When One Door Closes, Two More Open

On the first day of his journey with his rebellious starter, Ash befriends a Spearow and a Rattata. Ash is seriously injured by Pikachu after saving the young spearow from a Thunderbolt, but the Spearow, her flock, and the Rattata save his life. With not one but two new starters, a strange new ability to understand Pokémon, and a calmer and smarter attitude, a new journey begins.



4. Battle With A Samurai and Pewter City Showdown!

Waking up with a Metapod curled against her, two inches from her face, wasn't the way Misty Waterflower was used to waking up. She nearly screamed and ran, as she always did when she saw a Bug Pokémon, but then she remembered where she was and what that particular Metapod had done for her.

Her left arm was pinned under the Metapod and had nearly completely fallen asleep. Trying not to wake her newest and most unusual(for her) Pokémon, she slowly slid her arm out from under him. But Metapod was a light sleeper and woke up, looking at her and giving a happy little coo.

"Morning." she told him, giving him a smile and rolling over to check on her human traveling companion. She had to stifle a laugh at what she saw.

Ash was lying on top of his sleeping bag on his stomach, one arm under his head and the other stretched all the way out to the side. Kiara was asleep, nestled between his shoulder blades, her head against the top of his. Venom, his latest "catch," rested on the small of his back, curled into a tight ball with both his front and back stingers sticking straight up, probably so he wouldn't sting his trainer in his sleep. Judy and Trevor rested on either side of Ash, snoring softly and twitching occasionally.

Misty couldn't resist. Crawling out of her sleeping bag, she reached into her backpack for the camera she had brought along with her, and quietly, so she wouldn't wake them, took several pictures. It was too cute and funny not to get on film. Plus, she could use it as blackmail if Ash ever got on her nerves…

"Don't tell him." she whispered to Metapod, who gave her his version of a nod.

A few minutes later, Ash began stirring. He started to get up, not knowing that both Kiara and Venom were on his back. Kiara flew off before she fell, but Venom fell off, landing on top of Trevor who jumped about a mile, sending Venom flying. Ash tried to catch him before he hit the ground and tripped, missing landing on Judy by an inch. Venom landed right where he started, on Ash's back.

"What just happened?" Judy mumbled sleepily. "Was there an earthquake?"

"No, but Ash nearly stole my title of the Mishap King." Venom muttered.

"Sorry." Ash said sheepishly. Kiara and Misty were laughing their heads off. Kiara finally composed herself and went to go check on her trainer and teammates.

"Not a problem. I've done clumsier." Venom replied. "You didn't steal my title yet."

Misty did her best to stop laughing. "Now that you're all awake." she said in between giggles. "Let's have breakfast and hit the road. I want to get out of this forest."

Beet red, Ash nodded.

After breakfast, Misty consulted the map and found the path to get to Pewter City. They walked down it chatting and laughing, but were suddenly stopped by a very unwelcome person.

It was Samurai. Thankfully for him, he didn't bring out his sword this time, or Ash's Pokémon would have clobbered him again. "What do you want?" Misty asked harshly.

He didn't blink. "A Pokémon match with the trainer from Pallet. Let us see who triumphs."

"Fine." Ash growled. He wanted to beat this guy into the ground for attacking them with a sword, nearly hurting two of his Pokémon, and leaving them to be attacked by an angry swarm of Beedrill. He guessed by Samurai's net that he was a Bug Catcher, so…

"Kiara? Are you up for a battle?" Ash asked his starter.

"Always." she replied, stepping forward.

"Type advantage won't help you here!" Samurai yelled. "Pinsir! Assume battle mode!" He threw a Poké Ball and a gray, bipedal Bug Pokémon with a rounded body, deadly claws, sharp teeth, and wickedly pointed horns appeared. Misty squeaked in terror and hid behind Metapod.

"Pinsir! Tackle it!" Samurai ordered.

"Kiara, dodge it and use Aerial Ace!"

Kiara got out of the way just in time to avoid Pinsir's horns. Doing a graceful U-turn in the air, she rushed towards Pinsir, slamming into it and sending it flying into a tree. With a combination of type advantage, Kiara's training and higher level, and flying into a hard surface, it was a one-hit KO.

Samurai looked stunned. "Pinsir, return!" The fainted Pokémon was sucked back into its Poké Ball. He glared at Ash. "You may have been lucky this time, but no one defeats my next Pokémon! Metapod, go!"

Kiara moved forward, but Venom slid past her. "Ash, I want to battle this one."

"Are you sure?" Ash asked.

"Yeah. I have a certain me-kicking incident to get revenge for."

Ash nodded. "Kiara, come back." The Spearow flew back to his shoulder. "Venom, it's your time to shine!"

"You have made a foolish error, novice." Samurai said. "That weak Pokémon will never beat my Metapod. It will be a pleasure to defeat you. Metapod, use Harden!"

Ash growled at his Pokémon being insulted. "Venom, use Poison Sting before it can!"

Venom dug his stinger into the Metapod before it could use Harden. It flinched, but was far from fainting. Suddenly it glowed purple. It had been poisoned.

"Use Tackle, Metapod!" Samurai cried. Metapod hit Venom before the young Weedle could dodge, and he fell to the ground.

"Are you okay, Venom?" Ash called in concern. Maybe it had been a mistake to have the Weedle battle before he had received any training.

Venom groaned but got up. "I may have been knocked down, but I'm not out!"

"Use Harden, Metapod, then Tackle it again!"

Ash suddenly had an idea. "Venom, use your String Shot to throw Metapod into that tree while he's using Harden!"

"Got it!" Venom told him. He threw several lines of string like a lasso, wrapping it around the Metapod. He slammed the Cocoon Pokémon into a nearby tree. It groaned, but due to its high defense, it still wasn't out yet.

"Tackle it, Metapod!"

"Dodge and use Poison Sting again!"

Venom slid out of the way by inches, then turned around, digging his stinger into the Metapod again. It didn't have much effect, but the poison from the first Poison Sting was taking its toll on the exhausted Metapod.

"Get up and use Tackle again, Metapod!"

Weakly, Metapod did, but Venom easily moved out of the way of the half-hearted attack. Samurai finally noticed his Pokémon's plight. "I surrender! Metapod, return!"

Ash scooped up his exhausted Weedle. "You did great, buddy."

Suddenly, Venom began to glow. Ash nearly dropped him as his form began to change, but managed to adjust his grip. When the light faded, Venom was now a Kakuna.

"Yes! I'm a Kakuna!" Venom cheered. He tried to jump in the air, but could only manage a very slight bounce. He deflated. "And now I can't move. This is going to be a very boring week…"

"Don't worry, Venom. You'll be a Beedrill before you know it." Ash reassured. The Kakuna perked up a little at this.

Samurai handed Ash the prize money he had earned. "I see now that I was the novice. Four times have I battled trainers from Pallet, and four times have I been defeated. I will train harder, and someday we will battle again." He held out a hand.

Ash shook it. "That was a good battle. Your Metapod is very strong. Good luck with your training." Samurai smiled, nodded, and started to walk away.

"But please don't ever attack anyone with your sword again!" Misty called.

Samurai turned. "Don't worry. I learned my lesson on that. And I don't think I'll ever forget it."

Saying goodbye to Samurai, Ash and Misty headed back up the path to Pewter City. Ash carried Venom in his arms while Kiara rode on his shoulder. Judy and Trevor walked beside them.

"Well, despite the vicious Beedrill and weirdoes with swords running around, I guess Viridian Forest wasn't so bad." Misty commented. "We both got new Pokémon, they both evolved, and I found out Bugs aren't so creepy after all." She cuddled her Metapod, then turned to look at Venom, but cringed at the sight of his scary-looking second form. "Okay, let me rephrase that. SOME bugs aren't so creepy…"

In Ash's arms, Venom shook with laughter.


Finally, about a hour and a half later, they reached Pewter City. "Phew." Ash said, placing Venom on a rock and letting Trevor and Kiara off his shoulder. He plopped down beside Venom and Judy sat beside him. "I thought we'd never get out of Viridian Forest."

"You wouldn't be so tired if you didn't insist on carrying two of your Pokémon." Misty scolded. "Don't you ever put them in their Poké Balls?"

"Not very often." Ash told her. "I like having them out here with me. And who are you to talk? You're carrying your Metapod."

Misty petted her Metapod. "He's my protection from the bad Bugs. Aren't you, Metapod?"

Metapod bounced a little and nodded.

"Well, at least we're finally at Pewter City. I can't wait to try for my first Gym Badge." Ash said.

"Pewter City is gray. The color of stone. Pewter City has always been famous for its stone." a voice below them stated. Ash and Trevor nearly jumped a mile in the air, then looked down. There was a middle aged man with a long brown beard sitting right below them. 'H-Huh? Who are you?" Ash asked a little bit nervously.

"The name's Flint. And you and your Pokémon are sitting on my merchandise, young man."

Ash, Trevor, and Judy hopped off, Ash lifting up Venom as the young Kakuna couldn't move too far on his own. Kiara flew up from her place beside the rock and landed back on Ash's shoulder. "Sorry about that." Ash said sheepishly. He looked at the man's wares; shelves full of rocks with price tags on them. "You're selling rocks?"

"They're Pewter City souvenirs. Would you like to buy one?" the man offered.

"No, thank you." Ash said politely. His backpack was heavy enough without adding a big rock to the weight. "Do you know which way the Pokémon Center is?"

"I'll show you." the man grunted. "By the way, that will be a two dollar charge for resting on my rocks."

Ash looked at Misty, who rolled her eyes and shrugged, so he decided not to fight it and just paid the two dollars. They followed Flint to the Pokémon Center, where Ash and Misty recalled their teams to their Poké Balls and handed them over to Nurse Joy. Finding a plastic bin full of maps of Pewter City on the counter, Ash picked one up. "Pokémon Gym, Pokémon gym…" Ash murmured, trying to find the gym in the big city.

"It's right here, and when we go, I'll handle the directions, because you'd probably get lost in an empty room." Misty teased.

"Don't tell me you're challenging Brock, the Pewter City Gym leader." Flint's voice boomed.

"Well, I am." Ash replied.

"Do you really think you can beat him?" Flint asked skeptically.

"Well, I'm certainly going to give it a shot."

Flint laughed, walking away.

"Wow. Either Brock's tough or that guy doesn't think much of me. No matter. I can do this. Trevor, Judy, and I have trained really hard to prepare for this battle." Misty couldn't tell whether Ash was talking to her or giving himself a pep talk. Either way, he sounded really nervous.

They ate lunch at the restaurant connected to the Pokémon Center. Ash kept glancing back towards the medical area and Misty could tell he missed his team.

"Do you think you're ready for this?" Misty asked gently, knowing that Ash was already nervous enough. "Gym Leaders ARE tougher then the average Pokémon trainer. I could lend you some of my Water Pokémon if you'd like."

"Thanks, Misty." Ash told her after swallowing a bite of his noodles. "But I'd rather do this on my own. We've worked really hard for this Gym battle, and I know my Pokémon can do this. I'm just…nervous. This is my first big Gym battle, and I'm worried about failing my Pokémon."

"Well, you need to relax, or you'll lose before you begin." Misty told him sternly. "You've trained for this battle, right?"


"And you trust your Pokémon, right?"

"With everything I have."

"Then will you try to be a little more confident? I believe in you, and I know your Pokémon aren't here right this second, but they'd be agreeing with me. You can do this, Ash."

He took a deep breath. "Thanks."

When the bill came, they split it and went back to the medical area. "Well, Mr. Ketchum and Miss Waterflower, no more waiting. Your Pokémon are back to normal." the nurse announced, carrying out their two trays of Poké Balls.

Ash released his team right there. "Did you miss us, Ash?" Kiara asked playfully as she flew up onto his shoulder.

"Yeah, we were gone twenty whole minutes." Judy chuckled.

Ash laughed and hugged his team. "Of course I did. Are you guys ready for the first gym?" He still felt butterflies in his stomach but tried his best to fight them down before his team could notice. Kiara noticed anyway, but didn't press him on it.

Judy gave the Mankey version of a grin. "I'm pumped up for it. I can't wait."

"Then let's go!"

They left the Pokémon Center, and using the map, Misty guided them to the Gym, a large grey building that looked like it had been carved out of stone. There was another trainer there, a young blond-haired boy with a blue hat, who was talking to a teenager with spiky brown hair. Ash could tell from the picture in his League Handbook that the teenager was Brock, the Gym Leader.

"If you want a battle, you're going to have to have to wait until after I battle John here." Brock called.

"That's fine." Ash told him.

"Ash, ask if you can observe their battle." Trevor advised. "I've always found it easier to plan a battle strategy if I see my opponent's battle strategy first."

Ash nodded, not wanting to let Brock and John know of his new ability. "May I watch your battle?" Ash asked the Gym Leader. "I think it might help me prepare for mine."

"That would be fine." Brock assured. "What's your name?"

"I'm Ash Ketchum." Ash replied. The Gym Leader opened the door, letting the boys and Misty walk in.

Inside, the gym was dimly lit. The floor appeared to be made of solidly packed earth with rocks everywhere. John and Brock prepared for their battle, and Ash, his team beside him, climbed up to the bleachers to observe.


Misty wanted to pick up a few things at the Pokémart, but she said she'd be back before Ash's match started. Ash and his team watched as Brock defeated the other trainer. John was able to knock out Brock's Geodude with his Poliwag after a few Water Guns, but Onix's Bind took out Poliwag, who was tired from battling Geodude. The Onix was also able to faint John's second Pokémon, a Rattata.

"Brock's tough. Very tough." Ash murmured.

"Yes, he is, but so are we." Judy reassured.

"John was a good trainer, but he made a serious mistake out there." Trevor observed. "He was relying completely on his Poliwag, so he didn't train that Rattata for the battle as well, so he had no backup plan when his Poliwag fainted. This is going to be a tough battle but I think we can win this. The battlefield could work to our advantage."

"How?" Ash asked. Trevor was about to reply when Brock climbed up the bleachers to meet them.

"I have to take my team to the Pokémon Center." Brock announced, climbing up to the bleachers. "You and your Pokémon will need to wait outside. No one can be in the gym without the Leader present."

Ash and his team left the gym. As they waited outside for Brock to return, Ash remembered the conversation he and his team had been having before Brock interrupted. "Now, what were you saying about the battlefield, Trevor?" Ash asked.

"Remember how you had Venom throw Samurai's Metapod into a tree?" Trevor questioned.

Ash nodded.

"Well, there's a lot of rocks and other obstacles on the battlefield…"

Ash's eyes lit up as he caught on to what Trevor was saying. He, Trevor, and Judy huddled together, working out a strategy. By the time Brock came back, they had come up with one they felt would do the trick. Misty came running up with her purchases right behind Brock.

"Are you ready to begin, Ash?" Brock asked, unlocking the doors to the Gym. Ash nodded as they stepped inside.

"This is your first Gym Battle, right?" Brock questioned.

"Yes." Ash said.

"Now, a Gym Battle works differently than a Trainer Battle. The Pokémon League has regulations that need to be followed. Each of us will use two Pokémon, and there are no items allowed. Understand?"

"I understand." Ash told him. Kiara flew onto Misty's shoulder. Ash was about to hand her Venom, but Misty backed up slightly, and he remembered she still had some fear of Bug types. Instead, he carried Venom up to the bleachers, placing him on one of the seats so he could watch the battle, then ran back down. "Okay, I'm ready."

"Geodude! Go!" Brock called, sending out his first Pokémon.

In the stands, Misty, Kiara, and Venom were cheering for Ash; Venom's voice drowning out the others. Suddenly, the back door opened, and ten young children entered. They sat down next to Misty and cheered for Brock. Ash could tell by their looks that they were related to Brock, possibly siblings.

"Ready for battle, Judy?" Ash asked his Mankey.

"I was born ready." she said with a feral grin. As they had discussed, she positioned herself subtly in front of a rock.

"Type advantage can help, but it isn't everything! Geodude, Tackle Attack!"

"Judy, jump over it!"

Judy jumped over Geodude just as it reached her. Just as planned, it slammed right into the rock behind it. It didn't do much damage, but it did stun the Geodude a little.

"Now use Karate Chop!"

Geodude didn't have time to move, so it was hit by the super effective attack. But due to its high defense, it was seriously weakened but not out yet.

"Use Low Kick, Judy!" Ash called.

"Grab hold of her and use Seismic Toss, Geodude!"

Geodude grabbed hold of Judy's leg and threw her back. She landed on the ground hard, but got up, wincing.

"Can you continue?" Ash called to his Mankey in concern. She nodded.

"Geodude, use Tackle!" Brock ordered.

"Counter it with Karate Chop!"

As Geodude attempted to slam into Judy, she aimed a vicious Karate Chop, sending Geodude flying into another rock. It groaned, swirls in its eyes.

"Geodude, return!" Brock said, putting his fainted Pokémon back into its Poké Ball. "You did great, buddy." he murmured. He turned back to Ash. "You may have defeated my Geodude, but you'll find my final Pokémon much harder. Onix, go!" Brock called. The giant Rock Snake Pokémon appeared with a deafening battle cry.

"Judy, come back." Ash said. She walked back to him, a slight but noticeable limp in the leg the Geodude had grabbed. "Take a rest, girl."

She acquiesced, plopping down on the floor. "That was a tough one. Wasn't expecting that Geodude to know Seismic Toss. I know Trevor wants to handle this one, but I'm right here if you need me."

"Your turn, Trevor." Ash told his Rattata. Trevor nodded and stepped forward. Like Judy, he positioned himself just in front of a rock.

""Onix, Tackle attack!" Brock shouted.

"Trevor, underground!" Ash called. Trevor dug a hole, disappearing underground and Onix slammed headfirst into the rock, breaking it in half and causing a cloud of dust to form. It shook its head to get the dust out of its eyes, then looked around for its opponent.

"Use Dig!"

"Onix, watch out!" Brock warned. But it was too late. Trevor popped up, hitting Onix and making it roar in pain.

"Onix, use Bind!" Brock ordered.

"Underground, Trevor! Don't let it grab you!"

Trevor used his old tunnel and shot back underground just as Onix's coils were closing.

"Use Dig again and keep hitting it!" Ash commanded. Trevor did, and Onix cried out in pain once again. But though severely weakened, its fighting spirit had not dampened at all.

"Surprise it with a Dig of your own!" Brock ordered. Onix dug a hole into the ground. Trevor looked around frantically, hoping to figure out where it would come up.

Ash gulped. This was one thing they hadn't planned for. But he couldn't panic. He watched the ground move, coming towards Trevor from his right side. Right before it reached him, Ash yelled. "Trevor, use Quick Attack to get out of the way! Go to your left!"

Trevor missed getting hit by the full force of the attack by mere inches. But Onix glanced against him and sent him tumbling. Trevor twisted, managing to land on his feet, but Ash could tell he was tiring.

"Tackle it, Onix, then use Bind!"

"Trevor, use Quick Attack to dodge, then use Bite!" It was risky, but there wasn't enough time to use Dig.

Trevor obeyed, dodging Onix by inches and sinking his fangs into the Rock Snake's hard body. The Rock Snake Pokémon roared in pain once again and flinched back. Trevor used the distraction to go underground. Before Onix could recover, Trevor had used Dig once again. It was too much for Onix and the Rock Snake Pokémon fell over, fainted. Trevor got out of the way by an inch.

"Onix, return." Onix was sucked back into its Poké Ball. "You did great. Take a rest, buddy. You earned it." Brock walked over to Ash. "I got cocky and underestimated you, and so I lost. You beat me fair and square. As proof of your victory, I confer to you…the official Pokémon League Boulder Badge." He handed the badge over to Ash. The children cried, running over to Brock and hugging him.

Up in the stands, Misty was screaming, "Go Ash! I told you that you could do it!" Kiara and Venom were also cheering for him, Judy, and Trevor. Finally, it seemed to hit Ash that he had won. A huge smile spread over his face and he jumped into the air. "We did it, guys! We won!" He scooped up Trevor and hugged him, then set him down gently and did the same to Judy, twirling her around. "You guys are amazing!"

Up in the bleachers, Misty smiled. "That's the first time I've ever seen Ash act like a real ten year old." she murmured to Kiara.

"Me too." Kiara whispered. "I think Pikachu attacking him hit him harder emotionally than he let on."

"Huh?" Venom said, confused. "Run that by me one more time."

Remembering Venom hadn't been informed yet of what happened to Ash, Kiara quickly told him the entire story.

"That's awful!" Venom cried. His expression became angrier than Kiara had ever seen him. "If I ever see that Pikachu, if he ever tries to harm Ash again, he's getting a Poison Sting straight to the heart!"

"You'll have to wait in line behind me, Trevor, Judy, and my entire flock." Kiara muttered. She then made an effort to calm down. "But let's let this go for now. This is supposed to be a happy day. Ash just won his very first Gym Badge!"

Ash noticed everyone watching him celebrating and stopped dancing around, turning beet red. "Sorry." he whispered.

Brock gave him a smile as he comforted the children. "You have the right to celebrate. You did earn your first badge after all."

Ash put both Judy and Trevor back into their Poké Balls. "I'd better get these two to the Pokémon Center."

"I'll come with you." Brock said. "I need to get my Pokémon healed up too."

Ash ran to the bleachers, getting a high five from Misty. He scooped up Venom, hugging him.

"Did you hear me cheering for you?" Venom asked eagerly.

Laughing, Kiara landed on Ash's shoulder. "I think the whole world heard you screaming, Ven. You were right. You can be loud when you want to be." Ash chuckled.

"What's so funny?" Brock asked.

"Nothing. Just thought of an old joke." Ash lied. Brock just shrugged.

They walked out of the Gym and headed to the Pokémon Center. Once there, Brock and Ash handed their Pokémon over to Nurse Joy, then went to sit in the waiting room.

"You and your Pokémon have some of the closest bonds I've ever seen." Brock commented as he watched Ash share some potato chips from the vending machine with Kiara and Venom.

"They're everything to me." Ash murmured, stroking Kiara's feathers. "I don't know what I'd do without them."

Brock smiled. "I know how you feel. My Geodude and Onix mean a lot to me."

Ash, Misty, and Brock chatted lightly about various topics as they waited. Ash found himself liking Brock's friendly nature and easygoing manner. The time passed quickly and soon Nurse Joy called them up to get their Pokémon. Once the Poké Balls were back in Ash's hands, he released Trevor and Judy, hugging them. Both Brock and Misty smiled at this.

"To tell you the truth, I get more pleasure from raising Pokémon than from making them battle." Brock confessed as they left the Pokémon Center. "I don't care about becoming a great Pokémon Trainer. What I really want is to become the world's greatest Pokémon Breeder." He looked down sadly. "But I can't leave here, because I have to look after my brothers and sisters. I'm all they have." The last four words were barely audible.

Ash wondered what had happened to Brock's parents and why the teenager was raising his siblings all by himself. He remembered all the little kids in the bleachers. There had to be at least ten of them. But he wouldn't press Brock for details.

"I'm sorry." Ash said, hesitantly putting a hand on Brock's arm.

Brock gave a faint smile. "It's okay. But can you do me a favor?"


"Continue my dream for me. You're a good trainer. I saw it in both your battle skills and your kindness to your Pokémon. Be the best you can be. Will you do that for me?"

There was a lump in Ash's throat. "Yes, I will."

" Go follow your own dreams, Brock." a voice said. Everyone turned to see that it was Flint. He pulled off his false wig and beard to reveal a man that looked like an older version of Brock.

"My father." Brock growled. Ash and Misty were feeling a little angry themselves. It was obvious this man had walked out, leaving Brock to raise his little brothers and sisters by himself.

"I'm sorry, Brock." the man murmured. "I couldn't become the great Pokémon Trainer I wanted to be, and because I was such a failure, I was embarrassed to come home to my family. But it's time I stepped up to take care of my family and became the father I should have been. Go and be the Pokémon Breeder you want so much to be. I'm sorry I held you back."

"First, there are a few things I have to tell you." Brock said.

"After all these years, I know how you must feel about me, so I want you to get everything off your chest."

"Here," Brock interrupted, handing him a sewing needle and thread. Flint gaped at him as Brock began reciting a long list of tasks. "Susie always rips her dresses, so you better learn to sew. And Timmy only eats cold spaghetti for breakfast. Tommy likes cornflakes for dinner.."

"Slow down! I can't write that fast!" Flint complained.

While Brock continued to give Flint instructions on how to take care of the children, Ash pulled Misty and his Pokémon to the side. "What do you guys think of Brock?" he whispered.

"He seems really nice." Misty replied, confused as to why Ash was asking this.

"Do you think he can be trusted?" Ash questioned.

"He seems honest enough. Why?" Kiara asked.

"I- I was thinking about asking him to join us if he doesn't have any plans." Ash blurted out. "I don't know why, but it just feels…right."

"It's fine with me, Ash. Brock seems like a nice guy." Misty said. "But you know you'll have to let him in on your ability, right? Because you can't hide it from him forever."

"I know." Ash murmured. He turned to his Pokémon. "What do you think?"

"He seems trustworthy enough. I can read people pretty well and he's genuinely honest and kind. There's no deceit or danger about him." Kiara said after a few minutes thought. "I'm for him joining if you are."

"He's a good trainer and seems like a good person. I'm okay with it too." Trevor added.

"Trust your instincts, Ash." Judy advised. "If your gut is telling you to invite him, it's probably right. And if it does happen to be wrong, we'll kick his butt."

"I'm okay with it." Venom said simply.

Brock had finished giving his instructions to Flint and was walking away. Ash called him back.

"Brock, I was wondering…"


"Thanks for letting me tag along with you guys." Brock said happily as they left Pewter City that evening.

"No problem. The more, the merrier." Ash replied. "It'll be nice to have another guy to talk to."

"Hey, what are Trevor and I? Chopped berries?" Venom mock-whined. Ash laughed and rubbed his head. Brock noticed, but decided not to comment on it. Ash would tell him when he was ready.

Ash never knew exactly what had caused the sudden urge to invite Brock to join them on their journey that day; whether that it was simply that he had found a kindred spirit in Brock, or if it was an intuition. But for the rest of his life, Ash would always be glad he had listened to that feeling.

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