I've tried my best to be a man and be strong

You wanna know the last thing I ever said to Ash Ketchum?

The very last thing he ever heard from me?

"Whatever, Ash. You might think you're a good trainer, but you'll never be good enough to beat me."

Of course, his snappy come back was typical for him. It went something exactly like this:

"You're nothing but a jerk, Gary Oak! Someday, you'll be sorry!"

You know what? For once, Ash was right about something and that day has finally come.

That pleasant little exchange had come after yet another Pokémon battle. The previous time we'd battled, it was Eevee versus Pikachu. This time it was Umbreon versus Pikachu. The outcome of this battle was as pitiful as the last for Ash, though Umbreon did have a rather good workout. Yet it was no different here outside of Olivine City, than it had been in Gramps' meadow in our quaint hometown of Pallet.

The basic rundown of the match was that I won and Ash lost.

Badly.

Umbreon dished out a defeat on Pikachu and wiped the ground with the little rat. I admired the little yellow battery pack's spunk, but he had a bad trainer. There wasn't much he could do about that, you know. No one could be as good as me.

Huh. That, however, was all in the past now.

Before I could get too lost in my musings, I quietly evaluated my surroundings as I sauntered alone down the main street of Pallet. Even though it was getting dark out, and even though it had been raining steadily nearly all day long, it was extremely busy in Pallet. As I walked around the darkening streets, it was hard to not listen to snippets of conversation. Not like I wanted to miss out on such juicy conversation. Yeah, right. Please, don't make me roll my eyes. I don't live on gossip like some sort of girl. However, what the group I was passing now had to say was vaguely interesting.

"He could've been a gym leader, he was that good..."

"...such powerful Pokémon..."

"...damned near placed in the Prada League! I mean, come on!"

Okay, so there's no such thing as the Prada League. I held back a growl as I glared at a group of giggling girls who had walked by just as the man who had been talking about the nameless League had said the name of the League. They paid me no attention as they giggled over their purchase, and the man…Well, he said something and they said Prada right over it. And now he had vanished into thin air. The man had looked like a hiker who might have had an Onix or two dozen in his backpack. Maybe he was a ghost or something, because someone that big couldn't disappear that fast and…No, there he was at a noodle cart, and he was still talking to his friend.

Forget it. If there's anything I needed right now, it was a drink or maybe two. To forget about Leagues (especially ones that I wouldn't be competing against Ash in), giggling girls, and stupid hikers.

Gritting my teeth would only give me a headache. Or at least, that's what I told myself. I shook my head and stopped in the small, but busy, Cyndaquill Café and took a seat at the counter. I sat there for a full ten minutes before realizing that no one would wait on me. Rule One of Gary Oak's Ways to Stay Sane: Never go to a busy café and expect quick service, no matter who you are. Why was it so busy, you might be asking yourself, or me...

Well, let's just say that when Pallet loses one of its own, and when he had such a promising future stretched out before him that was so unexpectedly snatched away, that people flock to where the news is at. I'm just guessing that it's a media thing. Okay, maybe only partially a media thing.

Suddenly, I heard a man near me say to his companion, "...he was stampeded by a rogue trio of Tauros. He had been battling a rival..."

With a grimace, I turned away. I didn't need to hear about an ending I knew too much about. Being Gary Oak means a lot of things. Mostly that not much slips past me. Save for that day and that one little instant. My stomach clenched at the thought of the day my life changed forever. I looked at the waitress that was finally headed my way and shook my head at her. For some reason, I'd lost my appetite.

Leaving the cafe was a lot easier than going into it. Fine, so it was easy getting into it, I'm just being a little dramatic. I'm allowed. I'm...having an off sort of week.

After leaving the cafe, I kept walking until I approached the private road that edged the Pallet Town Cemetery. The road itself was black asphalt, not new, but not old. I think they repaved it only a couple of years ago. A few dead leaves skittered across its surface as a red car darted by, and I watched as the leaves were picked up in the car's wake, and listened to them as they spun and twirled. I shook my head and lifted my lip in a grimace for just a second.

Damn, focus, Gary!

The cemetery was quiet for the first time in days, but that was only due to the fact that the tall front entry gates were locked. The massive iron gates barred entry to anyone but the slimmest of girls who could slip between the wrought iron bars. I couldn't imagine anyone desperate enough to do something that stupid. For what? To visit the grave of some dead kid stupid enough to get himself killed?

I know, I know, that was insensitive. Whatever.

Then again, the gates also kept the residents from leaving. Heh, heh. Oh, come on! You haven't seen zombie movies? Okay, so it was a bad joke, I know. So sue me.

All around the cemetery was a seven-foot high stone wall. That in itself was not climbable, and the gate was not very friendly to people to squeeze through, but there was a break in the stone wall a few feet from the main gate. How do I know that? Please and a half. I'm Gary Oak! How can I not know? Plus when you've lived in Pallet for as long as I have, you know ways to sneak into places you're not supposed to be in. I remember the time I dared Ash, scaredy Meowth that he was, to sneak in here when we were six. Heh, I scared the shit out of him when I jumped from behind a tombstone. I was dressed as a Ghastly and I had a recording of a Ghastly, and I played it so I sounded like one. (sigh) Memories! Oh, I'm going to get all teary eyed.

But I digress. Ah, just as I had asked him to be, Umbreon was waiting for me under a tree. He was glad to see me, and yipped softly. I grinned and motioned with my head. Let's get this done with, partner. I may have thought it, but he knew what I wanted to do and he followed me without even the slightest hesitation.

We walked down the main brick paved road of the cemetery, and as the gold bands on his legs flashed in the night, I noticed that the weather had changed. The rain that had been falling all day had settled into being a mist of its former summer fury. My boots were looking a little soggy, but that's what I get for not putting any water repellant on them. We reached a joint in the road where it intersected with what was called the Main Gates Road.

Although the name sounds like something that would be at the beginning of the cemetery, it was actually near the center, and almost directly aligned with the main gate. At that point in the cemetery was a small hill and on the top of the hill was a fat, old cranky looking oak tree. I'd climbed this tree many times when I was young and proclaimed myself ruler of Pallet when I had reached the top. Why? Just because it was an oak tree and I'm an Oak. It made a lot more sense when I was younger.

Digression, thy name is Gary Oak. How did I get to be such a thought rambler? We never stopped walking, even though Umbreon looked up at me and gave a little yip. I looked down and grinned, as we walked up the grassy hill and walked to view my target. There was a new grave that resided near my tree. For years, the grass on this hill had been allowed to grow a little tall, for the wild pokemon in this area, but now the grass was short all around the tree, as if it'd been cut yesterday. Everything was rain dampened and smelled of freshly disturbed earth, even though the grave itself had fresh grass covering the dirt of the recently deceased.

Umbreon and I paused at the foot of the grave, and I gazed at the surroundings. The hill wasn't small, as it crested and flattened out very wide, but the grass around the grave was extremely trampled. Many, many people had been here, though there were not a lot of items left near the headstone to show it. Only few dozen bouquets of flowers at ringed the headstone, and a small toy store of stuffed animals jockeyed for position around the flowers. I stared at the newly erected tombstone and felt a sudden swelling in my throat, and felt a great wave of emotion as tears blurred my sight.

"Ash, I'm so sorry!"

I think the sound of my own voice may have startled me. I didn't talk much now since it didn't really seem worth it. When you lose something that's this important to you, little things like talking pretty much pale in comparison. I'd always meant to tell him differently, to say something that didn't involve the word, "Loser," when I said it. That I'd always admired his training methods, his stubbornness, or his bond with all his Pokémon. You know when it was? When I saw him battling for his Earth Badge, I realized how far he'd be able to go.

"But I was too slow," I gritted my teeth at the darkness that surrounded me. "And the circumstances were…difficult."

Brushing away the tears, I glanced down at the bouquets of flowers and the stuffed animals that sat at the base of the tombstone. People had admired this fallen person, this Pride of Pallet. That's why the gates had been locked; too many people wanted in. I'm sure some could sneak in like I had, but only those that lived here knew the secret ways in. Well, unless they were really desperate and had a Psychic Pokémon teleport them in, or a flying type. Oh, there are ways, of course.

I smirked down at the tombstone, thinking of how Ash had finally surpassed me, just like he always wanted to.

It didn't have to come to this though, I thought sullenly. It was, had been, crucial for me to be five steps ahead of Ash...and yet, though he certainly didn't know it, I always found him to be one step ahead of me. It was frustrating. All the goading and bragging, the cheerleaders and cars, all that was meant to break down Ash's reserves, make him want to give up being a Master and have him go crying home to Mommy like he always did when I won one over on him.

Not this time though. This time all of those things had the opposite, undesirable, effects. Ash strove to beat me; he excelled at most things when I wasn't around. Though Ash didn't know it, Gramps always took the time to remind me of that. Ash must have been good, to have won his badges, to have gotten into the League Games, and then on to winning the Orange Islands Games, Johto, etc. Yet, it seems that I always brought out the worst in him, angered him with my mere presence. It never had to be like that, but I could never find a way to apologize. How can someone apologize for years of torment? What would the first step have been?

I guess we'll never know now.

With a glare at the grave, I kicked at the grass and sent a stuffed jigglypuff flying, "He was so stupid, wasn't he?" But Umbreon was silent and let me glare at the tombstone for a moment longer. The silence of the cemetery was almost overwhelming, so much that I was startled by Umbreon's call.

"Yip!"

Reacting instantly to the alarm, I jumped up into the branches of the tree and navigated my way to a safe distance. I was hidden within the thick leaves, but I could see the grave below me with no trouble. Umbreon sat by my side and remained quietly by my side. I knew he hated trees, but he loved me, so it was okay.

Together, we watched as two pokemon forms, one yellow and one green, darted up to the grave. It was two of Ash's Pokémon, Pikachu and Chikorita. I smirked at the sight. His Pokémon never had a big thing for evolving.

"Pikapi..." Pikachu sighed. One long ear hung dejectedly and the yellow mouse sighed again. He looked first at the tombstone, then at Chikorita. The green pocket monster stared blankly at the tombstone. Was she in shock? She had seen the whole accident. So did Pikachu.

Umbreon nuzzled my arm as I closed my eyes against the remembered images of that day, but they still came. I can remember recalling an exuberant Umbreon, walking off after the battle, expertly spinning Umbreon's Pokéball on one fingertip, and waving at a pissed Ash with the other hand. I know I got about twenty steps from Ash when the lone Tauros burst from the shrubs that lined the road and started to chase me. I still don't know what got it so angry. Maybe the sounds of our battle pissed it off, or maybe it was their mating season and we were too near some of their Miltank, or maybe it just thought I wanted to catch it since I had a Pokéball in hand.

Whatever the case, I clearly remember running for my life...Running is what I remember the most.

'Ash, run!' I had yelled out.

He had looked confused for a moment, and I saw that he still held a dazed and near-fainted Pikachu in his arms. Would he ever get that stupid rat into a Pokeball? The sight of an enraged Tauros cleared his peabrain and we all began running. Chikorita refused to get in her Pokéball and instead ran alongside Ash. She hadn't been part of the battle since it had been one on one, but she wasn't strong enough to handle a Tauros. Maybe if she had evolved, we would have stood a chance. Moot point now.

Running for our lives down a dirt road was no fun, but it got exceedingly less fun when two more enraged Tauros stood waiting for us when we rounded a bend in the road.

'Shit, Ash we have to get out of here!' I had snapped. When I get scared, I snap.

'I know that, Gary!! I'm not stupid!' and with that, he tossed Chikorita up into a tree branch with one hand, then proceeded to toss Pikachu up with the other, into the waiting vines Chikorita had extended. With the rat safe in the tree, Chikorita ran her vines down again, this time for Ash. The whole process took seconds, a practiced move or something, but it took seconds we didn't have.

As the Tauros bore down on us, both Chikorita and Ash froze. That's when things went in slow motion mode. Chikorita wouldn't make it in time to save Ash, but as close as the trio of Tauros terror was to Ash, I was closer to him than Chikorita would be able to help out. I remember crying out, 'Ash...Noooo!' and running for him.

But I had been far too slow that day.

Umbreon nudged me back to the present. Chikorita had something small and brown in her vines. For a second, I frowned and wasn't sure I wanted to know what it was that the little dinosaur had. Then she gave it to Pikachu and he nodded to her. The rat held it in his little arms for a moment before depositing it with the rest of the stuffed animals. They closed their eyes for a moment, opened them, and left. It was then that I noticed a small human figure at the bottom of the hill. Unsure if the person was male or female, due to the dark coat, low riding umbrella, and basic darkness of night, I frowned. From what I could see, the person didn't look tall enough to be an adult. Could it be Misty? If it was, why didn't she come up to put the gift on the grave, instead of the Pokémon?

I waited until the trio walked away and the cemetery fell quiet, save for the misty rain, which was beginning to fall a bit heavier. Misty rain, I snorted to myself, how poetic. We dropped to the ground and I walked over to the grave.

What I saw brought a smug smile to my face and I knew who the figure was.

A small stuffed Eevee sat among the stuffed animals. It was sheltered by a few bundles of flowers, which barely gave it shelter from the rain, but it wasn't just that it was an Eevee that choked me up. It was the slightly battered Earth Badge that was pinned to its fluffy mane.

"Thanks, Ash," I whispered, before adding my medallion to the procession of gifts. With a weary sigh, I placed the medallion at the feet of the Eevee and gently looped the leather cord around its neck. "You're not really a loser. You know?"

My eyes lingered over the inscription that was engraved on the cold black marble of the tombstone, and I sighed again before shaking my head and walking away.

IN LOVING MEMORY,

June 21, 1974 - July 22, 2001

GARY OAK

A hero till the very end


A strong breeze caught Pikachu's attention and the little electric mouse turned around with a small, "Pi?"

With his keen eyesight, Pikachu looked back at the hilltop and caught sight of a lone Umbreon standing amidst a flurry of crystalline glimmers. The faintest image of a person was outlined with those glimmers...a very familiar image that lingered for a moment before vanishing. Seconds later, the Umbreon slunk away.

Pikachu blinked back sudden tears before spinning around and running after its two companions with a cry of, "Pikapi!!"

The figure turned around and barely had time to react to the Pokemon's emotional outburst. He dropped the umbrella as he instinctively reached out to catch the flying Pikachu.

In the safety of familiar human arms, Pikachu nuzzled Ash's face. With tear reddened eyes, Ash cried with Pikachu, "It's just too soon. I still can't believe Gary's gone."


Yes, in this story, I killed off Gary. I'm sorry...I like Gary a LOT!!! I wanted to write a story where I killed off a character and this song very much inspired me. I needed to find the perfect character to base it on and, of course, Gary was the perfect character.

This is an updated copy. I have the original on my computer at home if you don't like this one, but I find this one to be a better version. I'm almost inspired to write something else based on this and not leave it as a oneshot.