Disclaimer - I'm too lazy to try and be creative about this. No, I don't own anything to do with the series, including plots or characters. I just take advantage of them.

Notes - Hah, well, I've been working on this fic in my notebook since around November of last year and a lot of things have happened that put it on hold, but I wanted to have it up on FFN by February 14th. You know, as a Valentines gift for all of the Pokeshippers still out there, let alone those of you who remember me. Lol.

Oh, also, there's some warning for. . . mature!Ash. Lol. I just wanted to put that out there in the open so nobody can come whining to me about how he isn't like himself.

This fic starts in Johto.


Author - Chibi / Warlordess

Title - "The Ancient Language of Mistynese"

Summary - Ash learns the difference about boys and girls while trying to understand Misty better. And thanks to Brock of all people.


Part One


Brock said it had taken him most of his adolescent life to put together that stupid book. Well, that and the fact that it was sure to revolutionize male versus female relationships. Ash didn't understand it though. After all, Brock recollected using it to try and woo a girl before - of course with no such luck. Still, Ash was offered the godsend and he accepted it because he didn't know how to turn it down.

"I'm only letting you borrow it though. I'll need it back at some point, like when I find the woman of my dreams!" Brock sighed blissfully, crowing the most obvious two choices to come to mind first. "Oh, Officer Jenny! Oh, Nurse Joy. . . !" And then he wandered off to start on dinner.

At first Ash was skeptical. He leafed through the pages at random times, usually towards the end of the night when the fire was dying and everyone else was asleep and he was tempted to join them. He had never been a fan of books, really, with the exception of comics and magazines depicting the latest great battles between the Elite Four and their challengers.

He showed it to Pikachu too, trusting his buddy's opinion more than anyone else's. Then again, Pikachu couldn't understand Brock's handwriting (or any human's for that matter) unless it was a rare word that was familiar to him so Ash had to try and explain how girls were from a different universe than guys. This only made it worse, of course. The only girl Pikachu knew well was Misty. She was a perfect example in Ash's opinion, but Pikachu got along so well with her that he didn't see it like Ash did.

Without realizing it, he had decided to give Brock's guide a chance. And the time for it came so suddenly, he was almost too late.

"Geez, Ash, I can't believe you got us lost again!" Misty ranted, though she still deftly continued to follow him as he glanced back and forth between his map and the path (or lack thereof) before them. Brock sighed, knowing what was in store. Then he slowed down for a second, removed his sack from his shoulders, and located the first bottle of aspirin he could find, along with the canteen slung around his arm. "I swear, they need to designate somebody to mark these paths. We'll never get anywhere with you blindly leading us!"

"Really, Misty? 'Cause I remember the last time we let you hold the map, we ended up wandering around for almost three hours before you finally listened to Brock about us walking in a giant circle."

"Yeah, well," she broke off here for a moment, trying to figure out what she could say to that, "well that was because you wouldn't hold Togepi for me. She's really fussy when somebody doesn't pay her all of their attention, which I couldn't do because you guys wanted to get to the next town ASAP."

"Is that the best you got? Any other time you would have told me that I wasn't responsible enough or mature enough to take care of Togepi."

"Yeah, but even I can admit that you're better than nothing," she mumbled. He did a double-take, his jaw dropping for a second, but she caught her slip-up and rephrased. "At least I thought you would be, but you didn't even try that time, and now we're lost. Again. And who can we thank for that, huh? Any guesses?"

He gulped, feeling the guilt and shame prickle at the back of his mind. She had him there. Not that he'd ever let her know that.

"I mean, you've been trying to do this for over three years. How hard is it to read a map correctly and not get us lost for once?" She scoffed at him, Togepi wriggling in her slightly stiff grip. "You're just so dense sometimes."

He blinked while Brock and Pikachu braced themselves for the worst. By now it was bound to get far worse before it got better. But Ash didn't say anything. Maybe Misty had gotten so good that she'd knocked him out with just a look? But no, he was definitely still standing.

Ash had heard that before, though. Well, of course Misty had said it before (it was only her favorite insult) but that wasn't it. As he repeated the words to himself inside his head, he saw them scribbled out before him on paper.

He turned on his heel and faced away from Misty, who stared dumbfounded then glanced at Brock curiously. Brock shrugged then grew ecstatic as he bent down to see Ash remove the trusted guide from his backpack. Then he flipped through the first few pages until he found what he needed.

[You're so stupid sometimes,] it quoted. He figured that the words could probably vary a little bit as long as the meaning was the same. And it was pretty easy to tell what Misty had said. So now the only question he could ask was what did she mean?

[You're so stupid sometimes.] Translation? [You're lucky I put up with you.]

He didn't really know what to say to that. He wanted to get smart with her but he had a feeling that wasn't what the book was for. So he quickly stashed it in his bag again and turned to face the redhead, who stared defiantly at him despite not understanding his behavior.

"Yeah, Misty, maybe you're right!" He laughed daftly with a hand at the back of his head. "I might be, I guess."

Of course he had meant that, yeah, he was lucky that Misty could stand to put up with him (though it nearly killed him to admit it) but the only blank Misty knew to fill in was about him being dense.

Well, it wasn't exactly what Ash was going for but he did keep the war from starting, and he won based on the technicality, for Misty was downright speechless.

Brock silently applauded Ash's efforts, nearly whooping in glee. Not only did this prove his book was a successful method to winning a girl over, but on a personal note he would not have to deal with his companions' fighting nearly as much if Ash could beat it to the punch.

Ash himself hardly dared to believe it. He had won the fight. He looked at Pikachu, who was sitting on the ground between him and Misty, too shocked to shock them. Not that it was necessary anymore.

By far the best, however, was Misty's expression. She really had no response to Ash calling himself stupid (or so she thought he was doing). Of course, once she realized that she had made him feel that way, the guilt began to set in. She couldn't believe what she was about to do. . . but she did it anyway.

"I - I'm sorry, Ash." She started, "Look, it's really not so bad, is it? At least we're getting our exercise. Just try harder, and you know you can always ask Brock for help."

"Huh?" But he wasn't really asking a question. He just didn't know what else to say. Even if Brock's book managed to work at all, he definitely hadn't expected an apology of all things from Misty. He looked at Brock, who stared dumbfoundedly back, then down at Pikachu, who gave him a pointed motion. Apparently, though he had no idea what Misty was sorry for, he was supposed to blindly accept it.

Well, okay then.

"Ah, that's okay, Misty!" He said confidently with a guffaw. He gave her a pat on the shoulder, which must have made her feel vastly uncomfortable seeing as she turned pink in the face.

The incident marked the turning point in their friendship. Misty knew no better since she didn't know about Ash's secret weapon. And he was determined to keep it that way. He didn't know what she'd do if she found out he was manipulating her but he was sure it couldn't be good. Yet after his successful encounter with the test subject he found the book a little more interesting, so he decided to keep reading. He even began to memorize some of the examples from the text; mostly those that seemed like they would definitely apply to his relationship with Misty.

It was after earning his Mineral Badge from Jasmine, after staring at it for three hours, shining it up six different times, and recollecting four times exactly how he'd managed to win the battle. Quite frankly, the rest of them were sick of it, even Pikachu. And Misty being Misty, she was first to crack.

"Geez, egotistical much?" She quipped almost snobbishly, but she was irritated damnit! He turned and glared at her, but it only lasted a moment before a bright smile replaced it. After all, he'd won his Gym match and he was one step closer to the Johto League. Nobody - not even Misty - could take that pride away from him.

But Misty's scowl only deepened as he opened the flap of his vest and took in the sight of the badges he'd pinned there.

"Pika. . ." Pikachu sighed exasperatedly, a claw clamped to his face before being dragged downward past his mouth. "Pikachu pika pika, Pikapi?"

"Nah, of course not buddy! What makes you think that?"

"Wow Ash, what did he say? Maybe something about you getting ahead of yourself, or about your big head slowing us down?" Misty asked in a sugary tone while Brock buried his head deeper in the map, not wanting to get involved.

Ash flinched, probably because she was at least a little bit right in her assumption, and then gritted his teeth in a tight-lipped smile.

"Of course not Misty! I mean, just because I blew away all of the Gym Leaders I've faced in the past with my quick thinking and skillful strategizing doesn't mean anything. I'm just really good at what I do." He smirked at her and her grip on Togepi involuntarily tightened.

"All of the Gym Leaders. . . ?" She asked while her eyebrow twitched. She was growing livid now. Ash was the most troublesome, irresponsible, luckiest kid she'd ever met. But now he was trying to undermine the importance of his modest victories from when he'd first started training? "Ash, did you receive any recent head injuries or brain damage--?"

"--Only when you hit me with that stupid mallet of yours. . ." He interrupted with a mutter.

The two of them stared each other down for a minute while Pikachu charged up for a thunderous warning. But Misty beat him to it after deciding she'd definitely had enough.

She growled, and then lashed out, "Ash, I challenge you to a Pokemon battle!"

"No thanks," he replied, looking quite bored at the prospect, and she face-faulted.

"W - why not?" She asked him after making a speedy recovery.

He opened his mouth to tell her that, quite frankly, he didn't see a reason for it. After all, in a fair match she stood no chance against him. Even without Pikachu in arms, he still had others in his arsenal with a type-advantage, like Meganium. Plus Noctowl had his great speed and accuracy from the air, not to mention his Hypnosis technique. Really, what was the challenge in it if he battled Misty at his current level?

But looking at her made him bite his tongue. She was glaring fiercely at him with the dark eyes that belied her true feelings. Her pride was at stake here, both professionally and personally. If he rejected her (forceful) request, she didn't know what she'd do.

Still Ash didn't want to battle her. If he did, and then won, she'd probably be really upset (and then she'd rant for a fair few days about it). If he battled her and lost (probably on purpose to appease those same emotions) then she would know it in a heartbeat. She liked to tread all over his ego when the situation called for it, but despite that, she still had some faith in him. The reason she was so unreasonably angry now most likely had something to do with that too.

But wait, wait. . . Didn't he read about something like this?

He flashed back to his late night scavenging through Brock's guide and saw, in his mind, the vision of a woman on the defensive.

[Don't disrespect what I'm capable of!] Translation? [I want you to acknowledge me!]

Oh, was that all this was about? Then again, in leau of their testy friendship, Ash really couldn't remember a time when he'd complimented Misty at all, let alone on her skills as a Pokemon trainer. Maybe he did owe her something. . .

"Well, why won't you? Afraid that it'll end with you patting the dust off your butt rather than patting your own shoulder when I blow you away?"

"No," he relented, eyeing Pikachu cautiously for any electrical discharge and Brock, who had quirked an eyebrow, not sure what he was trying to pull now, "No. . . I just don't see the point. I mean, I know I'm good. . . and we both know that you are too. You're strong, Misty. You don't need to test yourself against me. Wait until you find someone you really want to challenge. That way, when you beat 'em, your sisters will have to acknowledge you," he finished with a nice touch.

Misty's frustration seemed to evaporate in a matter of moments. First to hit her was the shock. Ash had just boasted about her abilities as a Pokemon trainer. Then there was the confusion. What was he trying to pull anyway? After that was the admiration. Ash had just attempted to reach out to her by saying something so sweet. The least she could do was respond maturely.

"W - well, yeah, maybe you're right. . ." And then she conceded defeat and added, "and you're a good trainer too, of course."

Nobody had a response to that. Ash had already realized that he'd paved the way forward in their relationship, and now Misty was beginning to give whatever she had in her at the time too. He couldn't help wondering if she saw it as a new kind of technique for fighting. The thought aggravated him for some reason. He hadn't figured it out until now that he was trying to transition the two of them beyond that stage. He didn't want to spend his days wasted fighting with her.

After that time, he started to depend on Brock's guide, something he never thought he'd do with anything of Brock's that related to girls. But discovering that he actually liked the Misty he could understand made him feel warm inside, even if he was a little confused too. He'd never been interested in girls before - at all - so what could this mean? It was Misty too. What did that mean? He offhandedly thought about asking Brock but he didn't want to press his luck even more than he was already.

And speaking of Brock. . .

"There he goes again." Misty sighed frustratedly. She cracked her knuckles and then prepared to stomp forward and drag him away from the latest Nurse Joy. Ash stood back with Pikachu on his shoulder, both of them sweatdropping from the exasperation. How many times had they seen the exact same thing?

"You'd better step in before Officer Jenny shows up too. Knowing him, he'd try to flirt with her while she's arresting him for sexual harassment." Ash said it offhandedly, but was surprised to see Misty laugh at his joke. Usually she laughed at the things he did. It was kind of a nice feeling, making a girl laugh. Ash blushed as he thought about it but he stopped right after that.

It hit him quite suddenly that he'd just acknowledged Misty was a girl. It made sense obviously. Brock's book was supposed to help with understanding girls. . . but thinking about Misty like that made him feel weird inside. She was the same person he'd always known and yet now he wondered if she needed to be treated differently.

He was held so captive by the thought that he didn't even realize Misty had already grabbed Brock by the ear, pulled him back, apologized to Nurse Joy (who said it was no problem), and had now begun to chastise Brock as per usual.

"Really Brock? Again? How many times does Nurse Joy have to reject you before you realize it's probably not going to work out? I mean, what are you expecting us to do if the rumor gets around that there's some sort of skirt-chasing Breeder traveling with a couple kids? What if Nurse Joy refuses to help us? What if other businesses do? What if--" But Misty blinked halfway into her rant, realizing Brock had escaped from her and had just started hitting on a couple of girls who had entered the Center.

"It's a lost cause, Misty. You should probably just give in and let everything run its course," Ash laughed, knowing Brock would probably be smacked sometime soon.

"Chu chu, Pikachu Pi."

"Hmph!" Misty crossed her free arm, the other still gripping Togepi. "I know, okay? It's just. . . they're not even that pretty, you know?"

Ash blinked, recognizing that line very clearly from a hypothetical example in his book.

[What are you looking at? She's not even that cute!] Apparently the woman was jealous about being overlooked while another was in the room. Ash didn't really get it, and he couldn't believe Misty would feel so threatened by someone she knew nothing about. Then again, that was why he was doing all of this right?

But, and his brow furrowed as the thought came to him, did it mean she was jealous of the girl getting all of this attention, or was she jealous of the girl getting all of Brock's attention? He shuddered, praying it wasn't the latter. It was disturbing, not to mention it made him feel weird. Well, weirder than he'd already admitted to feeling. Something at the back of his consciousness prickled into activity. Was he. . . angry? He didn't understand that at all. Maybe he needed to consult Brock's book. Or maybe. . . he should toss the book over the nearest cliff. You know, only after he stomped on it some, and let Pikachu Thunderbolt it, and Cyndaquil Flame-thrower it. . .

What, why was he thinking like that?

Beside him, Misty sniffed indignantly. And when he almost jumped but turned to stare at her face, he saw what she was trying to hide. And then he remembered - (slightly somber) - what Brock's guide had said about this moment.

Translation? [I want someone to call me pretty.]

Well, he definitely couldn't be that bold. But he could try to get the point across. Maybe that would be all she needed in the end. So he decided to take a deep breath, and then the plunge.

"Yeah, you're right. I don't know what he sees in any of those girls." And he laced his tone with mild disinterest. Misty turned to look at him but he couldn't tell what she was thinking under her layer of shock.

And then she laughed and he felt mysteriously flustered.

"Yeah right. Even I can tell why he likes those girls. But thanks for trying to cheer me up. That was. . . nice of you." She didn't look him in the eyes just yet, her face glowing a bit. Then she shook it off and pressed her finger to his chest as though having a point to make. "Just don't think you can butter me up saying stuff like that. You still owe me a bike, you know?"

He gulped and his mind raced. He really wanted to tell her that he hadn't been going for that at all but he realized soon after that she probably wasn't bringing up the bike to serve as a warning about where they stood. More likely than that, she seemed to be looking for some kind of a distraction. But why would she need something like that anyway?

Still, rather than ask her the obvious question, he bit his lip, and the words vanished on the way to his mouth. She looked at him expectantly, able to see that he wanted to tell her something.

"Uh. . . well. . . I mean, was I really so funny?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Well, I made you laugh twice. I was just wondering why you made it so easy."

"Geez Ash, what a stupid thing to say," but she didn't sound angry, "No, you aren't that funny so don't go on about giving up your Pokemon training license for a time-slot on televised stand-up comedy." She wasn't done speaking yet, though her gaze dropped to Togepi bundled in her arms before she could continue. "I was just thinking at the time that, you know, you were a little smarter than I give you credit for. Or maybe. . . more mature?" Then she shook it off and snorted, "Unlike Brock, who just can't seem to grow up."

Then she strode forward again to pull aforementioned Pokemon trainer away from his newest victim, leaving Ash alone.


Well, almost alone. The moment he'd just shared with his friend Misty had felt so intimate that he'd forgotten Pikachu was there with him all along. He even found himself expecting her words to mean that Brock had nothing to do with her former sadness.

"Hey buddy, let's have Nurse Joy check you out, okay?" He said in an effort to test his voice. He felt a little shaky, like his breath had been stolen from him but for the life of him he couldn't figure out why.

Of course, Misty began to grow suspicious at some point. Ash had been treating her better lately, like he was trying. Like he cared. The point was he seemed to get her, something the old Ash would never have been capable of. He treated her bluntly up until a few months ago, and then he'd started speaking to her softly, comforting her, calming her. She didn't know what was up anymore. The worst part was that she liked this sweet, attentive Ash who treated her like a girl. Her sisters, Brock, most people in general, had never given her that courtesy. Togepi had been the only one to see her like that, what with her maternal instinct. Well, there was Rudi, but the attraction had been rather short-lived.

Still, she felt out of sorts. This was Ash, after all. Since when did he know how to differentiate between boys and girls on a sexual basis? The idea vibrantly lit up her face. She was probably thinking on this too much, wasn't she?

"Here Misty, dinner," Brock interrupted, handing her a plate. "I'll take Togepi so she can eat with all of the other Pokemon. Oh, and give your plate to Ash when you're done. It's his turn to do dishes."

"Speaking of Ash," Misty started, withdrawing Togepi just a little bit so Brock couldn't take her and run for it, "have you noticed anything different about him recently? I mean, he's. . ." She faltered helplessly. She didn't know how to word it and hoped Brock would catch on soon on his own.

"Uh, no. . ." He emphasized. She couldn't tell if he was lying to her, but for the sake of being an overly-suspicious person, she would treat him as if he was.

Furiously, she pulled a fidgety Togepi back into her arms and tore into her first bit of turkey sandwich. At the same time, she glared at him threateningly, daring him to walk away and leave her hanging. Well, if there was one thing Brock had learned after three years of traveling with her, it was to never make an angry Misty angrier.

"Well, what do you mean?"

"I mean he's just. . . different! I mean, he makes jokes, he knows what to say when I'm upset, and it's like everything I say, he knows exactly what I mean!"

"I'm confused. Is that a bad thing?"

"No," she started, sighing with resignation, "No, I guess not. But it scares me a little bit. An Ash who understands me can do more damage to me than an Ash who doesn't."

"Oh." He knew what she was trying to say. In fact, not having thought about that consequence himself, he felt at least a little bit guilty.

Of course, not enough to risk dismemberment by telling her the truth.

"Well, look at it this way," he began sympathetically. "Maybe this was what you needed. For the first time in almost two years, you two have a chance at moving forward. And besides, what are you expecting? Do you think he somehow obtained a guide on how to impress girls thanks to some romantic genius guru, and now he's testing it out on you?"

They both stared at one another for a few seconds before Brock unleashed an awkward laugh. Misty joined him and he took the opportunity to pull Togepi out of her one-armed grip. Misty let him go, though her questions and fears still remained.

Later on, Brock was laying out everyone's sleeping bags while Misty had trailed Ash to the nearby stream, carrying some of the cooking utensils in an effort to help him. . . and be alone with him.

She felt she had no choice but to confront the problem at its source, even if she had to pull together nearly every ounce of courage left in her to do it. But even then, Ash seemed to keep a vow of silence as he knelt down with Misty beside him. Maybe Brock had warned him about her interest in his sudden alteration in behavior towards her?

"Hey Ash. . . have you been feeling okay?"

"Um. . . sure Misty; why are you asking all of a sudden?"

She stared at him with her face in her palm. He seemed nervous under her scrutinizing gaze, but that was to be expected. And she wouldn't back down just because he didn't want to deal with her.

"Don't play games with me," she told him, irritated. "You're acting so weird. You talk like you know exactly what I'm telling you every time. You don't fight with me anymore because you always know what I need to hear so we don't get that far. I don't get it. Brock says maybe you're just growing up. . ."

Ash rolled his eyes. Of course Brock would escape incrimination by telling her something like that. Well, Ash knew one thing without a doubt and that was that he definitely wasn't going down alone. He could afford to keep it a secret for awhile yet.

"Hah, yeah, okay. And what do you think?"

"I think it's a load of crap. But since nobody will give me another option to choose from, I guess that's all I've got."

"Yeah. Maybe you're right. After all, it's not like someone could write a book on it."

Misty's palm slipped and she nearly fell face forward. But she gazed at Ash anyway, eyes wide, jaw hanging just enough to notice. She was stunned. After all, Brock had said almost the exact same thing, hadn't he? In response, Ash stared back at her, judging from her expression that he'd slipped up.

"What do you mean by that?" Misty asked next, feeling nearly triumphant. Surely now she would get the answers she was looking for. Now he had nowhere to hide. He had to answer her.


"Nothing," his eyes averted towards the stream again as he slipped a few more dishes underwater, "It was a joke and I didn't mean anything by it."

"You did. You had to. Nothing else can explain everything else that's happened recently leading up to this. Tell me now, Ash. I'm getting mad."

He gulped and finally looked at her but otherwise remained on the defensive.

"Look, even if I did mean something by it, which I'm not saying that I did, I couldn't tell you. I feel like I'm doing the right thing here. We're getting along so well, right? And Pikachu hasn't had to shock us out of an argument in months. You can't tell me that you don't consider that a good thing."

"No, I mean yes, I mean. . . You're right, it's good. And it's not like I don't like it too but. . ." And here was where she chose to just be honest with him, ". . . it's just that - yeah, you might understand me and that's good. . . but now I don't understand you."

Oh. He blinked, not knowing how to respond. But still, in his head, in his heart. . . He knew if he could just push this a little longer that everything he had done so far would mean more than, well, anything. If he could keep this going, surely all of the feelings he had begun to experience would come to a head. He was happy to know Misty better, but now? Now he needed a conclusion.

"Sorry Misty. I still don't have any idea what you mean. If I knew something, if I could tell you, I would. But right now, there's just nothing to say." Something in his chest pinched tightly at the knowledge that he'd just lied to her. He tried to hold the pain at bay by telling himself that she only wanted him to tell her the truth to sate her minor curiosities.

But even if Misty hadn't figured out that he was lying, the look on her face in the next second was enough to scare him nearly stiff.

"Misty. . ."

"No, don't even, Ash." She immediately hopped to her feet, turning her back on him. "Leave me alone. If you don't, I swear I'll rip you a new one." His eyes widened as she heaved breath after her finishing statement towards him. He was not pleased to note that he recognized that line from Brock's guide.

Translation? Well, in all honesty, there wasn't one. When a girl said they wanted to be alone so much that they threatened a guy with bodily harm, they meant it. And Ash knew by now as a devoted follower of Brock's guide not to fight against the tide. But what was he supposed to do then that would alleviate Misty's suspicions, something that wouldn't cost him any of the progress he'd made. . . ?

Misty was mad, furious, livid. So when Ash's hand snaked its way up to her shoulder, she felt the rash urge to break every single one of his fingers. But she was able to hold back and waited for him to wise up and let her go. Unfortunately, he still had something to say.

"Misty, what are you thinking? That I'm playing a joke on you? I'm not, I promise. I know you're not used to it but I'm telling you that this is sincere. I'm not trying to hurt you."

Of course not, Misty wanted to say. You never have to try, do you? But she couldn't tell him that. It was like eating a tub of peanut butter all in one bite. Her throat was glued shut and she had to focus all of her attention on breathing through her nose. She couldn't believe that he'd done it again.

"But I'll let you go. I hope you believe me." His words left her strangely at peace, even despite her frustration.

He released her so that she could mutely stumble away, back towards camp. Again. He'd done it again. She didn't know what was what anymore. She just wanted to know where the two of them stood. Without their fighting to keep them balanced, she wasn't sure who she was to Ash anymore. He didn't much argue with her, he refused to battle her if she only wanted to do it out of spite, he never took the opportunity to insult her. . .

She blushed as the thought crossed her mind. Mature Ash? Was that even remotely possible? But her heart raced a little bit anyway, knowing how much could change between them. Their entire dynamic would alter, but not only that. No, no. . . it now stood the chance of growing. She could get closer, he could come to see what she wanted and maybe. . . maybe reciprocate her feelings.

Because, for her, there were definitely feelings, as was the case with most teenage girls. But what was the point of trying to do anything about them when the other person didn't understand? Ash had always been all about Pokemon training, all about the next battle, the next badge, the next League. Something so measly as love couldn't possibly compare to that.

Well, at least, not before. But now. . . if he was even slightly honest about growing up, then maybe. . .

"So how did it go?"

She literally shook her head in order to end that line of dangerous thinking. That was when she realized she was back at the campgrounds and Brock was staring at her, arms crossed. But he didn't necessarily look like he was going to reprimand her.

"Go? How did what go? What are you talking about?"

"Really, Misty? Fine. How was your talk with Ash? I mean, what else would have made you follow after him and leave Togepi behind with me and Pikachu? Either you wanted to be alone to seduce him or--"

"--Brock!" She shrieked.

"--or you wanted to confront him about his behavior. So what did he say? Did he tell you anything important?"

"No. He said a bunch of other stuff that made me feel. . ." She drifted off here, not wanting to share that with Brock, ". . . and even when we talked about you and what you said--"

"--Lies, all of it!" Brock yelled suddenly, causing Misty to jump. "I never told him anything, and I sure didn't give him any ideas!"

"Yeah," Misty eyed him as she replied a little too calmly, "that's basically what he said."

". . . Oh."

"Yeah," she repeated, "So nothing really happened, he wouldn't budge at all. It just frustrates me so much!" She exclaimed next, a hand running through her bangs. She wanted to clutch her head. She felt a headache coming on. This was Psyduck-worthy trouble, this was.

But all it did was tire her out. She was angry because she just knew something was going on, she was upset about her friends keeping secrets, she was happy because Ash had helped her have faith that he was serious about this. Quite frankly, she just decided to give up for the time being. Nobody was telling her anything no matter how hard she pried. If her conversation with Ash had convinced her of one thing, it was that she might as well just sit back and enjoy it all.

"I'm going to bed Brock. You put Togepi to sleep and laid her in my sleeping bag already, right?"

"Ah, yeah. I did."

"Okay, goodnight. See you in the morning."



Notes - Hahah, so. . . yeah, this was definitely going to be a one-shot. Originally. But then I kept writing and writing and, before I knew it, it turned out to be over twelve-thousand words long. And I'm not even done with it yet. Almost, but not quite. But I also wanted to post something for Valentine's day, and this was going to be it, so I decided to at least start posting it before. It'll probably end up being three chapters, and I'm working on the final scene in my spare time. I'd like to guarantee that this thing is finished before or on the fourteenth of the month, but I don't think it will be. It should be finished by the middle of next week, I hope.

In the meantime, I could definitely use some support! Please review and tell me what you thought! Keep in mind that I warned you all about Mature!Ash. Lol.