Disclaimer: I don't own Pokemon.
Ash Ketchum had never really noticed as New Year's Eve and New Year's Day went by. As a child, still at home, the only thoughts he had had of that night were that it was the one day of the year he was allowed to stay awake much past his bedtime, and it was the only night of the year his mother ever drank any alcohol. His mother had never taken him into Pallet to see the fireworks, much less a bigger city; Delia had always claimed that there were far too many drunks there, and it was far too dangerous. As a young child, however, Ash didn't fully grasp the concept of 'drunks', but nonetheless it didn't matter to him. Fireworks were loud and bad, and they were much better when viewed safely on the television from the couch, where his head would droop onto Delia's shoulder as midnight came and went. He would set New Year's resolutions, but, of course, he never kept them.
Then, at the age of ten, he began his Pokemon journey, and what little importance New Year's had held was soon lost. As Ash and his friends travelled around Kanto, Johto, and then later Hoenn, the sole importance of New Year's had been that it was the time they returned to their travels after taking a short break for Christmas. However, this year, he had given in to the pleading (and scolding) of his mother, Misty, Tracey, Professor Oak, and Brock, and he, May, Max, and Brock would be returning to Pallet Town for a New Year's "gathering" the Professor was apparantly hosting. Having finished their travels around Hoenn, Ash and Brock had managed to convince May that Johto could wait, and Max that he didn't need to rush back to Professor Birch immediately.
So it was that Ash, Brock, May, and Max, arrived in Pallet Town the day before New Year's Eve.
And Ash had an inexplicable inkling that this year, New Year's would be different.
"Misty, pass me that vase, would you?" Delia asked, stretching out her hand for the vase in question. It was the 30th of December, the day Ash and the others were due to arrive, so Delia and Misty were helping Tracey and Professor Oak prepare for the party to be held the following night, as they knew that once their guests arrived, the opportunities to tidy up and make the lab ready were sure to be fairly thin on the ground. Ash was reknowned for his laziness, and Brock would have his hands full helping Delia in the kitchen, somewhere Misty dared not tread for fear of poisoning half the guests.
Standing up from where she had been crouching, carefully pinning something to a lower shelf of a bookcase, Misty reached for the vase Delia had mentioned and handed it to her.
Taking it and resting it upon a table against the wall, before carefully arranging the flowers she had bought in it, she proclaimed, "I think we're done. They should be here soon."
Indeed, they were done. The lab had been transformed -- it now looked as if it were a replica of some of the best establishments in the bigger cities, not a place where a disorganized professor and his artistic student might live and study.
Tracey and the Professor rounded the corner at that moment, to see what had become of the loungeroom.
"Ah, very nice, Delia, very nice," Professor Oak commented, casting an approving eye over the room.
Delia blushed lightly. "Thankyou," she said simply, brushing off her skirt.
The Professor checked his watch. "They should be here very soon!" he exclaimed, and then said, more to himself than to the others present, it seemed, "I wonder if Ash and May have caught any new Pokemon since we last saw them."
Breaking himself out of his thoughtful trance, he said, "Come, Delia! Let's go see if they've arrived."
Mrs. Ketchum followed him out of the lab, and Misty was left alone with Tracey. Azurill scampered over from where it had been sitting on the sofa, as Misty crouched down to allow Azurill to climb back into her arms. Tracey cleared his throat awkwardly, and Misty shot him a quizzical look. Was there some reason he was finding it awkward to talk to her? That certainly hadn't happened before; after all, since Misty had left Ash and Brock after the Silver Conference, she had made frequent stops back at Pallet Town to visit Tracey, the Professor, and Ash's mum.
She turned to face him, with one eyebrow raised. "Tracey?"
He rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment. "Er, Misty... isDaisygoingtobetheretomorrownight?"
Misty laughed. "I'm sorry -- I didn't catch that." She had, of course, understood perfectly.
His head hung. "I said, is Daisy going to be there tomorrow night?"
She playfulled shoved his arm, and said, in imitation of her sister's Valleygirl speech, "Like, of course. Come on, let's totally go see if they're here!"
He shoved her back. "Alright, lovebird. Can't wait to see Ashy-boy?"
Already running out the door, Misty stuck her tongue out at him over her shoulder.
May was literally bouncing on the spot as she waited for Misty and Tracey to come outside; the Professor and Ash's mum were already outside the lab with the newly arrived travellers, but both were talking animatedly to Ash and Brock. May supposed that was only fair, as Ash's mum hadn't seen him since... Christmas. Hang on, that was only six days ago! But I guess she is his mum. Shivering as the wind ruffled her dark brown hair, still in its usual tails with her red bandana, she poked Max as she saw Misty emerge from the lab, followed by who could only be Tracey. Even though she'd never met the guy, she had heard Ash talking about their travels through the Orange Islands, and was semi anxious to meet this "Pokemon Watcher". However, she was more excited about seeing Misty again. After their meeting in Hoenn, the two girls had kept in contact and had become fast friends.
"Misty!" she called excitedly. Ash, she noticed, looked away from his mother and Professor Oak at the sound of her cry, and his face split into a wide grin when he saw Misty. May snickered knowingly. Being the romantic she was, she could just tell that Ash was completely and utterly in love with Misty.
Okay, so if Brock hadn't told her, she wouldn't have known, but still.
When Misty reached them she grinned happily, giving everyone in their group an excited hug... except Ash. She stretched out her arms awkwardly as if to hug him, then checked herself, and ruffled his hair instead, causing him to huff in irritation. May supposed it was the closest they could come to being affectionate.
Then something clicked.
It was New Year's Eve tomorrow, right? And weren't people supposed to make supposed New Year's resolutions? May, you've done it again, thought, patting her on the back mentally. Sniggering inwardly, she pulled Misty aside. "Hey, Misty," she said stealthily, shooing Max away. Max shot her a weird look, but sauntered over to talk to Professor Oak nonetheless. "Made any New Year resolutions yet?"
"May, it's the 30th, it's not New Year's until tomorrow!"
"Yes... but! If you decide what it is now, then you have that much time to become even more prepared!"
Misty gave her a sceptical look, but decided to play along, even if it was solely to keep her younger friend amused. "Alright. A New Year's resolution, let's see--what haven't I already done--"
"Tell Ash how you feel about him!" May blurted, not giving Misty a chance to come up with something on her own.
Misty nearly fell foward in shock, before she recovered, and smirked down at May, hand's on her hips. "If you tell Drew."
As if on cue, May's face flashed a brilliant hue of red. "H-He's coming to-tomorrow?" she nearly squeaked.
Misty shook her head in mock disapproval. "Tsk, tsk, May. You didn't even deny it. You need more practice. If I tell him, you tell him--no, too late to deny it now--do we have a deal?"
May's head hung. "Oh, fine," she sighed, holding out her hand for Misty to shake it.
Surprising May, Misty pulled her into a hug. "They won't know what hit them," she said, and then giggled uncharacteristically.
When they broke apart, May shook her outstretched hand. "This will be a New Year's they'll never forget!"
"Come on, let's go introduce you to Tracey!" Misty said, louder though, as she had dropped her voice when talking about Ash, Drew, and how the two of them felt. May tagged along, hair swaying in the wind, before the full impact of what she had just agreed to struck her. She nearly wailed in defeat, her face threatening to blush brilliant red again.
And it was such a brilliant plan, too! Oh, what have I done?
The party was in full swing, and it was half an hour until midnight. Ash, having gotten over his initial surprise at how big the "gathering" actually had turned out to be, was enjoying himself immensely, despite the fact that his mother had expressly forbid him to sample any of the alcoholic drinks that some of their older friends were downing. She had given him a stern lecture on how, at the age of sixteen, he was still much too young for them.
However, the excitement had finally gotten to him and he (and Pikachu) had been able to escape the throng of friends and acquaintances, and were getting some fresh air in the garden outside. The small verandah overlooking the fields where the Pokemon were allowed to roam was done up with fairy lights, nothing too overpowering, but it still gave off a small feeling of celebration. It was not long before he realized that he and his ever faithful Pikachu were not alone. He turned, to see who might have come outside to join him.
A smile broke onto his face when he realized it was Misty.
"Hey, Mist," he greeted her.
He resisted the urge to squint--was she blushing, or was it just that she was flushed from the heat inside the lab?
"Heya, Ash," she replied, coming to lean against the verandah railing next to him.
Ash nearly stumbled. Had she ever been that close to him before? There was barely two inches between them, as they stood side by side.
"What a year, huh," he said, intelligently.
"Yeah..." she trailed off. "Any new year resolutions, Ashy-boy?" she finished teasingly.
He turned to scowl at her. "Don't call me that!"
Her cerulean eyes sparkled with laughter, and his demeanour immediately softened. Damn her and those eyes, he thought. "So maybe I do have a New Year resolution or two," he joked. "But--" and here he made a great show of checking his imaginary watch--"as it isn't midnight yet, you won't find out!"
Misty shoved him playfully. "Oh yeah, well Mr Pokemon Master, I happen to have a New Year's resolution, but as you so nicely pointed out it isn't midnight yet so you don't get to find out!"
"Aw, please, Mist?" he pleaded, giving her the best puppy-dog eyed expression he knew how to produce.
"Ash, stop with the puppy-dog eyes! I swear they don't work on me!"
"You're no fun!" he teased, but they both laughed. At some point, Pikachu had scampered off, leaving the two teenagers alone. When they stopped laughing, Ash went to rest his hands back on the railing, but somehow his hand landed atop Misty's. They blushed and stammered, but somehow neither pulled away, until their talk picked up once again.
With fifteen minutes left until midnight, a rose landed in May's hands.
She looked up, and sure enough, there stood her cocky, arrogant, rival.
Resolutely banishing the blush from her cheeks, she remarked, "Made it after all, Drew?"
"Yeah. Couldn't resist the opportunity to make fun of you while there were ample things to trip over and --heaven forbid-- drinks." Then there was, of course, the trademark smirk and hair-flip that really got on May's nerves.
"Oh yeah?! Well, for once maybe you should shut your big mouth and --"
She was cut off by another smirking remark. "What's your New Year resolution this time, May? I hope it's something you can keep. Not anything like, 'become a better co-ordinator'."
May could only glare at him angrily. For once, she was devoid of comebacks. Truth be told, she was actually a little tired--though she'd never let him know. Her hands clenched into fists. However, she was surprised when Drew walked off, and turned, motioning for her to follow.
Twirling the thornless, flawless, rose in her hands, she immediately rememberd her promised resolution to Misty and felt herself blushing. Toying with the idea of running, she inevitably decided to follow her green-haired rival and (dare she even think it to herself) crush.
It was thirty seconds to midnight.
Misty had managed to convince Ash to tell her about the last adventures in Hoenn that he had had after she had left once more, and they had spent the last few minutes reminiscing about past times and thinking about what was to come. She knew that Ash would want to explore the new region, Sinnoh, but the thought saddened her--would she ever be able to travel with him again?
She noticed Ash was fidgeting uncomfortably. "Am I a chicken if I don't go follow my New Year's resolution, Misty?"
"Of course not--there's always next year," she replied.
He returned to his study of the darkened fields, and Misty was left to wonder what on Earth he had meant.
"Going to continue on to Johto, May?" Drew asked suddenly, as May was wondering how they had suddenly become so friendly--they had actually managed not to fight for the better part of half an hour.
"Of course," she replied instantly. "But what's a contest without a rival, hey, Drew?" she asked.
He laughed quietly. "Indeed, a contest without a rival isn't nearly as fun. I'll be there."
And then he gave her the first genuine smile he had bestowed on her that she could remember in a long time.
A moment of silence reigned. Then the sounds of chanting could be heard from the lab. "The countdown's starting, Drew!" May squealed excitedly. "New Year's is so exciting!"
"You're such a kid, May!" Drew retorted, but without some of the usual venom his insults carried.
As if to prove his point, she stuck her tongue out childishly. "So?"
"Should we go inside?" he asked.
"It's quieter here."
"Good point." He turned to her, but his gaze dropped to the rose she was holding. "May, what if I told you that those weren't for Beautifly? That they were for you?"
Oh my God.
"We were such little kids when we were travelling together, weren't we, Ash?" Misty laughed.
"Were? We still are!" Ash retorted, the smile that Misty both hated and loved flashing across his face.
"True, true," she replied. Then she bit her lip nervously. I can't believe I'm going to do this.
"Misty, don't get angry at me, okay? It was a New Year thing, it doesn't have to mean anything, I mean, we're best friends, right?"
"Of course I'm not going to get angry at you, Ash. I understand."
The roses were for her? Was this a dream? Was he for real? Of course, everyone had always said they were, but it had seemed so unlikely. May was torn--could she actually go through with what she was about to do? Well, if the roses were for her, then there was that much more chance he wouldn't care.
"Drew, if you told me that the roses weren't for my Pokemon, but for me, then, I wouldn't care."
"What?" he stammered.
"I really like you, more than as a rival," she said, extremely quickly, her words all jumbled together.
And then she kissed him on the cheek, and Drew, for once, was left speechless.
Ash was nervous. Really nervous. He couldn't believe that he was about to do what he had resolved to do. But then, when had Ash Ketchum ever backed down from a challenge? With this encouraging thought in mind, he hesitantly reached out to touch Misty's cheek. Her eyes widened in shock before she leaned into his touch.
"Ash? What're you--"
Just as the fireworks went off and the new year began, Misty's question was cut off as Ash kissed her. The kiss was chaste but sweet, and it opened Misty's eyes up to the fact that, perhaps, Ash was not as dense as he had seemed. As they broke apart, she saw Ash was grinning from ear to ear, that smile that Misty found she loved so much. Her raven-haired companion was extremely happy. She hadn't pushed him away, she hadn't scorned him, there was not going to be a gaping, awkward hole where their friendship had once been. He rested his forehead against hers. "You've no idea how long I've wanted to do that," he said finally.
She laughed quietly. "Probably not as long as I've waited for you to," she replied.
And for the first time, as he held Misty tightly to him, Ash found that there was, in fact, a reason that he had found to remember New Year's Eve.
A/N: Started off well, dunno how it finished. I wrote the start (for those of you who play WoW, you will understand, for those of you who don't... well... skip this next phrase and go on to the next) while I was healing heroics; naughty, I know. I wrote the middle while I was high on sugar, and the end while I was really tired. But there you have it; a short (hopefully cute), one-shot featuring two awesome shippings: Pokeshipping and Contestshipping.
I hope you liked it :)