Adapted by Eji!
Ironically, it was a peaceful time. After several grueling years of being a gym leader, Brock and some of the other leaders were finally going to get their gym achievement awards and were practicing the ceremony in the huge auditorium of the Cinnibar Island PokeCenter. The main presenter of the awards was Professor Oak, and Ash, Misty, and Lana (along with some pokemon and a few acquaintances) sat in the nearby seats to watch the leaders practice.
Prof. Oak was at the podium, along with the awarded leaders sitting in a line behind him. He was apparently silently congratulating himself for being recognized enough to be named the host of such an occasion. The people behind him felt a mixture of boredom and anxiousness, as they waited for Oak to get on with it already. Sitting with them on the stage, Brock made a small goofy face for the amusement of his friends in the audience. Lana giggled, and Ash and Misty smirked.
"Now then, let us begin the practice ceremony," Oak finally stated loudly. "Now, over the past years, maintaining the quality and respectability of the pokemon gyms across this land have been very difficult undertakings " Geez, any more boring, and the audience will fall asleep before they see us get the awards! Brock thought. Oak continued on, but before he could finish his hour-long speech, a ferocious rumbling was heard. Immediately, a huge tremor ripped through the room, causing everyone to jump out of their chairs in surprise. The force of the quake was so strong that the support beams on the sides of the auditorium began crumbling, frightening everyone terribly. People began running for the exits, and most of them made it out safely, except for a select few. Ash and Misty made it to the next room, but stopped when they realized that Brock and Lana were still inside. Just as they turned around, a huge pillar fell down in front of the exit, blocking them off. The others inside made it to the next available exit door, but as Brock ran to it, he also realized that Lana had not left yet. Frantically looking around, he saw that her leg had been caught between some heavy rubble that had collapsed from the ceiling, and she was furiously struggling to free it. He cried out and ran over to her.
"Its stuck!" she yelled out against the crashing of the supports around her, "Brock, just go! Dont stop, or youll be trapped in here!"
He shook his head firmly. "No way!" he yelled, "Im not going to leave you!" He hurriedly bent down, and with all his strength, heaved the rocks off to this side, releasing her leg. "Now," he said, "Weve got to get out of here quickly!"
They ran to the last remaining exit, but just as they did so, a huge beam fell in front of it, nearly crushing them. They quickly turned and ran for the only room left to goa small hallway that led to the back area of the auditorium. Just as they entered the hallway, a huge pile of support structures and concrete fell down upon the opening, trapping them in the small enclosure. Brock had fallen down in the process.
"Oof, ugh. Lana, are you ok?" he said, as he stood up again.
"Yeah, Brock. Thanks," she replied uneasily, looking back at the smokey air coming from the newly closed exit. . "Where are we?"
"I don't know. Never been here before." He said, scratching his head. They looked around and saw one bathroom and a small drinking fountain to the side. Other than that, the area was very small, with a slight amount of light coming from a heavily-tempered, small window that was too high for either of them to reach. "Well, there's no food, and the way back is sealed off."
"Brock, do you think well die?" This question didnt help Brock much. He was visibly shaken. "Lana, I...I'm sorry. I..."
"Its alright, Brock. I know. You didn't mean for this to happen. It's not your fault. Well, you wouldn't be in this mess if you hadnt saved me." Lana sat down quietly as she realized that fact.
"I-I couldnt have just left you there," he said, "Id never leave someone behind when they needed my help."
Brock turned and saw her...and loved and regretted it simultaneously. Lana was a beautiful girl, developed, mature, and with a smile that could make the icecaps melt with its warmth. They had been friends for a while, but he had been depressed slightly in the past because he had made all those advances without much success. True, he had never been shunned away, but from the response he had gotten, it seemed like she wanted him more as a friend than as anything else. After a while, he had tried to accept it, and they became close friends, but his feelings still lingered. He felt a small tightening in his chest, and he sat down, his back turned slightly from Lana. He didnt want her to see his sad face.
As Brock looked out the small window, watching the PokeCenter fall apart by the ensuing quakes, he heard Lanas voice behind him, quietly whispering, "Oh, God. He's suffering and I can't comfort him..." Brocks ears perked up when he heard that. His heart dropped.
He turned to her slowly. "I...I'm sorry. I...I didn't know," he said softly.
"Know what?" she asked, confused.
"You...you have someone out there don't you?"
"What...what do you mean?"
"There's someone out there you like who's suffering, and you wish you could be there to comfort him," Brock managed to push out.
Lana fidgeted slightly, "Uh, Brock actually, I was talking about...well...you." She blushed slightly as she continued, "You must be hurting inside."
"Im ok," Brock said unconvincingly. By the look Lana had on her face, he could tell that he must have appeared to look uncomfortable. He motioned to the bathroom door. "Uh, Lana? I have to...uh...you know..." he said, his face growing red.
"Sure," she smiled, "Ill be fine." With that, he slowly got up and went to the restroom.
Lana looked at her reflection in the window and sighed. She wondered why Brock was acting so strangely, if he still blamed himself for trapping the two of them there, awaiting their doom. Being stuck there made her realize just how much she hadnt really opened up to him in the past months, and how she regreted not being more honest with him about "things," the way he had always been with her. She exhaled slowly, thinking about their friendship, and how she wanted to show him, or tell him, just how she felt, but she didnt know exactly how to do it.
Brock emerged from the bathroom to see Lana sitting and apparently lost in thought. She looked so peaceful and yet so distant... Brock snapped out his thought and approached her, cautiously.
"Anything wrong?" he asked carefully.
"Uh? Oh, no nothing," Lana responded, embarassed for zoning out so easily.
He sat beside her, reddening slightly, but trying to keep his shyness in check. "You know," he said slowly, "we never had time like this to just talk. About things."
Lana looked at him. "Thats true," she said, smiling, "having Ash and Misty around is almost like a full-time job!"
"Yeah, I guess youre right!" Brock said, laughing. He looked up at the sky, dark red with the hint of a sunset fast approaching. "You know, the sunset reminds me of the ones I used to watch in Pewter City," he said quietly, musing. "They had the most beautiful shades of red and purple, and if you sat on a rooftop as the sun went down, the colors all blended together at just the right angle it wouldve made such a lovely picture."
Lana sat there, imagining it. She closed her eyes. "Yes
In Aksum City, the
gold paint of the buildings reflected the sunsets lovely hues, and the whole city
would look like it was sparkling like precious jewels." She opened her eyes and saw
that Brock was looking at her as she talked, entranced by her. He blushed profusely when
he was caught. She laughed, "and you have some nice hues there, yourself!"
"Well, I-I uh " he stammered.
"Its alright," she said, putting her hand on his, "I know you cant help it." She winked.
"You know," Brock said a little boldly, "I always liked talking to you. You always listened to what I had to say, without making any judgements."
"And you always listened to me," she answered, "through it all. I always loved our conversations on the road, and during the roar of the campfires while we ate those wonderful meals you would cook." She grinned. "You know, I always wanted to learn your cooking secrets. Ive never known a man who could cook as well as you."
Brock blushed, and for almost an hour, told her stories of how he would have to teach himself to cook, in order to keep his siblings healthy and take care of them the way that his mother used to. While he talked, Lana just listened to him, pretending she was in that situation, imagining him tossing up batches of rice and other food like the movements of an elegant artist. She almost floated off, when she heard him say, "Lana? Lana? Aw, geez, did I bore you that much? Im sorry."
Lana snapped out of it. "Oh no, Brock, it was just that, you told it so well that I actually felt like I was there." She looked at him warmly. "Youve sure got some talent with your story-telling." She glanced at the sky and noticed that it had gone darker. Brock looked up and noticed it as well.
"Hmm, perhaps we should try to get some rest," he said, crossing his arms. "No use wasting our energy when we arent going anywhere." Lana nodded in reply, and Brock opened one of his vests pouches, pulling out a heavily folded piece of fabric that unfolded into a good-sized blanket.
"Wow, you really are prepared!" Lana said, giggling.
"Well, I store a lot of things in these pockets," he responded, blushing, "and I never know when Ill need them." He covered the blanket over himself and Lana, and Lana scooched over closer to Brock, leaning her head lightly against his shoulder.
"Well, goodnight, Brock," she said.
"G-goodnight, Lana," he managed to say, his smile beaming down on her.
Lana awoke to see the sun rising over the PokeCenters remains in the window. She remembered the night before and sat up. Brock was apparently still asleep. She gently shook him.
"Brock, time to wake up." No response. "Cmon Brock, its morning " Still no response. Lana began to get worried. "Brock, you okay?" She turned Brocks head so she could see his face. When she touched his skin, it felt...cold. His face was a ghostly white. Lana felt a twinge in her stomach. "Brock, don't give up on me now..." She felt his lips. They were cold. She was on the verge of tears. Almost reluctantly, she took his hand. It was limp. "No Brock, no. You're...too...stubborn. Please..., don't leave me. You...you made me happy, you hear me? You...kept me...company..." She checked for his pulse. There was none. The realization stabbed her as tears flowed down her cheeks...
Brock was surprised he got up so early. Remembering last night, he turned and saw a wonderful young woman lying next to him. He smiled. He hated to wake her but
"Lana, time to get up." No response. Strange. He never thought of Lana as being lazy. "Lana?" Come to think of it, she usually responded to him on the first or second try. Maybe she wasn't feeling well. "Lana, you okay?" He turned her head around, and saw a fearful vision of a very pale young woman lying...very still. Ultimate terror struck Brock at that moment. He reached for her cheek. It was...so...cold. He was too afraid to take her hand. He already knew what had happened... Brock wanted to scream...
"BROCK!!" "LANA!!" The two of them sat up in their blanket. It was still night. They turned around and saw each other. Both wanted to hug the other to prove that the vision was just a dream, but they were still too nervous to reveal their feelings for one another.
"Uh, I'm sorry for waking you. I..." Brock started.
"No. My fault. I had a bad dream..." Lana replied, shaken.
"Same here..." There was a silence. Neither wanted to say what their dreams had been about.
"Well good night again."
"Same here." The two lay down for a while...
Lana awoke in the middle of the night and saw Brock sleeping. He was so...peaceful. He didn't even snore. She always enjoyed seeing him like that. He was so...well...cute. He was always so kind to her and that was the real reason she liked him. She sighed, thinking about how many girls Brock had supposedly asked out in such a short amount of time, and that had scared her, but as she looked at the sleeping young man, she smiled and realized that he had done that because he had mustve wanted someone so badly. She thought about that to herself silently. I wish I could be that one, she mused to herself. She wondered about all the things they could do together if only she could find out whether he liked her or not. She had had so many rough starts in the past with men that she didnt know whether his advances had been genuine or merely out of friendship, and she felt awkward about risking that friendship by spilling the beans. As she pondered her predicament, she fell back asleep.
Brock opened his eyes and saw Lana sleeping. She looked so peaceful to him. He quickly reminded himself that she could be a little dangerous when she was awake. One of the things he liked
about her was how Lana could probably conquer the world if you let her. She was kind, playful and flirty, more than all the Jennys and Joys in the world combined. But did she really notice him? Brock wondered, had Lana noticed him and was simply ignoring his advances? She was probably ignoring him, not wanting to make a scene and ruin the friendship by turning him down. Perhaps that was the kindest thing she could do for him. He sighed. He ached to tell her how much he loved her, but he had been shaken so badly from all his past rejections, that he didnt know if he could survive another one.
Brock thought of how he would love to stroke her hair right then, kiss her cheek, and, if he was fortunate, cuddle next to her. The reason he didn't was because he didn't want to insult her, if that wasn't what she wanted. That was why, Brock realized, he never asked her out. She had been the one woman whose opinions and feelings mattered most to him, and he would never want to have her walk out of his life, for he was deathly afraid of that. Still, it was fun to dream. He imagined having a relationship with her, caring for her, having fun together, spending the rest of his life with her but he knew that she probably deserved somone better than him. He sighed again. Unfortunately, that person would never get his chance because Brock and Lana would probably die in this room. Brock cursed himself for denying the world of such a sweet person. Before falling asleep, he vowed to make Lana as happy as possible before the end. Whether or not he would reveal his true feelings for her, he did not know.
When they awoke they discovered that they had been shifting in their sleep. Brock and Lana's arms were now wrapped around each other. When Lana noticed where her arms were, she removed them immediately.
"Oh! Sorry, Brock," she said quickly, afraid that she had done something wrong.
"That's okay," he answered, but his eyes had gone sad and dejected at her response. She noticed this and looked deeply at him.
"If thats ok, then why are you so sad?" she asked softly, putting her hands back towards him.
"Well " he started, and then stopped himself. Then, he firmed up and opened his mouth again, determined to speak. "I was sad because I was hoping you wouldnt have minded holding me close for once. Ive been tip-toeing around the subject for a long time now, but when I think about it, I know I cant keep it in any longer. Lana," he said, putting his arms around her again, "you are a wonderful girl. Youre smart, funny, beautiful, and the kindest person I have ever met. Never before have I known a girl as marvelous as you. I couldnt tell you before, but I felt that I have to, because I cant keep it in any longer. If we do end up dying in here, I just wanted you to know that-"
"I love you," Lana finished, gazing at him. Brock went a fuschia pink and looked back down at her. She smiled quietly and nodded.
"Oh, Brock, you dont know how long Ive been hoping you would feel that way. Ive loved you from the first time I talked with you. Youre a wonderful guy, and I feel so lucky to be with you."
They both looked at each other for quite a while, and then nervously bent towards each other. Their lips met, and they exchanged a long, loving kiss. Brock wrapped his arms around her, and they stayed in that passionate embrace for a good several minutes. When they finished, they gazed at each other and smiled. Brock ran his hands through Lanas hair, feeling the curve of her cheekbones and soft touch of her skin. She beamed.
"Im Im so happy," he said, slightly speechless, his eyes shining. "But what can we do now? Well probably end up dying in here." He saw Lanas troubled expression and offered, "Since I feel partially responsible for putting you in this mess, I want you to ask for anything, anything at all from me."
She thought for a moment, looking at his stern face that seriously meant what he said. Finally, she grinned and blushed. He looked at her quizzically.
"Well if youre serious " she said slowly, "I want to see you well naked." He blushed at the request, but realized that this might be the last time they would ever do such a thing. He nodded slightly, removing her grip and standing a bit away. He began by taking off his shirt and vest, revealing his defined chest, and took off his pants slowly, as his face was a bit pink.
"Wait," Lana said, "Just stay like that." He was in his shorts, looking at her. She grinned. "You look cute in boxers." He smiled. She went up and hugged him tightly, giving him a quick kiss.
Then suddenly, a large aftershock hit the room. The explosion of the grounds movement thrust Lana to the ground, but Brock managed to pick her up swiftly, preventing her from bruising. The wall near the bathroom began collapsing, and fragments fell in an avalanche towards them. Brock made a dive for a far corner of the room, landing a bit harshly on his side, but saving them from being crushed by the huge falling debris. Once the dust had settled, the two looked at the altered surroundings.
The newly enclosed space was much smaller than the previous one, and there was far less room to move around. Being surrounded on both sides by rock was certainly a good deal more frightening to them. Lana looked over to Brock for support, but became alarmed when he noticed that his face had grown paler and was slightly breaking out in a sweat. She firmed the grip on his hand.
"Brock??" she asked worriedly, "are you alright?"
"I-Im fine," he pained himself to say, looking at her and managing a weak smile. But he could not hold it for long, and his face began to tighten as he fought with himself to regain his composure.
"Whats wrong?" she demanded frantically.
"Im claustrophobic," he said shortly. He tried to laugh about it, but began to wheeze instead. "And Im afraid Ive got it bad."
She held him closely, and he returned the embrace, but she felt his hold on her tighten slightly.
"The room " he murmured, "feels like its closing in on me My chest it hurts so tight I can barely breathe "
He collapsed slightly into her arms, and she lay him carefully on his back, looking up at her. His weak eyes glanced at her, but almost through her as well, and his beads of perspiration fell from him to the cold concrete floor.
"Brock, just hang on," Lana said, feeling her eyes begin to grow wet, "youll be ok. Someone will find us, Im sure of it."
He shook his head slowly. "It will be too late," he said softly, "for me." He raised his shaking hand to her face, and caressed her cheek softly. "Youre so beautiful " he murmured, "like an angel." He managed to laugh softly, "Im surprised youd even consider loving me, of all people."
"Dont say that, Brock," she said gently, "youre a wonderful guy, compassionate, kind amazing." She found her vision blur as she continued to talk. She held his hand up with hers, as a strand of tears cascaded from her face. "Its not fair," she said, sobbing slightly, "You cant leave me, Brock, you just cant not when weve finally come so far."
A solitary tear streaked from his suffering brown eyes. "Lifes never been very fair to me," he said softly, "but at l-least I met you I w-wouldnt give that up for the w-world." His chest heaved as she saw that each sentence became harder and harder for him to manage. His dark complexion had grown increasingly more and more pale over just a few minutes, and Lana looked on helplessly.
"Come on, Brock, dont quit on me now," she pleaded, "If you can just hang on, someone will find us just, please, try to stay with me please." She reached out and stroked his hair softly, the way she had done when he had fainted in her arms after risking his life for her in Aksum City. Her slender fingers ran through his hair, and he gazed at her in silent wonder.
He smiled slightly, although his eyebrows were arched, showing his slow agony. "Dont cry," he said, almost incoherently, "I want to remember your beautiful smiling face " Lana wiped away her tears and bent down to give Brock a soft kiss on the lips. She tried to smile for him, and he looked at her quietly. "So soft," he said, "like petals of a rose -unh-" he gasped shortly, gagging on his small breath. He forced himself to continue, however, even though his weakened eyes were beginning to close. "Just remember no matter what h-happens Ill always love " His eyes shut, and his mouth closed before he finished his sentence. Lana waited for him to finish, but her eyes widened in fear when she realized that there would be no finishing of the sentence. His lifeless hand dropped from her face, and to the side.
"Brock?!?" BROCK?!?" Lana yelled to the body. There was no response. Her face scrunched into a look of pure misery as she shook the still figure. "BROCK, WAKE UP!!! PLEASE!!" She put her ear to his mouth, but only a small puff of air circulated in and out. Putting her ear to his chest, she could still hear a faint lub lub of his heart, but it was slowing down with each minute, and she realized in horror that it would soon stop altogether. "No no, this cant be happening, youve got to make it, Brock, youve just got to!!!"
She gathered up his still body and embraced it sorrowfully to her chest, thinking to herself. He was not dead yet, but his pulse was stopping and there was no hope left for him. No, she thought frantically, it cant end like this! The man who made her smile, the man she loved, was dying in her arms, and there was nothing she could do about it. She bitterly cursed herself under her breath. Why had she waited so long to tell him how she had felt? Why had she been so scared of saying the only thing that she had ever truly known had come straight from her heart? All that time together that they could have shared, was wasted, and now he was going to die, and leave her all alone. She realized sadly, that once the air ran out in the small space, that she would die too. She felt her stomach twist as she thought of her own inevitable doom, and it caused her to hold Brock closer to her. All she wished was that there could have been a time when she and Brock wouldve... wouldve... it's amazing what type of circumstance would allow someone to have dirty thoughts of another. Lana figured that she deserved the pleasure at least one sinful thought if she couldn't have the reality of it. That thought was interrupted when Lana felt another earthquake around her.
The aftershock was a strong one, and the roof began crumbling under its force. As well as she could manage, Lana carried Brock to the farthest corner of the enclosure, just barely avoiding the falling ceiling. When the quake had passed, she looked up and noticed that over half of the entire roof had collapsed, letting the cool night air enter the room and revealing the large sky full of twinkling stars. The air! she thought, if only Brock could breathe it in! She looked down at him, the still figure lying upon her.
"Brock," she said softly, "Please, wake up, Brock please "
Brock felt the crisp, cold outside air reach his nose, and he felt the urge to breathe in deeply. He slowly opened his eyes. He saw the night sky, filled with stars. I must be in Heaven, he thought. Strange, he continued, I expected clouds. Well, perhaps it was night. Then he saw a familiar angel look down on him. This is amazing, thought Brock, now Lana and I can be together, forever
"Brock! Youre alive!!" Lana yelled, hugging him tightly. He felt the hug and realized that perhaps he wasnt dead after all. He looked at her weakly and smiled.
"I am?" he asked. He tried to get up carefully, with Lanas help, and the aching that he felt told him that he was most definitely alive. He gave her a small kiss and said softly, "you really must be an angel being there for me saving me."
She smiled at him. "Im just so glad that youre ok," she replied, her eyes moist. "I dont ever want to lose you again." They stayed in their embrace for a long while, and their happiness turned into gleeful yells that echoed out into the night. Then, footsteps could be heard behind the wall of the room.
"HELLO?" the young voice yelled, "Anyone in there?"
"Were in here!!" Lana yelled back. The scuffling outside increased, as a ladder was raised to the roofs new opening. Ash and Misty popped their heads out.
"Omigod!" Misty screamed, excited, "THEYRE ALIVE!!! We were so worried about you two!!" Misty climbed down slowly, helping the couple up the ladder and out of the building. "Were so happy youre ok!"
"Ugh, barely," Brock said, collapsing once they reached the grass outside. Lana helped steady him. She propped him up gently against the wall outside, and realized that he was shivering, due to the fact that he was only wearing boxers. Misty and Ash looked at him, and then at Lana.
"Did you two ?"
"No, we didnt," she laughed, looking at Brocks embarrased face. She grinned and turned around, moving back to the ladder. She looked back and saw his concerned expression.
"Where are you going?" he asked, fearing that she would leave him after the ordeal.
She shot back a beautiful, wide, beaming smile at him. "Dont worry," she replied gently, "Im just going back to get your clothes." She looked at him for a long time before saying, "I don't think I'm going be far from your side for a long time, Brock." He smiled in response.
Lana awoke in the middle of the night covered her warm blanket, and the strong, gentle arm of the person next to her. She looked at the small, elegant ring that had been on her finger for the past five years, the five years after that earthquake. She yawned quietly and looked at the man who was silently awakened by her movement. She turned to him and his eyes opened. Brock grinned his handsome smile, and kissed her softly on the forehead.