Disclaimer: I don't own Pokemon or the true story this is based upon. I am in no way shape or form benefiting from story. It is only a way of expressing my sole feelings on this terrible tragedy.

A/N: Okay, so let me explain something first. This story came to me upon the horrific events that occurred recently in Southern California concerning the metrolink crash. Since this story hit so close to home (as in I live only a few miles from where it happened), I wanted to dedicate this story to all those who lost their lives and remind you all how short life is. My prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims and I hope they, somehow, find solace with the ones they love. Please enjoy.

Almost Lost

Routine.

It was what 24 year-old Misty Waterflower was accustomed to day in and day out. She would wake up in the morning, have a quick breakfast, jump on the train that would take her to her job at the Plateau, finish an eight hour work day, then hop back on the train, have a simple dinner and then go to bed. Though it seemed easy enough and, oftentimes, a bit wearing, Misty didn't mind going through this routine everyday, if only it meant she could do it with the one she loved.

Her 24 year-old boyfriend and roommate Ash Ketchum was always there when she awoke each morning, he would always have breakfast with her, call her periodically throughout her busy workday, if only to say that he loved her, then he would have dinner with her, then curl up next to her and gently lull her to sleep.

The two had known each other since they were ten and had traveled together until about the age of 19, when Ash had finally realized his dream of becoming a pokemon master. They had always shared a strong bond with one another, but had always denied the fact that there was something more between them. It wasn't until an open-ended threat from both Brock and Pikachu finally pushed Ash to tell Misty how he truly felt in a stuttered sort of confession.

Since then, everything had been bliss. He was currently on vacation for the rest of the summer and Misty was always hard at work at the Plateau as the Elite Four's personal assistant.

He loved her and she him and neither could imagine life without the other beside them.

However, on this day, their routine and their lives would change forever.

Ash paced their living room nervously in an anxious anticipation of what was to come. He had waited months thinking up the right way to ask her the all important question. Everything needed to be perfect; he simply would not settle for less because, he knew, she deserved it all.

Running a hand through his short black hair, he distractedly threw a hand in his pocket. Upon feeling the soft velvet box, a small smile crept to his lips as he pulled it out carefully. It was a small navy blue box that fit snugly within the palm of his hand, almost as if it had been made just for him. But, he knew, the contents of the box were for one person and one person only.

He flicked the lid of the box open and smiled again at the sight of the perfectly chosen diamond ring sitting atop a silk navy pillow, the color of the diamond sparkling against its' dark background. Ash lifted the ring from its place in the box and examined it closely. He had picked it out nearly five months ago, the only thing holding him back being his nerves.

But today was different, today would finally be the day he would ask Misty to marry him.

It was then Ash felt a tugging at his pant leg. Looking down, he saw Pikachu propped on his hind legs, giving him a questioningly look and cocking his tiny head to one side.

"Pikachu pika pi chu, pika pi? (You're not gonna chicken out again, are you?)" it had asked, a small grin crawling to its face.

"Uhh..n-no, of course not! I told you I was gonna do it today and I am!" Ash replied defensively, only to receive a shake of the head by Pikachu.

"Pikachu, pika pika chu (Okay, whatever you say)," shrugged Pikachu, hopping on top of its trainer's shoulder, "Pika pikachu chu chu pikachu (The sooner you get it over with, the better for the both of you)."

Ash glanced back down at the ring despondently and sighed.

"I know, I-I'm just…what if she says no?" he stuttered, thinking of all the negative things that could happen.

Pikachu merely rolled its eyes for it had heard this all before.

"Pikachu pika (She won't say no)," it stated firmly, looking its trainer square in the eye. Sensing the still distraught nature of its friend, Pikachu gave him a light pat on the back of his head and continued, "Chu pikachu pikapi, pikachu pika (She loves you Ash, she won't say no)."

Ash gave his pal a ghost of a smile then nodded, feeling a bit more confident then he had before.

"You're right pal; she does love me," smiled Ash, placing the ring back in its place and pocketing it once more, "Okay then! I'm going to start dinner, wanna help?"

"Pi pikachu pika pika chu pikachu (You're going to ask her to marry you on your own, therefore, you can cook your dinner on your own)," it teased before bounding off into the other room.

"Gee thanks pal," announced Ash dryly watching the retreating figure of his friend.

Misty sighed as she happily clocked herself out, glad that the work day was finally over. Her feet were killing her and all she wanted to do was have a quick dinner then curl up in bed next to Ash.

Her stomach growled unexpectedly and she placed a hand over it in an attempt to quiet it but, instead a smile small crept to her lips. Looking down, she had started to notice the small tell-tale signs of a bulge that she had never had in the past.

The past couple of weeks, Misty had had her suspicions, but did not dare voice them aloud for fear of what it could lead to. Now, almost six weeks later, the doctor had confirmed what she had so strongly believed in from the start of her suspicions.

She couldn't wait to tell Ash and, with this thought in mind, briskly walked to the train station that would take her back to Pallet.

Scanning her card through the turnstile, Misty easily found her train, hopped on, and surveyed her surroundings carefully. The train seemed more packed than normal and she wondered why so many people had decided to use the train that day. Shrugging the thought aside, however, she went in search of a seat for the ride home.

Struggling through the crowds, she finally found an open window seat near a young man about her age. His faced was buried in a magazine, his brown locks covering his eyes and he barely regarded Misty with a light nod when she politely asked if the seat was taken.

"Thanks," she said gratefully, getting settled in the less than comfortable seat. She set her pack on her lap and gazed out the window at the other passengers awaiting passage to the train.

It was then she noticed that the young man next to her kept throwing her strange side-glances, as if he recognized her. Feeling terribly uncomfortable under his gaze, she straightened up and continued to stare out the window as the train slowly pulled away from the station.

"You look familiar," said the young man, his head tilted to one side.

Misty, realizing that he was talking to her, turned to look at him in full. He had dark brown hair set in a messy pile atop his head and long bangs covering his eyes. Through the hair though, she could see his beautiful piercing blue eyes gazing back at her in an odd sort of curiosity. His attire consisted of baggy dark blue jeans, a black loose fitting t-shirt, and a small hoop earring situated on his left ear. The young man was neither scrawny nor incredibly built, but he seemed to produce a wave of anxiety about her.

Besides all that, he didn't look all that familiar to her.

"I don't think we've ever met," she admitted politely.

"Not in person anyways," he answered gruffly and shoved his magazine in her plain view so that she was face to face with a picture of her and Ash at some recent League event.

Misty's face instantly paled and a small blush came to her cheeks as she smiled nervously at the young man.

She never had liked the attention her and Ash received when they were out in the public eye and her facial expression only served to prove her uneasiness. She was tired, hungry, and wanted nothing more than to get home to Ash. The last thing she wanted was to be hounded by complete strangers asking for pictures of the pokemon master and interviews about how it was like to live with the legend.

"Shh…" she smiled nervously, bringing a finger up to her lips to accentuate her point.

The man chuckled lightly, pulling the magazine away from her and folding it in front of him.

"Don't worry, your secret is safe with me," he replied, receiving a relieved smile from Misty.

"Thank you," she said gratefully, before extending her hand to him, "My name's Misty by the way…but, I guess you already knew that," she finished embarrassedly.

He accepted her hand and gave her a small smile, "The name's Daniel, it's a pleasure Misty. So, where are you off to this evening?"

"Home," she sighed gratefully.

"I know that feeling," he said, imitating her sigh, "You work as a League assistant right?"

"Yes, that's right."

"You like it?"

"I love it!" she exclaimed, "Though it is a bit wearing, I love every minute of it. I just love being able to be around and interact with all the pokemon day in and day out. It's been my dream job."

Daniel chuckled at her enthusiasm, "Seems like you really enjoy it."

"I do," she smiled truthfully, "What is it you do?"

"I'm just a struggling trainer trying to get all eight badges and gain acceptance to enter Victory Road," he explained before dropping his voice to a whisper, "You could say, your boyfriend is kind of like my idol."

Misty giggled at his sincerity, "Well, I don't know about idol, but he definitely has his shining moments I suppose."

"Of course you can say that. You've known each other since you were kids and you live with him," Daniel exasperated, trying to express just how incredible it must have been to be traveling around with the future pokemon master at such a young age.

"You sound jealous. Would you like to live with him? I'm sure he won't seem all he's cracked up to be once you see what a slob he can be sometimes. And the snoring! Don't even get me started!" she joked, leaning her head against the glass of the window.

"Hey, I said nothing about living with the guy. Let's get one thing clear, I'm as straight as an arrow okay? No matter how hot he was rated in last month's Pokemon Inquirer's 'ten hottest men in Kanto,'" he stated matter-of-factly, folding his arms in front of him.

"Oh really? And what exactly was that rating?" smirked Misty.

"Number three…" Daniel muttered, ashamed that he was revealing such an embarrassing fact that he had, accidentally, come across.

Misty burst out into a fit of hysterics, her sides cramping up as she did so.

"I never knew my boyfriend was considered hot by anyone but me. And it is kind of funny how you knew about his rating and I didn't," she smiled, her giggles finally subsiding.

"Don't you read? He's in practically every magazine that gets published! He's famous!" he said incredulously.

Misty only rolled her eyes playfully.

"Oh please, he--"

But she was cut off by the sound of the train's horn blaring loudly from the outside. She looked out the window, perplexed.

"That's weird," commented Daniel, leaning over towards her window and peering out, "We're not due for a stop for at least ten more minutes."

Misty only nodded at him, "Maybe it's an emergency."

"Maybe…" he replied, unconvinced.

Daniel's suspicions, however, were confirmed when he saw the lights of what seemed to be another train far off in the distance just around the next bend heading in their direction.

"There must be another track next to us," supplied Misty, sounding very unconvinced.

Daniel peered out the window further, looking down at the ground while doing so. What he saw made his eyes widen with fear, but he kept his cool as to not panic Misty and those around him.

'There's no track on this side…this is the only track…' he thought gravely.

"Daniel? Daniel, what's wrong?" asked Misty, noticing that he had gotten pale and quiet.

"Th-That train…it's-it's on our track," he stuttered, reminding himself to breathe.

"What?!" she exclaimed, looking down at the ground frantically.

It was true; there was no track where she had thought the other train would pass by. She looked up at the train and noticed its' lights getting bigger and bigger. By this point, other passengers had started to notice and stare out the windows, wondering about the other train as well. Some were starting to panic at the realization of what was about to happen and others started screaming for the train to stop, as if it would help to stop the disaster that was now imminent.

Misty finally pried her eyes away from the other train and sat back in her seat, her eyes closed. This couldn't be happening. It had to be some sort of dream that she would wake up from.

She felt the familiar sting of tears come to the corners of her eyes and a strong tightness constrict the inside of her throat. She wouldn't cry, refused to! Not in front of all these strangers…

"Misty," she looked up at the sound of her name and watched as Daniel gripped her shoulders and gave her a stern look, "We'll make it. I promise."

And it was just what she needed to hear to bring a sad smile to the corners of her lips. It had sounded like such an Ash thing to say and, all at once, she instantly wished he was there. She wanted him there to hold her, comfort her, kiss her, and tell her that everything would be alright. Instead, she would have to settle for the kindness of a complete stranger that seemed dead set on keeping her safe.

"I-I want Ash…" she whispered hoarsely, barely loud enough to hear.

Daniel only nodded at her, almost wishing that the pokemon master was there himself. Perhaps, he would know what to do…

"Well, until we get you back to him, I'm gonna have to do for now," he reassured, trying to lighten the mood but failing miserably.

She gave him a small smile and a light nod of the head.

By this time, people were well aware of what was going on and could feel the brakes skidding against the solid steel of the tracks. They were hopeful yet frantic at the same time. People were screaming, crying, and bracing themselves for the impact to come. Misty knew no matter how hard she tried to forget about it, lives would be lost today, children would lose parents, husbands would lose wives, and hundreds of stories would come crashing to a halt in a matter of seconds.

"We need to brace ourselves," warned Daniel, peeking out the window once more to better gauge the distance between their train and the oncoming train.

Misty nodded again and crouched low on the floor, trying to make herself as small as physically possible. She placed her hands over the back of her neck and it wasn't until Misty heard the crying of a young baby that she remembered the small life growing within her. She wanted to cry for her unborn child, apologize to it for putting it in such danger, and just pray and hope that they would make it through this alive.

It was then she felt a light pressure on her back and chanced a peek. Daniel was covering her body as best he could to prevent any possible debris from causing her harm and stayed ever alert to the oncoming train.

"You ready?" he asked, grabbing the chair behind him and spreading his legs to give him better traction upon impact.

"Yeah," Misty whispered back, closing her eyes and awaiting the crash.

The last thing she remembered was the screaming and crying of people in terror and then the eerie silence that ensued before she blacked out.

Ash looked at the clock for what seemed like the one-hundredth time that evening.

It was 8:01 pm, only five minutes had passed since the last time he had checked it, as the time continued to roll by at a dismal rate. He sighed, getting up out of his seat on the couch and looked out to his front yard. He was greeted only by the darkening streets of Pallet Town and the flickering of the street lights that always illuminated the street at around that time.

"Pikapi, pikachupi (Ash, where's Misty?)?" asked the tiny electric rodent as it scampered onto its trainers shoulder and peered down the dark street.

"I wish I knew," he sighed, "She should've been home an hour ago. I'm starting to get worried."

"Pikachu pika pika (Have you called her?)?"

"Yeah, but all I get is her voicemail," he responded distractedly as he watched yet another car pass by his house.

Pikachu lowered its ears in defeat. This was definitely not like Misty. If it knew anything about Misty, it knew that she was as punctual as they get and, even if she was late, she would always call. She would never voluntarily want to worry Ash.

Ash ran a nervous hand through his hair and turned away from the window, knowing that staring out into the deserted street would do him no good. Instead, he picked up the receiver to his video phone and punched in a few numbers.

"Pika (Who?)?" it asked, lifting a pointed ear upwards.

"Her work. Maybe she had to stay later," he replied simply, hoping upon hope that Misty was still at work.

However, thirty minutes into his search and Misty still was nowhere to be seen.

"Sorry Ash, but she hasn't dropped by, like, all day," replied Daisy, Misty's oldest sister, sorrowfully.

"Yeah, okay then. If she does call you, let me know," he sighed.

"Will do. You let us know too if you hear from her," she nodded.

Ash gave her a light nod and the two hung up.

So, she wasn't at work, she didn't visit Brock, she hadn't visited the gym or her sisters, nor had she yet to answer her cell phone. She had completely and utterly disappeared.

"Pi pikachu pika pika chu pikachu (Maybe she went out with co-workers and lost track of time?)?" Pikachu suggested, trying to ease the worry it knew its trainer was experiencing.

"But that doesn't explain why she didn't call," countered Ash, plopping himself on his couch as Pikachu hopped off and landed on the sofa's arm.

"Pikachu pika pika pikapi (I'm sure she's fine Ash)" it finally said, trying to convince itself more than Ash.

"I'm worried about her pal," he said hoarsely.

He was quickly overtaken by worry and frustration for her and stood suddenly, almost knocking Pikachu off its perch, while also dropping the remote on the floor.

The television blinked and suddenly came to life, illuminating the room. Ash sighed and picked it off of the floor, ready to turn it off before Pikachu squeaked in indignation.

"Pikapi, pikachu (Ash, wait!)!" it exclaimed, pointing frantically at the television.

Ash reverted his attention to the screen and gasped at what he saw. He frantically turned up the volume to better hear the news reporter and try to gain some kind of understanding on what exactly was going on.

"If you're just joining us, we're broadcasting live where a horrific accident occurred here just over an hour ago," announced the reporter as the scene changed to that of what seemed to be a train wreck. Her voice continued to blare as the camera man surveyed the scene, "We're at the tracks separating Pewter City and Viridian Forest where train 401 was bound towards Pallet Town from the Indigo Plateau…"

"The Plateau…Pallet…" Ash trailed off, his heart thumping as he tried to organize his thoughts and calm himself.

Train 401…wasn't that the train Misty always came home on, he suddenly thought, worry rushing to the surface. Ash's ears perked up as the reporter continued.

"Several eye witnesses said they claimed to have seen the two trains on the same track heading in opposite directions, however, an ongoing investigation will ultimately decide the cause of the crash," she continued, sighing, "Medics, firefighters, and law enforcement will be working around the clock to try and free any of the trapped survivors and try and get all those injured to the nearest hospitals and pokemon centers."

The scene flickered once again to the destroyed train. It was lying on its side, about fifty feet away from the tracks, scrap metal and debris everywhere. Firefighters and police were atop the massive train and using their pokemon to dig through the endless debris to try and find any survivors.

"This truly is a sad day in Kanto's history. If you believe someone you know may have been on that train, you can call the toll free number on the screen. Many of the victims are being transferred to multiple hospitals and pokemon centers across Kanto as the injured and death count continue to rise. We thank you for joining us at this time and we will continue to keep you updated on sudden changes in the…"

Ash dropped the remote suddenly, ignoring the last words of the reporter.

His heart dropped and he felt a sickening feeling come to the pit of his stomach. That was Misty's train…he just knew it. It would explain her being late, her absence of phone calls, and the inability to get a hold of her. He clenched his fists together and closed his eyes, feeling the familiar sting of tears reaching his deep brown eyes.

This couldn't be happening. He wouldn't believe it…refused to believe it until he saw it for himself.

"Pikapi?" it asked, tugging on Ash's pant leg.

"P-Pikachu…I-I think that was Misty's train," he breathed, feeling the lump in his throat constrict his breathing.

"Pikachu pika (Are you sure?)?"

"I'm positive, we need to go there now," he said, grabbing his jacket and unclipping a pokeball from off of his belt.

"Misty! Misty, can you hear me?"

She could hear the voice, though it sounded a little strained as if he were in pain. As much as she wanted to, she couldn't will herself to open her eyes. It was all too painful. Every bone, muscle, and joint hurt to move and she found it might have been much easier if she just went to sleep…but the sickening taste of blood in her mouth caused her to cough and splutter for air.

"Misty, stay with me you hear?! I told you-I promised you I'd get you out of here! Don't make me a liar! What about Ash?!"

That did it. At the sound of her boyfriend's name, Misty's mind opened once more, though she still couldn't bear to open her eyes or even speak. Instead, she let out a tiny groan, if only to let him know that she was still alive. How she had survived though she would never know.

"Please, I need help over here! She needs help!" yelled the male voice again.

Misty groaned again at the loudness of it and tried to roll over, but found she couldn't.

"Don't try to move, you're hurt badly," the voice warned as she heard footsteps quickly approaching them.

"Get her pulse and BP stat!" announced a female voice, as Misty sensed several people kneel down next to her.

"Miss! Miss! Can you hear me?" asked an unrecognizable male voice, as he pressed lightly against her neck and wrapped a cuff around her arm.

Misty groaned in response, hoping that would appease them.

"Let's get a stretcher in here and get her inside the ambulance!" announced the female once more.

"Ma'am, pulse has dropped to 50 and BP is steady at 100 over 60!" came the first voice.

Misty couldn't take it. She needed to know exactly what was going on. So, ignoring the pain in her body, she slowly and carefully opened her eyes to be met with several pairs staring back at her.

"Miss, we're going to be taking you to the hospital in Pewter City. We won't know what's wrong until we get there," explained the female medic.

Wait, medic, Misty thought. Why were there medics surrounding her? What happened? Why was there…

Then, it all came back to her like a bad dream she wished she could awake from.

The train, people screaming and crying…how could she have forgotten?

"Oh my god…do you know who that is?" whispered one of the male medics.

Misty could feel their eyes on her as they whispered to each other and could only assume they had recognized her from some photo or something of that nature. She closed her eyes again, if only to relieve herself of the oncoming headache racking her system.

"That's Master Ketchum's girlfriend!" an onlooker shouted before the medic had a chance to respond.

Misty just inwardly groaned at that and wanted nothing more than to sleep and, hope, that when she woke up it was all just a bad dream.

"It doesn't matter who she is, we need to get her to the hospital now!" came the female medic's voice, obviously the voice of authority.

Just then, she could feel several people lifting her off of the ground and placing her on a stretcher. They strapped her in snuggly and proceeded to wheel her to the awaiting ambulance.

"I'm coming too," protested a young man's voice, who Misty could only presume to be Daniel.

"Sir, your arm--"

"Its fine, it can be fixed at the hospital," he argued.

The medic nodded at him and, with that, placed Misty's battered body in the back of the ambulance as Daniel hopped aboard, nursing his bleeding arm.

The siren roared to life and blared loudly, as the truck zoomed down the street and away from the wreckage…

Ash could see it as plain as day now.

The turned over train, medics tending to the dead and wounded, the horde of Officer Jenny's working diligently to recover any more lives, and the endless amount of volunteer pokemon that were now digging through the rubble…

Charizard landed in the clearing and roared loudly at the mayhem surrounding it. Ash hopped off, Pikachu in tow, and surveyed the seen around him.

He was at a complete loss for words.

Never had he seen such a scene. It was terrible. People were screaming and crying for their loved ones. Others were helping the police dig through the debris to find passengers that may still be alive, while others still, consoled those who had lost friends or family.

"Pikapi…" sighed Pikachu, lowering its ears at the mass destruction around it.

"Excuse me sir, this area is off—Oh, Master Ketchum! I didn't know that was you. My apologies sir!" corrected an Officer Jenny, saluting him.

Ash ignored her and swiftly went in search of the only person that mattered. Jenny followed him, her clipboard in hand.

"Notify the Elite Four and the gym leaders of Kanto about what's happened here."

"Yes sir!" nodded Jenny, "Anything else?"

Ash stopped walking and clenched his fists together, trying his best to keep his composure.

"Misty was on that train…" he muttered, as Officer Jenny looked taken aback, her eyes wide, and at a loss for words. Sensing this, he continued, "I need to know if she…"

But he couldn't finish his sentence and merely trailed off, looking down at the ground.

"We-We'll try and track her down for you sir b-but, those who have already been found have been transported to various hospitals around the region. However, because of the situation, we haven't been able to record who has and hasn't been found yet," she explained softly, unsure if this is what he really wanted to hear.

"S-So…if she has been found, there's no way of knowing what hospital--"

At that moment, a loud jingling could be heard from the confines of Ash's pocket. He distractedly pulled his cell phone from his pocket and perked up when he saw the name on the caller ID.

Misty Waterflower calling…

He quickly opened it and almost shouted into the phone.

"Mist, where are you?! What happened?!"

"I-Is this Master Ketchum…?" came a hesitant male's voice.

Hearing the voice, Pikachu lifted an ear up in confusion while Ash simply held the phone, unsure of who this mysterious person was and how he had Misty's phone.

"Who the hell is this?" he asked harshly.

"M-Master Ketchum…Misty's with me at the hospital in Pewter City."

At this Ash's heart rate escalated and he gripped the phone even tighter.

"What?! Is she okay?! What's going on?!" he rambled into the phone.

"She's in stable condition now, but she suffered a lot of internal bleeding and they're prepping her for surgery now. I don't--"

But the phone went dead.

"Hello! Hello, are you there?!"

Ash looked to his phone to be met with…

Call lost…

"Shit…Pikachu, we need to get to the hospital in Pewter ASAP!"

Daniel, a sling now holding his broken arm in place, paced the waiting room of the hospital anxiously. His head was throbbing from the stitches that had been given to him only moments ago, but he found it difficult to concentrate on that.

He stared at the object in his hands loathingly.

Of course the damn phone just had to go out! Those stupid things were never reliable when you most needed them, he thought angrily. Sighing, however, he only wished he had given the Master as much information before it had gone dead.

Just then, a commotion from outside stirred him from his thoughts. He peered out of the double doors and noticed, what seemed to be, hundreds of reporters being held at bay by several Officer Jenny's while a young man with a Pikachu pushed his way past the crowds.

The electric doors opened and in walked his idol and the person with whom he had been speaking to only moments ago.

He gaped at him, mouth open, as he briskly walked into the hospital, eyes scanning the area for the nearest doctor. Worry and fear were etched on his normally calm face as the Pikachu on his shoulder did its best to comfort him.

He watched as Ash Ketchum walked up to the reception desk and placed both hands atop it, getting the attention of the nurse working there.

"I need to know what's happened to Misty Waterflower," he stated sternly.

The nurse faltered for a bit at the harshness of the voice and stuttered nervously, "M-Master Ketchum! I uh…hold on please."

She filed through her paperwork haphazardly and finally pulled the correct file. Flipping through its pages, she quickly skimmed over its contents.

"She's in surgery as we speak," she explained before continuing, feeling the heated gaze of the young Master upon her, "Um…she's suffered a lot of internal bleeding and a possible collapsed lung. There are also signs she's endured a grade two concussion."

At hearing this, Ash closed his eyes and rested his elbows on the desk, running his hands through his messy black hair.

"Is-Is she going to be okay?" he whispered so softly the nurse almost missed it.

"I-I don't know sir…I'm sorry. We probably won't know anything until after the surgery," she sighed, replacing the file back into the stack on her desk, "I'll alert the doctor that you're here, sir."

Ash didn't even bother to respond. Instead, he trudged over to the nearest seat and plopped himself down heavily. He leaned his elbows against his knees and held his head in his hands, eyes closed shut.

He wanted to stay positive, to believe that she would make it through this alive. But one look at the destruction the crash had caused, and he knew it wasn't that simple.

"Chu…" comforted Pikachu solemnly, patting its trainer on the head softly.

"I just…feel so helpless to her pal. She must have been so…alone and scared and I couldn't do a damn thing about it," he muttered angrily, feeling his tears coming on.

"Pika pikapi…(Sorry Ash…)" said Pikachu quietly, "Pi chu pikachu chu, pi pikachu (But look on the bright side, at least we knew where to find her)."

Ash picked his head up at his friend's words. That's right. He had almost forgotten about the mysterious person who had informed him of Misty's arrival at the hospital. He had been so distracted by everything else, he had completely forgotten.

However, before he had time to contemplate this, he saw movement from his right and turned his head to be met with a young man about his age.

"Uhh…M-Master Ketchum…?"

Ash raised an eye at the man who was nervously looking at him and fiddling with something in his pocket. The voice sounded vaguely familiar and yet Ash couldn't place the man's face in his memory.

"I'm sorry but…have we met?"

Daniel gave him a sad smile, "Not in person," he responded, repeating the exact phrase he had given Misty when he had first met her, "My name's Daniel and…well, I'm the one that called you."

Ash gasped at the sudden realization. Of course! That's why the voice sounded so familiar!

He stood up to face the man, an unreadable expression dominating his face.

"You…" he muttered.

Daniel cringed at the sound of the Master's voice and dipped his head a bit, intimidated by the way he was being looked at.

"It's because of you that I knew where to find her…thank you," smiled Ash sadly, extending his hand to Daniel.

Daniel gave him a warm smile and shook his hand, vowing never to forget this moment for as long as he lived, "It-It's a pleasure Master Ketchum."

"Please, call me Ash…and this is Pikachu," nodded Ash, motioning to the yellow pokemon on his shoulder.

"Pika!"

Daniel nodded at the pokemon who was almost as famous as its master and smiled at the both of them. However, he found his happiness short-lived when he remembered their reason for being there.

"Misty's an amazing person; we got a chance to talk before the…"

Daniel couldn't finish and only sighed aloud.

"I-I tried to help her…I tried to--"

"And for that I'm eternally grateful," confirmed Ash, placing a hand on Daniel's shoulder, "Misty's tough…I think she'll be okay," he finished, trying to convince himself more than anything.

Daniel only nodded and was about to comment when he heard someone clear their throat to their right. Both men looked up to be greeted with a doctor in a lab coat, a warm smile marking his tired face.

"Master Ketchum…we've just finished surgery and I'm relieved to say that it was a complete success. Misty will be just fine given some time and plenty of rest," he smiled, wiping his brow with his sleeve.

"Oh thank god…" muttered Ash, tears welling up in his eyes, "Can we see her?"

"Of course…she's down the hall, the last room on the right," the doctor replied, "However, I will need to discuss something with her in a while, once she wakes up of course," he finished before walking away to tend to other victims.

Ash only nodded, thinking nothing of it, and proceeded to walk when he noticed that Daniel hadn't moved. He turned around to face the young man before motioning to him.

"I think she'll want to see you as well," smiled Ash, leading the way.

Daniel nodded quickly and followed suit without a word.

Finding the room, Ash peered inside and what he saw made his heart drop. Misty was hooked up to all sorts of machines and her skin was terribly pale. Her eyes were closed and he noticed that her face and arms were littered with cuts and bruises and even some stitches. Her left leg was wrapped in a cast and suspended by a cable connected to the ceiling and all he felt like doing was crying. She had never looked so helpless or weak before, never in all the years he had known her.

He wanted nothing more than to hold her in his arms and tell her how much he loved her.

Sitting down on the seat nearest the bed, Ash took hold of Misty's hand and rubbed it gently while Pikachu perched itself on the end of the bed. Daniel leaned up against the wall, viewing the scene before him and giving the young Master a small smile.

Misty gave a light groan at the sudden feel of warmth against her skin and slowly opened her eyes. When she saw the warm, concerned eyes of her boyfriend staring back at her, she gave him a weak smile.

"Misty…" came Ash's strained voice as he cupped her face in his free hand.

"Ash…you're here," she smiled, lifting up her free hand to meet the one on her face.

"I'm here and I'll never leave you again," he whispered as she smiled at his sincere offer, "Are you in any pain?"

"Not anymore…now that you're here," she replied.

At this, Ash could no longer put up the strong front he had been holding up since he had arrived at the hospital. Tears started to trickle down his cheeks as he rested his head lightly against her chest and sobbed for all the world to hear. He didn't care that he was in the company of a complete stranger; all he wanted to do was release his anxieties, fears, and worries about the girl that was now holding him close and whispering words of comfort in his ear.

"I would never leave you Mr. Pokemon Master, not when everything in our lives is so perfect," she grinned, sitting up a little straighter and combing her hand through Ash's hair.

She looked up and it was then that she noticed Daniel quietly shuffling his feet in the corner of the room. Misty smiled at him and realized that he must have felt extremely uncomfortable. I mean, it wasn't everyday just anyone saw the Master himself break down into tears.

"Daniel…" Misty called lightly. He looked up at her and approached the end of the bed with a smile on his worn face.

"Hey Misty, I'm glad your okay," he nodded.

"And it's thanks to you," she started, looking down at Ash, "I'm here because of you."

"N-No way, I-I didn't do anything," he stuttered, not usually used to being in these types of situations.

"Of course you did," stated Ash, wiping the remaining tears from his face and sitting up straighter, "You saved her…and you called me letting me know where to find her…for that I will be eternally grateful."

Daniel's mouth was hanging open slightly. He, of all people, was getting praised by the Pokemon Master himself! He found words hard to come by and could do nothing more but stand there. Fortunately for him, Misty let out a small giggle to relieve the tension.

"I take it you two have met already?" she inquired.

Ash nodded, but Daniel still stood there unsure of what to say.

"Daniel, you look like you've seen a ghost," she laughed, "Lighten up, it's just Ash. He's no one that special."

"Thanks…" Ash replied dryly, though his tone didn't mask his extreme happiness at Misty's recovery.

"Sure, maybe to you he isn't, but to me he's an idol, a legend even!"

"A legend, huh? Never gotten called that before," mused Ash, placing a hand under his chin.

The three plus Pikachu shared a laugh and stopped when the doctor walked into the room, hands in his pockets.

"Ah, it's good to see you up Miss Waterflower. How are we feeling?" he asked.

"Much better thank you. I just have a bit of a headache and my leg is killing me," she answered truthfully.

"Yes well, you broke your leg in several places, but luckily the bone did not tear through the skin. You'll have to keep the cast on for about six weeks or so," the doctor explained.

Misty sighed but smiled wearily nonetheless.

"Also, there's one other thing I'd like to discuss with you," he said slowly, flipping through her file, "I just wanted to let you know that you were extremely lucky. The baby's still alive and it seems no permanent damage has been sustained."

Misty gave a relieved look; she had almost forgotten about the unborn child and looked to a very confused Ash who just kept repeating the word 'baby' as if it were a foreign language.

"Thank goodness, thank you doctor, for everything," Misty bowed, before he smiled, offered his congratulations, and then left the three in peace.

"Pikapi…pikachu pi chu (Ash…are you okay?)?" asked a wary Pikachu as it too had heard the word 'baby' and had started to wonder itself.

"M-Mist…i-is there something you need to tell me?" stuttered Ash, his breathing becoming heavy.

Misty only smiled at him, hoping his reaction was far better than it was now, "Ash, I meant to tell you when I got home, but well with everything happening…" she hesitated before continuing, "I only found out today, but…I'm pregnant. You're gonna be a dad in about eight months time."

Ash's mouth dropped as he tried to wrap his mind around what she had just told him. Daniel's expression mirrored Ash's and Misty giggled at the two men.

"Pikachu!" squealed Pikachu, jumping into Misty's lap affectionately.

"Thanks pal," she smiled, giving it a hug. She then reverted her attention back to a very quiet Ash, "Are you mad? I know we aren't married yet, but I think we can really do this."

"Mad…why would I be mad?" he finally said, breaking out into a huge grin, "I'm gonna be a dad! Oh Misty, that's terrific!"

He hugged her tightly, kissing her lightly on the cheek and pulled back slightly to take her in.

"You're okay with this then?" she asked, hopefully.

He nodded at her, "More than okay, I promise," he smiled before remembering a 'surprise' of his own currently sitting in his pocket, "Well, I have a surprise for you too, since it seems the appropriate moment to do so."

Pikachu tilted its head to one side and leapt off of Misty's lap and nearer to its trainer. Ash winked at it and reached into his pocket slowly. Pikachu, catching the hint, leapt up into the air squealing 'pika, pika!'

"I meant to do this tonight too, but I suppose better late than never right?" he said, while pulling out the small box and flicking the lid open.

A small gasp escaped Misty's lips as she gazed at the beautiful diamond ring adorning the inside of the box. She slowly lifted a hand up to her mouth to mask her shock and tears of joy.

"Ash…"

"Mist…if today's taught me anything, it's to never take life for granted," he said, smiling at her reaction, "I almost lost you today and I'll be damned if I let it happen again. I love you more than anything in the world…will you marry me?"

"Oh Ash…yes, of course I will. I want nothing more," she cried, as he pulled her left hand closer to slip on the ring.

Misty stared at the ring adoringly and then looked to her new fiancée and smiled. She took him by the hand and brought his face closer to meet her own lips in a soft, passionate kiss. She could hear him sigh happily, for what she guessed, was both for her answer and for her safety.

Misty broke off the kiss and stared lovingly into his eyes, "I love you Ash."

Ash lifted her hand up into his own and kissed it lightly, "I love you too Mist."

Out of the corner of her eye, Misty could clearly see Daniel slowly making his way out of the room, a small blush crawling to his cheeks. Misty let out a small giggle, knowing how uncomfortable he must have been.

"Where do you think you're going?" she asked, looking past Ash and into his nervous eyes.

"Um…I-uh…thought you might want-you know, some privacy or something…" he trailed off, suddenly feeling the gaze of the Pokemon Master upon him.

"You aren't going anywhere until I've thanked you properly," stated Ash, "You've done more than the average stranger would…now what can we do for you?"

Daniel just stared at the couple, mouth hanging open at his genuine offer.

Ash, sensing the young man's surprise, merely said, "Please, we won't take no for an answer."

Daniel sighed, giving the pair a tired smile. Just then, a thought occurred to him that made a small smile creep to the ends of his lips. How could he have not thought of it earlier? This was the Pokemon Master he was talking about after all! What the hell was he thinking?!

"Well…" started Daniel, smiling, "Would a pokemon battle be too much to ask?"

At that, Ash laughed heartily and stood, "You bet! It's been a while since we've battled, right pal?"

"Pika!"

"Thanks Master K—I, uh, mean Ash!" smiled Daniel, offering his hand in a friendly shake and feeling his insides squirm at the thought of being able to call the Master by his first name.

"No, thank you," said Ash seriously, nodding his head.

Misty smiled at the two of them as she gently rested her head back down on the pillow.

Ash reverted his gaze to his new fiancée and smiled lovingly at her. He watched as the gentle rise and fall of her chest only proved to him that she was more alive than ever, though a little battered, if anything. He sat, again, next to her bed and held her hand gingerly, kissing it lightly.

Daniel stood and smiled off in the corner at the couple. What started off as a normal, run of the mill type of day, had completely turned his world around. He had befriended a young woman that had taught him more about the joys of life that he could have never learned in any self-help magazines and had become a part of something wonderful all in a time span of a few hours. It amazed him at how lucky he considered himself to have survived such an ordeal and to have come out of it a better person.

He watched admiringly as Misty laid, almost serenely, in her bed, Ash by her side stroking her hand gently.

Misty, for her part, closed her eyes, wanting so much to sleep but finding her thoughts preventing her from doing just that. So many things swirled about in her mind and she tried so desperately to organize them all, but her pounding headache kept reminding that she would not be at 100% for a while yet. Instead, she focused more on the ordeals of the day.

Mothers, fathers, friends, children…so many lives had been lost that day and yet, she was one of the blessed ones. Misty had never really considered herself lucky, but, in that moment lying in that hospital bed with her fiancée, his pokemon, and her new friend beside her, she knew more than luck had allowed her to see another day.

Perhaps it was fate? Or even destiny?

Either way, a lesson well learned had come from all of this. And Misty was certainly not the type to ignore something when it called to her.

Ash, on the other hand, considered himself to be the lucky one. Luck had always been one of those things that he relied heavily upon as a child, whether it was good or bad. He never once considered the fact that he would be as grateful as he was to have luck, finally, be on his side.

And it was in that moment, that he realized how close he truly came to losing her.

He had almost missed his opportunity to propose, almost missed his chance to call her his forever, almost missed out on being a father, and had almost lost out on the single most important person in his life.

Never again would he allow himself to ever be swayed by fear or anxiety. For his own cowardice had almost cost him too many regrets and Ash, of all people, knew life rarely offered second chances.

And so, as he leant over and kissed his fiancée on her forehead, he vowed never to hold back, to never live with regrets, and to always be the man she had fallen in love with all those years ago. For, in that instance, Ash realized how precious life was and how close he had come to losing it.

A/N: So I meant to have this fic out like a looong time ago, but obviously, that didn't happen. In any case, just wanted to dedicated this fic to all those who lost their lives in this deadly crash and, for those of you reading this, never take life for granted cause you never know when your next day will be your last!