I knew that I would have at least a few other fans of that series reading this. As was mentioned by a reviewer already, that bet came from the roof scene between Keiichi and Rena. In fact Ash's new clothes were somewhat based off of Keiichi's. The anime is one that I highly recommend; the horror, mystery, and psychological thriller Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni. Otherwise translated as When the Cicadas Cry. And I'll say one thing, if you didn't think the cries of cicadas signified a growing tension you will after that series.
But enough about that, you guys probably want the results from the battle. So after a little over two months of posting and another two or three months of writing, we have come to the final chapter of The Puppeteer's Wishes.
The buzzer loudly rang out across the stadium.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! After that impressive battle, we have a winner by knockout. Let me be the first to congratulate May Maple as the winner of the fourth annual Auburn Town Pokémon Contest!"
Sure enough, the one that fell was Sceptile. While he was barely able to get the SolarBeam off in time, Blaziken resisted it enough with Fire Blitz it make the decisive hit. But the fact that he still hit first wasn't unrewarded. Right after the announcer declared May's victory, the Fire-Type too felt a familiar sensation overtake her as the world went white and she too fell forward onto the dirt.
Unbeknownst to anyone else there, the Blaze Pokémon was on the verge of blacking out as soon as she hit the vines and every fiber of her body resisted her movements as she shakily stood. The only thing allowing her to endure it all and balance for those last few seconds as she got to her feet was her tenser then normal muscles, created by the single Bulk Up attack called near the end of the battle
Running up to their two Pokémon, Ash and May were both relieved that they were fine, just exhausted and out cold. Returning them to their Pokéballs, the two friends looked up at each other.
"Looks like you won this time," Ash said as he walked up to her.
"Maybe, but you kept the lead throughout most of the battle even when you had a type disadvantage. I remember now why some trainers got worried about going up against you."
"You're just exaggerating, I'm good but I'm not that good." Blushing at her comments, Ash was nervously rubbing the back of his head.
"No I'm not, I got lucky. Not only was I able to get the type advantage but I was also that fraction of a second faster to hit with Fire Blitz first."
"I thought I saw SolarBeam hit first but no matter. What I think is that you're now not giving yourself enough credit," he told her with a smile. But before they could say much else, both teens noticed several different people coming out of the various doorways around the arena. "And I think I'll be taking my leave here. I had to deal with these guys enough last week; I'll let you experience it this time. Personally, I hate this type of people. Want me to take Blaziken to the Pokémon Center for you?"
Not entirely understanding what the trainer was talking about, she handed over the object her starter was contained in.
"Thanks." Putting the ball on the open slot in his belt, Ash grabbed another one and pulled it off. "We'll have to talk later."
"Miss Maple, how does it feel to win this year's Auburn Town Contest? Do you feel lucky to be able to have the advantage in the end against your opponent, especially against the Lilly of the Valley Champion?"
"Mr. Ketchum, Mr. Ketchum. What have you decided for the time for your match against Cynthia and the Sinnoh Elite Four?"
"Miss Maple you seem to be very friendly with Mr. Ketchum, do you know him personally? And if so is there anything between you two?"
"Mr. Ketchum, why did you decide to come down here instead of staying up in Sinnoh? Are you nervous about facing Cynthia who's held her title for the last ten years?"
Releasing the Pokémon inside of his Pokéball, every reporter took several steps back at the large bird emerged from the devise. They all remembered what happened in its battle the day before, and along with the size they all second guessed taking another step forward.
Giving a discrete wave to May, Ash quickly climbed aboard Pidgeot.
"Alright Pidgeot," he said. "Let's get out of here. I don't want to have to deal with these guys again."
Spreading his wings wide, the Bird Pokémon took one large flap and was instantly heading toward the sky. With everyone in the stadium watching, he continued to fly up and out of sight in no specific direction.
"He left us." May muttered to Eevee as everything that he was talking about finally fit together. "I can't believe it; he left us. Apparently even Ash Ketchum has something that he's scared of."
Of course as he finally disappeared, all the reporters turned their attention back to May. Before long they were nearly swarming over her, asking almost every question imaginable.
"I hope May is alright, I did kinda leave her there."
"Hey the fact that I love her has nothing to do with this. I dealt with those guys last week and I would like to keep as little contact with them as possible."
The sun was already setting as Ash was lying down on the grass at the spot he confessed to May the night before. It was secluded enough off the main path that he figured that there was little chance that anyone would find him out here and he liked that idea, especially after his new title was announced to everyone in the arena. Even if they were at a contest there were undoubtedly league fans among them and if he exited through the front door it would be a repeat of Sinnoh.
After exiting the stadium he headed straight for the Pokémon Center to get their two Pokémon taken care of. As he expected, Nurse Joy informed him that they would be fine with a good amount of rest. Leaving them there he knew that it was better for them to rest like that instead of just in their Pokéballs with him.
Looking out over the sea of darkening trees, Ash could feel that many things in his mind were starting to come to a conclusion, the most obvious one being the tournament. Even though he only took second place in the end, he wasn't disappointed at all. First and foremost he was able to get through that third round almost entirely thanks to Venusaur and his decision to evolve. Truth be told, that was the round he was most worried about winning. He knew he was no true coordinator, and the fact that he needed to be in the top two of 25 in a contest where there were plenty of high class coordinators only made the challenge even greater. That's not to say he didn't owe all his Pokémon to be able to get him that far.
But the other reason he wasn't disappointed was that the person he lost to was May. The original reason he thought of coming to this place was for her to get her confidence back. Sure, he had a slight secondary motive as well, but he never lost sight of his original goal. Even before he asked Brock and decided to make a bet with May, part of him had considered throwing the match at some point discreetly and allowing her to win. It didn't take long for him to toss that idea aside. Besides the fact that it would only lessen her victory if he did that, she was probably one of the few people that could tell if he was putting forth everything. Because of this, he came at her with his full strength. And she overcame it, with her own strength nonetheless. He knew he had a large disadvantage from the start of that battle, but he had many advantages besides that as well. The fact that she was able to win in the end only made him feel even prouder.
"A lot has happened this past week, hasn't it Pikachu?"
"At least our little mission was successful, May got her confidence back completely. And I think I've finally completely decided on my own dilemma. With the fun I had going up against a challenge where I'm at that much of a disability brought back quite a bit of the thrill I felt with my earlier unofficial battles with Elite Four members. And because of that I'm going to put the fact that I didn't get to face Paul in the Lilly of the Valley Conference aside and start really training for my now official fights against the Sinnoh Elite Four and, more importantly, Cynthia. I think all I really needed was for something else to preoccupy my mind for a while so I could let go of that problem. Doing that, I could then move forward and go for what I really wanted to do in the first place. I admit that I still would have rather gone up against him and won, but I can't let one battle delay me from moving forward with my real goal." Pausing to glance out as the last remnants of the sun disappeared below the horizon and painted the sky a beautiful orange-red, he could feel a small smile come to his face. "There's only one thing that I really didn't completely resolve, and because of that I might have to put off that dream a little. I did lose the bet after all. And while she didn't specifically say it, it does somewhat imply that I have to stay with her and go where she goes. So if she wants to go to someplace other than Sinnoh it could cause problems."
Thinking back to the bet, Ash still couldn't completely understand why she said all that and if there was any meaning behind it. Did it imply that she actually liked him back? But by this point he had already convinced himself that he couldn't try and expect the best case scenario right off the bat. If he did that and found out that it didn't turn out the way he hoped, it would only make him feel worse in the end. So while he was still hoping for the best, he tried not to think about it. The one thing he was thankful for was that she didn't go with either of the ones he suggested via Brock's script, especially considering she won. He didn't even want to think about what would have happened if she said either. Even if she chose him forgetting his feelings he probably would have had to leave her for a long time in an effort to actually do that. Just looking at her face continually brought back these new feelings, and if he stayed near her he would only be reminded of it every minute of every day.
"I can only wonder what she has planned."
"Talking to yourself again Ash?"
Surprised at the voice, the boy looked back to see May standing above him smiling.
"After seeing that you weren't at the hotel I figured that I would find you here," she continued as she sat down next to him. "Considering what happened last night I couldn't really blame you."
Before she could say anything else, Eevee happily jumped down from her trainer's shoulder and quickly made her way over to the other side of Ash where Pikachu was currently curled up. Taking the initiative, she gently pushed her way into him and made herself comfortable as she was able to once again feel that safety blanket that was him.
Surprised by the two girls' sudden arrival, Pikachu wasn't ready for the Normal-Type to come and get up next to him. He wasn't resisting or anything, but glancing down over her, he felt almost as proud as his trainer did over the one he was looking over.
Noticing his stare, Eevee couldn't help herself. Raising her head up just enough to put them face to face, she gave him a light lick on the nose and continued on to rub her head under his chin, stimulating him almost exactly like she did the last morning they were together. Caught off guard by the lick alone, the mouse could feel a goofy grin grow across his face at the feeling of her tongue on the sensitive spot. But while she was doing this for their mutual enjoyment as much as an 'I'm back' gesture, there was one other reason she did this. Turning to look directly into his eyes, the Evolution Pokémon put on what she hoped was a slightly seductive pose as she asked the question.
"Eevee vee vee, vui?"
Between her sensual greeting and beating him to the question that he was planning on asking her tonight, turned out to be a bit too much for the Electric-Type.
"Pika…" he nodded yes before melting back down to the ground next to his future mate.
Overjoyed that he accepted, the small Pokémon rubbed her cheek up against his to get that tingling feeling of his electricity flowing across her body. He was barely even responsive, a sharp change the last time he probably had thoughts of being a father, but she was in no way disappointed with his reaction. In fact she was hoping that it would be something like this. It wasn't her time just yet, so she still had to wait, but at least she wouldn't be alone again when it came up. Cuddling up to his body again, she relaxed into those wonderful feelings being near him brought. Though she kept herself from getting too comfortable, she had to make sure to pay attention to the other two there.
"And they look happy to be able to be back together," the brunette giggled as she watched Pikachu's reactions. "But as for you mister," turning her attention back to Ash, May gave him a good glare. "You left me high and dry to deal with those paparazzi all by myself. And after I finally rid myself of them I had to wade through a sea of people claiming to be my fans. Do you have any idea of how annoying that was?"
"Yeah, I kinda do."
Noticing his tone, May's attitude changed slightly. She was only joking, but either he wasn't getting it or there was something else on his mind. Although she could probably take a guess at it, the brunette didn't want to start making assumptions with everything that was on the line.
"Ash, are you okay? You don't seem all that happy right now."
"Don't worry May, I'm fine. But I did at least make up my mind on what I'm going to do about the Sinnoh Elite Four. Even though I wasn't able to beat Paul in the tournament there, I've decided that if I get the chance I'll challenge them to a match once I'm ready."
"That's great Ash! I'm happy to hear that." It took her a second to catch a word in there that didn't seem right. "But why did you say 'if'? I thought that all you had to do was contact Cynthia and set a date."
"Technically, you're right," he told the coordinator. "But you have to remember, I lost our bet. And while I can't say I dislike the terms that you set, and I thank you for taking out the maid portion, it does imply that I need to stay with you and go where you go. If you decide to go to someplace besides Sinnoh, there isn't much I can do."
Putting on a knowing smile, May inched closer to the boy.
"You're looking a little too much into it Ash," she calmly said to him. "I didn't mean it like that. What I meant to say with that was that I want us to stay together. I have so much fun being with you that I don't want it to end. Do you know what I was going to ask last night before you said what you wanted to say first?" Making sure to wait until he shook his head no, she told him the answer. "I was going to ask you if I could travel with you again, and originally it was because of these last few days and the fun that I had being with you after that many months. You even helped me get my coordinating back in line to the point where I was able to beat Drew again. It just all reminded me of how we were back when Max and Brock were traveling with us. But after what you said last night, I know now that it will be almost impossible to exactly go back to that feeling we had only a year ago."
Ash could feel himself flinch as she said those words. He knew it was true, and it was the change that he was truly afraid of by telling her everything.
"Needless to say you surprised me after you said all that. After all these years I've taken you for the boy who wouldn't know love if it hit him right in the face, and I never gave up the chance to make fun of you for it while we were together. Well it turns out you knew more than I thought, even to the point of who you felt that to, and I was the one who couldn't see what should have been in front of me. Because looking back on everything since our night in the woods, while it wasn't completely obvious there were more than enough hints that I should have seen the real picture. So I didn't know what to think when you said that it was me you felt that to. By the time you finished and looked like you expected an answer from me, I froze. I didn't know what to say. All I could think of was to get away from the situation to where I could think about it without pressure.
"After I left, I realized in my rush for my own comfort how you probably took my answer. I was awake when you got back to the room, but after I realized what I must have put you through I couldn't bring myself to talk to you at that time. It was only after I thought about what you said and how I felt about everything did I feel I was able to talk. Although I assumed that you might say something first, I never expected you to propose that bet. Even with the thoughts of your confession on my mind, it was fun to bring that up and try to get things back to normal." Pausing for a moment, May couldn't help but chuckle lightly. "Now who seems to be going on a rant? To make things a little shorter, I've thought about what you said to me last night and I've come up with an answer."
Taking in a deep breath, Ash knew that this was what he had been waiting for the last couple days. The experience brought him right back to last night, a mix of anticipation, anxiety, and pure fear. Yet along with those was still that little light of hope that she would feel the same way, or at the very least to be open to the idea of letting it grow between them. Right before she started to speak again though, his guilt overcame that light and got the better of him and Ash interrupted her.
"May, you can stop right there," he said much to her surprise. "It was selfish of me to say that to you last night and force this decision on you. I know that this has probably been on your mind today as well as last night, and I don't want to have to be the one to put you through deciding something like that. So you don't have to say anything if you don't want to. The bet was that I would essentially follow you where you want to go and I'm fine with leaving it at that."
Seeing just how hard it was for him to say those words, May couldn't help but feel sorry for him. After everything that he said to her last night, it was very obvious to her that even though he meant everything he told her, part of the boy was wishing that he never said a single word of it all. It was odd though, seeing the same Ash Ketchum that for the longest time she pictured as the courageous and fearless trainer suddenly visibly nervous and trying to back away from something. Yet through it all she could still see the same old Ash in there, worrying more about his friends than himself, even when it came to something of this nature. But she too made a decision, and while this discussion may have been stressful to him, she wanted to get everything out.
"It's true; you did kinda force me to think about this," she told him, much to his apparent discomfort. "But you have one thing wrong Ash, I'm not saying this because you want me to, I'm saying it because I want to. Because I had to think about it, I came up with a few answers of my own. Even if I didn't figure everything out, the one thing that I know for sure is, like what you probably felt too, I didn't want to lose being able to stay with you. That was part of the reason I chose my portion of the bet. I may not know if this really is love, but I do know that you are one of a kind and I couldn't bear losing you." Moving up right beside the trainer, May could feel the warmth and safety that she could feel that night in the woods return. "So before I say anything else, I just have one more question for you Ash. How did you finally know that you loved me?"
With her body so close to his again, Ash's mind was in pure bliss. He may have not gotten the full answer from her yet but it was enough to know that she wasn't repulsed by the fact he loved her and she seemed curious as to how she felt too. Hesitantly putting his arm around behind her as if to support himself as he leaned back, the smile on his face grew even larger when he felt her take his hand in her own and guide it to her waist.
"I got asked that question before," he finally said. "First of all, like I said last night, I love seeing your smile and I'll do whatever I can to make sure that you never lose it. But that alone wasn't enough. What it finally came down to was actually after we were like this that night in the forest."
"And that was?"
"I knew I was in love because I didn't want to fall asleep. I didn't want to sleep because I knew for once, reality was better than what I could experience in my dreams."
Blushing at the thought he was thinking that about her, May couldn't help but grin at the thought that someone like Ash Ketchum was saying that to her of all people. The fact that all they did was sleep next to each other made the statement even more surprising. But the most important thing was she knew he wasn't one to say something of that nature without a good reason behind it.
"That's sweet Ash; I didn't know you had a little bit of a poetic side to you. For me, my idea of love has been a little different. It's always been based on something that someone told me when I was really young. 'We were given two hands to hold, two legs to walk, two eyes to see, and two ears to listen. But why only one heart?'" Giving a little dramatic pause, May continued. "'Because the other was given to someone else, for us to find.' From the moment I heard it I've always loved the way that sounds, and was hoping that love really did feel like that."
Taking a moment to collect the last of her thoughts, May came to her own decision. "Okay, I think I've finally made my choice. Ash Ketchum, I think I can accept the fact that I'm the one you chose and am willing to see if my feelings for you are just as deep, if not deeper, then what you told me last night. You are the closest person I could ever think of as a match for me, and just like you hold the other half of our Terracotta Ribbon, I could see you as having that second heart of mine. Although I don't think that I'll be able to put them into words as well as you did, I can now say this at least without much doubt. I feel as though you are the other half to myself and together we form a whole. To put it simply Ash, I think I'm beginning to understand how and why you feel what you do towards me." Holding her hands up against her chest, May could feel her heartbeat. To her surprise it wasn't racing as she expected, it was calm and steady. "And the reason that I'm starting to understand it is because I think I'm starting to feel the same thing towards you."
Surprised at her answer, the trainer looked down at the girl next to him.
"Yep," the brunette confirmed. "As I said, I'm not completely sure if this is love that I'm feeling but I do know that you mean more to me than just an ordinary friend, and I have to say that my dreams haven't come close to the way I'm feeling right now. For the last week Dawn has been pressuring me into revealing potential boys I liked and on more than one occasion mentioned how you had many good qualities as a boyfriend including how any girl that was interested in you would only have to get past your single-minded nature towards Pokémon. While at the time I didn't like her pressing the fact that it was my best friend who she was trying to prove whether he would be a good boyfriend, I couldn't deny that she was right. Seeing as how you've already done the hard part for me, it was only more incentive to explore how I really feel."
"Dawn was manipulating her too?" Ash still wasn't too happy with the thought that Dawn tried to push the subject so hard with him to the point where he couldn't get it out of his head, but to go behind his back and do almost the same thing with May gave him a rather bitter sensation. Feeling May shift slightly in his arm though made him reconsider. "Then again if it wasn't for her none of this probably would have happened. Although I don't want to admit it, I'll probably have to thank her the next time I see her."
"Oh yeah, since we're being honest with each other right now Ash, there's one more thing that I want to say."
"Huh? What's that May?"
"Well, it's not entirely something to say but more I was kind of secretly hoping that you would have been made your side of the bet."
Pulling away slightly from his arm around her, May positioned herself in front of the boy and before Ash could completely comprehend what she was doing he was experiencing his first kiss.
For the brunette it was her first kiss as well, and as she said, part of her was hoping for him to claim it as his side of the bet today. Although she was giving away her first kiss to him, as she withdrew from the short and light touching of lips any residual doubt of her wondering if she had chosen the right thing were slowly vanishing. When she opened her eyes again, the coordinator let out a soft giggle at seeing Ash wide eyed and almost unresponsive.
"What's the matter Ash?" She teased. "You don't like stealing the first kiss of the girl you love?"
Finally snapping back to reality, Ash knew at least one thing.
"I'm not really sure," he told the coordinator with a playful smile. "I think I'll need another example before I decide."
"If this is what you are going to be like in the future I think I'm going to have to get used to a different Ash from now on," May laughed. "But I see no harm in letting you have another one."
Pulling her back in this time, Ash brought their two lips back together for another, much longer, kiss. Without thinking he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her in closer, enjoying the warmth and softness that he could feel from her body. Feeling her smile slightly into his lips, May responded by moving her own arms up around his shoulders and neck to likewise pull him closer as well. Now that he was ready for this one he was able to savor the softness of her lips and he also confirmed that she did in fact wear lip gloss. Either that or her lips had a natural cherry flavor to them. Although both had heard that some kisses go a little further than just the two sets of lips touching, neither wanted to ruin the moment they were in by going too far for their second kiss.
"It's amazing," Ash said as they finally pulled away.
"Kissing the one you love is amazing."
Blushing once again at his comment, May could only smile and move back to his side, pulling the trainer closer as she did.
"You really are something else."
"I could say that same thing about you, Angel."
May could feel her heart flutter again as he called her that.
"That name again. You don't actually plan on using it, do you?"
"Why not? You said it yourself that you like it."
Hesitating for a moment, the brunette looked away from him before answering. Even after she came out and said how she felt about him, May still didn't feel comfortable having someone watch her blush.
"Fine, you can use it. But only when we're alone."
"What? Do you hate the name Angel?"
Feeling the same sensation again, May knew by now that it was almost the exact opposite.
"You know the answer to that already. It's not that I hate it, it's just…"
"You're still embarrassed by it, right?" He finished up for her.
"Yeah, that's about it."
"Alright then, I can agree to that for now. I don't want to make you any more uncomfortable then what you're okay with."
"If we're talking about what I'm comfortable and uncomfortable with, you know you can touch my hair anytime you want. As long as you don't mess it up."
Stiffening slightly, Ash wondered if he had been found out.
"Yes, I know you did it a couple nights ago," she told him, noticing his reaction. "I wasn't completely asleep when you did it, although I get the feeling that wasn't the first time either." Chuckling as he didn't seem to calm down, May put her head down onto his shoulder. "Relax Ash; you don't have to be so worried about it. I kind of liked it."
Even though he essentially got the approval that he was worried about when he ran his hand through her hair, there was one other thing that he wasn't sure if she knew about that he did that night. Unbeknownst to him, while she was barely awake for the hair, she was out by the time he gave her the kiss on her head. Considering she didn't mention it he was assuming that was the case, but worrying that the conversation would take a turn in that direction, Ash quickly got up from his sitting position. Staring at his odd reaction to her comment, May wondered if she said or did something wrong.
"You want to leave already?"
While he was still happy with everything that happened, and the continued physical contact with May was also beyond what his dreams prepared him for, he still felt like he had to get used to being that close to her in that manner. Especially while wondering if she minded the first kiss he gave her. He would tell her about it, eventually. Though he did have an idea to make up for it.
"Not quite." Pulling a Pokéball from his belt, he looked over at their two Pokémon, who were patiently listening in throughout the entire conversation, and then to May. Holding out his hand he put on a courteous but gentle smile. "I was thinking of taking you on a little trip, to a place where angels belong and wishes come true."
From some nearby bushes a certain friend of theirs watched as Ash let Pidgeot out of his Pokéball and after positioning himself, May and their Pokémon on his back, they took off into the now dark sky.
"To where angels belong. Dang Ash, you almost aren't like the same person anymore. Although I think I can now see why she wanted to hide that little name from me."
When they were finally out of sight, Dawn came out of her hiding spot with Piplup sitting on her head.
"And with that the last of my strings have been cut. While it doesn't look completely ironed out, I think my work is done at least. Now Ash can't say that I didn't pay him back for all the help he gave to me in Sinnoh." Glancing up to where the two of them were no doubt now flying around, the blunette felt a familiar feelings welling up inside of her. "Yep, and I'm still jealous of May. Whether it's because she found someone who loves her or if it's because it was Ash in particular who loved her I can't tell, and I don't want to know. I'm the closest he has to a little sister and nobody can take that away from me. I'll find a boy of my own someday."
Making sure that there weren't any leaves or dirt on her clothes, Dawn looked up at the Water-Type sitting on her head.
"So now that we don't have to keep following those two around, how about we head back to the hotel? I think Shinx will probably want to spend a little more time outside of his Pokéball, and I get the feeling that they won't be back anytime soon."
"I can never get tired of this," May sighed as Pidgeot slowly flew across the night's sky. "The moon and stars seem so close you could reach out and touch them."
They were soaring over the dense Viridian Forest at that moment and the silhouette of the Indigo Mountain Range appearing behind the half moon. Surrounding it all were the stars that seemed to just keep appearing as darkness continued to fall. May was behind Ash holding onto his mid-section, while Eevee and Pikachu were in the front with him.
"I'm glad that you enjoy it, like I said this is where angels really belong."
"There you go again with that. I already told you what you probably wanted to hear concerning it. You really like that name, don't you?"
"What can I say? You came up with the name yourself. Originally it was fun teasing you with it considering how you reacted, but that started to change once I figured out how I felt. I couldn't forget how when I first woke up after falling, even if I still couldn't see straight, looking at you brought that image to my mind first. Besides, the name just seems to flow off your tongue, and personally I think it suits you. Or at least they're the closest thing that can compare to you."
Glaring at him, May started to feel a little set back at some of his comments.
"Okay Ash, I'm flattered by everything you're saying but tell me the truth. I know you didn't come up with some of these phrases by yourself, didn't you?"
"What makes you say that?" He asked, trying to hold back his nervous laughter.
"Because it just doesn't sound like you. I've known you for a long time now and you've never talked like that before. Not to mention I have a hard time believing that the same Ash who knew nothing about romance just a few days ago is now saying things like this."
"Alright, you found me out," he admitted, not wanting to lie to her after what just happened. "It was Brock's idea, although I can't say I don't agree with the words."
"And the bet?"
"His idea too."
Putting away her hard glare, May rested her head on his shoulder like she did the first time they were on Pidgeot.
"Now that makes a lot more sense. But when you think about it that way, it almost seems like he actually knows what he's doing when it comes to girls. Makes you wonder why he's failed that many times before." Shaking her head to try and clear her thoughts of that odd paradox, May figured they could talk to Brock about it sometime else. "I don't have too much of a problem with you talking like that, but you don't feel like the normal Ash when you do. So try not to imitate him too often."
For the first time since he started calling her that, May actually felt somewhat comfortable hearing it. Sure it still made her heart seem to flutter a little, but it wasn't something that she disliked.
Finally starting to completely come to his senses after Eevee's question, Pikachu was slightly surprised to find himself up in the air. Looking around he found the Normal-Type right next to him, contently enjoying his company, even if at that point he was barely conscious. Now that he was back, he was able to actually process everything that was happening between the two of them. The best part about all of it was that he couldn't remember the last time he saw her look this happy, and it just wasn't from her body language either. There was just something about her as a whole that seemed to shine to him.
Noticing that he was up and about, Eevee looked up at her new mate-to-be. Now seemingly over the initial shock of her question, the expression he had on appeared as though he was already a father. Of course she too was happy beyond words that he accepted, but she found it funny that he looked as though the act was already done even if it wasn't her time yet. While looking up at him though he did something that she wasn't expecting. Moving down to her level, he gave her a quick lick on her nose and rubbed his check up against hers to create that light current running through her body, much like she did to him only minutes ago. Not considering that he would rebound as fast as he did, she didn't think that he would do something like that anytime soon. Seeing that he only had a comforting smile on his face, she didn't react in the same manner he did but rubbed back up against the underside of his chin. Just the way she had learned he liked it.
Eevee found her spot that she had wanted for so long, and now she was in it. But the oddest thing was that it didn't feel as she originally expected. Sure she was happy to be next to the mate she wanted all this time, yet there was more to it. The way she understood being bonded to another as mates, beyond the obvious, was that to stay with them for more than one baby the two needed to enjoy each others' company. Sure she enjoyed his company alright; in fact she could almost say that she craved it by this point. She felt happy beyond words could describe just being next to him, it both made her heart race and allowed her to relax at the same time. There was something telling her that this was more than just being mates.
For the longest time the idea of Pokémon and the human idea of love was black and white to her, complete opposites and unable to mix. Then meeting up with Pikachu again and reigniting what she felt just being near him created grey, but she still didn't think that she loved him. But after seeing how Ash reacted to being around her trainer and how her trainer had been reacting to Ash, she couldn't help but see the similarities between them and herself and Pikachu. Maybe all this time she was wrong. Maybe black and white didn't necessarily exist in a definition like that. Either way, if it was for him, she could care less what they called it. Be it love or simply mates, it didn't matter; only as long as she could stay by his side.
Unable to keep a smile back at watching their two Pokémon, May's thoughts went back to what Ash had said before they took off.
"I can agree that this would definitely be the place where angels belong," she told him while looking out at the thousands of stars above and around them. "But how is it a place where wishes come true?"
"There's an old legend in Kanto that every time something good happens or someone experiences true happiness, an orb of light appears," Ash explained as they continued their flight. "And while you can't always see them, if you can obtain one of these orbs a single wish of yours will be granted. It can be any one wish that your heart truly desires, even one that can turn back the hands of time and undo the past. While these stars may not be the orbs in this legend, this is my present to you for winning the Auburn Tournament and for getting your confidence back. I'll grant you three wishes, and promise to fulfill them to the best of my ability."
Smiling at the consideration that he obviously had but into this, May knew she was happy enough as it was.
"And what if I say I don't have anything that I want to wish for? Because I already have the one thing that I would have wished for, my best friend and new boyfriend to stay by my side forever."
"Then I say you aren't being completely honest with yourself," he said with a bit of a grin, even if it did feel a little odd being called that. "I was selfish for forcing this entire thing onto you so you in turn can be selfish too and ask for whatever you want."
"Alright then." Deciding to indulge herself a little with his gift, May didn't want to upset him by saying much else. He was doing this for her and although she was happy enough as it was, there were a few things that could make it better. "My first wish is to become the greatest coordinator in the world."
"That one might take me a while, but it's yours," the boy responded with his usual optimistic smile. "I'll make sure to support you all the way until that title is in your hands. And your next wish?"
"My next one is that I want you to be as happy as I am."
Unable to hide the blush that spread across his face at her comment, he couldn't say that he disliked the wish at least.
"You know I told you that you could be a bit more selfish with these Angel. You don't have to do something for me."
"But it's what I want," May said to him while holding on a little tighter. "Are you going to suddenly deny my wish?"
Shaking his head, Ash could only wonder what he might have gotten himself into with this little idea.
"No, it's yours. Because as long as I can stay with you and see your smile every day, I can be happy forever."
"I thought I told you to stop using Brock's lines," she warned the trainer.
"I promise that I'm not," Ash reassured the brunette. "That was something that came to my head without anyone's help, and from what I can tell from the years we've been together I know that it's true. So then what's your final wish?"
It took another few seconds before May said anything.
"Well there is one more thing that I have somewhat been thinking about. But…" Pausing momentarily, she shook her head. "I don't think that I could ask that from you."
Somewhat surprised at her sudden shyness, Ash could only wonder what was going through her head.
"Don't worry May," the trainer reassured her with a big smile. "Like I said, if it's within my ability to do so I'll do it. You just have to say it."
Looking away from him, her answer was something that he never was going to guess would come from her mouth.
"Well…I…guess that's within my, um, ability…" he stuttered, caught completely off guard.
Ash turned somewhat pale at the thought as his throat went dry. Even Pikachu and Eevee looked up at May with that of complete shock. Sure the implications of this wish had been dancing around his mind for the past few days, mainly thanks to the passing comments of a certain blunette, but he was nervous enough about saying those three words. To do that…
To what would become the boy's relief, May started to burst out laughing. She had to turn her head away from him to keep a straight face, but she just wanted to see his reaction.
"You should have seen your face!" She got out while still laughing. "It was priceless!"
"Hey! I was being honest with all of this!" He countered as what just happened sunk in.
"Sorry Ash, I couldn't resist." Wiping the few tears that came to her eyes from laughing that hard, May put her head back onto his shoulder and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
"That wasn't funny May," the trainer finally said. "I know I'm not ready to be a father, and I'm not even sure if I would be a good one at that."
"Relax Ash, the idea of children is on virtually every person's mind at some point, girls especially, and we can't help imagining what having them would be like. Though I have to admit that I too am not ready to be a mother. Personally though I think that you would be a great father, if you treat your future kids with even half as much love as you do your Pokémon they would be really lucky."
"So what half are you talking about, the raising half or the battling half? Because I think I could get my kids to be rather famous as…"
"Don't even think about finishing that line," May quickly stated.
"Yeah, yeah, I know," Ash got out with a light chuckle. Pausing momentarily, the boy couldn't help but wonder about something. "And what was your image like?" He somewhat hesitantly asked. "Of your family, that is."
Slightly surprised at the question, the coordinator had to think back to what her imagination had made for her countless times in the past.
"First would be having a couple kids, twins preferably, a boy and a girl with maybe even more after that. We would live in a somewhat spacious house close to the ocean with a loving and caring husband by my side. I know, it's rather simple, but I think that I would be happy enough even if that was all my life came to."
"And how do I compare to that imaginary husband?"
"He's better looking," she told him without a second thought. "But overall you're better than anything my dreams have shown me, and if it ever comes down to that I don't think I would be disappointed with the idea. On the topic of what will happen though, what are we going to do now that the contest is over?" She asked, head still on his shoulder. "Because remember, you still lost the bet so wherever you go, I'm going with you. And at least for now, we're stuck together."
"What, going back on your choice now? Because you could have simply wished for it."
"Not if you aren't," she countered.
"Never in a million years." Thinking a little about what would work for the both of them; Ash came up with something that could work. But before he suggested that he needed to run something by her first that he decided even before this one. "I have an idea, but before we go anywhere though I made a bit of a promise to Pikachu and myself."
"After Bulbasaur evolved I couldn't get the thought that I finally had half of my original team back with me and made the decision to try and bring as much of my original team back together again. While I don't know where Butterfree is, and I want to find out at some point, I was thinking of getting Squirtle and Charizard together with Pikachu, Pidgeot, and Venusaur. Maybe we can even see if Squirtle wants to come back with us. Those two will be surprised to not only see Venusaur as he is but to see Pidgeot again period. Would you like that too Pidgeot?"
"Pidgeot!" The bird happily called out. Pikachu was always the one he was closest to among Ash's other Pokémon, but he still wanted to meet up again with the others after that many years.
"So would you mind if we took a bit more time off to do this?"
Smiling at the thought that Ash wanted to do take the time off for something like that, she knew that there was no why she could disagree.
"That's fine by me Ash," she told him while pulling him a little closer again. "I know how much they mean to you so it would be selfish of me to say anything else. But knowing about where Charizard is now, I don't think he'll be able to stay too long. So then what's your idea for after that?"
"How about we head back to Sinnoh?"
"Sure, I can spend the year preparing for my Elite Four battle by training and maybe challenging the gym leaders again and you can participate in the contests up there. Not to mention that your rivals are going to be going up there as well. To be able to grant you your first wish you need to stay sharp."
"Are you sure Ash? You just came back from there. Wouldn't you want to go someplace different to train?"
"I'm perfectly fine with it; I just want to make sure that you don't miss out on any contests. I'm just not sure how you would take it. Personally I think that it would be good overall. I'd even get to push the fact that I got second in the contest in Drew's face."
"Now Ash, he's still my friend so you better not do too much. But, before last night I had decided that I was okay with missing out on a year or two of contests just to stay with you. And while I would like to go up against my rivals again, I'm okay if you want to go someplace different. It is funny that you thought of Drew in particular though. I probably should have told you sooner but because of what happened last night…either way, he actually asked me to travel with him in Sinnoh the coming year. He was using the idea that as a trainer you were a bad teacher to try and convince me that he would be the better instructor. And…"
"And you chose to stay with me and not him, right?" Ash finished up for her.
"Guess that part's obvious by now, isn't it?"
"Yeah but I also knew about this yesterday. So naturally I knew your answer even before I confessed. Funny thing was that it didn't calm my nerves as much as I was thinking it would."
Caught off guard by the fact he knew about it, May's mind was already starting to point towards Dawn as the culprit. Still unsure of how things went with the last secret she shared with the blunette, if this one proved true she vowed never to confide anything like that with the girl ever again.
"Dawn told you, didn't she?"
"Not quite." Reaching into his pocket, the trainer pulled out the letter that Drew had written for him. "I got it straight from Drew's mouth. He wrote me a letter explaining his offer, as well as the results and a few words to me personally."
Giving off a sigh in relief, May was rather embarrassed that she blamed Dawn that fast. The brunette just never thought that Drew would ever say it directly to Ash.
"And what were those few personal words?" She asked.
Watching as Ash let go of letter, the piece of paper quickly got caught up by the wind and floated own towards the vast expanse of Viridian Forest below them.
"Nothing important, but he did kinda infer to try and get you to come to Sinnoh. If you want we can put it off a little more to relax or something. Heck, even if you want to take a long break from coordinating you just have to tell me. You don't have to worry about any decision on my part, I'm in no rush and will follow wherever you go."
"Thanks Ash," she told him. "But, like I said we can just go where you want to."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes Ash, I'm sure. Now don't make me repeat myself again."
As May finished what she was saying, Ash started to chuckle.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing really, I just think that we are having our first argument as a couple."
Shoving him lightly, as not to disturb Pidgeot's flying, May put up a fake sense of annoyance.
"I don't think that this could be really considered an argument, but what made you think I already agreed we were a true couple."
"You just did," he said with a grin. "I can read you like a book May."
"You're only reading in between the lines," the brunette countered. "But I have no problem introducing you as my boyfriend."
Holding onto him all that much tighter, May was glad that if anything he was the first one to capture her heart. In tightening her grip she could start to feel his heartbeat. Just like hers was when she told him her feelings, it seemed calm and steady.
"And I'll suffer through introducing my girlfriend I guess." Laughing as he felt her squeeze him as hard as she could, Ash finally felt at peace from everything that he had been going through for the past week. And being up here with May made everything seem as though a filter had been removed from his eyes and it looked even better than ever. "Brock was right about one thing though."
"What was that?"
"The world changes when you find somebody you love, doesn't it?"
"Almost like you found a part of yourself that was missing, right? It sure does Ash, it sure does."
"You know, you still haven't given me what you really want for your third wish," the trainer said after a few moments of silence.
"I don't know what you're talking about; I told you my three wishes," May answered from her spot behind him. "I just don't expect that some of them will be granted any time soon. You now have several promises to not go too far from me as we move on, so I expect that you'll take good care of me."
Slightly taken aback but the sudden realization that he now had four long-term promises with her, the idea wasn't as embarrassing as he was somewhat thinking. It was partially the fact that this was the second girl to completely outwit him in the last week, but also that none of what he promised was something that he would break without a fight. And the other part was that she was somewhat serious about her final wish.
"Same here Angel," Ash finally said to her while leaning his head up against hers as Pidgeot continued his silent flight across the star covered sky.
Hope you all enjoyed the story to the very end. I originally went into this with the idea that I wanted to make one more story that could compete with Reaching for the Stars before I retire from writing. While I'm not entirely sure if that retirement is right around the corner, I think I achieved my goal. In one sense I know I did because this story has been on a scale I'm not used to and is currently one of the longest Advanceshipping stories on the site, even if I still can't come close to the top two. With that length I also wanted to incorporate a more natural growth of relationships between Ash and May, one that grew from pure friendship to what it ended with. A lofty goal but there was a certain fic that I wanted to emulate in that way and while it's still far longer than mine I pulled it off at least somewhat.
Now for the part that many of you probably were wondering about. Yes I know that I probably could have continued on with much this much longer back into Sinnoh and including the Elite Four battles and Cynthia but I've never been good at coming up with ideas for after they've already become a couple. The focus of the story would change to one more of action than romance and that is probably my biggest weak-point as a writer. I just can't keep an action story going, I can do it in bursts like battles and such but it just doesn't feel as though the story is interesting enough for my readers and becomes boring. That's not to say I might not try but don't hope too hard for it.
So after over one million keystrokes, several months of writing, and tens of thousands of views, The Puppeteer's Wishes has finally come to an end. I hope that you all enjoyed the story and that it met at least a few of your expectations. While I can't say that this is my masterpiece or the story that I'll be represented by in the time to come, overall I'm satisfied by how it turned out. But in the end all that really matters is how you, the reader, feel about it so don't be shy to leave one last review.
Thanks for reading.