Essence

Ash has always wanted to be a pokemon master. When the time comes for him to pick out his first pokemon, he shocks Professor Oak with a peculiar request. One thing leads to another, and he ends up with a loyal Growlithe. How will this unique situation affect the boy's destiny?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11113835/1/Essence

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33. Kanto 10 Part 3

After a good night's rest, a couple of early morning training sessions, and a hearty breakfast, Ash stood out front of Skylar's hospital room, waiting for Nurse Joy's chansey, Lucky, to let him inside.

As Lucky opened the door, Ash couldn't help but feel somewhat nervous. This would be the first time since he saved Skylar that he would be able to talk to her.

At the front desk, Nurse Joy had let him know that Skylar had finally woken up. Apparently, she had regained consciousness about an hour before Ash arrived to see her. Nurse Joy warned him that she was still a bit addled, but she was responsive enough to hold a conversation.

When he walked through the doorway, he barely took a couple of steps before he was bombarded by an overjoyed Ellen. While she wrapped Ash up in an oppressively tight hug, he noticed that she was wearing the same elegant clothes as the day before, signifying that she had stayed at the Pokemon Center overnight.

"Ash!" exclaimed Ellen, strangling the ten-year-boy with affection. "My baby girl is finally awake!"

"C-can't b-breath," managed Ash as he desperately tried to get air.

This time, Ellen's embrace was on the same level as his mother's. He felt like his ribs were going to snap and his lungs were going to fold as she inadvertently tried to murder him with endearment.

"Mom," said a faint, young, female voice, catching Ash's fading attention, "let go of him. He's about to pass out."

Ellen immediately let go of Ash before throwing both of her hands in the air like she was about to get arrested.

"Oh, no, I've done it again!" cried the outlandish, blonde-haired woman, turning red from embarrassment. "Ash, I'm sorry!"

Ash gasped, drawing in as much air as he could in attempt to reestablish his breath.

"I-it's okay," stammered Ash. "There's no need to apologize. I-I'll be fine."

Once his breathing had gone back to normal, he surveyed his surroundings. Other than himself, the only two people in the room were Ellen and Skylar. Ellen was still standing as straight as a board with her hands in the air, whereas Skylar sat up in the Pokemon Center's inclined hospital bed, staring at her mother in an exasperated manner.

"What in the world are you doing, Mom?" queried Skylar with her hand on her forehead. "You're embarrassing me.

Ellen quickly dropped her hands to her side, realizing that she looked like a criminal. Subsequently, she turned her attention away from Ash and toward her daughter before oddly pressing a lone finger up against her lips.

"Don't tell your father about this!" blurted Ellen in a loud whisper.

"Don't tell me about what?" asked a smooth, male voice, coming from directly behind Ash.

He turned around to find Ruphus strolling through the doorway, carrying a large, plain, plastic bag. Ash was curious about its content until he smelt the unmistakable scent of breakfast food oozing out of it.

"Oh, nothing, honey!" shouted Ellen, waving her hands back and forth vigorously. "It's not like I squeezed Ash too hard again! I wouldn't do that, especially after you told me to try my best not to!"

Ash couldn't help but chuckle under his breath. Mrs. Worthington was quite possibly the worst liar he had ever met in his entire life. Even when she wanted to hide something, she was the type of person that came clean all on her own.

"A shoddy liar as always," retorted Ruphus with a smirk as he placed the bag of food on the hospital room's small counter. "I told you that knowing full well that you wouldn't be able to contain yourself. How long have we been married, Ellen…twenty-three years? At this point, I know you better than you know yourself."

"It'll be twenty-four next month," answered Ellen with a defeated sigh, "and I know. It was silly for me to think that I could keep a secret from you. After all these years, I've never been able to get away with lying to you. You always figure me out."

Ruphus let out a light chuckle.

"It's kind of hard not to," said Ruphus. "Never once have you failed to come clean on your own."

Although Ash had managed to stop laughing externally, he couldn't help but surge with internal laughter.

All of this over a hug.

With every minute that went by, the Worthingtons were beginning to remind him more and more of the Montgomery family. To say that they were entertaining would be an understatement.

"Can you two please stop?" queried Skylar.

Ash turned around to find Skylar's pretty face as red as Charmeleon's scales. It was obvious that her parents were embarrassing her, which was something that Ash completely understood.

His mother always had a knack for making him feel like he was about to die from humiliation. Between shamelessly demanding in public that he needed to change his underwear and calling him Ashy – which was the catalyst for the nickname Gary had given him, "Ashy-boy" – Ash had felt his fair share of parent induced awkwardness.

Needless to say, Skylar wasn't the only kid that had to endure moments like this. Ash had been in her shoes hundreds of times. He knew what it was like.

Speaking of his mother, he needed to give her a call soon. He had only spoken to her once while he was on the road, and he had yet to let her know that he had safely arrived in Celadon.

Maybe he'd call her after he met with Officer Jenny. After getting scolded for neglecting her for the first month of his journey, he had promised her that he would be better about giving her regular updates involving his whereabouts.

The last thing he wanted to do was let her down again—

Ash mentally jolted when he felt a hand grasp his shoulder. It was Ruphus.

"Good to see you again, Ash," said Ruphus, breaking him free of his rumination. "I wasn't expecting you to visit until a little bit later. If I would have known, I would have picked up breakfast earlier."

He gestured toward the bag of food on the counter before continuing, "I got plenty, so you're welcome to help yourself if you want. Cafeteria B's buffet table is top-notch, so I just picked up a bunch of stuff that looked good."

"Thanks," retorted Ash with a smile, "but I'm good for now. I just ate a little while ago."

"Very well," replied Ruphus as he walked over to the bag. "Well then, if you don't mind, my wife and I are going to have a quick bite to eat. I'm sure Skylar would like an opportunity to talk to you one-on-one."

He turned his attention to Ellen as he picked the food back up off of the counter, "Come on, sweetheart. Let's go eat in the lobby."

"But, I thought the whole point of you getting the food to go was so that we wouldn't have to leave Skylar alone," answered Mrs. Worthington with a puzzled expression.

"Plans have changed," said Ruphus, giving Ash a wink. "Ash is here now. He can look after her while we eat."

"Why can't we all jus—"

Unwilling to give his wife an opportunity to finish her sentence, Ruphus grabbed a hold of her wrist before dragging the confused Ellen out of the room.

Ash sighed. He had to admit, he would have rather had Ruphus and Ellen stay in the room with him. The only one-on-one time that he had spent with Skylar had been when he saved her, so he wasn't quite sure what they would talk about. Originally, he had visited her just to make sure that she was okay. Now that he had, and he knew that she was fine, Ash wasn't sure what to do. He hadn't thought that far ahead.

Should he ask her questions about what happened? Should he try and get to know her?

But, what if it was too soon for her to talk about what happened? Maybe she didn't want him to know anything about her? What if—

Ash disconnected himself from his current train of thought before focusing on what was going on around him. He was overthinking things. There was no need to contemplate what it is that they would talk about. The conversation would occur, and awkward or not, it would unfold the way that it was meant to unfold…

"Sorry about that," said Skylar, breaking the ice. "They can be a bit overwhelming sometimes.

"Don't worry about it," replied Ash, turning around and showing Skylar a light smile. "I like them a lot. They remind me of some really good friends of mine."

"Well, that's relieving," said Skylar, using her index finger to twirl the end of her long, blonde hair. "I never know how someone is going to react to my parents. They're a little too energetic for a lot of people, especially my mom."

"I get where you're coming from," said Ash, "but it doesn't bother me. Anyways, Nurse Joy told me you just woke up. How are you feeling?"

"I feel alright," retorted Skylar as a small smile formed on her face. "My mind is still a bit hazy, and my body's sore. But, I'll be fine."

"Good," answered Ash, "I'm glad that you're going to be alright. I was really worried when I found you."

"Was it that bad?" queried Skylar in a curious manner. "I remember bits and pieces, but at some point, I blacked out. Next thing I knew, you were standing over me."

She paused for a moment before frowning, "Sorry for being so difficult…I wasn't exactly thinking straight."

Ash's eyes widened with surprise. He wasn't expecting her to recollect what happened when he saved her.

"Don't worry about it," said Ash, looking Skylar in the eyes. "After what happened, it was completely understandable."

He scratched the back of his head and grinned, trying his best to come off as personable as possible, "Anyways, I'm surprised you remember something like that. I was under the impression that you wouldn't recognize me, let alone remember what happened."

"The attack is mostly a blur," retorted Skylar with an empty expression. "Like I said, I remember some minor details. But, for the most part, the only thing I can think of when I try to remember what happened is an overwhelming sense of helplessness. I was scared. I thought I was going to..."

She took a deep breath as a bright smile stretched across her face, "However, I could never forget the moment you saved me. I can picture it vividly in my head. It was like a dream. Just when I had lost all hope, you showed up."

Ash's cheeks turned red. When Skylar recounted things from her perspective, she made it sound like he was some sort of hero. But, from Ash's point of view, he had only done what any decent person would have done.

If anyone was a hero, it was Growlithe. He was the one that had sensed that something was wrong with his aromatic awareness. If it weren't for his starter…well, he didn't really want to think about what might have happened.

"I just did what I thought was right," said Ash matter-of-factly.

"Don't be modest," answered Skylar, tears forming in her eyes, "Ash, you saved my life. If you wouldn't have shown up when you did, I would have—"

A bloody image of Chance Chapman's dead body flashed within his head.

Death…he didn't want to talk about it.

"Don't say it," retorted Ash with earnest eyes. "Please, don't say it. The fact of the matter is, you're here. You're alive. There's no need to dwell on what might have happened. Trust me…nothing good will come out of it."

There was a moment of silence before she burst out into tears. It was as if every last drop of bottled up emotion was pouring out all at once.

"I-I was so scared!" cried Skylar, "I d-didn't know what was going to happen! It hurt! They wouldn't stop! I was so scared, Ash! So scared! I thought it was…I thought it was all ov—"

Without thinking, Ash reflexively grabbed her hand in order to comfort her.

"Shhhh…it's okay," said Ash. "You're safe now. There's nothing to worry about."

"B-but what if they come back?!" wailed Skylar, starting to panic. "What if—"

"They're not coming back, Skylar," reassured Ash. "I promise. They'll never hurt you again."

"How do you—"

"Because they've been caught," retorted Ash, attempting to calm her down. "After you told me about Eevee being stolen, I went after them. I beat them and handed them over to Officer Jenny. They're behind bars as we speak."

Skylar's breathing began to calm down. She was still in disarray, but it appeared as though what Ash had said was helping.

"D-do you promise?" questioned Skylar as she wiped the tears from her sky-blue eyes.

"Yes," said Ash with a small smile, "I promise. It's been all taken care of."

All of a sudden, her eyes brightened. It appeared as though something had just clicked in her head.

"Wait a second!" blurted Skylar. "Does that mean…does that mean you rescued Eevee?"

"Yup," said Ash, "I—"

Skylar didn't give Ash an opportunity to answer, pulling him closer to her before wrapping him up in a tight embrace.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you…"

Not knowing how to respond, Ash just let her hold him. He blushed as she tightly squeezed him, continuously repeating "thank you" like she was a broken record.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, she let go, allowing Ash to stand back up.

Despite the duration of the hug, it wasn't until Ash looked her in the eyes that she realized what she had done. Her face abruptly turned red as she looked away from him in embarrassment.

"I-I'm sorry about that," stammered Skylar. "I don't know what came over me. I was just so happy that you saved Eevee that—"

"You don't need to apologize," said Ash with a wink, trying to lighten the mood. "I guess it just runs in the family."

"Stop it!" blurted Skylar in between laughter. "That's my worst nightmare!"

Ash couldn't help but laugh; Skylar's reaction was priceless. At the same time, he was curious as to why Skylar ran away from home. Even though her parents embarrassed her, she didn't seem to dislike them. Something didn't quite add up about the story Officer Jenny had told him.

Mr. and Mrs. Worthington didn't come off as being over controlling to him. There had to more to it. He had a tough time believing that she ran away just because her parents were overbearing.

Ash waited for Skylar to stop laughing as he worked up the courage to ask her the question that he was so anxious to hear the answer to.

"Hey, Skylar, can I ask you something?" said Ash, catching her attention.

She looked at him with intrigued eyes as she habitually twirled her hair.

"What is it?"

"Why'd you run away?"

Skylar's shoulders dropped, and her facial expression went from happy to disconcerted in the blink of an eye. Ash wasn't sure, but it looked as if she was ashamed. Maybe, she didn't want to talk about it.

"I'm sorry," said Ash. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to. I was just cur—"

"It's okay," interjected Skylar. "You saved my life. It's only right that you know what happened."

Ash nodded his head, waiting for her to initiate whatever it was that she was about to tell him.

"I ran away from home because of Eevee," stated Skylar, causing Ash's curiosity to heighten.

"Huh?" questioned Ash. "What do you mean?"

She paused for a second as she came up with an answer.

"Ash…" drawled Skylar, resting her head on her pillow, "before I continue, I need to know, how much do you already know about Eevee?"

"Not too much," retorted Ash. "I know that Eevee belongs to your father, and Officer Jenny told me that Eevee is the offspring of your family's two most prized eevee. Err…that's pretty much it."

Right before Skylar was about to respond, he interrupted as another piece of information crossed his mind, "Oh, wait, and I know that Eevee is a girl. Your dad mentioned that when I gave Eevee's pokeball back to him."

"Gotcha'," answered Skylar. "So, going off of what you've told me, I'm assuming that you haven't actually met Eevee, right?"

"Right," answered Ash. "I didn't want to scare her, so I didn't release her at all before I gave the pokeball to your dad. I was hoping that he would introduce me to her after I handed her pokeball over to him, but he didn't."

"That doesn't surprise me," said Skylar with a sigh. "My dad probably didn't introduce you to Eevee because he didn't want you to get the wrong idea. First impressions are a big deal to him, so it makes sense that he wouldn't release Eevee around you."

A bewildered expression breached Ash's countenance.

"I don't understand. You make it sound like your dad's ashamed of Eevee."

"Well, I wouldn't say that he is ashamed of her," said Skylar. "However, you're not far off. If I were to describe their relationship in one word it would be 'dysfunctional'. They simply don't get along."

"Why?" questioned Ash. "I don't know your dad too well, but even I can tell that he is a good guy. I can't see him being a bad trainer."

"Oh, my dad is a phenomenal trainer," answered Skylar, "and an even better person. It has nothing to do with his character or ability."

"Then what is it?" asked Ash.

"They're just not compatible," said Skylar, looking Ash in the eyes. "Have you ever heard of a pokemon coordinator?"

Ash nodded his head as an image of Wallace permeated his thoughts.

"Yeah," replied Ash, "I have a really good friend that's a coordinator. What about it?"

"Given what you've told me, I think it's safe to say that you are fully aware that my family makes a living off of eevee breeding, right?"

"Yeah," said Ash, "Officer Jenny told me."

"Did she tell you that my dad is also a world class pokemon coordinator?" asked Skylar with a hint of pride in her voice.

"Nope," said Ash, letting out a light chuckle, "she definitely failed to mention that."

"It's to be expected," said Skylar. "It's been a while since he has competed, but there was a time when he won the Kanto Grand Festival three years in a row and was widely recognized as the number one coordinator in all of Kanto."

Ash had to admit, he was surprised. Winning a Grand Festival was just as big of an accomplishment as winning a League tournament. For Ruphus to have done that three years in a row meant that he was more than just a good trainer. He was elite…maybe even a master.

"Three times in a row…" retorted Ash with a look of astonishment. "Are you kidding? That's beyond impressive. What kind of problem could Eevee have with a trainer like that?"

"There are actually two major issues that Eevee has with my dad," said Skylar with a frown.

She paused as she disembogued another deep sigh, "The first reason is that my dad doesn't take training seriously anymore. The majority of his pokemon are already ridiculously powerful, so it doesn't take that much effort to keep them in shape. For the most part, his pokemon handle their training on their own."

"However, he can't do that with the young eevee kits that he breeds. My dad doesn't have the time or patience to give them the kind of attention they need. Normally, it doesn't matter. Being a famous breeder, my dad's eevee typically sell for a large sum of money while they are still eggs or immediately after they hatch…"

Ash listened attentively, trying his best to comprehend everything that Skylar was telling him.

"But, the Eevee you saved is special. My dad couldn't sell her."

"Why not?" asked Ash, interrupting. "Doesn't she have incredible genes or something like that? I feel like she would sell in a heartbeat."

"Your misunderstanding," retorted Skylar. "It's not that nobody would buy her. My dad didn't sell Eevee because he couldn't bring himself to do it. She's that extraordinary of a specimen."

"Yeah, like I said, Officer Jenny told me about that," said Ash.

"Mhmm...But, it goes beyond the fact that she's the daughter of my dad's two most treasured eevee," said Skylar with a nod. "That's just the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot more to her than that."

"…Like?" questioned Ash with intrigued eyes.

"You'll see when you meet her," said Skylar with a wink. "Until then, it'll be better if it stays a surprise."

"Well, when am I going to meet her?" asked Ash.

"Whenever my parents get back," said Skylar, with a grin. "Now that you two have gotten a chance to get to know each other, my dad shouldn't have a problem introducing you to Eevee."

"Are you sure?" asked Ash. "I don't want to make him feel uncomfortable if I don't have to."

"It won't be a big deal," said Skylar, waving him off. "Anyways, the point that I was originally trying to make is that Eevee holds a grudge against my father because he has never been able to give her the kind of attention she needs. Her potential is through the roof, but my father doesn't have the time to help her realize it."

She paused, "It's actually kind of sad."

"Yeah, it is," said Ash with a frown. "I can see why Eevee's upset. She wants your dad to train her like he trained his other powerful pokemon."

He paused, "but at the same time, I can understand where your dad is coming from. He has a lot of other responsibilities, and Eevee wants more from him than he's willing to give at this point in his life."

"Exactly," said Skylar. "Neither is wrong, yet neither of them in necessarily right."

"I can see how that would be frustrating for both of them," said Ash as a thought jumped out at him.

He scratched the back of his head while asking a question, "What does all of that have to do with your dad being a pokemon coordinator, though?"

"Well," answered Skylar with a frown, "the fact that my dad is a pokemon coordinator is the other reason why Eevee and my dad don't get along."

"Why is that?" asked Ash.

"Once you meet Eevee, it's pretty self-explanatory," said Skylar with a bit of amusement in her voice, "but since she's not here, I guess I'll just explain."

She let out a sigh while simultaneously readjusting her pillow, "Unlike the rest of my dad's pokemon, Eevee has an uncanny thirst for battle."

"Don't pokemon contests involve battling, though?" asked Ash.

"They do," retorted Skylar with a nod. "Pokemon contests have a battle round."

"Then what's the problem?"

"Pokemon contest battles are a lot different than traditional battles," explained Skylar. "They're less about flat-out defeating your opponent and more about showing off your pokemon's style and skill."

She paused, making sure Ash was following what she was saying.

"Despite the fact that Eevee is an absolutely gorgeous specimen, her personality doesn't match-up well with a coordinator. She's a complete firecracker that couldn't care less about things like style and appeal."

"When Eevee battles, she wants to dismantle her opponent. Her battle style's tenacious, and she has a vigorous spirit. Simply put, she's not cut-out to compete in contests. And, even though my dad is a skilled trainer, he's not cut-out to deal with a pokemon like Eevee. She needs a trainer that desires battle just as much as her. She needs a traditional trainer…not a coordinator."

"I see…" drawled Ash, "so that's why you ran away with Eevee. You think you can be the trainer that Eevee needs."

"Unfortunately," said Skylar, lowering her eyebrows "you're wrong. I may have ran away with Eevee, for Eevee's sake, but it's not because I think I could do a better job training her than my dad."

She shook her head, "Just like my dad, my dream is to become a world renowned pokemon coordinator someday. Although Eevee and I get along, I'm afraid that we would eventually prove to be incompatible as well."

"But, Officer Jenny said that you wanted to make Eevee your starter," replied Ash.

"Officer Jenny must have misunderstood," said Skylar. "My parents probably did as well. I've never had any intention to make Eevee my starter."

"Then, why?" asked Ash, confused. "Why did you run away with Eevee? I don't get it."

"I was looking for a suitable trainer," retorted Skylar matter-of-factly.

"Oh…" murmured Ash.

He froze for a second, "although I don't quite understand why you had to leave Celadon for something like that?"

"Believe me," said Skylar, "I tried looking for someone in Celadon, but I couldn't find anyone. I mean, I came across plenty of powerful trainers, however, none of them seemed like the right choice."

"What do you mean?" queried Ash. "I thought all you cared about was whether or not they were a traditional trainer and had a strong thirst for battle?"

"Come on, Ash," replied Skylar. "It's not like I would just hand Eevee over to anyone. It would have to be someone that I trust."

"Fair enough," said Ash. "Just thought I'd ask."

She shook her head before continuing, "Anyways, I'm glad I was picky because I got pretty close to giving Eevee away to this guy named Petrel when—"

"Wait a second!" interrupted Ash. "You were going to give Eevee to Exe—I mean the manager of the Game Corner!"

Skylar's eyes widened the second Ash mentioned the Game Corner.

"Petrel works for the Game Corner?" questioned Skylar with a look of disgust. "No wonder Eevee hated him."

"Hold on," said Ash, trying his best to calm down. "How did you meet Petrel?"

"Err…let's see," said Skylar, "I believe I was over by the Department Store when I saw him battling against a couple of strong looking trainers. Even though the trainers he was up against were clearly experienced, his hypno wiped the floor with them in a matter of seconds. I'd never seen anything quite like it."

She paused, "After the battle was over, I introduced myself to Petrel. He seemed like a decent guy, so I asked him if he would be interested in training Eevee. He agreed, and I released Eevee."

"And?" questioned Ash.

"Well, let's just say Eevee really didn't like him," said Skylar. "I mean, Eevee's not always the friendliest pokemon. But, the moment I released her, she was on edge. It was bizarre. I thought she was going to attack him."

Ash gulped. Petrel must have given off a nasty vibe to garner that kind of reaction.

"As soon as I saw the way Eevee acted around him," continued Skylar, "I immediately changed my mind."

"How did he respond?" asked Ash .

"Well, he wasn't very happy," said Skylar. "As soon as he saw Eevee, I could tell that he was fixated on the idea of training her. However, he didn't seem too mad. Then again, we were in public, so it's not like he would have done anything outrageous."

Ash had to admit, Skylar did have a point. From what he had heard about Petrel, he knew that he was smart enough to suppress an emotional outburst. It was more likely that someone like Petrel would wait for a more opportunistic time to take Eevee rather than do something to garner unwanted attention.

"You have a good point," said Ash.

"How do you know Petrel?" asked Skylar, cocking her head curiously.

"I don't know him personally," replied Ash. "I've just heard some bad things about him."

"Like?"

"Just some strange stuff about how he runs the Game Corner," lied Ash. "Nothing too big; he just sounds like a shady guy."

"Oh, I see..." drawled Skylar. "I'm glad I didn't give Eevee to him then."

"I'm glad you didn't either," said Ash, thinking about his battle against the three Rocket grunts.

It was apparent that Petrel sent his men after Skylar as soon as she left Celadon. He probably waited until Skylar was isolated to make his move. That way, there wouldn't be any witnesses. It was a smart plan. If Ash hadn't been there, he likely would have gotten away with it too. Luckily, he was at the right place at the right time.

"Anyways," said Ash, trying to change the subject, "What are you going to do after you get released from the Pokemon Center? You're not going to run away again, are you?"

"I wasn't planning on it," said Skylar, shaking her head. "I learned my lesson. Besides, there's no need for me to leave again. At least, until I go on my own proper journey."

"What do you mean?" asked Ash. "What about Eevee?"

"Well, I've got one last idea about what to do with Eevee," retorted Skylar with a shrug. "If it doesn't work out, I'm afraid things are just going to have to stay how they are."

"What's your idea?"

Skylar smirked as she looked Ash in the eyes.

Ash looked at Skylar with an astonished expression while using his index finger to point at himself.

"M-me," stammered Ash, "but why?"

"Isn't that obvious," said Skylar with a smile. "You saved my life, and you were strong enough to get Eevee back from those thugs. If anyone can draw out her potential it's you."

She paused, "Besides, right before you arrived, my parents were debating a way to repay you for what you did. I can't think of a better reward."

"That would be unbelievable," replied Ash, trying his best not to get his hopes up, "but what makes you think that your dad would go for it? Isn't it his decision to make?"

"I know that…" groaned Skylar with a frown, "that's why I said, if it doesn't work out things will have to stay the way they are."

She let out a sigh as she pointed at Ash's waist, "If it were up to me, Eevee's pokeball would already be attached to your belt."

"I'm flattered that you think I'm capable of training Eevee," said Ash, "but I don't think that I can ask that of your dad. Eevee's his. He chose not to sell her, so it's obvious to me that she holds a special place in his heart."

He paused as he thought about his next words carefully, "I can see why you tried to find a suitable trainer for Eevee, but that doesn't mean it was the right thing to do. Regardless of whether or not they get along, Eevee is your dad's partner. I couldn't possibly ask to come between the two of them."

Skylar looked at him with a blank expression.

"Fine," said Skylar.

"So, you see where I'm coming from?" asked Ash. "As much as I would have loved to train Eevee, it just isn't righ—"

"Then, I'll ask him," interjected Skylar with another smirk.

Ash blinked.

"That's not the point!" shouted Ash, causing Skylar to burst out into laughter.

"Relax, Ash," said Skylar in between laughter. "What's the worst thing that could happen? Even if the request came from you, it's not like he would be offended."

"You may be right," retorted Ash, "but—"

"Besides…" said Skylar, interrupting Ash once again "I have a feeling my dad's going to say—"

"Yes!" exclaimed a voice, coming directly behind Ash.

Ash didn't even have to turn around to know that the voice belonged to Ruphus.

"My answer is yes," said Ruphus as Ash turned around to face him and Ellen, who were standing just inside of the hospital room's doorway.

"Huh?" questioned Ash with an incredulous look on his face. "What do you mean, yes? I-I can train your eevee?"

"Well," retorted Ruphus, "depending on whether or not Eevee is okay with it, yes, you may train my eevee. Although, at that point, she would no longer be mine but yours."

"But, why?" asked Ash, stunned.

"Didn't we tell you that we would find a proper way to repay you for what you have done for this family?" inserted Ellen as she walked over to Ash and crouched down to his level.

"Trust me," added Ruphus, gesturing toward Ellen, "neither my wife nor I are happy that Skylar took things into her own hands. But, like you, we can understand why she did what she did. My relationship with Eevee is a complicated one—filled with a lot of pain and disappointment. Even though I don't think that it is beyond repair, it would be better for her to be with a young trainer that can help her realize her dreams."

He paused as a frown crept across his face, "Unfortunately, I cannot be what she needs. Fifteen years ago, I could have, but not now. I've already sailed way past my prime. She needs someone like you: someone who's just getting started, someone whose drive and potential rival her own."

Ash looked back at Skylar who flashed him a sparkling grin in return. He smiled as he watched her mouth the words "I told you" without using her voice.

"Ash," said Ruphus, taking back the dark-haired boy's attention as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a shrunken pokeball.

The head of the Worthington family enlarged Eevee's pokeball before continuing, "Would you like to meet her?"

Ash took a moment to respond, having been caught in the marvel of the moment.

After taking a couple of seconds to process what was going on, he nodded.

Ruphus smiled as he pressed the release button, unleashing a radiance of white light. It lasted for a brief moment before fading away, leaving a small kit in its stead.

Ash's jaw dropped when he saw the specimen.

No wonder Ruphus couldn't find it in his heart to sell her.

No wonder Skylar pushed the fact that there was more to Eevee than just her lineage.

No wonder Petrel wanted her so bad.

…Her burnished, silver coat was absolutely stunning.

XXX

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