.Author's Note.

Wrote random snippets of this one night in the bathtub and finished this while camping. Basically it's a simple, Ash-centric drabble. No idea what inspired me to do this, but here it is. I usually don't write one-shots (for the reason I can't write anything short), so I shot for less than 1500 words, which surprisingly, I achieved. This has no real plot and storyline, but it has its meaning and such (or at least I hope it does).

Speaking of which, I'm going to start writing another Pokemon one-shot (a looong one) soon, so that'll be in the works too. But for now, I'm satisfied with having finished this one.

Main character(s): Ash Ketchum

Genre: Family

Number of words: 1300

Disclaimer: I don't own Pokemon. Duh. If I did, Ash would age, the manga would be a separate anime, and Pokeshipping would be truly canon. Oh yeah, and I would be a VA.




Mama, why are we alone?

He used to be optimistic. He never once had a single smudge on his rose-colored glasses. "He's away training to be a Pokemon Master!" was what he'd tell those that gave him pitying glances. "And I'm going to be just like him someday!" There was never any reason for him to think any differently, at least not then. His hopes were too high, his dreams untainted by the cryptic reality.

Mama, when's Papa coming home?

The first time that question came from the boy's mouth—the only time it had come from his mouth—he could only stand there, cocooned in that rigid, unfamiliar sensation of perplexity as tears began to well up in his mother's usually-cheerful eyes. Something in that response scared him. And something in that question had caused it.

He never asked that question again. But he never stopped wondering. Some nights, walking by his mother's bedroom, he'd hear the sound of her crying, but he'd never tell. He'd clench his fists and look to the floor, but never go in. Somewhere deep down, he knew that if he did, he may get answers. Answers that would crush any remaining hopes that were sparred by the passing years.

In a roundabout way, he was defying himself with that sort of logic, but that's how his young, naïve mind operated. He wished for answers, but none that'd put a crack in those tinted shades he wore. He was very careful with those glasses, careful to keep from smudging and scratching the crystal-clear lenses. After all, they had to be perfect.

But over time, such perfection was impossible to retain. As the years passed, the blemishes were far from few, but he kept wearing them. Because when it all came down to it, everyone had their own demons, right? Their personal skeletons in their closet? Yeah…

This was normal.

But this was normality he wanted to change; yes, some mysteries were better off unsolved, but this was one mystery whose answer was necessity. This was something he couldn't ask about or merely forget. This was something he had to chase.

When he set out from Pallet at the age of ten, it was for far more reasons than a journey to be the best, than a test to see just how far he could push himself, than a frantic pursuit of the answers he so desperately desired.

It was a shout out—no, a cry—a single, solitary act to stand above everything else all to induce that one, lone realization he strived for. "Hey, Dad! Look at what I've become!"

Look at what you've left behind…

There were some days on this journey when he was angry, encapsulated by this unending barrage of this same, agonizing question escalating into more heartfelt forms the longer he spiraled into that perpetual abyss, "Why? Why did you do it? Why did you leave? Why would you leave us? Why would you leave me?"

But it was impossible for him to make an accusing judgment for long—he couldn't make an enemy of someone he'd never met. He grasped to hopeful wishes like a lifeline, whispering those five words at self-redemption, "Dad, I didn't mean it," holding on with all his strength and will for that lone desire of a connection.

"He cares," he'd murmur within the midst of that suffocating doubt, desperately clinging to everything—anything that could keep him from succumbing. "He just has…" Brown eyes would disappear, fleeing from this reality. "…prior commitments."

That's when he started. It didn't matter what day it was or how he was feeling; in confused, whirling feelings' storm, he'd pull out a small notepad from his backpack and write. He wrote each and every day. He wrote letters. Letters he knew he could never send. He kept them hidden from the world, from any contrasting ideals but his own. They weren't meant for the world; if Dad couldn't read them, then no one could. They're for Dad…

He wrote of everything—thoughts, feelings, and inclinations that changed by the day, by each tick of the clock. Contemplative letters, accusing letters, letters with innermost dreams and secrets. Letters he never once regretted writing. And he signed them all the same way; in his messy, boyish scrawl, he'd write, –Your son.

"Dear Dad," he scribbled, then pausing to ponder. His eyes came to a lamenting rest on that certain, irksome, redheaded girl as she put her hair up into a messy, side ponytail, watching each delicate movement with distinct acuteness. When she noticed his gaze, his eyes fell back down to the page before him and he wrote, "How do you tell if a girl likes you?"

And as his adventures progressed and he grew older, his letters evolved. From a nature that inquired, "What do I do, Dad? You never got to teach me about this stuff," to "Hey, Dad. I got an idea. What do you think about this?" He didn't want guidance; he wanted opinion. He wasn't looking to tread on his father's path; he sought after blazing his own. Dad wasn't a tall, shadowy figure to peer up at from below, but a viewpoint to discuss with man to man.

"Dear Dad," he once wrote, nibbling absentmindedly on his lip as he thought. The setting sun casted countless hues of red, purple, and yellow over him like a warm, handmade quilt. "Do you believe in heaven?" And his mind would add the inevitable, proceeding question, but he refrained from voicing it in ink, "And is that where you are right now?"

There was something that lingered in his mind that constantly answered "no" to that question. Something that had survived the constant abuse of toyed-with ambitions, daydreams, and things just beyond his fingertips. Maybe it was instinct, maybe it was hope. Maybe it was his father himself.

A part of him had always looked past logic and beckoned the rest of him to follow suit; he was a dreamer. He lived by the idea that anything was possible. He had been a witness to things supposedly impossible—he'd been involved with them—to things some would call miracles. After every experience he faced, he'd be a fool to say it all could be interpreted and explained by logic. Some things, he firmly believed, simply weren't meant to be explained.

And after a while, he realized, maybe this case with his father wasn't meant to be explained, either. If he was supposed to find answers, he most certainly would, if even by some sort of miracle all of its own. There remained the possibility he already met this man for whom his search existed, two people passing each other by on this journey called life. And that's precisely what they were, two individuals living their individual existences, unconnected. For the time being.

And while he still wonders, dreaming up the face he had spent years trying to imagine, he's going to let the dice fall as they may. A smile, a pair of chocolate brown eyes shining in the stars' pale light. He raises a hand and slips off his old, beaten-up, rose-colored glasses. He slides them into his back pocket; after all, he may want them later.

But not now.

He sits up, sliding quietly out of his sleeping bag, and begins to dig in his bag for that old notepad. His eyes peer over at the lightly-illuminated silhouettes of his companions on either side of him, snuggled comfortably in their own sleeping bags. The crisp paper crinkling to his fingers' touch, he flips to a new page—the last page in that worn-out book—and writes,

Hey Dad—

I hope I make you proud. Wherever you are.