Single By 30 @shinygrowlithe12
Chapter 18

Shoutout to NeoXen7 for the question. Hah. I assumed y'all could read my mind, which is a dumb assumption. Anyway, NeoXen7 asked what the role of the Elite Four is in my world. I'm sure people have these questions too. This is going to be a long intro and explanation, so if you don't care for it, just scroll to the start of the chapter.

I base the Pokemon World like the United States. Children go to school from like September to June, have a summer vacation, and then repeat. That's like the tournament season and then the summer offseason. In the Pokemon universe, people can challenge the 8 gyms and then compete to face off against the champion OR people can take that test by staying in school and whatnot. You'll have to watch the Pokemon episode where Ash and friends took a test.

Something I've thought about but haven't implemented in any of my stories yet is a third option to being the champion: Those who already have all 8 badges from a region do not need to rechallenge the gyms or wait until the tournament season. They can just go battle the Elite Four, like in the videogames.

In this story, though, the Elite Four is only challenged during the tournament by the last challenger. Since this is only for about one month out of the whole year, what does the Elite Four do during the tournament season? NeoXen7 noted that, in the anime, Elite Four members and Champions are often traveling too, so Misty could travel with Ash.

However, my view of the Elite Four's role, especially in Kanto, is working as G-Men. Lance is the strongest Elite Four member for a reason. He leads the G-Men who help fight off danger in Kanto. I like to think the Elite Four also help Lance with this. The G-Men are a select group os specialized trainers.

Besides for saving the region, the Elite Four has a lot of paperwork too. They are leaders who represent the region, so they often attend celebratory events throughout their region. Of course, they do have time to travel a bit, but with the G-Men and League responsibilities, they can't freely travel like someone without a leadership position. Therefore, Misty can't travel with Ash.

Maybe Misty could meet up with Ash during the times she is able to travel? Sure. First, though, this is her first year as an Elite Four member. She'll most likely be busy settling in and learning the ropes this year. In the future, she'll have more time to travel, which will allow her to maybe spend a few weeks at a time with Ash on the road. However, Ash sucks at communication, and the way I have him traveling right now, he might just travel secluded parts of the world to find other Pokemon Masters and learn from them. He won't have any cell reception, and Misty won't really know where to search for him. She also needs to remain in areas with cell reception just in case the League has an emergency.

Hence the reason why Ash and Misty are having this dilemma of not traveling together. I know the anime shows top officials traveling often, but in reality, I feel like they have real jobs and responsibilities besides just a title. I like to keep things more realistic. Like I said with my third option above, I will incorporate (in other stories), the Elite Four having to stay at the Indigo Plateau to battle challengers who don't need to rechallenge all 8 gyms.

Also, AshPli asked a question about how I only mentioned Ash having traveled with Iris, but he did have other female traveling companions as well. First, thank you, Ash Pli, for all of the loyal reviews! I love reading them. :D Secondly, I stated that Iris is a female "trainer", which I meant to say "battler." Dawn, May, and Serena are coordinators. While Ash could train alongside them and grow, they have different goals. Misty wants to be a Water Pokemon Master. Ash wants to be a Pokemon Master. They're both battlers, and that's easier for Ash to rival against than a coordinator.

I hope this cleared up any confusion. If you have more questions, please reach out! Enjoy this chapter hehe.


Chapter 18

"Uh. I think you should leave." Misty finally speaks after what feels like hours of everyone just staring at each other, though it has only been a few silent minutes. The redhead steps up in between Ash and the new arrival.

Smiling shyly, the blonde woman politely responds, "Misty, right? Um. I'm Serena."

Misty ignores the hand extended towards her. Normally, Misty would not be rude, regardless of Serena being Ash's ex. However, Misty doesn't tolerate cheaters. Of course, Misty understands there are two sides to a story, but Ash wouldn't make up being cheated on. Ash wouldn't fake this depression. "I don't know how you got in." Though Misty assumes it has to do with the yellow mouse beside them. "But you need to leave. You're not welcomed here."

Serena quickly casts her eyes at Ash and then back at Misty. Respectfully nodding, the blonde responds, "I tried calling, and I couldn't reach him. I'm sorry for dropping in so late."

"Please leave." Misty doesn't want Ash to relapse again. His silence now is scaring her. It reminds her of when their relationship first began and Ash couldn't even lift his head.

"Wait." To everyone's surprise, the raven haired man's deep yet quiet voice rings out. Misty curiously raises an eyebrow in his direction. What's going on? When Ash raises his head, he looks right past Misty and locks eyes with those bright blue ones that used to ache his heart tremendously.

As much as he appreciates Misty for kicking out Serena, Ash can't let Serena go like this. Ash has been too much of a wuss to go to Kalos and meet Serena again. He wasn't even sure she'd see him. Now that she's taken the step to come here, this is a sign. The fact that he can't fully get over her and get rid of that ring is due to not having closure. Maybe talking to Serena will help with that? Despite dreading this conversation, Ash needs it. He needs it to be able to live a fulfilling life with Misty.

Therefore, the man takes a step forward past Misty, bringing him closer to his ex. "We should talk."

Slightly hurt that Ash just ignored her the moment Serena came around, Misty decides to leave them be. Ash is his own person. He can make his own decisions, and maybe he needs to talk to Serena? Misty trusts Ash completely. Glancing down at Pikachu, the redhead says, "Let's make sure everyone's asleep, Pikachu."

"Chu." Pikachu leaps onto Misty's shoulder. He had heard knocking earlier, and to make sure no one was trying to break into the gym, Pikachu went to investigate. It was when he instantly recognized Serena's scent and saw her. While he understands Ash is happy with Misty, Serena's pleas through the door caused Pikachu to just let her in. She came all this way to Kanto, so she may as well see Ash. It's up to Ash whether he listens to her, though Pikachu is curious what they'll be speaking about.

When Misty enters the gym, she grows further more upset. Ash still didn't acknowledge her. Shaking her head, Misty fights the selfish thoughts. This is about Ash right now. She can trust him...right? What if Serena tries to get him to come back now that he's better? Now that he's finally recovered from her? Misty shuts her eyes tightly as her heart aches. This sucks, but all Misty has to rely on is Ash's love for her. Ash claims he's always loved her and not Serena. Misty really hopes those words are true and not just Ash's reliance on Misty this year.

"Pikachupi?" Pikachu worriedly whispers to get Misty's attention.

Scratching his back, Misty gives Pikachu a very convincing smile. "I'm just worried about Ash. I hope he doesn't break down."

"Chu." Pikachu nods. He too is worried about Ash, so Pikachu wouldn't let Ash get hurt again. Nevertheless, Serena's words earlier indicate that she isn't here for anything ill-willed. Pikachu hopes he can still trust his trainer's ex.

Back in the yard, Ash and Serena have managed to sit on the patio furniture. Granted, they are seated as far away from each other as possible. Neither one has yet to say anything about Serena being here. They've avoided all eye contact the moment Pikachu and Misty left. Ash isn't even trying to be hospitable by offering any beverages. A part of him just wants to disappear from this situation, though he knows he needs to push through it.

Fortunately, Serena breaks the silence for them both. "You look better."

"Why are you here?" Ash isn't about to have small talk. Besides, it's unfair for Serena to comment on his bettering health when she was the one who drove him into that depression. Today, especially, is their anniversary. So why is she here?

Although hurt by his rough tone, Serena understands where his frustrations stem from. "I need closure."

Scoffing, Ash shakes his head in disbelief. "You need closure? You're the one who left me without a word!" He promised himself that he wouldn't get mad, but it's difficult when Serena is making this about her.

Glaring at him, Serena exclaims, "You left me first, Ash!"

"I left to get the media off our backs! It was to give you space!"

"I needed you!"

"And you didn't want the media finding out either." Ash growls. "I can't be in two places at once."

"You didn't have to leave! You could've found another solution!" chokes out Serena.

Running a hand through his hair, Ash lets out a few deep breaths, breathing techniques Misty has made him work on. Luckily, this also allows Serena time to cool down. "I couldn't be there, and I thought it was better that I distracted the media. It'd be more believable that nothing was wrong."

"That was a selfish decision."

Ash now meets Serena's glare with his own. "Don't talk about selfish. You're the one who cheated."

"I needed a comforting hand, and you left when I needed you most. Of course I'm gonna latch onto the next person who wants to support me!" As much as Serena didn't want to cheat on anyone, that was a very vulnerable moment for her. She needed someone. She needed Ash, but the next best option was Tierno.

"You don't think I needed a comforting hand too? But I didn't run away to someone! I handled the media and then I was gonna come back and grieve with you!" Sadly chuckling, Ash mutters, "But I find out you've left me for Tian, so whatever. You did us both a favor."

"Stop blaming me, Ash! I still feel shitty about the whole situation!" Why does he keep doing this? What happened to the kind selfless man? "I already blame myself for the miscarriage. Don't pin our breakup on just me."

Flashback

"I can't wait to be home. What about you, Pikachu?" Ash asks his loyal starter Pokemon.

"Pi pikachu!" Exclaims the excited mouse.

They've been gone on a League task for the past two weeks. Fortunately for them, this mission didn't require being in secluded areas, so Ash was able to videocall Serena daily. She's still got Kalos Queen duties, requiring her to remain in one place for the most part. Occasionally, she'll be able to accompany Ash on a mission because it is part of her job description. However, lately, Serena has been feeling ill. So much that Ash didn't even want to go on this mission, but Serena told him to. Something about how it's just a slight flu that will pass by the time he returns, though it just seems like it's getting worse. Ash wants to be by his fiance's side.

Lifting up his hand to show Pikachu the bag of groceries they just bought, Ash says, "I'm gonna make mom's famous soup. That'll help Serena feel better."

"Chu." Pikachu nods.

Spotting the familiar house up ahead, Ash takes off in a sprint. Being gone from his fiance for more than a day makes him miss her tremendously. Serena's mother is currently on a business trip in Alola, meaning the Kalos Queen is home alone. Thus, when Ash swings the door open, his first task is finding her. Not seeing her in the living room, he figures she must be upstairs. It's late, so Serena should be home rather than at the contest hall.

Pikachu is also sniffing out for the blonde, though this is difficult when her scent is everywhere. She does live here. Hopping off of Ash's shoulder, Pikachu decides they should split up to find Serena. "Pikapikachu!"

"Serena!" Ash follows suit with the shout. So much for surprising her, but he's too eager to wait. "Serena!" Pikachu decides to search the ground level as Ash curiously looks through each bedroom. The longer they go without finding her, the more nervous he gets. Eventually, he realizes she must not be home. Plopping down on the couch alongside Pikachu, Ash mutters, "Where could she be? She knows we're supposed to come back any day now." Ash didn't tell her a specific day because he didn't know one. When he did find out his discharge date, he wanted to surprise Serena.

"Pikachu?" Pikachu is sure Serena must be with friends or something. Whenever Ash and her mother are gone, Serena likes venturing out in town more. Something about not being cooped up in the lonely house. Another reason Ash always hurries home to her.

Sighing, Ash decides to start cooking the soup. Whether Serena is still sick or not, it's still good to have soup because the outside temperature is a little windy. He'd call her, but he still wants to surprise her. "Guess we'll just wait for her."

"Pi." Nods the mouse who now follows his trainer into the kitchen.

Ash becomes so engrossed in his task. Pikachu is currently in a ketchup coma since he was too tired and hungry to wait for Ash. The mouse is knocked out on the kitchen counter. With the two being preoccupied, they don't notice anyone entering from the front, nor do they notice her watching her fiance lovingly. It must've been a few minutes, but she was mesmerized with his care cooking. Ash isn't a good cook, though he puts effort into everything he does.

When Ash turns around to grab some dirty dishes, he spots a figure. Doing a double take, he instantly sees it's his fiance. Well, there goes trying to surprise her. Grinning widely as Serena approaches him, Ash asks, "How long were you there?"

"Long enough." The blonde wraps her arms around his neck to give him a very long passionate kiss. She's missed him tremendously, more so lately too. "I love you."

"I love you too." Ash can't help but grin wider. He feels lucky to have her in his life. It's a good thing she asked him out because he doubts his dense self would've realized his feelings for her. "Where were you this late?" Ash is released to turn off the stove. He resumes putting dirty dishes in the sink and grabs clean dishes for a late dinner.

"I had an appointment." Shrugs the woman who helps him. "Wow. Smells good." She loves anything he cooks, even if it doesn't taste too good.

"Heh. I hope it tastes good too." Ash sheepishly chuckles.

A few hours after eating, showering, and some much needed fun, Ash and Serena turn in for the night. Ash is exhausted from his journey, and Serena is just tired. When the woman comes out of the bathroom, she sits next to her slightly dozing fiance. Kissing his cheek causes Ash to open his eyes a bit. Serena giggles from his cuteness. "I have something for you."

"Hm?" The groggy man forces himself to get up. Normally, he'd be more difficult to wake up, but having not seen Serena in a few weeks, he's eager for anything she has for him.

With Ash more alert, Serena hands him some pieces of paper. Ash is still sleepy, so it takes him a few seconds to register what he's looking at. Once his eye sight is normal, he studies the dark photographs. "What's this?"

Obviously this dense man wouldn't know. Nevertheless, Serena is too excited to wait for him to figure it out. "We're having a baby, Ash! We're pregnant!"

"Huh?" Ash asks dumbfounded. Looking between the photos and the excited woman, Ash continues trying to register her words. And when he does, a huge grin breaks out on his face. "Really?"

"Uh huh!" Nods Serena with an equally large smile.

All fatigue is gone from Ash now as he tackles her in a hug. He lifts her in his arms to twirl her around. Although they wanted to wait until marriage to have children, they are engaged. That's close enough. Besides, this is the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Of course he wants to have children with her. "You can't take this back!" Ash tells the giggling woman.

"I'm serious, Ash. We're having a baby." Serena was also in disbelief when she had multiple positive pregnancy tests. Cupping Ash's face in her hands, She gazes into his excited loving brown orbs. "You're gonna be a dad."

Ash's face hurts from smiling so much, but he can't help himself. His mother will be so happy when she finds out. She's always bothering him about grandchildren, even though he is fairly young. Plus, Ash didn't have a father, so he wants to be the best father he can be. Yes, he's nervous, but with Serena by his side, he's sure he'll be a great dad. "I always wanted to be a dad."

"I know." Serena laughs at his cuteness and kisses him again. Sleep can wait. She's been dying to share this news with him. The timing had to work out perfectly with him arriving after she got home from her ultrasound appointment. That way, she could show him the pictures rather than a few sticks. "I love you, Ash."

Flashback Over

The redhead has her feet wading in the water. Pikachu is worriedly seated beside her while Kingdra is swimming laps around the pool. Kingdra is so used to the other lively Pokemon at Cerise Park that he's still adjusting his sleeping schedule. Pikachu didn't want to go to sleep until he is sure Ash is okay. No one can be sure until Serena leaves and they can check on Ash. Misty obviously can't sleep either. Thus, to give Ash privacy, she's just in the gym. Sensing his trainer is awake, Kingdra made a ruckus until Misty let him out to relieve some energy.

"I hope Ash is okay." Mutters Misty.

"Pikachu pi pikapi pikachu." Pikachu nods in agreement. Despite the very exhausting day, neither of them feel the urge to sleep. Their worry keeps them wide awake.

"I wonder what they're talking about?"

"Pi pikachu."

"Arg! But we need to respect their privacy, right?" Misty tells the mouse. "I'm worried and I'm curious. I need to distract myself before I end up spying on them!"

"Pi…" Pikachu totally understands Misty's frustrations. Standing up alertly, he sparks his cheeks and points to Kingdra.

"A battle?" Misty asks.

"Chu!"

Smirking, the redhead calls over to Kingdra, "Got time to battle, Kingdra?"

"Draaaa!" Kingdra excitedly cries out. The Dragon type is eager for a battle.

"Alright, Pikachu. You asked for it. We won't be going easy, so don't take us lightly." Misty runs over to her platform as Pikachu leaps on his.

"Pi pika!" Pikachu's cheeks spark more. Yes. This is a good distraction for them both.

While Misty and Pikachu are distracting themselves, little do they know, there is a screaming match occurring in the backyard. "We lost a child!" painfully exclaims the man.

"I know, Ash!" Serena sobs back. "I was broken too!"

He angrily shakes his head. "Doesn't seem like it. You moved on really quickly."

"I moved on because you left! I miscarried! I needed you, but you weren't there!"

"I was keeping the media off our asses. They kept saying shit that wasn't true!" Back when the two dated, they were out daily. They were out so much the media got bored of them. Thus, after the miscarriage, the two staying indoors triggered red flags to the media. They were excited to see what the scoop could be on the Kalos Queen.

"Screw the media! I needed you!" Serena still hates how Ash's attention wasn't on her when she needed him the most.

Ash rolls his eyes in disbelief. "This is stupid." He isn't going to argue about this again. He won't let her turn him into a recluse again.

When Ash begins walking away, Serena shouts, "See! You're doing it again. You're leaving when I need you!"

Flashback

"I can't wait to go home tomorrow." Ash grins as he talks to Pikachu. The man is currently packing his bags for his trip home tomorrow.

Ash and Serena haven't told anyone about the pregnancy. Not even the Pokemon because the couple wants to tell everyone at the same time. It's been difficult to keep the secret, but they felt that they should tell their loved ones in person. Grace's business trip is taking longer than expected. Ash and Serena are visiting Delia tomorrow anyway, so Delia will be the first person to know. Due to everyone's busy schedule, Ash and Serena haven't had time to visit anyone until now that Serena is 14 weeks pregnant.

"Chu pikachu!" Pikachu can't wait to see Delia again. Thankfully, everyone's attention is on Ash and Serena's wedding, so no one suspects her being pregnant. She'll start showing a lot more soon. Thus, Ash and Serena know they need to tell their loved ones before the media finds out first.

"Ash!" That shout sounds terrifying. So much that Ash doesn't need to think. He drops everything in his hands and sprints upstairs with Pikachu closely behind.

Running into the bedroom, Ash yells, "Serena? Where are you?"

"Ash!" Her voice is shaky and shrill. He instantly hears it from the master bath. Nothing could prepare him for the sight inside.

Freezing at the doorway, Ash notices a lot of blood. So much blood. He isn't sure what to do. Pikachu entering the bathroom after Ash causes the mouse to lightly brush Ash's legs. At this, Ash's attention returns to the situation. He manages to push Pikachu out of the bathroom with his foot, leaving the curious mouse in the bedroom. Pikachu hadn't had a chance to see all the blood inside, but he smells it.

"Pikapi!" Pikachu worriedly calls in, though Ash ignores it.

All Ash can focus on is his sobbing fiance sitting in a lot of blood. Taking in a deep breath to level himself, Ash finds the courage to approach Serena. When he's finally standing in front of her, she looks up into his scared brown eyes with her own tearful ones. The words that escape her lips next shatter his heart. "I think we lost them."

Sinking to the ground beside her, Ash grabs her bloody hands in his. He can't bear to look at the scene around them, so he focuses on her once comforting blue orbs. "Lost what?" Please don't say what he thinks she's going to say. Ash is sure he knows the answer, but he hopes he's wrong.

After sobbing and sniffling some more, Serena manages to whisper, "Our baby, Ash. I think we lost our baby."

And his heart finally breaks. Pulling Serena into a tight hug, Ash shares her pain. He cries into her hair while also hoping to provide some sort of comfort. "We should go to the hospital." Mutters the man when some time has passed. His breathing is returning to somewhat normal levels, which allows his mind to come back to its senses. This is a lot of blood. Serena's health is important too.

Nodding, the woman remains on the ground clutching Ash's arm. "I don't wanna leave right now." She doubts she can go out in public like this.

"Maybe the doctors can do something?" Ash presses.

"Ash, stop. The baby is gone." Chokes out Serena again, and Ash holds her tightly once more. "It hurts so much." Her heart aches just as strongly, if not more, than his. This child is a symbol of their love. She's always wanted to have a life with Ash, and now that they had that, they lost it. Life isn't fair.

As much as Ash wants to rush Serena to the hospital to rescue their baby, he knows she's correct. The baby is gone. This harsh reality hurts too much. They'll go to the hospital eventually. For Serena's health. But for now, they'll just silently cry in this bathroom. Despite his own pains, Ash will be a shoulder for his fiance. They both need each other now more than ever.

A little over a week later, Ash and Serena are still coping with their loss. They went to the hospital where it was indeed confirmed that they miscarried. The Pokemon have been giving them space, though no one knows what's gotten their trainers so down. Ash had to cancel on his mother saying some excuse about Serena being sick. He couldn't bring himself to tell Delia about the miscarriage. She's always wanted grandchildren, so she'd be devastated.

Ash and Serena decided that not telling anyone would be the best option because they never even got around to telling anyone about the pregnancy. There's no reason to get everyone's pity, and there's no reason to get everyone upset about something they never knew about. Therefore, the couple has remained indoors to grieve on their own; however, the media has been growing curious about them being cooped up inside.

The Kalos power couple never stays inside for more than a few days at a time, especially during such great weather. The fact that Serena went to the hospital last week, and that was the last time anyone spotted the couple outdoors, has many rumors flying. Could it be an illness? A pregnancy? Something else? The public is in a frenzy trying to pry into the couple's life.

Indoors, Ash has other concerns. Ever since the miscarriage, Serena has been more distant. She shies away from his touches often. Plus, Ash finds himself hiding away from her to grieve in his own ways. He doesn't feel that he should cry around her when she's already hurting this much, especially since he's supposed to be her support. Nevertheless, the past few days have been difficult for the couple to even be around each other. They are each blaming themselves, which in turns, causes their guilt to keep them apart.

Knocking on the bedroom door, Ash hopes to get his fiance's attention. Like lately, she doesn't even acknowledge him. He forces himself to walk inside with some stew he made for lunch. "You should eat." Mew. Even his voice sounds so meek. When Ash places the bowl on the nightstand, Serena still hasn't looked at him. Sighing, Ash leans back in the chair while Serena remains laying on the bed. "The doctor says we need to rebuild your strength."

At these words, the broken woman chokes out, "How can you just move on?"

"What?"

Furious, she sits up. Serena is tired of Ash acting like they didn't just lose their child. They may have never met the baby, but the baby is still a part of them both. Maybe because Serena carried the child unlike Ash? That could be the reason Ash is acting like everything is okay when it clearly is not. "We lost our baby, Ash! And you're acting like everything is normal!"

"Just because I don't show my tears doesn't mean I'm not hurting either!" Fires back the heartbroken man. Why is she taking this out on him? He's in just as much pain. Ash always wanted to be a father. He was ecstatic finding out he'd finally be one, and now he isn't one anymore. His child is dead. Serena has no right to accuse him of being insensitive.

"Show it! I hate crying by myself! We're supposed to help each other in these times!" cries the woman.

Shaking his head, Ash abruptly stands up to leave. He won't argue with her. He won't hurt her more than they're both already hurting. Right now, they're arguing based on their pain. He already lost his baby. He won't lose his fiance. If it means holding his tongue and taking a break, then he'll do it. Sorry, Serena, but Ash won't risk making their situation worse. Right now, they both need to support each other to move on. Not argue with one another.

Downstairs, Ash heads to the kitchen for a cool glass of water. Along the way he passes the Pokemon in the living room who were watching a battle before he went up to Serena. Now, the news is on, which Ash can faintly hear from the kitchen. Pikachu scampers in to curiously look at his stressed out trainer. The Pokemon have no idea what's wrong with Serena, though they assume she's sick. The fatigue on Ash worries everyone on how severe Serena's condition is, even though Ash assures them she'll be fine soon. He seems to be trying to convince himself of those words more than anyone else.

"Pikapi?"

Running a hand through his hair, Ash mumbles, "I'm fine."

"Pichupikapi?"

"She's fine too."

"Pi pikachu pikapi chu?" the wary question comes out, and Ash lets out a long breath.

"We'll be fine." Again, he's trying to convince himself of those words. The more time goes on, the more distant Serena is. The more she wants nothing to do with him. Well, that's how Ash feels.

Nevertheless, Serena feels the same way about Ash. She feels like he's more distant because he blames her for the miscarriage. She was the one carrying their baby, so it's her fault she lost it. Not only does Serena hate herself for the situation, she can't endure believing Ash blames her too. All she wants is his support, but he's always leaving her by herself in the room. It's as if he forces himself to be around her. This whole situation is magnified worse because only Ash knows what's hurting her, yet he won't even be near her.

Downstairs, Ash is on his third glass of cold water. No matter how much he drinks, his throat always feels parched. Pikachu worriedly eyes Ash. In the living room, the news is still playing, which is when Ash hears, "Could it be a miscarriage? There have been speculations of Serena going to an OBGYN the past few weeks. Could the recent hospital visit be due to a miscarriage?"

Ash instantly sprints into the living room to listen to the news segment. Gossip is nothing new to him, especially lately with everyone trying to figure out why he and Serena are always indoors. "Or maybe Serena has a serious illness? It'd explain why they've been cooped up since returning from the hospital."

"It could be Ash too." Suggests another reporter. "He hasn't been taking any new missions for weeks now. Maybe something is seriously wrong with him?"

"Whatever it is. Trouble in paradise seems to be stirring."

"Whoa! I just had a thought!" One reporter exclaims. "What if they went to get rid of the baby?"

"You mean an abortion?"

"Think about it. They're way too busy for a child right now. Something could've happened, and they decided getting rid of the baby would be the best option?"

"Tauros shit!" Ash angrily tosses the nearby lamp at the TV, breaking the TV and shattering the lamp. At least now the TV is silenced, but the Pokemon look at him worriedly.

"Pikapi!" Pikachu stands in front of Ash to make sure Ash doesn't break anything else. Or harm anyone.

"C'mon, Pikachu. We're going out." The media won't shut up because they're staying indoors. If Ash leaves for a bit, that'll get everyone to shut up. He needs to resume acting like everything is normal. That will get the media off their asses. What irks Ash the most is what that last reporter claimed. Like Ash would willingly kill his own child. That's uncalled for.

With clenched fists, the man grabs his cap, pokebelt, and a backpack he always keeps packed. Leaving the house, he tells Serena's Pokemon to keep an eye on her and that he'll be back in a few days. He'll be taking up that mission the League contacted him about the other day. No one knows he's off because of Serena's miscarriage. As much as he wants to stay by his fiance's side, she doesn't even want him there. She pushes him away, so he may as well help them by keeping the media at bay. These rumors need to stop.

Flashback Over

"You didn't fucking need me!" Ash angrily counters. "You ran to Tierno a month after we lost our baby!"

"I never ran to anyone! You were the only one I wanted! But you left for League missions a week after we lost our baby!"

"Stop lying! You pushed me away!" Ash recalls all of his fruitless attempts to console her. Serena wouldn't respond or even talk to him. She wanted him gone, so he left.

"You left!" repeats the woman. No matter how she was treating Ash those years ago, he should've known she was hurting. He should've been patient and waited beside her instead of leaving.

"I left for us! You clearly needed space-"

"I did not!"

Furrowing his brows, Ash continues, "And the media wouldn't leave us alone. I had to make them think we were okay. We were already hurting enough. Imagine if they found out we miscarried?"

"Who cares?" Shouts Serena. "I was only focused on our family, Ash! I don't care if the world knows or makes up lies! All I wanted was you by my side, but you left when I needed you the most!"

Mew. They are getting no where with this argument, but it's a lot better than it was years ago. Ash is still very hurt and angered by the break up. However, this conversation has given him more insight and some slight closure. "I came back, and you immediately moved on." growls the man.

Equally as upset, Serena tells him, "I didn't move on right away. It took me a whole year to get over you and fall for Tierno."

Ouch. Those words hurt because at one point in his life, Serena was his world. His lover. "Took you a month to sleep with him."

"I was hurting." Serena knows what she did back then wasn't the right way to go about their relationship, but so much was happening. She was vulnerable.

"I was too."

"But you left."

"I know! We keep talking about the same thing!" He glares at her. "So let's move on and you tell me why you cheated on me."

"It was never my intention to cheat on you or anyone." She softly meets his angry orbs. Serena fully understands Ash's current pain and heartache. There is no excuse to justify cheating. "It just kinda happened. I was alone, I needed someone, and he was there."

Flashback

After waking up, Serena is surprised there's no food beside her. Usually, her fiance has been getting her out of bed, trying to convince her to start the day. He would cuddle her as they sleep every night. That didn't happen at all last night. If Serena recalls correctly, after she and Ash had yet another spat, he didn't return to the room. Looking at the desk beside the bed, Serena notices the cold bowl of soup and the cup of water are still there. Ash usually takes the dishes out before bed.

Serena is already hurting enough from the loss of their baby. The fact that this argument with Ash adds on to the pain isn't helping either. He must've slept in the guest room. Since the miscarriage, Ash has been distant. Yes, he cares for her and checks up on her. However, he doesn't seem bothered by the miscarriage. He is moving on with life just fine. Although he treats Serena gently, his lack of emotion towards the loss of their baby angers Serena.

Getting up, the woman is now frustrated. Where is her fiance? She searches around the upper level of the house only to see the guest room is untouched. Okay. Maybe he slept downstairs? Does he want to be that far away from her that he's willing to sleep on the uncomfortable couch? Serena's heart tightens, and she fights the lump in her throat.

Once downstairs, she is hit with the waft of something cooking in the kitchen. Okay. He may not have slept in the same room as her last night or came back to check on her, but he's starting this day anew. She should too. She should apologize for snapping at him. These hormones and this pain is getting her to act negatively. Ash is trying his best. The fact that he's still cooking for her after the argument shows how much love he has for her.

Nevertheless, when Serena enters the kitchen, she only spots her loyal Pokemon. Sensing that someone entered the room, the Pokemon warily look up at their trainer. Like Ash, they have been cautious around Serena. The Pokemon try to console her and be there with her, but they understand that all she wants is Ash. Knowing that Ash is gone, they are not prepared for Serena's reaction.

"Where's Ash?" The woman curiously asks.

Braixen, Panchem, and Sylveon awkwardly exchange eye contact. No one is sure how to break the news to their trainer. Sighing, Braixen figures she should. She is the one closest to Serena, and it was Ash who entrusted Serena's health to her. "Brai braixen brai brax."

"He left? Where'd he go?" The grocery store? Usually, the Pokemon do the shopping for them. Maybe Ash just needs more space, so he went this time? Serena feels even more guilty about their spat.

"Syl sylvy sylveon syl syl." Sylveon can't let Braixen do all the talking. They're a team.

As her Pokemon's words register in her head, Serena's heart sinks. He left? He went on a League mission? When she needed him the most, he decided to just go to work? It's not like they lost a child last week or anything. Wanting to cry again, she tells her Pokemon, "I'm not hungry." And then leaves for the stairs again.

What is Ash doing? Does he not love her anymore? Is he blaming her for the miscarriage? She's already blaming herself so much. All she wants is his comfort, but he leaves without saying a word to her. Checking her pokenav once back in her room, she doesn't see any messages or calls from him. Is he even coming back? Ash has a lot of his belongings here at their Kalos home, though he only needs whatever is in his backpack. Serena is scared he won't return.

A few days later, Serena still hasn't heard from Ash. She knows these League missions can take him weeks or months. That's another reason she's so upset by him going on one. Does he want to be away from her for that long? Serena's Pokemon have been caring for her and trying to encourage her to get move on with life. The fact that Ash is neglecting her is actually giving Serena strength. She was so sad to have lost his baby, but if this is how he's going to act, she's partly glad she never had his child. He obviously isn't ready for one.

Serena can, for the most part, cook and clean by herself. She still doesn't feel ready to face the world and go back to work just yet, but she's getting there. Ash can move on, so she can too. She doesn't need him. As much as she wants him, Serena knows her worth. She won't wait around for someone who leaves her when she needs him the most. Ash was supposed to be different. He has a kind selfless heart, which further confuses Serena on his absence. Nevertheless, the more she is upset with him, the easier it's been for her to move on from the miscarriage.

The doorbell ringing makes Serena sigh because the media has repeated tried to interview her. They're wondering why she hasn't left her house in so long and why she hasn't been at work. Apparently, celebrities just can't be sick. "Panchem, you know what to do." The little bear can scare away any reporter.

"Chem!" Panchem salutes her and rushes towards the living room. Serena is currently in the kitchen trying to figure out what to eat. Soon, Panchem rushes back, "Pan panchem pan pan chem pan panchem."

Serena frowns. Friends have contacted her hoping she gets better from her cold. Some have offered to visit, but she's told them the cold isn't bad. Lately, people have asked if she's okay with Ash going back to work. Of course, Serena has lied, saying she encouraged him to go back. Something about the League really needing his strength, and Serena is recovering well enough to care for herself.

Serena believes she's been playing off everyone well, though she just never expected anyone to actually come visit her. Delia offered, which Serena politely declined. This person at the door shouldn't be here. They're not even that close. Sighing, she tells Panchem, "I don't wanna see anyone." The only person she's willing to see is her stupid fiance who left her and hasn't tried contacting her once.

"Pan panchem." Pancham sweatdrops. The person at the door won't leave.

"You're a Pokemon. You can scare him away."

"Braixen brai brax." Braixen interjects her input. It'll be nice for Serena to have some human interaction. This may distract her from Ash. Being around a third party could help her.

"No." Serena narrows her eyes at her Pokemon, but Braixen heads towards the living room.

"Sylvy sylveon." Sylveon agrees with the other Pokemon. Serena keeps hiding and isolating herself from everyone. This isn't good for her, especially with Ash gone.

As Serena rushes after Braixen, Sylveon tries to get in the way. Pancham too clings onto his trainer. Serena needs new interaction. Living in her head, secluded in this house, is not helping her at all. Thus, Braixen manages to open the door for the guest to see Serena wrestling with her other two Pokemon.

When Serena finally realizes it's too late, she awkwardly meets the gaze of the man outside. The two stare at each other in silence before he slowly raises his arm up, revealing a takeout bag. "Uh. I brought lunch… if you're hungry…"

Well, it's too late now. He's here, and he's seen her. When they were younger, Serena wanted nothing to do with him. She found him annoying, especially his advances. Ever since she got with Ash, Tierno has become more respectful. He's a great rival to Ash, and an even better friend. Serena finds him as a good friend whenever she sees him. They're not close enough for her to ever contact him first, but they're close enough that if they were to run into each other, then they'd be just fine hanging out.

"Uh." Serena shoves Pancham off of her. "Yeah. I was just trying to decide what to cook." She sheepishly smiles, and Tierno accepts it as an invitation inside.

"I figured you and Ash would like a break from cooking." Tierno chuckles while following Serena to the kitchen. "I was in the area, and didn't wanna have lunch alone." He knows about Serena being sick, so Tierno brought her some soup. "I'm sure you're also sick of Ash's cooking too." Teases the man. Phew. It was slightly awkward at the door, but Tierno is remembering how they interact again.

"Heh. He's not too bad." There's her fake smile again. Can't be letting anyone think they're having trouble in paradise.

Tierno pulls out two other to-go boxes. "Where's Ash? I don't see Pikachu?"

Does Tierno not know? Serena curiously watches the man. Not many of her friends watch the news because the media is annoying. Ash did just leave a few days ago, so Tierno probably didn't hear about that yet. "He went on a League mission."

"What? Really?" Tierno is surprised because Ash would never leave Serena if she's sick. Something Tierno has noticed is that Serena doesn't look sick. Yes, she appears lethargic, but she isn't as sick as he pictured she'd be. "When did he leave?"

She shrugs. "Last week. I told him I'd be fine without him. The League really needed him."

Nodding, Tierno shyly rubs the back of his head. Although he and Serena are somewhat friends, he doesn't want to give her any negative publicity by being alone with her in her house. When they do hang out, it's usually in public and with Ash. "It's a beautiful day out, we should eat in the backyard."

"I'd rather stay inside." Serena sits down and digs into the soup. It's really good.

Tierno awkwardly sits across from her to eat his own food. He'll leave once they finish eating. It'd be rude to leave now since she let him inside. "You look good. I mean. I heard you were sick." He did have a huge crush on her growing up. Xerneas. He's always had a huge crush on her, though he's suppressed it due to his friendship with Ash.

"Yeah. I'm feeling better." Repeats Serena from before. "What brings you to town?" Although she isn't in the mood to interact with others, she won't be rude. He brought her soup, and he thought Ash was here. Tierno is a good friend.

Relaxing, Tierno responds, "I'm just passing through. I like visiting people I know whenever I can." Grins the man. "I'm still searching for talented dancers to join my dance academy." A few years ago, Tierno met enough people who formed a dance academy with him. He occasionally travels around the world recruiting more people and Pokemon.

"I'm glad you love your job."

"It's awesome! Being a champion wasn't for me at all. Like Pokemon battling is fun every now and them, but I love dancing more!" Serena's giggling makes Tierno raise a confused eyebrow at her. Why is she laughing? Wait. Why is she crying? He didn't say anything sad. "Serena?" Her Pokemon also worriedly rush to her side. Tierno isn't sure what to do or say.

The woman herself, though, is crying through her giggles. Hearing Tierno so overly optimistic and excited reminds her so much of life before the miscarriage. Of life being happy and free. Of people chasing their dreams. Of what life should be like. She's missed it, and she's especially missed it within herself. Wiping her eyes, Serena's teary gaze meets the nervous man's. "I'm fine."

"Uh. But you're crying…"

Still giggling, Serena responds, "It's been a pretty shitty two weeks. Thanks for making me laugh. I forgot what that's like." Tierno's overly positive personality reminds Serena a lot of Ash's. Or at least Ash's personality before the miscarriage. Before he started getting distant and neglectful. Frowning, she mutters, "I haven't laughed in a while."

Tierno, though, is trying to piece some information together. Serena said Ash left last week, but it's been a shitty 2 weeks. Has it been bad while Ash was around? If so, then why did he leave? Tierno knows there's no way Ash would leave if he's arguing with Serena. He'd want to make their relationship work. "I'm glad you're laughing again then." It's not his place to pry.

Wow. Talking to Tierno is so easy. Serena already feels a lot better. Having someone around who isn't trying to pry. Someone who doesn't know a thing about her pain. Someone she can just have fun with. This is a great distraction, and the best medicine to heal. Tierno is goofy. Serena is sure she'll be laughing a lot today. "You should stay for dinner. I'm sure we'll have leftovers." She refers to the takeout tray Tierno had brought for Ash.

Chuckling, Tierno is still trying to make sense of her words. Why does she want him to stay? Ash isn't coming back today, is he? It's awkward and not right for Tierno to be home alone with his friend's fiance. "You can have it." Tierno politely declines the invite. "I should get going. Got a lot of traveling to do." When he sees the slight frown on Serena's face, his heart tugs tightly. Xerneas. Ash will understand, right? Whatever the media may portray this as is wrong. A man and a woman can be friends. Ash isn't the jealous type, and Ash trusts them all. Letting out a breath, Tierno smiles. "Actually, I can spare a few hours."

Serena smiles brightly. Having a human to talk to will be nice. Tierno isn't a close friend, but at least she won't be all alone in this house anymore. "Great! Make yourself at home. You must be tired from all that traveling. You should let your Pokemon out to play in the yard."

"Thanks." Grins the man. Why is Serena so eager for him to stay? She probably misses Ash a lot and just wants a distraction. "I think I'll do that."

After a few hours of hanging out, the two are heating up leftovers for dinner. Tierno plans to leave after the meal. Despite the catching up they've had, he won't stick around overnight without Ash. Next time, Tierno will be sure to ask if Ash will be home before coming. Tierno assumed Ash was home because Serena is sick, though she has not looked sick at all today.

"Thanks for hanging out with me, Tierno." Smiles the woman.

"Yeah. It was fun. We never really get to interact when Ash is around." Which is how it should be. Tierno respects his friends.

"That's because you both want to battle all the time."

"I think that's mainly Ash." Chuckles Tierno. "Do you know when he'll be coming home?"

She frowns slightly, and he notices. "I never really know. Sometimes, he'll tell me."

"Probably cuz he isn't sure either." Tierno regrets asking.

"Yeah." Ash has yet to contact her at all. Sometimes, he works in areas without service, but he still should've said something before he left. No. He shouldn't have left at all.

Sensing the drop in mood, Tierno shifts topics. "When will you be going back to work? You seem a lot better than the media was saying."

"I don't know. I want to go back soon." Especially because Ash can just go back like nothing happened. "But I'm not ready to."

"Is your cold that bad?" Could it be something worse? A disease? There's no way Ash would leave her alone if that was the case...right?

Sighing as she leans back in her seat, the woman contemplates telling him everything. She can't keep it to herself anymore. It's good to vent sometimes. She felt like she couldn't vent to Ash because he would keep suppressing his feelings. She already feels like he blames her. In addition, there's only so much Serena can say to her Pokemon. Tierno is a third party. A good listening ear who is very respectful. Maybe he can talk to Ash and get Ash to finally open up about the miscarriage?

"Tierno…"

"Hm?" He sets down his fork, his full focus on her. Something about her demeanor is telling him this is going to be a serious conversation.

"Do you think you can talk to Ash for me?"

Now, he's reminded of his thought from earlier. Serena and Ash must be going through something. The man doesn't want to get involved, though that hopeful gaze on his old crush makes him cave. That and the fact that they've spent the whole afternoon together. "I don't wanna make anything worse."

She shakes her head. "No. I trust Ash. I love him, and I know he loves me too. But he isn't being fully honest with me about his feelings. I'm not sure how he feels, so can you check in on him for me? I'll contact you whenever he comes back."

"But you just said you know he loves you. I know he loves you too."

Taking in a deep breath, Serena looks down at her hands shyly. The only times she's spoken about this topic is when she's arguing with Ash. She has yet to tell her mother, and Serena isn't sure she ever will. "I'm sorry to ask you this."

Seeing her shoulders slump, Tierno quickly states, "I can help! You know I'm always rooting for you and Ash. If I can help you two communicate better, I will! I wanna see this wedding of yours happen."

Serena is so glad to have a friend like him. With her head still down, she eventually finds the courage to say, "The other week, I miscarried."

What. Tierno blinks at her, but judging by her quiet Pokemon nearby, he knows this is true. Did he hear her correctly? "Did you say miscarried?" Her slow nod makes his heart sink. That is terrible. No one should go through that, especially these two. Tierno isn't sure what to say, but now he understands why Serena wants him to check on Ash. Nevertheless, why would Ash leave so soon after the loss of a child? For work too. What is going through Ash's head?

"He hasn't cried since the day it happened. He doesn't even talk about it. It's like he's in denial or he just moved on. He went back to work." comes Serena's muffled voice as she fights more tears from falling. "I just feel so alone, and now he's gone."

"Uh." The man brings a hand across the table to rub Serena's arm. "I'll check on Ash. I'm sure he's hurting too and using the League mission as a distraction."

"But I need him. I'm the one who miscarried. I just want a hug." weeps the woman.

Quickly standing up, Tierno heads around the table to envelop his friend in a tight hug. It's totally appropriate for friends to hug, even if they are of the opposite gender. Even if he did have a huge crush on her growing up. Right now, she needs a hug, and she's clinging onto him as well. He feels her tears soaking his shirt. Xerneas. Tierno isn't sure what he's getting himself into. Ash needs to come home soon to take care of his fiance. This is Ash's place. Not Tierno's. In the meantime, Tierno will be a good friend and help Serena cope. He can't just leave her now after everything she's expressed to him.

A few weeks later, Ash is flying over Vaniville Town. The League mission isn't quite over yet; however, he's been gone for too long. The League can finish the mission without him. He's done enough, and he misses Serena. Hopefully this space has helped her open up to him more so that she'll stop pushing him away. He's missed her tremendously, but being in an area with no service and also being scared of what she'll say has kept him from contacting her. He already knows he owes her a lot of apologizing for leaving her without saying a word.

On the plus side, the media has moved on from their gossip about the Kalos couple. Ash returning to work made everyone think Serena was just suffering from a mild cold. Ash doesn't listen to the news, so he isn't sure whether she's returned to work or not. He'll find out soon. Another reason he is adamant to return home today rather than finish the mission is because it's his anniversary. July 22nd. No matter what strifes he and his fiance are going through, they will always celebrate each other.

"I can't wait to see Serena again." Ash tells Pikachu who eagerly nods. Pikachu still isn't a fan of Ash leaving Serena while she was sick. Ash hasn't told anyone what's been going on between him and Serena, but Pikachu respects his trainer enough not to pry.

Despite not expressing it, Ash is still hurting from the miscarriage. He's slowly getting past it, and he's sure he'll fully recover alongside Serena. They are each other's strengths. Currently, he's been ignoring his feelings in hopes of helping Serena heal. He's supposed to be her shoulder and support. While leaving for a League mission wasn't the smartest thing to do, Ash's head is a lot clearer. His strength to tackle his fiance's distance is back. Ash is sure they'll make it through this patch stronger than ever. She is the one he wants to spend the rest of his life with.

Once Noivern lands, Ash returns him. Pikachu is perched on his trainer's shoulder as Ash opens the front door. There are no Pokemon inside, but Ash did see some figures in the yard when Noivern flew overhead. Is Serena in the room? The only reason the Pokemon would be playing in the yard is if she's better. Else, they wouldn't leave her alone inside. Ash is even more eager to see Serena now that she's doing a lot better. Well, that's if his assumption is correct.

"You should go play with the Pokemon." Ash also wants to talk to Serena alone. He isn't ready to disclose the news about the miscarriage to his Pokemon.

"Chu?" Pikachu would rather greet Serena and make sure she's okay. It won't take too long.

"I'll bring her out after talking to her. She's probably pissed I left without saying anything." Please get the hint Pikachu.

Reluctantly nodding, Pikachu heads for the back door, and Ash goes upstairs. Once in the hall, Ash hears some noise coming from down the hall. What is Serena doing? Or is that the TV? This is a lot of progress compared to when he left. She was so lifeless. The fact that the TV is on must be because she's watching it. They'll be okay. Ash is sure of it. Serena is recovering just fine, and Ash is mentally getting back too.

"Pikapi!" Pikachu's shout from downstairs as Ash opens the master bedroom door rings out. Why is Pikachu calling for him? Pikachu was supposed to go outside.

However, the loud cry seems to startle Serena inside the room where her blue eyes meet Ash's surprised brown orbs. The bouquet of flowers in Ash's hands drop to the floor just when Pikachu arrives by his trainer's side. Ash observes the scene in front of him, which is exactly what Pikachu was trying to warn him about. What is he doing in Ash's bed Ash is supposed to share with his fiance?

The first one to break the tense silence is the naked woman who leaps out of the bed. Pikachu looks away, and Ash is still in disbelief. When Pikachu went outside, he saw Tierno's Pokemon. It was then Pikachu heard the news from Serena's Pokemon regarding Serena's current relationship with Tierno. Pikachu was too late in warning his trainer on the scene. "Ash, I can explain."

Shaking his head, the man backs up away from the door. He can't find any words to express himself. Not only is his heart still aching from the miscarriage, but now this? Why is this happening to him? "Let's go, Pikachu." Ash mutters in discouragement.

"Ash!" Serena attempts to chase after him.

Very hurt, Ash snaps when Serena grabs his shoulder. He glares into her scared blue eyes. "Just go finish what you're doing. We'll talk later." It's their anniversary. How could she do this to him? To them? Especially on today. Especially after they just lost their baby last month! Ash can't be here right now. His heart is going to explode, so he needs to get far away to let out all of these emotions.

"I didn't think you were coming back! I thought you left!" No calls. No texts. Nothing from him. Today is their anniversary, and she was feeling vulnerable without him. She was lonely. One thing led to another, and she ended up sleeping with Tierno. Tierno has been caring for Serena these past few weeks. He's a great shoulder to lean on, so Serena allowed her reliance on him to push things further. She just never expected Ash to come back at all.

"Let me go before I do something I regret." Like beat the living shit out of Tierno.

"We need to talk, Ash!"

"About what? You cheating on me? You pushed me away so you could find someone else. What the fuck!"

"That's not true, Ash!" Tierno runs out with shorts on now. He won't let Ash badmouth Serena. Tierno knows all about Serena's feelings as well as the miscommunication between this couple. While Tierno knows he shouldn't have slept with Serena, his lust caused him to after she kissed him earlier. One thing led to another, and now Tierno's fear of losing his friend is becoming a reality.

"Stay out of this!" Shouts Ash angrily while Pikachu sparks his cheeks at the other man.

"You left me, Ash!" Serena counters. No way will Ash make her be the sole bad guy. He messed up too.

Throwing his hands up in the air, Ash can't entertain this right now. He's hurting. He needs to yell away his pain, and he can't stand to be here anymore. "Fine. I'll leave again. For good this time." Yes. He loves her. That's why his heart is shattering. However, he won't tolerate her cheating, and their relationship is just too broken to be salvaged. The hurt man also isn't thinking too rationally. He wants to get as far away from here as possible.

"You don't mean that." Serena practically cries.

Ash doesn't respond as he storms down the stairs and out of the house. He quickly hops on Noivern where Ash takes off his engagement ring to throw in the sky. Noivern isn't sure what's wrong, but judging by Ash's heavy tears, something serious has happened. Pikachu will inform him later. For now, the Pokemon tries his best to get his trainer some privacy where Ash will hopefully let out all of his pent up emotions and pain.

Some time later, Ash returns home to Pallet Town without saying a word to anyone. He doesn't see Serena, no matter how much she's searched for him. He only sends her one message before turning off his pokenav, which is to mail some of his belongings to his mother. The moment Ash gets back to Pallet Town, Delia can tell he's broken. She figured it was just an argument with Serena and Ash would leave again. However, when Ash's belongings start arriving from Kalos, Delia knows something is up. And then Serena announces the broken engagement.

Serena shipped her engagement ring to Ash who was furious to have it. Nevertheless, he couldn't bring himself to throw it away because he still loved her. She's someone he thought he'd spend the rest of his life with. Someone he thought he'd have a family with. Someone he'es spent so much time and energy and love with. No matter what happened in the last month of their relationship, Ash couldn't throw the ring away, so he hid it, like how he hid his feelings.

Besides, Ash blames himself for the broken relationship. If he was more supportive. If he hadn't left. If he had messaged her. If he had called. Mew. If he just stayed by her side through thick and thin then none of this would've happened. It's his fault he lost her. He made her vulnerable. He wasn't supportive. Therefore, he'll hold onto this guilt for the rest of his life. He deserves it.

Flashback Over

"I think we both just need some closure, Ash." Serena tries to lower her voice. They were just shouting at each other, and she doesn't want to attract Misty back outside. This is a conversation that needs to be had between Serena and Ash.

"You claim you needed me, but I needed you too! And where'd you go? Tierno." Ash shakes his head in disbelief. "And now you're here asking for closure so that you can marry him? That's selfish as fuck, Serena." These past couple of years, he was in a depression because he thought he was the selfish one. Wow. Ash was wrong this whole time, yet he suffered from it.

Okay. Ash just can't have a civil conversation. While Serena knows she was in the wrong for cheating on him, she's not completely at fault. Regardless of what was going on in the last month of their relationship, he shouldn't have left the way he did. They needed the closure back then, which could've prevented him from being the recluse he was all these years. Ash wasn't a saint either, and he still isn't. His accusatory words about this closure is pissing her off because he's the worst hypocrite!

"You're the one who got married without complete closure! Don't think I didn't know you were hiding in your room the whole time leading up to your marriage going public! And you were still hiding for months after that." Serena is pissed. He's coming at her for wanting closure before starting a new relationship, but he's the hypocrite who married a woman without closing loose ends. Serena feels bad for his wife.

Furious that Serena wants to make him out to be as bad as her, Ash exclaims, "It's not even real!"

Serena is confused by his words, which causes her to calm down slightly. "Huh?"

"My marriage with Misty. It's not real!" Ash exasperates. Serena can't make him look like he's the problem again. Ash won't be so nice this time around.

"Then why?" What is he saying?

"It doesn't matter." Ash growls. "But you're marrying Tierno for real. You cheated on me with him. I'm never gonna forgive you." Screw her closure. She doesn't deserve it.

"You're still a jerk, Ash. You always wanna be the victim. Let me remind you." Serena gets into his face. Both adults won't back down from the other. "I was pregnant. I carried and cared for our baby. I felt the physical pain when I miscarried." Tears fall down her cheeks. "Can you imagine what it feels like to know your baby is dying, and you can't do anything about it? To feel everything physically?"

"That doesn't downplay my feelings though." growls Ash. "Fuck your closure. Just leave and never come back. You were doing really good at that the past few years" She had the past three years to face him, but she didn't. Why even come back now?

Serena's glare intensifies. "I couldn't come back. You were so depressed, I was scared you'd kill yourself if I showed up." Now that Ash is better, Serena figures this is the best time to get closure. Only then will she not be guilty about marrying Tierno.

"You were so depressed after the miscarriage, and I was by your side! I helped you!"

This and that are different. She loves him during her depression. He hated her during his. "But then you left without saying a word."

"And still, no one knows about the miscarriage."

The two fall silent for a bit until Serena mutters, "Do you love her?"

"What?"

"Do you love Misty?"

"I told you it's a fake marriage." What is she getting at?

Serena takes in a deep breath. "She's a good friend then. She's willing to be in a fake marriage with you, and she helped you out of your depression. You shouldn't lose her."

"I don't need your opinion." Ash narrows his eyes at her. "Leave." The world doesn't know Serena cheated on Ash because Serena didn't go public with Tierno until a couple months after her breakup with Ash.

"You need closure too, Ash. I can see it on your face. Let's just be honest with each other here." Insists the woman. As much as she's fed up with Ash's hostility, she's here to have a happy future with Tierno.

"Honest?" Chuckles the man. "Like how we promised to only love each other? Give me a break."

"Let's stop the blame game here. I accept full responsibility for the cheating, but I'm not the only reason we broke up." Serena counters. "You left me."

"You pushed me away."

"You were pushing me to move on from the miscarriage. Like you didn't care."

"Of course I cared! I always wanted to be a dad!" Ash shouts. "I can't even look at children anymore! They make me nervous and I break down. I've suffered so much from us. So much that you would never understand-"

"Then tell me! Let's get closure!"

"Fuck your closure!" Ash is panting hard directly in Serena's face as she's doing the same.

Eventually, the woman takes a step back, breathes in, and closes her eyes. "I tried, Ash. Now that I know how you felt, and I gave my apology, I'm at peace with myself. I acknowledge that cheating was not the right thing to do, and I'm sorry. But I don't regret the love with Tierno I've made from that."

"Just leave already." Way to rub salt in his wounds.

Finally walking away, Serena tells him, "I did love you a lot."

"Go." His glare is the last time Serena sees those brown orbs she used to love.

When she goes inside, Ash collapses on the cool grass. Some of the blades help cool his hot angry cheeks. His heart is still beating quickly, so he yells out loudly. With the gym having a huge yard, hopefully no one will hear. Ash is hurting again. His chest aches. This isn't fair. How can she just show up and expect closure from him when she was in the wrong?

Nevertheless, he does feel ready to get rid of that ring. It's like a tumor that's been draining him, so he needs to let it go already. He knows he's ready to. Her coming by today has caused something to shift within him. While he can't forgive Serena, he knows he can finally move past her for good.

Inside, Misty is still swimming around anxiously. If not for her and Pikachu holding each other down, they'd both be outside spying right now. The more time that passes, the more restless they're getting. Pikachu did lose to Kingdra in a battle because Pikachu was too distracted by what his trainer could be going through. Misty is still tired from the long day and the swim, but she won't get out of the pool. Doing so will result in her going to the backyard.

When the tired mouse alertly jumps to the poolside, Misty curiously swims over. "What is it, Pikachu?"

"Um. Hello?" comes a hesitant voice, which Misty recognizes as the woman who is supposed to be outside.

Looking in that direction as she gets out of the water, Misty isn't sure how to approach Serena. Should she glare? Be hostile? Serena did cheat on Ash, according to Ash, though this is Misty's first time seeing the blonde. Not seeing Ash anywhere nearby, Misty hopes he isn't packing a bag to runaway with Serena. Last Misty checked, Serena is engaged to some guy in Kalos.

"Hi." Misty crosses her arms over her chest, opting to take in Serena's energy first.

Serena awkwardly shifts her feet. Pikachu warily watches the women. Eventually, Serena speaks. There's a reason she didn't just leave and instead came in search of Misty. "I'm glad Ash is with you." Misty nods. "Please keep him happy."

"You don't need to tell me any of this. You could've just left."

Sighing, Serena replies, "I don't wanna see you two go through what we did."

"I won't cheat on him." snaps Misty, and Serena winces.

"There were a lot of things that led up to it."

"Look, whatever problems you had with Ash, are with him. You don't need to say anything to me." Misty walks towards the bench with her towel on it, getting away from Ash's ex.

"He told me this is a fake marriage, but I find it hard to believe that's how you both feel about it." Misty now stops drying herself off, though she doesn't face Serena. "I think it's fair that you know everything. I'm pretty sure Ash hasn't told you."

"Ash can tell me when he's ready."

Ignoring the redhead's words, Serena believes she's doing a service to Misty. "I'm not saying what I did was right, but I do acknowledge my mistakes and I want closure. We broke up because of our lack of communication. Because I mi-"

"Tell that to him." Misty is doesn't need to listen to Serena.

"I did." Serena states. "He bottled his feelings in back then, and I know he's doing it again now. That's where things started going wrong with us. We weren't honest about our feelings. We tried to hide them away and move on."

Letting out an annoyed breath, Misty slips on her tank top and some shorts over her bikini. She then approaches Serena after telling Pikachu to go check on Ash. Meeting Serena's nervous blue orbs, Misty tells her, "I've known Ash longer than you. Pretty sure I know him better than you too. I don't need your advice on where you screwed up because if you really loved him, you never would've hurt him like that."

"Don't attack me. You don't even know me." Serena is here doing a service for Misty.

"I don't need to know you. I was respectful enough to let you talk to him, but that's it. Leave us alone now."

Serena takes a few steps back towards the door. She gets the memo. Despite Misty's hostility, Serena understands it. "I'm glad he's with you."

"Me too." The only good thing to come out of Ash's heartache is that Misty got to love him again. Misty isn't sure what exactly happened between the two all those years ago.

However, she loves him so much that she wishes none of this pain would've been inflicted on him. If Serena didn't cheat, none of this would've happened. Ash would be in Kalos, married, possibly with a child. Not here with Misty, and Misty is fine with that as long as Ash never has to go through this pain. Unfortunately, all of these painful moments did happen to the man, leading him to her arms.

Nodding, Serena makes her exit. She's said all she needed to say. Also, she's gained an understanding of Misty. More so than what she's read from online. In the past, Ash used to talk about Misty since she was his first traveling companion. Serena would get slightly jealous, but Serena didn't mind. She's met some of Ash's previous female traveling companions and was fine with them. Nevertheless, Misty is the only one Serena never met. Ash said he stopped being friends with her some time in the middle of his relationship with Serena. Serena has no idea what happened, but she didn't ask.

Now that Serena finally got to meet Misty, Serena is able to fully move on from Ash. Her guilt has kept her tied to him. Seeing how protective Misty is about him as well as how much the two love each other makes Serena know Ash will only get better. He's already improved so much with Misty. Serena recalls watching them run around the yard playfully when she arrived. Ash claims this marriage is fake, but the feelings seem very real. More than platonic.

After Serena leaves, Misty sits on the bench with her head in her hands. She lets out a very loud groan. Just what is going on? Why is Misty so nervous seeing Ash? She wants to check on him. Is she scared on what she'll see? On how Serena has affected Ash yet again? What happened between him and Serena outside? Serena should've never came back, even if she wanted closure. She's the one who cheated on Ash.

Sighing, Misty gets up. Before she was Ash's lover, she was his friend. His best friend. And a best friend should check on him when something like this happens. Misty eventually makes her way to the back door. All this time, she was eager to see Ash. But the moment she is able to, Misty finds that she's taking her time getting to him.

Looking through the back door, she sees Pikachu's yellow fur sitting beside Ash. He's seated on the steps of the back porch. Next to him, Misty spots the 6-pack of beer that belongs to Daisy. It was in the fridge when Misty and Ash returned from Hoenn. There were only four bottles in it, though judging by now, Misty sees there is less. Finding the courage to see him, despite not knowing where this anxiousness is coming from, Misty opens the back door.

"Want some company?"

Ash doesn't even need to look to know it's his wife. "Need some." He sips out of his beer.

Misty sits next to him on the steps. Looking up at the night sky while Ash still has his eyes on the ground, Misty says, "She seemed pretty pissed." He nods. "How're you feeling?"

After Serena had left, Misty figured Ash would come by. When he still didn't show, she went looking for him. Not finding him anywhere inside, she decided to look back outside. Seeing his head hanging low as well as the two already empty bottles beside him, Misty can tell he's hurting.

"Like shit." Ash chuckles and downs the last of his third beer. He reaches for the last one in the case, but Misty's hand on his stops him. "Sorry. I drank it all." Ash removes his hand. "You can have the last one. I'll buy Daisy a new pack."

"Nah." Right now, Ash needs a sober hand. "But you've had enough."

"I'm just buzzin'."

She shivers. "You know I hate bug Pokemon. Don't make any bug references."

This brings a small smile to Ash's lips. Despite her shiver being from his statement, he takes off his jacket to drape around her light shoulders. It is a chilly night, though the alcohol keeps his body warm. Plus, her wet hair signals to him that she was swimming. It's something Misty does when she's nervous. Was she worried about him? His heart tightens more.

Misty finds herself leaning her head against the side of his shoulder. She's happy to see he's looking up at the stars now too. The awkwardness is still here, though they seem to be pushing through it like they always do. "Remember all those times when we'd be in danger, and if I couldn't keep up, you always stayed behind to make sure I wasn't left?" Of course, this started happening a lot more after she had Togepi in her arms. It's hard running carefully when she can't freely swing her arms to help balance her.

"Yeah." He chuckles nostalgically.

"You've always selflessly put yourself in danger for us. Me, Brock, Tracey. All of your friends." Misty turns her attention onto the man still looking at the sky. "Stop blaming yourself for whatever it is." She still doesn't know what's hurting him, and she won't pry. Misty is content with never knowing.

After a few seconds, Ash mutters, "Thanks, Misty, but it's not gonna work."

"What isn't?"

"You trying to cheer me up." He gazes down at her soft cerulean eyes. "It's never gonna work." No words can ever take away the pain he feels every day from the loss of his child. From his failure as a man.

"Worth a shot though, right?" Misty grins, which makes Ash's heart feel not as heavy.

"Today's July 22nd."

"Yesterday was. It's almost 1AM." Misty tells him.

Ash gives her a small fake smile. He wasn't sure if she planned the event on the 22nd for him to be distracted. However, now, he knows she really had no idea. She forgot. "Yeah."

Misty curiously watches Ash resume looking up at the sky. Why did he bring up yesterday's date? To remind her of the event that has long ended? While she rests her head back on his shoulder, she tries to think of how to console him. Is it enough to just be by his side? According to Serena, that's not it. Mew. Misty hates how that woman's words are ringing in her ears. Something about Ash bottling things up?

"Why?"

"Hm?" Ash glances down to meet Misty's stern cerulean blue eyes.

"Why are you talking about July 22nd?"

"No reason." Ash shrugs.

"Stop lying."

"I'm not."

"Pikachu." Misty looks past Ash at the mouse. "Do you know why?"

"Chu…" Pikachu wants no part in this quarrel.

Sighing, Ash figures it doesn't matter anymore. It obviously doesn't if he's not relapsing after her visit on their date. "That's my anniversary with Serena. And our breakup." Wow. He hasn't said her name in so long, it still feels weird. He had said it a few times when arguing with Serena, but talking about her to Misty is something else. Ash used to always shy away from his ex.

Misty claps a hand over her mouth as she gasps. No. She feels like such a terrible friend. How could she forget? "I totally forgot, Ash! I'm so sorry!"

Quickly shaking his head, he gently grabs her soft hands away from her mouth. "It's okay, Mist. I like the distraction." Plus, he didn't want her tiptoeing around him like everyone else does on the 22nd.

"But-"

"It's okay." Ash reassures her with a smile. "I actually like that you forgot. Makes me feel more normal."

Relaxing from his words, she studies his kind face. She should be consoling him. Not the other way around. "Ash… Please tell me how you feel."

His brows furrow because that's something he just argued about with his ex. Misty did say she saw Serena. Did Serena say anything to Misty? Does Misty know about the miscarriage? "Did Serena say something to you?"

"Not much." Admits the woman. "Just that you bottle your feelings in." Silence. Misty's nervousness returns as Ash gazes into her eyes. What's with that look. That look of defeat?

He can only think about the past hour. Although he blames Serena for the breakup, Ash knows he played a part. He pushed her away as much as she did him. He kept his feelings in, and she felt insecure. Mew. Ash isn't completely over her because she's right. He doesn't have closure. His lack of forgiveness, not on her, but on himself is the reason he will never move one, and this is unfair to the woman he does love.

Resting his forehead on hers, Ash knows he's going to regret his words. However, he loves Misty too much to drag her down with him. To hurt her too the way he hurt Serena. Ash won't let it get to that point. "I'm using you, Mist."

"What do you mean?" Misty curiously looks into his troubled brown orbs.

"Your affection. The kisses. The cuddles. The sex." Both of them blush, though he continues, "It's to help me cope through my pain. It's selfish, and I'm sorry."

"Pikapi!" Pikachu knows that isn't true. What is Ash doing? When Pikachu got outside, he was relieved to see Ash, even if Ash was drinking alcohol. The two didn't speak much, though Ash was scratching Pikachu behind the ears.

Is that it? Misty's lips fall into a frown. He's been using her? She actually likes him. Like genuinely likes him. "You don't mean that...do you?"

Ash shrugs. "I'm not sure, but it's the fact that I'm not sure, Misty. You deserve someone who's sure of you."

"Maybe you're just confused because Serena came?" Insists Misty as her heart sinks more.

Chuckling sadly as his eyes gloss over, he whispers, "Actually, my mind hasn't been clearer. This whole closure thing made me realize I can't keep using you."

Why? Misty won't let him try to end things like this. "Ash-"

"Please just let me go. It'll hurt us both less." he chokes out. Ash hates seeing her frown, but he knows he'll hate it more when he hurts her later on. The fact that he hasn't fully moved on from Serena indicates to him that he doesn't deserve Misty. Things are going great right now, but how long will it last? How much will it hurt them both when their relationship ends once she realizes he's using her as a rebound? That he still hasn't moved on from his cheating ex?

"I don't want to." Serena did say the lack of honesty is what broke up her and Ash. As much as Misty likes keeping her feelings bottled up, she doesn't want to lose the man she loves. She'll put her whole heart out there. "I wanna be with you forever, Ash. We love each other. I love you."

And his heart is tearing apart because he's once again reminded that he doesn't deserve Misty. Ash is scared of hurting her worse than he will now. Seeing Serena only reminds him of the downfalls of relationships. Ash knows he isn't completely over Serena, so he definitely shouldn't be with Misty. "I love you too, but I'm not sure if I love you or if I love being with you. I'm scared that I'm only using you."

"Then use me! Because I know your feelings are true too, Ash. I'll make you realize it!"

She's too selfless. Ash hates it. He's running away from his problems, and he knows it. However, Misty doesn't deserve to suffer through his issues. "I can't be with you anymore. I'm sorry."

"So what now?" Misty scoots away from him. "You show up and make me love you more than I can ever imagine, and now you leave? You're leaving me again, Ash!"

"I'm so sorry, Mist."

"Don't call me that!" Snaps the hurt woman. Misty wants to blame Serena for all of this, though Ash is the one at fault. He's the one who hasn't dealt with his own qualms, and now they've finally caught up to him. This is exactly what Serena was telling Misty about.

"I just need time to myself. I need to focus and move on past everything."

"Don't come back." Misty snarls. She's tired of waiting for him. From 5 years to 12. Misty doubts she'll ever see him again, and she doesn't want to see him. He always does this. Make her feel warm and fluffy. Happy. Excited about him only to leave her for who knows how long. She won't fall for it a third time.

"I still love you. I just need some time-"

"How much time? Every time you leave, it's for longer than we expect."

"That's not it."

"Really? 5 years, Ash? 12? How about never?"

The man shuts his mouth because she's right. He has a terrible track record when it comes to keeping in touch, especially with her. Although he wants to convince Misty that he's changed, he isn't so sure himself. How long will it take him to heal? With his shoulders slumping in defeat as Pikachu watches the two break their own hearts, Ash asks, "So how do we go on from here?"

"Divorce." Misty takes off his jacket to rest between them. She wants nothing to do with him right now, but she won't let him see her tears.

Prior to dating, their plan was to get divorced about a year after getting married. Next month marks that date. "Next month?"

"No. Tomorrow. When the courthouse opens. We can fill out the paperwork in the morning." She coldly replies. "And I don't wanna see you again."

"That's it?" Ash angrily asks before she opens the door. He expected more of a fight from her. Why isn't she fighting? Fighting for her? For him? For them? It infuriates Ash because it reminds him of his breakup with Serena. Is he that insignificant that women can just easily leave him?

"What do you want me to say, Ash?" Misty glares at him. "No. Let's stay fake married when we're both miserable? We always planned on this divorce, so let's just do it already." He's the one who kept insisting on the break up. What is his game? Now he's wanting her to fight more?

"We can still be friends."

"We've fucked. Friends don't fuck." She wants him gone so that she can finally cry over him one last time. This whole summer, she's been tormenting herself over the idea of their relationship once he starts traveling again. Now, she doesn't need to worry about that, though she did come to terms with it earlier today. Ash Ketchum can make his own decisions, and it seems like he already did that long before Misty joined him out here.

Once Misty is inside, Ash grabs the last beer to down. Today is a shitty day. He relived a breakup and he caused a new one. This sucks, but he was always meant to be alone. Life is a lot simpler this way. It's why he lost his child. He never deserved to be with others. Ash angrily throws the empty beer bottle against the fence, shattering it to pieces. He throws the other three bottles. After calming down, he drunkenly stumbles over to clean the mess because he shouldn't be making Misty's life any more difficult than he already has.

"Pikapi!" Pikachu scolds his drunk trainer.

"I don't wanna hear it." grumbles Ash. "Go check on Misty, will ya? I obviously can't be by her side."

Making sure Ash is okay, Pikachu shakes his head in disappointment. If this breakup holds, he doubts he'll see Misty again. Pikachu loves Misty. Thus, the mouse runs inside in search of her. He'll console her and hug her one more time. All because his trainer is being a dumbass blinded by painful emotions from the past.

Ash chuckles sadly. That's how all of this started. Because he didn't want to make Misty's life more difficult after he forced this marriage on her. He continues making her life difficult for her, and she takes it. "Shit!" He quickly pulls his hand back to notice the large cut on it. It's what he gets. Sucking the cut, he uses his other hand to try and gently put the glass into the cardboard box. Yeah. He deserves all of this shit. Not her. He doesn't deserve her.


Lmaooo. Someone said not to break them up. Like y'all saw this coming. It's cliche, I know. But cliches work. That's why they're 'cliches'.

Life is busy. It's summer and everyone wants to get married. I'll see ya when I see ya.

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. Prologue 3335 0 0 2. Chapter 1 3889 0 0 3. Chapter 2 5728 0 0 4. Chapter 3 6858 0 0 5. Chapter 4 7312 0 0 6. Chapter 5 8640 0 0 7. Chapter 6 9818 0 0 8. Chapter 7 19153 0 0 9. Chapter 8 16786 0 0 10. Chapter 9 13286 0 0 11. Chapter 10 15358 0 0 12. Chapter 11 19491 0 0 13. Chapter 12 16349 0 0 14. Chapter 13 11771 0 0 15. Chapter 14 20732 0 0 16. Chapter 15 (Part 1) 17389 0 0 17. Chapter 15 (Part 2) 11842 0 0 18. Chapter 16 16313 0 0 19. Chapter 17 14979 0 0 20. Chapter 18 14493 0 0 21. Chapter 19 13362 0 0 22. Chapter 20 19263 0 0 23. Chapter 21 19779 0 0