Let's Be Honest
"Hey, can we talk?"
Misty squinted up in to the dark, rubbing the sleep from her eyes and groaning. "Huh? Wha-? Ash?"
The boy nodded, his eyes wide. "Yeah, Hi. Can we talk?"
"Right now?" She glanced at the glowing digital clock on the dresser across the room and nearly choked as the numbers came into focus. "Ash, it's almost three in the morning! What the hell?! Can't it wait?"
Ash, for his part, did look relatively distressed, not that it was an excuse. Distressing things seemed to happen to that boy on the regular, and he could deal with whatever was going on on his own until at least seven as far as Misty was concerned.
Ash, however, had other thoughts. "I don't think it can," he replied, biting his lip. "Just... Please?"
Damn him and his big brown eyes, she thought bitterly, mumbling a few choice swears and swinging her legs off the bed. Like she could say no to him. "This better be important, Ketchum."
"It is," he promised. "At least, I think it is. I dunno. It kind of depends."
Yawning, she pulled her fuzzy pink robe around herself and followed after Ash, out of her bedroom and down the stairs, finally stopping when they got to the gym pool. She raised an eyebrow as he sat down at the edge and patted the spot next to him.
He wouldn't make eye contact.
"Okay," she said with a sigh once they were both sitting down. "What's up?"
Ash was uncharacteristically quiet as he dipped his feet into the water, treading the surface and still refusing to meet her eyes.
"Is this about the battle?" she guessed, more to fill the awkward silence than anything. "Don't worry, I'm not upset that I lost. Gyarados and I fought hard, and heh, it's not like we've had much experience with Z Moves before. Any actually! And-"
"It's not about the battle."
They fell back into the heavy silence, and Misty decided to let her feet join Ash's in the water. Clearly, she wouldn't be getting back to bed any time soon, so she figured she might as well.
She stole a glance at Ash's face, trying her best to figure out what was going on in that head of his. His eyes were intense and focused on his feet as they lightly kicked through the water, his hair was a disaster, like he had been running his hands through it all night, and his handsome face seemed almost pained, like so many thoughts were swirling through his brain they were causing him physical discomfort.
She opened her mouth, just about to comment on how he must have a headache from his brain actually trying to form coherent thoughts for once, when he finally spoke.
"Mallow made a weird comment to me tonight at dinner."
"Oh yeah? What about?"
If she didn't know any better, Misty could have sworn he started blushing. "Uh, you, actually. And, um, me. Us."
Ah. Misty knew where this was going. "Oh?"
Nope, he was most definitely blushing now. She found herself fighting back her own blush as she watched his cheeks redden adorably. "She uh..." He coughed. "She said we would make a cute couple."
"Ash, people have been saying that for years," Misty offered lamely. What else was she supposed to say at that? She also thought she had Ash made a good couple, but that didn't mean it was going to happen. Misty had let go of that pipe dream long ago.
Not that she stopped loving Ash of course. She didn't think that was possible; the boy wasn't exactly the kind of person you could stop loving easily. He was the kindest, sweetest, most talented guy she had ever met, and she would have been lying if she didn't find him more and more handsome every time he returned from a journey in a different region. Hell, just a few days ago she had been inwardly cursing the Alolan sun for kissing his skin in just that way that brought out those freckles across his nose and shoulders she absolutely adored.
Yeah. She still had it pretty bad for him.
But she promised herself she wasn't going to wait for him any longer. She had decided she needed to move on, and that's what she was going to do.
Attempt to do.
She was trying her best, okay?
"I know, I know," Ash continued, his eyebrows furrowing together in what looked like frustration. "It's just... it's different."
What on earth was he talking about? "What do you mean?" she asked.
Ash paused, running a hand through his messy hair and looking up through the glass ceiling. "When people used to say... you know... about us, it was when we were traveling together and stuff. We were a boy and a girl, together every day, bickering all the time, and like... It's not that I agreed with them or anything!" He said this part extremely quickly, with a worried, fast glance in her direction she had to roll her eyes at. "But I could... understand the confusion."
Misty let those words float around in her head for a few moments, trying to work out how to best move forward from here without letting too many of her own thoughts and feelings show.
"And now?" she asked quietly.
"What's different now?" she clarified. "You said things are different. How are they different?"
"Oh." He looked back down at the pool. Still not meeting her eyes. "Well, we're not with each other all the time now," he said finally. "And Mallow and all them know me really well. I always thought... I guess... that people who were saying that stuff were just saying it to be... I dunno. Silly. Or mean. Like, to make fun of us. You know?"
She nodded. "But with Mallow...?"
Ash sighed. "Mallow isn't the type to say something like... that... all willy-nilly... And then Lana..." He paused there, his cheeks flushing darker once again. "Lana had to go and call you..." he trailed off into a mumble.
Misty felt like her heart was going to beat out of her chest. "What did Lana call me?"
He bit his lip. Misty's heart skipped a beat. 'C'mon Ash, say it,' she willed him in her mind. 'Just say it.'
"She said you were really, uh, pretty."
There it was. Misty gulped, feeling butterfree flapping around in her stomach.
"W-well, Lana's a smart girl," she joked, trying to lighten the mood. "She has good taste, obviously. With the water pokemon and all, and-"
But Ash wouldn't take the bait.
"Misty," he mumbled seriously.
She held her breath, her words falling dead in her throat as, finally, his chestnut eyes met hers.
"Have you ever thought about it? Us, I mean?"
If her heart was skipping a beat before, it was positively flat-lining now. No, no, no, she thought, almost angrily, this wasn't fair! She was supposed to be moving on, letting him go, and yet...
If she was really going to try to let him go, there was no point in lying anymore, was there? It was time to be completely honest.
"I have," she repeated quieter this time, and she tried not to think about how almost... hopeful Ash looked in the moment. "A lot, actually, if I'm being honest."
"Really?" He had practically whispered it.
"I had thought it was pretty obvious."
"Not to me."
Smirk. "That's a surprise."
She giggled, happy to have the tension break, however little. "Is that why you woke me up?"
He smiled, a little bashful. "Honestly? I couldn't stop thinking about it. What if I had been missing something all these years? I mean... I was so excited to see you again. Pikachu was so excited to see you again! And, getting to hang out with you, and battle you again... Just like old times. Not to mention..." He trailed off.
"Not to mention what?" she asked with a grin.
Ash smiled back warily. "Aw, Mist, you aren't gonna make me say it, are you?"
"Of course I am!" she laughed, poking him in the cheek. "Spill it!"
He groaned, scrunching his face up in disgust, though it didn't reach his eyes. "You do look kinda pretty," he admitted, "for a tomboy."
Misty couldn't help the giddy smile that crept onto her face. She would have felt embarrassed by it, if Ash wasn't sporting one exactly like it. "Well, what about you?"
"What? You think I'm pretty, too?"
She snorted. "No, you idiot! I mean..." She ran a hand through her hair. "Have you ever thought about... us?"
"Like before tonight?" he asked. She nodded, and he paused in contemplation. "Yeah. Probably. Not that I would have admitted it though, even to myself." His silly smile fell suddenly, and Misty was alarmed at how much she missed it already. "It doesn't really matter though, does it?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, I go back to Alola tomorrow." He sighed. "For who knows how long this time. Even if... We could never..."
And just like that, the whole situation finally caught up with her.
This was actually happening. The realization hit her like a ton of bricks. She and Ash were actually have this conversation she had long since discarded as a girlhood fantasy. Here, under the night sky at the edge of her pool, the eve before that scruffy little kid from Pallet Town was due back to his adventure, and she was due back to her own responsibilities at the gym, they were actually doing this.
Was she really ready to let him go?
Maybe it was the way the stars twinkled above them, or maybe it was the way the moonlight was reflected in his eyes. Maybe it was even those stupid sun kissed freckles she loved so much. She didn't know.
But when his brown eyes met hers, and his lips whispered out a breathy "Misty?" to break the silence, she had her answer.
As if there was any goddamn doubt.
"Why did you wake me up tonight?" she asked finally.
Ash, not expecting this question, blinked owlishly. "Uh, like I said, I kept thinking about stuff and I couldn't sleep. But what does-?"
"Hush," she scolded, and even more to his surprise, placed a single finger on his lips to shut him up. "Why couldn't you sleep? What, exactly, were you thinking about?"
As expected, his face began to heat up. "Misty, come on, I-"
"Tell me, Ash. You woke me up in the middle of the night for this, I deserve to know," she said, interrupting him before her nerves caught up with her and she stopped herself. "Why couldn't you sleep?"
"I was thinking."
"About what, Ash?"
"About you, okay?!" he snapped, his face now a brilliant crimson. "You. Are you happy now?"
Actually yes, Misty was quite happy. She wasn't about to let it go, though. She had waited too long for this to give up now. "What about me?" she demanded.
"Are you really doing this right now?"
"Yes. Now what about me?"
And just like that, his prickly, defensive demeanor changed, morphing into something a little softer, a little shyer. When he finally spoke, it was such a quiet whisper, Misty had to lean in to hear him.
"I wondered what it would be like to hold your hand, or dance with you. I...I wondered what it would be like walk with you along the beach at night, or...or maybe even-," he gulped, "-kiss you."
Misty's heart was beating so fast and so strong, she was honestly surprised Ash couldn't hear it. But sensing that he wasn't finished, she smiled at him, willing him to continue. She felt chills down her spine when he smiled back softly at the gesture.
"And then," he continued, "I thought about going back to Alola, and how, well... you wont be there." He frowned. "And, well, how are you supposed to be with someone, if you aren't able to be with them?"
He closed his eyes as he leaned back on his hands, looking miserable. Misty's heart broke.
"Would you?" she asked finally. "Want to be with someone you couldn't be with, I mean."
His eyes opened, but they didn't look over at her, focused intently on something in the night sky through the windows. "I wondered about that too," he admitted. "And, well, honestly? I think I would. I mean, it would be hard. Like, super, super hard. And I would want to be really sure and comfortable with my feelings. But... for the right person? Yeah. I would be willing to give it a try."
Misty smiled softly. "Sure and comfortable with your feelings, huh?"
"Well, I've only even known about them for a few hours, ya know," he said with a chuckle. "I'd want to, like, I dunno, train for it first."
She snorted. "Train for it? Really? Like a pokemon battle?"
"Well, yeah!" he said, defending himself, especially as he noticed Misty's 'oh-my-god-you-are-such-a-dork' grin. "You wouldn't rush in to a big, important pokemon battle without training for it first."
"Oh?" she asked, biting back her grin. "You wouldn't? That's new."
He rolled his eyes, but his lips betrayed his annoyance with a small twitch upwards. "Okay, okay, I get it. Sarcasm, your second language, ha ha. But I'm being serious here!" He bit his lip. "I don't wanna screw up something this important."
Misty felt like her heart was melting. Was this conversation really happening? Ash Ketchum was talking to her about starting and maintaining relationships? More importantly, a relationship with her?! She knew she had to approach her next sentence cautiously, so as not to spook him.
Still nervous, but feeling bold, she placed her slightly trembling, probably sweaty hand on his. As expected, his head shot up and his wide eyes met hers at her action, but she swallowed her embarrassment and pushed forward.
"You know, we don't live in the stone age. It's not like living far away from someone needs to equal never seeing them." She looked at him expectantly, hoping he would see where she was going with this.
Of course, this was Ash, so he just kind of looked at her blankly.
With a sigh, she continued. "Vid phones, Poketech, I'm pretty sure Rotomdex is a phone in itself, right? Not to mention the fact that you actually have a stable housing situation in Alola. I can actually find you without calling around to twenty Pokemon Centers for once!"
"Heh, yeah, I didn't think about that."
"And," she started, pausing for a second to help build up the courage, "it's not like we have to go straight to like, boyfriend and girlfriend or anything." Her face was burning.
Luckily, Ash's was as well. For some reason, that helped. "Oh...Yeah?" he asked, though it came out more of a cough than anything.
"Yeah!" she offered. "Like you said, this is all pretty new to you, we don't need to rush in to anything. But, like, what if we just kind of did the long distance version of...dating?"
"Dating?!" Ash practically screeched, blushing even more wildly than before. "You said we weren't going to go straight to boyfriend and girlfriend stuff!"
"We aren't!" She rolled her eyes. "When I say dating, I mean like, literally dating. Going on dates. The things people do to get to know each other better." She nudged him with her shoulder. "Like training for the real thing."
Ash seemed to calm down at that a little. He smirked. "No offence Mist, but I think we know each other well enough."
"Well, yeah, as friends. But not in a romantic sense."
The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them, and Ash reacted predictably to hearing the big "R" word dropped so casually: immediately blushing, adverting his eyes, and biting his lip. Misty couldn't help but smile a little wistfully at the sight. She was going to enjoy this. That pink on his cheeks was quickly becoming her new favorite color, and she was bringing it out almost effortlessly.
"Is it... different?" he asked quietly. "Getting to know each other like...that?"
"I guess not. Not really." She pursed her lips, thinking it over. "Knowing us, it'll be exactly the same as being friends, just with more honesty."
He snorted. "More honesty?"
"Sure. Like, I can finally be honest about the fact that I think you're really cute." There was that pink again. She grinned, it was almost too easy. "This is the part where tell me how pretty I am," she teased.
"Oh Arceus, don't make me say it again!" Laughing, he ran a hand through his hair, finally pausing to meet her eyes. "But, um." He coughed. "I uh, do think you're...you know." He laughed. "Aw man, I'm going to be so bad at this."
Misty couldn't help but giggle along with him. "Don't worry, I will be too. But at least we'll be awful together."
Ash got suspiciously quiet after that, drawing Misty's attention. He was glancing at her, looking like he wanted to say something, but not quite knowing how to form the words. She decided to take pity and help him out.
"What?" she asked.
He shook his head. "It's just... is this, uh, new for you too? This whole...dating thing?"
It took her a moment, but when she finally realized what he was asking, she couldn't help but soften. Was he really checking up on her love life since they had traveled together? "No Ash, I've never dated anyone before."
"Oh yeah? Never?"
She smiled softly at him. "Never. Not that there haven't been offers, of course," she boasted.
Ash, to Misty's delight, pouted at this. "Offers? A lot of offers?"
"Hm, a few."
"And you never took any of them up on it?"
She smiled at him out of the corner of her eye. "Kinda had my eye on someone else."
It took him a few seconds to connect the dots, but it wasn't hard to figure out when he finally worked out what she was implying. "O-oh," he mumbled, looking down at the water and trying to hide the smile that was twitching itself onto his lips. "Sooo, like, the whole time then, huh?"
"The whole time."
She giggled. "I told you before that I had thought about this a lot, Ash."
"Well, yeah," he said, allowing himself a small chuckle, running a hand through his hair. "But I didn't think you..."
"Ash," she said with a sigh, albeit a tender one. "Like I said, this is our friendship, just with us being honest with each for a change. If I tell you I feel a certain way, or that I think a certain thing, I mean it." She paused for a moment. "And...I hope you'll do the same."
Luckily, that didn't come out as sappy as it sounded in her head, and Ash seemed to be taking her words seriously. He fell quiet once again, focusing on his thoughts, and Misty knew the best thing was to let him think these things through for himself.
Finally, he met her eyes. "Okay. Then I want to be honest."
Her heart skipped a beat. "Go ahead."
Nodding to himself, he smiled sheepishly. "I am really, really, tired."
He laughed, waving his hand in defense. "Wait, wait, I'm not done!" Obviously taking her unimpressed glare as a cue to continue, he grinned boyishly and went on. "I'm really tired, but I also really don't want to go to bed yet. I kinda... don't want tomorrow to come, actually," he finished quietly. "I leave tomorrow."
Okay, that had actually been pretty sweet. "Aww," she cooed, making Ash roll his eyes.
"Yeah, yeah," he grumbled, even though he was smiling. "It's just, we decided to do this... thing."
Blush. "Yes. That. Go on dates. But what does that look like with you in Kanto and me all the way in Alola?"
Misty paused to think that over herself. She was surprised, actually. She was so focused on getting them to this point, did she even know what that point was?
"Well, calling more, I guess." She shrugged. "Buying each other presents, texting goodnight, or just when we're thinking of each other... Visiting more." She narrowed her eyes at him with that. He stuck out his tongue.
"Well, that goes for you too, then!" he pointed out.
Misty laughed. "Oh no, I have to go visit you in tropical and beautiful Alola? What a nightmare!"
Ash chuckled at this, nodding in understanding. "Okay, good point. I'm gonna hold you to that though, so no backing out!"
They smiled warmly at each other for a few moments, before Ash reminded them both how tired he was a big yawn. Checking the clock in the gym arena, Misty noted it was nearing four o'clock, and had to admit she was yearning to go back to sleep as well.
"We should get back to bed," she said quietly, the regret obvious in her tone.
Ash nodded solemnly. "I know."
"Yeah. Let me help ya."
Ash pulled his feet out of the pool and hopped up, extending his hand to Misty. She let him lift her to her feet, allowing her hand to linger in his for a moment too long before letting go.
"I'm glad you woke me up," she said.
Ash smiled. "Me too."
"When is your flight?"
Misty nodded, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. "We'll have to leave here pretty early to get to the airport on time."
"You're coming to drop us off, right?"
They were stalling and they both knew it, but Misty couldn't bring herself to leave him just yet. The morning would be so hectic, and with everyone else around, there was no way they would get a personal, intimate goodbye, so she needed to make this count.
"Before we go to bed, I have one more thing I need to be honest about."
"I've been wanting to do this for a long time."
She took a deep breath, squared up her shoulders, and did it. She kissed Ash Ketchum. She stood frozen for no longer than a second or two before finally pulling away slowly and glancing up at him cautiously to see his reaction. It took a moment for the realization to creep its way onto his face, but when it finally did, his cheeks flushed with color and his mouth hung open.
"Mist... Did...did you just-?" he stammered, delicately touching his lips.
"Oh...oh wow, I did!" she laughed, covering her flushing cheeks. "I just kissed you!"
"You just kissed me!"
Together, they burst into a fit of giggles, Misty repeatedly tucking her hair behind her ears, and Ash rubbing at his neck and running his hand through his hair, both self-conscientiously trying to play it cool and failing miserably.
Relieved that he hadn't gone running and screaming into the distance like she had predicted, Misty finally pulled it together enough to clear her throat and meet his eyes with her own. "So, uh, that's... all I wanted to say. I will be going to bed now, and I won't be coming out until I'm forty."
Ash, the sweetheart, immediately waved his hands in protest."No! No, no, that was... That was nice."
"Oh...Good. I thought so too." She looked down and smiled shyly. "Think of it as a goodnight kiss, then. We really need to get to bed."
"Yeah, yeah, I know," he chuckled. "See you in the morning?"
"Bright and early."
He turned to walk back to his room, pausing to smile warmly over his shoulder. He opened his mouth, but closed it right away, and for a moment, Misty thought he might kiss her back, or even better, say those three words she had been waiting so patiently to hear. "G'night Misty," he said sweetly instead, his eyes holding a certain warmth and affection she hadn't seen before.
Misty blushed, her heart skipping a beat in her chest. Okay, he wasn't quite ready for that yet, no biggie, they had plenty of time after all.
"Good night Ash," she replied, for the first time letting her eyes reflect how she honestly felt about him. "Sweet dreams."
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