Edit: When I first wrote the intro to this chapter, I was very depressed. I know that know. I realize it sounds very melodramatic, but I'm not going to remove it for nostalgic reasons. Just... man, I sounded stupid back then. I'd advise that you skip it. Anyway, enjoy!
Okay. Here we go. The beginning. I must complete this. I shall. I have the ability. I have the inclination. All I have to do is write it… Somehow this was easier in my head.
Do I really have to say that I don't own Pokemon? I would think you could figure that out on your own. But just in case: I hold no rights to Pokemon, or anything else, excepting only the plot of this story. You'll be able to tell if I ever do gain control of Pokemon, because the first episode, Ash will actually be seventeen, and that will be explicitly stated. Three episodes after that, Misty will come back. The next ten episodes will build back up their relationship until they finally admit their love in the eleventh and twelfth. Also, there will be a good plot, and it will be... dark. Heh heh heh…
Before you read any further, a warning: I have a great deal of darkness in my heart. I will not guarantee you a happy ending to this tale. I'm human, just as you are, reader, and I do so love a happy ending. But as I write these words, the ending is not yet set in stone. I have several possibilities in mind, but I don't know which one is going to fit the rest of the story until I write it, if indeed any of them will. And I am not a happy man. By my right, I will do as I see fit. But on my honor, I will swear this: I will put all I have into this story. I will labor to make it the best I can. I do not expect to create a masterpiece, but that doesn't mean I won't try. But if any of the preceding statements dissuades you from wishing to read on, the time to leave is now.
Still here? Good.
Now, remember that dark heart I told you about? Well, you're about to see what I mean. This story begins on what is probably a familiar scene to you, reader, provided you like Pokemon as much as I do. But this story is about to take a tragic turn. Here we go, my friend. Are you ready?
Of Creation and Destruction
Chapter One: Shattered
The battles raged through the field.
Ash Ketchum stood high above the battlefield, witness to an atrocity. Stripped of their abilities, Mewtwo's clones fought their counterparts hand to hand, tooth to tooth, and claw to claw, each struggling to prove their place in the world, to prove that they were greater, that they deserved life. Ash saw none of this conflict. All he saw was tremendous suffering, as each battle approached a standstill, neither side gaining dominance, with all involved slowing until they became too weak and injured to continue. Ash felt his heart begin to break as he watched the pointless fighting. How could he allow this? Ash thought, his eyes turning to the battle raging in the sky. For Mewtwo, Mew's clone and the mastermind behind this battle, fought his nemesis as well. Mewtwo and Mew, each protected by a shield of psychic energy, bounced off each other again and again, neither one able to gain an advantage.
Ash climbed quickly down from his vantage point, moving carefully over the stone exterior of the tower. As he climbed, he saw his Pikachu in the fray below. Though it was beaten to the ground again and again by its clone, Ash's Pikachu refused to fight back. Ash watched his Pikachu stand once more, as his clone stood over him and yelled "Pika chu!" an obvious command to fight back. Pikachu simply replied "Pi kachu" with a voice filled with heartache as he shook his head, and was tackled once more to the ground. Ash felt a strange rush of pride that his Pikachu would not stand for this pointless fighting, mixed with sadness and fury at seeing his beloved Pokemon knocked back yet again.
"Pikachu!" Ash cried as Pikachu fell and lay still. Ash scrambled quickly down the tower, falling and injuring him himself on the stone steps below. Ash stood through the pain and saw Pikachu rise yet again, still refusing to fight as his clone slapped him again and again, until both Pokemon were crying at the futility of their combat. Pikachu finally could take no more, and fell, but soon he struggled back to his feet and turned to face his opponent once again. Ash flew down the stairs, and with a cry of "Quit it! Please, stop!" leaped down to fall onto the battlefield. Brock and Misty quickly rushed to his side to help. "We've gotta stop this!" Ash cried, crawling onto his knees and turning his eyes once more to the fighting.
"But how?" Brock said, looking to the skies where Mewtwo's battle continued. "All Mewtwo cares about is proving how strong those super-clones are!" Strong as they were, neither the originals nor the cloned Pokemon could stand the fighting much longer. The violent struggling was starting to take its toll, and several battles had already ended, both sides too weak to continue.
Ash was done. He had in a single hour seen enough fighting and pain to last him a lifetime. "Someone's got to take a stand… Someone's gotta say no, and refuse to fight… Just like Pikachu." And it seemed that Ash was right, for Pikachu's refusal to fight was finally starting to weaken his clone's resolve. With tears in his eyes, the clone slapped weakly at Pikachu once more, and then fell into his arms. It seemed, for an instant, that the clones could be stopped, and the fighting ended in peace.
But right at that moment, Mewtwo's struggle against Mew fell from the skies. The two Pokemon hit the ground in the center of the battlefield, and the blast of psychic force was enough to stop all the battling Pokemon as they were thrown away from the point of impact. Great clouds of smoke and debris blew up, and residual psychic energy crackled madly through the air before fading away. Their energy fields disrupted by the blast, Mewtwo and Mew fired blasts at one another, throwing up another large explosion, and forcing the two dueling Pokemon away from the center. Mewtwo and Mew glowed brightly as they charged again, and each prepared to unleash the strongest attack they could muster. Somebody… anybody… has to stop this, Ash thought. He looked around the edges of the field and saw the Pokemon huddled in fear and anguish. Ash drew his resolve from them, determined to end the insanity before any damage was done that could not be undone. Ash stood, and ran towards the center of the last battle. Brock cried for Ash to stop, but he would not listen. What does he plan to do? Misty thought frantically as she watched him sprint. He can't survive those attacks!
"You've gotta stop right now!" Ash cried as he ran.
As Mewtwo and Mew fired, Ash gave one last cry of "STOP!" and lunged between the pair.
The beams converged upon Ash, engulfing him an explosion of light and sound that shook the entire stadium.
"Ash!" "No! NO! ASH!" Brock and Misty cried out to their friend, but it was far too late for such words.
"Pikapi!" Pikachu, seeing his master's peril, finally found the strength to stand, but he, too, was too late.
The light faded, revealing Ash hovering in the center of the stadium, surrounded by a soft glow. He slowly fell to the ground. With his remaining strength, he looked up, searching for his friends. For a moment, his eyes locked onto each of them in turn. "Pikachu… Brock… Misty… I…" His head fell forward and his eyes closed as the last of his strength ebbed away. Then came the most terrible sight of all.
As his friends looked on, Ash's body shattered.
Starting at his feet, the light surrounding him faded, and as it did, he crumbled and scattered like dust into the air. The effect slowly worked his way up his body, until all that was left was his torso, then his chest, then only his head, until finally only his hat remained behind. As the rest of his clothes and body vanished, his signature hat fell to the ground, its support gone. As it fell, so too did Brock and Misty. They could not believe it. Ash Ketchum, their friend, their companion, the boy that they had both grown to love, was gone.
"Pikapi!" Pikachu rushed to the spot where Ash had lain seconds before, hoping to find some clue, some trace that would indicate that he still lived, that he was still there in some form, but there was nothing left behind, nothing, save six empty Pokeballs, a worn Pokemon League cap, and a world of broken hearts.
"Pikapi." Tears began to fall from Pikachu's eyes as he spoke his name for his trainer once more.
"Oh, Ash…" Misty murmured. She turned her eyes from the tragic scene to look at Brock. His eyes looked dead and strangely vacant, his face frozen in disbelief. Brock noticed her glance his way, and their eyes met. Misty saw the hopelessness there, and at that moment the truth hit her fully: Ash was dead.
Misty's shoulders shook as she sobbed. Brock was able to hold on, just barely, for Misty, but deep inside, he despaired as well. The two friends held each other, and each found a small bit of comfort in the arms of their friend. Pikachu walked slowly over to the pair, holding Ash's cap, the last bit of his former master. Misty reached out with a shaking hand to take the hat, but she could not touch it. Somehow, it seemed, taking it would make Ash's death irreversible, and she didn't want to touch it, knowing its owner was gone. She mustered her courage to try again, but Brock stopped her before she had the chance. Instead, Misty reached out to Pikachu, tears in both of their eyes, and held him close to her. "It's okay, Pikachu," she whispered softly, though both knew she was lying. "I'll take care of you." And she knew she would. It was what he would have wanted… And following that path, her mind turned back to Ash. She grieved. They all did. Even the cloned Pokemon, seeing the loss and the sacrifice, were moved to tears.
Even Mewtwo felt the loss. The human sacrificed himself for the Pokemon… all the Pokemon. Mewtwo looked at the original Pokemon and the clones, but even he, their creator, saw no difference in them now. In their grief, they had become as one. Mewtwo's thoughts of which were superior echoed hollowly through his mind, as he saw the foolishness of all his work. I did this. I brought this upon them all, He despaired. "I see now that the circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant," Mewtwo thought to Mew. "It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are." Ash had given up his gift for others; Mewtwo would repay him however he could. For a moment Mewtwo hovered in thought, trying to think of some way that he could repair this damage, to return the boy, and all the while thinking that nothing ever could. All he could do was separate himself and his clones from them, to keep this from happening ever again.
Mewtwo and Mew worked in concert, lifting the clones off of the field into the sky with him, to take them somewhere far away, where they could live in peace. "Where are you going?" Misty screamed into the sky, her eyes blazing through the tears. "Come back here!" Hearing this, Mewtwo halted his ascent, and turned towards Misty, so he could look into her eyes.
"I can never repair the damage I have done today," Mewtwo replied into their minds. "All I can do is work to ensure that this never occurs again." He paused, lowering his head, and added in what seemed a soft voice, "Truly, I am sorry for what I have caused. I wish I could help ease your pain, but I cannot recall the dead, nor can I reverse the past… I will return you back from whence you came... Ash taught me much about myself in his short time here. I will carry his memory with me forever. I hope that you will do so as well…" With that, Mewtwo and his clones flew off into the sky, and a bright light engulfed the island…
What now? What do we do now? Misty's mind raced in circles, around and around, always trying to avoid the thought of Ash, how he looked as he fell, as he crumbled to dust before their eyes, how he had saved them, and worst of all how he was gone, gone, gone, beyond all hope of recall… Damn it! What was he thinking? Why didn't I stop him? Why, why, why, why, why… Misty and Brock sat numbly in the Pokemon center where they had been sent by Mewtwo from the island. Neither of them had moved or spoken since they had arrived from their ordeal, physically unharmed, but emotionally broken. Pikachu, still holding Ash's cap, was sobbing silently in Misty's lap, where Misty was unconsciously stroking the grieving Pokemon and whispering that everything would be okay, even as her heart said exactly the opposite; that nothing would ever be okay again, not with Ash taken from them, so violently, so suddenly.
"We have to go to Pallet."
Brock's words pierced through the silence and surprised Misty out of her shocked trance. "What? Why?" She asked through her tears
Brock looked over at her, and with great anguish, said, "We have to… we've got to tell his mother. She needs to know that he's… dead." Tears started to run once more down Brock's face. It was the first time one of them had spoken that Ash was gone.
Misty nodded silently, and they stood up together. "Come on, Pikachu…" Misty carried the electric Pokemon in her arms. He still cried. Misty wondered if he would ever stop. Misty wondered if she would ever stop. Misty gathered up the Pokeballs that now held Ash's Pokemon and put them in her bag. Together she and Brock walked out of the center, and started on their path to Ash's home, where his mother waited, still somehow oblivious of her loss; still happy, at least for a little while. Misty already dreaded their task, but she knew it had to be done.
The walk out of town was strangely silent, and both Brock and Misty loathed to break it. There were no words for what they felt. As they walked out of the border of the town, Pikachu finally fell asleep, exhausted from the tears. Ash's cap fell from his paws. Without a word, Brock and Misty both stopped to stare down at it. Then, ever so slowly, Misty pulled the band from her hair, letting it down out of its normal sideways ponytail. She knelt to the ground, picked up Ash's hat, and placed it softly on her own head. Brock stood quiet while she did this, and as she stood, their eyes met. He gently nodded in agreement. The pair continued on their way, and Misty finally found the strength to keep back the tears. Ash would have wanted her to be strong, even now. She would do it for him.
The trip to Pallet went amazingly quickly, and unbearably slowly. Without Ash there, there wasn't any arguing, or any conversation that wasn't necessary. Misty and Brock still trained and cared for their Pokemon daily, but the fire that they had each had for the task before seemed to have gone out. Misty tried to stay cheerful around her Pokemon, especially Togepi, but she kept slipping. Brock, on the other hand, didn't even try. He worked like a machine, doing exactly what was needed and nothing more. When nights came, they went silently to bed, and when morning came, they packed quietly and left in silence. Misty soon missed even the crying, for even the sadness was better than this emptiness.
Pikachu was the worst of them all. It had not spoken a word since they had left the island. For the first two days, Pikachu wouldn't even walk. When placed on the ground, he would just stand there, looking dazed and lost. Misty and Brock had been forced to take it in turns to carry him. Finally, on the third day, he had started moving about again, though he still preferred to ride on Misty's shoulder. Maybe it was that she still wore the hat, or maybe Pikachu just sensed that Misty had shared a bit of a closer bond with Ash than Brock had, but already Ash's favorite Pokemon favored Misty.
The hours on the road seemed to pass incredibly slowly, but when they finally arrived at Pallet, they could hardly recall the intervening week and a half. They stopped at the border. "Are you ready, Misty?" Brock said.
"No," Misty replied after a moment, "But I'm never going to be ready for this, even if we wait here for a thousand years." The task before them seemed overwhelming. Sure, they had been in danger before, but they had never thought that they would have to do this. Misty wanted to turn and run, and never look back. For a moment, she almost did. Then Brock started forward, and Misty found herself following. They moved at a snail's pace through the town, yet in a heartbeat, they could already see Ash's former home. Another heartbeat, and they were at the driveway; another, and they stood at the door.
Brock raised his hand to knock, and could not. Misty, realizing she was still wearing Ash's hat, quickly removed it. Brock still stood motionless, frozen with his arm raised. Seeing that Brock's strength, which had carried them thus far, had run out at last, Misty took the initiative. She grasped his hand, and they knocked together, three times. "Just a moment!" Delia Ketchum's voice sang out joyfully. Again, Misty and Brock had to steady themselves, thinking of what they were about to destroy. The door opened.
"Misty, Brock!" She cried happily. "Oh, it's been so long! What a nice surprise! Come in, come in! Where is Ash... ?" Delia's smile vanished quickly as she noticed how desolate their faces were.
"He's… Ash is…" Again, Brock faltered, unable to complete the simple sentence.
Ash's mother got the message anyway. Time seemed to stop, and she noticed every detail of the scene before her. Misty holding a familiar baseball cap, the tears glistening in the eyes of the pair, Pikachu's position on Misty's shoulder… everything screamed that something terrible indeed had befallen her only son. "Oh, no. Oh, my Ho-oh, no… what happened to him?" Misty gathered all her strength, and used it to speak three earth-shattering words:
"He was killed."
Mrs. Ketchum's response surprised the pair. Her eyes glazed over strangely. She calmly walked inside and sat down. Misty and Brock followed her inside and sat together across from her, feeling like this was a scene from a dream, or perhaps a nightmare. "Killed. Killed." Delia repeated, staring blankly between the two. "How?"
"A rogue psychic Pokemon, Mewtwo, cloned from Mew," Misty explained slowly. "It was more powerful than we could have imagined. It… captured us and several other trainers. It stole all of our Pokemon, cloned them, and forced them to fight each other to the death. Ash… was caught in the battle between Mew and Mewtwo. He sacrificed himself, and he saved us all. But… he's gone."
"Then he's dead. My son is dead. Did you see…?"
"We… yeah. We saw. He's… he's gone." Brock stammered out.
Finally, the news seemed to hit her. Delia started to shake, and then to sob. "Oh, Ash… My Ash… Oh, why did I let him go? I should have… Arceus help me!" Misty and Brock rushed to try to comfort her, as she shrieked and sobbed in anguish. "Why! Why him? He was a child! He didn't deserve this!" Delia's heartbreak was crushing to behold. Brock, Misty, and Pikachu cried along with her. It was all they could do.
They held each other for what seemed like a lifetime. Delia fluctuated wildly, seeming almost calm one minute and hysterical the next. Once, she started cackling madly, and for a moment Misty feared that her mind had broken, until the laughs dissolved back into sobs. After many hours, Delia finally calmed down slightly. She was still crying, but the hysteria had at last left her. In those hours, she looked as though she had aged twenty years. Misty and Brock had been met at the door by a vibrant woman, still in her prime. What Misty knelt next to now was a tattered remnant of that person.
Brock had gone off to call Professor Oak, both to tell him the news and so that he could come to help with Delia. He soon returned. "He'll be here soon," Brock said. "He took it better than I had expected." Misty looked up at him, and saw something… different about him. Brock had changed over the last few days. Before The Island (unconsciously, she was already referring to their lives that way: Before the Island, and After the Island), he had still retained a bit of the innocence of childhood in him. Now… Misty saw in his eyes a man, stronger, wiser, and infinitely sadder. She wondered for a moment if she had changed as well. But of course, she knew she had. They all had.
Delia was cuddling Pikachu, holding him as a small child would hold a teddy bear to ward off monsters in the dark. Pikachu was a bit squashed, but he didn't mind. It wasn't every day that a mother lost her son, after all. Pikachu crooned soft, soothing words of to his former trainer's mother. He knew she didn't understand, but it gave her a bit of comfort, so he did it anyway.
Pikachu's ears picked up momentarily when he heard Professor Oak's car pull into the driveway. He let himself in, and walked into the room. "Delia…"
"You don't have to say anything, Samuel." Delia spoke calmly, though tears still flowed. "I'll be okay." Oak looked unconvinced, but he didn't speak of it. Delia looked over at Misty and Brock. "I realize how hard this was for you. Thank you. For everything."
"Thank you, Mrs. Ketchum. For Ash." Misty spoke the words before she realized what she was saying. What did that mean? She thought. But Delia took it well.
"Professor… I have Ash's Pokemon with me," Misty said. "What happens to them?"
"I'll take care of them," Oak replied. Then, thinking again, he turned to Ash's mother. "Unless, of course, Delia, you want to…"
"No, no," Mrs. Ketchum replied. "I don't know if I could. I don't think I could take care of them right, remembering him…"
"All right, then, that's settled. I'll take them at the ranch."
"Pikachupi!" Pikachu had been listening, and as Oak spoke, he ran over to Misty and jumped in her lap. "Pika, Pichupi! Pi kachu, pika pika chu pichu! Pikachu chupi Pikachupi!"("No, not him! I won't, I don't want to go with him! I want to stay with Misty!)
Misty looked down, puzzled, until she finally got the gist of it. "I think Pikachu wants to stay with me. I told him I would take care of him…"
"Well, if you're willing, Pikachu is certainly willing, so I don't see why not," Oak replied slowly.
"And I think Ash would have wanted Pikachu to stay with his friend," Delia murmured.
"Okay, then. I'll take care of him." Misty said. Getting out her bag, she found the other five Pokeballs that held Ash's former Pokemon, and handed them over to the professor.
Misty suddenly remembered Ash's hat, which she had been clutching like a lifeline since walking through the front door. "Mrs. Ketchum," She started, holding out the cap, "this was left behind, when Ash… left. Do you want it?"
Delia shook her head rapidly. "No. I don't want anything more. You keep it. I have enough to remember him by."
"Brock, then?" Misty said, turning to face him.
"No, I don't want it either. You have his Pikachu; it seems… fitting, I guess, that you would keep that bit of him as well."
"Well, okay, then. I guess I'll keep it." Misty had not let go of the hat during all of this, but now, with both Delia's and Brock's approval, she placed it once more upon her own head.
The sky was a light grey, and the air held a slight chill. It was three days later, and they were holding Ash's funeral. It was a simple affair, just Misty, Brock, Delia, Professor Oak, a few of the people from Pallet Town that had known Ash well, and all of their and Ash's Pokemon. It was held in the ranch outside Oak's house. They had decided on that spot because they knew the Pokemon would want to attend and pay their respects, and it was the easiest place for all of them to come. As there was no body to bury, a simple picture of Ash had been set up on a table near a ceremonial headstone. A few somber words about Ash were spoken by Professor Oak and Mrs. Ketchum, a few tears were shed, a few roses were placed lovingly on Ash's empty grave, and that was that. Those at the funeral paid Delia their respects, and departed towards their own homes. Finally, the remaining four walked off of the ranch into Oak's home, where they sat around a living room, sharing memories of Ash. Before long, though, they ran out of things to say, and for a while they sat in silence.
"What will you do now?" Delia asked Brock and Misty. They looked at one another. They didn't know. The trip to Pallet and the ordeal they had gone through there had blocked all other plans from their minds.
"I guess… I'll probably go back to Cerulean City, to the gym, at least for a little while," Misty said. "Beyond that… I don't know yet."
"I think I'll go on to the Johto region," Brock said. "I'm not needed back in Pewter, at least not right now. And I don't want to sit around. I'd rather stay on the road, and keep seeing new places and meeting new people and Pokemon."
"Well, you're welcome to stay with me as long as you like," Delia said. "I wouldn't want Ash's friends…" She trailed off, crying, unable to complete the remark.
"Thank you for the offer, Mrs. Ketchum," Misty said standing up, "but I think I should be on my way. I'll stay at the new Pokemon center in town, and leave for Cerulean in the morning."
"Why don't you stay at the house tonight?" Delia asked, sounding slightly puzzled.
Misty halted, not wanting to offend her. "I just… I need some time to be alone. I haven't had any since Before the Island."
"Yes, I suppose I understand…" Delia replied. "What about you, Brock?"
"Yes," Brock said, "I'll stay here, and leave for Johto when everything is ready."
Misty was startled by this. Misty hadn't thought of Brock leaving her, too, even after he had said he was considering going to Johto. Even though she wanted some time alone, she realized now that she didn't want to be completely alone. But she understood his thoughts. They had been falling apart over the trip to Pallet. Neither particularly wanted to speak to the other, because each reminded the other of Ash, and that was still painful. She wondered again if they would ever be the same as before. "Then I guess this is goodbye…" Tears appeared unbidden in Misty's eyes. Damn it, I'm stronger than this!
Brock smiled, and she was surprised to see that he was crying, too. "It's okay, Misty. I'll see you again." She wrapped her arms around Brock's neck, gave him a quick peck on the cheek, and then turned and walked out of the house, Pikachu following close behind her.
Misty barely held back the coming storm of emotion as she ran through the town. Thankfully, she didn't see any people on her way to the center in Pallet, and she was able to keep her composure as she asked Joy for a room. But as she walked briskly past the desk towards the rooms, she finally started to break. She held on just long enough to get in her room and slam the door shut.
She threw herself down onto the bed and bawled. In two weeks, she had lost her two best friends, and now all she could think to do was to go crawl back home? How had she fallen so far, so fast? She had always been the strong one, able to withstand anything. And now she found herself crying every ten minutes! Brace yourself, girl! Misty commanded herself. You're better than this! You're stronger than this! So start acting like it! Even Pikachu was doing better than her now, and he had lost everything! But then, Misty thought, So have I. Misty steadied herself, and turned to Pikachu. "How do you stay strong, Pikachu?"
"Pika? Chu Pikapika? Pikachu chupi?" (What? How do you not? Don't you feel it?)
Misty thought she understood most of what he was saying, but what did he mean? "Feel what?"
"Pika… chu?" (Feel… it?) Pikachu looked at her quizzically. Either he didn't have the words, or Misty didn't understand them, but either way, Misty couldn't figure out what the little yellow mouse was talking about. She gave up.
"I'll figure it out later," She said. "Now come on. Let's get to bed. I want to be up early and get to Viridian City tomorrow." Misty dressed for bed, and lay down. Pikachu snuggled up with her. He was extremely comforting.
Misty still wondered what Pikachu had meant by "It." She fell asleep wondering.
Misty woke up feeling refreshed, a feeling that quickly vanished. That night had been the first night since Before the Island that she hadn't seen Ash die again in her dreams. She remembered as soon as she woke up, of course, but the night of peace had given her some strength. The mornings had been tough, because every morning, without fail, she would wake up and look around for Ash and Brock. After the year of travelling as a trio, it had become a habit. Over the last week, she would see Brock, but no Ash, and it would all come flooding back. Today, she was totally alone, and that hurt even worse. Well, not totally alone. She looked down at Pikachu. Her Pikachu. It was kind of strange, considering how much Pikachu reminded her of Ash, that Pikachu gave her courage instead of taking it away. Perhaps it was that she felt that she had to stay strong for him. She didn't know. She didn't really care, anyway. The effect was all that mattered.
Misty woke Pikachu up, and together they left the Pokemon center, and walked towards the edge of town. Misty felt strange, as though she was experiencing déjà vu, but from someone else's memory. She thought about how just a little bit over a year ago, Ash had made this same journey out of Pallet, with the same Pikachu she had on her shoulder now. She chuckled a bit as she remembered the first time she saw him, when she pulled him out of the river… He was so helpless. And then he took her bike! And he never did pay her back! "Ash Ketchum!..." She caught herself, as she had been about to start up that old argument again… Although by now, she was already secretly glad that he had given her that reason for following him. It had been a wonderful year. And now it was gone.
Misty raised her hand automatically to wipe the tears from her eyes, before realizing that there weren't any there. She hadn't cried while thinking about him. She felt proud and ashamed at the same time: proud that she was getting over Ash's death, and ashamed that she was already getting over Ash's death, as though she felt she hadn't mourned long enough. Ugh… everything's so mixed up, she thought.
"Pikapi!" Pikachu jumped off of her shoulder and ran off into the forest around the path. "Pikachu! Where are you going?" Misty cried, chasing behind. The mouse led her towards a waterfall on the river. Misty recognized it instantly. It was the waterfall, the one she had been fishing by when she met Ash.
Pikachu ran back and forth along the river's edge, as though he was searching for something he had dropped. As he ran, he cried, "Pikapi! Pikapi! Pikapi…" Pikachu finally slowed and stopped, like he had forgotten what he was doing.
"What's the matter, Pikachu?" Misty inquired. He ran to her and leaped into her arms, shivering. What the heck is going on here? Misty was bewildered. Pikachu had never acted like this before, and Misty was spooked. She looked around, expecting to see a dangerous raging Pokemon or some other hazard, but saw nothing. Bolstered a bit, she spoke soothing words to Pikachu, and he calmed down. She stood, cradling him, for a long time. Finally, she realized that they needed to hit the road. Without a bike or car, it would still be a bit of a trek to reach Viridian before sunset, and Misty really didn't want to have to camp alone at night.
She looked around once more, taking in all the memories this place held for her, and then spoke the words she had not been able to speak for the last two weeks, words that she had never wanted to say, until it was too late to say them. "Goodbye, Ash." She spoke softly, and turned away.
"…No, don't say that… It's never really goodbye, Misty… Not if you still remember…"
She whirled about, but before she even began to turn she knew what she would see.
There was no one there.
She could have sworn she had heard Ash right behind her, and yet… the voice was so soft that she promptly wondered if it was just her mind playing a trick on her. She never remembered hearing him say those words, though she knew certainly his voice well enough to know what it would sound like. But why would she have imagined that? Am I losing it? She thought frantically. Hearing voices no one else can hear is never a good sign. She nearly sprinted back to the road, fretting the whole way, half-hoping and half-dreading that she would hear the voice again. She didn't. When she got back to the road, she let Pikachu climb back on her shoulder, and they walked on.
An hour after sunset, Misty finally made it into Viridian City. They had been making excellent time, until they had been attacked by the flock of Spearow living in the forest. Misty had panicked, and run off into the forest, and although Pikachu took care of the Spearow with a single well-placed Thunder attack (again), she had already got them completely lost. By the time they found the road again, the day was already almost over. She had had to run almost the whole way to get there as late as she did, and she was drop-dead tired. Even the little weights of Pikachu on her shoulder and Togepi in her arms were unbearable. But she made it to the Pokemon center. It had been the hardest day of travel Misty had ever had, and being alone just made things worse.
The worst part was when she reached the center, and Joy recognized her. Joy asked where Ash was, and Misty could not answer. Joy knew something bad had happened, though, and stayed quiet about it after that. Then the nurse said she had a surprise for Misty. She brought Misty outside, behind the Pokemon center.
There, against the wall, sat her old bike, good as new. Nurse Joy had repaired it. Misty walked over to the bicycle, and touched it. She was glad to have it, since it would more than halve her remaining travel time to Cerulean, but it felt… wrong, somehow. That bike had connected her to Ash from the beginning. Taking it back felt like breaking those connections. For a moment, she struggled in her mind between the two choices. In the end, she took it. She was a pragmatist, after all. She thanked Nurse Joy for the bike, and rented a room for the night.
Two days later, as the sun set, Misty rode her bike into Cerulean City. Pikachu rode in the basket, while Togepi sat in Misty's backpack. With the extra speed, she had made it to Pewter in a single day, and Cerulean in another. She had not had to camp alone anywhere along the way. She was glad for that. It made things easier.
Misty jumped off of her bike as she reached the Cerulean gym. She groaned in distaste, as she always did, upon seeing the outside of the gym. It was an awful, garish thing, covered with rainbows and an enormous Dewgong facade. It was sickeningly colorful, and not at all what Misty thought a gym should look like; regal, powerful, and straightforward. But since the gym building doubled as the stadium for the famous Waterflower Sisters' shows, her sisters had used their own ideas for the design. And Daisy, Lily, and Violet were definitely not known for their tact or seriousness. Misty loved her sisters, but sometimes she wished they could be a bit more mature. Or a lot more mature. Yeah, probably that one.
Misty pulled Togepi out of her bag and carried him, as Pikachu scurried onto his usual spot on her shoulder. Together, the three walked into the gym. She wasn't looking forward to meeting her sisters, because she knew they would want to know why she had returned, and why she had Pikachu, and there was no way she could get away without telling them all that had happened to Ash. She had already had to tell the story once, and that was hard, one of the hardest things she had ever had to do. Right now, she wanted never to speak of Ash's death again.
Luckily for Misty, her sisters weren't at the gym. She found a note inside the front door, which said that the sisters were out shopping, and wouldn't be back until nightfall. Misty was relieved for the temporary reprieve, but her relief quickly turned to anger when she realized that they had completely abandoned the gym. What the hell are they thinking? Misty fumed. What if a trainer had showed up? At least one of them should have stayed! Oh, when they get back… Misty took down the note, and tore it up furiously. She had a lot of emotion pent up, and now she finally had something useful to turn it towards: fury at her sisters.
She stormed through the gym, spotting every little detail that her sisters had neglected in her absence, and making mental notes so that she could berate her sisters when they returned. She eventually calmed down somewhat when she reached the pools where the Pokemon resided. It seemed that her sisters had, at least, kept them happy and fit. She was a bit relieved at that, but not enough to completely forgive her sisters.
Pikachu jumped off of Misty's shoulder and ran down to the water. "All right, everybody, come on out!" Misty threw all of her Pokeballs into the air, releasing the Pokemon within. Misty's Staryu, Starmie, and Goldeen joined Misty's Horsea and the Seel, Dewgong, and Seaking in the pool, while Psyduck sat around, confused as ever. Misty decided to spend some time swimming with her Pokemon while she waited for her sisters to arrive. "Pikachu, can you watch Togepi while I go change?" Misty asked. She still felt a bit uneasy about giving Pikachu orders.
"Pi ka!" Pikachu faced Misty and gave a mock salute.
Misty laughed, and said "Thanks, Pikachu." Then she jogged off to her room to put away her travelling things and change.
Just over an hour later, Daisy, Lily, and Violet walked into the gym. "Who took down our sign? I, like, totally worked forever on it!" Lily whined as they walked to the pools.
"I know! Like, what if a trainer had come by?" Violet replied. "They wouldn't know what to do! Who would be so thoughtless?" As she finished speaking, the sisters walked into the pool area, where Misty was waiting for them, foot tapping and arms crossed impatiently. They stopped dead upon seeing her.
"So…" Misty began coldly, "How was your day?"
"Misty! We were… well, we… You know…" Violet started timidly.
"Yeah, save it. Now… Why the hell would you leave the gym completely unsupervised all day long!" Misty shouted at them. "I would have thought, after being in charge of the gym for so long, you three might have gained just a bit of maturity! But I guess that was just too much to hope for, wasn't it? I guess it's a good thing I decided to come back, because you three are obviously just not competent for the task!"
"Wait, you mean… you're not just, like, visiting?" Lily asked, confused. Misty's sisters had heard this kind of tirade from Misty so many times before that at this point it barely bothered them, but the fact that she had come back to stay, that was surprising. "But what about those two guys you were with? Like, what happened with them? And doesn't that Pikachu over there, like, belong to that kid Ash? Where is he?"
And there it was, already. Misty had got so caught up in enjoying her time with her Pokemon and being angry at her sisters that she had forgotten about having to tell them about Ash. Misty looked away from her sisters, over to Pikachu, who was watching his new mistress closely. He ran over to her, realizing that she might need his support now.
"I… I won't be travelling with Brock and… Ash… anymore," Misty mumbled, her rage and fire from a moment ago lost.
"But what happened? And why do you have Ash's Pikachu?" Daisy asked.
"He doesn't belong to Ash anymore." Misty said softly. She bent down and let Pikachu climb onto her shoulder. "Pikachu is my Pokemon now."
Her sister's looked closely at her, and they began to see the pain lurking behind her eyes. "Misty… what happened to Ash?" Violet inquired.
"Ash… died. He was killed by a Pokemon." Misty mumbled. She tried to keep her story as short as possible, so she could get through it faster and try to keep control.
The three sisters gasped in shock at the news. "Oh, Misty… I'm so sorry." Violet said. Lily and Daisy murmured their agreement, and the sisters embraced Misty as one. Their attempts to comfort her sent her over the edge, and she broke down once more, in their arms. Daisy, Lily, and Violet held her as she cried for several minutes, but she soon regained her composure. Once again, Misty felt that strange mix of pride and shame as she recognized how much further she had come in controlling her grief.
Over the next several weeks, Misty settled back into her old life at the gym. Once more she battled as the Gym Leader, as both she and her sisters agreed that she was by far the best Water Pokemon trainer. Although she wouldn't use Pikachu in gym battles, she trained with him often, and with his help, she trained her Pokemon to overcome their type disadvantages. Pikachu was a little restless at times, having been on the road for so long, but he soon became accustomed to his new life as well. She kept in touch with Brock through mail and phone calls as he journeyed through Johto. It had been hard to talk to him at first, as it would always bring the memories back, but she didn't want to just throw away such a good friend as Brock.
At times she envied him for his freedom and for all the new places he saw and the people and Pokemon he got to meet. He had met Duplica, their friend from Kanto, at an acting contest after a few weeks in Johto, and he now travelled with her. Misty was glad that he wasn't alone anymore; she had felt guilty, for the first couple of weeks, for leaving Brock to travel alone.
Time passed, as it tends to do.
Misty stayed at the gym most of the time. She yearned, now and again, for those old days on the road with her old friends Ash and Brock. Although she never lost contact with Brock completely, the time between phone calls and letters increased steadily, until eventually she only talked with him once every month or two. He had travelled all through Johto, and though he parted ways with Duplica, he journeyed onward to Hoenn, where he met a cute, spunky girl named May and her kid brother Max.
Misty had even got to meet them, once. She had coincidentally been invited to a Togepi Festival at the same place as them. She was glad to get to share in their adventures for once, as they fought a man trying to usurp power over the Mirage Kingdom. While there, Togepi had evolved into Togetic, and helped to defeat the evil man. But Togetic had decided to stay, and guard the Togepis' home in the Mirage Paradise. Misty had been sad, but she let Togetic go. Then they returned back to Hoenn, and Misty had left Brock, May, and Max to return to Cerulean.
When Brock was done in Hoenn, he parted ways with Max and May, and sailed to Sinnoh, where he met another girl, Dawn, who he (surprise, surprise) travelled with for his entire trip there. It always amused Misty, how he could never travel alone, at least not for long, before finding some sort of companion. Brock learned a lot about the world during his journeys, and even met several Legendaries! But in the end, he finally tired of his journeys. He left Dawn with a strange, dark boy named Paul (a jerk by all accounts, but there was a strange connection forming between Dawn and Paul, and he did seem a bit softer around her) and returned to his home in Pewter, where he became, once again, the Gym Leader. Misty was a bit saddened to see his journeys end, especially when hers had ended so long ago, but he seemed happy with his place in Pewter, and she wasn't going to try to convince him otherwise. After that, they kept in very close contact.
With Pikachu's help in training, along with Misty's indomitable, fiery spirit, the Cerulean Gym became one of the most respected and feared gyms, not only in the Kanto region, but even in the world beyond. Many, many trainers tried and failed to defeat Misty; so much so that in the end, she gave out many more badges for trainers who battled hard enough to earn the badge, though they lost in the end, than she did to trainers who actually defeated her (and her standards for the badge were very high indeed).
Eventually the pain of losing Ash receded, for the most part, at least; it never vanished entirely, and every once in a long while, Misty would wake up, drenched in sweat and stifling a scream, from a nightmare of that terrible night when she had lost him.
But the most important thing is, Misty never forgot, over all that time, that young, dense, courageous trainer who she had spent a single, glorious year with, the boy who had given her what were still the best days of her life, Ash Ketchum. How could she? After all, she still had his Pikachu.
And she always, always wore his hat.
Well, whenever she could.
Misty had her own story, a very, very long story, in fact, which stretched over those years, but those years were, really, kind of repetitive, and a bit dull to read about.
For us, the story doesn't really pick up again until six years after Ash's death, on an ordinary afternoon, of an ordinary day, that led to what was anything but an ordinary night…
BLAM! First chapter complete!
So, how did you like it? I've got to say, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. Mostly because I finally finished it, after a great deal of writer's block, and finally a decision to outline the entire story beforehand so I don't get halfway through and realize I don't know where I'm going.
So, some notes:
I've got a pretty good idea where the story is going, but I still have to write it. I do have a lot of free time, but I don't know how long it will take me to write a chapter, especially since I'm aiming for at least four thousand words per update, and hoping for six thousand, and all that takes some time. This chapter is already longer than that, but it's the first, and I had a point I wanted to get to before I cut it off. If I haven't got the next chapter worked out in three weeks, I'll update saying what's wrong. Otherwise, sometime in the next three weeks I hope to finish the next chapter and have it posted. I considered just writing the whole thing and posting it as a single unit, but I think it's going to be waaaay too long for me to do that.
You may have noticed that I removed Togepi from the story. That's because I hate that freaking egg. I hate it, I hate writing about it, and I hate what it did to Misty's character. So I decided that the easiest way to get it gone from this tale would be to use the one they used in the actual show.
And I realize that the odds of Brock meeting exactly the same travelling companions as Ash does in the story are roughly nil, especially considering he skipped the Orange Islands, and therefore skipped over all the time that Ash, Misty, and Tracey spent there, but... I wanted to leave it open for those characters to come into the story if I want them to. I don't know if I will yet, since I haven't written any of it except for some of the second chapter, but you never know. Don't get your hopes up too high, though. If they come in, I don't think it will be for a long while.
Oh, and I realize that there was no AAML in this chapter. I'm sorry, but that's not going to come in at all for a couple of chapters yet. I hope that the prize at the end will keep you reading! I know it's going to keep me writing.
I'll have more motivation if I get some readers and such, so please review. I'll write rather you do or not (I hope), but I'd really like to know what you think. For one thing, readers can catch mistakes and such, and for another… Well, I guess sometimes reviewers have good ideas. I don't know, I don't have any yet.
Okay, then, this is James, aka FTEcho4, signing off! Thank you very much for reading, and I'll be back with more story soon.
April 17, 2010-Minor edits. Fixed the problems in the dialogue and changed a few words throughout for clarity. That is all. ~James
August 3, 2010-Fixed Title and added a note to the top. ~James