For Better or Worse -- 1

Disclaimer: We do not own Pokemon.


"Next stop is Pallet. Anybody need to get off?"

The bus driver looked over his shoulder to his passengers. A single arm shot up in the air and waved, a small envelope clenched in its hand.

"Okay! You got about five more minutes," the driver informed.

"Thank you, sir," Misty called back.

The old bus continued to bump along the road, causing a couple passengers to bounce in their seats. Rural scenes passed by the window: Lovely country houses and small patches of wood. More buildings were slowly approaching on the horizon. The bus stopped along the main road with a heavy lurch and Misty stood.

"Thank you," Misty said at the door.

"Let me help you with your luggage, miss," the driver insisted.

They step out into the early morning sunlight and retrieve Misty's bag from the bus' carriage. She thanked him yet again and began to walk down the street. Pallet hadn't changed; it was still the typical town from a book where the neighbors loved each other and every husband was home by five. Fenced in yards and perfectly trimmed hedges, flowerbeds and petite vegetable gardens.

"I can't imagine what this is for," Misty pondered, as she walked up to a white two-story, and rang the doorbell.

The door slowly opened and Delia Ketchum appeared.

"Hello, Mrs. Ketchum, I came as soon as I…"

Mrs. Ketchum instantly locked Misty in a tight embrace.

"…could."

"Oh, it is so good to see you again, Misty!" Delia cooed. "Seems like forever, it does."

Misty wrenched herself free. "Yes, it does, but it's only been about six months."

"Half a year! That's too long!" Delia said and grabbed Misty's luggage. "Oh! Come in, come in! Where are my manners?"

"Thank you," Misty smiled and entered.

"It's been so quiet around here, you wouldn't believe it!" Delia sighed. "Ash sleeps most of the morning away and goes over to Professor Oak's place in the afternoon. The only time I can really talk to him is at the table."

Misty shook her head. "He abuses the privilege of having such a wonderful mother."

Delia put a hand on her cheek. "You flatter me, Misty! Stop it!"

"It's true, Mrs. Ketchum."

"I'm actually surprised that you came so early," Delia said. "Everyone else isn't expected to arrive until this evening."

"I wasn't sure how long it would take, coming from Cerulean," Misty answered. "Better to be early than late, right?"

"You don't plan on going back after tonight's festivities, do you?"

"Well, I probably should. I don't want to bother," Misty replied.

"Don't be ridiculous!" Delia almost shouted. "I have a guest room upstairs you can use for as long as you wish. A couple days, a week, a month or two, it doesn't matter! It will be like having a daughter around."

Delia then lost herself in happy thoughts.

Misty laughed quietly, but nervously. "Since you've offered so nicely, I'll take the guest room. I'll just bring my bag up there."

Delia snapped back. "Wonderful! Up the stairs, third door on the left at the end of the hall."

"Thanks."

Misty dragged her bag up the stairs and found her guest room easily. It contained a simple twin size bed and a dresser, but it felt homier than her room back in Cerulean for some reason. She put her suitcase at the bottom of the bed, opened it, and took out her toiletries. Walking to the landing of the staircase, she called down to Mrs. Ketchum.

"Mrs. Ketchum, do you mind if I take a shower?"

Delia stuck her head around the railing. "Not at all! Do you need shampoo?"

"No, I brought some with me," Misty said.

"Help yourself, then," Delia replied.

"Thank you."

"Stop saying 'thank you'!" Delia demanded. "Make yourself at home!"

"Okay, than--," Misty stuttered. "I mean, I'm going to go take that shower now."

Misty entered the bathroom, undressed, and hopped into the shower. She couldn't help but notice how quiet it was. Every once in a while you could hear Delia fumbling with something down in the kitchen, but that was it. In Cerulean, at least one of her sisters would be up and about, complaining. It was a nice break.

After the refreshing clean-up and getting dressed once more, Misty couldn't find a hairdryer anywhere in the bathroom. It wasn't that big of a loss, but having sopping hair isn't always enjoyable. A quick scrub with a towel would have to do.

"Misty, dear!" Delia shouted from downstairs.

Misty went to the stair landing once more. "Yes?"

"Would you do me a favor and wake Ash?" She asked. "It's pushing 11:30, and I want to have lunch soon."

"Sure."

Ash's room was the only door on the right side of the hallway. Opening the door slowly, it was easy to see how much of a slob he could be. There was laundry all over the floor and magazines serving as a protective cover on the desk. As for Ash himself, he was sprawled out on his bed; with the sheet only covering one leg and his mouth wide open.

Pikachu was sleeping at the end of the bed, curled up in a small ball. One of its eyes peeked open and spotted Misty. Its face lit up with joy and was about to exclaim his happiness when Misty put a finger up to her mouth for silence. She simply gave it a pat on the head and walked up to the side of Ash's bed.

"Ash, wake up."

No response.

"It's useless, isn't it, Pikachu?" Misty asked.

Pikachu nodded knowledgably.

Misty then took her wet hair and formed a ponytail. Making sure it was right over Ash's face, she rung it tight, causing a stream of water to trickle down onto him. He flailed roughly, sending the sheet over Pikachu and sat up abruptly.

"Gosh, Mom, you didn't have to splash me with water!"

"I don't think your mother would do that," Misty replied. "She's too nice to you."

Ash opened his eyes and stared at Misty. "What the--?"

"Scared or surprised?" Misty asked.

"Both! Well, I mean, um, wow, uh," Ash gets out of bed and gives Misty a quick hug. "It's great to see you."

"It's great to see you too, Ash, but it's only been six months."

"That's a long time for us!" Ash said. "We did nothing but travel together for a couple years."

"True."

"So, why are you here?" Ash asked.

"I got an invitation from your mother," Misty answered. "It's in the guest room if you need proof. It said something about a party or get-together or something. Cocktails, munchies, the whole bit."

"Ah, I see," Ash bobbed his head, and then raised an eyebrow. "How come I didn't know about this?"

"Your mother didn't tell you her plans?" Misty laughed. "Probably thought you'd try to ditch the party."

"Me? Ditch my mother's plans?" Ash looked affronted. "Yeah, you're most likely right. I would."

"Come on, lunch is ready."

"Food! Next to sleeping, it's the best thing life can offer," Ash grinned and dashed out of the room.

Misty sighed. "Let's go join him, shall we, Pikachu?"
Pikachu smiled and jumped onto Misty's shoulder.


"Thanks for the sandwitch, mom. It was really good." Ash said, getting up out of his chair, and taking his plate to the sink. Misty was still eating...not that she was slow, Ash was just a garbage can when it came to food. He killed three sandwiches in under a minuet.

Pikachu was eating some poke-food that Ash's mom had bought at the grocery store. He didn't mind eating it, but in his little head, he longed for Brock's special brew whenever it came time to eat. Soon Misty finished, and joined Ash on the couch, watching TV.

"So, what have you been doing for the past few months?" She asked, noticing how much he had changed in only a half-year. He had gotten a few inches taller, and was trying to do something with his hair...maybe grow it long. It looked pretty bad now, but hair always does in that mid-range. But aside from his attitude change, he was still Ash.

"Trying to stay out of jail!" He said with a laugh, looking at Misty, "What about you?" She too, had grown. Or maybe not, but Ash sensed something different about her. Maybe she had cooled off a lot since last they saw each other. That was probably it, since she usually would have found around five things about which she could smash him in the head with a mallet.

"Me too. I might just pull it off if I can keep from killing my sisters." They shared a laugh, and Ash realized how much he had missed her. It was good she was there.

"So you're having trouble with your sisters, again?" he asked. He didn't want to pry, but he did want the conversation to continue.

"Yeah. It's just the same stuff, I guess. Since they're older than I am...they think they can tell me what to do with my life. It just makes me want to act even more crazy!" She said with a smile, which expressed the exact opposite of what her words would have.

"Wow, you've really mellowed out." Ash said, noting her calm, "A year ago, you would've probably blown up like a volcano about all this. It's kinda cu--" he stopped abruptly, catching his words with a startled realization.

"Kinda what?" Misty asked, a bit of her old self coming through. After all, she was still Misty. Ash only shook his head, and stared at her like he had never seen her before. In fact, his mind was trying to work in a whole new way...one that he didn't exactly know how to deal with, "come on, tell me! I won't get mad, I swear."

"Kinda...new" Ash spat, knowing she would never buy it. But he couldn't say what he was originally going to. After all, it was an absurd notion, one that should never have popped into his head. And yet it had, and he didn't exactly disagree with it. Misty squinted her eyes menacingly, to convey that she was going to have him talk, one way or another. But luckily for Ash, he was saved by the sound of his mother opening the door and greeting someone outside.

"Hello, Professor Oak! Come in, please."

"Thank you, Delia. How are you and Ash doing?" Professor Oak stepped inside, starting on the formalities of a good gentleman.

"We're doing fine. Ash is actually home, for once. And so is someone else, I believe you know." Misty smiled a bit at the mention of her being 'home'. It felt good in a way.

"Well hey there, Misty! I haven't seen you in such a long time, but it's great to see you now. And Ash, you're actually out of bed! Too many suprises, I tell you."

"Hey, professor." Misty said, giving the old man a hug.

"Now professor," Delia said, noticing that he held in his hand a box, "I told you this wasn't a gift party."

"I know, but I brought a little thing anyway. It's for you and your family, so you can do with it as you please." He handed Delia the box.

"Thank you, professor, but you really shouldn't have." she set it on the table, to be opened later.

"But I did, and that's that. It isn't anything special anyway." He said. Ash went over to the table and proceeded to open the box. After all, he said it was for the 'family' and Ash was part of the family. It was a box of assorted candies, and he quickly picked out a few of his favourites, and lined his pockets. He gave Pikachu a few as well. Then, he waved for Misty to come over, and he handed her the box to pick out of. She took but one.

"Don't be shy." Ash said, mouth full of chewy sweet, "you're family too. Take all you want."

"Indeed you are, Misty," Delia said, "Thank you, professor. These are actually my favourite candies."

"You're quite welcome. I believe I recalled that when I picked them out. Funny how you remember things like that." Oak said, eyes glazing over. He was no doubt figuring in his head some equation that figured the semantics of memory patterns in relation to the stimuli of day-to-day life. He wasn't called 'professor' for nothing.

"Well, make yourself at home," Ash's mother offered, extending her hand as if to show her home that he was to welcome himself to, "I doubt anyone else will come for a few hours yet."

"Yeah, here." Ash grabbed the remote control for the television, and handed it to Oak, "watch whatever you want to. I've got to go upstairs and get a shower." He went up the stairs, and into the bathroom. The sound of the shower being turned on was heard, but it was followed by a loud bang, "Ouch!"

"Did he...fall?" Misty asked rhetorically, looking up the stairs. No one said anything for a while, save for the Ash.

"Damned soap!" He shuffled around a bit more, but his noise fell into silence eventually.

"So Misty," Oak asked, "what have you been doing lately?"

"Not much, professor. Just the usual." She went back to the couch and sat down, Oak and Delia following. No one changed the channel, for it was a pokemon tournament going on, some new deal they were having at the Indigo Plateau. They all watched with interest, as trainers came into their fights and put their best foot forward. Ash came into the room, having finished his washing, and jumped over the back of the couch, landing between Misty and his mother.

"What's on?" He asked, resting his arms behind him along the back of the couch.

"The first rounds of the new Trainer's Cup tournament," Oak said, "it's being held at the Plateau."

"Hear that, Misty? Sounds like we've got another adventure lined up for ourselves," Ash said with a grin, "We just need Brock here, now. Did you invite him to this party of yours, mom?"

"Of course, son. I invited everybody I cound think of." Delia said, looking a bit offended that Ash would think she didn't invite their friends. And sure enough, almost like magic, there was a knock at the door. Ms. Ketchum stood and went to open it.

"Well hello, Brock! And Gary, good to see you two! Come in, please." She moved aside, and let the two enter.

"Tracey called me before I left," Brock said, "He said he couldn't make it. Something about a pokemon tournament."

"Well, it's alright. He has a life of his own, he can't be expected to drop it for such a little thing as a party." Delia said with a smile, and went into the kitchen to cook or something.

"Hey, you guys!" Brock said, seeing Ash and Misty, "Long time, no see, Misty. How ya been?" He gave her a hug, and shook Ash's hand. Then Oak's.

"Pretty good, how about you?" She answered, sitting back down.

"Alright, I guess. I'm getting fat from sitting around so much!" He said, grabbing his stomach.

"No you're not. Here, sit down," Ash offered, "You too, Gary. Don't be a stranger."

"I'd rather stand." Gary answered, looking a bit nervous for some reason.

"Hey, what's the matter?" Ash asked him, "you look tense. You can relax around us! Just because I can whip you in a pokemon match doesn't make you completely helpless!"

"Hah! Keep dreamin, Ashy. Actually, I've got something to tell everybody..." He stood in front of all in attendance, and shuffled his hands around.

"What's up?" Brock asked, "You didn't act so nervous when I met you on the way over here."

"Heh, well. It's just that, you don't know about it yet, gramps." He said, referring to Oak, "I don't want to steal any spotlight from your party, Ash, but I needed to tell everybody, because I want you all to come. You see, I'm gonna get married next week."


Note: yo, this is Brokennarsil16! Just in case you guys are wondering, the first part of this chapter was done by Washuu Puppett, my partner in arms here, and the second half was done by me. Just to clarify!