Bolt of Truth
By Lucky_Ladybug

Notes: The characters do not belong to me! Just the story idea ^_~ How many here think Ash and Pikachu are too harsh with Team Rocket??! **raises hand** MEEE!!! **pause** I hope Ash and the others aren't acting terribly out of character, but this is something they've never dealt with before . . . Hmmm . . .

Ash watched as Team Rocket blasted off into the sky. "Alright! You got them, Pikachu!" he congratulated.

"Pika!" Pikachu said happily.

They weren't prepared for what happened next. Abruptly a limp body fell back out of the sky and crashed on the ground nearby.

"What the . . .?" Brock was startled.

"What happened?" Misty exclaimed.

"It's James," Ash realized, recognizing the shock of bluish-lavender hair. He knelt down for a better look.

"Serves him right," Brock muttered, and Pikachu chirped an agreement.

"He tried to take all those Pokemon, not to mention Pikachu," Misty added.

Ash shook his head, standing up shakily after examining the Team Rocket member. He looked pale. "No, guys, you don't understand. . . ."

"Ash! You look like you've seen a ghost!" Misty gasped.

"He's dead." Ash couldn't keep the horror out of his voice.

Brock and Misty stepped back, disbelief written on their faces. "What?"

"Pikachu and I . . . we killed him." Ash's eyes were wide in shock and horror. "I've just killed someone! I . . . I never thought something like this would happen . . . never . . ."

"Ash, it was an accident," Misty tried to console him.

"That's no excuse!" Ash replied. "Sometimes, when Pikachu would use his lightning bolt attack and send them into orbit, I'd have this funny feeling like it wasn't right. Like one of these times I might hurt someone. But I always brushed it away. I figured . . . I don't know, that they'd always just bounce back and be causing more trouble the next day. . . ."

"Pika?" Pikachu inched over, looking confused. Ash absently stroked his Pokemon's fur.

"I should have listened." Ash's voice was nearly a whisper now. "But now it's too late."

With that he turned and disappeared into the woods.

"I've never seen him like this," Misty breathed.

"Yeah, well, there's a good reason for that," Brock replied, looking at James' lifeless body. "Misty, you go find Ash while I try to figure out what to do about . . ." He didn't finish.
"Ash? Where are you?" Misty called. "Ash!"

That's when she saw him on a log in a clearing, an expression of hopelessness on his face.


He looked up. "I never meant to kill him, Misty. I never wanted that to happen, not even to Team Rocket."

"It's alright, Ash," she replied. "I know."

"It's not alright!" Ash returned. "Misty, don't you get it??! Someone's laying dead because of me! Because of *me*, Misty!"

Misty paused, the full impact of what had happened just now dawning on her.

"And what'll happen to me, now, Misty?" Ash's voice was a whisper again. "Will I have to go to prison?"

"Of course not, Ash," Misty said, horrified. "It was an accident. And Team Rocket was causing trouble."

"But they weren't actually hurting anyone," Ash replied. "They weren't doing anything that warranted being blasted off into the sky and . . . and . . ." He couldn't finish.

"We'll get through this, Ash," Misty promised.

"How can I even battle any more?" Ash looked down at Pikachu sadly. "I won't know if I might kill someone else."

"Oh Ash . . ." Misty wasn't quite sure what to say to that.

They remained there for a long time in silence, until finally Misty said quietly, "It's getting late. We'd better go back."

Ash nodded numbly. He wasn't sure at all what he'd do when he got back, but he went anyway.
When they exited the woods, Brock was starting a campfire. He looked up, relieved to see them. "Wow, I'm glad you guys are back," he said. "How're you holding up, Ash?" he asked, concerned.

Ash shrugged helplessly, brushing aside a stray tear. "I never thought I'd cry over a member of Team Rocket," he said softly.

"Pika?" Pikachu still looked confused, and sad. He went over to James and nudged him.

"He's dead, Pikachu," Ash told him. "We really blew it this time."

"Pika," Pikachu said in agreement.

Something wet fell on Brock's hand. "It's starting to rain," he realized.

"Oh great, now what?" Misty sighed.

"It's a good thing I set up one of the tents," Brock said.

Misty dove for cover while Ash and Brock tried to drag James' body into the tent.

"Was it my imagination, or did he just shudder?" Brock asked.

"This isn't funny, Brock!" Ash snapped.

"Ash . . ." They laid James down inside the tent and prepared to wait out the storm. "I'm serious," Brock finished.

Ash shook his head. "There's no way," he said softly. "I killed him. He's been dead for hours."

"Are you sure, Ash?" Misty asked.

"Of course I'm sure," Ash responded. "I couldn't find any signs of life, and I tried several times." Still, the others could see a wistful, almost hopeful, look in his eyes. Was it possible?

"Pika?" Pikachu sat next to James and tapped him on the shoulder.

James moaned. "Not now, Jessie," he rasped.

Pikachu jumped back, startled by James' sudden return to life.

The others were equally startled.

"I don't believe it," Brock muttered.

"It's impossible," Misty added.

"He's alive," Ash breathed, not quite able to comprehend. "He's really alive! We didn't kill him, Pikachu!"

"Pika?" Pikachu looked at Ash, then back at James, who had lapsed back into complete unconsciousness. Whether he had actually been dead earlier or just deeply senseless was a mystery, but he was definitely alive now, a fact that made Ash considerably relieved.

"I'll get some water," Ash announced. He returned shortly with a bucket of water, which Brock promptly took and dumped over James, who aroused and coughed.

"Welcome back," Brock said dryly.

James blinked, staring at his surroundings as if unable to believe where he was. "What happened?"

"We thought you were dead," Misty replied.

"I'm not so sure I wasn't," James said sarcastically. "But where's Jessie? And Meowth?"

Ash, Misty, and Brock exchanged looks. Finally Ash said, "We don't know. You're the only one we found. You crashed down near us."

"I have to go find them," James declared, struggling to get up.

"Whoa," Brock replied, gently pushing him back. "You'd better stay here a while and regain your strength."

"We're glad you're alright," Ash said. "I thought that I'd . . . oh, never mind."

James gave him an odd look but didn't press the matter. He was quite surprised, to say the least, that the twerps were being nice to him.

"Pika?" Pikachu came over cautiously and stood in front of James, watching him curiously.

"Come here," James said with a sigh, motioning with his hand.

"Pika," Pikachu responded defiantly.

"It's quite alright. I won't try to capture you," James replied.

"Really?" Ash gave his nemesis a quizzical look.

"No, not this time, anyway," James said. Pikachu finally allowed James to pick him up, albeit reluctantly. The Team Rocket member just stared at the Pokemon thoughtfully. This was what he, Jessie, and Meowth almost got killed for trying to grab? It didn't really seem like such an out of the ordinary Pokemon. Why did their boss want it so badly? With a sigh, he set Pikachu back on the ground and headed for the front flap of the tent. "I'd love to stay and chat, but I really must be going," he remarked, somewhat cynically.

"I hope you find Jessie and Meowth," Ash said sincerely, following him out.

"I hope so too," James replied. And then he was gone, disappearing into the dark night.

"That was a strange experience," Brock commented.

"You can say that again," Misty agreed.

Ash had mixed feelings about the whole thing. Part of him wished it hadn't happened, but the other part was glad it had, for it had been a wakeup call for him. Perhaps he did treat Team Rocket too rough at times, and maybe someday something tragic really would happen if he wasn't more careful. He would have to wait and see, but at the moment he couldn't see himself calling on Pikachu's thunderbolt attack anytime soon. With a sigh he turned and went back in the tent.

Final note: Jessie and Meowth are okay! ^^ Just wanted to let everyone know that! ;D