Disclaimer – I don't own Pokémon, obviously.
Author's Note - I am back! This story/drabble/thing is just a catharsis of emotion for me, really. I know I haven't written Pokémon in ages, but I HAD to get this out… please review if you like it! =)
This is my response to the release of the new 'Best Wishes' series in the Pokémon anime. This is what I think the first – or second, or third, or whatever – episode should be!
A trio of friends, two boys and a girl, lay among the dew-studded blades of grass, the silvery sheen of the moon illuminating their makeshift campsite
The soft chirping of bug Pokémon was the only sound that permeated the silence.
The silence was creepy, and the brown-eyed, black-haired Pokémon trainer didn't like it one bit.
Misty would have been screeching about the bugs, surely, he thought with a slight smirk.
Iris, however, was a wild girl, and was accustomed to living in forests. The puffy-haired girl didn't seem to mind bugs at all. She didn't seem to mind Ash either; they hadn't bickered even once.
Then again, Ash hadn't fried her bike.
Ash turned his head slightly, to his other new companion, Dent. Green-haired, rather feminine, but nice all the same. Ash liked Dent, he really did. He liked Iris as well. They were both nice, and they'd be loyal companions, he was sure.
Isshu was an exciting new region with exciting new Pokémon and exciting new gym badges and exciting new challenges – and damnit, he was going to explode!
"Pikapi?" the yellow rodent besides him stirred, sensing its master's distress.
Ash reached out, petting Pikachu's fur, pulling the Pokémon close to him. Pikachu had been the one stable factor throughout the journey, the never-ending journey of – how many years had it been? Eight? Nine? He'd lost count...
And how many years had it been since he'd – no, it was too painful thinking about things like that.
Ash knew that to fulfil his dream of becoming a Pokémon Master, he had to explore new regions, he had to catch new Pokémon. But he'd always valued friendship, or so he'd thought.
Dent wasn't Brock. Dent didn't cook delicious meals or fawn over pretty girls. Dent wasn't like an older brother to him, not yet.
Iris definitely wasn't Misty. May and Dawn hadn't been either.
Nothing was the same. He'd grown up. He'd caught new Pokémon.
But for some reason, Ash found himself missing Kanto sorely, missing the Caterpie-infested forests of Viridian, missing Cerulean City and its Seal-topped Gym, missing the sparkling waters of the Orange Islands...
His mind wandered, and for some reason, his heart ached, ached for Pokémon he'd left behind.
Butterfree had to go, obviously. He'd been in love.
But Pidgeot? He'd promised Pidgeot he'd come back for him. Surely that flock of Pidgey had evolved and could take care of itself now...
What about Bulbasaur? Did he really need to play 'ambassador' at Professor Oak's all day...
And Squirtle – Squirtle was more than just some fire-fighter...
And Charizard... his strongest Pokémon Charizard...
He remembered calling them back, a few years ago, in Hoenn. Just for a day or two. Their bond had been there, but it hadn't been the same.
It hadn't been the way it had been, when Charizard was a Charmander, and they'd been stuck in the snow, and his Pokémon had huddled around him to keep him warm, despite the frigid weather.
It hadn't been the way it had been back at Shamouti Island, when Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Charizard and Pikachu risked their lives fighting Articuno, Moltres and Zapdos, so Ash could have a better chance.
It wasn't the same anymore.
He'd caught new Pokémon... and it just wasn't the same.
Even Bayleef, Cyndaquil, his hyperactive Totodile... he hadn't seen them in what seemed like eons.
And Misty... he remembered bright eyes the color of the sea, usually flashing in annoyance at him, and fiery orange hair... a loud voice berating him about some idiocy, or screeching about his directional skills...
What was he doing here, in Isshu, without any of them?
What had he been doing the past – three – four – five years?
"Pikachu," Ash muttered suddenly.
"What's the limit for re-entering a league? Or is there any at all?"
"Thought as much..."
"Something wrong, Ash?" a female voice piped up beside him.
"... nothing. Nothing at all."
"Oh. Good night then!"
"So, I think this would be the fastest route to Shippou City," Dent was saying, as the three set off towards the city where Ash would win his second gym badge.
"Can't we just go through the forest?" Iris asked, "I know this area by heart, I have a short-cut that will save a couple hours..."
A smile lifted Ash's lips for the first time that morning, memories flashing through his mind.
"Ash Ketchum, we're lost again, because of your stupid short-cut!"
"How is this my fault?"
"You can't even find yourself in a mirror!"
"Well you break mirrors!"
"Argh! You big baby!"
None of that had happened in a while... Ash's body almost itched to go into his offensive 'fighting stance'. Maybe, he had just matured over the years...
Or maybe, Misty wasn't there any longer.
"Um – hey guys," Ash finally spoke, his voice cracking strangely.
"What's up Ash?" Dent asked.
"Do you – know where I can get a – ferry or something back to Kanto?"
"Kanto?" Iris seemed surprised, "Why? Don't you want the basic badge from Shippou City?"
No. I want the Cascade badge, from Cerulean city.
"I – um – there was an emergency – I have to head back home," Ash invented.
Pikachu's grip on his hat tightened, ever so slightly.
"Oh!" Iris cried, "I hope everything is alright!"
"Yeah, it is – don't worry," Ash assured her, "I just really need to get back..."
"The next city, Huin City has a ferry to Sinnoh," Dent said helpfully, "You can catch a connecting one to Kanto from there, maybe?"
"Yeah, I'll do that," Ash nodded fervently, "Thanks..."
He took a bus from Shippou to Huin – something he'd never done before. Then again, Isshu seemed much more developed and urbanized than Kanto.
"Well, that was sudden," Iris had said, "I thought we'd be journeying together for awhile you know!"
"Me too," Dent had added, "I guess we'll see you soon though, right? After your 'emergency' or whatever is solved?"
"I guess," Ash had lied.
His 'emergency' would take another – three – four years, maybe? He had no idea. He didn't even care.
He hadn't felt that bad leaving his new friends behind. He barely knew them, anyway.
And he'd left far more important people – and Pokémon – behind already.
He'd bought a ticket for the ferry into Huin, and was currently sitting at a phone booth in the Huin Pokémon center.
Heck, even the Nurse Joys looked different in Isshu. It was disconcerting... they were supposed to be the same everywhere!
Ash flipped through his pokénav, searching desperately for the number – he knew he had it stored somewhere...
Finally, he found it, and dialled the digits with trembling fingers.
Rrring. Rrring. Rrring.
Ash waited, heart pounding, as the dial tone echoed in his ears.
Please, please, please... don't let this be too late.
Finally, the monitor buzzed to life, and a female voice filled the phone.
Ash grinned, seeing the teal-haired, brown eyed policewoman.
"Officer Jenny! Hey! This is Ash Ketchum! Uh – could I ask you a favour, please?"
"Yo, Tracey! Long time, no see! Is Professor Oak here? I wanted to ask him about – one of my – Pokémon..."
"Hi – uh – Liza? Do you remember me? My name is Ash Ketchum... yeah, how are things at Charific Valley?"
The ferry ride to Sinnoh stretched on inexorably. Ash spend most of it, standing at the deck, his hands clutching the cold metal bars, as the wind whipped past his face.
Memories flooded his brains, memories which he'd kept locked away for all these years.
He'd been on ships before, many times... the S. S. Anne had probably been the most memorable.
Still, nothing was better than travelling with your best friends on the back of a Lapras...
What had he been thinking all these years?
The ferry ride from Sinnoh to Kanto was even worse.
Ash's heart pounded, and he knew Pikachu was feelings just as – nostalgic, scared, excited, apprehensive – as he was...
"Pikapi pikachu pika chu pika pikachupi," Pikachu reassured him, though the rodent's red cheeks were sparking.
"I hope so too, Pika-pal," Ash muttered.
Ash jumped off the ferry, Pikachu at his side, and breathed in the crisp, fresh Kanto air.
He was home, again.
"C'mon, Pikachu, we have to get to the lab!" Ash said excitedly.
"Ash! Honey, you're home already? But – I thought –"
"Don't worry, mum! I'm fine – is Professor Oak in?"
"Yes! But, Ash, sweetie – we just dropped you off to Isshu two weeks ago! Is something the matter?"
At this, Ash laughed, exhilaration bubbling within him, his brown eyes sparkling.
"No, ma!" he grinned broadly, "Nothing is the matter at all! Everything is as good as it can be..."
"Ash! I was expecting you – I have your pokéballs, but why did you come all the way here? I could have just transferred them to you, you know."
But Ash just grabbed the pokéballs, pressing the cold steel to his chest, his eyes stinging slightly.
"Thank you, Professor Oak!" he exclaimed breathlessly.
"Ash, what's going on? Shouldn't you be in Isshu right now?"
"Pika?" Pikachu asked curiously, poking at the balls clutched in Ash's hands.
Ash grinned at him.
"Not yet, Pikachu..." he said mischievously.
"Pikachu?" Pikachu demanded, obviously impatient.
"You'll see..." Ash said, winking.
"MOOOM!" Ash hollered, banging open the front door, "Mom, where are you?"
"Upstairs, dear?" Deliah called back, "Did you want something?"
Ash raced up the stairs, nearly toppling over Mr. Mime, skidding to a stop before his mother.
"Dear lord, Ash, what has gotten into you?" Deliah scolded, "First you randomly show up from Isshu without even informing us anything, not that I mind you visiting so often, darling, and then Professor Oak said you asked him something about the Indigo League and-"
"Mom," Ash gasped, "Could you please tell me where you put my hat? The official League hat, the first one I wore?"
"Ash that tattered thing barely even fits you anymore!"
"Alright, alright! It's in the second shelf of your drawer, underneath your you-know-whats. But Ash, why-"
He had already sped off.
"This is more like it," Ash grinned at his reflection, his finger running over the green 'L' symbol on his rutty old hat. "Whaddya think, Pikachu?"
"Pika!" Pikachu said happily, giving him a thumbs up.
"Alright," Ash said, a determined glint in his eyes, as he rotated his hat until it was resting backwards on his messy black locks, "It's finally time to do this..."
"Pika," Pikachu nodded solemnly.
They were standing in the Ketchum backyard, the three pokéballs clutched in Ash's old, green fingerless-gloved hands.
Ash tossed up his pokéballs, with a heartfelt cry.
"Bulbasaur! Charizard! Squirtle! I CHOOSE YOU!"
One by one, there were three flashes of light, and three Pokémon emerged.
Confused red eyes. Spotted skin. A large bulb.
Sparkling brown eyes. Cheeky smile. Hard brown shell.
Narrow blue eyes. Snorting nostrils. A burning flame.
The Pokémon, his first Pokémon, observed him curiously, wondering why they'd all been summoned at once, wondering what they were doing back at Pallet Town.
"Hey guys," Ash croaked, "Feeling up to doing some more travelling with me again?"
He waited tremulously, for a moment, awaiting their response.
And then, they pounced on him, and leaves, squirts of water, and bursts of fire filled the air.
"G-great! Thanks a lot, guys!" Ash almost sobbed, hugging them to him, not caring if Bulbasaur's leaves had accidentally cut his face, or if Squirtle had nearly water-gunned his eye out, or if Charizard had singed half of his hair...
All that mattered, was that they were back.
Well – almost...
Ash stood at the edge of the forest, just outside Pallet town, and whistled, with all his might.
A few minutes passed, and nothing happened.
Ash whistled again.
"Pika?" Pikachu asked, looking worried.
"Don't worry," Ash said confidently, "He'll come. I know he will."
He tried again, and a few minutes later, the whooshing sound of wings filled the air.
A majestic brown bird with a red and yellow plume landed in front of the pair.
"Pikachu!" Pikachu greeted his old friend joyously.
"Pidgeot!" Ash cried happily, running forwards to bury his head in the soft, brown feathers, "I missed ya, old buddy!"
"Pidgeoooooot," Pidgeot trilled.
"D'you think – you think you'll be able to leave your flock for awhile, and travel with me?" Ash asked hopefully, after a few moments, "If they've evolved – and that Spearow isn't tormenting them any longer..."
In response, Pidgeot just took off and began soaring in circles above Ash's head, crowing wildly.
"Alright!" Ash punched his fist, before flashing a victory sign.
Pikachu mimicked his actions, little mouse-eyes shining.
"We can't possibly get Butterfree," Ash wandered aloud, as they trudged through Viridian Forest.
"Pi-kachu," Pikachu nodded.
"I could always take Lapras or Snorlax..." he mused, "But – hey – hey, look Pikachu!"
Ash pointed ahead excitedly, at the large green caterpillar that was surveying them with wide eyes.
"A CATERPIE!" he shouted, frightening the poor bug Pokémon in the process.
The bug twitched slightly, and began inching away.
"Oh, no you don't!" Ash yelled, his hands gripping an empty Pokéball.
He hurled it at the bug, with perfect aim after years of practice.
The Caterpie disappeared, and Ash was about to start celebrating gleefully, when after a flash of light, it broke free.
"HUH?" Ash burst out, shocked. "But it had worked – the first time!"
Pikachu was suddenly overcome by a fit of giggles, and Ash felt a wave of nostalgia as he recalled a very similar situation, Misty's exasperated voice ringing in his head.
"You don't get it do you? You don't just throw a Pokéball and capture a Pokémon! You have to make it battle, and weaken it first!"
"Hehehe," Ash scratched his head sheepishly, "I guess in my excitement, I forgot the basic rule of catching Pokémon, even after all these years! Hahaha... so – uh – Pikachu – a light thundershock, then?"
"Alriiiiight! I caught Caterpie!" Ash cheered, wishing Misty was with him to share his euphoria. "Agaaaain!"
She wasn't however, so this time, he caught Pikachu by the tail, and began running around with him in a circle.
Pikachu didn't seem to like this very much, and soon, Ash was lying on the ground, smoking from the after-effects of a thundershock.
"Hey Pikachu," Ash asked, fingering his Pokéball, "You think I should train Caterpie evolve, and fight Misty with a Butterfree? Then we can finish that battle off, the one from years ago..."
"Pikachu!" Pikachu nodded vehemently, "Pikachupi pika chu pika pika pikachu pika chu!"
"Or instead," Ash said, grinning evilly and disregarding Pikachu's advice, "We can just re-introduce her to Caterpie a second time..."
"Pikachu..." Pikachu moaned.
Misty, though she'd loved Butterfree, hadn't been too fond of Caterpie.
Then again, Ash had a propensity for frustrating her deliberately.
He had made it to Pewter City easily enough. After an hour of wandering around aimlessly, Pikachu had suggested they just ride on Charizard's back, and the journey had been much quicker.
"Squirtle! Use Hydro Pump!"
Ash grinned, loving the way those words felt coming from his lips.
It had been far too long...
"Pidgeot! Use Whirlwind! Now!"
"Charizard – use Flamethrower!"
"Pikachu! I choose you! Thundershock attack, now!"
Beating Forrest, Brock's younger brother who now ran the gym, wasn't much trouble either, and Ash soon found himself holding a familiar square shaped badge in his hands.
"Thanks Forrest," he beamed, "Say hi to Brock for me once he comes back from Celadon, and tell him to give me a call!"
Of course, Ash was pretty sure he'd find Brock first...
The next morning, courtesy of Charizard, they were in Cerulean, after having skipped Mount Moon entirely. Ash did want to revisit the mountain – just not alone.
His heart thumping like a galloping Rapidash, Ash raced in the direction of the Pokémon gym.
He didn't need to go to the Pokémon Center to heal his Pokémon; they were barely harmed. All the kids he'd battled had seemed awed by Charizard and Pidgeot, and even more stunned by Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Pikachu's high level. Since all three had refused to evolve, most trainers undermined their abilities greatly.
Caterpie, he had refused to use, not wanting to risk it evolving into Metapod – not before Misty had squealed and shrieked at the sight of a worm, no way...
But for Ash and his old Pokémon, the battles had been the easiest ever. But it didn't matter – Ash knew he'd get more challenges soon.
One redheaded gym leader in particular, was quite renowned in these areas, for her battling skills and ferocious Gyarados.
Apparently, Misty didn't give out badges that often, and most Rookie trainers skipped Cerulean, and only came back four or five badges later.
Or they skipped it entirely and chose one of the other, lesser-known gyms.
But Ash definitely was not skipping Cerulean gym.
"So they've renovated, huh?" Ash murmured aloud, noting the large Dewgong that sat atop the striped dome roof of the Cerulean Gym.
The last time he'd visited, it had been a Seal. Then again, he'd been there when Seal evolved.
That's when Misty had dressed up like a mermaid...
"You were really pretty amazing back there Misty!"
"Cut the sweet talk Ash! You still owe me a bike!"
Ash shook his head, clearing his thoughts.
She'd never really understood what he had meant, had she?
He fingered the little bundle in his pocket – a small lure, wrapped up in an old pink handkerchief – he'd kept it with him, all these years... but he'd never actually seen her, not since that time in Hoenn at the Togepi Festival...
His heart gave a funny leap at the thought.
I wonder how much you've changed, Misty...
"Hey! You look, like, kinda familiar..."
The girl surveyed him with narrow eyes, twirling a strand of bubblegum pink hair around a perfectly manicured finger. Ash vaguely remembered her as Lily, the youngest of Misty's three 'Sensational Sisters'.
"I want to battle for a Cascade Badge," Ash said, ignoring the question.
"Oh, like, okay! Follow me!" she chirped.
So that means you are capable of battling, huh? You don't really need Misty at the gym...
"Uh – actually – I was wondering if I could battle with – Misty?" Ash said.
"Misty?" the girl asked, turning around, hands on her hips, "Are you sure you, like, want to actually battle her? You're not one of those annoying boys just trying to like, date her again, are you? I told the last one, that Giorgio, that Misty's like, not interested!"
"What!" Ash yelped, blushing slightly at her insinuation.
Wait, guys have tried to date Misty? What the heck?
"I – I don't want to do anything like that!" he protested, "I want to battle her! Not – date her or anything like that!"
"Okay, I believe you, I believe you!" the girl said, waving her hands, "No need to get like, so defensive... come on, I'll show you to the battle arena..."
"It's fine, I know where it is."
"Huh? Like, how?"
Ash stepped into the familiar battle room, with its enormous swimming pool and stadium seating.
"Like, Misty!" Lily's voice echoed in the stadium, "There's someone here to ba-ttle you! And he's kinda cu-ute!"
"Shut up, Lily, you know I don't care for stuff like tha-ASH!" Misty gasped, staring straight at him, her green-blue eyes widening comically.
"Hey, Misty," Ash said, smiling weakly.
He wondered why his knees felt like jelly, and why his heart felt like there were Politoeds bouncing around inside it.
"PIKACHUPI!" Pikachu cried, overjoyed, and bounded into Misty's arms.
"PIKACHU!" Misty cried back, hugging the yellow rodent tightly.
Ash watched her, unable to tear his gaze away.
She'd grown out her hair – and she was wearing it down, in shiny, bright orange waves – though she was dressed in similar tomboyish clothes – a yellow tank-top and tiny denim shorts with frayed edges – and wow, he hadn't seen her in a long time...
"What are you doing here?" Misty asked, walking towards him, almost disbelievingly. "I haven't heard from you in ages!"
Ash gulped, wiping his hands against his jeans.
"I've come to challenge you for the Cascade Badge, Misty..."
"And I just wanted to meet up again-"
"I'm re-entering the Kanto League-"
"Huh? Your mom told me you were entering Isshu-"
"And after that, maybe re-visit Orange Islands, and then Johto, too-"
"And after all that is done, maybe then I'll go to Isshu-"
"And," Ash paused, taking a deep breath, "I was wondering if – after this match – you'd like to join me again as my travelling partner..."
Misty's mouth fell open, and she gaped at him dumbly for a few seconds.
"Come on Misty, you look like Psyduck with that expression," Ash joked lamely, crossing his fingers behind his back.
Misty continued to stare at him.
"I'm gonna ask Brock as well, soon as I find him. We haven't travelled together in – well, in years. And I really wanna do it again. It'll be awesome. We can call Tracey too! I've even gotten all my old Pokémon back – and we're all stronger now, and we know the way, so we won't have to worry so much about getting lost, though I bet we'll still have cool adventures – and even you can focus on catching more water Pokémon and becoming a Water Pokémon Master! Your sisters don't need you here anymore anyways..." he trailed off.
Misty was still staring at him, as if she'd been thunder-shocked by Pikachu.
"Of course, if you need some convincing," Ash teased, "I can always steal your bike again... it seemed to work pretty well the last time!"
That seemed to snap Misty back into her senses, and she glared at him for a moment, before speaking, her voice soft.
"Are you – really serious, Ash?" she asked softly.
He took a step towards her.
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"Well," Misty bit her lip, "I guess –"
"What's your answer?" Ash pressed. "Will you come with us, Misty?"
"Like, say yes already!" Lily interjected, "That was practically a marriage proposal!"
"AAARGH! NO WAY!" Ash and Misty yelped, falling over on the floor.
"LILY!" Misty fumed, "Take that back!"
"Like, no way, little sister. It's obvious you wanna go... you've been moping about how bored you're getting in the gym... I think it's like, a good idea you start travelling again! You really liked it the first time!"
"Come on Misty," Ash said again, "It'll be fun!"
"Pika pika, Pikachupi!" Pikachu entreated, hopping in her arms and gazing at her with large eyes.
"Well," Misty blushed slightly, before breaking out into a dazzling smile, "I would love to, Ash!"
Ash felt like he was erupting with joy, and burst out into a grin, making a move to hug her before holding back – that would make things rather awkward... not yet...
"Great," he beamed, and Misty smiled back.
"But, you have a Pokémon battle to finish with me first, I believe," she said challengingly, eyes shining, "Let's see how you've improved all these years you've been away, Mr. Pokémon Master..."
He'd missed that nickname, and that lovely sarcastic ring to it.
"Sure thing, Mist," he grinned at her, before pulling out his Pokéball, and chucking it right at Misty's feet.
"I choose you..."
There was a flash of red light, and a small Pokémon appeared at Misty's feet.
"AAAAAIIIIIIIEEEEEE!" Misty wailed, flailing wildly, "A CATERPIEEEEE! AAAAHHHH! GET IT AWAY! GET IT AWAY! ASH KETCHUM I AM GOING TO MURDER YOU!"
Ash grinned, enjoying the spectacle before him, as a wave of nostalgia washed over him.
Now that was more like it… thank Arceus – no, thank Mew – that he'd left Isshu.
A/N – DONE. HA. Lugia, that feels a-ma-zing! (Prepare for rant. HighQueen apologizes to all readers. Please scroll down and click review button and skip the entire thing if you wish =D)
So I was bugged when I found out about this whole "Best Wishes" season in Ishu, with Iris and Dent, these Brock-and-Misty-replacements. I have nothing against Iris. Nothing more than I had against Dawn or May. It's just that – what the hell! What is Pokémon coming to? I miss the old days, till Johto, and yes maybe that's just me being nostalgic, but still! For us people, Pokémon was something we grew up with! For girls, Misty was like this insane tomboyish role-model! Brock was that older brother we wished we had! Ash was a first crush – okay, um, maybe that was just me… but still! The new Pokémon and people are great, creative, they really are – but is it so bad that I miss the old ones terribly? And shouldn't Ash as well, the dimwit! I mean, doesn't he care about his old friends and the first and only love of his life? And even the legendaries… I mean, aren't they supposed to be rare? Shouldn't there be only a few of them… which is why they're legendary in the first place? What's the point of having so many? I loved the first 251 Pokémon with my heart and soul. I grew to accept and like the new ones as well, but they're nothing like the originals, at least in my opinion! And Misty NEVER needed to be replaced. Ash obviously agreed. I mean, his ACTUAL voice left with her. So technically, the real Ash left as well ;) At least that's how my deranged mind frames it!
Sorry for this rant, and please review, or flame me if you want (Squirtle will just douse 'em all with Hydro Pump! Or maybe Gyarados will!)…
On an ending note…
BRING BACK MISTY! BRING BACK THE KANTO STARTERS! THE INDIGO LEAGUE RULES!
If you wanna be the very best, like no one ever was, GO BACK TO THE ONES WHO HELPED YOU WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED!
Sorry for that =P I'm very emo about this, as you can see…