To be honest, Misty never thought he'd have it in him.

When she fished him out of the river; he could hardly control his Pikachu.

Moments later, he took off with her bike, claiming he needed it as he disappeared into the dark night. "I'll bring it back someday!"

Her words made her grit her teeth. He'd bring it back someday . . . wrong answer. Grumbling to herself, the red head decided to follow the inexperienced black haired trainer. When she found her shiny red bike charred to a crisp and lying forgotten on the side of the road, made her see red.

"My bike . . ." she mumbled, words failing her. "Oh – he's going to pay for this!" She yelled, picking the bike up. "And all I wanted was a new Water type," she mumbled, shaking her head.

Upon catching up with him in the Pokémon Center, she had decided that Ash Ketchum was black listed.

In her mind, Ash Ketchum would amount to nothing.

He wouldn't collect the eight badges.

He wouldn't compete in the Indigo League.

His dream of being a Pokémon Master was far away.

But, her big mouth proved her wrong.

A week after following him around, they made it through the Viridian Forest and onto the cobbled streets of Pewter City. Being a gym leader herself, she knew the black haired trainer was out of luck. Pidgeotto, Butterfree and Pikachu wouldn't stand a change against Rock types. It didn't surprise her when he failed the first time he battled there. Brock Slate was known to be intimidating. That was why Misty had offered him the use of Staryu and Starmie, but instead he decided to listen to the rock-seller's Flint's idea of supercharging Pikachu at the old mill.

It wasn't long after that that Ash won the Boulder Badge.

In her mind, he won on a technicality.

With the badge pinned to his coat and Brock joining them, she couldn't help but cringe inwardly. With one badge to his name; he'd try to get the next one. They'd be heading to Cerulean City.

That means I'll have to see them, Misty thought inwardly, curling her nose up.

Upon traipsing through Mount Moon with the Cerulean sign before them, did Misty finally try to separate herself from the two. She wasn't going home until she became the Water Pokémon Master . . . there was no way she could face them yet. Ash and Brock didn't know who she really was and they didn't really need to know either. Telling them she'd meet them on the edge of town, she disappeared from their side, opting to watch the two from a distance. She shook her head though as the two went their separate ways; her sisters' water ballet posters littering the town. Frowning at Ash, she slowly started to follow him, winding her way through the familiar streets. Within minutes, Misty found herself standing before the colourful gym; the large Dewgong glinting in the sunlight.

"I have no choice now," she grumbled, a groan escaping her lips.

Ash owed her for this – alongside a new bike.

Once inside, she rolled her eyes, gritting her teeth as she saw her sisters' trying to just give Ash a badge. Imagine if the Pokémon League found out . . . she shook her head. That was how she found herself battling Ash; her Staryu beating Butterfree. But, before she knew it, Team Rocket had made their appearance.

That was how he got the Cascade Badge.

Daisy said he deserved it after all that had happened.

Misty just sighed, throwing her hands up; Ash was in for a rude awakening.

After adding the likes of Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle and Krabby to his Pokémon team; Ash decided it was time to challenge the Vermillion Gym.

As Pikachu rested at the Pokémon Center, Misty decided Ash was over his head. That Rattata was the fifteenth challenger against Lt. Surge that month; and since it was the tenth of July; that was impressive. Upon their arrival at the gym; she wasn't surprised that Ash lost to Surge. Suddenly his two badges weren't that impressive – which she'd known all along anyway. When Nurse Joy offered Ash the Thunder Stone; Misty thought he might actually take her up on the offer, although it would be strange without Pikachu walking beside them. But, they decided to take Raichu down without evolving. With the help of Brock, the three of them headed back to Vermillion's Gym knowing that Raichu didn't have the agility Pikachu had.

It didn't surprise her then when Ash managed to pull a win, the Thunder badge pinned next to the Cascade badge. Misty had to smile as she caught sight of the gleaming badge – he'd finally won his first badge.

As they left the gym however, she couldn't help but wonder what Ash would have done without Brock's help. Misty had shrugged it off though; now all Ash had to do was keep it up.

With his third badge pinned securely to his coat, they decided to take a break in the Pokémon Center. After wandering through the forests between Cerulean and Vermillion for almost two weeks, the idea of a soft and cushy bed was heaven. However, free tickets for the Pokémon Trainer's cruise aboard the St. Anne were even better; at least until the ship sunk. To make matters worse, upon their escape of the doomed ship, James's Magikarp turned Gyardos turned on them, effectively shipwrecking them on the Island of Giant Pokémon amusement park – which they didn't know at the time. After narrowly escaping being crushed by robotic Pokémon, they found up in Hutber Port, but instead of relaxing like they planned, Tentacool and Tentacruel appeared with a vengeance to destroy Nastina's plans.

"She deserved that," Misty could only say with a shrug, holding her Horsea closer to her. "That's just –"

"I don't see how you could find them cute," Ash muttered, rolling his eyes at the red haired teen.

Brock sighed, shrugging his shoulders as the two bickered while the ship docked in Maiden's Peak. Where, just their luck, Brock was almost spirited away by the fabled Ghost of Maiden's Peak.

After almost three weeks later, with the goodbye of Butterfree weighing on their minds, they finally made it through the forest limits, the gates of Saffron City looming overhead.

"Finally," Misty had exclaimed, flopping down onto one of the parks' benches. "I can't take anymore sinking ships and haunted towns."

Ash let out a laugh, smirking at the red head. "Well, you can always go home, then, Misty."

"No way!" She yelled, her fiery temper getting the better of her as she sprung up from the bench, eyes narrowed in Ash's direction. "I haven't forgotten about the bike you owe me!"

After escaping another of Team Rocket's plans, followed by a warning from a jogger, Misty's doubts were confirmed. Sabrina wouldn't be the type to just hand over a badge. Once inside, the strange things she'd heard about the green haired trainer proved right; but naturally, Ash had taken it with a grain of salt. It came of no surprise to her when Ash lost, what her surprised her, however, was when they changed into play dolls and tossed in a dollhouse. After their escape – with the help of that jogger – the only advice they could get was to give up the Pokémon dream or find a Ghost Type.

The next thing Misty knew they were entering the haunted Lavender City.

If the name wasn't enough, the ghostly screams were enough to convince her to avoid the Tower of Terror.

But, naturally, Ash had decided to go inside alone and came out with a Haunter.

Fate was going to prove Misty wrong.

Once back in Saffron, Haunter had ended up pulling a disappearing act, leaving Ash stranded with the prospect of being turned into a doll again.

That was until Haunter mysteriously appeared (where had it been anyway?) and managed to break through Sabrina's cool exterior.

Apparently, that made Ash worthy of a badge.

This time, Misty found herself agreeing with the idea. She didn't want to be a doll forever.

Upon leaving the city – and finding themselves targeted by Primeape – they found themselves standing outside Celadon City.

Wandering through the cobbled streets Misty wondered about this Gary Oak Ash spoke about now and again. After speaking to Professor Oak and learning that Gary had five badges and thirty Pokémon to Ash's four badges and seven Pokémon made her wonder.

Deep down, Misty wanted to see a match between the two rivals.

After Ash got kicked out of the perfume shop by the manager and denied entrance to the Celadon Gym, she thought his luck was changing. Sure, she had rolled her eyes at the idea – it did sound silly – but at least he finally had to work for a badge. However, when Pikachu thunder shocked him at the Pokémon Training Class revealing that Ash was Ashley . . . he'd sunk to a whole new low. That wasn't exactly what she had in mind, but it got him the gym battle he desired.

Before she knew it, Ash had a Rainbow Badge.

The thought of it made her want to knock Erika.

Yes, it was courageous to save Gloom from the fire Team Rocket started. She could see the reasoning behind it. It was just the fact he got five badges so easily that irked her.

It made Misty wonder what Gary's gym battles looked like.

After solving the mystery of disappearing children because of Hypno's sleep waves and dissolving Salon Roquet in Cesear Street they eventually reached the outskirts of Fuchsia City. It was probably only another day's walk.

"Finally," Misty had chirped, hearing Brock's words. "I'm so tired of getting lost."

Ash frowned, glaring over at the red head. "Why do you look at me when you say that?"

Misty shrugged; a smirk on her features. "Well, you are the one who always gets sidetracked with a Pokémon –"

"That's my job," Ash cut her off, but the red head wasn't listening.

"Or this trainer, or that wrong turn."

"It's part of the journey!" Ash retorted, balling his hands into fists, his voice rising.

"Oh yeah?" Misty shouted back, narrowing her eyes. "Well, if I had my bike –"

"Be quiet about that – is that all you can talk about?"

"Knock it off you guys!" Brock said, cutting them off as he stored his book in his bag. "We're not getting anywhere now."

Blinking, the two had realized they'd come to a complete stop.

Before they know it; they'd been talked into competing P1 Grand Prix, setting them back another day. With the loss of Primeape and the capture of Muk, they had Fuchsia in sight until they got wrapped up in a scheme to get rid of the Diglot in order to build a dam.

It was then Misty met Gary for the first time; which only strengthened her desire to see a battle between the rivals.

Finally, a week after their scheduled arrival, did they arrive in the sixth city.

Upon finding, and entering, a mansion located in the forest on the outskirts of Fuchsia did Misty find herself strangely reminiscent of the Pokémon Tower in Lavender Town. After falling prey to a host of sketchy traps which ended with Ash being attacked by throwing stars by the ninja Aya. However, it wasn't until after beating her that the real Gym Leader Koga appeared.

And, just like clockwork, Team Rocket made their appearance. With some quick thinking by Koga's Voltorb and Psyduck's Confusion, the eccentric team blasted off once again.

Here we go again, Misty thought idly, as Koga mentioned Psyduck's confusion would merit a soul badge.

Thankfully, he proved her wrong by making Ash fight his Golbat. With Chamander's firespin making contact, Ash achieved his sixth badge.

"I should have gotten one too," Misty mumbled to herself as Koga mentioned her Psyduck again. "It's so not fair."

Upon traipsing through the Safari Zone, almost losing Pikachu, having a Jigglypuff following them intently and the discovery – and battle – for Togepi did they wind up on Cinnabar Island.

"I never thought we'd make it here!" Misty exclaimed, stepping off the boat.

Spending two months getting sidetracked between Fuchsia and Cinnabar was just . . . ridiculous.

Gary must have all the gym badges by now, she thought idly, glancing warily at Ash.

Like she'd mention that to Ash though.

After learning that Gary was right and Cinnabar Island was nothing more then a tourist trap, Misty could see Ash's resolve slightly wavering. It only became more obvious as they met a man on the pier who showed them the run down and destroyed Pokémon Gym.

With only a card with riddles to The Big Riddle Inn, they eventually wound their way through the tourist packed Island, stopping at the top of a hill overlooking the town.

"What would you have done without me?" Misty commented, bringing her fork to her lips. "You'd still be wandering around this town . . . lost and confused . . ." she trailed off, shaking her head, smirking in Ash's direction.

"Shut up Misty," he grumbled, scowling at her.

Upon saving the Pokémon Lab from Team Rocket's plans, the Inn's owner gave them yet another riddle to finding Blaine's new, hidden Gym. As per usual, during their relaxation in the hot springs, the riddle became clear as they found themselves face to face with a hidden wall in the side of the Volcano.

"Seriously Ash, you'd be doomed without me," Misty commented, shrugging her shoulders.

All she got in a return was a scowl.

It didn't surprise her when Ash was losing two to one – while Squirtle was a good choice, using Charizard make Misty question his thinking. With Pikachu cornered between the magma and Magmar, she was surprised to hear Ash say the words; I quit. It wasn't something she thought was in his vocabulary.

As the ground rumbled underfoot from Team Rocket's newest scheme, the destruction of Blaine's gym and the thought of the Volcano erupting as lava gushed around them, did Misty's thoughts prove true.

If this kept up, Ash wouldn't become a Pokémon Master – he'd regrettably become collateral damage.

She shook the thought away. If Ash was going to be collateral damage . . . then so was she. She blinked, clutching Togepi to her as she glanced from Magmar and Blaine to Ash and Brock, Charizard lazing behind them.

She was going to live through this.

She still had to prove to her sisters that she was going to be the Water Pokémon Master.

She had to surpass them.

As the Volcano stabilized itself with the efforts of Charizard, Magmar, Geodude and Onix, did Blaine agree to grant Ash his battle once again.

Misty wanted to hit the Pokémon Trainer as he asked Blaine if Charizard's act, would grant him a badge. As Blaine laughed, brushing off Ash's comment, all she could think was; if you really knew . . .

Ash had really only fought for the Boulder and Thunder Badge (she didn't include the Marsh Badge due to Haunter), other then that, his badges had been given to him for various deeds.

With Charizard fighting a fiery battle with Magmar atop the volcano, Ash finally got his hands upon the Volcano Badge, pinning it beside the others. Deciding to head to Viridian City for the Earth Badge; did Ash jolt Misty's memory to their fighting at the beginning.

"Ash!" Misty yelled, hands balled into fists as she glared at the retreating teen. "You owe me – I want my bike back!"

"C'mon Misty, it can't be important if you forgot about it."

Brock sighed, following after the two, their loud voices earning them the stares of the locals.

Upon missing the boat off the Island, the trio found themselves face to face with a sleeping Blastoise, Jigglypuff's song and another scheme from Team Rocket. The plan was to head straight to the Viridian Gym until Horsea fell ill and they ended up detouring to Cerulean – where Misty ended up in roped into her sisters' play.

"I can't believe it," Misty sighed, casting a quick glance through the curtains. "Why do I have to wear this . . ." It was actually worse then the Goldeen costume she had to wear months ago.

Well, here goes nothing, she thought idly, Daisy saying her cue.

But, like everything they did, Team Rocket appeared, stealing the show. At least in this case they didn't end up destroying the Gym and the audience thought it was part of the show anyway.

With the loss of their backpacks and Oswald's theory of aliens turning out to be Clefairy's, they finally arrived back in Viridian City, the Earth Badge on their mind.

Standing outside the Gym, Misty couldn't believe it had been a year since she'd met the inexperienced trainer.

Glancing at Ash, she could only shake her head; he hadn't changed too much.

After meeting up with Gary (and learning that he already had ten badges) the brunette beat Ash to the Gym, determined to get the badge first. Upon chasing Togepi through the city and ending up back outside the Gym, Togepi-less, Gary's convertible still parked outside.

With a warning from Gary about an evil Pokémon – and vaguely realizing that Gary had lost – Ash stepped up to challenge this invincible Pokémon.

That was until Team Rocket appeared, spouting off their motto.

When Misty heard the three of them were the new Gym Leaders, Misty wanted to scream, to stamp her foot.

There was no doubt in her mind that Ash would win the Earth Badge.

Even with their new Pokémon, they were still Team Rocket, someone he'd beat ten times over in the past year.

Twenty minutes later with the Earth Badge pinned to his vest, Misty could only shake her head.

She wondered idly how he would fair at the Indigo Plateau.

Maybe her original thought had been right.

Ash Ketchum might have collected the eight badges, but he wouldn't gain the title of Master.

Especially when Ash commented he didn't know where the Plateau was.

Quickly making their way through the forest, the trio found themselves back in Pallet Town. After speaking to Ash's mom – who had acquired a housekeeping Mr. Mime – they made their way over to Professor Oak's lab, who mentioned that the Indigo League would start in two months.

After getting lost in a snowstorm, vacationing on the Seafoam Islands and meeting Master Bruno up in the mountains, two months had past.

"Do you think you're ready for this, Ash?" Misty asked, the walls of Victory Road closing in on them. "I mean you've hardly trained at all."

The black haired trainer threw her a look. "If you don't want to come, go home."

Misty shook her head, shoving her hands into her pockets. "I've never seen the competition live, you know."

"Fine," Ash said with a shrug. "Whatever you say, Mist."

The red head sighed, shaking her head. She was in this for her bike. I'm in this for my bike, she chanted to herself, narrowing her eyes at Ash.

After carrying the Indigo League Torch – asked by none other then Mr. Goodshow himself – they arrived at the Indigo Plateau.

The moment was finally here.

After the opening ceremonies – which were naturally crashed by Team Rocket – the matches got started early the next morning. Upon hearing that Gary won his match in the Ice Arena, Misty knew the gleam in Ash's eyes.

He wanted to show up the heir to the Oak fortune.

To Misty's surprise, Krabby wasn't that bad in a battle – considering the crab had never fought in a battle before. But, Krabby managed to beat Manny's Exeggutor and Seadra, evolving into a Kingler too boot. Even when things were looking bad for the crab, a well placed Hyper Beam against Golbat earned Ash his first win.

Just like that, the Water Arena was beaten.

Now if only it doesn't go to his head . . . Misty thought idly as Ash proclaimed he could win every battle ahead.

The next afternoon led Ash to his victory in the Rock Arena, the Ice Arena on the horizon for the next morning. After spending the night dealing with full Pokémon centers and a fake one produced by Team Rocket, the battle at the Ice Arena was before them. But, with some help from Pikachu, Ash won the third battle.

All that was left now was the Grass Arena.

"I can't believe it," Misty said later in the restaurant, watching the replay of the days' battles. "I really . . . can't . . ." What shocked her more was when Gary got knocked out of the competition, meaning Ash had gone farther then him . . .

Battling Jannette in the Grass Arena had been close, her Bellsprout knocking out both Bulbasaur and Pikachu. The appearance of Muk had surprised them – when had Ash transferred the sludge Pokémon to the competition? – and flattened the competition.

Literally, Misty thought later as Ash tried to make a joke.

Having the next couple days off to rest – and get ready for the final rounds in Ash's case – they just had to get stuck in an elevator when the power went out.

Just our luck, Misty thought, slumping against the metal walls. This is why I always take the stairs . . . but naturally, Ash wouldn't listen to her suggestions. Luckily in their case, one of the other passengers knew how to lower to elevator with the help of Pikachu's electricity. It wasn't until they fell into another of Team Rocket's traps that they found out that Ritchie from the elevator was actually another competitor.

"Honestly," Misty sighed, watching Ash take off after Team Rocket's van, Ritchie behind him. "How often is Ash going to fall for these tricks? I mean, really!" She grumbled, rolling her eyes.

"Now Misty, is did seem real this –"

"I don't mean this time!" The red head snapped, her cerulean eyes piercing the older teen. "How many times has Ash fallen for this? He should know that their after Pikachu by now."

"Now Misty . . ."

"Maybe Pikachu electrocuted him too many times?" She mumbled to herself, not hearing Brock's words. "No wonder he needs us following him around everywhere . . ."

Brock sighed, shoving his hands into his pockets as the red haired girl muttered to herself before starting out after the two.

After getting all the Pokémon back from Team Rocket and arriving back in the Pokémon Village, Misty could only roll her eyes as Ash deemed Ritchie a friend. Sure, it was nice that he made yet another friend, but did it always have to be with his competition?

Then, for once, fate proved Misty right.

Ash's next opponent was Ritchie.

With a phone call from Ritchie the next morning, Ash ran out the apartment door, claiming he'd be back in time for his match. At least, until it was half an hour before the scheduled time and Ash still hadn't arrived.

Brock could only sigh as Misty shoved him out of her way, balling her hands into fists as she stomped out onto the battlefield herself. "She's just as bad . . ." he mumbled to himself, running a hand over his face as Misty stomped on Ritchie's foot, yelling at the brunette.

"He didn't call Ash today . . . so that means . . ."

Just like Misty, his mind jumped to Team Rocket. Just like clockwork, as the match was about to be called, Ash appeared, proving Misty's thought right. The dark haired trainer arrived on a bike, attached to Team Rocket's balloon no less.

"A bike?" Misty said, narrowing her eyes. "Geez, it's about time . . ." Ash seemed to have a knack for making her forget about it . . .

But, not even his surprise entrance could help him as Charizard forfeited to Ritchie's Pikachu, Sparky.

The defeat leaving Ash defeated in the fifth round, the quarter finals around the corner.

"I must say," Misty said later that week, the closing ceremonies minutes away. "I never thought you'd make it this far . . ."

"What?!" Ash commented, his eyes narrowing as he glared at the red head. "What do you mean, farther then you thought?"

Misty shrugged, shifting her backpack around. "Let's see; you couldn't control your Pikachu at first – although that's only shifted to Charizard – you stole, and fried my bike. Oh! And that time you threw that rock at that Spearow –"

"Hey, take that back!" Ash interrupted, balling his hands into fists.

"Nah, I don't want to," Misty shrugged, walking past him. "I suppose you did beat my expectations though . . ."

"Now, now, come on guys," Brock said, stopping between the two teens, holding his hands out. "You're both acting childish. Are we, or are we not, heading to Pallet Town for the celebration?"

"Yeah!" Ash exclaimed, pumping his fist into the air. "A party in my honor."

Misty opened her mouth, but then shrugged; a frown on her features. "Oh whatever, let him have the moment. Master's still a far way off anyway . . ." she mumbled, the other two not catching her words.

"I wonder what kind of food mom's going to have," Ash pondered, glancing up at the sky. "Awe man, I've missed her cooking . . ."

---

A/N: The idea came to me when I was watching the Indigo League Box Set with my cousin (who's only seen Diamond and Pearl) and they made the comment that Ash's journey really got off to a rough start. Which made me think about how easy Ash got his hands on the original badges and then this was created!

And, yes, I sat and watched all 79 episodes from the original season to make sure this was accurate. Three months later and viola, finally done.

R&R!

Happy New Year, people! On a sidenote, look forward to a multi-chaptered, multi-pairing Pokémon Story in the future!