Edited (2019-01-02)

Summary: Follows coma theory: Ash wakes up from a ten year coma to realize that all of his adventures were only a figment of his imagination; but he questions if they were more than that. Everything has changed in ten years, and he must put back all the shattered pieces while he embarks on a new journey to save the world and himself. Pokeshipping

Genre: Romance/drama

sub-genre: hurt/comfort/adventure

Rating: Teen

Pairings: Pokeshipping, Rocketshipping, partial mentions of others

Disclaimer: I don't own the Pokemon anime, the Pokemon games, or the Pokemon characters involved.

Locked Away, Chapter 1

All day, Ash had been feeling a bit odd. His head was a little fuzzy, and his entire body ached beneath his clothes; though he could not recall why.

Ash, Clemont, Bonnie and Serena were passing through a small town on their way to Victory Road. Having just collected his final badge, he was well on his way to his sixth league tournament. This time he would walk away champion. This time was different. Ash could feel it.

Unlike other regions, Kalos infrastructure was classic, and large. Buildings, even in smaller towns, were three times larger than anywhere else he traveled so far. Each town was memorable in its own way, for one distinct reason or another. So, as they crossed through yet another nameless town, the smell of multiple vineyards penetrated his senses. He couldn't see them, but he was sure that somewhere around the rustic, antic buildings, that were miles of grape fields ready to harvest. Ash sniffed happily, embracing the many different cultures he had found over the years. Every region had a characteristic of its own; Kalos was no different. Its majestic ruse came from romantic lights, carefully placed signs, and authentic, old-fashioned restaurants that the group walked by.

Typically, Ash found joy in every aspect of the journey, every new scent, every new sight, every new and exciting adventure... but today he was feeling more sluggish than ever before. Even the mouse resting on his shoulder was heavier than his typical weightless. Ash wondered if it might have been something they ate, because yesterday, they were energized and ready to win their first championship match. Instead, Ash thought that pikachu looked painfully ill.

"You sure you're okay, buddy?" Ash asked while scratching the electric pokemon's ears. It squealed at him happily, eliciting a loud sigh while it hopped down from his shoulder and into Ash's arms, where the worried trainer then cradled it.

Clemont raised his eyebrows and smiled.

"He's probably just tired, Ash. I wouldn't worry so much," the blonde laughed with a wave o his hand, as Bonnie ran up ahead.

"Oh, look guys, there an ice cream shop! Can we stop there?" Bonnie jumped gleefully.

Ahead of them was an out of place, red and grey diner. Matched with old-fashioned awnings to cover the street, and large, circular windows. He didn't think too much about the idea that it seemed out of place, and instead, Ash tried his best to muster a smile, but the dull ache from earlier that morning pounded the joy from his face. Clemont and Serena answered for him with their own cheers of excitement.

"That sounds great after our long walk, don't you think, Ash?" Serena turned to him, smiling as brightly as the sun, but Ash returned the gesture weakly while he rubbed his stomach, feeling very hungry. No matter how much he ate lately, he was never satisfied.

A look of worry washed over Serena's face as Clemont ran forward to follow his younger sister into the ice cream cafe.

"Are you feeling okay, Ash? You've been acting kind of funny since yesterday," she said coolly while extending her hand to brush his forehead.

Her hand never made contact, however, as the ten-year old boy pushed himself away and shook his head.

"I'm fine, just a little hot is all." He muttered halfheartedly.

Eventually he looked up, using his hand to shield the rest of the light that his hat didn't cover. The sun hadn't shifted form it's noon-day position even though after their walk into the city, it should have been well into the evening by now. Ash didn't have long to think about it because the sudden, the boiling heat made his throat dry. It was also winter last he checked, wasn't it? He tugged on his collar slightly, burning up as he swallowed against a lump that formed in his throat, and followed Serena into the parlor behind his friends.

When the doors opened, a cold gust of wind smashed into him, knocking the breath out of him. Trying not to wince, he trudged through the ice-cream shop, forcing a smile to his lips as he took a seat beside Serena in the booth. Bonnie and Serena both sat beside the window, carefully plucking out menu items that sounded interesting while Ash placed pikachu on the corner of the table. It wasn't very often that Ash let Pikachu have ketchup, but on days celebrating his most recent entry into the championships, he would treat the pokemon.

"Here Pikachu," Ash muttered happily, handing a bottle of smashed tomato to the yellow pokemon, but he merely shook his head, and crawled down from the metal table and back into Ash's lap, where it curled up into a slight ball against his stomach. Ash's face scrunched up as he removed his hat.

"I don't think Pikachu is feeling well, guys." Ash muttered while fanning the small pokemon. He stroked its yellow fur while his companions raised their eyebrows and smiled softly.

"Like we said, he's probably just tired." Serena paused, brushing her hand through her short hair after removing her own hat. "We all are," she added with a curt smile.

Ash couldn't muster the same feeling of confidence because he still felt an embroiled heat threatening to burst from his chest. Maybe he was the one feeling unwell? The leather seats of the booth had no feeling beneath his legs; instead, he felt like he was floating, drifting into a haze of his own world when the waitress approached them.

"What will it be for you folks?" She asked, having red-hair and a cheerful, pale smile. She had gorgeous cerulean green eyes that Ash felt looked oddly similar to someone else that he knew, but neglected to mention it before his friends started their orders.

"I'll have a chocolate sundae!" Bonnie exclaimed. It was also Ash's favorite dessert.

"Me, too, actually," Ash added to Bonnie's order quickly as the waitress scratched down the information and smiled happily at the group. Serena ordered a fancier desert, with Clemont opting out of desert all together, in favor of fries. Ash could have gone for some fries as well, maybe even a full burger.

"Actually, can I get a burger and fries, too, with a glass of ice water?" he added quickly, feeling the pit in his stomach worsen. The waitress smiled that oh-so-familiar grin and tilted her head slightly.

"Sure can, just give us about ten minutes." With a nod of her head, and a spin of her heels, she was off into the kitchen where she tossed the staff the order before stalking off to another group at another table, who Ash couldn't see the faces of.

Stroking Pikachu's fur habitually, Ash rubbed the back of his neck with the other, lost in his own thoughts while Bonnie talked with Serena, and Clemont picked at one of his newest inventions: the replacement of pokeball transfer systems. It would have been super handy, considering the fact that most of the time a trainer needed to trade his pokemon, they were in the middle of nowhere, far, far away from a pokemon center.

However, as the swirl of the ceiling fan hummed above them, Ash found it hard to keep his focus, almost like he was being drained from the inside out. Seconds later, even though the waitress had told them ten minutes, their meal was ready. The green-eyed waitress set Ash's meal down first, with the glass of ice water, and then stalked off to grab the ice cream and Clemont's fries. Worriedly, the smell of food was lost to the young trainer who picked at his burger, relating the taste to tree bark or cardboard.

"Does this taste stale to you?" he grumbled, pushing the plate to Clemont. Serena looked worriedly at Ash, this time touching his head. He felt normal, so she shrugged.

"You must have caught a small cold or something..." she hummed thoughtfully, while sipping her shake.

Ash shrugged in response and drifted into his own chocolate sundae, and thoughts. As his eyes opened and closed lazily, he thought for a while that falling asleep would be a wonderful feeling. Once or twice, he dozed off, listening carefully to the unstructured scratches of Bonnie's pencil against white paper. She and Serena were designing a new look for Serena's show cases. Those two were always so creative.

When he opened his eyes again, everything took a white hue; Clemont looked like he was glowing while he tinkered with his screwdriver, and hummed a random song to himself.

A few tables away, Ash could finally see the face of the lady a few rows down from him—a young woman with auburn hair and brown eyes. Her face was pale white, and stony. But familiar. When he saw that face before, she always smiled at him; there was never any room for worry unless she was angry—which was rare.

"...Mom?" Ash asked, his voice waking him from his trance. Everything returned to normal, even the waitress whom he associated with, that had red hair and a slender body, walked around a bit chubby and had brown hair. He shook his head, feeling the slight head rush.

What was that? He thought, but didn't have long to decide as he looked at Serena and Bonnie, who did not hear him speak.

"Did you say something?" Bonnie looked up to Ash with her big, doe eyes and while sparing a single glance back at the table where he saw his stone-faced mother previously; he shrugged.

"It's nothing," Ash said, looking at the elderly couple, who fed a toddler spoonfuls of baby food. He felt better though – even though he hadn't touched his food, his stomach no longer felt like it had a gaping hole in it. In fact, his entire body felt lighter; but his mind betrayed him. A thought ran through his head briefly-when was the last time he had money?

"How are we paying for this?" he asked suddenly, catching his companions off guard as the notion dawned on him.

"...It's on the house...?"

"Said who?" Ash said flatly, looking around the restaurant.

Everything not only had a happy, sunshine glow, where everything was right in the world and everyone was his age or extremely old, but it suddenly felt too clean, too perfect. Not quite right. Ash swallowed hard while looking down at Pikachu, who had disappeared from his lap. He dipped his head down to look under the table, but the pokemon was no longer there. He then sat up and looked around the table.

"Where did Pikachu go?" Ash murmured, but his companions shrugged.

"Who?" Serena asked with her lips pursed happily.

Instantly, Ash's face fell. Anxiously, he stood in a hurry as a second wave of pain rocketed into his chest.

"We should go, guys," Ash murmured. Preparing to go, he stopped when he caught a glance of Pikachu sitting happily on the table, sipping his bottle of ketchup.

"Ash, you're causing a scene. Sit down!" Bonnie yelped, waving her hand at the trainer, but Ash licked his lips, and shook his head. However, he sat back down at Bonnie's insistence, though his gave circled the diner distraught.

"Something is wrong..." he muttered, though he couldn't place what was bothering him.

Pikachu walked up to him, and sat down with his ketchup to his lips and blinked up at his trainer. His foot bounced on the black and white tiled floors; he felt like he had been there for ages already, so when he glanced at the clock and saw that it hadn't changed, his heart raced.

Maybe he was over-working himself the last couple of days, rushing from town to town to collect different kinds of pokemon and win badges. He never seemed to stop; he just kept going, and going. Maybe battling was finally getting to him? Ash rubbed his hands over his head, scratching his hair as he tugged on his red cap. But he had to work hard, he had something to prove to the world; he had to be the very best.

Breathing in a fresh smell, rather than the smell of the coffeepot, ice-cream laden restaurant, he held his nose. The area smelled like latex gloves, and slowly, the sound of a ticking clock distracted him. He watched the second hand go around once, and then again and again, but the minute hand never changed.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

The slow beeping in his head pulled at his ears. The soft sounds blasted in his ears while Clemont tucked at his project, and Serena tore up the design she just made.

Sccrch. Scccratch.

The sound of paper ripping echoed loudly in his head, he pressed his hands against his ears harder; but no one seemed to notice, and the sounds didn't get any quieter.

Drip, drip. The leaking faucet beside the waitress poured into his ears like a screaming engine in the middle of the night, or a blazing chainsaw in the dead of a forest. Without realizing it, he put his hands over his ears, as if to silence the outer noise – but it only made it worse.

"I can't take this!" he screamed loudly, silencing the once noisy diner. Even with his scream, the echo of the sounds didn't end. Blasting in his ears were the sounds of his friends; only his friends had stopped what they were doing to look up at him. His friends stopped, but the sounds did not. Was he going crazy?

He couldn't take their stares, their desperate looks of worry, so instead he rose to his feet, kicking against the table and causing Serena's shake to spill over the table, as well drowning Bonnie's picture in a mud of melted pink ice cream.

"Ash! What are you doing?" Serena cried while taking a few napkins off the table to pat the drawing as the waitress, the one Ash had recognized earlier with red hair and green eyes, returned. She ripped a cloth out of her apron, and laid it out flat over the mess while Ash looked upward at the ceiling, feeling it pull further and further away.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Was he hearing things? The sound of a microwave, an alarm? He looked over at the counter, spooked. He was gathering more and more looks by the second.

"Pika pii...?" The small rodent asked, but Ash shook his head violently and sprung forward as if some other force was guiding him. Outside. He needed to go outside.

Striding boldly, he moved to the exit doors, leaving behind cries from his group. Something wasn't right; he could feel it in the way the wind caressed his face. The noon sun was still up, but it was cold. So cold, and yet he was burning up just a few minutes ago. He touched his hands to his face, wiping a cold sweat from his forehead. Shaking, he tucked his hands under his armpits. The temperature was frigid. Had the temperature dropped in the last few minutes? It wasn't this cold earlier. Ash was freezing.

Ash...wake up dear...

"What?" He spun around. Serena, Bonnie and Clemont still watched him from inside the restaurant, trying to clean up the mess that Ash left behind. He turned once more to his left, and again to his right. Nothing. Nothing but the cold wind. He could barely even feel the weight of Pikachu on his shoulder. Shivering, he started forward into the middle of the street, walking past moving cars, adamantly questioning what was happening. If he started moving, he would surely warm up, right?

It only made his feet heavier. After a few steps, he could hardly walk.

What in the world was happening to him?

Unfortunately, his legs gave way in the middle of the street, forcing a car to halt to an impressive stop to avoid him. His legs buckled from underneath him, and he was on his knees in seconds, wheezing for air.

By that point, Serena had come running out of the diner, calling Ash's name.

"Ash! Someone call a doctor! Anyone!" she screamed. Ash heard her voice waver; tears bordered her eyes when she turned him over to look at her. He felt so cold, and she was so warm. Tenderly, she pressed her warm palm against his cheek while Pikachu folded itself onto his chest, but the kind gesture only knocked the wind out of him. When he tried to speak, only short coughs escaped his lips.

"It's going to be okay." Serena cried. He could feel the warmth of her tears hitting his face as everything started to go dark.

"It's going to be..."

Darkness. When his eyes closed, it was all he could see. Nothing to the left of him, and nothing to the right. It was worse than a dream; in fact, he never remembered dreaming, he just knew traveling, and laughter... never darkness. He couldn't comprehend what was happening to him, the normal day ending so abruptly. Cold and clammy hands had grasped his shoulders, as if shaking him, but Ash was numb already. His mind was elsewhere, somewhere far away. And for the first time in many years, Ash was terrified.

There was a long moment of silence until the rushing of those small ticking noises and beeps flooded his ears.

"You're absolutely sure you want to pull the plug Ms. Ketchum?" Even though it sounded like he was under water, he could hear a man's voice. An older man, one who took his life too seriously.

And then something he wasn't prepared for. Tears escalated, he could feel them cascade down his cheeks, only they were not his own.

"Yes...I'm sure..." His mother's voice wrecked havoc in his body, remembering that stone-faced woman who sat in the booth down the ways from him. He wanted to scream at her, to ask her what was going on, what was happening to him—but the sudden, sharp spike of pain followed by her tears only forced his mind to scream out. Swirling pain enveloped his entire body, slowly suffocating him until all that he felt, all that he could think, all that he knew...

Was nothing.

Author's Note:

This is a different, darker spin on the pokemon world I haven't seen in awhile. I haven't seen a coma theory story in a very, very long time, and I've never personally seen a finished variation (Even in all of my years on Ffnet) So, here's my rendition of the coma theory; I hope that you all like it,

As usual; I write my stories primarily for myself, but if other people like them as well; then that's super awesome.

Hope you guys enjoy the ride.