She was going to kill him
That was the only logical solution, of course. He had to die, for making her go through this embarrassment. Not for the first time, Iris was struck by just how audacious Ash was, for asking her to, no, making her do this.
The woman behind the counter had a knowing smile on her face, which did absolutely nothing to improve Iris' state of humiliation. Really now, didn't this lady know who she was smiling provocatively at? When the champion of Unova walked into your shop, the last thing you did was grin stupidly at them, like they were some kind of social abomination. Even if said champion wore an overcoat, with a hoodie, and massive sunglasses, so that a single strand of purple hair was all the only discernable feature on their face
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry", Iris pleaded. "I swear, I looked for hours, I just couldn't think of anything"
"That's alright, Iris" He replied, the slightly hurt look on his face giving his feelings away. "I really don't mind. I know you didn't mean to"
He was bound to say that of course. That was typical Ash behavior. He'd do anything to protect her feelings, including lie about his own emotions. Even forgive her for not having gotten him anything for his birthday
"Oh, Ash, this has to be the worst birthday ever. I'm so sorry" She wrapped her arms around his neck, wishing for once that he'd be mad at her, just as she deserved. They'd been dating for a decade, and she still couldn't think of something that he'd have liked. Perhaps it stemmed from the fact that he was so ludicrously selfless, his own desires rarely ever materialized.
"Please, if there's anything you want, you can tell me" Even if she'd lost the chance to surprise him, she refused to skip the opportunity to make things better. In the back of her mind, Iris could imagine him standing outside their door, with his bags all packed, softly telling her that the lack of a birthday gift had opened his eyes to just how much of a selfish bitch she was.
At the same time, Ash was having thoughts along a completely different line, the cogs in his head, rapidly forming a plan
"Anything?" He asked, his voice heavy with a suggestive tone, she'd never seen him use.
In hindsight, that obviously indicative voice should have tipped her off to just what he had in mind. But she'd been too obsessed with correcting her wrong to notice, and here she was paying the price
Before her, the lady on the counter still hasn't dropped that infuriating smile. Finally, the woman placed her forearms on the counter
"So. Your boyfriend discovered a new fetish, hon?"
Despite the blunt way she put it, Iris was amazed at how she'd cut straight to the heart of the matter. Nervously, Iris tightened the hoodie around her head, an action that didn't go entirely unnoticed
"Don't worry, I really don't care what you look like. I probably won't remember. So long as you pay good money, that is. So. What have you got in mind?"
Iris mortification rose to truly spectacular levels, as she gingerly pointed at the shop's display case. The woman's only reply was a shrill whistle, which once again, did not make Iris feel any more at ease.
"You want me to what?" She all but screamed out loud, clutching the magazine in her shaking hand
"You said you'd do anything. But, it's alright if you don't want to. I don't want to force you into anything" He sounded so despondent, that for a moment, Iris was overcome by sympathy.
"Oh my, Ash… It's just…. I didn't know you were into…..This sort of thing", she stuttered over her words. She picked up the magazine once again, and looked again at the awkward, to say the least, French maid costume Ash had pointed at. She scoffed mentally, taking care to not let her contempt show. Despite what she thought of it, she didn't want to hurt Ash's feelings, yet again. The outfit was dreadfully frilly, obviously designed for a stripper of some sort, with a hem line that was far too high to be practical in any way.
She looked up again, and as she looked into Ash's eyes, she knew she'd lost this battle. The look on his face was impossible to say no to.
"Okay" she mumbled weakly, knowing that she'd gravely underestimated what she'd gotten herself into
"Alright, Iris! You're the best" He scooped her up in a hug enthusiastically, and stroked her hair, though for once, the feeling of his arms around her was not enough to snap her out of her thoughts.
After the horrifying experience of being in a cosplay shop, Iris quickly made her purchase, and went home. Truly, she was sure there was nothing scarier than being in that dreadful shop. That was until she decided to put on the newly purchased outfit. It made her feel cheap and more than a little contemptible.
When Ash finally entered through the front door, and found her grumpily lying on the couch, in an outfit he'd only dreamed of seeing her in. He silently walked in and placed her on his lap. Then he did something that utterly surprised her. Instead of making a move to help her out of her clothes, he picked up the remote on the side table, and absently started flicking through channels, eventually settling on a live Pokemon battle.
"But, don't you want to….You know?" She inquired meekly.
For a while, there was confusion abound on Ash's face, as to what exactly she meant. It vanished, and was replaced by a look of even deeper confusion
"But, what's the point of asking you to put that on, if I'd want you to take it off again?"
"But then, why'd you ask me to put it on" Her voice was weighed down with bewilderment
"You look cute"
He spoke as if that was the simplest line of reason in the world, and kissed her on the temple, as if she were a child being explained what gravity was. Soon enough, he went back to his battle, absently running his hands through her hair.
This wasn't the first time he'd surprised her. Rather, he seemed to do that every week. But this was the first time she realized, that she could be rolling around in a dumpster, and he still wouldn't make her feel cheap.