Disclaimer - Of course, I don't own anything! I'm just your average shipaholic klepto!

Author - Warlordess

Notes - I have been feeling very uninspired to write lately… I've had less than zero ideas… but I came up with this one tonight while I was shutting down my department at my job… What if I took a well-known line/moment from another OTP and applied it to this one? That being said, I'd love to thank the writers who made Drew such a butt because, without his stupid rose line, I wouldn't have felt this wave of inspiration I've so desperately been in need of!

(I hope nobody hurts me for stealing this moment and forcing it onto Ash and Misty!)

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Title - "A Rose By Any Other Color" / part one

Summary - … Would not have nearly the same effect on them. Either of them. What the heck has Ash gotten himself into? Pokeshipping!

OoOoO

He can't explain it, but he's had to pump himself up quite a lot to come this far.

It's the first time in quite awhile that he's had enough free time to visit his friends around the Kanto region. Usually he has just long enough to stop at home for a couple of days, see how his mom is doing, celebrate with her over his latest placement in the League, visit Professor Oak's lab to check up on his Pokemon, and then research wherever he'll be wandering off to next.

But the unforeseen free time has given him an opportunity he hadn't previously had the chance to take advantage of.

"Oh, Ash? You're back already, huh? Sorry, I'm still cleaning the…" his redheaded friend, Misty, falters after taking into account his preoccupied hands. "Wait, what's that?" she asks him, earnestly curious of his intentions.

His nerves are set afire again, his unexplainable anxiety threatening to take complete hold over him. The whole thing was supposed to be real quick and simple… He couldn't understand why it seemed so awfully complicated and confusing!

"Oh, uh, this?" he replies innocently, holding up the bouquet he'd bought from a local floral vendor. "Yeah, sorry - I mean, uh, here you go!" And he tosses them into her arms, causing her to drop the mop she'd been previously using to clean the arena floor.

"I - I'm - I mean, I don't…" she rambles on, face flushing furiously at this sudden event taking place between them. She'd known for a long time of course that Ash would someday (maybe, hopefully) come around and finally understand how he felt about her but she hadn't noticed the time had come to pass already. There had been no indicators since her best friend had first arrived the day before that he'd managed to bridge the gap of his own romantic unintelligence…

"Oh, wait! Right! I guess I should explain!"

"Yeah," the redhead says cautiously, "I guess you should."

"Well, it's not a big deal. Those roses are for Gyarados."

"I… what?" she asks in blasphemy. Surely she's misheard him!

"They're for Gyarados! I meant to do this awhile ago but I never got the chance! I got the idea from one of May's… rivals? Yeah, I guess so. One of her rivals. Anyway, do you remember when you came to visit us in Hoenn and you got kidnapped by Colonel Hansen from the Togepi Kingdom?"

"Yeeeees…" she enunciates, just as vigilant towards his intentions as before… perhaps even more-so now that she is figuring him out, at the same time feeling her own hopes flutter away into next to nothing.

Well, it's better to have low expectations when Ash Ketchum is involved.

"I'd been thinking that, even though we helped you out at first, it was really Gyarados that came along and saved the day in the end, right?" the raven-haired trainer rambles, poising a finger as if stating the utmost truest fact in the world.

"I - I guess… But…"

Misty sighs, words strangled into silence as she stares between the bouquet of flush red roses and then back up to her best friend's face… back down to the roses, and then again up at his awkward smile and shining eyes. He looked so - so proud of himself for coming up with this tactic of gratefulness!

"I'm sorry, Ash, but is this some sort of joke?" she braves her own fears enough to ask next.

"Joke? No! Why would you think something like that?!" he asks incredulously, angrily, frustratedly, and she thinks maybe she really has read him wrong, even though her too-good-to-be-true sense had started to go off.

"You're giving me flowers."

"No, I'm giving Gyarados flowers."

"And not just any flowers, but roses, of all things!"

"So what?" the raven-haired trainer yelps in reply to this, and Misty quirks a brow.

Right, right; remember those low expectations…

"Ash," she starts again, clearing her throat and venturing on into some unfamiliar territory, "You said that one of May's… rivals… does this? Gives her flowers?"

"Gives her Pokemon flowers," he corrects her pointedly.

"They do this regularly? Give her - um, her Pokemon - flowers?"

"Drew gives May a rose every time they meet! He always makes sure that she knows they're for her Beautifly or something though. I don't know why he thinks he needs to be so specific all the time. As if she doesn't know!"

Drew, huh…? The redhead wonders to herself distantly. She can't say that the name meant anything to her, though perhaps May had mentioned him a couple of times before. But then the Cerulean gym trainer regains her senses, rejoins the present, and makes her bed.

"… That's complete bull!"

"… Huh?"

"I'm saying that Drew is not giving May's Pokemon any number of red roses!"

"I - I don't…" Ash gulps, that odd anxiety flaring back up as his gut starts doing flip-flops around his ribcage. "What do you mean?"

"Ash, the red rose stands for respect!" she states as if it's the most obvious thing in the world.

"Okay, and? Doesn't it make sense that'd he'd respect a Pokemon he's giving a gift to? Even if that Pokemon does belong to his rival!"

"It also stands for romantic love. Are you telling me this Drew guy is in love with May's Beautifly too?"

"I, wait, h - hold on a second there!" he exclaims in utter terror. This couldn't be happening to him! He was just an innocent bystander in all of this, wasn't he?!

Ash pauses for an extra moment or two, doing his best to breathe deep and fight off the nerves and fear clawing up the back of his neck. He'd handled at least a dozen legendary Pokemon, life-threatening horrors, evil megalomaniacs hellbent on taking over or destroying just about everything in existence… but this was completely different compared to any of that!

"M - Maybe Drew doesn't know what red roses mean!" he cries, voice cracking and fading to nothing, and he feels his brain literally begging for air but he refuses to give it. After all, if he manages to pass out, it might be enough of a distraction for Misty to call off this pseudo-interrogation they've stumbled into.

"I'm telling you now, Ash, any guy who goes out of his way to carry an endless supply of red roses is not just handing them out willy-nilly to his rival's Pokemon."

"But - I mean - I did. Sure, you're not my rival, and I guess one round dozen isn't really an endless supply, but I didn't know the meaning behind them and here I am, casually handing them over to you - I - I mean, to Gyarados! Through you!"

"I guess," the redhead scowls at his apparent need to clear up any possible misunderstanding about his intentions (as if she didn't already know them at this point), "I should have specified any normal guy."

She sighs, taking in his despondent expression. He seems wounded, as if he's been pushed into a situation he would never have seen coming in a million years, and definitely something he wasn't ready for… which, she supposed, he clearly wasn't. She should have known. She really shouldn't have gotten her hopes up anyway… because now those hopes had come back to kick her in the butt.

"You should have realized what Drew meant by giving May something as beautiful, pricey, and novel as a red rose, Mr. Pokemon Master!" She scoffs, turning up her nose and doing her best to hide her own hurt. "It's not like he's running around handing these out to all of his rivals, right?"

Ash still doesn't say anything, makes no attempt to refute her claims or accusations, and she knows that she's made the right decision.

"Here, dummy," she says flatly, thrusting the bouquet once and for all back into her best friend's unprepared arms. "Gyarados doesn't need your thanks anyway; at least, not like this."

"B - but…"

"For goodness sake, Ash, he's a giant underwater dragon! What's he going to do with a bunch of roses anyway, right?" she asks him furiously, throwing her arms up in the air in annoyance. Yes, just annoyance… and nothing else.

"R - right, I guess," and yet his expression doesn't change, at least not much, as he shuffles on his feet and awkwardly holds the bouquet in his hand.

"Can you stop looking like that, Mr. Pokemon Master? It's your own fault for not reading between the lines! I always knew you were too immature to understand matters of the heart! I've been saying it for years, haven't I?" she asks wryly, though the bittersweet grin on her face seems to be enough to lighten the mood.

"Yeah…"

"But, come to think of it, there's one thing I still don't get," she notes almost absently, drawing a finger to her chin in thought.

"What's that?"

"Well, you said this Drew guy gave May's Pokemon a rose - that means one, singular - every time they happened to meet again… So I've gotta ask, why'd you go so far as to bring an entire bouquet?"

"To be honest, I just thought… Like I said, I'd been meaning to do this for a long time, you know? But still…"

"But still…?" she coaxes him into further explaining.

"I had thought… that, even if Gyarados only got one rose… that you're such a romantic that you'd probably keep the rest anyway."

"I wouldn't steal a gift intended for my Pokemon!" she exclaims furiously at this consideration.

"That's not what I meant!" he shouts back, now equally as perturbed as her, "I just - just meant that you could if you wanted to!"

"Could what?!" she shrieks back, fists clenched in fury.

"Keep them! I - In fact, here!" he yells almost viciously, throwing the slightly ruffled but still mostly in tact roses back into her grasp, "It's not like I have any use for them now, you know?!"

"I - what is - I can't believe - you idiot–" the redhead stutters in aggravation, gripping the roses tightly in her hands, taking care not to hurt herself on the thorns.

For all of her bluster and irritation, she can't help but think that… just maybe… if this really was a part of his original plan… that there might still be hope after all.

Alas, she has no time to articulate such curiosities because Ash immediately turns on his heel and walks back through the archway leading to the waiting room of her gym.

"Ah, A - Ash, where are you going?" she calls out, hoping she hasn't just set fire to a bridge she'd originally thought was more along the lines of a steel fortress.

"I'm gonna cool my head! Might as well go pick up Pikachu and my other Pokemon from the PokeCenter anyway!" the raven-haired trainer explains, still sounding a bit upset, though his face might have been a bit flushed for some other reason as well.

Ash is halfway to the Cerulean City Pokemon Center when his thoughts u-turn back onto the situation just taking place between him and one of his oldest time friends about ten minutes previous.

He can't help thinking that there are a few things that make much more sense now that he understands Drew's rose habit for what it really is… (And trust the ever-romantic Misty to know about it right away.)

Anyway, he shakes himself out of the apparently constant subconscious existence of the redheaded gym trainer in his mind, it was definitely true that Drew never handed out roses to anyone but May. Sure, he showed them off sometimes, but that wasn't the same thing by a long shot. And it's not like Drew didn't respect any other coordinators or trainers, right? Sure, maybe the guy's ego kept him from feeling that way for as many people as he should have, but from what Ash could remember, Drew definitely respected Solidad, didn't he? And she had never mentioned receiving any, er, gifts from the guy!

Still, shouldn't he have been more nervous about those kinds of things? Ash didn't understand much about it (though he'd never give Misty the satisfaction of knowing that), but it made sense that… that any sort of… intimate… romantic exchange… would leave a guy pretty stressed out.

And yet Drew always seemed so cool and suave about the whole thing, as if he didn't have any cares in the world!

Ash scoffs, one hand scratching furiously at his scalp as he finally approached the PokeCenter, and he breaks from that irksome train of thought.

It's annoying to think about how much he sweated over giving Gyarados flowers when Drew apparently had enough cool to survive just about anything. It's downright infuriating to think of all the time he wasted wondering if he had the stones to go through with buying flowers as a gift for someone else when Drew was able to carry a lifetime supply in his back pocket or… wherever. It's absolutely implosive to acknowledge how much he had to psych himself up just to approach Misty (the surrogate flower receiver) and explain himself with a straight face and even tone of voice when Drew constantly sauntered up to May to do the exact same thing.

… Except Drew never intended for it to be the exact same thing apparently.

Drew intended to give May the flowers and had just used her Pokemon as an excuse.

He, Ash, had planned to give Gyarados flowers… but had claimed that Misty could keep the leftovers.

Misty, the surrogate, who he'd had to encourage and motivate himself into approaching because he was so nervous about the whole thing.

Misty, who he'd incidentally given a dozen roses to just twenty minutes ago.

Misty, who'd been so flabbergasted by that token, that'd she'd been too speechless to keep him from leaving her behind while he traveled to the local PokeCenter.

Misty, the only girl he's ever even considered enacting such exchanges of gratefulness with… despite the fact that he'd surely been saved or assisted by many a friend's Pokemon in the past, hasn't he?

Uh oh. He had a feeling he was in trouble.

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Notes – And there we have it! I obviously fit in some much needed Contestshipping introspective, always a good time, but the focus was my number one OTP after all so… sorry to that ship but I just love messing with Ash too much!

Agh, anyway, comments and likes/reblogs are much appreciated (or else, on any other site, reviews and faves).

Tbh, I've been thinking about wanting to get back into Ash's Nightmare over the past couple of days… but don't get your hopes up.