Well this is the last chapter and the moment that many of you have been waiting for. This also ends my longest story so far; double that of any of my others. Not bad considering in my mental outline this was only supposed to be around 6 chapters; got a few more scenes in there than I expected. And I know that Ash might sound a bit OOC in this chapter but there is a good reason. But as usual that's enough of my ranting, enjoy.
The night sky was especially beautiful that night. Not a cloud in the sky and every shimmering diamond of light was visible for miles. Accompanying them was the fullest moon that I had ever seen, lighting up the forest below us.
I was sitting on the crest of a large hill that I found not too far from our campsite, Eevee snoozing softly in my lap. After the battle our little group continued on with the journey to Pallet, only coming to rest once the sun began to set.
In celebration for Ash's victory in not only that battle but also to make up for the one I missed from the Sinnoh League I made them my stew once again. This time I made sure to use some of my best dry herbs that I found on my way though Johto to make it different from the one that they had yesterday. And as before Ash was the one who ate most of it, but this time he was giving compliments about it in between almost every spoonful. Even Dawn agreed that this one was almost as good as Brock's.
So as I sat there with a full stomach, my loyal partner in my lap, and great friends just moments away the moment couldn't be any better. Well almost.
A large shiver sped up my spine as a chilly breeze swept past me. Clutching my arms together I was just about to head back to the warmth of the fire, but before I even got up I could feel something be put on my shoulders.
"You know you really should be wearing something more if you're just going to be sitting out here."
Smiling I knew exactly who that voice belonged to. "I know Ash, it's just that I couldn't resist being out here with everything looking like this."
Looking behind me it was exactly who I assumed, and with his eternal partner still sitting on his shoulder. Smiling back he joined me by sitting down to my left. My face started to feel a little flushed at the sight of him smiling like that again, looking away I tried to find something else to put my mind on.
Finally glancing at what he put on me I could see that he had taken off his jacket and draped it onto my shoulders. It already felt surprisingly warm even though it was only on me for a moment. By now forgetting about my reaction to his smile I just cuddled into it, enjoying the warmth that it gave.
"So why did you come out here?" I finally asked him, watching Pikachu jump off of him and walk up to me before climbing into my lap and curling up next to Eevee. I would probably say she was pleasantly surprised by that wake up call as she quickly relaxed back into my lap with him.
"You were gone for a while and I was just wondering where you went off to." He answered. "So while Dawn was cleaning up the pots I came out here to find you."
"Oh. Um Ash, would you mind if I asked you a question?" I asked almost out of the blue.
"Sure, ask away."
"In your battle today Pikachu was using incredible moves that I couldn't even believe that I was seeing. And even though I probably know how you're going to answer this I still have to ask, how was Pikachu able to move that fast?"
"The answer is a lot simpler than most people think, he can't. Or at least not at the speeds that you are thinking of."
I almost didn't think that I heard him correctly; first of all he actually answered a question about his "secret" technique without brushing it off. And next was simply what his actual response was to my question. "Wait, what do you mean that he can't? I saw with my own eyes that he was doing things that would even make a Ninjask jealous."
"But there are times when you can't trust your eyes."
"You're still dancing around the answer." I groaned.
"It's an optical illusion." He finally said.
"Yep, as Dawn probably already told you there was a trainer in Sinnoh who beat me very badly. I was barely even able to beat one of his Pokémon with all six of mine. After that loss I took everything that he did to heart and started to train my own Pokémon in a fashion that I thought he had used. While I was thinking about how he fought I found out that even if you practice your attacks and combos to perfection there is still no guarantee that you will win, you can only increase your chances. But there are other ways of battling; it's easier to actually go against the trainer's mind more so than the Pokémon. Most trainers only trust what their eyes are telling them and what they have learned through experience; it takes time for them to understand something they have never seen before. If it's what they see in front of them and it fits into something that they have previously learned than it almost has to be true. During a Pokémon battle all attacks are focused on the other Pokémon and not the trainer; so the trainer wouldn't have to worry about psychic illusions or any attacks, they just have to focus on the here and now of the battle. Because of this little fact I can use this technique to confuse them into believing something else and use that to win."
I couldn't believe it, Ash actually had put together something as complex as this, figuring out all of those different aspects by himself. He must have been completely thrashed by that trainer to cause this much of a change.
"So what do you actually do then?" I asked unconsciously, still awed at the fact that the impatient trainer that I used to know became someone like this.
"First Pikachu and I trained so that he could use both Quick Attack and Agility effortlessly; all the way to the point where he can use them for normal movement in a battle, Quick Attack for anything in a straight line and Agility for everything else. But even if that greatly increased his speed, it still isn't fast enough to do what you think you saw. So for months we trained on mastering Double Team as well, the real secret behind the technique. It's the modification of Double Team that creates the blurring effects and the duplicate Pikachu that everyone sees. In doing this it makes it appear that Pikachu is going even faster than he actually is. It's just that the attack is used in a way that the other trainer isn't expecting so the thought never really crosses their mind that its nothing more than an illusion and is no harder to beat than a regular Double Team. They just get it in their heads that any single attack is just too slow to hit him and in doing so they not only slow themselves down but could neglect a winning move when it counts."
"You really came up with all of that?" I blurted out. After a small self-conscious nod from him I couldn't help but continue. "Wow, I can definitely see how it would work. Or at least what I understood from what you said. But why did you tell me after I asked you after the first time when you didn't even tell Dawn or Brock?"
"I'm not really sure," he said as his eyes moved off of me. "I just feel that I can tell you the truth behind it, or almost that I should tell you. All I know is that I can't lie to you, and I feel that not really telling you the whole truth just isn't fair. It's hard to explain."
Not really completely understanding his logic I finally took notice of where his eyes were. As I saw where his gaze was I knew what was probably occupying his mind for most of the day, more so than a simple battle.
"You're most likely wondering about that little wager we had earlier, the one with who Pikachu likes the most. Am I right?"
Quickly looking back at me he seemed to be caught in somewhat of a trance. "What? Oh, well that is one thing on my mind. I'm still having a hard time believing that he likes you more than me."
"You want to know the answer?" I asked him while looking down at the two on my lap.
"It's actually a lot simpler than you think; in fact I'd be willing to bet that you were looking at everything in the wrong way."
Giving me an odd look he just asked one question. "What do you mean by that? There's only one way to look at it, he jumped off of my shoulder and went over to yours." I couldn't help but find the situation a little funny. "What?"
"Sorry," I said while stopping my spur of the moment giggling. "I just find it ironic that after figuring out that complex strategy of illusions and diversions that you can't see something like this in day-to-day life. What you said is true in a general sense but you're just focused on one fact. Your problem is that it's the wrong fact. But to help you answer that question I will just say one thing, neither of us won that bet." After receiving only a blank stare from him I decided that it was time to tell him. "The reason that you thought that I won was because the one who truly won was with me. He didn't choose me, he chose her."
"Her?" It took him a second to finally figure it out. "Wait a minute you mean that he chose Eevee?"
Smiling that even through his denseness he was able to figure out the truth, I nodded in response. "Yep, he chose her over the both of us."
"You might not have noticed it but these two have become really close over the last few days. Although something tells me that there was more to it than just what happened during the last few days but unless I'm mistaken I believe that these two have fallen head over heals in love."
"Love?" He seemed to gulp a little as I said the word, and was starting to look a little nervous.
"That's right Ash, love. As his trainer you couldn't have not noticed the fact that ever since that first night when Pikachu slept with us these two have been nearly inseparable."
"I really didn't think of it in that way. The only thing that came to mind was the fact that he was spending more and more time with you."
"So that's the only conclusion that you could come to then? What, have I been on your mind a bit too much for you to only think of that?" I teased, watching him turn bright red and looking away slightly mumbling to himself a bit.
Laughing a little I tired to at least keep him from feeling too bad. "Don't worry it as just a joke Ash. You really overreact to things like this, but then again that's what makes you you. And I wouldn't have it any other way."
Seeing that he continued to mumble slightly I just smiled and lay down on my back, keeping my two passengers in one place. But as I started to relax a bit I could feel my arm hit something hard in the pocket of his jacket. Images of this morning came flashing back into my head of him slipping something shiny into his pocket before we left the Pokémon Center. Knowing that I really shouldn't peer into his things like that curiosity got the best of me.
Sitting up and looking over at Ash who seemed to be still lost in thought as he stared up into the night's sky I carefully reached into his right pocket and took out the object.
Holding it up into the moonlight the item's polished center reflected back a glorious golden finish. Or at least this portion of the item did, either way I recognized it immediately.
"This is the ribbon that we won." I told myself as I grabbed for my own half with my other hand. "To think that he keeps it on him like this and not just in his backpack, it actually feels kinda nice to know that he wants to keep this close to him at all times."
"May I think that I have something to tell you." Ash finally spoke up, his voice a little shaky.
Quickly pulling my arms back into the jacket I looked back up at him. "What is it Ash?"
"I'm not really completely sure how to say this but I…" As he was about to say something he just trailed off, the red of his face only growing deeper.
"You don't have to be nervous around me Ash." I said simply. "We're best friends, you can tell me anything that's on your mind and I won't judge you one bit."
"Are you sure?"
"Why would I lie to you?" I asked, almost feeling insulted that he would doubt something like that.
"Sorry it's just that, well I um… I know that we have been friends for a long time and I'm really glad that I've known a person like you. You've been my best friend ever since we first met all the way back in Hoenn."
"Where the heck is he going with this?" I wondered as he continued his seemly ranting speech.
"And I just wasn't feeling the same while I was in Sinnoh. I realized that I was missing my best friend after spending over a year-and-a-half with her, and after coming here it was great to finally meet up with you again. These last few days have been some of the best that I've had in a long time. And I knew that I liked you as a friend, but it was just now that I realized something else." He took a deep breath before looking right into my eyes. "May, I think that I'm falling in love with you."
Out of everything that he could have said, those words were the last ones that I would have ever expected to come out of his lips. I was completely speechless, heck even if I knew what to say I doubt that I could say them. This was nothing compared to the kiss that Drew gave me. As soon as those words came out I could feel my face start to grow a deep red as my stomach started to do summersaults. But at the same time I also found a hundred and one questions flooding into my mind.
"He thinks he's falling in love with me? How? Why? Oh man he's wanting an answer, how should I respond? Do I feel the same way? How the heck should I know what love feels like!"
As I continued my internal battle of questions without answers I turned to look at him. He wasn't wearing the normal smile that he always had, but he had on a softer look, one that seemed to say that he really did mean what he was saying. As I looked deep into his eyes I felt the questions starting to disappear, not that they were being answered but just that one by one they just didn't matter to me anymore. And after a while they were almost all gone until there was only one remaining, "Do I feel the same way?"
Once again I could feel my heart start to race as I delved into what that question really meant. Eventually it just got to the point where even that question started to seem irrelevant. I'm not sure if it was actually love that I was feeling but everything started to fit into place. There was no doubt that he was probably the best friend that I currently had, or even ever had for that matter. And as of late I did feel a bit odd while just being around him, or even my odd reactions to nothing but his smile.
But as I looked down at the two Pokémon lightly dozing in my lap I remembered what I had said to myself the night before. "Love will find its way into a person's heart even without them realizing it if you let everything take its course."
"If those two found it like that what does it say about me and Ash?"
Closing my hands slightly I felt an item that I nearly forgot about, Ash's half of our ribbon. Thinking about how much my own half meant to me during my journey I smiled as I actually started to relax. I suddenly knew exactly how I felt; there was no reason for why I did, I just did. And no one would be able to convince me otherwise. I also knew that at that moment there was only one way I that I could fully express it.
"Ash." I finally said after the long silence. As soon as I said his name I could hear him inhale sharply, probably waiting for my answer to something that took him so long to finally get off his chest. "Before I answer that there is something that I want to give you, but before I give it to you I want you to close your eyes."
He seemed a little hesitant at my suggestion, but soon nodded and closed his eyes. Motioning for Pikachu and Eevee to move off of me for a bit, I reached to the back of my neck and undid the clasp that held my own good luck charm. Taking one last look at it in the moon's light I wrapped the chain around the ribbon. Taking his hand in mine and opening it I slipped my most precious possession into his grasp.
"Okay you can open your eyes now." I told him as I held tightly onto his ribbon.
Looking at what he held I saw a very confused expression cross his face. "But May this is my…no wait this isn't my half. May, what does this mean?"
Lifting my hand up to stop him I spoke. "Ash, before you get any wrong ideas I have a few things to say. First of all in exchange for giving you that I only ask for one thing in return, this." I say as I held up his half of the ribbon
"But why would you want…"
Once again I signaled him to stop. "What you hold in your hand is my good luck charm, my most precious possession. It was the one thing that kept me connected to you and the memories of the great times that we had together. In essence it was the two halves of this ribbon that kept our hearts connected in friendship, my heart to yours. By giving you my half I'm not only offering you our friendship but my own heart which contains everything that I feel for you."
"And in you taking my half…"
"In taking your half not only am I asking for the same thing from you, but we can make sure to keep the connection that we had from the beginning. The only difference is that in addition to keeping our friendship that has grown to this point we will be holding what the other feels for us as well."
"Does that mean?" He perked up, the smile finally returning to his face.
I nodded, while doing so I couldn't help but let a smile come to my face as it started to heat up. But at this point I didn't even bother trying to hide it. "I've been told that a single action can say more than a thousand words ever could. And I felt that this is the only way that I could truly express those to you."
The smile on his face grew larger than I've ever seen it before. Moving right up next to him I could feel him hesitantly pull me in closer with one of his arms. Not resisting even the slightest I scooted even closer. Though looking up at him I once again found myself staring up into his deep auburn eyes, but as before my gaze started to fall down his face to the same thing that I was wondering about earlier.
I could feel myself slowly inching closer to his face as he did mine, but with a part of my curiosity taking over I quickly closed the distance between us, pressing my lips against his own. The feeling that resulted was more than what pure bliss could have felt like. His lips were soft and inviting as he started to give into the action as well. This was infinitely different from the feelings that I felt from Drew's kiss. It was hard to describe how I felt at that moment, no one word in any language could even start to describe the joy and comfort that I was feeling at that point.
After what seemed like hours I finally pulled away to get some air. As I looked at Ash's face I could still see a bit of shock on his face along with the now ever-present blush. Smiling I just laid my head on his shoulder still looking out into the night. He may have been nervous with everything right now but after what just happened I would be hard pressed not to try it again.
There was something else that caught my eye as well. During that little moment with Ash I forgot that we weren't completely alone. Pikachu and Eevee were staring right at us, Pikachu with the same look of shock that Ash had while Eevee looked rather satisfied with herself.
"Come on you two, you're not alone in this anymore." I said to them as they bounded over and stood on my lap.
"May?" Ash finally asked after recovering from what I can only assume was his first kiss.
"Have you figured out what you plan to do after we get to Pallet yet?"
"I haven't been thinking about it much, but now that these two are together we can't just very well separate them." I joked looking down at the only other ones with us.
"So than how about we both go to Hoenn?"
"And compete in the Hoenn League and Grand Festival again?" I paused slightly, even though I knew what my answer was. "I think that's acceptable." I finished with a small peck on his cheek before lying back down on the ground. Smiling I saw him lay down right next to me, but I could still see Pikachu and Eevee standing on my legs looking back at us.
"You know after all this time I thought that Pikachu knew more about love than you did Ash; I even continued to tease you despite the fact that in the end you apparently had a better grasp on it than I had. So I guess it looks as if the Pokémon really do take after their trainers."
Nodding Eevee brushed up next to Pikachu before giving him a lick on the cheek. In no time Pikachu was once again sporting that same odd smile that he had on last night. And just like before his eyes rolled into the back of his head as he fell forward onto my stomach, out cold. The smile never fading from his face.
"Then again it's a good thing that it's not the other way around." I giggled as Eevee walked up to him and snuggled into his body as if nothing had happened.
"For finally making me realize everything."
As I said this I pulled his arm around me, completely forgetting about the jacket. I always felt at ease while we were traveling together and at this point I felt as though nothing else in the world even mattered. Ribbons, contests, rivals; they all seemed so insignificant and unimportant.
I just lay there just enjoying the warmth that the one and only Ash could provide; forgetting about everything but the one who I could still see even as I closed my eyes and fell asleep in his arms.
And there's the end. To finish this off I'd like to thank Nina Lumos; while she wasn't directly involved in the story it was while reading/reviewing one of her fics that I came up with the idea for the ribbon switch. And I think that that scene pretty much defined this confession.
But other than that I hope you all enjoyed the story. Thanks for reading.