A/N: I got bored and felt like writing something a little extra on this fic, so here's an epilogue. I don't think I'll go on with this one beyond this final add-on, as I'm not one for journey fics. I'll definitely return to writing and eventually finishing my Chosen One series in due time, but I'm still working on my other fics at the moment. At any rate, here's the last chapter.
"…three…two…one…Ready or not, here I come!" a young girl gleefully exclaimed, opening her eyes and bolting up from the living room sofa. Her instincts kicking in, she immediately ran up to the second storey of the building and straight for her parents' bedroom. Creeping up to the closed wardrobe with a cheeky grin on her face, she did not make a sound before suddenly lurching forth and forcefully pulling the handle backwards. A dazed little boy comically fell forward, caught in mid-air by his sister as the two of them collapsed in a heap on the carpet.
"Ow! Mia, why do you have to be so jumpy all of the time?" the boy whined, rubbing the sore on the side of his head.
"Not my fault that the wardrobe is your favourite hiding spot," Mia chuckled. "Really, Dean, you should try something new. It's called 'variation'!"
"Meh, I'm bored already. Let's go down and see what mom and dad are doing," Dean sighed, struggling to get his twin sister off of him.
"Oh, Dean, you're just like dad – always having to rely on other people to clean up after your own mess," Mia laughed as she walked over to tidy the clothes that her brother got into a muddle when he fell out of the wardrobe. "Now help me put these clothes back in their place, and…hey, what's this?" Her eyes darted to a small box which she and her brother had never noticed before.
"Wha…?" Dean blinked, still disorientated from his fall as he gathered himself and got up on his feet.
"Check this out! I wonder what it could be?" Mia smiled, showing such enthusiasm that it was almost as if she discovered a treasure chest. "Let's open it up and find out!"
"Are you sure that's a good idea? Wouldn't mom and dad freak out if they find out that we looked through what's inside?" Dean said with hesitance.
"Oh, don't be such a worry-wart! We'll just open it up for a minute, take a quick look, and then close it back up and put it where it fell out from. There won't be any problem!"
"You're such a chicken, Dean," Mia giggled as she opened the box and rummaged through it, taking out the first piece of paper that her finger brushed upon. "Let's see…what's this we have here? Oh hey! It's a letter to mom from dad! Wow…it's dated more than sixteen years ago."
"Sixteen years ago? I'm surprised that it's not worn out or anything. It looks like it was written just last week!" Dean said incredulously, leaning in to get a closer look at the letter.
22 December 2005
Sinnoh is great, but as always, I'm missing you badly. It's such a shame that your sisters' world trip is a long one. There are so many wonderful water Pokémon here, and I'd have to take lots of photos to send to you sometime.
Dawn's progressing quite nicely. She sure is quite unlike May, both in personality and her training methods. Her confidence in battling has grown much faster than May, and she's going to be competing in her first contest in two weeks in Floaroma Town. We're all excited for her.
We're taking a few days' break in Jubilife City for Christmas. It truly is a massive place compared to Celadon or Saffron back home, and there are countless shops around here. I'm sure I can find you something special that I can send over to you with my next mail. I'll definitely call and write to my mom and send her something good as well. Don't want her to think that I'm ignoring her this week while showering you with attention now, do I? ^^
By the way, last time I called home, mom said she's thinking about heading up to keep you company and take care of you over the Christmas period. She's probably already gotten into contact with you about it, but nonetheless, it really makes me glad that you're being looked after. I've got a good feeling that Sabrina and Haunter will help out as well.
Have a Merry Christmas, Mist. And don't dig in too fast into the chocolate I've sent you. ;)
Love, as always.
"Ugh…dad is so immature," Dean rolled his eyes.
"Coming from you, Dean!" Mia laughed, then instantly pulled out the letter which was directly adjacent to the one she just read. "I feel like reading another one. Oh, I think this is mom's reply!"
27 December 2005
Dear Prince Charming,
Thanks so much for your gifts and letter! We absolutely loved the chocolate you sent over. All the gyms are closed for about a week from Christmas Eve to New Years' Day, so Sabrina zapped in with Erika three days ago to keep us company. We're pretty much having a blast over here. And yes, that means that we almost burned down the kitchen after Haunter gave me the fright of my life while I was cooking. Good thing I live in a Water-type gym, eh? The bad thing is that Gyarados heard the commotion and pretty much flooded the entire place out of panic. Whee…cleaning's so much fun…Thanks, Gyarados…Haunter's fault, not mine! :P
Your mom's kinda driving me nuts at times, though. Being hyper about the thought of "grandchildren" and all. I constantly have to remind her that she's going to have to wait a while for that stuff, haha. She loved the flowers you sent her, though. Well, we all did – Erika most of all. We had to constantly remind ourselves that the flowers were meant for you mom, and not her! But the flowers you sent are so different from those that can be found in Kanto and Johto. It really makes me want to go traveling with you and see the world again when my sisters come back. :)
Hope you like the photo of us we took together on Christmas Day by the tree. I can't remember just how many times we had to retake the photo…Psyduck just wouldn't sit still! Heheheh…
I love you.
"Ergh! Mom's so much worse! Not to mention grandma!" Dean fell back with disgust, unable to handle the romance between his parents.
"Chances are, you're gonna be the same as dad in a couple of years with a girl," Mia grinned.
"Will not!" Dean angrily crossed his arms.
"Will too," Mia continued to tease.
"Will what?" a voice came from the door.
"Eek!" the two children spun around to see their mother, Misty Ketchum, looking on with a curious face at what they were doing. When she realized that they found her letter collection box, Misty's eyes shot up with embarrassment as she bounded over to retrieve her personal effects.
"How on earth did the two of you get your hands on this?!" Misty panicked in a low shriek, quickly shutting the box and putting it back in its old place.
"It's Dean's fault!"
"It's Mia's fault!" they blamed each other, pointing their fingers in unison.
"Whoever's fault it was, your father and I would appreciate it if you would..umm…y'know…not touch our personal things? They're quite sensitive to us," Misty said to them, keeping calm. She took a deep sigh of relief, running her fingers backwards across her scalp and sending back the long strands of her fiery red hair which hung across her face.
"Okay, mom. We're sorry," Mia said with sincerity.
"Don't worry about it. I love you both very much," Misty smiled, kissing her son and daughter on their foreheads. "Now go wash your hands in the bathroom and come down to the kitchen. We'll be having lunch soon."
"Okay," Dean beamed, then walked off with his sister out and across the corridor to the bathroom.
"I'll have to put this away somewhere higher from now on," the proud mother of two chuckled to herself, removing the box from the wardrobe and temporarily slipping it under the bed, deciding that she would find a different place to put it after they finished their meal. She walked out of her bedroom and headed down the stairs of the Cerulean Gym to the kitchen, where her husband Ash was busy setting up the table for lunch.
Sinking into deep thought as she descended the staircase, Misty felt a twinge of both happiness and sorrow. Happiness, because her two beloved children would, in only a matter of weeks, be old enough to begin their own Pokémon journey together and experience all the joy and adventure that she and her husband had enjoyed over twenty years ago. Sorrow, because it meant that her precious chicks would soon be leaving the nest for what would be many months before she could see them again once they finished their endeavors.
The past decade and a half was a very eventful period in Misty's life. After Ash had finally returned from his travels in the Sinnoh region, they once again spent several months living together before leaving for a new journey to the Unova region. Misty's sisters, having returned from their world trip four months previously, were more than willing to let Misty go with Ash, after promising their little sister that they would cut out their old ways of simply handing out badges out of laziness. Ash constantly laughed silently alongside their new friend Cilan, as Misty would often get into heated arguments with Iris, a girl of equal temper and tomboyishness as herself. They had the pleasure of seeing all of the wondrous sights that Unova had to offer, as well as having the opportunity to catch several Pokémon unique to the region: Misty caught herself a Panpour, which eventually evolved into a Simipour, unsettling and defeating many a trainer who came to challenge her for her badge after she returned to Cerulean following the end of their journey.
Ash and Misty remained in contact and on warm terms with all of the good friends they had travelled with. They shared occasional visits with May and Drew from Hoenn, both during their periodic stays at Cerulean before heading off on a new adventure and also after they married. Even Brock, the ever-hopeless romantic, soon struck a fortune of luck as Lucy, the Frontier Brain and Pike Queen, came to visit him in Pewter City all the way from her place near Fuchsia City after catching ear of his growing reputation as a Pokémon Doctor. Similarly, just as Ash had predicted, Dawn had fallen in love with Paul barely a few months after Ash's departure. Cilan and Iris, having developed a strong bond with each other during their travels, also fully grew into a couple not long after they separated with Ash and Misty, who returned to Kanto to move in together at the Cerulean Gym.
Most surprising of all, Jessie and James had quit as members of Team Rocket after an epiphany had befallen them on a day in Unova, when Ash, Misty, Cilan and Iris saved them following an avalanche and snowstorm on a mountain near Icirrus City. Frozen, shivering cold and on the brink of losing consciousness under the massive weight of snow which buried them, Jessie, James and Meowth couldn't believe it when they felt hands pulling them to safety from under the thick blanket of frost which threatened their lives from hypothermia. The four rescuers had even gone as far as to hide the evidence of the Team Rocket members' status within their crooked organization, replacing their clothes with ordinary ones before rushing them to the care of a hospital which nursed them back to health. Out of their eternal gratitude, Jessie, James and Meowth vowed to stop their persistent attempts to steal Pikachu, and returned to Kanto, where James finally convinced his parents to let him marry Jessie after it was revealed that Jessiebelle had given up on James in favor of marrying a rich oil tycoon in Johto. Ash and Misty would visit them once every few months at James' estate, where all of their children would enjoy playing across the multi-acre meadows.
Thinking back to the events of the past made Misty feel that what was fifteen years went by was really just fifteen days. Although she loved her present life as a mother and wife, part of her always yearned to return to the days she spent on the road with Ash and Brock.
"What was that shrieking upstairs about, honey?" Ash looked up at Misty while laying down some napkins and plates on the table.
Misty simply snickered.
"Huh? I don't get it, Mist. What's so funny?" Ash grinned.
"Oh, nothing. It's just that you look just the same as you did many years ago. Just like a kid," Misty teased.
"Eh? 'Just like a kid'?" Ash scratched his head.
Misty smiled and headed to the cooking range to check on the sizzling franks. "Well, your hairstyle never changed, for one. Nor your appetite."
"Some things are hard to change," Ash chuckled, then walked over to her once he finished setting up and kissed her on the cheek. "But really, what was that racket upstairs about?"
"Erm…the kids…uhh…" Misty stammered, going red in embarrassment.
"…?" Ash leaned in, wrapped his arm around her waist and gave her a curious look.
"They found our box of letters. You know – the ones we used to write to each other when we were young. They leapt with fright when I walked in on them in our bedroom."
"Oh…" Ash bit his lower lip, similarly starting to go red in the face.
"Good thing that they're soon gonna forget all about them, though. After all, their joint tenth birthday is coming up," Misty reminded him.
"Ahh…that's right," Ash said, a mixture of brightness and disappointment in his voice.
"You feel the same way, huh?" Misty said as she removed the franks from the frying pan and placed them on the plates, along with some pieces of bread.
"Yeah. I can't believe that time has gone so quickly. What I'd give to go back to those days. No disrespect to the kids, of course," Ash joked.
"Doesn't every tired parent feel the same?" Misty grinned and kissed her husband on the lips, before going somber. "It's not going to be the same without the kids around, though…"
Ash tried his best to lighten up his wife's attitude. "Come on, Mist, it can't be that bad, could it? After all, they're definitely going to come around in due time for your badge."
"Yeah, I know, but…it's just sad to know that this time has finally come. I can imagine your mom feeling the same way when you departed for your own journey. She coped with your absence just fine because she's a person who's very strong on the inside, but…I just don't know if it will be the same case with me…"
"I'm sure you'll be just fine, honey," Ash tenderly laid his hand on her shoulder to reassure her. "Besides, look on the bright side: we can finally have a long trip of our own! How long has it been since we've been able to go travelling like we used to years ago?"
"I know. I'm just…"
"A worry-wart? True that," Ash laughed, receiving a smirk and a poke to the chin from Misty in response.
"You know what? I think you're right, Ash," Misty began to brighten up. "Maybe I am worrying too much. After all, we've taught them a lot about Pokémon over the past few years, haven't we? I'm sure they'll be able to take care of themselves and each other. Heh, they might even be able to meet their future husband or wife, like you and I did." She winked cheekily at him.
"Too much, too soon, Mist," Ash chuckled and shook his head. "But hey, why are the kids taking so long to come downstairs?"
"Knowing them, Dean's probably made a puddle while washing his hands, and Mia's being a bossy little girl like me and watching him clean it up. Who knows?" Misty remarked. "Come on, let's continue setting up for lunch. I know all too well that your stomach has its limits."
"So is that a 'yes' from you?"
"A 'yes' to what?" Misty asked, puzzled.
"Travelling again. Y'know – after the kids come by for their gym battle and you lose to them on purpose," Ash chortled.
"Who says I'm going to lose to them on purpose? I'm not like my sisters, y'know," Misty gave him a comical glare with a smile. "But yeah, definitely. I could use another adventure. Just promise me one thing, Ash."
"What's that, Mist?"
Misty walked over and gave him a warm hug as she looked up into his eyes. "No Bug Pokémon, okay?"
Ash laughed softly, drew Misty in close and kissed her on the forehead.