25th October 2009, 04:53 PM #1
Religion is a club
May's Birthday (PG, AdvanceShipping)
It occurred to me a few days ago that, despite my being an AdvanceShipper, I've barely written anything remotely AdvanceShippy. The closest you could come to that is probably the opening few chapters of Final Challenge, well over two years ago; I've written more for Pearl- and PikaShipping than I have my favourite! So I figured I'd try and give it a whirl again.
It's been quite a while since I wrote a story like this, so I hope that you don't mind it being different than my usual style. I tried working a few comedic elements in as well, which is also a bit unusual for me; hopefully they aren't too dry! Many thanks to the discussion in BMGf's very own AdvanceShipping thread for the original inspiration.
But that's enough of an introduction from me. Enjoy!
May’s birthday was coming up. In just one week, she would be another year older. Ash didn’t quite know what to get her, though a vague idea had been slowly forming in his mind over the last few days. He wanted to get her something really good; something she would remember and enjoy for a very long time. So he did what he always did when having a girl-related issue.
He went to Brock.
“A birthday present, huh?” Brock said, frowning slightly. “So, why do you need my help for something like that?”
“Because I’ve thought and I’ve thought, and I just can’t think of what to get her,” Ash explained. “Everything I come up with is something that I’d like but I don’t think she would. So I figured I’d come to you, since if there’s anybody who knows exactly what to buy a girl, it’s you, Brock.” Brock descended into a furious coughing fit at that.
“Well you see, Ash,” he began, “it’s not so much what you buy, but what the intent is behind it that matters.”
Brock sighed. “Let me put it to you this way,” he said. “May is your friend. I’m not the right person to come to for gift suggestions for that. My girl-advice focuses squarely on the romantic side of things. So unless you want to become more than just friends with May – if you get my drift – I can’t help you.” Ash blinked in confusion.
“I’m not quite sure what you mean, Brock,” he said slowly, “but all I’m looking for is an idea. Just a general thing she’d like so I can narrow down my options from there. Y’know?” Brock looked at his friend, registering Ash’s piteous expression and the pleading tone in his voice.
“Tell you what,” he said. “Why don’t you list me some of your ideas and I’ll tell you whether they’re good or not.”
“Okay... Well, she likes shopping; I could buy her a gift certificate to the Lilycove Mall?” Ash suggested. Brock thought back to May’s birthday last year, and the disappointed expression that had inadvertently crossed her face before she managed to hide it after unwrapping Ash’s present and seeing the $15 discount card he had bought her.
“No, definitely not that,” he said firmly. “Why not just buy her something from there yourself? Something cute.”
“Hey, I know!” Ash said excitedly. “She loves ramen; how about-”
“No, Ash,” Brock said firmly.
Ash strolled despondently along the side of a river, Pikachu on his shoulder as usual. He had only six days left now, and Brock had shot down all of his ideas. Now he didn’t have any idea what to get her. Sighing, he sat down under the shade of a large beech tree, staring out over the expanse of fast-flowing water in front of him.
“Pika pi?” Pikachu asked him.
“Not a clue, Pikachu,” he replied softly. “Not matter how hard I think, my brain just won’t come up with anything she might like.”
A flash of colour at the corner of his eye grabbed his attention, and he turned just in time to see a large splash shoot up from the froth.
“What was that?” he asked, jumping up in excitement, his PokeDex at the ready.
“Pika,” Pikachu said, warming up his cheeks with a few sparks just in case any electricity was needed. A dark shadow appeared under the surface of the water, speeding along with the current. Ash tore off after it, excited at the prospect of seeing a new Pokémon while Pikachu hung onto Ash’s shoulder tightly, trying not to be thrown off by his exuberance. The water began to churn and soon a bow-wave formed as the top two inches or so of the creature rose up into the air. Then, with a massive leap that sent water twisting in all directions, the Pokémon leapt into the air and for a moment hung there, surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colours as the sun shone through the water droplets in the air, before diving back into the water and racing forward once more.
“It’s a Luvdisc!” Ash shouted in amazement, skidding to a halt and accidentally almost throwing Pikachu into the river.
“Chuu...” Pikachu growled in his ear.
“Sorry, Pikachu,” he said sheepishly. “I guess I just got a bit overexcited, thinking it was some rare, powerful Pokémon instead of that little Luvdisc.” He froze then, his thoughts churning into overdrive as he remembered the way the Luvdisc had powered through the waves.”
“Hey! That Luvdisc was gold!” he said excitedly, turning to look at his friend with a huge grin on his face?
“Pika,” Pikachu sighed, privately wondering how much more obvious his trainer could get.
“Don’t you get it?” Ash asked. “Luvdisc are normally pink, aren’t they?”
“Pi...” Pikachu agreed warily.
“Well don’t girls like pink stuff? That Luvdisc would be the perfect present for May because it’s a pink Pokémon that’s even rarer than the pink kind!”
“Pikachu pi... pi, pika?” Pikachu repeated, trying to sort through that confused logic unsuccessfully.
“Alright, it’s settled then,” Ash decided, his eyes back on the river. “We’re gonna catch May that Luvdisc! It’ll be great for her contests too; you saw the way it powered through that current!”
“Pika-pi,” Pikachu pointed out, but Ash only laughed.
“Come on, Pikachu, how many gold Luvdisc do you think are within a hundred miles of here anyways?” he asked. “It’ll be easy to find... I know! Use Thunderbolt on the water to drive it out!”
“Pika... CHU!” Pikachu roared, jumping from Ash’s shoulder into the air and unleashing a considerable amount of voltage onto the surface of the water. It churned more ferociously for a moment, glowing yellow with the power of Pikachu’s electricity, before turning back into the usual frothy white. A few seconds passed and then a horde of red bellies floated to the surface before being carried downstream by the current.
“Oops,” Ash said, watching the school of Magikarp get carried away downstream. “I, uh, I think you may have overdone it a little there.”
“Chu,” Pikachu said, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. His ears twitched at the sound of a disturbance in the water, and he swivelled his head to see the cause. Ash only noticed at the sound of curtains of water pouring back into the stream, and he turned with a yell of delight, already reaching for an empty Pokéball at his waist. The ecstatic expression on his face faded as he found himself nose-to-nose with the angriest Gyarados he had ever seen.
“Oh,” he said paling. That was all the time he had before the Gyarados let out a roar and lashed out with its tail. The breath left Ash’s chest in a whoosh as he and Pikachu were sent sailing over the treetops.
“Now I know how Team Rocket feels!” he managed to yell before they hit the ground and all went dark.
He awoke with a groan, his head throbbing in the darkness. Whether that was from the impact or from the Thunderbolt Pikachu had given him he couldn’t be sure, but it was enough to know that his plan had screwed up royally.
He set off at a run through the forest, letting his ears guide him back to the river, Pikachu in his wake. When they broke through the undergrowth and found themselves back in clear air on the banks, Ash craned his neck skywards. Disappointment coursed through him almost immediately. There was no tinge of orange or yellow in the sky, and the position of the moon told him that several hours had passed since the Gyarados had lobbed them painfully into the forest.
He slumped dejectedly to the ground, gazing out over the water with a lost look in his eyes.
“That’s it then, Pikachu,” he said softly. “I messed up. That Luvdisc must be miles away; I’ll never find it now.”
“Pika, pika-pika,” Pikachu protested, tugging on his sleeve.
“Your right,” he nodded, looking at his friend. “Maybe I won’t find that particular Pokémon, but I’ll get her something even better; the only thing that’s pinker than a golden Luvdisc!”
“Pika-pi?” Pikachu asked wearily.
“No, not a pink Luvdisc,” Ash laughed, getting back to his feet. “I’ll catch her a pink Jigglypuff!” He looked down at his friend and the grin turned into a frown of concern.
“Are you okay, Pikachu?” he asked. “Why’d you fall over?”
If Pikachu could speak English, he would have responded “I can’t believe how dense you are sometimes.” As it was, he merely climbed to his feet and set off along the riverbank, shaking his head slightly in disbelief.
“Hey, Pikachu, wait up!” Ash called, hastening after his friend into the night.
“Five days left,” he murmured softly as the sun began to climb slowly over the horizon. His eyelids drooped with exhaustion; Pikachu had kept him running through the night until they reached a massive waterfall, and even then the electric-type had wanted to keep going. Only Ash nearly falling over the edge had caused him to change his mind, so the two camped out in a small forest clearing a couple of meters away; here the trees muted the noise of the pounding waves somewhat, and it kept them dry from the spray.
Pikachu was already snoring under the sun’s first dewy rays, but Ash was finding it somewhat more difficult to drop off. He had no idea why Pikachu had dragged him on what seemed to be a wild Farfetch’d chase for half the night, and his mind was churning with possible present ideas. But eventually, even these thoughts could not keep him awake, and he fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.
He didn’t sleep for long.
It seemed his eyes had only just closed when Pikachu shocked him into wakefulness with all of his old vindictiveness.
“Yah-ah-ah-ah-ah!” he screamed, leaping to his feet and cracking the top of his head against a low-lying tree branch. “Oh!” he moaned, immediately crumpling into a heap again, holding his skull tenderly. He opened one eye and glared at Pikachu resentfully. “Twice in one day, huh?” he muttered.
“Pika,” Pikachu replied, rolling his eyes before setting back off in the direction of the waterfall.
“He-hey! Pikachu, wait!” Ash called out after him, scrambling to his feet as he hastened after his friend, still pressing a hand to the top of his head gingerly. It took him only seconds to reach Pikachu, for the waterfall’s edge was, after all, not so very far from the clearing. He came to a halt at the electric-type’s side and stared open-mouthed at the landscape before them.
The raging torrent of water did not quite descend vertically, though the angle was steep enough that a fall could prove quite dangerous. It sloped downwards for a hundred feet or so, curving around several rocky outcrops towards the bottom. Once past those the water emptied into a vast and beautiful lake, which seemed to sparkle in the sunlight. Miles of forest ringed the unspoiled shores in all directions in a near perfect circle; there was no place he could see that the lake emptied into, though another, far smaller lagoon was visible in the distance.
Of all the places he had seen in all of the lands he had travelled, this place was quite possibly one of the most pristine; only Purity Canyon in Johto had ever struck him with the same sensation of awe that he now felt. But, as he gazed into the lake, he noticed that something about the water did not seem quite right. He squinted a moment, trying to determine what it was. Then, he gasped.
The lake was as clear and blue as water could be, but every so often a flash of pink would rise to the surface, only to sink down again just as quickly. It took several repetitions of this before he realized what it was.
“It’s a school of Luvdisc,” he gasped, pointing them out to Pikachu. “Look how many of them there are!”
“Pika,” Pikachu responded with a self-satisfied look on his face.
“This must be their breeding area,” Ash realized; “they gather together out in the ocean and then head here in a big group to keep safe from Sharpedo, Gyarados, and Pidgeot. Wow. And I bet that gold Luvdisc is down there with them!”
“Chu-chu, pika,” Pikachu nodded, taking a few steps forward and beginning the precarious descent, Ash close on his tail. It was very slippery going; the spray from the rushing water soon soaked through their clothing and fur, leaving their skin damp and chilled. They had to be extra careful of each foot and hand-hold, testing it thoroughly before inching down slowly to the next one. The noise of the torrential waterfall was incredible; though they tried to stay as far from its speeding depths as possible, there were occasional patches where they had to come within inches of it. At that range the volume was so loud that it blurred their vision, making their progress all the harder.
Ash soon lost track of time; there was no opportunity to check the watch on the PokéGear he had borrowed from Brock lest he lose his grip on the rock face, and so his only real indication of the day’s progress was the occasional glimpse he managed to get of the positioning of the sun. Though it had been early when they started, it was well past noon when they finally reached the bottom.
Panting, their legs buckled when they reached the firm and steady earth, causing them both to stumble backwards into some thick bushes. Ash and Pikachu lay unmoving for several minutes, each trying to recover his nerve after the long and perilous descent. Ash was so tired after his near-sleepless night that he almost fell asleep where he lay, his torso supported uncomfortably by the hardy branches, his legs sticking awkwardly over the side. Only the memory of Pikachu’s shock and the desire to avoid being electrocuted for the third time that day kept him awake. Presently he sat up, his breathing returned to its usual rate and his stomach gurgling ferociously.
“Well, I guess we might as well try and find something to eat, right Pikachu?” he asked aloud. A soft snore was the only response he got, and he turned to see Pikachu curled up quite comfortably in the leafy cool of the bush, fast asleep. “What a hypocrite,” he mumbled, more to himself than to his Pokémon. He would have joined him, but by this point his stomach was rumbling so much that it even managed to wake up a drowsy Noctowl in the next tree over.
Feeling that he’d rather not test the patience of the forest’s nocturnal inhabitants, Ash decided to wander away for a bit and see what he could scrounge up to placate his stomach. It was only a short walk through the forest to reach the lake’s edge, and he knelt for a cool drink. He twirled his finger through the water briefly and marvelled at how clear it was. Then another insistent rumble from his stomach reminded him of why he’d wandered away from Pikachu, and he stood, looking in all directions for some food. A cluster of Pecha berries a few feet away caught his eye, and he plucked several of those away, happily eating the fresh fruit. He pocketed two to take back to Pikachu and began to make his way back to his friend, using the noise of the waterfall as a guide.
By this point Pikachu was awake, and not too pleased that Ash had left him alone in the thick forest. When he saw the shadow of his trainer appear he let fly with a little bolt of electricity to make his displeasure known. A low growl that didn’t sound anything like Ash sounded in return, and Pikachu gulped as he felt the ground shake underneath the figure’s footsteps.
“Hey Pikachu, what are you staring into the forest like that for?” Ash asked from behind him, and the electric-type turned to see his trainer. A feeling of dread gripped the Pokémon as he slowly turned back to the shadow, which had now resolved itself into the shape of a very large and very angry Ursaring.
“Gumaa!” the bear-like creature roared, charging forward with surprising speed.
“Pika Pikapi!” Pikachu shouted, whirling around and darting past his surprised trainer.
“Right behind you!” Ash yelled, sprinting after his Pokémon.
“Gumaahh!” the Ursaring roared, drawing back its head and shooting forth a Hyper Beam. The attack hit the ground just under their feet, sending both of them catapulting into the sky.
“Not again!” Ash yelled as they hurtled over the treetops.
Once again Ash awoke with pain lancing through his skull. He pressed his hand gingerly to his head and was relieved that it seemed intact, save for a slight bump. He turned and was relieved to see that Pikachu had landed next to him, though the Pokémon was apparently not yet conscious. With a groan he sat up, looking around to see where they had landed.
He could no longer hear or see the waterfall, but the lake was visible through a gap in the trees. He felt profoundly grateful for that; if they weren’t able to navigate around the lake’s shores they could have become lost in the wilderness very quickly. His stomach gurgled again and he sighed, absently reaching into his pockets for the two Pecha berries he had picked. His face fell when he drew them out and saw the pulpy mess that they had both become.
“Oh well,” he sighed, throwing the sticky mess amongst the rest of detritus on the forest floor, “guess we can just find some more later.”
“Pika?” Pikachu asked, and Ash jumped slightly; he hadn’t realized the Pokémon was awake.
“Oh, nothing,” he said with a smile as he turned around. “Just feeling hungry is all. What say we go find something to eat, Pikachu?”
“Pika!” Pikachu agreed, setting off for the lake immediately, Ash close on his heels. They both slaked their thirst and then, while Pikachu moved through the shallows to the right, Ash glanced at the sun. A puzzled frown lit the corner of his eyes as he saw how low in the sky it was; but it was getting higher, not lower.
“Oh no,” he moaned, realizing what had happened. “There’s only four days left!”
He quickly splashed after Pikachu, who had found a bush full of Rawst berries and was tucking in energetically. “There’s only four days left, Pikachu!” he shouted as he came skidding to a slippery halt on the loose pebbles underwater, accidentally splashing the electric-type. “Oops, sorry. But Pikachu, we’re running out of time! We’ve only got four days left to catch May that Luvdisc and make our way back to town. And... and...” A rueful smile broke across his face as he realized the impossibility of his task. “And we have to catch a rare Pokémon, in the middle of a very large, very deep lake, and we don’t even have a fishing rod.”
“Pika, pika-pika. Chu, pi chu!” Pikachu responded vehemently, and a slow smile spread across Ash’s face.
“You know what, you’re right, Pikachu,” he said. “We will figure something out! In fact, I think I may even have an idea...”
“P-Pi?” Pikachu asked, his heart suddenly freezing as Ash turned towards him, a look that he didn’t like in his eye.
“Yeah,” Ash said, grinning. “Come here, Pikachu.”
“Pika-pika!” Pikachu wailed as he went tumbling headfirst into the water, a Rawst berry tied to both of his front limbs. He floundered there for a moment before a sharp jerk pulled against his stomach and he was pulled back through the water towards the shore.
“Yeah, great job, Pikachu!” Ash cheered as he hauled his sopping and spluttering Pokémon out of the water, a long and thin strand of vine connecting the electric-type’s waist to the branch Ash held in his hands. “Okay, again!”
“Pi!” was all Pikachu managed to get out before he was dunked under again.
“I think it’s working, Pikachu,” Ash said as he reeled him in again, a flash of pink catching the corner of his eye. “The Luvdisc are coming by; one more cast and you’ll be right in their midst and be able to battle that golden one!” He waited, trying to time it perfectly; he could see the flash of gold in the midst of all the pink as the school circled the lake continuously, and he was determined to catch it while he could.
It was already drawing near evening; the Luvdisc stayed near the centre of the lake, where it was deepest, during the hottest part of the day, only venturing close to the shallows when it cooled down. By the time he had crafted his makeshift rod and convinced a reluctant Pikachu to act as bait, it was already past-noon, and they’d had to wait until only a few minutes ago to actually try and start fishing. He knew that with the number of Luvdisc in the pool, it would take a considerable amount of skill to get Pikachu to the right one, which was why he was so anxious to time it right.
“Now!” he roared, whipping the rod enthusiastically and sending both Pikachu and it into the lake. Ash stared at the empty hands that had held the rod and then at the lake right as the Luvdisc swam past. “Oh,” was all he managed to say. The golden one looked at the dripping Pikachu clinging to the branch as it floated slowly back to land, glaring at his trainer all the while, and then at the ashen-faced human standing on the bank. The Luvdisc laughed, sending several bubbled through the water, and then shot a stream of water at Ash, knocking the surprised boy off his feet. The water-type jumped high into the air and, upon landing, sped back after the rest of the school.
“Did you see that, Pikachu?” Ash asked indignantly, sitting back up as the bedraggled electric-type finally reached the shore and sheared through the vine with his sharp teeth. “That Luvdisc was mocking us! We’ve really got to capture it now! Pikachu?” He suddenly noticed that Pikachu’s cheeks were sizzling, and that he did not look very happy to have found himself floating away on a branch. “Pikachu, wait, it was an honest mi-” he began. Pikachu didn’t let him finish.
With only three days left, Ash was beginning to get very nervous. He didn’t know how long the Luvdisc spawning season lasted, but he was sure that they wouldn’t be staying in the lake for too much longer. He had spent most of this day stripping off some bark at the base of the stick to try and give it a bit more grip in his hands, but was left both surprised and hurt when Pikachu refused point-blank to act as bait again. Now that the Luvdisc knew that they were after it, Ash felt sure that it would not be fooled by just using a berry on a stick, so there was no chance of drawing it in closer to shore so Pikachu could attack it.
“Oh, if only I had Buizel or Corphish with me,” he groaned, his head in his hands. “Then they could go out into the lake and battle it there. But I only brought Pikachu with me...” He briefly considered using a Team Rocket-esque trick in throwing a net over the Pokémon and dragging it in, but dismissed it almost immediately. He couldn’t be that cruel, and capturing a Pokémon that way would make the result lose all meaning.
“Pika,” Pikachu said, tugging on Ash’s jeans, and he looked down to see his friend holding out the makeshift rod out to him.
“It won’t work, Pikachu,” he sighed. “There’s no way that Luvdisc will be fooled, and there’s so many of the normal pink ones that even if it did, they’d probably get it instead. I only used you because you’d be able to battle it once it got close.” He sighed again, and Pikachu’s heart melted at the downcast expression on his face.
“Chaah,” Pikachu exhaled, knowing that he would regret his next decision. Reluctantly, the Pokémon tied the vine securely around his waist and poked Ash with the stick, trying to get his attention. Ash glanced at his Pokémon again and froze, his mouth opening slightly in disbelief as he saw what Pikachu had done.
“P-Pikachu, does... does that mean..?” he stuttered.
“Chu,” Pikachu acknowledged, dropping his head. The excited Ash didn’t notice his friend’s lack of enthusiasm.
“Let’s go then, Pikachu!” he said enthusiastically, picking his friend up and racing to the lake shore. Pikachu bravely bore up through the first few experimental casts as Ash tried to find a good balance, but the water was a bit colder than the day before, and his teeth were soon chattering.
“Don’t worry, Pikachu,” Ash reassured him as he dragged the sodden electric-type from the water for the fifth time. “Look, I can see them coming now! One more throw and you’ll be able to warm yourself up through the electricity, and we’ll finally have May’s birthday present!” Pikachu followed his gaze to the oncoming mass of Luvdisc and nodded grimly, trying to prepare himself for the final dunking. Ash moved into the shallows, his eyes picking out the gold amongst the pink. “Three... two... one...” he whispered.
“Chu!” Pikachu shouted suddenly, and Ash cast the Pokémon into the lake. He realized the instant Pikachu soared over his head that he had not been saying “Go”; rather, it was a warning of a very large and ominous shadow in the water that was causing the Luvdisc to scatter in all directions. Pikachu let out a wail as a monstrous Whiscash burst from the lake and swallowed the Pokémon in mid-air before diving back into the water.
Gathering his strength, Ash dug his feet into the ground grimly, holding onto the stick for dear life as the Whiscash headed back for deeper water. The vine stretched tautly as the two battled against each other, and then Ash was yanked off his feet and began skipping across the water like an extra-large stone as the unusually large water-type sped away, dragging him in its wake. He tried to hold on, he really did. But the speed at which the Whiscash travelled and the severity of the jolting each time he smashed into the water caused his grip to slip. At the moment he felt sure his joints would part company with his fingers, a massive yellow glow lit up from the water ahead.
He was able to stare in surprise at the lightshow for only the briefest of moments before the electricity surged along the vine and entered his own body. The force of the attack was so great that it forced the Whiscash into the air; and while it may have been immune to electricity on the outside of its body, no Pokémon could avoid feeling the power of an enraged Pikachu as it attacked from the inside. The Whiscash opened its mouth in pain to utter a groan, and Pikachu slipped out, belly-flopping into the water. The attack stopped and the Whiscash plunged head-first into the depths, racing away from the little yellow rat. Ash, only semi-conscious, began to slip under the surface, and he was unable to prevent the clawing darkness from taking over his being.
The last thing he saw before he faded was a flash of light circling above his head, and then he was gone.
He came to in a now familiar manner, his body once again coursing with electricity as he sat bolt upright. It was dark, and for a moment he afraid that he was blind; but then he saw the stars above his head and realized it was night again. He opened his mouth to scream some more, gagged, and expelled a considerable amount of lake water. He fell back weakly, his head spinning, but he was not so out of it as to avoid giving Pikachu a few choice words.
“You know, I swear that if you keep this up you’re going to turn me into an electric-type,” he said weakly. Pikachu grinned and brought him a freshly picked Wiki Berry, which Ash ate slowly. “Pikachu, how did I get back here?” he asked his partner presently. “I was in the middle of the lake and I was drowning. What happened?”
“Pi!” Pikachu said, pointing. Ash followed his gaze and saw, to his surprise, the golden Luvdisc in the shallows of the lake, watching him intently.
“Luvdisc!” Ash gasped, struggling upright. He took one step forward and then crashed to his knees, his head twirling so fiercely that he could not keep his balance.
“Pi, pikapi!” Pikachu said in concern, dashing up to his trainer.
“Have... to catch... Luvdisc...” Ash muttered distractedly. “Birthday present for... May... got to catch... Luvdisc...” He lapsed into unconsciousness again and Pikachu, sighing, curled up next to him, giving the Luvdisc a nod of thanks. The Luvdisc returned the gesture but continued to stare at Ash curiously. It was well into the night before it turned and vanished into the lake.
Ash wanted to go after the Luvdisc again when he awoke the next day, but Pikachu wouldn’t hear of it. Ash was still very weak from the near drowning, and Pikachu refused to let him move much during the day, threatening Ash with sparks from his cheeks every time the trainer tried to disobey. Eventually he gave in and watched helplessly as the day - and the Luvdisc - passed him by. As he dropped fretfully off to sleep that night, he knew that he had only a single day left before May’s birthday, and that he was on his last chance to capture the Luvdisc.
When he arose, he knew exactly what he was going to do. He would do no more fooling around with home-made fishing rods, and he would certainly not do anything that involved going deep into the lake. No; the Luvdisc knew that he wanted to capture it, and so he would trust to the Pokémon’s battle honour by challenging it to a straight fight against Pikachu.
The two of them waited through the day, satiating their hunger with a mixture of Pecha, Rawst, and Wiki berries. Something niggled at the back of Ash’s mind as they watched the lake silently. He didn’t know what it was but something seemed different... not right. It was only when the sky began to turn red and the air began to cool that he realized what it was.
“Oh no...” he whispered, “oh no!”
“Pi?” Pikachu asked.
“Look at the lake,” Ash said wretchedly. “We’re sitting here waiting for the Luvdisc to swim past; what is the one thing we haven’t seen today?” Pikachu thought for a moment, and then his mouth dropped in horror.
“That’s right; the Luvdisc have gone!” Ash groaned. “Their breeding season is over; they must have swum back up the waterfall and started their journey back to the ocean. We’ve been sitting here like fools all day and now... he glanced at the quickly darkening sky and shook his head in despair. “May’s birthday is tomorrow,” he whispered. “And I don’t even have a card for her. If by some miracle we managed to find and catch the Luvdisc, we’d never get back by tomorrow.” He hid his head in his hands and began to weep unashamedly.
“All I wanted to do was get her a present she’d never forget; a present she’d love forever,” he whispered, gently rocking back and forth on the ground. “All I wanted was to, for once, just once, get her something nice that she would really enjoy.” His voice caught before he whispered the last dreaded sentence he had never wanted anyone to say about him; “I’m a lousy friend.”
“Pi! Pi-pikachu, Pikapi!” Pikachu said vehemently, but his words could not console his despairing trainer. A slight splash was sounded, but neither of them heard it over Ash’s sobs and Pikachu’s protestations. Only a full force Water Gun blasting into Ash head-on brought the newcomer to their attention. While Ash fell backwards, spluttering in surprise, Pikachu whirled with narrowed eyes, cheeks sparking and ready to attack. The electricity died abruptly in his surprise and as Ash hauled himself back upright his mouth dropped open.
“Luvdisc?” he gasped.
“Love,” the Luvdisc burbled in response.
“You mean... you’re... you...” The Luvdisc shot another Water Gun, this time at Pikachu, and the electric-type leapt nimbly out of the way. A grin spread across Ash’s face as he looked at the golden Pokémon. “I get it,” he grinned. “You’re giving me one battle, one chance, to try and catch you. If I fail, then you rejoin your friends and if I win, you’re caught.”
“Disc,” Luvdisc nodded, it’s eyes sparkling.
“Right,” Ash nodded. “Pikachu! Thunderbolt!”
“Chu!” Pikachu shouted, jumping into the air and unleashing a serious of electrical attacks; caught by surprise, the Luvdisc barely managed to avoid them before retaliating with another Water Gun, which Pikachu dodged.
“Come on Pikachu, this is one battle that we have to win!” Ash encouraged. “Use Iron Tail!”
May enjoyed her birthday thoroughly. She woke up early, as usual, and, leaving a sleepy Eevee on her pillow, found a delicious breakfast waiting for her courtesy of her Mom. Several presents were waiting for her, and she tore into them eagerly after she’d finished eating. Max had gotten her a set of books filled with Coordinating techniques and she thanked him profusely, unsurprised by his choice of gift but certain that there were several tips she could pick up in there. Her mother and father had bought her a new set of travel supplies, including the expensive Great Balls, a replenishment of Potions and Full Heals, and a new travelling outfit that was cut similarly to her orange one, but in her favourite red.
She went up for her shower after that, and when she came back downstairs, this time with Eevee on her shoulder, she was delighted to see Brock and Dawn waiting for her in the kitchen. They gave her their presents – an updated PokéNav and a book filled with his own recipes from Brock and a large Eevee plushie from the blunette – and then they went out to enjoy the day on the town. They shopped for several hours – Brock was laden with all of the bags, of course – before stopping for lunch and then returning home. Misty and Gary both called her, and even Drew had sent her a card; though as usual, he hadn’t sent her a present.
But as the day drew on, she seemed to become a bit downcast; she acted quite chipper throughout dinner and until Brock and Dawn returned to their homes at sunset, but after that her face fell and she retreated upstairs in silence. As she sat on her bed, she was left to ponder the day’s events. It had been, by all accounts, a truly wonderful birthday, but one thing about it bothered her immensely: Ash.
He hadn’t come to celebrate her birthday with Brock and Dawn, he hadn’t phoned her and given a generic birthday greeting; he hadn’t even sent her a card; even Drew had done that! Though his gifts had never been particularly memorable, she was very surprised that he seemed to have forgotten about it entirely. It wasn’t like him at all. Even though it was already late, she sat at her desk and looked out the window, telling herself that he was just running late and would be there soon. Ten o’clock came and she changed into her pyjamas before settling determinedly back down at her desk.
One by one, Max, her mother, and finally even her father went to bed, wishing her a good night in turn. She smiled vaguely at each of them, keeping one eye trained on the window and another on her bedside clock. Eleven-thirty, and though her hopes were fading she held out that Ash would still make it in time. Eleven forty-five came and went. Eleven-fifty. Eleven fifty-five. Eleven fifty-nine. She turned back to the window, her eyes and heart both pleading to the darkness beyond. She glanced at her clock and a gasp broke free of her lips. The luminous numbers gently pulsed 12:01 at her. She stared at it a moment and then clutched at her chest as sudden tears filled her eyes; her heart had given a sudden and violent lurch, and she was certain that it had just been ripped into pieces.
She stumbled over to her bed and lay down beside the gently snoring Eevee, biting a pillow to prevent her anguished sobs from breaking out. But nothing could halt the tears flowing from her eyes, or stop the shakes of misery from painfully wracking her body.
“I thought I meant more to you than that, Ash,” she managed to whisper around the pillow. It was a very long time before exhaustion finally lulled her into sleep.
May awoke red-eyed, her face sticking to her pillow with the dried tears. She glanced through puffy lids at the clock and was surprised to see that it read only three o’clock. She couldn’t fathom what had woken her, but than a dull and insistent rapping drew her attention to the window. She couldn’t help it; her jaw dropped. She rubbed her eyes and looked again, but the same image presented itself to her. Somehow, Ash had inexplicably managed to make his way onto her roof and along the gutter until he sat precariously on her windowsill, gingerly knocking on the glass with his knuckles as he tried not to fall off.
May launched herself towards the window and quickly heaved it open; for a moment she was tempted to just push Ash over the edge, but her more dominant compassionate side won out against her vindictiveness, so she tried to help him get in instead. To her surprise he almost fell in; it was only when he hit the floor and looked at her blearily that she realized how exhausted he was.
“Ash! What... why are you...” she floundered. He looked a real mess; his clothes were stained and torn, his body was covered in scratches and bruises, and... She sniffed the air and recoiled involuntarily, trying not to gag.
“Happy... birthday... May,” Ash managed to whisper. “Sorry... I’m late...”
“What happened to you?” she insisted. “Ash, you smell like you’ve been living in the forest for a week.”
“Had to get you a present,” he muttered indistinctively. “Walked all day to get here...”
“Hold on,” May sighed, leaving him along on the floor while she dashed to the bathroom to fill a glass with water. When she returned she forced him to drink the cool liquid slowly, and he took her ministrations gratefully. With his throat cleared, he was able to explain in more detail exactly why he was late and looked (and smelt) so disgusting. He chose not to.
“Here,” he said simply, holding a Pokéball up to her. She gasped and took the object with trembling fingers, looking at it and at Ash with renewed tears in her eyes.
“I thought you’d forgotten,” she whispered, and he looked insulted.
“How could I ever forget your birthday, May?” he asked indignantly. “It just took me longer than I expected to get you your present!” Then, noticing the expression in her eyes, he softened his tone slightly. “I’m sorry I’m late,” he added. May looked at him again and then depressed the button in the centre of the Pokéball, sending a bright red light shooting forward onto the carpet. When it had cleared, a golden Luvdisc stood in its place, looking at May quite happily. She gasped and pressed her hands to her mouth, unable to say a word as she looked at the beautiful Pokémon before her.
For the third time that night tears leaked from her eyes; her heart no longer felt like it had been shattered; on the contrary, it felt like her chest could no longer contain it within her body.
“I chased that Luvdisc down for a week,” Ash explained, watching her as she gazed raptly at the Pokémon. “You wouldn’t believe all the things that happened to Pikachu and me while we did it. We were attacked by Gyarados and Ursaring, we had to climb down a waterfall, Pikachu got eaten, I almost drowned, and I got shocked by Pikachu about a hundred times. Oh, and then we got lost trying to find our way back. I have to tell you, the forest around Leaf Lake is a maze!” He watched her anxiously; she hadn’t moved since calling the Luvdisc out.
“So... do you like it?” he asked her hesitantly. For the briefest of moments there was no reaction to his question, and then she nodded slowly.
“Ash, it’s... it’s beautiful, but... oh Ash, don’t you know what a Luvdisc signifies?” she asked. He blinked at her.
“Umm... no?” he ventured. “I just thought it would be a good Pokémon for you to use in Contests and stuff, and that you’d like it since it’s pink!” It was May’s turn to blink.
“What do you mean?” she asked cautiously. “It looks pretty golden to me.”
“Yeah, but Luvdisc are pink, May,” Ash explained to her. “And since this one is golden, that makes it a really rare pink Pokémon!”
“Okay...” May said, trying to see through and understand his logic.
“But what did you mean about the Luvdisc?” Ash asked, starting to wonder just what kind of mess that he’d gotten himself into. To his great surprise, May giggled and blushed furiously, trying to hide it by covering her face with her hands.
“Well, you see, Ash,” she began, “Luvdisc are known as the hearts of the sea. Seeing one is supposed to bring you joy, and...”
“Well that’s true then, you looked pretty happy when you saw it,” Ash joked, interrupting her by accident.
“When you give someone a Luvdisc it’s supposed to signify that you like them,” May blurted out, flushing red again. Ash just looked puzzled.
“But of course I like you, May; we’ve been friends for years,” he said, and she sighed.
“Not that kind of like, Ash,” she said. “I mean like; like as in love.” Ash stared at her, stunned. “And,” she added, forging on determinedly, even though she could now barely speak through her blush, “golden Luvdisc are said to only appear to those with a “heart of gold”; giving a golden Luvdisc is much more meaningful than a pink one, because it signifies that the recipient has a heart that is filled with purity and innocence, and that their nature is one of caring; and that you love them more than you could ever express in words,” she added softly, so that Ash may not have been able to hear her.
“But... but...” Ash stammered before lapsing into silence. He lowered his gaze, took a very deep breath, and then looked May in the eyes; standing there in her pyjamas, her eyes still slightly red and puffy, she looked suddenly small and vulnerable, and he wished that he knew what to say. The Luvdisc’s eyes gleamed and, almost unbidden, his mouth began moving of its own accord.
“May, to tell you the truth, I didn’t know that about Luvdisc,” he said. “I just thought it would be a present you’d really like. But now I see that while my brain didn’t have a clue, my heart knew all along. I mean, that is to say... I, uh... I...” Tongue-tied, his words failed him again and he was left standing there and feeling both embarrassed and slightly self-conscious as the glow in the Luvdisc’s eyes faded. May crossed the room to his side and put a finger against his lips, preventing any more babbling from coming out.
“You don’t need to say any more,” she whispered softly, hooking her arms around his neck. “I understand, Ash, and... and I... I feel the same way too.” They stared wordlessly at each for a moment and then Ash tentatively wrapped his arms around her too, feeling slightly uncomfortable about the amount of dirt he was undoubtedly spreading on her clothes. But May did not seem to care for she tightened her grip around him, reaching her face upwards as he nervously brought his down.
Pikachu, waiting in the street below, stared up at the empty window. A wide grin split the Pokémon’s face as a small jet of water shot through the window, signalling that what the Luvdisc had known and Pikachu had hoped for had indeed happened. He scampered down the road, making for the room Ash had rented in the Pokémon Centre over a week ago, content in the knowledge that the seemingly impossible had finally happened.
Back in her room, May broke their embrace and looked away shyly. “Ash,” she whispered, “thank you... for the best birthday gift I could have ever asked for.”
“You mean the Luvdisc?” he asked.
“No,” she said simply. “I mean you.”
Well, I hope that wasn't too bad of a read! It's been a very long time since I've written anything remotely like this, so please review and let me know how it turned out!
26th October 2009, 07:11 PM #2
Re: May's Birthday (PG, AdvanceShipping)
I found the story to be quite enjoyable..... I felt you covered ash very well, I could picture him doing everything in the story and it felt like I could hear him say everything....
The only gripes I have is that day and night went a little to quick for me (It really didn't effect the story, it just seemed odd the days went by so fast),
the ending seemed a little cliche, but you know it is an Advanceshipping fic,
and the story didn't have that spark that pulled me (Don't quite know how else to explain. It's the feeling you get when you just can't stop reading.) I usually read longer stories than this, so it takes a little bit more to suck me in than a shorter story like this. I guess it's better like that or I would be peeved when it ends so shortly after reading...
Other than my minor complaints it was good. Keep up the good work. :D
31st October 2009, 01:16 AM #3
Religion is a club
Re: May's Birthday (PG, AdvanceShipping)
Thanks for the review; I was having some trouble fitting a full week into the story, so unfortunately I had to make some cuts to make time pass more quickly. I think the scene that suffered the most from this was May's actual birthday. Looking back, I really wish I'd put more effort into that and at least added some dialogue. I'll try to get more of a spark into my next story too ;)
11th January 2010, 01:14 AM #4
Re: May's Birthday (PG, AdvanceShipping)
Ah, yes. I read this on the Serebii.net forums or FF.net (can't remember) first, but decided against posting my compliments there and test out the Bulbagarden forums. I don't know if you remember me at all, but I've been writing The Aura is With Me, posted on the aforementioned sites, and I've commented on your work before. [This is the first post I'm making here, by the way.]
As usual, your work is thorough, no grammar mistakes that stick out, or any rudimentary mistakes that detracts from the text. You've done this in every chapter of fiction you have written, and trust me, I've followed. Excellent as always.
As for the pathological side to this story, I think what would be missing, if indeed there was anything missing at all, was more of May in the story. I like that you opened up this story with Ash, and kept it Ash for a while, but I felt it may have been too long, or May's part in the work was simply too short. Juxtaposed to all of the other fictions that have them talking to each other from the getgo, this is a challenging piece that goes against the norm, and that may be the only reason why I felt that something was missing.
Bottom line, I think that this is a wonderful work, once again that demonstrates your abilities as a writer to use your affinity to Pokemon and write something new. Great job as usual, and keep it up!