Pokemon – “Old Friends, Long Gone…”

Lavender Town, The Noble Purple Town. Situated on the road between Rock Tunnel and Saffron City, it is a place of quite reflection and gentle sadness. On this morning, even as the sun comes up slowly above the mountains, Lavender Town is as sleepy as ever. Very few people venture out at this time of the morning, and aside from the playful antics of two young boys who hoped to be Pokemon Trainers when they turned ten years old, all of the town is bathed in early morning silence.

“Pikachu, I choose you!”, shouts one of the two boys, tossing a Pokeball shaped ball to his friend.

His friend catches the ball, then drops onto his knees and imitates the famous Pokemon itself, with high pitched cries of, “Pi! Pikachu!”

Laughing, the two boys reverse roles, the former ‘Pikachu’ now throwing the ball and calling for a Bulbasaur. Their game is interrupted by the sound of a squeaking door before the “Pokemon” could sound his battle cry. Both boys stop their game and turn, looking for the source of the sound.

The old man who runs the volunteer Pokemon House is standing half in, half out of his door, speaking quietly to someone inside. Smiling in a way that can only be described as sadly, he steps back from the door and closes it, not bothering to lock it behind him. In a quiet town like Lavender, especially with Team Rocket nearly 70 years disbanded, there is no crime. Most of the newer houses these days aren’t even built with locks. They can be added later, of course, but almost no one bothers with it now.

The old man runs a grizzled hand through his grey/white hair and looks up toward the rising sun as it makes it’s way behind Pokemon Tower, the town’s landmark. The smile slips for a moment as his old eyes focus on the tower, then, with a deep breath he pulls a battered Official Pokemon League hat from the back pocket of his pants, and puts it on his head.

Moving with the slow strides of a person who has seen and done many things in his life, the man makes his way to Pokemon Tower, passing the two young boys who politely clear the way for him.

“Who’s that?”, the former “Pikachu” asks his friend in hushed tones. Something about the man’s solemn demeanor makes it impossible for them to continue their game until long after he has passed them by.

“You know who he is,” the other boy answers, but there’s a tone of awe in his voice. “He was the first World Champion a long time ago… You know, the guy who won every single Pokemon League Championship in all the Regions, and then beat the Elite Four in those incredible matches they show on the Pokemon Channel all the time?”

The first boy’s mouth drops open, a similar note of awe in his voice now as he whispers, “You mean… Ash Ketchum runs the Pokemon House now? But… what about his champion teams? The Pikachu, and Charizard, and… and…” He trails off as they see Mr. Ketchum in the distance… disappearing into the Pokemon Tower. Pokemon Tower, the landmark of Lavender Town… The most massive Pokemon cemetery in Kanto. “Oh…”

“Good morning, Mr. Ketchum,” the secretary behind the entry desk says politely. He used to come every day, but recently as his duties at the Pokemon House have become more all encompassing, he’s had to cut his visits to once a week. Still, whenever he is able to come, he is always more than welcome. The World Champion himself… there have only been four others since his incredible series of victories as a young man, so he is more than entitled to keep his hard earned title, as far as she and any of the Pokemon loving world are concerned.

“Good morning, Allison,” he responded, giving her the small smile she had come to associate with him. Nothing more needed to pass between them. She knows why he’s here as well as he does.

Ash Ketchum climbs the stairs slowly, making his way to a large private room near the top of Pokemon Tower. He opens the door carefully, as if it making a sound might disturb the beloved spirits resting within. Shutting the door behind himself, he finds himself in a room that has become increasingly familiar over the last 20 years. The tombstones, some carved into likenesses of the Pokemon who’s ashes were contained in the tiny urns they protected, gaze at Ash as if the stones themselves are happy to see their old friend.

He moves carefully among the stones, his old, wrinkled hands carefully stroking the heads of his beloved friends’ likenesses. Remembering what their small warm bodies had once felt like, Ash was overcome with memories.

He kneels in front of a carved likeness of Butterfree, the first Pokemon he both caught, and lost. There was no urn in the nook of this gravestone, but Ash knows full well that there is no chance Butterfree has escaped the fate of old age that has taken so many of his friends from him over the years. Placing his hand on the carved Butterfree’s head, he closes his eyes and remembers…

A little Caterpie crawled along his arm happily. It tried to befriend Misty, only to be rebuked by her hatred of bugs. Ash didn’t care. Caterpie was fast friends with Pikachu, and the two spent an entire night just talking. Pikachu would later tell Ash that Caterpie had always dreamed of flying…

Metapod, evolved from Caterpie only the second day Ash had the Pokemon. He was so happy when it evolved that he could hardly believe it had happened. Little did he know that it was just the first of many evolutions he would see in his time as a trainer.

Butterfree… Beautiful, loyal Butterfree. Ash couldn’t even begin to count the number of battles in which Butterfree had come through for him. His stun spore, sleep powder, and other attacks had saved Ash’s life in battle more than once. He’d done the right thing by releasing his friend to go mate with that Pink Butterfree. It had still hurt horribly to say goodbye… And it was the first of many, many goodbyes in his life…

Ash blinks slowly, coming back to himself. He gazes again at the Butterfree statue. He’d put off having this stone added to the group in here, as part of him couldn’t quite fathom the fact that Butterfree had to be dead by now. But after more than 60 years, with a Butterfree’s 30 year average life span, he had to accept the inevitable. Butterfree was gone… just like everyone else.

Placing his hand on his knee, Ash pushes himself up slowly. He moves only enough to sit in front of the next tombstone. Pidgeot… Oh, Pidgeot…

Okay, so battling a Pidgeotto with a Caterpie wasn’t the smartest thing he could’ve done. But it got Caterpie some experience, and Pikachu came through in the end. That was a legal capture, and there was NOTHING Misty could say about it. Oh, how he’d gloated that day…

Oh, the Gym Battles Pidgeotto won, or helped win. Ash couldn’t even recall them all… So many times the loyal bird had helped them search for lost friends through dense forest, or flown cover. Not to mention how many times Pidgeotto had defeated Team Rocket…

It always came through for him. When the Veridian Forest Pidgey and Pidgeotto flock had been under attack by the Spearows and Fearows, it came through again. Only that time, it came through via evolution.

Pidgeot was a powerful and fast flyer, easily strong enough to carry Ash on it’s back. Unhesitantly, he had followed it into battle with the wild Fearow and Spearows. Together, they had won… But Ash knew the flock wouldn’t last long without a Pidgeot to protect them… So he’d made the decision to leave Pidgeot there, trusting it to their care.

Years later, it had returned to Oak’s Lab, too old to protect the flock anymore, but that was okay, because all the young Pidgey it had helped raise were now Pidgeots in their own rights, and perfectly capable of everything it could do. Oak had contacted Ash, letting him know that his Pidgeot had come home. He had been out training, but had returned to Pallet Town as quickly as possible once he received the news.

A few too short years later, Ash sat at Pidgeot’s bedside, it’s feathered head cradled in his lap, as age slowly overcame the once powerful Pokemon. It’s plumage had dimmed in color over the years, but in his mind it was still as beautiful as ever. He whispered to it softly, reminding it of all the times they’d battled together. He laid a soft kiss on the bird Pokemon’s head, and held it close as the last shuddering breath left it’s content body. Together to the end… He and Pikachu had cried together for what felt like days after the funeral…

Ash breathes in slowly, finding himself hugging the small urn to his chest, much the way he’d cradled Pidgeot’s head the night it had died. Carefully, he puts the urn back in it’s place, as he gazes into the eyes of it’s statuesque counterpart. “Thank you, Pidgeot,” he whispers softly, running a hand down the stone replica of the Pokemon’s beautiful head crest. He could still feel the soft feathers…

Swallowing back tears, Ash moves on. He hasn’t paid his respects to half of his friends in this place yet, and he’s already been here for quite a while. So he moves the four steps to a Bayleef statue, with yet another small urn in the nook embedded in it’s base. He runs a hand over the Bayleef’s head, smiling through his watery eyes. He never could help thinking of Chikorita, and then Bayleef, as a female… “Hey, girl,” he whispers softly to the urn, one hand on it as the other hand strokes the leaf atop the Bayleef statue’s head. “I’m back…”

Jealousy is a funny thing’, Ash couldn’t help but think as he watched Chikorita shove Pikachu out of the way, in order to be closer to Ash. ‘The way she behaves, you’d think Pikachu was my girlfriend or something…’ They’d laughed about that quite a lot, actually, over the years. Especially since, even after evolving, Bayleef hadn’t ever lost it’s crush on Ash.

The race… ah, the race. He’d never forget how Bayleef came through for him that day. She did things for him that he couldn’t even imagine… It had been a hard decision to leave her with the others at Professor Oak’s when he left for Hoenn that first time… Even knowing she was at his beck and call…

She never did evolve into a Meganium. Ash couldn’t help but wonder what it was about him that attracted Pokemon that didn’t wish to evolve. Whatever it was, though, it had given him many loyal friends over the years…

Cyndaquil and Totodile… It was almost impossible for him to think of Bayleef without recalling the fire and water Pokemon that he often found himself thinking of as brothers. Totodile, with it’s irrepressible dancing and happy personality. Cyndaquil with it’s reluctant flames changing over time into a Flamethrower to rival it’s top evolution (which it never reached), Typhlosion. Totodile too, chose never to evolve, remaining it’s adorable little self through the entirety of it’s life… And when their time came, Bayleef, Cyndaquil, and Totodile had all died within a month of each other. Each in Ash’s arms, with his whispers of love to guide them to wherever it was that Pokemon’s spirits went when they left this world.

Swallowing, Ash stands slowly to his feet from the spot he had knelt amid the statues of his Johto friends. Noctowl and Donphan were there as well. More old friends to be remembered. Swallowing, Ash turned back toward the Kanto side of the large room. He had requested that the memorial room be divided into regions, so that his beloved teams would be able to stay together, even after their deaths. Smiling that sad smile again, he kneels in front of the joint statue of Squirtle and Bulbasaur. Resting a hand on each of their statuesque heads, he knelt once more. “Hey, guys…”

Squirtle had been such a troublemaker… And Bulbasaur a hero. Squirtle, leader of the Squirtle Squad… the once feared gang turned fire-fighting heroes. And Bulbasaur, protector of the Hidden Village. To this day, he had not disclosed it’s location to anyone.

He couldn’t count the number of times Squirtle’s Water Gun or Bulbasaur’s Vine Whip had saved his life, and the lives of his friends and Pokemon. No matter what he needed them to do, or how impossible it seemed to be, his Pokemon always came through for him. Squirtle and Bulbasaur…

He’d missed Squirtle for quite some time after the little Pokemon had decided to return to lead the Squirtle Squad in it’s fire-fighting efforts. Yes, they needed him, but Squirtle had been with Ash so long at that point that he found it hard to imagine battling without that Pokeball on his belt.

Much like Pidgeot, Squirtle had returned to Oak’s Lab near the end of it’s life, to live out the rest of it’s days in quiet retirement with Bulbasaur and Ash’s other Pokemon that were staying at the Lab.

Bulbasaur, having decided never to evolve at the Mysterious Garden gathering, had continued to be a loyal member of Ash’s team for many years. It spent time off and on at Oak’s Lab, as most of Ash’s Pokemon (excluding Pikachu) did. Always the peacemaker and protector, they soon discovered it’s talents for keeping peace between the feuding Pokemon staying at the Lab. After which it agreed to remain behind, taking on the duties of a Pokemon Diplomat for the rest of it’s life, barring a few ‘out of retirement’ battles for Ash whenever he had need of it.

Bulbasaur, unlike Squirtle, had also eventually found a mate at Oak’s Lab, when May’s cute little Bulbasaur had begun to stay there. Several generations of Pokemon Eggs came from this relationship, and Ash knew full well that multiple Bulbasaur starters that had been given out by Professor Oak and his Aides to beginning Pokemon Trainers were direct descendents of his and May’s Bulbasaur’s.

Squirtle and Bulbasaur had outlived all but two of Ash’s Kanto Pokemon, but eventually, their time came as well. Ash made it a point to be there with them when it was time for them to leave this world, reminding them of times and battles past, and sending his love along with them into the next world.

No matter how many times he lost Pokemon, it never became any easier.

True, he thinks to himself as he stands up once again and makes his way over to the Hoenn side of the room. There are still more friends to remember before he can go.

Corphish, Swellow, Galie, Aipom, Septile… He still misses them… Septile, caught as a Treeko… and a feisty one at that. Always quite a loner, but never a shirker in battle. He remembers teaching it Bullet Seed, and how it learned Leaf Blade when it evolved into Grovyle. The battle with Loudred/Exploud had been one for the record books…

When it evolved again, into Septile, in order to defend the Meganium on which it had a bit of a crush, it somehow forgot how to use all of it’s attacks for a short time. Upon regaining the ability (or memory, depending on how you looked at it), however, it’s attacks were stronger than ever… It’s death many years later was much more peaceful than it’s life, lying in Ash’s arms as it surrendered it’s spirit to the forest from which it came…

Corphish, always so confident in it’s own abilities… always a bit jealous of the other Pokemon on the team. But always able to be counted on, and able to hold it’s own… Ash had been holding it when it died… the only one of his Pokemon ever to die in battle.

Galie… No one really knows what happens to an Ice Pokemon when it dies, but it’s powerful heart, ever since evolving from Snorunt, seemed to indicate that there was something far beyond simply melting away.

Aipom… Ash had finally given the playful Pokemon his second League hat. It had aided him in many battles, his second full Fighting Type, after finally being caught. It’s speed and agility were amazing… as was it’s love for it’s trainer. When it had died, once again of old age, Ash had made sure it was cremated WITH the hat it loved so much in life…

Swellow… Sweet, powerful Swellow. He remembered when it was just a Taillow… He remembered the trouble they went through for it to learn Aerial Ace. The training that he and the Move Tutor had to work together to devise, the obstacle course that Swellow had to successfully run in order to get the move down. The incredible feeling of working together when Swellow came out of flight mode on Ash’s command and changed into attack mode… The power when Swellow won the Fortree City Gym Battle, basically all on it’s own. The second Bird Pokemon Ash had to die, Swellow’s life ended as peacefully as Pidgeot’s had, and it’s goodbye was handled with just as much love…

Ash stands up slowly, and makes his way to the one monument larger than all the others. A magnificent tribute that takes up most of the center of the room. This Pokemon’s memorial isn’t in one of the Region Groups… this Pokemon was with Ash through all the Regions… From the very beginning. His first Pokemon…

“Pikachu… Hi, buddy…”

Swallowing, he approaches the statue and rests his palms against the cool stone of it’s belly. So unlike the soft fur Pikachu was covered in. So cold, hard… dead. He gazes up into the perfect rendition of the Electric Mouse’s face, and swallows. The pain doesn’t seem to lessen at all, no matter how long it’s been. Nearly ten years now, and it still hurts as if it was that very morning…

Oh, he’s the cutest one of all!” That had been a shock… literally. Pikachu hadn’t liked him at the beginning of their relationship, and had no problems showing just how much with a random shock or two. Not to mention that the Pokemon simply refused to stay in a Pokeball…

It hadn’t taken long, however. Ash’s devotion and love brought Pikachu around within the first day they knew each other. From that point on, the two were literally inseparable. Even to the point of Pikachu making a habit of riding atop Ash’s head or backpack. The traveling companions won more battles than Ash could even begin to count. They made friends, and lost them… They were together through the deaths of all the other Pokemon on Ash’s various teams, and together beyond…

Oh, the Gym Battles… The number of times they sent Team Rocket blasting off with a well placed Thunderbolt… The friends, old and new, that they had said goodbye to.. The love… It was always about love.

Pikachu had slept in his bed with him every night he had a bed to sleep in. When they camped, Pikachu had his own sleeping bag, but he was always right up against Ash’s. Pikachu was the only Pokemon besides Bayleef that Ash couldn’t help ascribing a gender to… Pikachu was a ‘he’, and of that he was certain. Of course, however, after being together for 62 years, with Pikachu far outliving any expectations of an Electric Rodent’s lifespan, it would be the habit of sleeping together that would be with them in the end.

Pikachu,” the soft voice had whispered from next to Ash’s head, a grey/yellow paw gently tugging on his trainer’s graying hair. Ash woke up immediately to see Pikachu lying on his side, his head on Ash’s pillow, looking his trainer in the face. His eyes were dimmed with age, but still as shiny as they had ever been. His little nose however, was quite dry. “Pi chu,” he said in a soft whisper. The translation was clear: “It’s time…”

Ash swallowed. Professor Oak had warned him that this day would come. Pikachu was at such a high level that it had outlived any previous member of his species, but age WOULD eventually catch up with him. And when it did, Pikachu would know it was coming.

Ash lifted a hand and slowly began to pet his old friend, the electricity sacs on his cheeks sparked a little as Ash petted him, the final discharge of electricity beginning.

Don’t leave me, Pikachu,” he whispered to his friend, even though they both knew there was no way Pikachu could do anything about what was happening to him. The trainer leaned his head forward to touch his forehead to Pikachu’s soft, warm fur. But the warmth was fading slowly.

Pika pi… Pikachu… chu…”, his Pokemon whispered back. ‘I love you… It’ll be okay… Ash…’ Pikachu’s paw slowly slipped from Ash’s face, and with the last bit of strength, he leaned forward and gave his loving trainer, his partner, his best friend, a small lick on the nose. “Pika pi chu…”, he whispered, bright brown and black eyes closing finally. ‘I love you…’ And he was gone.

Ash lay there for the longest time, still petting the body of his friend, though he could feel that Pikachu’s spirit was gone. The body was growing cold, and had long since stopped breathing. “Pikachu?”, Ash whispered softly, hoping against hope that this was a nightmare. But there was no answer. There never would be again.

The funeral was small and not publicized, as Ash wanted it that way. But around the world, thousands of people who had known Pikachu held memorial services. Candles burned not only in Lavender Town, but at Mount Pyre in Hoenn, and in the Tin Tower in Johto. Gyms around the world closed their doors for a day in respect of the one Pokemon who had beaten them all at one time or another. All Pokemon Centers kept their League Flags at half mast for nearly six months.

Pikachu’s funeral stone was commissioned, to be the largest tombstone in Lavender Town. With all the battles and championships Ash had won over the years, he was never at a shortage for money. It was shortly after the funeral, with only Misty, Brock, May, Max, Richie, Gary, and a few other close friends in attendance that Ash announced that he would be taking over the Volunteer Pokemon House in Lavender Town. No one questioned his decision. Without Pikachu, he wouldn’t travel anymore. He wouldn’t battle. And with that post, he would be able to stay close to his Pokemon for the rest of his life, as they had stayed close to him through theirs.

Coming back to himself, Ash finds that he is crying. Wracking sobs were shaking his old body as he kneels there, arms around Pikachu’s stone statue. Not the large memorial, but the smaller one in front of it. The life size one, that actually holds Pikachu’s ashes within it’s body, rather than a separate urn. Lost in memories, Ash is unaware of everything around him, until a soft grunting sound from the window at the back of the room catches his attention.

He raises bleary eyes to see an indistinct large shape standing on the balcony outside the window. It was supposed to be a landing platform for visitors who wished to view the shrine of these Pokemon, but no one was supposed to be allowed on it when Ash was in the room.

He rubs his eyes hard and shakes his head, trying his best to clear his vision… and when it does clear, he smiles slowly.

Reptilian Pokemon, you see, especially those with Dragon characteristics, live much longer than any other type of Pokemon. Some even living centuries, far longer than their trainers. Sitting on the balcony, peering inside the glass window and doors, is the only old friend Ash had left: Charizard.

“Chari… Zard, char,” the dragon-like Pokemon says softly. It takes a lot for him to come up here. His memories are as detailed as his trainer’s, and he misses almost every Pokemon entombed in this room as well. But his message is clear. ‘Come see this, Ash..’

Ash gives one last look at Pikachu’s urn, before standing up and making his way through the stones, touching each one as he passes. He opens the door and steps out onto the balcony with Charizard, and reaches up to scratch his friend’s neck. “What is it, Charizard?”

“Zard, Charizard. Zard char,” the fire-type says through a deep purr at his trainer’s touch. He lowers his head… and something small and yellow hops down onto the balcony.

“Pichu!”, the little mouse-like Pokemon says, blinking up at Ash. A piece of it’s egg shell is still stuck to the top of it’s head, between the ears.

Ash can’t help but smile. “Pichu! You hatched!” He picks up the baby Pokemon and smiles at it, despite the tears still in his eyes, and looks at Charizard. “Remember who this is, pal?”, he asks, smiling, knowing that Charizard already knows… which is why he is here.

A few years before Pikachu died, it agreed to let some of it’s DNA be taken for analysis at Pokemon Labs. As the longest living Pikachu on record, it was something of a scientific curiosity. Some years later, after Pikachu’s death, the DNA was used to impregnate a female Pikachu, who later laid one (and only one) egg.

Professor Birch, long out of the age for running around and doing field work, insisted that the egg be given to the only person who could possibly take care of this particular Pikachu’s child. Ash Ketchum.

For the last six months, Ash and Charizard had been incubating the egg, anticipating the day it would hatch… and now here it is.

Charizard makes a happy sound, and leans down to nuzzle the Pichu’s cheek. Ash smiles and hugs the little baby. “Welcome home, Pi-“

But before he can get the rest of the sentence out of his mouth, the Pichu smiles happily and begins to glow. Could it be possible? After less than a day… Just being with Ash and Charizard… just their love… It is enough to make Pichu evolve!

Ash finds himself an instant later holding a larger yellow electric mouse… and for the first time in ten years, he laughs out loud, despite the fact that he’s now crying at the same time. And as he mounts up onto Charizard’s back for the flight back down to the Pokemon House, he can’t help sobbing softly at the feeling of the Pokemon in his arms.

It’s small, yellow, soft, and warm… It’s everything he remembered. And as they take off, when the new Pokemon climbs immediately up onto Ash’s head for a better view, Ash finally finishes his greeting.

”Welcome home… Pikachu.”


(Author’s Note: Many apologies for the multi-character death allusions. See, here’s what happened: One night, I was listening to “To The Stars” from the Dragonheart soundtrack, when this story started to play out in my head. Now, normally when that happens, if I don’t want to write it, I ignore it and it goes away. Not so with THIS story. Three days later, it was starting to depress ME… so I had to write it. What’s that song lyrics? “If I get it down on paper it’s no longer inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to..” Well, that’s what I had to do. I apologize for any depression this may have caused. I hope the ending was at least enough fluff to make the angst go down easy.)