With all of the debate surrounding what will happen with Serena and the inevitable Sun and Moon refresh of the anime, I was inspired to write my own kind of send-off for her. I hope that you enjoy.
Binne in my, ek dra jou binne in my, vir ewig
My bloed is koud, en ek word oud, soos tai Kalahari hout
Maar herrineringe aan jou stook die kole in my hart
Diep in my... jy's diep in my...
-Johnny Clegg, Thamela (Die Son Trek Water)
Rain fell softly in the Lumiose evening, misting down to the streets of concrete and stone. As the night crept forward, the distinct street lights began to blink on one by one, piercing the haze in the air. Silently, a girl peered out of her window at the scene, safe in the refuge of her room in the Pokémon Center. She sighed deeply, knowing yet another day had quickly faded away. Rainy days were always discouraging, especially for a traveller such as herself. Truthfully, though, she never meant to have journeyed throughout the entire Kalos region. It was much more of a happy accident than anything else.
When she first began her journey, her goal was simple, yet shortsighted in retrospect. Part of her left home to simply escape her everyday life, a decision she had wrestled with for months prior. Her final motivation was bestowed to her in the form of a news broadcast, something she had only happened to have seen by pure coincidence. Within the show, she saw a glimpse of his face. At least, she thought it was his face, years older and yet still recognizable. Her Pokémon journey began immediately after that day. While doubt poured the restless nights of her first week alone, waves of hope crashed over it. She had absolutely nothing to lose, and the completion of a childhood dream to gain.
Beyond her own realm at the windowsill, the serene scene quickly turned chaotic, as a young girl chased her petite Pokémon around the room in a game of hide-and-seek-turned-tag. Beyond, two boys much closer to her own age gathered around a table, both with products of their own dreams in front of them. One submerged himself in a pile of blueprints, searching for the breakthrough of the future. The other simply sat with his Pikachu, watching the wall-mounted television in front of him.
"Hey Serena, look at this," the boy called out, pointing at the screen in front of him. "You're on TV!"
"Hmm?" the girl responded, awoken from her thoughts. "Really? What is it about, Ash?" she enquired, walking towards the table.
Ash simply gestured upwards again as footage of an interview with Palermo flashed onscreen. "Of course, our current Kalos Queen, Aria, was a student of yours. How confident do you feel that Serena will reach her level of fame?" the interviewer asked.
"Well, it puts me in a very interesting position," Palermo began, mentally reviewing the question. "I see a very similar level of potential in both of them. I have no way to favor one or the other, it would simply be unfair. Aria has certainly been a star success, with a bright future ahead of her, yet, Serena is her strongest competition, though she has other commitments."
"I see," the interviewer said, almost robotically. The show cut to video of Serena and Aria in the Master Class finals, ending with a reminder of Serena's narrow defeat. "We thank you for your time here tonight. It has been a pleasure, and surely an inspiration for all aspiring performers."
The show switched to credits as Ash turned his seat to face Serena. "It's exciting, isn't it? You have such a strong future here. You've made it!"
Serena smiled warmly at him. "That's awfully easy for you to say, Mister Champion," she said teasingly.
Ash laughed. "Only of the Lumiouse Conference. We still didn't make it a dent in the Elite Four," he said, remembering the narrow yet crushing defeat against Malva. He scratched Pikachu's head. "We've still got a long road to go, don't we, buddy?"
"Pika pi!" Pikachu responded eagerly, his will to fight with Ash never faltering.
"You're always going to have next year, Ash. I'm sure you'll beat them!" Serena reminded him enthusiastically.
Ash looked away briefly, scratching the back of his head as he met her eyes again. "Well, um, Serena, I don't plan to stay in Kalos forever."
The reality of the situation plowed into Serena like an eighteen-wheeler. Certainly, she knew Ash had traveled the world in his quest to be a master, and of all the places he had been before her native Kalos. Still, she never prepared for the prospect of his inevitable departure, something she secretly hoped would never come.
After a long pause and recovery, Serena found the words to respond to the shock. "Of course, Ash!" she said halfheartedly, averting his gaze. "I'm sure you'll be a success wherever you go! But where will you go?"
"Home in Pallet Town, first. After that, I want to go to the Alola region."
Serena gasped quietly. She had always known Alola as a tropical paradise, somewhere she longed to visit with only one thing holding her back.
"Ash, that's almost halfway around the world!" she exclaimed.
"I know, there will be lots of new Pokemon to meet!" he said happily.
Serena sighed again. There was only ever one thing on his mind. "What about the rest of us, Ash?"
Clemont broke in. "We already discussed it. I'm staying here with the gym, and Bonnie is too young to go off on a trip like that," he said.
"So I'm the last to know?" Serena pouted.
"Um, I guess so..." Ash offered weakly. "There's still time before I have to leave, though. About two weeks."
Serena found that two weeks passed much faster than she possibly could have imagined. Despite tireless appeals to her mother, Grace still felt the journey to Alola was much too long, far and expensive for her daughter to embark on without her company. Out of options, Serena knew she finally had to say goodbye to her childhood friend again. Though she knew in the back of her mind that the day would come, she never imagined it would be so soon. Now, she found herself in a massive airport. Even in the bustling travel center, she could find an isolated corner to sit side-by-side with Ash. Clemont and Bonnie, having already said their goodbyes, stayed behind at the gym to avoid the magnificent disaster that was Clemont's backpack of inventions in the hands of airport security. As she departed, Serena could've sworn Bonnie gave her a wink, as if the young girl knew all too well.
Ash fidgeted in his chair, flipping through a brightly-colored travel pamphlet. "Look at this island!" he said, holding up the brochure. "Look at that volcano! It's huge!"
Awoken from her thoughts, Serena darted her eyes to the photo. "It's an amazing sight. I hope you enjoy it even more in person," she said, with a tinge of jealousy. "Though, what I really love are those beaches!"
"Totally!" Ash agreed, turning back to an image of a seaside sunset on the cover.
As Ash studied the flyer, Serena caught herself staring more than once or twice. Each time, an internal reminder of her crush, and with it, the sorrow of having to leave it behind. The feeling combined with the anticipation was completely unbearable. With a heart of valor, Serena glanced at her watch. It was now or never.
"Ash," she began, touching his hand, causing him to look up from his reading. She smiled warmly.
"What is it, Serena?" he inquired.
Serena blushed slightly. "I... I, um," she stammered as her face progressively reddened. "I have something for you," she finally said. She retrieved a small box from her backpack and handed it to him.
Inside, Ash found a small sphere that was all too familiar to him. He carefully removed it from the package, holding it to the light. While he initially recognized it as an ordinary Poké Ball, he was swiftly proven wrong as text inscribed in its scarlet top made itself apparent. On the front, it read the words exchanged between the pair countless times. "Don't give up until it's over."
Ash stared at the message of the Poké Ball, then back at her. "Serena... Thank you so much," he said, nearly beyond words. Shifting his eyes, he picked up his bag and reached into it. "Listen, I want you to have this," he said. From the backpack, Ash removed what appeared to be a piece of brown leather. He turned it face down and handed it to her.
Serena accepted the gift into her hand, promptly flipping it over. On the opposite side sat a clear plastic window, with a portal to her past behind it. The worn leather sleeve contained a photograph, years old and slightly faded from time. Still, it clearly held its image. A young Ash and Serena stood side-by-side, smiling widely and holding hands. Serena stared deeply into the photo before quickly pressing it to her heart.
"Ash... Where did you even get this?" she inquired, flipping the photo over again.
Ash scratched the back of his head. "My mom took that picture years ago during the summer camp. She used to tease me about 'my girlfriend' all the time. Truth be told, I never thought I'd see you again. I didn't even know your name. I just knew you as 'the girl with the straw hat,'" Ash sighed deeply before continuing. "I've kept that photo with me for years. It's been with me since I started my journey, and even before. Now that I've met you again, I want you to have it."
Serena stared into his eyes as he spoke, nearly in tears. "Ash... I- I can't thank you enough. Really. This has to be the sweetest thing anyone has given me and it's so amazing and-" Serena began. Unable to contain herself any longer, she sprang forward, pulling the boy into a deep hug. "And you're leaving now!" she said tearfully, squeezing him.
Ash hugged her back tightly. With their heads close together, he spoke quietly. "We both have a piece of each other now. Wherever we go, we will always carry it with us. In that way, we will never be separated."
Inside me, I carry you inside me, forever
My blood is cold, and I grow old, like tough-hard Kalahari wood
But memories of you stoke the coals in my heart
Deep inside me... You are deep inside me...
I hope you enjoyed my little story, it was honestly really fun to write. I hope that I will be able to write more in the future. The hardest part of this story was by far coming up with the gift ideas, but I feel satisfied with them. I pulled a Midnight with the quotes, putting it in a foreign language at the top and an English translation at the bottom. The original is the Afrikaans at the top, for those curious. It's from a song, I recommend listening to it if you want. Just make sure you have the lyrics in front of you with an English translation if you care about actually understanding it.
Anyways, I apologize if the AmourShipping itself was rather light. I wanted to try writing a sensitive moment between them rather than a full confession, and I wanted to try to keep it as realistic as I could. Of course, if you want to let me know how you feel about this approach or anything else in the story, please leave me a review or comment.