(A/N): Oh my...I must have left you all hanging, haven't I? Sorry...
For all of you who listened to my request for a more detailed review last chapter: Thanks! For all of you who didn't...thanks for reviewing anyway! And for those of you who favorited without reviewing...er...thanks for the...um...silent support?
Anyways, on with the story!
A Whisper in the Wind
A Whisper in the Wind
"Oh no, Ash!" Misty cried, reaching a hand out towards the lake, her eyes stinging with fresh tears. She ran towards the edge and stared into its blue depths, hoping, nay, praying for him to surface. Her prayers were not answered.
Rummaging around in her pockets, she found her kazoo-like, orange breathing device (A/N: how do those things work anyway?) and quickly shoved it into her mouth, and prepared to jump in the water. Just before she could dive in, somebody grasped her hand and pulled her back.
"What do you think you're doing, Rudy?" spluttered Misty angrily, trying her best to wring free of his strong grip.
"I could ask you the same question, Misty," he replied, concern written on his face.
"For once, Rudy is right, Misty," Max added. "It's practically impossible to retrieve somebody from a lake that deep with one of those breathers. The pressure's too much for them to work…"
"I don't care!" Misty retorted, wrenching her arm free from Rudy's hands.
"But Misty…" Rudy tried to reason with her.
"NO! Ash has done the impossible for us before, or have you forgotten what just happened?" Everybody backed up slightly from the sheer determination in her voice. "Now it's my turn to pull off the impossible. I won't let Ash down! I can't!"
Everyone looked at each other uncertainly, before turning back to her and nodding slowly, one at a time. Rudy was the last one to nod, adding a desperate "Be careful…" Misty appeared to have ignored him, however, and had already dived into the briny depths as soon as receiving the approval of the others.
It was dark. Dark and wet. And it only got darker as she went further down. It felt like she wasn't moving anywhere, everything was the same no matter how much she swam. It felt like she would never find anything…never find Ash. No…she couldn't think those kinds of thoughts. She would find Ash.
Although it would be a tad easier if she had any clue as to where he was.
Suddenly, she could feel pressure on her lungs. It was getting harder and harder to breathe. The air just would not come into the device. She realized that she was too deep into the water…but she couldn't just stop! Ash was down there somewhere, dying…
Stopping her descent, she tried to take deeper, slower breaths, doing her best to fill her lungs with air again. It wasn't working. She was barely getting enough to survive, let enough to swim any deeper into the water.
Oh…Ash… She blinked once, a small tear escaping her eyes and mixing with the water, unnoticed, now only another drop of water in the lake.
But…even the smallest tear has emotion behind it.
Please…somebody…show me where he is…
Even the smallest prayer…wish…desire…has an effect on somewhere…somebody…something.
…What is that?
It was floating slowly upward from the dark depths, a bright white, contrasting strongly against the darkened waters. It was almost like a bright beacon lighting her way…
It floated up right past her, it's soft petals brushing against her face briefly.
Suddenly, she felt a strong urging to go where the lotus had come from, she felt full of energy, like she could get through anything and everything. She swam, deeper and deeper, now ignoring the increasing pressure on her lungs.
Misty saw a black silhouette, it was large and straight, with many smaller jagged shapes sticking out of it. Another similar silhouette was laid on top of it, making an "X" shape. Quickly realizing those were the two trees that had trapped Ash, she sped up, soon reaching the crossed plants.
Looking around, she spotted Ash's unconscious form trapped under the second tree, the black Pokeball holding Shingara only a few feet away. The lines etched on his body had faded, returning to their ashen gray. Swimming towards him as fast as she could, she pushed desperately on the tree trunk, trying with all her might to budge it, to get that cursed object off of him. And yet, it did not budge, no, not a single inch. She kept pushing, and pushing, straining as hard as she could, as tears kept leaking out of her eyes and mingling with the water. Her strength gave out, and she slumped down to the floor, leaning on the accursed tree trunk. Grasping Ash's limp hand, she began to sob weakly, unaware that her breathing device was starting to bend and crack under the pressure.
I…I can't let him down…
The voice startled and frightened her, it was so dark and menacing. No…it can't be him…
Give up, girl…
She saw the dark Pokeball pulsing with black energy, the red markings lighting up in a bloody glow.
Even in this accursed prison, I can still make my presence known…and I can see that you will fail…
Stop deluding yourself, brat. You know as well as I do that you are too pathetic for him, you do nothing but let him down.
L-liar! Sh-shut up! You know nothing!
A dark laugh emanated from the ball, the red light glowing even more fiercely.
Foolish child. I know everything.
Misty could feel herself freeze up at that last statement, her hopes all draining away. She tried fervently to push away the dark influence, but it crept up into her heart, depressing her and making her want to just give up then and there. Her head fell, her body shaking feverishly, her hand loosing its death grip on Ash's limp fingers.
No…no…he's wrong, he's wrong! I am strong enough…right?
She stared blankly ahead at the black ball, still shaking. Her eyes closed in fear and self-doubt.
"Yes…" a weak voice whispered quietly, so soft it could barely be heard; yet, it hit her with the force of a thousand bricks.
Wha…? She then jolted back to her senses when she felt pressure on her hand, looking down, she saw that Ash's fingers had tightened around hers.
She felt revitalized, and tears filled her eyes again, not of sadness and desperation, but out of relief and joy. I still have a chance….
She got up and began to push again, her will replenished. The ball shuddered, the aura fading away, along with the last words of the spirit within. They shook Misty to her very core, despite her renewed confidence.
Kukuku…struggle now if you wish. Your happiness is only a temporary reprieve. All bliss is.
Misty did her best to ignore the dark words, but in the back of her mind, she couldn't help but feel a sense of dread at their implication.
She continued to push at the tree trunk, but as before, it did not budge. She noticed it was getting even harder to breathe, the device must be giving out, she reasoned. And she was right, cracks were starting to appear on the edges, the weak material giving into the high pressure of the water.
Ignoring the weakening device, she kept up her futile attempts to move the log, but it was hopeless, her by herself was just not enough to push the heavy object. She abruptly stopped when she felt a weak pulse of energy suddenly emerge and spread throughout the water. It was not coming from the black ball that was lying three feet away from her, no, it was coming from the limp form of Ash right beside her.
Almost instantaneously, she could hear the sounds of cooing and chattering, all heading towards her location. As the sounds came closer, she began to see the silhouettes of many water Pokemon, from Mantine to Tentacruel to Quagsire. Several of the Pokemon began helping Misty push the log away, while others were destroying the ends of the trunk in order to make it lighter and easier to move. The tree trunk now shifted easily under their combined strength, releasing Ash's limp body. Misty quickly grabbed him and prepared to swim to the surface, but was stopped by a Tentacruel grasping Ash's waist and her own. She looked at it in confusion, wondering what it wanted. A split second later, she realized that it wanted to help her get to the surface. She nodded a yes to it and grasped the tentacle around her tightly.
Misty glared at the black Pokeball as it became no more than a speck on the lakebed. You were wrong, demon. He will make it through. You'll see.
There was no response, save for a dark cackling.
"No, he's NOT!" Misty replied irritably, desperately trying to keep her own sinking spirits afloat. Ash had been unresponsive since he had been dragged out of the lake, and now Brock had been pushing his hands down on his sodden chest, forcing water out of the unconscious boy's lungs. Yet, no matter how much water came out, it seemed to do no good…he still wasn't breathing. With every second passed, more despair accumulated in their hearts. Misty could hear her thoughts whirling around, there were so muddled up that they were coming out in fragmented thoughts. He wasn't…there was no way…not after surviving all of that…he couldn't…leave…
She glared at his unmoving form. Dammit, she told him to be careful! Looking at Pikachu, she noticed his concerned look and began to worry-Pikachu was the only one who actually could comprehend what was happening to him.
"Is…is there…something wrong?" she asked the rodent, hoping for and dreading the answer at the same time.
Pikachu looked up at her, his crystal eyes unreadable. "He's dying," he stated bluntly, before jumping on to Ash's chest without another word.
Misty was taken aback at how briefly Pikachu said those words and gawked at him. "Wh-wha-?"
"I'm not one to waste time with sentiments when someone's life's on the line. We have to act quickly," Pikachu responded in the same toneless voice, his mouth quivering slightly. Misty noticed the slight twitch in his lips and calmed, knowing that Pikachu was truly as worried as she was. She had to muster up what strength she could and stay steady, if only for Ash's sake. She took a deep breath and let the question out, relieving the built up tension in her body.
"What do we have to do?"
"Get Pidgeot. It's the only Pokemon who's rested enough and large enough to carry all of us to where we have to go. Don't worry about telling it anything, it knows where to go in this situation. Do it NOW, I'll explain when we're on our way…"
A few minutes later, everyone was on the gargantuan Pidgeot's back as it soared through the sky; grasping on tightly as it sped along at mach speed. Somehow, everybody had managed to gather around Ash's sodden body, watching as Pikachu lay over his heart, fueling the multicolored energy into Ash's body. The energy pulsed through the marks on his skin with every breath; a steady, rhythmic heartbeat keeping him alive…for the time being.
"Right now, I'm acting as a spare battery of sorts by pumping my energy in Ash's body. Because his body has been pushed to the limit, he is unable to summon enough energy to access Ho-oh's power to keep himself alive. The key is to pump enough energy into his body in an instant to, in a sense, jump-start it. The problem is…on my own, I am unable to do this, because I can't focus my energy enough. I'm only a temporary solution. This is why we're having Pidgeot fly to where we are heading now…"
"Where is it?" asked Max, who was starting to turn green from the sheer speed that Pidgeot was flying at, it was a miracle that he could get his mouth open at all.
Pikachu looked at them all before closing his eyes and replying in a weary voice. "The Burned Tower in Ecruteak City."
"There's nothing there!"
"It's just charred wood!"
"It's more than just a burnt building," murmured Pikachu, his soft voice cutting through their confused voices like a knife through butter. "Its original purpose is still there…although many believe it to be long gone…"
"What do you mean by that?" questioned Brock.
"The legends of old state that the Burnt Tower was originally used as a means for a select few humans to communicate with Ho-oh, and was burnt down when greedy men tried to invade in order to gain its power. That is true. However, there was a hidden purpose for the tower that very few knew about, and it was for that reason the humans had attacked."
"What was it?" May asked, prompting Pikachu to continue the story.
Pikachu took a deep breath and continued. "The tower holds a special statue that channels the good energies of Pokemon and humans to form the unique white energy that you've seen Ash use in battle. That statue is where Ho-oh comes to when it is weak, and needs to rest. The leader of the group of humans who attacked the tower knew this…in fact…he was one of the humans that Ho-oh himself had chosen to communicate with him…"
Everyone gasped at the bit of this information.
"Ho-oh was shocked that humans could dirty their hearts and intentions like that, even when they had made vows and had been poor. He couldn't forgive the one who was supposed to be pure of heart for taking advantage of his moment of weakness, when only the lowest of scum would do such a thing. A human had fallen that low from a point of prestige…just for more power. That…that was the true reason Ho-oh fled the tower and refused to contact humans again. Ash was the first human to come in contact with him since that time hundreds of years back, the first to even get a glimpse of him at all…"
There was silence as everyone digested the tale that had been told.
"But…why are we going to the Burnt Tower? Wasn't a new tower erected and all the artifacts from the old tower placed in the new one?" Rudy queried.
"When people tried to move the statue, it refused to budge at all. Not even the strongest of humans could move it, and when Pokemon were forced to attempt to move the statue, they turned on their masters and fled, refusing to move the statue a single inch. That statue still stands in the Burnt Tower to this very day, hidden by an illusion that will only lift when Ho-oh himself comes near it."
"So…we are heading there to help Ash revive?" Misty asked, her voice shaking with relief.
"Yes…and there, we will meet up with the only other person who knows that Ash is still alive."
"Wait a minute…someone knew he was alive this whole time…and they didn't tell us at all?!" Misty's voice was still shaking, only now, it was riddled with anger.
"Yes…but it was necessary that he keep it secret...on Ash's request himself."
"Why?! Why did he keep us waiting like this, drowning in grief and worry?! Why?!" Misty was almost screaming now, wanting for nothing more for Ash to be alive so that she could throttle him.
"Because…he wanted to keep you safe," murmured Pikachu. The only indications that he was irked by her loud voice were a subtle twitch of the ear and a small grimace.
"Ugh…" Misty muttered, still seething. "Why does he always shoulder the burden himself?!" Despite the angry words, her voice was softening and her fists were unclenching.
"Isn't that why you started liking him in the first place?" a voice echoed from the depths of her mind. Misty calmed down before getting irritated again.
"Shut up, Pikachu."
Pikachu's eyes remained closed, but a small smirk could be seen crossing his face.
Pidgeot circled around the Burnt Tower once, letting everyone get a view of the decayed building, still looking miraculously the same after so many years.
"Wouldn't…wouldn't it have fallen down by now?"
"Ho-oh's power keeps it from crumbling. So long as the building stands, it is a sign that Ash is still with us," Pikachu murmured. His crystal eyes followed a single plank of charred wood as it broke from the roof and tumbled to the ground, shattering into many black splinters as it hit the floor. "And it looks like for not much longer…" Pikachu continued as more and more bits of wood broke off the edges of the roof. "We need to hurry…"
Pidgeot complied and dove into the highest story window.
The top floor consisted of only a single room, black and charred as the rest of the building. It was bare, the only things in the room were scattered black planks and holes in both the floor and ceiling. It was dark, save for the light coming in through the cracks in the walls and the windows, giving the room a secretive, creepy appearance. Everyone looked at the state of the floor, doubting that it would be able to hold them all, but Pidgeot landed without a problem.
As everyone slowly crawled off Pidgeot, Pikachu cried out. "Morty! Are you here?"
"Morty?!" Shocked cries echoed through the room.
"Yes, Morty," Pikachu replied, eyes still closed in concentration.
"He-he's the one who knows about Ash?" Misty said weakly.
"Yep. Since he's descended from one of Ho-oh's communicants, he is the one who maintains the tower and waits for his return. Ash has been visiting yearly in order to rest. Morty is the only one who can initiate the process to let Ash revive."
"But…but what if he's not here?" Misty murmured, fearing that there would not be enough time to wait for Morty.
"Don't worry, he'll be here. Listen."
Everybody went quiet, and they heard a soothing, yet agonizing tone. Bells were chiming, but not in a high tinkling tone that most bells sang. They were slow and mournful, almost like…"
"Funeral bells," whispered Misty, distraught.
"The bronze and crystal bells chime that way when Ho-oh is close to dying. It is the signal for the communicants to come to the statue together and prepare to revive him. It is the most solemn and sacred duty of the communicants, and they must answer the bells when they toll no matter what…or face the consequences. Sadly…many of the communicants' descendants drifted away from the tower, believing that it was useless to wait for something that would never come. Morty is the only communicant left."
"That's…that's awful…for all of them to leave…" muttered May, the others agreeing with her.
"It is indeed. Especially when they would be needed in a time like this," a voice agreed with the group, surprising everyone.
Pikachu turned to the person who was standing in the doorway. "Morty!"
Morty was slumped against the doorframe, his clothes looking bedraggled, as if he had thrown them on in a hurry. His blonde hair was limp and wet, and water was dripping from it down his face, almost making it look like as if he was crying. On top of his usual clothing, which was a blue sweater with a yellow line along with some purple pants, was a white cloak with ornate gold designs on the back. The design was a golden flame swirling up from the bottom and forming the image of a phoenix within its many tendrils.
"There isn't much time for small talk. Please, I need all of you guys to help," Morty said in a rushed voice. "We need to get him over there, where there is a whole bunch of charred boards on top of each other." He pointed to a large pile in the back of the room, where indeed, large pieces of black wood were piled precariously on top of each other, making a sort of layered pyramid. Everybody gathered around and lifted Ash up, Pikachu still lying on his chest. Misty, who was cradling Ash's head, looked down at the unconscious trainer, noting how faint his breathing was. She truly hoped it wasn't too late.
"Place him there, on the fifth step," Morty instructed. They did so, and watched in amazement as the lines on Ash's body briefly glowed gold and the image of the blackened boards seemed to waver before fading away, leaving a brilliant golden statue of Ho-oh perched on a large pedestal. The pedestal had crystalline engravings of flames around its side, and the wings of the golden Ho-oh also had the same crystalline design etched on them as well. The Ho-oh had its wings spread out wide, as if it was giving out a sort of decree. Ash lay at the bird's feet, his tattered cloak spread out wide as if he too was spreading his wings.
Morty stood in front of the pedestal, and placed his hand above Ash's chest, where his heart was. He turned his head towards the others who were standing behind him, unsure of what to do.
"Normally, one communicant is enough to restore him," Morty said, his face shadowed, a grimace etched on his face. "But…"
"What? What's wrong?" Misty asked desperately, wondering if all this was all in vain.
"Ash is near death. It would take a major influx of energy to revive him…and I'm afraid only one person is not enough to convert the energy required," Morty said, still frowning.
"Convert?" Brock questioned.
"Correct. Ho-oh lives on the strength of bonds between humans and Pokemon. The statue stores this strength, but it is useless if it does not come from the human directly."
"Why is that?"
"Pokemon are innately pure at heart when born, because they are not driven by the higher instinct of power that humans have. It is because of humans that the bond is not purely perfect. That is why in order to give Ho-oh this energy; the communicants had to have pure hearts of their own. This ritual is not only a way for Ho-oh to restore himself, but it is also a trial to see if humans can keep their hearts pure. If their hearts remain pure, and uncorrupted from this instinct that craves power, then the energy will pass through them untainted and allow Ho-oh to live.
"In other words, if humans cannot remain pure…Ho-oh will die, and all the goodness in the world will die with it."
Everyone remained silent, their faces showing shock. Who knew that so much responsibility lay on their shoulders every day? It was a frightening thought.
"S-so you're saying that one pure person isn't enough to convert the energy needed to bring him back?" Brock asked.
"Yes. That is why I need all of you to help. You are Ash's closest companions, I am sure that you have remained pure of heart, if only not just because he has influenced you for so long," Morty explained.
"So…what do we do?" May asked.
"Put your hands on top of mine." Morty moved the hand that was still hovering over Ash's heart. "I need you to focus on the bonds that you hold with your Pokemon and the others that you hold close to your heart. Pikachu and I will take care of the rest."
Everyone did so, and watched as Pikachu finally got off of Ash's chest and bounded up the statue, standing on its open beak.
"Get ready, now!" Pikachu yelled in a hoarse voice. Pikachu's crystal eyes locked with the statue's gleaming golden ones, before Pikachu's eyes began to glow with the multicolored energy. The statue's eyes began to glow as well. One eye glowed golden, while the other glowed with the multicolored light. The two lights began to branch off from the eyes and followed identical paths down opposite sides of the body. Each light went down the neck before branching off down the back and etching itself in the wings. The lights then departed the wings and went down the legs of the bird, before racing down the pedestal and etched lines across its surface. The two patterns met up and touched before bouncing up and striking Morty's palm at the bottom of the stack of hands hovering over Ash's hearts. Everyone felt the influx of energy course through them and seep into the very core of their hearts. Everyone focused tightly on their strongest bonds and felt the two different energies within them become one.
Misty could feel her body shaking with the massive energy; it was so large that she could barely keep it focused. She could feel her body giving into the sheer force, but she righted herself and kept herself upright, focusing only on the bond that she had with Ash.
It was rather odd, she thought, that she viewed herself as a highly independent woman, yet she was so dependent on Ash being there just to feel right again…perhaps that was why that now, when her whole body was shaking and threatening to fall apart at the seams, demanding to rest; it was Ash who was holding her together; even now, when he was depending on her to pull him through, she was depending on him to keep her strength up. It was ironic, really, her unique bond with Ash, so different and so beautiful, and so strong…
She gave one final push and forced the converted energy out of her body, the white light surrounding her like a shimmering white glow. It covered everyone as it traveled down her arm and through her palm, gaining even more strength from everyone else's contribution, before slamming into Ash's chest with a mighty blow.
Ash's limp body convulsed with the massive surge of energy, the lines on his body glowing fiercely with the white energy. His eyes shot open and he gasped for air, his body shuddering from the sudden movement. The white light died, leaving the lines ashen gray again.
Everyone watched in happiness and amazement as he braced himself on shaky arms and pushed himself up into a sitting position and smiled up at them all.
"Thank you…" he murmured quietly, his chocolate brown eyes gleaming brightly, truly happy to see all of them safe.
"Oh, Mew…" murmured Misty, her legs shaking with tiredness and finally giving in, making her sink to the floor. Everyone else followed, their bodies finally giving in to the stress that they had refused to recognize throughout the whole ordeal. Pikachu bounded down the statue and situated himself in Ash's lap, tired, but still grinning cheekily.
"So, Morty, what happened? Why were you all wet when you came here, eh?" Pikachu asked, grinning slyly at Morty. Morty's cheeks turned slightly pink.
"I was taking a bath when the bells rang," muttered Morty reluctantly, not facing anybody. Pikachu snickered, along with a few of the others.
"The bells always seem to catch you at the wrong time, huh? Remember last time you needed charging up, Ash? Morty was over in his bed getting charged up with-"
"SHUT UP, PIKACHU!" Morty yelled, cutting Pikachu off. His face was now a bright tomato red. Pikachu rolled around laughing, and the others all joined in. The laughter made them feel relieved, like everything would finally go back to normal.
Ash laughed along with them as well, it had been ages since he had last laughed. Eventually, his laughter faded away, and he looked out at everyone else, who were still doubled up in laughter. He smiled.
It's too bad…that this will be the last time I will ever laugh with them…
He closed his eyes, and a single silent tear fell down his cheek.
Thank you, Pikachu. You knew that I needed to see that everyone will be happy…
His body slumped forward, his vision began to dim.
"Ho-oh…it's safe for you to leave my body…"
"Child, are you sure? You know what will happen when I leave…and you have just been reunited…I could ensure that you could live on for many years more…"
"I'm sure. It's not safe for yourself, or for anyone else, to remain in my body. It's best for everyone…"
"Everyone except you.'
"Yeah, I know. But I agreed to this from the start, I knew it would end like this. It's okay."
"…You are a truly selfless child. It's a pity that things have to end for you like this."
"Everyone is safe. That's all I need to know for me to die in peace…"
"As you wish…"
Misty had stopped laughing and looked at Ash, concerned with the way he had stopped laughing and had now slumped forward.
"Ash?" No response. Everyone else had stopped laughing at the sound of her voice and had turned to Ash. Misty stood up and walked forward to him, still sitting in the same position on the pedestal, his legs dangling over the side, his back now hunched, and his body slouching forward.
"Ash?" Her voice was more panicky now, why was Ash not responding? She was right in front of him now, but could not see his eyes, his head was bent too far forward. She looked down at the rodent in his lap. "Pikachu, what's-"
She stopped. Pikachu was no longer rolling around in laugher, instead, he was laying silently on Ash's lap, multicolored lines now etched across his golden skin. She looked at Ash's arms and saw that the lines were glowing gold again.
"Ash? Ash! What's going-"
She was cut off as Ash fell forward. His head landed on her shoulder as his body fell, and she instinctively grabbed his body to keep him from falling.
"Ash! This is not funny, get off and tell me what's going on!" Still no answer, instead, she only heard ragged breathing.
"W-what's happening to him? And to Pikachu?" May stuttered, frightened of what was happening.
Her question was answered when wisps of energy began to leak out of the patterns engraved on Ash's and Pikachu's skin. The golden and multicolored energy began to gather together in a sort of wispy cloud. As more and more energy leaked out of their bodies, the cloud became more and more solid. When all the energy had escaped their bodies, the lines became ashen gray once more. Pikachu's eyes opened, his eyes now a dull brown.
"Pikachu! What's happening?" Misty demanded, still clutching Ash's body as she sank to the floor, unable to stand under his weight.
Pikachu laughed, but it was not his usual cheeky laugh, it had no energy behind it and sounded haunting, empty.
"Ash has decided to release Ho-oh from his body," he murmured softly, the ashen gray lines now expanding and covering his body. "Looks like this is the end, huh?" Another empty laugh echoed from his mouth.
"What the-then why…"
"He'll have to explain. I don't have any time left…" Pikachu's eyes closed again.
"Explain WHAT? Don't leave-PIKACHU! PIKACHU!" Misty screamed in frustration, desperate to get answers.
Pikachu said nothing; instead he only smirked weakly as the gray completely covered his body. Everyone stared, shocked, as the body disintegrated into nothing but ash, which was then blown away.
"W-what happened?" Max asked, his body shaking.
"It's exactly as Pikachu said…I've released Ho-oh…" Ash's weak voice struck through the silence like a thunderbolt. Misty moved Ash's body so that his head was now in her lap, and looked down at his face. His eyes were halfway open, and his skin was deathly pale.
"It's safest for everyone if Ho-oh is not in a weak human body, and since the danger has passed, there is no reason for him to hide…"
"But what about you? What's happening?"
"Misty…don't you remember what I told you back at the lab?"
"Wha-?" And then it struck her…
"My body was unable to handle the power of Ho-oh's spirit when it first entered it, all of its systems were overloaded, because it was too much to handle. The only reason I am still able to walk and talk is because Ho-oh sends its power through my corpse and constantly regenerates it. In reality, I'm just…one of the living dead. Once Ho-oh leaves, I will no longer be able to 'live' the way I am now."
Misty repeated Ash's words from her memory, and when she was done, the meaning behind them hit her full force.
"No…no…that's not…it can't…no…" Everyone watched and deduced the meaning of Ash's words, and slipped into a similar feeling of despair.
"You can't leave!"
"You just got back!"
"Why now? Everything's finally back to normal!"
"Don't leave us!"
"I'm sorry…" murmured Ash, his soft voice silencing them. "But that's how it is…that's why I didn't want anyone to know…I knew you'd all be upset…"
The ashen gray lines were starting to expand…
"Why, Ash? Why?" Misty was crying now, her tears striking his face.
"Because…you'll be safe…"
"Ash…you're so stupid…" Ash chuckled weakly at that, before narrowing his eyes at her, becoming serious.
"Misty…before I go…"
Misty wiped her face with one hand and locked her aquamarine eyes with his chocolate brown ones.
"On the night I vanished…I asked you to keep a promise…"
Misty's eyes widened, and her hands gripped his head tighter.
"I asked that you wouldn't lose yourself…" Ash began coughing violently, and with each one Misty winced, she realized how much it was hurting for him to stay alive at this point. She noticed with dreading eyes that his hands were completely gray and that the fingers were starting to disintegrate.
"And…you haven't kept it…" Ash's eyes seemed to dim at this point. "I wondered why you never seemed to hear me all those years…"
Misty began to shake, she remembered the voice that was always whispering to her when the wind blew, but she thought that that was him…
"You never got the whole message…" The whole message? What was he talking about?
"And that's why…I realized…you never kept that promise I asked of you…if you had…"
Ash's eyes closed, his breathing became more labored and ragged.
Misty looked at his troubled face and laid a hand on his cheek, watching as he took more deep breaths.
"…Misty…will you keep the promise…this time?"
"Of…of course…how could I not? It means so much to you…"
"Thank you…" The gray lines were now covering his face, spreading…
"But…what was it? What were you telling me?!"
"…If you keep your promise this time…then…you will…hear…"
Ash said no more, his body was now completely gray, and it was crumbling…
"Ash! Please! Don't…" She could feel the ash slipping through her fingers even as she tried to grasp it, hold on to it…but her efforts were in vain as the wind whisked it all away.
"No…no!" Misty clenched her fists against the ground, tears running down her face. It didn't matter anymore, she didn't care if anyone saw her weak like this, she just didn't care because…
He was gone.
"Child…I am sorry that it had to end like this…"
Everyone started at the voice, it was unfamiliar to them. The voice was melodic and soothing, and they could feel their sadness ebbing away a little, if not reluctantly.
They turned towards the mass of light, which had been ignored in favor of the dying Ash and Pikachu, and watched as it became solid.
"Ho-oh…" murmured Morty, surprised that it would appear before them.
The crimson and gold bird watched them all react, before listening to what they had to say.
"Why…what would you be sorry for?" whimpered Misty, her grief clouding her judgment.
Ho-oh narrowed its eyes at her. Ash told me she was strong, yet she is letting her grief cloud her senses…she will never keep her promise to him at this rate. She needs to be set back on her feet…
"If you were sorry…you'd bring him back, wouldn't you?"
"You revived those three Pokemon that were burnt in your tower, so that means you do have the power to bring back people to life! Show me that you are truly sorry, and bring him back!"
"I would if I could, child."
"What do you mean by that?" Misty demanded crossly, still upset.
"I can't bring everyone back to life. If I could, all the pure people would have been brought back to life and the corrupted ones could rot in hell for all I care. As it is…I can only bring back those who died before their time, like those Pokemon I revived back in the burning tower. Ash, on the other hand, was ready to die, and welcomed death with open arms…"
"W-why? Why are things like that?" Misty whimpered, her grief fading away slightly, allowing her to calm down.
"To keep the balance. Everyone must die when their time comes, whether they are heaven incarnate or the worst sinner on the face of the earth. It is unavoidable. If I had been allowed to bring whoever I wanted back to life, the state of things would have been unbalanced. Light must perfectly balance with dark, good must perfectly balance with evil. It is the way the world has been, and the way the world will always be."
"But why does evil exist? Why can't it…just disappear?"
"Let me ask you a question, child. How can there be light if there is no shadow to illuminate? How can there be shadow if there is no light to cast it?"
Misty puzzled over the question, and realized…
"Light and shadow are forever intertwined. If there is no light, there is no shadow. Likewise, if there is no evil, then there would be no good to oppose it."
"I…I understand…but that doesn't stop it from hurting…"
"I understand. There is nothing that can completely fill in the emptiness in your heart…but over time, it will hurt less. You just have to keep your promise and hold your head up high. If you do that, then I can assure you that Ash can rest in peace. Will you do that, child?"
Misty looked up at Ho-oh, who was looking back at her with a concerned look on his face.
"Yeah…I can do that."
--5 years later--
Misty sat on her bed, her eyes roving around the room before coming to rest on the open window. It was a little quirk she had gotten over the years, always leaving her bedroom window open no matter what the weather. Her friends had often asked her why she never closed it, even during the coldest freezes or the most vicious storms. She would just smile and say that she loved to feel the breeze on her skin.
To say that she loved it was an understatement. She practically lived for those moments when the wind would caress her face and whisper into her ear…
Standing up, she could feel a presence by the window and smiled as she walked up to it. She closed her eyes as she felt warmth surrounding her body, and she let herself melt into it. She felt a pressure against her lips, and suddenly, they felt moist and warm for the longest moment, before the pressure lifted. The pressure was now on her cheek, it felt like someone was leaning there. She felt the wind tickling her ear, it was whispering the message again…
"I love you, Mist…"
She smiled and leaned against the slight pressure, and for the briefest moment, the wind felt solid. She knew…he would always be there…always.
"I love you too, Ash."
(A/N): So...that's it! The end of the story that you were all awaiting! A couple of questions before I bid adieu...
How did you react to the ending? Sad? Upset? Angry? (Do I have to hide from an angry mob? XD)
What was your favorite part in this chapter? The whole story?
What was your favorite character?
Any improvements or suggestions from anybody?
Now...I'm planning to go into some other fandoms...here's a list of stories I'm going to attempt.
Writing for sure:
From New Moon to Full Bloom
The Boy in the White Kimono
Wavering on Writing:
The Art of the Jinchuriki Trilogy
Currently Untitled- A Pokemon Naruto Crossover
See summaries for them on my profile page! Leave an opinion for what you think I should write next! Ja ne 'till then!