Chapter Two: …Is Warmed Up by Your Kiss
"O-ouch…" Ash rubbed his forehead, which he bashed into the cold floor mere moments ago. His other hand was gripping something warm.
"C-Cilan!" Ash's hand was on Cilan's chest. "Ahh! I'm sorry!" Ash retracted his hand and sat up. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine…" Cilan raised his back off the floor. "What about you? You're the one who tripped."
"I'm, uh…" Ash brushed his fingers over the newly formed knot on his forehead behind his messy black hair. "I'm fine. But the block…"
Ash and Cilan directed their attention to the wooden block that was currently not doing its job of keeping the door from latching shut.
"O-Oh…" Cilan glanced at the door, not knowing which emotion to express.
Ash, on the other hand, did.
"N-no! The door!" Ash jumped to his feet and darted toward the icy door, banging on it in a panicked frenzy. "Open! Open up!"
"Someone! Help us! We're stuck!"
"Ash!" Cilan called out. "The door is stuck! It can't open! And it's thick! No one will be able to hear you yelling from down the hall."
Ash gritted his teeth. "Cilan, we have to do something!"
"What can we do? Do you have any Pokémon on you?"
"Yeah! They're right-!" Ash attempted to reach for his belt, but paused. He had on the maid costume; his belt with all of his Pokémon was in the changing room!
"I don't have my Pansage, either," Cilan frowned. "It wouldn't have helped, though. The door is covered is coated in ice. Pansage is a Grass-type; his moves wouldn't have worked well at all."
Ash picked up the wooden block. "Dammit!" he chucked it at the door in sheer frustration. The block ricocheted off the icy door and slammed into Ash's chest. "Ooph!" Ash huffed in pain.
"Ash!" Cilan rose to his feet and ran to Ash's side. "Being angry right now isn't going to help! We should calm down and try not to panic."
Ash looked at Cilan with a tear in his eye. "Too…late…?" he painfully spoke, clutching his injured chest.
"Let's just sit and calm ourselves for a moment," Cilan touched Ash's arm and directed him to sit.
"Isn't there some way-?" Ash paused, trying to take Cilan's advice of being calm. He lowered his voice. "There has to be some way to get out of here."
"We won't be able to do it on our own," Cilan shook his head. "Chili and Cress will have to notice we're trapped in here and then call for help."
"Call? C-call who?" Ash's teeth chattered suddenly.
"Somebody. They may have to break the door down. You'll have to have a strong enough Pokémon for that."
"O-oh…T-that might b-be…"Ash shivered, not able to finish his sentence.
"Ash…?" Cilan made a concerned face.
Bang, bang! Someone was pounding on the door!
"Cilan! Ash! Are you in there? Say something!" It was Chili!
"Chili!" Cilan yelled, rushing to the door. "Chili, the door is shut!"
"Well, duh! I can see that!" Chili banged the door again. "How the hell did that happen?"
"It was an accident!" Cilan squeezed his eyes shut. "Never mind that. We have to get out of here! It's cold!"
"If Pansear could just melt the door down with Flamethrower I'd do it in a heartbeat! But the door is jammed. We'll have to knock it down. I just…I just don't know how!"
Cilan thought for a moment before snapping his fingers. "Alder! Call Alder!"
"Yes! I heard he was in Castelia City! That's not too far. He should be able to help!"
"…Fine! We'll get you out of there as soon as we can! But…what about the restaurant?"
"Just keep going. You can't close up the café because of us. We'd let our wonderful customers down," Cilan had a determined look on his face, which, unfortunately, Chili couldn't see.
"All right! We'll get a hold of Alder. Just don't freeze on us, got me?"
Chili pounded on the door one more time before taking off down the hallway.
"See, Ash? Chili's gonna call Alder. He's got powerful Pokémon that should be able to get us out of here," Cilan glanced at Ash, who was now up against the wall. He was scrunched up in a ball, wrapping his arms around his legs. Cilan walked over to Ash and sat down next to him. "Hey, you're not…claustrophobic, are you?"
"…N-no…I'm c-cold…" Ash breathed slowly.
"Oh!" Cilan flinched at the obviousness of his answer. "Um…damn, I don't think there's anything around here to keep warm…"
Ash began shivering uncontrollably.
It's so cold…Ash thought. Cilan said this Alder guy should be able to help, but he's all the way in Castelia! Even if he flies on a Pokémon, it's still gonna take awhile to get here…
Cilan began to twirl his fingers.
This reminds me of the time my Pokémon and I were stuck in that cave during a blizzard. I had lost Brock and Misty and was worried I wouldn't ever see them again…but my Pokémon hugged me and kept me warm until the storm was over… Ash smiled. He slightly turned his head to peek at Cilan. I wish…I wish Cilan and I could…
"Ash…" Cilan spoke softly. "Let me see your hand."
"W-what…?" Ash blushed. "U-um…" he removed his left arm from his legs and held out his hand to Cilan.
Cilan raced his fingers across Ash's palm before intertwining them with Ash's fingers.
Ash's heart skipped a beat. "C-Cilan?"
"Maybe if we hold each other's hands, we'll stay a little warmer. M-my guess…" Cilan scratched his chin. "Does that sound stupid?"
"N-no! I was just s-surprised!" Ash squeezed Cilan's hand as tight as his freezing fingers would allow. His cheeks were warming up faster than his hand.
C-Cilan…Ash's heart was racing. S-should…should I tell him…?
"Ash, your cheeks are flushed!" Cilan observed Ash's face with worry. "You're starting to turn…pale!"
"C-Cilan…" Ash huffed like he was having a hard time breathing. His breath was visible in the thick, cold air.
"Ash, j-just hang in t-there!" Cilan griped Ash's hand tightly, but his stuttering didn't sound reassuring.
"Cilan…I…" Ash paused. His heart surely didn't. "I w-want…to t-tell you…s-something…"
"…I…I…" Ash lowered his head.
"I love you, Cilan…"
Cilan blinked. Twice.
I don't care if he's disgusted with me…Ash smiled, though he wasn't happy with that thought. I just want him…to know…
"A-Ash…I…" Cilan finally spoke, but was obviously tripped up on words. "Well…"
"C-Cilan…I-it's s-so c-c-cold…" Ash's grip on Cilan's hand was loosening.
Cilan gasped. "Ash, no!" He threw his arms around Ash and pulled him toward himself so that Ash was sitting on his lap. "H-hang on!" Cilan was hugging Ash, trying to force as much of his body heat onto Ash as he could. "A-Alder will be here soon!"
"C-Ci…lan…" Ash breathed. His heartbeat was beginning to slow. "I…l-love…you…"
"A-Ash! Cilan's voice was sounding distant to Ash. "Y-you have…to hang on…because I…I-!"
Echo, then fade.
It's so dark…and…warm? But…I was freezing a moment ago. How…?
Huh? What's that?
"Ash, open your eyes!"
"Whoa!" Ash threw his eyelids open out of shock. He saw green and yellow.
Cilan and Pikachu.
"Ash!" Cilan grinned, seeming relieved.
"Pika!" Pikachu hugged Ash's shoulder and nudged its face into his cheek.
"Pikachu!" Ash tried to hug the yellow mouse back, but he was already holding onto something else. "Huh?"
"Pansear!" the fire-monkey greeted Ash with a smile.
"Waahh!" Ash let go of Pansear and scrambled to sit up in the bed. "W-what's going on?"
Cilan giggled. "We're in my bedroom above the restaurant. You kinda…passed out in the storage freezer. I tried to keep you warm until Alder showed up. His Darmanitan Fire Punched the hell out of the door, there might as well have been nothing left of it!"
Ash tried to focus on Cilan's story, but knowing Cilan tried to keep him warm and that he was currently in his bed was driving him nuts.
"My body temperature was sufficient, but yours was below normal. We were debating whether to rush you to the hospital or not, but Alder suggested you, well, quote "snuggle" with Chili's Pansear and lie down for a while," Cilan pointed to the bed. "You're awake now, so…do you feel okay?"
"Y-yes! I feel fine." Physically. Mentally, Ash was all over the place.
"That's good," Cilan sighed in relief.
"Pika!" Pikachu nodded in agreement.
"Cilan…" Ash scratched his scalp.
Cilan stared at Ash. He didn't speak.
"Ash!" Bam! The door to Cilan's room flung open.
"Chili, shut up! He could still be asleep!" Iris's voice carried as loud as Chili's.
"Well if he was asleep, he definitely isn't anymore…" Cress had his hand to his forehead in annoyance.
"Chili, Iris, Cress…" Ash listed off the people entering the room.
"Ash!" Chili and Iris gasped in unison.
Hey, guys," Ash grinned and waved.
"Oh my gosh, Ash! We were all so worried! Are you okay?" Iris asked.
Ash nodded. "I'm fine," he hugged Pansear. "Pansear kept me warm. Thank you!"
"'Sear!" Pansear chimed.
"I'm glad we were able to help!" Chili raised his fist.
"Um, where's Alder?" Ash turned his head as if to look for him. "I wanted to thank him."
"Alder said he was glad to help, but he was in a hurry to leave," Cress explained. "I guess he had something to attend to."
"Oh…" Ash frowned. He wanted to thank him properly and meet him, since he had no idea who Alder even was.
Cress smiled. " Alder will be glad to know you're okay."
"T-thank you," Ash nodded.
Cilan swiped his hands. "Um, I'm sorry to interrupt the happy times, but…may I please have a minute alone with Ash?"
The room was quiet. Everyone stared blankly at Cilan.
"Uh…" Cress spoke up first. "Sure. Come on, guys."
"Yeah," Chili glanced at Pansear. "C'mon, Pansear."
"Pansear!" the red monkey leapt off the bed into Chili's arms.
"We're glad you've recovered, Ash," Iris reached out to pick up Pikachu.
"Wait, Iris!" Iris stopped while Ash cupped his hands to Pikachu's ear. "I told him…" he whispered.
Pikachu's ear twitched. "Pi…"
Ash smiled. "It's okay."
Iris scooped Pikachu into her arms. "Is everything all right, Ash?"
Iris glanced at Cilan. "Okay…" She left the room and closed the door.
It was silent in the room for a good minute. Ash finally spoke up.
"Cilan…In the storage freezer…"
Cilan slowly walked over to the bed and sat down next to Ash. "You love me, correct?"
Ash's heart jumped. "Y-yes…"
Cilan rushed his fingers through his green, grass-like hair. "So…how do I feel about you?"
"Cilan!" Ash burst into panic mode. "I-I wanted you to know how I felt, but if you don't like me…that's fine! I-I mean, I would like it if you felt the same way I do about you…b-but I understand if you don't! Um…!"
"You seem like one who wouldn't handle rejection well," Cilan blinked.
Cilan chuckled. "You're still young, Ash."
Ash blushed. "Sorry…"
"Hey," Cilan leaned closer to Ash. "I have something to say to you as well."
Ash blinked. "What is it?"
Cilan slightly touched Ash's chin and raised his face to Cilan's eye level.
Ash was cut off by Cilan's lips. Every thought that was running amok in Ash's mind suddenly flooded out as Cilan's warm lips brushed gently against his own.
Cilan then released Ash's lips. "I love you, too, Ash Ketchum," he smiled as bright as the sun.
Ash's face felt like it was near a furnace. Or the core of Stark Mountain. "C-Cilan…"
"We made it together through a storage freezer. We'll travel through the Isshu region and make it through anything together! Side by side?"
"Y-yes, Cilan!" Ash beamed. "Of course! Cilan, I love you!" Ash lurched forward and returned his lips to Cilan's. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the moment.
Ash blindly reached for Cilan's hand, tracing the bedsheets with his fingers until he found what he was searching for. He held Cilan's hand in his own.
His warm hand.