Disclaimer - It's a really good thing I don't own anything because it's taken me over two years to post a new fic! Can you imagine if this were the anime we were talking about?

Author - Chibi / Warlordess

Notes - Uh, hi guys! Guess who's back? Back again? Chibi's back! Tell a-((shot)). . . Okay, okay; I get it already! But it feels so good to write something for the first time in so long! And a new fic! Agh, it's been years! That's not even an exaggeration! Where has the time gone?! Rants, raves, and obsessions aside, I just wanted to extend a quick thanks to anyone who decided to give this new ficcy a chance. I hope you like!

Also, to poka, see? I told you I'd make sure I had this up before the end of the weekend!

OoO

Title - "What She Wants"

Summary - As Delia Ketchum reaches the milestone that is her fiftieth birthday, she invites her son over to discuss with her the one thing he's never been able to give her.

Characters / Ages -

Delia / 50

Ash / 23

OoOoO

The table glowed with the soft white of her freshly pressed tablecloth, the silverware immaculately placed alongside the porcelain china. Fluffy eggs and crispy toast sat perched before her and her guest that morning, as well as sizzling sausage just pulled from her favorite frying pan.

Everything could not have been more perfect.

"Ash, honey, would you like some tea?" Delia asked with her brightest smile.

Some would tell her that she'd clearly gone overboard with the extravagancies of the meal. Knowing it would be the first time in months that she'd be seeing her son, she had pulled out all the stops, even going so far as to have a plethora of leftovers available should Ash want them.

Well, the boy had always had the appetite of a Snorlax, hadn't he? Even growing up, he'd easily managed to down seconds and thirds of her cooking before even remotely breaking his stride.

"Oh, uh, sure; thanks, mom," Ash nodded almost bashfully.

It had been bad enough holding back his overly-affectionate mother when he brought his friends over between journeys to different regions around the world when he was younger. . . but it was almost unimaginably worse now that he was twenty-three years old.

He gave her the benefit of the doubt though. After all, the Indigo League had kept him busy over the past year since his inauguration as Kanto's third-division champion.

That's right. . . It had been a long time coming but twelve years down the road, Ash Ketchum had finally achieved some semblance of his dream. And what had waited for him after that small victory was not entirely what he'd expected. Instead of continuing to travel and strengthen his team full-time, he'd been set up with some cozy living quarters at the League base at Indigo Plateau where, once a year, he would be challenged by those Pokemon trainers who had broken the threshold of the competition in the championship finals.

He wasn't so sure about signing on with Indigo at first, obviously realizing that he'd be losing the freedom he'd been allowed by being only a licensed trainer trying to attain the respect and knowledge that battling for badges gave him. But by law, the only way to challenge others for the Pokemon Master title was to rank divisional champion for five consecutive years. Only then would the leagues across the world unify and host the World Master Cup.

It was a relatively closed circuit from here on out when it came to Ash's dream. . . but he still wouldn't give up.

In the meantime, he could travel short-term, though it required him to participate in local interviews and events. It wasn't everything, wasn't even much, but he'd take it.

And if time and business allowed him, he would sneak away to his small vacation home off of Route Five just North of Saffron City.

That was in fact where his mother had found him only two days ago. All it had taken was one call from Ash's handler at League HQ begging she get her son to stop disappearing on them without proper notice just because he was getting a little hot under the collar and she had immediately hung up and in turn dialed Ash's private cell-phone number.

His vacation home and his private cell-phone. The only two things he had managed to keep to himself over the past three or so years. There were no other secrets.

"Pika. . . chaaa. . ." his best friend exclaimed contentedly from his lap as his trainer rubbed at the base of his long ears.

Even Pikachu had not escaped the media onslaught that followed Ash's initial victory at the Pokemon League. Instead the electric mouse was now the non-spokes-model for young trainers. . . Well, at least according to all the posters and news ads plastered so frequently on every other channel.

Delia sighed rather despondently at the circus that was her son's life now-a-days.

"Mom, what's up? Is something wrong?" Ash asked with concern.

"Oh, it's nothing too much," and the woman smiled as she took in his completely empty plate. She had been so busy reminiscing that she hadn't even noticed he was done eating. "Would you like some more, honey?" And she gestured at the platters she'd carefully prepared extra of just for him.

"Sure!" he responded enthusiastically and leapt up to grab some. In turn, Pikachu was thrown off of him and landed upright on the ground.

A little wary, the electric mouse waved his tail admonishingly at his trainer before wandering off to nap in the living room.

Delia watched the Pokemon go but faced her son again as he let out a snort of laughter.

"What is it?" she asked him then.

"Oh, nothing. I was just thinking that if Misty was here, she'd be calling me a pig right now," he told her as he let her get a look at the two-point-five inch tall stack of sausage and eggs on his place. "But I can't help it! I mean, I haven't had a really good home-cooked meal in so long!"

"Well, honey," his mother said to him after the blank blinking stare had faded away, "Misty would probably only say those kinds of things because she cares. I hope you know that."

"Oh, I do," Ash affirmed calmly between heaping bites of food.

Delia was impressed by her son's level of faith and confidence in the relationship he had with the Cerulean City native.

Misty. Now there was a name she hadn't heard in awhile. And why should she? The girl hadn't traveled with Ash since he was thirteen years old. And yes, they had been close, but Ash had been just as close to any of his other friends, hadn't he?

Delia sighed again. Ash had had so very many friends. That was part of the problem, she supposed.

"Mom?" Ash inquired once more at her rather obviously display of despondence.

"Oh, I'm sorry," she said with a distracting giggle and a wave of her arm.

"So. . . what was it that you wanted to talk about anyway? It sounded like a pretty big deal over the phone a couple of days ago," her son faltered there and took in the sight of her sharp and sudden change in impression.

She clearly had a purpose with him.

"Ash, you know that I love you. . . You do, right?" She waited for him to answer before going on.

"Uh, yeah. . . Of course. I mean, I love you too. . ." he stuttered confusedly with a furrowed brow. Nevertheless Delia couldn't help nudging him on.

"But not enough to come and visit your mother in almost an entire year, is that right?" And she sipped smoothly at her tea as she watched her son's arms go slightly limp, even as he was attempting to ladle more eggs onto his plate.

He fell back into his seat with his jaw hanging open.

"It's not like that! I've been really busy, you know! I wanted to come see you too! I just couldn't find the time! The league has had me on such a tight leash and, well. . . to tell the truth. . . there's something I've been wanting to talk to you about anyway."

One of his hands swept to the back of his neck as his face colored just a tad. He was interrupted by the faint buzzing of his cell-phone vibrating in his pocket and quickly pulled it out.

"Ah. . . not important. . ." he murmured even as the flush grew brighter and he rejected the call with a swipe of his thumb on the screen. His phone in turn blacked out and he set it on the table before giving his mom his undivided attention.

"So, uh, what's all this about?" he finally asked and braced himself for whatever she was planning to throw at him.

"Honey, well. . . let me start by saying that I at least partially blame myself for this."

"F - for. . . what, exactly?"

"You were always my pride and joy when you were growing up, I hope you know. You made every day worthwhile and. . . But perhaps because of that, I know I let you get away with too much."

"What do you mean?" Ash gulped with a furrowed brow.

"Little things like your diet. Even now, I still let you eat whatever and however much you want. But there are also some bigger things. . . For instance, I let my precious little boy leave home at the age of ten years to pursue what could be the most obscure and unending goal in the history of the world."

Ash stared soundly at his mother and waited for her to go on. There had to be more than that, right? She wasn't just going to keep reiterating how much loneliness she'd suffered through while he was gone, was she?

"And yes, I did miss you. . ." Or perhaps those really were her intentions, ". . . but more than that, there were a select few things I never had the time to teach you before you went. I regret not properly leading you down the most potential path to adulthood there was to offer you."

"Mom. . ." Ash murmured though not through melancholy. Instead he felt slightly exasperated that he had to remind her of something she herself had just said. "I was only ten years old! Becoming an adult was the last thing on my mind!"

"But now you're twenty-three years old and I'm fifty. Ash, I-"

"-Is this about you climbing over the hill?" he asked rashly, doing as he did best and barreling his way through any sensitive topic that he happened to approach.

Delia looked slightly affronted but shook it off in lieu of pursuing their discussion further.

"A little bit, Ash, yes. But this is also about your life right now!"

The two of them were interrupted by his cell, still sitting beside him on the table, as it began vibrating again. Ash quickly scanned the name that appeared before sighing and choosing to screen the call again.

Delia thought about letting him answer but knew he would just use it as an excuse to run from their talk. It was probably his handler in any case, who was probably in a mild state of panic over Ash's prolonged absence.

"So what is it that you think I'm lacking at twenty-three years old?" he asked her after his phone quieted down.

"Well, you never learned to cook, for one. Honestly, honey, if not for friends like Brock, I'm sure you would have spent your entire youth surviving on instant ramen!"

"Okay, got'cha. I'll learn how to cook. What else?"

"There's always emergency medical treatment. Do you realize how many nightmares I had of you falling, drowning, freezing to death?"

Ash opened his mouth initially to tell her that he'd repeatedly survived all off those conditions but immediately thought better of it.

Instead, he said, "Okay, I'll get on that as soon as I get back to League HQ. Anything else?"

"Drinking."

"Eh? I barely drink! And I never did it before I turned of age!"

"What about drugs?"

"Never tried 'em. Doesn't sound like they have any real benefits."

"Well, what about se-," but Delia stuttered to a falter as she considered her baby boy's innocent, fawn-like ears. She assumed she had better approach the topic of sex more cautiously.

"Uh. . . what was that last one?" Ash asked in mild, unknowledgeable confusion.

"I. . ." Delia allowed her mind to reel as it quickly found a way around the direct broaching of the subject. "I. . . never taught you what it means to find a girl pretty."

"Uh, what do you mean, what it means?" Ash narrowed his eyes in scrutinization of those words. He didn't waste time denying that he had at some point - er, what was it? - found particular girls pretty. Maybe at age fourteen when his stubbornness and nerves had gotten the better of him, but now that he was an adult, he supposed he should take responsibility for those feelings.

By far the craziest thing, though, was that Ash could tell that this was the pressing matter his mom had needed to discuss with him by the way her facial features tightened and her spine straightened as she kneeled forward on the edge of her seat, anticipation clear in her eyes as she stared him down.

"Uh. . ." his voice cracked and his internal body temperature increased by roughly a hundred degrees. "Why would you. . . I mean, why talk about it now? And why would you blame yourself for that?"

"Ash, you've accomplished many things since you first left home. I do realize at ten years old that the opposite gender was probably a foreign concept to you then but I'd. . . I'd hoped that as time wore on and you continued to meet more girls, that they'd start to appeal to you both emotionally as well as physically."

"Both. . . physically?!" Ash yelped suddenly in understanding. Were the two of them actually talking about-

"And yes, Ash, you are many things but a Casanova has never been one of them." Delia went on knowingly. "I should have talked to you about these things years ago but there hardly seemed to be a time for it. Now, though, well. . . there hasn't been even one rumor about you consorting with a woman!" she finished with a hand placed melodramatically against her own forehead.

And she was right. For all of the time Ash had spent at Indigo League, for all twelve-hundred days he'd become practically a household name, for all the paparazzi he'd had sniffing around him the entire time, there had never been one juicy story about an affair with a significant other.

Ash took in his mom's woe-is-me expression and mulled what she'd said to him over in his mind. . . but as the seconds wore on, he felt confusion and curiosity begin to well up over the woman's grievance.

"Uh. . . I'm not sure but. . . I mean, I still don't get what the big deal is. I mean, who cares if I'm dating?"

His mother stared imploringly at him before deciding that she should properly explain herself.

"Ash, you've given me many wonderful things over the years but there's. . . there's still one thing I've always wanted that you've never been able to provide me with."

It was Ash's turn to stare at her again. If he were being honest, he couldn't remember a time when his mom had asked anything of him. She had always given support and allowed him all opportunities and, no matter her concern or fear, she'd never forced him to drop any goal or task in order to alleviate her own burdens.

It was that thought alone that had Ash perched on edge with bated breath, more than willing to give his mom whatever she wanted.

"What? What do you need?" he asked even as he internally considered the possibilities. As she had previously stated, they'd barely seen each other in the past year and the phone-calls were just as rare. Or maybe she was going to ask for some financial assistance.

Of course, none of those things seemed to pertain to her rather sudden interest in his sex life.

"Grandchildren."

Ash avoided the oncoming face-fault-slash-fainting-spell by gripping the corner of the dining table with one hand and using the other to support the bulk of his weight from the seat of the chair he was currently sitting in.

But nothing could quell the emotional hurricane threatening to sweep him permanently undertow.

He propped open his mouth to respond to such an exclamation but the words died in his throat, or perhaps they refused to come aid him, rather deciding they'd do well to abandon him where he was.

His phone, still sitting beside him on the table, lit up and began to vibrate once more. Delia was just thinking about how willing she'd be to bet money that it was the same person her son had been dodging all morning but didn't get the chance as he promptly let out a rather frustrated sounding gurgle, swiping his thumb across the screen to reject the call for the third time, and as a final nail in the coffin, proceeded to turn the phone off.

Delia, for her part, was rather impressed. She was sure her son would have taken the opportunity to run, fake some sort of emergency and fly out the door at breakneck speed. . . She had to give him some credit for the way he'd resolved to stick it out. (It was more like he hadn't even thought of that idea.)

"So. . . um. . . I. . ." Though he was still having trouble forming full sentences. "Why?"

"Ash, you don't realize how quiet it's been around here since you left home! Your father and I had dreamed about filling this house with children when we were younger, though due to his passing. . ." She paused for a moment as the two of them reminisced fondly in memory of the former Mr. Ketchum, ". . . I put such a thing on hold. I mean, I had my hands full with you alone, especially after you started fighting with Gary."

Ash grinned sheepishly despite the inevitable compulsion he was feeling to flee the room and never look back. When they'd been kids, he and Gary had often scrapped together in the back yard, so much so that the two had been indefinitely separated. Then, as the two of them had approached their tenth birthdays and begun studying for their trainer licensing exams, they'd realized that there was a smarter way to do things and had decided to rely on their scores and skills to tell them who the best was between them.

"And, to be frank, I didn't really have the heart for it at the time," his mom went on to say as if she'd never stopped talking, and Ash snapped awake from his reverie.

"Still, honey, this house was meant to be filled with family. And, for a long time, I had thought I could just leave it alone and that you'd eventually come around on your own. However now I see that you're still only interested in your career as a Pokemon trainer."

Ash silently noted the disappointment laced in her tone but choice not to take it personally. She wasn't disappointed in him, he knew, only disappointed in a few of the life choices she presumed he'd made over the years.

"So I was hoping that we could get a little more in-depth on this topic."

"A little more. . . ?" Ash repeated almost timidly, "What do you mean by that?"

"Your friend, May. . . You know, she still calls the house asking about you quite often," and Delia grinned suggestively at her son before standing and reaching for the tea kettle, and then some honey to go with her refill.

She regained her seat and subletly stirred her hot tea with her spoon, purposely avoiding her son's wide-eyed gaze.

"As I seem to recall it, the two of you got along quite well. She's trying to remain in contact with you even after all these years. Don't you think there might be some hidden meaning?" she asked, finally readjusting her gaze to meet his once more.

"Uh. . . no, mom, I don't really. . . I mean, we do actually talk occasionally, though I guess it has been a fair few months now that I think about it. . . Still, I know she's not keeping anything like that from me." Then, knowing that this might have been the opportunity he was waiting for, he opened his mouth again, "But now that you mention it, there is-"

Sensing his next statement would have nothing to do with his secret love affair with the burgundy-haired girl from Hoenn, Delia held up her hand to silence him before going on.

"Well, what about that other girl, Dawn? She was so polite and easy-going, so charismatic! She'd be just what you need to help cope with your busy schedule. Have you two been keeping in touch at all?" she implored.

Ash refused to tell her that indeed they had - in a completely platonic sense - if only because of one certain fact.

"She's, like, five years younger than me, mom!"

Not to mention, as she'd told him last year sometime, she'd somehow blackmailed Paul into asking her out. Ash couldn't help remembering how mind-blown he'd been by that development.

"Age is only a number, honey," his mom reminded him as she poised an index finger upward. Then she softened up and unleashed a despondent sigh. "But that's what I've been trying to tell you for so long, Ash. If you can understand what it's like to love somebody and have it reciprocated, nothing else should really matter, should it?"

The raven-haired champion felt the tension in his own muscles ease up in response.

"No. . . I guess you're right," he agreed.

The two of them sat in contemplated silence for the next few minutes, perhaps mulling over their shared opinion about potential life partners, until finally, Delia just had to ruin it.

"Besides, Ash, it will be much easier to have sex with someone you can honestly love so whole-heartedly!"

"Mom!" he admonished as his entire face burned scarlet.

"If you need help finding someone, you can tell me. I'd be more than willing to help get the ball rolling."

"I don't need any help, I can promise you!" he yelped in terror at the very thought. However saying so only seemed to escalate his mom's flights of fancy.

"Oh, is that so?" she lamented, tapping her chin in wonder. Ash was crazy enough to think that the woman would actually back down after his egoistic remark. . . however he was quite wrong. "I can't see how that's possible though, you know? Unless. . ."

"U - unless what?" he had just enough courage to ask. Doing so may have been his grandest mistake.

"You have no interest in women," she said, and he thought she'd forgotten that she'd already said much the same thing at the start of this particular conversation. Then he realized that she wasn't finished speaking, "because you're interested in men instead."

"Wha. . ." The young man gulped, eyes wide and mouth going dry as cotton seemed to fill up his throat. He was pretty sure he was going to lose consciousness from all the difficulty he was having breathing and he felt his chest start to tingle even as his fingers went numb from clenching his fists so tight. And still he couldn't find or form the words it would take to save his own soul (not to mention his dignity).

"Well, it does explain a lot, doesn't it?" she whispered to nobody in particular as she went off on her own tangent. Ash watched as her shoulders slumped and her gaze cast down to the table and she tried to come to terms with the information she'd just gathered.

She then drew in a sharp breath and placed her mug half-filled with not-quite-hot-tea down, a resounding thump drawing attention before she held her head high once more.

"Oh, but don't be silly, Ash," she had the strength still to tell her son, "I would accept you unconditionally no matter what. You'll always be my joy, my one and only son, and I could never stop loving you. . ."

The raven-haired champion noticed that the more his mom tried to push herself through her speech, the more her face flushed and her eyes watered.

"It's just. . ." And the poor boy knew what was coming before it did, ". . . now I'll never have grandchildren!" she practically wailed in despair.

Ash had finally decided to give in and let the woman weep until she'd calmed down on her own, especially since he hadn't been able to get even one word in to convince her that she had been severely misinformed on the matter. Besides, he knew from experience that the worst thing a guy could do was give a woman just the right amount of ammunition to slaughter context with.

Loss of his own masculinity aside, even he wasn't stupid enough to pursue the topic any further just yet.

Delia gasped for breath and took a few sips of her tea and the minutes continued to drag on. Sometime later, she let out a few final sniffles and wiped the rest of her semi-Totodile tears away.

Gathering the reserves of his strength, Ash had just propped open his mouth to finally tell her what was what when the house phone started ringing from the other room.

"Oh, uh, I guess I'll get it," the raven-haired Pokemon champion said as he cautiously stood up to go answer the phone even as his mom refused to move.

"Don't be silly, Ash; Mimey will get it!" Delia waved a hand as if to assure him it was fine and he sat down once more.

True to his position as Delia's assistant-slash-housekeeper, Mimey could be heard crying his own name as he gallivanted down the stairs and straight for the phone as if his life was on the line (pun intended).

There was a momentary pause in conversation as they waited for the Pokemon to finish taking a message or else for him to call Delia over if it was something important. Finally deciding to take the chance, Ash pushed away his plate to indicate that he was finished with his breakfast.

"You know mom, about the, uh. . . the grandkids-thing. I mean, I - I'm not sure that I'm ready for that kind of responsibility but, backing up a bit, there was something. . . I was planning to tell you when I saw you today. . ." the young man continued to fumble over his words until his voice decided to run from him at the end for the umpteenth time.

Unfortunately for him, he was interrupted again before he could draw it back in anyway.

"Mime. . . Mime. . . ! Mime!" Mimey screeched as he flew into the room at lightning speed and straight at Ash, practically careening into the poor guy and sporting a strange expression brimming with both panic and aggression. "Mime, mime Mr. Mime!" he went on, flailing his arms about wildly as if to ensure he'd gotten the young man's attention.

"I think the call must be for you, Ash," his mom said with a soft smile, "Don't worry, it's not like you can't tell me what you were trying to say afterwards."

Ash's exasperation clearly evident on his face, he rose from his seat anyway and dodged Mimey's continued harassment so that he could go see who had called his mom's house just to reach him and what they wanted.

There was roughly two minutes of hurried and hushed discussion from the living room landline during which Delia decided she'd like to top off her tea so that it would be a little warmer and Mimey returned to whatever chore he'd been managing on the second floor, and when her son finally did amble back into the room, a new stunned look had appeared on his face, overtaking the expression he'd been wearing previously.

"Ash?" Delia asked but he ignored her, silently stepping around to claim his seat again and picking up his cell-phone, pressing the power-slash-lock key on the side and holding it until the screen flickered on and the OS started to load.

"Honey?" the woman pressed onward with concern, leaning forward and watching as the young man took his free hand and swept it anxiously from his chin to his mouth and up along his brow until it ruffled through his hair.

After his phone had finished loading, she watched from the distance between them as he continued to check whatever it was that had affected him so. And, finally, he relocked the device and dropped it haphazardly on the table with a shuddering sigh and drooped further down in his seat (if that were even possible).

"What's wrong?" his mom asked quizzically. He jumped and looked at her as if he hadn't noticed her before, which only hardened her resolve. There wasn't much out there that could put her son in such a shaken frame of mind after all. "For goodness sake, honey, what happened? Who was that on the phone?"

"I, um," the young man croaked but apparently had to stop right after to further collect himself, "I guess I should tell you. It's. . . going to affect you anyway."

Delia raised a sharp eyebrow but otherwise remained silent and let her son work out what he needed to say.

"Actually, I suppose I should start with what I'd intended to tell you today."

"What you'd. . . Oh, go on."

"Mom, I've been seeing someone for about a year. Uh, it's. . . it's Misty, if, uh. . . that's alright with you," the raven-haired champion attempted to explain and he watched as the woman's expression grew undecipherable under the myriad of emotions that this confession compelled from her.

"Oh, but that's. . . that's great! Ash, how could you be crazy enough to keep this from your mother?" she crooned after breaking into a grin, "Did you really think I wouldn't approve or something? Oh-ho, how could I not have noticed?" she finished emphatically as she felt the wheels turning in her own head.

Ash's private hide-away home, which sat off of Route Five, North of Saffron City. . . and just South of Cerulean. Ash claiming not that he hadn't had a home-cooked meal in so long, but that he hadn't had a good home-cooked meal. . . and Misty, who's cooking skills were so notoriously infamous that even Delia had heard the stories. And then, finally. . .

The undeniable, unshakeable faith Ash seemed to have in his relationship with his old friend, Misty, who the Ketchum matriarch had previously assumed he hadn't seen in at least a few years.

Honestly, Delia was currently so tickled pink she thought she might swoon.

"And you love her, don't you?" she begged of her son and waited for his bashful nod of affirmation before she let the tizzy tune in her head take her over completely. She felt so content at her son's confirmed sexuality that she had apparently forgotten that he wasn't finished speaking.

"But. . . uh, there's something else, mom."

"Oh, and what is that?" Though the woman was pretty sure nothing could top her elation at the thought of her son being in a serious relationship with a girl who came from a large family, which usually indicated the outcome of further offspring.

"Well, Myst was feeling a little under the weather a couple days ago so she went to see her doctor and she. . . she found out the results of the exam today." Ash paused as he drank in his mom's concerned gaze. "And it turns out she's pregnant."

Delia felt the time-bomb in her head take that statement as its opportunity to detonate. Eyes wide and hands trembling as she leaned over to pour herself another cup of tea, finishing off what was left in the kettle, she inhaled deeply to try and quell the knotting in her own heart.

"Pregnant," she repeated. It wasn't a question.

"Six weeks along, actually."

The two of them sat in stark silence, staring each other down with mutual stern expressions. Delia could see the fear and apprehension in her son's body language as he mourned this all-too-sudden change in his life. To buy time, she stood up and began to clear the table of the breakfast platters he had made vanish over the course of the past two hours.

She told herself that the reason for her shaking grip on her dishware as she lowered it all carefully into her sink was due to her concern that her little Ashy-boy might have trouble coping with and handling the news. Or else maybe it was because she was upset at her son for keeping his relationship with Misty from her for so long. . . or - as an over-protective mother - she was in disbelief over the fact that he had been having sex all along without (what Delia would consider to be) a long-term commitment.

But no, none of those explanations did it for her. She knew why her nerves were shot and she couldn't hold herself up on her own legs for much longer.

Jeezus, she was that excited?

Quickly rinsing everything off and leaving it all in the sink for a more thorough wash later, the woman turned and went back to the dining room table to join her comatose son. She couldn't abandon him now!

"Ash, honey, are you alright?"

He gave a half-hearted, disgruntled groan but otherwise made no inclination that he'd understood her attempts at communication.

"Do you need anything?" she prodded softly.

She got a non-committal shrug in return and then, roughly thirty seconds later, a more resolute shake of the head.

"Do you think you need to talk about what this means for the two of you?"

Another shake of the head. Followed by Ash ruffling a hand through his hair again as he tried to catch his breath. Then he spoke.

"I just need a few minutes to come t - to terms," he gulped anxiously, grabbing his phone again and unlocking it, staring blankly at his home-screen. It was then that the device chose to vibrate in his hands and he pressed the key that would open his text message inbox.

Whatever he saw made his mouth twitch into what looked like the beginnings of a smile but he soon bit his bottom lip again and dropped the phone back onto the table as recklessly as he had the previous time.

"Ash," Delia tried by means of a different approach, "I'm sure you'll make a wonderful father."

"No, I - I know that," he responded jumpily, "I think. But I don't really want to talk about this right now. I just. . . need a day to wrap my mind around it, maybe talk to Misty first before anyone else. No offense, mom," he added sharply, realizing it sounded like he was shutting her out. "Can we change the subject instead?"

"Oh, absolutely! I completely understand!" She would just have to make sure to stay in the loop from now on, she supposed.

Then, with as little tact as her own son possessed - (making it curious as to whether or not the trait really was hereditary) - she asked the only other question that mattered to her at the moment.

"So, honey, how do you feel about marriage?"

OoOoO

Notes - Yay, it's finally complete! Or is it. . . ? As I was finishing this up, I had been thinking about how the entire situation seemed one-sided. I kinda felt like I wanted to write Misty's reaction to everything that was happening on her end as well as her failed attempts to reach Ash and how frustrated and fearful it probably made her to go through two hours alone knowing what she did. I especially wanted to acknowledge what her last text message was to Ash since it seemed to reassure him, at least a little bit.

I'm not sure if I actually will write that but if you think it sounds interesting then let me know, eh?

On one final note, has anyone else noticed just how impossible it is to claim a Pokemon Master title in the anime? In the games, it's so easy; earn badges, beat Elite Four, become champion/Pokemon Master. But in the anime, since the omniverse includes all Leagues in one world (rather than one League per region and one region per game with no reference to any other regions in aforementioned games, minus GSC/HG/SS), there is no Elite Four in any region, and any League championship involves battling only other trainers who have obtained their eight badges. That being said, even if you get first place amongst your adversaries, you can't possibly be guaranteed the title of Pokemon Master when there are so many other Leagues out there with just as many other champion trainers!

Luckily, I decided I wanted to find a solution to this, which was partially introduced in the fic if you were reading carefully. I can explain it to anyone who's curious. Just let me know in your review if you'd like me to tell you more of what I decided would be a fair way of judging who makes the Pokemon Master title, and if you're an anonymous reviewer, remember to leave your email if you want me to get back to you! Other than that, I'll just remain content that I finally figured something out because, honestly, the whole thing has been bugging me for quite some time.

Btw, see? I'm not dead!