Alright, this is it. The final chapter of my story. I tried to capture everything that I possibly could here. Hopefully, you'll agree that I did that. So without further ado...


The Hill of the Ancients

Only a short amount of time has passed following Hareta's departure, as the setting sun hasn't changed its position much. All the Pokémon are still gathered, all of them still trying to understand why it was necessary for Hareta to leave so suddenly as he did.

"Snivel... Hareta... Why... I don't understand..." Pichu sobbed into his older brother's fur, who was holding him to give him some comfort. Pikachu said nothing, his sadness drowning out any chance of speaking at the moment. "Why? Why was it necessary to leave us...?" Charizard murmured. "Hareta... He risked his life to save mine... And I never did anything to show my thanks... I never even said 'thank you' to him... Left before I could even say that to him..." Shiftry sobbed. "You're right... Just up and left like that... Why now? Why now, when the world's been saved? Just when things were starting to get better... Sob..." Lombre said, wiping some tears off of his face. Xatu spoke, "This was coming... Our world, it was saved by Hareta. I look back now... When bound for the sky, Hareta seemed... As if resigned. Had the resolve to accept that this would be his fate for saving the world."

Charmander, having said nothing after Hareta left, spoke up, "...........I think I understand now. Hareta... He must have become a Pokémon to save us. And when... When the star was destroyed... Hareta knew that it would be time to leave..." Tears began to well up in his eyes anew as he said, "But why... Why didn't Hareta say something to us before...? If he knew this was coming... Why didn't he tell us?" Alakazam, trying to keep a level look on his face, came over to Charmander, placed a hand on his back, and said, "Those words couldn't be spoken. As much as you, Chikorita, and Absol are heartbroken now, Hareta must've felt the same pain of leaving. Try to understand, Charmander." Charmander, feeling his strength leave him, slumped onto his stomach and, holding on to Hareta's Rescue Team Badge, began sobbing anew, saying, "Hareta..."

Not far away from him, Chikorita was also slumped down near the cliff edge, her face wearing a distant look as tears continued to fall. She knew Charmander was just as upset as she was, maybe even more so. She looked down at Hareta's Pecha Scarf, the only other object he left behind, remembering all their times together. In her mind, she said, "Why, Hareta? I loved you! I wanted you to be with us forever, to keep carrying on our passion. And I wanted to tell you how I really feel about you. But I never did... And now you're gone..." Chikorita buried her face in the scarf and began to cry again, deeply saddened by the loss of the one she loved so much.

Absol, who was standing near Xatu, was watching over them with a seemingly stoic look on his face. Although he couldn't bring himself to show it, he was truly saddened by Hareta's departure, never knowing that it would be his fate to leave them once peace had returned. Hareta had truly trusted him; he was his first friend, and now he would never get to see him again... As he thought this, he began to border on crying himself.

Eventually, Xatu told everyone that the sun would be setting in a few hours, so it would be a good time to go home before the canyon became virtually impossible to navigate. Everyone only vaguely heard what he said, not able to pay much attention to him, though they decided they had better leave anyway. As they left, Xatu turned to the sun and whispered, "Hareta... I can sense the conflicting emotions within your heart, even as far as you are. Look deep within yourself and find what it is you truly want before it's too late..."

Somewhere high above the Pokémon world...

The yellow sphere that was surrounding Hareta continued to float upwards, going higher and higher into the sky towards the stars. The sphere was preparing to enter the Distortion World, gathering energy through its ascent to open a new portal. Hareta was sure it was going to take him back to his world; he just wasn't sure where the sphere would be taking him before he got there, though.

As he began to see the stars in the distance, Hareta suddenly heard voices speaking to him. They said, "Your friends are heartbroken... True friends... Friends for life... You truly understand it, but you are conflicted all the same... If you wish for it... And wish very strongly... Perhaps you will meet again." As Hareta heard these words, his thoughts turned to his various memories. Both of his time as a Squirtle and those from before he came to this world...

Flashback

"Excuse me," a female voice said, and Squirtle turned in the direction of the owner to see who it was. He saw a Chikorita and the same Charmander he had met earlier entering the doorway of the house. "What kind of weird Squirtle are you? Acting just like a human?" the Chikorita continued. Squirtle climbed out of the water in the house saying, "But wait. I really am a human. I mean I used to be a human..." Chikorita smiled and said, "You really are weird!" Charmander laughed a bit and asked, "So what do you think of our place?" Squirtle answered, "I love your house! It's awesome!" Chikorita looked at him and said, "It's not our house. It's our Team Base."

Squirtle seemed to be confused on what they meant, so Charmander said, "Team Base. For our Pokémon Rescue Team." While he was saying this, he brought out a Rescue Team Badge and tossed it to Squirtle. Squirtle looked at its egg shape, noting that it was silver on top and pink on the bottom, and it had two yellowish wings on the sides. Charmander continued, "And starting today, you're a member of our team, Team Go-Getters." Chikorita added, "We've been looking for a new member." Squirtle looked up at them and asked, "What's a... Rescue Team?" Both Charmander and Chikorita were shocked by this question, Chikorita asking, "You really don't know??" Squirtle muttered, "Me and my big mouth..."

End flashback. New flashback

"Hey! Aren't you Hareta?!" a girl with green hair tied back into a long ponytail and clad in a black mini dress with a white undershirt and a short pink skirt, a white beanie, a red scarf, and pink boots called to a boy with wild raven black hair, who was wearing only a pair of ragged shorts. Although he was climbing a tree, he heard her, so the girl continued, "My name is Mitsumi! I'm Professor Rowan's assistant! I have to talk to you about something, Hareta!" At the mention of Professor Rowan, Hareta called, "Really?! You're a friend of Gramps'?!" Unfortunately, he wasn't looking where he was going while he was climbing and slammed face first into a tree. As he groaned, Mitsumi muttered under her breath, "Dummy."

A little later, the two were standing at the edge of Lake Verity, having a conversation. "So you're helping Gramps out, huh?" Hareta asked. He looked at her and then said, "You sure dress funny, though." Mitsumi got a bit steamed at this and yelled, "I don't want to hear that from someone who runs around in raggedy shorts!"

End flashback.

These precious memories of first meeting very special people and Pokémon, and all the moments and adventures they shared together continued to run through Hareta's head, all conflicting with his decision of either going home or staying in this world with some of the best and most important friends he had ever met. He missed all of his Pokémon friends from home, as well as his human friends, but he didn't want to leave Charmander and Chikorita heartbroken at him leaving them. Suddenly, a memory flashed across his mind that made him gasp.

Flashback

Several days have passed since Team Go-Getters met Ninetales at Mt. Freeze, and, thanks to all their hard work along the way, they were close to Mt. Blaze, standing on the same cliff from the last time they passed through the area. Night was coming, so they decided to stop for the night before resuming their journey home. Once they had set up camp, Hareta went over to the cliff that the team had sat on nearly a week ago when they looked out at Mt. Blaze in the distance. Once again, Hareta sat down and looked out across the winding path that they would be walking tomorrow to get back to Mt. Blaze, still finding the view fantastic. After a minute, Charmander and Chikorita came over to sit beside him while Absol kept an eye on dinner.

After a few moments of silence, Charmander spoke up, "Err, Hareta? You said that since we met with Ninetales that you've been recovering your memories, right? Do you remember anything about why you woke up as a Squirtle?" Hareta answered, "No. I'm remembering a little bit at a time, but even what I have is still fuzzy. It's probably going to be a while until I can remember everything clearly." Chikorita asked, "Well, that's to be expected though, right? You can't expect to remember everything right away." Hareta said, "Yeah, that's true."

Charmander spoke, "Hareta, I have to know. If you could remember everything clearly, would you want to stay here or go back to your old life? Since I'm sure you've made so many human friends before you woke up here and you wouldn't want them to be sad because you're gone." Hareta looked at him and said, "Charmander, I care for everyone I meet. Even people who do unforgivable things. But my most important friends are Pokémon. I've been close to Pokémon ever since I was a baby. So even if I did want to leave, I know I'd be back so I could see you guys again." Chikorita looked at him and asked, "Really? Even if it meant you wouldn't be able to go home again?" Hareta nodded and said, "I've grown kind of used to being a Pokémon, after all. And you guys are really important to me. If you guys were sad and there was something I could do to make you feel better, I would do it. Because with all we've been through so far, we're more than just teammates and friends. I can't think of the word for it, but that's what I feel, anyway." Both Charmander and Chikorita stared at him, awestruck by his words.

Absol, who had been listening, smiled to himself as he thought, "He's exactly as legend described him to be. Caring for all, especially Pokémon. And the fact that he would trust me even though we had just met back in the forest... He really is the one that the gods chose to be the world's Guardian." He then called, "Hey guys! Dinner's ready!" This snapped the trio out of their state, so they stood up and began walking over to their campsite. As they walked, Charmander asked, "So if we were feeling sad and there was something you could do, you would seriously do it?" Hareta nodded and said, "You bet. I can promise you that." And with that, the team sat down and dug into their food.

End flashback

"That's right. I made that promise. And I don't intend to go back on it now..." Hareta thought to himself. Hoping it wasn't too late to make his wish, Hareta spoke, "I don't want to leave... I want to stay longer... With my invaluable... Irreplaceable friends and family..." Suddenly, a light began to cover his vision, so he closed his eyes and waited for whatever was going to happen...

Team Go-Getters Rescue Team Base

Night had just fallen, and everyone had gotten back to Pokémon Square a little while ago. They were still upset over Hareta leaving, so they were gathered in front of the Team Base, as if paying their respects to their departed friend and family member. Charmander and Chikorita were both crying on the path leading to the entrance, with Pikachu, Pichu, Raichu, Absol, and Smeargle standing behind them to keep anyone from getting too close. Not that anyone dared to. They were all still feeling really depressed themselves.

Suddenly, a white light began to shine on the path leading to the village outskirts. It glowed brightly for a few seconds, then suddenly it deposited Hareta in front of it. He was crouched on one knee, back in his Squirtle form and still wearing his hat, scarf, and bracelet. For some reason, he was also wearing a blue jacket that was black at the elbows, as well as being black inside and where the zipper was, going up to the top of the collar. With the collar, the jacket went up to beneath his head and down to his tail.

No one was really concerned with where it came from, though. At first, everyone (except Charmander and Chikorita) was trying to make sure they weren't seeing things first while Hareta got his bearings together. By the time he had, everyone could believe that it was really him, so Absol and Pikachu alerted Charmander and Chikorita. At first, they thought it was a joke, but once they saw him coming towards them and everyone happy, these doubts were cast aside. Suddenly, the three of them broke out running towards each other, ending with Hareta hugging both Charmander and Chikorita while they did the same to him. All the while, they were surrounded by everyone, who were cheering that Hareta was back. Amidst the cheers, Hareta whispered, "I didn't forget the promise I made. And I didn't want to break it. Not for any destiny in the world." At this point, Charmander and Chikorita didn't care the reason. They were just too happy to have him back. Eventually, Shiftry called, "Now that everybody's here, let's get everybody else and start that celebration!" Everyone cheered for this suggestion, so they headed off towards Pokémon Square to let everyone know the good news. On the way, Charmander and Chikorita gave Hareta his Pecha Scarf and Rescue Team Badge.

Meanwhile, in the bushes

Team Meanies had arrived a few minutes prior to Hareta's return, since Gengar wanted to show up without anyone knowing they were there. As a result, they were as surprised as everyone else was to see Hareta suddenly return. Although they also felt better knowing that he was back and his friends were no longer upset.

As they watched all the Pokémon head towards Pokémon Square, Ekans asked, "What should we do? Maybe Team Go-Getters would want us to show up." Medicham replied, "Mushy. But knowing them, they probably would. What do you think, Gengar?" Gengar shook his head and said, "I wouldn't be surprised, but I'm sure I would ruin the atmosphere, no matter how much they defend me." Having said that, he stood up and began walking away, waving an arm and saying, "You two can go ahead if you want. I'm feeling much too content right now. I'd rather not blow it for me or them by doing something not everyone agrees to." Medicham and Ekans looked at each other, Ekans saying, "I don't know how it happened, but that Hareta kid really changed Gengar, don't you think?" Medicham agreed, saying, "Yeah. But you know what? I think I like him better this way. Don't you?" Ekans nodded, and then they both followed Gengar, preferring not to go to anything big without their leader.

Mt. Freeze: Peak

Ninetales was standing in front of her cave. Like Hareta's other friends, she had been saddened when he had to leave. However, she sensed that he had returned before anyone else did, since the time she had spent with him before all this had allowed her to be able to sense his Aura from far distances. Although this was just one of the things she learned about him, it was the one that made her feel better since it told her he was back.

She walked back inside her cave and once again went over to her shelf to look at the picture of her and Hareta. She remembered that it was taken in a region to the northwest of the Sinnoh region, where he lived back in his world. She was glad that she had met him then. If it weren't for him, she might not have survived to see this day. And it was for that reason that she liked him the way she did. "He's very important to me... And I want to be there for him whenever he needs help. But that time will come later. Right now, I'm just happy that he decided to stay in this world with all of his friends," she whispered to herself.

North of Pokémon Square, near the Cave Area

Near the entrance to a cave, the same Lucario from a few days ago was standing on the rocks again, though with his eyes open and his arms at his sides as he looked out across the plains. Soon, two other Pokémon came up behind him and he turned to see that it was Empoleon and Luxray, two of his friends. He moved over slightly to give the two some room to stand.

Empoleon spoke, "You've been standing there for quite a while, Lucario. Has Hareta returned home yet?" Lucario shook his head and said, "No. I could feel him preparing to go into the Distortion World, but I could also sense that he was conflicted. He didn't want to make his new friends sad about him leaving, so it looks like he decided to stay in this world for a while, since I can sense him in the town of Pokémon Square." Luxray said, "That sure sounds like the Hareta we all know and love. And it looks like we didn't waste our time coming to this world after all, since now we've got a chance of meeting up with him here, right?" Empoleon nodded and said, "Right. But he has just saved this world, so we should let our friend get his rest and make sure everything is okay for now. And we'll keep up the work we've been doing since we came here. Now that we know where he is, we can keep camp here and try to arrange a meeting with him some time." Lucario agreed, "That sounds like a good idea. Should we tell the others?" Luxray said, "Of course. They deserve to know that Hareta has decided to stay here. Let's let everyone know. Typholosion, Misdreavus, Sceptile, Minun, Regigigas... All of them!"

With that, the three turned and headed back into the cave. Empoleon stopped before doing so and looked to the sky. As he did, he thought to himself, "Hareta... You're my most important friend in the world. More important to me than any other human. Even after all we've been through, I still was extremely worried about you. I hope we meet again soon, and hopefully you'll be able to remember who all of us are." He then walked back into the cave, following Lucario and Luxray.

Meanwhile...

Back in Pokémon Square, upon hearing that Hareta was back, everyone burst out into a celebratory mood, launching into a festival to celebrate the return of world peace. Fires were lit in the center of the square to allow for lighting, and many activities, such as dancing and games, were arranged, among other things that the Pokémon did. It wasn't often that they had a reason to celebrate outside of the usual holidays, so everyone was especially festive tonight.

Later on in the night, Team Go-Getters decided to take a short break from the festivities for a little while, so they snuck away, heading for the Makuhita Dojo. There, they took a seat at the edge of the waterfall, Absol sitting behind his other teammates and letting them rest against his side. They sat in silence like this for a few minutes, watching the stars that were still hanging high in the sky.

Eventually, Charmander asked, "How did you come back, Hareta?" Hareta said, "While I was up there, I remembered that promise I made a few weeks ago." Charmander responded, "You mentioned that earlier. Which promise was it?" Hareta smiled and said, "I promised that if you guys were feeling sad and there was something I could do to make you feel better, I would do it. So I wished that I could stay in this world longer with you. Because we're all like a big family, right?" His friends couldn't help but agree with him. As she rested against his side, Chikorita thought, "I should tell him how I feel about him. But maybe I should wait. He was almost forced to leave us. For now, I'll cherish the time that we're together." She rubbed against his side a bit at that thought, knowing that even if Hareta didn't know her feelings, they would still be together.

Suddenly, they heard footsteps approaching them, and turned to see it was Pichu, Pikachu, and Raichu. "Hey guys, taking a little break?" Pikachu asked. At Team Go-Getters' nods, Raichu said, "Well, this is certainly a good place to come to relax a little. Nice and quiet here." Pichu said, "I'm glad you came back, Hareta. I really missed you." When he walked over, Hareta gave him a little hug to show that he felt the same way.

After sitting around and enjoying the calm for a little longer, Pikachu stood up and said, "Well, I think I'm ready for another go-around for some dancing and games and talking. Who's with me?" Everyone hopped up, excitedly agreeing. So they headed back towards the town square to party down for the night.

As they headed off, Team Go-Getters wondered what lay in store for them in the future. Now that peace was restored all over the world, there was a bright outlook anywhere they looked. There was still always a chance that something could happen in the future, but they weren't going to worry about that. Because they knew that if something were to happen, they would face it together. They always did, and they wouldn't have it any other way.


Music:

Mourning At the Hill of the Ancients- Tell Me What the Rain Knows (Wolf's Rain)

Conflict in the Heart- Memories (PMD: EoT/EoD/EoS)

Promise and Return- Credits and Ending (PMD: Red/Blue Rescue Team)

Friends All Over- Mounting the V-Watch (Viewtiful Joe anime)

Celebration and Time Alone- Kamiki Festival (Okami)

Bright Future- Staff Roll/End Credits (Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Mario Kart 64, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption) (I couldn't decide on which one worked best. Feel free to suggest which one you think works best or even one that isn't on here, if you want.)


And with that, that brings my first fanfic to a close. But I've still got other ideas in the works for stories. I'll be updating my profile sometime soon with more details, so you can check that out if you want to know where I'm going next. And I'll have some story ideas there as well, which you can email me to tell me whether you think they're good or if I should bang my head against a table until I forget about them.

At any rate, thanks for reading all this way and I hope you'll keep watching!