Replies to review in-fic is a huge pet peeve of mine but there was a guest review that I really wanted to address and I have no other way of doing so, so here goes.
To the rude guest reviewer (you know who you are): This fic has been marked as 'Complete' since the beginning and was always intended to be a one-shot. Maybe you should check the status of a story before asking people to update because reading your stupid ass review was pretty annoying, no offense.
To everyone else who requested a new chapter: you guys are sweet, and this one's for you. Thanks for reading!
"And there's a ceremony for all the competitors in the evening. I hope there's food!"
"I'm sure there'll be something to eat, Ash."
"I just hope there's a lot of it, you know?" The pokémon trainer was almost bouncing in his seat. He could barely sit still. "I'm so excited, I feel like I'm shaking! That's a lot of energy being used that I need to get back."
Brock raised an eyebrow. "Energy, huh? Who taught you that one?"
"Ah, right. The inventor?"
"Yeah, he knows a lot. I never knew science was so cool! If I did, I would've paid more attention at school …"
Brock chuckled. He knew Ash couldn't pay attention at school even if he'd wanted to – that just wasn't the way he learnt. Real world experiences and conversations with his friends were the only way Ash got anything into that head of his.
"You know," Ash started, a little quieter this time, "It would've been pretty cool if you could be here."
Brock nodded. "You know I would've loved to, but this internship …"
"Yeah, I know. Becoming a doctor takes up a lot of your time. But you're having fun, right?"
"Oh yeah, but it can be tough sometimes. Yesterday we had a Furret come in with a gash right across its stomach. The trainer was just about to register for the Silver Conference, too!"
Ash looked horrified, and Brock started to think that maybe it wasn't the right thing to say to him right before a League.
"The Furret's fine."
"Oh, good," Ash sighed, his face relaxing considerably. "You had me worried for a second there!"
Brock laughed nervously. "Well, I guess that's enough stories from my end. Do you know what the competition's like?"
"I know a few of my friends who're competing." Ash scratched at his temple. "I heard it's pretty tough. I don't see a lot of people here, but I guess I'll know at this ceremony later. It's not like your usual opening ceremony too. It's more like … a dinner party or something."
"Now that you mention it, I don't remember the Kalos League having an opening ceremony like they do here. Is it held at the League village, then?"
Ash shook his head. "There is no League village. Clemont's dad is letting us stay with him, but I think everyone else is staying at the Pokémon Centre, or a hotel. There's only one stadium too."
Brock pursed his lips. He knew the Kalos League had a reputation for being one of the better Leagues of all the regions, but it had never seemed so small on TV.
"I think I can actually win this time," Ash breathed out, claiming Brock's attention once again. Brock blinked, about to voice his agreement because he, too, thought Ash could win this time, just like always, but –
"I know I always say that, but … I'm really feeling it this time. I think I'm going to do better than I've ever done before, at least." Ash paused. "Is that stupid?"
"You've always been the type of guy to trust your instincts," Brock mused. "And when it's this important, you're usually not wrong. Remember how you felt during Sinnoh?"
Ash nodded. "It's the same feeling, but stronger."
"Your mother tells me you've been doing especially well in Kalos, so you could be on the money here." Brock rubbed his chin. "Have you told anyone else about it?"
"Just my mom." Ash's eyes quickly flitted to something out of view of Brock's screen, and then back to him. "And Misty."
A slow grin started to spread across Brock's face. "Misty, huh? I heard you've been calling her a lot more often, lately."
"Yeah, well," Ash rubbed the back of his neck, "I'm not too great with emails, so …"
"You're not great with emailing anyone." Brock crossed his arms, "And you haven't been calling me all that often, either."
Ash spluttered, blinking rapidly, "H-hey, it's not like I don't want to talk to you! I'd call you if I had the money, but …"
"Relax, Ash!" Brock chuckled. "I'm not accusing you of anything, I get it. Kalos is expensive, and Misty's a priority."
"What? No no, she's not … well, she's not a priority …"
"Why not? She's your favourite girl, isn't she?"
As if on cue, Ash's face flushed a tomato red. "Favourite girl?! I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't you? You definitely don't call May or Dawn as much as you call her."
Ash fidgeted. "May and Dawn are always travelling. I was never able to call them that much."
Brock pursed his lips. "Sure. But what about Iris? You told me she went back to her gym in Unova, didn't she?"
"Oh c'mon, it's not like I call Misty every opportunity I get! Only before I'm about to challenge a gym. I call my mom more often than anyone else … she's my favourite girl."
Brock raised a finger. "Delia is a woman. And she doesn't count, she raised you."
"Misty's more of a woman now, too," Ash muttered under his breath, thinking Brock wouldn't catch it – but he did.
"What was that?"
Brock fought hard not to laugh – for all that Ash had grown and matured over time, some things never change. Total denial of attraction towards his best friend was one of them. Ash was normally oblivious any time someone teased him with a girl, not quite understanding what was being asked of him. But with Misty, he'd been teased so explicitly for such a long time that even the smallest of implications could set him off.
"Hey," a soft voice calls from just behind Ash, and a ridiculously good-looking girl stepped into view. She had honey-blonde hair and the nicest eyes, and Brock would've already called for her attention if she weren't so young.
But not too young. Just young enough that he could end up in jail.
With Officer Jenny.
Suddenly hitting on her didn't seem like such a bad idea.
"Don't even think about it," Ash warned, snapping Brock's attention away from the girl. The girl had disappeared; she must've accomplished whatever she was here for while he was daydreaming. Ash had a look on his face that said he knew exactly what Brock had been thinking about.
"Gee, Ash, you talk to Misty so much you're even starting to sound like her." Ash's face heated up again, and Brock smirked. He had the upper hand once more. "Who was that?"
"Serena, one of my friends." Ash's eyes widened. "Oh, that's right. You didn't get to meet any of the people I'm travelling with, did you?"
Brock's eyebrows shot up to his hairline. "That's Serena?"
He whistled. "Damn, Ash. You really know how to pick 'em."
Ash's brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"
"Does Misty know you're travelling with her?"
"Yeah … why wouldn't she?"
"And Misty hates her, doesn't she?"
"I … don't think she does. They get along okay."
"Really? I would've thought she'd have thrown a fit by now. Serena's gorgeous."
"Misty said she was really pretty too." Ash took a quick look around, before leaning in very close to the screen. "I think Misty likes her," he said in a conspiratorial whisper.
Brock only blinked. "Likes her?"
"You know … 'like' likes her."
Brock's mind went blank, as did his face. Misty liked Serena? 'Like' liked Serena? A girl?
Misty liked a girl?
The laughter came like it had burst out of a dam, never-ending and very, very loud. From the corner of his eye he could see Ash look around nervously, probably silently apologising to the people in the phone booths around him. But Brock didn't care – this was just too funny.
"What?" Ash finally asked, as Brock's guffaws fizzled out and he started wheezing to catch his breath.
"It's just … j-just …" Brock wiped at his brow, "Whew! What in the world gave you that idea, Ash?"
"The first time she saw Serena she kept going on about how pretty she was." Ash looked annoyed – whether this was directed at Brock or Serena, he didn't know. "And every time Serena's on screen, she looks like she's looking at her real closely. I am pretty observant, you know."
"Did Clemont teach you that one as well?"
Ash grunted, and Brock chuckled. "So you're telling me that you think Misty is a lesbian?"
"I-I don't know about that," Ash said, scowling even more. Clearly he didn't like the idea of Misty only being attracted to women. Brock could read this boy like an open book.
"But you think she likes Serena."
"Yeah." Ash brushed the bottom of his nose with his finger rather aggressively, looking away from the screen. "A-and Serena might like her back. She looks at Misty the same way. Like she's just … focused on her completely."
It was like watching a soap opera. Brock might as well have ended the call and switched on the TV, and it wouldn't have made a difference. Being the romantic that he was, he knew Misty and Serena were only eyeing each other up to ascertain the other's relationship with the boy. It wasn't abnormal if their only interaction had been over the videophone. They may have gotten along okay, as Ash claimed, but it was clear that they viewed other as somewhat of a threat. And Ash would no doubt have missed either of their furtive glances towards him too – Brock wouldn't put it beyond the boy. And now Ash thinks they're into each other.
He felt like he needed some popcorn.
"The plot thickens," Brock mused, the grin never leaving his face.
"Nothing. Are you going to tell me you have a crush on Clemont now, too?"
Ash stared at Brock, dumbfounded. "What?"
"Never mind. Just wondering."
"Brock, I'm not gay."
"I never said you were."
The scowl never left Ash's face, but his expression had softened. "So … you don't think Misty likes Serena?"
"I doubt it," Brock grunted, "And I think you've misunderstood what's going on between them."
"Then what is it?"
"I think you're going to have to figure that one out for yourself, Ash."
Ash pursed his lips in thought, but Brock knew he wasn't going to get it just like that. He needed a little push.
"But I can tell you for a fact that Misty's attracted to men."
Ash perked up. "She is?"
"Yep. I don't know about girls, but she definitely likes guys as far as I know."
"And who knows? Maybe one of them is a certain wannabe Pokémon Master with black hair, and –"
"Anyway," Ash huffed, cutting in before Brock could finish his sentence, "Did you want to meet everyone?"
Brock took a quick glance at the time. "Usually I'd be glad to, but I should head to bed soon. I've got an early start at the hospital tomorrow."
"Oh," Ash slumped, and Brock immediately felt bad. Brock never got to see Ash's Unova friends in person, but that was mostly because of the timezone. He'd only recently learnt that he'd accidentally run into Cilan while in Johto. The time difference between Kalos and Kanto wasn't so bad – Brock could call at a decent hour of the night, and it'd only be afternoon for Ash.
"Maybe you could give me a call if it's not too late," Brock tried. He grinned, "That is, if you're not too busy calling Misty."
Ash looked genuinely confused, and Brock was impressed. He'd never known the kid to be such a good actor. "Misty? What are you talking about?"
"I think you know exactly what I'm talking about." Brock narrowed his eyes. "I bet you've called her already, huh?"
"Why would I have to call her? Misty's in Lumiose City for the League."
"What?" Brock choked.
"Yeah, she got here this morning. Want me to go get her?"
"This morning …?"
Ash was already off his seat, and he was back in moments with a familiar redhead in tow. Brock gaped at her in awe as she chastised the boy for not telling her Brock was on the phone.
"He called me," Ash mumbled in defense, but she waved his excuses away.
"Whatever. Hey, Brock!" she exclaimed, taking a seat and making herself comfortable. When Ash sat down he could only be seen on a quarter of the screen, which meant Misty had barely given him any space on the bench. The sight was so familiar, and yet …
"You know, you'll catch some venomoth in your mouth if you keep it open like that."
Brock shut his mouth immediately. "What … what are you doing here?" he finally managed.
"Ash invited me to Kalos for the League." Misty swapped a small smile with Ash, before focusing on Brock again. "It was pretty last minute but …"
"What about the gym?"
"Daisy said she could handle it. It's only for a week." She frowned, "She played a pokémon trainer in one of her films, and she's real big on method acting."
"It's weird," Ash agreed. "You should give Cerulean Gym a call. It's like she's a completely different person."
"Don't call the gym," Misty added quickly.
Brock ignored the exchange, letting the prior information sink in. "So …" he started, "You drop everything the minute Ash calls and asks you to come to Kalos?"
"Well, not exactly …"
"She said no, at first," Ash said, "But Daisy convinced her to take a break. I think she needs it, too." He poked her arm. "You're so pale."
"You're a squirt," she snapped back.
"I'm taller than you."
"Still a squirt."
"But look at these!" Ash flexed his arm, and Misty rolled her eyes.
"I should've gone to Hoenn instead," Misty whispered to Brock.
Brock hadn't zoned out this time; he was observing their exchange closely. It was no different to the conversations they'd have when they were ten, and yet … something was different. There was no heat behind their words, nothing to get defensive about. It was almost playful.
They were flirting.
Brock realised they'd been waiting on him to say something, so he said the first thing he could think of that didn't sound suspicious: "So is Kalos nice, then?"
Apparently this was the wrong move, because both of them looked concerned. "You okay, Brocko?"
"Yeah, what's up?"
"Nothing," Brock shook his head, "I was just … thinking about how much you love everything Kalosian, Misty."
"Oh, yes!" Misty's eyes sparkled, and he knew that he'd opened the floodgates. She started gushing about the cafés and the croissants and the flowers and even the tiny little apartment above Clemont's dad's shop that they were staying in. She hadn't had a chance to go shopping, but Bonnie and Serena have promised to take her. Brock wasn't really paying attention – he was more focused on the look at Ash's face throughout the spiel. He couldn't take his eyes off the girl.
"So," Brock smiled slowly, "Has Ash taken you up the Lumiose Tower yet?"
"Well, the gym is actually at the bottom of the tower," Misty said. "So Clemont said he'd show us around after Ash's first match."
Brock rubbed his chin. "But wouldn't you two want to go alone?"
There was a moment's silence before both their faces morphed into the same irritated expression.
"Brock," Misty growled, and Ash just slumped in his seat.
"Don't you have an early start tomorrow?" he said.
"Oh yeah," Brock grinned, "Things got so interesting I forgot all about that."
"And we have to leave for dinner soon, too," Misty said, rising to her feet, while Ash quickly shuffled to take over the space she was sitting in.
"I'll be right there," Ash said. Misty gave him an odd look, her eyes flicking to Brock and back.
"Alright," she shrugged, "Don't be too long." She leaned down so her face was fully in view of the screen again. "We'll call you tomorrow, alright?"
"See you later," Brock nodded. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
He heard her mutter a "gross" while she threw him a wave.
"I should go too," Ash said after she was out of earshot. "But it was nice talking to you after so long."
"Definitely," Brock agreed. "If you let me know in advance when you plan to come back to Pallet Town, I could try to make the trip."
Ash's face lit up. "Really?"
"I can't guarantee it," Brock said quickly. "The internship's pretty tight, but I can see if I can pull a few strings and get some days off! I could spend some time helping Professor Oak out, too."
"Alright!" Ash fist-bumped, "It'll be really great to see you again."
"Of course. And if you're really taller than Misty like you say you are, then I'd like to see it for myself!"
Ash chuckled, before his smile faded. "Hey Brock?"
"The thing about going to the Lumiose Tower … just the two of us. Is that gonna work?"
Brock had to fight the need to go crazy and hassle Ash about flowers and poetry and sweeping declarations of love. "Of course," he said gently, "But I think she'll appreciate it no matter where you take her."
"You think so?"
"I know so."
Ash looked down at his feet again, frowning in thought, until he shrugged it off. "Right. Thanks, Brock."
"Any time. But you better tell me how it goes."
He nodded. "I will."
"And break it gently to Serena, alright?"
Brock waved him away. "Never mind. You'll figure it out."
"If you say so …"
"And bring roses."
He couldn't help himself.
"And tell me how it goes," Brock repeated. Ash laughed, raising a hand to cut him off.
"Enough already!" He rubbed the back of his neck. "So I guess I'll call you tomorrow after my match?"
"I'll be counting on it."
"Ash!" Misty's voice could be heard faintly in the background.
Ash jumped. "That's Misty! Gotta go, Brock, seeya!"
The call cut out and Brock wasn't sure Ash had heard the reminder. But he supposed it didn't matter anyway.
They'd be together by the end of the week.
To avoid getting a rude review again, I want to explicitly state that this is the end of this story unless I feel like posting more. I was really satisfied with the ending of the first chapter, and the only reason I wrote this one was because a lot of people asked for more. I don't like this chapter nearly as much as I liked the original, and I wouldn't want a third chapter to be even worse because I've forced myself to write it. Again, thanks for reading, and always remember to check yoself before you wreck yoself :)