Hi! This is Dan, back again with a new fanfiction. This is not related to my previous fanfics unlike the other two which link together, so don't worry if you haven't read them. Mind you, if you haven't and you're reading this maybe you would like to take a look if you enjoy this so far. (Looks around to see everyone laughing.) Well, it was worth a try!

The fanfiction is almost entirely set in the first person, and the person changes throughout the story. Who it is affects what they hear - some of the Pokemon can't be understood by some of the human characters, and so their speech won't be translated. But if the person whose point of view it is can undersand the Pokemon speaking, the translated speech will be given. I make it sound far more complicated than it is! So: "Normal speech appears like this" ("Translated pokemon speech appears like this")

Anyhow, feel free to leave any comments you want to make, whether you enjoyed it or not!

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or Pokemon in this fanfic, they are the possession of 4kids, Nintendo and all other owners of Pokemon.
Child of the light one - Chapter I
:Yes, it is my mistake. I wanted this, but not in this way. It is not my fault, no, I have been far away for many years, and naivety rather than stupidity has caused this situation. Maybe if I'd thought for a while I could have worked it out, but the dice have been rolled, the cards dealt. Now I must just wait and see how the game progresses.:
The flames flicker, casting strange illusions never seen, only glimpsed. It's funny really, staring into a fire. It brings me all sorts of memories, maybe unseen futures, but they pass as soon as they arrive. I've never understood why, but I've always found it particularly enchanting. I remember Brock saying that I looked at a glowing campfire with more intensity than Misty stares at the ocean. I replied that everyone stares at a fire in the dark, but he disagreed, telling me I was something else. There's always been something about fire that's alluring to me. I can't work out what, perhaps its grace, its effortless power, its glowing light, and deep down, despite all its wondrous qualities, its fragility..

"Hello! Earth to Ash!" Misty, being subtle as always. I keep staring at the fire, now for two reasons. One, to try and finally capture the essence it contains which does this to me, and two it'll sure as hell annoy Misty. "Hel-lo! Is there anything in that dense skull of yours?" Dense. Yeah, that's what I'm defined as. Look in the dictionary and under the term dense you'll find yours truly, the name Ashton Satoshi Ketchum. It's true when I was younger I couldn't see some things if they were staring me in the face, and to a degree I still have a blind spot to the obvious. But I'm not stupid, far from it.

"Hey Ash, you okay?" Brock now enters the fray, a touch of concern in his voice. I ignore him - no I don't, you ignore people when you willingly disregard what they say. I'm not ignoring him, but I'm not listening either. I'm not deep in thought, yet I'm not dreaming. Somewhere in between. My mind tells me that it'll only be a few more seconds before Misty makes another stinging remark..

"He's just being an airhead as usual." Yes, right on cue. Perhaps it's time I took an active role in this discussion about me.

"If you call thinking being an airhead, then everyone is either dense for thinking or an idiot for not." She's caught flat-footed, and after wallowing for a second with mouth ajar she glares daggers at me, fiery hair washing across her face.

("Where'd that come from? Who cares, it was brilliant!") Pikachu giggles, sending Mistys face red as the fire.

"It's not polite to ignore someone when they're trying to talk to them."

"It's not polite to badmouth someone when they don't reply." I shoot back.

"Whew, thirty-love to Ash!" Brock laughs at the verbal sparring. "I'd quit now Misty, while you're behind." Misty humphs in response, but complies.

("Ash, you never explained this to us properly. What are we doing now?") Chikorita puts in lazily from her chibi sleeping bag, which I'd made specially for her last time we were at home.

"We're going to be training up for the Indigo league in the summer. Oh, and maybe keeping an eye out for a few of the legendary Pokemon." I smile slightly, they all look exactly the same. Part nervous, part excited, part mystified.

"Why?" Brock leans forward, looking towards me. "How do you know that the legendaries even exist? Or where they might be."

"I don't know where they are, but they usually find me. Remember Shamouti Misty?" She nods, frowning again. Probably thinking of Melody. "And New Island?" They all look blank. "No? Pikachu, don't you remember?"

("Uh, no.") She replies, ears twitching in thought. Strange.

"Mewtwo? Mew?" I push.

"Mews are extinct aren't they?" Brock replies.

"Where did you get all that from?" Misty puts in, clearly puzzled. I fall silent, trying to pinpoint the moment. Eventually, I shake my head.

"I don't know really. It was a night just like this, I was staring into the fire. Then, it was like a light had been turned on, and the whole thing shot into my mind. No, it wasn't like deja-vu, or imagined Mist." I add, sensing her about to ask. "It was like you know that you're sixteen, or your name is Misty."

"New Island." Brock chews the name over in his head, trying to find some recognition. "What happened there?"

"Oh, we encountered a Mew clone called Mewtwo intent on creating his own cloned Pokemon army, and using them to free all other Pokemon from their trainers. I led the originals to fight back, and a Mew joined us to fight Mewtwo. The two of us combined managed to persuade Mewtwo to learn the error of his ways." Outrageous as that tale sounds, I decide to not tell them that I'd technically died. They'd probably not believe me, since it'd seem ridiculous, which would discredit everything else I've said.

"Mmmm, wonder why we can't remember. Ah well, it's getting too late for my eyes, so I'm off to bed." Brock yawns, before retreating to his sleeping bag. Chikorita just drags her own sleeping bag to near mine, and lays down too.

("You know, that name does ring a bell. I just wish I knew why.") Pikachu murmurs, paw scratching a buttercup ear absently.

"It'll come back to you, don't worry. Goodnight Pikachu." I give her head a quick rub before she walks over to her custom-made bag. Misty gets up and walks around the fire to sit next to me as the rustling of sleeping bags dies down. She stares into my eyes for a few long seconds before sitting down beside me and lokking away.

"Ash, what's up?" She whispers, casting a sidelong glance in my direction.

"Nothing, really." I keep my eyes fixed on my fire, although I just know that she's now turned to look at me again.

"Yeah, and I'm Snorlax's big sister. Don't lie to me Ash Ketchum." She shuffles a little closer to me, waiting for an answer.

"If I really knew, maybe I could." I can sense her confusion, so I elaborate. "Misty, look into the fire, tell me what you can see." Out of the corner of my eye I see her turn to the fire, and regard it critically for a second. "Well?"

"I see..reds and oranges, dancing flames, flickering shadows.." She looks back at me, and I nod.

"Now let me tell you what I see." I stare hard into the core of the blaze. "I see an infinite number of hues intertwined, I see faces, memories of the past. I see my mother, you, Pikachu, everyone. I see a bird of fire, ice and lightning. Faces past and faces unknown. I sometimes remember things long forgotten or watch what I've never seen. And I don't know how or why." Finished, I look back up to see her smiling at me.

"You know that watching a fire can make you think of the oddest things.."

"No, these aren't figments of my imagination, these are real. I don't know how to describe them properly." I state vehemently, and she looks a little taken aback. "Sorry, sorry. Didn't mean to shout at you Misty."

"It's okay Ash." She smiles at me, then casts a thoughtful glance at the fire before looking back to me. "But don't let the fire worry you, I'm sure it's just your mind getting a little overactive." She cajoles, as if I'm a kid having nightmares. But I don't mind, Misty doesn't realise it yet, but any way she speaks to me without shouting or criticising is music to my ears. "Anyhow, I think it's time I hit the sack, so goodnight. Don't be too long, another long day coming tomorrow." She gets to her feet, and slopes off to her sleeping bag, which is subtly close to mine without being obvious. If only she knew that over the last few years I've become a pretty smart cookie, but she still thinks of me as a rather scatty-minded twelve- year-old. I look back into the flames, and try to let myself relax. She's probably right anyway, I can still be like that. Sometimes I do it for a laugh, sometimes I almost lapse back into the preteen me. Maybe I'm a schizophrenic. Well, if that is the case at least I'll never be lonely. I smile wryly to myself, and creep over to my bag to retrieve my journal. I can still remember the mild ribbing I got from everyone when they found out about it, Misty telling me that is was a girlish thing to do, Brock mimicking me writing romantic poetry every night for a week, and worst of all Pikachus high pitched giggling. The only ones who know and don't rib me are mum and Chikorita, although she's desperate to find out what it contains, probably to find out what I think of her. But there's more to it than that, sure I write my feelings, actions and emotions out, and even the occasional piece of poetry (yes, and some of it is love poetry). It's also recording pieces of a puzzle, the puzzle of the things I see from the flames, the voices in the crackle of burning leaves. Failing to see Mistys Aqua eyes glint in the orange glow as she watches me intently, I pull out the pen tucked inside the front cover and start writing.

"Another day gone by, another few more moments in history. Today was a good day, except for Chikorita and Pikachu arguing about who got which shoulder which ended in Chikorita vine whipping Pikachu off, resulting in her trying to shock her back. Unfortunately, I'm not a grass type like Chikorita." I smile at the memory, and the puppy eyes they both gave me when I gave them an ass chewing. "Tonight, I saw more images in the fire, images from Shamouti years ago. And something new." I let my gaze fade out again, trying to pin down exactly what I had seen. "I was there, along with a strange man, my mother, and a wondrous bird, but so indistinct. It could mean nothing, but the bird looked exactly the same as the one I saw on the first day of my journey. Is it just coincidence? But when I tried to explain to Misty what was happening, she only just stopped short of laughing." An expression of pain passes onto my face as the memory of Misty's incredulous look swims into my mind. "Maybe I'm crazy, maybe not. But I still can't explain it.." I sigh, and put my pen back into the journal, and stuff it back in my bag. I glance at my watch as I take off my shirt.. It's taken me half an hour to write that. Where did the time go? I pull off my grey shorts, and climb into my sleeping bag, leaving it part open. I've been feeling really hot recently, despite the fact summer is a way off yet. Slowly, sleep overtakes me, just as the last glowing ember of the fire dies away.
*I'm high in the air, gazing at the world spread below me like an intricate tapestry. I can feel the wind flow beneath my wings, smell the night air as it rushes past. It's a thrill, a thrill that I've never known before. Riding on Lugia's back was amazing, but being truly in control of yourself and your direction in a seemingly infinite expanse of sky is something unique. To dive, to glide, to soar. I somehow know this is a dream even while it's happening, and I wish that it could last forever. I make it last a while longer, just for the feeling. It's amazing to have your confines removed, the normal laws you have to listen to repealed, even if its just for one night of dreaming. Eventually, feeling my wings tiring, I glide back to the campsite, and darkness overtakes me once more.*
The sun appears over the horizon, at exactly the same time my eyes open. I blink a few times, my hazel irises adjusting to the light, before sliding out of his sleeping bag and standing up. Something is wrong here, something missing...uh? I hurriedly scout around for some clothes, well, any clothes. I set eyes on my grey shorts, and hurriedly slip them on before glancing around the site to make sure everyone else was still asleep. Whew, I'm glad Misty wasn't awake just then, or anyone else for that matter. But where have my boxers gone? A quick search of the sleeping bag and surrounding area produce my shirt and a few other bits and pieces, but no sign of them. Well, I'm glad that mom always made sure I had plenty of clean you-know- whats.

("Whatcha dooin?") I spin around to see Chikorita gazing up at me, and feel a blush spread over me.

"How long have you been awake?!"

("About five seconds. Looking for something?")

"No, no. Uh, have you seen my boxer shorts?" I blush still further as Chikorita giggles in response.

("Do you say that to all girls just after they've just woken up?") She jibes, smiling further at my reaction.

"Uh, I'd advise you to not breathe a word. I can always forget to make you a custom pair of pyjamas." Her leaf droops in submission, and she looks up at me with soulful eyes, knowing the look works like a charm on me, and as usual it does it's magic. "Okay, okay. But make sure that you don't tell anyone. I don't want any of them winding me up or giving me any of the old jokes. And if Misty so much as giggles at me."

("Alright! I get the idea!") She drags herself out of her sleeping bag and wanders over to my side as I idly scratched my chin in thought.

"Why do you want pyjamas anyhow?"

("I think they look nice, and seem comfortable. Also they keep you warm.") Chikorita replied lightly.

"It's a little unusual to see a Pokemon in human clothes. " I crouched down to her level, and look her in the eye. "Are you sure you want to stick out like that from others?"

("Hey, I like to be noticed.")


("When you've grown up with six brothers, you need to stand out.") She answers calmly.

"Standing out isn't all it's cracked up to be." I let a rueful tone seep into my voice as I stare blindly into the middle distance, engulfed in memory.

("What do you mean by that?") She asks, curiosity apparent in her eyes.

"Ask me some other time." I reply, eyes still glazed. *Preferably never.*

("Uh, okay.") A moan and some rustling sounds from my right signifies Misty is waking up, so I reach for a T-shirt. It's all very well being half-naked around Pokemon, but I'm always too embarrassed around people. Don't know why really, it just feels strange. The world disappears for a moment as the shirt passes over my head, and as it reappears I can see her smiling up at me, so I hurriedly pull it down over my chest and stomach.

"Morning Ash, Chikorita." She yawns, pulling herself out of her bag and slowly stretching in her Horsea-styled blue pyjamas.

"Morning sleepyhead." I reply trying to brush a stray lock of hair out of my eye.

("Yeah, sleep well?") Chikorita adds, walking over to find a brush in my bag.

"Not bad. What time is it?"

"It's uh." I look at my right wrist, to find it without a trace of watch. Not a hint of watchness in sight. Strange. Boxers and watches? Some thief around here has a weird priority list. "I don't know, but judging by the sun and time of year I'd say around forty-seven minutes past eight." She looks at me strangely, and my mind catches up with my mouth. Where the hell did that come from? She bends down to her bag and scoops up her watch. One glance at it, and she looks at me even more strangely.

"You're right. To the minute. How on earth did you know that?"

"Uh, a lucky guess I guess, eh-heheheh." She cocks an eyebrow, and drops the watch back on her bag.

"If that's the case would you care to pick my lottery numbers for next week?" Without waiting for an answer she turns around and bends down to pull a change of clothes out of her bag, and I find myself looking at a rather unexpected sight. Not one that I mind, of course..damn, there I go again. I really, really need to learn some mental control, to stop mister libido wolf- whistling like Brock on heat. Sometimes I hate growing up, it creates so much confusion..but scanning over Mistys lithe, shapely five-and- a-half foot frame, orange hair flowing down over her shoulders as she straightens up, I decide that it does have its benefits. I manage to rip my gaze away from her just before she sees me staring, only for it to centre on a sniggering Brock who just happened to see me giving her the once over and is, needless to say, in a mood for blackmail. Oh man, am I going to get it from one of them this morning. I can hear Pikachu sniggering from behind me as well, the day gets better and better. I've lost a pair of boxers which Chikorita knows about, and Pikachu and Brock have got an eyeful of me getting an eyeful of Misty. I'm glad Todd isn't here, any photographs and I could be looking at a life sentence. Now Brock is getting out of his sleeping bag with a calculating look, and I just know that I'm going to be getting the wood for the fire this morning. And the water. And the berries.
I watch Ash walk off into the undergrowth, bowl in his hands, and hear Pikachu sniggering behind me. I think I've missed something. Normally Ash never gets the water without a fight, which usually results in a shocking or possibly a bit of hammer time courtesy of me. I spin around to Pikachu, intent on catching her by surprise. "And what's so funny?"

("Uh, nothin'") She stutters, turning on her innocent look. It's not going to work on me.

"You must find nothing awfully funny." I snap, edging closer.

("Yeah, right.") She's looking uncomfortable as I tower over her. She has no problem with shocking Ash if she wants to, but she never tried it on with me. It's beyond me why not.

"Were you laughing at me? You were weren't you?!" Oh, am I good at this. She's looking desperate now.

("No! I was laughing at Ash.") Ah, what has he done then? It had to be blackmail for him to willingly go and collect the water, or for Pikachu to be laughing at him.

"Why? What did he do?!" I whip the mallet out of nowhere, and wave it at her. She squeals in surprise, and pelts across the clearing to Brock, who is still sat in his sleeping clothes, me on her tail. I pull up a foot short, and glower at the two of them.

"Come on Casanova, what's the deal with Ash?"

" ? What deal?" This is going to be easy, it's a well known fact that Brock, although a great breakfast cook, needs a breakfast to get the thinking part of his brain into first gear. Right about now, the starter motor isn't even on.

"The deal which means he has to get the water. And the one which Pikachu finds incredibly funny, too funny to tell me." He flounders like a caught Magikarp, eyes on my mallet.

"Uh, uh, he made a joke about you and we threatened to tell you if he didn't!" Yeah, right. Ash hasn't been out of earshot from me since eight last night, and they would've sniggered then if he had told them the joke beforehand.

"Okay then slick, what was the joke?" Another Magikarp impression, this time Pikachu jumps in.

("He said what's the difference between Misty and a Muk - he'd sleep with a Muk.") Ooooh, that was below the belt Pikachu. That could be getting him in more trouble with me than whatever they're hiding.

" ..what?" I put an overload of pissed-off tone into my voice, and see Pikachu quail. She knows that if Ash finds out what she just said there'll be more than hell to pay, especially if I really gave him a proper going over.

("Uh..(Brock, help!)") She whispers frantically.

"(What can I do?)"

("(Think of something!)") It's all I can do to avoid cracking up as, after frantic whispering, Brock puts on a feeble smile and attempts to meet my eye.

"Uh, I woke up and saw him checking you out while you were pulling your change of clothes out of the bag." Pikachu slaps her head and sweatdrops, and I know he's telling the truth. Then the truth seems to smack me on the cheeks, turning them both bright red. To distract them from this I go back on the offensive. One swift swish of my mallet, and Brock is seeing stars.

"That's for lying to me." Another swish, and Pikachu has pidgeys circling her head. "And that's for the joke, which I didn't find particularly funny." I re-pocket the mallet as a distant rustling heralds Ash's return, and move to pick up my clothes again. A few seconds later he crashes through a bush, and re-enters the clearing carrying a bowl almost overflowing with water. He sees me staring at him, and reddens slightly. Yeah, Brock was telling me the truth alright. He sets the bowl down, spins on his heel and heads towards the trees again. "And where do you think you're going?" He freezes on the spot.

"To get firewood. And some berries for breakfast, if I can find them." I see him clench his fist as he mentions berries, he always gets designated to pick them because he'll usually be the easiest one to persuade (or threaten) but I can see the scratches on his arms and hands from here. It's not surprising really, the berries are mostly eaten by Pokemon, as the long thorns which surround them are not fun for anyone without fur or leathery skin.

"Don't worry, I'm sure Pikachu and Brock will go and get everything, won't you?"

"Uh, maybe." the mumbled reply.

"Pardon?!" A single cocked eyebrow is enough to suggest to them an infinite amount of tortures which will possibly be experienced if they don't move their backsides pronto.

"Uh, yes! Straight away ma'am!" Brock almost salutes as he rushes off, Pikachu in tow.

"How did you get them to do that?" Ash asks, idly ambling back to his sleeping place, and bending to stroke Chikorita.

"Just a little persuasion.." I whip out the mallet again, and blow some imaginary dust from its head before pocketing it again.

"Should've guessed." He bends down to rummage in his bag. "Anyhow, I'm going to go change now.." Um, wasn't he already changed when I woke up?

"You've already changed." I fold my arms, looking him up and down. "You look fine to me.." I then see what he's concealing, well trying to, in his hands. "Ah, I see. Don't worry Ash, it happens to all of us sometime." He looks thunderstruck, and I can't help laughing, especially when Chikorita starts screaming with laughter beside him.

"Uh, no, nothing like that has happened. At all." I calm down just enough to snigger a question.

"Well what is it then?"

"Uh, I kinda woke up this morning and they'd gone.." I sink to my knees, eyes blurring with tears of mirth. " I guess I could've put that better." He mumbles, face turning red as a cherry, wringing the pair of boxers in his hands.

("Aaah-haahaahaaaaa!") Chikorita pounds the earth with her front paws as he makes his rather embarrassed way out of the campsite to change. Eventually we sober up, and I begin to feel a little sheepish.

"I wish I hadn't done that. He's been really embarrassed about things of a...personal nature for years, especially recently."

("I don't know why. He's got no problems around Pokemon, but he won't let any human see him without a shirt on recently, let alone anything less. Odd isn't it?") We both think for a moment in silence.

"But he's been complaining about the heat. It's only early to mid spring. And yet still he insists in covering up. He's always been quite modest, but recently it's been extreme, he's even more secretive than me. Girls are usually more private, but he breaks the mould." I think for another moment, and then continue. "It's ever since he got that diary, and got this fascination with fire. He's changed subtly in other ways too." She nods in agreement.

("He's less argumentative, more withdrawn. Also, when training he's gotten very quick reflexes, and become more agile. Odd.") He chooses that moment to walk back into the campsite, still with a cherry-like complexion. I get up from my kneeling position, and smile at him.

"Feeling fully dressed now? Sure you're not going to go and lose yourself again?" It's evil I know, but I can't help it.

"Uh, yeah."

"Okay, I'm going to go change now." I walk over to the nearest big tree, and step behind it. I know it's wrong to wind him up more, but I can't help it..I poke my head out from beside the tree, and with a coy wink, call over to him "and no peeking!" I didn't think it humanly possible to go any redder, but he does. I hurriedly strip off my pyjamas and slip on my usual attire for the last few weeks, a sky-blue skinny-rib top and denim shorts, before tying my hair back in a ponytail which falls down the back of my neck. I admit I've been doing this to get a certain friend to notice me a little more, and from what I've ascertained it's working. Well, he does blush a lot. I pace back out to see him deep in quiet conversation with Chikorita, and I move over to my bag to put my stuff away. I can just pick out a few words he's saying.

"Green..no, not silk that's too pricey, besides cotton is more suitable..yeah, silk can be too hot..yellow trim, yeah that'll go with...leaves or flowers..both? Okay, I'll alternate.."

"Hey Ash, it sounds like you're planning a garden show over there!" He looks up at me, and frowns.

("Actually, Ash is going to ma.")

"Buy her a pair of pyjamas, and she's telling me what she'd like." He turns to face me, running fingers through his hair. "After her that sleeping bag she's liked the idea of pyjamas." I look over the sleeping bag, it sure is cute. Pale green, with a patterned leaf motif.

"It's really nice. Hey, do you think you could get me the number of whoever makes them, so I can get one for Togepi?" He scratches his head, and Chikorita looks up at him with mild concern.

"Uh, he asked that I keep it under wraps. He can only make one thing at a time, and I promised that I wouldn't tell anyone else who it is. And sorry, but that includes you, I keep my promises."

"But Aaaa-aaaash!" Normally if I complain enough I can get my way with him, but I can see it's no sale this time.

"No, sorry. But if you give me Togepis rough measurements I can get him one." I relent, and nod. "Okay, I'll send him the details with those for Chikoritas pyjamas."

"Mind if I ask why you want pyjamas?" Chikorita looks up at me with a smile.

("They look nice, and feel nice.") I'm curious. How does she know how they feel?

"Have you worn any before?"

("No, but Ash wraps his around me on cold nights, and they feel pretty comfy then") I notice Ash is blushing again.

"Awwww, that's so sweet!" I croon, pushing his embarrassment to boiling point for the third time in ten minutes. I don't know why, but I just love doing this.

"Anything for my Pokemon." He brushes it away, and moves back to his things. "Now, I'm going to get packed up before Brock and Pikachu can get back, so once breakfast is done we can help them sort out their things and move out. Then we might just get to the next town by nightfall." Makes sense.

"Okay, let's get set. Betcha I can pack up before you!"

"You're on!"

("Twice!") Chikorita adds, scurrying to her own things. It's fun to have a little childish competition with Ash, especially if it leads to one of out trademark arguments. I begin stuffing my sleeping bag into it's container..

"Done!" I shoot upright and spin around. He's not joking either, he's packed up and ready to go. In under ten seconds. I notice Chikorita looking completely gobsmacked, her sleeping bag half-rolled.

("How in the name of Lugia...") He nervously rubs the back of his head, looking like he doesn't really know either.

"I-I guess practice makes perfect!" I look him in the eye, and see that he's more than a little confused.

"Yeah, that's right. But what you make is about thirty seconds below it. Well, since you're such an expert, would you care to help me with mine?" He smiles nervously, and picks up my pyjama trousers, folding them up neatly. "Since when did you become civilised?" I jibe gently.

"Since it occurred to me that you can't be ten for over six years." He's right, he certainly doesn't look ten any more. For a second I let my eyes rove hungrily across him, and at six-one, there's a lot. He doesn't seem to realise it, but he's become hot property among the entire female population of, well, the world. A tall guy, getting pretty muscular too, his black hair now kept in some semblance of style, swept back and across, and tied back. Also a massively popular and respected trainer, especially since the incident in the last championship final. An incident which he still is unable to get over. And it isn't the fact he lost, it was what happened in that match...and this guy, most eligible bachelor in Kanto and Johto put together is the same one that was checking me out this morning.

"Uh, Misty." I suddenly realise that he's standing in front of me, holding my pyjamas in his hands.


"Do you want to put these away?" He holds out the clothes to me.

"Why don't you?" He looks at me with nervousness etched on his face.

"Because normally you won't let any guy within six feet of it."

"Hey, it's no problem, you can put them away for me. Just don't go looking at my diary okay? Oh, or my lingerie." Chikorita is right, that line would have catastrophic effects on the average teenage guy, but he just looks horribly embarrassed. He opens the top flap, and puts them gently inside, before zipping it shut again. "Oh, and open my front pocket, and pass me my deodorant." He complies, flipping the can to me. I take off the top and spray myself over, sticking one arm into my top to get to my chest and back, before tossing it back to him.

"Can I borrow some of this?" I'll admit that took me by surprise.

"Sure, but isn't it a little feminine for you?" He pops the cap off, and smiles slightly.

"Nah, I kinda like it myself. It always smelt good on you, and I think that means it'll smell good on me too." ...Erm... Now you could knock me down with a feather. I never ever thought he'd say that.

"Thanks." He looks at me a little awkwardly, before hurriedly lifting up his shirt to spray his stomach, dropping it quickly again afterwards. He puts the top back on, and drops it into the side pocket. "now if you'll excuse me, I've got a little business to which I must attend." He paces off into the bush on one side, as I can hear Brock approaching from the other.

("Am I being paranoid, or was Ash being really, really weird just then?") Chikorita eyes me with concern, and I nod back.

"Yeah, but keep it under wraps. We want to work out what's up before we go telling the world. And that includes the other two."

("You got it. I don't want to put my pyjamas in jeopardy.") She chuckles, using her vines to tie up her little bag and lever it into Ash's backpack.

"No wonder he's getting so muscular, anyone would have big shoulders after carrying around yours and Pikachus stuff for ages." I suddenly realise I've said this aloud, and my eyes flick back down to her, seeing a wry smile on her lips. "Maybe it'd be better if you didn't tell him I told you that..."
Thank goodness, I never thought I'd be so glad to see civilisation. Now, at last I get to have a little time to myself. Looking at Ash's face, below the yellow glow of the streetlights, he mirrors my sentiments exactly. Although for different reasons, He's got something up, and I don't know what it is. As for me, well, I'm glad to get the chance to flirt a little. I'm feeling like more and more of a third wheel recently, it's obvious that they only have eyes for each other, Misty and Ash. They don't argue like they used to any more, at least then I could use a few snide remarks to let off some steam at being the odd one out. They fight now and then, although it's now more of an in-joke. Which makes it less fun for me watching. Also Ash has become almost completely passive over the last few months, which disturbs me to say the least. The incident at the Indigo plateau has had an effect, that's for sure.

"D'you think they have a shopping centre?" Misty looks like she's champing at the bit.

"Not at nine in the night." Her face falls in response.

"Yeah, true." But her eyes light up again as we walk through the town. This place seems to have more shoe shops than Paris, more boutiques than New York. It's about now I'm delighted Ash gave us the hurry-up, and we got here this evening rather than tomorrow morning, at least I'll have a good night's sleep in a proper bed before facing Misty with a credit card and a calculating expression. Ever since she came into some money, which she says was from some distant aunt who died and split her finances between her living relatives. She made sure she waved it in Ash's face, who didn't seem to mind. In fact, he almost looked delighted.

"I can't wait to fall onto a bed which actually has springs." He zones out, expression unfocused. He really has been worrying me recently.

("We call the shower!") Pikachu and Chikorita high-five over his head, pleased to bag it first.

"Second!" Ah, damn it, too slow. That was Misty, which means that I'm going to be waiting a loooong time. I glance at Ash, who still seems oblivious. Well, I might as well complete the ritual.

"Third!" I wait for response. None forthcoming. If I can't wind him up.. "And you three, make sure you clean out the hair from the shower before I get there okay?"

"Brock!" Misty yells, almost seeming to swell in size.

"Let's look at this sensibly shall we? You..." I point to her "...shave your armpits every single time we get to a room and never, ever get rid of the result. And you two..." I look at Chikorita and Pikachu "...are furry and tend to moult when you get soaking wet. So don't leave me cleaning it out, okay?!" They look a little taken aback, and I chuckle. Maybe I should try being evil Brock more often. We go back to walking in silence, gazing in shop windows. Something is wrong about this whole scenario. Then it clicks. "Hey Pikachu, doesn't something seem wrong right about now?" I call to her, on the other side of Ash's head.

("Uh, dunno. What are you thinking is wrong?")

"Well, where are we?" She still looks puzzled.

("Just coming into Morston city.") She pokes her head out so she can see me, and I shoot her a sly grin.

"So we're coming into a new city. Doesn't it seem unusually quiet?"

("Yeah, it is late evening.")

"But doesn't it seem rather quiet around us in particular?" I see a tiny smile break on her lips, she gets it too. Chikorita, on the shoulder nearest to me, starts to grin.

("Yes, it does.")

("Then why don't we make it more like it usually is?") Chikorita suggests, now wearing a slightly snide smile.

("On three?") Pikachu calls across from the seemingly still oblivious Ash's right shoulder.

("One.") Chikorita sticks a vine in the air.

("Two.") Pikachu raises a hand.

" !" Instantly we start doing spirited over-excited Ash impressions.

"I wonder where the gym is!" (Me)

("We'll beat them easy right Pikachu?!") (Pikachu)

("Pika!") (Chikorita).

"I can't wait to get a new badge!"

("Where's the food?!") Pikachu chirrups, giggling madly.

"Where's the bed?" I can't help it, I'm really getting into this.

("Food in bed? Gimmie!") Chikorita again.

"Are you the gym leader? Let's battle!" I squeak, pretending to turn an imaginary cap backwards and throw a pokeball.

("Yeah! I got a..")

"SHUT UP!" Misty nearly blows Pikachu of Ash's shoulder and me into a wall. She just about recovers her balance at around the same time Misty has enough breath to let off a full tirade.

"That was uncalled for! Uncalled for and heartless! If it was me you were insulting you'd be breathing through tubes for a month!" She shoots a look up at Ash, who is breaking the world record for the blankest stare in history, but obviously sees something there because she goes nuclear on us again. "I would tell you to apologise right about now but it's his choice if he wants you to, not mine. But if you ever go off at him like that again..." She breaks off, chest heaving for breath, but makes her point clear by giving us a venomous look which could make Chikoritas leaf wither in the space of a second. Any other conversation is broken off by Ash redoubling his pace without a moment's warning, and we have to jog to catch up with him. I can't quite see Mistys problem, it was only a little joke after all, wasn't it? The easiest way to hit a nerve with Misty is to involve Ash, whether you criticise him where she jumps to his defence, or if you praise him where she replies with snide put-downs. And god help whoever insinuates that their relationship is anything more than good friends...I can see the Pokemon centre up ahead, and feel a sudden urge to get inside as soon as possible. Anything is better than walking with one friend not responding to a word you say and the other ready to set alight to your trousers. After too long just walking towards the sign we eventually reach the automatic doors, which swish open as if to welcome us and usher us in. Joy looks up from the desk, and for a moment the pink mist descends until Misty catches my eye. Not tonight Brock, not tonight.

"How can I help you?" She looks up at us in that well practised manner, and I have to bite my lip to keep my feet on the ground.

"Uh, we'd like a room for four please!" She glances around, and frowns at us.

"Four? There's only three of you..."

("There's FIVE of us in case you didn't notice!") Chikorita scowls from Ash's shoulder. Joy looks at her in confusion so I translate, minus the indignation.

"Ah, I see. Now, what do we have?" A few keys tapped, head bent over the laptop on the desk. "Hmmm, the biggest we've got is a three, we've got a two, and two one bed rooms. The one bed rooms have no shower though."

"I'll take a single, you three go for the big room." Ash's voice makes me jump, since he's been silent for quite a while. It sounds wrong, somehow forced.

"But won't you..." Misty began, only to be cut off.

"No, it's fine. Honestly, leave the doubles for those that need them." He keeps his eyes to the floor, which is worrying. He never fails to look life in the eye.

("At least let me come in with you.") Pikachu begs, clinging onto his head tightly.

"Sorry Pikachu, but you should go with the others, else you won't be able to have a shower. Honestly." Joy drops the key onto the desk, and after depositing Pikachu and Chikorita onto the floor he wordlessly picks it up and moves towards the rooms on the other side of the building.

"Is your friend alright? He seems awfully...under the weather." Joy looks back at us, frowning.

"I wish I knew, I really do." Misty sighs resignedly. I wish I did too, but I can't do anything about him right now. She drops the keys on the table, and we head off to our room, next door to Ash. I can't help feeling that a single wall isn't going to be enough for him to get the peace he wants tonight.
The pen scratches frantically across the paper, babbling brook-like with words I'm afraid to say.

"It's happening again. My emotions are a blur, thoughts a mess. I'm growing again, growing in the wrong places. Its like my body doesn't know what to do either. What's going on? I don't understand, don't understand what's happening. Don't understand why I feel the need to cry. It's like going through puberty in a few moments, but different. I'm beginning to look..different. Why? It happened a few times in the past but never for more than a few days. Why is it different? More prolonged? Is there a change coming? I wish someone could answer me, right now I'm just scared and alone. I never understood what hormones were but they could never work as fast as this, and in the wrong way. I can't tell anyone, I can't go to anyone. I'm alone this time, and helpless."

I snap closed my journal, letting a few tears drip onto the cover. I can't look at the mirror, I can't. It's hanging there, taunting me, begging me to look up. But I know what I'll see, I'll see me changing. I know there are diseases and syndromes which cause this, but never so rapid or drastic. I can't comprehend what's going on, or why. But I'm becoming less and less like Ash. I'm still technically me but..it's hopeless. My eyes flick up, unbidden, just to take in my reflection again. I'm changing shape, changing figure. It's almost as if I'm evolving, whether the by-product of some incident past, I have no idea. I can't even go and get a shower, I have to figure out some way of concealing my body but not my face until I work out what the hell to do. At least I haven't got a tail...But the way things are going that's scant comfort. It's going to be a long night...

The next chapter will be up in the next week or so, if you feel inclined to keep reading! Don't forget to leave any comments you want! Dan A.K.A. Silent Sigh