Shadow and Ash

Part VI

Naruto sighed and finally decided to call it quits for the night. He'd bypassed Shinobi Town and Kunoichi Town to travel new ground, but the next town on was further away than he'd thought it was. The sun had set and although he could keep going by the light of his flashlight he didn't feel up to it. So when he came to a small meadow at the foot of a steep wooded hill he dropped his backpack and got ready to sleep under the stars.

It had been a little over two weeks since he'd retreated home and he had finally felt restless and up to striking out again. He was a bit disappointed that he hadn't caught up with Hinata before she left with Kiba and Shino. But it was probably for the best as his mother had stumbled over the card Hinata had given him in his room and had delighted in teasing him about it. If she knew that he'd hung out with her while she was in town, she would've joked about when he was going to marry her or something.

Tucking his flashlight under one arm, Naruto unrolled his sleeping bag and arranged it one what looked to be the softest patch of ground. He'd already eaten earlier and intended to go right to sleep so he didn't bother with a campfire. And the weather was warm and clear so there was no need to pitch a tent. All he needed to was spray himself with insect repellant, kick off his shoes, and crawl into his sleeping bag.

Now where's the bug spray?

Before he'd left his mother had insisted on packing his bag for him. He hadn't really objected as it was always tricky to shove all the supplies that he needed into it. Sometimes it took him five tries to fit everything so that he could zip it closed. But…now he didn't know where all his stuff was in the bag.

Is that…no, that's no it. Or maybe this is…no, not it either. Maybe it's buried at the bottom—

His fingertips ran over something large, cylindrical, and completely unfamiliar. Peeling away the folded clean clothes that were packed around it, he was able to remove the mysterious object and shine his flashlight on it. His jaw then promptly dropped.

A pokémon egg?

It was encapsulated in a clear incubation tube that kept the egg warm and protected it from breakage. The egg inside was brown with a tan zigzag band that stretched horizontally around its middle. Taped to the battery-powered device was a note.

"Every trainer should hatch at least one pokémon egg in his career, so here's yours! Take good care of it! Love you lots!

—Mom and Dad"

Naruto carefully peeled the note off the incubator and gently tucked the tube into the sleeping bag. He found the bug spray and coated himself with it, then packed his bag back up. Switching off the flashlight, kicking off his shoes, and pulling the goggles off his forehead, he slipped into the sleeping bag beside the egg and stared up at the night sky.

Thousands of tiny stars glittered high overhead, cold and distant. Naruto tried to trace out the constellations hidden in them, but they all looked the same to him. As his eyelids started to droop, a tiny flash caught his attention.

A shooting star!

Closing his eyes, he whispered a wish before sleep crept over him…

At the top of the hill, a hazy black form with glowing yellow rings slipped out of the brush and slunk down the slope. It moved silently to the side of the boy sleeping in the dull orange sleeping bag and watched him as he snored softly, resting a gentle paw on his shoulder. The dark thing blinked its red eyes when it spied the egg beside the boy, then dipped its head to lick the child's scarred cheek before turning tail and bounding back up the hill.

Waiting on the other side of the bushes was a small white pokémon hovering a few inches off the ground. It was humanoid with stubby limbs, little blue triangles under its eyes, and an odd black seam across its belly. Two yellow sashes sprouted from its shoulder blades and it appeared to have a yellow, three-point hat or headdress on its head. From each point dangled a blue tassel that resembled paper a tag and one of them was glowing faintly.

The floating white creature spread its arms and the dark shape slowly approached it. With every step the black thing's form grew more indistinct until it was nothing more than a condensed orb of sparkling yellow light. The star-like pokémon cradled the orb in its arms and slowly started to rise higher off the ground.

:I'm sorry,: it said. :But there are rules that can't be broken.:

:I understand,: the yellow spark answered. :It was more than enough. Thank you.:

It smiled and burst through the treetops, spiraling higher and higher into the endless night sky. When the wish pokémon grew closer to the stars it opened its arms and the golden spark darted skyward even faster, streaking up into the heavens. As the orb vanished from sight, glowing kanji characters that decorated one of its blue tag-tassels flickered and faded away.

"I wish that I could say good-bye."