The final chapter of this short fic is finally here, just in time for Valentine's Day! Enjoy!

Part 4: Sadness and Separation

Streets of Alto Mare

Alone. Hungry. With no one to run to. Who'd listen to me anyways?

Misty walked down the streets of Alto Mare, feeling miserable deep down and lonely by herself. There was no way she'd be able to explain herself to Ash anyways, but to begin with, she didn't even have a present to give the man. I've traveled all over with him, helped him with battles, supporting him all the way, but yet he falls for a Pokémon! That doesn't make sense one bit! The kid didn't even come up and say happy Valentine's Day to me!

She approached the pier that overlooked towards the ocean, and she sighed upon seeing the calm sea before her. She just wanted to tell Ash how she really felt towards him after the race, but Latias just had to spoil it. Feeling totally sick, the gym leader didn't want to even go to the buffet to celebrate as she couldn't tell her feelings in front of everyone else, especially Brock. Holding the Diamond medallion in her hands, she sighed. I just want to go home now…

"Something troubling you?" A voice asked.

Misty turned around and noticed the familiar face of Latios. "Oh, what's up? I'm sure you understand how I really feel…" She tried not to cry.

"I know. But please, you must understand…" The Eon Pokémon tried his best to explain the situation, as it was quite difficult to come up with a reasonable explanation. "Latias never had actual friends, aside from me, Lorenzo and Bianca. It's hard to say. Really…if you really feel that way, you know, uh…"

"Love him?" She laughed. "If that's what you're thinking…not really. I'm just jealous but at the same time proud of him. He always gets the girls to adore him, and faster than a speeding hyper beam, he forgets about his closest friends. Maybe I should stop being such a self-centered girl that prevents others from getting a date and the attention they deserve." Rolling her eyes, Misty remembered all the times when she dragged Brock away from acquiring girlfriends. Maybe I was a bit too harsh…

So that explains why he drags Brock away… "Why did you skip out on the buffet then?" Latios asked.

"I felt like I needed some time alone. I hope you understand. After all, Ash, Brock and I are all going our separate ways after this. Better to depart without tears."

"Oh…that's unfortunate to hear."

While Brock was reunited with Ash during the conflict with Team Rocket and the UAAF, they didn't exactly get in touch with Misty. Considering the fact they were finally departing for real once again after their visit to Alto Mare, both boys decided to call their old friend back in order to spend some last precious moments together as old friends ever since they were 10 to 12 years old. However, it ended in a sour rivalry with another admirer for Ash, but in the end it all worked out.

"Tell me, Latios. Is your sister…does she truly feel that way for Ash?" Misty wanted to make sure to get the truth.

Clearing his throat, he sighed. "Yes. She truly does. Never leaves me alone at night ever since my return, and with Leon joining our team it doesn't help either. It was him who sent the request for your gang to come here." Remembering the sleepless nights where she heard her sister rejoice poems about the trainer or just cry her heart out from bad dreams that involved Ash in horrible accidents brought shivers down his spine. "I'll admit, whatever makes her happy…it makes me happy." Deep down in his heart, he always wanted Latias to see the world by herself. After all, he couldn't be the overprotective brother that always watched over her forever.

Misty, finally having been relieved to get this off her mind, got to her feet and decided to head back to the hotel for the night. "Thanks for the talk. It really helped."

"Oh, any time." Latios spoke in an apologetic tone.

Smiling slightly, she turned and headed back to the hotel. "Good night, Latios. Sleep well."

Latios eyed as she departed. Maybe she was right after all. In the end, he was just happy nothing really violent broke out. Misty is still young, and she's still looking for that special someone. I'm positive she'll find someone, but it looks like Ash won't be that person. He took off into the sky and flew over the city's buildings to rejoin his companions.

As his trainer had ditched the buffet, Blade decided to also. After all, he couldn't eat properly without the company of the one person whom he only trusted the most. It was also his moral obligation to protect his trainer under any circumstances, but in this case, he didn't want her to run loose in the city and get lost. Trying to reason with his trainer, he did his best to tell her the actual facts.

Raine, I know you didn't get your chance to tell him…but, you have to understand. The young man risked his life to save Latias. The same happened in reverse. Blade tried to get the story straight. Come on, you have to stop acting so angry and jealous, not to mention the world doesn't revolve around you.

"I'm not angry, Blade." His trainer replied as she leaned against the railing that overlooked the river. "I'm just sad. Why doesn't Ash give me any attention? I just want to spend time with him, but…"

"Perhaps you should think twice before you act, as actions speak louder than words."

Both Raine and Blade turned around and noticed the familiar face of the Ranger walking towards them with a slightly disappointed face. "Where were you guys? You know, the buffet was really good and such…"

Raine just lost her appetite and such, but you're here for what? The Scizor asked.

Joining the Pokémon and the red-haired trainer, he sighed, preparing to reveal the truth. "Listen, why would you think Ash would be uninterested in you? Have you ever stopped, thought twice a bit, and thought about why he avoids you to begin with, not to mention he barely talks to you?" He kicked his foot a bit, still unsure about his mind-reading powers. Invasion of privacy was never my thing, but when it's needed to solve a potential conflict, it's necessary.

"Not really." Raine replied sadly. "I just want to impress him with my company…pretty much."

Ash is like her biggest idol. She looks up to him with his accomplishments and feats. Blade continued her sentence. I hope you understand.

"I do. Clearly. But it's clear he has no interest in you. You scare him with your fanatical attitude towards him. Personally, I'd be afraid too if someone greeted me the same way you greet Ash." He turned towards the girl with a grin. "There's a border between idolizing someone and totally scaring them to the last drop of their life." He took a deep breath, taking in the fresh ocean air through his nostrils. "I suppose the latter fits your description."

"I…I guess I should be leaving." Saddened and disappointed, Raine turned to her Pokémon, nodded a bit, and both began their departure. "May we meet each other again, Ranger…"

"Wait! Where are you going!" He didn't hope to offend or discourage the trainer. After all, he wanted to come and speak some sense into her. "What about Ash? Don't you want to talk to him a bit?"

Ash will never view her the same way. I am positive he knows that she's affected by an incurable virus that keeps her young forever…and Ash is older now. Obviously. Even if they…uh…lived together for the rest of their lives, he will age and die while Raine here will never change. Blade spoke mentally. It is better off if we lead our own paths instead of toiling our past lives for someone she can never truly be together with.

Raine turned back with teary eyes and a smile. "If you ever see him…please tell him. I'm proud of him. I know Latias loves him, and I have nothing against that. Please tell him that. Also remember to remind him to never stop working hard. It's what motivates me to strive to be the very best that no one ever was." Reciting the famous quote that he heard from an interview of Ash during a news broadcast gave her the strength to fight. "Goodbye. You are a very good friend."

Farewell, my friend.

Leon witnessed the two disappear into the night, remembering the gift that he purchased earlier. Inside his pocket were the necklaces that contained a Latias and Latios crystal figurine attached to each of the charms. Perhaps I should've given her the gift in substitute…but I'd be lying. How would I be able to tell Ash that when both didn't truly mean to give the presents to each other and they didn't feel the same way about each other?

He felt guilty on the inside. But seeing Raine smile and understand helped ease the feeling. "Sometime, we'll meet again. Maybe in the future." He turned to walk away when he received a call on his styler. Picking up the message, he realized it was from Ranger HQ.

Well, there goes my vacation…

"I just have to…I'll have to tell her I really feel that way towards her." Ash whispered. His Pikachu nodded slightly, following with his plan. He looked at the shimmering water that sparkled in the moonlight. "But it's just too hard! I just can't walk up to her and say the words!"

"Pika." The mouse spoke sadly, not sure if he really understood. But he just wanted to play along so his trainer wouldn't be upset. "Come on, you can do it, Ash!"

"Tell her." A voice spoke behind them.

Ash turned around and found Latios floating there with an encouraging smile. "Wha-what! Did you hear me speaking to myself all this time!"

Latios nodded. "Even if you didn't, I can read every single one of your thoughts. But then, I knew from the beginning you felt that way ever since you first played with my sister in the garden. That was seven years ago."

Ash looked back at the times. It was just a surprise encounter by a stroke of luck. He had saved Latias from Annie and Oakley, and only minutes later he found himself playing with the Pokémon in the secret garden. When Latios mistook him to be a hostile outsider and attacked him without mercy, she defended the young man without hesitating, and it was the beginning of a new friendship. While he had left Alto Mare after that day, he promised he'd return someday to play with her. Reunified during the rebellion crisis, seeing Latias and her smiling face again was perhaps the happiest moment in his life aside from the feeling of being crowned the champion in an International Pokémon League Tournament. "Yes…such a long time."

"Well?" The male Eon dragon smiled. "It's about time you tell her. She knows already but sometimes you need to seal the confirmation. You promised her, remember?"

The trainer nodded with a face of determination. A promise was a promise. And today was the day, or night, that he'd live up to his word.

From far away, Leon observed the trainer and the Eon Pokémon head back to the garden. He'd be there to tell his part of the story too. "That's my man, Ash." He spoke to himself.

Later that Night…

Everyone pretty much went their separate ways that night after. While Misty, Brock, Erlade and Gallade returned to the hotel they had a reservation for from the cruise ship tickets they purchased to catch some sleep for the night (but not before the two boys spending a crazy night out with their two newfound love) while Ash and Pikachu decided to keep to their word. They'd spend the night with Latias.

Typhlosion and Jimmy both returned late to Bianca's house, as they weren't willing to leave the buffet without literally overstuffing themselves with food. With Bianca and her grandfather returning home early, the two headed back later, about an hour after. Both were asleep by the time the two returned home, trying not to wake anyone up by slowing opening the door and tiptoeing into the living room.

"Hey…about our present…" Jimmy reminded. "Should we give it to her right now?"

Krakatoa shook his head, remembering another childhood friend Jimmy had that passed away because of Project Alpha. "I don't know. But really, I just feel like a really good friend for Bianca, like I don't exactly have a crush on her or anything. I've been protecting her prior to your return." He remembered the times, as her Pokémon where he'd protect her from all types of harm, from minor infractions to full-blown out battles with corrupt agents. "I'd never have the guts to tell her how I really feel, even though it's a family thing."

"Jimmy?" A voice asked as the lights turned on. Both the trainer and Pokémon whirled their head around in surprise to see Bianca coming down the stairs.

"Oh, Bianca!" Jimmy asked, surprised. "What are you doing up so late? I mean, what brings you here! What I was meaning to say-"

She smiled. "No need for excuses. I know, Latias told me all about it. I understand your feelings towards me, and I realize you're still guilty the fact an old friend of yours passed away. But there's something else I have to give you."

Disappearing back to the second floor, Jimmy and his Pokémon looked at each other in confusion until she came back down the stairs with something in her hands. It was a scroll of some sort, presumably a piece of artwork that the aspiring young artist drew personally. She handed it to the two with a smile. "Open it. It's something you may love." She handed it to Jimmy.

The trainer opened up the paper, and inside was a hand-drawn group picture of Jimmy, Bianca and Krakatoa all huddled together in a group hug formation with bright smiles. "Oh wow…this is amazing. Thank you!"

It was at this time Krakatoa handed a small box that contained his gift to Bianca. "I want you to have this. Jimmy and I pitched in money to get you this earlier yesterday."

Opening up the container, she was amazed at the glass figurine of Typhlosion itself. "Thank you…I've been looking for this everywhere but couldn't seem to find it. How did you know I wanted this?"

The Volcano Pokémon smiled. "The times we spent together in Johto and later on, the battles we fought side by side. It's like a siblinghood that'll never be broken. Just like how Latias and Latios will forever live together, tied together in a bond that cannot be broken through any means." He tried not to cry.

Bianca held both boys together and gave them a hug. "You two are great friends. I just hope you'll stay with me." Releasing them after she felt them trying to break free of her grip, she noticed both guys were trying not to blush too hard. "Oh, is there something else you wanted to say?"

"No! Not really!" Jimmy nervously spoke. 'Look at the time, we should be going to sleep now!" Both he and his Pokémon quickly bolted upstairs back to their room, leaving her stunned and all warm and fuzzy on the inside. But she knew a very sad proposition was about to come true. Latias was going to leave Alto Mare with Ash, along with the Ranger himself. She'd have to give him one last item before he departed.

Alto Mare Secret Garden

Ash entered the garden with his Pikachu on his shoulder. It was totally quiet, with only the sounds of water gently flowing through the fountains, rivers and ponds accompanied by the occasional chirping of crickets in the background. Walking forward to the swing set, he noticed Latias sitting there in her human form as if she was expecting him to arrive. Upon seeing his face, the female Eon Pokémon wandered over to the trainer. "Hey, Latias?" Ash asked.

What is it? She cooed gently. She knew what the young man was going to say.

"I know I've sort of broken my promise multiple times and such…" Ash shuffled his feet nervously. "But I'm going to live up to my word. I know you've always wanted to travel with me, but…I never wanted to confine you to a Poke ball."

That's alright. She smiled. It worked when I was part of your team, at least temporarily, when we had to assist in dismantling Team Rocket and those nasty United Aerospace…whatever. Not remembering the name, she laughed nervously.

"There's something I have to say, though."

The trainer continued his speech, with his Pikachu hiding his giggles since he knew confessions were difficult for Ash.

Latios and Leon observed from up above in the sky while in their Pokémon forms. All they needed to do now was wait and hope he had the courage to tell her.

"Think he'll pull it off?" The Ranger asked. "He doesn't look too confident to me, but then, I wouldn't be either."

"Shhh!" Latios abruptly told him to be quiet, not hoping for their cover to be blown.

Down below, Ash began to blush brightly as he confirmed his words. "Latias, I wouldn't normally say this, but…I love you to the bottom of my heart for what you've done for me." Aside from his Bayleef and possibly Aipom prior to their departures, the female Eon Pokémon was the only non-human being that treated him like someone they would love to the end of their lives, and it was clear.

The next thing that happened was Latias hugging him tightly and swinging him around like crazy, forcing the trainer to suddenly feel sick. Oh! Sorry, I was just a little bit surprised. But really, I'm glad you feel that way! Why didn't you just tell me? I feel the same way for you too! Reverting to her dragon form, she nuzzled the trainer on the face affectionately. The feeling of her silky fur and feathers made Ash feel calm, peaceful, and secure in a state of mind.

"Uh…sorry…" Ash blushed heavily, his eyes wandering over to Pikachu. He was making a teasing face of some sort, which was a common conception. "THAT'S NOT FUNNY PIKACHU! We all know you feel the same way about Dawn's Buneary!" He smiled evilly a bit, making fun of Pikachu's secret crush that he never really wanted to confess to anyone.

Oh, that's so cute! Why didn't you tell me Pikachu had a secret crush too?

"I was just being fair, after all." He rolled his eyes.

The Pokémon rolled his eyes. "Thanks for the sarcasm, Ash."

Ash, are you going to leave again? You promised me you would stay with me forever after we met again in the Charific Valley…Remembering the trainer's words, she was disappointed he didn't live up to them. Instead, while he had agreed to take the Eon dragoness with him, it was only temporary until the rebellion was over. After that, he allowed her to go back to Alto Mare while he continued his adventures in the Unova region before once again coming back for the visit two years after the events. Can you not live up to just one request? Please? She looked at him with teary eyes. It's the only wish I have on my heart.

"Oh, but…you deserve freedom! I know you want to be with me, but…"

The only thing that would make me truly happy is to spend time with you. She closed her eyes and brought the trainer back seven years when they first met in Alto Mare. Remember these events?

"Those…those are memories from the past." He spoke breathlessly. His Pikachu squeaked quietly, amazed at how time can fly by so fast. He witnessed the time where the mysterious girl studied the trainer, wander around him in a circle, and finally running off without saying a word. Then the memory from which Ash faced off against the two agents that lied and tried to make excuses to disorient the trainer, before finally fleeing the scene with Latias and giving them a nasty thunderbolt attack, was shown to his mind. "You…you still remember?"

Latias nodded. Yes. How can I not forget? The moment you rescued me, I only thought of holding you close. No other human has ever made me feel that way.

At a loss of words, he looked away. "But I don't know…I'd love if you came with me, but I'll be depriving you of your family, friends, home…its wrong but-"

"Doesn't matter. You live up to your words, or don't say them to begin with." Leon approached the trio in his human form, clad in his Ranger outfit. "What good is a promise if it is never kept and is dodged through the most cowardly means? If my memory serves me well, you promised Latias that you'd return to play with her. It did not happen until she came to you." Being someone who valued promises and honor, the Ranger had little respect for those who lacked such traits, but for Ash, he had exceptions.

"Leon?" Ash asked, confused. "You don't understand! But-how can you sense my past and thoughts anyways!"

The unexpected visitor shrugged. "I can read your thoughts all the way from Kanto if I tried. But what I was saying…your insecurities plague your mind and cloud you from the truth. You're still unsure because of your other friends, correct?"

Ash looked down. He never wanted to make Misty and Raine upset.

"No worries. They understand." He smiled.

Latios appeared, dropping his stealth cloak as blue particles of light shimmered across his well-built body. "Misty is still young minded, this she is jealous. Ever wonder why she keeps both you and Brock away from the attention of girls?" He rolled his eyes, trying not to laugh. "Something's up there. Definitely."

Did you talk to them? Latias asked curiously. I…I never really wanted to make them upset for expressing how I truly feel for Ash…

"Yes." Leon crossed his arms. "I suppose your crush avoided Raine to begin with due to the fact she acts like a psycho whenever she sees him. Listen, Ash." He remembered to recite each and every one of Raine's requests. "Raine is proud of you. She wants you to never stop working hard as it is what drives her to be the best she can be. She's also proud you've managed to befriend not just any Pokémon, but a legendary." He grinned proudly. "Latias, you want to travel with Ash, am I not correct?"

She nodded her head with her cutest face possible. It is my dream!

"Latios…do you approve?"

The Eon dragon shrugged a bit, but realized two guardians wasn't necessary. "I've been thinking about it, but I don't see a reason why my sister can't depart." Both him and his savior turned to leave the garden before his sister stopped him with a request.

Wait! Latias stopped them. Did you have the present I forgot earlier? She remembered about the gift she purchased for Ash, but left it back at the house.

Latios nodded. "It's here. Leon?"

The Ranger reached into one of the pockets on his vest and pulled out a box that contained the present. Smiling, he approached Ash and presented it to him. "Open it. It's her present for you."

Ash took the case, opened it, and couldn't believe his eyes. Inside was a necklace that had both Latias and Latios figures made with pure ruby and sapphire, connected by a high-quality silky like chain. Even in darkness the figures gave off a faint glow in the blackness. "Wow…this…how much did this cost?" He examined the present. His Pikachu hopped onto his shoulder and was dazzled by the expensive gift.

About 1000 dollars! Latias chirped cheerfully.

"…1000 dollars! I don't want to accept such an expensive present!"

"Don't worry. It's coming out of my bank account, but if it makes you two happy, money doesn't matter." Leon didn't seem to stress too much about his life savings going down the drain, as everyone here had given him something that couldn't be bargained for with money. Friends, family, and company. They were things you cannot buy with money or acquire even with powers that surpass humanity's abilities.

Ash stretched out a bit and yawned. "I guess Pikachu and I should hit the night…" He turned around and noticed Latias staring at him with charming eyes. "Oh yeah, the promise."

"Pika!" His Pikachu blushed a bit, realizing what was coming.

"She wants to sleep with you for the night." Latios reminded. "Is that right, sister?"

She smiled and nodded.

Thinking about the request for Latias wanting to travel with Ash made his stress a bit. "Well, I guess Leon and I will plan something for tomorrow. After all, we might come with you, we might not." The Eon Pokémon made his leave, but not before giving his beloved sibling a hug. "Good night, sis."

You too, brother. She smiled as she watched him depart.

Leon followed him, but not before turning around with a smile. "Hey, Ash. Ever stopped and thought about why I stepped up to save Latios two years ago?"

"No…why?" The trainer tried not to think about it.

The Ranger looked at him out of the corner of his eye and grinned. "First, it's an obligation for a Ranger like me to serve and protect Pokémon, even if it means I'll drop dead. Second, there is no way I'd let you risk your life. And third…I did not want to potentially make Latias a heartbroken soul in the event you died. You two were meant to be together." Remembering the successful life transfusion of Krakatoa, maybe Ash had a connection with legendary beings too.

Do you really think that way? Latias asked.

"I don't tell a lie, Miss." He transformed into his Pokémon state and hovered into the air. "Now remember what you said. Don't break them again, or you'll have me to answer to. Goodnight, you two…or three." He noticed Ash's Pikachu and sighed in a happy manner.

Waving goodbye to the Eon Pokémon, the three witnessed him soar through the trees before he disappeared into the darkness.

Slumping against a tree, Ash decided to sleep outdoors, as he didn't have the energy to make his way back to the hotel where his friends were staying, and it wasn't viable to bring Latias with him. He yawned slightly before he felt Latias snuggle close to him in her human form, her smile possibly the happiest emotion he'd sworn to be one of the brightest forms of expression he'd ever see in his life.

"Pika…" Pikachu sat in Ash's lap, giggling. "Isn't that cute? It's such a lovely scene!"

"Yeah, thanks, Pikachu…I'm a little bit nervous so stop staring at me like that!" Rolling his eyes, he felt Latias kiss him again before holding him tightly in her grasp.

Now you're not going anywhere! She demanded in a commanding voice, but soon eased down. You promised me, remember? Please stay with me.

Ash nodded. "Well, let's get some sleep. But are you sure you're alright sleeping here?" Being accustomed to sleeping outdoors, he wasn't if it was the same for the Eon Pokémon. The prospect of the fact that the Ranger managed to receive the honor of becoming a hybrid somewhat bothered him, but he didn't let it go to his head. It would never be the same.

As long as you're with me, I can sleep anywhere. It doesn't matter if you're not one of my kinds so please don't stress about it. I will always love you even if you are a human. She nudged her head against his shoulder in a loving way. Goodnight, Ash.

"Night, Latias."

Latias and Pikachu promptly fell asleep, but for Ash he wasn't able to sleep properly. It was just too nervous. How would he be able to tell his friends, not to mention Bianca and Lorenzo that the female Eon Pokémon was going to be coming with him along for the adventure? Trying not to let it disturb him, he shook it off. Noticing that Latias was clutching to him probably due to the fact she was cold, the trainer took off his vest and covered the sleeping girl with it. He smiled and kissed her on the lips before whispering some words. "Sweet dreams, Latias."

He fell asleep minutes later, but not before hearing her voice in his head.

You too, Ash.

Up in the trees, Latios and Leon observed the sleeping couple (or trio, if you count Pikachu) with heartwarming faces. It was truly a scene they couldn't help but just feel relaxed and happy for.

"So? Are you truly considering letting your sister leave with him?" Leon asked.

"Yes. She's done it before, and I'm confident in her." He remembered when his sister had traveled with Bianca to Johto, and while running into some dangers, they had successfully averted all of them, if not escaping with some injuries.

Both flew out of the garden and into the night, making laps around Alto Mare's skyline as the two discussed among themselves. "By the way…you're leaving tomorrow with them, correct?" He asked.

Leon nodded. "Ranger HQ just gave me a call a while ago after I talked to Raine. Looks like my vacation is over, and my times of kicking some ass as a Pokémon ending. But don't worry, I'll visit." Having to leave Alto Mare with a sudden request to return to action disappointed him.

"Say, what about that present you purchased yesterday? Aren't you going to give it to anyone?"

It was when Leon fell silent. He had bought the gift, but he wasn't clear who to give it to. All his friends were equally important to him and he treated them as such. If any of them needed his help, he'd rise up and assist them but when it came to picking sides it just wasn't in his body. "I don't know who to give it to. But…every one of you are just as equally important as anyone I'd hold dear. You give me guidance as a paternal figure, Latias is like a motherly figure, while Bianca is like the best friend there is. As for Krakatoa and Jimmy, they're just excellent brothers in arms to have." He truly didn't know who to give the presents to, despite the fact Typhlosion had poked fun at him the day prior to Valentine's Day.

It was a difficult choice, but he had to tell. He was leaving tomorrow, and won't be coming back for a very long time.

The next afternoon was fairly tragic in terms of emotional factors. Both Erlade and Brock were dumped by their dates after they accidently fell into Alto Mare's canals by complete accident when they pushed them into the water while observing the beautiful scenery, while Bianca and Lorenzo were utterly disappointed when they realized Latias and Leon were going to leave them to go on their own adventures or missions. Latios had promised to stay behind, but without his sister and their newest addition to the group it just wasn't the same. With a little bit of explanation and discussion, they realized it was for the better good of Latias went to see the world by herself, away from her family. Confining her to Alto Mare wasn't necessary, and her brother wanted her to experience independence without his protectiveness.

Both Erlade and Brock sobbed as their two dates stormed away from them. Gallade and Misty could only snicker in response to their reactions.

"All good times must come to an end, I guess!" The Blade Pokémon laughed.

"Yep." Misty felt good that their dates had ended. "Makes me feel all the much better."

They had one final gathering for lunch at the local buffet one last time before saying their goodbyes to each other. As Raine and Blade had departed after their chat with Leon, they were absent from the group, and while no one noticed the Ranger felt it was a good idea to keep it a secret. At the harbor, Bianca, Lorenzo, Latios, Krakatoa and Jimmy prepared to bid the team farewell as Ash, Misty, Brock, Erlade , Latias and Leon boarded the cruise ship that was heading back to Olivine City. It had only been a day or so and it was time for them to depart.

Latias took a new human disguise this time. Instead of taking Bianca's casual outfit, she decided to go with a plain red t-shirt and tight jeans, as she didn't feel too comfortable disguising himself as a complete second copy of her childhood human friend, not to mention running around in a short skirt all the time made her feel uneasy. As for Latios, he simply remained invisible. Being a human just wasn't for him.

While the leaving party was already onboard, the Ranger and Latios's sister did not leave until the last minute as they said their final goodbyes.

"Latias…please come back to visit us sometime. Everyone here will miss you." Bianca asked with teary eyes.

The Eon Pokémon hugged her friend tightly, both trying not to cry. I promise I will. But sometimes we must learn to live without each other. I hope you understand.

She turned to the Ranger, smiling. "You take care of yourself too, okay Leon? Remember to eat and sleep well, and don't hurt and push yourself too much." She didn't want the Ranger's new abilities to go to his head.

He laughed. "Don't worry. The Ranger Corps take good care of their personnel, and I promise I won't do anything reckless." The idea of shooting down a transport that belonged to illegal Pokémon smugglers with a luster purge attack brought a smile to his mind, but there were some things that just had to be kept a secret. "You take care too, Bianca and Lorenzo. Watch over this city, make sure it remains peaceful."

"Don't worry, with Jimmy, Krakatoa and Latios protecting the town, you can assume your duties with peace." Lorenzo assured.

"Wait, Bianca. I have something to give you before we leave." Leon finally decided to give her the present, as it was normally meant for the girl but never had the courage to say so. Seeing how he wouldn't be returning for approximately a couple of years, this was the last opportunity to do so. He handed her the necklace with the small Latios figurine, while he wore the Latias variant around his neck. Both weren't as glamorous as the 1000 dollar necklace Bianca and Latias purchased earlier for Ash, but where nonetheless still symbolic. "I won't be returning for at least a year or even more than that so…this is for you."

"Oh…was this for me?" She asked, wearing the charm around her neck.

"Sort of. But seeing how you value your Eon dragon friends…I thought it would be a good present. It's also a thank you present for giving me what I never truly had. Family and friends."

Krakatoa, Jimmy, Latios and Lorenzo all gave off sighs of "awwww" as Bianca threw her arms around the Ranger, hugging him tightly. "I'll really miss you, Leon." She thought about his brave sacrifice to bring Latios back, all the while which made him a valuable member to her family during his stay in the city. "Please do be careful in the field. I have one last thing to give you before you leave, though." She rummaged through her purse and handed him another drawing, smiling. "I think you'll like it."

Opening the rolled up piece of art, he realized it was a picture of Latios and himself, standing back to back with determined battle faces. "Thank you...this is amazing. It's like a movie poster of two brothers in arms!" Latios could only smile as he noticed the drawing, but chose to stay silent.

"I thought you'd like it, seeing how you have a strong sense of duty about your occupation. I wish you the best of luck on your adventures and missions."

The Ranger gave her one final hug. He would always remember the aspiring artist and amateur trainer, as she along with her grandfather, gave him a roof to sleep in, fed him and took care of him like Latias and Latios.

As Leon turned to Krakatoa and Jimmy to say his final goodbyes to them, Latias and Latios embraced each other with kisses and hugs. They'd be separated again, but this time Latias could assure in her heart that her brother will be there, no matter what happens. She cried a bit as she hugged the invisible body of the male Eon Pokémon. Brother…I don't know when I'll come back, but I'll always think about you when I'm lonely.

"Don't worry. Ash and his friends will always be there for you. I trust them." Latios answered. "Now be careful of yourself and his friends. If you get a chance to see Leon in the future, be sure to check up on him so he's eating his vegetables and keeping up with his training." The outside world to him was very dangerous, but nonetheless he knew Latias had to leave his side sooner or later.

Latias giggled a bit from his comment. I'll ensure that. Please do take care.

Latios turned to the Ranger with a smile. "Leon…you've improved a lot ever since our last battle. You've got what it takes to be an honored member of our species. There's nothing much left for me to say except make me proud. Now go out there and continue to be successful in preserving peace." He held out his clawed arm for a high-five.

"I won't fail you, sir." Leon spoke in an honorable tone as the two slapped each other's hands. "Ow…" He shook his sore palm a bit. "A little too hard there…"

Both Jimmy and Krakatoa chuckled at his reaction, but decided to say their part before he was gone. "Don't worry about us. We'll take care of Bianca and her old man, not to mention the three of us will ensure the safety of the secret garden." Jimmy spoke. "If those two girls return again to cause trouble…we'll promise you that my Pokémon here will beat them to a pulp and send them back to Kanto in body bags."

Annie and Oakley…I'm sure we haven't seen the last of them. Leon thought. His intervention with them made him a prime target for the Team Rocket agents and spies too.

Jimmy's Typhlosion cracked his fists upon thinking about Annie and Oakley. While they survived the conflict, their whereabouts were unknown. Team Rocket was still out there, it was just a matter of time before they resurfaced. But it was not today. "Alto Mare is safe with me here." He spoke.

Ash wandered down to the group as the cruise ship gave one giant blare from its horn. "Hey, Leon and Latias, we must leave now. Come on! The ship's leaving!"

Latias immediately took Ash's hand and held it tightly, forcing the trainer to blush. Deep down in her heart, she was both sad and happy, as she was going to be with the one person she truly loved at first sight, but at the same time leaving her family was going to be the price to pay for that.

"Remember, Ash. Take care of Latias. Feed her, comfort her, and support her whenever she needs it." Bianca reminded him. "If you don't…I'll send Corporal Leon and Latios to get you."

"Uh…yeah. What she said." The Ranger rolled his eyes. Who am I, the police!

Ash scratched his head nervously from her potential threat, but kept his promise. "I will. I'll take care of Leon in the event we come across paths again." The Ranger rolled his eyes a bit, being unaccustomed to so many people concerning about his well-being. The trainer turned to the group, saddened by their happy faces. "Latios…Jimmy…Bianca…Krakatoa…Lorenzo, please take care. I don't know when I'll come back with Latias, but I'll promise I'll visit."

"You take care too, Ash." Jimmy sighed.

"Don't worry about the town, we've got it covered. Just be successful and victorious out there." Typhlosion waved his right arm a bit.

"Be careful out there." Latios spoke. "You too, sis."

"Give Latias the company she needs if she's lonely." Lorenzo requested. "Train her strong, like her brother. It's the only thing we wish for."

Bidding each other their last goodbyes, Brock, Misty, Erlade, Pikachu and Gallade all waved at the trainers from the top deck of the cruise ship as a way of telling them to get onboard. Latias, Ash and Leon all boarded the vessel with minimal delay, keeping their eyes on their friends back on the docks as they waved goodbye to them. The trainer could have sworn he saw Bianca sobbing her heart out, but he wasn't too sure. The Ranger that accompanied him confirmed the fact, and this made Ash feel terribly bad. Regardless, there was no turning back now.

The S.S. Diamond made its departure from the city at approximately 5PM as the sun began to sink over the western horizon, and the three stood at the railings of the ship, taking last glimpses of their friends before they were no longer in sight. The city of Alto Mare began to fade in the dusk sky as the lights gave off a glow in the middle of the ocean. No one said a word for quite a while until Leon broke the silence.

"Beautiful, isn't it." He commented at the sight. "I could show you how the skyline looks like from up above, if you want me to."

"Pika!" Ash's Pikachu answered him. "Well Mr. Ranger, perhaps right now? You can transform, right?"

"Not when there's a million eyes glancing out the window." He shook off the idea. Transforming with a giant audience watching wasn't exactly a very good idea.

"Maybe when we return." Ash replied as Latias held his right arm tightly, cuddling it like it was her favorite teddy bear. The three stood there, observing the city pass by them as the ship made its way out of the harbor and into the open sea. "Hey…I just want to ask…"

"Yes?" The Ranger answered.

Having never heard of his hometown, the trainer felt like asking the question. "Do you have a home? Like a hometown where you came from?"

Leon simply sighed. "Home is wherever I go. From the freezing caves of Mt. Silver all the way to the raging Whirlpool Islands, if I can find a suitable location to sleep. I'll do so. But I'd snuggle up in a warm bed than curl up on some icy cold boulders. Are you homesick, Latias?" He noticed her sad-looking expression as the vessel moved further away from the Water Capital.

Oh…not really. Thanks for your concern however…I just don't feel right being all by myself when I usually go with friends and family.

'Well, I'll let you two spend some time alone, see you at dinner." The Ranger left, leaving the two holding each other and witnessing the ocean pass by them. Ash's Pikachu followed him, as he didn't want to ruin the moment of Ash and Latias together.

Dinner was fairly casual, with Brock, Misty, Erlade, Pikachu, Gallade and the Ranger eating at the buffet. Ever since Ash boarded the ship, he was staying away from his friends to spend time alone with Latias, and this prompted his companions to find out why. Since Leon was the most knowledgeable out of the entire group, dinner time was one giant interrogation from curious, nosy and questioning individuals. With Ash and Latias absent from their table, it just made them want to realize why even more.

"Because this is Latias's first time alone with a bunch of strangers." Leon answered the group.

"But you've been living with her for two years!" Brock answered him, somewhat jealous. "I wish I lived with a cute girl that treated me like a second brother!" He tried not to cry as Misty shook her head in disappointment.

"Well, I guess she feels more comfortable around with Ash. She's known him for seven years. Me? Only two. That's nothing compared to them." He slurped down a whole plate of spaghetti in seconds. "But I'm leaving the whole team after we reach Olivine. Like I mentioned, Ranger HQ needs me."

"Oh, yeah…how unfortunate. But we'll see each other again, right?" Erlade was disappointed, having to see such a talented trainer who could transform himself into a Pokémon depart. The prospect of another gathering, months or years from now, brought his spirits back.

"I'm sure of it." After all, someone has to protect Alto Mare and its people. He touched the Latias figurine on his necklace. I'll be back, guys. Don't worry.

"Is Latias happy now?" Misty asked. "I mean, she gets to go with her one true love…something none of us will ever feel in ourselves for a long time."

Placing his fork down, the Ranger stood up and rose out of his seat. "She doesn't show it, but spending time with Ash is what makes her happier than achieving ascension. Er, I mean…yeah, you get my point." Remembering to bring both Ash and Latias dinner, he left the group. "I promised to bring them food, you guys enjoy the evening without me."

Latias continued to stand out on deck, holding Ash's hand as she kept her eyes on her home city drift further off into the darkness. While the trainer wanted to get his dinner, the Eon Pokémon wouldn't release his arm and wanted him to stay with her. Suppressing his hunger, he stood there with her even though his stomach began to growl like a grumpy Tyranitar.

"Are you not hungry?" Ash asked.

Uh, just a little, but I don't feel like eating…She caught her love interest's stomach roaring. Oh, are you hungry? I don't want to hold you up or anything-

He smiled in response. "It's fine. I can stand it."

While the Eon Pokémon had left the city before, she went with her closest friend and a Pokémon she befriended easily. But now, she was going by herself all alone, and even though the Ranger was with her, it wasn't long before he would leave her, and she'd be surrounded by strangers with the exception of Ash at her side. I just miss my family, that's really it.

"Hey, it's alright. You have me here and all my friends too." Ash assured, remembering the ruby and sapphire necklace that adorned around his neck. "I'm sure Latios will always be there too if you spoke to him mentally. The same goes for Bianca and everyone else. Leon's here too if you need some motivation." His newest friend, to him, was by far the best person to run to if you needed someone to bring your spirits up.

Talking with her love made her feel all the much better. Thank you, Ash. I'll try to forget recalling them all the time.

'You two lovebirds hungry?" Leon asked teasingly, but in a friendly manner, as he approached them with two dishes of food. "I thought I might bring you some dinner, you've been standing out here ever since the ship left Alto Mare's main harbor. Come on, sit down." He sat down on a table that overlooked the swimming pool and dance floor of the ship. Tonight, however, there were few passengers that swam or danced there.

"Thank you! I'm starving." Ash exclaimed as he sat down, with his mind focused on eating and filling his stomach immediately. Sitting down on one of the tables, he dug into the food but quickly remembered his manners in Latias's presence. "Uh…you want some too? I can spare you my share."

Don't worry. Eat your fill, I can always get more. I don't want you to starve because I'm being the selfish one here. Latias smiled a bit as she picked through her plate.

"Mind if I take a picture of this lovely couple?" Leon asked as he pulled out his styler and activated its camera functionality. Both the Eon Pokémon and her trainer/love interest nodded, and getting themselves into position, a picture was promptly taken.

"Not bad if I say so myself…" He commented on the photo as he showed them the shot. It was picture of Ash and Latias holding each other tightly like any romantic couple would. "If you need anything, just give me a call. After all, we're all going our separate ways after we hit Olivine." He reminded. Olivine City was only about 16 hours away from Alto Mare, and it was only a matter of time before their cruise would end.

"Shame that you're leaving us…" Ash trailed off. Having just been reunited with one of his newest friends and seeing him leave a day after brought his spirits down.

Leon shook his head. "You have Latias with you. Don't worry." Upon hearing his comment, the Eon dragon girl smiled at him. "Now if you excuse me, I'm going to spend some time alone. You two enjoy yourselves." He walked away from them to an isolated portion of the cruise ship's top deck, where he felt the wind blow through his hair.

On his mind, Leon observed towards the ocean. There was scientific evidence that other Latias and Latios existed out there, but how would they feel if they met a hybrid? How would they react to his story about the life transfusion? He turned to Ash and Latias. Both were so happy to be together, and it was all thanks to his invitation that he delivered to the young trainer. He'd look forward to the day where he'd meet another Latias and Latios out there in the wild.

He looked out towards the ocean. Was it really worth being the good guy and enforcing justice and peace wherever he went? Yeah, it is. His thoughts continued to wander as he prepared for the challenges that faced his future as he observed the ocean waves dance by the vessel. From behind him, Ash and Latias observed him as he stood there motionless like a suspended statue.

Thank you Leon…thank you for everything. For saving Latios. For watching over us. Latias silently spoke into his heart. To her, he was like a second brother. Someone to play with, someone talk to whenever she felt down, and someone to play her pranks and to tease with.

"Hey Latias? I think we should go to sleep now." Ash asked.

Alright. Can I sleep with you?


"Remember your promise, Ash." The Ranger whispered just quiet enough for the trainer to pick up in his ears.

He nodded. "Okay, just don't drool all over me like last night!"

Giggling in a childish manner, she hugged the trainer. I'll try not to! Both of them returned to their rooms, leaving the lone man standing there, observing the stars.

"Just like Latios said all the time…that's the Ash I know. Keep your words like the true pure-hearted trainer you are. That's the way a true being should live the life." He chuckled to himself. The words continued to echo into his head as he faced the dark ocean ahead of him, relishing their final hours together before they'd finally say goodbye in the morning.

That's it! This is the end of my Valentine's Day special for everyone here! Author's comments will be posted soon. I'm sure if you have any questions, they will be answered there.

Until then, peace.