As Ash stared at the town he'd appeared in front of, he realized that everything was a blur. Ever since he'd gotten back, he could hardly remember the incident. But he could very clearly remember that he'd been sent out of the painful dimension of parallel silence. He'd been freed from his worst nightmare.
But he'd give anything to go back.
Pikachu was the only one Ash had left, and now he'd never see it again. The realization brought him to tears. He lied down in the grass and pulled his hat down over his eyes, crying softly.
"Well? Is it dead?"
"I don't know. Should we tell mommy?"
"Nah. I wanna keep poking it."
Ash awoke to the feeling of being jabbed at with a stick. He hadn't realized he'd cried himself to sleep until now. He didn't want to get up, but the poking got harder and harder. Eventually he sat up angrily.
"WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING TO ME???"
As he opened his eyes sleepily, a young boy and a young girl came into his vision. Both of them only seemed to be about five or six years old. The girl screamed and both children ran behind a woman nearby, hiding behind her legs. Ash stared at her. She was beautiful, with long brown hair that ran down her back. She was wearing a green sundress that matched her eyes, and she was wearing beige sandals, along with a tan sunhat. She was holding a parasol in one hand and a clipboard in the other, with a pencil behind her ear. The boy spoke up.
"Mom, it LIVES!!!"
The woman patted the boy's head gently and reassuringly. Ash couldn't help but envy the boy. He wished someone cared about him that much too. The woman approached Ash slowly and cautiously, and knelt down beside him. Ash rubbed his eyes tiredly; her voice was somewhat soothing and made him feel comfortable.
"Please excuse my children. Their curiosity is going to get them hurt one day. Did they hurt you at all?"
Ash shook his head, but the woman gently lifted his arm. There was a spot that was bleeding. She turned and shot a warning glance at her children, who just blushed, not knowing they'd injured him. She set down a small backpack that Ash assumed he hadn't noticed before. She set her clipboard on the grass and opened up the backpack, pulling out a first aid kit. She gently sprayed something on his arm that stung and made him wince. Then she carefully bandaged up the bleeding area and smiled at him.
"Would you like to come back to my house? You don't look so well."
Ash nodded his head. He felt exhausted. Maybe transferring dimensions had taken more out of him than he'd thought. The woman seemed to realize that he was tired and gently picked him up.
"Oh my, you're very light for a boy your age, aren't you? Are you sure you're in good health?"
Ash felt much too tired to even open his mouth and respond to her question. He closed his eyes, inhaling her scent. She had a beautiful scent, almost like a cross between lavender and cinnamon. He didn't realize when he fell asleep, or knew when he did.
When he woke up this time, he was lying in a bed in someone's house. He assumed the woman had carried him all the way back to her house. He turned his head and opened his eyes. The woman came into view, sitting in a chair beside him, holding a cup of water. Ash sat up as she handed him the glass.
"I'm very sorry. I didn't recognize you at first glance. You wouldn't happen to be Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town, would you?"
Ash set the glass down on a table next to the bed. "What of it?"
"Well, you see, I'm friends with Professor Oak, and he's told me very much about your adventures. My children love watching you compete in the league competitions on television."
Ash smirked. "Great, I have fans."
The woman smiled. "May I ask why you were sleeping in a field by yourself?"
Ash's smirk faded and he looked down sadly. "Pikachu…"
"Huh? Nothing, sorry. It's just…I can't remember much."
"I see. Would you mind telling me what you do remember?"
Ash sighed and began to tell the woman the entire story from when he arrived in Palkia's dimension, all the way to her children finding him in the field.
"Oh…I heard about the Alamos incident…they said there were no survivors, though…"
"Yeah, well me and Pikachu survived somehow. But…Pikachu's still there. And I have to get it back somehow. Thanks for your hospitality….uh…."
"Laura. My name is Laura."
"Right, right. Laura, thanks for everything, but I gotta go find a way to save my best friend."
Ash got out of the bed and approached the door, but Laura gently put her hand on his shoulder. He blushed at the softness of her fingertips on his shoulder.
"Well, you don't have to look much farther. I can help you get back."
A huge smile overtook Ash's face. "You can help me get Pikachu back?"
Laura smiled brightly at him and nodded. "I was doing research on the Time-Space Rift before the Alamos incident. I know enough about it to get you back."
Ash turned around and hugged her tightly, tears of happiness streaming down his face. "Thank you, thank you thank you thank you!!!!!"
Laura laughed, allowing Ash to hug her as long as he wished to. Ash soon realized what he was doing and blushed brightly. He released his grip and looked at his feet.
"It's alright. My husband died in the Alamos incident, so no one would be jealous."
Ash sighed. Another person he'd let down. Another person he could've saved. He could forget all chances he had with Laura now.
"So…you can get me back to Palkia's Dimension?"
"I can, but you'll need to stay the night here. I'll figure something out meanwhile. So you just get back in that bed and I'll wake you up when I figure something out. My kids are already asleep to begin with, and it's late."
Reluctantly, and unable to wait until he could see Pikachu's face again, Ash climbed back into the bed and forced himself to fall asleep.
At about three in the morning, Ash felt someone shake him awake. "Ash, sweetheart, please wake up. I figured something out."
Ash sat up and rubbed his eyes tiredly. Laura was awake with a desk light on, hard at work on a computer.
Laura blushed. "Sorry, did I say that? It's just you remind me so much of my husband…"
"So what'd you figure out?"
"Okay. It turns out that at midnight every night, the moon aligns with the rift leading to Palkia's Dimension. There's an odd force that really can't be explained, but if you stand in the exact spot where you ended up when I found you while moonlight is shining on it, you'll somehow be pulled back into that dimension. I can't explain it well, but I know its true."
Ash pulled his hat on. "What time is it?"
"11: 30. If we hurry, we can make it before the moonlight comes out."
Ash pulled his vest on and threw his backpack over his shoulder. Laura headed for the door, holding it open for Ash. Both of them rushed outside and headed for the spot in the field where moonlight was shining. At last Laura spotted it just in time.
"Ash, go and stand in the moonlight. If you do, you'll be pulled back into that dimension."
Ash took a deep breath and stepped into the light. For the third time, his fingertips began to disintegrate and his body felt light. He turned his head and gave Laura one last glance. She was waving goodbye to him. He sighed and held his breath as his body completely disintegrated and was enveloped in light.
Ash landed hard on his back, on what seemed to be unsteady ground. Looking around, he recognized the place perfectly. A sudden pair of glowing pink eyes made him shiver, and he was hit hard by something that sent him flying, then crashing into the ground again.
"Intruder! How did you find this place? And who are you?"
Ash stood up and brushed the dirt off himself. "I'm Ash Ketchum. I was sent here after the Alamos incident, and my friend freed me from here, but I found a way back so I-"
"Wait. Did you say your name is Ash Ketchum?"
Out of the darkness, Ash gasped when Palkia appeared in front of him, with someone's sillouete following close behind.
"Is he the one you were talking about?"
Ash??? How'd you…when did you…
Ash felt tears of joy rush from his eyes when he saw Pikachu step out from behind Palkia. He immediately picked it up and hugged it tightly.
"PIKACHU! I'm so glad you're okay!"
Ash…I thought you would've been happier back in Sinnoh…
Pikachu gently brushed Ash's tears away, and Ash shook his head. "You're all I've got left. And even if it means eternal punishment here, I'd stay with you until the day I die."
Pikachu started to respond, but tears stopped it. Ash hugged it tightly as it started to cry, and he himself started to cry as well. Palkia disappeared, leaving the two survivors crying in joy in each other's arms.