"She held the world upon a string, but she didn't ever hold me. She said she won the world, at a carnival, but she couldn't ever win me, because she couldn't ever catch me" -Panic At the Disco "She Had The World"
40 The Grand Finale
It was late when we docked in Kanto. The boat trip only took a day, because Johto and Kanto were so close. Mom, fighting off a large yawn, told everyone that the beds weren't ready, and the floor would have to suffice. No one complained. We were all about ready to keel over, and a carpeted floor would be welcome after a week or so of sleeping on the rock hard mountain.
How long had we been on the mountain? Was it a week? I had lost count of the days. My dreams that night were full of numbers like those on a calendar, and memories of my father from the night before.
The next morning, I woke up to sounds I hadn't heard in what felt like an eternity. There was a clunking of pots and pans in the kitchen, the sound of my mother humming to herself while she cleaned, and the patter of her footsteps as she bustled from one end of the kitchen to the other.
The living room was absolutely cramped with bodies strewn about the floor. The soft snores of my friends were the only sign that they were alive. I couldn't be too careful; after the mountain, I wouldn't be surprised if half of us died in our sleep.
Cautiously, I stepped over my slumbering friends and tiptoed into the kitchen. "Mom?" I said.
She jumped, spinning around. "Oh, it's you, Ash," she giggled. "You nearly gave me a heart attack!"
Without thinking, I reached out and hugged her. She hugged me right back, as was Mom instinct, I suppose. I realized just how much taller I was than her now, how frail her body seemed under my arms. I didn't want to let go. I hadn't hugged my mom like that in forever.
Finally, the thought of one of my friends waking up and seeing me like this embarrassed me enough to pull away. "Sorry," I murmured.
"You don't have to be sorry for hugging me, Ash, honey!" Mom exclaimed, closing her eyes and smiling. "I'm your mother. Now, what would you like for breakfast?"
"Hang on," I said. I reached into my pocket, remembering the promise I'd made Dad. The box was still resting in my jeans. Slowly, I pulled it out.
Mom stared at me. "What is it? A ring? For who?"
I met her eyes and for some reason, I felt as nervous as if I were proposing to her myself. "It's for you."
She gasped. "You bought me a ring? Where did you get the mon—?"
"It's not from me, it's from Dad."
Mom's jaw fell open. "C-Cináed? B-but you never met him."
"He left me things on Oupavos," I told her, feeling the lie burn in my chest. "This… he said this was for you." Silently, I placed the box in her hands.
She stood there, shocked. Her fingers trembled, the box dancing in her palms. She tried to speak, but her voice caught in her throat.
Abruptly, she swallowed and slipped the box into the pocket of her apron. "Breakfast?" she managed.
I immediately felt guilty. "You don't have to—."
"Since when do you have a conscience?" she retorted, and I think it was the first time I ever heard her tone go sharp. "Now, are waffles fine?"
Yes, waffles were perfect.
As I tucked in to wonderful breakfast of homemade waffles, everyone else began waking up. They trickled into the kitchen and sat down around the tiny table. Mom set plates in front of them before their eyes were even fully open. I heard the TV flick on, and the excited shout of Dawn crying, "Phineas and Ferb!"
Drew just nodded and tried not to nod off into his syrup. May occupied another chair, busying herself by tying her hair in her bandana. Misty took the final seat, tearing into her food like she'd never seen such a thing before.
Paul wandered in, saw that there were no seats available, and groaned. I snickered slightly. De ja vu, no? He grabbed a plate, piled three waffles on it, drowned them in syrup, and left the kitchen. I noticed he sat next to Dawn on the couch. Her cheeks turned pink, but she distracted herself by turning up the volume on the TV.
Max and Brock eventually came for their breakfast, and I had to place Dawn's in front of her so she would eat. I guess Phineas and Ferb takes priority before eating.
Pikachu enjoyed his perch on my shoulder, though he occasionally had a spaz attack and had to run around the house to calm down. Mom was bustling all over the place, setting up the party. The phone was ringing off the hook. Everyone else's families who'd met us at Oupavos hadn't been able to make the same boat as us, and were going to get here around five this evening.
Wonderful smells wafted from the kitchen. Mom made cakes and pies and cookies and my stomach rumbled with all the scents. She had to push us out of the house so we wouldn't sneak bites. We wound up at Oak's lab, chatting it up with Tracey.
Or at least most of us did. Brock had gone off to gawk at the girls on the beach and Arceus knew where Dawn and Paul were. May and Drew bickered, heated arguments about petty things springing up between the two. Max—who was thoroughly enjoying his wheelchair—and I could hardly stand it.
Misty said something about helping Mom. Whatever. I wasn't too sure I wanted to be around her right then. For some reason, I couldn't shake the anger I felt at her for saying what she did to Arceus.
"Why can't you just accept I'm a better Coordinator than you and get over your jealousy?" Drew snapped.
May gaped at him. "I can't believe you just said that! You pompous grass head!"
He looked a little disappointed. "You really need a different insult," he told her.
"Call him a cabbage head," Tracey suggested.
"Gay is a good one," offered Max.
May's gape turned to her brother. "I can't believe you just said that! 'Gay' is not a term we use, Max, especially not as an insult."
The three of us rolled our eyes. "Just trying to help," I muttered.
Drew sighed. "I guess I'll forever be a pompous grass head."
"Oh no you won't," May declared. She folded her arms and looked at him smugly. "Fag."
We four guys all fell over anime style. Well, Max couldn't, as he was stuck in his wheelchair, but you get the idea. "Oh, so 'gay' is bad, but 'fag' is totally okay," he said accusingly.
Drew was in shock. "I can't believe you just said that!"
"Adam Lambert wishes he were you," she continued silkily. I had never seen such a smirk on May's face.
"Ooh," I said, wincing. "That was below the belt."
Drew glared at her and flipped his bangs out of the way. "At least I'm not some insecure little girl," he shot at her.
May just laughed. "That was the best you could do?"
He shrugged. I could tell he was getting his composure back. "Well, you're the one who's in love with a fag."
Her face went blood red. "Excuse me?" she cried.
"It's a shame, really," he said pitifully. He turned around, walking away. "I mean, if you think I'm gay, you can never have me."
"What makes you think I want you?" May exclaimed.
I suddenly remembered May sobbing in the meadow, claiming she had died before she got to tell Drew she loved him. Hm. I wonder where that memory came from.
"I'm walking away, May," he teased, glancing back. He shoved his hands in his pockets, as if he were certain May would regret it if she let him leave now.
"The man I'm in love with is not gay," May said defiantly. "Meaning he's not you."
I thought this would hurt Drew, but he shrugged again. "Suit yourself." He made his way down the hill. I'm sure he was smirking the entire time.
May watched him for a little bit before she stomped her foot angrily. "Ooh, I hate him!" she shrieked, and she sprinted after him.
"Ah, love," Tracey said romantically. He looked at me. "Are Misty's sisters coming to the party?"
I rolled my eyes. "C'mon Max, let's get out of here." I began to wheel him down the hill.
"Hey!" Tracey called, following. "You didn't answer me!"
I exchanged a grin with Max and put the wheelchair in turbo. We raced down the hill, Max whooping in the seat and me leaning on top of him so as not to topple the chair over. Tracey couldn't keep up with the runaway wheelchair.
Naturally, we crashed at the base of the hill, laughing like maniacs. Max fixed his glasses and fell back in the grass. I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt. The grass was warm and soft and absolutely perfect. A clear summer sky rested above us. I pulled some grass out of the earth and threw it at Max. He retaliated likewise. When Tracey finally reached us, we were cramping up from laughing so much and coated in a fresh layer of grass.
Mounds. That was the only accurate term to describe how much food there was. Mounds. Of. Food.
I traversed the house and backyard, happily plucking food off of every plate I passed and sticking it in my mouth. It was so good. After however long I'd been on the mountain of eating marshmallows and granola bars, it was wonderful to get something wholesome inside me. And my mom had cooked almost everything, which made it ten times better.
Outside, Mom and Misty had strung lanterns across the yard. Tables with plastic tablecloths were set up on the edges of the yard. In the center, Drew and Brock were engaged in a game of Ninja. Max was showing his father his newfound ability, bending spoons and levitating crackers. May and Misty chatted over by the punch, and after overhearing their last conversation, I wasn't eager to find out what they were talking about.
I noticed Paul standing at one of the tables, and decided to join him.
"Hey Paul," I greeted cheerily.
He spun around in fright. His cheeks were stuffed, and crumbs clung to his lips and chin. I fell over laughing at the sight of him.
With narrowed eyes, he swallowed and wiped his mouth with a napkin. "So I have a penchant for Oreos," he said thickly.
I looked at the tray of Mom's homemade Oreo platter (it consisted of Oreo balls, Oreo cheesecake slices; anything with the term 'Oreo' in its name was on that platter) and nearly passed out from laughing again. He had eaten almost the whole plate. I couldn't believe it.
"You—you ate the whole thing!" I sputtered, cackling.
"At least my consumption is contained to one area of the party," he growled. "You have cleaned out how many plates so far?"
"Don't be jealous that I'm winning," I said.
"It's not a race, Ketchum," he replied.
"Hi Paul!" Dawn called happily.
He choked on his next Oreo. I offered him my punch, but he waved me away. Dawn appeared beside him, beaming. Paul swallowed dryly and cleared his throat. "Hello," he managed.
"I want to talk to you," she said, her voice all bubbles.
Sensing that this was something I probably shouldn't be involved in, I slunk away. Drew and Brock's game was still going strong, so I settled to observe that.
Gary came over and sat down on the grass next to me. He drained his drink and rested his head on his knees. He didn't say a word to me, not even an insult about my hat. I was instantly worried.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"No," he snapped. "But thanks for asking."
I stared at him. "You don't have to be a sour Skitty," I told him. "It's a party. Enjoy yourself."
"I can't," he said. "I can't stop… thinking about Leaf."
I immediately felt guilty. "Oh," was all I said.
Drew successfully defeated Brock. With narrowed eyes, Brock called out Sudowoodo, and a Pokemon battle sprung up between the two. Drew's mom and Brock's father came out to watch, as did several other adults.
To my surprise, Drew lost. I blinked in confusion, because his Absol could have squashed Brock like a bug, but I then remembered the awful fate that had befallen the poor creature, and I felt guilty again.
Everyone was outside, socializing and whatnot, until Professor Oak showed up with multiple bottles of Chardonnay. All the adults kinda ushered us kids back into the house and Mom broke out the wine glasses.
"Um, Ash," she called as she headed out the back door, glasses chinking against each other, "would you guys mind staying inside? You can watch a movie or something."
Well, that really showed how much they all missed us.
I shrugged and said okay. She paused to pick a blade of grass from my hair before heading outside. Something glinted on her left hand, and I had to smile. There you go, Dad, I thought.
"Now what?" asked Max.
I looked around at the intricate party decorations strung up around the house. "Truth or dare?" I suggested.
My idea was met with angry scowls and yells of "NO!" I chuckled at them. "Then what should we do?"
We decided on a movie. I found the popcorn in the kitchen and made as many as the microwave could stand. While it popped, I asked myself if a party could be more un-party-ish.
I came back to find the curtains drawn and the room dark save for the glow of the TV. May and Drew sat next to each other, knees touching. Max was seated near the end of the sofa in his wheelchair, with Misty on the sofa and an open space that I assumed was for me. Paul was sitting on the overlarge recliner, Dawn in his lap. Because that's a scene we all want to walk in on.
The previews ended shortly after I distributed the popcorn to everyone. Gary sat on the floor, leaning against the couch. He looked morbidly depressed. I stepped around him and sat down next to Misty. She probably wanted me to put my arm around her or something, but I honestly did not want to.
As soon as the movie got going, the doorbell rang. In order to get out of the awkward atmosphere with Misty, I raced off to answer it. Pikachu scampered after me, chu-ing in delight.
I flung the door open and found myself staring at a girl about five feet tall. She had short pink hair that hardly went past her ears and the strangest blue eyes I'd ever seen. They didn't look human. An enormous bruise was present on her cheek.
She opened her mouth, and it seemed that speaking was very difficult for her. "Ash," she said, but it came out sounding like "ah sh." I wondered if she was deaf or something.
I nodded. She looked around wildly before pushing past me. "Whoa!" I cried, and I whipped around to tell the girl to get the hell outta my house. To my confusion, Pikachu was nuzzling her with affection. "Pikachu?" I questioned.
The girl glanced at me, and with a flash she was no longer a girl. Mew hovered a foot above the carpet of my entryway, holding Pikachu in her short arms. Her face was badly bruised, but at least she looked better than the last time I saw her.
"Hi Ash," she greeted, and her voice no longer sounded like someone who couldn't speak. She took in my shocked expression. "Celebi healed me," she explained.
"Oh," I said. I swallowed. "Well, that's good."
"Daddy is here too," she continued, nuzzling Pikachu.
Slowly, I made the connection. Daddy equals Arceus. Oh shit.
With trembling hands, I opened the front door again. There stood Arceus, on my front porch, taller than the door. I would have laughed if I hadn't been terrified out of my wits.
"Greetings," he rumbled.
Arceus was going to kill me. He was blaming me for Yacaeli's death and now he'd come back to kill me. Oh Uxie. I was going to die.
Mew giggled, and I swear Arceus smiled. "I am not here to kill you," he said.
My wrist abruptly felt cold. I hadn't noticed, but the bracelet had been heating up. It still worked. I stared up at Arceus, and wondered if I should invite him in or something.
"I won't be long," he said.
I swallowed and leaned on the door. I had absolutely no idea as to what he was going to say.
"As you know, Celebi is a daughter of mine with the ability to travel time, at least in her forest," he said. "I realized that if I can create something with that ability, I myself must have it as well. I just need to discover it."
I blinked. Was he saying he could turn back the clock?
Arceus chuckled. "I am," he said, reading my mind (literally). "I think I will be able to turn time back, at least to before Leaf dies, the human girl. That is her name, correct?"
I nodded, stupefied. He could save her. Save both of them.
The great Pokemon nodded inside. "Go and get your scientist friend. I wish to speak with him."
It took me a moment, but my feet finally understood the command and I padded off to find Gary. He was exactly as I left him, sadly slumped against the couch. "Door's for you, Gary," I said with a stupid grin on my face.
Gary rolled his eyes at me and sorrowfully rose to his feet. He left the room in an aura of depression. I smirked and sat down again, swinging my arm around Misty's shoulders. She jumped and stared at me. I jutted forward a bit and kissed her nose. She gaped. "What the hell!" she cried.
"Nothing," I said coyly. It was then I spied Paul and Dawn, and I wished I hadn't done what I just did so I would not look like a hypocrite. "No one needs to see that," I called at them.
They pulled apart, eyes closed. "You're supposed to watch the movie, not us," Paul replied.
"My brother is in the room!" May cried, appalled.
"And he's had his fair share of these experiences, hasn't he?" Dawn pointed out. She slunk her arms around Paul's neck and kissed him again.
I looked to the back door. "Oh hi Johanna!" I said loudly.
The happy couple jumped apart. "Mom!" Dawn cried.
There was a flash. "Oh you two are so cute!" she exclaimed, giggling as if she were tipsy. "I'm going to go show Delia. Delia!" she called, brandishing her camera, and she left the room.
We were silent, save for the sounds of the movie. Finally, Paul cleared his throat. "Well," he said, "that was awkward."
"Ha ha," Drew laughed. "You got caught. Even Max never got caught!"
"Guys!" Gary shouted, stampeding into the room. "This is amazing! It's the most wonderfully fantastic thing since the invention of the Master Ball!"
"And it is?" Misty prompted. She was thoroughly enjoying my arm around her.
Gary took a deep breath. "I can't tell you," he decided, catching my eye. "You'll find out soon enough."
After another few minutes of pestering Gary and begging him to reveal his wonderfully fantastic thing, the others discovered that he was as stubborn as he was smug. Gary was relentless in keeping his secret. I could understand that.
"Oh," said Gary, as if it were an afterthought. "Drew, he wants to see you."
Drew stared at him. "Who?"
I exchanged a sly grin with Gary. "You'll see," he said.
With a puzzled expression, Drew went to the door. I had to wonder what Arceus could possibly have to say to him, until Drew came bounding back in the room not a minute later. "Look!" he cried, beaming.
The majestic Absol from the mountain padded after Drew, looking immensely proud. Pikachu rode on his back, gripping his lone horn for safety.
"The Absol from the mountain said he wants to come with me!" he continued. "And he can talk!"
"Arceus has granted me with the power of speech," the Absol confirmed, and there was a boastful tone to his voice. "However, the choice to follow the green furred Trainer was completely my own."
Drew could not stop smiling. "I'm going to show my mom," he said happily, and he skipped out the back door.
"Hey!" Misty snapped. "What did I say about skipping?"
This caused us all to split open in laughter. Even Gary and Paul were cracking up.
I'm not sure who threw first, but a full blown popcorn war started, which resulted in popped kernels in the couch cushions, under the chairs, and on the shelves. I don't think I ever laughed so much in my life.
**********************************************************Last Paragraph Break!********************************************************
"It's the final round of the Isshu League, and the challenger, Ash Ketchum, is down to his last Pokemon." The announcer's voice reverberated around the stadium, echoed by the crowd's vibrant cheers.
Pikachu panted heavily, having just awoken from fainting. I grinned at him, silently telling him that this was a battle he didn't have to win. The newest addition to our team could take care of it. My opponent smiled playfully. Clearly he thought he had already won.
I smirked. He was going to regret that. My eyes searched the stadium, and I saw Misty and Mom jumping up and down, screaming my name. It wasn't hard to imagine my father next to them, cheering just as loudly. I scanned the crowd, finding the pink haired girl with strange blue eyes. Next to her, a man with gray-white hair smirked down at me, fingering the ornate, yellow spiked collar around his neck. At his side was a beautiful woman, with creamy white hair and eyes that shone like the moon. She waved, and I saw the flowing tattoos that ran up her arms. Almost regrettably, I returned my attention to the battlefield.
"This is it," I murmured. My hand slipped into my pocket, pulling out my final asset. The pokeball felt warm in my palm, a reminder of what was inside. Holding the button down, I pitched the ball into the field. "Go!" I yelled. "Cináed!"
There was a brilliant flash of light, and standing on the field was my beautiful Arcanine. He shook out his mane and met his competitor's eyes with a knowing glare. The bracelet heated up, feeling his presence.
It was a battle that Dad would have been proud of.
*AN: Oh my gosh that was the best story I've ever done. I am proud. It took 189 pages of Microsoft Word but I DID IT! Thank you all for sticking with it to the end and reviewing and everything! I owe the completion of this story to you. And Amber Ice Fox, who was breathing down my neck and helped me with the ending, cuz before she got to it, it sucked. Seriously. Luv ya girl! I'm sad to end this story. Truly. It's almost painful to write these words.
Farewell, everyone, until my next story! In like, a week or so, if you like Kingdom Hearts. Or until I finish at least five chapters for Cold Blooded Killers. K? Bye!*
The Legend of the Sky Cat