A Bedside Vigil

Disclaimer:  I don't own Pokemon.  If I did, then Misty and Ash

                    would have gotten together a long time ago.

~Misty's POV~

            I smiled warmly as I embraced the one I loved most.  I held onto him for dear life, afraid that I might lose him forever if I let go.  I was afraid it wasn't real.  I frowned when he let me go.  I looked him straight in the eyes in uncertainty, afraid of what I may see in those amber eyes of his, but I smiled as I saw that familiar twinkle in them.

            "Why did you let go?"  I asked, worried that he was only joking about the confession that he'd just made to me. 

"Because I wanted to do this." He whispered softly as he began to kiss me passionately. 

I felt like I was in heaven.  We kissed with intensity until a blinding light shone in my eyes.  It was spoiling the moment.  I broke the kiss and began rubbing my eyes, and then I closed them, if only for a second.  When I opened them, the light still blinded me.  I groaned at the sun and looked around; noticing that the love of my life was no longer in front of me and I was lying on the ground.  It had only been a dream.

I yawned and noticed that Togepi and Pikachu were already awake.  I smelled bacon frying.  I stood up and saw that Brock was fixing breakfast.  I took out my hairbrush and brushed my hair.  Then, I folded my sleeping bag and put it in my backpack.  I noticed that Ash was still sleeping.  He looked like an angel, just lying there.  He began tossing and turning.

            "He isn't sleeping too soundly." I said to myself. 

            "Let him sleep for a little while longer."  Said a voice behind me.

            "Brock."  I said.  He smiled. 

We walked over to the picnic table and sat.  Pikachu stayed with Ash's sleeping form and glanced at him nervously.  I sat Togepi in my lap.

"I wonder why Ash is tossing and turning?"  I asked, worriedly.

"I guess he was up all night." Brock answered.

            "Brock, he went to bed earlier than we did last night.  He seemed so tired."  I replied remembering the previous night.

            "Maybe he ended up not sleeping.  He could be worried about that gym match today."  Brock answered.

            "Maybe you're right."  I said reluctantly. 

I glanced over at Ash and sighed.  I still wasn't convinced that Ash couldn't sleep because he was nervous about a gym match.  I mean, Ash was usually excited about gym matches.  Why should this time be any different?  I sighed once more as I watched Ash as he kept tossing and turning in his sleep.

            "Pika!"  I heard Pikachu say.  I caught sight of Pikachu on Ash's chest and cringed as I saw sparks coming from Pikachu's bright red cheeks.

            "Pikachu, no!"  I shouted.  Pikachu stopped right where he was and looked over at me.  I shot him a look and he ran up to me.

            "Pikachu, I don't think shocking Ash would be a good idea."  I said softly.  "It might make matters worse.  Just let him sleep."

  Pikachu frowned and went to the picnic table where Brock was setting down some pokemon food.  I also went over and sat down, but I kept staring over in Ash's direction.  I was worried about Ash's sudden condition of insomnia.  About five minutes passed by.

            "Breakfast is ready."  Brock announced, "Someone needs to wake Ash up.  If I know him, he won't miss breakfast no matter what."

            "I'll do it."  I volunteered as I headed in Ash's direction.  I gazed down at him.  His face looked distressed although he was sleeping.  I bent over him.

            "Ash," I said softly as I gently shook him, "Ash, you need to wake up."

            Ash groaned and turned over on his side.

            "Ash, please.  Brock has breakfast ready.  You need to wake up."  I pleaded.

            Ash mumbled softly.  I couldn't help but smile. 

            "Ash, please!  Don't forget that you have to face the Olivine gym leader today."  I pleaded once more, pretending to be annoyed. 

Ash opened those gorgeous amber eyes and looked straight up at me.  I expected him to awake with a start, like he always did on the mornings of the gym matches, but not this time.  Ash rose up slowly.  I noticed that he clutched his head. 

            "Ash, what's wrong?"  I asked.

            "N-Nothing."  Ash stuttered.  Then, he got up on his feet and slowly walked over to the lake where we'd been camping. 

I folded Ash's sleeping bag and stuffed it neatly in his backpack.  I glanced over at Ash who was washing his face at the edge of the lake.  I picked up his hat and walked over to the picnic table to sit down. 

            "I made my special omelet for you and scrambled eggs with bacon on the side for Ash.  Where is he?"  Brock asked.

            "He's over by the lake, washing up."  I answered.  I glanced over at Ash.  He seemed to be taking an awfully long time to wash his face this morning. 

            "Hey Ash?!  Get over here!  You're breakfast's getting cold!"  Brock called.

            "Right!"  I heard Ash answer. 

Then, Ash slowly made his way up to the picnic table.  He sat down next to me and sighed. 

"Here," I said, handing him his hat.  "I also folded up your sleeping bag."

            "Thanks, Mist."  Ash said as he placed his hat on his head.  Then, we all began to eat.

            "Yum.  This omelet is delicious!"  I exclaimed.

            "Thanks, Misty.  The recipe's an old family secret."  Brock answered happily.  Then, he looked over at Ash and frowned.

            Ash was just sitting there, playing with a piece of scrambled egg with his fork. 

            "Is something wrong with the food?"  Brock asked, slightly hurt.

            "Oh, no.  It's terrific, Brock!  Just the way my mom fixes it!"  Ash said with a smile.  He picked up his fork and attempted to eat.  Brock and I exchanged looks.  Pikachu sighed and went back to eating.

            "I'm stuffed," I said after I finished the last of my orange juice.  Brock stood up to clear the dishes.  I glanced over at Ash.

            "Yeah, me too."  Ash replied.  I looked at his plate.

            "Ash!  You've barely touched your food.  You usually clean your plate and then rush for seconds and thirds.  What's going on?"  I asked with a worried tone that I didn't even recognize. 

            "I'm just not that hungry, I guess."  Ash said in a small voice.  Then, Ash got up and walked over to an old tree stump and sat.  Pikachu went rushing to his side. 

            "Ash, it's your turn to do the dishes."  Brock said in an irritated tone.

            I glanced over at Ash.  I wasn't sure what the deal was, but it was clear that Ash didn't feel like doing much.  I saw him get up, slowly.

            "Sit back down.  I'll do them."  I called to him.  Ash threw his hand up in the air and collapsed back on the stump. 

            "Thanks, Misty.  I owe ya one."  Ash smiled.

            "No problem."  I smirked.

            After the dishes were done, I sat back down at the table and stared at Ash, who remained on the stump.

            "It's not like you to do Ash's chores."  Brock said quietly.

            "Unless you want pulled by the ears, then I suggest you hush."  I said angrily.

            "No Misty.  I'm being serious.  What's the deal?"  asked Brock.  I sighed.

            "I really don't know." I said.  "I think something's wrong with him."

            "I still think its sleep deprivation."  Brock answered.

            "I don't know," I said in a concerned tone, "Did you see his plate?  He barely took two bites of his food.  Staying up all night has never affected his appetite before."

            Brock stood up.  "Well, maybe we should just ask him about it."

            I nodded and picked up Togepi.  We both walked up to the stump.  Ash had his hat pulled over his eyes.  A worried Pikachu sat at his feet. 

            "Umm, Ash?"  Brock asked.  Ash took off his hat and looked up at us.

            "Hmmm?"  He mumbled.

            "Is something wrong?"  I asked.

            "No. Why?"  He retorted.

            "You've been acting strangely all morning." Said Brock.

            "I'm fine."  Ash answered.  Then, he stood up.  I noticed that he looked a little flushed.

            "Now, are we just going to stand here or are we going to challenge that gym leader?"  Ash inquired.  I noticed that look of determination in his eyes. 

            "Are you sure it's such a good idea?  We could always do it tomorrow."  I answered.

            "I'm ready to battle today."  Ash said in an irritated manner.  I sighed.  There was no convincing him.  I turned to Brock.

            'It's obvious that Ash doesn't feel very well.  I'm sure that Brock will make him wait until tomorrow.' I thought.  Brock appeared to be deep in thought.  Then he looked up.

            "Alright!  Nurse Joy, here we come!  And the Johto League Guide Book says that the Olivine gym leader is a girl named Jasmine!  Isn't that a pretty name?  I'll bet she is too.  Let's go!!!"  Brock said happily.

            "That's the spirit!"  Ash said in a weak, yet enthusiastic voice.  Ash and Brock began to walk ahead as I groaned.  I heard Pikachu sigh and eye Ash suspiciously, and then it consented to coming along.  Ash turned around and looked at me.

            "Aren't you coming?"  Ash asked.

            "Yeah."  I said as I began to walk toward him.  What choice did I have?

            It wasn't too long before Ash began lagging behind.  We began walking up a hill.  I looked behind me to see Ash struggling to keep up with our pace.  I sighed.

            "Brock, how much further to Olivine?"  I asked rather impatiently. 

            "After we cross this hill, there's another bigger one to cross.  After that, we should be there.  I'd say we'll be there in two hours."  Brock answered.

            I glanced back at Ash.  Somehow, I didn't think Ash could make it up that other hill in two hours.  Ash kept getting slower and slower.  Suddenly, I stopped.  Brock stopped as well.  We waited until Ash caught up with us.

            "Hey guys, why'd you stop?"  Ash asked, after finally catching his breath.

            "I, uh, needed to take a break." I lied.

"Oh." Said Ash as he sat down on the ground.  Pikachu hopped on Ash's lap.  He looked so worried.

            "Why'd you say that you needed a break?  It's not like you to lie."  Brock whispered.

            "Look at him.  He's so stubborn that he won't stop and take a rest himself.  He'll think he's slowing us down.  I don't want to hurt his pride."  I explained. 

We both looked over at Ash.  He was getting more and more sluggish with every minute.  Brock sighed.  He got out his backpack and got out a canteen bottle. 

            "Give this to Ash," said Brock, "He's got to be thirsty."

            "Sure." I said.  I handed Togepi to Brock and walked over to Ash.  I handed him the canteen.

            "Drink this." I said.  Ash took the water and drank.  By the time he was done, there wasn't even a drop left in the canteen.

            "Thanks, Mist.  I appreciate it." Ash said kindly.  I felt like I was going to melt.

            "Anytime." I smiled.  That's when I got a glimpse at Ash's face.  He didn't look a little flushed anymore.  He was as white as a ghost.  His cheeks were as red as Pikachu's.  His eyes were bloodshot.  There were dark circles under his eyes.  Beads of sweat were pouring down his face. 

            "Ash, are you okay?"  I asked.

            "Of course I am." Ash said weakly.

            "Are you positively sure?" I asked.

            "Why wouldn't I be?" Ash snapped, "Why can't you just leave me alone?!"  I was about to protest when I noticed how weak he looked.  I knew he didn't feel like arguing.  I sighed.

            "I'm just…worried." I said in a hurt voice.  Ash and I just sat there in silence for a while. Ash took a deep breath.

            "Look Mist, I'm just tired.  I'm sure it'll pass." Ash said softly.  "And I'm sorry for snapping like that.  You were just worried, and I had no right."

            "It's okay." I said, a bit taken back by Ash's sudden apology.  Ash flashed me a sideways grin and stood up.

            "I think we should keep going." Ash said as he got back to his feet. 

            "Yeah, let's go." Said Brock who was eager to get to Nurse Joy.

            I merely sighed.  I grabbed Togepi out of Brock's arms.  I wasn't sure about what was wrong with Ash, but I didn't think that he was simply tired.  I glanced back at Ash and saw that he was bending down to pick up his backpack.  I saw him lift it up in the air.  That's when he fell over.

            "Ash!"  I shouted as I rushed to him.

            "Pika Pi!"  Pikachu yelled.  I saw Ash stir a little. 

            "Ash?"  I asked desperately.  I heard a muffled groan.  Ash sat up. 

            "Misty?"  He asked in a voice barely above a whisper.

            "I'm here."  I said in a determined voice. 

Ash looked up at me.  For a split second, we both stared into each other's eyes.  Then, Ash broke the stare and started to rise up to stand.  I stood up and put his arm on my shoulder. 

            "Lean on me." I ordered him.  For once, Ash actually accepted my help.  I helped him to his feet. 

            "What happened?"  Brock asked anxiously.  I turned to Ash, hoping he'd answer that question for me as well. 

            "I guess I tripped and fell."  Ash said hoarsely.  I saw Pikachu give Ash a suspicious look.  I caught myself staring him down, too.

            "Are you sure you tripped?"  Brock asked in a suspicious tone.

            "Of course I tripped!  What kind of question is that?  Do you think I just got weak and fell?"  Ash snapped.

            "Actually, I'm beginning to wonder."  Brock said in a low voice.

            "Well, that's just great."  Ash said in an angry tone.  Then he turned to me.  "You believe me, don't you Misty?"

            I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  Ash was depending on me for once.  I looked down at my feet.  I knew that Ash didn't trip.  He couldn't have.  I believed that he was having a time with that heavy backpack.  I looked up and stared right into Ash's eyes.  It was like he was silently begging me to say 'yes.'  I couldn't betray him. 

            'Well, he did say he was tired.' I thought to myself. 'Maybe, the backpack was too much for him.  Maybe he said he tripped to protect his pride, because he's too proud to admit that the backpack was too heavy.'

            "Yeah, I believe you." I said quietly as I looked down at my feet.  Ash smiled at me, but didn't say anything else and Brock just shook his head.

            "Come on, Olivine's waiting."  Ash said as he started back up the path.  I sighed and followed.  Brock wasn't too far behind me.

            By the time we got off that first hill, we had taken several 'rest stops' so that Ash could save some of his energy.  Ash was beginning to look worse and worse.  We were way behind schedule.  I don't know why we kept going when Ash felt the way he did, but we did.  We finally started up the second hill.

            "We're almost to Olivine."  Brock said happily.  "It's right on the other side of this mountain."

            "Great." I said.  I heard a lot of huffing and puffing behind me.  I turned to see Ash struggling up the path.  Pikachu stood nervously on Ash's shoulder.  I turned around and kept walking.

'Why is he having so much trouble getting up this hill?' I thought. 'He said he was tired.  Could it be something more than that?'  I silently hoped that it wasn't. 

We kept walking up the mountain.  I kept checking back to make sure that Ash was still with us.  I looked back, noticing that Ash was getting slower and slower.  He was barely making it up the path.  It was so unlike him.  Usually, Ash would run up those mountains.  He was so full of energy and life, but today he wasn't.  No, I was wrong.  Ash had been acting strange last night, as well.  He was so tired and quiet.  He went to bed at 7:00 p.m.  I was so worried.  I didn't know what was wrong with him. 

            "Pika pi!!!" I heard Pikachu cry.    I turned around to find that Ash was nowhere in sight.

            "Ash?!  Pikachu?!"  I called in a panicky voice.

            "Pikachu pi!"  I heard Pikachu yell.  I looked at Brock.  We both turned around and began running back down the path.  I was running faster than Brock, so I had some time on him. 

            "Ash?  Ash!"  I cried.

            "Pikachu pi!"  I heard Pikachu yell.  I ran until Ash and Pikachu came into sight.  I gasped when I saw Ash's body sprawled out on the ground.

            "Oh no!  Ash!"  I screamed.  I bent over Ash and looked at him.  His face was so pale, even whiter than before.  He was unconscious and his breathing was very shallow.  I put my hand on his forehead.

            "He's burning up!"  I cried as tears began forming in my eyes.  I began to panic.  Pikachu stood on over Ash.

            "Pikachu pi pika pikachu Pika pi chu!"  Pikachu shouted.

            "Ash, you must wake up!"  I cried.  "Wake up!  Please!"  I just stood there crying.

            Brock finally arrived to the scene.  He bent over Ash and felt his head. 

            "Ash's fever is dangerously high!  He needs medical help!"  Brock exclaimed.

            "Someone please help him!  I can't lose him."  I cried as I was going into hysterics.

            "Misty, calm down!  Ash can't be helped if you keep acting this way."  Brock said.  He put down his backpack and got a washcloth out of it.  "I need some cold water.  Misty, help me!"  Brock shouted.    

I don't know why, but I couldn't do anything.  I just sat there, crying.

            "Misty, come on!  Snap out of it!"  Brock cried. 

But I just sat there, crying.  I felt Brock slip my backpack off.  He reached inside of it and grabbed a pokeball. 

            "Pokeball, go!"  I heard Brock yell.  I saw Poliwhirl come out of its pokeball. 

            "Poliwhirl, use your water gun to wet this washcloth."  Brock ordered it.  Poliwhirl did what it was told and then Brock put the washcloth on Ash's head.

            "Poliwhirl, return!" Brock called as Poliwhirl went back into its pokeball.  Brock turned to me.  "Misty, we have to go get help.  Can you do that for me?"  I just looked at Brock as more tears poured down my face.

            "Somebody help him!  I can't lose him!"  I cried.  I just sat there, crying.  I then put my head on Ash's chest and cried some more.  I heard Brock sigh.

            "I'm going to get help.  I'll be right back."  Brock said.  "Onix, go!"  I heard Brock yell.  Onix came out of his pokeball.  Brock jumped on him.  "Someone needs to watch over Ash.  Surely you can do that."  Brock said as he left.

            I just lied there on top of Ash, crying.  Pikachu had tears in his eyes too.  Even Togepi looked deeply saddened.  "Ash, wake up!  Please be okay!"  I cried.  It didn't matter how I begged and pleaded, Ash still remained unconscious.  I cried and cried and cried.  I don't know what happened to me, I guess you could say I had a nervous breakdown.  I just couldn't take losing Ash like that.  I just kept crying and begging for Ash to wake up.  I noticed that Ash was having a difficult time breathing.        

            "Ash, please snap out of it."  I whispered.  I put my hand on Ash's hot head.  He was struggling to breathe.  I heard an ambulance in the distance.  More tears began streaming down my face.  This was serious.  I suddenly felt sick to my stomach when I realized that Ash might die.

            "Misty, help is on its way." Brock said as he returned with Onix.  That's when I saw the ambulance.  I watched in tears as I watched the paramedics put Ash on a stretcher.   They put him in the ambulance.  Pikachu jumped in as well.

            "We'll follow on my Onix."  Brock said to the driver.  The driver nodded and they drove off.  I began to cry some more.  I picked up Ash's backpack and held it close to me. 

            "Come on Misty, let's go."  Brock said sternly.  I just sat there crying.  Brock sighed and helped me on my feet.  He then, sat me on Onix and we were both off to the hospital.

            I heard Brock sigh of relief when we finally reached Olivine Memorial Hospital.  (A/N: I'm assuming that humans don't go to pokemon centers when they're sick.)

            "Onix, return."  Brock said as he recalled his pokemon.  I had cried the entire time, and I wasn't about to quit.  We finally made it to the ER.  We waited in the small waiting room.  The receptionist called Brock up to the desk to fill out some papers.  Then, Brock sat down.  I ceased crying when I saw Nurse Joy enter the room.  I watched as a tall doctor also entered the room.  The doctor went over to a girl who looked like she'd been crying on the other end of the room.  Nurse Joy walked up to us.

            "What's wrong with my friend?" Brock asked.

            "I'm not sure.  We're trying to stabilize him right now.  We should know after we run some tests."  Nurse Joy said in a worried tone.  I noticed that Pikachu was in Nurse Joy's arms.  He looked angry.  Nurse Joy looked down at him.

            "This little guy's not allowed back there right now, but I promise that he can see Ash as soon as the tests are over."  She said nervously.  I began to cry some more.  Tests couldn't be good.  Something must've been seriously wrong with Ash.

            "No!  This can't be happening!"  I heard the girl on the opposite side of the room scream.  "He can't be gone!  He can't!"  The doctor comforted the girl as she cried and they left the room.  I felt something inside of me snap.  That girl reminded me of myself.  What if Ash ended up dying like that girl's friend?  I began to cry even harder.

            "I won't lose Ash!  I won't!  I love him too much for him to leave me!  Please don't take him away!"  I sobbed.  I began kicking and screaming. 

            "Misty, calm down!"  Brock shouted.  He tried to hold me down, but I punched him.

            "Leave me alone!  I won't let him die!  Do you hear me?  I won't!"  I screamed.  I saw Nurse Joy run over to the desk.  I saw the receptionist hand her something.  I didn't care, though.  I just kept crying and crying.  Suddenly, I felt something stinging in my arm.  I turned around and looked at Nurse Joy, who had a syringe in her hand.  Then, everything went black.

            I opened my eyes and looked around me, groggily.  I was lying on a bed in a dark room.  I lied there and waited until my vision cleared.  Then, I sat up.  I was still in the hospital.

            "How did I end up here?"  I asked myself.  Then, I suddenly remembered the reason why I was here to begin with.  "Ash!" I gasped as I quickly got out of bed.  I could've kicked myself for forgetting about him. 

I ran out into the hall and went to the waiting room.  I saw Brock looking at some magazines.  Pikachu was in a chair next to Brock.  He looked so scared.  Togepi was fast asleep in the same chair.

            "Brock?!" I exclaimed.  Brock dropped the magazine and looked up at me.

            "Misty!  You're awake."  Brock replied.

            "What happened?" I asked.  That's when I noticed a band-aid on my arm.  Brock noticed it too.

            "You were pretty out of it and Nurse Joy injected you with something to relax you.  You were a danger to yourself and everyone around you."  Brock explained.

            "I feel so tired."  I yawned.  "How long have I been out?"

            "About four hours."  Brock answered.  "How do you feel now?"

            "Like I just recovered from a nervous breakdown."  I said sarcastically.

            "I'm glad to see that your sense of humor has returned," Brock smiled.

            "What about Ash?" I asked nervously.

            "The last I heard, they were still running tests.  That was two hours ago." Brock said, slightly frustrated.

            Then, the door opened and Nurse Joy entered the room.

            "Misty, you're awake." Nurse Joy smiled.

            "Yeah," I answered.

            "I'm sorry that I had to sedate you, but you were emotionally exhausted." Nurse Joy apologized kindly.

            "It's okay.  I don't know why I acted that way." I answered, and then I looked up at her.  "Do you have news about Ash?" I asked.

            Nurse Joy frowned.  I didn't like the look on her face.  She sighed.  "Ash has a viral infection."  Nurse Joy said in a very serious tone.  "It's pretty serious."

            "Will he be okay?" Brock asked worriedly.

            "We don't know."  Nurse Joy replied, "I'm not going to lie, most people don't survive this infection.  But we are doing everything we can to save Ash."

            "Isn't there a cure?" I asked with tears welling up in my eyes.

            "There are antibiotics, but they are mostly only effective before the high fever starts.  We've administered the antibiotics, hoping that it might not be too late." Nurse Joy answered.

            "Ash is strong, I'm sure he'll tough it out." Brock said with a slight reluctance in his voice.

            Nurse Joy smiled.  "That's the spirit!  Don't lose hope." She said. 

            A tear slid down my cheek.  I noticed that Pikachu was crying heavily for his fallen master.  I began to cry.

            "Misty, are you going to be okay?" Brock asked.  I looked up at him.

            "Well, I'm not going to go crazy again, if that's what you mean," I said, slightly angrily.  "I just don't want to lose him, that's all."

            "Of course not.  None of us do." Brock said as he gazed down at Pikachu.  I sighed heavily as I held Togepi a little tighter.

            "I've got some other patients to check up on." Nurse Joy said as she turned to walk away.  "Ash will be moved into the ICU, shortly.  I'll alert you with more information as soon as I get it." She smiled.

            "Hey Nurse Joy," I said as I grabbed her arm to stop her.  Nurse Joy turned and looked at me.

            "Yes, Misty?" Nurse Joy asked.

            I lowered my voice.  "About that girl who was in the waiting room a few hours ago…I was just wondering…" I trailed off as I looked down at my feet.  Nurse Joy got the message.

            "You want to know about her and her friend who passed away, right?" Nurse Joy asked, as if reading my mind.

            "Well, yeah." I said sadly.

            "Her name is Vanessa and she's a pokemon trainer." Nurse Joy explained.  "Her friend was a trainer named Parker.  Parker caught a virus and died.  He was Vanessa's very best friend, maybe more.  When they brought him in, it was too late.  It was devastating for poor Vanessa.  She loved him, but waited too long to tell him."  Nurse Joy was close to tears.  I was near tears too.

            "How old were they?"  I asked.

            "Vanessa is 13, and Parker was 12." Nurse Joy sighed.  "He was so young.  He had so many dreams.  He wanted to be a pokemon master.  It's very tragic." 

            "Is Vanessa still here?" I asked.

            "No," Nurse Joy answered, "The doctor who was comforting her sent her back to her home in Cherry Grove City."

            "Where was Parker from?" I asked sadly.

            "He was from Violet City." Nurse Joy answered sorrowfully.  I looked down at the floor, fighting back tears from thinking about my next question.  I gulped and began to speak.

            "Did he…Did he die, f-from the same thing that Ash has n-now?" I asked as my chin began to quiver.

            Nurse Joy closed her eyes.  "Yes," she answered very sincerely. 

            I began to cry. 

"Get a hold of yourself, Misty." Nurse Joy scolded.  "Ash hasn't died, yet.  You mustn't lose hope.  Have faith in him."

            "I nodded.  "I'm trying." I sobbed.  "I just don't want to be like Vanessa.  And I don't want Ash to become like Parker."

            "It may not happen like that." Nurse Joy said.  "Ash has already outlived Parker.  Please give him a chance."  Then, Nurse Joy turned and walked away.  I went to sit back down in my chair.  I silently sobbed as I began to think of the story that Nurse Joy had just told me.

            'Ash could die, like Parker.' I thought. 'And Vanessa, didn't get to tell Parker that she loved him.  I couldn't handle it if I never got to tell Ash how I felt.'  I cried until Nurse Joy came back.

            "My shift's almost over," Nurse Joy explained, "Would you like me to take Ash's pokemon to the Pokemon Center?  They'll be well taken care of."

            "Sure," Brock and I answered.  Nurse Joy looked over at Pikachu.

            "What about him?" Nurse Joy asked.

            "He stays." I answered solemnly.  "Pikachu will not leave Ash.  It would be a mistake if you tried to make him go.  He'd shock you.  Besides, he refuses to go inside his pokeball."

            "I see." Nurse Joy smiled.  Pikachu looked over at me in gratitude.  I grinned.  Brock and I spent the night in that waiting room.  The next morning, Nurse Joy returned.

            "How is Ash doing?"  I asked impatiently.

            "There's been no change."  Nurse Joy answered sadly.  "As long as Ash's fever remains high, then he's still in danger."

            I looked down at my feet sadly.

            "Hey, his fever might not have went down, but it hasn't gone up either.  There's still hope." Brock said optimistically.

            "Yeah," I said in a hopeful voice.

            "Nurse Joy smiled.  "I'm going to check up on him right now."  She said, and off she went.

            I sighed.  "Do you think he'll make it?"  I asked.

            "Ash is a very sick boy," Brock answered, "but he's also a fighter.  I don't know what the outcome will be, but I'm hoping he'll make it.  Ash always manages to surprise us.  This time may be no different."

            "I'm hoping for the same." I said sadly.  I took a deep breath.  "I don't think I'd survive, if I'd lost him."

            Brock put his hand on my shoulder.  "It would take a toll on us all." He said sadly, "I've doubted him in some of those matches.  I'd think he made a foolish mistake, or that he just didn't have what it took.   In every match that I would think like that, Ash would always come out on top.  And if he did lose, he'd just try again until he succeeded.  You have to admire that guy's determination.  He has the potential to be something great."

            I looked over at Brock.  "You're wrong, you know."  I answered, "He already is something great."

            Brock smiled.  "You've got that right."  He said happily.  "I think he'd be pretty surprised if he heard you defending him right now."

            "Why?"  I snapped, and then I saw the look on Brock's face.  "I am tough on him, aren't I?" I said, slightly hurt.

            Brock smirked.  "You give him a hard time because you like him."

            "No," I said as I closed my eyes, "I love him."

            Brock laughed.  "So you finally admit it to someone other than yourself."

            I blushed.  "You're lucky that I don't have my mallet handy."  I groaned.

            Brock laughed nervously, but straightened up when Joy returned. 

            "How would you like to see Ash?"  Nurse Joy asked.

            "Sure!"  Brock and I exclaimed. 

            "Pika, pika!"  Pikachu said happily. 

            "Okay.  Follow me." Nurse Joy said and we followed her to Ash's room.  Nurse Joy turned around and looked at us.  "You can only stay for fifteen minutes." She said.  Then we walked inside.

            I gasped when I saw him.  He looked terrible.  The way he looked yesterday when he collapsed was nothing compared to right now.  He was so white, like a sheep.  His cheeks were blood red.  His breathing was still very shallow.  He looked so frail, like he might break if you touched him.  He looked asleep, but he kept moaning.  He had an ice pack on his head.  He looked like every bone in his body ached.  There were tubes running through his arm and nose.  The sound of the heart monitor beeped throughout the room.    His heart was beating at an irregular pace.  I touched his face.  Ash moaned even more.  I took my hand away.  He was so hot.  He just kept moaning.

            "Oh, Brock.  He's in so much pain."  I whispered as tears ran down my cheeks.  

            "Be strong." Brock said.  Pikachu crawled up on the bed. 

            "Pika pi!  Pikachu pika chupi."  Pikachu said sadly.  

            "I wish I knew what he was saying." Brock whispered.

            "Only Ash would know the answer to that." I said as my voice broke.  I walked over and took Ash's hand.  It was cold as ice.  It sent chills down my spine.

            "Ash, you've got to fight this."  I said with fortitude in my voice.  "You've got to live in order to be a pokemon master.  Please, Ash.  I don't want anything to happen to you."  I sobbed.

            Ash's moaning got softer until he finally stopped.  I heard someone gasp.  I turned around to find Nurse Joy.

            "What is it?" I panicked.

            "Ash hasn't calmed down since we stabilized him yesterday.  I think he might be responding to you." Nurse Joy said in awe.

            "I looked down Ash's distressed face.  "Really?" I whispered.

            "Yes." Said Nurse Joy.  "Having visitors could make a positive effect on the boy.  I'm going to talk to the doctor about letting you guys come in here more often."  Nurse Joy smiled. 

I smiled and took the seat next to Ash's bed.  Brock took the seat next to the door.  I'd handed Togepi over to Brock before we entered the ICU, so Togepi was with him.  Pikachu lied at Ash's side on the bed.  Pikachu guarded Ash like an ursaring guarding its cubs.  I grabbed Ash's hand again.  It was still cold as ice.  I caressed Ash's head.

            "Ash, you'd better get well soon.  You just have to." I frowned.

            "That's right, Ash.  We believe in you.  We know you can beat it.  You've defeated everything that's stood in your path before.  I expect that this time won't be any different." Brock said with a smile on his face.

            "Pika pi, pikachu chu pika.  Pikachu pika pika chu." Pikachu explained.

            "I don't know what Pikachu's saying, but I know you do, Ash.  I know you're hearing us.  We all want you to pull through." I said as tears rushed down my cheeks.

            "Everyone, the visit's over." Nurse Joy frowned.

            Pikachu immediately protested.  Brock sighed.  "Already?"  I whined.

            "I'm sorry.  Tomorrow, I'm going to get the doctor's consent on letting you all visit Ash a whole lot more."  Nurse Joy explained.

            "Can't we speak to the doctor, now?"  I asked.

            Nurse Joy sighed.  "He's in surgery with another patient right now.  I probably won't speak to him until tomorrow."

            "Nurse Joy, please let at least Misty stay a little longer.  Ash does better with her in the room."  Brock pleaded.

            Nurse Joy sighed.  "Don't get caught." She warned.  "This hospital could have my head for letting you do this."

            "You won't regret it."  I said happily.

            Brock took Togepi and a reluctant Pikachu with him as he headed out the door.

            "Pikachu pi, pika pika pikachu." Pikachu said to me as he left.

            "Don't worry, Pikachu.  I'll take care of him.  I promise." I winked.  Pikachu nodded.

            "Misty, bring him back to us."  Brock said in low voice as he left.

            "I'm no miracle worker." I said under my breath.

            I squeezed Ash's hand.  "Come back to us."  I whispered.  "Come back to me."

            Ash wouldn't wake.  I put my head down on his chest.  "You have to make it, Ash."  I sobbed quietly.  "I'm so sorry."  Then I went to sleep.

            I felt someone tug at my shoulder.  At first, I shrugged it off.  Then, I remembered.

            "Ash!"  I exclaimed as I rose up, hoping that Ash had awakened.  My face fell when I saw that he was still asleep.  I looked behind me to find a tall young man in scrubs and a white jacket standing over me.

            "Who are you?"  I asked, slightly startled.

            "That's my question."  The man said in a frustrated manner.

            I got a good look at him.  "You're the doctor!"  I exclaimed.

            "Dr. Benjamin Cooper, to be more precise.  Now who might you be and why are you in the ICU at three in the morning with my patient?"  The man asked impatiently.

            "The name's Misty Kasumi Waterflower and I'm the Cerulean Gym Leader."  I retorted.  "And your patient is my best friend." 

            "That explains a few things, but why are you here?"  Dr. Cooper asked angrily.

            I sighed.  I didn't want to get Nurse Joy in trouble.  "Seeing Ash would be good…for the both of us." I answered.

            "You shouldn't be here."  Dr. Cooper said as he took out his stethoscope to listen to Ash's heart.

            "Fine."  I said.  I caressed Ash's hair for a few seconds and then I let go.  Ash immediately began to moan.

            "Sit back down, Misty.  Touch him again."  Dr. Cooper commanded, a bit shocked that his patient would have such a reaction to his visitor's leaving.

            I grabbed Ash's cold hand and tried to warm it.  Ash immediately stopped moaning.

            "Maybe you are good for him."  Dr. Cooper said, astonished.

            I smiled.  "He's good for me, too.  I can't lose him." I wept.  Dr. Cooper scribbled on the clipboard and then bent down to my level.

            "I suppose Joy let you stay." Dr. Cooper inquired.

            "Please don't be angry at her." I begged.  Dr. Cooper looked down at his feet.

            "I can be angry at a lot of things, but never Nurse Joy." Dr. Cooper smiled.

            I smiled weakly.  "You were the doctor that helped Vanessa."  I replied.

            "You know that girl?" Dr. Cooper asked.

            "I've heard about her." I answered.  "I was in the waiting room when you took her home.  That was very nice of you."  I said, trying to make conversation.

            "I felt bad for her.  She really cared about that boy."  Dr. Cooper answered.

            "It's very sad." I answered.  "I wonder if Ash will end up like Parker."

            "Don't say things like that." Dr. Cooper snapped.  "Parker was much weaker than Ash.  If you lose faith, then Ash may very well die."

            "How do you know?!" I asked angrily.  Dr. Cooper looked down at his feet.

            "I'm a doctor.  I see this happen all the time." He said, slowly.  "Vanessa didn't actually think that Parker would make it, although his death was still a shock to her.  Parker was in cardiac arrest when they brought him in.  And I admit that I lost faith myself."

            "In your own patient?"  I asked, suspiciously.

            "No," answered Dr. Parker, "In my wife."

            "You're wife?"  I asked, confused.

            "Yes," Dr. Parker nodded, "I lost my wife to the same virus, five years ago.  I didn't think she'd survive."

            "Oh," I said as tears streamed down my face.  I glanced at Ash.  I guess Dr. Cooper saw the dread in my face, because he smiled and put his arm on my shoulder.

            "Don't worry," He assured me, "There were no antibiotics for this virus, back then.  Medicine has drastically changed in the last five years."

            "And Parker?" I asked.

            "Parker wasn't very strong to begin with." Dr. Cooper replied.  "Parker waited too long."

            "We got Ash here in time?" I asked, hopeful.

            "Well, he's still alive, isn't he?"  Dr. Cooper answered.  "Ash's immunity is definitely strong.  You've got to have some faith in him."

            Then, Dr. Cooper stood up and walked out into the hall.  "Keep trying to reach him, Misty.  He might just pull through."  He smiled as he left.

            I bent over Ash and kissed him on the cheek.  "I'm so very sorry, Ash.  It's all my fault." I cried as I fell asleep in the chair.

            That morning, I woke up to find Nurse Joy taking Ash's vital signs.  It was about 8:00 A.M. 

            "Nurse Joy?" I asked, a little surprised to see her.

            "Oh, hi Misty.  Have a good sleep?"  She asked as she took Ash's blood pressure.

            "No, not really." I yawned.  I noticed that I was still holding Ash's hand.  I let go to stretch.  Ash immediately began to groan in pain.

            "Can't you give him something?"  I asked worriedly.

            "There's only so much pain medication that we can give him, Misty." Nurse Joy answered.  I grabbed Ash's cold hand again.  I played with Ash's hair with my other hand.  Ash's moans became softer until he stopped.

            "How is he?" I asked.

            "No change." Nurse Joy answered.  "The fever is still as high as ever.  It hasn't gone down, but it hasn't went up either."

            I sighed.  "I've put all my faith in him.  He must get well."  I said in a low voice.

            "Count me in as his cheering section, too.  I talked to Dr. Cooper earlier."  Nurse Joy declared.

            "What did he say?" I asked.

            "He said that he already spoke with you.  He agrees that visitation would be wonderful for Ash." Nurse Joy answered happily.

            "Good," I answered.  Then, Nurse Joy left the room.  I kissed Ash on the forehead.

            "Ash, I know you can get through this." I cried.  I watched as Ash slept restlessly.  He still had that pained expression on his face. 

            "I'm sorry Ash.  I really let you down." I cried.  "It's my fault that you're like this.  When Brock was trying to help you, I just stood there and cried like a helpless child.  I couldn't do anything to help you.  I love you so much."  I sobbed sadly.

            "Misty, are you okay?"  I heard a familiar voice.  I cleared my voice and wiped the tears from my face.

            "Brock, when did you get here?" I asked.

            "We spent the night in the waiting room.  He hasn't changed, huh?" Brock asked dully.

            "No." I sighed. 

Pikachu went over to Ash and hugged his arm.  Brock handed me Togepi.  I hugged him. 

"Come on, Misty.  Let's go to the cafeteria and get some food." Brock suggested.

            "You go on.  I'm staying with Ash."  I answered.  Brock shot me a look.  "Bring me a donut or something." I said to insure Brock that I wasn't starving for Ash.

            Brock took Pikachu and Togepi and left the room.  I walked back over to my chair and sat down.

            "Come back to me, Ash.  I love you too much to let you die." I cried.  "If you died, my whole life would be over." 

            I suddenly noticed that Ash was moaning again.  I squeezed his cold hand.  Unlike the other times, Ash kept moaning.

            "Ash?"  I asked, panicking.  Ash just kept moaning.  I placed my hand on Ash's forehead and gasped.  He was even hotter than before.  He suddenly began tossing and turning.

            "Ash!  Please hold on!"  I pleaded as I reached over and pushed the emergency button above Ash's bed.  Nurse Joy immediately came running into the room.

            "What's happened?"  Nurse Joy asked, impatiently.

            "I think his fever's shot up!" I exclaimed through my tears.

Nurse Joy placed her hand on Ash's head and gasped.

            "I'm going to get some medicine for this right now."  Nurse Joy said as she left the room and headed toward the nurse's station.

            I went back to Ash.  This wasn't good.  Ash's condition was worsening. 

            "Ash, please fight!  I beg of you!" I cried.  Suddenly, Ash stopped tossing and turning.  He went silent.  I heard a bunch of beeps and turned to look at the heart monitor.  It was beeping so fast, but then it flat-lined.  My mouth dropped to the floor. 

            "Ash?  Ash!"  I shouted.  I put my head on his chest.  Ash wasn't breathing and his heart rate has come to a halt.  "No Ash!"  I sobbed.

            I ran out into the hall.  "Someone, please help!"  I shouted. 

Suddenly, Nurse Joy and Dr. Cooper rushed passed me.

            "He's gone into cardiac arrest!" Dr. Cooper exclaimed.  Then, they started administering CPR.  After one minute, there was still no response.  I began to cry.  I watched as they prepared to shock his heart back to life. 

            "Ready, and clear!"  Nurse Joy shouted as Ash's body jumped.  I closed my eyes.  They must've done it to him three or four times.

            "Ash, come back to me!"  I screamed.  A tall man escorted me out of the room.

            "You can't go back in there." He said.  He must've been a security guard or something.  He took me back to the waiting room.  I saw Brock rush up to us.

            "Take your friend." He said.  Brock took me to sit down and the man disappeared behind the doors leading back to the ICU. 

            "Misty…" Brock's voice trailed off.

            "We're losing him, Brock.  He's in cardiac arrest!"  I shouted.  I actually saw a few tears run down Brock's cheeks.

            Pikachu looked like he was in a state of shock.  About five minutes later, Nurse Joy entered the room.  I wouldn't even look at her.  I was afraid of what she was about to say.

            "Ash has been stabilized."  She said in an exhausted voice.

            I looked up.  "Stabilized?  He's alive?"  I asked.

            "Yes.  We almost lost him.  We were about to give up hope when he responded."  Nurse Joy answered.

            "Looks like Ash has proved us wrong again." Brock smirked.

            "He isn't out of the woods, though.  His fever has risen, and he's in a coma."  Nurse Joy said gravely.

            "Oh no!"  I sobbed.

            Brock looked down at his feet.  "Can we see him?"  He asked.

            "Not right now.  Dr. Cooper is still examining him."  Nurse Joy said sadly.  Then, she walked away.

            "Oh Brock.  I wish he'd just get better." I cried. 

            "I know, but Ash is tough.  He's already proven that." Brock answered.

            I sighed.  This was a nightmare.  Nothing like the wonderful dream that I had days ago.  I felt Brock tap me on the shoulder.  I looked at him.

            "Don't you think we should call Mrs. Ketchum about this?" Brock asked.

            "Yeah." I said dryly.  We walked over to a payphone to make the call.  Brock inserted some coins and began to dial.  Then, he hung up.

            "What are you doing?" I asked.

            "The phone's dead." Brock said grimly.  We walked over to the receptionist.

            "Can we use your phone, miss?" Brock asked.

            "Sorry, but every phone within a thirty mile distance is dead.  Who knows when they'll come back on."  She replied.

            "Thanks anyway." Brock said in a disappointed tone.

            "If only someone had a cell phone." I groaned.  Brock sighed.  We went back to sit down.

            We waited for two hours.  Then, Dr. Cooper walked into the room.  "One of you may go see Ash." He said calmly.

            Brock agreed that I should go.  Even Pikachu agreed.  So I went.  When I got there, I gasped.  Ash looked even worse.  I sat down.  Ash wasn't moaning now.  He was even whiter than before.  His cheeks were as red as they could get.  Ash still had the look of pain on his face.  I picked up Ash's hand and held it tight.

            "Ash, please pull through."  I begged.  "I want to tell you how I feel.  I want to see you become a pokemon master.  I'm so sorry about all of this, but you must make it.  If you die, then I'll die too.  I refuse to go on living without you."

            I cried.  I wasn't even sure if Ash was listening.  I felt so helpless.  Someone had always been there to save him whether it was Pikachu, Charizard, Mew, pokemon tears, Lugia, or even me.  This was different, though.  I couldn't just jump in the water to rescue him.  Pokemon tears couldn't bring him back from the death he suffered as stone.  He wasn't drowning and there was no stone.  He was fading before my very eyes because of a dumb virus.

            I squeezed Ash's icy hand.  "I hate to see you suffering.  Fight, Ash.  Win this one.  You can't let fate defeat you like this.  This isn't how it's supposed to be."  I sobbed.  I watched over Ash's comatose body until nightfall.  Then, Nurse Joy came into the room.

            "I wish Ash would respond to the antibiotics.  If he would, then his fever would go down and he could begin to heal." Nurse Joy sighed.

            I felt myself squeeze Ash's hand even tighter.  "What will happen if his fever remains high?"  I asked, already knowing the answer.

            "He'll die." Nurse Joy answered.  I sighed.

            "Ash Ketchum still owes me a bike.  So, he's not going to die on me." I grinned through my tears.

            Nurse Joy smiled, although a little confused.  I smirked.

            "Ask Brock to tell you about the 'bike story.'  He'll explain and then you'll understand." I replied.

            "I'll do that." Nurse Joy said with curiosity written all over her face.  Then, Nurse Joy was off.

            I gave Ash's hand a final squeeze.  "I will not let you give up without a fight." I whispered as I kissed Ash on the cheek.  Then, I fell asleep.

            I awoke after a terrible nightmare that morning.  I dreamed that Ash had died and I committed suicide shortly after.  I had tears streaming down my face.  I looked at Ash's face.  Something was different about it.  He was still very pale, but the red in his cheeks were gone.  Beads of sweat rolled down his face.  Panic etched across my face.  Was he dead? 

I realized I was still holding his hand, so I let go.  It took me that long to realize that I wasn't holding Ash's hand at all.  He was gripping mine! I looked at Ash's face with hope.  Suddenly, I saw a pair of sleepy amber eyes looking straight at me.

"Ash!" I exclaimed happily.  "Ash, you're awake!"  I saw Ash smile weakly at me, and then he began falling back into a deep sleep.  I wouldn't dare try to wake him.  There was something else about Ash's hand that morning.  It was warm.  I smiled as he let go.  I caressed his forehead.  He was as cool as a cucumber.  I rushed to get Nurse Joy. 

            Nurse Joy checked Ash's vital signs and smiled.  "He's drastically improved.  His fever's broken.  It's a miracle!"  She cried.  I jumped up in the air.  Then, I bent over Ash and gave him a quick peck on the lips.  Then, Dr. Cooper came in and insisted on examining him some more, to be on the safe side.

            I walked outside with tears in my eyes.  Brock, Togepi, and Pikachu gathered around me.

            "What is it, Misty?" Brock asked, worriedly.

            "Ash's fever has broken.  He woke up for a minute this morning and smiled straight at me.  I think he's going to be okay!"  I cried happily.

"Alright!" Brock shouted. We all celebrated.

            Dr. Cooper came out to the waiting room about two hours later. 

            "I think that Ash should make a full recovery after a lot of rest." He said happily.

            I cried tears of joy.  "Can I see him?"  I asked.

            "Sure, but Ash needs rest.  Try to be quiet.  Ash will be in a deep sleep for a while.  We call it the 'healing sleep.'  We're moving him into a recovery room right now, so wait fifteen minutes okay?"  Dr. Cooper asked.

            "Okay." We all exclaimed. 

            When we got to the room, I smiled.  Most of the tubes were gone except for the standard IV that ran through his arm.  Ash's face no longer looked pained.  He looked calm for the first time in days.  He really did look like an angel.  A little color was already returning to his face.  He was no longer struggling to breathe.  The heart monitor indicated a healthy heartbeat. He was no longer tossing and turning. I cried happily

            "Way to go Ash.  I knew you could beat it." Brock whispered.

            "Yeah, you're the champ.  No doubt about it."  I said softly.

            "Pika pi, pikachu.  Pikachu pi pika pika chu pi."  Pikachu whispered.

            "To-ge-to-ge-piii!"  Togepi said happily.  I sighed happily.

            I stayed by Ash's side for the next three days.  I would talk, sing, and read to him during the day.  At night, I'd lay my head on his chest and fall asleep.  I felt someone playing with my hair on the third morning.  I rose up, surprised.  I immediately looked into the amber eyes of the one I loved more than anything on earth.

            "Ash!  You're awake." I smiled.

            Ash flashed me a smile right back.  The color had returned to his face.  He looked a little thin, but much stronger than he had in a whole week.

            "Misty…" Ash started with a hoarse voice, but then began to cough.  I ran over and got him a glass of water.  Ash drank up.

            "It's been a long time since you've spoken," I explained, "that's why you got choked up."

            Ash smiled.  "Thanks."  He said after his voice had finally cleared.

            "No problem."  I said kindly.

            "I can't believe you're okay!"  I exclaimed. 

            "Yeah…what happened?"  Ash asked.

            "You don't remember?"  I asked.

            Ash blinked.  "I remember pain.  It felt awful.  And voices, I remember voices."  He said.

            My face fell.  Poor Ash remembered the pain he was in.  I was hoping he wouldn't remember.  Ash must've seen my face because he smiled.

            "I don't hurt like that now." Ash said, trying to cheer me up.

            "You were very sick.  You almost didn't make it."  I said with a hint of sadness in my voice.

            "What hospital are we in?"  Ash asked, trying to change the subject.

            "Olivine Memorial."  I answered.

            "Olivine?  Cool!  We made it to Olivine City!  I can't wait to challenge that gym leader." Ash exclaimed.

            I sweat-dropped.  It was hard to believe that three days ago, Ash was on the verge of dying and now he was talking about having a match.  I smiled.  Things were getting back to normal.

            "Ash, I'm glad to see that you're awake.  Are you sure you feel okay?"  I asked.

            "I'm a little sore, but other than that: I'm fine!"  Ash said happily.  "But what about you?"

            "Me?  What about me?"  I asked.

            "You look like you haven't slept much." Ash frowned.

            I felt like I was going to melt.  Ash was the one who was in the hospital and he was asking me how I was. 

            That's when Nurse Joy came in.  "Ash, you're awake!"  Nurse Joy exclaimed.

            "Yeah, I am.  When do I get out of here?  I need to challenge Jasmine."  Ash asked happily.

            "Not until you've gained back all of your strength."  Nurse Joy advised.

            "Awe, man.  I feel strong now," Ash replied as he flexed his arm.  Joy and I both laughed.

            Then, Brock, Pikachu, and Togepi entered the room.

            "Pika pi!"  Pikachu shrieked as he jumped in Ash's arms.

            "Pikachu!"  Ash laughed happily.  The two embraced for the longest time. 

            "Ash!"  Brock shouted happily.

            "Hey Brock.  Have you been staying out of trouble?"  Ash asked.

            "Of course, man.  Don't I always?"  Brock asked mischievously.

            "Do you really want me to answer that?" Ash asked.  Brock began to laugh.

            Togepi jumped out of Brock's arms and made his way up to the Ash's bed.  He hugged him.

            "Hey Togepi!  I hear you're mom's been taking great care of me." Ash smiled.

            I was a little shocked that Ash said that to me. 'Yeah, it's the least you can do after nearly letting him die because of your cowardice.' I heard a voice in the back of my head say.  I frowned.

I began to walk out the door.

            "Hey Misty…where are ya going?" Ash asked.

            I turned and smiled.  "I just need to take a walk.  I'll be right back."  I said happily.

            "Well…okay."  Ash replied.

            I turned and ran out of the hospital.  I just couldn't get over the way I reacted when Ash first got sick.  My stomach was grumbling, so I decided to head to the pokemon center.

            I got some breakfast and then walked up to the desk.  "Nurse Joy, can I have Ash's pokemon?"  I asked.

            "Yes, you may."  Nurse Joy smiled.  She handed them to me.  "They're all ready for battle."

            "Thanks."  I smiled.

            "My sister told me about Ash's miraculous recovery.  I'm so happy for him."  Nurse Joy said happily.

            "Your sister?"  I asked, somewhat trailing off.

            "Yes, the Nurse Joy that works at Olivine Memorial is my sister."  Nurse Joy said happily.

            "I guess I should've known."  I said, silently cursing myself for my ignorance.

            I was about to cry as I walked back to Olivine Memorial.  I was happy that Ash was okay, but I was angry with myself for not helping him.  I went inside the hospital and got on the elevator.  I went back to Ash's room.

            "Hey Mist!  You're back."  Ash said happily. 

            "Yeah," I said as I fought back tears.

            Ash saw me.  His smile faded.  He shot me a look that said 'what's wrong?'

            "I went to the pokemon center and got your pokemon."  I said as I tried to avoid Ash's silent question.

            "Gee, thanks Misty!  You didn't have to do that."  Ash said happily.  I placed his pokeballs in his jacket pockets folded neatly in a drawer on the night desk.

            I gazed at the floor.  I could no longer hold back tears.

            "Misty?  What's wrong?"  Ash asked, with a very concerned tone.

            Brock eyed me suspiciously.  "Hey Pikachu, Togepi: let's go get something to eat." Brock said.  He gathered up Togepi.  Pikachu smiled at Ash and followed Brock out the door.  Now, it was just Ash and me.

            "Misty, what's wrong?"  Ash repeated.

            "It's just that…I was so scared!"  I cried as I sat down in the chair.  "I nearly lost you." 

            "It's okay, Mist.  I'm fine now, and I have no intention of leaving."  Ash smiled as he reached for my hand.  I let him take it and squeeze it.  His hands were so warm.

            I blushed, embarrassed for having him see me cry.  I wiped my tears with my other hand.  Ash saw right through me. 

            "Misty, tell me what's on your mind.  It's no big deal that you're crying.  Just tell me so I can help you."  Ash said, "You're my best friend.  I trust you with my life.  I hope you trust me with yours."

            "Of course I do.  But you shouldn't trust me with yours."  I said sadly.

            "Why not?"  Ash asked.

            I drew in a breath.  "Because it's all my fault!"  I cried.

            "What?  How?"  Ash asked.  "I was sick, Mist.  It wasn't anyone's fault.  It just happened."

            "That's not what I mean!"  I shouted.  "When you collapsed that day on the second mountain, I panicked.  Brock tried to get me to help you, but I just stood there and cried like a helpless baby.  Brock's the only reason why you're still here.  If you would have died there, it would've been my fault."

            Ash motioned for me to come over to his bed.  I walked over there slowly and sat on the bed. 

            "It's not you're fault, Misty.  You panicked and it was an instinct.  And if I had died there, then it wouldn't have been your fault.  I could never blame you for something like that."  Ash said kindly.

            "But you never would've stood there and cried.  You would have done something about it.  I can't believe I would have just stood there and let you suffer.  You were inches away from death."  I cried.

            "I'm not that brave."  Ash said as he put his hand on my shoulder.  "Don't you remember how I panicked when I found out that I was the Chosen One?  It was you who helped me become stronger for it because you're support always helps me get through.  And I know that you wouldn't just let me die.  You're a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for.  You were just scared, and that's understandable."

            "But I knew that something was wrong with you that day.  I should've done something about it then."  I sobbed.

            "But Misty, if my memory serves me correctly; you did try to stop me.  You kept asking if I was okay, and you tried to talk me out of going to Olivine that day.  You wanted me to rest, remember?"  Ash asked with those amber eyes staring into mine.

            "I remember."  I said.  "But you kept saying that you were only tired.  Why'd you do that?"  I asked.

            "Because I honestly thought I was.  I didn't think I was really sick.  I just thought that I was really tired."  Ash explained.  "Anyway, I'm sorry I scared you like that."

            "Oh Ash!"  I cried as I buried my head in his chest.  I felt him embrace me in his strong arms. 

"It's okay, Misty.  Just let it all out."  Ash said as he patted me on the back.  I cried for a long time.  Then I looked into his eyes.

            "Do you have something else to say to me?"  Ash asked.  I looked him in the eyes.  It was now or never.  I took a deep breath.

            "Yes, I do."  I answered.  Ash looked at me with the most sincere look on his face.  He patiently waited for me to talk.

            "Ash, I don't know how to say this, but I've been having this feeling for a long time, now."  I said nervously. 

            "A feeling?  What kind of feeling?"  Ash asked.  I gulped.  I could feel myself blushing.  This wasn't going to be easy.

            "A feeling I've had since the first day I met you."  I answered.  Then I looked down at the floor.  I couldn't go through with it.  What if Ash laughed or worse?  What if I confused him?  What if he shut me out of his life?  What if he rejected me?  I couldn't bare the pain.  I felt Ash put his arm on my shoulder.  I looked up at him and was immediately hypnotized by his gorgeous amber eyes.

            "Go on."  Ash said.  I was afraid.  Ash was urging me to continue.  I saw him smile.  That's when I remembered: Ash had told me that I was a strong person.  If he believed in me that much, then how could I let him down?  I definitely didn't want to be a coward again.  I drew in a breath and gathered all of my courage.

            "Ash, this feeling…" I trailed off as tears filled my eyes.

            "Misty, just spit it out. I'm sure you'd feel better if you did."  Ash said with that cute little grin on his face.  That was it.  I couldn't hold it in any longer.  I took Ash's advice.

            "Ash, I love you, okay?!"  I blurted out.  "I've loved you since the day we met.  This feeling just keeps eating at my soul.  I love you Ash Ketchum, please don't hate me for it."  I began to cry.

            I tried to read the expression on Ash's face.  I couldn't tell if he was shocked or confused.  I sighed.  'Maybe it was a mistake to tell him' I thought.

            Ash closed his eyes.  Then, he opened them and stared into my eyes.

            "Really?"  Ash asked after a minute's peace.  I saw his face turn as red as a beet. 

            "Yes."  I answered.  "It's not something I would joke about."

            "Then it wasn't just a dream…" Ash trailed off.

            "What do you mean?"  I asked.

            "Well, remember when I said that I heard voices?"  Ash asked.  I nodded.

            "Well, I heard you say that you loved me, quite a few times."  Ash blushed.

            "Y-you did?"  I stuttered.

            "Yeah," Ash said shyly.  I looked down at my feet.

            "So you've felt this way since we first met?"  Ash asked.

            "Yeah, I have.  I always knew there was something special about you."  I said softly.

            "That's too bad."  Ash said sadly.  I felt my heart sink.  My face fell.  More tears began to spill over in my face.

            "I understand," I replied sadly. 

            "Yeah, it's too bad that it took me a little longer to have that feeling too."  Ash explained with a smile.  My eyes popped out of my head.

            "W-what did you say?"  I asked, thinking that my ears were deceiving me.

            "I guess I'm trying to say that I feel the same way you do."  Ash said happily.

            "Really?!"  I exclaimed.

            Ash blushed.  "Yeah."  He answered.

            I was shocked.  "Since when?"  I asked.

            "I think it was when we were in Lavender Town.  I saw you that you were worried about me.  That's when I figured that you didn't hate me."

            "I could never hate you."  I cried.  "I know I give you a hard time, Ash, but…"

            Ash put his finger on my lips.  "Shhh.  I understand."  He said happily.  Then his face fell.

            "It must've been so hard for you to keep those emotions all bottled up inside for so long.  I think you're really brave to tell me this."  Ash said with admiration in his voice.

            "Maybe, but it's because you told me that I was strong."  I blushed.  Then, our heads moved closer together.

            "I really do love you, Ash."  I whispered.

            "I really love you too, Mist."  Ash whispered back.  Then, we joined in for a passionate kiss.  That's when we heard the door open.

            "Whoa, we should leave you two alone more often."  I heard Brock mumble.

            "Pika pi!  Pikachu pi!"  I heard Pikachu exclaim happily.

            "To-ge-To-ge-piii!"  I heard Togepi shout with glee.

            Ash and I blushed.

            "I knew it!  I knew you guys would spill your feelings for each other eventually!"  Brock exclaimed happily.  "Yes!  They're finally together.  Tracey owes me $50."

            "You made a bet about us getting together?"  Ash sweat-dropped.

            "You've got that right!"  Brock declared happily.

            I got out my mallet and hit him in the head.  "I think that was well-deserved."  I growled.  Ash and Pikachu laughed.  I felt Ash put his arm around me.  Then, I saw him look around.

            "Where's my mom?"  Ash asked.

            "The phones are dead within the thirty-mile radius.  We couldn't contact your mom.  I'm sorry."  I answered.  Ash smiled a little.

            "It's okay.  I don't want to worry my mom, anyway."  Ash answered cheerfully.  I kissed him on the cheek.

            "Awww, how sweet."  Brock teased.

            "Do you want pulled by the ears?"  I asked angrily.

            "No."  Brock said nervously as he put his hands around his ears to guard them.

            Nurse Joy walked into the room.  "How are you doing, Ash?"  She asked.

            "I'm great."  Ash answered.

            "My, Nurse Joy…How are you doing?"  Brock asked.  I noticed that this was the first time that Brock had flirted with Nurse Joy since we got here.

            "I'm, umm, okay."  Nurse Joy answered nervously.

            "Can you help me?"  Brock asked.

            "Uh, sure.  Helping people is my job."  Nurse Joy said as calmly as she could.

            "Can you help me because I'm falling in love with you."  Brock said as he took Joy's hand.

            Nurse Joy and Ash both sweat-dropped.  I got out my trusty mallet and whammed him in the head.  Then, I dragged him away by the ears.  Ash couldn't contain himself from laughing.  Nurse Joy stared at us like we were weird.

            Ash spent another week in the hospital.  Then, he was discharged.  He made a full recovery.  It was as if nothing had ever happened.  Dr. Cooper and Nurse Joy escorted us out of the hospital and told us 'farewell.'

            Ash and I walked into the parking lot hand -in -hand.  Then, Ash broke free of holding hands with me and began running around as fast as he could.  Pikachu started chasing him.  He was laughing and running as if nothing had ever happened.

            "It's good to see Ash so energetic again."  Brock commented.

            "Yeah, I know."  I said happily.  Then, Ash came up to me and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

            "I'm finally going to face Jasmine."  Ash said as his smiles turned into that familiar look of determination that he always wore right before a battle.

            "We're with you."  Brock and I said together.  Pikachu took his place on Ash's shoulder.  Ash put his arm around me.

            "I'll win this one for you."  Ash whispered into my ear.

            "Thanks," I whispered back to him.  Then, I gave him a small peck on the lips.  Then, we headed on toward the Olivine Gym.  Maybe the way we got together wasn't exactly the way I'd dreamed about, but the reality was much sweeter to me.

The End

Jessie:   Hey, wait a sec!  Why weren't we in this story?

James:  Yes, I think we deserve an explanation.

Sailor Epyon:            I'm sorry, guys.  I just now realized that I forgot all about you.

Meowth:  Ya really disappoint me, Epyon.

Jessie & James:  We were forgotten again.  That's the story of our lives.

Sailor Epyon:  Don't worry.  You're going to be in my next story, I promise.

All 3 TR members:  We'd better be!

Sailor Epyon: Yes, I've got big plans for you.  ~Snickers evilly~

A/NSo how was it?  I'm sorry that it's so long.  I'm beginning to

          think that I should've chapterized it.  I know that the "Ash gets

          sick" concept has been used so many times, but this story really

          helped cure me of writer's block for another story I'm working

          on right now.  It'll be called "Haunted Destiny" or something

          like that, so look for it sometime next month.  It's original, action-

          packed, and AAMR.  (At least, I hope it's original.)  Anyway, I was

          typing this while I was listening to "Miracles Happen" on TV the

          other day.  I thought it was very appropriate.  Anyway, remember

          to R&R!!!  Oh, and if you like AAML fluff, check out: "I Need

          You."  It's a song fic and the first pokemon fic that I ever wrote.

          Sayonara, peeps!!! ^_^