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DOMESTIC BLISS

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Ash sighed heavily, feeling every nanosecond that the inaudible sound somehow echoed in his head, his already existent headache protest and pound. Still, he should consider himself lucky – the dreaded TIME had started a few days later than had been marked on the calendar… but then didn't that mean that it was gonna last a few days longer to compensate? Ash's head stabbed angrily at the thought.

I love my wife, he thought, half-deliriously to himself as he stacked dishes in the dishwasher clumsily (Brock usually came in once a week and cleaned the entire house, but he refused to come anywhere near his two best friends anytime during the TIME). I love my wife very much; she's my best friend, and my sparring partner, but I HATE the TIME.

Whoever came up with the genius idea of makin' girls all moody and bleedy for a week anyway? Or in Misty's case, close to 14 days; ugh. Ash could barely remember a time when he and Brock or Tracey hadn't woken up with that leaden feeling deep in their stomachs, knowing, and dreading the fact that today, and for the next week or so, they would be living and travelling around with a pissy, moaning, hormonal teenager with skilled use of a mallet. Although there must have once been a time, because Ash remembered quite clearly with a smirk the morning Misty had woken up and discovered…

Yeah – her and Ash had been sleeping on opposite sides of one of those sofas in the lobby of the Crown City Pokémon Centre, and he had been rudely awoken by a kick in the face as she screamed and fussed about the rather splendid stain she had left on the mint overthrow. He had just begun to 'like her romantically', so she must have been… fourteen? So there had been about three years when he hadn't had to live with this… ahh they were the golden years alright...

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaash," moaned a plaintive voice from the depths of the darkness, and Ash turned to the doorway to the sitting room, raking his fingers backwards through his spiky fringe.

"Yeah Misty?"

"Could you please bring me in some chocolate biscuits? Pwease?" she pleaded, in her 'I'm-in-so-much-pain-and-you-wouldn't-understand' tone of voice. Ash rolled his eyes and threw some biccies onto a nearby (and unwashed) plate, and sauntered with them into the recesses of what for all the rest of the month was his manly domain, but for the TIME, it was where his friend of 16 years, his lover of 9 years and his wife of 2, confined herself to the sofa with no makeup and various cuddly plush Pokémon.

She peeked at him now over the top of a quilted duvet, with her large teal eyes, sheepishly trying to conceal the purple bags under her eyes with the blanket. The red-headed woman felt a pang of envy when she saw her husband wander in carelessly with the plate – while she lay swaddled up like a Kakuna on the sofa with cramps, headaches, back pain, nausea, stiffness, tiredness and just about every other ailment you could associate with the blessing of the menstruation cycle.

Her older sister Violet was about the only person she knew who really understood (although Brock claimed extensive knowledge) – everyone else she knew, including Daisy and Lily had pathetic, 5 day spells with maybe a slight stomach pang early in the morning. She and Vi had to cling on for up to thirteen agonising days, barely living from one hot water bottle to the next. Ash passed her the broken bit off a biscuit, and she crinkled up her nose in gratitude, and he brushed a bit of hair off her perspiring forehead, smiling slightly.

"Hey Myst, why don't we, you know, go out and do something? Go somewhere? See someone?" Ash finally stopped as he realised that Misty looked as if he'd just suggested she went and did something illegal with a Remoraid. Ash cringed. Now he really, really wished that he hadn't pre-empted his wife's consent; and knowing his traditional run of luck during the TIME, the doorbell was gonna ring right… about…

DIIIIIING-DOOOOOONG.

Misty shot off the couch, panting heavily and dropping her blanket to the floor. Ash sweatdropped and clasped his hands together in a pleading fashion.

"Pleeeeeeeease sweeeeeeeeetie, please?" She glowered at him, wearing a sports bra and a pair of his boxer-shorts – she said she found them more comfortable during the TIME when she felt all bloated. "Misty, you might wanna… wanna… put some clothes on…" Misty continued to glower.

"Yoo-hoo?!" called a female voice intrusively through the letter box, and Misty gasped as she saw a flash of turquoise on the other side of the frosted window.

"Why is she here?" she growled, through gritted teeth, referring to a person who wasn't exactly her favourite acquaintance. Ash waggled his index finger in a nervous, impassive way.

"Er, they," he corrected.

"…they?" she repeated, icily.

"Hey Ditz, Ash always leaves the side door on the latch," came the voice of the male half of that particular couple, and both Ash and Misty glanced at the side door with instant dread.

"I hate you," Misty snarled at her sweatdropping life-partner, as the door swung open, releasing a barrage of southern Kanto sunlight into the dim, television lit room. Startled, Ash clumsily decided he'd save his wife's virtue - considering her current state of dress – and tried to throw his heavier bulk in front of her. Unfortunately, he ended up knocking her backwards onto the couch, and Mr and Mrs Todd Snap pranced into the room to a sight that resembled a scene from one of Brock's favoured videos (not that Ash had ever watched any or anything…).

Miss Pep-Squad esquire, broke into peals of laughter, and Todd scratched his nose with his finger, trying to conceal his smirk; Ash sighed, and stared down at the narrowed eyes of the woman underneath him. He could just hear the sniggers of the rest of the symposium when he walked in on Monday… He rested his forehead on hers briefly and closed his eyes for strength, before pushing himself off her and to his feet. Misty swung her legs over the side of the couch, blushing.

"Oh, did we come at a bad time?" smiled Duplica, in a smug voice, slipping her petite hand into her husband's larger one.

"Nooo no no no," chorused Ash and Misty, while Ash edged in front of her and she struggled to wrap the blanket around her exposed body. Todd changed to scratching at his eyes as Misty excused herself and raced up the stairs.

"Okay Ash, we're here to do coupley stuff!" Duplica chortled, as she switched off the television and zoomed around the room like Super Wife, stacking plates and crisp packets and running into the kitchen with them. Todd put his hands in his pockets in a masculine fashion as Ash drew the curtains.

"Hey Ash, isn't that kinda unhygienic?" Todd asked suddenly. Ash stared, uncomprehendingly, and Todd laughed at who he deemed his 'little innocent friend'. "You know – doin' the dirty when Misty has got the red carpet rolled out?" Ash raised his eyebrow, still not understanding what the hell his photographer friend was getting at. Misty coughed loudly as she stampeded down the stairs, interrupting the conversation. Todd blushed, Ash grinned at his now dressed wife, and Duplica popped her head around the kitchen doorframe.

"Hi-hi!" she squealed at Misty, who shot a look at Ash that made him flinch. "We're here to cheer you up cos you're feeling blue!" she continued, winking at Ash. "Aw Misty, why are you so moody, huh?" Misty stared at her in disbelief.

"Duplica – do you not have periods?" she asked, sarcastically. Duplica and Todd shared a coupley-look, and Duplica tapped her stomach with two fingers.

"Not anymore!" she gleamed, as Todd moved to caress his wife's five month swollen bump. Ash's eyes lit up, but Misty rolled hers.

"Okay, so what shall we do then?" asked Todd, throwing himself down onto the couch and rubbing his hands together.

"Ash," Misty called, grabbing his hand with a tight grip. "I would really like your help in the ki-"

"Oh I'll help!" chirruped Duplica, grasping Misty's other hand; Misty dug her nails deep into Ash's fist.

"Aie-aie-aie-it's a, a, bonding thing," he yelped, as an explanation, and Duplica scrunched up her face in an agreeing Barbie-doll smile, as Misty yanked her other half into the airy, tiled kitchen.

"I hate you," she repeated, rubbing her eye tiredly while Ash awkwardly pulled the hem of her summer dress down, as his navy boxers were still peeping out from underneath.

"I love you too," he countered wryly. "Aw, c'mon Myst, if anyone can get you to be a bit more lively, Duplica can!"

"I don't wanna be lively!" Misty yelled, clenching her fists. "I wanna crawl under a duvet, clutching a hot-water bottle, wearing my husband's underwear and MOAN about how SICK I feel! Geddit? Now go out there and get rid of them!"

"But Mi-"

"GO!" she yelled, shoving him brusquely out of the door, into the sitting room, where Duplica and Todd looked up at him expectantly. Ash blinked his innocent dark eyes, in dismay – how do you tell two of your oldest acquaintances to bugger off when you yourself have invited them over? Ash sighed to himself, and stared at the turquoise haired woman's enlarged stomach.

"Wa! Duplica!" he began, riding on his sudden brainwave. "Your water just broke!" he yelled, pointing at her stomach. Duplica and Todd stared at each other warily.

"Ash, she's got another four months before that happens," Todd murmured, arching an eyebrow at his wide-eyed wife.

"Oh…" Ash murmured, sadly, scratching at his chin in thought.

"Erm, Ashy-boy-" Duplica began.

"Oh Todd!" interrupted Ash, snapping his fingers. "Mutant Kangaskhan are taking over Celadon University! You'd better hurry up and get down there so you can take pictures for the symposium!" Todd began to laugh.

"You know Ash, you really should ask Misty before organising a get-together…"

"I know…" pouted Ash, poking the tips of his two index fingers together and lowering his head.

"We can take a hint!" laughed Duplica, heaving herself up from the sofa. "Tell Misty we said bye, and maybe

we'll see you in a fortnight." Ash gratefully nodded, and Todd lifted his arm in farewell. Ash breathed a sigh of relief when he heard the front door close, and turned towards the kitchen; he stopped abruptly when he almost bashed foreheads with his glaring spouse. She sighed, and patted his cheek in a patronising way.

"Ash, if you wanna celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary… don't ever do that again – okay?" Ash nodded sheepishly, whiles Misty ripped the dress over her head and sank blissfully back onto the sofa.

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Misty tossed and turned, grunting and flailing around on the feather pillows, knocking Ash in the mouth a couple of times as she thrashed about, kicking the covers off and pulling them back on. Her brow furrowed as she felt his warm body lift from the bed, and heard his footprints stagger out of the door and down the stairs. Sleepily, she raised herself up on her elbows to peer at the ajar door in puzzlement, before letting her aching body flop back down on the mattress.

Five minutes later, he tiptoed back into the dark room, closing the door slowly as to not make too much noise. He crawled back into the bed beside her, with his chest to her back, and slipped a newly filled hot-water bottle, encased in a furry Clefairy covering, around to her stomach.

"Mmm, thanks Ash," she murmured, as he slipped his other arm around her so he was gently pressing the warmth into her aching uterus with both hands.

"Hey Misty?" Ash whispered. "You know if you get pregnant, you won't have all this for nine months…"

"I'll just have morning sickness, and then at the end, unbearable pain when all my tissues get ripped during child-birth."

"Just a suggestion…" Ash smirked, closing his eyes and resting his chin on her shoulder.

"Hmmm," Misty smirked back, feeling her stomach begin to spasm more softly. "Maybe next week then."

Ash's eyes shot open.

"Waaaaa?"