"Packed for sun and kinky fun!" Brock cheered, inadvertently jostling his girlfriend. "A week with no one to disturb us! This'll be great!"

PRICKLY HEAT

(2)

()()()()()()()()()()

Ash moved his shoulders in violent circles – the cold line of sweat down his spine was uncomfortable. He shot an irritable glance at Misty, peach coloured sundress whipping against her legs in the warm breeze. Ash blew up his fringe and chided himself for becoming so accustomed to the milder climate of Kanto – even if he was tied down near Viridian now, he was a traveller at heart!

"We're here," Misty murmured, her voice low and suggestive. Ash blinked against the harsh sunlight as he looked up at the nondescript building.

"We are?" he asked, looking disdainfully at the grey building.

"Mmmhmm. Isn't it discreet?"

Ash wrinkled his nose in reply; Misty pretended not to notice and skipped towards the tinted glass doors. Ash loitered a second, dubiously looking up again at the dreary edifice, grey and looming against the cornflower tropical sky.

"Ash!" Misty hissed, one hand poised to push open the door. "Incognito doesn't involve standing on the street staring gormlessly. Move it."

Ash threw her a pained look and lugged both suitcases slowly in her general direction, while she shot coveted glances suspiciously up and down the back street as if expectant of a veritable hoard of paparazzi to stampede towards her.

"Come on, come on!" she ushered him inside, the heavy glass doors catching him in the heel as they swung together again. Ash knew the drill when it came to hotels – he stayed back, with his gaze focused on the luggage – no eye contact with anybody. Misty approached the grey-suited man behind the grey desk, the only warm thing Ash could see in the room.

He rolled his eyes as Misty approached him, swinging a key on a grey keychain.

"We're in the Master Suite," she purred, "kinda fitting, huh?" Ash shot her a smirk, before catching her around the back of the knees and fluidly gathering her up in his arms.

"I'm not the Master this week, remember? For seven days, I'm all yours."

Misty blinked and smiled, touched, warmth in her chest and behind her eyes. She pushed herself up for a kiss, more tender than one would normally go in a public situation.

"Tstch," sounded an unimpressed maid as she skirted around them carrying a hamper of damp towels. "Gedda room…" she murmured, almost under her breath.

"Heh!" Misty laughed, "don't mind if we do!" Stretching her feet down to the floor, she wriggled out of the embrace and frolicked towards the lifts, leaving her beau to manoeuvre the luggage. Apparently Hotel Peek-A-Boo thought bellboys too indiscreet.

()()()()()()()()()()

Ash had almost been expecting a room as drab, dreary and discreet as the façade of the building itself. 'Room Decadence' the looping gilt words on the door had introduced, before swinging back to reveal exactly that – a sprawling sea of purples, crimsons and gold, a carpet of plush cushions, velour and velvet as far as the eye could see.

Misty squealed and reached out to pat a fat velvet cushion. "Oooh it's a real 'pad'!" she proclaimed in delight, swinging her handbag off her shoulder and depositing it on a strange half-hammock, half-restraining contraption that hung from the ceiling. "It feels so luxurious!" she cooed as she turned to face Ash. "It's like some sort of… sexy dollhouse! Just imagine! We can pretend it's some sort of palace. We can be Paris and Helen! Orsino and Viola! –"

"Drug dealer and hooker?" Ash frowned around him, trying to set the smaller shoulder bag down and flinching as it bounced back upwards due to the padded flooring.

"Aaaaash," Misty turned her pout on him as she backed seductively onto a golden chaise-longue. "Don't be such a spoilsport. How can this room not make you feel…" She chewed on her lip lightly, casting around for the right phrasing.

"Decadent?" Ash offered with a smirk, scraping a gap in the desert of plush to deposit the bags. "Awwww Misty, can't we just go home? People like us don't belong here! It's just not normal!" Misty fingered the peach strap of her dress as if deeply contemplating her response. Ash crossed himself for the onslaught.

"Nice weather here," she remarked, rising lazily from the chaise-longue. Ash balked. "Shame to waste it. I haven't felt tropical sun on my skin for a while. While we're here, I may as well… strip down and have a little… swim?"

Ash narrowed his eyes at her. "You're using that 'S' word thing you read in your girly magazine. It's stupid. Why is a specific letter supposed to turn me on?" Misty gave him a wide-eyed, innocent look before drifting behind a caramel-coloured screen. Ash rolled his eyes as she moved to remove her sundress; facing the windows gave the screen a sheer effect. "What's next? Are you going to tell me to sssssslather you with sssssssuncream?" Ash hissed before plonking himself down on the golden chaise-longue, amused at his wit.

"You can if you want," the caramel-coloured shadow replied mildly. Ash cast a disapproving look around the room again.

"Really love, this place is vile. It's worse than vile. It's where porno-movie props come to die. Let's just go home, home to our bed! I'll even… even… I mean, you can go on top, if you want to," Ash added with the air of someone granting an immense honour. "But you'd have to keep your top on! What if---"

Now Misty was the only woman Ash had ever known, in the Biblical sense, and so he had nobody to compare her with. Even a normal teenaged preoccupation with porn hadn't really happened with Ash so scarred had he been from a preadolescence spent with Brock. But despite his inexperience and shyness, he truly thought his lover the most beautiful woman to ever exist; an over-idealised Classical statute come to life; perfection sans penis.

But he didn't know quite what to think right now.

"Don't you like it?" came Misty's voice from behind the tiny scrap of scary black leather shiny buckles squeaking tight thingy argh.

Ash exhaled. What had she done? Waltzed into a sex shop and bought the sleaziest thing on offer? The image burned itself onto his retinas, the quote, outfit, unquote, bold against Misty's naturally pale skintone. It was wrong, it was unclean – he'd have to wash his eyes out.

On the other hand, he couldn't quite bring himself to avert his gaze…

Misty shuffled from one foot to the other, uncomfortable in the prolonged silence and scrutiny. She also felt uncomfortable in the basque. She would have much preferred a pair of matching pastel undies. Besides, it's far easier to walk into Anne Summers or La Senza than a shop proclaiming itself 'SexToys R Us'. But Cosmopolitan sets the rules, and the rules must be obeyed – if anything was going to get through to Ash, it would be shock tactics.

"What do you think?" she prompted him again. Ash finally tore his gaze back to her face, his own slightly flushed and dewy. Misty tried to straighten her expression back from discomfort into Confident Vamp. Ash frowned at her.

"I think you should take that thing off!" he huffed; Misty's shoulders slumped slightly, dejectedly. Ash couldn't really help a sudden grin, pressing his lips together as she arched a questioning eyebrow at him. "…for more ways than one…" he finished his earlier sentence, the grin breaking out of his control.

In the blink of an eye, Misty found herself lying on a pillow-laden bed, Ash smirking as he stood over her. She smiled. When he wanted to be, the boy was good! When Ash leant over to kiss her, Misty held him there until they were forced to break apart for the necessity of oxygen. She couldn't stop smiling – it had worked! Her old Ash was reawakening, and he seemed to be better than ever!

"Wait a minute," Ash crawled back off the bed and stood up straight again. "I've gotta make sure the room is secure."

"Oh," was all Misty could manage, panting slightly. "Oh. Well. Yeah, I guess that's… sensible. Yeah."

Wading through the cushions, Ash firmly drew the thick curtains shut. Misty rearranged herself on the bed and held her arms out to him, invitingly. He shot her a distracted smile.

"Not secure yet. Just hold that thought, love, okay?"

Misty sighed as Ash busied himself thoroughly checking under every bit of furniture, muttering to himself, turning picture frames over and tracing all the electrical wires.

Feeling decidedly less amorous, Misty threw on one of the complimentary kimonos and reached for her magazine, only pausing in her devout reading to throw scowls over the top of it.

()()()()()()()()()()

Meanwhile, next door…

"Ohohoh! Look darling! A SWING! WHEEEEEEE!"

A thoroughly excited Duplica launched herself at the restraining apparatus.

"Now baby," Brock chided mildly. "Don't wear yourself out! Come and help me unpack."

Pouting, Duplica hopped down from the device. "Don't bother pretending," she giggled. "I know all you packed is stuff to go straight in the bedside cupboard!"

"Ah, but thus is the beauty of this hotel, my flower!" Brock grinned as he tugged the zip on his suitcase. "We can leave stuff lying around without fear that one of my brothers or sisters will pick it up! No matter how filthy!" Brock's grin widened; Duplica grinned impishly at him.

"Anything to drink?" she purred.

()()()()()()()()()()

"I'm telling you, it was ridiculous," Misty couldn't help sniffing as she relayed her day down the phone. There was a muffled sort of silence on the other end of the line – she could only assume Violet was attempting to conceal her amusement.

"And he was at this how long?"

"Oh, I'd say at least an hour and a half. He even dismantled the bedside clock at one point. And even then he was all jumpy, suspicious."

Violet sighed. "God, that boy needs like, therapy! And then what?"

Misty hesitated. "Then we… he… well…"

"Well?" Violet prompted.

"He couldn't… get the… basque thing… off…"

There was a confused silence.

"The… basque? Was there no… like, zip…?"

"Apparently not one suitably obvious for Ash. I think it's offended his masculinity. He went into a huge strop, stormed into the bathroom and he's been in the shower since." Misty sighed deeply. "It's pretty clear that the closest I'm gonna get to sex is peeling the complimentary mint off Ash's cheek when he falls asleep on it."

Violet's sigh matched that of her sister. "Well, you can't choose who you fall in love with. I think you should just leave him to his like, hour-long shower and head down to the bar. There's gotta be one, a hotel is like, a hotel. Booze is never hard to find."

"Yeah," Misty said, decidedly as she glanced at the en suite door. "I'd feel better with a little alcohol in me."

"You need like, something in you!" Violet giggled. Misty rolled her eyes.

"Okay, heading down now. Thanks."

"Okay baby sis, like, have a drink on me! Ciao!"

Violet's voice was gone – back was the all-encompassing drone of the showerhead. Misty frowned as she surveyed the room. Whereas before it had been exotic and promising, it just looked crumpled and tacky. Her gaze lingered on the closed bathroom door.

"A woman has needs," she murmured, forcing her expression into a scowl. Scooping up the room key from the bedside table, she headed out of the door, slamming it behind her for good measure. She didn't even pause when the gilt D came loose at the top and swung from its one remaining screw, rasping against the wood.