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 8 - Vulcan Island Reunion
July 31st had come much sooner than Ash expected, yet here he was, in his hut on the ferry from Johto, heading to Vulcan Island and possibly the most important tournament of his life. The tournament, and mostly Cynthia’s taunting challenge, had consumed his mind in the two weeks since he had received his invitation. Ash looked at himself in the mirror and saw the face of someone who was almost a stranger to him now. He had spent the better part of 5 years in the wild and it had shown. He had grown a thick black beard and his face, as well as the rest of his body, had a weathered, harsh look on it now, with the occasional scab and scar here and there. As the young trainer gave himself one final scrape with his shaving razor, he could finally recognize his old self again.
He had left as a boy, and now he would return as a man. Standing tall at 21 years of age he was pleased to see that at least his eyes had remained the same, they still shone with a bright innocence and burned with determination. Smiling, he zipped up his white vest, checked the zipper of his black jeans before finally taking his new cap, a white model with blue accents and a red Pokeball design on the front, and put it on his head. With a happy “Pi!” his longtime partner Pikachu jumped up on his shoulder. He was ready.
Less than an hour later, he stood on the shore of Vulcan Island as dozens of people and Pokemon alike mingled in around him. Looking up towards the gigantic dormant volcano that occupied the northern part of the sky, Ash could see that, besides the harbor, there were no other villages on the island whatsoever. Starting about 100 meters out of the harbor, the great forest that spanned the entire island and surrounded the volcano started. Taking in a big gulp of salty air, Ash started to walk with the crowd, out of the harbor and into the surrounding sea-side village. He remembered he and May had agreed to meet up at a local bar called the “Sea-sick Horsea”. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t have been a difficult mission. Sadly, it seemed the entire village was packed with bars, cafés and restaurants, each and every one of them featuring cheesy titles like “The Cozy Cloyster”, “Tentacruel Tapas” and even a very fancy restaurant named “The Royal Raichu Restaurant”, where they apparently served food which was electrically fried by a team of Raichu chefs.
Utterly lost, Ash eventually found himself in a square, somewhere in the middle of the village. A fountain dominated the center of the square. Entirely made out of marble, in the center of the fountain were three statues of a Squirtle, a Wartortle and a Blastoise. Each of the statues blasted a variable spray of water straight into the air above. Kneeling down before it, Ash splashed some water into his face before standing back up again to look around. His eyes scanned the bars around the square and the people walking by, but he saw no sign of May, Max nor Misty. How was he ever going to find 3 people when there were hundreds walking around in the tight-spaced streets of the village?
“What do you MEAN, you don’t know where the bar is?!” came a loud voice from across the street.
“Well excuse me! I just wanted to pick a fun place to meet each other again, and the Sea-sick Horsea had a really nice looking website!” a higher pitched voice, which Ash identified as belonging to a woman, replied. He was almost certain he recognized both voices, and he started to make his way through the crowd towards their origin.
"Besides!” the female voice continued in a pushy tone, “you’ve always been the tech guy! Why haven’t you pulled a map out of that PokeNav of yours yet?!”
“Hah! So, just because your pretty little head can’t grasp the concept of a PokeNav with wireless internet connection, I get to be the one cleaning up after you?” the other voice replied, disbelief and sarcasm evident. “Well, sorry sis, but even I can’t help you find this bar of yours. There are so many people here, the wireless internet is overloaded. Looks like we’ll have to find our way on our own!”
Just then, Ash pushed his way around the last few people before he could finally see the source of the familiar voices. Before him were May and Max, arguing with each other as though they had never stopped travelling together.
“Max! May! It’s so good to see you guys again!” he shouted and ran the last couple of meters towards them. Immediately, May jerked her head towards the sound of his voice and after more than 5 years he looked her in the eyes again. Her blue orbs instantly started to sparkle as she recognized the tall, handsome trainer standing before her. That Pikachu on his shoulder left her with no doubt in her mind; this was the Ash she had been longing to see for so long.
“Looks like I’m not the only one who had trouble finding the Sea-sick Horsea!” Ash laughed as he stood before his old companions. This made May blush a bit, which in turn greatly amused her little brother, giving him a cheesy grin from ear to ear. Ash took a closer look at both his old companions. Max had changed to most, having matured into a tall, albeit skinny, young man who was about 10 centimeters shorter than he was. He was still wearing the same glasses as before, but he had changed his outfit as he was now wearing blue jeans and a bright red t-shirt featuring a white stylized Pokeball on his chest.
Switching his attention to May, Ash couldn’t help but notice she had become even more beautiful than before. She wore the exact same outfit he had seen her in during the Wallace Cup, combining bright orange clothes with bright green accents. This similarity made the changes she had gone through over the years all the more obvious. The years had been kind to her and she had filled up in all the right places. She still looked very slim and fit, while her chest and hips had definitely gotten bigger. If he had to wager a guess, he’d guess she had a pair of nice C cup breasts these days.
Closing the distance between them, Ash spread his arms and gingerly offered May a hug, a questioning look adorning his face. He wasn’t quite sure a hug was appropriate after all this time, but he didn’t feel comfortable with just shaking her hand. She was worth more than a simple handshake. He was glad to see she felt the same, as she inched forward, holding out her own arms to meet his hug.
“I missed you… S-s-so much” May stuttered as she wrapped her arms around his torso. A single tear slid down her check as she rested her chin on his shoulder. He mimicked her, wrapping her in his surprisingly strong arms. “I missed you too, May… I’m sorry about-… about…” he ended their hug, placing both hands on her shoulders, “I’m sorry, about everything”, he finished. Using his thumb he wiped away May’s tear before focusing on May’s little brother, standing just behind her.
“Max! It’s good to see you again!” he greeted him as they both shook hands, “are those Pokeballs on your belt? Finally became a trainer then, did you?”
“You got that right!” answered Max with a smile, “been training for quite a few years now. I even made it to the top 8 of the Hoenn league last year!” Ash was quite amazed by the boy’s statement. Finishing that high in a League Tournament so early in a career was quite impressive.
“Wow, that’s amazing! Congratulations Max!” he gave Max a firm pat on the back. “I bet you’ve caught a lot of Pokemon by now then. Care to show some?”
“Well, I suppose I can introduce you to my starter…” and with a brilliant flash of light, Max let out his trusted Grovyle. It was immediately standing ready for battle until it realized it wasn’t being summoned into battle, after which it visibly relaxed. Ash could see from Grovyle’s build and the look in his eyes that he had been trained well and was no doubt a force to be reckoned with.
“Ash, this is Grovyle” Max introduced, “Grovyle, this is Ash Ketchum. We travelled together for some time before I became a Pokemon trainer and got you”.
“Pleased to meet you, Grovyle!” Ash nodded, a gesture which Grovyle returned with a smile and a low hiss.
“I’m afraid that’s as much as you’re going to see from my Pokemon, Ash.” Max mentioned as he returned Grovyle to his Pokeball, “seeing as I’m entering the tournament as well… Let’s just say I’d like to keep the element of surprise” he finished with a grin. This statement stunned Ash visibly.
He always knew Max would do well when he would finally start his journey, but this good? Ash gave a low whistle. “Really? That’s quite impressive! It makes sense you don’t want to show the rest of your team then. I’m looking forward to our battle if it comes to that.” The younger trainer smiled and they shook hands again, promising each other to do their best should they come face to face in the tournament.
Just then, as Ash turned to May again he suddenly felt something very heavy jump on his back. With a groan he swiftly turned around, only to get his sight blocked by a drape of red hair as he heard another familiar voice scream in his ear.
“Oh Aaaaaaaaaaash! It’s so so so so good to see you again!” From the redness he felt his face being pushed down, into something yellow and soft.
Regaining his senses, Ash took hold of the person who was holding him and pulled his face out of the yellow fabric. To his surprise, the yellow fabric was actually part of Misty’s cleavage as Ash found out she had pressed his face into her chest. Ash was stunned; this wasn’t like Misty at all. The Misty he knew would’ve hit him on top of the head with a hammer for leaving before she’d ever talk to him again! Yet here she stood, not a centimeter taller than she had been the last time he had seen her. She was wearing a yellow short-sleeved t-shirt with a Staryu design on her chest, below which she wore a pair of blue denim shorts. Finally, her feet were covered with red sports shoes. All in all, her outfit greatly resembled the one she wore when she had first met Ash, with the exception of her now-absent suspenders. Another striking difference was that she no longer wore her hair in her characteristic left-side spike, rather she let her hair run loose now as it reached to just above her shoulders.
“Misty! Wow.. it’s- it’s great to see you again too!” Ash welcomed her, unsure about her behavior. “What was all that about?” he asked.
“I’d like to know that as well Misty!” chimed May, “what WAS that all about? Were you just trying to greet him, or were you trying to poke his eyes out with your tits?” she joked, causing Max to go into a coughing fit while Ash blushed as bright as Voltorb.
“What? It’s been more than five years!” Misty said indignantly, “can’t I treat my favorite traveling partner to a good hug when I finally see him again?”
“Well, nobody’s stopping you Mist, but to be honest… I had expected you to smash my head in with a hammer for leaving you all! You sure you’re all right Misty?” Ash joked as he scratched behind his head with a goofy smile. This seemed to bring some of Misty’s fire back, as she immediately got an angry look on her face and started flexing her right hand. “I haven’t ruled it out yet!” she threatened semi-seriously before she wrapped an arm around his neck and pulled him uncomfortably close. “But we all came here to see you fight in the tournament, and you can’t do that if you’re recovering from a fractured skull, now can you?” she said as she turned her friendly embrace into somewhat of a choke hold.
Wrestling himself free, Ash decided they needed a change of subject; Misty was being way too clingy to be comfortable. “Right, so that’s everyone here then?” he asked, looking between the members of their group.
“Yep, that’s everyone who could make it” confirmed May as she looked at her Pokegear, “except of course Dawn, Zoey and Iris. Since they came from Unova they’re travelling from the airfield on the other side of the island. Sadly enough, Brock, Cilan and Tracey couldn’t make it, though Tracey will be here to see your matches Ash.”
“Right, too bad… It would’ve been great to have Brock with us again” Ash replied. He felt a little sad that one of his oldest travelling companions couldn’t make it, but he remembered they had more important things to worry about now. They had a forest to get through and, knowing them, they were bound to get lost at least two or three times along the way!
“Anyway, if we’re ready we might as well get started! Last one at the forest is a rotten Exeggcute!”
And with that, he started running towards the border of the village, towards the start of the forest and as he ran he could hear his friends running behind him, all of them laughing. All of them relishing in the joy that travelling together again gave them.
A few hours later…
“What do you mean, we’re LOST?” shouted an obviously angry Misty as the group walked aimlessly among the trees. They had followed the road for a few hours before heading off-road and into the forest heading north. By now, the last living being they had seen passed them roughly two hours ago and they had no idea in which direction they were supposed to go.
“Pull yourself together Misty” May intervened, “shouting isn’t going to get us anywhere and it’s getting too dark to navigate properly. Why don’t we settle down here for the night and continue in the morning? I’m sure we’ll find our way again once we can get our bearings.”
The rest of the group quickly agreed to this suggestion and about 15 minutes later they had set up camp among the trees. To May’s annoyance, Misty had planted her sleeping bag directly next to Ash’s, something which nearly caused both girls to go into a shouting match over who could sleep closest to Ash. Highly disturbed, Ash had been thankful the fight had ended abruptly when Max finished cooking their dinner. Eager for food as always, May had dropped the argument and launched herself to her food, munching at her dinner in a manner that could put her Munchlax to shame.
Sometime later, everyone had retreated to their sleeping bags and had fallen asleep. Ash himself was still awake however, gazing at the stars through the forest canopy above them. As he considered the day’s events, he remembered with a pang of guilt that he hadn’t had the chance to confess his feelings to May. Every time he saw an opportunity, either Misty clung herself to him again, or Max somehow broke the mood.
As he turned around, Ash noticed that May’s sleeping bag was empty.
That’s strange? I didn’t even hear her leave…
Curious, Ash stood up and made his way to the sleeping bag. From a faint trail of footprints he could make out May had walked deeper into the forest. Gripped by a sudden feeling of determination, Ash set out to follow her into the night and with a few steps he too vanished among the trees.
Chapter End Notes:
After 5 years, the first half of the group has reunited at last! But where did May go? And why is Misty being so clingy?
Stay tuned for the next couple of chapters, and leave a review if you like it so far. Thanks for reading! :)