Or: what happens when you let Brock and Tracey give you romantic advice
Ash Ketchum stood stock-still, staring with a glazed expression at his reflection in the full-length mirror, as his two companions primped and fussed.
"I don't see why I can't wear my hat,"Ash grumbled, folding his arms obstinately across his chest. Brock made a disapproving sound.
"Really Ash, you expect to turn up at the most romantic restaurant in town, on the anniversary of the first day you met her, wearing a battered old baseball cap you've worn everyday for over a decade?"Ash rolled his eyes, but remained silent. Tracey tugged his arms loose.
"Don't wrinkle the suit – it's rented and hard to iron,"he frowned.
"What anniversary is it anyway?"Ash squinted, as he tried to count backwards in his head.
"Thirteen!?"echoed Ash, with a suppressed moan. "Are you sure?"
"It's not hard to work out,"murmured Tracey, as he squirted a large dollop of blue coloured hair gel into his palm. "You're twenty-three."
"What, are you worried it's gonna be unlucky?"laughed Brock, as he reached for a comb and ran his finger down the prongs. "You've known Misty for thirteen years. You're practically already married – you've been serious with her for about six years now. Even before that; you and your-"
"Intimate friendship,"Tracey joined in with a smirk, remembering a 16 year old Ash's excuse for being SO close, but NOT romantically attracted, to Misty. Ash scowled darkly, and rotated his shoulder to pull the ill-fitting tuxedo up.
"But I KNOW Misty,"he protested. "With her, unless I ask PERFECTLY, she'll get all moody and complain I wasn't romantic enough or something." Ash sighed and Brock raised an eyebrow.
"And you're marrying that, intentionally?"he asked, incredulously, and Ash shot him a glare.
"Well I guess she's kinda right,"he mumbled, shuffling and staring down at the pair of highly shined black shoes Tracey had leant him. "It is a big deal, and I want to make it just how she wants, but it kinda ruins the atmosphere if I ask her how to do it…"
"Don't worry about it,"advised Tracey, as he spread the gel evenly through Ash's unruly spikes, and Ash winced as he felt imaginary tugs. "You'll get all scrunchy."
"Scrunchy?"repeated Ash and Brock, and Tracey sweatdropped as he reached for the hairdryer, which had been 'borrowed' from his wife's wardrobe.
"Okay, so we've got the ring?"asked Brock, as Tracey set the hairdryer on maximum and set about drying the gel rock-solid. Ash patted the bump in his jacket pocket. Brock went to carry on, but stopped suddenly. "Is it a diamond ring, Ash?" he asked, accusingly. Ash shrugged.
"Well yeah but- ow, Trace you're burning my ears! Um, yeah, it has a diamond in the middle, but it's got little blue stones around the side."Brock grabbed the black, velvet box out of Ash's hand, and stared at the engagement ring, in a scrutinising fashion. It wasn't anything gaudy and overly elaborate – a gold band, with a large diamond in the middle of a ring of small sapphires. Brock smiled slightly, and closed the box with a click.
"She'll say yes just so she can wear the ring,"he teased his approval, tucking it back in his friend's jacket pocket. "Okay, have we got a dozen red roses?" Ash held up the sophisticated looking bouquet.
"You know, roses symbolise the vagina," Tracey informed, switching off the hairdryer and setting it down on
the table. Brock and Ash looked at the flowers in disgust, before Ash thrust them into Brock's chest.
"And I can't give her lilies WHY?"he asked. "They are her favourite flowers!"
"Okay, okay, I'll deal with the flowers,"Tracey said in defeat, picking up the phone and punching in his home number. "Hiiiiiiiiiiii honey… how are the kids? Oh! Really!" Tracey paused and put his hand over the phone.
"Tracey Junior's swimming teacher said he was an excellent swimmer!"Brock raised an eyebrow, and Tracey returned to the phone. "That's great, put him on-" Ash glowered at Tracey.
"Oh, wait hon, I have a favour to ask. The roses aren't working out, we need a bouquet of lilies up here, fast, so can you get Erika to deliver them to Brock's house? Aw, you're a star! Okay, I've gotta go – missing you already!"Brock and Ash watched their friend simper in disgust.
"I looooove you! No, I love you MORE. I love you MORE than infinity! No YOU hang up! No you! Awww…"
"Ash, you do realise that if you EVER start acting like that, I will have Onix crush you. Without a second thought,"Brock noted, as Tracey began to twiddle the phone coil around his fingers.
"And I would be forever in your debt,"agreed Ash, as Tracey finally managed to wrench himself away from the phone.
"Lilies will be here in 20 minutes, tops,"he announced.
"Good, can I sit DOWN now?"asked Ash, and without waiting for a reply, sank down on the couch.
"Hey, where's Pikachu?"asked Brock suddenly, and Ash scowled again.
"At Professor Oak's…"Tracey mumbled. "I didn't want yellow hair all over the tux, okay?!"
"Why aren't I nervous?"murmured Ash, looking aghast as he realised he could tap on his hair.
"Oh, you will be,"Brock replied, from the kitchen where he was trying to push the unwanted bouquet of roses down the garbage disposal.
"I hope Erika's attendant gets here soon,"smiled Tracey. "You wouldn't wanna be late!"
Half an hour later, Ash once again stood in front of the mirror, clutching a beautiful bouquet of white lilies and pale blue ribbon, specially arranged as a favour by the Celadon City GymLeader. Squinting, he concentrated on he reflection of his left hand, and began to imagine a gold ring on one of the fingers.
"Nervous yet?"smiled Brock, slapping Ash on the back.
"Kinda,"breathed Ash, as he swapped which hand held the flowers to he could wipe off the sweat.
"Good,"Brock affirmed. "Because it's time to go." Ash's eyes widened and his grip on the flowers tightened.
"No…"he whimpered. "Don't make me go… don't make me go! She's too scary! What if she says no?" Brock rolled his eyes, and gently pushed Ash towards the front door where Tracey was holding his coat.
"Don't worry 'bout it,"Tracey repeated, bundling Ash into the coat. "Just get down on one knee and open the box."
"Say it would be a great honour! The ladies love that!"put in Brock, helpfully. Ash looked even more frightened as they jostled him into the awaiting taxi, and closed the door on him.
"Which knee do I bend down on?"cried Ash through the open window, as the taxi began to drive away towards Vermillion City.
"On your left!"
"On your right!"called his friends as the taxi disappeared out of sight.
"Well…"began Tracey, breaking the silence. "What do you think?" Tracey followed Brock's gaze to where the bouquet of lilies was lying, dropped on the porch.
Ash watched Misty as she animatedly talked about something or other, waving her chopsticks around in the air as she gestured and every so often popping some food into her mouth. He wasn't really listening, but he'd learnt from experience, that as long as he kept his eyes on her face rather than her chest, and nodded every now and again, she thought he was.
This wasn't even necessary – they already lived together and after thirteen years he had no doubts whatsoever that, as argumentative as they were, he'd never ever want to leave her. He leant on his elbow, face slightly tilted, and watched the softness in her teal eyes as she talked earnestly about something or other-
"Ash? Ash? Were you even listening to me?"she suddenly asked, the annoyance in her voice rather than the words grabbing his attention.
"Uhuh!"he assured her, reaching for her hand across the table.
"Then why didn't you answer me?"
"I was, I was thinking…"
"I didn't think you'd have that much to think about…"she pouted, her brow furrowing in brewing anger. Ash sighed.
"I'm sorry, what were you saying?"Misty pulled her hand away from his and sat backwards in the chair, folding her arms across her chest, in a stubborn mirror-movement of him earlier.
"I asked you to marry me,"she said, meaningfully, but quietly, as if to check he was actually listening. Ash's mouth twitched.
"I'm sorry, can you repeat that?"he tried not to smile. Misty rolled her eyes.
"I asked you to marry me, idiot. Jeez, I wouldn't have bo- what?"Misty stopped as she realised his mouth twitching had turned into a full blown grin. Wordlessly, Ash pulled out the small box and pressed it into her hands.
"Will you excuse me a minute?"he asked, breathlessly, and Misty nodded, carefully. Ash disappeared out of view, around the corner to where the lifts were, pulling a battered red and white Pokémon League hat out of his pocket.
"What in the world…"murmured Misty, feeling self-conscious as she realised that all that tables around her had been listening attentively to her whilst she poured her heart out, even if her idiot boyfriend hadn't.
"ALLLLLLRIGHT!!!"came a familiar shout of triumph from around the corner, and Misty laughed, flicking open the small jewellery box, and smiling fondly at the contents. Ash sheepishly reappeared, wearing the hat backwards, with his tie shoved half in his pocket and his shirt untucked.
"And you're marrying that, intentionally?"laughed a woman from a nearby table. Misty slipped the diamond and sapphire engagement ring on her wedding finger with a grin.