Disclaimer – I don't own anything. A girl can dream though.

Author – Warlordess

Notes – A response to a meme request I posted on my Tumblr. Someone asked me to write for Pokeshipping using the quote, "tell the truth". I liked the idea so much that I decided I wanted to write both Ash and Misty saying it which means this fic actually became somewhat legitimate and not only a few hundred words long like I was originally intending it to be. I also somewhat psych Ash out at the beginning. You'll see what I mean if you keep reading.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy! Please review if you can so I know you Pokeshippers still exist out there!

OoO

Title – "A Splash of Candor"

Summary – Time is hard to make and change is hard to accept. As Ash feels it all try to take him over at once, he makes a mistake in his relationship with Misty. Luckily time and change offer him a second chance to make things right. Let's hope Misty does the same. Pokeshipping one-shot.

OoOoO

"Ash…"

She sighs and leans in and you think – for just one moment – that she's going to do something intimate like kiss you even though that seems highly unlikely because it's not like the two of you are an item or dating or anything. In fact, you'd barely seen anything of each other until fairly recently when you'd returned home from your latest journey to another region – after successfully winning the league there – and were waiting for the official letter dictating the date of your induction ceremony as the new Kanto Pokemon Champion.

It's pretty late, the gym is shut down for the evening, the lighting is currently low, and you and your best childhood friend, Misty Waterflower have just finished a swim in the pool along with the rest of your water-adaptable Pokemon. You've kept things as casual as possible because otherwise you start venturing into unnaturally edgy territory (things like looking at her too long in her swimsuit or telling her that you missed her – which she'd mock you for because, let's face it, that's just how you both try to keep things from getting too serious when no third party is around to stop that from happening, and you're extremely grateful for it).

All of these thought processes and possible scenarios don't stop your rabid heartbeat, from your eyes trailing over her form, and you wish desperately for Pikachu to Thundershock you – which would hurt about ten times more than it normally would since, you know, water, but at least it would distract you both from current events which would be kind of nice and, and hey, what's she doing anyway?

She's leaned over so far that your foreheads are touching now and you're so flush red you might just spontaneously combust from the impact of her skin on yours, even when it's something as simple as this.

"Ash, why have you been visiting me so much?" she whispers softly, as if attempting to both coax the words from you and yet still willing to keep them secret for you.

"I, uh, well, you know… how long it's been. I was just…"

"No, Ash, you need to tell me. You need to be honest. Tell the truth," she speaks firmly now, breaking the contact you'd had and drawing away, staring you in the eyes with an intense and complicated expression on her face.

"I don't know what… I mean… I just… I can't…"

"Because you don't know? Because you don't want to make things weird? Things have always been weird for us, Mr. Pokemon Master, ever since we were kids. Is it because you don't want any additional strings attached just in case you end up leaving for extended periods of time? Is it because this is so new that you're not sure how to build upon it?"

"No, I mean, maybe it's more… I don't know!"

"But you do. I know you do. I see the way you watch me. I see the way you smile at me when you think I'm not paying attention. The hope on your face when I compliment you, the dread and frustration on your face when I tell you off because I have the power to hurt you and, god forbid, if I do that then your world might crumble from under your feet. Do you know why?"

"I… That's not tr – why, Misty?"

"Because I am your world. I've become so large a part of your world that it's eating you up inside keeping this to yourself, neglecting me, avoiding me, yet still praying that I continue reaching out to you as frequently as possible because you need me there or else everything we've made together over the years dies. It just… goes… as if it was never even there."

"You don't… I mean, I wouldn't let… Argh, Myst, why are you…? How did we start talking about this? I don't want to… to talk about this! I have other things on my mind! I have things I need to do before I can think about you like that! Before I can let you in that much!"

"But you know, Mr. Pokemon Master, time waits for no one. You only have so much of it before it's gone forever and you've lost your chance. And have you ever known me to try and stop you from pursuing your dreams? Because you know that I never would."

"I do… I mean, I know but… sometimes… it feels like… when I think of you, something wells up so intensely inside me that… I can't think of anything else. And I don't know what to do," you exclaim desperately, grasping at your chest as it burns so hot that you think the fire is literally visible between the two of you. "I'm worried that you'll… consume all of me… and there will be nothing left for my other goals to take."

"Oh Ash, you idiot… That's just your soul wishing that you'd be honest."

And she leans in again, interlocks her fingers with yours, and draws your hand away from your heart before embracing you

Suddenly you snap awake from a dead sleep and whirl around in the dark before your vision starts to clear and pick up on the distant lights from the crack in the hospital room door. You turn around once more and stare at the figure in the bed, the silhouette whose hand you were just grasping so tightly you'd forgotten you were holding on at all because it felt like it was naturally connected to the rest of your limbs.

"Misty," you mutter, though she makes no indication that she's heard you.

And you realize now why you'd have such a cryptic dream.

OoO [change pov] OoO

"She's healed just fine physically but her persistent lack of consciousness had made us worry. How are you feeling, Miss Waterflower?"

"Uh, I'm… My head hurts and I don't really… remember much… It's kinda fuzzy… but just fine other than that."

"Your memory should clear up as time," you watch Ash flinch in response to the word, "passes. We're still a little concerned about your concussion so we're going to keep you at least overnight for monitoring. We've informed your sisters and they said they'd visit later on today. Please call a nurse to let us know if your headache gets any worse, alright?"

"Um, yeah. Thanks for your help, doctor," you say kindly yet absently as you warily eye your best friend and his awkward movements in the background.

Once the doctor has gone and left you two (and Pikachu) alone, you turn a stern gaze on him and ask the question that's been bugging you for ages.

"Ash Ketchum, what are you even doing here?"

"What am I…? Are you serious, Misty? Your sister called me yesterday and said that you slipped off the diving board at the gym and knocked yourself out – smooth move, by the way. Daisy told me that you had been taken to the hospital but that Lily and Violet were out of town and she had to run the gym so she wanted me to come stay with you so you wouldn't be here alone."

"Oh-ho-ho, really? So now you care, huh? Because you certainly never did over the past eight or so months you were on the road. Not one email. Not one phone-call. Really, Ash? That's what's become of our friendship? The only way I even knew you were still alive is because I called Brock and your mom and asked about you myself! Low and behold, hah," you laugh bitterly at his obvious discomfort as he shuffles his feet and lets the guilt wash over him, "they've been in complete contact with you this whole damned time! Lucky them! I can only imagine what that feels like!

"So yeah, Mr. Pokemon Master, that's why I dare to ask the question. Why are you here? Why now? And it better be so you can apologize or else I will hop out of this bed right now and…"

"And what?" he asks, looking up at you and noting how you've started groaning and curling into your own body for comfort from the sheer quaking pain in your head. "Misty? A – are you okay?" he continues urgently, walking forward despite your best efforts to glare at him the message that he'd better keep his distance from you if he knows what's good from you but he either doesn't understand or chooses to ignore it as he reaches your side and takes your hand in his as firmly yet softly as possible.

You breathe deeply until the stressful frustration fades and the pain dies down again before thinking to yourself how nice Ash is acting and how oddly natural it is to have his hand holding yours. Not natural in the romantic sense of the word, but natural as in… it almost feels like your hand has grown accustomed to being held by him.

Well, that's weird.

You're staring so intently and incredulously at your interlocked limbs that you don't realize Ash is gazing at you just as strongly.

"I'm here b – because I… c – care about…" he starts before you can get into it again, but his broken statement is enough to cause you to look him in the eye for the first time since you'd woken up and seen him at the door asking for the nearest nurse to find your doctor before facing you with an expression of the utmost relief on his face.

"I – I mean, I just… There was nobody… but that's not why… Ugh, why…? Why is this so hard?" he asks nobody in particular though you feel the frustration starting to take hold of you again anyway. Thankfully he seems to notice and stands up from the seat he'd taken when he was making sure you were okay before, though that means that the comforting contact that comes from you holding each other's hands fades too when he lets go. "Do you know why I wasn't emailing or calling you, Misty? It's because… for a really long time now, things have been… hard between us. Talking to you is so difficult and it hurts when I hang up the phone or send the message because I know it could be a very long wait before I hear back from you.

"For the longest time, I was just… okay with you not being there. You were still my friend, one of my best friends, and we still chatted regularly, and you were still an important part of my life… But then… I don't know… It was just… different. Our conversations were shorter, rarer, and it wasn't okay anymore. I'm not… even now… I'm not okay. I miss you being around. I miss us being together. I just… miss… I don't know. So I stopped talking to you because I kept thinking about you all the time and it was making Pokemon battling harder to focus on and I can't let that be how things are, you know? So I decided to put some distance between us. I thought that'd be better…"

"Ash…" you murmur at him as he finally stops his pacing, inhales deeply – almost strategically, and regains his seat with a newly deflated-looking posture.

"Then Daisy called a – and I didn't even answer because I thought it was you… So she left a video voicemail and then… she really let me have it when I finally called back. I'm sorry, Myst. I didn't think… I definitely never thought… that this would happen."

You stare him down as he wallows in his shame at what has become of you two. And everything, you know, is going to be fine. Everything is all too much instantly crystal clear.

"Ash, you need to tell me. You need to be honest. Tell the truth."

His reaction to this statement is rather admittedly interesting but you choose not to acknowledge it since you've got bigger Magikarp to fry.

"How… Why are you saying that now?"

"Because, even though I already know it, I need to know that you know it. I need to hear it. So tell me in full why you stopped talking to me and why you're here with me now."

"You need to – but Misty, I don't know what I'm supposed to say. I don't know…"

"You do too, Ash. I can tell that you're just scared of it, you think it'll change things and why change what's always been okay and not-broken right? Like they say. But… change is just something that we have to put up with. And change isn't a bad thing. So tell me."

"I just… it's…" The words don't come at first as he tries desperately to force them out and your heartbeat quickens in expectation. The moment you've been waiting for since you were thirteen. After all, ever since you left him behind in Viridian City, you've known how he feels about you.

"I'm just crazy about you, okay? I… I love you. I don't know why it hurts this much to feel this way so I tried to shake it off or knock it out by leaving you alone for a few months but… it didn't help. Instead I started dreaming about you, or else faced entire nights where I couldn't sleep. I binge-ate or skipped meals. I just… I wasn't myself. I think I may need you… in order for me to be me."

"Alright, Mr. Pokemon Master. Thank you for telling me."

"… Th – that's it? That's all you're going to say? No, Misty, that's not how this works! I just flew overnight to make sure you didn't die on me, I just bared my soul to you after you pushed and pushed me to do that! I deserve some honesty just as much as you so why don't you tell the truth too!"

The two of you stare evenly at each other before your defenses crack and you wrench your gaze in another direction, staring at the small rise in the threaded blanket where your feet are propped toes-up at the bottom of your bed.

"Fine, Ash," you say upon giving in, "You want the truth? The truth is that, for a good five years now, I've been nursing some of the most annoyingly acute feelings for you. I told myself at first that I was an idiot for thinking that way because, you know, you were my first friend and that stuff never works out, but more than that… you were so focused on battling and your goal of becoming a Pokemon Master that I was sure you'd never even try to see me – or any other girl – in that way. Then, a little after the time I'd accepted how I felt about you, I was told that I had to go back home and I thought to myself that I wouldn't even get the chance to see if… Well, anyway, so I left for Cerulean and we kept in touch. Things were good, things were okay… until, like you said, they weren't anymore. And do you know why?

"Because you, Mr. Pokemon Master, decided to ignore me for over half a year. Because you were scared or uneasy and – hah – I can't help laughing about that, about how much of a coward you are when I think about how I've put up with the exact same feelings for years longer than you! What right do you even have to shut me out, Ash Ketchum? Weren't we best friends? Didn't you claim that it wasn't coincidence that you met me the day you left home to start your journey? Wasn't I important to you at all?

"You know for a fact that I would never push you to abandon your dreams of becoming a Pokemon Master! You know me, Ash. So if you want honesty, here it is. I am furious that you would brush me aside just to try and keep a solid grasp on your dream career. I am pissed that my existence in your life is so insignificant that you can do that without batting an eye, without letting me in on anything, because you think that's for the best. I am so inconceivably outraged that despite my anger – the months I spent wondering, the weeks I spent worrying, the days I spent confident that everything between us was completely fine and normal, until it wasn't anymore – that I am so easily willing to forgive you and move on because here we are at the crux of change in our relationship and I'm… I'm not going to be the one who passes this up because I happen to be upset at you over a stupid, impulsive decision you made for fear that I would somehow change your priorities just by telling you how I feel about you… How I've felt since I was twelve years old."

"Since you were… That was… Misty… I'm sorry."

"You should be, Mr. Pokemon Master. And I'm glad you have the humility to say so. You're an idiot."

"… But you still love me? Even after all of this?"

"As long as you decide to at least run by anymore stupid-ass decisions you're hoping to make by me first so I can screen and veto them when necessary."

"Just how many of those types of decisions are you – uh, I mean," he pauses and restarts at the look on your face, "sure, Myst."

"Good. Then we're fine," you affirm and are actually greatly pleased to watch his shoulders slump in ease.

"We're okay?" he asks, just to make sure and you offer him the smallest of pardoning smiles in response.

"Better than."

And so you let the change cometh.

OoOoO

Notes – So there that is, completely unplanned, completely unedited.

I've decided that I'll probably start using my blog as a means of taking fanfic requests for my OTPs (as in I won't necessarily only write for meme requests that I solicit from followers but that anyone can shoot me an ask and ask me to write something for them), at least until I can think of another project worth undertaking. Ever since I finished Fallidays, I haven't really had anything I want to work on… though I may go back to writing one of my unfinished fics in the meantime if I can come up with the inspiration and flow needed to do so. I found some hand-written notes I'd made on Ash's Nightmare but have since lost track of them again so I have to look for them when I have the chance…

Anyway, I hope everyone liked this and that you'll grace me with a review and let me know what you think!