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| The day was a dark one.
The sun was out, radiantly shining through the trees casting mid morning shadows on the concrete as Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pikachu traveled through the waking city, to the suburbs where men were rushing out front doors, hastily giving their wives a peck on the cheek as they lunged for the car and zoomed off late for work, or where sleepy children were herded out the door by fatigued mothers so they wouldn’t miss the bus for school. The suburbs were small, and after a few blocks, the group came upon a forest, untouched by people as it was somewhat dense with foliage.
Misty: “There doesn’t seem to be a path around here. How are we going to get through this? These vines and plants are way too thick.”
Ash was still feeling anxious from earlier that morning and spoke in a harsher tone than he would have liked. “Stop complaining. I’ll just call out Bayleef to cut the undergrowth away.”
Brock: “But Ash…”
Ash [not listening or thinking]: “Bayleef, I choose you…huh?”
As Ash reached down to pull off Bayleef’s pokeball to call him to action, he felt the side of his jeans along his belt loops. There was no pokebelt. There were no pokeballs. That space was full of emptiness.
Ash put his hand down, his head following, hung in defeat. “I, I forgot.”
Even with the sky’s crystal cerulean color and the blinding brightness from the unhidden sunrays, the group was shaded by an emotional cloud of darkness. But even in darkness, a simple ray of kindness can give a trickle of light to a cloudy day. Ash’s light of love came in a simple touch.
Ash looked up again, startled by a touch on his shoulder. A delicate, caring hand was lying on his shoulder, emanating warm tenderness through contact that radiated through his body as he soaked it all up. He turned his head slowly around to come in contact with a pair of incredibly riveting aqua blue eyes.
Misty [smiling and speaking softly]: “Don’t worry Ash. There has to be a path here somewhere. We’ll find a way.”
Ash [smiling slightly, but wholeheartedly]: “Thanks Misty.” [to everyone] “Let’s go guys.”
Pikachu [bounding after Ash, trotting by his feat]: “Pika, Pikapi!/I’m with ya, Ash.”
Ash [looking down at Pikachu]: “Hey buddy. Do you think you can use your nose and find a trail we can take to the top of the mountain?”
Pikachu: “Pi chu pika pikachu?/Do I look like a growlithe?”
Ash: “Pikachu, I know you’re not a dog pokemon. Don’t be smart right now. Seriously, can you try to sniff for other people’s scents to lead to a trail?”
Pikachu [considering Ash’s serious look]: “Pi, pi chu/Well, alright.”
Ash: “Great, let’s go.”
Ash started off to the right with Pikachu leaping ahead of him so the little creature could sniff the earth and search for the scents of others who tried to hike up the mountain. Misty was just about ready to walk after them when Brock playfully tugged on her arm.
Brock [mischievously]: “Soooooo, what was up with that little ‘touch’ of affection back there, hmmm?”
Misty blushed. “Brock, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Now we need to go…hey!”
Brock pulled her back again, preventing her from following after Ash. “So why do you want to leave so soon? Is it because you have something to hide, or that you know that I know that you’re hiding something? Or maybe it’s because you can’t bear to spend a moment away with your sweet Prince Charming.”
Misty: “Well, he is hardly what I would call charming, but I would like to go and save our Pokemon someday soon.”
Brock: “That’s true, he’s no Prince Charming. Better yet, he’s still a frog prince, but I bet if his little princess came along and gave him a big kiss then he would turn into a handsome prince, [poking Misty with his elbow] ehh?”
Misty [fuming]: “Ash is NOT my boyfriend, and if you wouldn’t mind I would like to go NOW and help him find our poor pokemon. So let me go right now!”
Misty stormed off after Ash, but Brock’s grin only broadened.
Brock [to himself]: “Hehe, I never said Ash was her boyfriend… oh crap, they left me behind!”
Brock ran off after Misty, so intent on catching up that when he saw them, he didn’t notice that they had stopped and continued running until…
Misty: “BROCK! Could you not see that I was standing right in front of you?”
Brock: “Sorry Misty, I didn’t mean to bump into you.”
Misty: “I think ‘plowed’ into me is a more appropriate word.”
Ash: “Hey you two, guess what? Pikachu found a trail!”
Misty: “Wonderful! Great job Pikachu!”
Pikachu: [rubbing his hand bashfully behind his head]: “Pika, pikachu/Aww, no sweat.”
Ash: (turning to his friends) “This is it you guys. Are you sure you all want to go? I mean, I can do this myself. It’s ok. I just don’t want either of you all to get hurt.”
Brock: “No way Ash. We’re in this for good.”
Misty: “We’re in this together.”
Ash looked at Misty with a pensive expression, like he was thinking over something very important. “Misty, this is going to be really hard. It’s not like something we’ve ever done before. Why don’t you stay here and help Nurse Joy. Brock and I are strong; we can take care of it.”
Misty looked hurt and shocked by Ash’s words, but covered it quickly with her usual temper. “And how come you and Brock get to go and I don’t? Am I not strong enough? Is it because I’m the weak girl?”
Ash: “This is going to be totally different than any of our other adventures, Misty. These pokemon are going to be unbelievably powerful and…”
Misty: “So that’s it. You don’t think I’m strong enough so you’re…”
But just then, Misty was cut off by Ash as he put a finger to her mouth, stopping her in mid sentence. Ash then turned to Brock.
Ash: “Hey Brock. Why don’t you go on up the trail a little bit? I want to talk to Misty for a minute.” [With pleading eyes] “Please.”
Brock nodded. “Sure. I’ll go on up and meet you in a few minutes.”
Ash: “Pikachu. Would you go with Brock please?”
Pikachu: “Pika, Pikapi…/But Ash…”
Ash: “Come on Pikachu. We’re friends, but you need to obey me. Will you do it for me?”
Pikachu: “Pi ka/okay.”
Brock: “Come on Pikachu.” [smirking] “Let’s give these two a moment alone.”
Brock couldn’t help smiling to himself as he and Pikachu started up the path. ~I wonder what Ash is gonna say to Misty that just had to be said alone.~
Back to Ash and Misty…
Misty: “Ash. What’s going on?”
Ash didn’t even know himself. ~Why on earth am I doing this? I just felt like I had to talk to her alone a minute ago, and now I don’t even know why. What’s going on with me?~
Misty: “Ash? You okay?”
Ash snapped out of his daze and came back to reality, looking slightly downward at a worried, inquisitive girl. “Huh? Yeah, yeah I’m fine.”
Misty: “Then what was it that you wanted to tell me?”
And that’s when it hit him. He didn’t know. He was going to have a really hard time trying to find something to say, but he had to tell her something.
“Ok, it’s like this. I was thinking that since we are going up to Mt. Silver and we don’t know what to expect, it wouldn’t do us any good to all get caught and, well, who knows what else could happen.
So, you see…
~Come on Ketchum. Think of something to say to her.~
“Well, I think one of us should stay behind just in case something does happen. Then that person can inform the police and in the mean time, help Nurse Joy with the remaining pokemon.”
He thought Misty would never buy it. It sounded so jittery and made-up. But then she spoke.
Misty: “I think I understand.”
Ash: [looking up in surprise] “Wha, what? You bought it, I mean, um, you understand?”
Misty: [lightly laughing] “Yes, Ash, I understand. And you know what else I understand?”
Misty: “You know what else I understand?”
Ash: “What Misty?”
Misty: [exploding with rage] “I understand that you think that I’m too weak to do this job. Well I’ll show you just how weak I am!”
Misty starts beating Ash up with a giant mallet…
Ash: [gulping] “What, what else do you understand?”
Misty: [blushing, smiling lightly] “I understand that you just want to protect me and you don’t want me to get hurt, and I really admire that.”
Then Misty did the unthinkable. She tiptoed a little bit so she was level with Ash and pecked him on the cheek.
Misty: [realizing what she just did] “Um, thank you Ash. I mean, uh, I’m gonna go now and help Nurse Joy.” She started to run off, but turned around quickly, adding sincerely, “Take care, Ash.”
With that, Misty ran off, leaving behind a stunned, wide-eyed Ash who still couldn’t get past that last minute of his life. Slowly, he raised his hand up to cover the spot on his cheek that Misty had kissed, feeling a warm, tingly sensation that wouldn’t go away. He didn’t want it to go away.
All the while, unbeknownst to Ash and Misty, Brock and Pikachu had been watching them from behind a tree.
Brock: [looking down at Pikachu] “So, Pikachu. What do you think?”
Pikachu: “Pika pika, pikachu? Pipi ka Pikapi!/You know what I think? Misty loves Ash!”
Brock: “You know, I have no idea what you just said, but I think Misty really likes Ash and he is just now getting the idea.”
Somewhere outside Mt. Silver…
James: “Hey Jesse. Where exactly did you say we were supposed to find the entrance?”
Jesse was getting very irritated. “According to this stupid map, it’s supposed to be right here! I swear, I’ve had it with Team Rocket! And the boss says we’re incompetent.”
Meowth: “Will you two quit yappin’ and give me da map. I swear, Meowth’s gotta do everything around here. [taking the map] Now, according to this, it’s should be right in front of us.”
Jesse: [fuming, after hitting Meowth] “That’s exactly what I just said, fur-brain!”
James: “Now, let’s everybody calm down. Maybe we should try saying ‘Open Sesame’ or something.”
At that, a secret door opened, leading into a cave. Jesse and Meowth fell over in stupidity.
James: “Well, imagine that! That was a piece of cake. Speaking of cake, I’m really hungry. I think I’ll go into town for a bite to eat before we go in there…[being wacked over the head] AH!”
Jesse: “How can you think of your stomach at a time like this?!? We are going in that cave whether you like it or not!”
Meowth: “Just one question, Jesse.”
Jesse: “Oh. And what is that?”
Meowth: “How are we going ta close that door after we go in?”
Jesse lost whatever ounce of her temper she had left. “I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care! We’ll figure that out after we go inside and deliver these pokeballs to the boss.”
James: “But Jesse, what if someone comes up here and…”
Jesse: “Enough! We’re going in. We’ll come back later and straighten out this mess.”
With that, the trio went inside, completely unknowing of who was on their way.
Brock: “So Ash. What’s going on with you and Misty?”
For the past few hours, the two boys and Pikachu had been climbing the mountain, walking up the trail bit by bit as it was continuously getting steeper. They had mostly been quiet, lost in their own thoughts about what had happened and what was to come. The ground had just begun to level off a little bit when Brock started to speak.
Brock: “Wow. You’re really out of it, huh? I guess I don’t blame you. I’m kinda freaked out about what’s comin’ up too. I mean, we’ve heard more rumors about this place then we’ve heard your mom tell you to pack clean underwear.”
Ash: [red from embarrassment] “She hasn’t told me that that many times.”
Brock: [laughing] “I knew that would lighten the mood. So, now that you’re back with us, do you mind telling me what’s goin’ on?”
Ash: “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Brock.”
Brock: “It’s simple; what is up with you and Misty lately? It’s like every time I turn around, you all are laughing together or two inches away from kissing or something.”
Ash: [with a practically crimson face] “Brock, I’m telling you there is nothing… hey, what’s that?”
Brock turned his head to the right to see what Ash was talking about. They had just come into a small clearing. There were still trees around the area, but it felt just as open as a field after walking through a dense forest for two hours. There, right under what seemed to be a small cliff straight ahead at the end of the clearing, was a small cave.
Brock: “Oh man. Do you think that’s the entrance to Mt. Silver?”
A cold chill ran down Ash’s back. ~I don’t like the looks of this.~
Ash: “Yeah, I, I guess it is. Well, let’s go. We don’t have any time to lose. You ready Pikachu?”
Ash looked down at his little Pika friend. Pikachu was walking back carefully from where they had come into the clearing, laying down little pebbles in a line to mark the path.
Ash: “Pikachu, what are you doing?”
Pikachu thought about their long trip up here. About an hour ago, the group had come upon a small creek and took a two-minute break to cool off a bit. That’s when Pikachu saw them. There were several small pebbles lying down near the creek, just small enough for a little Pikachu to carry some. That’s when the idea had come to his little head.
Pikachu: “Pika PI pikachu, pika pikachu pika pika./Putting rocks down, so we can find our way back.”
Ash smiled at his pokemon’s ingenuity. “Ok then, since you’re done, are you ready to go in the cave?”
Pikachu: [timidly] “Pi kAaa./It’s dark in there.”
Ash: “Pikachu, c’mon buddy. I know you’re scared, but all of our friends and many other pokemon are counting on us.”
Pikachu turned his head upward to look into Ash’s face. When he did, he saw Ash’s assuring eyes and his encouraging smile, making Pikachu feel a lot better.
Pikachu: “Pika, Pi Ka!/Ok, let’s go!”
Ash: [picking up Pikachu and hugging him] “That’s the spirit. I knew you wouldn’t let me down. [putting Pikachu back down] Ok guys. Let’s save our pokemon.”
Brock: “Hey Ash, look at this.”
Ash: [coming over to the cave’s entrance] “What is it Brock?”
Brock: “It looks like there’s a sliding door here, like either somebody added this door to control the cave’s access, or that this opening isn’t even a natural entrance to the cave.”
Ash: “Well, I guess this is a good thing.”
Brock: “What are you talking about?”
Ash: “This just proves that Team Rocket is behind this, and that we’re on the right trail. C’mon guys, it’s time to go in.”
As Ash, Brock, and Pikachu were heading inside of the cave entrance, they were oblivious to the fact that they were being followed. Just an hour behind them came a fiery red-head who was determined not to let anything bad happen to her friends or her…well, her other friend, for now. She wanted to be good to Ash and listen to him, but it took her only twenty minutes, just as she was about to leave the forest, to decide that she would rather risk him being mad at her for not listening to him than to let anything bad happen to them. So she turned right around and headed back up the mountain.
Misty: [quietly, to herself] “Ash, I’m sorry I didn’t do as you asked. I’m not using my head for once. I’m using my heart.”