Title: The One That Belongs

Pairing: Ash/Misty

Disclaimer: I do not own Pokémon.

Status: 1/16

Word Count: 1271


His father was missing.

Ash Ketchum buried his head into the blue blanket spread out on the bunk bed. He held the precious comforter close to him, and inhaled its clean, fresh scent of home. The blanket reminded him of his childhood – when his mother and father would tuck him in with this very same blanket, and Ash would fall asleep to his mother's beautiful lullaby and his father's animated stories. He wished it could all be the same again – like how it was before his father went missing.

He squeezed his eyes shut, and wrapped the blanket tighter around him. The painful memories – so bittersweet and nostalgic – made him want to cry. His tousled hair dipped onto the fabric of the blanket, and his cheek caressed the material.

There was a light knock on the door. Ash jerked his head up. He discarded his blanket and – mopping away any suspicion of tears – snapped out his Pokedex. He pretended to busy himself with Pokémon research, and casually yelled, "Come in!"

The door creaked open, and Ash glanced up to see Brock with the rest of their bags.

The moment Brock saw Ash, he immediately knew something was wrong, no matter how hard Ash tried to conceal it. He plonked down the suitcases on the floor with a thud, and walked over to sit beside Ash on the bed.

"Is everything alright?" Brock asked.

Ash mustered up a cheerful smile. "Of course, Brock, everything's fine."

Brock gave him a suspicious look, before taking off his green-and-orange vest, and collapsing onto the cot at the back of the room.

"Brock?" Ash asked. "Why are we here?"

Brock offered a smug little smile. "I thought you needed a break from Pokémon training. There's been a lot of pressure on you lately, and I think you need to cool off."

Ash nodded briefly. "Good idea. How long?"

"1 month should be sufficient," Brock said.

Ash scrambled into a sitting position. "1 month? No way, Brock! I have so much training to do, and I – I-"

Brock shushed him. "Besides, I've got a bit of a surprise for you as well."

Ash's eyebrows shot up. "What is it?"

Brock shook his head. "It wouldn't be a surprise now if I told you, would it?"

"Brock, please tell me..." Ash whined.

Brock stood up, ignoring Ash's pleas. He walked over and examined the small kitchen in their dorm room. He cringed at the sight of the scraped counters and rusted pots and pans. The drawers were scratched and the dishwasher was yellow. "Cheap," he muttered to himself.

He proceeded to check out the bathroom, and sighed in relief when it was fairly clean and usable.

"Brocko," he heard Ash call from the bunk bed.

"Yeah?" Brock was still inspecting the shower and sink.

"How come there's three extra beds?"

That caught Brock's attention. His lips curled into a smile as he strode back into the room. "One is for Dawn, of course."

"Dawn's staying with us?" Ash ran his hand through his hair. "She really wants to take a break from coordinating that long?"

Brock dragged his suitcase over to his cot, and nodded. "Yeah, she said she doesn't mind." He arranged his clothes into the little drawer beside his cot and started organizing his belongings.

"Where is she?" Ash put away his Pokedex. "What about the other two beds?"

Brock didn't answer, so Ash jumped up and grabbed his suitcase. He grunted as he lagged it to his bunk bed, and started taking out his clothes as well. After a moment, he couldn't stand it anymore. "What about the two other beds?" he repeated.

Brock stared at him. "Well, let's just say that we have a few special guests staying with us."

Ash raised his brow. "Please don't say that Erica is staying with us."

Brock's face turned pink. "I wish, but no, Erica is not staying with us."

"Then who is it?" Ash pouted. "I want to know."

Brock offered a wry grin and went back to shuffling through the contents of his suitcase. After they had everything set up and ready, Brock went over to the kitchen and began to cook up some tacos for lunch.

Ash silently noted that Brock was making more tacos than for just two people. He stared anxiously at the door. Who could the other two "special guests" be?

1 month, Ash thought. He glanced around the hotel room. It didn't look very convincing. Graffiti streaked the walls, a bare light bulb hung on a thread on the ceiling, and the wooden beds and floor were extremely creaky.

Deep in observing the structure of the room, Ash barely noticed when the entrance door burst open. It slammed against the wall as Dawn Berlitz strolled inside, her long hair tumbling down her back as she pushed her strawberry pink suitcase in with her.

She fluttered her eyelashes at Ash, who waved at her.

Brock craned his neck to see Dawn from the kitchen, and smiled. "Hey, Dawn."

Dawn collapsed onto the other bunk bed, throwing off her white beanie. "I'm glad I took a break. It's so hot outside," she said, "I hate summer!"

Then, she added, "Plus, I get to stay with you guys."

When she said that, she stared right at Ash, offering him a wink.

Ash was oblivious, as usual. "Do you know who the other two bunk beds are for?"

Dawn frowned. "No," she said. "Brock, why are there two extra bunk beds?"

Brock was applying hot sauce to the tacos. He shrugged. "You'll see. I invited a few people."

Dawn grimaced as her bunk bed creaked loudly. "When are they coming?"

"They should be coming soon," Brock grabbed some cheese and sprinkled it on.

Dawn sighed, getting up, and leaned onto the kitchen counter beside Brock. "Why are you making so many tacos?"

"For me, of course," a familiar girl's voice exclaimed from behind them. "I love tacos!"

Dawn whipped around to see a girl she had never seen before. Although she looked slightly familiar...

"Hey, Misty," Brock said coolly.

Misty Waterflower smiled and gave Brock a friendly hug. Then, she turned and smirked at Ash, who had his mouth hung open, eyes wide, and a shocked expression on his face.

Dawn squinted at the girl. She was fairly pretty. Misty had a towel draped across her shoulder, and was wearing a cropped pale yellow tank top and tight blue denim shorts that showed off her toned legs.

"The special guest has arrived!" Misty plopped down right next to Ash on the bunk bed.

Dawn scowled as she saw how close Misty was sitting with him.

"M-Misty?" Ash stammered in disbelief. "W-what the heck?"

Misty raised an eyebrow, before tackling him into a tight hug. Ash could feel himself blushing.

"Stop attacking him, Misty...I think you're suffocating him," another voice beamed from across the room.

"May?" Ash's eyes nearly popped out of his face. He pinched himself. No, this was not a dream.

May Maple stood in the entryway of the room. Dawn and Misty immediately recognized her and cried out at the same time, "May!"

Misty ran over and embraced May, leaving Ash dazed by himself.

He smiled at them, revealing a row of pearly white teeth, and May had to contain herself from swooning.

Dawn turned to Misty. "Wait? How do you know May?"

"I met her before," Misty said. "What about you?"

"We competed in a contest together..." Dawn grumbled.

"May!" Brock greeted loudly. "Great, now everyone's here!"

Ash's stomach growled, and he laughed. "Come on Brock, bring on the tacos."