Saffron City, Magnet Train station

Hareta, Gold, and Kotone stood in front of the station facing Red and Professor Oak, who had come to see them off after they paid one last visit to his lab. "So you'll all be heading home now, eh? After going through two regions one right after the other, I don't blame you," he chuckled.

Gold snickered and said, "Well, you're right about that, professor. It's been a while since any of us went back to being normal kids, so now's a good time as any. Time to head home, recharge our batteries, and let our folks know how we're doing."

Red nodded, "Yeah that goes for me too. I would've stopped by home while we were in Pallet Town, but I haven't seen my mom for so long. I'm sure as she soon as she sees me, she won't even let me step out of the house for almost a week. I do miss her, though; I can't wait to see her again."

Professor Oak said, "I'm sure you can't, Red." He then turned back to the trio and said, "Well, I hope we meet again soon. And Gold and Kotone, I hope you enjoy your new little friends." At that, a Charmander climbed up onto Gold's shoulder and a Bulbasaur rubbed up against Kotone's leg. They both smiled down at them. Professor Oak turned to Hareta and said, "Again, I'm terribly sorry I didn't have a Pokémon to give you, Hareta. A new Trainer came in this morning and he really wanted the Squirtle, the one Pokémon I didn't have any more of."

Hareta replied, "That's okay, professor. I understand. Besides, I've got Empoleon, and no Water-type could ever replace him, especially not as my number one."

Professor Oak smiled, "I see. You know, it's always so refreshing to see such a strong bond between Trainer and Pokémon. How would you like a poem to take with you as a memento of your journey?"

A voice suddenly came in over the station loudspeakers, "Attention all Magnet Train passengers. The train to Goldenrod City will be departing soon. Stop whatever you're doing and board the train now."

Red spoke, "I guess there's no time for that kind of souvenir, professor."

Professor Oak sighed, "I suppose you're right, Red." He then turned back to Hareta and said, "Be sure to give Professor Rowan my best when you see him."

Hareta replied, "I'll be sure to, Professor Oak!"

Kotone said, "Thanks for everything, professor!"

Gold added, "Hope to see you again soon!" The three of them then headed inside the station with Charmander and Bulbasaur, waving to Professor Oak and Red as they did, both of them waving back. Inside the station, they fished out their Magnet Train passes and went through the automatic ticket check, which allowed them to pass through. They then took the stairs down to the train platform and boarded the Magnet Train with the other passengers. They managed to find seats close together next to the window on the left side of the train and sat down. Before the train started to move, Gold and Kotone decided it would be best to keep the Pokémon in their Poké Balls, so they recalled Charmander and Bulbasaur.

Soon afterwards, the Magnet Train lifted off the ground and began moving along the track, going west through a tunnel that led to the overhead tracks outside. Upon seeing the scenery pass by in fast motion, Hareta said, "Wow, this train is going really fast!"

Kotone nodded, "Of course it is, Hareta. The Magnet Train is held up by magnetic levitation, which is also what makes it move. The moving magnetic field is what makes it possible for the train to travel up to 340 miles per hour."

Hareta looked amazed at that. "Whoa! I didn't know it could go that fast!" he exclaimed.

Gold grinned, "Well, people do refer to it as a bullet train for a reason, Hareta. You see where that name comes from now, don't you?"

Hareta nodded, "Yep!" The three of them then relaxed in their seats and spent most of the rest of the trip watching the scenery fly by.

Sooner than they expected, they arrived at Goldenrod City, the train gliding to a stop as it approached the station. The train doors slid open after the train came to rest on the ground and Hareta, Gold, and Kotone got off along with the other passengers. Stepping outside of the station, Gold glanced down at his Pokégear and said, "It looks like we still have a few hours of travel time left. So which way should we go to get back to New Bark Town?"

Kotone suggested, "Why don't we head north? Since you caught Sudowoodo on Route 36, there's been more traffic between Violet City and Ecruteak City. We could reach Violet City faster that way than if we went through the Ilex Forest."

Hareta said, "Sounds like a plan to me! What do you think, Gold?"

Gold shrugged, "Okay, sounds good to me too. Let's get going!" With that, the three of them began making their way north to Route 35 and the National Park.

By evening, the group had made it through Violet City and was near the northern end of Route 30 when they decided to stop for the night. They had a quick dinner and then rolled out their sleeping bags for the night, wanting to be up early so they could reach Cherrygrove City as soon as possible. They formed a triangle shape around the campfire, Pikachu sleeping on the ground next to Gold, Minun snuggled up near Hareta, and Eevee curled up beside Kotone's bag.

Sometime later that night, Gold's eyes flickered open. He lazily looked up at the night sky for a moment, not sure why he was up, and then pushed out of his sleeping bag enough to sit up. He then went back to looking up at the night sky, remembering where they were and realizing that tomorrow was probably the last time he was going to see Hareta for a while. "The time's finally come, huh? Kotone and I will be home when we get to New Bark Town, but Hareta's going to have to catch a boat from Cherrygrove City to get home to Sinnoh," he murmured to himself.

A moment later, he heard Hareta's voice, asking, "Gold…? Are you up?"

Gold turned around to see Hareta coming over from the line of trees along the route. He said, "Hey Hareta. Having trouble sleeping?"

Hareta replied, "Not really. I woke up because I had to go to the little boy's room." Gold nodded in understanding.

Kotone suddenly groaned, "Ugh… What's going on?" Gold and Hareta glanced over at her as she sat up and rubbed her eyes. She then looked over at the two boys and asked, "You two are still up?"

Gold shrugged, "Eh, not really. We just kind of woke up out of the blue." At that, Minun, Pikachu, and Eevee began to stir, each of them getting up and yawning.

Hareta grinned sheepishly, "Well, looks like we're all up now."

Kotone sighed, "Great. Now how are any of us going to fall back asleep?"

Gold suggested, "We could try counting the stars." Hareta, Kotone, and the Pokémon shrugged at that, Hareta going back over to his sleeping bag and pushing his legs inside of it as he sat down, Minun, Pikachu, and Eevee leaping onto their Trainers' sleeping bags and sitting down as well. Everyone sat in silence for a few minutes before Gold admitted, "I guess I woke up because I was thinking about tomorrow."

Hareta looked over at him and asked, "What about tomorrow?"

Kotone looked at him as she said, "I think he was referring to you, Hareta, and the fact that you'll be leaving tomorrow."

Hareta smiled, "Oh is that what he meant? Okay."

Gold glanced over at Hareta and asked, "'Okay'? That's all you've got to say to that? You're not upset by the fact that we're going to be splitting up at all?"

Hareta replied, "No. I'm sad that we won't be seeing each other for a while after tomorrow, yes, but that's okay. Back in Sinnoh, whenever a friend left or we got split up, there was usually never any time to think about it or how I felt about seeing them go. Now that I've had time to think, I realize that it's really sad to see friends go. But it's also not so hopeless; it's not like we'll never see each other again after we leave. We'll just be in different locations on the same planet. It's not like we'll be worlds apart. I know we'll see each other again someday."

Kotone looked at Hareta for a moment before saying, "You know, I think you're right, Hareta. I guess having a wild first adventure like you had would really teach you this kind of thing, huh?"

Hareta replied, "Yeah. I had to see a lot of friends go back then, but I think the reason I was never saddened by them leaving was because I always knew that I'd see them again, especially the ones I really liked. Kind of like you and Gold."

Gold smiled, "We're pretty close to you, huh?"

Hareta grinned, "Yep! Like family! So let's make the most out of tomorrow, what do you say?" Gold and Kotone agreed with him and, shortly afterwards, everyone went back to sleep. This time, everyone stayed asleep; nobody woke up in the middle of the night for any reason. Because of the small conversation they'd just had, it felt like a great weight had been lifted from their shoulders.

The following morning, the group entered Cherrygrove City and immediately headed for the port area to inquire about ferries to the Sinnoh region. After some talking around, they found out that the next ferry wouldn't be leaving until early that same evening. With no choice but to wait, Gold and Kotone suggested that they could kill time by paying a visit to New Bark Town, which Hareta agreed to.

As they approached the eastern entrance to Cherrygrove City, they were approached by three Ace Trainers, two of them female and the third a male. The male Trainer called to them, "Hey hold up, you three!"

The trio stopped and turned to look at them, Kotone asking, "Yes? Can we help you?"

One of the two females replied, "I have a feeling you can. What do you three say to a battle?"

Gold asked, "A battle? Who are you three?"

The other female Trainer spoke, "I'm Halle, she's Shannon, and he's Samuel. We're from the Hoenn region and we're looking to see if Johto has any Trainers worth battling. So what do you say?"

Hareta asked, "Um, how are we…?"

Samuel answered, "We'll have a Triple Battle. You three against us three and we'll each use one Pokémon apiece. How does that sound?"

Gold glanced between Kotone and Hareta, seeing the knowing looks in their eyes, and then looked back at the Ace Trainers and said, "All right, you've got a deal! Let's have a triple battle!"

The six Trainers moved their battle over to the grass near the beach area at the city's western side. The Hoenn Trainers sent out their Pokémon first, Samuel sending out his Mawile, Shannon calling out her Claydol, and Halle sending out her Sableye. Hareta, Gold, and Kotone thought about what their opponents were before deciding on which Pokémon each of them was sending out. After thinking about it for a minute, Hareta sent out Typhlosion, Gold called out Meganium, and Kotone sent Feraligatr out.

Halle went first, telling her Sableye to use Shadow Ball on Meganium, which Gold countered by calling for Meganium to use Light Screen. At his call, Meganium created a light-blue wall around the team from the antennas on his head, which held the Shadow Ball back. Seeing that Meganium was temporarily unable to move, Shannon told Claydol to use Rapid Spin on Typhlosion and Samuel ordered Mawile to use ViceGrip on Feraligatr. At that, Hareta called for Typhlosion to use Flamethrower on Claydol and Kotone told Feraligatr to use Aqua Tail on Mawile. Unfortunately, the attacks didn't work out as they hoped they would; Claydol's Rapid Spin allowed it to plow through the Flamethrower at Typhlosion while suffering a minimal amount of damage and Mawile managed to dance around the Aqua Tail and clamp its large jaw-like horns on Feraligatr's head.

Halle took this opportunity to tell Sableye to use Fury Swipes on Meganium, the Darkness Pokémon dashing towards the Herb Pokémon at that. Gold told Meganium dispel the Light Screen barrier and then use Razor Leaf. Sableye easily dodged the leaves that were sent out from Meganium's flower and leapt towards him with its claws ready. Meganium, however, caught the Darkness Pokémon with Vine Whip, grabbing it by its legs. He then brought it back and then threw it towards Mawile, hitting the Deceiver Pokémon in the side and causing it to release its ViceGrip on Feraligatr. Now freed from Mawile's jaws, Feraligatr whipped around and blasted both Sableye and Mawile with a Hydro Pump attack.

Typhlosion, meanwhile, was still busy dealing with Claydol. After its Rapid Spin had ended, Claydol hovered back from Typhlosion and floated in place for a moment, which gave Typhlosion the opportunity to hit it with a Swift attack. After recovering from being hit by all the yellow stars that Typhlosion launched from her mouth, Claydol retaliated with an AncientPower attack. Typhlosion dodged it by using Quick Attack and immediately launched into her next attack: Rock Climb. Claydol tried to stop her by using Psybeam, but Typhlosion's Rock Climb was accelerated by her Quick Attack and she struck Claydol before it could move, sending it backwards.

The battle between the two teams continued for a while, but eventually the Pokémon began to look exhausted. As they all were beginning to run out of steam, Sableye and Mawile went in for another attack, Sableye preparing a Shadow Claw for Feraligatr and Mawile going for Typhlosion with a Bite attack. Feraligatr caught Sableye with his jaws in a Crunch attack, shaking it for a moment before flinging it back towards the other side, while Typhlosion easily knocked Mawile back with a Focus Punch. Claydol managed to catch both of them as they flew backwards, all of them panting heavily after the Clay Doll Pokémon came to a stop. Seeing this, Gold turned to Hareta and Kotone and said, "Let's finish this, guys!" Both Hareta and Kotone nodded at that and they all looked back at their Pokémon. It was time to wrap this up.

"Typhlosion, use Fire Blast!" Hareta called.

"Meganium, Solarbeam!" Gold ordered.

"Use Hydro Pump, Feraligatr!" Kotone said.

Then, all together, they spoke, "TAKE THIS! TRIPLE FINISH!" At that, Meganium, Typhlosion, and Feraligatr unleashed their attacks together, all of them hitting the opposing team's Pokémon at the same time. A large explosion followed and, when the dust cleared, Sableye, Mawile, and Claydol were all down for the count.

The three Ace Trainers were silent in disbelief for a moment. Then Shannon seemed to find her voice and said, "Wow. You three are strong. Are all Johto Trainers this tough?"

Gold grinned, "Well, I don't know how many of them are really tough, but we've sure run into some tough ones in our travels. I'm sure you won't be disappointed while you're here."

Samuel smiled, "Is that right? We'll be sure to keep that in mind as we go. And hey, if you three are ever looking for a new challenge, you should check out Hoenn. You should find it fun."

Halle finished, "It was nice meeting you three. Hope to see you again sometime!" With that, the three Ace Trainers headed for the Pokémon Center to go heal their Pokémon.

As they watched them go, Kotone murmured to herself, "Hoenn… There's quite a bit of ancient history hanging around that region. And they have a Pokémon League of their own. Maybe…"

She was snapped out of her musing when Gold spoke, "Hey Kotone!" The brunette looked up to see Hareta, Gold, and the Pokémon looking at her. She blushed a bit as she realized just how lost in thought she had been. Gold continued, "We've still got a few hours before Hareta's ship leaves. If we get moving now, we might have enough time to get there, show him around, and get back here before then."

Kotone said, "Oh yeah, that's what we were going to do when those three challenged us. Let's go, then!" With that, they headed back in the direction of Route 29, making their way east to New Bark Town.

A few hours later, as the sun was beginning to set in the western sky, Hareta and Typhlosion stood facing Gold, Meganium, Kotone, and Feraligatr near the ship that would be leaving soon. During the last few hours, Hareta had been properly introduced to Professor Elm as well as Gold's mom and Kotone's parents and was shown around New Bark Town. But now the time had come; it was time for Hareta to go his own way.

"Well, this is it, Hareta. You started out your Johto journey here in Cherrygrove City and now you're going to end it here. It sure was one heck of a journey, wasn't it?" Gold asked.

Hareta nodded, "It sure was! I'll never forget all the fun I had with you and Kotone, Gold! I'm glad we got to travel together all this time!"

Kotone giggled, "You're sweet, Hareta. I still remember that you were a real bundle of energy when we first met you. I mean, you still are now, but you're a little more contained than you used to be. I'd definitely say you've grown up a little bit from this whole journey."

Hareta smiled, "Thanks, Kotone. I'm glad I got to learn little about myself and my family history during this journey. But I'm sure it would've been much different if I hadn't been with you. I probably would've learned nothing and not grown up at all without you guys."

Gold spoke, "Hey, even though we're going to be separated by miles of ocean for who knows how long, don't forget that we're always with you in spirit, Hareta."

Hareta grinned, "Don't worry, Gold, I know. We're best friends for life!" At that, all three Trainers brought their right arms forward and bumped their fists together. Nearby, Typhlosion, Feraligatr, and Meganium also bumped fists (or for Meganium, his vine) together as well, displaying their own strong bond with each other. They all expected to be separated when new Trainers came to select their first Pokémon, but perhaps by fate, they ended up in the hands of Trainers that were on the same journey together. This would be one adventure they would never forget either.

Suddenly, the ship's horn sounded, indicating that it was almost ready to leave, and everyone turned to look up at it. They then looked back at each other, Hareta saying, "Well, I guess we'd better get going."

Gold nodded, "Yeah. Take care of yourself, Hareta!"

Kotone asked, "We'll be seeing you again sometime?"

Hareta replied, "You bet. Thanks for everything, Gold and Kotone. See you guys later!" He and Typhlosion then turned and began walking over to the ramp leading to the ship, waving back at Gold, Meganium, Kotone, and Feraligatr as they went, all of them waving back.

As the ship started to pull out of the port, Gold and Kotone called out all of their Pokémon, all of them waving to Hareta, who was standing next to the railing near the back of the ship with almost all of his Pokémon. He hadn't called out Regigigas or Onix, but he held onto their Poké Balls in his right hand as he waved with his left hand, allowing them to see and wave through the red part of it.

As the ship began to get smaller and smaller, Gold, Kotone, and all of their Pokémon stopped waving and watched as the ship continued to shrink as it headed southeast. "He's a good kid, isn't he?" Gold sighed.

Kotone nodded, "Yeah. Kind of like a real little brother." After considering what she said, she snapped her fingers, "Oh shoot! I forgot!"

Gold looked over at her, "Forgot what?"

Kotone looked back at him and said, "I was going to ask him what we are to him." At Gold's questioning look, she explained, "He called Mitsumi his big sister. I know he said that we're like family to him, but I wanted to know what he was thinking of when he said that."

Gold replied, "Oh yeah, that. Well, you can ask him next time we see him. Anyway, we should probably get home. My mom and your parents are making a big 'welcome home' dinner after all."

Kotone said, "Yeah, you're right. Let's go home." They then recalled all of their Pokémon except for Pidgeot and Togekiss. The two Trainers then climbed on their backs and they took off, taking them back to New Bark Town.

Meanwhile…

With Johto no more than a speck on the horizon, Hareta and his Pokémon decided to get comfortable for the ride home to Sinnoh. Lucario and Sceptile were hanging out near the front of the ship, Minun and Sneasel were running around the deck and down the ship's hallways playing, and Luxray, Alakazam, Typhlosion, and Scizor were talking near the pool area, occasionally getting surprised by Misdreavus using Astonish on them for fun.

As for Hareta himself, he was standing next to one of the ship's railings, resting his arms on it as he looked at the sunset. While he was looking, he heard the sound of footsteps approaching and turned his head to look. He smiled, "Hey Empoleon."

The Emperor Pokémon gave him a nod and then asked, "(What are you doing over here by yourself, Hareta?)"

The boy replied, "Just watching the sunset. You know, I've always loved to watch the sun rise and set, but until this journey, I never realized how much I took the two for granted. Never realized what it would be like to wake up and never be able to see the sun ever again."

Empoleon nodded and walked over, standing beside Hareta. Together, they watched as the sun continued to sink lower and lower in the sky. He said, "(I guess now we know that we should be thankful for all those things we take for granted.)"

Hareta nodded. A moment of silence passed before he spoke up again, "We've sure been through a lot since we started traveling, haven't we?" When Empoleon glanced over at him, he went on, "I mean, Gramps let me become a Trainer because he thought it would be good for me and that I would be able to find Dialga. That's how we met Mitsumi and Jun, as well as how we got involved with Team Galactic's plot. And we went through a whole lot more during our trip here in Johto and Kanto."

Empoleon asked, "(Where are you going with this?)"

Hareta replied, "I guess I'm just thinking about how everything's worked out so far. I mean, even the smallest difference could've changed everything significantly; we could be living in Cyrus' vision of a perfect world now or in a world ruled entirely by Faust. Those are bad possibilities to consider, of course, but there could also be some that wouldn't be all bad. But I don't care about that stuff; I'm perfectly happy with where I am right now. And none of this would've been possible without mom, dad, Gramps, Gold, Kotone, Jun, Mitsumi, and, most important of all…" He turned to look up at Empoleon before finishing, "you, Empoleon."

The Emperor Pokémon gave him a warm smile at that. This was definitely the Hareta he knew and loved. They turned to look back at the setting sun, the skies darkening as the night approached. Their adventure in Johto and Kanto wasn't their first journey together and they knew it wouldn't be the last. They had no idea what the future held for them, but they knew they and the rest of Hareta's Pokémon would face it together. Not just as Trainer and Pokémon, but as best friends and family.


Music:

Returning to Johto - Tornado (Sonic Unleashed)

Late Night Talk - Dusk at Excess Express (Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door)

Triple Battle! - Sunset Colosseum (Pokémon Battle Revolution)

Parting at the Port - Dear My Friend (Sonic Unleashed)

The Sun Sets on Another Adventure - Ending Credits (Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future)

Well, that's it. The story is finally over. I apologize for the long wait for this. I had a bit of a case of writer's block shortly after I started writing. I think it turned out more or less how I was expecting it to, but I hope that you thought it was a good ending too.

The three Ace Trainers that challenged Hareta, Gold, and Kotone to a Triple Battle are based off of the Cooltrainers from Hoenn's Victory Road. Hm, I wonder if Hoenn is in anyone's future.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this extremely long fanfic. When I started writing it, I think I had, at most, 50 chapters in mind. As you can tell, it went far beyond that. I don't know if it was enjoyable, but it did allow me to cover as much as I could in this one story.

I planned on including a teaser for the sequel for one last chapter, but I didn't like what I had written and ultimately decided any teaser would make the ending seem less emotional. So I'll just say this: I really hope you enjoyed reading this story, I thank you for putting up with me all this time, and if you did enjoy reading this, then I hope you'll keep an eye out for the sequel, "Pokémon: The Shadow Flames".

Thank you very much, everyone! Hope to see you again soon!