My Emotional Execution

By Maia's Pen

AUTHORS NOTE: This story began as a challenge to myself. This piece of fan fiction is unlike anything that I have penned before. Like most of my stories it features the character, Gary Oak, but unlike my others it depicts him beneath a darker spotlight. A spotlight needed for me to truly explore all personality aspects of him. Why? Because I long to write Gary better. Therefore, readers, this is a story for Ash Ketchum (let's just say that I owe him a story. Those familiar with my other works will understand why). So, without further ado, I welcome you to my Pokeshipper -- a story about Ash and Misty.

Disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon -- I only own my imagination and a fondness for its characters.

Dedication: This story was written for CrystalRose727 – a genuine lover of Pokeshipping. Despite her preference, CrystalRose727 gave my Egoshipping stories a chance. She read with an open mind, supported my works, and actually enjoyed them. CrystalRose727: you have been reading my words since 2003, but more importantly you have been my cyber friend. Thank you.

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How do I feel right now? I feel like there is a noose hung limply around my throat. I feel like I am an innocent man at the gallows. I await the ropes to tighten, to crush my trachea, to hang me until I die. It is a feeling called dread. I wonder if the word dread can even do justice? Of course, I am not really at the gallows -- I'm in a beautiful ballroom sitting at an open bar. There are no ropes threatening to choke me -- only my own emotions. How do I feel? I feel too much. That is my problem. That has always been my fatal flaw. And now? Now I feel like there are dozens of small Caterpie's crawling around in my pants. I'm physically twitching. I'm squirming. I'm trembling in my seat. The very hand of god would fail to still me. I am far more than simply dreading this moment. I, Ash Ketchum, am terrified out of my mind.

I can't stand seeing her with him. Seeing them together . . . it causes the invisible noose to tighten. I almost wish that I could hang, for that would be a far kinder fate. I gag, but not on imaginary ropes. The whiskey I toss down my throat is burning. This has to be my third shot? No, fourth . . .? Fifth . . .? Ah hell, who's counting when they're free? I just wish the drinks could help. The alcohol might sting my throat but it does nothing to dull my misery. But still I drink; I can hold my whiskey pretty well. If I feel this much with the alcohol inside me, imagine how unbearable it would feel without it? Let's just say that the scorching flames of hell would be a vacation. I'm not just being dramatic either, that is how MUCH I feel.

I wish that I possessed the willpower to just walkway, to leave this place. But no, I'm not even strong enough to look away. My eyes refuse to leave her. She has unknowingly bewitched me again. I stand upon the gallows and she is the radiant sun – warming my condemned face a final time. But, she is also the executioner – forcing a dark hood over my head. She is my angel. She is my killer. Misty Waterflower is my angel of death. And . . . she is even more beautiful than I remember . . .

. . . but everything has changed now.

My thoughts are so damn repetitive, I'm sick of them. But I find myself momentarily distracted from them as my stomach starts to reel, to tighten. It feels like a Sneasel's claws grip my abdomen -- easily crushing my stomach as though it were a paper cup. Like I said before: I hold my whisky well. Only, in this instant, I'm hoping that I don't puke. That would really suck.

I ache down to my very core. Regret, agony, envy, and sorrow . . . these feelings stomp back and forth from my heart to my brain, leaving my insides a trail of emotional rubble. I really can't stand seeing her with him. Attending this gala tonight was a major mistake. What the hell made me to agree to attend this gala? I must be insane! . . . Well, since I'm imagining myself within a metaphorical hangman's noose some 'insanity' has already been established. At least I'm not too crazy to think I'm okay. I'm still sane enough to recognize that I'm thinking loopy thoughts. Confused? Me too. Ah, the ramblings of a nut-job.

I show the bar tender my empty shot glass and he promptly refills it. Good man. I tip him handsomely. He seems happy, lucky him.

Anyway . . . where was I? Oh yeah, my sanity: even if I have lost a tad of it, why am I putting myself through this? Even a nut-job isn't necessarily a fool.

As my eyes drink her image again I already know the answer to that question. I had to see her. Even if I don't talk to her, or even let her know that I'm here, I just had to see her.


The most beautiful girl in the world.

One of a kind.


I almost drop my shot glass. The alcohol is not my addiction, it's her. I'd never care to taste it again if I could taste her lips instead.

My breathtaking noose . . .

Misty descends the stairwell like a real fairytale princess. She has effortlessly commanded not only my eyes, but all eyes upon her. Even a blind man would gape in her direction. Within the ballroom her radiance dulls even the glistening chandeliers. In my eyes no girl could ever come close to her beauty. Never has, never will.

Misty almost seems to glide across the flooring; only the slight clicking of her heels upon the marble reminds me that she is real. I can hear my heart as it pummels against my chest. It sounds like Rapidash hooves along a hollow canyon; and it would probably hurt if I weren't so stunned. I can't breathe. I can't move. I am trembling. Hard. Like a klutz I drop my shot glass, it shatters. Two nearby partygoers chuckle, but luckily Misty is too far away to notice me at all. Embarrassed, I help one of the caterers pick up the shards of glass. I quickly order another shot of whisky. I need it right now. My cheeks burn along with my throat as I swallow. My eyes tear up and I'm honestly not sure if it is due to the potent drink or my heartache . . . but I'm leaning closer to the ladder. This is tearing me up inside. I don't understand. I thought that Misty was smarter than this!

Her ginger tendrils of hair sway gently over her shoulders . . . her lips perk into a shy smile. I smirk along with her, Misty is the loveliest girl in the room and still she is modest. I doubt that she even knows how incredible she looks. Her dress is amazing. It's a yellow gown, it sparkles and it fits her perfectly. The body is trim and very figure flattering, and the long layers of fabric cover her legs almost wholly; only when she takes a quick sidestep does the dress seem to reveal a teasing hint of skin. The top of the dress is far more . . . eye-catching. Gemstones are woven across the V-neck, which only draws more attention to her chest. The gentleman in me is insisting that I avert my eyes, but the shots of whisky are muting out the assertiveness in the gentleman's voice. Sighing (with very insincere sorrow), I allow my eyes the simple pleasure of scanning her figure. She's all laced up in that evening gown like a fine present and just waiting to be unwrapped. It kills me that she is his girl! That he sees her and touches her and kisses her. It's not fair. I can't take it. Why, Misty? How could you fall prey to him?

Now I notice the enormous diamonds dripping from her necklace, earrings, and bracelets. He has taken care to give her enough precious stones to decorate her entire body everywhere -- everywhere except her left ring finger. I scoff to myself, knowing full-well that that is one place on her body that Gary Oak will never place a diamond.

Misty's green eyes sparkle with excitement, she loves parties. She tightens her grip on her escorts arm. She seems incredibly proud to be here, on Oak's arm. It is painfully evident that she adores the playboy. My mother tells me that he has bought her everything she ever wanted –a new sports car, rare TM's; he even renovated the Cerulean Gym for her! These examples only begin the list of "Oak's generous wonders".

Oak is loaded. He's not generous. Who thinks twice before tossing pennies into a well?

I stare at my old rival, he probably seems like a dream man to Misty. Oak has what he's always had: charm, looks, intelligence, wealth; and he is highly respected in his research field. The best of the best. He knows it too, and that is what separates him from okay guy to cocky jerk. Right now Oak is dressed in a designer tuxedo -- it probably cost more than my automobile. He looks very slick -- all clothed in black and white with just a hint of blue from the flower pinned to his chest. The color of the flower looks as though it were expertly coordinated to match his eye shade . . . blah, it probably was. His wild spikes of hair have been combed into a controlled fashion. What's that saying? Oh yeah: "you look like a million bucks" well, that's Oak and it sucks.

Oak grins smugly as he exchanges handshakes and hugs with the enthusiastic crowd who has come to greet him. The party-goers kiss up to him; they thank him for gracing this gala with his almighty presence.


Oak seems very pleased to introduce Misty to each person who approaches -- except (I'm noticing) other attractive young women. I'm not surprised in the slightest.

By now I must be swinging at the gallows, the ballroom spins in a blitz of glittering lights. I force my eyes shut. I need a moment to steady myself . . . my emotions . . . I can't breakdown and humiliate myself here. Keep it together, Ketchum! C'mon! Why can't I cut myself free of this noose? Should I just let myself choke and hang? I could escape. Right now. I could! But I won't. I don't. Instead I open my eyes. I see her across the room. I'm still swinging alright, right to my death. I haven't seen Misty in almost a year. The last time I saw her was before I moved to the Indigo Plateau. That was when we said our goodbyes.

I am a member of the Elite Four now. I love it. I love every moment of everyday that I work there. I live to battle Pokemon. I live to win. And so far I am doing well for myself. In the eleven months since I've held the position, only one challenger has defeated me and gone on to challenge (and fail against) The Dragon Master.

I remember the last time I saw Misty; it was when she drove me to the train station. She had been awkwardly silent the entire ride over. When I began to say my goodbyes she. . . started to cry.

I have secretly loved Misty almost my entire life, and in that moment I knew, without words, that she felt the same way about me. I spent many nights wondering if she returned my feelings, and now in one instant I knew. But . . . I wasn't ready to voice my heart yet, not out loud; and I wasn't ready to hear her confession either. I was starting my dream career! I wasn't ready for a relationship! I panicked. . . I don't know why! Dammit! I couldn't tell her then. I just couldn't.

Through her tears Misty had asked me not to go to the Plateau -- she wanted me to stay in Cerulean City with her. She said that I was her best friend in the world . . . that I was so much more than that. But I foolishly did not allow her to elaborate. I cut her off. I cut her off rudely. I cut her off bluntly. Becoming the Pokemon Master was my dream - IT STILL IS - and I could not turn down an Elite Four position. Not even for her. Now when I've strived for this my whole life. And there was no way that Misty could abandon her family gym and come with me. Being together then . . . it just was not possible. I remember something else that happened in that moment: I realized that I truly did love Misty, but that I loved Pokemon more. But at this moment -- now, in the ballroom -- I realize that I do love Pokemon, but that I love Misty more. Not telling her how I felt then . . . it was more than just a mistake, beyond mere regret – it is THE mistake, THE regret of my life. I'm not only a nut-job, but a fool as well. I guess it took seeing her with him to realize it.

I found out about her relationship with Oak from a tabloid cover. A picture of them kissing made the front page. Misty never called me to tell me. In fact, I never spoke to her again after I saw the picture of them. I just stopped returning her calls, and eventually, she stopped calling all together . . . our friendship wilted away like a rare blossom, perhaps never to grow again. We haven't spoken in several months now and I miss her. But that tabloid cover . . . Oh! To say that I was 'mad' is an understatement -- I was blazing, fuming, infuriated when I saw it -- and I still am now! I thought she knew Oak's game. I thought she would never be suckered in by his phony charms. I thought I knew her better than this! I know what the end is fated to be: he'll use her until he's bored and then drop her when another hottie comes along. I have seen it over and over again. Oak can't help himself. He's never satisfied. Never happy. Never. Never. Never! Even now, with the worlds most wonderful girl in his life. . .

. . . I know he's already getting bored.

I watch Misty plant a playful kiss on Oak's cheek. How long does one need to hang before they die? Doesn't the neck snap or something? I should have picked a different metaphorical execution, a firing squad or something.

I turn away from them and slink backward into the mass of gathering of people. I don't want Misty to see me. I can't handle it. I can't take seeing her with him anymore.The hundred or so guests here are all dressed alike -- it's a very formal event. It's a fund raiser to benefit endangered species of Pokemon. All the men are dressed in pricey tuxedos and the women in classy ball gowns. The guest list is exclusive: celebrities, the independently wealthy, and those respected in the Pokemon field. Gary Oak meets all three of those criteria. Me? I'm somewhat famous, but I'm far from rich. People respect me for my skills in the Pokemon stadium. I like that.

I seat myself at another bar; this one is still in eyeshot of Misty, but a little farther back. I am enjoying a tasty shot of liquorish liquor. The alcohol is so black it looks like a tiny cup of ink. Despite its appearance, I like it. Sweet liquor is a bit easier to swallow than whisky. I glance to the side; Oak and Misty are the center of attention. They are the "hottest celebrity couple" or some crap like that. People love gossip. Makes me sick.

Misty delights the crowd with ease, graciously making small-talk with everyone. Oak already looks bored. Usually his grandfather would have represented the Oak family at this event . . . but since the Professor's passing Oak has had to step-up the public appearances. Professor Oak's death stings me still. I never even went to the funeral. I couldn't. He only died three weeks ago and it's still too raw. Oak seems okay. I'm sure that he's not, but he's always been a master at hiding his feelings. That's just another reason why his relationship with Misty makes me sick. I can't stand seeing them together, yet, I can't pry my eyes from them.

Can't Misty see right through him? She's not an idiot. Has "love" truly blinded her so much? I can see it. Right now. Right in front of her: Oak enfolds a gorgeous young blond in a hug. It is meant to look like a casual greeting, but the way his hand gently strokes her lower back . . . confidently . . . familiarly . . . he's touched this blond before --and judging by the blush staining her face, it was recent. Misty sees the young woman blush, she sees Oak's hands; her eyes dim slightly and she looks away. Misty forces a smile as Lance the Dragon Master swings by to chat.

She turned a blind eye. Misty. . .? Why. . .? It's not like her. Oak's eyes wander over the cleavage of every woman he encounters. It's blatant. Why the hell is Misty ignoring this? Is it his money? His fame? His looks? He can't be that good in bed. . .

Damn him. She's hurt. She's confused. She's hiding it from everyone, but not from me. Even from across the room I can see it now. I see her previous joy fading. But her fake smile is well worn, well practiced. So, she is use to Oak after all. She does know his game, and yet, she's choosing to let him play with her. It does not make any sense.

I know he's unfaithful to her. He doesn't deserve her. She's just another beauty that he can fasten to his arm, a temporary trophy, a new thrill in the bedroom. It won't last. Gary Oak is too easily bored and too afraid to love. I've seen it before dozens of times. Oak has had so many women; their pretty faces have become a blur of tabloids in my minds eye. He will love them, spoil them, but in the end he always drops them like a scalding Charizard egg. I don't doubt that Oak is fond of Misty --he's been dating her for several months. But he does NOT appreciate how special she is. It's just not fair. It's not fair to any of us. Not Misty, not Oak, and NOT ME!

Oak's eyes continue to stray; he seems very thorough in his breast and ass observations. I wonder if he studies Pokemon with such meticulous fervor? If his researching career fails I bet he'd make a dynamo gynecologist. His eyes move from woman to woman with bounce to rival a Jigglypuff. My eyes hurt just trying to keep up. Finally Oak's sight becomes fixed, this time upon the backside of the governor's daughter. The girl is attractive for sure, but young, probably no older than eighteen. Oak is twenty-five, but I'm certain that her youth will not deter him.

It's sad really. A part of me hates Gary Oak and another part pities him. He has Misty -- an amazing girl who adores him, and yet he can't appreciate her. He can't love her. I think that he won't allow himself to even try. You could say he has "issues". I've known him long enough to know what's up -- that he's afraid to become emotionally attached. I'm sure it has something to do with his parents dying when he was young. He also has a terrible relationship with his only sister; and, now that the professor is gone he's bound to get even worse. Like I said: "issues". But is that an excuse to be a playboy and break Misty's heart?

Hell no.

My pity for Oak is replaced by disgust. I've lost people too and I have my own share of emotional problems (clearly), but I'm not purposely trying to hurt anyone. I don't get him and I don't care to. Solving the enigma of Gary Oak is a waste of time. I don't know why Misty bothered to try. Maybe, on some level, she pities him too? Maybe she thought she could help him? She has a big heart. And, judging by the look on her face, it's a big breaking heart. Misty's spoiling her time and her love on him. He will never return her feelings. A part of her must know now that it's just a matter of time before she fails to thrill him. Soon he'll leave her for another beautiful girl. A new girl to ensure his face always makes the front page of the gossip magazines.

A group of men blatantly eye Misty as she and Oak stride by. Oak sees them ogle his date and grins. Rage boils within me -- I could almost spit flames. He likes having what other men want. I think he gets off on it. Bastard. I'm glad we are no longer friends. Now that the professor is gone we have nothing in common. After tonight I don't care to ever see him again.

Oak now quickly excuses himself from Misty's company. He does this so smoothly, flashing his trademark perfect grin. He begins chatting up the governor's young daughter; the girl flirtatiously twirls her long ebony curls. Oak reaches forward and tugs on one. The girl lays a hand on his shoulder, they lean in closer, whispering. The confident grin never fades from his lips, and the girl seems completely entranced by him. I can only imagine what he's saying to her. Something tells him it has nothing to do with his Pokemon research.

Misty is still engaged in a conversation with Lance. I see her steal short glances toward Oak and his new friend. She pretends not to notice how cozy they seem. She pretends to be only interested in what Lance is saying. Once again, nobody can see how divided her attention is. No one that is, but me. She forces an empty smile for Lance and nods along to what he is saying. Two meters away Oak's fingers find interest upon the governor's daughters back. Perhaps he is sizing up his new specimen? Taking note of her texture and aroma? Oak's hand looks very comfortable on her hip, the girl blushes. She is clearly flattered by his attention. Misty watches. Oak's fingers graze the girl's backside. Misty watches. Oak smirks, the girl is purring in his ear. Misty just watches.

Either that noose has finally killed me or the damn rope has snapped – either way I have finally reached my breaking point! I can't bear to watch Misty suffer silently anymore. I'm helpless to do anything. I'm wasting my time here. I'm leaving.

I'm leaving!


I shoot up from my bar stool with great vigor! Instead of feeling empowered, I feel like I've just dismounted a crazy theme park ride. I practically stumble upon the marble flooring. The room tilts as I stand; my legs feel like a pair of pipe cleaners – bending in directions that relay to all: "Hello! I'm hammered!"

Crap. Stupid-ass-bendy-legs.

Fortunately no one says anything. Little attention is drawn to me. I'm not the only drunk in the crowd. I doubt Misty noticed me at all.

Although my body is an advertisement for intoxication, I'm thankful that my mind is still operating with some rational. I realize that I'm in no condition to drive. I decide to go stand outside on the balcony. It's chilly there, but it beats being in the ballroom. The frosty air will be a welcomed break; it may even sober my body up.

My feet are clumsy and heavy like I'm walking through cement. Somehow I manage to trek the twenty paces to the balcony. The sky is blacker than the liquorish liquor I shot. However an array of stars offer just enough light to keep me from stepping on my own toes. Thankfully no one is out here it to witness what a train-wreck I've become. It's far too cold out for these upscale partiers. I lean over the balcony, glancing down at the parking lot below. Every automobile is either a limousine or a hotrod. I have a decent sports car myself, I wont deny it, but I bought mine used. I haven't been with the Elite Four long enough to build up a fortune from battling.

I inhale, shivering. The cold air hits my lungs with chilling intensity. It feels strangely good however. I'm drunk and I'm lonely. But the cold still feels good. It feels good because it's not the feeling of heartache. It's not dread. It's not a suffocating noose. It's just . . . cold. Numbing cold. I want to be numb. Good and numb, like how your mouth feels when you bite into an Ice Cream Sunday. Wow, what a weird thing to think about. I really am wasted.

I cling to the balcony until my knuckles ache. I have no idea how much I drank, nut-job fool that I am. I'm glad that I stopped drinking when I did; I think I'm one shot away from puking my guts out. Ew. . . gross expression. I'd much rather be hung than puke my guts out any day.

I'm usually not much of a drinker. It's just been lately, the last few weeks, basically since I've been counting the days until this gala. Counting down the days until my heart swings from the gallows. My emotional execution.


I knew they would be here.

I knew that it would kill me to see them.

But I came anyway.

I hung. I swung. I hung my heart . . .

. . .Wait? What's that?

While peering down at the parking lot I see someone. . . Ha! I'm not surprised. There goes Oak: waltzing over to his brand new sports car with a girl on his arm. Only, the girl is not Misty -- it's the governor's daughter. I scoff loudly. Oak appears to be showing off his new auto. I'm guessing it isn't long before he offers her a ride -- and I'm not referring to the car.

I know that this would be the ideal romantic movie moment to go back inside and find Misty. To pull her into my arms. To declare my undying love. To tell her that I can't live without her. To unveil Oak as the player that he is. I could even burst into song while doing it. You know: the classic ending scene in the cliché romance. But, it's already been established that I'm a drunken nut-job of a fool. But what I also am is a prideful coward. I can't bear to face her after everything. After she asked me to stay, after she cried, after I left anyway. Eleven months ago seems like eleven seconds. I can't face her. I can't understand her. She knows what Oak's game is, I KNOW that she must! And yet she CHOOSES to stay with him. I don't get that. I can't stand that. I love her. I'm mad at her. But I love her more than-

"Ash . . .?"

Like a pebble hurled by a Dragonite my mind suddenly flails out of control! I feel as though I'm physically flinging through the sky of liquor and stars. My breath is seized from my lungs; my heartbeat is booming-- damn, I'll go deaf from it! I'm –I'm-I'm . . .

I'm panicking!

"Ash?" her voice is so sweet . . . so caring . . . concerned. I force myself to listen to her, to focus on her voice. "Ash?" like a balmy breeze her tone eases my mind downward, grounding me once again inside my body. I stiffen, feeling suddenly quite sober. What is Misty doing on the balcony? Did she see my drunken stagger in the ballroom after all? Or, more likely, she probably came out here for the same reason I did: space and air. I squeeze my eyelids shut. I can't turn to face her.

"What are you doing out here, Ash? It's freezing."

"Avoiding you." Oops! I meant to only think that. I guess I'm not sobered up yet.

"What?" she sounds instantly wounded. ". . . why?"

I turn to her now because I must. She stands within the balcony doorway, the light from inside frames her body completely. Misty is silhouette of beauty; an apparition . . . a real angel. I wonder if she dares to step out of the light to join me in the dark? As though reading my thoughts, Misty takes a tentative step forward; she's swallowed wholly by the dark night. I match her footwork, cautiously closing the distance between us. Her expression is blank. Misty is clearly conflicted; I know that she is pleased to see me, but my thoughtless words have stung her. She stands within arms reach of me. Her eyes scan me like emerald lasers. I feel vulnerable beneath her stare; Misty doesn't need perfect lighting to read me. If illness ever claims my voice I'll be fine, Misty has always known how to speak for me.

I inhale deeply, sucking the air as though it contains secret molecules of courage. Finally, I meet her eyes. "Misty," it is impossible to say her name without smiling. Her name is like delicious syrup upon my lips. "I'm sorry. I-I, didn't mean-"

"Ash Ketchum, you are grinning like an idiot. Are you drunk?!" She folds her arms across her chest, huffing. Her tone is no longer endearing, but rather like a scolding school teacher.

"No," I mumble, averting her stare. Damn, she knows! I feel my cheeks burn. Misty frowns. I hate to see her frown. "Fine. I am drunk. Just a bit though." I'm still smiling clumsily. I can feel it in my cheeks. My anger, my hurt . . . her presence dulls my pain like the whiskey never could.

Misty shakes her head, but I notice the smile tugging at her lips. Like sunshine after a blizzard does her smile warm me; but the comfort is fleeting, a cloud of sorrow now darkens her face. I shiver again. I miss my sunshine.

"Why are you avoiding me, Ash? It's been so long. Don't you want to see me?" Leave it to Misty: skip the small talk and cut straight to the point.

I study Misty's face and I realize that she is as exhausted as she sounds. Her eyes are red rimmed and dark circles taint the skin below her eyes. I reach my hand out to her; my fingers are just centimeters from her cheek. I long to feel her skin but I hold back, instead grazing her with my sight alone. "Of course I want to see you, Misty. I've missed you. I just didn't want to see you-"

"With Gary?" Misty severs my words, finishing my sentence for me. She knows me so well.

Misty leans forward, grabbing my hand and pressing it to her cheek. My senses are instantly set ablaze! My skin is burning for her, to grab her, to hold her as close as I possibly can . . . to melt together. I'm kerosene and she's the match. I'll bet we'd make one hell of a bonfire.

Misty's skin feels like the petals of a water lily. So soft . . . I feel that I almost could melt into her now. My sight sweeps across her face and focuses upon her lips, they are so inviting. I wonder if they could be as soft?

"Answer me, Ash?" she presses, yanking me from my intimate thoughts.

Delayed, I nod to confirm her words. But I don't think my delay is due to whisky. I don't even remember what the whisky feels like inside me anymore. "Yes, with Gary."

"Well, he's not here now," Misty states; there is no bite in her words. She speaks very matter-of-factly. She must have expected Oak to disappear with another girl at some point tonight. A stranger might think that Misty is unphased by Oak's unfaithfulness. But I know better, I know that deep down she is hurting.

"Why do you put up with him?" there is, however, bite in mine. "You deserve better. You know that, right?" Her answers are worth sticking my neck back in the noose.

Misty casts her sight downward. "I know," her voice trembles. "I do love Gary. But I've never been inlove with him, Ash. I guess . . . in the beginning . . . he was wonderful. He really was amazing to me, in fact . . . Gary reminded me of you. And if I couldn't have you, then Gary was the next best thing."

She meets my eyes now; hers are like probing searchlights, scouring mine for any reaction. My mouth drops open, my eyes widen, and I gulp embarrassingly loud. That was not the answer I expected. "Misty?" Her name -- how I love to say it -- is the only word I can muster.

She continues quickly, realizing that elaboration is in order: "When he's not in the spotlight, Gary is very much like you. Thoughtful. Devoted to his Pokemon. Focused on his career. Funny. Loving. Doting. He use to look at me with the same fondness you do now. But Gary wasn't you then, and he certainly isn't you now. I planned to leave him, but when the professor died, oh Ash, I couldn't. I stupidly thought that he needed me. . . but I can't deal with him anymore. Tonight was the last straw for me. He left with that girl. . ." Misty's lower lip trembles, but she does not allow one building tear to break free. She's become a pro at holding her emotions back. I want to break Oak's face for making her this way.

"I know, I saw him in the parking lot with her. I think they left the gala all together," my words are not intended to cause her more grief. But why should I keep that information from her? She deserves to know.

Misty only nods; she's unsurprised by my words. I wonder how many times Oak has done this to her? "I'm done with Gary and I'm done talking about him," she swallows hard, holding her head suddenly very high. "I have something to tell you, Ash. And I want you to keep your drunken lips sealed and just listen to me, okay?"

I shake my head, highly curious. I know the grin is long gone from my face.

"I know why you had to go to the Indigo Plateau, Ash. It was wrong of me to want you to stay in Cerulean City with me. I had no right to ask you to. I was afraid that if you left you would meet another girl and forget me. You're handsome, you're funny, you're kind . . . what was to stop some girl from snatching you up? I wanted to stay with you, but, because of the gym I couldn't go with you then. I was angry with you for choosing Pokemon over me. I realize how selfish that was now. After all, since we were children I've known where your passion lies: in Pokemon. And that is one of the reasons WHY I love you so much. I don't want to change you. I want you to be who you are. To go for your dreams. I just want to BE with you. I need you, Ash." Her words have tumbled from her lips like rolling stones -- uncontrollable, but toward the target they were destined to hit: my heart.

I see doubt flicker in her eyes. She is wondering if she's said too much. She might as well have struck me with a real rock, I'm awestruck! Oh my god! What do I say? This is it! This is MY moment! Misty is here! She loves me! C'mon, Ketchum, get a grip. I need to energize my lips enough to respond – and now! If this is a dream let me die in my sleep. "Misty," here goes nothing. "I want to be with you too. It's all I've ever wanted. I'm serious about being with you. Now. Tonight and always. We can work this out. Maybe I can work at the Plateau part-time? Maybe I can battle just a few days a week? Be in Cerulean on weekends? That way you won't have to travel and you don't have to give up the gym and-"

"Ash, haven't you heard?" she presses a tender finger to my lips, hindering my words. "My sisters are back home. When they heard about the pricy renovations Gary added to the gym, well, they left their world tour and rushed back at once. They LOVE it. They gym is huge and has a built-in day spa. My sisters don't even want to leave it again. I haven't acted as gym leader for weeks. I've been living with Gary. I'm not even working at the gym anymore. I'm . . . free."

"Why didn't you call me and tell me? I would have picked you up myself!"

"Because, we stopped talking, Ash! You haven't spoken a word to me in months. Plus, I was with Gary -- I wasn't free then. And I thought you didn't want me."

"I know. I'm sorry. I shut you out when I saw that tabloid cover. I was . . . jealous," I spit the word as if it were salt water. "Misty, I was a fool to leave like I did. I was an idiot to cut you out. I've always wanted you. I've been miserable without you." I take her hands in mine, allowing my fingers to stroke her tiny knuckles. She stares at me with an affection I have never felt before . . . Misty is no longer masking her feelings for me; she's allowing love to dance naked upon her face. It's raw. It's beautiful. "Misty, I have loved you since I was a kid and I still I love you now."

A smile beams upon her lips -- but it is no ordinary smile. Had I given her a Dragonair she would have smiled. Had I given her the very ocean she would have smiled. But, in this moment, I gave her my heart. The grin which lights her face is wrought from the purest happiness. I will never possess the words to describe how stunning she looks right now. Her smile will never be repeated and it will never be rivaled. But I am okay with this, because, I know this smile was created just for me.

"Oh, Ash," Misty closes the space between us, her hands looping around my neck, but not to choke me, to love me. "I've been waiting to hear you say that."

Nothing separates us now. As our lips connect my world begins to whirl and spin and spiral with bliss! I'm like a twirling Skiploom in the air! I am so carefree, and yet I care so much for the girl in my arms. As my senses dance I know that this feeling has nothing to do with the alcohol. I am intoxicated wholly by my girl's lips. Together our mouths divulge into a sinfully wonderful tango. I am going to kiss her until I no longer can. Until my jaw aches. Until she takes the last bit of air from my lungs! If this were to be my final breath, then, let it be known that Ash Ketchum died the world's happiest man! Am I a sappy romantic? Damn right I am! And for Misty I'll shout it to the stars.

At long last our lips slide apart; hers press against my cheek. Misty is panting, but I can feel her smile upon my skin. I wrap my arms around her, playfully wiggling my nose alongside hers. Misty giggles. Her laugh is so genuine and so beautiful that it nearly brings tears to my eyes. I know that she has not laughed like this in a long time. From this moment on I vow to make her laugh like this every single day.

Misty is no longer Oak's trophy. Perhaps Oak won't even care that she's leaving him? Perhaps her leaving may make him worse? But, there is a chance that it also might make him better. Oak is the one who loves them and leaves them. Having the tables turned might be his much needed wake-up call. I wish no ill-will on Oak. My opinion of him is low, but I'd never want to see him truly suffer. I hope that one day Oak will love a girl the way I love Misty. There has to be a girl out there who can charm him; who can change him. But that girl is not my girl. She's not Misty. She is in my arms now and I do not intend to let her go again. When I go back to the Plateau tomorrow I am bringing her with me.

Misty's lips find my ear: "I love you, Ash." Our heartaches melt away like icebergs, only the hot spring of our passion boils on.

"I love you too." I mean every word.

Misty and I have a lot to talk about. We have many plans to make. It's not all going to be easy. But we are going to make it work. We are together at last and I'll walk through hell before I let her go again. I've already braved the flames, and for her I would do it again. Tonight is a night that I have dreaded, that I have loathed. I was barely able to endure this night but a short time ago; and now the nightmare has become a romance movie dream. Only . . . it's real. This is not the hallucination of a drunk. Or a nut-job. Or a fool.

Tonight was my emotional execution. Sometimes you have to suffer and die before you can experience heaven.

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AUTHORS NOTE: Well, there it is. I hope this story was enjoyed. It is my first real Pokeshipper (Ash X Misty pairing). As I said at the start: this story was a challenge I set for myself. I have spent DAYS working on this and feedback would be appreciated. I will gladly respond to all comments.

Thank you, Maia's Pen.