A/N: It's been a fair while since I posted anything, sorry about that! University has really gotten in the way of life recently and I really lost my muse. This is just a fluffy little one-shot that I had sitting in my documents for a while, and I figured I may as well share it :) I am working on a sequel to Do's and Don'ts too.. so hopefully will have that posted soon! But for now, I hope you enjoy this little one-shot!

"Happy birthday, little Sis!"

Those were the words Misty awoke to. A little grouchy and disorientated, the red-head groaned, and instead of responding to her eldest sister, merely turned over to face the wall, pulling her blue duvet over her head. Daisy rolled her eyes, sitting on the end of her little sister's bed.

"Like, come on, sis! You'll only ever have one seventeenth birthday!"

Misty scoffed, her voice muffled by the duvet. "Oh yeah, and it's so important that Lily and Violet aren't even here!"

Daisy smiled sympathetically. "I know, but they can't help their schedules. They send their love, and presents."

Misty slowly poked her head out from under the duvet, her red hair messed up slightly. "Presents?"

Daisy giggled. "Well, of course, silly! It's like, your birthday! Now come on!" she pulled back the quilt, earning a yell of disagreement from Misty. "Get out of bed and get ready. Delia's arranged a party for you at her house!"

Misty's sleepy expression instantly turned bright. "Really? Who'll be there?"

"Well," Daisy began, listing people off on her delicate, perfectly manicured fingers. "Me, like, duh, you, Delia, Professor Oak, Tracey… Gosh I can't wait to see him, it's been like, a whole three days…!"

"Daisy!" Misty snapped, noting her sister's absent expression.

"Oh yeah, like sorry, got distracted there," she giggled. Misty rolled her eyes. As much as she loved that her sister had settled down with a respectable guy like Tracey, even three years into their relationship she acted like a love-struck teenager, which was a little grating at times. "Gary'll be there too, oh and Brock! That's it I think."

Daisy didn't fail to notice her sister's smile drop.

"Well that's great!" Misty said, but Daisy could feel the forcefulness of her tone.

"I'm sorry, little sis. He called Delia the other day to say he can't make it. He really wanted to be though, and he says he's like, really sorry."

Misty nodded, avoiding her sister's gaze and focusing down at her feet.

"Well, guess I better get dressed," she said, forcing a smile. Daisy looked at her worriedly, but left the room anyway so she could change, hoping the party would perhaps make up for Ash's absence.

Daisy and Misty arrived at the Ketchum residence a few hours later. Misty pulled at her outfit subconsciously; Daisy had forced her into wearing a pretty, pale blue summer dress and matching pumps for the occasion, insisting dressing up might make her feel better. Granted, Misty did feel pretty, but she almost didn't feel like her, especially as her hair was hanging by her shoulders. Daisy was wearing a white summer dress, and her make-up was considerably less than it was a few years previous; Tracey preferred her more natural, and over time, Daisy did too. As the pair stood on the porch waiting for someone to answer the door, Misty looked round her surroundings of the quaint town. Being born in April, Misty fell into her favourite season around her birthday; Spring. The gorgeous pink blossom on the trees and the blooming flowers indicated new beginnings were upon the world. For Misty, that soon meant swimming outside again, one of her favourite activities. Misty smiled to herself, her gorgeous locks floating gently in the spring breeze; she couldn't wait for Summer, not only did it mean trips to the beach, but a certain raven-haired trainer would be home too…

Suddenly, she heard shuffling inside the house, causing her to drop out of her thoughts.


The door opened to reveal Brock, beaming happily at one of his two best friends. He embraced her in a tight hug, which she happily returned with a giggle.

"Happy birthday!" he said, as he pulled away. Misty grinned, genuinely, excited to be spending the day surrounded by those she considered as close as family.

"Misty!" came an excited feminine voice from inside the house. Moments later, Delia appeared, clad in her usual pink apron. "Happy birthday, sweetheart! You look gorgeous; more beautiful every time I see you!"

Misty flushed. "Thank you, Delia!"

Misty adored Delia, and the feeling was mutual; she practically saw Misty as a daughter (and prayed secretly that one day she would be, through marriage to a certain son of hers). With that, Delia ushered the girls into the house into the lounge. Professor Oak was on the far side of the couch, sipping a cup of tea, and greeted Misty by wishing her a happy birthday. Tracey was beside him, whose face lit up at the sight of his long-term girlfriend and stood to give her a kiss on the cheek, but not before giving his friend a hug. Gary was slouched on the arm chair, and raised his eyebrows at Misty, mildly surprised by her attire.

"Happy birthday, Red," he said, as she sat in the armchair opposite where he sat. She thanked him, giving him a genuine smile. The pair had actually become relatively close, much to Ash's dismay.

"So Misty, I'm guessing presents are first on the agenda?" Delia asked with a giggle and she sat in the seat Tracey originally occupied (he and Daisy were now snuggled up beside her, on the side closest to Gary, much to the latter's disgust).

"Well, if you insist," Misty laughed.

"Well, go right ahead," Delia grinned, gesturing to the pile of presents on the coffee table in front of the group. Misty beamed, carefully examining them before picking out a small rectangular present, wrapped very neatly in blue paper.

"That's from Professor Oak," Delia explained. Misty looked at the Professor in surprise.

"Oh Professor, you didn't need to get me anything!"

Professor Oak chuckled. "Oh, nonsense! I see you nearly as much as my own grandson, of course you need a gift!"

Misty smiled softly, but genuinely, thanking him as she ripped back the paper to reveal a book about Water Pokémon. "Oh wow, thanks Professor! I can't wait to read this!"

The Professor smiled back at her, holding his tea cup in mid-air as he spoke. "My pleasure, Misty."

"Uh, before we go on," Gary interrupted. "I did get you a present, but it's in the card. Don't want you thinking I'm a cheapskate," he said.

Misty smirked. "Perish the thought… You got me a pair of socks last year, and I'm pretty sure they were an old pair of yours."

"Yeah, yeah," Gary said, rolling his eyes. "I hope this year's makes up for that."

"I'm intrigued now," Misty said, furrowing her eyebrows at the brunette. She reached forward, grabbing the card with the sprawled handwriting she recognised as Gary's. Ripping it open, she quickly acknowledged the Psyduck card, with a very simple message scribbled inside. There was another piece of card within it, with an aeroplane on it.

"It's a travel voucher," Gary explained, seeing her bemused expression. "It means you can go visit Ashy-boy whenever you're free, no matter where he is."

For a second, Misty was speechless.

"G-Gary," she stammered, a little overtaken by emotion. "I can't accept this… It's so much money…"

Gary shrugged. "Don't be silly. I've known you seven years nearly and not once have I got you a proper present. Consider it as making up for lost time."

Misty stood up at that, walking over to him, and then enveloped him in a tight hug.

"Thank you," she whispered. Gary blushed a little, causing Brock to snicker. Misty returned to her seat and Delia turned to the young red-head.

"Speaking of Ash," Delia said as she handed Misty a large, rectangular shaped gift, the wistful smile playing on her lips that was ever present when she spoke of her son to Misty. "This is from him." Her smile grew as she noticed the curve in Misty's lips grow, and she excitedly took the gift from her.

"Ooh, great, I wonder what it is? Maybe something cool from Unova?" she pondered, as she ripped back the wrapping paper. Brock locked eyes with Delia, and the pair smirked at one another.

"Yeah, maybe," Brock said, feigning ignorance.

Misty pulled back the final piece of covering wrapping paper to reveal the right-hand corner of a photo frame. It was simple, and to the point, just like Ash. Just a plain black border covered it.

"Oh wow," Misty breathed. Ash had never sent her anything remotely sentimental before. Sure, he'd send gifts that resembled her perfectly, like the water drop necklace that hung round her neck at very moment, but nothing home-made. She ripped back the rest of the paper to see the full extent of the frame. It was fairly large, with many windows for photos. In the middle, in a circle, was a photo of herself and Ash sat on a log, by a campfire, their faces illuminated orange by the flames, smiling and chatting away, completely oblivious to the photograph being taken. Underneath to the right was a photo of them with Brock, during her visit to Hoenn, Togepi in her arms, and Pikachu perched on Ash's shoulder. It was a much less candid photo; it was posed for, and they were grinning happily. There were other photos too; one of them and his mother cooking a birthday cake for Brock, flour all over Ash's face and Misty scolding him, while Delia giggled in the background. She briefly remembered Pikachu taking that one. There were ones from the Orange Islands, such as the day of his victory in the Orange League. Misty noticed that the top left photo window was absent of a picture.

"There's a note," Brock explained, noticing her baffled expression. He leaned forward and flipped over the frame, to reveal a note stuck clumsily to the back, with messy handwriting on it stating 'Read me!'

Misty carefully removed the note from its place, taking care not to rip it. She unfolded the crumpled paper and began to read.

"Read it out loud!" Brock teased. Misty glared at him, but soon everyone else was begging her too as well. She sighed, but gave in, and began to read the letter out.

"Dear Mist," she started, causing Brock to giggle.

"Ash's pet name for her," he explained to the rest of the group. Misty glared at him, and he stopped.

"Dear Mist, happy seventeenth birthday! I can't believe you're seventeen already… That makes you sound really old," Misty scoffed. "That said, I'm seventeen in just over a month, so I guess I'm really old too." She smiled. "I'm sorry I can't be there to spend it with you, it really sucks. I mean, it's cool here in Unova and everything, very different to Kanto, but I'd still much rather spend the day just hanging out with you in Pallet."

The statement earned a collective 'aww' from the group, and Misty flushed, but couldn't hold back a slight smile. She quickly returned to reading in the hope to deter attention away from any hidden affection. "Anyway, I hope you like the present, and that it makes up for me not being there at least a little bit. I wasn't sure what to get you at first, but then I spoke to Brock and he helped me think something up. I asked him to email me all the old photos of our journeys together (man there were a LOT!) and I ended up spending several nights sat at the computer in the Pokémon Centre until the early hours of the morning just looking through them and feeling all nos..." Misty laughed out loud as the scrawled handwriting came to an abrupt stop, with several attempts of spelling following, all of which were scribbled out. The letter continued about a line later, when clearly, Ash had given up.

"Uh, damn what's that word? Oh never mind! Basically, I missed you and our journeys together. I think, no, I KNOW they were the best of my life. I picked out these few photos because they were my favourites. The campfire one in the middle is my absolute favourite, because it was one of few moments where you weren't yelling at me or hitting me with your mallet haha!" She paused and squinted, trying to read the next part, which was in tiny, scribbled writing. Brock leaned over her shoulder and then chuckled.

"It says, 'and you look really pretty.'"

The room erupted into a chorus of wolf-whistling and Misty felt her face burn. She bit her lip and ducked her head in the hope her hair would conceal her expression; she didn't want them to see how ecstatic she was. She continued with the letter, once everyone eventually settled down.

"You've probably noticed that there's a photo missing. Well, before I got the inspiration for this, I talked to Brock, and he told me that me going off to all these different regions with all these different people might make you feel replaced and forgotten. I want you to know that I will never, ever forget you, and you can never, ever be replaced; you're my best friend, Mist. Nothing will change that and…"
She paused, her hand flying to her mouth, her eyes sparkling with tears.

"You can't leave it there!" Daisy insisted. Everyone agreed, but Brock knew where the letter was going. He placed a reassuring hand on Misty's shoulder.

"Do you want me to read it?" he asked her softly. She shook her head, but smiled at him to thank him. She took a deep breath then continued, her voice shaky.

"The reason a photo is missing is to show you that our story isn't over yet; we still have more memories ahead and one day that gap will be filled with another photo (and then I'll have to buy you another frame, because we'll have even more after that haha!). I think of you every day, Mist, and secretly, sometimes I wish that the League would hurry up just so I can get back home and see you. I hope you hang this somewhere where you can see it a lot, so you're constantly reminded that one day, our paths will meet again and we'll be able to make more amazing memories. I keep your lure in my pocket, just so I can always feel a little part of you is always close to me. You may be miles away physically, but you're always close in my heart. Once again, happy birthday, Mist. Missing ya loads.

Lots of love,

(and Pikachu)'

The room was silent for a moment, and Misty blinked, allowing the build-up of tears to trinkle down her cheeks. Brock rubbed her shoulder reassuringly.

"He just wanted you to know he really cares about you," Brock explained. "He was really upset when I mentioned you've been feeling down about him being gone."

"Didn't know Ashy boy had it in him," Gary admitted. "That's pretty smooth. I'm actually quite impressed…"

Delia and Professor Oak smiled at the red-head, who was staring at the letter, completely dumbstruck. "The idiot," she murmured affectionately. "I'm gonna kill him when he gets back next month for making me cry in front of everyone."

Everyone smiled softly at her, and a moment of silence filled the room, until a voice said,

"You don't have to wait a month to kill me."

A/N: Originally, I wasn't going to stop it there, but it seemed like a fairly good place to end... People might be wondering why Ash suddenly appeared and didn't announce himself straight away, or if he just got there, etc etc. I have a few ideas but, in case I decide to make this a two-shot, I think I'll just leave it to your imagination for now :) I was toying with the idea of making it a two-shot, I'm not entirely sure though. Anyway, hope you enjoyed it ^^