Title: Nightmare

Author: Stormy1x2

Word Count: 1248

Pairings: None

Spoilers: Small portion from the beginning of movie 10: "The Rise of Darkrai"

Summary: A missing scene – a coda, if you will, for what we didn't see after Ash was struck by Darkrai's attack.

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Likkilikki moved to the side, and the glowing purple orb struck Ash before anyone had a chance to react. Ash screamed in shock, Pikachu's cries echoing those of its trainer. The outer light of the orb brightened in its intensity, the dark shadows within swallowing Ash up completely. Then the shadows vanished, the power dissipating in a quick rush of air exploding outward. Ash was still standing there, seemingly frozen. Brock stared at his friend, stunned. "Ash?"

Ash's eyes rolled up in the back of his head, a whimper escaping him just before his knees buckled.

Brock lunged forward and caught the younger boy before he hit the ground, propping him up with an arm at the trainers back. Ash's face was strained in unconsciousness, beads of sweat forming on his brow, incoherently muttering in a low, agonized tone.

"Brock! Is he all right?" Dawn knelt down next to him, her eyes wide with shock. "What was that?"

"Pika!" Pikachu nuzzled Ash's face, patting his cheek with one tiny paw. "Pikapi?" His cheeks suddenly sparked.

Brock knew what that meant, and leaned over, gently but swiftly picking up Pikachu. "Just a second Pikachu," he told him. He didn't know if shocking Ash would help or harm at this point.

Alice and Tonio joined them. "Is he all right?" The balloon operator had one hand out, like she wanted to offer comfort of some kind, but was a bit wary to do so.

"He's down for the count," Brock said grimly, laying the back of his free hand against Ash's forehead. It was getting warmer – the shock from the attack and whatever was going on inside his head, working against his body's defenses. "We need a doctor."

"The Pokemon center is close by," Tonio said. "This is a result of Dark Rai's attack, and Nurse Joy will know how to counter it. We can bring him there."

"Good idea." Brock handed off Pikachu to Dawn, who backed up, cuddling the electric mouse to her chest. They recalled their other pokemon to their pokeballs. "I'll carry Ash."

"Be careful with him," Dawn said worriedly. "He doesn't look so good." Ash's muttering was getting louder, his fingers twitching spasmodically.

Tonio gave his singed laptop to Alice to hold and then moved over, helping to sit Ash up before lifting him on to Brock's back. "Got him?"

"Yeah." Brock stood up carefully, adjusting his hold until Ash was secure against him.

"Turtwig..." Ash whimpered with a gasp. He shuddered, and Brock tightened his grip, wishing there was something he could do.

"Let's go," he said tersely, and Alice led the way, leaving the Baron and his confused Likkilikki behind.

The Pokemon Center wasn't that far away, but every step felt like it took a year to accomplish. Brock has seen Ash through some pretty tough times over the years, but this was ranking up there among one of the worst, and something he knew he didn't ever want to see again. Something was torturing his friend in his mind, endlessly tormenting him, and Brock didn't know what to do. If they didn't manage to snap Ash out of it soon, who knew what kind of mental damage could happen?

"Over there!" Alice shouted, and Brock raised his eyes to see the familiar 'P' logo. She dashed inside the building ahead of them. By the time Brock managed to carry Ash up the stairs and into the Center, Nurse Joy's Chancy was already waddling off at a brisk pace to set up an exam room.

Nurse Joy herself immediately came over and began checking out Ash while he was still on Brock's back. Brock felt just a hint of his old enthusiasm flicker at the sight of the familiar nurse, but his concern for Ash's safety overrode his hormones, and he held his tongue. Distractions were something they didn't need at the moment. Alice and Tonio were at her side, explaining what had happened.

Dawn was still holding Pikachu on his other side, watching worriedly. Brock tried to give her a reassuring smile as Chancy came back in with a stretcher. Tonio helped him unload Ash, and then Nurse Joy was shouting orders and wheeling him away at a breakneck pace.

"Is Ash going to be all right?" Dawn asked quietly, after a minute.

Brock looked at the younger girl, and pulled up all his considerable comforting experience as the oldest sibling in his family. He smiled at her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders, giving her a gentle squeeze. "I'm sure he will."

In Dawn's arms, Pikachu began to twist and thrash.

"Pikachu?" Dawn blinked as Pikachu squirmed out of her grasp with a high-pitched cry of 'Pikapi!' Hitting the ground at a run, Pikachu sprinted off in the direction Chancy and Joy had taken Ash.

"Pikachu!" Exchanging a quick look, Dawn and Brock immediately went after him. Brock could hear Tonio and Alice following behind, but ignored them in favor of following Pikachu who suddenly darted into a side room.

Nurse Joy straightened up as they followed the mouse pokemon into the room. "I was just going to send Chancy to get you."

"Is Ash okay?" Dawn asked, still looking for an answer to her question.

"He'll be fine, as long as we can get him to wake up," Nurse Joy told her. "The sooner the better."

"Pikachu..." Ash whimpered. He began to thrash on the bed, reaching his arms out. "Pikachu..."

Pikachu was on the bed faster than anyone could blink. He hopped onto Ash's chest, pushing his face into Ash's neck, nuzzling and making little chirping noises.

Dawn blinked. "I've never heard Pikachu sound like that before. What's he doing?"

"Pikachu's trying to comfort Ash," he said. He nodded back at the display before them. "See?"

Indeed, Pikachu's efforts seemed to be working. Ash's thrashing was slowing down, and his arms came down around the small pokemon, holding it close before turning onto his side. Pikachu 'chaaaa'd' in contentment, stretching its tiny arms as far out as it could to hug Ash back, giving off a few more reassuring squeaks.

Then Ash's muttering started getting louder again. He began twisting under the sheet Chancy had covered him with. Even though Pikachu was safely in his arms, his mind was held captive elsewhere, and Brock's fists tightened in mute, sympathetic agony as Ash's cries for Pikachu got stronger. "Can't we do something?" he asked, frustrated. "This is torture!"

"Pika." Pikachu's worried eyes suddenly turned determined, and his cheeks began to spark again. Dawn moved forward this time, but Brock suddenly stopped her.

"Let Pikachu try."

"You want Pikachu to electrocute your friend?" Nurse Joy asked, shocked.

Brock gave her a grim smile. "Ash's used to it. And it might wake him up. I say let Pikachu do it."

"But--"

Ash suddenly screamed in terror, a hair-raising sound that chilled the blood of everyone in the room. Brock turned to Pikachu, who was still waiting, one ear raised.

"Pikachu, thunderbolt!"

Pikachu growled its name and fired. Brock raised an arm to shield his eyes from the yellow-white light, but he could tell from experience that the shock was anywhere close to matching its true power level. Electricity surged through the room and he could hear Dawn muffle a squeak as the static threatened to puff her hair out.

Suddenly the electricity cut out, and everyone watched with bated breath as Ash's eyes snapped open, focusing instantly on the pokemon in his arms. "Pikachu..." His voice was shocked, uncertain.

Pikachu squealed ecstatically. "Pikapi!"

Brock smiled in relief as Ash crushed Pikachu to his chest, crying out 'You're okay!' Everything was going to be just fine now.

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End

Notes: Some of you may notice that I've switched Pikachu's pronouns from 'she' to 'he' in this fic. I have always considered Pikachu to be female – the caring, nurturing side it displayed towards Togepi was one of the main reasons, the way it loved dressing up as another (I can recall two episodes where it happily wore a skirt).

But in the last few days, I finished downloading all the new Diamond and Pearl episodes I could (from 1 to 51, plus the first 20 episodes of D&P Battle Dimension) and I saw firsthand the little sub arc with Buneary having a crush on Pikachu. Dawn dresses her female pokemon in skirts and refers to them as her 'girls' in one particular episode. As a contrast, Pikachu wears more masculine clothing (the little green kimono with the pants). I'm not against yaoi or yuri in any way (I'm a PALLETSHIPPER, come now), but this changed how I saw Pikachu's gender. I'll be changing the pronouns in 'Rich and Intrepid Souls' shortly. And I adore the possibilities this opens up, with Pikachu and Buneary – a wretchedly adorable couple. :D

Feedback always loved. :D