Well now, hello and welcome to my Pokemon fic, The Infinity League. This Pokemon (which I don't own, disclaimer etc) fic is largely Ash-centric with some forays into fairly unexplored parts of the canon that I just go AU with wildly, drawing my own connections and such like any fanfic author enjoys to do. You should know that this follows the canon up until about where Ash gets his 8th badge in Sinnoh. After that I think I've only taken from a couple episodes as fact as well. It assumes him to be mid 15 years old by the time he is finishing said region as well. Other than that everything you see here is AU. As I say in all my other fics, just take things as they come and have fun. I think I've got something quality here, but I'll let you read and decide that for yourself. I do hope you enjoy this as much as I have been writing it.
Three notes for you.
Firstly, the fic is a definite slow start for the plot. The "intro" is in essence the first 10 chapters. I feel like I lose most of my readers in there because it's somewhat slow. Still, it's incredibly important material the story would fail without it. I promise you that it picks up well.
Secondly, nothing is as it seems. Nothing.
Lastly, I'm going to be rewriting this pretty soon. It's old and has the feel of a really young writer (which I suppose I was at the time). So yeah, still not terrible, but I sure cringe at some of the childish stuff here lol
Clouds covered the sky. A lone girl lay back on the gentle slope of a large grassy hill; her left hand rested at her side and her right on her chest. The girl ran her finger over the smooth stone on her necklace slowly as if in a trance. The stretch of fluffy white in every direction was reflected in eyes that were seemingly staring a million miles away.
'…where are you…'
The sound of footsteps in the grass brought the girl back to reality. She listened to them getting louder and closer. It was obvious that the person was walking directly at her, but the girl remained where she was. It was not as if she was in any danger to begin with. One of her Pokemon was out of its pokeball and was keeping watch for her just in case anything came up. The fact that the person wasn't being stopped could only mean that it was someone she knew. In any case, there was only one person she knew who could possibly find her here...
"I've finally found you, girl," said the approaching man. He stopped about a foot behind her head but otherwise the girl remained completely ignorant to his presence. She could tell from the tone of his voice that he was slightly out of breath from walking but in no way upset. She couldn't truthfully say that she had ever seen this man not in a good mood, despite the current situation.
Looking up at the man's face she said, "And what could the owner and manager of the prestigious Battle Frontier, as well as one of the most important organization officials of Pokemon tournaments and all that good stuff, want with simple me?"
"And all that good stuff..."
Putting an exasperated hand to his forehead Scott gave a hearty chuckle saying, "Every time I see you, you sound more and more like Ash, you know that? Out of all the people you could have rub off on you, you've picked one of the worst." Walking around to her side he held out a hand which the girl took, standing up.
"I knew I would end up running into you at some point, Scott," the girl said, bowing her head slightly in greeting. She brushed off the grass clinging to her then said, "He sent you, didn't he? Sometime I honestly wonder why I still hang around him, he's so irresponsible." She paused then giggled, "I'm just kidding. Anyway, how did you end up finding me? I thought I had finally found a place that nobody on the island even knew about. At least I've never seen anyone out this way before."
"Well Ash did say that if I had no idea where you were to look in a place like this," he explained. "Though it was a lot easier with your friend here." Scott simply pointed down at his feet and looking down she saw her Glaceon sitting there quietly. 'So that's where you went off to…' the girl thought. Scott continued to talk as the girl picked up her Glaceon, petting the back of her neck. "You're right about that. He asked me to find you and look after you for a little while until he was able to join us."
"Does that mean he's on the island? Now?" asked the girl anxiously. Scott nodded. "Well then let's go find him!" she said, already starting to walk back to the city.
"Wait up a sec!" Scott called out. Catching up to her, he said, "Follow me. Unlike you I don't have limitless energy so I have a jeep I borrowed from the PTO parked nearby. Let's take that shall we?" Nodding, the girl followed Scott to his vehicle shooting him with questions about random things that he did for his many jobs. Scott wasn't fooled by her sudden lack of interest in Ash's whereabouts, but he didn't want to push her to talk about it. He knew she would bring it back up when she wanted to.
It was only after a minute of silent driving down the windy road that led to the outskirts of the city that she said coolly, "So the fact that he didn't come with you now means he had something immensely important to take care of before seeing me for the first time in over a month." Scott smiled to himself. She was so worked up over nothing in such a way that only a young woman could be. His worries that it might be something serious dispelled, he said cheerfully,
"He's just registering for the tournament. Though the deadline was officially almost a week ago, I called in early for him because he told me there was no way for him to get there in time due to work. I called the officials and had them make an exception for him. They gave him an extra week past the official deadline to show up and he did earlier today." Scott glanced at the girl to see her giving him a puzzling look. "What?" he said defensively.
"I was just curious…" the girl responded slowly as if she was constructing her statement carefully. "Why do you go so far for him, and me for that matter? I'm just saying, well, considering who you are and who he is it just doesn't make much sense that you help him out so much." She finished and fixed Scott with a beady stare determined for an answer. Scott however, laughed, surprising the girl.
"Is that it?" he said amused. "Well let's just say I owe Ash more than I can ever pay back in the way of favors. He's helped me out more times than I can count, going all the way back to the first day I met him practically. In any case, he knows what my position is like and he rarely asks me for anything so I try to help him out whenever I can." Scott brought the jeep to a stop. They had arrived at spot that overlooked the city.
"I stop at this place every day, you know?" said the girl. The view was spectacular. From where they were standing they could see the entire scope of the island's main city, Element City. It was the largest city she had ever been in her entire life. At least a thousand times the size of her own home village to be sure. Sunlight suddenly broke through the cloud cover, spilling down onto the city in various places. At the center of the city were a great number of enormous stadiums that all together were large enough to be their own city. The stadiums drew both watchers' eyes as the sunlight framed them against the rest of the view.
The sound of clicking brought the girl back to reality. Turning she saw Scott taking pictures of the scene. Laughing, she said, "Taking pictures just like a tourist, you know you totally just killed the mood."
Turning, Scott quickly snapped a shot before saying, "It's true, I am a tourist at heart." They got back in the jeep. Turning it on Scott continued, "It's more fun that way though, don't you think?"
The girl looked at Scott and smiled saying, "Yeah, I guess you're right. So where are we going? Now that I think about it I never asked you."
"Well, there are a lot of people that Ash wants you to meet. They are all good friends and are going to have a reunion at one of the Pokemon Centers on the edge of town. We are heading there now. Shouldn't be more than another thirty minutes or so till we get there." Scott took a deep breath, enjoying the fresh air of the mountainside. "Don't worry," he added suddenly, "he's going to come to us so there's no doubt that you'll meet up later today. Today is going to be a great day. Trust me when I say that."
The girl smiled at Scott's words then said, "Well if that's the case then can we make a quick stop at my apartment? I'd like to change into something without grass stains."
Scott laughed loudly saying, "God, why didn't I think of that? Point the way, my girl, point the way." And they zoomed off into the city.
- Five years earlier at the Sinnoh League Championship Conference -
Ash slammed his fist onto the table causing the salt and pepper shakers to fall over. "Dammit, how can this be happening?" He raised his fist again but a hand grabbed his wrist in the air.
"Ash! Calm down! I know you're upset but... you're scaring everyone." Brock's words brought Ash back from his anger. Looking around he saw that Dawn and her Piplup were semi-hiding behind Dawn's mother, Johanna. She had been with them since the start of the competition. Originally, Johanna had surprised them when they happened to bump into her in a Pokemon Center near where the competition was to take place. They later found out, however, that the meeting was not so coincidental because Johanna had planned a half year trip to the Hoenn Region for herself and her daughter. Johanna's Pokemon Contest contacts ran deep in that region as well and her daughter, as a budding coordinator, would benefit immensely from the exposure. After all, nothing could replace pure first hand experience. Still, Dawn had convinced her mother to wait until after the competition so that she could support Ash. They had traveled together for so long that now the only person that she had ever been in the company of longer than Ash and Brock was her own mother. Looking at Dawn's distressed face, Ash felt all the fight go out of him.
Eyes locked on his feet Ash said, "I'm sorry... Dawn... everyone." Taking a deep breath he raised his head and faced them. "You postponed your trip to support me and all I can think about is myself." Ash got up and walked to the door. "Sorry guys but I really need some air," he said, opening the door. "And... thanks for cheering for me."
The door shut quietly behind him. The room collectively relaxed with Ash's departure.
"So..." began Johanna, "will he be alright, Brock?"
Brock sat down in Ash's now vacant seat and faced the others. "To be honest I really don't know," he said with a frown. "I've known Ash almost since the day he first got Pikachu and he's never experienced anything like this before. If I had to choose a side, I'd say that Ash will recover from this after some time." He looked down into his hands. "Though, as to how long that is, I have no idea. It's not that he's a stranger to losing but he's never had so much riding on him before."
Dawn hugged her Piplup tightly against her chest. "I'm sure he'll be alright after a while. Ash is a strong person. He's always pulled through the rough times we've been through before," she said, though with a noticeable forced enthusiasm. Piplup voiced his own agreement through her arms.
"Well I certainly hope so," said her mother. She turned to her daughter. "Sweetie, I don't mean to cut things short for you but now that Ash isn't competing we really should be going." Dawn looked at her in alarm.
"But Mom, what about Ash, we can't just leave him!"
"I'm not suggesting anything of the sort, Dawn," she said patiently. "But we can actually still make our original travel plans work out now that we aren't going to be staying here until the finals. We need to leave tonight though." Dawn frowned but said nothing. She knew her mom wouldn't suggest this if it weren't important. Considering the length of their trip she had really put a lot of effort into the planning. She didn't want to cause problems. After all, it was all for her to begin with. Nodding at her daughter's acceptance, Johanna turned to Brock and held out her hand. "Brock, thank you so much for looking after my daughter. I'm really happy that she had you and Ash with her as traveling companions. She's grown a lot from it as a person," she grinned a bit, "and as a young lady as well I think."
"Mom!" said Dawn, waving her arms in embarrassment. Piplup went tumbling away with a chirp. Brock laughed and shook the offered hand.
"I think I can speak for myself and Ash in saying that we are really glad to have traveled with you Dawn. And we both wish you well," said Brock. Dawn, still red, gave Brock a hug then went to grab her bag. Brock saw them to the door saying, "Do you think you can hang around for a bit while I go grab Ash? I know he'll regret walking out earlier." Surprisingly it was Dawn who shook her head.
"Don't worry about it, Brock. He needs a bit of time to himself and..." Dawn took a deep breath, "I've been dreading saying goodbye to him anyway because I know I'll cry. I don't like goodbyes." Indeed she was already looking a little misty eyed. Brock just patted her shoulder before giving her a hug.
"Then instead of goodbye, it's I'll see you soon," he said with a smile.
"Yeah, see you soon Brock. Take care."
"Huu. Almost nine."
Ash leaned against an unlit lamppost outside the hotel he had been staying at during the competition. After leaving the room he had just let his feet carry him wherever and found himself in a garden on the side of the hotel. It really was a beautiful place, as it had a side view of the stadium. However, at this moment Ash would have liked nothing more than to be completely removed from the world of Pokemon battles and be back in his bed at home. He looked up at the darkening sky. When was the last time he had slept in his own bed? For that matter, when was the last time he had even gone home for a visit?
Feeling restless he automatically moved his hands to his belt which was void of pokeballs. It took him a moment to remember that he had left them back in the hotel room. Well, it was better this way. His Pokemon didn't need to see their trainer like this. "Dammit, how could I have lost so badly! We trained so hard. Harder than anyone!" Images of his Pokemon being cast aside like they were nothing were burned into his mind. His opponent's smirk of arrogant superiority as he overpowered Ash in every way possible...
So wrapped up in his own thoughts, Ash wasn't aware of the fact that he had company until it tapped him on the shoulder. Startled, Ash turned to find himself face to face with none other than Cynthia, the Sinnoh Champion. It was often said that she was the strongest of all Champions, though she denied the claim whenever she could. "Hey, Ash," she said cheerfully. "Mind if I join you?"
"Wha... oh, uhh not at all," he said, slightly uncomfortably. He sat down on a nearby bench and Cynthia followed suit.
"I take it you're not particularly thrilled to see me right now," Cynthia said after a moment. Ash looked at her. Now that he wasn't just thinking about why she might be there he noticed that she looked very different from how she normally did when they had met in the past. For one, she wasn't wearing her usual black outfit but a light jacket and jeans. Wrapped around her neck was an elegant looking white scarf that suited the look well. In fact it was so strange to see her wearing something like that, Ash blinked several times to ensure he was seeing her properly. In addition to her attire, Ash notice that her hair, which usually hung loose, was tied up into a ponytail. All in all, the young woman before him was a very different Cynthia than he had ever seen before.
Noticing his stares, Cynthia looked down at her outfit then said, "I tried to disguise myself a little because I got tired of being followed everywhere for a change. Did I do a bad job or something? I've never really worn this kind of stuff so casually before." She sounded a little worried. Ash however couldn't prevent a small laugh from escaping his lips. "What!" demanded Cynthia, flustered. "Even if I didn't do it that well you don't have to laugh..."
Ash quickly put up his hands in surrender. "No, no. I'm sorry I laughed and your outfit looks really good. I'm serious!" he added when Cynthia threw him a skeptical look. Smile fading, Ash continued, "Truthfully though, you're right. I'm not really happy to see you. Wait-" Ash shook his head. "That came out wrong. It's not that I'm unhappy to see you, I just wish you didn't have to see me like... this," he finished in disgust.
Cynthia considered the boy before her. He was always bursting with energy and excitement it was a little off putting to see him so down. However, ever since his battle had finished she had felt the urge to say something to him. Seeing that Ash wasn't likely going to keep talking she took a breath and began. "Let me start by saying that I came here for two reasons. The main reason that I'm here is that I want to confirm something that has come up recently." Ignoring Ash's obvious curiosity and surprise Cynthia continued, "but I want to take care of the other thing first."
"Ash, I did some research on you. Mainly the people you have met over the course of your life as a Pokemon trainer. I was pretty surprised by what I found too. You have ties of friendship with practically every important and powerful trainer in every region." Seeing Ash's look of confusion Cynthia said quickly, "Basically I mean you are good friends with every gym leader, member of the elite four, the battle frontier brains, each of the professors from the different regions, and even Lance and of course myself. What I'm getting at is that I understand why you are so crushed by your last battle. You are trying to live up to the expectations of all these people who have faith in you. You feel like you have betrayed them all, like you let them all down." Ash was staring at the ground now so Cynthia could not see his face, however, his clenched fists confirmed the truth of what she was saying.
Cynthia continued, stronger now with momentum, "However, in my opinion, whether or not they all still hold that faith in you is irrelevant." Ash looked up surprised. "I think you're going about this the complete wrong way, Ash. It's like you're doing the gym challenges and the subsequent competitions because you think that is the only way that your friends will acknowledge your accomplishments and potential. But that's making you needlessly rush ahead without allowing yourself to grow as a person. So do yourself a favor, go out into the world and find something important to Ash the person, not Ash the Pokemon trainer. Once you do you will mature into a great person and Pokemon trainer."
Cynthia finished speaking. Ash said nothing. It was times like this that he found it so hard to believe that she was a mere five years older than he was. At the ripe age of twenty, the difference in experience when it came to pretty much everything was just too different to judge. The following silence began to make Cynthia think that her speech, which she was now getting embarrassed over, might not have worked. She looked at Ash and was surprised to find him leaning back in his seat staring at the sky which was now littered with stars. Cynthia opened her mouth to ask an uncertain question when Ash suddenly broke the silence.
"Thanks," he said, still staring at the stars.
"What?" said Cynthia, a bit thrown off by his calm, one word response.
Ash dropped his gaze from the sky and met Cynthia's eyes. "I think I'll take your advise. I really appreciate you saying all that to me. I only wish that someone had said something like that to me a long time ago, then maybe I wouldn't have had to go through something like this. It's no wonder she's the Champion, right Brock?"
Cynthia gave a start as familiar laughter emanated from behind a nearby hedge row. Brock stood up from his crouched position and walked over to the two others saying, "Nothing gets by you does it, Ash? How long did you know I was there?"
"The whole time," said Ash smiling. He stood up and Cynthia followed suit. She was still embarrassed about her speech and finding out that someone else had heard it didn't help the situation at all. "Well now that Brock's not hiding anymore why don't you tell us the other reason you came to see me? Unless it was private," Ash added tentatively.
Cynthia sighed and put her hand to her forehead. "Yeah, he can hear it, it's not that big of a deal. There isn't anyone else around here sneaking around though, is there?" she shot at Brock who grinned abashedly and shook his head. "Well then, I've already gone a little over my time limit here but I'll give you the short version." Rummaging around in a pocket, Cynthia brought out a small round device that looked like a compass. She handed it wordlessly to Ash.
"Uh, thanks," said Ash confused. "So what were you going to tell me?"
"Put simply, a close friend of mine needs help, but wasn't able to get help herself so she asked me to help her find help by using that thing to help point to who would be able to help." Ash looked at the champion blankly.
"That's not simple, you said help too many times."
"Hey Ash, it's pointing right at you," said Brock, staring at the compass. Ash looked down at the device. Sure enough, the red tip of the needle was pointing directly at him. Smiling slightly at the coincidence, he moved the compass to his right.
The needle flowed smoothly and continued to point directly at him.
Ash's smile slipped slightly. For the next few seconds he moved the compass up, down, spun it, flipped it, and even gave it to Brock, who walked around him while watching it. No matter what he did, the needle pointed directly at him.
"I'd have never thought it possible, but it's a compass that points to Ash," said Brock bemusedly. "Maybe it points to short people?" Ash glared death at Brock who stifled laughter, turning back to Cynthia. " Seriously thought, why on earth do you have something like this? How is this thing even real?" Cynthia shook her head.
"I'm sorry but I have no idea. My friend just gave me that and said that it would point me to the person most suited to helping her once I got close enough." Ash looked over at Cynthia, unsure of what to say. The mystery behind the entire situation was immense. A part of him wanted to back away, yet...
"So you want my help?" he asked after a moment. "What does your friend need?"
"I don't know. There wasn't much time for explanations and no matter how much I try I can't reach her," said Cynthia gloomily. She rubbed her arm, clearly upset. "All she did was send me this compass and some instructions with a plea for help. I know it's weird. I know it doesn't make any sense. I won't force you to help me but... please?"
"Wait, wait," said Ash anxiously. The tone of Cynthia's voice was suddenly going somewhere he'd never heard from her before and it was a bit alarming. "I'm not trying to avoid helping you, but I just don't understand why you could possibly need my help that much. I'm not even that great of a trainer. I mean wouldn't it be much better and safer to ask someone else like Lance or-"
"The compass pointed to you, Ash. I've had it for days while here, and it's never changed its focus. Resolutely and unwavering, it's always pointed to you. Of course if you don't want to, then as I said, I won't force you." Cynthia turned, moving away a bit before looking back at Ash.
"So, what are you going to do?" asked Brock in a level voice.
Ash looked at him, then looked at Cynthia. "What do you mean 'what am I going to do'?" Ash said calmly. He smiled and tossed the compass to Cynthia who caught, looking surprised.
"So, when are we leaving?"
Present Day, Element City. In a large Pokemon Center located near the edge of the Water District.
Brock gave a groan as he straightened his back. "Finally!" he said, replacing the final lid. Six large pots each occupied a stove with hot fires licking the bottoms. The pots were filled to the brim with a creamy and bubbling soup that could only be described as liquid heaven. For the past three hours, Brock had been tending to each of the pots, preparing the main course for the reunion. Taking off his apron which read 'Kiss the Cook', he turned to discover that he had a visitor. Walking over to her Brock said, "What's up, Misty? Was the lure of my cooking too much to handle?"
Misty laughed and lightly chopped Brock on the head saying, "Not quite, Rock-Head. A couple more people showed up and they are asking for you."
"Well it's good timing then. I just finished," said Brock, tossing the apron over a chair.
Taking the lead, Misty exited the kitchen and headed toward the main lobby of the Pokemon Center. It was a bit of a walk from the kitchen to their destination. They were currently in the biggest Pokemon Center in the entire Water District. Misty was humming to herself out of boredom. Brock laughed silently at the silly tune she was humming.
Despite not having seen each other for a long time, Brock was very happy to see that Misty was still the same stubborn yet playful girl at heart as the one who had been following Ash when he challenged the Pewter Gym all those years ago. When he and Misty had met earlier in the day, he had been afraid that there would be such a gap between them that it wouldn't be like old times. His worries, of course, were all for nothing as Misty was delighted to describe the past few years of her life to him. She talked to him for much of the time he was cooking, ignorant of the fact that he stopped listening after thirty minutes.
"I don't know if you heard, being away from Pewter City, but Cerulean was attacked by a group of Pokemon hunters recently," said Misty suddenly, her face twisting in distaste. Brock blinked in surprise.
"No this is the first I've heard of it. Was anyone hurt?"
"Not really," said Misty. "My sister's and I managed to put a stop to it but they got away with a large number of Pokemon from parts around town, including the gym and the daycare nearby. She didn't show herself but everyone is sure that it was J's Hunters."
"I'm sorry to hear that," said Brock with a frown. "Hunter J's group is a lot to handle. I've run into her a couple of times while traveling around with Ash during the Sinnoh League."
"Sounds rough," she said shortly. Brock looked at the girl, completely nonplussed. Had that really been a random thought? Misty was still humming her silly tune. As they turned a corner, Brock caught a look at her face. She was smiling as she hummed, just like a little kid. Dismissing how odd she could be at times, Brock began to wonder who were the people that had asked for him when Misty slowed suddenly and motioned to him to move to the side of the hall.
Following suit, Brock was curious as to why they had moved over when the hall was empty. About to ask Misty what was going on, Brock opened his mouth to speak just as he heard the soft sounds of many feet moving fast.
"There they are," she said, pointing directly in front of her. Looking around Misty, Brock saw a group of Blissey walking towards them each carrying small boxes filled with potions and other Pokemon medical supplies.
As the group of Blissey passed them, Misty said, "You can tell just how huge this place is by the number of Pokemon helping Nurse Joy here."
Continuing their walk, Brock nodded saying, "Yeah you're right about that. Most Pokemon Centers only have one or two Pokemon helping the Nurse Joy, but this place has a ton." He paused, considering a question, then asked, "Huge Center aside, I'm curious what you think of this reunion party so far. Anything come to mind?"
Misty laughed saying, "Actually yeah, I have something I can say." She paused a moment then said, "This party is totally weird. I mean all the guests are really important Pokemon trainers and the invitation was pretty mysterious itself. There's more to this party than meets the eye if you ask me." Misty had turned to face Brock and was now walking backwards.
"But, you know, I think I'm finally starting to get used to all these big-shots showing up. It feels kinda' crazy that I got an invite." She looked at the ceiling with a grin. "Well, then again, I am a gym leader after all."
Brock smiled at Misty's comment. He had also received an invitation to this reunion-party from none other than the owner of the Battle Frontier, Scott.
You are cordially invited to an inter-regional league party that
I am hosting in Element City. With the exception of a small
number of Pokemon trainers, the guests at the event are all
Gym Leaders or higher. Although attending is, of course, up
to you, it would be extremely unwise to decline as many
important issues will be discussed at the event.
Information regarding the time and place of the event is
given on the reverse side of this invitation.
See You All Soon!
P.S. The famous Chef Brock will be cooking the main course for the party
so I know you are all looking forward to that meal like I am!
Brock's invitation had also come with a separate note, apologizing for putting him in charge of the cooking without consulting him first and explaining the circumstances of his actions. As Brock did owe Scott a huge favor, and having made food for large groups of people all his life, he understood and he was happy to do so. Now having completed the cooking, he was glad that he had been given the task. Working in the kitchen allowed him to get used to being around such a boisterous crowd. The past five years of his life had been spent mainly traveling around and honing his skill as a Pokemon breeder, building up a fairly good reputation for himself. On the other hand, making food for so many was reminiscent of the great times he had traveling with Ash and the girls. At such a reunion it was nice to have something to do.
Sounds began to reach Brock's ears. He could hear laughter and many overlapping conversations coming from a lot of people. Clearly the number of guests that had arrived in the past hour had gone up immensely. Though initially the whole idea of such a party taking place was fairly questionable in Brock's mind, upon his and Misty's arrival at the main lobby he could not deny that this party was the real deal.
Just one look at the whole central lobby showed that Scott had orchestrated the largest get-together of important Pokemon trainers from every region; probably in history. Brock recognized Gym Leaders from Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh as well as their Elite Four counterparts. Of course, there wouldn't be anyone from the Unova region, one of the other regions that had a well reputed League. After all, Unova was in a completely different hemisphere than the other four regions. He also saw the Battle Frontier Brains scattered about conversing with the Gym Leaders. The group that drew his attention most of all however, was positioned almost dead center in the lobby. Pokemon Champion Cynthia and Dragon Master Lance were both conversing with a number of people he couldn't see from where he was standing.
"Brock. Hey, Brock!"
Brock gave a start. He had been completely lost in his own thoughts and didn't realize that Misty had been trying to get his attention.
"Ahh, sorry, Misty," he said apologetically. "I was just surprised by how many people have shown up even though it's early in the afternoon."
"It's fine, it's fine," Misty said, taking hold of his arm and pulling him through the milling crowd. "What did you mean by bringing up the time, anyway? What does the time have to do with anything to begin with? I mean, it's just a free-flowing party when you look at it."
Brock understood her confusion. "Well I had figured that more people would show up later in the day, closer to dinner," he said. Misty gave him a 'say-what?' look which made Brock roll his eyes and say, "Never mind, Misty. It's an adult thing, so you wouldn't completely understand it anyway."
Misty stopped walking and looked Brock straight in the eyes who returned the glare with one of equal aggressiveness. They only lasted three seconds before both burst out laughing at each other. The sudden laughter was loud enough that it caught the attention of the center group which quickly converged on an unsuspecting Brock, causing him to experience the most confusion he ever had all his life...
"Brock, it's so good to see you!"
"Brock! How are you?"
"Brock, I missed you so much!"
"...Brock, are you alright?" said a calm, amused, voice that he recognized instantly.
"Cynthia," said Brock turning his head to face the Champion who was watching the chaotic hug from a safe distance. "Save me," he said. Brock attempted to take a step towards Cynthia, but merely caused the group to loose balance and collapse in a heap on top of him. Lance and Cynthia were attempting to suppress their mirth however they gave up after a bit and just laughed, hanging on to each other so as not to fall over themselves. Finally not being pushed and pulled in three different directions at once, Brock relaxed and waited for the three apologizing teens to get off his back. A relaxed male voice suddenly spoke close to his head,
"I'm sorry about that, Brock. Are you alright?"
Raising his head to face the man kneeling at his side Brock said with a grin, "Well, Norman, my spine's been snapped and I doubt I'll ever stand again, but apart from that I'm perfectly fine." Norman grinned back and held out his hand which Brock took, standing up with a groan.
Turning Brock around with a hand on his shoulder, Norman said, "Now how about we try that again though this time without assaulting Brock, yes?"
"Sorry, Brock," chorused the three good friends that stood before him.
Brock broke into a big smile, "It's great to see you three after all this time."
They beamed at him. Before him stood, from right to left, Dawn, May, and May's younger brother Max. Though the initial surprise of seeing them all so grown up was there, Brock maintained his composure much better than he had earlier in the day when he had bumped into Misty. Of course, his thoughts had not changed one bit. 'God, it is weird seeing these girls all grown up,' Brock thought with a mental sigh.
The light caught something at Max's waist, shining red and white, which drew Brock's attention immediately.
"Is that a pokeball at your waist, Max?" asked Brock in surprise.
As if he had been waiting for this verbal cue, Max took a step forward saying proudly, "That's right, Brock. I am an official Pokemon trainer! See?" he said pulling his pokedex out of his pocket.
May made a small sound that sounded like a cross between a snort and a sneeze. Max turned to face her, annoyed.
"Just because you're so famous doesn't give you the right to look down at me," he said.
May opened her mouth to retort but stopped at Dawn's hand on her shoulder. Sighing and turning her back to Max she said, "Sorry, Max. I didn't mean to offend you."
Dawn smiled at May then said to Max, "You shouldn't be so quick to flare up like that you know." Dawn put her free hand on her hip. "I mean, you haven't stopped talking about showing Brock your Pokemon ever since we got invited here. It does become somewhat grating after the millionth time."
Max blushed and turned his back to the girls muttering an apology. Dawn gave Brock and the others a cheerful smile then said as if the past minute had never happened, "So aren't you going to show Brock your Pokemon, Max?"
"Oh, yeah," said Max pulling out the two pokeballs attached to his belt Max said, "Come on out you two!"
Two bursts of light revealed a Treecko and a Slakoth.
"Treecko, Slakoth, this is Brock. He's a Pokemon breeder," said Max.
"Nice to meet you both," said Brock crouching in front of the two Pokemon. Treecko shook Brock's offered hand with both of its own while Slakoth did nothing. Upon further inspection the group discovered that it was sleeping standing up and Max recalled his Pokemon as the group laughed.
One hour later found the party in full swing. It appeared that everyone had arrived save the host, Scott. Dinner was still a little ways away and everyone had split into a number of smaller groups. In addition to the seating places that the Pokemon Center had, a number of extra chairs and couches had been set up to permit large groups to talk in comfort. Currently, Brock was sitting in the largest of these areas occupied by his now much larger group. There were a number of conversations going on at once and Brock was taking a break from talking, simply relaxing to the lull of the room.
Cynthia, who occupied a couch with him, said, "I'm going to go get a snack, make sure no one takes my seat." And with that she walked off.
Turning away from Cynthia, Brock took a minute to see who was currently in his group. Occasionally people joined and left however it looked as though the group had settled in. All of his old traveling companions were there in addition to many of the Gym Leaders Frontier Brains that the traveling group had connected with well. Jasmine, leader of the Olivine Gym, and Clair, leader of the Blackthorn Gym, were talking to Lance. Sitting near them were Flannery, leader of the Lavaridge Gym, Winona, leader of the Fortree Gym, Gardenia, leader of the Eternia Gym, and Maylene, leader of the Veilstone Gym. The four girls were the loudest of everyone else in the whole group, mainly due to the fact that they were laughing so much.
'They're probably talking about boys,' thought Brock, chuckling.
The last part of the group consisted of all seven of the Frontier Brains. They were all close together in a circle, save Anabel, and they were talking fairly quietly and there was no laughter coming from them as there had been throughout the party. Currently, Spenser and Brandon were deep in conversation about something while the others listened intently. Anabel had placed herself between the group of Brains and Brock's old traveling companions, her head tilted slightly towards the group of Brains clearly taking in every word, however she was watching the other conversations.
Brock was beginning to feel suspicious and in all honesty he did not want to think about it at this time. In an attempt to distract himself Brock began to listen to the conversation that was going on nearest to him which was between Dawn, May, Misty, Norman, and an uninterested Max.
"...simple but really pretty at the same time. I wish I had a dress like that," Misty was saying. Anabel voiced her agreement and complimented Dawn as well. Startled at Anabel's sudden appearance in this conversation, Brock quickly looked over at the group of Brains who were now sitting in a loose circle and laughing at something.
'...did I just imagine that before?' thought Brock in confusion. Meanwhile the conversation was progressing without the slightest notice of Brock's unease.
"Thanks!" said Dawn happily. Her hands automatically smoothed the sides of the dress she was wearing. She loved dressing up. Having done Pokemon contests for so long had rubbed off on her daily attire. "While the tournament is going on we can make some time to all go shopping together," Dawn continued excitedly. Speaking now to the group at large, Dawn said, "I still can't believe how many important people are here. And they're all gym leaders too! And the Elite Four from each region are here. I mean, even the Champion is here!" Everyone laughed at Dawn's childlike hyperactivity.
Taking advantage of the pause in the conversation, Brock asked a question that had been on his mind for a while.
"So how have your Pokemon been doing, Dawn?" asked Brock.
"They're all doing really well! To be honest, Piplup came in with me, but... I think he's lost," she said laughing.
"Darn, I wanted to see him."
"Sorry, Brock," said Dawn now seeing that Cynthia had returned stopping at the side of the couch and looking at the group at large. She stood there in silence for a moment then sighed.
"You know, it really does feel just like old times," she said with a sad smile. Taking her seat again she continued, "I do wish Ash were here though. That would make it perfect."
"Not likely," said Max, speaking for the first time in a while and additionally earning himself a bop on the top of his head from May. Rubbing his head, Max persisted to the group, "Come on, think about it rationally. After he lost in the Sinnoh League all those years ago, he quit Pokemon competitions. No one has seen him since. So why would he come now; to the largest most well publicized tournament ever, for that matter?" Many people in the group lowered their gaze somewhat, mulling over Max's words. Cynthia made to say something but Lance beat her to it.
"That's not entirely true, Max," said Lance. "It's true that Ash hasn't competed in any competitions since the one five years ago, but it's not as if he vanished of the face of the earth and I'm sure that he hasn't quit Pokemon competitions. I think he's just taking a long break from them." Everyone looked at him with flat suspicion. "What?" Lance said quickly. "I'm just talking from what I know about Ash. I mean when I first met him every other sentence out of his mouth was 'I'm going to become a Pokemon Master!' and he's not the type to give up on his dreams." He laughed and said, "Come on everyone, this is Ash we're talking about. I think there's a bigger chance of him being lost in a forest somewhere than him not training, don't you?"
"I guess so, but I still bet that he isn't going to show up. Did he even get an invitation, you think?" Max asked the group at large. This time it was Norman who delivered the chop.
"Well, Max," he said as Max rubbed his head again, "you got an invitation, right?"
"Oh, yeah. Good point," Max said grumpily while the rest of the group chuckled.
"Though I will give you some credit, Max. Just how is Ash supposed to get an invitation if no one knows where he is to begin with?" said Norman reasonably.
Brock leaned forward in his seat and everyone looked at him. He had been thinking on a theory for much of the time he was at the party and it had gotten stronger and stronger as the day went on. Brock had wanted to run his idea past people but he hadn't been able to find the right time so bring it up. Seeing the opportunity that the conversation had so perfectly presented him with, he jumped on it.
"I've been wondering about the whole meaning behind this party as well as the guest list all day and though I couldn't even begin to guess the purpose of the party I thought of something that I believe has some truth to it," Brock said, his gaze moving around the circle of listeners. He could see the interest in everyones' eyes which made him feel much better about the whole thing. At times, Brock had wondered if he was the only person there who was very curious about the whole mystery. Taking a deep breath, Brock began, "The biggest mystery here to me is why people who aren't officials of the Pokemon League have been invited to a party that is clearly specifically for them." As he said this he gestured to May, Dawn, and Max. "I also am referring to myself, as I am a Pokemon Breeder. Although it is true my invitation could be explained because of my job to cook," he added as an afterthought. "Anyway, when you really think about it, Ash is the only explanation for this party's entire guest list." Receiving confused looks from everyone around him Brock began to elaborate. "Well I guess it is much easier for me to see this explanation because I know everyone here. Put it this way, for those of us here who have traveled with Ash through whatever region it was, you know the gym leaders from that region well enough that they remembered who you are even after all this time right?" The girls nodded. Continuing Brock said, "Well Ash knows every single person in this room well enough to consider them all good friends of his. I would know as I've been to all of his gym battles. Even his very first one," he added at which he laughed. Seeing that no one was laughing with him and most had confused expressions he stopped and dully explained, "It's funny because when Ash challenged his first gym ever, I was the gym leader at the time."
"Ohhhh," said the group collectively at which point they broke into scattered laughter. Brock put a hand to his forehead and sighed.
"Anyway," said Brock loudly bringing the group back under control, "Ash is the only person that has a strong connection to every person who is here. Therefore I am sure he got invited."
"So basically you're saying that you just have this feeling that Ash was invited and invented this really scientific reason for it to be true," said Misty, earning a burst of laughter.
"Basically, but it does make sense right?" said Brock with a shrug. "Though, whether or not he does come, I just don't know." He stretched, saying, "One way or another, we'll find everything out when Scott shows up, whenever that may be."
"Well you're right about that, Brock," said Brandon who had stood up, closely followed by the other Frontier Brains, hands suspended at their waists. They were staring at the entrance. Twisting in his seat, Brock followed Brandon's gaze to the front doors of the Center.
Scott had finally arrived.
A/N(after the fact): Well here we go! So it begins. Nothing like a nice get together to kick things off. I remember when I first published this, the story was soooo different that what it is now. In a crazy way too, you wouldn't even believe me though if you're curious feel free to ask. Anyway at the moment I'm reminiscing about how this used to be two chapters with the first bit as a prologue because I wanted to troll people into thinking that the girl from the very beginning might be May. Now whenever I read it it's like I can hear the girl berating me for not saying her name the whole time. Anyway let me know what you think! Cheers and on to the next chapter!
One last thing, this fic will be very A/N light as I think it helps pace the story better. So for future, know that if you have any questions or something you'd like to share with me feel free to leave a review or PM me about it and I'll get right back to you. I love talking to readers and fellow writers. Some of my best ideas have come out of those conversations. I owe it all to you guys. ^_^