So I've been working on this for a while, and it's done right around Valentine's Day. I hope you all like it.
It was late at night. Or early in the morning. Whichever. She thought it was night, since she hasn't been to sleep yet, but Clemont was always technical about things like that.
Serena stood in the kitchen of the Pokémon Center she and her friends found themselves in this night. She had been waiting for night to fall all day long, and despite running into Team Rocket, it was a pretty ordinary day for all of them.
But tomorrow was Valentine's Day. (Or would that be today? Doesn't matter.) The day she will finally tell Ash Ketchum how she feels.
By her side, sitting on the counter, was Fennekin, her Pokémon. The Pokémon wagged her fluffy tail energetically. "Are you as excited as I am?" Serena asked the Fire-type. Fennekin responded with a happy bark that made Serena smile.
With her hair back and her apron on, she set to the task of chocolate making. In truth, this wouldn't be the first time she made homemade chocolates. She remembered her mother teaching her when she was little. In one of the moments she wasn't being Grace, Rhyhorn Racing Champion, she was being Mom to her daughter. She also made them for her dad, once. That was after the divorce, when she was visiting. It was amiable, since both her parents wanted to focus on their careers.
She started pulling the ingredients out of her bag, one by one. She could only carry dry ingredients with her while traveling, though. She hoped Nurse Joy wouldn't mind sharing some milk and butter for her enterprise.
She smiled, thinking about that raven-haired boy with the gentle brown eyes. She sat the sugar on the counter, remembering how sweet he was when he rescued her in the forest that day. The cocoa powder reminded her of his tanned skin, which made her blush. The flour made her think of white dresses. Serena began giggling in embarrassment. 'Really, thinking about marriage at my age?' she playfully chided herself.
Fennekin barked. The sound brought Serena back into the present and her current task. "Thanks, Fennekin," she said, taking a moment to scratch behind her Pokémon's ears.
Serena began mixing the cocoa powder with the butter, whipping them together. She continued mixing them until her arm got tired. She glanced around the kitchen, hoping to find a stand mixer or a blender she could use. The counters, however, were bare of any helpful appliances. Sighing, she began digging through the drawers until she found a hand mixer. She smiled, and began attaching the whisks and returned to daydreaming.
She could picture it now. 'Serena, this is great,' Ash would say, licking his lips from the first taste. 'Where'd you get this stuff?' And she would say 'Nowhere, because I made it just for you.'
'Just for me?' he would ask back, those brown eyes going wide. 'Yes, just for you,' she would reply. I wanted it to be homemade chocolate so I could pour all my feelings into making it.'
Then he would eat more of it. And that thought made her smile and blush.
Fennekin barked, bringing Serena back to reality again. Serena looked down at the mess she was making. Some of the chocolate and butter combination had spattered on her apron. She smiled at her Pokémon. "Sorry, Fennekin," she said. "I'll be more careful." At least it was blended smooth. She pulled a pot from her pack and poured the mixture into it. She sat the pot on the stove and turned it on medium-high. She took a measuring cup from her bag, and filled it with water from the sink. She poured just enough water into the pot, gave it a stir, and began waiting again.
'The perfect time to give it to him would be right after breakfast," she thought. 'Clemont and Bonnie should be doing dishes, which would leave us alone.' That way she wouldn't have to tell those two why she only made some for Ash.
'These are so good, aren't they, buddy?' he would ask Pikachu after handing the mouse Pokémon a piece. She couldn't get upset about him sharing with Pikachu. They were inseparable to the point of almost being the same person. Pikachu would coo and nod in agreement. 'What were those feelings you poured into this?' he would then ask.
Fennekin barked once more, again pulling Serena from her fantasy. She looked down. The pot was hot, but not boiling. Perfect. "Thank you, Fennekin. It's almost like you know as much about making chocolate as I do."
Fennekin huffed, a few embers escaping its nose. Serena returned the hot mixture to the bowl she started with and added the milk, sugar, and flour to. Taking a spoon, she set to the task of stirring and mixing, to remove the lumps from the mixture.
When Ash asks that question, Serena would be ready. For that was the moment this was all for. 'That feeling,' she would say while looking directly into his wonderfully warm brown eyes, 'is love. I love you, Ash. I always have, ever since the day we met at camp. Every day since then, too. I will always love you."
Ash's face would turn red. He would stare back into her eyes for a moment, and then he would say 'Wow, Serena. I didn't know you felt like that.' He would take her hand and stand up. 'I feel like I just won a Pokémon League,' he would say with a smile. 'I don't think I've ever been happier than I am now.' Then he would pull Serena close, just like the day they met, and she would feel the warmth and happiness radiate off of him. She would look up at him, and he down at her. Their faces would draw closer and closer until-
Fennekin howled loudly. Serena, face flushed, looked down at the bowl. The lumps were all gone. It was time for putting the chocolate into molds. She got lots of small ones so they'd be bite size and in lots of little shapes. Hearts were easy enough to find, being that time of year, but she knew that if she couldn't get Pokémon shaped molds, especially Pikachu, it would all be for nothing. Thankfully, she was able to find a few, though none of them looked exactly the same.
She filled each mold up and placed them in the refrigerator. It'll be a few hours before she can safely remove them. Serena let out a yawn. "Well, it's time for bed," she said, rubbing her eyes. "I'll have to get up early and finish up. She took a look around the kitchen. "After I clean up, anyway," she said with a sigh.
She put the dishes in the dishwasher, turned it on, grabbed her Fennekin, and went to bed.
Serena still felt groggy waking up the next morning. Looking up, Clemont was the only other one awake, and he was already out of the room. Bonnie was still sleeping in her Tyrantrum pajamas, and Ash snorted in his sleep, having somehow kicked his blanket into the floor while sleeping. His arms and legs were splayed apart. Pikachu had the same body language, sleeping next to its trainer. Ash slept in his blue and white boxers and a white and red tank top. Serena blushed. 'Oh, gosh… I'm staring at him,' she thought. 'He'd probably think I was being rude or weird if he was awake.' Fennekin, who hadn't been returned to her Poké Ball the night before, raised her head up from where she had curled up at the foot of Serena's bed. Serena quickly scooped Fennekin into her arms and quietly slipped out of bed, taking her bag with her.
She tip-toed back down to the kitchen, her heart beating like a drum in her chest. It was exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. She was so going to impress him with this chocolate, and then tell him how she felt. At the same time, she was afraid of how he'd respond.
She looked into the kitchen and saw Clemont there, cooking. She felt sick. Now she had to get around him just to get the chocolates. She would have to be sneaky. She would have to be stealthy. She would-
"Oh, hey Serena," Clemont said cheerfully. "Good morning."
'Crap', she thought. "Good morning, Clemont," she said while faking a yawn. "I didn't know you'd be cooking this morning."
"Well, you usually do it, and I thought you'd like the morning off," he replied. He was making pancakes. Serena knew she was running low on time, since the scent would reach their room and wake Ash sooner or later.
Clemont then turned to her and pushed up his glasses. "I mean, it is Valentine's Day and all."
Serena felt all the color drain from her face. She squeezed Fennekin tightly, her heart about to shoot out her chest. "Wait... What?"
Clemont smiled. "Unlike those two in there, I'm a light sleeper," he said. "I could hear you in the kitchen." Fennekin barked at him and he chuckled. "Well, that and I could hear Fennekin barking at you."
'Clemont knows my plan,' she thought. 'What can I do to get out of this? What can I say to get my plan back on track?'
"Oh," was all Serena could manage to say.
"Now don't worry," the blonde boy said to her. "I'll leave you two to whatever plan you have for this morning. I'll try to keep Bonnie from prying into your business."
Life returned to Serena. "What? Seriously?"
"You don't think I'm that oblivious, do you?" he asked.
Serena was too glad to have Clemont's support to look this gift horse in the mouth. "You have no idea how much easier this makes it for me. Thank you, Clemont."
She opened the refrigerator and took out the molds. She placed them on the countertop and took a knife from the drawer. Using the knife, she pried the chocolate loose, each shape plunking gently onto a plate. Seeing the shapes, Serena thought they looked very cute. Ash would surely be impressed. 'Serena, these are the best,' he'd say. 'I lo-'
Suddenly the knife went awry, and the last piece of chocolate had snapped in half, right down the middle.
A broken heart.
'No, no, no!' Serena's face paled again. She looked at Fennekin, her anxiety clearly evident on her face. The Fox Pokémon stared back at her, giving her a look that seemed to say 'You should have been paying closer attention.'
Serena frowned back in the Fire-Type's face. She took half of the broken heart and popped it in Fennekin's mouth. The Pokémon smiled as it ate the piece of chocolate. Seeing Fennekin's happy face calmed Serena back down. She took a small bag from her belongings and gently put the pieces of chocolate inside the bag. She was already this far and she had almost done it. No need to get hasty and mess it up now.
She smiled at Clemont. "Thanks," she said. "I'm going to go see if I can wake him up enough so he could accept this."
Clemont smiled back. "Good luck," he said.
She tip-toed back into the room, poking her head in to see if the situation had changed. Bonnie hadn't moved an inch, but Ash had rolled over onto his stomach in the few short minutes that Serena had been out of the room. He was a really restless sleeper. Interestingly, Pikachu had done the same. She smiled at the two of them. It really was like they were connected on some other level, like they were one and the same.
She silently moved back to her bed. She gently placed the chocolate on her bed and grabbed a change of clothes. If this was going to be perfect, she needed to be dressed. She pulled her familiar black-and-red outfit out and turned to take it into the restroom to change.
And then Fennekin came into the room, licking its chops.
Serena's eyes grew wide. She shook her head at it. 'No,' she tried to telepathically tell it. 'Go back to the kitchen.' She silently mouthed the words to it.
Fennekin barked happily, wagging its tail.
Ash turned over in his bed and opened his eyes. He looked over at Pikachu. "G'morning, buddy."
Pikachu did the exact same, except he looked at Ash. "Pika Pika."
Bonnie also sat up in bed, raising her head from the covers. She sniffled. "I smell breakfast."
Serena's perfect plan was quickly falling apart. Now Bonnie would be in the way, too. She had to think quickly. She had an idea, but it required Clemont being able to play by ear himself. But she had to take that chance.
"Good morning, Bonnie," Serena said, putting on her best smile. "Clemont said that he needs your help in the kitchen."
Bonnie sluggishly rolled out of bed and began tromping down the hall, the tail of her pajamas dragging behind her. Dedenne blinked and followed closely behind, dragging its long tail along the ground. Fennekin curiously followed the two out of the room, wagging its tail happily.
Serena let out a sigh of relief. 'Okay, Bonnie's out of the way now. We might both be in our pajamas, and he just woke up, and he probably won't understand, but I have to take my chance now!' Serena swallowed the fear that was creeping up inside her and walked toward Ash's bed. "Good morning, Ash," she said with her biggest, brightest smile.
Ash rubbed his eyes, and Pikachu did the same. "Huh?" He still didn't realize where he was. "Oh, Serena?" he said with a yawn. "Good morning."
She continued beaming her smile at him. "Ash, do you know what today is?"
Ash looked at Serena dumbly, like his head was a yawning void. "Isn't it Friday?"
Serena felt her overjoyous façade cracking. "Y-Yes," she said, trying to hold it together. "But it's also another day…"
Ash looked puzzled for a minute. He looked at Pikachu, who gave him a shrug. "Uh, I give up, Serena. What day is it?"
She sighed internally, not letting it show on her face. "It's Valentine's Day, Ash."
"Oh!" He looked a little surprised. He sat up in bed. "I guess it is, huh, Pikachu?" he said, looking over at his little buddy. Pikachu nodded back.
Even if she was being annoyed by his denseness, she couldn't deny that his little double act with Pikachu was cute. She found her worry subsiding for a bit.
Ash looked up at her. "So why's that special?"
"Well," said, smiling. "I thought I'd give you these!" She said that with a little more enthusiasm than she wanted, but she thrust the bag of chocolates at him.
Scratching his head, he took the bag from her. "Uh, thanks." He sounded a little under enthusiastic. Serena started to worry. He opened it up, then stopped himself and looked back at her. "Uh, if it's alright, I mean…" He scratched his cheek shyly.
She snickered. "No, go ahead," she said with a smile.
Ash opened the bag the rest of the way and pulled out a piece before popping it into his mouth. He chewed it a bit.
Serena held her breath.
The corners of Ash's mouth turned up into a grin. "Serena, this is great," Ash said, licking his lips. "Where'd you get this stuff?"
Serena smiled. "Nowhere, because I made it just for you."
Ash stopped eating the chocolate for a moment. "Just for me, huh?" He looked at Pikachu. "You wanna taste, buddy?"
"Pikapika!" It waved its arms at Ash, asking for a piece.
"Here you go, buddy," he said, popping a piece into the Pokémon's mouth.
Pikachu chewed, swallowed, and cooed. Serena smiled inwardly. If both Ash and Pikachu liked it, this was in the bag.
Serena returned to her script. "Yes, Ash. I made those just for you. I-"
"If they're just for me, I guess you didn't make any for Clemont or Bonnie, huh?" Ash said, looking at her with those brown eyes that made Serena's knees shake.
"Y-Yeah," she stuttered, having to look away for a moment. "I only made them f-for you." Her confidence was fading quickly.
"Oh." Ash said. He stopped eating them for a moment. He looked disappointed.
"Th-the reason is because," Serena fought her shyness, "I wanted to make it only for you. Because I wanted to put my feelings for you into them."
Ash popped another one into his mouth. "There are really good, aren't they, buddy?" He asked Pikachu. The Pokémon gave him a happy nod. "So what feelings were those, Serena?"
"The feelings?" Serena balked. "They're, I mean-" She was fumbling. She knew in her mind and heart what she wanted to say but she couldn't get it onto her tongue or past her lips. "I l-l-l-l-like you," she managed out, ruining her message in the process.
He smiled at her. "Well, I like you, too. Thanks, Serena."
Her face lit up. "No, that's not-I mean, that's not all." She grabbed his shoulders and looked deeply into his eyes. "Ash, that's not all I wanted to say." Her blush felt deeper than it had ever been before. She swallowed her fear.
This was it. This was the moment. She had to act now.
"Ash, I… more than like you."
Ash blinked. "More? What's that mean?"
She stepped back from him and took a deep breath. It was now or never.
"Ash Ketchum, I'm in love with you!"
She had practically yelled that. In the distance, she heard Clemont grabbing Bonnie and telling her to hold still and not interrupt. She felt like her entire face had lit up bright red. Her head was spinning, her eyes were watering, and she felt like her legs would give out at any second.
Ash looked at her for a moment. Pikachu did the same, its ears twitching. A tinge of red colored his cheeks. "You're… in love with me?"
It took her a moment to register the question. She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing left her mouth. She gave him a shy nod.
He swallowed. He looked at Pikachu. Pikachu smiled at him and wagged his tail. "Pikapika!"
He stood up and looked her in the eyes. She took a step back but he put his hands on her shoulders, stopping her cold. "Serena, wait," he said as though her legs would cooperate with her now. "Serena, I…"
Serena's stomach felt like it was twisted into a ball of knots.
"I don't… I mean… What I want to say is…" He was fumbling his words now. "I really like travelling with you, Serena." He was looking away, over his shoulder at nothing in particular. His face was turning red, too, now. "I-I mean, it's really fun traveling with you. I like having you around."
Serena giggled. He was stuck repeating himself. It was cute, the way he was befuddled.
He heard her giggle and turned even redder. "What I want to say is… let's travel together. Let's keep travelling together. I mean, if you want."
She couldn't hold it in anymore. Her giggle broke into a chuckle before boiling over into laughted. She fell backwards onto Bonnie's empty bed. Here the two of them were, being shy and embarrassed and struggling with their emotions in their sleepwear. Ash looked confused. "What's so funny about that?"
"I'm sorry!" she said between laughs. "I'm sorry!" But she couldn't stop herself. "I was just so worried about this, and I had this idea of how it'd go in my head, but it's been anything BUT that."
Ash blinked, his face returning to its normal tanned hue. "What do you mean?"
She wiped the tears away from her eyes. "I'm sorry," she apologized again. "I mean…" she smiled at him. "I would love to travel with you. To keep travelling with you. As long as you'll have me, I mean."
Ash took her hand and pulled her to her feet and into a hug. She felt his arms encircle him, his warmth around her. She took a breath in. He smelled like plain shampoo, like he hadn't rinsed out his hair enough the night before. She smiled, and he awkwardly let her go.
He smiled at her. "W-well, okay! Let's-" He stopped. "Clemont! Bonnie! Are you two still watching?
A Tyrantrum tail quickly slipped around the corner as the two blondes hid. Silence hung in the air.
"I think it's breakfast time," Serena said, an annoyed look on her face. "I guess I'll get dressed."
"Me, too," an annoyed Ash agreed.
Serena took her clothes and went to change in the bathroom. As she expected, Clemont and Bonnie were standing outside the room, trying their best to look nonchalant. Away from their eyes, she smiled to herself.
Fennekin ran up to her and followed her as she walked. "Well, I didn't get a totally affirmative reply, Fennekin," she told her small Fire-Type. "But I was able to say it, and I think he wanted to say it too. I guess it's refreshing to have these feelings out in the open." She stretched, feeling a little freer.
All she could do now is give him time to say it. Really say it. But until then, she would be by his side, waiting. Making him more snacks until he got up the nerve. And when that day comes, she wouldn't have to struggle for words.