Back again, and I've been thinking about some things. As I've been told, this story is getting pretty long chapter-wise, I am trying to end it soon but not rushed. Anyway, enjoi this chap and tell me what you think.

"Guess it was a good thing I left the mall early..." Ash muttered to himself, shuddering at the thought. He stood in his trainer box, smirking at the opponent across the field. She was a girl about his age, wearing a white frilly skirt with a black tank top and purple unzipped jacket, her short black hair combed down with a small bit covering her right eye. "This triple battle between Ash Ketchum of Kanto and Melissa Jenkins of Kanto will now begin!"

"Showtime, guys!" the girl called, tossing her pokeballs into the air and bursting open. The three figures were similiar to humans, but each had a special trait. The left figure had large boxing gloves on its hands, the right long and rubber-like legs, the middle had a cone-shaped head with a single point and small legs and arms.

"I always keep my promises," Ash said to himself, smirking as he tossed his pokeballs up, the three lights crashing down. As the lights formed, the crowd gasped and Melissa and her pokemon slightly trembled, shocked at their opponents. Ash's right pokemon was a towering tan dragon with small wings, the right a large green dragon with large thin wings, and the middle a large green tyrant with an intimidating glare. Each figure gave a roar, the tyrant stomping its foot and shaking the ground.

"B-Begin!"

"Let's do it, guys! Chan, Ice Punch on the flygon!" Melissa commanded, the fighting-type shaking its head and lunging at the green dragon with its frosty fist.

"'The flygon'?" Ash asked himself, confused and surprised as his pokemon had been insulted. The dragon glared at the girl, Ash saw this. "Calm down, buddy, she didn't mean it personally."

"Lee, Blaze Kick on the dragonite!" Melissa ordered again, Ash giving a sigh as the fighting-type lunged forward, its knee glowing a deep red.

"Again with that? Tyranitar, Stone Edge," several stones formed around the green giant, shooting towards the fighting-types and piercing their bodies, sending them backwards. "Dragonite, Flygon, take to the air. Tyranitar, Earthquake," the dragons flew into the air, remaining a short distance above the field as the tyrant stomped the field, shaking it violently.

"Lee, jump!" the long-legged pokemon sprung into the air, spinning its body as it came back down towards the large lizard. "Jump Kick!" its foot glowed, advancing quickly on its target.

"Tyranitar, Dark Pulse," the tyrant fired a dark attack from its mouth, striking the fighting-type's foot and pushing it back, exploding in the air.

"Top, Gyro Ball! Chan, Ice Punch!" the pair charged forward, one spinning while glowing a metal-like glimmer and the other with an icy fist reared back.

"Flygon, push them back," the green dragon hovered lower, flapping its wings rapidly and creating a powerful gust. The fighters stopped, holding their grounds barely before being blown back. "Dragonbreath," it exhaled a blast of green flames, enveloping the two fighting-types.

"Chan! Top!" Melissa called out, worried as the flames cut off. her pokemon fell to their knees, trembling slightly as they struggled to stand. "It can't be...That one attack was that strong...?"

"Not quite, Dragonbreath actually has a chance for causing paralysis," Ash told her, the girl giving a nod. "Now, Flamethrower," the green dragon released a stream of flames, incinerating through the pair of fighters and causing several burns across their bodies.

"Lee, Blaze Kick!" Ash looked surprised as the leg-specialty fighter kicked his green dragon with a flaming foot directly in the chest, he had actually forgotten about that one. "Now Rolling Kick!"

"Flygon, retreat," the dragon quickly glided away, the fighting-type's eyes widened as he kicked through the air and continued spinning uncontrollably. "Dragonite, Aqua Tail," the dragon's tail gave off a swirl of water, striking down its opponent into the ground, crashing while sending debris into the air. "Now, Dragon Rush," the dragon dived down, enveloped in a glowing blue aura and crashing into the field exploding more debris.

"Lee!" Melissa called, surprised. The dragon flapped out of the dust, clearing the cloud with its wings and revealing a fairly large crater, the small fighting-type lying in the center with its eyes replaced by swirls.

"Hitmonlee is unable to battle!" the ref announced, Melissa frowning as her pokemon disappeared into the red beam of light.

"...Chan, Thunderpunch on dragonite! Chan, Rolling Kick!" the two moved forward, one spinning with the other having a sparking fist.

"Tyranitar, Stone Edge," the wave of sharp stones darted at the pair, but they jumped over and dived at their targets. "Flygon, Flamethrower, Dragonite, Thunder," the green dragon released a powerful flame, its partner's antennas sparking and releasing two bolts of electricity. The fighting-types dodged into the air again, but the dragons redirected towards them again, the attacks landing a direct hit on both pokemon. They fell to the ground again, one sparking and the other severely burned.

"Guys, you have to get up! Please!" Melissa pleaded, the duo struggling to stand again.

"I compliment your pokemon's bravery, so I will finish this quickly. Thunder," the tall dragon's antennas sparked, two bolts of electricity striking the weakened pair, giving a pained cry as they fell on their backs, a sizzling sound heard as their eyes closed.

Hitmonchan and Hitmontop are unable to battle!" the ref raised his flags, Melissa frowning again as she recalled her others.

"...We can still do this, guys!" she called out, releasing a human figure with a spoon in each hand and a long mustache, and a pink figure with a crown-like shell on its head.

"Tyranitar, take the sidelines for a while," the tyrant looked back at Ash, giving a nod and growl as it disappeared in the red light. Ash's dragons landed on the ground, facing against the opposing pair.

"Dragonite and Flygon vs. Alakazam and Slowking! Begin!"

"Zam, Psybeam!" the psychic-type's mustache glowed, the tips releasing rainbow-colored beam.

"Dodge it," the dragons took to the air, avoiding the colorful beam easily. "Dragonite, Thunder," the dragon released the powerful bolts of electricity, advancing quickly on the psychic pair.

"King, Protect," the pink figure held its arms out, a green barrier forming around the pair as the electricity crashed against it, bouncing off harmlessly. "Water Pulse!" the barrier disappeared, the water-type throwing a sphere of water.

"Flamethrower," the green dragon released a stream of flames from its mouth, but the sphere changed course and began moving in surprise directions, the dragons watching it intently. Ash looked closely at Melissa's pokemon, the human figure's eyes glowing blue. "Ah, so alakazam uses Psychic to guide their attacks..."

"Do it, Zam!" the sphere moved between the dragons quickly then exploded, splashing the dragons who closed their eyes for protection. Opening them again, they were surprised to see the psychic-types directly in front of them. "Double Ice Punch!" both pokemon reared back an icy fist, punching the dragons in the chest. Both grunted as the psychic-types disappeared, reappearing by Melissa again.

"Slowking blocks an attack, then Water Pulse surprises and blinds the opponents for a short time, then alakazam uses Teleport to get close for an effective and powerful hit," Ash smirked, giving a complimentary nod. "Not half bad, I must admit. But there's one flaw."

"Zam, Psybeam!" Melissa commanded, the rainbow-colored beam advancing on the dragons.

"Dragonbreath," the green flame-like breath burst through the beam, advancing on the psychics.

"King, Protect!" the green barrier appeared, the pink pokemon grinning as the attack bounced off without effect.

"Again," the green dragon released another powerful blast, bouncing off the barrier again. "Continuous Dragonbreath, in short and powerful blasts."

"King's Protect is the strongest there is, there's no way it will break!" Melissa called out, grinning.

"It's not breaking it that's the problem," Melissa expression changed to confusion, wondering what he meant. As the dragon-type attacks repeatedly struck the barrier, the water-type frowned, a bead of sweat going down its forehead. "One final Dragonbreath."

"Keep it up, King!" Melissa called to her pokemon, the water-type's grin disappearing. Feeling weak, it began breathing heavier. As the green dragon released a powerful green flame, the water-type struggled to keep its mental power stable. Struggling, it closed its eyes and began to pant, the barrier disappearing as its arms fell. "King!" it opened its eyes again, widening as the green flames struck its partner, throwing alakazam back.

"Dragonite, Thunder," the dragon released two powerful voltage attacks, darting across the field at a high speed.

"King, Protect!" Melissa called frantically, the water-type raising its arms again. Its eyes widened as the bolts continued towards it, entering its body and giving a powerful surge of pain, the pokemon giving a pained shout. "King! No!"

"As I said, breaking the barrier was not the problem," Melissa looked over at Ash, confused again. "The pokemon can't hold it up forever while taking multiple hits. After utilizing past that, it's a matter of using the move's statistics for your benefit."

"Statistics?" Melissa asked, tilting her head.

"Protect is a great defensive move for blocking attacks, but using it too often too quickly can turn it against you. The move sometimes fails, I only had to keep attacking until that came into effect," Ash grinned, pointing at the weak water-type struggling to stand, sparks jumping across its body. "Thunder," the dragon released another pair of bolts, shocking the water-type again. Sparks coursing painfully through its body, it dropped to its knees with a grunt.

"King, please get up!" Melissa pleaded, the water-type panting from the two super-effective shocks.

"Finish with Thunder," the dragon's antennas sparked, glowing a bright yellow as electricity formed and burst from the tips towards the weak water-type.

"King, please!" she shouted, shaking her head with her eyes clenched shut. Hearing the electricity sizzle, she waited for the sound of her pokemon falling. Nothing happened. "What...?"

"But how...?" Ash muttered, surprised to see a glowing yellow square protecting the water-type. Both trainers looked behind Melissa, surprised to see alakazam covered in scratches in marks, holding its arm out with the spoon glowing yellow.

"Zam, you're okay! Your Light Screen just saved King!" the psychic-type nodded, moving back beside its partner with a grin.

"So it was Light Screen...Impressive, I'm surprised you're able to stand so quickly after direct hit from Dragonbreath," Ash stated, smirking.

"Zam, let's use Shadow Ball!" the psychic-type formed a purple sphere between its hands, throwing it towards the dragons.

"They'll most likely use the same strategy, so fly towards them ," the dragons flew quickly in the air, closing in on the psychic pair.

"King, Water Pulse! Zam, Psybeam!" the rainbow beam and sphere of water moved through the air towards the dragons.

"Dragon Claw, both of you," both dragon's claws glowed blue, slashing down the opposing attacks and stopping in the air. "Dragonite, Dragon Rush. Flygon, Dragonbreath."

"Zam, explode the Shadow Ball!" the purple sphere floated between the dragons, exploding and surprising them. "Now double Ice Punch!" the pair disappeared, reappearing above the dragons and striking them with a cold fist. A chunk of cie formed on each of their backs, slowly forming over the base of their wings. The dragons grunted, unable to move their wings and falling from the air. "Ice Punch again!"

"Light Flamethrower and Dragon Claw," the green dragon looked at its partner, releasing a weak flame on its back. The ice quickly melted down to a liquid, the dragon bringing its arm over and slashing the ice with glowing claws, instantly shattering. Both dragons moved off the ground, quickly moving away as the pokemon struck the ground, pillars of ice rising around their fists.

"You can't dodge forever! Water Pulse and Shadow Ball!" Melissa called, the sphere of water and purple energy moving towards the flying dragons.

"Circle back around and gain speed," both dragons moved faster through the air, wind catching off their wings and increasing their speed as they circled around. Both dragons charged towards the psychic-types, a grin on their faces. "Steel Wing and Dragon Rush, full power."

"Think again! King, Protect!" the water-type held up its arms, a green barrier forming around the pair as the dragons advanced.

"Can your weakened pokemon's Protect really take two attacks?" Ash asked, Melissa gritting her teeth as she looked concerned towards slowking. The green dragon's wings glowing a gleaming silver and its partner's body enveloped in a powerful blue aura both crashed into the barrier, a determined grin on their faces as they pushed against the barrier. The water-type's eyes widened, feeling weak as its mental stability began to waver from the two direct attacks. The barrier suddenly shattered, the dragons crashing through and into the psychic-types, pushing them with brute force into the wall in an explosion of the wall's structure.

"King! Zam!" Melissa called, surprised as her barrier had been shattered so easily.

"Protect can easily hold one, but two powerful attacks like that can easily break through," Ash smirked, watching his dragons fly out of the cloud of dust. they flapped their wings to clear it faster, revealing the two figures pushed into the wall with swirls for eyes.

"Slowking and Alakazam are unable to battle!" the ref announced, Melissa frowning as she recalled her pair. She gritted her teeth, lowering her head and giving a quiet laugh as she pulled her final pokeball.

"...It's your mistake..." Ash looked confused at the girl, seeing her lips moving but not hearing her voice. She was speaking too quietly, but her head suddenly snapped up with a grin. "You'll regret forcing me to my final pokemon!" she tossed the sphere into the air, the blue light bursting from the center and striking the field. Quickly taking form, the blue flash faded and revealed a large blue turtle.

"A blastoise..." Ash grinned, watching the turtle release two cannons from its shell, giving a battle cry. "Dragonite, Flygon, return," the two dragons nodded, looking back at their trainer as they disappeared in the lights. Ash pulled another pokeball from his belt, looking intently at the center. "...it was a good idea I took you on my team..." he muttered, tossing the sphere into the air. The light burst straight down, hitting the field and taking form. As the light faded, the crowd gasped as another turtle stood.

"You have a blastoise, too?" Melissa asked, eyes wide as she stared at the turtle. She couldn't help but notice Ash's was slightly larger than hers, with a more intimidating expression.

"I thought this would be a fitting battle," Ash called out, the turtle grinning with a nod, releasing the cannons from its shoulders.

"Blastoise vs. Blastoise! Begin!"

"Blast, Hydro Pump!" Melissa called, the turtle releasing two powerful blasts of water.

"Hydro Pump," Ash's turtle did the same, both attacks colliding at the center and cancelling the other out. "So we're even."

"Water Pledge!" the turtle formed a puddle at its feet, crossing the field at a surprising speed until it was beneath Ash's turtle's feet. Bursting into a pillar of water, the turtle was slowly lifted into the air from the sudden force.

"Retreat and spin," the turtle disappeared inside its shell, spinning its body until the shell was rotating at a high speed. Digging through the water's force, the shell slowly began to decrease in elevation from the ground.

"Hydro Pump again! Then Flash Cannon!" the turtle fired another powerful twin-jet of water, pushing the turtle's shell off the water pillar. The water suddenly changed from water to a silver beam, exploding on contact with the turtle's shell. "Yeah! That's how we do it!"

"Good tactics, but not power," Ash stated, the dust clearing and revealing the turtle standing perfectly fine. Melissa gasped, the turtle looking surprised. "Show them a Flash Cannon with power," Ash's turtle released a twin-beam of silver energy from its cannons, exploding on the turtle's chest.

"Blast!" the turtle stumbled back a few steps, shaking its head from the powerful hit. "Use Gyro Ball!" the turtle retreated into its shell, spinning rapidly and advancing on Ash's turtle with a silver glow.

"Hydro Pump," the turtle released an intense blast of water from its cannons, pushing the glowing turtle back slowly. Its speed decreased, getting slower and slower from the opposing force. "Now Ice beam," the water changed to beams of ice, suddenly striking the turtle and freezing it solid in a block of ice.

"Blast!" Melissa gasped, surprised as her turtle became frozen in ice.

"Flash Cannon," the silver beams exploded on the turtle, the ice shattering and sending it back to Melissa. The turtle stood again, stumbling and regaining its footing. "Again."

"Water Pledge!" the silver beams were stopped by a sudden pillar of water, blocking the attack. "Now Hydro Pump!"

"Counter it," the two blasts of water cancelled the other, both turtles looking at the other with determination. "Ice Beam."

"Flash Cannon!" the attacks collided, exploding at close range. Melissa's turtle charged into the smoke, hoping for a surprise attack under the smoke for cover.

"Clear the smoke and Flash Cannon," the smoke began swirling around Melissa's water-type, then it gasped as it noticed the smoke suddenly disappearing. Ash's turtle stopped spinning, extending its limbs from its shell again with a grin as it fired the silver beams, exploding on the turtle again.

"Blast!" it stumbled back again, panting with a glare at the opponent turtle. "Are you okay?"

"Blastoise, let's finish this," the turtle nodded, targeting its twin cannons on the weak turtle. "Hydro Cannon," the turtle focused, releasing a glowing sphere of water at a high speed towards the turtle.

"Hydro Cannon? Blast, you have to dodge!" Melissa called frantically, recognizing the attack. Her eyes widened, noticing the turtle only breathing heavy on the spot. "Blast!"

"It's over now," Ash smirked, crossing his arms. The ultimate water-type attack got closer to the turtle, but it remained motionless with its head low, eyes closed.

"Blaaast!" Melissa shouted, the turtle's eyes snapping open with a deep-blue glow. It snapped its head up, holding its arms forward and blocking the powerful attack, suddenly fading away in its palms.

"What?" Ash's eyes widened, watching his attack disappear in the turtle's palms. The attack completely disappeared, the turtle's arms glowed blue and spread across its body, a flame-like aura emerging from its cannons. The turtle looked at Ash's with a grin, its eyes glowing. Ash noticed this, his lips curling into a grin.

"Blast?" Melissa asked, her lips curling into a smile as her pokemon was still standing. The turtle looked back, grinning with a nod. "You're okay! This is great!"

"Thanks to your blastoise's ability," Melissa looked over at Ash, who stood calmly with a grin. "What you're witnessing is Torrent, an ability that amplifies water-type pokemon when they're weak."

"This is Torrent?" Melissa looked curiously at the turtle, who aimed its cannons at Ash's turtle. A jet of water shot from the cannons, which suddenly grew much larger, surprising Ash and his turtle. Ash's turtle retreated into its shell, being pushed into the wall behind Ash. "Was that...Hydro Pump? That was awesome!"

"As I said, Torrent powers up water-type pokemon. That includes their attacks," Ash called to her, his turtle standing again. "Flash Cannon," the silver beams darted at the empowered turtle.

"Alright, Flash Cannon!" the turtle released its own silver beams, exploding against the opposing attack. "Now, a super-powered Water Pledge!" a puddle formed below the turtle, moving across the field quickly under Ash's water-type.

"Spin," the turtle spun in its shell, blasted into the air by a massive pillar of water. The turtle remained on the top, spinning. "Skip off the water," the turtle began bouncing on the water's surface, jumping off the pillar and landing back on the ground.

"Let's finish this, Blast! Full power Hydro Pump!" the turtle's cannons targeted the opposing turtle, firing a massive blast of water.

"Blastoise, Hydro Cannon," Ash's turtle fired the glowing sphere of water, colliding with the opposing attack at the field's center. Both sides pushed to overpower the other, then one attack was suddenly defeated and pushed back. The sphere pushed through the jet of water until it reached the turtle, turning into an explosion of water.

"Blast!" Melissa shouted, watching her turtle receive the strongest water-type attack at close range. The turtle stood for a few moments, then shook its head rapidly. "You're okay! Thank goodness!" she sighed in relief, smiling. Suddenly the turtle fell on its chest, the girl giving a gasp. "Blast!"

"Melissa's Blastoise is unable to battle! This match goes to Blastoise and Ash Ketchum of Kanto!"

"Good job, big guy," Ash smiled, petting the turtle's shell. The turtle nodded with a grin, the trainer recalling the water-type and moving towards his opponent.

"Blast, are you okay?" the turtle nodded weakly, the girl recalling the turtle. "Take a nice long rest, you deserve it after that."

"Melissa," she looked up, seeing Ash holding his hand out with a smile. "That was a great battle, you know. I really was no fluke you got this far." the girl got to her feet, shaking her head with a smile.

"Thank you, but I got to this point from pure luck. On the other hand, you managed to get here without breaking a sweat, and your blastoise even managed to defeat mine when it was powered by Torrent. I guess somewhere along the road, there's always a trainer better than you," she put her hand in his, a warm smile on her lips as they shook. "Thanks for this great opportunity, I guess I have more to work on than strategy."

"If you put your mind to it, you'll go far. And when you do, I'd be honored to have a rematch," he told her, taking his hand from hers. Her cheeks turned pink, reaching into her jacket's pocket and pulling a piece of paper.

"Here," she placed the paper in his hand, smiling. "If you ever get back to Kanto, give me a call, 'kay?" with that, she skipped off happily from the raven-haired trainer, leaving him confused. He looked down at the paper, reading a series of numbers.

"...Must be for the rematch," he told himself, pocketing the paper and walking towards the doorway.


"Where did that guy go? Zo must have really chased him to hiding," Hilda stated, looking around with hands on her hips.

"You said it, the guy's just gone," Hilbert added, arms behind his head. "Besides, wouldn't he be running from Paul anyway? You know, from before?"

"Eh, I can't keep track of this stuff anymore," Hilda shrugged, the male rolling his eyes. She glared at him discreetly, then looked towards the trees curiously. "Hilbert...Was it a good idea to release Zo?"

"Let's say sure. Why?" he asked.

"I'm just thinking...If she has found Ash and is teasing him about this super-special secret of his, what would Ash be thinking?" she asked, looking at him.

"Why won't you shut up? Can you please shut up? Can't you go annoy someone else?" Hilbert listed jokingly, chuckling lightly.

"I'm serious, Hilbert," the man flinched, expecting a punch to the shoulder but not getting anything. He sighed in relief. "If he put Zo in her pokeball before, would he wonder how she got out?"

"...Well, yeah, I guess logically," he shrugged, then his body froze up. his eyes widened, looking at the girl. "...His first thought would be tracing it back to us."

"So he'll blame us for releasing her, initially blaming us for everything she says, attempts to bribe with and blackmailing him," she stated, the young man nodding. They stared at each other in silence for a few moments, then they gulped.

"...Who do you think it will be? Charizard of Krookodile?"

"I don't know, and I don't want to find out!" she sprinted away from him, following closely behind at the fearsome thought of being alone with Ash hunting them.

"Where are we going?" he asked, struggling to keep up.

"We're going to hide out in the battle arenas, he wouldn't order his pokemon to hunt us if it ruined another trainer's battle!" Hilda told him, the man nodding in understanding. Sprinting around the corner, their eyes widened as they dug their heels into the ground. Unable to stop soon enough, they slammed into the person with sudden screams of fear.

"Aagh!" the trainer grunted, feeling himself shoved to the ground. He groaned, rubbing his head as supported himself with his arm. Opening his eyes in confusion, he was surprised to see familiar faces. "Hilbert? Hilda?"

"Ow...Damn..." Hilbert muttered, wincing as he felt weight on his chest.

"Ow...That hurt..." Hilda muttered, opening her eyes from the collision. Looking down, she was confused to see some kind of blue fabric. A familiar fabric.

"Oow...My chest..." he groaned, moving his arms under his backside to hold himself up. Looking down, his eyes widened. Their surprised eyes met, Hilda lying on top of Hilbert with her head slightly lower than this. Their faces burned red, the heat rivaling that of a fire-type.

"Well, at least you're finally embracing it," Ash said, standing and brushing his legs. He looked at the pair, who turned back to him with anger. Their expression suddenly changed to horror, remembering why they were trying to hide from him, quickly sliding back on the ground. Their backs hitting a wall, they wrapped their arms around each other protectively with a terrified look. "An hour ago you were at each other's throats, now you're hugging. Isn't this more fitting?"

"A...A..." he looked oddly at his male friend, his voice couldn't even finish a single word. What was up with him?

"Hilda, mind telling me what's wrong?" Ash asked, looking at the girl.

"...A...A..." he sighed, shaking his head and rubbing the nose arch between his eyes.

"Alright, seems we're going to need a speech lesson here," he muttered, taking a breath. "Alright, shake for no and nod for yes."

"It wasn't us!" Hilbert blurted, confusing the trainer.

"What wasn't you?" Ash asked, arching an eyebrow. He covered his mouth, the pair trembling.

"...I...He...We..." Hilda continued her string of unfinished words, the trainer giving another sigh.

"Alright, alright, you can stop. I don't know why you can't talk, or why you're scared nearly to death, but I'm just glad you're finally acknowledging your feelings. Makes it easier for me," he told them, walking away. "Huh...Maybe I should tell Zo and take credit for this..." the pair watched him leave in silence, remaining in their huddled hug position. Snapping out of it, the girl shook her head and blinked. She cringed, slowly look to her side and seeing her male friend. Looking down at their position, her face burned again.

"Get. Your. Hands. Off. Me. Now."

"H...Huh? Ah! Wait, not the chest!"


"Man, I'll never understand those two..." he shook his head, stepping into the campsite. He looked around, his eyes stopping on Leaf's tent. "...I can't believe those two are still out..."

"Yeah, well believe it," his eyes snapped to his own tent, taking notice of the girl's resting head poking out of the entrance with her arms crossed beneath her cheek. "That's right, I'm here. Glad to see you noticed."

"Sorry, Zo, just...Thinking," he looked inside Leaf's tent, taking notice of her belt with six pokeballs.

"What do you ever think about besides battling? Oh, wait, girls?" Zo asked slyly, laughing to herself. "I'll wear the stupidest and scariest outfit on the day that happens."

"Now I wish that would come sooner," he said jokingly, chuckling to himself as he sat by the tent. The flap opened beside Zo's head, the yellow mouse stepping out and resting by his trainer's legs. "You're getting really lazy here, aren't you, buddy?"

"Chaa..."

"Yeah, he's getting kinda fat, look," Zo pulled on the side of the mouse's stomach, pulling his fur away from his bones. The mouse glared at her, who stuck out her tongue playfully.

"You know, you're not exactly the exercise king here," Ash told her, arching an eyebrow.

"Of course not, I'm a girl. I'm the exercise queen," she corrected him, smiling. "Besides, that's because you never use me in battle."

"Ah, makes sense," he shrugged, resting his head on the grass with arms crossed beneath. "You know, Zo...Weird things seem to happen at this tournament."

"It's because you're talking with people and being friendly, it's different from your usual lifestyle," Zo told him, smirking. "Plus, you have the two girls with crushes on you, and the love-of-your-life childhood friend."

"She is not a love of my life, Zo, we're only friends," Ash told her, closing his eyes with a sigh.

"Not for long, you have to be extremely dense to deny that," she stated, the trainer shaking his head slightly.

"There's only a few battles left here, then it's over," he told her, a few moments of silence following. "...We'll have to stay on mainland."

"I figured as much, your friends would probably lose their mind if you left a second time," Zo laughed slightly, imagining Ash in various ways of pain.

"You really do have a dark side," Ash frowned.

"Of course, I'm a dark-type. Hence the dark," she told him, rolling her eyes.

"That doesn't necessarily mean- Never mind."

"That's right, you know you'll lose an argument against me."

"Not that, I can't get through your thick skull."

"What was that?"

"Nothing, it's just that you're thick-headed and can't notice things easily."

"I can't, now can I? Wasn't I the one who first noticed that you and Leaf were childhood friends and loved each other?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"And that you love each other now?"

"No."

"Damn, so close."

"Sure, whatever you say," he sat up, getting to his feet.

"Where you going?" she asked, watching him curiously as he walked by her head.

"Just seeing if I didn't imagine something a little while ago," he replied, the girl watching him strangely as he disappeared.

"What would he imagine? Flying grumpigs?"


"So that's it?" Brendan asked, the brunette giving a nod.

"Yeah, I'm just not exactly sure how. Or if I even can," she said quietly, looking below the table at her feet.

"...Well, I guess I was expecting something like opinions on different shirts or something," Brendan shrugged, taking the straw in his mouth and gulping down his cola. "I just didn't think you would ask me."

"Well I definitely can't ask Ash, May and Dawn would get immediately jealous so they're out of the question, Paul is kind of strange, and I don't know any of Ash's friends that well," Leaf explained, taking a fry in her mouth. "You seemed like the best fit, being a calm and quiet guy. No offense."

"None taken, it's actually kind of a compliment. Anyway, I guess I could cut my time to help you out," he put his cup down on the table, smirking. "You seem like a nice person who could use help."

"Are you calling me helpless?" she asked, her tone changing from her usual cheerful and gentle kind. He shook his head. "You better hope so."

"I know not to mess with a girl in love," Brendan told her, crossing his arms on the table. "So, what exactly am I supposed to do?"

"I don't know, that's up to you to decide," she told him, taking another fry in her mouth. "That's why I asked you, shouldn't you have some creative scheme or something?"

"These things don't come naturally, you know. They take time to develop, plus they have to have uniqueness and quality," he told her, tapping his fingers on the table.

"Well, I guess I don't need to know right away. When you get an idea, come find me. Thanks again for shopping with me," she smiled, taking her several bags in her arms.

"Hold on, you're gonna drop those," he stood up, reaching for some of the bags. She stepped back.

"Nope, I got it!" she said cheerfully, stumbling. He quickly reached out and caught a few bags, arching an eyebrow to the girl. "...Alright, I could use some help."

"That's more like it," he told her, chuckling as he took some more bags. The girl smiled to the boy, the pair walking away from the table and towards the main exit.

"So, how do you want me to help you?" she asked.

"Oh, well, anyway you want, I guess," he shrugged, looking at the girl. "I mean, you can add the things I said if you want, I just want it to make sense and not be suspicious."

"Sounds good to me, just remember that for me when you think of something," she told him, smiling as she noticed the exit come in view as they turned the corner. Brendan smiled.

"Oh, I've already got a plan..."


"Back for love advice again?"

"No, sorry to disappoint you."

"I suppose I can manage," the nurse giggled, smiling to the raven-haired trainer. "So what can I really do for you?"

"These guys could use a little rest, if it's not too much trouble," he held out his four pokeballs, the nurse happily taking them.

"Like I've said before, it's my job," she turned away and put them on a tray, taking them into the back room. The trainer looked around the lobby, tapping his toe on the floor.

"...Right about now, something usually happens..."

"Hey! Ash!" he smiled, feeling pleased with himself as he looked over to the hallway, seeing a familiar brunette and blunette walking towards him. Their faces beaming, they hurried over. "Whatcha doin'?"

"Nothing really, just hanging around, I guess," he shrugged.

"Hey, when's your next battle?" Dawn asked.

"I just had one a little while ago, actually," he told her, the girls puffing their cheeks out.

"What? Why didn't you tell us?" she asked, frowning. he shrugged.

"I guess I'll forgive you this one time," May said playfully, giving a wink.

"So what are you two doing, then?" he asked. The girls looked at each other, Dawn smiling and May frowning.

"We were...Uh..."

"Shopping! Girl time, busy busy!"

"O...Kay...?"

"Bye, Ash! See you soon!" Dawn winked, then dashed off away from the trainer while dragging the brunette's arm. They disappeared through the doorway, leaving the trainer confused.

"It's the 'soon' part that worries me..." he sighed, shaking his head.

"Oh, hey! Ash!" he looked over, seeing Brendan walking towards him with a large load of shopping bags. He noticed the boy stumbling, deciding to help him. "Oh, thanks," he said, feeling his weight get lighter.

"No problem, guys help guys, right?" he asked, the trainer nodding with a smile.

"I guess, I just hate to bother you," he told him, holding the few bags at his side.

"I wasn't busy, if anything you're helping me by giving me something to do," Ash chuckled, looking down at the bags in his arms. "Are these...Leaf's?"

"Yeah, she goes - Wait, how did you know they were hers?" he asked, looking oddly at him.

"Leaf ran into me a while ago and told me she was late for shopping with you," he cringed. "I couldn't help but wonder why, though."

"Ah...I'm sure it was some weird girl reason," Brendan lied, knowing the real reason. Ash shrugged, giving a nod.

"I guess that makes sense," Brendan sighed quietly, hoping he wouldn't notice. "I'm not exactly saying she should have asked me, I'm kind of glad for that, but didn't you two just meet at this competition?"

"Well so did we, but we're talking friendly, aren't we?" he asked, the trainer nodding. "Besides, you know girls have a whole code for these things."

"Yeah, I never will understand that," Ash nodded, frowning. "Well, does she want this stuff at her tent, then?"

"Yeah, but can I ask you something first?" Brendan asked, Ash looked carefully at him.

"...Alright, shoot."

"What exactly is your relationship with Leaf?" Ash stared at him silently for a few moments, then sighed lightly. "Not to pry or anything, I'm just saying..."

"No, I get it, it's fine. Well...To be honest...We're just friends," Brendan frowned.

"Are you sure? You seem to be most comfortable around her more than the other girls, and you two seem closer than friends," Ash looked at the ground, thinking.

"It is like that, yes, but it doesn't necessarily mean we're closer," he told him, the Hoenn trainer awaiting further explanation. "...I guess it's complicated. Before we became trainers, we were best friends as kids. Nothing could get between our friendship, we were almost inseparable."

"So what happened? Why don't you seem that close now?" Brendan asked.

"...I guess I'm kind of afraid," Brendan looked at him oddly. Down the stairs, around the corner, the brunette leaned against the wall with shopping bags in her arms, frowning.

"Oh, Ash..."

END

What will Brendan and Leaf plan for each other?
What happened with Hilbert and Hilda?
What will the next match-ups be?
What are May and Dawn doing?
What else will Ash tell Brendan?

R&R. Have fun.