Don't Leave

Pairing(s): Pearlshipping (Ash/Dawn) with minor Contestshipping (Drew/May) & One-Sided Penguinshipping (Kenny/Dawn)

Authors: Erin (BreakinDawn) & Bolt (EarthBolt-Infinite)

Summary: Two persons; a one sided love, both separated by one's rejection. But powerful affections never truly die down. Even a coincidental meeting could re-ignite and create feelings. Feelings of love in some. And feelings of greed and jealousy in others...

Genre: Drama/Romance

Rating: K+

Disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon or its characters. The story is a work of fiction and in no way shall money be made from this endeavor. Unauthorized reproduction or copying of this fiction is not allowed.

(A/N: Well hello there guys, Erin here! And Bolt too!

This story is another co-written story that we did for our very good friend and the other person we share this account with, Karen. Karen's birthday is tomorrow, you see. So Bolt and I had written this for Karen as birthday gift. So happy Birthday Karen, we hope you have a great birthday. :D

Ok, now on with the story. Enjoyyy 8D)

I don't know what I'd do if I ever lost you
All the loneliness I would go through
But if you wanna leave I wont stop you

'Cause I don't want you if you don't want me
To be the one the only one you wanna run to
Baby boy you know I've just begun to
Realize whats important to me
So Don't leave, Don't leave

'Don't Leave' by Vanessa Hudgens

"Hey, Dawn!"

A fourteen year old blunette turned around, her eyes meeting a pair of chocolate brown eyes. She smiled as soon as she saw who it was. A boy, about the same age as her, maybe a few months older, ran up to her. He had wild black hair capped a red cap with a blue Poke Ball on the front. A cute electric mouse-like Pokemon known as Pikachu, who seemed to know her quite well, was on quite comfortably perched on the boys shoulder.

She smiled when she saw him approaching and so did the penguin Pokemon Piplup, who was nestled in her arms. "Hey Ash!" She exclaimed, excitement obvious in her voice, not to mention radiant happiness. It was always a joy for either one to lay eyes on the other.

The boy ran up to her and stopped a few feet in front of her. The Pikachu jumped off the boy's shoulder at the same time she set her Piplup down on the ground. Immediately, the two Pokemon ran off to play, leaving their trainers alone to talk. The two humans sat down on a bench while watching their Pokemon play together.

Both Dawn and Ash had been very good friends. No one had been even half as close to either of them as they are to each other. And this was a bond of such beauty that quite a few others noticed. But with a bond this intense, friendship was seeming... Insufficient to properly proclaim just how much the two cared for each other. At least on Ash's part. For the boy had developed some feelings for the beautiful blunette but he had just been too shy to say anything to her… until now.

He thought- no he knew that it's time Dawn found about his feelings for her.

"Dawn, being in a place like this," Ash began hesitantly. Dawn looked over to him, smiling warmly which just escalated Ash's confidence about this. He needed to do this, now. So he continued, more confidently: "Being in a place like this makes me think of... How long we've been together and how much we've been through." A smile of his own came to his face as he said this, warm happy memories filling his heart, his expression lighting up even as the words left his lips.

"Ash..." Dawn said, her smile and voice both softening, "I feel the same way. Being in a place like this, serene, no conflict, with each other, just helps me realize how much I owe you for all you've done. You've been a friend I could only have dreamed of, in all honesty.

Ash decided now was the time, "But something else has been on my mind, Dawn. Well, maybe not in my mind exactly, but in my heart. Just... I've never felt these kinds of emotions before." He could no longer meet Dawn's gaze as he spoke these potentially life-changing words. "The way I care about you, and just how much you mean to me is greater than I've felt about any other I've met. On a... A new level, if you know what I mean."

Dawn's smile was gone, and she was now gazing at Ash with a stunned look. Ash wondered if she knew what was coming, and so, mustering his courage, he continued: "Yes, Dawn, I've developed feelings for you, as you may have guessed. Feelings... Powerful feelings." He stopped, shaking his head and muttering incoherently. Just say it, he urged himself, Say it!

"Dawn, I love you!" He burst out, in a very nearly loud voice. As soon as he said it, he wished he hadn't. It wasn't how he had pictured it. He pictured him holding her hand, looking into her eyes, and saying it with a voice full of passion. But, he tried to tell himself, that mattered not. He had said it and now awaited Dawn's response.

Managing to look up at the girl he loved, Ash saw that she had a more stunned expression than he had ever seen on her face before. She hadn't been expecting it, he guessed, either that this had been what he was getting at the whole time, or... Or maybe she always thought he didn't feel that way about her. Maybe even that he never felt the same way about her. This thought nearly overwhelmed Ash in bliss. Maybe, just... Just maybe...

"Ash," Dawn's voice startled Ash. It seemed... Empty. Even sad. This was hardly the tone he had been expecting from her. If his assumptions had been correct of course. Dread suddenly began to well up in him, as Dawn continued: "Ash, this... This really is sweet and wonderful for me, you know. Coming from you. You're more or less the last person I expected to love me in that way. But..." But what? Had I done something? Had I not been the best I could be for her? Or... Were we just not meant to be? All these thoughts rushed through Ash's mind like fierce rapids.

"But..." Dawn repeated, "I just don't... Feel the same way, Ash. I wish I could say I did, I really do, but it would taste a lie to do so." Every word Dawn spoke was like a needle being jammed deep into Ash's heart, and she seemed to know it, as tears began to well up in her eyes. "I'm sorry." She sounded like she really meant it too.

Ash said nothing, his mouth firmly shut, his eyes a mixture of confusion and sadness. This had not gone properly. It really wasn't how his dream had been envisioned. She didn't love him back, she just didn't. She couldn't. Who could, though? Ash thought, who would want to love me at all, let alone a princess like Dawn?

"A-ash," Dawn's tone frightened Ash, and he looked up into her face. Tears were now streaming down her soft cheeks. "You're the last person I wanted to see hurt like this. And worst of all, this is my doing. I'm the one hurt you, and I can't forgive myself for it. But it would feel worse to tell the truth. I don't love you, Ash, not like that. I'm sorry..."

The pain, the sadness, the absolute negativity plaguing both Ash and Dawn at the very moment was palpable. Both gazing into each others eyes, their usually bright gazes now plagued with sadness and hurt, tears now streaming down both of their cheeks, even Ash's, but his expression remained emotionless. Only his dulled eyes and his tears showed a fraction of his toil.

"I'm sorry, Ash, I just can't be here any longer, not... Not after what I've done to you here." Turning away from him, scattering a few tears, Dawn rose from the bench, wiping her eyes with her back turned. She walked over to Piplup and Pikachu, both of whom had remained oblivious to the events which had just unfolded. All the while, Ash was staring into nothingness, letting tears drop to the bench he sat on or the grass below.

Dawn leaned down and said a few words to Piplup before picking him up. Both his and Pikachu's faces were now riddled with concern, making it clear that Dawn was making no attempt to hide her despair. Why should she, she thought. She had hurt Ash...

Slowly, with Piplup in her arms, the beautiful, usually bright blunette, the love of Ash's life, walked away from him. And he didn't move, he didn't even look at her. And neither did he make any attempt to stop her. Pikachu slowly walked over to his Trainer, staring up at him sympathetically. But Ash's thoughts were focused on Dawn.

Above all, two words rose to his mind, almost involuntarily:

Don't leave me. Don't leave...


'That... That's the day I made the biggest mistake of my life.' This thought belonged to a teenage girl with blue hair named Dawn.

She had been reminiscing, despite her rather public situation. She had been remembering the day she had rejected Ash's proposal of love. And only later had the severity of that mistake struck her. But she stood now in the private quarters of a Contest Hall in Lilypad Town.

She had come all the way to Lilypad Town to support her best friend, May Maple, in the upcoming Pokemon Contest Grand Festival, which just happened to be held in Lilypad Town, to which Dawn had been traveling close by to at the time. Now, she stood backstage with May and her boyfriend, Drew, the latter and Dawn being there to offer May some emotional support. On Dawn's lap, as always, sat her beloved Piplup, who had been with her ever since that harsh yet unforgettable day.

It seemed that Dawn just couldn't forget it: the day she told Ash she didn't love him and left him. Left him, and left behind her life, she now realized. She had known she loved Ash then; she always had. That day remained in her eyes, her greatest sin. Even if it had been literal months since it actually happened.

And now, it was a solid certainty that if she could just go back and change what happened that day, she would do so without hesitation. No matter what else changed, she didn't care as long as she ended up with the true love of her life, all would be perfect. But she couldn't, she just couldn't.

It was an unforgivable mistake on her part, and would forever remain so.

"Dawn?" She heard and looked over at May, who sat on the couch backstage alongside Drew. "Thanks for being here today, it really means a lot to me."

Dawn managed to give May a small smile, shifting in her seat slightly. "Oh, it's no problem, May. I wouldn't miss this for the world."

May managed to give Dawn a small smile before she looked over at Drew, who sat beside her on the couch. "This wait is so nerve-wrecking Drew," she said, burying her head in Drew's shoulder. Drew wrapped his arms around her, "I hope the judges like my appeal. I spent days trying to put that together. What if they don't like it?"

"May-" Drew began but May cut him off.

"What if they hate my appeal? What if I don't make it past the first stage?" May kept going on, her nerves clearly getting the better of her. "What if the other coordinators are just too good for me? What if I mess up so badly and my Pokemon lose all faith in me. I can't let them down, Drew. I just can't."

"May, please, that's enough!" Drew exclaimed, finally catching May's attention, "you really need to stop stressing yourself out over this. You're going to do great, I know you will. We believe in you, your Pokemon believe in you, you'll give them a show to remember, no doubt!" May couldn't find anything else to say to Drew. She just smiled and let him lean forward and kiss her.

A pang of envy suddenly struck Dawn as she saw the couple kiss; May and Drew, both in love, both happy together... And Dawn couldn't help but feel left out on this regard. Though technically, she thought sadly, it was her own fault she didn't have one of her own to love. She didn't have Ash, and she was the only one to blame. It didn't help to quell her envy though, as her eyes remained locked on May and Drew.

Suddenly, a rapid knocking on the door snapped Dawn out of her thoughts and caused May and Drew to spring apart from their kiss. "U-uh," May muttered, smiling nervously. "Come in, please!" She said. The door opened, and in walked the absolute last person Dawn expected to see: Ash Ketchum. In the flesh. Just as Dawn remembered him from... That day. And then the guilt returned; all of it.

Actually, now that Dawn looked at him more closely, he wasn't quite the same. The months since that last meeting had changed him; he looked a little older and taller, perhaps even a bit gruffer. But generally... he looked even more handsome: his hair was slightly longer and not quite as messy, and his chocolate-brown eyes seemed a touch hardened. All this struck Dawn deeply. Aside from these changed features, he had retained his usual attire while traveling Sinnoh and even now, Pikachu, faithful as always sat on his shoulder.

As Ash strode further into the room, Dawn slowly rose from her chair, causing Piplup to jump off in alarm and look at his Trainer worriedly. A slight moan escaped Dawn; fear palpable in her eyes as she slowly backed up. Ash, however, didn't even seem to notice the blunette's presence. He walked straight towards the couch on which May and Drew sat, both of whom gave Dawn a concerned glance, but then turned their full attention to Ash.

On the other hand, Pikachu hopped onto the floor and trotted over to greet Piplup. The two acted oblivious to the quarrel between their Trainers, but neither Ash nor Dawn paid any attention to it.

"A-ash?" May questioned (focusing on Ash now in favor of Dawn, who seemed petrified and Piplup and Pikachu who were now catching up on each other) and Piplup in obvious disbelief, "You came, you really came!" Her disbelief turned into joy and she smiled, standing up and embraced her old friend.

Ash hugged her back, a smile of his own visible. "I wouldn't miss this for the world, May." Ash said, repeating Dawn's exact words, in a kind of unsettling way. "I'll be supporting you all the way; just like old times." He pulled back, smiling at May.

Meanwhile, Dawn had moved quite far away from Ash, fear and guilt consuming her on the spot. What shocked her is how Ash was pretending she didn't even exist. Not once did he acknowledge her or even spare her a sideways glance. But it did nothing to ease Dawn's mind. Ash was now greeting and giving his regards to Drew, smiles being exchanged.

"Thanks so much, Ash," May began, pulling back as well, "it really means a lot to me. You came all the way from Kanto, just to support me. I don't think I can thank you enough."

"Of course I came, May," Ash replied, giving May a small smile, "you came all the way from Johto to support me in the Sinnoh League. I just had to do the same thing for you." He paused for a second, seemingly hesitating and Dawn thought he might actually spare her a glance, but he just turned around and headed for the door "Do your best out there, May." He said once more, "I'll be rooting for you... Pikachu?" He called, still not turning around.

"Pika?" The Pokemon said, then realized Ash was leaving and said a quick farewell to Piplup and waved at Dawn, smiling cheerfully. Then Pikachu trotted over to Ash and hopped onto his extended arm to his shoulder, glancing backwards at Dawn, who only had fearful eyes for Ash, it seemed.

As Ash finally left and closed the door behind him, Dawn was still left standing in the far corner of the stage, shuddering slightly. She could not believe he had just come in, after they hadn't been this close for so long, and had just managed to... ignore her like that! It worried her; it scared her. Would he confront her alone later, or just leave as ignorantly as he came? Dawn did not know.

May managed to give both Drew and Dawn a smile, perhaps partly to extinguish Dawn's practical horror at what had just happened. "Why don't you go take your seats, you two?" May spoke, "I'll be fine back here alone. Don't worry. And thank you for your time."

Drew replied first: "OK, May, if you're completely sure, then we believe you; and have faith in you." He stood up. "I know you'll do great." He gave her one last soft smile and a tight hug and then said: "Dawn, Piplup," with a slight bow of the head to each of them before striding out of the same door Ash had left, leaving May with the still-stricket Dawn.

May looked over at the other girl. "Dawn, are you OK? Please, go ahead and sit down in the stands, we're about to begin"

O-oh, OK, sure, May. Sorry." Dawn said stutteringly, and slowly but surely, she walked over to the door, being sure to pick up her Piplup in the process, who remained silent, probably aware his Trainer was stressed, and Dawn appreciated that. Her expression was relatively blank and her lips were closed in a slim line as Dawn reached and opened and left, leaving May alone and Dawn just couldn't help but keep in mind that Ash had gone through this very doorway moments ago.

As Dawn walked through the corridors, further away from backstage on May's end of the Arena and towards the stairs ascending to her assigned seat, her mind and thoughts were a maelstrom and she walked almost involuntarily. She didn't even notice in fact, Drew giving her a concerned look as she passed him or even when she arrived at her seat. Looking around, she sighed, sitting down, positioning Piplup comfortably on her lap and telling herself to just... To just enjoy the Contest for the time being.

But how could she possibly do that when residing within the same Contest Arena as Ash Ketchum?


As Dawn awaited the Contest to begin, it soon became apparent she had sat down rather early. The seats around her were still steadily beginning to fill up, the ones on either side of her still vacant. Piplup seemed content with it, but Dawn was adamant for the performances to begin now; anything to help get her mind off of things. She was so distracted, she didn't even realize the seat to her right become occupied. To her horror, she didn't even immediately realized when the occupant posed her a question: "Miss? Hello, are you OK?"

"O-oh, yes, I'm fine... Yes?" She said, turning to her right, spotting a young man with an evidently concerned expression on her face.

"I just wanted to ask," The man continued, a bit slower this time, "Whether you'll be supporting anyone special in this Contest, or whether you're just here to enjoy the Contest?"

"U-uh, I," What the hell, Dawn? She told herself furiously, Stop stuttering! "Yes, I will be supporting someone special actually; my friend, May Maple." She said, properly, but in a near-panicked manner, and predictably, this did nothing to ease the man's mind. "I'm fine, don't worry." She said before he could ask, smiling a little to emphasize the point.

"Well... OK, if you're sure." The man concluded, his eyebrows furrowed a little and turning his eyes back to the field and the scoreboard, which was flashing advertisements presently due to the preparation stages of the Contest. Piplup was still calm as ever, and Dawn envied even him for that alone. The temporary interruption had done nothing to ease her stress. It had, however, served to intensify her fury at herself for being so distracted to begin with!

Get it together, Dawn, you're here to support May all the way through. Even with Ash here! But as hard as she tried, she just could not get.. Get him out of her mind. She must have been physically, shaking, for Piplup stood up on her lap, placing his fins on her shoulders. She smiled reassuringly. "I'm OK, Piplup. Promise." But of course, it seemed her distractions never ceased, she would realize as now the seat to her left was taken. And not just by anybody.

"Why hello... Dee-dee."

The voice was male, albeit quite high-pitched and had an irritating aspect to it. Just the sound of it sent a jolt of annoyance through her. Then again, that might be due to the nickname spoken. The one which, in fact, had quite a history. She sighed, and looked over to her left. "Hello, Kenny." She said kind of dully, but managing a smile all the same. "Nice seeing you here."

"Likewise, old friend!" In considerable contrast to Dawn's voice, Kenny's was energetic and cheery. The boy to Dawn's left seemed more or less identical to the time Dawn last saw him, as far as clothes went. He wore a dark green shirt underneath a striped lighter green and white sweater as well as light gray trousers. But similar to Ash, his natural features differed. His hair was slightly messier, he seemed fitter and a bit taller, but his expression seemed like one that was accustomed to being self-confident or even self-centered.

"So, why are you here?" The two said simultaneously. They looked at each other, frowning a little, and then Kenny laughed while Dawn actually managed a smile, her first genuine one in awhile. But it was an instantaneous thing, and the next second, all of her emotional burden returned.

"So why are you here?" Kenny asked again, trying to meet Dawn's eye, who had hers focused on the stage below, as well as a strange camera affixed to the ceiling above, not currently active. It caught her attention so she did not immediately answer Kenny. "Uhh, Dawn?" Kenny said. Dawn looked at him. "You seem rather jumpy today... Anyway, that?" He asked, pointing to the camera above. "That's a Kiss Cam. When the Contest starts, it'll revolve around and occasionally locked onto a couple sitting together. Not exactly sure whether it's automated or not, come to think of it." He scratched his chin thoughtfully.

"Mhmm..." Dawn said, pretending to be interested; anything to keep Kenny talking about unimportant matters, "And what does that couple do?"

"Come on, Dee-dee," Kenny smirked, "What does the name imply? They kiss, of course! Yeah, it seems to be a recent innovation in these performances, and I've seen a few. Never been caught on one though."

"Me neither." Dawn replied, now staring at her lap now twiddling her thumbs with her arms wrapped around her Piplup. "Never seen one before either, until now." And once more, Dawn's mind turned to Ash. This time she imagined herself sitting alongside him, the Contest in full swing with the Kiss Cam rotating overhead, searching for couples to lock on to. Then it would target Ash and herself, he would pull her close... Press his lips against hers-

"You're doing it again." Dawn looked around to see Kenny staring at her in slight annoyance this time. "Are you sure you're OK?"

Dawn was getting rather tired of that question, as well as of giving people a reason to ask it. "Yes, Kenny, I'm fine. No need to worry." That was the thing to say, she told herself, smiling at Kenny, who finally seemed content and leaned back in his seat. Together, finally, Dawn thought, they waited the rest of the preparation time in complete silence. And finally...

"GOOD EVENING, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!" The voice of the MC, Lilian Meridian, boomed over the speakers throughout the Contest Arena. Her voice was met by a huge cheer as all fans centered their gazes on the lone spotlight illuminating Lilian as she stood on the stage floor. "Welcome to the commencement of yet another Grand Festival! This year, we've been welcomed to a natural haven of Sinnoh, Lilypad Town for the commencement of such an event!"

Dawn listened intently as Lilian went on to introduce the judges: Mr. Contesta, Mr. Suziko and the Nurse Joy of Lilypad town. Focus on this, Dawn told herself. May is counting on you, f-forget about Ash for now! She would do her best, she promised herself.

"Without further ado, let me introduce our first Coordinator from the performance round! Hailing from Petalburg City all the way from Hoenn, I give you: May Maple!"

Here we go... Dawn thought as May made her way to the center of the stage. It was on now...

The Grand Festival was well underway now; May had made it past the first round utilizing a blistering Freeze-Frame combination comprising her Glaceon and Blaziken and Dawn had definitely been cheering her part through and through. Kenny was a neutral supporter so he cheered whenever something spectacular occurred. And there were plenty of those moments in May's appeal, no doubt. And now, Dawn's heart even felt lighter, to her ecstasy. She had nearly forgotten Ash was in the same Arena as her. And if he was, so what? He was here to cheer for May, the same as Dawn was; what was in the past was ancient history. Now was the time for happiness.

Ever since, Dawn had been unable to stop smiling; even now as the entered the second round. Then something returned to Dawn's mind: The Kiss Cam overhead. She looked up at it. It had been inactive for the duration of the performance round, so it seemed prudent to think it would come on during this round. Any second even.

"OK, ladies and gentlemen!" Lilian exclaimed from below, a spotlight once again centered on her. "We have a rather special treat for everyone here to get the audience even more involved! You'll notice an additional box has appeared on the scoreboard, just beneath the timer!" Indeed, Dawn realized as she looked at the electronic scoreboard, an additional pink box embroidered with light red hearts had appeared underneath the digital timer.

"Ah, this must be it, then!" Kenny spoke up, his eyes darting from Lilian to the scoreboard to the Kiss Cam. He straightened in his seat. Dawn couldn't help but wonder rather snidely why Kenny seemed to be looking forward to this so much.

Lillian continued below: "Allow me to introduce the Kiss Cam!" She raised her hand in an upward flourish. In perfect synchrony, the camera above had lights flashed up at it as it became active and began orbiting the Arena with a full 360 degree view. As it circled, the pink box on the scoreboard now matched the view of the camera, as it picked out and paused on certain pairs in the stands. "Be sure to do your part if the camera falls on you, folks! On with the performance!" Lillian concluded with a wink.

Dawn would only have a vague idea what Lillian meant by that if Kenny hadn't explained it to her beforehand, but this didn't seem to hold true for the others, as they let out yet another huge cheer as the battle below began, this time with the Kiss Cam rotating overhead, scanning across the stands for couples to pause on and have their faces displayed on the scoreboard as they shared a kiss.

The battle went on as normal for Dawn. She was still very happy how she had managed to get her mind off of all that stress. Actually, she felt silly for even feeling that way to begin with now. All the more reason to smile and clap as the battle progressed, even if May wasn't involved in it.

Periodically, the camera froze on a couple and a kind of siren flashed and sounded from the camera, the faces of the couple in the camera's vision then enlarged on the screen and stayed on them until they joined lips, whether willingly or by playful force of one, the other, or other nearby spectators even. It got laughs and smiles out of everyone present, and even the Coordinators couldn't help but glance at the activity above occasionally.

But then the enjoyment, the happiness and the lightheartedness all went to Hell for Dawn in the space of a few events:

First off, Kenny laid an arm on Dawn's on their shared armrest as the Kiss Cam swiveled around in their direction. Next, to Dawn's practical horror, the Cam locked straight onto her as the siren blared. As usual, the crowed cheered and smiled, but Dawn's mind was a maelstrom of conflict. T-this isn't right, not with... With Kenny! The crowds background chants of "Kiss... Kiss... Kiss..." Didn't help very much either. And Kenny was leaning closer all the while. Then, in the middle of looking around in panic, Dawn saw the only one who could make this situation even worse: Ash.

Ash Ketchum was sitting across the Arena, nearly directly so from Dawn and he was staring at the Kiss Cam box on the scoreboard in absolute disbelief and horror, in quite contrast to how emotionless he had been backstage. Now it horrified him seeing Dawn, the love of his life, the one who had rejected him... Sitting with some lowlife like Kenny. He couldn't take it, and Dawn knew it too.

So it was no surprise when Ash arose from his seat, stumbling slightly as he did so and looked around hastily for the exit. When he spotted it, he nearly bolted to it, and Dawn saw it all; he was all she saw and heard at the moment, even with Kenny closing in to kiss her and the crowd laughing and chanting around her. She knew he must be breathing harshly even as he stormed out of the Arena. Finally, he reached the exit and left Dawn's field of vision.

Everything sped up, but Dawn didn't waste a moment. Pushing Kenny away with an arm, she quickly picked up Piplup and raced up and down the isles, trying to pinpoint the exit on her side, passing Drew, who had been seated a row below her, who only had time to say: "What is it-?" before Dawn raced passed him, in hot pursuit of Ash.

Oh Ash, what pain had he suffered by seeing all that? What beating had his emotions taken?


"Ash wait!"

Those were the words Dawn repeatedly kept calling Ash as she chased after him through the halls of the Grand Festival Arena. But Ash continued to defiantly ignore her and continued to walk briskly; angrily. How could she? Ash's mind screamed hotly, how could she turn me down…for him? How could she turn me down for some... Some creep like Kenny? A single tear-drop escaped Ash's chocolate-brown eyes and made it's way down his cheek as he ran, flying off his face.

"Ash, please? Just stop, let me explain! Please..." Dawn screamed after him, her tone practically pleading, it sounded as if she was about to break down on the spot. but Ash did not stop. He couldn't. He wouldn't. Explain what? What's to be explained, I've seen all that needs to be known, just leave me! He bitterly thought to himself as he kept running, not stopping, not looking back.

He just had to get away from Dawn. She had given him enough pain to last a lifetime.

"Ash!" Dawn called out, practically lunging out to grab Ash's arm with enough force to stop him in his hasty retreat. She reached him but momentum carried her forward so that she lost balance as she grabbed Ash's arm and nearly toppled to her knees. Ash stopped still, but kept his footing, so that Dawn was able to regain her balance. However, she did not intend to let go of him after stopping him like this.

"Ash, please, just listen to me... Please just hear me out!" Dawn pleaded desperately, her voice sounding like she's on the verge of tears and her eyes held a desperate stare as her pained blue eyes met Ash's cold chocolate-brown ones as he had whirled his head around to face her.

A full ten seconds passed before Ash angrily jerked his arm out of Dawn's grip and turned around completely around to look at her. Stare her down was more like it. "Why should I?" Ash protested and angrily folded his arms across his chest, barely blinking, "give me one good reason, one logical reason why I should listen to anything you say."

"I'm so sorry about what happened in there, Ash; what you saw," Dawn pleaded desperately, her voice very close to breaking now, "I truly am. B-but-" Dawn began to say before Ash cut her off. He clearly wasn't about to have anything Dawn had to say.

"But what?" Ash demanded, with fury quite evident in his tone. "Things are quite clear from where I'm standing. How could you reject me like that, and then let me see you here with some... Creep like Kenny! It's almost laughable. Almost." He added coldly.

"I'm not with Kenny!" Dawn yelled, having reached her boiling point herself. She wasn't about to let Ash dominate here. When she earned no reply from Ash, she continued, "I swear to you, Ash. I'm not with Kenny and I never will be. There's only one guy for me and it is, most certainly, not Kenny."

Ash actually let out a bit of laughter. Mirthless laughter, but laughter nonetheless, before he continued, "Don't take me for some blind idiot Dawn; I SAW you and Kenny sitting together-" He held up a hand to halt any interruption; for Dawn looked ready to make one. "I saw you two sitting together," Ash continued fiercely, "his arm on yours and your faces on the Kiss Cam on the scoreboard. Now, what else would anyone make of that?"

Every word Ash spoke was a battering blow to Dawn's heart and stance. She nearly took half a step back by the time he was done, a hand raised in a seemingly hopeless gesture, all of her fury seeming to dwindle. But she wanted that fury back, she wanted to storm, and she tried: "I-" That was all she could manage before her voice and her heart just... Snapped. She lowered her hand and head, looking down, refusing to let Ash see the tears leak out of her eyes. Fury at being so vulnerable arose in her and she angrily wiped at her face, cleaning the tears, sobs now beginning to overtake her. He didn't believe her... He didn't believe a single word she was saying, and the frustration of it had converted to these tears.

Now, Ash's posture had significantly changed. He was taken aback a great deal; this was the last kind of reaction he had been expecting. The closest thing he would expect would be her to run away in tears, saying she never wanted to see his face again. This was... Entirely different; this seemed like genuine pain, frustration and regret coursing through Dawn. A pain of such magnitude that she had just broken down on the spot. And he did not know how to react. "D-dawn-" He began nervously, reaching a hand out to her.

"F-forget it Ash," Dawn replied weakly, after she managed to place a gap between her sobs and rub away enough of her tears so that she could look Ash straight in the eyes, her own being red from the tears that had flown. "If you... If you don't want to listen, fine, I give up..." Her voice was now beyond sad. It was lost. Defeated.

And it struck Ash deeply, to say the very least. She wasn't storming, she wasn't shouting, she wasn't even crying anymore. It just seemed as if life just ceasing on the spot would be acceptable for her!

Ash just waited now, his expression calm and at peace. He felt that when Dawn saw this, she would take it as a sign to speak her mind. And this time, he vowed he would listen intently and accept every word she said for sincere. Because this display of emotion from her... It had just changed everything. So he let her sobs subside, he allowed her to look up at his face and offered her a very soft smile when she did so, looking her straight in the eye.

"A-ash..." She began, her voice still a trace weak, but it was firm now, "I made... A terrible mistake that day, by saying I didn't feel the same. It was a sick lie, it was a sin; I can only see that now. I always loved you and you alone, truly and deeply, and I can't apologize enough for what I did to you on that day." As she spoke the words, fresh tears rose to her eyes, but she wouldn't let them pass; not this time. Ash himself was stunned by just how deep Dawn's words were; they were clearly hitting him deep.

Dawn pushed on, not letting emotion get the best of her, "I love you, Ash. I love you with all my heart; I always have and always will. Even when I did that horrible thing to you that day, I loved you, but I was too blind to realize it myself. I-I spent so many sleepless nights wishing I could just change what happened that day, I really did." She added, now pausing for small breaths, she was becoming so emotional. Ash himself now had the shine of tears in his chocolate-brown eyes, which were now so much softer to gaze at. The eyes Dawn remembered, the ones belonging to the boy she loved had returned. Dawn now waited, wiping her eyes to hold back any tears, for Ash's response.

Ash began to formulate a reply, not sure where to begin or how to respond. What if he messed up, he feared, he could make even more of a mess than the last time he was in this situation. Except this time it would be his fault... No! He thought defiantly, I won't mess things up; not this time! Partial fueling of this intent was the sight of the still emotionally moved Dawn standing before him, awaiting a response that could likely change both of their lives.

"Dawn..." He began slowly, being sure to mark every one of the words that left his lips with certainty, "I couldn't ever tell you how much those words mean to me, especially in the kind of state that I am and have been for awhile now. I-it was hard, I'll be honest, it was hard to even continue to live after that day, but that's not the point!" He cut himself off quickly as Dawn looked rather saddened by the mention of the subject. Ash continued: "The point is... I-I still love you, I really do. I always have. And I always will."

As each word Ash spoke penetrated Dawn's hearing, it went straight for her heart and struck deeply each time. Her expression was a rising one; like a dim light slowly but steadily glowing brighter, illuminating all around it, and bolstering Ash's confidence to speak further and more freely. And so he did: "What I'm trying to say is... Is that I'm still willing to giving a deeper relationship with you another shot. If you're willing of course." He offered a small smile. "I still love you with all my heart, I always have and always will."

Ash just smiled at Dawn as tears of joy now filled her eyes, and she smiled back. Pure unaltered happiness was now overwhelming her, she could not believe... She was so lucky... With all this and more swirling in her mind, she took a few seconds to compose herself before she began to reply: "A-ash, I-" But she was cut off.

She was cut off... By possibly the only voice which could ruin all that had transpired for Dawn, to shatter her newly healed heart on the spot: "Dawn, dear, there you are, I was worried!" The sound of the voice prompted Dawn and Ash to turn around in unison, but neither of them had trouble recognizing the voice, even Ash.

But it was only horror for Dawn as she met Kenny's eyes.

Initially, Ash just frowned at Kenny in wonder, no doubt considering his words. Dear?

Dawn however, had a blank expression on her face. Since she had been traveling alone, no one else present realized that this signified she was worried and afraid; but was just good at hiding it. What was he up to?

Someone else had come up behind Kenny: Drew. He had been curious enough when Dawn had raced out of the Contest Arena like that, but Kenny following her prompted him to follow them both. And now he stood some distance away down the hall, awaiting to see what transpired between the other three. Kenny came up and stood by Dawn, actually taking her arm, firmly but appearing it to be gentle. Dawn was stunned at his gestures; taking her arm, looking deeply into her eyes with... With love?

"Dawn," Kenny continued, in a sickeningly soft voice, for both Dawn and Ash, the former of whom was too shocked to react in the least. Ash, on the other hand, had a chill rising up his spine as Kenny pressed on: "You worried me when you ran out of there, my love, I just had to follow. And..." He looked straight at Ash for the first time, before whispering not-too-inconspicuously to Dawn, "What's he doing here with you?" Dawn looked at him with palpable fury in her eyes as she opened her mouth wordlessly, speechless due to her anger.

Ash was entirely focused on Kenny now, his expression one of stone. Down the hall, Drew was witnessing this all.

Kenny now spoke aloud, in a voice that even Drew had no trouble hearing: "Ash, I thank you for finding Dawn, but really... It may be because I'm defensive, but please don't think of intruding on our love. Dawn and I have had a rigorous journey as lovers, and I won't let anyone sever it; for her sake and for mine. Because I love her, truly, and she loves me truly, so it's only natural we be together forever." He spoke this all in a tone so convincing, that Dawn was shocked and so infused with pure hate that she could not move a muscle or speak a word.

And as Dawn turned her head to look at Ash, to just share with him just how ridiculous Kenny was being and how he might want to just give him a good kick - out of their lives, more or less. But as her blue eyes met his chocolate-brown ones, the ones she loved... It was like staring into the eyes of a complete stranger. His eyes and physical emotion were a complete void. No longer was he looking at Kenny, but now looking straight at the girl he had vowed to love moments ago with the blackest hate and anger swirling within him.

It was nothing short of terrifying for Dawn to see.

Kenny once again spoke after letting a measure of feelings between Ash and Dawn to be conveyed by looks alone, which by themselves was immensely powerful. Kenny kept this apparent facade strong though, his tone firm, yet soft and understanding as he said, "I'm sorry, you two... I truly am about how tense this situation has turned out to be. But yes, Ash, you can't be alone with my Dawn just yet. I think Dawn owes you an apology too." He looked to her, and Dawn inwardly smirked, knowing she could now tell Ash flat out just what... What evil Kenny was trying to accomplish to separate them.

Before Dawn could forcefully jerk her arm out of Kenny's grip as she so desperately wished to do, he let her go and Dawn gave him a venomous glare as she folded her arms angrily, before letting them fall to her sides before meeting Ash's... Ash's eyes? Dawn honestly didn't recognize those cold, harsh eyes for what she remembered them to be at first glance. Thus, her initially confident and furious-at-Kenny manner of expression faded slightly, even as she began to speak, "A-ash, surely you-?" Even as Ash interrupted her, Dawn cursed herself for the stutter.

"DON'T!" As the word penetrated Dawn's hearing, she would scarcely have believed until then that Ash was capable of producing such a ferocious tone of voice. Now that she was hearing it here, and every shred of his wrath was now being directed at her, she nearly cringed but managed to keep her gaze steady, even as Ash pressed on: "I... I TRUSTED YOU, I WAS SINCERE, I WAS ACTUALLY WILLING TO START OVER!" Kenny remained quite unfazed by Ash's storm, but Dawn was now in complete contrast.

She wanted to interrupt, to tell him how he had been tricked, what was really going on.

But Ash gave her no chance to do so as he uttered, now in a chillingly cold voice: "I can't believe I actually believed a word you were saying for a second, Dawn," He actually smiled, as cold as his tone, "Not that it matters now, I'm through with you. I'm sick of you tormenting my life and toying with my emotions like this. I don't know why I even let you do as much as you did to me." Now when he looked back into Dawn's eyes, it was the same icy look that he had given her when she had first stopped him in this hall.

"You and Kenny here have a nice life together, Dawn." Ash continued in that hollow voice, giving Kenny a scathing glance as he spoke the words before staring back into Dawn's now-hopeless sapphires. "I on the other hand would be better suited making do with what's left of my life. As far away from you as possible, I might add." With that, he just turned around and walked away down the hall.

Dawn realized it wasn't just Ash who was walking away. It was her happiness. Her love. Her life.

And she just stood there and let it all go. She was just... Too devastated, too hurt, she was sick to the point where she could do absolutely nothing to stop Ash. But she managed one word, with great effort: "A-ash! ASH!" She repeated, louder, just wishing he would stop and turn around, just wishing that something could make him turn around. But there wasn't.

And Ash just sped up his walk to a run, turning a corner at the end of the hall and leaving the sight of Kenny, Dawn and Drew, who had still witnessed the entire thing.

Dawn felt entirely nothing at first, her heart and mind a void; it was as if time itself had come to a standstill but she was still aware of her surroundings. Then the pain struck. Full-force. Hot tears of mixed emotions; sadness, loss... As well as immeasurable hatred and anger at Kenny to what he had just done. He had waltzed into her life, into this hall and just torn her life to shreds, as well as Ash's, she knew. All the emotion, all the pain just continued to build up inside her, and aside from the tears welling up in her eyes, she was showing none of it. Until...

"Dawn?" Kenny asked gently. Casually. As though nothing at all had happened.


That word, just the sound of the voice of the one who had sent her life to hell set her off like a bomb. Turning in the opposite direction Ash had left, she ran. She ran with her tears now freely running down her cheeks and off her face. Why? Am I not meant for happiness, for love? WHY? She thought, her mind complete pandemonium as she ran faster, tearing right past Drew who looked at her in astonishment as he made way for her, wondering just what Kenny had done, just how deeply he had hurt Ash and Dawn.

And just how firmly he had driven a sword between the two.

A/N: Well, that's it for now.

Karen, I really do hope you enjoyed this. We did this all for you so you better. LOL j/K. Happy Birthday again, Twinnie! And as for any other readers, I really hope you guys enjoyed this too.

Dawn: I know I did.

Ash: Grr, I hate Kenny.

Dawn. You're not the only one.

May: I'm with you guys on that.

Drew: Me too.

Erin: Kenny can wait, right now there's something we all need to do.

Ash,Dawn,May,&Drew: Oh right.

Erin: Here we go:

Everyone: Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear Karen! Happy Birthday to you! Yeah!

Dawn: Happy Birthday Karen!

Erin: Well, that's it. Make sure you guys look out for the conclusion. Hopefully, Bolt and I will have it out soon.

Everyone: Later guys! And we all hope you have a great birthday, Karen! 8D