Ten years later...

May looked up from the sink and out of the window, sighing. In the backyard she could see Glaceon and Pikachu curled up together, and both Bulbasaur sleeping nearby. In a distant corner Munchlax was poking its nose inside into the hedge, obviously searching out something to eat, and she caught a brief flash of brown as Noctowl flew past the window.

Her heart heavy, she returned to the dishes, vainly trying to scrub off a persistent stain. At last giving it up as a bad job she left the pan in to soak, dried her hands, and sat down on the couch to wait. She wasn't waiting for long. A loud crash echoed from upstairs, and then she heard footsteps thundering down the stairs. She turned just in time to see the figure of her slightly clumsy daughter, Alex, dashing towards the front door.

"Bye, Mom!" she shouted, wrenching the door open. "I've gotta go, I don't want to be late!"

"Don't you at least want some breakfast first?" May called after her receding figure. Alex appeared to have not heard, and May sighed. "She's as impulsive as her father," she murmured as Pikachu walked in through the still open door and sprang on to her shoulder, nuzzling her cheek.

"Well good morning, Pikachu," she greeted him warmly. "Are you ready to see her off?"

"Pi!" Pikachu agreed. May returned to the kitchen and wrapped some buttered toast in a napkin before heading to the door.

"Come on then," she said, "we may as well go now. I doubt she'll want to stay at Gary's lab for too long before leaving. Glaceon!" she called, and the ice type came around the side of the house and fell into step at her side. Closing the door securely behind her, May turned and headed up the path towards the lab. Her thoughts churned as she walked, and she couldn't help but feel a pit of loneliness in her stomach.

It had been a gut-wrenching ten years. Since Ash's death outside Mount Silver, so much had changed. She had carried their daughter for nine months before giving birth. She had felt a little strange for the weeks preceeding the first bulge of her waistline, and had been very surprised when the doctor told her she would be having a child. She hadn't even known she was pregnant, and realized that it must have happened on that night in the Vermillion City Pokemon Centre. She fely slightly teary-eyed every time she recalled the moment of birth; Ash's last gift to her. Thankfully it had been relatively easy.

But the birth had been shrouded in much sadness. Shortly after the battle ended, May returned to Pallet Town with Brock, Dawn, and Silver. Delia had been very pleased to see them at first, but broke down when Silver told her what had happened, and the truth about what hd happened to her husband - he conveniently neglected to tell her that Dawn was her step-daughter. Distraught at the knowledge, Delia had lost the will to live. She became a shadow of her former self, sunken in grief, not caring if she lived or died. She had held her granddaughter for only a few moments before she died in her hospital bed. Barely two years later, Professor Oak also died. Unlike Delia, his passing was peaceful. He had simply gone to bed one night, claiming he was tired, and not woken up again.

Latias suffered almost as much as Delia in the year following Ash's death. She had transformed into her human state after so she could express her grief more freely, but was unable to transform back later. She stayed with May for a time, but never seemed to be able to control her sorrow and guilt. She was often listless, unmoving, and tears never seemed to be far from her eyes. A month after Alex's birth, she quietly left one morning and did not return. Nobody knew where she had gone. May contacted Lorenzo and Bianca of Alto Mare City several times, but they were never revisited by the legendary Pokemon, although Latios had returned to their greatest surprise. It was only later that Brock revealed to her how Latias's father had sacrificed himself to save lives, just as Ash had. That in combination with the feelings he suspected Latias had secretly harboured for Ash had cost her deeply, he theorized. It made a vague sense, but May wished she could have at least said goodbye to the legendary Pokemon; she suspected that Latias had gone to Ash's grave and kept an undetected vigil there ever since.

It had been a much happier time outside of Pallet. Her brother had won a League and become the Petalburg Gym leader after their father retired. Rey had finally claimed the last three Kanto badges she needed and competed in the Indigo League, where she placed second. Following that she had decided to travel the world on foot, travelling through Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh. Three years ago Rey fell out of touch with all her old friends, although they all tried to contact her frequently; May hoped that wherever she was, she was happy. Brock and Dawn certainly were; Brock had met Holly in a chance encounter at the Viridian City Pokemon Centre. A short time later they had married, and only the next day Dawn and Forrest were also wedded. It was the only time May had ever seen Silver cry, although he'd said it was because, as Dawn's closest living male relative, he'd had to foot the bill.

Tears began filling up in her eyes as the memories came back to her, good and bad alike. But forefront among this was the realization that, for the first time in her life, she would be alone. After Ash's death she had been surrounded by his friends and family, and when they began to disperse she had her daughter to look after. Now Alex was leaving on her own Pokemon journey, and May would be alone in the house.

"Maybe I should become a Frontier Brain," she said aloud, surprising Pikachu and Glaceon. "After the Battle Colosseum was rebuilt Scott said that the position was open for me if I wanted it. It's not too far away from town, and it would give me a chance to get my battle skills back into shape. What do you guys think?"

"Pika pi!" Pikachu agreed

"Grai!" Glaceon nodded happily.

And then Pikachu's ears twitched.

"What's the matter, Pikachu?" May asked, noticing his sudden attentiveness.

"Pika pi!" Pikachu shouted, pointing behind them. May turned, dropped the toast, and almost fell over. Her body felt frozen at what she saw. It was impossible... It couldn't be...

Moving slowly, a Ho-Oh soared overhead, its glittering golden body eschewing a rainbow stream as it moved by. It flew over her and let loose a piercing cry as it passed, a cry that brought tears to her eyes. She felt its eyes following her as it flew directly over her before moving on, heading in the direction of Gary Oak's lab. And in that one instant, all the doubt and fear that she had over her daughter's journey was lost. Alex's father was watching over her.

"Ash..." May whispered. And then, with a blink of her eyelashes, there was a second tremulous cry and it was gone.

Thank you all for reading this over the last year. Thank you all so much. I hope that you enjoyed it. I'll take this final moment to drop two pieces of advice:
1) Never be afraid to write;
2) Dream out loud.

Thank you, everyone.