~*Spread Your Wings*~

            Author's Notes: Well, here's the second chapter. Sorry it took so long, but I have a really bad habit of starting way too many fanfics and then getting very little done on any of them. I'm glad you guys like this fanfic; I personally think of it as…well, quite bad…But hey, it's easy to write! That's the nice thing about it; I don't force myself to obsess over details like usual.  ^_^;; As long as somebody cares about it, I'm not gonna give up on it.

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            Ash picked out a cloud among the stars and let his eyes linger on it. He quivered, despite the fact he was swathed in warmth. His vision whirled in front of him, and his face was still wet and teeming with tears.

Misty had fallen asleep a few moments ago, but he found her presence comforting, anyway, and had kept her snuggled close, carefully keeping the shuddering of his sobs under check as not to wake her. Shaking himself from remembrance for a scant moment, he brushed his damp cheek up against Misty's, and then braced himself for the rest of the memories.

They began to play in his mind like videos, and at times, they were so vivid he wondered if he had slipped off to sleep and was dreaming…

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"Where is he!?" Ash shook himself out of the confines of his shock and tore himself from Misty's shaking embrace. "Where is he?!" He repeated harshly, eyes flashing.

Misty took a step or two backwards, shivering from cold and sorrow. Her eyes were null, void of anything…except the glass of dazed tears. She was as shocked as he. "H-he…" She managed to stutter, and then swallowed her emotion. She sniffed, pointing with a quaking hand over to the foot of the waterfall.

Ash's body posture went slack. He gave a deep, shuddering sigh, willing his legs to move. He quivered again, taking a few breaths to regain his composure, and then he succeeded in taking a few tottery steps toward where Misty was pointing.

            Misty's face was taken over by stormy horror as she saw Ash step in that direction. "No!" She cried, launching herself over to him. She took a tight hold of one of his shoulders. "You don't want to go over there, Ash! You don't want to see…!"

            His voice lowered, and he looked at her mildly, his eyes glinting much like a flame does before it goes out. "But I have to…Don't you see, Misty? I have to…" His lower lip trembled. "I…I can't just leave him now…"

            Misty's grip eased, and she inched away, turning her head to watch the rain that was still pattering down. Her eyes were polished with indecision. "…Then…I'm coming with you," she murmured.

            Ash stood for a moment, contemplating…His thoughts raced like clouds across a stormy sky. Of course, he didn't believe that Pikachu was dead. Pikachu wasn't dead. Pikachu couldn't be dead… Pikachu was fine. They were going to go retrieve him now, and everything would be back to normal. He could see it playing out in his mind. Pikachu would call out "Pikapi!" and race towards him, and he'd catch Pikachu in his arms, and then they'd go home and this time he would get to the remote control before Misty and…

            Misty had retreated from her clutch on his shoulder, and instead was gripping his wrist with more emotion than force. "…You're sure you want to see this Ash…? It won't upset you too much?"

            Ash looked at her stiffly, his features somehow bristling like a livid Meowth. His eyes flashed darkly. "He's all right! Stop talking about him like he's not!"

            Misty's expression reflected a wretched defiance. "Ash, he's dead!" Tears started coming to her eyes again; pleading tears. "I saw him! I saw him, and he's dead and nothing could bring him back. Just believe me!"

            "No…" Ash whispered. His temper, his welling emotions were receding. The denial was still there, it had a death grasp on his mind for now, but it would release soon. Misty knew she had to be there for Ash whenever it did.

She watched him sadly, her vision trained on his eyes. They were clenched shut. Without warning, he threw his head up towards the flat gray sky, and the rain dribbled down his black hair, slick from rain, and down his face, mingling and merging with his tears.

            "Ash…" She sighed. "Do you still want to see him?"

            "…Yes…"

            "C-c'mon, then…"

            Ash could still remember the wishy-washy colors that his wet vision coated the dreary surroundings with; the strange brightness of the world convinced him that it was a dream. He walked forward, dazed and unbelieving, and in an obscure amount of time they reached the spot where Misty claimed Pikachu was.

            Misty closed her eyes and huddled up close to Ash's arm, her lungs and body seizing up in ready brace.

            "…Where…?"Ash sighed, almost inaudibly.

            "By the waterfall…"

            Ash gave her a watery look, and she sensed he needed to do this alone. Reluctantly, she let go of his arm and took a step away. She looked at him, eyes expanded with tears, and she whispered, "I'm here for you, okay?"

            Ash paid her no heed, and she looked down at the ground. 'I don't want to see this…' she thought dejectedly, but within seconds, she head a gasp and a vehement sob, and her head jerked up of its own accord.

            Ash was kneeled over a smudge of dark yellow, his face twisted in grief and tears falling faster than the rain on to the little body. Tears stung the sides of Misty's eyes, and she lowered her head in respect for the life that was no more, and for the boy who cried over the empty body of his best friend.

            She watched as Ash picked up Pikachu, and she hated how the only thing she could compare the little pokémon to now was a rag doll. He held the body to his chest, tightly clenching it as he cried, and a limp lightning-bolt tail poked out from his arms, its only movement a slight flutter in the wind.

            After a dragging five minutes or so, the sobs subsided, and Misty went over and hugged Ash sympathetically from behind. She buried her face in his neck so she wouldn't have to see the lifeless Pikachu cradled in his arms.

            "How could this happen…?" Ash whispered, his voice strained. "…Why…?"

            Misty nuzzled his face gently. "That's the question everyone asks when something terrible happens…I don't think there is a straight answer to it, though…"

            When Misty's hug loosened, Ash took off his jacket and swathed Pikachu's body in it, then took to cradling it tightly in his arms like before. "…Let's go…home…" He murmured.

            The walk home was a long, silent one.

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            Mrs. Ketchum burst into tears when Ash and Misty finally arrived home and presented her with the sad news. Mimey watched from nearby, gripping a broom as though he wished to snap it, and his face echoed shock and distress in their extremes. He hadn't been overly friendly with the little pokémon, but had become so accustomed to his presence he wondered what the household would be like without him on Ash's infrequent visits.

             Ash reluctantly set Pikachu's body down outside the door; so reluctantly, in fact, it had taken teary pleas from Misty to get him to let go of Pikachu. After he had set the body down, Ash bolted towards his room, tears streaming down his face. He locked himself in there, and even Misty's crying and Delia's pleading couldn't persuade him to come out. Misty was determined, however, and she sat outside of Ash's door, patiently waiting for him to come out. She cried a fair share of that time, and the sky outside cried with her. Now and then she could hear a sob escape Ash, but it was hard to hear over the persistent drumming of the rain against the roof.

            The rain persevered all night, and so did Misty. She fell asleep leaning against Ash's doorway, and politely declined all of Mrs. Ketchum's offers of hospitality. It worried Mrs. Ketchum, but it also made her realize how strong a bond Ash and Misty had. She, too, cried that night for the little Pikachu that had been her son's best friend, teammate, and first pokémon.

            In the morning, the downpours stopped pounding at the earth, but a light drizzle still hung in the air and sprayed at any who dared venture into it. The clouds were flat and dreary gray, and they hurried across the sky in lifeless formations. Fog coated the earth in its damp, hazy hold. The same held true for the Ketchum residence.

            Misty paced outside of Ash's door, and attempted to talk to him through the door. He didn't answer, but she could hear him shifting about occasionally. She wondered how his pokémon were going to take the news. Older teammates like Bulbasaur would be especially devastated, she knew, even though Bulbasaur was a tough pokémon and didn't much like to show his sorrow. She had also known Bayleef to be especially fond of the electric mouse. In addition, Bayleef was a particularly emotional creature, and she figured the poor grass pokémon would be inconsolable when she heard the news.

            With nothing else to do, and no sign of Ash wanting her company yet, Misty released her pokémon from their pokéballs and assembled them in the hall.

            "Well, guys… I have some sad news… Pikachu…H-he d-d-died yesterday… We don't know how yet, but we found him on the ground by a waterfall…" A few tears leaked from her eyes and fell softly down her face. "I-I just thought you sh-should know…" She wiped at her tears, and looked down at her awestruck pokémon, who blinked at her in misunderstanding for a rapid, silent while. It sunk it quickly, though. Quickly but painfully.

            Togetic began bawling, tears gushing from his eyes, and he fluttered clumsily into Misty's arms for a sympathetic hug. Golduck looked down at the ground and openly cried, his eyes closed in disbelief. Staryu, who was unable to cry, made a soft noise that echoed its sadness. Politoed stared wistfully off into the distance, tears pooling in her whimsical blue eyes. Corsola hadn't known Pikachu all that well, but she, too, felt a numbing sadness for the pokémon.

            Misty found it hard to watch the mourning of her pokémon, so she recalled them, knowing that their conscious thoughts would be dimmed and therefore bluntened by the effect of their pokéballs.

            She turned and walked closer to Ash's door. Gulping back her tears, she said in a cracked, teary voice, "Ash…It's me… Please open the door… Please…? I know you want to be alone, but… Your mom and I are worried about you…Please, let me in…"

            She heard some movement in the room, but didn't get any response.

            "Ash, I just want you to know…that you're not alone in this… We're all really upset…Even Mimey keeps moping, and he's usually so cheerful…"

            Misty felt a hand on her shoulder, and she turned and looked into Mrs. Ketchum's glossy eyes. "Just leave him be for now… He's mourning, and I think he needs to do that alone. He'll come out when he's ready."

            Misty nodded slowly, turning her eyes to the floor, and then she leaned her face back towards the door.

"…Okay, I'll leave you alone… I know it takes a while to accept stuff like this…I'm here whenever you come out, all right?"

Mrs. Ketchum nodded in approval. "Come on, you should get something to eat."

            "Yeah, I guess so…" Misty agreed, reluctantly following Mrs. Ketchum out of the hallway.

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Author's Notes: Hmmm…I feel kinda weird leaving it there, with no cliffhangers really or anything, but I suppose it'll do. It's better than posting this in three months with only about 5 more paragraphs… I've been working hard all summer writing, and on most of the stories or chapters, they only need a little bit more written on them before I can post them, so expect to see them soon if all goes well. Well, today was my first day of high school…That might slow me down. Oh, please review! I know, the plot still isn't evident, and the pokéshipping only advanced a little bit, and I've been to lazy to make it a real tear-jerker, but it'll get better, I promise!! Remember, reviews make me write faster. *Grins* Thanks in advance. See you all next chapter!