When it Rains

By-abbylicious

Summary-Misty gets pregnant after a night of drunken mistakes, but Ash doesn't know he's the father. After almost five years apart, Ash is a returning Pokémon Master and Misty is still a strong-minded woman, plagued by the past. They meet again at Ash's homecoming party, where things begin to fall apart.

Disclaimer-If I owned any part of Pokémon, not only would the characters develop major psychological problems, but it probably would have been canceled years ago.

Chapter Nine-Where You Left Me

There had been no dream, not even something one could call a nightmare, only deep, endless, engulfing blackness. It was as if an invisible blanket of shadows had been suffocating her, preventing her from being reunited with the light of consciousness.

She had known they were there, had felt their devoted presence. The darkness seemed to break away in layers, each one bringing her closer to those watching over her. She was so sleepy, but she wanted so badly to be awake again... When she finally forced her heavy eyelids to open, she pushed a sound of distress out of her throat, hoping someone would help her out of this dark nothingness...

Everything seemed to happen surreally, as if the world were moving in slow motion. Misty's magazine fell to the floor as she stood; Ash forgot his stiffening joints as he joined her at Chiharu's side.

Misty swept her daughter's deep brown hair away from her eyes as she begged, "Chiharu? Chiharu, sweetheart, it's mommy; can you hear me?" When the small girl groaned in response, Misty turned to Ash. "Go get the doctor, quick," she demanded as he sprinted for the door.

Seconds later, the weary physician was shining a thin light into Chiharu's pupils as she readily tried to bat it away. "Mommy," she mumbled anxiously.

"It's okay, honey, I'm right here; it's all going to be all right..." Misty held tightly to Chiharu's hand.

"Okay, Chiharu," the doctor said, "I need you to look at me now, please... That's it. Now, follow my fingers with your eyes..." He held his hands out and moved them while Chiharu completed the test. "Okay, good," he said. "Now," he continued as he gently felt Chiharu's temples, "tell me if it hurts when I do this." He moved his massaging over her entire head and mentally recorded her answers. Next, he asked her to tell him what year it was, which she answered correctly. After that came a reciting of the alphabet, followed by one last prodding to check for any possible nerve damage. When the doctor smiled discreetly at Ash and Misty, they felt immensely relieved.

"Well, Chiharu, you are a very lucky young lady. Your stats are looking good, and your concussion is very minor. You did do a little number on that left arm of yours, but we'll remove that cast in about six weeks," the doctor reported.

Chiharu was actively looking about the room, still in disbelief to have found herself in a hospital. She was tired, but she was fighting it off. She looked at Misty's face and said, "I'm thirsty," in a faraway voice. Misty let out an adoring, relieved laugh at her daughter's request and pressed her lips to her forehead in a loving kiss. Chiharu's voice seemed the sweetest sound in the world to her... Thinking of her gentle, beautiful daughter safely in her arms again made her vow ever stronger to never let her life be threatened again...

Misty began filling a plastic cup with water as the doctor straightened up and spoke softly and directly to Ash and Misty.

"She's going to be tired for the next few hours," he indicated Chiharu, "and she'll probably drift in and out of sleep. We'll need to keep her longer for observation, but I think she'll make a full recovery. Also, as her memory and thoughts become clearer, she'll begin talking more often and be more curious about what happened to her. I'll give her some painkillers before I leave."

Misty quickly settled Chiharu with her water and turned to the doctor. "Thank you," she said, "so much." He smiled back at her and left the family to reunite in private.

"Chiharu, Chiharu, sweetie?" Misty choked on her watery words as she watched Chiharu's eyes flutter and squint. "You're okay honey; you're just fine and safe... Oh God..." Saying the words more for her own benefit than for Chiharu, Misty lovingly touched her daughter's forehead ad petted her hands and kissed her teary, salty face again and again. Chiharu was becoming more active and awake as things transpired.

"Mommy," Chiharu mumbled, "mommy, I fell! I fell in water! A big, lots of water...," she exclaimed as her words turned into a tiny cough.

"Shh," Misty replied soothingly, "it's okay Chiharu, sweetie; don't talk now... I'm so glad you came back to me...," she whispered. She nuzzled her daughter's cheek and felt warm tears fall from her smiling eyes. After a few moments, she lifted her head.

"Honey, why don't you just try and get some rest? The doctor said..."

"I'm not sleepy...," Chiharu protested as her eyes drooped. "I don't want to go to sleep again!" There was real fear in her voice.

Misty opened her mouth to reassure her, but, surprisingly, Ash broke his silence and stepped in.

Stooping close over the girl, he said, "Chiharu, this will be a different kind of sleep. You'll wake up in a few hours and feel much better. And you'll have nice dreams..."

Chiharu focused on Ash as if just realizing he was in the room. Misty actually looked upon him in a similar manner. Chiharu's brain was so fuzzy and tired, and Ash's words seemed so comforting... Just the way his voice sounded... She didn't have enough will power to refuse his persuasion.

After cooing something incoherent, the little girl let her body fall limp into a deep slumber. Misty smiled gently and stoked her head to help her in the journey. Ash stood on the opposite side of the bed and watched them both in silence as the minutes slowly passed. Gazing upon mother and daughter, reunited, his heart filled with an almost painful warmth. The pair had survived so sufficiently and independently without him that he was forced to wonder how his presence would upset the balance now. His head filled with terrifying thoughts of Chiharu rejecting him, disliking him, of Misty not...needing him to help raise their daughter... And who was to say he was even capable of being a parent? Just look what had happened in the first few hours of his revelation! Chiharu had nearly... He could not even bring himself to think it! He despaired to think what might have happened if he and Misty hadn't found Chiharu when they did...

Looking down at this girl, this tiny, ever fragile life, his daughter, he became overwhelmed with the thought of failing her, losing her... Oh, how he had come to love her! It seemed impossible to love someone so much after having known her only a few days, but he loved his little girl, his little Chiharu... And if he couldn't be a part of her life, if things turned out so horribly wrong, he honestly felt his heart would fall to pieces...

He was sure Misty didn't notice his timid hand gently grasping Chiharu's or the single tear that descended his cheek. She was undoubtedly lost in her own similar thoughts. After a few more silent moments and a deep, discreetly sorrowful sigh, Ash's boyish habits took over and he could stand the absence of talking no longer. He pushed the depressing thoughts to the back of his head for later use. Afraid to wake Chiharu, he made motions with his hands to Misty to move into the hallway. He caught a slight, gratifying smile on her lips as she nodded and gave Chiharu a soft kiss farewell.

After swinging the door closed, Ash and Misty stood facing each other in the hallway. They stared at one another until smiles broke out uncontrollably on their faces. Chiharu's recovery had made for an excellent relief of tension for both of them, especially since nearly all of their cards had now officially been laid on the table, even if it had been done quite messily.

Ash shoved his hands into his pockets and spoke first. "You, uh, you haven't eaten in a while... You haven't left Chiharu's bedside since we got here."

Misty looked down at her feet. "Yeah, I know. I couldn't leave her," she said confidently.

"Well," he began as he took a step closer to her, "why don't you take a break for a while? Head down to the cafeteria for some coffee." She looked moderately guilty. "Hey, I can hang out with Chiharu for a while. If you don't eat, you'll pass out, and then both my girls will be hospitalized..." The words slipped out before he could help himself. Misty's eyes darted around the floor in discomfort as Ash tried to find something to do with his hands. He settled on running them through his hair. Eventually their eyes met accidentally, and they began laughing nervously. Misty felt like she was 13 again, and yet, her expression changed when she glanced at Chiharu's door. Ash noticed her dilemma and forgot his embarrassment. He touched her shoulder and was surprised when Misty melted easily into his embrace.

"She's okay, she's going to be just fine...," he whispered in her ear. He couldn't help noticing the way her hair smelled like rain and his mother's shampoo.

"I know. I know!" She fought tears as she tried to convince her stubborn self. "Okay," she relented as she turned to face him. "I'll go and come right back."

"Good." His eyes slowly explored her face as both recalled stormy kisses... Misty seemed disappointed as she slid out of his arms. Before she walked away, however, Ash caught her smiling figure delicately by the wrist.

"Misty?"

"Yes?" she replied, breathlessly.

"Don't forget to try the fat-free jell-o cups. I hear they're excellent," he said with unfaltering seriousness.

Misty released an exasperated sigh and hid her laughter as she walked away from Ash's smirk.

After making sure Misty had retreated in the direction of the cafeteria, Ash had returned to Chiharu's side and become entranced by her heart monitor. It was soothing to follow the rhythmic beep, knowing it reflected the sounds of Chiharu's heart. However, this activity left his mind to wander, and he could not prevent himself from revisiting his thoughts.

He replayed the events of the past four days and tried to make sense of it all. He hadn't even dared to hope Misty would come to his "surprise" party, and just seeing her again had been enough of a shock. Nothing in the world could have prepared him for the knowledge of being a father.

In his years away, Misty had become the only woman he could imagine himself with. Everyday he had cursed his cowardice and prayed for any sort of contact with her whatsoever. And even then, he was taunted by the uncertainty of her feelings for him. Did she really love him at all? He had become so sure of how much he cared for her... That made thinking she had a child by another man almost unbearable. But even then, he could not convince himself not to fall for her again! He had been delighted in Chiharu's company before he knew of her true paternity. This fact was probably the reason he felt less anger now towards Misty's dishonesty. It was still hard for him to understand and he felt he could weep for days over the loss of so many years with his daughter, but the urge to start a relationship with Chiharu in the present was stronger than his grief. However, he really didn't know where to go from this point. His and Misty's feelings were still greatly up in the air and he was unclear as to what she wanted. A part of him was ready to just propose to her the second she walked back into the hospital room, but the rational Ash said that was not the way to go. This was something delicate, that needed to be taken slowly, and he absolutely could not think of him and Misty. He couldn't let himself make plans like that when there was such a huge chance they would be for naught. If he was to be perfectly honest with himself, he had no concrete idea how Misty felt about him and she had no idea how he felt about her. The concept was devastatingly hard for him to accept, but he had to face the reality of continuing to live a life separate from Misty...

Suddenly, Ash turned to the door.

"Excuse me, sir," an unknown woman said as she entered the room, "there's someone on the telephone for you." Ash looked at her questioningly.

"You can take the call in here, if you'd like...," she commented as she motioned towards the phone in the corner. Ash nodded and dismissed her.

He had hardly put the receiver to his ear and said hello before the worried voice of his mother broke through the line. After a few moments of unintelligible yelling, Ash was able to explain what had happened. However, his recount of events scarcely seemed to put his mother's mind at ease.

"Chiharu is in the hospital? Is she all right! What is her condition? Is she conscious? What's going on? Where's Misty? Are you hurt?"

"Mom, please, slow down... Chiharu's doing fine, Misty's fine, we're all fine... It was scary for a while, but everything's under control..."

"Oh my goodness... Darling, I will be there as soon as I can... I'm at the makeshift severe weather shelter and we're just trying to get organized now... They say the worst of the storm has indeed passed, though."

Ash looked outside and noticed for the first time that it had stopped raining. "Mom, you really don't need to come. By the time you even get a chance, Chiharu might be ready to be released..."

Dear Readers,

I'm indeed truly sorry to admit that this is as far as I ever got with this story. I recognize and appreciate all the wonderful reviews I received, and I feel terribly guilty about not providing you with an ending. However, I haven't looked at this story for nearly a year, and it would be dishonest to tell you I'll ever try to finish it. The truth is, while Pokémon will always hold a dear place in my heart, writing about it now just bores me to death. I'm very sorry to everyone I may disappoint. After so long an absence, I felt that my faithful readers deserved some sort of closure, however weak and unsatisfactory it may be.

However... I'm aware that there are many very distinguished authors at FanFiction. Quite a few of these individuals may have better ideas for an ending to my story than I could ever think up. Now, I'm not offering a contest or anything, but if YOU would want to write an ending, or a continuation even, I would gladly give you credit for it. My creation would be yours to mold... If you feel like it, you could type something up and send it off to my email address as an attachment. I would post all "entries" under the original author(s) name(s), or, if you're uncomfortable with that, we can work something else out. Hell, if you're really good, you can have the rights to the whole thing and re-post it under your penname. But this little idea is only an option; if no one replies to it, that's okay. I just thought maybe someone out there might enjoy this opportunity...

Remember, I'll take all endings/continuations as attachments at my email address. Comments, rants, bashings, and praise are all welcome there as well!

Please accept my sincerest apologies once again...

Love,

abbylicious