Red Eyed Master

A single unexplained incident changed Ash Ketchum's life forever. An incident that will shake the Pokémon world and bring forth a true Pokémon Master. Aura!Ash! Smart!Ash! Now Rated M - Just in case! Chapter 01 - Edited.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11071366/1/Red-Eyed-Master

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9. Chapter 9

Ash lazily opened his eyes and sat up in the bed in one motion, he glanced to his right and watched the digital alarm clock flicker to 5:45am before sighing and getting up out of the bed. He headed to the bathroom that joined his room and after a brief look to his state of dress got changed into his training clothes. Ash put his travelling clothes into the washing/drying machine and after using the provided laundry powder and softener, set it going … if he estimated the time correctly his clothes would be ready after training and showering.

Ash washed his face in the bathroom to freshen himself up before walking back into the main bedroom area, there he watched his pokémon sleep with a soft smile before pulsing his Aura twice. In an instant all of his pokémon were up and greeting him in their various ways … it had been his wake up method for the team during their two week intensive training and it was an unanimous decision from the entire team that they would wake up to that every morning so Ash wouldn't be kept waiting.

"Good Morning Team" Ash greeted whilst petting or hugging/nuzzling in case of Torchic or Froslass "Today we make our first mark on the Pokémon League World … we won't just defeat Brock Slate … we shall crush him!"

His pokémon cheered their agreement and Ash could see that they were as fired up as he was feeling inside. Yes; they would crush Brock Slate … it was going to be their way of saying 'Hello World' and nothing would stop Ash from completing his objective of reaching the Pokémon League … if he was lucky; he might just discover why his father disappeared and even where he had disappeared to.

It was always a second goal for him … find his father and to find out his reasons for leaving, he was so young when his father vanished; so young in fact that he couldn't even remember his father's face anymore but it wouldn't stop him … he would find his father and bring him home. Ash realized that he must've zoned out as his pokémon were still looking at him, Vespiquen and Mismagius looking the most concerned; he smiled at the thought … they were the 'mother hens' of the team but nevertheless he smiled and reassured his pokémon that he was fine.

"I know you don't like hiding but after we gain the Boulder Badge then we no longer have to hide our skills" Ash spoke to them "Until such a time as we've gained the Boulder Badge, we have to lay low … on a positive note; I'm giving you all the morning off training so that were are ready to deal with the Pewter City Gym. I'm going to go for my morning jog and then come back to finish up using the training room joined to this room, then I'll feed you after a nice Pokémassage; how's that sound?"

His team cheered excitedly and Ash smiled once more before going to his bedside table to collect his pokédex and MP3 Player; he then put on his trainers before clipping the headphones on and leaving the room. Ash proceeded to walk to the Pokémon Centre's exit before lightly stretching, after stretching Ash turned on his MP3 Player and began his jog.

He followed the map in his head, he'd memorized it before leaving Pallet Town and jogged towards the entrance/exit to Pewter City as if he was leaving to head to Mt Moon, he sensed a presence following him and even though he was nowhere near tired he used the guise of stopping for breath to assess his surroundings. The terrain was even firmer and rockier than Pewter City was and would prove problematic for defensive quarter combat but he had already formulated several contingency plans and assuming the terrain remained similar he'd be able to ponder more plans as he/they travelled.

Crouching low, Ash placed his hand palm side down to the dry soil before pulsing his Aura to its maximum area range; he could see that the path ahead that started the route was considerably dryer than where he was standing and that the geography hadn't changed much from the entries from his father's journal. It was interesting to note that there were jagged rocks and strong air currents in certain parts of the terrain surrounding the route and that there were several exceedingly strong Aura signatures underground. They were far away but strong enough to resonate within his area of range … interesting; so that was why the Pokémon League issued permits to travel certain levels down into Mt Moon … if the pokémon were strong enough to register on his radar at this distance, then they were in a whole other league than most but he didn't kid himself … he was nowhere near the recommended level to travel that far deep; soon but not now.

That wasn't all he sensed though, the presence was closing in on him, Ash narrowed his eyes; to his left, male and much older than him … a signature that traced close to another's that he'd already sensed before but ultimately unhostile; from the evidence he guessed Flint so he turned off his MP3 Player, slowly stood and turned to the man and looking him directly in the eyes spoke.

"… Good Morning … Mr. Slate" he whispered, using his Aura in a gentle pulse.

The man gulped before raising his arm in a wave "G-Good Morning"

..::..

Flint Slate woke from his little shed turned house and sighed to himself as he glanced at the tiny water wheel turn on itself with the slow current of the small river next to his makeshift home. He started to ponder about his life and knew that he had a lot to answer to in regards to the family that he left behind but as much as he wanted to return to the home of his sons and daughters he knew deep down that it would cause unknown problems. Unknown due to the simple fact that three of the youngest wouldn't even remember him but the other five? He wasn't sure of their reaction but his main concern was Brock. Brock was his apprentice of sorts with Rock type pokémon and looked up to his father with pride but now … he simply couldn't face his eldest child without trying to atone for his actions.

Sighing once more Flint stood and left his rundown home and started walking to his makeshift stall, he hadn't sold many of his 'wares' but what he did sell went straight to his family in carefully unmarked envelopes, in fact that child from yesterday … Ash Ketchum was his name if he remembered correctly was the only person to buy anything from him in so long that it had been close to two months since his last 'delivery'; he did feel slightly guilty that he overcharged the boy but he really needed the sale as to silently support his family.

Flint shivered though … that gaze of his was even creepier than his father's was and there was no doubt at all that the boy was Red's son. Red was an astute man that learnt through action but behind the eyes of his child Flint could see the keen intellect and it sent another shiver down his spine … could the child have actually paid the amount because he knew something that he shouldn't? He hoped not as the boy was creepy enough without adding an unknown element that made it worse; his father was dangerous but his boy with intelligence to match that strength was inhuman and he was worried about the fate of his son Brock as a result; he would have to observe his acquaintance's child in battle.

Flint shook his head and huffed before walking towards his stall but when it came into view he spotted the very child of his thoughts jog past his line of sight and Flint couldn't resist the temptation to observe the child up close. So Flint followed Ash and hid once the boy stopped at the entrance/exit to Pewter City via Mt Moon. Flint carefully looked towards Ash and noticed the boy put his hand to the ground, he started to creep closer to the boy but jumped as he swore the boy's eyes glowed, another shiver went down his spine when the boy turned off a device, stood and turned his apathetic gaze over to Flint and looked him directly in the eyes.

"… Good morning … Mr. Slate" the boy greeted quietly but exuded this air of authority that belayed the boy's age.

Flint gulped and raised a shaking hand. "G-Good Morning"

..::..

Ash stared at the man for a minute or two before tilting his head in question, Flint understood the gesture and spoke. "I saw you jogging on the way to my stall and wondered if you were going to be alright finding your way around"

Ash blinked before refocusing his gaze on Flint "I'm quite fine … Mr. Slate"

Ash's simple statement coupled with his greeting earlier finally registered to Flint and he started sweating.

"Who? I have no idea what or who you're talking about!" he stuttered nervously

Ash's eyes narrowed before he coughed a reply using a tone of indifference "Hair colour and tone of skin is consistent with that of the Slate family, conversely; facial characteristics and genetic markers suggest more than a passing resemblance therefore the resemblance is of a familial nature. So my conclusion, considering your age as a denominating factor; is that you Flint Slate are the father of Brock Slate, the Pewter City's Gym Leader by 99.8% probability."

Flint just stood there gaping at Ash before coughing and removing his fake beard. "Kid … that is the scariest thing I've witnessed from someone of your age"

Ash just nodded before he turned around and began to walk back, Flint moved to follow and sighed softly but sucked that breath back in when Ash stopped suddenly and spun around to face Flint once more.

"… Go back to your family Mr. Slate" Ash coughed "From the information I gathered on your eldest son Brock … he will understand your reasons, after all; he knows you send money to him"

With that Ash started jogging once more leaving a stunned and slightly creeped out Flint that muttered something about mind reading brats knowing things that they shouldn't.

..::..

Ash walked silently into the Pokémon Centre, passed Nurse Joy's station and up to the wall that hid the room. Using his pokédex he swiped it across the main panel to open the room and made his way inside, remembering to shut and lock it again once inside. Ash walked into the training room and spent an hour or so inside doing various stretches and weights. Just as he finished his last push-up he heard the 'ding' from the washer/dryer and stood to go shower and change.

Once changed he fed his pokémon and sat down in a meditative position before concentrating on slowing his heart whilst gently pushing and guiding his Aura through his body, after accomplishing his state of peace he slowly exhaled before snapping his eyes open

"Now that you've eaten, I'll begin your Pokémassage" Ash spoke then smiled as they all lined up excitedly; he did chuckle when Froslass and Torchic had their customary glaring contest to see who would go first, though whilst they were distracted, Snivy shuffled into Ash's lap for her massage; she purred her name in pleasure once he started as Ash was a natural and massaged the exact place she liked most, while his Aura soaked into her muscles and nerves; helping her relax completely.

After the team had their massages he returned them before leaving the room and remembering, once again, to lock the room. Ash gracefully dodged a random trainer's energetic Rattata that was running about and made his way to the cafeteria … once he arrived he helped himself to the buffet before walking up to the attendant's desk to order some fresh Tea. The girl blushed and nodded her acceptance before re-confirming his order; Ash nodded and paid with yet another swipe of his pokédex before spinning around to make his way to a table.

Once his tea had arrived he popped the antibiotic capsule open and watched the powder dissolve into the tea, when he was sure the powder was completely dissolved he took a long sip before sighing. The attendant looked amused at his actions but went back to work quickly and in embarrassment once Ash snapped his eyes to hers. His eyes drifted towards the cafeteria's entrance and spotted Misty entering, once she noticed Ash she smiled, waved and then made her way over.

"Good Morning Ash!" she chirped brightly "Are you ready to challenge the Pewter Gym?"

"… Yes …" Ash softly spoke with a nod and Misty couldn't fight the cringe when he started coughing again.

The antibiotics were working but needed longer before the effects would be noticeable. Misty left to grab a plate of food before returning and they ate in a pleasant silence before Misty looked up to speak once more.

"W-Will you be okay giving commands in battle?" she questioned with genuine worry … they hadn't known each other long but she was worried? He would ponder this change later. Nevertheless Ash nodded and after enjoying the final warm feeling that came from the hot beverage he gently placed the Tea cup on the table.

"… My pokémon have adapted to my style" he answered with a cough "They have an instinctual ability to utilize other senses to pick up on my commands" … it was a half lie but he needed to keep his abilities to himself for as long as possible.

Misty nodded in acceptance to his answer and they finished eating their breakfast before getting ready to leave; Ash made sure to have his pokémon checked by Nurse Joy beforehand so that he knew for certain that sending them into combat was okay – not that he was too concerned; his assessment of their health during their morning Pokémassage indicated that they were in perfect health.

Leaving the Pokémon Centre, Ash and Misty made their way down the main road and journeyed to the northern part of Pewter City before taking a few extra turns, soon they passed the Pewter City Pokémon Museum and Ash noted that Misty suddenly had a little extra bounce in her step indicative of anxiousness and excitement and Ash could only deduce that it was going to be because of their outing to the Museum later. He couldn't fault her as he, himself; looked forward to going to the Pokémon Museum but he was becoming concerned at the level of attachment that Misty had to him.

He knew from her body language when they first met that she was happy to be treated like any other person and that was indicative of familial issues relating to Cerulean City … but had he really had such an effect on her? By being open … well openish anyway to her – had she desired his company for that reason? Ash thought for a few moments before coming to a conclusion.

'Surrogacy … that's the most probable conclusion … she's using me as a surrogate to fill the void that centres around her feelings … she's confusing herself by believing that her budding relationship with me is based on romantic thoughts and gestures but she mistakes the feeling of getting from me what she doesn't get from others as intimate … this is problematic … I must stop this before it's developed too much; I can't be the answer to her insecurities – I won't be a replacement part for what is missing in her life … I've never had much thought on friendship or companionship but friendship is all I can offer her …'

Chancing a glance at Misty he observed her at the corner of his eye 'Yes … this Museum visit will be the perfect opportunity to settle this issue.'

..::..

Ash and Misty arrived at the Pewter City Gym earlier than he expected, Misty moved to enter but he stopped at the door and closed his eyes whilst taking a nice, deep breath to calm the excitement that bubbled under the surface of his skin. He didn't need to look at Misty to know she was concerned as her Aura was fluctuating wildly indicating her worry, honestly; it touched Ash just a little that someone other than his Mother and Professor Oak or even the Joys and Jennys could actually be worried for him, however touching it was though, Ash remained there – eyes closed and taking deep breaths.

Ash suddenly snapped his eyes open and Misty gasped at the flash that his eyes produced … he was ready. So adjusting his hood he took that final step and entered the building. The first thing he noticed once inside was that it was pitch black so he activated his Aura Sight and searched the cavern-like room. There on an elevated rock on the far end of the room was a male with an Aura Signature that traced Flints but was remarkably calmer and kinder … so this was the Aura of Brock Slate … interesting. Unknowingly a soft smile appeared on Ash's face 'Something tells me that this Brock and I will get along very well indeed.'

That soft smile left moments later as Ash's face took on a look of determination and with that determination firm on his face he started walking into the main area of the gym.

"Who goes there?" a voice, presumably Brock's boomed

Ash didn't respond he just kept his Aura enhanced eyes firmly on Brock and where his position was, he heard the hum of electricity and knew the lights around Brock would be turned on soon but that didn't cause him to waver so it was no surprise that when they did turn on, he saw Brock's flinch at his Aura enhanced glare before the light illuminated Brock's position … was he seriously trying to intimidate his challengers with such lame scare tactics?

That pleased smile returned … oh yes, he was looking forward to this battle.

..::..

Brock Slate was bored, he had woken to prepare breakfast for his many siblings before mending their clothes and sending them off to school, he was grateful to the money being sent every once in a while as, because of that money he could get his siblings an education but he wasn't fooled by the money either, he knew that the money came from his estranged father but he as the envelopes were unmarked aside from the occasional 'For you' or 'Use it wisely' on the front; nothing led to his father's whereabouts and it was frustrating him to no end; why wouldn't he just suck it up and return home?

So there Brock sat … waiting for something, anything that would help him pass the time and his prayers were answered when the door to the gym opened and in walked two people. Were they trainers? Challengers perhaps … finally. Brock simply couldn't resist the urge to play with his opponents like he did every time; a dark room, a booming voice and then his sudden appearance in a flash of light always helped him have the advantage over challengers; most people looked down on the Pewter City Gym because it was considered the first badge to collect, therefore it was the easiest to collect as well.

Brock snorted 'Idiots … if only challengers knew that the battles fought here are viewed and assessed by the Pokémon League to observe the talent of trainers that wanted to aim for the Pokémon League Finals located at the Indigo Plateau.'

"Who goes there?" he spoke louder than necessary in order to create the booming effect. Brock was beginning his usual theatrical act when he actually looked at the challenger, he still couldn't see much with the lights off but he could tell the challenger was wearing some kind of hood but that wasn't what unnerved him … the challenger didn't respond to his tactics, his eyes were actually glowing red and looking right at him! He pressed the remote that turned the light above him on and stood to look as intimidating as possible; he flinched, the intensity of the glowing gaze was palpable even with the lights on.

..::..

Brock jumped off his perch and walked towards Ash in large steps, still trying to intimidate the unnerving child before him. Now that the lights were on he could tell the challenger was a boy no older than ten, so he was a new challenger to the Pokémon League Circuit … nevertheless Brock stood tall as he finally reached the boy's position.

"I am Brock Slate, Gym Leader to Pewter City" Brock said before pausing for effect and continuing "You are a challenger yes? Your name?"

Ash stared the Gym Leader down, he could instantly tell that he was unnerving the older teen and was internally pleased with that … nothing worked better than turning a person's mind games upon themselves; so using his Aura once more he finally spoke to Brock.

"I … am Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town" he whispered, it still managed to echo hollowly throughout the room though "I challenge you … Mr. Slate … to an official pokémon battle … do you accept?"

Brock tried and failed to supress the shiver that went down his spine but he nodded his acceptance before turning swiftly back to his side of the field.

"The rules are in accordance with the Pokémon League's code so therefore it will be a 2 vs 2 pokémon battle – only you, the challenger is allowed to substitute between your chosen two pokémon and the battle shall end when one trainer's pokémon are unable to continue … do you understand the terms … Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town?" Brock boomed once more

"… Indubitably" was the quiet yet powerful response from Ash

"Then we shall … BEGIN!" Brock shouted and threw a pokéball into the air dramatically, it opened to reveal a Geodude. Ash sighed … really? Using a Geodude in an official battle … wasn't he supposed to test the new trainers … oh well then.

Pulling out his pokédex he scanned the rock type pokémon.

[Geodude: The Rock Pokémon: At rest, it looks just like a rock. Carelessly stepping on it will make it swing its fists angrily.]

Ash looked closer at the Geodude in front of him, even going as far as to scan the pokémon with his Aura. So this Geodude was male and he was in impressive health, his shine and sturdiness definitely attributed to Brock's careful raising and Ash was impressed but impressed or not Ash had already discovered a weakness … there was an uneven groove right along the top of Geodude's head and it was the vulnerable point of attack.

Ash considered his choices before deciding to go with the third battle strategy that he'd designed for this battle; depending on the type of pokémon Brock had in his possession would factor into which plan he would use, as it stood at this moment Ash had already identified and formulated the possible outcomes of over two hundred battle scenarios so upon deciding on the third battle strategy took out his pokéball and tossed it into the air.

"Come forth Snivy" he coughed

Snivy materialised onto the battlefield and assessed her surroundings, she took in the field of terrain and finally looked to her opponent; she smirked at Geodude "Snivy"

"Time to shine Snivy … we're utilizing battle scenario three" Ash communicated and Snivy acknowledged the command with a nod and a determined change in posture.

Meanwhile Brock was blinking at Ash's choice in pokémon … sure a grass type had the advantage but he'd never seen or versed a Snivy before; especially a Snivy this well trained but wasn't the kid from Pallet Town? Why did he have a Snivy of all pokémon? Brock could see that she was in perfect health and more troublingly enough … at an exceptionally high level.

Gritting his teeth together to think of a plan he decided it best to utilize a basic battle strategy … hopefully his opponent just had good pokémon but no skill.

"Geodude use Tackle attack!" he yelled and a moment later Geodude launched himself forward, much quicker than a normal pokémon of his species.

Ash grinned softly in anticipation for the attack but was more interested in the style itself 'Geodude's response is too slow and while he's moving faster than most of his kind, if my calculations are correct then his trainer has sacrificed evasion tactics to work on speed and attack; with Geodude having a naturally high defensive structure, he has made a grave mistake in not training reaction timing … point of execution to best utilize this flaw? Ash's smile increased in width and Brock was suddenly on edge; he could have never anticipated what happened next.

"Evasive action then counter with Vine Whip … point to strike is between the eyes and 10 degrees higher." he coughed and instantly Snivy was a blur of action.

Geodude was unable to react in time to the change of tide in the battle and as such; he was instantly and ruthlessly struck, crashing into the ground and creating a giant crater under him from the strength of the attack. Brock gaped at the casual display of power but noticed Geodude struggling to get up; he considered recalling his pokémon and under normal conditions he would've done so but something inside of him wanted to beat this boy from Pallet Town. He glanced up to the boy across from him and growled.

"Geodude use Explosion!" he cried out in desperation; if he couldn't beat Ash in one on one tactics he'd at least weaken his team.

Ash narrowed his eyes and hissed just loud enough to be heard "A coward's strategy but a strategy nonetheless though it's too late … Snivy jump backwards and to your right and use Leaf Storm from behind the stone."

Brock flinched at the icy tone in Ash's reply and he realised too late that Ash was correct for seconds later Geodude was swept up in a storm of leaves and pushed at alarming speeds right past his head and was lodged firmly into the wall leaving a huge crater and cracks in the wall but it was then that the delayed Explosion attack occurred.

..::..

Geodude was already fighting the urge to collapse but followed his trainer's command and started charging energy for the Explosion attack but by the time the Leaf Storm attack struck and by the time it was over he was embedded into the wall behind his trainer, his eyes widened when he realised that the Explosion attack was ready and he was unable to stop the gigantic explosion that rocked the gym.

..::..

Ash and Snivy watched on passively as the smoke and dust settled then eventually cleared from the Explosion attack, it was Brock's fault that this had happened and while Ash felt bad that the results of the first half of their battle had ended like this; he wasn't feeling very sympathetic either … it was generally frowned upon, especially for Gym Leaders; to use such tactics against a trainer and it was made worse as Ash was a new trainer. Brock could lose his license if Ash decided to press charges and judging by the horrified look on Brock's face, coupled with his erratic Aura; he knew it too. Brock returned Geodude with a sad sigh.

"A-Ash … I …" Brock began only to be interrupted by Ash.

"Do you yield or wish to continue?" Ash questioned with a cough, his red eyes narrowing and glowing.

Brock gulped: this child wasn't normal … the precision and effortless control over the pace of the battlefield was inhuman and he started to wonder what kind of a trainer he'd messed with.

"I-I w-will not yield … GO ONIX!" Brock shouted strongly at the end but Ash had heard the quiver at the start … dominance had been established and Ash knew that his opponent's mind wasn't completely focussed any longer … perfect.

Glancing down towards Snivy he tilted his head in question to her "Do you wish to continue or pass to the next team member?" he spoke softly using Aura; Snivy nodded her head and replied to the latter option, while she was disappointed by her opponent and their trainer it was only fair to let one of the others have some fun.

Ash nodded and returned Snivy "Good job my friend"

Contemplating for a little bit longer he took his second choice and tossed the pokéball into the air.

"Come forth Froslass" he coughed

Now Brock was panicking even more … another pokémon that was foreign and this one was fully evolved, if Snivy was as strong as she was in her unevolved state then just how strong would one of Ash's fully evolved pokémon be? Brock was cursing himself for his stupidity … he should've used a stronger pokémon to open the battle with.

While Brock was deep in his thoughts, Ash scanned the Onix,

[Onix: The Rock Snake Pokémon: It burrows through the ground at a speed of 50mph while feeding in large boulders.]

Ash further assessed the Onix before him while putting his pokédex away … the Onix was definitely female and smaller than most, so she was still young … perhaps six to seven years old then but the care taken towards her showed even more love than towards Geodude, so she was likely Brock's first pokémon then. Her form was good; strong underside and her horn was sturdy but ultimately blunted … so she was bred in captivity rather than caught in the wild, so she was unlikely to have learnt the instinct of keeping her horn stronger than her tail; speaking of her tail, it showed scuff marks so Brock had trained her to use her tail rather than train her whole body's movement range or strong head.

Brock made the first move; "Onix use Rock Throw!" Sure enough she stiffly used her tail to utilize her first attack. Ash watched the attack close in before moving.

"Froslass prepare for evasive manoeuvres and wait for my signal before using Astonish."

"Aye Aye Ash" she happily chirped in reply with a mock salute that caused Ash to sigh, though he had a soft smile on his face whilst doing so.

"Use Astonish now" Ash said firmly before watching Froslass instantly comply as she began to effortlessly and gracefully weave in between the rocks from Onix's attack. Onix was angered by this and attempted to hit the evasive ice/ghost type before suddenly rearing her head back as Froslass suddenly appeared right in front of her with a look that surprised her and caused Onix to fall back slightly; injuring her and causing her to flinch; and that caused her to stop for a moment … a moment that Ash was waiting for.

"Use Confuse Ray Froslass" he commanded and sure enough, a split second later Onix was rampaging around and hurting herself whilst doing so. Brock tried to get her to snap out of it but it was ultimately too late though as seconds later Ash sealed Onix's fate and the fate of the battle.

"Finish this with your newest move Froslass" Ash commanded "Use Ice Beam"

Brock watched helplessly as the high powered beam of ice struck Onix at point blank range, Onix howled in pain before falling backwards and crashing into the ground … unconscious. Brock sighed before returning Onix; he turned to where Ash was, only to be amused because Ash was being hugged by the ice/ghost type affectionately.

Ash murmured to Froslass of how proud he was before he returned her to her Pokéball, he turned to face Brock with an unreadable expression on his face and Brock gulped before going into a speech about the responsibilities that new trainers were encouraged to follow such as pokémon health and knowing the limits of one's skill etc. etc. etc.

Ash took his hood off and raised an eyebrow at the stuttering Gym Leader and for the first time since their meeting smiled at Brock face to face, he could hear Misty in the stands cheering for his victory and Ash felt something he couldn't quite place due to that simple action.

"Mr. Slate … thank you for the battle" Ash spoke quietly "Though I'd have much preferred it if you hadn't have used such questionable tactics in the first half of our match"

Brock winced but he nodded and apologised sincerely for his actions during the match, to Brock's surprise Ash accepted the apology with a soft smile and a tilt of his head. Ash zoned out for a moment before snapping his gaze to the darker area of the stands, he replaced the hood and turned towards the seats near the door.

"Mr. Slate … I believe that your father wishes to have a moment of your time but is unable to approach due to his lack of confidence" Ash coughed softly while speaking and as he turned slightly to look at Brock he added "If I could offer a piece of advice? Perhaps it would be wise to approach him before he flees … he's about to you know … side door to your left or my right; I shall be at the Pokémon Museum with my … friend … should you wish to present me with my badge … now go"

And with that he turned and walked towards Misty and the exit; Brock choked on a breath but didn't waste any time in running to the side door, opening it and grabbing the man that he instantly recognised as his estranged father before he could flee.

'How did Ash know all that?' he thought before snapping out of his thoughts to look at his father; he tore off the fake beard and sighed at Flint.

"… uh, hello … Brock" Flint nervously greeted but was surprised to be pulled into a fierce hug

"Dad … you're finally home … I'll introduce you to the others properly later but for now; would you accompany me to the Pokémon Centre?" Brock replied softly

"I-I'd like that … son" Flint responded with an emotional stutter.

Finally reunited, Flint Slate and his son Brock walked in comfortable silence towards the Pokémon Centre.

..::..

Ash walked with Misty towards the Pokémon Museum whilst listening to her rambling on how awesome the battle was or how adorable Froslass is; Ash didn't bother replying as he knew that she had to get this out of her system before he could talk to her properly. They finally reached the Museum's entrance and Ash in another bout of bluntness paid the entry fee whilst staring Misty down and pointing to the 'No Refunds' sign once more; she relented after losing the staring match but commented on the feeling of déjà vu in regards to the situation.

They spent a good four hours there enjoying the various exhibits, Ash was inevitably drawn to the shelves of research papers and books surrounding the specialised field of study and after presenting his Pokédex to verify his Junior Professor's Status, much to the surprise of Misty, they were treated to the more private exhibits … Ash was able to arrange for permission to return and read the books, their only condition was being asked to study his Pokémon Fossil; it was a no-brainer for Ash and readily agreed once they swore not to take it from him.

After informing the staff of the Museum of his intention to return the next day early to begin reading, Ash and Misty left to head back to the Pokémon Centre for a very late lunch turned early dinner. Half way there though Ash suddenly stopped, turned towards a bench near a small fountain and sat down, he patted the other side of the seat with a tilted head towards Misty and she knew that what this was about was important; hesitantly she sat down and regarded Ash with a look of confusion.

"Do not interrupt what I am about to say" Ash started and once she nodded he continued with his usual cough being the only interruption "I will not return any feelings of attachment except for friendship towards you … you must understand that I do not wish to be the solution to the void that you feel inside of you"

Misty went to speak but was silenced with a look from Ash.

"From what I understand, based off of my observations in the various elements and factors regarding your familial relationships I can only deduce that you felt unwanted or unappreciated within the family unit; from there I was able to identify why you felt the need to attach yourself to me despite the short length of time in each other's acquaintance … my conclusion is that I made you feel like any other person but you've made the mistake of using the feelings of our friendship as something to fill the void you felt originally"

Misty started to tear up and sob but let Ash continue.

"You have to stand up on your own two feet Misty … you have to overcome these obstacles and pain so that …" he began only for Misty to actually interrupt this time.

"And what would you know about obstacles and pain? Huh? Tell me Mr. Ash Ketchum?" she shouted then spat his name out like a poison before her brain caught up with her temper and gasped at what she'd said "A-Ash I …"

"I understand the pain as my father disappeared when I was younger, I don't even remember his face anymore … I understand the pain as an accident left me permanently scarred and I was hospitalized for weeks" here he growled lowly "I understand overcoming obstacles as they said I might never speak again but I can speak … I understand obstacles because I was the one to cause my mother so much pain because I was unable to communicate on a basic level with her but we overcame that and because of the pain endured by the both of us … our relationship grew stronger"

Ash stood abruptly and took several deep breaths "You must overcome the obstacles before you on your own terms … but that doesn't mean you're alone; I'm your ... friend? Yes … friend and I'm here … aren't I?"

Misty sniffled loudly before rushing forward to hug Ash, he held her softly and let her cry out her tears of both sadness and frustration; when Misty had finally calmed down he gently guided her back to the Pewter City Pokémon Centre.

"… Now in my experience …" he spoke, drawing Misty's attention as she leaned closer to absorb his next piece of advice "… a good cup of tea always helps!"

There was silence for a few minutes before Misty started to giggle, but that giggle turned into a laugh and it wasn't long until she had to be supported by Ash because of her laughter.

"Don't mock Tea … young grasshopper …" he muttered mutinously but that caused Misty to look at him in shock before giggling once more.

"Did you just speak back to me to cheer me up?" she asked in surprise

"… …"

"Thanks Ash" Misty whispered "That cup of Tea sounds good right now"

"Then you are learning … young one" he replied with a cough.

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