"Alright, try a Volt Tackle!" Ash shouted as Pikachu rushed forward, enveloping itself in sparks as it rushed at the Piplup in front of it.
"Not so fast, Ketchum! Piplup, Whirlpool!" Dawn shouted back. Piplup raised a large swirling mass of water and hurled it at Pikachu.
Just as the attacks were about to collide, all four of the battlers were distracted by the sound of Brock's voice.
"Hey guys, take a break! Lunch is ready!"
Ash sighed, immediately rushing over to the cabin they were staying in as Pikachu canceled its attack. "Good, I'm starving!"
Smirking as Ash nearly rammed into the door, Dawn followed, not as eager as Ash but still fairly hungry herself. Piplup leapt into her arms as they walked inside. When she did, Ash had sat down and was already stuffing his face.
"You know, as much as I love training, eating is something I love just as much, you know?"
Brock smiled. A tiny voice caught Ash's attention. "Pikapi, pika, pikachu?"
Ash leaned over and rubbed Pikachu's head. "Yeah, and I love you too, Pikachu."
Dawn smiled at the scene. Ash and Pikachu had always been close, and nothing would tear them apart.
Just as Brock had set Dawn's plate on the table, the lights began to flicker before going out completely.
"Great, looks like the power went out…"
Ash smiled softly, which was hard to see in the darkness. "Don't worry, guys, we got this one. Pikachu, Thunderbolt the lights!"
Pikachu took a deep breath and sent a bolt of lightning up into the lights on the ceiling. They flickered for a moment before lighting up again. However, this was not what Dawn and Brock were focused on at the moment, as something more had caught their eyes. Ash had shielded his face with one hand as Pikachu had attacked, shutting his eyes tightly and wincing as if he were in pain. When everyone was sure the lights were back on, Brock spoke up.
"Ash, you okay?"
"Huh? Uh, yeah, fine…"
"But you just-"
Ash smashed his finger to his lips in a motion of an urgent desire for Brock to stop talking. "SHH! I'm fine!!!"
Brock began to speak up, but stopped when he saw the pleading look in Ash's eyes. "I'll explain later," Ash whispered to Dawn and Brock.
Dawn and Brock just exchanged glances, keeping their thoughts to themselves and sitting down to eat.
Later that night, clouds had gathered outside and it had started to rain, quickly turning into a harsh thunderstorm with lightning flashing left and right, and thunder booming in the skies. Ash seemed to be avoiding most everyone, with the exception of Pikachu. However, even Pikachu seemed to notice something was wrong. Ash would pass by, kneel down beside it, rub its head, and tell it to remember he loves it. As much as Pikachu liked the attention, Ash seemed very nervous about something. Lately, he'd done this when it rained like this. He'd done the same thing the other night in the Pokemon Center…
As Ash repeated this for the fifth time that night, Pikachu eventually got tired and trudged up the stairs, plopping down in Ash's bed and closing its eyes. After all the other Pokemon had gone to sleep, Dawn and Brock forced Ash to sit down on a couch downstairs, having noticed his strange behavior. Gazing out a window while the others found a place to sit, he winced the same way he had earlier, whimpering very softly. Dawn tilted her head.
"Okay, Ash, what's going on here? You've been acting really weird lately, and I can't figure out why!"
"Same here," Brock replied. Ash sighed.
"You have to promise you won't laugh."
They both nodded. "Of course not."
"And…you can't tell Pikachu. Or any of my Pokemon."
After exchanging looks, they nodded at this as well.
"I'm…I'm…I'm afraid of lightning!"
"WHAT???" Dawn jumped up. "You can't be! You have an electric-type…Pokemon…Ash, is that why…"
Ash nodded sadly. "That's why I've been telling Pikachu I love it so much lately."
Meanwhile, a particularly loud bang of thunder had woken up Pikachu. It sat up and looked next to it; Pikapi still hadn't come to bed yet. Maybe he couldn't sleep…Pikachu began to walk down the hallway towards the stairs, listening to Ash and Dawn talk back and forth. It decided to wait for a break in the conversation.
"So you…you're telling the truth?"
"Sadly, Dawn, yeah. I've been afraid since I was 7."
Pikachu was confused. Afraid of what?
Brock's voice. "But how come it's just been lately?"
"When I turned 10 I tried really hard to drop it, and I knew I HAD to when I got Pikachu."
Pikachu shook its head in disbelief. Pikapi was afraid of something? He was so fearless all the time! It had to be hearing things…
Dawn this time. "So why are you afraid?"
"When I was 7 years old…Gary got struck by lightning…he had to go to the hospital and get surgery…he almost died…"
Pikachu froze. Did he really just say lightning?
No. Maybe it was hospitals, or surgery…lightning? It couldn't be…
Brock again. "So why'd it come back?"
"I've had lots of nightmares about that day lately…like that I was the one struck by lightning, or Gary had died, or-"
So it WAS lightning.
Pikachu felt tears push at its eyes as it dashed back into Ash's room…
At last, Ash stepped into the room in his pajamas and flopped onto the bed beside Pikachu. He rubbed its head and smiled, like he usually did before bed.
"Night, buddy. You wanna train some more tomorrow?"
To Ash's surprise, Pikachu shook its head. Ash was confused. Pikachu always wanted to train with him.
"If you want, we can take a day off and go swimming or something. There's a river nearby, you wanna do that?"
Pikachu shook its head once more.
"Okay, then how does some ice cream sound?"
Another shake of the head. Ash was starting to worry. Something was really wrong if it shook its head no to what he said next…
"Alright. Maybe tomorrow…I can go out and buy you a nice big bottle of ketchup. The biggest one out there. And you can have it all to yourself, no interupptions. Would you like that?"
Ash felt awful when Pikachu shook its head again. He frowned.
"Alright, something's up. What's wrong with you? You just shot down a huge bottle of ketchup!"
"Pikapi…" Pikachu's voice was quiet and sad. Ash gently laid his hand on its arm, but Pikachu pulled away.
"Pikachu…don't tell me you heard anything…"
Pikachu felt almost as awful as Ash as it rolled over to show Ash the tears pushing at its eyes, its voice breaking. "Pi…ka…pi…"
Ash embraced the small Pokemon tightly. "Pikachu, I'm sorry! I didn't want you to find out because I KNEW you'd be upset! This is exactly what I was trying to prevent!"
After crying for a short five minutes, Pikachu finally looked up at Ash tearfully from its current position with its head resting on Ash's shoulder.
"Pikachu, I'm sorry, really. I can't help it. Gary almost died. I almost watched someone die because of lightning. But I got over it solely because I met you. You made me like lightning, like getting zapped all the time. That's why I dealt with it. At first, I didn't say anything, but I was actually afraid of you that whole time you were mad at me when we first met. Really afraid. But I liked you enough to try and make friends with you. I always felt a little scared around you after that, but I loved you enough to just suck it up. Even now…I'm still a little worried being this close to you. Not just you. The same thing with Dawn's Pachirisu, and any other Electric-Type Pokemon. Please forgive me, I still will always love you…always…"
Pikachu gently licked Ash's cheek, smiling. "Pikapi…" Ash didn't feel so bad now; this was Pikachu's version of a kiss. Ash gently kissed Pikachu back on the cheek. Pikachu sparked happily, blushing. Ash never usually did things like that.
"Pikachu, just to prove I really love you, I'll let you zap me. Any way you want, as hard as you want…"
Ash opened his arms willingly and shut his eyes as Pikachu fired a thunderbolt at him. While still being shocked, Pikachu leapt into Ash's arms. Both out of kindness and body reaction, Ash's arms closed around Pikachu, pulling it into an embrace. Finally, Pikachu ran out of energy, and both of them lay there panting softly with exhaustion after the long attack. Ash closed his eyes.
"I love you, Pikachu. No matter what."
"Pi, pikachu," Pikachu replied. Both of them drifted off to sleep at last.
Ash's nightmares disappeared that night.