Friendship is Eternal
A/N: Ash, Iris and Cilan find themselves pulled away from their journey at the request of one of their old friends. This starts them on a quest that brings back many old faces, a few new ones, and a challenge that Ash must overcome. Exactly what challenge is this? Well, you're just going to have to read to find out!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything Pokémon related whatsoever.
Chapter 24: Wishes
For a moment, no one moved, sure that at least one of the bosses would suddenly pop up and start all over again. But the moment suddenly passed, and everyone realized that victory had come at last!
'YES!' Ash crowed, even as Pikachu leapt back in his arms and all his Pokémon crowded around him, roaring, bellowing, and crying out. 'We did it!'
'Well done, Ash!' Professor Oak was the first one of his friends to reach him, 'I haven't seen battling of that caliber for so long!'
'When it's to protect your friends,' Ash replied, looking at his first mentor, 'you can do things that no one can ever imagine.'
'Ash!' came a chorus of voices behind him before he was literally swallowed in a massive group hug from every one of his travelling companions, shouting in joy about how he had saved them all. Ash really didn't quite know who was hugging him him, and was half-sure he was going to be pulled onto someone's shoulders in a second.
The next thing he knew, Brock had pulled him to one side and set him against the railing. 'Thank goodness for the impromptu healing,' he said, pushing his shirt up and examining the wound in his stomach, 'but this needs to be dressed properly if it's going to fully recover.'
'At least you're alive to treat me,' Ash breathed with a grin, 'that's all that matters.'
Brock nodded at his friend. 'That's true.'
Professor Juniper came up, holding a first-aid kit in her hand. 'We brought this along when we got here; it should be enough until we can get you to a hospital.'
'We're all really glad you're safe,' May said, holding Pikachu safely in her arms as she, Dawn, Max, Misty, Iris and Cilan stood to one side, looking on as Brock opened the kit and collected the necessary materials.
'Same here,' Ash nodded, before wincing as Brock started applying antiseptic.
Meanwhile, Elm and Birch were helping the recovered five trainers recall the bosses' and admins' defeated Pokémon and restrain their trainers. 'And that's for kidnapping my son,' Birch said, almost enjoying trussing up Maxie in a length of mooring line that Lucas had found in a nearby storage closet.
'You said it, Dad,' Brendan agreed, recalling the unconscious Magcargo and Arcanine back into their Poké-balls and throwing them into the sack of Poké-balls that Team Rocket had unwittingly brought up with them, after everyone else had retrieved their own. 'I'm just glad that we're out of that mess.'
'If I ever see a Slowking again, it will be too soon,' muttered Ethan, finishing binding Saturn's wrists and ankles together and propping him up against the railing, before moving on to Phoebus.
Just then, Officer Jenny spotted a series of shapes on the horizon, and when she went to take a closer look, she saw a number of police helicopters and speedboats approaching them. 'Finally, my backup gets here…after all the excitement is over,' she said in annoyance. 'You'd think the International Police would be quicker to respond to these sorts of things.'
Jenny stiffened as an overly amorous Brock fell to one knee holding a bouquet of flowers he had pulled out of nowhere. 'I'm so glad you were uninjured in this horrible battle! But although what scrapes you have suffered do not diminish your beauty, they still make my own heart weep with sadness! Allow me to heal what wounds you have sustained from this travesty…GYARGH!'
'GET A GRIP, BROCK!'
Brock's tirade was abruptly bitten off by two fists smashing him over the head and a Poison Jab ramming into his back, before Misty, Max and his own Croagunk hauled him away. Half of the onlookers shook their heads at the familiar sight, while the other half blinked in utter shock at the bizarre serenading scene.
'You know, I'm almost glad that he did that,' Max commented, pulling Brock along by his collar.
'Yeah, when he didn't freak out the first time he saw her I was really worried,' Misty agreed, 'I think the stress must have put it off for a while.'
Ash shook his head. 'Hey, did you have to knock him out?' he called out, 'I'm still injured here!'
Professor Rowan pushed open one more door, and sighed in relief when he saw a green-haired girl and four huge Charizards trussed up in chain alongside one wall of the otherwise empty room. The girl looked up in fright. 'Wh-what's going on?' The four Charizards let out protective growls.
'Easy there. Are you Liza, the owner of the Charicific Valley?' asked Rowan. 'I'm Professor Rowan, the Sinnoh Regional Professor. Don't worry; the battle's over and all the bosses are in custody. Everyone's safe now.'
Liza's face visibly brightened. 'Even Ash and his friends?'
'Especially Ash and his friends. We came to rescue them, but in the end, it was Ash that had to save us. I couldn't believe what had happened until I saw it myself.'
'Hey, Professor Rowan,' suddenly came Tracey's voice, and the young assistant staggered into view lugging about 9 backpacks and assorted travelling bags with him. 'I found our bags and our equipment; have you found the girl yet?'
'She's in here, Tracey, but she's tied in chain; I'll just take a moment to get her out,' Rowan replied. 'Rotom, Transform and use Air Slash!' Floating alongside him, the Plasma Pokémon beeped in acknowledgement, morphed into a yellow-tinted electric fan. Whirling its blades, a flurry of air saw blades shot out of it and shattered the chains in an instant. The Charizards stretched their limbs and wings as Liza rubbed her wrists.
'Thanks, Professor,' she said. 'Come on, guys, let's get out of here.'
By the time the small group had reached the deck, the International Police had completely taken control of the deck and were thankfully herding the now-conscious, captured bosses and their subordinates into a police helicopter. One officer secured the sack containing their confiscated Pokémon in a metal case.
'Serves you right for yelling so much,' Max said smugly to the three members of Team Rocket, all of whom were securely gagged with cloth. Meowth in particular was literally muzzled.
'Well, with your testimony of illegal Pokémon tournaments, kidnapping, and attempted murder, I'm sure these crooks will be going away for a long time, and maybe for the everything else their organization's done in the process,' one officer was saying to Officer Jenny. 'Well done.'
'Liza! You're alright!' called Ash, as an EMT finished bandaging his stomach wound. 'How are the Charizards?'
'They're all just fine,' Liza replied. 'We were a little banged up from the cage, but nothing serious. But you look like you've taken a beating; what happened?'
'It's a really long story,' Ash replied, pulling his shirt down over the long linen wraps and shrugging on his jacket, as the EMT advised to take it easy for a while. A portable Poké-ball restoration system was humming away, restoring all the Pokémon that had been in the vicious battle one after the other.
'Listen, Ash,' Liza tried to say, 'I'm so sorry I had to do that to you…if I hadn't, the Valley would've been destroyed and the Charizards would be…'
'I know, Liza,' Ash said gently, 'You don't need to apologize; I know exactly what they were capable of…'
By the time the sun was lowering and the sky was turning from blue to a light orange/purple, the International Police had already finished all their interviews, secured the entire ship, and left with their prisoners. Ash couldn't believe how long it had been; he and his friends had pretty much spent the entire day fighting for their lives, and he and his Pokémon had spent almost 6 hours in constant battle, and 2 hours in recovery. Despite this, it was only now that hunger and fatigue were setting in; protectiveness for his friends had pretty much wiped out everything else.
Right now, everyone was just milling around on the deck, as the last police helicopter prepared to remove them from The Spirit of Pokémon. Ash, meanwhile, was gazing out at the sea and the setting sun, looking incredibly thoughtful. Pikachu, sitting on his partner's head, was watching a few Remoraid leaping out of the ocean.
'Penny for your thoughts?' Ash turned to see May and Leaf standing next to him. 'You look too sad for someone who just saved your friends and took down four of the most vicious crime bosses in history.'
'That's just it, May,' Ash replied, 'I had to save you, because those creeps captured you just to get to me. I've interfered with them so much that they actually labeled me a threat, and used you guys to get to me.' He turned back to the sea. 'It would've been better if maybe you guys didn't know me.'
'Ash, don't say that,' May replied sternly. 'It wasn't your fault that we got kidnapped, it was Team Rocket, Magma, Aqua and Galactic that kidnapped us in the first place!'
'But I'm the reason you all were targeted in the first place,' argued Ash. 'You all almost got killed because of me. How can you still be friends with me after I put you all in danger like that?' Pikachu squeaked sadly from his spot on Ash's head.
Leaf just smiled and took Ash's hand. 'Ash, don't you remember what you said just a while ago? Friendship is Eternal.'
'Yeah,' May said, taking his other hand. 'It means helping each other, not just for all time, but through whatever comes our way.'
The rest of Ash's companions approached, having heard the conversation. 'It means sticking with each other, through the good times and the bad,' Brock added.
'Supporting them through all their endeavors, and them doing the same for you,' Dawn continued.
'Never forgetting the times you've had together, and knowing you're all the better because of it,' Misty put in.
'Helping each other achieve their dreams,' Tracey commented, 'even if it's only from a distance.'
'Teaching them how to be a better person every day,' Max spoke up.
'Showing them there's more to Pokémon than just training, but also actually being friends with them,' Cilan contributed.
'And never, ever giving up on any of your friends even when the odds are so much against them,' Iris finished with a smile. Axew let out a small cry in agreement.
'Friendship goes both ways, Ash,' Brock said, as they all surrounded the one kid that had brought all of them together. 'You'd do anything for any of us, and we'd do anything for you. We're not leaving you or even letting you leave us; that's not what friends do.'
'You're stuck with us until the bitter end,' Misty said cheerily, 'So you'd better get used to it.'
Ash was silent for a moment as he took in everything his friends had said. Then he raised his head, and everyone relaxed as they saw the familiar grin they had gotten to know over the years, although this one was a little less cocky, and a lot more happy. 'Thanks, everyone,' he said. 'I wouldn't have it any other way.'
'Chaa!' Pikachu agreed.
'You sure you don't want to join them, Brendan?' asked Birch.
'No,' the ex-King of the Checkmate Five shook his head, 'they're the one's who travelled with Ash all this time, not me.'
'Leaf didn't, and she's over there.'
'Yeah, but she and Ash go way back,' replied Brendan. 'I don't think I'd want to get in the middle of that.'
'How about you, Lucas?' queried Rowan to his young assistant.
'No, Professor,' replied Lucas, 'I'm still trying to get my head around everything that has happened; I mean, I can't believe I was that fool enough to get captured and battle to kill my own friend!'
'Join the club,' muttered Ethan.
'Oh, come on, you two, quit moping,' Lyra said, putting her arms around the two of them. 'We're getting enough of that from Ash. Cheer up! We won, didn't we?'
'We know that, it's just that…we said and did some pretty awful things to Ash over there…' Brendan muttered, 'I really don't see any reason why he should cut us a break…'
'Brendan, you all were brainwashed, Ash knows that, and he still put himself on the line for all of us, including you,' Khoury replied. 'I think it's pretty clear what he thinks about you – absolutely no hard feelings.'
'I can see that,' Hilbert agreed, as he, Hilda, Bianca and Cheren came over. 'I only just met the guy and I can already see myself being friends him.'
'Yeah, yeah,' Hilda stretched her arms above her head restlessly. 'I'm just wondering when I can get off this boat so I can get back to training…'
'Aw, come on, Hilda,' Hilbert chuckled, 'without saving goodbye to the guy whose life you literally saved? I think you're going soft.'
Hilda scowled at her companion. 'I just didn't want to lose a potential battling partner…from what Professor J said, he's pretty good. Got that, Hilby?'
Hilbert scowled back as Bianca giggled at her friends' antics and Cheren shook his head. 'I concur, Ash certainly is formidable,' their glasses-wearing friend mentioned. 'To overcome my strategies requires a lot of skill. I will have to compose new tactics to surpass them if we ever meet in the Unova Conference.'
Lucas tilted his head. 'But they weren't your strategies; you were under mind control at the time, weren't you?' Cheren blinked at the realization as everyone stifled a smirk.
'So, Professor Oak, have you finished the arrangements?' Professor Elm asked his older associate.
'I just finished, Ernest,' Oak responded, putting his own Pokégear away. 'They should be ready any minute.'
'You know, I was pondering something for a while…' Elm said thoughtfully, 'I know how long Ash has had his Pikachu, so I know how strong it should be. But what I don't know is why it was so weak for the first few moments of the battle.'
Oak pondered this for a minute. 'I honestly don't know,' he finally said. 'The only hypothesis I have is that that electrical discharge by Zekrom not only de-charged Pikachu such that it couldn't use its attacks for a while, but it also permanently weakened its electrical sacs. That meant its attacks were reduced in intensity and strength, until something such as that Light Ball or Ash's new powers that restored Pikachu's full potential.'
'Interesting theory, Samuel,' Elm said, 'do you think we should investigate it further?'
'No,' Professor Oak shook his head with a smile at his Johto colleague. 'I think this is one event better described as a miracle, and should not be tried to understood by science.'
Glancing at Ash and his companions, Elm nodded. 'I think you're right.'
'Hey, Professor Oak!' Ash suddenly called out. Oak turned to see his young protégé with his regular huge grin on his face. 'When are we getting off this ship? I'm ready to head back on the road!'
'Yes, about that, Ash,' Oak said, looking at his watch, 'Actually, we aren't going to send you all back on your journeys quite yet.'
That caught everyone's attention. 'Huh?' Hilda blinked in astonishment. 'What are you talking about? Professor J, what is he talking about?'
'Ash, I know Liza found you, Iris and Cilan and took you to the Spirit of Pokémon from the Unova region,' Oak explained, 'but have you wondered exactly how Liza and her Charizards found you in the first place?'
'Um…' That question actually left Ash dumbstruck.
Professor Juniper gave a sly smile. 'She knew…because I told her where to find you, after you told me where you were in the Unova Region.'
If the previous statement startled everyone, this one left everyone gobsmacked. 'P-Professor Juniper? You told Liza where to find Ash?' Bianca stuttered.
'Of course she did; I asked her to,' Professor Oak said, turning the stunned looks towards him now. 'I asked Professor Juniper and Liza to find Ash and bring him somewhere; I just didn't expect Liza to use that to her unfortunate advantage.' Liza once again took on an apologetic look.
'Wait, I'm confused, Professor,' Tracey said, looking at his mentor, 'You're saying that you told Professor Juniper and Liza to find Ash in the Unova region, and bring him somewhere, but Liza dropped him off here on this ship because of her orders?'
'That's exactly right, Tracey,' Oak nodded, 'but since we're here, on this rather interesting location, I've decided to bring that somewhere here instead.' He glanced down at his watch, 'and it should be here any moment now.'
Everyone blinked. 'Professor, what do you mean by that?' asked Lyra.
Professor Elm turned around from where he was gazing out to sea. 'I believe your answer is right there, Lyra!' he announced, pointing towards the ocean.
Everyone turned to where Professor Elm was looking, and saw a dot on the horizon, glinting against the setting sky. As it drew closer, everyone started to hear the distinct helicopter rotary sounds and saw the distinct shape of an enormous double-rotor helicopter.
'What's going on?' asked Dawn. 'Whose helicopter is that?'
The helicopter kicked up a load of dust as it finally came to a rest on the wooden top deck, albeit a little shakily as it tried to avoid all the gouges and potholes on the battlefield. Ash just had time to see a logo consisting of a green L on a blue Poké-ball symbol emblazoned on the side door before it slid open.
A short elderly man with long white hair and a huge white beard, dressed in a red-and-blue jersey, green shorts and a purple baseball cap hopped out of the vehicle as the rotors slowed to a stop. 'Well, well, Mr. Ketchum, I must say, if this is the kind of training you do, I'm surprised you haven't won the League already!' he commented, looking at the destroyed battlefield.
'Mr. Goodshow!' exclaimed all the Pokémon trainers.
'Wh-what are you doing here?' stuttered Hilbert, obviously blown away at the sight of the Pokémon League chairman.
'Who do you think owns this boat in the first place, m'boy?' Mr. Goodshow chuckled. 'Actually, that, and Samuel here asked me for a favor. He asked me to find a certain someone and bring her here to the Spirit of Pokémon.'
'Her? Who's "her"?' asked Brock.
At that moment, another person climbed out of the helicopter, a brunette someone wearing a violet skirt, a pink blouse, and a very happy expression.
'Mom? Why are you here?' cried Ash.
'Mrs. Ketchum?' exclaimed all of Ash's companions.
'MOM?' echoed everyone else (excluding the professors).
'Ash, I don't know why Professor Oak decided to have the party here, but I must admit he chose a beautiful location!' Delia Ketchum exclaimed, looking at the view from the ship's deck. 'And you've brought so many of your friends here with you!'
'Party? What party?' uttered Ash in confusion.
Delia looked startled at that. 'Ash dear, I think you've been travelling far too long if you've forgotten what day it is today. Mimey dear?' She called back into the helicopter.
A pink and white humanoid Pokémon with red spots on its cheeks and belly, thin arms and legs, black elfin shoes, pointed hair, and large, flat hands jumped out of the helicopter as well with a huge smile. Its eyes glowed blue with psychic energy, and to the astonishment of everyone, a huge cake frosted with yellow icing floated out, with 15 candles set on it.
It took a few seconds for it to sink in.
'IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY?!' every single one of Ash's companions yelled at him. Everyone else just stared at him in shock.
'Okay, I get you forgetting your own birthday, but how did none of you know?' Iris exclaimed, looking at the rest of them.
'He never told any of us!' Misty said in indignation. 'I've known him for almost 5 years and he never once told me his birthday!'
'It…it…never came up in conversation!' Ash stammered, embarrassed. 'I was so busy training that I never had a chance to celebrate it!'
'You mean you never celebrated your own birthday in all these 5 years of travelling?' Delia exclaimed. 'If I'd known this is how you would be after going on your journey, I'd never have let you leave Pallet Town!'
Ash reflexively swallowed at that statement, but Delia continued on, 'Oh well, no time like the present to start celebrating! Brock, will you help Mimey set up and start cooking? I've got everything we need in there.'
'No problem, Mrs. Ketchum!' Brock said.
'Let me give you a hand, Brock,' Cilan said, stepping forward. 'As a former waiter and restaurant owner, making dinner, especially a birthday of one my greatest friends, will be something to be remembered for the ages!'
'Great!' Delia smiled. 'Mimey!'
'Mr. Mime!' Mimey saluted in response, and its psychic powers started bringing out all manners of food items, folding tables and chairs and portable stoves. As Brock and Cilan stepped forward to begin cooking, Delia turned to the rest, including Ash's ex-opponents.
'Well, I'm glad Ash is making so many new friends; he makes them everywhere he goes! I hope you will all stay for the celebration…' she blinked when she laid eyes on Leaf. 'Wait…I recognize you…you're Leaf Woodward, Ash and Gary's childhood friend?'
Leaf smiled wanly. 'H-hi, Mrs. Ketchum..,!' Her voice choked when Delia gave her a huge hug.
'Oh my, I haven't seen you since you left Pallet Town on your journey! Tell me, how have you been? Have you been staying in contact with Ash?' Delia continued chattering as she led Leaf away.
Ethan, Lyra and Khoury exchanged looks. 'Well, if it's free dinner, who am I to refuse?' Ethan laughed.
His two friends laughed along with him. 'Ethan, you never change!' Lyra smiled.
Lucas sidled up to Dawn. 'Er…exactly how good is Ash's mom's cooking?'
'I actually don't know…' Dawn admitted, 'but I know how good Brock's cooking is, so I guarantee you'll enjoy tonight!'
'Well, I have,' May said, smiling, 'And I assure you that once you try it, you'll never want to leave!'
As everyone else chatted amongst themselves, Ash sidled up to Professor Oak. 'Professor, you didn't tell Mom about what happened today?'
'I didn't think she should worry,' Professor Oak whispered back, 'No one should have to know their child almost died on their birthday.'
'Indeed, Mr. Ketchum,' Mr. Goodshow agreed, 'besides, with everything that has happened, including allowing my ship to get stolen to provide the arena for it all, having a party here is really the least I can do.'
As nightfall finally came, Delia, Cilan and Brock had the deck smelling like a barbeque banquet. Goodshow was talking animatedly with the professors, as the Pokémon trainers enjoyed their dinner.
However, one trainer in particular was standing at one end of the deck, staring up at the stars with his partner nibbling on a dish of Pokémon food at his side.
'You know, just a few hours ago, you were in that same position, and I asked, "Penny for your thoughts?",' Ash turned to see the ex-Checkmate Five, Leaf in front, 'Mind if I make another payment?'
'I gotta say, Ash,' Ethan declared, his mouth full of steak, 'Your mom and your friends sure make one great meal.'
'Indeed,' agreed Cheren, 'what is that, your fifth plate so far?'
As Ethan glared at Cheren, Brendan and Leaf stepped forward. 'Ash, I think I speak for all of us that we're all sorry for what happened,' Brendan said sorrowfully, 'We put you and your friends in so much danger…'
'…And I think I speak for all of my friends that none of us hold you to that,' Ash answered without a beat. Pikachu squeaked in agreement.
'Well then, I thank you for rescuing us,' Lucas said. 'If you hadn't come to save your friends, I don't know what would've happened.'
Ash gave a wan smile. 'You're my friends too, you know. You know my friends; that's enough for me.'
Leaf smiled. 'Haven't you had much to eat?' she asked. 'I haven't seen you take a bite all evening, and from what Brock tells me, that's not normal.' When Ash opened his mouth to answer, she interrupted him, 'And if you start going on about how we should cut all ties with you, I'll sic Gyarados on you.'
'It's not that,' Ash said, a smile starting to cross his face, 'I was just thinking about all the friends I've made on my journey…and now all the friends I've made in just one day…'
He turned behind him to observe the scene behind him: Brock and Cilan, talking and sharing cooking recipes with each other, Max, Hilbert, Khoury and Tracey were all having an intense discussion about Pokémon care, in particular about Hilbert's Braviary, May and Dawn were sharing their latest contest experiences in Johto and Hoenn respectively, and Misty, Bianca, Lyra and Iris were fawning over Hilda's tiny Joltik, staring cutely at them from Hilda's palm, while Dawn's ever-present Piplup chattered angrily at the oblivious Psyduck.
'…Let's just say I've got a lot more than being alive to be thankful for today,' Ash finished his thought, tiliting his gaze to the stars up above.
'I can see that,' Ethan commented, 'but you'd better also be thankful that I was under mind control, or I would've kicked your butt when we first battled.'
'Really?' replied Ash, turning back, 'even after Donphan knocked Typhlosion into the pool?'
'Come on, Ethan, you couldn't beat him on your best day,' Lucas interjected, 'With a clear mind, I would've flattened both of you in a heartbeat.'
'Please,' snorted Cheren, 'neither of you could hope to stand up to my tactics; my team could've taken you in their sleep.'
'Sure, you with the mid-journey Pokémon,' Brendan retorted. 'Wasn't there a reason why I was chosen to be the King?'
'Boys, boys, settle down,' Leaf said, smirking, 'I think it's obvious who'd be the winner around here: the girl with almost 5 years of experience.'
'Put up or shut up, Leaf,' Ash said, Pikachu leaping onto his arm, 'I haven't just been twiddling my thumbs all the time we were apart, in case you didn't notice.'
'Get in line, Ketchum,' Ethan said, Poké-ball already in hand. Brendan, Lucas, and Cheren all looked similarly enthused at the thought of a battle.
The 6 trainers stared at one another for a long moment, which was suddenly broken by a loud and obnoxious growl. Ash went red. 'Uh, maybe we could hold that off until I get something to eat?' All of them shared a laugh.
'Well, Ash, congratulations on your 15th birthday!' Delia beamed as her son sat down in front of the massive cake, all 15 candles burning brightly on it. Pikachu, perched on his head, smiled admiringly at the yellow cake made exactly in its likeness.
As his friends chorused merrily in the famous birthday song, Ash closed his eyes to think about his wish. Wish for luck in the upcoming Unova League? That would be nice, but with everything that had happened today, he really only had one thing he could wish for…
'Okay, Ash, make a wish and blow them out,' Delia smiled as the song ended.
'I only have one wish,' Ash said, taking a deep breath. With a quick blow, he extinguished all the candles in one puff. 'To have the friendship I have with everyone here last forever, no matter what comes our way.'
Iris groaned. 'Ash, you're such a kid! Don't you know that if you tell someone your birthday wish it won't come true?'
Ash looked at everyone present, from his first travelling companions, all the way to his latest, from his mother, to his mentors, from his old friends, to his new rivals, and finally, to his partner, as they all beamed back at him at his words. Then he looked back at Iris with a smile.
'I don't know, Iris, it looks pretty true to me.'
Wow, my first story on FF completed! Like I said, I got this up before the year ended, so thank you everyone for joining me for the ride! A belated Merry Christmas to all my readers, and an early Happy New Year!
A shout-out to every single one of you who reviewed this story, in particular RandomificationChaotic, Pokemon Connoisseur Lucario, JLgods01, and everyone else with a name up on the Review, Alert, or Favorite Lists. Thanks so much for your feedback and staying with this story to the finish. All the best!
P.S. Anyone who thinks the birthday idea is a little cliche, in my defence, that was my ending idea from the get-go, and since I've never seen Ash have an actual birthday during his entire adventure, I just thought I'd give him one.