Author - Chibi / Warlordess

Disclaimer - I don't own Pokemon, or the characters or plots involved. . . Forgive me?

Notes - Well, it's a little late, but I didn't even get the idea for this fic until two days before Christmas, and I didn't start writing it until Christmas Eve, so you'll have to go on and hope that the holiday spirit is still within you. This is a holiday gift for all of those Pokeshippers and readers of my work who still chose to believe that I wouldn't leave you hanging on some of my fics, even after I hadn't updated them for months (or years) at a time! Happy Christmas, everyone!

Dedication - To one of my dearest Gal-Pals, AbsolKitty! Why'd I write this? Because it's been way too long since I've written a one-shot, let alone something fluffy. Why'd I dedicate it? Because it's been a long time since I've done that, too. Why to AbsolKitty? Because she's the one person I told about this fic, and she liked it; actually, she almost died from laughing, and no matter how easily impressed she must obviously be, she's a darling, isn't she?

Anyway, Les, I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to call you last weekend like I promised, but I'll get to it as soon as possible this week!

Warning - Rated for so much fluffiness that half of you will want to rip your eyes out by the end of it. . .

Summary - What Christmas gift said, 'I love you obsessively, hope you feel the same; marry me?' AAMR. Belated Xmas fic. Dedicated to AbsolKitty.


Title - A Pair

An Ash and Misty One-Shot. . .


Character / Ages -

Ash / 16

Misty / 17

Daisy / 24

Lilly / 23

Violet / 21

Mrs. Ketchum / 37


It was a 'Between the Leagues' visit, or so he called it. All Misty knew was that, sometime around Christmas, about a month or so after the Hoenn League had come to a close, Ash had turned up on her doorstep with Pikachu on his shoulder and no one else in tow. There was quite a bit of snow sitting atop the material of his coat and hat, and his first Pokemon partner seemed to be overcome with chills.

And all he'd had to say was, "Hey, Myst; mind giving us a bit of shelter?"

She could have hit him so hard at that point, but, quite frankly, she had other things on her mind. First of all, she'd been spending the last twenty minutes unsuccessfully wrapping her sisters Christmas presents, and she had an 'Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas' soundtrack playing atrociously in her CD player right now, the horrifyingly immature lyrics playing over the whole of the Cerulean Gym PA system. And now, just when she'd thought she'd have a holiday off from trying to find Ash the perfect gift, he chose to show up here, unannounced, looking tired, and frigid, and exactly like he used to. . .

Somehow losing her mind, she chose to do absolutely nothing under the frame of violence, and drew him into a hug. Oh, how she had missed the hugs. . . Of course, then reality hit, because he was currently freezing, and she ended up shrieking and letting go of him, dragging the bit of snow from his front with her.

"Merry Christmas to you, too, Misty." He laughed, allowing Pikachu to hop off his shoulder and run frantic into the warm gym.

Of course, the holiday wasn't for another two days, which, considering the large bag on Ash's back insinuating that he was planning on staying awhile, meant that she had only forty-five hours, twenty-two minutes, and fifty-nine seconds to think of something to get him.

Fifty-seven seconds. . .

Fifty-six. . .

Yea, it was just better to stop counting.

A well-known panic rising from within her, Misty backed away slowly and began walking a bit towards the main desk that her sisters usually occupied, but who were out currently doing some last minute shopping of their own, still facing Ash. He suddenly had a catty grin on his face.

"So. . . I never would have made you out to be a fan of high-pitched little mutant rodents, Myst. Whose your favorite?" She could tell that he was just itching to make fun of her for her choice in music, and she quickly hit the stop button that was placed before her on the desk, and the intercoms' blaring came to an abrupt halt.

"Theodore. No! I mean. . . Shouldn't you be at home, Ash? I think your mom would be a bit upset that you weren't spending the holiday with her. . ." What a nice opening statement. No 'How are you, Ash? I hope you're well.' or at least a 'Happy holidays.' But, hey, if there was no other valid excuse, this was extremely short notice.

Ash's expression suddenly turned muddled, and he looked confused, "What are you talking about? She won't be coming in until tomorrow, like your sisters planned. Or. . . didn't you know?" His eyes widened, suddenly comprehending, and he continued, looking sheepish, "Your sisters wrote my mom awhile ago, requesting that she and I spend the Christmas holiday here. Their excuse was that the Gym was a bit big for just four girls, and they wanted to thank me for being your. . . What was the word they used? 'Keeper', I think it was. . . while we were on our training journey."

If nothing else, Misty's ego took a huge blow at that comment. Looking winded and very angry, she advanced on her best friend of five years, ten months, forty-nine weeks, three days, eleven hours, thirty-two minutes, and six seconds, intent on giving him a piece of her mind.

Eight seconds. . .

Nine. . .

She really had to learn to be less exact.

"Who was whose keeper, Mr. Pokemon Master! I'm the one who tried to stop you from killing yourself a million times over! What gives you the right to say--!" But Ash interrupted her with a sadly influential puppy-dog face. It spoke the obvious question. . .Why was she yelling at him? Her sisters were the ones to invite him without her knowing, and he had never thought to acknowledge it as something new to her. ". . . Right. I'll kill them when they get back, then." She turned and stomped her foot on the ground, heading down the hall and past the large double-doors, both locked tightly, that would usually lead into the Pokemon Gym arena, and walked through the archway to her right, just before the staircase leading upstairs.

Ash just stared for a moment, not sure what he was supposed to be doing, but Misty soon aggravatedly poked her head back out into the hallway, gaining his attention.

"Aren't you coming?"

"Er. . . right!" And he leapt in her direction, not wanting to give her attitude a chance to grow by keeping her waiting.

The sight that met his gaze was rather inviting, considering how chilly it had been just a few moments ago. There was an alighted Christmas tree sitting about three feet from a wood burner, which was blazing brilliantly and allowing him a chance to warm up. Pikachu was sitting just in front of it, a small, contented smile on his lips, and Misty's Azumarril was napping soundly on the couch against the opposite wall.

Misty herself was sitting a small distance away from the tree on the floor, a few mismatched packages and supplies set out around her. It was funny to think that Misty, someone who always seemed so elite with dressing bandages when it came to the sickly, seemed to be a butterfingers when it came to wrapping presents.

"Do you, er. . . need any help?" He asked, sheepish, unsure as to if he should even bother offering.

"No offense, but. . . what could you possibly know about it?" She asked and he knew that she wasn't trying to be rude and was actually quite curious.

"Well, nothing, really. I haven't wrapped anything since I was four years old. . . And I almost killed Gary at the time. . ." He said embarrassedly, bringing the common hand to the back of his neck and scratching, "That was before the. . . rivalry. We were racing through Pallet and he fell and scraped his cheek. I went to ask my mom to help me clean the scratch, but she was taking a nap, so I kinda. . . tried to do it myself. And, well, I almost ended up strangling Gary on accident. . ."

Poor Gary. Poor, poor Gary. Misty sweatdropped at the thought of the Oak grandson's misfortune.

"Still, it can't be any worse than what I've tried doing. . ." She admitted to him, patting a spot next to her for him to claim, and he did, quite sloppily, really, "So, why did you come ahead of your mom? If anything, you could have just come together. . ."

"Well, you see, I'm kinda fond of traveling on foot. My mom's not used to it, so she decided to take a train, which should be arriving tomorrow, around four in the afternoon. Of course, I'll be going to meet her. . . But I think it might be better if you come with me, seeing as I don't know Cerulean very well, and I know for a fact that I'll end up getting us lost. You know the way there, right. . . ?"

". . . Er, sure." Given, she really didn't know, seeing as she'd never had a need to before, "I'll navigate for you; I have to go out tomorrow, anyway. Might as well make it as useful an outing as possible." And tonight she'd spend a few hours online, finding and memorizing the directions to said train station. . . She had a feeling that she wasn't going to get any sleep whatsoever. . .

Of course not, with Ash being just one room away. . . I gotta learn to work on my poker face. . . She thought to herself, turning scarlet enough to put the orange-red fire in the wood burner beside her to shame. Being who she was, it wasn't hard to imagine her blurting something very troublesome out without even realizing it until it was too late. . .


"Really, Mrs. Ketchum, I'm sorry about this. I didn't think that my sisters would be so forward with inviting you way out here for Christmas. . . You could have turned them down; after all, I'm sure you'd rather spend this intimate holiday with your own family, right. . . ?" Misty asked next day, as she and Ash helped unload a couple of suitcases from the overhead compartment of the train that had brought Ash's mom from Pallet Town.

"Oh, don't worry! If anything, I consider you a part of the family, and I wouldn't turn down an offer like this; Ash hasn't seen you in so long. It would have made me feel bad if he couldn't take this opportunity. Plus, of course, I'm quite fond of you, and this will give me a chance to relax. Usually, I'm the one to do all of the cooking and tree-trimming and things since Ash usually doesn't show up until the night before the holiday." Mrs. Ketchum replied happily, laughing as she waited for Ash to force himself outside of the very tight exit way, holding the largest of the two suitcases in his hands. Pikachu wavered dangerously from his space on his trainer's shoulder.

"Yea, but I doubt you'll be off the hook, if Misty's sisters are anywhere near as inept at cooking as Misty is. . ." Ash laughed, taking a chance to catch his breath when Misty glared at him, "But, really, Myst, you make me feel like I'm unwanted here. . ." He played off the hurt and shock very well, so much that everyone, even Misty, was able to crack a smile.

"Well, anyway, I told Pikachu to make sure and keep track of the way we came here, and so he can help you back. Sorry, but I have a couple of errands to do, and they need to be done today. I'll meet up with you both later at the gym!" The redhead called out as she threw the smaller suitcase she was holding into Ash's arms, "It can't be helped. . . !" She said forcefully when he opened his mouth to argue, and she took off at a run.


"Well, then, I want a lifetime supply of hamburgers as my Christmas gift!" Ash replied, obviously somewhat aware as to what she was doing, but she ignored him.

As soon as she was out of eyesight of her best friend, Misty removed from her pocket a wallet with only thirty dollars left inside of it. After buying two deluxe make-up sets for Violet and Lilly and a special platinum cased Pokeball series for Daisy, she barely had anything left for Ash. But she knew that she wanted to get him something special.

She always debated with herself like this, every single year. Unfortunately, choosing what to get him never seemed to get any easier, and she hated buying him something too simple, or buying him the same thing every year. She felt that he deserved a bit better than that. But that left her with very little choice.

What Christmas gift said, "I love you obsessively; hope you feel the same. . . Marry me?" Well, love didn't have to be such a set term. . . But she definitely wanted to give him something that showed she cared. A lot. More than any other just-friends friend would for him, ever.

Maybe something to do with food wasn't such a bad idea after all, but really. . . What teenage boy, let alone a traveling trainer, would shout with glee at the sight of an Easy Bake Oven? Maybe something smaller, anyway; there was no way he could carry that all over the regions he traveled, let alone over the different types of terrain. . .

A poem? It was short, simple. . . And she could use the excuse to tell him how she felt for him. . . But then, really, could she expect Ash to understand what she was saying?

Misty stopped for a moment outside of a flower shop and imagined what it would be like to hand it over to him and wait for the results of his reading it. . .

"Here you go, Ash; something special from me to you. . . I hope you like it. . ." She handed him a piece of paper, rolled up and tied with a scarlet ribbon.

Ash undid the knot and allowed the paper to fall open silently, and when it was done, he leant in and inspected the words closely. Barely two seconds into reading, however, he looked up at her confusedly with his nose scrunched up.

"Hey, Myst, what's this word, just here?" He said, pointing at it.

Misty sighed irritably; she should have known this would happen. . .

"Ash; that's my name. . ." She stressed the term, disbelieving to the fact that he couldn't remember how to spell it.

Back in the present, Misty shook her head. No way; as disastrous as that encounter would be, and maybe a bit farfetched, there was a possibility that it wasn't far from the truth. Either way, she wasn't going to risk it; and a poem would probably be right over his head anyway. She'd have to settle for something else, something non-literary.

Maybe something like stain cleanser? After all, he wore his hat almost twenty-four hours a day. It had to be in the need of a good cleaning. . . Then again, since when did Ash actually do laundry. . . ?

There was always money; it would help him on his journey. . . But, no. . . That wasn't romantic or thoughtful at all, even if it did make the world go round. . .

Growing fairly anxious, Misty continued on her way, aware that soon - probably within the hour, at that - all of the shops in Cerulean would be closing, save for the convenience store on the edge of town. After all, it was now Christmas Eve. . . That meant that she had barely any time to think of something. . .

Randomly, helplessly, she wandered into an arts and crafts shop. Taking a look around, she sighed; there was barely anything here that would suit her needs. There was an aisle full of things for making a homemade holiday wreath, but that wasn't useful at all. There was a small cart piled high with child's art supply cases, filled with crayons, markers, colored pencils, and pastels, but that was worthless, too. After all, she'd known Ash for years now. She'd damn herself if he'd gone all this time being able to keep a secret such as a world-renown skill for easel-work and she'd not been able to guess.

But then she saw it. Raw cloth material, in colors stemming from pale Easter holiday to vibrant Valentines Day. There was one that was a fair pink, and it reminded her of the exact hue of the handkerchief that she'd given Ash almost two years ago. In the same aisle were small needling kits, perfect for embroidering small things, and hemming as well.

Nodding affirmatively, Misty walked swiftly down the row, pulling into her arms a medium length of bright green material, and a small length of royal blue. She also picked up a case of ten different colored threads and needles, hoping that it would be worth the purchase even though she only intended to use one of them.

"Is this all?" The woman behind the counter asked as Misty unloaded everything she had onto the mobile belt at the register.

"Uhm, yea, I hope so. . . I won't be able to come back in time for tomorrow, if I end up forgetting something. . ." Misty said with a weak laugh, pulling out her money.

"True, but I'm sure that you have enough. . ." The woman told her in what sounded like an absent tone, but there was a small grin on her face that made it obvious she was paying attention, "That will be fifteen dollars and seventy-four cents."

"Oh, here. . ." Misty said in a rushed breath, holding out the twenty that had been sitting in her wallet. After gaining the amount of change she was entitled, she grabbed the bag and made a mad dash for the front door, running in the direction of the gym.

She wouldn't normally be acting so rash, but considering the fact that her family didn't own a sewing machine, and also considering she'd never sewn a single thing in her life, she needed all the time she could afford in order to try and have this ready for Ash by tomorrow.

For this was something come upon in the element of the moment, something memorable, something not unlikely to be found in a fairytale. Just like the last one. . .

"Oh, Misty, there you, like, are!" Violet said, walking up casually, though with a slightly dopey grin on her face, and a holly wreathe sitting on her head, "Come on, it's the Holidays, you know. . . You should be spending it with, like, all of us, your family. . . Oh, look, we've got drinks!" She held up a mug of tainted eggnog and stuck it under Misty's nose, "It's a very fine blend; you should, like, have some. . . !"

"Er, no thanks; I'm still, you know, young, innocent. . . underage. . ." Misty emphasized, in such a hurry that she didn't recognize that her sister was making a joke. The bag of things from the crafts store was held behind her back just in case Ash happened to come along and spot it and show a level of wit and knowledge not formerly available to him, taking a guess and figuring out what it was for, "If you don't mind, I really should be getting along, so unless you really need something from me, I'm gonna have to get past you and go up to my room. . ." And she took off like a rocket, bounding up the staircase two steps at a time, ignoring the fact that someone had let her 'An Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas' soundtrack wreck havoc on their home that night, once again.

"Right, well, I'll get Lilly to, like, bring you something later. . . It'll help relieve you of some of that. . . er. . . romantic tension you've got, like, totally going on!" Violet giggled drunkenly, waving offhandedly as she turned the corner into the family room, and Misty could only turn and glare at an empty hallway.

Gods, if Ash just happened to overhear that comment, she'd have some demon slaying to do. . . Such a shame, too, because it would so thoroughly ruin the holiday. . .

Running frantic into her bedroom and shutting the door, she turned and made for her desk, making a list of the things she'd have to do to prepare for tomorrow, and allowing certain allotted amounts of time for every chapter of the project she had to complete.

Given, if she were to have this finished in time, she'd end up getting about forty-five minutes of sleep. . . Or, well, that was probably an exaggeration.

Shaking her head, she pulled out all of the supplies she'd bought, setting them out on her bed and turning her desk lamp on them so that she could see them all properly. If she made a mistake, there was no way she'd be able to fix it, so she just had to hope for the best.


The next day was actually quite spectacular, even Misty had to admit, as her sisters worked diligently alongside Mrs. Ketchum in the kitchen, helping prepare the greatest Christmas feast that they could manage. Ash was drooling expectantly, although he still managed to keep an eye on all of the gifts under the tree, and his arm around Pikachu, who was growing content with the warm atmosphere.

Finally, when the turkey and stuffing bake was set in the oven, the potatoes and gravy were boiling, the peas were awaiting a spot on the cluttered stove after being sheared from their pods (as Mrs. Ketchum had actually brought them from her garden in Pallet Town), and the dirty dishes were soaking in a sink of hot water, the whole of the Waterflower and Ketchum family sat in the living room next to the tree and Daisy and Delia stood up front to host the holiday greeting.

"Well, we're, like, happy that everyone could totally get together and we hope that you all have a great holiday! My sisters and I have, like, done the best we could in the shopping department and we'd appreciate it if you'd, like, let us all know what you think of your gifts after receiving them! And we hope that you'll respect the same, like, appreciation of us, you two." Daisy winked encouragingly at Ash in particular and Misty, feeling suddenly heated, inched just a bit further away from his seat next to her on the plush carpet.

"Alright, now it's time to get this started. . . Oh, and look, the first gift is for my Ashy-boy!" Mrs. Ketchum said with a knowing grin that meant she'd picked it out intentionally, "Go on; open it, Ash. . . !" She said eagerly, although whatever reaction she was hoping for, it probably wasn't the one that elicited itself from the young Pokemon Trainer's mouth.

"Mo-om!" Ash cried out, thoroughly embarrassed as he unwrapped the deluxe six-pack of underwear and shoved it hurriedly behind him before Misty or anyone had a real chance to laugh at him for it.

"You can never have enough. . . !" Mrs. Ketchum said innocently, and it seemed as though she truly didn't know how horrifying it was to receive such a hygienic gift in such a popular area.

"Oh, and this one's to me. . . ? From my, like, totally, baby sister, Misty!" Daisy said affectionately, and she carefully removed the displaced tape from the first layer of wrapping paper, "Wait. . . Why did you, like, use so much. . . ? What, is there, like, something alive in there? Should I, like, be worried?" She asked, confused as she went through a second and then a third layer of it.

Misty turned scarlet, thoroughly embarrassed now. Daisy's had been the first gift she'd wrapped, and, having no talent whatsoever in that category, it'd been the most indecent. She'd ended up ripping the first two sheets that she'd used, and finally, on the third time, she'd done it successfully, but seeing as it would only be more embarrassing to tell her sister that, she coughed in denial.

"Oh, like, well. . ." Daisy said, noticing her expression and thinking it was better not to make anything of it, "Oh, this is a surprise. . . !" She said in shock as the clear case rimmed with gold came into sight, "Whoa, thanks, like, little sister! A Pokeball Series!" She held it up for everyone to see.

"Yea; it contains pairs of every type of Pokeball ever made, minus the Masterball. There're Greatballs and Ultraballs, and then there are Lureballs, and Heavyballs, and all sorts of things like that. I thought that, since you were becoming a bit more interested in Pokemon training, it would be useful." Misty replied, "It's a Limited Edition collection, but I thought it'd be worth it. . ."

"Okay, and these two are for you Misty, from Lilly and Violet; oh, and speaking of which, here're a couple from Misty to you two." Mrs. Ketchum said, handing over the gifts all at once.

Once her older sisters had opened their gifts, Misty shoved her fingers into her ears in brace of the sheer impact.

"OH, LIKE, MY GOD!" They shouted in unison, holding dear the make-up kits that ranged all of five stories of cosmetics such as blush, eye-liner, lipstick, and then other things such as fingernail polish, clippers, basically an entire home-manicure set, and yet many more things that Misty had never bothered to learn about, seeing as she never cared so much for her appearance.

"Like, thanks so much, little sister!" Violet shrieked in ecstasy.

"Yea, really, like, this is going to be my all-time favorite of the nineteen kits I own up in my room now!"

Ash caught Misty's eye momentarily to ask whether or not her sister had been serious about that comment, but she didn't feel she had courage enough to grace him with a truthful answer, so she ignored him, instead choosing to take a look at the presents from her two respective sisters.

"Oh, look, it's. . . hair accessories. . . and jewelry. . ." She replied in what she hope sounded like a grateful tone, because otherwise, she'd end up ruining the spirit and - well, she supposed that they'd actually thought about her when purchasing these for her, hadn't they? "Uhm, thanks, guys. This means a lot."

"We thought that you could use them to, like, impress a certain, eh hem, someone. . ." Violet said with a pointed look.

"Anyway," Daisy said, hoping that Misty's murderous glance wouldn't cast a shadow on the holiday they were currently trying so hard to celebrate without incident, "here, Mrs. Ketchum, this one's for you, from Misty." She cleared her throat and everyone's attention turned back to the activity at hand.

"Oh, really? Thank you so much, Misty, but you know, you really didn't have to get me anything. . ." Delia laughed thankfully as she took the thin square object into her hands, "But, now that you mention it. . ." And she turned and ducked into the pile of Christmas gifts, withdrawing three of them and handing them over to the redhead, "I wasn't sure what you would be expecting for the season, so I thought I'd try and pick up a few things of my own for you. . ."

"Erm, thanks. . ." Misty emphasized, very grateful and knowing that her one measly present would obviously pale in comparison as Ash's mom went ahead and removed the wrapping paper.

"Oh, this is wonderful!" Mrs. Ketchum said thickly, as it was revealed to be a pair of hardbacks, a gardening manual and a cookbook, "It even teaches you how to perfectly prepare freshly grown vegetables for garden salads; Misty, this is just fine, thank you so much. . . !" She finished, enveloping the teenage girl in a hug.

More or less, this was how the entire exchange took place. About five minutes after the gift-swap between Misty and Delia, Lilly escaped into the main lobby of the gym and pressed the 'Play' button of the CD player installed into the PA system, and, once again, Alvin and The Chipmunks' nasally voices rung throughout the arena. And even hours later, after the main fuss had ended and Misty was relaxing upstairs, she was trying hard not to kick herself for forgetting to remove the CD last night when she'd had the chance, but, well, other things had been on her mind. And speaking of other things. . .

A knock sounded at her bedroom door and, after shouting her consent for whoever it was to enter, Ash stepped inside, peering cautiously through the crack at first as though thinking she'd be in the middle of something personal.

". . . So, Myst," he began when he saw that everything was normal, "Mom wanted me to let you know that dinner will be ready in about forty-five minutes, so any binging you have to do, you know, you should get on that right about now. . ." He joked feebly, and Misty had a feeling she knew why.

In an effort to make the barter more personal, she hadn't left her gift for him under the tree. No, she wanted to have him receive it when it was just the two of them. . . Then again, his anxious attitude could have also been because she hadn't gotten anything from him, either, at least, nothing he'd allowed anyone else to see.

"Right; so are you going to explain why you didn't get me anything this year?" She said in her usual Misty-tone, the one that used to ignite a battle between her and Ash, and one that she'd missed using for a very long time.

"Oh, sure. . . Just as soon as you explain why you didn't get me anything." He replied in just the same way, but he was smiling in remembrance of the many times they'd acted this way just for fun.

"Oh, but I did." She smiled knowingly, because he probably wasn't expecting this, and she turned away from him, "I just wasn't so sure about giving it to you after I found out that you had nothing for me." Her smile widened. She could hear him sputtering to come up with an excuse already, his curiosity for the gift she'd bought getting the better of him.

"But - but. . . C'mon, Myst, please let me have it. . . ! I'm sorry I didn't get you anything, but you're really a very hard person to shop for! And it's too cold to catch you any Pokemon you may have wanted, like a Tentacruel! They won't be migrating until late Spring! I tried, though, you can even ask my mom!" Her eyes widened and she turned back to him, "Yea, that's right; I was so desperate to find you something that I went to my mom for advice! And it didn't even work! You're remarkably difficult, you know that? Even when you're not around!"

"Wait. . . Huh? Just how long were you searching for, anyway?"

"Eh, well. . . I think for a couple of weeks before we arrived here. I did know ahead of time that I'd be coming, unlike you, so I tried to think of something. . . but nothing came to mind, unfortunately. . . Of course, half of the time I was on a ferry back from Hoenn, but still. . ." He rambled in excuse, and Misty sighed, having been almost sure for a moment that this was going somewhere positive. . . Even romantic. . . But, then again, it was Ash, "Anyway, can you please just give me my gift. . . ! I promise, as soon as I think of something really good, I'll get it for you, but for now. . ." His eyes were pleading rather childishly at this point, and she was finding it very funny.

Getting up from the seat at her desk, she gave in, "Fine, fine. . . But I don't do refunds so if you're disappointed, you're going to have to get over it. . ." She continued as she absentmindedly removed something from the pocket of her pants, and he raised his eyebrows in avid interest. After all, how wonderful a thing could she fit into her pocket?

And then she showed him what she'd been working on all night. Almost eight hours work, and what had come of it? A new handkerchief. It was a bright green with a royal blue hemming, and in the bottom right-hand corner stood the embroidery "Ash K." in fancy, albeit, slightly shaky, uneven lettering.

"Hey, why does that look so. . . familiar, somehow. . . ?" He asked, pointing at it, and she facefaulted. She suppose she shouldn't have expected so much of him, but, really. . . Had he completely forgot? Well, now it was time to remind him. . .

"Ash! C'mon, you remember when I had to leave you behind in Jhoto! I left you that handkerchief to wrap your lunches in during the day when you were on the road. . . !" She finished, and he opened his mouth in an 'oh' sound of recognition, "Well, I thought that, maybe, that one was getting kind of worn by now. I mean, it's been over two years since I gave it to you, so I thought I'd make you a new one, and I personalized it - see?" She said, letting him have a closer inspection of it, "Now you can alternate between the two of them, use one on one day, and the other one the next. . . It's just a way for you to remember me, you know?" Okay, so perhaps the last comment was a little strong-suited for the moment, but. . .

"What. . . ? Alternate? Mwah! But, Myst, I lost that other one a long time ago!" He stated in shock and confusion, almost as though he thought it ridiculous that she'd think he'd be able to keep it for so long.

"What! But - but, Ash, that was my way of expressing my love for you!" She shouted in fury and, two seconds later, her eyes widened in disbelief at her own stupidity. Ash was staring wild-eyed at her, as though suddenly terrified that she'd swoop down and attack him.

"Er, r - really. . . ? W - well, that's. . ." He was totally speechless at this declaration, "Yea, that's. . . I mean, really. . ." He gulped, but Misty held up a finger as though telling him to hold on for just a moment.

"Wait, wait. . ." She rolled her eyes a little and started murmuring, repeating what she'd just told him under her breath as though she was sure she'd mistaken herself. All Ash could do was stand there and wonder if she was just a bit more insane than he'd originally thought, ". . . 'my way of expressing my love for you. . .' Huh. . . You know what, Ash? I - I have to use the bathroom. Do you think you could hold on just a moment?" And not waiting for his nod of ascent - which he gave, only because he thought she'd ravage him endlessly unless he did so - she took off through the restroom extension alongside her bedroom.

Obviously, it wasn't the perfect time to be taking a bathroom break, but Ash couldn't exactly find the strength to tell her that, so he waited patiently as she disappeared through the doorway and shut it behind her. . . All seemed calm for a couple of seconds, until. . .

"Stu-pid! Stu-pid! Stu-pid!" Her voice shouted from within the adjacent room, and he heard three distinct thumps of something hitting something else ferociously.

A few seconds later and she exited again, looking slightly dazed and, in worry, he stepped forward.

"Er, Myst, are you okay. . . ?" He asked as he tried to help her stand straight, but she waved him off and ran her palm over her forehead, which was looking suddenly pink and bruised, "Oh. . ." He said, understanding what all the racket had been.

"Y - yea, I'm okay now. . . I'm just. . ." Misty nodded in reply to his question, but she let up in a groan, not able to forget what secret she'd worked so hard on protecting for so long, the same one she'd just shouted out for the entire world to hear, "Sorry about that, but I didn't know what else to do. . . Uhm. . . Yea, I'm okay. . ." She fumbled and he laughed.

"You said that already. . ."

She finally looked him in the face and saw it; it was fairly obvious now, but the embarrassment she'd managed to contain beforehand had flowed so far as to infect Ash, too. Great; that was perfect. Really.

"Sorry. . ." She started over.

"You said that, too. . ." He laughed again, and then swept a hand to the back of his neck partly in frustration and unease. "When was the last time we were in a situation this awkward. . . ?" He asked rhetorically, but Misty knew the answer anyway.

"Oh, that's easy. That time on the blimp in the Orange Islands, right after we'd left Brock with Professor Ivy. Team Rocket had just accused us of eloping. . ." Misty counted off in full detail, hoping to keep the conversation going so that it strayed far away from the horrible thing she'd blurted out not even five minutes ago.

"It's not gonna work, Myst. . . Something like that doesn't just go away. . . And even I'm not dumb enough to forget it so easily. . ." Ash commented, and she quickly withdrew a large breath of air.

"So, how do you wanna handle it. . . ?" She asked, collapsing restlessly onto her bed. Now that it was out, and there was no escaping it, she was awfully interested, somehow, in seeing it through to the end.

"I dunno; aren't you the romantic one?" He asked, but she only groaned again, and he knew why. If nothing else, that confession had been anything but romantic, "Trust that temper of yours to get the better of you yet again. . . Strange, though. . ."

"What's strange?" Misty yelped anxiously, jumping up from her position in bed as though alerted of a strange creature in her room by its large shadow slinking against her wall. She gulped. What could she expect from him, after all? If memory served, not much. . .

"Well, there was this problem I had before, where I couldn't think of anything to get you for Christmas, but now. . . well, something comes to mind." He grinned, almost mischievously, and leant in, taking her lips in a very light kiss. When he released her, however, her reaction was anything but what he'd expected. . .

"No way. . . !" Misty yelled, furiously slamming her fists repeatedly against her mattress, "You're not allowed to be more romantic than me, damnit! It's not fair! And it's not right, either, you weirdo! Where did you get that stupid idea from anyway. . . ?" She ended more softly, but still managing to stick her tongue out at him.

"Oh, well, actually. . . Brock isn't as useless as we thought. Not that I went to him for advice on this or anything, but. . ." Ash started, and it was finally his turn to blush red, ". . . well, so many years of having to watch him flirt uselessly with some girl; it was bound to rub off sometime. . ." Then he allowed himself all too confident a grin and continued his statement, "Then again, he's not nearly as good-looking as I am. . . !"

"Ash. . ." Misty said in so sweet a voice, he knew something demonic had truly come over her, "You are so. . . grounded." She cleared her throat, reached her feet, and began walking from the room so haughtily that Ash was left three steps behind her.

"Wha. . . ? Why?" He asked in a whine.

"Because. That handkerchief was really important and you went and lost it!" She yelled, but she was smiling, enjoying what she was doing to him.

"Awe, but. . . What if I lied? What if I still had it?" He asked hopefully, and she turned to face him, thoroughly interested now in where this conversation was going.

"Do you?"

He was silent for a moment, and seemed to be thinking of the best way to reply; finally he did, ". . . No. . ." He murmured under his breath, but she heard him, and strangely enough, this only made her grin widen.

"So grounded."


Notes - Huh; surprisingly, that wasn't what I expected when I started writing it. . . For the most part, it was right, but after Ash kissed Misty, I didn't know where to go with it, so. . .

Anyway, please, reviews! And no complaints about the fluff! I warned you all!

Gods, I had to get that out of my system. . . After focusing so much on the angsty-ness that Illicit Saints is starting to become and then reading all sorts of fluffy things, I had to do something good. . . And now I'll be spending the next four months ignoring everything in a stupor while I work up some idea's for some kawaii lil' AAML one-shots. . . Not that you'll mind of course. . .

Now. . . REVIEW, DAMNIT! All you have to do is press a button and type! Half of you do that anyway, since you're members here! Stop reading what I'm writing and start reviewing. . . !