A/N: Look who's still alive! *SHOT* And with an extra long chapter for you guys. Apologies for making you wait so long. School and work come before fanficiton though ^^ but trust me, the story is still alive and well. I'm just getting to the good parts! I have not yet begun to torture poor Ash and Pikachu! (I only do it because I love them ;3 I promise)

Goodness so many nice reviews! Thank you all, you're very kind ^^


Chapter 7: Down Pour

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"Six weeks, sir."

His gaze wandered up to the ceiling fan of his office. Rolling his shoulders as if to wake himself up, he repositioned himself in his chair. "And the mother?"

Agent 62 shifted his weight to his left foot, arms still folded behind his back as he stood respectfully at attention. "Assumed to be fully recovered. She was battling yesterday."

He raised an eyebrow in interest. "The outcome?"

"Victorious. Against a young lucario."

He grinned and looked down from the fan. He folded his hands neatly in his lap. "She never ceases to amaze me," he chuckled, "Only proving again and again that I have exceptional taste." Wide grin still present on his face, he set his hands on his desk, palms flat against the polished oak finish. "Arrange for my transportation. Make reservations, spare nothing. I'll need my best suit pressed of course."

The agent nodded as his boss rose from his seat, brushing down the front of his dress coat. Italian leather shoes padded softly on the carpet as he rounded his desk. "Have my secretary go out and buy something ridiculously expensive and shiny, but not gaudy. I trust her opinion."

He waved this nonchalantly at his agent who remained still and at attention as he passed him. His eyes landed on the persian lounging comfortably on a large plush pillow in the corner of the room. "Oh… and make sure Vittoria has a bath."

At the sound of the accursed word, the feline Pokémon lifted her head in alarm. Almost immediately she bolted from the room, tail between her legs.

He smirked when he saw his agent's shoulders sag at the thought of having to chase down the large cat. He patted his employee's back as he passed him.

"Not to worry, Richard. You've been impressing me as of late. If all this goes to my liking expect a significant change in your position."

Rich's eyes widened, only slightly though as if to try and hide his true excitement about the prospect of a promotion. He turned his head to watch his superior exit the room before allowing himself a satisfied grin.

***

Her little body was practically vibrating with excitement, but she did her best to contain it to a slight tremble. Her furiously wagging tail gave her away though.

She just wanted it on. She wanted to see it, see how it looked, to admire it against the black mantel of fur around her neck and shoulders. She bet it looked perfect. She'd nearly imploded with joy when the water trainer had presented it to her, pulling it out of the little shopping bag and holding it out for her to see, to touch.

"Hold still Ribbon," Misty giggled, attempting to tie the little sash around the pichu's neck. Ribbon's excited trembling was making the soothe bell laced through the sash jingle.

"You would…"

Misty glanced up at her boyfriend standing in the doorway of the kitchen and leaning against the frame. She smirked at him, finishing her bow and allowing Ribbon to scamper over to her purse and fish out the little green compact she knew was inside. With minor difficultly, the pichu opened the hand held mirror almost as big as her, holding it out to get a better look at her reflection. She'd seen the human girl use it many times before and was fascinated with the contents of Misty's purse.

Ribbon's eyes sparkled at the sight of the sash, color matching her powder pink cheeks and the golden bell standing out nicely from her black fur.

Ash rolled his eyes. "What have you done to her?"

Misty scoffed. "Indulged her need to accessorize. Think of it as a name tag."

Ash raised his eyebrow with a sarcastic smirk. "How witty."

"You're the one that let me name her; it was inevitable from that very moment."

Ribbon was hearing none of it, too enthralled with how she looked wearing the new gift from her trainer's mate. She'd become very fond with the red headed human, often following her around the house and interested in whatever she was doing.

Misty didn't mind in the least and encouraged it. Her azurill had been spending a lot of time over at Professor Oak's lab. She was okay with it; she wanted the little Pokémon to spend time with Tracy's Marill, Azurill's mother. She was so pleased to find Marill still interested in her child, many Pokémon seemingly forgetting they had ever given birth before.

But with Azurill absent for the time, Misty's urge to have something to cuddle and care for needed to be attended to. Ribbon was more than happy to fill the position, taking up the free space that now resided in Misty's cradled arms.

Ribbon's ears perked at the sound of padded paws on the kitchen floor. Looking over the side of the table she waved frantically at her mother. Her brothers were following behind Pikachu at a slower pace, their attempts at tackling one another the reason being.

"Mama! Look! Look-it!"

Pikachu smiled up at her daughter puffing her chest out to show off the soothe bell. She nodded in approval, happy simply because Ribbon seemed to be pleased. "I see! How beautiful. Did Misty give you that?"

Not that Pikachu needed the answer, she knew very well out of any of their human companions; Misty would be the one to get her child such a gift. Many times the girl had attempted to dress her up, but Pikachu was not one for bows and ribbons or silly useless articles of clothing tailored to her size. They merely got in the way during battles.

Ash certainly wouldn't waste time buying accessories. She was sure of that.

Pikachu hopped up to one of the chairs, front paws up on the edge of the table as she leaned forward to sniff at her daughter's new fashion statement.

"How come she gets stuff?"

"Yeah!"

Pikachu smirked down at the brothers, Pulse and Sprite both adorning annoyed, pouting looks. Shrugging good-naturedly, she nodded at their concern. "Okay boys, if you want soothe bells too, I'm sure we can get -"

Loud protests of 'EW!' and 'NO WAY!' stopped Pikachu from continuing, chuckling at their reactions. Just as she expected.

Ribbon stuck her tongue out at her brothers as they switched from complaining about their own lack of presents and instead started to make fun of hers. "It is NOT stupid! I'm gonna look pretty when we meet the team!"

Sprite scoffed as he attempted to leap up onto the chair like his mother had done. "The team doesn't care about pretty." He landed with a soft thud back on the kitchen tile, still not having the height to reach the chair.

Pulse though, managed to leap high enough to clasp his little claws into the seat's edge, pulling himself up the rest of the way. "Yeah, pretty doesn't help you in battles…"

A mixture of hurt and annoyance played across Ribbon's face and she looked to her mother for reassurance. Pikachu was quick to supply, nuzzling her daughter comfortingly. "If the two of you don't behave, it'll be another week till you meet anyone…"

A loud round of whining 'piiiichuuu!' rang through the kitchen and Misty giggled at the small family of Pokémon before her. It was interesting to watch them interact with each other. Of course she had no idea what they were saying truly, but some things didn't need complete translation.

Ash had apparently picked up on the warning tone in the mother Pokémon's voice. He folded his arms. "No. No! You'd better not be threatening what I think you're threatening."

Pikachu tilted her head at him, but kept a wry smile on her maw.

Misty rolled her eyes. "Mr. Impatient…"

"I've been waiting weeks for this," Ash stated mater-of-factly. "Nothing's going to ruin today… and stop dressing up my little champion," he sneered, gingerly plucking Ribbon off the table. The little pichu could still fit snuggly between his two palms.

"Pichu!" Ribbon squeaked excitedly, paws outstretched in an attempt to hug Ash's face.

Ash cuddled her against his cheek affectionately. "That's right, girl. You tell her you dun wanna be prissy and sissy and all that stuff, huh? My little killer!" he cooed.

Misty snorted, shaking her head. "Killer? Please… admit it Ash."

"Admit what?" he sniffed, ignoring her eyes and giving all his attention to the pichu kit batting at his long bangs.

"Ribbon's not a battler."

Ash rolled his eyes. "What gives you that idea?"

Misty raised an eyebrow at her boyfriend, slowly looking over to Ribbon who was currently washing Ash's cheek with her tiny pink tongue, purring through the entire process. She looked back at Ash. "… You're kidding, right?"

Ash glared. "What? Cause you put on a bow and girl-ified her a bit you think she's not gonna fight?"

"No, I think because she runs in terror at the sound of the toaster she's not going to fight."

"It surprised her!"

"She won't go near bread, Ash…"

"Everyone's afraid of something!"

Misty sighed, deciding the battle was not worth fighting. Mostly because he'd have to admit it sooner or later. She just hoped it was before he embarrassed himself with the phrase "Ribbon, I choose you!"

"Pichu-Pi! Pichu-Pi!"

Ash looked down at Ribbon's brothers circling his ankles and tugging at his pant legs, obviously wanting attention as well. He smiled and leaned down to scoop up Pulse and Sprite, tucking them against his body as they clung to the fabric of his baseball-t.

"Alright you three! Time to meet the Family!" he announced, throwing his fist up dramatically and pointing to the back door.

The three kits responded by pumping their fists in imitation of their trainer, just as excited and anxious as he was. Feeding off his energy, they leaned over his arm in anticipation as Ash headed towards the door.

Pikachu glanced up at Misty who smiled down at her. "He's nothing if not enthusiastic, huh?"

"Pika-chu."

Misty leaned down, offering her shoulder to the creature who promptly leapt up, perching herself on the yellow short-sleeved hooded sweatshirt. The two followed Ash as he pushed open the door, proudly stepping out onto the back porch and marching down the steps.

Sneakers touching down on the grass, Ash gently set the three pichu down at his feet. Sprite's nose was in the dew laced blades immediately, sniffing at the soil in a flurry of movement. So many new smells.

Pulse's nose was to the sky, stretching out on his hind legs and surveying everything before him. So many new sights.

Ribbon's heart was thundering in her chest and she was immediately backing up onto Ash's sneakers, needing some sense of cover, of protection. So many new DANGERS.

"Piii-KA-chuuu!"

Ribbon turned a trembling gaze towards the sound of her mother. She looked calm and content atop Misty's shoulder. It was slightly reassuring. But only slightly.

"It's okay, we're all here," Pikachu soothed, crawling down Misty's arm and leaping off her elbow. Landing with ease on the soft ground bellow, she trotted over to her offspring.

She could see it in Sprite's eyes; he just wanted to run. Pulse's muscles were tight and poised, obviously keeping himself from bolting as well. They wanted nothing more than to explore. Sprite attempted to ask permission, buttering up to his mother as he rubbed the length of his body against her side with a pleading purr.

Pikachu smiled. She knew the urge well and nodded to her sons, but not without warning. "You see those flowers? Don't go beyond that garden, I mean it," she chirped.

That was all they needed, the two brother pichu were off like a shot, sniffing and rolling around in the designated area their mother had allowed them to. She smiled proudly at their vivacity, but her ears perked at sudden movement beneath her.

Ribbon was nudging herself under her mother's front paw, small black tail tucked between her legs. The jingle of her soothe bell accompanied her whimpering.

Having had a feeling that this would be the outcome, Pikachu sighed in understanding. She stood up on her hind legs and hoisted her daughter up into her arms, propping her against her shoulder where Ribbon promptly clung.

"It's big…"

"It's the outdoors, honey."

"It's too big."

Pikachu chuckled, rubbing her child's back. "I can't make it smaller, if that's what you want."

"Big…"

Her mother sighed and simply held her tight. She looked up at her human friends, Misty giving her a sympathetic look. But Ash was oblivious as always, stepping back a few feet and whistling for Pulse and Sprite. They raised they heads from their exploring and scampered back to him.

Once they were at his sneakers, Ash smirked, unclipping the pokeballs from his belt. "Alright you three… say hi to the guys!"

With a strong under handed toss, five pokeballs flew up into the air, bright light bursting from within them as they popped open. The light morphed around the small clearing, reflecting in the eyes of Pulse and Sprite who watched with awe struck expressions. Ribbon cautiously looked up from her mother's shoulder.

Five figures emerged from the bolts of light that sprang free from the pokeballs. Bayleaf shook her body free from the stiffness that came with resting for so long. Staraptor followed suit by extending her massive wingspan.

Sprite stared up at the two of them, eyes wide and slowly looking up as Bayleaf approached him. The little pichu stumbled backward, having leaned back too far while observing the grass type's height. Staraptor was quick to extend the tip of her wing, catching Sprite before he could hit the ground. The two older Pokémon smiled at each other with an amused giggled.

Pulse gaped, jaw dropped as Rampardos threw back his massive head with a wide yawn, and Monferno arched his back in a cat stretch. The two leaned down towards the pichu, Rampardos releasing a powerful snort that nearly knocked Pulse off his paws. But the pichu merely grinned in response, leaping up onto the rock type's long snout and holding onto the short horn for support. Rampardos chuckled, lifting Pulse up to Monferno's eye level where the fire primate could greet him as well.

Pleased with how social her son's were being, Pikachu shifted her daughter to her other hip, making her way towards the group in hopes Ribbon's shyness would wear off. But the kit's face was firmly buried in her mother's shoulder, having shielded her vision when the enormous Pokémon had taken shape before them.

"This is your family, Ribbon," Pikachu reassured, "you don't have to be afraid of any of them." With that she gently pulled her daughter off her shoulder.

Ribbon's arm outstretched desperately towards Pikachu, refusing to be put down, but was given no choice. Once her paws were on the ground though, she clung to her mother's side instantly.

"She's a little shy." Ribbon heard her mother's voice directed towards someone else, Pikachu's paws on her shoulders. Very carefully she turned Ribbon around to face the new presence, coaxing her forward.

The pichu kit forced her eyes open, gaze set directly on a large pair of orange paws in front of her. Trailing up, Ribbon found the paws attached to a wide grin and a pair of dashing blue eyes.

"Shy? That's a surprise given her mother…" Floatzel folded his arms across his chest with a smirk. Pikachu returned the look.

"Ribbon, this is Floatzel."
The tiny pichu blinked twice, finally breaking her stare from the water Pokémon towering over her. Everything about the weasel screamed confidence. His strong stance, his suave gaze, simply the way he carried himself. She didn't doubt he was a powerful battler.

It was slightly daunting to someone such as herself, but Ribbon was enthralled. If she could be like that… that toaster would have to watch out.

Ash beamed excitedly as he watched the introductions take place. Everyone seemed to be getting along perfectly, exactly how he wanted it to be. It was a positive sign for when he'd bring the triplets to the Professor's later. The trainer couldn't help but grin when he watched the oldest of the pichu attempt to headbutt his Rampardos.

"Show 'em what you got, Pulse!" Ash called out, encouraging the kit's enthusiasm. Rampardos looked towards his trainer before crouching, lowering his massive head down to the pichu.

Pulse blinked a few times, lost at the command before it slowly sunk in. He smiled as wide as he could, nearly shaking with excitement. A chance to prove his skill! Quickly composing himself, Pulse backed up a few paces.

"Ash…" Misty shook her head, but he held up his hand to stop her.

"He's got this. He took down a marshmallow yesterday."

Misty raised an eyebrow at him. "A marshmallow? We're you training or making s'mores?"

"Two birds, Mist," Ash grinned, "one stone!"

Pulse crouched low, tail in the air as he stared down his opponent. He could hear his mother shout from a few yards away, "Widen your stance, Pulse!" He complied, correcting his footing and taking a deep breath.

With all he had Pulse released a spark large enough to rival a power surge that might shut off a hair dryer, the bolt directed towards Rampardos' horn. His attack hit its target dead on, but as a rock type, Rampardos felt nothing more than a slight twitch. Being a good sport though, the older Pokémon feigned a grimace.

Pulse reeled from the attack, having shocked himself slightly in the process, his vision was swimming. But he could still hear the small applause from the team members around him. He smiled through his dizziness, trying to puff out his chest, only to stumble over, eliciting giggles from the group.

Seeing the attention his brother was receiving, Sprite quickly ran over to Ash, circling him once before stopping to stand next to his sneaker. The trainer smirked down at the anxious looking kit. "You wanna go, Sprite?"

"Pi-CHU!" the kit responded, paws in the air.

Ash chuckled, "Alright Bayleaf! You've got a challenger!"

Bayleaf smiled and swung her long neck down, giving the kit a 'come and get it' look.

"Sprite, use headbutt!"

Kicking up some dust, Sprite launched himself forward at the much larger Pokémon. Panting slightly as he picked up speed, the pichu shut his eyes tight and lowered his head. With a soft SMACK Sprite collided with the side of Bayleaf's head, not even nudging the dinosaur, instead knocking himself back into a somersault.

Having failed to brace himself, Sprite rolled to a dizzy stop, the world around him spinning. The woozy feeling only increased when his mother gently scooped him off the ground, cradling her son in her arms.

"Did I win, Mama?" He clutched her shoulder in an attempt to balance himself.

Pikachu giggled, petting his ears back. "You sure did honey…"

Ribbon, standing next to Monferno and watching the display, jumped slightly at a voice directed towards her.

"What about you, little lady, want a turn?" the primate asked, leaning down into a battle position.

Taken off guard by the offer, Ribbon's eyes widened in fear. Her paws quickly covered her mouth as she started to tremble, holding in frightened squeak. She looked up at the tall monkey, her eyes following the flamed tail swishing back and forth. Her?! Battle HIM?!

Her reaction was not at all close to what her brothers' had been.

She was frozen in fear for a moment, not sure how to respond. What was expected of her?! Ribbon glanced over her shoulder, finding all eyes on her. Her mother was beaming, her brothers both with encouraging smiles.

Her eyes looked to her trainer. Ash clenched his fist with a tight smirk, ready to give her a command.

The pressure made her fur puff out slightly.

Seeing her discomfort, Monferno took a step towards her, concern written all over his features. But his advance spooked the kit into a mad dash for the garden, hoping the tall flowers would make for an efficient cover.

Monferno winced with guilt, Staraptor giving him a bit of a scowl. "What?! I didn't think-"

The bird smacked the back of his head with her wing. "That's no surprise. You never think…"

Pikachu sighed and set a less dazed Sprite down next to his brother. "It's okay, she's just overwhelmed," she assured them, darting between the two Pokémon and in the direction of the garden. She knew her daughter and Ribbon didn't do well in high stress situations.

Ribbon was panting heavily as she stopped behind the thick stem of a sunflower, trying to calm down her rapidly beating heart. She hugged herself, whimpering. What was the matter with her? Her brothers had fought. They'd listened to orders.

She must have looked so stupid in front of the others. The team surely hated her. But she couldn't help that she didn't want to battle. It was all her brothers seemed to think about, what their mother did for a living, but she didn't find it fun at all.

Her large brown eyes started to fill at the thought of her family not wanting anything to do with her. Her first day meeting all of them and already she proved to be a screw up. What use would she be to her trainer if she was afraid of fighting? Ash only kept battle Pokémon.

Distraught with her thoughts, Ribbon failed to notice the low rattling behind her. It wasn't until the rattle was practically right beside her that the pichu lifted her head.

Depression quickly forgotten and fear replacing it immediately, Ribbon stared back her her reflection in the shimmering gold eyes of an ekans.

The Pokémon was small in comparison to most like it, but Ribbon being only slightly larger than a pomegranate, the poison Pokémon was massive. A six week old pichu would make a more than fitting lunch.

Ribbon attempted to take a step back, but was cut off as the snake darted around to cover her escape. Frightened sparks danced across her cheeks, sending a hot pain through her face. She couldn't handle her own electricity, but her fear kept the charge building.

Seeing the pichu confused and scared, the ekans reared back, poised in an S curve with slitted eyes directly on the terrified kit. It hissed its species name, inch long fangs revealed in the process.

She couldn't move, dread gripped her small body and refused to let go. Never - not even in the case of the toaster - had she ever seen something so horrifying. And unlike the kitchen appliance, this one was definitely worth being afraid of.

"PICHU!" Ribbon squeaked, covering her head with her paws, curling herself into a shivering ball of cream colored fur. It was all she could find herself able to do. She was getting dizzy from the electricity sparking off her little body, the bolts doing much more damage to her than her foe.

The ekans rushed forward in a strike, fangs targeting the soft flesh of the back of the kit's exposed neck. No hassle, no fight. Exactly the kind of prey the Pokémon had been hoping for. But a flash of electric yellow threw off the snake's focus.

Blinded by the movement, it attacked the ground just to the side of the defenseless pichu. Spitting out a mouthful of garden soil and shaking off its failure, the ekans hissed its displeasure. It turned towards its elusive snack only to find an angry Pikachu glaring it down, Ribbon dangling from her jaws firmly clenched around her kit's scruff.

Ribbon, paws covering her eyes, slowly lowered them as her mother gently set her back down on the ground. Pikachu stepped protectively over her daughter, her own fangs bared at the snake. Her long ears pressed flat against the back of her head, she arched her back in a warning hiss.

An older Pokémon would have picked its battles a bit more wisely, taken the time to note its opponent's level and power. But the hungry ekans moved to strike at Pikachu, more determined to make a kill than size up its opponent.

Pikachu was past allowing this kind of behavior. She'd spent weeks dreading the idea of bringing her new young out into the world for exactly this kind of reason, and no garden hose with teeth was going to prove her fear was justified.

Pikachu dug her claws into the soil, gathering the static from the ground. With a powerful battle cry she sent her attack at the creature foolish enough to strike at her kit.

The ekans immediately regretted its decision, ten thousand volts streaming through its slim body, bursting blood vessels and fraying nerve endings.

She knew the Pokémon was young and inexperienced. And in any other case she would have been kinder… maybe a bit more understanding. But attempting to make a snack out of her daughter was, unfortunately for the ekans, an unforgivable act. Pikachu merely glared viciously down at its twitching form, her chest heaving from angry huffs.

Ribbon watched through wide watery eyes, peeking out from behind her mother's paw. Tears coursed through her fur and down the powder pink colored electrical pouches on her cheeks as she watched the poison type wither in pain before her.

Steam rose off its charred body, more than likely paralyzed, and quite possibly beyond help. It was young… maybe only a few weeks older than herself. The seizing animal took a few more staggered breaths.

Death was a completely unknown topic to the small pichu. Ribbon's mind couldn't comprehend why the ekans had stopped attacking. Had stopped moving.

Numb to anything except the sight of the charred Pokémon before her, Ribbon barely felt her mother's comforting tongue run across her ears. It wasn't until Pikachu lifted her up again that the pichu melted out of her shock and quickly broke down into uncontrollable shivering.

Spurred by the bolts springing up from his mother's garden, Ash hurried over as Pikachu emerged through the flowers, setting her frightened kit on the ground between her forepaws. Ash kneeled down to scoop Ribbon's tiny shivering form into his hands. Misty was right behind him, Pulse and Sprite in her arms.

"Is she okay? What happ—EEE!!!"

Misty stumbled back, clutching the kits closer to her when she noticed the shriveled ekans in the center of the garden, curled in on itself and unmoving. The other five Pokémon slowly made their way over, concerned and curious.

Ash frowned as he held Ribbon against his chest, letting the little pichu cling to his shirt. He watched as Pikachu, front paws braced on his knee, cooed softly to her kit. He could feel his partner's paws vibrating against his leg, still coming down from her recent discharge of energy. But it was more than just the thunderbolt that had Pikachu trembling.

Piecing the puzzle together, Ash sighed, guilt washing over him. Rarely had he seen such violence from his usually calm little buddy. But she had her limits and he knew them well. The fact that she was pushed to them just then made his stomach ache.

He'd been pestering to take the kits out for weeks now, giving no thought to how dangerous something as simple as his mother's garden could be to them. Maybe he had moved too fast, something he was often chastised for by his friends.

He held Ribbon back out to her mother who promptly, sniffed her entire little body, grooming the kit's face almost obsessively. She looked up to Ash, ears still folded back. He nodded, silent words passed between the two of them before Pikachu took the kit in her teeth.

She gave her trainer a look that said she would handle it before she turned and trotted to the back porch.

Easily bounding up the wooden steps, Pikachu waited patiently as the screen door opened enough to allow her access to the house. She exchanged a quick look with the human woman holding the door for her; two mothers sharing a knowing glance, before Pikachu slipped past her ankles. Delia had been watching from the back door and craned her neck to watch her son a moment.

She sighed and moved back into the house, shuffling to the dishes soaking in the sink. But not being able to help herself, Delia walked past them, cautiously poking her head into the living room and craning to look over the side of the couch. She knew that look the yellow Pokémon had given her all too well. Fear that something could have happened to someone so precious to her and now she needed to take a breather before the heart attack set it. Delia leaned against the door frame, eyes on the pair across the room.

Sitting on the window seat bathed in sunlight, Pikachu was curled around Ribbon, the kit's face buried into her side. Ribbon's tiny upset mews were muffled by her mother's fur, but still audible in the quiet room.

Pikachu released a cleansing sigh and pushed herself up into a sit. Calm enough now that she wasn't shaking from a mixture of rage and fear, she scooped her daughter up into a tight hug. Despite her still rapidly beating heart though, she found an encouraging smile. "It's alright, baby…"

"No it's not," Ribbon sniffled into her mother's shoulder. "I can't fight."

Pikachu chuckled lightly, rubbing her daughter's back. Nearly eaten and her daughter had only taken away that she'd chickened out on a mock battle. "Ribbon, trust me, it's much too early to come to that conclusion."

Ribbon pulled back to look at her mother, sniffing and pawing at her tear filled eyes. "Huh?"

Pikachu smiled, brushing the kit's ears back. "There's no rush. You haven't even started training… and sweetie, not everyone battles."

"Really?" Ribbon tilted her head as Pikachu used the back of her paw to wipe the rest of the tears from her face. "But don't we all battle? Cause Ash-"

Pikachu stopped her daughter, touching the tip of her nose to Ribbon's. "We're a team, a family. Fighter or not, we love you. Ash especially," she smiled. "He's not going to love you any less because you don't want to compete. I promise."

Feeling a little better, Ribbon smiled. "I don't gotta battle?"

"You don't have to do anything you don't want to," with a small sigh, Pikachu pulled Ribbon tight against her chest. "But don't you ever run off like that again. You know I don't like it when I can't see where you three are."

"I'm sorry Mama…" Ribbon sniffled, tearing up again at thought of the close call. She clung to Pikachu's shoulder tightly. "You weren't a-scared of the monster though," she sniffed, "and it was big…"

Pikachu smiled, but tightened her hold on her daughter a bit more, speaking in a soft whisper. "It wasn't the 'monster' that scared me, sweetie…"

Not completely understanding her mother's words, Ribbon whispered back. "You're not afraid of anything, are you Mama?"

Pikachu closed her eyes, a small sad smile on her maw. "More than you think, Ribbon…"

Resting her cheek on her mother's shoulder, Ribbon allowed herself to calm down, allowing Pikachu to bask in the warm feeling of holding her kit. Never had something elicited this kind of feeling in her. She had those she cared about, her trainer no doubt. Being held by Ash often made her feel a similar warmth, but this was something else.

She'd felt traces of it while she had still carried them inside her. But now… she was certain there was just nothing that could compare to holding her kits.

"Did you win that battle, Mama? Against the monster?"

The warm feeling froze over and Pikachu's eyes slowly opened. The image of the withering ekans in the garden slipping back to her. The fact that she'd taken a life just moments ago suddenly registered in her mind.

The fact that she'd do it again in a heartbeat was her next thought.

It hadn't been the first time she'd done it either. There'd been times wild Pokémon had threatened her… her team members… her trainer…

She'd ended life then too and again, she hadn't regretted doing so. She didn't consider herself a blood thirsty creature, far from it. She didn't condone that kind of behavior and frowned upon it. But there were lines that had potential to be crossed. She'd given them warning. Self defense was not murder.

And any being, Pokémon or human, who dared to cross the ones so close to her would find out just how powerful she was. And deep down, she was proud of that fact. That she was physically able to protect the ones she loved.

But that wasn't always enough to keep the guilt at bay. She'd had good reason to act in the manner she did. It was natural selection, it was them or her and she'd be damned if it'd ever be her. But while she had rationalized all of this in her brain time and time again, the fact that her daughter had just witnessed it didn't sit well with her.

This wasn't the age she wanted to teach her children that kind of nature. This was a time for lessons about why the sky was blue and the grass green. Which berries were acceptable and which were better off left alone.

Not about what had happened to the ekans that still lay in the Ketchum's garden.

"Yes honey..." Pikachu forced a smile, "Mama won that battle."

***

Ash collapsed into the couch, hand feeling around the cushions for the TV remote. After the day he had had, the trainer wanted nothing more than to relax and lose himself in mindless television. Hoping to find a league battle match he flipped through the channels.

Misty sat in the plush lounge chair across from the couch, Ribbon in her lap enjoying the fine bristles of the red head's brush running smoothly through her fur. The little kit looked exhausted and close to sleep while her brothers chased each other around the living room furniture. They were still burning off energy from the afternoon, their first taste of battling having given them an extra boost no one thought was possible. There were already a few new scorch marks on the rug that Ash knew would need replacing.

"Pi-KA-chu…"

The trainer glanced in the direction of the electric mouse, looking just as tired and worn as he felt. She ambled in from the kitchen, barking an order at her sons in response to their rowdy play that almost tipped over a floor lamp. Pulse and Sprite quickly slowed their mad sprinting to a light jog, but who knew how long it would last.

"C'mere buddy," Ash beckoned, patting the couch cushion. Pikachu complied, leaping up beside him and promptly running the length of her body under his chin in a request for cuddles. Ash was more than happy to supply, enveloping her in his arms. He sighed and rolled onto his back, letting her rest on her side on his chest while he pet her.

The day hadn't exactly turned out how he had planned. After the close call in the garden, Ash had fallen into his normal doubting funk. Despite the fact that Pulse and Sprite had seemingly adapted well to not only the back yard and the team members, Ribbon's brush with disaster left him feeling unsuccessful. Burying the burnt ekans by the tree line before his mother could see it had not exactly made the experience any better.

He felt slightly better when he saw that all Ribbon really needed was a nap with her mother to set things right. She was her adorable clingy self by dinner, playing with his shoelaces while he ate.

He'd talked with his mother and girlfriend about it over the meal. Surprisingly they didn't seem too phased, more concerned with him forever blaming himself. It wasn't as if he had asked for it to happen, and other then herding her brood a little closer to her for the rest of the night, his Pikachu seemed fine.

He hated that his emotions always lingered longer than anyone else's, that he had a natural urge to blame himself for everything. If the sky was falling, he'd be the first one to confess that it could possibly be his fault.

But needless to say, his plan to bring the pichu over to the professor's had changed to making sure his team was alright and that Ribbon wasn't dramatically traumatized for life. Turned out the little kit forgot things easily if offered a few of the sugar cubes in the jar on the kitchen table.

Ash smiled a little, allowing himself to relax when he felt the rhythmic purring of his Pokémon as she stretched out to her full length across his chest. Her lightning bolt tail padded softly up and down as he scratched behind her ears.

He was, as always, overreacting. Everything was fine. No one was hurt, they were all safe and happy and full from dinner.

What did he have to be fretting over?

Ash turned his head towards the TV, tucking an arm behind his head and losing himself in the league announcer's voice and Pikachu's purring.

During a particularly interesting match, Ash felt Pikachu turn over onto her stomach, ears and head up. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, stopping his mechanical strokes across her striped back. She was staring at the front door, ears twitching and muscles taught.

Ash looked back towards the TV. It was probably Brock coming up the front walk. The breeder had been gone all day, visiting other acquaintances he knew in Pallet.

But instead of settling back down, Pikachu rose to her feet, standing on his stomach as her eyes wildly searched the room for her kits. A sharp 'chu!' had Pulse and Sprite stop in their tracks and Ribbon lift her head off Misty's knee.

Pikachu leapt off Ash, landing next to her boys and nudging them in the direction of the couch. The brothers complied, darting under the couch skirt as their mother rushed over to fetch her daughter meeting Ribbon half way as the kit attempted to slide off Misty's lap.

Plucking the pichu away from the water trainer, Pikachu dashed under the couch after her sons, the fabric billowing slightly in her wake. The action had Ash sitting up on his elbows, shooting a confused look to Misty who returned it.

"What's she doing?"

"I don't-"

Before Ash could finish his thought, three knocks on the front door broke the serene peace in the room. The sound made Misty jump slightly.

For a few moments the two trainers just stared at the door. Another two knocks brought them out of their trance though and Ash swung his legs off the side of the couch.

"You couldn't have gotten that, Ash?" Delia said with a patronizing smirk as she walked in from the hallway. Leave it to teenage boys to completely ignore the fact that the door was knocking.

But as Delia moved for the doorknob, Pikachu shot out from under the couch, lightning fast agility putting her between the woman and the door.

"PIKA!"

Delia took a step back as the Pokémon pushed against her shins. "Ash, what's gotten into her?"

"I dunno, she got really weird all of a sudden." Getting up from the couch and heading to the front door, Ash raised an eyebrow at the mouse.

Turning away from Delia, Pikachu's eyes widened in alarm as Ash's gloved hand wrapped around the doorknob. Her senses were running wild, screaming for her to put a stop to this. She quickly latched onto her trainer's pant cuff, pulling with all she had.

Ash smirked down at her attempts as he pulled the door open. "What's wrong Pikachu? Do you know who's at the—"

Brown eyes met brown eyes, one pair match up with a devilish smirk.

He couldn't find his voice, could barely hear anything except the sound of his heart pounding in his throat and still climbing. His fingers tightened around the doorknob, palm sweating and dampening his glove.

The only thing that had registered was that Pikachu had stopped tugging at his leg. Instead he heard her viciously hiss; standing between his ankles, hackles raised and sparks dancing around her front paws. Her glare was directed towards the persian sitting elegantly in front of her, red eyes simply daring her to try.

The guest cleared his throat smoothly, smirk still present. "Well Ash… Aren't you going to invite your father in?"

To be continued...