Chapter 6: A New Hobby
Ash's eyes fluttered open to see Pikachu looking down at him. The small yellow mouse was shaking him around frantically trying to wake him up.
"Pika pi! Pika pi!" The mouse exclaimed in his face.
Ash groaned and rubbed his face with his hands before stretching and letting out a yawn. "Morning, Pikachu," he greeted, not noticing the urgency in his Pokémon's voice.
"Chuchupi pika pikachu!" Pikachu said, hopping off Ash and scurrying across the room.
"Chuchupi?" Ash grumbled sleepily, he had never heard that from Pikachu before. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and glanced across the room to see Pikachu jumping up and down on May's bed.
Ash blinked in confusion before noticing the bed was lacking something, namely May. His eyes widened as he realized he and Pikachu had both fallen asleep and given May a chance to flee. He leapt from his bed and dashed out of the room without bothering to grab his shoes, hat, and clothes.
Almost slipping on the slick tile floor, Ash quickly regained his footing and ran down the hall of the Pokémon Center with Pikachu. He entered the lobby and slid on the floor several feet before finally stopping. He frantically looked left and right before his eyes caught the familiar bright red bandana May always wore. He saw the girl sitting calmly in the Pokémon Center cafeteria eating a waffle. He let out a sigh of relief before walking into the cafeteria and approaching May. She quickly noticed him and looked up with a smile.
Ash stopped, panting as her expression curled into confusion. "I thought you had taken a chance to run." He said tiredly, plopping down in the chair across the table from her. Pikachu climbed up into his lap.
May looked up at the ceiling and put her index finger on her chin as she thought about what Ash had said. "It never crossed my mind, honestly." She admitted letting a chuckle escape her mouth. "Besides, we're on an island. Where would I go?"
Ash shrugged, resting his elbows on the table.
"Not to mention we're friends now. I can't say I really want to run."
Ash was a bit taken aback by her comment, sitting up in his chair as he looked at May with surprise. She didn't notice though as she had returned her attention back to her waffle. A small smile tugged at the corners of Ash's mouth.
"Well I'm happy to hear that." He said with a grin. Pikachu nodded in agreement. May looked up and smiled at him cheerfully.
"So, are you planning on battling the gym leader in your pajamas?" May asked with a smirked.
Ash looked down at his current attire before blushing in embarrassment. "Well... uh… I'll be right back."
Ash's gym battle with Brawly didn't go as swiftly as he had hoped, and ended with a loss on his side. Brawly had given Ash a pat on the shoulder and told him to train a bit harder and do his best, and that he would be eagerly awaiting his return for a rematch.
Now Ash and May sat in the Pokémon Center lobby, waiting for Nurse Joy to finish healing Pikachu, Treecko, and Taillow. Ash had his eyes locked on the tile floor while May timidly sat next to him, not saying a word.
Ash was at a crossroad. He wanted to stay on the island and train for a rematch with Brawly. On the other hand, May wanted to get off the island as soon as she could and get as far from her father as possible. Even as he sat there thinking, he couldn't help but notice her gaze dashing around as she was on the look out to be sure Norman wasn't anywhere near.
He sighed in defeat before sitting up straight and laying a hand on her back. "We need to leave soon or the ferry will take off without us."
May's brow shot up with surprise before furrowing with confusion. "But you haven't gotten your gym badge yet!" She told him.
Ash smiled sadly before sitting back into the couch, removing his hand from May's back. Laying his head down on the couch, he gazed up at the ceiling. "Well, Norman is still hanging around here so-"
"And if he's as brutal as you claim he is, we should leave the island for your sake." Ash said. He felt the weight on the couch shift as May stood up. The girl kept her back to him with her hands curled into fists at her sides.
"My sake?" May asked quietly. Ash looked at her, not saying a word. "My sake?" She asked again, this time a little more loudly.
Ash couldn't tell what was going through her head. "Yeah..." He muttered in confusion. May grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and pulled him from the couch. She proceeded to drag him into the hall before pointing a finger in his face.
"All you've done the last few days is think about 'my sake'!" She said in a hushed voice. "All I've been is dead weight! Is there ever a moment when your actually thinking about yourself!?"
Ash looked at her sadly. "We just went over this last night." He began. "You're not-"
He stopped abruptly upon hearing the deep tone of Norman's voice in the air. He and May glanced into the lobby to see the man walking in through the automatic sliding glass doors with the man he had been hanging around with the previous night. They could have sworn Norman looked directly at them before turning his attention back to the other man. The two teens exchanged panicked glances before rushing down the hall and into their reserved room.
Ash quickly closed the door behind him, being careful not to slam it. He then locked the door and stood in the room quietly with May as they both listened to the sounds coming from outside the room. May stood in the center of the room, her gaze locked on the door and her clasped hands held up to her chest.
They heard Norman and his friend's muffled conversation through the walls as they walked past the door, and held their breaths until the voices faded away and the men walked down the hall.
May let out an exasperated sigh of relief and collapsed onto her bed, grabbing her pillow and burying her face in it.
"Forget everything I said. We're taking the ferry off this island, right now." She said into the pillow.
Ash had to leave the room temporarily to retrieve Pikachu and his other Pokémon. When he returned he found May lying in her bed, holding up Mudkip over her head.
"Hey, Ash," she began quietly, not taking her gaze off her smiling Mudkip. She set the Pokémon down and hugged it close. "Are you... Ever going to, um... Make me give back Mudkip to Professor Birch?" She asked, dreading his answer.
Ash smirked as Mudkip nuzzled his head against May's cheek. "I don't think so, but that Thunder Stone is another story." He told her.
Ash yelped in surprise as May glomped him from the side, knocking him onto his bed. "Thankyouthankyouthankyou!" She exclaimed happily, squeezing his torso tightly before letting go. With that, she stood up straight and skipped into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
"Okay," Ash muttered with confusion.
The two packed up their stuff and cleaned up the room before peeking out the doorway and looking around the hall. When the two saw Norman wasn't anywhere to be seen, they tip toed down the hall before rushing into the lobby. Ash quickly returned the room keys to Nurse Joy before racing out of the building with May and Pikachu.
Finally feeling that they were in the clear, the three let out sighs of relief before slowing their pace down to a walk. The weather was still chilly, but not anywhere near as cold as it had been the previous night. Ash and May both hoped the trip to Slateport City would be much more comfortable than the last ferry ride had been. The town wasn't very large, so it didn't take them very long to reach the port and board the ferry.
What they hadn't noticed was a shadowy figure tailing far behind them.
May had to hold on to her bandana to prevent it from blowing away with the rushing wind. The sea breeze combined with the rushing ferry created frantic drafts, which blew the girl's hair in every direction.
She stood next to Ash, leaning against the cold, metal rail that ran along the edge of the deck. She let out a sigh of relief, feeling as though a heavy weight had been lifted from her shoulders. For the first time in the last day or so, she wasn't worried about her father being around.
She glanced over at Ash to see the boy watching sadly as Dewford Island grew smaller and smaller in the distance. Feeling a tingle of guilt, she turned away from him.
"It's fine." Ash assured her, noticing her reaction. "We can always go back later and so I can have my rematch."
May sighed but didn't look at him, rather turning her focus back to the island.
Feeling uncomfortable in the awkward silence, Ash looked around the deck to see if there was anything interesting. A poster caught his eye, its bright colors made it stick out from the rest of the environment.
"Pokémon Contests?" Ash read aloud with curiosity. He stepped away from the railing and over to the poster. May noticed Ash was walking away and followed after him. The two stopped in front of the large, brightly colored poster, which had several cute Pokémon plastered across it.
"Make battling an art." Ash read aloud, his gaze focused on the bottom of the poster. "The battlefield is a canvas waiting to be painted with astonishing and beautiful battles. Take this special opportunity to earn a ribbon."
The boy scratched his head in confusion. "What?" He asked, glancing at May to see if she understood it. The girl looked back at him and shrugged, not understanding it anymore than he did.
"It's simple, darlin'." A strange voice from behind them said. "Coordinators participate in contest and earn ribbons for winning."
Ash and May turned around to see a tall man with purple hair. He had on a strange green outfit and wore a green, pointy hat.
"How do you win?" May asked, looking at the oddly dressed man strangely.
The man grinned. "First you have to pass an appeal round, where you use dazzling Pokémon attacks to impress three judges." He said while holding up three fingers. "Then there are a series of battles that you go through, and losing means you're eliminated from the contest. The last one standing wins a shiny ribbon!"
Ash chuckled sheepishly and scratched the back of his neck. "Uh, I hate to sound rude, but... Who are you?"
The man twirled around on one foot before stopping and posing for them. "Harley's the name, winning's my game! I'm only the greatest coordinator in all of Hoenn!" He said, pointing to himself proudly with his thumb.
"What's the benefit of winning a ribbon?" May asked, stepping a little closer. "Are they really valuable?"
"Uh, you can't sell them." Harley admitted. May immediately lost interest. "But winning five allows a coordinator to have free access to participate in the Grand Festival."
"And if you win that?"
"You get a trophy."
"Which is worth?"
May was completely uninterested now, but Ash's eyes were sparkling with excitement. "These contest actually sound really cool!" He said. Pikachu nodded in agreement. "Can people watch them?"
"But of course!" Harley said, clasping his hands together as he imagined a crowd cheering for him. "In fact, contests are the greatest attraction in Slateport!"
May put her hands on her hips. "What about the beach?"
Harley sweat dropped. "Uh, that's a close second."
Ash looked at May with excitement. "It sounds really interesting, May. Maybe we should go watch one!" He suggested.
May opened her mouth to voice her disinterest, but remembered the only reason they were going to Slateport City was because of her problems. She sighed and bowed her head. She felt it was about time they did something Ash wanted to do. "I guess that might be fun." She muttered quietly.
"Well you're in luck, kiddos." Harley said, bending over so he was at eye level with them. "There's a contest this evening and it'll be featuring yours truly!"
May put on a fake smile. "Great."
The ferry arrived at the port of Slateport City. Ash, May, and Harley all got off using the ramp to the dock. Harley turned to them before putting one hand on his hip and giving Ash and May a thumbs up with the other. "So I'll see you two at the contest tonight, am I right?" He asked with a wink.
Ash grinned. "Yeah!" He said excitedly.
"Pika pika!" Pikachu said, equally happy.
"Mhm, yep," May said, unable to match the others' enthusiasm.
"Fantastic, I look forward to hear you cheering for me." Harley said confidently. With that he said goodbye and skipped away.
Ash chuckled and shook his head slightly. "Harley certainly is interesting." He said, looking over at May.
"Yeah, and weird," She added. She looked down at the watch she had stolen a long time ago, that was now strapped to her left wrist, to check the time. "The contest isn't for several more hours. What should we do?"
Ash, May, and Pikachu walked around Slateport City for a while, trying to find the Pokémon Center. After some time, the familiar building came into view, its front facing the beach. May's eyes sparkled upon seeing the vast ocean of blue laid out before her. The bright, sandy beach was full of people, umbrellas, and spread out towels. The glistening waves were crashing against the beach side, splashing into any unsuspecting victims.
"It's beautiful." May murmured. Ash stopped walking when he noticed May had stopped with her gaze locked on the beach. He strolled back over to her.
He too looked out at the cheerful scene. "Have you not ever been to the beach before?" He asked, glancing at May.
May shook her head, not taking her eyes off the beach. "No, my mother used to take me all the time before..." But her voice trailed off, leaving her to never complete the sentence. Ash's brow furrowed at May expression went from excitement and fascination to blank and emotionless.
The girl tore her gaze from the scene and looked at Ash with a sad smile. "L-let's go." She stammered, her watery eyes glistening. She walked past him and towards the Pokémon Center.
Ash raised a brow. "May, are you alright?" He asked.
Keeping her back to him, the girl wiped her eyes. "I'm fine." She assured him, but she never turned around to face him. Ash exchanged glances with Pikachu before shrugging, hurrying after her, and entering the Pokémon Center.
"Are you sure you don't want to go?" Ash asked. He had gotten a room at the Pokémon Center and had found May standing before the large windows at the front of the Pokémon Center. May was once again gazing at the beach.
"No, I'm fine." May said, taking a deep breath. Ash had asked if she wanted to go to the beach, but she had turned the offer down.
Ash once again noticed May's eyes beginning to water. He laid a hand on her shoulder. "Are you sure you're okay?" He asked gently.
May smiled and wiped her eyes. "Yeah." She said with a slight sniff. "This just brings back so many memories." She chuckled slightly, bowing her head. "One time, I was swimming around in the ocean when I was young, and found myself surrounded by several Tentacools." May began, laying her right hand on the polished window. A slight grin tugged at her lips as she thought about the memory. "My mom mistook me for a Pokémon and tried to catch me with an actual Pokéball."
Ash stifled a laugh, a grin now stretched across his face. "How on earth could she have mistaken you for a Pokémon?"
May laughed and shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe it was because she didn't have her contacts on and I was wearing a blue swimming cap." She said. A blush now stained her cheeks. "Needless to say it was really embarrassing."
Suddenly, she quickly turned to face Ash. She stood on her tiptoes and leaned forward, pointing a finger in his face. "And if you ever tell anyone about it, I'll skin you alive!" She warned him.
Ash laughed and put his hands up defensively. "Don't worry, your secret is safe with me."
The contest was fascinating, at least, to Ash it was. May watched with little interest. But through watching the contest, the two were able to better understand what contests were about. Rather than focusing on strength, contest focused on beauty. During the battle rounds, even if someone used an extremely powerful attack, the trainer would lose points if the attack was too lackluster.
"It's really a different way of battling." Ash observed, stroking his chin thoughtfully. He glanced at May, who still didn't seem interested. "I would have thought you'd have liked this. You're a sucker for shiny and sparkly things."
May smirked slightly at his comment. "I've never been into Pokémon battles." She told him, having to speak up in order to be heard over the roar of the crowd and explosions coming from the battlefield. "I only visited Birch for a starter because I wanted to make sure I could defend myself."
Ash's brow furrowed and he turned back to the show. Harley was battling a trainer Ash and May had never met before in the final round. Looking at the points, Harley was comfortably ahead.
"Maybe this could be something you could get into." Ash suggested with a smile. "I have a feeling that you would end up liking it."
May shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Nah, it's okay." She said, keeping her gaze on the battle and away from Ash.
Ash clapped as the round ended and Harley was declared the winner, thinking about how he could convince May to try out contests.
May woke up the next morning and glanced over at Ash's bed to see it was unoccupied. This was strange because she almost always woke up before he did. She scratched her head in confusion as she looked around to see he wasn't in the room either.
May jumped slightly at the noise and looked over at the foot of her bed to see Pikachu smiling cheerfully at her. She smiled and scratched under the electric mouse's chin, causing him to chirp in delight. She threw off her covers and tiredly sat at the edge of the bed, the cold floor causing her feet to tingle.
Pushing the thoughts of Ash's whereabouts aside, May stood up and stretched, letting a yawn escape her mouth. She quickly got dressed, let Pikachu climb up onto her shoulder, and left the rented room, stepping out into the hall. She walked down the hall until she reached the lobby, finding Ash was nowhere to be found. When she asked Pikachu where his trainer had gone, he simply smiled, but wouldn't answer, not that it really mattered. May wouldn't have been able to understand what he was saying anyways.
So she sat down in the cafeteria to order breakfast, but it wasn't long before Ash came through the main entrance of the Pokémon Center. He walked over to May with an excited sparkle in his eyes. He flopped down in the chair across the table from the girl with a goofy grin plastered across his face.
May looked at him curiously. "You seem quite upbeat this morning." She observed. "Where'd you go off to?"
Ash's smile only grew as he dug through his pockets and pulled out two Pokéballs, which he dropped on the table. "I caught two really cool Pokémon." He said excitedly.
May found Ash's smile to be contagious as a grin stretched across her face as well. "Good for you." She said cheerfully. "Can I see them?"
Ash nodded and grabbed the Pokéballs. He enlarged them and released them on the floor by the table. One was a red Pokémon with large round claws while the other was a pinkish feline Pokémon with squinty eyes and a strange tail.
"What Pokémon are they?" May asked, smiling down at the two new Pokémon.
"This is a Corphish, and that's Skitty." Ash said, gesturing to the Pokémon. Corphish snapped its claws open and closed several times and Skitty meowed cutely while looking up at May.
"Aww, this one is adorable." May squealed, reaching down towards Skitty. She grabbed it and picked it up before setting the cat like Pokémon in her lap. Skitty meowed again and wagged its tail excitedly.
Ash grinned upon seeing May taking a liking to Skitty. "Actually, I was planning on giving Skitty to you." He admitted.
May looked at him with surprise. "R-really? Y-you were?" She stammered, looking down at the Pokémon in her lap
The boy nodded. "Yeah, I was hoping you might be interested in using her in a contest."
"Now, I know you're not very fond of battling." Ash said, picking up Corphish and setting it down on his lap. "But as of now, you're only passion is stealing. We need to find you a new passion or hobby to replace it and get you out of this bad habit that you have."
May began to stroke the fur on Skitty's head. "But..."
"May," Ash began, looking at her sincerely. "Please try it, just once. I'll even help you practice."
May looked down at Skitty before letting out a sigh. "Oh all right..."
Ash, May, and Pikachu had all gone into the forest next to the city to find a good training spot. When they finally found a nice, open area, May called out Skitty.
"So um... How do I... Uh... Practice for this?" May asked, putting her hands on her hips as she watched Skitty, who had already gotten sidetracked and was chasing her own tail.
Ash scratched the back of his head, unsure of where to begin. He had never trained for a Pokémon Contest before.
Ash, May, Pikachu, and Skitty all glanced east upon hearing an ever so familiar voice ring through the air. They were surprise to see Harley walk into the clearing, marching over to the trainers.
"Well, well, what brings you two all the way out here?" Harley asked in a strange singsong voice, stopping a couple a feet away from them.
Ash grinned and adjusted the cap on his forehead. "May is training to participate in a contest." He said.
Harley clasped his hands together. "Oh really? Inspired by my brilliant performance, I see." He said arrogantly. "How is the training going?"
"Um... Honestly, we don't know where to start." May admitted with a sigh.
Harley smirked slightly and put his hands on his hips. "Oh? Well I 'ain't no rocket scientist, hon, but that sounds like a problem." He said. He stepped over to Skitty and crouched down by her. The small Pokémon slowly backed away. "Is this the Pokémon you plan on training?" He asked.
Ash and May nodded.
Harley then proceeded to give them a speech and full-blown lesson about Pokémon Contest. The two other trainers sat in the cool grass, side by side with Pikachu and Skitty in their laps as he rambled on and on about various elements of the competition.
Eventually Harley finished with his speech and released his Cacturne. He began to call out attacks. Cacturne performed the attacks that were ordered majestically, Ash couldn't help but notice the extra flash in the moves. Harley surprised them both by showing them combinations using different moves together to create interesting outcomes.
Then came implementing what they had learned. With a little help from Ash and Harley, May began to figure out several of the moves Skitty knew and how she could apply them to please the judges of a contest.
Although the learning session was long and exhausting, Ash could tell May was having a good time and enjoying the quality time with Skitty. The time seemed to fly by, and before they all knew it, the sun was setting. The evening sky was tinted orange from the setting sun and a cool ocean breeze swept through the air.
May giggled as she laid in the grass and Skitty hopped lightly on her stomach. Ash, who was standing, turned to Harley, with a grateful smile.
"Thanks a lot for helping May out today." Ash said with a smile.
Harley waved it off bashfully. "Well I couldn't help it." He said. "You two would have been hopelessly lost without my genius to guide your way."
"Yeah..." Ash said, scratching the back of his head. "Right."
Harley once again said goodbye and proudly marched away in the direction of Slateport City. Ash sighed and flopped down in the grass beside May, taking off his hat and running his hand through his hair. "Well that was exhausting." He admitted.
May smiled and rolled her head to the side, looking over at him. "But we made a lot of progress!" She said excitedly. "I can feel my bond with Skitty strengthening! Soon I'll be able to talk to her like you can to Pikachu!"
Ash chuckled, and looked at her. "Hate to break it to you, but that's not going to happen so quickly." He told her.
May pouted and turned her gaze up to the clouds. As she and Ash laid in the grass silently, a grin stretched across her face. "You know, I didn't want to participate in a contest earlier." She admitted. "But now that we've been practicing and learned some tricks from Harley, I'm kind of looking forward to it."
Ash smiled happily, glad to hear May was going to try out contests with an open heart. "Just try your best." Ash told her. "I'm sure you'll do fine."
May nodded in agreement.
"Okay, so... Strange question."
"Is Harley a man or a woman?"
So I had this really weird idea for a fic the other day. It's quite strange... so stop me if I'm going crazy. xD It's an Advanceshipping fic, of course, about Ash and May figuring out that they love each other and becoming a couple, but Dawn comes in and out of jealousy tries to stop them from getting into a relationship. The catch is that Dawn doesn't want to get with Ash. She's a lesbian. xD xD xD
AdvanceShipping vs. SapphirePearlShipping
Yeah, okay, so real talk. I've figure out what I want to do next. I want to rewrite Fiercer Than a Legendary. But before I tackle such a massive project, I want to make sure that I know what I'm getting into with this rewriting fics business. I plan on rewriting Lessons Learned so I make sure I know what I'm doing and because that also needs to be re-written.
Thanks for reading,
~ The Shiny Gengar