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EVERYONE: Where Fate Leads

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Where does fate lead Ash as he continues his journey? Set right after the anime ending [Advanceshipping]


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May 29, 2023
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This is my first story so please go easy. I apologize in advance for any grammar and spelling mistakes I might have missed. I also know some paragraphs are much longer compared to others but with how I wanted to space out the story, I did it this way.

This story was inspired by a tweet from MayfromHoenn7.
"Fun fact Ash & May now have the same goals. "Travel the world & meet new Pokémon." Ash realized that was his goal at the end of his final episode."

Ash: 21
May: 19

Where Fate Leads

Ash and Pikachu sprinted down the road the stick pointed them to, smiling and laughing all the way.

They eventually slowed to a brisk walk, with Pikachu reclaiming his place on Ash's shoulder.

They walked for a long while, stopping to sleep whenever darkness fell. If he had to guess, Ash would say they have been on the road for a few days now. The duo reached the top of a hill to see Vermillion City in all its glory. Ash simply shrugged; he made his way down the hill and into the city. After getting his Pokémon checked out by Nurse Joy, Ash walked aimlessly through the city, occasionally stopping to sign autographs or take pictures with fans. Although he was asked to battle a few times, the young champion politely declined. He did not want to have to go back to the Pokémon Center so soon. Whether it was by accident or subconsciously, Ash didn't know, but he eventually stumbled into a clear, open area. The ocean was splayed out in front of him. A massive cruise ship along with a few smaller vessels sat in their berths nearby.

"The port?" Ash smiled. "Alright then, where should we go Pikachu?" The mouse Pokémon looked around. He caught sight of a merchandise stand, selling all kinds of toys and trinkets. One in particular, caught his eye.

"Pi!" He jumped off Ash's shoulder and ran towards it. "Hey Pikachu! Wait up!" Ash chased after his starter. Finally, the Pokémon stopped in front of the stand. He pointed at a plushie depicting a certain blue, mythical Pokémon. "Pika!" Ash stopped and smiled, letting the memories flow through him. "You want that plushie, Pikachu?" Pikachu almost facepalmed. He pointed at the plushie again. "Pika!" The Pokémon got up on his tiptoes, doing a little twirl. "Piiii pikaaa!" "Hey, that kind of looks like May's "take the stage" intro. Pikachu brightened. "Pika!" He pointed at the plushie with one paw. "May." "Pi."Pikachu nodded. He pointed at Ash with the other paw before holding the two side by side. Ash's cheeks tinged slightly red. "Me and May together? The Pokémon shook his head. He again held his two paws side by side. "May and I, equal?" "Pika!" Pikachu nodded enthusiastically. "Equal? Pikachu, what are you talking abou—? Wait…"

Ash's mind raced. All the way back to when he and May first met. Their dreams. May's dream. What was it she said her dream was? To see the world and meet new people and Pokémon. That was his dream too! That's what Pikachu meant! He smiled at his starter. "Thanks Pikachu, I get it now." His Pokémon squealed with delight, happy his trainer understood what he was trying to say. Ash looked at the plushie again. He got the attention of the stand's owner. "Excuse me sir, how much for this?" The man smiled, recognizing Ash immediately. "Twenty Pokédollars Mr. Ketchum; but I'd be willing to knock it down to ten if I could get an autograph for my kid and a picture to hang up here. It's not everyday the world champion visits your stand." Ash smiled widely. "No problem! Could I also get an envelope and a gift bag for it?" "Of course, my boy." The trainer paid and happily obliged with the man's request."

Ash then entered the port terminal, finding the nearest video phone. Like all his old traveling companions, he knew the number by heart.

The phone rang a few times before Norman Maple appeared on the screen. "Maple Resid— Ash! What a pleasant surprise!" Hearing the commotion, May's mother swiftly appeared beside her husband. "Ash! It's wonderful to see you! Congratulations on winning the World Championship!" Ash smiled. "Thank you Mr and Mrs Maple." The matriarch of the Maple family shook her head. "Ash, how many times have we told you to call us Norman and Caroline?" "I'm sorry, it's just that it's been a while since I've talked to you guys, I wanted to be polite." The Maples smiled at Ash's manners. "We appreciate that Ash but there is really no need. You are practically family to us. That includes Brock too, don't let him forget that." Ash shook his head. "I won't." "So how can we help you, Ash?" Norman inquired. "Right, I wanted to ask if you happened to know where May was. I know the Grand Festival recently finished but I didn't know whether she was going straight back to Petalburg or not. You see, I wanted to ask her something and was hoping I would be able to stop by and see her in person." May's mother smiled. "Ash, we would love for you to visit! May is actually here, I can go get her for you." Ash shook his head. "No thank you Caroline, I was actually thinking of surprising her. That's why I didn't call her cellphone." Norman and Caroline shared a look before smiling at the trainer. "I'm sure she would absolutely love that, Ash."

And that is how Ash found himself standing in front of the Maple residence, a few days later.

He had boarded the next ferry to Hoenn and once arriving, walked the same route he and May had taken to Petalburg all those years ago. The door opened only moments after he rang the bell. Norman and Caroline stood in the doorway. "Ash! It's so good to see you again!" Caroline gave him a hug almost as tight as his mother's while Norman simply shook the trainer's hand. "Thank you Norman and Caroline, it's awesome to see you guys too!" "It's already noon, have you eaten at all, Ash?" Caroline asked politely. Ash sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. "I had breakfast but I haven't had the opportunity to eat lunch yet." "Well, you're in luck, I've just started preparing some beef and vegetable stew. You are more than welcome to stay and eat with us." Ash smiled brightly. "Really? Thank you so much Caroline, I really appreciate it." The Maples ushered him inside. "So, is Max here too?" Norman shook his head. "No, unfortunately. He left on his journey not too long ago. Picked a Treecko, just like he said he would. He wants him to be as strong as your Sceptile someday." Ash smiled, clenching his fist in determination. "That's awesome! I can't wait to battle him next time we meet!" Norman chuckled. He was happy to see that even as a young adult, Ash, like his daughter, had not lost one bit of his enthusiasm. "Well, I have to go close up the gym real quick. Don't want a challenger coming in while we are in the middle of lunch. May's in the greenhouse, I'm sure you remember the way." Ash nodded. "I do Norman, thank you." The man acknowledged Ash's thanks before disappearing through the doorway leading to the gym.

Ash made his way through the residence and into the vast greenhouse. He took a deep breath of the fresh air; it was just like he was outside! He then caught sight of a familiar brunette. She wore the same outfit she had when he last saw her in Sinnoh, but the orange vest was replaced with a blue one; she had also gone back to her original yellow fanny pack.

Sinnoh. The Wallace Cup. The last time they saw each other in person. Ash's smile faded slightly with guilt. He really had to start visiting his friends more often instead of the other way around. Still, he was immensely happy that he managed to stay in consistent contact with everyone. He quickly put those thoughts aside for now.

Pikachu jumped from his perch on Ash's shoulder and ran toward the girl. May jumped slightly as she felt something climb up her arm and onto her shoulder. "Pika Pika!" The mouse squeaked as he rubbed his head on her cheek. May immediately knew which Pokémon it was. "Pikachu?! What on Earth are you doing here?!" She picked the mouse up off her shoulder, hugging him close. "Chaaa!" Pikachu sighed contently. Ash looked on with a smile, gently placing his backpack on the ground beside him. "He's here because I'm here!" The girl turned around as Pikachu jumped to the ground, darting back to his trainer. "Hey May! Long time no see!"

The girl's face lit up and she gave him a smile that caused his heart to skip a beat. "Woah, what was that?" He thought to himself. "Ash!" May quickly closed the gap between them and threw her arms around him. "Congratulations! You have no idea how proud of you I am!" Ash hugged her back. "Thanks May." "You and your Pokémon were amazing!" "You were watching? I thought you and Serena had the Grand Festival." May nodded. "We did but they were showing your battle on the screens backstage, everyone there was watching." May turned a barely noticeable shade of red. "Me and Serena started crying when you won. Everyone was staring at us, it was kind of embarrassing." "Don't worry, I actually know how you feel." May looked confused. "After my match, Dawn and I stayed in Galar so we could watch you in the final. I got kind of emotional watching you, Miss Grand Festival winner!" May laughed as her mentor gave her a playful shove, she gave him a light punch on the shoulder in return.

"But seriously May, it really means a lot that you guys were able to watch." May smiled sweetly. "Of course, Ash. We wouldn't have missed it for the World."

Ash then realized something. "Now that I think about it, wasn't Serena with you?" The brunette nodded. "She caught a flight back to Kalos a few days ago. She should be in or on her way to Sinnoh by now." Serena, like May, had decided to try doing both contests and performances. "Doesn't slow down does she?" May gave him a funny look. "Don't pretend that we didn't all get this 'not waiting around' stuff from you. You're kind of a bad influence on that front, you know." "I'll have you know, I waited about two weeks before leaving home this time." May snorted. "Oh good. You waited a whole two weeks, that makes it so much better. You know, I think that's actually a record from you." The two shared a laugh.

"So what are you doing here, Ash? Do you have a tournament in Hoenn or something?" Ash shook his head. "No, I actually came to ask you something." The girl nodded expectantly. "I figured it out, May." His voice was low and soft. "Figured out what, Ash?" "I found out what it means to be a Pokémon master. What I have to do to achieve my dream." The brunette's face twisted in confusion. "You didn't achieve it when you became champion?" Ash recounted his conversation with Gary and how it had left him thinking what being a Pokémon Master truly meant. "I figured it out. The meaning of being a Pokémon Master is to befriend every kind of Pokémon. To travel the world, building friendships with as many people and Pokémon as possible." May gasped. "Wait… but that's my dream." Ash nodded enthusiastically. May started to smile as she began to understand his meaning. "Does that mean we have the same dream?" "I guess so, yeah!" May giggled with enthusiasm, accepting the high five Ash offered her. "That's so cool! Best friends and future Pokémon Masters!"

Ash scratched the back of his head, feeling just a tad nervous. "I figured since we have the same dream, maybe we could try and achieve it together." He smiled. "So, what do you say, May? Do you want to achieve our dream together? Do you want to travel with me again?" May could cry. She badly missed traveling with her best friend. "Oh Ash, I'd love that!" Her face suddenly fell. "But what about next time you get called by Professor Cerise? What if there is a region that doesn't have a league or Grand Festival?" Even though they haven't seen each other in person for a long while, Ash and May still spoke regularly through text, video calls, and phone calls. She, like his other traveling companions, knew all about his research fellowship. Ash considered this for a moment. "Well, I could ask Professor Cerise to make you a research fellow too if you want. It could help you work towards your dream. If not, you could always just come with me on assignments. What we research isn't exactly a secret." May hummed in thought. "I think I'll pass on being a research fellow but I appreciate the offer. If nothing else, I could probably help record your assignments for the professor. I think it's about time I replaced this camera with a real one." She made the shape of a camera with her fingers and brought it up to her face, pretending to snap a picture of the trainer in front of her. The pair laughed. "That's a good idea May, I like it." Ash remarked. "As for battles and contests… I don't think it matters." May tilted her head quizzically. "What do you mean, Ash?"

"Our dream doesn't really require battling or contests, right? As long as we are meeting new people and Pokémon, our career paths shouldn't matter. My dream was never to be world champion. And while tournament winnings are nice, being the Alola and World Champions entitles me to a salary and royalties. Professor Cerise pays us per assignment too. I don't have to enter leagues if I don't want to." May nodded her head enthusiastically. "I agree, Ash. I get kind of the same thing being a Top Coordinator now, except that I'm still expected to enter a Grand Festival every now and then. But as long as I am getting closer to my dream, I don't care what career path I take."

The two smiled, allowing themselves to relax in each other's gaze. For a full minute, they were oblivious to their surroundings.

At least they were, until… "Pika-pi!" Ash looked down. "What is it, Pikachu?" The mouse Pokémon pointed to his backpack. "Oh, right! I almost forgot!" Ash dug into his backpack, removing the gift bag. He held it out to her. "Congratulations again on your win." May looked surprised but accepted the gift graciously. "Ash, you didn't have to do that." "Of course I did, May! You won a Grand Festival and became a Top Coordinator. Why wouldn't I get you anything?" "I didn't have a chance to get you anything yet, though."

Now the roles were reversed.

"May, you don't have to get me anything, seeing my friends succeed is enough for me."

"Yes I do, Ash. You taught me pretty much everything I know, of course I have to get you something." Ash let it go. He knew better than anyone that May was just as stubborn as he was, sometimes even more so, and that she was not going to be talked out of this. May could see right away that there were two objects in the bag. One was blue while the other was white. She made sure to open and read the card first, stopping only to smile at her friend in gratitude. When May pulled out the final object, she nearly dropped it and the gift bag onto the ground. As the life-sized stuffed Manaphy stared back at her, she couldn't help the tears starting to form. The rush of memories was just too much for her. Without letting the plushie go, she wrapped her free arm around Ash. The raven haired trainer hugged her back. "May, are you okay?" He felt the girl nod into his chest. He let May stay in that position as long as she wanted. Finally, she moved out of his arms but stayed close. "Sorry." Ash shook his head. "Don't even worry about it. So, do you want to go inside and decide where we want to go?" May nodded. "Ash, I…" Before Ash could react, May leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. With her face as red as her old top, she scurried inside, leaving him in the greenhouse.

Ash stood there for a long time, thinking. He may be dense, but he wasn't stupid either. He knew what a kiss meant. He knew what Serena was trying to tell him when she kissed him at the airport. At the time, he simply chose not to acknowledge it. While May's kiss, like Serena's, was only on the cheek, Ash could tell that May meant it in the same way.

His thoughts drifted back to the next time he and Serena saw each other in Hoenn. They didn't have time to catch up at the pier so they resolved to get on a video call the next day, considering how late it was. After a nice conversation, Ash got to the difficult part. He remembered how hard it was to explain to Serena that while he was flattered, he just couldn't return the feelings she had for him. Serena had been visibly saddened by this and didn't talk to Ash for days. Eventually though, she did call him back. It was a long and difficult conversation but Serena, obviously, had come to the conclusion that she would rather stay friends with Ash than not have him in her life at all. Their friendship was now stronger than ever.

But did he have those same feelings for May?

A gentle thunder shock from Pikachu snapped him out of it. He looked down at his concerned starter. "Thanks Pikachu but I'm fine. Just a lot of thoughts going through my head." Pikachu seemed to accept this and started to move deeper into the greenhouse. "You staying here, Pikachu?" The mouse nodded. "Pi!" He pointed towards May's Glaceon, who Ash had not realized was standing there. "Alright then." Ash moved towards the exit. "Try not to have too much fun though." "PIKA!"

Ash laughed as he dodged a thunderbolt fired in his direction before quickly disappearing inside the Maple residence. Pikachu muttered a few choice words before turning to look at Glaceon, who had a small smile on her face.

Ash found May sitting on the couch in the living room, a map of the world unfolded on the table in front of her. The Manaphy plushie was also on the table. Caroline was still in the kitchen, preparing the stew. May blushed as she saw him enter. As Ash sat beside her on the couch, May looked fondly at the stuffed toy. "Thank you so much, Ash. I love it." The trainer smiled. "I'm glad you like it but you should probably also thank Pikachu. He's the one that led me to the stand I got it from." May giggled. "I'll be sure to thank him later. So, where should we go?" Ash noticed that she seemed to not want to discuss what happened in the greenhouse just yet. Ash still wanted more time to think before having that conversation himself, so he readily obliged her unspoken request.

"Well, I've been to most of the regions already. I'd include Galar on the list but obviously, I wasn't competing in the league." May nodded. "I went to Sinnoh, Unova, and Kalos." Ash grimaced. He remembered how disappointed they both felt that they always seemed to end up going to the same places but at different times; chances missed to travel with each other again. It felt weird being close to your best friend yet still so far apart. "Of the other places you've been to, I haven't been to the Orange Islands or Alola… Alola especially looks amazing." Ash smiled. "It is. I'll be sure to take you there someday. It's like a second home to me and I want to introduce you to everyone." May smiled back. "Okay, so as far as new places go, there's the Sevii Islands, Galar, Paldea, and Orre."

"May I suggest the Paldea region." Ash and May turned to see Norman standing in the doorway. He had just finished closing the gym and had come back inside the house. May's eyes lit up. "I've always wanted to go to Paldea! The lakes there look incredible!" May turned to the trainer beside her. "Do you know anything about the region, Ash?" Ash shook his head. "Not really. All I know about Paldea is that it's mostly rural and that they have a league." Norman nodded. "You'll have to be ready, it was a tough one when I went. Probably even tougher now." "They're supposed to have great restaurants too," May commented. "Something called Iberian style." Ash had stars in his eyes. "A strong league and good food?! I am so psyched!"

May's face fell, however. "I don't think they have contests though." Ash's face also fell, but in sympathy. Although they had both achieved their initial goals of World Champion and Top Coordinator, and were prepared to put a temporary pause on battles and contests, neither of them thought they would have to do that so soon. Only Norman and Caroline seemed unphased; they were actually smiling. "I wouldn't be so sure about that May," said Caroline. The mother opened a drawer before taking out what looked to be a newspaper. She handed it to Norman, who handed it to May. "I'm sure you know I normally throw the newspapers out once I've read them, but I thought you would find this interesting too." On the front page was a picture of Mr. Contesta, the chief of the Pokémon Activities Committee, a Paldean Nurse Joy, and a man in a suit, who they assumed to be a Paldean government official. The headline read, 'PAC Reaches Agreement With Paldean Government To Form Contest Circuit In The Region!' May instantly perked up. "Paldea has contests?!" The brunette squealed with joy, hugging the newspaper to her chest. Ash could only smile; he too was very happy with this development. He had always hated to see May upset.

With their destination decided, all that was left to do was book their flights. Ash and May both decided to wait a while before setting out on another adventure, so they booked their flight a week in advance.

Ash stayed with the Maples for the next week, sleeping in their guest room. He and May passed the time by planning their trip, as well as training and hanging out with their Pokémon. They also hung out without them. May gave Ash a full tour of her hometown, something they didn't get to do when they first met. They went to the park, the movies, even to a fair! It was nice. Being on the road so often, Ash and May never had a lot of time to truly relax and enjoy themselves with something that didn't involve Pokémon. Ash also used this time to think about what he felt towards his best friend. On the outside, May seemed to have forgotten all about what transpired in the greenhouse, but Ash knew better. He knew she was stealing occasional glances. He knew because he was doing the same. More than once, they would catch each other's gaze and simply smile. It wasn't until the night before they were due to leave that Ash had his answer.

He thought back to the time he had reunited with Wallace in Hoenn. The contest master ended up having to mention May and Dawn to get Ash to remember him, much to the man's annoyance.

That night, while everyone else was asleep, Ash had sat on the deck of the boat, looking at the stars; thinking. He thought about his brief reunion with Serena, but he also thought of May. It was a period of time where Ash and Goh were on a tear, running from place to place. The fast-paced traveling had forced Ash to briefly stop staying in contact with his friends, he was that busy. Yet for some reason, on the deck of that boat, all he could think about was May. How guilty he felt not having the time to call. After pulling out the ribbon he shared with her, he had held it up to the sky, watching it glisten in the moonlight. He then pulled out his phone and called her cell. He knew it was well past midnight back in Hoenn, but he didn't care. "Alright, who do you think you are calling this late?!" May was so annoyed that someone dared to wake her up, she hadn't bothered to check the caller ID. "Hey May, sorry for waking you. It's been a while." "Ash?"




The trainer slowly opened his eyes. "Huh?"

He realized he was still in the Maple's guest room. May was gently trying to shake him awake. She removed her hand from Ash's shoulder as he sat up. "Oh, good morning May." As he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, he took in her appearance. She had her black shorts and a white tank top on but was missing her vest and fanny pack. She gave him a soft smile. "Good morning, Ash. You have to get up, if we don't start getting ready now, we won't have time for breakfast before we have to go to the airport." Sensing the urgency, Ash slid out of bed. "I still have to prepare a few things but come downstairs when you're ready." As May stepped out of the room, Ash grabbed a change of clothes before slipping into the bathroom. After a quick shower and making sure everything he needed was in his backpack, he made his way down the stairs.

He saw May looking over a new mini-backpack. It was yellow, matching the color of her fanny pack. Ash placed his luggage on the floor by the stairs, smiling as Pikachu jumped onto his shoulder. "New bag?" May turned and smiled at him. "Yeah. I could use the extra room for my clothes and Pokémon food. I never did thank Max for carrying my contest outfit in his backpack." Ash chortled. "Plus, this would never fit in my fanny pack." May opened the backpack to reveal the stuffed Manaphy Ash had gifted her, neatly tucked inside. Ash was surprised. "You're bringing it?" "Of course I am, Ash! This is one of the best gifts I've ever gotten! That, and I still miss him like crazy…" May's face fell slightly before she quickly regained her joyful attitude. "But I'm sure that we will meet again someday. I still have Jackie and Lizabeth's numbers. I'll drag them both with me if I have to! Nothing will stop me from finding Samiya and seeing Manaphy again." Ash made a fist. "That's the spirit, May!" Pikachu mimicked his trainer. "Pika Pika!"

"It's nice to see you kids so excited but save your energy for the walk to the airport." A voice called out. It was Caroline. "Now come get your breakfast."

After a large meal, Ash and May said goodbye to May's parents before beginning the trek to the airport. Ash was wearing a new hat. May had made good on her promise to get Ash a gift and had presented him with a new hat. One identical to his idol, Red. The first Pokémon Master and youngest ever World Champion at nineteen, beating Ash by two years. Although he retired from professional competition, the legendary trainer still made frequent appearances at tournaments as a spectator or representative for the PAC. Ash hoped he would have the chance to battle him someday. Considering Gary's uncle was friends with Red, he was sure he would get the chance, eventually.

Ash loved the gift and switched out his hats immediately. His mom would definitely understand. They boarded a bus headed downtown, which would take them closer to their destination. May was talking nonstop about how much fun they were going to have and all the things they were going to do in Paldea, barely stopping for breath. She didn't even realize they were at their stop until Ash tapped her on the shoulder. They hopped off.

"Sorry," May said sheepishly as the bus pulled away. Ash waved it off. "Nah, I like it." He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before walking ahead.

May froze.

Did Ash Ketchum, the boy who was as dense as a rock, just kiss her? She was snapped out of her trance by Ash. "Come on, May!" He called back to her. "If you keep being a slowpoke, we're going to miss the flight!" May stared for a moment before smiling widely. She ran to catch up with the raven haired trainer, grabbing his hand as she reached him. Her smile grew even bigger when Ash squeezed her hand back before starting to run, pulling her along with him. "Let's go!" The duo laughed in happiness and excitement as they ran hand-in-hand in the direction of the airport. Towards their next adventure.
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