This is just something I thought up while trying to get rid of my writer's block. Also to help with the 'peace' between shippings. Lol, I don't mind anything, so long as it's a good read. Let's see what you think of this. Enjoy!
It wasn't right. The sun shining brightly, one of the brightest that the city of Rustboro had seen. Air and tree dwelling Pokémon were happily prancing about, enjoying the perfect breeze. Laughter echoed in every corner, happy gossip sprang from every path, playful yells rang through the streets; it was the very essence of happiness. It was so wrong. Even the water inside her body yearned to join the merriment outside, escaping her dark, dank depression in a steady stream of tears, but she made no effort to try and stop them. What was the point? There was no point, not anymore.
The room next to the video phone was deserted. Who would want to come inside a boring old building when the outside world was so full of life. Life. Something he no longer had. Something she'd gladly give away to be with him again. And water poured on out in its tireless flow. She subconsciously wrapped her arms tighter around the small yellow Pokémon in her lap, missing her own enormously. Pikachu, usually one of the perkiest of the group, was now completely silent. It hadn't said a word since last night.
May felt her eyes burn once more as the melancholy washed over her one more time. It was all her fault, her complete and utter fault, and nothing anyone said would ever change her mind. She would never see any of them again. Why had she been so stupid? Why had she sent him? Why had he listened to her? Why had he been so damn caring? Why couldn't he have just refused? Why couldn't he have been a jerk? 'But,' she thought, ending her barricade of questions. 'if he had been, I'd never have fallen in love with him.' The lump in her throat expanded, making it hurt. She had never loathed herself more. Never. She was always positive, and her confidence had only grown by travelling with Ash. He had opened her eyes to the world's brilliant colors, but soon, the world had turned on him. And her eyes were closed once more.
She had never felt so broken or lost, not once in her sixteen year old life. She felt she had aged almost fifty years, lost her childhood, her chance at living, her chance at love. She squeezed her eyes shut, clutching Pikachu even closer. It must be on the verge of suffocation, but it never let out a squirm, and it had known Ash even longer than Brock had. It was probably taking it the worst. What was going through the little Pokémon's head?
"I'm so, so sorry, Pikachu." She breathed to the little mouse. "This is all my fault. All of my doing."
"Chu." It said back, lightly brushing the tip of its ears against her cheek, but she could feel its lack of enthusiasm, knew that it was at a loss of what to do without someone to look up to. But still it remained in her arms and she knew it needed her comfort as much as she needed its'. One night. That's all it had taken for her whole world to be roughly shaken then turned upside down.
May felt Pikachu twitch slightly as she heard the electric doors slide open and someone step in. But why in the world would she give a second long care? It was probably a trainer wanting to call home and give updates about the newest badges, gym leaders, Pokémon…Ash would have loved to engage whatever stranger it was head on in conversation. Anything that would help him in gaining another badge to aid him in his never-ending quest at becoming the world's best trainer. 'Stop it!' She scolded herself as more tears leaked out of her bloodshot eyes. 'You'll get yourself dehydrated.' Was that even possible? But why would that stop her hollowed heart from emptying further? She mutely hugged Pikachu tight, burying her tearstained face into its forever soft fur.
The mouse Pokémon reminded her so much of Ash. You could never see one without the other. He had always taken fantastic care of his Pokémon. Unlike her. He'd never have left one back on the island. Never had she seen as much devotion, as much care and affection to one being in her whole life as Ash gave to his Pokémon, especially Pikachu. She felt despair rise through her once more. He had always found a way to overcome problems. If there was one piece of advice he remained firmly on, it was to never, ever give up, even if the odds were against you. Why couldn't she be like that? 'But what can I do Ash,' she thought sullenly. 'I'm so deeply lost without you, guiding the way…even if you didn't care if you took a wrong turn and got us lost, but as long as your mind was set, you'd be happy. God, I miss you so much.'
'Don't think about that.' She yelled, as her heart gave an uncomfortable jolt and her shoulders shook. 'You'll kill yourself.' But a little voice in her head kept telling her that she didn't really care. No Pokémon and no Ash; what was there left to live for?
Suddenly she felt warmth on her shoulder. Her eyes snapped open to meet the coat of warm, golden fur of Ash's Pikachu. Only one person came to mind when it came to comforting. Could it be? Had the heavens really opened up to her prayers and sent him back? She was about to turn her head when a kind, unfamiliar voice started.
"Excuse me." It was a woman. "Sweetheart, what's wrong?"
May scolded herself for thinking the impossible. There were other people on Earth besides him and her. She kept her head buried in the fur coat, knowing her voice would be indecipherable, which was why Brock was the one using the video phone in the next room. She didn't feel like talking anyway. Nothing anyone said would make her feel better, not if they couldn't bring him back, or at least undo her stupidity. She tried remaining as still as possible, not replying, tears still spilling, hoping against hope the lady would leave her be. She could handle herself; that much Ash had taught her to do.
Clearly the woman understood. "Alright. But if you need to talk about anything, I'm sitting just over there." She pointed over at the benches across the wide room. Her voice was cool and caring and for a moment, May wanted nothing but to share all her burden with this strange woman. It was times like these that May had wanted her mother, but never more so before than this; after all, those other times, Ash had been there to comfort her. But the moment of confession passed as the woman walked away, leaving May to Pikachu once again.
May let out a shuddering breath, and gently wiped her puffy eyes. She straightened up slightly. She couldn't break down fully, not when people were around. But she kept her eyes downcast and took in the occasional sniff. She raised Pikachu as high as she could without making it uncomfortable, trying to hide her face as subtly as possible. What she would give to be Brock right now, spared of the loss of a love and the glances across the room from a friendly stranger. But then again, she wouldn't like to be delivering the message he had to.
"Is that a Pikachu?"
May looked up before she could stop herself. The voice was so innocent, so carefree and cheery. Simply, so much different than the thoughts and feelings she had been going through for the last 30 hours of wake and tormented sleep. A little redhead stood in front of her, hardly six, eyes wide, green orbs locked on the stiff Pokémon she had been holding for so long. Despite the situation, what she'd been going through, she smiled a little at the boy. It felt weird and different to crease her muscles in a way that hadn't been used for what seemed like decades.
She nodded at him. He was probably the woman's son, and they had come to use the single video phone that was now being occupied by Brock. "Can I…touch it?" the little kid asked nervously, clearly never being this close to one before. She nodded again and tried to shoot him an encouraging smile, but she felt it come out as a grimace.
The little kid slowly stroked Pikachu's fur, who in turn looked reproachfully at this newest acquaintance. The boy smiled happily. It looked as if it took him no effort to grin, like it came at ease. How had that felt like? May couldn't remember.
"Hey, it likes me!" The redhead stated happily. "And it's so soft! You take good care of it."
May bit back a sob. She didn't take good care of her Pokémon. "I-it's not mine." She stated as steadily as she could. She tried focusing her mind on the little curious child who had come over here.
"Then whose is it?" He asked, still stroking Pikachu, who now had its eyes half closed, as if reminiscing how it had felt when its trainer had done the same countless times.
"A-a very close…friend…of mine." She said, not knowing why she had paused so much. What was there to think about? Her mind was clear. He was a friend whom she cared more about than just a simple companion, and nothing would ever change that.
"Well," the child continued. "Your friend takes good care of it."
"I know." May said softly.
"I can't wait to get my own Pokémon!" The redhead burst out, as if he had come here to say that all along. "Mom says I'll have to wait until I'm ten, but I can't wait! I'm already planning on my choice! I think I'd like to have a Treeko! They evolve into such great fighting Pokémon, and plus, I think it's so cool!" May couldn't help but smile at the little kid's enthusiasm. It reminded her of when she first received her Pokémon, with Ash there as an onlooker. He had also thought a Treeko was a good idea. She smiled a little more boldly as she remembered how she had been more focused on how to impress Ash than what Pokémon she should choose, even though she now missed her Pokémon, almost as much as she missed him.
"Oh, you should pick the Treeko!" Ash said excitedly. May studied the lizard Pokémon with distaste. How could someone want that one? "Is it a water Pokémon?"
May rolled her eyes. Water Pokémon were almost always blue. That was her one fixed rules. Plus, they always had some sort of aquatic features, like fins. Her eyes travelled onto the eager trainer standing a few feet away, who had fully recovered from his depressive state after being told his Pikachu would make a full recovery. There was something about him that just made her eyes wander to him every five seconds. What was it? It was crazy, she had only just learned his name!
But her eyes remained glued to him as he continued studying each Pokémon as if it was his starting day. She couldn't help but smile as she watched his eyes dance with curiosity and clear awe at the new Pokémon, something that obviously weren't present in his county. Hadn't he said he'd come from Pallet Town?
"Wow, you've got three whole Pokémon to choose from!" Her moment of studying him was cut short as he spoke. She looked down at the awaiting Pokémon. "When it was my starting turn, all three had been taken, so I was left with an extra, Pikachu. I don't really mind now, though."
May smiled, both at what he said and at the little chick that she had just spotted.
"So, great choice."
May turned her head to gaze up at the gorgeous boy kneeling down to sit next to her. She temporarily lost herself once again in his eyes, brown vortexes that were so alert and full of energy. It hit her then that nothing would ever be able to put out that flame of life that burnt so strongly in his eyes. "Huh?" She replied finally.
"The Torchic. I think it's great! It evolves into great Pokémon too! It'll definitely aid you well in battles, especially if you train it well." May almost rolled her eyes. Was battling all that this guy ever thought of? She was soon to learn that it was. But then again, he had just complimented her in his own way.
"Thanks." She said, shooting him a smile which he returned, though with more radiance.
"So, I never actually got a proper intro. I'm Ash Ketchum, from Pallet, though I think the professor already told you that."
She nodded, loving his name even more now that it had come out in his voice. "I'm May, as you definitely know, and am from the Hoenn region. Duh!" She bit her tongue at her out-going attitude.
"Awesome!" He didn't seem to mind. "So, could you tell me which city would be the best to start off at to get some good pokemon? I heard the Hoenn tournament's coming up, and I want to be fully prepared!" He exclaimed so confidently it almost seemed forced. She giggled.
"Well, I suppose you could start off in Petalburg city. I mean, it's got a gym there, and a forest nearby, full of pokemon, so I guess you could just go there." May said, not knowing why she was luring him to her city. Perhaps she had just taken a liking to this new boy's personality. "I have to do some things there as well, so I can just come along with you!" She scolded herself. Why was she acting so happy?
"Alright," Ash said, a small, confused smile on his face. "It couldn't hurt, and you can just show me the way."
May nodded and turned back to the scene out in front of her, not knowing that she would be spending the next few years of her life with him, falling in love in the process.
"Ring! Ring! Ring!"
Brock sighed, his voice echoing around the small room, waiting for the call at the other end to be received. He had no idea how he was going to break the news to Mrs Ketchum. There wasn't a mother in this world who loved her son more than she did. Brock shifted his eyes away from the blank screen onto the floor. It was unnerving to feel this much depression. He had never felt so much sadness hit him all at once. Never had he thought he would see the day where one of his best friends would pass on, especially not the one with the most bravado he had ever seen. How could something as simple as a boat ride wipe off such a spirit?
"Hello? Ketchum residence, Delia Ketchum speaking." The screen burst into color as the pretty brunette finally picked up the phone.
Brock sadly raised his gaze to meet with the cheerful mother. He had never noticed before, but there were so many things she and her son had in common. They were from the most obvious things, like the shape of their eyes, to more hidden things, like the personality. It killed the Pewter Gym Leader to do this. He would be removing another free spirit from the world, adding one to the hopeless one. What he was about to do should be a crime.
"Why, Brock!" Her cheery voice stated in happy recognition. "It's been a while! How are you?"
Every sentence had to have a carefully planned answer, and he would have to slowly weave his way into this conversation and try to lessen the blow about her son, though it still would come as a ferociously heavy one. Brock bit his lip. He hadn't planned anything.
"We're….well, we're…" he hesitated, desperately trying to find the right words. What was he to say? He couldn't say they were fine, because they so clearly weren't, but if he told her that, she would immediately start asking questions. "We're coping." He stated finally.
The older woman nodded. "That's good to hear. Ash told Professor Oak he was off to gain his final badge in the Hoenn region. Has he got it yet?" Brock again hesitated. How could he be so cruel as to shatter the life of someone so caring and loving? It wasn't right that this family, of all the bad ones out there, should suffer. 'You bet he has, Mrs Ketchum.' Brock thought sadly. 'But that's the maximum he's ever going to get.'
"Yeah, he has." He stated sullenly, repeating his thoughts.
"Well that's fantastic news!" Delia happily cried. "Can you call him in so I can congratulate him?"
Brock felt a lump swell uncomfortably high in his throat, blocking him from speech. What he wouldn't give to be able to call Ash back. He stiffly swallowed, deeply inhaled and then faced the screen. "I-I first have to tell you something, Mrs Ketchum." He said. The time had come.
"Of course Brock, what is it?" Anybody else. It could have been any other family and it would have been easier to tell them than her. He sucked in his breath.
"The truth is, Mrs Ketchum, that we are not okay." He started, hoping against hope she would take this well. A look showing a mixture of surprise and confusion crossed the woman's face.
"What do you mean? What's wrong Brock?" She asked, the sincere concern clear as daylight in her soft voice. That had been another thing about the Ketchums: their sincerity.
Brock bent his head. "Last night, no, the day before that, M-" he stopped. Was it right to tell his mother that the cause of her son's death was because he had chosen to go back to an island alone and collect the pokemon May had forgotten? As much as he cared for the younger girl, he couldn't help but feel it was her fault Ash wasn't here. He started again. "Almost a day ago, Ash had gone back to Dewford island. He said he had forgotten something, would take the quickest ferry and be back by sunset."
Mrs Ketchum was staring at him with a horrified face, as if she knew what was coming. Brock's voice faltered under her disbelieving gaze. She was probably thinking of some horrible sickness, nothing close to the death sentence he'd have to give her. "As…as we waited for his boat to pull in last night, we…I… heard that the ferry had gone off course, the engines malfunctioning and … and…" As he looked up to meet Delia's gaze, he saw her blank look. "Almost everyone had made it out alive. They said if it wasn't for a young male that had woken them all up and told them about the engine's failure, they all would have died in their sleep. He was the only one that was missing from the passengers' list….and they say…they said…that young male was… As-"
"Stop it, Brock!" Delia's voice cut in. "Just stop it! You shouldn't go around joking like that to people like me, who care about their only family more than anything you could ever imagine!"
"I'm sorry Mrs Ketchum."
He could see the tears start to brim her eyes as she shot him glare after glare through the camera. "I don't believe you." She stated bluntly, giving him a piercing look. He stared for a moment back at her, then replied.
"I wish I were lying, Mrs Ketchum, I really do." Brock said as sincerely as he could.
"You were supposed to be the one caring for him, Brock!" She suddenly yelled at him, her face pained. "I swear, if anything has happened to my son, my little boy, then you will rue the day you e-ever…" Her voice faltered as it finally sank in. She let out a sob or two and turned away, sniffing. Brock opened and closed his mouth several times, like a lost magikarp. What should he say? He knew she would take it like this. But now that she found out, it was his duty to try and calm her down.
"But if it was Ash, then he was a hero. Even you knew Ash had a big heart, and it wouldn't be beneath him to do something so selfless."
"Gone, just like that," she started saying, as if she never heard him. "Taken away, no goodbyes, no warning, nobody to help my little boy out. He was all alone, a good heart in a sea of the undeserving and now he's…he's…oh god…" Now she completely broke, her hands holding her head. "Why Ash?" He heard her moan. "Why him? My little boy! He was so young, with so many dreams! You should have taken me! Why not me?"
Brock felt his heart reach out her, but his feelings were of no use. "Mrs Ketchum, believe me, we know what you're going through." Brock said, trying his utmost to lessen her sadness. "Not a second goes by when we wonder what we would be doing or saying if he was with us. He was – no, is the greatest friend, and anyone who had made friends with him were truly honored to have been given the chance. We all have learned so much from him, including me, and I assure you, someone like Ash is in a better place now. I don't think he'll miss us there."
His speech was met with a couple of sniffs before Delia looked back at him. "I- I know, Brock. But what am I going to do? How can you think…imagine, what I must be going through, raising him, caring for him, providing for him, loving him so deeply… how can I just move on? I can't, and I never will."
"I know it's hard for you, and it must be worse than what we're going through," Brock continued. "But think of it this way; Ash loved you just as much as you do him. Surely he wouldn't want to leave without knowing what you must be going through. Knowing him, he'd probably stay with you here until you become content with your life once more. He'd be depriving himself of the wonderful things that people are supposed to have afterwards, just to make sure you're happy." Brock bit his lip, wondering what sort of effect his words would have on her.
Delia's eyes swelled with more tears. "I really don't know what to say anymore Brock, let alone what to do. I'm feeling so….useless right now."
Brock's eyes widened. That never led to anything good. "No, no, Mrs Ketchum, you offer the world so much more than you know. I remember how Ash always used to compare my food to yours, saying how much he missed home, but so much wanted to train Pokémon, so had no choice but to stay away. He really loved you, and all you need to think is that Ash is still on one of his journey's he's always on. You've lived without him for long periods before, so just pretend these are one of those times."
Delia shot him an empty glare. "It's so easy for you to say that, you don't know the –"
"No it's not!" Brock couldn't help but raise his voice a little. "We've spent a long time with him too, you know. Every minute of every day of every week. Years I've spent with him! We're his best friends, for crying out loud, as he is ours. That will never change. Imagine the silence we'll be walking through. In fact, we'll probably stop travelling, it was always his drive that pushed us on."
Delia sighed shakily, wiping her damp eyes. "This conversation really isn't a pleasant one, is it?" she asked, shooting a wry, clearly forced smile. "I was hoping that maybe I'd…no, I suppose you're right. My son was a good person, and now, he's in a better place, where he'll be happy. But that doesn't mean I won't miss him."
Brock's eyes immediately softened. "Of course it doesn't."
May barely looked up when Brock reentered the room. She had now gained a distant look, like she wasn't paying this world anymore attention. She had overcome the urge to wail and had resorted to a glazed look. Now, it looked like she had left her body and gone elsewhere. She didn't want to do anything, because nothing seemed worth doing. Her grip around Pikachu had slackened and the pokemon had moved out onto the seat next to her and had remained there ever since. The child and his mother were now in the video room as Brock made his way towards them.
"May?" Brock's voice sliced through her thoughts. She raised her eyes to look at him, but barely moved otherwise. He sighed as she looked down at the floor again and knelt down in front of Pikachu, gently stroking it behind its ears. "I told Mrs Ketchum." He said in the smallest voice she had ever heard him use. Her face remained blank.
"Did you tell her it was my fault?" May asked blandly. She knew it was, and the stream of dried up tears started again, though silently.
Brock placed a hand on her shoulder. "No, May, because it wasn't. You didn't know what would happen, and neither did-"
"That is no excuse!" She cried. "I should have gone alone, or at least with him! It's not fair that he's the one gone, suffering for my mistakes while I'm still here! It's just wrong!"
Brock gave her a sympathetic look. "May, Ash wouldn't want you dwelling on him too much. He'd want you to-"
"Don't tell me what Ash would or wouldn't have wanted, alright! You didn't control him, you didn't know anything about him!" She didn't even know why she was yelling, but it was almost like these were phases that people had to go through. One, shock. Two, extreme depression. Three, anger. And finally four, solitary confinement, when nothing anyone said or did would help. Her chest heaved up and down in anger as furious tears trickled their way down her face. After a few minutes, she calmed down and roughly wiped away the tears. "I'm sorry Brock, I didn't mean it. No one knew him better than you did."
"It's alright," Brock said gently, leading her to the door. "We should just get moving and get you back to Petalburg for some rest, okay?"
May just nodded, not wanting to take any initiatives just then. Brock picked Pikachu up and led the way to the door, May following. "May, you're going to have to get over this and move on, alright? No matter how many tears you shed, he won't come back. And neither will the Pokémon."
"I know that!" She snapped, but immediately lowered her tone. "It's just, I feel like I handed over lives to the grim reaper for no price at all. My poor pokemon. And Ash…I cared for him so much…like no one else before."
"I know, May, I know."
May giggled as another wave broke on her back. She could spend hours watching the waves pull back and crash forward onto the beach once more in their never ending cycle. There was just something mesmerizing about it. Maybe it was the broken, glinting reflection of the golden sunlight on it, or maybe it was the white froth forming on its surface. Whatever it was, she was entranced by it. And there was nothing she loved more than feeling the water on her skin.
No, that wasn't right. She did love something more. Her sapphire eyes moved onto the beach where a fire was burning merrily, its brilliant orange color matching the setting sun. But her eyes barely stopped there as she shifted her gaze onto the black haired trainer next to the flames, drying himself off of the sea water that he had been splashing in with her a few moments ago. With a towel wrapped around his shoulders and his hair matted to his face, he was the most eye-drawing sight on the entire beach. And she loved him the most.
Her eyes shot open in shock at her thoughts. 'WHAT!' She screamed mentally. 'I can't love him! We've only known each other for about a year now and…and…' she ran out of excuses as a small voice in her head cut in.
'So,' it said. 'That's 365 days of non-stop travel with the boy. It would be impossible for you not to feel something towards him.' But she just ignored the voice. It was a stupid voice, always saying crazy things like 'remember, don't eat that, it's bad for you.'
May turned to look as a splashing sounded next to her. Pikachu happily leapt to and fro with the waves, its fur matted with water, its light chirps of laughter immediately drawing a smile to her face. She grabbed the Pokémon and squeezed it playfully.
"Oh Pikachu!" She giggled happily as it tickled its cheek with hers. "You know just how to have fun. You and Ash are so alike! I mean, you're almost just as cute as him!" She bit her tongue embarrassedly as the Pokémon shot her a confused look. "I- I mean…um…" Luckily she was saved from an excuse by a call.
"Hey guys! Food's ready!" Brock's voice echoed down the beach and Pikachu immediately started running towards the two boys without a second thought. May couldn't blame it. After all that swimming, she had certainly built an appetite. She grabbed a nearby towel and continued towards the camp. Max had left their group a while ago after finally convincing their parents that going to a Pokémon academy was perfect for someone like him. And deep down, May agreed, even though there were moments when she – although she would never admit it – missed him.
"Hey Pikachu, stop it, you've got your own plate to eat from!" Ash cried as he lifted the hyper active Pokémon and put him next to its own plate.
May grinned. "Aw, poor Ash." She giggled, and quenched the water out of her hair onto his head. This had exactly the effect she'd wanted, especially since he wasn't wearing his hat.
"May, quit it!" he pouted, trying to wipe off the dampness. "I just got my hair dry!"
"But I need a place to take out the water on." She smiled when Ash turned to glare at her as she flicked the droplets off her fingers and onto his face.
"May you better stop that, or else-" she cut him off by drying the other side of her hair. He looked even more adorable with his eyes alight with playful anger.
"Or else what?" she shot back, shooting as much water that she could off her body and onto his.
"That's it!" He yelled and tackled her to the floor. Before she could comprehend what was happening, he started the one thing he knew she was most vulnerable to: tickling. His fingers fluttered across her stomach, touching all the places he knew she was most ticklish, and the laughter escaped her mouth immediately. "Or else this!" he yelled.
"Ahaha, Ash! Hahahaha, stop it! No, no hhahaha, you know I'm ticklish!"
She watched him roll his eyes through her tears of laughter. "No duh!" he said sarcastically. "I didn't want to do this, May, but you left me no choice." She could barely hear him through her gasps. "Meet Ash's Tickle attack; used only when May needs to be reminded that she needs to listen more!"
"Alright! Alright!" She yelled, finally running out of breath. "I'll listen whenever you tell me to do something!"
"Promise! Now quit it!" She yelled, and finally the movement of his fingers stopped. She took in deep breaths of air, a smile still on her face. It was strange, only Ash ever found out about how ticklish she was and used it against her. She opened her eyes and found him staring down at her in such a way that it made her blush. What was going through his mind? Did she have something on her face? His face also held a smile, but the gentlest she had ever seen. There was no overconfidence or cockiness, but it was sincere. And it just added to the long list that held his plus points.
"Can I tell you something May?" He asked softly. Barely comprehending, she just nodded her head, still mesmerized with his eyes. "I really did want to do that."
"Why?" The word came to her mouth with her barely processing its meaning through. She watched him shrug his shoulders.
"I like your laugh." He said, in a voice that almost sounded distant. His words immediately sank in, like water on dry soil, and she flushed bright red. Apparently he hadn't thought of what he was saying because he blushed too, but they never broke eye contact. And suddenly, May felt the urge to kiss him. She didn't know where it came from, but it made her blush darken. What was wrong with her?
"Thanks." She replied dazedly, gazing up into those two incredible chocolaty orbs. Gosh, how much she loved them. "I like your eyes." As the words left her mouth, he immediately blushed again, and she mentally kicked herself for saying such a thing. What would he think of her now? But a voice clearing their throat stopped her from thinking it through fully. Both of the young teens turned their heads to where the voice had come from. There stood Brock, with his arms folded and wearing that strange smile he made whenever he saw them talking together, and Pikachu sat on his shoulder, its head cocked in innocent confusion.
"Don't forget the food, you two lovediscs." Brock commented lightly. "Or about us. And enough with the flirting. We don't want to witness any funny stuff."
They both flushed and jumped apart, sitting a good meter from each other. And as May ate the meal Brock had created and her glances locked with Ash's every now and then when she chanced a look at him, she realized that she had fallen for him. Fallen in love with her present best friend and travelling partner. And she realized, she wouldn't have it any other way.
May stared blankly ahead, absentmindedly following Brock, who now held Pikachu, her thoughts swimming. Yes, that had definitely been the time. She remembered how in the next few years of travelling with him she had tried several times to make him realize what she felt. Anything to see if he felt slightly the same way. Each time she woke up, she took extra care to make sure her hair was immaculate. Extra hours were put into practicing the advice strategies Ash gave her. She put all her energy in trying to perfect each of his suggestions. Because that was how she saw it; those who radiated perfection deserved perfection. And Ash was all that. So she tried, just for him.
Tears kept brimming her dark eyes, dark blue eyes that now reflected her hollowed heart. Ash had once said she had beautiful eyes, the color of a Dragonair; coming from him, that was a definite compliment. She had blushed at the time, but now all it brought was another wave of tears. Tears that stopped coming down. They obviously had run out of energy to bother pouring again.
'Where did you go Ash?' she thought. 'Why did you leave us? Leave me? How can you think for even a second that I can survive without you? Oh Ash, it's so hard to breathe right now.' The tears stayed in her eyes while the trails made by them before down her face dried up. She didn't have enough strength left to push them out anymore. Now, the thoughts only wrenched her heart, in such a severe way she almost cried out in pain.
"Pika!" Pikachu suddenly jumped out of Brock's arms and into the bushes. But nobody followed it, knowing the pokemon would eventually return. After another few motionless, silent minutes it finally came back, it's eyes reflecting disappointment and sadness, holding in its mouth something familiar, heart wrenchingly familiar. Even Brock couldn't hide the surprise.
"Where…did you get that, Pikachu?" A rhetorical question. Clearly it had washed up on the bank to their right, Pikachu spotted it, thought it was Ash and brought it back.
Slowly, as though it could harm her, May bent down and gently pried the hat, Ash's favorite, from the electric mouse's small fangs. It gazed up at her desperately, as if she could bring it its trainer back. She only wished she could. She raised the hat to her eye level and ran a gloved finger over the coarse, red and black material. It was one of his favorite things in the world, his trademark, and it just went with him, and suddenly it sank into her like never before. He was gone, forever, and even that small spark of hope that he might return burned out as well.
The tears came once more as May broke down, collapsing to her knees, huge sobs wracking her lungs and shoulders. And huge streams poured down like icy rivers. Where had they come from? She clutched the hat tight to her body, not wanting to let go, to move, or to ever think again.
May shot up. She knew she had forgotten something, but she thought it had been something simple, like a bandana or at most a spare shirt. Never had it crossed her mind that she could be as irresponsible as to leave behind the bag with her pokeballs. She almost wailed in despair. She looked around the room and its slumbering inhabitants. She had to go back to the island, but she couldn't alone. She had never been good with words and usually went on instinct. Not the best option when it came to her.
Tears gathered at the prospect of forgetting her most treasured work, she stumbled her way across the floor towards the one person who offered a clear headed mind, all be it a little reckless, in a crisis such as this. Up until now, May still wondered how someone could still see a bright side to things, even when the situation was so gloomy.
Ash was peacefully asleep, his head rolled off the pillow's support and his mouth slightly parted, taking in deep, tranquil breaths. It was a sight May loved to watch, and had done so before, but right now, she could barely get her thoughts to form logically; she needed guidance. Trying hard not to disturb Pikachu, who was curled up beside its trainer and occupying most of the pillow, she gently shook his shoulder, trying to get him up.
"What?...what is it….?" He trailed sleepily, and for a moment May doubted her actions, wondering whether it was fair to include him in her troubles. But the thought of her Pokémon stopped her and she shook him harder.
"Ash, get up." She pleaded, desperation in her voice. He opened what she knew to be a chocolate brown eye and groggily focused it on her.
"May?" he muttered.
"Ash, my Pokémon," she wailed quietly. She watched him raise an eyebrow. "I left them, back on Dewford Island."
"What!" he hissed and leapt out of bed, banging his head slightly on the top bunk, and he doubled over for a moment, clutching his throbbing forehead. She supposed his reaction in a way lowered her stress, for it showed her he both understood the severity and unconsciously added in a bit of comedy. She tentatively went to his side, a small smile on her face.
"Are you okay, Ash?" she asked, placed her hand gently on his head. He looked up at her through pained eyes, but the moment subsided and he swatted her hand away, not roughly.
"Yeah, I'm fine, but that's not the point! May, how could you have left your Pokémon! I mean, what are you on the journey for? You might as well pack up and leave! And what about the actual Pokémon? They'll probably be thinking that you've abandoned them or something! You can't just-" He suddenly cut himself off after seeing May lower her gaze to the floor, tears evident. After an uncomfortable pause, Ash mumbled out quietly; "I'm sorry, May, I didn't-"
"No, you're right." She said sullenly. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea waking up Ash. There probably wasn't a person in this world who loved Pokémon more than he did. It was fairly obvious he would be taking it this way. But she deserved it. "I'm a horrible trainer." She whispered out her thoughts. "I don't deserve any of them."
Ash placed a hand on her shoulder. "No May, I didn't mean it, really, it just came out-"
"Have you ever heard the saying that your heart speaks before your brain? Well, you spoke your true feelings first, which is what I want from a true friend." She said to him. These words seemed to catch him off guard and he blinked.
"May, listen, there's no point in dwelling in the past. I should have said this in the start; let's just fix the mistake and get your Pokémon back. And we have to start moving by tomorrow, so the sooner we get them back, the better." There. That was what she had woken him up for. His level-headed thinking in problems where her mind went blank. She looked at him. "It's good you remembered this quickly. We'll ring up the hotel people. I'm sure they've kept your Pokémon with them. So let's go. We'll leave a note to Brock to take care of Pikachu. It's a good thing Max isn't here, huh?"
May smiled despite the situation. "Are you coming?" she asked, hoping he was.
"Of course," he said, throwing on his jacket and hat. "You don't think I'd let you go all the way back yourself, did you? Imagine poor little May walking around for her Pokémon all alone. It would be heartbreaking."
May nudged him playfully. "Hey, I'm not that useless!" Ash just shot her a cheeky grin and she couldn't help but smile back. He finished writing a note, placed it on the table nearest Brock and headed to the door. "Ash?" She called, and he turned, the door half open, the hall light darkening his outline. Suddenly, the moment just seemed like another adventure, spending it this time with Ash only.
"Thanks." She said, shooting him a genuine smile. He returned it with a light shrug.
"Hey, that's what friends are for, right?"
"Yeah…friends…" she mumbled, following him out into the night air.
"I'm sorry, the soonest ferry is at 5'o clock, and that's completely booked."
May stared at the ferry's tired-looking receptionist with pleading eyes. She had to let them on, especially after all she and Ash had to walk to get here, thanks to the lack of life at this time of night.
"Please ma'am, there has to be one spot left." Ash said. "We'll pay extra, just please, you have to let us on!" The receptionist was about to contradict, but he cut in before she could say anything. "Or at least make an exception just this once!"
She quirked her eyebrow. "What's so special that I should?"
May turned her gaze on him. What was he planning? "My frie- I mean," he sighed and lowered his head. "I left my – my Pokémon back on the island." May's eyes widened. Now he would be the one with the bad reputation. This was completely her fault. She saw the woman give an astonished look too. May was about to cut in and deny his statement but he shot her a warning look. "Please," he repeated, turning his attention back to the woman. "Please understand. My Pokémon! I only just remembered now, and my friend here decided to come with me, but I'm fine going alone. Please, even if I have to go alone, I will, but I have to get my Pokémon back. Please?" His face expression was so convincing that May almost fell for the story herself.
The woman sighed. "I suppose. But just one space, your friend here can't go. I'm not supposed to be letting you go in the first place, but I suppose…" she started typing into her computer, though clearlly she was enjoying the authority, and one could tell this was the first interesting meeting she'd had all night. Finally, she handed Ash a ticket. "You really ought to be more responsible, young man."
Ash scratched the back of his neck in mock nervousness. "Yes, I know, believe me, this is a lesson well learnt." They waved off the receptionist and walked out and sat on a nearby bench, waiting for the five o'clock ferry.
"I hope it really is a lesson well learnt for you May." He said, trying to break the silence, but May had other things on her mind.
"Ash, why in the world did you go telling that load of garbage!" she demanded. "That's bound to travel around the entire city! It should be my name floating around, not yours! That was so stupid of you, Ketchum! And now you're the one having to go all the way there when they're my Pokémon! Now you got that stupid ticket printed with your name on it so I can't even go instead! I can't believe you'd do something like that…for the likes of me." She said, hanging her head. She found, for the millionth time that night, doubt at waking Ash to come with her. He had sacrificed a warm bed and a night's sleep before a long journey to the next city just for her.
"Don't degrade yourself that way, May," he said gently. "It's no problem, really. Just keep your chin up," he lifted up her face so she was looking into his eyes. "And your spirits high, because if you let life bring you down, you're going to be down a whole lot often. And besides," he stroked her cheek before quickly dropping his hand. "All this is worth it for me if it makes you happy. Got it?"
If possible, May felt admiration like never before pour into her heart for Ash. He was so much more than the eye could see. So much more, and he was all hers. She smiled at him, her eyes glossing over. She wrapped her arms around him tightly. "Thank you, Ash, thank you so much." She breathed into his shoulder. "And I'm so sorry for all of this. But I promise I'll take good care of Pikachu until you come back. And I'll make it up to you by treating us all to dinner! And I'll try to persuade my dad to take as many gym battles with you as you want!"
He chuckled. "I can't wait." And he returned her hug.
She could feel the eyes of Brock and Pikachu on her, but she hardly cared. She didn't care at all, in fact. Because her life had officially lost its thrill. It had lost that essence that addicted her to survive. And it was completely her fault that she no longer felt that thrill. He was gone, and-
May froze. Her eyes snapped open and for a moment she heard nothing but the sound of crashing waves. It couldn't be….she had hoped it before, but it wasn't possible. Her eyes raised themselves, as if that would answer their question. But she knew she had just heard it. It wasn't possible. There was no way.
"PIKAPI!" Pikachu suddenly screeched. And then came laughter, such heartwarming laughter that for a moment she forgot why she was so miserable. It was the one thing that had the power to cure her, whatever the situation.
But she hardly dared turn around. It was all in her head. She knew it, Brock knew it, the world knew it. And she wouldn't give in. She wouldn't let her depression drive her insane. She wouldn't lose control, she wouldn't be weak. Because if she finally broke, there would be no turning back. It would be the end of her, and she knew it. Unfortunately, Brock wasn't thinking along the same lines.
"Ash?" It was a statement mixed with both surprise and uncertainty, but May could hardly care. She swiveled around so fast her hair swatted her face sharply, but her eyes didn't blink. There were her Pokémon, safely tucked inside their pokeballs. In a flash of red, Skitty jumped out, gently rubbing against her legs, craving for attention. She immediately picked it up and held it close, never loving the soft feel of the pink kitten's fur more than now. But soon her eyes moved up onto the person who was responsible for bringing it back to her.
If possible, he looked even better after reappearing after this whole dilemma. His eyes were full of the same delight that never failed to melt her heart. His mouth was curved into that smile that could win anyone over. His hair was just the same as always, maybe even more unruly than usual, without his hat to keep it down. The carefree laughter kept escaping him as Pikachu happily licked his face in clear delight at having its trainer and closest friend back. Hardly containing herself, May put the Pokémon aside and leapt up, and his eyes suddenly locked onto her movements as she did so. And just as she was about to step forward, Brock cut in.
"May?" He asked, concern detectable in his tone. She looked at him and was about to answer when she spotted Pikachu back on Brock's shoulder, it's eyes as sad as ever. A confused look darned her face. How could that be? It was just with Ash, right? She turned around to look at the boy once more, but her eyes widened. The landscape was just the same, the gravely path on which they had come, but void of any signs of Ash. After a few minutes of shock, it finally came to her that he was gone again. She had imagined it.
"May, are you alright?" Brock asked again. "I was just asking if we should get going, but you seemed kind of…lost."
Suddenly, May's anger flared. Icy fire ran coursing through her veins. It was all Brock's fault he wasn't here anymore. Ash had been just over there, a few meters away, and now he wasn't. That was all her mind could register, and since he vanished after Brock's statement, it must be his fault. She shot the heaviest glare she could muster at him and watched him flinch under her gaze.
"This is all YOUR fault!" She roared at him, her eyes merciless. "What did you do?"
Brock's expression was the definition of astonishment. "May, what in the world are you-"
"He was there a second ago, just there!" She cried. "And now he isn't! What did you do, huh? Where did you send him? And my Pokémon?" Just a day ago, if she had seen herself in this reaction, she would have scorned herself at such a delusional over reaction. But what was her present self to know about such antics? "He had come back, just like he promised, but now he's gone again and…and…" Her speech faltered and the tears broke again and she let herself be pulled into Brock's brotherly hug. Pikachu crawled onto her shoulder and finally shed some tears of its own
Lost in their own world, May realized she would never see Ash again, or any of her Pokémon, and no matter how much she yelled or shrieked, they wouldn't come back.
He reached the top of the small hill, wiping his sweaty forehead, glad the chills he'd gotten from losing his jacket had finally gone. He raised his hand to block the sun from his eyes, thinking that this is why he'd kept that hat with him. Quickly, he brought down his arm, scrunching up his nose slightly. 'I need a bath...'
He sighed for a while, scanning the landscape. So much had happened, and yet...
A smile broke out on his face as he spotted his friends some way in the distance. And as he made his way toward the two travelers, only one thought crossed his mind; how glad he was to be rejoining them once more.