Read My Mind

Misty squished her water-wrinkled toes further into the cool wet sand, using her hands absentmindedly to make a little mound covering them. Leaning back on her arms, she squinted out to the darkening horizon. They should be quite close to Trovita Island or whatever it was called. Trouble was, Tracey was almost as useless with a map as Brock had been.

It was almost 7 in the evening, but the sky was just starting to turn shades of orange, and the air that washed over her with the tide was deliciously warm, even in her soaking wet bathing suit. Misty could feel her skin prickling from the heat of the last rays of sun, and made an absentminded mental note to slap some after-sun on before she went to sleep.

Startled, she realised that the tide was coming in rapidly, and now the area where her toes were buried was submerged in the crystal clear waters. Hurriedly she yanked them out, sending up a storm of sand to cloud the water. She knew she should go back to where they'd camped, and she should find the guys, but she knew without even bothering to double check in her memory that Tracey was probably off sketching something and Ash had probably followed out of boredom. He never was one for swimming. Revelling in these rare moments of solitude, she stretched out on the warm sand, pausing to check Togepi who was playing in the sand dunes nearby.

Even though her eyes were closed, she could sense the change in light and squinted upwards underneath the shade of her arm.

"Hey Ash," she mumbled. "What's up?" Ash, wearing his swimming trunks and jacket, nonchalantly tossed a yellow bottle at her.

"Brought you some after-sun. I thought at least one of us should make sure you don't get skin cancer at 30." He settled down beside her as she glared at him.

"I have not been just sitting here baking since this afternoon!" she corrected. "Unlike some lazy Pokémon Trainers with spiky, black, in-need-of-brushing-hat-hair, I was swimming. We don't get much exercise riding every place on Lapras's back." Ash just looked confused.

"Say what?" Misty didn't reply, instead, she reached up and grabbed his hat. "Hey, gimme that!" Still not answering, she settled back down on the sand and placed the cap over her face.

"I'm going to sleep," she mumbled from somewhere behind the fabric. "Wake me up before the tide drowns me okay."

"But dya have ta use my hat?" moaned Ash, awkwardly scratching his head. "I had to send in like-"

"-a million postcards to win that hat," Misty finished with a yawn. "Yeah yeah I know." After a moment of silence, she sat up and burst out laughing. "I knew I recognised that smell!" she gasped between spasms of giggles. "You've been using my strawberry scented conditioner!" She could tell by the instant colouring on Ash's face her assumptions were correct. "That'll be a story for the newspapers when you're the Master," she chuckled, chucking his hat across to him, and watching him gratefully pull it on.

"Hey Misty, do you really think I'm gonna be the Master?" Ash asked excitedly, giving her puppy dog eyes.

"Yeah. And Brock's gonna marry that Joy from Pewter, who will be tragically killed by Jenny in a fit of jealous rage," she giggled. Ash stuck his tongue out at her, knowing she was only kidding. Misty pulled herself up fully. The warm waters were now lapping soothingly round her ankles.

"I miss Brock," mumbled Ash. "I mean, Trace is great, but it's not the same."

"Yeah," Misty agreed. "But remember, we haven't known Tracey as long."

"Yeah, but…I was able to tell Brock things that I don't think I'd be able to tell Tracey ya know?" Misty's curiosity was quickly aroused.

"Ash, you've known me longer than Brock and you hardly tell me anything you don't tell everyone!" Ash distractedly drew a circle in the sand.

"It's guy stuff."

"Yeah well, if you don't want me to hear "guy-stuff" then stop calling me a scrawny tomboy!"

"But you are…"

"I AM NOT!" Emphasising her point, Misty flicked her foot upwards, scattering droplets of seawater over Ash's bare legs. In less than a minute, both of them were soaking wet from the massive water fight that had ensued.

"Aw man," Ash laughed, holding his arms straight out so Misty could see the beads of waters collecting at the hem and dripping onto whatever part of the sand was still relatively dry.

"Don't you 'aw man' me," Misty retorted. "I was almost dry!" she whined, as she yanked out her hair band and shook her head like dog, spraying yet more water on to Ash. Ash couldn't help but laugh at her. The lack of light and the water retention of her hair made it appear more brown than orange.

"Well what about you?" asked Ash, returning to their previous conversation after a moment of silence. "You don't tell me…girl stuff do ya?"

"What kind of girl stuff?" Misty asked. Ash lowered his eyes.

"Um…well…you didn't tell me when you…" his eyes lowered even further as an embarrassed red hue appeared across the bridge of his nose. "When you…you know…"

"I know?"

"You know…"

"Ash, I do not know what you're talking about…" Ash giggled nervously under her scrutinising stare.

"It don't matter…"

"It doesn't matter," she corrected him. "And yes it does. Come on." Ash sighed.

"You know-"

"ASH! We've established that I don't know!"

"Um…when you…started…" Misty stared at him confused for a second, before breaking in to peals of embarrassed laughter.

"Ehehehe…who said I have…started?" Ash looked at her innocently.

"No one. I just assumed that those little packaged purple squares in your backpack aren't full of pixie dust." Misty nose was also decorated with a light red hue.

"I didn't even know you knew about stuff like that…"

"Yeah well I didn't, but um, for some reason…it's one of Brock's favourite conversation topics…it's like a fetish with him or someth-"

"OK!" squealed Misty, looking disgusted. "Enough!" Silence returned for a few seconds, until she broke it. "Yeah well Ash, the fact that you've started your periods is not exactly something you say over breakfast when you're travelling with two guys all the time…"

"Exactly! Girl stuff!" Ash grinned triumphantly. "Just like I had guy stuff that I talked about with Brock." Misty sighed in defeat.

"I guess it's nice to have someone to talk to…all I have are…my sisters…" Misty made a face, and Ash laughed softly.

"I guess that's why you're such a brat most of the time Myst…repressed emotion!" Instinctively, Ash ducked, hearing a swish sound as Misty's mallet tore the air viciously a centimetre above his head. "Hey hey!" he sniggered. "Just provin' my point girl." Grunting in annoyance, Misty shoved her mallet back in to…wherever it magically appeared from. "Besides," Ash said, in his softer voice. "I said most of the time…" Misty looked up at him. Ash looked at her teal coloured eyes, practically brimming with…even he didn't know the word for what he saw in his friend's pretty eyes every day. After a while, he had begun to call it "Misty-ness". "You're not really being a brat right now."

The corners of Misty's mouth turned up into a smile, but she took her eyes away and focused them back out to sea. The corners of her eyes creased slightly as she strained to see as far out as possible.

"Ash?" she murmured, but not moving her eyes from the scenery.

"Uhuh?" he mumbled in reply.

"My parents died when I was 6. They drowned." She said the words simply, and her voice betrayed no emotion. It was like she had been trained to say it that way, like the words and expression had been drummed into her. "There, that's something you know that I haven't told anyone."

"I'm sorry Myst, I-I didn't want to, ya know-" With an agitated glare from Misty, Ash hurriedly rethought his wording. "-um, open up old wounds or something like that."

"Nah don't worry." Misty turned to face him again, a smile twisting on her lips. "They didn't like me much anyway." Ash's eyes widened in sympathy. She wasn't upset, but he felt it was an obligation as a friend, as her best friend, to comfort her.

"Hey Misty?"

"Yeah?"

"You can borrow my mom whenever you want." Misty's face creased up into a grin.

"Thanks Ash. Listen, I'm sorry for having a go at you for not telling me guy stuff."

"S'ok." Ash vigorously rubbed the sand off his legs, leaving red dots scattered over his skin. "We'd better go drag Tracey away from whatever he's doing. He probably saw a rock in the distance that resembled an Articuno and had a heart attack."

"Yeah." Misty motioned that where they were sitting was now awash with a shallow base of water. "Tide's coming in anyway."

Ash watched Misty flicking the sand off her bare skin. A jumble of words were all fighting to come out of his mouth, which was hanging open. "Shall we go-" Misty began.

"Pretty!" Ash blurted out. Misty stared at him blankly. Ash groaned. Of all the possible things to tell her…it didn't even make sense. "Um, pretty…" he repeated blushing, pulling at his own fingers. "I um, think you're pretty." Misty continued to stare at him blankly. "I - er, mean that…um, that's my…secret…that I'm telling you and I told Brock…"

Ash's face burned as he felt Misty's eyes on him. "Pretty…" he mumbled dejectedly, kicking gently at the sand. The sides of his eyes ached, as if he wanted to cry without tears. It was such a huge step for him to say that, and even though he hadn't known it before that instant, there was so much more he wanted to tell her, but couldn't…His mouth remained firmly closed, while his chocolate coloured eyes involuntarily begged her to read them straight from his mind.

"Ash?" Responding to his name, Ash looked up at Misty. Her hair was still wet, and hung in limp strands on her slightly reddened shoulders, which were adorned with droplets of water still. Her huge teal eyes bore into his dark ones as she silently assessed the situation. Slowly, of her arms reached up towards his face. Some instinct deep inside him told him to close his eyes and lean forwards…

"YEEEEEEEOUCH!" Ash screeched, jumping a mile into the air. He crashed down to earth with a thud, sending up a cloud of sand, temporarily blinding the astonished Misty. Her cheeks lightly burned as she realised what they had almost done, and her heart rate returned to normal. When the cloud of sand had settled, she saw Ash sitting on the sand wailing and holding his toe, which was swollen up like a balloon and turning purple. She stifled a giggle.

"Kooo kee kooo kee." The offending Kingler scurried away behind the sand dunes.

"Oh come on you big baby," Misty grabbed the still wailing Ash by the scruff of his collar and dragged him back to camp.

~*~

With difficulty, seeing as his toe was heavily bandaged, Ash stole away from the sleeping campsite and hobbled as near as he could to the beach. It was now awash with silvery water, and it caressingly ebbed around the ankle of his uninjured foot. His cheeks flushed again at the memory of that afternoon, even though it seemed like a lifetime ago as he stood alone on the quiet stretch of sand under the moonlight.

Maybe he'd try it again on a beach in Trovita. It just seemed so right earlier.

Yeah, he'd try again in Trovita.