Chapter 67: A Very Happy Birthday
Ash had come to enjoy his quiet time in Alola. He'd never really travelled for pleasure before. Every time he'd been to a region, it'd been to advance his career as a Pokémon trainer. Even on trips where he'd only intended to be there for a week at most wound up turning into a full blown journey, his current one included. That's not to say he'd never gone anywhere just for fun, but even then it was always short stints between or during his travels. But now that he didn't have a league to train for or any major battles ahead, he could actually appreciate the sights Alola had to offer.
That's not to say he didn't train. Quite the contrary, he always made sure to stick in a training session in the morning. Sometimes an extra one in the evening, if he was lucky. But between helping out around the lab, going on dates with Lillie, or helping Illima with the occasional task, he found himself spending less time with his Pokémon. Not that they were upset. They understood things like this just happened as people got older.
Currently, Ash was just waking up. Normally, he'd find Pikachu waiting at the foot of the bed for him, ready for a quick jog. But to his surprise, he couldn't find the electric rodent anywhere. In fact, none of his Pokemon were in their Pokeballs.
"Huh? Where'd they go?"
Even his Rotomdex was missing. Curious, he climbed down from his loft in an attempt to find answers...
Only to be attacked by a large blur, which then proceeded to lick him. Ash chuckled in relief, realizing it was only his Lycanroc.
"Down, boy. Yes, I missed you too."
Lycanroc let up, letting out a content growl as Ash stroked his fur. Burnett came in, a plate of eggs in hand, which she handed to Ash.
"Morning, Burnett. Hey, have you seen Kukui or my Pokémon? Usually Pikachu is there to wake me up, but I can't find any of them anywhere."
"Oh, Kukui had a demonstration at the Trainer School, and he thought your Pokemon would be perfect for it. Except Lycanroc and Salamance. Lycanroc is convinced I need protecting, and Salamance went off to do some flying. Kukui wanted to ask you, but you were sleeping and he knew you wouldn't mind."
Ash nodded as he finished his breakfast.
"Sounds good. As Kukui Junior?"
Burnett chuckled. Ash and Kukui had somehow got it into their minds that the baby would be a boy and started calling "him" that.
"Okay, for the last time we're not calling my baby that. One of them is enough as is. But we're doing good. Oh, that reminds me. I was wondering if you could run some errands for me. I'd do them myself, but little Lilo here has been kicking a lot lately."
"Sure. Let me just do the dishes-"
"Oh, I can do them myself. You just get going."
"Are you sure? It's really not a problem, and-"
"Ash, its fine, really. I may be pregnant, but I'm not incapable of doing things myself. Besides, some of those chores are time sensitive, so you should get going."
"Alright, if you're sure. Hey Lycanroc, want to come with me?"
Lycanroc was already at the door waiting before Ash had finished his sentence. Laughing, Ash went to get what he needed. Once Ash was out of earshot, Burnett turned to the rock type.
"Remember, keep him away from the house until sunset. Whatever you do, don't let him come home."
Lycanroc nodded, determined to obey. At last, Ash came back, leash in hand.
"Alright buddy, let's go! Bye, Burnett!"
Burnett made sure he was gone before pulling out her cell phone and calling her husband.
"Mama bear to Papa bear, Baby bear has left the cave. Repeat, Baby bear has left the cave."
"Roger that, Mama Bear. Operation Surprise Party is a go."
Ash kneeled over in pain as he tried to catch his breath. He had finished the errands Burnett had asked him to run a long time ago, but every time he tried to return home, his Lycanroc pulled him farther and farther away. Right now, they were just outside Verdant Cavern.
"Geez, what's with you today? You're usually pretty hyper, but even this is new for you."
And as soon as he said that, Lycanroc took off once again, much to his exasperation.
"Oh, come on!"
"Oof! Well, hello there!"
Ash, worried that Lycanroc was getting in trouble, quickly ran after him...
Only to find him licking Hala's face.
"Lycanroc, down! Sorry about that Hala, he's real hyper today for some reason."
"Ah, no worries. How are you today, Ash?"
"Pretty good. Sorry I can't stay and chat, but I should get going. I was doing errands for Professor Burnett, and I should head back before she gets worried."
"Oh, actually, could you help me with something first? Hau's birthday is coming up, and I'm having a little trouble figuring out what to get him. I could really use an opinion."
"I'd love to, but I've been gone long enough as is chasing Lycanroc all over the Island."
"I'll call Burnett and let her know. I promise it won't take too long."
Seeing that Hala really needed his help, Ash agreed.
"Alright, lets get searching!"
Burnett struggled to hold her phone against her ear as she carried a box of party supplies into the area.
"Okay, thanks Hala. Remember, keep him busy until sunset."
With that the call ended, allowing Burnett to set down her burden and turn to her husband.
"Alright, Ash is busy. Have the special guests arrived yet?"
"Their plane will be arriving in an hour. I'm about to head over to the airport. You sure you're alright by yourself? I mean, with the baby-"
"Honestly, you and Ash are one in the same! I may be pregnant, but I can do things for myself!"
"Alright, alright, you win."
With that, Kukui left, Burnett shaking her head.
"Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I put up with him."
Ash trotted home, utterly exhausted. Hala had finally decided on catching a Pokemon for Hau, which was fine...except neither one of them knew what his current team consisted of. So instead of moving on to another idea, Hala insisted on scouring the whole island to try and find the rarest Pokemon. Considering how big it was, and the fact there was only 2 of them, this was easier said than done. By the time Hala had finally let him go, they had nothing to show for their efforts and were thoroughly bruised. Ash looked up at the sky to see the sun starting to go down.
"Great. A whole day wasted."
When he reached the lab, he noticed the house was dark, much to his confusion.
"That's odd. Maybe they're outback?"
He made his way through the house and into the back yard. When he got there...
Ash stumbled back in shock. The whole backyard had been transformed into a party, filled with everyone he'd met on his journey. Gladion, Lillie, Mohn, Lusamine, the trial captains and the Kahunas were all there (Nanu desperately trying to look uninterested, which just looked goofy with a party hat on his head). But that wasn't all.
Ash nearly fainted when he saw every single one of his companions standing. Everyone from Misty and Brock to the Kalos gang were there, something he thought would never happen.
"Happy Birthday, Ash!"
Ash remained silent for a minute, until...
"Wait, today's April 1st?"
Everyone's jaw dropped. They knew he could be dense at times, but even this was a new low.
"How could you forget today was your Birthday?"
Ash chuckled, admitting that it was pretty stupid.
"Well Max, I've been so busy traveling that its hard to keep track of the date. Now enough about that, lets eat!"
Everyone had a good laugh at that. That's their Ash!