The Sound of Falling Rain


…and the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.
Alden Nowlan

It was a full minute and a half of awkward silence as Misty tried to put a thoughtful sentence together.

He wants me to tell him what to do? She thought, looking at him over. He had dropped his insistent, pleading eyes which Misty was thankful for. She felt more and more uncomfortable the longer he stared at her.

What do I do?

The way he said it carried a certain gravity that made Misty pause to choose her words carefully the wrong word at the wrong time could do irrevocable harm. Even worse, Misty wasn't used to handling Ash so carefully. If this was a normal situation (one that was in no danger of spiraling into catastrophe) she'd tell him to just snap out of it and that his dad is a miserable old bastard and that everything was going to be alright. Now…well, his dad is still a bastard but Misty didn't know if it was "going to be alright" and Ash was to deep in "it" to snap out.

"I'm just so…confused." Ash stood up, irritably pacing this way and that as if he wasn't even sure of which direction to aimlessly wander in. "Like I can't even move because I think I'll misstep and crash."

"So…okay…" Misty tried to say something a few times before stopping herself. "I still don't understand why you came to me."

"I came to get hammered out." Ash said. "I feel like…I'm all lumpy and bent. Not even sad or angry anymore; just broken up and scrambled like a picture that someone took a jigsaw to and cut to pieces and I'm missing the box so I don't know how the puzzle is supposed to go together and then the wind blows the pieces off the t-"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Misty said, rubbing her temples. "Calm down! Your metaphors are getting ridiculous…"

"Sorry." Ash said.

"Let's just…calm down." Misty said. "You're making me nervous."

"You're nervous?" Ash said. "I'm nervous! At least I think I'm nervous…am I nervous?"

"Yes!" Misty said. "Jittery, fidgety, panicky…this is nervous!"

"But I…I…I don't get nervous!" Ash spluttered. "I haven't been nervous since I was like, twelve!"

"Well you are now!" Misty said. "And now you're making me nervous so just…sit!"


"Just sit…" Misty said, patting the couch beside her. "Let's take five minutes and …chill."

"Right…chill." Ash said, sinking to the couch. "Just chill…"

"Okay." Misty said, taking a deep breath of her own. "Okay…are you chilled?"

"Getting there…getting there…more like lukewarm than chilled but—"

"Alright, we'll settle for lukewarm." Misty said. "I just don't understand what…why is this happening now?"

"This?" Ash said.

I mean this!" Misty said, gesturing vaguely. "This isn't like you! You, here, panicky, now! You…you don't freak out!"

"I know…I know…" Ash sighed. "Lately I haven't felt like much of myself."

"Yeah, getting lectured by your bastard father can do that to you, huh?" Misty said.

"I guess but…I don't think that's all there is to it." Ash said. "I mean, he said some pretty shaking things back there but most of the time, I would have just shaken it off. I don't usually take what most people say to heart."

"Well, did you?" Misty asked. "Is that why you're second guessing yourself like this; because of what your father said?"

Ash rubbed the back of his neck irritably. "Well…yes and no. It was the right combination of suck at the wrong time."

"Wrong time?" Misty said. "Is there a right time to get verbally assaulted by your father?"

"I guess not but still…things hadn't exactly been going great for me before we met up in the mountain." Ash said

Misty frowned at this; this was the first she had heard of anything regarding Ash's year of solo travel. "You never mentioned that…not to me at least."

Ash fidgeted uncomfortably. "Well…I meant to but…I guess I just didn't think of it. It's not really something I want to talk about around you guys."

"Why don't you?" Misty asked, shifting on the couch so that she was closer to him. "C'mon, you know I'll listen to whatever's on your mind right?"

"It's been a long time since we've seen each other, huh?" Ash said suddenly. "When was the last time we talked like this?"

"Well…um…a year, right?" Misty said. "But we've talked between since then-"

"But it's been a year, a whole year since we've seen each other face to face." Ash said. "And before that? Before the whole Team Galactic debacle when did we talk last?"

"Oh hell, I don't know!" Misty cried in frustration. "Do you want the logbook of every time we talked since we met? So what if we haven't seen each other in a while? It's not like we grew apart."

"Not yet." Ash said. "Not yet…but ever since we stopped traveling together, we've gone longer and longer between visits. I mean I always swing by when I'm in the neighborhood but that's only every so often. I can never find May anymore; she's hopping around more than I am. Dawn's pretty easy to find but usually she's halfway across the world at her new place. Gary's taking over his grandpa's research, Tracey's working with Prof. Ivy, Brock's got his gym to look after….last year was the last time I saw any of you guys and it took the end of the world to get us in the same place!" Ash stood up irritably.

"Alright, remember when we talked about chilling out?" Misty said

"I don't want to chill out right now!" Ash said, tangling his fingers in his hair. "This…this…this sucks! I hate that I never see you guys anymore! I hate traveling all by myself! I'm…I'm…" He turned this way and that, like he was unsure of which way to pace. He grabbed handfuls of his hair in agitation, twisting it around his fingers. "God…I'm scared."

It took all of Misty's restraint not to wrap her arms around him in the tightest hug in recorded history. That wouldn't really do him any good now in the middle of a total nervous breakdown. Instead, she reached up and grabbed his hands in hers, gently prying them open and untwisting them from his hair. As soon as Ash's hands were free, Misty's hands took their place as she forced him to look at her.

"Stop" she said as softly as she could. "Slow. Down. You have a million and one things on your mind without worrying about hyperventilating. So just please just stop this…and sit down."

"But…" Ash trailed off as Misty guided him down to the couch firmly.

"Before you say another word, I need you to take five minutes and just chill." Misty said. "And this is the last time I'm asking. Believe me; next time, you're chilling out in the Dewgong tank."

"Oh, I believe you." Ash took a few shuddering breaths. "Okay…okay. I'm good now….well, I'm better now…well-"

"Shh." Misty said, gently silencing him with a hand to his lips. She felt a tremble, whether from his sentence cut short or something else she couldn't say for sure. "God, you're shaking…"

"Sorry…" Ash mumbled against her fingers. "I must be freaking you out, huh?"

"A little." Misty admitted. She quickly moved her hand away from his lips when she realized how long they were there. "We're freaking out together here. I really want to know why-"

"It's…I'm scared that…" Ash trailed off into incoherent mumbles.

"What?" Misty asked, not quite understanding.

"I just…I don't want be like him." Ash said quickly, quietly and with a self conscious look on his face.

"You're worried about turning into a hateful jackass?" Misty said. "Because I don't think-"

"No. It's not that." Ash said, rubbing his eyes. "You know, I think it'd be easier if I could hate him. At least then I just write him off and be on my merry way but…all I can do is feel sorry for him."

"He leaves you and your mom, disappears for fifteen years and then, when he shows up, he proceeds to act like a self-serving jerkass…and you feel sorry for him?" Misty said in disbelief. "Why?"

"He's got no one…" Ash said. "He's totally alone. I mean, he's got his Pokèmon but other than that he's totally alone. I can't…I can't even begin to imagine not having anywhere to go. That's sad. That's just sad. I know I have every right to hate him and be bitter towards him but I just can't anymore. I can't help but feel sorry for him; he's just…"

"A bum." Misty finished.

Ash chuckled weakly. "I guess you could say that."

"No literally; he's the most successful loser I've ever heard of." Misty said. "I guess when you put it that way it makes sense but…still nothing good about that."

"I know, I know." Ash said.

"And you can't compare yourself to your dad!" Misty continued, eagerly. "He can't honestly expect to show up after fifteen years of flitting around hell's half acre and tell you how to live your life!"

"Still, he was alone." Ash said in a way that killed Misty's steam. "He traveled the whole world until he was twenty and then fifteen years after that…and after all that, he's got nothing to show for it. He's got team full of strong Pokèmon and every badge in the world but he still ran away from everyone who loved him and now he's just bouncing around in random caves pissing off packs of wild Pokèmon for fun…"

"I know that but why are you-" Misty trailed off, slowly piecing together everything Ash said. "Oh..."

"Honestly, I don't even know what I'm doing anymore…" Ash said. "I don't even think I ever really knew, you know?"

"No, not really." Misty said, rubbing her temples. "You're not making as much sense as you think you are..."

Ash threw his hands up. "Well…I came here, because I couldn't think of anywhere else to go."

"Well, that's nice." Misty said dryly. "That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside."

"Th-that's not what I meant!" Ash blurted out hastily. "I-I just meant that of all the places I thought about going, this was the only place that made sense for me to go. This was the only place I really wanted to be!"

A low rumble of thunder filled the silence following Ash's outburst as neither of them knew what to say. Ash was looking embarrassed again and for the second time that night, Misty mirrored his expression. Finally,it was Misty who broke silence when she asked "Why?"

"Why, what?" Ash said.

"Why does this place "make sense?" Misty asked. "I still don't get why you didn't go to Dawn or Brock or Gary; they're closer."

"You've known me longer." Ash said.

"Not longer than Gary." Misty countered.

"Better then." Ash said. "Gary and I hated each others guts for years; you've really been close to me longer than anyone else."

"Okay…but that doesn't mean they don't care about you!" Misty said. "They're just as worried about you as I am."

Ash frowned slightly. "Who else knows?"

"I'd imagine everyone now." Misty said. "But I called everybody earlier-"

"You called them?" Ash said in a tone that Misty couldn't quite decipher. "Who?"

"Like I said, everybody." Misty said. "

I think it's safe to say that after all the time we spent together we've earned that right to worry about you."

"I don't want you to have to." Ash said suddenly and a little sharper than he meant.

Misty recoiled a little. "Have to?"

Ash shrunk, a little embarrassed. "Well… you're busy with your own life here…I don't want dump all my crap on you when you have your own to deal with."

"I don't-" Misty stopped herself. "Well yeah, I have my life here but…but you're still a part of it!"

"I know but-hey!" Whatever Ash was about to say next was cut off when Misty suddenly started fishing around the side of his belt. "Wh-What are you-"

"Stop fidgeting." Misty said, working hard to keep her finger on his belt. "Where's your phone?"

"In my pocket…but I'll get it!" Ash said, reddening.

"Give it." Misty ordered with outstretched hand.

"I don't think I have any calls." Ash said. "But then again it's been-"

"Give it." Mist said, taking the phone with a sigh.

"Misty, what are you-"

"You have eighteen new messages" A tinny voice came from the earpiece. "First new message…"

"Hey Ash…it's Misty. I was just calling to see how things call me back as soon as you get this. Okay, bye."


"Hey Ashey…it's Gary. Listen, I know about the whole tournament/cup thing…whatever, man. I don't really care about any of that just give me a call when you get this, yeah? Okay…bye."


"Ash? ASH? Where the hell are you? Misty just called us and apparently you think it's funny to disappear without telling anyone where you're going! Let me tell you something, you're in a world of trouble when I get a hold of-HEY!"

"Ash, it's Drew."

"Give it back!"

"Don't take May's little conniption to heart; we're not mad at you."

"Speak…for…your…self! Drew! Give it!"

"We just want to know that you're okay. Call us back when you can."

"No, don't hang-"


"H-hi Ash! Uh, i-it's Dawn. Long time no see, h-huh? I-I was just calling to…you know c-catch up and see how…how y-you're doing…a-a-and…please just call me when you get this. Misty just c-called us and she's…we're all worried e-even though May probably called you just to y-yell I know she's worried too and…and…Misty's worried about you too…whatever it is, we can help you together we just want to know that you're alright…please…call me back."


"Hey Ash, it's Brock. I've got about ten seconds to talk before my next lecture so listen up. I'm sure you have a good reason for wordlessly disappearing without a trace and it's not like you have to inform us of everything you do but at the same time, stunts like this tend to unsettle us. I know that you can take care of yourself, but just drop us a line when you get this and let me know you're still breathing. It'll make me feel a whole hell of a lot better. Take care."


"Hey Ash, it's Tracey. Heh…three hundred miles from the nearest cell tower and Misty still finds Ivy's satellite number to see if we've heard from you. She made me promise to keep an eye out so I thought I'd give you a call. I don't really have a TV and Misty was pretty vague about all this but I could tell she was pretty frazzled. You know that thing she does where she sighs and says "Okay…" a lot? Yeah, she was doing that. So, whatever it is just let her know you're okay. It'll make us all feel better. Oops; got to go. The Skitty are acting strangely around the Wailord lately and Ivy's worried know what; never mind. G'bye.


"Hello? Ash? Um…this is Volkner. I found your number on Dawn's cell and…I know this may sound weird coming from me but I was calling…to check up on you. Granted, we don't know each other all that well but then again, I guess I'm not really asking for my piece of mind. I…I stopped by Dawn's summer house after you disappeared and…well she's pretty upset. I know it's not my place to tell you what you can and can't do and I'm sure you had a good reason for leaving the way you did. But at the same time...she's worried about you. She cares about you so much and you know that. You probably don't know it, but I care about her a lot. So, when you get this message, please call her. Just…I don't know; let her know you're alright. Thanks…bye


"Hi Ash, it's Flint. Listen, Volkner wanted me to call you for…some reason. I dunno, he said I would know what this was about buuuuuut…can't say I do. Something to do with…hm…It'll come to me. I'll call you back".


"Oy, Ash! Cynthia here calling to say…what the hell, man? What, you just decided not to show up? Me and Garchomp were looking forward to seeing how long you and Pikachu could last against our beefed up Earthquake!"


"I know, right! We would have dropped you like bad habit! But seriously…give us a call and make sure you take care of yourself. I can't very well beat you if you wind up dead on the side of the road…kay, bye"

"P.S. don't tell Misty I said that. I really don't want to spend the night in her Gyarados tank."


"Um, Ash? H-hi, it's Brendan calling. Um, for what it's worth, I really missed your battle against Cynthia this year…I mean, not to be selfish or anything but…you probably could've won. That's probably not why you left or anything but…just thought you should know. Uh, wow…that sounded a lot less stupid in my head. Forget I said it!"


"Ash! It's Flint! I remembered what I wanted to talk to you about! I was talking to Volkner last week and I was thinking to myself hey, what if instead of summoning my Pokèmon from balls on my belt, what if I kept the balls in my afro and summoned them from its…wait, that's not it…shoot, I'll call you back."


"Ash, it's Max. May called me to see what's going on but I told her I hadn't seen you. Wait, you know that already. Anyway, whatever's going on, me and Gallade are really pulling for you! Give me a call if you get this and take care, man.


"Hello, Ash. This is Paul. Don't ask how I got this number; suffice to say that I have connections that you wouldn't think I would have. I have to say, I was truly disappointed that we didn't get an opportunity to battle this year. I can't say for sure how much stronger you've gotten so my entire training schedule is thrown out of whack. Bloody inconsiderate of you to keep me waiting like this. Call me when you can so we can schedule a full battle. One way or another, I'll see you in the ring."


"ASH! I REMEMBERED! This is about that whole tournament thing, right? Well I just wanted to say…that…that…hm, now that I've remembered what I wanted to talk about, I forgot what I wanted to say…I'll call you back!"


"Hello? Is this thing on? Ash? If you can hear me, it's Professor Oak speaking! I was just calling to say not to worry about the tournament and that there is always next year! If you ask me, a young man like yourself should take a vacation every once and a while; you work far too hard for someone so young. Hit the beach! Take a ski trip! Get your mind off of battling for ten seconds; I reckon it'd do you some good! Why, this trip to South Sevii is just the thing I needed to clear my mind. I remember coming here when I was just a boy…of course, there weren't so many buildings here the last time. I mean, for all intents and purposes, it's just a desert isle with some nice foliage, but it's nice and the beaches are just breathtaking. Now, I'm not one for the beach, but my point is-"


"Ash, it's Norman. I don't know why you left the way you did, but I have a sinking suspicion that me and Cynthia are looking in to. If I'm wrong, then I'm sure you can sort this business out without my help. If I'm right, then Roy's a bastard, don't listen to a word he says and I'll throttle him the second I see him again. Okay, bye."


"Hey Ash, Flint here. I got it, I got it! I know you got cold feet and all and I just wanted to say never give up! Trust your instincts! If you can't believe in yourself, believe in me, who believes in you! Put ya guns on, man! Life getting tough means the gods are afraid of your progress! Grab life by the horns! Fear is a reflex, confidence is a choice! Whatever they offer you, don't feed the…well, you get the idea. GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTS!"


"Ash…it's mom. I'm stuck here in Goldenrod until they get the trains running again and I saw the special on the news. I honestly can't say I'm not surprised but I'm not too worried. That must sound strange coming from a mother who has no idea where her son is in the middle of thunderstorm but, if I know you, you're probably safe and sound at a friend's house by now. One thing about you is that I've never had to worry about you being lost, or alone. You've always had enough friends that would come through for you. So…be safe and call me whenever you can. I love you…and I'm proud of you."

"End of new messages..."

"People are tearing the world apart looking for you because they care about you." Misty said.

"Th-thanks." Ash said softly. "I needed to hear that."

"I thought you knew that already." Misty said, laying a hand on his knee.

"I don't know…I guess I'm just scared of being alone." Ash admitted shakily. "More than anything else, I'm scared of drifting so far away from you and…everyone else that it becomes hard to stay friends. And I can't stand that, Misty; you're too important to me. You all are." He added quickly.

"But you're here now." Misty said gently. "This has to count for something."

"Yeah, I guess…" Ash said, a little uncertainly. "I don't know, I guess I'm just-"

"What?" Misty prompted when he didn't respond.

Ash looked down at his hands folded in his lap. "I guess I'm just feeling a little lonely, that's all. I know it sounds kinda selfish of me but…I really miss you…" Ash said abashedly, before quickly adding "Guys. I miss you…guys."

Misty bit her lip. "I don't think that's selfish." She said quietly.


"Not at all!" Misty said fiercely before looking down. "I…I know how you feel." She looked down when Ash reached out to brush his fingers against her hand on his knee and caught a flash of concern dart across his face.

Great, she thought, now he looks worried. She almost pulled away but Ash gently wrapped his pinky around hers and pulled her hand back.

"What do you mean "you know how I feel?" Ash said.

"It's nothing." Misty murmured. "Forget it."

"No." Ash said.

"It's not important." Misty said.

"It is to me." Ash said with a smile. "You know I'm not going to give up on this, right?

"I know, I know." Misty sighed. "I guess I just mean that…I know how hard it is to go without seeing the people you care about."

"What?" Ash said. "But I thought you kept in touch with everyone! At least you knew about Dawn's thirty year old boyfriend…"

"Twenty-two." Misty corrected gently. "And that was mostly through e-mail and social networking. The last time I saw everybody in person was about a year ago. You're gone, my sisters are hopping from town to town and everyone else…well, like you said, they have their own lives to busy themselves with. I guess…I don't know, I've never had a reason to drop in on them."

"But…I don't understand how you can feel that way." Ash said. "They're your friends, Misty."

"I know…this is really stupid." Misty dismissed. "But I sometimes feel sorry for myself. After particularly long days, I get these ugly thoughts that I really hate. You know, "My sisters dumped this gym on me," "I never see my friends anymore," "All my dates get interrupted by brats looking for a Gym Battle." And I know this is all just selfish, but…I can't help thinking these things…"

"You never said…you never said anything." Ash said

"I didn't want to." Misty said. "I'm not particularly proud of these feelings; I just thought you should know that…you're not the only one who feels this way."

"I'm sorry." Ash interrupted suddenly.

"For what?" Misty shook her head quickly. "It's not your fault."

"Why not?" Ash said, frowning at the floor. "Your sisters leave you in charge of the gym…and I leave without a second thought. If it's not my fault, then whose is it?"

"It's nobody's fault." Misty said. "Like I said, they're just my feelings."

"You shouldn't have to feel that way." Ash blurted out. "It's not right that you're stuck here while we're off gallivanting in the world."

"But it's nobody's fault!" Misty repeated. "God, Ash, sometimes things just suck and it's nobody's fault!"

"But I walked out on you." Ash said with a detached quiver in his voice. "I left you alone to deal with your stuff and I never looked back. How can you not blame me?"

"Because IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!" Misty screamed in frustration. Ash visibly recoiled but Misty went on before he could properly react.

"I…have…never…blamed you. Not once. Not ever. Even after my longest days just drain my energy away…I've blamed everyone but you." Misty clenched her hands to keep them from shaking. "My sisters…this gym…my parents…every absent, harmless target of all my pent up, impotent anger…but not you. Because it's not your fault…"

"I would have stayed." Ash said. "If you wanted me to…"

"Of course I wanted you…" Misty said. "You don't understand what you do to people…"

"What I do to people?" Ash said.

"If you knew you like I knew you, you would understand." Misty said. "Why do you think people want to be around you? Why do you think everyone wants to be your friend?"

"Why?" Ash asked, a little dazed. "Are you saying there's something about me that just draws people?"

"God…I forget how dense you can be." Misty gave a watery chuckle. "It's hard to explain, and believe me I've tried to quantify it. I remember chatting with Brock and Dawn a few weeks ago and we just started swapping stories…retelling the ones we've already told…you never told her about the summer festival at Maiden's Peak."

"I didn't?" Ash mused. "I'm not surprised…I don't really remember it that well…just ghosts…something about long lost lover…I know that was when you let your hair down for the first time since I met you."

"Yeah?" Misty said. "I don't remember that…"

"Yeah…that was the first time you wore anything besides jean shorts and a tank top…pink's not a bad color on you."

"Oh god, I think I still have that old thing!" Misty moaned in embarrassment. "See…this is what I mean. You just have this…thing."

"I have a thing?" Ash said.

"You just have a thing okay!" Misty said. "Don't look at me like that! Everyone can see it…"

"Everyone can see my thing?" Ash said

"Shut up!" Misty said, blushing. "That's not what I-"

A clap of thunder followed by a bright flash plunged the room into darkness. Misty jumped at the loss of power and though she fought an urge to grab Ash's hand she felt him reach out and grab her hand himself.

"Wh-what happened?" Ash asked.

"Must've hit the power line." Misty said. "That, or we've gone partially blind."

"I thought Gyms had backup generators." Ash said.

"Just for the tanks; keeps the ice cold for the Dewgong." Misty unconsciously shifted a little closer to Ash. "It's gonna get cold tonight, though."

"Hm…" Ash said. "Right…" They were quiet for a second before Ash asked, "So…my thing…"

"R-right…" Misty said. "Well…it's really hard to explain…but I don't know why you sell yourself so short. Right now, you're doubting and second-guessing yourself for no reason. You don't need to act so lonely; you've got one of the biggest families in the world. There's just some…thing about you that makes people want to be around you. I saw it, Brock saw it…even your father saw it. You have this…powerful attraction that makes us want to be with you. It's like we can tell…you're someone special. So, we decide to follow you. And after we get to know you, it makes us glad we did. Because just being around you…makes us better. Your infernally stubborn attitude and unfailingly good heart rub off on us. We love to be with you because…you make it so easy to…love you."

"L-Love me?" Ash said.

"We all love you." Misty said, feeling her throat tighten up. "Some of us…more than others."

And then, Misty felt something strange take hold of her. Maybe it was the mental exhaustion of Ash's story, maybe it was the stress of her work week piling up on her or maybe it was fourteen year old Misty sensing a weakness in her prison and breaking free. Whatever it was, Misty leaned in to kiss Ash…

Or at least she wanted to.

You see, Misty didn't have a lot of romantic experience. Truth was, being a Gym Leader consumed most of her time and her dates had a damnably annoying habit of being interrupted by plucky young trainers looking for a battle. So, even under the best conditions, Misty wasn't the most experienced kisser. That being said, sitting sideways in the dark was not the best condition. So, whatever tender gesture of affection Misty was planning, she ended up falling forward and headbutting Ash across the face.


"Ow!" Ash said, grabbing his forehead. "Hey! Wh-what I do?"

"Nutting!" Misty said, holding her nose. "Nutting! I'b sawwy…"

"I know I've been kinda whiny lately but did you have to go and headbutt me?"

"I waddn't twying to hedbutt yu!" Misty said, thankful that the blood rushing to her cheeks wasn't coming out her nose. "I wad twying do kith yu!"

"Hey, are you alright? Did you hit your nose or some-" Ash froze in mid sentence as his brain caught up with what Misty said. "Y-you…ah, what?"

"I was trying to kiss you but I slipped and fell and hit my stupid nose and now all I want to do is melt into the couch and die." Misty blurted out.

Misty heard Ash swallow hard. "Y-y-you were going to…um…h-hey, r-run that by me again? Wh-why…ah…"

Having completely abandoned her allotted dignity for the day, Misty said. "I…I don't know why. It's just something I always wanted to do and I figured…you know what, it doesn't matter." Misty shook her head quickly as she was overwhelmed with a fresh wave of humiliation. "Just…just forget it."

"Wait…Misty." Ash said

"I-I'm just going to b-bed…I'll see you in th-"


"Ow, ow, ow!" Misty cried as Ash's face unceremoniously slammed into hers. "Demmit, I thed I wath sawwy!"

"Sawwy…sawwy…" Ash said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "I didet mean to…"

"Watevah…" Misty mumbled, shaking her head out. "Did y-you…I m-mean were you going t-to…"

"Uh…w-well… yeah." Ash mumbled hesitantly. "I-I figured as long as we were talking about it…I mean, i-it's not like I haven't…considered it."

Misty swallowed painfully past the lump in her throat. "Well…i-if you want we can…"

"Um…y-yeah, sure." Ash said

The sound of falling rain and her own thundering heartbeat were the only things Misty could hear. She raised one shaky hand to cup his face behind his ear and turn his head until she guessed he was facing her. The other hand reached up to take the other side of his face, more for aim than anything else. At the same time, Ash timidly scooted closer almost afraid to spoil the moment. Misty twisted around, then got up to kneel on the couch so she could properly face him as her eyes adjusted to the dark. She leaned in, which made Ash lean back until his head hit the pillow and Misty was kneeling between his legs. Then, soft as two flies running into each other, they leaned in and finally kissed.


Twice. (A little harder)

Three times. (Misty fell forward onto Ash's chest)

After that, it became hard to focus on anything besides the tangle of lips, teeth and tongue as the three crashed and mingled together haphazardly. Hardly the vision of romantic perfection Misty expected from a first kiss but she wasn't exactly an expert on perfect kissing. But if Ash was a less than perfect kisser when they started, he seemed to be learning or at least reading her movements better as they went on. He pulled back a little when they accidentally knocked teeth, tilted his head to better fit their noses together and stopped biting her lip when she made a noise of discomfort. She pressed back, hungrily kissing him again and again. Years of secret admiration had led her here and she'd be damned to miss what might be her only opportunity. Any second, she expected him to pull away, make some excuse to spare her feelings then leave. Her lips lingered a little longer on his as if she was waiting his word of protest but he only took this as his cue to take charge and hesitantly pressed harder against her, cupping her face with fresh-learned grace.

They stayed like that for an unknowable while before a flash of lightning and a deep roll of thunder broke the spell. Their eyes flashed in the half light coming from the streetlights outside. They broke away from each other, hovering inches away from each other's face and waiting for the other to say something.

Misty bit her lip, feeling her breath hitch in her throat. Sometime in the thick of things one of her hands snuck its way under his shirt and lingered on the waistband of his shorts, fingers lightly pressed against his stomach. At the same time, one of his hands rested on the small of her back while the other was lightly gripping the back of her leg. His breath was coming in shallow bursts and Misty was surprised to learn that his breath still smelled like her toothpaste. Toothpaste. That's what she fixated on. There was an unspoken undercurrent of electricity pulsing between them; as if they were teetering on the edge of a cliff with no way of knowing what was at the bottom.

"You know…w-we can stop…i-if you want…" Misty said shakily.

Ash shook his head. "No…not if you don't want to…"


"Me neither." Ash said sheepishly

"Okay…" Misty said. "But promise you'll say something if things get…weird."

"They won't." Ash said, leaning in and kissing her again.

Outside, thunder rumbled and rain poured down and the storm redoubled its strength.

Meanwhile, in a smoky old bar, halfway across the world, Roy stared blankly into his empty glass. He rolled it around on the table long after he drained it, staring at his reflection in the bottom imposed on the dingy bartop. Smoke hung in the air despite the fact that there didn't seem to be anything actively producing it. Still, it was the only place quiet enough to think in. Roy thought of staying at the Pokèmon Center until his team had finished healing but he found the lumpy chairs and hospital air too uncomfortable.

Speaking of uncomfortable, the TV over the bar played the result of Roy's latest meddling every fifteen minutes on the news, sports and gossip channels playing over the bar.

You know; in case he forgot.

Somewhere in-between refills, the bartender drew Roy's attention away from the screens. "Hey," Roy met the bartender's eyes. "I have to take a call out back. Could you just…"

"Yeah, sure." Roy said, waving him off. The bartender mumbled incoherent thanks before disappearing out the back door.

"And thus concluded this year's Sinnoh Cup, almost three hours ago." The sportscaster concluded on the TV above Roy. "With no conclusive victory against Cynthia, she remains the Sinnoh Grand Champion until next year. Still no word from Kanto's Ash Ketchum who disappeared shortly before he was slated to compete in the finals. Many analysts believe that Ash's disappearance was a significant contributing factor in the brevity of this year's-"

"Oh, shut up." Roy growled, reaching for the remote across the bar. "I get it already…" Roy sighed in spite of himself, swallowing a piece of ice with a grimace reflected in the mirror across the bar. He met his reflection with a scowl, still unable to shake the cloud of gloom that hung around him

"Well, well, well; I thought I'd find you here."

Roy's stomach dropped somersaulted, kickflipped and landed shakily upside down. He knew that voice; he'd heard that voice thousands of times before. Problem was, the last time Roy heard that voice it was attached to a mouth, attached to a head, attached to body, attached to an arm, attached to a fist that last attached itself to the side of his head at high speeds. Before he could turn around, the voice and the man that went with it had taken a seat beside him.

"Hey Roy." Norman said, sliding onto the barstool beside Roy. Twenty years did nothing to diminish his old friend's impressive build. Norman was about ten years older than Roy but he looked about five years younger and ten years fitter. A small part of Roy wondered if Norman was here to finish a beating he started twenty years ago.

"N-Norman…" Roy said. "H-hey…l-long time no see."

"Mm. I guess it has." Norman said. "Longer still since I was out all night looking for you. You're a tough man to get a hold of."

"L-looking for me?" Roy said. "Um…how did you…well, how did you know where to find me?"

"I found you, thank you very much." A second, familiar voice chimed in from the doorway. It sounded older, surer than the last time he heard it but then again the last time he heard it, it was choked with tears and slowly backing away from him; people change.

"It's amazing what you can do when you flash League certification in someone's face." Cynthia said, taking a seat on Roy's other side. "I made a few calls and found out from nurse at the Center that you dropped your Pokèmon off about an hour ago. So, since you weren't at the hospital, I figured you were here."

"Well, it was the only other place that was open." Roy chuckled weakly. "Just killing time…"

"Is that so?" Norman said quietly.

"It's…wow; it's been a while huh?" Roy said lamely, still warily keeping an eye on Norman.

"Oh, twenty years, give or take." Cynthia said with an impish wink. "Hey, don't bars usually have bartenders?"

"He stepped out for a second; I think his wife-hey!" Cynthia hopped the bar and started rifling through the rows of bottles. "Wh-what's gotten into you?"

"Nothing." Cynthia said. "Just helping myself."

"You can't just do that!" Roy said.

"I can't?" Cynthia said in mock indignation. "That's weird because I think, I think I just did."


"You can't fight her, Roy." Norman said wearily. "I learned that a long time ago."

"Smart man." Cynthia said. "Where do you think they keep the ice around here?"

"I…Ice?" Roy said, rubbing his eyes wearily. "You want ice?"

"Yeah…among other things." Cynthia said, holding a half empty bottle up to the light and shaking the contents around.

"Great. Well…not for nothing but what are you guys doing here? It's not like…well, we haven't really kept in touch or anything."

"Good question!" Cynthia said, adding mint and lemon to a martini shaker and picking up a few glasses from the shelf. "Norman, you want to enlighten him?"

"I got a phone call from my daughter early tonight." Norman said without preamble. "It turns out an old friend of hers failed to turn up for a check in at the Sinnoh League Championships."

"What does that…oh." Roy said dumbly. "Oh…"

"Actually I called first." Cynthia said. "And I have to say, the matches were pretty damn pathetic without your boy to liven things up."

"So how did I know about Ash and I?" Roy said.

"I only made the connection recently." Norman said. "He sort of looks like you but I never knew Delia's last name was Ketchum so it wasn't like I knew he was yours. Of course when I heard about all of this…"

"You immediately thought about me." Roy said, bitterly. "Was it that obvious I was involved?"

"Let's face it; you're a pretty shitty father." Cynthia said, wincing as she sipped her drink. "Damnit, where is the ice?"

Roy slammed his fist against the bar. "Well it's not like I try to, damnit! I don't make it a point or go out of my way to be a jackass! It's just…"

"It comes naturally to you." Norman said. "You have bad people skills and you cope with that by driving everyone away in one way or another. You stay too long in one place and you start acting edgier than a long tailed Persian in a room full of rocking chairs. To be honest, you're hard to be around sometimes."

"So you tracked me down just to tell me what an unlikable ass I am?" Roy said quietly. "Because believe me, I feel bad enough without your help."

"Don't get it twisted; we're not here to pick on you." Cynthia said. "We just want to know what happened between you and Ash."

"He ran into me; what more do you need to know?" Roy said. "We started talking-"

"That'll do it." Norman chuckled.

"I don't know…when I first met him I was worried that he'd totally freak out and slug me…" Roy said.

"And?" Cynthia said.

"Well, he did." Roy admitted. "But there was something about him…I thought he was someone like me. So-"

"Oh no." Cynthia groaned.

"You didn't." Norman laughed. "As if the first two times didn't end badly enough, you had to go and give him the "come ramble with me" speech."

"Wait, wait, wait; let me guess…Soleceon Ruins…" Cynthia guessed.

"Echoing caverns…" Norman continued.

"Oh, let's not forget the shimmering Izu Reefs." Cynthia said. "Have you changed your speech since you laid it on us?"

"It wasn't…exactly word for word the same…" Roy mumbled

"You thought you could win Ash over with the same speech that got you kicked out of the Sinnoh League-" Cynthia said

"And punched in the jaw." Norman added. "That may be your problem; your lifestyle isn't as appealing as you think it is. That or you're speech sucks."

"I know that! I thought Ash was…"

"Like you?" Norman said thoughtfully.

"Get real, Roy." Cynthia said, taking a long swill from her drink and grimacing. "Your boy is one of a kind and nothing like you."

"Well, I can see that now." Roy mumbled, watching the ice swirl around the bottom of his glass.

"I'm not so sure." Norman said quietly. "I mean, you may be a grade-A flake-and-a-half and a deadbeat to boot but you're not all bad. You've got a lot of admirable qualities that might show themselves if you stuck around long enough."

"Like?" Cynthia pressed.

"You have a knack for sniffing out adventure, I'll give you that." Norman said. "There's never a dull moment on the road with you."

"Tell you the truth; life's been pretty quiet since I claimed the championship." Cynthia laughed. "You make fending off endless waves of arrogant teenagers hopped up on caffeine and deluded by their own worth seem boring by comparison."

"We had a good thing going, huh?" Roy said, somewhat hesitantly

"We had a great thing going, the three of us." Norman said, lifting his glass in a silent toast.

"So why did it have to end?" Roy said. "Why couldn't we have just kept going on? What was stopping us?"

Norman sighed. "We had to grow up. You had Ash, I just had May and Cynthia had gone farther than any of us. We had lives that we couldn't just walk away from…well, I'll speak for Cynthia and myself."

"I've got a theory. You don't have to take it as the gospel truth but this is how I see things." Cynthia said, draining her glass with a satisfied smack of her lips. "Way, way, way, way, way…way back in the day, wealthy parents used to send their sons and daughters out into the world before they could inherit the family title or whatever. Back then, the classic trainer journey was some kind of spiritual test of character that would help kids become adults. The way they saw things, roughing it and battling Pokèmon gave the little brats perspective on the world. Made them responsible for themselves and the little Pokèmon that came with them. So, when they got back, they were all mature and stuff. So, the way I see it, things haven't changed much. The reason that so many people stop their journey is because they found what they were looking for. They found friends, found future husbands and wives and found out what they really wanted to do with the rest of their lives. Why keep going if you found what you're looking for?"

"So then you're saying I haven't grown up yet?" Roy said jokingly.

"Nope." Cynthia said bluntly. "Not yet. Not until you find what you're looking for."

"And what exactly am I looking for?" Roy said.

"Beats me. You'll know though. You'll find something someday that makes you want to stop somewhere for good." Cynthia said. "Still…I have to say I haven't had that much crazy kind of fear-for-your-life fun since…well actually since I joined Ash against Team Galactic last year."

"Wait…that was him?" Roy said in disbelief. "Ash was part of that nonsense?"

"Ash orchestrated that nonsense." Norman said. "He put out a call for help and Gym Leaders boarded up their Gyms and rushed to his side. Hell, he could have started his own Elite Four with the members that showed up."

"One way or another, through friends of friends of his friends, we all showed up." Cynthia said. "Because where you are obnoxious and generally dislikable, Ash makes friends as fast as he meets them. He told a couple dozen people that he was taking on a multinational crime syndicate hell bent on destroying the universe and all they said "Not without us."

"But he's not that different from you." Norman said. "He loves the open road as much as anyone. He just loves his little makeshift family more."

"I don't know. Maybe if Ash had travelled with me for a while things might have been different." Roy said. "Maybe if I had actually spent time raising him things could have…"

"Could have, would have, should have…" Cynthia said dismissively. "Too late for any of that now.

"Yeah, I guess…damn, I really screwed him up, didn't I?" Roy said.

"Nah." Norman said. "Look, you could have handled this a hell of a lot better than you did but you're not going to do any lasting damage. Anyone else would probably be reduced to a state of catatonic identity crisis but at worst Ash is probably…in Cerulean City."

"For what; the ocean view?" Roy said.

"Why would he be in…oh!" Cynthia winked knowingly. "Gotcha."

"Wait, why is he in Cerulean City?" Roy said.

"It's Misty." Norman said simply.

"I guess…though the mist probably won't roll in until morning-"

"Not the mists you dunce…" Cynthia sighed. "I thought the wandering badge collector would at least know the name of the Cerulean Gym Leader."

"May always tells me that Misty has a talent for straightening people out; namely your son." Norman said. "I wouldn't worry about it too much."

"Alright…" Roy said glumly.

"Oh, what; is that a hint of remorse I detect?" Cynthia said, nudging Roy with her elbow. "Of all the hearts you've broken, is this the only one that gives you pause?"

"I guess…I can't help it; I feel like this is all my fault." Roy admitted

"Well…" Cynthia said.

"I know, I know." Roy sighed.

"Kids, huh?" Norman said. "They have that effect on you. Truth be told, I'm here for my son and daughter's sake more than mine."

"Don't worry." Cynthia said. "Remorse is a good thing; it's a very human emotion. You pushed him one step too far but I wouldn't say you've totally blown it. Let him cool off and maybe…someday you two might patch things up."

"Yeah…" Roy said. "Maybe. I mean, if I were him, I wouldn't want to talk to me."

"Yeah, well that's Ash." Norman said.

"That's Ash, huh?" Roy said. "You know him pretty well, huh?"

"Oh, just secondhand info from my kids." Norman shrugged. "He's always flitting around the edges of whatever story she brings home. He's been a big part of her and Max's life and I think they're truly blessed for having been his friends."

Roy felt the corner mouth tug wistfully. "Sounds like a great kid."

"He's not bad." Norman chuckled. "Not bad at all. Oh, by the way, I'm sorry."

"For what?" Roy asked before Norman casually kicked his stool out from under him.

"For that." Norman said, simply.

"Ow…what the hell?" Roy groaned, rubbing his bruised side.

"Sorry but I promised your son I would do that…" Norman said. "It's not personal…well, it's kinda personal…a little…"

"Yeah, but…ow…" Roy groaned.

"Oh quit your bellyaching you girl." Cynthia said with a chuckle. Roy tried to scowl but try as he might, her laughter was contagious. For a second the years between them disappeared and they were young again. If it weren't for the bar they were leaning on, it could have been an open field or rocky path talking late into the night.

And to be honest, Roy hadn't been that happy in a long time.

The back door swung open and the bartender walked in. "Hey sorry about that; my son has this cough and my wife-hey!" He balked at Cynthia standing behind the counter, tossing an empty bottle in the trash. "What d'you think you're doing?"

"Oh hey!" Cynthia said casually leaning on the bar. "Listen, where do you keep your ice?"

Misty didn't have a lot of pet peeves, but one of her biggest was the phrase "one thing led to another" used to describe the saucy details of dates that ran longer than expected. It was a phrase Lily and Violet used when they came home the morning after a date looking particularly smug and Misty asked where they had been. They would giggle, deliver the line and give her the "one day, you'll understand look" that pissed her off to no end. Just cheap innuendo to cover their own embarrassment.

It wasn't until around one that morning that Misty really understood that, when fumbling with zippers and buttons and trying to get a makeshift bed set up on the couch, one didn't usually pays attention to "chain of events" as it were. If really pressed, she probably couldn't remember the trail of events that connected their first kiss on the couch to the steamy afterglow tangled in her spare sheets. She could remember a few tense glances, each asking silent permission to remove a particular scrap of clothing or kiss a recently exposed patch of skin but beyond that…one thing just led to another…which led to Misty resting her head on Ash's steadily rising and falling chest.

For a while, Misty just listened to his pounding heart mix wash over the sound of his lungs breathing in and out, in and out. His arms were lightly draped across her in a weak embrace as he absentmindedly rubbed the small of her back. She idly traced her fingers along his collarbone, wondering what to say now that they were thinking again. Now that her brain was working after blissfully running on auto-pilot, it was over thinking to make up for lost time. In the midst of the "what-do-I-do's" and the "what do I say's" Misty looked up and her eyes caught Ash's. At the same time they started talking, tripping over each other's words.

"Um, I should-"

"Maybe we should-sorry, you fir-."

"No, that's-"

"I mean if you insist-sorry, cut you off ag-"

"Alright if you-sorry, what were you goin-"

"What I meant was-do you want to start or should-"

"I let you finish a-damnit, I'm-"

"Sorry! I didn't mean to cut you off like-"

"That's no excuse, I'm sorr-"

"That doesn't mean I should have…sorry"



And at the same time, they both stopped and caught their own bewildered expression mirrored in each other's face. And it was funny.

Misty tried her hardest to stifle a giggle but it let out as a snort instead which just set Ash off as he tried to hide his laugh in the top of her head. Something about the whole situation just struck them both as hilarious and they held on to each other as they tried to control their giggling fits.

After the tremors subsided, Misty was the first one to speak. "Oh man…that wasn't funny…"

"Yeah it was…" Ash said, wiping a tear away. "God…we always have to complicate things, huh?"

"Mm…" Misty agreed, shifting so they were lying face to face again. Acting on a sudden impulse she leaned in and kissed him again

"So…" Ash said, breaking away.

"So, what?" Misty said

"So what now?" Ash said a little uneasily.

"Now?" Misty put a finger on her lips and pretended to think about it. "Well, we could have an introspective, soul searching discussion about the status of our relationship in light of certain activities completed without the aid of clothing…"

"I think we need to get you away from those league reports for a while." Ash chuckled

"Or, we could go back to making out and see how things go from there." She suggested suggestively wiggling her eyebrows. "Find a better use for your lips, hm?"

"Okay, let's just pretend you didn't say that…" Ash chuckled. "Actually, before anything…else happens…I wanted to-Ah! H-hey, c-c-cut it out, Misty!"

"Hmmm…" Misty paused in the middle of kissing Ash's throat. About half an hour earlier, she discovered that she could make his pulse jackrabbit through the roof by kissing the pulse point beneath his jaw so she had been alternating between kissing and nibbling his neck, taking perverse delight in how completely flustered he got with the gentlest pressure. "No."

"C-c'mon!" He tried to get away while balancing on the couch, fidgeting around until he could distract her lips with another heated kiss. Misty played along for a while, indulging in a few dissolute kisses, running her hands over his bare chest before tracing her lips along his jaw and back to the spot that made him blush and squirm.

"Uh uh, don't wanna."

"I'm…ah…I'm s-serious…"

"That's nice…"

"R-really, I'm trying to…ah…trying to say something…nnng…important…" Ash said, trying to keep his voice steady.

"Then…just…say…it…" Misty said

"You…y-you know I l-love you, right?"

Misty paused in mid kiss, letting out an undignified "Ehk?"

Ash took a second before responding, wondering if he had gone and said too much. "I…I love you."

Misty felt her own heartbeat rush out of control. "I…uh…y-you do?"

"Well…maybe not like…in love with you." Ash said hastily. "But I mean…I just feel like you're the most important person in my life right now…well, always really." He said with a bashful chuckle. "I can't really say why but…everything just seems so…right, when I'm around you. Am I making any sense?"

"Uh-huh." Misty said, not trusting herself to say anything more lest the fourteen year old Misty kick flip out of her chest and do a victory dance.

"Right…so anyway, what it's trying to say is that you've been my best friend…no, not quite like that. I don't know what to call our relationship now and honestly, I don't care." Ash paused as he sorted out what he wanted to say. "I miss you a lot when I'm gone; I really do. I'd always wonder what you were doing…who you were with…you know in the last year, when I would see something or do something that was pretty amazing, I'd always think about who wasn't there to share it with me. Sometimes Brock, sometimes May…always you. I missed you more than anyone."

"I…um, d-ditto." Misty said after a long pause.

"A-anyway." Ash said. "I know I'm not terribly poetic or deep or anything like that. Maybe if I was, I'd have something more memorable to say to tell you how much you mean to me. But…I just can't boil down ten years and thousands of whirling, swirling emotional…stuff into a pithy line or romantic sentence. So a-all I can…I l-love you because…you're like my favorite person in the whole world " He leaned in and kissed her to cover the heat rising in his cheeks. "And you're totally awesome in ways I can't even begin to describe." Another kiss. "And…you have a really cute butt." He said, finishing with a gentle squeeze to aforementioned cute butt.

"Hey!" Misty laughed, lightly slapping him across the chest.

"I'm sorry, but it's about time someone said it." Ash said seriously.

Misty shook her head as best she could, lazily running a hand through his hair. "No…you're not eloquent. You're too straightforward and honest for word games." She kissed him lightly on the lips. "I don't care much about words anyway. I don't care about labels or titles that try and quantify something so…messy as love. And I guess what I'm trying to say is…ditto."

"Ditto?" Ash said

"I used to think about…" Misty laughed. "I used to fantasize about having this talk with you."

"Really…" Ash said, suddenly perking up. "Go on…"

"No…it's too embarrassing." Misty said. "I practiced fluttery lines of prose and anguished declarations of undying devotion because I thought it was romantic and, at the time, I was operating on a fourteen year old's misconception of romance. Not that I'm any better today…" Misty chuckled.

"Hey, I'm in no position to judge." Ash said. "I'm much worse than you are at this type of thing."

"Oh, don't be so sure. I cleaned out my attic a few weeks ago and I ran across this box of my old notebooks and oh god was I melodramatic. All this stuff about butterflies in my stomach and dreams of moonlit confessions by the sea; I seriously counted the phrase "deep as the ocean" almost eighty times."

"I hope you weren't referring to me when you wrote that." Ash chuckled. "Because I'm hardly deeper than a wading pool."

"I was so embarrassed; I burned entire journals of that flowery crap."

"Ouch." Ash said.

"Don't take it personally." Misty said, kissing his cheek. "I just couldn't believe I wrote so much while saying nothing at all." Misty flipped over so she could face him in the half light coming from the window. "Now that you're here, all those pretty words about love and devotion seem…I don't know…cheap. Like they don't say what I want to say."

"And…what's that?" Ash said shakily.

Misty took a deep breath. "That I once fell in love with you and never really fell out. That I've been falling in and out of love with you for the last ten years of my life. No matter how long I go without seeing you or how much I just want to be your friend…it always comes back you. And there are a million and one reasons that I love you; if I still had one of those stupid journals I could have probably read you a bulleted list. I could tell you that I love your unfailing optimism or how you always manage to come ahead by your own strength or how every day I'm with you, it feels like a new and exciting adventure. But all those things sound meaningless to me. I can't tell you how I feel so this-" Misty leaned in and kissed him full on the lips for a long, lingering moment. "This is the best I can do."

Ash sat back dazed for a second, a bemused half-grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. He didn't know what to say; the best he could do was something along the lines of, "I…ah…thank you."

Misty laughed, pillowing her head on his chest. "Thank you."

"I need you." Ash said softly. "You make me…better, somehow. I don't know why-"

"Oh, that's just my natural therapeutic personality working with my allegedly cute butt." Misty said cheekily.

"Alright…" Ash laughed. "So…can I stay with you?"

Misty sighed. "Ash, you don't have to give up on everything just to stay close."

"I'm not, I'm not. I just don't like it when we don't see each other." Ash said, twirling a strand of her hair. "We're a good pair, you and me."

Misty smiled against his chest. "Yeah…I would love that."

"Mmm…good." Ash said sleepily. Out of a half lidded eye, he saw misty fish her phone out of her sweats on the coffee table and punch a few numbers in. "What'cha doin?"

"Sending a message." Misty said, closing the phone with a satisfied snap.

And as fast as she wrote it, a message buzzed out across the world.

In a laboratory a few towns down, Gary had just fallen asleep when his phone cheerfully chirped and woke him to groggily read Misty's message. He smiled in a satisfied way before drifting back to sleep on a pile of research notes and textbooks, his last thoughts being "Of course he is."

In Hoenn, May's hysterical rampage was brought to a sigh of relief when she and her boys got the message. She nodded happily, quickly grabbing Drew and Brendan by the arm and frog marching them to the nearest 24-hour mini-mart for some celebratory ice cream. Drew, for once, didn't protest.

In Sinnoh, Dawn cam out of a shower in one of Volkner's old shirts to find her phone waiting with the news that her brother was fine and that he'd call when he could. She nearly tackled Volkenr in joy who, though ruffled, was happy because she was.

Two words reached Brock in Veilstone, made Delia smile to no one in particular and made Tracy literally jump for joy.

Two words reached Cynthia and Norman outside a smoky old bar halfway around the world. Two words caused a strange blend of emotions to whirl through Roy as he read the words on the screen.

A single message let everyone sleep well that night.

"He's Okay."

But back in Cerulean City, Misty and Ash were in the middle of their twelfth goodnight kiss, curiously exploring their changing relationship. Slowly, their movements became slower and more lethargic until the general opinion was that they needed sleep because it was two in the goddamned morning. They thought of moving to Misty's bed but it was becoming far too warm and comfy on the couch and they thought of at least getting dressed again but there was the small problem of neither of them really wanting the other to.

So, in a tangle of sheets and sore limbs, they snuggled themselves together and bid their final goodnights. Misty stayed awake for a few seconds after Ash, listening to his breath grow slower and deeper as he finally rested with a small smile on his face. She wanted to watch over him a little longer but she found the lure of her new favorite pillow too much to resist. So she settled down against his chest, burying her face in the crook of his neck listened as the sound of falling rain lulled them both to sleep.

Drip, drop, drip, drop, drip, drop…

Drip, drop, drip, drop, drip, drop…

Drip, drop, drip, drop, drip, drop…




The End

AN: Boy, howdy, does this feel good to finish. This chapter in particular was over twelve thousand words in length...and no, I'm not going to do the Vegeta gag.

This originally came to me as a plot bunny during my freshman year of college and now, going into my junior year, I'm putting it to its well deserved rest. A labor of love, I want to thank everyone who enjoyed this story, especially to those who were kind enough to leave a review. I love hearing back with what you liked and what you think could have worked better. I'm always trying to refine my style so please let me know what you liked or didn't like.

Once again, this was a work of fiction created for entertainment purposes only. The author does not own Pokemon nor is affiliated with Nintendo, Gamefreak, TV Tokyo or Pokemon USA. Support the original material and support Pokeshipping!

O! T! P!

O! T! P!

O…T…um, yeah…you get the picture

With that, I think we'll leave these two alone for a while ;)

Leave a review while I get back to writing my Lucky Star! Once again, thanks for giving me an audience for my fluffy fiction.

Much Love,