(NOTE TO NEW READERS: Welcome to this monster of a fic that I've been writing for years now. I hope you enjoy what's to come, but I feel I need to inform you all that this story is currently undergoing chapter reformatting. The story itself isn't changing, but as I look back on HOW I wrote these older chapters, I find them unsatisfactory compared to the caliber of writer I am today. So until the work is complete, you will at some point find that the chapter formats are much different than these first few chapters. The reason being that I have already fixed these first few chapters and am working on more even as we speak. Thank you for reading my story, and I hope you enjoy no matter what!

So, after reading a bunch of stories, I noticed that there have been no recent ones lately starring Ash and Misty. That's probably because Misty has been out of the loop for so long. Well now I'm going to bring her back into the loop! And basically this story will go along the storyline of Dawn's era, but will quite often have some twists and extras added to accompany Misty. Except for these first few chapters where I actually bring her back into the group. So, in case you need the ages, here you go.

Ash: 14

Misty: 15

Dawn: 13

Brock: 18


Chapter 1

Ash's POV

I never would've guessed that a friendly battle before nightfall would have this effect on me...nevertheless, here I am, awake in the middle of the night, holding the item that was causing me to think about her. It was a handkerchief that she had given me before she left a couple of years back. I never imagined that such a frail and harmless item could hurt so much…even though I'm not entirely sure why.

Normal POV


"Chimchar, use Flame Wheel!" Ash Ketchum was currently in the middle of a sparring match, and his chosen partner for this battle was his recently adopted fire-type, who immediately leaped into action once the order was made.

"Cha ah ah!" Chimchar's mouth spewed a flame, and then he began spinning which resulted in the fire enveloping him, and he launched towards his foe.

"Piplup, counter with Whirlpool!" The opponent for this match was a coordinator girl named Dawn Berlitz, who was currently in command of her partner Pokémon, her loyal Piplup, who began to glow after the counter move was called, and a giant whirlpool stood suspended in mid-air over his head.

Chimchar was getting closer now, and he was just about to make contact, when Piplup finally fired the giant whirlpool towards the flaming monkey. "Char!" Chimchar was hit dead-on by the Whirlpool attack, and Dawn heartily congratulated her Piplup for landing the attack successfully.

And as was his custom, Piplup cockily stood tall with his flippers on his waist in pride. "Piplup!" (Naturally!)

"Ugh, don't be so cocky, Piplup! You should know by now that Chimchar doesn't give up that easy!" Dawn said disapprovingly.

The little penguin slouched. "Piplup…" (Oh, right...)

"You alright Chimchar?" Ash asked.

"Chim chim char!" (Sure, let's keep going!)

Ash smiled, "Alright then, use Flamethrower!"

"Chiiiim Char!" Flames spewed from his mouth, and flew straight towards the penguin Pokémon.

"Use Bubblebeam!"

"Piii plup plup plup!"

Bubbles fired out of Piplup's beak, and started battling against the incoming Flamethrower attack. The power levels of the two attacks were nearly matched evenly, but slowly, Piplup's Bubblebeam began gaining the edge due to the type advantage. "C'mon Chimchar! Don't give up!" Chimchar went all out and started fighting harder, but fatigue was starting to take its toll.

"Keep going Piplup!" Dawn was not necessarily the best choice for battle partner, since she was more inclined towards contest battles rather than full, head-on battles of strength. But versus Chimchar, Dawn and Piplup would be more than enough for the young monkey who had only recently joined Ash's team.

While the two young teens battled for superiority, Brock, the eldest and most responsible of the trio was busy stirring a huge pot of food. "Those two are really giving it their all, I'd better hurry up with this, they'll be starving once they're done." he thought. While Brock was more of an established battler than Dawn, he much rather preferred to watch and give helpful tips from the sidelines these days. Plus, his dream to be a Pokémon Breeder had made him much more interested in raising Pokémon than battling them, but that never stopped him from being an onlooker to battles, and that included this high-heated one.

"Chimchar can't keep this up much longer…gotta think of something fast!" Ash's panicking would prove to be justified. Despite his cheering and encouragement, Chimchar simply couldn't overcome the type disadvantage and eventually gave out. The now freely flying Bubblebeam nailed the small fire-type dead on and sent him flying…right into Ash, who crashed to the ground from the impact. "Oof! Ok…I think that's enough." Ash strained.

Brock looked up from his cooking pot to see Ash lying on the floor. "You alright big guy?" Brock asked with a chuckle, slightly amused at the sight of Chimchar sitting on Ash.

"Pikapi? Pi pi ka chu?" (Ash? Are you ok?)

"Yeah, I'm alright guys." Ash dusted himself off and swiveled his head around to look for his hat, which had been knocked off by the impact of the collision with Chimchar.

"By the way, nice Bubblebeam, Piplup." Piplup chirped in thanks and hopped into Dawn's arms for a hug after the sincere praise.

Ash spotted his hat laying upside-down behind him. He went to go pick it up, but as he did so, something fell out of his hat. With reluctance, Ash bent down to pick up what had dropped out of his hat.

"Misty's handkerchief."

Ash tenderly felt the soft fabric in his hands, as memories of past adventures flooded into his mind. He had always kept it with him, ever since her original departure he had kept it in his signature wardrobe accessory to ensure that he would never, ever lose it. He felt it was extremely important to him, as it was a going away present from his best friend. Usually, the small handkerchief was too light to be noticed by touch where it usually was, and so it was ignored most of the time.

And although normally the light fabric had always discreetly remained hidden inside of his signature cap, this time it had been jarred loose from the sudden impact, and was causing Ash to unintentionally take a walk down memory lane. He thought of all the fun they had, the arguments, the battles, the festivals they had partaken in, even their arguments. And it filled him with a sudden sadness to realize that the fabric he held in his hands was the only thing he had left of her besides the lure she had sent him.

"Chim char?" (Ash?) Ash was jarred from his thoughts by a concerned monkey, who was lightly tugging on his pant leg.

He smiled and petted Chimchar's head in reassurance. "I'm ok buddy. Nice battle, return." Ash reached for Chimchar's Pokéball, and Chimchar gave one final sound of concern before the red beam sent him back into his Pokéball. Ash's attention then turned back to the handkerchief he was holding in his hands. Why was he taking this object as such as a shock to the system? It didn't do that before.

He was so wrapped into his own world that he didn't even notice Dawn walking up behind him. "What's that Ash?"

"Waahh!" Ash yelled and jumped back in shock, shocking the coordinator in the process from the violent reaction. "Geez, Dawn, next time why don't you make a little noise to let a guy know you're there?" he panted.

"I did!" Dawn replied with her hand over her chest. "You didn't hear me because it looked like you just zoned out!"

Ash blinked for a moment, then exhaled as his heart started beating normally again. "Ahh, it's ok I guess." he said as he slowly placed the handkerchief back into his hat and placed it on his head. "You didn't mean to scare me."

"So what was that you were holding Ash?"

Ash looked away from her. "It was nothing." he mumbled.

"Nothing doesn't make you space out like that." she pointed out with a smirk.

The young trainer frowned and his brow furrowed. "I said it was nothing!"

"Alright! Don't bite my head off for gosh sakes!" Dawn stomped away angrily, and Piplup did the same. "Geez, what's up with him?" Dawn asked the breeder who had been quietly watching the whole exchange.

"I dunno." he said. "But I might have a pretty good idea." Brock had noticed exactly what Ash was holding, and since he was there when Misty had given it to him, he knew what it represented to Ash. Unfortunately, Dawn did not.

Sensing his master's distress, Pikachu hopped onto Ash's shoulder and nuzzled it. "Pikapi?" (Ash?)

Ash's POV

"I miss having you around Misty. I wish you could still be here traveling with me – err – us. What right does she have to pry into my personal business anyway? On the other hand, what right do I have to yell at her for no reason? You'd probably yell at me for that wouldn't you Mist?" I couldn't help but laugh at what I had just thought. But I knew I had to apologize to my current female traveling partner, so I walked over to where Brock had just started to serve a dinner of one of my favorite meals: his homemade chili.

When I got there, I wasn't surprised when Dawn wouldn't even look my way, after the way I snapped at her, I figured she'd be upset. "Hey, sorry about the whole being angry thing Dawn, I didn't mean to lose my cool like that." I had found as the years went by, it was getting easier to apologize. When I was ten, and hanging with Misty, I couldn't apologize for almost anything. Now at fourteen, it was slowly becoming easier to swallow my pride.

Dawn turned her head towards me and gave me a smile, and I gave a friendly smile back. "No need to worry Ash, apology accepted."

"Alright! In that case, Brock, give me a bowl of chili!" I started eating right away, but I found that my appetite had quickly deserted me, I had taken two bites of food, and suddenly, without warning or explanation, I started thinking about Misty again.

"Why is she in my head all of a sudden? I never had this problem before." My redheaded friend had taken over my mind somehow; thoughts of her friendship and camaraderie flooded and nearly drowned my brain. I was jarred from my thoughts again, this time by Brock.

"Did you say something Brock?" I asked wearily.

"Ash, what's wrong? You keep zoning out."

I waved my hand dismissively. "There's just a lot on my mind right now."

"Your next gym battle?"

"Not even close Brocko. But you'd never let me live it down if I told you what - or rather who was on my mind." I decided to go along with it, and save myself the interrogation. "Yeah, that's it."

"Well, just relax, ok big guy? You'll get through it, just like you always do." I had to admire the way Brock tried to help me out. Under normal circumstances, it probably would've worked…but the circumstances were far beyond normal…at least in my mind.

Uneasy silence passed, before I finally broke it. "I'm going for a walk."

"What about your chili Ash?" Brock asked.

"I'm not really hungry tonight." I said casually. I turned and walked away, but I didn't get very far before I heard tiny footsteps running up from behind me.

"Pikapi?" (Ash?)

"Hey there Pikachu."

"Pika pika pi pi pika chu?" (So, what's on your mind for real?)

I chuckled at how my friend could read me so well. "Don't worry about me buddy, it's pretty stupid if you ask me."

"Pi chu pi ka pika Pikapi, pi pi ka." (I won't think it's stupid Ash, I'm your friend, you can tell me anything.)

"Well…" Pikachu's encouragement was starting to sway me…I figured if anyone could keep a secret, it was Pikachu. Not just because he was a Pokémon, and the only ones who could understand him without translation were me, and surprisingly, the person who just happened to be plaguing my thoughts, but because we had a friendship that without a doubt would last a lifetime, and I could confide in Pikachu for anything. "Alright buddy, I guess I can tell you."

"Pika." (Of course.) I sat down on a nearby rock, and pulled off my hat. Once Pikachu saw what I was doing, he made a sound that sounded like he had just figured out what was plaguing me. "Pikachupi." (Misty.)

"You nailed it buddy. There's just something about this thing that brings back memories. But it also reminds me that she's not traveling with us anymore." I stroked the handkerchief softly, not even caring that Pikachu was there watching me, he didn't seem to mind though…he could understand how I was feeling.

"Pika pika pi Pikapi." (I miss her too Ash.)

"I guess I'll have to try to get over it…come on Pikachu, let's head back to camp." I put Pikachu back on my shoulder, and trudged back to camp.

I was hoping that the small walk would ease my mental and emotional stress, but all it seemed to do was make me think about it more, since I didn't have to be on guard when it was just Pikachu. And even though I didn't realize it, the stress was doing something to my physical status as well, which was easily pointed out by the way I was trudging. My feet barely left the ground as I dragged them back to camp.

When I got back, I noticed that Brock and Dawn had already set up my sleeping bag for me. I took off my hat and set it beside me as I crawled under the covers, with Pikachu not far behind. It didn't take long before I fell asleep, I was pretty tired…but the dream I had was crazy.

I was just laying in my sleeping bag, I rolled over to get comfortable, but instead of seeing Dawn next to me, I saw a fiery red-head, not even a foot away from me. "Is that M-Misty?" I reached over to see if it was real, I moved some strands of hair that had fallen over the image of Misty's face, and I smiled. "Misty, it is you!" I felt this surge of heat enter the depths of my belly as I stared at Misty's image.

Despite how happy I was, I felt confused as to why the sudden burst of heat had entered my body, especially since the campfire was out. But I quickly forgot about that when the image of Misty opened her blue-green eyes at me and smiled. I smiled back and felt the strange feeling increase in intensity, but what happened next caused my spirit to deflate instantly. Although the image was of Misty, her voice came out as…Dawn's?

"Misty? Who's Misty?"

It was then I realized I was dreaming, I woke up and I found Dawn staring at me with confusion. "Umm…sorry Dawn. Never mind." I wasn't sure why, but I was somewhat confused as to why I was disappointed that it was merely a dream. She shrugged and went back to sleep, apparently too tired to pursue her question. I laid on my back for a short while, and then pulled Misty's handkerchief out of my hat for the third time that day.

[End Flashback]

All I could do was lie there until fatigue took me over; because there was no way I would get to sleep on my own. "I wish she would come back and travel with me again, with all of us. But what's the point of dreaming? She has the life of a Gym Leader now…she wouldn't want to come back and hang with us now." I had always figured that Misty's life as a Gym Leader would be glamorous and luxurious; coming back would probably be a downgrade to the life she led now.

I felt tears threatening to pour out of my eyes; I shut them to avoid crying. Her friendship was something I held dearly, and I truly did wish I could have her traveling with me like old times, but that reality seemed far-fetched to say the least. All I could do was fight the pain and wait until the night was over, and think about my best friend…my best friend: The Gym Leader of Cerulean City.