just as the tide turns
Misty doesn't get her fairytale romance. But in retrospect, she wouldn't wish for anything else.
. . .
The water is still.
Misty wonders if life just likes to mess around with her.
Her leisurely day of fishing in the river was going just fine. It was one of those days when she was feeling at her most relaxed, focused entirely on the gentle bobbing of the lure. She had finally left home on her own journey to become a Water Pokémon Master. Ready to prove herself like the beautiful, strong, independent girl she is to her stupid sisters. The least the world can do is let her get a good catch in the water – that's all she's really asking for!
Instead, Misty catches a boy. An ordinary, ordinary boy.
A boy who steals her bike.
"I'll give it back someday—!"
Fate is definitely messing with her.
Misty's not dumb enough to chase after him; a storm was brewing, and it was most definitely going to last the entire night. What a twist of luck. Later, she'll hunt that kid down and give him what's coming to him…
For now, she takes shelter in the cavern of an oak tree. Outside, the gray clouds thicken quickly, charging the air with more and more humidity.
Misty decides to burn the image of the boy in her mind as she rewinds her fishing line patiently. Black hair and brown eyes, a tad shorter than her, hopelessly lost and confused and recklessly diving into a river – definitely the thick-headed, inconsiderate kind of guys she's used to dealing with in her sisters' fanboys. And the more she thinks about the indignity of it all, the more scalding-hot anger builds in her body.
His body was all scratched up, his clothes worn and tattered. And yet—
He cradled his Pikachu in his arms, as if afraid he'd lose his own heart.
plop plop plop plop plop shhhhhhhhhhh
So if someone cares about Pokémon that much, they can't be all that bad, right?
Leaning back, her bare shoulders touch woven bark.
The flames inside slowly begin to fade, ebbing away into the humid weather. For a while, she listens to the falling rain, losing herself in white noise.
Misty sighs a little, complacent.
Besides, what's the use of getting so worked up over a guy like him? He's just a boy. An ordinary boy who stole her bike on an ordinary day.
Thunder rumbles, and a bolt of blue-white flashes across the sea in her eyes.
Ash is his name. Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town.
She can't really forget when the guy yells it every chance he gets to challengers.
If nothing else, Ash is a decent battle rival. He's not the best Pokémon Trainer – actually, he's fairly average, if not flat-out bad. But he works hard, and is always eager to improve.
Misty becomes accustomed to all of his usual habits, both the good and the bad. Mostly the bad. Ash snores noisily at night, and kicks around with an idiotic smile on his face. Occasionally, when she wakes up early, Misty hears absurd snippets about delicious food or battles. It's really all that goes on in his head. His stomach growls the moment he's hungry, and his mouth is even quicker about voicing it. Brock's a blessing to their group for that. It's not that she can't cook, but she'd rather be training, you know? Since she knows how rightfully concerned Ash's mom is, Misty at least takes on the responsibility of reminding him of his daily rituals – things like brushing his teeth, and eating breakfast more slowly.
Ash is arrogant, childish, impatient. Reckless, way too reckless. Yet also passionate, warm-hearted, and stubbornly determined.
If Misty were to tease him, she would say his list of priorities only consisted of Pokémon battles and food. But the truth is more than that. Ash loves his Pokémon and friends deeply – loves them so, so much that Misty can't believe it sometimes.
And, well, they bicker and fight all the time, but it's because they trust each other and know they'll still be there for each other anyways.
So, Misty supposes that Ash Ketchum is also her really good friend.
—But she'd rather be caught dead than say that out loud to anyone, ever.
Somewhere along the way, Misty forgets that Ash owes her a new bike.
When? she asks. When did she forget?
When did everyday with the others become so much fun?
(When did she fall?)
If this is what the universe's idea of fate or destiny is, then Misty would be a fool to deny it. Ever since she was a little girl, she's wanted a prince charming to sweep her off her feet, a thornless rosy kind of love to capture her heart.
Rudy offers her the promise of a paradise and a fairytale come true. An island surrounded by the sea, an adoring little sister.
But Rudy can't give her what she's searching for – searching for – what, exactly?
It's like the feeling of waves, but also a breeze, maybe—
"You're being stupid, Mist."
When she's alone that night with the beats of her own heart, Misty wipes the tears from her eyes with an incredulous, almost ironic laugh. Since when was Ash ever right?
A hopeless romantic, her sisters always said. It's probably why she fell in love with the sea in the first place.
(from now on)
Misty decides to play the fool.
Time flies by too quickly.
All of a sudden, her journey with Ash and the others is over, gone – they're separating. A blink of an eye.
Misty makes a tiny wish in her heart right then and there, but it drops into a blue ocean, and she wonders if it'll ever be heard.
Just a stupid, ordinary boy who stole her bike. But he's also her best friend.
(Misty loves him.)
It's in the way he laughs so whole-heartedly, like he's the happiest guy in the entire world. It's the gentleness in his voice after just losing a battle, comforting his Pokémon with the softest of touches.
It's in the way the wind brushes against his cheeks under blue skies. The way the sunlight lights up his smile.
Ash is molten fire under an ocean, the warmth of sand shining in the rays.
He's like a breath of fresh air after the rain, or the burst of colors in a rainbow's wake.
Misty loves him.
"And Ash is never really alone, because he's got..."
Misty should be afraid of that vow on forever, should be afraid of just how deep she's dived. But she isn't.
All she feels is the warmth of a sunset, wrapped in a nostalgic feeling like home.
Misty is the Cerulean City Gym Leader now, increasingly famed for her specialty in Water Types. Challengers battle for the Cascade Badge, and she never disappoints in giving her opponents a tough fight. Misty trains day and night, after all, when her sisters aren't begging her for help in their water shows (the mermaid costume is still an embarrassment to reality though) or when she's completing her daily rounds with the Water Pokémon.
Meanwhile, Brock's in Johto completing his apprenticeship to become a Pokémon Doctor. He's genuinely making strides towards his dreams, and with his kind-hearted soul and Breeding experience, she knows he'll be amazing. Still, Brock doesn't have a girlfriend, and she's not really surprised. Occasionally, May would be on television performing in another dazzling Pokémon Contest, confident and beautiful. Max should be a Trainer soon too.
Everyone's making great strides towards their dreams, and a glimmer of happiness bubbles up at this tiny revelation. Misty can't help the smile that spreads across her face. They've changed so much from the beginning of their journeys, when they were young and inexperienced! Made so many friends for a lifetime, some a little more faraway than others.
(It can get a little bit lonely sometimes, though, she admits.)
Every once in awhile, she'll take a break from the Gym battles and cross through Viridian Forest. It's great, because it's not like the first time on foot with Ash when she had to put up with all those bugs. Thank goodness for bikes.
Pallet Town's in the countryside, so it's peaceful in a leisurely kind of way, bustling under the heat of the sun. Tracey always comes over to help Daisy out with all kinds of odd jobs, so she returns the favor at Professor Oak's lab. It's always fun to play with Ash's ever-growing team of Pokémon, anyways. After, she likes to invite Ash's mom out to a nearby cake shop, drinking tea together under the shade of a parasol. By the garden patio, they make idle chat, imagining what Ash was up to now or what new adventures he's discovered.
(She misses her best friend.)
On the way home, Misty always passes by the river where she first met Ash and Pikachu. By the bank, she stares into her reflection, of bright orange locks and sea-green eyes. How many years have passed? she wonders. Enough to fall in love, enough to turn her world completely upside-down by the most chance encounter.
Fate's actually been kind to her, hasn't it? In the strangest of ways. If it really was destiny that she met Ash, Pikachu, and Brock, then she's glad her life has had so many blessings. Because a little part of her still thinks that maybe it was all just dumb luck that things fell into place like this. If she hadn't gotten into that stupid fight with her sisters and left home, if she hadn't been fishing in the river that day, if he hadn't been acting reckless as always or stolen her bike—
(a million 'ifs')
The water is as still as always. After a few moments, Misty climbs back onto her bike and follows the breeze.
It's strange. These are the days that have become ordinary now.
It's always an awfully long time before the lull of the waves moves again.
Ash Ketchum is a free spirit at heart, always traveling on a journey, always searching for a goal in the distance. Maybe it comes from his impatience too, because he can never stay in one place for too long. He's a little in love with adventure, craves the taste of it.
But Misty's okay with that.
The door opens ceremoniously, and her heart rises.
"I'm home!" Loud, confident. Pikachu's greetings, as energetic as she remembers, follow after.
And Misty breaks first to the doorway, because she's been waiting forever and he's always so late for a self-proclaimed hero. Ash gives a double-take when she trips into sight, but just as quickly, the surprise melts into an affectionate familiarity. Misty finds sparkling chocolate-brown eyes and a bright smile splayed across in boyish charm.
"Misty! You're here!" There's a trace of wisdom in Ash's expression now, a temperance to his valor that wasn't there before. The maturity doesn't quite suit him yet, but it will.
"Finally decided to give up and come back, Mr. Pokémon Master?"
"Hey! I did great in the League!" Ash crosses his arms, scoffing, before his expression suddenly brightens. He shoots her a triumphant smirk. It's still the same old cheeky Ash, in the end. Ego too big for his own head. "And I have a shiny new trophy to prove it."
"Sure, sure," she says, earning her a gratifying pout. But when Misty speaks again, she is surprised at how soft, how fragile her voice is. Her head dips down, just the tiniest bit. "Give me a hug, will ya? It's been a while."
"Missed me that much, Mist?" It's not so much teasing as it is gentle.
Her heart beats, slowly, an even rhythm. Ash is braving a stupidly fond expression. What am I gonna do with you? the grin seems to ask.
And to to be honest, she doesn't know either, what her happy ending will look like. But for the moment, the future is just the bright, bright future.
Right now, she believes there's all the time in the world for best friends and chance encounters and new beginnings – feels like maybe that's how things should be.
And so she steps forward.
(No, she doesn't mind.)
Because every time Ash sails out to sea, Misty will just be his harbor. She'll be the light to guide his way home.
"Welcome back, Ash!"
—to an incredibly special boy that means the world to her
. . .
I began writing this about a year ago, when a very peculiar and curious feeling overcame me. Misty's journey had ended for all intents and purposes, but outside of Pokémon Chronicles, we don't see too much of her life anymore – in relation to Ash, especially.
How did Misty come to terms with falling in love with Ash? What does she think, remembering all her friends who are in very different places now. How does she feel, when her best friend comes home?
Questions like that prompted me to explore them here. I'll be writing from Ash's perspective in a future fic to really come full circle… but until then!
Happy 20th Anniversary to the Pokémon anime!