Author's Note: I can't believe there's not a Pokémon section on fanfiction-dot-net! Was this not a HUGE craze nine— years…
Well, here you are, anyway.
Edit: Figures it would be under the one category I didn't check. (Sighs) Well, at least the problem has now been fixed. Thanks for everyone who pointed me towards the "Games" section!
Warnings: AshxMisty ahoy! Characters older. Cheesiness. Subtle innuendo…?
Dedication: For my dear friend—and fellow AshxMisty shipper—Deanna. Pokémon Live forever! (And thanks for the soundtrack!) XD
Of Gentlemen and Short-Shorts
"Hey, can I ask you a question?"
From his crouch beside the fire, Brock— the recipient of this inquiry— turned slightly, mild curiosity etched upon his tanned face. He blinked twice in succession (or at least he seemed to, it was hard to tell with Mr. Squinty Eyes), cocked his head, and lowered the half-sliced carrot that he'd been holding.
"Shoot," he then encouraged, smiling slightly at his female companion. It wasn't often that the two of them spent time alone together; Ash was unquestionably the glue in their relationship. It was nice that she seemed interested in strengthening their bond through communication.
Misty, who had been watching the older gym leader work with a deadpan expression on her face—chin in one hand, other on her knees— leaned forward on the tree trunk she was using as a bench, eyes narrowed the smallest of margins. It was a contemplative, irate, and all-together soul-piercing sort of stare.
And in that instant, the previously optimistic Brock knew he was in hot water.
…or maybe he just felt that way due to his proximity to the campfire. He hoped that was the case; he couldn't think of anything he'd done in recent history to offend his fellow traveler. (Unless she'd only just found out about that time back in Viridian City when he'd— never mind.)
"Why is it," Misty drawled, interrupting Brock's mental musings with her flat voice and half-lidded eyes, "that you hit on every female creature alive except me?"
This time, Brock really did blink.
"…excuse me?" he choked, only just managing to keep from whirling around and setting himself on fire. Good thing he didn't; the water Pokémon master seemed in no mood to save him from a flaming death.
"You heard me," Misty grumbled, though her pale cheeks did turn just the slightest shade of pink this time. It was nice to know she had some shame. "All of the Jennies and Joys, all of the random female trainers we've come across… I'm thankful we haven't found any Jinxes, I'd be afraid of what you'd do… but for all of that, you've never once… made a pass at me."
As her voice trailed off, she ducked her head to the left, glaring pointedly towards the ground. At her feet, Togepi began chirping worriedly, waving its little arms.
Brock was at a loss. How exactly was he supposed to respond to this? I'm sorry? I was sure I had? Maybe turn it into some sort of compliment about how her beauty made him temporarily (if 4 years could be called 'temporarily') blind? He didn't really want to say any of those things—and he was relatively sure they weren't what she wanted to hear, either. After all, never once had Misty shown even the slightest bit of romantic interest in him; it didn't make sense that she'd randomly bring it up now. Unless maybe she'd mistaken the cooking sherry for water again…? Subtly, he eyed the ingredients he'd stashed in his bag.
No, the bottle was still full.
"Uh…" Brock hesitated, scratching awkwardly at the back of his head as he tried to stall for time—and strategize for whatever sort of battle this response would result in: "Did you… did you want me to?"
Instantaneously, the 18-year-old's face exploded with color. "No!" she snapped, and sounded as if she might be close to retching. Brock wasn't sure whether to be insulted or relieved.
He decided on relieved.
"Then why are you asking?" he inquired, voice more casual as he returned to slicing carrots. It was both a ploy to keep his hands busy, and an excuse to turn his head away from her. He was still afraid he might blush. Or cry. Relieved he might be, but that response had still smacked his fragile male ego up a bit. Like I don't get rejected enough.
"Well, I…" If Brock had been nervous before, it was nothing to the way Misty sounded now. She floundered for a full minute, frustrated undertones evident in her voice as she scooped Togepi into her arms and gave it a tight hug. "It's just, you hit on all of the pretty girls, right…?"
"And you've never hit on me."
"So," Misty muttered, sounding more irritated than embarrassed as she slouched around the baby Pokémon in her embrace, "does that mean… I'm not… you know…
In Brock's dark and spiky head, it all clicked in an instant. And—as if to entice Misty into flying into a self-conscious rage—he allowed himself a tiny little grin.
She jumped to her feet with a soft scream. "Are you laughing?! Of course you're laughing. You better not be laughing, Brock, or I swear I'll—!"
"This is about Ash, isn't it?"
It was as if he'd pricked her with a needle. Within milliseconds, her already rosy cheeks were burning as brightly as her vividly red hair; she sank back into her seat like a deflated balloon. Still clutching Togepi like a teddy bear, she released a deep, morose sigh.
"Is it that obvious…?" she whimpered, resisting the urge to message her temples.
This time, Brock really did laugh, albeit gently. "Maybe just a little. But only because we've known each other for so long."
Okay, so that was lie. Any conscious being (and, perhaps, a few of the more 'aware' unconscious coma victims) could see how Misty felt for Ash. And vice versa, to be honest. But he figured rubbing the truth in her face wouldn't help any; besides, what she was really worried about was Ash finding out, and there was no chance of that. The boy had the tendency to be as oblivious as rocks when it came to any sort of human interaction.
Misty exhaled noisily again, mood graying once more. "I dunno," she mumbled, more to herself than to Brock. "I guess I just… after all of this time… I thought, you know… something should have happened. But nothing has. And since he's shown interest in other girls before, I thought maybe it was just… me."
It was Brock's turn to sigh, though it sounded strangely compassionate, rather than exasperated. "That's silly," he then verbalized, stirring the stew as it bubbled over the fire. "How many male trainers have we run across who've hit on you?"
"What? Well, I don't know. But they weren't—"
"How many times have you seen Ash fly into a jealous rage?"
"I wouldn't say rage…"
"Misty, you know Ash. When it comes to anything involving hormones, his mental processes are about as rapid as a Slowpoke."
She couldn't help but crack a smile at that. Togepi, ecstatic to see the amusement in his trainer's eyes, trilled its glee as it swung its arms.
"Look," Brock continued, pushing himself away from the fire only to immediately flop down next to Misty, elbows resting on her log bench. "If it'll make you feel better, I'll let you in on a bit of a secret."
She'd never had much of a poker face. Interest glistened in the eyes that had moments ago been close to tears.
"As you well know after all of this time," the Pewter City gym leader said solemnly, toying still with his large wooden cooking spoon, "I am first and foremost a gentleman." (He pointedly ignored her snort of amusement.) "If I see a damsel in distress, I am the first there to save her from her tower. If a pretty girl is in need of any sort of service at all, I'm her man. I've never been one to hold in well-deserved compliments, either. Some may see me as bold, or pushy or—"
Brock shot her a bland glare, but pressed on all the same. "Yet I feel a girl should know exactly what a man thinks about her. And yes, I may be a little… clingy, at times, but I do know when to stop. And I know when not to start."
Curious, Misty tilted her head in Brock's direction, face pinched in confusion.
"You know," Brock said conversationally, pointedly ignoring her baffled expression, "I thought you were really cute."
"You— you did?" Her expression momentarily brightened, but the jubilant air quickly became one of suspicion. "You better not be lying to make me feel better."
"Misty, I don't know if you've had a chance to look in a mirror lately, but you've got an incredible body that you've chosen to cover with a belly shirt and short-shorts. I'm surprised when other men don't think you're hot."
He paused when the girl flushed a delighted shade of magenta. "Actually, when they don't is when I start to worry about— uh, anyway. The point is, I was gonna hit on you—don't look at me like that, I really was! But wouldn't you know it, you were traveling with someone. A guy someone."
Misty seemed less than impressed by this excuse. "…so?"
Brock arched an eyebrow. "I don't know how long you bothered to play leader at the Cerulean Gym, but at least in my town, you didn't see a whole ton of co-gender travel parties. Most trainers journeyed on their own. And since you guys didn't have the air of a brother and sister, or even close friends, I figured… well, you can figure out what I figured, right?"
She didn't speak, but her face clearly told him that yes, she could figure out what he'd figured.
"And by the time I'd joined you two and discovered the truth, it was obvious to me that even though nothing was going on between you, you both wished that there was," Brock concluded coolly, twirling his spoon rather like a baton. "Like I said, a gentleman. And a gentleman would never dream of offending friends by flirting with a girl who's clearly not interested or by trying to stake a claim on what plainly belongs to another man."
He flinched, wary of the two thin fingers now gently pinching his earlobe. "Er," Brock backpedaled, laughing nervously, "not that you belong to another man. You know what I mean."
The painful hold vanished. And, to Brock's surprise, it was replaced by a swift peck on the cheek.
"Huh?" He faltered, face heating a bit as Misty pulled away, beaming. "What was that for?"
"For being such a gentleman," the young woman answered with a smile, her blue eyes warm. She patted his head affectionately, her expression more than enough to show Brock how quickly the storm of her emotions had passed. Women. "I'm surprised you haven't had more girlfriends. You always seem to know just what to say."
Brock only just managed to keep from a face-fault and an eyebrow-tic. "You, on the other hand, don't. Thanks for rubbing that in."
But Misty only laughed, rumpling his hair with a shake of her hand. "Oh, don't worry. You'll find her someday, I know it. Good luck, though."
"You too," he grinned, offering a pair of flashed fingers in the traditional v-shape. "You'll need it to crack through that thick skull of his."
"Yeah… hey, Brock?"
"You think maybe the short-shorts are too much?"
"Definitely not." But strangely, the words he spoke seemed just the slightest bit gargled, as if spoken around a smidgen of drool.
"…on second thought, maybe I won't take your advice on that one."
Meanwhile, hidden safely behind the last large tree to ring the small campsite, Ash stood in a pile of what had once been an armful of kindling, his face maroon as he exchanged flustered glances with an (oddly smug) Pikachu.
He refused to admit to being as oblivious as rocks, or as slow as a Slowpoke, but he still hadn't seen that one coming.
"Maybe I should work on my human interaction skills… just a little bit," he mumbled to himself, too distracted by memories of belly shirts and short-shorts to continue down that line of thought.
Out loud, at least.