Ash's flight left first thing in the morning, so they had to wake up before dawn. Burnet stayed up all night helping Ash find and pack up all his things. Kukui was more than willing to help, but he decided to let them have this. Kukui had plenty of one-on-on chances with Ash, and they'd spent the entire evening as a family, just enjoying each other's company. Kukui decided to familiarize himself more with Ash's pokémon, who had all decided to stay in Alola, and gave Burnet and Ash some privacy to just enjoy each other's company before the boy left.
Very early that morning, when the skies were at their darkest, they began to load up the car. Ash was very quiet and withdrawn, almost somber. Kukui knew he was sad to go, he was pretty upset about this too, but this shouldn't be a devastating time, but a happy one. This wasn't exactly an ending, just the start of a new beginning, a new chapter.
Kukui looked at Burnet and gave her a small smile. She returned his smile, nodded, and instinctively put a hand on her stomach. They'd gotten the news a few days ago. Burnet was pregnant, and was already a few weeks along. They hadn't told anybody, as the pregnancy was still very early on and there was always the chance that something may go wrong. They wanted to wait a few weeks before telling anybody.
But Ash was leaving at dawn, and they wanted to tell him in person. They may not talk to anybody, but Ash wasn't just anybody, he was part of their family. He deserved to know.
"Ash, we have something to tell you," Kukui said. Ash's slightly depressed expression slipped to one of curiosity when he saw the broad grins on Kukui and Burnet's faces.
"What's going on?" Ash asked.
"Well," Burnet came up next to Kukui and he put a hand around her shoulders. "You know you'll always be a part of our family, so we thought it was right for you to know that we are expecting a new addition to our family."
"A new addition?" Ash frowned slightly in confusion. He looked at how excited Kukui and Burnet were, and the way that Burnet had her hand over her stomach. It took a long moment, but Ash's eyes finally widened in realization. "A-are you…"
"We're pregnant," Kukui said. Ash's expression lit up.
"No way!" Ash grinned eagerly. "That's so awesome!" Ash ran towards them and hugged the two of them in much the same way he had when they had first announced they were getting married. Kukui laughed and held Ash and Burnet close to him. This happiness, this excitement, this was what he thought today should be all about.
"Do you know if it's going to be a boy or a girl?" Ash asked.
"No, we don't," Burnet said. "It's still too early to tell, and we don't think we want to know."
"You're going to keep it a surprise?" Ash asked. They nodded. "That sounds like so much fun. I can't wait to meet them,"
"I was hoping you would say that," Kukui said. "It'll still be quite some time before the baby is born, but when it happens, I hope you'll come by for a visit to see them for yourself."
"I'd love to," Ash said eagerly. "I mean, I don't know where I'll be in a few months, but I'll definitely come sometime."
"You're welcome here whenever you like," Burnet said. "No excuse is necessary."
"I know," Ash said, his smile dimming slightly. "I still can't believe I'm leaving."
"You may be leaving Alola, but that doesn't mean that Alola will leave you." Kukui said. Ash frowned slightly.
"What do you mean?" The boy asked.
"I mean the spirit of Alola," Kukui said. "Do you know what the word alola means when I greeted you guys in class?"
"Well, Mallow told me that alola is what you guys say as hello," Ash said. "She said it also means goodbye,"
"Well, not exactly," Kukui said. "We use it as a greeting, but alola, and the spirit of Alola, is more than that. It's about love, happiness, a connection to each other and the world around us. When I say alola to you kids, it's my way of connecting with you, and my wish that you find joy in your life. When I say alola as goodbye, I'm saying the same thing, that I hope that wherever you go, and whatever you do, you are happy with it."
"That sounds really nice," Ash's smile returned. "Alola is so great,"
"It really is," Kukui said. "I hope you remember the spirit of Alola and keep it with you."
"I'll definitely try to," Ash said. He glanced up at the sky and frowned. "Wow...it's almost time."
"Yes, it is," Kukui's mood dimmed slightly. He was trying so hard to be optimistic about today, but it was hard. He wouldn't be surprised if tonight, when it fully hit him that Ash was gone, he would end up crying himself to sleep, or sobbing like a child into Burnet's shoulder. He was doing his best to be strong for Ash's sake, because this whole thing was hard enough for the boy. Once he was gone though, Kukui would break down. He already knew that it would take him a while to really accept and move on from this.
Burnet put a hand on Kukui's arm. "We should probably head to the airport, before it gets too late." Burnet was the first to pull away. She grabbed the last of Ash's bags and made her way to the car, leaving Kukui and Ash on their own. They looked at each other for a long moment before Ash leaned against Kukui and wrapped his arms around him. Kukui held onto him. Neither of them knew what to say, but maybe that was okay. They didn't have to say anything. Sometimes, silence spoke louder than words.
Besides, anything that Kukui had to say, he'd already said it before. Ash knew that he was part of their family. Kukui knew that Ash loved being here and saw Alola as a second home. Talking about these things again could do some good, but it could also easily get both of them really emotional and distressed, and that wasn't what they needed right now.
Kukui held onto Ash for as long as he dared before he pulled back. It really was time to go. He rubbed Ash's back slightly before he wrapped his arm around the boy's shoulder and led him towards the car. They weren't going to say goodbye, as that felt really permanent and sadder. They were going to say alola; see you later, be happy, and I'll remember you while we're apart.
Because Kukui really would remember Ash. He didn't think he'd ever be able to forget this fun, kind, wonderful boy. Kukui hadn't really thought ahead very much when he'd invited Ash to come stay with him. It had been a very spur of the moment kind of decision, and Kukui didn't regret it for one second. Having Ash living with him, it was one of the best things that had ever happened to Kukui in his life. It may be hard to see Ash leave, but Kukui still wouldn't give all these experiences, the good and the bad, up for anything.
A/N: I feel a little bad that this last chapter is such a short one, but I feel like it would get a little repetitive for me to write them actually saying goodbye to each other, because the show did that really well. This chapter was just to tie things up, and let's us to say goodbye to these characters.
I know that the show talked a bit about the spirit of Alola and what it meant, but I wasn't sure if they actually explained what them saying alola as a greeting means, or if they ever said it as a word for goodbye, so I wanted to talk about that a little. I mean, I know that Alola is based off of the word aloha, which people say means both hello and goodbye, but that's not exactly right, so I wanted to address that.
I want to thank you guys so much for reading this story. I didn't expect it to become as popular as it got. I just wanted to further explore the family dynamic that the Alola series gave us. I'm glad you all liked it so much though. This has been an adventure.