Title: Indigo All Over Again
Posted: 05/31/13
Rating: K+

Main Characters: Ash Ketchum, Misty Waterflower
Shippings: Ash & Misty (PokeShipping)
Chapter Guest Stars: Gary Oak, Leaf Greene, Tracey Sketchit, May Maple

Summary: Ash Ketchum has journeyed for many years. Through the regions of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and Unova, he has learned many things. Now, being both a better trainer and a more mature teenager, he decides to return to his very own home region and compete once again to win the Indigo League. What surprises await him as he does so?

Disclaimer: I own what I own, nothing more, nothing less.

© 2013, Reignstein, The plot of this story and any original characters belong to me. Any similarities that might occur are purely coincidental and I apologize in advance if such an occurrence ever does happen.

"Dilly-Dally, Shilly-Shally"

"So, Leaf, what happened yesterday?" Came a curious question from Tracey, causing the brunette to jump and accidentally drop the bowl in her hands. When had Tracey gotten back from Cerulean City? "Professor Oak said that Gary's out and Mrs. Ketchum just told me that Misty and Ash aren't talking to each other. Any idea why that is?" Picking up the green bowl—belonging to Leafeon—Leaf turned to Tracey with a shrug.

"I don't really know everything," She began, walking towards the Leaf Room and inserting the bowl through the small door. It was nearing lunch time, and she needed to prepare. "But when Misty and I got back to Gary's office, Ash had just punched him out." Had Leaf turned her attention to Tracey, rather than placing a yellow bowl in Jolteon's Lightning Room, she would have seen the comical way that the green haired man's eyes widened. Lead would have probably also seen the shake of the head that came after, and the confusion that etched itself into Tracey's features.

Punching Gary? That's very un-Ash like. Tracey thought.

"Do you know why?" Leaf froze, and Tracey spotted it. She was just about to place the aqua colored bowl in Glaceon's Ice Room, but her hand was now stiff, and Tracey was sure that it wasn't because of the cold. Leaf's also began to chew on her lower lip, something she only did when she contemplated a particular problem or matter. It was obvious, that though she might not know everything, she knew something about the reason for Ash's sudden violent behavior.

"I don't think it's my place to say." She decided to answer. "I mean, I don't really think that we should get involved. I mean, I don't agree with what Gary did altogether." Taking into consideration Misty's words from the other day, Leaf nodded. Gary, indeed, was in the wrong. The young researcher did have a point though, when he said that someone needed to knock some sense into the boy. Lead released a sigh, this was a difficult situation.

"What did Gary do?" Tracey pushed.

"Why are you so curious, Tracey?" Leaf was avoiding the question. "I mean, does it really matter? Misty and Ash fight all the time right? They'll be back to flirting with each other by tomorrow, I'm sure." Tracey shook his head and sighed. Did Leaf really believe that? Misty and Ash bantered and teased each other often, fighting to the extent of not talking was something that they never did often. In fact, that was the signal that that he and Brock had learned that meant they were really in an actual fight.

"Leaf, they're my friends and I'm worried." The Sketchit decided to try. "Just tell me."

The brunette took the jar of PokeFood from her Habitat Room Desk, chewing on her lip once again. She contemplated what she was going to say. Telling Tracey what she knew would be of no point, seeing as she didn't know the entire story, but she also knew enough details—that she had learned from Gary—to at least know why Ash had resulted to punching out his old rival. Was it even her business, what Ash and Misty fought about? Ash was a childhood acquaintance, Misty was her friend, that didn't give her any right to tell Tracey anything, right?

"If you tell me, I'll give you a sketch of each of your Eon-Pokemon." Tracey suddenly uttered.

"Gary told Ash that he was in love with Misty," Leaf answered, almost immediately, apologizing to Misty in her head. A Tracery Sketchit drawing of all her Pokemon? That was just something she could not pass up. "Ash punched him when Gary told him to act on his feelings, and if he wasn't going to, then to at least tell Misty that and stop leading her on." She felt like such a horrible person, being bribed for information. She apologized to the redhead in her mind once again.

Tracey sighed. "That wasn't a smart idea." He began. "No wonder Ash and Misty are fighting. He probably took out all of his confusion on her." Leaf agreed, stating that it was the same thing she had told her 'boss'. The brunette added, though, what Gary had explained. Knocking some sense into Ash by giving him the brutal truth sounded like a good idea, but Tracey shook his head and sighed again. He seemed to disagree.

In his mind, Tracey could practically imagine the fight that had occurred. Ash's feelings of confusion—and he guessed jealousy as well, seeing how close Gary and Misty were—would get the better of him, causing him to say hurtful words, and Misty would retaliate due to hurt and betrayal. Even Pikachu's thunderbolt wouldn't do anything to calm that storm.

"Gary cares for Misty like a brother—"

"Probably more than that from what he told me." Leaf muttered, shocking herself in turn. She was ecstatic that Tracey had not heard her, and only continued on with his musings and explanation. She wondered, lightly, why she had said that little bit of information. She also wondered why that sudden annoyance for one of her friends returned, much like it did the previous day. What was bringing it on? Was she sick? She wasn't jealous or anything, right?

"—and like all of us, he's worried that she's just going to end up heartbroken. Ash isn't the sharpest pencil in the case, and maybe he just wanted to make sure that Misty doesn't go through that suffering. I don't know why he took that approach—cause all of us decided to just drop subtle hints—but though it may have been in Misty's best interest, it wasn't the best idea he could have come up with. Ash isn't good with stuff just jumping him."

"Or maybe Gary knows what it feels like to not get his feelings returned," Tracey jumped at the sudden harsh tone that Leaf's voice had taken. The girl was usually sweet and kind and humble, not this. "And he doesn't want Misty, a precious person or sister as you say, to feel that way." There was a bite and fierceness in the way Leaf said the word 'sister' and he had no idea why. Was he just hearing things? A figment of his imagination, perhaps?

"Maybe…" The Sketchit cautiously said.

"Of course, he probably decided that being a self-sacrificial idiot would also get him brownie points, but that was only secondary to Misty's happiness right?" Espeon bounded our of the Light Room, hearing the ruckus that her trainer was creating. "I mean, he's a selfish person who doesn't praise my work, he thinks everything I do is secondary to his, but of course Misty is always placed ahead of his own needs. She's important, she's his sister."



"I mean, he doesn't spare any of his cheerleaders from before a second glance, he doesn't spare me a second glance, but Misty is picked up in hugs, spun around, and treated like the pretty, pretty princess of his world." She continued, with Tracey slowly backing away to the door. He didn't really mean to offend her, but it seemed he hadn't quite read the situation quite well.


"It's always Misty-this, and Misty-that! It's never 'Leaf, great work!' or 'Leaf, you're amazing!'. Misty is the only one—"

"ESPEON!" The pink, cat-like, Pokemon jumped her trainer and caused the brunette to stop her ranting to pick up her precious friend. She gasped slightly at the sudden weight, but at least she calmed down, allowing Tracey to released a breath of his own. He thought that she was going to destroy the jar in her hands before, but thankfully she had placed it back on the table she had taken it from by the time she began ranting. "Espeon, Es Espeon!"

"I am not jealous, I'm just saying—"

"Leaf, does Gary know about your feelings?" She jumped once again. Had Tracey been standing there the whole time? She seemed to have forgotten his presence. She did; however, blush as she realized that she had been caught ranting about her boss in a way that was past friendly. What had gotten into her? Why was her heart beating so fast? Why did Gary's words from yesterday affect her so much anyway? She should be happy right? The guy she considered her best friend actually thought of others and not just himself! He was human, she should be jumping for joy!

"Wha—what…feelings?" Leaf asked, ignoring Espeon's knowing looks and Tracey's hidden smirk. As far as she was concerned, she had been possessed and had not said a single thing. The lab was old anyway, for all she knew, it could be riddled with angry spirits or pranking Haunters at least. "I—I don't feel anything for Gary." She was rather proud that she had steadied her voice once again. It made her sound, at least, more confident in her words, if not believable.

"Could've fooled me." Tracey answered, smirk now showing freely. "Maybe you and Ash should start a Dense People Club."

"I am not Dense!" Came the brunette's reply, Espeon jumping out of her hold and returning to her room. It seemed the way the Pokemon walked sent the message that 'Yes, you are, and I'm leaving before you ask for back-up'. Leaf was rather annoyed, she was not jealous! She had been possessed!

"When did this conversation become about me anyway?!" The girl loudly shouted. "We were talking Ash and Gary…or was it Ash and Misty? Misty and Gary? I don't know, but I wasn't the topic here!" Tracey released his smirk and decided to chuckle instead, raising his arms in defense and innocence. Leaf crossed her arms in front of her chest, obviously not believing in the sign of peace that the older man had presented her.

"Apologies, Miss Defensive." Tracey let out. "Don't need to worry, I won't tell him."

"There's nothing to tell!" Leaf retorted, and Tracey only laughed more.

"Yep, definitely a Dense People Club." The Sketchit nodded with his words. "The President could be Ash Ketchum, and you would be his second-in-command! Who else can join? Maybe May and Drew or Dawn! I should contact them. When are you going to have your first meet—" The green haired man ducked to avoid the red bowl—reserved for the Flareon she was yet to have—that was thrown at him. "Missed me!" He teased, ducking, once again, to avoid the ballpoint pen that was now tossed in his direction.

"You should really practice, Leaf." Tracey stated. "Hitting a moving target isn't as easy as frozen target, I have reflexes."

"I liked you better before you had a girlfriend!" Leaf pouted. "You were nicer and weren't as confident in yourself! I miss that Tracey, the one who just avoided teasing and conflicts!"

Tracey shook his head. He rather liked his gain in personality after dating Daisy. He was still his calm and kind self, but now, he didn't really worry about offending people with his jokes and teasing. Daisy did it all the time, and she told him that sometimes it even helped the other party admit juicy secrets. It had worked with Misty, was her justification. Tracey didn't really need any more convincing after that.

"Sorry, Leaf." Tracey answered, hiding his smile in his apologetic tone. "If it makes you feel better, I'd be willing to call you Mrs. Oak when Gary or Professor Oak aren't around." He ducked to avoid the clipboard, and ran out the room with an annoyed Leaf chasing after him. Leaf would never admit that hearing the term 'Mrs. Oak' escape Tracey's mouth, caused Butterfree to invade her stomach and the blood to rush to her cheeks.

Maybe he was on to something about that Dense People Club.

"Tracey!" She shouted. "Get back here!"


The rock had skipped three times before sinking into the water. Ash sighed, realizing that he must have been really distracted. Whenever he focused, the rock sunk the moment it made contact with the liquid. The fact that it skipped, obviously meant that Ash was in a state where he wasn't even thinking and just doing. It was like a reflex game to him, a game that if showed he was winning, it meant he lost, and if he appeared to be losing, then it meant he had won. Perplexity wasn't always a good thing, but for this moment, it worked out for the black haired teen.

Black circles appeared under his eyes, his hair was a mess (or messier than normal), and his eyes showed this defeat that never appeared in the youth's eyes before.

Ash always had the confidence to never give up, he had proved that many times after all the Conferences he had lost, but this time, the confidence seemed to have went away, like a light bulb that was just turned off or a fire that had lost its flame. When he saw the tears escape Misty's eyes the previous night, his confidence had gone with them, leaving behind a hollow shell of a young, dense, defenseless boy.


He lost again. Losing to his own game, nothing compared to it. Losing to his own game meant losing to himself, and if he couldn't even take control of that, what about all the other Pokemon that trusted him to take care of them? The way his hand flicked the rocks, the way his trailed after it, the way his mind ran a mile a minute, making each skip feel like an hour interval in between, nothing was in his control anymore. Even his dreams were no longer something he understood.

Normally, he would dream of things that would make sense to him. Holding a trophy that proved he was the best Pokemon Trainer in the world, catching one of each Pokemon from all the regions and taking care of them like his own off spring, even the odd ones where he carried a little girl with black hair in green eyes was understandable. He had always been the type to have a family, and he had always wanted to be what his father wasn't: present. Dreams to him were never nightmares, and nightmares to him were never anything real, always something to be ignored.

It wasn't like that though, the scene that had played out in his mind the night before. He couldn't ignore it, he couldn't pretend that everything was okay, but nothing compared to the feeling being unable to wake up and allow it to end that way. Death would probably have been easier than witnessing her disappear.

It was terrifying, to watch her walk away, her fire-y locks swaying behind her as left his life. It was mind boggling, the way he had chased after her, reaching out with his hands in hopes of catching her. It was torturous, the pain and heaviness of his heart, the one thing that would not lose hope that she would reach back out like she always did. It was deadly, the feeling of realization when he found out that he was not getting any nearer and she just kept going farther and farther. Away from his life, away from him.


"Sulking again, Ashy-boy?" The familiar voice echoed, footsteps getting louder as his approach got nearer. "Still haven't grown up much, have you?" Yesterday, the sound of that voice made him mad. The sight of his smirk made him grown. Today, he felt nothing. Numbness was not a feeling, as far as he was concerned. He hadn't even moved an inch when his old rival decided to take the vacant seat on the grass beside him. Though it was concerning, the young Oak said nothing about it.

"Where's Red?" He tried, not seeming to get a rouse out of Ash. "Haven't seen her today yet. She finally decide to give up on you?" A rock, three skips, a splash, and then a flinch. It seemed that the Ash was listening after all, the researcher observed. "It would be smart on her part, she wouldn't have to stress over you anymore!" He laughed dryly, Ash flinched again, throwing yet another rock and continuing to say nothing. Gary did not approve.

Ash was hot headed and fast acting, always ready for a challenge that seemingly presented itself to him. He was the type to think later and do now, damn the consequences and the repercussions that would arise. He wasn't one to brood in silence and give up in a snap of a finger. If Gary had the talent to do things on his first try easily, then Ash had the ability to succeed in everything with hard work. It had always been like that, ever since they were kids.

Gary would never admit that though, not in a million years.

"Okay, if you're not going to talk to me, fine, but I think Misty deserves an apology of some sort." Ash turned his attention away from the water, brown eyes locking on Gary's face. "You don't hate her, everyone knows that. All you have to do is apologize and she'll forgive you without much hassle." Gary watched Ash drop the stone he was holding, watching him, analyzing him, thinking of the proper words to say that would either make him go away or justify his actions.

"She will…" He hesitated, Gary nodding at the hidden meaning in his words. She will, Ash knew. He was confident that she would forgive him, given the proper explanation. He wouldn't forgive himself though, and that was the problem. She would treat him like the Ash she loved, the Ash she knew, and the guilt would overwhelm him because deep down he knew he didn't deserve her forgiveness, didn't deserve her at all. Gary understood all that.

"What are you planning to do?" Came the dreaded question.

"Don't have a clue." Came the expected answer. "Releasing her Gyarados and have it eat me came to mind."

"She'd be lonely." The reply was quick.

"I know" The words sounded sincere.

"So, what now?"

If only Ash knew. Everyone had said he needed to think up something on his own, and they probably thought it would be easy, seeing as he knew Misty best. How wrong they were, and Ash was too. Thinking now, the teen was more depressed about how little he knew about his best friend. Five years ago, he would have known what each twitch of the nose meant, each breath, each tear, each blink, now he didn't even know what she meant with her words. It hit him hard, realizing that the Misty now was a mystery to him.

Was her favourite color still blue? Was her favourite Pokemon still a Tentacruel? Did she still miss Togetic? Does she still hate fashion shows? Everything about Misty could have changed or could have been the same, and Ash wouldn't have had a clue. Much like how she had hit him with her mallet, he thought that everything would just fall back into their familiar pattern. They would fight, they would apologize, they would move on. It didn't seem to be as easy as that anymore.

"What do you think I should do?" The question made Gary jump. "You know her better, you've seen her more, I bet you're a better best friend than I am. How do I apologize to her?" He sounded so sad, so defeated, and Gary shook his head. Dense as the boy was, he seemed to have realized how serious the situation was.

"I don't know." Was Gary's answer.

"Don't you?" Was Ash's response.

"The way she looks at you, she used to look at me that way. She trusted me the most, and she hated you for undermining me. Now, that's all reversed. I think that you would know the right thing to do, cause I probably would have when we were twelve." Maturity? No. Denial? No. Gary was trying to find out what this was, and the only thing that he could think of was self-pity, self-destruction, masochism. Ash was punishing himself, it seemed.

"You're delusional." Gary replied. "Misty still trusts you the most, you're one of the most precious people in her life. Best friend is not a title to be taken lightly." Ash shrugged, and it pissed Gary off a bit. "She and I are friends, but you're more than that. You and her have been through life or death situations and have known each other for the longest of times. You expect me to know her better?" Ash shrugged once again, pissing Gary off once again.

"The her now, yeah."

Probably doing what he did next wasn't the best idea, but he could always tell Misty that it was just payback anyway. Ash felt a stinging sensation on his cheek as he fell to the ground, holding onto it as Gary remained seated on the grass. There was a slight glare in his eyes, and he was obviously not pleased, but Ash didn't have enough energy to fight back. He probably deserved the punch anyway, seeing as he did the same thing to Gary the other day.

"Get a grip, Ashy-boy!" The brunette exclaimed. "You're losing it, and I mean more than normal." Ash would have glared and then shoved him, had he been normal, but this Ash just shrugged once again and got up to continue his throwing of the stones. If Ash was not in love with Misty, he didn't know what Ash was.


"Ash," The young Oak tried again, taking hold of Ash's shoulder and forcing his old rival to look him dead in the eye. "Listen to me, and listen good. Absorb what I'm saying and don't question anything, got that?" The Ketchum nodded, rather shocked by being so close to Gary. In truth they were a good twelve inches apart.

"Who did she travel with for three years?"

"Gary, I don't see your—"

"Just answer the question, moron!" Gary exclaimed, shaking Ash lightly by the shoulders. "Who did she travel with for three years?" The brunette was not going to have it. He would get Ash to apologize to, if not realize his for, Misty. He may not want to admit it, but he was also, partly, at fault for the debacle that had occurred. Delia had even called him to ask what it was that had happened. That was not a pleasant experience to explain to the slightly, at the time, hysterical woman.

"Brock and—"

"Ash, God Damnit, just admit it already."

"Fine, she traveled with me for three years!" He exclaimed, taking hold of Gary's hands and taking them off of his shoulders. The world was spinning slightly as the shaking finally stopped. Had there been two of Gary before? Why were they swaying around? Ash felt like he was back on that boat from Unova. He felt like he was going to be sick.

"Good, now who did she worry about everyday while she took care of her Gym?"

"Everyone!" Ash exclaimed, and it was true.

"Nice try, smart ass." Gary snorted. "Now stop evading and answer seriously."

The black haired teen sighed. "Me" He answered.

The young researcher observed Ash's shoulders slump in defeat. Ash was listening to him now, taking in the meaning of his words. Progression, to a degree, but still far from him accepting his feelings. Still, his job now wasn't to finish what he had been wanting to say yesterday. Today, all he needed was to have the two friends reconcile. Gary Oak was not one to care and be nice about other people's problems, but Misty—and to a degree, Ash as well—was such a good friend. He didn't want her to suffer more than she already had under the clutches of the boy before him.

"Who'd she risk her life to save?"

"Anyone would have done that!" Ash suddenly answered. "It doesn't—"

"Do you want another punch in the face?"

"Alright! I get it!" The trainer exclaimed. "She saved me, okay? She saved me!"

Gary's words were getting to him, but it seemed to be doing the opposite of comfort. The researcher was trying to convince him that Ash had held a place in Misty's heart reserved only for him, reserved only for her best friend, but all his words were proving was how horrible Ash had been. To leave her, to cease contact with her, it made him feel like the worst human possible. The Gyarados idea was actually beginning to sound amazing, compared to facing Misty after all of this.

"So, after all of that, who do you think Misty cares for more?" Ash didn't like where this was going.

"Who's more important?" Gary continued. "You or Me?"

How was he supposed to answer that? Deep down, he knew the answer was that Misty cared more for him. Deep down, Ash believed that it was because Misty held that place above all his other female companions as well. Was it a delusion? Maybe. Was it an enjoyable thought? Absolutely. Was it reality? Improbable…or, at least, it was to him.

He was unknowing, and Gary knew that. Ash may have grown up, he may have matured, but he was far from reaching emotional stability. Misty called it an endearing attribute, when he had asked her about it. The brunette had responded by saying it was a pain in the neck. Tracey had agreed with him, albeit adding that it was one of the reasons Misty felt more for the boy.

"You or Me, Ashy-boy?" Gary pushed. "You know the answer."

"Me" Ash finally released. "Or I want it to be me…"

"Hmm…well why don't you ask her and find out for yourself if you're right?" The researcher hid the smirk that had erupted on his face. It seemed that Ash was progressing. Nothing drastic, but progress none the less. "If it's any help though, everyone agrees with you. Brock, Tracey, May, even Dawn, and she hadn't even met Misty yet." Ash blushed, Gary chuckled.

"I don't understand how this is going to help me to apologize…"

"You've gotten smarter—or at least I hope you have—" Ash glared. "Figure it out. She's shown how important you are to her, maybe it's time you return her the favor and prove she isn't a disposable piece of your he—life, I mean life." No point in stressing the boy out now, Gary thought. Ash seemed confused enough, and that punch from yesterday still hurt.

"And how do I…" Looking at the glistening water, Ash felt his heart skip a beat. Of course! How could he have forgotten this place? This place that held so much emotion, not only for him, but for Misty and Pikachu as well! "That's it!" Ash exclaimed, suddenly standing, rock still in his hand, and turning away from the river before him. "That's it!" He repeated, much louder, making Gary smile forlornly. That's it Ash, he thought. You're getting the right idea.

"Thanks Gary." Ash said, frowning immediately. "That didn't taste right in my mouth."

"Get out of here before I hit you again." Gary responded.

Releasing a laugh, Ash turned and ran, throwing the stone into the water before disappearing. Gary watched its decent, smiling when the splash sounded, and standing to leave, satisfied that his job had been finished.


Sitting down and looking up at the moon, Misty couldn't help but feel all the more lonelier. Nature spots were supposed to be famous spots for couples to enjoy the scenery and have that romantic ambiance that many would consider perfect, yet here she was, spoiling the fun by being totally dateless and looking so pathetic. There was a romantic view, a romantic spot, but not romantic interest. Misty came to the place because she had gotten a note that had practically ordered her to come. She knew it was from Ash, but the information didn't really offer her a lot of comfort.

The moon was full, and the only thing that could have made it perfect was if it actually turned blue. How Misty wished for that right now, so that she would be at least allowed to hope that a miracle would be coming. So that she could at least, for that night only, think that there was a chance that this lonely night would turn into something more than what it originally was.

"Stupid Ash…" Misty sighed, turning her gaze to the body of water that was present in front of her. It sparkled under the moonlight, a beautiful sight. She was tempted to take out her lure and fish for Water Pokemon, but she decided against it. The situation really didn't call for her to do anything of the sort. Actually, she wasn't quite sure what the current situation was. Why had Ash told her to come here? After all those painful words, why make the effort?

Another sigh escaped her lips then. The certain popular phrase 'forever alone' seemed to place a smile on her face. True, one person could never be forever alone. All people had friends, had family, had someone who cared, but it was indeed very easy to feel alone. Maybe that was what the phrase intended to mean. You aren't physically 'forever alone', but you do end up feeling alone due to being unable to share such moments like this with someone who would, in return, loved to have shared it with you.

"Let me guess," Someone suddenly spoke out, making Misty turn around. "You saw a Tentacruel and it managed to get away from you?" A teen with black hair and brown eyes emerged, and Misty managed a small smile. He seemed to be in a good mood.

"Fat chance." Misty answered, softly. "I never miss my mark, especially if it was a Tentacruel." She continued. "Also, you should know, first hand, that there aren't any in this river." Ash sat down beside her and released his very own sigh. Really, this girl, she was so special in so many ways. She was his best friend, she went through so many challenges with him, and yet she could still not allow him to forget that she had fished him out of the river they currently sat in front of.

"Catch of the day for you, huh?." Ash spoke out. "I'm really happy that you didn't have a Gyarados during that time. I probably wouldn't have gotten away with your bike if you did." He answered back, Misty shaking her head in amusement.

"I was too scared to even look at one when you first met me." Misty retorted, her eyes fixed on the sparkling water once again. "I guess it really shows how things have changed, huh?" The red head concluded, Ash laughing slightly.

"Who do you consider your strongest Water Pokemon anyway?" Ash decided to ask, trying to stray from the real reason he was there to begin with. "I'm guessing it's between Gyarados and Seadra, but who am I to say? Dewgong's Aurora Beam already has me on my toes." Misty was the one who laughed at that one.

"I guess Gyarados." She answered. "That Pokemon's got more training than Seadra, so I consider Gyarados my strongest Pokemon." Misty continued. "Also, I'm pretty sure at the mention of 'Misty the Cerulean City Gym Leader' everyone already begins to mention Gyarados, might as well make it an actual thing to fear."

Silence enveloped the two teens as the chatter died down, leaving both in an awkward situation that neither wanted to experience. Misty couldn't come up with anything to talk about, but Ash just refused to bring up the actual reason he was there to begin with. "So…ugh…you do remember this place then?" Ash suddenly asked, not wanting to prolong the silence.

"How can't I?" Misty answered almost immediately. "You still haven't payed me back for that bike."

Ash smiled. "Besides, I met my best friend here." Misty explained. "I can't even imagine my life without Pikachu, so this place is pretty important." He should have laughed, but he didn't. She was still calling him her best friend? After all the hurtful words that he said to her, she still thought of him that way? The guilt churned his stomach in a very uncomfortable way. It also made him very wary about what he was about to say.

Technically speaking, any guy would be wary about said situations. It wasn't because pride was the biggest problem when it came to the male gender, nor was it the fact that he was probably going to give Misty the power to put an end to their friendship right then and there (though things would be much simpler had those factors not existed), but because Ash had absolutely no idea how things would be turning out. A battle with a Gym Leader would give him the confidence to win, but even though Misty was a Gym Leader and this was technically an inner battle, he just couldn't gain the confidence to say three very simple words.

"You know, Ash," Misty suddenly began, her voice dreamy as if she was talking to Togepi all over again. "The sky and the sea, they remind me of us." The first thing that entered the future Pokemon master's head was 'Who was which?', but Misty just continued on explaining without a care in the world. Ash actually wondered what brought it on, but just listened either way.

"They're very different, but they're alike in many things too." Misty elaborated. "They mirror each other, they're always facing each other, they're so close yet so far." Ash nodded in agreement. He didn't get the mirroring each other, but he did get the last part. Both of them have this bond with one another that no one else can replace, and though they are the best of friends and closer with each other than with any other person in the planet (except probably for Ash's mom), yet they couldn't see each other often, couldn't even visit as much as they wanted to. It was a sad thought, that yes, they were so near yet so far.

Ash also felt bad that the lack of communication was partially his fault.

"Hey, Misty..." Ash trailed, suddenly coming up with a thought that could perhaps give him a hint to what Misty felt at the moment. To a degree, he felt afraid of the answer that Misty would give him, but he would risk it just this once. "You know me more than anyone, right?" This question caused the Gym Leader to suddenly turn her head in his direction, curious and confused.

Misty was scrutinizing Ash's every move, wondering what on earth could have brought up the sudden topic of their relationship. "It's not that I doubt that!" Ash suddenly defended himself, red tinges appearing on his cheeks. Misty wondered why he seemed to be so nervous. "It's just that…I like to think I know you more than anyone else. I guess, I want to know if you feel the same way."

The red head seemed unsure of herself. Should she answer the rather harmless question?

"I—I—I would think so." Misty decided to say, now looking directly at the water and trying her hardest to forget Ash's stern gaze that was undoubtedly aimed at her. "But then again, May and Dawn and Iris would probably know you just as well. Maybe even more than I know you." She added, hoping that this would lay Ash's curiosity to rest. Sadly, that was not the case. May was right, he wasn't that dense ten year old that she first met. He was keener and more observant now. Never would she have thought that what she hoped for him to become would bite her back in the butt someday.

"You're not the type to stutter, you know that right?"

"Why don't you just drop it, Ash?" The red head answered back. "I doubt you asked me here to know how much I know you." A very good point, but Ash knew that he needed answers if he actually wanted to do what he set out to do.

"Misty…" Ash warned, and the girl sighed.

"I don't think I know you the best, Ash." He froze at her words. "You said it yourself, you wanted to get away from me and that would make me think that you'd probably have shared more with your other friends. Besides, they were the ones who had you during the puberty years. Poor them." No one laughed at the poor try at a joke.

"How could you say that?" Ash found himself asking. "I know that you were pretty pissed when I didn't call, but you know more than anyone that I'm just as capable of a mind lapse—maybe even more capable to them. Did you really think that I meant a single word that I said?" This question took Misty off guard. "Misty?"

"I don't know." The words escaped the Gym Leader's mouth before she could think it through. "You sounded pretty convincing and you sounded so mad, and I've never seen you get so angry even at me. How should I have taken it, Ash?" Inside his heart, Ash knew that Misty's explanation was incomplete.

Ash didn't read much into Misty's silence, but he decided to speak. "I'm never good with people telling me that they know me more than anyone." He began. "You've probably noticed that I hate it when people tell me stuff about me or how I feel, especially if it has anything to do with any of my friends. That was why I got so angry with Gary, because, I guess, he crossed a line that no one ever straight-forwardly did."

Misty's heart stopped as the words spilled out of Ash's mouth. "I guess, I just got so angry and since it involved you, my mind registered that I was angry at you too. I really didn't mean a single thing I said, and I don't want you to stay away from me. You're my best friend, Misty. Don't ever doubt that." Misty was still not speaking. For once in her life, she really had no idea what to say.

Moments of silence passed. Ash fiddled with his fingers as he waited for Misty to speak up. He was nervous, afraid, and excited at the same time. Misty, she was a different story. Confusion, joy, nerves, possibly insanity. Those were the feelings coursing through her body. She was scolding herself as well. Why won't you speak? Why won't you answer? She would find herself saying to her mind.

"A—Ash," She was finally able to let out, her voice barely above a whisper. Luckily, the future Pokemon Master heard it loud and clear. "I—I don't—" Ash's heart stopped as his stomach dropped. "—want to stay away from you either."

Looking into Misty's eyes with a sudden snap of the head, Ash found himself shocked. Her eyes were brimming with tears of joy, a beautiful smile appearing on her face like she was on top of the world. Extending his arms, Ash found himself pulling her into a tight hug, one that even beat the one he had given her after not seeing her for so long. "You're my best friend too." She said. "Even if you're a jerk sometimes, you're my best friend too."

Ash was ecstatic, pulling Misty as close as possible. He didn't even care why this hug—this closeness felt oh so right.

"I'm sorry, I did not mean to hurt my little girl.
It's beyond me, I cannot carry the weight of a heavy world."
—Maroon 5—

I am so painfully sorry for this uber late update! I've just been working on other stuff, and plus the school year is fast approaching. I thank you all for being patient, and also, seeing as I might not be able to update for a bit, I would just like to say that the Indigo League finally does come up in the next chapter. Now, we even have a basis for Misty and Ash's future relationship—if they ever get into one at least. Also, we also have some Old Rivalry Shipping in the mix! Hahaha! I just love Leaf!

I really don't have a lot to say, so I just want to give thanks to everyone who has alerted, reviewed, and favourited so far! I love you all to bits and you are my inspiration. Please continue supporting, even if my update schedule is so extremely confusing and far apart. I'm trying to fix that, so don't worry. I'm also sorry if this seems a bit short. This is just all I could manage to do right now. I'm also apologizing in advance for any grammatical errors and misspellings! I haven't beta-ed this one.