disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: les. and pork buns.
notes: one of my oldest OTPs. Fight me.

title: caution tape
summary: They're both pretty messed up. Everyone knows it. It's been a decade, but they're just not getting any better. — Misty/Ash.

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"What are you even doing here?" she hisses out of the corner of her mouth.

He stands in the shadow of a column, arms crossed over his chest, grinning like a maniac. It's stupid because Misty knows that grin like the back of her hand except—not. It's been too long, and they've hurt too much.

"Been a while," he says.

That's it.

Misty wants to scream.

But she doesn't—she smiles prettily for the cameras flashing in her face, and though they're kept at bay by red velvet and a vaguely threatening Poliwrath flexing its muscles just to her right, she knows that if they could reach her they would. It sends a shiver down her spine, and she wonders how he deals with it.

The fame, that is.

(She knows what they say about him. She knows that the children pretend they are him. She knows that parents and teachers and everyone revere him, and she can't imagine why. He's not that interesting, really.)

"Are you—stupid, go away! What if someone sees you?!"

He shrugs, still grinning, and Misty thinks about kicking him in an abstract sort of way; maybe all the way to the end of Cerulean Cave, maybe all the way up to the moon. Something. He'd deserve the pain, anyway.

"I'll see you inside, Misty."

And then he's gone.

She still wants to scream.

She is going to stomp on him.

She smiles thinly once more for the cameras, and the sound of her shoe against pavement as she turns her back on them in one slow movement is loud in her ears (but not as loud as the thud of her heart—her heart sounds like fear). The cameras flash again to capture the long pale line of her back, the knobs of her spine.

Misty floats inside, and pays them not an iota more of her attention.

As soon as she's out of the view of the door, his fingers close around her wrist and he drags her into the coat check room. Shoves her against the wall. The breath goes out of her chest, and his lips are already closing on her pulse, teeth digging into her skin and she can feel the bruise forming already.

"Ash, Ash," she whispers in his ear, hot and wet, gasping when his teeth graze across her collarbone. Damn him. "We can't—not here. Someone might—might see."

He hums something low in this throat, so soft as to be unintelligible. Her hair falls from the intricate knot her sisters had woven into her hair into fire-orange waves around her face. Misty's head slams back against the wall when he bites into the soft skin just above her breasts, clacking against unpainted drywall with a painful thud.

"That hurts," she hisses. His only response is to chuckle and bite harder.

Misty thinks that she really might hate him.

"You have a girlfriend," she says, and she wants it to come out scathing and furious but mostly it only sounds tired.

"I know," and he kisses her, and it is soft and sad and sweet. And Misty remembers why everyone loves Ash—because he's pathetic, because he's always there, because he's real.

And it's not fair.

"I hate you," she breathes into his throat. Her fingers curl into his hair, pale thin appendages with blue-polished nails against black, and she wonders if this fight had been fixed from the start.

"I know," he mutters.

And then he kisses her again, and Misty thinks she never had a chance anyway.

fin.