For all my regular readers, consider this a make-up gift for how long it took to update my regular story, "A New Journey". For everyone else, consider it a small AAML Christmas present. Merry Christmas, and have a happy New Year, y'all!


Everything was so warm and cheery.

Misty just loved the holidays. Granted, she missed her sisters and Cerulean at this time of the year, but she couldn't quell the joy she felt spending the holidays at the Ketchum residence with Ash, Delia, Brock, and all their friends. There was a fire roaring in the den, cookies baking in the kitchen, and carols bursting from every stereo in the house.

Yes, everything was perfect for the twelve year old water gym leader turned coach on this particular Christmas Eve at this particular Christmas bash.

...well, almost everything, anyway.

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The food. Oh, how he loved the food.

The only reasons Ash awaited Christmas so eagerly were the presents and the food - and it was only Christmas Eve, so the presents weren't on his mind just yet. He had spent many hours watching all those Christmas specials about its true meaning; everything from the birth of Christ to the spirit of giving had been preached by the television movies about this time of year. And, while he wasn't saying those things weren't important, he couldn't help but admit that they were never the top priority on his eleven year old mind when the holiday season came up.

Turkey, mashed potatoes, Christmas cookies, punch. There was something for every appetite this season, and he was absolutely in love with that concept.

As he chugged his way through another gourmet platter of rolled ham and cheese on toothpicks at the hors d'oeuvre table, he couldn't think of anything that would make this night more perfect.

...well, except for maybe one thing.

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She looked up. There it was. The secret key.

Dangling below the threshold that separated the kitchen from the den was her ultimate weapon to getting her Christmas wish.

The mistletoe.

She looked around. Delia and plenty of other moms from the neighborhood were all packed in her small kitchen, sipping wine and gossiping as the cookies baked. Behind her, a hodgepodge of acquaintances from the neighborhood and good friends intermingled both on the couches and standing around the snack table.

Everyone seemed distracted enough.

"Hng!" She jumped as high as she could, but realized too late that it was just out of reach. Landing back on her feet, she looked around quickly once more to make sure no one had noticed.

Not yet, they haven't.

She gave it another try, grunting in frustration as she fell back to Earth empty-handed. Her plan wouldn't work at this rate.

"Need some help?"

Suppressing the immediate urge to scream, she pivoted immediately to find Brock standing behind her with a silly grin on his fourteen year old face.

"Looks like you're really wanting that mistletoe, huh?"

She narrowed her gaze. "What's it to you?"

"I'm just wondering what the Tomboy Mermaid would want with mistletoe? It couldn't have anything to do with a future Pokémon Master, would it?"

She blushed. "Of-of course not! How could-why would you even think something so dumb?"

He just stood there in silence, that smirk plastered to his lips.

"Riiight."

She balled her fists. "Do I need to hurt you?"

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"It really is quite fascinating," Professor Oak continued to muse. "I mean, when I was your age, we were still capping our pokéballs. You had to untwist this small cap on the top of the capsule, you see, before you could release your Pokémon. But now, within a short thirty years, we can just throw them without thinking about it."

"Uh-huh," Ash replied, his eyes glazed in boredom. The older man had been droning for the last ten minutes about his latest research, and Ash had spent the last nine looking for a way out. He needed to find what was missing to make this Christmas party perfect: his mom's cookies.

"Anyway, back to my main point. The evolution of an odd species from a region called Hoenn really clarifies what I'm..."

When will this be over?

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"There you go." Brock got off his tip-toes and gave Misty a smile. "That mistletoe won't fall off till Spring."

The green decoration was now hanging over Ash's room's doorway, swaying lightly from the force of the heater vent overhead.

"And you promise you won't tell anyone?"

Brock grinned. "We won't ever mention what happens here tonight. That'll be my present, okay?"

"Okay," she answered sheepishly, blushing a little. It was out of character for her to feel nervous, but given what she had planned, it wasn't surprising.

"So you do like him, huh?"

"I guess," she answered, now staring at her shoes. "At least, I don't hate him or anything."

He chuckled and turned to go back downstairs. "I knew it," he muttered, returning to the party.

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There it was. His opening.

Professor Oak was taking a long sip of his eggnog, and Ash jumped on the momentary silence.

"Uh, Professor, I'd love to keep talking, but I need to go check on something real quick."

"Oh, right! I've kept you here for quite a while. When you get back, I'll tell you more about what I've discovered about Sunflora's evolutionary line."

"Um, right. Sounds good!"

Before the scholar could say another word, Ash sprang from his sight and up the stairs.

I'll have to wait him out for a couple of minutes. Reaching the top of the landing, he took a hard right - giving him quite a scare.

"Ah! Misty!"

"Ash!"

Recomposing himself after the initial surprise, he gave her an inquisitive look. "What are you doing at my door?"

The redhead blushed. She'd just been preparing a lie to convince him to come upstairs with her for a moment, and now here he was.

Christmas miracle, I guess.

Gulping, she gave a weak smile. "Oh, well, I was - I mean, I had wanted to...wait, no, that's wrong. Um..."

And that was it. She couldn't think of anything left to say. Her knees were bouncing off one another, her heart was hammering, her tongue was stuck to the roof of her mouth. Opening her mouth, she made an almost gurgling sound, and was forced to immediately close it again.

Ash looked concerned.

"Mist, are you-?"

She suddenly interrupted with a clumsy lunge forward. Their noses collided as their lips brushed against the other's.

Though she wanted to end it and run away right now - screaming all the way -, she also never wanted it to be over. Her eyes were closed, she had a firm grip on her friend's arms, and the blood roaring through her ears made it feel as if they were completely alone in the world. She knew the second her eyes opened, she'd want to die, but for this moment she steeled her resolve and remained firmly in place attached to the boy's lips.

Ash didn't know what was happening. The pain from their noses hitting made him want to pull back, but something else was keeping him forward; making him stand right where he was. In fact, it was making him almost enjoy the pain - or, at least, the sensation of her kiss.

They stood there another moment before Misty pulled away; flushed and breathing hard. In reality, the burst of passion lasted a little less than three seconds, but not to either of the preteens. Standing there, turning red at a furious rate as they stared each other down from across the doorway, neither was sure if they hadn't just stood there all night.

Ash's heart was finally catching up with his mind as it began to race.

Misty now considered it a miracle that she could still stand, given the fact she was numb across her body.

"Uh..." Ash seemed almost dazed; his eyes glossed in an entirely new way.

Trying to regain her composure, Misty began to furiously point upward. "Mi-mistletoe."

His gaze followed her point, where he was surprised to see the small decorative feature hanging brightly over his door. Who'd put that there?

"I-I had to...uh, I had to do it, okay?"

Wild-eyed, Ash nodded quickly.

That made sense. That's the only reason what happened - or what he believed happened, though he couldn't be sure this wasn't all some odd dream - actually happened. Misty and him weren't like this. They were best friends...and it was tradition, right?

"Yeah...um. I guess we had to do it if there was mistletoe there, right?"

She nodded eagerly. She was just as star-struck as him, and only slightly more put together.

"That's right! We-we had to do it, but we never have to-to tell anyone!"

He nodded again. By this point, both were shaking there heads so firmly and quickly, it was beginning to hurt.

"Never!"

She suddenly took a step past him, allowing him to run into his room and shut the door firmly behind. Pikachu lay on the bed, dozing after a long night of snacking. He fell to the floor on his stomach; a thousand thoughts running through his head at once. His face was so warm, he started to wonder if he'd gotten a fever from kissing the girl.

Can you get cooties from a kiss? It was a kiss, right? Is that what kissing is? He couldn't be sure. He'd seen it on TV before, but it never even occurred to him that he would be doing it someday.

Slowly, he brought an index finger to his bottom lip. Oddly enough, a silly grin followed soon after, though he didn't have a clue why.

"Ash! Cookies are ready!" His mom's voice rang out from the first floor.

Sitting up, he suddenly remembered what he'd been waiting for to perfect his Christmas.

Standing, the stupid grin grew wider.

As he walked out of the room, he jumped and grabbed the mistletoe from the frame; cramming it into his pocket as he ran downstairs. He passed Misty - both averting the others' gaze, but their smiles impossible to contain.

From now on, he had a third reason to look forward to Christmas.