Symbiosis

In a different life Ash Ketchum looks upon his world from an unique perspective.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7917071/1/Symbiosis

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Do you have everything?

Yes Poison Lance. I have all the notebooks, the pencils, red pens, and crayons that you had Rattata steal for me, answered Ash.

It was during the end of August, that the old weedle, Poison Lance, had started to prepare the pokéraised child Ash for his single year of public education.

Do you remember everything I told you? Asked the elder pokémon.

Yes Poison Lance, Ash replied, rolling his amber eyes. A lot of children will be mean to me because of how I talk human. I'm never supposed to reveal that I can understand pokémon to classmates or to show any sign of that talent in front of my classmates. I'm to listen to Pocket Watch whenever he tells me to do something. I'm to avoid the subject of my parents. If other children ask, I'm to change the subject or say that they wouldn't like me talking about it. If the teacher says something I'm to listen to it like it was from you. I'm supposed to talk to you before I tell anyone anything major.

Good child, replied Poison Lance. He briefly nuzzled the boy's hair, while Ash tied his shoe. Do not worry. The other children would not be cruel to you if they had the full story. But if they had the full story-

Then the villains could get me. I know, I know. It's just- started Ash. But no six or seven year old could adequately express what Ash felt. It could be said that no star incapable of going supernova could adequately express what he felt.

They had not stolen your parents and friends from you. That it was not left up to an old weelde to raise you. Poison Lance sighed, But it does not matter what we want. What matters is simply what is.

I don't feel any regret, or worry, or remorse, or anything un-good towards you raising me Poison Lance, returned the boy, blushing. The old bug chuckled.

And the only thing I regret about dealing with you, boy, is that your parents and their pokémon could not be here to see it as well, giving another reassuring nuzzle. But do not worry about such things. Go and learn how to read and write, and hopefully, how to speak with your species speak better. Now, do you remember your name for when you are at school?

"Aaron Autumns" replied Ash, finishing the task of tying his shoe. He turned around, knelt, and hugged Poison Lance. "Worry not. I be fine."

It is my duty to worry. For if I will not worry, then who will? responded the old weedle. He nuzzled Ash. But, I suppose my duty is fulfilled. Go with Pocket Watch now and have the best first day at school that you are able.

Thanks Poison Lance. I'll see you later cried the boy as he grabbed his backpack and ran off to meet Pocket Watch.

The weedle watched him run off. Human parents were so lucky he thought. They never had to worry about the kids they sent off to school revealing terrible secrets and being snatched up by an evil organization. They had no reason whatsoever to worry about those kids. Those fortunate misbegotten human parents.

It was a very difficult task, Pocket Watch reflected. After some reconnaissance he and Poison Lance had changed their plan. Instead of confusing the teacher daily, they decided to confuse a few bureaucrats and got Ash Ketchum officially enrolled in the local Pallet Town School as Aaron Autumns. The hypno was even good enough to get him into speech therapy.

Using Psychic powers in such a manner was difficult if one did not want to damage the subject. That was why the two pokémon amended their plan and decided to get to the root of the problem. The hypno would still have to come to school each day and keep an eye out for anyone suspicious, either a suspicious seeming character or a person who was suspicious of Ash. If he spotted one then he was to delicately and covertly use his powers on them.

Honestly, Pocket Watch preferred the days when he could just mind crush people in the name of stealth. But these people were not Team Rocket, most likely. They were, for the most part, well-meaning civilians who would be concerned for a child.

Or if they were Team Rocket, then they were part an evil team that would notice if one of their members was unexpectedly mind crushed in a school. One of the two.

Of course he could always mind crush them after the reported back...

Damnit! He was assisting his dear friend with an altruistic task here. Crushing minds could wait.

It was time to take Ash Ketchum, sorry, Aaron Autumns to school.

It was not a bad first day, at least by the standards of the three involved. A bad first day would have to involve some sort of investigation being launched (Poison Lance's fear), being kicked out for being too stupid (Ash's fear), or something happening that would increase the number of people that needed to be confused or the arrival of plenty of prime candidates for mind crushing that could not be crushed due to circumstances (Pocket Watch's fear; He also noticed that he had been wanting to crush minds a lot more since he had heard Ash's story).

Ash considered it a big success.

It had been during recess, where Ash had been sitting alone. He remembered Poison Lance's warning, about how the other kids might be mean to him due to his sub-par language skills. So he decided to avoid the other kids and just sit in some empty corner of the playground. It had been a fine plan. Unfortunately the plan was no match for a rouge soccer ball.

Blinking the stars out of his eyes, Ash sat up, looking around for the projectile.

"Hey kid!" Someone shouted, "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine" replied Ash.

A brown haired youth with coal black eyes ran over to him. He glanced around and then grabbed the soccer ball. The child then turned to Ash.

"Sorry bout that. Mishit the ball" spoke the brown haired youth. "I'm Gary Oak."

From what little Ash knew about human etiquette he guessed he was supposed to introduce himself.

"I'm A-aron Autumns" Ash replied.

"Why don't you come play with us?" inquired Gary.

"I'm not good at that" Ash answered. He was following some advice that Pocket Watch had given him, to keep his sentences as short as possible to conceal as much of his linguistic ignorance as he was able.

"Pssh. We're not really playing soccer so much as kicking the ball occasionally as we argue about pokémon."

"Really? I'll go" replied Ash. He wanted to find out what his peers knew about pokémon.

The two ran across the playground as small children are prone to doing, towards a group of kids standing in a field.

"This is Aaron" announced Gary, as they arrived, "he's playing with us now."

There was a scattered chorus of hellos. Most the group was not paying attention to the newcomer and the returning child. They were focused on an argument occurring between a small boy with light purple hair and a somewhat rotund black haired boy. The subject of the debate was of course, pokémon. In particular about whether or not any number of rattatas could ever hope to bring down a snorlax.

"A snorlax could just blast them all at once with Hyper Beam" said the small boy "and crush any survivors with Body Slam. What are the rattatas going to do, Quick Attack them?"

"They could get lucky" refuted the rotund boy "if they all attacked at once-"

"They would just bounce off of it. Or maybe they'd hurt it a bit, then snorlax would use Rest and fall asleep on them and squish them. Face it, there's no way any number of rattatas could beat snorlax."

Ash recalled talking with some rattatas and Poison Lance about days gone by, when Poison Lance had fought alongside the human Lucas to stop Team Rocket.

"Not true" he spoke up. All the eyes in the group turned to him, and Ash blushed.

"Oh really" said the purple haired boy haughtily, "how can a rattata ever beat up a snorlax. They're all too weak-"

"Sucker Punch start," Ash spoke heatedly "snorlax surprise, strong rattata should know Double Team, snorlax misses, Super Fang, Quick Attack to dodge snorlax. Rattata use Double Team again, Quick Attack dodge follow. Hyper Fang, stupid snorlax use Rest, smart snorlax use Defense Curl. Rattata uses Super Fang on stupid snorlax and Hyper Fang till it defeated. Rattata use more Double Team and Quick Attack dodge on smart snorlax, depends on if smart snorlax ever hits it."

The group of kids blinked. Taking a bit of time to decipher what Aaron (Ash) had said, Gary thought the strategy over.

Using Quick Attack to repeatedly dodge attacks could exhaust a pokémon pretty quickly. But a rattata that knew Double Team would either have to be well trained or very intelligent and strong. A pokémon of that level could probably manage it. Using Super Fang to take down large chunks of the snorlax's endurance was a good move, as was repeating it on a sleeping snorlax. One could beat a snorlax that tried to use its Rest ability with a sufficiently powerful rattata in that manner. And a more intelligent one, or one under the guidance of a trainer would probably use some move to reduce the rattata's ability to hurt the snorlax after seeing what damage the purple pokémon could do. It wasn't foolproof, and Aaron knew it. As soon as the rattata got hit it was all over.

"Anyway" continued Ash "not right fight. Rattata should fight munchlax, Raticate should fight snorlax."

"What's a Munchlax" asked the purple haired boy, mulling over the pokeraised child's words.

"What Snorlax evolve from" answered Ash.

"I didn't know that snorlaxs evolved from anything. Gary is he right?" asked the rotund kid.

Gary thought about it for a moment.

"Yeah, I think so. I remember grandpa saying something about the pre-evolved form of Snorlax not being found in Kanto" answered the auburn haired child, "And I think Aaron's strategy would work. Not sure though, I'll have to ask grandpa."

"Really!" exclaimed the rotund kid. He turned to Ash. "Hey Aaron, if you're so smart, why do you talk like that?"

Ash blushed and rubbed the back of his head.

"I no speak good" he replied.

"Did you fill your brain up with too much knowledge on pokémon?" inquired Gary "that you forgot how to talk right."

"Maybe?"

"Cool! I didn't know it was possible to really fill up brains like that!" exclaimed Gary excitedly. He started to examine Ash's head, running from one side of the boy to the other looking for any sign of brain overflow.

"That why I come school" said Ash, "learn how talk right again. And read."

"You mean you actually want to learn that boring stuff?" said the purple haired boy. "Don't you want to learn more about pokémon?"

"Learn that home already" replied Ash, still mortified at the attention. "Learn read and can learn pokémon from books too. Learn speak and can ask people bout pokémon."

"What do your parents do? Is it something poke-related?" asked a child from the crowd.

"Not supposed to talk bout it. But lots pokémon involved."

"Cooool!"

And then the bell rung, signaling that recess was over.

Getting Ash out of school was slightly more difficult than getting him to school.

First the hypno had to wait until he separated from some boy Ash had been animatedly discussing something with. Pocket Watch was uncomfortable using his psychic cloaking technique on so many ordinary people. There should not be any negative repercussions from using the technique on ordinary minds, at the current intensity, but Pocket Watch knew that the best way to be sure of that was to never use it on said minds. Ash and Gary eventually said their cheerful goodbyes, knowing that they would see each other the next day.

Now came the hardest part. Pocket Watch had to wait until no one was directly looking at Ash, as the boy wandered away from the crowd of parents collecting children, and then when he had the split second opportunity, enfold him in a self-perpetuating psychic cloak that functioned via ocular hypnosis to edit the information the brain received, in order to remove Ash from their vision, and use a mild memory suppressant technique combined with an avoidance technique so that nobody looked too closely either.

Pocket Watch and Luke had developed it together in their operations against Team Rocket. Most trainers with Psychic pokémon from that era had at least one cloaking technique, implemented through a wide variety of measures. It was said that Samuel Oak, the former Pokémon Champion, and his psychic pokémon had developed a cloaking technique so powerful that no one could break it from the outside. And if one was on the inside one would first have to deal with Oak and his pokémon before you could break it.

The moment came and Ash was veiled from the world. Pocket Watch waited for Ash to come to him before heading off into the forest that surrounded Pallet Town.

All that messing with people's minds was a headache. Why did he agree to do this again?

It was the best day ever! shouted Ash, smiling so widely that the top of his head seemed to be in danger of falling off.

Right.

Poison Lance and Pocket Watch suffered a brief episode of unspecified heart problems when they learned that Ash had made friends with Gary Oak, the grandson of Professor Samuel Oak, the one person against the had absolutely no plan and no workable defense against.

Prudence suggested that they should immediately either forbid Ash from associating with the boy or remove him from school and start over in Pewter City. But either action might spark the interest of Professor Oak, and he would send Ash off to an orphanage. But allowing Ash to remain in contact with the boy might mean that Gary would mention something about his new friend to the professor and then Oak would investigate and send Ash off to an orphanage... oh my oh my oh my.

These thoughts went through their heads in a split second, whirling about, and chasing each other in circles. Of course when Ash exclaimed that he couldn't wait to play with Gary again the next day the mattered was settled. Ash would continue to go to school as planned, unaware of the extreme stress he had caused the two pokémon in that moment.

Ash had been at school for several months before he first really learned about Pokémon Trainers. He knew a bit about humans and pokémon working together from the old war stories that Poison Lance told about the fight against Team Rocket, and about the older war. The terrible war that shattered the world. Human's and pokémon had fought together in both wars, side by side against other humans and pokémon, working together and sacrificing everything together.

But he had no clue about what Pokémon Trainers were supposed to do.

"What'd mean, catching pokémon?" Ash asked, horrified.

"I mean battling wild pokémon and then catching them in a pokéball" answered Gary.

"Kidnapping pokémon" speaked Ash in horror. He remembered something else Gary had said.

"And battling?" Ash asked, his voice going higher in horror.

"Yeah, having pokémon battles with other trainers" Gary replied, looking at Ash's horrified expression with confusion "How do you know so much about pokémon, but nothing about pokémon trainers?"

The bell rang, saving Ash from having to answer as the class was dismissed. Gary shouted and waved his goodbyes before dashing off.

Ash left the school in a stupor, not noticing anything, not even when Pocket Watch joined him. His mind was overloaded with what he had learned about the cruelty of mankind. Hunting down pokémon, stuffing them in a little ball, and then making them fight each other. Taking them from their families and homes and everything they knew, imprisoning them in a cruel little space for up to months at a time, and then only letting them out so that they could fight other prisoners. If that's what humans did, Ash didn't want to be human.

It was a wonder Poison Lance let him live, let alone raise a disgusting creature like himself.

Poison Lance was taken by surprise when he Pocket Watch had delivered the boy home that day. As soon as the human child had seen the weedle, Ash had immediately rushed over, dropped to his knees, grabbed the old bug in a hug, and started to sob and apologize.

What is this about Ash? asked Poison Lance.

I'm human! I'm so sorry, sorry, sorry sorry Ash sobbed into the pokémon. His back heaved with the force of the sobs, and he wailed his apologies in the same grief stricken manner he had wailed several years ago when the two had first met, and how he wailed during the many nights he suffered nightmares. The boy's heart had been broken, it seemed.

It was a horrible sensation that Ash felt. To know that your own species did such horrible things to the beings that had been so kind to you. Ash's guilt was like a red hot pound of lead in his stomach, causing his insides to burn, boil, and churn. He wanted to vomit, even as grief ravaged his heart, like a miniature tiger that had found a way inside his chest, shredding and tearing his insides. It was a viscous storm of emotions, like the clash of two furious weather gods. The boy's arms and legs shook, weakened both from grief, and by the fact that Ash could no longer care about his own body. The child was trying to leave his body and free the world from the stain that his mere presence must cause. His parents must have been party to the same atrocities, Ash realized, and maybe had even enslaved Marp. His first friend must have suffered such horrible things from his parents.

Ash truly wanted to die in that moment, a feeling indescribable to those that have not truly felt it, and a feeling that no one should have to endure, least of all a child under eight years of age.

What is wrong with being human? asked Poison Lance, I find that humans are no worse than weedles-

Weedles don't, Weedles don't-, Ash sobbed Weedles don't kidnap pokémon and make them fight each other he finished with a wail.

Poison Lance blinked in surprise. It seemed like his predictions about what would happen when Ash first learned about pokémon trainers was incorrect.

The weedle nuzzled the human's shoulder for a moment and then gently spoke.

I don't think you have the whole story Ash

What? sniffed Ash, surprised at the statement.

I take it that you had heard about Pokémon Trainers then.

Ash sniffed some more. Gary told me a bit about them before the bell rung.

A pity that he did not tell you more then, the weedle shook his head. I will tell you a bit about Pokémon Trainers then. I will start with my own trainer, Lucas.

Luke was a pokémon trainer! Ash exclaimed.

Yes, he was. Maybe I should start with how Pokémon are captured instead. Hush Ash, let me talk for a bit.

The human child sat down and nodded, wiping tears from his eyes.

Now, for the most part, pokémon who get captured implicitly agree to be, the weedle began. How is this, you ask of me with your face alone. It is simple. We pokémon generally can tell who a pokémon trainer is. Most humans who are not pokémon trainers do not walk the lands, they take various forms of public transportation. If one sees a human walking in a wild area, one can generally assume that they are a pokémon trainer.

So when we confront the human, we know that we must accept the possibility of being captured. Many pokémon confront the trainer with that end in mind. Why would we confront them, this question I know you are pondering. Many times it is because we want to test ourselves against trained pokémon, to compare our strength to their strength. You have witnessed us battling here in the forest, improving ourselves through these engagements. True the fights are short and often times not very intense, and we do not consider the altercations between predator and prey to be battles, although avoiding starvation or being consumed is often a motivation for these battles.

Fighting trained pokémon can teach us a lot about fighting, including new moves. And trained pokémon are often stronger than wild pokémon, so wildllings wish to measure their power against such opponents. But we also know that if we do so the trainer might decide to catch. If we do not wish to be captured we can easily flee and it is incredibly difficult to capture most fleeing pokémon. Those that would have a hard time fleeing are generally both big enough and powerful enough that it is incredibly difficult to capture them in any case. Several types move in herds, or flocks, or other groups to avoid capture, leaving the groups only when they are ready to pay the price. And sometimes wildlings confront trainers to be captured.

I know that you want to know why we would submit to the indignity of being captured by humans, and the answer is simple: to get stronger. Under the guidance of a human trainer pokémon can gain enormous strength, such as my own power. What is more, is that we can learn new techniques from under their direction..

There is another benefit to being captured, one that both Lucas and your parents understood very much.

A captured pokémon gains new friends, great friends, in the form of the trainer and their team. Something most of us would not trade for all the power in the universe.

But we make you fight said Ash, calming down a bit, and keep you in tiny balls.

We want to battle, the weedle replied. To test our mettle against other trained pokémon and grow stronger from it. And as for the pokeballs, we rest in them, in the form of energy. There is nothing wrong with it.

The old bug nuzzled the boy.

We Pokémon like humans, for the most part. That is the reason we assist them in other tasks. That is why we lend them our strength to build their cities, to heal the sick, to tame the lands. They are our friends and we help them as friends do. And they help us grow stronger as friends do. I worked with Lucas during the fight with Team Rocket and in other dangerous situations for the same reason that Pocket Watch aids us now.

Lucas was my friend and my only regret during my many years with him was that I could not spend many more with him.

Do not apologize for your kind Ash. It is true that there are humans who do nothing but harm to pokémon and the world on the planet, but there are some pokémon who do likewise. But I do not hold those few evil examples against any other human or pokémon.

And even if evil made up the majority of human action, I say this now, Ash Ketchum, you are not evil. When I took you in I knew that you were a kind child that cared about pokémon, even if you could barely form the words to express the sentiment.

Ash, if you remain true to yourself, you will never need to bow your head in shame, nor in guilt.

And if something happens, and you stray from your true self, I tell you now my boy, that I will never regret taking you in.

Ash wailed and hugged the old bug once more, crying again.

I will not tell you not to weep said Poison Lance nuzzling the child, for as a favorite book of Luke's once said "Not all tears are evil". But I would have you smile.

And Ash did smile, even as he wept.

The rest of the autumn continued into winter without any more major incidents. True to the core of Poison Lance's prediction, once Ash had calmed down he had decided to be a Pokémon Trainer, declaring that he would be the best like no one ever was.

Pocket Watch pulled a few mental strings to get Ash some extra reading lessons and learning help. The boy needed to be able to read independently after this year was completed, so that he could educate himself from thereon out. Ash's speech therapy was making major progress, if things continued as they were going he would be able to speak as well as his peers. He would still need to occasionally practice talking to people, but Pocket Watch and Poison Lance had figured out a few plans to deal with that problem.

Ash and Gary continued to be good friends, occasionally staying after school together and going to the park to play together.

Winter came and the earth died leaving only a mild grey emptiness in the forest that was occasionally covered in white. A raticate finally managed to steal some winter clothes for Ash, saving Pocket Watch and Poison Lance a great deal of effort. Ash had taken to teaching Pocket Watch how to read and write himself. Poison Lance knew that teaching someone something helped the teacher to master the subject as well, and Pocket Watch had always expressed an interest in the whole 'reading and writing' thing.

Winter was reaching its apex when Ash mentioned to Poison Lance that he wanted to visit the site of his old home, presenting the request with a serious expression on his young face.

What brought this on? Inquired Poison Lance.

It's just something I heard about at school, something about a Winter Solstice holiday, Ash answered. I just want to visit the remains of the house before I eat my evening meal.

Winter Solstice holidays? Oh, realized the weedle. Ash wanted to spend some time with his departed human family before coming back into the forest for the holiday dinner... and another realization hit the weedle, a heartwarming one that he felt no need to voice, even in the privacy of his own head.

Indeed. I should have thought about it before. By the way, the name of the holiday in question is Christmas.

Everything was covered in white, fluffy, wet snow. It was the favorite kind of snow for children everywhere, perfect for allowing their imaginations to run wild as they mad structures on the white pallet of the world or burn some energy in an energetic, ferocious, mock battle that resulted in a nice cup of hot chocolate. Stars shone overhead on this christmas night, and the moon returned the light of the sun so that the night was of the darkest blue rather than purely black.

No wind howled, no snow fell, and no cloud obscured the sky. It was a still night and a peaceful one. The air tasted crisp and cold to Ash as he walked into the clearing with the ruined house and the gravestones, Poison Lance erasing his footprints behind him.

Broken beams, boards, shattered walls, and rubble, that would have appeared charcoal black during most other times of the year, were white on that particular night, almost gently shining in the light of the moon.

With Poison Lance respectfully hanging back in the forest, the human child approached his parents and his first friends.

He knelt by the pokémon plot first, his fingers brushing over the symbols on the stones to help him read the characters. He found the stone he was looking for.

"Marp" Ash quietly spoke, hot tears welling up behind his eyes. "I miss Marp, Okay Marp?"

He stood up and then walked over to the human plot. He felt out the characters on the middle stone.

"Hi me" he said, a brief snort of humor cutting through the grief.

Then he felt the other two headstones and fell to his hands and knees. Hot tears spilled out of his eyes and onto the snow, leaving little dimples in the whiteness of the world.

Ash clutched the two headstones in a desperate hug.

"Momma! Dadda!" he sobbed.

Samuel Oak was walking over to the ruins of the Ketchum house, as he did before each Christmas dinner, to put fresh flowers on all of the graves. Samuel Oak had done this every winter since their deaths. It was his self-imposed penance; either for not saving his friend Delia Ketchum and her family or, for not doing more during the aftermath of the Great War and the fight against the Unification Alliance that followed. Actions that might have left the post war villains too weak to ever think of doing something like this.

For the sake of the Firsts, he had been the Pokémon Champion of Kanto in his day. Team Rocket and various other evil teams had quailed at the mere mention of his name. What was more, he and his team had crushed many of their operations by themselves. And then he had retired and become a pokémon researcher. His only regret in that decision was that he had not made sure that all of the groups like Team Rocket had been purged from Kanto, and the rest of the allied regions, first.

If he had done so then the Ketchums would still be alive. Or if he had put up some security measures around Pallet Town, rather than relying on his reputation and the relative peace of the region to keep the people the safe. Even if he had just wandered by sometime that night, he could have saved their son Ash.

They hadn't even been able to find the boy's body. They had found traces of his presence along the trail that Mareep had fled down, but not the body. They had found some small traces of blood by the destroyed section of forest. Most likely the body had been incinerated along with the landscape.

It was for that reason he had decided to increase the number of potential trainers he supplied with their first pokémon, many of whom he had to rely on second hand information to confirm that they would make good trainer material, rather than his usual more personal methods. The League could use a new generation of strong Pokémon Trainers to swell their ranks and help them with this magnificent world that they must defend. To put a stop to things like Team Rocket and help to rebuild the world shattered by the terrible war. So that nothing like the Ketchums could happen again.

He looked at the sky for a moment and then approached the gravestones. The pokémon professor sighed. He had seen so much during his long life, too much. He couldn't even life out his twilight years in peace. He looked down at the row of graves. Nobody ever came here anymore, the rest of the community had moved on. It was only Professor Oak who left flowers and footprints...

No, there were footprints in the snow, from human feet encased in some sort of slipper. Small ones that belonged to a child that could be no older than six or seven. There were no adult footprints accompanying them.

There were also larger disturbances that looked like the child had kneeled, by the graves of one of the pokémon, Mr. Ketchum, and Mrs. Ketchum. But none by Ash's grave.

Oak's heart jumped into his mouth at the sudden hopeful thought that flashed through his mind. But he suppressed it with a sigh. Ash couldn't be alive. The investigation would have turned up some signs. Most likely it had been some child that had known the Ketchums on a winter walk. Oak traced the footprints back to the edge of the clearing, where they suddenly stopped. There was no trace of the child's passage.

Had it been a living youth that had stopped by the graves, and then suddenly vanished? Or had it been the wanderings of the restless spirit of a little boy who had been denied a proper burial, who wept for the parents that he was still separated from on the other side of life?

Oak had seen enough things during his wanderings to know that the last was a possibility. If it was true than it meant that he had failed the Ketchums in yet another way.

Maybe he should give Agatha a call...

The rest of the night had not gone all unwell for Ash Ketchum, after Poison Lance had taken him back via the treetops, to keep the boy warm . It turns out that Poison Lance had asked the local pokémon to visit grocery stores, after they had closed early for the day. Back at the public clearing, there were mounds of still warm human food. Ash had his first official dinner, and the woes of the day were lost in the merriment.

Winter passed, as it always did, and the earth was reborn in the genesis that was spring. The forest became green again, as life returned. School continued to go as it had before, and Ash, with the extra help from his extra reading lessons, and from teaching Pocket Watch, was able to attain sufficient proficiency in the arts of reading and writing by the time spring began to turn to summer.

With the school year ending, Poison Lance told Ash to inform his classmates that he would be moving come summer, and would not return the next year.

"What'd you mean you won't be here next year?" Gary had asked him heatedly, "you're my friend, you can't leave."

"My parents are moving" replied Ash.

"You can stay with me then" said Gary "my grandpa won't mind."

"I think my parents would, though"

Gary seemed bummed out by this reply.

"But then we can't get pokémon together when we turn eleven if you're gone"

"I'll come" said Ash earnestly. "I'll come back and then we can work on being the best pokémon trainers ever!"

"You better" replied Gary.

"I will! And then we'll get our pokémon and have lots of adventures and do all sorts of cool things!"

"Aaron, lets not be just Pokémon trainers. Let's become Pokémon Masters!"

Ash blinked, confused.

"What's that?"

Gary put his face into his palm.

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