A/N: Sorry it's been so long, school work and things of that nature. Here's the next chapter, don't know how long until the next one.
It had been an hour since I told Iris and Cilan everything that I had confided in Brock and Misty. It was odd though, I was expecting them to be revolted and angry but not this…it's actually kind of funny.
Of course they were shocked, but at the conclusion of my story, they were still here. Iris had launched into lectures about how the bond of friendship was so strong that they would be there for him no matter what and then managed to compare it to friendships between dragon Pokémon which Axew was happy to nod along with her in agreement.
Cilan, on the other hand, put on his 'Detective Connoisseur' hat and attempted to draw out reasons that it could have happened from it being a curse from an ancient Pokémon to genetics really just didn't like the Ketchum family.
I laughed when he said that. It was really the only time I'd actually laughed happily since battling in the Vertress Conference. Even though I'd lost to Cameron, I still felt proud of my Pokémon for making it that far.
The doctors had ruled out any genetic mishaps immediately. He said that there was a faraway land on the other side of the world where a few people had this rare disease that made them stop aging, but I showed no symptoms of this 'Syndrome X' as it was called. Even though my body stayed the same, my brain seemed to be thinking like a sixteen year old. I knew because I had to keep myself from swearing at Team Rocket for the past two years. It was also a bit uncomfortable explaining that even though I thought like a sixteen year old, my body never grew and my teenage hormones never came and that everyone was okay.
After what seemed like forever, we arrived in Kanto. I tried to keep myself occupied by battling, but not many people on this boat were up to it. Cilan and Iris engaged me in battle, but both of them were soundly defeated.
The ship had to wait until another one left before advancing.
"Attention passengers, we have docked in Vermilion City" Porter announced. "You will notice a few lovely schools of Magikarp and Goldeen floating in the docks. You are allowed to capture them, but we would ask that you wait until everyone onboard is out of harm's way."
Tourists took pictures and there were happy chattering people.
My friends and I found our way to the Pokémon center, apparently the last leg of the journey hadn't agreed with Pansage and unfortunately his lunch made reappearance.
We gave all of our Pokémon to Nurse Joy just to make sure they were fine. She gave all but Pansage back right away. The grass type needed a bit more rest before being returned to Cilan.
"Excuse me; do you know where the Pokémon Center is?" A voice asked from behind me.
I was stunned and turned around to find a young boy there. "This is the Pok…Max?" I squinted then smiled. "Max, it is you!" I said happily, ruffling the young one's hair.
"Hey!" Max grumbled, patting down his hair.
"Max, are you challenging trainers again?" The voice sounded familiar to me.
"May! Oh, Dawn, you're here too?"
I saw the blue haired girl walking behind the brunette.
"Wow, I haven't seen you guys in a long time." I paused a moment. I actually hadn't seen May in two years and Dawn only recently. That must mean she's eleven by now and May's twelve…which means…
"Max, you got your first Pokémon?" I asked.
"Yup!" Max said proudly. "I followed May through Hoenn again and then Dawn decided to participate in Hoenn too. I missed you. Oh yeah, remember our promise?"
"You bet!" I said. "Let's battle while Pansage is healing."
Cilan looked back at Nurse Joy.
"Go on, Pansage needs as much rest as possible so don't worry at all." She said.
"Alright." Cilan said.
I grinned and followed Max out of the Pokémon center with the others behind us.
"Alright, this match will be one on one." Cilan said. "Ready? Go!"
"Go, Oshowatt!" I threw the pokeball and out came Oshowatt, ready for battle.
Max smiled and threw his pokeball.
"Treecko" The grass Pokémon said.
"Hey, you got Treecko as your first Pokémon." I said.
"Not really." Max replied. "Treecko, pound!"
Oshowatt barely got out of the way when Treecko's fist went by.
Treecko was hit by a blast of water before Max could tell it to move.
Treecko fell to the ground and refused to get up.
"Aww, Treecko…not again."
"Treecko is unable to battle, the winner is Ash." Cilan announced.
Max called Treecko back and looked disappointed.
"What happened?" I asked. True, Oshowatt was more powerful than Treecko, but…Treecko should have at least been able to get up and try to fight again. After all, the grass Pokemon did have an advantage.
Max shook his head and went back to the Pokémon center.
"May, what happened?"
"Dawn, do you mind telling?" May asked.
Dawn smiled and led us to a table. May walked over to a bench where Max was sitting.
"I met them in Petalburg." Dawn said. "I was coming to compete in Hoenn and Max wanted to try out for the Hoenn league, but he couldn't get any badges. May told me that the Treecko he has isn't cooperating with Max. So far he's only caught one other Pokémon…and…" She looked uncomfortable.
"Some of the trainers laughed in his face." Dawn said. "They were able to take Treecko down in a short amount of time. Sometimes even shorter than your battle with him. Sometimes Treecko refused to battle at all and hid behind Piplup."
"Piplup Pip!" Piplup said sadly.
"How did he catch another Pokémon?" I wondered. A memory came back of our journeys. "Is it Ralts?" I thought out loud.
"Yeah, how'd you know?" Dawn said.
"I used to travel with them and Brock, remember? One day, Max found this injured Ralts and he took care of it. He promised to come back for it."
"That would explain how they knew each other."
I looked over at Max, he looked put down. I left the others to talk to each other and approached the brother and sister.
May smiled and went to join the others.
"Hey, Max. I heard you caught that Ralts."
Max smiled. "Yeah…" he whispered.
"Did I ever tell you that Pikachu refused to listen to me when we first met?"
"Pika!" Pikachu confirmed.
"But Pikachu realized that I was not an enemy and came to save me."
"I think you told us once." Max said. "But I don't want to almost die or something."
"No, but you can train Treecko. It looks like the problem is nerves and not obedience."
"Hmm, if Brock were here he'd say that it all depends on how the Pokemon and trainer get along with each other. Did you introduce yourself to Treecko?"
Max's eyes widened, I tried not to laugh as he jumped up and stared at the doors where Nurse Joy took Treecko.
"Maybe Treecko wasn't that confident and he didn't know what to do. Maybe Ralts can help you."
Max called out Ralts. "Hey there."
"Ra?" The Pokémon asked.
"I need your help, Ralts. Treecko isn't feeling super confident and I think it's my fault." Max said.
"So could you help me get Treecko's confidence back? Then we can all be a great team."
"Ralts!" Ralts said happily.
"Thanks, I knew I you'd help. Thanks to you too, Ash!"
I smiled. At that moment, Nurse Joy came out with a pokeball. "Treecko's all better, Max." She said. "He just seemed a little nervous, but nothing out of the ordinary."
"Hey, maybe I can introduce Sceptile to him."
"Treecko, come on out!"
Treecko burst from the ball in a flash.
"Treecko?" The grass Pokémon asked.
"Pika pi, Pikachu"
"Piplup lup, Piiiiplup!"
Treecko blushed and looked down.
"Pika, Pikachu Pika Pi…"
"Chu." Pikachu responded with a smile.
Treecko looked up at Max. "Ko?"
"I guess I should have introduced myself." Max said. "I'm Max. I was hoping to help you grow stronger and we could be great trainers…but I guess I messed up. I wanted to be your friend. Can we still be friends?"
Treecko studied Max for a bit.
"Piplup pip?" Piplup asked.
"Pika!" Pikachu said disapprovingly. I had to try not to laugh, whatever Piplup said didn't agree with Pikachu. I watched Piplup sadly return to Dawn. "Pi…" Pikachu sighed.
I couldn't help it, I burst out laughing. Max started laughing along with me and then Ralts followed. Pikachu looked ready to shock us, but then Treecko whispered something in the electric mouse's ear and both of them laughed too.
Piplup looked insulted until Dawn began tickling him. May, Cilan and Iris laughed along without really knowing why.
And then it happened…
I don't know exactly how, but I ended up on the floor groaning in pain.
"Ash!" May and Dawn gasped.
"Hey, are you okay?" Dawn asked.
"Of course he's not!" Max said. "Nurse Joy, help!"
"It's alright…" I groaned through gritted teeth. "I'm fine"
"Are you sure?" I heard Nurse Joy ask. They helped me sit back on the chair.
"Hey, mind your own business!" Iris snapped at a few people who were staring.
A boy was about to argue, but Axew jumped from the girl's hair and frightened him.
"I'll be alright." I said. "I think it was just from laughing too much…and I ate a lot on the boat." That was true; I couldn't help stuffing my mouth when I was hungry. "No need to worry."
Dawn rolled her eyes. "Alright. Should we start heading to your house?"
"Yeah…who wants to fly?" I grinned.
The others looked stunned.
"Fly? Are you crazy?" Iris asked. "Don't be such a kid."
I glared at her. "Stop calling me a kid! I'm older than Max and he HATES being called a kid."
"How are we going to fly?" Dawn asked.
"Wha-?" Cilan said. "It's not possible to fly, is it?"
"You keep forgetting that we have two big Pokemon with wings."
"Charizard and Dragonite?" Iris asked.
"Ash Ketchum, you're insane."
"Oh wow, I love riding Pokemon." Max said. "I call dibs on Charizard!" He said.
"I don't know about you, but I prefer keeping my feet firmly on the ground." Cilan said. "I guess I'll meet you there."
"You can ride Mamoswine." Dawn said. "I'll go with you, two is probably enough for either Pokemon."
"May, do you want to ride on Dragonite?" Iris asked.
"If you're alright with it." May answered.
"Awesome!" I said as I pulled out Charizard's Pokeball. "Let's do it!"
Charizard and Dragonite resumed their rival glares when they were released. I told Charizard to play nice and helped Max climb on while I got behind him.
Iris was happily sitting on Dragonite and May was nervously sitting behind her.
Cilan and Dawn were on Mamoswine and ready to follow. May sent out Beautifly so that Mamoswine could follow if they got lost.
"Ready?" I said.
Charizard huffed and Dragonite growled.
I felt Charizard's wings beat as he took off with a push. Dragonite was next to us and I heard Charizard growl.
"Having a race?" I asked.
Charizard grinned, then realized that Dragonite was ahead of them.
"You don't even know where Pallet town is!" I shouted.
Charizard managed to catch up and both Pokemon were in the lead. Max was cheering and laughing. Iris and May were happy as well, but May looked a little green to me.
I looked back to see Beautifly trailing behind us and Mamoswine following on the ground.
Everything was going well, I ignored the pains that were threatening to take over my head. Everything was good, that's what I tried to tell myself until-
"Dragonite, no!" Iris yelled.
I turned to see Dragonite unusually close and then the dragon crashed into Charizard. Charizard was stunned and growled at the other Pokemon.
"Stop it!" Iris said.
May was trying not to look. Max had a worried expression.
"Charizard, don't fi-"
The rest of my sentence was blocked by a burst of fire that nearly caught Iris's hair.
WHAM! Dragonite collided again. I shifted a little before making sure Max and Pikachu were safe.
"Hold on tight." I told Max. "Pikachu use thunderbo-"
BAM! Charizard collided into Dragonite this time and I was nearly thrown into May.
"Okay, I regret this now!" May squealed.
I looked down to ask Dawn for help, but we were above the forest. Beautifly caught my eye and immediately flew down into the forest.
Both of them had collided at the same time and this time I was thrown off.
"ASH!" Max, May, and Iris yelled.
"CHARIZARD!" I screamed as I plummeted down to earth. I was hoping none of them would jump down insanely to save me. I saw a flash of orange, but it was disappearing into the trees.
Speaking of the trees, they were getting closer and closer and I was nowhere near slowing down. I heard Pikachu call out, but my mouth was too dry to respond.
Would this be the end? Would I never be able to finish the master quest I'd so been looking forward too? Is this the end of Ash Ketchum? Maybe that's what this stupid curse wanted…to get rid of every last Ketchum…
So…I guess this is it… I closed my eyes…flashbacks…I was one and my dad let me touch a pokemon for the first time…I was two and I fell off a pokemon and Dad felt so bad…I was three when he showed me how to battle…I was four and I played with two year old Molly Hale… I was five and my dad left on his journey…I wonder if he ever heard that Molly's mother died a couple months later…I was five and I found out my cousin was twelve…I was six when he died…I was seven and Gary Oak stopped being my best friend…I was eight and we fought over that Pokeball we found in the stream…I was nine and my mother explained more to me about my condition…Gary found out, but he promised not to tell a soul…I was ten and I started my Pokemon journey…I met Brock, Misty, many friends, and most of all Pikachu…Pikachu, my best friend…I was eleven, telling Brock and Misty about my condition…I was twelve, watching May in contests and competing in the Hoenn League and Battle Frontier…I was thirteen and competing in Sinnoh…I was fourteen and a half when I started in Unova…I was fifteen and a half, cheering Virgil on as he won the Vertress Conference…sixteen…I never made it to sixteen…my birthday was supposed to be in three months…now I'm falling…hard to believe such accomplishments could be made by a foolish teen…
Iris was right, I am a kid…I thought that Dragonite and Charizard could resolve their differences and have a little race...
Now I'm falling…
Strange, everything just got quieter…
I hit something… my eyes opened…I could just see blurry shapes…then it was dark…