Disclaimer - I don't own Pokemon or any of the characters. Why has the Pokemon anime has lost so much depth? (Seriously, it's circling the drain at this point, isn't it?) At some point I do use exact quotes from the episodes. I disclaim them to whatever writers came up with them, Nintendo, KidsWB, etc.

Author - Chibi / Warlordess

Notes - To be frank, I'm writing this impulsively so there's no plan and not much meaning. It's just a small idea that popped into my head on the way home from work and I felt like I needed a pick-me-up after the crappy day I had so I decided to write it ASAP. I'm hoping this fic does better than my last one, which only received two reviews. So sad. . .

Anyway, ages aren't too important in this one. Um, it's about Misty, her psyche or consciousness or whatever, so the narration and dialogue will take place randomly throughout time. Something might take place when she's twelve and then something else might take place when she's sixteen. So, ah, that's it. Please enjoy and tell me what you thought in a review!

OoO

Title - "Her Type"

Summary - Because they would always ask her what she liked and she could never give them a straight answer.

OoO

"Really, Misty, I don't see why you don't get a boyfriend!" Fourteen year old Daisy laughed at her youngest sibling as though she wasn't demeaning her, a nameless boy on her arm as they stood at the door. Misty had decided against memorizing faces awhile ago.

"You don't - like - see it? 'Cause I totally do!" Lily scoffed in what could have been perceived as a biting tone. "I mean, look at her! It's hard to walk up to some guy and ask them out when all they're going to do is stare at her much more beautiful and talented older sisters! I admit that I feel a little sorry for her. . ."

Misty's brow furrowed. That wasn't it at all. But her sisters could say what they wanted. She wouldn't be home for much longer anyway. Once she'd come of age, she would leave this place and go somewhere really far away where they couldn't bother her about such stupid things.

"Now, now; I'm sure that's not it, is it, baby sister?" Violet stared down at her with her dark eyes shining mischievously. "I bet the real problem is that you're just - like - really picky, aren't you?"

"P - picky?" This coming from someone who wore only brand name clothes and ate only the foods that celebrities ate, or else someone who always judged her potential socialite acquaintances based on their style and other relationships. And yet Misty was the picky one? "That's not it!"

"Hm. . ." Daisy finally let go of her man-candy and crossed her arms, brow furrowed in thought, "Then maybe she's just not into those kinds of things yet? She's only - like - nine years old."

Lily and Violet both look scandalized at the very presumptuous thought that a girl, no matter how young she was, couldn't be interested in boys and romance and marriage.

"It's not that either!" Misty nearly shouted, fists clenched at her side. She was really bright in the face, seeing as this didn't seem the time or place to discuss such things. All she could think about were the three boys also listening in on this rather personal confession. These boys who probably had younger brothers that they would talk to about this very thing as soon as they got home that evening, and then they would laugh at her, just like her sisters were now.

But really, she'd grown up with three really pretty older siblings who were always the talk of the town. They were nearly constantly interviewed and photographed for local magazines, promoted by the League as the newly-claimed Cerulean Gym Leaders, and she had heard rumors that a fan club would be starting soon. But still, pretty girls always attracted the eyes of handsome boys, and those boys came calling almost every day. Of course she was interested in romance; she'd been surrounded by it for most of her life!

Why, even tonight her sisters were going out on a triple-date with one another. And who would be left home alone? Again?

"Well then, I don't - like - get it. . ." Daisy sighed with a shrug. Maybe she was really trying to be supportive in her own way, suggesting that all Misty had to do was try if she really wanted a boyfriend of her own.

"Maybe boys in Cerulean just don't - like - suit her. Our Misty is a little hothead; they could be too boring for her." Violet shrugged, and that seemed to be the end of it. Her sisters grabbed their coats and reclaimed their young men before walking out the door.

Misty exhaled deeply, partially glad they were finally gone and yet, still a little bit curious about the questions they'd asked. She really did want to be a part of that. Of course, getting a boyfriend didn't automatically mean she would be able to go out with her sisters on their group dates but it sure seemed like such a thing would be far more within her grasp if she could just pick and choose someone. . .

But surely not just anyone would do, right?

And she slapped her forehead, finally figuring out what the problem was. She wasn't looking for a crush. She was looking for the crush. She wasn't looking for a guy. She was looking for the guy! And for right now, she would simply have to remain in love with love.

"Hey Misty," Duplica asked just a little while before Ash and his friends would be leaving to continue on their journey, "do you and Ash have a thing?"

"A - a thing?" Misty asked, clearly flustered, and maybe just a little bit appalled. She should have seen this coming, "N - no! I mean, uh, n - no. . . He's not really my type." Though she had no idea what she meant by that, being only eleven years old and having absolutely no experience with guys other than watching her sisters flirt and date almost every single one in Cerulean.

"Your type, huh? And what would that be?" But Duplica wasn't asking as if to put her on the spot. Rather, she seemed curious about Misty's motives. Why walk around the world with a guy if you didn't care that much? Because a lot of girls had love on the brain when they left home. Boys wanted to be Pokemon Masters, and the adventure of exploring far off lands and ruins. Girls wanted to be Masters too, alongside the chance to meet the handsome prince of their dreams.

"Uh, well. . ." The redhead glanced around and around as though looking for something to distract her from having to continue. But darn, they'd already blasted Team Rocket off for the day at this point, and Ash and Brock were still inside the Imate house, ". . . the kind of guy who knows me really well, I guess. Someone who doesn't mind taking a hit for me, someone who looks up to me a little bit. . . Someone who watches me grow into myself while they're also growing. Someone who respects my talents. . ." And as she finished, she couldn't help imagining a shadowy male figure cheering for her in a huge water-oriented battle arena, or else staring her down with confidence and support. They would both be fighting wholeheartedly yet fair when they were forced to face one another. No dirty tricks, no secrets, no bad jokes or insults, because they both knew that the other one was serious about their goals.

"You do realize I'm asking about guys, not pets; right?" Duplica laughed at Misty's description, sending the redhead into a state of blushing irritation.

She didn't mention to Duplica about those images floating to her head, though she wasn't sure why. They were just hopes, right? It wasn't like she was foretelling the future. . .

"I just don't get you!" Misty nearly hollered as she pulled Brock away from some random girl on the street by the ear. He was yelping and hopping along behind her on one foot, his eyes watering from the pain. Finally she let go and stared him grimly in the face. "You're so fickle, Brock. That's probably why girls don't take you seriously when you confess to them, since you'll run off after the very next pretty face you see!"

"But I'm always serious! I'm serious about her," and he pointed to another random girl, "and her," pointing again, "oh, and look at her!" He drooled a little bit, his spine going limp as a female trainer walked by in a mini-skirt.

"Don't you get it? That's not serious! If you have your eyes on so many people at once, the one you really want could slip by unnoticed! Doesn't that matter to you?"

Brock blinked and then clapped a fist into an open palm as though something had finally dawned on him.

"Is that why you're following Ash around all this time? Because you don't want him to slip away with some other girl?"

"Th - that's not. . . ! We aren't even talking about me, are we?" Although Misty couldn't help eyeing aforementioned trainer as he walked up to another woman to ask for directions to the PokeCenter. Brock had been doing it at first but had been too easily distracted by long legs and eyelashes and flowing rivets of hair. She felt one of her own eyes twitch but shook it off. Ash was not - repeat, not - going to run off with another girl. If nothing else, a wrecking crew would be necessary first just to wake his hormones from their extended hibernation.

"Really Brock, I'm trying to help you. Take it from me; I know what love is. And what you do when you see a pretty girl isn't it. It won't get you anywhere. No girl will fall for those stupid one-liners or fancy sonnets you recite to them. This is the twentieth century. Shakespeare's dead, Romeo. So sorry to disappoint." Although she too may have been a little upset about it, being the romantic that she was.

"You're right I guess, though you're quite the cynic, Misty. . ." Brock noted, a hand to his chin and a gleam in his eye, "but I bet that you're the same as me under that tough exterior. Just because you haven't bloomed doesn't mean you're not beautiful too."

". . . W - what?" Misty gaped for a second, unable to hold her ground and having to take a step backwards. What the heck was going on?

"Hair like the sun - though you hide it carelessly in that ponytail, skin like the grains of sand on the beach. It's easy to see why you were named after something to do with water; and you love it so much, don't you? It suites you. Eyes like the ocean. . . Have you caused men to drown in them yet? And you yell and throw fits because it's your stormy temperament but really, you're just hiding how much you care for everyone. You're ideal, even if you're still maturing. You're fas - fascin. . ." He tried to continue but couldn't, his knees nearly buckling as laughter erupted from his throat. Misty looked horrified, but she looked far more furious when she realized just what he'd been trying to pull.

"Y - you idiot!" She shouted, punching him in the jaw and sending him straight to the ground. Even as he lay there twitching, Brock still voiced his point.

"Girls. . . love to be flattered. . ."

"Yeah, but they'll always wake up from the flattery." You need something deeper, more concrete, to make them see that you're the right guy for them. She would have told him the rest of it had he not tricked her so well. She felt humiliated now, but it only seemed worse when Ash wandered over.

"Hey, what happened to Brock? Did he do something stupid again?" He asked with a hand to the back of his neck. He sure was glad he hadn't crossed Misty yet today.

"Pika?" Pikachu asked as well.

"Oh, it's nothing too serious," and she faked a wide smile even though her cheeks were still flushed from before, "He just tried to make me fall for him."

"Really?" The raven-haired trainer watched as the future breeder squirmed around on the ground, still in pain. He seemed to be trying to stand again but kept losing balance and collapsing at Misty's feet. "Huh, that's weird. It seems more like he was the one who fell for you." He gave a laugh, though it faltered abruptly when Misty glared daggers at him, not impressed. Or maybe she was still embarrassed that, for a split second, she really had thought that idiot had been serious. . .

"Yeah, whatever. Good thing the ground was there to catch him."

Time passed and Misty began to meet more and more people while she traveled with Ash. At some point Brock had left them to assist Professor Ivy with her lab. This had led to the infamous scene that was Team Rocket holding the three of them - that is to say, she, Pikachu, and Ash - hostage in a blimp over the sea of the Orange Archipelago. And there she'd faced even more embarrassment as Jessie, James, and Meowth cooed at the two of them, making kissy faces. Of course, she and Ash both denied their claims with fervor.

Besides, Misty huffed later when they'd finally escaped the torture and had landed on what they thought was an abandoned island at the time, I'd rather have someone much more romantically in-tune than him! Someone who actually cares about me.

"Hey, Myst, are you okay?" Ash laughed comfortingly as he fell to the ground beside her. She had lost her footing, overcome with despondence, after realizing that the two of them had been wandering around for a couple hours and would probably continue to do so if they didn't find some way out of this forsaken place. And then she realized what he asked. She replied to him even as another thought crossed her mind.

Fine, so maybe he cares a little bit, but that's only natural. We've been traveling together for over a year now! Besides, I still want someone who will give me some wiggle room once in awhile!

"So did you want to take the lead on this one, Misty? I mean, we don't have a map for this place obviously, but I think it would be better if we chose someone to be in charge. Besides, I'd just get us lost anyway, right?"

Oh, c'mon! What is this? "Prove Misty wrong day"? Well fine, I'll admit that he's learned to let me help him out if I want to but he'll still never be able to put me first!

"Alright, well, suit yourself! You snooze, you lose! Try to keep up!" And Ash took off, taking her silence as a negative and running off down the non-path that they'd started making by trekking through the lush forest for so long. Misty sighed; finally, something that she knew would never change. She knew she could count on Ash to let her down - er - prove her right.

"Haha, you guys are hilarious!" Tracey laughed at the two of them. He wasn't as successful at stopping the fights Ash and Misty had with one another as Brock had always been. Maybe it was because artists were stereotyped as slightly more passive people. And the two of them were always at their most expressive when they were shouting and letting loose. Besides, at this point, they both knew that the other one was never serious about what they said in the heat of the moment.

Still, this didn't mean that they took kindly to those who would dare laugh at them during times like these.

"What do you know anyway?" Misty shouted, eyes alight with fury. Ash chose to take a backseat. Admittedly, he was the one who hadn't been able to keep up with Misty's insults this time around which meant that she'd technically won the fight. However she'd probably forget it if she found someone new to unleash her frustrations on. "Ugh, I swear, boys are such idiots! I don't know why I stick around with you two! And you!" She pointed a finger threateningly in Tracey's direction as he continued to chuckle under his breath, "Just who do you think you are, laughing at me when I'm trying to make a point about something! This is serious, this is important, and you need to pay attention when I'm speaking my opinion on it."

Tracey contemplated this and then turned suddenly grim.

"You're right, Misty. Explain it to me again. I promise to hear you out this time."

"That's right, you'd better hear me out when I'm talking about - uh - when I'm talking about the. . . Hm. . ." And she felt the pink splatter across her cheeks as she realized she couldn't even remember what she'd been yelling before now. "Well, whatever. I'll let you off the hook this time!" She said with a confident smirk on her face, figuring that she'd escaped the trap the watcher had placed. But, unfortunately, Ash couldn't withstand the temptation.

"No, really Misty, do go on." She whipped around to face him so fast that he thought for a second she'd cracked her neck, though it didn't stop her features from trembling until they'd formed a vicious scowl at his attempt to sabotage her getaway.

The two of them started fighting again immediately afterwards, the words actually turning to nothing as they tried to see who could shout the loudest. Tracey, holding a wriggling Togepi in his arms, and Pikachu stood between the two of them, apparently deciding to wait it out once more. However that didn't help Tracey stifle his laughter.

"Just what are you laughing at?" The two of them finally inhaled, turning and yelling unanimously at him.

"Oh, it's nothing important. I was just thinking that you guys really are like an old married couple. Are you sure you didn't elope awhile ago? I mean, I did think it was strange for a boy and a girl of relatively the same age to travel around alone together. . ." He obviously didn't understand why they were staring at him with livid (Misty) or horrified (Ash) expressions on their faces. "What? What did I say? I mean, it's easy to see you guys really care about each other, you must have known each other for awhile, huh?"

They made it from the dock to the PokeCenter in record time, what with Ash and Misty chasing Tracey the whole way there.

". . . I bet you guys are looking for a Gym battle!" Danny said sometime later, afterwards introducing himself and flashing a killer smile. Misty felt her heartbeat pick up, her breath catching in her throat. She was the last one to speak up when Ash and Tracey returned the courtesy of exchanging names. "Misty, eh? That beautiful name suits you."

You would think that any positive feelings she developed would have dampened out by Ash and Tracey's reaction to this statement.

"You mean her?"

But no, as Danny approached and shook her hand in a firm yet gracious grip, all she could think was that she really didn't mind his forwardness. Then again, she rarely received such compliments. And yet he wasn't finished, continuing on to say she was more beautiful than most - or all - of the things he'd seen while traveling the seas. Dare she admit that she felt slightly spoiled by the sudden onslaught of his chivalry?

As the day went on, her opinion of him only grew, and she couldn't help flattering him back, hopeful that he would keep showering her with kind words of praise. Strangely enough, however, she couldn't go more than fifteen minutes without demeaning Ash at the same time. There really was no reason to compare the two of them. Danny and Ash were two completely different people with a wide range of experiences and years between them. And it hurt a little bit when she started fighting with her friend and all the Gym Leader could say in reply was:

"Haha, it sounds like you two are pretty close to each other!" He laughed cheeringly, sounding a little too much like Tracey from awhile ago. "What's that saying? You always hurt the ones you love?"

But Misty grew frustrated by those words, and tired of their constant reminder. She was determined to prove them false! Therefore she spent the rest of the day applauding Danny's efforts in thwarting Ash's attempts to procure his badge. So what if he was her friend? She had finally started finding someone who would be interested in her romantically, and had found someone she could reciprocate those feelings for. Her heart beat with excitement at the thought. . . Or, no way, maybe it was at the sight of Ash nearly toppling off that cliff!

But what had he been thinking of? He needed to have his head in the game when he was doing something so dangerous, and yet he was spending his time in a disasterous daze, apparently aggravated with his teeth grit and - what? - angry at her? Well he had better just get over it! They may have been friends but that didn't mean Misty couldn't have other interests! Ash needed to simply throw away such jealousies and - but wait! No, no, she refused to comrehend such things. Ash was not jealous that she wasn't cheering for him to win like she normally would; that she was in fact putting him down by siding with his opponent. She couldn't deal with such a propostrous thought and so she tossed it aside and left it there, hoping it would just disappear.

After all, she'd finally (probably) found her type. Someone intelligent who could stand to say something nice to her, and someone who put her first once in awhile.

But the tingling sensation and - what she assumed to be - chemistry with Danny never panned out, not that there was much time to experience something more. Still it gave Misty ideas as their group sailed on the neighboring ferry towards Trovita island, transferring to Lapras after rescuing Mahri. Even if she still didn't have a boyfriend, she at least could say she was starting to figure out what she wanted in one.

Oh, and then there was Rudi. Stylish, confident, gentlemanly. They had similar interests (beginning with the fact that they were both Gym Leaders and continuing far past the knowledge that they were both romantics) and he was around her age too. It couldn't get any better than that!

"May I. . . ask your name?" He'd first said as he stared her in the eye.

"Hm? My name's Misty." She introduced herself.

And then things got a little fuzzy. The sky seemed bluer and the water behind her, Ash, and Tracey seemed calmer. It was like the whole world was waiting for this moment to happen. She felt a little flattered, buckled by self-consciousness and shame too. As if the world would stop moving even for a moment, just for her! Still, she liked to think that. . . maybe. . .

"Misty. . . You're amazing."

It was a real pity that all she could respond with was, "huh?"

She was dimly aware of the fact that Ash had halfway stumbled into her out of shock. Maybe he hadn't expected it either, or maybe he couldn't understand why two guys in such close quarters (in terms of the entire Archipelago) would both show romantic interest in his tomboyish best friend. Tracey was gaping a little bit too and, had her mind been truly on that matter, she would have realized that she was somehow being insulted and hit them both upside the head. But for right now, she had other things to contend with.

Like the six bouquets that had magically appeared before her at the snap of Rudi's fingers. As logical as she was trying to be, as distant as she was hoping to remain so that she could judge this guy from a safe place, it just didn't seem to be working for him. A moment later, Rudi had removed Togepi from her grip and handed her baby off to Ash, leading her forward and beginning a waltz on the pier.

Somewhere behind her, she distinctly heard Ash ask, "who is this guy?" Though nobody offered him an immediate answer.

Plus the continued praise made it hard for her to pay him anymore attention. After the flowers and the dancing, Rudi continued on with words, the kind of things he said reminding her of what she'd always wished her sisters would think to say as well. But the words seemed so smooth and honest coming from him, not manipulative like when Daisy, Lily, and Violet had tried to force her to take part in that mermaid play awhile back.

"Misty, from the way you saved my sister, it's clear that you're an excellent Pokemon trainer. There aren't any water-type trainers here as skilled as you are. I'd be very grateful if you'd stay here for awhile and instruct everyone in my humble Gym."

This was finally enough for her to come to, eyes wide as she realized that this guy - this formerly nameless guy who'd appeared before her and begun to woo her immediately - was the Trovita Gym Leader.

Ash decidedly had something to say as well and leapt forward, Togepi snugly fit in his arms while Pikachu sat atop his shoulder, shouting in demand for his Gym match. Unfortunately, Rudi ignored him and continued dancing. . . until Mahri also stood up and told her brother to knock it off and give Ash his battle.

And even as Rudi called Ash rude for interrupting a private conversation, even as he used such words to finally introduce himself, Misty felt like he really was just as rude - nay, arrogant - for blowing off a challenger in leau of a spontaneous dance with a girl he'd just met and otherwise knew next to nothing about. Even if that girl was her. Even if it had meant that he'd been putting her first.

Finally Rudi decided to take Ash's challenge seriously. Well, sort of. Yes, he continued to flirt with her through the duration of time it took Ash to complete the tests he'd assigned him, but it was a far cry from being entirely ignored, right? And she was impressed with the speed and accuracy that proved to show her best friend had been training his Pokemon rather well.

But, of course, it's not like she expected any less of him.

Still, she realized that her eyes drifted towards Ash more often than Rudi. Of course, she was just worried for the sake of her best friend. Surely he was troubled at the fact that the Gym Leader seemed to be blowing him off still, rather taking to asking Misty out for dinner and dancing. She often wanted to remind him that it didn't mean anything, that he shouldn't be bothered by it. . . but then she felt like she was making excuses, like she was maybe even in denial of what it all could really mean. And besides, why did she have to be the one to tell Ash how to see certain things? Why did she have to excuse the situation? How was it her responsibility? Wasn't she just an innocent bystander here?

So she left Ash and Tracey and Pikachu behind in the trainers inn so that they could get their rest, nearly pulled along by Rudi who insisted that he cook her dinner and treat her to Trovita's plethora of hospitalities. It was all fine and dandy until they got to the room where he kept his Pokemon. They were all dancing, enjoying themselves, and she'd been flattered even more when Rudi had asked her to join him as well. It couldn't do any harm. . . And she enjoyed the loose rhythm the beat of the music allowed, as her sort-of date flowed between leading and allowing her to take the lead.

Until he'd asked her to stay on the island with him.

Yes, he'd originally offered such a thing earlier that day when saying that his trainers would benefit from her skills as a water Pokemon expert. Sure, he'd hinted - hinted? - that he rather enjoyed her company and wouldn't mind her sticking around. . . but far from introductory flattery and flirting, this was. . . this was! How was she supposed to respond to such an offer?

"You don't have to give me an answer now. Wait until tomorrow after my match against your friend, Ash. Sleep on it if you like."

And, dear goodness, had that been just the slightest bit of wiggle room that he'd afforded her?

That night, she'd like to say that she'd done exactly as she'd been told, slept on such a crucial decision. But sleeping had been the last thing on her mind. She tossed to one side as if the pros of such a choice were laid out before her, then turned back to the other side as if she were viewing the cons. It really shouldn't have been so hard. Ash was her best friend, that much was true, but it wasn't like he couldn't live without her. . . And it certainly wasn't like she couldn't live without him! Why should she stick around when her perfect guy may have been waiting for her right here? Why should she up and leave when she'd found someone who suited her type? What did she owe Ash anyway?

But. . . but friendship was important, too, wasn't it?

Misty attempted to envision Ash's response to her telling him that she was going to stay on Trovita.

"W - what are you talking about? You. . . you're staying here? With him? W - well then fine! Do whatever you want! Why should I care?"

Her brow furrowed. That one seemed very likely. The least she could surmise from it though was that maybe, just maybe, Ash would care and would just be too stubborn to say so to her face.

"Oh, so you wanted to stay here with that guy? Well, okay, sure. . . Haha, at least this gets me outta having to pay you back for your bike, huh?"

Hm, that one wasn't necessarily unlikely either. . . Although she would hope that he'd have more to say than wishing her farewell and exclaiming his good fortune as he escaped his small debt to her.

"What? What are you saying? You'd prefer his company over mine? But Myst, we've been friends for almost two years now! And your bike, don't forget that! You can't leave without it, right? B - besides. . . what would I do if you left me, huh? You're - you're my best friend. This whole journey has been the two of us all along. I don't think. . . I mean, I don't really know. . . if I can accept you leaving me now."

Misty clenched her eyes shut, shaking her head furiously from side to side. Ash was a little on the sentimental side, sure, but c'mon! Like he'd really say something like that to her!

She willed herself to finally fall asleep, the whole time wondering why the last response, the least likely, the least expected, had made her heart pound and ache so much.

Ash was so stupid, so dense, such an. . . an idiot! Why wasn't he focusing? Didn't he realize that this battle would determine whether or not he gained his third badge for the Orange League? How could Pikachu have possibly lost that first round? Pikachu was his strongest Pokemon partner! It made no sense. . .

Misty gazed frustratedly down at the battlefield from the hot air balloon she, Tracey, and Mahri were standing in. Truthfully, she wasn't entirely sure she liked the view, and not just because Ash was failing miserably in coming through with the vow he'd made as to the outcome of his Gym match - ("I hope it's somebody who knows how to lose 'cause that's what's gonna happen!") - but also because she was used to being closer to her best friend - er, closer to the action. Being closer to Ash didn't mean anything special, of course.

He made a comeback with Bulbasaur, although even that had been a close-call. His final choice, a water-type, was obviously going to be Squirtle. However, tied one-to-one, Misty felt apprehensive about the turn of the battle. And she wasn't the only one.

"I dedicate this victory to the girl who saved my sister and stole my heart. . ." Rudi interjected before the two of them were to begin the final round. She felt her cheeks light up as Mahri cheered beside her, shouting about how she'd known all along how much her brother liked her. B - but he seemed very sure that he would win this. . . Ash had better have something planned. She wouldn't forgive him if he were to lose now!

But shouldn't she cheer for Rudi, who had just professed such feelings to her? Ash had never been sweet enough to dedicate a match to her before. . .

But wait, wait! Where had that Starmie's thunderbolt come from? She'd had her Starmie for years and had never been able to train it to learn an electric attack! Should she be concerned? Should she. . . should she. . . Why was Ash just standing there, petrified, when he should be doing something to help his Pokemon? Misty had never seen him look so pitiful, so ridiculously helpless. . . What kind of trainer just stood there while his Pokemon suffered? Didn't he understand?

Oh, she was mad now!

"Ash, what are ya gonna do? Just stand there and let him beat ya?" So mad, so angry, so furious! Enough so that she was able to ignore Mahri's question about just who she wanted to win this fight and Tracey's soft smile, as if he was proud of some choice she must have made.

He looked up at her from the battlefield and she couldn't tell if he was simply gaping open-mouthed or if he'd actually said something under his breath. She wouldn't be surprised, honestly, he rarely ever just accepted her (sometimes rather harsh) advice.

"C'mon! I mean, you're the only one who can bring out Squirtle's real power!"

"I know that, I'm not stupid!" He shouted back as rebuttle. But he was, he was so stupid! Even as distracted as she was, she could still keep her mind on the current situation and think clearly enough! What was his problem anyway?

"Then don't just stand there; do something!" She screamed at him. Why didn't he understand. . . ? His Pokemon fought tough battles like this, bearing the brunt of all of that pain, because they wanted to help him succeed! If he didn't understand, if he didn't help them too, then. . .

Then surely he didn't deserve to partake of such a wonderful bond at all!

Everyone was staring at her now, some curious as to why she'd screech so loudly and angrily at her friend, some asking if they were even friends, some wondering if this was a strange form of cheering him on. Rudi and Mahri and whichever of his trainers happened to be around all seemed to wonder the same thing, was this her way of rejecting the Trovita Island Gym Leader's advances?

Rudi knew long before Misty did exactly what her choice would be. Later on she would apologize to him, partially because she had rejected him and partially because doing it in such a way must have hurt his pride just a little. Luckily her friends didn't know the extent of what had happened while they'd been there so she could keep silent about it for now (although Rudi's comment about Ash being a lucky guy hadn't exactly helped her cause).

In helping Ash win his spike-shell badge, in somehow assisting in turning the battle around in his favor at such a crucial point in time, she had realized she couldn't stay on Trovita. She was important somehow, she was needed. Ash may never have realized it himself, but Misty finally understood that she couldn't take the opportunity to leave his side so lightly.

Rudi had been what some girls viewed as the perfect guy. Attentive, gentlemanly, prideful but not to the extent that she would feel neglected or bitter, endearing, cultured. . . He had aced the categories that she had come up with on her own as well; putting her first, giving her some space when needed, allowing her to lead and make her own choices whether they were right or wrong, whether they effected him positively or negatively.

Yet, somehow, he just didn't seem to be what she wanted either.

Things simmered down after that. She didn't have much to worry about throughout the rest of the Orange League, although Melody had given her a clear run for her money. And she did have to deal with that rampaging Vileplume stun spore incident. Ugh, she never wanted to go back to that place again. Rather than it being scary, it had just been so. . . so weird. Firstly, she had been the only one of their group who could help her friends (she was not used to having to deal with such responsibility alone), and secondly was that Team Rocket had depended on her (well, firstly they'd tried to steal from her, but James and Meowth had been grateful in the end), and then there was that time. . . That time when she'd realized Ash was feverish so she'd gone to the lake outside the cabin they were using and drawn a rag of cool water. And when she'd placed it to his forehead to ease the high temperature. . . her heart had thumped. Like, a different 'thump' than normal. . . almost as if it was beating faster than it should.

B - but that kind of thing was normal, right?

Again, not much else happened after that. The Orange League championships went on without much of a hitch and Ash faced against Drake for the title of Orange League champion. As proud as Misty had been of her best friend when he'd come out victorious, she would never, ever tell him. Why, she wasn't entirely sure. Maybe it was her stubborn streak, maybe she was worried that it would outrageously affect his ego, maybe. . . maybe she was worried he'd laugh at her, or even worse, take her seriously in some way that she hadn't meant for him to. She pretended that she didn't know the answer, and soon the whole thing was blown clean from her mind.

They met up with Brock again in Pallet Town and decided to journey to Johto so Ash could take part in his third League. Yes, there were a few hiccups here and there but nothing much came until they had approached the Silver Conference. It was then that Macy appeared, claiming that her rescue by Ash needed to be rewarded and asking him out for a date. Or two, or twelve. Misty was pretty sure the girl was going to propose marriage if she didn't do something soon so she made an excuse - no, it definitely wasn't an excuse! It was the truth, she definitely wasn't making anything up just to ensure that Ash and this girl couldn't go out alone together - and stepped in between the two. Macy, who had been clasping Ash's hands in hers, felt the grip forcibly loosen and the contact end as the redhead come into her line of vision, apparently furious.

But not jealous, oh no, that wasn't it at all!

"What are you, his girlfriend or something?" Macy asked, as if it would matter to her what Misty's relationship with Ash was. The redhead was almost positive that this girl would continue to make claims of love no matter what. Still, biting her lip, she knew she had to say something; if nothing else, she definitely needed to deflect the accusations just made against her.

"N - no, of course not, I'm his coach!"

Wait. . . what? No, really, even Ash had been speechless about that one. Yes, she gave advice and yeah, maybe he (begrudgingly) followed it once in awhile, but she had never before thought of herself as coach material! And even if she had, Ash would never have accepted her help to that extent! He'd shout to the heavens that Gary was the better (the best) trainer before giving her that kind of right or power! More-so than that, saying it randomly now would probably mean that she'd forget it soon after and never repeat such a thing again. . . What did that make it?

Yes. . . unfortunately, it was definitely an excuse.

But still, no, she was not and could never be jealous!

"Well then, you'd do better to stay out of his personal life, now wouldn't you?" Macy replied mockingly, hands on her hips, and a smirk forming her lips.

And, eyebrow twitching, all Misty could think in automated response was, that little bit-

"Hey, didn't you send this letter to her?" Casey asked Georgio, waving her Electabuzz team bat around menacingly and mediating between him and Misty by the lighthouse located at the Cerulean City cape.

"I - I did. . ." He replied bashfully, his face scarlet and fists clenched at his side. Misty felt her brow furrow as she viewed his peculiar stance. There was something odd about it. He didn't look as if he were trying to challenge her or anything of the sort. But then why would he ask her to meet him somewhere so isolated? What could this stranger possibly have to chat with her about?

"So what did you want, huh?" Casey continued to grill him while Misty tried to figure out what seemed so strange, and almost familiar, about the boy's actions.

"Well, I. . ."

"Spit it out!"

"I was wondering if Misty might. . ."

"Speak up, would you?"

"I was wondering, Misty, if you would care to go out on a date with me?" He nearly shouted in nervousness, turning to face the redhead with his spine straightening as he finally forced out the offer.

Both Misty and Casey stared at him now, the former going red in the face as it all finally became clear. It had been a long time since she'd had such a thing happen to her. The last time she remembered any boy showing her interest had been on Trovita Island. She had long since grown used to the fact that sitting in the Cerulean Gym as her sisters substitute would not cause a fan club of boys to uprise in her favor. It hadn't bothered her too much since she kept herself busy but there had always been something prickling in the back of her mind. . .

"Hey, look, it's Misty! Wow, she's almost as cute as her sisters!"

"Gee, thanks for the non-compliment!"

She shook her head furiously, trying to eradicate the words of her sisters fanboys when she'd first re-entered the Cerulean Gym. They, along with Nurse Joy, had been trying to calm Gyarados down, though nothing was working and one of them had even almost drowned at the time.

"Wait, that's what all of this was about?" Casey yelped, now holding her replica baseball bat out at Georgio threateningly. She really seemed to have been expecting a fight sooner or later.

"I would be. . . I would be so honored a - and. . ."

"Uh. . ." Misty gaped at him, Togepi in her arms, trying to find the words to explain her mortification at such a confession. It wasn't that Georgio wasn't a good guy, it wasn't like she had reason not to trust him, she thought he would probably be rather polite if they ever did get the opportunity to go out. But really, thinking that someone might be good meant that she didn't know them that well and she wasn't the type of girl to date someone she'd only just meant, even if he did confess to have feelings for her. And with that, she already knew her answer.

"I can't; I'm sorry."

"Oh, too bad, shot down!" Casey nearly laughed from beside her, even though the redhead hadn't meant to hurt his feelings or anything.

"Misty, you're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen. . ."

"Huh?" She yelped in reply now, wondering if she'd somehow been transported to some some alternate reality. She hadn't cared to look at her reflection much this morning but, yeah, she was pretty sure she was still the same tomboy-ish, scrawny Gym Leader with the yellow tanktop and the red suspenders and jean shorts, and a side-ponytail to boot. She wasn't saying she was ugly (she had some confidence in her appearance) but she did have to wonder if this guy had been to see his optometrist recently.

"Hey, you're not the type to fall for that mushy stuff, are ya, Misty?" But when Casey didn't receive any response, she placed her hands on her hips and eased herself into Misty's line of vision, "Or are you?"

"Uh, but. . ." Thank goodness the redhead was spared further embarrassment by the appearance of her dopey duck Pokemon, "Now what?" She asked him with a quirked eyebrow at his mysterious entrance. He, in reaction, turned and. . . smirked up at her as if he knew some special secret! Agh! Dammit, that stupid Pokemon was going straight to hell!

She scowled furiously and her teeth clenched as she removed a Pokeball from nowhere and called him back.

"So there's nothing I can do to convince you, is there?" Georgio asked her after she'd dealt with the interruption.

"No, I'm really sorry, it's just that I already. . . I mean, I sort of. . ." But she didn't really have an excuse other than the fact that she simply didn't want to, she didn't think it was right.

"How about a Pokemon battle?"

"What?"

"One-on-one, if I win. . . then you go out on a date with me."

She stared at him again, on one hand irritated that he would try to pull such a fast one and on the other impressed that he was so persistant. It was admirable to her that this guy didn't want to give up on pursuing a goal that was important to him. However, the fact that the aforementioned goal was a date with her kind of dampened her spirit. She contemplated refusing the challenge (that she thought was a challenge at first but wasn't, but now was again) but decided against it. If he wanted to, Georgio could ask for an official Gym match, and she wouldn't be able to turn him down at all for that. It was better to just get it out of the way now.

She would simply have to win.

This is stupid, she thought to herself later that night as she lay in bed. Togepi was at her side, currently curled up in its shell and sleeping soundly. Misty wished to join her but it seemed strangely difficult. So what if a boy tried to ask her out? And so what if she'd turned him down? Yeah, so she'd dreamed of having a boyfriend and going on dates and having something in common with her sisters since she was practically still in diapers! It wasn't unlikely or wrong to have trouble sorting out exactly what she wanted in that boyfriend!

So what if she was sixteen years old now?

So what if she'd had a fair handful of opportunities to find a guy to suit her tastes (although she wasn't even sure she knew what those were yet) and she'd walked away every time?

Misty struggled with those thoughts, finally deciding that she needed further reason before her consciousness would put it all to rest.

Danny, well, he'd obviously been too old for her, and she'd really only liked that he treated her to a kind word or two. And he had seemed so mature too! Not to mention Ash's hilarious reactions to the way she ignored him the whole time. . .

Rudi, he was nice, suave and sophisticated. He had made her dreams of romance seem not-so-distant. But Ash had needed her at his side, she had always helped him out of a jam and she couldn't just walk away because some guy said he had a place for her too.

Georgio was alright, she supposed. He'd reminded her a bit of Ash, what with his persistance. But what would her best friend say if he were to call her up and find out she was dating some guy he'd never met or heard of? Of course, there was the very real possibility that he wouldn't care at all, but then again, he could be upset, or maybe he'd laugh at her.

And she definitely didn't want any of that!

Misty laid there with her hands over her face, mumbling to herself in a whisper about it all until the constant denominator finally fell into place.

There was something that all of those guys and situations had in common.

Ash.

"Gah. . . ! You've gotta be kidding me!" She wailed to herself as her cheeks burned, then she realized her baby Pokemon was snoozing beside her and turned to make sure all was well. When she saw that it was, she sighed, feeling a headache coming on.

She should have known that dense idiot would be the death of her.

"Really, Misty, I don't see why you don't get a boyfriend!" Twenty-two year old Daisy laughed at her youngest sibling as though she wasn't demeaning her, a nameless young man on her arm as they stood at the door. Misty, of course, knew better than to remember their names by now.

"You don't - like - see it? 'Cause I totally do!" Lily scoffed, though it seemed almost sentimental. "I mean, even after all these years, even after we - like - gave her the Gym title, she's got no sex appeal. It's totally unbelievable, you know?" The peach-haired girl turned and scoffed at her younger sister, "You're seventeen now, Misty, and I still feel sorry for you."

Misty felt the calm within her wear rather thin but held back her temper. That wasn't it at all, though she'd never tell her sisters what was really going on (even if Daisy had been rather close all those years ago when she'd first met Ash). Anyway, they could say what they wanted. She didn't mind staying home alone. It all added to the challenge. She was expecting a phonecall in a little while anyway. . .

"Now, now; I'm sure that's not it, is it, baby sister?" Violet stared down at her with her index finger quirked as she made her generic assumption. "I bet the real problem is that you're just - like - really picky, aren't you?"

"Hm. . . you may be right." She replied with a grin that could almost have been presumed as peaceful. "That could be the problem, couldn't it?"

"Hm. . ." Daisy finally let go of her man-candy and crossed her arms, brow furrowed in thought, "Are you still not into this kind of thing? I mean, you - like - had an excuse when you were nine years old but by now I would have thought. . ."

Lily and Violet both looked scandalized at the very presumptuous thought that a girl, no matter how young she was, couldn't be interested in boys and romance and marriage.

"Oh, I don't think you should worry too much about me." Misty calmly replied, hands loosely knotted behind her back. She was getting a little frustrated though. She didn't want her sisters around when the phone rang. Didn't they have reservations at some fancy place on the water? Shouldn't they be hurrying along?

"Well, if you don't think I should worry then I - like - won't." Daisy sighed with a shrug. Maybe she was really trying to be supportive in her own way, suggesting that all Misty had to do was try if she really wanted a boyfriend of her own.

"Maybe boys in Cerulean just don't - like - suit her after all. After journeying around all those years, guys from your hometown must seem - like - pretty boring, right?" Violet shrugged as her gaze turned to her youngest sibling, but there was a unanimous glance between all three of the original Cerulean Gym Leaders and that seemed to be the end of it. Her sisters grabbed their coats and reclaimed their dates before walking out the door.

Misty exhaled deeply, glad to finally be alone. She quickly checked the locks, peeping through the eyehole to ensure that nobody would be running back inside for their misplaced mascara or something and then turned, her back against the door, and grinned to herself.

Once in awhile, at her lowest points, she would wish to go out with her sisters on their dates. Once in awhile, some guy would come up to her and ask her out and she would have to reject him, apologizing and saying that she really couldn't afford to go out with someone she'd only just met. Once in awhile. . .

Ash was currently traveling through the Unova region, some place far from Kanto. But once a week he'd give her a call, or so he'd promised. It was their tradition at this point. Yes, he was participating in the League there, yes, there would be others to come and that would hinder any plans closer to home that she'd like to make, and yes, there happened to be a girl journeying with him as well. . . But she didn't really mind.

She actually relished the difficulty of being in love with a dense idiot who rarely ever had time to visit her, who sometimes forgot what love was or that he might be in a relationship with a girl somewhere. Apparently, hers was the type to drive her crazy sometimes, make her worry, make her try harder than she really should have to, a stupid boy whose hormones hadn't seemed to turn on until she'd accidentally answered her private video-phone in a soaking bikini and he'd gotten an eye-full. . .

Her type was obviously A. . .

The phone finally rang and her smile widened, then she ran to accept the call.

. . . and no other.

"Hey Ash, glad you were able to find a PokeCenter! I've been looking forward to this for a week, you know?" She laughed into the receiver, her best friend's face grinning boyishly at her from the LED screen provided by the latest technological advance of the video-phone.

"Yeah, Myst, I missed you too. . ." His gaze softened just enough to notice and she felt her heartbeat quicken at the tender words. It felt good to hear him say something so caring to her. He went on to explain everything that had been going on recently, the redhead nodding in approval of his latest feat, or else otherwise reminding him to keep his ego in check. Anything less would be boring, wouldn't it?

Ah, how she loved a good challenge.

OoO

Notes Admittedly, I wasn't sure how I wanted to end this. I kind of wanted to make a list of traits needed for Ash to be Misty's type and, although it sort of all lumped into one paragraph, I'm hoping that the message got across somehow, you know? I really did like this. . . It made me smile so many times since I started it awhile ago (so long ago that I don't remember that really bad day I mentioned having at work in the top notes) and then left it alone for a couple months. When I came back to it and reviewed what I had (I had stopped somewhere around Danny's scene), I knew I had to finish it. Only, when I got farther in, I realized just how much I invested in this piece. It was supposed to be short and sweet originally, and now. . . Haha!

Also, for those who weren't sure, I decided to leave the ending open for your interpretation. Did Ash and Misty get together? Is Misty still working up the courage to confess her feelings or is she content with where they are now? Is she deviously plotting some way to ensure Ash feels the same way before she confesses to him? It's like the Tootsie-Pop commercials. The world may never know. Hehe. Feel free to think what you want. (I myself figured them to be together after Ash realized his friend looked good in a bikini but you can play it slow and soft if you want to.)

Again, this fic was on the long side so I understand if some of you didn't want to read it, but I hope that those who did will grace me with a review. It seems like Pokeshipping fics (well, mine I know for sure, but I feel like it's a general decline) are lacking in the voiced appreciation department. I know a lot of my fics a year or so ago would have received twenty/twenty-five reviews per chapter (or one-shot) but recently, I've got one fic that received six (and only after I forced some people to say something) and another one just barely pushed fifteen (after struggling at around ten for a few months).

Please support poor Pokeshipping authors who dedicate a lot of their free time to writing for the fans' enjoyment!

My new pet hamster, Misty (no seriously), will love you too!