A little bit of fluff, that began my whole "Tracey Likes to Draw Pretty Pictures" series of Pokemon comedy-romance fics. Nothing explicit, but bitchshipping innuendo, and kinda anti-pokeshipping. :)
"Ash!" she shrieked, making the transition, from compact backpack-sized rubber sports towel to spunky shorts and tank top, in five record-breaking seconds. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Ash descended into blushing confusion. "S-sorry, Misty, I didn't know you were there." He apparently lost all ability to speak at that point, and just stood there, idiotically twisting his cap from forwards to backwards. He was also, much too pointedly, not looking at his friend.
Toge-prriiii! Togepi's trilling sounded suspiciously like laughter.
Misty sighed and, slipping her shoes on, retreated back towards the campsite, allowing Ash to bathe or - whatever. The issue wasn't really whether Ash had looked on purpose. What bothered Misty was that a few weeks ago, Ash would have made some stupid comment and sniggered, not turned deep red and apologised. She wasn't entirely sure she liked the change.
She was even less sure when, later, Ash brought her a bunch of flowers. Gorgeous flowers, nicely tied up with an old shoelace. He'd even, with unusual sensitivity, chosen water lilies.
"These are because - I'm sorry about this morning, Misty, when I -" Ash's stuttering deteriorated into confused, rosy-cheeked silence.
"Um, thank you, Ash. These are very pretty," Misty said, carefully.
"You're not mad at me?"
Misty reflected that a short month ago, she would be bawling him out, and optionally applying violence, before this point. Now, she was far too ill at ease to do anything of the sort.
"Of course not," she said. "It was an accident, right?"
Ash beamed at her. "Right. I'd never do anything to upset you, Misty, not on purpose. I really -"
But the whole conversation had become far too weird for Misty's liking, and she fled.
That night, Misty managed to corner Tracey alone. Ash was fully occupied risking life and limb trying to train Charizard. Misty was sorry to miss one of her favourite entertainments, but this matter was more pressing.
"Tracey, have you noticed Ash acting - strange, lately?" she asked.
"In more ways than usual?"
"I mean, he's being -" Misty sought for the right words. "Nice to me."
Tracey grinned happily. "I've noticed he's got a little crush on you. That's so sweet."
"No, it's not! It's - well, it's embarrassing."
"But I thought you liked him?"
"I do! He's my best friend. It's just that, now I'm not fighting with him all the time, I've begun to realise he really is an obnoxious, immature little moron." Togi! agreed Misty's pet pokémon, which she was clutching to her chest as an inadequate defense against mortification.
From a short distance away, Ash's yell of terror added inadvertent collaboration. Misty absently wondered what Charizard was up to now.
Tracey patted her red hair. "Young love. It's so cute."
He sighed. "Look, I'm not too good at this. I haven't had all that much success with girls myself. Don't you know an older woman you could ask? What about your sisters?"
Misty shuddered at the thought of the humiliation. And the giggles…
"Well, don't you have anyone else?"
Misty suddenly had a bright idea. "Maybe…"
It wasn't until Ash's mother's charming face was smiling sympathetically at her, that Misty began to realise a vital truth. The best person to ask advice on getting a boy to back off is perhaps not the mother of the boy involved. She smiled uncomfortably at the video phone screen.
"What's wrong, dear? Is there anything I can do to help?"
Misty searched for a tactful way to frame her query. "It's about boys, I guess."
"Oh! I see. Well, dear, the first thing to consider is changing your hairstyle," began Ms. Ketchum.
"Death first! I mean, my problem is kind of the opposite. How do you let a boy know you're just not interested?"
"Is that Tracey bothering you? I always knew he was a sleaze. Tell him he's much too old for you, dear. And too young for Officer Jenny, come to that. That boy really needs to meet someone his own age."
"It's not Tracey. And no one's bothering me, at least, not really. It's just that I want to sort things out without hurting anyone's feelings." Misty glanced fearfully over her shoulder, noting that Ash was on his way over. She really didn't want him asking what she was discussing with his mother. "Look, I'm sorry, Ms. Ketchum. I shouldn't have bothered you. Thanks for trying."
"I'm only sorry I wasn't more help, sweetheart. Listen, you really should try talking it over with your girlfriends. Maybe one is in the same situation, and she can tell you how she deals with it."
"Thanks, Ms. Ketchum. 'Bye." Misty hung up, just in time.
After she'd evaded Ash's newly cloying attentions once again, Misty sat down alone with Togepi to consider what Ms. Ketchum had said. She really didn't have any girl friends. Wandering around the wilderness with a couple of boys tended to foreclose your chances in that direction, even if it did earn her a little envy from her peers. And talking to her sisters was still out of the question. She'd suffered through enough years of merciless teasing not to deliberately invite more.
There was actually only one female she ever saw at all regularly. Misty shoved away the thought, and hugged Togepi tighter. It was ridiculous to think of going to Jesse for advice. Jesse was evil and, worse, she was incompetent. But she was older and definitely more sophisticated than Misty. And, in a perverse way, she was the closest thing to a girlfriend Misty had.
Misty finally reached a decision on a particularly irritating day, midway through the Team Rocket motto. Ash had been staring wide-eyed at her all morning, and she had to do something or kill someone. Preferably Ash, but with the way Tracey had been grinning paternally at them, and Pikachu had been adoringly cooing Chuuuu at her all day as if she was his future mother, they too were becoming serious options. Misty was feeling humiliated and helpless, and Jesse, posing stylishly beside James, simply looked so glamorous and together that Misty momentarily forgot how inept the older girl really was.
She shoved Togepi into Tracey's arms - No sense risking Togepi. It might be useless, but it's still rare - and strode straight into the middle of the performance. Before her courage could fail her, she grabbed Jesse's arm and, saying "Let the boys handle this. We need to talk," pulled her into the ever-present concealing shrubbery.
For a moment she was scared that one or both members of Team Rocket would object, but sheer effrontery and shock combined carried the day, and Misty found herself alone with Jesse.
"Well?" Jesse tried to reclaim some shreds of dignity by straightening her jacket and glaring at the younger girl. "You better have a good reason for this."
"Jesse I - I think I need your advice. I didn't know who else to ask."
Jesse's glower didn't lighten, but Misty could tell from her slightly arched eyebrows that Jesse was curious. "What about?" The Team Rocket girl folded her arms aggressively. Behind them, the sounds of a pokémon battle burst out.
This was harder than Misty had thought. She traced one sneaker toe in the dirt. "It's about boys. Well, a boy. He's in love with me, and I can't seem to get him to leave me alone."
Jesse collapsed to the ground in paroxysms of laughter. "You?" she gasped.
You need her help, Misty. Be polite. Misty choked down her initial response, and said meekly and ungrammatically, "Yeah, me. Ash has been following me around, and I need to get him to stop."
Jesse calmed down a little. "Tell him to bugger off or you'll set Psyduck on him," she suggested. Her huge blue eyes were still brimming with suppressed laughter.
"No! Jesse, he's my friend. What would you do if your best friend kept hitting on you?"
Jesse bitterly muttered something under her breath. It sounded suspiciously like "I should be so lucky." For some reason she didn't seem so wildly amused anymore.
"Please, Jesse. I don't know who else to ask."
Jesse obviously enjoyed being begged for favours. She folded her long legs under her, tilted her head to one side so that her strawberry hair fell in quite an interestingly pretty effect to her knee, and appeared to consider the question. Eventually she looked up at Misty again.
"Well… you could sort of… disqualify yourself…" she suggested.
Misty wasn't quite sure she liked the expression on Jesse's face. It was far too demonic for peace of mind. "What do you mean?" she asked, apprehensively.
"Well, if he thought you were gay -"
"Why would he think that?" Misty cried defensively.
Jesse rolled her eyes. "Where do you do your shopping, Baby Dyke Fashion Co.? Certainly not at Salon Roquet."
"You're the one in the boots!" Misty snapped, before she could stop herself.
Jesse, however, didn't lose her temper and hit Misty or stomp off. She still looked as if she was enjoying herself intensely. "I look gorgeous in them, too. As for you - well, eventually I'm going to have to finish that makeover, whether you want me to or not," she added meditatively. Misty was too surprised by Jesse actually saying something to justify her imposed role of Solicitous Older Girlfriend to be insulted.
"Anyway, trading lesbian stereotypes is beside the point," Jesse said, conveniently forgetting who had brought up the subject. "What is important is that if Ash thinks you're a dyke, he'll give up."
"Will he? It doesn't actually mean -"
Jesse snorted inelegantly. "Misty, Ash wears his hat backwards when he wants to look tough. Trust me, he's not all that sophisticated."
"Oh. Okay." Misty thought it over. The solution wasn't quite what she had expected, but it seemed workable. "How do I go about it?"
"Well, dragging me off into the bushes like that was an excellent start," Jesse tittered. "Which gives me an idea."
Misty definitely didn't like the way Jesse was looking at her.
The stage was set a few nights later. Jesse had said she'd told James and Meowth it was an elaborate plot to use female solidarity to trick Misty into handing Pikachu over. She'd arranged for both to be well out of the way. As a matter of fact, Misty was still not entirely sure it wasn't a plot on Jesse's part to steal pokémon. She was accordingly very careful to leave Togepi and all her pokéballs (except Psyduck's - well, a girl could hope) with Tracey. Not that she'd told him the plan. She still couldn't believe she'd consented. But - Ash had been especially annoying lately… Misty wanted their friendship back to normal.
She gazed apprehensively up at the older girl, a sick knot of tension in her stomach. She couldn't help noticing that Jesse was actually quite attractive, with that curvaceous figure and those magnificent eyes, sparkling wickedly now. Maybe it won't be so bad after all, Misty caught herself thinking, then blushed with horrified shame.
If Jesse noticed how flustered Misty was, she didn't show it. She was all clinical business, only those fiendish eyes showing anything but a professional attitude. "All right, we should get started. The twerp will be along soon. Remember, Misty, you owe me for this."
"Uh-huh." Misty was too scared to move. I wonder if it's too late to run away.
Jesse sighed in exasperation. With one swift, practiced motion, she pulled Misty into her embrace.
She's certainly putting on a good performance, Misty thought weakly, as she was simultaneously pushed back onto the grass and had her mouth devoured. Jesse's shirt and gloves were long casualties, and it was a bare thumb that stroked Misty's temple as Jesse's fingers locked on her loosened hair. Still, she did promise to help me, and I suppose we have to make it convincing. A peck on the cheek would hardly be enough.
She heard Ash's horrified intake of breath just as Jesse methodically rolled up Misty's sports top and moved her head downwards. Well, that should convince him. It's practically convincing me. Oh dear. Remember, this is just a performance, neither you or Jesse are in the least bit attracted to each other. This isn't real, this isn't real, this isn't real…
Misty heard Ash rushing back into the forest, and relaxed, half in relief, half in regret. "It's okay, Jesse," she said, discomfited that her voice sounded so breathless. "I think we did it."
Jesse ignored her, except to mutter something that could have been, "Not yet."
"Jess? I think Ash saw us. We can stop now."
Misty felt hands fumbling at her shorts' fastenings. "Jesse? What are you doing? I said we can stop - Jesse, what - Jesse - oooooh - oh, Jesse…"
Tracey scooped up Togepi and headed back towards the campsite to comfort Ash. He had, of course, been ready to intervene at any moment to protect Misty's honour. Somehow, though, he didn't think Misty would appreciate anyone's interruption just now.
Oh, well. The evening hadn't been a total loss. Tracey had drawn what were probably his most interesting pictures ever. He'd always been good at sketching from life.