Sleep Tight

by Spruceton Spook

Chapter 4

"Are You Feeling All Right, Uh . . .?"

"Misty, no!" Ash shouted at me, rattling his knees to stir my head. "C'mon, just a little while longer!"

"I…can't, Ash," I struggled, wincing as the comprehension that I wasn't in control of my own body anymore invaded me. I could feel my head float, my body space out, everything within me just shut off. No, I couldn't go to sleep…why couldn't I go against it? Why was it getting harder? What if…

"Ash! Misty!"

The voice of an angel—Brock's voice. For a moment, I even thought I had already seeped into a dream, as he sounded as if he were miles away, echoing in my subconscious. But it wasn't a dream, and Ash's excited lurch beneath me sent that shock through me rapidly.

"Brock!?" Ash exclaimed loudly, trying to keep as steady as he possibly could. My eyes shot open anyway, darting shakily to the entrance of the tent. It was very fuzzy, and it seemed to double, twist and wind before me. I squinted furiously, trying to make out the blurry image that thrust itself through the tent. The colors agreed with my expectations, and despite my lousy focus, I knew it was Brock. The distinct "pika!" that accompanied his arrival posed no question in my mind.

"I'm here, I'm back," he said, his tone unchanged since he left us. It was still heavily distraught and panicky. He came into clearer view as he approached me, stooping down and delicately outstretching his hand to my head. I gave him a weak, yet undeniably warm, smile.

"Hey, Misty," he said tenderly, his one hand stroking my forehead, the other lifting my bandage to check on the damage. "Are you feeling all right?"

"She's very tired, Brock," Ash answered him for me. Brock's attention shot to Ash. "She's having a hard time keeping awake."

Brock nodded, biting his lip as he looked back down at me. "Well, you don't have to worry any more, Misty. We're getting out of here, okay? We're going to get you to some help right away."

"Thank God," I replied, the rapture of his perfect words flooding me. "We—we're getting out of here?"

Brock beamed, just as Ash spoke up.

"How, Brock? Who'd you find?"

Brock's head lowered, shaking it almost miserably. He buried it in his hand. "You wouldn't believe it if I told you…"

"Is this it?"

"I can't tell, it's too dark!"

"Why'd he have ta be so speedy? How are we supposed ta follow if he's so fast?"

Oh no. Those voices…this had to be dream. One really crazy, wacky dream. Surely, Brock hadn't brought back…

The sides of the tent rustled, and three hazy, yet very familiar faces appeared in the entrance, their heads held high and firmly.

"Prepare for trouble, we're coming to you under the light of the moon!"

"Make that double, looks like someone's been chasing about the tombs of doom."

"SHUT UP!" Brock yelled suddenly, his booming, impatient tone making me flinch. "I've already heard enough of that tonight!"

"Team Rocket!?" Ash growled horridly, his reeling legs bobbling my head uncomfortably. That, and the likewise shock I was going through myself. "Brock, you brought Team Rocket here!?"

"Ash, listen," Brock began to explain.

"Hey!" Jessie spat coldly at him, folding her arms. "That's the thanks we get for coming to help?"

James turned his head away gruffly. "Maybe we should just leave. How insulting!"

Ash didn't take what Team Rocket was saying, though at this point I really wished he had. Despite Brock returning with the three individuals I'd least expected, I was just thrilled to see someone else there who could help us out. I cringed as Ash's ear-ringing objections poured from his lips.

"Out of all people, this is who you find?" I glanced up to watch him shoot a venomous glare at the infamous trio.

"Ash, they're here to help us," Brock tried to reassure him, reaching his arms out to hold him back.

"How do you know that?" Ash snarled. I could feel each statement he was proclaiming as his body tightened at each one.

"Ash…" I tried to address, my voice wavering. Ash threw me a glance, which meant he'd heard me, but shot daggers straight at Team Rocket again.

"Ash, would you just listen?" Brock begged insanely. "Look, they followed us here, but they were hiding out on the other side of the cemetery. I'm glad I ran into them, because all I did was tell them the situation, and they're willing to help us out!" He, nevertheless, gave Team Rocket an antagonistic look. "After trying to steal Pikachu."

"That's not a surprise to me!" Ash responded, hostile. "But why would they want to help? And how do we know we can still trust them?"

As much as I wanted to contribute my own thoughts, it was difficult. My lack of stamina was making the thought of talking a strain, and all I could do was helplessly watch my fate being fought out between two warring sides. The times I looked towards Team Rocket, I gave them soft smiles, looks of gratitude. I wanted them to see that I was willing to accept the help, that I trusted Brock and them. But Ash's perspective of the situation was not one to toss away, either. After all, this was Team Rocket, but I was too out of it now to be pessimistic. I wanted to just get out of there.

Jessie snapped in Ash's direction. "Because, twerp, no matter how mean and nasty and inconsiderate we may be, we also know when our help is direly needed."

At that, I shuddered as her eyes set upon me, softening considerably. She crawled over to me and examined me frugally, even lifting up my bandage once. I didn't dare move as she did, letting her know I was fully accepting her aid, but I knew Ash wasn't happy. I was still resting on his lap, and I could feel him tense as she hovered over me.

Silence took over the tent as she looked over me. "Are you feeling all right, uh…?"

"Misty," I mumbled with a garbled chuckle.

She sweatdropped. "R-right, Misty."

"I'm tired and I have a little bit of a headache," I replied simply, my voice dragging out the emphasis of my state.

Jessie looked up at Brock or Ash, probably both since they were right beside each other. Didn't matter. "She's going to need stitches," she murmured apathetically, sounding as if she herself didn't want to sound concerned for me. I knew better, though.

"I figured that," Brock answered.

Jessie got up from me and went over to James and Meowth, who were looking over the scene with squeamish faces. She stopped before them and looked back, her expression listless.

"Come on," she spoke dully. That was for Brock to come in.

"Misty," he said lightly, "Team Rocket is going to fly us out of the cemetery in their hot-air balloon, okay? You going to have to get up and walk with us."

I think I stunned him with my lack of hesitation as I pushed myself off Ash's lap abruptly, immediately feeling his and Brock's hands assisting me on. To me, I couldn't have waited longer for those words, whether they referred to how I was or where we were. I was just happy that soon my troubles would be extinguished. My head didn't agree too much with my aspiration, however; it nearly brought me down again with its aching weight.

"Easy, Misty," Ash's trembling voice uttered. "Be careful."

I was glad to hear that he wasn't objecting to Team Rocket helping anymore, but that didn't necessarily mean he wasn't still upset about it. At this point, though, he had no choice. I wasn't angry with him at all about how he reacted—it was more than expected.

Brock and Ash whispered to me encouragingly as I got up and crawled out the tent, making sure Ash grabbed Togepi and my bag. When he returned to me and reluctantly placed Togepi in my arms after I badgered him to, he slipped his arm into mine and huddled close to me. Despite the fact that Brock was on my immediate other side, I didn't resist laying my head on Ash's shoulder.

We left the tent behind, and as we followed Team Rocket through the dark, endless cemetery that had once chilled me to the bone, I felt more than comforted. Maybe because I had two people beside me who I cared so deeply about, or maybe because of my injury, but I'd lean towards the first. I closed my eyes a few times as we walked on, listening to Ash's coarse breathing and nuzzling my face against the warmth of his shoulder. My nose even tickled a few times as his hair skimmed against it, taking in his familiar scent.

"Ash…" I whispered, ending there, never really having anything else to go with the statement.

"Don't worry, Misty," Ash replied just as softly. "Even though Team Rocket's helping us out, I'm gonna make sure you get better tonight. I'll make sure of it."

I smiled broadly, taking a deep whiff of the fresh night air around us, and nestled more into Ash. I squeezed his arm tightly and rubbed my cheek against it. I wondered if, just for fun, he'd tell me a story as we traveled to where they were taking me, not to ease my fears anymore or make my pain go away, but just to hear him talk.

No one spoke, however. Team Rocket was always ahead of us, turning around occasionally to see if we were still there, mostly glancing at me. We got to the balloon barely minutes later, and James lifted me into it, being very careful with me. For once, I was glad of their unending stalking. I was sure to smile and thank him, as I did with all three of them until they got me to the Pokémon Center, where Nurse Joy willingly and swiftly contacted the town's physician to call upon me.

Team Rocket left quietly after that, and even Ash felt obliged to thank them for their service. They just smiled smugly and accepting it, accompanying with that a promise that we would meet again under "normal" circumstances. Same old Team Rocket, but once again, as they'd proved other times, they had just as much heart in them as they did corruption. No matter how indifferent they were to act about the ordeal, I still knew that deep down they were glad to help.

Once they were gone, Ash was again focused entirely on me. Not to say that Brock wasn't, for the poor guy nearly asked how I was every ten seconds and attended to my bandage even more. He didn't even take a second-look at the Nurse Joy, who was fussing over me just as much. But Ash…the bond we had fortified in just the short time that night never let me go. I felt its strength between us as he knelt beside me where I lay on the examining table intended for Pokémon, gripping my hand so tightly it drew perspiration. His brow continuously furrowed as he watched over me, shooting his attention often to the clock that hung on the wall, wondering ceaselessly when the doctor would come.

When he did arrive, a whole new feeling swept through me. Nothing could match the happiness and relief I experienced as his tender face greeted me, his warm hand reaching out to remove my sticky bandage. He lips pursed when he saw my injury, hanging over me to gently look over it.

"Ooh," he cringed slightly, being sure to replace his recoil with a comforting smile. It was a weird feeling to not have my bandage replaced. I felt every breeze and chill rush across my forehead, stinging it. It didn't matter any more, though; I knew I was in good hands now.

"What happened to you, honey?" the doctor asked, brushing some of my sweaty hair from my face.

Ash and Brock were beside me to inform him on all that, and he was no doubt surprised to hear my uncommon predicament. He told me that he didn't want to hesitate any longer, that my wound was quite large, and I had, in fact, lost a substantial—but not dangerous—amount of blood, which was most certainly the cause of my extreme weariness. Stitches were a given. He was very impressed to see how well Ash and Brock had attended to my injury, telling them that their mature and thoughtful actions made a great difference. They blushed wildly, and I was especially thrilled to see that in Brock, who I knew I'd be thanking repeatedly for his wonderful handling of such a stressful event for as long as I could remember.

Ash, on the other hand, was something entirely different. Brock's magnificent work was over, but I still needed Ash. As the doctor tried to usher Brock and Ash from the table, I grabbed hold of Ash's hand.

"Can Ash stay with me, please?" I whispered, my words garbled. The doctor looked ready to object, but after the small pleas I gave, he smiled and relented. While Brock stepped aside and Nurse Joy stayed on hand to help out with anything she could, Ash knelt beside me and clutched my hand in his.

"You're gonna be fine, Misty," he spoke softly into my ear. I glanced up into his gleaming eyes and smiled weakly, taking a deep breath to calm my trembling nerves.

"Sure she will," the doctor agreed, opening his bag and pulling out some supplies. I didn't watch him do it. I had turned back to look at Ash. "She's a strong girl to have already gone through this."

"I know," Ash chuckled, never taking his eyes off of me.

He continued to smile with such tenderness as the doctor began to wipe my blood away and wash my wound with peroxide, which stung horribly. I winched like crazy and let out a few groans of displeasure, already wondering how I was going to get through this. Ash shushed me relaxingly through this first ordeal, which was quite long. I guess the germs needed to be killed before the stitches, but I wanted this over as quickly as possible. Though the pain was what was mostly on my mind, I was still shaking uncontrollably, deathly nervous. I knew Ash sensed this, for he squeezed my hand even tighter and jiggled it a little to relieve the tension of the moment.

"It's okay," he whispered delicately.

"You're doing fine, sweetheart," the doctor told me, his voice still flowing. "You're doing great. Don't worry, I'm done with that."

I took yet another deep breath, more than gladdened to hear that. The sting was subsiding, but it still smarted uncomfortably. Rolling my eyes forward, they locked on Brock. He looked worried when I caught him, but he gave me a friendly wink nonetheless, waving sweetly. I couldn't wave back, which I really wanted to, so I just smiled back.

"Misty," the doctor said, bringing my attention from Brock. He waited for our eyes to meet before he continued. "I'm going to start the stitches now, all right? I'm going to give you some topical anesthetic, but it'll hurt still just a tiny little bit. It won't take long, I promise. Okay?"

"Okay," I answered, my voice raspy. I was scared, but tried to remember all that Ash had told me and how I shouldn't be worried. I wasn't the first person to have ever gone through this, after all, but it was hard to be brave. I decided to shut my eyes, knowing well that Ash didn't suspect I was trying to sneak off into sleep again.

The doctor smeared a bit of topical anesthetic on my forehead, and I immediately felt the sting abate slightly. When the needle came to my head for the first time, I could still feel the sharp pinch. I balked and gripped Ash's hand furiously as I felt it pierce my already sensitive skin.

"Shhh," Ash soothed me. "It's okay."

I relaxed as he said this, but also because the needle was already through and out of my skin. The doctor paused a bit before going to continue. I winced again, not as much as the first time, though. The medicine was kicking in. I tried to keep myself steady to make it easier for the doctor.

Ash brought his other hand up and to clench mine as well, occasionally rubbing my arm up and down as the doctor continued to sew me up. It wasn't that bad, the worst being the first time. As he continued, the pain and shock of it subsided, but never did Ash's words. I spoke with the doctor the few times he addressed me during the procedure, but mostly I talked with Ash, asking him to tell me what was happening and how far done I was. I was surprised to see Ash watching the whole thing attentively, never once flinching from a sight I'd probably faint over.

It really didn't take that long, and before I knew it, Ash smiled to tell me that it was done, which the doctor confirmed. He taped some heavy gauze to my forehead and patted it down sensitively, pinching my nose playfully to end on a soft note.

"All done, Misty," he said blissfully, almost like he was as thankful for it to be over as I was. "You're going to be okay."

"I am?" I asked hopefully, letting my grin extend. "Thank you, doctor."

"You're more than welcome."

I blinked long and easily, breathing a sigh. "Can I sleep now?"

Ash and the doctor laughed, adding to the swift feeling of joy as my anxiety melted away. Brock and Nurse Joy came up beside me and gazed down at me, as well. I didn't mind all the eyes on me…it made me feel comforted. I joined in on their laughs, but I was still tensely awaiting the doctor's word. Sleep remained the one thing on my mind.

"I don't see why not, honey," the doctor replied. "You've done a great job of keeping yourself awake up until this point. I think you're out of the danger zone."

My head instantly twisted towards Ash, and I gave him a fantastic smile. He matched it effortlessly, looking about as pleased and utterly relieved as I was. It was cute—in a way, it almost seemed like he had gone through the procedure, as well. I couldn't take my eyes off him. It was like we had lapsed into our own world, like we were supposed to go through this together, to have this happy ending. Nothing could explain the way my body was relaxing or how my pain and fear were just wasting away. But as the word "sleep" danced about in my head, Ash's face gazing down at me vanished every few seconds as my eyelids fell heavily and rhythmically.

I'll tell ya, I'd never expected I'd be in that bed in the Pokémon Center that night. But there I was, resting comfortably on my back not half-an-hour later, the sheets brought up to my chin warmly and Togepi cuddled beside me. It was absolute heaven, the best feeling I'd felt in days. The room was lit, as Brock and Ash were still up and about in preparation for the night, attending to our simple means while I was patiently awaiting their return. At least I knew they weren't going to try to scare me anymore.

Ash was the first one to return, cautiously opening our door and sticking his head through first, a huge grin sweeping from one ear to the other. I opened my eyes to greet him, pathetically matching his exuberant beam with a weak smirk. My whole body melted upon seeing him, cascading through me a pleasant wave of comfort and content. It was weird, but in that short time Ash was not with me, there was an empty feeling that wracked me, only to be overflowed with the sight of his adorable face poking through that crack in the doorway. I beckoned him over to me, groaning a comical 'hello.'

Ash shuffled his way in with Pikachu at his side, closing the door almost sneakily behind him. I couldn't get over how silly he was since my operation was over, knowing that his nonsensical acting was keeping up with the current mood of the night. The hyperness in between the tense moments was still fresh in our minds, and yet, how could it not be? No longer was the fact that we had been locked in a cemetery, or that we had gotten on each other's nerves so viciously, or that I had nearly killed myself after smashing my head against a gravestone important. None of that was on our minds. Tip-toeing quietly over to me, Ash cocked his head playfully and bared his flashy, white (and hopefully brushed) teeth in a tremendously giddy smile. Pikachu hopped onto my bed, nuzzling his cuddly head against my face.

"What are you so happy about, Ash Ketchum?" I sneered at him, narrowing my eyes in good fun.

Ash shrugged crazily, hopping down to kneel beside my bed. I stroked Pikachu's fur as I stared rigidly at him, biting the grin off my lips. Ash just stared back, bunching his face as if to ware me down.

"Where's Brock?"

"I killed him," Ash replied impassively.

"Oh, really?" I replied, my eyes arching. Not that it was much of an arch; they were barely open as it was.

"Yeah," Ash sighed, nodding. "Just couldn't stand sharing a sink with him to brush my teeth."

Well, that answered that question. I chuckled, both from his stupid little joke and my own inside one, as well. I stretched, jutting my feet out from the blanket at the end and yawning loudly. Just as last time, Ash yawned, too.

"Quit copying me," I warned, reaching out to teasingly yank his ear.

"It's addicting," Ash replied, followed by another yawn.

"Well, it is late, so I guess you can get away with it tonight."

"Good," he answered. "Because I really am pooped out. And you should be, too."

I sighed. "Trust me, I am."

"I won't disagree with that," Ash said. "I really can't believe you're not out already! I was expecting to come in here before and see you snoring away."

I smiled, looking down at Pikachu. The little guy was now sprawled across my stomach upside-down, immersed in the belly-rub I was giving him. As cute as it was, Ash sitting right next to me was drawing my eyes more, much like he did all the time. But something was different tonight.

"I couldn't sleep yet," I told him.

"Why not?"

"Because I had to see you before I went to bed," I mumbled. "I couldn't yet."

Ash's sleepy eyes drooped pleasingly at that. "Never bothered you before."

I tilted my head to signify the shrug I couldn't give lying down. "Well, it's different tonight."

Ash grinned. "Why, what do you want, a bedtime story or something? How 'bout the time I—"

"No, no, Ash!" I giggled, grabbing a fistful of his hair and playfully jerking his head back and forth. He laughed, too, yelping from my gentle tugging. "Tell me that tomorrow. I don't think I can stay awake that much longer."

"Then what?"

"Because," I said, pausing a moment with my mouth agape, gazing at Pikachu's ears twitching with delight, "I owed you something before you went to bed tonight."

"Oh, geez," Ash groaned, throwing his face down into my comforter. "Couldn't you wait for tomorrow to punish me for what happened tonight? Oh wait! On second thought, you being all weak and all, maybe this would be a better time—"

"Ash!" I laughed, interrupting his crazy mumbling. "You're such a lunatic!" I softened my voice. "No, not that. This."

He backed away slightly as I hoisted myself up from the pillow, extending my arms around his shoulders and squeezing him tight. I embraced him with every thankful muscle I had in my body, leaning my head against his. It only took but a second for him to do the same, though his hug was a lot looser. It grew firmer as the hug lasted longer, neither one of us making a move or saying a word. I just listened to our breathing, gentle and calming. My fingers tenderly tugged at his warm shirt.

"Thanks for helping me through all that tonight, Ash," I whispered, basking in the wondrous sensation of the fervent embrace. My eyes shut radiantly. "I love ya."

I withdrew from the hug to gaze into Ash's face, which gleamed happily. He smiled, a dash of pink glowing beneath his eyes. He shrugged, running a hand through his floppy hair.

"Y-you're welcome," he replied, the whole statement coming out in a jittery sigh. His hand flew through his hair again and again, giggling apprehensively.

Ash didn't know what else to say, and I didn't want to torture him. Giving him another amiable smile, I whispered affably, "Good-night, Ash."

He didn't have a problem with that one, sweet boy. Standing up and brushing his shirt down, his beamed. His eyes shut momentarily, accompanied with a sleepy sigh.

"Good-night, Misty," he replied, reaching out to brush the hair off my bulgy bandage. My stomach fluttered with pleasure. "Sleep tight."

The End

Well, there you have it! Hope you liked my little ficcie! And, um, I'm pretty sure you're glad Misty ain't dead. ;;; What a relief, right? Heehee. Anyways, once more tons and tons and millions of thanks to all you readers out there. Thanks for the awesome, very appreciated reviews! I love you guys! I'll be back soon . . . if school doesn't kill me first. Especially Fridays at school. -- This used to be the one thing I looked forward to doing on Friday to make up for a horrible, hectic day, but hey . . . what can you do? LOL Thanks again!! Spook