A lone figure sat outside the Pokemon Center and pulled his grey windbreaker close to his body as a strong wind rolled in from sea.
“Where are you two?” James asked to himself as he looked out past the docks toward the now setting sun. A set of hands covered his eyes and he smiled.
“Guess who didn’t find rooms for any of us tonight?” Jessie’s voice spoke from behind him.
“I knew we waited too long, Jess.” James sighed and Jessie removed her hands. “Let’s check the hotel. It’s going to be a cold night. I don’t want you and the baby sleeping on the ground.”
“Don’t be silly. I am still alright to be sleeping on the ground for a few more months. Hopefully we get this problem with the St. Anne resolved before long so we have time to hunt for our first place in Nashwa.”
“I agree…” James looked back at the road and noticed the sky was beginning to turn purple.
“No sign of the twerps?”
“Not a thing. I am really worried about them.”
“It’s out of our hands, James.”
“I know but I wish there was something I could do to help.”
“We can reserve a room for them tonight at the Hotel. I hope for their sakes they come back tonight and sleep in a nice warm bed. We will have to get together for breakfast to talk about what went on out there at sea.”
“Oh, Jessie…” James looked to her sadly.
“They’ll be alright. I know it.” She smiled and took his hand. They walked together to the hotel in hopes of reserving rooms for themselves and their missing friends.
~~~~~A Few Hours Earlier~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Use sleep powder…” Ash whispered to his Venusaur through his shirt collar that he was currently using as a mask. His Venusaur released a powdery substance from the flower on his back and into the brightly lit hallway. Ash and Misty waited quietly for the sounds of bodies hitting the floor sleepily. A handful of sighs and thuds met with relieved ears and the two friends moved silently forward.
“I hope they stay out.” Misty whispered to Ash as he recalled Venusaur. The room seemed to have cleared of sleep powder so the friends dropped their shirt collars from their faces.
“We have a few hours before they will even stir. If we are lucky they will stay out all night.” He squatted down next to one of the men on the floor.
“Lucky? How long do you think this will take?”
“Not sure. We have to figure out who is behind this first.” He examined the slumbering perp and found a large letter R on his left jacket pocket. “Why am I not surprised?”
“Do you think Jessie and James knew about this?”
“I don’t think so.” He paused and held his breath just as someone was about to enter the room. They both stood up and hid behind the door right as it opened. The Rocket grunt leaned in cautiously and looked around at his comrades laying about on the floor.
“Hey, what’s…” He turned around to see Ash’s fist come into contact with his face.
“Is he dead?” Misty asked as they snuck past said thug on the floor and down another hallway. At the end, a set of stairs led down deeper into the ship.
“He’ll be fine.” He peeked down the stairs.
“So much for fighting offensively…”
“I had no choice.” Someone was heard walking up the stairs. Ash fell back against the wall and pushed Misty back with him, hitting her breasts in the mean time. His face went red for a second as they watched the man pass them by while reading paperwork, his arm never leaving it‘s place on her chest. When the coast was clear, he slowly pulled his arm back and rested it safely at his side.
“Watch what you are doing.” Misty hissed into his ear and grabbed it firmly.
“Save it for later!” Ash swatted her hand off his head and listened down the stairs for activity.
“What are we supposed to do with all these passengers?” A man exclaimed into the quiet room. A long pause followed before he spoke again. “Sir….” He the sounded solemn. “No, sir. Of course, sir. I‘ll… I‘ll do it right away.” A tiny beep sounded and an object was dropped onto a surface lazily.
“What did da boss want us ta do?” A familiar voice questioned. Ash and Misty slowly leaned back up against the wall and out of view and looked at each other in disbelief.
“He wants us to tie them up and throw them overboard.” The man choked.
“We screwed up big time! Things didn’t go as planned and now this is what we have been reduced to!”
“Why not just pull everyone out an’ try again anotha time?”
“How long would we have to wait until their security died down before trying again? The boss is impatient.”
“We can just let ‘em go free and ditch tha ship! It ain‘t gonna do us any good at kill all these people!”
“He said to do it and not to question him!”
“He has lost his marbles!”
“I have to do as he says. Otherwise, he will make an example of me…”
“We can say we were overpowered at the last minute. It is only you and me and a handful of thugs.”
“Maybe it’s a test?” The man sounded crazed and desperate.
“What are ya rambling about now?!” Meowth yelled irritably.
“Let’s do it anyway! Meowth, call everyone down here! We are throwing the hostages overboard!”
“I say we ditch da ship! I ain‘t killin‘ anyone!”
“I’ll throw you overboard too for disobeying direct orders!”
“This cat ain’t goin anywheres…” Meowth growled and the sound of his sharp claws unsheathing rang into the quiet room.
“You dare to challenge me?”
“Naw, I think yer challenged all by yerself!”
“Traitor!” There was a struggle and a few minutes later Meowth was heard choking.
“Put him down!” Ash ran down the stairs at the first sign of Meowth’s struggle.
“How did you get onboard?” The man asked Ash but held a firm grasp of Meowth’s neck.
“I said let him go!” Ash pointed at the man menacingly and stared him down. The man smiled and dropped the weakened Meowth onto the floor who crawled away to the corner of the room. He reached for the lone poke ball hanging at his neck by a gold chain.
“You have no idea who you are dealing with.” The man threatened and pressed the button on the poke ball to enlarge it.
“Funny, I was about to say the same thing to you.” Ash said smugly and withdrew his own poke ball. Misty stood behind Ash, ready to help if needed.
“Seviper! Come forth!” The man bellowed and released his Seviper. It coiled up protectively in front of it’s master.
“Infernape, we need some help!” Infernape appeared and puffed out it’s chest as it eyed it’s new opponent.
“Seviper, use Wring Out!” Seviper dove for Infernape.
“Infernape, use Leer!” Infernape managed to get it’s leer in before Seviper wrapped it’s body around it. The Wring Out did a great deal of damage and left Infernape breathless when the snake Pokemon withdrew.
“You are nothing but small fry in the vast ocean!” The man began still crazed. He looked the part too.
“You shouldn’t judge your opponent so quickly.” Ash smiled as Infernape went into a rage and seemed to be recharged.
“Seviper, use Poison Jab!” The man ordered and The Seviper obeyed but not in enough time to land the attack. Infernape grabbed Seviper’s tail just as it moved aside to avoid the attack.
“Close combat.” Ash said. Infernape unleashed all of it’s power onto Seviper in a sea of punches, kicks and throws. The unknown Rocket man stood agape and unable to believe his one and only Pokemon was being defeated.
“Seviper! Use Venoshock on all of them!” Seviper obeyed without question and regurgitated a vile liquid all over Ash, Misty, and Infernape. Ash seemed unaffected and Infernape seemed to take it in stride as he finished off Seviper with some more Close Combat. The man recalled his Pokemon and pushed passed Ash to run up the stairs.
“You son of a-” Ash growled after him, bounding up the stairs as quickly as his feet would carry him.
He followed the man up onto the deck where he jumped off the boat and into the sea. Ash watched in horror as the man struggled to stay afloat upon the now clashing waves. Ash saw that a storm was rolling in and the back to the mysterious man as he lost his battle with the sea.
“Misty?” Ash called out noticing that Misty was not with him. He ran back to where he was last with her but didn’t make it far. He found Misty struggling halfway up the last flight of stairs with Infernape at her side.
“Why aren’t you sick?” Misty asked when Ash came up to her. Ash noticed she was sweating profusely and caught her before she collapsed onto the floor. Misty kept eye contact with him, obviously wanting an answer. He recalled Infernape after a thankful nod.
“I am immune.” Ash explained sadly as he struggled to cradle her upright. “This is my fault. I‘m sorry.”
“No, no… I just need some rest. I‘ll be okay. I‘ll… be…” Misty passed out in his arms.
“Misty…?” He shook her lightly. When she didn’t respond he felt her pulse on her wrist. It was still strong but seemed too relaxed. He lifted her up into his arms and carried her back down into the ship. He ran down the hallways and looked in every room until he found a small nurse’s room. He laid her out on the paper covered table and began rummaging through the cabinets for anything that could help. It appeared that Team Rocket had already scavenged the entire ship for spoils and that also meant that this room was no exception. Ash sighed in defeat and looked back at Misty who seemed to be fading in and out of consciousness.
“Hey, Twerp.” Meowth’s voice broke the silence behind Ash and he spun around to face him.
“What do you want?” Ash growled.
“I don’t want ta hurt ya. I just want ya ta give her dis.” He handed Ash a corked glass vial with a strange purple liquid in it. Ash eyed it curiously. “Make her drink dat and she will be fine until ya get her to a docta.”
“Why are you helping us?”
“Look, kid, I don’t have time ta tell ya all da little details. I tied up da rocket thugs and threw dem in da brig. I released da passengas and crew as well. I am goin at high tail it outta here while I still can and YOU need to get her to a docta! That vial will buy ya some time.”
“Thank you, Meowth.” Meowth turned to leave the room. “Wait. Why didn’t you leave Team Rocket with Jessie and James? You don’t belong here either.”
“Dere needs ta be good guys on both sides, kid.” He said solemnly. “Tell Jessie and James I said hi.” He waved and walked away.
Ash stood for a moment looking at the vial. He pulled the cork out and went over to Misty.
“Hey, Misty…” He lifted her up in one arm and sat next to her on the table. She barely opened her eyes but she mumbled something like a response. “Drink this. It’ll help you.” He brought the vial to her mouth and she drank it slowly.
“Ugh… tastes terrible.” She seemed to perk up but still looked very ill. She sat up on her own and Ash held her up with his arm.
“Can you walk okay?” He slid off the table and held her arm to support her as she began to join him on the floor.
“Yeah, I can walk.” She would have lost her balance had it not been for Ash. “Maybe not…”
“It‘s alright.” He smiled and pulled her arm around his neck and brought his free hand to her waist. “I can be your legs for now.” Their faces were closer than they had ever been as he made his way back up to the deck. Ash felt her face suddenly heat up he knew she knew it. They didn’t say a word as they awkwardly made their way back up to the deck.
Why is her face so warm all of a sudden? Misty is tough but she acts so strange around me when we get too close. Is it because we are basically adults and it is inappropriate or does she…
Ash looked to Misty for an answer and their eyes met for a moment. She looked away almost immediately and she stared ahead trying her best to keep herself from blushing again. She failed as a lighter blush broke it‘s way to the surface of her cheeks.
That explains a lot…
Ash smirked a little and took the last few steps before reaching the main deck. He headed in the direction of the lower deck but was stopped halfway by the Captain of the St. Anne.
“You there, sir! Are you the one who saved us?” The captain asked him.
“I only helped. So, I can’t take all the credit.” He smiled. “If you don’t mind, I really have to get my friend here to the city. She needs medical attention right away and we can’t wait for the ship to reach shore.”
“Of course!” Ash nodded and turned to continue on over to and down the stairs to the lower deck. “Wait! What is your name, sir?”
“My name is Ash Ketchum. I’ll see you in Vermillion City.” He whistled for his Lapras and in a flash the Pokemon came to his aide. Ash adjusted to carry Misty on his back and they climbed down to Lapras who waited patiently for his Master. Misty clutched onto his neck for dear life as they carefully made their decent.
“There is a storm coming! Be careful!” The captain called out as he watched them disappear as quickly as the Lapras appeared. Never in his life had he seen a Pokemon move so fast at sea.
~~~~~The Next Day~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Misty woke when she could feel the sunlight on her cheeks. It would have been more pleasant to wake to if her head wasn’t pounding. She sat up slowly and shielded her eyes from the light. She looked around in what looked to be a hospital room.
The blinds were open letting the beautifully sunny day into the dark room but Misty didn’t feel like welcoming it. She grunted irritably and rubbed her temples hoping to ward off some of the pain. She felt movement at the end of her bed and squinted to see Ash sitting up in his chair. He had apparently fallen asleep watching over her. Misty’s heart skipped a beat when she realized what he had gone through to get her here safely the night before.
“Morning.” Ash yawned and got up to close the blinds a bit. He left them slightly open to let in some natural light. “How are you feeling?” He scooted the chair up by her side and sat.
“My head hurts but I am fine thanks to you.” She smiled finally able to say something without hesitating.
“I‘m glad but I had some help so I can‘t take all the credit.”
“Was it Meowth? I think I remember him giving you something.”
“Yeah, Meowth helped me out a lot. That stuff he gave me for the poison helped you to survive a few hours longer than you would have. He even let the ship’s crew and passengers free and threw the sleeping Rocket grunts into the brig. “
“Where is he?”
“Probably with the Rocket boss by now.”
“Why did he stay with Team Rocket? Jessie and James left so why didn‘t he leave with them?”
“I asked him that. He said that there needs to be good guys on both sides.”
“Poor Meowth…” Misty sighed.
“Well, it’s his decision.”
“No wonder Jessie and James haven’t brought him up yet.”
“That reminds me,” Misty began and looked to Ash curiously. “Where is Pikachu?”
“Pikachu?” Ash smiled sheepishly. “Well, Pikachu sort of took a break.”
“I am actually going to check up on him when I get to Nashwa.”
“What kind of a break?”
“You’ll see.” Ash winked and Misty looked at him in confusion. A knock was heard at the door and a nurse entered with a bright smile on her face.
“Miss Waterflower it is so great to see you awake. Do you feel well?” The nurse asked and began checking the machines that were hooked up to Misty overnight.
“Yes, I am fine except for this massive headache.” Misty responded.
“We can give you some medicine for that but it looks like everything check out alright here. Could I just have one final look at you before we sign the release papers?” She leaned over with a stethoscope and Misty nodded in agreement. The nurse leaned over and listened to Misty’s heartbeat from all angles, asking her to breath deeply each time. Ash looked away when she asked Misty to lift her shirt a little; he didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable. “You are good to go!” The nurse announced after she checked Misty’s eyes and handed over clipboard she had been holding. Misty signed the release papers and proceeded to view the attached bill but Ash snatched the clipboard from her and smiled.
“Thank you so much for taking good care of my friend.” Ash said as he stood up and handed the clipboard to the nurse.
“You take care of yourselves now.” The nurse said and left the room.
“Ready to go?” Ash asked Misty and she eyed him carefully. “What?”
“What was that all about?” She asked as she uncovered herself and threw her legs over the other side of the bed. Misty was still wearing the clothes from the night before. She found her shoes at her bedside and started to put them on.
“What do you mean?”
“You know exactly what I mean.” Misty grunted and got up to her feet slowly. She turned to face him. “Why did you snatch away that clipboard so fast?”
“I did?” Ash asked. “Oh, well… you know. I didn’t want you to worry about the bill. I took care of it. It’s no big deal.”
“It seemed like it was.”
“I didn’t want you to see it. I worried that it would make you upset.”
“Why would it make me upset?”
“I don’t know, Mist. You’ve been acting so strange around me lately I didn’t know what to think.” Ash said and his face looked a little flushed. “It was my fault anyway for asking you to come along.”
“Well, even if you told me not to go I still would have.” Misty stumbled with her words. “Speaking of strange-how are you immune to a Pokemon’s poison attack? You never used to be.”
“I can’t tell you.” He said hesitantly.
“I just can’t.”
“How can I trust someone who will ask me to go with them on dangerous missions but won’t tell me how they are immune to something like that?”
“I don’t know…”
“You know, I must be stupid to go away with someone I barely know.” She huffed and crossed her arms.
“What?!” Ash exclaimed.
“I don’t know you anymore, Ash Ketchum. I don’t know what happened to you while you were gone but I can’t risk my life for someone who pretends to be my friend. Friends don‘t keep secrets from each other!” She turned to leave and was about to open the door when Ash grabbed her arm gently.
“I know you’re mad at me.” Misty stopped and listened. “I always make you mad but for some reason you stick around. If you tell me why then I will tell you how I became immune to poison.” Her heart stopped.
“I guess that’s fair.” Misty turned to face him. “It was never about the bike.”
“Yeah, I know.” He smiled and looked her in the eyes.
“The problem is that I just don’t know how to put it into words.” She avoided his gaze and fought back a blush that they both ignored.
“Tell you what,” Ash said and Misty looked at him timidly. “When you find the words we can revisit this issue. Until then, can we call a truce?” He held his hand out to her.
“Of course.” She smiled and took his hand in a friendly shake. “I never thanked you for being my friend, Ash.”
“You being my friend in return is all the thanks I need, Misty.” They released their handshake. “Let‘s get something to eat. What do you say?” He opened the door for her and she nodded. He followed her out of the hospital to meet up with their friends.