A Courageous Heart
"Bruno is your father?!" Mallow gaped slack jawed, Brock and Giovanni both looking just as stunned.
"Yep!" Ash and his dad answered as one, grinning happily at the stunned crowed.
"Nope, I can see it now." Giovanni sighed bemused "So I assume the Onyx that young Ash mentioned battling a Gyarados was when you battled that Wallace fool from Hoenn?"
"Ah, Ash told you about that did he?" Bruno smiled as he took a clipboard from Brock to review the paperwork for transfer of prisoners.
"I mentioned you had some Onyx, and I knew how tough they could be." Ash piped up "We were talking about my plan for battling Brock since he has one too."
"Well Pebbles is here so I think I'll let them say hi." Ash's dad grinned, "He was quite worried when he heard what happened to you." As he spoke, the giant of a man tossed a pokeball up in the air, releasing an Onyx that was massive even for its species, deep gouges scarring its stone hide.
"Pebbles!" Ash cheered at seeing one of his old Pokémon babysitters, the rock snake leaning down to inspect him, clearly displeased at the need for bandages.
"You named your giant Onyx…Pebbles?" Mallow asked, looking at the giant Pokémon in confusion while Ash flushed awkwardly.
"Oh, he didn't tell you?" Ash saw his father's eyes gleam mischievously as he spoke "Ash named Pebbles when he was just a little tyke. Now they won't answer to anything else."
"That's adorable!" Mallow cooed at him as Ash tried, and failed, to hide behind an equally amused Pebbles the Onyx.
"And you are young lady?" Ash's dad smiled at the greenete who nodded back.
"Oh, I'm Mallow Ka Luna sir, it's a pleasure to meet you." Mallow smiled politely as she shook his dad's hand, "I met Ash in Viridian City and we've been travelling together since then."
"Then both of you promise me to look out for each other and enjoy the memories you make together on your journey." Ash's dad gave them both a kind smile, placing a tender hand on their shoulders "I travelled together with Lance and Lorelai for years and those years were some of the happiest I ever knew before I met Ash's mother." At that, Ash saw his dad straighten up and look over at Giovanni "And I still need to thank you for looking after my boy Razzo."
"It wasn't that much." Giovanni shook his head, "I was already coming this way to help Brock here deal with these thieves, and I have to go inspect the Cerulean gym after it so I'm not exactly going out of my way."
"Regardless, you have my thanks. I owe you one." The massive Fighting elite four swore seriously.
"Wait, if you're Ash's dad then why doesn't he use fighting types?" Mallow piped up, looking over at Ash confused even as he tried to escape Pebbles' mothering.
"I didn't want to specialize." Ash shrugged at her, sending pouts at his team who were refusing to save him from his dad's Onyx.
"Although speaking of, I have a little surprise for you Ash." His dad grinned, pulling out a ticket "I made reservations for us at the same Fighting Dojo where I trained when I was on my own journey. They help you catch a fighting type if you don't have one and you get a week of training with the pass, I got us. I figured you'd want to focus on your journey rather than stay at a school for now. And don't worry, your girlfriend can come too, although she won't be trained like you will."
"She's not my girlfriend!" Ash squeaked, the same time as Mallow exclaimed how she wasn't his girlfriend.
"For now." Bruno sing songed eagerly before studying them and rubbing his chin in confusion, "Young Lady, have we met before? I swear you're very familiar."
"No, we never met before." Mallow shook her head, "I'm pretty sure I'd remember meeting a member of an Elite Four."
"Hmmm." Ash saw his dad hum before pulling out his phone to check something, "Ah, that's it!" he turned the screen around showing the poster image for a show he hadn't seen in years, "You're in that show Ash used to watch, 'The Alolan Idols'."
"Dad!" Ash squawked, torn between shock that his new friend was in a show he used to watch and embarrassment at his dad bringing up how much he used to watch that show.
"Ash…you watched the Alolan Idols?" Mallow gaped at him "I didn't think it was even aired outside of Alola."
"Oh yeah, I got a special cable package to get shows from other regions." Bruno answered conversationally, calmly keeping his phone out of Ash's reach "My boy here would never miss an episode once he got hooked on it. He was so sad that they only did a couple seasons."
"Daaaaaaad!" Ash flailed, trying to get rid of the phone as if in some vain hope that doing so would make his wish that this conversation never happened a reality.
"What?" his dad gave him a faux-innocent shit eating grin.
"As amusing as it is to see Young Ash doing his best cherry berry impression, we do actually have work to do." Giovanni, Ash's savior sent by Arceus, spoke up, drawing everyone's attention back to the very unhappy thieves.
"Fiiiiiine." Ash's dad sighed before looking at Ash and Mallow "Why don't you two go to the Pokémon Center while we take care of this. Afterwards all of us are going to get some dinner, my treat!"
"We'll be there sir." Mallow promised, grabbing Ash's arm to drag him away even as he blushed while the three league members laughed at his expense.
The moment his son was out of sight, Bruno looked at his colleagues seriously, Pebbles constricting around the thieves and dragging them to the prisoner transport van he'd brought with him. "Alright, now that the kids are gone, we need to talk. I looked into the place where my son was attacked. You both read the report yes?" he asked, Giovanni nodding while Brock shook his head.
"It hasn't gotten to me yet." The rock Gym leader supplied.
"Well, my son was attacked by his starter and left for dead. Afterwards that Vulpix and Nidorino of his saved him from the spearow flock and drug him to Viridian." Bruno summed up "Afterwards, the officer on gate duty reported a loud piercing cry unlike anything they'd ever heard coming from the forest, every nearby Pokémon they could see running into the trees. I was in charge of the Ranger unit that went to check on the Spearow flock. It was bloody and brutal. That flock was the largest colony of Spearow in Kanto but most of them were already slaughtered by the time we got there. There were signs of multiple Pokémon having taken part in the carnage, but we also found burns and scorch marks unlike anything else on record since the League was established. Given the cry I think there's a good chance at one of the more vengeful legendaries operating in Kanto right now. I'm grateful they interceded on behalf of my son…or I hope that's what happened, but the League needs to keep an eye out. The last thing we need right now is some young dumbass trying to battle and catch a legendary. Especially if it's a rich spoiled brat trying to use a master ball." Both of his colleagues shuddered at the thought of what would happen should a trainer catch an unwilling legendary in a master ball. Whether that retribution came from the captured legendary or its friends, it would be messy regardless.
"What of the starter that attacked Ash?" Brock asked, looking queasy as he took a copy of the report from Bruno, seeing the photos of what had happened to the violent Spearow horde.
"We looked and found no sign of any Pikachu remains. So, it was either eaten or…" Bruno trailed off with a dark scowl.
"Or the Pokémon that scarred and traumatized your son is still alive." Giovanni finished as Bruno nodded.
"We found what we think is Pikachu blood in a clearing not far from where my son was attacked but it wasn't enough to be fatal and judging by the lack of Spearow bodies there I can assume when the flock was driven away by that Vulpix the ones that chased the rat rejoined them."
"Should we tell Ash?" Brock frowned as he handed the file back, "I think the kid has a right to know about…that. Maybe not the bloody details but the fact that the flock is dead, and the Pikachu might be alive."
"At the moment, Young Ash believes the Spearow flock were merely scared off and dispersed by other Pokémon who didn't approve of their actions." Giovanni considered the matter "And he's still recovering, both physically and mentally. It might be best to let him get somewhat better before we inform him. At the moment I think knowing that said Pikachu is possibly still out there, specifically surviving whatever slaughtered those Spearow, might only give him nightmares at the moment."
"I agree." Bruno nodded.
"Most of the Gym Leaders of Kanto are part of the White Rockets, I can have them forward you reports about his health and mental state after he battles them." Giovanni offered, "Not to mention I'm considering introducing him to my own son Silver who's wandering for his own training at the moment."
"You escorting my son might not be going out of your way but that sure seems to be." Bruno raised a questioning eyebrow.
"Your son is showing himself to be a skilled tactician with an astonishingly powerful Vulpix. He's someone I can easily see becoming one of my White Rocket Admins when he gets older." Giovanni shrugged, not even bothering to hide his intentions "Added to that asking the other Gym leaders to keep you informed isn't that difficult and introducing him to my son is for purely selfish reasons. The boy has zero social skills and when I picture them meeting, I can see your son's stance being something along the lines of 'friendship is inevitable, resistance is impolite'."
"Bye Ulu!" Mallow waved at her brother on the other end of the video phone, Ash doing the same, the pair having decided to make some calls once they got back to the center. They'd already called his mom, who'd apparently known his dad was coming but wanted it to be a surprise, and now they were finishing up with calling Ulu.
"Bye you two, remember, use protection!" Ulu called back just before the line cut.
"Hold up there you." Mallow smirked as she grabbed his arm when he moved to get up and leave the video call booth "We aren't done yet."
"We aren't?" Ash blinked at her confused even as she pulled him back into his seat, his friend typing a new number into the machine.
"Nope." Mallow grinned as the video phone rang before connecting to show a man who looked a great deal like her and Ulu, "Hey Daddy!"
"Hey there princess!" the now identified Mr. Ka Luna smiled "And you must be Ash. It's a pleasure to finally meet you, young man."
"It's good to meet you too sir." Ash nodded, Vulpix poking his head up to see who they were talking to.
"Are they there Daddy?" Mallow asked, bouncing eagerly as her father laughed.
"See for yourself." The man did something off screen before the image changed, letting them see a nice-looking restaurant where Mallow's dad was sitting with a bunch of people their age.
"Hey Mallow!" the other teenagers shouted happily, Ash noting the other girls in the group were his friends old co stars on 'the Alolan Idols' now that his dad had kickstarted that memory in his brain.
"Hey everyone!" Mallow beamed happily, "Guys, I want you to meet Ash, the new friend I made and am traveling with. Ash, meet my friends back home in Alola. They're like family to me."
"It's good to meet you all." He nodded to them with a smile even as Vulpix cooed in greeting, noting any ice Alolan Vulpix in the group as well.
"So, what's it like in Kanto?" the biggest member of the group, a dark-skinned guy with a fire theme asked them "I hear they have a fire Gym there."
"Yeah, but the Gym Leader is close to losing his license." Ash shook his head "He burnt down his old gym and runs another one in the Volcano to hide it from tourists. He makes people solve riddles to even learn the Gym is still active and given how few people battle there now because of his stunts the League is talking about stripping him of his Gym Leader certification."
"Wait, how in the name of Arceus would you know that?" a shorter boy with orange hair looked skeptical.
"I…uh well…" Ash trailed off, not wanting to sound like a braggart.
"His dad is Bruno, from the Kanto Elite four." Mallow grinned, charging right ahead for him "Just met him actually, as well as the Onyx Ash named 'Pebbles'." Mallow giggled amused at him.
"Oh, you really wanna throw shade miss 'Roserade Tea'?" Ash grumbled even as Mallow giggled, it only taking him a moment to realize his mistake.
"Wait, you told him about being in 'the Alolan Idols'?" a blonde girl he recognized from said show looked surprised.
"No, according to his dad, Ash here used to be a big fan of the show before they stopped making it." Mallow smiled even as Ash groaned.
"Me and my big mouth." He sighed against the counter even as Vulpix patted his head consolingly.