moderation in sunshine

Beach Day

Summary: Ash and his Pokémon decide to spend one of his days off from school by having a beach day. It’s Ash versus Litten in a ball game and getting more than they expected from the ocean. To end the day it’s a mad search for Rowlet after Ash’s bag gets taken. It wasn’t the day they intended to have, but they were together, and that was all that mattered.

Pikachu and Rockruff scampered across the cement, Litten tailing just behind them, playfully nipping at their tails. Ash was a few feet behind them, burdened down with an umbrella and a burgundy duffel bag.

“Don’t go too far into the road guys!” he called.

“Temperatures show that today will be a perfect day,” said Rotom cheerfully. “Blue skies, moderate temperature and sunshine!”

“Guess we picked the right time to go the beach,” said Ash with a grin.

They went down the steps leading to the sprawling golden sand that stretched out to meet a crystal blue ocean. Litten caught Rockruff and tackled it to the sand. Pikachu attempted to help by latching onto Litten’s back, but the Fire Cat Pokémon did not give up so easily.

Laughing at their antics, Ash set up the red polka-dotted umbrella, giving them a nice area of shade to relax under if they got too hot. He spread out his towel and kicked off his flip flops, sinking his toes into the warm sand. He gently set his backpack beside the duffel bag and unzipped it, revealing a slumbering Rowlet.

“We’re here, Rowlet.” Ash lifted it from his bag and rubbed its head. “Come on, you don’t want to miss all the fun we’re going to have, do you?”

Rowlet’s eyes fluttered open and he let out a soft coo. Shaking out its feathers, it stretched out its wings and flew into the air, chirping happily.

“All right you guys!” Ash said, clapping his hands together. “What do you want to do first?”

“Let’s see what kinds of shells we can find!” suggested Rotom.

“Pika!” Pikachu pointed towards the water, the waves lapping gently across the surface. “Chu!”

Litten stretched out across the sand, letting out a yawn. Rowlet hopped over to it and curled up against its side, promptly falling asleep again.

“I think Rowlet must be the greatest sleeper there ever was,” said Rotom in awe.

“We can’t just sleep,” chided Ash. “It wouldn’t be much of a beach day if we just did that.”

Rockruff bounded over to the duffel bag and tugged on the zipper. It stuck its head inside and ruffled through the contents, soon coming up with a red ball. It put it near Ash’s feet and said eagerly, “Ruff! Ruff ruff!”

“Yeah! How about we play ball first!” exclaimed Ash. “We can be on teams!”

Litten perked up at that, always ready to take part in a competition. “Mreow,” it agreed, standing up and causing Rowlet to tip to the sand.

“Pika pika!” Pikachu nodded.

“A game of ball sounds like fun!” said Rotom.

“Great!” Ash went a distance away from where they had set up their rest area and drew a line in the sand with his toe. “Okay, who wants to be on my team?”

Litten shook its head, drawing its own line in the sand with its paw. “Mreow.”

“All right, I’ll be a captain and Litten can be a captain.” Ash glanced at Pikachu. “What do you say, buddy? Want to be on my team?”

Pikachu shook his head. “Chu.” He went over to stand beside Litten. “Pikachu, pika pika.”

“Hey, I have just a good a chance at winning as Litten does!” protested Ash.

Litten snorted. Rotom displayed a percentage on its screen, saying, “Actually, there’s a very slim chance that you would win against Litten. About twenty percent, I’d say.”

Ash’s face fell. “That’s it?”

“Well, maybe twenty-five.”

At Litten snickering, Ash glared at it determinedly. “You’re not going to win so easily, just you wait.”

Chirping, Rowlet flew up and landed on Ash’s shoulder. “Chrrr.”

“Yeah, Rowlet knows what’s up.” Ash lightly tapped his hand against Rowlet’s outstretched wing for a high-five.

“Sorry Ash, but data rarely lies.” Rotom drifted over to hover behind Litten and Pikachu. “We have better chances with Litten on our side.”

“You want to help us beat these three, Rockruff?” asked Ash.

Rockruff bounced up and down. “Ruff! Ruff ruff ruff!”

“Then let’s do this!” Ash pumped a fist. “We’ll show you guys!”

We’ll see about that, thought Litten with a smirk.

Rockruff and Pikachu squared off for the ball first. Pikachu knocked it away from Rockruff and started hurrying towards the goal, hitting the ball along with his tail. Rockruff immediately spun around and went to intercept him, tackling Pikachu away from the ball.

“Good job Rockruff!” cheered Ash.

Rowlet swooped in and snatched the ball up with its talons. It sped towards Litten’s goal and Ash ran under it, ready to catch the ball should it slip from Rowlet’s grasp. “That’s it Rowlet! Keep going!”

“I’ll take that!”

Rotom ducked underneath Rowlet and grabbed hold of the ball. It didn’t get far, Ash leaping up to grab hold of it. “Ha! Gotcha, Rotomdex!”

“Passing route open! Go Litten!” called Rotom, managing to pass the ball to the waiting Fire Cat Pokémon.

Litten snatched it with its mouth and took off, racing across the sand. Rowlet used its speed to catch up to Litten, but before it could grab the ball it was tossed across the goal line, scoring Litten’s team the first point.

“Ah man!” said Ash.

“I told you!” spoke Rotom. “Litten’s competitive spirit makes it really good at games!”

“I’ve got just as much competitive spirit!” countered Ash. “The game’s not over yet!”

Rowlet and Rotom fought for the ball next. Rowlet darted forwards and grabbed hold of the ball, swerving around Rotom and flying into the air. Pikachu and Litten hurried after it, but Rockruff and Ash blocked their way. Rotom sped after Rowlet, managing to wrestle the ball from its grasp.

“Look out below!”

It dropped the ball towards Pikachu. Pikachu jumped up to get it but Ash shot out an arm and caught it. He spun on his heel and hurried for the goal, Pikachu and Litten in hot pursuit. Pikachu leapt up and tackled Ash in his mid-back, sending them both towards the sand.

“Go Rockruff!” cried Ash, tossing the ball towards his Puppy Pokémon.

Rockruff got the ball between its teeth and charged off. Litten also went in for a tackle but Rockruff was too close to the goal, managing to throw it across the line as they rolled across the ground.

“All right!” cheered Ash. “We got a point too!”

The game continued and soon the score was eight to six, with Litten’s team winning. They were all covered in sand, sweaty and panting. Rowlet collapsed to the ground, letting out an exhausted chirp. Rockruff nudged it, giving an encouraging bark.

“Rockruff’s right, it’s not over yet,” said Ash, rubbing the sweat from his brow. “We can still win!”

He moved forwards to face off against Litten, the ball resting between them. Litten’s eyes narrowed. “Mreow.”

“And…go!” called Rotom.

Ash immediately kicked the ball into the air and he stretched out his arms to catch it. Litten arched his back and fired an Ember attack, nailing Ash directly in the face. Yelping in pain, Ash waved his arms wildly and raced towards the water, where he extinguished the flames. Litten had taken possession of the ball and charged towards the goal, Rotom and Pikachu keeping Rockruff and Rowlet at bay.

“No fair!” gasped Ash as Litten scored another point, scrubbing the water drops from his face. “That’s cheating!”

Pikachu looked at Litten reprovingly. “He’s right.”

Litten shrugged. “He didn’t say we couldn’t use our moves. We’re already going to win, I’m just speeding up the process.”

“You want to play that way, huh?” said Ash. “All right. I’ve got some moves of my own.”

Litten eyed its Trainer’s mischievous smile, suspicion growing within it. “What does that mean?”

Pikachu only smiled. “You’ll see.”

Rowlet and Rotom went against each other for the ball and Rotom grabbed hold of it first. It sped for the goal but Rockruff intercepted it, leaping up and latching onto Rotom. “Hey!” cried Rotom. “Don’t bite me! I am not a chew toy!”

Taking advantage of this distraction Rowlet took hold of the ball. Litten hurried after it, preparing to make a jump.

“Body Slam attack!”

Litten snapped its head around, eyes widening as Ash dove towards it. Rolling across the sand, Ash kept Litten pressed securely against his chest. Litten let out a yowl of protest, digging its claws into Ash’s arm in an attempt to get him to let go.

“I don’t think so!” laughed Ash.

Pikachu tried to leap up to get to Rowlet, but the Grass Quill Pokémon flew out of reach. It dropped the ball past the goal line and spun in an excited circle, chirping happily.

“Great job Rowlet!” praised Ash.

His grip on Litten loosened and he idly rubbed the red marks Litten had left on his arm. It nudged his hand aside and apologetically licked at the wounds. “Mreow.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it. They don’t hurt.” Ash stroked Litten’s ears. “So, what did you think of my attack?”

Not very effective,” answered Litten.

“I thought it was pretty good.”

Rowlet lay sprawled in the sand, promptly falling asleep. Pikachu lay over Rockruff’s back, letting out an exhausted sigh. Rotom hovered near Ash and said, “My energy levels are depleting as well.”

“Think maybe we can call it a draw?” Ash asked. When Litten gave him a flat look, Ash rolled his eyes playfully. “Fine. You win.” He tapped Litten’s nose. “But just wait until next time.”

“Mreow,” returned Litten smugly, lightly nipping at Ash’s finger.

“I think it’s a good time to cool off,” said Ash, getting to his feet. “What do you say, Pikachu?”

“Pika!” said Pikachu with a nod.

Ash and Pikachu charged into the water, kicking up a spray as they went. Rockruff nudged Rowlet awake and the pair played in the shallow end. Litten settled just out of reach of the water and observed the action, licking at its fur.

“This feels great,” sighed Ash in contentment. He floated on his back, the water a cool relief against his warm skin.

“Chu,” agreed Pikachu, paddling through the ocean.

For a while they just relaxed. Pikachu climbed onto Ash’s stomach to rest. Rowlet and Rockruff splashed each other. Litten basked in the rays of the sun and Rotom snapped some pictures. The peaceful atmosphere was disturbed when the water suddenly started to get choppy, rocking Ash underneath the surface.

“Hey!” he spluttered. “What’s going on?”

Pikachu waded beside him and let out a warning cry. “Pikapi!”

Ash looked over his shoulder, eyes widening at the wave that was bearing down on them. “Whoa!”

All he had time to do was to grab onto Pikachu before they were pummelled down into the water. Ash hastily kicked his way back to the surface and gasped for breath. He turned towards the shoreline, heart dropping into his stomach when the rest of his Pokémon were not in sight.

“Litten! Rowlet! Rockruff! Rotom!”

Rowlet surfaced first, chirping in panic as his feathers were damp and heavy. Ash immediately seized it, moving it to rest on his shoulder. Rotom and Rockruff came up next, Rockruff holding a flailing Litten by the scruff of its neck.

“Bzzzt, system flooded, bzzzt!”

Rotom’s voice grew high-pitched and nearly unintelligible, as it always tended to when it was panicked, confused or frazzled. It flew around in a mad dash, dazed and disoriented. Grabbing Rockruff and Litten with one arm, Ash used the other to take hold of Rotom.

“Rotomdex, you’re okay! Calm down! Pikachu, can you hold it?”

Pikachu nodded and kept a grip on the frazzled Rotom Pokédex. Using his free arm Ash swam to shore, crawling onto the sand. Litten shook itself out, hissing in annoyance. “Are you guys okay?” asked Ash anxiously.

“Chrrr,” said Rowlet with a nod. Rockruff gave a cheerful bark, hardly bothered, but Litten’s back was arched with agitation. Ash gathered it into his arms, smoothing his fingers through Litten’s fur.

“I forgot to calculate the percentage of gusts for the afternoon,” sighed Rotom.

“How are you feeling?”

“Fine! I’m mostly waterproof, but I still don’t like water.”

“Good,” said Ash in relief. “I think we’ve had enough of the ocean for today. I don’t know about you, but I’m starved. Let’s have some lunch.”

They settled under the umbrella and Ash wrapped a soaked Litten up in a spare towel. He took out some containers of Pokémon food and his Pokémon started to eat. Ash dug a sandwich from the duffel bag and took a bite. “Yum! This is great!”

He finished his lunch and noticed Rotom roving across the beach, shifting away the sand in search for something. Ash went over to join it. “What’s up?”

“I’m looking to see what kinds of shells are on this particular beach.”

“Why?” asked Ash curiously.

“I want to collect as much information on the ecosystem and see what attracts certain kind of Pokemon to live here.”

“Oh wow, cool! I’ll help!”

Ash looked near the edge of the water, plucking up the different coloured shells that washed ashore. After eating their fill, his Pokémon also joined in, digging in the sand to see what they could uncover. Soon there was a pile of pretty seashells for Rotom to sort through and take pictures of.

“There’s all kinds of shells here!” said Rotom happily. “Thanks for your help!”

“No problem!” said Ash. “It was fun!”

A smooth, round, dark blue shell flecked with red caught Rotom’s eye. It picked it up and studied it. “I’ve never seen a shell like this before.”

“It is different,” agreed Ash.

Rotom took a picture of it before holding it out. “Here!”

Surprised, Ash took the shell Rotom handed to him. “You want me to have this? Really?”

“I’m not sure why, but there’s something about it that makes me think of you.”

“Thanks a lot, Rotom!” Ash carefully slipped the shell in the pocket of his swim trunks. “Do you need any more shells?”

“I’ve got plenty of data!”

“Then what should we do now?”

Rowlet stretched out its wings with a yawn. It went over to where Ash’s backpack lay on the sand, unzipped halfway, and buried itself inside the material. Feeling the fatigue in his bones, Ash suddenly found the fluffy towel sprawled out to be very inviting.

“That’s not a bad idea. I could use a nap. What about you guys?”

The rest of his Pokémon nodded. Ash went and laid down on the towel, the cover of the umbrella protecting him from the sun’s rays. Rowlet was already fast asleep, comfortably settled in Ash’s backpack. Rockruff and Pikachu lay across Ash’s stomach and Litten was curled against his side. Rotom powered down near Ash’s feet and soon the group fell into a fitful slumber.

“La di di, la la la!”

“Darling, don’t swing your backpack around like that!”

But the woman’s order went unheeded by the young girl, who continued to hum and skip along the boardwalk that stretched the length of the beach. Her grip on the strap of her bag loosened and it went flying from her fingers, sailing over the edge and onto the sandy terrain below. “Oh no!”

“Leia, what did I tell you?” snapped her mother, clearly annoyed. “Hurry and go retrieve it.”

Leia quickly obeyed, finding the nearest flight of wooden steps that led downwards. She immediately spotted her bag, which had fallen next to a sleeping boy and his Pokémon. Eyes lighting up, she instinctively went to stroke the cute, adorable Pikachu.

“Leia,” hissed her mother from above. “It’s rude to touch a Trainer’s Pokémon without asking him first! And the boy’s sleeping, don’t disturb him!”

Pouting, Leia grabbed hold of her bag and raced back to her mother, not realizing that an identical one was draped across a red duffel bag on the other side of the Trainer.

“Pikapi! Pika pika!”

Ash reacted to the urgent shaking of his arm, sitting up and rubbing at his sleepy eyes. “What’s wrong?” he asked groggily.

Pikachu jabbed towards the backpack, its unfamiliar scent having been the first thing the Pokémon noticed when they woke up. “Pikachu!” he exclaimed in worry.

“This isn’t your backpack!” informed Rotom.

“What do you mean?” asked Ash in confusion. “Of course it’s my bag.” He stood up and went over, gently nudging Rockruff and Litten out of the way. “See? Inside is—” He paused as he reached inside and removed a plush Chansey doll. “…a toy? This isn’t mine.”

“Exactly what I was telling you,” said Rotom. “Somehow your bag got mixed up with someone else’s!”

It took a second for Ash to process what Rotom was saying and his eyes tripled in size. “Rowlet! Someone took my Rowlet! Let’s go!”

He took off running across the sand. Rockruff, Litten and Pikachu hurried after him and Rotom spared a moment to grab the strange backpack. “Wait! Ash!”

Ash ran down the boardwalk, looking around wildly. He couldn’t see anyone in the crowd holding his backpack and when he reached an intersection in town he came to halt, having no idea where to go. “Oh man. If Team Rocket is behind this, I’m gonna…”


Litten and the others caught up to Ash. The Fire Cat Pokémon took the backpack from Rotom and dropped it in front of Rockruff. “Mreow.”

Ash smacked his fist into the palm of his hand. “That’s right! Rockruff can track down the owner of this bag by its smell! Good thinking, Litten!”

“That’s what I was trying to tell you,” huffed Rotom. “But you ran off without a plan!”

That’s Ash for you,” remarked Pikachu. “Can you find Rowlet, Rockruff?”

I’ll do my best,” said Rockruff determinedly.

It gave the bag a good whiff before pressing its nose against the pavement. It moved slowly at first, trying to pick up the trail. Ash stayed close behind, fists clenching and unclenching with agitation, hating not knowing where his Pokémon was.

Rockruff let out a sudden bark, tail wagging rapidly. It took off, sharply rounding a corner. “Let’s go!” cried Ash.

People jumped out of the way for the boy in swim trunks, his Pokémon and his Pokédex. Stones dug into Ash’s bare feet but he paid the sting no mind.

We’re coming Rowlet!

They snaked their way through town, bolting down alleys and charging through markets. Eventually they came upon a stretch of road, where a bus was idling at the stop. Climbing onto the bus was a woman and a little girl—a girl that was holding Ash’s backpack.

“Hey! Wait!” cried Ash.

But they didn’t hear him calling out and boarded the transport. There was a hiss as the doors began to close and Ash turned on the jets, sprinting down the cement and making a last-second leap. He wedged himself between the gap, managing to keep the doors from closing.

“Hey kid, what do you think you’re doing?” snapped the bus driver.

“Sorry,” wheezed Ash, rubbing his arm as the doors parted again. “I have to get on.”

He hastily went down the aisle, his Pokémon following after him. His eyes locked onto the little girl sitting at the back of the bus with her mother, backpack in her lap. “Excuse me!”

“Yes?” the woman asked. “Can we help you?”

“Yes. See, you have my backpack.”

“They somehow got switched up,” said Rotom, floating forwards with the second bag.

Leia’s eyes widened. “Oh no! I’m sorry!”

“It’s okay. How about we trade?” suggested Ash.

They switched backpacks and Leia unzipped hers, revealing her doll. Her mother gasped softly when Ash unzipped his, revealing a slumbering Rowlet. “Oh my! We didn’t realize there was a Pokémon in there! She dropped her bag from the boardwalk and must have grabbed what she thought was hers!”

“It’s no problem,” assured Ash. “I got Rowlet back and that’s what matters.”

He lifted the Grass Quill Pokémon and stroked its feathers. Rowlet stirred and blinked its eyes open, cooing in puzzlement at the new surroundings. “Chrr?”

“You gave me a scare, Rowlet.”

“Pikachu!” Pikachu jumped up onto Ash’s shoulder and nuzzled the top of Rowlet’s head.

Litten and Rockruff wiggled their way into Ash’s arms and cuddled close to Rowlet. Rockruff rubbed against its side while Litten pawed at it. “You should be more aware of your surroundings,” it rebuked lightly.

Rowlet tilted its head to the side. “What happened?”

You got lost but we found you,” said Rockruff cheerfully.

“The odds of getting identical bags mixed up is actually pretty slim,” remarked Rotom. “And the way this mix-up happened is really rare!”

Don’t worry about it,” said Pikachu, seeing Rowlet’s confusion. “Everything’s fine.”

“Kid! You need to sit down while the bus is moving!”

Ash automatically dropped into the closest spare seat, realizing for the first time that the scenery out the window was blurring by. “Oops. Um, sir? When will the next stop be?”

“Ten minutes away.”

The island was awash with an orange glow by the setting sun and was quickly turning dark. “I don’t think we’ll make it back by curfew,” said Ash. “I’m sure Professor Kukui will understand.”

I don’t think he’ll believe this,” said Litten dryly.

“Can I pet your Pikachu?” asked Leia eagerly.

Ash extended his arm, letting Pikachu walk across to get his head scratched by Leia. “He likes that.”

“Your Pokémon are all so cute,” admired Leia. “I can’t wait to be a Trainer!”

“I can,” her mother muttered under her breath.

“You’ll be one before you know it,” promised Ash. “Even if the wait seems like forever.”

The bus arrived at its next stop and the group got off, waving goodbye to Leia. As the vehicle chugged up the slope, Ash slung his backpack over his shoulders. “Sorry guys. This isn’t exactly how I expected our beach day to go.”

I had fun!” said Pikachu.

Yeah! We should do it again!” agreed Rockruff, bouncing up and down.

I wouldn’t mind beating you at ball again,” returned Litten with a smile.

“I would say this day was one-hundred percent successful,” declared Rotom.

I like the beach! It’s a nice place for a nap!” said Rowlet.

Ash laughed. “I had a great time too. What do you think guys? Should we wait for the next bus or should we walk?”

Litten, Rowlet, Pikachu and Rockruff exchanged a look. Smiling mischievously, they all started running down the hill. Startled for only a moment, Ash laughed and cried, “A race it is! Come on Rotomdex!”

“Ah! Wait for me!”

The sun dipped gently below the horizon, casting a final glow over the boy and his family, closing yet another chapter in their journey.