A/N- Because this is apparently what I do with my life now. I blame Aetheron

The phone rings, loudly cutting in through the music Misty has playing on the overhead speakers. It's midnight and she's almost done cleaning the gym. Arm deep in wash water, Misty pauses and counts slowly backwards in her head.

3

2

"Misty, like, phone." Comes ringing through the empty gym right on cue. It'd be sad if weren't so damn predictable. Briefly, Misty considers demanding that whichever sister is has told her about the phone also be the one to answer it, but it is rare that the gym gets calls this late and it might be important.

"Coming" Misty calls. She steps to the edge of the pool she's been cleaning and hauls herself up, grabbing a towel as she makes her way to the phone in the lobby, "Cerulean gym, Misty speaking." She answers before the image on the other side resolves into a tired looking black haired boy in a worn Pokémon league hat. He opens his mouth to speak but is cut off by an excited string of chatter from the Pikachu on his shoulder. Misty raises her eyebrow and waits for Pikachu to finish recounting the story of what has either been an amazing day or an artisanal ketchup. Ten minutes in the chatter, Ash finally shoos Pikachu away. Misty laughs.

"Not that I don't enjoy listening to Pikachu rave on about what I am sure was a lovely bottle of ketchup, but—"

"It was a garden Pikachu was going on about actually"

"Uh, sure, still. It is midnight here Ketchum and I have a full roster of battles for tomorrow, so, not that I don't appreciate the call, but what's up?" She rests her head on her palm in front of the phone, eyes drifting shut as she waits for Ash to respond. A day filled with battles and training and swimming and tank care and maintenance have taken its toll and Misty would love nothing more than to sleep. Still, Ash seems worried and he is one of her closest friends.

"Shoot, Mist, I'm sorry. I didn't realize it was so late." He casts his eyes down as though sorry but Misty doesn't believe it.

"Yeah. No. Sorry Ash, you are way too good with the time zones. What's bothering you?" he looks away from the phone screen and Pikachu starts chattering again, finally mimicking handing something to his trainer. Misty stifles a laugh. "Did May and Drew do something again?" Ash visibly shakes before exploding a torrent a fast paced speech of which Misty only catches a few words. She raises an eyebrow and Ash takes a few breaths before beginning anew.

"I'm sorry Mist, they are just so frustrating. It's like…she's not even trying to understand what's going on and Drew, he just," He takes his hat off to rake a hand through his hair. "Arceus, he gives her a flower damn near every time he sees her." Misty gasps at his curse and Ash shakes his head. "Surprise, I can curse." Misty laughs and mimics wiping a false tear.

"I'm so proud of you. My little Ash is all grown up." She pitches her voice cloyingly sweet and clasps her hands beneath her chin. Ash laughs.

"Yeah ok shut up. I'm not done."

"There's more?"

"They fight over nothing. Any time we run into him, we lose entire days to them arguing. Over nothing." He slams his fist on the phone table. "Nothing, Misty. How do they not see it?"

"See what?" Pikachu offers a sarcastic chu in her direction and Misty sticks her tongue out at the electric rodent. "Don't you start with me mouse, you're the one who fried my bike." Pikachu wisely bounds off at Misty's glare leaving her to turn a quizzical look back towards Ash.

"How much they should just…get locked in a closet or something." He throws his hands up, exasperated and Misty laughs.

"Have you told Brock this theory?" She asks, still smiling until she catches sight of Ash's face which seems to have dropped all of its humor. She sobers instantly. "Hey, what's up with the face? Is Brock OK?"

"I don't know. He's ok, I guess?"

"Ok?"

"Yes. No. He's really down."

"Oh?" And Pikachu returns, settling on Ash's shoulder to resume chattering though this time it is directed at Ash. He sighs. "There was this girl he was talking to and," Ash trails off as though unsure how to finish but is saved from working it out by Pikachu slapping him.

"What?" Misty starts before suddenly realizing what Pikachu is trying to tell her has happened, "oh." She sits up and rotates her shoulder, her back cracks loudly and the sound echoes across the gym. Ash winces. "Why are you telling me? Go talk to him."

"You've always been better than me at this, dating stuff." Pikachu voices an agreement and Ash flushes.

"Ketchum, Pikachu is better than you at this dating thing." She air quotes the last words, smirking at Ash's growing discomfort. He says nothing and so she continues. "Fine. Bring him in. But you owe-" And suddenly, Ash is looking everywhere but the camera. "Oh, don't tell you me didn't tell him."

"OK."

"So what, you want me to call back and ask to speak to him? Ash that's—" But Ash cuts her off before she can finish.

"Knew you'd do it Mist. You're the best!" And the screen fades to black. Misty considers, really considers, just walking away from the phone, finishing scrubbing the pool and going to bed. It's late, she's tired and her day will start at 6 am regardless of the amount of sleep she gets. But its Ash and Misty has never been good at denying his requests. She stands, grabs a shirt and pulls her hair back before dialing the center. Nurse Joy picks up and Misty calmly explains who she is and who she needs to talk to. Nurse Joy is happy to page Brock for her and over the sounds of a Pokémon center in the late afternoon she hears Joy's voice overhead calling for Brock to report to the desk. It's only as Misty is sitting in front of the screen, waiting, that she realizes she doesn't have a plan. Ash had said that he didn't tell Brock he had called Misty and she can't just bring up his recent rejection out of nowhere without giving up that Ash had called first. And really that is just so like Ash, to ask a favor of a friend with no thought as to the difficulty of the task. Damn that kid, just what is she supposed to…oh. She can just complain about him. Brock loves gossip and especially when it's about herself and Ash. Brock's face resolves on the screen and Misty contorts hers into a sad smile.

"What did he do this time?"

"I have no idea what you mean." She looks up, desperately trying not to meet Brock's eyes. The things she does for that boy, he'd better appreciate it.

"Yeah, you're wearing your 'I'm going along with one of Ash's schemes' face." For a moment, Misty looks as though she might try and convince Brock that he's imaging things and that she's completely sincere. It's a moment broken when she flushes and shakes her head.

"Thank Arceus. OK, so he called and said you guys ran into…" and she pauses for a moment watching as Brock's eyes widen and breathing hitches. "Drew?" Brock breaths out.

"Yeah, he gave May another rose for her Beautifly." He draws out the last word, daring Misty to question the true intended recipient of the rose. Misty merely raises an eyebrow.

"Ash said they spent the day arguing."

"Yeah. Imagine. One of them did something nice for the other and it sparked an argument. Now where have I seen that before?" He places his finger on his chin as though thinking before pulling it away and gesturing to the sky as though he's just discovered something. Misty cuts him off before he can say whatever it is he has planned.

"Ash never handed me flowers. I wouldn't have argued with flowers."

"Funny, I never mentioned Ash. So you're saying you wouldn't have been put out if Ash had handed you, say, a daisy, lily or violet?" Misty glares.

"Screw you. We both know who you were talking about and we both know that my objection to those flowers has nothing to do with the flowers."

"So you want him to buy you flowers? Gee Misty, is there something you're not telling me about you and Ashy-boy" Misty flushes bright red and Brock, for not the first time in his friendship with the girl, wonders if it is actually physically possible for steam to come out of ones ears.

"Brock, we're been over this," she says, waving her hand as though to imply nonchalance. "We. Are. Just. Friends! Him buying me flowers wouldn't even be a, uh, thing."

"Oh, ok then." He turns around and cups his hands to his face "Hey, Ash! Misty wants you to buy her flowers."

"You didn't!? Mew, tell me you didn't." Brock grins only to regret it seconds later at Misty's vicious smirk. "Oh, we're doing this then? Fine. We're doing this. Tell me about the girl you ran into today." Brock tilts his head in what must be confusion.

"What girl?"

"Ash said you ran into some girl today and then were sad. So who'd you run into?" Brock looks down and away from the phone.

"Do you remember Evelynn?"

"No"

"She worked with me at… the Professor-who-will-not-be-named's lab."

"You mean I—" Brock cuts her off.

"Yes! Her. She-who-will-not-be-named. You know, in the Orange Islands? Evelynn was a lab tech there with me."

"Oh. So... what? Did you ask her out then?"

"NO." He flushes.

"So you did! Did she reject you?" Misty rolls her eyes. "There are other Magikarp in the sea, you know?"

"That is not the point." He yells, drawing a cacophony of shushes from the other denizens of the Pokémon center lobby.

"Well what is the point then, Brock? It's getting late," her eyes drift shut as she speaks.

"She's an assistant professor now working under that..." and he pauses briefly, before continuing in a mocking falsetto dripping with sarcasm, "oh too mature for me professor." Misty winces.

"Well... that's... wonderful for her? Right?"

"Yeah. No, it is," Brock replies honestly. "But…"

"Yes? Brock, I am not a mind reader. You'll need to call Sabrina if you want that." Brock shudders at the memory.

"I don't know. I guess- It's just... She's doing something with her life. Meanwhile, here I am nineteen years old and I'm still a side character in someone else's journey."

"You are not a side character," Misty says firmly, voice beginning to take on her 'do not defy me or I will mallet you out of existence' tone. "Besides, I thought you wanted to be a Pokémon breeder?"

Brock sighs, visibly deflating. "I haven't really been pursuing that for a while."

"So what do you want to do then? Go back to the gym?"

"No, Forest is running the gym. He loves it. I couldn't take that away from him."

"You can always co-run it like I do with my- Err, actually we're not the best example. But you can. My parents used to."

"I don't really want to be a gym leader though." Brock shrugs. "Besides, I can't leave Ash. He'd never be able to fend for himself."

"Don't do that." Misty replies angrily, finger shaking at the screen. "Don't use Ash as an excuse. He'd manage on his own... Probably. Or he'd get eaten by Ursaring. Whichever. Doesn't matter. Either way, he'd want you to like achieve your dream." Brock is quiet for a beat.

"Did you just say like in the middle of a sentence?"

"Shut! Up! You try spending weeks on end with my sisters without destroying your vocabulary. But really, what do you want to do?" She puts her head back down on her arms, yawning as she speaks. Brock smiles.

"I don't know, but I am going to figure it out. Good night Misty. Thank you."

"Good. It's worth it," she says, or would if her words weren't swallowed by a yawn. "Night."

"And Misty?"

"Yeah."

"He does think about you, you know?" Misty hums in response and hangs up the phone.


The gym bell rings at 9 Am Sunday morning-much too early for a typical newbie challenger. Misty cracks her back and walks to the door already gearing up for what she hopes will be a trainer re-working their way through the Kanto gyms. Their Pokémon are always higher levels and their strategies actually exist. Smiling fiercely she opens the door only to find only to find a delivery man standing there holding a bouquet of baby's breath with a bored expression on his face.

"Can I help you?" Misty asks, struggling to keep the disappointment from her voice.

"Delivery for Misty Waterflower?" Misty is puzzled. It is only ever her sisters who are sent flowers. Still, she signs for the delivery and takes the bundle. A card falls out of the bottom and Misty smiles to read it. In ash's messy scrawl, with a red paw print that has to be from Pikachu is a short message " Mist, Brock said I should get you flowers...is everything ok?"