Greetings. This is CF, and I'll be your host for this fanfiction.

Summary: Starring our favorite Charizard, he finally tells of his life from cute, little Charmander to huge, fire-breathing powerhouse. What was his life like with Damian? What happened after he evolved? What was his lifelong goal and how does it tie in to his history?

Disclaimer: The characters and episodes referenced here belong to Nintendo, Warner Bros., 4kids, Viz Media, Cartoon Network, PokemonUSA, or whoever owns them now. The only thing I own is combining them to make this story.

A Charizard's Tale

Night had fallen on the Charicific Valley. Many of the Charizard had already fallen asleep, while others were involved in a little midnight training. One Charizard, however, was sitting in front of a fire he made, just so he could think and reflect on his progress.

"Hey, want something to eat?" he heard. Whoever said it did so in his own tongue. He turned to find Charla holding two fruits in her claws.

"No, I'm good," he responded.

"Right," Charla said sarcastically. "Come on, you'll need to keep your strength up, especially around here." Charizard thought for a moment before resignedly holding his hand up. Charla smiled as she handed one of the fruits to him.

As Charizard ate, Charla sat next to him. "Another rough day of training, huh?"

He swallowed before saying in a low voice, "It's all worth it."

Charla chuckled and said, "You're not the first one to say that." A moment of silence between the two passed. "You know, you amaze me," Charla said, breaking the silence.

Charizard looked up at her. "Is that a compliment, or an insult?"

Charla chuckled again before responding. "I've seen a lot of Charizard come here, but you're the only one so far that still has a trainer."

"What about you?" Charizard asked. "You're Liza's Pokémon, and I know you can pack a mean tail."

"Maybe," she answered, "but my job is just to help Liza protect the valley. And it's only natural I get stronger, having to live here."

"Makes sense."

"But you've wanted to get more powerful before you even came here. And, for the life of me, I still can't figure out why."

Charizard lowered his head. "Actually, I've wanted to get stronger ever since I was a Charmander."

"Really?" Charla asked. "If it's been that long, there must be a good story behind it."

"There is," he said. "I was born and raised to be a starter Pokémon, given away to new, budding, young trainers. My trainer was some boy named Damian. He was one of those trainers who considered Pokémon to be tools for battle; the more powerful Pokémon you can get, the better off you'll be in battle. Where I come from, Charmander are supposed to be the strongest of the starter choices, so that's why he picked me."

"But I've also heard it takes real patience to raise a Charmander," Charla pointed out.

"Then it was no wonder things didn't work out between me and him. There aren't any battles to my memory that I actually won. And because Damian didn't even like raising his Pokémon, and actually training them, I never got better. That's when he finally decided to release me. But, being as young as I was, I didn't understand that, so even after I left my Poké Ball for the last time, I still followed him. At first he tried taking all these complicated twist and turns. Then he led me into areas with all sorts of obstacles. But no matter what he did, I was always right behind him.

"Finally, he convinced me that he had to do something and that I couldn't come with him. He told me to climb onto a large rock nearby and wait until he came back. I must have waited for hours, because the flame on my tail was beginning to grow dim. But because I was still loyal to Damian, I figured he would come back in time.

"Then I met Ash and his friends. Ash was a new trainer at the time, as well, and apparently wanted a Charmander for his starter but never got one. When he tried to catch me, my loyalty to Damian still clouded my judgment and I repelled all his Poké Balls. When they finally got the message that I was waiting for someone, they all left. That's when I noticed the storm clouds.

"It was probably the only time I left the rock; it was only for a few seconds to find a leaf large enough to protect me from the rain. I sat there for a few more hours, holding tightly to my leaf. The flame started dying down further. Still, I figured that Damian was just moments away from returning for me. After all, no trainer would leave a Pokémon weakened by rain out in it for very long. Suddenly, I was attacked by a flock of Spearow; they surrounded me and started clawing me with their talons. All I can remember at that point was calling out to Damian for help before someone threw something at the Spearow. At first I thought it was Damian, but then I heard Ash's voice, telling his Pikachu to use Thundershock. Then, everything went black.

"When I woke up, I found myself in a Pokémon Center, in some sort of heating unit. It was warm enough to relight my tail to its original state. It was still the middle of the night. When the Nurse Joy there saw that I was awake and at full strength, she moved me to a standard hospital bed so I could get more comfortable. I tried to recall what had happened and remembered that Ash had saved me from the Spearow. Then I remembered I was supposed to be at the rock for Damian. Still, I needed the rest, so I figured I'd just wait for morning.

"Just before the sun rose, I went up to the window and pushed it open. I jumped out of the Center and walked back to the rock."

"But why would you go back?" Charla asked. "Surely you must have realized that Ash was a much better trainer then that creep."

"Don't think I didn't," Charizard answered. "And don't call me Shirley." Charla just gave him a disapproving stare. "Yeah, I didn't think that would work. Anyway, I knew that Ash had saved me, but I was still loyal to Damian. But on my walk, I had a lot to think about. I realized that if Damian didn't want me to come with him, he could have just left me at a day care or even the lab where he first got me. But Ash was willing to risk himself against angry Spearow and harsh weather, just to make sure I was okay. Then I recalled a conversation that Ash had with Joy when I was still in critical care. Ash said that Damian had abandoned me for being weak. Then I heard Joy say something about Damian having already left.

"I decided to follow Ash, since I saw him and his friends leaving the Center as well. I didn't know what I was going to do, though; most likely, I was going to see if they knew where Damian was. As I was running toward them, I heard a commotion of some kind. When I caught up with them I saw two people in white uniforms and Meowth that could speak human, who I would later call Team Rocket. The one named James had Pikachu in some sort of rubber bag. When I faced them, I told them to let Pikachu go, but they refused. That's when I really got mad: trainers abandoning their 'weak' Pokémon, creeps stealing other people's Pokémon, I just couldn't take it. I unleashed my fury in my most powerful Flamethrower attack yet. James dropped the bag and they all ran off.

"After Ash and his friends got out of the hole Team Rocket dug, he offered me a spot on his team. I don't know what I would've answered, because I heard Damian behind me. He said he'd been looking for me. I was actually both happy and afraid at the same time; happy I'd found my trainer at last, afraid of his treatment if I went back. Ash confronted Damian about how he abandoned me. I almost expected Damian to come up with an excuse as to why he did it, but he just bragged about it, saying it was a good thing, especially since I got stronger. He even recalled how they all told him to reclaim me and how he wasn't going to do it, at least not until he saw what I had done. With each word Damian said, I began to feel more and more down. Finally, he tried throwing my Poké Ball at me. Realizing what awaited me, I finally turned on my 'trainer' by throwing the Poké Ball back in his face."

"Ouch," Charla exclaimed. "And he just let you go?"

"Well, actually he was going to 'crush me with every Pokémon he had,' his words, but I poured out another fury-filled Flamethrower, combined with Pikachu's Thundershock. He ran like a baby after that. I'd been with Ash ever since."

"So, your desire to become stronger came from a neglectful trainer?" Charla surmised.

"Sort of," Charizard answered, "but I didn't put much seriousness into it until I evolved into Charmeleon. In the moments before, some amateur magician hoping to make the big time had Ash catch a whole herd of Exxegutor. His plan was to use their Hypnosis attack to make everyone come to his show, which, by itself, wasn't much to attend. But after they all used Hypnosis in self-defense, they accidentally hit each other with their attacks and went on a stampede. Seeing as my Flamethrower was the only thing that could snap them out of Hypnosis, I tried spraying my flames as effectively as I could. But it wasn't enough; I wouldn't have lasted much longer if I didn't have help. That's when the magician came up, wanting to undo his damage. Using a trick he called Raging Fire, we combined our attacks so that it spread across the entire herd. Tackling that many Pokémon must have given me the experience I needed, because I started to feel the strange sensation of evolution. As I stood there, I felt myself gain more power than I ever had before. I realized I had great potential, enough to make even Damian see that I was no longer that weak Charmander he abandoned.

"But if you ask me, now that I look on it, I think I was more naïve in those days then I was with Damian. My power wasn't the only thing that grew when I evolved, but so did my ego. All I wanted from then on was to get stronger, so when Ash sent me out for my first battle as a Charmeleon, I was disgusted. You see, he was helping a trainer's Paras to evolve into Parasect, so she could use the mushroom to create some miracle medicine. But as I said, all I cared about was getting stronger. So when I was told to go easy, I was going to do anything but. I don't think I need to tell you how the battle went. The idea of me losing wasn't what I called a 'desirable' option.

"Since then, my relationship with Ash took a nosedive. After an incident in Kanto's Grandpa Canyon involving revived extinct Pokémon, Ash sent me out to do battle with them, but I figured they weren't worth my time. Battling them wouldn't have helped me get stronger. That was before Aerodactyl appeared. He was the ultimate opponent; strong, swift, not to mention he hurt me as he flew by. Even after he kidnapped Ash, most likely as a dinner entrée, all I could think about was fighting with him. I challenged him to a battle, but all he did was insult me. In my anger, I felt myself evolving again. Once I realized I had wings, I flew up to meet with Aerodactyl, but he flew off, carrying Ash with him. I chased after him, trying to blast him with my Flamethrower.

"The worst part of the whole thing, though, was that I never got to finish him off. Brock and Misty found a Jigglypuff that used its Sing attack to put Aerodactyl to sleep. The only problem was that it worked too well; everyone in the area was getting drowsy. Aerodactyl finally let go of Ash. I managed to catch him just before we both fell asleep. I kept trying to kid myself that I did it because without a trainer, I wouldn't get any stronger, but when I think about it, there might have been some altruistic reasons for saving him. But any feelings like that were pretty small; I still had little sympathy for the guy."

"That's odd," Charla said. "When we met, you two seemed like good friends."

"If you had met me a few months prior, you wouldn't have thought so. Ash only ever sent me out whenever he was desperate, and he would have to be pretty desperate. The only reason I ever obeyed was because I thought it would be in my best interests: powerful opponents, getting in my way, sometimes to settle even the most trivial squabbles. But during our adventures in the Orange Islands, Ash met up with a trainer named Tad who challenged him to a battle. Tad's Pokémon was a Poliwrath. It was apparently very good, because he had a championship belt to prove it. I just jumped out of my Poké Ball and it was pretty obvious who was going to battle this one. I wasn't going to let this chance pass me by: a powerful opponent who just happened to be a type that would be effective against someone like me. It was the perfect opportunity to get stronger. For Ash, the battle didn't go so well. He knew my Fire attacks would do zilch, but it was the only kind of attack I'd use. Needless to say, the battle didn't go so well. One Ice Beam from Poliwrath and I was out cold." Charla gave him another look. "Okay, but it was better than the 'Shirley' joke.

"Anyway, I was completely frozen; only my tail was left untouched. Even after Ash broke me out, I was still pretty cold. I think it might have been hypothermia. Ash stayed with me the whole night rubbing his hands against my body, trying to warm me up. And every time I regained consciousness, I found a few fires surrounding me. I started seeing Ash in a new light, well, sort of. I recalled back to when I was a Charmander, and what he did for me when we first met. This was almost no different: he was likely hurting himself, he wasn't tiring, all just to make sure I was okay. And he didn't expect me to make a complete turnaround, either; in fact, he almost welcomed it.

"I started to look at myself. Ever since I had evolved into Charmeleon, I had tried to get stronger using my own devices, but I noticed that it never helped. I hadn't won any battles as a Charmeleon, all I did was sleep whenever the opponent never interested me, and my motivation was terrible. I should have been much stronger than I was at that point. I finally figured it out. If I was really going to get stronger, I needed to team up with Ash instead of fighting him.

"The idea worked. After I was warmed up, Ash challenged Tad to a rematch. This time, we were unstoppable. We've been that way from that day forth."

"Wow," Charla said, "that's quite a story."

"That's one way of putting it," Charizard replied. "Now, I don't get stronger simply because it's what I want, but I do it because I want to give Ash one of the best Pokémon he's ever had."