Author's note: Hi! Well, here it is. The final chapter. I hope you enjoyed the ride! Maybe I'll write a sequel some day. I certainly have an idea for one.
Also, this chapter went through quite a few revisions. Maybe coz I'd had no sleep when I wrote it. Haha.
Chapter Six: New Beginnings
The date was finally over. As the two Drifblim touched back down in the Meeting Place, Pikachu felt like he was walking on air. He'd accomplished so much in one day, asking out the girl he liked and going on the perfect date with her. He really couldn't ask for more.
He jumped off Drifblim and turned to her. "Thanks again for the ride!" he said.
"No problem at all," she replied.
He turned to Buneary, but his smile faltered when he saw that, yet again, she had her eyes clenched and was shuddering. "Buneary?" he asked worriedly.
Her eyes snapped open. "Huh?" she asked. She looked around and sighed in relief. "Oh, we're back." She quickly scrambled to get off Drifblim's legs.
He frowned slightly. "Buneary, what's-?"
"Welcome back, sis," a voice said.
Buneary looked up. "Hmm?" she asked. She smiled. "Hey!"
Pikachu turned to see the other Buneary, as well as Lopunny, standing nearby. He smiled at them. "Hey, you two!" he said.
"So!" Lopunny said with a grin. "I hear my little sister's dating Lightning Strike now!"
Buneary giggled. "Yeah, I am," she replied. "How did you know?"
Lopunny giggled, then waved a paw towards the other Buneary. "One guess."
The other Buneary shrugged with a smirk. "Hey, she deserved to know," she said.
"So, did you two enjoy your date?" Lopunny asked.
"Yeah!" Buneary replied, edging away from Drifblim. "It was a lot of fun!"
Lopunny beamed. "That's good to hear." She looked at Pikachu. "Hey, Lightning Strike... look after my little sis, okay?"
Pikachu nodded. "I will," he replied.
Chikorita suddenly came bounding over, Charmander and Piplup following closely behind her. "Hey, Pikachu!" she said. "Have fun on your date?"
"A lot of fun!" he replied. "Thanks!"
"That's great! I'm so happy for you!"
"We all are," Charmander added. "Congrats."
"Thanks, guys," Pikachu replied.
"So, can we go exploring now?" Piplup said excitedly. "I really wanna show you guys Seasong Beach!" He jumped up and down. "I just know you two will love it!"
Buneary turned to Pikachu and blinked. "Huh?" she asked.
"Oh, right," Pikachu said sheepishly, "that." He smiled at Buneary. "Yeah, Piplup found out that there's a whole other PokePark out there and we wanna go explore it!"
"And you're totally invited!" Piplup added, finally standing still.
"Uh..." Buneary replied. Pikachu looked at her to see that she was fidgeting. Her two sisters were also giving each other awkward glances. "Well..."
"Me and Charmander are staying behind," Chikorita said, beaming, "but I'm sure you, Pikachu and Piplip will have a great time!"
Pikachu wondered if, maybe, Buneary was tired and didn't want to admit it. He turned to Piplup. "Uh, maybe this should wait until tomorrow?" he said. "We've had a long day."
Piplup's face fell. "Aww..." he replied, "okay..."
Pikachu turned back to his mate and held out a paw. "Shall I walk you back, Buneary?"
She looked at him. "Huh?" she asked. After a moment, she smiled and took his paw. "Sure."
"Then I guess we'll see you back here tomorrow, sis?" Lopunny asked.
She glanced back at her. "Yeah... sure..."
"Come on," Pikachu said, leading her away.
The next day, Pikachu ran excitedly through the Meadow Zone. Today was the day! He was going to go exploring with one of his best friends and his new mate. It was beyond thrilling. What would he find in this new PokePark? He could hardly wait to find out.
Once he spotted Buneary, who was sitting in-between the two Pachirisu brothers, his smile widened. "Hey! Buneary!" he called out, standing on his hind legs and walking towards her.
She looked up and he waved. "Oh, hey, Pikachu," she replied.
"Hi, Lightning Strike!" one of the Pachirisu said.
"Wanna play chase?" the other asked.
"Not right now, guys," Pikachu replied. He stopped beside them. "Mind if I talk to Buneary?"
"Oh, sure!" the first Pachirisu said. He turned to the other one. "Let's go, bro!"
"Okay!" the other Pachirisu replied. They stood up and dashed off on all four paws together.
Pikachu beamed at Buneary. "Ready to go?" he asked.
"... Um..." she replied, "well..."
He gave her a curious look. "Hmm?"
She looked away, fidgeting with the fur around her waist. "Um..."
Concerned, he sat next to her. "What's wrong, Buneary?" he asked.
"Well..." She didn't continue.
"Buneary?" She didn't respond. "I thought you'd be really excited about the idea of exploring the other PokePark... but... you don't seem to be..."
"I'm sorry... I just..."
He paused a moment, remembering the day before. "And you seemed so scared riding Drifblim yesterday..." He envisioned the Pikachu balloon and a thought occurred to him. His eyes widened. "You're not... afraid of heights, are you?"
She heaved a sigh. "Well... kind of..." She paused. "See, like I said yesterday, I get scared of new things... and I've never been that high up before... It really spooked me..."
His ears drooped. "Oh, I'm so sorry... I should have figured that out..." He glanced down at the grass. "And I made you go really high up four times... Some mate I am..."
"Hey, don't worry." He looked up and saw her smiling weakly at him. "You were trying so hard, I really couldn't say 'no'... and they were such amazing places you showed me... I'm just a big scaredy cat."
"No, I am. I was born in the Meadow Zone, but I'm the only one of my family still living here." She looked down at the grass again. "My mom and dad moved elsewhere, Lopunny moved to the Granite Zone and Buneary moved to the Meeting Place..." She paused. "I do, occasionally, switch places with Buneary, 'cause she likes confusing Pokemon in the Meadow Zone by pretending to be me... which is pretty fun, I must admit... but, other than that, I don't spend much time anywhere else." She paused again, then looked up at him. "All those places you mentioned yesterday... I've never even seen them... It got me thinking... just how much of the PokePark haven't I seen?"
"I... I'm not ready to see another PokePark yet. Maybe one day, but... not right now... The thought of seeing somewhere new terrifies me..." A fierce determination suddenly appeared in her eyes. "So, I think... I need to explore this PokePark first. You've only been here a couple of months, yet you've already seen much more of it than I have."
He blinked, in complete awe of this new attitude. "Wow... what brought this on?"
She relaxed her gaze and smiled. "Well... you did."
He blinked again, this time in confusion. "Me?"
She nodded. "Mmm-hmm! You showed me some amazing places that I'd never even known existed... and I'm really grateful for that... It made me realise what a... sheltered life I've led." She blushed. "There's a lot I have to learn about the PokePark... so, before I move onto other places, I wanna conquer my fear of the unknown... by exploring every inch of this PokePark!"
He blushed, extremely flattered by this. "Wow..." After a moment, a thought occurred to him. He shook his head and bore the same fierce determination that she'd just been wearing. "Then I'll stay here!"
She blinked at him. "Huh?"
"I won't go to the other park!" He smiled and held both of her paws in his own. "I'll stay here, with you, and help you overcome your fear!"
She stared at him in awe for a few moments, then giggled. "That's awfully sweet of you, but you don't need to do that."
"Hey, you really wanna go see the other PokePark, right? Well, I say you should go."
"But... we only just got together yesterday..."
"I know that, but I don't wanna stop you from doing what you wanna do." His shoulders slumped. "Besides, this is probably something I should do myself."
His ears perked up in curiosity. "Hmm?"
She beamed. "It's the best way to conquer a fear, right?"
He smiled weakly in return. "Well, it doesn't have to be..."
She shook her head. "No, I insist. Go have fun with Piplup. I'll see you when you get back."
He opened his mouth to protest, but the look in her eyes made him close it again. He chuckled. "Alright, alright... if you're sure."
She nodded. "I am."
"... Let no one tell you that you're a scaredy cat." He hesitated, then leaned his forehead against hers. Her eyes widened in surprise. "Okay?"
She blushed again, even harder this time, then giggled. "Okay."
"Will you still come to see me off?"
"Of course I will."
"Awwww, that's so cute!" one of the Pachirisu called out.
Pikachu immediately flushed bright red. Buneary giggled at him.
"You're not coming?" Piplup asked in dismay.
"Sorry, no," Buneary replied. "I've got other stuff I need to do here." She winked at Pikachu. He smiled encouragingly back at her.
Piplup looked at Pikachu. "You're still coming, right?"
Pikachu glanced at Buneary, who nodded at him. He looked back at Piplup and grinned. "Of course!" he replied. "I'm not passing this up!"
"'Other stuff'?" Lopunny asked quizzically. Pikachu looked up at her.
"Yup!" Buneary replied. "I'm gonna explore this PokePark!"
Her eyes widened. "Really?"
"Well, that's surprising..." the other Buneary said.
Buneary giggled. "I know," she replied, "but it's something I need to do." Both sisters' eyes narrowed a fraction. "Oh, don't worry! I insisted Pikachu go without me!"
Pikachu felt himself shrink under the silent accusation. Both sisters relaxed their glares.
"Well, it's time to go!" Piplup said, jumping into the balloon basket. "I can't wait to show you around, Pikachu! It's gonna be so exciting!"
Pikachu shared one last glance with his mate. "Well..." he said, "see you when I see you."
She beamed and nodded. "Yup!" she replied. She hugged him. "See you, Pikachu."
He hugged back, a pleasant warmth enveloping his chest. "See you, Buneary."
He held the hug for a while, before breaking away. Walking towards the Pikachu balloon, he hopped into the basket next to Piplup. The penguin fidgeted with the interior for a few moments, before the balloon began to ascend into the sky.
"Have fun, you two!" Chikorita called out.
"Yeah," Charmander added, "and be sure to tell us all about it when you get back!"
"You bet!" Piplup replied.
"Bye, Pikachu!" Buneary called out, waving goodbye.
Pikachu waved back. "Bye, Buneary!" he replied. "See you when I get back!"
"You'd better have some good stories to tell!"
She giggled, waving with both paws now. "Bye!"
He mimicked her, waving with both paws. "Bye!"
Soon, the Pikachu balloon had sailed over the horizon and the Meeting Place was no longer in view. Turning away, Pikachu focused on where they were heading and felt his adventurous spirit burn brighter than ever. Only Piplup knew where they were going, and what they were going to see, but the unknown excited him like nothing else could. Maybe, one day, Buneary could share his passion. He silently wished her luck in her quest to conquer her fear.
He caught Piplup's eye and the two childhood friends shared a grin. He knew, without even asking, that Piplup felt just as excited about this as he did. He wondered what the penguin had in store for him. Looking back towards their destination, he leaned his weight against the edge of the basket and pondered the possibilites. Whatever happened, though, he was certain it was going to be fun.