(contains spoilers for Sun and Moon)
“Sir?” came the quivering voice of a Team Rocket grunt as he entered the foreboding control room of a secret fortress hidden beneath Viridian City, approaching a well-mannered man seated before a large set of observation monitors. The leader of the organisation, Giovanni.
The grunt held in his hand an envelope.
“We intercepted this at the Alola depot, like you instructed”
“Read what it says” Giovanni commanded.
The officer saluted him and tore open the envelope, revealing a letter, he read it aloud.
Lately you’ve been hard to reach, and I hope this letter finds you.
More to the point, I hope you reply this time.
I need you to.
Because I did it.
Your best boy made you proud, you and mom both. I won the Alola Pokémon league. My sixth tournament overall, and my first major win.
I know my mom always reminded me of my triumphs in the Orange continent and at the Battle Frontier, and if I was being honest, while a lot of aspiring trainers might turn their noses at minor accomplishments like that, I personally think winning them taught me to appreciate small victories, because being frank, the pressures of a major win like this are very demanding.
There’s an expectation on me now, amateur hour is over. Now my friends and family need to see how I handle life on the road as a pro. Part of me wants to say ‘this is it tonight Dad, we’re on equal footing, we’re masters now you and I’, but I’ve come to accept winning a league does not a Pokémon master make. It’s everything in between the journey and the competitions that put you in that position.
I hope that’s a lesson you’ve learned too, because I can only speculate as to what you actually think at this point, you don’t ever seem to show up to give me your thoughts, and not even for this day of days.
Mom was there, Oak was there, but you weren’t. You have got to realise just how much that hurts, I sometimes wonder if you like the others who couldn’t attend, were watching on television, or couldn’t bear to watch if you were. I’d been accustomed to disappointment so many times, even when I climbed up the ranks each time, from 16 at Kanto, to 2nd at Kalos, It was as if the back of my mind wouldn’t permit me to consider going beyond that.
When I was announced as the winner, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I just stood there, barely acknowledging the roar of the crowd, I was going through mental gymnastics, that persistence in the back of my mind that I shouldn’t grow past a certain point had called to me and said ‘you’ve earned it’, only then could I celebrate.
I’d been trying so hard to make myself better, without anyone holding my hand, not you, Misty, Brock, May, Dawn…maybe that’s why they stayed away, maybe they thought I’d rely too much on them to coddle me, tease me, teach me, and this time I had to graduate on my own merits.
That’s what I did Dad. I went back to school, and I graduated.
I’ve come home so many times from so many triumphs and defeats, I’ve wrote to you so many times, each instance comes with no response.
I can’t be mad at you though, because every bit of who I am is who you are at your core. Caring, selfless, proud, that’s what my mom always says.
I know you’re proud of me, I know this day will touch you. The life of an aspiring Pokémon trainer, master or champion means you miss out on a lot of comforts at home, chances to meet friends, connect with a loved one, but what binds us all is our unconditional tenacity to cherish every opportunity we’re given to explore this wondrous world, and to bond to the people, and Pokémon, we meet along the way.
Wherever you are, love is forever
“Is that all?” Giovanni asked.
“Good, that will be all”
“Sir, aren’t you going to respond?”
“That. Will. Be. All” Giovanni repeated, this time in a strikingly fierce tone of voice that compelled the agent to scamper.
He placed one hand on his chin, and tapped a few buttons on the controls before him, searching through his archives of prior tournament losses, wins and draws for Ash, and observing his despondent reactions each time.
Ash had been conquered many times, now that was too was in his past. Now he was the conqueror.
Giovanni couldn’t be not only more proud, but more driven.
Driven to expand his organisation’s influence in Alola, to protect its interests and its schools, and to find a way of enhancing his son’s reputation in the region to quasi biblical status.
Alola’s social media, news outlets, actors in its television department, all of that could run with the story of a boy’s ascent to manhood through hard work, perseverance, and a total unwavering devotion to family, even an absent father.
Love is forever.
An ideal response.