“So my son’s a Psychic now?!” Delia asked in curious excitement.
“No, no, no. Psychic’s read thoughts. Ash can’t really read exact thoughts.” Anabel informed happily. “It’s Empathy. It allows him to read emotions.”
“Oh, so now he’s more sensitive!” Ash’s mother chuckled at the adorable idea.
“You know…” Ash interrupted. His head buried against the couch cushions, trying to block out feelings as if they were sound. “You’d think this would be really cool and all… but all I can ever get from it is Pikachu whining about wanting ketchup.”
Laughter filled the room.
“Sooooo…” His mother was uncomfortably close to him. “What am I thinking?”
“You want me to find out what you’re thinking.” he groaned.
Delia held her son and sobbed onto his shoulder. “Now my son finally knows how his mother feels!!”
Ash sighed and patted his mother’s back with an emotion of despair. He didn’t know if he liked this Empathy business at all. “Does this thing ever turn off?” he faced in Anabel’s direction.
Why would you want it to, my love?
Ash shivered. “W-Why do you keep calling me that?”
He felt a wink hit his heart, blushing immediately.
The Empathy trainer giggled. “No, it doesn’t turn off. But you get used to it. Emotions eventually become quieter and you can even learn how to tune it out.”
“You gotta’ teach me how to do that.”
“Why.” stated, rather than questioned, Angie. “You already got taught something you didn’t want to learn from her.” She took another bite of her sandwich angrily before she continued, “Why would you want to learn anything else from her.”
“Er… It’s not like I wanted to learn all this!” Ash felt the need to intervene with the tomboy’s boiling emotions before she erupted. “I just… Well… Some more control would be nice.”
“Exactly, Angie, no need to be so –” jealous.
Anabel had been silenced by Ash’s begging emotions.
“No need to be so WHAT exactly?” Angie fumed.
“Now now.” Delia had finally let go of her son and wiped her tears. “No fighting, you two. You have to date with my son first before you start fighting over him as a boyfriend.”
Both Angie and Anabel blushed.
Angie turned away with in irritation. Denying emotions filling her.
Anabel sighed as her thoughts moved elsewhere. Dreamy emotions filling her.
Ash sat blank-faced, extremely uncomfortable. He has no idea how he got here. One minute he was battling with Pikachu, now he had this… power… or whatever you’d call this. Curse, maybe. Whatever it was, it helped him as much as it hindered him. The idea of hearing people’s emotions seemed useful enough… but the repercussions were problematic.
Like right now. He sighed.
“So Ash…” Anabel fiddled with her fingers, blushing harder than she ever had.
Her emotions suddenly changed. Before this, the Frontier Brain had been very direct about her feelings towards him. Yet now she shied away from him. Ash wondered if she was just being playful before… or if she was somehow being playful now.
Now he was worried that this was actually becoming serious. Too fast. he felt. Too sudden.
He never had to deal with these emotions and ideas before. Sure, the odd thought would pop every now and again, but he’d simply stomp it out before it led anywhere. Where would the ideas lead to? Stomp Stomp Stomp. Ash had repeated his ritual before that particular thought could even breathe.
This was uncomfortable, this was strange. He’s a pokémon trainer, a challenger, a future champion! Not… this. Whatever this was. This was too complicated. Too distracting. It was never about this stuff, it shouldn’t ever be about this stuff. …should it…?
STOMP STOMP STOMP
Before Anabel could complete her request for Ash –
Before Angie could jump over the table and pop Anabel’s lip to shut her up –
The phone rang.
“I-I’ll get it!” Ash stumbled off the couch and walked towards the vid-phone.
The two young females glared at each other… raging fire burning in one’s eyes, cool lightning sparking the other’s.
“Oh hey May! What’s up?”
Their staring contest broke.
“You’re in town?! Really?!” Ash asked with excitement. “That’s a long trip! Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?!”
Bad news. the two shared the same feeling.
Delia clapped her hands together in delight. Oh my boy is so popular these days!
Ash stumbled. “Mom!! I heard that!”
“It’s the truth, dear.” She giggled, taking a sip of her tea.
“You know… you don’t have to keep holding onto me like that.” Ash tried to pull away. “As long as we’re following the roads I know where I am around here.”
“I kn-know! I mean…well, I guess I didn’t know.” Pulling away, the girl adjusted her bandana to look busy. “S-Sorry.”
Of course, looking busy didn’t mean much to Ash… considering his present condition.
May coughed awkwardly at the silence.
The Coordinator May had arrived at the Ketchum residence exhausted and sweating profusely. Wherever she had come from, however she got there, she had gotten there quickly – and paid for it with heavy fatigue.
Sadly, as if it were some kind of harsh joke, Ash wasn’t home, but was already out on the road. For whatever reason it may have been, Ash had wanted to leave early. A good decision on his part, as his presence tended to put the two bickering young women at odds with one another.
Though to May, not knowing of any internal politics within the home, she had just found the entire situation inconvenient, and had returned into a jogging pace to find the missing Ash.
It wasn’t long before she found him walking quite some distance down the road from his residence. To her surprise, her sudden shout-out of his name hadn’t shocked or scared him like she thought it would. He even knew which way to face, almost seeming as if he knew she was coming. An odd perspective of the usually unprepared Ash she was familiar with, she considered.
“So uhm… how’s your mom doing?” she asked, trying to smooth things into a better conversation.
“She’s okay.” He paused, feeling out what she was trying to say. “Oh, and why did you come to visit?”
May flinched, slightly surprised.
Well that was sudden. she thought to herself. I guess I don’t have to hint at it anymore…
“Uhm… well, I felt a little guilty.”
“Thing is… the rest of the gang had been visiting you, and I was just… I dunno. Far away, you know?” she fumbled with her words.
“I know you cared.” He had read the rest of her thought. “You really didn’t have to come. The phone call was nice enough.”
She smiled in relief. Ash feels… easier to talk to… I mean, he’s always been easy! But this is just going smoother than I thought it would be.
“Oh right, about that…”
“About what?” she looked at him curiously, unsure what he was referring to.
“The smoother-talking thing.”
May stiffened. “Wh-What?! H-how d-did –”
“Hasn’t Ash told you yet?” A well-dressed girl appeared by Ash’s side, clinging onto his arm.
Ash blushed at the sudden intrusion. How did she sneak up on us?
I know how to hide myself rather well, Ash.
Wh-why are you here?
Just watching out for y–
Anabel was suddenly shoved aside by a casually-dressed tomboy. “Hey May.”
How did she sneak up here too?
That little tomboy’s getting on my nerves.
But… Anabel… You snuck up here too.
The bandana-wearing girl stared blankly as the two girls fought over their place by Ash’s side. “Uhm… told me what?”
“Y-yeah, about that.” Ash inched away from the fighting girls. “I… uh… sorta’ learned Empathy while I was recovering…” He scratched his head in embarrassment, realizing how ridiculous the statement sounded when said casually.
To say he ‘learned’ would have given Ash too much of a compliment. I stumbled on it, really. he admitted to himself. It’s not like I would’ve learned on it my own, anyways.
“Empathy?” The girl thought for a minute, her head tilting to the side.
Her jaw dropped immediately. An old memory was recalled. “Empathy?! Ash learned Empathy?!” her face showing more than just disbelief.
“Y-Yeah… Remember when Anabel tried to teach us that?” Ash nervously voiced her memory, “I kind of accidentally learned it while I was training.”
“Accidentally?” The green-haired girl interrupted. “Anabel has been trying to teach him that since she got here!” she growled in annoyance.
An attack meant to reveal dishonest intentions of Anabel’s stay, only offered the Empathic bragging rights at this point, as she had been successful in her intentions.
“And I have you to thank, Angie.” Anabel hummed proudly. “Without the crazy ideas you put into Ash’s head, he probably would have never reached that point of awareness.”
“Crazy ideas?” May asked quietly to herself, still in shock at the turn of events.
“Y-yeah, I guess it was pretty crazy if actually think about it…” Ash laughed nervously. “Thing is, Angie got me to train without pokémon.”
“Training without pokémon is normal. Fighting AGAINST pokémon without pokémon wasn’t my idea.” Angie spit out a toothpick she had been chewing on.
“I know, I know, I just wanted to try it out.”
“W-Wait a minute!” May’s jaw locked in place from the completely unbelievable turn of stories. “You fought AGAINST a pokémon?! Blind?!!”
“WHAT?! I mean - WHAT?!”
“…A two-on-two battle, to be exact. Him and Pikachu against Espeon and Metagross.” Anabel informed.
“Wh-Wh-Wh–” her face obscured by her hair as she stared at the ground, May’s shoulders began to shake.
“May?” Ash poked.
She swung her hair up as she laughed uncontrollably. Angie took several steps back, frightened by the young woman’s reaction.
“M-May are you okay??” Ash felt May’s emotions bursting into several colors and notes. In almost every way, he knew she was okay – as her emotions were nothing but positive… though what kind of ‘okay’, is what Ash worried about.
With a cover of the mouth, May struggled to calm herself down.
She wiped a few laughed tears away before responding, “It’s just… wow, Ash. I thought you’d be in your room all day, depressed. I guess I just figured you’d be helpless and really needed support.”
“Well, he kind of was in the beginning.” Angie pointed out.
“Hey! I wasn’t helpless!”
“But wow. You’re still Ash. Not only did you continue trying to train with pokémon, but you fought one! And you’re blind! BLIND, ASH! I mean, WHAT?!” May jumped and wrapped her arms around Ash, much to everyone’s alarm. “And not only that, but you even – whoah!”
The excited girl was roughly pulled off Ash, by a rather annoyed Angie.
“Sorry, I just got really happy.” She tried to hide her blush as if Ash could see it. “But anyways! You even learned Empathy. Empathy! Wow Ash, you’re like a Psychic now!”
“It’s not psychic! It’s Empathy!” Anabel shouted, getting quite annoyed of that comparison.
“It’s close enough.” grumbled Angie.
“Oh! Oh! Try it on me! What am I feeling right now?” May shook excitedly.
“Um… happy.” Ash could barely tell anything beyond that with how erratic her emotions had gotten.
“I guess that was pretty obvious, huh?” She scratched the back of her head, a nervous behavior she learned from Ash. “Well… how abooout… now?”
“You’re on!!” Ash shouted excitedly, getting into a stance.
“Are you serious? Another battle?” Angie groaned. “How many battles are we going to have today???”
“Ash, be careful, you’re still strained from the last fight…” Anabel placed her hand gently on Ash’s shoulder.
“Quit flirting with your girlfriends and show me what you’ve got, Ash!” May pulled out a poké ball and tossed it into the air. “GO VENUSAUR!!!”
CRASH. CRASH. Venusaur’s great size pressed its feet deep into the ground.
“VEENUSS!!!!” it roared.
Ash took a step back. “Uh… oh… this is definitely going to be rough… but let’s do it!!”
“Ash…?” Anabel had sensed something…
“ASH!” Anabel figured it out…
Ash finished checking his laces and removed his vest.
“ASH WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU THINKING?! PULL OUT A POKÉ BALL!” Anabel had shouted loudly.
“Here I go!!!!” Ash leapt towards the Venusaur.
“This is all so stupid.” Angie slapped her palm onto her face.
“Haha, YEAH! I can’t believe that worked!” Ash cheered into the air.
“Well took you long enough! It’s almost dinnertime!” Angie threw a towel in his direction. “Now clean yourself off, showoff.”
“What in the world is your problem?! Are you crazy?! Could you imagine what would have happened if that Solar Beam actually hit him?!” Anabel was furious, yelling her lungs out into May’s ear.
May wasn’t paying attention. Her face was still in shock. No emotion other than disbelief running through her heart and mind.
“Awesome, I’m starving!” Ash patted his stomach and ran off. “Race ya’ there!”
Angie started running. “You’re on, blindy!”
“Just a second! I’ll be right there!!” Anabel called out as she frantically tried to pick up all the items they had left behind.
May still stood there in shock.
“Do you like May, Ash?”
“Wh-Why do you keep asking that?? Can’t we talk about something else??”
Do you like May, Ash?
“That’s the same as asking!”
“Well, why don’t you ever answer?”
“She’s just a friend.”
Am I just a friend?
“That’s a trap question. You know it.”
“Why don’t you want to answer?”
“Anabel, that’s not fair.” Ash adjusted in his seat uncomfortably as he flipped through the television channels, trying to find a channel that was interesting to listen to. Anything to get him away from this topic. “I mean… we haven’t even gone on a date.” He added respectfully, showing he wouldn’t lock her out completely.
Well… why… don’t we?
When can we try?
I, I don’t know! I mean, we haven’t even gotten to travel together. I mean, I know you’re always here, but…
Anabel giggled. “It’s okay if you’re not used to this. I haven’t been on a date yet either. It’ll be new to the both of us.”
Her voice was lighter, her expression gave out a soft touch, and her feelings wandered to curious ideas.
“H-hey now, don’t get started! We haven’t been on a date yet!”
“It’s healthy to be a bit curious. I should be scolding you on prying on my feelings.”
“Hey, I can’t help it yet, remember?”
The shy and smooth air that surrounded them was abruptly split in half by a strong and friendly energy.
Ash sighed in relief, he was never comfortable being in that previous atmosphere. “Hey Angie! What’s up?”
“Why are you watching TV, blindy?”
“I’m listening to the TV, tomboy.”
“Got a problem with me being a tomboy?” her voice suddenly turned aggressive.
“N-No, it’s not that.” Ash defended himself, “It just rubbed off on me. Anabel always calls you that.”
“She never says it to my face, apparently.”
“Don’t need to state the obvious.” Anabel remarked with little interest.
“Got a problem with dependable girls, princess?” Angie growled.
“Dependable girls? Not at all…” She smirked. “Just have a problem with gorillas.”
Uh oh. Ash thought. He scanned his surroundings with his ears, trying to see if he could find any distraction at all. No mother, no Mr. Mime, no Pikachu, no one to stop the two from finally getting to each other’s throats.
How did I get into this situation? He thought to himself in despair. I remember when all I had to worry about was earning badges and having food the next day… I think I’d definitely rather be starving than this. Ash desperately yearned to leave. He knew it was only a matter of time befor–
“THAT’S IT! Alright cross-dresser, let’s take it outside!” Angie was fuming.
“C-Cross-dresser?!” Anabel stood, “This outfit is far more tasteful than anything you’ve got in that shoddy clothes basket!” Anabel’s attitude changed completely, a side Ash had never seen before. Menacing, towering, venomous, and utterly frightening.
“I said let’s take it outside! Unless you’re scared!”
“Scared? Your pokémon would hardly cause any problems for me.” Anabel’s previous emotions formed into something more controlled – arrogance.
“No! No pokémon! Just you and me, let’s go!”
“A barbarian to the end.” She waved her off. “I’m not going to waste my time fighting in such an uncivilized manner with you.”
“You hear that, Ash? She thinks you’re uncivilized.”
“What?! I never said that!”
“Oh, but Ash here can enjoy a good fight. No pokémon necessary. He even fought your pokémon that way if you don’t remember.”
“Yes, but Ash –”
“Come on Ash, let’s leave the princess with her tea. Us peasants must be ruining her high society atmosphere.”
Ash felt Anabel’s emotions ready to explode. He wanted to calm her down, but suddenly felt Angie’s emotions watching him like a hawk – ready to strike if he tried to choose Anabel’s side. He wasn’t sure what to do.
Too late anyways. He sighed.
“FINE! FINE! You want to fight?! We’ll fight!!”
“Just what I wanted to hear! Outside! Let’s go!”
“Um…” Ash stuttered.
“STAY OUT OF THIS!” the two girls shouted in unison.
What should have been a simple catfight, exploded into a full-blown street fight, which turned into a pokémon battle, which eventually led into a massive war throughout the entire town.
The small town of Pallet was now a broken mess. Holes in walls, smoke and steam coming from unknown areas, and a wounded Trainer was crawling pathetically back into their house.
Ch-chnk. The handcuffs wrapped uncomfortably against Angie’s struggling wrists.
“You have a right to remain silent, anything you sa-” the Officer Jenny was reciting with an exhausted breath. Her hair was in a mess, her makeup ruined, and one of her high heels had broken, all because of the ordeal. Needless to say, she was quite tired of all the trouble these two girls had given her.
“I didn’t do nothing! She started it!” Angie was growling as her head was pressed against the car.
Off to the side, Anabel was still laughing hysterically, the insane collection of events finally dropping from its peak and making her realize the position she was finally in.
“Oh shut up, princess!”
Anabel’s laugh stopped quickly, her eyes darted towards Angie. “You shut it! I would’ve won if you didn’t get the cops involved!”
“Would’ve wo- WOULD’VE WON?! YOU CHEATED! YOU CHEATED YOU CHEATED YOU CHEATED!!!”
“YOU’RE THE ONE THAT THREW A BRICK AT MY ESPEON DURING THE POKÉMON BATTLE!!!”
“WE WEREN’T EVEN SUPPOSED TO HAVE A POKÉMON BATTLE!!! YOU WERE BEING A SORE LOSER!!!”
“I SWEAR I’LL – Ow!” Anabel was picked up by the hair and led to the backseat.
“That’s enough you two. You’re going to be spending the night in the prison. Separate cells, of course.” Officer Jenny growled.
Before the door shut on her, Anabel stuck her head out and shouted to the boy across the street, “Wait for me, Ash! I’ll be out soon!”
Angie kicked the door out of anger. “He ain’t yours, princess!”
Anabel stuck her tongue out in response.
“That’s it! I’ll kill y– ow!” It was Angie’s turn to be pulled by the hair, being led to a different car.
“Get in there, hothead.” The female officer tossed the young tomboy into the car and slammed the door before she could say anything.
Angie pressed her head against the window, making puppy eyes at Ash… though he wouldn’t be able to tell.
Ash listened to the police cars drive off.
He let out an exhausted sigh.
Finally… a break.
“Another week?! What did the two of you do??”
“Well, mostly it has to do with all the incoming complaints from businesses.” Anabel’s voice came through the phone in an odd fuzz, making it hard for Ash to catch any emotional tones in her voice. “The bail would have let us out for good until the trial, but I guess they’re keeping us in here until they’ve gotten everything settled. Could be worse though, we’re still expected to only to be let off with community service after the trial. No major damage to any of the properties… well, seriously damaged… no one really got hurt… er… except for that one guy, but I don’t think he’s pressing charges… and really nothing serious to keep us in here for. …I hope.”
“Really sorry about all this... We did get a bit carried away. And…” she took a deep breath, “…if you don’t want to date me, that’s completely understandable.”
Anabel’s heart skipped a beat. Did he just give me a pet name? Oh Ash…
Though for Ash, he didn’t realize he called her by that name – even if it did work well in keeping her from becoming depressed, which was his intention for what he had to say next.
“–it’s… it’s not that I don’t want to d-date you… It’s just all too fast for me. I mean, we barely had enough time to get to know each other before all this crazy stuff started happening.”
“So… do I still have a chance?”
“For a date? I- I guess maybe later. But not right now.”
“Not anytime soon either.” An unexpected voice chimed out of the phone.
“A-Angie???” Ash almost dropped his phone in response.
“What in the world?! Angie how are you on this line?” Anabel’s voice panicked.
“I had an uncle that taught me a thing or two about phone lines.”
“Angie! Get off the line! We’re both going to get into deep trouble if they find out!”
“Whatever. Just stop forcing yourself on Ash. If he wants to date you, he’ll ask you.” Angie’s voice was monotone, uncaring, giving no hints as to what she was implying. “Seriously, give the guy a break. He just got over being a blindy.”
Click. Angie was off the line.
“Angie’s right.” Anabel sighed. “Really sorry I’ve been so forceful.”
“I’ll… earn you myself in my own time, Ash. I won’t have to force you or beg you. For now, let’s just go back to being good friends, okay?”
“Nothing wrong with being friends, is there?”
“Not at all!”
“Then we’re friends then.” A sigh. “I’ll be looking forward to hang out with you after all this, Ash.”
“Alright, that actually sounds pretty fun.” Ash said quietly. Slightly relieved. Slightly disappointed. About what, he wasn’t sure himself. Though he’d admit, this was a nice change… “I’m looking forward to it too.”
“I’ll see you around, Ash. Bring me a book sometime. There isn’t much to do here.”
The request somewhat caught Ash off-guard. He honestly wasn’t sure what to offer, considering his current condition. “W-What kind of book?”
“A novel if you’ve got any.”
His mental search for a suggestion was answered. “OH! I’ve got a good one. It’s called Commander of Wartortles.”
Anabel had heard of that series. Sadly, she had heard it was a boy’s book. Mostly bravado, guts, and glory. She sighed from disappointment and amusement.
“Er… really? Is that the only book you have?”
“Well, I don’t really read much books. And besides, it’s a really good book.”
“Yeah, Anny. It really is a good book.” A familiar voice returned.
“Angie! I thought you got off the line!” Anabel growled.
“Shush now. Hey Ash, send me Blastoid Radius. I haven’t read that one yet.”
“Uh, sure thing.”
“Get off the phone, Angie!”
“Fine fine. Just seriously, send the book, Ash. And really consider reading Commander of Wartortles, Anabel. It’s a lot better than you think.”
Click. Supposedly Angie was off the line now.
“Well, I guess I’ll be taking that book then.”
“Great. I’ll send you my hardcover copy then.”
“Alright then. I’m looking forward to your visit. See you, Ash.”
“See you, Anabel.”
“Oh, and Ash?”
“It was nice talking to you like this… as a friend, that is.”
“Yeah… it was nice.”
Click. “Same here.”
“Angie! Get off the phone!”
“We’ll see you around, Ash! Bring me a snack!”
“See you two later then? Bye.”
“…and these are for a girl named Angie.” Ash handed the other bag over.
“Arcanine, check the snack.” Officer Jenny tossed the bag towards her large pokémon as she opened, flipped through, squeezed the corners of, and weighed the book in her hands.
“You really think they’ll enjoy these books?” she asked without lifting her eyes towards the blind boy.
“Well, I enjoyed them.”
She eyed him suspiciously.
“When I wasn’t blind, that is.” he finished his remark.
She grunted in acknowledgment. Grabbing the bag from her Arcanine, the officer went through the cage to hand over the items.
Angie waved her hands wildly in Ash’s direction.
He couldn’t see it, but he could definitely feel her excited greeting. He waved back happily.
Angie quickly devoured her snack and ran back to her cell with the book.
Anabel stared at Ash for a few more moments before nodding and heading back to her cell with her new book.
Ash turned and headed out the door. His hand brushing against the Arcanine’s head, feeling the pokémon’s yearning for attention.
“Bow!” its bark much louder than Ash had expected.
“Please don’t touch the Arcanine. He’s on duty.” Officer Jenny’s voice echoed against the thick walls.
Outside the station, Ash released a heavy sigh, glad that his morning’s only responsibility was finished. Now he had a free day for himself.
He smiled at the idea. An entire day. Maybe even a week if mom doesn’t ask anything from me. An entire week to do what, he wasn’t sure. He didn’t think he’d be so relieved to get away from friends. He didn’t think he’d even be running from women. He didn’t even think any girl could be attracted to him. Well, except for maybe… Ash shook his head. stomp stomp stomp… No reason to continue that thought, he blocked it out. That’s more of Gary’s area of ‘expertise’…
No need to worry, just… enjoy the day… He stretched with a loud yawn, grinning widely after.
“What are you so happy about?” came a voice to his left.
“May??” Ash’s mind snapped back to reality, “I thought you went back to Hoenn.”
“What gave you that idea?”
“Well… we didn’t see you after that battle for a few days. And you were competing as a Coordinator in that region this season, weren’t you?”
“One, yes I am still competing there, but it’s not like I can’t take a vacation. Two, I just went out shopping in the nearby cities.”
“Oh, well, it was nice seeing you again!”
“…yes?” Ash had a bad feeling about this.
“Can we hang out? Like old times? No Anabels or Angies, if that’s okay with you.”
“They’re in prison right now…” Ash gestured towards the door behind him. “So…”
“Wh-What?!” May’s jaw dropped. She shook her head, laughing quietly to herself. “No no, you don’t have to tell me now. Knowing you, it’s a long and ridiculous story. You can tell me along the way.”
Along the way? I never said ‘yes’ to her offer. Ash sighed. Oh well, there goes my free day.
As they walked down the dirt path, Ash could feel May inching closer towards him.
A strange feeling crawled around his chest area. Stomp. This was strange… Normally, he never really felt this way around May… Stomp. They weren’t normally alone like this. And when they were, it was always about the goal in front of them, not just… ‘hanging out’… Stomp. Or maybe, he considered, they have hung out like this before. That perhaps all the talks about dating were just making him think these things… He wondered if he had ever thought of May in that way. Stomp stomp stomp!!!
Her hands slightly wrapped around his elbow, attempting to help guide him.
“Really, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“I know these roads like the back of my hand. I could walk them blindfolded when I was a kid. Which… I did do that as a dare. And it really helped… now that I think about it. Wasn’t that fun then, though.”
May giggled in response as she moved a small step away.
“I mean… I don’t think I would be okay if I hadn’t done that. …that dare… Then maybe I would’ve needed your help…”
May responded with a smaller giggle. She stared off into a different direction. Avoiding.
Ash cleared his throat. Hoping to rid of the tension.
“So what’s it like?”
“What’s what like?” Ash asked in relief, glad a new subject came up.
“The Empathy ability?”
Her question and feelings towards it were vague to say the least. Ash would have no idea where to start. Afterall, did he even really understand Empathy? Did he even know what it meant? In almost every subject of the matter, Ash had no idea how to respond.
…maybe if she asks an easier question I can make something up…
“An easier question?”
“Like… do you feel how others feel? Or do you see it as a thought?”
“It’s…” Ash found it surprising that he could describe this… somewhat… Somewhat is better than nothing. “…like a little bit of both. As if the feelings are as clear as thoughts. Or… er… like you can see the feelings as obvious as a fact. As if you always could. Naturally. Nothing blocking between you and the other person’s heart… er… I guess.”
“That sounds…” May’s voice softened to an unfamiliar level. “…very beautiful.”
She cleared her throat, suddenly uncomfortable with herself.
Ash laughed nervously. “Er… Hearing a pokémon constantly beg for a treat at all hours of a day is beautiful?”
May laughed awkwardly with him. “Yeah… I guess not.”
Ash could hear May run ahead of him, understanding the strange sounds as herwalking backwards in front of him.
“What am I feeling now?” the Coordinator asked playfully.
“Excited. Curious. Nostalgic.” He responded surprisingly fast, surprising even himself. Something about the uncomfortable moment had made it easier for him to read her emotions.
“Wow! Even I didn’t know I was getting nostalgic until you mentioned it.”
“So how’s Drew?”
May slowed down a bit.
“…you dated him, right?”
“H-how did you know that?!”
“Your memories got a little too loud to ignore, you know.” Ash scratched the back of his head. He wasn’t sure if he was heading into dangerous waters with the topic. Then again, he was never really sure what was dangerous in these subjects until it was too late.
May blushed, facing away.
“Yeah… I dated him. I thought it would lead somewhere. But…”
May’s emotions suddenly blocked out Ash’s curious ability.
As much as it was shocking, it was relieving. Ash hadn’t ever figured out how to block out listening to loud emotions, it was nice that she knew how to block him out instead.
“So why are Angie and Anabel in prison?”
“Oh that. Long story.”
“We’ve got time.”
“Er… well…” He shrugged, seeing no real harm in telling her. “It started when…”
“And at that point, Alakazam started panicking!” Ash breathed out, having a hard time talking between laughs. “He couldn’t find his spoons anywhere! And- and- and the owner of the restaurant kept trying to chase him out, but he just wouldn’t leave! Every time he got pushed out, he just teleported back in!”
May could barely keep herself together. She’d admit that this specific story was hardly as funny as the previous ones told about that day, but at this point: everything was funny.
“Oh, Ash! Is Angie and Anabel out of prison already?” Delia called out curiously as she heard the laughter of a young girl coming from the entrance of the house.
May laughed even harder, slamming her fist against the wall several times as she fell to the ground.
Ash followed her soon after, finding her laughter irresistibly contagious.
“Well, you two girls behave. Nurse Joy came here complaining about how you were throwing injured pokémon at each other.” Ms. Ketchum warned.
May dragged herself desperately towards the restroom, laughing hysterically. “I’m gonna’ pee myself if I don’t –” her laughter broke her words as she luckily managed to get herself into the restroom, slamming the door shut.
Ash crawled onto the couch, laughing harder than he’s laughed in a long time.
Calming his laughs, he exhaled loudly… resting his body and snickers.
He felt good.
He felt right.
No more worrying about girls tearing at each other’s throats. No more worrying about trying something new for the day. No more trying to please two very different kinds of women. And no more worrying about the consequences for not paying enough attention to just one of them. Thankfully.
With May, he could just be… just Ash. The Ash everyone knew. And not the Ash others wanted him to be. Not the Ash that had to keep changing opinions just to keep things normal around the house…
He already knew how to talk to and act around May. She was his friend, a very close friend. They’ve been together through thick and thin. And even if they didn’t agree on everything, they had an understanding that had grown from time and experience with one another. He could count on her as a friend, and for her to be her.
That’s all Ash wanted from Anabel and Angie, he considered. He just wanted to get to know them first. He just wanted to be friends first before all these confusing emotions started getting in the way. This was easier. He could… see himself with May? Stomp. No reason to ruin that relationship. No reason to run into that. This was fine. This was perfect. Everything else above this was just too complicated… It would make me think too much, wonder too much. This… isn’t hard at all.
He sighed in complete relief. A few small chuckles still escaping his lips every time a memory from that day popped up… this was fine. Anabel and Angie may not have been easy to handle or put up with when they got into a fight, but they certainly were entertaining to watch.
The restroom door closed. And May’s bright and sunny personality flowed back into the room.
She was still holding back laughter, trying to calm down as she wiped tears from her eyes.
Ash felt the couch shift as she sat next to him.
He felt her head press against his shoulder as she nuzzled up against him. It was a gesture that would have made him extremely uncomfortable… if it weren’t for the fact that her emotions were showing that this was a completely just-friendly action.
I like you Ash…
“I like you, too.”
She sighed and relaxed her shoulders.
You really can feel what I feel, can’t you?
Her emotions started to sink, as her entire being felt like it was shutting off. Within just a few seconds, May had fallen completely asleep.
A smile left on her face and on her heart.