Weathering Storms
by Leto

"I think it's broken," said Ash, shaking his Pokedex.

"Gee, Ash, what gave you that idea," said Misty.

In front of them stood a Poliwhirl.

"Bulbasaur. A seed Pokemon. This Pokemon cannot be defined as plant or animal. It absorbs sunlight into its bulb, which grows with the Pokemon. Bulbasaur. A seed Pokemon. This Pokemon cannot be defined as plant or animal. It absorbs sunlight into its bulb, which grows with the Pokemon. Bulbasaur. A seed Pokemon. This Pokemon cannot be defined as plant or animal. It absorbs sunlight into its bulb, which grows with the Pokemon."

"Shut up, Dexter," said Ash, and the Poliwhirl ran away, worried by the noise. Dexter responded by beeping loudly and continually.

"Ash, turn it off!" shouted Misty.



"I don't know how!"

"Pikachu pika!"


Tracey grabbed the Pokedex from Ash, slammed his fist into the screen, and handed it back. Dexter was silent.

"Umm... thanks, Trace. What am I supposed to do now?"

"You don't need a Pokedex any more, Ash. You have badges to prove your identity, and you've already seen most of the Pokemon, right."

"But I keep forgetting!"

Misty glanced at Tracey and sighed. "He isn't kidding."

"Maybe Professor Oak can give me another one."

"Woah, Ash, those things are expensive," said Tracey, "I don't think someone as busy and important as Professor Oak would have the time to program you a whole new one."

But Ash was already off, running back to the nearest Pokemon Center, and the nearest video phone.

Ash waited patiently - as patiently as Ash could - as the phone rang, again and again. No response from the other end. Undaunted, he dialled again. And again.

"Ash, I don't think he's going to answer if he didn't the first time," said Misty. She sighed as Ash responded by dialling again.

"I guess he's not in his lab," said Ash, "I'll try his home number."

Tracey gaped. "You know Professor Oak's HOME number?!"

Ash didn't answer, just dialled automatically, as if he knew the number as well as his own - which he did.

The phone rang once, twice, thrice. Ring ring ring, ring ring ring, phone call... Just when Ash was about to hang up, there was a click and the screen focused in on Gary. Gary's eyes widened when he saw who it was, and he turned his head.

"Gary?!" sputtered Ash, "what're YOU doing there?!"

"I live here, you idiot," said Gary, "why'd you call me?"

"I didn't call to talk to YOU," snapped Ash, "I wanted to talk to Professor Oak! Where is he?"

"Gramps isn't around to talk to losers," said Gary, still facing away from Ash.

"Why're you holding your head like that?"

"I wouldn't give some wimpy dork the honour of looking at a REAL trainer like myself!"

Ash growled, and Tracey only just managed to restrain him from punching the videophone screen. "So Professor Oak has someone like that for a grandson," he muttered, "that's a downer."

Ash was less diplomatic. "LISTEN, you big jerk! I don't want to talk to you! Put Professor Oak on the phone right now! This is important and I'm not wasting time listening to mean people like you insult me like that!"

Misty was impressed. "Wow, usually he's just talk when it comes to Gary."

Gary was surprised to, and whirled to face the screen, forgetting himself. "Hey, you shouldn't talk like that to the only - what?"

Gary stopped, seeing Ash's expression change completely.

"Gary," said Ash, "you were crying?!"

"I was not," huffed Gary, "I'm allergic to losers, that's all!"

"Fine, be that way," scowled Ash, "now are you gonna put Professor Oak on or NOT?!"

"You can't talk to him," said Gary, quietly.


"He's dead."

Gary glared at Ash and slammed the phone down. The screen went black, and Ash stared at it in disbelief.

"Oh..." said Misty, but she was the only one of them who spoke. They looked at each other for a long moment.

Tracey shook his head. "No. He's not dead. That guy's full of himself. He was just making that up to bother you."

"I dunno..." said Ash, slowly, "Gary's not a liar."

"How would you know, Ash?" asked Misty.

"We were friends once... things sorta changed after his parents died."

"That's awful!"

Tracey's expression darkened. "Don't believe that! Don't talk like Professor Oak's really dead, he couldn't be, there's so much stuff he coulda taught the world. Gary could lie to you easily. I mean, he's obviously not your friend now."

"But I'm still his," said Ash, and ran towards the door.

"Where are you going, Ash?" called Misty.

"Back to Pallet!"

"But that's so far! Ash! Ash, come back!"

By the time Misty and Tracey reached the door, Ash was above their heads, Charizard taking him and Pikachu back to where they had started.

"He just left?" said Misty, in disbelief, "what are we supposed to do now? He's got Lapras, and... and he left! Doesn't he care about us at all?!"

"Toge toge," said Togepi, patting her arm with one of its small ones.

"He can't really be dead," repeated Tracey, eyes distant.


"Well, that's it," muttered Gary, "fanclub up and leaves after Pokemon League. So now I'm a second-rate trainer without any family." He kicked a cupboard door shut. It hit too fast, and bounced back open again. He glared at it, and kicked it again. "Thanks a LOT for just leaving me like that, Gramps."

"Ring ring ring, ring ring ring, phone call, phone call."

"Oh, shut UP," he roared at the phone. The next person who rings and asks for Gramps is gonna GET it, he thought. He picked up the phone and glowered into the screen.

"WHAT?" he snapped.

The caller, a pleasant enough older man, smiled a little nervously, "um, hello there Gary, I was wondering if your grandfather was anywhere about?"

"NO, and if he was, he wouldn't wanna speak to you!"

Gary slammed the phone down and smiled grimly. That was fun. He started slamming other things down. After breaking a glass, a pot, driving a dent into the coffee table and leaving a dark purple stain on the carpet, he lost momentum and sank into a lounge chair.

What am I supposed to do now? he asked himself. Go off and keep training like nothing's happened? I should take care of things here. But who can I call?

He hesitated, before trying Sharyn's number. She'd started his fanclub, she'd travelled with him for a year. Surely she would help him out now.

The phone rang, and she picked up. She looked surprised to see him, and a little guarded.

"Yes, how can I help you?"

"Umm..." Her polite detachment unbalanced him. "Sharyn, I was, wondering, um..."

"What do you WANT, Gary?"

"I need your help."

"Yes, that would be right, wouldn't it. You disappointed all of us, after we believed in you, and now you want our HELP?"

He nodded silently.

"You made us look like idiots, Gary Oak! Idiots who backed up someone who couldn't even become a Pokemon Master! What's this HELP you want?!"

He couldn't answer now. "Nothing. Seeya."

She rolled her eyes and hung up. He held the phone for several moments, just thinking - or not thinking, as the case was, until it scared him by ringing again. He picked it up and hung it up again without even seeing who it was.

Well, so much for friends, he thought. Maybe Ash had a point with his Pokemon philosophy - if he'd taken the advice, at least he'd have someone to count on now.

Ash! Huh! He clenched his fists as he thought of how his rival must be gloating now. That jerk...

At that moment, the door slammed - someone had come in. Noisy footsteps pounded down the corridor, coming towards the lounge. There was only one person Gary knew who barged into houses without knocking, and ran in that eagerly.

Gary turned to see Ash standing in the doorway, Pikachu on one shoulder. He ran in and cannonballed onto the couch, just as he used to. But he was out of practise and ended up sprawled awkwardly on the floor. Pikachu was crushed underneath him and thundershocked in response.

"Ow," he said.

Gary smiled for the first time that day. Ash grinned sheepishly and pulled himself up.

"D'you need a hand?" he asked. It was enough.


"He was okay," said Gary, showing Ash, "I mean, sometimes he got tired and stuff, but he wasn't real sick or anything. And now look."

Ash stared. "You left him dead on the bedroom floor? How long's he been lying there?!"

"Only about a day..." Gary's face fell and he didn't speak for a long while, composing himself. "Hey, how was I s'posed to know what to do? I didn't have anyone to call or anything."

"You coulda called me," said Ash.

"Ash, how was I supposed to know what number to call? You were in the middle of nowhere, right?"

Ash sweatdropped and smiled. "I guess so. Anyway, let's call my mom and find out what you do with a... um... dead old guy."

Gary tried to smile back, tried not to cry. Failing on both accounts.

For once, Ash had enough sense not to say anything. Pikachu slipped from the room. They just stood there, soundless except for an occasional sniffle. But sometimes, just knowing you're not alone is enough, right?


"What're you going to do now?"

Gary shrugged in response. "Dunno. Someone has to stay at the lab. I mean, someone has to look after all those Pokemon, and give ones to new trainers, and study them, and take the Pokeballs from trainers who catch new Pokemon - maybe even you, if you actually caught anything, haha! And it's legally my lab now."

"But you don't want to," said Ash.

Gary shook his head. "I wanted to travel, but it's awful by yourself."

"That settles it," said Ash, "come travel with us!"

"What about the lab?"

"I know who could look after it. Woah!"


"I just remembered I didn't even tell my friends when I was coming back. I just left them without saying anything."

"Yeah, well, that's you alright."

Ash grinned, and Gary pulled out a Pokeball. An Alakazam appeared.

"Well, let's go then, right?" said Gary, "to become Pokemon Masters!"

Ash gave a thumbs-up, and they teleported.


Tracey took over the lab, a dream come true for him. Ash kept in regular contact with him, hearing about his new discoveries, asking questions.

And Misty understood about before; sometimes you just have to help your friends when they need help. And sometimes friendship doesn't end just because one person changes their personality. And sometimes things can be sorted out. Sometimes they are.


An ash tree and an oak tree stand side by side. The wind is blowing hard, and rain pelting against their trunks. They do not flinch. The storm blows over.

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