This is turning out to be quite a long fic…

Chapter 31: Finale

It had been five days.

Lance had been hovering over Red anxiously, almost oppressively, hoping that nothing had interfered with the magic process, and making sure Ash's new power worked.

Now, though, Ash felt fine, so they left the valley.

He held onto Lance tightly, not wanting to let go even though he knew it was futile. Yes, Lance would protect him with his own life, but where was the love?

All he ever received was a deep love, like an older brother for his younger sibling. To his shock, Ash realized that he had started crying.

Angrily, he tried to wipe the tears away, but they just kept coming.

Pressure… pressure could do that to a person. Twist them around and make small things magnify into glaring anger.

Lance tipped his chin up, looking into his eyes. "Ash, what's wrong?"

The Dragon Master's mind began to whirl in loops. Ash had to kept secure and happy, or else his light would start to fade. And if that happened, they could all risk losing their lives.

He had to keep him happy.

Not just protection anymore, Lugia had warned him. Happiness was necessary. This was a definite tangle.

But he didn't mind. If he could ensure Ash's protection, he could make him happy as well.


"L-lance… do you love me?" Red asked, staring into the other boy's silver eyes. Please, please, don't let him hate me…. if he hates me and has to protect me, I'd be torturing him and I don't want that…

"Of course." Lance said, surprised by the strange question. "I love you."

"Honto ni?"
Lance looked into those tearful brown eyes, as he kissed Ash, a butterfly's wing beat, nothing more.

I have loved you ever since we met. In my own way, but never doubt my devotion to you.

"D-demo…" Ash stammered. "You didn't show it…"

Lance smiled, capturing Ash in a kiss once again. Ash… I have never loved anyone before. But if it were just duty, would I bother taking care of you? Would I nurse you through sickness? Would I bother cooking up all of those delicious meals? All my duty called was to keep an eye on you and keep you alive.

Guilt plummeted into Ash's stomach with a sickening crunch.

What Lance said was perfectly true.

Love was not all kisses and nights tangled between damp sheets. There had to be more substance. It wasn't just flowers and professions of deep ardor.

There had to be an understanding, a connection, deep inside, between their very souls.

It was true he and Lance had that strange bond, even though Ash never thought of it as love, more like friendship.

Still… there was no lie in that tone. None at all! Truth in its crystal clarity was its own bond.

"You wanted me to kiss you senseless, tie you to the bed and then make mad passionate love to you?"

"Uh… I wouldn't put it that explicitly." Ash said, blushing again.

Lance smiled, stroking Ash's hair. "Then?"

"Never mind." Ash said, enjoying the soothing motion. The past isn't important… we have a future to look forward to together now. And I know he loves me. He's the only family I have; my grandfather is too far away and my parents don't count…

His eyes closed as Lance continued to caress him. Whatever came now, he could face it without fail.

After all, Lance would never leave him.


It was a promise built on nothing but truth.

Lance began to trail kisses down Ash's body, as he slid his arms around Ash's chest comfortably.

"Do you want this?"

"I-I'm not sure." Ash said hesitantly. "This is a bit sudden."

"I understand." Lance told him. "I'd never force my, my little hikari. I'll protect you from myself if I must."

Ash smiled. "I know."

And the light shone brightly in his eyes as they stepped once more into the whirl of their lives.


Now, I bet a lot of you are wondering why it took so long for the two to confess. There are a couple of reasons.

First of all, I didn't want this fic to be a P-W-P. That means I needed plot development. It just turned out to be a long plot.

Secondly…Lance's whole aspect in this fic… have you noticed that he doesn't seem to be completely there? Even though Lance is obsessing over the whole protection aspect and he mentions Ash as sweet and pretty over and over, he cannot reconcile his own feelings. As far as he is concerned, he has no feelings beyond playing Ash's older brother. Stepping out of that role is not something he's comfortable with, so he waits for Ash to make the first move. As Ash is totally confused himself, it takes the impeding responsibility weighing on him to realize that he actually needs Lance's presence.

Thirdly, Ash's own feelings throughout this fic jump from guilt to despair to hope to sadness. He doesn't seem to be thinking straight about the whole relationship factor. How can he hope to achieve anything with that jumbled mindset? He's afraid to confess because he doesn't want to break their friendship, but as time passes he grows even more afraid and winds himself closer to Lance as a type of self-delusion. Remember when Ash asked Lance to stay with him?

And finally, it's the part that neither of them have had much human contact before. They're unsure of how to act. It's that simple.


Started 4/11/04, completed 4/26/04

Well, Zapdos Articuno, I put this up for you. Please review heartily.