Ash Ketchum swallowed hard. He raised his eyes and met the heated gaze of the man opposite.
"Here we go…"he mumbled under his breath, but simply froze again as the next words simply refused to come out of his mouth.
"Ash!"Brock prompted, tetchily. Ash sighed, and scratched uncertainly at his chin.
"Okay… here we go…"he repeated. "Er, hey… Brock…" he winced slightly at his suddenly shrill voice. "Over the years…" he went straight into his well-rehearsed speech, "I cannot deny that…over the years…I have acc-accumulated feelings of the romantic…persuasion towards, our good friend, Misty."
Brock raised his eyebrow and glanced at the highly amused Misty, leaning on the back of a chair about a meter behind the crimson Ash.
"…Dude!"he hissed at Ash between clenched teeth, "she's right –there!" Ash groaned and banged each side of his head with his knuckles.
"I know she's there!"
"So…"Brock's gaze switched between the two, "she… knows you like her?" Misty had to turn away due to a sudden and suspicious coughing fit, and Ash threw a preoccupied glare in her general direction.
"Brock, listen,"he gestured widely, calmed to some extent by the fact that Brock had taken the first section of the news in a totally un-reactive fashion. "We've been… together… for a year-" He was interrupted by an angry cough from behind him. He winced, and hurriedly tried to count backwards in his head.
"Five, four, three…"Misty began to count down his remaining time to redeem himself.
"Waaaa-waaaaa-wait!"he flustered, waving his arms around as she folded hers and tossed her head indignantly. "Does the thing in the cupboard count?"
"Fifteen months,"she snapped. Ash's shoulders lowered, and he turned back to a traumatised Brock.
"Fifteen months,"he repeated, dutifully.
"Woah,"repeated Brock, slightly awestruck, "that long? But, we were still travelling then – how come I didn't notice? I was with you guys every day!"
"Tracey noticed over one vidphone call…"Ash mumbled.
"Eh, Watchers,"Brock shrugged, reaching forward for his glass. "Well kids, I'm happy for you, slightly creeped out, but good luck and all that stuff," he smiled, before leaning back again, and sipping at his drink.
"There's… a little bit more…"Ash reluctantly continued, as Misty suddenly found the floor most fascinating. Brock looked at him expectantly. There was silence. Realising that Ash had reached his limit, Misty sighed and turned to her profile.
"Do you see?"Ash asked, worriedly, gesturing at her midriff. Brock shrugged his shoulders and took another sip. Misty pulled the fabric of her dress taut against her stomach.
"Do you see… the… bump?"she asked cautiously.
Brock exploded. Ash neatly sidestepped the spray of liquid from his mouth, by stepping on Pikachu and getting a warning bolt by his feet.
"Butbutbutthebutbumpbut-"Brock fell back to the couch weakly. "This has to be some kind of mistake. You're just kids!"
"Hey, we're eighteen, we can do what we want!"Ash frowned, indignantly. "Well, Misty said that we could…" he added, thoughtfully, pointing at her accusingly. She blushed and looked the other way.
"It's not that!"Brock yelled, looking at the two of them in total horror. "It's just… just… arg!"
"You are totally focusing on the wrong part of this,"Ash pointed out, folding his arms. "We thought you'd be mad at us for not telling you about us earlier." Brock stopped hopping and stared.
"Hey, yeah, there is tha-"
"You get to be a godfather!"Misty interjected. Brock stopped, tilted his head and smiled.
"Hey, yeah! Ooh, ooh, can we call him… Brock Junior?"he asked, excitedly. Ash and Misty exchanged
"Okay… but I get to be Best Man as well,"Brock decided, firmly crossing his arms. Ash froze.
"B-b-best Man?"he repeated, twitching slightly. From behind him, Misty made clear cutting motions with her hands, but Brock ignored her.
"Yeah. You two are getting married…right?"
"No!"Ash exclaimed, in a panicky voice. "No! It's not like we have to! It's not like there's a law – there's a law isn't there, is there a law?"
"Aaaand relax,"Misty clapped her hand on Ash's shoulders. "We're… a little young for marriage," she smiled at Brock.
"What's the big deal? If you've been together for fifteen months…"
"We've been 'together' eight years, Brock, that's not the point!"Ash whined. "There is no way I'm marrying her!"
"Hey!"Misty smacked the back of his head so that he ended up banging his forehead on his knees, "do you want me to go raise this baby with Gary Oak, cos I will!"
"No, no, luvoo, luvoo, luvoo!"Ash grabbed hold of her arm and nuzzled his cheek against her shoulder. Misty sighed.
"Why am I making another one of you? There should be a natural antibody in every female to stop that happening."
Brock watched the 'kids' squabble and felt ever so slightly nauseous. Maybe it was because Misty had her hands on her hips, or maybe it was to do with the fact that he was now so terribly aware it was there – but the slight bump on Misty's abdomen became more and more defined every second he stared at it.
He owed Tracey money for this.