Well, here it is ladies and gentleman. After years of writing and having severely postponed updates, it's time for "The Alphabet Game: EVAN AAML Style" to come to a close. It's been one heck of a ride, I'll admit. Challenging myself to writing a completely on-the-spot one-shot based upon a single random word took a lot of work, and while the updates were terribly slow, I still feel as though as I've accomplished something great. I thank you all for sticking by me with this story, for better or worse. I also ask that this "game" be spread around more. "The Alphabet Game" was a real writing challenge years ago. Back when I started writing stories, people would write a series of one-shots on a theme, much like I did here for Pokémon. However, the game died down over the years, and I hoped to resurrect it. So if you're looking to come up with a story, why not try your own Alphabet Game? I'm sure you won't regret it. :)

Also, one last note before we get on with the final chapter. As I stated in the previous chapter, I have some, (what I consider), important news to announce regarding future stories. I will tell you the news at the end of the chapter! Here is the final chapter of "The Alphabet Game: EVAN AAML Style", "Zipper".


"It's stuck".

"Just tug on it, it shouldn't be that hard".

"Tugging on it is just making it worse, it'll tear the fabric holding it together".

"Then don't worry about it, leave it open if it doesn't want to zip up".

Ash looked up to Misty, who was packing various items on the bed in her backpack. Despite the years it's been since she had done this, it was still second nature to her to pack for a long trip. Ash continued to hold together the two ends of his jacket in his hands, playing with the zipper in his right hand.

"I can't just leave it open, it's chilly out! I can't risk getting sick when we just start our next journey!", Ash explained. He then tried to zip the jacket once again, only for the zipper to once again get caught on the jacket. He sighed in frustration, which prompted a sigh from Misty.

"Ash, it's not that cold out. It's only September, and since when did the cold bother you anyway?", Misty asked, stopping her packing for just a moment to look at Ash for a response.

"Since I decided that I don't want to start off this journey with a cold! I don't want anything slowing me down this time!", Ash replied. Misty thought it was funny that Ash, who LITERALLY came back from death itself and shook it off, was concerned over a cold. However, she felt that he was being paranoid, and since they were already late, she didn't want to waste more time on something so foolish.

"Ash, I'm telling you, it's not that cold out. Don't worry about the zipper and finish packing", Misty said. Ash, still holding onto his jacket ends, rolled his eyes. He released the zipper and walked to the window at the other end of the bedroom. With one swift move, he slide the window open. No sooner did he do this than the wind burst into the room. Small items all over the room shook from the force of the wind and Misty immediately covered herself from the sudden cold breeze. Ash left the window open for a couple more seconds before sliding the window closed and looking at Misty with a look of content. Misty shivered for a few seconds, and then sighed.

"Ok, fine, it's cold out", Misty admitted, rubbing her arms to try to get warm. "But you're still wasting time working on a zipper when you could be packing up".

"Mist...I'm done packing, I have nothing left to do but this zipper", Ash said. Misty turned to Ash in shock.

"What!? How could you already be done!?", Misty asked. In all her years of knowing Ash, she had never once recalled a moment where he had packed before everyone else. He always did it at the last second and often screwed up the packing in the process.

"I did it last night, why do you think I never bothered to pull out my bag?", Ash said. He walked over to the side of his dresser and lifted up a backpack. He opened it up and placed it on the bed next to Misty, who immediately began looking through his bag. "I even managed to do some extra packing for Pikachu, his stuff is in a little container downstairs".

Misty made certain not to make a mess of what Ash had packed, but looked intently to see if he indeed "packed". His clothes were folded neatly, his food stashed away separately, his traveling equipment was tucked away properly, yes Ash in fact had packed, and packed well. Misty was stunned over the idea of it. Something so simple, yet so shocking considering it went against Ash's character. He always did things impulsively, working on what appeared to be basic instinct instead of early preparation. So why now did he decide to do everything early? She turned around to see Ash, once again fumbling with his zipper.

"How...?", Misty asked, just slightly above a whisper. Ash was not certain if she was asking him outright, or if she was more thinking aloud to herself, but he heard her regardless.

"I wanted to make sure I was ready for this journey Mist, it's important I'm no less than one hundred percent prepared", Ash explained.

"Wha...why? I don't understand", Misty said. Over the years, Ash had been on countless journeys spanning over thousands of miles and hundreds of cities. And while he was excited for each and every one, he never treated them any differently from one another. So why did this trip make that much more of a difference? Ash stopped messing with his zipper for a moment and looked to Misty with a smile.

"Mist...this could be the last journey I ever do", Ash said. Misty looked at Ash wide-eyed; stunned at the words that Ash was saying. Since when did Ash have the belief that this could be his last journey? And for what reason? He never mentioned anything about it before to her, so why all of a sudden did he feel this way? "I've been traveling for a long time Mist...and during that time I've met more friends and seen more places than I could possibly count. I've...experienced things...that most people could only dream about". Ash said this looking away, as if reflecting upon his past travels. Misty continued to look at him, not wanting him to stop.

"And while I would love to keep doing this forever, I know that, deep down, that's probably not going to happen. Before I know it, I'll begin to forget things I've done, and people I've met. I don't want to do this, but it happens all the same. I have other dreams, other things I want to do, besides Pokémon training", Ash explained. Misty was beginning to feel more and more concerned. Ash was not acting himself, and she began to wonder if he was alright. Ash always made it out to believe that he would be training forever, that he'd die being a Pokémon trainer, and not regret it for a second. While she always believed that to be somewhat exaggerated, she never thought that Ash would actually think about retirement when he was still so young.

"I want to be able to...to, you know...have a family. I want to find someone...who I want to spend my life with, and settle down. I want to have kids, and I want to be able to raise them right. I have all of my Pokémon, countless friends, and of course my traveling family, and I'm forever grateful and blessed to have you all in my life...but I want to be able to...I don't know...create dreams for my kids one day...you know what I mean?", Ash asked.

There was a minute of silence in the room. The wind outside could not distract the two from the conversation that was unfolding. Misty did nothing but stare at Ash for what he felt was forever. He began to grow more nervous over the silence, thinking to himself that perhaps he had said something that upset her, or even scared her. Had he implied something to her? All of these concerns grew worse when suddenly, Misty began to get teary eyed. Ash gasped slightly as Misty lifted her hand to wipe away stray tears from her eyes.

"I...I missed...so much", Misty said finally. Ash's heart dropped in his chest. He had no intention to imply anything of the sort to her. He rushed over to her and held her close, trying to comfort her.

"No Mist! I didn't mean that!", Ash explained. "Traveling with you were some of the best days of my life, I didn't mean to make you feel bad for having to leave. You had duties at the gym, you needed to be there, it's not your fault!".

"No, Ash...you don't understand", Misty said. Ash looked down to Misty as she looked up to him. He had grown taller than her over the years, (though only slightly). "I'm not upset because I missed experiencing those adventures with you...I'm upset...because I missed seeing you...grow into the mature adult you are now". Ash continued to stare at her, both stunned and flustered. "I'm not putting blame on anyone for me having to leave...but...we practically grew up together. We were just, two little kids, fighting over a stupid bike. But...we-we became more than that...we became, best friends. But, when I left, I didn't realize that, that'd be the last time I ever see that immature, brash little boy".

Once again, that nervous silence entered the room. The two just stared at each other, neither one of them making a noise. They seemed to have forgotten that they were wrapped in each other's arms, as they were lost in each other's eyes. This time, it was Ash to break the silence. Unlike Misty however, he did so not with teardrops, but with a chuckle. Misty nearly glared at the boy; it was as if he did not take her heart-felt explanation seriously.

"Misty...if that's what you were worried about...then you really didn't miss much", Ash said. Misty raised an eyebrow in confusion. He made a cheeky grin. "I really haven't matured as much as you think I have. Sure, I've realized some things over the years, things that, to this day, I'm kicking myself for not realizing when I was younger...but I am still that "immature, brash little boy", you saw leaving for Cerulean City. The reason why I'm preparing for this journey isn't just because I want to experience other things with my life...it's because this journey means a lot more to me".

Ash then released Misty and took a couple steps back, once again going for the zipper on his jacket. Misty was less concerned about his wasted time with his jacket however, and more concerned over what made this trip different than the others.

"Why is this trip so much different?", Misty asked. Ash smiled.

"Because...you're coming with me this time. I want to make sure it's perfect", Ash said. Misty's heart immediately began racing in her chest, which Ash could sense from her reddened face. He then looked back down to his zipper. "Which is why, (mph!), I want to get this zipper done, I want to make sure I don't get sick for our journey together".

Ash could hear Misty approaching him, and assumed she was finally giving in and helping him with his zipper. He held out the two ends of the jacket towards her, and had just enough time to raise his head before he found himself being kissed on the lips by Misty. He dropped the two ends of his jacket in shock and just stood there as Misty pressed her lips against his. He felt the heat in his face and suddenly felt weak at the knees as Misty slowly pulled away from Ash and looked lovingly into his eyes.

"That is...the most romantic thing...I've ever heard Ash Ketchum", Misty said softly. Ash looked at Misty's genuine smile and eyes of joy and could not help but feel enthralled at the moment. He smiled and held up the two ends of his zipper towards her.

"So then...does that mean you'll help me with this zipper?", Ash asked. Misty smiled and grabbed onto the two ends of his jacket. Without much effort at all, she managed to connect the two ends with the zipper, and zip up the jacket mid-way up his chest. He smiled and adjusted it accordingly for himself, then looked at Misty. "Thanks Mist". She smiled in response. Ash then leaned forward and grasped her hand in his. He led her to the bed, where he grabbed his bag, then looked at Misty's.

"Are you done packing?", Ash asked. Misty smiled.

"Pretty much", Misty replied. Ash smiled.

"Good. Let's get going then", Ash said. He quickly placed what remained of her things into her bag and handed it to her. She giggled at his impatience, perhaps he hadn't changed as much as she thought after all. "I don't know what my life has in store for me Misty...but as long as I'm with you...it doesn't matter". Misty blushed as Ash leaned over and gave her a soft kiss on the lips. When he finished, he checked over the zipper one more time and smirked. "It's an amazing world out there Mist...let's go exploring!".

And with that, I am now officially finished. I'll be honest and say that this story came off more rushed than I had originally intended, though I think I still got the message I wanted to across. To be fair, the final lines came as a dedication to my all-time favorite comic strip: Calvin & Hobbes. I want to thank you all for standing by me all this time and for being patient with me when I was slow. This update came late because my laptop's battery is dying, and it's hard for me to find a replacement for it. I write a little bit here and there for hear the battery will die and my work will be deleted. Anyway, you don't care about that, you want the news I promised you! Well, with this story officially over, and "R" nearing completion as well, you may be asking, what is my next project going to be? Well, I have SEVERAL ideas in store, a few of them entirely new ideas, and I hope that all of them will be just as entertaining as these stories were. I even have not one, but two special projects in the works with another author! (though these will be out much later). I won't tell you immediately what my next story will be, but I WILL say that it will DEFINITELY be a sequel! So keep an eye out for it sometime in the future! Until next time, this is EVAN AAML, signing off!

evan, a fan of aaml -EVAN AAML