It was already late afternoon when May arrived at the Lake Valor. The water softly shimmered in the last rays of sunlight and her hair was gently blowing in the wind.
The young woman had been traveling a lot in the past three years and she had met a lot of new people and Pokémon- even caught herself a few, but she always ended up missing the stage.
Dawn, who has become one of her closest friends, suggested May to travel the Sinnoh region and participate in the Grand Festival.
The two coordinators couldn't always travel and enter contests together, since both of them needed to have five ribbons at the end of the season, but they had crossed paths from time to time.
May took her time arriving at the giant building.
She had been alone for a long time, but as much as she loved a cheering crowd or being with people who had the same goals and interests as her, she still enjoyed every single moment of peace and silence she had. But that moment didn't last so long.
The brunette girl from Hoenn got spotted by Dawn.
"You're late! The party has already started!"
May smiled apologetically, although it never was her intention to attend the whole party.
"Hey Dawn. How are you?"
"I'm good. A little nervous, but so excited! Though I've done this a million times before and I actually participated in Sinnoh's Grand Festival once already, it still gets me!"
The blue-haired girl smiled brightly, and even though May wasn't in the best mood, she couldn't help but to smile back.
"It's good to see you, Dawn."
Dawn took her by the hand. "I missed you. Now come on in."
May looked at the peaceful lake longingly for the last time before they entered the giant building and it became noisy and a little muggy.
She instantly spotted Harley with his eye-catching hair and outfit and surprisingly, Gary was there, too. She had heard a lot about him from Ash on their journey.
The moment she thought of him, he actually appeared unexpectedly.
"I thought you couldn't manage to come here!" May said in surprise.
"Well, you were wrong." Ash put on his typical, innocent smirk.
"I thought it would help both of us to perform even better with Ash's support, so we had a last-minute change of plans."
"Dawn can be very insistent," Ash admitted and they all laughed.
"I'm glad you're here."
"Me too. I also saw Drew some minutes ago. You might wanna say hi. I mean, he's your biggest rival after all."
Her smile instantly faded and her heart felt weirdly cold and sore for a moment.
For the past 3 years, she had tried really hard to deal with his absence and to see him now would probably remove all her progress- if she even made some.
She didn't feel like risking it, although she always kind of knew in the back of her mind that he could possibly be at the Grand Festival, too. I mean, he was good- it was hard to imagine he wouldn't be able to collect all five badges.
Somehow she wanted to see him and all along she has told herself this desire came from actually wanting to tell him what an asshole he was.
"Are you okay?"
May's thoughts were interrupted by Dawn's worried voice.
"Eh, sure thing."
She attempted to smile but she felt like it didn't look so authentic.
'He hasn't shown up at any contest I've been to, although he travelled the same region. I even told Nurse Joy a few times to leave him a message from me, if he stopped by another time but I got nothing. It was almost like he avoided me. This can't be coincidence at some point...'
The feeling of disappointment and unrequited longing took over again and it made May deeply sad. It suddenly became hard to breathe.
'He didn't want to see me.'
"The atmosphere in here is almost a little... overwhelming," she said with a hoarse voice.
"But you've only been here for a few minutes?" Dawn replied a little confused.
"I think it's because I haven't been to a Festival in so long. I have to get used to it again. Excuse me for a second."
May quickly went to the bathroom. And although a part of her hated Drew and was afraid of seeing him again, she caught herself looking for him on her way there. But she couldn't spot him. She sighed.
It was way quieter in the bathroom.
May looked at herself in the mirror, trying to catch a break from the emotions that just got to her like an avalanche. Her styling was way different now than from when she started her journey. She didn't continue cutting her hair, so now it fell straight to her chest. Her clothes were plain, she wore a red top and black jeans. She also removed her hair-ribbon.
The bag with her Pokéballs was always with her. In her opinion, the only thing memorable about her appearance were her aquamarine eyes.
'Do I look pretty? What could he think?' May sighed again. 'Whatever, though. Why would I care.'
She took a deep breath before she entered the hall again.
"Princess of Hoenn!"
May didn't know that voice.
"Hm?" She turned around, into the direction it came from. It was Gary.
"Hey... You're a friend of Ash, right?"
"Yup. His oldest rival, too. Gary Oak." They shook hands.
"I've heard a lot about you and you've been on TV a few times as well. It's nice to finally meet you. I like that title of yours."
She smiled a little hesitantly. She has always kind of considered that title as childish.
"As you can see I don't really look princess-like so I don't know."
"I think you look perfectly pretty."
Gary smiled at her. It was such a friendly smile and he sounded simply honest and free from any shady intentions- it seemed so unlikely that he was said to be arrogant and partly even mean. May blushed.
"So what brings you here?" she changed the topic quickly.
"Well, I've never been so much into performances and all that stuff before but I think that maybe they could actually inspire me to develop and discover different ways of training. And I wanted to battle Ash again," he added.
They looked at each other in silence for a moment.
'He seems so nice and likeable, why do people always only point out someone's worst sides?'
May looked around. There were a lot of new faces.
She thought she had gotten to know a lot of coordinators already from all her journeys and competitions she had participated in but this were way more new people than she had imagined- and she felt like it was going to be a long night.
Once again her thoughts got interrupted and this time, she recognised the voice it came from instantly. Just for a second, everything around her seemed to disappear somehow and it felt like her heart froze.
She turned around and there he was. Standing right in front of her.
She didn't respond directly. She just stared at him, overwhelmed by the situation.
He was way taller than when they last met, but he still carried that half arrogant-half sexy smirk with him that looked so familiar. May felt even smaller than she usually did in his presence.
"Drew," she stated the obvious.
He pushed aside some hair from his forehead. A well-known gesture of his.
“Long time no see, huh?”
'You don't say.'
"I think I will go now. Let's talk again some other time." He winked at her.
She briefly smiled at Ash's rival, unable to respond.
Drew raised his eyebrow, then looked at May.
To have his eyes on her made her uncomfortable. She always felt like he could read her mind like that.
"So?" she asked him.
He didn't seem to get why she looked at him with anticipation so intensively.
She tilted her head a little.
'So I guess he has no idea what I'm expecting from him at all. Maybe it's not the right time for an explanation yet...'
"Nothing. I just didn't expect you to be here."
He raised an eyebrow. "Well, why not?"
'How dumb can one be?'
"Because I didn't see you at a single contest that I entered in Sinnoh maybe?"
Drew averted his gaze from her and kept silent.
She has sounded a little aggressive, so she tried to pull herself together again and added a little more gently:
"I just kind of ho- I thought I would see you there, that's all."
His facial expression remained unchanged and told May that this wasn't new to him. He then shrugged his shoulders.
"Well I guess we were just really unlucky."
He then put on his typical drew-ish smirk like nothing in the world could ever bring him down.
"Well, I am going to grab a drink", May excused herself and smiled politely.
She turned away and headed to the bar. It's only been a short moment with him and she already felt sick of it. It annoyed her that he was capable of acting like they've never been apart when she was struggling so much with seeing him again.
"Hey, wait a minute. Don't just leave me here," he laughed but she didn't stop walking.
May received her drink quickly and finished it just as quickly. Drew looked at her amusedly, but also a little confused.
"Did you know Solidad is here, too?" Drew started a conversation again.
May liked the rose-haired woman a lot, she always seemed to be so wise.
"She's already won a Grand Festival once though, why would she participate again? Actually, why would you participate again? You won the festival of the Johto-region." (Yes, I made that up. xD)
"Yeah... practice, I see." May whispered and remembered the Festival in Kanto.
Her loss against Solidad wasn't easy to handle for her at all... actually she had never been so down before.
She looked at Drew. He had helped her feel better back then and he was... really kind, actually. She didn't understand why he suddenly stopped being in touch with her.
May didn't even really mind at first.
Back then, she was so young and innocent and yes, she has developed feelings for him throughout the years, even though she had never really thought about them intensively, but they had never been this hurtful.
She never knew that kind of pain before. She has always appreciated him as a rival and friend and she still did but... something has changed. She has started feeling incomplete without him at some point and she didn't simply look forward to seeing him again as she used to, no, she felt like she desperately needed to.
There were times when she felt like nothing and no one could make her feel better but him. He was so special to May but in the end, she felt like he abandoned her, somehow.
He used to send her letters, sometimes even roses and it made her so happy.
It kept her wanting to get stronger, he was the only challenge that May would maybe never master if she didn't keep on going.
He was a part of her and then he left.
Drew suddenly returned May's look and she immediately looked down. She quietly sighed.
In that moment, the top-coordinator they just talked about joined the two old... friends.
"May, Drew! How good to see you!"
"Hey, Solidad. It's good to see you too," Drew replied and put on his most charming smile.
"First round tomorrow, huh? Which Pokémon are you going to use?"
"I think I will go with Absol. What about you, May?"
On her way to Valor Lake, she has had enough time to think about that.
"I chose Blaziken."
"That's a good and safe choice. I will go with Lapras again."
They kept talking for a while, until May got kind of exhausted. It always kind of strained her to be with so many people at one spot.
"I will go to bed I think. Need to save some strength for tomorrow."
Solidad and Drew agreed with her and wished her a Goodnight. May took a leave and went to her room upstairs after getting the key at the reception.
She took a shower, got into her pyjamas and freed her Pokémon from their Pokéballs. She always did that. She wanted to give them as much freedom as possible.
In her current team were Blaziken, Blastoise, Beautifly, Glaceon and her two Ninetales.
The bed was really big, so at least four of them could take place there. And for the water Pokémon, every coordinator room actually had a Pool.
It was a great luxury which she appreciated a lot.
May lied down and closed her eyes.
It has been a really eventful day and there were a lot of things to deal with. All the hurt she tried to push away throughout the day always reached her at night and although the wounds she had because of Drew would never heal just like that, it felt like they got ripped open a little bit more again, because she just saw him again.
Of course she tried to pull herself together somehow, but she didn't know if she could keep that up for so long. Quietly sobbing and comforted by her Pokémon she fell asleep.