Ketchum Traveling Club
Delia looked up as she set the cake platter onto the picnic table.
"Is he coming, Mimey?" She checked.
Her ever-loyal Mr. Mime nodded his head as he came out the sliding door that led into Professor Oak's backyard ranch.
"Mime mime!" The barrier Pokémon said, giving a thumbs up.
Delia smiled, and then turned to address the others. "Okay, you all heard Mimey. Places!"
Moments later, Ash and Pikachu were coming out through the same door.
"Mom, we got the message. What's up?" Ash asked, Pikachu hopping down from his shoulder to the grass.
"Surprise!" Everyone exclaimed, their shouts intermingled with those of Ash's many Pokémon also present.
Ash blinked in shock. "Whoa! What's all this? It looks like everybody's here." The teenaged trainer glanced at the many smiling faces that greeted him. Misty, Brock, Tracey, May, Max, Dawn, Iris, Cilan, Clemont, Bonnie, Serena… with the exceptions of every Pokémon he ever released, it seemed everyone he traveled entire regions with were here. Professor Oak and Gary were present as well, but that was a given since they lived at the ranch.
Delia stepped forward, eager to explain. "Well, it's been a while since you came home from Kalos."
"Almost a whole year," Max added because of course he would keep track of things like that.
"And a few weeks ago, you mentioned that ever since you came home to challenge the Battle Frontier, you've never had all your friends together before. So, I thought that with you still worn out from the crisis in Kalos, it would be nice to organize a reunion."
Stunned beyond belief, Ash stared at his mother. "And you actually managed to get everybody?"
"You'd be surprised what a little motherly charm can accomplish," Delia giggled at her son's disbelieving face.
Behind Delia, Bonnie beamed. "I like your mom, Ash. She's so amazing. She convinced Daddy to let me and Dedenne fly all the way to Kanto with Clemont."
"Denne!" Dedenne squeaked from Bonnie's purse.
"And it has been a little while since we've all seen each other, so we thought why not?" Dawn said.
Cilan stepped forward, giving one of his formal bows. "We've all cleared our schedules for this week, so for the next few days, we're all going to be staying in Pallet Town together and getting to know each other. I know we usually communicate over email, but socializing in person is much better."
Ash could feel his eyes watering. "Guys… you're the best." Using his arm to wipe away the tears before he could fall, he smiled at them.
"Ash, you've made our lives much more interesting the moment you set foot in them," Brock told him before holding up a cake decorated with the image of a Pikachu. "Now, who wants cake?"
"Me!" May's hand was the first to shoot up in response. Her brother and Dawn both chuckled, knowing her appetite.
Ash's Pokémon charged for the table, but Tracey stepped in before they could reach it. Bulbasaur at Tracey's side.
"Calm down everyone, there's more than one cake. No need to race each other to get a slice," Tracey stated with hands up in a calming position.
"Saur saur, Bulbasaur," Bulbasaur said in support, using his vines to mimic Tracey's motions.
Humans and Pokémon alike began to mingle. Ash's friends sent out their own Pokémon to reunite with their friends from Ash's team they might have traveled with and to make new friends with the ones they hadn't met. Buneary had a bold reunion with Pikachu, and practically gushed over Dedenne's adorable little self when introduced to him. Snivy and Emolga fell back into their old, complicated friendship when Emolga tried to swindle several new friends out of their cake and Snivy began to scold her. Even Axew and Scraggy got to talk with each other again.
Since May and Serena had run into each other in Hoenn, their Pokémon were already familiar acquaintances. Pancham wasted no time in introducing Chespin to his new, cooler friend Blaziken, who had formed a friendship with Braixen on the basis they were their trainers' starter Pokémon. Glaceon and Sylveon stuck together like they were sisters.
Once Ash's Pokémon were under control, Bulbasaur found himself with May's Venusaur. He sat and listened as Venusaur told new friends about how he helped her evolve while she stayed at the ranch during the Kanto Battle Frontier run.
Brock's Swampert, having evolved from Marshtomp since Brock joined Ash in Sinnoh, attempted to do some flirting, all of which was put to a stop by Croagunk and Chansey. Meanwhile, Cilan's Pansage took to talking with Clemont's Luxray about being a gym leader's main Pokémon.
Max's Kirlia, the same Kirlia that had once been an ill Ralts that Ash and the gang had helped, got to re-familiarize himself with the Pokémon he had met on that occasion. And Misty's Marill got to play with his mother, Tracey's Azumarill.
"It's been a while since we met up like this," Dawn told May, halfway done with her cake while May was already finished. "We should do it more."
"I know. Ooh, have you heard where the Wallace Cup is going to be this year?" May asked.
"You actually wrote that Ash is a loser on a sign?" Iris blinked at Gary. "Wow, and I thought Ash was a kid."
"I was ten! Give me a break," Gary groaned, already regretting the idea of sharing that story with someone else who had given Ash grief.
Max couldn't help but be slightly jealous of Bonnie. "Clemont caught Dedenne for you, right? Man, I wish we had thought of that so I could keep Ralts or one of the other Pokémon I became friends with when we were traveling across Hoenn."
Speaking of Clemont…
"At least you got to find a girlfriend on your own," Clemont told Tracey as the sketch artist told the electric-type gym leader about his girlfriend, who happened to be Misty's sister. "Bonnie's always trying to find a girlfriend for me, and I didn't even ask her to do that."
"I may have had a crush on Ash a long time ago, but my feelings just kinda faded over time," Misty confessed to Serena. Ever since finding out about one another from Ash, Misty being the first girl to travel with Ash and the one to do so the longest while Serena was the first to actually kiss Ash, this conversation was one they were waiting to have in person. "He was such a brat when he was ten, and we were too young for romance stuff anyway. I guess by the time we were old enough for that, we were regions apart and we had our own goals to follow. By the time you, Clemont, and Bonnie joined the 'Ketchum Traveling Club', I realized I didn't really care if he liked you that way, or if it was the other way around."
"Then you don't mind if I keep having feelings for Ash?" Serena clarified, looking over her shoulder and spotting Ash mingling with some of his Pokémon he hadn't seen for a while.
Misty looked at him as well, and turned to smile at Serena. "Go ahead. You're probably a better match for him than I would've been."
As the afternoon started to transition into evening, Ash took a moment to look over everyone who had come to the party.
His mother… who raised him to be such a great person.
Professor Oak… who gave him his Pikachu and took care of his Pokémon when he switched them out.
Gary… who first pushed him to be a stronger trainer and showed him people can change for the better.
Misty… who was his first traveling companion and chose to travel with him despite knowing he had fried her bike.
Brock… who always acted like an older brother to all their traveling friends and always knew how to make everyone feel better.
Tracey... who filled in a gap Brock left behind in the Orange Islands and helped lessen Professor Oak's workload.
May... who showed him a whole new Pokémon career that was fun to try and was the only one of his friends who matched his appetite.
Max… who reminded him so much of himself when he was younger and reminded Ash that you didn't have to be a trainer to be a hero.
Dawn… who acted so much like himself that he could see her being his sister and inspired several of his battle tactics.
Iris… who was so wild compared to his other friends and reminded him of his earlier travels with Misty and Brock.
Cilan… who kept him and Iris from starving on the road and kept the peace whenever they argued too much.
Clemont… who showed him that science was amazing and helped him train to be his best in the Kalos League.
Bonnie… who saw every Pokémon as cute in some way and was the key to saving Kalos from the crisis that Team Flare brought onto the region.
Serena… who was somehow different from his other friends and surprised him on every step of their journey together.
All those important people in his life, and that wasn't even getting into all the individual Pokémon that he had brought into his family over his travels.
Still though, it felt like something was missing. When he spotted Pikachu playing with some of his friends' Pokémon, he realized what was missing from this picture.
He turned towards the shaded area he was near, and smiled.
"Team Rocket, I know you're there. Come out and celebrate with the rest of us. You guys have been there every step of the way like the others," he said.
Some of the bushes rustled, and a familiar trio of Pokémon thieves stumbled out.
"How'd youse know we were here?" Meowth demanded while Jessie raked leaves out of her voluminous hair.
Ash shrugged. "Somehow, I figured you would be."
"Are you sure you want to invite us?" James checked. "We have tried to steal all of yours and the other twerps' Pokémon a lot of times over the years."
"Yeah, and you guys are terrible at it," Ash said honestly, only to get annoyed glares from the trio. He held up his hands in defense. "Look, it's the truth. Also, considering everything we've been through together, I can tell you're actually good people stuck on a bad road in life. Please join us. I think there's enough cake left for you and your Pokemon."
Jessie made a humming noise of thought. "It has been far too long since we had something decent to eat." She gave Ash a smirk. "We'll take your offer, as long as you make it clear to the other twerps we're here on a temporary truce. We won't try to steal your Pikachu or the other Pokémon, and your twerp friends won't try to blast us off. Deal?"
Once it was made clear to Ash's friends and family that Rocket trio were appearing on peaceful terms, and they were reminded that they all had a few positive memories with the thieves, the party resumed. When the sun was about to disappear below the horizon, Ash gathered everyone at the ranch's fence so they could witness a Pallet Town sunset.
"Great party, Mrs. Ketchum," Serena complimented the woman as she sat with May and Dawn. "This was a great idea."
Gary, sitting beside Ash and Clemont, glanced at his grandfather. "It was cool of you to host the party too, Gramps."
"Well, it's not like there's any other place that could fit all of Ash's Pokémon. And since it was here his journey started, it seemed like an appropriate place to celebrate everyone Ash has become friends with and everywhere he's gone," Professor Oak said, standing behind the fence with Brock and Cilan.
Delia gave all of her son's friends a warm smile. "I'm just happy that you all could make it. You all have been such wonderful companions for my son, and for that I'm very grateful."
"Hey, Ash?" Bonnie, who had been sitting on Iris's lap, twisted around to look at him properly. "Wherever you travel next, make some more new friends we can all be friends with, okay?"
"Sure thing, Bonnie!" Ash smiled back.
Misty had been sitting next to Bonnie and Iris, and she playfully ruffled Bonnie's hair. "Whoever they end up being, I bet they'll fit right into our little club."
Knowing Misty was right, everyone sat contently and watched the sun vanish until the next day.
Across the ocean in the region of Alola, an eleven-year-old girl with blonde hair and green eyes vowed to rescue the poor Pokémon being experimented on by her mother's staff in an island research base. On another bigger island, a girl with green eyes and hair tasted her latest culinary concoction.