in that the heroine does get to be with more than one guy versus how the actual genre has her choose one guy in the end. But totally glad everyone seems on board with it!

2. Suggestions on pokémon, guys: Totally welcome. Myra the Dovahklin suggested a lot of pokémon and guys, which were all interesting and many of which I considered heavily. So any suggestions anyone decides to make, I'll definitely be happy to hear them and will consider them seriously as well.

3. Giovanni: While I'll be working on another fic where he's like a pseudo-father to Ash (genderbent as well, because there have been other stories like that plot with canon!Ash), in here he's definitely one of those guys who like Ash. I blame Pokémon: Origins. Originally, I did have him as one of the guys, but after watching that special (where's he's so hot), and then being inducted into Ascendencyshipping because of that special, and then the Ascendencyshipping (because Red equals Ash dammit) fanart (OMG –especially on Giovanni), and then remembering how much I thought Giovanni's games sprites and artwork were hot, and just-just-just dfksdjfaljf! HAWT. Championshipping used to be OTP, while Giovanni/Ash was a guiltship sort of OTP, but now Shattershipping has shoved its way to the top. M'not sorry. NO REGRETS. Mwahaha!

4. Changes: Aside from the pairings, yes I finally changed Seviper's info. As well as reworked them all and future mentions to be current, and include the new regions like Unova and Kalos, etc. This story will keep to its serious/humor tone, but this time probably aligned with more serious stuff. As one person mentioned, there were a lack of pokémon involvement, so I tried to write them more in with the rewrite of the chapters. Also, all chapters are much longer, and I guarantee, starting from this chapter on, most of them have been super long –this chapter, and the rewrites, would have been out faster, but as I've been obsessing with this fic and the show (binge watching!), I've just been busy writing more chapters instead of updating.

5. Reviews: Please read the past chapters! They've been added to and fleshed out, and I would really like feedback from everyone on how they like the changes. And if you like this chapter, please review as well! :D It would be really appreciated!

6. Unrelated to this fic: Ash is still 10 in the show. Why, dammit? (bangs head against wall). At least, for this fic, look forward to some characters making appearances, rather than later on in the series, parallel to canon entrances.