Okay, so despite every part of me that's TOTALLY against writing this, I liked the idea too much. So, for the first (and hopefully last time), I, sykilik101, am actually going to write…an Egoshipping fic. Well…yeah, basically Egoshipping, with one-sided Pokéshipping.

Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon. If I did, there'd be a Mudkip in every episode, and you'd see barrel rolls in every episode as well.

Dedication: I can't really say this is dedicated to anyone.


Sacrifice


"Hey, Ash…can I ask you for a favor?"

A gentle breeze blew through both of their locks of hair as the warm sun shone down on the two boys, the small blades of grass tickling their skin. The raven-haired boy, who was lying down with his hands as pillows, turned to look at his brunette best friend, who was lying in the same manner as him. He could see a look of apprehension in his eyes, something that confused him.

"Gary's never usually this nervous." Ash thought to himself, suddenly feeling insecure himself. Gary was never one to show any sign of anxiety or fear, regardless of the situation. He tended to remain calm and collected, so to see him fidgeting slightly was a cause for worry for Ash. "Sure. What is it?"

"Well…first off, I gotta tell you something, and you can't say this to anyone else!" A hint of uneasy anger was in Gary's voice. Okay, forget mildly worried; Ash was officially freaked out by his best friend's behavior.

Ash simply smiled, flashing him a thumbs up and a grin. "No worries, pal. I won't say anything."

At this, Gary seemed to relax, as he closed his eyes gently. "Well, the thing is…" A faint blush brightened up his cheeks. "I…like Misty."

Ash's expression clouded over. Gary turned to face him, but he'd already lowered his face, his hair blocking the brunette's view of him. However, he refused to appear sad, so he lifted up his head and tried to appear surprised. "You do?"

"Yeah." Gary smiled, and his blush increased. "I was wondering if maybe…you could help me ask her out."

If Ash was hurt before, it was nothing compared to how he felt now. The pain was almost physical as he turned to face the direction opposite Gary. It was a small moment, but Ash immediately knew what the future was, and…at this point, Misty couldn't be a part of his. At least, not romantically. With or without realizing it, Gary had effectively destroyed Ash's hope of doing what Gary was planning to do, and that was to pursue Misty's affection. How could Gary have done such a thing…? Yet, Ash didn't want to hurt his friend by denying him. So, there was nothing else to say but…

"Um…alright."

xxxxx

A few weeks had passed since Ash has unwillingly agreed to Gary's request, despite having hid his great displeasure. However, what else could he have said to his best friend? Quickly, he had come to regret his decision, even though he wouldn't change it if he could. Even so, as he lay on his bed, cradling his head in his hands, he couldn't help but feel as though his chance had been ripped from his grasp. There was absolutely no way he could tell Misty how he felt about her now. What would Gary say? He sighed, feeling his sadness begin to build up inside him once more.

In a small sense, he almost felt betrayed by Gary. Surely, he must have known how he felt about the redhead. They were as close as brothers, weren't they? So shouldn't he have been able to see how much he cared about Misty? Of course, he knew his friend wouldn't ever do such a thing intentionally, but that didn't cancel out the fact that he was no longer able to pursue Misty in a romantic way. The thought stung at his heart, as he rolled to his side. He was surprised that he was able to do so, as he didn't feel as though he had the energy to move. He just wasn't in the mood to. He wasn't used to thinking about it this much, but then again, it had gradually become increasingly painful as the days had dragged by. He had fulfilled his promise of aiding Gary's task of wooing Misty. He had left them both alone more often than usual, and when he and Misty were alone, he would talk a lot about Gary.

However, the aid he was offering came with a price, but sadly, he himself was paying for it. Seeing as he had his own feelings for the girl, yet he was helping Gary out, time spent with the two of them became more and more tense. He was returning both Gary's and Misty's calls less and less, and whenever either of them came over, he feigned being asleep. He couldn't face them. He simply wasn't strong enough. And, in some twisted way, he didn't want to. In fact, the idea of never facing either of them was becoming sickeningly more appealing.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, bringing Ash from his thoughts back to the real world. "Come in."

The door slid open, and in walked his mother. "Ash, honey, Gary and Misty are here to visit you." Her words made Ash flinch, but not enough for his mother to see. However, mother's intuition told her something was wrong. In fact, for the past few weeks, she had seen something change in her son, but hadn't pressed him on the matter, hoping it would pass. Sadly, it never did, and he'd slowly grown more moody with each passing day. "Ash, are you feeling okay? You haven't been yourself lately."

The question surprised Ash. "Yeah, mom, I'm fine." He plastered on a fake smile, hoping to conceal how much he was hurting. If his mom saw right through it, she didn't let on, though her concerned gaze never left her face.

"Are you sure? You're not getting sick, are you?" Walking over to him, she tenderly placed a palm over his forehead, checking his temperature.

"Mom, I'm okay, really." He insisted.

"Well, if you're sure…" Obviously, whatever it was that was bothering him was big enough that he didn't want to talk about it. This worried her, as Ash was normally such a rambunctious young man. She hoped that whatever the problem was, Gary and Misty would be able to help. She headed for the door, and halfway out, she stopped.

It had been a small observation, but when she'd answered the door and seen Gary and Misty, she had definitely noticed it. Suddenly, her mind clicked, and she turned to him. She knew this question would affect Ash, or at the least bring out an answer that wasn't so monotonous. "Ash…"

The boy, who had been gazing almost lifelessly at the floor, jerked his head up at the sound of his mother's voice. "Yeah, mom?"

The older woman bit her lower lip. She was almost nervous to ask, but she had to find out. "Were you aware that Gary and Misty are dating?"

Ash's reaction was more or less within the range of what Delia had imagined. His eyes widened, and were trembling horribly. One of his hands was fisted, shaking from being gripped so tightly, while the other was immobile. His face had paled, and his mouth hung open slightly. "H-how…do you know?"

Hearing Ash's stuttering voice broke Delia's heart, but she knew his must have been even more devastated. She finally knew why he was feeling so down, although she didn't know all the details. She HAD known for the longest time that Ash had a romantic interest in Misty, and the last few minutes of greeting her and Gary downstairs, as well as talking to Ash, had helped her understand the situation just a bit more. "When I answered the door for them, I saw that they were holding hands." Seeing how down Ash appeared, she wanted to comfort him, but decided to give him a few minutes alone instead. "I'll let them know you're coming down." With a frown, she exited the room, closing the door behind her.

Ash felt as if he could no longer breathe. In fact, at that moment, he felt as though he didn't want to. He'd had a feeling this moment would come, but he was still totally unprepared to actually hear it. His breathing came in quietly, but exited his lungs in short, shaky bursts, as though crying without the tears. He suddenly felt cold, as he clutched his hands to his chest. His mind was blank; it hurt too much to even think. It had finally happened. Gary had made his move. And it seemed it went successfully. He wanted to be happy for his friend, he really did. But…what about himself? What was he left with? Ash wanted to say two great friends, but when he wanted to be more than just friends with one of them, and feeling a sense of tension with the other, it certainly didn't appear that way. In his state, he had even forgotten that the pair was there. The knock at the door, as well as the voice that followed, reminded him.

"Hey, Ash, you in there?

Gary's voice ignited a strange emotion in Ash. He didn't know what to call it, but if he had to describe it, it was a mixture of agony, sadness, and frustration. At that moment, he wanted to either ask him to go away and leave him alone, or open the door and start telling him off. He couldn't do either, and he knew that. He felt locked, and he wasn't sure what to do. His frustration grew, and he opened his mouth to say something, anything, when…

"Ash, it's me and Gary."

…and then his voice died once more. He was ashamed to admit it, but he could feel his bottom lip quivering, and warmth began building up inside his eyes. No, this wasn't supposed to happen. Things weren't supposed to end this way. And yet, they did. Hearing her voice effectively sealed it for Ash, and there was no stopping the one small tear that slid down his cheeks. He hated how this had turned out, as a tiny sob escaped his lips. However, despite how horrible he felt, he still wanted the both of them to be happy, and it was that thought that pushed him to wipe his tears and calm his voice. Making them wait would surely cause them to worry, so he walked to the door, squeezing the doorknob tightly as he prepared himself. He took one last breath before turning the knob and opening the door.

Sometimes in a situation, it's the first place you look that determines the mood you'll feel in it. Let's say, for example, your parents had bought you a new car for your birthday. And let's assume your first glance of it was from the front, in which case you would probably become giddy with excitement. Now, let's switch perspectives, and imagine your first glance was from the back. It's from this angle that you can see the scratched and dented back bumper, a clear sign that it was used. It's pretty simple to decide which angle you'd prefer to see the situation from, and it's this kind of scenario that applied to Ash. Had he looked at their smiling faces first, he might have felt a little better. But his downcast gaze made him see another sight, and it made his stomach churn.

Gary's hand held firmly, but gently onto Misty's, their fingers intertwined. Ash had to grit his teeth together to prevent himself from acting in a manner that would be less than pleasant to the two in front of him. His eyes shakily moved up where they should have moved in the first place, to their faces. They were both smiling warmly at him, but upon seeing his expression, they dimmed.

"Hey, you alright, buddy? You got somethin' in your eye?" Gary placed his free hand on Ash's shoulder, and the raven-haired boy had to fight the urge to bitterly shrug it away. His greater concern, however, was realizing Gary had seen his somewhat watery eyes.

"Uh, no, I'm fine. I was just takin' a nap, and I barely woke up." To prove his point, he stretched his arms up, faking a yawn. Thankfully, the two of them bought it, as they both chuckled.

"You lazy bum, you shouldn't be asleep in the afternoon." Ash, once more, had to fight to reacting harshly. Normally, he would have responded to Misty's smart comment with a reply of his own, but the sight before him made his body throb painfully.

"Um…I was just feeling tired today." He hated lying to his friends. He truly did. But he didn't feel as though he much choice in the matter.

"Well, me and Misty were gonna hang out today. Did you want to come?" Gary invited.

Now, Ash, despite only being 15, had done plenty in his life. Things that he had enjoyed, things that had made him weep, and things that many would look upon as questionable if they heard about. But the fact that stood out in his mind at that moment was that there were PLENTY of things that he'd done that he'd come to later regret. Sometimes it was small, while other times he'd have given almost anything to undo his action. This moment was one of the latter, as his thought process compelled his body to do something that, in time, he'd regret: turning his body, he grabbed the door by the knob and, turning the lock with his fingers, slammed the door in his friends' faces.

His gut was telling him to open the door and apologize, but the feeling was quickly outweighed by his anger. Now he was only their friend they could invite? What happened to, "What are the three of us gonna do today?" Had things changed already? Ash tried taking deep breaths, but none of them were helping. He didn't realize that such an event could affect him in such a way, and yet it did, as he felt like he wanted to scream. It was Misty, however, who would do it first.

"Ash, are you crazy? What's your problem?" He could definitely sense the anger in her voice, and he was using a lot of self-control to stop himself from opening the door and yelling in both of their faces. He did lose enough control, however, to retort back to them.

"Would you guys just leave?!" He snarled loudly at the door. This was wrong. Things shouldn't have turned out like this; he shouldn't be yelling at the top of his lungs at his two friends. And yet, what was wrong with it? He was angry; he deserved every right to. His urge to cry grew stronger with each passing moment, and he wanted them to just leave and let him be alone. It wasn't fair, after all. He never asked for this to happen; he never wanted to be standing there, wanting to explode from the anger and pain.

"Ash…" At the sound of his name, the raven-haired boy didn't know what hurt worse. Was it the sound of Gary's voice, or the fact that he actually sounded concerned? After all, why would he be? He had gone and stolen the girl he'd had feelings for from him, hadn't he?

"What's going on?" At the sound of his mother's voice behind the door, Ash, strangely, found himself dropping to his knees, covering his ears with his hands. Couldn't any of them understand that he just wanted to be left alone? This was all too much for Ash to handle, and he just needed some time to be alone, to sort out the things going on in his head. "Please, mom, make them go away…" He felt like a helpless child, and he needed his mom to make the bad monster go away. He was scared, frightened, and his heart was beating painfully.

With his hands over his ears, he couldn't make out the conversation that was happening outside his bedroom door. After a few minutes that seemed to last forever, everything became quiet. Fear rooted Ash to his spot on the floor, wondering why the voices had disappeared. In fact, the whole house seemed strangely soundless, and it terrified him for reasons he couldn't identify. Eventually, he heard the front door open, then close. Drearily, he finally rose to his feet and headed for the window, mildly curious as to how his friends felt. Looking down, he could see Gary with his arm wrapped around Misty shoulders in a comforting matter, as the look on her face clearly showed she was heavily upset. They stood in the middle of the road for a moment, and suddenly, Gary's gaze shifted up to the window, and their eyes locked. Ash had high doubts that Gary had any clue as to what was upsetting him, but that didn't quell the feeling he felt; it was as though the brunette's gaze pierced right through him, making him feel vulnerable. He saw him say something to the redhead, before dashing back towards the house.

Ash's heart went cold, as his hand began shaking. Misty's eyes followed Gary as he ran towards the Ketchum household, and the only male occupant of said house was glad that Misty hadn't seen him standing by his window. He headed back to his bed, hoping with all his being that Gary wouldn't try to find out what was upsetting him so much. The sound of the front door opening, footsteps running up the stairs, and the eventual knock on his bedroom door, however, killed those hopes.

"Ash, open up!"

This time around, the boy's voice wasn't nearly as caring, instead filled with a hint of anger in itself, as well as determination. His tone caused Ash's blood to boil for the umpteenth time that day, which was nearly reaching a breaking point. Fuming, the raven-haired boy stomped to the door, almost ripping it off its hinges as he pulled it open to be greeted by Gary's irate glare.

"What the heck is your problem, slamming the door in our faces like that?" Gary asked, frustrated.

"MY problem? What's YOUR problem? How could you do something like that?" Ash snarled, his hand balling into fists.

"Do something like WHAT? I haven't done anything! YOU'RE the one who suddenly started acting all weird around us lately!" Gary retorted angrily.

The statement caught Ash by surprise, but he didn't let it show for even a second. Gary had actually noticed? But…why hadn't he said anything? The thought made him steamy. "If you thought I was acting weird, WHY didn't you say anything?"

"Because I thought you were just going through something!" Gary's voice, while still angry, was relatively calm. "Misty noticed, too, but we figured you could use some space, seeing as you didn't want to talk to us or anything!" His voice rose once more with the last statement. "Besides, how COULD I have told you? You never answered my calls, or talked to me when I came over!"

"If you thought I needed space, why did you even bother coming over?" Ash shot.

"Because I was worried!" Gary shouted. "And why are YOU asking the questions? I think I deserve some answers! Why are you suddenly so mad at me? You still haven't told me what it is that I've done wrong, and you haven't even given me a chance to explain myself for whatever it is! What kind of friend doesn't even bother to-"

At this, Ash finally snapped. He no longer cared if everyone within earshot could hear him; heck, he couldn't care less if all of Kanto heard him. His anger, frustration, and everything negative he'd been feeling for the past few weeks finally began pouring out. "WHAT KIND OF FRIEND? WHO ARE YOU TO TALK?" He roared. "OF ALL THE PEOPLE I KNOW, I'D HAVE THOUGHT YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO SEE BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE! I THOUGHT ME AND YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE CLOSE, WHERE WE COULD TELL WHAT THE OTHER WAS THINKING JUST BY LOOKING AT EACH OTHER! BUT OBVIOUSLY YOU COULDN'T SEE AFTER SO LONG HOW I FEEL ABOUT-" Ash, realizing what he was about to say, immediately shut his mouth, hoping he wouldn't say anything that would give away his feelings.

In his rage, there were a few things he hadn't realized. First, he had finally allowed his sadness to pour out of his eyes, as his cheeks had become stained with tears. Secondly, he suddenly became aware of the look on Gary's face. No longer was there any anger; rather, it was a mixture of confusion and worry. And third…this one had taken him looking behind Gary, as he could see Misty standing there. Her cerulean eyes were filled with an extremely somber look. Though she wasn't crying yet, Ash had a feeling that the huge argument he just had with his best friend would probably change that. Come to think of it, he didn't even notice when Misty had appeared there.

Feeling utterly defeated, Ash lowered his head so that he wouldn't have to look at either of them. "Look, Gary, um…I'm just not feeling all that great right now. I just need some space alone for a while. You and Misty are finally dating now, right? So just go ahead and spend time with her, why don't ya?" His voice was glum, and unlike before, he didn't slam the door. Instead, he began closing it slowly, but it was stopped by Gary's hand. Ash still didn't look up, but he knew Gary had more to say.

"Look, Ash, I don't know what's bothering you, but I don't wanna see you so upset, buddy." The boy placed a comforting hand on Ash's shoulder. "Look, me and Misty will give you space, but try to cheer up, alright?"

Ash remained quiet, instead answering with a small nod. With that, Gary removed his hand from his shoulder, and Ash suddenly shuddered. It was almost as if Gary, when removing his hand, had taken a piece of his soul along with it. Before he could close the door, he was surprised to feel a body press into him, pulling into a hug. It took him a full three seconds to comprehend that Misty was embracing him. However, he lacked the will to return the gesture, but Misty didn't mind. "Ash, please feel better soon, okay?" She knelt down slightly to meet his downcast gaze.

The boy nearly blushed at her sudden bold action, but upon remembering that things couldn't turn out the way he wanted them to, his face hardened once more. He nodded once more, achingly forcing a small smile. "Okay." He whispered.

The girl smiled warmly, then pulled him close once more. The desire to hug her back grew, but still, he held back. His heart jumped, however, when he felt something soft press against his cheek. It wasn't until Misty pulled her face away that he realized she had just kissed him. He didn't know what he wanted to do: smile in happiness at her sweet gesture, or frown in despair that it was likely out of pity. He just decided to keep a blank face, simply nodding at the girl. With that, she pulled away, and Ash, once again, felt as if a piece of him was leaving. With a heavy heart, he whispered a quiet goodbye as he closed the door.

He dragged himself back to his bed, collapsing on top of it with his arms extended weakly. He sighed; "the talk" had definitely gone differently than he had imagined, but it nonetheless left an ache in his heart. As he felt his eyes begin to water once more, he didn't fight it; at that point, he didn't care. This whole ordeal had taken a heavy toll on him, and he found himself growing sleepy.

He closed his eyes, but the dull feeling in his body refused to let him drift off into a slumber. He was torn, and at this point, it didn't appear that the damage would ever be undone. As long as they remained a couple, he would always feel pain that she wasn't his. If anything ever happened that ripped them apart, he'd feel horrible that his two friends had drifted from each other, his two friends who had loved each other. The last part made his eyes and heart sting, and he sobbed quietly.

It was painful now, but Ash knew it was only just the beginning. Not a single moment where he saw them together would pass without him feeling a bit more of himself hurt inside. He wouldn't be able to even look at them when they held hands, or embrace each other, or kissed…his stomach tightened uncomfortably, gripping his pillow rigidly. It felt like he wanted to cry, but it hurt too much. And yet, tears were still sliding down his cheeks. Nothing would be the same anymore; he doubted it ever would be. He felt hollow, like an empty shell, and nothing would ever be able to fill the void. And why did he have to go through all this pain?

Because he had fallen in love with his best friend, Misty Waterflower. He had sacrificed his chances with her in order to make her, as well as Gary, happy. He just hoped he was prepared for the consequences of a martyr.

xxxxx

Okay, you REALLY don't know how hard it was to keep Ash in character, while giving him a depressed attitude, mildly making him not think straight or logically, and a little touch of over thinking! Blah, this fic was slightly uncomfortable for me to write, since, y'know…I REALLY DON'T LIKE EGOSHIPPING! But the idea was just too perfect! Well, anyways, see you next story!