Ash looked down at the trail before him. The road through the forest was strewn with stones, and as the sky above him turned to navy blue, he kicked one of the small rocks out of the way. Many kilometers remained between him and the next city. While his head slowly nodded, Ash's arms were slumped by his side.
Behind the young Ketchum, following the footsteps in the dust, Misty walked. Her eyes were beginning to droop from staring into the darkening horizon. Reaching her left hand up to her ears, she touched them, and found that they were quite cold. Quietly breathing as she went along, the young woman glanced up at the trees, and saw the setting sun turning the green leaves to drab black and dull gray.
Brock was walking just to the right of Misty. His eyes were cast on the terrain off to the side of the road. The former gym leader just then sighted a stream flowing underneath the wall of trees. Shrugging, he looked back at the path in front of him.
"Look, guys," Ash said huskily, "I've had enough for today. Let's pack it up by the roadside." The aspiring trainer checked the ground for the stone that he had kicked, but he did not see the little menace. Not bothering to smile, he walked into the thin grass, towards a long, flat log that was lying in the field, and sat down on it. Exhaling dramatically, he hoisted his pack of supplies off his shoulders.
Sighing, Misty said, "Agreed. Like always, I'll set up the tent." Cautiously rubbing her eyes, she walked over to her friend, and took a gray metal pole from his pack. "Brock," she said, turning around and kneeling down on the cold, dry ground, "If you're still up for it, see if you can find some quality wood for us. We'll be waiting right here." Grimacing, she walked a few meters away, hunched over, and thrust the pointed end of the pole into the soil.
Brock smiled casually. "Yes, mistress," he said lightly, "I'll fetch the wood for your fire. ...Anyway, it'll be just a few minutes." Shrugging, he walked into the thicket of trees, his eyes gazing upwards.
As Brock disappeared from sight, Ash turned his face towards Misty. "Today, you said something," he said, all the while taking two white rocks from the ground, "I think it went, 'If you want to love someone, you've got to show a little force.' You really think that's true?" He placed the rocks on a barren stretch of soil, clicking them together once they were resting on the ground. That accomplished, he picked up two more rocks, and sat back down.
Misty pulled another tent pole from Ash's open pack. Casually looking into his eyes, she held the pole in both of her hands and said, "Well, that's what we had to do with Butterfree. He wasn't strong enough for that female Butterfree, and all of us wanted to encourage him. Do you think they would have stuck together if he hadn't tried?" Taking a quick breath, the young woman walked two meters away from her first tent pole, and drove the second one into the ground.
"I dunno," Ash said calmly, as he placed his new rocks down beside the first two, "She was eventually happy 'cause he tried to free her... but my Butterfree didn't force the other one's love. Oh, heck, he wasn't really even *my* Butterfree. I guess they just sort of met, and love happened." Sighing, he checked his growing circle of rocks to see if it was large enough.
Standing up, for the two poles were now anchored in place, Misty walked back towards Ash. "So..." she said falteringly, "Do you think they'll stay together? Couldn't our Butterfree's mate just reject him again?" Looking at the ground, she sat down on the log, scowling.
Ash laughed for a second. "How should I know?" he asked, "Maybe, maybe not. If they wanted to get out, yeah, they could. But if the Butterfrees want to stay in love, I guess there's a chance they'll stick together. I could be wrong, but I think that's the way it goes." For a moment, he looked at his right hand, and saw that it was dirty from handling the rocks. Placing that thought aside, he extended his right arm towards Misty, and did not say a word.
Misty put he left hand on her chin. "I guess I think so, too," she whispered. Without another word, she put her left hand in Ash's.
Of course, "Pokemon" is copyright 1995-8 Nintendo, 4Kids Productions, Game Freak, and others. This fanfic was written by John Alan Riggs (better known as Alan or I.N.T.O.), and completed on November 11, 1998.