Well, this has been in production for a LONG time, but I finally finished it today and so thought I'd bestow it upon you unsuspecting shippers out there.
First, some background: this was inspired by my good friend buster_wolf's image of a human-ised Bayleef, whom he affectionately dubbed "Bayleef-tan" (hence the title). His artwork is pretty darn fabulous, and you can check it out at his art thread here, which I highly recommend you do.
Secondly I plan on updating this once a night until it is complete. Considering it's a one-shot it's fairly long, as I wanted to cram in as much detail as possible. Please enjoy and feel free to let me know what you think - good, bad, anything, really.
Oops, almost forgot the disclaimer - I don't own Pokemon, but I do own this fic and my original characters. So please don't steal them.
Without further ado, let the shipping commence!
"I'm home!" Ash's voice rang through the small, quiet house as he entered through the door, barely knocking as he walked through the hallway, Pikachu riding on his head.
Delia Ketchum rarely bothered to lock the front door during the day. Indeed, Pallet Town was such a small and peaceful village that there was really no need - that, and she always had Mr. Mime ready to protect her from any would-be intruders.
Ash removed his cap and allowed Pikachu to jump down onto the soft, welcoming carpet. Pikachu allowed it's paws to sink into the fabric, unwinding and letting out a tiny yawn of contentment as it did so. Ash smiled as he watched the Pokemon and remembered that he wasn't the only one who called this place home.
"Ash?" the boy heard a gentle, feminine voice call out from the general direction of the kitchen. "Ash, is that you?"
Ash grinned to himself and strolled through the hallway to greet his mother, Pikachu following closely behind.
"It's me, Mom," he called as he walked further inside, laying his bag and cap by the front entrance before he forgot, "I'm finally back!"
Delia was washing the dishes in the kitchen sink as Ash entered. She turned and smiled brightly at him, making sure she dried her hands before rushing over and embracing him in a tight hug. Ash hugged back, pleased to be home and back in Kanto.
"So how was your journey?" Delia questioned, bringing the embrace to an end. "You'll have to tell me all about it!"
"It was awesome, Mom," Ash explained excitedly. "Hoenn is just the best - you'd really have liked it there!"
"I'll bet." Delia smiled pleasantly, extending a hand to Pikachu who now stood on the kitchen tabletop. Pikachu squeaked with affection as the young mother's hand tickled the creature playfully.
"Oh, and I caught a ton of new Pokemon, too!" Ash continued, fumbling for his Pokeballs. "I can't wait to introduce them to everyone up at the Oak laboratory!"
"Oh, honey," Delia exclaimed, ruffling Ash's hair. "your other Pokemon will be so pleased to see you! You've been gone so long, you know."
"Heh, yeah..." Ash sighed, a sudden feeling of loneliness washing over him.
He was surprised at himself for suddenly feeling this way, especially at the prospect of seeing all his old Pokemon at Oak's lab in just a short walk up the hill on the outskirts of Pallet, but he couldn't help but miss his friends in Hoenn. There was Brock, there was Max, and - of course - there was May...
Ash's heart sunk slightly at the thought of the young co-ordinator and her little brother. Yes, they'd promised to see each other again, but they lived so far away, and Ash knew his track record of meeting up with old friends was less than perfect. Of course he knew he'd see Brock again, but both May and Max lived in a whole different region...
Delia noticed her son's sudden silence and rubbed his shoulder sympathetically. She knew all too well how it felt to say goodbye, and she also knew just what would cheer the boy up.
"How about I make you a celebratory lunch, Ash?" she suggested, her friendly smile able to brighten up even the cloudiest day. "It's been a long time since you've had one of those, I'll bet."
Ash chuckled, his smile returning almost instantly.
"Yeah, that'll be great, Mom." he admitted, before turning round and heading for the living room, Pikachu in tow.
Delia could hear the sound of the TV begin to blare out from the front room and smiled to herself, happy her son was finally back - for however long it would last, at least. It seemed Ash always had some new adventure ready and waiting for him and he was a rare occurrence around these parts. However long he was here though, Delia was determined to make his stay as enjoyable as possible.
"Oh, by the way, Ash?" she called over the blur of the television set. "The Professor and I have organised a welcome home dinner for you tonight up at the lab."
"Sounds great, Mom!" Ash yelled back.
"Pika pika!" Pikachu chimed in.
"Yep..." the woman chuckled to herself as she reached for the bread knife. "It's good to have you back, Ash..."
That evening Ash found himself sitting in the reception room of Professor's Oak's laboratory, his cap gone and jacket off, instead replaced with a formal, white dress shirt which his mother insisted he wear. He sat on the soft leather couch and leaned over the coffee table with his arms on his legs, locked in deep thought.
"Come on, Ash," Tracey taunted from the other side of the table. "make your move."
"I'm still thinking, alright!?" Ash replied, obviously flustered.
The young trainer stared down at the chess board before him, almost all his pieces wiped out, compared to Tracey's side, which lacked only a few pawns. Reluctantly, Ash soon moved his final knight; a move which proved to be a big mistake.
"Check and mate." Tracey chuckled, knocking down Ash's king with a playful swing. Ash held his head in his hands and groaned.
"Ash, did you lose again?" a young girl's voice floated across the room as Misty entered, placing the cutlery at the large, wooden table in the far corner. "That's the fourth time tonight!"
"I'm a trainer, not a-" Ash paused mid-sentence, pondering his word choice for a moment. "-a chess player."
Tracey laughed, clearing up the pieces and replacing the chess board underneath the table.
"You're getting better, really." he insisted, noticing Ash's enraged expression.
"Don't mind him, Tracey," Misty taunted as she made her way over to the table where the two of them sat. "Ash has never liked losing, though he should be used to it after all those times he lost back when he first started training."
"Hey!" Ash protested, getting to his feet. Both Ash and Misty's eyes met across the room as they exchanged heated glances. "Who placed in the top eight of the Hoenn League Championship!?"
"Who got most of his badges in the Kanto region out of pity?" Misty retorted. She smiled to herself as she spoke. She enjoyed teasing Ash like this, though his reactions were getting almost a little too predictable these days.
"I don't recall getting the Cerulean Gym's badge out of pity!" Ash answered. Pikachu, who was sitting on the chair arm beside it's trainer, let out a sigh.
"Then you must have a different recollection than I do of that day!" Misty laughed back.
As the two trainers argued the ring of the doorbell could be heard from further down the hall. Tracey sheepishly exited the room, glad to finally have an excuse to remove himself from such an uncomfortable atmosphere.
"How about we battle right now, huh?" Ash continued, reaching for one of the Pokeballs at his belt.
"You know I'd love to Ash," Misty giggled, winking at him as if he were a small child. "but you know that as a Gym leader I have to go through the official chains of command before accepting any trainer challenges. You'll have to wait at least a week before my schedule clears up."
"Sounds to me like you're scared I'll beat you!" Ash growled, before being interrupted by a familiar voice.
"Don't tell me you've forgotten Drake's advice already, Ash?" the young girl standing in the centre of the doorway spoke up, prompting both Ash and Misty to flush a deep red.
"Pika!?" Pikachu squeaked in surprise.
The two arguing trainers turned to face the newcomer, though Ash could hardly believe his eyes. Standing there, in the doorway, was May; the girl he'd left in Hoenn - the girl he thought he wouldn't be seeing again for a long time.
Ash grinned, happy to see his friend again, though confused as to how she got here, but he didn't let that small detail worry him.
"May!" he greeted her enthusiastically, running over to her whilst Misty approached casually in the background.
"Drake told you to keep your overconfidence in check, Ash." May teased, winking at him as she spoke.
"How did you get here?" Ash changed the subject, peering behind the girl as if expecting to find an entourage.
"I got a lift with Professor Birch, of course." the girl replied. "He was on his way over to Kanto and Max wanted to see you-" she paused, readjusting her words mid-sentence. "-of course, I wanted to see you, too, and well, if Max and the Professor were coming then-"
"So Max and the Professor are here, too?" Ash double-checked. "That's awesome! I've missed you guys so much!"
"We've only been apart for a couple of weeks, Ash." May insisted, blushing slightly as she spoke. It was rare for Ash to be so up-front about their friendship and she was a little off-balance from hearing it so close-up.
"Pika Pikachu!" Pikachu greeted the girl from atop Ash's shoulder.
"Hiya Pikachu." the girl replied, scratching it's ear.
May peered over Ash's shoulder, noticing Misty standing behind him.
"Hi Misty," she greeted the girl, forcing a smile, "long time no see."
It wasn't that she didn't like Misty - quite the contrary, she rather admired her, especially after all the praise Ash had bestowed upon her during their adventures in Hoenn. But when the group had visited the Mirage Kingdom with her she always seemed somewhat distant and unapproachable.
Granted, she did have a lot on her mind with Togepi leaving her, but still, she never really attempted to integrate into the group and so May was always slightly nervous when seeing her; it felt as if Misty hadn't quite accepted her.
"I'm fine, thanks May." Misty answered back warmly. "It's good to see you again."
Ash sidled past May, excusing himself from the conversation as he was eager to see Max. As soon as he was out into the hallway he discovered Tracey at the front door being interrogated by both the Professor and May's little brother.
"Professor Birch, Max!" he called over.
The two greeted the trainer happily, Max dashing over and patting Pikachu on the head as the small rodent jumped down to greet the boy.
"It's good to see you again, Ash." Birch chuckled in his usual, happy-go-lucky way. "Feels good to be back home, I'll bet."
"Heh, yeah." Ash grinned as he spoke. "But I'll be entering the Battle Frontier soon."
"The Battle Frontier, eh?" Birch echoed. "That'll be quite a challenge, Ash. The trainers there are no pushovers."
"I wouldn't have it any other way!" Ash pumped his fist, the thought of another intense Pokemon battle easily getting him fired up.
"Okay everyone, dinner's ready!" Ash's Mom called from the kitchen, prompting both Ash and May to simultaneously dash towards the source of food.
"Heh," Max chortled, watching the two of them, "nothing changes."
"Pika..." Pikachu agreed.
The sound of happy gatherings and celebrations could be heard echoing throughout Professor Oak's vast Pokemon reserve. Outside the stars were blinking, carpeting the darkened sky with tiny jewels of light, the light of the moon casting down shadows on two figures standing just outside Professor Oak's dining area.
"Bulbasaur..." Ash's Bulbasaur sighed, looking up towards it's companion.
Bayleef stared cautiously through the glass window, making sure she couldn't be seen. The warm glow of the open fireplace could still be felt even from outside but that only served to make the Pokemon feel even more lonely and miserable.
Bayleef watched as Ash's friends and family all gathered round him, congratulating him on a tremendous run through the Hoenn League Championships. Indeed, he'd proven himself as a great trainer to be knocked out in the qualifying rounds of the Ever Grande tournament and Bayleef was proud of him, though somewhat angry that she hadn't been a part of his winning team.
"Bulba!" Bulbasaur snapped below. Due to it's small height it was proving difficult to be able to peer through the window and Bayleef refused to let it ride on her back. "Bulbasaur!"
"Bay..." Bayleef ignored the creature below and merely continued to sigh as she watched Ash eat, happily surrounded by the people he loved the most.
Bayleef's sad look soon turned to an angry one, however, when she saw Pikachu dashing across the floor, chasing Misty's Azurill playfully. How could Ash choose Pikachu over her!?
Bulbasaur could sense the creature's anger and gently patted it on the back with it's vine.
"Bulba," it reassured her. "Bulbasaur Bulba Bulba, Bulbasaur!"
"Bay!" Bayleef hissed back, then sighed.
She hated to admit it, but it was getting late and Bulbasaur was anxious to get back to the safety of the forest.
"Oh, please, it's enough to make even a Luvdisc embarrassed!" came a patronizing female voice from high above the two Grass-type Pokemon. Bayleef and Bulbasaur both turned sharply and stared up at the owner of this new voice, and both of them were surprised to discover that it belonged to a Pokemon the likes of which neither of them had ever seen before.
"Bulba!" Bulbasaur snarled, stamping its feet protectively as the Pokemon glided down for a closer look at the two of them, its misty black body hovering several inches above the ground like an elegant black ballroom gown.
"Temper temper, short stuff." the dark-purple Pokemon responded, sending a haunting wink Bulbasaur's way before shifting her attention to Bayleef. "My, my, what a classic fairytale dilemma. A Pokemon in love with its trainer - a human!"
Bayleef growled angrily, but this growl soon became a whimper as she stared down at the floor, shifting her feet as the uncomfortable truth of the strange Pokemon's words dug into her.
"Bet you wish you were born a Gardevoir right about now, huh?" the Pokemon continued, laughing slightly as she adjusted her pointed hat and brushed some stray black locks of hair away from her face, her ominous, red eyes meeting with Bayleef's.
"Of course..." the Ghost-type continued, a coy smile crossing her ethereal lips. "If you wanted to I could always... Make you human..."
Bayleef's eyes widened with a look of hope at this suggestion and began to jump on the spot enthusiastically.
"Woah, calm down, big girl." the Pokemon chuckled before continuing. "Even my magic is limited, but I can grant you just one day in the form of a human... Well, as human as I can make you..."
"Bay!" Bayleef agreed, nodding energetically. "Bayleef, Bay Bay, Leef!"
"Bulba!" Bulbasaur protested, poking Bayleef's leg with one of its vines angrily. "Bulbasaur, Bulba Bulba, Saur Bulbasaur!"
"Oh don't dampen the mood, shorty!" the eery spectre interrupted, yawning. "Listen just think of me as this poor Bayleef's fairy godmother. I just want to see her happy is all!"
"Bulba..." Bulbasaur growled warily, though Bayleef paid no heed to the small creatures warnings and immediately agreed to the stranger's conditions.
"Alright..." the female ghost giggled, forming a sphere of dark energy in front of her which seemed to pulse and glow, reflecting a negative image of Bayleef as she stared inside of its seemingly never-ending depths. "Just to clarify this is only gonna last a day... So if I were you I'd give it your best shot to reel this guy in. Walk around naked, pretend to be interested in what he has to say, you know, sappy stuff like that."
With sudden uncertainty Bayleef slowly reached out towards the dark orb, her nerves beginning to creep steadily over her. What if this was a mistake? What if this Pokemon was simply trying to trick her? Could she really take that chance?
Bayleef's eyes darted back through the window, watching Ash smile as he was surrounded by the human girls while she was left out in the cold... With a growl, her mind was set.
"Bay!" she yelled, charging straight into the ghost's magical incantation and causing the Grass-type's entire body to shift and meld. A bright, white light began to grow in intensity and slowly encompassed the entire area before suddenly vanishing, along with the ghost who made it all possible.
Slowly Bulbasaur opened its eyes and examined his surroundings. When it focused on the area where Bayleef had once been standing, its eyes widened in disbelief at what had taken her place.
Standing before the small Pokemon was now what appeared to be a young human girl, though her skin had a greenish hue and sprouting from her luxurious, dark-green hair was a large leaf which looked identical to the one which had once crowned Bayleef's head. She stood at just over four feet in height, making her rather small for a human girl but still allowing her to show off her slender body, which was currently lacking any clothing to cover it up.
The girl, who Bulbasaur could only assume was the result of the ghost girl's magical trickery, stood admiring her new form for a moment, unable to help a huge grin cover her face. She turned towards Bulbasaur, beaming at the Pokemon, before happily speaking up.
"Bay!" she declared ecstatically. "Bayuriifu!! ...Bay?"
The girl's voice suddenly held a puzzled tone as she tried to speak in the human tongue but continued to fail. She didn't understand... She knew all the words, so why couldn't she just say them?
"Hey, I told you there were limitations!" the ghost protested nervously as both Bayleef and Bulbasaur gave her a glare which could carve through a Aggron. "Come on, it's not as if he's going to listen to what you have to say anyway. Once he gets a look at that body he'll forget all about those scrawny little kids he's with now!"
"Bulba!" Bulbasaur growled, stamping its feet in preparation for an attack before Bayleef stopped it.
"Heh, good to see one of you has some brains at least..." the ghost chuckled. "Alright little lady... You have twenty-four hours to charm your way to his heart, so good luck. I, uh..."
Bayleef watched the ghost curiously as she spoke.
"I... Believe in you, or something. Heck, I don't know. I just wanted to sound cool."
With those final words the Pokemon vanished into the shadows from whence it came, leaving Bayleef and Bulbasaur both standing outside the window as they were before.