Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of Pokemon, its characters, locations, or names. All of them, with the exception of the original characters, belong to Nintendo.

AN: I wrote this, because a reader had requested that I write another story for the Trainer's Heart series. This would probably go between chapters 12 and 13 of A Pokemon Master's Life….I really am not sure if I kept Ash as pokemon master all the way to the end of it or not..if I did, perfect. If not, aw well, too bad, we'll just pretend this is an AU for that series. XD

- - -

- A Father's Pain -

"Today's the day!" the teenager said, pulling her poptart out of the toaster and placing it on a plate. She turned her bright eyes to the group sitting at the table: her mother, father, little sister, and baby brother. Pulling her chair back, she sat down, placing her breakfast on the table in front of her. "I get my first pokemon today!"

"Which one you gunna get, Jess?" the younger girl asked. With a smile, Jessica pulled back her brown hair, thinking over the question. She had already decided which of the three starter pokemon she wanted, but hadn't told anyone except for the baby, who couldn't divulge the information to anyone else.

"Probably a Charmander, if I can get it before one of the others do," she replied, before scowling as he father pulled on her ponytail. He was the Pokemon Master, Ash Ketchum, and was actually the one responsible for her wish to be a Trainer; at that moment though, he seemed like more of a nuisance to Jessica. "What was that for?"

"You'll need to hurry up then, so we can get over there before they do," he said, twisting the glass of milk he had between his hands. Blanching, Jessica jumped out of her seat, grabbing her half-eaten breakfast and ran upstairs. Ash grinned, as his younger daughter giggled at the antics of the older girl.

"Both of you, be nice. You're making her more antsy then she already is…come on, Ronnie, time to get cleaned up," the brunette woman said, lifting the gurgling baby out of his highchair. Ash looked up, the corner of his mouth quirking slightly, holding back a laugh.

"That's not fun, May." She looked at him, giving him a glare to shut him up, before taking Ronfar out of the kitchen to get him out of his footies and into dayclothes. Once out of earshot, Ash once again grinned at Arianna, the only remaining girl, and winked. "She just wishes she could join in!"

Giggling, Ari nodded enthusiastically.

- - -

The lab was alive with activity, as people chatted and mulled about. Many shouted out greetings as the family carved their way through, and some pointed to one of the many rooms. Ash thanked them all, and looked in, to see Professor Oak sitting at a desk scribbling on a sheet of paper.

"Hi Professor!" Jessica said, poking her head in around her father's arm. The thirteen-year-old was shoved out of the way by the seven-year-old, as Ari gave her own exclamation. The elder chuckled, as the two fought over who would stand where, and stood up to hug May as she appeared in the doorway, Ronfar sleeping soundly strapped in his pack.

"We are making this a group affair, I notice," he said, as Ari jumped up and down, her arms out to get her own embrace, and being rewarded for it with one. "You've already decided?"

"Yeah, I did last week!" Jessica nodded, beaming at her grandfather. The professor smiled in return, and opened the case that held the pokeballs of the starters. Each one had the emblem for the elements – Fire, Grass, and Water - of the pokemon contained inside. "Do I get to pick one now?"

Both the professor and the Pokemon Master nodded, getting out of her way. Her eyes wide, Jessica stepped up to the podium, looking at the three orbs that were sitting on it. She picked up the one with the fire emblem, holding it up for them to see, before releasing the pokemon inside. A lizard-like creature appeared in front of her, its tail flicking back and forth and the flame trailing. "Chaar!"

Scooping up the fire-type, Jessica danced about, dodging the podium and people surrounding her as she spun. "Don't get too happy just yet," May said, elbowing Ash and getting a dirty look from him, "you're still missing something."

She looked at her mother. Ash's eyes widened, as he recognized what was meant, and hurried into the other room, drawing curious looks from both Ari and Jessica. It took several minutes before he returned, carrying a small unlabeled box, and setting it on the desk. Professor Oak took his place in the chair, pulling it over and untying the string from around it, his oldest granddaughter hovering at his side all the while.

Pulling it off revealed a set of ten pokeballs, several basic items, and the custom pokedex, its red cover shining in the light. Jessica stared in awe at them, as they were laid out on the desk one at a time. Taking the pokedex in her hand, she flipped it open and listened to the monotone voice, as it announced her name and rank, along with how many pokemon she had. "Does this mean it's offical?" she asked.

"That's your license, so I'd say it does," Oak replied, as the girl squealed and jumped at her father.

"Daddy, you better keep practicing, because I'm not gunna take you lightly when I get to the Pokemon Finals!" Even as Jessica ran around showing off her new equipment, Ash's smile faded.

- - -

"Alright, what are you moping around for?" May asked, looking up from the couch. She twisted to look at Ash, as he sank down next to her and leaned his head back. "You've been like this ever since Jessie made her comment about the Finals."

He shook his head, and looked at her. "I don't want to fight her," he admitted, as his wife snuggled closer.

"Which is it…fear of getting beat by her and your pride taking a blow from it, or not wanting to possibly beat your own daughter?" May asked, swallowing back the giggle that was threatening to overtake her. She knew Ash wouldn't appreciate it, when so much was eating at him at that moment. "You have more then enough time to decide on what to do. Maybe around the time she'll be scheduled to battle you, go on a vacation so they can't call on you…or retire."

Ash's eyes narrowed at the comments, neither of the possibilities promising, but no others showing themselves. One seemed cowardly – running away from a battle! – while the other…

It actually made sense. It had nearly been thirteen years since the fateful day he was given his title, and he was more then qualified to step down. However, the thought of not having the Pokemon League Championship to look forward to, to not having to go on random trips around Kanto just to see the Gym Leaders for meetings or to have a press conference, brought about a inner denial that the time was nearing to say it was time someone else took over… "I don't know. I just don't know."

May twisted around to look sympathetically at him, before rising from her comfortable place on the sofa when the wails of the baby boy started in one of the other rooms. She placed a kiss on Ash's forehead, brushing back any stray hair, before letting go. "Just do what you feel is right," she said, leaving him to his own thoughts.

- - -

A half-hour later, May sat in the nursery, listening to the quiet noises of the house. She swiveled her chair around when she heard Ash's loud footsteps in the hallway, and the creaking of the office door that was next to the room she was in. Curiously, she used her feet to force the chair to roll over, so she could look out.

There was silence. Holding Ronfar with one arm and keeping his head still with her free hand so he could continue suckling, May edged out to peer into the office. Ash was sitting at the desk, his head propped up in his hand, and scribbling on the papers in front of him. There was a moment as he stared at it, then added his signature to the end of it, and faxed it to an unknown recipient.

"What'd you send out this time, hm?" May asked, coming up behind him. Ash leaned back in his chair to stare at her with wide brown eyes, trying to look at innocent as he could. "Don't try it, that isn't going to work."

Twirling around, Ash pulled her down onto his lap, getting a yawl from Ronfar when he was disturbed. "I sent in my papers," he said, closing his eyes and putting his head against her shoulder, "So once they are filed and approved, I'm done. I won't have to embarrass anyone being in a pokemon battle with Jessie and can stay home."

"….like you don't already anyway?" May smirked, when Ash peeked up and scowled at her. She could see he wasn't actually upset from the taunt, but before she could poke more fun at him, Ronfar let out a little cry, staring at them. He had finished.

"Do you think you can put him to a nap?" The question was innocent enough, except for the undertone it was asked with. Snickering, she buttoned her shirt with her free hand, purposely focusing on their son to keep from replying.

"You just need the attention." It was a statement, instead of a question. Without waiting for a reply, May went to put Ronfar to bed, knowing it was going to be a long afternoon.