Hello there. It's been quite a while since I've published anything about Pokeshipping. As most of you know by now, I'm not obsessive about Pokeshipping anymore, but I finally finished this one-shot I started... a long time ago. It's just Misty's thoughts about herself, Ash, and their journey together, as well as events after that. It kind of sums up all my thoughts about Misty during my time as an obsessive Pokeshipper. I'll talk about how I feel about it later; wouldn't want to influence reader opinion. You may have to take it parts, as it's long... Oh, and I did have one request: if you start it and don't like it, please at least read the last page or so. That's where I make my big super-special-awesome point. Anyway, without further ado...
“...‘Cause you’re the light that makes me shine,
you’re the hero in my eyes, win or lose, do or die...”
“The Extra Mile”
I always believed that there were two kinds of people in the world: those who shine with a light of their own, and those who can only reflect the light of others. And all my life, I wanted to be in the first group. Of course I did. No one wants to live in someone else’s shadow. But that’s what I did, for a long time. My three older sisters seemed so much prettier and more talented than me, and they got all the attention. And they were always reminding me of it. They were the beautiful “Waterflowers of Cerulean City,” and I was the runt. Looking back on it, I guess I had a little of an inferiority complex, though I didn’t realize it at the time. At the time, I just told myself that it wasn’t important to be pretty or popular. My sisters were shallow, why should I be jealous of them? I had my own light, something I could beat them at. Something more important than silky hair and a curvy figure. And that was Pokemon. Water Pokemon. No matter how beautiful my sisters were, they were absolutely hopeless as trainers. How they qualified as gym leaders I’ll never know. They literally gave away our badges.
I, on the other hand... well, ok, so it’s not like I was the best trainer in the world, but I was pretty good. And I was gonna make sure my sisters knew it. I was sick of them treating me like a kid, like I couldn’t compare to them. So I trained hard and developed my talent. I was sure my sisters would be at least a little jealous. But I guess I was hoping for too much, because they were completely indifferent. It was like training didn’t matter at all to them. I mean, I knew my sisters loved their Pokemon, but they preferred using them in their silly water ballets. Battling was much too rough and unladylike. So instead of proving myself to my sisters, I had just given them one more thing to tease me about. Now I was a tomboy as well as a runt. I probably don’t have to tell you I was furious. It was like nothing I did mattered, and I was sick of them looking down on me. To sum it up, I had had enough.
So I did what any normal ten year old girl would have done- I ran away from home. Sorta. It wasn’t like my sisters didn’t know I was leaving. They were perfectly fine with it (which bugged me even more). But if I was gonna prove myself to them, I had to become the best water Pokemon trainer I could possibly be, and that meant I needed experience outside the gym. I left in a huff, telling my sisters that I wasn’t coming back until I was a water Pokemon master. I’d become famous, and then they’d have to acknowledge me.
At least, that was the plan. But by afternoon of my first day on my own, I was hungry, tired, and starting to wonder if maybe leaving home wasn’t such a good idea after all. It was too late to go back now, though. I had made such a big deal of leaving, and my sisters would never let me hear the end of it if I came crawling home after just one day. That would only prove that they were right, that I really was still just a kid. And I was way too proud to admit that.
So I sucked it up and decided to keep going. But first I needed a little rest. I had ridden my bike nonstop from Cerulean to the outskirts of Viridian City, and I was exhausted. So I found a nice spot on Viridian’s cool, green riverbank and sat down to eat the lunch I had packed. Then I decided it was time for a little relaxation. Fishing had always been able to cheer me up, so I took out my rod and cast a line.
Isn’t it funny how you never expect the moments that end up changing your life? They come out of nowhere and knock you off your feet. Here I was, a ten year old girl who had just “run away” from home, independent and making her own decisions for the first time in her life. I thought that was what was supposed to change my life. And I guess it did, in a way. I mean, if I hadn’t run away, I wouldn’t have been sitting on the riverbank in the first place, and what happened next never would’ve occurred. And then where would I be? I’d probably be that same, self-centered girl with an inferiority complex, still confused, still trying to find my place in the world. But fortunately, I did run away from home, and I did sit down on the riverbank that day. I had been fishing for about half an hour, and I wasn’t having much luck. And then it happened- I hooked a big one. I was sure it was a Seaking or a Poliwag. Boy was I ever wrong
What I had caught wasn’t a Pokemon at all, but a kid- a weird, lost, dripping wet kid. With a Pikachu. That’s what got my attention.( Hey, I may specialize in water Pokemon, but I love all types. Except for bugs. They’re just creepy.) Anyway, this Pikachu was badly injured, and it made me really angry at this kid. I thought he must be a real jerk to let his Pokemon get in that kind of shape. I was already having a bad day, so I really let him have it. I slapped him hard across the face and told him exactly what I thought. He didn’t get mad or argue, though. Actually, he seemed kind of confused. So I took pity on him and pointed him in the direction of the nearest Pokemon center. I thought that was the end of it.
And it would’ve been, if that weird kid hadn’t high-jacked my bike. He said he’d bring it back, but I didn’t believe him. Yeah, yeah, I knew he had to get his Pikachu to the Pokemon Center, but I really needed that bike It was just a hand-me-down, but it sure beat walking. There was no way I was gonna lose it that easily. I followed the thief, determined to get my bike back. But it was hard to catch up on foot. And when I finally did catch up, there was no kid and no Pikachu, just the crispy remains of what had once been my bike. To this day, I have no idea what happened, but it was absolutely destroyed. I don’t think I had ever been so mad at someone in my life. I was so mad that I carried that wreck over a mile to the Pokemon Center, found that kid, and dumped it right in front of him.
I was going to kill him. But, once again, something about him changed my mind. He was really worried about his Pikachu, and I forgot to be angry and worried with him. Pikachu was fine, by the way. That is, until Team Rocket showed up. Ok, so they’re not the biggest threat in the world, but I didn’t know that at the time. I was actually pretty scared. But I was worried about that kid and his Pikachu, and I really felt like I should do something. So I faced Team Rocket by myself. But I guess I kind of panicked, because the first Pokemon I called out was Goldeen. Goldeen can’t even battle out of water, I knew that. I had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t even know why I was doing it. Why was I standing up to these scary people for some weird kid who had just destroyed my bike? Why didn’t I just run and hide like I wanted? There could be only one answer- I had completely lost my mind. But I decided to just go with it, and fortunately, I was able to create a distraction despite my insanity. That gave the kid and his Pikachu time to counterattack Team Rocket. It was the first time I had seen them battle together, and I was amazed. I had no idea that a Pikachu could be so powerful; Team Rocket never even had a chance.
And there was something about that kid, too. He really cared about his Pikachu, and Pikachu was more than willing to battle for him. His name was Ash. Ash told me that he had just come from Pallet Town and was starting his Pokemon journey. His dream was to become a Pokemon Master.
“Naive little brat,” I thought, “he thinks this is gonna be easy.”
As a gym leader, I had seen more than my share of Pokemon Master wannabes. They were all the same- cocky, inexperienced, no sense of reality. This kid was no different. At least, that’s what I thought. But I felt differently. It was only for a moment, but I had glimpsed a very bright light in him. And when he left Viridian, I followed him. I made up some lame excuse about needing my bike replaced, mostly to fool myself, I think. But the truth was, I was curious. I wanted to see where that light would take him. And I think Ash also reminded me a little of myself.
Maybe that’s why he annoyed me so much at first. I wanted to believe that I was the experienced one, but I saw so many similarities between myself and this “newbie.” Ash’s unrealistic optimism was especially irritating. What made him think he was so special, anyway? I was the one whose family owned a gym. He was still just an amateur. And I made sure Ash knew about it, too. We fought a lot in the beginning, with me showing off how knowledgeable I was by correcting him at every turn, and him defending himself. But no matter how much we argued, Ash never once told me to leave. And I stuck with him, even when things got rough.
Somehow, we became friends. But I would never admit it, especially not to myself. I think I was a little jealous of the light I saw in Ash. The more I knew him, the more I saw that his heart was full of love and strength. I had never met anyone who treated Pokemon as anything more than battle partners, but Ash was different. To him, they were friends and equals. He even liked those disgusting bugs Ash always battled his best for his Pokemon, and they fought just as fiercely for him. And if he ever lost a battle, he tried again until he won. Ash kept going no matter how discouraging things got. And he wasn’t even thinking about it He was totally unaware of the light he radiated. It wasn’t fair, I wanted to be like that And I was trying so hard But somehow, I always fell short. Unlike Ash, who thought he could do practically anything, I had little confidence in myself. I didn’t understand how he was able to just... believe. He even had me believing in him.
I didn’t want to. I wanted to convince myself that Ash was nothing special, just an ordinary kid with ordinary talent. I mean, I always cheered for him, and I really did want him to win. But when he lost... Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was happy about it. I felt sorry for him. But I also felt a strange sense of satisfaction. I knew it wasn’t right, but I couldn’t help it. I was torn between my friendship with Ash and my own pride. But then something happened that changed all that.
It was several months after I had started traveling with Ash. The Pewter City gym leader, Brock, had joined us on our journey, and everything was going well. Until we reached Saffron City, that is. Ash learned that the gym leader there, Sabrina, was almost impossible to beat. She was as cold as ice and twice as tough. Ash would have to use type advantage if he wanted to beat her. But there was one problem- Sabrina used Psychic Pokemon, and none of Ash’s Pokemon were strong against them. Then we heard that the next town over, Lavender Town, was full of Ghost Pokemon- perfect for countering Sabrina’s attacks.
So we set out for Lavender Town with high hopes. But when we got there, we encountered another problem- Lavender really was full of Ghost Pokemon. We decided to search Lavender Tower, and freaky things started happening the moment we walked inside. Creepy footsteps, levitating chairs, maniacal laughter that came out of nowhere... Brock and I freaked out. We ran put out and refused to go back in. But Ash, of course, had no common sense whatsoever. He was going to do whatever it took to reach his dream, no matter how crazy and dangerous it was. I was worried about him, but there was no way I was going back inside that creepy place. I would just cheer him on from a distance.
So Ash went on while Brock and I waited. And waited. And waited. And the longer we waited, the more I worried. I tried to ignore it; I tried to remind myself how annoyed I was with Ash for taking so long. But then the weirdest thing happened- I suddenly found myself suspended in midair, and just as suddenly, I was back on the ground (lucky Brock was there to catch me). But as freaky as that was, it didn’t scare me. It was more like... something just felt wrong. I thought I’d heard Ash’s voice for a moment, and I got this overwhelming feeling that something awful had happened to him. I didn’t know how to explain it, I just knew. I told Brock, and we both rushed back inside the tower. I forgot to be afraid of ghosts. But what I found inside was far more terrifying.
There were Ash and Pikachu, lying lifeless on the floor, crushed by a fallen chandelier. My heart stopped. I couldn’t breathe. A cold shock ran down my spine. I needed to get to Ash, but my legs were so shaky I could barely run. It was like everything was happening in slow motion. Brock and I managed to lift the chandelier away, but I don’t remember how. What I do remember is how still Ash was, and how cold his skin felt. I begged him to open his eyes, promised to never tease him again if he would just wake up, but he wouldn’t respond. I was so afraid that his light had been extinguished. And so angry at myself. If I had just stayed with Ash, this wouldn’t have happened, I could’ve done something to stop it. And that wasn’t all. Every memory of every time I’d ever put him down came rushing into my mind. I had treated him so badly. And for what? For pride? Jealousy? It all seemed so stupid now. Ash had become so important to me over the few months I’d known him.
By the time I realized it was happening, it was already too late. I’d fought it and hidden from it, but I couldn’t stop it. I finally had to admit what I’d been denying for so long- I loved him. But it was too late. I’d let my stupid pride get in the way of what was really important, and now Ash was... I wanted to cry out of grief and regret, but it wouldn’t help. Tears couldn’t bring him back. I felt like my heart was being crushed. But then, just when I was about to completely lose it, Ash woke up. He opened his eyes and smiled at me. “Hey, Misty,” he said, as if he hadn’t just almost died. I’d never been more happy to hear my name. A warm sense of relief washed over me. I couldn’t keep my emotions inside anymore- I cried. Ash didn’t make fun of me for it, though. Lucky for him- I would’ve killed him if he had.
But things changed after that day. For me, at least. I was never able to deny my feelings for Ash again. I didn’t want to. I’d almost lost the most precious thing in the world to me, and it was one of the scariest things I’d ever been through. I had nightmares about that day for weeks. I never wanted to experience that again. I’d been given a second chance, and I was not going to waste it. I decided to be the best friend I could be to Ash. I still picked on him a little, but now I made sure he knew that I was rooting for him. And I was always, always with him, no matter how scary things got.
But admitting my feelings for Ash meant admitting a lot of other stuff, too. I had to admit the reason I’d avoided my feelings in the first place- my own inferiority complex. I had to admit that maybe I wasn’t as great as I wanted to believe I was. I had to admit that I had somewhat of a mean streak, and that I’d treated Ash wrong. But facing my shortcomings wasn’t as painful as I’d thought it would be. After fighting my feelings for so long, I was surprised at what a relief it was to just let go. I’d always felt like such a fake before. And I’d never realized how exhausting trying to fool myself could be. It was strange, but I actually felt better about myself when I started being honest. Maybe I had never been that good at fooling myself in the first place. Or maybe I just learned to accept myself in spite of faults.
Whatever the reason, I found it easier to be nice to Ash afterward. Things that had irritated me about him before no longer bothered me. I guess I had given up competing with him. I didn’t feel like I had to outshine him anymore. In fact, I discovered that more than anything else, I wanted to reflect his light. It was strange. I had started this journey because I’d wanted to find my own inner light. And now, here I was, wishing that I could reflect someone else’s light? I’d always thought that the only people who mattered were the ones who could shine on their own. The contradiction was a little confusing. But it didn’t really matter that much. I really did love Ash, more than I had realized. His joy was my joy. I was happy supporting him. I wanted to cheer for him more loudly than anyone else, to be the one person he could always turn to. I wanted to be my best for him. I wanted... to be the moon to his sun. That was all I needed to be happy.
Or so I thought. The more time went by, the more I realized how hard unrequited love could be. I gave everything I had for Ash. I cheered for him, looked out for him- I would’ve followed Ash to the ends of the Earth. I was there for every one of his battles in his first Pokemon League, and when he finally lost. But Ash never seemed to notice my devotion. All he could think about was training even harder for the next League. I’d always thought that I didn’t need anything in return. I’d thought that just being with Ash would be enough. But it really hurt to think that he didn’t return my feelings. It wasn’t like I wasn’t important to Ash. I knew I was... as a friend.
And Ash loved all his friends equally- that was the problem. I wanted to be special to him. Funny how two of the things I loved most about him- his determination and kind nature- were the very things that stood in my way. Sometimes I felt annoyed at Ash for not giving me the attention I gave him. I knew that was ridiculous. He didn’t even realize how special he was to me. I’m sure if he’d known how I felt, he would’ve treated me differently. But I could never tell him. I wanted to, I wanted to know if he felt the same way. It was so unlikely that he did, though. I mean, this was Ash. Romance was a foreign language to him. “I love you,” wasn’t in his vocabulary. I might as well have told him that I was a space alien. Besides, what would it do to our friendship? Things would become so awkward between us. Being together might be unbearable. No, my friendship with Ash was way too precious to risk losing.
Of course, these were just excuses. The truth was that I was just too afraid of rejection. I didn’t think there was any way Ash could think of me as anything more than a friend, but as long as I kept quiet, there was always that small chance. I couldn’t bear losing that hope. Just thinking about it hurt. So I hid my feelings as best I could. I don’t think I was all that good at it, because I was always getting teased. But Ash was way too dense to ever catch on, that was what mattered. And it wasn’t so bad, this silent love. Being a romantic, I thought my selfless devotion was kind of noble. After all, wasn’t unrequited love the truest kind; always giving, never asking anything in return? I thought so. I never questioned my dedication to Ash, never thought of leaving him.
Well, almost never. There was one time I wavered. It was when Ash was going after the Orange League Championship. Brock wasn’t with us, but we had made a new friend in Tracey Sketchit. We were lucky to have him, too. Tracey was a native of the Orange Islands and knew much more about the Orange League than we did. The gyms were spread out among the islands of the Orange Archipelago, and we used a Lapras Ash had befriended for transport. I loved the tropical climate and being near the sea (and the variety of water Pokemon that lived there). The weather was perfect that day. It was sunny and the water was calm, and there was a nice breeze to keep us cool. Ash was way too excited about going after his third badge to notice the weather, though. I was looking forward to seeing him battle, but I was mostly just along for the ride.
Or so I thought. As we neared the island, we spotted a little girl and her Seal caught up in the rough waves. Now, Ash was usually the one who did the rescuing, but water was my territory. I immediately called out Staryu and dove in after the girl. I quickly caught her and pulled her to safety. Ash helped her onto Lapras’ and together we sailed to shore. We were greeted by the girl’s brother, who had seen the whole thing. He was grateful. Very grateful. His name was Rudy, and he was Trovita Island’s gym leader. Only... he didn’t seem very interested in battling with Ash. He was much more interested in me.
As soon as we landed, Rudy took my hand and pulled me into a dance. He gave me flowers and told me I was beautiful. I was a little embarrassed, but also kind of happy. Ok, I was ecstatic. Hey, it’s really exciting to get romanced by a cute guy! Ash was mad that Rudy was ignoring his request, for a battle, but I was loving all the attention. Over the course of the day, I let Rudy shower me with flowers and gifts. He told me that my eyes were like diamonds (but more beautiful), and he couldn’t take his own off me. Ash wasn’t as pleased with the situation as I was, though. He was jealous. But not over me, oh no. He just couldn’t stand that he wasn’t the center of attention. Ok, so Ash was trying to win a badge, and maybe Rudy should’ve been watching his progress. But you can’t really blame the poor guy. And anyway, Ash was always trying to win a badge. I was happy to be the center of attention for once.
Rudy invited me to dinner that night, and of course, I accepted. The food was delicious (can you believe this guy could cook, too?), but Rudy and I weren’t alone. His little sister, Mari, ate with us. I didn’t mind, though. It may not have been romantic, but Mari was a sweet little girl, and I was glad to talk to her. She seemed a little lonely. She told me that she loved her brother and the other guys at the gym, but she was the only girl there. I said that I could understand how that could be rough.
Then Mari got really excited and told me she had an idea: I could stay with her and Rudy and be her big sister. I didn’t know what to say. I was happy that Mari liked me so much, but I knew I couldn’t stay. I was traveling with Ash, and besides, Mari was just a little girl. It wasn’t really her place to ask. Still... I didn’t want to say no. I didn’t want to disappoint Mari, of course. And I have to admit... I kind of wanted to stay. I mean, I still loved Ash, but being treated like a princess wasn’t bad. I was starting to get used to it. But there was really no point in deciding. It was Rudy’s gym, and he hadn’t invited me. I couldn’t stay, and that was that.
At least, that’s what I thought. After dinner, Rudy asked me to come see his workout studio. He let his Pokemon dance there as part of their training. As a fellow gym leader, I was impressed with the idea. Rudy and I danced, too, and were having a great time, when all of a sudden, he dropped a bomb shell on me. That’s right- he asked me to stay with him. I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. All I could think of was “Well... I don’t know.” I guess Rudy noticed my hesitation, because he told me to think about it and give him my answer the next day.
You know the phrase “I’ll sleep on it?” Well, I have no idea where it came from, because I sure didn’t get any sleep that night. I kept turning thoughts over and over in my mind. The one I loved was Ash, that hadn’t changed. But Rudy made me feel special in a way Ash never had. It was wonderful. I didn’t love him, but I liked him a lot. He was cute, charming, and sensitive, not to mention a great cook. And who knew, maybe I would fall for him eventually. Ash meant the world to me, but I was just a friend to him. A close friend, but a friend nonetheless. And that was probably all I’d ever be. I knew that I should be happy just being with him, but... was that really enough for me? If I left with Ash, I might be passing up a once-in-a-lifetime romance. But could I really say goodbye to him? I felt forced to choose between the one I loved and the one who loved me. Morning came, and I still hadn’t decided.
I hardly spoke during breakfast. Of course, Ash was much too excited about his upcoming gym battle to notice. I guess it was unfair of me to expect him to. After all, he didn’t know what Rudy had asked me, and besides, he’d always been dense. Still, I’d really been hoping that he’d ask me what was wrong. I wanted to tell him. I wanted him to ask me to stay. But I was too afraid he’d just let me go. That should’ve made me realize it, but I didn’t. By the time of the gym battle, I wasn’t even sure who I should cheer for, much less who I wanted to stay with. I was so afraid that I’d make the wrong choice and end up regretting it. But I realized I had to make up my mind fast. Ash was leaving as soon as he had his badge, and then it’d be too late. Finally, I decided to just leave it to fate. I’d stay with whoever won the battle.
That afternoon, Ash and Rudy took their places on the battlefield. It was a small island jutting out of the sea, surrounded by spiky rocks. There was no room for spectators, so Mari, Tracey, and I had to watch from a hot-air balloon. It was a three round battle, and Ash and Rudy had to face each other with the same types of Pokemon. The first round was Pikachu versus Electabuzz. Pikachu fought hard, but Electabuzz hit Pikachu with a powerful Thunder Punch, winning the battle. Mari cheered loudly for Rudy. I, however, remained silent. Mari seemed disappointed that I was so unenthusiastic, but I was too caught up in my own thoughts to get excited..
Besides, if I was really going to leave this to fate, I should try to be indifferent. Ash called out Bulbasaur next, while Rudy chose Exeggutor. Rudy had music played, and his Exeggutor danced in and out of Bulbasaur’s attacks. Exeggutor hit Bulbasaur with an Egg Bomb, and it looked like the match was over. But somehow, Bulbasaur managed a Sleep Powder at the last minute, putting Exeggutor to sleep and taking the round. I exhaled, suddenly realizing that I’d been holding my breath. Why did I feel so relieved? I was impartial, wasn’t I?
For the final round, Ash chose Squirtle, and Rudy chose Starmie. This was it- my future was about to be decided. I was nervous, probably more nervous than Ash. Rudy struck a pose, and dedicated the battle to me, “the girl who had stolen his heart.” But this time, I didn’t like the attention so much. It actually made me feel a little guilty. I didn’t know why I felt that way. But this wasn’t the time to think about that, the battle was starting. Both Squirtle and Starmie started out with Water Gun, but they cancelled each other out. Rudy asked for the music again, and ordered Starmie to spin into a Thunderbolt. I was a little confused; I’d never heard of a water type using an electric attack before. But as Starmie spun faster and faster, I could see the electricity building around it. Squirtle used Withdraw, but it didn’t do much to protect it from the attack. My heart sank. At this rate, Ash was going to lose, and I’d have to- wait... have to? I suddenly remembered that this was still my decision. No one was going to make me stay with Rudy if Ash lost. And with that, I finally knew what my choice was. I’d wanted to stay with Ash all along.
Rudy’s affections were flattering, but they didn’t mean anything to me. It wasn’t his attention I wanted. Everything was so clear now, and I wondered why it had taken me so long to figure it. The relief filled me with a new energy, and I called out to Ash at the top of my voice.
“What are you doing, Ash,” I cried, “only you can bring out Squirtle’s true power!”
Ash stared up at me with this dumb look on his face, like he couldn’t believe I was cheering for him. Then he decided he should defend himself.
“I know that!” he said.
“Do something, then!”
Ash finally turned his attention back to the battle and ordered Squirtle to use Water Gun. The move broke Squirtle out of the Thunder Bolt, but knocked it backward off the platform. This time, it looked like Ash had lost for sure. But at the very last moment, Squirtle used Hydro Pump, a move it had never known before now, to propel itself back into the battle. And it came back with a vengeance. Squirtle used its new attack to turn the tables on Starmie and take the win. I cheered more loudly than anyone else.
As the sun set, we stood on the beach as Rudy presented the Sea Ruby badge to Ash. I knew I had to tell Rudy that I couldn’t stay with him, but I was dreading it. Even though I didn’t love him, he was a nice guy. I really didn’t want to hurt his feelings. But he spared me the trouble. Just as I opened my mouth, he handed me a big bouquet of flowers and told me that he already knew what my decision was. I just thanked him; there was nothing more for me to say. But Rudy wasn’t done. He turned to Ash and told him that he was “A very lucky guy.” I was so afraid that Ash would guess what Rudy meant, but he didn’t of course. Rudy just told him that he would understand someday and left it at that.
I felt a deep sense of contentment as Ash, Tracey, and I sailed away from Valencia. I was still on the high that Rudy’s admiration had given me, and I felt so lucky to be with the one I loved. But everything that had happened with Rudy forced me to notice something that I’d been trying to ignore- I didn’t feel like I was important to Ash. Like I said earlier, I knew he cared about me, but I was just one of many. He was the most important person in the world to me, and I wanted to be just as special in his eyes. I had always told myself that it was ok, that his friendship was enough to make me happy. But it wasn’t. I didn’t want to admit it, but I felt like something was missing. I was completely devoted to Ash, and he didn’t even notice. I think I resented him a little for it. I knew I had no right to feel that way, though. Ash hadn’t asked for my devotion; I’d chosen to follow him all on my own. I’d put my own dreams on hold, and now I felt like the sidekick in what was supposed to be my journey. And I had no one to blame but myself.
Once again, I was confused. I still wanted to be with Ash more than anything else, but living in his shadow wasn’t making me happy. I wouldn’t say I was unhappy, but I just felt... empty, somehow. I didn’t understand. I’d thought that my devotion would make me important to him, and that would’ve been enough for me. But Ash didn’t seem to need me at all. Was it selfish of me to want to feel special again? I knew love wasn’t supposed to ask for anything in return, but... wasn’t it also supposed to bring fulfillment? Something just felt wrong. It bothered me all through our time in the Orange Islands. Ash finally won the Championship, but he wasn’t stopping there, of course. Our next destination was Johto.
It was pretty much the same as the Indigo League- Ash winning badges, and me cheering him on from the sidelines. But then we ended up in the Whirl Islands, where lots of water Pokemon lived. There was even a tournament- the Whirl Cup. I knew immediately that I just had to compete. This tournament was practically made for me, the perfect chance to test my skills. Ash was entering, too, of course, but I didn’t let that bother me. Our friendship was strong enough to handle a little friendly competition.
The Whirl Cup wasn’t like a regular Pokemon League tournament. There were no badges to win, we only had to register. But we still had to travel to the tournament site. It was a short journey, but I learned a lot from it. There were so many new water Pokemon to see. I wanted to catch them all. Maybe that was aiming a little high, but I did catch a Corsola. I worked hard at training all my Pokemon. I participated in a lot of battles with them, and it helped me learn more about their abilities. I really improved as a water Pokemon trainer during that time. Best of all, I didn’t feel like Ash’s side-kick anymore. It felt so good to be a part of the action, instead of just watching him.
Actually, I kind of enjoyed the rivalry with him. There was a new understanding between us, the excitement of the tournament like a secret we shared. I understood why Ash loved competing so much, why he always got so pumped up before a big battle. Maybe it was just me, but I felt like he looked at me a little differently, too. There was a kind of respect between us then that I hadn’t felt before. I know Ash was disappointed when I beat him in our match-up, but I think he was kinda proud of me, too.
I was proud of me. It was wonderful to finally show the world what I was made of and get recognized for my talent. This was what I had run away from home to find. I didn’t win the tournament, but I’d gotten a taste of the thrill of competition. It stayed with me long after the tournament was over. I longed to test myself and become a better trainer. I wanted to see how far my skills could take me. I hadn’t felt that way for so long, not since I’d joined up with Ash. It was exciting to feel that way again, but also very frustrating. I had already made my decision, and that was to stick with Ash no matter what. I had given up on shining my own light so I could reflect his.
At least, I thought I had. I told myself that I couldn’t have it both ways, that I should just forget training on my own because it wasn’t going to happen. But the feeling wouldn’t go away. All through Johto, I missed the excitement and fulfillment I’d felt at the Whirl Cup. I cheered Ash on as loudly as ever, but I couldn’t help feeling a little jealous of him. Every time he had a gym battle, I saw everything I was missing out on. I was back to being the faithful side-kick, and I missed the rivalry we’d shared before.
I never felt that more keenly than when Ash competed in the Johto League Championship. One of his competitors was this girl named Macey, and she was such a pest! She kept hanging around Ash, telling him she wanted to talk about training. It was obvious she had a lot more on her mind, but Ash didn’t notice. For once I was glad he was so dense. Not only was she all over Ash, this Macey dissed water Pokemon, saying they were weak and useless. Needless to say, I did not like her one bit.
But I was also jealous of her. Ash didn’t seem to like Macey the way she liked him, but he was excited about competing against her. I hated to see him notice her like that, even if it was just for her battling skills. And when I saw the two of them together, I felt those old feelings of inferiority creeping up on me again. I wanted Ash to notice me like that. But how could he, when I had relegated myself to the cheering section? Something struck me then that I’d never thought of before- Ash would probably rather be with someone he admired. Not now, not Macey, but someday he was bound to find someone he liked, and I had a bad feeling it wasn’t going to be me.
Fortunately, Ash beat Macey in their battle. But I’d already started to notice the flaw in my thinking. I’d never thought that reflecting someone else’s light was a very glamorous job, but at least it was noble. I thought it was better to support the person I loved than to seek my own glory. After all, didn’t people like Ash need people like me? Didn’t they need a faithful friend to stand behind them? But as good as the idea sounded in my head, I was beginning to see that it didn’t work in reality. I didn’t really feel noble for my unflagging devotion. Actually, I felt kind of pathetic. I didn’t even feel as close to Ash as I wanted to. I felt like I was on the outside looking in, just standing on the side-lines of his life.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be! I’d sacrificed my own dreams for Ash; wasn’t that supposed to make me closer to him than anyone else? That’s when I realized something that I’d been trying to keep from myself- my devotion to Ash wasn’t completely selfless after all. I hadn’t expected him to love me, but I had expected to become special to him. I was embarrassed by my selfishness. But I couldn’t help it. No one wants to have a one-sided love. You always expect something in return.
But I found out that it’s not that easy. There aren’t any guarantees in love, and life isn’t always fair. That was really hard for me to accept. I had chosen what I wanted, made the right sacrifices, but I had nothing to show for it. Well, not nothing. I loved just being with Ash, and I treasured all the memories we shared. We were close friends, and that made me really happy. But at that time, I was feeling dejected. I was starting to think I’d never have Ash’s heart, and I still wasn’t the person I’d wanted to become when I left home. Can you blame me for sulking a little?
Reflecting Ash’s light wasn’t making me happy, but I didn’t think trying to shine on my own would make me happy, either. Even if Ash never loved me back, I still loved him. Even if it hurt, I still wanted to be with him. But I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life chasing an unrequited love. To stay or to go, I didn’t know what I wanted. I think I did know what was best for me, though. Even though I didn’t want to leave Ash, it felt like there was something missing from our friendship. And the calling of my own dreams were louder than ever. As much as I tried to ignore it, something inside told me that things weren’t right the way they were.
I didn’t have to decide anything right away, though. There was plenty of time to figure it out. That was just an excuse, of course. Whatever I decided, it was going to be painful, and I didn’t want to face it. It was much easier to just keep drifting. So I kept putting it off, kept telling myself that I needed more time.