So this is the complete chapter, if you have read the first part already, just scroll down to the line break. Sorry for any inconvenience, I shall find a way to make it up to you guys in the next chapter ;)
"Oh that Gary, he just...so...mean" Ash grumbled, frustration thick in his mind as he trudged through the long, narrow hallway of the Lab.
The words weren't caught by Pikachu as he locked the entrance door but from Ash's tone, he deduced the subject was most likely about his beloved rival. Gary had the ability to get under the skin of Ash like no other. All Pikachu could think about was a saying he once overheard, that love evokes strong emotions; anger was a strong emotion. Just the thought of Ash loving someone brought sense of pitted sadness, he couldn't bear it anymore as he tossed his attention else where.
Pikachu glumly looked at his surroundings, the interior of building was same as he recalled despite it had been handful of months. The laboratory was composed of two floors, the first floor was an elongated corridor. The walls were lined with several mahogany doors that lead to storage rooms and such. At the very end, a large stairway could be seen but only vaguely due to the dim lighting.
Ash was still in his thoughts. He replayed the confrontation from before, thinking of all the clever remarks he could have made, all too late to say the least . "Whatever, I'm twice as good as Gary, right?" Ash spoke confidently even though what he felt inside was quite the opposite. He turned towards Pikachu who was gently nodding in approval, it momentarily aided he insecurity, up until he caught the hint of dejection in the other's honey eyes. He wanted to ask what was wrong but, due to his lack of concentration on where he was walking, instead ended up crashing into the chest of drawers to his left. When he looked back up into Pikachu eyes there was nothing but concern, he guessed he must have imagined the blond boy's sadness.
As they reached upstairs, the heart of the laboratory was revealed in all its blinding brightness. The large windows seen in the outside view illuminated the research floor, light bouncing of the several technological pieces. There were stairs right to the back of the room that lead up to an inner balcony, there the whole of Pallet town could be seen, the emerald trees billowing in the wind, the water trickling down the river, the village in complete serenity.
Inside, the most noticeable machine was the PokeBall Transfer machine, used for the transportation of Pokemon to their Trainers in a Pokemon Center, it occupied most of the space to the left of the room. This was all familiar to the boys, however what was a strange sight was the mad scientist, Professor Oak perched over a table with his hands moving like a maniac.
Ash and Pikachu shuffled closer to the man. Several chemicals on the table came into view, many of which - to Ash's concern - were plastered with warnings signs. Professor Oak seemed to be in the midst of a discovery, his eyes were glazed with excitement as he continued to mix several solutions into a flask.
Ash wasn't quite sure how to approach him, the professor was so occupied he hadn't noticed anyone enter the room. For a moment Ash considered returning at a later date but as he glanced once again at the middle aged man, it felt as if he were a child seeing his father after a long time apart. He had never had someone he could call a dad, however over the years he had come to realise this Professor was the closet thing to it.
"Hey Professor Oak! Sorry were a little late." Ash gestured with a wave as he finally plucked up the courage to interrupt.
The scientist momentarily froze to take a look at his visitors before the flask on the table began foaming violently, his hands went back to work as if they had never stopped. "Ahhh Ash, it's so great to see you! You've caught me in quite a sticky moment...oh...no..ohh my goodness...Ash could you possible pass me the hydronic acid?" his safety spectacles falling low on his nose, his hands too occupied to adjust them.
Ash hastily turned towards the shelf filled with several coloured beakers "Errr, what was its name again."
Professor teared his eyes away from the concoction in his hands to look up at Ash. "It's the red one, in the centre," panic evident in his voice as the flask began shaking without his control.
As soon as Ash had located it, he snatched it with as much care as he could, which wasn't any at all, and offered it to the Professor. The old man took it, swishing it around before pouring it into the large flask. There was a silence in the room as all the men observed the solution change in colour, there was a firm sigh of relief as the foaming lessened and the colour became a neutral green shade, all apart from Professor Oak who seemed to be somewhat disappointed.
"I guess, solution RX18 wasn't quite a successful as I thought it would be," the old man muttered morosely.
"Sorry Professor, we shouldn't have interrupted while you were working" Ash apologised, it was just his nature to feel guilty when other people made mistakes, Professor Oak knew this all too well.
"Oh it's not your fault, Ash! Science can be a real pain in the lumbago. Now, more importantly tell me how you are? My how you've grown into a fine, young man." The professor spoke, unable to keep his pride in check as he gave the boy a hug. Samuel Oak was the same as ever, his hair was still the same grey tone, the wisdom in his eyes had remained, he even wore the same white lab coat despite he had obviously added a new array of stains.
When they were done greeting each other, the middle-aged man turned his attention towards the blond-haired boy who had been watching them from the corner of his eye. Ash also had noticed Pikachu silently keeping to himself; it seemed all new people had the tendency to make him shy, regardless if had known them previously or not. Ash took the initiative to introduce the boy himself; "Professor oak this Pika, Pika this is...well...you know who this is".
Ash gently nudged Pikachu forward, who jumped slightly at the unexpected touch, after calming his nerves he took a deep bow and spoke; "Konnichiwa, it is very nice to be acquainted with you".
"Ahh yes, I believe you are the young fellow who has just arrived to Pallet town!" the Professor came up closer on inspection "You look very familiar, I'd say, almost too familiar" the atmosphere taking a serious edge as suspicion lingered in the old man's voice.
"I know! You look exactly like my nephew!" the Professor chuckled unable to stop his hand from ruffling Pikachu's blond hair. Just like that, any tension from beforehand was as good as gone. "You've been quite the talk of the town, you know?"
"Yes, we're extremely aware" Ash silently grumbled.
Pikachu felt his cheeks heat up as he acknowledged his new found attention, he gently nodded his head as he spoke, "the community has been nothing but enthusiastic."
"And as it should be!" Oak declared "This is the environment where Kanto's finest trainers are nurtured. Enthusiasm is the key to life."
Ash couldn't help but think otherwise, enthusiasm was great but not when it involved people fangirling over his former Pokemon. Especially when those people were also the ones who had devoted their lives to his arch nemesis.
It was no suprise his thoughts were once again on Gary, he knew it was only a matter of time it would start bugging him; Ash couldn't control his jealousy. "Soooo, I heard Gary's completely maxed out his box space on the computer system," he spoke trying to keep his voice as casual as possible, despite the comment was clearly out of place.
"Yes, quite an achievement on his part. I've never seen anything like it."
"Hmm I see, I guess with Gary on your side, my contribution seems scarce in comparison" Ash mumbled, letting his insecurity pour through. His words were nothing but an echo of his rivals.
"Not at all, Ash. You have a different styles of training Pokemon. You have great compassion and infallible determination, attributes that you pass on to your fellow Pokemon. It's fantastic to see them interact and more importantly it's essential for my research" Professor Oak spoke whilst gathering all contaminated equipment and gear onto a tray. He wiped down the table surface and returned all of the large text books into its designated shelf. It was only until the Professor noticed the outstretched silence that he realised how deep Ash was wallowing in doubt, normally it was impossible to stop the young boy from talking.
The Professor was a hundred percent certain that Ash would be successful, even more so than his own grandson, he only wished that Ash would also see his own potential too. "On your very first day as a trainer, Ash, I told you that the early bird gets the worm but I should've also mentioned that second mouse gets the cheese."
Ash had prepared himself to hear some weird metaphor because it was, well expected from the old man, but of course the words that had left the old man's mouth had made no sense what so ever. He stared blankly as confusion clouded his vision.
Professor Oak chuckled at his expression as he walked over to his computer, "the first mouse sets off the mousetrap leaving the second mouse, who came in late, to reap the glories of the cheese. Boys, you're the second mouse!" he spoke hoping that was enough to elaborate his point. He dropped into his blue chair before taking off his surgical gloves with a snap.
Ash thought about the wisdom the Professor had shared, what he interpreted was that despite Gary was always ahead of them, being second place might actually be an advantage. At least that's what he thought the old man was mumbling about, maybe it wasn't that at all but for most part, at least Ash had regained the majority of his self-confidence.
Professor Oak had been engaged in idle conversation with the boys for some hours, all the while absent-mindedly recording the results of his experiment into a computer document. The boys had taken their place on the brown couch, making sure to keep the conversation light and as far away from Pikachu as possible.
The clock on the wall was nearing close to 5pm, and Ash could tell he and Pika would have to head back soon. He still, however had one important question he had yet to ask. "Prof, this may sound a bit off topic, but I was wondering if a Pokemon has ever...ever become human. Not that I know anything about that, of course, I'm just a kid! What would I know? Ha ha" Ash cringing inwardly as he his hand came to rub the back of his neck, today was not the day he learned how to play it cool.
The Professor raised his eyebrow at the unexpected question, it really was off topic. "Mmm, well it's very interesting you asked that, Ash, there are studies currently surrounding that, scientists have been trying to achieve this for quite sometime but the results are unsuccessful," he spoke as he continued to tap away on the keyboard.
Ash had hoped that perhaps there was more information, he need it desperately...for Pikachu. "That's a s-shame, I guess they haven't figured out how to turn a human into a Pokemon either then." Ash's sad voice caused Professor Oak to turn away from he work completely and give his full attention to the boy.
"A human to a Pokemon? That...That can't be done, why would anyone want that machine made?" Professor Oak asked, genuine concern borrowed deep in his eyes. A machine like that would only cause troubles, he thought.
"Oh, god no, I don't want to become a Pokemon or anything, if that's what you're thinking but... What if they did succeed in making a Pokemon into a human, surely they should have invented something to reverse it, just in case"
"Well, the experiments done have really alluded to nothing. For such a machine to be necessary, the research would need to advance greatly."
"Oh I see." Ash mumbled.
"Tell me Ash what makes you so curious about it?"
"Oh nothing, it's just something I overheard, forget I even mentioned it." Ash murmured, however he could already see the wheels turning in Professor Oak's head. Subtlety was not the young boy's forte and without any distraction Oak was bound to piece it together "Don't worry I'm not going to steal your job as a scientist, I much prefer being a trainer" He forced his laugh slightly, in an attempt to divert Oak's attention.
"A trainer's life seems more adventurous" Pikachu interrupted, surprising everyone in the room. He hadn't spoken much before hand, keeping a low profile and what not, but his outburst had definitely attracted all attention.
"Oh really and why is that?" The professor enquired, taking the bait. The boy had been so introverted earlier, the Professor was every bit intrigued to discover what his next words were.
"Because you get to travel the entire region, you get to face exciting battles and the friends you make along the way are the best you'll ever have" Pikachu spoke, passion resonating with every word.
The Professor nodded in approval, pleased to finally see more of the blond boy's personality. He made his way to his mahogany desk, removing a small golden key from his pocket to open one of the drawers, he rummaged around for a moment before taking out none other than a Pokedex. " It would be an honour to have another eager trainer like you, assisting my research."
Pikachu felt the Pokedex in his hand, it was about the size of a notebook and was extremely light weight in his grip. He carefully opened it up, the 'Hello' of dexter giving him a bit of a scare. He quickly shut the lid of the red mechanism before placing it back in the hand of the professor.
"I don't want to seem rude Professor Oak but I can't except your offer. You've seem to have mistaken me for a trainer when I am nothing of the such. I don't even own any Pokemon." It hurt Pikachu to say these words, to ignore his hidden desire to battle Ash one day, however what gave him the right to take charge of other Pokemon when deep down he was one himself.
"Every trainer starts their journey somewhere, take this Pokedex." The Professor placed it firmly back into Pikachu's hand before rushing back to his desk. He submerged his arm into one of the drawers, his voice was laboured with exertion; "I really wish I hadn't run out of starter Pokemon *grunt* but if only I can find some pokeballs for you, *grunt* I wonder we're I placed..."
After a while he finally dislodged his arm free and when he did, he revealed two sealed flasks of potion. "Ahh right, I don't seem to have any pokeballs in stock at the moment but in the meantime take these useful potions, You may have to wait a week or so once I get Pokemart to deliver."
"That's alright, Professor" Pikachu replied cheerfully despite he was disappointed. The idea was planted in his mind now and there was nothing he wanted more than to begin training immediately, to catch up to Ash, regardless how far behind he was.
Ash could see that Pikachu was downcast just by the way the boy pensively swigged the purple solution, a vacant look in his gaze. Ash decided it would be best to bid the Professor a goodbye, not wanting to impose with their presence any longer. He had an idea how to uplift Pikachu's mood but he wanted it to be done in private.
Once all the the farewells were made, Ash dragged Pikachu down the stairs and through to the empty, dimly lit corridor. Ash turned Pikachu towards him, holding his shoulders so that their faces were aligned, his dark chocolate eyes melting into the honey ones before him. "Pikachu, I want you to have this" he whispered all the whilst fumbling to take pokeballs from his lime coloured rucksack. When he revealed the objects in his hand, the sound of Pikachu's gasp was closer than he had expected.
"How did you know, Ash?" the blond boy whispered.
"I hope becoming a trainer like me, will make you at least, feel a tiny bit happier as a human." Ash replied, not answering the question. The wide smile that emerged on Pikachu's face was the very reaction Ash had desired to see. Ash supposed he could have given him the pokeballs when Professor Oak was present but then again, he was too selfish to let anyone else catch a glimpse at the beautiful smile that was directed for only him.
Pikachu reached for the four pokeballs, his golden eyes brimming with excitement. When he placed them away deep in his trouser pocket, he couldn't stop himself from placing his arms around Ash's neck. All his thanks conveyed in that one innocent hug. When Pikachu felt the other's arms curl around his back, his impulse reaction was to burrow his head into the crook of Ash's neck.
Pikachu had no intention to return to his original state, no intention at all.