Disclaimer: So totally not taking responsibility for whatever pokemon has become. I had nothing to do with it.

AN/ Here's a short little one shot for a Pokemon Valentine's Contest on DeviantART. Just practicing my romance genre writing.

I wish you well
Wish I could help
But I can't help you find yourself.
-Thousand Foot Krutch

She was never much one for parties. There was never anything for her in the distasteful assortment of finger food platters. She hated stuffy and crowded room. And especially the mingling people that insisted on talking about nothing truly substantial.

Misty was starving. Starving for real smiles, real conversations, and for Mew's sake some food that wasn't the size of yen coins. A hamburger, perhaps. Yes, Misty thought with mouthwatering anticipation, a thick juicy slab of red meat right now would really hit the spot.

The cold spring evening hit her bear shoulders quite nicely as she stepped out onto the patio. She relished in it for a brief moment before shuffling into her small purse. And as she searched for her wallet she regretted not having brought a change of clothes.

Her strapless apple green evening gown was quite a sensation at the dinner party. The twist detail and the side pleats that quietly accented her otherwise hidden curves was both admired and envied. For once in a long time, the young woman felt beautiful.

But now she just felt hungry and quite overdressed for Outback Steakhouse.

The night sky was silver with rain clouds and no sooner had she stopped puttering around with her purse had the skies decided to give way to them. Misty groaned quite audibly at the sight. Even if she were eager to run someplace else for dinner, she was not so eager as to destroy the expensive dress she had only just rented for the evening.

She leaned against the railing, not bothering to hide her disdain from the rain. Misty was given quite a start when some cold fingers twisted their way around her own.

At first, her mind screamed "stranger!" Then she thought, no- certainly not in front of her own house.

Misty pulled her fingers away and glanced up. But instead of familiarity she found herself facing her first conclusion.

Misty fell back, stumbled (damn these heels!) and tried to run back to the safety of her house. But the young man caught her arm,

"Wait, Mist- It's me."

Misty looked back. It was him. She could see it now in the soft gray light that spilled across his dark features. They had been hidden at first, beneath his dark hoodie. She could see him in the soft angles of his face. Definitely in the deep chocolate eyes and soft but always unkempt black hair that she had crushed on back when she fished him and his Pikachu up from the lake all those years ago.

"Ash," Misty breathed, her heart resuming its usual pace. "Mew, you scared me half to death. I didn't realize you'd be here…"

She paused for only a moment before finishing the thought. "What are you doing here?"

Ash took considerable interest in his own shuffling feet. It was his usual way of letting Misty know that she had made him feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. She had gotten pretty good at reading his body language through the years.

"I wasn't here for the party… really."

Misty could have guessed that. In his dark sweats, Ash looked more ready to rob someone than visit a dinner party. But despite the intimidating clothing, he was the same old insecure and stubborn dork. Seeing him in it actually put Misty at ease. Some things and Ash never changed.

"You're wet," Misty noted pointlessly brushing the wetness off his shoulders.

"I just arrived a few minutes ago… I was out- training with Pikachu. And it looked like it was gonna rain… so I dropped by."

He smiled. He really looked the same. A few grades taller than the years before, but everything else remained engrained in his persona. Still training the same pokemon. Still traveling and getting nowhere with it. Misty fell in love with that once. It was a beautiful life, going nowhere. There were no expectations, no social demands, and no pointless dinner parties.

"It's… kind of a bad time."

Ash made a face. "I noticed," Then he quickly averted his gaze before Misty could see where his eyes had gone. "I didn't realize you'd be having a party. For Gary right? I heard you two were together."

"He was conferred."

"I know." If Ash was disappointed in his own still minor status, he didn't let Misty see it. He quickly pulled the conversation back into his own control. "I saw his match on television last week. It was genius really- he got a little cocky towards the end, cost his pokemon a few unnecessary bruises but… well, the outcome's history now, right?"

"Right…" Misty looked away. The rain that was starting to pelt harder and harder against the gravel walkway. It didn't seem like it would be letting up anytime soon.

"I… saw the whole thing, Mist."

"Did you?"

Ash let out an uncomfortable sigh. "You do know I didn't just come here to get shelter from the rain, right?"

Half of her knew. The other half of her missed the hamburger she knew she wouldn't be getting.

"It was awfully sweet of that obnoxious bastard to propose to you after he won."

Misty shrugged. "The sentiment was nice." Oddly she found herself feeling ashamed.

"Great sentiment… He was just adding a little red-headed cherry to his victory plate."

Misty sent him a fierce glare that immediately quelled any of Ash's anger. "Are you implying, Ash Ketchum, that I am a trophy to be won?"

"Sorry," Ash grumbled. "I just… I mean… I just wanted to know-"

"What my answer was?"


Misty closed her eyes and leaned the small of her back against the railing. It really was none of Ash's business. They hadn't aired her reply because of what her reply was. It wasn't very professional of her- ruining the perfect moment like that.

She knew exactly why Ash was here. He had been snatching glances at her hand ever since he walked up. Hoping to catch a glimpse of something glittery on her left ring finger.



"Yes. I told him I wasn't interested. Not now, anyway." Misty opened her eyes again, forcing herself to look hard to Ash's own. It was important that he knew that she wasn't lying. She didn't want him causing Gary any trouble that he didn't deserve. "Gary's not a bad guy, Ash. Sure he's cocky and he can be a bit of an ass sometimes. But he's not really as bad as you seem to think he is."

Ash looked mostly relieved. Misty was glad for it. But she definitely wouldn't be telling him the real reason she turned Gary down. "Why did you care what the answer was?"

"I guess… I was just concerned."

"What for? I don't recall ever asking you to look out for me, Ash."

"Well…" Ash flushed. "You're my best friend. I just wanted to make sure… that if you did marry- that I at least got to threaten the guy a little."

Misty smiled, placing her hands flat against the patio railing to balance herself as she kicked off her aching heels. It was only the two of them out here anyway. No one would be judging her for her stocking feet.

"I'm a big girl. I can make my own choices."

"I know that. Of course, I know that. I just- wanna… make sure."

Misty smirked. "Of course."

Ash flushed red again. And despite Misty's calm demeanor, her own heart was racing. Had she unintentionally scared him? Did he think he lost her? Did he really care if he did?

"I used to have a crush on you," Ash blurted out awkwardly.

Now it was Misty's turn to blush. "You did?"

"Yeah…" Ash seemed suddenly very interested at her abandoned heels. He eyed the stiletto heels intently as he continued, "Remember when you left that time after Johto. You had to go back home to cover the gym for your sisters. I… I realized I liked you then. At least more than any other girl I've ever known."

"I'm honored."

Ash glared at her crossly. "Don't tease me."

"Sorry," Misty smiled weakly. She tended to grow more and more sarcastic when nervous. It got her into trouble more often than naught through the years. "Truth is… I had a crush on you too."

Ash's expression suddenly lightened. "Really? For how long?"

"Um." She could tell him the truth.

When I first pulled you out of the lake. When I saw you walk into the pokemon center, bruised and bleeding- practically in tears for your injured Pikachu. I fell in love with that sweet and sensitive boy who ignored his own injuries- cared so much for another being that he disregarded himself. I fell in love with you when you stole my bike. When you held my hand. When you protected me. When you told me you were trying to become a pokemon master, and I believed you with my all heart and soul. I've been in love with you for so long that I've forgotten how and why… I fell in love with you.

"Around the beginning of Johto…"

"Wow. Really? I thought you hated me something awful." He laughed. And Misty felt complied to join him, no matter how much it hurt. But she couldn't bear to. "Life's crazy like that, I guess."

"I guess…"

"I wonder why we never admitted it?"

Misty looked awkwardly down at shoulder. It was easier than meeting his eye. "It's not easy to admit things like that. Especially for people like us… We're both so stubborn."

Ash grinned in agreement. "Damn stubborn."

"And imagine how Brock would have teased us so!"

"Oh good mew, you thought of that too?"

"Of course! He was always cracking jokes about us…"

"And all this time, he was absolutely right."

"But he doesn't need to know that."

Misty let go a laugh. She was pleased to hear Ash's chimed in with her own. She felt warm on the inside, sharing the moment with him. Just like the old days, when nothing she said mattered any. He still enjoyed her company even after she hit him upside the head, pushed him off the pier into the Vermillion bay or let him get them all lost for the millionth time.

Ash stopped laughing before she did. She let her laughter trail off uneasily under his gaze. He was watching her face- not unkindly.

"That's more like the Misty I remember."

Misty found herself blushing brightly but not without a small shy smile. As if noticing her embarrassment, Ash quickly grew embarrassed himself. They stumbled through awkward apologizes. Until at last, he gave her that same sad smile he did when they were briefly reunited- not more than a few minutes before.

"I guess I better head back to camp. Pikachu's probably wondering where I've gone by now."

"Wait- we might have… We might have a spare room you can stay in. So you won't have to stay out in the rain, I mean."

Ash glanced almost enviously in at the half open door and the fancily dressed people parading around inside with champagne and polite exchanges of pleasantries.

"You and I both know I won't be wanted in there."

It's not like I'm wanted in there either, thought Misty bitterly. I'm just better dressed for the part.

"I could get you a tux. I'm sure Gary has a spare somewhere-"

And the mention of his rival's name, Ash visibly flinched. Misty knew the answer before she finished asking.

"No, no. Don't bother. Besides… wouldn't it make your boyfriend uncomfortable, seeing you with me?"

Misty felt her cheeks burn slightly at his remark. "Should it?"

Ash blinked twice, as if she had slapped him, and then looked away. "I guess not."

He took the small steps off the patio and into the curtain of rain. He only looked back once, his smile barely visible from under his dark hood, "I hope you have a nice evening, Mist. I'll see you later then?"

A question. He had to ask?

And then he turned. The gravel crunching like melting ice underfoot as he made his way back up the drive. Misty watched his back until she could no longer stand her own frustration.


She marched down the patio steps and into the heavy rain. Who the hell cared if it was a rented dress. All the more reason not to care.

Misty ignored the sharp stabs of pain compliments of the gravel biting into her naked feet. She ignored the tears running in her tights. She couldn't care less about damage being done to her perfectly pinned up French twist that she had sat in the damn salon for hours to get just right.

It was all everyone's fault. How they all cared about appearances- how they were so terrified of things falling apart in their perfectly pampered and pined up lives.

Even Ash. He was even too scared to admit it. How dare he be just as scared as she was. And she'd be damned if she'd let it happen again.

"Wait!" She shouted again getting Ash to turn around.

He looked at her in complete shock. Ruined. She had completely ruined her whole pristine beauty. And yet, he couldn't speak- because now she had taken it all several steps further.

She was drenched. Her gown was hemmed with mud. And her red hair was now hanging loosely around her face.

"Misty, your dress!" He cried.

"I don't care."

"But the party-"

"Screw them."

"And Gary- what if he see you with me!"

She smiled and pulled the hood up even further over Ash's face.

"He won't."

And then she kissed him. Deeply. She pulled him forward by his sweater hood until finally he accepted her embrace.

He wrapped his arm around her waist and the other hand nestled gently in the cradle behind her head. She wrapped her own arms around his neck and fell deep into his kisses. Despite the would be chill from the rain, Misty felt quite warm.

Then, reluctantly, they broke apart.

Ash let his hand slip back so he could touch her cheek. But before he could ask a thing, she smiled.

"I'm absolutely dying for a hamburger. How about you?"