A new saga, it's been awhile since I've begun one of those... expect the updates to be slow, though I'll do my best to keep it consistent. If you'd like an audio version of this fic, please visit my profile page .
Chapter One: たたかいつかれて おやすみグッナイ (Tired from fighting, good night, good night)
In hindsight, Team Rocket did work for a worldwide crime organization, and while we had enjoyed a lovely month or so without them in our hair, they now had access to funding. Battles with them no longer hinged on just their pokemon, and their odds of actually succeeding in one of their capture attempts increased by several percent.
But, to be fair, they aren't the one's who stuck us in the condemned building, nor did they do anything to affect the weather. All they did was cause us to get separated from friends and civilization in the middle of a huge gale, which could have happened to anybody.
But blaming them is easier.
We thought we were safe once we got inside that old, stone mansion, possibly once a castle from bygone years. It was the only structure around for miles, and between it and the tornado that was developing outside, we knew which one we were going to pick. If we'd known beforehand of it's lack of structural integrity, we might have made a different choice.
"I think we're supposed to head for a basement," Ash said dubiously, already noting that if this place had one, the entrance to it was well-hidden. Not that Ash's survival skills are incredibly top-notch, but we decided to go with his second plan, and hide in the bathroom. "Pipes," he explained, wedging himself between the bathtub and the toilet and wrapping an arm around the porcelain. "They go deep underground, so it's harder for the tornado to suck it into the sky." I must not have looked like I believed him, because he frowned and said, "Well, if you have any better ideas, let's have them."
In the end, I jumped into his lap and tried to ignore the sounds of the howling winds. "We'll just wait here for the storm to pass, " Ash said reassuringly, and I nodded into his chest, a little bit embarrassed to let him see how spooked I was. But, good friend that he is, he pretended not to notice my shaking, and just stroked my head in a comforting way.
A few minutes later, we realized that getting picked up by wind was a secondary concern, and that the ceiling was caving in around us. "Move!" Ash shouted, and we were up on our feet and running back to the main room, looking frantically for something to save us.
"Pikaa?" I turned to say, but was interrupted when I saw a giant chunk of wall flying towards us. I'd never seen a wall fly before, and was momentarily impressed by that fact before it blazed past me and took out the stairs. Now we had a full view of the swirling funnel outside, so much closer than before, and I saw Ash's face turn white. Under my fur, my skin was probably the same.
"Maybe that corner?" Ash suggested, sounding far more hesitant than I had ever seen him before. But it seemed as good an idea as any; stone walls on a couple sides to protect us from flying objects, and near what was left of the stairs so we had something to hang on to. We crouched down, Ash's arms looped around the stairwell and me, wind mercilessly whipping at us.
We clutched each other tightly and watched the house coming down around us, stones shattering just inches away from us and windows bursting apart to send tiny shards of glass cutting at our skin. Somewhere in the ordeal, Ash had lost his hat, and his black hair flew wildly around like it was going to be uprooted from his head. "Are we really going to die?" I heard him whisper as he pulled me closer, and I realized how frightened he truly was, for he wore his mantle of trainer seriously and had never before admitted hopelessness in front of me.
But I was thinking the same thing, so I dug my claws into his shirt and comforted myself with the thought that at least this time he wouldn't go without me.
With all the suddenness of a wrecking ball, our doom exploded above our heads, and we were caught beneath the shower of brick, lumber and slabs of stone. Ash twisted his body, shielding me as he always did, and the only memory I have of that round of chaos is the two of us clinging to each other.
The dust never settled, always caught and flung by the crying winds, but when the torrent of falling objects let up, we broke apart and started pushing through the rubble to find a safer place to hide. Ash did so much more slowly than I would have expected under the circumstances, and when I turned to look at him properly, I saw that he hadn't even risen to his feet. There was something off in his movements and in his eyes; he seemed dazed, but in a way that sent my senses panicking. I would even go as far to say that he smelled off.
"I'm fine," he replied when I called out with worry, though his voice was slow and had a hint of a slur to it. "I just don't..." his words were cut off with sudden fear. "Look out!" He lunged for me, and all I knew was loud noises and the taste of dust.
When my senses returned, I was trapped beneath walls of wood, brick and dust, a cavity formed by the human bridge above me. I've never been one for closed spaces or confinement, and the realization that I was trapped in such a tiny hole sent me into a panic, my cheeks sparking wildly. "Pika!" With barely enough room to move, and nothing but stale air to breathe, I began shocking everything wildly, lashing out in hopes that something would give way. "Pika-CHU! CHU! CHU!"
"It's okay, Pikachu, you're fine!" Ash cried desperately between thundershocks, jerking and wincing with each blast. "Just don't panic!"
That was like telling the wind to stop. "CHU!" I gulped, discharging more electricity along with frightened tears. I couldn't remember ever being so scared, frightened enough to not even care that I was frying Ash along with everything else. "Pika-CHU!"
"Please," I heard a breathy, pained whisper from above me, "Stop..." Something about the tone got through to me, and with shaky, hiccuping breaths, I slowly managed to come back to earth. "See, you're fine," Ash breathed in his soothing voice, though it was slightly off-putting due to the obvious fatigue and pain he was feeling. "Just take deep breaths, you're all right." Whether or not his diagnosis was correct was beside the point; I did my best to believe in his calm words.
Looking at him properly, I could see that if I'd thought his eyes were off before, they were seriously off now. The size of his pupils was nothing less than unnatural. "Pikapi?" From the way he grit his teeth, his labored breaths and the way his arms were shaking under the pressure of holding himself up I knew we were in trouble. "Pikapi?"
And the blood, there was so much blood. It was matted in his hair, running down his face, tiny drops falling to trickle down his arms, even. But, "I'm fine, I'm fine," was all he said in response, and I nuzzled his face and tried not to think about how breakable humans really were. Despite my electric attacks, I'd always felt that Ash was the stronger being due to his larger size, but seeing him bleed changed all my preconceptions. Checking into a Pokemon center wouldn't cure this.
"Pikachu, I can't-" he wheezed, body convulsing a bit, and I could see that his arms were about to give way. I shifted my position a bit so that he could lower himself without crushing me, hoping that the rest of the debris didn't fall down with him. However, it seems that "I can't" meant that he really couldn't, and he collapsed on top of me, lumber, dirt and stone shifting to pin us in some more.
But I was safe, wedged in the arch between his knees, elbows and stomach, and I willed myself not to panic again. That was getting harder to do, with the blood pools continuing to grow and his once blue and white shirt turning suspiciously dark shades. "I love you," he whispered, and I froze, having heard his say that with such finality before and fearing that I was about to lose him again.
Terrified that if he lost consciousness, he'd be gone forever, I released a Thundershock. "Pika-CHU!" Ash actually began to cry, and the guilt almost eclipsed my relief that he was still with me.
"Don't, please," he said in soft, nearly unintelligible tones, "No more, okay?" What could I do, but comply?
And so, for what might have been minutes or hours, I just lay there, pressed up close and taking comfort in his soft, ragged breathing, trying to locate a heartbeat. I talked to him occasionally, hoping to keep him awake, but his responses were never more than slurred moans, and eventually, they ceased altogether. If not for the occasional, choked breath, it would have been easy to imagine I was trapped in my grave with a dead man. When Officer Jenny's rescue team miraculously discovered us, my voice had never been so full of joy and desperation.
They took us to separate hospitals, reminding me once again that I was a Pokemon and Ash was not, a line that got so blurry when we were together, but suddenly as present and tangible as a wall. Luckily, a few hours with Nurse Joy and I was completely recovered, and Iris rushed with me back to the human hospital. I suspect that she had preferred to stay with me than in the human ER.
When I arrived, I knew why. So much waiting, so much rushing, so little information. Cilan was a wreck, sitting in a chair with a cup of coffee clutched in his hands like letting go would unleash chaos on the universe. But he was relieved to see me. "Maybe Ash can have a full recovery, too."
Maybe. Though the waiting room was nerve-wracking, it was easier to imagine the possibilities of a miracle when we were there. Much easier than when they finally let us get a glimpse of Ash, all bandages and tubes, and I began to think that maybe miracles didn't exist in this world anymore. When Cilan began looking up Ash's emergency contacts in his Pokedex, I knew we were in trouble, that this was a problem beyond our capabilities. The biggest miracle the world had ever seen was slowly falling out of it.
I began to wish that they hadn't given us an update, that they'd kept Ash secluded behind their ominous swinging doors, because the information pressing down on me was too much to bear. I didn't want to hear about complications, or about big words I couldn't understand. I didn't want to hear how many breaks and where, or that he couldn't breathe without a machine doing the job his lungs were supposed to be doing. All I really wanted to hear was that they could make him all right again, but nobody was saying that at all.
It became apparent that Ash didn't keep his emergency information up to date, because Brock was still the first contact, and the second was Gary Oak. Third was, of course, his mother, the furthest line. It didn't really matter, though, we'd be calling them all eventually.
"Who are these people?" Cilan muttered as he scrolled the numbers. "Why isn't one of us in here, you know, someone who's actually traveling with him?" The very reason why Brock had shanghaied the Pokedex all those years ago, after Ash and I got lost briefly and Brock and Misty spent all day calling local Pokecenters. Of course, as the months went by, the two of them quit assuming the worst and didn't worry about us when we got separated, and eventually we progressed to the point where we all got lost together.
Gary's number had been in the Pokedex since the day they left home, and Ash decided to just leave it there, rejecting other, more practical choices. I suspect that he's never really been able to let go of the Gary that used to run and play with him like a brother, and I also suspect that Gary spent all those years secretly hoping Ash would hang on tightly to what he himself threw away.
"You know Ash doesn't plan for emergencies," Iris scoffed, finding comfort in insulting Ash like everything was normal. "He's such a child."
Nobody knew where Gary was, so Nurse Joy promised to pass the information through the Pokemon Center's network until it found him, but Brock answered right away. "What on earth- It's the middle of the night!"
Was it? Had we been here for that long? But when Brock heard what we had to say, he sobered up and promised to catch the next plane out there. He also volunteered to call Ash's mother for us, which made us grateful to him for the rest of our lives. None of us were looking forward to that conversation.
I didn't want to sleep, but having Brock bring up the time made me realize how exhausted I actually was. "You've had a rough day, Pikachu," Iris tried to reason, "We'll wake you up the second there's news." A nice offer, but my trainer couldn't breathe without an iron lung, and so for me, there would be no such thing as a restful sleep.
In the end, I stayed awake right up until they wheeled Ash in from recovery, and once they convinced me that he was stable, with enough beeping machines to keep him from running off to the spirit world, I allowed myself to collapse on his hospital bed and curl up beside him. It might have been against some sort of protocol, but no one stopped me, and I refused to interpret that as an ominous sign.