A/N: This is my first Pokémon fanfic, and it's likely to be my only one. But I've been reading a ton of AAML lately, and I can't help but think that there's a certain dynamic missing to most love confessions. Perhaps this is because I only watched the show as a child, and didn't stick with the series past the second season, but I can't help but wonder how Ash would have reacted if Misty's feelings had come out while they were still traveling together, way back at the start of it all, when he was only just about 12 and she was just about 13. So that's what this is; a "what if" fic, asking, "what if Ash found out Misty liked him when he wasn't ready to handle it?" Don't worry though, I promise it has a happy ending.


Magic in the Meltdown

Ash hadn't meant to eaves drop, not at first, not really. He had only been coming back from collecting that night's firewood when he overheard Brock mentioning him to Misty. Still standing in the shadows of the towering oak trees at the edge of the clearing the trio had found for the night, Ash couldn't help but pause to listen to his companions. After all, it was a universal fact that if you overheard someone talking about you, you had a right to stop what you were doing and listen in on their conversation, right? Well, that was how Ash would justify his actions anyway.

"I really don't think you have a reason to be this upset with Ash, Misty," Brock had said.

It was true, Ash thought. Misty had been snippy and irritable with him all day, ever since they left the pokémon center that morning. And yes, he agreed with Brock, her behavior was unreasonable. He had done absolutely nothing to provoke this treatment. And while there were plenty of days where Misty was simply in a bad mood, her anger had been solely focused on him all day long. What had he done to deserve this?

"Yeah, well…" Misty grumbled in response.

"Can you pass me that potato?" interjected Brock, pointing with the long spoon he had been using to stir the soup he was making. Misty did so wordlessly, and Brock continued on with his pointed conjecture. "Now, if you liked Ash, I can see why you would be bothered. After all, that Evee trainer was being awfully friendly with him, and he did leave you to struggle with packing all our belongings while the two of them laughed and made jokes, and played with their pokémon…"

Even from a distance and with his vision obscured by the brush he was hiding behind, Ash could see the vein on Misty's forehead that always bulged when she was angry begin to throb. Was that what had been bothering her? She could have just asked him to stop playing and help; he would have. Ash may have loved goofing off, but he knew how to be responsible too. And it wasn't like he had known that she was packing. The group wasn't in a rush or anything, he had figured he'd pack after letting Jolteon and Pikachu run around for a bit. It wasn't his fault that Misty had insisted on leaving the pokémon center as quickly as possible.

"You know how I feel Brock, will you just let it drop? I don't know why you keep pushing this."

'What?'Ash thought. Where had that come from? How Misty felt? What was she talking about? Brock had only been teasing; she didn't need to take his words literally. Right?

Maybe she meant she felt angry. That was reasonable. Misty was always angry.

Despite these reassurances to himself, Ash found that his mouth was suddenly very dry and his hands were starting to sweat. He could feel his heart begin pounding faster than normal as the tingle of adrenaline spread its way through his skin. Why was he on edge? Was he afraid? He wasn't battling so this couldn't be a rush of excitement, the boy reasoned. Yes, he was afraid. But why? What was there to be afraid of?

Perhaps this conversation was getting too personal. Maybe he should stop listening in. But even as these thoughts passed through his brain Ash's legs would not and could not move. His mouth no longer seemed capable of speech.

"I just want to hear you say it," Brock teased, "just once."

"Why?" Misty retorted in a snarky manner. She stood up and walked towards her backpack, preparing to unzip it and dig through it in search of something or another. "Do you have a bet going with Team Rocket?"

"No," Brock replied seriously, "I'd just like to know that one of you is mature enough to admit what's going on between the two of you."

'Nothing,'the word instantaneously zipped through Ash's head. Because absolutely nothing was going on between him and Misty. His heart started beating faster. Why were people always saying the two of them were a couple? It was ridiculous. They were just friends. Just really, really good friends. Best friends, maybe.

But Brock, Ash, and Misty all knew that nothing appealed to Misty more than the notion of her maturity, and that any affront to such alleged maturity was sure to get her riled up. It was one of several loose threads in Misty's exterior that Ash knew about (even if only on a subconscious level) that could be pulled to completely unravel her defenses. At the very least it usually got her frazzled. Brock's current manipulation was no exception to the rule.

Misty frowned as she shifted aside loose objects in her backpack. Ash offhandedly wondered what she was searching for, but the current conversation had most of his attention directed elsewhere.

"I know alright?" The young girl sighed at last, "You really want to hear me say it?"

Brock nodded.

"Fine, I have a crush on Ash? Now can we please drop it?"

Something did drop, but not the topic. The respectable sized pile of sticks and broken branches that Ash had been holding tumbled from his grip and clattered to the ground. The illusion of privacy that had sheltered Brock and Misty's conversation was shattered. Almost instantly, Misty looked up from what she was doing and locked eyes with Ash.

"Ash?" asked Brock, playing the moderator like always, even though his stomach had just dropped out the bottom of his torso, "How long have you been there?"

But Ash couldn't answer. Truth be known, he hadn't even heard Brock speak. The poor boy's heart was pounding so fast that his breathing had become heavy, and for a brief moment the blood rushing away from his brain made his vision go black. Misty likedhim?

Misty was never the sort of girl to wait for a response. As soon as she saw the look on Ash's face she whipped her head to face Brock. The breeder could see unshed tears welling up in her eyes.

"You!" she screamed at him, "This is all your fault! I hate you Brock! I hate you!"

Unable to hold her tears in any longer, Misty raised her left arm to shield her eyes and ran into the woods, heading in the opposite direction from which Ash had come. Brock sat and Ash stood in silence until the sound of Misty crying had faded into the distance. Then, with a hefty sigh Brock turned off the small gas burner on which he had been heating the soup, uncrossed his legs, stood up, walked over to Ash, and placed a hand on his shoulder. The boy's eyes seemed focused on some unseen distance, and Brock could feel a small tremor causing the twelve year old to shake.

"Ash?" The older boy asked tentatively.

And just like that, the dam broke.

"She likes me?" he exclaimed, "Misty likes me? Did you hear her Brock? She has a crush on me? That's not right! That can't be right! I mean, she's Misty, she's not supposed to like boys! She practically is a boy. And I'm just me! Why would Misty like me of all people? Misty practically hates me! She's just my friend! We're just friends, right? Friends! The whole dating thing is a joke! It's a stupid joke that everyone makes because I'm a boy and she's a girl and—"

"ASH!" Brock interrupted, worried for the rambler, "Slow down. You need to breath."

"Right," Ash nodded as he took slow, deep breaths – just like his mother had taught him to. "Breath," he agreed.

"Now," Brock gently coaxed, "Start from the beginning. Are you okay?"

The pokémon trainer nodded again. "I- I think so." Finally ceasing to stare into space, Ash turned his head so he could look up at Brock. Ash's eyes were desperate, confused, and most of all they were pleading for answers. "What do I do Brock?" He begged. "Misty said she has a crush on me. I can't… she's Misty." As though that would explain it all.

"What's wrong with Misty being Misty?" Brock prodded.

"Well, nothing really... it's just… I mean, isn't she a little young for this kind of thing? Aren't wea little young for this?"

Brock brought his hand to his chin and looked upwards, pondering a moment. "I don't think so," he concluded. "Lots of people have crushes at your age."

"But she's Misty!" Ash exclaimed. In his mind it was a valid counter argument.

"She's always talking about how romantic things are," Brock struck back, but Ash wasn't really listening. He getting worked up once again, and he steam rolled right over Brock's rebuttal with his own.

"She's always been my friend!"

Brock sighed and folded his arms across his chest. "Ash, what do you think of Misty?"

Ash blinked. "Think of her?"

Brock nodded.

"Um… she's a good friend, I guess." When Ash fell silent, Brock leaned forward and gestured for him to continue.

"Go on."

"Uh… well… she's really smart!" He smiled. "She can be pretty mean about it though, sometimes. But I think she's just trying to help me become a better trainer, so I don't mind it that much." He was ready to stop there, but Brock once again gestured for him to go on, so Ash continued. "We have a lot of fun together when we're not fighting. Even when we fight, sometimes we're having fun. She has a good sense of humor – I know she thinks I'm funny, 'cause she laughs at my jokes a lot," Ash smiled proudly as he said this, not really realizing what he was doing, "and… that's really it Brock. I don't know what else you want me to say."

Brock nodded. He thought for a moment, and then asked "What does she look like Ash?"

"Uh…" Ash thought his friend was crazy. "She's a red-head?"

Brock shook his head. "No," he asserted, "That's not what I mean. What I meant was, do you think she's pretty?"

"Oh." Ash thought for a moment, calling up the image of Misty in his head. "Well… yeah, I guess," he finally relented. "I mean, she doesn't dress like a girl most of the time, but she has a really nice smile, it's really… what's that word people use? When one person smiled and it makes everyone else smile too?"

"Infectious?" Brock supplied.

"Yeah, that!" Ash excitedly agreed, "Infectious. And I think her hair is really cool. Have you ever seen her take her it down? I saw her do it this one time at sunset, and the way the light hit her hair while it was falling out of its pony tail, for a second it was like her whole head was on fire! It was like it was a part of the sky! It looked really cool Brock, it was…" And then Ash trailed off, suddenly realizing exactly where his thoughts were going. Ash swallowed, and he swallowed hard. "It was beautiful."

A cunning grin spread across Brock's face. "So if you like who she is," he asked, "and you think she's pretty, then why don't you give her a chance?"

Ash's face immediately turned a bright scarlet hue. "WHAT?" He exclaimed, "No way! I can't date Misty! I'm not even a pokémonmaster yet!"

The older of the two raised an eyebrow. "What does that have to do with anything?"

Ash balked, gaping at his friend as though he had just asked the most absurd question on the planet. When asked on a later date to describe the look on Ash's face, Brock would claim that the boy had resembled a magikarp.

"What?" he echoed, "I haven't even finished all the important things I have to do as a kid yet Brock! I can't do grown up things like hold hands and" he made a show of shuddering at the thought "kissing! I'm not done being a kid yet!"

Then for a brief moment both of the boys were silent. Slowly, a grin crept its way onto Brock's face. When he could not contain it any more, he burst out laughing.

"Hey, it's not funny!" Ash exclaimed.

"Sorry!" Brock wheezed, doubled over as he was, "I didn't mean…" he took a deep breath. "Whew, sorry Ash. I didn't mean to imply that what you were saying wasn't important – it's just that life doesn't work quite like that."

It was moments like these that made Brock remember just how naïve and innocent Ash was; the way the kid's eyes looked up at him in earnest, clear and sincere. "What do you mean?"

Brock sighed. "There isn't really a clear line between being a child and an adult like you're describing, Ash. It's sort of a slow transition. You can take part in some adult things and still be a kid."

"Really?"

"Sure! I took care of my brothers and sisters for years, doing all the things that parents are supposed to do. But look at me right now. I'm still doing kid things too, like traveling around the world with you and Misty, and catching new and exciting pokemon."

"Huh," Ash replied, "I never really thought of it like that."

Brock moved to sit on a nearby boulder, and Ash followed. "Can I be honest with you Ash?"

Ash nodded.

"You may think you're a bit young for what's happening to you now, but love doesn't really have an age limit. Love is blind to all sorts of things. And I know you and Misty see me chasing after girls, and you think I'm crazy; but I would give anything to have the sort of relationship with someone that you have with Misty. I look at the two of you, and I get jealous! I think, 'that's what love is supposed to be'. You laugh with each other, you fight with each other. When one of you is down the other always knows just what to say to get the hurting one out of his funk, and I have never in my life seen two people who aren't family that care and worry about each other the way the two of you do. When the three of us get hurt doing something dangerous, you two always check in with each other first."

Ash was about to interject and apologize, but Brock waved him off.

"I don't really mind. I know why you do it. But I don't think you can deny it, Ash. You and Misty have a really special connection. Even though you're young, I don't think the heart really needs to mature in quite the same way as the head does in order to grow up. When you really, truly love someone it just happens. You just do."

Ash remained quiet for a few minutes, absorbing all that Brock had had to say. At last he tentatively looked up at his friend and asked so quietly it was nearly a whisper, "Brock?"

"Um… When I'm with Misty, sometimes… I sometimes get this feeling. I don't get it with anyone else. It's like… it's like sometimes I'm happy, really happy. And excited, it's like I get a rush just from talking to her or yelling at her. And sometimes, it's kind of feels like… I'm home. It feels like I'm right back home, safe and sound… where I belong. Not that I don't feel safe with you too," he noted, "it's just that I feel it… more when I'm with Misty, you know? Does that… does that make sense to you?"

"It does," Brock said.

"Brock… that feeling… is that…" he took a deep breath, body shaking from feelings he couldn't explain at the knowledge of the word he was about to utter. "Is that… love?"

Brock smiled and in satisfaction and nodded. "I think so, Ash."

Ash took a deep breath. He stared at his hands.

"Ok then," he stated, "I'm in love. With Misty. I'm in love with Misty."

As quickly as the realization hit him, Ash's heart beat went into overdrive again.

"Holy Ho-oh! I'm in love with Misty!"

"I heard you the first time Ash," Brock laughed.

"Brock! What I do?"

"Do?"

"Yeah! What am I supposed to do now? This is so crazy! I don't know what to do!"

"Well go after her!"

"Huh?"

"Go after her! She ran off Ash. You'd better go find her and set things straight before she starts to think that you hate her and never want to speak to her again!"

"WHAT?"

"GO!"

" –HUH? –AH? –WAH! …Yeah! RIGHT!" He exclaimed. Then he turned on his heel and dashed off into the woods, heading in the direction that Misty had left in.

Brock smiled as he watched Ash's back retreat into the forest. "Well, at least they're going to do something about how they feel," he thought aloud. "I just hope Ash knows what he's in for."

And with that, Brock returned to preparing the soup.


The End!

Well, maybe. If people want me to, I'll probably write up what happens when Ash goes to find Misty. I would have written it today, but I spent all morning on this and my family is annoyed at me for doing nothing but use the computer all day. Anyways, this isn't my best writing and it feels a little rushed to me, but I definitely had fun with it. I'd love to hear what you all think of my interpretation of these characters, particularly Ash. I always figured that if he found out that Misty liked him before he really understood what his feelings were, he'd have a bit of a panic attack before he figured things out.

PLEASE REVIEW! Feedback always means a lot. :-)

-YuniX-2