6

She knew she was going to regret this.

She had cringed at the thought as soon as it entered her mind. If not for their situation, she would have never even considered such a thing. Not only would it be incredibly embarrassing, but just thinking about what could happen made her face flush and her hands wring nervously inside the pack. It was the absolute last resort – something of which she was convinced she would never have to do.

Biting her lip, Misty turned her head back in the sound's direction and squinted into the darkness. After the light had vanished, the cave had become deathly silent; only the wisps of her own breath had reached her ears. That feeling of solitude hadn't lasted very long, though.

It couldn't have been more than half an hour before she had noticed it in the background. Even though she was wide awake, it had been so faint that, at first, she was sure that her mind was playing tricks on her; but, as the minutes ticked by, it had become louder and more apparent, and now, the once ambiguous noise was as clear as day. Even though he seemed to be trying to muffle the noise, Ash was shivering so violently that she herself felt chills.

She knew she was going to regret this… but there wasn't any other choice.

Taking in a breath to calm her rattling nerves, she steadied her hands and moved them to the sleeping bag's zipper, pulling it open just enough to slide her way out. With an injured ankle, getting to her feet alone was enough of a challenge, but reaching him without being able to see was like navigating a minefield. Using only her ears to guide her, she hobbled along the icy floor, closing in on the noise – and then suddenly, her foot hit a soft object, and she nearly tripped over it as a yell rang out through the cave.

"VAMPIRE!" Ash cried, flailing at the unknown assailant with one arm as his other reached up to protect the side of his neck.

"Calm down, idiot! It's me!"

"M-Misty?" he replied, ceasing his attack upon the darkness. "What's wrong? Why are y-you awake?"

Good. This was her chance. Maybe she wouldn't have to struggle with him after all.

"… I need to show you something," she answered, making her voice as grave and mysterious as she could muster.

"C-can't it wait until morning?"

"No. Right now."

"… W-what is it?" Ash inquired, peering up at where he assumed her head to be. The sense of urgency in her voice had sent even more chills throughout his body. "And h-how are you gonna s-show it to me? I can't s-see anythin'…"

"Just come on," she demanded, reaching out to him through the shadows. Her hand brushed across some soft, unidentifiable fabric, grabbing onto the form beneath as she nudged him. Suddenly, a cold grip latched itself onto her arm, and she nearly screamed out in fright – that is, if another terrifying revelation hadn't hit her first.

That was Ash's hand. This was worse than she thought; hypothermia was starting to set in. If she didn't do this now, he might not make it through the night. There was no time for her fears.

Wrapping her arm around his own, she pulled him up from the bed of clothing hastily, scattering the items across the floor. Their feet trampled over them as the two stumbled through the dark – Misty dragging the protesting boy over to her sleeping bag.

"Hey, s-slow down!" Ash yelped, tripping over his own feet as she yanked him along. He got a bit more than his wish; she stopped instantly, causing him to crash into her and nearly sending both of them to the floor.

"Ow! Would you watch where…" she began, turning back to him. Even though he was no more than two feet away from her, she could barely make out the outline of his face in the darkness. "Nevermind. Um… F-first, take off your shoes."

"Uh… why?"

"Just do it, okay?!"

"Geez," Ash muttered, hopping from one foot to the other as he reluctantly complied with her orders. "I dunno w-what you wanna show me, but h-hurry up already. It's f-freezing out here."

"… Ash, we're at my sleeping bag. I want you to get in."

"W-what?" he stuttered in surprise, breaking away from her hold. "No way, Mist!"

"Yes way. If you stay out here, you're going to freeze to death, and I'm not waking up to an Ashcicle in the morning."

"Gimme a b-break," he shot back. "L-look, I was just kidding. It's not that c-cold out here. I-I'll be fine."

"No, y-you won't," she retorted, half mocking and half feeling the chill herself. "Look, this isn't the time to argue! Just get in!"

"Then where are y-you gonna sleep?"

It hadn't hit him yet. He hadn't realized just what was running through her mind. But, as he waited for her reply, the long silence that echoed throughout the cave said more than she ever could. Ash's eyes slowly widened as the details of her request came to light.

"… Get in, Ash."

He tried to take a step backwards, but her hand was back upon his forearm before he could move. Her legs were already inside the cloth cove, and she was tugging him downward to join her. Unsure of what to do, Ash simply froze, refusing to budge an inch.

"Uh, Misty…"

"Ash, it's just to keep warm. You can relax. I don't bite," she said with a laugh, trying to reassure herself as well as the petrified boy. "Come on. You're shaking."

"So are you."

Misty gulped at those words. Despite her best efforts, she hadn't been able to stop her hands from trembling. She didn't think it was noticeable, but he had felt the quivering upon his skin in an instant. Fear gripped her heart, and she loosened her grasp upon his arm – only to feel his body brush against her side as he sat beside her.

"S-sorry, I know you're cold," Ash said nervously, slipping an arm out of his jacket. "… Um… so s-should I…"

"Yeah, you go in first," she replied quickly, withdrawing her hand. "Just uh… stay on your side, okay?"

"Right." Sliding his feet under the covering, he wriggled down into the sack, making Misty squirm as he brushed against her bare thighs. Upon making it halfway inside, he halted suddenly, leaning back up as he peered at the girl's shadow. "Wait… you s-sure you don't bite? You said you w-were a cannibal…"

Strangely, that comment eased some of the tension that had built up inside her. She laughed softly – scaring Ash for a moment – before sliding further down.

"I thought… that I was a vampire?"

"Dunno. You c-could be both. Maybe y-you eat other vampires, or somethin'," Ash said with a shrug, lying back down and sliding all the way inside. As his head searched for the pillow, Misty shuffled her way inside as well, accidentally kneeing him in the side as she went. "Hey! I w-was kidding!"

"S-sorry!" she blurted out, turning to him. "I didn't mean to…"

A warm wisp of breath tickled her cheek as she faced him. She blushed wildly – her nerves returning in a rush. He was close. She had tried to prepare herself for this, but it was no use; that feeling had completely overwhelmed her. She couldn't bring herself to move.

"… Mist?"

"A-Ash?"

"Zipper."

Her entire face turned beet-red in an instant. Horribly misconstruing his words, she acted purely on a panicked impulse – her hand flew down to the front of her jean shorts, searching over the denim in a frenzied attempt to fasten an opening that didn't exist. This wouldn't have been too much of a problem, however…

That is, if she didn't bump into the same area on Ash in the process.

"W-what the hell are you d-doing?!" he shrieked, fruitlessly trying to scramble away against the covering. In a flash, her hand was behind her back. "A-are you crazy?!"

"N-no! That's not… I didn't—"

"YES YOU DID!"

"Wait! J-just listen! It was an accident!" she cried out, mortified at the situation. She knew it was in vain, though; now Ash was convinced that she was a succubus.

"No WAY was THAT an accident!" he shouted back, his face on fire as well. "L-look, I don't know what you thought was gonna h-happen, but forget it! I'm outta here!"

"Wait! You can't!" she clamored, grabbing him around the waist as he clawed his way out of the sleeping bag in hysteria. Struggling against her hold, he flailed at her arms as she pulled him back. "Damn it! Stop!"

"Leggo! No means no Mist!"

"Would you just—Aaaahh!"

"Aaahh!"

The cause of said 'aaaahhs' was simple, really. In her efforts to keep Ash from escaping, Misty had inadvertently pulled down his pants. The horrified girl now found herself staring up at the plaid print of a pair of well-worn boxers.

"Misty!" cried Ash, diving back into the bag and scrambling to pull up his jeans. "What are you—?!"

She was kicking him, now. "Go! Get out! Leave!"

"Wha? But you just—"

"Forget it!" wailed Misty, grabbing the boy by the earlobe and yanking him toward the cold. "Call out Charmander, light some matches, I don't care! You can't stay here! Just g—aaahh!"

"Waaahh!"

Suddenly, the entire sleeping bag turned over. Ash had quit resisting, but unfortunately, she hadn't – pulling as hard as she could muster, she had lost her center of gravity and rolled over, taking him –and everything else – with her. Disoriented and dazed, she found herself lying flat on her back atop the internal cushioning, and blinked hazily into the darkness.

Then she felt the pressure.

A gasp broke through the momentary silence. Ash was on top of her – but that wasn't the worst of it. He had tried to keep his balance, and he had managed. His face hovered above hers, and his hand had extended down to the ground. But, it hadn't met ground.

No, instead, it had met her chest, and cupped itself around the form.

"… M-Misty, wait… I-I…"

And worst of all, he knew.

"Get off!" she screamed, batting away his support with her own arm – and, a moment later, her heart jumped to her throat as she realized her mistake. Instantly, the rest of Ash was upon her – his lips against her cheek.

Misty opened her mouth to protest, but no words came. She couldn't speak. She couldn't move. She couldn't push him off. She didn't want to push him off. It had only been instinct.

That realization scared her even more. With her eyes shut, she lied motionless, unable to persuade herself to take any other course of action. Her heart beat faster than it ever had, pounding even harder as she noticed the rapid cadence of his own against her chest. As his lips drew themselves from her cheek, the throbbing turned so violent that – for the second time today – she became convinced that she was going to die.

"… I… Sorry… I didn't mean to…"

Her eyes fluttered open. She could barely see it, but his face was still right there. As she stared up at him, a second realization hit her. The anxiety; the confusion; the fear – all of it vanished from her mind. She smiled.

They were the same. He had no idea what to do, either. Ash was just as scared as she was.

"… It's okay. I know."

Ash blinked at her in amazement. He had expected a fist to the face, but her voice was soft and sweet. If anyone tried to take advantage of her, he was certain that Misty would turn them into a bleeding pulp – and yet, she had forgiven him without a single thought to the contrary.

"U-um… so, uh…" he stammered, still wondering whether she was going to kill him or kiss him. The feeling of her hands against his chest quickly broke that trance, though. "W-wait, what…"

"Can you… um. We're upside down, so…" she said meekly, giving him a slight nudge in the direction they had come from. "… To go back."

"Oh! Y-yeah," he replied, following her lead. As he tilted his body to the side, she pushed him up and around, sending them rolling once again. In the midst of the half-tumble, his hands found the small of her back and grasped on to the exposed skin. This time, the bag landed upright – Misty bouncing upon Ash as their positions reversed.

And with that, Ash Ketchum found himself in the most compromising position of his life.

The sudden feeling of her hair against his neck gave him chills. It was much softer than he had imagined; it almost felt like silk. He didn't have much time to enjoy it though, as another feeling distracted him – a minor throbbing from his elbow, which had hit a hard object in the fall.

"Ow. Stupid rock," he muttered. Those locks skimmed across his skin in response, sweeping away his breath as Misty raised her head quickly.

"OH! Your shoulder! I-I'm sorry! I completely forgot!" she said in a rush. "Are you okay?"

"No, it's… I'm fine. It's not that, don't worry," he answered, letting his eyes float up to follow her voice. A gulp soon followed – the warmth of her body upon him swiftly returned to his senses, and the pressure of her chest against his own made it even harder to breathe. "… U-uh… now what?"

"… Well… you can let go…"

Ash's eyes widened. He hadn't been conscious of it, but his hands were still against her back, holding her tight against himself. They had slid upward, too, slipping under the cotton of her crop top and lifting the material up ever-so-slightly. A jolt shot through him, and he began to pull them back – just as her voice, shaking, reached his ears again.

"… I-if you want to…"

Ash hesitated. His mind had gone blank. But, then, he noticed that the tides of air against his chest had paused. She had missed a breath, locked in suspense. The flinch of his fingers against her back must have caused that, too. Huh. Really?

"… Ash?"

"… Misty… are you sure that was an accident?"

"Let go, moron," she muttered, trying to roll to the side. Much to her surprise, though, his arms didn't budge. Her mouth dropped open in disbelief, and she looked back down to him – and though she could barely see it, she was sure that it was there. Ash was grinning at her.

"I thought you didn't want me to let go." His voice was low and teasing. Instantly, Misty's cheeks were back ablaze.

"I-I never said that."

"Y-you didn't?" said Ash, his fingers tracing a little half-circle upon her back. Misty nearly squeaked. "Oh, that's right. It was up to me…"

"Fine! Do whatever you want then!" she shouted – and as soon as she had, her heart jumped inside her chest. In this situation, those words could mean a lot more than what she wanted to express. Her body went stiff with fear, petrified at what might happen next.

"Okay. I'm gonna stay like this, then," Ash replied casually, trying his hardest not to laugh as he felt her fidget nervously at his words. He was walking on thin ice, but seeing Misty like this was too good to pass up. As he leaned his head back in content, he found that only the bottom of the sleeping bag greeted him.

"Aaaash…" came a growl.

"Hey, where's the pill-Ow!" Now he knew its location – it had just struck him across the face. "Hey!"

"Stop screwing with me!" she yelled, raising up the fluffy weapon to wail upon him a second time. Just before she swung, though, her words ran back through her mind. "… Oh my GOD." Rather than landing on Ash's face, the pillow landed next to it – and soon, Misty followed, burying her face inside with embarrassment.

"Um, Misty?" Turning his head to peer at her, he saw a shady wall of orange-red. Seconds ticked by, but no response came. Realizing that he may have gone a bit too far, he loosened his grip upon her. "Come on, Mist. I'm just messing around."

A long, muffled groan came from inside the pillow. Ash sighed, a sympathetic look forming on his face.

"Okay. Sorry. I was being stupid," he admitted, removing a hand from her back and placing it upon her shoulder as he tried to comfort her. "Seriously, I mean it. I was just joking…"

"That's the point!" she cried, whipping her head around to face him.

"W… Huh?"

"Damn it, Ash! Do you think this is easy for me? It's bad enough that this happened, but you can't be serious about any of it! My feelings are just a joke to you!"

"… Your feelings?"

Misty bit her lip in response. He was staring at her in awe, and his words carried the same wonder. She moved her lips to answer, but he cut her off before she could.

"You have feelings for me?"

"Of course I do!" Ash's head shot back in surprise at the sudden shout – an astonished look upon his face. A blush covered Misty's cheeks as she sighed. "… Please tell me you figured that out by now…"

"Well, kinda…" Ash murmured, feeling his face warm a bit. "I mean… it's different hearing you actually say it."

The soft echo of water droplets punctuated the silence, resonating from deep within the chambers of the cave. Ash blinked as Misty stared at him expectantly; his eyes traveled down to her lips as she spoke.

"… Well?"

She knew she would regret this. Love wasn't his strong suit, after all. At best, he'd mumble out an awkward confession, but at least she would know he felt the same way. At worst, he'd try to let her down easy, but her heart would still be broken.

And yet, she was wrong. Neither of these happened. In fact, for several seconds, nothing did – because Ash stayed totally silent.

Misty quirked an eyebrow at him. His eyes were still on her lips.

"… What are y—Mm!"

And before she knew it, he was kissing her.

Her toes curled. She panicked, grabbing onto him frantically as her bare legs slid against the roughness of his jeans. He pressed on, chasing her as she rolled, shoulders against the covers, side by side within the warmth. A fierce wind howled outside the cavern's entrance; shivers ran through their bodies. They drew away from each other, breathless, panting in the dark.

"Your lips are cold," said Misty.

"… Um," said Ash.

She grabbed him by the collar, pulling him closer.

That wouldn't do.


A/N: I'm alive. Shocking, I know.

*surprised Pikachu face*

Updates might be a bit sporadic going forth, but I'm still working on this. Promise. Hope you enjoyed this one~