Disclaimer: I wouldn't even want to own Pokémon after the voice cast changed. (Sobs) I miss Veronica Taylor…!
Author's Note: This is a really cheap attempt at throwing a bunch of my ficlet ideas into a single fic without working hard to glue them all together with plot. It was inspired by the 13th (I think?) Pokémon ending… you can youtube it, if you'd like. The animation is absolutely beautiful…
PS. Oh my God. Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. Viz used the "L" word. I never thought I'd live to see the day when Viz allowed a character to use the "L" word… I almost burst into tears. It was so moving! Thank you, Viz, for keeping that in… (SPOILER: For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, Ash kinda-sorta dies (again. He does that a lot in movies, doesn't he?), but before he does he tells Pikachu "I love you." It was incredibly heart-wrenching.)
It was the end.
And yet, it was not the end, for time moved ever onward—in a circle, in a cycle, in a never-ending flow of events and dates and goals to be reached. The day was over, yes: the sky dyed a vivid crimson, the horizon flecked with shimmering gold. Spring was nearing its sweet-scented finale, as well; like windswept snow, cotton-soft tufts of dandelion down drifted and glistened in the waning light.
Still, in spite of these many ends, the world continued to turn, bringing with it fresh starts: night would soon be upon them, new and peaceful in its tranquil shades of violet. Summer would return, too, blessing them with brilliant days of vibrant sunshine.
An end, a beginning. A finish, a start. A loop of existence that would replay and repeat until the day his life expired. But his was a life—his was a story—with no conclusion in sight, though he had already weathered the closing of many chapters.
And ironically, he had concluded each episode with the same silent farewell. In three different ways, the three identical words floated through his wandering thoughts: words that the intended recipients had never physically heard, but knew—he was sure—in their hearts.
Now that he thought of it, the first chapter had ended when an evening just like this had begun…
The setting sun had been particularly splendid that night: a rainbow of heavenly acrylics that Pallet Town had long-since become famous for. But the beauty of his hometown had long since been lost on him— (now, in the light of all the places he'd been, he wished he'd paid a bit more attention to the sunset's splendor the last time he'd made a trip home)— and there was no way something as trivial as a colorful dusk could focus his attention now. In mere hours, he would be a pokémon trainer… He'd be on the road, on his own, out in the big, wide world.
Tomorrow, at the age of ten, he would be an adult.
But for now, he was still nine, and a child, and being ushered to bed by his irritated mother.
"Ash, you should have been asleep hours ago," the young woman berated, hands on her hips as she caught sight of the clock. "You have an early morning."
He had complained and rebuked this point; she had almost physically pushed him into bed. And with a grace that only a mother could perfect, she had tucked him in, kissed his forehead, and whispered him a final lullaby before he'd even had a chance to protest.
"Oh baby, I can't believe I have to let you go," she'd murmured—and suddenly her son couldn't tell if she'd turned off the lights of if his eyes were merely closed. Regardless, he felt his consciousness floating away… her voice growing fainter as his weariness caught up with him. "But they say if you love someone, that's what you do. And I do so love you, sweetheart…"
He knew his mother well enough to hear her unshed tears; he reassured her in the only way his lethargic brain knew how.
"Dunnworry… I'llcummmback… asa master…" the boy muttered drowsily, the reply muddled beyond recognition as the world of dreams overtook him. "Youllbe proud, mama…"
There was the sound of a smile in the gentle, near-silent voice. "I'm always proud of you, sweetie. And I'll always, always love you…"
He grunted, rolling over as the weight on his bed vanished. But after a moment, the parting words had processed in his sleep-muddled mind; he breathed into the empty darkness: "I love you, too…"
There was a brief, but crisp wind—one of the last whisperings of spring. Beside him, the small yellow creature that had previously been napping blinked its bright eyes open; with a stretch and a shake, it smiled up at its trainer. He grinned in return, greeting his favorite pokémon with a pat on the head.
The electric mouse purred, nuzzled closer, then hopped enthusiastically into the young boy's embrace, feeling particularly affectionate on this nostalgic evening.
Its tiny, warm body against his own made his mind drift yet again.
They say that even the best of friends have to say goodbye.
They say that, if you really love someone, you should let them go… and if they love you, too, they'll return.
And that was the only way he could show his love for Pikachu—by letting the wonderful creature roam free. Always beside him, upon him, in his arms… and the few times they'd ever, truly been separated, whether through force, injury, or the choice to part ways— (Even now he thanked the deities above that Pikachu had decided to stay with him, rather than join the pack of wild pokémon who had offered him sanctuary)— they had always convened again, like a set of magnets that could not be pulled apart.
There was a bond between them, a bond that grew stronger with each passing day… a bond that he knew, deep in his heart of hearts, would someday break, whether they wanted it to or not.
Even the best of friends have to say goodbye.
One day, he would really have to let Pikachu go… it was inevitable.
And when that time came (as it had before, so he had said this before, and he would say it again and again, even though Pikachu might never comprehend the literal meaning of the phrase) he would tell his dearest friend:
"Take care of yourself. Thank you. I love you."
If you love someone, you'll let them go…
The words continued to wander through his mind, like an echo that persisted incessantly, reverberating in his brain. Never ceasing, growing louder… in his gloved hands, a small dandelion seed came to a rest.
He smiled at the tiny tuft, safe in his embrace; how he wished he could hold on to people, to things, to times. But that wasn't healthy, it wasn't humane.
If you love someone, you'll let them go…
"I'm never really away from you, you know."
He frowned at the vidphone monitor, arching a single eyebrow at the girl on the other end of the line. "If that were the case," he then said, voice bland and toneless, "we wouldn't be talking over the phone right now. We'd be doing this in person."
She rolled her teal-colored eyes— (Eyes like the sea, always blue or green or both, flowing and full of ever-shifting emotions; God, even now he lost himself in dreaming about them, missing the seas that had brought out the life in him)—, flicking the camera in front of her as if it were her friend's forehead. "Stupid. You're thinking in literal terms like the narrow-minded little boy you are. I'm talking metaphorically, like the infinitely wiser, worldly young woman that I am."
He snorted. "If you're so worldly, why am I the one out on an adventure while you sit on your duff back in Cerulean City?"
The teen girl ignored this remark, choosing instead to brush a strand of loose ginger hair behind her ear. "I mean that no matter where you are, or where I am, we always know we have each other. Even if there were no vidphones or emails or even letters… we're already engrained in each other's minds and hearts, and that's all we really need to always be together. I mean, you can't honestly tell me you haven't heard me yelling at you in the back of your mind, recently."
"To be honest, you hardly ever shut up," he returned with a smirk. Sarcasm was the only way he could mask his pleased, embarrassed blush, the only way to keep face; he knew she acted the same, at times. "In that way, it's like you never left."
But he chuckled to show he was only joking, and her scowl of irritation eventually melted into a laugh and a grin.
"Oh, you know you miss me."
"I know. I'm just never going to admit it," he teased, leaning closer to the screen, closer to her smiling face, as if it were possible to feel her warmth from so far away.
And— whether deliberately or subconsciously— she immediately mimicked this movement. If they had physically been together at that moment, their foreheads would've been touching. He would have been able to smell her soft scent of daffodils and salt water, feel her cool breath tickle the tip of his nose…
Deep inside his chest, his lonely heart ached.
But he hid this with a beam, sticking out his tongue. "And don't you pretend you don't wish you were still hanging out with the cool kids."
"Cool kids? I remember no cool kids. I just remember you and Brock," she retorted snidely, then winked and giggled and checked her watch. "Oh… darn it. I have a gym challenger coming in any minute. We'll have to continue this battle of wits after I win a battle of pokémon. But Ash—" The girl paused and attempted to set her face in a serious glower. "Have some better ammo next time, okay?"
"Just trying to keep the game fair," he returned sweetly, flexing his fingers in farewell. "Talk at you later, Misty…"
The display went black.
Yet, despite this glaringly obvious fact, he kept his forehead pressed lightly to the cool plastic. For a full minute, he sat perfectly still: gaze lowered, face flushed, her loveliness still alive in his mind's eye… and with a broken whisper, the young man added the parting words he still had yet to say to her, but someday wished to share:
"…I love you."
In the growing scarlet gloom, the young man smiled.
Yes, they had been bitter endings. Occasionally, they even hurt to think about. But, at the same time, they had been beautiful beginnings... Preludes, he hoped, to the joy and wonder still to come.
His story was far from over.
And with a gentle breath, Ash sent the dandelion puff flying, off into the star-strewn darkness with its pallid brethren.