“Are you sure you want to leave?” Hiroki asked Satoshi, who was packing his bags in preparation for his trip to the Orange Islands.
“I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life, Hiroki,” Satoshi said emphatically, brushing a stray lock of black hair out of his eyes. “Leaving would be the best thing for me,” he said, placing a neatly folded pair of pants inside his duffel bag. “Since Shigeru and I broke up, there’s nothing more for me here.”
“Oh, your friends aren’t enough, huh?” a familiar female voice said from the door.
“Oh, lay off him, Kasumi,” another voice, this time male, said.
Satoshi and Hiroki turned. “Kasumi!” Satoshi exclaimed. “Takeshi!”
Kasumi and Takeshi stepped into the room. Takeshi said hello to Hiroki while Satoshi wrapped Kasumi up in a big hug, then pulled back, regarding the tall redhead with sparkly eyes. “What are you doing here? I thought you guys were busy manning your gyms!”
“Whoa – wait.” Hiroki interrupted, regarding Takeshi and Kasumi with barely concealed interest. “You’re gym leaders?”
“Oh yeah!” Satoshi said, slapping a hand to his forehead. “I haven’t introduced you yet – Hiroki, this is Kasumi –“ he indicated Kasumi, who smiled. “and Takeshi.” He smiled. “Him, you know.”
Hiroki nodded. “But what I didn’t know was that they were gym leaders.” He turned to Kasumi. “Which gyms do you man?” he asked.
“Well, Takeshi’s the leader of the Nibi City Gym, and I head the Hanada City Gym.” Kasumi explained.
“Honto ni?” Hiroki asked, his eyes wide. He regarded Kasumi with interest. “You’re one of the sensational sisters of Hanada? The famous quartet of Gym Leaders?”
“Well, uh, a – anou, uh, yeah, but – “ Kasumi was flustered.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” Hiroki interrupted, and they all laughed.
Then the conversation took a turn for the serious. “I thought you guys weren’t leaving your gyms until the end of the month.” Satoshi asked Takeshi.
Kasumi opened her mouth to speak, but Takeshi cut her off. “I thought you were staying here in Masara for at least another week.”
Kasumi nodded, eyeing the open duffel bag that sat on Satoshi’s bed. “And it’s a good thing we came early, or otherwise we would have missed you.” Her eyes sparkled and she grew serious. “Why are you leaving all of a sudden?” she asked.
When Satoshi didn’t answer, Kasumi frowned. “Sato – chan?” she prodded.
Satoshi looked up, tears glistening in his eyes. “Shigeru and I broke up,” Satoshi said softly.
Kasumi gasped, Takeshi looked solemn, and Hiroki looked away. “When did you break up?” Kasumi asked.
“Just yesterday,” Satoshi replied, tears in his eyes. Kasumi put an arm around Satoshi’s shoulders. Hiroki gritted his teeth.
“So, anyway.” Takeshi clapped his hands. “Where do you plan to go now?” he asked, deftly changing the subject.
Smiling, Satoshi looked at him greatfully. “I don’t really know,” he shrugged. “Maybe the Orange Islands – try my hand at the Orange League – I’ve been meaning to do that for some tme now...”
Kasumi laughed. “Well, Satoshi, that’s all so convinient, since we’ve got someone here who’s been dying to see you.”
“Who is it?” Satoshi asked eagerly.
“You’ll see. Takeshi?” she asked. Takeshi nodded, and opened the door to reveal a familiar yellow – furred electric mouse standing in the doorway.
“Pikapi!” the mouse yelled, jumping into Satoshi’s arms.
“Pikachuu!” Satoshi cried happily as the little bundle of yellow fur buried itself in Satoshi’s arms, nuzzling his nose into Satoshi’s chest.
“That little mouse has been a bundle of energy all the way here,” Kasumi said, smiling.
“So now that you have Pikachuu back, where are you going now?” Hiroki, who had been silent all this time, folded his arms expectantly.
“It’s off to the Orange Islands – and the Orange League!” Satoshi cried happily, cuddling Pikachuu in his arms.
A few hours later, Satoshi, Kasumi, and Takeshi were at the Vermillion City docks, looking for the boat that would take them to the Orange Islands. When they found it, Takeshi bought the tickets while Satoshi and Kasumi talked to Hiroki and Satoshi’s friend Yui, who had come to see Satoshi off.
“Are you sure there’s nothing we can do to change your mind?” Yui asked hopefully.
Satoshi smiled and shook his head, though in his eyes brimmed hot tears. “Not a chance.”
“Well, then, at least go and win a few matches for us, ne?” Hiroki made a stab at levity.
“Well, Sato – chan, we’d better go if we don’t want to miss the boat,” Kasumi said, and picked up her bag.
Satoshi picked up his bag and Pikachuu scrambled onto his head. After giving Yui a kiss on the cheek and and hugging Hiroki, he followed Kasumi and Takeshi onto the boat.
As the boat’s engines started up and they began to drift into the ocean, Satoshi and Kasumi followed Takeshi down the hall and into the room they had been given. After settling in, Satoshi left Pikachuu with Kasumi and climbed up onto the deck.
As the last dying rays of the sun began to fade, Satoshi leaned on the railing, the sea breezes tousling his hair and whipping his jacket around him, he thought about the events of the past few days. Shigeru. Their date. The storm. Shigeru kissing Makoto. The pain of his breakup with Shigeru.
Gritting his teeth, he looked out at the sea, at the setting sun. Never again would he wallow in those painful memories. Never again.
From now on, he would look to the future – and forget Shigeru forever.
From now on, he would look only to the future.