This is the first fanfiction for me so we will see how it goes.

This story will take place after the Unova/Best Wishes arc and will assume that Ash has yet to win a League Title and that Team Rocket has been utterly decimated but is still lurking around. Also, aspects from the games and manga will be sprinkled in with the anime with some changes to the characters so that it would work.

Disclaimer: I do not and probably will never own the Pokémon franchise and don't think I would ever be lucky enough to have such an opportunity to do so.

Ch1 the decision

After so many years of traveling, he still has not won a league title. He has come close, yet for some reason he can't quite put together the last pieces needed for that championship title. Sure he has won a few tournaments in the past, the Orange League, and defeated all of the Frontier Brains in his home region of Kanto, but those titles are not close to what this young man of almost nineteen had hoped to achieve.

Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town has always dreamed of becoming a Pokémon Master. There is no denying that he has always dreamt big. It also helps that he always had friends to guide him whenever he went astray and help in attaining that dream.

During his last few travels, he began wondering if just becoming a Pokémon Master is enough, sometimes even wondering if he could even achieve it. He would often think about taking Scott up on his offer to become a Frontier Brain, but would stop himself remembering that he enjoys traveling too much to keep himself cooped up in a Gym type building for too long. Of course he could always ask for a mobile building like Pyramid King Brandon's battle facility, but thought that he might not be able to visit some of his favorite places without attracting a large crowd of people. Sometimes he would wonder how Misty handles constantly being noticed whenever she leaves her Gym in Cerulean and if Brock endured the same while he was Leader of the Pewter Gym. He would expect the same type of crowd if he became a Pokémon Master, but he thought he would have more places to hide in the forests and mountains if he wanted to get away from everyone.

Those were the days, just the three of them, well four if you counted Pikachu. Their meeting was as if by chance. Misty literally fishing him out of the river on his way to Viridian City, and Pikachu fried her bike while trying to escape a flock of Spearow. Brock just got lucky. His dad finally showed his face after a few years of absence and took over the gym while he traveled with Ash and Misty. Some days Ash wished he could rejoin his old friends, convince them to leave their own lives, and travel with him again. He couldn't do it, though. No matter how bad it hurt to separate, he could not stand forcing them to give up their lives just for him. Sure, maybe when he was just starting he could have gotten away with it, but he gained so much wisdom through his travels that he would hate himself for regressing back to his former ways of living.

Ash had changed a lot since he first met Brock and Misty, not just in appearance. He was taller and a little more built, but his hair was just as uncontrollable as ever. He rarely ever wears a hat now, but his attire of black shirt, jeans, and a jacket or vest still remained. His appetite shrank only a little and was more patient as he ate. Even though he stopped making rash decisions all the time, he would still run head on into situations that involved a friend in need. His Pokémon were still some of his best friends he had and always tended to their needs before his own.

Now after his last failed attempt to win a League Championship, Ash decided that it was time to travel on his own starting with a trip to the Orange Islands to unwind. He made sure everyone knew his decision and to expect as many as possible to cheer for him at the next Indigo League Tournament. He thought that this tournament would garner the largest number of friends and family to attendance and would mean the most to him if, no not if, once he won it. It was in Kanto that his journey began, and he felt that it would be a great place to start his final push towards the title of Master.

Ash decided that he would start calling people on the boat ride home. He just finished up talking with Professor Oak about his decision that he decided to finally call his two best friends in the world. First up was Brock. Lucky for Ash, he managed to catch Brock after his classes were done for the day.

"Hello," called a very worn down Brock.

"Hey, Brock, long time no see. How are your classes going?" Ash asked quite enthused to see his friend's face again.

"They're going great. The class load, however, is killing me. Who knew becoming a Pokémon Doctor would become so much work?" Brock replied with quick laugh.

Ash agreed with him. He definitely could not see himself working and studying for as many hours as Brock did. "Sounds great. I was just calling you to say what my plans are. I am planning on traveling on my own until the Indigo League starts up again, but am willing to have some company so that I don't get too lonely. No idea where I will be going, so don't expect me to be in touch all that often. I would ask you to come with me, but I know how much becoming a doctor means to you."

"Thanks, Ash. Well to be honest, I would enjoy traveling with you again. Maybe when I manage to get some time off I can meet up with you for a few weeks."

"That would be great! Next time I call make sure to tell me when that is so we can start planning."

"Anything for you, old friend. Speaking of old friends, when was the last time you talked to Misty?" Brock asked with what to Ash looked like a very mischievous grin on his face.

"It's been a few weeks, but I was planning on calling her after we finished up," Ash replied, almost dreading where the conversation would be heading.

"Is she the last one you are going to talk to before you start your next adventure?"

"Uh, yeah, I was planning on talking to her sooner, but for some reason I just can't seem to figure out what I am going to say to her," Ash said with a faint realization of what he just told Brock.

"I can't imagine why it is taking so long for you to say, 'Hey, I'm going on another journey that will hopefully lead to the Indigo League Title and don't expect me to call all that often because it will be just me and the rest of my Pokémon.' Then again, I'm not the one who has had a crush on her since we met so…"

"Lay off it, Brock. I don't see you with a girlfriend now, do I? I have never taken your relationship advice too seriously, and I don't plan on starting to now." Of course, Ash knew he was right. He just did not want to give Brock the satisfaction of hearing it coming out of his mouth.

"Fine, I will leave it alone, but for your information I just started seeing someone. I won't tell you any more seeing how uninterested you are in the matters of the heart. Besides, I would only be preventing you from making that call. I will talk to you whenever you get a chance. Talk to you later, Ash." With that, the video screen went black with Ash staring at it dumbstruck.