"Quick! Descend and toss it off!" Tobias ordered, watching on as his Latios ascended hundreds of feet into the sky, Ash's Pikachu still hanging onto the creature's back for dear life. The semi-final match had raged on for what felt like an eternity for the young trainer from Pallet. If it wasn't enough that Tobias' Darkrai had single handedly annihilated over half of his team, now he had almost finished off the rest of it with a Latios. Pikachu, his beloved friend, and his last Pokémon still capable of fighting was now just barely hanging onto the legendary Pokémon's back as he climbed higher and higher into the air, the battlefield becoming smaller and smaller by the second.

However, Pikachu's grip on the jet shaped Pokémon was completely lost as Latios dove down at a ninety degree angle, leaving Pikachu hovering in the air momentarily while the small electric rodent held onto the upward momentum it had gained before plummeting downward.

"Use luster purge, now!" Tobias commanded as his Latios quickly dove towards the battlefield. The second it reached the ground, the Pokémon quickly came to a stop, and shifted its direction towards the now falling Pikachu. A purple aura began to glow in Latios' mouth as it charged up the powerful blast.

Seeing the imminent danger Pikachu was in, Ash had to act swiftly if he wanted to have any chance at preserving a victory, however narrow that chance may have been. "Pikachu, use volt tackle!" He called out, thinking on his feet. Without hesitation, Pikachu quickly zeroed in on his opponent, and surrounded itself with a shield of electricity, projecting itself towards the blue and white dragon type Pokémon.

Before Pikachu could reach him though, Latios unleashed its powerful luster purge directly at the falling mouse. The purple blast engulfed Pikachu completely, but Ash's loyal friend remained protected by the electric shield encircling him. Despite taking the blunt of the attack, Pikachu continued to charge towards the legendary Pokémon, pushing through the blast.

"Pika-Pika-Pika-Pika!" Pikachu shouted out as it grew closer and closer to Latios, fighting against the still ongoing blast. The attack had already begun losing power though, as Latios' stored energy quickly depleted. However, Pikachu was only gaining energy as the blast created friction against his electric shield. Though no one could see it, a slight look of concern stretched across Latios' face as Pikachu grew nearer.

"Now! Use iron tail!" Ash screamed, once he saw his Pokémon was close enough to use his signature attack. Heeding his master's command, Pikachu flipped forward, still surrounded by his shield, and smashed its tail against Latios' head.

Between the electrical charge coming from Pikachu, and the massive amount of energy coming from Latios, the two colliding with each other erupted a massive explosion that filled the battlefield and blew through the stadium, even making the jumbo-tron momentarily flicker. The smoke created by the explosion was so thick that neither Tobias nor Ash could see who the winner of the confrontation was. Ash squinted his eyes, trying to see through the smoke, resisting the urge to step closer to the battlefield to get a better look, knowing he'd be immediately disqualified if he did so. As the smog of smoke and dust began to clear, the trainer could start to make out a silhouette of what looked like Latios laying on the battlefield.

But where was Pikachu? Ash thought.

Once the smoke cleared out completely, Ash found is friend lying next to the fainted Latios. With just one look at Pkachu though, it didn't take long for him to realize that he was unable to continue the battle.

"Pikachu and Latios are both unable to battle." The referee announced upon seeing both Pokémon lying on the ground, unconscious. "All six of Ash's Pokémon have been eliminated," He continued. Ash suddenly felt a pang in his side from being brought back to this realization. "so moving onto the finals is Tobias, the victor!" The referee continued as he waved a red flag towards Tobias, who despite being the victor of the battle, was still locked in an expression of disbelief as he viewed the site that lay before him. Few had ever defeated his Darkrai before, and no one had ever been able to defeat his Latios.

"That was without a doubt the best trainer I've ever battled." Tobias mused as he watched his name appear on the jumbo-tron, declaring him as the winner.

Meanwhile, across the field, Ash quickly dashed to Pikachu's side, still feeling that same pain in his side from realizing that he had come so close to winning the Lily of the Valley Conference, just to lose here in the Top Four. Though he felt disappointed for not winning, he felt nothing but pride in his Pokémon who all fought to the very best of their abilities for the entire battle.

"Are you alright Pikachu?" He asked, picking up his tired friend.

"Pika pi!"

Ash jolted, shaking his head as he came to sudden realization that this was not reality, or at least not anymore. He slowly opened his eyes as he felt Pikachu nuzzle against his cheek, calling out to him. "Pika pi." He said once more as Ash finally came to. He looked around to see he was still in the train car on its way to Pewter City with Brock and Pikachu.

Where's Dawn? Ash thought as he looked around the car for her. Awakening from his drowsy state, t took him less than a second to remember that she had left for Johto after the Coinference, while he and Brock decided to return home for a while after traveling for so long.

"Hey, about time you woke up." Brock said with a smile as Ash stretched out his arms, limbering up from his nap. "We're about five minutes from Pewter City." he added.

Ash let out a moan as he stretched, and held up one finger towards Brock, indicating he'd respond once he finished stretching.

"Oh really? How long was I out?"

"About four hours."

"Really? Feels like it was only a few minutes." Ash replied, a bit surprised by how long he'd been sleeping.

"What were you dreaming about?" Brock asked, curiosity filling his tone. Ash looked a bit taken back by the question.

"How did you know I was dreaming?"

"You were talking in your sleep." He answered.

Ash gazed down at his feet. Ever since the Conference, he tried not to bring up the battle again. He was proud of himself and his Pokémon for making it that far, but losing, no, losing badly while being that close to the prize still left a dent in his ego.

"I was dreaming about that battle again."

A small frown emerged on Brock's face. "You know, that was probably one of the best battles I've ever seen."

Ash threw his eyes up to Brock, his face remaining blank of any real emotion.

"Your Pokémon gave it their all, and you should be proud." The former gym leader added as he placed a reassuring hand on Ash's right shoulder.

"You're right Brock." a small grin stretched across the trainer's face. "We gave it our all out there, and I know that next time around, I'll be twice as good as I was before!"

"That's the spirit Ash!" Brock said with a smile as he took his hand off of Ash's shoulder.

The black haired trainer turned his head away from Brock, and the frown returned. He just said that so Brock would drop the subject, he knew that he had done the best he could, but that didn't change the fact that he got stomped. Tobias took out his entire team with only two Pokémon, and in front of the thousands of people, while millions viewed it at home.

Well, at least I did better than the guy Tobias beat in the finals. he thought, allowing himself to crack a small grin in knowing that he was at least the second best trainer at the Conference. He still felt a sour taste in his mouth though. Shaking it off, he decided to suspend the subject from his mind.

"Hey Brock?"

His traveling companion turned from the train car's window and faced his friend. "Yeah Ash?"

"We haven't talked about what we're going to do after this break."

"Well," Brock started, throwing his gaze down to his feet and trying his best to stifle a frown. "I've been thinking about that." Ash could already tell where this was going. "After the Lily of the Valley Conference, I realized that you and Dawn had been following your dreams, which is great for you guys." He paused. "But…"

"You don't think you're following your dreams by traveling with me." Ash finished Brock's sentence. This didn't come as a surprise, not even to Ash. Brock had always talked about becoming a Pokémon breeder, and even Ash had to admit that him traveling around the world wasn't exactly allowing him time to truly explore his desired career. Brock had learned a lot about Pokémon and Pokémon breeding in the past six years, but there was no way he could truly dedicate himself to his lifelong dream by just following around a would-be Pokémon Master.

"Yeah." Brock replied.

"I understand."

"You do?" His friend seemed a bit bewildered by Ash's empathy.

He nodded, and then gave Brock a friendly smile. "Of course I do! This is what you've always wanted to do, and I'd never want to keep you from becoming Pokémon breeder."

Brock remained silent for a second, still keeping his smile though. He was pleased to see how much Ash had matured in the past few years. He could still recall when he was just a little, outspoken ten year old who'd barge into a perfume shop just to tell the owners that perfume was icky and overpriced. Now here he was, encouraging Brock to leave so he could achieve his own dreams. He really had grown up.

"What about you?" Brock inquired, curious of the Pokémon trainer's future aspirations.

Ash rolled his head back and gazed up at the ceiling of the train car. "Well," he started. "I've been looking into traveling to the Unova Region." He half mumbled, almost as though he was hesitant of the decision.

Brock's eyebrows rose after hearing this. Unova was far away. Farther away than any of the four regions they had traveled to before. Even if Brock didn't want to become a breeder, he still probably wouldn't travel with Ash if it meant going that far away from home.

"That's pretty far away." Brock replied with a hint of uneasiness in his tone.

Ash brought his eyes back down and then turned to Pikachu, who was already looking up at his master, willing to support any decision he made. "You're right." Ash replied. "But I don't think I can just sit around for a whole year and wait for the Pokemon League to start up again."

Brock nodded. "Yeah, you have all thirty two badges across all four regions, plus all the Orange Isle badges and Frontier symbols. It's not like there's much for you to do here anymore."


"Pika pi." The black haired trainer smiled at Pikachu, only to see that his buddy was giving him the same expression that he had given Ash for the past week when the subject of traveling came up; tired.

"Yeah, you're right Pikachu." Ash said, rubbing the little rodent's ears. "We can take a break for a month or so before heading out again."

"Pika!" The electric mouse jumped up with glee after hearing this. Though Ash couldn't tell exactly what Pikachu was saying, he could tell that he was happy, and that's all that mattered.

"Well, here's our stop." Brock said with a blank tone as he looked out the window to see that the train was slowly coming to a halt. Ash and Brock both stood up from their seats, and grabbed their things. Brock grabbing his seemingly magic backpack that somehow managed to fit and abundance of cooking equipment such as pots, pans, and a mini-grill, as well as cloths, food, and other miscellaneous items; while Ash grabbed his backpack and his Poké Ball belt as Pikachu leapt onto his master's right shoulder.


As the two stepped off the train, both Brock and Ash took a moment to look around the somewhat empty train station. Off in the distance they could see the Pewter City Gym, which seemed to remain untouched since Ash traveled there with Misty six years prior.

"So…" Ash said to his friend as they both looked off towards the gym.


Both remained silent for a moment as the sun began to set on Pewter City. This was an odd situation for both of them. Brock hadn't left Ash's side since the Orange Isles, and that was over five years ago. Traveling with each other had become something both of them had gotten so used to. The idea of them separating was completely alien at this point. They both felt a blanket of sorrow cover them like a dark cloud as the prospect of them going their separate ways had finally become a real thing. Even during the train ride neither one had really thought that much about this impending moment.

"The sun's setting." Brock said, trying to break the awkward silence. "It'll be getting late soon."

"Yeah, sure is." Ash replied as he looked at the now dimming sun setting beneath the trees and buildings in the distance.

"You can stay with me and my family for the night if you'd rather travel tomorrow." Brock gave the offer, already knowing what the answer would be.

"No." Ash responded plainly. "I think I can at least get half way to Viridian City before it gets too dark if I leave now."

Brock gave a slight nod. "Well, I guess this is goodbye then."

Ash turned to his friend, who still stood a head taller than Ash, even after all these years. He felt a small tear start to form in his eye at the realization that he was about to leave the friend who had traveled with him longer than anyone else ever had.

"Keep in touch Brock." Ash said as he looked up towards his friend.

"Will do."

After a brief moment Brock felt a little nudge at his left leg. He looked down to see that Ash's little yellow friend was hugging his shin. "Pika pi." The Pokémon cried as a little tear traveled down the mouse's eye.

"I'll miss you too Pikachu." Brock said with a smile and a little more enthusiasm as he bent down to pick up the little Pokémon. "Make sure Ash doesn't get into any trouble now that I'm not there, okay?"

"Hey!" Ash's exclaim was ignored.

"Well, I'll see you around Ash." Brock said as he put down Pikachu.

"See you around Brock." Ash replied, trying to hide his tears by lowering the brim of his hat.

There was another brief moment of silence and unmoving between the two. Then mutually both of them opened up their arms and gave each other a hug. The same hug two brothers would share. Many times Ash had said that him and all of his companions were always friends to the end. But he and Brock were not just friends to the end, they were brothers to the end.

After a moment, they both released themselves from the hug, and gave each other a nod as the two turned and went their separate ways. Brock heading towards the Pewter Gym; Ash and Pikachu heading towards Viridian Forest.

As the two made their way to the thick forest, Ash couldn't help but stop for a moment and take notice of a sign posted along one of the many dirt roads of Pewter City. The sign pointed eastward, and read 'Cerulean City: 42 Miles'. Ash and Pikachu both stared at the sign. Though the Pokémon couldn't read the sign, just by looking at his master's face he could tell exactly what the sign made him think of. As it was a face that Pikachu had seen Ash make many times over the past four years.

Letting out a little huff, Ash continued his way southward, knowing that he had to get home before the end of the week.


The sound of Caterpie and Weedle that often filled Viridian Forest began to die down as the sun started to set behind Mt. Silver, and the moon began to rise from the east in its place. The only light source inside the dark forest now was the small campfire Ash and Pikachu made. Pikachu had already curled into a ball and drifted off into a deep slumber. Ash on the other hand remained sitting on a stump next to the fire, trying to get any form of reception on his cell phone so he could call Dawn like he promised he would back when he and Brock had departed. After a moment of fiddling with his phone, he was finally able to get a few bars to appear. Taking advantage of the moment, he prepared to hit the call button, but then stopped as a thought sparked in his mind. He looked back down at his phone, contemplating what to do. He knew that he might not be able to get reception again until he got out of Viridian Forest, and if he was going to do this, then he needed to do it now. After a moment of silently thinking to himself, he hit the call button.

The phone rang for a few moments, yet no answer came. C'mon, pick up your phone. The phone continued ringing, but still no answer. After a moment, the voicemail automatically picked up.

"Hey, this is Misty, I'm sorry but I can't come to the phone right now. Leave your message after the bee-" Ash ended the call.

He began to contemplate all the reasons she didn't pick up. It was too late for gym battles, but maybe she was swimming with her Pokémon, or had a long day and went to bed early. Whatever the reason was, Ash still wished that she had picked up. Oddly enough though despite having a powerful urge to talk to her, for whatever reason not once did he even think about calling his old friend to tell her that he was coming home.

She's probably too busy anyways.

Ash turned his attention back down at his phone to see that the reception he had was now long gone.

"I'll just have to call Dawn tomorrow." He mumbled to himself as he turned off his phone to save the battery.

The black haired trainer looked over at his friend who was peacefully sleeping, his ears occasionally perking up every now and then. Ash stared at him, wondering what Pikachu was dreaming about. He hoped that it wasn't the same dream that he had back on the train. Of course knowing how much Pikachu was like himself, he probably was. Ash reached down and started scratching behind Pikachu's right ear. It was his favorite spot, though no one else could hit that spot the same way Ash could. Dawn had tried to find it once, unfortunately for the poor girl, she hit a pressure point and got zapped because of it. After that she decided to give up on trying to find that secret spot behind Pikachu's ear.

"Pika." the yellow Pokémon let out still lost in its peaceful slumber. A small smile cracked across Ash's face from seeing his friend so comfortable and content.

After a few minutes of admiring his sleeping Pokémon, the trainer decided he'd try to hit the hay himself. Ash wanted to get home as soon as he could, and the earlier he got up, the sooner he'd be getting there. With that in mind, he poured some water on the small fire, and went to bed.


Happy to finally be out of Viridian Forest, the two traveling companions decided to take advantage of the Pokémon Center in Viridian City. The moment Ash stepped onto the Pokémon Center's linoleum floor, memories from his early days of Pokémon training, his second day to be exact, came flooding back to him. The Pokémon Center hadn't changed a bit since his first journey. At least it had been rebuilt to look the same, considering that he and Pikachu inadvertently blew it up on their first time passing through.

The half-circle desk still remained at the end of the lobby, and behind it the slab showing the four legendary birds Ho-oh, Moltres, Zaptos, and Articuno still hung there. As Ash soaked in the nostalgia, he started having flashbacks of seeing Misty smash her way through the doors with her scorched bike slumped over her back.

"Oh, well if it isn't Mr. Sinnoh Top Four." a soft voice echoed across the lobby of the otherwise empty Pokémon Center, bringing Ash back to reality. He looked up to see Nurse Joy warmly greeting him. Though he couldn't tell by looking, he assumed this was the same Nurse Joy from when he first started his Pokémon journey.

"Hey," Ash called back, revealing a small grin. "It's good to see you again Nurse Joy." He said with a bit of hesitation, still unsure of it was indeed the same one from before.

She let out her trademark rosy smile. "I must say when you first came through here after blowing up that girl's bike, I didn't expect that one day I'd be seeing you competing in the Lilly of the Valley." She said in her cheery tone.

Okay, it is her.

Ash didn't know if what she said was meant to be taken as a compliment or not. "Thanks." He replied giving a toothy grin; He decided he'd take it as a compliment. "Would you mind letting Pikachu rest up for a bit while I go make a phone call?" Ash already knew the answer Nurse Joy would give him, but he asked anyways if only to be polite.

"Of course." Joy cheerfully replied as she patted on the counter, indicating for Pikachu to hop up, which the yellow mouse was quick to oblige to. "We'll get you all rested up." Joy said, picking up the little Pokémon and carrying him to the back.

Ash made his way over to the video phone, and began to call home to let his Mom know that he'd made it to Viridian City. After a moment of ringing, Ash heard an answer on the other line, and the video screen lit up, showing his mother's soft features on the monitor. Though it had been a while since he had last seen her, her appearance hadn't changed much. Really, Ash couldn't see any change whatsoever.

"Hey Mom!" Ash shouted with glee.

"Ash!" His mother's face was filled with bliss. "I'm so glad to hear from you! And congratulations on your competition. You did so great!" She cried out with a sense of pride in her voice.

"Gee Mom, it's not a big deal." Ash gave a bit of an awkward reply as he scratched the back of his head. "It's not like I won or anything."

"I know, but you should still be proud of yourself for making it as far as you did." Despite it all, Ash couldn't help but smile at seeing his Mother's pride in him. "Your father would be so proud of you if he were here."

"I'm sure he would be." Ash gave a slight nod.

"I know he would be." Delia retorted with a large smile stretching across her face.

Ash returned the smile, but he knew he had a few more calls he needed to make while he was there. "I just wanted to call and let you know I'm here in Viridian City and I should be home by tomorrow." Ash paused for a second. "But I've got to go, there's a few more calls I've gotta make."

"Okie dokie, Sweety." She replied in the same sweet voice she always spoke to him in. "I love you." Ash slouched down in his chair a bit and blushed a little, forgetting that the Pokémon Center was empty and that no one was there to hear her.

"I love you too." he replied in a hushed tone. "Bye." Once the conversation ended, Ash hung up the phone, causing the video screen to go black. Taking in a breath, he picked the phone back up and began dialing in another number. Halfway thorough dialing though, he stopped.

No, no. That can wait.

He hung the phone back up and quickly picked it up again, this time dialing in a different number. After he punched in all the digits, the call started going through. Ash kept the phone close to his ear as he heard the ring tone buzz in his ear. After a few seconds, someone finally picked up, much to Ash's relief.

The video screen lit up, revealing a pretty, blonde haired girl. Behind her Ash could make out a few pictures of water Pokémon and a poster that read 'Sensational Sisters Underwater Ballet'

"Uh, hello?" The blonde girl answered, looking a bit puzzled as to who was calling.

"Oh, hey Daisy." Ash greeted, recognizing her from the few times he'd gone to the Cerulean City Gym. "It's Ash." He paused for a moment, trying to make sure he didn't stutter while saying his next sentence. "I..is Misty there?"


"Ash, Ash, Ash…." Daisy said as she began processing the name and matching it with the face she was staring at on the video screen. "Oh!" As she said this, Ash could have sworn he saw the light bulb go off over her head. "You're Misty's boyfriend!"

The boy's cheeks turned a near crimson red. "Uh, n..no, just her friend."

"Sure you are." She snickered in a sarcastic tone.

"We're just friends!" Ash didn't mean to shout.

"Okay, okay. No need to get like, so defensive."

"Sorry," The black haired trainer apologized. "but can I talk to Misty, please?" He asked, remembering the reason he called in the first place.

"Like, she's not here right now." She put flatly

"Wait, what?" Ash's eyes widened. Normally Misty never left the gym unless she absolutely had to. "Well did she say where she was going?"

"Uh, no. She just said something about like, having to leave for a few days."

Ash frowned at this news. "Okay," his tone began to dull. "I tried calling her on her cell phone but she wouldn't answer, so I thought I'd try calling the gym."

"Yeah, she left her phone here. She said she didn't like, want to be bothered or something like that."

Ash couldn't hide his frown anymore after hearing this. His eyes began to drift down from the screen, and down towards his feet.

Seeing the gloomy look on the sixteen year old's face, Daisy couldn't help but feel bad for him. "Hey," Daisy said in an uplifting tone, bringing Ash's eyes back to the video screen. "don't like, worry. When she comes back I'll tell her you really wanted to talk to her."

Ash's smile returned. "Thanks Daisy!"

"Not a problem." Her valley girl accent was especially prevelant in that statement. "Oh by the way, when are you like, coming back to Kanto?"

"I'm already back." Ash said as he moved out of the way, revealing the sign behind him that spelled out 'Viridian City Pokémon Center'.

"Uh oh."

Ash didn't like the sound of that. "What do you mean "uh oh"?"

"Like, if Misty heard you came back to Kanto, and you didn't tell her, she'd be like, super pissed."


"Well that's not good." Ash spoke into the phone, his nervous tone becoming quite obvious.

"I'll take care of it." Daisy said seemingly unfazed by Ash's situation. "I'll just like, tell her you were on your way back when you called, okay?"

"That sounds great Daisy, I really appreciate it!" Ash couldn't hide his relief. He knew better than most what it was like to be on Misty's bad side, and it was most certainly not a place he wanted to find himself.

"Not a problem." Daisy gave a little smile to the trainer. "Catch ya later Ashy!" The blonde gave him a little wave before hanging up the phone, and the screen went black.

"Uh… bye." Ash stared into the black screen, and began to hang up the phone.

Okay, one more call.

"You're Pikachu is ready to go!" Nurse Joy called out to the trainer.

I guess that'll have to wait.

"Coming!" Ash shouted back to Nurse Joy as he stood up, and began walking away from the telephone.


Pallet Town was only a mere ten miles away. Fortunately, the trek from Pewter City had taken a lot less time than Ash originally thought it would. Maybe it was because he hadn't gotten involved in any shenanigans like stealing a girl's bike, blowing up a Pokémon Center, or getting caught up with an angry hive of Beedrill this time around.

"We're almost there Pikachu!" Ash looked up gleefully at his little friend who had perched himself onto Ash's shoulder.

"Pika pi!" Pikachu's tone was just as joyful as Ash's. It had been a long time since either of them had last been home. Even though the two loved traveling the world, and going on adventures. Home was always a welcoming thought. Especially after days of sleeping in the middle of dark, bug infested forests, or atop cold, icy mountains, and of course the occasional wasteland.

"So what do you want to do when we get home Pikachu?"

"Pika pikachu." The tone sounded indecisive.

"How about I buy you a bottle of ketchup when we get there?"

"Pika!" The little mouse cried out as he began jumping atop his master's shoulder. He was so overjoyed by the thought, that small sparks began emitting from the pouches on his cheeks.

"Easy there buddy." Ash tried calming his little friend after feeling a tiny zap on his left cheek. Without much trouble, Pikachu quickly settled down and gave his master a lick on the same cheek he unintentionally zapped; His own little way of apologizing.

As the two continued down the road, Ash couldn't help but admire the beauty of Kanto. It had been something he had taken for granted growing up. But now, after being away from home for so long, the natural beauty of his home region really stood out to him. The grassy fields and rolling hills stretched out for miles and miles, and the trees and grass always had a special tint of green to them. This wasn't just a bias, this was something that even painters and photographers took notice of. "Kanto Green" is what they always called it, just like how they would call the deep blue tint of Sinnoh's skies "Sinnoh Blue". And to top off this beautiful scenery, to his west stood Mt. Silver, its peak hiding behind the soft clouds that floated high in the sky.

"Hey Pikachu, remind me to one day bring Dawn here, I think someone like her would appreciate Kanto. Ash paused for a moment, and suddenly he felt a pit in his chest.

Oh no.

Ash quickly reached for his cell phone, which he hadn't turned on since he was in Viridian Forest. He began to fumble with his phone, trying to turn on the device. As the screen lit up, Ash was greeted by a message appearing on the screen reading '32 Missed Calls'.

"Oh jeez." Ash quickly pulled up Dawn's number, and hit the call button. The other line picked up before the second ring could finish.

Well at least she's expecting me to call her. He thought. However it gave him no solace, as he was sure her greeting would not be full of pleasantries.

"About time you called!" The blue haired girl boomed through the speakers.

Ash squinted as her voice pierced through his right ear. "Hehe, yeah sorry 'bout that Dawn. I ran into a bit of trouble trying to get in touch with you."

There was a momentary pause on the other end of the phone. "Well I'm glad you finally called. I was getting worried about you." The concern in her voice was quite apparent.

"Don't worry Dawn, I'm fine. I'm almost home anyways."

"Okay, good." Her concern seemed to be slowly leaving her voice upon hearing this news.

"How's Johto so far?" He asked, curious to see how she was settling into the new region, and also wanting to avoid the subject of her asking what type of 'trouble' he ran into that delayed his call.

"It's a lot warmer than Sinnoh, that's for sure!"

Well maybe if you didn't wear that skirt the whole time we were there, you wouldn't have been so cold.

"That's good!" Ash answered, ignoring his mental assertions. "When's your next contest?"

"I have one in Goldenrod next week!" She haply exclaimed. "I'm so excited!"

"Awesome!" Ash was genuinely interested in hearing about this, but his voice may have betrayed the contrary. Mainly because all he wanted to do at the moment was get home. "I hope you win it al-"

"Ash Ketchum!" A familiar voice echoed through his ears. He felt a sudden chill run up his spine as the voice reached his eardrums.

"Dawn, sorry, but I've got to go." Ash said before hanging up, not even allowing enough time for her to reply. It may have been rude, but if who he heard was who he thought it was, then their small talk could wait.

The black haired trainer turned towards the direction the voice originated from, his heart almost frozen from surprise at the very thought of this voice belonging to who he thought it belonged to. After turning towards the origin, he could see a female figure standing atop a rock, gazing down at him. She wore a yellow shirt with a red bolero style jacket, along with a pair of blue jean shorts and red and white tennis shoes; an outfit not too dissimilar to the one Ash was familiar with. What hadn't changed at all though was her fiery red hair that flowed down at a little bit past her shoulders, and her aqua green eyes that beamed directly at him.