Disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon or any related characters.
A Pokemon fanfiction by Nocturne of Eclipse.
It had been seven years since Ash had started his pokemon journey. Seven long years, filled with trials, tribulations, and rivals that were all total dicks. It had been several months since he'd left for home from his travels with Pikachu riding reliably on shoulder, and when he'd shown his mother his trophy from the League, she'd been so proud- he was just like his father, she said, always getting stronger, never slowing down until he was sure he would come out on top. He wasn't exactly thrilled by the news, as his father had always been a bit of a sore spot for him, what with the never being home and never calling. In fact, the last time he'd actually seen his father face-to-face was when he was thirteen and the Kanto League got put off due to issues with the Plateau, or something. Honestly, he didn't really care. All that mattered now was that he was home.
His room seemed smaller than he remembered, but as he went in and tossed his bag to the corner, the familiar warmth soothed his travel-weary mind, and he flopped down on his bed. Pikachu grinned and hopped up after him, curling up on his chest. Ash smiled and scratched his little friend behind the ear, just where he liked it.
"You know, Pikachu," he said after a moment in which the two friends were completely silent, "no matter how much fun it is to travel, it's always nice to come home."
"Pika, Pikapi!" the little mouse agreed. He arched his back as Ash petted him, "chaaaaa"ing in delight. It had been such a long time since they had first left Pallet. Ash had grown, now standing at a little under six feet; his black hair was pulled into a small ponytail at the base of his neck, and he had long ago returned to his vintage red League cap. He was a fine young man, people would say, a real talented contender in whichever League he entered. He wasn't exactly famous, but he was still well-known, and he enjoyed it whenever a random bystander asked when his next Gym battle was, so they could go see it.
Pikachu, of course, grew more lean and wirey with every year, and as always, was powerful enough to clear most of a region on his own. Ash was endlessly proud of the electric-type's strength, and he probably bragged a little bit too much, seeing as Jessie, James, and Meowth were still stalking him everywhere he went. It actually got to the point where the two parties worked out a deal- as long as The trio didn't try to ruin Gym or League battles, Ash would let them camp out with him, and share his food. And speaking of food... Ash's stomach growled loudly, soon followed by Pikachu's. The two friends paused and stared at each other before they began laughing.
"I guess we should go find something to eat!" Ash chuckled.
"Pi, pikachu!" Pikachu waited for him to sit up, then scampered up his arm to sit on his shoulder. After making sure the mouse was balanced (there had been some embarrassing and rather funny episodes in which Pikachu had fallen off in recent years), Ash set off, heading down the stairs to the kitchen. He paused upon seeing the door to his mother's room closed, and turned his gaze to Pikachu, holding a finger to his lips. Pikachu nodded, and lowered himself to get a better grip. Ash tiptoed to the fridge, wincing at the suction-y sound as it opened. There were some Lunchables on the bottom shelf, and some fries left over from dinner. He grabbed three of the Lunchables, the fries, and Pikachu's ketchup bottle. Not wanting to risk dropping anything going back up the stairs, the two made their way into the living room and sat down at the coffee table, where Pikachu ignored the fries, popped the top off the ketchup, and began to eat it.
"Hey." Ash tapped Pikachu lightly with a backhand. "We talked about this."
"Pikaaaa...!" Pikachu protested, hugging onto his ketchup.
"I'm not gonna take it away from you, Pikachu, but you can't eat just straight up ketchup, it's bad for you." Pikachu pouted and drowned the fries in ketchup. Ash smiled around his crackers.
It was about then that the doorbell rang, and Ash groaned as he cast a glance in the direction of his mom's room. He stood, leaving Pikachu to his ketchup-y devices and went to open the door. He was surprised, needless to say, when he found an Officer Jenny, Prof. Oak, and a man that looked suspiciously like him on his doorstep.
"Good evening, Mr. Ketchum," Officer Jenny said, "sorry to bother you so late. May we come in?" Ash stared at them all for a second.
"Er- yeah, sure." He stood back and watched them enter, glaring at the final man as he passed, and closed the door behind them.
"Ash, who's visiting at this hour?" Delia came out from her room, yawning, and paused when she saw who it was. "Oh... what's the matter? Did Ash do something illegal?" Ash rolled his eyes.
"No, nothing like that, Delia," Oak laughed. "It's about Team Rocket." Ash's eyes widened.
"Jessie and James?" he asked. "Are they alright?" The third man grinned.
"Worried about those petty thieves, kiddo?" he asked, petting Pikachu. Ash sneered.
"They're my friends," he growled.
Oh, Ash, Red, don't start this again," Delia sighed. "Can't you two get along for once?"
"Hey, I tried the whole father-son bonding thing!" Red protested. "He just doesn't care!"
"Well maybe if you'd been home a little more often, I would!" Ash snapped. Red threw his hands up in exasperation, as if saying "see? see what happens?"
"I'm sorry," Jenny broke in, "but can we return to the task at hand?" Red sighed, and Oak nodded. "Your friends are alright. We have them in a secure area where they will remain under the state's protection."
"You mean you arrested them?" Ash blinked. Say what you will about Team Rocket, but if one thing was certain, they were good at getting away.
"No, they sought us out." At Ash's raised eyebrows, Officer Jenny continued. "It seems as though for the past four years, they've been on the run. They stayed mostly out of Kanto, which is Team Rocket's main sphere of influence- they say if they're caught, they'll be executed." Ash's eyebrows, if possible, rose further.
"...Executed? For what?" He laughed uncomfortably. "They can't do anything that would make them that important to Team Rocket!"
"Maybe not on purpose..." Everyone's attention shifted to Oak; he gazed back at them somberly. "I spent some time talking with them at the safe house. It seems they saw something they weren't supposed to." Ash snorted.
"What would they see within their own organization that would merit this response?" Delia asked quietly. Red glanced at her fleetingly before turning his gaze to the window.
"I think you have an idea, Dels," he murmured. Delia shook her head.
"Those experiments ended with my mother's reign," she sighed. "Giovanni was never much interested in them."
"Giovanni, the leader of the Viridian Gym?" Ash rubbed his temples. "...Mom, are you saying he's...?"
"My brother? The head of Team Rocket?" She smirked. "Yes. But records show I hold many grudges against my brother, so nothing I say could possibly land him in prison." Ash frowned deeply and turned his gaze to Red.
"Did you know about this?" He asked. Red nodded.
"Yeah, pretty much." He smiled. "Our family dynamics are more screwy than a magnemite." Ash sighed. The sad part was, he knew it was true.
"I'm afraid it may be the very experiments you're thinking of, Delia," Oak said. "Jessie and James spoke of odd, illogical Pokemon, and labs they'd never seen in use, before." Delia stared hard at the floor, her brow furrowed in thought.
"Which leads us to why we're here," Officer Jenny added. She directed her gaze to Ash. " Jessie and James also mentioned that you've been fighting Team Rocket for seven years- your track record with them is quite amazing." Ash snorted.
"Fighting them?" He shook his head. "Not hardly. Two of their little groups kept finding me- Jess and James, and then those other two, Biff and Cassidy. I only battled them because they showed up."
-MEANWHILE, IN A REMOTE LOCATION IN KANTO...-
Butch paused from collecting the PokeCenter's pokeballs and blinked, confused. Cassidy glanced over at him when she heard him stop.
"Hey, Butch, what's the hold up?" she asked boredly. Butch frowned thoughtfully.
"I'm not sure," he replied, "but I just got the strangest urge to say 'th' name's BUTCH'."
"Oh, don't start this again, those twerps are hundreds of miles away. Get back to work." Butch remained frowning for a moment, then shrugged, and returned to stealing the pokemon.
-BACK IN PALLET...-
"They mentioned that, as well," Jenny conceded. "However, this is a pretty good advantage for you- there are enough members of Team Rocket that know you who can vouch for your skill, but not enough to ruin you." Delia's head snapped up.
"Are you implying what I think you are...?" she asked. When no one said otherwise, she continued. "For Mew's sake, he's a child, not a spy!"
"Delia, if your brother is doing what we think he's doing, we may not have a choice!" Red replied. "Ash is the only trainer we can all agree on that has the ability to pull this off!"
"Before you ship me off somewhere I'll regret, what exactly are we talking about, here...?" Ash asked carefully. "I mean, it sounds like you want me to... well... steal stuff from Team Rocket..."
"Nothing quite that simple, I'm afraid," Oak sighed. "Ash... I'm going to be straight forward with you. We want you to join Team Rocket." Ash immediately began choking on a cracker. Delia pounded his back as he coughed, and once his throat was clear, he spoke.
"Are you insane?" he cried. "You want me to what?" Red grinned broadly.
"You heard the man, Ashy," he laughed. "You get to be a spy! Isn't that what you always wanted to be when you were little?"
"No!" Ash replied. "I wanted to be a fucking artist!"
"Language," Delia chided lightly. She placed her hand on Ash's. "Honey... I don't like this any more than you do..."
"Then tell them I won't do it!" he said desperately. She silenced him with a somber stare.
"...But if what Professor Oak said is true... then it's very, very important that this happens. I know it sounds frightening..."
"Frightening? Frightening? It's downright terrifying!" Ash stood abruptly. "I follow the news, I know the stories! Pokemon Center holdups where trainers die trying to protect their pokemon, assassinations with mysterious notes left behind, the fact that no matter how hard they try, the League just can't find any of their bases!" He glanced around at all of them. "And to top it off, I've been getting in their way since day one- if I get caught, they'd murder me! Did any of you think of that? Do you care?" When no one replied, he let out a frustrated growl and headed for the door. Pikachu sprang off of Red's lap and followed him outside. They slammed the door behind them.
"Pikapi..." Pikachu stared up at him, looking rather concerned.
"Come on, Pikachu...," Ash muttered. He waited for the yellow mouse to climb up onto his shoulder, and he began to walk, not really sure where he was going.
This was insane. They were all insane. As harmless as Jessie and James were, the rest of Team Rocket was ruthless. One wrong move, and they would all be on him like a pack of rabid houndour. He wasn't cut out for spy work, he just wasn't, and he always knew it. When he was little, his father had told him the story of how he'd infiltrated a Rocket base, only to stumble across the creation of a weird, cat-like Pokemon. In retrospect, it was probably Mewtwo, and Ash briefly wondered if Team Rocket was trying to make a second. If that were the case, it would be very beneficial to have someone on the inside who could sabotage the project... but was he really the best option?
He paused by Oak's ranch and leaned on the wooden fence, staring out at the sleeping pokemon and active nocturnal pokemon. He wondered how all of his pokemon were doing- perhaps he'd visit them in the morning. Pikachu scampered off his shoulder to perch on the fence, staring out as well.
"Maybe it's a good idea," Ash finally said. "Maybe I really am the best man for the job."
"Pika, pi pikachu pikachaa," Pikachu replied. He glanced up at Ash and smiled comfortingly. Ash grinned in reply and scratched him behind the ear.
"Yeah, I guess we've worn the uniforms before, haven't we? Duplica sure knew how to make a good costume. And Jess and James have been following us around for Mew knows how long. I'll bet we picked up the spirit of the Rocket sometime along the way." He chuckled. "Mew, if I didn't know us, I'd say we really were insane."
"Pikapi chu pi-!" Pikachu stopped abruptly, mid-sentence, and turned his gaze quickly towards Oak's house, his ears perking up.
"What's up?" Ash asked. "Something wrong, Pikachu?" Pikachu leaped off the fence and dashed towards the house; Ash followed him. As they approached, the first thing he noticed was the door kicked off its hinges. The second were the muddy boot-prints trekking into the house. "Oh, Mew fuck it."
"Hey, who the hell do you think you are? This is my grandfather's lab, dumbass, get the hell out!" came the unmistakable voice of one Gary oak. Ash stopped in his tracks.
"Get out of the way, kid!" came the gruff reply. "Or is this something to risk your life over?" There was the click of metal; Ash's eyes widened.
"Ha, like you could hit me! Look how bad your hand's shaking- you're new at this aren't you?"
"Atlas, put the gun down!" a third voice growled. "Phantom said no guns!" Someone took a step.
"I'm warning you!" the first voice cried, a little panicked. "Stay back!"
"Listen to your partner, Atlas," Gary said sternly. "Put the gun down."
"I SAID STAY BACK!"
BANG. There was a heavy thud; Ash's eyes widened. There was the sounds of scrambling and angry growls as two pairs of footsteps jolted towards the exit. Ash was barely able to see them as they passed, their chests emblazoned with the tell-tale "R". He didn't stand in their way as they fled, and he guessed one of them was in possession of a bird pokemon, as it almost appeared as though he sprouted wings and flew away. The other screamed after him, panicked, and scrambled when he realized his partner wasn't coming back for him.
"Pikapi, Pikakapi!" Pikachu cried, snapping Ash out of his stunned state.
"R-right!" He replied, turning back to the stairs and bolting up them. There was a single light on at the end of the hall. Ash ran into the room and stopped in his tracks, freezing at the sight before him. Gary was doubled over, pressing a hand to the bloody bullet hole in his chest. "Gary! Oh, Mew, Gary!" Ash was instantly at his childhood friend's side, moving his hand to check the wound. It wasn't terrible- it seemed that Rocket, Atlas was a terrible shot, and missed his heart completely, though the amount of blood coming from the wound wasn't terrible comforting. Wasting no time, Ash removed his jacket and wadded it up, pressing it to the wound and replacing Gary's hand over it. "Gary, are you with me?"
"Ashy-boy...?" Gary mumbled, grimacing. Ash's lips twitched slightly.
"Not dead, huh? I knew you were stubborn. I'm gonna call an ambulance, alright? Pikachu, can you help him hold this, please?" Pikachu made a face at the blood, but obliged, applying as much pressure to the wound as he could. Ash himself stood and wiped his hand off on his jeans as he fished through his pocket with the other for his SmartGear. He dialed 119 and waited for someone to answer before calmly requesting an ambulance to Professor Oak's house. Once the operator commended him on his calmness in the face of the situation, he hung up and instead dialed his home phone. It was his mother who answered.
"Mom!" Ash cast a quick glance down at Gary. "Mom, I'm at Professor Oak's house, right now. Are he and Officer Jenny still over?"
"Yes, they are, why? Did something happen?"
"Yeah," Ash replied. "Gary was shot."
"WHAT?" Ash winced as he heard the immediate outbreak of panic on the other end of the line, and continued to listen as Officer Jenny told Oak to go with her in her squad car. After his mother assured him they would be right there, Ash returned to Gary and Pikachu.
"You're gonna be okay, Gary," he said softly. "Your grampa's coming with Officer Jenny, and an ambulance is on its way, alright?" Gary managed a lop-sided smirk.
"When did you get so damn responsible...?" he murmured. He seemed to regret shifting as he spoke, because he immediately gritted his teeth as his face contorted in pain. "Mew damn, getting shot hurts...!"
"Just don't move, Gary, alright?" Slowly, Ash placed a hand on his hair. "Just stay still and try not to aggravate it. Everything's gonna be okay." For once, Gary listened to him, and the three of them sat in silence until they heard the sirens approach. Ash had Pikachu remain with Gary as he rushed down the stairs to meet the paramedics. Oak and Jenny arrived just as they were taking him out to the ambulance. Oak's face was whiter than a reshiram, and he didn't say a word as he climbed in after his grandson. As the vehicle sped off, Officer Jenny turned her attention to Ash.
"You did a good job, Ketchum," she said, smiling. "I'm impressed by how calm you've been able to stay through this." Ash tried to smiled back.
"Thanks, I guess," he replied. "I just did what I had to. Gary's my friend, there's no way I was gonna let him die or anything. So I'm guessing you want my statement, huh?" The officer laughed.
"Somehow, I think you aren't new to this."
"Well, this is the first shooting I've ever had to worry about, but I've given plenty of statements regarding PokeCenter heists." Jenny chuckled again as she checked her watch.
"Well, I can either take your statement now, or we can wait until after Mr. Oak's surgery so Sam can hear, too." Ash paused and thought on that before staring out after the ambulance's blinking lights in the distance.
"It's not a very long statement," he replied quietly. "But I do think I'd like to make sure Gary's alright before I talk about it." Jenny nodded.
"Alright. Shotgun, or you wanna take a ride in the back of the car?" Ash couldn't help but grin.
"If I sit in the back, does that mean you gotta handcuff me?"
"Only if you want me to."
"I think I'll take shotgun." After waiting for Ash to buckle up and get a good grip on Pikachu, Officer Jenny shifted into drive and pulled out into the street, driving off towards the hospital. There was virtually no traffic, considering it was about one in the morning, now, and so it didn't take long for them to arrive, though it seemed Gary and Prof. Oak beat them by about ten minutes. Oak glanced up at them as they entered the waiting room, and offered them a strained smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, which Ash awkwardly returned. He took the seat next to Oak and watched as Pikachu hopped across the small gap to the elderly man's shoulder. Oak petted Pikachu's head gently, and Pikachu seemed content to let the man find comfort in his staticy fur.
"They say he shoulder be okay," the professor said at long last. "They said it missed his heart, and the bleeding isn't terrible, just that he was nearly in shock." He glanced at Ash. "Thank you. Thank you for taking care of him."
"I wish I hadn't had to," Ash sighed. "I wanted to go in and try and stop them, but I was scared I would screw up and he'd get shot anyways..." Oak patted him on the shoulder.
"Either way, you did good." He turned his gaze to Jenny. "Do you know what happened, Officer?" Jenny shook her head.
"No,"she replied, "but Ash was going to give me his statement once Gary came out of surgery."
"It may be a while," Oak said. "They've got to get the bullet out, and it's delicate work." The adults turned a questioning gaze to Ash, who shrugged.
"Alright," he said, "I guess I can tell you now." And he gave them the entire story, how he'd ended up going to Oak's ranch after the little episode at home, and how Pikachu had heard something weird. He had gotten as far as recognizing the duo that ran as members of Team Rocket when he was finally interrupted.
"What did they steal?" Ash blinked.
"I'm sorry?" he asked. Jenny cocked an eyebrow.
"If they were in Sam's house, they must have been after something. Did you see what they stole?" she clarified. Ash thought on that for a moment before shaking his head.
"Unless Professor Oak keeps flying-types in his house, I don't think so. One of them flew away, and the other ran off towards West Wood." Jenny's eyes widened.
"West Wood?" she replied eagerly. "He may be lost in there. Is that the whole story, Ash?" Ash nodded and watched as Jenny began talking excitedly into her walkie-talkie. After getting some of her squad to back her up in coming the West Wood, she excused herself and bolted for the door. Ash and Oak were silent for a while after she left.
"Hope they catch him," Ash murmured after a moment. Oak didn't answer. Ash peered curiously at him. "Do you think they will?"
"I'm not sure," the professor sighed. "It's night time, and from the sounds of it, it was a field agent. He'll have the advantage." He continued to pet Pikachu, who seemed to be falling asleep. "This probably didn't endear you to the idea of spying, did it?" Ash shook his head slowly.
"No offense, but I don't want to end up like Gary," he said dryly. Oak snorted, lips curling in amusement.
"No one ever does, Ash," he said quietly. "No one ever does. But..." He glanced out the window to the darkness pressing in on the building. "I... can't help but shake the feeling that somehow, this was related to what Jessie and James saw. Ash..." There was pain and panic in the professor's eyes, and for once he actually seemed his age. Ash couldn't help but feel a pang of guilt. "This time I'm begging you. On behalf of Gary. Ash, please, go through with this- whatever Team Rocket is up to, it needs to end, before anyone else can get hurt." Ash sighed and reached over to scratch Pikachu's ear.
"I don't think it'll be that simple, Professor," he said earnestly, "but... I... guess I can at least try. For Gary's sake." Immediately, Oak grabbed Ash in a tight hug, and no more words were spoken. The time passed silently, and Pikachu fell asleep as the two men eventually found themselves staring out at the gimpy streetlight. Eventually, a nurse called for them, and they followed her to find Gary sleeping peacefully in one of the hospital beds, stitched up and almost good as new. Ash stayed long enough to leave a bar of Gary's favorite chocolate on the bedside table, and bidding Oak goodbye and to let Gary know he would visit him later, left, carrying a sleeping Pikachu home.
His mother was glad to hear that Gary was okay, and his father simply snored, as he was passed out on the couch, his own Pikachu curled up on his chest. Delia sent him to bed before he could get the chance to badmouth Red, and though Ash was certain neither Rocket had seen his face, he still left the light on as he changed into his pajamas and slipped under the covers, placing Pikachu on the pillow, next to his cheek. As he drifted off to sleep, he couldn't help but feel a little like he was conned into agreeing to spy for the League.
Mew damn his conscience.
Alright, soooooo, first chapter. Whooooo. I got the idea for this one day while I was trying to take a nap in my study period, but this kid on the other side of the room wouldn't shut up. So then I downloaded an app for my phone and started writing it. I've been wanting to do something focused more on the anime characters for a long time, and yay, finally, I did it! The title for this story comes from the idea of certain crime organizations where, if you try to leave, they kill you, which I'm sure there's plenty of. I'm sure there's also people wondering why I decided to make Giovanni Ash's uncle instead of his father, and that's just because I'm using the Silver character (who's going by a different name, here) and don't want to have this whole long thing about why they'd be brothers and don't know each other. Mostly because that would be annoying to do and I'm lazy.
Either way, please review, I'm always looking for feedback. And knowing people actually read my stories can help keep me motivated, if you want more chapters.
Seriously, the button's right down there.