Chapter 8: It's not about win or lose, it's the path you choose...

Even when he's in a good mood, MewTwo freaks me out, and standing next to him can be awkward. Standing in front of him, possibly blocking him from his goal, is like staring down death. I'm not sure why I feel so uneasy around him, since we last parted as good friends. We've actually only met once in my memory, and as cranky as he'd been at the time, he was on our side.

I'm pretty sure that it's the time we met outside of my memory that's the source of worry.

Ash wouldn't have a problem with MewTwo showing up unannounced, I was pretty sure of it, and his smile wouldn't be laced with uncertainty like mine was, even with the mysterious pokemon's penchant for scowling, displays of power and lurking in shadows. Ash knows full well that MewTwo is capable of killing him before he can even comprehend the situation, but has a trust in the strange pokemon that cannot be shaken by MewTwo's demeanor, or the fact that MewTwo may or may not have tried to kill him once before. Or that he may or may not have succeeded in that venture; details are still sketchy on that point.

But Ash wants to trust everything and everyone, be it Team Rocket, ludicrously powerful pokemon or perfect strangers, and he doesn't much seem to care that it's unwise. In his view, all are innocent until proven guilty. I usually call it naivete, but when Meowth was traveling with us to Nimbasa, Ash told me that he wanted to trust that thieving cat even though he knew who it was and all the years of trouble it had brought to us, and I'm not sure it's being naive if Ash knows he's doing it.

Whatever I call it, I'm not quite there, and now, I had no Ash to balance me out. MewTwo's sudden arrival sent up warning flags in my head that were hard to smother. "So, uh," I tried to speak without sounding nervous or accusatory. "Why are you here?"

MewTwo didn't respond right away, instead looking over towards Gary. "No way," the boy kept saying over and over. "No way, I can't believe it..."

"Believe it, human, I am very real." I wondered if this was a common reaction? Gary's face was growing paler by the second, and since his pallor had been steadily sinking all day, it was beginning to worry me.

"PiKAchu?" Gary gulped and nodded, though he still couldn't tear his eyes away from the rare pokemon in front of him.

"Why are you here?" he repeated my question. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again."

MewTwo seemed confused. "Have we met?" If Gary's face was any indication, they'd not only met, but managed to traumatize one of them in the process. "I'm afraid the memory escapes me."

"Usually it's the other way around, huh?" I cracked, then flinched when MewTwo turned sharply. Maybe we weren't quite good enough friends to be joking like that.

But I didn't receive an energy ball to the face, and MewTwo actually seemed to smile. Well, smirk in a kindly fashion, as I'm not sure MewTwo actually knows how to smile like a properly adjusted being.

"Indeed." Oh, good grief, how many people has he mind-wiped? "You don't look familiar," he addressed Gary again, who stood up a little straighter.

"I battled you for the Earth Badge. I lost," he added, with a small touch of regret.

"Of course you did." I suppose if you're capable of destroying the planet on a whim, you don't have much need for humility. "Nidoking?" Gary nodded, and that seemed to satisfy MewTwo, even if Gary looked like he was having cardiac arrest.

"For the third time," I broke in, trying to word things so they sounded authoritative while still non-threatening and friendly. I felt like the earth had become a massive sheet of eggshells, and my mental state was just as fragile. I could accidentally offend a comrade who could be deeply and irrevocably hurt by my callousness, or MewTwo could have shown up with the intention to kill us all. It really could go either way. "Why did you come here?"

"I believe it's customary when a good friend is ill to pay them a visit," he replied smoothly. Was he laughing at me? "Or does that ritual not extend to me?" Yes, he was definitely enjoying my discomfort. Even so, the question he was asking was genuine, and a corner of his eyes betrayed his own uncertainties.

"Wait, you know Ash?" Nobody answered Gary, but that didn't seem to matter. "Figures..."

I let out a breath, deciding I could trust MewTwo at last. "Thanks for coming," I said, voice now full of nothing but gratitude. "I should warn you, he might not be able to remember you-" My brain suddenly short-circuited, and my words dropped off while my mind ran off on a completely new tangent. Memory...

"Explain yourself," MewTwo demanded, eventually giving up on me and asking Gary to bring him up to speed on Ash's medical condition. Amazingly, the boy was able to summarize the situation fairly accurately, despite having floated in and out of lucidity all week. "And is this permanent?"

"It's hard to say," Gary replied uneasily, eyes continuously darting toward me, even though I was busy with my own line of thinking. "These next few weeks are supposed to be the best chance he has at recovering, but he's not improving nearly as fast as they were hoping he would... Still, he's come a long way in a short time..." Gary's words sounded dead in his throat, and I'm sure MewTwo picked up on that. Gary didn't do optimism, he did reality, and the reality was that Ash's chances of becoming "normal" went down with every day, and the strides he was making were nothing close to what we were all praying for. We needed a miracle.

Luckily, we had one. "You can fix this, can't you?" MewTwo turned back to me, surprise on his face. "That's why you're really here."

"I don't know what you're talking about." Gary interrupted us with a sneeze.

"Can we not know what he's talking about out of the rain?" His petition was heard, and we reconvened under the awning by the door. It was a shadowy place, especially with the weather as it was, and I doubted we'd be disturbed for awhile. The only people crazy to run out in this gale were already out in it.

I shook some water out of my fur, then continued. "You're psychic, right? You know how to manipulate memories." MewTwo looked both confused and uneasy.

"I am not sure what you mean..." As if.

"I mean, you can bring his memory back!" I insisted, now sure that I was correct, and we did have hope again. "You can fix whatever's wrong in his head. Isn't that why you came?" MewTwo looked from me to Gary, the latter only half-following the conversation, and shook his head.

"I merely came to ascertain the situation..."

"And now that you've done that, you can save him!" Save Ash from his own mind, his own traitorous brain. "Can't you?"

"I'm not sure I-"

"You wiped our memories all those years ago!" I persisted with a small touch of acid. "I think you owe it to us to give some back!" Gary seemed to get the gist of my words, and his eyebrows shot up with childish hope.

"Can you really do that?" he asked, as if he was five-years old and asking MewTwo if there was a Santa Claus. I had met Santa, along with a whole host of beings that shouldn't exist, as well as seen a lot of abilities that shouldn't have been possible. If I could take down a Rhydon with a thunderbolt, then restoring a few memories should be a piece of cake for a psychic of MewTwo's level.

"I don't believe I can..." the cat-like pokemon began, but under Gary's innocent eyes and my glaring ones, he finally relented. "But I can try."

We only had to wait about an hour for the visiting hours to end, after which there was much less chance of being discovered in Ash's waiting room. MewTwo was reluctant to reveal himself more than necessary, and I was just as reluctant to explain to the uninitiated how we'd first met this friend, as I honestly wasn't quite sure, and MewTwo was content to keep it that way. While we waited, I was able to ask about something that had been bothering me for awhile.

"So, what's with the cape?"

MewTwo tossed his head in a haughty sort of way. "It's a cloak. I don't like to draw attention to myself."

"A cape doesn't draw attention to yourself?"

Gary was following the conversation well enough to comment, "I don't think it's so bad..."

"You wouldn't," I sighed. But watching MewTwo's eyes narrowing dangerously, I decided to let that topic of conversation go. Unfortunately, doing so moved us to another subject full of hidden minefields.

"How extensive are the physical injuries?" MewTwo actually sounded a bit hesitant, not unlike I'd been feeling on a regular basis. "Not life-threatening, I assume?" He may have wanted to sound aloof, but he'd never hide the flavor of soul-piercing terror that all his worst fear were realized. I knew that tone all too well.

"Not anymore." Thanking all deities. "Not sure how permanent, though, there's still treatments and therapy..." MewTwo looked at me from the corner of his eye, not turning his head.

"But you have not given up hope."

Not yet. "There's still a chance." Now, more than ever. Just a few moments ago, things had been looking up, but the hopes I harbored now eclipsed all that joy. Ash's slow recovery was wonderful, but nothing compared to the new miracle we now had. We could beat the physical maladies, I was sure we could, if only he could remember...

Friends, family and well-wishers slowly drifted out of Ash's room and off to the Pokemon Center, or whatever hotels they were staying at. Some of our closer friends were camped out on the back lawn of the hospital, not wanting to be separated at this time. Ash's mom remained inside, often dozing off in chairs unless Professor Oak could convince her to take better care of herself. Two nurses wheeled another boy into Ash's room, taking up the unused side of the room. He was covered in bandages from head to toe, and I didn't want to postulate what those were hiding. He looked young, about half Ash's size.

I wondered if he had a best friend crying somewhere.

But luckily for us, he didn't have any visitors late at night, and appeared to be fast asleep, so when Delia finally stepped out of the room, we took our chance and snuck in.

Ignoring the room's new occupant, I focused my attention on Ash, reluctant to wake him up and have to hide again. Soon, I told myself, soon, it'll all be back to normal. MewTwo will fix everything, and you'll have your best friend back. I clung to that belief, not daring to consider the possibility of this not working.

I climbed into a wastepaper basket and we woke Ash up, ignoring his groggy protests. He'd thank us when this was all over. Gary picked up my basket and set me on a table near the bed, high enough that Ash couldn't peer over and see what was inside. He then sat down in a chair and crossed his arms, despite MewTwo's slightly pointed looks. I think MewTwo might have preferred Gary's absence, but letting MewTwo near Ash was not going to happen if Gary wasn't present, he'd made that very clear. I don't know what sort of history those two had, but Gary seemed to remember it very vividly, and he may have been justified in his concern.

Meanwhile, MewTwo cautiously approached Ash's bed. "Hello."

"...hello..." Ash's curious eyes met MewTwo's impassive ones, though if I were to guess, I'd say MewTwo was not as emotionless and controlled as he tried to appear.

"Do you know who I am?" A shake of the head, not surprising. "Well, then...there we are..." He trailed off and the two stared at each other for some time, before I finally broke in.

"Let's get started, before someone comes in." In reality, I couldn't have cared less about MewTwo being discovered. I was impatient to get Ash's memories back, to have him look at me with love and recognition. I wanted to hear him speak, properly and unhindered, and I'd been deprived of it for far too long. "Come on!" Ash's eyes widened; he'd heard my voice, and was nervously scanning the room for me.

"As you wish." MewTwo raised one of his toothpick arms and closed his eyes, a blue glow mmiting from his palm. I watched with rapt attention, waiting for my miracle to take place.

"Oh, hello! Are you a friend of Ash's, too?"

All of us turned in wide-eyed unison towards Ash's mother, who was just walking back into the room with the jovial smile we could usually expect from her. MewTwo threw his hood up over his head frantically, I ducked lower into the wastepaper basket, and Gary shrugged his shoulders and just looked up to the sky.

"I, um, am please to meet you..." MewTwo thought aloud, actually stammering for a brief second.

"Oh, you're a ventriloquist!" Delia clapped her hands with childlike enthusiasm, and I sighed to myself. I've often suspected there was some sort of steady gas leak at the Ketchum house. Of course, it worked in our favor that Delia didn't suspect anything odd about this new psychic visitor, since I couldn't remember ever hearing MewTwo "speak" with an actual voice. Did he even have vocal cords?

Apparently, he did, for he cleared his throat and began speaking without telepathy. "No, I... never mind." MewTwo turned back to Ash, keeping his head turned away from Delia. "I was hoping I could speak with your son. Alone."

Delia nodded amicably, settling into a chair. "Oh, that's perfectly fine, don't mind me!" Gary started snickering. "Gary, where have you been all evening? Your grandfather has been worried sick!" The boy had a moment to look chagrined before the man himself walked through the door.

"Oh, there you are," he said with relief. "Kids! I found him, he's all right!"

"All right?" Gary muttered, apparently not aware that he'd spent the week acting like a Cubone when it first finds it's skull. "I'm perfectly fine." Sure he was, perfectly fine... The two nurses from before arrived, pushing past the professor and taking the blood pressure of the boy on the other side of the room.

"Well, if you disappear like that, what are we suppose to think?" May replied smartly, entering the room with Brock and Cilan on her heels. I expected Iris to follow, but she ended up swinging in through the open window.

"I don't think we're going to be having any privacy," I muttered to MewTwo, who was in the middle of nodding his agreement when May noticed the new arrival.

"Oh, no, it's back! The Mirage Pokemon!" All eyes were on her, even from the two nurses and that other boy, who must have woken up in all the commotion. "Right there, in the cape!"

"MewTwo!" Professor Oak seemed torn between apprehension and pure, scientific joy. "I can't believe it!" Brock tried to reassure May as best he could.

"Calm down, it's not a mirage, this one's a friend of ours..."

"A real one?"

"How did you meet a living MewTwo?"

"Yeah," Gary called, plunking himself down into a chair and deciding to just sit back and enjoy the show. "You'll have to tell me that story sometime."

"Well, I would, if I actually had a clue," Brock muttered to himself, while Delia took it upon herself to shake hands with the mysterious pokemon and introduce herself properly. Iris followed, circling MewTwo as if she intended to hug him in the invasive way she greeted all new pokemon, and was held back by Cilan.

"This meeting has a very unusual flavor," he commented, both bewildered and amused.

I lifted a hand up and waved at MewTwo, figuring Ash was distracted enough to not notice me. "Hey," I whispered forcefully, "I don't think we're gonna get rid of them, so why don't you do what we came here for before the Prof starts interviewing you for his radio show." Indeed, it looked like the old man was about to do just that.

"Right," MewTwo nodded, ignoring the clamorous voices and stretching his arm out toward Ash, with a blue light growing at the base of his palm. "Now-"

Whatever he was going to say, it was interrupted when Ash threw up his own hands in a defensive gesture. A glowing ball of blue aura shot from his palms and knocked MewTwo back a few steps, stunning him and all the room into shocked silence.

For a moment, anyway.

"You have got to be kidding me." That was Gary, and I heard Iris whispering something about dragons to Cilan. In the meantime, MewTwo straightened up and tried to find a voice for his thoughts.

"Impossible!" Blatant surprise was another look that MewTwo didn't wear particularly well. "Has he always been able to do this?"

"No," was Gary's flat reply, and all but Brock turned to me.

I sighed. "I have no idea. One day he's normal, and the next thing I know, he's making blue light come out of his palms and speaking telepathically with the local Rilou. I don't know how it happened." It wasn't entirely true; I didn't know how, but I had a rough outline of when and why, though Ash rarely talked about the issue and had never explained the whole thing. Normally, gaining superpowers was the sort of thing I would have demanded an explanation for, but since Brock, Max, May, Kid, Team Rocket, Lucario and himself had all died that day, I was willing to be understanding if he didn't feel like talking. Even now, Ash tended to clam up if we spent too long talking about anything related to Cameron Palace.

"Ash has Aura powers," Gary laughed to himself. "Of course he does, why am I surprised?" Brock shrugged.

"Why does anything about Ash surprise us anymore?"

MewTwo got over his initial shock, and Ash, seeing that no one was attacking him, lowered his defenses, though he kept looking in my general direction with suspicion. I clenched my mouth shut, but waved my arms up at MewTwo to signal that he should get on with it. Once again, MewTwo dramatically reached out towards Ash, and this time, thankfully, Ash didn't react aggressively. Under the blue glow of psychic abilities, his shoulders slumped forward, and his eyes became vacant and lifeless.

"Okay, what did you do to him?" Gary demanded, and I had to admit, he looked terrible.

"Is this some sort of new treatment?" Even Delia sounded suspicious.

"He is in a hypnotic state," MewTwo replied, never breaking eye contact. "It will be easier to look at his memories this way."

"And you'll be able to fix them?" The answer was far more hesitant than I was willing to accept.

"We shall see."

I peeked up over the top of my wastepaper basket to watch the process, though it was mostly MewTwo staring at Ash and Ash staring at nothing. Even so, I was riveted by the sight. Every second brought us closer to victory. Everything would be exactly the way it used to be. Everyone's eyes were focused on the two beings caught in the psychic bond, even the two nurses and their patient, just waiting to see what would happen. Ash would get healthy again, and smile when he saw me, and we'd go traveling just as we always had.

I could already picture it in my head. Ash would shake his head and blink a few times, adjusting to the new situation, and then...

Then he'd call my name.

I'd run to him, and with tears of joy, he'd scoop me up in his arms. "I'm sorry you had to go through that, buddy," he'd whisper, and we'd rub cheeks and I'd know that he didn't mean it. "I didn't mean to forget you. I love you so much! And we'll always be together..."

And I'd be able to tell him... I'd tell him all the things I should have said long ago. "I love you, I need you, I'm nothing without you." And, of course, "I'm sorry."

But most of all, "I'm glad you're back."

Finally, MewTwo broke the trance, but he looked neither pleased nor triumphant. In fact, I don't think I'd ever seen him look so devastated. "There is nothing..." he began, but whatever he was going to say trailed off in his thoughts. He removed himself to a far corner of the room, seeming restless, and the rest of the party murmured among themselves.

Gary looked crushed. "You mean, you can't do anything for him?"

"I'm afraid I cannot. Don't you think I would do so if I were able?" Rudeness, MewTwo's default personality, had returned to his tone. I was not willing to accept that as an answer.

"Well, you can try harder!" Ash whipped his head around, looking straight at my wastepaper basket with that look that I hated so much. "You're not trying hard enough!" Brock saw the fight brewing and walked towards us.

"Now, Pikachu-"

"Excuse me?" MewTwo's eyes narrowed, forcing Brock to back off. In fact, the entire room had returned to silence. I should have been scared into submission by that, but my foul mood was greater than MewTwo's at the moment.

"You can do better than this! You wiped our memories once, so the least you could do is give some memories back for a change!"

MewTwo took a step toward me that might have been threatening if I wasn't so worked up. "He has no way of receiving it. Even if I had the capabilities to do what you ask, it would be like pouring water into a cup with no base."

"So, fix it!" I shrieked, and Ash was inching away from the bedside table that housed me. "You're a psychic aren't you? You're all about the mind, so bring him back to me!"

Somehow, with that, MewTwo seemed to lose his threatening demeanor. "He is not gone."

"Oh, please," I muttered, then pushed over the wastepaper basket, tumbling out and allowing Ash to see me properly. As expected, he immediately bit back a scream and would have scrambled out of bed if Gary hadn't held him down. "I've already lost him once, I know what it feels like!" MewTwo looked startled, as anyone should have been by such information, and I relished that. "I've watched him in pain, I've watched him fall, I've had to stand by and watch while he slowly froze to death, do you know what that's like?" MewTwo's eyes were impassive once again. "I can't just stand here while you give up, not when I have a chance to get him back!"

"As I said, he is not gone."

"I've watched him die!" I spat back. Ash might be here in body, but he was certainly not here in spirit, and that was the part I cared about. "I saw his eyes, I felt him slipping through my fingers, I had to listen to him..." I'll miss you buddy, I love yo- "All because of some damned misunderstanding with a tree!" For some reason, MewTwo seemed both scandalized and slightly relieved by my speech. "This feels exactly the same!"

But MewTwo disagreed. "Life and Death are by no means the same."

"He might as well be dead, for all I matter to him!"

"Pikachu," Gary called over in that simultaneously rude and pleading tone that only he could pull off. "Calm down, okay? You're freaking him out." Ash was having a small panic attack, and I felt ashamed, but also justified.

"You see?" I said in a calmer tone, the anger boiling underneath the surface. "How can you watch this and give up so easily?"

"Reality is what it is," MewTwo said easily, far too easily for my tastes. "He is injured, and where there was once health and memory, there is only void. I am no Arceus, creating something out of nothing." I wanted to protest, but could not find the words for it, and Professor Oak courageously backed MewTwo up.

"I'm afraid he's right Pikacu," he said as if he was giving one of his lectures. "It was a good thing to try, I'm afraid there's no such thing as a quick fix to a situation like this." I grit my teeth, knowing it to be true, but not wanting to let go of my fantasy. After allowing myself to hope for so much, it felt like a surrender to back down, even to go back to the joy and accomplishment of this afternoon. Ash was so much more, and even if he was able to recover somewhat, he'd never be what he once was.

He'd never be what he was to me.

How many more letdowns would there be?

MewTwo seemed to take compassion on me. "I cannot create things from nothing. But, this human... he is a being who finds voids and fills them. He brings light into darkness and joy from despair. He died for you, and then he lived for you." MewTwo walked cautiously back over to Ash's bed. "I suggest you put your faith in him."

I looked towards the bed and nodded, but my heart wasn't entirely in it. My faith in Ash was once unshakable, but that was before he'd broken his promise to me. Unwillingly as it had been, my trust had been broken, and it hurt to acknowledge it.

"He promised that we'd be friends forever..."

"And ya still are!" The strange boy in the other bed leaped to his stubby feet, tears cascading from his eyes like water guns. "Just 'causa dis, you can't give up on 'im!" In perfect sync, his nurses rose to their feet, covering their own misty eyes.

"I agree! That's the way the twerp- I mean, friendship, works!"

"Even the best of friends will fight sometimes!"

"Uh, who are you?" May asked, and we all looked at the three strangers suspiciously.

Brock tapped his chin thoughtfully. "I don't remember seeing you around earlier, and I know the faces of all the pretty girls here..." The nurses shared frantic looks with each other.

"Well, uh, we're new!" they stammered. "Private health care, hired by the family!"

"Just here to do our job!" the red-headed nurse trilled, and we sighed a little. "Sorry to butt into the private moment."

"Oh, don't worry," Professor Oak sighed with a wave of his hand. "You didn't cause any trouble-"

"Trouble?" The two looked like they ice cubes had been poured down their backs. "That word!"

"Keep it togethaa," the boy threatened under his breath, but our suspicions were raised again.

"Don't these guys look familiar?" Iris began, and that was enough to start the train wreck.

"'Don't these guys look familiar?' you say!"

"We're familiar and providing you Medicaid!" I snarled, Brock and May rolled their eyes, Cilan and Iris braced themselves, Gary looked amused, Ash looked bored while Oak and Delia just looked shocked. I have no idea what MewTwo thought of this.

"Prepare for trouble!"

James conjured up a rose from behind an iv bag. "Yes, and make it double!" Nurse outfits flew into the air, revealing the black and white costumes of the team we both loathed and mocked. The bed-ridden boy proved to be Meowth, doffing his bandages in an impressive flurry.

"To protect the world from harsh diseases!"

"To unite all doctors in treating sneezes!"

"To find out what makes you ache and moan!"

"To extend the coverage of your HMO!"

"Excuse me, but are they well?" MewTwo asked aloud. No one answered him.

"Jessie!" We probably should have stopped the motto, but it was one of those things that was just as tedious to interrupt as it was to sit through, so we let them continue, even as they started building a giant 'R' out of the bedsheets. "James!"

"Team Rocket! Checking vitals at the speed of light!"

"Surrender now, or prepare to fight...for your life!"

"Meowth, that's right!" They struck their dramatic poses and held them for a few seconds while the impact sank in. Finally, Delia started clapping.

"Arrr," Ash nodded with a wry smirk, and I had a horrified thought that he might actually remember Team Rocket in a more favorable light than myself, but it turned out that he just recognized the letter 'R'.

MewTwo looked both puzzled and exasperated. "Are you quite done?"

I answered for them. "They were just leaving." The look in my eyes demanded obedience and they slunk out of the room, but not before running up and grasping Ash's hands.

"We're glad your feeling better, twerp!"

"And we're sorry!"

"Yes, horribly!

"Anything you need, ever, just name it!"

"And we won't try to steal Pikachu until you're better!"

"We won't even help with the Unova missions!"

"Get better soon!" I ushered them out of the room as quickly as I could without setting off a Thunderbolt and getting myself in trouble. Once they were gone, the conversation had a bit of a lull.

"That was certainly interesting..." Delia mused to herself, and the rest of us just looked at each other awkwardly until MewTwo broke in.

"May I have a word with the human?" he asked in a voice that wasn't anything like asking at all. "In private?" he specified when nobody made a move to leave the room.

"Sure, we just want to know what you're gonna say," May replied innocently, and if MewTwo had such a gesture in his repertoire, he'd have facepalmed. Finally, he gave up and seated himself across from Ash, facing that familiar yet slightly empty face.

"I, too, have lost the memories of those important to me," MewTwo began. "I cannot even be sure of what I have lost, just that something is missing, something I once was." Needless to say, this was a revelation for everybody. "The memories of people so dear to me are lost forever, and I am only aware of the fact that they are gone." Ash nodded, eyes full of understanding, sympathy and buried pain.

"I've spent the rest of my life trying to find meaning and purpose, hoping to discover who I am and my place in the world. Along the way, I've taken revenge on those who did this to me, forced my pain and anger onto others, and hid from the rest of the world. None of that made any difference. I am still me, whoever that is, and my memories are still gone." From my new vantage point, the usual table beside the door, I could see that Ash had a glimmer in his eyes, a few tears forming and threatening to fall.

"But I have learned one thing of comfort," MewTwo continued, telepathic voice even. "Miracles happen just as often as disasters, and they do not decrease in value just because no one remembers that they happened. Your memories may be gone, but they are not lost." The psychic pokemon looked to the crowd of people and pointed to Gary. "He remembers. And they remember." He widened his gestures to include the shadow under the table where I was hiding. "And I remember. I will remember you always." Ash was touched, but MewTwo was not yet finished. "Even if we all forget, the sky and earth still remember you, and all the places you walked. The earth lives because of you, and that is enough. Your forgotten past is only a small part of you; it is what you do with the gift of life that makes you who you are."

If Ash had a hat right now, he'd have surely pulled it down over his eyes. Instead, he rubbed at his face, vainly attempting to hide sniffles and tears.

"...g-gott... it-t..."

For my part, I wasn't exactly holding it together, either. But when MewTwo spoke to me just before teleporting far away from our crazy lives, I tried to act tougher. "I don't want him to let this go, I want him to come back."

MewTwo maintained an impassive face and tone. "As I said, he is not gone." He looked over my trainer, who was pretending he wasn't still wiping at his eyes. "You need to have more faith in him."

Faith. I wanted to, but... "He's not going to recover completely." It hurt to finally say that definitively. "We all know it, and it's pointless to pretend otherwise." I couldn't believe the words were coming out of my mouth, but it was true. No matter how many breakthroughs we made in Ash's therapy, he'd never be the Ash I remembered, or the Ash he remembered, and he'd never even know what we were all missing.

"If he does not recover completely, does that make him less valuable to you?" MewTwo posed, and I was startled. "If he did not recover at all?"

"No, of course not!" I cried, wincing when Ash heard my voice and whipped his head around. Never less valuable, it's just that this made my life hard, painful and possibly meaningless. MewTwo tossed his head haughtily.

"I know what you must think of me, but I have lived my life the best way I know how, despite having everything taken from me. I imagine," he looked over at Ash, "A heart like his will do infinitely better. If his old life is taken from him, he will create a new one for himself, one that you can both be proud of."

"I liked his old life," I found myself muttering. I was in that old life. But MewTwo had no care for my self-pity.

"You are entirely too greedy. It reminds me of myself." And with that disturbing comparison, he teleported away.

I did not want to be compared to MewTwo, though I was forced to admit that I wasn't even sure why that was. I was friends with a person I couldn't remember the most important things about, and though that made MewTwo hard to deal with sometimes, we were still friends. I still cared about him, and he risked his life for me, when I had no idea who he was. It shouldn't have been so hard to do the same for Ash.

Ash had done the same for MewTwo, without knowing the pokemon at all. It didn't matter to Ash if he knew us, or if we knew him, or even liked him.

And yet... I wasn't sure that I was ready to let our past stay in the past.

My thoughts on MewTwo's words, I finally curled up and went to sleep, alone. In my dreams that night, I poured so much lightning into the sky that the resulting storm nearly wiped out the planet, and it was only after Ash had run into the center of it that I realized I needed to be saved much more than he ever did.