Disclaimer: Obviously I don't own Pokemon.

A/N: Ash's new outfit makes him looks older than ten for once! So I decided to write this. It didn't exactly go the way I was planning... but I like where it ended up. Enjoy!

"And don't forget your deodorant this time, honey."

"Yeah mom, I know. I already packed it. I'm completely ready to go. Iris and Cilan are waiting for me outside."

"Okay, okay, I get that you're ready to leave me again. I just want to make sure you're not going to smell up the road on the way there."

Ash sighed. He didn't like leaving his mom, but this was his life, and it was time for him to get moving again. "Mom, you know I'm going to miss you, right?"

Delia's eyes began to water as she looked at her son, dressed in a red hat that reminded her of the one he'd always worn as a child, and when he first set out on his journey. She was so proud of him. "I'm going to miss you too, Ashy."

He leaned forward towards his mother, who he was now the same height as, and kissed her on the cheek before pulling her into a hug. "I love you."

Delia pulled away after a moment, beaming at her son's sentiments. "Be safe, and make sure to call at every Pokemon Center."

"Mom!" Ash whined, dragging out the word, "Every single one?"

"Do you want me to sit here worrying about you for weeks on end? Every. Single. One."

"Fine. I promise." Ash's mother smiled as Ash turned to open the door and stepped out to join his friends.

"Goodbye, you three! Have a nice trip!"

"Goodbye Mrs. Ketchum!" Iris yelled as she walked backwards down the lane between Cilan and Ash.

After waving she turned back around to begin the two day long walk to their next destination.

"So, Ash, have you been to the place we're going now?"

"Yep. It's the city where I got my second badge!"

"Wow, Cerulean, really?" Cilan asked, obviously impressed, "I've heard the Gym Leader there is pretty good. She's one of the best in this region."

"Well I'm a great trainer, so it wasn't too hard for me!" Ash bragged, putting his hands behind his head. "But actually, when I first dueled her she neither of us was really very experienced. Her sisters were just giving out badges so she took over. I guess I was probably her first challenger."

"Really? That's really cool, to be able to be a Gym Leader's first battle."

"Well, I was probably a lot of Misty's firsts."

"Wait, what? What is that supposed to mean? Misty as in the Gym Leader?!"

"I just — not like that! We just traveled together for a long time so we did a lot of stuff together! Normal stuff! Friend stuff! Like, like battling and dealing with Team Rocket!"

"You traveled with Misty Waterflower? When?" Cilan asked.

"For how long?" Iris piped in, excited at the idea of being connected to such a celebrated Gym Leader.

"About a year and a half, I guess."

"You were with this girl for a year and a half but you never told us? You've never even mentioned her…"

"Yeah, well…" Ash looked down and fiddled with his pockets, "We haven't talked in a while."

"Why not?" Iris asked, "It sounds like you two were pretty close."

Ash, keeping his head down, answered after thinking for a few seconds, "When I was younger I was kind of an idiot. I forgot to take the time to call and even when I did I didn't know what to say besides telling her I… missed her."

"Arceus, Ash, you're such a kid! Maybe she wouldn't have minded you telling her you missed her!"

"I don't know. I think that would have weirded her out a little bit, But anyway, after a while our calls just got awkward, and so eventually we stopped talking altogether. I guess it's been about two years since we last talked."

"Well you know what they say!" Cilan said, always the one to offer helpful advice, "there's no time like the present!"

"Yeah!" Ash yelled, bouncing back just as quick as he always did, "This is gonna be a piece of cake! No way Misty can beat me now!"
Iris and Cilan gave each other a look behind their friend's back before the dragon trainer spoke up.

"I wouldn't be so sure…" But Ash didn't hear her, as he was already running down the road the Cerulean, eager to arrive as soon as possible. "Hey, Ash, wait up!"

Almost three hours later, the trio arrived at the steps to the Cerulean Gym, They were sweaty from having run almost half of the way, but excited to have reached their destination so quickly.

"Well, I guess I'll just go knock on the door now."

"That is what you do to get them to open." Iris told him sarcastically, smirking at his nervousness. Ash walked up to the front step and was about to knock when the door flew open and a redhead burst out, yelling behind her up until the point that she ran right into him. He reached out and grabbed her wrists to keep her from falling over backwards.

"I can't—" Misty started before looking up at her challenger's face, to see him and Pikachu smiling back at her. "Ash! What are you doing here?"

Ash was very confused, and his face showed it. "You're not mad at me?"

Misty put her hand on her hip and gave Ash that 'What the hell are you on about?' face that she had perfected during her travels with Ash.
"Why would i be mad at you?"

"Because… you know, I haven't called in a while. And I didn't tell you I was coming."

Misty let out a sigh and rolled her eyes at the boy in front of her. "You're such an idiot. I know you don't do that kind of thing anyway. Your mom says she never gets calls from you either. I'm just glad you're here!"

Ash was shocked that Misty was being so cool about this. But he didn't want to push his luck, and so decided not to press Misty about it further. At that moment he remembered Iris and Cilan existed, and stepped back so Misty could have a clear view of both of them.

"Um, this is Iris and Cilan. I met them in Unova." At his introduction, Cilan moved forward and offered his hand to Misty with a flourish. "Lovely to meet you. My brothers are gym leaders as well, so I'm very excited to see how the leaders in Kanto run their gyms. It will be a pleasure and an honor to watch you battle."

Misty blushed at his compliment, and Ash felt something pang in his chest, so he pulled Iris forward toward Misty as well. "Iris is excited to meet you too! She said so on the way here."

"Yeah!" The dragon trainer said, "I've heard you have a Gyarados. Is that true?"

"Yeah! Do you want to meet him? I was about to go into town for a while, but I guess I can do that later. Why don't you guys come in?" Feeling significantly better, Ash went to Misty's side, only to be surprised by her adding, "I'm really glad to see you again, Ash. And you too, Pikachu." Misty scratched the little mouse on the head and he pushed into her touch before replying with his own "Pikachupi!"

He pondered what to say back for a moment before pulling Misty into a hug, "Me too." The redhead looked shocked and then smiled again, blushing a bit. Ash wasn't sure why, but he liked that he made her react that way. "Misty, you're blushing!"

"I am not!" She yelled, her expression quickly changing to one of irritation. "It's from the heat. Hurry up and go inside already." Ash's old friend opened the door for his friends and playfully (he hoped) tried to trip him on his way in the door.

"Too slow, Mist!" He taunted as he walked past. "And anyway, if I'd fallen, Pikachu would have too. And how would you have felt then?"

"Pika!" Ash stuck his tongue out at the Gym Leader, who ran after him into the main area of the gym. Pikachu jumped off his trainer's shoulder as the two teens ran around the edge of the pool, slipping and sliding after one another. After Misty had successfully stolen Ash's hat and placed it on her own head, she walked triumphantly back to the other two trainers.

"So, you wanted to meet Gyarados, right?"

"Yes, absolutely! I'm going to be a dragon master one day, so seeing a well trained Gyarados could really help me out!"

"Don't pretend like you don't also think he's really cute." Cilan interjected.

"You think Gyarados is cute too?!" Misty practically squealed, happy to have found another trainer who shared her strange thoughts about her beautiful water Pokemon. "Ash never —"

Misty was cut off as the black haired boy slammed into her, sending them both flying into the pool. The sunk down a few feet together, before Misty pushed Ash off of her and swam back to the top. The two of them broke the surface at the same time.

"Ash!" The younger boy couldn't stop laughing, and because of this, was having trouble staying afloat. The two swam to the side, where Ash finally stopped laughing and caught his breath.

"I'm sorry, Misty. It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up."

"And I thought you had matured."

"I have!"

"Suuuure." Misty climbed out of the pool and walked over to the shelves where she kept her towels, pulling out two and handing one to Ash, before pulling the ponytail holder out of her wet hair..

"I really am sorry. But you look kinda cute with your hair down like that."

Ash's remark, instead of embarrassing her further, made her realize she had lost his hat in the water. "I dropped your hat!" She blurted out at him.

"Oh, that's ok. I'll jump back in and get it." A spark came into the water trainer's eyes at this.

"Wanna race to it?" They locked eyes and then both threw their towels on the ground and ran to the pool, diving in in almost perfect sync. Misty, who spent almost every day in the water, got to the hat first, but Ash was very close on her tail. The two treaded water together for a moment, until Ash spoke up.

"Thanks."

"You don't have to thank me. I mean, I stole it off you head in the first place."

"No, I mean. Thanks for making it like I never left."

Misty's eyes grew a little watery at his words, but she kept herself composed.

"You know what, Ash? Maybe you have grown up a little bit."