Summary: He'll always remember her when the rain falls… Bittersweet (Just a bit of angst). One shot, Romance/Angst, Ash/Misty. Hopefully this one'll make your eyes a little watery…

A/N: Hi folks! This is a departure from the usual romantic comedies I'm used to writing. Heh. Usually I'm a happy-go-lucky person, so angst doesn't flow well with me (although I like reading them… haha, weird, huh?) But I just felt like writing this one, for some odd reason :-P

This is the EDITED version of "Rainfall," which is hopefully better than the original. And you can all thank Soft Flame Matthias for this madness… heh. So if you hate this fic, all the flames can go to him. (Just kidding, Matthias!) Really, I've been meaning to revise this fic for a while now (I thought that it was a little bit too rushed the first time), and Matthias just gave me an incentive to revise it!

Btw - if you have a really sad song, I would suggest playing it right about… now. :-P I, for one, had "Lovely" by Michelle Tumes on repeat as I was writing this, but I guess any sad song can do. Actually, "Lovely" isn't really a sad song, but what the hey. If you want to hear "Lovely," I've uploaded it here:

www.geocities.---/xt0pspinx/MichelleTumes-Lovely.mp3

Just replace the "---" with "com" and it should be OK. wasn't showing my link, sorry!

Disclaimer: I don't own pokemon. Or the Michelle Tumes song (although it has nothing to do with the fic, but I figured I might as well play it safe!)

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Rainfall
aBy: xSPiNx
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I had never really liked it when it rained -- maybe it's because one of the scariest moments in my life happened when it was raining. It's a long story, involving a bunch of spearows and a hurt pikachu. Let's just say that I was lucky that I made it out alive. Like I said, long story -- but let's save that for another day. My point? Rain and me have been a good combination.

She, on the other hand, had always loved the rain.

I don't know why, but she just did. For a little while, I thought it was because before we met, it had rained. But I guess that was just wishful thinking.

I had always felt something for her. I mean, come on -- growing up on a pokemon journey, with a girl as one of your companions? I didn't have many choices.

But even as I think back on it now, she was the best choice I ever made.

Even after we had separated, I still felt a little something. I never told her, of course. I was scared of what she would say! I brushed it off as sisterly love, knowing, feeling that it was more than that.

A lot more.

It's one of those things that I look back on and laugh at. And it's not one of those good laughs, either. Whenever I think about it, it hurts. Whenever I think about her, it hurts…

We met again, ironically, on a rainy day…

-----

Flashback

"Ash, are you listening to me?"

"Of course, Professor." My eyes snapped guiltily from the live airing of the opening round of the Pokemon League and found his, which were staring at me sternly.

"Good. So you can tell me where I instructed you to bring this package?" He waved a lumpy brown packet in front of my face for emphasis, and I could instantly feel my face starting to redden in embarrassment. My eyes instantly found my sneakers, and I noticed that my shoe was untied.

Professor Oak sighed before I had a chance to answer, folding his arms across his chest. "Ash," he scolded gently, "the package I hold in my hands is extremely important."

I shot up instantly in my chair, my eyes widening with curiosity. Professor Oak sighed again. "And this package is for privileged eyes only." He gave me another firm look.

I slumped back down in my seat in disappointment. The professor sure had a way of catching my attention, then losing it a split second later! And he wondered why I would rather watch the match on TV. What was in that package?

"Bill should be the only one who reads these papers."

"Yes, professor," I replied robotically. OK, so the package had papers in it. But of what?

"You do still remember where Bill lives, right?"

"Of course." If the papers dealt with Bill, then maybe they were about the Dragonite he saw that one night! Or, better yet, maybe even a new pokemon!

"Good. You'll need to depart for Cerulean City as soon as possible."

The words had barely left the good professor's mouth before the thoughts of Cerulean City, which was famous for water and water pokemon, flooded my mind. No pun intended. "Cerulean City?" I asked, my mouth slightly open with surprise.

The professor arched an eyebrow. "Yes, Cerulean. Is there a problem?"

"Not at all," I squeaked weakly, slumping down farther in my chair as humanly possible. Cerulean City. This was going to be… interesting. To say the very least.

-----

The salty sea air greeted my nose as I stepped out of my car into the heart of Cerulean.

Official business had brought me back, and I tried to keep my mind set on the job that Professor Oak had given me, but it was hard. I was trying to focus on getting the package to Bill as soon as possible, but I knew that subconsciously, I had other things to worry about. Cerulean City wasn't exactly at the top of my list of "Places I Love To Be."

Let me explain. It's not that I don't like Cerulean City; in fact, I love it. The salty air breeze, the waves crashing gently on the beach, everything about the city seems to function in the same relaxing way. And it's all like clockwork.

Well, everything except her. Her being the main reason I wasn't too fond of visiting Cerulean. Before you make any assumptions, no, I didn't have some sort of dramatic falling out with her when she left. We left each other on good terms, actually. No arguing. No yelling. No constant reminders about lost bikes.

Which was, in a way, what kind of made things worse. If we had argued before we left, it would have been so much easier to say goodbye. And maybe I wouldn't have missed her as much as I did.

You know, it's kind of funny. People always say they'll keep in touch with old friends, but most of the time, they don't. That one phone call or letter gets put off for a day, maybe. The days become weeks. The weeks become months. The months become years. And before you know it, that old friend is just another vague chapter in the book of life.

This had happened to us, slowly, but surely. If this has ever happened to you, then you can imagine my fear of bumping into her accidentally.

As soon as I saw her walking down the main street of Cerulean City, my heart nearly jumped out of my chest. I recognized who she was in a heartbeat.

She had been jogging. She was wearing a light blue track suit, and her orange hair was pulled up in a hasty ponytail. She looked older -- after all, it had been a couple of years -- but there was no doubt in my mind that it was her.

Pulling my hat down over my eyes as far as I could, I held my head down and walked quickly, trying to pass her as fast as I could. Maybe after I delivered the package to Bill, I would stop by her gym and surprise her. But right now, I couldn't. I had made a promise to the professor.

A little voice in the back of my head lauged at me. "Yeah, right."

I passed her and was just about to relax when I heard a familiar voice from behind me.

"Ash Ketchum, is that you?"

Busted. Guiltily, I turned around, fixing my hat. "Misty?" I exclaimed with mock surprise. "Wow! I didn't even notice you! How'd you know it was me?"

"I would notice that goofy Pokemon League hat anywhere."

"Hey!"

She laughed, a twinkling noise that I couldn't help but smile at. "Sorry, it's been a while since I've insulted you. How have you been?"

"I've been good. How about you?" The sky rumbled, dark clouds gathering around us ominously. I found a rock and kicked it nervously in front of us. It skittered to a halt, and when I had caught up to it, I kicked it again.

She chose not to answer my question. Instead, she looked up at the dark gray clouds. "You know, I've always liked the rain. I think it's because it reminds me of the ocean."

I rolled my eyes. "Everything reminds you of the ocean."

She glared at me menacingly, then reached into her pocket and frowned. "You're lucky that I left my trusty mallet at home…" I heard her mutter. She cleared her throat. "Not everything. Just most things."

We walked for a while in awkward silence, the only noise coming from the rock I was kicking absentmindedly in front of us.

After a while, Misty turned to me abruptly "You know Ash," she said quickly, "there's this water pokemon festival happening in Cerulean next week, and as one of the sisters of the gym I'm required to go and bring an escort, and I know it's really short notice and all, and it's a total pain, but I was wondering if you would want to go with me." She took a deep breath, trying to regain her composure. "Just as friends of course. You know, to catch up and stuff. My sisters are always making fun of me because I can never find anyone to go with."

I grinned at her slyly. "You mean, a date."

"NO! You would only have to show up for an hour or two, tops, and you don't even have to talk to me if you don't want to." She turned around with a soft "humph" of indignation, crossing her arms. "Never mind. I'll just find someone else."

"No, I'll go with you."

Her hard demeanor changed, and she turned around and stared at me with her mouth slightly agape. "What?"

"I'll go with you," I repeated, feeling utterly stupid now. "It'll be the perfect first date," I added jokingly, trying to ease the tension.

She snorted loudly. "The water festival would not be the perfect date. Too much publicity and cameras."

"Really? What would, then?"

"The perfect date…" she sighed. All that romantic, mushy gushy stuff still got to her, obviously. "It would be sitting by the ocean. Watching the sunset, and being with a person I really love. Just like those romance novels…" she sighed again with stars in her eyes, then turned around to face me. She reddened in embarrassment. "Eheheh… or, something like that. I dunno. It would be perfect as long as I'm with that one person I want to be with."

My heart fell. If her perfect date was just being with someone she loved, and the water festival wasn't a good date… was it because I was going with her? But wait, that didn't make sense. Because she was the one who asked me to go with her. Girls were so confusing. Even when they're grown up.

We had reached the grassy meadow that separated Bill's cottage and Cerulean City. I kicked the rock one last time in frustration. It landed in the middle of the open field, where a lone pidgey was poking at something at the grass. The rock hit it in the head, and it promptly started to fly toward us. As it was flying, I got a better look at it.

Uh oh. It was a spearow. It looked at me menacingly, a glint of violence in it's eyes. And then it let out a frightening cry. "SPEAAAROW!"

I knew what was coming next. All the other ambivalent emotions that were swirling around in my head left in an instant, and the only thing I cared about was protecting Misty. "Misty. RUN!"

She obeyed, but looked back and saw that I was still standing there. "What are you doing, Ash?"

"Just GO!"

The spearow had flown into the air, and was now circling me. It eyed me carefully, and I stared back at it, unfazed. For a long while, our eyes stayed lock, gauging each other. I stood my ground.

Suddenly, it dive-bombed, it's beak pointing straight at chest. I gritted my teeth. My heart was pounding like a jackhammer in my chest. I was scared out of my mind, yet there I stood, my arms outstretched, my jaw set stubbornly, watching as the wild bird dove straight at me. It's shiny beak, ending in a razor sharp point, was soon only about three feet in front of me.

And the spearow was still gaining speed.

Two feet.

My heart was pounding in my ears.

One foot.

I could see the bird's eyes clearly now, and, if I hadn't known better, I would have thought that it was smirking at me. It was almost saying something along the lines of "You lose, kid."

Half a foot.

I planted my feet firmly in the hard ground, bracing myself for impact.

It was millimeters away when I felt my legs fall out from under me. I landed on the hard ground with an oomph. The spearow soared past my head a split second later, and I could literally feel it's beak raking through my hair, like a sick, twisted comb.

What had happened?

One look at what lay sprawled at my feet answered my question. There was Misty, that same annoying stubborn look on her face, looking up at me angrily. "Don't try to play hero, Ash Ketchum. I can take of myself." She had tackled me. And then she did the weirdest thing. She smiled at me.

I sure picked the weirdest times to notice how nice Misty Waterflower looked when she smiled. Because meanwhile, the spearow had circled around and was eyeing us calmly. It's beak twisted into a little smile, and it let out another horrendous cry. "SPEAROW!"

I watched in helpless horror as more spearows rose from the surrounding trees. They circled close, menacingly, ready to dive at any second. The first spearow, which remained calmly suspended in front of the flock, had never broke it's eye contact with me. I could see a small glint of pleasure in it's eyes as it screamed again. And then the birds dove.

This had happened to me before. So I knew what I was going to do.

I threw myself over Misty, covering her from the wild birds. She looked at me like I was crazy, and tried to pull me off. "Ash, don't hurt yourself just for me!" But I held my ground.

Their beaks were like needles, jabbing and digging at my back. White hot pain seared throughout my body, but I clenched my jaw and fought through it. More pain. When would it end? I heard Misty screaming something from beneath me, but it all just sounded like a faded blur. And then, black.

-----

I woke up with a throbbing headache, a sharp pain in my side, a numbness in my arm, a twinge -- well, let's just say that when I woke up, my whole body hurt. Where was I? What happened? I looked around. The room was sickeningly white, and a rhythmic beeping filled the air. Was I in… a hospital?

The realization dawning on me, I quickly shot up out of my bed. A needle was ripped out of my arm, but it felt like just a tickle compared to what I had just been through. And plus, I had more important things on my mind. "Where's Misty?"

The nurse in the room wheeled around in surprise. "Oh," she said warmly, "You're awake!"

"Where is she?"

"You mean, the girl that brought you in? She's the reason you're alive!" The nurse's smile flickered and I felt my heart jump.

"Where is she?" I demanded again.

"You should really get some rest," the nurse smiled warmly, although her face had a slightly panicked look on it.

"Bring her here."

"Sir, I'm afraid that's not possible. We still have some tests to run on you--"

"I don't care," I said flatly. I gritted my teeth -- I know that she was just trying to do her job and help me, but it didn't matter.

"Sir, stay calm. Everything is OK."

Was it? Was I just being paranoid? I shook my head. "I don't care about tests, I have to see her!"

The nurse looked at me in awe.

"Please, ma'am. Haven't you ever…" I still had to force the words out of my mouth, even though Misty wasn't in the room. "Haven't you ever been in love?" My own choice of words surprised me.

She looked at me sympathetically, her sad eyes twinkling with moisture. Then she sighed. "Alright sir, come with me. But only for a second or two. And I have to warn you -- what you see won't be pretty."

I let the words sink in as she led me across the hall to the adjacent room, wondering what she meant. When I saw Misty, I knew.

There she was, lying in a bed, deathly pale, her red hair like a splash of blood on the white pillow. An array of tubes and machines were hooked up to her, and she looked about as bad as I felt. But she wasn't attacked… so what could have possibly happened…?

"She brought you in. Carried you all the way here," the nurse whispered, as if she had read my mind. "You lost a lot of blood, and our hospital has been running low… so she volunteered to give you some of hers. Everything seemed to be going smoothly, but her wounds aren't healing as fast as yours. We think she was poisoned by something on the way here."

She had saved my life. The words met my ears as a blur. "So how come I…?"

"We don't know why you healed faster. She could have had an allergic reaction of some sort. We still have to run some tests. The fastest route to the hospital is through the forest, so we're still studying and comparing all the known types of pokemon toxins found there." The nurse gave me a sad, yet heartwarming smile. "I'll leave you two alone." As she was exiting, she turned her head in my direction. "And by the way, it's best not to mention any of this -- we don't want to induce any trauma to complicate her healing process, so we're waiting until she's in better condition to tell her." The nurse left.

Misty, you scrawny, stupid, dumb, runty, courageous, selfless, caring, beautiful girl…

Taking a deep breath, I limped over to her bed. Taking her hand gently in mine, I couldn't help but stare at her fragile body helplessly. I stroked her soft hair with my other hand, watching her erratic breathing and listening to the strange beeps and sounds of the machines around us.

It was a weird feeling. It was like I was powerless. I wanted to help her so badly, but I couldn't. I would have given anything that very moment to share her pain. Share her hurting. In fact, I would have given anything to take it all away from her.

"Misty?" I whispered, scared, taking her hand in mine. They fit together perfectly.

Her eyes fluttered weakly, and she gave me a feeble smile. "Hey, Ash."

"Thank you, Misty…" I sat down gingerly on the bed, not wanting to hurt myself -- or her, for that matter.

"Are you OK?" Her voice was weak, but filled with concern.

I laughed, but then stopped because of the pain from my stomach. "I should be asking you the same question."

She laughed too, then started coughing. I sat up with alarm. "I've had my better days. But we'll get through this." She smiled at me, and if I hadn't been sitting on the bed, my knees would have given out on me. I loved her smile.

Gently, I took her hand and wrapped it in mine. I squeezed it lightly. The machine next to us that used to be silent started beeping incessantly. "I wish they would turn that off," I said, annoyed.

She was silent. "Yeah," she said finally. "Ash? I have something to tell you."

"Sure, anything," I said gently, using my other hand to brush the hair away from her face.

"I know… I know I haven't been the easiest person to get along with. But I just wanna say that I love you."

Her words floored me. Was what was happening… real? "I love you too, Misty. You and Brock. You guys are great… friends." I couldn't bring myself to tell her how I really felt. Not now. Not like this. It just didn't feel right.

She gave me another frail laugh. "Ash, you're so dense." Her voice seemed to be growing weaker by the second, and the machine next to us started beeping more violently. "I love you. I always… have, and I always will. I'll always be… with you. No matter… what… happens…" She had to force herself to speak those last few words. Her body seemed to be giving up on her. Her eyes fluttered again, this time closing. The machine's beeping grew more rampant, until suddenly, it was just one steady, never-ending noise.

"Misty?" My voice quivered in a silent whisper. "Misty? You can't go. Not now!" I gave her a gentle shake, but she didn't respond. "Misty, what about the water festival? You promised you would take me!" I could feel tears stinging the back of my eyes. This was not happening. This was NOT HAPPENING!

"If you come back, I promise I'll take you on that date that you always wanted. I'll pack us a nice dinner, and we can go sit by the beach and watch the sunset…" The tears wanted to fall, but I held them back. "We can stay out as long as you want! We can watch the stars, or the sunset, just like they do in those stupid romance books you like! I promise! C'mon Misty, stop joking! Wake up!" I was frantic now, screaming at the top of my lungs, almost to the point of tears. "WAKE UP!"

A half a dozen doctors and nurses rushed into the room. "We've run out of blood!" I heard one of them scream. "Contact the other area hospitals, and see if they can send us some, stat!" He finally saw me. "What is he doing here? Someone get him OUT!"

They tried to pull me away from her, but I fought them. "Let me stay with her!" I pleaded desperately, my eyes starting to water. My screams were to no avail. "Please!"

They ignored me, and I felt two pairs of strong hands pulling me away from her. "PLEASE!" I choked out between ragged breaths. "Just let me stay with her!" I shot my hand out behind me randomly and felt it collide with something soft. I kicked in another direction, and I heard someone behind my gasp in pain, but it seemed like their death-grips were getting tighter and tighter.

Finally, the pain that had been surging through my body won out. I collapsed on the floor and couldn't resist as two men carried me to my bed in the next room. Through the walls, I could hear frantic yelling and beeping. And then the worse noise of all.

Silence.

End Flashback

-----

It's been a while since that fateful, rainy day. And every day, every minute, every second away from her since then has hurt. But it's rainy days like this that hurt the most.

I've had time to think and clear my head. What would have happened if I had never saw her across the street that day? If I had never delivered that message for the professor? Things could be different. It all happened so fast. Too fast.

It's really ironic, if you think about it. The same thing that brought us together in this world was what broke us apart.

But I've come to live with it… everything happens for a reason, right? Unfortunately, it took something this tragic to get me to realize how I really felt for her.

And stupid me, I had never gotten a chance to say it.

But that's OK. 'Cause every time it rains, I know that she's watching over me -- I bend my head back just a little, catching some of it on my lips, kissing the rain. And I know she's kissing me back.

I'll always be with you. You got that right.

I love you. That part had always choked me up. I had never gotten a chance to tell her that… I loved her too. Silently, I turned up to the sky, the rain beating down upon my face. I didn't care. Tears mixed with rain streamed down my cheeks. Slowly, I mouthed the words "I love you" to the dark gray clouds.

Suddenly, the sky was illuminated by a brilliant bolt of cackling lightning, and for one second I could have sworn I heard her voice. The thunder rumbled slowly and comfortingly. "I love you too, Ash."

Yes, I had always loved the rain…

(fin…)

A/N: Heh. Bittersweet, right? Kinda weird ending, but hey, I thought it fit. I like this fic a lot, for some reason.

I'm not sure if this revised version is better or worse than the first. I tried to make it not as rushed as the first, but still with the same message… but I hope that I didn't make the opening too long or tedious. I was kind of afraid that it would take away from the whole meaning of the fic, but I'm kinda happy with the revision. For any new readers, I'd like to know what you think, and for any readers that read the original, I'd like to know what you liked (or didn't) about the changes.

Thoughts (in the form of a review) are always greatly appreciated.