Okay, here is the epilogue. I'm going to start writing something else now, unrelated to these two stories, with a little more action (hopefully.) Oh yeah, thanks to all you wonderful people who reviewed this – Llyxius, Joy girl, cultnirvana, DigiDestined, Sheron, BigRed, Light sneasel, lorilynn and all you others. Oh, and thanks Llyxius, I had no idea that the Gary- Sabrina pairing had a name. EerieCheerSipping – Hmmm, wonder who's eerie and who's the cheer!

Okay, So if you read this try and find a moment to review, whether you liked it or not. Any reasons please tell me why! Big hugs to all those who do.

So, on with the epilogue!

Scartissue Pt. VI

Misty yawned and stretched her arms out in her normal waking reflex….and her fist made contact with something warm with not inconsiderable force. She drew her arm back in and cradled her hand, a look of remorse on her face as a pair of mahogany eyes opened just a foot away and stared at her reproachfully.

"Good morning to you too Mist." Ash sat up slowly, hand reaching for a rapidly swelling cheek. "Remind me sometime to never get between your hands and ice cream." The dryness in his voice made Misty's face crack, and she sniggered in response.

"Yeah. Aren't I supposed to be scrawny or something?"

"I take all of that back. Even Brock didn't hit me that hard." Ash smiled as Misty looked back at him, perplexed.

"Wha? When did Brock ever hit you?"

"Ah, once I got in between him and nurse Joy. You know what Brock does to anyone who gets between him and Joy. We could hire him out as a cannon ball. I think it was his head that connected with mine that time…." He winked at her, and she returned the gesture.

"I'm more powerful than a Joy-driven Brock? Whew, and I haven't been working out!"

"Really? I thought you were getting a little butch…"

"AND WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?!" The mallet flashed through the air , Ash ducking under it by millimetres.

"Heh, first you have a complex about being to thin, now too fat. Can't please some people can ya?" Misty, poised to send the mallet through his skull, caught his cheeky grin and relented.

"It'd be nice to be complemented every now and then, Mr. Boyfriend. You don't know how much a little praise can do to a girl." She put her hands on her hips and batted her eyes seductively.

"I think I know very well, my beauty." He took her into his arms and span her around, bringing out a squeak of surprise. "But there are other ways that I can do the talking…." He leant forwards, and placed his lips on hers….

"Uh, guys, its not that we aren't enjoying this, but can't we get a little peace here?" Ash glanced up to see Brock looking amused, and Chikorita giggling furiously. He pulled Misty upright again, and grinned.

"Okay, we'll take our exchanges downstairs Brocko." He turned, and began to lead Misty out of the door by the hand. Brock glanced at Chikorita and gave her a tiny wink before speaking.

"Now behave yourselves you two, and don't do anything silly Ash!" Abruptly, Ash stopped dead in the doorway.

"And what is that supposed to mean?" Chikorita and Misty picked up on the tone, and glanced back at Brock warily. Brock, however, needed at least three hours for his brain to catch up with his vocal cords.

"Y'know, don't go being hasty! Doing something too soon! Getting aboard the loooove train…." Before he could blink, Ash was back across the room and staring at him with great intensity from three inches away. When he spoke, his voice was the purr of sheer, glistening anger.

"How can you possibly say that?"

"Hey, it was a joke man! You know, ha ha?" Reality slowly filtered into Brocks' mind, as Ash's burning stare had the same effect as ten coffees and a cold shower.

"Yes. Very funny. Ha, ha, ha." Ash leaned yet closer, making the older man cringe backwards. "Now, would you care to tell me why it's so funny?"

"Uh, it's uh…." Before he could think of a feeble excuse Ash smashed a fist into his stomach, sending him rolling back into the wall and Chikorita skittering off to one side.

"That's what I think of your joke. Hope you can laugh that one off." He spun on his heel, and stormed past Misty out of the room. Chikorita picked herself up from where she'd landed and rushed over with Misty to help Brock to his feet.

("That was uncalled for!") She gestured angrily to the open door with her vines, shaking her head as Brock leant on the bed for support.

"Maybe I should learn to get my brain out of neutral before speaking." He gasped, shaking his head to clear it.

("Even so, it was an innocuous comment, there was no need for that.") Chikorita growled, looking angrier at Ash than she ever had before. Misty pondered for a moment on the reason why, but gave a mental shrug before springing to Ash's defence.

"I can see why that pissed him off. He's been trying to get out of his dad's shadow for ages, and even though that's been sorted out he's more than a little sore about that sort of thing."

"Sorted out? When?" Brock asked, mystified.

"Last night, long story. Too long for now, ask me later." She walked over to the door. "But a the moment I have a rather emotional boyfriend to comfort before he climbs up a tree or drops some glassware." With that, she headed off down the stairs.

I slump down on the soft, forgiving sofa and tried to clear his head. What had happened? Why did I lash out like that? Soft footsteps pattered like the falling rain, and Misty emerged into the kitchen, eyes scanning the room and softening visibly when she saw me. She silently paced over to me, and reached out to stroke my hand, face brimming with a compassion which seemed to glow, aura-like around her.

"Ash, you okay?" She sits down behind me, and gently eases my head down into her lap.

"Not really…" I murmur as I fall gently backwards, her touch magnetic.

"What is it? Was it was Brock said?" She has that uncanny knack of opening me up when I'm at my most vulnerable, and it works again.

"Yes, and….no."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, when he made that joke, it did kind of….hurt…..coming so soon after last night….." She can feel me tense up, I see it in her eyes.

"Ash, don't hide it. Remember what good that did last time?" She's got me there, and again, against all self-will, my mouth responds.

"Well, he made that joke, and I-I can just remember something else taking hold. A red mist came down, and the next thing I know I'm in his face, almost daring him to do it again. And when I looked into that sarcastic grin something snapped…." I put my hands over my face in a futile attempt to shield myself from the world, only to feel them melt down to my sides as Misty stroked my hair. I take a steadying breath and staggered on. "It was all I could do to not wrap my hands around his neck, to strangle the bastard to the point he breathed no more, to smash him in the stomach rather than smash his head open. And I'm scared Mist, scared of what I could do…." I turned my head and buried it in her body, trying to hold back. "I've only just realised I'm not a rapist, I don't want to think I could murder…" A few tears seeped out of my eyes and I just let them flow, uncaring. She rocks me gently, reminiscent of my mother back when I was a child and I let myself fall into the feeling, the feeling that this pair of arms can protect me from the world itself, a gentle voice or rhythmic lullaby enough to erase any problem the world may bring.

"You've forgotten already haven't you?" The voice, albeit gentle and lilting, brings me to attention. I tilt my head, and peek at hr out of the corner of one eye.

"What do you mean?"

"You forget that the potential to do things like that is only that, a potential. It's your choice as to if you use it. And you said yourself that you pulled the punch, held back when all the provocation was there, especially when you were so fragile." The start of a smile began on my lips, and I shook my head in mock anger.

"You must really be getting tired of being right." She giggled, a sound as refreshing to me as the dawn chorus in spring, or the sun setting on summer nights.

"You could say that. But hey, it's my natural right for being a woman!" I smirk at her, and snuggle down deeper into her lap.

"It's a disadvantage of being a woman that you're so damn comfortable, if I don't get up in a minute I'll fall asleep right here." Ash murmured, eyes sinking.

"Heh, it's because I'm a perfect ten, what can I say?" She joked back gently, cradling my head in her hands. "Doesn't this seem a familiar situation to you?" I opened my eye a crack, to see her smile light up.

"Just like Janerio. Only difference is I'm not going to have to be talking to Ralph on the big white telephone this morning." She rolled her eyes at the dreadful pun, and tapped me on the head as a reprimand as I gave her a winsome grin.

"We do seem to have some fun nights eh?"

"Yeah. First that night at Janerio, then the festival night, tying Brock up and sharing a bath, sharing several more baths along the way, that night two weeks ago when Cyndaquil inadvertently set alight our tent and we had to get Totodile and Staryu to put it out…"

"And Brock slept through it all." I finished for her, smiling at the memory. Brock had gotten used to them sharing a tent, and when Cyndaquil had dreamt she was a the chief cook at a barbecue, or something similar, she'd torched their tent. Thankfully it didn't rain that night, and Brock slept through it all completely oblivious in his own tent.

"Yeah, happy memories." She shot me a cautious look, and asked a question which had been gnawing at her for a while, by the look of it. "When you planning to get training again?" She gazed at me like she was afraid I'd go kopstick on her.

"Soon, I would like to get back for the Johto competition. Besides, it may help me to get over this little period in my history." I gazed back into her stare, letting myself sink into it. "It's not going to go away overnight, or in a couple of days, or weeks. But I need to get on with life." She smiles broadly, as if this is music to her ears. I catch the reaction, and decide to prod a little further. "Why, I thought you like nice soft beds, and bugless rooms?" She doesn't rise to the bait, just smiles even more widely.

"The starry skies and campfires will always mean more to me than a fluffy blanket." She bends down, and plants a kiss on my forehead. "Now why don't you take advantage of the fact you've got a lovely soft lap to lay in, and we'll catch up on a few winks, ne?" I needed no more invitation, allowing my eyes to close and mind to float away.



("I'm going to give him a piece of my mind.") Chikorita turned to head for the door, but a tug from Brock stopped her.

"No. Give yourself time to settle down, and he needs to cool off as well." He gave her a wink, brushing her leaf gently. "Besides, I'm a big boy now, I can fight my own battles y'know."

("Yeah, okay. But he didn't need to do that.")

"It's my fault too. Think about it for a moment, could you think of a more stupid or tactless thing to say at that point in time?" He picked her up and placed her on the bed, sitting down beside her. She thought deeply for a moment, before conceding.

("Not right now.")

"I would have been more concerned had he said nothing. With him it's more dangerous when he's bottling up." He gently petted Chikorita, feeling some of the tension seep away beneath his fingers. "At least he's letting his emotions show, even if it was a little painful. He's less likely to do something really dangerous."

("Yeah, I guess.")

"Besides, after all you've done for him, do you really want to go down there and scream at him, maybe set him off again?" He soothed.

("No, but it stings a lot to hold back after all you've done for me.") She stated bluntly, before realising what she was saying.

"Taking Ash's place in your affections am I?" Brock teased back. She blushed, and looked shyly at the floor.

("No, not that. I know that such a relationship isn't possible anyway, and I think I've got over that sort of crush. But you've been like a father to me for the last week, I don't know if I'd still be here if it wasn't for you. I might have wasted away, or fled before reality caught up with me. I owe a lot to you Brock.") She replied solemnly, looking back up at him.

"Well, the first thing you can do to pay me back is to not scream at Ash the second you set eyes on him." Chikorita chuckled at his dry tone, before getting up.

("I'm going downstairs now, breakfast is calling and who am I to make it wait?") She walked to the door, before glancing back at him. ("Care to make one of your famous high-taste full-fat grease-dripping fry-ups?")

"Yeah, why not?" Brock walked over to his bag in the corner of the room and threw a shirt on, before spinning and following her out of the door. They quietly descended the stairs, mindful of the still sleeping Deliah, and walked down the passage before cautiously pushing the door ajar and pacing into the kitchen. A single glance into the back room told all they needed to know. Misty sat on the settee, bangs washing across her face and gently rocking with each sleeping breath. Ash lay head in her lap, eyes red, cheeks damp but with an expression of blissful peace written across his face.

"Glad you aren't going to scream at them now?" Brock murmured, Chikorita replying with a small smile. He moved over to the fridge, and drew out some cooking fat, eggs, bacon and sausages. Reaching into a cupboard, he drew out a saucepan and set it onto the stove, turning it on, dropping some fat into it, followed by two eggs, yolks intact.

("Under five seconds! Not bad, not bad.") Chikorita put in, smiling at the grace with which Brock got the cooking underway. He had it down to a fine art, hell, maybe even perfection.

"Hey, when did you even start eating meat?" He asked over his shoulder, while she ferreted for plates and cutlery.

("Ash gave me little bits off his plate over the last week, to make you think he was eating more than he was. I got a taste for it, especially the bacon.") Seeing the funny glance he shot her, she mimicked a posture she'd seen Misty use, balancing on her hind legs and folding her forelegs across each other. ("And what is wrong with that?")

"Heh, you're going to get tubby. I'm sure you don't want that a few weeks before the league!"

("Me? Tubby? This is prime muscle and sinew you see here!") She responded indignantly.

"Yeah? I can see a little pot belly forming there…" Brock sniggered as she twisted every which way to try and see what he was indicating, which had the rather interesting effect of making her overbalance from her unfamiliar stance and crash into the ironing board, which he managed to catch an inch from the floor. "You should learn to be more careful else you'll wake Sleeping beauty and Sasquatch over there."

("I wouldn't say Misty's hair was bad enough to call her Sasquatch Brock….") Chikorita smiled sweetly in reply.

"Good thing she's asleep, last time Ash made a joke like that he spent a week looking for this teeth. He eventually found them – in his ear." He popped a few rashers of bacon in the now quietly sizzling pan, and prodded them with a spatula. "They'll be awake in a moment. Misty can say what she likes about Ash's stomach, but the smell of breakfast is as good an alarm call for her as for him."

("True. I think I can hear Deliah moving upstairs.")

"Guess I'd better put some more sausages in then…"



"Gorgeous Brock, absolutely gorgeous." Deliah put her fork down with an appreciative clink onto her plate, leaning back in her chair.

"True, true." Ash agreed, following suit.

"Yesh, definachly." Misty added, spraying everyone liberally with egg.

"Pig."

"Ever heard the one about the pot and the kettle?" Misty shot back.

"Yes, but I've never used it while my mouth was full of fried egg."

("Very ladylike.") Pikachu sniggered.

"Ah, go sit on a sandslash." She shovelled a too-large piece of sausage into her mouth, cheeks bulging.

"Sure, Ms. Gerbil." The doorbell rang, and Chikorita ran to answer it while the others contentedly watched a slowly warming argument between the two usual protagonists with idle interest.

"Morning all!" Three heads lifted to see Gary and Sabrina walk in, the other two still fixed on each other. The sight of Misty and Ash staring fixedly at each other, mid argument brought a smile to their lips.

*Looks better.* Sabrina thought

*Yep.* Gary replied.

*Something good has happened here.*

*Duh, obviously.*

*Don't you dare duh me!*

*And what are you gonna do about it?*

*You forget that I could drop your pants in the blink of an eye, Gary Oak.*

*Uh, good point.*

"Ahem…"Gary and Sabrina broke eye contact to see Deliah looking at them, arms folded. "Now, is there anything you would like to share with the class?" She made a sweeping gesture with her arm, incorporating Brock, Chikorita and Pikachu watching them. "Of course, I don't think that the two delinquents will be that interested…." She gestured to Ash and Misty, who had forgotten their argument, and were just gazing at each other.

"Uh, yeah, sorry." Gary blushed, and sank down to sit at the table.

"So, what's this about you two linking minds?" Brock probed.

"I was explaining to Gary about the problems of being a psychic, the static- like buzz of minds in the background, and he asked if he could help. I let slip about a little technique which binds two minds, leaving each other like an open book, while closing off unconscious psychic actions. He jumped at it, and we did it." She grinned, sinking into another chair. "It's been an education too."

"Yeah, I never knew a girl's mind works the way it does until this." Gary smiled.

"Same for me and a guy. Of course, there have been a few surprises and shocks along the way…" Sabrina blushed rose red, and stopped. "Which you wouldn't find out about if you paid us. And you can wipe that dodgy grin off your face Brock, I know how your mind works." *Although it's not far from the truth, eh Gary?* Gary's spluttering made Brock grin even wider, and he mentally vowed to drill him for a few clues to the female psyche later.

("Awwwww….") Chikoritas' oblique outburst brought everyone else's eyes around to where she was staring, to see Ash and Misty apologising to each in a very informal manner.

"What's with Ash today?" The question, posed by five different mouths simultaneously only made Deliah smile.

"If he doesn't mind me telling…." Ash, buried somewhere in Misty's mouth, didn't respond.

"Geez, hormones…" Brock made the *I'm going to be sick* gesture, bringing out giggles from the others.

"He doesn't seem to be objecting."

"Fine, just make yourselves comfortable." Deliah leant forwards, placing her elbows on the table and cupping her chin in her palms, eyes drifting into an unseeing gaze. "Your plan was perfect, Sab. It was late last night, well this morning really…."



Five Fifteen, and it's already starting to get dark. I nudge open the back door, and quietly pace over to the seat on the patio, where I can see her resting. I know that she's enjoying the peace and quiet, perhaps she wants to be alone for a while, but I want to atone, apologise. Something I've been trying to do too much in my life recently, but it's a different apology now. She looks up as I reach her side, and slides down to make room for me. I accept, sitting down and looking out across the scene.

"Nice evening."

"Yeah. It's starting to get a little chilly, though."

"Here." I slip my jacket from my shoulders, and place it around my mother.

"You sure you won't freeze?" She smiles vaguely up at me, and I wink back.

"Nah, you should try staying in an ice-cold cave in a blizzard for a night, with only Pikachu and Chikorita for company. You've become far too domesticated."

"Ah, so many adventures, experiences. I wish I could've shared them with you too. I'd love to hear about more of them too." She casts a wistful glance across the sky, red light of the setting sun glinting in her eyes, brimming with gentle regret.

"Yeah, I wish I could've been with you more. I mean, you're my only family, and I love you for all you've ever done for me, or just being with me." I slip a comforting arm around her. "But as it is, I'm just glad to have you." I notice her eyes now scouring my arms, exposed by my short-sleeved shirt and laced with scars.

"I'm glad to have you too. For all darkness still contains some light, and you are that light. It's a shame that you had to do this to yourself for so long before realising the truth." She is right, but that's part of the reason that I'm out here now.

"Yeah. I've come out to say sorry, again." She opens her mouth to protest, but I plough on. "I know I've done this too much recently, and I hope that I haven't cheapened the word by misuse. But I just wanted to say I'm sorry for being so selfish, drowning myself in my own worries when I should have been helping you. You were the one who has had to undergo this ordeal, and I should have thought more about your feelings, your thoughts." She closes her eyes, and swallows deeply before replying.

"My son, you astound me. You go through hell, and come out the other end with an apology for not thinking about me." A short laugh, a shake of the head. "You truly are something else." She opens her eyes and gazes directly at me. "And the knowledge that you've done this is enough of a comfort to me, more of a comfort than words can ever be." She leans over, and kisses me on the cheek. "And helping you fight your demons is better than any therapy." For a few seconds, we both just stare out at the scene, minds at rest. "Come on, it's getting too cold." She gets up, stretching slowly. "There's a good movie on tonight, and if you behave yourself there could be ice cream involved at some point…"

"Ah, you do know how to bribe a man."

"Yes, but I also know how to bribe a rather hungry young boy."

"Is that all I am to you then?" I joke, rising off the bench.

"To a mother, that's all a son ever is, even when he's a father himself. And yes, I will be keeping all those baby photos, including the one of you dancing in one of my…." I put my fingers in my ears for a moment, not wanting the memory in my head any more than it already is. I wait for a second, and then take them out again. "….although we got it cleaned up in the end, Samuel said it was one of the most inventive uses of a…" Not done yet, okay, wait another second. "….Never quite felt the same, although it did still do the job."

"You are such a mercenary, aren't you?" I joke, walking towards the door, her at my side.

"Well, yes. It's up to all adults to embarrass their kids. Now, let me see, where did I hide them, I'm sure Misty will like them, and Gary said they were the funniest things ever seen by man!" She heads for the stairs, and I groan loudly as I walk into the back room where everyone is sat around the television.

"What's up?" Brock looks at my downcast face, and I provide the only two words that he needs to hear.

"Baby pictures…."

"Woo hoo! You have GOT to see those!" Gary, who has seen them enough times, almost punches the ceiling in delight.

("Awww, is Ashy going to be embarrassed?") Pikachu croons.

"Why what did you do as a kid?" Misty looks at me, puzzled, and I stuff my fingers in my ears as Gary elaborates on my most famous act. Eventually he finishes, and Misty looks midway between awe-struck and hysterical as the rest of the room is screaming with laughter.

"Really on a…." I nod. "And with a…" Another nod. She pauses for a second, and then virtually explodes. "AHHHHHH-HA-HA-HAAAAA!" I slide right up to her, and whisper in her ear.

"If you gave me one of yours it'd be my pleasure to demonstrate exactly how I did it, for your eyes only of course…." She stares at me for a second in a passable imitation of Brock the night Chikorita popped out from under the covers, before smiling and winking. Just then, I hear the rush of feet on the staircase, the rustle of photos in a box, and know right then that my life is over….



"Bye!"

"See you soon!"

("G'bye")

"C'ya!" I shout my own goodbye to Deliah, and the others turn to look at me in surprise.

"What, you never heard Japanese before?" Ash looks at me quizzically.

"Yeah, I just happen to know lots of Japanese. But I've never heard you use it."

("It's a little pretentious isn't it?") Pikachu chirps from his shoulder.

"Pretentious?" I place a hand on my chest. "Watashi?" Ash snorts with laughter, as the others look clueless.

"Nice take on that joke Mist." The other five still don't get it, so he demonstrates. "It's an adaptation of that "Pretentious? Moi?" joke, only in Japanese." Now they get it, and he turns around again to wish his mother a final farewell. "See you soon, hopefully as Johto champ!" This brings a big smile to my face, that's more like him. He's been slowly getting better over the last week, although he is liable to go off if someone touches anywhere sore. Also I have seen him cry a few times at night, he doesn't know I have, but he still is getting better. It is heart-warming to see him back to his old self, even if he is bluffing a little.

"Well you'll have to get past me first. And with Sabrina behind me, it'll be a formidable task." I roll my eyes at that remark, traditional Gary-type speech. He doesn't quite get that Ash has something special about his training and battling technique, although I have to give him high marks for effort. It doesn't seem like before though, his comment is more of a statement of fact than a boast.

"Yeah well, me and Mist make a handy team as well, without her, I wouldn't have made it through Johto." I blush at that, high praise indeed. "Perhaps that's what you need Gary, a woman in you're life. I mean, I've got three on my shoulder now." He gives a short chuckle, and I can see what he means, Chikorita on his left shoulder, Pikachu on his right and me leaning on him. "Oh, and I also suggest you get yourself a Brock, if you can find one. But they are few and far between." Brock also blushes, looking at the floor.

"Hmmm, maybe."

("Hey, why don't we have a sweepstake?") I look across at Pikachu, wondering where that oblique statement came from.

"Uh, what on?"

"Who gets married first. You and Ash, Gary and Sabrina, Brock and whoever, or Deliah and Prof. Oak…"

"Mom and Sam?!" Ash almost falls headfirst into a tree. "Where did you get that idea Pikachu?"

("Trust me, I have good senses for this sort of thing. Plus, I heard her flirting with him on the telephone…")

"Hmmm, Sam and mom….Hey Gary, wouldn't that make me your uncle?" Gary, immersed in a psychic connection with Sabrina, looks up in confusion.

"Huh?!" Sabrina giggles, I wish that I could see what Gary is thinking.

"Nothing, nothing. Now, let's get going, I want to get to New Bark town in time for some supper." He speeds up slightly, and I take my place on his right, Brock outside me and the other two on the other side. I'm pleased to be back on the road, but most of all I'm glad that things are back to normal, well normal as is possible with us. And most of all, I've got my boyfriend back intact.

"What you thinking of Mist?" I let my eyes drift back into focus to see him casting a sidelong glance at me, Pikachu also waiting for my answer. I smile.

"You. You?"

"Lunch." It takes all of my will power and a small grin from him to stop me pulling out my mallet. "Oh, and you. You and lunch, and I know which tastes sweeter." Ahhh, why is it a little complement like that can completely turn me to mush. "Especially when it's got strawberries and whipped cream with it." Uh…I get ready to whip out my mallet again. "That's why lunch can never compare to you." That's it, he's got me again. I can feel my cheeks colour, and hear Chikorita and Pikachus' giggles drift from his shoulders. Much as I like the idea, it's a little embarrassing to be placed in the same context as strawberries and cream in public. He just smiles and walks on. I'm going to either kill him or kiss him, I don't know yet. But it's a wonderful feeling to be walking in the sunshine, with the warm grass around your ankles, with the one you love. Just then, a rumble of thunder echoes across the valley, and we run for cover before the dirt path we're walking on becomes a mud bowl.

Ah well, one out of three isn't bad.



Okay, hope that you enjoyed it. If anyone out there is fluent in Japanese and there is a mistake with my one translation in here (I'm fairly sure it's right, I read it in a book somewhere) give me a bell so I can correct it. All those that liked this, keep your eyes peeled as I might have something new by the end of this month. Again, big thanks to all reviewers, and C'ya later!