No matter the job, no matter the era, closing time never comes fast enough. It was nearly sundown before Tyrone could lock up his store and head to his weekly get-together with the guys. After placing the keys in his work jacket, the Typhlosion carefully adjusted a screw on his prosthetic arm and walked down the street, humming to himself while carrying a 6-pack of beer for his buddies.

Main Street in Viridian City was quiet tonight. Normally the series of shops and restaurants would be filled with Pokemon and humans, the streets crowded with market stalls and automatic dispensers. But tonight, there was almost no-one. Maybe it was because it was late, or maybe it was because winter was coming in and it was too cold to go outside. Cold never bothered Tyrone. Then again, he had a ready supply of flame to keep him warm.

Tyrone was in a good mood tonight. There'd been no irritating customers at the store that day, no thieves trying to make off with his wares, no anti-human protesters smashing in the windows, and no pro-human protesters smashing in the windows either. Maybe both camps had gotten the hint that he wouldn't change his store policies and had moved on. Or maybe it was just too cold for them to cause trouble. Tyrone was beginning to think he loved winter.

A few blocks down from his convenience store was a Pokemon-exclusive bar, and Tyrone wasn't at all surprised to see a teetering Spinda waddle up to him. "Heya Thopkeeper!" It slurred, the scent of fermented berries emanating from it's mouth. "Can I…uh…can I buy those beerth? I got loth of cointh left from our bar run and thtuff."

Tyrone shook his head. "Oh no. I think you've had enough to drink tonight, little guy."

The Spinda cocked his head. "How can you tell?" it asked, confused.

Tyrone couldn't help but chuckle. That was actually a good question. Spindas always tended to walk and speak like they were drunk, no matter how many drinks they'd had. Still, the overpowering smell of booze convinced Tyrone that he didn't need another beer. "Call it a gut feeling."

The Spinda tried to snap it's paws, failed, and nearly fell over. "Nuth. Oh well. It was a fun night anywayth. Now where'th Topper? He oughta be back by now…"

Tyrone blinked. "Topper?"

"Yeth, Topper! Top the Hitmontopper! Er…yeah. He thaw thome human girl hanging near the thtores over there and told me to wait for him, tho I waited."

Tyrone was suddenly concerned. This Spinda was the definition of a harmless drunk, but his friend was a different story. He was one of the anti-human protesters Tyrone had dealt with, and he was ugly when he was sober. After a few drinks… "Where did he go?"

Spinda sloppily pointed to a nearby alley. "That way. Do I get a drink fer telling you?"

But Tyrone had already ran down the alleyway.

"Aw, Nuth."

"Look, just leave me alone!" The girl with purple hair and thick black coat snapped at the Hitmontop swaying towards her menacingly, backing her up against the alley wall. Several packages were lying on the ground around her while she raised her fists defensively. "I haven't done anything to you, just let me go home!"

Topper just laughed. "Maybe not to me, but you were a trainer, weren't ya? I betcha you done plenty to whatever poor sap was stuck with you!" Topper tightened his fists, raising them threateningly. "And now here you are, walking as pretty as you please on Main Street. Well, we can't have that!"

The fighting Pokemon charged at the girl, hand raised in a mega punch. He tried to smash the girl's face in, but his aim was sloppy enough to hit the wall behind her instead. The girl would've chuckled, but the Hitmontop was quick to recover, bouncing onto his head and spinning his legs with blinding speed.

"Time for my double-triple combo, trainer! Try dodging this!" he boasted, charging towards her like a whirling tank.

She didn't have to dodge. Before Topper could get within striking distance, he was blasted down the alley by an incredibly powerful flamethrower that lit up the alleyway. The girl looked to see an intimidating Typhlosion standing at the entrance of the alley, his prosthetic arm glinting in the

The now very singed Hitmontop tried to pick himself up. "What the hell…It's YOU! That the best you got, you trainer loving shopkeeper? You've never taken me on before, what makes you think – "

"That's only cause I got flammables in the shop." Tyrone growled, the flames on his back blazing like the fires of hell. The way they lit up, he looked like a demon ready to wreak havoc on the unfortunate soul who had the misfortune to cross him. "You really wanna try your luck against me NOT holding back, Topper?" he growled.

Topper shivered with nervousness for a second before running down the alleyway. "Lay off, ya lug! I'm outta here."

Once the Hitmontop was gone, Tyrone muted his flames and stepped towards the girl. "You alright, miss?" he asked.

The girl chuckled sheepishly as she picked up the bags she had dropped. "Er…yeah. I could've handled a drunk like him." She tried to assert.

Tyrone just chuckled. "I'm sure you could've. But that double-triple kick would've taken your head off."

The girl shrugged with agreement. "I…guess so. Thank you." She tried to pick up three bags at once, only for the box she was already holding to fall out of her arms. She tried to reposition it on her shoulder, but then she dropped another purse on the ground. All she could do was laugh sheepishly before trying again.

Tyrone beat her, picking up one of the bags with his prothestic paw. "Here. Let me give you a hand."

The girl just chuckled. "Oh, thanks. My ride's not far off." With Tyrone picking up some of the larger packages, she was able to carry the rest of her stuff with some ease. The Pokemon and human were soon walking out of the alley.

"You really shouldn't be shopping alone." Tyrone warned. "Especially this late."

"I usually don't, but all my friends are sick tonight." She answered. "And I like shopping later in the day. Less Pokemon hanging around." She quickly turned to her helper. "Um…no offense, but a lot of them aren't happy to see me here."

"Why not?" Tyrone asked.

"Well…I guess a lot of them are like that Hitmontop back there. Still bitter about the training days." The girl sighed. "Were they really that bad?"

Tyrone shook his head. "Of course they weren't. Sure, there were plenty of jerk trainers, but they weren't everybody. Pokemon just like to insist that they were so they don't feel bad about the Revolution. I think a lot of that bitterness is just guilt trying to pretend it's not."

The girl smiled slightly. "That's pretty optimistic. How about you? What was your trainer like?"

Tyrone's eyes became faraway. "He was…good. Not amazing, but a real good kid. Made mistakes and had a lot to learn, sure. But he didn't deserve…" Tyrone stopped for a second and sighed, looking down at his replacement arm. "He was a good kid. Saved my life the day he caught me. Made me strong. That's all that matters now."

"I guess so…" She remarked, looking down at the prosthetic arm. "Hey…how'd you lose your paw?"

Tyrone sighed. "Day the revolution started, there was a riot at Oak's ranch. Revolutionaries grabbed Proffesor Oak before destroying the lab three times over. I was fighting for my life with my friends, and then suddenly my trainer and his buddies were…" Tyrone froze, his head turning to look the girl in the eye. "…right…in…the…middle…"

The girl's eyes had gone wide, and Tyrone could see their color. Greenish-blue…that hair looked like a wig, and there was something undeniably familiar about her face and voice…

"Misty?" he finally asked.

The girl gasped, then groaned. "Ugh…Jessie said that no Pokemon would see through this outfit." Misty then looked back up at Tyrone. "Wait…so you're…"

Tyrone smiled. "Yeah, it's me. Quilava!" The Typhlosion blinked. "…sorta. Heh. Sometimes I wish Ash was a little more clever with names than he was."

Misty was dumbstruck, but she still managed to chuckle. "Yeah, it was pretty confusing sometimes…wait, you survived that attack?!"

Tyrone nodded. "Barely. Once you were gone, the revolutionaries lost interest and left. The lab was destroyed and Ash was gone, there was no point in them sticking around to fight some 'loyalists'."

"So what did you do then?"

"What we had to do." Tyrone stated simply. "But once the fighting was over, I took a psychic job course and…"

"Psychic job course?" Misty asked, confused.

Tyrone blushed. "You don't know what a…oh yeah. Well, you ever wondered how the heck Pokemon could run businesses now when that was strictly a human thing before? Well, for a couple weeks there were psychic job courses where an Alakazam or a Beeheeyem or somesuch would transfer a human's knowledge and business skills to you."

Misty's face scrunched up. "Seems like cheating."

"Well…yeah, that's why they're gone now, but we kinda needed to back then. Pokemon HAD to be in charge of EVERYTHING or the revolutionaries wouldn't be happy, and we had to get the world moving back to something kinda normal kinda fast. The King himself got them set up. How do you think Kachu and Kat got to be so good at diplomacy and business so quickly?"

Misty scowled. "So you just…got on with your life after…"

Tyrone stuck his good paw out in front of Misty, stopping her in her tracks. "Stop right there." He said, his face serious. "I'm not going to be guilt-tripped for what happened. I'm sorry about what happened to Ash. I really am. Like I said, he was a good kid, and he didn't deserve what happened to him. But there wasn't anything I could do. I had my life and my friends to think about, both then and now. At some point, you just have to accept things and move on."

Tyrone groaned sadly. "Yeah. Sometimes I wonder if there was something I could've done to help him. But by the time I knew where he even was…he was beyond anybody's help. And you know it."

Misty's scowl faded and her head sank. "Yeah…yeah, I get it. I was with him the whole time, and I couldn't…I couldn't…"

She suddenly collapsed, her bags falling to the ground as she buried her head in her hands. Tyrone kneeled down beside her, placing his good paw on her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her. Misty only barely stopped herself from sobbing, and she struggled to catch her breath and keep calm.

Tyrone didn't speak, letting Misty regain control. Eventually she stood up, wiping her eyes. "I'm…I'm sorry. It's just…hard. I see him every day, and it's so hard to look at…"

"Then why stay there?" Tyrone asked sincerely. "I could use a hand at the store…or one of my friends would be happy to give you something. It won't be as fancy as Kachu's place, but…at least it wouldn't be the funeral that never ends."

Misty shook his head. "No…no. I appreciate it, really, but…I have to be there when he wakes up. When he's…himself again."

Tyrone sighed. "You really believe that will happen?"

"I have to." Misty admitted.

Tyrone just nodded. "Alright. But at least…think about it, okay? Here." Tyrone dug into his jacket pocket and pulled out a card. "If you need anything…just to sleep under another roof for a night…just call, okay?"

Misty managed to smile as she took the card. "I…I will. Thanks."

The two of them finally managed to pick up all their packages and continue walking to the parkade. The lot was in sight when Misty managed to speak again. "So…did a lot of you survive?"

"Not all of us, but…yeah." Tyrone nodded. "We've been keeping on. For everything we lost, there's good in this 'New Era'."

"Maybe." Misty acknowledged. "I guess I can't expect everybody to wallow in self-pity forever. How is…everybody?"

"Most everybody's doing okay." Tyrone answered. "Floatzel's a swimming instructor at the gym, Politoed is doing a stint as a part-time cheerleader, Pachirisu's trying to get a job at the power plant. Croagunk is…actually, I have no idea what he's doing, but he's alright, I guess. Then there's…heh, you remember Psyduck?"

Misty couldn't help but groan. "Yeah. Of course HE'D survive."

Tyrone chuckled. "Yeah. You'd be happy to know he's finally evolved. Still as dumb as rocks, though. Some things never change. He's…between jobs, let's say."

Misty chuckled. "Yeah…some things never change."

Tyrone nodded. "Hey…is that your car?"

Misty looked up to see a low-key blue car. "Oh…oh yeah, that's mine." Digging into her pockets, she unlocked the car doors and placed her bags inside. Tyrone did the same, placing her packages inside. "Thanks again." She remarked as she stepped into the car.

"No problem." Just before she closed the door, Tyrone's good paw held it open for a second. He looked Misty straight in the eye before speaking again. "And listen.

"If you're right…if Ash does wake up…could you tell him that none of regret meeting him. That we wouldn't trade our time with him for anything. Tell him that, Ok?"

Misty nodded, smiling. "I will. Thank you."

"If you need anything, don't hesitate to call." Tyrone smiled and closed the door. After he'd watched the car drive off, he picked up his 6-pack and quickly went on his way.

The door opened to a female Beartic. Once she saw Tyrone, she crossed her arms and gave him a look. "You're late." She stated.

Tyrone smiled and gave her a peck on the cheek. "Sorry. I took a little detour." The Typhlosion slipped past his girlfriend and walked into the basement of their modest house.

Sitting at a round green table with poker cards in their paws were a Pachirisu, Floatzel, Politoed, Croagunk and Golduck. They all had new names, but Typhlosion couldn't help but remember them by the names their trainers had once called them by. Croagunk was the first to speak up. "You're late, Tyson. We started without you."

Tyrone shrugged and placed the beers on the table. "Sorry about that. Can you deal me in?"

"You betcha, Ty!" Pachirisu chirped, handing him several cards. Politoed was the first to grab a beer rom Tyrone's 6-pack. He always brought the best beer.

"So what happen?" Golduck asked. "Why you late?"

Typhlosion sat down and sighed, smiling sadly. He glanced up at a framed photograph on the wall. Five young Pokemon trainers and all their Pokemon, standing together smiling. He was in the lower corner between Heracross and Crobat, two friends that hadn't survived the revolution.

And his trainer. His dumb, infuriating, stubborn, cheerful, wonderful trainer. Ash was smiling broadly, happy to just be surrounded by his friends, eyes bright with hopes and dreams. That was how Tyrone wanted to remember him.

"I ran into an old friend on the way."

Well, not as big an emotionally intense as last chapter, but I figured we could all use a break from that. Please read and review!