- Beyond My Hopes -

A Pokemon Fanfiction by Kayley Laskitt (savetheempire@optusnet.com.au)

Disclaimer: I don't own Pokemon. I understand this comes as quite a shock as I am not in the entertainment industry, not residing in Japan and haven't even finished high school yet.
Author's Notes: This is not my first fanfic, though it is the first Pokemon fanfic I've posted. I don't take well to flames, and I don't want to hear any bitching from anyone who isn't an egoshipper. Both the summary and this note warns you. If you don't like it, don't read it.
In this fanfic, you should probably pretend that Pallet is not a nowheresville town. The characters are also older, though that should be fairly obvious.
Comments and constructive criticism welcome.

**
Chapter One: Avoid The Lightning

Paranoia runs in my family. My father left us five days before my sixth birthday for a prime room at the Indigo Mercy Hospital Psych Ward because he was paranoid delusional. And before he'd left, my family had always said that I was just like my father. "Look at little Misty," they would say. "There's so much Anthony in her."
Given the history of paranoia in my family, I know that I am being very, very paranoid right now. Just because I'm sitting at a table for two by myself doesn't mean everyone in Pallet is staring at me.
"Well, well. If it isn't Popularity Barbie and all her friends."
There's only one guy in the entire world who calls me Barbie, one guy who manages to make me seething mad just with the level of condescension in his voice and one guy who would actually have the audacity to go out of his way to say something like that to me.
I make sure I don't look pissed off when I raise my head. Sure enough, there he is, looking so smug I would love to whack him across the face. I would do it too, if all those people weren't watching. "That is so clever," I say. "I swear, you get smarter the bigger your head gets."
Swish. And she shoots, she scores.
Gary, to his credit, doesn't look taken aback for more than a second. "And you get smarter the bigger your mouth gets," he replies.
If I didn't know any better, I would swear he's been digging up the dirt on me to better his insults. My sisters always used to tell me I had a big mouth.
Whether that is true or not is hardly the point.
I lean back in my chair and sigh wearily. "Are you here for the sole purpose of tormenting me?" I demand, straight to the point.
Gary sticks his hands into the pockets of his jeans, which are bordering on being obnoxiously big. What is he planning to do, house a family of five in them? "Actually, I wanted to see if you wanted some company," he informs me.
I ponder this statement thoughtfully, tapping my chin. "Hmm . . . " I begin. "It was a good line, but it lacked emotion. I'll give you an 8.9."
This time Gary is taken aback for more than a second. But instead of turning and walking away like I thought, he smiles. "I'm serious."
He's serious? Come on, get real. I eye him doubtfully. "Why?"
He lifts his broad shoulders in what is supposed to be a slight shrug. Guess he's too cool to lift them all the way or something. "Because I was here with May, but we got into a fight and she went home to go whine to my grandfather. And I saw you, and you looked bored and I know that I'm bored so I thought maybe we could be bored together."
I don't know Gary all that well, but I have a talent for being able to tell when people are lying, and I'm fairly certain Gary isn't.
I sigh. "Okay. Sit down."
He pulls out the chair opposite me and sits, each movement liquid and deliberate. He possesses a strange kind of grace. He reminds me of Brock's sister, Tamara, who's at the Indigo College of the Arts for ballet and jazz.
"So, that was easier than I anticipated," he says, casually resting his forearms on the table.
I shrug, trying to mimic his to-cool-to-shrug-normally thing. "People were starting to stare," I respond, stirring my ice tea so the ice cubes hit the glass melodically.
Gary lifts an eyebrow ever so slightly. "You don't strike me as the kind of girl who cares if people stare or not."
"I'm not," I admit, kind of surprised that Gary was able to pick that up. "I couldn't care less, to be honest." I pause reflectively. "Ash kind of has a problem with that."
Gary opens his mouth like he's about to say something, then closes it on second thought. I guess he was going to say something less than flattering about Ash. "So what's going on with you and Ash?" he asks, trying to sound as though he isn't curious even though I can tell he is.
I rest my elbows on the table, cradling my chin in my hands. It's so against the table etiquette drummed into me as a kid, but I'm in a coffeehouse, not a restaurant. "We broke up," I say simply.
Gary nods, then picks up a packet of sugar, shaking it from side to side. "Yeah, I heard that. Pallet grapevine," he adds, as an explanation. "Why?"
God, the guy doesn't give up, does he? Seriously, though, we've spoken like three times in the entire time we've known each other and he thinks he can ask me questions like that and expect me to actually answer them?
"We got into a fight," I explain. "I told him I wasn't going to come second to an electric yellow rodent, he told me to get over it, I told him to go to Kentucky because they might let him marry Pikachu over there, he called me a skank . . . the sparks really flew."
Gary whistles, and sinks back in his chair. "That bad, huh?"
I blink. "Oh, no, I actually mean that about the sparks. Pikachu got really pissed off."
Gary stares at me blankly for a brief second before chuckling.
I grin. "Anyway," I continue. "We calmed down and talked it over. Realised the dating thing wasn't working. And then we decided to still be friends." I sigh quietly at that statement, and brush some sugar off the table.
Gary eyes me sympathetically. "Easier said than done?"
I nod, relieved that he knows exactly what I mean. "Yeah, it's hard. There's still a lot of tension, a lot of resentment, you know what I mean?" I push my long hair back off my shoulders before going on. "We came here tonight, but we got into an argument. That's why I was alone."
Gary nods slowly, thoughtfully. "Sounds like you guys need some space."
Could it be? Gary Oak offering sarcasm-free words of wisdom?
I smile ironically at his advice. "Yeah, that's gonna happen. The thing where I live next door to him shouldn't get in the way of that at all."
Gary's smooth forehead furrows with confusion; he tilts his head slightly. "I thought that the Baker's lived next door."
Again I smile, less amused this time. "They do. I mean next door as in down the hall."
Gary gapes at me. "You mean you're still living at the Ketchum's?"
I nod miserably; Gary slaps the table surface and chuckles. "Christ, Misty," he manages between laughter. "You sure don't make things easy for yourself, do you?"
I let out a wordless wail and put my head on the table. I can feel little granules of sugar sticking into my forehead. "What else am I supposed to do?" I ask, turning my head so I can look up at Gary.
Gary grins, looking way too amused at the fact that my life is crumbling all around me. "I don't know what to do for your current living situation," he begins, laughing a little. "But I do know what you need right now. You need me to shout you an obscenely large ice-cream."
I sit up, brush the sugar from my face and smile a lopsided smile. "Well, if you're offering . . . " I start, pushing back my chair slightly.
Gary stands and offers me his hand. "Let's go."

I'm nineteen years old. Can you believe that? Nineteen. And in those nineteen years, I've done many, many things.
Pursuing a girl is not one of them.
I'm hardly sheltered. I've pretty much been there and done that in all respects. It's just that I've never needed to pursue a girl. They all just come to me.
It's the Oak curse. May has the same problem. With guys, I mean. Okay, and that one girl that one time. But that's beside the point.
But Misty . . . well, she's different. Christ, I sound like a fricking Hallmark card, but she is. Ever since we went to the Ketchum's for Christmas and Misty told me to go to the mall and attempt to buy a life, I've wanted her. She's so unafraid of everything. I love the way she tells it like it is and doesn't give a damn about the repercussions.
The fact that she's absolutely stunning doesn't hurt, either.
My car is parked right outside the coffeehouse, and I hit the unlock button on my key. I open the passenger side door and gesture for Misty to get in.
She throws me a wide-eyed, quizzical look. "Why are we getting in your car?" she asks, running her finger over the paint and trying to look as though she isn't completely smitten by my baby.
I grin enigmatically, resting an arm on the open door. "I told you. To get ice-cream."
Misty frowns, looking thoughtful. "But there's a place just on the next block . . . "
Gently, I usher her into the car, my hand in the small of her back. She looks up at me from the seat, looking perplexed. I brace my arm on the roof of the car and bend down to look at her. "I think right now you don't just need ice-cream. You need the best ice-cream there is." Leaving it off at that, I shut her door and walk around to the other side of the car and get in. I start the ignition, and my baby purrs like a kitten. I pat the dashboard.
Misty is looking at me, eyes narrowed suspiciously. "So what does that mean?"
"It means," I say, looking behind me and backing out of the space. "That I remember you telling Ash that this place down on Cerulean Beach has the best ice-cream around."
A yellow Lexus lets me in; I offer a wave of recognition and pull out into the traffic.
"Wait a second," Misty says, holding her hands up. "You're not driving all the way to Cerulean Beach for ice-cream."
I throw her a brazen grin and flick my left blinker on. "Why not?"
For what I am sure is the first time in her life, Misty is speechless. It takes her the entire time it takes to get from Main Street to the freeway before she recovers.
"You're insane," she tells me.
I laugh. "Sometimes." I lean over and flick on the stereo. "Driving music," I explain, hitting the CD button and trying to recall what I'd left in there last. Nothing embarrassing, I hope.
A You Am I track starts pounding through the speakers, and Misty looks mildly surprised. "You like You Am I?" she asks, not bothering to conceal her surprise.
Points to her for recognizing the track that fast. "Yeah, I like You Am I," I respond casually. "Why? What did you think I liked?"
She shrugs, looks a little embarrassed. "I don't know. Dance party USA, teenybopper kind of stuff." She throws me a sideways look, like she's trying to gauge whether she's offended me or not. From the look on her face, she's kind of hoping she has.
She loves messing with me, this girl.
I let it slide, just to piss her off. "Funny. That's what I kind of thought of you."
"You're kidding me," she says, eyebrow quirked.
I overtake a jellybean car. "Hey, Barbie music for a Barbie girl," I say, as if it makes perfect sense.
"Barbie girl," she mutters under her breath, clearly not impressed. "What is up with that nickname anyway?"
I laugh, amused by her annoyance. "Come on. You're always so perfectly dressed and made up, in your little skirts and your little heels and your little purses that can't possibly hold enough to be of any use. Besides," I say, with a smirk. "I've met your sisters. You four are like a Barbie patrol."
"My skirts are not little," she protests, smoothing the fabric of her gray skirt over her thighs. "And I don't dress like this all the time. Most of the time at home, I wear jeans and stuff." She pauses. "Though your assessment on my sisters is on the mark."
I laugh, but the fact that she refers to Ash's place as 'home' doesn't escape me. Drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, I glance at her. "So how's Delia handling her son's ex-girlfriend living in her house?" I ask nonchalantly.
Misty crosses her legs, suddenly looking all self-conscious over her skirt. "She's been great," she says. "Really, I love Delia. I was thinking of marrying Ash so I could just score Delia as a mother in law," she continues with a musical laugh.
"Yeah, she's pretty great," I agree.
Misty pulls her long hair over her shoulders. "Well, you kind of have to say that, don't you?" she states bluntly. "I mean, she's probably going to end up as your, like, grandmother soon."
"Oh, hell," I mutter, speeding up a little. "Don't you start," I add, recalling the way May has been going on and on about my grandfather and Ash's mom and how she thinks a spring wedding would be really pretty and four bridesmaids in different colors to represent the seasons would be just so beautiful.
Misty angles her head, allowing a lock of red-gold hair to fall across her forehead. "You not happy about that?"
Well, she gets straight to the point, you can say that for her.
"It's not like I'm not happy about my grandfather finding someone," I say, choosing my words carefully. "But for God's sake, Delia? Ash's mom? And hello, are we forgetting the age difference?"
I can see Misty unconsciously tapping her fingers against her leg to the beat of the song. It's kind of distracting. "Twenty years," she says with a shrug.
I snort. "Twenty years. Right. Remind me to tell my grandfather you think he's that young. He'll be thrilled."
Misty twists in her seat to look at me, her perfectly shaped eyebrows drawing together slightly. "I know how old the Professor is. He's 57. I was at his last birthday, remember?"
Yeah, I do remember. I remember she wore that really pretty dress, shimmery pale green. I remember the way Ash and Misty had been so sickening I'd sat outside with May and polished off a whole bottle of Scotch with her. One thing I can say for my sister - she can hold her liquor with the best of them. Hell, she could probably drink me right under the table.
"So, okay. How old do you think Delia is?" I ask Misty, not forgetting that the math isn't quite working over here.
Misty's frowning, her brow all furrowed. It's cute. "She's 37," she says, and I can't help laughing.
"37," I echo, trying to keep a straight face. "Right."
"She is!" Misty insists indignantly. "She told me so herself!"
I pat Misty's knee condescendingly. "Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, Misty, but she lied to you."
Misty looks like she'd love to stick her tongue out at me. "Oh, wise one," she says, equally sarcastic. "Enlighten me. How old is Delia?"
"She's 32," I say bluntly. No point in beating around the bush, I suppose. I spy a road sign up ahead; if memory serves, it should be the Cerulean exit.
"32!" Misty exclaims. "But that means she would have been like . . . sixteen when she had Ash!"
I put my left blinker on as we approach the Cerulean exit. "Why do you think she lied?" I ask rhetorically. "Pallet's a small town, you know. It loves a scandal."
Misty falls silent and she slumps in her chair, like she can't believe Delia would lie to her. I feel a small twinge of regret for telling Misty so tactlessly.
We drive silently for a few seconds, but Misty sits up suddenly, eyes wide. "Oh, wow!" she cries, looking out her window. "I can't believe we're here already!"
I look out the window. As far as I can tell, we're not anywhere.
"Pull over," she instructs. I do. She unbuckles her seat belt and turns to face me, a very cute, very cryptic smile on her face. "You want to see where history was made?" I nod. She throws open her door. "Well, let's go."

I can tell Gary is apprehensive as I drag him through sections of the woods that border Cerulean City. He doesn't have to be - I know these woods like I know the back of my hand, but I don't share that with Gary. Let him wonder.
"So where are we going?" Gary asks, trudging through the scrub, sounding downright miserable. I guess he's not an outdoors kind of guy.
"I told you," I say, handling the walk through the woods better than Gary, which is kind of funny when you consider the fact that he's wearing sneakers and I'm wearing kitten heels. "A place where history was made."
"Great," Gary mutters, tripping slightly. "What is it, the home of Cerulean City's oldest living Lutheran or something?"
I laugh merrily, and jump over a log. "You're such a geek."
Gary follows suit, jumping over the log. He lands lightly, effortlessly. There's that grace again.
"Did you ever take ballet lessons by any chance?" I ask, curiously.
He blinks. He stares. He scratches at the back of his head. "What?"
I wave a dismissive hand. "Never mind." I grab his wrist and pull him through a small section of trees. I can hear the gentle rush of water and I smile. We make it out of the cluster of trees to a small clearing bordering a river.
Gary brushes a dry leaf off of his sweater and eyes the river doubtfully. "What, did your ancestors sail in here and proclaim to start a gym slash synchronized swimming extravaganza?"
I roll my eyes and ignore the slightly veiled insult. "No." I spread my arms grandly. "This is where I first met Ash."
Gary's expression of a guy indulging someone's whim turns to one of undisguised interest. He takes in our surroundings, the trees, the water, the serenity. It's beautiful here.
"Wow," he says finally. "How . . . remote."
I smirk, but he doesn't see it. He's so not an outdoorsy kind of guy. He's so not Ash, who always looks like he's ready to scale a mountain.
Gary walks forward a little, leans forward to peer at the water that's bubbling by. "So, how'd he end up out here anyway?" he asks, squatting to run a hand through the water. "Was he lost?"
I smile at the memory and walk to stand beside Gary. I look out at the water. It's kind of strange how this place hasn't changed at all in six years. "Uh, kind of," I respond. "I fished him and Pikachu out of the river if that counts."
Gary looks surprised. He stands up, brushes his hands on his pants and grins. "So what happened next? Did he thank you profusely and vow to repay you? Was it like some love at first sight thing?"
Gary looks so earnest, not a trace of his usual sarcasm that I laugh. "Hell no," I say, shifting my weight slightly. "He stole my bike, trashed it and I stalked him to get him to buy me a new one." I grin. "I could have smacked his face in for that."
Gary folds his arms over his gray sweater that looks almost black in this light. "So then what? Did he give you a new bike with his heart on the handlebars?"
I eye him oddly. "You have some pretty screwed up ideas about mine and Ash's history."
Gary lifts his shoulders and attempts to laugh it off. "Hey, what can I say?"
I angle my head, not taking my eyes off his. "I don't know - what can you say?"
He looks as though he's considering trying to crack a joke, but sighs instead. "I've thought a lot about it. Overactive imagination."
I move closer, just slightly. "Why?"
Gary sighs, lets his head fall back so he has a clear view of the sky. "Promise you won't laugh?" His head falls back down so he can see my reaction.
The corners of my mouth twitch upwards slightly. "I'm not gonna promise anything."
Gary sighs, and I can tell he's going to tell me regardless. "Look, I was just always . . . I don't know, a little envious of Ash."
I'm tempted to laugh or fall over but I do neither. I lay a hand on his arm, an action that feels strangely easy considering I don't really know the guy. "Why?"
He exhales, but it's a little shaky, as though he doesn't particularly enjoying reliving this. "Because he had you," he says with a sigh.
I feel a blush creep up my cheeks, which I choose to ignore.
"Come on, Gary," I say nudging him slightly. "You had at least half a dozen rah-rah girls hanging off your arm every second."
Gary snorts derisively at that. "Yeah. Right. Talking to them - it's like talking to celery, except at least celery know how to photosynthesize, so they're kind of interesting." He forces a smile. "I never had a Misty. I never had a real friend. Ash did, and I was jealous."
I tug at the collar of my shirt with my free hand, unsure how to respond. "I know this isn't what you want to hear but that surprises me . . . you're so popular."
Gary gives me a look then that throws me off. It's hard to interpret, but it's almost like he's disappointed. I'm not sure what it means.
"Being popular and having real friends are two completely different things," he tells me, his voice quiet, hollow. "When you're popular, you can be in a whole room of people you call your friends and feel completely alone."
His jaw sets then, and I almost feel the wall going up. I wonder if he regrets even letting me know that much.
"You know," I begin, unsure as to what I can and can't say. "You just came dangerously close to opening up."
Gary chuckles dryly. "Yeah, well, don't get used to it." I allow a small smile, and he grabs my hand. "So, come on. We better get going if we want to catch this ice-cream place in time."
His hand is warm, and fits so well in mine that I don't pull away. Besides, I get the feeling his grabbing my hand has less to do with getting back to the car and more to do with a level of comfort.
I squeeze his hand and throw him a smile. "Ready to battle the savage wilderness once again?" I ask with a smirk.
Gary flexes his free arm. "Bring it on."
I laugh and tug at his hand. "Alright, Tarzan. Let's go."

Good work, Gary. Really smart.
What was that vow I'd made years ago? It had something to do with not telling people my life story when I hardly even know them.
See what happens when you let your hormones run your life?
She reacted better than I thought. She didn't mutter anything about 'poor little rich boys' and she didn't offer to play me the world's saddest song on the world's smallest violin. I know she didn't understand entirely but she tried to. I like that.
She's quiet now, looking out the window. I'm not sure if she's thinking about what I said or if she's just feeling nostalgic because she's back home.
I turn left down a street with a sign that points towards Cerulean Beach and glance at Misty. "You'll have to direct me where to go," I tell her. "I don't know my way around Cerulean all that well."
It doesn't take long to get to this famous ice-cream place. I park, we get out of the car, and I look at the shack-like building Misty's dragging me towards. The big plastic sign informing pretty much anyone within twenty miles that this is the Ice-Cream Empire is glowing.
Misty looks at me and laughs. "Don't worry. It just looks hokey."
"Got that right," I mutter.
Misty laughs again, grabs both my sleeves and tows me into the store. Bells chime as she pushes open the glass door, and the guy in the polka-dot apron and paper hat at the counter turns to see, and his entire face lights up.
Slow night for business maybe?
That theory flies out the window when the guy crawls over the counter, grinning a mile a minute. "Misty!" he cries, landing on our side of the counter.
Misty drops my sleeves and runs over to the guy. "Joe!"
"Misty!" Joe responds, looking way too excited. He grabs her up in a hug and swings her around.
I feel a twinge of possessiveness - irrational possessiveness. I force a smile, but it feels so artificial that I drop it and opt for a look of casual of indifference.
Joe sets Misty down and the two engage in some bizarre hand slapping routine. She's so unaffected and natural with this guy. I wonder if she'll ever be like that with me.
Another guy in identical apron and hat sticks his head around the corner, frowning. "What's all the racket for?" he asks.
Joe turns to Guy Number 2 and gestures to Misty excitedly. "Man, it's Misty!"
"Oh, wow! It's Misty!" Guy Number 2 enthuses and runs around the counter to greet Misty.
"Yeah!" Joe enthuses, grabbing Misty's hands and dancing with her a little. "Misty's here!"
Right. And she called me popular.
After a few minutes of hugging and hand slapping and really fast talking, Misty seems to remember that I'm here. She drags the two guys over to me. "Sorry," she apologizes. "I'm lame with introductions." She gestures to each polka-dotted guy in turn. "This is Joe, and this is Lucas." She turns to look at Joe and Lucas. "Guys, this is my friend Gary."
We exchange nods of greeting, but I can tell we're all wondering who stands where with Misty.
"Joe and Lucas used to live down the street from me," she explains, standing on her toes and crooking an arm around each of their necks. "They're like the big brothers I never had."
She looks at me meaningfully as she says that, and I feel myself turn red. Am I that transparent?
"I saw Daisy today," Joe manages to say despite being practically strangled by Misty. "She never mentioned you're in town."
Misty grins broadly and lets go of her hostages. "That's because I'm not."
Lucas rolls his eyes. "Right. You're not here. You're an illusion."
Misty shoves him and he laughs. "Hey, guys, I'm just here for the ice-cream." Joe and Lucas laugh; Misty looks at them. "No, I mean that," she insists. "Gary's heard me raving about this place, and he decided to check it out."
Lucas tips his paper hat with mock seriousness. "Well, then, little lady, I guess we better show you that we are men of business."
Fifteen minutes later, Misty and I emerge from the Ice-Cream Empire, holding ridiculously large cones that were on the house.
"Nice guys," I comment, taking a lick of mocha-almond-fudge.
"The best," Misty agrees, catching a drip of cherry-chocolate-swirl with her tongue. "Like, I said, the big brothers I never had." She shoots me a sideways glance.
"Glad to hear it," I say non-commitally, unlocking my car and waiting for Misty to get in so I can close her door. I see what she's doing. I'm not going to take the bait.
A bit of ice-cream juggling later, we head off back to Pallet Town. There's a definite twinge of regret as we get onto the freeway. The closer we are to Pallet, the sooner I have to take Misty home.
Holding her ice-cream in one hand, she starts flicking through my CD's distractedly. You Am I. Something For Kate. Powderfinger. A couple of compilations. Nothing incriminating.
Misty picks up a compilation CD and scans the track listing. "Oh, wow!" she cries suddenly. "We have to listen to this song!"
She takes out the You Am I CD and sticks in the one in her hand. She skips forward a couple of tracks then sits back expectantly. A second later, a fast drum riff belts out of the speakers.
"I love this song," she explains as she drums along on her thighs.
Now, I realise that there are probably hundreds of people who love this song. That's how it got on a CD, right? But the fact that Misty loves a song that is one of my favorite songs has got to mean something, right?
"Yeah?" I say, reaching over to turn it up. "So do I."
Misty throws me an appreciative grin, then turns her attention back to the music. "Fingertips have memories, mine can't forget the curves of your body," she sings along, quietly.
I glance at her. "And when I feel a bit a naughty, I run it up the flagpole and see who salutes but no one ever does," I continue, eyeing her.
Misty meets me eyes and shakes back her hair, laughing. "I'm not sick, but I'm not well!" she sings, louder this time.
"And I'm so hot, 'cause I'm in hell! I'm not sick, but I'm not well, and it's a sin to look so well!" we both sing loudly. I'm slightly off-key, but Misty's perfectly pitched. It's not the best song to gauge singing ability but I'm pretty sure the girl can carry a tune.
The music is loud, we're both singing and Misty's playing air-drums, and it's more fun than I can ever remember having. I'm disappointed when the song finishes.
A more mellow song follows up, and Misty brushes an errant lock of hair out of her face.
"I think you just proved your worth, Misty," I comment lightly.
She twists in her seat slightly and lifts an eyebrow, one side of her mouth curved upwards slightly. "You're easy to please." She smirks. "I like that."
I feel myself go red slightly and I'm glad it's dark so that she probably can't see. "Well, it's just one of many qualities," I manage. I'm still reeling from Misty's comment - is it possible that she's flirting with me?
Misty flips her long hair the way May always does when she's in full-flirt mode. "I can't wait to find the rest."
Oh, come on. She's got to be flirting.
We get to Ash's way too fast. I park out the front and shrug slightly. "Well, this is your stop," I say, keeping my voice light.
Misty sighs. "Yep. Guess I better go inside and smooth things over with Ash, huh?"
I swallow, and clear my throat for no other reason than to stall for time. "So, uh, you're not gonna go fall in love with him again, are you?"
Misty blinks her huge, aqua eyes at me, clearly confused. She laughs a little. "No. Why?"
Here we go. The big plunge. Time to jump into the deep end. Time to put myself on the line. Time to put my heart on my sleeve.
Time to stop with the cheesy similes. Christ, I sound like a jackass.
"Because I was planning to ask you out for tomorrow night, and that would really put a damper on my plans," I say solemnly.
Her cheeks redden adorably and she laughs. But she stops there, leaving me feeling way too anxious.
"So?" I press.
Misty lifts one shoulder in a half-shrug, and a small smile touches her lips. "You didn't ask me out yet," she says, sounding amused.
I angle my head. "I thought I just did."
"Oh, no," Misty corrects me, holding up a hand. "You told me you were going to ask me out. You haven't actually done it yet."
She's smirking. Sadist. See, this is what I get for falling for girls like Misty.
I sigh and unbuckle my seatbelt so I can turn to face her. "So, Misty," I begin, acting as if she has no inkling that I'm going to ask her out. "We had some good times tonight. I had fun. I like having fun. I was hoping we could have some more fun tomorrow night. If you're free."
I can see she's holding back a laugh. "I'd love to."
I can't stop the full-blown grin that crosses my face. "Pick you up at seven?" I ask, grinning like a fool. I must look like I have a coathanger in my mouth.
She nods. "Sure." She places her hand on the door handle, but doesn't pull the door open. "So, you gotta go make up with May now, huh?"
I groan and run a hand through my hair. "Please, don't remind me."
She smirks that little torment-Gary smirk again. "That going to be a problem?"
I shrug. "Nah, not really. If she doesn't forgive me on the spot, I'll just go buy her a new sweater tomorrow or something."
Misty laughs, then shakes her head. "Man, I wish Ash were that easy to get around." She pulls the door handle up and pushes the door open. She slides out of the car, but doesn't close the door.
Again, I shrug and offer her a smirk of my own. "Hey, everyone has something someone else wants. Ash is a lot of things, but he's a guy before anything else. You want him to forgive you? Just offer him s-"
Misty bends down to look through at me. She smiles and cuts me off. "Good night, Gary."
I blink innocently. "I was going to say steak."
Misty rolls her eyes playfully, smiles then shuts the door.
I watch her walk up the path to the front door, wondering if she'll wave or do something that's incredibly geeky that I can tease her about tomorrow. She doesn't, but I do catch her looking back once. She doesn't smile, she doesn't wave, she just looks.
And I make sure I capture that look in my mind before I drive off.