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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2. Recovery, Training, And A New Teammate

Ash will be more knowledgeable about training and will be more disciplined and willing to work hard to get what he wants. He is also more willing to listen to advice and won't jump headlong into things(as much.)

Unlike most original trainer stories, Ash will not catch more Pokémon, but less. He will only catch six. Well, seven if Pikachu counts. This will be explained later on in the story.

Most of you have asked me, "What happened to Pikachu?" Part of your question will be answered at the end of this chapter.

"Hello."- human speech

Hello- thoughts

"Hello."- Translation of Pokémon speech

"Hello." Pokédex entries/television broadcasts

   

It was evening at the hospital. Visiting hours were now over, and Ash Ketchum was sitting in his hospital bed with his two new Pokémon, the TV playing softly in the background.

He had spent yesterday evening and most of today alternating going through a battery of tests to make sure the electricity hadn't done any permanent damage and reassuring his distressed mother, who had rushed to the hospital as soon as she heard, that he would be fine. Professor Oak had also visited this morning, apologizing several times for letting Ash go on his journey with a homicidal pikachu. Ash had accepted Professor Oak's apology and reassured him that it wasn't his fault, that Professor Oak could not have known that Pikachu would do that. The professor took Pikachu's Poké Ball, promising to release Ash's former starter from his team.

They had both been amazed at the story of how a wild rattata and a flock of spearow had saved Ash's life. Delia had cooed over Kiara and Trevor, hugging them and thanking them over and over for saving her little baby. Like most ten year old boys, Ash was extremely embarrassed at this. He decided to not tell Professor Oak about his new ability or about seeing Ho-Oh. Though Ash trusted the man, he wasn't sure if A). Professor Oak would believe him, or B) that the professor would keep it a secret if he did. He also decided to wait to tell his mother until a less stressful time. She was worried about him enough; he didn't want her worried about his sanity as well. He wouldn't believe it himself if he hadn't had living proof sprawled across his lap and sitting on his shoulder, preening his hair.

"I'm so glad I'm getting out of here tomorrow." Ash grumbled to Kiara and Trevor. He looked at the IV stuck in his hand in disgust. "And getting this thing out of me."

"Yeah, that does look painful." Trevor said, looking at the IV.

"Trevor!" Kiara scolded.

"What? I was sympathizing!"

Kiara rolled her eyes. "So, Ash, where are we going when we get out of here?" she asked, trying to get his mind off the IV.

"Well, the first gym is Pewter Gym." Ash flipped through the Indigo League handbook he had brought on his journey. "Looks like it's a Rock type gym. The leader's name is Brock. According to this, he normally uses a geodude and an onix. Okay, the best types of moves to use against Rocks are water, grass, fighting…I know there's two or three more but I can't remember them."

"Ice, ground, and steel." Trevor put in. "I have normal type moves, which aren't very effective, but my kind can learn Dig, if that helps."

"It does." Ash replied, smiling at the purple rodent. "We can work on that move when we get out of here. Kiara, you might have to sit this gym out. You're at a type disadvantage and I don't want you hurt."

"I understand." Kiara told him. She was a little disappointed that she wouldn't be able to battle in the first gym, but she knew she didn't stand much of a chance against a Rock type.

"You will be able to battle with me in Viridian Forest." Ash replied, hoping to soothe her disappointment. "I hear it's crawling with Bug-type trainers, no pun intended. And the second gym I think is Water-type, so you definitely be able to battle there." Kiara brightened at that and Ash reached up to scratch her neck. "Do you guys mind if I scan you with my Pokédex to see what moves you have and what level you are?"

"What's a Pokédex?" Kiara asked.

"It's a machine that trainers use to record Pokémon sightings. It tells you a bit about the Pokémon, and if you capture one, it shows you the power level the Pokémon is at and what moves it knows." Both Kiara and Trevor nodded and agreed to be scanned.

Ash scanned Kiara first. "Unlike Pidgey, Spearow has a terrible attitude. It is very wild and will sometimes attack other Pokémon and humans. This spearow is level three, female, and has the ability Keen Eye. She knows the moves Peck and Growl." the Pokédex reported.

Ash slammed it shut, angry that once again the machine had insulted someone, especially one of his beloved starters. "I'm sorry, Kiara! I didn't know it said that! This isn't a Pokédex; it's an insult machine! I'm going to have to-"

Kiara cut him off. "Ash, it's okay. I know you didn't write that. And," she lowered her voice, "I know what humans think about my kind."

"Well, none of that is true!" Ash said fiercely, reaching up to stroke her feathers. "Kiara, you are one of the most wonderful Pokémon I've ever known. And your parents and flock are amazing too. And when I figure out how this stupid thing works, I'm going to re-write that entry to show the world what you're really like!"

Kiara nuzzled Ash. "Thanks. But it really doesn't bother me what humans that aren't you think." Ash knew it did bother her just a tiny bit, but decided to change the subject.

"I'll scan you next, Trevor." he told the purple rodent. "At least I know that this entry only insults me."

"A Forest Pokémon, Rattata. It likes cheese, nuts, fruits, and berries. It also comes out into open fields to steal food from stupid travelers. This rattata is level ten, male, and has the ability Guts. He knows the moves Tackle, Tail Whip, Quick Attack, Focus Energy, and Bite."

"Good. We should probably start by-"

The TV interrupted Ash. "This is breaking news. This morning, the Viridian Pokémon Center was nearly robbed by three members of the criminal organization, Team Rocket. Thankfully, they were stopped by a visiting trainer named A.J and his Pokémon. The criminals got away, but no Pokémon were taken, and only minimal damage was done to the Pokémon Center. If you see these criminals, please report them to our tip line." A picture of a young woman with long pink hair, a man with blue hair, and a meowth was shown as well as a video that must have been taken from the security cameras.

"Wow. I'm glad I asked for you guys to stay with me." Ash said.

"They're not very good battlers." Trevor mused as he watched the security footage. "And what are they doing standing there yelling something? I could have walked behind them and stolen all those Poké Balls back and they would have never noticed." The video switched to one that must have been taken from an outside camera. "And how are they supposed to get away in that?" Trevor questioned as he looked at Team Rocket's balloon. "That thing could be seen from ten miles away! And why would you use something a Pidgeotto could easily pop? Do these people even think? They suck at being thieves!"

"Trevor the thief critic." Kiara laughed.

Trevor just shook his head. "Now, what were you saying, Ash?"

"I was saying we should probably start by working on teaching you the move Dig. We should also do some speed training since rock types are slow and boosting your attack power since they have good defense. Kiara, we should probably work on your defense and teach you some new moves as well as leveling you up higher."

Both Trevor and Kiara nodded. "Sounds good." Kiara replied.

"Finding some more teammates would probably be a good idea as well. Do you two have any suggestions? You know this area and the Pokémon here better than I do."

"There's a colony of Mankey living near our nesting grounds." Kiara told him. "They're fighting types, so they'll be great for the Pewter Gym and many of them are looking for trainers." Her eyes lit up. "In fact, I know the perfect one for our team. I'll take you to meet her tomorrow. You'll love Judy. She's incredible. Tough as a rock, and a great battler. She's my best friend."

"I thought I was your best friend." Trevor mock-whined.

"You're my best male friend. She's my best female friend. I can have more than one best friend, can't I?" Kiara poked Trevor playfully.

"That would be great, Kiara. Thanks!" Ash said happily.

"No problem. She's been looking for a trainer for a while now. She has big dreams of becoming the best of the best, but she hasn't found a trainer that suits her yet."

"Hopefully, she'll like me."

"She will. Trust me."

"I do." He reached up again to scratch her neck. "I was thinking we could stay here for about a week and train, then head to Viridian Forest. I want us to be at our best before we hit Pewter Gym."

"Good idea." Kiara said approvingly. "I can ask Father if he can help us with training."

"I'd like that as long as he's not too busy. I'm still new at this and it'd be nice to get some more advice."

They continued to discuss training until Ash began to grow tired. Trevor plopped down on Ash's chest and Kiara nestled against his side. Soon, all three were in the land of Nod.

…...

The next morning, Ash awoke bright and early, waiting impatiently to be released. The doctor came in around 8:30 to remove Ash's IV. Kiara distracted Ash from the process by telling him stories of some of her exploits in the Spearow flock. Next came the tedious process of paperwork and aftercare instructions, and then finally at 10:30 they allowed Ash to go. He practically ran out of the doors.

After a brief stop at the Pokémart to grab some food and supplies, Ash, Trevor, and Kiara went down the route to the right of the city, Kiara leading the way and Trevor at Ash's side. Once near the middle of that route, Kiara flew off to go talk to her parents while Ash and Trevor looked for a good training spot. Finally, they came to a patch of flat earth about ten feet long with a boulder resting at the end of the patch.

"This looks like a good place to train." Ash told Trevor. "Now to teach you Dig… As soon as I figure out how to do this. I should have stopped at the bookstore before I came here."

"Ash, I don't think it's that difficult." Trevor replied. "All I have to do is dig a hole, tunnel through the ground, then pop up quickly to the surface."

"I know, but how do you figure out where the heck you're going or where your opponent is when you're under the ground?"

"I think by following the vibrations of their movements or by sound."

"Let's try it." Ash decided. "You start the tunnel here. Once you're underground, I'll run over to where the boulder is and you follow my footsteps. When I say "Now." come up next to me."

Trevor nodded and began to quickly dig a hole. Once the rattata was fully underground, Ash began running towards the boulder. Once he reached it, he yelled, "Now!"

And Trevor popped up, but he misjudged the distance between him and Ash and wound up leaping out right under Ash's feet. This had the effect of making Ash lose his balance and falling hard on his bottom.

"Sorry." Trevor said sheepishly. "You okay?"

"I'm fine." Ash told him, getting up and brushing himself off. "You did a good job on the speed of the move. Let's practice boosting it and working on your accuracy."

"Sounds good." Trevor replied. They were about to start again when Ash suddenly felt something grab his hat from behind.

…...

Ash turned around, thinking it was Kiara playing with him. Instead, he saw a Mankey standing on the boulder and holding his hat triumphantly. Before he could react or say anything, the Mankey scurried away and up a nearby tree.

Ash ran to the tree, Trevor following behind. "Careful, Ash!' Trevor warned.

"Hey!" Ash called up to the Mankey. "Can I have my hat back?"

"Come and get it!" the Mankey taunted. Ash could tell by the voice that it was a female. Thankfully, her tone seemed more playful than angry or cruel.

Ash reached into his backpack and grabbed a bag of doughnuts that he had bought from the Pokémart. He held out one to the Mankey. "I'll trade you this doughnut for it."

She considered, eying the doughnut hungrily. "Make it two and it's a deal."

"Okay. Two then."

She hopped down from the tree and walked towards him. "Deal." Then she stopped short, her eyes widening. "Wait. Can you understand what I'm saying?"

"Yes."

"So the rumors ARE true, then. I thought the Terrible Trio were just making up stories again."

"Terrible Trio?" Ash asked, handing her the doughnuts as she gave him his hat back.

"These three spearow brothers who when they're not bickering, pull pranks on everyone. They said the flock rescued a human after he saved my friend Kiara's life. They also said he somehow got the ability to understand Pokémon after being shocked by a psychotic pikachu. I thought they were just making it up, but I can see that's not the case. I'm assuming you're that human then?"

"Yes. And by any chance is your name Judy?"

The Mankey looked at him with shock and slight suspicion. "Yes, but how'd you…"

"Judy!" All three looked up at the sound of Kiara's voice. "I was actually just about to look for you." She landed in front of them. "Ash, Trevor, this is my friend, Judy. Judy, this is my trainer, Ash, and my friend from Route one, Trevor."

"Oh, I remember you telling me about Trevor." Judy replied. "Nice to meet you officially by the way. Kiara's told me a lot about you."

"All good things I hope." Trevor responded.

"Mostly." Judy chuckled. She turned to Ash. "So you finally found yourself a trainer." she said, looking Ash up and down, assessing him. Ash shuffled a little, feeling oddly nervous under her intense stare.

"Yes I did." Kiara said happily.

"He seems like a nice one. Brave too, if the Terrible Trio were telling the truth about him diving into the path of a Thunderbolt to save you." Judy murmured.

"They were. This time at least." Kiara told her.

"And he did pass my test…" Judy mused.

"That was a test?" Ash exclaimed, surprised.

Judy turned back to him. "Sorry for talking about you like you weren't there, Ash." she said sheepishly. "I'm not used to having a human be able to understand me. And yes, that was a test. I wanted to see how you'd react, whether you'd be angry and either do something stupid or attack me, or terrified of me and run off like a scared Meowth.. I've had both those reactions before, but never one like yours. You're the first person to try reasoning with me and not treating me like a dumb animal." She studied him a bit more, then seemed to come to a decision. "You looking for a third Pokémon ?"

Still puzzling over Judy's eccentric trainer-finding methods, Ash nodded. "Yes, I am. Would you like to join us?"

"Yes, I would. On one condition."

"What is it?"

"You have to battle me first. With Trevor. I want to see how you handle battling without a type advantage." She looked at Trevor. "And I want to see those 'brainiac battle strategies' that Kiara keeps telling me about."

Trevor glared at Kiara. "I said it as a compliment!" Kiara protested.

Ash turned to Trevor. "What do you think?" he whispered. "You're the one that's actually going to be in the battle."

Trevor thought for a few minutes. "I think we can handle it. Tell her it's a deal."

Ash faced Judy. "It's a deal. But I have a condition of my own."

"And what would that be?" Judy asked.

"If I win, you have to give back all of the stuff you've taken from other trainers."

Judy laughed. "Relax. I already did that. I'll usually play with it a little bit and throw it back down. Or in the case of the runners, just leave it in the path for them to find later."

Ash sighed in relief. "That's good."

"Now, are we gonna get this battle started or what?" Judy demanded.

"You ready, Trevor?" Ash asked.

Trevor nodded.

"I'll be referee." Kiara announced. "Now, this is a one on one battle with no substitutions. Take your positions!" Trevor and Judy moved into fighting stances. "And the battle begins now!"

Judy started off with a Low Kick, which Trevor couldn't dodge in time. The rattata was pushed a few feet back.

"You okay, Trevor?" Ash called, worried.

Trevor got up, wincing, but nodded.

Judy rushed towards him, about to use Scratch.

"Trevor use Quick Attack to get out the way, then use Dig!"

Trevor dodged Judy's attack by inches, then dug a hole and went underground, tunneling straight towards her. She looked around trying to figure out where he'd come up.

Ash could see the ground move slightly where Trevor was. When the movement reached Judy, he yelled, "Now!"

Trevor shot out of the ground, making Judy lose her balance and fall.

"Now use Quick Attack while she's still getting up!"

Trevor slammed into Judy, knocking her back to the ground. She got a good Scratch in though while he was close. Trevor staggered a little, getting close to fainting.

Ash knew he needed to end it quickly. "Tackle, now!"

With the last of his energy, Trevor struck Judy as she was struggling to get up, and she once again hit the ground, not getting up this time.

Ash threw a Poké Ball. "Poké Ball, go!"

It sucked Judy in. Ash held his breath as it rattled once, twice, three times. Then it finally clicked and Ash picked it up. "Welcome to the team, Judy." .

…...

Ash sprayed a Potion on the exhausted Trevor, then released Judy and did the same thing.

"That was awesome!" Judy exclaimed as soon as she caught her breath. "I don't think I've ever had such a great battle. Except for the times I've battled Kiara, that is." she added quickly. "You're good. We're going to get along just fine." she told Ash before turning to Trevor. "And you're really fast. I don't think I've ever seen a rattata move that quickly before."

"That was a good battle." someone agreed from behind Ash. Startled, Ash jumped about a foot in the air. Turning around quickly and nearly losing his balance before Judy steadied him, Ash noticed that it was Kiara's father and the Fearow leader, Garrett.

Garrett chuckled at Ash's surprise. "Sorry for startling you. Was that your first battle?"

"Sort of. I mean, I've battled at school a few times, but this is my first battle with my own Pokémon. Pikachu, well…."

"Your starter really tried to kill you? I was hoping the Terrible Trio had been mistaken on that part." Judy blurted out. Ash's face fell and he nodded. Feeling ashamed of herself, Judy reached up and touched his hand. "Ash, I'm so sorry. I never should have asked that."

"It's not your fault, Judy." Ash murmured. "I-I just don't know what I did to make him hate me…"

"You didn't do anything." Kiara interrupted. 'The reason he gave me for treating you like crap is that you are human, which you can't help any more than I can help being a Spearow, or Trevor can help being a Rattata, not that'd we'd really want to change our species." She hopped on Ash's shoulder and nuzzled him. "Pikachu's actions were not your fault, so stop blaming yourself. He was simply full of blind hatred. I'm not going to presume I know what caused it, but it wasn't you. You were just the one he took it out on." Ash nodded, but Kiara feared that he still felt guilty. In time though, she, Trevor, and Judy would make him see that his former starter's psychotic behavior was not his fault.

"Listen to Kiara, Ash." Garrett told him firmly. "You are not to blame for Pikachu's decisions. It is not your fault. And unless that thing comes back, let's not give him a minute more of our time. He does not deserve it." The group nodded.

Changing the subject, Garrett told Ash, "Your battle style is good, especially for a beginner, but always watch out for that first attack, especially if your opponent is at a higher level than you. Using the element of surprise and getting your opponent off balance was a good tactic. Trevor, your speed is great, but it would be a good idea to work on your endurance. Judy, you need to work on your evasiveness. With an attack like Dig, it's a good idea to leap into the air just as they're coming up, or if there are boulders or other objects on the battlefield, get up on those. Use your environment to work for you." Trevor, Judy, and Ash all nodded.

"Thanks." Ash told him gratefully. "You sure know a lot about battles, sir."

Garrett laughed. "My name's Garrett, Ash. Fearow don't use human honorifics."

"Sorry."

"Not a problem. I know you were trying to be respectful. And I had to learn a lot about battles to become head of a Spearow flock and to give them the protection they need." Garrett looked like he was going to say something else, but seemed to think better of it. Ash knew it was best not to press him on it. Kiara gave her father a strange look, but let it go as well.

Trying to figure out what to do next, Ash took out his Pokédex and scanned Judy, forgetting the little problem he had had with it last night.

Mankey, a Pig Monkey Pokémon of the Fighting-type. Known for its superior footwork, it packs a powerful punch. Although Mankey is usually calm, it does have a bad temper. Once Mankey begins to Thrash, stopping it is impossible. This Mankey is level five, female, and has the ability Anger Point. She knows the moves Scratch, Low Kick, Leer, and Focus Energy.

"Again?!" Ash yelled at the Pokédex. "I'm sorry, Judy! I forgot this thing seems to like to insult everything it scans."

Judy laughed. "No problem. Some of us do have bad tempers, so that's not all that inaccurate. The part about Thrash being impossible to stop is, though. All you need to do is wait for whoever's doing the move to get confused and then lead them into a tree or something. That'll stop it." Ash decided not to ask Judy how exactly she knew that.

"You have some good moves, Judy." Ash said, changing the subject. "I think the best way to help with your evasiveness would be to have you spar with Kiara. I'll work with Trevor on Dig."

All three nodded. "I'll try not to trip you this time." Trevor said.

"That would be nice."

Kiara and Judy began their mock-battle while Trevor and Ash continued their work on Dig. Garrett alternated between the two groups, giving advice when needed.

Ash tried to keep an eye on Judy and Kiara as he worked with Trevor which nearly caused another mishap, but Garrett shouted out a warning and Ash jumped out of the way just in time.

"You need to be careful, Ash." Garrett warned. "Losing focus could lose you the battle or get you harmed."

"Sorry." Ash said sheepishly. "I just wanted to make sure Kiara and Judy were okay."

"They're fine. I'm keeping an eye on them. Just focus on Trevor right now."

"I wish I could do a lot of things at once like you can." Ash murmured, keeping an eye on Trevor as he began to dig another hole.

"It took me years to learn to do that." Garrett told him. "You'll learn it eventually with time and experience. Don't expect perfection, especially on your first day."

"Thanks." Ash said as he ran with Trevor following underground.

After about fifteen more minutes, they took a break for a late lunch. Ash was glad he had bought extra Pokémon Chow. Much to his delight, he found out that Judy had learned Fury Swipes.

After lunch, Judy paired off with Trevor while Ash worked with Kiara on learning Fury Attack. Garrett left to make sure things were in order with the flock. After about two hours of practice, they took another break, then switched up again, Ash working with Judy on learning Karate Chop as Trevor and Kiara paired up.

Around dinnertime, they packed up and headed back to Viridian. Ash made a stop at the Pokémon Center to have his team fully healed and to rent a room. Then they ate dinner at a small restaurant that allowed Pokémon and afterwards headed back to their room and relaxed before bedtime.

…...

They developed a routine over the next week. They woke up at seven(Ash remembered to put the alarm on the other side of the room this time) and ran a few laps around Route 22 before breakfast. Ash participated as well, having read that Pokémon do better with exercise and training if their trainer joins in. Ash would then work with Trevor as Judy and Kiara worked together. This lasted until the mid-morning break. After break, they switched once again, Ash practicing with Kiara as Judy and Trevor battled. They took a half hour for lunch, then switched yet again, Ash helping Judy with learning Karate Chop as Trevor and Kiara paired off. They then took a mid-afternoon break, after which they ended the day with speed training, often in the form of a game, such as tag or chase. At dinnertime, exhausted but happy, they returned to their room in the Pokémon Center, had dinner, then simply relaxed and spent time together before bedtime.

Garrett often joined in on their training sessions, observing and offering advice whenever needed. Curious about the team their leader was taking such an active interest in, some of the Spearow flock also joined in, sparring with Kiara and offering(occasionally conflicting) advice. Some members in Judy's colony came as well, teaching Judy some of their best fighting techniques. Judy's brother, who was more eccentric than she was, insisted on teaching Ash a few fighting moves. Ash learned some self-defense moves from him, but couldn't get anywhere close to beating a Mankey.

Jerry, Carl, and Kaleb, otherwise known as the Terrible Trio, had especially delighted in "teaching Judy evasion tactics," in other words; chasing her around and pecking at her. The first time this happened, Ash, who had been working with Kiara at the time and had not heard them and Judy talking about it, had thought they were attacking and panicked. He would have probably dived into the fray to rescue Judy had Garrett not literally held him back. After explaining what was actually going on, Garrett gently lectured Ash on the importance of not panicking and reminded him that this time, he had three Pokémon that would help him out and he did not need to jump into a fight alone.

Despite nearly giving Ash a heart attack, the "training" the Terrible Trio dished out actually did Judy some good. Her evasion became much improved and she managed to perfect her Karate Chop, hitting Kaleb and sending him twenty feet away, knocking him out in one blow. After he had come to with the aid of one of Ash's potions, his two brothers had teased him mercilessly about it, resulting in a fight that Sasha, who was also there at the time, had to once again break up.

Trevor had improved greatly as well. He had perfected Dig, managing to break the small boulder in half. His other moves were also boosted, and he learned Pursuit. His defense had gotten better from practice with Judy, and his speed made him extremely difficult to hit.

Kiara was now a force to be reckoned with. She learned Fury Attack and could often attack five times before the opponent could move out of the way. In the air, she was incredibly quick and evasive and even the Terrible Trio working together had had extreme difficulty even landing a single hit.

At the end of the week, all three of Ash's Pokémon had reached level fifteen and Ash knew it would soon be time to say goodbye to the flock who had so quickly become his friends. On a bright, sunny morning, one week after the training had started, Ash watched Kiara say goodbye to her parents and Judy to her colony, a lump in his throat. He felt slightly guilty for taking them away from their families, even if it had been their own decisions. Trevor stood beside him. Unlike Kiara and Judy, Trevor never had a close relationship with his own colony, as he had told Ash when Ash asked him if there was anyone he wanted to say goodbye to.

"Daddy wants to talk to you alone, Ash." Kiara said, coming up to them. Slightly nervous, Ash went up to the Fearow leader.

"I wanted to wish you luck on your journey, Ash." Garrett began. "And offer you some last minute advice. The secret to becoming the best Pokémon trainer possible is determination, passion, and above all that, hard work. Victories won't just be handed to you. You need to earn them."

"I know."

"You're a good trainer, Ash. I can see that in you already. Be confident in your abilities, but don't get cocky, and never underestimate your opponent. I've made that mistake a few times, and I can tell you from experience that it always bites you in the rear."

"I'll definitely remember that." Ash said, remembering a few battles of his own in school where he had gotten too overconfident and lost. Badly. "Thank you. For everything." Ash wished he had better words to express his gratitude for all Garrett had done for him. Not only had the Fearow leader saved his life, he had taken Ash under his wing and had taught and encouraged him, helping him to become a better trainer.

"You're welcome, kid." Garrett told him. "Take good care of my daughter."

"I will protect her with my life." Ash vowed.

A strange look passed over Garrett's face. "I know you will. But make sure to protect your own life as well. If anything happens to you, your team will be devastated. I would know." The last three words were barely audible.

"Did you have a trainer, Garrett?" Ash asked softly.

Garrett looked down sadly. "Yes. Her name was Lily."

"Did- Did something happen to her?" Ash asked, dreading the answer.

"She passed away a few years ago. Cancer."

Tears filled Ash's eyes and he impulsively hugged the Fearow. "I'm so sorry."

Garrett stiffened in shock. He hadn't been hugged by a human since Lily. Slowly, he relaxed and wrapped a wing around Ash. "It's alright, Ash. I at least got to be with her for seven precious years. She was a wonderful trainer; caring and protective with a fiery temper, and I am grateful to have known her. You and Lily probably would have been friends had you known one another. You remind me a lot of her." Garrett confessed.

"Really?"

Garrett moved his wing away and backed out of the hug so he could look Ash in the eyes. "Yes. You're like her in your fierce protectiveness of your team and your love of Pokémon. That's why I knew you would be the right trainer for my daughter. I know you'll take good care of her, and the rest of your team, both the ones you have and the ones you will get. Just…make sure to take care of yourself as well. I do not want Kiara to have to hurt the way I have."

"I will." Ash promised. He looked at the Fearow who had become his mentor. "I guess this is goodbye…for now. I'll bring Kiara back to visit, I promise."

"I know you will. Goodbye, and good luck."

As the group left Route 22, there was a chorus of "Goodbye," "Good luck!" and "Take care of her!" from the Spearow flock and the Mankey colony. Ash waved to them, thanking them and promising that he would take care of his team.

Their plan was to stop at the Pokémart to pick up enough supplies for a few days and head to Viridian Forest from there. But their plans were interrupted when just as they were about to enter the city; they spotted a girl, her red hair sticking straight up in the air like she had been shocked, struggling with a charred bike.

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