title: The Tide that Binds
paring: Palletshipping (GaryxAsh)
rating: PG-13 (sensual moments, no sexual activity)
genre: anime/slight manga (between end of Johto and beginning of Hoenn, mentions Gary's Sister though she isn't brought up at all during the show)
Comments: I'm new, so please don't completely bite my head off. Honesty is appreciated, but I don't have a lot of experience writing things like this yet. Creative criticism is always welcome. I believe besides a few puntuational errors I might not be wholly aware of, it should be ok. Oh and things written in between hyphens are -thoughts-.
Gary closed his eyes as he laid back on the blanket. The warm sun beaming down on him, the light breeze caressing his skin, the sound of the waves crashing. The Johto League Tournament had stressed him out more than he'd care to admit. Staring out into the sea, Gary was thinking of sitting here in the sand. Where so many years ago he sat with Squirtle before heading out. Wondering where his life would lead him, where his journey would take him, and if he could truly achieve his dreams. At least, his dreams at that point in time.
Gary always knew that his life would be one of balance. He opened his eyes to the sky as he clutched the yellow and green yin-yang pendant that was always around his neck. The good and the bad, the positive and the negative, compliments and criticism, love and hate, creation and destruction, the light...and the dark.
Suddenly he sat up quickly. He'd almost forgotten, he'd brought Blastoise with him to the beach for a reason: exercise.
"Come on out, my old friend!" Gary said with a quiet enthusiasm, as he tossed Blastoise's pokeball a few feet into the air in front of him. The serene calm was slightly broken with this sudden spark of energy.
"Blaaaassss....tooooise!" The shellfish pokemon happily exclaimed upon realizing where it was.
"Why don't you go for a swim Blastoise? It's been a while since we were near the ocean."
Gary didn't have to say much more, Blastoise tore off into the sea faster than one might expect from a tortoise pokemon. Gary laughed a bit to himself at this.
-Grandpa's Lab has a nice Water Zone, but nothing compares to the open ocean. Ever since that first night together where I taught Squirtle how to swim in the sea.- He thought to himself with a grin, as he heard the large splash Blastoise made as it dove into the water.
As he laid back on the blanket he resumed his thoughts.
-I caught a wide variety of Pokemon, I raised them all evenly, I always had a lot of varied types on hand. So how did someone like Ash beat me?-
The thought of his friend and rival causes a slight shudder in Gary's body, as if a stiff wind blew over him, but everything had resumed it's calm after Blastoise's release.
It was almost obsessive, ever since he left Pallet, he never left an area until he caught every species that lived there. He moved at a brisk pace, spending an even amount of his time training and another half of eating and leisurely time. He wanted his pokemon to be in tip-top shape, he didn't want them to become lazy and unfocused, but he didn't want them to be cold and harsh towards him either.
He wondered if becoming a Pokemon Researcher was such a good decision. If he had done what he thought was right so far, and it didn't make a difference, then what now? His grandfather was so respected, how could he ever compare to such a man? Is he following his grandfather's footsteps merely because it's expected of him, or does he really want it...What does he really want?
Gary had floated into a slight meditation the sudden disturbance caused him to jolt up fast. It was Ash, Gary heard he'd come home as well, Gary had send Ash an e-mail about meeting at the beach today. Ash, being Ash, was typically late so Gary didn't think he was showing up at all.
"Sorry I'm late, my mom made a big breakfast and I got a little distracted"
He noticed Ash's Pikachu was nowhere to be seen.
"Where's that little electric rodent you carry around? I thought you two were inseparable." Gary said with a little sneer.
"Oh my mom took Pikachu to the Viridian City Marketplace, she said there was some new Berry Cakes and wanted to take Pikachu along to figure out which ones to get."
Gary wondered about his sudden snide remark to Ash. Why did he feel, even now, to be unfriendly to Ash?
"Whew, it's hot out here isn't it?" Ash said as he put down his backpack and gear.
"Yeah it is, I let Blastoise out for a swim on such a hot da.."
Gary had turned out to the sea to motion where Blastoise was, but as he looked back Ash was loosening his belt buckle and began to remove his pants.
"Huh? Oh I put my bathing suit on under all this, I should've just showed up with it on. But I dunno, force of habit." Ash said, as if this were an everyday occurrence.
"Oh.." Gary said
Gary brought his knees up to his face and put his chin between them. He wrapped his arms around them as he adopted a withdrawn pose.
"What's the matter? You seem more quiet than what I'm used to." Ash said, still taking off his shirt.
"Nothing, just got...cold all of a sudden." Gary said with his eyes on the horizon.
Ash began to lay out his beach blanket next to Gary.
"Oh really? I'm just melting out here. Forgot about this Pallet weather, we get every color temperature possible and today we got red hot!"
Gary snorted at the lame joke. He relaxed his legs out in front of him as Ash sat down near him. Gary kept his eyes forward and didn't seem to want to look at Ash at all. There was a bit of a pause while Ash put on some suntan lotion and they listened to the Wingull cries a few feet away on the sea wall.
"What happened to Brock and Misty?"
"Oh they went back to Pewter and Cerulean City. Brock had to check on his family and Misty's sisters needed her to watch the Gym while they went on a cruise."
Gary thought back to his battle with Lily, her Seaking's Horn Attack being deflected by Wartortle's Rapid Spin. Then using a Skull Bash to finish it off. The battle was so easy, and he didn't realize it at the time but he got so little enjoyment out of it.
"How's Daisy?" Ash asked.
"Misty's Sister?" said Gary coming out of his daydream.
"No silly, your sister."
"Oh, she's fine. Her job helping Grandpa at the Lab keeps her busy." Gary blushed when Ash laughed as he called him 'silly'.
There was a bit of a dubious silence, as the two boys looked out as it started to get a little cloudier. Gary laid back while Ash stayed sitting up. The wind whistled in Gary's ears but he couldn't hear it over the sound of his heart beating out of his chest. He wanted Ash's back rise and lower rhythmically with his breathing.
"Hey wanna know something?" Ash spun around suddenly and asked.
"Uhh, what?" Gary said as he closed his eyes and tried to think of other things.
"I'm going to the Hoenn region next!" Ash said with a smile.
Gary heard about the Hoenn region, not as dangerous as the Orre region of course, but with it's own problems. Team Aqua and Magma were always in the news attacking certain places with one purpose in mind. To expand the sea and land. He wonder if Ash knew with the region having such a reputation that it probably wouldn't be as safe as his previous journeys. Though he realized he was not Ash's mother and kept mum.
"That's cool." Gary said unemotionally.
"It's just, battling you in such an all-out-way really changed me, y'know?"
Gary kept silent, but felt similar. Ash continued excitedly
"I mean, when your Eevee beat Pikachu that's when I knew. Though I was more powerful than before, I wasn't trying hard enough. So I really tried hard, and I thought about you a lot..."
Gary started to sweat a little bit.
"..thinking about what you'd do in this situation. Knowing that you wouldn't back down, wouldn't give up, that you would find a way to win. I realized, it was good having you around, you helped me so much without doing a thing."
Gary turned over and laid on his stomach, he laid his head down in the opposite direction of Ash and closed his eyes.
"Did I say something wrong?" Ash said with a twinge of worry in his voice.
"No Ash, I feel the same way really. The sun isn't going to be around much longer and I've been meaning to catch some rays."
"Oh...alright" Ash laid down and put his hands behind his head. For the briefest of moments Ash's elbow brushed against the back of Gary's neck. Gary pretended not to notice as he tried to keep his blood from running hot and cold at once.
The sun had moved in the sky a little bit before Ash said something else.
"Gary?" Ash said quietly.
"..Yeah?" Gary woke up without a movement or a sound from a quiet sleep.
"Your back's a little red."
Gary's heart rate increased dramatically.
"Want me to put a little balm on it? My mom packed it in case I didn't put enough sunscreen on."
"Ummm...sure." Gary said with a little shake in his voice, he struggled to regain his composure.
Gary felt the cold liquid hit his back, then right afterward felt Ash's smooth hands rub the affected area. He didn't realize it until Ash had touched it, but his skin actually hurt a lot. Ash changed movements appropriately, and was very gentle but precise.
"I had to do this for Charizard on the Orange Islands when it was injured in a battle." Ash said to break the silence.
"Oh?" said Gary, trying not to moan.
"All set!" Ash said as he wiped his hands on his shorts.
Gary turned over and sat up.
"How do you feel?" Ash asked.
"Just fine." Gary said, now looking into Ash's eyes.
"That's...good." Ash said, his voice dropping volume ever-so-slightly. He continued to look at Gary, watching him but not doing anything else.
"How did you get this?"
Gary motioned towards a cut on Ash's upper shoulder between it and his neck, he leaned in and put his hand on Ash's shoulder to get a better look.
"Oh just a tree branch, I think, I've fallen down so many holes I can't remember." Ash wasn't making a joke but they both laughed.
As he was moving away, the back of Gary's hand brushed Ash's neck and chin. It was a quick, fluid motion so Ash barely noticed.
Gary grabbed his backpack and went fishing for something through his discarded clothes, he found the rusted bottom half of the pokeball they both found together some time ago.
After Ash saw it he immediately moved to his bag to get his half of it, Gary took a quick look at Ash's rear, which was clearly visible through the suit's thin material. Ash sat back down with his half and motioned they put them together.
"As long as we each have our half..." Ash began.
"We'll always be complete..." Gary finished.
Locking the two pieces together in their hand, they studied each other for a moment. Unsure of what to do next. One of Gary's fingers began to subtly touch one of Ash's. Ash began to blush slightly, taking in air suddenly, as his breathing became suddenly more erratic as he tried to keep quiet. Gary leaned in towards Ash's sun-sweat face, feeling the coarse grains of sand on Ash's finger, the fading sunlight on his face, the wind blowing through his hair...
"Bllllllaaaaaasssstooooooiiiiisssseeee" the sound of Gary's pokemon cut through the windy calm as it's two Hydro Cannons fired a shower of water onto Gary and Ash.
They both laughed as they lept up and called for it to stop.
"Blastoise, I know you're happy to be back at the beach but c'mon!" Gary said as he laughed.
Gary and Ash looked at each other and laughed. The cold water had washed off all the sand and cooled them both off, in more ways than one. They looked at each other all damp and tanned from the sun. They grabbed their now wet towels in an attempt to try themselves off.
"Guess we'd better get going, sun's going down" Gary said
"Yeah, guess so." Ash replied.
As they gathered up their things Gary threw his shirt back on and put his things away. Ash didn't bring as much so he didn't have as much to pack.
"Ready to get going?" Ash said.
"Sure, right behind you." Gary said "Return, Blastoise!"
Ash stumbled back towards Pallet and Gary took a look at his that was both long and yet brief. He didn't know if he'd see Ash again, or why their last battle had unhinged something in him, and shook up his natural balance. What was so special about this kid? What did he to do him that made him act the way he did? He knew he was always self-assured, and Ash was pure but naive. Why did this little loser keep shaking him up and ruining his calm?
What was both alluring, and at the same time disarming, about him...that always had Gary on the defensive, until recently?
Then he realized.
Even if he was no longer a Trainer. Even though he and Ash would never run into each other along the way. Even though Gary himself, was actually quite a balanced individual on his own...
He realized he had to be dark, to compliment Ash's light.
"C'mon Gary, let's go!"
"I'm coming, I'm coming..."