[Pokemon]

At a place where two roads meet in front of a massive forest of green, sat a large building with a red roof. Adorned on the wall were the large red letters "P.C." and over the glass door was a large decoration of a PokeBall. It was a roadside Pokemon Center, a key place for all trainers on the go.

This Pokemon Center had a few visitors. A boy wearing a white cap, a black shirt and a blue jacket. Next to him was a girl wearing jean shorts and a yellow shirt with red suspenders. The two of them stood a few feet away from an older boy, who wore an orange shirt, a green vest and brown pants.

"Oh do go on Nurse Joy..." Brock was leaning against the counter, supporting his head on his hand as he stared dreamily at the Nurse behind the counter. The pink-haired girl in the nurse's uniform actually giggled in response and resumed her story. She had been telling it for nearly twenty minutes, and showed no sign of slowing down.

"Ugh... why is Brock so interested in her story? It's so boring." Ash Ketchum, the boy in the cap, groaned as he leaned against the wall.

The girl punched him lightly in the arm. "You dummy! That's what real men do when they're interested in a lady! They listen to what they have to say."

Ash tilted his head. "How would you know?"

"Because girls know these things!" Misty insisted, crossing her arms. Ash just shrugged his shoulders, and turned away from Brock and Joy, instead gazing out the nearby window.

His eyes immediately focused on the nearby forest. The trees were thick and lush, and he could see movement in the branches. There was tall grass growing all around them, and Ash just knew that there would be Pokemon crawling all around.

"Hey, Misty... since Brock's going to take forever getting rejected by Nurse Joy, how about we go explore the forest?" Ash suggested. "I bet there's a bunch of cool Pokemon in there!"

Misty frowned, gazing out the window beside him. She really didn't like the idea of crawling around a forest, since that would likely mean they'd run into mostly Bug Pokemon – Misty's least favorite. Her eyes slowly moved back to the boy beside her and she sighed.

'I don't want to spend all day with some gross bugs, but... it would be nice to have some time with Ash where it's just the two of us... who knows, maybe the REAL reason he wants to go to the forest is so he can make some big romantic gesture!' Misty was quickly getting carried away in an absurd fantasy.

"Misty? Helloooo, Kanto to Misty? You there?" Ash interrupted her fantasy by waving his hand in front of her face. She instinctively went a bit pink in the cheeks, and as usually she overreacted to hide the fact.

"Don't just wave your hands at me like that you twerp!" Misty shouted.

Ash jumped back and felt a bead of sweat slide down his neck. He never understood what he did to make Misty so mad in situations like this, but he knew it was best to just give her some space. "S-Sorry. I'll just go by myself."

Misty's eyes widened as she realized she may have just blown her chance for alone time with Ash. She quickly shook her head and dismissed her anger, rushing over to his side. "Oh, no! It's okay. Let's go together."

"Pikapi... Pi Pika Pikachu...*" The small yellow mouse who always followed Ash around shook his head.

(*Poor Ash just can't take a hint.)

(\_/) _
(o'.'o)_/_/
(_)/

Nearly half an hour later and Misty regretted her decision. She was following after Ash in the midst of the dense forest, and she could feel every hair on her body standing straight up. A cold chill went up and down her spine, and the every moment of the leaves, twigs and tree branches caused her to glance around nervously.

Ash was, of course, completely oblivious to her discomfort. He was whistling a happy tune as they trudged on through the forest. Periodically he would stop and rummage around through the tall grass in search of Pokemon, but he could not find any.

"Man... I figured this forest would be crawling with Pokemon!" Ash complained.
"Then why don't we go back?" Misty asked sourly. She was shivering, rubbing her arms and sticking close to Ash.

Ash stopped and turned to her with a frown. "Aww, but Misty! I don't want to go back before we find any Pokemon. Otherwise what was the point in coming out here in the first place?"

"My thoughts exactly." Misty grumbled. She had tricked herself into believing her romantic fantasies... but the reality was Ash was as dense as ever. 'You blockhead! Even if you didn't bring me out here with some romantic idea, why can't you see how upset I am and try to comfort me?'

Ash just shrugged and continued forward. On his backpack, Pikachu looked up to Misty and let out a soft sympathy "Chu". He had watched these silly humans for as long as he could remember, and it was painfully obvious that they should be together and yet somehow it never happened.

Pikachu felt like he should do something to help Misty, but he knew that Ash was as thick in the head as a Snorlax was in the gut; and he was very unlikely to realize Misty's feelings without some kind of push in the right direction. Pikachu briefly considered electrocuting him – but he doubted that Ash would get the message.

"Buurrr... the forest sure has gotten chilly Ash." Misty said as she rubbed her arms. In truth it was not terribly cold outside, but she had a plan. "I sure wish I had a nice warm jacket like yours."

Ash laughed. "Yeah, you should have brought one! I'm nice and toasty. Guess that'll teach you to wear a tank top all the time, huh?"

Ash continued walking forward without even looking back at Misty. The redhead groaned and punched a nearby tree. Pikachu shook his head in her direction and let out another soft sympathy "Chuu".

After a few minutes more passed by, Misty began to think of a new plan. She thought back to all of the romantic movies she had watched over the years, trying to think of a scenario that might give her something to work with.

"You know Ash, this forest reminds me of a movie I saw once where this couple went in. They got scared by these big Pokemon, but they took shelter in a cave and it got really romantic." Misty recalled, hoping to get Ash talking about the idea of romance.

"Oh... I saw a movie like that once, only it was this couple who disappeared in a forest like this and got eaten by an angry Charizard!" Ash said, laughing. "It was pretty dumb though, but I was young so I was really scared!"

Misty groaned again. She rubbed her forehead, and when that didn't help the headache Ash was causing, she punched the nearest tree. This time, a large Wurmple fell down from the tree and landed on Misty's arm.

She did not take it well.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! A BUG! GET IT OFF GET IT OFF EW EW EWWWW!" Misty screamed as loudly as she could, flailing her arm around wildly. Ash spun around to face her, and Pikachu jumped from his backpack and watched with concern. Misty's flailing eventually got to be enough that it hurled the Wurmple away from her, sending it flying into the bushes.

"Ewwwwww!" Misty groaned, shivering.

"Aww, Misty! What did you do that for? I could have caught it!" Ash complained, crossing his arms.

The venomous glare Misty shot at Ash could have counted as a Pokemon attack. Unfortunately, Ash was so thickheaded he was immune to it and simply turned away and continued on.

"That's IT! I quit!" Misty groaned, as the straw finally broke the Camerupt's back.

Ash turned back to her and tilted his head in confusion. "You quit what? Come on, Misty it was just a Wurmple! You don't need to get all bent out of shape."

"Ash Ketchum you are the DUMBEST boy I have ever met!" Misty screamed, stomping her feet and clenching her fists. "Just... just forget it! I'm going back to the Pokemon Center! You have fun with your dumb worms!"

Misty spun around and started marching away from Ash. She felt tears welling up in her eyes. She heard Ash call out to her to 'Wait!' but she ignored him and kept stomping. Misty assumed that he wanted to apologize, but she was too mad for that right now and just wanted to get away from him.

Ash did not want to apologize, rather he was trying to warn Misty that she was stomping right in the direction of a steep slope down. He tried to call out to her again, but it was too late. Misty didn't even see the edge of the slope and when she tried to stomp her foot down in front of her she found only air. She yelped, lost her footing and went tumbling down a hill.

"Misty!" Ash yelled in a sudden panic. Although he was as dense as a Geodude, he knew that Misty was in trouble and he rushed towards the hill. Pikachu followed next to his feet, sprinting forward.

Ash reached the edge of the slope and didn't hesitate for a second before he went charging own the hill. He nearly lost his footing and fell, but he shifted to the side and slide down on the sides of his feet. At the bottom of the hill, Ash and Pikachu began to look around wildly for Misty.

"Misty! Misty!? Where are you!?" Ash yelled.

"Pikachu-Pi! Pi Pi Pika!*" Pikachu called out. (*Misty! Where are you?)

Suddenly, Ash gasped as he spotted her. Misty had fallen far from the hill and landed upside down in a massive spider's web. Ash and Pikachu rushed over and saw her struggling to break free from the sticky thread, but to no avail.

"Ash get me out of this thing!" Misty cried. She was in a full-blown panic. She was thrashing around, but the sticky web held her in place.

Then, a scurrying sound caused Misty to petrify in place in sheer panic. Her eyes widened, and so did Ash's. Ash's eyes were not on her, however, but just beyond her shoulder where he saw a massive Ariados quickly climbing down from a nearby tree and scurrying across the webbing towards Misty.

"Pikachu!" Ash yelled.

The electric mouse Pokemon did not have to be told twice. His bright red checks cracked with the sudden hum of electricity, and with a mighty "Pi-Ka-Chuuuuuu!" the small mouse discharged an enormous bolt of lightning that flew just over Misty and smashed the Ariados in the mouth!

The spider Pokemon was thrown back, away from the web and into the trunk of a tall tree. It slumped down and appeared to have fainted from the impact. Ash's first instinct would normally have been to try to catch it, but he had forgotten all about that. Instead he was trying to pull Misty free from the webbing.

"Pikachu, we need to break this web! If only you knew Cut..." Ash sighed.

"Pika! Pikapi, Pikachuuu!" Pikachu frantically motioned at Ash, and then pointed at his tail. While Ash Ketchum was dense about most things in life, he shared a special bond with Pikachu and immediately he realized what the little mouse was suggesting.

"That's a great idea! Pikachu, Iron Tail!" Ash called, pointing dramatically at the net.

Pikachu jumped up into the air and spun around like a blue hedgehog. His jagged, thunderbolt shaped tail suddenly took on a metallic sheen as it temporarily turned into steel. He came down and slashed at the Ariados' web with his now sword-like tail and cut through it with ease.

The moment the webbing was broke, Misty rushed forward away from it. She threw her arms around Ash and began to cry on his shoulder. Her entire body was shaking like a leaf. Misty had always been afraid of bugs, and coming so close to being eaten by an Ariados was one of her greatest nightmares.

Ash froze up like a Deerling in the headlights. He had a lot of experience with Pokemon battles, but virtually no experience with girls. He had even less experience with trying to comfort a girl who was terrified out of her mind. Ash awkwardly patted Misty on the back, trying his best to provide some sense of comfort to her.

Suddenly, Pikachu let out a frantic "Kachuuuuu!" causing Ash to look away from Misty. He then yelped aloud at the sight.

Several dozen Ariados were crawling down from the tree tops. There were also several Spinarak. Misty lifted her head from Ash's shoulder when he cried out and when she saw the sight she screamed loudly. Ash grabbed her by the hand and turned around, yelling "Run!"

Ash, Misty and Pikachu scrambled away. The slope they had come down was too steep to run back up, so they dashed off to the left through a gap in the trees. The Ariados and Spinarak were scurrying rapidly behind them, clicking their fangs loudly.

"Ash! I don't want to be eaten by a bunch of gross bugs!" Misty yelled as they ran.

"You won't, I promise!" Ash called to her. Misty's eyes widened a bit as they ran. She saw a side of Ash at that moment that she often forgot he had. He was usually so aloof and stupid, but she had seen him do amazing things on the rare opportunities when he actually applied himself.

This was one of those moments. She nodded and ran at his side, still clutching his hand tightly.

Pikachu, who could easily outrun them both if he wanted to, instead stayed just behind them. Every few feet he would stop, turn around and blast a Thunderbolt behind them at the oncoming swarm of spider Pokemon. It would always blast away a few of the closest Ariados, but there were so many that Pikachu did not dare try to take them all on.

The three kept running, and Ash knew they were in trouble. He was panting hard, and he could feel Misty slowing down a bit as they ran. Knowing how terrified she was of Bug Pokemon, he knew that the only reason she would slow down was because her body forced her to.

That's when Ash saw it. A few hundred feet ahead of them was a small cottage that stood in the middle of the woods. Ash did not know if anyone was inside or not, but he knew that if they could get in it would provide them some protection against the horde of Ariados.

"Misty! Just a little further!" Ash yelled to her. Misty could not reply. Her chest was tightening, her lungs were burning and her knees were screaming for a break. She stayed at his side anyway, pushing herself to her absolute limits.

Ash ran forward and as soon as they were at the cottage, he slammed against the door and twisted the knob hard. To his eternal relief, the door immediately opened and he and Misty fell forward into the cottage. Ash scrambled back to his feet and grabbed the door. He saw Pikachu rush in, and moved to close the door.

As he did, the nearest Ariados aimed horn on its head and fired several long, thin purple needles. Ash knew it was Poison Sting, an attack that was relatively painless, but could cause the victim to become poisoned. He managed to get the door slammed shut just as the needles flew, and several of them embedded in the door.

Ash quickly locked the door and then fell backwards. He laid on the ground, panting heavily with his arms stretched out to either side. He felt exhausted. His body ached and he just wanted to rest there for a while.

Misty screamed. Ash shot back up and looked behind him. At the right side of the cottage, one of the windows was wide open and an Ariados had started to crawl inside.

"Pikachu!" Ash yelled.

Pikachu moved into action immediately, sending a powerful Thunderbolt flying across the room and straight at the Ariados. The Ariados only had time to fire a single Poison Sting before the Thunderbolt smashed into its face and sent it flying back out of the window. Ash rushed over and slammed the window shut and pulled the curtains together.

"Man... that was close Misty." Ash groaned, still breathing heavily.

Misty did not respond. Ash immediately realized something was wrong, and he turned around to see her lying still on the ground. At first, he thought she was just tired from their long run. That's when Ash saw it.

The purple needle embedded in Misty's side. He gasped and ran over to her. It was the single Poison Sting shot by the Ariados before Pikachu had blasted it. Ash grabbed the needle and pulled it out of Misty's stomach, but she did not respond.

"No... No!" Ash screamed. He grabbed Misty by her shoulders and felt her skin was ice cold. For a moment, Ash's heart sank and he feared the worst. Then he heard her soft, shallow breathing and he realized that it was not too late. "Misty! Misty, wake up!"

Ash pleaded with the fiery redhead to wake up, but she did not. Her breath was coming in very shallow, but it was still coming in. Ash had tears in his eyes as he looked down at her, wishing that she would open her eyes and yell at him for being such a careless idiot.

"Oh Misty... this is all my fault..." Ash sniffled.

"Pikapi! Chu chu Kachu!" Pikachu rushed over and jabbered at Ash frantically. Ash turned his head to Pikachu, but he did not understand. That's when Pikachu jabbed his tail towards Ash's jacket, where a red, square-shaped device was poking out of his pocket.

Realization dawned on Ash, and he grabbed his Pokedex and quickly looked up the entry on Ariados. He read through the entry quickly, and finally found the section on Ariados venom.

'Ariados produces a virulent venom that is extremely toxic to humans. It causes the heartbeat to slow to dangerous levels, and often leads to the victim becoming extremely cold. The best treatment is the standard Antidote sold at all commercial Poke Marts.'

Ash quickly threw off his backpack and began to dig through it. After nearly a minute of searching, he remembered that he had used his last Antidote a few days ago when Pikachu had battled a Grimer. Frantic, Ash went back to his Pokedex and continued reading.

'Ariados venom relies on making the victim's body cold. By keeping the body temperature at normal levels, the venom's toxicity will be reduced. In cases of minor poisoning, the victim may recover in 12 to 24 hours if the body temperature is maintained at normal levels.'

"Misty was only hit by one Poison Sting..." Ash recalled. His heart skipped a beat. This could work! If he could find a way to keep Misty's body temperature up, she would recover! Ash silently groaned, wishing that he had his Charizard with him.

He looked to Pikachu. He knew that the mouse could produce electricity, but he did not think that shocking the unconscious and poisoned Misty was a very good idea. He rushed over to her and tore off his jacket, quickly slipping it over her. He frowned, quickly realizing it would not be enough.

"Pikachu! Help me look for some blankets or something!" Ash called, and the tiny electric mouse nodded and rushed off into the other room. Ash ran about the cottage, looking around. He saw a thin quilt on the back of a brown couch in the corner of the room, but it did not look enough.

He ran into the nearest room. It was a small kitchen with a black and white tile floor and marble counter tops. He groaned and hurried away from it, rushing instead down the same hallway Pikachu had gone down. He opened the first door on his right and came into a small bedroom.

The walls were red and the floor was covered in brown carpeting. The room was sparsly furnished, only a few shelves, a table and a bed. Ash's eyes immediately moved to the bedspread. It was red on one side and white on the other, with a Pokeball pattern sewn into the fabric. It looked to be a heavy blanket.

"Found something!" He called, and a moment later Pikachu reappeared at the doorway. Ash ran back into the living room and scooped up Misty in his arms. He turned and hurried back to the bedroom and gently sat Misty down on the bed. He pulled the blanket back and covered her with it, tucking the sides close against her body and hoping that it would be enough to keep her warm.

Ash collapsed into the chair near the desk, his eyes on Misty. She was so quiet and so still. He could see that she was breathing, but it was still shallow and it made Ash clench his fists in worry. He felt completely helpless, and utterly responsible for what happened.

Pikachu jumped up into Ash's lap and nuzzled his head against his trainer, trying to comfort him. Ash petted Pikachu's head absently, his eyes still locked onto Misty's unconscious form. He was shaking from head to toe out of sheer fear.

"Misty... you have to be okay... you just have too..." Ash sighed quietly.

Nearly thirty minutes passed in silence. Ash finally stood up and walked over to Misty's bedside. He reached out and placed his hand on her forehead, and felt that it was cold. He reached beneath the blanket and lightly touched her hand – and it too was cold.

"No, no, NO!" Ash felt a panic attack coming on. He didn't understand why Misty still felt so cold. Ash was at a loss for what he could do. His first instinct was to go fill a bucket with extremely hot water and dump it on her.

Thankfully, Pikachu was there to provide an alternative. The mouse grabbed at its trainer's pant leg and tugged so that he would look down to him. Then Pikachu made several motions with his arms, and then hugged Ash's leg.

It took Ash a minute to understand. Then his face turned a bright shed of red. "I-I-I-I can't do t-that!"

Pikachu wasted no time in sending an electric charge through Ash's body. Ash yelped out in pain as electricity surged through his veins and he fell backwards into the wall with a loud groan. He looked down at Pikachu, who simply stared at him with his left ear twitching slightly.

"O-Okay, I g-get the p-point." Ash stammered. He was really uncomfortable with the idea that Pikachu proposed, but arguing with Pikachu was both painful and pointless. So Ash slowly walked back to the bed, lifted up the blanket, and climbed in next to Misty.

Ash was immediately uncomfortable. He had a lump in his throat, and his body suddenly felt stiff and would not move at his command. He heard a 'Kachu' from behind him, and realized that Pikachu was still watching him and waiting.

"M-Misty, if you can hear me... please don't get mad." Ash gulped. He slid over to Misty so that their bodies were pressed together, and he slipped his arms around her. Ash had heard of people using body heat to keep one another warm before, but he had never really expected to have to do it with Misty... and the fact that they were huddled together in a bed made it all the more awkward.

Ash was still for a few minutes. He felt incredibly awkward about this moment. He could hear Misty's still shallow breathing, but she did not react in any way. He held her close, but her skin still felt cold even under his touch. Ash's eyes began to swell up with tears once again.

"Misty... please don't die." Ash whispered near her ear. "I... Misty there's still something I need to tell you... so you can't die now..."

Ash was too emotionally distraught to realize it, but Misty's skin had finally started to warm up. Some of the color was coming back into her face, and her breathing was becoming less shallow. Ash did not pick up on any of it, as he simply cradled her in his arms and tried to hold back as many tears as he could.

"... Ash..."

Ash gasped. Misty's eyes were open, ever so slightly. She looked extremely tired, but she turned her head to face him. There was clear confusion in her eyes. "What happened?" She mumbled weakly.

"Oh Misty!" Ash let out a relieved sigh. Pikachu jumped for joy on the floor beside the bed. Ash kept her tightly wrapped in his arms, too relieved to see her awake to be embarrassed or to think about how this might look to her. "You're okay... you're okay, right?"

"... I think so... are you... holding me?" Misty asked, her voice still very weak. She had no idea where they were, and could not remember how they got there.

His face turning rapidly red, Ash tried to think of the best way to explain this. "Um... yeah... I am, but-"

Before Ash could finish talking, Misty let out a small sigh. "Finally." She suddenly moved forward and pressed her lips against his. Ash's eyes widened in surprise, but then somewhere deep inside Ash's mind a seldom used synapse fired. Instead of thoughts of Pokemon, some long dormant part of his brain that controlled puberty finally came online; and Ash kissed her back.

Misty's arms wrapped around Ash's back and she deepened the kiss. She was too tired to be able to tell if this was real life or just a dream; but at the moment she didn't care.

Ash had no idea what he was supposed to do in this situation. He felt like he should say something, but his mouth was otherwise occupied and his brain was completely blanking on what he would say anyway. Suddenly he felt Misty lean into him and he shifted onto his back. She was on top of him, and for a minute the kiss continued.

And then Misty fell asleep.

Ash blinked when he realized what had happened, and the boy simply sighed. In all truth, he was halfway relieved, and halfway depressed. He had no idea what he would have been expected to do next; but he had a feeling that it would have been nice.

"Piiiikaaaaa." Pikachu jumped up onto the edge of the bed and flashed a thumb's up to Ash with a small wink. Ash felt a bead of sweat roll down his neck.

(o'.'o)_/_/

Eventually, Ash had managed to wiggle out from beneath Misty and returned to the chair. After a few hours, Misty woke up once again and this time she had made a full recovery. She sat up in the bed and groaned, rubbing her head.

"Ugh... I feel like I got trampled by a Rapidash." Misty complained as she stood up and stretched.

"You got stung by a Ariados." Ash explained, walking over to her and rubbing the back of his neck. He could not tell if Misty remembered what had happened or not, and he had no clue how to ask her. "Don't worry, though, all the Ariados left a while ago, so we'll be okay to get back to the Pokemon Center... um... if you feel like you can walk."

Misty nodded. "Y-Yeah, I'm feeling okay."

Ash felt extremely awkward. "Um... we should probably hurry. Brock is probably worried about us."

"Are you kidding? He's probably been so busy drooling over Nurse Joy that he didn't even notice we were gone." Misty replied with a small laugh.

Ash laughed too, but very quickly he felt sad. He was sure that if Misty remembered the kissing, she would have said something about it by now... or at least she would be feeling as awkward as he was. He assumed that the Ariados poison had put her in a daze, and she remembered nothing of it.

It made Ash wonder if the kiss had merely been random impulse from the poison, or if it had been something she wanted to do. He did recall her saying 'finally' just before she kissed him. Ash let out a small sigh.

"Something wrong?" Misty asked.

"Oh, um... no." Ash replied quickly, shaking his head.

The two hurried to the front door of the cottage. Ash peeked his head outside and quickly looked around, just to double check that the Ariados truly had gone. There was no sign of them, so Ash opened the door for Misty. They walked through, Pikachu following closely behind them.

They walked in silence for a few minutes, until Misty spoke up.

"Oh, Ash... by the way..." Misty began quietly. Ash felt his heart soar for a moment. "You can have your jacket back now."

Ash blinked. She was still wearing his jacket from when he wrapped it around her long ago. She peeled it off and handed it to him, and Ash just sighed as he slipped it back on over his arms. He had been sure for a moment that she was going to bring up what happened, but now he seemed doubly sure that she had forgotten.

He briefly thought about bringing it up himself... but if she had truly only kissed him because of the poison's effect on her, then would she think he had taken advantage of the situation? Ash certainly didn't want her to think that... and he really didn't want to be yelled at or punched either.

Just as Ash resigned himself to letting things go, he felt Misty take his hand. Her fingers interlaced with his and she held tightly to his hand.

"By the way, Ash... it better not take almost dying to get you to kiss me again." Misty said slyly.

Ash's face turned as red as a Charmeleon. "I-I-I, y-you, w-we, y-yeah." Ash stammered, completely unable to string two words together in any order that made any sense.

Misty giggled to herself, and then leaned up and kissed Ash on the cheek. She let go of his hand and then started walking ahead of him, leaving the dumbstruck, stammering Ash simply standing behind her trying to make sense of what had just happened.

"Chaaaa!" Pikachu squealed in excitement. Then, noticing Ash was still just standing there stammering, Pikachu sent out a small jolt of electricity into Ash's leg. Ash yelped loudly, and then realized Misty was several feet ahead of him by now.

"Misty, wait up!" Ash called and he rushed after her.

"Pikapi. Pika, Piiiiiiiiii, Kachu." Pikachu said to himself. (They're going to be juuuuust fine.)