A/N: Alright everyone, Frostbreaker here with a story that's been stuck and growing it's own life within its head for the past week or so. Not sure why, but it's there and I have to write it. As always, R&R and let me know what you think.
This story takes elements from both the television show as well as the gameboy game, so do pay attention. However, this is a fan-fiction after all, so don't bitch at me if things don't follow the exact story line to the T. Don't have an open mind, don't read. Anyhow, for those of you that do have an open mind and like good stories, read on. Unsure if I'm going to keep going with this story or not, but it's definitely open at the moment.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters associated with the Pokemon/Pocket Monsters franchise, nor the original story. All rights go to their respective owners.
It's odd where we might end up in life. Where I am today, for example, is nowhere near where I thought I'd be at this point in my life...but in a good way. Where I once was angry, I am now happy. Where once there was resentment, there is now love. Intelligence, writing, reading...even speech...I never thought it was for me at all. And yet, here I am reading my memoirs of my life - the first book in history written by a non-human to be published...but definitely not the last.
We never lost contact over the years, my friends and I. Friends...even after all these years that word still seems alien to me, as if I don't deserve it. The very fact that I can think in such a complex way is unnatural.
But it doesn't have to be.
He started it all...the one man I owe everything to. A mentor...a friend.
Were it not for him, I would still be sitting on that rock in the rain, waiting for the return of someone who neither wanted nor appreciated me...or dead He could have just left me there like everyone else did, but he chose to walk the path less traveled. Even against my will at the time, he was looking out for me. Me...a complete stranger with nothing to offer him, and yet he was willing to care for and protect me.
I remember that day so well, even after everything that's happened. That one day changed my entire life. I was given to a young trainer, his rival if I remember correctly. Everything was fine until said trainer decided I was too weak for him. And so, he pointed to a rock and told me to stay, which I happily obliged to.
Days had passed and I had even been attacked by a territorial Pidgey, but I loyally stayed. Ah...how naive I was. Many humans would walk by and try to help me, but I would bite them or release a gout of flames when they tried to touch me. He even tried to catch me, but I still had the strength to bat the capture device away with my tail.
Then came the storm.
Rain can be deadly to my kind, as our tail flame is like our life source...and if it goes out, we die. And yet, loyal to my master, I stayed.
He found me that night, cold, wet, and dying. At that point I was too weak to fight back anymore, and so I only remember him approaching me before I lost consciousness.
I woke in a hospital of sorts - which I now know as a Pokemon Center - warm and dry, but very confused. After him explaining to me what had happened - as well as confronting my former "master" - I quickly became a part of his team. Why you ask? I didn't even know him that well yet...but that, in fact, was why. He didn't have to help me...he didn't even know me. Still...even after I already turned him away and scorned him, he went out of his way to help me.
I owe him my life twice over. Once for keeping me from dying, and twice for giving me a new life...a better life.
Still...something about the hormones caused by my growth during evolution must have caused me to lose myself. I resented and mistrusted him for reasons that were not his fault. I was in essence taking all of my frustration and resentment from my first trainer - Gary, if I remember correctly - out on him. Looking back, I know he didn't deserve it...but it only got worse the next time I evolved.
Finally, we had a breakthrough of sorts, though it was caused by my own misfortune. During a battle with another trainer I - as usual - did my own thing, ignoring my trainer's orders. This was a grievous error on my part, as my enemy froze me solid with a single attack. That night was probably the most important part to the repair of a relationship I myself damaged. And so, that night, he built a large fire to thaw me, and then spent the rest of the night rubbing my skin, trying to keep me from freezing to death. I would be okay, but of course I couldn't tell him that. Still...the sentiment of him trying his best to protect and care for me - even when I was the one that showed him no respect - softened my heart. I began to see that perhaps not all humans were the same. Perhaps this one and his friends were different. Still...I couldn't help but bust his chops, as a friend would.
Friend...yes that word sounded good.
However, apparently friendship between Pokemon and friendship between humans had different rules. What I considered to be playful, he considered aggressive. Needless to say I was very confused when he left me in the care of a friend. The resentment rose again...but this time for him...for Ash.
The next year was hard for me, my newfound emotions driving me crazy. Anger and a feeling of betrayal at him leaving me...but somehow, no matter how small, another emotion was constantly there: longing. At the time, I hated it. I missed him more than I cared to admit, even to myself...but my mind and dreams decided to make sure I never forgot it.
The second year and every one after that were ones of soul-searching...and with it came guilt.
It had been years since I had last seen him, and during that time I merely tolerated the man that kept me. I by no means was aggressive towards him, but neither did I look to make friends. During the five or so years that Ash was away, however, I had much time to think about my actions, and what I had done to him over the years. Now that I had the time to think objectively about the whole situation, he should never have had to try and win my affection...as a trainer or a person. I was so unfair to him, and I made a vow at that moment that if he ever returned, I was going to show him that I was thankful to him...and that he was my friend.
His return was less than triumphant, however. It was not because he had conquered another land of trainers, and not that he had come to some new level in his training. No...the reason was called leukemia. While not Ash that had come down with the illness, the situation was still grave. It was his mother instead. As bad as it sounds, this was my chance to prove that I was worth it...and that I thought he was as well. I understood enough at this point to know what such a disease meant for a human, and he would need to know that he was not alone.
Disregarding requests from my caretaker, I took flight and headed for the hospital a few towns over. The flight was quick with my strong wings, and I landed not five minutes later outside the hospital to see him sitting on a bench outside.
He looked up and saw me with a confused, but sad expression. "Charizard, why are you here? You should be back at home right now."
I stood staring at him for the longest time. This was only the second time I had ever seen tears in his eyes, and it tore all of my reservations away. I walked over to him and sat on the bench as well, the steel strong enough to support me, but still groaning under my weight. Before he could say more, however, I wrapped my wing and an arm around him and held him close against me in a hug. The feeling felt good, but I could tell he was very surprised that I was embracing him rather than burning him with flame.
His need to be comforted was overriding his confusion, however, and so he settled into the hug and cried. Without the need to battle for the longest time, I had the time to observe and study the mannerisms of humans, and I knew that he was hurting worse than he ever had before at that moment. His other human friends were all busy with prior engagements, save for the red-headed gym leader, Misty...but she was asked by him to watch over his mother while he came out to get fresh air. I thanked whatever diety or powers watched over this planet, as this opportunity allowed me to repair and build upon what I had destroyed.
After twenty or so minutes of his sobbing - and in all honesty, a few tears from me as well - he finally looked up at me with a soft smile. "Thank you, Charizard." He then averted his eyes with shame, but continued. "I...I know I haven't been the best trainer to you - or friend for that matter..." he then looked up at me with determination, "but I'm going to change that. You deserve better, and I'm going to be better...for you."
I wanted so much to tell him that it wasn't his fault, that it was mine, but I couldn't speak his language. And so, I only nodded and smiled warmly at him.
The next five months passed very quickly for me and Ash. He had taken to a new type of training for all of us - one not of battling, but one of enrichment. He taught us the ways of human speech, of reading and writing, and of general intelligence - his explanation being that if Team Rocket's Meowth could speak and think as he did, why couldn't we?
It was very hard at first, which still doesn't make sense to me. I mean we could understand him just fine, but somehow when it came to making the words with my own mouth, it just was infinitely harder. I felt like a baby lizard again, first learning to walk, except now the learning was being done with my mouth and brain instead of my legs. Progress was slow but steady until I was practicing on my own one day to find that I could make out his name.
"Ash." I said simply, with a wide grin on my face.
After getting over that "hump", things were exponentially easier for me. However, I wanted to surprise him, and so I feigned ignorance in his teachings and instead practiced on my own until I had a firm grasp on human language - not enough to become a college professor, but enough to easily hold a conversation now.
It was a rainy day when I decided I would show him my newfound skill in human speech, and I was brimming with confidence and excitement. Because of the rain, he had opted to keep me inside with him, watching television and just enjoying each other's company. As I sat there, I couldn't take my eyes off of him. He had grown quite a bit in the five years he was gone. He was no longer the young teenager I remembered him as. Instead he was a grown man, strong and confident, and yet gentle, as he had always been to myself and his other Pokemon.
I picked myself up off of the ground and stood in front of him, blocking his view of the television. He could tell I wanted something, and so instead of shooing me away, he waited with a quizzical look. I smiled and almost giggled at what I was about to reveal to him.
"Thank you...for everything, Ash." I said softly, in a voice nothing like my roars or growls.
His eyes widened in shock, but he quickly smiled. "Y-you can talk!"
I nodded. "Yes...I wanted to surprise you." I smiled back, but lowered my head a bit in shame before I continued. "I wanted to apologize for what I put you through, Ash." He pressed a switch and turned the television off before standing. Even at full height, he still had to look up at me, but he did so with a non-judgmental gaze. "I-I'm sorry for all those times you tried to be nice to me and care for me, and I just threw it back in your face. You didn't deserve it, and for that I'm truly sorry."
Before I could say anything more, I felt his arms wrapping around my neck as he lay his head on my shoulder. "I never held any of that against you. I'll be honest, I didn't understand why you did it, but I never held a grudge." He released me and held me at arm's length. "Apology accepted, in case you're wondering." He then smirked and raised an eyebrow. "By the way, I never knew you were female."
I rolled my eyes and giggled. "Well well, rather oblivious, aren't we?"
"Hey, don't take it the wrong way, but unless I was to intentionally try and check out your...er...equipment, it's kind of hard to tell otherwise." he explained with a small blush.
I smirked back at him. "Well I'll let it slide this time, I guess." I then placed a clawed hand on his shoulder and smiled warmly. "Truly though, Ash...thank you. Had it not been for you, I would have died that day you found me. I never got to actually thank you until now."
He waved a hand at me and smiled back. "You don't need to thank me. Anyone would have done the same."
I shook my head. "No, they wouldn't. I mean they tried, but you were the only one who didn't give up. Besides, not just anyone did...you did. You aren't just anyone...you're my friend."
He smiled and placed a hand on my chest, the gesture bringing warmth to my body. "I've never seen my Pokemon as tools or even partners. You...all of you...have always been my friends - every bit as much as Misty, Brock, May, or any of the others. I mean, didn't you ever wonder why I never named any of you?"
I shook my head. "I figured it was because you were unimaginative."
He rolled his eyes, but still smiled. "No, that wasn't it. I didn't name any of you for two reasons. First of all, because for all I knew, you all already had names, and so me naming you would have been kind of an insult. Secondly, me naming you would imply ownership. I don't own any of you - I don't see it that way at all, I want you to know that. In fact, the only reason I don't just release you all is because then other trainers could capture you. I want you all to be free and not have to worry about any of that, which is the only reason I don't just destroy your pokeball."
I had always wondered about those things, and now that he told me they actually made perfect sense. At that moment, I felt even closer to him. He was more than just a friend to me...he was family.
"Ash," I started, "I don't really see you as just a friend..."
His eyes widened a bit, but I waved him off. "No no no, nothing like that...it's just..." I swallowed hard and smiled. "You're more like family to me, really. Like a brother."
"Well, a brother knows his sister's name. What's your name?" he asked.
"Seraphina...my name's Seraphina." I stated softly.
He held my hand and squeezed softly. "What a pretty name. I'll call you that or Seraph from now on then."
It was a great breakthrough for me, but the next month would bring that feeling of happiness crashing back down.
It was his mother...Mrs. Delia Ketchum. The chemotherapy was not working, and she was given a generous six months to live. Death was something I was new to, which was odd considering how violent my life has been, albeit "normal". I could tell just how much it affected him, however, and I made it a point to help in any way possible. More often than not, he would be busying himself with his other Pokemon friends, catching them up to the point I was at, and so it was left up to me to help the Mr. Mime - which had taken to being called Mimey - to make sure Delia was well taken care of. I didn't mind in the least, as she considered me family as well now, though she was surprised I was able to speak. It was a big change from my previous life of battling, but I enjoyed the change of pace. There was no need to fight, and the care and love I received was more than enough.
Delia - always one to defy expectations - fought past the six month mark. It was something to be celebrated, but all good things come to an end. Her resistant strain of leukemia would claim her life, sooner or later. As much as all of us hated to admit it, the end would come.
It was a sunny day during late spring like any other, being just two days after Ash's twenty-third birthday and as usual, he was teaching the rest of his Pokemon friends how to speak. His Pikachu - which I knew as Lei - was of course the first to learn after myself, and he helped the others learn as well.
Today, like most days recently, I took a morning fly through the balmy morning air for an hour or so before heading back home to make breakfast for Delia and myself. After cooking a small bowl of oatmeal and fruit, I brought it upstairs to her bedroom.
"Delia," I whispered, wanting to wake her as gently as possible, "breakfast is ready. Wake up."
She stirred in her sleep and weakly smiled before straining herself to sit up. She frowned for a moment, but sat up fully and smiled again. "Thank you, Seraph."
I nodded and smiled back. "Of course, Delia. Anything I can do to help."
She nodded and looked down at the food for a moment before sighing. "Seraph..."
"Hmm?" I hummed in acknowledgment.
She stared at me for a moment seriously before responding. "I want you to look after Ash when I'm gone." I tried to respond but she cut me off. "Promise me, Seraph...promise you'll watch out for him."
I nodded dumbly, but now felt a sort of panic. I had always heard that the dying can feel when it was their time. "Mimey!" I yelled out the door.
I could hear him clambering up the steps and the mentioned Mr. Mime stood panting at the doorway. "Yes?" he stated in his own Pokemon speech(he had not learned to speak in the human tongue yet).
"Go get Ash, right now. He's outside near Professor Oak's lab. Go!" I said quickly. He nodded and sped out the door.
I looked back at Delia, and she had placed the tray beside her and was laying against her pillow with a weak smile on her face. "You always were much more intelligent than anyone gave you credit for, Seraph."
Not wanting to rustle the bed, I instead sat down on the floor in front of her, with tears of sorrow now flowing freely. I felt that she was as much a mother to me as ever, as I never knew my birth parents. The pain was like needles in my chest, but I could only imagine what Ash was going to feel like. A moment later, I heard the front door slam open and two sets of feet running up the stairs. I stood and moved to the foot of the bed as the door opened, revealing a teary-eyed and frightened young man and a Pokemon with an equal expression of fear and sorrow.
"Mom..." the man said softly, pain in his voice.
Delia merely reached arms out to him as he stood closer, embracing him softly with a smile. "Ash...I'm so proud of what you've become. Your father would be proud."
Everyone in the room was crying by now, mostly Ash, of course. "Mom..." he said again, nearly choking as sobs threatened to burst forth. "I-I'm not ready for you to leave yet."
The dying woman simply smiled weakly and laughed. "But I'm ready to go, son." She then pointed to me, and Ash followed her finger to look at me as well. "Even more so now because I know she'll be there to look after you."
I walked forward and wrapped a wing around the crying young man as I reached out and held Delia's weak hand in mine. I still let tears fall, but held a stern gaze of responsibility as well. "Of course, Delia. I will always be there for him. I promise both you," I then used my free hand to tilt Ash's head up to meet my eyes, "and you."
The fading woman then pulled open the drawer of her nightstand, handing an envelope to me. "Open it." She said softly, smiling.
I tore open the envelope gently and pulled out a stack of papers. The first one on top caught my eye. I was in disbelief. "Last will and testament of Delia Ketchum." I read aloud. "I leave everything I own to my son, Ash Ketchum. This includes all monetary funds and assets. Secondly, I formerly adopt..." I stopped as I read the next words and looked over at Delia. "Y-you...you want to adopt me and Mimey as your children?"
She nodded and smiled. "Of course, Seraph. There is no law against it, and you and he are as much family to me as Ash is." She pointed to one of the papers I had put aside. "All you have to do is sign your name."
I picked up the paper and read it over. It in essence would make us equal members of the Ketchum family line, and it had already been filled out in full, save for Mimey and my signatures. I looked back at her, but then to Ash beside me. "Ash...do you want this?"
Even through the pain, he smiled. "I thought I was already clear, you're family to me, Seraph. The question is, do you want this?"
I looked back at the paper, then to the two humans and one Pokemon around me. I smiled through tears and nodded. "More than anything. I would be honored."
A soft hand graced my cheek and I followed it to the teary eyes of the woman in front of me. "No, Seraph...the honor is mine."
Her hand began to shake a bit and dropped off my face before she closed her eyes. Slowly, her chest stopped rising and falling with breath...and then she was gone. The pain in my heart was more than I thought I could bear, but I forced myself to be strong as the man beside me broke into sobs. I hugged him tight as Mimey did the same.
The circle of sobs lasted for hours until Ash finally grabbed the phone and called the local funeral home, composing himself just enough to report what had happened. The coroner arrived a half-hour later to collect the body, and then set up a funeral date with Ash and myself. The date was set for four days later, Sunday.
The day of the funeral was sunny and bright, a stark contradiction to the mood of the entire town. Pallet House - the local restaurant Delia owned - was closed down for the day, and everyone made sure to attend...even Professor Oak. We all said a few words as the casket was lowered into the ground of the cemetery near the woods, and then Ash and myself set about meeting and greeting the various people who showed up to pay their condolences. As I predicted, nearly everyone - especially Professor Oak - was very surprised at first to hear myself and Lei speaking, but soon grew used to it and treated us like any other person. As I moved about the crowd, I noticed a man who had not spoken or greeted anyone standing off near the edge of the cemetery where no one would notice him. By his scent and the way he looked, I knew immediately who he was.
"Hello, Joshua." I said as I walked over to him.
As I expected, he nearly jumped out of his skin at me speaking to him. "Y-you can talk?"
I rolled my eyes and nodded, though with much annoyance. "Yes...yes I can. Ash taught me."
"He taught you to speak? How?" he asked with shock.
I waved a clawed hand at him to dismiss his questions. "Maybe you should stop asking me questions and speak to your son."
He sighed and shook his head. "It's not the right time for that...I'm sorry."
I growled and stood tall in front of him, my wings springing open in anger. "It's the perfect time to talk to him, you fool! Your son just lost his mother, your wife! What would be a better time? His deathbed?" I closed my eyes and calmed myself, letting my wings relax and the flame on my tail wane to its normal flare. "Look Joshua, I don't really care why you've been gone all this time, only sending a letter to your son on his twentieth birthday. What I do know is that I am definitely stronger than you. If you don't go and talk to him of your own free will, I'll make you. The choice is yours, but one way or another, you're going to talk to him today."
He hung his head in silence. "He's just going to be so angry at me."
I nodded. "Well, you deserve it. Maybe you should think of a good explanation then as to why you abandoned him."
He was silent, but nodded and started to walk towards the funeral procession. Ash saw me walking next to his father and came to greet me. "Seraph? Who's this?"
I looked down at cloaked man and tapped his shoulder. "I don't know, who are you?"
He sighed and took off his hat and cloak, eliciting a gasp from Ash. For the longest time he was silent before looking up, obvious pain in his eyes. "Hi son..." he mumbled softly.
Ash's face turned from one of shock, to one of sadness...and then to one of anger. His voice was deathly calm and soft as he responded, "Where were you..."
"I'm so, so sorry. I was journeying around the Unova region when I heard, I came as fast as I could." he explained quickly.
Ash shook his head softly. "Not now...I mean the last fifteen years. Where were you?" He cringed a bit, trying to compose himself before continuing. "Maybe I'm wrong, but it's pretty clear to me that your ambitions were a lot more important than the wife and son you chose to leave behind." He turned his back and shuddered. "Leave...you're no father of mine and you're not welcome here."
As Ash walked away his father tried to grab his shirt, but I stopped him with a glare. "No...now's not the time. If you ever want to repair this relationship with your son, you're going to have to come back after he's had time to cool off." I then pushed my face in front of his and snarled. "You better not mess this up."
He glared back at me. "And who are you to tell me what to do?"
I smirked. "Well with the adoption papers we all signed a few days ago, I'm Delia's daughter...which makes me Ash's big sister." I explained, putting extra emphasis on "big". His eyes widened and my grin only grew larger. "Yes, you heard correctly. I'm every bit a part of this family as you used to be."
His jaw nearly dropped on the floor in shock. "B-but you're just a Pokemon!" he squeaked out.
I shook my head. "Just a Pokemon? It's painfully clear to both myself and Ash that I'm more human than you could ever hope to be at this moment. So you should go. Give him some time and try again at a later date." I then lowered my head to look him directly in the eyes again. "And if you ever refer to me as just a Pokemon again, you can call it quits, because you'll never get near him again."
Defeated and cowed, the man simply vanished into the thick wood that surrounded the town. I walked back towards the funeral area to see that all but Ash and his friends had left.
Lei walked over to me with a scowl. "You should have let me shock him...he so deserved it."
I giggle and reached down to allow him to climb on my back. "Maybe if he shows up again I'll let you. Tact was never your strong point."
"Hey, I can be tactful!" he yelled back.
I giggled again and shook my head. "Shock first and ask questions later. Yes...very tactful indeed."
Before he could retort, Ash walked over to us and smiled weakly before hugging me tight, reaching around to rub Lei's back as well. "Thank you...both of you. I wouldn't be able to do this without all of you here." At that moment, a large male Blastoise - known as Gunnarr - and a lumbering male Venusaur - named Lothar - joined in the hug, bringing a smile to the broken man's face.
Maybe things wouldn't be so bad after all.