Where The Road Takes Us
Road Trip AU Challenge from Holly

Misty practically bounced in the driver's seat, belting out the lyrics of the song that was blaring on the radio. She had her window down, her hair blowing back from the wind, but she didn't care that people were looking at her like she was crazy. Then again, the people in Pallet Town probably thought a 17-year-old blasting music from her car while speeding through the narrow streets was downright scandalous.

She drummed her fingers against the steering wheel as the song faded. Her pink lips spread into a smile as she turned down the radio and slowed down. She flicked her sunglasses up a bit as she peered over the white, picket fence at the teenage boy. Misty watched him struggle, trying to pull a stubborn weed out of his mother's prized garden. He had definitely been there for a while, judging from the sweaty t-shirt that clung to him.

Despite her car's motor, he didn't look her way. When he shifted though, Misty saw the earbuds in his ears and realized that he probably could hear the dull hum of the engine. Her smile turned into a positively devious smirk as she inched the vehicle a little closer to him and raised her hand up into the air dramatically. Misty waited for a moment to see if he'd notice her at all, but he didn't even so much as glance her way.

She slammed her hand down on the horn, and burst into laughter as she watched Ash jump and yelp. The weed that he was struggling with came loose, and he ended up stumbling back to the ground in a shower of soil.

Ash spluttered, trying to get the dirt out of his mouth as he sat back up, letting the weed fall to the ground. He pulled the headphones out of his ears and looked over the fence. "Why?"

Once again she pushed up her sunglasses so he could see her eyes. "Get in loser, we're going on a road trip!"

Ash stood up and stared at her as if she had suddenly sprouted two extra heads like a Hydreigon. "What?"

Misty rolled her eyes. "A road trip. You know, like how you normally travel around except we'll be in a car going to one specific place?"

"I know what a road trip means, smartass," Ash replied with a pout, leaning against the fence. "But, why?"

Misty practically bounced in her seat. "You must have heard about the meteor shower that's supposed to happen at the end of the week?"

"Yeah! Professor Oak offered for mom, Tracey and I to go up to this observatory with him!" Ash replied excitedly.

Almost instantly, Misty seemed to deflate. "Oh, well, that was nice of him."

Ash tilted his head at her obvious change of demeanor. "You can come too, if you want!"

Misty's lips parted, intending on telling him to keep his pity to himself, but now he was practically bouncing from genuine excitement. Instead of snapping, a small smile spread across her face. She cleared her throat, glancing away from him. "Actually, I was wondering if you wanted to…well you obviously don't have to if you don't want to but I just thought I'd ask because you know it'd be a lot of fun and it's been a while since we hung out…so yeah it'd be fun and what do you think?"

Ash blinked and then his brow furrowed. "Way to ramble."

"I am not!" Misty snapped, glowering at him.

Ash rolled his eyes. "Course not. That's why you didn't actually – you know – ask me whatever it is you wanted to ask."

They stared at one another, a smirk spreading across Ash's lips as Misty's face slowly turned pink and she bit her lip.

"Ugh!" Misty broke the silence first, and Ash mentally applauded himself for holding on since he was just about to snap. "I know this really awesome spot to see the meteor shower, but it's a pretty far drive and would take a couple days. I wanted to know if you wanted to come."

Ash's eyes lit up. "Like a roadtrip?"

"Yeah!" His reaction was encouraging, prompting her to shrug off her embarrassment and nervousness. "If you want to. We can stop at different places on the way over. You know, take the time to see some sights instead of just wandering around the wildness blindly."

"That sounds awesome!" Ash pumped his fist, but a second later his excitement left him. "But Pikachu…"

"What about Pikachu?" Misty looked around from her seat, trying to spy the yellow creature. Now that she thought about it, it was strange he hadn't jumped through the window to greet her yet.

"He's sick," Ash explained. "Nothing bad but Professor Oak said to keep him inside, warm and everything."

"Oh," Misty cooed sadly. Making sure her car was actually in park and not neutral, she turned it off and got out, stretching her legs and arms. She looked around at Ash, her cheeks warming when she caught him staring. Misty cleared her throat. "Can we go see him?"

Ash smiled warmly. "Yeah, come on!" He grabbed her hand in his dirty one, pulling her towards his mother's house. Throwing open the door, he kicked off his dirty shoes. "Ma! Misty's here!" Ash tugged her further into the house, just barely giving her the chance to get her own shoes off.

Delia met them half way to the stairs. She took one glance at them and scowled. "Ash Ketchum the only place you better be going is the shower! You're absolutely filthy, young man!"

Ash looked down at himself, quickly letting go of Misty's hand when he realized just how grimy he really was from the combination of soil, grass stains and sweat. He rubbed the back of his head. "I…um…sorry." His embarrassment faded when he saw the bundle in his mother's arms shift. "Hey buddy, you feeling better?"

"Chuu," Pikachu muttered tiredly, but his ears perked up a bit when he caught sight of the other person. "Pikachupi!"

Delia looked up, only now noticing the thin redhead standing behind her son. "Oh! I'm sorry, Misty! I got completely distracted by this mess and forgot he said you were here!" She nodded her head towards Ash, who whined in response. Delia looked over at him. "Are you done with the garden?"

"Yeah, I got it done like I said I would!" Ash replied, puffing his chest out slightly.

"Thank you," Delia smiled at him. "Go get a shower."

"But…Misty's here." Ash motioned to her.

"Which is why you need to get one." Delia shook her head, almost amused by her son's confusion. "Go on now, Pikachu and I can entertain Misty, right?"

"Pika," Pikachu nodded and reached out to the young woman in question.

Misty smiled and cooed at Pikachu as she took him from Delia's arms. "Oh you poor thing. You have a fever, don't you?"

"Chuu."

Misty glanced up when she heard Ash chuckle. Her stomach felt like it was twisting inside of her, because she had never seen a smile like that on his face. She couldn't even really explain what it looked like, just that it was different.

He quickly turned and hurried upstairs to have a shower. Misty stared at the hall for a moment before Delia's voice broke the silence. "Would you like a drink, Misty?" The redhead looked around, a bit embarrassed by Delia's knowing smile.

Pikachu snickered in her arms and she shot the pokemon an annoyed look. She couldn't be surprised that he was picking up on his trainer's teasing habits after all these years.

An idea suddenly came to her. "Sure! Say, you know that meteor shower that's supposed to happen? I was wondering if I could talk to you about it.

"Are you sure he'll be okay?" Ash asked for about the hundredth time, turning around and looking out the rearview window. "I mean, I know my mom's there, but maybe we should go back just to make sure."

Misty snorted, keeping her eyes on the road in front of them. "You sound like a finicky mother who left her kid for the first time. Your mother will be fine with Pikachu and he was okay with it too."

"Yeah, but what if he was just saying that because I wanted to go?" he asked, turning from the back of the car so that he was sitting properly.

Misty almost wanted to mock him, but the worry in his voice was so genuine, so Ash that she couldn't find it in her to do it. Taking one hand off of the steering wheel, she reached out and put it on his hand. "Ash, Pikachu will be completely fine. You know that."

Ash's arm stiffened before he relaxed. "I know. I'm just not used to going anywhere without him anymore."

"Well, don't you worry!" Misty gave his hand another squeeze and pulled away. "Where we're going is really awesome and if we see some things along the way we can stop! This is going to best the most amazing road trip ever! Look in the glove compartment!"

Ash opened the small space up and pulled out bunch of pamphlets. Falling silent, he started to look through them, raising an eyebrow. "Do you have these colour coordinated? You really need time away from the gym and paper work."

Her cheeks turned pink. "So what? I'm organized! Look at you, you could use more organization in your life!"

"Good thing I have you," he replied with a cheeky smile. Misty gaped at him for a moment, but he wasn't paying attention, looking over her list of things to see. "What the hell? There's a giant ball of yarn?"

"Yeah!"

"Seriously?"

"If you don't wanna see it—."

"Are you kidding?" Ash cut her off, staring incredulously. "It sounds crazy so of course I do!" He paused. "Wild Meowth and Persian must love it."

Misty laughed loudly. It wasn't even that funny, but she just wanted to laugh and have fun with her best friend.

Even though they had just left, she was already glad that she invited him on this road trip.

….

Day One.

Misty really regretted bringing Ash on this road trip. More specifically, she really regretted letting him look at the pamphlets and maps. He had gotten all excited about some other attraction that they hadn't even thought about while traveling through Kanto, and his enthusiasm over it was too great for her to deny.

Misty didn't mind taking detours. She did mind getting hopelessly lost, especially as the sun started to set. From her plan, they should have already been at the Pokemon Center, but no, they were still going along some sketchy back road.

Ash and Misty were both experienced campers and had little qualm sleeping outdoors. The problem was that it had started to pour about fifteen minutes ago and showed little signs of slowing down. It was even getting hard to see.

She yawned as she stared out the window. Ash made a sound like he was going to start a conversation, but her sharp glare stopped him. He slumped back in his seat, cheeks turning pink. It was silent for a moment before he decided to ignore her glare and say what was on his mind. "I'm sorry. I got us all lost again."

Misty's severe expression started to vanish at how genuinely upset with himself he sounded. "It's okay. It happens." She yawned again.

"Pull over," Ash said suddenly. "Just over there, in the tress so no one flies down here and hits us."

"And do what? We can't get a tent up now." She motioned to the rain. "Sleep in the car?"

"It's better than you getting tired and hitting something." Misty must have been tired because that idea was completely logical and sensible. It wouldn't be any sort of comfortable to sleep in her car, but at the rate things were going, she would end up slamming into a tree.

Finding a suitable spot, Misty slowly turned off the road, pulling far enough in the trees so that nothing would hit them. Turning off the car, she unbuckled her seatbelt and stretched out, wincing as her joints cracked. "I sound like an old lady."

"You are an old lady," Ash joked, laughing at her glare. He started fiddling with the seat until he got the back to lean so that he could lie back on it.

Misty glared at him before twisting to move her seat into a similar position. She opened a window just slightly so they'd have some fresh air without letting the water in.

She flopped back and looked over at Ash as he stretched out and moved his hands behind his head. He shifted a bit, looking at her with a sheepish smile. "I'm sorry I got us lost out here."

Misty sighed and twisted onto her side so that she could completely see him. Ash mirror her movement so that they were facing one another. She shook her head and said, "It's alright. We've gotten into worse situations." A yawn escaped her lips.

"Go to sleep," Ash laughed. "We have all week to talk, right?"

"Yeah," Misty agreed. Butterfree erupted in her stomach at the thought. "We do." Sh shifted a bit to try and get comfortable. "Good night, Ash."

"Night, Mist," he replied.

Ash was used to sleeping in strange places with different levels of comfort, so he was able to doze off easily. Misty on the other hand was now used to her nice warm bed, and shifted a lot. She looked at her friend enviously, wishing that she had his ability to just conk out absolutely anywhere.

It was only when she woke up that Misty realized she had fallen asleep at all. All she could remember was tossing and turning the entire night. Her tired eyes were still heavy, but the pain in her shoulders and neck from sleeping all bunched up stopped her from going back to sleep. Misty groaned and sat up, looking down at the fabric that pooled on her lap. She was confused for a moment, before realizing that it was the blue shirt that Ash wore over his black one. She looked over at him, a smile appearing on her lips.

Even if she couldn't sleep anymore, she'd give him a little more time to rest. As quietly as she could, Misty put on the shoes that she had kicked off the night before and stepped outside. Since she couldn't sleep, she might as well get ready for the day.

By the time Misty returned to the car, Ash was awake and putting the seats back up. At some point of time, he managed to clean himself up as best as he could so he didn't look like he spent the entire night in an ungodly uncomfortable car.

Ash smiled at her but then frowned. "You okay? You look all…" He bunched up his shoulders and then relaxed them again.

"Yeah, just got a couple kinks in in my neck. Remind me never to sleep like this again." Despite her discomfort, Misty still laughed. She was in a surprisingly bright mood that morning.

Ash's brow furrowed slightly as he walked towards her. Reaching out, he put a hand on her shoulder. "Here?"

"Well, in the back, but—what are you doing?" Misty's face turned red and she was mildly alarmed when Ash went around behind her and put his hands on her shoulders. "Are you trying to strangle me or something?"

He snorted. "Yes that's exactly it. You snore like an Exploud so I decided to wait until now to strangle you." He paused as he moved his hands. "I'm trying to help you work the kinks out. My fault we're out here anyway."

Misty protested a little bit, but it was half-hearted at best. It would be nice to be able to move her shoulders and neck properly again and it wasn't the first time that they had to help one another out with things like this. She was very proficient at popping shoulders back into sockets thanks to him.

They had to learn to be a team, even when they were arguing, when there was only them (and Brock, of course).

Tilting her head from side to side, Misty felt infinitely better. She turned around to thank Ash, and was instantly startled by the fact that he had yet to move away from her. It wasn't lost on Misty that he was slightly taller than her now (she just knew he would tease her about it when he actually realized it too), yet it did startle her a bit.

They just stared at one another for a moment, before Misty's cheeks turned pink. She cleared her throat and quickly took a step back from him. "We should – ah – get going. Yeah, go."

Ash blinked and then tilted his head as he watched her retreat to the driver's side door. He had absolutely no idea why she was so jumpy. Then again, he also had no idea why he felt the urge to stare at her, but it was like he couldn't look away.

Ash decided not to let that bother. He shook his head and headed back to the car.

Day two.

Misty peered over the top of her sunglasses with a raised eyebrow. Whatever she had been expecting, it certainly wasn't a giant grey ball of stuff on top of pedestal. People were milling all around her, excitedly talking and taking pictures of the object, and she didn't understand why.

"That," Ash spoke up from his spot beside her, "is a huge ball of yarn."

"It doesn't even look like yarn," Misty replied. Though Ash initially had been joking about stopping there, she needed a break from driving and they were nearby so it seemed like a good idea.

Though Ash also not being lazy and getting his license so they could switch next time they decided to do this was also a good idea. Not that she was particularly keen on letting him get behind the wheel of a speeding, metal, death trap.

"It has to be yarn, it's called the Giant Ball of Yarn," Ash pointed out, basically shoving the brochure that he procured at some point of time, under her nose. "See."

"I'm just saying, it really doesn't look like yarn! I've used it before for knitting and—."

"You knit?" Ash stared at her as if she just told him that she was actually a part of Team Rocket.

Her face turned red, but she hid her embarrassment behind intimidation. Misty put her hands on her hips, narrowing her eyes at him. "Of course I can!" Well, she had tried to knit a scarf for him but it didn't work out (at all). Not that she was going to admit that.

"Since when?"

"I happen to have a lot of talents you don't know about, Ash Ketchum." He raised an eyebrow at her. "Don't give me that look!"

Ash was about to reply when they heard a chuckle from behind them. Turning around, the duo found an old woman clutching an old polaroid camera in her hands. "You two wanna picture?"

Their brewing argument forgotten, Ash became positively giddy. "Sure! Come on, Mist!" She yelped as he grabbed her arm and practically dragged her over to the giant ball of yarn.

"It looks less like yarn up close," Misty pointed out.

"Stop being grumpy." Ash tossed his arm over her shoulder casually. "Pose and smile for the camera!"

"I'm going to beat you if you don't stop manhandling me." She tried to duck from under his arm but Ash just laughed and ended up throwing his other arm around her, essentially hugging her from behind. "Gah! Get off me you big goof!"

"You're so grumpy." Ash laughed.

Misty twisted around and poked his side. He jerked back slightly and laughed, but then tried to grip her so that she couldn't try to hit his ticklish spots. By this time, Misty was laughing along with him, if only at how ridiculous they were being.

She looked up at him with a broad smile on her face, still stifling giggles as she met his gaze. The sudden flash startled both of them, and they looked back around at the old lady with the camera.

"Oh, you two are just an adorable couple," the woman gushed.

Misty's face turned red and she quickly stepped out of Ash's arms. He was never holding her that tightly and would have let go of her if she were really uncomfortable, something she had known the entire time. She tugged at the bottom of her shirt a bit and glanced over at Ash to see his reaction.

The teenager just stared blankly at the old woman. "Huh?"

Misty huffed and looked away from him, leaning back onto the giant ball behind her. "No, we're not—why does this feel silky? And sticky?" She backed away from the ball of yarn.

"Oh, well, you see, there's a bit of false advertising with this. We own the place but no one listens when we tell them it's not yarn. It's spun by Spinarak and Ariados and they actually live inside of it! See, there's one right there!" The old woman happily pointed above Misty's head.

Ash spun around to look up, instantly meeting the eyes of a curious Spinarak. Misty squeaked, and his attention shifted back to her. Her eyes were wide, her skin pale as she took a step back and then bolted back to the car.

The old woman, and several other people around, all turned to watch her go.

"Uhh…sorry about that…" Ash laughed and rubbed the back of his head. "She's…uh…."

The old woman just chuckled and handed him the developed picture. "You should probably go after your girlfriend."

"She's not my girlfriend!" Ash defended himself quickly.

The woman snorted. "Sure, and I'm not holding a camera." She shifted away to see if another person wanted their picture taken.

Ash looked at her camera, his brow furrowing as he tilted his head. He looked back down at the picture in his hand, studying it. He looked back around towards where Misty was waiting in the car, a mildly curious expression on his face. He glanced down at the picture one more time before putting it in his pocket and heading back to the car.

Day three.

Ash was horribly bored. There wasn't really anything to see or do during this stretch of the trip. It was just kilometers of grass with trees in the distance. He was leaning his head against the frame of the open window, his hair whipping into his eyes.

Misty was flipping through the radio. "Ugh, why is there nothing good on?"

"To spite us," Ash replied.

"Probably," she agreed. "Team Rocket probably took over the radio station just to play crappy music."

Ash heard a tune that made him perk up slightly. Misty was about to change the station again and he said, "Wait a sec! Don't you remember this one?"

Putting her hand back on the steering wheel, Misty listened for a moment before a smile spread across her face and she laughed. "Oh my Arceus! Brock used to sing this to so many girls!"

"Remember that one that threw the pie at his face?"

"She was one of the only ones he instantly gave up on because he said the pie was so bad!"

"He said it was worse than anything you made and that's…kinda impossible."

"Excuse you, Ash Ketchum." Misty shot him a dry look. "You're not one to talk."

"I overcook and burn things. You make them poisonous." He gently poked her arm and she swatted at him, earning a laugh in response.

"Jerk." Misty stuck her tongue out at him. "Fine, I'm never cooking anything. Ever!"

"Guess I'll have to learn how to make something sorta edible I mean, between you and me it'd have to be me, right? OR we'll starve for the rest of our lives."

Misty stared at the road for a moment before looking over at him briefly. "The rest of our lives?"

"Hmm?" His head lulled on the seat as he stared at her again. "Yeah."

She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel contemplatively. Then she smiled. "Sure, you can be the one to struggle to learn how to cook." She waited for him to catch onto the implication, but Ash just nodded his head happily in agreement.

Misty shook her head. This boy was going to unintentionally be the end of her.

Day four.

Ash was very fortunate in the fact that he didn't really get sunburns. He still put on sunscreen thanks to habits instilled into him by his persistent mother, but it wasn't really necessary. He could stretch out in the sun for hours without any problems.

Dressed in his swimming trunks, that was exactly what he planned on doing. He could hear his pokemon milling around, doing their own thing, and that was fine with him. He just wanted to take a nap in the warm sunlight.

Bubbly laughter rose up into the air, over the sound of the waterfall that they were by. Ash opened his eyes and tilted his head around to look over in the water.

A smile spread across his lips as he watched Misty in her natural element. She managed to climb up onto the rocks so that the water cascaded over her, laughing and almost dancing with her pokemon.

Ash shifted so that he wasn't twisted around awkwardly to watch her. His smile grew as she dove back into the water. Sometimes he swore that she was made to be a part of the ocean and just ended up on land by accident.

Without any warning, Misty popped up right in front of him. He jerked back so her head didn't crash into his but then relaxed. She smiled impishly at his reaction, resting her elbows on the shore. "Having fun?"

"Sure," he agreed. He wasn't not having fun by any means, he just wasn't doing much. Ash regarded her curiously. "You know, you're like a mermaid."

"Am I?" Misty asked, amusement spreading across her features as she leaned her chin on her hands. "Well I suppose I can swim."

Ash shook his head slightly, staring at her intently. "Not like how your sisters write their plays. You know, with the whiny girl that just wants a price and that junk. More like…those legends of the ones that were beautiful but also deadly and didn't let anyone mess with them, even…I dunno…luring unsuspecting men to their doom!"

Misty laughed at his enthusiastic description. Then something he said sunk in. "So I'm beautiful enough to lure unsuspecting men to their doom, huh?" Her voice was light and teasing, she wasn't making much of his statement this time.

So Misty was incredibly surprised when Ash's face suddenly burned red. His eyes flickered down for a moment before he pushed himself up abruptly. "Uh, you know…I mean…yeah…but uh…yeah." He looked almost horrified.

Though incredibly curious about his reaction, she chose not to be too direct. Tilting her head slightly, Misty eyed him, noting the way he was suddenly looking anywhere but at her. An idea came to her, but it was surely a stupid one. There was no harm in testing her theory though.

"What if I don't want to lure all of them to their dooms? What if I want to keep just one?"

Ash met her gaze with confused eyes. "Well…I'm sure you can put your mind to do whatever you want. You always have."

That wasn't quite the answer she was looking for, but it still pleased her quite a bit. "Good. There's one I might not want to let go of."

Ash pushed himself so that he was actually standing up now, scratching his burning cheeks. "I…um…water!" He motioned to the car and hurried off.

Misty smiled broadly and looked over at Marill, who popped up beside her.

"Mar marill?"

"Guess we'll have to wait and see." Misty allowed herself to drift into the water, floating on her back. Never once did the grin leave her features.

Day five.

The air was surprisingly cool that night. Probably because they were camping outside rather than in a Pokemon Center. It was always beautiful when they could stay indoors.

Neither of them were unfamiliar with this type of situation though. They fell into a simple routine where Misty started to set up a temporary fire pitt and Ash went looking for something to use as kindling. He came back with dry branches, leaves and other things. It took a little while, but they managed to get a roaring fire going.

They sat close in an attempt to ward off the cold, using long sticks to toast the marshmallows that Misty had packed for this very type of situation.

"When are you heading out again?" Misty asked Ash suddenly. He hummed curiously and she added, "To another region."

"Not sure," Ash admitted as he pulled his treat away from the fire before the flames could catch. "Maybe in a couple weeks."

"That's new for you."

Ash looked a little uncomfortable. He hesitated before admitting, "I've been a bit homesick lately when I leave. I just…I hate not being able to see you. All of you. It's easier when one person is staying in one spot and the others travel but people like May, Dawn, Cilan, Iris , Serena and everyone else? They're all over." He looked down, not realizing that he let his marshmallow dip back into the flames. "Especially my mom."

"Did you tell her that?"

He shook his head. "You're the only person I mentioned it to. Pikachu probably knows but I just…I dunno. I still want to travel and I love meeting new people and exploring new places but I think it'd be…well it'd be cool to have a place to just go back to that's just mine. Not even—this is going to sound stupid—not even with my mother. Just somewhere for me."

Misty reached out, pulling his marshmallow out of the fire again. Ash's eyes went wide when he saw the flames and he quickly brought it close to him to blow out.

Misty shifted closer to him. "You know, I've met some trainers lately who left home when they were only sixteen or so. So they're about our age but they just…it's not the same. You can always tell when a trainer left home younger." Ash looked at her curiously as he munched on the burning treat. "We grew up so fast. Even you." He rolled his eyes. "What you're talking about is having a home of your own. That's not something someone who just left home at our age would think about. Not in a serious way like that."

Ash thought about that for a moment. "You must see a lot of different trainers all the time."

"I do. It's one of the more interesting parts of being a Gym Leader," Misty picked her marshmallow off of the makeshift skewer.

"Mist…do you ever…do you ever think about being a Water Master still?" He hesitated, not quite sure how to approach thetopic.

Misty sighed, dropping her stick to the ground. "Sometimes. Sometimes I think about what I could do with it. Masters get all the funding they want to study pokemon, or to set up organizations and become involved in so many different things. I'd love to be able to do that. I just…" She hesitated. "I don't trust my sisters with the gym."

"You've been good with not calling them this week," Ash pointed out to her.

"Yeah, but they know under pain of death not to do anything stupid," Misty reasoned. She wasn't joking at all. "I…it's one of the few places that we have left that belonged to our parents. I don't want them to screw up and lose it. I am trying to help them take more responsibility." Misty sighed wistfully, leaning against him. "I'd love to take part in some of the Water Tournaments held in other regions. To explore and capture new pokemon, not just look at yours."

Ash's hand started to raise off of the ground, but then he hesitated. After a moment of indecision, he let his hand rest on her shoulder. "I'm sure you can whip them into shape."

"I hope so," Misty agreed. "You know, I really can't see you just staying home alone in an empty house. I think you'd go crazy." She let her head fall onto his shoulder. "You'd need a…friend at least. Someone to come back to, you know?"

Ash quickly looked down at her, confusion pulsing through him. He stared down at her, eyes gazing at her bright orange hair. An odd expression overtook his features as his eyes trailed over her. He was confused for a moment before that gave away to concern.

Then his eyes went wide with a sudden epiphany and his mouth opened in surprise.

Completely unaware of this, Misty titled her head back and looked up at him with a teasing smile. "Yeah, you'd definitely need someone to come back to, even if you might have to be the one cooking for them." She laughed lightly.

Ash watched her again, feeling much more nervous than he had earlier. Ash suddenly squeezed her shoulder and she glanced up again, her smile fading away when she saw how seriously he was staring at her. "I don't think I'd want it any other way."

Misty felt her heart leap into her throat. Did he even realize what he was implying? Probably not. Now she wasn't sure what she was supposed to stay. Instead, she laid her head back on his shoulder. Ash hesitated but then leaned his cheek on the top of her head.

Neither one realized that their hearts were both beating wildly.

Day six.

Misty inhaled, loving the smell of the ocean air. Despite the hustle and bustle of the boardwalk market that they were at, Misty still felt content and peaceful. This was one of the stops, along with the waterfalls, that she was really hoping to get to before the meteor shower was supposed to happen.

They could have just driven to their final destination and would have been there days ago, but so far, Misty found their roadtrip much more enjoyable.

"Mist!" She looked around as Ash hurried towards her, a bag with sort of fried food roll inside. "Try this! They're amazing! Kinda hot,"

She peered into the bag and laughed. "You're actually going to share your croquettes with me? Normally you're so greedy with them."

"Not if you're going to be like that." Ash tried to pull away but she quickly snatched one of them and bit into it. "Wa…it."

Misty coughed suddenly, swallowing the food as he eyes watered. "Oh wow, that's hot."

"I told you they were hot," Ash laughed.

"I thought you meant temperature hot, not spicy hot." She shook her head. "Wow. I mean, it was really good, but too spicy for me."

"There are lots of great things here." He reached out and grabbed her hand. "Come on, we can try a bunch of things instead of waiting to get into one of the restaurants!" Instead of protesting, or growling at him for dragging her places, Misty hurried along with him. How they didn't crash into anyone on the busy boardwalk was beyond her.

"Hey!" She tugged at his hand suddenly. "Lets try this!" Now she was dragging him over to a stand selling some kind of fried dough.

They went from stand to stand, buying smaller samples of different kinds of food so that they wouldn't fill up on one thing. Ash was incredibly happy when they found someone selling Casteliacones.

"I couldn't eat another thing," Misty laughed when he offered to get her one.

"Your loss," Ash replied. One he got his treat, they continued walking down the boardwalk. Misty led the way over to a railing, leaning on it and looking out over the water. Ash leaned on the railing beside her, and she looked up at him curiously. Ash was looking down at the water where a couple Goldeen were swimming around.

Using his distraction to her advantage, Misty suddenly snatched the Casteliacone out of his hand.

"Hey!" Ash cried out. "What happened to being full?" He tried to snatch it from her.

Misty danced out of his reached. "I am full but I still wanted to try it!" She tasted it and then smiled broadly. "It's good!"

"I know it is, so give it back!" Ash lunged for it again, trapping her between the railing and him. He managed to snap the Casteliacone back from her, holding it almost possessively.

"You're such a dork," Misty said with a laugh as she flicked his nose. He just scowled at her and backed up a little bit.

Once again, they stood in silence. Ash finished his treat and stretched out. "You know, you'd probably really like the Lumiose Galettes. They're really good!" His excitement waned a bit. "Though you can only get them in Lumiose City."

"I'd love to see Lumiose City," Misty gushed, clapping her hands together as she stepped away from the railing. "Actually, I'd like to see a lot of things in Kalos. The aquarium, the sundial, just…a lot of things."

Ash followed her as she walked and talked. He smiled softly and said, "Well, we'll go there some time!"

"You will?" Misty asked, turning around and staring at him.

"Sure, why not? I'd like to go back sometime too and see my friends. They'd all love you and it'd be fun to see things with a person that hasn't seen them before!" Ash laughed. "Besides, I like traveling with you."

A smile bloomed on Misty's face. "Alright! It sounds like fun!" She looked stopped walking and looked back down at the water. A part of her was almost tempted to leap in, since there were no railings blocking her way there. "You know, we might fight, but I really like traveling with you too."

Ash stared at her, watching the way the breeze made her loose hair brush against her face. She seemed so content and free, not at all stressed like she was when he talked to her on the phone. He liked this Misty a lot more.

Walking up to her side, he nodded his head. "We'll do things like this more often, okay? Hey, you can get your sisters whipped into shape and we can go to a region that you want to go to!"

"That I want to go to?" She raised an eyebrow at him. "What if I want to go to a region that doesn't have an official league? What would you do there?"

Ash tilted his head. "Train my pokemon. It's not like I'd quit or stop training." He looked down at the water, shoulders slumping a bit. "I know I was a jerk before, always doing what I wanted to do and now what you or anyone else wanted. I guess I got better with May and Dawn and everyone and it just made me feel bad with how much of a brat I was." He smiled again, straightening up and looking at her once again. "So yeah, if you wanna go somewhere and want someone to go with you. I will!"

Misty blinked away the happy tears that threaten to well up in her eyes. She was happy and flattered, but she was also incredibly proud. She never minded following Ash around while he fought for his dreams, because she was learning things about herself too. From the moment she saw how much he loved that silly little Caterpie, Misty had known that Ash Ketchum was someone special. It was one thing to see him grow as a trainer. It was another to see just how much he had grown himself, and she was so proud of him.

An urge welled up within Misty, one that she had been experiencing more often than not lately. She normally pushed it away, but in that moment, she really didn't want to. Misty was a brave girl, and she had been shying away from this for far too long.

Misty leaned up and pressed her lips to his warm cheek, perhaps a bit closer to his lips than she intended. Ash's entire body tensed as she pulled away, his entire face turning red as his hand jumped to his cheek. He stared at Misty with wide eyes. Surprising even herself, Misty stared back, smiling at him with pink cheeks.

Ash looked like he was trying to say something, but nothing would come out. He shifted, eyes darting away. When he looked back at her, there was something else in his eyes, similar to the determination that Misty saw when he was about to go into a pokemon battle. Ash shifted to take a step closer to her.

Except, when he set his foot down, it didn't meet the solid surface of the boardwalk. Ash yelped as gravity gripped him, tugging him down into the water. Misty yelled his name with alarm, kneeling down on the side of the boardwalk as he surfaced, spluttering water.

"Is he okay?" someone called from behind Misty.

A little Horsea popped up from the water, glared at Ash, shot a tiny bit of water at his face and then swam away.

He treaded water for a minute before looking up at Misty. The second his eyes met hers, they both burst into laughter.

"Yeah, he's fine."

Day seven.

Ash looked up at the cottage curiously. It was a small, structure with the basics of a kitchen, living room, washroom and two bedrooms downstairs. A single flight of stairs led up to a room that took up the entire second floor with several beds in it.

Misty explained that it was where the kids were supposed to stay while adults took the bedrooms downstairs.

"I could live in this place," Misty told him almost wistfully as she went out into the sunroom that overlooked the ocean.

Ash had to admit, it was pretty cool and he wouldn't mind coming to a place like this more often.

After bringing their bags inside, Misty insisted that they go down to the beach. There were surprisingly few people that wandered out onto the beach, and Ash barely noticed them since they were so far away.

"There are cottages all up and down this beach," Misty explained as she laid beside him on her towel. "My grandparents bought this one, and then it went to my mother."

"Who does it belong to now, Daisy?"

"Yeah." Misty nodded her head. "This is the first time I've been here since I was really little though. Really little." She glanced over at him and he tilted his head curiously. "The last time I was actually here was when my parents were still alive so I was just a small baby. There's a picture of all of us. Daisy said that the meteor shower would look awesome from here and said I should come." She twisted to look back at the cottage, a sad smile on her face. "I'm glad I did. Gives me something else aside from the gym to remember them by."

Ash frowned as he saw the sadness spread across her features. That wouldn't do at all. He got up and held his tanned hand out to her. Misty peered up at him curiously, taking his hand even though he didn't tell her anything. Ash tugged her to her feet and started walking towards the shore. Misty had no idea what was going on, but he was still holding her hand as they walked into the shallow water.

Without warning, Ash suddenly picked her up. The next thing she knew, the cold ocean water assaulted her as he tossed her in.

"Ash Ketchum!" Misty screeched as she surfaced, her face livid. "I'm going to kill you!" He smiled impishly, and she all but lunged at him. Ash laughed loudly and took off down the shore, but they were in her element and it didn't take long for her to tackle him into the waves, sadness completely forgotten.

Misty's cheeks were sore from laughing and smiling as she sat on the wet sand, her feet still in the water. Ash fell beside her, equally amused. His smile vanished and he shifted a bit, reaching pulling a broken shell from under his leg. "Ow, that's sharp."

"Oh!" Her eyes went wide as she sat up. "I never told you about the tradition, did I?"

"Tradition?"

"Yeah! Remember that chest in the living room? The one you said looks like a treasure chest?"

Ash squinted in thought but then nodded. "Yeah. What about it?"

"Well, Daisy said that the family tradition is that every time someone comes to the cottage, they collect shells and everyone writes their name along with the date that they were there and put it in the chest!" Misty explained excitedly.

"That sounds cool!" Ash stood up again, not caring about the sand that stuck to him. "Lets do that!" He darted off down the shore to look for a good enough shell.

Misty shook her head as she watched him go, getting up to trail after him. He'd probably end up tripping and bashing his head in or something like that if she just let him run around without supervision.

She found a couple, small shells that she liked. She was looking at one with yellow speckles in it when Ash abruptly came up to her side. Misty stood up straight, very much aware of the fact that personal space had quickly become a thing of the past when he was excited.

"Look at this one!" Ash showed her a white shell that almost seemed to shine in the sun. "It's bigger so we can both put our names on it. I mean, it doesn't sound like your family's tradition but it'll show that we were here together."

"I like that idea," Misty said, leaning on him a bit as she took the shell from him. "Come on, lets go sign our names and get some food!" The mention of food was enough to spur Ash into action again, earning a laugh from Misty.

As the sun set and the air cooled, they brought a giant blanket outside and set it across the sand, using rocks to keep it down. Misty looked at the time on her phone and knew that they'd have to wait a little while before they could see the meteor shower.

"There!" Ash said happily, holding the shell out in front of him. In his messy Torchic-scratch writing, he managed to inscribe 'Ash & Misty' along with the date.

Misty leaned her chin on his shoulder to look at it. "Well, you can sort of tell what it says."

"You're hilarious," Ash said as he rolled his eyes.

"You know you love me," Misty teased him. Ash tensed up a bit, his smile fading just slightly. At first she was confused, but then she thought about what she said. Her heart raced a bit as she thought about the entire week. It was easily the most fun she remembered having in a long time. She loved the gym but it was tasking to keep it up to standards on her own. Their road trip wasn't just to hang out with her friend, it was for her to take a break too.

Without the hesitation that she experienced the day before, Misty once again leaned up and pecked Ash's cheek. She watched his face once again turn red as his hand snapped up, fingers brushing against the warm skin. She grabbed their shell that he dropped, moving it out of the way so he wouldn't set his hand down and break it.

"Thank you, Ash. For everything." She started fiddling with her hair before looking down at the blanket, suddenly bashful again.

Something strange bloomed inside of Ash, something he couldn't put into words to save his life. His heart was beating so powerfully in his chest that he could hear it. He shifted a bit on the cool sand, reaching out and placing his slightly sweaty palm on her shoulder.

Misty jumped at the contact and looked up at him, eyes wide.

"Um—we—I just—I mean…" Ash trailed off, not having a clue what he was trying to say. He couldn't figure out how to string the words together, not that he even knew what those words might have been. He studied her face, as if looking for answers, eyes falling to her lips. An idea, more of a small suggestion of an idea, rose up in him, causing Ash's cheeks to redden even more. "Do you think—would it be okay—I mean—it's okay if it's not—but—um—do you think—well—I—I mean I'd really like to…"

Ash continued to ramble on, and Misty stared at him, her surprise shifting to disbelief as her own small idea popped into her head. Misty knew that Ash wasn't a particularly complicated person, so she was pretty sure she knew what he was trying to ask, given the situation.

Misty's moment stopped Ash's ramble. Ash gulped nervously as she got so close to him that he could distinguish the flecks of oceanic blue and green in her irises. Her cheeks were pink as she whispered, "Yes."

The part of Ash that was concocting this crazy plan suddenly stopped working. He hadn't been expecting (though he'd been hoping, even if he didn't realize it) to hear her say yes. Now he had no idea what to actually do. His mind ran through a thousand different things in a split second.

Until one incredibly eloquent thought rose up: screw it.

The space between them vanished as Ash kissed her. A noise of surprise and discomfort escaped Misty from the force that caused her lip to ram into her tooth. She jerked, more from surprise than anything, smacking her nose into his. Ash hissed in pain and quickly moved back. Misty pressed her hand to her lip while Ash's was against his nose.

They stared at one another before a smile stared to cross Misty's face. She tried to hide it, but that just made him smile more. In turn, laughter started to bubble up in her chest, and while trying to suppress that she ended up snorting. Ash erupted into laughter, and that set Misty off. She leaned forward, her forehead pressing against his shoulder as she convulsed.

One of Ash's hands was on the ground, keeping them propped up, the other rested on her shoulder as they laughed. He nuzzled his face into her hair as he tried to quiet down. It took a while, but he was able to calm himself with a final deep breath.

Misty moved away just slightly, smiling before she slowly shifted forward, tilting her head so she wouldn't hit him. Ash met her half way through the small distance, pressing his lips to hers gently.

Smooth, warm lips tasted of salt water from their dive in the ocean. Misty wasn't quite sure when she closed her eyes, and Ash wasn't quite sure when his hand slid from her shoulder to cheek. What Misty did know was that her skin felt like it was burning under his fingers, and what Ash did know was that his pulse had gone into overdrive.

They pulled away at the same time, far enough to breath but close enough so their noses brushed against the other just slightly.

Misty felt like she had run a marathon as she tried to catch her breath, her cheeks still flushed. For a ridiculous moment, she wondered why Ash seemed fine as he stared at her, but she could feel how hard his heart was beating under one of her hands.

The silence between them was palpable, electricity sparking in the air as neither one of them tried to break eye contact.

"We should get ready to watch the meteor shower," Misty whispered, her eyes fluttering a bit as she felt his warm breath brush against her skin.

"Yeah." Ash stared at her. "No." Misty closed her eyes as he kissed her again, his actions more confident than before. She hummed against him, hands sliding over his shoulders to tug him closer, his fingers gently tracing random shapes on her side.

When Misty suggested the road trip, she never expected to go on all the detours that they ended up going on. In that moment, where her lips moved against his, she was glad for every single one of them. It wasn't what she planned at all. No, it was so much better.