A/n: This was an inadvertent challenge by Latonya Wright. I was ranting about twelve-year-olds saying "I love you," and she happened to wonder under what circumstances I would have Ash and Misty confess their love. So there you go, an explanation and plot summary all at once. Btw, there's a reference...err, okay, a self-plagiarism...of a scene in one of my other fics in here, but it's a different situation, it's got a different ending, and it occurred because one of the paragraphs I began writing ended up being three pages long, so please forgive me. -_-'
Please R&R—anyone who reviews gets an imaginary ten-foot tall Hershey kiss from me, how's that for incentive? And as I'm currently stressed out about next semester's class schedule, all flames will be directed to the registrar. With that said, enjoy! ^_~
My stomach was in knots—when I wasn't sick to my stomach, that is. I was sweaty all over—when I wasn't busy shaking with the chills. My breath was ragged—at least when I remembered to breathe. And my mind wouldn't function at all—though Misty would say that if this was a symptom, then I was sick every day.
I didn't have the flu. I had that other cliché-ridden illness. I was in love.
Don't get me wrong; this in itself was not a bad thing. In fact, I was quite happy to be in love. Almost sappy, even—hey, that rhymed. Anyway. I'm not talking about a dumbstruck 'love at first sight' love, either. This was a slow (but sure) growing love that had matured over the last five years into what it was today. And what that was...
Okay, that I'm not sure about. I was sure I was in love, and I figured that was as good a starting place as any. Misty would chastise me for that argument if she heard me saying it. I never think ahead, she would say. I'm never practical or rational. I need to use my head just as much as I use my heart.
At least, she would say that until I told her what I was talking about. I can see it now. Yes, Misty, that's right—I love you. It's the one of the few times that she would be rendered speechless. She would be amazed at my caring, compassionate nature. She'd probably pick up my hand, stare at the pinkie finger, and tease me that this must have been where my romantic bone was stored all along. She wouldn't believe that I had actually managed to say the words aloud to her...
And neither would I, for that matter.
And that's the problem. I like to be loved, and I like being in love. But saying the words I love you? No problem—yeah, right. This coming from a guy whose best pick-up line was "I'll pay you back for that bike!"
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the expectations placed upon me with this statement. Girls are weird about things like that. I like girls—I fell in love with one. But the girl I'm in love with nearly had a nervous breakdown because her first kiss wasn't special enough. Who knows what she was expecting from the words I love you? A romantic candlelight dinner wouldn't be enough, that was expected. So was a dozen roses to accompany the announcement. A carriage ride in the moonlight would be a nice touch, except...
Don't write me off as losing my romantic bone yet. It's just that all that stuff is traditional. It may be romantic, but it happens to everyone. The girl I loved deserved and would expect to have her own special moment. I had to come up with something so spectacular that she would write ten pages in her diary that night recounting every detail so she would remember it for the rest of her life. Something so incredible that every time she told the story to her girlfriends, they would 'oo' and 'ah' and say, "How romantic! You're so lucky, Misty...why can't my boyfriend be like Ash?"
Which would promptly put me on the hit list of every guy who got berated when the girls went home that night and wanted to know why their boyfriends didn't bring them flowers. And girls wonder why guys find it so hard to say I love you...
Complicating matters was the girl I had to say this too. I've become a pretty popular person over the course of my journeys. It doesn't hurt that I'm arguably one of the best pokémon masters in the world at the ripe young age of nineteen (I'm still working on being the best, but that's pretty good for now.) It took me four years to become a pokémon master, and then an additional two to become pokémon league champion, a title that I've defended for the past three years—the most anyone has kept the title for the last ten years. I'm practically undefeated—though we won't talk about the Champion's Cup right now. Going head to head with fifteen other previous champions is not a cup of tea, though it is a good ego check.
Misty's well known herself, but for a reason that irks the devil out of her. She's an excellent trainer herself—the year after I became champion, she won the Pokémon league and managed to defeat all of the elite four herself. I was so proud of her—then of course, she had to challenge me. Obviously, if I'm still champion, I won. But the point is, she's one of the world's top trainers herself, name worthy in her own right.
But is she a pokémon master to everyone else? No, she's Ash's girlfriend. The pokémon league champion's girlfriend. One of the best pokémon masters in the world's girlfriend. And to some girls...competition. I'm viewed as a pretty good "catch." I go to matches and the people in the stands yell "I love you, Ash!" I get fan mail saying the same thing. Some people have actually sent me marriage proposals...and for her, death threats!
Both are crazy, but ever time the latter happens, I become absolutely, and I mean totally and completely, infuriated. While she laughs. She thinks it's hilarious and says that if they knew the real me, they'd give her sainthood instead.
That's because after all these years, she refuses to take note of my fame or position. She's very proud of me, and she admits now that I'm one of the best, which is a big change from when we first met. But you'd think that over the course of nine years, our relationship might have changed. You'd think that once we were a couple—especially a couple of five years—we'd have stopped our (mostly) play fighting. We'd be nice and sweet and lovey-dovey and wonder how we ever could have thought any differently.
You'd think wrong.
When we first started going out I had thought that I had to alter my behavior. I gave her compliments every day. I picked wildflower bouquets for her, and I brought her candy just because I missed her. What did Misty do? She set me straight pretty quickly.
She accepted the compliments because she already believed them about herself. She took the flowers and complained because they weren't roses. And she ate the candy, then became paranoid that she was going to get fat and refused to eat anything on our dates because she was on a diet. Every nice thing I did was repaid with teasing and insults. After a few weeks of that, obviously, I had to do something. I teased her back.
I swear, I may be the reigning pokémon league champion, but she's the world's best insult queen. I used to be able to hold my own with her, but after admitting that I cared about her, I haven't been able to reach the same level of sarcasm as I did before. Of course, she had no problem with this. But I know she cares too. She doesn't call me stupid anymore (though idiotic slips in every once in a while) and even threw away her mallet.
But she's there when I need her most. And that's what's most important to me.
Three years ago I was shaken badly. I had been lucky for most of my six years of training. My pokémon had given me some close scares, but I had never lost one...until the hurricane that struck Pallet town and the surrounding areas. And ironically enough, it wasn't the hurricane that claimed the victim closest to me. It was the aftermath.
The hurricane was scary but survivable. I boarded up the windows on our house and then mom and I drove over to Professor Oak's. (I worked a few hours a week for him as an assistant—I may be League champion, but I still had a lot to learn.) I called Misty to tell her to be careful, and then we helped the Professor make sure that everything on the reserve was secure and that all the pokémon were in their poké-balls. Then we went down to the basement to wait until the hurricane passed us by.
During the eye of the storm Professor Oak went up to check on the pokémon but made me stay down with my mom—I think it was because of her, as well, as she was trying not to worry but not succeeding very well. When the storm was over I walked her home, leaving our car at the Professor's—the roads were impassable to drive. Our house had a broken window or two, and her garden was in ruins, but everything was still standing. We had been fortunate.
After checking the phone lines and finding them dead, I took action to get my mind off things. I gave mom a kiss on the cheek and then began looking around the surrounding trees and forests for any pokémon that were hurt or lost, particularly those the Professor and I had released. I had my pokémon out to help me search and told them all to be careful—the storm had made a lot of changes to the terrain. Trees were down everywhere, and our river, that normally didn't look big enough to be called a river, was twice its normal width and crashed and roared downstream at a frightening speed.
We were walking along the riverbank when I spotted a rattata that was clinging to a branch halfway submerged in the rushing waters. I tried getting Bulbasaur to use his vine whip to save it, but the rattata panicked and almost fell in. I would have to try myself. There was another heavy branch near it, just close enough for me to held on to it tightly and so, holding my breath, I waded in.
It was cold—and the current's swiftness nearly knocked me off my feet. I kept a firm grip and tried to wrap my feet around the branch, using it to crawl down towards the rattata. But I felt less sturdy this way, and so I tried to put my feet down. But the river was too fast. Before I could stand up again, my hand touched a slick spot on the log. And suddenly I lost my grip and went under.
I felt the branch whiz by—or rather myself fly past the branch as I lost my support and was caught up in the torrential rapids. I resurfaced briefly but was coughing so hard that I could hardly even breathe before being swept under again. My mind was clouded and the current made it impossible to even try to save myself. I was in too much shock to believe that I was going to die—but it would have taken a miracle to save me.
Or a sacrifice...
I felt a nudge, then a harder shove. I gasped as I resurfaced and was knocked closer to the bank. I went under again, and then once more, but my rescuer was persistent. Within moments I was able to touch my feet to the shallow end of the riverbed, though I couldn't regain my balance enough to walk to the shore. But even as I was being swept downstream I was being pushed closer and closer to the banks, until finally I stumbled on to shore and fell gasping onto the grass. I turned around only to see my savior, one of my best friends, unable to make it up himself and be swept away in front of my eyes.
I screamed his name and ran beside the river, stumbling as I did so, still weak from my struggle. A minute passed...five minutes passed...ten. By the time thirty minutes had passed I had followed the river for almost a mile and was crying. I reached the stream that was a tributary from the river, its flow heavy but much less turbulent than the river. In the middle of the two bodies of water was an island—and in the middle of the island lay one of my best friends.
I waded through the stream. My steps were careful—the water could be forded, and I did so, but I was too exhausted to fight it again if I fell. I knelt down at the body of my rescuer and felt the tears flow. He lay still and wasn't breathing. I don't know how it was that I found him—the odds were so slim—but I was glad. I needed closure. He had been with me since the beginning and was loyal to the end, and that had cost him his life.
I cradled his body in my arms the entire walk home. I called my other pokémon back, and they followed me, silently and soberly, in an odd funeral procession. I don't think I ever stopped crying. When I reached my house, Misty was waiting at the door for me, and my tears become those of both grief and relief. I had been worried about her—I had already lost one of the friends I loved. I didn't want to lose another.
She didn't say anything—she just took me in her arms and held me. We walked inside and I watched as she went into the closet and pulled out a towel and a box. She carefully arranged the towel, then nodded at me. I knelt down and wordlessly placed my friend's body inside the box. When I stood back up, my world was blurred with tears.
Misty led me over to the sofa and rocked me as I cried, stroking my hair and pressing her hand against my cheek to brush away the tears. She let me cry as long as I needed, and then I talked. Why didn't I do anything differently? Why did I have to take such a big risk? Why couldn't I have saved him? She hugged me and comforted me, told me that I didn't do anything wrong. Told me that even if Bulbasaur knew he was going to die beforehand, my pokémon loved me so much that he would have done it anyway. When I recovered, we walked out to the backyard together. She stood off to the side as I dug a grave, and then we carefully buried Bulbasaur underneath my mom's favorite rose bush, which had been stripped of leaves and flowers but was still standing, even after the storm. A sign? I leaned my head on Misty's shoulder, taking strength from her presence. She pulled me around and we stood together silently, just holding each other.
After a time I asked her, "Did he know that I loved him?"
"I know he did," she said. "They all do."
"But maybe I never told him..."
Misty shushed me. "It doesn't have to be said. We just know."
We just know...
Misty and I were more affectionate than usual for a while, though our relationship eventually turned back to normal. Well, almost normal. After what we had gone through, no matter how many insults she would throw at me...
Somehow, they just never hurt like they did before.
This was why she was so special...why I loved her. She may seem a little rough around the edges, but when it came down to it, she was the most caring and loving person I knew, next to my mom. And this was why she deserved a special night for me to tell her that I loved her. I had figured out exactly what to do to make the night perfect.
I would take her to a fancy restaurant, give her roses, and take her on a carriage ride through the park afterwards.
...oh, shut up. You try to think of anything else to do in Pallet town. I love my hometown, but it's not even big enough to be on a map. Professor Oak is the only reason anyone even knows where it is. Well, okay, I might have had something to do with that as well. But try as I might, I couldn't come up with anything more original. However, Misty and I had never been to a really fancy dinner before. Well, there were those award banquets...but we had never been to one alone, at least. And not in a restaurant setting. So it would be special to us.
I called her. We had moved back to our own homes after I became Pokémon League Champion. I thought it would be weird, after traveling together for so long, but it just turned out to be practical. We each had different interests to pursue, and besides, we still saw each other every weekend. It's amazing the effect a driver's license has on a long distance relationship.
The phone rang, and I heard a rather disgruntled voice pick up. "Cerulean City Gym."
"What do you want?"
"Um...to say hello?"
"Ash Ketchum, I'm kind of busy here."
"Love you too."
See, that's as close as I'd gotten. It'd be nice if I could ever say it without her laughing at me, though. Even if it did diffuse the tension now. She giggled and I could tell by her voice that she relaxed. I pictured her leaning against the wall, cradling the phone against her shoulder as she absentmindedly refixed her ponytail. Her hair had grown long, almost reaching her waist. It was partly because she liked long hair, and partly because she wanted to have one thing about her looks that she considered 'better' than her sisters. She may not realize it, but while she was just as pretty as they were, what I liked best was that she still wore her hair back in a simple ponytail and never wore make-up. Her beauty was completely natural. I had been stupid not to realize it when I was a kid.
"Sorry," she was saying now. "It's just that we've got a lot of visitors in the gym today."
"I'll make it quick then. Are you busy Saturday night?"
"I had plans..."
"...to be with you, silly! I always keep my weekends free."
"Of course. At least, when I don't have to go to a water show, or tournament, or exhibition, or gym workshop, or battle, or conference..."
She giggled sheepishly. "I guess we're both busy."
"You can say that again...but, since you said you weren't busy Saturday night, I was wondering if you wanted to go out to eat."
"Sure. What did you have in mind?"
"Well...I already made reservations at The Loft, if that's okay with you."
"Yeah. You said you wanted to go there sometime."
"I do! But...you can afford it?"
"Sure. The Professor gave me some extra hours." As in, twenty...this evening was going to be very expensive...
"Wow! That'd be great. I've got this little black dress I've been dying to wear somewhere."
...but that just made it all worth it.
"The reservations are for seven-thirty, so can I pick you up at seven?"
"Okay. Hey, Ash...oh wait, hold on a minute." I heard a conversation going on in the background for a moment, and then Misty was back. "Shoot, we have a challenger. I have to go." Misty usually battled for the badges by virtue of the fact that she was a pokémon league champion. "I'm sorry the conversation was so short."
"That's okay. We can talk more on Saturday."
"Right. Okay...take care now."
I hung up and smiled. I always wanted to end with an "I love you." Maybe after Saturday, I could...
Phase one of Operation I Love You was done. On Friday I went into town to take care of phase two. Pikachu was with me. We were still best friends but I had a lot of time to myself nowadays, as Pikachu liked to hang around Professor Oak's and visit Elvira, Professor Oak's female pikachu. Professor Oak and I expected a handsome litter of Pichu to come out of that relationship soon. But for now, we were both content to enjoy each other's company as we walked to the downtown florist, as I had to shell out some of my hard-earned cash on some roses. I was working for the Professor all day Saturday and couldn't pick them up beforehand—I'd have to put them in the refrigerator and pray they didn't wilt.
The florist looked up at the sound of the bell. "Hello, and welcome to the Roqué Bouquet...my goodness, if it isn't the twerp!"
"I'm not a twerp!" I growled at Jessie. She and James had gone straight and opened their own florist shop about the same time I became a pokémon master. We had seen each other since then, because I bought Misty flowers from here. But Jessie always made a big deal out of our meeting. It annoyed me—and I think that's why she did it.
Pikachu wandered off to inspect some baby's breath—hmm, maybe I should mention that to the professor—about the same time that Jessie asked, "How's the girlfriend twerp?"
"She's not my girlfr..." Oops. Gut reaction around Team Rocket. "I mean, Misty's doing fine. I came to buy her some roses."
"Roses?" Jessie squealed. "What kind?"
"A dozen red roses."
"Red? Ooo..." Jessie wiggled her eyebrows at me. That was very disturbing.
"Red is the color of passion, you know..."
"Uh...I knew that." Passion? I wondered if I should be worried about the roses I had given my mom for Mother's Day for all these years...
"Then you and Misty are passionate?" She continued to tease.
I squirmed. I was uncomfortable with Team Rocket...err...well, former Team Rocket... knowing the details of our private lives. Imagine that. "I...guess you could say that."
"Wow." Jessie gave me a knowing look and thumped me on the back. "I don't believe it. Our little twerp is growing up and taking the next step, isn't he?"
"The next step?" I asked stupidly.
"You know. The next step, the big dive, the home run?"
"Home run? Misty doesn't like baseball."
She gave me a look. "I mean, you're going all the way."
"All the way where?" And then it clicked and my eyes widened. "I...Jessie! Ewww!" I buried my head in my hands, as I'm sure my face was beet red. Okay, so the thought wasn't ewww. It was rather...enticing, actually. But the idea of sharing that fact with Jessie?
I shuddered again.
"It's not that," I told her. "It's just...I love her. And I'm gonna tell her that," I said meekly.
Evidently to Jessie, that was just as good as having sex. "Awwwww!"
What it is with girls and their insistence on saying awwwww? I swear, they have the same reaction whether they see a baby or gourmet chocolate bar. Awwwww...
Meanwhile Jessie was having a conniption. "Awwwww! Our little twerp is growing up and saying I love you! James! Get out here!"
"What?" James wandered out from the back.
"Ashy-boy needs three dozen red roses. Go get them for him. Now." James obediently went into the backroom and came back out with his arms full of roses. Running his own business had given him more backbone. Having Jessie as a girlfriend had taken it away again.
"Three dozen?" I sputtered as he reappeared. I had been hoping I misheard her. "Jessie, I said one dozen!"
"This is a special occasion," she said as James handed me the roses. I tried not to take them but I couldn't refuse without dropping them. I held them gingerly, looking at her in disbelief.
"I can't afford three dozen roses! I'd have to take her to dinner at McDonald's instead of The Loft!"
"The Loft?" Both Jessie and James squealed.
"That's pretty fancy," James added.
"He's telling the girl twerp that he loves her," Jessie said.
"Awwwww..." James said.
That guy worries me.
"Jessie, I can't pay for these," I said again.
"You don't have to. They're free."
"Free?!" I gaped at her. Their group hardly had enough to eat while they were on Team Rocket, and now they're giving away three dozen roses? Business had obviously improved.
"Of course. It's not every day that our twerps grow up and confess their love to each other."
Our twerps? For the first time I noticed that...time to go.
"Uh, well, thanks a bunch," I said hastily, trying to back up.
"You mean like a bunch of flowers?" James said, and they both giggled.
Uh-oh, bad Team Rocket puns. Definitely time to go...
"Sure. See you later."
I walked out and wiped my brow, then furrowed it. I had the funny feeling I was forgetting something. But what? I had gotten what I had come to get...oh, yeah. I glared at the door furiously. Like that would help. I'm sure the door was quivering with fear.
"Hey! Give me back my Pikachu!" I yelled.
The door cracked open slightly. "Can't we keep him once? For old times' sake?"
"Oh well. Can't blame a girl for trying."
The door opened completely and my disgruntled pokémon walked out, twitching his tail in annoyance at the figure behind him. Jessie tossed him a rose to make up for it—he'd probably give it to Elvira. He picked it up and was slightly pacified, though he still shot me a look and gave an annoyed, "Pika pika." Some things never change.
"Tell me about it."
Stayed tuned for the conclusion within the next few days...but while you're waiting, is anyone here a Harry Potter fan as well, and have you seen the new movie? I'm hoping to go next weekend...feel free to tell me in your review how great/good/okay/bad/horrible it is...