When One Door Closes, Two More Open

On the first day of his journey with his rebellious starter, Ash befriends a Spearow and a Rattata. Ash is seriously injured by Pikachu after saving the young spearow from a Thunderbolt, but the Spearow, her flock, and the Rattata save his life. With not one but two new starters, a strange new ability to understand Pokémon, and a calmer and smarter attitude, a new journey begins.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10779528/1/When-One-Door-Closes-Two-More-Open

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18. Primeapes, Perfume, and Prejudice

The morning after their latest adventure at Lavender Town, Ash called Professor Oak, wanting to check on Ben and Scrappy. Professor Oak picked up the phone quickly.

"Ah, Ash, it's good to hear from you. I got your two new Pokémon last night." Professor Oak said cheerfully. "Your Gastly has given me a spot of trouble with wanting to battle everything that moves, but your Dusclops has kept him in line. That Dusclops has been such a help. He's been doing errands for me, helping with the baby Pokemon and keeping the less well behaved Pokémon in line."

"That's great." Ash said with a smile. He saw Ben in the background. "Hey, Ben!" he called and the Dusclops turned to see him, waved, and came over.

"Hi, Ash!" Ben greeted him happily.

"How are you doing? Are you having a good time with Professor Oak?" Ash asked.

Ben beamed. "I love it here! All the Pokémon are really friendly and there's so much to do!" The Dusclops continued to talk happily, telling Ash about the other Pokémon and all the things he had done.

Ash smiled. "I'm glad you're happy." he managed to say before a Gastly face suddenly appeared in front of the camera, making him jump.

"Hey, Ash, when am I going to meet that Ethan kid? It's boring here!" Scrappy complained.

"Oh yeah. Professor Oak, could you transfer Scrappy, the Gastly, to Professor Elm please? I caught him to be my cousin Ethan's starter and I want to surprise him on his birthday." Ash asked the professor. Scrappy was bouncing with excitement.

Professor Oak looked at the happily bouncing Gastly, amused. "Sure, I'll do it right away.". He frowned for a second. "What about your Dusclops? Is he going to your cousin or is he yours?"

"He's mine." Ash told him.

"Can he stay at the lab for a bit?" Professor Oak asked. "He's been such a help and during baby Pokémon season, I really need it. I'd also like a chance to study him if you don't mind. I've never gotten a chance to study a non native ghost type up close and in person."

Ash looked to Ben. "It's fine with me." Ben reassured him.

Ash looked to Professor Oak and nodded with a smile. "That's fine. He seems really happy there and he likes helping out a lot more than he likes battles." Professor Oak's eyebrows furrowed in confusion and Ash was worried he may have said too much.

"How'd you find that out?" Professor Oak asked curiously.

"I got to know him a bit before I captured him." Ash told him, which was definitely true, though a careful omission of the fact that he had learned that because Ben had told him.

Professor Oak noticed the slight nervous quaver in Ash's voice and wondered about it, but decided not to question it and nodded. "You're very observant when it comes to your Pokémon. Bill was telling me you seemed interested in Pokémon care and had a good touch with wild Pokémon. You might have the makings of a good researcher."

Ash smiled upon hearing this praise. "I'm studying up on Pokémon care and Brock is helping me as well. He's a really good breeder."

"I've heard." Professor Oak said, smiling. "He was a good gym leader, but being a Pokémon breeder is where he really shines. I've followed the Breeder's competitions and despite his youth, he's on par with breeders who are older and have more experience. You'll do well learning from him." Ash nodded with a smile. "So Ash, how many badges have you gotten? I haven't heard from you in a while."

"I got four badges. Just got Sabrina's badge a few days ago." Ash told him.

"Gary and your other rivals just got to Celadon City and got their fifth badge. You're doing well, but you are behind." Professor Oak told him.

"I had to do some extra training for the Saffron Gym." Ash told him. "I'll make sure to make the League with time to spare, but my team and I need to take time to train on our journey so we're strong enough for the gyms and the league. Plus, I don't think my feet can win in a race against Gary's sports car." he joked at the end.

Professor Oak laughed. "You have a point..." he started to say, but was cut off when a baby Growlithe puppy barged past him, nearly bowling the professor over as it played with what looked to be a small Eevee, though all Ash could see on screen was the big fluffy brown tail. Ben steadied Professor Oak before he could fall.

"Are you okay, Professor?" Ash asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine. The little ones have certainly been keeping things interest...Look out! My research papers!" Professor Oak cried out as the two baby Pokémon, jumping onto the professor's desk as they chased each other, knocked over a towering stack of papers, sending them flying all over the room, despite Ben trying to catch them.

"What a mess...Oh no, not my plant specimens!" Oak groaned as the two baby Pokémon, now wrestling with one another, knocked everything off his desk. "Sorry, Ash, I gotta go!" Ash caught a glimpse of Ben rushing over and gently pulling the baby Pokémon off Oak's desk before the screen went black.

"Looks like Ben came to the lab just in time." Ash murmured to himself as he hung up and headed back to his friends. He nearly collided with Judy, who was coming to get him.

"C'mon, Ash, Brock made his famous jelly doughnuts!" Judy told him.

Ash grinned. "Race you back!"

She smirked. "You're on!"

...

"Mmm, these doughnuts are great, Brock." Misty said, closing her eyes as she took a bite of the sweet treat. "Jelly-filled are my favorite."

"Mmm." Trevor agreed with a nod, taking a bite of the doughnut he held between his paws. He and Misty then jumped about a foot as Venom suddenly swooped forward and impaled a doughnut that was on the plate near them.

"They are great." Venom agreed, happily munching the doughnut impaled on his arm needle.

Trevor's fur was still sticking up a little from Venom's violent attack on the pastry. "Did you know you have a really creepy way of eating doughnuts?" he muttered.

"I agree." Kiara said as she watched jelly bleed from the doughnut and dribble down Venom's stinger and Aidan nodded, looking disturbed.

"Hey, you try eating doughnuts without any paws or opposable thumbs!" Venom retorted playfully. "Plus, this is the fun way to eat them."

Trevor rolled his eyes and was about to reply when they heard rustling in the trees above them. They all turned to look and saw a male Mankey who was a bit smaller than Judy climbing down from a tree. The Mankey came over to them, looking a bit shy, but with a friendly expression. He eyed the group with curiosity and then saw the doughnuts. His little nose twitched and he looked at them hungrily.

"He's so cute!" Misty cooed.

"I'd bet you'd like a doughnut." Brock said to the Mankey, smiling. He grabbed a doughnut and handed it to the Mankey.

The Mankey bounced eagerly as he took it. "Thank you!" he said happily, climbing on a boulder and eating his doughnut slowly.

"I wonder where Ash is. He's missing all this." Misty said. She then heard laughter close by.

…...

"I'm gonna beat you, Judy!" Ash called to her, laughing as he started to pass her.

"Not a chance!" Judy called back as she sped up. Ash did too as they approached their camp.

"Guys, watch out for the..." Misty called, but was too late. She winced as both Ash and Judy tripped over the pile of extra firewood Brock had gathered with Bulbasaur's help and tumbled to the ground. The Mankey jumped and looked to them.

Kiara flew over to Ash and Judy, picking Ash up by his jacket and gently setting him on his feet. "Are you guys okay?"

Ash nodded. "I'm fine." he told her, helping Judy up. He then saw the Mankey, who was staring at Judy with his eyes wide in awe. "Hi there." he said.

Judy gave the stranger a smile. "Hi."

The Mankey opened his mouth to speak, but no words could come out as he looked at Judy, a blush appearing on his face. He looked very nervous and fled so fast his doughnut was left spinning in the air.

Judy looked at Ash, completely confused. "What was that all about?"

"Maybe we spooked him when we came running into camp and crashed or maybe he was afraid we were going to capture him." Ash said, looking to the tree the Mankey had ran up sadly.

"Maybe." Judy said, taking a doughnut and looking to the trees. "You can come down! We're not going to capture or hurt you!" she called. But the Mankey had already dashed away, leaping from tree to tree.

Kiara grinned to herself. She had a feeling she knew why the Mankey had gotten bashful and hid. And she had the feeling he'd be back.

...

Meanwhile, the Mankey was in a tree a few yards away, watching Judy as he tried to figure out how to approach her without making a fool of himself. "She's the most beautiful Mankey girl in the world." he murmured to himself.

"Then go talk to her! Don't hide in the trees like a scared Purrloin!" a voice said and he turned to see three Mankey, his best friends.

"Teddy, I don't know what to say to her! I don't know how to talk to girls!" he protested to his friend who had spoken.

Teddy rolled his eyes. "John, if you stay up here, you'll be kicking yourself later, because she's going to go off with her trainer. This is your one opportunity to talk to her, so go meet her. And calm down. It's not that hard to talk to girls."

"What should I even say to her?" John asked.

"Tell her she looks nice. Girls love compliments." one of the other Mankey put in before Teddy could answer.

"No, you should be witty." the third Mankey protested. "Use a clever line like...hmm, I've got a good one! 'You're like an Earthquake, you rock my world!"

"No, don't use a cheesy pick-up line like that unless you want her to slap you." Teddy warned. "Just go with something simple like "Hello, my name is.. "

Poor John's head was spinning from the sudden influx of conflicting ideas as his friends argued over whose idea was best.

"Oh, and give her a little present. Girls love gifts!" the second Mankey advised, jumping down from the tree and grabbing a bunch of daisies, then climbing back up and shoving the flowers in his overwhelmed friend's arms.

"No, give her fruit! Fruit is way better than stupid flowers!" the third Mankey argued, picking several different kinds of fruit and piling them into John's arms so high the Manley's eyes were barely visible. "Now go get her!"

John took a deep breath and managed to jump down from the tree without losing any of his cargo, though the pile teetered dangerously and managed to make his way towards Judy. But with the huge pile of fruit and flowers blocking his eyes, he didn't see a rock that was right under his feet and fell flat on his face, his gifts for the pretty Mankey girl flying everywhere.

Judy was helping pack up camp when she heard the thump and turned to see the shy Mankey fall. She gasped and rushed over to help him, the others close behind her. She held out a paw to help him up. "Are you all right?"

John nodded shyly as he took the proffered paw and she pulled him to his feet. His stomach did several flip flops as her beautiful red eyes looked into his own. He could barely remember his own name, let alone what he wanted to say to her. What had his friends suggested again?

"You look nice for an earthquake. My name is Blank." he blurted out, then smacked himself on the forehead, feeling like a moron. His friends, watching from the trees, face palmed.

Judy looked at him in complete confusion for a few seconds, then she burst out laughing. "You're funny. Nice to meet you, Blank. I'm Judy."

John smiled shyly and picked up one of the daisies that hadn't been too squished when he fell. "A-Actually, my name's John." he said sheepishly, giving her the flower.

Judy smiled and took it, smelling it before tucking it behind her ear. "Thanks." John smiled and struggled to think of something else to say, shuffling his feet.

"Judy, I need your muscle over here." Misty called, struggling to pull a tent stake out of the ground.

Judy gave John a smile. "Be right back." she told him before walking away.

Brock glanced over at John and he didn't need to speak the Pokémon language to recognize the lovesick look on John's face and he could definitely sympathize. "Hey, Ash, let me handle this one." he whispered to his friend before sitting next to the Mankey, who was watching Judy but trying not to make it obvious that he was.

"Hey, buddy." he said to the Mankey, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. John glanced up at him and Brock gave him an understanding smile. "You really like her, don't you?" John looked over at Judy again and nodded.

"It's difficult to talk to girls; I know that better than anyone. You get so dazzled by them that you just babble whatever pops into your head or you try to throw out a line that's supposed to be smooth but just comes out sounding really weird..." Brock started, thinking about his experiences, then realized he was just making the poor Mankey more nervous. "Well, what I'm trying to say is that I know it's hard, but I think I can help you."

"Uh-oh, this isn't going to end well." Trevor muttered and Ash elbowed him gently to get him to be quiet before John could hear him. "What? You know how Brock is with girls." he protested, but kept his voice down.

"Hey, it's not like you're any better." Kiara retorted. "Remember that time you saw this girl Rattata you liked and you..."

"You swore you'd never speak of that again!" Trevor yelped.

Ash rolled his eyes playfully at the antics of his Pokémon and turned back to watch Brock and John, wondering what Brock was going to tell the Mankey.

"Now, Judy's pretty easygoing and she loves to battle." Brock was telling John. "So why not have a little play battle with her? It'll be fun for both of you if you like to battle, and you'll also get to show her your strength. Plus, it'll help you relax around her."

John's eyes lit up. "That's a great idea!"

"Wow. It actually is." Trevor said, eyes wide, making Ash elbow him again.

"Okay, she's walking back over. Ask her if she'd like to have a play battle with you. Just keep it cool." Brock whispered to John and gave him a reassuring smile. John nodded and took a deep breath.

"Hey, guys. What's going on?" Judy asked with a smile as she walked up.

"Um, I...I'd like to know if-if you want to have a play battle with me." John asked nervously, then mentally face palmed, wishing that he hadn't stammered so much. At least it was a lot better than "You look nice for an Earthquake. My name is Blank," though...

Judy didn't seem at all bothered by the stammering and she smiled. "That sounds like fun!"

This made John grin and he relaxed more. After finding an open spot to battle, the two took opposite sides of it. Ash and Brock went over to watch and a curious Misty soon joined them, along with the rest of their Pokemon.

"Since you challenged me, you can have the first move." Judy said with a grin and John rushed forward, Karate Chop at the ready.

As he charged at her, Judy sneakily sidestepped and grabbed his wrist, flipping him easily. But John proved to have a few surprises in him and kept hold of her, pulling her down with him, both ending up in a tumbling roll. Finally, Judy managed to get ahold of John and use Seismic Toss, sending him flying, though John managed to twist in the air and land on his feet.

Judy quickly got up while he was getting his balance. "You're good."

"So are you." John said with a smile, though remaining wary of any tricks she might pull. The two Mankey sized each other up for a few minutes, then Judy rushed forward with a Karate Chop of her own, feinting left. John instinctively dodged right, but Judy was ready for this and used Low Kick to trip him up, making him tumble to the ground.

John narrowly rolled away from her next Karate Chop and hit her with Fury Swipes, but he only got two strikes in before she dodged him and then hit him with a strong Cross Chop, sending him back. He was stubborn though and quickly got back to his feet again. He took a deep breath and subtly began to charge a Focus Punch. Judy rushed at him with another Cross Chop, but he dodged and slammed her with his power charged fist, sending her flying back and landing hard.

Judy got up unsteadily. Wow, he's good. I'd better end this quick. A sudden idea formed and before John could even move towards her, she leapt straight into the air, moving her arms into Cross Chop position as she launched herself at him at him with blinding speed, using her newly perfected Aerial Ace move. John couldn't dodge in time as she slammed into him with the Aerial Ace and hit him with the Cross Chop right after, sending him flying back and crashing ten feet away. He tried to struggle to his feet, but collapsed, swirls in his eyes.

Brock quickly went over to John and treated him with a Revive and Super Potion as Ash went to go treat Judy, spraying a Super Potion on her wounds. Judy started to walk over to John to check to see if he was okay when she suddenly stopped. "I feel a little funny..."

Ash noticed her expression. "Judy, you okay?" he asked, worried.

Judy was about to turn to reassure him that she was fine when her body started to glow. Both Ash and John watched in awe as she rapidly grew in size, the glow soon fading away to reveal a large, and in John's eyes, an extremely beautiful, Primeape.

"Wow, Judy, you evolved." Ash said, smiling. "How do you feel?"

"Taller." Judy said, smiling, and it was definitely true. She was now almost as tall as Ash and more muscular than she had been, though her features hadn't changed that much.

John was watching her with stars in his eyes. With a gentle nudge from Brock, he walked up to her. "Thanks. That was a great battle." he said shyly.

Judy grinned at him. "You were awesome. That Focus Punch was really powerful. You'll have to teach me it."

"I will if you teach me that jump move you used near the end of the battle. It was incredible. What was it?" John asked, relaxing as he talked about the battle.

"That was Aerial Ace. Ash taught me it." Judy told him, motioning to her trainer, who was talking to Misty and Brock.

John's eyes went wide. "I didn't know Mankey could learn Aerial Ace."

"Neither did I until Ash found out about it on the Pokédex. It's basically just a really accurate version of High Jump Kick for us Pokemon who don't have wings." she explained. "Trevor, my smarty-pants Rattata friend over there, didn't believe it was possible either. He pouted for the rest of the day when he was proven wrong." she teased.

"I do not pout!" said Rattata protested.

John laughed, but then looked confused. "What's a Pokédex?"

"It's this weird computer thing humans have that gives information on Pokémon." Judy explained. John still looked lost. "Here, I'll get Ash to show you. Hey, Ash!" she called and Ash came walking over. "John wants to know about the Pokédex. Can you show him?"

"Sure. What do you want me to show him?" Ash asked and John's eyes went wide.

"He can understand Pokémon. It's a long story." Judy told John, though she didn't add any other details. John knew not to press her and just nodded as Judy turned back to Ash.

"Try scanning me. It'll show John what the Pokédex does and I want to see what kind of goofy entry that thing will come up with for me." Judy said with a laugh.

Ash pointed the Pokédex at his newly evolved Primeape and scanned her.

"Primeape. If you make eye contact with this evolved form of Mankey, it will chase you forever."

"Oookay...That's really weird." Ash mumbled as he gave his Pokédex an odd look, then looked up, straight into Judy's eyes.

Judy mock-gasped. "Oh no, you looked at me! Now I must chase!" She made a playful lunge at her trainer, who let out a noise somewhere between a yelp and a laugh as he dodged, then ran off, Judy right behind him, both laughing.

It didn't take long for Judy to catch Ash with her long legs, and she snatched his hat right off his head. "Hey!" he yelled playfully and leapt for her, but she dodged him easily.

"Go long, John!" Judy called to her new friend and threw at him.

"Wha-" John started to say as the hat landed right on his head. Ash quickly changed direction and ran towards John.

"Me! Throw it to me!" Venom called and John chucked the hat to him just in time.

"Guys, careful! That's my official Pokémon League expo hat!" Ash protested, still playfully but also not wanting anything to happen to his favorite hat. "Do you know how tough that was to win?"

"I can't believe that's a Pokémon League hat. I entered that contest too and didn't get anything." Misty commented.

"I had to send in like a million postcards to get that hat." Ash told her breathlessly as he zoomed past them, chasing Venom.

Misty rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly. "No wonder I didn't win. I only sent in one."

...

John watched in amusement as Ash managed to sneak up on Venom, only to have Kiara grab the hat before he could. "Enjoying the craziness?" a voice asked him. John turned to see Bulbasaur.

John nodded with a laugh. "Is it always like that?"

"No, only ninety percent of the time." Bulbasaur deadpanned.

"Which one of the trainers is yours?" John asked.

"Brock. The tall guy with the brown hair." Bulbasaur told him, pointing him out with the vine.

John nodded. "He's really nice."

"He is. Makes the best food in the world too." Bulbasaur agreed. "I'm glad I got the chance to meet him. He's a good guy, always puts others first. Don't tell anyone I said anything that sappy though." He added a light glare for good measure, but it didn't have any real venom in it.

John nodded, thoughtful and quiet as he turned his attention back to the game of tag/keep away. What he was thinking of could change his whole life, but could he be that impulsive? Could he leave everything he knew behind?

...

"C'mon, Venom, just give it back!" Ash called as he chased his Beedrill.

"Not a chance!" Venom teased as he flew a little faster, keeping just out of reach.

"I'm open!" Judy called, laughing, and Venom flew to her and dropped the hat into her paws. Ash nearly stumbled as he turned to run after her.

"I'm gonna get you, Judy!" Ash yelled playfully after a long chase, and dived at her. She quickly leapt out of his way and started climbing a tree.

"Hey, no fair!" Ash mock-whined as he started climbing after her. She simply sat on a high branch, put his hat on her head, and playfully stuck her tongue out at him. "Now it's on!" He managed to get to the branch just below her, but his heart leapt into his throat when he heard an ominous crack and the branch he was clinging to snapped.

Before he could fall, a furry paw caught his wrist, and Judy effortlessly pulled him up onto her much more sturdy branch. "I've got you." she said with a sigh of relief. "You okay?"

Ash nodded, taking a few deep breaths to slow his racing heart. "I'm fine. Thanks for saving my butt again."

"Hey, you know I'll always be here for you." she said, smiling.

Ash smiled and took his hat back before gently ruffling the fur on her head. "You always are." There was a moment of peaceful quiet as the two sat together, watching the view and simply enjoying one another's company.

"Hey, look, there's Celadon City!" Ash said as he pointed to the large city, glowing softly in the setting sun. "We're almost there. Only a little more to go."

Judy grinned. "Can't wait to kick butt in the gym!"

Ash chuckled. "I know you will." The two relaxed for a few more minutes before hearing the others calling out for them.

...

"Oh, there you guys are!" Misty called to them as the group walked over and saw them. "We'd better get going so we can make it to Celadon City by tomorrow."

John's ears fell. "So soon?" he asked, not aware he had said it out loud though.

"Sorry." Judy said softly. "We do have to go...But you could come with us!"

John's ears went up in shock. "I-I'd like to, but my friends...And my home..."

There was a soft thump behind him as his friend Teddy leapt to the ground. "Dude, what are you waiting for? Go with her!"

"Teddy, I..." John started before Teddy pulled him out of earshot.

"Look, you have the chance to go on a huge adventure, something the rest of us would love. And a pretty girl is asking you to join her; even better! I know she's your dream babe. So don't be an idiot! You only have one life to live, so make it awesome!" Teddy told him fiercely.

"I...I will. Thank you." John said softly.

"Aww, there's no need to be sappy. Now go!" Teddy patted his friend's shoulder and pushed him back towards the group.

John took a deep breath and walked up to Brock. "Hey, I...I wanted to thank you for earlier...and ask if I can join you." he said shyly.

Ash translated for him and Brock's eyes widened for a second but then he smiled. He liked the romantically awkward little Mankey and was glad for a sixth Pokemon to join his team. "Of course."

And the group set off for Celadon City, and for the first step on John's new journey with him, a chance John would never regret taking.

...

They arrived at Celadon City the next morning and returned their larger Pokemon to their balls before heading for the Pokémon Center and Gym, admiring the sights of the large, bustling city along the way, with its tall buildings, and according to Brock and Misty at least, great scents.

Passing a small, stylish shop, Misty and Brock sniffed the air. "Something smells heavenly." Brock murmured.

"Perfume." Misty told him. Ash caught a whiff as well and tried to hide a grimace as the strong scents of flowers and fruits mixed with chemicals hit his nose and made his head throb a little. He absolutely hated perfume.

And he wasn't the only one. Trevor wrinkled his nose. "It smells like...-ACHOO-!" The Rattata went into a volley of sneezes, nearly falling off Ash's shoulder.

"Trev, you okay?" Ash asked, concerned.

"Yeah, I'm...-Achoo!-...Fine...-Achoo!- Achoo! Ugh...-Achoo!- I hate this stuff..."

"Buddy, I think you're allergic to perfume. I'm going to put you back into your Poké Ball." Ash told him.

"-Achoo!- Thanks..." Trevor sniffled, eyes and nose watering as Ash returned him to his ball.

"Poor guy." Ash murmured sympathetically. "Are you guys okay?"

"I'm good. It's a little strong, but doesn't smell that bad to me." Judy told him.

"I don't really like the smell, but it doesn't make me sneeze or anything." Aidan said, not wanting to go back to his ball.

"That's good...Hey, where'd Brock and Misty go?" Ash said, realizing his two human friends had disappeared. He looked around and finally saw Brock with his face pressed up against the window of the perfume shop with his new Mankey and Bulbasaur beside him.

Ash walked over and chuckled at Brock's goofy expression. "Who you makin' faces at, Brock?"

"My nose is telling me that this is my kind of town." Brock said dreamily as he stared through the window. John looked at Bulbasaur questioningly, who just shrugged.

"Huh?" Ash asked and looked through the window to see a group of pretty teenage girls standing around, giggling and gossiping. "Oh."

"I think we should stay here a while." Brock said, the goofy, lovestruck grin never leaving his face.

Ash just laughed. "All right, I'll meet you at the gym then." He looked around. "Where's Misty? Misty?" he called as he started to go to look for her.

Brock tapped him on the shoulder and pointed inside the perfume shop and Ash looked, seeing Misty go in and talk to a salesgirl. Misty looked out of the window and caught Ash's eyes, and she smiled and motioned him to come in.

"You've got to leave your Pokémon outside or put them in their balls. Perfume is flammable and the glass bottles are fragile." a salesgirl told Ash as he started to enter the shop.

Ash nodded and led his Pokémon back out to Brock. "Brock, can you watch Judy and Aidan?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, sure." Brock said, still distracted by girl watching.

"We'll be fine. We'll wait on the bench." Judy told him.

Ash thanked them before going inside, wincing a bit at the much stronger smell of perfume, but ignored it and walking up to Misty, seeing her being attended to by two sales girls, one with purple hair and the other one with green hair in a ponytail.

"This is one of our most popular. It's called Daffodil Dream." the green haired girl said and sprayed a bit on Misty's wrist.

Misty took a whiff. "It smells just like a garden. Hey, Ash, what do you think?"

"It's okay." Ash said. In truth, he didn't really like it, but he didn't want to tell that to Misty, especially since she liked it.

She huffed a little. "Well, don't sound so enthusiastic."

"Sorry, Mist. I'm not really a big fan of perfume." Ash admitted, knowing he couldn't lie worth beans.

Misty gave him a questioning look. "How come?"

"It just... It smells really weird to me, it's kind of expensive, and it gives me a headache. Plus, it made Trevor sick." he admitted. One of the salesgirls glared and was about to yell at him, when a voice came from the doorway of a back room.

"I resent that remark!" a beautiful black haired woman in a kimono growled as she walked up.

"The manager." one of the salesgirls whispered.

The woman just ignored her. "Young man, are you accusing me of overcharging my customers for inferior perfume that makes people sick?!" she growled at Ash.

Misty glared at the lady and was about to yell at her, but Ash spoke first. "No, Ma'am. I'm not accusing you of anything! I just don't like perfume in general." He felt like he was digging himself into a deeper hole, but this situation was getting him confused and flustered.

And this just made the manager more angry and she started to get in his face, making him back up a few steps. "P for pretty, E for elegant, R for radiant, F for fun, U for Urbane, M for Mysterious, E for energy, and that spells..."

"Perfume!" one of the salesgirls said as she glared at Ash.

"Hey, why don't you back off?" Misty growled as she went to defend her friend.

"If you object to our products so much, maybe you should leave. Since all we sell is perfume, you must find us offensive." the manager growled.

"I never said...Okay, fine, I will!" Ash said angrily. Between the perfume and being yelled at for no reason, he was getting a massive headache.

"Yeah, leave, you insensitive little worm!" a yellow haired salesgirls yelled.

"You should be ashamed of yourself!" the purple haired one shouted and grabbed Ash roughly, intending to physically throw him out.

"Let me go!" Ash yelled and wiggled out of her grasp before storming out of the store.

Misty glared at the salesgirls and the manager, debating about giving them all a good hit with her Misty Mallet, then reluctantly deciding against as there were too many breakable and expensive perfume bottles that she didn't want to have to pay for if she broke them, plus a nearby security camera that would record it all if she did decide to take a swing. Instead, she gave them a venomous glare that had most of them looking pretty nervous before storming out of the store after Ash.

Judy and Aidan hopped off the bench they were seated on and came over to them when they heard them come out. Judy noticed their expressions. "What happened?"

Ash sighed and rubbed her head. "Just something stupid. Don't worry about it. You ready to go to the gym?" Judy frowned in concern, but didn't press and nodded, as did Aidan. "Hey, Brock, you ready to go..." He noticed Brock flirting, well attempting to flirt, with an off the clock salesgirl. "Never mind...We'll meet you at the gym!" Ash called to Brock, who nodded, then delivered some probably cheesy line to the girl, as evidenced by her slight irritation, John's confusion, and Bulbasaur's eye roll. With that, Ash, Misty, and their Pokemon headed off.

...

"What do you mean I can't come in?" Ash asked incredulously a half hour later as he stood outside the doors of the huge, Vileplume flower ceiling-ed gym. "I have to battle here to earn the Rainbow Badge!"

"I wouldn't let you in if you were the last Pokémon Trainer on Earth!" a blue haired girl growled at him. "This gym doesn't allow anyone who says that perfume is a stinky rip-off!"

"I never said that...I didn't...Why does a gym care so much about my opinion on perfume anyway?!" Ash protested.

"We manufacture that "stinky" perfume right in this gym." a brown haired girl stage whispered into his ear.

Ash accidentally said out loud the thought that was on his brain right now. "Uh-oh."

"So you see, young man..." the blue haired girl said with an evil grin, and before anyone could react, slammed a red inked, X shaped stamper into Ash's forehead so hard it actually knocked Ash down. "YOU'RE the stinker!" And with that, they slammed the door right in the startled boy's face, leaving Ash shocked and Misty in the middle of pulling her mallet out.

Judy was seeing red right now and in the rage Primeapes were supposedly known for at the insults and attack against her trainer. "Those %E^#^$! You don't %#%#&# do that to my trainer!" She then charged at the doors before either Ash or Misty could stop her.

Ash had been momentarily stunned(and also surprised by Judy's colorful language), but being slightly ahead of her, managed to block her path, wanting to stop her before she got into trouble or hurt someone. "Judy, don-" he started to say, but was cut off when she, not seeing him in her rage, plowed right into him, knocking him to the hard concrete and making him bonk his head on the gym step. "Ow!"

Thankfully, Ash's yelp of pain and seeing that she had accidentally hurt him snapped Judy out of her rage just in time. "Arceus, Ash, are you okay?! I'm so sorry!" she said frantically as she helped him up and checked him over.

Ash breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm fine, Judy. But you have to be careful. You can't just lose your temper and charge like that every time someone insults me or does something to me that you don't like. You're a lot stronger now and you could really hurt someone or you could get into a lot of trouble and get taken away from me. I don't want that to happen." he said, gently but firmly.

"But they..." She sighed softly, knowing he was right. "I know. I'm sorry."

He hugged her. "It's okay. I'm fine and you didn't hurt anyone. Just please, be more careful."

She hugged him back. "I will."

"Ash, you okay?" Misty asked as she ran up.

"I'm fine. Can't believe I got kicked out of the gym." he sighed. "Especially over perfume of all things...What am I supposed to do? I need that badge if I want to get into the league and I can't if they won't even let me in the gym! Can they even do that? Wow, I really screwed up..."

"Ash, calm down. I know gym leaders can make some of their own rules, but I'm not sure they can go so far as to kick you out of the gym just because you don't like perfume. And you didn't screw up. It's a free country; you're allowed to state your own personal opinion in a store! I really wish I could show those girls a piece of my mind." Misty said angrily, gripping her Misty Mallet.

"Let's go talk to Brock. He's been a gym leader for a while and he'd probably know for sure if they can or can't kick me out. If they can...I'm not sure what I'll do. Maybe go in disguise so they can't recognize me." he joked to try to make himself, Misty, and the Pokemon feel better.

Misty had a sudden mental picture of Ash attempting to get into the gym in a ridiculous disguise and trying and failing to change his voice. She let out a small laugh. "I don't think you're nearly a good enough liar for that. Let's go to Brock like you said and we'll think of something else that doesn't involve ridiculous disguises. That's Team Rocket's forte, not yours." Ash laughed at this and the little group headed back.

...

"Ash actually got kicked out of a gym? For not liking perfume?" Brock asked in shock later after the two had met Brock on the road and told him what had happened. "They can't do that. It's against League rules. A gym leader has to accept every challenge unless the trainer is violent or they think a trainer is abusing their Pokemon."

Ash sighed in relief. "So I can get my battle?"

Brock nodded. "Yes, you can. Just go back and tell them to give you a battle or you'll contact the League about the problem. I'll back you up. As a former gym leader, I have contacts in the League I can get ahold of if they refuse."

"Thanks, Brock." Ash said gratefully.

Brock smiled at his black haired friend. "No problem."

...

When the group arrived back at the gym, they could hear arguing from across the street. A blond teenage girl with a tank top and ripped jeans was yelling at the same gym trainers that had kicked Ash out as a geeky, dark haired teenage boy wearing a Spinarak Man T-shirt was trying to defuse the situation, a Scyther standing beside the boy while a cute little green Pokemon with red flowers on its head and a green and yellow leafy "skirt" stood beside the girl, looking just as pissed as she was. The door was slammed in the faces of the two trainers and the boy had to hold the angry girl back before she charged at the doors and gently lead her down the steps.

The group walked up to them. "What happened?" Ash asked.

"They kicked Danny out of the gym and he won't let me punch those b...witches!" the girl said angrily.

"Emma, I wasn't going to let you get in trouble over me again." Danny told her.

"You got kicked out too?" Ash asked in shock.

He nodded with a sigh. "You too? What made them kick you out?"

" I told Misty I didn't like perfume when we were in the perfume shop and they took offense to that." Ash told him.

"I'm allergic to perfume and when we were passing by to go to the gym, one of those perfume sprayer people approached us and was about to spray us and I may have panicked and told her to not spray that smelly crap on me." Danny said sheepishly.

"This is ridiculous." Emma growled.

A passing trainer overheard this, a teenager with short brown hair, a blue T-shirt, a green open jacket, jeans, and trainers. He came over just as Brock was opening his mouth to tell them that they could make the leader give them a battle. "I couldn't help but overhear. It happened to me too a few months ago. Just tell them that by League rules, they have to give you a battle. They'll let you in."

"Maybe, but what about the next person this happens to? Brock was here to tell me they couldn't do that, but I didn't know that before I talked to him. If they weren't there, I would have likely panicked and done something stupid to try to get my gym battle. And If someone gets kicked out of the gym and they don't know they can make the gym leader give them a battle, they're out of luck." Ash said. "Maybe we should call the league."

"Good luck. I submitted a complaint about this gym and they still haven't done anything about it yet." the brown haired teenager grumbled.

"Well, I'm the sister of the Cerulean City gym leaders and Brock is a former gym leader. I think we can use that to make them listen." Misty said as she walked to a video phone nearby and dialed the league. With Brock and Misty's status, they were able to personally contact a higher up league official, who immediately agreed to send someone over after the group told them what happened.

"Thanks for that. I'm Alstair by the way." the brown haired teenager said. The rest of the group introduced themselves and they made small talk as they waited, the talk soon turning to their Pokemon.

"Your Pokemon is so cute. I've never seen that kind before. What's he or she called?" Misty asked Emma.

"She's a Bellossom. Her name is Rose." Emma said, smiling.

"Where'd you get her?" Misty asked, curious as to what region she came from.

"I evolved her from Gloom using a Sun Stone." she said, smiling.

"Wow, really?" Misty asked. "I actually have a Gloom myself. Her name's Tabitha. Maybe I should get a Sun Stone for her if she wants to evolve."

"I actually have an extra Sun Stone from an evolutionary stone set I won in a contest after I evolved Rose." Emma said, pulling it out of her bag. "Here. You can have it."

"Are you sure?" Misty asked, knowing evolutionary stones were worth a lot.

"Yeah, I don't have any Pokemon that could use it and it's the least I could do for the help you guys gave us." she reassured her and pushed the stone into Misty's hand.

"And I'd like to give you this." Alistair told Ash, giving him a Black Belt. "I won it from that unofficial fighting gym in Saffron, but I don't have a Fighting Type to use it on, so I thought you could use it for your Primeape. I also have a few Charcoal pieces I found so I'd like to give you one for your Charmander." Ash thanked him gratefully for the gift and the two got into a conversation about their Pokemon teams and the battles they'd been in.

Meanwhile, Brock and Danny were talking about Pokemon care and breeding. Danny had some interest in Pokemon breeding and had even brought a few books on it which he showed to Brock. One was a hard to find book on Pokemon medicine that got Brock's interest and Danny could tell.

"I'd like to give you this as a thank you for getting us out of that mess. If we had had to confront them ourselves, I likely wouldn't have known what to do and Emma probably would have gotten pissed at them and punched someone." Brock hesitated at first, but Danny insisted. "I've already read it and I think you'd really enjoy it." He held the book out to him, and Brock finally thanked him and took it.

Not long after, two officials, a stern black haired woman and a blond guy, arrived and spoke to the group for a few minutes before walking to the gym doors with them and demanding to see the gym leader. A blue haired girl wearing a green dress with a white stripe came to meet them.

"That's the manager of the perfume store!" Ash whispered to his companions.

"Erika, that's the sixth complaint we've had this year about your gym kicking out trainers for not liking perfume." the female official said angrily.

"Many of them were very rude! And I didn't kick them out, my gym trainers did!" she protested. "If they asked me for a battle, I gave it to them!"

"Only after they threatened to contact the League!" Alistair growled.

"Look, whether people like perfume or not doesn't matter and neither you or your gym trainers has the right to kick anyone out of the gym over a personal opinion. It violates the League rules and you should know this." the official told Erika sternly. "We are going to put your gym on probation for six months, and if there is another complaint about you banning trainers from your gym for no good reason, you WILL lose your gym." Erika's eyes widened with fear at this. "And tomorrow you will give both Ash and Danny here their match, and I will be watching to make sure it happens."

Erika nodded to this, knowing she had no choice. "I will. I'll see you both at ten tomorrow when the gym opens. And I...apologize for my behavior and for the behavior of my gym trainers." she told them to satisfy the official.

Though Ash wasn't sure how sincere the apology was, he nodded, as did Danny. Emma was still glaring.

"All right, I will see all of you tomorrow." the official said, emphasizing it so that Erika would know that she wouldn't get away with anything. She walked away and the group said goodbye to each other before heading off.

...

That evening after dinner, Ash and all his Pokémon were in the outdoor training field at the hotel they were staying at, preparing for the gym battle happening the next day. Misty was out there with them, training for the Water Tournament, while Brock was using the little kitchen in their hotel room to make some Pokémon treats for another Pokémon cooking contest he was thinking about entering, with John and Bulbasaur getting the happy job of taste testing his new creations.

"Whoa, all that happened while I was in my ball?" Trevor asked after Ash told them what had happened.

"They actually kicked you out of the gym? You?" Kiara asked in shock and anger that her timid trainer had actually got kicked out of a gym. "Over something as stupid as you not liking some scents?"

"Maybe their brains were melted from having to smell that crap all day." Trevor muttered to himself. It had taken three washings for Ash to get the remaining traces of the perfume scent out of his fur so the Rattata would quit sneezing.

"Yeah, but don't worry, Ki. It's all been taken care of."Ash reassured her. "Let's just focus on the battle tomorrow. It's going to be extra exciting, especially since there'll be a League Official watching. I want us to do really well."

"We will." Aidan told him. "So who's the final choice for who's going to be in this one?"

"You, Judy, and either Kiara or Venom." Ash told him.

"I really want to do this one! I haven't been in a gym battle for a while!" Venom told them.

"I haven't either." Kiara reminded him.

"One of you will be in this one and the other will be in the next one." Ash told them, wanting to stop a fight before it happened.

"Who's the next leader?" Kiara asked.

"Koga. He's the poison type gym leader. According to this, he normally uses a Venonat, a Golbat, and a Venomoth." Ash said, checking his League handbook. "I've actually seen him on TV. He's a ninja and he's really, really good."

"I think I'd like to battle him." Kiara said.

"Sounds good. Venom can take this one then." The two nodded in agreement and Ash started all of his Pokémon on training. Kiara was perfecting her Drill Run while Venom worked on his Aerial Ace some more. Ash was also slowly teaching Levi to use Flamethrower so that he'd have a secret weapon if he ever had to face a grass type. The move was difficult for Levi, but he was making great progress.

Trevor was working on his Iron Tail, Shadow Ball and Thunderbolt to make them more powerful and Aidan was practicing his fire type moves and working on his accuracy with the help of some small training discs Ash threw for him. Judy was working on her Aerial Ace and Fire Punch, knowing she'd need them for the gym tomorrow.

Ash was watching Judy train when he had a sudden idea, remembering the battle she had had with John. He went up to her and told her about his plan for the battle.

Judy's eyes lit up. "That's a great idea! Since I'm a fighting type, she'll never see that coming. I'll need to practice it some so I don't miss, but I think I can pull it off."

For the next few hours, Ash and Judy practiced the new combo move they had worked out. The first few times, Judy had trouble with it, but by the end of the training session, she was able to do it accurately. After the training session, the group headed to bed, eager for the battle the next morning.

...

Ash, Misty, Brock, Aidan, and Judy arrived at the gym a little before ten the next morning, meeting up with Danny and Emma. Alistair had also came, wanting to watch. Thankfully, the gym trainers stayed out of their way when they entered the gym where Erika and the League official were waiting.

Danny had his battle first, and he won with relative ease with the help of his Scyther and a Pidgeotto and Spearow, though Erika's spore and powder attacks did give him some trouble at one point. Once Erika had her Pokemon healed, it was Ash's turn.

Taking a deep breath to ease the nervousness he got before each big gym battle, Ash stepped forward to his side of the gym as Erika took her place.

"Okay, this is a three on three battle, no items allowed. Are you ready?" she asked.

"I'm ready."

"All right. Tangela, go!" she called, releasing a strong looking Tangela who let out a battle cry.

"Venom, you're up!" Ash called, letting out his excited Beedrill.

"This should be easy." Erika said, not thinking much of her challenger. "Tangela, Razor Leaf!"

"Dodge and use Aerial Ace!" Ash called to Venom, and the Beedrill quickly leapt into the air, dodging the razor sharp leaves sent at at him and zoomed at Tangela at incredible speeds, knocking the grass type back and weakening it severely.

"Nice try, but we're not out yet! Tangela, Constrict while it's close!" Erika called.

Ash knew Venom couldn't dodge in time, the vines already going around the bug's body. "Keep your arm needles away from the vines!" he quickly warned him and Venom pulled his arm needles up before the vines could entangle them.

"Now pull it close, keep it still and use Stun Spore!" Erika called, knowing that would increase Stun Spore's accuracy and Tangela sent a wave of the paralyzing yellow powder at Venom, which the Beedrill couldn't dodge.

Ash was worried but knew he couldn't panic for Venom's sake and that it would take a minute for the Stun Spore to take full effect. And how close Erika had her Tangela pull Venom to release the Stun Spore and make sure it hit would work to their advantage as well. "Venom, Poison Jab while you're close!" Despite beginning to feel the Stun Spore's effects, Venom slammed his powerful Poison Jab into the Tangela, knocking it out."

"Tangela!" Erika cried out and returned her Pokemon.

"Venom, you did great. Time to take a rest." Ash told Venom, returning him as he knew the Beedrill was struggling to move with the Stun Spore. He mentally reminded himself to find a way or some moves that would help his Pokemon resist or heal status conditions and to be more careful in battle next time.

"Poor Beedrill. I'll give you some Paralyze Heals to help it after the battle." Erika said with concern but also somewhat condescendingly. Ash bit back the retort struggling to come out and simply said thank you.

"Aidan, your turn." Ash told his Charmander, who was out of his ball like usual and watching nearby. Aidan grinned and came to join his trainer.

"Well, this should be easy." Erika said mockingly as she looked at the small Charmander, thinking Ash had just gone with type advantage and let out an untrained or underleveled Pokémon as most starters were at least on their second evolution by the time they reached her gym. "Weepinbell, go!" The yellow grass type glared at Aidan, but the little fire type was not intimidated. "Now use Razor Leaf!" The Weepinbell quickly shot off the leaves and they headed straight towards Aidan.

"Flame burst to incinerate them!" Ash called and Aidan sent out several balls of fire, igniting the leaves before they could even get close to hitting him. Weepinbell gasped and dodged the burning leaves that were now falling back to the ground. "Now Flamethrower!" Aidan sent the powerful stream of fire at Weepinbell, knocking it out.

"Very good, but you won't beat my best Pokemon! Gloom, go!" Erika called, releasing her prized starter, Gloom. At Erika's silent cue, the Gloom released a cloud of its powerful stench at Aidan, making the little fire lizard cough and gasp.

"Aidan!" Ash cried out in worry as he saw Aidan coughing from the horrible stench filling the gym. Aidan may not have been hurt, but seeing him clutch his nose and struggle to catch his breath scared Ash. Not wanting to force Aidan to continue and make him seriously sick, Ash returned him to the ball. "Judy, are you up for this?" he asked his Primeape.

"Of course." she told him and came forward to join him. "I have four brothers. I've smelled a heck of a lot worse from them." she whispered to Ash to reassure him and he hid a laugh.

"Your battling skills may be impressive, Ash, but there's one thing you don't have. Empathy with your Pokémon! Without it, you'll never become a great Pokemon trainer like me!" Erika called to him.

Judy glared and was about to start an explosive rant about how Ash had more empathy in his little finger than Erika had in her entire body and/or get so angry she went into Thrash, but Ash placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, calming her.

"Easy, Judy. Let's show her exactly how wrong she is on the battlefield." Ash whispered to her and Judy stepped forward.

"Poison Powder, now!" Erika called and Gloom sent a wave of purple powder towards Judy.

"Dodge and use Fire Ace!" Ash called to Judy. Judy leapt out of the way of the Poison Powder easily and leapt into the air, charging up a Fire Punch as she did.

"What?!" Erika gasped. "Gloom, dodge it!" Gloom tried to dodge, but Judy simply changed direction in the air, the fire now emanating from her fist and the wind generated from the sheer speed of the Aerial Ace seeming to almost cover her as she zoomed down at the Gloom in a blur, slamming into him and sending him halfway across the gym, knocking him out.

"We did it!" Ash cried out happily and hugged Judy when she walked back to him.

"Was there ever any doubt?" she asked with a grin.

"With you guys on my side, never. You all are the best." he whispered to her so that Erika couldn't hear.

Erika sadly returned her Gloom and walked over to him, abashed. "Well, Ash, it was a good battle. I guess you have more empathy with your Pokémon than I thought. Here, you earned this." She handed him the Rainbow Badge and also a Paralyze Heal for Venom. Extremely happy because of the win, he thanked her politely, then immediately let Venom out to treat him, and checked on Aidan, who was fine now that he had gotten away from the gas.

"Nice battle, Ash." Danny said. He and Emma had stayed to watch Ash's battle, as did Alistair.

"Thanks. And you did awesome in yours." Ash told him.

"You really showed her. Nice." Emma said and high fived him.

"Yeah, that last move especially was really cool." Alistair told him. "That Fire Punch and the Aerial Ace worked well together. I'll have to remember that."

The official came over and congratulated both boys on their wins. When the group filed out of the gym, the official stopped Ash..

"I've seen a lot of battles with very strong trainers. But rarely have I ever seen such synergy between a trainer and their Pokémon as I have with you. It's clear you have a very strong bond with your team and are completely in tune with them. There are a few things you could improve on in your battling, but that's the case with everyone. Training is a learning process. But with how close you are with your Pokémon and how well you work together, I have no doubt that you'll do great things." She gave him a rare smile before walking away.

Smiling, Ash left the gym rejoining his friends and Pokémon. After a while, they said goodbye to Danny, Alistair, and Emma, wishing them all luck in their journeys and then headed on their way to continue their own, heading to HopHopHop Town where new adventures and Misty's Water Pokemon Tournament awaited them.

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