Disclaimer – I don't own Pokémon
A/N – I've been itching to write something Pokémon, after my rather long absence from the Pokémon fanfiction world… so yeah, here you go. This random thing. It's still a forming plot in my mind, and I'm not sure whether I should extend it to an actual story… please review, and let me know if you think I should even bother!
A black-haired boy stared at the flickering screen of the phone booth – he recognized the blinking fluorescent digits, but the video connection didn't seem to be working. He waited for a few more moments, until it finally flashed to life.
"Professor Oak! Hey," Ash greeted, but was surprised when another familiar smiling face filled the screen instead.
"Oh – hi mom! What're you doing at the Professor's?"
"Hi, Ashy-darling!" Delia gushed, brown eyes sparkling, "I was just visiting Professor Oak's, and he wanted to video-call you about something… and I haven't seen you for ages, so I thought I'd pop up and say hello. How's everything going, sweetie? Have you caught any new Pokémon?"
"Thanks, mom! No – I haven't caught anything yet… I just got here, remember? I still haven't reached Sanyou City! That's where I get my first gym badge, you know…"
"Oh, well that's nice. How's Pikachu?"
"Pikachu!" the electric rodent perched on Ash's head piped up cheerily, waving a small paw at the screen.
"Hello, Pikachu, darling! Nice to see you! Make sure you keep Ashy out of trouble!"
"Pika pika!" Pikachu promised.
"And make sure he changes his you-know-whats everyday!" Delia added in a sing-song voice.
"Mo-om," Ash groaned, "Come on, I'm seventeen years old now! I don't need you telling me that kinda stuff!"
"Nonsense. You'll always be my little Ashy to me! Anyways, Mimey's alone at home, so I have to go. Sammy wanted to speak to you about something as well. Bye honey, and take care! I love you!"
"Uh – Sammy?" Ash scratched his head, not quite used to addressing the professor by his first name, "Oh, right – love you too mom! I will!"
"Hello Ash!" a middle-aged grey-haired man in a white lab coat came onto the video-phone, "How are you doing?"
"Hey Professor Oak! I'm doing okay, I guess – I'm headed to Sanyou City for my first gym badge!"
"Indeed. Have you caught any new Pokémon yet?"
"Uh – well," Ash trailed off embarrassedly, "Not quite yet, but-"
"No problem, no problem at all," Professor Oak said hurriedly, "I called to give you some news actually."
"Yeah? What news?"
"Well Gary's heading over to Isshu for research. It's a new region, and it has lots of undiscovered Pokémon species! I'm sending him as my representative to travel the region and update the Pokédex with Isshu's species of Pokémon."
"Oh! That's awesome," Ash said, wondering what this had to do with him.
"Anyways," the Professor continued, "Since you don't seem to have any travelling partners this time, I thought maybe you and Gary would like to travel together!"
"Huh?" Ash asked blankly, mind reeling for a moment.
Me? Travel with Gary Oak?
The professor looked at Ash expectantly. Ash, frankly, didn't know what to say. He shared quite a long history with Gary, ever since their childhood days. They had been rivals, and Gary had always teased and mocked Ash mercilessly. Pokémon battling had been a competition between them – Ash remembered how he'd drive himself forward in his early days, fuelled by the rage that Gary had won gym badges quicker than him.
He remembered reading messages, scrawled onto signposts and carved into tree barks: Gary was here. Ash is a loser.
Their animosity had lessened considerably over the years, and after Ash had defeated Gary at the Silver Conference, Gary had denounced being a Pokémon Trainer and switched to researching. They'd become friends after the incident, and Gary had even met up with Ash, Dawn and Brock in Sinnoh; it had been an amicable enough experience.
But travelling with Gary – Ash wasn't entirely sure. A part of him had always admired and looked up to Gary. They shared many common interests, and he did know the boy well, even if he could be quite infuriating.
And right now, Ash was alone in Isshu with just Pikachu. Brock and Dawn had left, intending to pursue their own dreams. May, of course, had left even before, to travel Johto with Drew, and Max had gone off on his own journey. And Misty – he hadn't seen or heard from Misty in years. After the Sinnoh League, he'd dropped by Cerulean, but Misty, for some inexplicable reason hadn't been there. The last time he'd seen her had been three years ago, back in Hoenn.
Ash realized, perhaps he was feeling slightly lonely. Some company would be good – even if it was Gary Oak!
"Ash! Are you there?" Professor Oak asked, obviously bemused by Ash's lack of response.
Ash snapped away from his thoughts, focusing on the screen.
"Oh – hey Professor – sorry – blanked out for a minute, there," he said sheepishly. "You'd been saying something?"
"I was asking if you and Gary would like to travel together?" the Professor repeated, watching Ash carefully.
"Me and Gary? Um – why not! Yeah – yeah, that sounds great!" Ash said enthusiastically. "Uh – when's he coming here?"
"He's taking a ferry to Hiun City. He should be there in a week. Maybe if you could reach there by then – I'm pretty sure Isshu has a developed railway network you could take instead of the usual walking. You boys could meet up and travel together!'
"Okay," Ash nodded slowly, "Yeah, that sounds cool… um – does Gary know I'm travelling alone?"
"Oh, Gary doesn't know anything yet!" Professor Oak said cheerfully, "I just thought of this idea, and I can't get through him right now since he's on a boat, so I thought I'd call and tell you – hey! Kingler! What are you doing? Stop it!"
Ash winced as he heard a loud crash in the background – was that his Kingler, or Gary's, he wasn't sure.
"Argh, no! Not the Tauros!" Professor Oak looked distressed, as another series of crashes, followed by the bellow of a Pokémon filled the room. "Anyways, Ash – I have to go –"
The screen buzzed and went blank, as Professor Oak left to handle whatever Pokémon emergency had risen.
Ash stared at the screen, feeling slightly disgruntled.
Gary didn't know he'd be travelling with Ash?
Would he even want to?
"Well, well, well – look who it is…" a familiar voice drawled from behind him.
Ash spun around, slightly shocked.
A tall, well-built teenage boy stood in front of him. He was wearing a black muscle t-shirt, blue jeans, boots, and black aviators. He had spiky auburn hair, longer than Ash had last seen it, and carried a large black knapsack, six shining Pokéballs strapped at his belt.
He was an inch or so taller than Ash – he always had been. It was rather infuriating. And damn, when did the loser get biceps? Ash felt slightly uncomfortable, all of a sudden.
He'd been at the dock of Hiun City, waiting for Gary for the past two hours! How had he missed seeing his ferry roll in?
"I didn't know I had a welcoming committee," Gary teased, a smirk tugging at his lips, and he added, unable to resist, "Ashy-boy!"
"Gary," Ash said stiffly, scowling at the name.
"It's been awhile, huh, Ash," Gary said, his tone friendly enough. "Gramps told me I may bump into you in Isshu. How's it going? Caught any new Pokémon yet?"
"No, not yet," Ash said, and continued quickly, "But that's because I just got here a week ago. I still have to start at my first gym…"
"Oh? Then why are you here, at Huin already? Don't newbies start at Sanyou City?"
Ash growled slightly at the implications of this, but Gary seemed genuinely curious, not derogatory, so he replied, almost dreading his own words.
"Yeah well – your grandfather called. He told me that you'd be coming and I should – come here to meet you. He wants us to – travel together."
Ash clenched his teeth slightly – he was inviting Gary to travel with him! Gary wasn't his rival anymore, but Ash had some dignity!
Gary's mouth twitched slightly at this, and he considered it for a second.
"Hm… I suppose you would benefit greatly from my learned presence," Gary said with an air of maddening superiority, "And I suppose a loser like you needs someone like me around to help 'em out, right Ashy-boy?"
"Garrry," Ash snarled, clenching his fists.
Gary seemed to sense his building irritation, and backtracked hastily.
"C'mon Ash, I was just kidding, you moron. Of course I'll travel with ya! Though don't get bugged if I keep kicking your ass!"
"What? Ugh – fine! And – take that back!"
Gary laughed, whipping off his sun glasses and sliding them over the collar of his t-shirt.
His ice-blue eyes were glinting, and Ash loosened slightly, realizing he had been joking.
"So, Ashy-boy… what's our first destination?"
"Uh – I'm actually kinda hungry right now," Ash admitted, "So before we set out – can we get something to eat?"
Gary slapped his forehead, rolling his eyes expressively.
"I see you're still always obsessing over food before Pokémon, huh, Ash. Geez, you have the appetite of a Snorlax!"
"Hey!" Ash said challengingly, "I do not!"
"Yeah, yeah you do… anyways, lead the way…"
Ash did, and the pair walked towards the café on Slim Street, bickering along the way.
Ash found he didn't mind so much – Gary's teasing reminded him almost painfully of his fights with Misty over five years back… fights that deep down within him, he knew he missed.
"Geez, Ash, don't look so grumpy," Gary said, as Ash wolfed down his double cheeseburger, Pikachu downing packet after packet of ketchup as if they were shots.
"The prices are crazy here!" Ash whined, "In Sinnoh, I'd buy a triple cheeseburger with fries and a strawberry milkshake and that much money! That woman totally robbed me!"
Gary smirked slightly, shaking his head, as he stood up.
"Where – are you – going?" Ash managed between bites of food.
Gary flicked his auburn bangs, sliding his aviators back onto his eyes.
"Watch, and learn, Ashy-boy," he said confidently, before standing up and practically strutting over to the café stand.
"Hello, how may I help you?" the bubblegum pink-haired girl asked cheerfully, not looking up from the magazine she was reading.
"I'd like a triple cheeseburger, please," Gary said, his voice low, as he leaned over the counter.
The girl's head snapped up, and her eyes suddenly widened slightly as she stared at him.
"Oh – um – um sure!" she squeaked, ogling at the boy in front of her, before she began punching onto the cash register. "That will be – um – fifty yen!"
Gary whipped the sunglasses off of his face, his blue eyes boring into the girl's. She looked rather flustered, as he leaned in, just a bit more.
"Sorry, could you repeat that?" he murmured, "I kinda got distracted by something…"
The girl blushed furiously, batting her eyelashes.
"Oh – um – I –" she fumbled, as Gary ran a hand through his brown locks.
"Oh, and if you could add fries and a strawberry milkshake to that order, I'd be very much obliged, gorgeous," he added suavely, and the girl looked ready to faint, her face beetroot red as she stared at him adoringly.
"S-s-sure!" she said shrilly, haphazardly punching in more numbers. She tore off a receipt, though her eyes were still fixed on Gary, not the receipt or the numbers on the cash register screen.
"How much?" Gary asked.
"Oh! That will be – um – um –" she stuttered, quite unsure of herself.
"Fifty yen?" Gary asked huskily, one hand coming up to tuck a strand of hair behind the girl's ear.
The girl looked ready to kiss him.
"Um – yeah…" she said vaguely, still staring.
Gary leaned back suddenly, whipping out a fifty yen note, and grabbed the girl's hand, stuffing the money into it. He pulled the receipt, the receipt for seventy-five yen out of her other hand, before raising it to his lips, and kissing it.
"Thanks, beautiful," he said flirtatiously, before winking and sauntering off, to the other counter, where he could collect his order.
The girl stared after him with an infatuated expression, oblivious to the fact that she'd been royally duped.
Ash gaped, mouth hanging open like a Magikarp, as Gary collected his food and sat down across from him, looking supremely proud of himself.
"And that, Ashy-boy," he drawled, taking a long sip of his strawberry shake, the strawberry shake Ash so badly wanted, "Is how it's done!"
What a guy, Ash fumed inwardly.
Over the course of the day, Ash realized, that though Gary's endless flirting with all females was annoying, it was also helpful.
Practically the entire female population seemed to be willing to throw themselves at Gary's feet, either shamelessly goggling at the boy, or blushing intensely if he even looked at them.
Ash found it all rather stupid, though it soon became amusing. He wasn't interested in girls himself, and he found it rather funny how they'd all act like they were in love with Gary even when they didn't knew him.
Gary had always been popular among lady – he'd had an entire cheerleading squad of beautiful girls pepping him on, and that's when he'd been just ten. Now he was eighteen, though just a few months older than Ash, and women seemed to consider him devastatingly handsome.
Though Ash didn't really notice, he had to concede Gary was rather good-looking with his confident demeanor, chiseled features and stylish clothes. Gary seemed to know this as well, and was extremely suave with all the females he met, using his charms to win them even an extra-large room at the Pokémon center with Nurse Joy.
That evening, Ash was enjoying these benefits, taking a nice shower in the extra-large tub.
"Hey Ash!" Gary yelled, hammering on the bathroom door, "Hurry up, will you! You've been in there for ages!"
"Buzz off, Gary! Lemme have a bath in peace!" Ash called back.
There was a pause and then Ash heard Gary curse softly.
"Fine!" his rival answered, "I'm going for a walk then, though when I get back, you better be done!"
"Whatever," Ash shrugged, sinking back into the bubbles.
This is boring, Gary thought, as he strolled through the lush park. The place was full of children, and girls who stared at him as if he was the best thing since Pokéblocks (he was, actually), but he hadn't sighted any interesting Pokémon yet.
He stopped for a moment, moving his hands over the Pokéballs at his belt – some company would be nice…
Suddenly, something hard bumped into him. Gary staggered back, and the person did as well.
"Sorry!" the person muttered hurriedly, "Sorry, I didn't see you – Azumarill!" they added frantically, "Come back!"
Gary turned slightly, seeing a large blue and white Pokémon bouncing away happily, before turning back to the person that had bumped into him, his eyes narrowing slightly.
How could they not have noticed him? Everyone noticed Gary Oak.
He then realized that the person was a girl – a rather stunning girl at that. She had bright orange hair, and eyes the color of the sea, though she seemed rather irritated, something which confused him.
She hadn't even bothered to check him out!
"Will you move it, already?" the girl said impatiently, "I need to get my Pokémon! It hates being in Pokéballs, so I kinda have to catch it physically."
"I'd move, beautiful, but the sight of you has me paralysed like I've been stun-spored," Gary said smoothly, eyeing the girl with interest.
Her pretty face contorted into a scowl.
"Oh please," she snorted, rolling her eyes, "Get over yourself!"
Gary stared at her, shocked. How could his charm have failed? Impossible!
That was something which had never happened to him before. Girls usually couldn't get over his good looks! But this one was currently glaring at him, looking exceedingly aggravated.
"Look, if you'll excuse me, I have a Pokémon to catch," the girl said suddenly, placing her hands on Gary's shoulders, and moving him aside, none too gently, before running off again.
Gary heard her mutter something about lilies, and daisies, and how she wanted to kill them. It sounded rather weird to his ears, but he wasn't paying attention, staring after the girl who'd stormed off, her bright hair billowing after her like a fluttering cloak.
No girl had ever been forward enough to touch him – and shove him aside at that! And hell, she'd been quite strong – her grip on his shoulders had been firm, almost man-like. And she'd glared at him, and had been unaffected by his charm entirely. And she'd had such pretty eyes!
Gary's heart fluttered funnily, as he stared after her, his cheeks suddenly feeling warm.
That had been interesting.
The next morning, Ash, Gary, Pikachu and Umbreon were sitting for breakfast at the Pokémon Center. Gary had decided to let Umbreon out, to give Pikachu company, and the black fox was curled at his feet, lapping up milk.
It was a peaceful enough morning – Ash was shoveling bacon and eggs down his throat, while Gary proceeded to eat at a much more normal pace.
Suddenly, a familiar-sounding voice filled the air.
"For the love of Mew, Lily! I told you Azumarill doesn't like dressing up in stupid costumes! Stop trying to force him, damnit. You scared him so much he ran away yesterday! And Daisy, don't you dare throw a Pokéball at my baby again! You know he hates being confined! He's freaking claustrophobic! And Violet, for the millionth time, if you try to blackmail me into entering that stupid contest I will have Gyarados hydro pump your ass all the way back to Kanto!"
Ash suddenly straightened at this voice, his heart thumping wildly.
Azumarill – Lily – Daisy – Violet – Gyarados?
It couldn't be…
"But like, Misty, he looked totally adorable!"
"You're like, totally spoiling him. All Pokémon have to like, learn!"
"Don't you dare! You'll like, totally ruin my new haircut!"
The Sensational Sisters' voices reverberated in Ash's mind, and his heart raced wildly.
He hadn't seen her in years!
He jumped up, nearly knocking over the entire table, and whirled around, jogging forwards.
Gary had stood up as well, though Ash didn't notice this.
His eyes searched the small room, for her familiar face.
When he finally found her, his mouth went dry.
That was Misty?
He recognized her sisters easily enough. They were as beautiful as ever, though he didn't really care.
But – Misty?
He could barely recognize the girl he was looking at, and if he hadn't heard her argument with her siblings, he would have bypassed her entirely.
The Misty he'd known had been a short-haired, scrawny little tomboy.
The girl who stood in front of him – was definitely not that.
He recognized the eyes – the sparkling blue-green eyes, currently narrowed in indignation. Her features had softened over the years, into more mature, more feminine ones, though her skin was as pale and unblemished as ever. Her lips – her soft, pink lips – were twisted in a frown, and her perfectly straight nose was scrunched slightly.
And her hair – it took Ash's breath away. The short strands that had once been restrained in a side-ponytail had grown into a long mane of perfectly straight reddish-orange hair that spilled over her shoulders and down to her waist like a waterfall.
She'd grown taller as well, and she'd – filled out. She was slim, yes, but he certainly couldn't call her scrawny anymore.
She was wearing a pair of white shorts over long, toned legs, a dark blue tank top that complemented her eyes, and a little white bolero on top. She carried a yellow backpack and there were six Pokéballs attached to her belt.
She was still arguing with her sisters, and she hadn't noticed Ash, who continued to stare at her in amazement.
Then, there was a yellow blur, as Pikachu leapt out of his arms, scampering towards her, with an ecstatic cry of 'Pikachupi!'
Misty's head snapped to the side, and her eyes found the little mouse. All traces of anger disappeared from her face, and she broke into a smile.
"Pikachu!" Misty cried, sounding shocked, gathering the Pokémon into her arms and pressing him tightly to her chest, "I've missed you! It's been ages!"
"Pika! Pikachu!" Pikachu agreed happily, nuzzling Misty's cheek, before giving her a lick.
Misty giggled, still looking somewhat dazed, her blue-green eyes flicking upwards.
They met Ash's wide brown ones.
Misty's face lit up, her eyes shining.
"A-Ash?" she stammered, her voice soft.
Ash cleared his throat, struggling to calm his racing heart; it was just Misty – just Misty – how the hell had she turned into that?
"H-hey, Misty," he nodded unsurely, "Long time, no see!"
She began walking towards him, but Gary spoke up suddenly, stepping ahead and running a hand carelessly through his spikes.
"Hey," he murmured, "We meet again… sorry I didn't recognize you the first time, but you've really changed over the last few years when I'd seen you travelling with Ash."
Misty stopped abruptly, looking at him for a moment, before recognition flashed in her eyes.
"Oh – you! You're – Professor Oak's grandson – and Ash's rival!" she cried, "I hadn't recognized you either, though honestly, I was in so much of a hurry to get Azumarill back I didn't even see you properly! Sorry if I was rude, by the way. I was just really worried yesterday!"
Gary smirked at this slightly, though Ash thought he saw a hint of pink creeping across his nose and cheeks.
"Wait! You two have met before?" Ash demanded, suddenly feeling left-out, "When?"
"That's quite alright, gorgeous," Gary said smoothly, "I can understand if you were concerned over a Pokémon! Any exceptional trainer would be!"
Gorgeous? Ash exploded mentally, what the heck does he think he's doing, flirting with Misty like that?
Misty stared at him for a moment, flushing at this compliment.
"Oh!" she said, biting her lip, "Um – thanks, I guess…"
"The name's Gary Oak, by the way," he offered.
"Oh – yeah! Hi, Gary – I'm-"
"Misty Waterflower, I know," Gary flashed her a dazzling smile, "Gramps talks about you a lot. I hear the Cascade Badge is one of the toughest to obtain nowadays because of you…"
"Really!" Misty giggled, "That's great news, I guess! I'm surprised you remember me, though! I'm pretty sure Ash here didn't even recognize me, and I travelled with him for ages!"
She looked mischievously at Ash, who was watching the exchange, feeling dumbstruck and extremely out of the loop. How did Gary and Misty even know each other?
And was that slime of a rival hitting on Misty? How dare he? She was Ash's friend first!
"Huh?" Ash asked dumbly, realizing he'd been addressed, "What're you talking about? Of course I recognized you!"
"No you didn't, Ash," Misty teased, "I saw you; your expression was like that one my Psyduck often wears!"
Ash blushed – so she'd caught him staring…
"So, are you surprised at how much I've changed?" Misty pressed, and her tone was still teasing.
It sent a shiver down Ash's spine. She couldn't possible – think anything! It was Misty! She'd never let him hear the end of it if he told her how much he actually liked her new appearance.
"What!" Ash cried defensively, horrified at what this could imply, "Of course not! You've not changed a bit, Misty! You're still the scrawny little redhead runt you were all those years back!"
Misty's eyes flashed dangerously at this, her expression darkening instantaneously.
"Why you little-" she began, snarling, but Gary cut her off.
"Don't call your friend that, Ash," he admonished, "That's not how you talk to a girl, especially one like Misty!"
He turned to Misty, smiling slightly.
"Ash is just dumb. Don't listen to him," he told her sincerely, "Honestly, I find it hard to believe that someone like you was ever a scrawny runt, though even if you were, you certainly aren't now…"
He trailed off, looking at her meaningfully, and this time, Misty blushed even harder.
"Thanks – Gary," she said softly, and Ash felt his insides churn unpleasantly.
Misty then turned to Ash, glowering.
"But it's not like I'd expect more from this immature idiot anyways!" she finished.
"Hey!" Ash began, but then stopped, not knowing what to say.
How'd he managed to make her pissed with him already? He'd barely seen her for five minutes, after five years!
And that Gary! How was he doing it? It was infuriating…
"What?" Misty growled, "Doesn't seem like you've grown much mentally over the past five years, bike-wrecker…"
"What? That wasn't me, it was Pikachu!" Ash shot back, wondering how she could still remember that forsaken argument.
"Pika?" Pikachu shook its head, pointing at Ash, "Pikapi ka chu pikachu Pikachupi!"
"Oh, I know that, Pikachu," Misty said consolingly, "It's not your fault, it's his!"
"Hey!" Ash said sulkily, "Thanks a lot, Pikachu…"
Gary just sniggered, looking slightly amused, and Ash then realized that Misty looked rather hurt.
"I'm sorry for that, okay Misty, and I'm sorry for what I said. You know I didn't mean it," Ash blurted out, "It's just I haven't seen you for so long, and when I finally did, I just didn't know what to say to you!"
Misty's face cleared, and she smiled at him warmly, a smile that made it feel like he had Politoeds leaping around in his stomach.
"That's okay Ash," Misty said chirpily, "I haven't had a good argument with anyone in five years, you know!"
"Great," Ash grinned, "So it's great to see you! What've you been up to?"
"Oh, you have no idea," Misty said, sounding rather annoyed, as she walked over to Ash, handing him Pikachu.
Out of the corner of his eye, Ash thought he saw Gary's blue eyes narrow, ever so slightly
Bring it on, Oak.
Surprisingly, Gary didn't look fazed, and just smiled, almost challengingly.
A/N – yeah I've wanted to write an Ash/Misty/Gary triangle story for a loooong time… so now this has been born, though I'm not 100% sure where I want to go with it… there will be egoshipping, but pokeshipping will win over eventually, I suppose… unless you guys want something else? Let me know!
Thank you Bulbapedia, for helping me write this. I have NO idea about anything in Isshu… and most of the places haven't been given English names yet, nor have the Pokémon… this shall require much research =P
Anyways, please drop by a review and let me know what you think so far… should I continue? Or should I just leave this idea entirely? I'm not really sure myself…