NOTE: this story takes place after the episode "Cottonee in Love!" If you skipped that episode, I would suggest you watch it before reading this fic.
Ash and his friends were walking along the road towards Nimbasa city. They had just had a particularly interesting adventure; they had aided a Cottonee in its quest to find true love. However, Ash was still missing the point.
"You know, I'm glad that Cottonee got to be friends with that other Cottonee!"
Iris, who had been far more enthusiastic about the "love" part of the adventure, felt Ash needed to grow up.
"Jeez, Ash. You are such a kid."
"Will you stop it?"
"Maybe I will if you grow up!"
"YOU should grow up, not me!"
Their Pokémon, on the other hand, were exasperated.
Finally, Cilan, who had taken the middle road, was trying to help the two calm down.
"You know, you don't have to argue about something so trivial..."
"ARE YOU SAYING THAT LOVE IS TRIVIAL?" Iris was not happy. Ash was just freaked out.
"Calm down Iris! Why the heck are you even so angry? I mean no one here did anything wrong... right?"
Iris looked at him angrily. Fortunately for Ash, all she said was "Cilan, I think we should stop for lunch. I'm hungry."
Cilan was surprised. "But... It's not even close to lunchtime..."
"I've been talking about love since we left the Cottonee behind," said Iris. "I'm hungry."
Cilan was not quite sure what to say. However, after looking around him, he saw that they were at a particularly nice place in the road; right in between a forest and a meadow, with plenty of space for the Pokémon to play around, and possibly some nice berry trees to get ingredients from.
"Well... I guess we could set up our table here... and I guess I can fix something up... and maybe you could go look for some fruit for me. You could probably get some of that hunger dealt with if you ate some of them..."
"Well then... I guess I'll go do that!" and without saying anything else, Iris went straight into the forest to look for berries. Ash looked at Cilan with a confused look on his face.
"What was that all about?"
"Well... it was... you see..." Cilan wasn't sure what to tell Ash, so he came up with a simple solution.
"If you go help her, maybe you'll find out."
"Well... okay. Come on Pikachu."
Iris had walked quite a bit farther than Ash, so it took him a while to get to her. When he finally did catch up, she did not seem too happy to see him.
"What are you doing here, Ash?" she asked, clearly still annoyed.
"Cilan sent me to help you, and I wanted to figure out what you were talking about," explained Ash.
"I don't need help from anybody," said Iris. "And I certainly don't need from a little kid who knows absolutely zilch about love!"
"Will you stop calling me a kid?" Ash was annoyed at how often Iris would tell him that.
"Maybe I will if you stop acting like one!" Iris glared at Ash, and he glared at her. Pikachu and Axew could only groan.
Finally, Ash said "All right. What should I do?"
Iris looked away angrily, but then turned towards him with a smirk.
"Come this way. We're gonna find berries."
As she said this, she walked away, through the trees to an unknown location. Slightly confused, Ash followed her.
Ash walked behind Iris, they came to a clearing. They were right next to a river, and the trees that surrounded them were full of bright berries of all sorts. Ash was amazed, but Iris seemed to have expected it.
"Wow... how did you find this place, Iris?"
"Well, I spent years learning how to find the best berries when I lived in the Village of Dragons," she explained.
"Really?" Ash was impressed. "That's so cool! Maybe you should take me there so I can learn some things too!"
Iris smiled at him. "Really Ash? Well, if you really want to learn stuff, you should ask someone who came from the Village of Dragons, such as, oh, I dunno, me?"
Ash was surprised. "Why would you want to teach me anything, Iris?"
Iris looked away, hoping that Ash hadn't noticed her blushing. "Well, because you're... my friend. Why else?"
Ash wasn't quite sure what was going on with Iris. "Well, yeah, I guess... are you okay?"
Iris sighed, then looked back at Ash. "Yeah, I'm fine... let's go pick some berries..."
Ash followed Iris as they walked around the trees, picking out the best berries they could see. After a short while, they had a large collection of berries of various sorts, which they had placed in Ash's backpack. Ash and Iris sat down by the river, hoping to relax and maybe eat some of their berries. Meanwhile, Pikachu and Axew went off to look for more berries.
"So, you said that you could teach me about stuff from the village of dragons?" asked Ash.
"Well, yeah, I was thinking about that... can you pass me some berries?"
Ash was surprised by this, but he gave her some berries anyway. Iris quickly ate most of them, but left one of them intact.
"Man I was hungry!" said Iris. "I hope Cilan's finished by the time we get back!"
"Yeah, me too," said Ash, as he ate a berry. "So, what do you wish to teach me first?"
"Oh, you'll see..."
As she said this, she moved closer to Ash, who was surprised by this, and began to blush.
"So, what did you think of those Cottonee, Ash?"
"Well... I was glad that our Cottonee got to be buddies with that other one..."
At this point, Ash half expected her to tell him what a kid he was, as she always did after he mentioned the Cottonee. Instead, to his surprise, Iris laughed.
"Oh, Ash. That had nothing to do with being buddies!"
"Wait... what?" Ash was confused. "Then what was the whole point of them getting together?"
"Well, they were in love with each other!"
Ash was now even more confused. "In... love with each other?"
"It means that they were going to spend the rest of their lives together," explained Iris.
"Well, all right," said Ash, "but isn't that what buddies do?"
"You really are a kid," said Iris once more. However, Ash was surprised by her tone; this time she was less snarky and more... affectionate?
"You've already said that a zillion times, Iris."
"And you still don't get it, Ash. I mean, not all buddies spend their whole lives together, do they?"
Ash wanted to respond, but he then thought about what she had said. Now that he thought of it, Iris was right; how many of his friends had spent a long time traveling with him, only to eventually leave? Tracey, Misty, May, Max, Dawn, and even Brock had all left him eventually. Heck, he had formed strong bonds with a diversity of Pokémon, but they had all eventually ended up at Professor Oak's lab... ultimately, only Pikachu, who had been with him longer than anyone else, was still with him, and who knows? For all anyone knew, even Pikachu could be next...
As he was thinking about this, Iris looked at him in confusion, then tried to snap him out of it.
"Ash? ASH! I'm still talking to you!"
"Uh. What? Oh! Sorry!"
Ash looked back at Iris in surprise. To his surprise, she looked concerned.
"Are you all right, Ash?"
"Uh, yeah.. I'm all right..."
"Is something wrong, Ash?"
"Well, not really... it's just...
"You can tell me anything, Ash..."
Ash looked at Iris, and saw that she was concerned about him. he then began to tell her about his past journeys, and the friends he had made as he had traveled, and how they had all eventually left. Iris was surprised; she had never thought that Ash would ever have traveled so far, since he always seemed to be just some immature kid... albeit a really cute one.
"Wow... Ash... I never thought..."
"Yeah, I know... I guess buddies don't always spend their whole lives together..."
There were a few moments of awkward silence. Ash then spoke again.
So... those Cottonee... they weren't buddies?"
"No, Ash, I told you, they loved each other."
"You mean like how moms love their kids?"
"No, Ash, I mean like how moms and dads love each other..."
"Do you understand what I mean, Ash?"
"No... not really..."
Although he claimed not to understand, Iris could tell otherwise; Ash was looking away and blushing, and he sounded nervous, as if he had a feeling about where this conversation was headed. She smiled.
"So, Ash... do you think you'd be happy if a "buddy" of yours decided to spend the rest of her life with you?
"Well... I..." Ash was blushing intensely, but he still managed to look at Iris. To his surprise, she was also blushing, and looking at him with a smile on her face. He suddenly realized how cute she was, and how she'd always followed him around despite proclaiming he was a kid. He felt himself blush even more, but her smile reassured him enough to smile back.
"Maybe... maybe I would, if she was a particularly cute girl from, oh, I don 't know, a village where people love Dragon-type Pokémon?"
Iris was surprised by his sudden change in attitude, but she was happy nevertheless.
"What if that girl wanted to teach you everything she knew because you thought it was cool?" she asked.
"Well, that would make me happy," answered Ash.
Ash and Iris went silent once again, but this time, in a good way. They were thinking about what they had just said, and they were also thinking about their feelings for each other.
Then, Iris looked at her last berry. She took a bite out of it, and then, almost without thinking, she offered it to Ash; he was surprised, but he took a bite out of the opposite end. Iris then took a bite out of her end, and then passed it to Ash again. This continued until there was just one small piece of berry; technically, it was Iris' turn, but she knew that there was only enough for one bite, and she didn't want to leave Ash without one last bite. Ash looked at her, and then at the small piece of berry. They then looked at each other and smiled.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Iris?"
"Why don't we find out?"
Iris lifted the small piece of berry to Ash's lips, while at the same time moving closer to his face; their lips met with the small piece of berry in between. Ash and Iris barely even cared about the berry anymore; they now had each other, and nothing could take that moment away from them...
The two Pokémon had just returned from collecting berries, and they were shocked to find their trainers kissing. However, there was little they could really do about it except watch. After a while, Ash and Iris slowly started to move away; they were not quite sure what to say, or even what to think. However, they didn't really need to; in a way, they already did.
As they looked into each other's eves, Ash was the first to speak.
"Well... that was... nice."
"Yeah... it was..." said Iris.
They then realized they were being watched by their Pokémon. Upon seeing their shocked expressions, they laughed, and picked them both up. Then, they put all their berries in their backpacks and started to walk back towards Cilan and their campsite.
Cilan was waiting for them with a couple of pans and a hot fire. He was happy to see that they were back, but quickly noticed that something was up.
"Uh... guys? ...Why are you holding hands?"
Ash and Iris had not really thought much about the fact that they were holding hands, but once Cilan mentioned it, they quickly let go, blushing intensely.
"Uh... here are your berries, Cilan," said Ash as he passed his backpack full of berries to Cilan.
Cilan wasn't sure what to say. He looked at Iris and Ash, who were working hard to not look at each other, and at Pikachu and Axew, who were still freaked out, and then at the berries in Ash's bag. He finally decided he'd rather not know the details and started to work on their lunch. Once he had turned his back, Ash turned towards Iris and gave her a swift kiss on her cheek. She was surprised, but she smiled anyway.
"I guess you're not as much of a kid as I thought," she whispered in his ear.
"You can count on that," Ash whispered back to her.