Right Time

A short story by Maia's Pen

Authors Note: This story is an Egoshipper. That means that it features a romantic interest between Gary and Misty. If this tends to bother you, then I recommend that you do not read this particular story. But if this is a pairing you enjoy, then by all means: welcome to my story and thank you so very much for your notice.

Disclaimer: I own nothing except for my very own devotion to Gary Oak. Heh, it's sad, I know.

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Chapter 1

He should have pressed the 'ignore' button when his cell phone rang. He really, really should have.

Had Gary Oak chosen the above course of action then he would be cruising along the sunny dirt roads of Pallet Town right now. He would not be in his current situation, struggling to keep his car on the road during this god-awful blizzard in the middle of nowhere!

Frigid sweat glistened on his brow; it had been a long time since he had operated a vehicle during a snowstorm. Gary generally avoided driving in poor weather conditions, he valued his life and he valued his car. He was not the reckless type who went out searching for irresponsible excitement; at least not behind the wheel of a car (the bedroom was a different matter entirely). In the past Gary had mocked those drivers who were stupid enough to stay on the road during a storm.

Well, he was the stupid one this time. He had cast aside his better judgment the moment he answered that call.

Gary could not even see ten centimeters in front of his face. His car was practically engulfed by the whiteout; it was like he had been swallowed whole by a gigantic Seel and was skidding down its long white esophagus.

The windshield wipers on his red convertible were useless; even at their top speed the snow was falling ten times faster. Gary clicked them off and rolled his window down. He could see a bit better if he just stuck his head into the blizzard, although he might as well have just stuck his face into a bowl of vanilla ice cream -- the amount of white and the cold would have been the same.

Gary's cheeks began to sting; the snow was crashing down on his skin like frosty bullets. It was like Articuno himself was hovering above his car and unleashing dozens of Ice Beams and Blizzard attacks.

Gary cursed under his breath; his convertible was not built for driving in weather such as this -- it was a summer car. If Gary had had any idea that this day would be brining him into the mountains he would have picked up the keys to his jeep instead.

Gary was seriously starting to question his own sanity. What the hell had possessed him to ever agree to do a favor for Ash Ketchum! He could not believe that he had actually allowed Ash Dumbass Ketchum to talk him into THIS!

The dialogue from their recent phone conversation still echoed painfully in Gary's mind:

"Oak here."

"Ah, hey . . . Gary. What's up? It's Ash."

". . . What do YOU want?"

"Eh, nice to talk to you too. Anyway, I was calling for a tiny favor."

"A favor? What are you insane or-"

"Listen, your granddad told me that you are on your way back from the University at Blackthorn City. And, wellMahogany Townisn't much of a detour for you, so would you mind picking up Misty Waterflower there and dropping her off in Cerulean on your way back home?"

"No way, Ash. I realize that you don't watch intelligent television programs like the news, but if you did then you would know that there is a horrific blizzard heading that way. In a few hours Mahogany Townwill be buried under snow; I am not delaying my trip home and risking my life for your weird friend."

"C'mon, Gary! Don't be such a selfish jerk! Misty is stuck up there. Her train was canceled because of the weather and she can't get a taxi! Stopping by ­­­Mahogany Town and picking her up will only take you a few miles off course."

"Did you just call me a 'selfish jerk'? Why Ash, if you were bright enough to notice I would insult you back."

"What! I am so bright enough! Shut up, Gary!"

"I rest my case."

". . .Listen, will you help Misty out or not? C'mon, I would consider this a personal favor, okay? She's stuck up there and she really has to get back to Cerulean for a Gym Leader conference tomorrow morning. Misty will reimburse you for any expenses. What do you say?"

"Why don't YOU go get her? And why doesn't she call me and ask me herself? And what is she doing in Mahogany anyway?"

"I'm still at the Indigo Plateau; I'd never make it to Johto before the storm. Besides, does anything else really matter? She's stuck up there, will you help her out or not?"
". . . Fine. Where is she?"
"The Triple Crown hotel off of route forty three. Thanks so much, Gary. Misty will be waiting in the lobby and ready to go when you get there. Hey, you haven't seen Misty in a few years; do you remember what she looks like?"

"Yeah, sure. The carrot-head, right?"

That fateful phone conversation occurred two hours ago. It usually only takes about a half-hour to zip back and forth between Blackthorn and Mahogany Town; only the condition of the roadway was making - what should have been - a speedy trip impossible.

At this time Gary was driving on route forty four. This route was a fairly main roadway, and yet he had not even seen one plow truck the entire time. He was hoping that a plow would come along and clean up the road before he and Misty had to backtrack this way later. He didn't much feel like getting his car stuck in the snow today. Misty Waterflower was not the only one who was on a time crunch to get back home.

It was Sunday evening and Gary had to get up early tomorrow morning to catch a flight to Sootopolis City in Hoenn. The gym leader there, Wallace, had recently contracted Gary to track down and study an odd variety of Seaking that were seen swimming off the coast of the island. These Seaking were not only bright red in color, but they were nearly twice the size of the average Seaking. Wallace was hoping that they were an evolved form, but so far no one had been able to get close enough to one to capture it. Gary was quite excited, and also flattered, that Wallace had chosen to contact him for the assignment over his grandfather or even over Professor Birch – who was located much closer to Sootopolis. At twenty-three years old Gary still had one year left at Blackthorn University before he was officially a Pokemon professor; therefore he was thrilled to be given this research opportunity. His undergraduate major had been marine Pokemon evolution, and Gary was confident that that was what gave him the edge over some other, much more experienced professors. Well . . . that and the fact that he was much younger than the other professors. Wallace had stressed that these usual Seaking were very elusive and fast, he needed a researcher who would be physically able to sprint along the shoreline after the fish.

Gary sighed miserably as he – finally- pulled his car into the Triple Crown hotel parking lot. His car trembled violently as he slammed his foot on the gas pedal – forcing the tires to push through the unplowed lot. He was unsure if his car was parked in an actual 'designated parking spot'; the lot was so overstuffed with snow there was no way of seeing the painted yellow parking lines. Gary was surprised at how packed the lot was with other cars. Usually Mahogany Town didn't hit their tourist season until the Lake of Rage opened up in May. It was February now and there was nothing at all to see here in this dismal little town. Gary started to wonder why Misty was even here, but then he reminded himself that he didn't give a Raticate's ass.

As he shut off his headlights, Gary caught a glimpse of himself in the rearview mirror . . . he looked tired. His marine-blue eyes seemed dim from lack of rest and his spikes of chestnut hair were messier than usual . . . he must have been unconsciously scratching his head as he drove, something he tended to do when he was anxious. He scrapped a finger at his right eye and then at his left – he was trying to rid himself of that heavy eyelid feeling. He couldn't allow himself to feel tired; he had a long drive back to the Kanto region tonight.

Well, Oak, the frosty air outside is sure to wake you up, he assured himself.

He was right. Gary swore loudly as he stepped out of his car, the freezing sticky snow was up to his shins! At the rate it was still hammering down his car would be buried if Misty wasn't ready to go.

If she's not ready then I'm leaving, Gary determined. I'm not waiting for her to gather her girly things, so she had better be standing in that lobby and ready to go like Ash promised. This snow seems like it is piling up a centimeter a second!

He began wishing that he had chosen a different outfit when he got dressed this morning. He was not at all clothed properly for winter weather. But, in fairness to Gary, he had been planning to drive straight into Pallet Town where it was currently humid and hot. The thin grey t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers he now sported were sucking up the snowflakes like Ash sucks up a milkshake. Gary was damp and shivering before he even reached the Triple Crown's entranceway.

The Triple Crown usually had a well-dressed employee standing outside greeting clients and opening doors, but not today. It was far too cold out for good customer service.

Gary shuffled into the grand lobby, leaving huge snow prints across the fine crimson carpet. He was taken slightly aback by how absolutely jam-packed the lobby was with people. Random people were sleeping on the hotel soft, on the floor; under coffee tables . . . it was really strange.

Are they waiting for rooms? There must be thirty-five people squeezed in here!

After a quick scan of the area he did not see Misty amongst the odd mass, therefore he tromped over to the reception desk. A middle aged receptionist greeted Gary with a warm smile.

"Hello there, young man," she sighed wearily. "If you are here to inquire about a room, I'm sorry but we are full. But you may wait the storm out in our lobby with the rest of these people. Most of them were stranded here after the train and taxi services were canceled."

Gary nodded politely. "Thank you, but no. I'm actually here to pick someone up . . ." Gary allowed his eyes to search the crowd of people again, but there were so many he couldn't pin point Misty. "Her name is Misty Waterflower."

The woman's fingers sprang to life, pounding on her computer keyboard. Her eyes lit up as she read something on her monitor. "Ah, yes! Miss Waterflower checked out about twenty minutes ago, she should be in the lobby here . . . someplace."

"Thanks," Gary turned away from the receptionist and headed toward the cluster of people. He was rather annoyed that Misty had not rushed up to greet him . . . had she perhaps fallen asleep like most of these other people? Or was she just being rude? Gary decided to give her the benefit of the doubt; he hoped he would find her snoozing.

Maybe one of these other guests knows where she is . . .? . . . Hm, who should I ask? I hate to wake someone up . . . let's see . . . Gary's eyes widened: oh my, my, my: what have we here?

Gary's eyes instantly seized the image of a sexy young woman; she was curled up in a corner of the hotel sofa and she was engrossed within the pages of a book. Her striking jade eyes were fervently drinking in every printed word while Gary's were drinking in her beauty. The young ladies hair fell in lavish piles down her back, sweeping over her shoulder blades and across her chest. Her hair was the color of fresh picked apricots and Gary imagined that it smelled just as sweet. Her body was snuggled within a turquoise turtle-neck sweater; a pair of pale blue jeans tightly hugged her hips and legs. Silver hoop earrings dangled carelessly from her ears, the hoops drew instant attention to the soft curves of her face, her smooth fair skin . . . the way she was anxiously licking her lips as she read . . . Damn, she's hot. Maybe she knows where Misty is? Even if she doesn't know, maybe she needs a ride someplace? I'd much rather drive this chick around than Misty.

Gary cleared his throat, instantly adorning his most flirtatious sexy smile. "Pardon me, Miss," he tapped a finger on the top of her book, her eyes flicked upward with blatant irritation. Gary casually ignored her obvious displeasure and continued: "Hi, I'm Gary," he raked his fingers through his hair; no woman had ever been able to resist him – especially once he drew attention to his great hair. "I'm looking for someone, perhaps you've seen her? Her name is Misty, she's got hair that looks like carrots, and scrawny legs like this," Gary imitated two legs walking with his fingers, "she's about twenty-three or twenty-four years old, really pale . . . have you seen anyone like that around here?"

The young woman's nostrils flared and her eyebrow twitched with an emotion Gary could only identify as rage. She slammed her book down and stood up on her tip-toes -- she was too short to stare him directly in the eye, but she certainly tried. A moment ago her eyes had been seductive pools of emerald, now they were scary green flames!

Gary took a step back, wholly confused as to what this chick's problem was.

Why do I always have a knack for flirting with psychos?

The young woman jabbed a finger into his chest like she were squashing a bug. "There is NO WAY that I am getting in a vehicle with YOU!" The irate quality in her voice sounded disturbingly familiar. . .

Gary's face puckered sourly as he examined the young woman again . . . oh, crap. . . redhead, green eyes, fair completion, tiny nose . . . I haven't seen her in five years . . . I didn't know it was her . . . ah . . . oh well. No loss. She's clearly still a hot-headed nutcase.

Gary shrugged nonchalantly, deciding to play this current awkward situation off as though he had known it was her all along. "Ha, I'm just kidding, Misty. I knew it was you. I was just testing to see if your tempter was still as unstable as it use to be . . . and the answer is: yes."

Misty narrowed her eyes into deadly slits. "Jerk!" she stomped over to the reception desk. "Pardon me; I would like my hotel room back ASAP. As it turns out I am not leaving Mahogany Town tonight."

The woman at the desk frowned thoughtfully. "I'm sorry, Miss Waterflower. We have already sold your room to another customer. We are completely full, but you are welcome to stay in the lobby tonight with everyone else."

Misty glanced at the overcrowded lobby and then at Gary. "Fine, I'm staying in the lobby."

Gary rolled his eyes. "Okay, not cool. I just drove for two hours in a blizzard to pick you up and you'd rather stay here?"

"If I throw a stick will you leave me alone?" Misty was clearly struggling to keep her voice down, but she had already succeeded in waking some of the guests.

Gary took a deep breath, calmly nodding his head. "You know what, Misty: that's okay with me. You are annoying as hell anyway. Go ahead, have a nice night here with him," Gary took the liberty of pointing to a creepy old guy who had just taken Misty's seat on the couch. "It looks like that old man has taken your spot, so if you wanna sit down at all tonight you'll have to sit on him." When the guy noticed Misty's attention he winked suggestively and patted his lap.

Misty cringed as though she had just bitten into a rotten egg; she clenched her jaw so hard Gary could hear it pop.

"Oh!" Misty huffed with exasperation. "Okay, Oak. Let's go." She snatched up her suitcase and seized Gary by his wrist; dragging him towards the exit.

"I knew you'd come to your senses." He couldn't hinder the boasting in his tone.

"Don't flatter yourself, Oak; you're only the lesser of two evils."

This is going to be a very long night, Gary sighed inwardly as Misty continued to yank him through the door. I really hope she plans on napping in the car.

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Authors Note: Thank you for taking the time to read my new little story! This is only going to be a few chapters long; the entire story is already finished, so you can expect frequent updates. Please, if you have taken the time to read this then I ask that you take another moment to leave a review. I worked VERY hard on this story for more hours than I can count, and I would really appreciate some comments, thoughts, or anything that you would like to say. Thanks again! Maia