Author's Notes: I don't own Pokemon or its characters. Hope you enjoy!
After his relationship with Serena had dissolved and reset itself into only a shadow of the platonic bond they once shared as children, Ash put romantic notions away from his mind for a while. He went as far as choosing to travel without any human companions so as to not risk any of them falling in love with him, because according to Serena, he left a trail of broken hearts in his wake and was too self-absorbed to realize it.
Unfair, considering he never tried to string anyone along, or was even aware when someone was crushing on him. Still, Serena's words resonated with Ash, and he dug through the layers of his memory trying to locate any moments that could give him an indication of who may have had a crush on him at some point.
He thought about his earliest companions, starting with Misty, but come on, they had been children. There was no way any of them besides Serena had liked him as more than a friend when they were ten years old! In any case, they were still all very good friends, and he would have known by now, wouldn't he?
Eventually, Ash got tired of wandering without having at least one other human around, and decided that the best traveling companion would have to be an old childhood friend, one that certainly hadn't and didn't harbor any romantic feelings for him whatsoever.
What Ash hadn't considered were his own feelings.
"Wow, they're all so beautiful," Misty cooed at the water-type Pokémon swimming blissfully inside an aquarium. At her insistence, they had stopped to visit the Aquatic Pokémon Research and Rehabilitation Center, and were being given a tour by a water-type specialist, a man around their age named Finn who had nearly all his attention focused on Misty. "You've done a great job."
"It's an honor to hear that coming from the renowned gym leader of Cerulean City," said Finn, speaking to Misty with a smile on a face that had very little physical flaws.
Misty blushed at the compliment. "I still have a lot to learn. I mean, I don't even know some of these Pokémon. Like that one for example." She pointed at a green and blue Pokémon that was unfamiliar to Ash as well.
"Oh, that one, well that's-" Finn began yet another lecture on the various kind of Pokémon he and his staff had rescued and rehabilitated, walking alongside Misty and leaving Ash and Pikachu to follow their tail as they had been since they first arrived.
It was one of the few times Misty responded positively to a guy flirting with her, having found most of the lot creepy or annoying. Atop from sharing an enthusiasm with water-type Pokémon, Finn was irritatingly handsome, and seemed to be a genuinely nice guy, which irked Ash all the more.
That aggravation flared all the more when at the end of the tour Finn asked Misty out on a date
"Excuse me, what?" Ash asked, unable to stop the words from tumbling out of his mouth.
They both turned to him. Misty lanced him with her eyes. "It was me he asked, not you," she sassed, then answered Finn with "I'd love to."
The impending date was so distracting to his mind that it nearly cost him a victory. Fortunately, his Pokémon came through for him where he had failed, and Ash could tack on another badge to his collection. Despite his win, he felt like he was about to lose something, something far more important.
"You can still change your mind." Desperation seeped into his tone as soon as Misty emerged from the bathroom. She looked lovely in a strapless turquoise dress that matched her eyes, her hair down and pinned on the side with a seashell-shaped hair-clip. She always looked pretty- he wasn't blind- but seeing her dress up this nicely for someone else was tearing inside him with jaws. Curled up on the bed beside him, Pikachu looked at its master with concern.
"It's just food, Ash," Misty said, exasperation in her voice. "No need to get all jealous."
"I'm not jealous."
She threw her hands up in the air. "Yes you are. It used to be sorta cute but now it's just frustrating. I thought you had matured a little after dating Serena."
"That's hitting below the belt, Mist," he said, anger and hurt spiking in his chest.
Her expression softened. "Sorry, you're right. That was uncalled for," she apologized, biting her lip. "It's just… I'm tired of waiting."
"Waiting for what?"
A groan tore from her throat. "For you, Ash! I'm tired of waiting for you!" With that, she moved hastily passed him, grazing his shoulder with hers.
For a second, he could only stare at her back dumbly. She was slipping a shoe onto her feet, and then another, and then she reached for the door.
"Wait! I mean, crap. Hold on, I have one more thing to say."
To his surprise, it worked, because she turned to him, her hand still on the doorknob. Her eyebrows knitted, impatient. "One more thing."
"I…" his heart was pounding the way it did before a battle "I like you. A lot," he said, holding his breath at the end of his confession.
Her eyes widened, and then her mouth puckered into a pout. "That's nice," she said, sounding disappointed, and turned to leave again, slamming the door behind her.
Panic hitching up his chest, he ran to the door and forced it open, yelling: "I mean I love you!"
There, it was out. He didn't know if that was the answer she was looking for, or the complete opposite of it, but it was all he had, and whether she did or didn't want to hear that, at least now she would know.
She was frozen in place, stiff except the rise and fall of her shoulders, as if she was steadying her breath. When she turned around, there was disbelief as well as a twinkle in her sea-green eyes that made his heart kick. "You're not- You're not just saying that as a last-ditch effort to stop me, are you?"
Vehemently, he shook his head. "I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it."
A smile cracked open on her mouth, a happy, little gasp spilling from it. "I was hoping you'd say that."
He sucked in what air he could. "So does that mean…" Dare he ask? He took a few steps closer. "You love me too?"
"Yes, you idiot knucklehead. Since, like, forever." She closed the gap between them, her fists coming down on his chest in a mock- beating before she pulled him in for an embrace.
All the tension and dread that had been stuck in his chest came out as an exulted, short laugh. He was so happy he could kiss her, which he leaned in to do but was blocked. "Let's postpone that until after the date, okay?"
His heart fell to his knees. "You mean you're still going out with that guy?"
"It would be rude to cancel at this hour. And besides, I'd like to ask him a few more questions. Research, you know. Don't worry. I'll let him down easy."
Ash snorted. His heart was still pounding, but he found some relief in the prospect of Misty's rejection of Finn. "By all means, drop him as harshly as you can."
"Don't be petty, Ash," Misty said, rolling her eyes. She stepped back, breaking contact with him. "You would probably like him if he wasn't interested in me."
"Maybe," he admitted. "Just, be careful, okay?"
Rolling her eyes once again, she waved him off. "You're not my boyfriend as of yet, Ash Ketchum. We still have a lot to discuss."
"I'll be right here," he said, and with reluctance, let the woman he loved go on a date with someone else.
"Do you think he's gonna try to kiss her?"
"Pika!" He replied, admonishing him.
"Right, okay, I'll stop." Ash sighed. Pathetic, getting worked up about a stupid date and then projecting those anxieties into questions directed at his Pokémon.
His mind wouldn't shut up, though. Moments earlier, he'd just confessed to his childhood friend- best friend, no less- that he was in love with her, and learned that she loved him back, and then… And then she just calmly went on a date with someone else! A someone who was good-looking and smart and compassionate and-
Yes, it was just as she had said, he was jealous, and he had no right to be. They weren't dating. Yet. She'd said that also, like a- like a possibility. Maybe even a promise. He tucked that word into his heart, clinging onto it with hope. Hope for a future he thought for a length of time was going to be filled with only Pokémon, battles, and badges, and now looked like it may have an added spark into it, bright and orange like the hair on her head.
But why him of all people? What did Misty see in him, or any other person, for that matter, who'd ever fallen for him? Because he didn't have much to offer in terms of financial stability and well, stability in general, since he was always moving from place to place, on a continuous journey that never seemed to end for a goal he never seemed to be able to attain. Misty, she was further ahead on her goal to be a Water-type Master, which he was extremely proud and happy for, but…Would he be able to meet her at the end of that road? Or would their paths fork out once again, drifting apart but keeping each other close in their thoughts, as he expected would eventually happen when he asked Misty to join him for another adventure?
He was yanked away from his thoughts by the chubby yellow fuzz-ball that looked up at him with empathetic eyes, and just a little bit of disapproval. In his curious, energized Poke-speech, Pikachu gave him a few words of advice, and though Ash didn't know exactly what his furry pal was saying, he understood the sentiment it was trying to convey. Stay calm, he seemed to be saying, and stay positive! Things will turn alright, and if they don't I'll be right here to catch you.
Ash set Pikachu on his lap, scratching him lovingly on each ear, eliciting a content and satisfying "Cha."
"Yeah, you're right. I'm overthinking things, aren't I? I just… This is kinda new to me. Not sure how I'm gonna do when Mist returns. I suppose we'll find out, won't we?"
With Serena it had been… Nice, and sweet, and straightforward and… and wasn't quite what he'd wanted. He still loved Serena, and it pained him to remember he'd disappointed her, but that love was not like the burn he felt for Misty, a burn that started out as a bothersome itch and then erupted into flames when it hit him.
Ash was on the ground doing a plank when, over an hour later, Misty returned. He heard her footsteps before he saw her, having recorded the sound of them into his brain the way he did her voice.
Normally, he would continue to do whatever exercise or stretch he was performing even if Misty was around, but not this time. Grabbing the towel laid on the edge of the bed, Ash wiped the sweat off his face, some of which didn't come from exercise.
The expression on Misty's face was unnervingly unreadable.
"So, uh how'd it go?"
Misty shrugged "Fine."
He watched her sit on the bed neighboring his, her fingers twiddling in a way that made him nervous. Ash stayed where he was, afraid to move.
"If you're wondering if we did anything like, say kiss, no, none of that happened."
He would have felt relief if not for the unspoken "but" caught on her lips. He waited for her to continue.
She looked up at him, the ceiling light catching the green of her eyes, turning them almost yellow. "He asked me to stay as a paid-intern. It would be for a few months, but if I wanted to, I could be part of the team permanently. Of course I wouldn't want to stay there permanently, as I told him. I have a gym to run and the title of Elite-Four to win, and I don't think my sisters can hold the fort for more than a year, even with poor Tracy there to help them out. But," she paused, chewing her lip, "I am considering staying for a few short months. It would be a good learning experience."
"I see," Ash said, swallowing down a little too audibly. It would earn her further prestige and knowledge, and would allow her to do more good in this world than she already had. But then that would mean their travels would have to end here. Ash bit his bottom lip,. "You should do it, then. It would be good for you- and them. The Pokémon here could really use a person like you. And I'm sure you know some things that the staff here doesn't know, right? I think you'd be a good fit"
He was trying hard not to let the selfish dread of losing Misty before he even had her settle into his bones and slip out of his mouth.
Misty's eyes were soft as her voice. "I thought you'd say something that."
She stood up, then, walking towards him until they were almost at level if it wasn't for the 2 inches of height Ash had on her. The rhythm in his chest hitched up in pace as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "This isn't the end, you know."
He blinked. "It isn't?"
And she kissed him; she kissed long and hard, the kind of kiss that had been building itself for years, the kind of kiss that fired a cocktail of endorphins and other wonderful things in your blood, so good it made your head spin and your insides un-solid.
When they separated, Ash had to recharge his brain and re-learn how to breathe.
This close, he could count the freckles on her face, dowsed in a flush or red. "I love you, Ash Ketchum, that's not going to change with time or distance, not unless you let it happen. And you won't, will you?"
A chuckle escaped his mouth "No, no I won't let that happen. But uh, just to be clear, does this mean we're together. As in a couple?"
She shut his face up with another kiss.
On their second kiss, his balance gave out as Misty pulled him closer to her, and they collapsed on the bed in a tangle of shaking limbs and nervous, thrilled laughter.
He was leaning on top and against her, and his whole body was burning, radiating and mixing with Misty's own warmth, which could be seen on the flush on Misty's face and he was sure his burned just as red. His feet were still on the ground but his mind felt as if for a moment it had been ripped away and floated above them and all that was left of him was a mess of senses, of the touch and feel of Misty against him, and then his mind came crashing back down on him and he realized that yes, this was happening. She didn't give him time to think more of it, because Misty kissed him again, one arm wrapped around his neck and the other clawing at his hair, encouraging his mouth to work with hers, until they found and matched each others rhythm.
Not sure quite what to do with his hands, he kept them respectfully on either side of her, on the mattress, digging into the sheets as if it was the only thing keeping him sane, but the sound of delight she made against his mouth shot a bolt down his spine, and he saw stars and he-
"'kaaa~" came the embarrassed, flustered noise, and the two of them jumped and started so frenziedly that one would think Pikachu had struck them with a thunderbolt. The Pokémon was using its ears as blindfolds, peaking one eye from around the fold to see if they were finished. Awkwardly and with cheeks as read as Pikachu's, he pulled away from Misty, who looked both annoyed and embarrassed and was biting down on lips still pink from kissing, which made him want to kiss them all over again. Ash stood up and tugged at the hem of his shirt to straighten it out as well as give him a way to calm his hands and his nerves
"Uh, guess we got carried away," Ash creaked out, his voice jagged on some of the words, combing through the tangle of his hair in frustration. That was one disadvantage of having a Pokémon outside of its ball. Almost no privacy. Perhaps it was a good thing he stopped them, because at the rate they were going he might have, he might just not have been able to stop, not unless she did, and she didn't seem to have been slowing down, either. "Sorry, bud."
Pikachu shook its head, pointing at the door as it spoke. I'll give you two some privacy just don't do it in front of me.
"It's okay, Pikachu," Misty said, gathering her ability to speak. "I gotta do some studying before bed, anyway."
"And I need food," said Ash, reminding himself that he needed to eat. His belly had been too filled up with anxiety to fill it up with anything more, but now that he and Misty had come to understanding on where they were going from here, he could use a greasy cheeseburger.
Funny, Ash could sleep on hard, jagged ground and use rocks as pillows when need be; under temperatures that pinched his skin with cold fingers or breathed hot breath into his hair, but on a decent mattress with his head resting on a cushy pillow, he was alert and restless. Tired, but awake.
Nearby, he could hear sheets ruffle and the springs creak, and a silence too deep to mean that the person on the other bed was sleeping.
"Are you awake?" He asked in a hushed voice.
"No," came the reply, also in a quiet tone.
Ash rolled his eyes, and then rolled his body over the other side. From under the comforter, a tuft of orange hair poked out. He was going to miss seeing that bright hair greet him like the sun every morning, miss the way it made he feel when sometimes it accidently brushed against his skin. But he also looked forward to being able to run his hands freely through it on the days they had left together, and would have not so far into the future.
The orange hair gave way to a tired, pretty face as Misty rolled over to face him, her eyes gray in the dark.
"Your thoughts are keeping me awake," she replied, her smile faint. Seeing her smile gave him a flick at the heart, a sensation that used to confuse him. It was still a bit scary, he thought, feeling this intensely for someone who was herself intense. But perhaps this is why they could work, and he would do his damnest to make it work. They each were extremely passionate people with ambitious goals and without each other they may not have gotten this far, and they still had more to push each other for.
"Are you actually a psychic?" Ash teased, wondering if she really did know what he was thinking, even if it was only from just knowing him so well and not from actually being able to see into his mind. "I just hope you don't turn out as scary as Sabrina."
Misty snorted. "Don't remind me. That still was one of the most horrifying experiences of my life. I mean, we've been close to death a number of times, but being kept as living dolls is almost as scary as falling into a pit of bug Pokémon."
"Almost," Ash said, sarcastically. Something about the way she said it made him want to wrap his arms and protect her, even if it was silly that her phobia for bug-type never went away.
"You can share the bed with me if you want." At his stunned silence, she added, "It's just sleeping. I think we've traumatized poor Pikachu enough."
Ash chuckled nervously, feeling Butterfree wreak havoc inside him. "O-okay."
As quietly and smoothly as he could, Ash slipped out of the covers, leaving Pikachu curled up alone on the bed, which the Pokémon either didn't notice or was too tired from battling to care. Heart beating so loud he wondered if Misty could hear it, he lowered himself onto the empty spot next to Misty, and scooted next to her, her scent and warmth wrapping him more cozily than a blanket every could
His hand settled on her hip, an innocent yet intimate place, and when he saw that she didn't protest, he relaxed. That was until he felt a wayward hand run up his shirt, brushing the skin on his abdomen and eliciting a shudder that made him gasp.
"Relax, Mr. Pokémon Master. I just have wanted to do this since I saw you without shirt," she said, and then kissed him softly, so briefly he was left with his lips parted and yearning in the space between them. Eyes still closed, he heard her tither, and when he opened them there was a mischievous smile on her lips. He swallowed.
"Good night," she muttered, turning other direction, leaning and molding the lines of her body against his in a way that made his blood sing and his nerves crackle. Stilling his breath, he held onto her, kissing the back of her head and wishing her a goodnight back. His nerve endings were alive and aware of her, and if he hadn't been able to sleep before, now he would be able to sleep even less, but it was so worth it.
So after 20 years of being a fan, this is the first Pokemon fanfiction I've ever published. To be fair, lost interest 4 years into first starting it, but rediscovered my love for it and Pokeshipping a few months ago after seeing beautiful aaml fanart.