The hardest part about his change in lifestyle was deciding what he was going to wear every day. How Misty could settle on those suspenders, he would never know. Would he be a blonde today? A redhead? There was that new teal one in the pigtails he'd been wanting to try... Who exactly was trying to decide all of this? Why, it was Ash Ketchum of little Pallet Town. The poor boy had been forced into crossdressing time and time again during his journies. So much so, that his hatred for it started to lessen and a fondness for it began to grow. Deep, deep inside, Ash would find himself jealous of their long hair and the ornaments some girls would weave in. He was jealous of how they could make their eyes pop with just the right shade of this or that. He was jealous of their kimonos, skirts, and blouses that were so much more alive and imaginative than old jeans and a t-shirt. So why be jealous anymore? Ash returned home after his seemingly timeless quest, a tall, lithe young man of 17, yet still so much a boy, and announced to his mother his new identity. Thank goodness she loved him either way.

Teal wig it was, he decided. Ash's natural black hair, which he was letting grow a little too long, was all tucked up under a wig cap. He then set the teal number in place. Both pigtails had quite a bit of volume to them, each ending in a little ringlet, and the bangs swooshed to one side which he pinned into place with a little orange and white Goldeen hair clip. A parting gift from Misty. A powder the same color as the wig was applied to his eyes and a cotton candy flavored gloss was chosen over actual lipstick. Going all out on his transformation, Ash would be found padding a white bra. A subtle yet noticable B-cup was his choice. He threw on a pink tank with a white star on the front and a matching white, pleated mini-skirt. A little turn in front of the mirror confirmed Ash's satisfaction with his appearance today, so he went out to greet his mother. "Morning, mom!" the boy said cheerfully and kissed her on the cheek.

"Good morning," Delila greeted with her usual smile and uplifting voice. Though she was always taken by surprise every morning, she still greeted him like she always did. "What would you like for breakfast?" she asked as she tied back her long brown hair, prepared to cook. Beside her was Mr. Mime, already in a apron, and he excited waved a spoon and mirrored the question in his own way.

"Mime, mime?"

"Can I have some toast and scrambled eggs?" Ash asked in reply. He went to the back door and opened it so he could see out into the backyard. "Pikachu!" he called, knowing his Pokemon liked to run around in the dewy grass in the mornings. "Breakfast!"

"Pika!" The little yellow mouse came barrelling into the house, dodging through his trainer's legs and scampering into the kitchen. His other Pokemon who weren't staying at the professor's lab were also wandering the house, and started to make their way towards the kitchen as the smell of breakfast being prepared started to waft through the halls. Buizel had already lept up onto a chair and was quickly joined by Pikachu, and when Ash rejoined them inside as the food was being placed down on the table, Infernape had also taken a chair, opposite Gliscor. Staraptor had chosen to perch up on the counter to eat, while his large Torterra had to stick his head in through the window, too big to lumber through the house. Mr. Mime placed his food on the windowsill for him while Delila served Ash and the rest of his team at the table.

"You've really caught a lot of new Pokemon," she said proudly, laughing as she stopped Buizel's two tails from wagging into the butter tray. "Are the rest all at the professor's lab?"

Ash nodded as he spread peach jam on one of his toast slices. "Yeah, I'm thinking I should trade some out. It's been awhile and I want them all to have a fair share of time with me." He bit into the toast now and smiled at his mom. "Thanks for letting them hang out in the house."

"Of course. It's nice to have some company," she said, smiling as Pikachu and Buizel started to chow down on the toast while Infernape actually took to cutting his eggs, shaking his head a bit at them. "Even if you don't trade them out, I'm sure there's a way you can visit them. As long as you're home, you might as well... though I don't know if the professor is there right now."

"Well I kinda wanted to go into town anyway," Ash replied and lifted his empty wrist. "Bangles & Bobbles is having a sale and I want to get some more bracelets. Hey, mom, do you think I should get my ears pierced?" he asked, nibbling on a bite of eggs.

"Don't you have to be a certain age to do that? How old is it?" Delila asked as she finally fixed up her own plate and took a seat.

Ash pouted. "I'm pretty sure the age is 16. I'm totally old enough, mom. Wouldn't some Goldeen earrings look really cute to match my clip? Pleeeeease."

"If it's 16, then that's fine," she said, smiling slightly. "Just be careful. Make sure they clean their tools and all of that. I don't want you getting an infection."

"I will! Thanks, mom!" Ash gobbled down the rest of his food, a habit he would probably never lose, kissed his mom on the cheek again and ran out the back door. "C'mon, Pikachu!" he called as he headed towards main part of town.

Pallet Town had grown a bit since Ash had left on his adventure, but it was still very small in comparison to the larger cities he'd seen on his quest. Still, the town that used to be just a few homes and the Pokemon labratory now boasted a few more homes and a small shopping center, mostly for clothing and essentials that residents used to either have to order for from places like Celadon City, or make themselves, still evidenced by the vegetable garden that Ash's mother continued to maintain, even if there now was a food store. The slightly larger population made the place more of a mystery, the community wasn't quite as close-knit, and so no one gave who seemed to be a girl with a Pikachu a second glance. Well, almost no one. Gary Oak had returned from his journey a short while prior to his rival, who he didn't know was back. And even staring at him from across the shopping center didn't clue him in. His hands dug into the pockets of his black pants and he bit his lip with a bit of a frown, trying to figure out who exactly the girl was. After all, he usually knew everyone in town. "Breeeee?" Umbreon gazed up at his trainer. Much like Pikachu, the slick black Pokemon was rarely seen not by Gary's side. He was strong like a jackal, but swift like a cat, just as Gary had raised him to be. Jewel red eyes stared across the way at the girl in the shop. His yellow ringed tail swayed behind him. "Breo..."

Meanwhile, Ash felt a pair of eyes on him, and it was making him feel uneasy. When he looked up, he caught sight of his old foe across the street through the window. "Oh great," Ash sighed. "I was hoping I could avoid him for a little longer." Not wanting to draw attention to himself, the boy went back to looking at the bracelets and earrings on sale. "How about this one?" he asked of his Pokemon, holding up a yellow bracelet that was patterned with alternating red dots and brown stripes.

Pikachu put a paw up to his mouth and made a sound sort of like a giggle, nodding his head and his ears twitching. "Never seen her around," Gary remarked idly to his Umbreon, straightening himself up, clearing his throat, and pulling his smartly tailored dark purple shirt before he started to approach, waving for his Pokemon to follow him.

Umbreon padded along on silent feet, even weaving between his trainer's legs without causing a single disruption. Ash cast his brown eyes upward briefly only to see Gary coming closer. "Tch..." With Pikachu on his shoulder, it was easy enough to move to another part of the store, small as it was. Ash took to a corner where some summer scarves were hanging and began to look through them.

Unfortunately for Ash, it wasn't easy for someone with bright teal hair to hide. "Excuse me," Gary's hand very idly found his vacant shoulder, and ducked his head down to get his attention. "Sorry if this seems forward, but I don't think I've seen you around. Did you just move in to town?"

Ash pulled away from the touch hastily. "Real funny," he replied and went back to looking at the scarves.

Umbreon gazed up at Pikachu, his eyes unblinking, until they closed and he mewled out a, "Brrrrrreo," to the yellow mouse.

"I'm not trying to be funny," he responded with a frown, his hand sort of hovering awkwardly where Ash's shoulder used to be.

"Pika!" Pikachu answered, waving down at the dark Pokemon.

Umbreon moved closer, sniffed at Ash's white sneakers, and then started to rub against his legs. "Ummmmmbr... Ummmmbr... Ummbbbbr..."

Again Ash moved away. "Can you tell your Pokemon to not do that, please?" he asked with an annoyed sniff. Apparently, Umbreon figured things out far quicker than his trainer had.

"Umbreon," Gary said sternly, snapping his fingers to return the Pokemon to sitting at his side. Pikachu lept down from Ash's shoulder to start chattering with the other Pokemon. "My name's Gary," the boy said, trying to keep up the conversation, still quite oblivious even if his Umbreon had figured it out at once. Unfortunately his sense of smell didn't quite cut it for identifying people.

Umbreon looked between Ash and his trainer. Then he just shrugged his angled shoulders and slunk gracefully back to Gary's feet where he sat with a posture of over-indulged pride. Ash was looking at Gary now with one eyebrow raised upward. "Is that supposed to impress me?" he asked, hands on his hips.

"No..." Gary raised his own eyebrows, a little confused at the girl's hostility. "This is just the part where you tell me your name."

Ash blinked a few times, just staring at the other boy. "Wow..." he chuckled. Either he was really good at disguises, or Gary was more stupid than he remembered. "Yeah, okay. My name is Ashley, nice to meet you... Jerry, was it?"

"Gary," he corrected with a bit of a smirk. He might have seen through the disguise, if only he had seen it six or seven years ago. It had been too long since he saw Ash last for him to make the connection, even with the name he was given. He cast a glance at the scarves that he was standing in front of. "Were you looking to get one of these?"

Ash shrugged. "I was mostly browsing. I'm not sure how much of a scarf person I am. What I really came here for was to get my ears pierced. I figure it's about time, you know?"

Gary leaned against the wall, shrugging his shoulders. "You look good even without earrings. But I'm not really one to talk," he said with a small laugh, brushing back a lock of spiky brown hair to reveal a small stud in the lobe of one of his ears.

Ash tried to stifle a laugh behind his hand. "I never- ah... I never would have pegged you for the type," he said, catching his words. Then Ash smirked. "Of course, I also have to wonder if you got it on the left on purpose. In which case, I haven't the faintest idea as to why you're flirting with me."

Gary drew his eyebrows together with a frown. "I have no clue what you mean by that," he admitted, suddenly looking panicked. "Why, what's getting the left one peirced mean?"

The wigged boy suddenly felt extremely satisfied, but he disguised it with a casual shrug. "Only that you're gay."

Gary looked horrified for a moment, then confused. Then, he rolled back his shoulders and laughed slightly. "You're pulling my leg," he concluded.

"I'm serious," Ash replied. "The left ear means you're gay." The disguised boy laughed. "Have you been living under a rock or something?"

"No..." Gary crossed his arms with a frown. "I've been out training Pokemon. Guess it has the same effect."

"Training, huh?" Ash stuck one hand one his hip, which he popped to one side. Just to see what Gary would do. "Ever earn any badges?"

"Of course I have," Gary snorted, a proud smile suddenly coming to his face. "I got all of the badges from Kanto and Johto before I retired from training."

Ash nodded. "Not too bad. From what I hear, anyway. You know, most trainers are in their prime when they get to our age. Why retire?"

"I decided I wanted to be a researcher," Gary explained, shrugging his shoulders. "I could probably keep winning Gym battles if I wanted to, but it was getting repetitive anyway. There's a lot more to learn as a researcher."

"Makes sense," Ash agreed with another nod. "Training Pokemon is fun for a while, but then you realize you're actually meant for something else. Even when it's something you never expected to happen."

"Yeah, you can say that again," Gary agreed, leaning down a bit and petting back his Umbreon's ears. "Are you a trainer?"

Ash thought for a moment on how to answer that question. "Sort of," he finally decided to say. "I mean, I have Pokemon and raise them, but I'm not the kind that goes out to fight them."

"So they're more like pets, then?" Gary asked. "Mine are going to be sort of the same way now, too, I guess."

"Pets is a good term, yeah," he said with a smile. "Practically family."

"Yeah," Gary said with a nod, standing up straight. He looked at the boy he thought was a girl for a moment as his Pikachu lept up onto his shoulder. "Sorry if this seems forward, but... what're you doing tonight?"

Now that he was not expecting. Ash was left standing there with his mouth hanging open slightly, his tongue sort of slugging around inside. "A-Actually, I promised my mom I would help her with some stuff around the house, sorry." Ash just hoped the excuse was believable enough. A date with Gary was so totally beyond the bottom of his to-do list in life.

"What about tomorrow, then?" Gary insisted hopefully, seemingly completely undeterred by the excuse. After all, his pride didn't quite ever allow him to register anything as outright rejection.

Ash backed up a step. "I don't know... Nothing is set in stone, but... I mean you never know what might come up."

"Well, let me know. I'm sure you know where the Pokemon Lab is, right? Just come over sometime."

Brown eyes looked away, but the boy nodded. "Yeah, sure. I'll think about it." Deciding that he wanted the conversation to be over, Ash turned around and walked straight out of the store. So much for earrings or bracelets. When Ash got home, he immediately went in search of his mother. "Mom? Mom, are you home?"

"In the living room!" her voice called back. Pikachu hopped off of his boy's shoulder and dashed off into the house in search of the other Pokemon.

Ash found his mother on the couch reading a home and garden magazine. He stood awkwardly at the entrance of the room, hands fidgeting with the hem of his skirt. "Mom, do I still look like me?" he asked.

"Hm?" she looked up, and then looked him over. She frowned a very small frown and shook her head. "Not really, sweetie... The makeup and the hair really makes you look like someone totally different. I mean, I could tell, but I don't think anyone else knows it's you walking around town. Why?"

"I was at the jewelry store and Gary walked in. He thought I was new in town. Asked me my name and everything." Something between a pout and a scowl formed on Ash's face. "He even tried to ask me out. I really thought I still looked enough like me, you know... in the face."

"Well, how long has it been since he last saw you?" she asked calmly, making a motion for her son to sit next to her on the couch and closing her magazine. "After all, he came back to town and started to work at the lab a long while ago, while you were still adventuring. You've changed, and on top of that you're not acting like yourself or even using your regular hair color. I'm not surprised he doesn't recognize you."

"A few years," Ash admitted as he sat beside the woman. "It was kind of weird, though. Especially the way I felt about it."

"Well, how did you feel about it?" Delila asked, folding her hands in her lap after placing her magazine down on the coffee table.

"I don't like Gary," he began, making things clear. "As far as I know, Gary isn't too fond of me, either. I doubt he disliked me for my looks, so it must have been my personality. I still have that, so... Either he's gotten over it, or he just thought I was hot enough to approach and not give two flips about my personality. In which case I would be even more pissed."

"He's changed a lot too, you know," Delila said gently. "I've talked to him a few times around town and he acts very differently from when he left here all those years back."

Ash looked at his mother. "Did he ever ask you about me?"

"Sure, a few times," Delila said, nodding her head. "He'd ask where you were or what you were doing. Sometimes he'd tell me which Pokemon you'd sent back to the lab. Sometimes I'd go there and he'd show me what you were catching in Hoenn and Sinnoh. It was nice. It was like being able to keep up with you even when I couldn't call you because you were... climbing a mountain or travelling through a forest or something... Whatever reason you had for not calling. But he'd tell me when you sent a new Pokemon back to the lab and then would ask if I'd talk to you lately."

Now Ash was quiet. He never thought Gary would ask about him even once. Let alone the number of times his mom made it sound like. "Do you think I should go see him? You know... as Ash?"

"If you want to, Ash. It's up to you." She smiled gently. "Now that he's not a trainer, I don't think he thinks of you as a rival anymore."

The boy sighed. "I dunno... It was probably a stupid idea, but I was kinda thinking I could without seeing him again. Of course that's nearly impossible in a small place like Pallet."

"Come on, Ash," Delila pat his back slightly. "Why not give him a chance? You've both matured a lot since you saw each other last. I'll bet anything that whatever it was about him that you didn't like has probably vanished over the years."

"Maybe..." Ash looked down at his hands in his lap before one reached up to pull the wig off. "I'm gonna change and go play with my Pokemon. Let me know when you need help with dinner," he said a bit solemnly and then got up to go to his room.

For the next few days, Ash just rushed out the door as usual. Delila occasionally would ask if he'd gone to the lab yet, but his answer was always no. Though dissapointed, Delila knew she couldn't force him to try and make amends with his former rival. She just hoped, as she watched him run out the door with Pikachu on his shoulder, that this misunderstanding Gary seemed to have fostered wouldn't turn into a big deal. If Ash went into town, he never went as himself. Ashley might get hit on, but Ash would have been mocked. He much prefered the former. Besides, he figured he could avoid being noticed by Gary again as long as he kept changing wigs. The day after running into his old rival saw Ash just staying at home in a pair of old shorts and a red t-shirt, black, shaggy hair hanging down around his neck. Since then he'd been a redhead, aquamarine, blonde, and today was bubble gum pink. It was pulled back into a ponytail high on his head. Pink eye shadow and pink lip gloss to match, of course. Feeling sort of brash, he had on a black baby tee with a broken heart on the front and some skinny jeans with rips in the knee and thighs. "How about we go look for some new music, Pikachu?"

"Pika!" the Pokemon agreed enthusiastically. Unaware of the situation, he was always just happy to be with his trainer and to see Pallet Town again, in all of its newly expanded glory. Every day they'd pass the labratory on the way in to town, sitting up on that high hill as always, and Pikachu would tug on Ash's collar and point up at the place. "Chu?"

Ash shook his head, causing the end of the ponytail to brush against Pikachu's side. "No, we're not going up there today. Not until Professor Oak comes back."

"Chu..." Pikachu murmured, obviously dissapointed by how his ears drooped.

"I'm sorry, Pikachu," the boy said with a sigh. "I just can't face Gary right now. Please understand?"

"Pika." Though the little electric mouse still seemed sad, he gave a nod. Though as they started to walk closer to town, he looked from his trainer, back to the lab, and suddenly lept off of his shoulder, running up the long flight of stairs towards the place, panting, "Chu, chu, chu, chu..."

Ash gasped. "Pikachu!" He spun on his Vans clad heels and ran after his Pokemon. "Pikachu, come back!" Chasing after the little mouse made Ash realize that skinny jeans were not made for running in. Ash nearly caught the little Pokemon, but Pikachu jumped over his hands and sped up. Pikachu ran all the way up to the top of the hill, and, noticing that the door was open, scampered inside. "Pikachu! Pikachu, no!" Ash skidded to a stop outside the door. He didn't feel comfortable just barging in, but he had to get his Pokemon back. "Pikachu," he hissed and stuck his head inside. "Pikachu, get back here!"

When Ash stuck his head inside, a chorus of Pokemon voices suddenly started up. The lab was packed with Pokemon. A whole group of Eevee dashed up to the door and started to yip excitedly, their bushy tails waving from side to side. Whatever discreteness Ash was hoping for was shattered as the ruckus got the attention of the boy inside. Wearing a labcoat and sitting in an office chair, he swiveled around to reveal that yet another Eevee was curled up on his lap. His eyes went wide when he spied his visitor. "H-hey, you came!"

Brown eye had gone wide when he saw all the Eevee. All Ash could think was how Gary was like the crazy old cat lady of Pokemon. When he heard the other boy address him, Ash feigned innocence. "I'm sorry... Do I know you? My Pokemon just got away from me."

Gary laughed, as if his attempt at pretending to be someone else was a funny joke. "You mean him?" Gary motioned to Pikachu, who was playing around with Umbreon.

"Um, yeah, let me just grab him and I'll leave you alone." Ash jogged over to Pikachu and snatched him up. "Not cool," he whispered under his breath to the mouse.

"Hey, you're the girl I talked to a few days ago, right?" Gary called as he tried to get out of the lab, Eevees weaving across his path.

Ash glanced over his shoulder. "Oh, um, I don't think so." It was hard to think and talk and walk with so many Eevee running around him.

"Ashley, right? You just changed your hair color..." He frowned gently, scratching behind the ear of the Eevee in his lap. "You really don't want to talk to me, huh."

He stopped and sighed, slumping his shoulders slight.y. "It... It's complicated," Ash tried to admit.

"Complicated like how?" Gary asked. The Eevee lept off of his lap as he stood up and started to make his way towards Ash.

Ash shrugged. "I'm sort of... dealing with a whole bunch of stuff right now," he explained. "Personal stuff."

"Sorry to hear that." Pikachu was squirming in Ash's arms, trying to get down onto the floor. "Do you... have any Pokemon here?" Gary asked hesitantly.

That's right... Ash had wanted to get a few new Pokemon out, but he didn't bring any with him to trade. Without them, there probably wasn't much point. He shook his head. "No, the few Pokemon I have are at ho- Hey!" Ash yelped when Pikachu slipped from his grasp and ran across the lab floor.

Gary laughed as Pikachu rejoined Umbreon's side. "Pika pika!" he insisted, waving his little arms.

"It's okay, you know," Gary said with a laugh. "Even if you don't take your Pokemon with you, you can visit them out back. Pikachu probably wants to see them, judging by the way he's acting."

Ash chewed on his bottom lip nervously. "Out of all the trainers who send you their Pokemon, do you know which ones belong to which trainers?" he asked, knowing that might be his undoing.

"My grandfather probably does, but I only know the ones that I've recieved recently. There's a system in place that pretty much automatically returns Pokemon to their Pokeballs from outside and sends them to their trainers now, so I don't really need to keep track."

Ash nodded. "That's cool. Um, I guess I will see them. Pikachu is being really insistent. Which way do I go?" he asked, again trying to act like he was totally new to the place.

Gary waved his hand to lead the boy. Umbreon and Pikachu followed at his feet as he went towards the back door. It opened right up into a huge corrall where many Pokemon were being allowed to roam. As soon as they emerged, a huge Arcanine bounded up to greet Gary. He pet the Pokemon's nose before looking over at Ash. "See anyone you know?"

"Bulbasaur!" Before Ash could even answer, the little Grass Pokemon had found him first and was rushing towards him, nostrils flaring as he recognized his trainer's scent and lept into his arms, even with his changed appearence.

The disguised boy gasped, but he still managed to catch his Pokemon. There was fondness in his eyes and nostalgia on his face as he rubbed the seedling's head. "Hey buddy, it's been a long time," Ash said softly. "I missed you."

"Saur..." Bulbasaur rubbed his head against his trainer's hand.

"Pika!" Pikachu rushed off into the crowd towards another group of Pokemon he recognized.

"I'll leave you alone if you want," Gary offered quietly.

"If you don't mind," Ash said. "Just for a few minutes. I... We've been through a lot."

"Yeah, I know. I've seen this plenty of times." He seemed to force up a smile as he waved to his Arcanine, sending it bounding back towards the gated edge of the ranch-like backyard. "Take all the time you want." He motioned for Umbreon to follow him before heading back inside.

"Thanks." Ash turned back to Bulbasaur, one of his oldest friends. "You all don't judge me," he said thankfully.

Umbreon padded after his trainer, watching the supposed girl over its shoulder before going inside and having the door closed. Jewel red eyes then looked up at his trainer. "Brrreo..."

Gary had held the door open to let all of the Eevee back outside, until it was just him and his Umbreon in the lab. He flopped down on his chair, sighing quietly. "I don't get it, Umbreon," he said, shaking his head and putting a hand on top of Umbreon's.

"Ummmb?" The black Pokemon seemed to ask for some expansion on the statement. He sat regally in Gary's lap, back straight, paws together, head high. "Breon..."

"Can't seem to get a date ever since I stopped being a trainer," he murmured, petting down the Pokemon's back. "No one's interested in researchers. Must've been how gramps felt."

Umbreon shook his head. "Umbrrreon," he replied, insisting that was nonsense. "Breo. Breon. Umbreon." The feline-like Pokemon arched its back slightly and begn to purr.

"It's true, though," Gary responded, leaning back in the chair as he scratched at the Pokemon's spine. "I mean, ever since me and the cheerleaders parted ways, you'd think I'd seem more available. But no one cares when you're not a trainer anymore. Sure, some girls are impressed by seeing you, but once I tell them I stopped battling and getting badges to do research..."

Again Umbreon shook his head. "Umbreon," he said decidedly, saying 'not this one.'

"She's the same," Gary huffed, putting his hands behind his head. "You saw her, she tried to pretend she wasn't herself to get out of talking to me."

"Brreeeeo," Umbreon mewed and laid his tail on top of his own head. "Umb! Umbre. Eon. Eon!"

Gary didn't understand. "What are you doing?" he asked, frowning. Umbreon sighed. Why couldn't humans bother to learn their language? The sleek Pokemon hopped down and scampered over to Professor Oak's desk. There he picked a small photo frame up in his mouth and came back. Umbreon presented the photo of the elder Oak with one of his prized trainers. Ash Ketchum. Gary took the photo from his Pokemon, looking at it for a moment. Unfortunately, it just didn't seem to click. It was an old photograph, after all. The boy's face had changed so much that it didn't jog anything. "Wonder what he's doing," he murmured, propping the frame up on his desk. "I'll bet you anything that he's got a different girl following him everywhere he goes."

"Umbreon!" the Pokemon exclaimed and laid his tail on top of his head again, making it look like a bushel of thick fur was growing there.

Gary looked at his Pokemon, but just raised a brow. "Sorry Umbreon. I just really don't get what you're getting at."

Umbreon jumped onto the desk. He stood on one side of the photo in an attack stance and yipped a few times. He then stood on the other side of the photo where he did his tail again and swayed his hips. "Breon! Breee!"

Gary stared for a moment, before picking up the picture. He narrowed his eyes, but then just slumped back in the chair again. "Why don't you go play outside, Umbreon."

Jewel red eyes rolled dramatically. Umbreon leaped down from the desk and dashed out through his little door to the back pasture. Only a few minutes passed before it sounded like someone shouted angrily from outside and Umbreon came running back inside with the pink wig clenched in his little mouth. He jumped into Gary's lap. "Umb! Umb! Umb!"

"What's that?" Gary took the wig from Umbreon, raising his eyebrow as he turned it over in his hands. "Huh... guess she didn't dye it."

Suddenly, an arm shot through the little door, flailing and reaching for the Pokemon that had taken his wig. "Get back here! You give that back right now!" Ash shouted, his tone bordering rage and panic. "I'm gonna shave all your fur off and make a new wig out of it!"

Gary's eyebrows rose, and he went over to the door, holding the wig in his hand. He had the choice of opening the door or just handing the wig back. He bit his lip, but decided it was best to just give it back to the flailing hand. "Relax, here... Sorry about that." The hand froze, fingers curling and almost drawing back completely. On the other side, Ash was biting his lip, panic fully taking over any anger he might have been feeling a second ago. Of course he had to get his wig back, so he took it carefully into his hand and drew it back through the little door. When he looked at it, he sighed. It was all messed up now. "Sorry," Gary repeated, as he leaned back against his side of the doorframe. "He's not usually misbehaved like that... I don't know what came over him."

Ash was running his fingers through the pink hair, trying to make it look decent. He couldn't imagine what Gary was thinking right now. "Yeah, well... I guess it's okay."

Umbreon was at his trainer's feet, tugging on Gary's pant leg with his tiny teeth. "Mmmmb. Mmmmmmb!"

"Umbreon, what's come over you?" Gary murmured, trying to shake his leg enough to get his pant leg out of the Pokemon's mouth. "C'mon, let go, Umbreon!"

Umbreon released the fabric only to slink out the little door and yip at Ash. "Umb! Umb! Umb! Umbreon!"

Ash scowled at the black Pokemon and clenched the wig in his fists. "Your Pokemon's as stubborn and arrogant as you are!" he shouted. "I knew nothing had changed about you!" Ash picked up his Pikachu, keeping a firm hold on the mouse, and stormed off. He jumped over the fence of the corral and made his way down the hill and toward his house.

Gary rushed outside just in time to see a flash of pink and yellow escaping into the town below. "Wait!" he called, but to no avail. He sighed, slumping against the top of the fence. "Great..."

Ash was breathing heavily when he made it home, sweat dripping down the side of his face. "Why did you do that, Pikachu?" he asked, sounding upset, maybe even angry. "I told you I didn't want to go up there!"

"Chu..." Pikachu's ears drooped and he let out a tiny sigh. He seemed disapointed by the way everything had played out.

Ash shook his head. "I don't want Gary to know that I'm back! I don't want anything to do with him, understand?"

"Pika, pika!" Pikachu seemed to insist, waving his stubby arms. He seems so frustrated with the two trainers.

"No! Just drop it!" Ash set Pikachu down on the floor and went to his room. He slammed the door shut, even thought the little yellow mouse had chased after him, causing the door to smack Pikachu in the nose. "Nobody understands..." Ash sighed as he fell on the bed.

"Chu..." Pikachu whined, rubbing his nose. He bumped his head against the door for a few minutes, and even contemplated trying to leap for the doorknob. But, eventually deciding to leave his trainer alone, he curled up outside the door and rested his chin on his lightningbolt-shaped tail.

Umbreon jumped on top of the fence beside his trainer's head and sighed. "Breon..." Red eyes looked at Gary and then back in the direction Ash had run. "Bre," he chirped and nodded his head to go after them.

"I think we did enough damage for today," Gary said with a frown. He flipped himself up to sit on top of the fence, looking down at the town. "Besides, wouldn't following her home seem sort of... stalker-ish?"

"Ummmb..." Umbreon laid his head down in his trainer's lap. Much like Pikachu, he'd been hoping things would have gone much smoother. "Umbreon," he said, casting jewel colored eyes up at his boy.

Gary ran his hand down the Pokemon's neck and back. "Thanks for trying," he said quietly. "But this is probably gonna turn out like it always does... and I'm not keen on making it worse."

Umbreon sat up again. "Breon!" He jumped down and ran back into the lab. When it seemed like Gary wasn't going to follow, he stuck his head out the little door. "Breon!"

Gary sighed and flipped himself back over the fence. He dodged through the Pokemon running around in the corrall to join his Pokemon inside the lab. "What is it, Umbreon?"

"Bre." The black feline used one paw to type on the computer, having learned from watching his trainer for so many years. Eventually he brought up a website for reasonably priced fun jewelry. Umbreon looked up at his boy and smiled. "Umbreeeon!"

Gary spun into his office chair to look up at the website. "Hm..." He scooted in to the keyboard and started to click around the website. "You may save my tail yet, Umbreon," he laughed. Umbreon beamed proudly. He would give a little mewl each time he saw something he thought looked nice.

"It'll take a few days to get here..." Gary murmured after making his selections. He leaned back in his chair, nodding his head contentedly. "But hopefully that'll give her enough time to calm down."