Disclaimer: Pokemon is not mine, never was, and most chances are it never will be. I am writing the story just for the fun of it.

Sorry for grammar or spelling mistakes- English is not my native language.

Not A Hero

The big city was bustling with people, going to work, shopping, or just doing those daily businesses everyone has. The Pokemon-Center was no different. It was packed with younger and older trainers- some taking a break from training and some simply stopped by to cure their Pokemon, or simply to have them checked-up.

A group of four people was no different. The pink-haired nurse took the Pokeballs from three youths, promising that their Pokemon will be as good as new the next morning. The raven-haired boy, the second oldest of the group, bowed slightly in thanks and patted the yellow mouse on his shoulder.

"Don't you want me to do a check up on your Pikachu as well?" nurse Joy asked with a wide smile.

The boy shook his head. "Nope! Pikachu had his monthly check-up two weeks ago, after he got slightly hurt in a friendly battle. Isn't that right, Pikachu?" the boy turned to look at the Pokemon perched on his shoulder, and the faithful creature nodded happily in response. "Pika!" it exclaimed, making Ash's smile wider.

"Ah, nurse Joy!" the oldest boy in the group, about sixteen, exclaimed and held the startled nurse's hands. "No matter how many check-ups you shall do, my aching heart shall remain as such, until your love will cure it- ow!" his back buckled and he held his ear after the youngest of the group pulled at it.

"Enough of that!" the young boy, Max, said. His older sister, May, who stood next to him, laughed nervously and turned to Ash. "So what do we do now?" she asked. They decided to stop for a rest in the city before continuing to the next Gym, and first wanted to give their Pokemon to the nurse Joy of this city.

"I say we explore!" Ash said, glancing at his friends to see what they think of his idea.

"That's a great idea!" May said and clasped her hands together as her mind drifted to those girly-stuff-selling shops, which the rest of the group found utterly boring, and her eyes became glazed.

"Yeah, usually we only come to cities for a battle! I want to see what else the big cities have to offer!" Max said with a smile, occasionally kicking Brock in his leg as soon as he started flirting with the nurse behind the counter.

"So, do we all agree?" Ash asked, and the two siblings nodded. "Let's go then!"

They left the center, happy and smiling, besides Brock, who looked down and simply dragged behind his younger companions during their tour.

"Ah! Look, look!" May squealed and pointed at one of the shops. "They sell the Fujiko Kudo design line here! I always loved her clothes! Let's go in!" she said and already stood in the doorstep, her hand sticking out as she motioned for them to come, and her head already in, looking at the many clothes.

"But this is boring, sis!" her younger brother argued. "Can't we check some Pokemon-accessories stores?" he asked.

"You don't even own a Pokemon!" she shouted back angrily.

"I agree with Max," Ash said and crossed his arms on his chest, glancing around in hopes of finding something better to do- or look at. "Besides, all the clothes in this store probably cost more than we can afford." And to emphasize this fact, he pulled out his wallet from the inner pocket of his blue jacket and checked his cash-condition. "Whoops…" he said quietly, sweatdropping. "I'm kinda… out of cash…" he said and scratched the back of his head sheepishly.

"I told you not to order so much in that steak restaurant!" Brock said sternly, coming out of his own sad little world. "Now what are you going to do?" he asked.

"Don't worry," Ash replied, annoyed. "I'll go to the bank and withdraw some, no big deal! I have plenty of money in my account…"

"You're hopeless," Max said, earning a glare from the older boy.

Ash huffed angrily, "I am not," he said. "Pikachu, you stay here. It will probably take awhile with the lines and all- I don't want to bore the hell out of you." The Pokemon nodded and hopped unto Brock's shoulder. Ash smiled and turned around, disappearing in the sea of people, only managing to hear May shout to the two remaining guys to hurry up before the loud noises of the city totally dominated.

Ash yawned as he watched the line advance slowly. He felt as if he'd spent hours in the plain building, when he'd only been there for about ten minutes. He never understood why his mom was so opposed to him owning a credit card, when almost all of the Pokemon trainers had one. He yawned once again, wishing there had been a wall he could lean on.

He started to have thoughts of giving up and try later, when a muffled shout disturbed the annoying silence of the big room. "Everybody down! It's a robbery! And keep your hands on your heads!" Ash turned his head, now fully awake, to look at a tall man wearing a black, long-sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans. He had a black yarn hat covering his head, which had holes in it for the eyes and nose, and he wore sunglasses, too. He held a pistol and aimed it at various directions. The bank was filled in frightened shouts as all the people lay down on the floor, even those behind the counter. Ash also obeyed. As he lay down he looked at the entrance, where the guard sat in his chair and did nothing, apparently fainted.

The man slowly approached to the counter. "You!" he commanded at a young woman, who was lying and shaking in fear on the floor. "I want one hundred thousand dollars in this bag, now!" the woman slowly stood up, and the man pointed the pistol at her head. "Do it faster, you bitch!" he yelled and the woman squeaked in fear, and with a shaking hand filled the bag with the green bills. The man kept looking around nervously, missing the old clerk in the corner pushing the distress button.

Ash was more angry than afraid. How dare this man insult that poor woman so? How dare he make all those people scared? Ash knew what he must do. Slowly he moved his hand from his head in the direction of his belt. But unfortunately for him, the robber may have missed that man pushing the distress button, but he did notice Ash. "Hey, kid!" he shouted just as sirens were heard in the distance. Ash became hopeful. "Shit!" the robber cursed and looked outside, noticing the blue lights in the distance. Then he looked at Ash again, grabbed the half filled bag, and then grabbed Ash by the arm. Ash protested in shouts, but, of course, the robber ignored him and merely twisted his arm behind his back, causing the young boy to shout in pain. "That's for trying to send your Pokemon against me," he hissed.

"You're surrounded!" Officer Jenny's voice called through the megaphone. "Come out with your hands up!"

"Shit," the robber cursed yet once again as he noticed several patrol cars and cops aiming weapons at him.

The robber held the bag and the pistol with one hand and Ash in the other. He dragged the shouting and kicking youth after him to the entrance (or exit?) and held the gun to the boy's head. Ash gulped, paled, and ceased his protesting attempts. "One wrong move and the kid here gets it!" he shouted.

"Hold your fire! He has a hostage!" officer Jenny shouted to her comrades. The robber smirked, snapped his fingers, and a thick, black smoke filled the air.

Ash coughed as he breathed in the smoke, and then felt himself being lifted. The robber probably held him above the ground so he could run faster. That man sure was strong…

Then, when the smoke cleared and Ash couldn't see the bank or the police anymore, the man entered an alley and emerged into another street. He threw the sunglasses and the yarn hat into a trash can, put Ash down, and glanced around nervously, sweating. "Come on, come on…" he said quietly. Ash watched wordlessly as an Abra emerged from behind a trash can. The last thing Ash heard before the robber hit him in the back of his neck was the man commanding the Abra to use teleport.

And as darkness swallowed him, only then it dawned into him how foolish he was for trying to send one of his Pokemon against the robber, when currently he had none.

oOo

Brock leaned on his arms, sitting in the wooden chair and staring at the setting sun in the distance. Once in a while he glanced downwards, hoping to see his younger companion entering through the automatic doors. But Ash Ketchum never came.

He was getting worried. It never took Ash this long to withdraw money- he left them hours ago! What in the world could have happened?

When he remembered Ash didn't have any of his Pokemon with him, it only made him worry more.

Pikachu was also worried- he was sitting on the desk, which Brock had his arms on, and was also staring intently outside and waiting for his trainer to return. Brock sighed heavily and absentmindedly patted Pikachu's head in a futile attempt to ease the Pokemon's worries.

The door opened, and Brock turned around to face May and Max. "Come on, Brock. You don't want to miss dinner," May said, pointing to the hall behind her. Brock simply stared. This was the first time Ash went to the bank since he begun his journey in Hoenn, and he guessed that May and Max found his tardiness normal.

"Yeah, today's curry!" Max added and licked his lips, holding his growling stomach. "I love curry!"

Brock smiled softly at the child's antics and stood up, picking up Pikachu. Worry is not healthy. He did not wish to share the reason for his worry with the two young siblings- him worrying is enough. Besides, seeing them so carefree cheered him up a bit. Ash is probably alright.

Ash is always alright…

"I can't believe how useless the police can be sometimes! You heard how fast the robber got away?" one of the many voices in the lobby said.

"Yeah!" another replied. "And that poor kid… you know, they don't even know who he is yet!"

"Poor guy, probably scared…"

Brock's heart sank as he looked around nervously, and got a melancholy feeling. What were all those trainers talking about? What happened? Why did he have the feeling he should be a part of it, too?

"Excuse me," he turned to one of the trainers in the lobby. He had short brown hair and black eyes, and he seemed somewhat bored, sitting alone on the red armchair in the corner of the room. "Do you happen to know what happened? What's all the commotion about?" he asked.

The trainer did not reply and simply pointed at a television screen on the wall. Brock lifted his gaze and watched, feeling empty as he realized it was a news broadcast. May and Max tried to tell him it doesn't matter, and that it's probably something they shouldn't care about, but he did not listen. And so, they watched along with him.

On the screen, a young black-haired lady, probably a news reporter, stood in front of a bank with several patrol cars around. "…the guard says the robber hit a vital point in his neck and knocked him out, thus preventing any disturbances from him. The robber got away with only half of the amount of money he asked for at first, taking a hostage with him. Eye witnesses report the hostage was a young boy with black hair, a red cap and a blue jacket. The police does not have any suspects, nor it knows just why the robber took a hostage and did not make any demands yet..." that's all Brock needed to hear before turning and rushing out of the automatic doors, followed by May, Max, and Pikachu, who also got an idea of what's going on.

They ran and ran, and yet had no idea where the bank is. Brock was so worried; he didn't even bother to ask for directions. When he saw the lights of the patrol cars he hurried over, and he and his companions pushed through the curious watchers to get to the front.

"Officer Jenny!" Brock shouted as he ducked under the yellow tape, ignoring the other cops telling him to stay back, and hurried towards the female cop, all thoughts about dating gone.

"What are you doing here?" the officer asked in an angry tone, looking at the three. "You should stay behind the yellow tape!"

"Officer, our friend has been kidnapped!" May screamed, her eyes filling with tears as she finally admitted it to herself.

Officer Jenny frowned. "Well, go to the station then- tell it to the officer on duty-"

"You don't understand!" Brock cut her. "The robber! He's the kid, who's been kidnapped during the robbery today!"

Jenny gasped, and called for two other cops to join her. "Take those three down to the station! They know the kid!" the two cops nodded and told the three to get in the patrol car, and then drove away.

oOo

When Ash opened his eyes, everything was fuzzy. He groaned, and felt aching in his neck. He tried to move his arm so he could rub the painful spot, in order to sooth the pain, but as soon as he did so his arm protested, sending sharp pains through his nerve system, and he had to grit his teeth in order not to shout in pain. He took his healthy arm, hesitantly, for he thought it might be hurt too, and rubbed his neck with it. So his right arm was hurt, and his left was okay…

He groaned again and turned on his side, blinking in order to focus his vision. He was lying on the floor, and the walls of the room seemed to be made out of wood. There was a small window near the roof, but it was too tiny for Ash to get through. The room was illuminated by a small candle in the corner of the room. Ash sat up slowly, rubbing his neck. "Where the hell am I?" he asked quietly, but had a strong feeling no one would reply. He was right, too.

He leaned against the wooden wall and glanced around- the room was filled with wooden boxes. He also noticed his head had been resting on a piece of cloth. "A pillow?" he wondered out aloud.

He tried to remember just how he got to this creepy place, and slowly his mind replayed the events of earlier that day. His eyes widened a bit and he groaned, cursing himself once again at his foolishness.

If only he had remembered he left his Pokemon at the center…

He heard squeaking noises and watched silently as the door opened, and a tall man entered the room, holding a food tray. He kneeled down in front of Ash, and put the tray next to him. The man frowned, and then took Ash's hurt arm. Ash tried to pull it back as pain shook his nerve system once again. The man's frown deepened, and he took a white bandage out of his pocket.

"Take your shirt off," the man commanded, and Ash gulped.

"W-why should I?" he stuttered out, his voice cracking. "Who are you, anyway?"

"I'm Haru," the man replied. "As for the 'why', you don't want your arm to hurt forever, right?"

Ash stared at the man, trying to glare, but he felt too unsure of himself to do so. Ash looked down and took his shirt off, immediately feeling the man wrapping the bandage around his shoulder. Ash had to keep from screaming, and his nails nearly dug holes in wooden the floor. About two minutes later, his shoulder was bandaged. His arm still hurt, though.

"I'm really sorry about this," the man said and Ash gasped.

"You… you were the robber?" he asked, surprised. Well, of course he didn't recognize him! He had a mask on. The man was tall and thin. He had black hair falling on his face, and his piercing eyes were blue. He wore a white T-shirt, and green shorts.

The man nodded. "Eat," he said.

Ash looked at the food tray, which had two rice-balls, a grilled fish and a glass of water on it. "But I'm not-" Ash started, but stopped as the man punched a nearby wooden box.

Ash stared with his mouth gaped as pieces of wood, which once made a box, shattered on the floor. He tried to speak, but nothing came out. "Eat," the man, Haru, commanded again. Ash took a tray and with small bites he ate, his hand shaking. The man stayed there and stared until Ash was done eating, and when the last drop of water was gone, he took the tray and left the room.

Only when he was sure he was alone, Ash stood up slowly, climbed on a box and opened the small window. He then poked his head outside and threw up everything he just ate. He left the window open so air could come in, and then crouched on the floor and wiped his mouth. Brock was right.

He really shouldn't have ordered so much in that restaurant…

"I'm going out for a bit, Ayame." He opened the door, allowing a small amount of moonlight to illuminate the room. "Be a good girl, alright?"

No one answered, and Haru clenched his fists. "Ayame…" he said quietly and glanced backwards. She already fell asleep. He could hear her slow and steady breathing. His face saddened and he stepped outside and closed the door after him.

oOo

Officer Jenny took a sip of her black coffee as she went through some papers. This kid, Ash, seemed to be nothing too special. He just happened to be in the wrong place in the wrong time. It took them hours to calm his friends down, and they were now in the local Pokemon Center, waiting for any kind of news on their missing friend. The robber didn't make any demands, and she wondered why he isn't releasing the hostage.

She sighed heavily, not sure what to do next. The loud ringing of the phone cut her train of thought, and she picked it up. "Police station, how may I help you?" she asked, yet wished she won't have to do anything today. She was tired, and this robbery case was enough.

"I want sixty thousand dollars in three days," the voice quietly said, "I want to see the money by early morning on Friday, 5AM, in the alley between the small medical center and the small tea-shop."

"Wait a minute, wha-" the officer tried to say, quite confused, but the voice cut her off.

"Bring it on time, or the kid gets it." He said and hung up.

Then Officer Jenny understood. "Morikawa! Get here now and track that phone number!" she shouted into the intercom, although she was quite sure that man used a public phone. "Iwasaki, contact the Pokemon center!"

She had always been amazed at how one phone call could change an entire day's course.

She was right. That robber used a public phone. Predictable- no one would be stupid enough to let the police track their number. They contacted the kid's, Ash, friends, and they were now sitting and discussing what should be done with the demands.

"I think we should call his mother… maybe she has the money…" Brock said.

Officer Jenny hit the table with her hand angrily. "This is not what we're here for!" she shouted. "We need to get him out safely without giving that criminal what he wants!"

"Then what are we here for?" May asked sadly. "It's your job as the police."

Officer Jenny sighed and covered her mouth with her hand- a nasty habit she had since she was young, doing it when she found herself at a loss of words. "I've heard you helped my relatives with different cases in the past…" she said and Brock nodded. "I thought that maybe you'd be able to help us now as well."

Brock sighed. "We are not the police… we never studied to be cops… I honestly think that, well… I don't want to endanger Ash. One wrong move and he'll die. There had been plenty of times when the police failed and the innocents got hurt. I really don't want it to happen," he said.

"So what do you suggest we do?" Jenny asked him, becoming annoyed.

"Like I said before, I'd rather pay that guy and free Ash, rather than take a chance and have him hurt." The Pikachu next to him nodded in agreement.

Jenny slammed her hand on the table angrily once again, glaring at the youths. "I hate people like you!" she screamed, scaring Brock, May, Max and Pikachu somewhat. They used to hear one of the many Jennies shout occasionally, but never have they heard one of them so angry. "You're chickening, and you're planning to let the criminal get away! He'll only do that again if we'll give him the money! Do you want another kid to go through what your friend is going through?" she continued, not calming down. The three youths looked down or away, not wanting to think of that option. Jenny stood up. "Then it's decided," she said, now speaking calmly. "We'll find the robber, arrest him, and free your friend."

The door to the room opened suddenly by a young man. "Officer Jenny!" he shouted and ran over to her. He whispered something in her ear and she smiled, giving him thumbs up before he left the room to call various people, as she ordered him to do.

"Kids, I have some good news for you," Jenny said, beaming.

"You found the robber?" May asked hopefully.

Jenny's smiled wavered a bit. "No…" she said, and May's eyes became sad again. "But we discovered his means of escape."

"How does that help us?" Max asked, coking an eyebrow.

"Simple," Jenny said, leaning on the wall with her chair. "Growlithe sniffed the robber's tracks, but they suddenly disappeared. How can a person vanish like that?" she asked and scanned the faces in the room, waiting for an answer. When the silence didn't break, she continued. "The robber made some kind of a Psychic Pokemon to use Teleport, thus disappearing and reappearing in another place."

"That makes sense," Brock said, smiling inwardly as he made a mental note at how smart his love was. "But how can you track him, then?"

Officer Jenny returned the chair to its' normal position on the floor and resumed her explanation. "Pokemon attacks are no magic," she said. "Teleport is a way of breaking molecules apart and then using telekinesis to put them back together in another place." (A/N: Yes, I just made that up! Does it make any sense? No? Thought so, but let's see you come up with a better explanation!) After no questions arose, she continued. "Latest technologies can track the path of those molecules, and then we can locate the robber."

"Can't you track him now, so we can get it started with?" May asked. Somehow, those news didn't make her overcome with joy.

Jenny shook her head. "It takes a while…" she said sadly, but then her smile returned. "Don't worry, though! I'm positive your friend is safe and sound. We'll rescue him soon."

Brock, May and Max exchanged unsure glances.

oOo

The only way Ash could tell the time was by looking at the small window and watching as less sunrays penetrated into the small room, and then he knew that the hour was becoming late, and that it has been hours since the man, Haru, had last came in and gave him food, which he threw up.

Again.

It's already been a day since he'd been kidnapped, and he wondered what was taking the police so long.

He was beginning to feel choked, and even the open window didn't help much. He was a nervous wreck; he had no idea where he was, nor did he know what that Haru planned to do with him. Dense as he was, he did read newspapers occasionally.

He shuddered at the thought and wrapped his arms around his body, noting that it became somewhat cold in there.

As if on cue the candle ceased to illuminate the tiny room as a gust of wind blew through the window and put it off.

"Great," Ash muttered quietly to himself. "Just great." The sudden darkness did not help to calm his nerves one bit…

He lay back down and simply stared, until his eyes closed and he fell asleep.

The winds picked up and it started to rain. Haru ran through the forest, splashing mud and water everywhere. He had no means of protection from the rain and wind whatsoever, and so he was soaked to his bones and freezing.

He had to hurry; he still hadn't fixed that leak.

Ayame…

He was tired, and yet ran even faster than before. The leak had to be taken care of soon, or the roof or floor would fall apart eventually.

Finally the light from his flashlight pointed at his small wooden cabin near the cliff, and a smile spread on his lips, which were slowly turning blue from the cold. It was already near morning. He never knew the city could be so far…

He opened the door and stepped inside, immediately closing it in order to prevent the rain and wind from coming inside.

He hurried to the corner of the cabin, taking a small pot and putting it where a small puddle begun to form. "This should do for now," he said quietly and frowned, knowing that as soon as the weather cleared up he'd have to climb to the roof and fix the leak, for it was too dangerous to do it now. Apparently he remembered it to be much worse than it actually was…

He glanced at the bed near the other corner of the cabin and smiled softly as he watched his sister's steady breathing as she slept.

He pulled her blanket to her neck, making sure that there was not an uncovered spot, and kissed her forehead.

Now there was only one thing left to do before he would be able to finally go to bed.

He unlocked the door to the tiny storage room and opened it, noticing the fact that it had became freezing in there, and that the room was dark. He turned his flashlight on and went to the window, closing it.

Then he crouched near the young boy he held hostage. He frowned. The boy was pale, and beads of sweat were forming on his forehead. He was shuddering.

He put his hand on the boy's forehead and pulled it away as his frown deepened. He sighed heavily. "Why is it, Ayame, that I am always surrounded with sick people?" he asked quietly, knowing she would not reply.

He lifted the boy from the floor gently, knowing that sleep, or a warm bed, would be the last things he'd be getting tonight…

When Ash opened his eyes it was already morning outside. Another change he noticed was that he wasn't cold anymore- and no, it was not because of the few sunrays which entered the cabin through those tiny windows near the roof. Winter mornings were cold almost as the nights- is what his journey taught him.

He closed his eyes again, focusing on falling asleep once more when it suddenly dawned into him that he wasn't lying on the floor anymore. He opened his eyes wide and looked around frantically, trying to make his eyes focus on something. He was lying in a warm bed, he realized. Next to him was another bed, in which another person lay. Ash narrowed his eyes, trying to determine whether this person was a boy or a girl… or maybe was it Haru?

It was a girl, he decided- no man has, or should have, if you'd ask him, such gentle face. She seemed rather… sick, though. He could hear her breathing, which means it was quite hard for her to breathe. She also seemed pale, but since Ash never seen her in a normal condition before, he had no way to tell.

He was in another room- that was for sure. The windows were still small, though, and the door was probably locked. One can never be too sure, though, so he got up from the bed and went to the door. A quick tug at the door handle proved that he was right, and he returned to his bed, figuring he'd just have to wait for a chance.

"Who are you?" Ash almost jumped when he heard that quiet voice, and turned his head to look at the girl, who was now awake and was looking at him with a pair of tired eyes.

"Did he kidnap you, too?" Ash asked quietly, and he could barely see the girl shaking her head. He leaned on his hands, lifting himself to a half-sitting position.

"Has my brother… done anything to you?" she asked, and Ash could tell she was straining herself in order to speak.

"He-" he started, but then looked down. "No…"

The girl probably knew he wasn't telling the truth- he practically gave it away when he asked if she had been kidnapped as well- for she reached out her hand from under the thick covers and held his hand shakily. "Please…" she whispered, "My brother is not a bad person..."

Ash had to hold himself from chuckling at this. "Yeah, right," he muttered. "That's why he threatened innocent people with a gun and kidnapped me!" he spat.

"Please," she tightened her grip, and Ash's eyes softened as he saw the moisture in hers. "He's not a bad person…" the tears were no longer in her eyes and were now sliding slowly on her pale chicks. "I'm sick," she said. "I've always been sick. The medicines to keeps me alive are expensive. Did he…?" then she looked at him hopefully, not succeeding in holding her tears back, and he could do nothing but nod.

Then a sob escaped he lips. Ash shut his eyes, not wanting to face her.

"He always steals so he can buy those medicines, but he still hadn't realized that it's already too late-"

Ash, realizing what she was about to say, opened his eyes and looked at her with horror. "No," he whispered. "Don't say that!"

She shook her head, still crying and holding his hand. "-to help me… I'm going to die, boy."

In spite of himself, Ash smiled. "I'm Ash," he said.

She smiled back. "I'm Ayame…" then she closed her eyes, and her grip loosened. Either she fainted or fell asleep.

And when Ash stared at that pale, sick, desperate face, the will to get the hell out of there suddenly became much stronger…

oOo

Max had somehow managed to fall asleep, and May was trying really hard to stay awake. Brock assumed that since Max was much younger than them, he could fall asleep easily even in situations like those. May was still young as well- and staying awake for long did not come easily for her.

Brock, on the other hand, was older. Brock could stay awake the entire night next to the phone, waiting for news from Officer Jenny, given that he had something to do; staring into space for hours isn't going to help him to stay awake, and Pikachu didn't do much to entertain him…

He busied himself by looking out of the window, and when he got sick of it he read a book, and when he got sick of it he returned to look out from the window again.

He also needed sleep and he knew it, yet he could not bring himself to close his eyes and fall into a peaceful slumber- he kept on waiting by the small phone, the rain providing enough noise to keep him awake and make his mind wonder. Brock sighed heavily and closed his eyes, trying to calm his nerves. What was Ash doing right now? Was he getting enough food, if any? Was he getting enough sleep?

Was he even alive?

Brock shook his head vigorously, driving the thought away. Of course Ash is alive, he reminded himself. The robber has no reason to kill him as of yet.

Yet…

He couldn't help having this kind of thoughts- he always felt some kind of a brother to his younger companions- now and in the past. The thought of Ash starving to death and maybe even being beaten made his face flush with anger.

Before he did something he would regret, Brock turned his gaze to the window and watched as the rain pelted down. May had already fallen asleep, and Brock didn't dare to turn the light on and risking his friends waking up, for then they might start asking him about Ash's condition again, and he won't be able to give them answers, and then they would take a long time falling asleep again.

Brock was frustrated about the whole thing, too. His best friend for about four years was being held hostage in God knows where, and he could not do anything to help him. Heck, he wasn't even allowed to pay the ransom and free him!

It's already been a day and a half now, and they have two days left to get the money, or else it'll be too late.

Brock clenched his fists as the sun rose, and a new day started- Wednesday. And yet, the phone hasn't rung…

He knew that Officer Jenny was right- they cannot let the criminal get away with what he wants, but right now, Brock didn't care if tens of children would be kidnapped as long as they'll get their Ash back. Yet, he knew Ash wouldn't want that- Ash would rather die than have that, and so, he didn't think of it anymore.

He watched as more cars filled the roads below as people hurried for work, and kids and teenagers hurried to school, chatting and laughing with their friends. People stopped caring about the whole kidnapping incident a day ago, and now the topics of many conversation were about more recent headlines, like… Brock didn't know. Brock was too stressed and nervous to read newspapers or watch the news broadcasts.

The shrill ring of the small phone on the shelf cut Brock's train of thought and he picked it up immediately.

"Hello?" he asked a bit hoarsely, for he hadn't spoken for hours.

"Hello, Brock? Officer Jenny's speaking…" the female voice said from the other side of the line.

"Did you find anything?" Brock asked hopefully, standing up.

"Actually, yes," the officer said, and Brock had to keep himself from shouting out of joy. "We're half-way to finding where the robber is hiding. For now we know he headed into the forest at the outskirts of the city, but we still have to track him down…"

"This is great news!" Brock said. "Do you have any idea how long it would take?"

"I think that by tomorrow we'll know where he is for sure…"

"Great!" Brock exclaimed. "Have I told you how lovely you sound today, officer?" Brock said, the current news making his so happy he turned into his normal self again.

The officer laughed nervously from the other side of the line. "I really have to go back to work now… we'll keep in touch!" then she hung up, leaving Brock with a huge smile on his face.

Brock turned to Pikachu. "Guess what?" he asked the Pokemon, smiling widely.

oOo

He felt dizzy and nauseous, and he figured he feels this way because of all the throwing ups he did. Ayame hadn't woke up yet, and Haru still wasn't back. He closed his eyes, trying to make his dizziness disappear, and before he knew it he fell asleep.

When he woke up it was already evening, or maybe afternoon. The sleep he had didn't help that much, but he did feel a bit better. He looked around the room, and noticed Haru sitting in a corner and looking at him intently. "You!" Ash said as quietly as he could so he wouldn't wake Ayame up.

Haru didn't answer. He simply got up from his place on the floor and approached Ash. Ash wanted to back away, but he was frozen in place. Haru put his hand on Ash's forehead and Ash gasped.

Haru's expression didn't change. "Your fever broke," he said quietly and handed Ash a glass of water. "Drink," he said, "You can't keep on throwing up like that." Ash stared at him, wide-eyed, and Haru smiled. "You thought I wouldn't notice?" he asked slyly. "I've lived with a sick person most of my life- I'm ought to know when one is not well," he said and then went to something, which looked like a makeshift kitchen.

Ash simply sat and stared. He had a fever? Is that why he's feeling so bad?

He noted that Haru's shirt was dirty with stains of mud, and he wondered if he even had another shirt so he could change.

Haru returned with a steaming bowl in his hands. "Here," he said and handed it to Ash. "And I'm gonna stay here 'till you eat all of it," he said and handed Ash the spoon.

Ash gulped. He had a bad taste in his mouth, and he was very hungry, yet he feared he'd throw it up. He begun to eat slowly, feeling rather uncomfortable under Haru's gaze. When he finished the soup, which tasted alright, his stomach lurched in protest and he covered his mouth, becoming green. He stood up and was about to run to something, which looked like a bucket in the corner, when a wave of dizziness washed over him and he fell, ending up throwing up on the floor. Then he coughed, lifted himself slowly with his hands and sat on the bed, breathing deeply with his eyes closed. When he opened one eye he saw a glass of water in front of him, and took it. He drank it, and the horrible taste in his mouth disappeared.

"Is it because you're scared?" Haru asked, crouching so he could look into Ash eyes. Ash was silent. "Don't be, I won't do anything to you… I'll get the money and let you go. I didn't mean to kidnap anyone but…" he frowned. "You were risky. How surprised I was when I found out you didn't even have a Pokeball-"

"Then why didn't you let me go back then?" Ash asked, cutting him off.

"This forest is dangerous- I don't want you killed. And like hell I'd go back to the city…" Then Haru turned around and returned to the makeshift kitchen. He returned seconds later with another bowl. "This one's the last," he said before handing it to Ash. "Don't be scared, kid," he pat Ash on the hand and went to check on Ayame.

"The name's Ash," Ash said quietly, looking down and angry at himself for giving his name to this criminal.

Haru smiled. "That's a unique name. What were you doing in a bank?"

"I was out of money, and I don't have a credit card, so…" Ash shrugged. "Why do you care?" he asked angrily.

"Just want to know you better… so you're a Pokemon trainer, eh? I've always wanted to become one, but…" he glanced at Ayame, "My little sister here, Ayame, has always been sick. Our parents died when I was nine, and I was left to take care of her…" his eyes became distant and sad as he looked at his sister again, and Ash wondered what he could be thinking at the moment.

"Hey," Ash said quietly. Haru looked at him questioningly. Ash hesitated for a bit, but then took his blue sweater off. "Your shirt is dirty and wet- take this."

"I don't want you getting any sicker," Haru protested.

Ash shrugged. "Just a cold, nothing serious," he said and extended his hand, coaxing his captor to take the sweater. "I've been through worse things than that…"

Haru chuckled, and took the sweater. "I have to go out," he said, and without another word he left the cabin, leaving Ash to ponder his latest actions.

Ash found it rather boring to be left alone in the small cabin, especially since neither Haru nor Ayame could talk to him and pass the time. Not that he wanted Haru talking to him or anything…

He wasn't tired anymore, so sleep was out of the question. He rose from the bed and went to the makeshift kitchen. He was hungry again, since the soup didn't help sooth his hunger much, and now that his stomach was better he felt he could eat again. To his dismay, he found the kitchen empty, and he wondered how Haru made him food. He frowned and his stomach growled. He found it rather weird that after a long time that no food stayed in his stomach much, his stomach only now decided to protest.

The sun already begun to set in the distance- Ash knew by the red hues on the wall- and Ash wondered why his friends are taking so long…

Suddenly Ayame started to wheeze, and Ash rushed to her side. She wasn't awake- she wouldn't wake up even when Ash shook her. He became stressed and worried. He had no idea what to do. He couldn't take her out, for the door was locked, and even if he could- he wouldn't know where to.

He searched around the cabin for something he could use, but nothing was in sight. He was about to try and break the wall when Ayame became silent. Ash tensed, wondering if he should feel relieved. He approached her slowly, afraid of what he might discover. He gulped. Brock showed him how to do it, a long time ago.

He took her wrist in his hand, waited a few seconds, and then bowed his head.

He let her hand fall from his grip and then slowly fell to his knees. He held his face, wide-eyed and breathing heavily. A young girl, probably younger from him, just died in front of his eyes and he could do nothing about it.

Ash Ketchum, who saved the world enough times, who saved numerous people more times than he could count, could not save this little girl.

And suddenly, saving the world seemed so very insignificant to him.

oOo

The mud stuck to his shoes, the rain fell harshly on his uncovered head and his clothes stuck to his body from wetness. He wiped his wet brow, trying to see something through the thick forest. The flashlights the officers had didn't help much, and the entire search group struggled to keep on.

Only about an hour ago they found out that the Abra teleported the two to someplace nearby to the hideout- not exactly to it.

Brock was very hopeful. Now all the remained is to break into the hideout and rescue Ash, and all would be well.

Why, though, did his heart beat faster at every step he took, and he had a feeling something bad would happen deep in his gut?

Surely, Ash was still alive- the money is not due until early morning tomorrow. The police didn't want to have the group along, but they insisted that Ash was their friend, and that they needed to look for him as well.

May and Max were behind, walking slowly, as Max seemed to fall a lot because of the slippery ground, and May was tired because of the late hour. As much as Brock liked the two siblings, it annoyed him somewhat. Ash was waiting, maybe even suffering, and they were dragging behind because of trivial reasons. But he knew they were trying their hardest, for they did not complain even once.

"There it is!" He heard Officer Jenny shout, and he looked ahead. He smiled

"We're coming, Ash," he whispered, and his smile widened as May and Max seemed to walk faster.

oOo

Haru did not like the rain. He never carried umbrellas with him, and always got soaked. At least the leak had been fixed…

He clutched the brown bag he held tightly and smiled. He bought some of the medicines, and now Ayame could get better. She seemed to have been deteriorating fast lately…

He opened the door to his cabin, which had been his home for longer than he could remember. The place was dark, there was not even a moon to illuminate it. He moved his hand about until he found the candle he left on the table and lit it, using the last match he had left. He should really buy some soon…

The first thing he noticed was Ash on the floor, hugging himself and shaking. "Hey!" Haru shouted, putting the candle on the table and hurried over to Ash. "You should stay in bed! You're still not healthy!" He said, holding Ash and trying to lift him from the floor. Ash didn't make and move to resist, and Haru laid him on the bed. He frowned. Something was wrong with the boy.

He figured he'd deal with that later, and turned around, facing Ayame's bed. "Hey, wake up, sleepy-head," he said, his voice cheerful. He shook her, but she wouldn't wake up. He frowned. "Hey, it's no time to play dead…" he said, and shook her harder.

"She's not playing," Haru heard Ash whisper, and in the corner of his eye he noticed him sitting up. "She's really dead."

Haru thought his heart stopped beating for a moment, and he paled, suddenly finding it hard to breathe. "You're lying," he said quietly and turned around to face his hostage. "Stop joking!" He shouted and lifted Ash by the collar, glaring.

Ash did not seem to care, he simply stared beyond Haru. "No," he said quietly, and Haru gritted his teeth, Letting go of Ash's collar and causing him to fall on the floor.

When he was about to turn and try wake Ayame up again, the door to the cabin busted open as Police officers ran inside and seized him.

"You're under arrest for robbery and kidnapping," one of them said as he handcuffed him. "You have the right to remain silent." Then the officer begun to lead him outside, but Haru struggled.

"No!" he screamed and kicked, yet to no avail. He only managed to hit the table and causing the candle to drop. "I still need to give the medicine to Ayame!"

The rest of the officers helped Ash up and led him outside, or rather dragged him outside, for he seemed to do nothing to make himself move.

"Ash!" Brock, May and Max shouted happily as soon as they saw him being dragged out, looking tired and worn out. His cap hid his eyes. They ran to hug him.

"We're so glad!" May said and wiped a tear.

"Yeah, we were worried!" Max said and sniffed.

"Pika pika!" Pikachu called, relieved. Brock simply smiled, happy to have his friend back.

Yet, when Brock noticed his friend's lack of response, he became worried. "Ash?" he asked tentatively, "Are you okay?"

But Ash simply turned his head away, his shoulders shaking. "Are you scared?" Brock asked, lowering himself so he could look straight into Ash's face. "Has he done anything to you?" and then Ash stepped back and shook his head vigorously. Then he turned to look at Haru, who stood next to the edge of the cliff, a few officers trying to calm him down. "Make one wrong move and we'll shoot!" one shouted.

"That bastard," Brock hissed, and attempted to hold Ash closer and protect him, lest the robber would try anything. "Don't worry, we wont let him get you," he said.

They were about to enter a patrol car, which would take them away, when two more officers came out, carrying a plastic bag, which seemed to contain a person in it.

"Ayame!" the robber shouted, also noticing the bag, and somehow managed to get away from the officers and rush towards the two, who carried the bag.

He didn't get very far, though, as one officer saw this as a very wrong move and shot, causing Haru to stumble backwards, shocked, and then to fall from the cliff to the sea below.

Although that was not a pretty sight, Brock was glad to see the robber being stopped before he could reach the person he apparently killed. He was glad they got there on time before he could get to Ash.

"Haru!!!" Ash shrilled and got away from Brock's grip, to his surprise. He rushed towards the edge of the cliff and looked down, all the while shouting the robber's name.

Suddenly the place became lit up, and they all looked to the side to see the cabin burning. Brock rushed to Ash and held him, lifting him up, to his dismay. When Ash turned to shout at Brock to let him go, he also noticed the burn and paled.

Brock watched in horror as Ash's eyes rolled to the back of his head, and he fainted.

oOo

Brock walked hesitantly into the hospital room with Pikachu, who insisted on coming along. May and Max were in the Pokemon-Center, recovering from the horrible night. They took what they saw hard.

Ash lay on the white bed, an IV-tube attached to his arm, and he was staring at the ceiling.

Brock sat on the bed, Pikachu doing the same, and looked at Ash sadly. "You okay?" he asked, but Ash shook his head. Brock bit his lip. "I know you're probably still shaken, but look at the bright side! We saved you before he could kill you like that girl-"

"He never killed her!" Ash shouted, sitting up and glaring at Brock. "Ayame was Haru's sister! She was sick and died about an hour before you go there!" Tears streamed down his face. Brock gaped. "And Haru took care of me! He gave me food, and his bed when I was sick! And now he, too…"

Ash closed his eyes and shook his head. "Why, Brock?" he whispered. "And I could do nothing to help them! Why am I able to save the world, yet not the people, who I came to care for? Why?!"

"Pikapi…" Pikachu said sadly.

Brock bit his lip again, finding that he had no answer. He hugged Ash tightly, letting him to cry on his shoulder, and hoped that he would get better.

All he could do was give the boy comfort as of now.

"You are not a hero, Ash," Brock said quietly as he rubbed his friend's back. "There are things that even you, who saved the world, could do nothing about…"

"But why?" Ash sobbed, shaking. "It's not fair!"

Brock sighed heavily. "This is just how life is, Ash. You cannot save everyone- even if you did save the world."

Brock felt Ash holding him tighter. "You are not a hero," he repeated in a whisper. "You can never hope to be one…"

Ash kept on crying into the night.


The End


Author's note:
so how did you like it?

I'm not sure an officer would shoot so fast, but… oh, well :X

Please review!

-E2K