DISCLAIMER: I don't own Pokemon. Rather, it owns me. It raised me up out of the grave and set me loose on the world to avenge it of those who ridicule it on the Internet. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
I'm probably going to be going out of prompt order for the rest of the stories since I've got at least one cooking in the background, one nearly complete with me shaking my head sadly at it (but I'll probably go with it anyway for lack of any other idea), and no idea for the last one.
As an update to the note on reviews in my prior story (Indiana Misty and the Caterpie Crusade), I'd like to thank my reviewers; I don't know how much I'd be able to keep up without it. The reviews seem to be sorta-mostly working for me now so I hope to get back to you soon, but additional reviews are always appreciated!
"..reports of flooding in Cinnabar has led to a flash flood warning in the area, but officials are - "
Someone turned off the television. Good. Ash was sick of the Weather Channel. It could be surprisingly pleasant to have in the background, but right now it was just reminding him of what was going on outside. How he'd rather not be stuck inside of a Pokemon Center as the rain poured down without end in the massive storm system that encompassed Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and even Sinnoh. He'd rather be out exploring, battling trainers, finding new Pokemon, or otherwise doing something useful other than wait for the rain to pass.
"- you're a little dork and you'll ALWAYS BE a little dork!"
"You're just jealous that I memorized the Pokedex! Do you even know what a Fennekin is?!"
"WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?"
And listen to May and Max argue.
Brock, of course, had decided to try to hit on Nurse Joy rather than endure this. However, Ash had no such refuge, and much as he was caught between water and arguments, he was also caught between irritation and nostalgia.
He missed her.
Misty'd been gone for three and a half months now, and the Pokemon trainer was starting to wonder if she'd ever come back. They called almost daily, they still talked frequently, they even exchanged a letter or two.
But she still wasn't there. He was realizing that he probably wasn't going to feel right until she was. Not that it was a huge surprise to him; secretly, he had been harboring a crush on her since nearly the beginning (which no one could possibly have figured out, of course).
As-is, though, things could be far worse, and he'd actually managed to improve them a good deal. Thanks to his interference, Misty and her sisters had "negotiated" down to a four month tenure (or more appropriately, sentence) as gym leader for the youngest sister. This had doubtlessly earned their ire (although, Brock noted, he seemed to detect a hint of newfound respect in how Daisy regarded him now - she just might like that in a boyfriend for her sister, he said, earning a predictable string of promptly-ignored denials from Ash). So his logical brain was aware that it was quite premature to begin believing she was gone forever; she wasn't even supposed to arrive for another two weeks yet! But it was a rare occasion that his logical brain was in full control when the redhead was involved, and his emotions retained great sway, resulting in a distinct, vaguely defeated feeling, as though Misty's airheaded siblings had defeated him in some struggle for her presence.
Pikachu seemed to 'get it,' and sat against the trainer's lap, leaning against his leg. He looked vaguely sad, as though he detected Ash's melancholy and, knowing he couldn't help directly, at least commiserated with him and let him know that he wasn't alone.
"...you miss her too, huh, buddy?" Ash inquired, hearing the rain get even harder outside. Must be coming down in sheets, he thought to himself.
"Chuuuu." Pikachu confirmed. An untrained ear might think that Pikachu was talking, but for a trainer like Ash, he knew that there was no direct translation for that particular noise; like a grunt, but a sympathetic one.
He sat on the couch, scratching Pikachu's ears quietly. He sighed as he reached for his cell phone, quickly glancing at it. Deciding that he didn't want to move his butt all the way to the call center to use the video phones, he opted to simply use voice, quickly dialing in Misty's number before putting the receiver to his ear.
It rang, only to pick up Misty speaking a bit loudly amidst the sound of rain.
"Ghh - Ash, this had better be good!" Misty grumped over the line, the unmistakable sound of the exact same storm, stretching hundreds of miles, pelting her too.
Ash sat up and winced. "...oh, sorry, didn't know you were busy - "
"No, no, no," she said, perhaps detecting the downbeat tone in his voice. "Just... got caught out in the rain, that's all." The distinct sound of someone flipping water-logged hair away from their face could be heard and the loud patter of a downpour vanished. Apparently she made it to shelter. "So what's up?"
"...nothin', just..." Ash raced for something to talk about; he didn't dare tell her that he missed her voice. Lest she get the wrong idea.
Even if it was in fact the right idea. That was his secret; just because everyone teased him about liking Misty, surely, they couldn't realize he really did like Misty, right?
The somewhat deluded teenager came to a conclusion on what to speak about - weather, the most generic topic since speech was invented. "...was wonderin' if you were gettin' rained on, too. It's dumping Growlithes and Delkitties out there."
"That's a definite 'yes,'" Misty replied over the phone. "Biggest storm in three years, really. It's that way over most of Kanto."
"Yeah... really nasty out there." Ash said, tone slightly distant, discordant.
Misty seemed to pick up on that. "...Ash, is... is everything OK?"
"...yeah, just..." Ash paused quietly. What could he tell her? What SHOULD he tell her? He wasn't sure, though part of him wanted to just say, flat-out, 'I miss you.'
Silence on the line.
"So do I." came the response.
"...eh?" Ash asked.
"I do, too. Miss you, I mean," Misty said, more quietly.
Ash's face turned red as Pikachu glanced up and grinned just a little bit. He hadn't realized he actually spoke that out loud.
A faint sigh as he decided to just roll with it. "...you're... you're still coming, right? I mean, in two weeks - "
"In two weeks, unless I'm in the hospital or dead, I'm going to be half-awake stumbling onto a plane with my Pokemon at 5 AM in Celadon City Airport headed for Hoenn whether my sisters are back or not," she said, flatly. "And if I'm in the hospital I'll be there as soon as I can figure out how to get the wheelchair to the airport."
Ash nodded a little bit even though she couldn't see it, wondering just what kind of emotion he was betraying over the phone. He felt somewhat vulnerable right now, and he suspected his tone was leaking a bit more than he had intended. The last several days had worn on him, and he was tired, due for a gym battle soon, and becoming more aware that these cult-like groups that he'd been running into seemed to be a bit more widespread than he'd initially thought when he first met up with May.
"Are your sisters trying to weasel out of it?" Ash inquired, idly, perhaps suspecting such a tactic from them.
"Yes. They might not come back. If they don't they're in for an unpleasant surprise."
Ash adjusted his seat on the couch. "...you don't... I mean, if you don't want - "
"Ash? I want to come back." Misty replied, "We've been through this." She paused for a moment, before speaking once again. "Unless I'd be in the way or - "
"Of course you're not in the way, Mist," Ash insisted, cutting her off, swapping to the nickname that only he ever seemed to use for her. Her voice carried the tiniest bit of uncertainty, Ash observed, something that likely only he would pick up. Talking over the phone like this seemed to make people a little shy or vulnerable sometimes, as though the voice-only contact created an impenetrable barrier and some vital detail wasn't being conveyed. Perhaps that's what she was feeling? He could feel a little of it himself.
"I'll be at the airport whenever you need me to."
"In that case you'd better have set off six months ago," Misty quipped back, the slight drop in her tone vanishing. "Somehow I doubt the maps in Hoenn are any better than the maps in Kanto."
"I can navigate here just fine, thankyouverymuch Ms. Back-Seat-Driver."
Pikachu, of course, decided it was time to interject and leapt up to the phone, quickly speaking. "Ka pika chu pika!"
"Max does NOT do all navigation, Pikachu!" Ash retorted.
A slight giggle over the phone from Misty. "Now it makes sense. Make sure he keeps it up 'til I get there, Pikachu. He isn't allowed to get hopelessly lost until I'm there at least!"
"Hmph." Ash huffed, shaking off Pikachu, who remained completely shameless. The nerve of these people!...
Things drifted off to silence over the next several minutes, punctuated only by occasional chatter. Slight awkwardness, but neither could bring themselves to say 'gotta go' and hang up; this tiny connection made their separation seem just a little bit smaller, and was somehow preferable to no contact at all.
"...still miss me, right?" Misty inquired, eventually.
"Last I checked," Ash said sarcastically, "Which was about five minutes ago."
"Ten." Misty replied. Had they spent that much time sitting in silence 'with' each other? He didn't know and wasn't sure he actually wanted to know. "I, uh... well." It sounded like she was playing with something; were this an earlier era it might have been the phone cord, but was probably something else, such as a stray lock of her coppery hair or something in her backpack. She cleared her throat. "...I've got an idea, if you're willing to go with it. It's... something... we can do right now."
"...alright?" Ash inquired, as he sat up.
"This is something I learned from my mom, a... long time ago," she said, after a hesitant sentence. "Go outside. In the rain."
Ash blinked. "...hang on a sec." He glanced up, looking at May and Max as they had gone beyond words and were now growling at each other in a vain attempt to intimidate the other. "- I'm steppin' out for a minute, 'k guys?" Ash said.
May simply growled at Max, who growled in return; neither seemed to particularly care.
Ash stepped out heading for the lobby, reflecting - for far from the first time, since seeing May and Max as well as Misty's siblings - that he was rather glad he was an only child.
Upon arriving in the lobby, it was mostly deserted, which was apparently all the better for Brock's attempts to woo Nurse Joy. In fact, he was in rare form, already attempting to win the nurse's fair hand, or at least, that's how he would probably euphemistically describe what amounted to begging.
"Truly, you are the fairest maiden of the land! Your sisters are beautiful, but YOU my dear are the pinnacle of feminine perfection! Would you do me the honor of perhaps... dating me?" Brock inquired melodramatically, kneeling before the unfortunate object of his affections.
Nurse Joy didn't bother looking up from her computer. "...do you realize we're all identical?" She frowned as she examined Brock, apparently entirely indifferent to his amorous intentions, quickly grabbing his chin and looking at his eyes in a clinical way. "...maybe you don't, I don't like that squinting." Pokemon Center medical personnel were typically cross-trained in at least some human medicine, and so she looked at him like a patient. "I'm going to take you in back and take a look at your eyes."
"You can see my eyes any time, my fair lady!" proclaimed Brock, overjoyed that perhaps, finally, he was getting SOMEWHERE with a Nurse Joy, and not only that, the most beautiful one ever to grace Hoenn. "I only ask for the pleasure of gazing at yours in return!"
"Let's worry about that one I'm sure that your eyesight's alright. Now if you're good I'll get you a Poketreat when we're done, OK?"
"ABSOLUTELY, my queen!" proclaimed Brock, as she grabbed him by the arm and pulled him back... however, as the doors closed, his voice drifted out.
"...wait, Poketreat?" he inquired, suddenly somewhat uneasy, before the doors blocked any further noise.
Ash watched the spectacle with some surprise, having apparently been jostled out of his angst for a moment by Brock's stupidity.
Misty's voice picked up over the phone. "...I just overheard Brock trying to get 'lucky' again, didn't I?"
Ash grunted. "Yeah, with the usual results, although I think she's more interested in giving him an eye exam than dating him. For someone who's always on about 'lucky,' he sure doesn't have much luck."
"Give it time, in a few years he'll be 'lucky' if he doesn't get a restraining order when he's a little older," Misty quipped, Ash snort-laughing in reply.
"So. Rain." Misty's voice came in over the phone, and Ash immediately walked outside, into the cool, humid air, right in front of the downpour, but still shielded from the rain.
"...so... just... walk into it?"
"There isn't any lightning, is there?"
"Only if you count Pikachu."
"Yeah, walk into it."
"OK." Ash didn't see the point of this, but he could always dry out. He trusted Misty, and while when they were horsing around there was a distinct possibility she might get him to go out into the rain just to get soaked, if he knew her half as well as he thought he did, he knew this was something more heartfelt for both of them. He slipped into the rain and was promptly drenched.
At the same time, he heard the distinct sound of a downpour over the phone. Misty was out in it again, too.
"...well? Now what?" Ash inquired, feeling the chill of the water, shouting a bit to be heard over the noise.
"Well, I'm getting drenched, too!" Misty replied, as if that was obvious.
"...OK, and?" Ash inquired, not precisely getting the connection.
Misty didn't sound exasperated at all as she explained. "Well, if we're both getting rained on by the same storm... and we're talking right now..." Her voice got a bit more quiet, as though slightly shy as she spoke, but she pressed forward. "...we can't possibly be that far apart anymore, are we?"
A small smile began to work its way onto Ash's face.
"...no, no we're not."
Two hours later, it was still raining. Ash was utterly waterlogged as he tromped back into the Pokemon Center, phone battery completely drained and his phone card likely charged high enough that he'd get screeched at by his mother. For some reason, when he ran up high phone bills talking to Misty, though, she didn't seem to mind so much when he mentioned that it was for her. He didn't know quite WHY it seemed to (partly) appease her. He felt ill at ease for a moment as he considered this. Could she possibly suspect that he... liked... her?
...nah, impossible. No one had figured out his secret feelings for the redhead.
He was positive.
He was so good at keeping it secret. All the teasing was mere coincidence, his denials always silencing any suspicion on the part of others.
However, hidden feelings, drenchedness, and newfound phone poverty aside, Ash had a hard time wiping the smile off his face.
Brock, meanwhile, sat in a chair in the lounge, sobbing melodramatically while wearing the darkened disposable sunglasses used to protect sensitive, dilated eyes from glare after an eye exam. His Forretress was out, keeping a slight distance and hoping that he wouldn't be identified as Brock's Pokemon just now.
"All she wanted me for was for dilation drops and a prescription," he lamented miserably to Ash, as he waved around a slip giving specifications for eyeglasses that would presumably alleviate Brock's perpetual squint. Ash frowned; despite the utter ridiculousness of the situation, he didn't like seeing his friend in pain. He promptly patted the older boy on the shoulder.
"Eh, she probably just didn't appreciate your finer qualities," Ash commented, hoping that Brock wouldn't ask for what those qualities might be, since Ash really didn't know, either.
Brock simply nodded as a forlorn sigh escaped, no questions asked, much to Ash's relief.
Ash glanced with some pity towards Forretress , kneeling over and giving it a good solid pat on the side so Brock could bewail his tragic love in relative peace. "Heyya, Forretress," he said. Forretress rumbled slightly from within, the equivalent of the Pokemon purring, and he rolled up to Ash, speaking quietly.
"Tress forret forret forretress..."
Ash paused and scratched his head, glancing at Brock's pathetic form once again, before responding quietly.
"I don't think there are any rehab programs for Nurse Joy addiction..." he paused and glanced at Brock once more, before continuing. "But I'll be sure to look into it."
"Tress." Forretress thanked Ash.
However, Brock wasn't the only one in the lounge. May had apparently stopped fighting with Max for five minutes and was playing cards with him, the both of them glancing up at the de facto leader of their rag-tag little team.
"...Ash? Are you alright?" May inquired with some concern.
"You're more drenched than a Magikarp!" Max stated plainly.
Ash glanced towards his two friends - still smiling somewhat stupidly.
"...yeah, I'm fine. Just fine." He paused. "- oh yeah, in a couple weeks we're gonna need to make a little detour..."
This fic was partly inspired by the song 'Kiss the Rain,' by Billie Myers, as well as a fanfic from the ancient days of Pokemon fanfic by someone whose pen name was Stephanie Ofiles that had a slightly similar section in it along these lines.