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.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10779528/1/When-One-Door-Closes-Two-More-Open

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8. Bulbasaur and Charmander

"That's the last time I let you hold the map, Ash!" Misty grumbled as they waded through some tall grass. "Now we're completely lost!" Ash had been trying to learn how to navigate but it failed. Miserably.

"I said I was sorry! Seven times!" Ash protested.

"Just give me the map." Misty sighed. Sheepishly, Ash handed it over without argument. "You know you'd be lost without us, right? Literally." she teased, unable to stay mad at her raven-haired friend for long. Ash turned bright red.

"Maybe not. He does have The Keen Eyed Kiara to guide him, right Ash?" Kiara joked. Ash laughed and nodded, translating for the others.

Judy snorted. "The Keen Eyed Kiara? Really, Ki?"

"I like mine better." Venom said. "Venom, The Mightiest Of All Beedrill Warriors And King Of All Hilarious Mishaps." He struck a deliberately ridiculous-looking pose, which made Ash and his other three Pokémon laugh.

"A tad long though, don't you think?" Trevor put in with a laugh.

Misty managed to lead them out of the tall grass, and they sat down for a rest on some rocks. Suddenly, they heard a rustling noise and turned to see a small blue creature drinking at the stream.

"What's that?" Ash asked, unable to get a good look at it with all the grass in the way. He took out his Pokédex, scanning it.

"Oddish. This Pokémon is typically found roaming the forest, scattering pollen as it walks around." the Pokédex droned. Ash was glad it had not said something insulting this time.

"It's so cute!" Misty cooed. "I'm gonna catch it!" She pulled out a Poké Ball. "Go! Butterfree!"

Butterfree landed in front of Oddish and it screamed in terror. "Bulbasaur, HELP!"

"Misty…" Ash started, but she didn't hear him in her excitement. "Butterfree, use Confusion!"

Butterfree shot off a Confusion which went directly for Oddish, but green vines came out of a bush, pulling the Oddish safely out of the way.

A Bulbasaur shot out of the bushes, tackling Butterfree, who went flying back several feet. "Butterfree! Are you okay?" Misty asked, catching her Bug Pokémon. He nodded, getting out of her arms and facing the Bulbasaur.

The Bulbasaur stood in front of the Oddish protectively. "Leave her alone! Get out of here! This is a sanctuary for injured and abandoned Pokémon, not a free-for-all!" He knew humans couldn't understand a word he said, but it didn't keep him from saying it.

"Misty, call Butterfree off!" Ash said quickly. "We're sorry, Bulbasaur. We didn't know this was a sanctuary for injured and abandoned Pokémon. We'll get out of here."

A shocked Bulbasaur pointed a vine at Ash. "Did he just…"

"Our trainer can understand Pokémon." Judy told him, taking Ash's hand.

Misty recalled Butterfree to his Poké Ball. "Bulbasaur, Oddish, I'm sorry. I didn't know…" she murmured, feeling horrible.

"We won't bother or try to capture any Pokémon while we're in this area." Brock assured. Everyone else nodded.

Bulbasaur stared at them. The fact that one of the human trainers could understand Pokémon was strange enough, but the fact that they actually cared that this was a sanctuary and agreed to leave the Pokémon here alone was almost unbelievable. And yet, they seemed sincere. "See that you don't." Bulbasaur replied gruffly, leading Oddish away.

"Wow. Good thing you can understand Pokémon, Ash, or there might have been some trouble." Brock said. "I wonder if Bulbasaur runs this sanctuary itself or if a human runs it."

"He didn't say." Ash replied. "Now how do we get out of here?"

"I don't know." Misty admitted. "I can't find this area on the map." They came to a bridge, and began crossing it.

Trevor, who had fallen behind the others while grabbing an Oran Berry, was about to step on the bridge when he noticed something frightening. The ropes holding the bridge up looked fragile, like they were about to snap any second. "Guys, get off the bridge!" he shouted. "It's…"

But Trevor's warning came too late. He watched helplessly as the bridge began to shake, a critical support rope snapping. The bridge tilted on its side, and everyone began tumbling. Ash managed to grab hold of a rope, and Misty clung to Ash's legs as they dangled off the bridge. Brock and Judy weren't so lucky. They lost their grip and fell, plummeting towards the river below. Everyone screamed in horror.

Thankfully, Kiara and Venom were there. Kiara grabbed hold of Brock by his backpack straps, and Venom caught Judy. Both rushed their passengers to the other side of the bridge. "Hang on!" Kiara yelled as she dropped Brock safely on the ground and rushed back to her endangered friends.

"Trust me, I have no intention of letting go!" Ash yelled.

Kiara grabbed Misty and quickly carried her to the other side before coming back for Ash. Suddenly, the rope Ash was clinging to snapped, and he began to fall.

"ASH!" Kiara screamed, quickly flying underneath him. He landed on her back, shaken but unhurt. "Got you. You okay?"

"Thanks to you." Ash replied, his heart still racing. Kiara flew him to the other side, and he got off, hugging her tightly. Venom and Judy went over, hugging Ash and checking him over.

"I'll go get Trev." Venom said, flying over the destroyed bridge and coming back carrying Trevor.

"Is everyone okay?" the Rattata asked worriedly as Venom set him down.

"We're fine, thanks to Kiara and Venom." Judy reassured him.

"Thanks, Kiara." Brock told her, extremely glad for Ash's little quirk of keeping his Pokémon out most of the time. If it hadn't been for Kiara, he probably would have died or been seriously injured. The Fearow nodded.

"And thanks, Ven." Judy said. "I probably would have been fish food if you hadn't caught me."

"No problem." Venom replied.

"What's going on over here?" a voice asked. Everyone turned to see a pretty young woman with blue hair and the Bulbasaur from earlier. "We heard a huge crash and a lot of screaming."

"The bridge collapsed." Misty said.

The woman gasped. "Oh no! Is anyone hurt?"

"We're all fine." Brock assured, grinning a bit goofily. The girl was breathtakingly beautiful, after all…

"I'm Melanie." the girl said, smiling. "So, what are you folks doing all the way out here?" There was a slight hint of suspicion in her eyes.

"I'm Brock, and this is Ash and Misty." Brock told her. "We're heading for Vermillion City, but we got lost."

"Easy to do in a remote area like this." Melanie said with a laugh, the suspicion leaving her eyes. "I'll take you to my cabin and give you some directions. I'll make a pot of tea too; you guys probably need it after the scare you had."

"Thanks. We really appreciate it." Misty said gratefully.

"You're welcome, but can you do me a favor? Please do not capture any Pokémon while you're here. I created a retreat for Pokémon that have been abandoned or injured, and they do not need battles while they're trying to recover."

"We won't." Ash and Brock replied at the same time. Misty also promised, feeling guilty about what happened with Oddish.

"So are you a Pokémon Doctor, Melanie?" Brock asked, both interested in the profession and wanting to get to know this pretty girl.

"Oh no, I'm not qualified to be a doctor." Melanie said with a smile. "But I'm really interested in Pokémon care and breeding. My grandmother taught me all about which plants will make a Pokémon feel better or strengthen it when it's weak."

"I'm actually studying to be a Pokémon Breeder myself." Brock told her. "I even make my own Pokémon food."

Melanie was about to reply when they heard a sudden thump behind them. Ash, Misty, Judy, and Trevor had accidentally triggered a pit trap and were now lying in a giant hole, groaning.

"What the- What's a trap doing here?" Misty yelled as she pulled Trevor off her face. Judy, who had landed on Ash's back, got off and helped her dazed trainer up.

"I'm really sorry." Melanie said sheepishly as she and Brock helped the others out of the hole. 'I was the one who set the trap. There are other traps around here too."

"What? Why?" Ash asked.

"To catch Pokémon Trainers before they enter the village and try to harm or capture the Pokémon here."

"Couldn't you just put up a sign or something?" Ash questioned.

"I tried, but some trainers just ignored the signs." Melanie replied. "So I had to resort to traps."

"Trainers never listen or care!" Bulbasaur growled.

"Hey, our trainer and his friends did!" Kiara protested. Bulbasaur opened his mouth to retort, then decided against it. These trainers HAD listened when he had told them to stop. Maybe some trainers weren't so bad after all…. But he would definitely not be letting his guard down, just in case.

Judy narrowed her eyes. "Was that bridge a trap too?"

"Of course not!" Bulbasaur snapped. "We want to keep Pokémon Trainers out of the village, not kill someone!" Mentally, Ash let out a sigh of relief. He had been wondering the same thing as Judy.

"Just making sure." Judy said, relieved. She and her friends could have died falling off that bridge.

"Watch your step." Melanie cautioned, leading them away from a trip wire. They did, carefully keeping their eyes on the ground. Thankfully, they were able to get back to the village without any more mishaps. Bulbasaur kept his eyes on Ash, Brock, and Misty the whole way there, just to make sure they didn't go back on their promise.

But what Bulbasaur didn't know was that there were three wicked ones nearby who would harm the village if they could. And they weren't Ash, Misty, and Brock.

…...

Unseen by the group, Jessie, James, and Meowth hid in the bushes, looking through binoculars at the bridge.

"The village we're looking for should be on the other side of this bridge." Jessie reported with an evil smile.

"Let's just hope the rumors are true." James replied. If they were, Team Rocket could get the biggest heist of their lives! Imagine the size of the raise the Boss would give them!

Meowth let out an evil laugh. "Just you wait and see what Team Rocket has planned for you, you delicious little village!"

…...

"Wow…" Ash breathed as they walked into an area with a small log cabin beside a slow-moving river. There were tons of wild Pokémon there, mostly forest dwellers like Rattata, Caterpie, Paras, and the Oddish they had seen before. They were peacefully relaxing and eating.

Melanie bent down to pet a Paras, which cooed happily. "This is a place for Pokémon to just rest and relax until they recover." she explained. "They don't battle one another here."

The group went inside for a cup of tea, and Brock and Melanie chatted the whole time about Pokémon breeding. Though Judy and Trevor came inside, Kiara and Venom played with the other Pokémon outside, Kiara's large size and Venom's sharp stingers making it somewhat dangerous for them to be in the small cabin.

When Melanie went to the kitchen to check on some herbal medicine she was making, Ash turned to Brock. "It seems both you and Melanie love taking care of Pokémon." he said with a smile.

Brock looked towards the kitchen with a goofy grin on his face. "Yes, we do."

"Looks like that's not the only thing Brock loves." Misty teased.

Turning bright red, Brock reached over and covered Misty's mouth. "Shh! She might hear you!" he hissed.

…...

Afterwards, Brock, Ash, and Misty helped Melanie with taking care of the Pokémon. Bulbasaur watched warily at first, but as time went on, he began to relax. These trainers seemed to have genuinely good hearts, unlike the trainer who had abandoned Bulbasaur two years ago. He especially liked the two boys. Brock helped heal the Pokémon with gentle, experienced hands. He used a gentle, soothing voice as he talked to them, and the Pokémon flocked to him, especially when Brock started handing out the deliciously smelling Pokémon treats he had made himself.

Ash reminded Bulbasaur of a little Growlithe puppy he had met once; friendly, gentle, fiercely loyal, and eager to please. Though inexperienced, he took instructions from Brock and from Trevor, his Rattata, who must have had some healing experience as well. Though Bulbasaur noticed that Ash was extremely careful not to reveal his ability in Melanie's presence, the young boy would non-verbally respond to anything the Pokémon wanted, and they flocked to him as well, just to get petted or receive attention.

Turning Bulbasaur noticed Misty, the female trainer, speaking to Oddish. He wandered over just to make sure everything was okay.

"Sorry about what happened in the forest." Misty told Oddish softly. "I shouldn't have surprised you like that. You must have been scared." Oddish looked up at her and nodded. "Melanie told me your trainer abandoned you." Misty continued. "I'm so sorry. He or she didn't deserve a great Pokémon like you." Oddish stared at her, tears in her eyes. Her former trainer had dumped her in the forest near the village, calling her weak and pathetic because she couldn't beat a Poliwag that was ten levels higher than she was, and ever since she was abandoned, she had believed that. But now this young trainer was not only apologizing for scaring her, but also telling her that she was a good Pokémon and that the betrayal was not her fault. Maybe, just maybe, she could begin to trust trainers again.

"Some trainers can be insensitive, but not all of us are like that." Misty said, reaching out and gently petting Oddish, who leaned into the touch. "You just need to find a trainer that understands you." Oddish looked into Misty's eyes and saw nothing but sincerity there. Maybe this girl was the right trainer, one who would treat her right and never abandon her.

"Anyway, I'm sorry about what I did, and I hope we can be friends." Misty continued, starting to cry. She felt terrible for nearly hurting a Pokémon that had been hurt so much already. Oddish gently wiped Misty's tears away with her leaves. "You're sweet, Oddish." Misty murmured. "It seems all I've thought about lately is winning. I hope I'm not becoming heartless."

"Misty, you are NOT heartless." Ash said fiercely, walking up with Judy behind him. "A heartless person wouldn't be a great friend like you are, or care so much about Pokémon." He blushed after saying this, wondering if that had come out stupid.

Misty smiled up at him, blushing a little herself. "Thanks, Ash."

Bulbasaur, who had been watching from a short distance away, came over. "Everything okay over here?" he asked the Oddish. She nodded.

"Bulbasaur, we're not going to hurt Oddish." Ash said soothingly.

Bulbasaur stared at Ash for a moment before replying. "I believe you." he said finally. "But I had to be absolutely sure. Some trainers have attempted to catch Pokémon here behind Melanie's back after falsely promising not to and taking advantage of her trust. It's my duty to protect the others, and I will guard their safety with my life."

Ash very quietly translated Bulbasaur's words to Misty, not wanting Melanie to overhear. "Is Melanie your trainer?" Misty asked.

Melanie overheard her and walked over, Brock behind her. "No, Bulbasaur's not mine, but he's been helping me guard the Pokémon here ever since he arrived." She petted Bulbasaur's head. "He's the bravest and most loyal Pokémon I know."

Brock looked at Bulbasaur in admiration. "That's real dedication." he said, understanding what it was like to assume a great responsibility and put others before yourself. Bulbasaur smiled proudly at the compliment.

Melanie looked at Bulbasaur. She had never seen him so comfortable around a group of trainers before. He had always been aggressive or wary around trainers, and for a good reason. Seeing Bulbasaur so happy, she knew what she had to do. But before she could say anything, everyone heard a loud rumbling, and a giant shadow blocked out the sun.

…...

Everyone looked up to see Team Rocket flying in on a giant stadium.

"These guys again?!" Ash exclaimed. He, Misty, and Brock began rushing the village's Pokémon into the cabin as Team Rocket began reciting their motto.

"Who are these people?" Melanie asked.

"Team Rocket, and they live to steal Pokémon." Misty said in a hurry as she picked up several Rattata at once, rushing them to safety. They had gotten most of the Pokémon safely inside the cabin before the flying stadium crash-landed to the ground.

"I'll take care of these idiots." Kiara growled, rushing at Team Rocket in an Aerial Ace attack. They hit the roof just in time to avoid being pulverized and escaped into the stadium through a safety hatch.

"Those twerps again?!" James groaned. "Why do they follow us everywhere we go?"

"Well, they can't stop this plan!" Meowth said with a smirk. "We've got the home team advantage!"

Jessie hit a button that released a vacuum hose, which quickly emitted a powerful suction. "All Pokémon are invited to come inside the stadium!" she taunted through a microphone.

"Step right up." James's voice boomed.

"We're not hosing ya." Meowth put in. "Well, maybe we are!"

Judy grabbed Trevor, who was being pulled towards the hose. She started to be dragged towards it herself, but Venom grabbed her, and Ash grabbed him. They managed to make their way towards the cabin. Ash would have returned them to their Poké Balls, but he feared they'd be sucked right out of his hands. "Kiara, use Aerial Ace on the hose! See if you can break it or push it aside!" he yelled to his starter. Kiara rushed to aid them, violently attacking the hose, and managing to pin it sideways.

"Good thing we sprang for the double hose attachment!" Meowth taunted, pushing a button that released another hose. Kiara could only watch helplessly as she held the first hose away from her friends.

Brock grabbed a Staryu before it could get sucked into the machine, and Misty dived for Oddish who was getting pulled towards but missed. "Oddish!" she screamed. Thankfully, Bulbasaur grabbed Oddish with his vines just before she entered the machine.

"Take Staryu!" Brock told Misty as he and Ash, who had managed to get his smaller Pokémon into the cabin, raced to help Bulbasaur. Brock got there first, scooping Bulbasaur and Oddish up and carrying them towards the cabin. Seeing several big rocks nearby, Ash grabbed them and threw them towards the hose, hoping to jam the vacuum mechanism. Venom raced out of the cabin through the window and rushed to help his trainer, attacking the hose with Twineedle to no avail. Unlike Kiara, he wasn't heavy enough to hold the hose back.

Brock had an idea. "Onix, go!" he yelled, releasing his Onix. "Use those boulders to jam the hoses!" He pointed to some rock seats that Melanie had.

"On it!" Onix replied, grabbing a boulder. "Everyone stand clear!" Kiara released the hose, and Ash and Venom dived to the side. With amazing aim, Onix threw the boulder, jamming the hose. Bulbasaur saw what he was doing, ran outside, and tossed another boulder into the second hose. Bulbasaur's boulder, slightly smaller than Onix's, was forced through the hose, destroying both it and the vacuum mechanism before crashing through a wall.

Inside the giant stadium, Team Rocket heard a loud rumbling and escaped through the safety hatch as the boulder came through, hitting a vital(and explosive) part of the engine. The resulting shock wave blasted through the open safety hatch, sending Team Rocket flying. "Team Rocket's blasting off again!" they screamed, their voices trailing off as they became a tiny speck in the distance.

…...

Melanie called the police about the stadium still sitting in her sanctuary. She was afraid they wouldn't believe her, but they did. There had been a police search for the stadium, the theft of which had been caught on video camera. The police agreed to pick it up in a few days, once they figured out a way to remove the stadium and take it back to Saffron City where it belonged.

After getting directions out of the sanctuary, the group said their goodbyes to Melanie, who thanked them for their help. "Looks like this village is well protected with Bulbasaur around." Ash said with a smile.

A strange look passed over Melanie's face. "Ash, Brock, don't you agree that Bulbasaur would be an excellent addition to one of your teams?" She had been watching Bulbasaur earlier, and he had taken especial interest in Ash and Brock. And she had a strange feeling that little Oddish would be leaving with a certain red-haired trainer…

Brock and Ash both nodded, looking confused.

"I think Bulbasaur should go with you." Melanie told them.

"Huh?" Ash exclaimed.

"Bulbasaur stayed here to protect the weaker Pokémon, but this village is too small. The bulb on his back can't grow here. He needs to go out into the world now, and I know you two will take good care of him. Please, add Bulbasaur to one of your teams. He's more comfortable with you than he's ever been around any other trainer and I know he'll be happy with either of you."

"But what about the village?" Bulbasaur asked. What would happen to the other Pokémon if he wasn't there to protect them?

"But what will happen to the village without Bulbasaur?" Misty asked.

"Yeah, who's going to protect you?" Brock added.

"It's true Bulbasaur's done a great job. Maybe too great of a job. You see, these Pokémon shouldn't remain in this village forever and ever. When they recover, the Pokémon are supposed to leave, but it's too safe here, so none of them want to leave. But I think it's important that they return to the wild. That's where Pokémon belong. And hopefully someday they'll find trainers as good as the three of you." Melanie replied.

She picked up Bulbasaur and hugged him. "Taking care of sick Pokémon will always be my mission, but my job isn't finished until they return to where they came from. So it's the day a Pokémon leaves that's most rewarding to me."

She set Bulbasaur back down. "It's time for you to leave here, Bulbasaur. You need to follow your own dreams." She turned to Brock and Ash. "Please, take him with you."

Brock and Ash looked at each other, then nodded to Melanie.

"So, which one of you gets Bulbasaur?" Misty asked.

Brock and Ash looked at each again, then looked at Bulbasaur. "That would be up to Bulbasaur." Brock said. Ash nodded.

Bulbasaur walked up to them, his eyes flickering between them. Who should he choose? Both were obviously good trainers, were compassionate, and loved Pokémon. But which one was right for him? And now that he was leaving the village, what were his dreams?

"Do you need some time to think it over, Bulbasaur?" Ash asked. Bulbasaur nodded.

"Good luck, and thanks again, all of you. I'll miss you, Bulbasaur." Melanie said, tears in her eyes as she gave him one last hug.

"It was really nice meeting you, Melanie." Brock told her.

"You too." Much to everyone's surprise, she stood on tiptoe and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "Your quick thinking saved all of us today." she said as she pulled away. "You're a hero, Brock." Brock stood as still as a statue with a big goofy grin on his face, which made Kiara, Judy, and Misty burst into giggles.

"Hey, Brock, are you in there?" Ash questioned, waving his hand in front of Brock's eyes.

Brock snapped out of his daze a little. "Um, yeah, sure…" he replied, following Ash and Misty. He turned to smile and wave to Melanie, which almost caused him to walk into a tree. Misty pulled him out of the way just in time. Melanie giggled and walked into her cabin.

"C'mon, lover boy." Misty laughed, leading him away. Bulbasaur rolled his eyes good-naturedly.

"Wait for me!" a tiny voice yelled, though all Brock and Misty heard was, "Oddish, Oddish!" They turned to see Oddish running after them and stopped to let her catch up. Once she reached them, she jumped into Misty's arms, cooing and looking up at her with pleading eyes. "Can I come with you?"

No translation was needed from Ash for Misty to pick up Oddish's message. "Do you want to be my Pokémon?" she asked. Oddish bounced happily in her arms and nodded. "I promise I'll always take good care of you." Misty said. She took out a Poké Ball, and Oddish tapped the center button with a leaf, getting sucked inside without even a struggle.

…...

Later that day, Brock cooked dinner as Misty introduced Oddish to her other Pokémon and Ash fiddled with his Pokédex, trying to figure out how to rewrite entries. Bulbasaur talked to both Ash's and Brock's Pokémon, learning about the boys' personalities, their goals, and their pasts in order to make a decision on which trainer to choose. By dinnertime, he had made up his mind.

He walked up to Brock and tapped on his shoulder with a vine. "Yes?" Brock asked, thinking it was Ash or Misty. He turned to see Bulbasaur looking up at him. "Did you need something, Bulbasaur?"

"I'd like you to become my trainer." Bulbasaur replied. Both Ash and Brock were amazing people, but after talking to both their teams, he felt he'd fit in with Brock a little bit better. Though Bulbasaur didn't mind battling, taking on the Pokémon League wasn't really his dream. He'd rather help out the other Pokémon from the sidelines. Plus, he and Brock seemed to be the most similar in personality. Both had dealt with taking on a very huge responsibility. When he had talked to Onix, he learned about how Brock had stepped up to take care of his ten younger brothers and sisters when Brock's parents walked away and left them. It spoke miles for Brock's strength of character, loyalty, and patience.

"He wants you to be his trainer." Ash translated, walking up to them. Though he had to admit he was a tiny bit disappointed, he knew Brock and Bulbasaur would work well together. Both were strong, steady, and cared deeply for others.

Brock smiled and reached for a empty Poké Ball, but Bulbasaur took on a battle stance. "Battle me first." Though he knew Brock wasn't taking on the Pokémon League; with that idiotic Team Rocket around, battles would still be necessary. Plus, he wanted to see Brock's strategy.

Brock didn't need Ash's translation for this. He reached for Zubat's Poké Ball. "Watch the stew, Ash. Zubat! Go!" he yelled, throwing the Poké Ball and releasing the bat Pokémon. "Use Wing Attack!" Brock commanded.

Bulbasaur reached out with his vines, grabbing Zubat.

"Use Bite on the vines to make him let you go!" Brock ordered. Zubat bit down on Bulbasaur's vines, making him roar in pain and flinch away. "Now, use Wing Attack!" Bulbasaur cried out as the super effective attack struck him, sending him flying backwards. But he wasn't giving up yet. Bulbasaur used Vine Whip again, sending Zubat flying.

"Can you continue?" Brock called to his Zubat in concern.

Zubat got up quickly. "Yes, I can, Brock!"

"Use Wing Attack again!" Brock commanded. As Zubat flew towards Bulbasaur, Bulbasaur shot out a Razor Leaf.

"Zubat, dodge!"

Zubat barely got out of the way in time, then struck Bulbasaur with another Wing Attack. Bulbasaur went flying, landing hard on the ground and not getting up this time.

"Poké Ball, go!" Brock yelled, throwing a Poké Ball at Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur was immediately sucked inside. The ball rattled once, twice, three times, then clicked shut. Brock picked up the Poké Ball, smiling. "Welcome to the team, Bulbasaur."

…...

An hour later, dinner was served. Brock was extremely happy to know that Bulbasaur loved his food as much as everyone else did.

Misty stroked Oddish and Butterfree, who were eating next to her. "I wonder if I should give you guys cute nicknames like Ash does with his Pokémon." she mused.

"I didn't nickname my Pokémon." Ash replied. "They had names when I first met them."

"Why didn't you tell us before?!" Misty yelled, punching Ash in the shoulder. "Brock and I have been calling our Pokémon by their species names! They might have had real names and we never knew!"

"Ow! You never asked, and they never mentioned any names, even when they were talking to each other!" Ash protested, rubbing his shoulder. Misty calmed down at this, but she and Brock both asked Ash to ask their Pokémon for their names. Ash started with Brock's Pokémon.

"Onix IS my name." Onix replied when Ash questioned him. "I was bred in captivity, so I didn't get a name from my parents and Brock didn't nickname me."

Brock frowned when Ash translated Onix's words to him. "I'm sorry, Onix. Would you like me to give you a nickname?"

Onix shook his head with a laugh. "No, being called Onix doesn't bother me. And it's been my name for so long that if you call me by something else, I'll probably look at you blankly and wonder who the heck you're talking to."

Brock nodded after Ash told him Onix's answer. "What about you, Geodude? I caught you as a wild Pokémon?" Brock asked.

"My real name is ridiculous and I hate it. It's…" A dirt bike zoomed past, its loud motor cutting off whatever Geodude was saying. "-So just call me Geodude."

"The name my flock gave me is Nightwing, but I don't care what you call me as long as it's not "late for dinner." Zubat added with a shrug.

"Same story with me as with Onix. My former trainer never gave me a nickname." Bulbasaur said with a growl. When Brock asked if he wanted one, Bulbasaur shook his head. "Trainers can give out some very ridiculous nicknames. I don't want one."

"Tell me about it." Kiara said, laughing. "Once I saw a trainer that called his Pokémon Fluffy."

"Yeah, that's pretty bad." Bulbasaur said with a shudder.

"It gets worse." Kiara told him. "That trainer's Pokémon was an Arbok. A MALE Arbok."

Bulbasaur looked at his new trainer in horror. "Please, for the love of all that is good, just call me Bulbasaur."

It took five minutes for Ash to compose himself enough to tell Brock and Misty what Kiara and Bulbasaur had said. Misty and Brock started laughing, and Brock promised not to attempt to nickname Bulbasaur.

Brock's Pokémon done, Ash turned to Misty's.

"My colony called me Tabitha. My former trainer never nicknamed me." Oddish said after Ash asked.

Misty smiled. "That's a pretty name. What about you, Butterfree?"

"I never knew my family, so I never had a name." Butterfree replied softly. Ash translated his words to Misty.

Misty hugged her Butterfree tightly after she heard that. "I'm sorry, Butterfree." she murmured.

"It's okay." Butterfree whispered. "I have all of you as my family now."

"Would you like a name?" Misty asked. Butterfree nodded, and Misty searched her brain for a perfect name. Suddenly she came upon a name she had always liked. "How about Alexander? Alex for short?"

"That's fine. I like Alex better." the Butterfree told her.

Ash relayed the message to Misty, who smiled, glad the Butterfree liked his new name.

Misty dragged Ash over to the pond where Staryu, Starmie and Goldeen were playing and had him ask them for their names. Goldeen's real name was Bella, and Staryu and Starmie informed Ash that their species did not use names, instead relying on psychic signals to differentiate one another.

Ash, Misty, and Brock spent the rest of the afternoon simply relaxing and playing with their Pokémon, then went to bed early that evening. Ash curled up next to Kiara's side, and his other Pokémon cuddled up next to him. He was happy that both his friends got some new Pokémon, but hoped he would soon get another teammate as well.

Little did he know that he wouldn't have to search for his next Pokémon. Sometimes, you can only find what you're looking for when you're not actually looking for it.

...

"According to this, there should be a Pokémon Center around here somewhere and this trail will take us right to it." Misty said, reading the map. "About time too. We've been looking for Vermillion City for ten whole days, and I could really use a hot shower and a warm bed. I'm beat." She plopped down on a small stump.

"Same here." Ash added, sitting down next to her and watching a flock of Spearow. Trevor hopped onto his lap and Judy sat beside them. It had been worth it though. The extra training Ash and his team had been doing during the last ten days had really paid off. Kiara had learned Agility and during a battle with Butterfree, had suddenly learned Mirror Move. She was more surprised than Butterfree when she shot the Confusion Butterfree had just used right back at him. Ash had also started teaching her Assurance and was thinking about getting a TM so she could learn Steel Wing.

Trevor had learned three new moves; Assurance, Crunch, and Super Fang, though his Super Fang still needed some work. Judy also picked up on Assurance, as well as Screech, which Trevor dubbed as "the world's loudest and most annoying move." (Which of course made her sneak up behind him and do it just to freak him out.) Like Trevor, Venom picked up three new moves; Toxic Spikes, Pin Missile, and Agility.

Brock showed Ash some techniques to build up endurance, as well as ways a Pokémon could cover itself if struck by an attack so the attack did the least possible damage. Though Ash's Pokémon were tired and sore after those lessons and Ash hated putting them through it, the lessons paid off, as their Defense was now stronger than ever.

After the group rested for a few minutes, they were on their way again. Suddenly, Misty stopped short. "What's that?" she asked a bit shakily, pointing to a big hulking shape a few feet away with what looked like a tiny little fire on it and squinting in the morning sun to see what it was. "Hey, Ash, Brock, take a look at this…"

Ash approached cautiously, Kiara beside him. Once they got a better look, they discovered it was a tiny Charmander lying down on a huge rock.

Ash noticed the Charmander's condition and was worried. It looked exhausted and the flame on its tail was very small. "Are you okay, little one?" he asked softly. "Do you need some help?"

"He can understand Pokémon." Venom told the little Charmander.

"I'm waiting for my master." Charmander replied softly. Ash could tell by the voice that it was male.

Something about the way Charmander said it made Ash worry more. He translated Charmander's words to the others, then asked, "How long have you been waiting?"

"A while." Charmander whispered. It was obvious to Ash that he was hiding something. Judy, Kiara, Trevor, and Venom looked at each other, worry in their eyes.

Ash had a bad feeling about this situation. "Are you hungry?" Ash asked. The Charmander nodded, and Ash poured a bowl of Poké Chow for it, as well as a large bowl of water.

"Thanks." the Charmander said gratefully, devouring the bowl of food and drinking some water.

"Do you have a name?" Ash questioned. The Charmander shook his head.

"Maybe we should take Charmander back to the Pokémon Center." Brock suggested, as worried as Ash. Charmander's tail flame was dangerously low.

"No!" Charmander exclaimed, an edge of panic to his voice. "Master told me to wait right here and not to leave!" Ash translated his words to Brock and Misty, who became extremely concerned.

"Charmander, please come to the Pokémon Center with us." Ash pleaded. "You'll be safer in there and I'll help you find your trainer."

Charmander violently shook his head. "He said I had to stay here!"

Despite the fact that he really wanted to get Charmander safe, Ash knew Charmander would just go running back. He couldn't force the Pokémon to go with him and he couldn't capture him due to the fact that he belonged to another trainer. Finally, he nodded. "Let me at least give you a Super Potion." Charmander consented to this and Ash sprayed a Super Potion on him before refilling both the food and water bowls.

"I'll keep an eye out for your trainer." Ash reassured the Charmander. Charmander thanked him, and the group reluctantly left the little Charmander, heading for the Pokémon Center.

…...

Ash recalled both Kiara and Venom before they entered the Pokémon Center, knowing Kiara would be uncomfortable and Venom, with his sharp stingers, might cause a panic.

Ash sat at one of the tables absently petting Trevor, who was on his lap, and staring out the window. Storm clouds were rolling in and he hoped Charmander's trainer had come and got him. The bad feeling that Charmander had been abandoned had not left him, and he prayed that it was wrong. Judy, who was sitting next to Ash, looked at him with a worried expression on her face. Brock was no better than Ash. He sat with his chin in his hands, staring out the window with the same fear on his mind.

"Here's some nice hot soup." Misty said, carrying some hot soup from the cafeteria over to them. Brock barely noticed as she set his bowl down next to him. Ash quietly thanked her, then began picking at it, unusual for Ash, for he had as big of an appetite as a Snorlax. "You guys are worried about Charmander, aren't you?" Misty sighed, sitting down with her own bowl. "So am I."

"Do you think anyone picked him up yet?" Brock whispered. "What-What if his trainer just left him there?"

"I hope not." Ash murmured. "Maybe we should-"

Laughter from another table interrupted them. A group of kids were hovered around a smug looking blue-haired boy. "Wow, you sure got a lot of them." a kid said.

"That's for sure!" another put in.

"Just look at them!" the blue-haired boy said arrogantly. "It's a pretty cool collection!" Ash disliked him the moment he set eyes on him. He could tell this kid cared for no one but himself.

Another kid laughed. "Way cool!"

"You're the man, Damien!" another added.

"Yo, didn't you have a Charmander too?" someone asked. Ash had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Please tell me this isn't Charmander's trainer…."

"Yeah, I had one, but the puny thing couldn't defeat the weakest of opponents." Damien replied, a smirk on his face.

This angered Brock. "Charmander may be weak against water types, but if their trainers work hard, they can become strong."

"I don't like that guy's attitude!" Misty told her friends in disgust.

"Me neither." Judy growled, wanting to kick that kid's butt.

"Same here." Ash added. "I really hope that's not…"

"So, what did you do with that Charmander anyway?" a kid asked.

"Oh, I left it on some rock in the woods. That thing is so stupid! No matter what I do to it, it keeps on following me. I finally got rid of it by promising I'd come back for it. It's probably still there, wagging its tail."

"It'll probably wag it until the flame goes out!" someone laughed.

Ash was up and moving at this, seeing nothing but red. The others rushed after him.

"Go and get your Charmander." Ash growled at Damien. "He's still out there waiting for you!"

"Who's going to make me, you little nerd?" Damien taunted. "You?" He and the other boys surrounded Ash menacingly.

Judy and Trevor ran over to Ash, positioning themselves protectively between the bullies and their trainer, ready to beat the crap out of those jerks if they made one wrong move. Brock and Misty stood on either side of Ash, glaring at Damien and his thugs and ready to back Ash up if it came down to a fight.

Nurse Joy, sensing the impending fight, rushed over to stop it. "Break it up! You know the rules! No fighting in the Pokémon Center!"

A burst of thunder and the sound of pouring rain caught Ash's attention. He remembered something Professor Oak had said in one of his shows. "It is said that a Charmander dies if its tail flame ever goes out."

"Oh no! Charmander!" Ash cried, grabbing his backpack and running outside without even stopping to put on a raincoat. Judy and Trevor rushed after him.

"That little creep! He can have that pathetic Charmander. They deserve one another!" Damien laughed.

Misty glared at him. "You're the little creep, you sicko!" She gave him a swift kick in the place no man wants to be kicked, then gave him an uppercut to the jaw. He fell to the floor, groaning and seeing stars and Pidgies. Quickly throwing on her raincoat, she ran into the storm after Ash.

"You all disgust me." Brock growled at Damien and his gang as Damien lay groaning on the floor. He grabbed his backpack and raincoat and followed Misty outside.

…...

Ash rushed towards the rock, guided by the tiny light on Charmander's tail. The fire lizard was barely conscious, desperately holding a leaf over his tail in the hopes of keeping it dry. Grabbing a blanket from his backpack, Ash covered the shivering Pokémon, trying to keep the tiny flame from going out as Judy and Trevor stood over Charmander, trying to shield him as best they could from the rain. Brock and Misty rushed over to help, Brock scooping up Charmander. Ash grabbed his raincoat from the bag, covering Charmander's tail flame and preventing it from going out as they ran to the Pokémon Center. Charmander opened his eyes and looked at them weakly before losing consciousness.

"Hang in there, Charmander. You can make it." Brock pleaded.

They ran inside the Pokémon Center as Nurse Joy was about to close up. "Nurse Joy, please help us!" Ash gasped, out of breath.

"What is it? What's wrong?" Nurse Joy asked in concern, running over.

"This Charmander, the flame on his tail is almost out!" a panicked Brock told her.

Nurse Joy gasped as she saw Charmander's condition. "There's not much time!" She rushed Charmander to the back room, hooking him up to a heart rate monitor and putting a heating pad under his tail.

"Will Charmander survive?" Ash asked anxiously.

"It's very weak." Nurse Joy reported. She glared at Ash. "How could you let it get in this condition?!" A Chansey who was helping her also looked at them reproachfully.

"Damien, that kid with the blue hair, abandoned him in the woods. He promised to come back for him, and Charmander's loyal to Damien, so he believed him. We saw Charmander on the rock earlier, and when we heard Damien bragging about abandoning him there, we confronted him and then ran out to get Charmander." Ash explained.

"Poor Charmander." Nurse Joy murmured. "And that Damien just left with the rest of them."

"Please, save him." both Ash and Brock begged.

She nodded. "I'll do whatever I can."

…...

Chansey led them out to the waiting room. Ash sat down, shivering. He was soaked to the bone since he had neglected to put on a raincoat before running out to get Charmander. Trevor and Judy cuddled against him, trying to use their body heat to warm him up, but they were just as soaked as he was.

"You poor dears." Chansey said. "I'll get you some nice warm towels and some blankets." She left the room, then returned with enough towels for everyone.

Ash went into the restroom with Trevor and Judy, drying them and himself off, then stepping into one of the stalls to change into a spare set of clothing. When they walked back out, they found Chansey had brought out several thick blankets as well as a pot of hot tea and three cups. "Thank you, Chansey." Brock said. The others nodded.

"Chansey, will Charmander be all right?" Ash asked softly. She looked confused that'd he'd be asking her.

"Ash can understand Pokémon." Judy explained, guiding Ash to one of the cots. Trevor jumped on Ash's lap, and Judy grabbed a blanket, sitting next to Ash and wrapping the blanket around them.

Chansey looked at Ash in surprise, then answered, "It's too soon to say for certain, dear. But I think he should be." She left the room, going back to help Nurse Joy.

Misty and Brock paced around, occasionally sitting down, but unable to remain still for long. Ash clung to Trevor and Judy, beginning to cry softly.

"Ash, he'll be okay, I'm sure of it." Judy soothed, hugging her trainer tightly.

"I-I should have known that he'd been abandoned!" Ash sobbed. "All the signs were there, if I had done a better job of convincing him to come to the Pokémon Center, maybe he wouldn't-"

Judy gently placed a paw over his mouth, cutting him off. "Ash, you have to stop blaming yourself for things. You've done everything you could for Charmander. This is Damien's fault, not yours."

Brock sat next to Ash, putting his arm around his little friend. "Ash, this isn't your fault. You helped Charmander in every way you could, unlike his trainer. Sometimes, doing your best is all you can do."

"I know." Ash whispered. "I-I just want Charmander to be okay."

"We all do, Ash." Misty murmured, sitting beside him. "He's in really good hands and I think we got to him in time. I'm sure he'll be fine; he's got to be."

For a few hours, they waited anxiously, pacing around the room, all thinking the same thing. Charmander, hold on. You've got to keep your flame burning.

The light signal went out, grabbing everyone's attention. Nurse Joy came out with a frown, and their hearts dropped. But she looked at them, smiled, and gave a peace sign, signaling that Charmander would be alright.

"Charmander's recovering. He'll be fine by morning." Nurse Joy reported, letting them peek at the little fire lizard through the door. Charmander was asleep on the bed, the flame on his tail burning much stronger.

Ash grinned with relief and Brock smiled at him and then at Charmander. That's the spirit, Charmander. Brock thought.

…...

Early in the morning, Charmander awoke, finding himself in the Pokémon Center. Memories came flashing back to him of last night; being caught in the rain, the young black-haired trainer and his friends coming to rescue him, and being wrapped in a warm blanket and carried to the Pokémon Center. He was grateful to them for having saved him from death, but he needed to go back to the rock and wait for Damien.

He opened the window and was about to leap out when more memories flashed through his mind. He remembered hearing, while drifting in and out of consciousness, the raven-haired trainer telling the nurse that he had heard Damien bragging about abandoning Charmander on the rock. And though he so didn't want it to true, Charmander knew the black haired trainer was right. Damien had never loved him.

How many times had Damien called him worthless and pathetic, a sorry excuse for a Pokémon? No matter how hard Charmander tried, he had never been able to please him, only getting harsh words for all his effort. Charmander sat back down on the bed, tears in his eyes. Was he not worthy of being cared for by anyone?

Then the face of the young Speaker who saved him flashed through his mind. Despite not even being Charmander's trainer, the boy had taken care of him, gave him food, water, and medicine, then rushed out later in the middle of the freezing rainstorm with no raincoat just to bring Charmander to safety. He remembered the kindness in those brown eyes, and the words, "Please save him!" while he was fading in and out of consciousness. That trainer had cared whether he lived or died, unlike Damien. Charmander wished he could join him. But that trainer was probably long gone. Charmander shut the window and lay back in the bed with a sigh.

And then his door opened.

…...

After spending the night in the Pokémon Center, the first thing Ash, Misty, Brock, Trevor, and Judy did in the morning was go visit Charmander. Nurse Joy led them into the room, then had to step out as there was a patient that needed her attention.

The little fire lizard had been lying on the bed looking sad, but the second he saw them, he sat up, eyes brightening. "You stayed." he whispered.

Ash smiled at him. "We had to make sure you were okay."

"Why?" Charmander asked softly.

"What do you mean?" Ash questioned.

"Why do you care so much? I'm not even your Pokémon. Why did you help me?"

"We helped you because you needed us to." Ash told him. "We couldn't just walk by and let you suffer when we could do something to help you."

"My trainer did." Charmander muttered. "I heard you talking to the nurse last night. I know Damien abandoned me." There were tears in his eyes at this. Ash gently wrapped his arms around Charmander, who hugged him tightly. "I tried to be a good Pokémon." Charmander whispered. "I tried my best, but I just couldn't…"

"Charmander, what that thing did to you was NOT your fault." Trevor interrupted.

"Damien is a jerk." Ash said angrily. "Charmander, you're a great Pokémon, and someone like Damien doesn't deserve you." Charmander cuddled closer to Ash at this.

"Ash is right." Brock put in, gently petting Charmander. "You're a good Pokémon, but Damien was a horrible trainer. You deserve a trainer that will love you and protect you." Misty nodded, rubbing Charmander's head. Charmander looked up at Ash and was about to ask if he could join him when Nurse Joy walked in.

Nurse Joy smiled at the scene in front of her. It was obvious that these trainers cared deeply for the little Charmander they had helped to rescue. "I hate to break this up, but I need to give Charmander one last check-up to make sure he's fully recovered." The group moved to the side as she examined the little fire lizard. A few minutes later, she looked up and smiled. "Charmander's doing just fine."

"That's great." Ash said with relief.

"I'll send Charmander to Professor Oak in Pallet Town." Nurse Joy told them. "He'll make sure he gets a good home."

At this, Charmander's eyes widened and he violently shook his head. He jumped off the bed and into Ash's arms, nearly bowling him over. Ash caught Charmander, hugging the little fire lizard. "Does this mean you want to come with me?"

Charmander nodded eagerly. Ash smiled, then turned to Nurse Joy with pleading eyes. "Can I…"

She smiled. "Of course. I can see he's very attached to you already. I know you'll take great care of him."

Shifting Charmander to one arm, Ash took out an empty Poké Ball. Charmander tapped the center button, and was sucked inside without a struggle. Ash let him out immediately after the capture was complete and Charmander looked up at him in confusion.

"Ash keeps us out of our Poké Balls as much as possible, space and weather permitting." Judy explained.

Charmander smiled. Damien had never let him out of his Poké Ball unless there was a battle or they were training. He was going to enjoy this extra freedom.

…...

They bid goodbye to Nurse Joy, then left the Pokémon Center. Once outside, Ash released Kiara and Venom. Ash pulled them aside and gave them a quick explanation of the events of last night, then introduced Charmander to all of his Pokémon officially, making sure he knew everyone's name. All were glad to welcome their newest teammate.

"Would you like a nickname of your own, Charmander?" Ash asked. Charmander nodded shyly. "Hmm, what would be a good nickname? Blaze? No, that's a fire-type ability…Torch? Nah…Flare?…Ugh! I'm horrible with nicknames!" Ash shouted in frustration.

"I've got an idea." Brock said. He reached into his backpack and took out his laptop. "You want a name that means "fire," right?" Ash nodded and Brock typed 'Boys' names that mean fire' into the search engine.

Misty leaned over to look. "I see a cute one! How about Aidan? It means "little fire."

"Aidan, huh?" Ash murmured. "I like it. What do you think, Charmander? You're the one who's getting a name and I don't want you to be stuck with a name you don't like."

Charmander thought about it for a few minutes. "I like it too." he decided. Aidan was a nice name, and it definitely fit him.

Ash smiled. "Aidan it is, then." The newly named Aidan grinned up at him and Trevor climbed onto Ash's shoulder as the group headed down Route 24 on their way to Vermillion City.

Hope all of you liked this!

Yeah, I changed things up a bit, like making the bridge not be a trap. That was way dangerous, and someone could have died. If I had let that happen in this story, Ash's Pokémon probably would have killed Melanie.

I also decided to let Brock get a kiss. Why should Ash get all the girls? Brock will still flirt, but he'll be a little more subtle about it.(Keyword being a little). I may have him get a girlfriend eventually, but I'm not sure who yet. Let me know if any of you have ideas!

Please review, even if it's to yell at me about splitting up the starters! I love hearing from my readers and in a writer's eyes, reviews are like chocolate.

Pokémon List(Species and Name)

Ash's Pokémon:

Fearow- Kiara

Rattata- Trevor

Mankey- Judy

Beedrill- Venom

Charmander- Aidan

Brock's Pokémon

Onix

Geodude

Zubat

Bulbasaur

Misty's Pokémon

Staryu

Starmie

Goldeen- Bella

Butterfree- Alex

Oddish- Tabitha

 
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