Oh hello everyone! Sad to say that this is the final chapter! Gosh... it seems to have come to this so soon, but everything must come to an end. I bet you are all wondering what Ash will decide, will he stay or go?

If you was him what would you do?

The title of this chapter was named after a Stratovarius song called Keep the Flame, I thought it really fitted with the meaning of the chapter.

Anyway, I shall not keep you any longer, enjoy the final chapter!

Chapter Twenty: Keep the Flame

I literally watched the ice cubes melt in my drink as I just stared into nothingness.

I was meant to be enjoying myself, a day out with my oldest and closest friend yet all I could think about was what Gary had asked of me. He wanted me to go with him back to Sinnoh to start a new life together, but even though the offer was incredibly tempting something was holding me back.

Was it all the memories that tied me to this place?

"Ash... are you feeling okay?" Misty enquired, looking at me with large azure eyes.

I quickly snapped out of my thought and gave a small nod. I didn't want to burden her any more with all my shit, she had been told enough about my problems.

"Stop thinking about him Ash, you are meant to forget all that for now and just enjoy yourself,"

I watched as the red headed girl sipped her orange juice through a straw as she continued staring at me. I sighed, now deciding to watch the activity going on inside the coffee shop. It was a small quaint shop, nothing too fancy yet we used to go here quite often when we were younger.

It held a lot of pleasant memories, that was probably the reason she bought me back.

"I know... I'm sorry," I mumbled apologetically, not wanting to be a mood killer.

I couldn't help but think about the proposition, it was either I go with him or I never see him again. It wasn't something I could easily decide. Misty sighed.

"You don't have to apologise about it, I just wish you would forget about him for just a little while. It isn't doing you any good you know,"

I nodded, agreeing with her entirely.

It was incredibly bad for my health, all this constant worrying but I just could not help it. I wished he never received that phone call telling him about his duties back in Sinnoh, I wished he never wanted to go back there and I wished he wanted to stay here with me forever.

Whilst thinking about it I could feel my chest start to tighten considerably, like I could not breathe. Closing my eyes for a moment I struggled for air, knowing that it was all his fault. As I said before it's like he is my oxygen, the only thing that keeps me alive and slowly it was being taken from me.

"Ash..." Misty soothed, reaching out to rub my arm affectionately across the table.

I swallowed hard, knowing that seeing me like this must be destroying her.

"I just.. wish he never gave me the choice..." I muttered pathetically, once again staring into my drink, watching the last remnant of my ice begin to dissolve.

Misty sighed, I could almost feel her concern radiating off every inch of the room.

"Then he would be even more of an ass hole than he already is. At least he gave you a choice, he could of given you an ultimatum instead,"

Okay she was right, I suppose that was something I could be thankful for.

Even if I refused there wouldn't be any negativity from either of us, but still the thought of living in this world without him by my side was too hard to bear. Misty continued rubbing my arm as she just stared at me, probably wishing all my troubles away.

"At the end of the day it is your decision, I know it is hard to choose between the past and the future, but you have to decide. Gary is your future, and we are all in the past and as much as I don't want to say it... you need to move on and be happy with him. You deserve that"

I now raised my eyes to hers and saw that azure colouring just sparkling with emotion.

I knew it took a lot for her to say those words to me, she despised the idea of me leaving Kanto to start a new life somewhere else, yet she managed to put all that aside for me.

"But... I feel like I am running away,"

And it really did feel that way.

My Mom was dead and when I should be more concerned about the funeral arrangements I was too wrapped up in my own stupid problems. That was the main issue for me to contend with.

"Then run away Ash, do what you have to do to be happy. If that is with Gary then... do it,"

My eyes widened as she looked away, obviously pained by the thought of not seeing me as often any more if I left.

I frowned, wishing she put up more of a fight, stood her ground with me and told me straight that there was no way I would leave with him. It just seemed like she had no energy to fight it any more.

"I... I..." I tried speaking but nothing made sense any more.

A part of me longed to stay with him, but another part was scared. I was scared of leaving all my memories and friends behind again. When I left before it was for a different reason, I was striving to become a Pokemon Master so I had a goal to aim for, now it was only for my own selfish needs.

"I am sick and tired of watching everything fall apart and not being able to do anything about it. Not any more Ash, if my support is what you need to be able to decide then you have it. I don't... want to watch you suffer any more,"

Her words were full of emotion and sadness as she took another sip from her juice, trying to hide the fact that it was actually upsetting her. I could see it in her eyes, and I could see it in her forced smile.

"Misty..." I muttered, also feeling very sad.

It was as if she could feel all my pain, all my suffering and it was channelling into her, making her just as miserable as myself. All the pain I wanted it to end, for both of us.

I reached out without thinking and grabbed her hand. Her eyes widened at my actions as I just gripped onto it for dear life. I needed her to know that I did care about her in some way.

"Thank you,"

She smiled and pulled her hand away.

"You are welcome, now enough of this depressing talk, I feel like I want to stick my head in a gas oven right now,"

We both chuckled at her comment and continued drinking our juice. Even though the words she had said were very powerful and obviously took a lot of effort for her to tell me I was grateful she did.

She supported whatever I chose, and that was a great relief.

"Yeah.. sorry about that,"

"I swear if you apologise one more time I am going to make you pay for the dinner," She threatened playfully, making me laugh once again.

It was nice to actually laugh and not want to cry constantly. It had been so long since I had felt truly happy, without a care in the world. The last time I felt that way was when I confessed to Gary about my feelings and he reciprocated them.

That was the happiest day of my life.

"I know I said no more depressing stuff but, have you decided any details about the funeral yet?"

I actually hadn't, even though I really should have. It was coming up soon but I guess the reason why I kept putting off was so I could think some more about eloping with Gary.

I just needed more time.

"No... I haven't,"

"Do you want me to help? I don't mind you know,"

I smiled weakly, happy that I had so much support during these tough days. Having someone other than Gary help arrange the funeral might actually be a good thing. I nodded.

"Yeah, you can if you like,"

"Good, then it will take some weight off your shoulders and you can concentrate on spending more time with Gary. It might help you decide after all, but seriously don't worry about me or Brock, or anyone else. Think about what you want for a change,"

Nodding I knew she was right.

Perhaps if I just stopped fretting over it so much I could actually enjoy our company for how ever long we had left.

"Yeah okay then, but isn't it a bit much for you to take on? I mean... organising a funeral is a big ask..."

"..And I wouldn't have offered if I didn't think I could manage it" She finished my sentence giving me one of those stares which made me shut up completely.

Okay, so I shouldn't doubt her capability.

I drank the remainder of my juice and just relaxed in my chair, feeling the subtle warmth of the coffee shop sink into my bones. It was so comforting.

"I'll get Brock, May and Dawn to help out too, I am sure they wouldn't mind" Misty thought out loud, twiddling the straw between her fingers.

I blinked.

Wow, so she wanted to get everyone to help? It still seemed like a big ask, what if the others were busy with things? Still I thought better to question her judgement.

"Alright then," I mumbled, smiling.

As we both sat there just smiling at each other I actually felt like I could finally see light at the end of the tunnel, that there was a way out of this mess and it wouldn't involve an unhappy ending.

Maybe I could be happy after all.

A week passed in quick succession as Misty organised everything for the funeral.

She even managed to contact everyone, Brock, May and Dawn, who were all too happy to help out. It really was endearing to know that all my friends put together to make it all possible. Of course they all asked me if what they planned was suitable or not but the majority of the time it was absolutely perfect.

It was coming to the point where I was silently happy that we could all make Mom's funeral so perfect, it was what she deserved after all.

Whilst my friends were all busy deciding on the flowers for the funeral service I had taken some time out to spend with Pikachu. We had decided to find a quiet wooded area at the back of the laboratory to just chill and relax.

After all, we both needed some quiet and time to ourselves.

"I can't believe that the funeral is in a few days..." I mumbled to the small yellow mouse, who nodded in response.

I sighed, pulling my knees up to my chest as I rested my head against a tree. It was weird, time seemed to just fly past and soon it would be the day of the funeral, the day of my decision.

"Pikachu..." I muttered, watching as my companion looked at me curiously.

It was time to ask for his opinion too.

"Do you think we should stay here after the funeral, or go with Gary?"

I watched as Pikachu's eyes flickered for a moment before he frowned, obviously not liking the decision either.

"Pika... chuuu..." He whined.

I knew why he was feeling like that though, over the past couple of weeks he had become very attached to Gary's Eevee, so attached in fact they literally went everywhere together so, if I didn't go with Gary then Pikachu would have to be parted from Eevee.

"I know... but do you think it is the right choice? It just feels like I am running away from all my problems,"

"Chuuu," Was his response.

I sighed again, knowing that Pikachu would choose for us to leave so he could stay close to Eevee. It was only natural.

Closing my eyes for a moment I felt a gentle breeze tousle my hair and then dissipate into the atmosphere. My emotions were like a hurricane right now, and nothing made any sense.

I was feeling sad about saying goodbye to my Mom for the last time and perhaps saying goodbye to the best part of my life, the part that I had spent with Gary. The more I thought about it the more inclined I was to stay here.

Maybe it was because I wasn't a coward, not any more.


Pikachu's ears flickered as we both detected that famous call.

It was Gary's Eevee, and she was bounding over to us. If she was here then Gary would be close by too and that thought made my stomach knot violently. Having him around, pestering me for an answer wouldn't help me out right now but of course it was to be expected.

Pikachu beamed a huge smile as Eevee tackled him to the ground playfully.

I could not help but smile, it seemed the two of them were so close right now, just as happy as Gary and I was.

"I thought I would find you here," Came that oh so familiar tone that a part of me loved and hated at the same time.

I knew it was Gary and as my eyes raised towards the distance I saw his figure walking towards me, hands in his pockets.

Now this would be awkward, trying to come to a decision with him being here, how was it possible?

I watched as the taller boy sat beside me and just looked at our Pokemon companions playing in the long grass. The sight was so incredibly cute.

"Pikachu really likes Eevee..." I murmured sadly, sighing a little.

I didn't want him to be just as heartbroken as myself if I chose to stay here, it was unfair for him.

"It seems that way, but I must admit... it is kind of cute to see them playing together,"

I smiled weakly, leaning against the tree for support. My heart just felt as if parts of it were slowly dying, fading into nothingness and a numb feeling was beginning to consume me.

"I... just received another phone call," Gary muttered, turning to look up at the cloudless sky.

I watched as he sighed heavily which pushed me to ask;

"About the Shinx's?"

He nodded and bowed his head.

The news must have been bad for him to behave like this, did he have to leave sooner? I prayed not, as much as I hated the thought of Pokemon being hurt I hated the thought of Gary leaving even more.

"They really need my help back in Sinnoh... I can't put it off for much longer..."

I mentally flinched, not liking what I was hearing.

So basically even if I asked him to stay he would still go regardless. So what option did I have here?

I bit my lip and was a little reluctant to say anything.

"Have you thought any more about leaving with me? Or... do you need more time?" He questioned looking at me with those alluring emerald eyes of his.

Time, we didn't have enough of time. No amount of time would be enough right now.

I closed my eyes, trying to steady my nerves as my stomach continued to knot violently.

"I... need more time..."


I knew he was upset with me with not being able to come to a decision so easily, when it probably should have been, but a part of me was holding back.

I felt his hand on my own and squeeze gently, trying to offer some form of comfort, but nothing would be good enough right now. I was being so selfish, so unlike my usual self but, I could not help it.

I didn't want to run away, I just needed support.

"What if...I wanted to stay?" I managed to utter, feeling my body start to tremble slightly as I already knew what his answer would be without him even saying it.

There was no way he would stay, not even for me.

He frowned and squeezed my hand tightly, almost frightened to let it go.

"I... can't stay here Ash... as much as I want to. I have to go back to make sure those Shinx are okay, it's my job now... I can't neglect my duties... as much as I would want to..."

And it was now my heart started to sink into a never ending pit of despair.

I felt like crying but nothing would come out of my eyes any more, I really was all cried out.

Weakly nodding I understood where I stood now and that it really was a make or break decision.

"I understand..."

"Why is it so hard for you to come to Sinnoh with me? What's keeping you here?" He asked me, looking deep into my eyes, trying to search my soul for the answers.

Well, what was keeping me here? Was I just clinging onto shreds of hope that staying here would allow Mom's memory to stay alive?

I could feel my bottom lip quiver as I struggled to speak.

"It feels... wrong. I don't want to run away from my problems Gary... and that is what it feels like. I don't want to run away from... Mom,"

Now I felt pathetic.

Gary shook his head and pulled me into an embrace.

I held onto his shirt tightly, as if it was a lifeline. Closing my eyes tightly I didn't want him to leave me.

"Your Mom would want you to be happy regardless of the circumstances, I am sure of that. And you are not running away Ash, you would be leaving with me to start a new life, with new ambitions and new dreams. Why can't you see that?"

I heard the pain in his voice as he held me close.

Yes, my Mom would want me to be happy, that was a fact but still, leaving everything behind again just for the sake of my own happiness was that really okay?

I inhaled deeply, loving his comforting warmth and feeling the gentle rise and fall of his chest. It was enough proof that he was still here, for now at least.

"You know that I love you... right?" He asked, and I nodded.

Of course I knew that and I was forever grateful for his love.

There were no words that could express how much I loved him, not even if I literally carved out my heart, nothing would be enough and slowly I could feel my insides caving in. The more I thought about my love for him the more my body was slowly tearing itself apart.

My heartbeat echoed in my ears as I fused my eyes closed, refusing to open them, refusing to fall apart like this. His fingers gently combed through my hair as I held him tighter, frightened to let go in case he just disappeared right in front of my eyes.

"I'm scared..." I muttered pathetically, feeling my body tremble.

"Scared? Of what?"

I bit my lip harder, almost drawing blood as I literally cried out;

"I am scared of losing you!"

Burying my face into his chest I felt my stomach tighten considerably and my throat burned as tears started to form in the corners of my eyes.

I really didn't want him to go...I was scared of a life without him constantly being there for me to pick up the pieces, to care and love me like he does. A life without Gary was too unbearable to deal with.

"I'm... scared too," He mumbled, making my eyes flash open immediately allowing tears to trickle down my face and dampen his shirt.

He just said he was scared too? But this is Gary! Gary is never scared of anything... so why now?

Two days past where I just felt like I was rotting from the inside out.

I had hardly eaten a thing, and I found it almost impossible to sleep peacefully through the night.

I kept waking up screaming, having these horrible nightmares of a life without Gary, a life completely broken and torn apart. Luckily for me when I woke up he would be there to calm me down, to hold me tightly and kiss away my tears. It was a reoccurring nightmare and had been for the past two days, ever since that conversation we had by the tree.

It just felt like there was literally a hole in my chest and with every beat of my heart it just hurt more and more.

And now it was the day of the dreaded funeral and the day of my decision.

I couldn't even muster the strength to put on my black suit for the occasion. All my energy just seemed to fade away every time I looked at the black trousers, the black shirt, the black waistcoat. It didn't matter what Gary did to try to make me feel better nothing seemed to work any more.

Emptiness had burrowed into my heart and left me feeling broken.

I needed my Mom... I really did.

"Ash..." Gary soothed, gently brushing aside a strand of hair from my face as he sat beside me on the bed.

I just continued to stare at the clothes hanging on the back of the bedroom door, unable to get up to put them on, completely paralysed.

"Ash... you need to get dressed, your Mom's coffin will be here in less than an hour..."

I closed my eyes, not wanting to hear any more.

I did not want to see her in that horrible wooden box, eyes shut off from the world. I just wanted one more day with her, full of health. I knew however that my wish would never come true.

I felt Gary's arms coil themselves protectively around me, as if he was trying to stop me from falling apart. I sighed, leaning into his embrace, my eyes still focused on my black uniform for the day.

God this day was the worst day of my entire life.

"Ash... please..."

It wasn't as if I was trying to be difficult, I literally could not find the energy to move to get dressed.

Knowing what today had in store for me was just completely sucking the life out of me and now I just felt empty.

A loud knock at my front door alerted the emerald eyed boy.

He allowed me to wriggle free from his embrace as he left me alone in my bedroom to answer the door.

Being in solitude for too long was not going to help right now, it would just let my mind continue to dwell on the depressing subject of Mom's funeral service.

"Is Ash ready? We have to leave soon," I heard a voice downstairs, it sounded like Misty's.

I placed my head in my hands, knowing that if she found me up here moping and feeling sorry for myself she would totally kick my butt into gear.

"No... he's feeling really down at the moment..." I heard Gary making up some stupid excuse for me, not that I needed it.

"What? He isn't ready? He's got to hurry up! The car will be here real soon!" She exclaimed.

It was odd, they were actually conversing properly instead of biting each others heads off, it made a nice change. Still, it did not help me feel any better.

With every passing second I was just slipping further into the pits of despair.

"I know, I have tried telling him but... he just doesn't seem to have the energy to go..."

Well of course I didn't, I was well aware that after the service Gary would probably have to go which would not give me enough time to say my goodbyes to her properly.

That was why I felt so awful.

"Gary... I think I know why Ash feels so bad, and it might not be a 100% linked to the funeral..."

Seemed like Misty really was going to talk to him for me.

"Well what other reason could it be?"

"Are you really that dense?! Ever since you gave him that decision about leaving with you he hasn't been himself, has he?"

Closing my eyes I sighed and continued to listen in on the conversation.

There was a brief pause.

"Well... I suppose you are right, but why? I just assumed he would want to come with me..."

"Gary, if it was you in this position and Ash asked you to run away with him when your Grandfather's funeral was on the same day, would you really find it that simple?"

I cringed, knowing that those words must have really hurt.

Gary was close to his Grandfather and I wouldn't ever want him to go through what I was. It wasn't fair on him.

Another pause.

"Well... I guess I wouldn't, but I don't have a choice Misty. I can't put off my job any longer, there are a lot of problems back in the lab and if Ash doesn't leave with me then I can't just stay here, even if I wanted to,"

"That's bullshit and you know it!"

Now the arguing was commencing, typical really. Did I really expect a decent conversation?

"Misty... I am not doing this on purpose, there are really sick Pokemon back in Sinnoh and I need to get back to make sure they are going to be okay, if I neglect my duties then I am responsible for their lives"

"Everyone has a choice so don't tell me you don't. You just don't want to choose that's your problem. If your job is more important than the supposed 'love of your life' then go right ahead and leave. But, I'm telling you this Gary, I won't let you hurt Ash again so if you do leave and he is left heartbroken I will find you, and I will kill you. That is a promise,"

I could not help but crack a weak smile.

That last line reminded me of a scene in a film that I loved, when this guy wanted to get his daughter back and said that if he found whoever did it then he would kill them.

Sad thing is... I can't remember what the film was called.

"Then... persuade Ash to come with me!" Gary pleaded to the redhead.

I never expected him to literally beg to the one person he despised.

"Don't you think I haven't?! I want him to be happy Gary, and I know he would be with you, even if I'm not too keen on it. But, at the end of the day it is his decision and no matter what I say or what you say it will not change a damn thing,"

While this conversation escalated I managed to find some energy from somewhere to stand up and start to put on my black uniform.

As much as I loathed it I knew I had to and I was just wasting precious time.

"Yeah... you know, you speak a lot of sense," Gary complimented Misty, which caught me off guard.

I don't think that has ever happened.

"Of course I do, I am a girl and us girls speak a lot of sense all the time,"

There was laughter which made me smile.

Maybe they were learning to get along and perhaps it was because of me that they were doing so.

"If the circumstances were different and you didn't hate me so much I'd like to think we could have been quite good friends," Gary mused.

The red head scoffed.

"Well if I didn't hate you so much and you weren't trying to hurt my best friend then maybe... actually, no I'd still hate you,"

It was worth a try, right?

After approximately an hour I managed to get dressed in my black uniform and had mustered the courage to leave my bedroom to face what today had in store for me. I needed to be strong, it was what she would've wanted.

Gary constantly worried over me, making sure I was feeling okay which was actually kind of sweet.

After all, he wasn't the kind of person to worry over anyone and make it noticeable.

Brock, May and Dawn arrived for the funeral service just before the car drove up to the front door.

All of us, including Professor Oak stood by the car, our eyes glued to the beautiful array of flowers and especially the ones that were from myself.

It spelled out Mom and lay on top of her coffin.

The flowers were a beautiful shade of purple and pink, her favourite colours. It was all thanks to the girls really who helped organise the flowers and everything, after all, I was pretty much useless at organising things.

We also decided on having a Cremation instead of a typical burial, I didn't want to think of Mom being buried underground having worms and stuff eating at her.

It just didn't seem right.

It took a lot of courage and energy to actually get inside the black car.

I knew that as soon as we arrived and the service was over then Gary would leave and I still had not come to a decision. It was so painful to think of never seeing him again and I knew that Pikachu would be just as upset. He had grown very fond of Gary's Eevee in this short space of time.

And as Gary, Professor Oak and myself sat in the car I remained mute.

The girls and Brock were travelling in a separate car behind us just because there wasn't enough room. Misty wasn't very pleased with the idea of me being alone with Gary given my frame of mind.

That girl worries too much I swear.

"Chuuu..." Pikachu whined as he sat on my lap, his ears drooped as our long tedious journey to Lavender Town Crematorium began.

I gently patted his head sighing a little.

It was unfair that he had to witness this too, he loved Mom so much and now she wasn't here any more. Things just were not the same.

"Ash, I know this may seem a weird question, but what are your plans after the service?" Professor Oak asked me, making me look across to him.

My ideal plan would be to just continue with my life and try to move on, but I knew that would be a lot harder than I thought.

"I... don't know," I murmured, watching as Gary looked away.

A part of him must have hoped that I would go with him back to Sinnoh, but I just didn't know what I wanted.

"That is understandable, but remember Ash you can stay at the lab as long as you need to,"

I smiled, loving how kind the Professor was.

At least I had a backup plan right now, if I decided that leaving was too soon for me.

I glanced across at Gary who hadn't said a thing throughout the journey, he just snuggled Eevee in his arms, refusing to look at me.

I turned back, looking down at my yellow friend.

He too seemed sad, as if he knew what my decision would be. I didn't want to break his heart too, after all, it was the first time the little guy had gotten really attached to another Pokemon and it was extremely ironic that it was Gary's Eevee.

"Pikachu?" I asked my electric companion, who perked up at the mention of his name.

"What do you want to do after the service?"

He paused and then glanced across at Eevee, who was now asleep in Gary's arms, completely unaware of the whole scenario.

Then his ears drooped again.

"Pika... chuuu..."

I knew what he wanted, and I was just being selfish again.

I swallowed hard, pulling him into a tight hug, almost frightened to let go. As my eyes looked out of the window at the scenery passing us by I felt a tightening in my chest and water started to well up in my eyes.

I didn't want to cry, I really was too tired to cry any more. My own wants were getting in the way of my judgement and because I was just too scared to actually come to a decision I was hurting everyone I loved in the process.

It was a small service, I didn't want too many people crowding around me and fussing. It was something I could do without today.

As the car drove up to the large white gates I swallowed hard.

We were here and the service was going to start in less than fifteen minutes. Fifteen precious minutes was all I had left and then everything would be gone.

My whole life would turn on it's axis once again.

As I stepped out of the car Misty, Brock, Dawn and May rushed over to me to make sure I was okay. I was greeted by a suffocating hug by the redhead, who seemed rather emotional.

"Ash... remember that whatever you decide today I will support you,"

I nodded weakly, knowing that all my friends felt the same way.

They all just wanted me to be happy once again, regardless to who I was going to spend the rest of my life with.

"Yeah, we all know how much Gary means to you," Brock comforted.

"So, we all want you to make the right decision," Dawn joined in.

I smiled, loving how I had so much support right when I needed it most. Pikachu sat comfortably on my shoulder, getting just as emotional as everyone else. I could almost feel his sadness radiating into me.

"It's not like you won't ever see us again!" May beamed happily, trying to lighten the atmosphere.

"Exactly, we have phones and we can easily just go to Sinnoh to visit you," Dawn agreed.

It wasn't just that though, it was leaving my Mom so soon, just after I had said goodbye to her that was breaking my heart. I didn't want to stay here without Gary, I really didn't, but I was worried about leaving her all alone.

As Misty let go of me she placed her hands on my shoulders and looked directly at my face. Her eyes were welling up with tears as she smiled at me.

"Now, let's go to the service. We will all be with you, every step of the way," I nodded and smiled.

As I turned to walk into the large building I noticed that Gary and the Professor had already decided to go inside.

As all five of us trudged towards the service I could not help but slowly feel everything crashing down around me, my perfect life with Gary was starting to become nothing more than a faded memory.

The first thing I saw when I entered was Mom's coffin situated on a sort of podium at the front of the room with red curtains drawn back all around. There were chairs situated on either side of the room and because I was the only family she had left I was allowed to sit right at the front.

Gary and the Professor were also allowed to sit with me, which was comforting.

The Priest gave me a small smile as I sat down, as if he was feeling sorry for my loss. I didn't need his sympathies, or anyone else's for that matter.

The girls and Brock sat behind us, and soon we were ready to commence. It really was a small service but it was what I wanted, I didn't want a big fuss made, after all, Mom never liked stuff like that.

"We are gathered here to say farewell to Delia Ketchum and to commit her into the hands of God..." The Priest started speaking making me swallow hard.

Pikachu sat in my lap listening intently to the entire service.

I glanced across at Gary to see his head was bowed down, was he upset?

"Lord our God, you are the source of life. In you we live and move and have our being. Keep us in life and death in your love, and, by you grace, lead us to your kingdom, Through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."

Everyone one of us muttered the words 'amen' afterwards and I could feel the atmosphere in the room almost suffocating me to death.

It was horrible, I knew that my Mom was lying in that coffin just out of reach, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Closing my eyes I took a deep breath to remain calm, I didn't want to cry again.

"Let us pray." The Priest said quietly making everyone of us close our eyes and put our hands together, even Pikachu joined in.

"Our Father in heaven, we thank you that, through Jesus Christ, you have given us the gift of eternal life. Keep us firm in the faith, that nothing can separate us from your love. When we loose someone who is dear to us, help us to receive your comfort and to share it with one another. We thank you for what you have given us through Delia. We now entrust ourselves to you, just as we are, with our sense of loss and of guilt, When the time has come, let us depart in peace, and see you face to face, for you are the God of our salvation. Amen."

I bit into my lip as I struggled to stay calm.

It really was a horrible gut wrenching feeling, and I just wanted it to go away.

My eyes stung with tears that threatened to escape my eyes and out of comfort I reached out and grabbed Gary's hand. He looked across at me for a moment before he smiled and squeezed my hand.

That was all I needed.

"Here is a small poem that I shall read to all of you that Delia's beloved son wrote in loving memory,"

Again I swallowed hard, knowing that hearing this poem would definitely make me cry.

The Priest cleared his throat as everyone waited with bated breath for my poem, which I believed didn't even cut how I felt about my loss.

"God saw you getting tired, when a cure was not to be. So he wrapped his arms around you, and whispered, "come to me." You didn't deserve what you went through, so he gave you rest. God's garden must be beautiful, he only takes the best. And when I saw you sleeping, so peaceful and free from pain. I could not wish you back
to suffer that again..."

I literally felt like all my life was being drained out of me as I trembled violently.

God... those words... hurt so much.

I could hear muffled cries and sniffles coming from behind me so I assumed the girls were getting emotional too. Even Pikachu was sobbing quietly, he obviously didn't want me to know though.

I squeezed Gary's hand as tears escaped my eyes and dribbled down my face.

I just wanted her back, I needed more time... more time for everything. My whole life was now crashing down all around me and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

"And now let us all listen to Delia's favourite song..."

I cringed, knowing that I would just crumble and fall apart upon hearing the lyrics, lyrics that were so powerful and meant the world to me.

"The shadow falls on me today, why can't it fade into the distance?"

"And darkness calls, no other way, I rage at the riddle of existence."

"The day's almost gone, but you'll carry on, can you keep the flame for me? The day's almost gone, but you'll carry on. Can you keep the flame for me?"

"A broken plan, a fleeting past, how do we always keep on trying?"

"A tired man, is free at last. What would the purpose be of lying?"

"My life's almost gone, but you'll carry on. Can you keep the flame for me? My life's almost gone, but please carry on, could you keep the flame for me?"

"Will you keep the flame for me?"

As the last words played out to everyone I watched as the blood red curtains draped themselves across the coffin, shielding my Mom from all prying eyes.

That was it, it was all over...

Desperately I held Pikachu close to my chest with one arm while the other clung to Gary like a lifeline.

My body shuddered as realisation started to sink in.

Mom was really gone now, she was going to the afterlife where she wouldn't be suffering any more...

Tears continued to fall down my face and I was finding it harder to breathe.

Why was saying goodbye so painful?

I never wanted to say goodbye, because to me goodbye is the end. I guess a part of me hoped that she would wake up eventually and be back at home fussing over me.

No such luck, instead I was now doomed to make a life changing decision in a matter of minutes.

How could I decide right now?

My heart was literally tearing itself in two and all I wanted, all I needed right now was his support. Knowing that if I didn't leave straight away with Gary would mean I wouldn't see him again was breaking me even more.

I just could not handle it.

As everyone of us stood up the Priest gave a small bow, indicating that it was okay for us to leave.

I didn't want to leave, I wanted to stay here with her but I knew that it was hopeless.

Everyone walked ahead of me, as if they were all quickly trying to escape the tragedy, it was understandable I suppose. My footsteps were heavy as I was the last person to leave the large hallway, leaving my Mom for good, leaving her to rest in peace.

My eyes diverted across the array of pretty flowers that everyone had sent in loving memory of my Mom, including my own.

They all lay on a bed of soft white stones, glistening under a surprisingly warm sun. It was such a lovely day, I guess I half expected it to rain, at least then I knew the heavens were weeping with me.

Pikachu sat comfortably in my arms, pointing at the coloured flowers in joy. It seemed he too appreciated all the hard work everyone had put in.

Today had gone as well as it could have, given the circumstances.

"Ash?" Came a familiar voice.

As I turned around I saw Misty walking towards me, her face pained with confusion and worry.

"Yes, what's wrong?" I asked, not really sure if I wanted to know.

"Why are you still here?!" She exclaimed, making both Pikachu and I flinch.

God she could be so loud at times.

I shrugged, starting to feel sorry for myself.

"I wanted to look at the flowers... everyone really worked hard for today and I guess I just wanted to reflect on it a little..."

She sighed and placed a hand to her head.

"That's great and all... but, are you going to leave with Gary or not?!"

I blinked, now realising what she meant.

Oh shit yeah, I was meant to make a decision about that.

Looking down at Pikachu I watched as he nodded, he obviously didn't want to lose Eevee.

"I guess... I will..." I murmured.

"Oh my God... then why the fuck are you still here?! Gary's left already!" She literally shouted at me and then it all sunk in.

He left? Without even saying goodbye?! What?! That couldn't be right...

As I struggled to speak Misty piped up again.

"You better get going now! He left a few minutes ago so you might be able to catch him if you run"

My heart was literally thundering in my chest as realisation hit me like a rock in the face.

I didn't want Gary to go... never.

I nodded and smiled, happy that Misty was so supportive through it all, even if she never liked Gary she at least made the effort.

"Thanks Misty, I won't forget this!"

And with those words said I ran towards the large gates, leading out of the Crematorium.

I held Pikachu tightly as my lungs burned with every breath.

I hoped and prayed I wasn't too late, I didn't want to live a life without him. It just wasn't right, I needed him, after all he was my rock and he promised my Mom he would always be there for me.

That promise was not going to be broken.

Turning the corner of the street I stopped suddenly, trying to catch my breath.

I tried looking down the street, hoping I could see him somewhere.

As I squinted my eyes I saw a small figure fading into the distance and instinctively started running again. Right now I didn't care if I was out of breath or if my lungs felt like they were on fire, I needed to be with him.

Pikachu held on tightly as I ran, watching as the figure got closer and closer.

"Gary!" I screamed, hoping he would turn around.

And he did.

With Eevee in his arms he stood stationary and waited for me to catch up to him.

When I did it took me five minutes to get my breath back.

What can I say, I'm not the healthiest of people.


He seemed confused to why I was here.

"I want... to go with you..." I struggled to speak, trying to get enough oxygen into my lungs.

His eyes widened as I said those words, it was like he didn't expect me to want to go with him.

"But... I thought you said..."

"Forget that, I know that I need you in my life, that is all that matters..."

Pikachu leapt out of my arms at the exact same time as Eevee, which allowed both of us to collide in a meaningful embrace that seemed to last forever.

Fingers buried in my hair he inhaled deeply, as if he was thankful for my decision, I just hoped I was making the right one.

"I love you so much Ash..." He soothed, holding onto me so tightly I thought I might snap in two.

I smiled, feeling tears begin to form in the corners of my eyes.

"And I love you too! So much..."

At that moment it felt like my life had tilted on it's axis, like one chapter of my book was over and now a new one had started.

A new beginning, perhaps that was what I needed, what we both needed. But there was one thing I was certain of, I was never letting him go. He was so precious to me and I know that Mom would have wanted this.

As long as I was happy then she would've been too.

Maybe she was looking down on me watching all this? Kind of funny really, still this was one chapter in my life was I was determined to never let it come to an end.


Oh no, it's all over :'( Gosh... I am so sad now...

Anyway, I want to thank every single one of you who has reviewed, favourite or followed this fic! It means so fucking much to me so thank you! Please give your thoughts and views about how it turned out,via a PM or a review! Lets see if we can't get this fic to 200 reviews!

The next fic I will do will be a PreciousMetalShipping fic, and it will be dark so any of you PreciousMetalShippers out there stay tuned for that one!

Until then though, goodbye and thanks for reading! Bekki out!