Ack, I forgot to mention here that I'd be on vacation for a week, and thus wouldn't be able to post the last chapter when I said I would. Sorry! But here it is anyway.
A Fairytale Ending
“No!” Shirakiku screamed. “What have you done?!”
She got up and raged toward Ash.
“Now I can never take on another body! When this one dies, I will perish!”
Ash, still on the ground, backed away from Shirakiku’s advance, but there was no chance for escape. Then, out of the corner of his eye, Ash saw Brock rise from among the fallen Team Rocket members.
“Go, Forretress!” He called.
His Pokeball popped open and a giant clam like Pokemon stood before him.
“Forretress! Use your explosion on her!”
Forretress began to glow, and then let out an attack so powerful that it knocked itself unconscious. Shirakiku was taken by surprise and had no time to move. Ash knew he had to act quickly. He got to his feet and pushed Shirakiku out of the way just before the attack hit.
“Ash!” Brock and May called.
Ash cried out in pain as he fell back to the earth. He winced as he rose up on one elbow.
“Brock, what are you doing?!” He cried.
“She’s not Misty anymore, Ash!” Brock replied. “I know she looks like her, but Misty’s gone! There’s no way to get her back! We can’t let Shirakiku get any farther, we have to take her down!”
“No!” Ash yelled fiercely. “No, there has to be another way! Misty wouldn’t give up on of us, so we can’t give up on her!”
“Thank-you for saving me,” Shirakiku said as she drew near Ash. “But do not think that I am going to spare you. However, I will make this quick and painless.”
She knelt beside Ash and locked her hands around his neck, forcing him to his back. Brock and May could only watch in horror, the element of surprise had been lost.
“Really, it is not personal. But I have a premonition that you will be a hindrance to me, and my premonitions are always right. Is there anything you’d like to say before I kill you?”
There was no emotion, neither anger nor hatred nor regret, in her voice. Ash felt hot tears roll down his cheeks, not for himself, but for the friend he had failed. He searched Shirakiku’s eyes for any trace of Misty’s warmth and kindness, but he could not find it.
“Misty . . .” Cried Ash, trying to hold back his sobs. “I’m sorry . . . I’m sorry I couldn’t save you!”
At that moment, something strange started to happen to Shirakiku. It began with a warmth deep inside her body, but it quickly began to become more intense. She tried to look away from Ash’s sincere gaze, for whatever was happening, he was the source. But she could not. Shirakiku did not understand why, but she could not move. Her eyes were locked on Ash’s.
“What are you doing to me?! It burns! It burns!” She screamed.
“I’m not doing anything!” Said a very confused Ash.
Shirakiku felt as if she were burning from the inside out, as though her very soul was on fire. And in a way, it was. Misty’s love for Ash ran so deep that it had become a part of her body as well as her soul, flowing in her veins, penetrating her bones. Shirakiku had suppressed it well so far, but she could not harm Ash. Misty’s pure love welled up inside of her body, love that burned Shirakiku’s dark soul to the core. Ash watched apprehensively as Misty’s body began to glow with black light. Finally, Shirakiku screamed as the light was dispelled into the air.
Misty’s now empty body collapsed onto Ash. He sat up, still holding Misty, and watched as the dark light swirling above him took form. After a moment, the spirit of a beautiful woman descended to the ground. Her dark hair fell past her waste, and she wore a simple yukata. Her eyes were blank, but they still reflected sadness. Ash immediately jerked back, holding Misty close to himself protectively.
“Leave her alone!” He shouted.
But Shirakiku only smiled.
“My orb is gone, I can no longer enter that body.” She said quietly.
“Then what do you want?!” Yelled Ash.
Shirakiku’s long, dark hair floated gently around her as she spoke.
“I only wish to tell you that you have not yet won back that girl’s soul.”
Ash could find no response, and only stared suspiciously at Shirakiku’s fading spirit.
“She has lingered outside of her body for too long, and her soul is lost somewhere between this world and the next.”
Ash still did not trust her.
“Why are you helping us?” He asked.
“I told you, it was not personal. I am a very practical person. I needed a vessel, and your friend provided me with one. Now that I cannot return to that body, it does not matter to me if she takes it back. I do not know how, but you won, and I admit defeat with honor. I will not begrudge you your victory. But I do not have much time left.”
Ash noticed that her spirit was becoming almost invisible, even as she spoke.
“That girl’s body will die if her spirit does not return soon, and then she will be lost forever.”
He was not sure if he could trust Shirakiku, but he knew that she was speaking the truth. Already he could feel Misty’s body growing colder in his arms. He had no choice but to listen to her advice.
“What should I do?!” Ash begged.
“If you want to save her, you must find that which binds the two.”
“What does that mean?!”
“I do not know, it is not the same for every person. It is something that only those who know her best will be able to find. I am sorry, but I cannot remain her any longer.” Shirakiku said.
Her ghostly image faded away to nothing, leaving only air.
“Wait!” Ash cried. “Please, I don’t understand!”
But it was useless. She had disappeared from the world of the living.
“Just what is going on here?!” A woman’s voice yelled harshly.
Ash turned and saw Officer Jenny, backed up by an entire squad of policemen. The young girls who had been captured stood behind them, and they did not look very happy. Team Rocket was even less happy, but they did not try to escape. They knew that there was no getting away. Soon, all of them were put into the backs of police cars and carried back to the station. After the last of them had been safely shipped off and everyone changed back into their normal clothes (and it was established that Brock and May were not members of Team Rocket), Officer Jenny gave Ash and the others a ride back to the Pokemon Center in her patrol car. The mood inside the car was very somber. Everyone was lost in silent thought. Ash held Misty close, trying to warm her chilled body.
“I’m sorry I didn’t believe you earlier.” Said Officer Jenny when they arrived.
“That’s all right.” Ash said, forcing a weak smile. “It was kinda unbelievable.”
“Still, I hope everything works out ok.”
“Thanks.” Said Ash.
After this was said, everyone got out of the car and headed up to the Pokemon Center. They were greeted at the door by Max and Vivi, both very anxious.
“I thought you’d never get back!” Max exclaimed.
Then he noticed Misty’s lifeless body in Ash’s arms.
“What happened?” He asked.
No one answered. They all followed Ash into one of the rooms and watched solemnly as he laid her down on one of the bottom bunks. Brock ran to get some extra blankets, for even though it was warm, Misty’s skin was as cold as ice.
“What happened?” Max repeated.
Finally, Ash told him all that had happened, about Giovanni and Shirakiku and the broken orb. Max nodded, but Vivi seemed confused.
“What’s wrong with Miss Misty?” She sobbed.
No one knew quite what to say to the little girl. She would probably not understand, and it would only upset her more.
“It’s . . . part of the spell, Vivi.” Max said, taking her hand.
“Well, how do you break it?” She asked.
“That’s what we have to figure out.” Brock said.
“Shirakiku said we have to find ‘that which binds the two’. What does that mean?” Ash asked, shaking his head in frustration.
The riddle did not make any sense to him. The answer seemed so close, but he could not find it. And he knew that Misty was running out of time. Her face had become deathly pale, and Ash could not even tell if she was breathing. He was afraid it was already too late . . .
“I know!” Vivi gasped suddenly.
“What is it, Vivi?” Asked May.
“I know how to break the spell!”
“Huh?” Max asked.
“Well, Miss Misty’s a princess, right?”
Everyone except Max looked at Vivi confusedly, having no idea what she was talking about, but wondering where this was going.
“So?” Max said.
“So it’s just like in ‘Snow White’, or ‘Sleeping Beauty’! The only way to break a spell on a princess is true love!” Vivi explained, looking quite pleased with herself for figuring this out.
“What?!” Ash exclaimed.
“She has to be kissed by her true love!” Vivi exclaimed.
Everyone continued to look at her with the same baffled expression. She did not understand why they did not get it, it seemed perfectly obvious to her.
“But we don’t know who Misty’s ‘true love’ is.” Max said finally.
“It’s Ash!” Vivi cried.
“Huh?!” Ash said.
“You’re the boy from the story, aren’t you?!”
The more she talked, the more confusing it got.
“The story Miss Misty told me about the princess and the boy who talked to Pokemon!”
Ash stared at Vivi blankly.
“Ash,” May interrupted, “we haven’t thought of anything else, and there’s not much time. What will it hurt?”
Ash nodded. May was right. It was not much, if there was even the slightest chance that it would work, then it was worth a try. He sat down beside Misty on the bed, and slowly bent close to her. He gently pressed his lips against hers, and hoped against hope that it would somehow bring Misty back. Ash then sat strait up, and watched her closely for any change. But there was none. He choked back a sob as he realized that she was gone, there was nothing more he could do. Ash turned away from Misty. He could not bare to look at her pale face anymore. So he did not see the color returning to her cheeks, or notice her breaths becoming deeper. He did not even see her blink her eyes open, but he did hear her when she spoke.
“. . . Ash?” Misty said weakly.
Ash turned and looked down at her. She looked perfectly normal, if not a little sleepy. It was as though nothing had happened. It did not even occur to Ash what this meant, that he was Misty’s ‘true love’. He was so overwhelmed with disbelief and joy, and all he could do was scoop her up in his arms and cry with relief.
“Misty . . .”
“Ash? What’s going on?” Misty asked, very surprised at this sudden outburst.
She looked around the room and saw that everyone else, even Pikachu, had tears in their eyes.
“What happened? Why is everyone crying?”
“You mean you don’t remember?” Asked Brock.
Ash released her from his tight hug and looked at Misty.
“Your soul was stolen, you were separated from your body.”
Ash and the others nodded.
“I don’t remember any of it.” Misty said. “The last thing I remember was being put to sleep by Haunter. And I had a really weird dream.”
“About what?” May asked.
“I was lost in this mist. It was really cold, and I didn’t know where I was. But then I saw this light, so I followed it, and then I woke up.”
Misty did not know it, but it was no dream. She really had been lost in the mist, in the place between the world of the living and the world of the dead. When Ash kissed her, the love she had for him reacted, giving off a spiritual energy, the beacon of light that had led Misty back home. The love she had for Ash was something her spirit and body shared, and what finally brought them back together. Though no one understood it, it was the answer to the riddle, that which bound the two, body and soul, together.
But Ash was not thinking of why it happened, he was only glad it did.
“How do you feel?” He asked Misty.
“I’m fine.” She answered. “But I am kinda hungry.”
“You’re starting to sound like Ash.” Brock laughed.
But it was about time for lunch anyway, everyone went into the diner to get something to eat.
The first thing Misty did was phone her sisters, who were very glad to see her safe. She explained what had happened to her, but only the parts about being kidnapped. Daisy would have thought she was crazy if she had started talking about ancient legends and sorceresses.
“Like, you should be more careful, Misty.” Daisy said. “I mean, how could you let Team Rocket catch you in the first place?”
“Hey! Don’t make it sound like it was my fault!”
“And like, what’s with the funny clothes?”
Misty looked down at the yukata she still wore and blushed. She was not even sure of that one herself.
“Well, whatever. Just try to stay out of trouble. You like, had us really worried.”
“It’s ok. I’m just glad you’re ok.”
Misty changed out of her odd clothes as soon as she hung up, and then joined her friends at the table. She slid into the booth beside Vivi and across from Ash, who had already started into his food.
“Hey Miss Misty, guess what?” Vivi said eagerly.
“It was me who figured out how to break the spell that was on you!”
Misty did not know exactly what Vivi was talking about, but she decided to play along.
“Really?” She said.
She wondered why Ash looked so nervous. He had stopped eating and was now staring intensely at Vivi.
“Yeah!” Vivi continued, oblivious to Ash’s discomfort. “No one else knew what to do, but I realized that-”
Ash started to panic, and “accidentally” knocked over his water glass, spilling it all over Misty.
“Ash, look at what you did!” She yelled, trying unsuccessfully to dry herself with a napkin.
“Oops, sorry Misty.” Ash said innocently.
He knew he was in for it, but he could not let Vivi reveal his secret.
“You’re gonna be sorry!” Misty retorted, but Ash had already left the table. “Hey, where do you think you’re going?!”
“To get you some more napkins!” Ash called back.
“That was too close.” He thought.
Later, Ash stood lost in thought on the porch while everyone else watched TV. Now that everything was back to normal, it finally dawned on him what had happened. He and Misty were “meant to be” . . . or something. But Ash did not understand; how could he have been that in love with Misty and not even realized it? He had never given much thought to that kind of thing, but had always assumed that he would just know if it happened to him. So what was this? Misty had always just been his friend.
But after what had happened, Ash started to wonder if what he was feeling might be something more than just friendship. And it sort of started to make sense. He thought of Misty a little differently from his other friends. He could not quite say what it was, but the more he thought about it, the more Ash realized that Misty was special. He knew he felt happy, at ease around her more than anyone else. But what about her? Did she realize that she was in love with him? Was she in love with him? Could Misty have been saved if it were unrequited? Ash thought about it for a minute, trying to remember everything that Misty had said and done.
Slowly, the pieces fell into place. All the times she had yelled at him, hit him, degraded him, what was that all about? Ash knew that Misty really cared about him, and in the end, she always supported him, so why did she act like that? What was she trying to hide? And all the times she had denied being in love with him, all those blushes and sideways glances, what was she thinking? Ash began to understand why Misty sometimes got that hurt look in her eye when he said something wrong, and why she always pretended to be angry. He realized how many times he had hurt her, how vehemently he had denied liking her, how he teased her about her looks and her personality, how he had never thought of her feelings. It saddened Ash to think of the countless times he had hurt Misty without even realizing it. How long had she suffered in silence?
“Ash Ketchum, what were you thinking?!”
Ash spun around to find Misty standing in the porch’s sliding door with an angry expression on her face.
“Uh-oh,” he thought, “Vivi must have told her.”
“I can’t believe you!” Misty continued.
“I’m sorry, Misty,” Ash cut in, “but kissing you was the only way I could save you, and-”
“Ash, what are you talking about?” She asked, baffled.
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about the finals of the Pokemon League, I just heard on TV that you missed it! How could you?!”
“Oh, that. It wasn’t very important.”
“What do you mean, it wasn’t very important?! It’s been your dream to become a Pokemon Master ever since I met you!”
“I didn’t mean that it wasn’t important at all, but . . . you’re a lot . . . more important. What if I had won, but lost you? What would it mean? Do you think I would be happy? Besides, I couldn’t have concentrated anyway.”
Misty turned bright red, and she felt her heart start to race.
“Ash . . .” She said, but she quickly remembered that she could not let him see her looking so nervous. “But what were you talking about?!” She yelled, pretending to be angry again.
“Oh, never mind, it’s nothing.” Ash said, sweat-dropping.
“If it’s nothing, then why were you apologizing?!”
Ash, realizing he was backed into a corner, finally gave in and told Misty everything. But she did not react the way he had expected her to, with violence. Instead, she started to cry.
“Misty, I’m really sorry.” Ash said, this time truly concerned.
“No, you’re not the one who should be apologizing.” Misty cried. “I am. I know you don’t feel that way about me, but I couldn’t help it, I love you. But you weren’t supposed to find out!”
Ash was shocked. Even though he had realized it before, it was so different to actually hear it from Misty. And she had suffered. He could not stand to see her cry because of him any longer. He put his arms around her and pulled her close, wondering why he had always been so afraid to do this before.
“Ash, what are you-”
“Misty, I do feel the same way. It took me a long time to figure it out, but I get it now. I’m in love with you. So you don’t have to cry anymore.”
Misty just stood there, taken aback so much that she could not move or even speak. This was what she had waited to hear for so long, but somehow, it felt unreal.
“Ash . . . you don’t mean that, do you?” She finally said, pushing him away. “You just think that it’s destiny or something because of what happened, right? You don’t really feel that way about me. But, you shouldn’t force yourself to be with me just because you think you’re supposed to. ”
“But that’s not it!” Ash yelled. “I mean, sure, that’s what made me think about it, but when I thought about it, I realized that I really do love you! I just didn’t know it until now!”
Misty, still not quite sure, searched his face, looking for a lie. But there was no doubt, Ash was telling the truth. And this time when he hugged her, she returned it. Then they let go and faced each other.
“Do you really think we’re destined to be together?” Ash asked.
“No. I don’t believe in destiny.”
“No. Maybe we were fated to meet, but that’s all. I’m with you because I want to be, not because of destiny.”
Ash smiled at her, surprised by Misty’s words but agreeing all the same.
“You’re right. It’s the same for me.”
After this, they said nothing, for there was really nothing left to say. Ash and Misty leaned against the porch railing and watched the sunset in silence, just enjoying each others’ company. And that was enough.
A few days later, the group set out again. Misty knew she had to return to the gym, but she would at least travel to Hoenn with the others to escort Vivi home. She really wanted to stay, but her sisters had insisted. Besides, it was not so bad now. Misty knew that Ash loved her now, and although she would miss him, she knew he would not forget her. She smiled knowingly when she noticed that Vivi was holding Max’s hand, but not wanting to embarrass Max, she kept quiet.
“Hey Vivi, what was that story you were talking about?” Ash asked suddenly, remembering Vivi’s words.
“I already told you, it’s a secret! Sorry!” Vivi giggled. “Hey Miss Misty, you never did finish the story.”
True, she had figured everything out and knew that it was not just a story, but Misty did not need to know that. She knew this was the only way she could find out what happened between Ash and Misty.
“Whatever happened to the princess and the boy?”
Misty smiled happily and laughed.
“I have a feeling they lived happily ever after!”
Sorry if the end seems little cliched, some have said as much, but I don't think it is. When I first imagined this story, I avoided resolving it with a kiss. But then I threw the little side-story in with Vivi and the fairy-tale. I hadn't intended it to tie back into the main story; it was just something to write about while Misty and Vivi were captured (lazy writing, I know), but somewhere along the way I realized that it fit perfectly. Serendipitous. And I added the explanation for good measure. Tell me what you think (please)!