It's Just a Dream
All the battles…all the friends…all the rivals. Everything Ash had ever worked for, all the badges won, all the Pokemon caught, all the ties he had made with the world around him…all fading to black.
He had finally won the League Challenge…finally come out on top. Finally achieved his dream. And now everything was slowly being swallowed by the dark.
It started at the edges of the stands. Ash had thought it seemed darker, but the arena was open to the sky, and he thought that maybe it had gotten late without him noticing and clouds were covering the stars, but no; the darkness was closing in. The cheers from the crowd slowly lessened as each warm body disappeared.
As it reached the edge of the arena itself, Ash felt the first tendrils of fear and confusion. What was happening? He edged closer to the center, towards Pikachu, who was looking—strangely calm.
"Pikachu—?" He grabbed his friend and looked wildly around. What was this? Was this another trick from Team Rocket? Another trap?
But so what if it was? There was nothing he could do. The darkness closed around him, leaving nothing visible, just him and Pikachu—and a dot of light.
As it got closer, Ash realized it was a Togetic. And not just any Togetic, he thought it was Misty's Togetic. But why wasn't it protecting Togepi Paradise?
The Pokemon paused a few feet away, hovering. Then it started to glow.
Awed, Ash at first thought it was evolving into Togekiss. But he knew what Togekiss looked like, and it wasn't the human figure forming in front of him.
The boy that took shape was the same height as him. Ash assumed they were the same age. He had short white hair and bangs that swept over the left side of his face. He was wearing a white shirt and shorts, and the shirt was covered in red and blue triangles. He was barefoot.
"Who—who are you?" Ash whispered.
The boy laughed and for a moment, Ash thought he heard the rustle of feathers, as if wings had twitched in response.
"I'm Togetic," the boy said brightly.
"N-no. You're a person!" Pikachu squirmed in Ash's arms and leapt down, also starting to glow. "Pikachu!" he wailed.
The boy that formed here looked strangely like Ash. They had similar features, except the new boy had yellow blonde hair, a yellow shirt, and black cargo shorts. The boy was, like Togetic, barefoot.
Always before, Ash had faced new things and challenges fearlessly, with a determination needed for a Pokemon master. But with this happening only minutes after his victory, the crash seemed to have much more effect then it normally would have.
"What are you?" he wailed, stumbling back. This was a dream, wasn't it? It had to be. Pokemon didn't turn into people.
"Ash, don't be afraid," the boy (Pikachu?) whispered, holding out a hand. "It's still me."
Togetic nodded, smiling sadly. "We're the same as ever, Ash. Pikachu is still your friend, I still guard the Togepi."
"Then what's happening?" He was still afraid, because even if they were still your friends, Pokemon just did not turn into people. But now there was more confusion than anything else, because now he wanted to know how it was even possible.
"Ash, you won." It was Pikachu who spoke, his hand dropping back to his side. And he said it like it was so obvious, like Ash should know what that had to do with anything.
"So it's time to make a decision, Ash," Togetic said gently.
"Decide what? I won, that doesn't mean I don't still want to go to the next region, see new Pokemon. I still want to travel!" It was so clear to Ash, what he wanted to do. What decision did he possibly have to make?
"We know, Ash, but…" Togetic hesitated.
"But what?" Ash asked.
"You dreamed of being a Pokemon master. Now that you've achieved it, you have to decide. Do you want to wake up? Or do you want to stay here?" Togetic elbowed Pikachu, making him yelp. "Ouch! What was that for?" the blonde whined.
"I can't believe you just blurted it out like that!" Togetic snapped.
"You were taking too long!"
"Wait, what do you mean, wake up or stay here?" Ash blurted out, ending the argument. Was this a dream after all?
Togetic sighed, glared at Pikachu, and stared off into the distance for a moment. Then he spoke. "Ash, if I told you that you were in a coma, that this entire journey was a dream, what would you say?"
Ash laughed uneasily. "I'd think you were joking." And normally, he would, but…but hadn't he wondered? Hadn't he asked himself that before? Not that it mattered, everyone did at some point, right?
"What if I wasn't joking?" Togetic turned back to him, staring intensely.
"I guess—I guess I'd want to know what happened. I'd want to make sure Mom was okay, too." Ash furrowed his brow, thinking hard.
"What if I said that when you got hit by lightning, you got knocked unconscious and didn't wake back up?" Pikachu asked, his face suddenly unreadable.
"I'd still think you were joking, 'cuz that would make everything a dream," Ash said breezily, letting that realization comfort him. He couldn't dream all of that up, could he? That was impossible. "Come on, guys. I'm not in a comma."
"I think you mean you're not in a coma, Ash," Pikachu emphasized, smiling slightly.
"What if really all was just a dream?" Togetic asked, ignoring Pikachu's correction. "What if it really was, and you had the chance to wake up? You can either wake up or stay in the dream."
Ash fell into silence for a moment, thinking. Wake up or stay, his only options. He wondered what he would do if he really was in a coma. He wanted to blurt out that he would wake up, see his mother again, even if he never got to see his friends again—he flinched. Never see Brock? Or Misty, Tracy, May, or Dawn? Max, Iris, Cilan…granted, he hadn't seen some of his friends in a while, but he still had the chance to.
But it meant seeing his mother, making her happy that he was okay, right? So why did he get the impression it wasn't so simple as it was put?
"Would it really be that simple?" Ash asked. "Just wake up, go back to my normal life? Pretend none of this never happened? If this really was a dream, anyway," he added doubtfully.
"Maybe not quite so simple," Togetic said smoothly. "Some people who are in comas for a long time have to relearn how to walk, for example. But there would really be no way to tell what you would have to do, unless you decided to wake up."
Somehow, Ash knew he was lying about not knowing. And at that moment, he realized.
This wasn't all hypothetical, "what if." He was really being told he was in a coma, really being told that he had to decide. And somehow he knew that if he woke up, he might not get to run around the world like he could here.
And bottom line, he didn't know what he would do. If the mother he kept going back to visit here wasn't real, then he wanted the real Delia Ketchum, right now. But at the same time, he didn't want to lose his friends, or his freedom. He looked back at his two companions.
Togetic watched him expectantly. Like he knew Ash's answer, and letting him say it was only a restriction that he had to put up with. A minor annoyance, but that was okay, because he would have his expected results in just a moment.
Pikachu was looking away from Togetic, smiling when he noticed Ash looking at him, but otherwise keeping his face blank. No hints there.
Stay, go…Ash knew that if he woke up, he'd have challenges that he might not be ready for. He knew everything was about to change with his choice. And he could feel the silent pressure, and he couldn't take it anymore.
"I don't know," Ash blurted out. Pikachu blinked at the outburst, while Togetic simply frowned. Not what either of them had expected at all.
Pikachu glanced at Togetic, then behind them, where two dots of light were growing. Suddenly they expanded, and Ash could catch glimpses of scenes through the haze. On his left, he could make out a TV mounted on a white wall, a white table that he thought held a potted plant. On the right, he glimpsed a yellow wall, a brown wood table holding what looked like a jacket. His jacket?
"Whatever you decide is fine," Pikachu said gently, before walking through the right oval. He faded from view.
"Much as I hate to admit it, it's a good idea," Togetic muttered. He gave Ash one last appraising look and walked through the left light, also fading away.
So it came down to choosing a light? No, Ash realized, not a light, a doorway. He had to choose a door, a life.
He turned away, took off his hat, and ran his fingers through his hair. He had always figured decisions like this would be easy, but for some reason, it just wasn't. He should want to see his real mother, right? He should want to wake up. Finding out that the entire journey had been a lie should have been enough.
So why wasn't it?
Slowly, he took himself through everything. He tried to think of everything that could possibly make this decision difficult, tried to think if he could let it go or not. Came to realize some things. Made a decision, and hoped to Arceus that he wouldn't regret it.
He took a deep breath and walked forward.
Ash opened his eyes to see Iris leaning over him, Cilan brooding in a corner, and Pikachu lying on his chest. He sat up with a gasp, causing Pikachu to roll away with a startled yelp.
"Ash!" his friends cried at the same time. Iris suddenly wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug, sobbing.
"Hey," Ash protested weakly, but he didn't push her away. He could barely remember the dream he'd been having, but he knew it had been unsettling, and he kind of needed this.
"Ash, we were so worried," Iris sobbed.
"What happened?" Ash asked, looking around. "Am I at the Pokemon Center?"
"Yeah," Cilan said, his face serious. "You passed out after you won. You've been unconscious for two days. Nurse Joy said she didn't know what was wrong, but you might have gone into a coma."
That sparked something about the dream, but he lost it just as fast. He frowned, trying to remember.
"What's wrong?" Iris asked, wiping her tears away.
"I—I had the weirdest dream. But I can't remember what happened now." He looked at Pikachu, who had settled on his lap, and hugged the tiny electric type. It seemed like the dream had been about him and Pikachu and Misty's Togetic…or was it him and two other boys?
"That's okay, Ash," Cilan assured him. "It was just a dream."
A/N: This is just a little one shot, a taste of what's coming. I came up with this when I was reading through Pokemon conspiracy theories, and one person was like, "Huh. What if Ash is in a coma?"
I just had to write what I thought would happen.
But even before that, I was going to use Pokemon in a coma setting, and that's a work in progress that won't be posted until completion.
Hope you guys like it! Read and review, brownies if you do!