DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokémon.

This is technically my contribution to Pokéshipping Week 2018, although I'll likely continue to post oneshots here after if there's any want or need for them. Each of these stories is based around a word picked at random from the dictionary.


Star

"Misty, do you think the stars can see us?"

A warm July wind whistled and swirled in the cloudless Pallet Town sky, fanning the blades of grass around the two young adults lying side-by-side.

"Well, they haven't got eyes, so I don't see how that would work," the redheaded girl stated matter-of-factly, but, upon noticing her friend's slightly dejected expression, made sure to add, "but it's a nice thought, I suppose."

The tall, black-haired man turned his head to the side, smiling. "I was just wondering because…these are the same stars as when I started my journey, right? They've been with me everywhere I went, from Kanto all the way to Alola, so it's kinda like they've been keeping track of my progress, watching me get stronger and stronger. And now they're here at the end, too! Don't you think that's pretty cool?"

"Ash, you're drunk." Misty giggled, nudging his shoulder. "You'd think anything was cool right now."

"Well you're not cool!" he teased, sticking his tongue out at her. "And come on, I'm not drunk; I've only had, like, seven pints, and whatever that green stuff was that Brock and Gary forced down me. Haven't I been a good boy tonight, Mist?"

"Yes, Ash, you've been very good," she played along, giving the boy a quick pat on the head.

Misty sighed. The moments she got to spend alone with her best friend were few and far between, and a drunken, semi-conscious conversation at 1:30 in the morning with the music from the house still ringing in her ears was hardly her idea of an ideal scenario. The party was nearing the end, with only a few stragglers and close friends remaining, which prompted the Indigo League's newest pokémon master and the Cerulean City gym leader to relocate to the garden, staring blissfully up at the star-veiled sky like two innocent ten-year-olds.

"But if the stars did have eyes," Ash persisted, "do you think they could see us?"

Again, Misty couldn't help but let out a small giggle. Leave it to Ash Ketchum to only show his deep and poetic side after seven pints of beer.

"I honestly don't know, Ash," she admitted. "I've never really thought about it before."

The excited boy scooted closer to his best friend, grass and dandelions clinging to his creased, black tuxedo, and shifted onto his side to look her in the eye. "Wanna know a secret?"

Misty thanked the stars (ironically enough) that it was so dark outside, or else he would have seen the huge blush adorning her face. She nodded, shuffling into a similar position to face him.

"About a month or so into my journey through Hoenn, I…" He paused to clear his throat sheepishly. "I started looking up at the sky when everyone else had gone to bed and, er, talking to the people I rarely saw anymore."

She raised an eyebrow in confusion, gesturing for him to go on.

"I guess I must have been feeling homesick, if you can believe that, but even when I got used to my new friends and new surroundings, I still kept on doing it, and I have done ever since. Something about it always made me feel better, you know?"

Misty nodded again, smiling ever so slightly, but in reality, she was shocked. This was a side of Ash that she had seldom seen before, and she was anxious to get to know it better.

"I talked to all sorts of people – Mom, Professor Oak, Tracey, even Gary occasionally – but mostly, I talked to you. I didn't realise how much I missed hanging out with you, so I just spoke out loud like you were right there with me, and I always hoped that…erm…the stars would pass the words on to you…"

The inebriated pokémon master's words trailed off lifelessly, and, for a brief moment, Misty wondered whether or not he had dozed off mid-sentence. After a quick jab in the arm and a startled "ow!", however, the grinning water pokémon trainer released a soft exhale.

"That was unbelievably corny, Ash," she remarked flatly. "I didn't think you had it in you. But…" she moved her face to just inches away from his, giggling as his eyes widened in surprise, "it was also one of the sweetest things you've ever said to me, so thank you, Mr. Pokémon Master."

At the mention of these words, Ash leapt up from the ground, stumbling slightly before proceeding to clumsily run laps around the garden, arms flailing manically in the air.

"YES! That's the first time you've called me that since you got here, and now it's true! TRUUUUUE! How d'you like them apricorns, huh, Mist?!"

Shaking her head, Misty rose to her feet, dusting off her sky blue sundress and moving to chase her best friend around the grass.

"Ash, you idiot, stop running around, you're going to break your neck!"

"Aww, what's the matter, Misty, you getting tired?"

Not that she would admit it, but the 20-year-old gym leader was actually having more fun at this very moment than she had had all night. Naturally, as soon as the party started, Ash was swamped with waves of people looking to congratulate him, to present him with gifts, to discuss every nanosecond of his final battle, and, once he had made the rounds, the night was already half-over. She was far from alone, of course, as Brock and Tracey staggered over to her every so often, and Delia chatted with her for hours about how proud she was of her "baby Ashy", but it was the baby in question whose attention she really yearned for. After ten years, he had finally achieved his dream, and, besides maybe his mother, no-one could be more proud of him than his best friend, Misty Waterflower. She just had to let him know.

"I mean it, Ash, get back here or I'll-"

But whatever reckoning the redhead was planning would have to wait, as Ash had somehow managed to trip over his own feet, landing face-first in Delia's wheelbarrow.

"Are you alright?" Misty called down to the crumpled pile below her. Once she managed to writhe the surprisingly heavy pokémon master out of the wheelbarrow, the two friends exchanged a brief look of surprise before simultaneously bursting into fits of uncontrollable laughter.

"W-Well, A-Ash," Misty howled, holding her aching sides, "for all this talk of stars, you've still got a loooooong way to go before you become one yourself!"

"What are you talking ab- oh, right, that," he replied, still chuckling while scratching the back of his head. "Yeah, I'm still getting the hang of that part of the job."

"Tell me about it," she groaned. "My sisters want me to go to all their photoshoots and galas now, as the 'fourth Sensational Sister'. Why won't they get it through their heads that I'm just not interested?"

"Well, at least you've got a choice. These last few weeks have been nothing but interviews, press conferences, talk shows…and, oh my god, those damn paparazzi! Do you know they're the reason we had to wait until now to have this party?"

Misty reached over and placed a reassuring hand on the young man's shoulder, squeezing it gently.

"Ash…"

"I don't know about this, Misty." Ash sighed, his speech suddenly becoming less slurred. "I mean, I've wanted to become a pokémon master my whole life, and I really am looking forward to working and training at the Indigo Plateau. But this other side of it – the fame, the fan mail, the celebrity lifestyle – I just don't know if I'm ready to be, you know…a 'star'."

"Ash Ketchum, stop feeling sorry for yourself right now!" Misty barked, her finger pointing threateningly between the startled boy's eyes. "You are one of the strongest, bravest people I've ever met, and if anyone can get through this, it's you! I know it won't be easy, but, well, er, at least you're going to be working close to home now, right? You've got your mom and the professor close by, and Brock, and, well, also, there's always m-"

The gym leader's words of comfort were abruptly halted by a loud banging noise, followed by a series of cheers and yells. Turning around to face the house, the two friends noticed the kitchen door wide open, light spilling out around the doorframe, and a literal conga line of some of their closest friends – Brock, Tracey and Gary – wobbling merrily towards them.

"WOOOOOOOHOOO!" cried an extremely drunk Brock, a few streamers dangling from his spiky brown hair. "Well, if it ishn't the happy couple! Howzhe you doingggg?"

"Congrashlajunssss, Azzsshhhh…" Tracey beamed, attempting to curl his unresponsive hand into a thumbs-up.

"Heyyyy, did we indrupt summing, Ashy-boyyy?" smirked Gary. "Ooooh, I tshink they was gunna kish!"

The trio of drunkards squealed exaggeratedly, causing Ash and Misty to redden like a pair of tomatoes.

"Looksh zlike they need a bsit of helfp, boysssss! Readyyy? One, twoo, hic, thzeee!"

All the unfortunate pair could do was watch as Brock, Gary and Tracey lined up beside each other, draping their arms lethargically over each other's shoulders and performing a dance that vaguely resembled the can-can.

"SSSING WITH MEEE! TOGEDDER FORESSHER, NO MAZZER HOW LONGGG! FROMMOW UNSHTIL THE ENG OF T-"

"Oh my god, what the hell are you guys doing?!" a gentle but agitated voice resonated from the kitchen doorway. Seconds later, an incredulous May appeared alongside the three stooges.

"Like, hheeyyy zhere, Mvvayy!" Brock gurgled, a sloppy grin plastered on his face. "Fancy ssheeing you hrere!"

May huffed at the intoxicated pokémon breeder, turning her head slightly to the side to shoot an apologetic look at the speechless Misty.

"What's wrong with you all?! Can't you see they're having a moment here? Get back in the house, you bunch of bullies!"

Without another word, the pokémon coordinator shooed the hollering trio back towards the house, gently closing the door behind her.

For a while, Misty just stood there, both perplexed and infuriated at the scene that just transpired. Those three had always been the worst offenders for poking fun at her and Ash's alleged feelings for each other, drunk or otherwise, and, while she was always able to deal with their petty remarks, she couldn't deny that they hurt a little bit more each time – mostly because, from her side, at least, the things they said could not be more true.

Rather than risk broaching the subject with the world's densest pokémon master, however, the lovesick gym leader instead decided to pretend that the events of less than five minutes ago had never even happened.

"Anyway, as I was saying, Ash…Ash?"

On eye-level, the raven-haired trainer had seemingly vanished into thin air. It was only when she looked down at her feet that Misty noticed her best friend curled up on the grass, snoring lightly with his hat pulled over his eyes.

She shook her head in a jokingly exasperated fashion, tiptoeing away from him to make her way back to the house. Minutes later, after fighting her way back through the smattering of zealous hangers-on, she returned to Ash's side in the garden, carefully placing a pillow under his head and a blanket over his shoulders.

"Goodnight, Ash." She smiled, setting her red sleeping bag down next to him. Crawling inside, the young woman alternated between staring up at the sky and at Ash's peacefully sleeping form. Were it not for the faint remnants of music pulsing from the Ketchum residence, the whole of Pallet Town would be enveloped in a profound, beautiful silence, the kind that a sprawling metropolis such as Cerulean City could never hope to achieve. It was one of the reasons that Misty loved coming back to her best friend's hometown.

The other reason – aside from the obvious one, of course – was directly above her. Drunk Ash was right about one thing; Pallet Town always had the most perfect view of the stars. The whole sky was illuminated by millions of tiny white spheres, each blinking their own unique light in a grand network of natural beauty. Instinctively, Misty lay on her back, her eyes transfixed on the countless celestial bodies, and began to talk softly up to the cloudless sky. The 'conversation' only lasted a few minutes, but the young girl poured her heart out, unleashing her deepest, truest feelings to the ever-present air. She held nothing back, only stopping when tiredness began to weigh on her eyelids, and, before drifting off into a deep slumber, she turned onto her side to steal one last blissful glance at the object of her monologue.

If Ash's theory was correct, her message should be waiting right there on the stars for him when he woke up.