Disclaimer: All characters, settings, and related material are the property of their respective owners, Pokemon character names are trademarks of Nintendo. All characters in this story are above the age of consent. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 21 - Dinner at the Munching Meowth
“So… Jessie and James are here as well?” Ash asked as he and his friends made their way through the city’s nightlife.
“They are!” May confirmed as she walked up beside him, linking their arms together in a gesture that made Misty sniff in annoyance.
“They’ve gone into catering actually. Apparently their company takes care of all the catering in the stadium, and they’ve got a pretty good restaurant in the city too!” she continued.
“Really? And they invited us over for a special dinner? Weren’t these the same people who always tried to steal your Pokemon, dear?” Delia Ketchum asked. Shortly after Ritchie and Max had won their first rounds, Delia and Professor Oak had joined the group as they were heading into town for dinner.
“They were, mom… But if May thinks they’ve changed, I believe her.” Ash replied, earning him a thankful squeeze from his girlfriend. “So, where’s this restaurant of theirs anyway?”
“I don’t know actually… We forgot to ask directions…” May confessed with a blush.
“Well, I don’t want to jump the gun here, sis…. But I think I found it!” Max suddenly snickered from the front of the group. He pointed at a building in the distance that made their jaws drop when they looked at it. A large, crème-colored cement building rose up at the edge of a park in the middle of the city. The building was about three stories high and shaped, almost completely, like a giant Meowth…
“Oh my god!”
“You have to be kidding me!”
“That’s the Team Rocket we know all right!”
“They seriously made a restaurant in the shape of a Meowth?!” Misty gasped incredulously as they reached the front door.
“Well… you ARE talking about the same two people who chased us all across the Orange Islands in a submarine shaped like a Magikarp!” Ash chuckled. His stomach suddenly made a loud rumbling noise.
"Well, no sense in waiting! Let's get in and get eating, I'm starving!" he cheered and stormed into the restaurant.
Dinner at the Munching Meowth certainly was a new experience for the group. Jessie and James had insisted on giving them the whole of the restaurant’s VIP section. The Munching Meowth’s VIP section was located on the top floor and was made to imitate the golden coin on the Meowth-shaped building’s head. As such, everything was glowing in a strange golden glow and the group had a magnificent sight on the city through the coin-shaped window.
To their surprise, the dinner they were served was actually of top-notch quality. The juicy steak, coupled with sweat potatoes and fresh salad had everyone’s mouths watering within seconds, so they all dug in right away.
As he cut away at his steak, Ash was having an animated conversation with Ritchie, who was sitting opposite of him on the big round table they all occupied.
“Gotta say Ritchie… That was one amazing match!” he mumbled as he stuffed a piece of steak in his mouth.
“Now Ash… What did I teach you about talking with your mouth full?!” Delia cut in with a frown, causing everyone but Ash to snicker. With a blush, he swallowed and mumbled an apology.
“It looks like you forgot some of your manners in these last 5 years, Ash!” Professor Oak chuckled. “Speaking of which… What did you do in all those years?” Delia asked.
“I’ve been wondering that myself too, actually!” May joined in. “You were never really talkative when we contacted you on the Pokegear.”
“Well… Just, a lot of training, basically…” Ash answered as he tried to remember the early days of his exile. “The first few weeks were very challenging, of course. It wasn’t until Pikachu and I found an abandoned cave that we really got grounded. Besides that, we simply spent our days training, fighting wild Pokemon, challenging any trainer we could find and just… simply surviving really!”
“Wow… Must’ve been tough!” Max commented in awe. “It seems to have paid off, though! Your Infernape seemed to smash right through your opponent’s Pokemon! I know I had a lot more trouble winning my first match…”
“Nonsense Max!” Professor Oak cut in. “You did fine! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Blastoise fight like yours, and that’s saying something!”
"Hehe, thank you Professor! I'll be sure to let him know you said that!" the bespecatcled boy smiled shyly.
“But if there’s one thing I missed most in those 5 years… it’d be having moments like these with you guys!” Ash concluded about an hour later as they were served desserts.
“If you missed us so much, why didn’t you drag your lonely ass back to us sooner?” Misty said in a snide remark. Ash frowned before he answered.
“It wasn’t that easy, Misty… I guess I was just… afraid of what would happen. Afraid how you would all react. I was scared, I didn’t want to return only to lose in the next tournament because I didn’t train enough!”
“Hmmmphf! You never once considered to just return and leave things be?” Misty shot back.
“Come on Misty, you know I could never do that! I’m not quitting this, not until I become a Pokemon Master!” Ash replied with a snarl. After all these years, how could Misty even suggest he would give it all up? Ash Ketchum was a lot things, but he was no quitter.
“Well, the most important thing is that you’re back now!” May decided to cut in, interrupting Ash and Misty before they could launch into one of their well-known bickering. “And for that, I am very grateful…” she said, placing her hand in his in a gesture of affection.
"Amen to that!" Delia agreed, smiling warmly at her son and his girlfriend.
Just before they all finished up their dinner, Zoey gently nudged Dawn, who was sitting next to her. For the entire duration of the dinner, the redheaded mother-to-be hadn’t spoken, until now. Dawn saw the glint in her eyes and nodded determinedly. She tapped her spoon on the sides of her glass lightly, drawing everyone’s attention and silencing any on-going conversation.
“Could we have your attention please? Thank you…” she smiled with a hint of uncertainty in her eyes.
“I know you were all surprised when you saw me yesterday. Me being like this, I mean… Pregnant…” Zoey began, avoiding eye contact by staring intently to the pitcher of water on the table before her. “These last few months haven’t exactly been easy on me… and I appreciate you didn’t pressure on it further. But, I feel you deserve to know the truth…”
“Just take it at your own pace, Zoey… We’ll always be here for you.” May spoke reassuringly, squeezing Zoey’s hand slightly. Zoey made eye contact with the brunette coordinator and smiled, before launching into her tale.
Zoey talked for over an hour, telling her friends about her arrival in Unova and the party she attended in Castellia City. How she had one too many drinks and ended up in bed with a man she remembered only as a faceless blur. The group let out a collective gasp as Zoey told them how she had woken up the day after and found two used condoms, one of them broken. May had to stifle a sniff while Misty swore under her breath as Zoey spoke of the weeks that followed. Despite having taken the morning-after-pill, the redheaded coordinator still went through all the symptoms. A few weeks after the incident, she had been forced to acknowledge that she was indeed pregnant.
The months after that, Zoey had spent in isolation as she focused on keeping her life as normal as possible despite her baby. She had continued her coordinating journey, but she was pretty much forced to put it on hold when her stomach prevented her from wearing her contest attire. With a voice that was shaking with emotion, but with a face that was completely dry, Zoey finished her story, explaining how she had met up with Dawn the day before.
After she had finished, silence pressed on the entire group for what seemed to last an eternity until May spoke up.
“M-… My god, Zoey… I can’t believe what you’ve had to go through. I had no idea!”
“I can’t believe that guy just… up and left you that morning! Son of a bitch!” Max swore as he slammed his fist into the table. Beside him, Misty looked as though she was ready to strangle the mystery man who had impregnated Zoey, but for now she didn’t say a word.
“And, you can’t remember anything about him… Nothing at all?” Ash inquired gently, but Zoey simply shook her sadly.
“Trust me… I tried. I tried for 8 months to remember that bastard’s face … nothing. I simply can’t remember anything from that night!” she lamented, close to tears. Seeing she was in need of support, Dawn quickly wrapped her arm around her and whispered encouragements in an attempt to raise the saddened redhead’s spirits.
“Zoey… I couldn’t help but notice… as a mother, but… you haven’t told your parents yet, have you?” Delia then cut in, standing up from her spot to kneel beside Zoey on the other end of the table.
“N-no…” Zoey admitted. “I just, never gathered the nerve to do it…”
“Well, just know that you won’t have to do it alone.” Delia said reassuringly, surprising Zoey. “From what I can see, you’ve got an amazing bunch of friends who are supporting you, and Dawn seems especially fond of you!” she continued, causing Dawn to blush brightly.
“When you feel up to it… tell them. I’m sure my Ash and his friends will be there to back you up.” Delia finished, squeezing Zoey’s hand reassuringly. “And hey, if you want, I could give you some maternity tips of my own. Arceus knows I could’ve used them when I had Ash!”
“T-thank you Mrs. Ketchum… I really appreciate it.” Zoey thanked her, feeling amazed and grateful for the seasoned mother's help and support.
After the group finished up their conversations and pledged their support to Zoey, they made their way back to the hotel, ready for a good night’s sleep in preparation for the next day of the tournament. On their trip back to the hotel, Max couldn’t help but notice that Misty was still acting rather distantly. She had eaten only a little bit at the Munching Meowth and she had kept herself out of any conversation as much as possible. However, when the bespectacled trainer asked her how she felt, she cut him short with a biting remark, insisting that she was fine.
When they made it back to their hotel room, Misty immediately went to bed, where she curled up into a fetal position, hugging her legs until sleep finally came. Max, meanwhile, was left alone to ponder on what was wrong with the Cerulean gym leader, and how he could help her with it...
Before he could come up with any coherent plans though, he made the mistake of closing his eyes, not opening them again until morning came the next day.
Meanwhile, in another room nearby, Dawn helped an exhausted Zoey into her pajamas. The red haired girl didn’t regret revealing her secret to everyone, but the emotional rollercoaster that had followed had drained her in both mind and body.
“I’m glad you convinced me to tell them, Dawn…” she murmured softly as she finished pulling on her pajama pants, raising her arms into the air as Dawn pulled up her shirt. “Telling them… I’ve-… I haven’t felt this relieved in months.”
The blue haired girl hummed softly as she loosened Zoey’s bra, releasing her girlfriend’s sizable mounds as the young woman sighed in relief.
“You did great, love…” Dawn murmured. She took Zoey’s pajama top and pulled it over her head. “And you won’t have to do this on your own… We’re here for you! I-… I’m here for you…” she finished, slowly rubbing Zoey’s back before giving her a hug. Zoey smiled affectionately as she clasped their hands together, interlocking their fingers
“I know you are, hun… I know you are… You don’t know how thankful I am that you are…”
Dawn changed into her pajamas as well, a far quicker process than it had been for Zoey, and they both lay down in bed. Zoey turned on her side, facing away from Dawn as her Twinleaf Town born girlfriend spooned her from behind, wrapping her arm around Zoey’s pregnant belly.
“Good night, love.”
“Good night… I love you.”