Chapter 53: Catch My Breath

This is not my idea of fun. I could be helping Roxas or at least tried to convince May to go somewhere else, Ash sighed. Guess I'll have to manage, the boy lamented in his mind over the situation he was in.

He had promised May they would do something interesting once they reached Nimbasa City to forget of the disasters they've witnessed in their journey. What they had ended up doing was going to a fashion show with a bunch of models simply walking back and forth showing off clothes. With Hilda's help there was no way Ash could argue against May and Hilda while Hilbert had decided to step aside.

Ash turned with Pikachu and an invisible Victini to May's direction and looked her smile happily as she spoke about the clothes with Hilda. The pair looked mesmerized, especially May, and this merely made Ash chuckle. "Well as long as she's not worried and is having a good time, I guess I'm happy," Ash spoke to the two Pokémon with a content smile.

"You know my mom always use to tell me that you can never argue with a girl. One way or another they'll end up winning, like it or not," Hilbert talked to Ash through all the yelling from the crowds surrounding them.

"Yeah, I'm starting to learn that. That doesn't mean I'll always spoil May, but I'm willing to always go out of my way to make sure she's happy even if it means dropping my pride," Ash responded to Hilbert, surprising Pikachu with his answer.

The yellow mouse looked at Victini with a smile as he could tell that Ash was slowly growing into a more mature boyfriend and adult. Victini agreed with a nod as they turned back to the models who merely flashed some skin along with some exotic clothing.

"I need to have that leather jacket!" May clasped her hands as her eyes glistened when she saw one model flashing a leather jacket with ripped jeans as well as black heels.

"Looks like you're into the bad girl image May," Hilda winked at May then giggled.

May looked at her with a blush as she turned to look at the show. "For the most part I wear pretty regular clothes. I don't think I can afford leather or fancy heels."

"Would you buy these kinds of clothes to look good for Ash?" Hilda teased the brunette.

May turned red again as she replied with a low voice, "May be…"

Hilda laughed as she focused on the pants of one model. "I think most of these clothes would suit you. Those tight leather pants are perfect for your legs. I don't know if anyone has ever told you May, but you have a man's idea of an ideal female body."

"You wouldn't be the first to tell me that, but I'm still trying to figure out if that's a good thing," May giggled as she recalled the attention she tended to gain from men, even from men far older than her.

"Just remember to tell all those wandering eyes that you've got a man," Hilda chuckled as she turned over to Ash.

"Yeah, the one and only," May eyed Ash as he was busy talking to Hilbert. She wasn't worried about him staring at the models because of his childlike nature, but as she thought about him she felt like rushing over to him and hugging him until they could feel each other's heartbeats. I love him, May thought as her eyes stayed focused on him for a good amount of time.

"And now, laaaadies and geeeeentleman! I'm proud to present the star of the show, Unova's top model, the Gym Leader of Nimbasa City," the announcer made an introduction for the next part of the show.

Gym Leader?! Ash's eyes widened, surprised to hear the news of Nimbasa City having its own gym.

"They have a gym here huh? And she's a model…wow," May thought with curiosity.

"I'm sure I know who it is," Hilda thought with interest.

"This is going to be interesting," Hilbert crossed his arms.

"Everyone please welcome the electrifying ELESA!" the announcer shouted as crowds erupted in squeals, even some men went berserk over the announcement.

Suddenly, bolts of electricity shout of the curtain and a cloud of smoke appeared. From the cloud emerged one of the most beautiful women May had ever seen. She was gorgeous from top to bottom and showed off some very appealing clothing. She wore a bright yellow coat and some thick heels of the same color to match. She wore a bright blue bikini underneath and sported some other very unique accessories.

As she walked past the crowds of roaring fans, many wanted to have her notice them or even get a glance. Every step she took made a bolt of lightning shoot from the ground and it was almost like fireworks.

Women squealed over Elesa's figure and her fashion while men's eyes turned to hearts. Ash cared little for Elesa as a model and looked around chuckling, imagining Brock among the men who would have their hearts melting over the sight of Elesa. What Ash cared more for, however, was the fact that this model was the formidable Nimbasa City Gym Leader.

"She sure knows how to woo an audience," Hilbert found the model appealing, but he didn't think much else of the woman.

As Elesa walked by she turned over to Ash's spot and noticed Pikachu resting on the boy's shoulders. Elesa smiled as she stopped at the edge of the platform with a flirty smile on her face. Many held out their hands to her, but Elesa's eyes were set on Ash. She silently motioned her finger at herself as she called Ash over.

"Ash I think she's calling you," Hilbert looked surprised.

"Me, but why?" Ash became just as shocked as Hilbert and just looked around as if that would give him an answer.

"That's weird, why did Elesa stop to call over Ash?" Hilda raised an eyebrow.

"I have no idea," May eyed her boyfriend and at Elesa, wondering what would happen next. She decided she wanted to get involved in some of the action as well, squeezing through crowds to get closer to Ash.

"Yes?" Ash asked curiously as he stood before the woman. He wondered if she was actually this tall or might just be the heels. His eyes met her and she just grinned at him.

"I couldn't help but notice that you have a dazzling Pikachu," Elesa looked at Pikachu with a smile.

"Pika," Pikachu blushed over the compliment as she he scratched the back of his head.

"Thank you from both us," Ash smiled, realizing that it was because of Pikachu that they had gotten called over.

"You also happen to be very cute," Elesa winked at him, making all the males around Ash get jealous as he just raised an eyebrow.

"Thank…you?" Ash wasn't sure how to respond to that.

Just as Elesa prepared to speak May popped up from behind Ash and pulled his arm. "I'm sorry, but he's taken," May spoke sternly as she held Ash's arms with both of hers.

Ash found himself between a rock and a hard place, so it made the raven-haired teen chuckle nervously as he felt May give Elesa somewhat of a glare. "Oh I'm sorry, I was only complimenting him. It's good to know that he has a beautiful girlfriend though," Elesa handled May's sassy response with a kind and professional reply.

May could quickly tell through Elesa's tone and smile that she had not been hitting on Ash like she had originally thought. At that point she released Ash with a grin on her face, "Thank you, I agree he is a cutie."

"Well if you don't mind, I just want you two to know that you're a very cute couple," Elesa winked.

"Thanks Elesa," Ash smiled sheepishly.

"We really appreciate it. You're really beautiful too!" May replied.

"Why thank you, so what are your names?" Elesa questioned.

"Oh I'm sorry! My name is May!" May replied with a warm greeting.

"And my name is Ash, nice to meet you!" Ash spoke kindly to the model.

"And I'm Elesa, Nimbasa City's Gym Leader. Pleased to meet both of you," Elesa bowed.

Everyone else, including Hilbert and Hilda, watched the entire exchange with interest. Some got annoyed that Elesa had halted the show while others were busy envying Ash and May, but the room was silent.

"The Nimbasa City Gym Leader huh?" Ash grinned confidently as he repeated Elesa's words.

"Oh, you seem interested in that piece of information," Elesa raised an eyebrow.

"Well I'm a Pokémon trainer and I've been going around collecting badges, so-," Ash got his response cut by the super model.

"Challenge accepted," Elesa grinned slyly at Ash, knowing what the boy was going to say.

At first Ash got surprised by Elesa's response since he didn't finish saying his request, but then he made a fist of confidence, "Awesome."

"Well that will be a strange and interesting first date," Elesa winked at the boy, making Ash turn slightly red by the sudden comment.

"What?" May's eyes widened and nearly prepared to spat back at the celebrity.

"Kidding, sorry," Elesa giggled as Ash and May's nerves settled. "One thing I should let you is I can't battle you today because of the fashion shows we're holding. Come back first thing in the morning tomorrow, so we can have our match."

"Sounds good to me," Ash smiled confidently.

"Very well, I hope you've been training. It will be a shocking one," Elesa chuckled as she turned, letting sparks fly from the stand and the show continued like it had never paused.

"We'll see," Ash grinned confidently as he eyed the flirtatious, beautiful, and talented Elesa.

"Hey look what I found!" Hilda changed through the channels as she sat on the edge of the bed. She stopped on one channel that featured a recent battle between Elesa and a trainer battling for his final badge.

"One of Elesa's battles," Ash had been organizing his backpack, but he turned to the T.V when he saw her.

"Ash, I think you should pay close attention to this for your match tomorrow," Hilbert lay on the other bed next to the one Hilda sat on.

"Apparently it's a whole marathon of Elesa's best battles," Hilda looked at the T.V Guide.

"Cities in Unova sure know how to worship their Gym Leaders huh?" May recalled the amount of fandom there was over Roxie back in Virbank City.

"Welcome to Unova, home of celebrity worship," Hilbert lay relaxed on the bed as they were settling in Nimbasa City's Pokémon Center for the night.

"Well all that matters to me is how useful this will be for my battle tomorrow," Ash eagerly sat down next to Hilda as Victini and Pikachu rested near him to watch the battles as well. May sat next to Ash and rested her head on his shoulder as the four watched Elesa's abilities as a battler.

For the next two hours, they witnessed Elesa masterfully executing the power of Electric-types, with Ash learning that she preferred Electric-types. They had seen Zebstrika's combination of Wild Charge and Flame Charge. The speed of her Pokémon astounded them, but even more was the fact that she was able to bring down Pokémon as big as Onix or as fast as Liepard.

By the time they finished watching the battles, Ash found himself already cornered without even battling Elesa yet. May, Hilda, and Hilbert looked at Ash with concern as he appeared deep in thought.

"Ash?" May waved her hand in front of his eyes.

Ash quickly shook his head to snap out of his train of thought. "Pi?" Pikachu asked the boy.

"Tini vi?" Victini basically inquired the same thing.

"I have to come up with some strategies," Ash answered as he stood up from the bed.

"You just saw how tough Elesa is; do you think you can up with a strategy by tomorrow?" Hilbert inquired.

"I know I can!" Ash answered confidently.

"Are you going to go out and train at this hour?" Hilda questioned, looking out at the darkness of the night.

"I guess it's too late to do that, but I have another idea," Ash smiled at the group.

"What is it Ash?" May gazed at him curiously with Victini and Pikachu.

Ash opened a drawer from the furniture, conveniently finding a piece of paper and a pen. "I'm just going to come up with strategies in a more conventional way," Ash showed them the paper and pen.

"Sounds like a plan," Hilbert nodded.

Ash quickly grabbed a chair and sat near the furniture. He thought with a concentrated look over how to approach his battle with Elesa. He drew a couple of arrows and wrote several words down as his friends just watched him.

"We'll go help Ash come up with something," May told Hilbert and Hilda as they walked over to the furniture.

Hilbert and Hilda nodded to May then they returned to watching television. May got a chair and sat next to Ash with Pikachu and Victini. "What ideas do you have so far Ash?" May questioned.

"Not much, most of my strategies are just counterattacks. I still have to come up with a defense that doesn't rely so much on countering and an effective offense," Ash thought hard as he continued scribbling things on the paper only he would understand.

"Well we could help you come up with something," May volunteered. "Isn't that right guys?" the brunette looked at the pair.

"Pika," Pikachu nodded happily.

"Vi!" Victini flew around cheerfully.

"That's nice of you guys," Ash smiled thankfully at them, but quickly returned his eyes to the paper.

For the next thirty minutes or so, the four were thinking of ways to come up with an effective battle strategy. However, as the minutes passed Ash could slowly feel himself fall into uneasiness. Images of Elesa covering the battlefield in electricity to paralyze her opponents worried Ash, if Elesa did something like that how could I use speed or even attack against her?

Even worse is how she was able to use Thunderbolt, Ash sweated as he recalled the moment. Elesa's Zebstrika could unleash multiple Thunderbolts upon the stage and blast everywhere, there was nowhere to run or hide if he tried to avoid Elesa's tricks.

How can I possibly fight against someone who is a master of using the battlefield as a weapon? Ash could feel the stress built up as he lost confidence. He has faced many clever and powerful opponents in the past, but Elesa's battle style was rather unorthodox and his gym badge was depending on a clever strategy.

"Pikachu, Victini, what do you guys think of this strategy?" May spoke enthusiastically to them over her idea. Ash became too concerned with his situation to care for their mumbling as he would scribble over on strategy after another.

"Hey Ash," May tapped his shoulder, making him lose focus, slightly annoying him in the process.

"Yeah May?" Ash mustered a weak smile.

"Pikachu, Victini, and I think you should use Pikachu for your battle. Since he's an Electric-type, electric moves shouldn't be very effective and his speed will come in handy against all of her Pokémon! Don't you think?!" May said with a very enthusiastic tone, but Ash didn't seem very convinced.

"That sounds like a good plan May, but I need to mix it up. Something less predictable would help," Ash disagreed with May's suggestion.

"But Ash, Pikachu is the fastest Pokémon you have. I think it'd do great against all of Elesa's fast Pokémon," May argued, a bit offended by Ash's response.

"Pika pikachu pi," Pikachu also insisted with the girl. The mouse pounded his chest to show that he could take on the challenge.

"It sounds good guys, but this is someone familiar with electric Pokémon and knows that I have a Pikachu. A trainer like Elesa is probably expecting me to use Pikachu. I need something more spontaneous and strategic, not just speed and Pokémon types," Ash argued, getting more annoyed with their insistence.

"Tini vi victini," Victini flew around Ash, believing that Pikachu was still capable of battling against Pikachu; however, the trainer merely ignored him.

"Ash, but-," May tried to get through to him, but he cut her off.

"No May, it won't work, thank you for your help, but I don't think it'll work. I know I can come up with something on my own," Ash spoke with an annoyed tone, catching the attention of Hilbert and Hilda.

May, Victini, and Pikachu's expressions all looked hurt as Ash frowned at them. The raven-haired teen looked at them and sighed as he turned back to his paper. Ash's girlfriend frowned back in response. "On your own huh, Fine!" May sassily got up as she talked aggressively, but Ash didn't seem to care.

This only infuriated May even more as she glared at him. "Come on Pikachu and Victini; let's leave this prideful boy to himself. He obviously doesn't need help in anything!" May spat as she turned around.

"Ti…" Victini looked at May and then at Ash, who did not seem to care for what was going on. As he saw May walk away, the Fire-type reluctantly flew away with her, his feelings hurt inside.

"Pika," Pikachu frowned in disapproval over Ash's arrogance. He quickly leaped on May's shoulder then left with the pair.

The trio angrily slammed the door behind them with Ash still sitting there, focused on his work. "Did you just see that happen or was it only me?" Hilda whispered to Hilbert.

"No Hilda, I saw it too. Wow…" Hilbert looked at Ash and the door with disbelief.

"I never thought I'd see the day," Hilda felt shocked inside, wondering how a super couple, like Ash and May, suddenly didn't seem so…super.

"I've got an idea!" Ash snapped his fingers. He excitedly got up his chair.

"Where are you going?" Hilbert noticed that it looked like he was about to head somewhere.

"To transfer some Pokémon," Ash smiled joyfully. The boy then left the room in a dash, leaving the door opened.

"Do you think he even noticed that they left?" Hilda inquired.

"I sure hope so…or all that love they have is about to down the drain," Hilbert gulped.

"We have to do something Hilbert," Hilda frowned, feeling a sense of frustration, with her anger aimed at Ash.

"It's best not to, Hilda. This is Ash and May's business and I feel like they need to solve it, not us. I would like to do something about it as well, but they're the couple and having them solve it will be an important experience to help their relationship grow," Hilbert explained, desperately trying to stop himself from intervening as well. Hilda sighed beside him, realizing that the boy made a point.

They just simply sat on the bed with worries in their minds. They could only hope for the best as they tried to understand where Ash and May messed up.

"What's that jerk's problem? We were only trying to help," May angrily stomped on the grass as Pikachu and Victini rested on her shoulders. "Ash, being the overconfident jerk that he is, thinks he's always the man with the plan."

"V," Victini sighed, never expecting to hear May speak so badly of Ash.

May sighed, realizing that complaining wasn't helping Victini's mood. "Why did he have to be cold about it?" the coordinator helplessly dropped on the grass with the two Pokémon.

"Pi," Pikachu lowered his ears in sadness.

"Tini victini," Victini began to whimper as tears rolled down its cheeks.

"I never expected there would be a day where we'd have a fight as a couple. He didn't even care, he seemed so vain," May lowered her head in sadness as she brought her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs.

"Pikachu pi pika pipipi," Pikachu tried to cheer the pair up by recalling the many scuffles he and Ash had that always ended happily.

"I don't want our relationship or friendship to end just because of a stupid fight," May hid her face in her chest as she fought back tears, promising herself that she wouldn't cry over something ridiculous.

Pikachu patted her back as Victini tried to stay strong for its friend, but the two shared the same pain. "Looks like there isn't such a thing called 'perfect couple' after all," May murmured as she trembled from trying to force back tears.

Pikachu and Victini hugged May as they tried to keep the girl strong. Victini was hurting inside and so was Pikachu, but they both understood that May was the most vulnerable since she was Ash's girlfriend. Being the love of Ash's life, she was not use to that kind of treatment.

They held the sensitive human being with their tiny arms as she just remained there like a statue. "I just hope he ends up realizing he can stop being dense and figure out what he did wrong," the sapphire-eyed girl raised her head, still staying tough and keeping every tear inside.

"Do you guys think we'll break up now?" May looked at them. With this being her first relationship, May was not sure about what would happen next and searched frantically inside herself for answers.

"Pi…pikachu pika," Pikachu touched May's arm and nodded sideways.

"Tini vi victini," Victini nuzzled May's cheek, overcoming its sadness in the process.

"Our bond is too strong to be broken so easily?" May looked at the two adorable Pokémon with a curious expression.

Pikachu and Victini nodded simultaneously. The reassuring smiles on their faces eased May's heart as she giggled a bit, "That's funny. I really understood that."

"Vi," Victini pointed at May's heart so she would know that the emotions in there would not let her love for Ash escape easily. He also reassured her that Ash would not do the same and things would be mended.

May smiled as she lay back on the grass with Victini and Pikachu cuddling beside her. Together, the three stared at the night sky with fascination. The tender moment showed how strong May's bond with Victini and Pikachu was, even without Ash. The two Pokémon loved her like a friend and a mother.

"C'mon guys, Elesa is just inside!" Ash ran to the entrance of the Nimbasa City Gym, hurrying up his friends.

"Humph," May glared at Ash as she took her time walking to the entrance with Victini and Pikachu while Hilbert and Hilda caught up with Ash.

"What's wrong guys?" Ash asked them with concern, knowing that they were visibly mad.

"Why don't you figure it out?" May turned her head ahead in a diva-like way, leaving Ash a bit hurt.

Ash looked at the trio and saw that the Pokémon seemed just as upset. The three walked past him while Hilbert and Hilda just looked at the exchange. The raven-haired teen turned to Hilbert and Hilda, but they shrugged their shoulders to show they weren't aware of anything.

The gang entered the building, yet they got surprised by the small room they found. There was no one around; however, there was a roller coaster track and a single ride resting there. Coincidentally, the ride was big enough for four people.

"Why is this room so small?" Hilda looked around, expecting the gym to be bigger.

"And why is there a mini roller coaster?" Hilbert raised an eyebrow.

"Guess we won't find out until we get on!" May cheered, smiling at Hilbert and Hilda. She ran over to the ride and hopped in with Victini and Pikachu.

"Right behind you, come on Hilbert!" Hilda got excited and pulled Hilbert by the arm as they got on the roller coaster.

"Guess May's right," Ash walked over to the ride. He saw the empty seat in the front row, next to May. He caught May's glaring eyes when she looked at him, leaving him with a sense of sadness.

"Is it alright if I sit here?" Ash asked timidly.

"You have to battle Elesa don't you? I don't see any other option," May spoke with extreme sass as Ash shyly sat next to her. The brunette next to him moved her eyes away, trying to focus on the tracks instead.

I hate being this tough on him, but Ash can't play dumb forever. If we want to continue being a couple he has to know that it's not alright to put his pride over everything else, please Ash…you have to realize this, May took a quick glance at the auburn-eyed teen.

"Please fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride," a robotic voice stated, catching the group's attention.

They weren't sure where the voice came from, but they obeyed. They buckled their seatbelts then before they knew it, they were off. The roller coaster shot off like a bullet train, startling the gang at first.

"Holy!" Hilda held on to her seat as she felt like she would fly any second.

"Wow!" Hilbert gritted his teeth as he held on to the metal bars of the ride.

"Woohoo!" May cheered with full joy as Pikachu and Victini struggled to hold on.

"This is the fastest ride I've ever been in!" Ash could feel tears flying off his eyes as he grinded his teeth.

The ride made a 360 degree spin and at one point was riding on the track upside-down. One thing the group didn't regret about the experience was they decided to have a light breakfast, so there was little risk of barfing.

There were more crazy twists as turns through the ride, but thankfully it all came to an end after 5 minutes. In those 5 minutes though, the gang felt dizzier than they have ever felt.

"Thank you for riding with us and good luck," the robotic voice spoke as the roller coaster stopped in a room about the same size as the one they discovered earlier.

The gang unbuckled their belts and clumsily got off the ride. "Well that was fun," May grinned contently, even though she took a few clumsy steps.

"I just wanted to have my gym battle," Ash's legs trembled as he got off the ride.

"At least it's over right?" Hilbert dropped on his knees when he touched the floor, thankful that it was over.

"I'm never getting on that thing again," Hilda had a difficult time maintaining her balance.

"Piiii," Pikachu was seeing stars as he tried to hold onto to May.

"Vini vi," Victini flew around aimlessly as he tried to recover his balance.

Luckily, the group recovered from the ride, with their minds returning to the goal at hand. They noticed some stairs leading up to another room. It was the only way out of the room other than the roller coaster, so they saw no option but to climb it.

"You think these stairs lead to Elesa?" Ash wondered as he walked towards them.

"Probably so," Hilbert answered.

"What if it's another roller coaster?" Hilda gulped.

"I don't think so, the mechanical voice that talked before made it sound like we had finished the whole ride. I have a feeling these stairs lead to the battlefield," May assumed as she walked behind Ash.

The group quietly walked upstairs. What they noticed was that the more they walked up, the louder it got. There was cheering and yelling from what sounded like people. "Elesa, Elesa, Elesa!" the noises repeated.

"Look," Hilda pointed to the light coming from the entrance just a few steps away.

"Guess you were right May," Ash let out a deep breath, forming a confident smile as he prepared for his moment of truth.

They walked out into the light and like May had said, there was Elesa. She stood at the other end of a metallic battlefield. Surrounding the stadium was a loud audience. They waved flags with Elesa on them. Some dressed like Elesa, others threw roses at her. The amount of fans there was almost as overwhelming as Roxie's fans in Virbank.

"We've been expecting you," Elesa winked at Ash with a confident grin,

"And I'm here ready, set for my victory," Ash adjusted his fingerless gloves as he prepared for his biggest match yet.

"Good luck Ash," Hilbert spoke to Ash from behind.

"We're wishing you the best," Hilda said to the boy.

"Thanks guys," Ash smiled back, but his eyes quickly wandered to May, Victini, and Pikachu.

They took a glance at them, yet they quickly walked over to the bench to sit down. They said nothing to the boy; even their faces were emotionless when they glanced at him. Confused, Ash merely sighed and walked onto the battlefield.

Hilda and Hilbert sat next to May with disappointed eyes, wondering what would become of Ash and May. Ash, on the other hand tried to keep it away from his mind. Instead, he focused on his battle. He did not expect to encounter the same reception as in Virbank City. In Nimbasa City the people seemed just as passionate about Elesa as Roxie's fans in Virbank.

Oh well, a gym leader is a gym leader, Ash thought as he reached for a Pokéball.

The referee stated the rules for the match very briefly, then with a motion of his arms, he declared, "Let the battle begin!"

"Alright Ash, I'm excited to see what you can do. Let's see if you meet up to your reputation," Elesa reached for her Pokéball.

"I'm going to win this no matter what, know that!" Ash smiled confidently as he gave her an intense stare.

"That's what I like to hear," Elesa chuckled. She threw her Pokéball in the air with that said, "Let's my sparkling Zebstrika!"

From Elesa's Pokéball emerged a black and white Pokémon that resembled a zebra except parts of its body were shaped like lightning bolts, including its two horns.

I knew it, Ash grinned. "Let's go Palpitoad!" Ash shouted as he threw his Pokéball. The blue toad-like Pokémon burst out with full energy, but the surprising twist was Palpitoad's first attack, which Ash didn't even command.

"Pal!" the Water-type flung its tongue and released Mud Shot.

The move surprised everyone except for Elesa. "Dodge with Quick Attack," Elesa ordered calmly.

Zebstrika got its focus on then with the energy it mustered, the Electric-type easily dodged the shots of mud. His fast pace also brought him close to Palpitoad as he prepared to hit the Ground-type.

"Supersonic!" Ash reacted quickly; shocked that Elesa had managed to outmaneuver him.

"Sidestep," Elesa commanded.

As Palpitoad's Supersonic came in, Zebstrika pulled the brakes and slid to the left, away from harm's way. The standoff left the four opponents wondering how they could defeat each other. Unfortunately for Ash, not even his sneak attacks would be enough to overwhelm Elesa as she has already proven that she can improvise fairly quickly.

"You know, just because you have a Ground-type at your disposal doesn't mean you'll overpower me," Elesa crossed her arms cockily.

"I'm sure it'll take more than that Elesa, but I'm not going to give up," Ash grinned confidently as he stretched his arm out. "Palpitoad, use Hydro Pump!" Ash yelled.

"Is he serious?" Elesa raised an eyebrow. She shrugged her shoulders then made her move, "Zebstrika, use Wild Charge!"

"Paaaalpitoad!" Palpitoad unleashed the powerful water move.

Zebstrika neighed loudly as it charged towards the Hydro Pump with bright and powerful electricity enveloping its entire body. When the two attacks made collision, not surprisingly, Zebstrika easily overwhelmed Hydro Pump.

When the electricity destroyed the last of the Hydro Pump though, Zebstrika and Elesa met another surprise. As soon Zebstrika burst out of the Hydro Pump, it tripped thanks to Palpitoad's elastic tongue.

Zebstrika neighed loudly as it flew into the air due to the tremendous speed it had built up. Elesa's eyes widened, surprised by the twist. "Now Mud Shot!" Ash made a fist.

Palpitoad rolled back its tongue as it smirked. The heavy Water-type then swung its tongue one more time, releasing balls of Mud at Zebstrika. The helpless Electric-type flailed in the air as the Mud Shot hit against it like bullets.

With not much to do, Zebstrika fell helplessly on the metal field. "Zebstrika, please get up! We can still win, use Flame Charge!"

Zebstrika huffed as it attempted to get up. "Not so fast," Ash smirked. He pointed at Zebstrika's hooves with a very cocky grin, "Use Sludge Wave to immobilize Zebstrika!"

Palpitoad nodded as it jumped into the air. With its power, the Water-type surrounded itself in purple goo that was then hurled at Zebstrika. Unfortunately for Ash and Palpitoad, as soon as the Sludge Wave made contact a powerful fire enveloped Zebstrika and destroyed the sludge.

"Go!" Elesa shouted as she stretched her arm forward.

The crowd cheered anxiously when they realized that Elesa had gotten fired up. They whistled and shouted her name as Zebstrika charged forward, leaving a trail fire behind. Ash; however, felt Elesa's move was questionable. Why would she use a fire move on a Water-type? The raven-haired trainer quickly pushed the thought aside then planned his next move, "Counter with Hydro Pump!"

"Palpitoad!" Palpitoad opened its jaw, releasing the powerful pressurized water.

Ash expected the fire to merely be put out while Zebstrika takes damage. At the same time, the fog would allow Palpitoad to make a sneak attack. That whole planned crumbled once Elesa made her next move.

"Let's spark things up!" Elesa snapped her fingers.

Suddenly, Zebstrika's Flame Charge transformed into Wild Charge. The Electric-type move eradicated Hydro Pump, leaving Ash caught off guard. If she's going to pull that one again, then we'll do the same, Ash regained his composure as Zebstrika charged forward.

When Zebstrika nearly finished destroying Hydro Pump, one other move left Ash shocked. Abruptly, Zebstrika stepped to the side and thanks to its amazing speed; it sent Palpitoad flying with a Double Kick from the side.

The zebra-like Pokémon's phenomenal speed had become Palpitoad's downfall. With so little time to react, the Ground-type had to simply endure the pain of Double Kick as it flew in the air.

"How did Elesa pull that off?" Hilda gasped, amazed by the speed.

"All that running with Flame Charge and Wild Charge enhanced Zebstrika's speed. The more Zebstrika used those moves, the faster it got. It's a brilliant method," Hilbert complimented Ash's formidable opponent.

May, Victini, and Pikachu watched with neutral expressions, successfully hiding the concerns and pity they had for Ash and Palpitoad. None of them said a word.

"Don't underestimate us Ash, there's more where that came from," Elesa made a very flirtatious pose for her fans as her hair glistened beautifully under the light.

"We'll just see if that's enough," Ash gritted his teeth.

"Quick Attack," Elesa pointed at the dropping Palpitoad.

Zebstrika got on its hind feet as it swung its front hooves. Then with another loud neigh it charged at an incredible pace. Just before Palpitoad could land, Zebstrika closed in and spun around to deliver a Double Kick once more.

"Not this time, Supersonic!" Ash punched the air.

All of a sudden, Zebstrika's Double Kick sent Palpitoad flying, but the toad Pokémon released a powerful sound wave that sent Zebstrika back as well.

"Palpitoad, hang on!" Ash instructed. Luckily, the Water-type did just that and found ground as it endured the heavy blow from Double Kick. Palpitoad winced in pain as it watched Zebstrika shake its head repeatedly from a distance.

The Electric-type was running around in circles, neighing aimlessly. "Zebstrika!" Elesa gasped, shocked by the twist.

"Looks like Ash's plan worked," Hilbert crossed his arms.

"Zebstrika is confused, Ash has Elesa in a corner," Hilda felt sure over Ash's victory.

"Perfect. Let's go Palpitoad, Mud Shot!" Ash raised his arm into the air.

Palpitoad mustered the power it had left, ultimately swinging its tongue with Mud Shot flying out. "Zebstrika snap out of it!" Elesa pleaded, but it had become hopeless. The zebra Pokémon suffered as the mud bashed against its body, sending the creature back.

"Hydro Pump!" Ash grinded his teeth.

"No!" Elesa shouted.

Palpitoad smirked, unleashing the Water-type move that finished Zebstrika. The Electric-type Pokémon cried in pain as Hydro Pump made it bang against the concrete wall. With nothing left to do, the Pokémon dropped on the ground like a doll.

"Zebstrika is unable to battle!" the referee declared when he saw Zebstrika's swirl eyes.

The crowd erupted in boos as Ash ignored them, not caring for what a bunch of fans had to say. Elesa urged them to calm down, assuring them that it wasn't over yet. When she made her loyal fans settle down, her eyes quickly turned to Ash. "What Burgh and Cheren have told me about you is true Ash, I'm so glad we are having this battle. However, I've yet to see you reach the trainer I know you are," Elesa placed her hands on her hips.

"Palpitoad and I still have lots of fight left. Bring it on Elesa," Ash spoke confidently.

While Hilbert and Hilda were content with Ash's win, May couldn't help but feel a sense of disappointment inside her. She hid her eyes in her face as she shook her head sideways. Victini and Pikachu watched quietly, wondering if Ash could really hold his own against Elesa's next Pokémon.

"Very well," Elesa smirked. Without wasting another moment she threw another Pokéball, "Show time Emolga!" Elesa screamed as the Electric-type emerged from its Pokéball.

Emolga huh, no problem, Ash crossed his arms.

"Emol!" Emolga flew around happily, despite seeing that there was a battling going on.

"Don't let Emolga fool you. Behind its fun nature is a feisty fighter," Elesa winked.

"Let's see then. Palpitoad, use Sludge Wave!" Ash commanded. Palpitoad moved fast as it built up sludge then launched it at Emolga.

"Acting quick won't be enough. Dual Electro Ball!" Elesa crossed her arms.

"Eeeemo!" Emolga stopped playing as soon as it saw Sludge Wave. With a devious smile on its face, Emolga charged up two Electro Balls from its hands.

"Two?" Ash raised an eyebrow, uncertain of how Elesa will react using those two attacks.

Emolga quickly threw one Electro Ball to destroy the Sludge Wave, successfully stopping the attack. As the impact between the two attacks was made, Emolga attacked Palpitoad with the other Electro Ball.

"Handle it Palpitoad," Ash raised an eyebrow, still questioning Elesa's odd methods.

Palpitoad stuck its chest out proudly, knowing that there is no harm from Electro Ball. "Now!" Elesa ordered.

Abruptly, Emolga spun around and winked at Palpitoad. Sparkles of pink energy emerged that took the shape of a heart. What astonished Ash and Palpitoad, however, was the speed of the Attract. It shot faster than Electro Ball and Ash quickly felt himself get pushed into a corner.

"Palpitoad dodge!" Ash instructed, but it was too late. As soon as Electro Ball hit Palpitoad and left no effect, Attract hit in a second. The heart multiplied into many that danced around Palpitoad.

The Water-type began to panic, knowing that there was nothing it could do. The hearts all came together then pressed against the Water-type, leaving the Water-type infatuated.

"Palpitoad!" Ash's eyes widened.

"Now it's my turn Ash. Emolga, Aerial Ace!" Elesa stretched her arm forward.

Emolga nodded as it charged at Palpitoad with full speed, preparing to the final blow. Sadly, all Palpitoad could do was stare romantically at his opponent. The Water-type's heart eyes were set on Emolga as the Electric-type delivered the hit right in the gut, sending Palpitoad flying near Ash's feet. Palpitoad's swirl eyes clearly showed that it could no longer keep going.

"Palpitoad is unable to battle!" the referee announced, provoking loud roars in the audience.

Ash sighed with disappointment as he returned Palpitoad to its ball, thanking it for all its efforts. "Palpitoad, you were awesome. Thank you," the raven-haired boy grinned.

"Do you see what I mean Ash, there is still more to this battle than you thought," Elesa chuckled.

"We're still not giving up," Ash grinded his teeth as he got out another Pokéball. "Go Snivy!" the auburn-eyed teen threw the Pokéball, with the Grass-type instantly appearing.

"Sni," Snivy looked sternly at Emolga.

"This will be interesting," Elesa smirked.

"Why did Ash pick Snivy?" Hilda looked confused.

"May be because Grass-types are barely affected by Electric-types, but Emolga is a Flying-type. Ash needs to have a good plan for this one, especially since this Emolga looks stronger than Zebstrika," Hilbert gulped.

Attract is useless here, but we can still win, Ash thought in his mind. "Snivy, use Leaf Storm!" the raven-haired boy ordered.

"Sniiiiiivy!" Snivy jumped in the air then spun around rapidly as razor-sharp energy leaves flew towards Emolga.

"You can try to win," Elesa closed her eyes with her cocky grin across her face. "Acrobatics," the woman commanded.

Emolga chuckled as it flew straight into the Leaf Storm; however, it developed a formidable speed that left afterimages as Emolga nimbly dodged every leaf that tried to cut through it.

"Now Snivy!" Ash exclaimed.

Suddenly, Snivy pounced out of the storm of leaves with Leaf Blade, preparing to strike down Emolga.

"Grab it," Elesa made a confident fist.

Ash gasped when he saw Emolga do so. With its quick reflexes, Emolga easily grabbed Snivy's tail, making the Grass-type's eyes widen. "Emol," Emolga chuckled as it then spun around multiple times while holding onto Snivy.

"Snivy hold on!" Ash began to sweat from desperation.

"Sniiiiiiivvvvyyyy!" Snivy cried in pain as it also started to sweat from fear.

"Throw it and finish this," Elesa placed her hand on her hip.

"Emolga!" Emolga shouted as it released Snivy, sending the Electric-type flying.

With all the power it could muster, the Electric-type unleashed its most formidable attack. The Flying-type blasted a volley of Electro Balls that shocked Snivy while in midair, each one painfully shocking the helpless Grass-type.

Emolga and Elesa showed no mercy as the Electro Ball volley continued, making Snivy squeal in pain as a cloud of smoke grew around it. The event left audiences cheering, but the sight left Ash, Hilbert, Hilda, Pikachu, Victini, and May paralyzed.

Sorry to keep you waiting. I hope you enjoyed this chapter guys, I certainly liked writing it because this is the first time that deals with the flaws in Ash and May's relationship that ultimately leads to their first major argument. On top of that, I felt like the gym battle came out pretty well. Once again, traveling and work have made my summer pretty busy, but I promise I'll update as often as I can. I hope you're having a wonderful summer and happy Fourth of July, god bless America (Murica)! lol. REMEMBER TO REVIEW, PM, ETC, FEEDBACK IS ALWAYS WELCOMED GUYS AND IT IS ALWAYS APPRECIATED! Thank you so much, I love you guys and have a nice Independence Day! Oh, btw just out of curiosity, who's been watching the World Cup? I know most of the teams are already gone, but this is where it gets serious, so if you want just include the country you want as the winner in your REVIEW OR PM. I'm rooting for Brazil! Alrighty, enough of me, take care guys and I'll catch you in the next chapter!