Ash's head was still spinning by the time he got back to his apartment. Give up his dream? He wanted to help those people and he wanted to bring down Team Rocket more than anything; They'd certainly caused enough trouble in his life to deserve it. But how could they ask him to do that?
He had to sleep. He'd deal with
everything in the morning...
The next day Ash woke up to the smell
of bacon and the sound of tinkering in the kitchen. He smiled until memories of
the previous night clouded his face.
He shook it off and tip-toed to the
kitchen, silently grabbing Misty around the waist.
She squealed and swatted him with the
spatula she was holding. She tried to squirm out of his tight grip, but only
managed to flip around so that she was now face to face with her handsome
"And just what do you think you are doing, young lady?" She laughed in response, and continued to giggle when Ash playfully licked off a few dabs of pancake batter that had landed on her cheek and neck.
"If you want breakfast at all, you're going to have to sit down and stop distracting me, young man."
Reluctantly releasing her, Ash moved to help set the table, and minutes later they were both seated, enjoying the hearty meal Misty had prepared.
Ash devoured the food quietly, carefully keeping his eyes averted from his girlfriend's expectant stare.
Awkwardly breaking the silence he asked, "Would you pass the orange juice please, Mist?"
"Ash. You know I always love spending time with you, but I confess I didn't just come over here today to serve you breakfast and enjoy your company." Leaning forward, her eyes, the color of the clear sea she loved, probed his own, chocolate hued and at the moment, masked with indecision.
He didn't reply right away. With every moment, his resolve to keep Misty
out of everything was weakening. He had
woken up with the firm determination to refuse the offer, and therefore had
hoped to save Misty from harm entirely.
Langsley had drilled him on the importance of telling nobody what had
occurred during his midnight appointment with the VUIA ,and he himself wasn't
willing to endanger her in any way.
"Ash?" Misty repeated,
"Ash, what happened last night?"
"They wouldn't be happy if I
"Don't you trust me? You know I
wouldn't say or do anything that would hurt you!"
"No, honey, of course I trust
you," he replied, enveloping her small hand in his own from across the
table. "It's just...It's just that if
any of this information fell into the wrong hands, you would be a target. I
would die if I was the cause of any harm done to you."
Her pretty brow furrowed and after a
minute of gazing the opposite direction, she turned, staring right at him.
"Ash, I've told you over and over. Yes, you are my boyfriend. More than
that, you're my best friend, you always have been. And yes, we should look out
for each other and have each other's backs. But we also have to be honest and
open. When we got into this relationship, we automatically accepted the
responsibility of listening to and helping with each other's our problems and
taking them on as our own." She squeezed his hand as she pleaded with him.
"Please, don't carry this all by yourself. Don't say that I can't handle it. I can
handle it, and, despite what you may think, I can take care of myself."
Ash just sighed and raised his eyes from his empty plate. She was
right of course. After all, he reasoned, who should he listen to: a strange man
he'd never seen before in his life who was asking him to give up everything
he'd ever worked for or this gorgeous, caring, and thoughtful girl who
he had known since he was 10? Before he had a chance to begin, however, Misty
"Ash, I can survive without you.
I can go through the motions of my life and physically stay alive if you're not
there. I can even keep myself safe; I'm a smart girl you know. But I can't live
without you Ash, really live. Please, I don't need you to be my personal
bodyguard, I need you to be my boyfriend, the guy that I'm hopelessly in love
with and will hopefully spend the rest of my life with."
Ash closed his eyes and looked toward
the window to hide the tears that Misty's words had evoked. The love that he
felt for her swelled up in him so greatly that he took a minute before he
spoke, fearing that he might either cry or propose right then and there.
"I love you so much Misty."
He took a breath. "And I promise you will never have to live one day
without me." The raw emotion that shone through each of their eyes said
the same thing, something too powerful and overwhelming to be spoken aloud.
So Ash started from the beginning,
telling her all about his strange visit to the VUIA headquarters, from its
surprising location, to the entry code, to the conversation with Chuck
Langsley. After he had finished, they was quiet for a few moments.
"Wow," she said simply,
after a prolonged silence.
"Yeah, I know..."
She nodded, apparently deep in
thought. Rising from her chair, she told him she needed time to think everything
over, and, with a parting kiss, she left the apartment.
Ash fell back onto his couch, his arms crossed behind his head. After a while, he slowly got up again, his mind filled with uncertainty.
Slamming the door behind him, Ash too
left his apartment, determined to take a walk and sort things out.
When Ash returned, his shirt was soaked through with sweat and a pounding headache born out of his continued state of indecision put him into an even sourer mood. Frustrated, he stalked toward the kitchen, nearly overlooking the flashing red light on his answering machine.
Pushing it, a smile returned to his
face, as the pleasant voice of his girlfriend fill the room, "Ash, I know
you're probably taking a walk or something to think things through. Don't ask,
I've known you forever. But I need you to come over as soon as you get this. I
think I've got an idea about that thing we talked about before." And with that,
she ended abruptly.
Puzzled by Misty's cryptic message, Ash nevertheless took a two-minute shower, changed his shirt, and headed out to the house Misty shared with two of her older sisters.
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