arms held out

Pikachu likes to run. Ash follows him through the fields and into the woods, laughing and calling mock-threats, arms outstretched; Pikachu is never afraid like this, wandering through foreign territory, ears cocked for the sound of Ash's voices rather than predators.

In Pikachu's mind Ash's arms are always held out, he is always smiling, they are always on their way somewhere – the perfect training spot, the next badge, lunch. It remembers, dimly, that there had been a dark place, a cave with enormous Piakchu that licked him clean and fed him mashed up berries, Professor Oak bent over him and talking. Those things are faded and blurred, though, and Ash is clear as the morning sun, as sharp as the sparks that fizzle under Pikachu's skin.

When they are tired they flop down, in the grass or on large rocks or in the white beds in the Chansey-houses that are the same everywhere. Ash talks, and Pikachu listens and nuzzles him and falls asleep beside his head. Ash's words never vary, somehow – they're going to win, they'll have to work hard, Ash loves it very much.

Pikachu hopes that Ash won't evolve, just as it hasn't evolved either into Raichu. Raichu are big and bulky, after all, and Pikachu couldn't run beside him anymore, couldn't always turn and find his arms outstretched.

They go deep into the woods, or into town, or across the plains. Pikachu never turns around; it hears Ash's voice, just the same, and knows he must be following.