And They Lived Happily Ever – um…LINE?

Kay strained her eyes to sweep the deck of the incoming ship with her gaze, finally spotting three familiar faces. The tallest, a boy with longish green hair was blushing and waving frantically; the girl, slim with bright orange hair, grinned widely, waving with one arm, and holding a baby egg Pokémon with the other. Next to the girl was a boy; slightly shorter than her, with spiky black hair, mainly hidden by a battered Pokémon League cap, and with a Pikachu on his shoulder. Both the boy and the Pikachu were waving cheerfully.

Pulling down the legs of her cropped trousers slightly, Kay moved forwards towards the dock as the doors opened and passengers gushed out. She lost sight of her three friends for a brief instant, until she was startled by the Pikachu appearing from behind her, greeting her with a cheerful cry of its name. Following close behind the Electric rodent Pokémon was the black haired boy, pushing through the crowds.

"Hey Kay. What's up?"

"Oh Ash, I can't thank you enough for coming. You helped us so much the last time, and you have come to help us again! You are such a good friend…" the slightly self-conscious brunette babbled, blushing terribly as she stumbled over her words. She gave up and just smiled to emphasise her point.

The girl and the older boy appeared now; the Togepi now in the girl's red backpack to free her arms. "Misty!" Kay cried as the girl smiled at her. "I have a favour to ask of you – I'm so sorry-"

"It's okay! Honest! Whatever's needed!" Misty interrupted Kay, shooting a meaningful look at Ash, to say something along the lines of she hasn't changed a bit!

"So how have you been Kay?" the older boy asked in his soft voice as the group began their walk back up the pier.

"I've been great Tracey," Kay answered. "Raichu and I have been really bonding, and Roger bought me a Pichu egg for my last birthday. Raichu's been looking after it. It should hatch any day now!" Kay's face creased up into an excited smile. Ash looked across and as if on cue, Misty's eyes clouded over, and she mouthed "how cuh-uuuuuuuuuute!" Ash rolled his eyes and Misty stuck her tongue out at him.

This playful banter was not unnoticed by Kay, who smiled to herself again. It looked like she wasn't the only person here who hadn't changed.

~*~

Marilyn giggled to herself, and her Clefable copied the tittering sound. The looks on the young teen faces were priceless. Misty looked like she was experiencing total blissful happiness; Ash on the other hand looked like someone had just told him he had to take horrible medicine every hour for the rest of his life.

"Me? Staring in a pantomime! Me?? Cinderella! With my Charming Prince!" Misty spiralled away into daydreams. Ash looked desperately at Roger.

"Do you have to go?" Roger nodded. The next weekend, he had to take the showboat's Pokémon to be checked. They had to keep the shows going for at least the Friday and Saturday nights, so the group had resorted to real people acting. However, they hadn't had enough people for a decent cast, especially with Roger gone. That's where Ash and co came in.

"I AM NOT BEING PRINCE CHARMING TO MISTY'S ANYTHING!" Ash yelled blushing. Misty immediately stopped as that same thought occurred to her.

"Yuck! No way!" she spluttered, the same red hue appearing over her cheeks. Kay jumped forwards.

"Nononono you don't understand!" she rushed. "Greg is going to play Prince Charming. You're going to play the role of Buttons, Ash."

Greg entered the room. Misty's heart leapt up into her throat. Wavy blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, and pale smooth skin. All this complete with a smile that made her insides melt. He was, officially, the best looking guy she had ever, ever seen. The blush on her cheeks intensified. Kay watched approvingly out of the corner of her eye. Good chemistry was important between leading characters. From the look on young Gregory's face, he didn't think Misty was too bad either.

But she also noticed the confused, and slightly hurt look on Ash's face as he noticed and recognised the look in Misty's eyes, and Kay also noticed that it changed to a hostile, protective look as his glance swung to Greg. Kay sighed. This…was not good.

Greg whistled softly under his breath, and watched as the three Trainers were taken to their rooms. Kay turned at the door and gave him a reproachful look. Its message was loud and clear. Don't interfere! After all, one of the main rules of acting was never get involved with your leading lady. But Misty was cute. So cute. DAMN cute. He ran his finger through his wind blown hair as he returned to mopping the main deck. Rehearsals were about to get a LOT more interesting…

~*~

Ash turned again, unable to sleep. He had all this bubbling aggression inside him that just wouldn't subside and let him sleep. Angrily he punched his pillow.

I mean it's not like Misty's tied to me or anything, he thought carefully. It's just she's MY travelling companion, and it's like every time I turn around some guy is trying to steal her out from under my nose! The words flew out from a part of his mind he often tried to ignore. Danny, Rudy, Tad – even Lieutenant Surge flirted with her! It's not like she's even pretty! he huffed mentally, as his fatigued eyelids drooped lower and lower.

~*~

Now this was Misty's idea of romantic. Not like Ash's, whose idea of a romantic setting was probably something like a cheeseburger for two. Ash? What had brought Ash into her mind? Greg had gone to all the trouble to organise this lovely moonlight picnic on the dock so they could 'get to know each other', and she thought of Ash?

"There we are!" Greg said with a flourish as he unveiled a wicker basket full of junk food. Then he took out a carton of 'triple toffee-fudge' ice cream. Misty was ecstatic. Greg settled down next to her as she began stuffing her face. Greg picked up a packet of 65% fat free crisps, and nibbled at one. He watched and laughed affectionately as Misty shovelled scoop after scoop of ice cream into her mouth. Without hesitating, he placed his arm around Misty's shoulders. Wherever his skin touched hers, it felt cold. She ignored it, but looked at what he was eating in disbelief.

"Is that all you're eating?" she exclaimed, pointing with her spoon. "Eh, I'm not a big eater," Greg explained with a chuckle. Misty shrugged her shoulders and continued eating.

~*~

Misty yawned. Greg yawned. Misty turned down seconds at breakfast. Ash saw red. What were those two thinking staying up all night, when they had 6 days to perfect an entire pantomime? Ash glanced at Misty, who was slumped in her chair, with her azure eyes drooping so they were almost closed. He felt a wave of anger again, and as she looked up he glared at her. On the other side of the table, Kay was glaring at Greg. Misty yawned again, and kicked Ash's shin under the table, before excusing herself to get fitted for her costume.

~*~

Oh great. Great, great, great, great GREAT! This just got better and bloody better. Ash stared at his green-clad reflection and it scowled back at him. Tracey was standing a little way behind, his hand over his mouth to conceal his laughter.

"Wow Ash! You have great legs!" Roger cried. Ash looked up in horror and Tracey burst out laughing. "No, I mean it," Roger persisted, not quite grasping what Ash's look of horror and Tracey's giggles were about. "Not many boys can pull off tights, but they look great on you!" This information did not help Ash one little bit.

"Fanfare please!!" Misty's clear voice came from the doorway, now rid of fatigue. Ash looked up, and immediately had to look down again as his eyes had met hers. Misty was all decked out in her ball gown. Yards upon yards of white silk, with pearls and sequins sewn into various lace sections made up the flowing skirt, and a fully pearled bodice fit snugly around her figure. In short, the dress was none the worse for wear of being in a costume cupboard for years. "And look," Misty laughed, gently lifting the hem of the skirt and sticking a plastic clad foot out. From a distance it really did look like a convincing glass slipper instead of one of Marilyn's slightly altered plastic flip-flops.

"Your hair! We must figure out what your hair will be like!" cried Roger, before sprinting out of the room, leaving Ash, Misty and Tracey alone.

"You look great Misty," murmured Tracey. "The perfect panto princess." His face broke into a mischievous grin. "Totally over-the-top!" Misty shot a look at him, and he ducked in mock horror, before running out of the room. Misty smoothed down her dress and turned to Ash.

"Approve?" she asked quietly. Ash nodded, and gave Misty a grin, which she returned.

"You don't look hideously ugly for a change. They did a really good job!" he grinned. Misty threw a flip-flop at him good-naturedly. Ash bent down and picked it up, before lazily chucking it back. She bent down to replace it on her foot and stuck her tongue out at Ash, noticing his tights for the first time and collapsing to the floor in giggles amongst a huge fluffy cushion of her skirt. Ash blushed horribly, and tried to pull down the green top that made him feel like Peter Pan.

"Lookin' good Ash!" Misty managed to squeal between fits of mirth. Ash glared at her and stalked out of the room, leaving her sitting on the floor, shaking with laughter.

~*~

"Scripts! Get your scripts! Learn them, we open in four days!" Marilyn and Greg handed out the thin booklets of paper to each cast member. Ash leafed through the opening scene, which was him and only him onstage. His eyes widened in horror.

BUTTONS: [Centre stage / spotlight] "…treat poor Cinders like a servant. The Ugly Sisters also tell her that she's the one who's ugly…and that's just not true…Cinderella is very beautiful. I wish that she'd marry me, but I'm just a low class boy, and she deserves a prince…"

"NO WAY! I am NOT saying stuff like that about her!" Greg looked at him cynically.

"Ash, Buttons is saying that about Cinderella! You're not saying it about Misty…although I don't have a problem with my lines about how beautiful she is…" Greg flashed another bubbly grin at Misty, who was leaning over the counter mouthing her song words to herself. Misty almost fell over herself returning the grin. Ash scowled at Greg.

~*~

"Do I love you because you're wonderful, or are you wonderful, because I love you…"

"MISTY SHUT UP!"

"OH SHUT UP YOURSELF ASH KETCHUM!"

"IT'S TWO IN THE MORNING! I'D LIKE SOME SLEEP!"

"I NEED TO PRACTICE!"

"…IT'S TWO IN THE MORNING!!!!!"

"YEAH BUT SINGING IS A GREAT ART THAT NEEDS CONSTANT PRACTICE!"

"LOOK, I KNOW YOU, MOST DEFINITELY NEED SINGING PRACTICE, BUT MYST, PLEASE!! IT'S TWO AM! GO TO BED ALREADY!"

There was silence from the other side of the wall. Ash sighed with relief and settled down again. Not that he could sleep anyway…He'd tried everything, from counting Snorlax to dreaming about being the world's most famous Master…his all time favourite dream.

There he was, up on a podium, with Brock, the world's most famous Breeder (with his wife Susie of course); Tracey, all kitted out like Professor Oak; Todd, a world famous Pokémon photographer; Ritchie, the person he'd beaten in the finals (bwahaha); and Misty…not quite the 'World's Greatest Everything' yet, but she was there, and that was important to him…

"…or are you really as wonderful, as you seem…" Giving up, Ash rolled over and found that actually, the sound of Misty' voice lulled him to sleep. She was no brilliant singer, but…

~*~

Tracey watched Ash scrunch up his nose and look away. The show opened that night, and the cast were in the last scene of their final rehearsal. Misty was a great Cinderella, with her petite figure and hopelessly romantic ways. Greg was every inch a Prince Charming…all blonde curls and valiant stance. Ash…well Tracey had never expected Ash to be such a good actor. He was playing the part of the young man pining away for Cinderella remarkably well. Kay was ecstatic at 'the brilliant chemistry' Ash and Misty had on stage together. Everyone commented on them, and they were by far everyone's favourite scenes in the whole production.

"Yes my Prince! I will marry you!" Ash gritted his teeth as Greg swept Misty into a stage embrace. Misty had been hesitant about a passionate kiss at this stage, so Marilyn ended up coordinating a routine where they put one arm around each other and suck their own thumb on the other hand. From the audience point of view, it really did look like the two were locked in a passionate clinch. But Ash didn't care if they weren't really kissing…cos it looked like they were…and it was just…weird. The curtain fell and everyone cheered.

"Next time that rises, we'll be on!" cried Greg. Everyone but Ash cheered again.

~*~

"Hey Misty." Misty looked up, and smiled at Ash, patting the seat next to her in invitation. He slid down easily next to her, and flashed his trademark grin. Misty loved Ash's grin – it was so friendly and always made her feel safe and wanted inside. Even Greg's brilliant smile made her feel uneasy, as well as bubbly inside.

"Nervous?" Ash asked her, as he self-consciously tugged at the tights.

"Nah not really. You?"

"I'm okay…my role isn't as important as yours anyway."

"Oh Ash, Buttons is VERY important!"

"How come?"

"Well, Cinderella just wouldn't be Cinderella without her Buttons..."

"Yeah, her dress would fall off and everyone would see she's a man!" Misty walloped Ash with her mallet.

"Not funny you little twerp!"

~*~

The atmosphere on the stage was literally buzzing with energy. They had reached the critical part of the play where Prince Charming slips the shoe on Cinderella's foot, and there had been no hitches, or prompts needed. Everything was going spectacularly and the packed audience was loving it.

"Yes my Prince, I will marry you!" Misty was swept up into the embrace, and the audience cooed and awwwwed. Misty fumbled, trying to manoeuvre her thumb into her mouth quickly, but before it got there, she suddenly felt Greg's mouth press roughly against hers and his grip tighten. She squealed in fright. The cast exchanged nervous looks…that was not supposed to happen!

Misty forgot about the fact that she was onstage, and her instincts told her to get out of the embrace; but Greg's grip was too tight. Frantically, she scratched down his arms with her nails, but he didn't relent. But then suddenly, he was off her, sprawled on the floor and the audience gasped in surprise. Misty looked around and saw a panting Ash frantically shaking his hand in ill-concealed pain.

"Christ, the guy's got cheekbones made of bloody steel!" he muttered to himself. Misty's eyes widened, and Ash looked up into them silently. Kay coughed meaningfully, breaking the silence both on and off the stage. Misty whirled around to where Greg was pulling himself up.

"What the hell was that for!?" Greg yelled, advancing towards Ash. Misty neatly stepped between them.

"You asked me if I wanted to marry you…and now I've had time to think about it!" Misty improvised, her face hard. "No. I will not. I've known you all of, what, 10 minutes? And in that time you have proved to be arrogant, thick-headed, vain and…basically not for me."

The audience applauded loudly, with some shouts of "back to yer castle pansy-boy!" and "you go girl!" Greg slumped off the stage after a very stern look from both Kay and Marilyn. There was silence again, and Misty stared pointedly at Ash, who stepped forwards uncertainly.

"Mi- um, Cinderella, I know I'm just a low-class boy, and the only thing I have to um, offer is um, well …but um, what I'm really saying is...um…" Misty smiled.

"Buttons, will you marry me?" Ash grinned at her and ran a hand through his messy hair.

"Heh, alright then!" The audience applauded again. "Now what!?" Ash whispered to Tracey and Kay.

"Kiss her!"

"NO!"

"Oh stop pretending. We know you want to." And with that, Tracey and Kay shoved Ash forwards, and the people on the other side of the stage shoved Misty forwards. The two met in the middle, and Ash clasped her small hand in his sweaty one.

"M-Cinderella, you know, you really do deserve a prince."

"And I've got one." Misty jerked upwards and kissed his lips softly. The kiss only lasted an instant before the two teens cracked up laughing and had to stop. Still laughing, Ash kissed her again. The cast rallied around to thunderous applause, and took their bows, leaving the couple in centre stage.

Both Ash and Misty's minds were blank; they could concentrate on nothing but their closeness to the other person and the warmth seeping and taking over their entire bodies from the point where their lips met. Finally they drew apart, gasping for breath, and finding that the curtain had fallen and the cast had disappeared.

"So I guess this means you um, like me…" mumbled Ash. Misty smiled.

"I guess it does…"

"Ha! I knew it wasn't about the bike!" Misty's face clouded over for a second.

"This does not mean you don't have to pay for it you know!" Ash stuck his tongue out at her, and she caught it between her fingers, making Ash yelp with surprise. Her face softening, Misty tugged at his tongue and drew his mouth to hers again. Ash mumbled something inaudible against her lips as his hands roamed down her hips.

"What did you say?" Misty asked. Ash mumbled again. Exasperated, Misty pulled away and stared at him. Ash smiled.

"You're never getting that bike."

"Why the hell not?"

"Cos that way you can never leave me." Misty rolled her eyes. That statement was so stupid it didn't need retaliating to. It just needed another kiss.

Sod Cinderella and her Prince living 'happily ever after'. This is real life, and finally, someone did the story the right way.