Disclaimer: I do not own pokemon.
Author's Note: This fic is a mini-series of about four chapters long. I created it as a summer celebration to 'The Waterflower Front', a small group that I'm in, which consists of some now close online friends. The fact is that I've always wanted to make an AAML series, but haven't really had the time or opportunity up until now. Mind you, I am busy this summer, and part one is likely the only one that will be up for awhile. So, in the mean time, treat this as a one-shot.
Thanks for listening to my rant. Here's the first section of "Get Well Soon".
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - a psychiatric illness that can occur following a traumatic event in which there was threat of injury or death to you or someone else.
Ash Ketchum gazed up at the azure sky, watching the fluffy, pale clouds lazily float across the atmosphere. Various birdsongs rose and graced within the air, originating from the trees all around him, who were adding their own quiet, shushing melody to the chorus. A single Yanma buzzed over his head, a Poliwag playing in the fountain to his left. He quirked a smile at that, enjoying the garden area. The sunlight lifted his heavy mood, the sunlight penetrating the dark shadows within him. It was beautiful, this garden, mused the twenty-five-year old. Very beautiful…
He leaned back against the bench, in white pants and a T-shirt. Some would say he looked almost celestial, the blinding way the light shown off him. Others would think to themselves that they could never pull it off, that pale outfit. But, somehow, the young man did. His tan skin, and dark hair was only accented by the snowy color. As was the faint sparkle in his chocolate brown eyes, angelic in their softness.
The flowers were blooming nicely, he noticed. Their scent, sweet and crisp, perfumed the air, adding to the warm summer smell around them. Water lapped as the concrete sides of the fountain pool, the marble of it dull in areas. It was still pretty however. The stream spouting from its top glittering in the sun's rays. Small lilies with their creamy flowers bobbed with the small movement of the waves, and the tadpole pokemon blinked at him. He smiled, and the water creature dived down again, enjoying this moment of relaxation, like he.
Once more, Ash glanced around, observing his surroundings. The place wasn't large, about half the size of a football field, and completely fenced in by hefty brick walls, about eight feet high and two feet thick. Certainly, it was low enough to climb over if one wanted, but as there was only forest on the other side, full of thistles and other bothersome hassles, he felt no desire to. Stone walkways snaked through the area, between the array of trees and garden plots. The lawn was well kept, and the small, manmade, shallow lakes were clean of natural debris. To his right, the building this tiny "park" was connected to, rose stiff and sharp, compared to the abstract, organic theme around him.
It was not an ugly construction really. Two stories, with an earthy red roof; and glimmering glass windows, that were wide and dark, which shinned brightly on the light grey building. At some outlooks were tiny hanging gardens, adding a spattering of color its plain face. He winced as he saw the bars on a few of the windows, the iron menacing as it reflected the sunlight. But some of the inhabitants here needed them, unfortunately.
Sighing, he glanced at the face of his watch again, noting the time. He had somewhere to be in about an hour…and he wanted to see his friend before he left. He'd been waiting in the garden for over twenty minutes now…how long did it take to alert someone and put in a visit? Not that he was very irked…after all, he'd wait for far longer if he had to. However, he was on a schedule today, and while the idea of leaving without seeing his companion bothered him immensely, being a bane, he might not have a choice if they took much longer…
Suddenly, as though hearing his impatient thoughts, a pair of footsteps pervaded the air, approaching him. Looking to the walkway, he grinned as he saw the two women approaching him. One of the females could only be called an acquaintance. Her dark auburn hair was in a tight, strict bun, he orchid eyes indifferent, carefully devoid of emotion. She pushed her glasses back up her long nose as she came closer, leading her companion to him. Pushing a strand of loose hair back, she announced back to the younger adult following her:
"Mr. Ketchum wanted to see you miss. I'll come back to fetch you in an hour," She stated, giving the other woman a curt look, and began to stroll away in her official garb.
Misty nodded, thanking her quietly. Ash smiled silently as she sat down beside him, noting her casual dress. Blue jeans and a lemon yellow shirt, with a pattern of white leaves. She didn't look him in the face for a time, her fingers wringing a small piece of paper. Then, seeing what she was doing, she stuffed the scrap away, and gazed up at him, masking her anxiety with a happy expression.
He asked, feeling a bit of joy course it's way through him, "How are you doing today Mist'? I notice they're letting you wear something normal for once."
She gave a small laugh, her hair hanging down, cut to shoulder length, waving in a slight breeze, "Yeah…it's a nice change. I'm okay, I suppose. Busy, but fine."
He nodded slightly, "That's good. How's the gym doing?"
He'd noticed, after the first time he'd seen her; that she enjoyed speaking about her home. About the trainers who came and challenged her, about how her pokemon were fairing. Misty sometimes complained about her annoying sisters, which made him chuckle, even though she was irritated at him afterwards. It was simply that…she seemed okay, for a time. It seemed like reminiscing on her past helped bring her back to herself.
It was somewhat disheartening though, that she still believed she was a gym leader. She acted as though nothing were different, that she was fine. But the doctors had told Ash differently. She was repressing what had happened, and anything remotely connected to it…bottling up her pain in a way that would make it bearable. Forming a selective memory, and forgetting everything else.
He didn't understand at first. For how would she get better if she didn't face it?
However, the times he'd tried to force this issue, she'd started crying, and had left right then and there. After the first few attempts, he'd realized that he didn't have the strength to continue making her hurt, even if it might aid her. So, Ash now simply played along, giving her company. Because that's what he enjoyed…and he understood that, in a small way, his visits were helping her. The doctors had also said that much.
As her words started, he listened, breaking from his thoughts, "The gym's fine. Gyarados had a nasty toothache a few days ago, and Nurse Joy had one heck of a time trying to pinpoint which of his fangs needed pulling. Eventually, she got it though. He's currently growing a new one back, but can't eat his usual diet without it being smashed into a paste. He doesn't like that at all. I get the distinct feeling it reminds him of when he was a Magikarp."
Ash laughed at that, and she smiled. Things were going along smoothly this time. No awkward moments, no stretching silences. Yes…this visit was going well. One could only wish it would remain that way, until, somehow, the recovery was made. Until things could return to how they'd been…
After a time, the conversation died peacefully, and the two watched the clouds drift through the blue, the sun glowering between the emerald leaves. The tree whose branches stretched out above them acted like a protective mother, watching over her children, keeping the burning heat, though innocent of its faults, from them. The air was warm and moist, in a way that hinted at a coming rainstorm. Neither would mind the cool shower across the industrial world not far away, for it would come here next. Soothing…the music of the rain clean and cool against weary hearts and minds.
Occasionally, one of them would point at a specific formation of the cottony clouds, drawing images from their imaginations. There was a mermaid, and a dove. Over there was pillow broken open in playful fight. Sometimes pokemon like Pikachu would appear, smiling down at the couple of humans. They'd done this as children, and even years later it remained a kind pastime. As sweet moments passed, Misty quietly reached over, taking his hand. Ash did not pull away. Inside, Misty felt a flicker of hope spark up…maybe someday…maybe someday soon…
Suddenly, her companion ripped his hand away from hers, breaking the tranquil mood sharply. Inside her own mind, she begged, pleading for it not to occur this time. Praying they'd go back to the minute before… However, that wasn't to be. The Ash now, unlike the one she'd just been with, seemed distant, trapped in another place. He didn't see her frantic expression; hear how she was crying for him to look at her. Instead, he only seemed to shudder, rocking back and forth, trembling slightly. It was a motion she knew well.
Would he scream this time? She wasn't certain. She never could tell when and where it was going to happen. It was completely unpredictable, these daytime flashbacks, and the medication he was taking only helped so much. Misty had talked to his doctors this morning…he'd taken his pills! That of course though, insured nothing. The woman reached out, trying to touch his shoulder-
As soon as she set a finger on him, he thrashed out, and Misty quickly withdrew her hand. Tears sprung to her eyes, and she chocked down a sob. Inside, she felt her heart breaking once more, bursting from the anguish it had tried to keep locked inside. For she couldn't do anything. Her visits aided in lifting some of his depression, and his other unsociable symptoms…but she could not cure him. Between medication and therapy, there was a chance at healing for him…but no one could say how long it would take.
She looked away from him, not wanting his desperate murmurs to enter her ears. She knew what he said during these occurrences. For not the first time, she wished that that day had never happened. She wished that he wasn't one of the few who developed this disorder. She wanted this nightmare to end! As she heard footsteps running towards them quickly, she looked up at a hand rested on her shoulder. The woman from before gazed down at her sadly, whispering for her to stand. Misty nodded, glancing as the other psychiatrists took Ash by the shoulders despite how he fought…beginning to yell at them as though they were the paramedics from the ambulance, asking frantically about a 'Sunny'.
At the mention of the name, Misty began to tremble, and pushed past the elder adults with a bowed head. She was weeping openly now, and fought through the others within the building to get to the parking lot. As she drove away for St. Roselia's Institute, she brushed her tears away with a hand, and then silently admitted to herself as they blurred her vision once more, that she was in no shape to drive. The gravel crunched loudly beneath the navy Saturn as she pulled over. For a time, she rested her head on the wheel, and then reached into her purse, pulling out a cell phone.
As the one she was calling picked up, she said quietly, "Brock? Could you come and pick me up?"
He recognized her voice immediately, "Misty? Where are you?"
"Visiting Ash…," she whispered.
There was a pause, "I see…I'll be there in ten." He responded, and then hung up.
When he did so, she stuffed her phone away, and began to shake with sobs, though she tried to control it. Looking up, barely, to the radio dial, where two small photographs were pinned, she stifled a cry inside her chest, feeling sick with grief and wistfulness. It wasn't fair…for the thousandth time, she wondered why. And for the thousandth time, no answer presented itself to her.
As she fingered the ring she had on, she gazed at the first picture. The day then had been a lot like the weather now, glorious and shinning. Beautiful…the perfect time for a celebration. She recalled that it was supposed to rain then, but by some good stroke of fortune the storm had veered around Pallet Town. White petals floated down on the couple there, and she smiled, just a little, at the memory.
She was in that huge, pale blue dress that her sisters had insisted on her wearing, with the all-important bouquet she was supposed to toss in her hands. Ash stood beside her, looking odd, but good in his tux, grinning widely, as though he'd just won the lottery (he'd probably been struck by "lightning" enough times). Their hands clasped together, she could just make out the rings on both of their fingers. Golden…binding. It took a keen eye to make the wedding rings out, but after weeks of observation, she was able to pick them out and show them to others. It had been such a happy time…
They'd been nineteen. A very young couple, true, but no one had disapproved. In fact, many had seen it coming. It was obvious they cared for each other…and after two years married, nothing about their bond had changed really, as it had when they'd been children. Friendship…to something else, a lot more precious. Except perhaps one thing was different. Ash now understood dirty jokes a lot better…it was something that had made her laugh, at how quickly innocence had been left behind. In its place had been left a strange, but fitting maturity…and with a retained capacity for a little playful fun once and awhile. It had been an excellent shift, considering what Misty would tell him on their second year anniversary.
She then turned her eyes to the second picture. Her heart constricted, and she fought another fresh, tearing wave of sorrow. Ash was in the park, looking up at the person he was giving a piggyback ride to joyfully. He was laughing at the time, as was the other he carried. The child was about three years old, with orange hair, cropped short and hanging loosely. She was in blue overalls with a tan T-shirt underneath. It brought out her eyes…chocolate brown, just like her father's were. Her mother, standing near them, had taken the picture.
"Sunny…," Misty whispered mournfully, and in her sadness didn't notice the car driving up to hers. As Brock got out, tapping on her window, she lifted her head, sniffing, her eyes red.
Her friend opened her door silently, and pulled her out gently, leading her from the car, which he went back and locked up. He'd come back and tow it to her place as soon as he got her home. As she climbed into the passenger seat of the red pick-up truck, grasping for the Kleenex, he got in, turning on the engine.
"Let's get you home Mrs. Ketchum. Your sisters are waiting anxiously for you to beat some trainer's bum," He tried for humor.
She gave a weak smile, and watched the world pass by out her window as he drove…missing her husband and daughter almost more than she could bear. But she'd stay strong for the one who was left…and it was only when he got better, that would she allow herself to fall apart and grieve with him, in the way that they were supposed to… For now…that was all she could do.
And with all hope and prayer…that would be enough…
Author's Note: I suppose, in writing this, I had one thing in mind: most people make Misty the one who suffers. Whether that's because she's female or not, which I hope isn't the case, it's a fact that making Misty hurt or needing help is more likely. So, I wanted to do something different from that. And add a couple of twists here and there as well.
Well, thank you for reading. For those of you who would be kind enough, do review with your thoughts.