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Together Forever by Rb

Together forever, no matter how long. From now until the end of time! We'll be together and you can be sure that forever and a day that's how long we'll stay Together and forever more!

"So how do I do this again?" Ash asked.

"Pikapi! Pika, pika, pikaaaaachuuuuuu!" Pikachu demonstrated. Of course, Pikachu forgot to focus her electrical energy to the rubber mat below them. As always.

"YAAAAAAH!" Ash screamed. "Pikachu, that hurts!"

"Chu, pikapi," Pikachu said a bit impudently.

Ash frowned, biting his lip. "It's started to hurt worse since I started training...It's like being caught in a hurricane, with winds tearing at you. Pikachu, every time you use your electrical powers, does it hurt that bad?"

"Pi-i," Pikachu said, looking down at the ground sadly.

"Pikachu...I..." Words failed Ash as he embraced his best friend. Distinctions like "human" and "pokemon," "master" and "object" were forgotten in this pairing of kindred souls.

---

Pikachu have very short life spans compared to humans. A pikachu year is thought to be three years to every human year. Wild pikachu live about five human years, while captured pikachu, because of superior care, last about three more years. Raichu live much longer, because of their superior size, strength, and stamina.

They'd figured out Pikachu was five Pikachu years when Ash was given Pikachu. By the time Ash had turned sixteen, he could see Pikachu was visibly slowing down. The thought scared Ash, and he vowed that he would find a way to make Pikachu live as long as he.

They went to see Professor Oak. Professor Oak advised evolving Pikachu into a Raichu and handed him a thunderstone. "Raichu will live for twenty, even thirty human years longer than Pikachu, Ash. Pikachu would understand, wouldn't she?"

People still treated Pikachu like she wasn't always there with Ash, and that she couldn't understand what people said. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Pikachu gave a painful shock to Professor Oak and stormed out. Ash followed without even an apology, chucking the thunderstone into a trash can.

Pikachu didn't want to live if she was a Raichu. Ash didn't want to live if Pikachu had been violated in that way. A violent action like that...it would be like Pikachu becoming a human girl and being raped. Ash wouldn't have been able to live with himself then.

Gary came to their house that day. Ash's mother had long since moved to Cinnabar Island for her health, and Ash had become very antisocial, alienating his best friends, Misty and Brock, the water and rock masters. No one ever visited the Pokemon Master's house.

"Hey, Ash, you hurt Gramps's feelings," Gary started.

"He hurt mine. And Pikachu's."

Gary nodded, accepting the fact that what Pikachu felt was more important than anything else in Ash's eyes. "Look, Gramps is getting old. And he doesn't have any pokemon of his own anymore, you know. All he does is take care of mine and May's and your extra ones and all." He shook his head slowly. "He's losing his memory. He doesn't understand the bond anymore. It's..." Gary took a deep breath and went on. "I heard about your problem, and I just have to say, there is a way..."

Ash's head jerked up from looking down at Pikachu, who was sleeping in his arms. "Really?"

"You'll have to visit Bill," Gary warned tersely. And left.

---

"Pikachu, pika, piiiikaa!" Pikachu demonstrated her weakest attack, a thundershock. This time, she focused onto the rubber mat below them, to Ash's relief.

"Do I have to cry 'pikaaa' too?" Ash asked, feeling silly. He was glad that they were in a place below Pallet Town that was very hard to get to, and that no Pokemon lived in that area.

"Pi."

"Um...okay. Piiikaa!" Ash cried. Nothing happened.

"Pika," Pikachu sighed. "Pika, pika. Chu, pikachu."

"Um...concentrate on my natural electricity leaving me through my..." Ash blinked. "Electric sockets? Pikachu, I don't have electric sockets in my cheeks like you." He grinned a little, but he was worried. If he wasn't able to conduct electricity through his body, the entire plan would collapse.

Then Pikachu would die, and he wouldn't be able to save her.

"Pii..." Pikachu laughed. It was a beautiful laugh, the first time Ash had heard it in so long. Then Pikachu pointed at his cheeks.

Ash stroked his own cheek. His birthmarks...the zig-zags across his cheeks...like lightning. So that's what Bill meant.

His mother had never been able to explain why they were there. But Ash believed in destiny. It was in his destiny to meet Pikachu, in his destiny to become a Pokemon Master...in his destiny to unite with Pikachu like this.

---

Ash knocked on the door to Bill's lighthouse. "Come in!" a cheery voice echoed. Pikachu's ear twitched as they walked in.

"Bill, I..."

"No need, chap. You want to find a way to make Pikachu live as long as you, eh?"

"Ehehe...how did you know?"

"Gary told me. He's quite a bright young fellow, you know."

Ash nodded. They'd gotten over their rivalry fairly quickly after he'd become a Pokemon master, Gary finding he was better suited to researching Pokemon then training and raising them.

"There is a way, you know. We've been...experimenting. It might be possible."

"What?"

"We give Pikachu a human body."

Ash's mouth dropped open. "B-but..."

"Not only that," Bill went on, "it's got to be a body that's living, that Pikachu won't reject."

"Kachu?"

"Pikachu," Bill said, catching Pikachu's gaze, "if the body that you choose...doesn't like your mind...or vice versa....then you'll both die." Bill was speaking to both of them now. "It's got to be a body with an extraordinary amount of empathy, that's able to completely bond with the pokemon."

I...who would be willing to risk their life to keep me happy? It's too selfish of a risk...what would happen if both died? Ash thought.

Pikapi...I want to live, as much as you, forever and ever...Pikachu thought, her tail inadvertently drooping slightly.

Ash smiled at Pikachu, reassuring her. Bill was amazed, and slightly envious, at the amazing bond the two shared.

"It would also be someone who can control and manipulate the electrical pulses," Bill went on. "A human with Pikachu's body would have to be able to use the electrical powers of Pikachu for it to work."

"How can a person use pokemon powers?" Ash asked.

"All humans have the ability to use pokemon powers, hidden deep inside their brains. However, no humans have ever unlocked that part of the brain. Some people have been considered to be more in touch with the pokemon part of themselves than others. For example, your friend Misty is a water pokemon master. We've experimented, and it's been proven that she can control the current in a small river. Sabrina, the Saffron City gym leader...she has extremely powerful psychic powers, which rival that of an Alakazam's."

Ash nodded, realizing that Bill would not tell the entire story about pokemon powers, like how he'd discovered this. "How will you figure out who is...appropriate...for this task?" he asked slowly.

"Well, it's got to be someone extraordinarily close to both of you," Bill said, looking straight into all four eyes staring at him, somehow. "It can't be someone who's too old, gotta be someone who's still young, like both of you. Someone who completely understands Pikachu's moods...someone who can deal well with all types of Pokemon, from bug to dragon to poison...

"And most importantly, someone that loves Pikachu and won't mind her presence in his mind constantly, sometimes speaking through his mouth, using electrical powers too...For example, Misty has extremely high empathy powers, and since she traveled around with you for so long, she could have been a candidate. But she is not compatible with electric-type powers."

"I'll do it," Ash said suddenly, firmly.

"Pikapi!" Pikachu said, alarmed. From what Pikapi's friend had said, this...transfer of her mind...would hurt Pikapi. She never wanted to hurt her Pikapi...except when she shocked him, which couldn't *really* hurt, could it?

"Pikachu," Ash said softly. "It'll be a new adventure. Just you and me..."

"Pikachu...pikapi."

"We'll do it."

Bill looked from one face to the next, and nodded slowly. "Yes, You will."

---

"Pikaa!" Ash cried. A few sparks emitted from his cheeks, like a true pikachu. An arthritic pikachu.

"Pikapi, pika, pikaaaachu!"

"I am not hopeless!"

"Pikaaa, kachu."

"So what?"

"Piiiikaa!"

"PIKACHU!"

Ash was so angry that an electric attack emitted from his cheeks, frying everything within ten yards, including Pikachu.

They sat in silence for a few minutes.

"...pikapi...pikaachu!" Pikachu said, her face lighting up a little.

"Whaddaya mean, that was a thunderbolt? It was a thunder attack for sure!"

"Kaachuu, pikapi!"

"I'm not boasting!"

They both smiled, and laughed. The plan was going well. They would be fine.

What they didn't know was that someone was observing them. Multiple people, in fact.

---

The plan was simple enough, actually. Ash would spend a few days learning from Pikachu how to manipulate the electric power in his body. Once he had that part mastered, then Pikachu would work with him on the finer points.

Finally, they would undergo the treatment of having Pikachu transfer her mind to Ash. Pikachu's soul would be transferred to Ash's body.

Pikachu's body, of course, would be dead. But Ash and Pikachu would live in the same body, together until Ash died.

For the plan to succeed, though, there had to be complete privacy. Partially because it was top-secret, what Bill and Gary were experimenting with--trying to transplant pokemon powers to humans, and probably partially illegal. Partially, because if there was any external stimuli while Pikachu was transferring her consciousness to Ash, it could very well be fatal to both.

---

"Did you see dat?" Meowth asked, his eyes even larger than usual. "Da brat's da one wit' da powers now!"

"Are we supposed to capture that little twerp, too?" Jessie asked skeptically.

James shrugged. "Could we get him in a pokeball?" he considered.

Jessie thwapped him with her mallet. "Of course not, James!"

Jessie and James (and Meowth) were still part of Team Rocket. They hadn't tried to steal Pikachu for a long time, but their boss, Giovanni, had gotten wind of a secret involving the two greatest Pokeminds on the planet, Bill and Gary, Ash Ketchum the Pokemon Master, and his strongest pokemon. Of course, Giovanni had to know what it was, so he sent the team that knew Ash the best to get wind of the project--and, of course, to steal pokemon.

"Shuddup, da bot' of ya. Do ya wanna jus' ANNOUNCE dat we're here?" Meowth scowled, scratching 'dem' both.

Jessie and James were silent at once and listened. They could hear Pikachu's voice, and Ash's--but Ash wasn't speaking in English.

"What's he speaking, Pikachese?" James whispered loudly. Jessie snickered. Then they realized that Meowth wasn't laughing.

He was crying.

"Meowth, what's wrong?" Jessie asked.

"It's jus' so beautiful what dey're talking about..." Meowth sniffed.

"Translate it!" James urged.

Meowth's voice broke. "Dey're...it'd be a crime to break dem up. I can't translate it. It's.."

Meowth, still crying, then tried to put in clumsy human words what pokemon can express, the unconditional love they have for their 'masters'...really, their best friends. It is the ultimate expression of trust and hope and goodness. It's a gift that humans have lost over thousands of years of fighting and war but what pokemon language still holds clear, and cannot be spoken in human words.

The words pierced each of the trio's hearts.

For a brief, fleeting second, Meowth wished he had a master like Ash.

James was weeping openly, thinking of his own loveless home life.

Jessie's eyes were dry, but shadowed, lost in memory.

The team stopped for a second, thinking.

"We can't do this," Jessie whispered.

James stared. Jessie had always been the most ruthless... "You're right."

"Let's go," Meowth said quietly.

They left.

---

"Pika, pika, pikachu!" Pikachu yelled, oblivious to everything but Ash from her position in his arms.

"Pika, pika, pikachu!" Ash returned, his face alight with happiness.

Ash had always been able to understand Pikachu--you don't spend six years with a pokemon without being able to understand him or her--but now the words seemed to grip his mind, and he sensed a deeper meaning as they rattled his brain. He felt, rather than heard, the words they were saying, not even realizing he'd lapsed into the Pikachu language.

Before, even though they were best friends, there had always been that difference. Ash was still the human and the trainer, and Pikachu was still a pokemon--although a rather important one.

Now, that was all different. Ash was Pikachu. Pikachu was Ash. There was no difference between them. They were happier then they'd ever been in their entire life.

The melding stage had begun.

---

"Sir," Jessie said. She and James were dressed in 'normal' clothes--no fancy costumes, no stupid uniform, just ordinary clothing--and she was holding their uniforms. James was holding Meowth.

"Yes?" Giovanni asked, facing them. He was stroking his Persian. That would have normally made Meowth jealous, but now he realized that Giovanni never had loved him when he was 'Top Cat' and had been just using him. All Meowth felt was a sense of pity for his fellow cat pokemon, because it would never know love.

"We cannot fulfill your mission," James said, nervously patting Meowth's fur, a soothing gesture. Jessie shifted slightly so that her shoulder was touching his, an offering of comfort which James gladly accepted. "We'd like to offer our resignation from Team Rocket."

"What?" Giovanni asked silkily. This was wrong, James's mind said. He would usually be more upset than this. He was taking this all too calmly. This is a trap.

He was the only one, though, that Giovanni would listen to. Jessie was a female, and Giovanni never listened to them. Meowth was a pokemon, which Giovanni would never listen to. He was a male, which made him strong, important, and the dominant person of Team Rocket. Also, he had the largest vocabulary.

It was all up to him. He took a deep breath.

"We have found the latest missions conflicting with our other obligations."

"Like?"

Use your big words, James. Use that fancy education you were given, that was stuffed down your throat. "It is a conscientious awareness among us that the assignments we've been given are erroneous."

Giovanni nodded. "All right, then..."

This is too easy. This is a trap.

"Give in your uniforms, then."

Jessie handed him their uniforms. James gave her Meowth. "Hold him," he said in a voiceless whisper.

"Guards!" Giovanni said harshly. "Take them!"

They were instantly surrounded by armed men with very large guns..

James shivered. He remembered a cruel statement told to him once by someone already gone...The only way out of Team Rocket is in a box. Oh, no. Oh, nooooo....

Jessie saw an opening between one fellow's legs, made her decision, and clutched Meowth and her pokeballs tighter. She then stopped, dropped, and rolled straight out of the circle.

James couldn't move, and his pokeballs--Weezing and Victreebell--were stripped from him. He would have screamed, but he was frozen in horror.

Jessie felt in her pocket. She had a smokebomb, in which she could escape with Meowth, Arbok, and Lickitung. But...what about James?

She cowered in a corner. "Arbok, Lickitung," she whispered soundlessly, "I'm going to let you out. You can't make a noise, okay? Don't make a sound."

She threw the smokebomb first, which made it impossible for any of the guards--or Giovanni -- to see. But her pokemon would be able to see...

The two pokemon left their pokeballs. "Arbok, find James, and bring him over here. Lickitung, use Disable to buy us some time." Jessie rapped out orders swiftly, wondering how to make her escape at the same time. With James and Meowth. Her pokemon obeyed her, sensing their masters' distress.

"An' Meowt'?" Meowth wondered as the other two left.

"Stay here with me," she smiled, and gave him a quick hug.

Arbok with James and Lickitung returned in a less than a minute. Jessie turned and prepared to run when...

"Purrrsian!" Giovanni's Persian came over.

"Arbok, attack--"

"Sian!"

"It wants to come wit' us," Meowth translated quietly.

James nodded. "Let's go!"

"Oookay...let's GO!" Jessie yelled. No time to return her pokemon! She cast a sad look at Arbok and Lickitung. "I'm sorry...James, plan Z!"

James gulped, and pulled a very powerful vial out from his coat pocket. All Team Rocket teams had this vial--a very powerful chemical that reacted powerfully when exposed to air. He threw it. It broke.

And their Team was tossed through the air.

"Looks like Team Rocket's blasting off for the LAST TIME!" Jessie, James, and Meowth yelled in defiance. Arbok, Lickitung, and Persian added their voices to that scream.

They blasted off, all right, over the southern horizon.

There was a "ping."

And then silence.

---

Memories were flooding Ash's mind, memories of a life he had not lived. He was living being born, eating apples, with a mother and father and brother. Family was familiar...

Then having the pain of heartbreak (something he'd never felt), by a male (something he'd certainly never felt), wandering away from her family (her?), and being captured into darkness, alone and scared (no wonder Pikachu always hated pokeballs), and then being let out, with an old human man and a boy who looked weird (Hey!) and who smelled bad (HEY!) and who was incredibly stupid (Pikachu!) and who was brave and stood up for her and would put his life in front of hers...

Ash realized, with a bit of a shock, that these were Pikachu's memories flowing into him, and that his memories were flowing into Pikachu. He weren't losing them...it was like watching a TV show that he would never forget.

Ever.

---

Two humans, a man and a woman, stood in the field.

"Are those the two?"

"They've gotta be."

"Cassidy, why again are we doing this?"

"Because that bitch Jessie failed, I know it. We've got to steal that Pikachu for the boss!"

"But, Cassidy..."

"Butch, shut up."

---

One of Ash's brown eyes opened. What had happened? He had a pounding headache...be quiet, I've got to think!

Ash was lying on the ground, in a damp field. Man, I must have been out for a while, he thought.

His memories of the past few days flooded back, and his other eye opened. He looked at the small, vulnerable body in his arms.

It was barely breathing.

"Pikachu!" he cried in horror.

< Ash? > The voice was vaguely feminine, high-pitched...familiar...

"Pikachu?"

< Ash, Ash, help! I'm trapped somewhere! I can't see or hear anything except you! >

Ash blinked. He held up two fingers. "Pikachu, can you see that?"

< What, your fingers, Ash? Two? > Pikachu wasn't speaking in English, exactly, but not in the Pikachu language. She was speaking, and Ash understood. Simple as that.

"I think...you're trapped inside of me," Ash breathed. Had it worked?

"What are you talking about, little boy?" A curt, harsh female voice.

"Yeah, dude, what are you doing?" A deeper voice, obviously male.

"Huh?" Ash asked, disoriented.

"Rati!" A pokemon. Raticate.

"You don't know who you're dealing with..." the woman started.

"But we'll be glad to show you!" the man said next.

"Prepare for trouble and make it double!" both announced.

< It's a Team Rocket motto...but it's not Jessie and James.... > Pikachu said from inside Ash's brain.

"To infect the world with devastation!"

"To blight all peoples in every nation!"

"To denounce the goodness of truth and love!"

"To extend our wrath to the stars above!"

"Cassidy!"

"Butch!"

"We're Team Rocket, circling Earth all day and night!"

"Surrender to us now, or you will surely lose the fight!"

"That's right!"

"CAAATE!"

Ash blinked. "Geez, guys, I'm kinda not in the mood right now..."

"We don't care about that, twerp," Cassidy told him. "We got word that you're part of a major experiment. And the Boss would really like to hear about it."

"Yeah," cackled Butch, as he tossed a net over Ash and Pikachu's body.

"Haven't you heard?" asked a new, also female voice. Jessie!

"What?" Cassidy asked.

"The Boss is gone," James followed. Ash strained his eyes. With them were Meowth, Arbok, Lickitung...and a Persian? Oh, no!

"And we can't let you take Ash or da Pikachu!" Meowth grinned.

"What? Gone soft?" Cassidy mocked.

"Cassidy, dearest, you should prepare for trouble," Jessie smirked.

"And Butch, you can make that double!" James followed.

"To protect the world from devastation!"

"To unite all peoples within our nation!"

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our reach to the stars above!"

"Jessie!"

"James!"

"Shaaaboku!"

"Licki!"

"Purr..."

"We'll blast you away at the speed of light!"

"Stop your evilness now, or prepare to fight!"

"Meowt', dat's right!"

< Ash...I think Team Rocket's turned strange, > Pikachu's silent voice muttered.

Ash nodded slowly. "That's right."

---

The two teams stood, glaring, directly opposite from each other.

In the middle was Ash, holding Pikachu's old body.

It must have seemed crazy to anyone watching. On one side, there were two humans, wearing black uniforms, with a single pokemon in between. On the other side, there were two other humans with a small zoo of pokemon around them. And in the center, there was a single lean human boy, with a simple Pikachu in his arms.

Ash was trying to complete the mind-melding, desperately worried that something might be wrong. He had Pikachu's memories. He had Pikachu inside his brain...but what was wrong!?

"Let's settle this by a pokemon battle," Cassidy was saying.

Jessie bit her lip. Arbok had never won..."We'll do it. Four pokemon each!"

"Four?" Meowth asked her.

"Four."

"Jessie...my pokemon were taken..." James said. It was a twinge in his heart to think of Weezing and Victreebell, gone.

Jessie nodded. "No matter. We can use Arbok, Lickitung, Meowth, and Persian."

"Purr."

Meowth said, "Persian says okay. And so do I."

"You use four, we use four," Cassidy said. "Raticate! Tentacruel!"

"Cubone, go!" Butch grinned wickedly. "And Haunter!"

Jessie winced. These were some of the toughest matches her pokemon could face...Arbok never won, Lickitung was rarely used, and she had no idea about the skill levels of Meowth and Persian.

"Don't worry about da Persian an' me," Meowth informed her, seeming to read her mind. James seemed a bit shell-shocked, but announced he could take care of handling the Raticate with Lickitung.

"Arbok! Acid that Haunter!"

"Haunter, hypnosis."

Somehow, incredibly, Arbok's attack hit, and the Haunter didn't agree with what Butch was commanding.

"Arbok, glare," Jessie said crisply.

"Haunter, dammit, attack!" Butch glared, too, but Arbok's glare was more potent. Haunter was frozen in place.

Lickitung had, in the meantime, successfully confused Raticate, while Meowth and Persian were a truly awesome pair, scratching, biting, confusing Tentacruel and Cubone.

Jessie and James were, for one sweet second, winning.

---

Ash was alone. All around him was a misty fog.

There was something, something going on outside, around him, but Ash didn't see it. Ash couldn't see it.

There was something, something he had to do.

Pikachu...

I'm here...

Pikachu....

I'm...

Pikachu?

No answer. No sound. Ash was utterly, completely, totally alone.

---

"Pokeballs, go!" Butch yelled.

"Pokeballs, go!" Cassidy shrieked.

Eight more pokemon materialized.

"Defeat them!"

"You can't do that!" Jessie screamed, outraged.

"It's against the rules!" James said. Rules which he'd never understood until now. There's chivalry in Pokemon battling. People are polite simply because they must be. Pokemon battling was not simply for money or power, but a test of skills. And that was all it was.

"Bad guys don't play by the rules," taunted Cassidy.

"But--"

Their words were abruptly interrupted by Ash.

His brown eyes were glowing golden. He looked different, slightly. He was...he had...

"Pikachu," he whispered, looking down at the body in his arms.

Then he screamed it.

"PIKACHUU!"

---

Ash didn't know what he was doing, what was happening, all he knew was that he had a pain that would never go away, oh no, oh no, bad bad bad bad bad pain, and Pikachu was only a wisp of there, and gone otherwise.

Ash didn't care about life, love, or hope any more. It was all gone for him. All he was was an empty soul, a fragile vase that could shatter at any moment.

---

"PIKACHUU!" Ash screamed.

All around him yellow light sizzled. More powerful than even the strongest lightning bolts. Electricity was everywhere in the world and was being directed around to where he chose it to go. He was the ruler. He dictated this.

Everything around him within a half-mile was incinerated, human and pokemon alike.

---

The fragile vase shattered in a large crack. It was now at peace.

---

Humans are not meant to hold great amounts of power. Pokemon are, because pokemon are strong and humans are weak. Pokemon understand and humans don't. Humans are foolish and, even with the best intentions, abuse their power.

Ash?

Pikachu...

Ash!

Pikachu...I'm coming for you...

---

Within a half-hour, police had come to this small field. They saw a dozen charred pokemon and four charred humans.

And the lifeless bodies of Pokemon Master Ash Ketchum and his prime pokemon Pikachu.

It was funny, you know. Ash's face was in a small smile of complete contentment.

---

Time passed. Nothing grew in that place where this terrible tragedy had happened.

And yet, one day, one single day, a small shoot grew up.

It was tender and uncertain at first, worried. It kept its petals tight and close. It surveyed the land it owned now closely, as if worried another horror would take place.

Yet one day...one day, it opened its petals and shone, a bit of beauty in a darkened world.

And a child laughed.