We do not own Ash, Misty, Brock, Team Rocket, Pikachu and the other 150 Pokemon. Though we'd like to catch them all - except Jigglypuff because we'd kill the little fluffball after listening to _that_ song too much (if we could stay awake)! *Achem* Anyway, Pokemon belongs to it's owners, Japanese and otherwise - you know who you are.
This story takes place about eight years later than the current Pokemon TV series.
C & C welcome, but flames will be answered with a flamethrower from Charizard.
Comments to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Part Two: Rescue
Violet sat by the door of the Cerulean City gym and sighed. It was so unfair! How could Misty be so selfish and cruel, leaving her sisters to do all the work while she sulked? It wasn't as if that pokemon had been anything special or anything.
"Excuse me," said a deep voice from behind her.
"Yah?" Violet turned and froze. *Like, I don't believe it,* she thought. *Daisy told me that ALL fortune tellers talk about tall, handsome strangers. But here he is!!!* "Uh, like, hi!"
"Hello," the man moved into the gym and she craned up to look at his face. He had to be at least 6 feet tall with shaggy black hair. He was wearing a faded pair of jeans and a black t-shirt that framed his well-muscled form perfectly. Over this he wore a black leather jacket. A pikachu sat on his shoulder, staring at her. Her eyebrows crinkled as she took in the red and white cap on its head.
"Can I, like, help you?" she asked eagerly.
"I hope so, I'm looking for Misty." the man replied. He gently stretched his shoulders.
"Misty??!!!" Violet was shocked. Why would a guy like this want to talk to her baby sister?
The man cracked his knuckles gently. "Mmmm. Is she in? Where's her office?"
"Uh, like, she's not in her office right now." Violet pouted. "She's sulking in her room."
"Sulking?" the man seemed surprised. "Why?"
"Oh, she's been in a bad mood ever since Daisy and Fletcher got engaged."
"Is there, like, an echo in here? Yah, that's what I said. Anyway," Violet continued. "She's been totally stubborn since then, and now she, like, leaves us in the lurch in our hour of need!"
"I see," said the man. "Where can I find her?"
"Oh, just upstairs and past the barricade in the corridor. Her room's the one with the barbed wire across the doorway."
"BARBED WIRE???" the man looked shocked. "What the hell happened?"
"Oh, she's got this dumb idea that Daisy and Fletcher might have to sell some of her pokemon to raise the cash for their wedding."
"Really? I wonder where she got that idea from," said the man, now totally mystified.
"Well, it was probably when Daisy and Fletcher sold her Kingler three days ago."
"WHAT DID YOU SAY?????!!!!" the glass in the windows rattled at the force of the mans shout.
"PIKA!!!!!" added his pikachu.
"Owwww... what's the big deal?" Violet demanded rubbing at her ears.
"Past the barricade did you say?" the man asked, turning towards the stairs.
"Yah.. hey! Do you want to have lunch sometime?" Violet asked hopefully as he walked away.
"Huh? You want to have lunch with me?" the man seemed surprised.
"I sure do," said Violet with a giggle. "But I only date men who have names - so where's your introduction big guy?"
The man stared at her for a moment, then ran a hand through his hair. "Who me? I'm just a champion of the Pokemon League, the wandering traveller and now Kingler-less trainer - Pokemon Master Ash Ketchum!" Ash grinned viciously at Violet's shocked expression. "By the way, where's Fletcher now?"
"Uh... uh... uh..."
"Never mind, I'll find him myself..." and with this rather nasty promise, Ash walked up the stairs, leaving a dumbfounded Violet behind. As he ascended, she noted that embroidered on the back of his jacket was a Pikachu.
"I can't believe this," Ash said. "What's happened to this place Pikachu?"
"Pika-pi," replied his best friend. Ash had long since stopped thinking of Pikachu as his first and best pokemon and now considered him in the same grouping as Misty and Brock, his other two close friends. Now the duo stared around them as they walked up the stairs.
Ash had heard rumours - and more than a few nasty comments - about the state of the Cerulean City Gym, but he hadn't really believed them. Looking around at the decrepit gym, he began to see where the comments originated.
The gym was falling apart. Paint was flaking off the walls and from what Ash could see of the challenge arena through a window set into the corridor wall, it needed a lot of repairs - soon. The best-looking parts were the posters of past water performances, all lovingly framed in what looked like solid silver franes. Ash stared around him as he walked down the corridor. "It's even worse than I thought Pikachu," he said.
"Pika," said Pikachu, in total agreement with his friend.
"Yeah, I bet after all this time she really needs a holiday from - YIPE!!!" Ash stopped just before he walked into a huge wooden barrier in the middle of the corridor. "I thought she was just kidding about a barricade!"
Violet hadn't been. If anything, she'd understated it. A huge wooden barrier blocked the corridor.
"Misty... hey MIIIIISTY!!!!" Ash yelled. "Misty, it's me! ASH! MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSTYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!"
"Oh man," Ash groaned. "This is bad. VERY bad." He thought for a moment, and then pulled a pokeball from his jacket.
"Charmander, I choose you!" he shouted as he threw the ball.
"CHAR!!!!" Charmander appeared before the pair. "Charmander char!"
Ash knelt down to talk to the pokemon. "How you doing buddy? I need you to do me a favour, okay? Burn this thing down!"
"CHARRR!!!!" Charmander turned the full force of its flamethrower attack on the barricade and in seconds it was reduced to, well, ash.
"Thanks buddy. Charmander return!" Ash tucked the pokeball away and walked towards the door at the end of the corridor. It was indeed covered with barbed wire. It also had a note attached.
"Beware of the Gyarados." Ash read. "No need to tell ME twice. Pikachu!" he pointed to the door.
"Pika-pi!" Pikachu yelled in joyful agreement. He wanted to get Ash's friend out of this place too.
"Pika... CHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!" he cried, as electric power shot out of his cheeks and fried the door. It blasted inwards.
"Misty! It's Ash!" Ash yelled. "Keep that damn Gyarados away from me and I'll come in."
"Ash? ASH!!!" Misty hurled herself through the doorway and slammed into him. "ASH!!!" she paused. "Why the heck didn't you just knock?!!!" she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly.
"Er..." said Ash patting her on the back. "Pikachu was worried about you."
"Pikachu," said Pikachu. (Translation: Quit laying all the blame off on me.)
"Well I..." Misty looked up. "Ash?"
"Uh...." Ash looked down. "Misty?"
There was a long pause and then they both jumped apart.
"It's been a long time." said Misty, blushing. *When did he get so TALL? And muscular? And handsome! Eep!*
"Yeah, it has." said Ash, blushing. *She's so PRETTY!!!*
Pikachu stared at the duo. "Pika?" Then he shrugged. These two had always acted weird around one another. "Pika-pi!"
Misty, aware she was staring at Ash, looked down at Pikachu. She smiled and knelt down. "Hiya, Pikachu, how's it going?"
"Pikapika!" Pikachu leapt into her arms and Misty hugged him.
Ash swallowed against a lump in his throat as he looked down at his two friends. Misty was more than pretty, he decided, she was beautiful enough to rival her sisters. Her red hair was longer and tied back in a loose ponytail at the nape of her neck. She was wearing old jeans and a tight leotard-style blue top that hugged her slim figure. A choked sob stopped his staring and made him kneel quickly beside her.
Misty's face was hidden in Pikachu's fur. "Oh Ash..." she whispered. "I'm so sorry, they _sold_ your Kingler, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm..." she lifted her head and looked tearfully at him.
The sight of tears in Misty's green eyes made a red mist swim before Ash's sight.
"I heard." he said grimly, he reached out and put a hand on Misty's shoulder and squeezed it gently. "It _isn't_ your fault, Misty."
She wiped her eyes and placed her hand on Ash's. "Thanks Ash."
Ash pulled her to her feet and took Pikachu from her. He looked warily past her shoulder and into her room. "So... uh... do you have much stuff to take? Where _is_ your monster anyway?"
Misty gave a watery laugh. "Don't worry, they're all in their pokeballs. My room's too small for all my pokemon AND me!"
"I think you missed one." said Ash drily.
Misty whirled around. "PSYDUCK! YOU..." she shook herself and suddenly smiled. "... wonderful pokemon."
Ash's eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hair. "Okay, what's the medication you're on? I've _never_ heard you talk to Psyduck like that!"
Misty made a face at him. "Nyaa!" she patted Psyduck's head. "For your information, Mr Ketchum, Psyduck protected me the other day, from a very nasty situation!" she bit her lip as soon as the words were out of her mouth, she hadn't intended to let Ash know about _that_!
Ash frowned. "What _kind_ of 'situation'? he asked seriously.
Misty hesitated. "Well, ummm... y'see... Fletcher was being... obnoxious and... I couldn't... well, he was pinning me... well... Psyduck bit him."
"Reaaaaallllyyy?" Ash drawled pleasantly. He squatted down beside Psyduck and patted its head. "I knew you weren't such a dumb duck."
"Psy-duck???" Psyduck stared at the expression in Ash's eyes. "Psyduck!" he said in agreement of the thoughts flittering through Ash's head. "PSYIYIYIYI!!!"
"You know," said Ash slowly. "I'm starting to think I'll have to insist on meeting this Fletcher person."
"No Ash! You can't! He's much too big... too strong... you just can't!" said Misty. *Damn, there goes my prepared speech. But who would have guessed a boy could grow so much in three years?*
"Oh Misty-honey!" a voice carolled down the corridor to them. "I hear your... _friend_ has arrived."
Misty froze and turned in horror to see Fletcher approaching her down the corridor. "You... you..." Ash twitched but didn't move from his kneeling position beside Psyduck.
Misty regained some control. "What do YOU want?" she demanded.
Fletcher affected surprise. "Why, I wanted to meet your... little... _friend_. The famous Ash Ketchum, of Pallet Town. The three-times winner of the Pokemon League. Your little travelling companion of old. As the soon-to-be gym leader, I thought it only polite to make his acquaintance." He leered at Misty. "So where is he? Or have I missed him?"
"Not yet," replied Ash calmly.
Fletcher grinned in triumph down at the young man kneeling on the corridor floor. He took in the embroidered Pikachu, and the live one sitting growling on the floor.
"Nice jacket," he sneered.
"Thanks," said Ash. "I like it." He turned and stood up, and up... and up.
Misty gulped as Ash loomed over Fletcher. Fletcher gulped too and went white.
"Ash Ketchum???" he squeaked. "But you're just a kid..."
Ash did something that made the muscles in his arms bulge. "Everyone grows up. Some of us are late bloomers." He smiled down into Fletcher's face. "And some of us remain weeds forever."
"I've heard a lot about you 'Fletcher'." Somehow, Ash managed to make Fletcher rhyme with 'scum'. "Yes indeed, a LOT about you."
Teeth gleamed as Ash bared them at Fletcher. "And I don't LIKE what I hear. Not one little bit."
"Ah... Well, you know what Misty's like. Just like her sisters, prone to exageration and hysteria. Like all women." said Fletcher, backpedalling furiously.
"Ex-CUSE ME???!!!" shrieked Misty.
"See? There she goes again!" Fletcher grinned, regaining his balance.
"Hmmm..." said Ash. "We must be talking about a different Misty. The Misty I know was always calm and together." He crossed his fingers behind his back. Misty noticed this but kept silent - for now.
Ash clenched his left hand into a fist. "So, would you like to explain your actions and apologise to Misty?" he left the threat unspoken.
"Go ahead then, hit me if you dare." Fletcher sneered at him. "After all, a man who hit his own pokemon would do anything!"
Ash went white. "How did you know..." he whispered. "I didn't tell anybody but Professor Oak and Mis... YOU'VE BEEN READING MISTY'S MAIL!!!!"
Shock forgotten, Ash loomed over the other man as Fletcher stepped back in fear.
"How DARE you!" Ash roared. "I ought to rip you limb from limb!"
Fletcher cowered against the floor. Misty looked down on her tormentor. *I know I should stop this,* she thought. *But I just don't want to.*
Ash cracked his knuckles. "Misty, go and get your stuff," he said over his shoulder. "We'll be leaving in a minute."
Misty bit her lip. "Uh... okay." she went back into to her room.
Ash looked back at Fletcher who was trying to edge away from him.
"Y'know," said Ash. "I really dislike bullies. And you're the worst kind, taking advantage of Misty like that!"
Fletcher weighed up his advantages. Everything had gone so wrong! From what Daisy had told him and the pictures he'd seen of Ash had led him to expect a weedy boy who talked big but couldn't do anything about it. The 6 foot tall, lean and muscular young man in front of him was proof that old memories were _not_ to be relied on. Fletcher realised that he could not take Ash on right now, he'd be turned into one big bruise. No, the best thing to do now was... run.
"Hey!" Ash yelled as Fletcher scooted off. "Come BACK!"
Fletcher continued to run. Ash ground his teeth. "Fine!" he snapped. "Pikachu!"
"Thunderbolt - now!"
Pikachu's cheeks sparked. "Pika......CHUUUUU!!!!!!" he cried as he let fly a thunderbolt at Fletcher.
Fletcher had enough time to cry out before being struck. He was lifted off his feet and hurled against the wall, which broke, and dropped him into the battling arena.
"ASH!" Misty was behind him, she was holding a backpack and staring at him.
Ash grimaced. "Damn! That is _not_ what I wanted to do!" he sighed thinking that Misty was disapproving. "Sorry..."
"Are you kidding?!" Misty interrupted him. "That creep deserved it!"
"Oh MY GOD! Fletcher DARLING!" Daisy's screech echoed up to them.
Ash and Misty looked at each other in alarm.
"I think it's time to leave." said Ash.
Misty nodded vigourously. "Uh huh! I don't want to be around when Fletcher tells Daisy what happened. He's bound to twist the truth!"
"Is that all you're taking?" Ash asked indicating Misty's backpack.
"Yes." Misty smiled at him. "I sent all of my stuff on to your mother, three days ago."
Ash gave her a lopsided grin. "You were always good at being prepared." he said.
They moved quickly down the corridor, the panicked voices of Misty's sisters reaching their ears. In double quick time they were outside the Gym.
"Wait here." said Ash. "We can use your present to leave on."
Misty blinked. "Huh?" she murmured in an absent tone and looked back at the Gym, a worried frown on her face.
"Oh, Daisy, Lily, Violet..." she sighed sadly. "I don't hate you and I really don't want to leave my home in HIS hands, but I really don't what else I can do. I just hope you guys come to your senses...soon!"
"Misty!" Ash's voice caught her attention and she turned around to see him standing before her, one hand on a...bright, new, blue bike!
Ash grinned. "See? I _said_ I replace your bike one day!"
Misty's mouth trembled as tears threatened to spill. "Oh A-ash..." she quivered. "You didn't have to..." she sniffed and regained control of her emotions. "Geez! You're turning me into a fountain!"
Ash laughed. "Well, try it out! I'll get a bike from the hire shop around the corner and we can get out of here!"
Misty looked dubious. Ash was puzzled. He knew she was pleased about the bike, but why was she hesistating?
"Misty? What's wrong?"
Misty cleared her throat. "Well... ah... y'see, Ash, it has been a _while_ since I last rode a bike."
"I thought it was one of those things you never forgot."
"Well I don't want to kill myself trying to remember!" Misty snapped. "_You_ may be quite happy to risk your neck on crazy adventures, but I'd like to get to your mother's wedding in one piece!"
Ash's brows drew together, Misty's personality hadn't changed much, he decided, she still had a bossy attitude!
"Now, look..." he began.
The two looked down at Pikachu who was bouncing up and down and pointing towards the Gym entrance. Fletcher had slammed the door open and was coming towards them, his face twisted with fury, Misty's sisters, looking equally angry, were right behind him.
Misty went white. "Oh noooo..."
"Oh, well," Ash said. "If you won't ride this then..." he got on the bike. "...I will! Pikachu! Get in the front basket!"
"Pikachu!" Pikachu lept into the basket. Ash reached out and grabbed Misty's waist.
"What are you...?!" she cried as he lifted her up and placed her in front of him.
"Hold onto me!" Ash ordered and began to pedal.
Misty couldn't stop a small cry from escaping as the bike zoomed off. She was squashed against Ash's chest as he leaned slightly forward to move faster.
Fletcher screeched to a halt and looked after the retreating bike in fury. "DAMNIT!" he yelled.
Lily let out a little sigh. "Oh... Ash is carrying Misty off, how _romantic_!" her other sisters and Fletcher glared at her and she sweatdropped. "Er... hehheh..."
Ash braked the bike to a hard halt at the edge of Cerulean City. He looked back and grinned.
"That got rid of them!" he looked down at Misty. "Are you... uh... okay?"
Misty lifted her head from his chest and looked up at his face. She realised how _close_ they were, her arms clasped around him and his arms around her as he held the bike handles. A blush began to stain her cheeks and she covered her embarrassment by shoving Ash and crying out.
"Just _what_ did you think you were doing, Ash Ketchum??!! You scared the hell out of me!"
Ash was thrown off balance by her shove (and her yell). He slipped and fell, bringing the bike and Misty on top of him. Pikachu prudently leapt out of harms way and watched, with a mixture of alarm and resignation, as Misty jumped up and glared at Ash.
"Honestly!" she fumed. "You're such a show-off!"
Ash's eyes narrowed. He got to his feet. "Would you have rather I left you in the Gym?" he challenged crossly. "You're being very ungrateful, Misty!"
Misty opened her mouth and then shut it. She bit her lip. Ash was right, she _was_ being ungrateful, and it was silly to act up just because she was feeling embarrassed. Besides, this was _Ash_, her _friend_, nothing to get bothered about.
"Sorry, Ash," she said smiling at him and holding out her hand. "Pax?"
The clouds lifted from Ash's face and he took her hand. "Of course."
"Pikachu!" said Pikachu approvingly.
"So..." Misty adjusted her pack. "Did you have any idea of what route we'll be taking to Pallet? Are we going through Pewter City to collect Brock?"
Ash shook his head. "No, I called Brock before I got here and he told me that he and Joy will make their own way there. So I think we'll just take the route through Viridian Forest."
"And hopefully we won't get lost this time." said Misty wryly.
Ash flushed. "Hey, I was young then! My sense of direction is _much_ better!"
Two days later:
"Ash, this tree looks suspiciously familiar." Misty peered at the large beech tree in the dimming light.
Ash stared at his map in consternation. "The tour guide in Cerulean City said that this was the latest map of the forest and only an idiot couldn't follow it!"
There was a long pointed silence.
Ash tried not to grind his teeth in anger. "Alright, Misty," he gritted. "Say it, I'm sure you won't be happy unless you do."
"Say what?" Misty asked innocently.
"What you're thinking!" snapped Ash.
"How do you know what I'm thinking?" Misty asked in a maddening tone of voice.
"I KNOW!" Ash cried. Pikachu slunk back and looked pleadingly at Misty, begging her NOT to say anything provoking.
Misty smiled sweetly at Ash ignoring Pikachu's plea and the danger signs. "Then I don't _need_ to say anything do I?" she teased.
Ash stared at her, then he threw the map on the ground. "That's IT!" he yelled. "You've been _dying_ to catch me in the wrong these past couple of days! Are you happy to be proven right now?" he turned away from Misty and clenched his fists. "Does it make you happy, Misty?"
Misty blinked. She hadn't meant her teasing to go this far. "Ash, I..." she didn't get any further.
"I don't want to hear it!" Ash interrupted. "In fact, I really don't want to speak to you right now!" he began to stalk away.
Misty stared after him, her own temper rising. "I was going to apologise, you MORON!!!" she yelled after him. "But I sure won't NOW!!!"
Pikachu sent out two thunderbolts which hit both Ash and Misty, effectively silencing the bickering.
Ash rubbed a hand through his singed hair and sighed. "An effective tactic I suppose." he muttered. He looked over to Misty and blanched slightly.
"Misty!" he ran over to the red-head who was lying on the ground smoking slightly. "Damn! Are you alright?" he asked as she coughed and sat up.
Misty glared at him. "I've just been struck with a thunderbolt, what do you think?" she asked crossly, then her eyes widened. "Hey... why are _you_ okay?"
Ash grinned. "After travelling with Pikachu all these years I'm used to this!"
Misty made a disgusted sound. "Great!" she muttered. She got up and
brushed off the dirt. She paused and chuckled.
"Pikachu doesn't like arguments!"
Ash got up and looked curiously at her. Misty shot him an impish look. "Remember how he thundershocked all of us when I was trying to cheer you up after you lost that match against Richie?"
Ash blinked. "I wouldn't call telling me I'm a loser cheering me up!" he said as he remembered the incident.
Misty grimaced. "I was trying to help!"
"You call that _help_? Ash asked her incredulously.
"Pika Pi!!" Pikachu jumped between them and glared up at them.
Ash and Misty looked down at Pikachu and then at each other. Misty smiled slightly sheepishly. "Don't worry Pikachu," she hastened to reassure the little pokemon. "Ash and I were just having a... discussion."
Ash grinned. "Yeah, an _adult_ discussion!"
Misty's eyes sparkled. "On a refined and mature level!" she added.
"Of great intellectual content!"
Misty let out a strangled wail of laughter. "_Ash_!"
Pikachu shook his head. "Pikachu pika..."
The pretty brown-haired woman looked at the reflection of her brother in the mirror and put down her hairbrush with a sigh.
"_What_ do you want, Gary?" May Oak asked.
Gary pushed himself off the door frame which he had been leaning on and walked over to May.
"Have you done primping yourself?" he asked.
May glared. "For your information there are men in Pallet town who _appreciate_ the effort I put into my appearance!"
Gary favoured his elder sister with a sadonic smile. "Oooh yes, that's right, my sister's the Belle of Pallet Town! How could I have forgotten such a _wonderful_ achievement?"
May threw her comb at him, Gary easily ducked and laughed.
"Say what you have to say and get out!" May yelled.
"Only that another one of your admirers is coming back to Pallet." said Gary.
May was puzzled. "Who?"
"That little shrimp, Ash Ketchum. Grandfather just told me he was on his way to attend the... ugh... wedding, AND..." Gary grinned at her. "He's bringing the other bridesmaid."
"Ash?" May blinked. "I hardly remember him." she sniffed. "Why should I care about him?" she narrowed her eyes. "The bridesmaid is another matter, who is she and what does she look like?"
Gary simply shrugged and slipped out of his sister's room. He laughed as the door shook from a object thrown at it. He knew who the other bridesmaid was and the one bright point in this whole mess would be seeing May's chargin once she set her eyes on her. Oh, and getting the chance to get one over on Ash again. He took a pokeball from his belt and eyed it gleefully, yup, Ash was going to get a shock alright!
Misty frowned at Ash's map in the light cast by the firelight. *The tour guide lied to Ash!* she thought indignantly *This map is almost incomprehensible!*
She folded the map and put it away and looked over at Ash. He was in his sleeping bag, asleep, Pikachu beside him. A soft smile Misty was unaware of played across her lips. *He's changed so much, and not just physically, although that's pretty impressive! All that travelling...* Misty shook her head and blinked *What am I thinking? Ugh, tired, need sleep.*
She laid out her sleeping bag and took off her shoes. With a yawn she snuggled down and closed her eyes.
Sleep closed in on Misty, a pleasant blurry sense washed over her and she began to drift into oblivion.
Misty jerked awake and turned to look at Ash. He was flat on his back, making the loudest snores she'd ever heard.
"Funny how I could sleep through that all those years ago." Misty muttered to herself. "But then... his voice is deeper now!"
She got up and went over to Ash. Pikachu flicked an ear and opened one eye. Misty smiled at it. "I'm just putting Ash on his side so he stops snoring." she explained in a whisper. *Hopefully a different position will stop him!*
With effort Misty rolled Ash onto his side as gently as possible. Ash stopped snoring immediately. Misty smiled in satisfaction and went back to her own sleeping bag. She was just getting in when...
Misty grunted in annoyance and went back to Ash. He was on his back again. She turned him and watched him for a moment before heading back. Snuggling down again she tried to recapture sleep.
Misty swore under her breath and scrambled back up. Once again she had to turn Ash onto his side and he stopped snoring. Grumbling she stalked back to her sleeping bag.
")*%@$#$!!" Misty whipped around and saw Ash sitting up laughing at her. "ASH!" her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "How long have you been awake?" she demanded.
"Since the second time you rolled me over." Ash chuckled.
Misty stuck out her tongue. "Bleah!" and hopped into her sleeping bag, turning her back on him.
Ash laughed quietly for a little while longer before laying down again (on his side).
Ash surveyed the grassy spot in satisfaction. "This looks like a good place to stop for lunch." he said to Misty.
Misty agreed. "And there's a river," she said. "Good! I can give my pokemon some air."
Ash looked instantly wary. "_All_ your pokemon?" he asked nervously.
"Of course!" Misty looked puzzled. "Why would I only let out some?"
"Well... some of your pokemon are a bit... unpredictable."
Misty stared at him for a moment and then laughed as she realised why Ash was being so anxious. "It's Gabby, isn't it?"
Ash shuffled his feet. "Well..."
"Oh come ON, Ash! Gabby is _perfectly_ safe! I've trained him really well and I can't believe that you, a _great_ Pokemon Master, are scared of him!"
Ash flushed slightly. "Um... you have a point." he smiled at her. "Okay, let them out!"
"Thanks so much for your permission." said Misty dryly. She went over to the river and pulled out all her pokeballs. "Seadra! Horsea! Dewgong! Psyduck! Seaking! I chose you!"
The water pokemon all popped out and splashed happily into the river, with the exception of Psyduck who scrambled frantically for the bank. Misty rolled her eyes at Psyduck's behaviour but didn't comment. She waved Ash over. "Come on and meet Gabby properly."
Ash, still doubtful about the wisdom of this, came to stand beside her.
Misty drew out her last pokeball and threw it. "Gabby! I chose you!"
The large water pokemon with it's fierce face and long powerful body rose out of the water and looked down on the two humans. Misty cooed. "Hi, sweetie! Say hello to my friend, Ash!"
The Gyarados swung it's head and stared down at Ash who smiled nervously.
"GYAAA!!!" Gabby's eyes blazed and it lunged for Ash who yelped and leapt out of the way.
"GABBY!!!" Misty cried. "Stop that!"
"Misty call this crazy pokemon OFF!!!" yelled Ash as he and Pikachu ducked another mad lunge.
"Gabby return!" Misty held up the pokeball and Gabby was pulled back.
Ash lay on the grass panting. Misty looked stricken.
"Ash, I'm sorry, I guess Gabby's still holding a grudge about you capturing him."
"Really?" wheezed Ash. "Thank you _so_ much for letting me know."
"Perhaps if you got to know each other..." Misty looked at Gabby's pokeball.
"NO!" Ash leapt up and grabbed her wrist. "Don't you _dare_! Next time you call that thing out I am going to be FAR away."
Misty pouted slightly but nodded and put Gabby's pokeball away. "Sorry, Gabby, but you're upsetting Ash." she murmured.
Ash declined to comment and let out his pokemon for exercise before flinging himself onto the grass. He lay on his back with his hands under his head and stared at the blue sky.
Misty busied herself with pulling out some food from her pack - mostly nuts and fruit. After a while she glanced over at Ash who was munching on an apple.
"Y'know, Ash, you'll have to get used to Gabby if I work in your Gym." she said.
Ash swallowed his mouthful and frowned. "Yeah, I guess so." he said. He grinned at her. "Maybe you could be in charge of all the water pokemon and I won't come near that section!"
Misty looked disapproving. "I don't think so," she said. "A good Gym leader knows every inch of their gym and all the pokemon."
Ash sighed. "I know, I know," he said. "I was only joking."
"Hmmm..." Misty looked down and began to fiddle with the strap of her backpack. "Actually, I was thinking that, maybe, I could help you set up and then go back to Cerulean City. Then you wouldn't have to worry about Gabby."
Ash sat up straight and stared at her. "Go _back_ to Cerulean City?" he cried. "Are you _nuts_? After all the effort I went to getting you out?!"
Misty swallowed. "Well, it _is_ my home," she said defensively. "and I've been doing some thinking during this journey. I really left my sisters in the lurch by running out on them, they really can't pull the Gym out of the deep end by themselves..."
"Your sisters have been _using_ you!" Ash snapped. "Do you really want to go back to that kind of abuse? They don't deserve you! And what about Fletcher? Do you want to live under the same roof as that guy?"
Misty twisted the strap around her fingers. "No." she whispered.
"Well then!" Ash lay back down on the grass. "You can work at my Gym and I _will_ appreciate it!"
A small smile played over Misty's face. "Thanks, Ash."
Later - early evening:
Ash poked the fire and dampened it slightly so it would start to die down. He looked across at Misty who was clasping her knees to her chest and staring into space. She had been a bit abstracted since lunchtime and he wondered if their conversation was still praying on her mind.
"Dinner was great, Misty." he said in a conversational tone. "It's impressive that you get fish so well cooked over a campfire."
"Uh-huh." Misty continued to muse.
Ash looked at Pikachu who shrugged and muttered. "Pikapi pika." (I don't know what's up either)
He looked back over to Misty. She was looking at him, her cheeks slightly red in the dimming light.
"Ash, I don't want you to think that I don't appreciate you offering me a place in your Gym and helping me out of Cerulean City." said Misty softly.
"Because I _do_ appreciate all you've done, really. Even if at times I don't show it." Misty's blush deepened and she pulled out the horsea pendant that was around her neck. "Your letters and your gifts made life much more bearable these past few weeks. It was nice to know that you were... thinking about me."
Ash felt himself blushing and he rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "'S okay." he mumbled not meeting her eyes.
"It's _more_ than okay!" Misty insisted. "Your gifts showed me that alot of thought and lo... care... went into choosing them." she leaned over and touched Ash's arm. "So, thanks for everything, Ash Ketchum."
Ash looked down at the slim hand on his arm and then slowly he looked at Misty's face. Her eyes were large and glowed in the firelight. She was leaning forward, the blush still on her cheeks. Ash's heart began to do little flip-flops and he gulped. Several thoughts flashed through his mind, but despite the suggestions and impulses thrown up, Ash pulled his arm away and just smiled at Misty.
"W-we'd better have an early night," he said moving over to his sleeping bag. "We should reach the end of this forest and get into Pallet tomorrow."
Misty blinked and nodded. "R-right, an early night would be go." she said slightly flustered. She got into her sleeping bag and lay down. "Um... Good night, Ash."
Ash lay down. "Good night, Misty, Pikachu." He closed his eyes.
Misty turned her head and stared at him for a long time before drifting off into an uneasy sleep filled with questions.
To be continued.
Authors note: May Oak, Gary's sister, is mentioned once in the Pokemon
TV series (to our knowledge and we can't remember which episode - sorry!)
and it was established that Ash had a slight crush on her. Although Ash
mentions May is pretty, there is no indication about her personality, but
if she's Gary's sister... well, draw your own conclusions! (^_^)