"W-wait!" Ash gasped. "What's going on? I don't understand! Why did I end up here in the first place! What are you going to do with him?" By "him," he meant "Lucario" – and maybe "Dad" but not even Mew could tell.

Mew frowned. "Well… you want to go back to your world, of course. You have something that you've pledged to do. Ho-oh told me that she saw the entire thing. You can't stay here if it means giving up on what you've promised to do."

"That's not fair!" Pikachu cried out. "We only got to stay here for a couple of weeks! Why do we have to go back so soon?" Something twinkled in Mew's eyes.

"Don't worry, Pikachu. Someday you'll be able to teach him Thunderbolt properly like you wanted to. Someday… I think you'll make it back here, and maybe stay a little bit longer than last time. But… for the time being… there are things in your world that need to be taken care of." She turned to look at Ash again. "I'm sure that all of your friends are waiting for you back there. They won't remember any of it, but… I think that someday, it just might come back to them. But until that day comes…"

The light slowly faded to reveal a clearing in the middle of a forest. Now, there were plenty of clearings in the middle of forests in the Pokémon world, but this one was different from the others. Why? Because a few feet away, the portal leading to the strange other world stood at the base of a huge tree.

"We're back…" Ash said quietly as the world began to become more real. "But… hey! I'm still a Pikachu!" Mew giggled, while Pikachu blushed. "Oh no… please tell me I'm not stuck like this forever… how will I be able to be a trainer this way…" His rambling was cut short as something warm and fuzzy jumped on top of him. "Pikachu!" he shouted as she licked his ear.

"You know, I never did tell you…" she started. "…but you are very cute."

Mew giggled happily, pulling a camera out of thin air and aiming it at the two. As Pikachu happily hugged her trainer and Ash blushed so much, he looked more like a Flareon than a Pikachu, Mew snapped a picture of the two. The flash seemed to last for a few seconds longer than usual…

And when the light cleared, Pikachu was sitting in the lap of a very much human (and thankfully clothed) trainer.

"Huh?" Ash asked in his usual oblivious manner. "Hey! I'm back to myself again!" Scooping Pikachu up into his arms, he clambered onto his feet. Pikachu allowed herself a single sigh before deciding to be happy for her trainer.

"I guess you're still cute," she told him. Of course, a few seconds later, she realized that he couldn't understand her now, but he seemed to get the idea anyway as his face turned bright red again.

"Both of you!" Mew said, speaking into their minds. "I'll send you back to your friends now. Just… well, I'll keep your memories of this for now. It's for the best…" Noticing both of their downcast looks, she added, "I'll give them back someday! But for now… there's one more thing I have to tell you, and I won't take this part away… something dangerous is headed your way… and so… be careful, right?"

Mew giggled, did a backflip in the air, and the world around them began to glow with a bright light again…

The Onix fell to the ground, defeated with a single Thunderbolt. Misty was beyond complaining by this point. Pikachu looked proud as Ash cheered her on like usual.

It had been the same thing for months now. Nothing of interest had happened. That was, until today…

"We should reach the next city by dusk," Brock read off the map. "And there's supposed to be a gym…"

He had said the magic word. Ash and Pikachu took off through the woods without even bothering to clean up the camp. Misty shouted after them for a good five minutes, even though they would eventually come back for breakfast anyway.

In the branches of a nearby tree, a tiny, pink creature smiled.