I wanted to drag this out a little longer, but, truth be told people, I'm tired of this story. So here's the ending because while I can't stand badly written stories, I hate incomplete ones even more.

The sun was beginning to dip below the treeline when Pikachu found Ash. He was lying down, his muzzle resting on his paws, tail swaying back and forth gently, and his eyes completely vacant.

"You okay, Pikapi?" Pikachu said.

Ash snapped out of his dazed stare. "Huh, what?"

Pikachu smirked. "You spaced out again."

Ash sighed and raised himself into a sitting position, his tail still swaying. "Yeah… It's just—"

"Pikachupi," Pikachu finished.

Ash nodded. "I can't seem to get her out of my head right now. It's like—I see her, the way she moves, her… the way she smells, the way she talks to me, I just…" He smiled (as well as a jolteon can). "I'm so glad she's mine."

"Just be careful," Pikachu warned.

Ash cocked an ear. "How so?"

"She's worth protecting, right?" Pikachu said. Ash nodded. "Out here, chances are you'll have to."

- - -

"Your pokémon were very well behaved," the nurse said to Ash as he picked up the kits the next morning.

"Chan chancy see," muttered the chancy behind the desk.

"What's that?" said Ash. He looked over the kits one more time. Ember, Dreamer, Dewdrop, Sunshine, and… as usual, Sparky was half asleep or sleepwalking.

Ash pointed at Sparky. "Did he stay up late?"

The chancy nodded and added, "See chan chan chancy."

"What?" Ash ran over to the chancy and muttered quietly, switching to jolteon language, "What do you mean 'he was talking with a girl'?"

The chancy was startled by Ash's sudden change in language, but she managed to stammer out, "H-he was talking with another one of the eevees. They were just stargazing, nothing more." She paused and seemed to look at Ash a little harder. "How are you…?"

"Talking like this?" Ash reached in his shirt and showed the chancy his necklace, the yellow stone on it still glowing slightly.

The chancy gasped. "You—you have a Stone of Destiny?"

"You know about these?" Ash asked, careful not to let his voice get too loud.

"Only a little," the chancy said, "but… you need to talk to the Dragon Master. He can tell you more."

"And where can I find this 'Dragon Master'?"

"He—I don't know. He's a human…"

Ash groaned. "A human with a really big ego. I think I know who you're talking about. He—"

Ash was interrupted by an angry yell from the other end of the center.

"You're not my mom! My mom's not a human!"

In the split second it took Ash to realize it was Dewdrop yelling, she scampered out the door that just happened to be open at that moment by another trainer coming into the center.

As quick as he could Ash bolted out the door. Quickly he scanned the streets, looking for any sign of a brown blur. He caught sight of Dewdrop just as she rounded the corner of a building at the end of the block. With only half of his mind paying attention to useless details like traffic, he managed to make it to the alley.

Dewdrop was still there, but she was hiding among several lush, white tails connected to a green-eyed ninetails.

"Don't come any closer, boy," the ninetails growled in plain english.

Ash stood his ground. "What do you want with her?"

"You don't deserve her. You've turned your back on who you truly are. I'm going to teach her the ways of the world you don't understand."

"What don't I understand?"

"Don't you see?" the ninetails yelled. "You aren't human, but yet you still insist on pretending. Why? So you can keep your precious status as a trainer? It's obvious that you don't care about her; all you care about is YOURSELF!" With the last word, a sudden burst of flame engulfed the ninetails and the eevee, and when it cleared, they were gone.

- - -

"Get away from her!" Ash yelled, his fur spikes standing on end as he charged up an attack.

The flareon laughed arrogantly. "And just how do you plan to stop me? Shock me? Please, I'm too strong for that."

Ash weighed his options. Pikachu was off who knows where, and his pokémon belt was back at the "camp," so the only thing standing between this upstart flareon and Misty was him.

Failure was not an option.

Ash lunged, hoping to catch the flareon off guard. He managed to lightly shock him but ended up on the receiving end of a flamethrower attack in the process.

"All too easy," said the flareon as he turned towards the vaporeon at the other end of the clearing.

"Don't turn your back on me!" Ash yelled as he tackled the flareon full force and the two were thrown to the ground. The next minute consisted of a mixture of elemental and physical attacks in the most brutal combinations possible. As one combatant would bite the other's neck, the other would counter with an elemental attack to the mouth. But finally the flareon was able to sink his teeth deep into Ash's flank and throw him across the clearing, landing a foot away from Misty.

Misty looked down at Ash, the panic evident in her eyes.

- - -

"How could you just let her go like that?" Misty yelled.

"Do you think I wanted to?" Ash countered.

"Well what are you going to do about it?"
Ash took a deep breath. "I need to make some phone calls," he said as calmly as he could. "First—"

"Phone calls? What good is—"

"I'm getting to it!" Ash yelled. "I think I'm starting to get to the bottom of this whole thing. I just need to get a little more information. We also need to get you and the kits to a safe place."

Misty made a conscious effort to calm herself down. "I suppose… I suppose we could go ahead and go to my parents' place. We—we were going to do that anyway. You can make some calls from there, and…" She looked Ash in the eye. "But whatever happens I'm coming with you."

"No, Misty, I can't—"

"That's right, you can't do this without me."

"That's not it!"

"Then what is it?"

"I—" Ash looked down at Pikachu. Pikachu looked up at Ash, glanced at Misty, and gave a resounding "Pika!" to Ash.

Ash sighed. "That's settled, then. We'll head to the Waterflowers', Pikachu'll look after the kits there while Misty and I go look for Dewdrop. That work?"

Misty answered with a kiss. And a very nice one at that…

Pikachu let out a tired, "Cha, cha, pi pika," and started to round up the kits.

- - -

And as always, the best laid plans of chu's and men will quickly come to ruin. In this case, the curveball was Misty's parents. While Misty and her mother were in the kitchen getting lunch ready, Boaz Waterflower pulled Ash aside.

"So, what's this about your 'daughter' running away?" he asked.

Ash sighed. "It's kinda complicated. There's… a lot going on on several different levels."

Boaz nodded. "Wouldn't it be better just to accept that she's gone?"

Ash's jaw dropped. "What?"

"Ash, pokémon run away from their trainers all the time. It's quite possible that this eevee just wasn't meant to be trained. It has no effect on your status as—"

"She's not just my pokémon, sir," Ash interrupted.

Boaz sighed and put down his drink. "So you still think that they're your children?"

Ash's incredulous stare continued. "I know they're my children."

"Ash, Ash," Boaz said condescendingly, "I'm not saying you don't have a special connection with these eevees. In fact, I think it's a wonderful thing. But you can't let that desire cloud your judgement. The fact of the matter is, it's simply impossible for these eevees to be your biological children, which is the impression I'm getting from you. It's a simple psychological disorder, which would explain the story that you and Misty told us when you came back. I'm not asking to know the truth, I'm just asking that you let go of this…"

Boaz trailed off when he noticed that Ash was no longer sitting in front of him. In fact, where Ash had been sitting, there was now a very perturbed jolteon sitting among a pile of clothes. In fact, they were the same clothes that Ash was wearing just a few moments ago…

- - -

"You want me to leave him?" Misty nearly yelled.

"Well, Misty," Ruth Waterflower said, "it's just that—well, your father and I are concerned for you. This story about the kits and everything… we're concerned about you're…"

"Mental health?" Misty finished.

"No," Ruth said unconvincingly. "We think that he's… well, abusive situations always come when the husband has to resort to unconventional methods to—"

"You think Ash is going to beat me? Is that it?"

"Well… yes."

Misty looked down at the half-finished ham sandwich. "And you don't believe us about the kits."

"Well… that's putting it rather bluntly, but—"

"Just answer the question, Mom," Misty whispered.

Ruth opened her mouth, but before she could speak Boaz burst into the room. His face was pale and he was breathing heavily. He looked at Ruth first, then he pointed at Misty.

"You…" he said, "you're not going back with Ketchum. I don't know what he's gotten into, but you are going to stay as far away from it as you possibly can. He's going to leave and take those hellspawn with him and you are going to stay right here, do you hear me?"

Misty didn't bother to turn around. "He showed you, didn't he?"

"He showed me enough! He showed me how he planted those ideas in your head. He did, didn't he? He's trying to control you, Misty! He's—Look at me when I'm talking to you, young lady!"

Misty turned around furiously, her eyes brimming with tears and her fists clenched tightly. "You want me to listen to you? DO YOU WANT ME TO LISTEN TO YOU?" she yelled. "My whole life… when I told you about Lily and Daisy and Violet teasing me, you never listened. When I told you about all the adventures I was having, you never listened. When I told you how I hated being cooped up in the gym, you never listened. And… And Ash did. How can you tell me to leave the one man in the world who actually knows who I am?"

"It's not real, Misty, it's—"

"What if it is? What if I can do the same thing he can, huh? What then? Are you going to throw me out? Or are you going to try to force me to change? Well, guess what, 'dad,' I'm not your little girl anymore!"

"Don't talk that way to me—"

"Fine!" Misty took her purse from the counter and walked toward the door.

Boaz turned, his face by now bright red. "Misty, if you walk out that door—"

"I don't plan on coming back," Misty yelled without looking back.

- - -

"I'm sorry, Misty," Ash said once they were outside. "I—he just—"

"Don't worry about it," Misty said quickly.

Ash put his arm around her back. "But I am sorry."

Misty distracted herself with a head count. "One, two, three, four… Where's Pikachu?"

"What?" Ash looked around what passed for a Cerulean City suburb. "Where could he have—"

At that moment a shiny red convertible pulled up next to Ash and Misty, a familiar face in the driver's seat and a grinning pikachu riding shotgun.

"Lily?" Misty said.

Lily took off her sunglasses and looked seriously at the couple. "I'm going to assume that you're standing out here because you're not allowed in?"

Misty inhaled sharply. "I… basically just disowned Dad."

Lily unlocked the doors. "Good. That old man's had it coming for a long time now. Get in; you're staying at the gym tonight."

As Ash and Misty went through the long process of getting everyone into the car, Ash asked, "So how did you know we were here?"

Lily grinned. "Your pikachu is very good at pantomiming, you know."

- - -

Truth be told, the gym was a much better place for the kits. Other pokémon to play with, more space, fewer breakable objects, and three aunts that were absolutely beside themselves with their nieces and nephews.

"Oh, you're so adorable!" Daisy said as she rubbed Ember's fur for the thousandth time.

"I don't exactly appreciate this," Ember grumbled. This, of course, caused Daisy to fawn over him even more because of his new talent.

Meanwhile, Ash and Misty related the day's events to Lily, occasionally filling in a few details from their "extended honeymoon."

"So, I guess that answers my next question," Lily said, fishing through a backpack at her feet. She pulled out a supermarket tabloid and laid it on the table. "This photo's not a fake, is it?"

"What the crap?" Ash yelled, seizing the paper. Misty did her best to look over his shoulder.

The photo in question was extremely blurry, probably taken from a cell-phone camera, but there they were, two humanoid pokémon on the porch of a hotel room, one massaging the other.

"That's us, alright," Misty said.

"Great," Ash said, panic starting to creep in. "Now everyone's going to find out. What's going to—"

"Nothing," Lily said, taking the tabloid back. "The only people that will take this seriously are the conspiracy theorists, and you know how crackpot they can be. In other words, there's nothing to worry about."

"You sure?" Ash said.

"Positive. Right now, it sounds like you and Misty have bigger fish to fry. So while you go make your phone calls, we've got to catch up with our sister, okay?"

Ash turned a corner of his mouth up. "And what if I don't want to let her out of my sight?"

Lily grinned. Putting two fingers to her mouth, she whistled sharply. "Support group!" she yelled. Within ten seconds all four Sensational Sisters were beyond reach of any intruding males: the ladies' bathroom.

Ash just smiled. "Wow…"

- - -

"Let's see," Ash thought, "what do I find out first. Fox-man, rocks, fox-man, rocks… Rocks." He punched in the number, thankful that being league champion had its privileges.

A standard pretty face picked up the phone. "Lance Gardner's office, may I help—oh! Mr. Ketchum!"

"That's right," Ash said. "Is Lance busy?"

"Actually," she said, "he's been expecting your call. I'll patch you through." Before Ash could properly thank her she transferred him.

"Ah, Ash Ketchum, I presume?" Lance said in his usual bravado when he saw Ash's face.

"Correct as usual, your majesty," Ash answered comically. "I was wondering if you could help me with this." He held his necklace up to the camera.

Lance nodded. "I thought so. I'm assuming you've seen the tabloids?"

"I've seen one, yes."

Lance smiled. "I can't say I'm surprised really."

"What, that we made the tabloids?"

"No… no, not that. I just… I knew as soon as I saw you that you would get one of these."

Ash raised an eyebrow. "Really?"

Lance nodded. "Is it safe to assume that those kits you and Misty are always with are…?"

"They are."

"Alright then. Let's see… Do you know what these are called?"

"The chancy said they were called 'Destiny Stones' or something like that."

Lance nodded. "That's as good a translation as can be expected. These stones actually come from a cavern near Silence Bridge. They—"

"Silence Bridge?"

"You know, the route between Lavender Town and Fuchsia City?"

"Yeah…" Ash appeared lost in thought for a few moments. "I'm sorry, you were saying?"

"Right. The cavern is guarded by the mews. In their language, their word for 'destiny' is the word they use to describe a person. Someone's essence, their core personality, who they are, if you will, to them that's the same thing as destiny. It's actually an interesting worldview, if you think about it. But enough about that. Let's see…

"The stones are… They allow whoever has one to shift back and forth between a human and pokémon form, or anything in between, as you obviously discovered last night. Notice I didn't say 'human to pokémon.' The truth is, anyone can get one of these stones. Not everyone does; in fact, few ever do. But it's not limited to humans. A pokémon has just as much chance of getting a stone as a human does.

"An important thing to remember is that the stone's powers only take effect while you're wearing it. I'm assuming that when you and Misty disappeared for six months, your stones were buried somewhere? When you're not wearing the stone, you are fully whatever form you are at the time. If you're a pokémon, then no one would be able to tell you were once human apart from your behavior. And if you remain in that form for too long, you might even forget you were human."

Ash gulped. How close had he and Misty come to… He pushed the thought from his mind; it wasn't worth worrying about now. "But while we're wearing it…"

"Right. While you're wearing it, you can shift back and forth at will, you can speak like a human or a pokémon and understand both sides as well. With some practice, you may even be able to pull off an attack while human, though I wouldn't recommend it. The human body isn't made for dishing out attacks, and you'll probably injure yourself."

"Um," Ash interjected, "can we be caught?"

Lance inhaled sharply. "Yes, and I'm glad you brought that up. Yes, you can be caught if you're wearing your stone or you're in pokémon form. Oh, and when you come out of the pokéball, you'll be naked, so try and make sure it doesn't happen," Lance added with a smirk. "The good news is that the pokéball has to touch you, not just your clothes. My best advice is to find a good master."

Ash nodded. "I think I know what we can do about that."

Lance smiled. "Good. Let's see… actually, that's all I can think of right now. Any questions?"

Ash took a deep breath. "Do you know anything about a ninetails—uh, hybrid?"

Lance bit his lip. "I've never actually met him," he said in a low voice, "but I've heard stories. Apparently he's been going around acting like a messenger or something, but… How—have you met him?"

"Kind of," Ash sighed. He proceeded to relate all the times he and Misty had encountered the ninetails.

Lance pondered the information for a moment. "You know he's lying, right?"

"What?"

"What he said about you not deserving your daughter? He's lying. He—well, let me put it this way: he's insane."

"That's kinda—"

"Strong? No, Ash, it's perfectly legit. He's getting his own ideas and imagination mixed up with reality. It's the definition of insanity. Ash, he thinks he knows who he is, but from what you told me, he doesn't. Who you are doesn't depend on what shape your body is; it depends on the content of your character. You may be human, but I can tell you still love your children, and besides, you still haven't started training for the league championships, right?" Ash smirked and lowered his head. "Seriously," Lance continued, "you may not know what you are sometimes, but you of all people, Ash Ketchum, should know who you are. And that's something time and circumstances can't change." Lance suddenly turned toward the side. "Ash," he said, "I've got to go, but remember what I said, okay?"

"I will."

"And call me if you have any more questions. Bye!" And he hung up.

Ash sighed. "Now for the hard part," he whispered as he dialed the next number.

"Hello—Ash!" Ash's mother said as her face appeared on the video screen. "How are you?"

"Could be better," Ash said dryly. "Mom, I—I'm sorry, but…"

Delilah sobered up. "What is it, honey?"

"What happened to dad?"

Delilah's face paled, and for a moment she seemed to lock up. "I was wondering when you'd ask," she said softly, her usual cheerfulness gone. "He… he disappeared when you were just two. We'd.. we'd been married for about three years. He would leave for months at a time, but he'd always come back. I—I even knew about it before we got married, but I guess… I guess I thought I could get him to stay… he even said he'd stay…

"And then one day… he came back… and he told me he couldn't stay. He had more important things to do, and he knew I could raise you on my own, and…"

"That's okay," Ash said finally, "you don't have to keep going. Just…" He paused for a second. "What would you do if he came back?"

"I'd… I'm not sure what I'd do," Delilah confessed. "I'd probably ask him if… if he still loved me. And… why…"

Ash nodded. "Thanks. That's all I need to hear."

- - -

Ash and Misty had only their traveling clothes and one belt of empty pokéballs between them. Ash had suggested bringing some other pokémon along, but Misty had pointed out that they might have a difficult time coaching them in a battle if they were participants themselves. Lily, Daisy, Violet, Pikachu, and the kits had wished them well, and now they were standing in front of the Cerulean pokémon center with one question:

"So where do we start?" Misty asked.

Ash's face fell. "Crap!" he yelled. "I knew I was forgetting something!"

At that moment Ash's cell phone rang. "Hello?" Ash answered.

"Vee eevee?"

"Sparky?"

"Vee!"

"What—" He glanced at Misty, and the two ducked into the shadows of a nearby building. "What is it?" Ash asked in jolteon.

"I think I know where Dewdrop is!" Sparky answered.

"How—I mean, where?"

"Well, Trillian said that her trainer tried to catch a ninetails on the north end of town, but he ran off. She said it was carrying an eevee with it; I think that's Dewdrop."

"That's great Spa—wait, who's Trillian?"

Ash could have sworn he heard his son blush. "Um, she's an eevee that belongs to this trainer that just came in the gym."

"She wouldn't happen to be the same eevee that you were talking with last night, would it?"

"Uh… yeah."

Ash sighed. "I'm glad you're making friends, son. Don't forget to give the phone back to aunt Lily."

"I won't. Be careful, dad!"

"I will." He hung up and turned to Misty. "He's north; I think it's on the way to Bill's place."

Misty looked up. "We better hurry if we're going to find them before nightfall."

- - -

The ninetails threw Dewdrop onto the ground as the sun set. "Get some rest," he said gruffly.

"I'm hungry," Dewdrop whimpered.

The ninetails struck her with his paw again. "You'll eat in the morning."

Dewdrop did her best to keep from whimpering and rested her head on her paws. "I want my daddy."

"Your daddy's dead," the ninetails answered reflexively.

Instantly a yellow blur collided with the ninetails, sending him sprawling five feet away.

"Dad!" Dewdrop yelled, running to the jolteon standing in the ninetails' place.

Ash looked at her carefully, She was heavily bruised and scratched up, and even burned in a few places. "What did he do to you?" he said.

"It's called 'discipline,' boy, and it's something you're going to have to learn if you're going to be a good parent," the ninetails said, approaching slowly, apparently unfazed by the tackle.

"Dewdrop," Ash whispered, "do you see your mother?"

Dewdrop looked past Ash and saw Misty several feet back. "Yes."

"Go to her and stay with her; do you hear me?" She nodded quickly. "Go."

Dewdrop scampered back to her mother while Ash turned his attention to the ninetails. "What do you know about being a good parent? Last I heard you couldn't get past the terrible twos."

"Sometimes there are more important things than—"

"Than keeping your promises?" Ash began circling the ninetails. "Do the words 'til death do us part' mean anything to you?"

"She's dead to me!" the ninetails yelled, fiery energy beginning to form around him.

"Really?" Ash yelled back. "Last time I checked she was still alive!" He glanced back at Misty and Dewdrop and continued. "But to be honest, I'm glad I never had you as a father, not after what you did to MY daughter!"

"You don't deserve her," the ninetails reiterated.

"I never said I did. She's a gift. Like all children." He moved closer. "But you never did learn to appreciate that, did you?"

"I was watching," the ninetails said, much more quietly. "I was watching when the great Ho-Oh revealed herself to you. I was watching when you rode on the back of Lugia. I was watching as you stood up for Mewtwo against Team Rocket. I was—"

"But that's all you ever do, isn't it?" Ash said. "I could never talk to you, see you… love you…"

"Come with me," the ninetails said quickly. "Come with me, and I'll show you how the world was meant to be. I'll show you what life truly is, unshackled by society and—"

"Marriage vows?" Ash yelled. "No, I can't leave her. Not like you left Mom."

The ninetails growled. "You're just weak. And I'll prove it." With that, he released a flamethrower attack straight at Ash who managed to dodge the full blast but still singed his tail.

And the battle was on.

Ash charged up for an electrical attack. He did his best not to surround himself with a charge since the ninetails could easily hit him with another flamethrower without coming close enough for the "shield" to take effect. He charged, electricity arcing and cracking around him.

The ninetails watched, and at the last moment, he ducked aside and fired another flamethrower at Ash. Or at least, that was what he thought. Ash had stopped short, waited for him to make his move, then attacked the ninetails off guard, biting and shocking him at the same time.

The ninetails howled in pain and covered his body in flames. Ash yelped and pulled himself off, and the ninetails slammed into him, throwing him back seven feet and knocking the wind out completely out of him.

Ash looked at Misty as he tried to get his breath back. They made eye contact, and she nodded slowly.

- - -

Misty looked down at Ash, then at the upstart flareon that was trying, in some way, to woo her. She wanted—no, she needed Ash to win this fight; the consequences otherwise were not something she wanted to think about. Ash knew this too, but for all his best efforts, he was losing.

"Misty," he whispered, "I need you to hit him."

"Ash, I—"

"Just hit him once. Water conducts electricity, right?"

Misty looked at the flareon, who was starting to make his way towards her. Ash pulled himself up and slunk off to the side, the whole time keeping one eye on the situation.
Misty looked, and for a moment she nearly gave in. That moment didn't last long, though.

"Wha'd'ya say, baby, we go find someplace else?"

Misty smirked. "Don't you have a trainer to get back to?"

The flareon was taken aback. "What? No—no I don't."

"Riiiiight," Misty said as she wrapped her tail around herself and concentrated on the ground just beneath the punk's feet…

- - -

Ash stood up as soon as he was able to and bolted towards where Misty was waiting. If he had any advantage in this fight, it was his speed. It was the one thing he enjoyed most about his alternate form and one thing he had trained with Pikachu on every day.

He saw Misty out the corner of his eye and skidded to a stop, letting the ninetails run into him at full speed. Again, Ash went sprawling, and this time, he didn't try to get up.

The ninetails approached Ash slowly. "Weak," he spat. "Just like your mother."

"She's stronger than you'll ever be," Ash said as strongly as he could which, truth be told, wasn't very.

"I offered to take her to the cave," he said, "but she wouldn't go. Some drivel about not running away…"

"She's right."

The ninetails scoffed. "And what do you know?"

"I know there's something to be said to standing by your woman." Ash said with a smile.

The ninetails' eyes widened and he turned around to see Misty concentrating, her tail wrapped around herself and her body surrounded by a faint blue glow…

- - -

The ground beneath the flareon erupted with a stream of water that completely engulfed the flareon.

"Arrogant punk," Misty sneered as he hit the ground, winded and soaking wet.

Ash walked up to the flareon as he attempted to pull himself up. "I told you to stay away from her," he said, just before he hit the flareon with a massive thunder attack. When all was said and done, the flareon was on the ground, large chunks of hair singed off and the rest matted flat on his body. All in all, not a pretty sight.

"Is he still alive?" Misty asked.

Ash sniffed him. "Yeah, though he'll have one heck of a headache when he wakes up.

- - -

The ninetails was still moving slowly even after Ash's thunder attack. "You think…" he wheezed, "that you can beat me that easily?"

"Who said we were trying to beat you?" Ash said. He had shifted to his half-pokémon form and was holding an Ultra Ball, charged and ready to go.

"No…" the ninetails whispered as the ball struck him full in the flank. The light turned green without so much as a jostle from its new captive.

"So that's it…" Ash breathed as he managed to shift himself back to jolteon before he collapsed in exhaustion.

- - -

Lily strolled up to the pokémon center desk late the next morning. "I dropped four pokémon off late last night?" she asked.

The nurse smiled like she always did. "They're right here," she said, handing Lily the four pokéballs. Three were the standard red-and-white variety, while one was an extremely high-end blue and silver model.

"Thanks!" Lily smiled as she walked out the door.

Once she was back at the gym she released the three pokémon from the red-and-white balls: an eevee, a vaporeon, and a still-exhausted jolteon.

"Rough night?" she asked with a smirk.

The jolteon growled passively while the eevee ran off to find her siblings. The vaporeon seemed to chide the jolteon while it looked quizzically at Lily.

"How did I know where you guys were?" They nodded. "Let's just say its a good thing you have a translator in the family that doesn't need these toys," she said, giving Ash and Misty back their necklaces.

Ash put his on first and asked (in english), "So how did the pokémon center let us in?"

"I captured you," Misty said with a slight air of smugness. "Then I got in one of your pokéballs." She turned to Lily. "Is the other one…"

Lily pulled out the Ultra Ball. "It's right here. Is this…"

"The kidnapper." Ash said flatly. "Can you do me a favor and send it to my mom? She'll know what to do with him."

Lily raised her eyebrow but didn't say anything about it. "Oh, and Lance called last night."

"What did he want?" Misty said.

Lily shrugged. "He'll talk to you before he finalizing anything, Ash, but he said that, given your new domestic situation, he'd be willing to relieve you of your league champion responsibilities if you'll take up the post at Viridian Gym."

Ash's eyes grew wide. "Me? Viridian Gym leader?"

Lily nodded.

Ash was stunned speechless.

"That's great, Ash!" Misty squealed, pressing against him and licking his muzzle affectionately.

Ash barely acknowledged Misty's—or anyone's—presence. "I'm the Viridian Gym leader?"

"Yes, Einstein," Misty chided, "now let's go get some breakfast."

"Breakfast?" Ash said cheerfully, "I don't want breakfast! Where's Pikachu; I wanna battle! 'Cause I'm the fricking gym leader! Woooooooooooooo!" Ash yelled as he ran into the pool room.

Lilly suppressed a giggle. "He certainly is a character."

Misty sighed. "Only because his heart's so big. And I wasn't kidding about that food, either; I'm hungry!"

- - -

End. If anyone wants to write a sequel, send me a message.