Author's note: This IS the first Pokefic I've ever tried to write, so bear with me here. I did my best with it, and I'm proud to have finished one, so if you'd review and let me know how it was, I'd be so happy. Thanks!
Thoughts After Dark
"Here Togepi, all nice and snug!" she says, tucking Togepi into the little bed she made for it every night inside her backpack. Togepi chirped its usual "toga-pwee!" and its arms flailed in happiness. Misty smiled and then moved away to smooth down her own sleeping bag. It wasn't particularly late out, but the boys were always raring to go in the morning; they liked an early start, so if she wanted a decent amount of beauty sleep, it was going to have to be beginning now. She cursed them both a little for this. Early evening was one of her favorite times of day, it was a shame she had to miss most of it.
Then again, that was a bit of a surprise. She could picture clearly in her mind the time they'd stayed with Ash's mom in Pallet for a spell. There, Ash hadn't exactly been 'jump out of bed and let's go guys!', preferring to sleep into the afternoon to avoid being asked to help out in Delia's garden. Brock would cook her, Delia, and him some breakfast, and they'd help out a little until their friend decided to wake up. Without it being spoken, Ash was sort of the leader of their three person crew, and though she wouldn't admit it, it was because of him that she had gotten to see so many different parts and people of this world. He had his own style, and due to them getting lost or just having 'luck' their jouney had been anything but uneventful. Unforgettable, to her. Even through the bad times, she'd just liked being with people she cared about.
Brock was gone now, after deciding to stay at Professor Ivy's lab. It had been hard to say goodbye, but she was confident their paths would cross again. After all, best friends can't stay away from each other forever.
She stared at the ground absent mindedly. To be honest, she really wasn't tired. Ever since they'd been in the Orange Islands, she hadn't often been tired, unless they'd been walking the whole day. There was something about this place, no, this paradise, you just wanted to be awake for. She knew she might kick herself in the morning for it, but tonight at least, she decided she was going to stay up.
Catching one last glance to make sure Togepi was still dreaming in its little nest, she stood up and headed away from there. They were camped on the side of a forest road near the edge of the island. Here there were little cliffs overhanging the ocean, easy enough to climb. She scaled down one, and landed on her feet. Here she was afforded a beautiful of the darkened ocean, which had only the smallest sliver of moonlight reflected on the surface. The night air was balmy, and Misty felt completely at ease. She sat down where she was, Indian style, and just drank the view in.
In a lot of ways, this was a million times better than being able to shack up in some fancy hotel in a big town. Nature made things perfect, especially this far south. The tropical landscape was like something out of a dream, and the Pokemon loved it here too, especially hers, with all the water there was to play and swim in.
Sometimes it feels like he looks right past her, as if she's never been there at all. They'll go on their adventures, traveling around the region day by day. While she's there, in the thick of the action, she almost feels real. He'll need her help to accomplish a task, her cheering or advice to win a battle, or maybe they'll be working together to make sure their old chums Team Rocket blast off again.
It's only when things are stagnant does the fear set in. She feels like she gives so much of herself to him, but is never repaid with attention. All he'll do is joke, rile her up… make her mad, and beneath that, sad too. He's always the one who gets something positive out of their interactions; it's not a symbiotic relationship.
Tracey is a great new friend to have around. Togepi loves playing with Marill's tail, and Tracey was the helpful sort. Not to mention he did know a lot about Pokemon, which had already come in handy more than once on their trek through the Orange Islands.
To tell the truth though, she would have been happy traveling them with just Ash. He was her other best friend, and yet still, there was a certain void between them. Ash was always so focused on the next challenge, the next gym battle, the next whatever - as long as it meant another step towards his goal of being a Pokemon master. He wasn't anti-social - that would be a major exaggeration of the truth - but it was oft like he was in his own world. He wasn't the type to sit around getting to know you better when he could be training, or goofing off, or playing with "the team."
Misty laughed to herself. It was very simple. Ash wasn't like a girl, that was the problem. And he didn't understand girls either. If it was a deep conversation she wanted, she'd almost have to trick it out of him.
She looked to the cliff above her. Sure enough, speak of the devil, and the devil shall appear. Or in this case, jump down to where you're enjoying your time alone, and take a seat.
"You couldn't sleep either?" he asks, his face awash with pent-up enthusiasm. His next Gym Battle is tomorrow, that has to be why he's this happy. She shakes her head.
"It's not that. I just didn't want to go to bed quite yet." She stares out at the ocean again, fighting the urge to smile. Though it has been a nice few minutes of solitude, she'll never say no to the few times he seems to want to hang around her, just the two of them.
"Do you know what strategy you're going to use in the match tomorrow, Ash?" She figures that starting off with one of his favorite topics can't exactly hurt.
"I'm going to start off with an aerial attack, and then Pikachu is going to come in and use Thunder...actually, I hadn't thought about it." He grinned sheepishly in her direction, putting one arm behind his head. "The Orange Crew do things differently than I'm used to. I think the best thing I could do is just to figure it out as I go."
"That's what you do anyway, genius. You're all impulse!" she teased.
"But it works! I've already got all these badges!" he insists, flipping open one side of his jacket to showcase his badge collection; a show she has definitely seen before.
"Yeah, yeah, so what!"
"I just wish Brock could have seen me though. Waited until I was done with the Orange League before he left."
"People have to live their own lifes sometimes, Ash. Brock just found an opportunity he didn't want to pass up, because he couldn't be sure he'd get it again. I understand."
"Yeah, I thought you were going to go too."
She looked at him suddenly. "Why'd you think that?"
"Well first Rudy, and Danny; I was sure it was going to be just me and Tracey left for a while."
She felt as if she'd just been slapped in the face. Did he really think she'd just leave him for some guy she had just met? Weren't they better friends than that? Ash... Misty huffed angrily, and her hands balled into fists in her lap. She wasn't sure if she could contain herself for much longer. It was no use being nice if that was going to get her nowhere. Better just to be truthful, to be real, than to go the other route. Best friends shouldn't lie to each other, or try and make nice. They're supposed to tell you the truth, even if it hurts.
She lost it.
"Ash Ketchum, you are so STUPID!" she raged, her face going a bit pink. Next to her, he startled and nearly jumped up from where he was sitting.
"What did I do this time?" he shot back, his own temper flaring up like the defense it was.
"I can't believe you think I'd just run away like that!"
"Well you seemed like you were thinking about doing that pretty hard, Misty! What was I supposed to think other than 'Hey, I might be about to lose my best friend.' Sorry if the thought crossed my mind. I didn't want you to go, but I would have let you if that's what made you happy."
He pulled his cap down so that it covered his eyes. "I'm glad you stayed though," he added, in a quieter voice. "Pikachu would have really missed you, and it'd be stupid to keep Psyduck if you're going to live on an island; it can't swim..."
Though she couldn't quite read his expression, she could guess. And what she guessed was something that made her feel just a little better inside. Good enough to calm down a notch, anyways. Maybe he wasn't being heartless after all, but he couldn't even tell her that he would miss her? Misty had a sneaking suspicion Pikachu wasn't the one who would take it the hardest if she had left; she just wished he could find the guts to be completely honest with her. That's all she'd ever wanted from him. Well, you know. Close enough.
"That would be pretty sad of me, huh? Not like I like Psyduck or anything, but it wouldn't deserve to have to flail around all time."
"Yeah." His response was curt, as if he had trouble saying much else right now.
"Togepi likes the sun though, and the rest of my Pokemon love it here. It's so warm and tropical, I don't think I could get tired of the weather..."
"Great. Rudy left you an open invitation, you could go back whenever you wanted, and you wouldn't have to go back to Kanto weather. The perfect solution, right?"
"Mmm, not exactly. I'd miss my friends, you're already forgetting Psyduck's predicament, and heck, I might even miss my annoying sisters if I was away from them long enough to forget how they are. There are a lot of things I would be giving up if I chose to live here, Ash. It's not such an easy decision as you're making it sound." The sadness was back again as he seemed to be pushing so hard for her to leave. Misty mused that it probably would have been a lot kinder just to tell her to get out than to sit here fixing the details.
You always hurt the one you love.
She felt the tears start to well up, and normally she would have run off before he could see them, but she couldn't be bothered now. Instead she just let them flow, her feelings all compounding at that moment to make it all the worse. Her face now felt hot, and she was sure it was blotchy as well. She felt so ugly, and wished bitterly that he would just leave her alone if he was so happy to be rid of her. He was welcome to go back to camp at any time he liked, the little twerp, especially if all he was going to do was stomp over her feelings like a particularly vengeful Tauros.
"Mist, Misty, why are your crying?" he said, sounding shocked. The boy was so emotionally dense, this reaction hardly surprised her.
"Please don't cry!"
Without even thinking about what he was doing, he reached out and drew her into a hug. She allowed it, and was surprised that this was his reaction. He had good intentions, clearly, but he wasn't getting the whole picture. Was it possible that he really was that thick, that he didn't understand how their conversation could have upset her? She didn't think Ash was the type to pretend ignorance on purpose.
"Ash, I wasn't ever serious about leaving. Sure it crossed my mind because those guys brought it up, but you're more important."
He released her just to hold her at arms length. Their hands slid into each others instead, and eye contact was made. He seemed unsure of himself, or perhaps still confused when he asked her next, "I'm important? How?"
"Well," she paused to consider her answer, "As you said, we're best friends. So that's not something to throw away. Second, I feel like I've spent my whole life traveling with you, and I mean that in a good way. I can't imagine it being sometime next year, and we aren't on the road somewhere for your next gym battle. Third, well..." she repeated, feeling a sudden rush of nerves. How best to phrase this to not scare him off? Was it even possible to pull that off? Oh, she didn't know. But she wished she did.
His face was right in front of hers, with every sign of hanging on her words. It kind of hit her all at once, the closeness. She could feel his hands in hers, and it seemed like there could be no better moment than right now. She'd remember it forever, whether it turned out good or not. It was sink or swim. She steeled herself for the effort.
"Third," she said, closing her eyes as she spoke, "If I had left, then I wouldn't have been around to give you this."
And to his utter astoundment, she leaned in and gave him a quick peck on the lips, his very first. It was over almost before he even gauged what had happened, but it was like she had burned him. He could feel how it'd felt even now, and he found that he became curious to know if it'd be as good the second time around. And maybe for a little longer too. He thought that sounded nice indeed.
So gathering up his gall, he closed his eyes and went for it. The result was a clumsy kiss somewhere more like her cheek, but she caught on quick. Holding back the giggle that'd threatened to ruin the moment, she let go of his hands, using hers to cup his face and bring him closer to her. Things went much better this time. He felt his cheeks burn hot with embarrassment, but there was no lying: he definitely liked kissing her. Her lips were soft against his, and he felt like things had been building up to this for a long time. Relying on only instinct, he moved to place on hand on either side of her waist.
He'd never done anything like this with her. It felt oddly liberating.
It was a while before they pulled away, neither had really wanted to stop, you see.
Misty was the first to stand up, and she thought that now was as good a time for bed as ever. She'd had her excitement for the night.
"Just so you know, I would have missed Pikachu too. Good night, Ash." She smiled, and walked away into the dark.
The next morning was sure to be interesting.