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The Bittersweet Reunion

ZeldaFan20

Coral Eye Trainer
Well, even after all the great comments on it last time, it appears that The Bittersweet Reunion has been taken off the sight. Fear not, though; starting today, my first story is making an encore appearance! I know my old readers will be very happy---and those who didn't see it will have another chance to enjoy my work. So, without further ado, here we go again!





The Bittersweet Reunion


Chapter One



It is early morning, somewhere around 7:30 am. A gentle rain falls on a small path surrounded on both sides by trees. Along this path, a figure is seen running. It is a small child, in bare feet and pajamas, panting. In his face there is much sadness, and an evident feeling of abandonment. The tears his eyes shed mingle with the raindrops. Finally, he stops.

There is a cliff, one that overlooks another, much wider road. This road runs through a green meadow, towards a large forest. The child looks down and sees a figure walking along it. There’s a man, carrying a large backpack. The boy knows the man, who is starting out on a long journey. He then calls out to him.

“DAAAADDYYYY!...................DAAAADDYYYY!”

The man listens, and turns his head. Seeing the boy on the cliff above, he smiles a cheerful, yet sorrowful, smile, and waves. Then he turns back around, and continues towards the woods.

The boy sheds more tears as his father vanishes from sight. He promptly sits on the cold, wet ground, buries his face in his hands, and cries.

“Daddy, why do you have to go away? Daddy..........”




“Huh?................Oh, that dream again.”

Ash sat up in his sleeping bag, a cold sweat forming on his brow.

Ash, Pikachu, Brock, and Misty were on their way back to Pallet Town after Ash’s victorious triumph at the Johto League. Unlike his battles in the Kanto League at Indigo Plateau, Ash had made it to the final competition. He had gone up against his rival and neighbor, Gary Oak, and the battle was still fresh in his mind.

He remembered Nidoking and Arcanine’s crushing defeat against his Croconaw, Nidoqueen falling easily to his Quilava, and Alakazam (a real tough hitter) and Gyarados both taking a beating from Pikachu. And then there was Umbreon. Ash had first sent Pikachu to battle Umbreon, but it got knocked out after a couple of strong Quick Attacks. Croconaw and Meganium didn’t fare well for very long either. However, Ash got the upper hand when he sent out his Snorlax. It actually took all that Umbreon threw at it, and then delivered the final blow with a Body Slam, giving Ash the win.

After that battle they all spent the rest of the evening celebrating. Finally, after the awards ceremony, they headed for home. Ash was anxious to see his mom and Professor Oak again.

He looked around the glen where the whole party had camped out for the night, and noticed that the sun was just beginning to rise. Although most of the sky above was still dark, a little pink could be seen along the horizon. He then turned to observe the campsite.

Brock was all nice and snug in his navy-blue sleeping bag, which was directly opposite Ash’s. Misty was lying comfortably on her left side right next to the fire, with her Togepi closely folded in her arms. Ash then glanced at Pikachu, who was lying near his left hip. Pikachu had woken up about two minutes after he did, and looked worriedly at its young master.

“Pika pi?” it asked.

“Shhhh,” Ash whispered, not wanting to wake anyone else up, “I’m okay Pikachu. I just had a weird dream, that’s all. Let’s go back to sleep.”

“Pi pika chu,” Pikachu responded sleepily.

The two friends then lay back down, closed their eyes, and fell fast asleep once again.



“*Yawn*, what a great morning. Time to start breakfast.”

Brock climbed out of his sleeping bag, stretched his arms and legs, and began starting a fresh fire. It had been three hours since Ash had his dream, and Brock was eager to get the day started.

Misty got up next and took a pail down to the river to get some fresh water. Pikachu and Togepi were playing around in her sleeping bag; mostly crawling around inside it like a couple of moles.

Ash sat up, gave a big yawn, and watched them play. “Hey, are you two pretending to be a couple of Diglett?” he said. He tried to force a cheerful giggle, but, ever since he had that strange dream, he began to feel kind of bummed.

“It’s about time you got up,” Misty snapped as she walked back to the campsite with the water, “How about getting the blanket and dishes ready so we can eat!”

A few minutes later everyone was sitting on the blanket, eating the omelets Brock had cooked up. Pikachu, Togepi, and all the other Pokémon enjoyed their chow on the grass. Brock and Misty finished their meal in just two minutes.

“Hey, Ash,” Misty said suddenly, “what’s wrong?”

Misty noticed that Ash hadn’t finished his omelet. In fact, he had only eaten two bites before he began to pick at it with his fork. She also noticed the look on his face: he seemed listless, almost...unhappy.

Brock stepped in, “Yeah, you’re not your same old ‘look out world, here I come’ self this morning.”

Ash didn’t answer, nor did he acknowledge what they said. All he could think about was the subject in his dream.

“I wonder where he is?” he thought, “Why didn’t he come back yet? Did something...?”

“PIKA!”

“YOW!”

SPLAT!

Pikachu noticed that Ash wasn’t even listening to his friends, and shouted in his ear to “wake him up” as it were. Ash jumped, and spilled the rest of his breakfast right in his lap. Misty and Brock tried to repress themselves, but they burst out laughing. I guess they probably expected Ash to laugh too, because they were very surprised by the angry look on his face.

He stood up, grabbed his backpack and shouted, “I’m going to the river to wash up! I don’t want anyone bothering me!” before stomping off downhill. Everyone just sat there, staring.

“Gosh,” Misty said, “I never expected him to react like that.”

“Me neither,” Brock replied.

“I think I’ll go down and see if he’s alright.” Misty stood and was about to leave, when Brock stopped her.

“No, we’d better not. Let him blow off a little steam first, then we’ll check on him.”

“Okay…still, I wish I knew what was wrong.” She sat back down and began to clear off the blanket.

“He’s probably just excited to be going back home. I bet that, the minute he walks in the door and sees his Mom, he’ll be laughing again in no time.” Brock tried to sound reassuring, but he was just as worried about Ash as Misty was.

“I hope you’re right,” she said.

“Pika chu…” Pikachu nodded sadly.



Meanwhile…

“AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!”

After a long walk and nothing to eat, Jessie, James, and Meowth finally made it to the new Team Rocket Headquarters Building. The large white marble mansion towered over the threesome as if it didn’t welcome visitors. Aside from that, what they mostly feared was their boss. After their humiliating defeat at the Johto League by Ash, Giovanni had sent them a letter, by Spearow, to go to the new Headquarters immediately.

Just as they pressed the button on the front door’s intercom to announce their arrival, a trap door opened up, causing the group to drop at least 10 feet before hitting the ground. After landing, four Grunts grabbed them and led them into a large room at the end of a long hallway.

“Shut the door on your way out,” said a voice.

The four guards left the room and shut the door, leaving their fellow members alone with whoever was inside. They looked nervously around the room, trying (and hoping not) to find the speaker. Suddenly, Meowth gasped.

“What’s the matter with you, Meowth?” Jessie whispered.

Meowth then pointed a shaky claw at a window straight ahead. Jessie and James looked up, and froze.

Standing at the window, back turned towards them, was a man, wearing a bright-orange business suit, who was possibly between 35 and 40 years of age. He had a slightly muscular build, short black hair, a clean-shaven face, and piercing brown eyes. Standing beside him, growling and glaring at the frightened bunch, was a Persian. The entire room was silent for what seemed like hours, but when he finally spoke, the three behind him nearly jumped out of their skins.

“You idiots have disappointed me too many times. I have given you such simple assignments that even a rookie would easily pull off, and yet all you have managed to steal was a weak little Togepi. If it weren’t for the magnificent efforts of all your fellow Rockets, we would’ve been a laughing stock long ago.”

“We understand your disappointment, Boss,” James stepped in, “You see, we would have given you a palace full of Pokémon three years ago, including that Pikachu, but ever since we crossed paths with those meddlesome...”

“SILENCE!” Giovanni shouted angrily, “And that’s another thing: I have had it with your pathetic excuses AND with your pointless crusade. I am giving you fools one last chance to prove yourselves - and this time, I want you to concentrate on fetching me a variety of Pokémon, not just on one useless Pikachu.”

“But, Boss,” Meowth said, “you don’t understand; this Pikachu ain’t nothin’ like all de other Pikachus you’ve see before.”

“What are you talking about, you fleabag?” he asked.

Meowth continued, “It’s like dis: Pikachu is not only faster and stronger than the average Pikachu, but it’s also capable of learning some attacks much faster too. It’s quite a remarkable Pokémon, Boss.”

Giovanni slowly turned his head and looked at Meowth. “Hmm...intriguing. Anything else I need to know about this ‘rare’ Pokémon, Meowth?”

It was then that Jessie stepped in, “Well, sir, only that it has been traveling with a group of brats for the past three years. One used to be the Pewter Gym Leader; the other is one of the Cerulean Gym Leader Sisters. The last one, the one who trains the Pikachu, is just a twerp from Pallet Town.”

Suddenly, Giovanni swung completely around and looked in their direction, wearing a very surprised look on his face. “Where did you say this child was from?”

The three of them started at his face, but Jessie continued, “P-Pallet...T-Town,” she stammered.

“What gender?” he demanded. Jessie, James, and Meowth just looked at each other in confusion. “BOY OR GIRL, YOU DOLTS?”

“B-B-Boy,” they all said together.

“I believe he is called Ash, sir,” James added.

“Ash...” Giovanni turned to look out the window again. He placed his palms on the windowsill, laid his forehead against the glass, and sighed.

He was silent again for a long while, until Meowth asked, “Hey, Boss, is somethin’ botherin’ ya?”

Giovanni chuckled, and then turned to face them again.

“Ash, is it? Hm-hm-hm-hm...I would like to meet this boy.”

“Leave it to us, Boss,” Jessie chimed in, “we shall fetch this troublemaker for you.”

“No, I will handle this myself.”

The three of them were very shocked to hear this. “Your’e going yourself?!” they exclaimed. Instead of answering, he pressed a red button on the wall behind him. Almost immediately, a guard walked in.

“Yes, sir?”

“Have my private helicopter ready for departure. I will be leaving for Pallet Town first thing tomorrow morning.” The guard saluted, and left.
 
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Zimmy

Mew in hiding!
Ooooooh! I'm captivated! I can't find anything wrong with it either!

Keep writing! ;151;
 

WaterTrainer243

Veteran Water Lover
Now I'll admit ZeldaFan, when I first read the opening of this story do you know what it reminded me of? The opening reminded me SO much of an episode of an anime called Monster Rancher. Something tells me you borrowed that scene from that episode. Still good though.
 
P

PokeManiac

Guest
I think I read it the first time you posted it. It really sounds like monster rancher, but its fine. The length was good, and so was description. Keep it up!
 

ZeldaFan20

Coral Eye Trainer
Uh...Monster-who? I don't think I've seen that one. Then again, I've only seen a small handful of Animes. Anyway, it's good to know that there are people who still like my work. Next update is coming up tomorrow, so stay tuned.
 

Breezy

Well-Known Member
Good story Zeldafan! ^_^ Description and dialouge were pretty good along with spelling and grammer. So fun lol.

Only real problem I see (hell, I dunno if its a problem period) is that you tend to switch from typing the numbers to using the actual numbers. Pick one and stick with it (I would chose typing them out though, some people get bugged by 'em lol).

But overall, Breezy likes a lot, she'll think it turn out to be a great fic.

LaTeR dAyZ!
 

ZeldaFan20

Coral Eye Trainer
Hmm...well, I mostly use numbers for times, dates, and other "narrative numbers" (at least, that's what I call it when it is the writer---not the character---who says things like age, size, and all that other stuff). I've read some books that do the same thing, so I thought it would be okay.

Anyway, I've got the next chapter up---just like I said. It's pretty long (about ten MSW pages), so be prepared for some serious reading.





Chapter Two



After cleaning up their picnic area, Brock and Misty started packing up their backpacks. All the while, Ash still hadn’t returned from the river, and his Pokémon were beginning to worry (except for Croconaw, who was having fun juggling some rocks with its Water Gun).

“Togepi?” Misty said suddenly, looking around to see where her tiny Pokémon had gone, “Togepi, where are you?”

“Quil,” Quilava answered, pointing to Ash’s sleeping bag.

Everyone looked: Togepi was sitting on the grass and laughing while playing with something yellow. Misty walked over and lifted the little creature up in her arms.

“Togepi, what did I say about...huh?”

She then noticed the yellow thing and picked it up: it was a small piece of yellow cloth, a bright-orange trim along three edges (the other edge looked like it had been torn off).

“I don’t get it,” Misty said as she handed the cloth to Brock, “why would anyone leave a ragged piece of fabric in the middle of the woods?”

“You mean blanket,” Brock corrected her.

“Huh?” Misty wondered.

“Misty, this is a piece of an old baby blanket; from the colors I’d say it’s a ‘Pikachu-Pichu blanket’.”

“I thought they stopped making those blankets three years ago.”

“They did, but something else is strange: it’s supposed to have that picture of a parent Pikachu and its baby Pichu on the corner of one side; but, apparently, that side was ripped off.”

While they tried to figure out the old blanket, Pikachu noticed something else near the sleeping bag (more accurately, where Togepi was playing). There, it saw what looked like a scrap of paper; on it were what seemed like two people holding a little yellow bundle. It picked the paper up in its mouth and ran over to the two humans.

“Mi..Miii,” it mumbled before putting it in Misty’s lap.

“What’s this, Pikachu?” she asked.

“It must have fallen out of the blanket when you picked it up,” Brock answered, “It’s a photograph---dated almost thirteen years ago.”

They all took a good look at the photo: the two people were a young man and woman, possibly ranging from mid- to late-twenties. The yellow bundle they carried wasn’t really a bundle, but a tiny baby wrapped in the same yellow blanket.

Brock gasped when he saw the lady. “Wow, Mrs. Ketchum looks really pretty, except her hair is much shorter in this shot.”

Misty looked at him in surprise, “How do you know that the lady is Mrs. Ketchum?”

“I recognize those baby-blue eyes and that bright red hair anywhere,” he replied dreamily.

Misty rolled her eyes at his remark, until a sudden thought entered her mind; “So...if this is Ash’s Mom...then that means.........Oh my gosh, it IS!” she laughed out loud, looking at the baby, “Wow, I didn’t know Ash was such a cutie!”

All the Pokémon got closer to see little baby Ash, until a familiar voice from behind said:

“What do you mean was?”

The whole group turned around: Ash was standing right behind them; his backpack swung over his right shoulder, and his left hand resting on his hip. He had changed into his orange-and-white striped T-shirt and denim shorts. His hair was combed but still wet, and he wore a slightly embarrassed (as well as sarcastic) smile on his face. Seeing the blanket and picture his friends were holding, he chuckled to himself.

“So this is where I dropped them. I guess I should be more careful the next time I get mad.”

His friends stood up and immediately handed back his missing items.

“We’re very sorry, Ash---about what happened a little while ago,” Misty said hastily.

“Yeah, very...and we didn’t mean to pry or anything,” Brock said, hinting at the cloth and photo, “It’s just that, until now, we didn’t know these were yours.”

Ash nodded. “It’s okay, I know you guys didn’t, and I’ve gotten over what happened. Sorry for getting angry like that; it’s just that I don’t like being interrupted when I’m thinking about my dad.”

“Your dad?!” they both exclaimed.

Ash packed up his stuff and stood up. “I’ll explain on the way home, if you like. Right now, let’s get going; I wanna see Mom. Return!”

All the Pokémon were transported to their Poké Balls (except for Pikachu, who rode on Ash’s shoulder), and the whole party set off again. Ash walked ahead; Brock and Misty smiled amusingly at each other as they brought up the rear.



The whole party was almost halfway to the edge of the woods when Ash began his story. As he talked, the happy and excited tone in his voice told his friends how much he admired his dad.

“When my parents first met, they were still in school; Mom was studying plants and flowers, and Dad was learning about Pokémon breeding (not to mention he was also a good Pokémon trainer).”

“I like your dad already,” Brock said, with a gleam in his eye. Everyone in the group knew how much he wanted to become a Pokémon breeder. It was his childhood dream, and he was willing to do everything possible to fulfill that dream.

“Quiet, Brock,” Misty whispered, “You’re interrupting Ash.”

“Well,” Ash continued, “I remember hearing that my dad came from a very rich family, but my grandparents didn’t like what he was doing; they wanted him to be a part of their ‘business firm’...or something like that.”

“What kind of business did they run?” Misty asked.

“I don’t really know; my dad never seemed to want to talk about it. In fact, he didn’t even like it when anyone mentioned my grandparents. Anyway, they fell in love in school. A few months after they graduated, they married secretly.”

“Why secretly?” asked Misty, curiously.

“When my parents were still dating, Grandma and Grandpa didn’t like Mom very much: something about ‘tracks’?”

“Ah,” Brock replied, “You mean they were on ‘different sides of the tracks’.”

Ash and Misty both looked at him, “Huh?”

“Guys,” Brock explained, “it just means that Mr. and Mrs. Ketchum were from different social classes. Ash’s dad is from a wealthy family, and they didn’t like his mom because her family probably didn’t make that much money at the time.”

Ash laughed at himself. “Yeah, that’s right. Now where was I...oh yeah: after the wedding, they moved to Pallet Town, where they stayed with Professor Oak until they could buy a house for themselves. Mom got a job at the greenhouse and Dad worked as Professor Oak’s assistant for a while.

“Since this is becoming a long story I’ll skip the part about me being born. When I was a little older, my dad and I used to play with his Pokémon in the fields (I forgot to mention that he loved to train Ground-types), and...”

“Did you say he trained Ground-types?” Brock exclaimed happily, “That’s almost like training Rock-types! I think I’ve found a new role-model!”

“BROCK!” Misty shouted angrily.

Ash continued, “My dad also used to tell me stories about his Pokémon journeys every night before I went to sleep.” He paused. “My favorite stories were the ones about the Legendary Pokémon, Ho-oh. I would sit on my bed and listen as he described its majestic beauty: the rainbow-colored feathers, the graceful body...” He paused again, but when he resumed, Brock and Misty noticed the same sad expression they saw earlier.

“Those happy days didn’t last very long, though. After I turned six, Dad told me that he had to go away, and that he didn’t know when he would be back.

“The night before he left, I couldn’t sleep. It was really late and, except for the rain I heard outside that night, it was too quiet. I was so sad and scared that I cried. Dad came in and asked me what was wrong. I told him that I didn’t want him to go, but he promised he would always write to Mom and me. As he tucked me into bed, I told him that I wanted to be a Pokémon trainer, just like him. He smiled at me and said that, somehow, he would find a way to help me reach my dream.

“Because I fell asleep so late, I had woken up late. When I did I saw that it was still raining: I was happy because I thought Dad wouldn’t be able to leave at the moment. When I ran downstairs for breakfast, though, Mom told me that he had left a couple of minutes before: she was crying almost as much as I was.

“I thought I could catch him in time to say ‘good-bye’, so I ran outside. I ran through the rain to a cliff that overlooked the path to the woods; I could see my dad walking along that path. I called to him: he smiled and waved ‘good-bye’ to me. I cried as I watched him disappear into the trees.”

Brock and Misty saw Ash quickly wipe a tear from his cheek, but they didn’t say anything.

Brock knew how Ash felt: he remembered when his dad left on his Pokémon journey, leaving him to care for his younger brothers and sisters.

“Did your father keep his promises?” he asked.

Ash smiled and gave a nod. “Yup, even after he left, he never failed to let me know how he was doing. He sent me letters, postcards, even e-mails. He also sent me money for my birthday, so that I could buy my own presents and pretend they were from him” (Ash let out a light chuckle). “The promise about helping me train Pokémon was no lie either: he sent the registry forms to the Pokémon League so that I could get my Trainer’s License.”

“Gosh,” Misty said, “it looks like your father’s done everything for you, hasn’t he?”

“Yeah, I guess he has,” Ash agreed.

“Hey, guys,” Brock said suddenly, “haven’t you noticed where we are?”

Everyone looked around. During the story they had made it out of the forest into Pallet Town; they were now on the hill overlooking Ash’s house. They saw Mrs. Ketchum working in her garden; her Mr. Mime, Mimie, was sweeping the front porch.

Ash laughed out loud as he raced downhill towards the front door, his friends running close behind him.

“Hey, Mom,” he called out, “Mom, we’re home!”

Delia started at the sound of her name. Turning her head she could see Ash running towards her at high speed, wearing the biggest smile imaginable.

“Ash,” she yelled, “don’t run like that; the grass is...”

But it was too late. Ash stumbled on the wet green, and tried to keep his balance. Misty and Brock tried to slow down, but were caught in the flow and slid right into him, causing the whole party to literally go ‘tumbling down,’ and land in a heap right in front of Delia.

“Slippery,” she giggled sheepishly, realizing that she spoke up too late.

“Mime mime, mister mime!” said Mimie as it stood everyone up, picked up the feather duster, and proceeded to dust them all off. Ash choked through the dust cloud it was making. His friends did the same.

“Mimie...that’s enough,” he said through coughing. When the dust finally cleared, Ash ran right over to his Mom and gave her a big hug.

“My word,” Delia replied as she put her arms around him, “what’s this for?”

“I just wanted to say that it’s great to finally be home, and...I love you, Mom.”

Delia smiled her warm motherly smile as she gazed into those bright, hopeful brown eyes that were her son’s. She could truly see his sincerity in them...but, at the same time, she noticed a little heartbreak in his tears, which were just starting to form. It was then that she asked,

“You were thinking about him again, weren’t you?”

Ash looked at her in surprise. He wondered how she could have known what was wrong. Then he smiled, more to himself than to her; he knew that it was almost impossible for anyone to keep secrets from their mothers. He then laid his cheek on her shoulder, and they held each other tighter.

From behind, Misty was happily watching them, until Brock touched her on the shoulder.

“These two probably want to be alone. Why don’t we head over to the Lab and talk with the Professor? He can always catch up later.”

Misty nodded. She then turned to Ash.

“Hey, Ash, Brock and I are going to head over to Professor Oak’s Lab. Is it okay if we bring Pikachu with us?”

Ash, not wanting to break away from his mother to answer, gave her the ‘thumbs up’ sign with his left hand.

“Pika,” chirped Pikachu as it hopped onto Misty’s shoulder.

“Okay,” Brock said as he and Misty walked away, “We’ll be back in a few minutes.”



As they approached the Lab building, Misty giggled to herself and asked, “Do you think they’ve stopped hugging yet?”

Brock looked at her. “Why do you ask?”

“Oh, I don’t know; it’s just that...well...we’ve never actually seen Ash hug his mother like that. When you think about it, it’s actually kind of strange.”

“I don’t see anything strange about it. It’s perfectly natural for kids to hug their parents, especially if they’ve been apart for a long time. Remember, Ash hasn’t seen his mom since the incident with Entei.” Brock thought to himself for a few seconds. “Also, I think that---like many boys his age---he feels a little embarrassed about hugging her in public. I should know; I was like that once myself.”

Then, as they arrived at the front door and rang the doorbell, a thought suddenly occurred to Misty, and her eyes opened wide.

“Hey, speaking of age,” she said, “isn’t Ash’s birthday coming up soon?”

“Yes---tomorrow actually,” said a voice.

The two travelers jumped and looked in front of them. The door had opened while they were talking. There to greet them was neither Professor Oak, nor their friend Tracey; it was not even Gary.

A young girl around Misty’s age, with long brown hair, bright blue eyes, a white T-shirt and denim overalls, stood in the doorway. She looked at them with a friendly smile.

Misty was still wondering who she was when Brock’s face turned bright red and he quickly took both of the girl’s hands in his.

“Hello there. May a weary Pokémon trainer, who is on his way to see the accomplished occupant of this facility, have the name of such a divine creature as yourself?”

“Oh brother,” Misty thought grimily, “not again.”

The girl smiled and giggled, “Hello, my name is Daisy. If you’ve come here to see Grandpa, he’s out in the field feeding the Pokémon.”

“Oh, Daisy,” Brock said dreamily, “my name is Brock, and what would please me more than anything is to have your promise of...OWOWOWOW!” Before he could finish, Misty had grabbed him by the ear and shoved him onto the dirt path.

“Turn off the hot air and get some fresh air, Romeo,” she shouted. Then she turned to Daisy. “Excuse me, but I didn’t know that Professor Oak had any other grandchildren.”

Daisy laughed. “I guess neither Ash nor my younger brother, Gary, remembered to mention me. Oh well, it’s not surprising; after all, they’ve been busy with Pokémon training ever since they started their journeys. Anyway, follow me; I’ll take you to see Grandpa. I was just going to help him out when you guys came over.”

So the three of them went inside, unaware of the unusual turn of events that were taking place at the exact same moment...



Daisy led the pair down the main hall, past the main lab, to the back area of the building.

Misty couldn’t help noticing how spotless the entire interior looked: the floors shined as if they were freshly mopped, the restrooms (as they passed them) sparkled and gave off a hint of spring flowers, and---as they passed through the living room, she thought she could smell oranges coming from the wooden furniture.

“Do you like it?” Daisy asked when she noticed Misty’s pleasant expression, “I cleaned and polished around here myself.”

“It’s very nice,” Misty replied, “and you certainly have a way with fragrances.”

“Thanks, I’m especially fond of rose and lavender. Of course, I try to use a variety of smells for my relaxation method.”

“What method do you use?” Brock asked with a dreamy look in his eye.

“A few days ago, I realized that my Grandpa was working too hard and was getting very uptight. So I’m using ‘aromatherapy’ to try to lighten the mood and get him to relax more.”

“I’ve heard of ‘aromatherapy’,” Misty said, “my sisters used to do that before and after their diving shows back home in Cerulean City. You use different scents (like oils or incense) to stimulate specific senses in the body.”

Daisy nodded. “That’s right, Misty. However, Grandpa doesn’t like my idea very much; he says it’s ‘too old-fashioned’ and that it makes the house stuffy. In fact, he wanted me to leave all the windows open to air the rooms out. Honestly, he’s so silly sometimes...oh, hi there, Tracey.”

The three of them stopped. In the hallway just ahead, a young boy around Brock’s age, black hair, a green T-shirt, and red shorts, was walking towards the back door carrying a large sack of what appeared to be Pokémon feed. As Daisy said “hi,” he put the heavy sack on the floor, wiped his brow, and smiled.

“Hi, Daisy,” he answered. Then he noticed the two visitors behind her, and broke out in a big grin. “Brock, Misty, Pikachu, Togepi!”

“Pi pika pi!” exclaimed Pikachu.

“Toci-priii!” Togepi chimed happily.

Tracey ran over and the five friends were locked in a group hug. They were all so busy talking about Ash’s outcome in the Johto League that they failed to notice the back door open and Professor Oak walk in.

He wasn’t wearing his usual white lab coat and pants. Instead, he was in a red-plaid T-shirt, dark-blue overalls, black rubber boots, and a big straw sun hat: he had just come in from making his rounds in the barns and fields.

“Brock, Misty,” he said as he saw the group in the hall ahead of him, “welcome back.”

Everyone turned and smiled when they saw him. Misty and Brock both said “hi” and walked over to see him.

“Tracey, Daisy, will you both take that sack of food out to the Tauros, please?”

“Sure, Grandpa,” Daisy said.

“Okay, Professor,” Tracey replied. He turned to his friends, “We’ll be right back, guys.” The two of them picked up the sack and took it outside, leaving the others in the hallway.

“First of all,” said the Professor, “let’s go into the living room; we’ll talk there.” As they entered the living room, Professor Oak asked, “Where is Ash? Shouldn’t he be here?”

Misty giggled. “Last time we looked, he and his Mom were ‘having a moment’ (so to speak).”

“What she means is,” Brock interrupted, “we felt it was best to give them some time alone. You know what I mean?”

Oak gave a content laugh. “Well, I suppose it’s understandable. After all, a mother and child should spend every moment of their time together. Anyway, let me change clothes and we’ll have some tea. I’ll be right back,” and he left the room. In the hall he ran into Daisy.

“Daisy, dear, would you be so kind as to prepare some tea for our guests?”

“Sure, Grandpa,” she replied, and she headed to the kitchen.

A few minutes later, the company was talking over tea and cookies. Oak was pleased to hear about all of Ash’s adventures in Johto, but he was especially interested in what had happened that particular morning.

As Misty told him about Ash’s outburst, the Professor nodded his head.

“Yes, I agree with you; it really is rare to see him express anger in that fashion. But then, that usually happens to young children when they are about to turn thirteen years old. I would probably say it’s just hormones, but we all know that Ash misses his father very much.”

“So, you did know his father?” Misty asked.

“Of course, George Ketchum was the finest assistant I ever knew. He was very knowledgeable when it came to Pokémon. He took his position very seriously, but he was a kind and devoted family man; even Gary and Daisy were fond of him. It was very sad when we heard he was leaving, but George never failed to keep in touch.”

It was then that Brock spoke up. “Excuse me, Professor, but Ash told us that...uh...George...didn’t get along very well with his family. Why not?”

At that moment, the front doorbell gave a loud DING-DONG.

“Daisy,” he said hastily, “answer that, please? It might be Ash now.”

Daisy nodded and walked away. Oak then turned to Brock and Misty, wearing a very serious look on his face.

“Mind you,” he whispered, “Ash doesn’t know about what I’m about to say.”

The two friends agreed, and he began to speak:

“I’m not sure I know all of the details but, from what I know, George’s parents were very troublesome people. In fact, it was said that they were involved in some illegal activities.”

Misty gasped, and Brock looked very concerned.

“You mean like ‘bank-robbery’ or ‘counterfeiting’?” he asked.

“Well...no, it had more to do with Pokémon trafficking. From what he told me, their business was sort of like how the Mafia works in America.”

At the word ‘Mafia’, Brock and Misty nearly spilt their tea. They could feel an uneasy sensation in their stomachs; their blood began to freeze.

“Oh man,” Brock whispered to himself.

“Poor Ash,” Misty said sadly, “What if he finds out about...”

“He won’t,” the Professor answered, pointing his finger at them, “he mustn’t; I promised myself and George that Ash wouldn’t find out about this.” Then he heard footsteps coming from the hall, and abruptly changed the subject.

“So, my friends,” he said in a clearer, yet soft voice, “I was wondering if you could help me and Delia out: we are planning to have a surprise birthday party for Ash right here at the Lab. We need some help decorating and preparing party food. Are you interested?”

“Say no more,” Brock said, suddenly cheering up, “I’ll have a great party meal planned in no time! Hey, I’ll even make it myself.”

Misty brightened also at the thought of helping out, “I can help with decorations. I used to help my parents decorate for family functions.”

The door opened, and in walked Daisy. Everyone saw that she wore an expression of sheer distress.

“Well,” Oak asked, “is it Ash?”

Daisy slowly shook her head. “No, Grandpa...it’s Gary.”

“What’s the problem?” he asked.

She entered the room and stood right next to the doorway.

“Come in here, Gary,” she said.

Gary walked in. When he did, everyone stood straight up. Brock stood still as a statue. Misty opened her eyes wide, cupped her hands over her mouth, and gasped. Professor Oak’s curious expression suddenly changed to a combination of shock and concern.
 
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Zimmy

Mew in hiding!
Whoopsie! You must have pressed Ctrl+V twice there, Zeldafan20!

Anyway, review: Is a great fic so far, I can really picture most of it! Especially that bit at the beginning of the first chapter. I was in shock during my last review ;)

Keep Writing! ;151;
 

ZeldaFan20

Coral Eye Trainer
Yikes, I can't believe I did that. Thanks for pointing it out; I've just fixed it, so it should look much better.
 
M

Mistystar89

Guest
Very well done Zeldafan20. I like this story so far. It's very descriptive and has a nice plot. Gee, I wonder what happened to Gary that made everyone so shocked...anyway, great story! ;) Can't wait for the next chapter!

Mist
 

ZeldaFan20

Coral Eye Trainer
Wonder no more, because I've got the next one right here.





Chapter Three



It was awful. When Gary entered the room, everyone was in complete shock at the sight of him.

His hair and clothes were filthy, but only his clothes looked like they had been ripped to shreds. They also noticed several scrapes and bruises on his bare arms. A gigantic bruise surrounded his right eye, and his left cheek was swelling very badly: both injuries were nearly the size of Poké Balls. Little streams of blood were trickling down from both corners of his mouth. To put it mildly, he was a complete mess.

Professor Oak gently took him by the arm, led him to the sofa, and sat down next to him, while Daisy ran to the kitchen to fetch a wet sponge and two ice packs. Misty sat on the other side of him, and Brock fixed him a cup of tea.

“What in the world happened to you, Gary?” Brock asked as he handed Gary the cup. He took a small sip before answering.

“I just got into a fight, that’s all.” He did his best to sound like his usual tough-guy self, but the slight wavering in his voice gave him away.

Professor Oak, who had his arm around Gary’s shoulders, took his face in his hand and gave it a good looking-over. Meanwhile, Daisy came back, wiped his face with the sponge, and put the ice packs over his eye and cheek.

“Hmm...well these bruises certainly didn’t come from a Pokémon battle,” Professor Oak said, “You’ve been in a fist-fight, haven’t you?”

Gary coughed, and nodded.

“With whom?”

Gary leaned his head back, and let out a shuddered sigh. Then, without moving, he began to tell them what happened.

__________________________________________________ _______________________________________________


A few minutes after Brock and Misty left the Ketchum household, Gary walked up along the dirt road. He was also heading home after his defeat at the Johto League games, and he was none too happy. His Umbreon walked silently beside its unhappy master; it too felt ashamed of its defeat.

The two travelers stopped at the base of the hill to rest. Gary sat still, looking at the beautiful field of flowers before him. He couldn’t stop thinking to himself, “Where did I go wrong this time? How could I lose?”

“Umbre,” Umbreon suddenly leapt onto his lap and began to nuzzle his chest.

Gary couldn’t help but smile as he gently stroked its black-and-gold fur. Then he stood up---still holding the little creature in his arms---with a look of sheer determination on his face.

“It won’t happen again, Umbreon. We’re all going to train harder until we’re much better. Whether or not Ash just got lucky doesn’t matter now; I know the future will be much brighter for us, but only if we work for it, right?”

“Umbre!” Umbreon agreed happily.

At that moment, both thought that they heard a familiar voice laughing and saying:

“Lunch time!”

Gary ran to the top of the hill with Umbreon right behind him. What he saw when stopped made him fume.

At the foot of the hill was Ash’s house. Mimie had resumed cleaning the front porch. The sound of a vacuum cleaner told him that Delia was cleaning indoors. Right next to the garden were many other Pokémon, all of whom Gary recognized, eating from little bowls. And right among the entire herd was Ash himself, smiling over his hungry little friends.

“Well, well, well, look who I find here.”

Gary, without thinking first, had nimbly slid down the hill and walked over to the group, with Umbreon at his heels.

Ash turned his head and looked surprisingly at Gary, but then he turned back and grinned casually.

“Oh, hi there, Gary.”

His acquaintance frowned at this greeting before releasing a haughty smirk.

“I certainly didn’t expect you to get here before me.”

Ash laughed, “Well, life’s full of surprises. Besides, I guess I was more anxious to see my family than you were."

That’s where Gary really started to forget himself. "What family? Everyone knows that it takes three to make a family.”

Without looking at the speaker, Ash’s face fell, “Oh? And I suppose that you, Daisy, and your Grandfather are the perfect family?”

Gary crossed his arms behind his head, “Well, we might not be the ‘perfect’ family, but at least we are a family.”

“Isn’t it funny, though,” Ash said, in a voice that was increasing in displeasure, “that ever since before we’ve started training Pokémon, your parents seem to have suddenly...umm...dropped from the public eye? Where are they anyway?”

Gary’s face darkened, “You and I both know that they’re on that expedition in Africa. Hey, at least I know where my folks are.”

Ash clenched his teeth and fists as he heard these words. They cut him. He knew that, even though his father always wrote to him, the letters never said where he was. He took a deep breath, and turned to face Gary. However, the way he spoke made the Pokémon nervous, and they all began to slink away.

“C’mon, Gary, my dad has a big business to run. He can’t help it if it takes up so much of his time, and you know it!”

"Face it, Ashy Boy," Gary continued, his voice raised to something like passion, "your dad bailed on you! He bailed on your mom! He bailed on all of us! If he cared anything for us, he could’ve at least had the decency to call or visit!" While he talked he failed to notice that Ash’s face was turning redder by the second.

“You can slang me as much as you want,” he said through clenched teeth, “but I don’t see why you have bring my father into this pointless conversation! Why can’t you just back off, for once?!”

“Why can’t you just wake up and accept the fact that he’s NOT COMING BACK?!”

At this point Gary realized, a second too late, the fatal mistake he had just made. He saw Ash’s face turn from red to a sick white; the kind of white people look when they are angry---I mean really angry, more angry than they dare to be. He also noticed that the eyes seemed to grow increasingly dark, as if they had lost all the sight they had in them.

As Gary watched, his eyes became as large as dinner plates and he slapped both hands over his mouth; a cold sweat ran down his face as he began to speak.

“Hey, look Ash, I...I...I didn’t...” Before he could finish his attempt at apologizing, something happened that he would never forget.

Ash, in a blind rage and a roar that sounded very much like a wild Arcanine, lunged right at him. Both boys began to struggle furiously, each tearing at the other’s clothes in the process. In the struggle, they both fell to the ground and rolled around in the dusty road, Ash’s fingernails tearing at Gary’s now bare arms and Gary trying to push him away.

A few seconds later Gary was lying on his back, breathing heavily; Ash was sitting on his stomach. Gary watched as Ash angrily raised his right fist in the air. He was so scared that he almost didn’t feel the painful blow as it came down with full force right into his face. The other fist came down the same way, this time into his eye. The pause between punches only lasted three seconds at a time. During this time, Ash was shouting at him, giving him another punch with every word he said:

“DON’T...EVER...TALK...ABOUT...MY...DAD...LIKE...THAT...EVER...AGAIN!!!”

Meanwhile, the Pokémon were all cowering near the wall of the house, horrified as they watched their master hurting another human being (except for Snorlax, who had fallen asleep after eating such a big lunch). They had never seen him act this way before...ever.

Suddenly, without thinking first, they all rushed right over to scene, and started to yell at him, telling him to stop:

“MIIIIIME!!”

“MEGANIIIIIUUUUUM!!”

“CROCONAW!!”

“QUIIIIIIILLLLL!!”

Delia, upon hearing the commotion, rushed outside to the disaster. She screamed and tried to pull her son off of Gary, begging him to stop, only to get pushed right to the ground during the struggle.

Then Meganium, who wanted Ash to stop just as badly as the others, rushed over and unleashed its Vine Whip upon him. The vines entwined around his arms, legs, feet, wrists, and waist. When he was secured, Meganium tugged at the vines, causing the struggling Ash to fly through the air and land two feet away.

While he struggled to get free of the vines, Meganium used a little Sleep Powder to finally subdue him. He slowly fell into a deep sleep as the glittering powder fell over him like a gentle snowfall...

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________


“After the Pokémon got him off me,” Gary said breathing shakily, “his mom came over to me and asked if I was alright. I told her I was fine and that we had a little misunderstanding. She offered to help me, but I said ‘no’ and left; I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could before he woke up.”

Brock, Misty, Daisy, Professor Oak, and Tracey (who had come in during the story when he heard about what happened) looked at Gary, then to each other, and then back to Gary.

“I swear,” Gary continued, tears running down his face, “if I had known he would react like that, I wouldn’t have started that.”

“You shouldn’t have started at all,” Daisy told him angrily, “You know it hurts him when someone mentions his father.”

“I KNOW!” Gary sobbed, as he let his battered face fall into his hands.

“Pika pi,” said Pikachu, very frightened for its young master.

“Toci?” Togepi, being very young, didn’t understand the situation and was, therefore, very confused.

Professor Oak gently patted his grandson’s shoulder, “It’s alright, Gary, we’ll go over there and see if he’s alright.” Then he turned to the others, “Brock, Misty, Tracey, bring Pikachu and Togepi, and let’s go.” Everyone got up and started to leave.

“I’ll come too, Grandpa,” Daisy said, “I’m worried about Ash.”

“I appreciate your concern, Daisy, but I need you here to take care of your brother. When I come back, I’ll give you the details.”

Daisy nodded, and the others went out the door. She then took Gary by the hand, and carefully led him into the bathroom, all the while thinking to herself,

“I hope he’s alright.”



While all this was happening, Giovanni sat alone in his bedroom at Team Rocket Headquarters. He sat in a large red chair by the fireplace, staring at something in his hands; all the while, deeply lost in thought.

After his “meeting” with Jessie, James, and Meowth, he had them all locked up until he "had further use for them." Later, he had sent one of his Pidgeottos to Pallet Town to observe Ash (the one he sent was an incredibly fast flyer and one whom he knew could get such an assignment done in just a few hours).

He was staring so intensely at the object he was holding that Persian’s purrs and its rubbing against his leg were almost unnoticeable; it received a comforting pat on the head in return. Its purrs became louder and more cheerful.

Tap, tap, tap.

Giovanni turned towards the sound. The Pidgeotto was outside the window, tapping at the glass to come in. He stood up, hastily put the object into a little box on the mantelpiece, walked over, and opened the window.

All at once it flew into the room, and alighted on a large perch in the center. Giovanni then pressed the red button on the wall.

“Yes, sir?” asked the guard who came in.

“Bring me Meowth.”



A few minutes later, the guard came back carrying Meowth in his hands.

“Hey, watch the fur, ya big doofus,” Meowth shouted as he was dropped onto the floor, “You’re dealin’ with a rare Pokémon here!”

“Leave us,” Giovanni said to the guard, who promptly left the room.

Meowth looked nervously at his Boss (even more nervously at the Persian, who looked menacingly back at him).

“Uhh...*gulp*...what can I do for ya, Boss?”

Giovanni frowned at him, “Meowth, after our little ‘talk’, I instructed this Pidgeotto to go to Pallet Town and do a little ‘detective work’. Unfortunately, I have no knowledge of Pokémon speech: that’s where YOU can be useful.”

“Oh,” Meowth said suddenly, “Say no more, Boss. I’ll have the message for ya in a jiffy.”

He then walked over to the Pidgeotto, who just looked down at him.

“So, pal,” he began, “what’s the story on dis Ash kid?”

And Pidgeotto began to tell its story in its usual “Pidgo...pidgotto, pidgo,” with Meowth listening attentively, and Giovanni looking on.

“Uh-huh...yeah...yeah...........ya don’t say...............REALLY? Gee, I didn’t tink he could ever do dat...nothin’ too serious, I hope.........oh, good.........is that all?”

Pidgeotto nodded. Meowth turned back to the two spectators.

“Well?” asked an impatient Giovanni.

Meowth cleared his throat, “Well, Boss, it’s like dis guy here says: the twerp did get home okay, but afterwards he got into a fight with Oak’s grandkid; which, I might add, turned out to include more fists dan woids.”

Giovanni turned very pale when he heard this. “Are they both alright? Was anyone seriously hurt?!”

“Mainly Oak’s boy, Boss (a few bruises here and there), but not too bad. Apparently, the twoip’s own Pokémon broke up the fight: a little Sleep Powder and he was sleepin’ like a baby.”

Giovanni breathed a huge sigh of relief. Then he walked quickly to the wall and pressed the button again.

“Sir?” asked the guard.

“Is my private helicopter ready yet?”

“Yes, sir; just as you ordered, sir.”

“Good, because there has been a slight change in my plans for departure: instead of leaving in the morning, I want to leave immediately. Have the pilot ready by the time I get down there; I must pack a few things first. Oh, and have my little ‘gift’ brought to the helicopter also.”

“Yes, sir,” said the guard as he turned to go.

“Oh, and one more thing,” interrupted his employer.

The guard turned back around, “Sir?”

“Take Meowth back to his slacker pals in their cell.”

“Yes, sir.”

“WHAAAAAT?!” Meowth screeched.
 

HK

Radiance of Shadows
Interesting fic you have here ZeldaFan20. Grammar is good, spelling, etc. Plot does indeed to seem original. Never knew that Ash could turn out to be such a 'fighter'.

With the little clues that you have been giving us, it seems that Giovanni... nah... shouldn't give it away! By I'm sure that others can connect everything and figure it out. Anyway, hope to see more of your writing! Later.
 

ZeldaFan20

Coral Eye Trainer
Thanks; I've always been picky about grammer and spelling my whole life---I guess it just makes writing look a lot better.





Chapter Four



At that moment the entire party had arrived at Ash’s house; all were completely out of breath as Professor Oak calmly knocked on the door. They waited for nearly three minutes before the door opened.

Delia stood right in front of them. Her face was freshly washed and her hair had been combed. She looked at them with her same cheerful smile, but they all knew that she had been crying.

Before Delia could get a word out, Pikachu shot right past her into the house, and was just heading for the stairs to go to Ash’s room.

“Pikachu, no!” she called after the little yellow mouse, “Ash is resting right now; he can’t be disturbed.”

“Pika...” Pikachu stopped dead in its tracks, then slowly walked back to the group, its eyes filling up with tears. Delia picked it up and softly stroked its back.

“Don’t worry, Pikachu, Ash is alright; he just needs time to cool off. He’ll be awake very soon,” she checked her watch, “In half an hour, at the most.” Her attention then turned to Professor Oak. “By the way, Samuel, is Gary alright? Is he badly hurt?”

Oak gave a reassuring grin. “I’d say his pride was hurt more than his body, but he’ll survive. Anyway, I had already decided to come and see you today, before I received the news. I wanted to talk to you about...” He then took a quick look up the stairs, and then added in a lower voice, “about Ash’s birthday party tomorrow.”

Delia’s face lit up, “Oh, that’s right. Let’s all discuss this in the living room; I baked some fresh cookies this morning.”

As they began to file into the next room, Tracey felt a tug at his sleeve. He turned to see Misty looking at him with concern in her face. He also noticed that she had taken her shoes off.

“What’s wrong, Misty?” he proceeded to ask.

“Shh,” she whispered, “I’m really worried about Ash, Tracey. I’m going upstairs to check up on him. Can you watch Togepi for me?” She started to hand the little spiked-ball Pokémon to him.

“But, Misty,” Tracey whispered, very surprised, “Mrs. Ketchum said we weren’t supposed to go up there. If you wake him up, you’ll be in big trouble.”

“I promise I’ll be careful; just watch Togepi for a couple of minutes, please?”

Tracey sighed as he took Togepi in his hands, “Alright, but be very careful.”

“I will,” she said as she tiptoed towards the foot of the stairs. “Tell them I went to use the bathroom.”

Tracey nodded half-heartedly as he went to join the others.



Misty took cautious steps as she climbed the stairs to the second floor of the house. With every step she was afraid of a telltale creek which would cause Delia to come looking. As she climbed, she could hear Professor Oak talking:

“I was thinking of having the party outdoors, just like the one we threw when Ash made the Top Sixteen in the Indigo League two years ago. We could have a big buffet table near the back door of the house...and, of course, the Pokémon are more than welcome to help...” The voices faded as she reached the top.

The windows at both ends of the hallway were closed, allowing very little sunlight to come in, making the area look very eerie. There were four doors, two along each side of the hall; Misty remembered that Ash’s room was at the far end on the right, so she walked on.

When she reached the door, she hesitated, unsure of what to expect. Would he wake up when she walked in? Or was he awake already? She then gathered her strength, turned the knob, and slowly opened the door.

The entire room was dark, even darker than in the hall. Misty looked ahead towards the bedroom window: Delia had replaced the old shade with blinds. She tiptoed over, felt for the rod that would adjust the blinds, and proceeded to turn it in her hand. She opened the many slits of plastic to let just the right amount of daylight in; at least enough so that she wouldn’t bump into anything and wake the room’s sleeping occupant. She looked to her right.

Ash was laying peacefully on his right side; both hands lay in front of him on the bed, just below his chin. He had obviously been tossing and turning, since the quilt was crumbled near the foot. He still wore his hat, but his feet were bare.

Misty just stood there, looking at him, listening to his soft, steady breathing. She smiled, more at him than to herself.

“He looks so peaceful,” she thought, “just like the little baby in that picture.” Then she noticed his face: three small scratches could be seen on his left cheek, probably from the struggle with Gary. There were scratches on his arms too, but not quite as visible. She also noticed tear stains under his eyes, telling her that he had also been crying.

Misty wiped away her own tears, realizing that she didn’t have much time. Gently and carefully, she tugged his hat off (she froze when he gave a low moan) and placed it on the top left (her left) corner of the bed. Next, she took the quilt and placed it carefully over him, covering him up to his chin. Before closing the blinds again, she leaned over, pressed a soft kiss upon his forehead and whispered, “Happy Birthday, Ash,” into his ear.

He moved his head only slightly, but thankfully he didn’t wake up. So she closed the blinds, tiptoed to the door, took one last look at him, and closed the door softly behind her.



“Misty, are you alright?” Delia asked when Misty joined the others, “You took so long in the bathroom; I thought you might be ill.”

Misty gave a chuckle, “I’m alright; just had a little trouble, that’s all.” She sat down on the couch next to Tracey, who eagerly looked at her. She responded with a smile, one that told him Ash was okay and sleeping comfortably. She smiled at Pikachu too, who smiled back and looked very relieved.

“Well, Misty,” Professor Oak said as she helped herself to cookies and milk, “I was just telling Delia how eager you were to help in decorating for the party. Any ideas?”

Misty thought for a moment. “Well, I think we should have lots of colored streamers, as well as balloons---you know; those Pokémon-shaped balloons they hang up on Kid’s Day. And we should have some party games, too...”

“Like ‘Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Ponyta’,” Brock cut in.

Tracey shook his head, “I don’t think that would be age-appropriate for a thirteen-year-old, Brock.”

Brock laughed, “Yeah, I guess your right. Hey, how about Bobbing for Apples?”

“I don’t think so,” Delia giggled, “I still can’t get over what happened at his seventh birthday. Remember, Samuel?”

Professor Oak slapped his hand on his head as he laughed, “How could I forget! The children made such a mess; all that splashing and spraying...everyone got so soaked you’d think they’ve been in a swimming pool!” Everyone started to laugh, unaware of the sound of footsteps in the upstairs hall.

“Ah...it’s so nice to take a trip down Memory Lane once in a while,” Professor Oak said once they’d all calmed down.

Suddenly, a soft noise echoed from the hallway, causing the whole party to turn their heads. Ash stood there, looking very groggy. His jet-black hair was a little messy, and he blushed bright red as he rubbed his hand on his left cheek (evidently to nurse his scratches). He gave a sheepish look as he said,

“Umm......hi, guys.”

“Pika pi!” Pikachu ran over to its young master and jumped nimbly into his arms. This seemed to cheer him up a bit; he smiled at the little yellow mouse he held.

“Hey, Pikachu, were you good at Professor Oak’s?”

“Pika-chu,” Pikachu nodded.

“Are you feeling any better, Honey?” Delia asked.

Ash walked over and sat down next to her. “I’m not bad. Not great...but not bad.”

“Well, would you like some cookies and milk? I baked your favorite: chocolate chip.”

Ash didn’t feel very hungry at the moment. But, rather than say "no," he smiled and said, “Sure...why not.”



Ash just sat there, silently munching his cookie. He was trying so hard to forget what had just happened, but the more he did the more horrible he felt. Without realizing it, he leaned his head against Delia’s shoulder.

Delia laid her arm around her son’s shoulder. With her other hand she began to stroke the mass of soft, black hair that rested near her cheek.

While the others sat there, pretending not to notice, the doorbell rang.

“Oh, my,” Delia said as she sat up straight.

Brock started to get up, “Allow me, Mrs. Ketchum, I’ll get it for you.”

“It’s okay, Brock,” Ash said suddenly, “I’ll get it; it’s probably just the mailman.” Before anyone could say a word, Ash got up and walked to the door.

“Huh?...Daisy?” Ash said when he saw the pretty girl from Oak’s Lab standing right in front of him. In her arms, she carried a medium-sized rectangular package; it was wrapped in shiny blue gift wrap printed with snowflakes, and tied with a gold ribbon.

“Hiya, Ash,” Daisy replied with a smile, “I came to see how you were feeling, and...” she then held out the package in both hands, “to wish you a Happy Birthday. I know it's a little early, but I thought you might like this right now.”

Ash tried hard to repress a giggle when he saw the wrapping paper.

Daisy laughed, “I’m sorry, but Christmas wrap was all I could find. I’m going to go shopping later, though.”

Ash reached for the gift. “Thanks, Daisy, I really...” Suddenly, he stopped. Ash peered over Daisy’s shoulder and realized she wasn’t alone.

Gary was standing right behind her. He had recently taken a shower (the smell of lavender soap was unmistakable) and had some fresh clothes put on. The numerous scratches on his arms had been cleaned so well that they were hardly visible. The swelling in his face had reduced considerably; the bruises were still there, but they looked more pinkish than black-and-blue.

Ash also noticed that Gary wasn’t even looking at him, but was actually looking at the ground. He also seemed to notice a little shame and sadness on his face. Ash’s eyebrows lowered, but, strangely, he didn’t feel angry at all. In fact, he felt just as sad as Gary probably was.

Daisy broke the silence, “Oh, by the way, this guy here has something to tell you, so I think I’ll leave you two alone for a while. Say, do you know where everyone else is?”

Without taking his eyes off of Gary, the words “living room” softly broke from Ash’s lips. Daisy started to head down the hall when she noticed her brother’s hesitation.

“Gary,” she said sternly, “get inside and close the door; it’s a little windy outside.” Then she disappeared into the next room.

Gary shut the door as he came in. For a moment both boys neither spoke to nor looked at each other. The long pause made them feel terribly uncomfortable. Suddenly, Gary let out a long sigh and began to speak.

“Um...Ash? L....Look......I......I........well, what I mean to say is.......uh......after the Pokémon battle.....I guess I was still a little..........I wasn’t thinking.......and.......Oh, this is too hard! Look, Ash, what I’m trying to say is.......................I’m sorry.”

Upon hearing this, Ash’s face softened. He walked over to Gary and put a hand on his shoulder. Gary cringed.

“Relax, I’m not gonna bite this time,” Ash said. "Actually...I’m the one who should be sorry; I guess I wasn’t thinking either.” He then added, in a lower voice, “Just between you and me...I was almost thinking the same things you said about Dad. I try not to believe it, but sometimes it’s just so hard.”

Gary couldn’t believe what he was hearing. All his life he had always considered Ash as someone who never had a care in the world, who was always so happy and free-spirited; yet, there he stood, hearing Ash confess that he thought his father would never come back. It was almost too overwhelming to bear.

Once more, Gary forgot to think first: with a comforting smile on his face he lunged forward, encircled his arms around Ash, and gave him a small squeeze. Ash was startled at first, but then smiled and did the same. At that moment they were silent; no longer as rivals, but as friends.



A few minutes later, Ash and Gary joined the others in the living room. Everyone was so glad to know that they had patched things up.

Just then, Misty said, “Hey, Ash, why don’t you open Daisy’s present?”

“Yeah,” Brock agreed, “we want to see what it is.”

Ash hesitated as Daisy laid the gift in his lap. “Gosh, guys, it’s a little early. Do you think I should?”

“YES!” they all cried. Ash laughed as he held up the gift.

The box, he noticed, was too small and too heavy to contain clothes. Actually, it felt like wood rather than cardboard. As he tore off the wrapping, they all began to see what it was.

The box was made of wood, but it wasn’t really a box: it was a small cabinet. Inside they could see four tiny, blue-colored glass bottles, what looked like an oil diffuser, and a set of six little tea candles.

Misty realized something; “Hey, Daisy,” she asked, “isn’t this an Aromatherapy kit?”

Daisy smiled, “That’s right, Misty.” Then she turned to Ash, “You see, you put a little water into the diffuser here, and then you add exactly twelve drops of the oil you want. Next, you put the candle into the hole down here, light it, and it releases the fragrance into the air.”

“This is wonderful, Daisy,” Delia exclaimed, “Ash could use a little relaxation now and then.”

“Mom...” Ash said as he turned Daisy. “Thanks, Daisy, this is great.”

Since she was looking over his left shoulder, Ash leaned his head near hers and planted a quick kiss on her right cheek. Daisy giggled (as did everyone else) and turned bright red.

“Hey,” exclaimed Gary, half playfully, half annoyed, “What did I say a while back about kissing my sister?”

Misty and Brock just stared at him when he said this.

“You mean he’s done this before?” Misty asked.

Ash, pretending not to hear her question, smiled menacingly (with a touch of humor) at Gary. “Careful, pal; you wouldn’t want me to have another episode now, would you?”

“On second thought,” Gary said hastily, “never mind.”

Both boys laughed. After wondering what was so funny, everyone else started laughing as well.



Later that night, Ash lay asleep in his bed, with Pikachu curled up comfortably at the foot. His new oil diffuser had filled the room with the warm scent of chamomile. The rest of his present rested on his writing desk, which was near the door.

Because of the hot summer night, his mom let him leave the window open. Ash had fallen asleep listening to the soothing night sounds: crickets chirping, Hoothoots hooting, even the trickling waters of the river could be heard.

Around two in the morning, however, a different sound disturbed the peaceful night. Ash slept on at first, but then he slowly became aware of it and woke up. It was a noise he had not heard since his adventures in the Orange Islands: it was the sound of a helicopter.

Ash got up and looked out the window. Even with the full moon shining in the sky it was still too dark to see where it was, but Ash could tell by the sound.

It was coming from the woods.

“Pika?”

Pikachu woke up and found its master standing by the window. It jumped off the bed and onto the windowsill to see what he was looking at.

Normally, most people wouldn’t even care if a helicopter was nearby. Yet, who ever heard of hearing one close to their home at two in the morning? Something told Ash the same thing, and it also told him to go check it out. Without taking the time to get dressed, and with Pikachu following close behind, he slowly opened his door and tiptoed down the hallway to the stairs.

He could hear snoring as he cautiously made his way to the bottom. Then he remembered that Misty and Brock agreed to sleep in the living room; Misty was on the couch, Brock was on the floor (in his sleeping-bag).

“C’mon, Pikachu,” Ash whispered to his companion, as he edged the front door open.

“Pi pika pika,” Pikachu whispered back. The two friends, still on tiptoes, made their way outside and shut the door behind them.

They both started down the dirt path towards the woods; a slow walk at first, just so they wouldn’t make so much noise. Then, something stirred inside of Ash, which caused him to walk a little faster. Faster. Faster. Finally, he broke out into a run, with Pikachu running to keep up. He didn’t know what it was that told him to do so, but Ash realized that the entire moment seemed familiar. The last time he had run down this particular path, it was raining, and he was crying. Now, the night was clear, and he was more concerned than upset. At that moment, he stopped.

Ash was standing on the same cliff he had stood on almost seven years ago. Looking down he could see the dark mass of trees that were the woods, and yet, all was as quiet as it had been hours before: the helicopter could not be heard anymore. Ash guessed that it had flown away before he got there.

“Pika...chu...”

Ash felt Pikachu tug at his leg. The little yellow mouse was apparently nervous about being outside so late, for it was shaking with fear. Ash heard the wind whistle through the trees nearby as he looked at his watch: 2:45 AM.

“Yeah, you’re right,” he told Pikachu, “There’s nothing to see here. Let’s go back.” They both turned around to head back home. Suddenly, Ash stopped.

The whistling was heard again. However, that time, it didn’t sound like the wind. The whistling began again. This time, Ash was sure it wasn’t the wind: he’d heard a tune in that whistle; a tune he remembered hearing long ago. Turning back, he felt his heart literally leap into his throat.

A small beam of light appeared from the darkness of the forest; it was from a lantern. Carrying the lantern in one hand was a man; in his other hand was what looked like a medium-sized carrier. He wore the kind of clothes that hikers usually wear: hiking boots, kaki shorts and shirt, and a special kind of knapsack (the kind that also holds your sleeping-bag). The man wasn’t alone either: a Pokémon was walking beside him at a steady pace, but Ash still couldn't see what species it was.

As he looked on, hope surged through Ash’s body at lightning speed. He wanted to believe who that man was; and yet, he still wasn’t sure. Words were unable to come out of his mouth for a while. But then, one word came out; it came out so softly that not even he could hear it.

“...Dad?”
 

ZeldaFan20

Coral Eye Trainer
Chapter Five



Ash’s eyes filled to overflowing with tears, and yet he was literally quivering with happiness. He almost couldn’t believe what he was seeing: his father, George Ketchum, coming back home...back to his friends...to his family........to HIM.

At that moment, all Ash could think about was running right into his dad’s arms and giving him the biggest hug he had ever given. In fact.........he did just that! He sprang forward, almost forgetting that the entire hillside under the cliff was covered with rocks. But, by the time he remembered, it was too late. As he slid down the hill, the smaller rocks cut his bare feet, and when he was at least a foot from the ground he tripped over a large stone, causing him to fall flat on his face, right onto the grass below. Pikachu had jumped nimbly from rock to rock, and frantically checked Ash to make sure he was all right.

As Ash stood up, he winced; his left ankle had become injured in the fall. However, he was far too excited to even care. Forgetting how much it hurt, he still managed to resume his run (limping as he did so), despite Pikachu’s protests. He then noticed that they were on the dirt road, just under the cliff. Straight ahead he could see the bright beacon that his father held.

“DAAAAAAAD!” Ash cried out, laughing happily as well as crying.

At first, George did not even know who was coming towards him at such high speed, followed by a tiny Pokémon. He shined the light in that direction. His eyes opened wide as he noted the familiar features: the raven-black hair, the olive complexion, and (most of all) those brown eyes that always sparkle with innocence and laughter.

George nearly dropped what he was holding (lantern and all) when he finally realized who it was. Hastily placing the articles on the ground, he ran right towards Ash, tears of joy flowing from his own eyes.

“Ash! Ash, I’m right here, son!”

They reached for each other with open arms, laughing and crying at the same time. Finally, after seven long years apart, father and son were together again.

George picked Ash up under the arms, lifted him off the ground (grunting as he did so, for he could not believe how much the boy had grown in seven years), and twirled around in three full circles, with Ash’s hands on his shoulders. Both came to a complete stop, sank to their knees, and locked into what was probably the biggest hug in history; Ash’s arms were entwined around his father’s neck, while George gathered his son’s mid-section into his own arms.

“Dad...you’re home,” Ash sobbed.

“Yes, son,” George said softly, “I’m home.”

In this fashion George ran his fingers through Ash’s hair and pressed a hearty kiss on his right cheek. Ash could feel the wetness on his dad’s face as it mingled with his own happy tears.

Then, George checked himself, and placed Ash right in front of him so as to look into his face.

“Ash, is everything all right? Why are you out here so early in the morning?”

Ash wiped his eyes and observed the look of worry in his father’s face.

“I’m okay, Dad; it’s just that....well....I heard a helicopter coming from the woods. I thought it was strange to hear a helicopter around here so late, so I came to check it out.”

“You didn’t think of waking your mother?”

“Um...well, I...I...I had Pikachu with me.”

“Pika chu, pika!” Pikachu nodded cheerfully.

George smiled at the little mouse, but then turned back to Ash, “Still, you should have at least told your mother you were going out, or at least let her know that something was out here. Normally, I would be very disappointed in you........but, for now, I’ll let it go.”

Ash hung his head as his dad talked, but then perked up at the last sentence.

“Wait a minute,” he said suddenly, “you must’ve heard it too, right?”

George looked startled, “W-Well, yes...I did, but I didn’t want to get too involved in whatever was happening, so I kept walking.” Then he remembered something, “Oh, I almost forgot.” He turned around, without getting up, and whistled.

The Pokémon that traveled with him had walked calmly to the pair. It was gently carrying the carrier towards them in its mouth (by the handle), and holding the lantern in its tail. When it reached them, Ash was able to identify what species of Pokémon it was. He recognized the sleek coat, the piercing eyes, the paws, the whiskers, and what looked like a red jewel in the middle of its forehead. Pikachu recognized the species too: it was a Persian.

“Wow, Dad,” he exclaimed, “where’d you get that cool Persian?”

Before he could answer, George yawned. “Later, son; right now, I want to go back home and get some well-deserved sleep.”

Ash yawned too, “Yeah, me too. C’mon, let’s go home before everyone wakes...OW!” He had just started to stand up when he felt a sharp pain in his ankle. Ash sank back to the ground holding his foot.

George immediately leaned closer and looked at his ankle. “My goodness, what did you do to yourself?”

“I just...twisted it...it’s really not that bad.”

“Oh, it’s bad all right: it’s starting to swell. And look at both your feet?! Did you run all the way here without any shoes?”

Ash hung his head again and nodded.

George looked disapprovingly at Ash, but then he smiled and chuckled to himself.

“Ho hooo boy, little man, I don’t know why, but I find it very hard to believe that you are able to hurt yourself just when you’ve turned thirteen. Oh well...it looks like we’ll be going to bed a little later than we planned.” Just then, he turned around, rested Ash’s stomach on his back, wrapped an arm around each leg, and lifted him off the ground.

“Hey, Dad,” Ash said, sounding both surprised and amused, “what are you doing? I’m too big for piggy-back rides.”

“Persian,” he said to his Pokémon companion, “I’ll need you to carry the lantern and carrier for a little while longer.”

“Reeooow,” Persian nodded as it picked up the articles once again (Ash thought he’d seen the carrier move that time). Pikachu leaped onto Ash’s shoulder, and the party set off.

“By the way, Dad,” Ash inquired, “what exactly is in that carrier?”

George smiled, “Uh-uh-uh; you’ll have to wait until later this afternoon.”

“Awwww,” Ash whined, clearly disappointed.



When they arrived at the house, a small streak of crimson could be seen on the horizon. With Ash still on his back, George slowly opened the door, and they all went in.

George slipped off his boots and carried Ash to his bedroom. Fortunately, no one was up yet, but Brock’s snoring could still be heard. As they went upstairs, Ash explained to him that his friends were staying the night in the living room.

In the bedroom, George sat Ash on the bed. After retrieving the lantern from Persian, he reached into his knapsack, and pulled out a roll of white gauze bandage and a bag full of herbs. Then he took out his canteen and a small towel.

“What are those for?” Ash asked.

“I’m going to clean your feet,” he replied, and proceeded to do so. When they were dry he took some of the herbs, rubbed them in both hands, and applied them to Ash’s ankle. Then he took the bandage and wrapped it around the ankle, from above the swollen area to the arch of the foot, and tied both ends together.

“Is that too tight for you?” George asked.

Ash shook his head, “No, it’s fine.”

“Good. Now, I want you to try and get some sleep while it’s still dark.” George helped Ash get under the blanket. Then he tucked him in, and kissed him on the forehead, “Good night, son.”

“Good night, Dad.”

Ash fell asleep almost immediately, with Pikachu near his head. George unrolled his sleeping bag on the floor and, with Persian near his feet, fell asleep himself in a matter of minutes.



Meanwhile, at Team Rocket HQ...

“I can’t believe the Boss would just go off like that!” said a sky-blue haired man. He was dressed in a black TR uniform, as was the female companion he was talking to.

“Relax, Butch,” said the girl, who played with her blonde pigtails, “what’s the worst that could happen?”

“He could somehow let some information slip about where we are, Cassidy!” Butch exclaimed, “Then we’ll have cops all over the place. I don’t believe it...all this fuss over some brat!”

“Calm down; the Boss may be eccentric sometimes, but at least he’s not stupid. Trust me on this one, if anything bad was going to happen, he would have contacted HQ by now, wouldn’t he?”

Butch maintained his scowl. “Okay," but then he muttered, “I still have a bad feeling about all this, though...”



The sun rose slowly over all of Pallet Town. All was quiet, the inhabitants still enjoying the sweet bliss of an early morning slumber.

In the nearby woods all the Bug and Bird Pokémon rose from their little nests and began their search for food. In the river all the Water creatures came out from under the rocks, splishing and splashing, to look for breakfast.

Suddenly, the silence of the morning was disturbed by two unfamiliar noises...

“VAROOOM!”

“RREEEEOOOOWWWWW!!!!”

In the Ketchum household, Ash, Pikachu, and George sat straight up in their beds, clearly startled by the noise.

“Pika Pii?!” asked Pikachu.

“Hey, what’s going on...Huh?!” Ash exclaimed.

“What on Earth is all the ruckus about......Persian, what are you doing?!” George shouted in amazement.

The two humans and the little mouse just sat there, their eyes and mouths wide open.

Persian had perched itself right on Ash’s desk, claws extended as far as they could go, back arched (the fir literally standing on end), eyes afire, and hissing and caterwauling like an alley cat. A few feet away, a frightened Mimie was trying to keep it at bay with the vacuum cleaner (which, I might add, was turned ON).

Ash and Pikachu hopped out of bed and took the vacuum away from Mimie while George attempted to settle Persian down.

“Mimie,” said Ash angrily, “how many times do I have to tell you not to vacuum my room so early---especially when I have company over!”

“Easy now...settle down, girl,” George calmly told his little friend. Once Persian had relaxed a bit, he soon marveled over Mimie. “Ash, when did you get a Mr. Mime?”

Ash blushed, “Oh, it’s not mine, it’s Mom’s. Long story; I’ll tell you about it some other time.”

Persian then directed a low growl at Mimie, who instantly fled the room, completely scared out of its wits. The whole group giggled as it ran out, until Pikachu noticed that Ash was actually standing on both feet.

“Pika chu? Pika pika?” it asked, pointing to his ankle.

George noticed too, “Is your ankle feeling anymore pain, son?”

Ash suddenly remembered what happened the previous night; he then raised his foot and pressed the ankle gently.

“Well...I feel something, but it’s not pain.”

George nodded, “That’s good; it means that the Aloe Vera has taken effect.”

Just then, the sweet aroma of chocolate and buttermilk passed through their noses, and they heard Delia calling from the kitchen.

“Ash, time for breakfast!”

“Alright,” Ash shouted, “Chocolate-chip pancakes!”

“PIKA!” Pikachu agreed.

“Mm-mm-mm,” said George, rubbing his stomach, “My angel-girl makes the best pancakes in all of Kanto.”

Ash laughed, “I can vouch for that.” He got dressed quickly, combed his hair, and started to head downstairs with Pikachu; but then stopped.

“Dad, do you think you could wait here for a bit? I want to surprise everybody---especially Mom.”

George smiled, “Of course, son. I have to take care of something here anyway, but Persian and I will wait for you.”

“Thanks, Dad, you’re the best!” Ash and Pikachu ran out the door.

As George watched them leave he smiled, but then his face fell and he thought to himself, “Not really.”



Ash bounded into the kitchen (followed by his little friend) just as Delia was pouring some more pancake batter into a hot pan; a stack of fresh, hot pancakes was sitting on the counter next to her, waiting to be served. Sitting at the table were Misty (holding Togepi), Brock, and.....Tracey?

“Hey, Tracey, what are you doing here so early?”

“Oh, good-morning, Ash,” Tracey replied, “I wanted to stop by and see how everyone was doing.” As Ash walked over to the table Tracey suddenly added, “By the way, how’s your foot?”

Everyone looked at Tracey, then at Ash. All Ash could do was look at him with surprise. He knew that Tracey was an experienced Pokémon Watcher, but he never imagined that he would notice something as unnoticeable as a minor foot injury.

Ash smiled as he quickly thought up an excuse, “Um, I just bumped my ankle falling out of bed last night; it’s really nothing serious. How did you notice?”

“Well,” Tracey answered, “when you came in, I noticed the irregularity in the way you walked. But I’m glad you’re feeling better.”

“Thanks,” Ash replied cheerfully.

“I’ve got a question, too,” Brock said, “this morning I thought I heard a cat in your room; there was this terrible shriek....like a wild Meowth, or something.”

“More like a scared Persian,” Ash muttered under his breath.

“What did you say?”

“Err…I said it must’ve been your imagination.”

Everyone secretly wondered why Ash was in such a good mood, and yet so jumpy, but no one said anything out loud.

“Okay, everybody,” Delia walked to the table with the plate of pancakes, “breakfast is served.”

The four children and the Pokémon eyed the meal greedily, licking their lips as they did so.

“Wow, Mrs. Ketchum, these look great,” said Misty.

“Yeah, not even I can make ‘em this good,” said Brock.

“They sure do smell delicious,” Tracey agreed.

Delia giggled and her color rose, “Why thank you, guys...Ash, what’s wrong?” She noticed that her son was out in the hallway, looking up at the top of the stairs.

“Wait, Mom,” he said hastily, “don’t serve anything yet.”

“Why not?” everyone asked.

“Because, I’ve got a big surprise for you all---and I know you’ll be very surprised, Mom. Wait a sec, I’ll be right back,” and he ran upstairs.

“A surprise for me? Oh, this is quite exciting,” Delia said.

“What was that all about?” Brock asked.

“How should I know?” Misty smirked.

“Ash is up to something,” Tracey observed.

Several minutes passed before Ash came back downstairs.

“Okay, everybody, close your eyes.”

“What for?” Misty was first in asking.

“C’mon, please?”

The group either closed or covered their eyes (Misty grunted annoyingly as she hid hers), and waited.

“Okay,” they heard Ash say, “you can look now.” They all opened their eyes: Brock and Tracey stood up sharply, and Misty and Delia covered their mouths and gasped.

Holding Ash’s hand was George. He had taken off his hiking gear and put on some fresh clothes: a plain-white T-shirt, navy-blue sweatpants and similar-colored sneakers. He had just brushed his black hair, and his face was pink and slightly moist (telling them that he had just washed it). Standing next to his right leg, purring softly, was Persian.

No one knew quite what to say, they seemed to have mixed feelings about Ash’s “surprise”; caution, happiness, and shock seemed to be rolled up into one indescribable emotion.

George gave each of his son’s friends a pleasant smile. Then he looked at Delia, and saw the tears starting to form in her eyes. He gave her an even brighter smile.

“I know those beautiful eyes anywhere,” he said as he opened his arms out to her, “How’ve you been, my angel-girl?”

Delia laughed (though it sounded more like a sob than a laugh) as she ran into his arms. She entwined hers around his neck, and pressed her lips onto his. George gathered her closer to him.

“Well, Mom,” Ash interrupted, “what do you think? Do you like your surprise?”

Delia looked at Ash happily, despite her tear-stained face, “I love it, sweetheart. Thank you.” Then she checked herself and wiped her eyes. “Oh! I ask you, where are my manners? George, these are Ash’s friends: Misty (and her Pokémon, Togepi), Brock, and Tracey. Guys, this is my husband, George.”

“How do you do, sir?” they all said together.

“It’s a pleasure to meet all of you,” George said as he shook hands with each child.

Suddenly, the moment was interrupted by a low, yet loud, grumbling. The three teenagers immediately looked in Ash’s direction.

Ash stared blankly at them. “What? It wasn’t me this time.”

George chuckled, “I’m sorry, that was me; I never had supper last evening.”

“Well then,” Delia said, “let’s all have some chocolate-chip pancakes, and have a ‘double celebration’.”

“A ‘double celebration’?” Misty asked.

“Yeah,” Ash answered, “MY birthday, and Dad’s homecoming!”

Everyone agreed, sat down at the table, and started to fill their plates and glasses with hot pancakes and cold milk.
 

Zimmy

Mew in hiding!
Nice to know there are others as obsessed about spelling and grammer as me! I did spot a few typo's, though, but everyone gets them.

Sorry I haven't reviewed in a long time, I've been really busy.

*is not picky for once!* ;151;
 

ZeldaFan20

Coral Eye Trainer
Sorry for not posting in a while myself, but school is really eating my time away---especially Astronomy (the first time I ever went to class at night!). Anyway, here's the next chapter!





Chapter Six



As they all sat there eating, Misty, Brock, and Tracey each told George their stories, as George listened with the greatest interest.

“Well, Tracey, I’d have to say that what you're doing is a great accomplishment. Not all young people your age get a chance to travel the world and study different Pokémon. You should be very proud.”

“Thank you very much, sir,” Tracey replied.

“So, your old man is the Pewter Gym Leader again?” he asked when he heard Brock's tale, “I haven’t seen Flint since school. I’ll have to remember to give him a call later; I bet there’s never a dull moment with all those children.” He laughed, as did everyone else, “And Pokémon breeding! Well, it appears you and I share the same dream. Perhaps we can work together, someday.”

Brock’s eyes sparkled at the thought, “Really? That would be great!”

“As for you, young lady,” he said to Misty, “I know it’s not easy feeling like you’re in your sisters’ shadows. Still, you, as well as Brock, should consider yourselves lucky to even HAVE siblings: our family has a history of having only one child born; if we wanted more, we had to adopt. So, you both should think of each of your siblings as a blessing, not a burden.”

Ash looked at George, “This is the first time I’ve heard that: only ONE kid?”

George nodded seriously, “My side of the family had eight generations of single-child families: it’s quite sad, to tell you the truth.”

Misty thought for a moment, “I’m sorry to hear that. And I guess you’re right: my sisters are annoying at times but, hey…I can’t help loving them anyway.”

“And I certainly have no regrets,” Brock said, “I’ve had to take care of all my brothers and sisters since my mom died, and I’ve enjoyed every day with them.”

“I agree,” Delia said, “There is no greater joy in life than to be with family.”

“Well then,” George stood and raised his glass (everyone else followed suit), “here’s to family.”

“To family!”

“PIKA!”

“Toci toci priii!”

The clinking sound of glasses filled the room.



An hour later, Ash, Pikachu, Persian, and George were sitting on the couch in the living-room. Ash was showing his dad all the Badges he had won on his previous adventures (including his Orange League trophy), when Delia came into the room.

“George, the children and I need to get something at the Lab. We shouldn’t be more than half an hour. Could you and Ash stay here and.....look after the house?” During that time, Ash had turned his back to put his trophy away; Delia chose that moment to send George a quick wink.

“Sure, angel-girl, what ever you say,” he replied as he sent a wink back to her (he had clearly gotten the picture).

The two Pokémon looked at each other and chuckled softly: they knew what was going on with their human pals.

Delia walked over and gave him a kiss. “Thanks, hon, you’re a prince,” and she walked out the front door.

Misty (still holding Togepi in her arms), Brock, and Tracey were waiting for her on the front porch.

“Well?” Misty asked hopefully.

“Don’t worry,” Delia said with a gleam in her eye, “Ash doesn’t suspect a thing.”

“Great,” chimed Brock, “Now, let’s get to the Lab and get started.” The whole group then set off for Professor Oak’s Lab at a steady pace, increasing speed as they got farther from the house.



That afternoon...

“Hey, Mimie,” Ash asked, “do you see Mom and the others yet?”

Mimie looked out the window, shook its head, and replied, “Mime, mime.”

Ash flopped back on the couch. He was bored, and growing increasingly impatient at his friends’ delay. George had made them all a lunch of macaroni and cheese, and was in the kitchen putting the dishes away (Ash had helped wash them, and was sent into the living-room as soon as he was finished). There was nothing good on TV, Mimie had knocked the radio to the floor while it was dusting, and he had lost three games of chess in a row to his dad. It wasn’t fair: it was his birthday, and, aside from George and the Pokémon, there was no one around to celebrate with him: no gifts, no cake, no ANYTHING.

All the while, Pikachu was riding Persian around the room like a pony: both were having the time of their lives.

Ash was finally fed up. “Dad,” he called “what time is it?”

George was looking at his watch as he came into the room, “Let’s see…it’s 2:59 pm.”

“Ugh...They’ve been gone since ten o’clock! What’s taking so long?!”

George smiled an amused smile as he saw Ash’s frustration. “Calm down, tiger; maybe something came up.”

Ash sat up, frowning at him, “Like what?”

“Hmmm...I’m not sure. Let me call and find out.” He went to the phone near the fire place and proceeded to dial the Lab’s number.

“That’s strange,” said George (feigning concern) as he hung up, “I’m getting nothing but static.”

Ash stood up in a flash, “Something’s up over there.”

“Wait a minute, let’s not jump to any conclusions. After all, we don’t know for sure if there is anything wrong.”

“Even so, we should check it out.” Ash put on his hat and started to tie his sneakers in a big rush.

“Alright, but I’m coming with you.” George then turned to the Pokémon, “You three had better come along too.”

“Pika chu,” Pikachu nodded.

“Meow,” Persian said.

“Mime...mime,” Mimie said as it stared nervously at Persian.



When the five got to the lab, they noticed that all the lights were off inside. They went up to the front door and rang the bell, but no one answered. George then tried the doorknob...the hinges creaked as it opened with ease.

“It wasn’t locked,” Ash said. He was clearly getting worried.

George shook his head, “Come on, and stay close to me.”

The entire group went cautiously from room to room. Everything was dark and uninhabited, including the Lab itself; not even a single Pokémon was around.

“Do you think Team Rocket was here?”

“I’m not sure, Ash,” George replied, “Let’s keep looking around...wait, what’s that?”

The back door was just ahead of them. From the other side they could hear rustling noises. A faint light, and a shadow or two, could be seen through the crack.

Ash, George, and the three Pokémon crept up to the door quietly. George grabbed the doorknob and quickly jerked the door open. Ash jumped back, his eyes wide open with both confusion and shock...

“SURRRPRIIIIISE!”

Ash was thunderstruck. He was in such a state of shock that he failed to notice his surroundings, but George, Pikachu, Persian and Mimie saw everything.

Tall poles decorated with long colored streamers, and topped off with different Pokémon-shaped balloons, were arranged in a circle around the open field. Inside the circle, several tables and chairs were organized in a similar fashion; each was covered with a large rainbow-colored tablecloth. The longest table stood just outside the door (on the left side): it was stocked with salads, sandwiches, fruits, punch, cookies, and a chocolate cake nearly the same length and width as a coffee table. At one end, a large cooler filled with ice, ice cream, and every kind of soda known to man, was sitting on the grass; at the other end was a huge pile of brightly wrapped presents heavily guarded by two Nidorinas and two Nidorinos.

In the very center of the area was a large mass of people and Pokémon. Friends and neighbors, including Delia, Misty, Brock, Gary, Daisy, Tracey, Professor Oak, and many others, stood there with the biggest smiles imaginable.

What made Ash snap out of it was some other people in the crowd; he recognized them. From Kanto there were the Cerulean Sisters (Misty’s older sisters: Daisy, Violet, and Lily), Brock’s family (Flint and all his younger children), Lt. Surge, Erika, Sabrina and her parents, Koga and his sister Aiya, and Blaine. From Johto were Professor Elm, Falkner, Bugsy, Whitney, Morty, Jasmine, Chuck, Pryce, and Clair. Every Gym Leader he battled had come, bringing their Pokémon, to celebrate his thirteenth birthday. It really blew him away.

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ASH!” they all shouted.

“Happy Birthday, sweetheart!” Delia said as she ran over to Ash and gave him a kiss on the cheek, “Do you like YOUR surprise?”

For a moment, Ash was lost for words. The return of his father the previous night was enough of a surprise, but all these people who had come to wish him a happy birthday; his happiness was so great that he almost passed out. In fact, he almost did until George grabbed him by the shoulders. Without noticing, Ash broke out in a smile. More happy tears fell down his cheeks as he looked first at his parents, and then his friends.

“Thank you, Mom...Dad...........All of you.”

Then, out of nowhere, there was a clicking sound and a bright flash, followed by a familiar voice saying,

“What an emotional moment! This will make a great shot!”

Ash didn’t have to look at the person to know who it was.

“TODD!”

Todd Snap, a Pokémon photographer and one of Ash’s best friends, ran over and gave him a hug.

“Hey, buddy, why the tears?” Todd asked, “It’s your birthday. You should be happy.”

“Of course I’m happy,” Ash laughed, “Why do you think I’m laughing?”

A girl with aquamarine pigtails, two Dittos standing beside her, spoke up from a couple of meters away,

“More like bawling, Ashy Boy.”

“Duplica,” Ash said, “You’re here too!” He ran over to her and the two friends shook hands.

“Are you kidding?” Duplica said, “I wouldn’t miss this for the world. It’s not everyday that one of my pals officially becomes a teenager.” Then she noticed George and said, “Hey, who’s that man over there with your mom?”

“Huh? Oh, that’s my dad, George Ketchum. He just arrived early this morning.”

“What do you mean by ‘early’?” said another voice. Ash looked and saw a boy who was around his age, and who dressed similarly but with different clothes. Perched on his shoulder was a Pikachu.

“Richie, Sparky!” Both boys laughed and locked in a big hug, while the two Pikachus did the same. “It’s great to see ya!”

“It’s great to see you too, Ash,” said Richie, “but you didn’t answer my question: when you said ‘early’, did you mean ‘early’ as in after you woke up, or ‘early’ as in before you woke up?”

“I mean before the SUN was up!” Ash laughed. Everyone else laughed heartily. But then, Lt. Surge spoke up,

“Hey, everybody, what do ya say we grab a bite ta eat before all that food goes ta waste?”

The entire party agreed and began to grab some plates.

An hour later, the adults were all sitting at their tables talking to one another, while the youngsters were either running around on the grass with their Pokémon or making up games to play. Bugsy suggested a race between the Pokémon and their trainers, but many thought that it wouldn’t be fair. Then Gary suggested a game of Musical Chairs, with the humans and Pokémon playing together: everyone liked this idea, including Bugsy.

While Gary was indoors looking for his CD player, Ash felt a tug at his shirt. One of Brock's little brothers, named Tommy, was smiling at him and trying to pull him away from the group.

“What are you doing, Tommy?” Ash asked

“Come over here, Ash,” was the reply.

“Why?”

Tommy stopped tugging and looked at him, “Our family has a birthday tradition, and we want to share it with you.”

Ash smiled, “Really? What is it?”

“Come on and you'll see,” Tommy said and grabbed his hand again. He led Ash to where the rest of his brothers and sisters had gathered. In the middle of the bunch was a single chair, which they made him sit in. Ash, thinking that they had snuck him a gift and were going to give it to him, had closed his eyes, but what they really did startled him so much that he nearly jumped out of his skin.

“One...two...three...” All the children had grabbed the chair, and started lifting it off the ground and then putting it down again, counting as they did so. Ash didn’t know why they were doing this, but it made him feel like he was riding a boat on a rough sea. What made it worse was that he had eaten not too long ago, and his stomach was already starting to turn.

“Seven...eight...nine...”

“Hey, guys, what are you doing?” Ash managed to ask.

“Twelve...thirteen!”

“And here’s one for good luck!” Tommy said as they raised his chair one more time, and then settled it back on solid ground. Ash stood up immediately, putting a hand on his heart, and laughed.

“Wow,” Ash breathed, “that was definitely...interesting. Thanks, guys.”

All the children were cheering. Ash then saw Gary come out of the building, carrying his CD player, and walked over to where they were setting up for Musical Chairs.

Just then, Delia walked up to them. “Sorry, guys, but that will have to wait until later. It’s time to cut the cake.”

“YEAH!” they all cheered as they ran over to the buffet table

They all looked at the cake with great anticipation. It was covered with white vanilla frosting, and decorated with multi-colored flowers made of icing. In the very center were the words “Happy Birthday Ash” in red and blue letters; on each side of his name was a picture of Pikachu, waving. Delia had already placed thirteen candles on it, and Professor Oak was in the process of lighting them.

Everyone who was there gathered around and started singing:

“Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear Ash,
Happy birthday to you.”

Then they all clapped as Professor Oak lit the last candle.

“Make a wish, honey,” Delia said.

Ash closed his eyes, and made his wish. After what seemed like minutes he opened his eyes, took a deep breath, and blew as hard as he could; all the candles were extinguished in one breath. There was a much louder cheer as Gary handed Ash the carving knife.

“Here, Ash, you’re supposed to cut and pass out the very first piece.”

Ash nodded as he took the knife. He thought for a moment, and cut a square piece off the top right corner; Todd was snapping pictures as he did so. As he scooped the slice onto a paper plate, and Delia scooped some fudge swirl ice cream next to it, everyone wondered who would get it. Many of them were quite surprised when he walked over to George, handed him the plate of cake and ice cream, smiled, and said,

“Welcome home, Dad.”

Happy smiles broke from their faces as they watched George take the plate from Ash, wrap him up in a hug, and say,

“Thank you, son.”



Because of the number of guests, the cake was gone in a matter of minutes. It was now time for Ash to open his gifts.

While Delia was trying to ease the stubborn Pokémon guarding the presents, George crept up to her while no one was looking.

“Angel-girl, I left something back at the house for Ash. I’ll only be a few minutes, but I don't want Ash to worry.”

Delia smiled, “It's alright, I’ll tell him where you went. Just don’t be too long, okay?”

George kissed her lips and smiled back, “Team Rocket couldn’t keep me away.”

“Make sure they don’t,” she called as he ran off, with Persian close behind him.



The center of the field was covered with many beach blankets; everyone was going to sit on the grass and watch the unwrapping.

Each person took their present and found a spot to sit. Ash sat on the north side with his mother and friends.

Brock and his family went first:

“This is from us,” he said. Brock handed Ash a small box tied up with a gold ribbon. When it was opened, it revealed a tiny Pikachu statue made entirely out of amberite.

“How cool,” Ash said with delight, “Thanks, Brock, to you and your family.”

“You’re welcome, Ash,” said Flint.

“I’m next,” Misty cut in as she handed him a small, square-shaped present, “This is from me and my sisters.”

Ash opened his eyes wide when he unwrapped it: it was a CD; more specifically, the latest album of his favorite trio, BBMak.

“This is great! Thanks girls!”



While Ash was finishing up the first half of his presents, George had walked out of the house, carrying the carrier in one hand, with Persian walking beside him.

“We got what we came for, girl. Now, let’s get back to the party.”

“Meow,” Persian replied, and they walked slowly back towards the Lab.



A few minutes later...

“Wow!” Ash exclaimed as he gazed at his gift from Clair: a chess set; each piece, made of pure silver and accented with a tiny crystal, was molded into little figures of dragons, wizards, elves, trolls, and the like. “Thanks, Clair, I love it!”

“You’ll definitely have fun playing chess with those,” Clair said with a smile as she sat back down.

Ash carefully laid the chess set with all his other gifts: books, little figurines, games, a set of Tarot Cards from Morty, clothes, etc.

“Well,” Professor Oak announced, “I believe that’s everyone.”

“Wait,” Delia interrupted, “George isn’t back yet.”

“Did someone mention me?” Everyone turned to see George walking through the yard towards Ash, who instantly noticed the carrier in his hand.

“So whatever’s in there IS for me,” Ash said, clearly filled with excitement, “I can’t wait!”

As George handed the carrier to his son he said, “Mind you, it took me a lot of searching before I finally found one. So, be sure to take good care of it.”

Ash nodded and opened the top half, and what he saw astonished not only him but his guests as well.

The first thing everyone saw was a pair of long, brown, furry ears pop out. Next came a tail, also brown, but with a small splash of lighter brown on the tip. The head came out more slowly. It was the cutest face anyone could ever see; those small, dark eyes sparkled with as much innocence as Ash’s own eyes. Around its neck, the fur was fluffy, and a light, almost whitish, brown; much like the tip of its tail. It was also clear that it was still young, for it was very little, and very shy.

“Oh...an Eevee,” Ash whispered so as not to scare the little Pokémon. He smiled, and gently stroked its furry head. Eevee looked at him as he did so, and smiled itself.

“Rrrriiiii,” it managed to say, and it licked his hand.

Ash gave his father an even bigger hug and said, “Thank you, Dad, it’s wonderful. And I promise I’ll train it well.”



During the remainder of the party, Eevee quickly adapted to all the people and Pokémon around it, and even enjoyed frolicking with the children. As for the game of Musical Chairs......well....it was cut short due to an argument between a Ditto and a Geodude over who was first on a chair.



That night, after everyone had gone home, Ash put all his presents in their proper places, and went to bed with Pikachu and Eevee sound asleep at the foot. As he slept, his mind was filled with a happy memory...of the best birthday he ever had in his whole entire life.



Meanwhile, something was happening at Team Rocket HQ...

“Sound the alarms!”

“Seal off the exits!”

“Hurry, to the cells!”

A group of guards were standing outside an open cellblock, completely stumped. The occupants who once inhabited that particular cell had disappeared, and the air vent on the ceiling was wide open...
 

Zimmy

Mew in hiding!
Ooooooohhhh!!! Cliffie! >.< You mean!

Chicky ;257; : ... I thought you loved cliffhangers?

Not when I'm reading!

Chicky: -.-;

^.^ I don't mind about the time gap - I'll keep reading anyway!

Chicky: If only you'd written a fic. I could tease you about time gaps.

>.< Go away, Chicky! I like reading better than argueing(sp?) !!!!!!!

Random Note: Eevee actually used to be my fave pokemon before Hoenn, then I got all confused, and switched to Mew! >.<

~Zimmy, the pickness in human form. ;151;
 

Cerulean Girl

Cerulean Trainer
Oh wow! This was the fic that made me join! I remember the time serebii went down and your WHOLE story was lost... that was sad and it must have been disappointing. I would have been. Anyway, I'll keep on reading this fic because I love it! Good job! I can't wait for more and let's hope nothing like that happens again on serebii! :D
~Cerulean Girl
 

ZeldaFan20

Coral Eye Trainer
Yeah, it was very disappointing; but I think it was also due to not many people replying to it after it was finished. Oh well, at least I'll get a chance to make any improvements during reposting. Btw, my web access has been down and I've been busy, so it will be a little while longer before the next few chapters come along. Don't give up on me yet.
 
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