Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon. Sniffle, sob, whaaa. xD

Author's Note: I had a different version of this written out once upon a lovely time, but my computer shut off randomly and I hadn't saved it, so it disappeared. I wasn't very excited to rewrite the same thing, because I absolutely hate doing that, so I changed the whole theme up a little. I still think my first version was better though

Warnings: This gets very non-descriptive, and at one point is almost all dialogue. Also, I recently just read to kill a mockingbird before writing the end of this story, so the style of the book sort of melted in with my writing and I made them use words like 'ought'. Sorry about that! xD Also, this one seems a bit like Dawn/Ash but it's not. It's simply their friendship. Ash loves Misty with all his heart, but that doesn't mean he can't have a close relationship with one of his friends. Besides, I wanted to write a nice one for Dawn, since I always seem to be bashing her, even though I don't hate her at all.

Love Changes Everything

"Ash, I've always had a question for you."

Ash looked up from his seat around the fire to see Dawn staring at him intently, examining how she should ask the figurative question bugging her. Her face was aglow amongst the bright flames, and she picked at her manicured nails as she pondered.

"What is it Dawn?" Ash asked curiously, putting his hands out so his palms could gain warmth from the small fire. The trio had set up for the night, and Brock was making stew, while the Pokémon ate their food.

"Well," Dawn said. "It's kind of private-ish. You might get embarrassed."

Ash laughed, taking a stray stick from the ground and poking it at the fire. "I'm Ash Ketchum," he joked. "I don't ever, ever get embarrassed."

"Oh really?" Dawn challenged. "Well, what if I told you the subject of matter has to do with Misty, huh?"

Even in the dark, the blue-haired girl was certain that he was blushing, especially because he pulled his cap down over his face. Still, he tried not to sound embarrassed. "So, ask," he said, huffing, before looking at the sky. Darkness enveloped the world, and the moon hung buttery and pale in the sky.

"Okay, you see," Dawn sat upright on the log, the fire reflecting her face and making her look like an ominous goddess. Her hair billowed and flared from the wind, and her peachy skin looked like vivid white ashes. "I know you have a crush on Misty."

Ash stuck out his lower lip in an almost pout, wishing he hadn't told Dawn a few days ago about his liking towards his best friend. She had been bothering him nonstop about it, giggling, winking, making sly comments. "Of course you know," he cleared his throat. "I'm the one who told you."

"Yeah, but whatcha don't know is that I've figured something out!" Dawn said. "I've came to a grand conclusion."

You'd think she'd discovered the cure to cancer… Ash thought bitterly, knowing whatever conclusion Dawn had come to wasn't going to be a pretty one. Not only that, but the raven-haired boy was starting to dread the question she was going to ask. Anything about his crush on Misty made him shy beyond belief, because he'd never really dealt with such a situation.

"What's the conclusion?" he said, albeit wearily.

"So, okay, I was just thinking: you like Misty, and I bet she likes you back," Dawn said matter-of-factly.

Ash shrunk himself. "She doesn't like me back, okay? We haven't seen each other in forever."

"Don't be so negative," Dawn reprimanded gently. "That's not the point, anyway."

"So what is?" Ash said, staring into the fire. Grass tickled his bare feet and smoke from the fire made his vision a teensy bit hazy. "I mean, don't keep dwelling on the small details."

Dawn paused. "Wow, dwelling. Big word for you."

Ash groaned, before smiling a bit. "That was such a Misty thing to say."

"Misty seems cool then," Dawn grinned into the night. "Anyway, so, I was thinking…if you like her so much, why don't you just tell her!"

Ash opened his mouth to answer. "It's 'cause-"

"It was a rhetorical question." Dawn said quickly, not wanting him to start jabbering on and on. He tended to ramble when the concept of Misty was brought up. "Then, I thought, maybe he's afraid of her rejecting him. But then I decided, 'no! You're impulsive. You would have told her by now because you probably couldn't keep it in…so then, I came to the dramatic conclusion that you're afraid to love."

The simple statement sent Ash is a fit. "I'm not afraid."

"Then why won't you tell her!"

"I'm not afraid."

"Yes you are. I mean, you're a sixteen year old boy and you've never even asked a girl out on a date. Now, you really like this girl and you won't even, I dunno, try to tell her or even hint. That goddamn says you're afraid Ash."

"Shut up! It's none of your business. I'm not afraid of love, so just quit bothering me."

Dawn watched him turn around and cross his arms, his back reflecting off of the fire. She sighed; she had tried her best to get him to listen and understand, and somehow provoke him to calling or confessing to Misty, but it obviously hadn't worked. He was just so darn stubborn, and he refused to admit he was scared.

It wasn't like it was anything to be ashamed of, she thought to herself. Love was pretty much scary for everyone.

"It's just 'cause…" Ash said, breaking Dawn from her grudging train of thought. She perked her ears immediately, bending forward slightly. "It's 'cause what?"

He shifted in silence, before speaking. "Love changes everything."

It took a moment for Dawn to take in what he said. "Love changes everything?" she said softly. "Is that what you're worried about?" she refrained from using the word 'afraid' because she didn't want to set him off again – not when she was finally getting somewhere.

"Yes," Ash's voice got slightly high-pitched. "You wouldn't even understand, anyway."

"And why wouldn't I?" Dawn said.

"Because you're a girl."

"How does that have to do with anything?"

"You don't understand that…that if I tell Misty I love her…everything changes for me." He said. "I won't have the freedom to do so much stuff, and if I even so much as look at another girl, I'll probably be cooked and murdered by her!"

"Aw, I'm sure Misty's not like that,"

"You don't know her Dawn. I remember, although I was too young to notice it then, that she always got jealous whenever another girl got all close with me. If we were to start dating, I'd probably be confined in her home in a jail cell."

"Okay, now you're totally over exaggerating. Misty's a lot older now, and I bet she's matured just like you have. I bet she'll be real confident in the relationship now."

"No. No, she won't. Or maybe she will. I don't care. Love would change everything, and I'm not taking those chances."

"Ash, don't be stupid."

"Brocko said that once ya get a girlfriend you've got to listen to what they say and always apologize. Imagine, me not being able to argue with Misty! How'd you think I'll survive?"

"Well, arguing with your girlfriend is never nice, I'll admit," Dawn said, stretching. "But you ought to stop torturing yourself. I've seen you rolling around in your bed, thinking about her."

Ash was silent. Then, he spoke: "It's scary, though. Just a few words and my whole relationship with her could change."

"It won't change that much. Remember, you can still bicker – all freaking couples do – but treat her nicely. Like a good gentleman."

"I'm not a gentleman though. We fought over who got to have the thickest sweater when it was cold," Ash said in a panicked voice. "I can't just be all nice to her all of a sudden!"

"You don't have to be nice to her all the time," Dawn said. "Just do some romantic stuff once in a while. Everything won't change that much."

"I can't be romantic." Ash nearly shouted. Brock glanced up from where he was, further down, and shook his head. Ash lowered his voice. "I can't be romantic."

"Yes you can," Dawn pressed. "I promise, I'll even help you. I just know you'll be really happy if you and Misty get together, and if ya like her so much, you shouldn't so afraid about things changing."

"You…you don't…why do you care?"

"I care about you," Dawn said, genuinely surprised. She pushed her short skirt slightly down her thighs, smiling. "We're friends, aren't we? And I think it's really cute that you like Misty, so I thought I ought to help you out."

Ash crossed his arms, seemingly deep in thought. The words were quite nice from Dawn, who he never thought to be a very deep person – she was all fun in games, usually. Then again, people never considered him a deep person either, and he was, when the times were right. Softly, he let his eyes trail back to Dawn's younger face. "You promise you'll help me be romantic?"

"Promise." Dawn said firmly.

"You'll help me be all gentleman-y?"


"You'll help me if she locks me in a jail cell in her house?"

Dawn laughed. "Promise."

Ash sighed, shaking his head brusquely, before smiling. "I guess I'll go call Misty tomorrow then."

"And I guess I'll start preparing your first date,"

Ash smirked as he watched her flounce away excitedly, before hugging his knees and giving the stars another look.

"Misty," he said to no one in particular. "I'll call ya. I promise I'll call ya."

Then, he exhaled loudly, following Dawn for dinner.

Meadow Wood