Title: Sailing His Ship

Author: Stormy1x2 (travelingstorm)

Word Count: 1640

Rating: PG-13, kissing, making out, but nothing explicit (all above the waist, it's all good – I refuse to write lemons for under-aged and inexperienced children).

Warnings: Established Gary/Ash, some Sinnoh details revealed.

Notes: In my world, Ash is roughly almost 15 years old by the time he hits Sinnoh (I've aged him approximately one year per region, with a few months for the Battle Frontier). I've always believed Gary is a year older, and Brock is two years older, making him 17. Dawn is almost 12 – the show states she started on her 10th birthday, but there's no way she's 10. I've changed canon here to reflect that she left on her 11th birthday instead. She's younger than Ash, but very mature for her age, which is why they act much the same.

Also: Part of the "RaiS" storyline but can be read as a stand-alone.

Summary: Gary got a first-hand glimpse at how close Ash comes to death on a regular basis. See how he deals with it.

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"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship." - Lousia May Alcott

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When Gary had told Ash to follow him at bedtime that night, Ash had kind of expected something like this to take place. What he hadn't counted on was the sheer intensity he was greeted with. Upon reaching Gary's room at the Pokemon Center, the older boy had locked the door, and pounced on the younger trainer before he'd had a chance to do more than squeak a surprised, "Gary?"

The air was cool, but Ash was already sweltering in the heat being instantly generated by their closeness. He was stripped of his sleeping tee before he had a chance to stop it. Gary's hands seemed to have minds of their own, swarming over his body almost frantically. Ash bit back a small gasp and forced his eyes open, focusing on the other trainer. "Gary...Gary, calm down. It's okay."

Gary pulled back just enough to give Ash a good look at the poorly concealed anguish on his face. "It's not okay," he muttered, leaning back in and nipping at Ash's neck, burying his face again. "How can you say it's okay?"

"I'm here, aren't I?" Ash smiled and wrapped his arms around Gary, squeezing him lightly. "I'm here."

"You almost weren't." Gary's voice was muffled, but his own arms slowed their frantic motions, and came back up to cling to Ash's back. Ash could feel his heart beating fast; Gary's breath was hitching in and out like he'd just run a marathon. "You almost died."

"Not for the first time," Ash countered confidently. He nuzzled Gary's spikes, inhaling the scent of his shampoo. "I'm pretty hard to kill."

Gary snarled into his neck and then bit down. Ash squirmed, tilting his head back in response, and Gary was off again, licking and nipping path down his throat to his collar bone, and around to the other side. His motions were becoming erratic again, jerky and desperate, as though he were trying to keep Ash right there with him, like Ash would get up and walk out if he didn't.

Ash was a little surprised by the intensity, but a small part of his fogged-up mind reminded him that Gary hadn't had the same traveling experiences he had. It had only been a short time before that Gary had confessed about his secret crush he'd been harboring since childhood – just after Ash had gotten Gligar to evolve, using a razor fang that Gary had given him. Gary had left Lake Valor, only to return a few days later, a serious expression on his face, and a request that Ash speak with him privately.

Ash had to admit, dating hadn't been high on his list of priorities, but at the same time he'd been flattered that someone like Gary Oak wanted someone like him. Gary could have his pick of partners from anywhere in the world. The fact that Gary was male didn't faze him – his mother had raised him to be an open-minded person years ago. His awkwardness stemmed from the fact that he'd never felt any inclination towards starting a relationship before with anyone, regardless of gender.

But he'd been intrigued enough to give it a shot, and he'd never been so glad to have done so. Gary was sixteen, only a year older, but apparently much more experienced, and he took into account Ash's somewhat innocent state. Simple hand-holding had been the norm when they met up on weekends – Gary's days off from the Saeda Institute - and they'd worked their way up to gentle kisses and light touches. Ash was sure he wasn't ready for the 'whole experience' as a red-faced Brock had attempted to explain to him one day (Brock seemed to take on the role of father-figure, and resident chaperone – a somewhat ironic twist), but that didn't mean they couldn't do other things.

Things like what Gary was doing to him now. Gary's hands slipped down from his back and rested on his hips, gripping firmly, his thumbs brushing just above the waistband of Ash's jeans. Ash's thought process cut off with a squeak.

"You scared me," Gary growled, and his hands roamed upwards to Ash's shoulders, rubbing lightly. Raising his head, he leaned in for a kiss; light at first, and then harder, deeper, almost bruising. Ash was panting for breath when he finally pulled away. "Don't do that again."

"I can't do that," Ash sighed, savoring the feel of Gary's body close to his. His own hands kneaded away behind Gary's back, trying to work out the muscle tension he could feel. "These things have always just...happened."

He was referring of course, to the newest Team Rocket plot that had occurred earlier in the day. Jesse, James and Meowth had shown up in their Carnovine-shaped balloon while they had been climbing Stark mountain on the way to the Survival Area in northern Sinnoh. The motto, the attempted theft of Pikachu via an electricity-proofed rubber hand on a stick and the new robot of the day, and the ensuing Pokemon battle was all par for the course for Ash, Brock and Dawn. Gary had been involved in some Team Rocket Battles before, but he'd never seen Ash come close to death before. An explosion on the dirt path on the side of the mountain had caused Ash to fall off the cliff edge, unconscious from a blow to the head by the shrapnel and debris raining down on them.

Brock had instantly reacted, sending out Croagunk to destroy the cage containing the trapped Pokemon with a deadly Brick Break attack, and Dawn ordered Staravia to fly down and catch Ash before he hit the ground. Staravia had responded, swooping down at an incredible speed to snatch her falling trainer in her talons and bringing him back up. Ash had woken up a few minutes later, and had gotten right back into the battle, ordering Pikachu to thunderbolt the balloon. He'd wondered at the paleness of Gary's face, but had chalked it up to surprise and shock at the violent interaction, knowing that Gary didn't deal with this kind of stuff on a daily basis.

After making sure Ash was all right, the group had continued their climb, reaching a surprise Pokemon Center near the top. Usually they all stayed in the same room, but Gary had surprised Ash by asking for a separate one – and then dragged Ash off to it.

Which led them to here and now and Gary trying to eat him alive. Ash was sure some of the bite marks he was leaving on his upper body were going to be very noticeable. "Gary..."

"You scared me," Gary repeated. He had obviously been shaken up, and hearing about some of the other near-misses from Dawn and Brock – who had a plethora of horror stories to shock Gary with – for the remainder of their climb hadn't helped any. "I don't care if you're used to it. I'm not." He shuddered. "The fact that Staravia listened to Dawn without question to save you must mean this happens a lot."

"I know," Ash said quietly, and brought his hands between them, pressing against Gary's chest and pushing him back. "I know you've never seen our Team Rocket encounters quite like this before. And I wish I could tell you it was a one-time deal. But you heard Brock, and even Dawn had a few close calls to talk about – and we've only been traveling with her for a couple of months now! You're absolutely right about Staravia. All of our Pokemon have been involved in these kinds of things to the point where they'll listen to anyone in our group to help someone." Ash could feel his throat closing, but he pressed onward. "It's scary, and I'll understand if... if you..."

"If I what - break up with you?" Gary blinked, and then fury suddenly erupted in his eyes. "How dare you? Do you think I'd give up on this, on us, just because I got scared?"

It was Ash's turn to blink in surprise. "No.. I--"

Gary lunged forward and hugged him, hard. Ash squeaked again. "Look Ash... I don't like being scared. I don't like seeing you get hurt. But that doesn't mean I'm going to run away with my tail between my legs. You got that?" Gary pulled back again, and reached with one hand for Ash's face. Gently grasping his chin, Gary tugged Ash in for another kiss, bringing his other hand to cup Ash's jawline, holding him there in place. Then he sat back, smirking in his old, familiar way. "Well?"

Ash smiled., feeling relief bubble up inside of him. "Got it." Suddenly a yawn escaped him, nearly cracking his jaw. He raised his arms high, stretching. "As much as I hate to end this, can we get some sleep? It's been a long day." He reached for his sleeping tee, handing Gary his.

Gary nodded. "Yeah, it has." Exhaustion was starting to reveal itself on his face too, and they both got up to pull the blanket back. Gary slid in first, and Ash, with a ferocious blush, followed him, immediately curling up next to him, sliding one hand along the warm fabric of Gary's t-shirt, snuggling close.

"This is almost perfect," he mumbled.

Gary tilted his head to look down on Ash's upturned face. "Almost?"

A scritching sound at the door made them look over. Ash was about to move to get it, when it opened. Ash could see the familiar form of Croagunk holding the handle, and at its feet, Pikachu scampered inside. Ash grinned. "Thanks, Croagunk!"

"Cro..." Croagunk gave them short nod, and then closed the door.

Pikachu darted across the floor and then hopped up on the bed. "Pikapi."

"Sorry Pikachu." Ash patted the pillow space between his head and Gary's. "We had some things to... discuss."

"Is that what we're calling it?" Gary murmured with a chuckle, closing his eyes.

Ash smacked his chest lightly. "Shut up."

Pikachu curled into a ball, his nose in Ash's hair, his tail curled around one of Gary's spikes. Gary's grip around Ash's shoulder tightened, and Ash sighed, letting his eyes drift shut. Now, everything was perfect.

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End

I really have a fan-history of NOT writing shonen-ai physical interaction – I'm usually a fluffy hinter, but I can't write romance or sex scenes to save my life. At least, not without them sounding like really corny HQ novels. So this is a change of pace for me. I wanted to try my hand at writing a bit more of the physical side of the relationship, but still keeping it somewhat clean. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Also, this fic flashes back to how they got together, but the fic in question is still being written. While this is technically the 4th fic in the series, it's ranking will most likely change. That's one of the neat things about doing fics in an arc instead of one continuous multi-parter – you can write whichever story you have the inspiration for and slot it into the time line. :D