Single By 30 @shinygrowlithe12
Chapter 10

Chapter 10

"Should I call my mom?" the man asks his wife as they stand in front of the living room window.

"Probably. We're too old to be traveling through blizzards." she disappointedly replies with her gaze still on the white snow storm outside.

They can't even make out the yard. All they see is white. The snow is thick and it came out of nowhere. After Misty closed up the gym today, the two were supposed to go to Pallet Town for Christmas tomorrow. No one expected a freak blizzard to hit the northern part of Kanto, which the couple didn't find out about until they opened the front door to leave. Deciding to wait out the storm, they watched it from the window, but it's getting late with no indication of letting up. Ash already told Delia they'd be running late.

After Gary's wedding weeks ago, Ash battled Tina where he easily won. A lifetime of training has allowed him to quickly get back into the groove of battling and training, even after this hiatus. Tina admires her uncle a lot more, causing Misty to feel guilty about the fake marriage. Delia also constantly gushes over the two, so this doesn't help with any of their guilt disappearing. Misty and Ash will celebrate New Years with Misty's side of the family since they're doing Christmas at Delia's.

Fortunately for Ash, Misty doesn't remember her drunk kiss on him. She can't remember anything after their slow dance. Ash has not and will not tell anyone, especially Misty about that kiss. It doesn't count because she was drunk. While his one rule was no kissing, he doesn't mind that kiss. Okay. He only minds it because Misty was drunk, but he knows he wouldn't care if a sober Misty kissed him. Ash has been trying to forget that kiss just because it makes him awkward around the oblivious woman.

Pulling out his pokenav, Ash calls his mother to tell her the bad news, and Pikachu scampers back to the gym to be with the gym Pokemon. Ash does let Delia know that they'll come to Pallet Town as soon as the storm lets up. Hopefully that's by the morning so that they can spend Christmas with her. Ash and Misty are also supposed to see the Oaks too. Because the Oaks went on a honeymoon after their wedding, and everyone has been busy, the couples haven't seen each other since the wedding.

Pocketing his pokenav, Ash finally looks at the cozy woman beside him. She's in a cream knit turtleneck sweater, black jeans, and fuzzy blue socks Tina had gotten her last christmas. Ash is wearing a black hoodie, sweatpants, and socks. He's just seeing his mother, so he doesn't feel the need to dress up. Misty likes leaving good impressions on Delia. Ash figures Misty will change into sweatpants now that they'll be sticking around.

He isn't going to make his Pokemon fly through this blizzard, which would freeze him and Misty to death. And Ash isn't going to make Misty drive in these icy conditions. No one can see anything less than a foot in front of them. "When do you think it'll stop?"

"Hopefully by tomorrow." Misty sighs. She was really looking forward to visiting the many people in Pallet Town.

"At least we know the reporters are giving us privacy."

She giggles and now faces him too where their eyes meet. "It is Friday night."

Ash grins. "And it's my turn to pick the movie!" He rushes over to the TV to put on Netflix as Misty closes the curtains.

After popping some popcorn, Misty plops down beside him who is still searching for a movie. The two have come to terms that they can both enjoy romcoms; thus, Ash is looking for one they haven't seen yet. "Last Christmas Eve, the power went out in half of Cerulean City." Misty tells him for the sake of making conversation. "So many people didn't have heat, so we had this massive sleepover in the gym. It's a good thing the Pokemon Center still had power, but the Pokemon Center can't hold everyone."

"Really?" Ash is very curious about this story. Of course, he didn't know about it because he avoids the news, and he was a recluse. "That's good the gym still had power."

MIsty nods as a smile appears on her lips from the remembrance of last year. "Yeah. Obviously, I locked the entrance to the living quarters, but I left the gym lobby doors unlocked for people to come in. At some point, I let the police handle intaking people because I went to help get the power back on."

"When did you get the power back?" Ash has forgotten about looking for a movie because he's invested in Misty's story.

"It took all day. The power went out in the early afternoon, and we got it back late that evening, so people could go back to their homes for the night." She looks into his expectant eyes. "But you wanna know the cool thing?" He nods. "The police already made the announcement that the power was back, so I expected most people to be gone by the time I got back here. But when I walked in, there were even more people than before I left."


Her smiles grows into a large bright one as she reminisces on last year's event. "I guess families had thought they'd be spending Christmas morning at the gym, so they brought their gifts. Even the local community centers brought their donated gifts to pass to families. Someone had brought a keyboard, others guitars. People were playing Christmas music on speakers. It looked like a large home."

"Did they spend the night?"

Misty nods. "Yeah. We had a huge celebration that night, and in the morning, everyone opened presents together. I know Cerulean City is nothing like the small town community feeling you have in Pallet Town, but last Christmas felt like a community. Everyone was together having a good time and helping one another." She lets out a nostalgic breath. "Because of the blackout, I couldn't leave to the Sketchits in Johto. I have obligations here, so I was pretty bummed about that. But with my city here celebrating Christmas together, I loved it."

When Misty turns her head, their eyes lock, and Ash's heart beats quicker. Those soft warm loving blue pools of hers constantly get more enticing everytime he sees them. "You should do that again."

"As much as I loved it, I would still prefer spending Christmas with my family." She can't tear her gaze away from those interested brown orbs.

Ash shrugs. "It doesn't have to be during Christmas, but it could be something else. You know? Like you can host a summer cookout and campout. People can sleep in the gym, and there's lots of space outside." All of Cerulean City can't fit in the gym, but there is plenty of land around for camping. Growing up in Pallet Town, everyone knows everything and everyone. It can get annoying, though the community feelings tops the annoyance; thus, Ash understands what Misty means about last Christmas's events.

She giggles, causing his smile to fall. What's so funny? "That's a lot of work. Will you help me?" They'll still be married this summer, so he'll have to be a part of it."

"Uh." Ash shyly rubs the back of his head, his gaze is now away from her. Although he's more talkative and goes outside, he's not quite ready for a large scale event like that.

"I'll keep this area locked again, so we can escape here for a break." Misty reassures Ash. She then shrugs. "But that's a nice idea. Maybe if I have time, I'll plan it."

"We should do it."

The woman curiously blinks at him. "Ash, you don't have-"

"I want to. I've met a lot of nice people here." Though he's met some rude ones too who don't think he should be with Misty. "I wanna show that I'm for this city too, Mist."

After the wedding photos were released, there were plenty of them with Ash and Misty in the background. The world had pointed out how in love Ash and Misty looked with each other. Despite not putting on a show at the wedding, Ash and Misty can see the love in their gazes. They both attribute the photos as them getting more comfortable and friendlier with each other. However, Misty is sure she's giving Ash that same look right now just hearing him want to help do something big for her. Something he isn't ready for, yet he is challenging himself to do.

Giving him a small smile, Misty says, "Okay. We'll work on that when we're free."

Ash puts on a movie, but he curiously asks, "What would you do if our power went out?"

"Sleep." That'd mean they can't watch a movie, and Misty can always get more shuteye.

"But the heat? I'd probably sleep next to Charizard."

Misty can't help but laugh hearing him talk about Pokemon. That is totally something the old Ash would say. All the old Ash could think about is Pokemon. Every day, Ash is starting to become more and more like himself. Pretty soon, people won't even believe that he was once a recluse for almost three years.

"What's so funny?" Ash hopes he didn't do anything embarrassing.

"To think, I'd miss hearing you be only focused on Pokemon." In the past, Misty always wanted to get Ash's head out of Pokemon, especially when she wanted him to notice her. Now, she wants him to be Pokemon-focused again.

Frowning slightly, Ash mutters, "I don't get how that's funny."

Still giggling, Misty explains, "It's ironic, and that's what makes it funny."

"Well, all you have ever talked about is romance. You're still the same." He pouts.

"I wasn't the one who did a complete 180 for almost three years."

Grumbling under his breath, Ash turns his attention to the TV. It's the first time Misty has teased him in years, so he's not ready for it. Nevertheless, he likes it. They're growing closer. How can he be mad about that. When Misty gets off the couch to go upstairs, Ash is disappointed. Is she going to sleep? Why didn't she say anything?

However, she soon returns, and he sees that she just changed out of her jeans into sweatpants. Misty also brought a blanket over from upstairs, which she now drapes on Ash. She then resumes sitting next to him, though she's a lot closer so that they both can fit under the blanket. "It's cold."

"We have heat."

"Yeah, and we have a planet we need to save. Aren't you the one who always saves the world?"

Chuckling, Ash pulls his arm near Misty up to reach around her for the popcorn bowl. "Fair enough."

Misty blushes feeling his arm behind her. It looks like they're a real couple cuddling in front of a movie. She can hear the faint thumping of his heart beat as well as the rapid one in her. Is his heart beating as quickly? Curious, Misty unconsciously moves her head closer to Ash's chest just as he grabs a piece of popcorn. Bringing his arm back to him, he accidentally nudges Misty's head because his eyes are still on the TV. This causes Misty to rest her head against his chest while Ash's arm drapes around her shoulders.

Neither adult moves despite the dark blushes on their faces. Now, Misty can definitely hear his rapidly beating heart. Or is it hers? Her heart is pounding so loud she can't hear anything else, and she's sure Ash can hear it. Mew. Misty shuts her eyes in embarrassment. She should've brought two blankets down, or she should have just moved the popcorn bowl between them. The reason she didn't move the popcorn bowl is because it'd have to sit on someone's lap, and Misty isn't comfortable reaching for Ash's lap or letting him reach towards hers.

Ash is mentally cursing himself for not just asking her to pass the bowl. He just had to get prideful from her teasing and decide not to talk to her. Now, they're in this compromising position, which he does not mind, but he should. Taking in a deep breath to hopefully level his nerves, which doesn't help, Ash finds his weak voice to whisper, "Sorry."

"It's okay." And still, no one moves.

Even though the movie is still playing, they are only paying attention to each other. All they can hear are rapidly beating hearts, making them unsure of whose is whose. Nevertheless, as Ash's arm relaxes around Misty, and her shoulders ease up with her head resting comfortably on his chest, the two bask in each other's warmth. Before they know it, they fall asleep. The movie and popcorn is forgotten.

Early in the morning, they are woken up to the blaring sound coming from their pokenavs. It's definitely not Misty's alarm because the noise is coming from Ash's pokenav too. The adults are frantically trying to find their pokenavs, which ends up with them not realizing they fell asleep in each other's arms. Misty is the first to find her pokenav, and Ash soon finds his after her.

Sitting on the couch, they both are trying to make sense of the city-wide text: Cerulean City Snow Emergency. Stay indoors until further notice.

"You should probably call your mom." Misty disappointedly sighs as she heads to the window. Peeking between around the curtain, she sees it is still snowing heavily. There seems to be a foot of snow on the ground. Misty is already dreading having to shovel.

When she backs up to return to the couch, her back hits something hard. "Damn." Misty snaps her attention up at the oblivious man standing way too close to her. He's also looking out the window with a frown. "My mom is gonna be so sad."

Blushing, Misty decides to direct her attention at the snow rather than the handsome man behind her. Ash trains very hard with his Pokemon every day. The last time Misty saw him, he was a skinny 18 year old boy. Now that he's an adult who works out regularly, he's becoming very attractive. As attractive as he once was in photos with his ex. "Did you call her yet?"

"It's 4am, Mist. I left her a text." He knowingly remarks.

"Right." Mew. She's so embarrassed. This man has her all flustered, but fortunately, he's too oblivious to notice.

Ash steps back and notices their movie has since ended. Of course, he has no idea what happened because he was too focused on Misty to pay attention, and then he fell asleep. He blushes remembering their position last night. Awkwardly rubbing the back of his head, he mumbles, "We should probably go back to sleep."

Misty shuts off the TV and sets the popcorn bowl on the table. "Or." She grins, her blush now cooled. "We open presents?" It is Christmas.

Chuckling, Ash approaches the energetic woman. How Misty can have energy early in the morning, Ash has no idea. She can always tackle a long day at the gym after waking up really early. Even though Ash wakes up with her, he feels like he's sleeping at the front desk for some time. Challengers also don't really show up at opening because that's such an early time, so Misty uses it to catch up on paperwork. Ash has suggested opening later, but then there's always that once in a blue moon challenger who shows up right at opening. Then, Misty tells him they can't open later because they might get these rare challengers.

"I like that idea."

At his words, Misty's eyes light up, and she runs to her bag to dig for it. Usually, Misty isn't this happy for Christmas, but she loves her gift for Ash, and she has been too anxious to wait. It's the first Christmas she's actually been excited for in a long time. Ash also headsto his bag to get his gift for Misty. They had packed their presents to each other, the Oaks, and Delia since they thought they'd be in Pallet Town today.

Ash didn't think Misty got him anything because she's always working. Thus, Ash doesn't know when Misty was able to get him a gift, though he did plan one for her. She's been nothing but patient and helpful with him. He was always going to give her something. That, and Pikachu reminding him to get Misty a gift.

As if on queue, they both grab their gifts at the same time. Standing by their bags by the front door, Ash sheepishly laughs and holds out his poorly wrapped green present. A pink tint appears on Misty's cheeks while she passes him her neatly wrapped gold present. "Thanks." Both shy adults practically whisper.

They sit on the couch, and Misty eagerly says, "Open yours first!" He studies the very neatly wrapped box as well as Misty's elegant handwriting on top. Shaking it, Ash tries to feel and hear what it could be. "Just open it already." The impatient woman commands, and Ash smiles playfully.

"Okay. Okay." He gently unwraps the paper because he doesn't want to ruin Misty's beautiful wrapping skills. This just further irritates Misty. Ash finally opens the box, and he freezes at the item inside.

Misty is practically on the edge of her seat. "Do you like it?" She hopes he does, but seeing his unreadable expression as he reaches into the box makes her nervous. Was he expecting something more? Ash isn't one to care about the price of an item. He's usually grateful for anything, though Misty can't tell how he's feeling.

Holding the red and white hat in his hands, Ash notices a small blue horizontal lightning bolt on the front. He adjusts the back to fit his head and then he wears it. Looking at the nervous woman, Ash gives her a shy smile. "How do I look?"

Mew. That warm smile is making her heart beat quicker. He looks very handsome, but she won't tell him that. Instead, she answers, "It fits you."

Ash's smile grows along with the increased beating of Misty's heart. "I love it. Thanks, Mist."

Shyly looking away, Misty nods. "Yeah. I got it because you know, everytime you go on a new journey, you get a new hat. And you're getting a lot better, so this feels like a new journey for you. And um. Yeah. I think you need a new hat...and I want that other hat back." She's referring to the hat he gave her after they traveled together nearly two decades ago.

Ash takes off the cap to look at it again, making his throat clam up. Misty always puts so much thought into everything. Despite how busy she is, she makes sure everyone who is important to her matters. It makes Ash feel guilty because he didn't let her know she mattered to him. They lost contact twice already because of him. Nevertheless, Misty is correct: this is a new journey for him to turn everything around. He's already made lots of progress from living at his mother's. Thus, Ash is sure he can maintain communication with Misty moving forward. After everything Misty has done for him, Ash really can't lose her again.

"I really really love it." The man repeats with glossy eyes. Ash then motions to the gift he got her. "Your turn."

Misty quietly unwraps his gift as he nervously watches. Unlike with her eagerness to see him open the gift, Ash is anxious about whether she'll like it or not. He's been getting better at making quick trips outside, though his Pokemon do keep the reporters away, and he wears headphones to ignore them. Luckily, he doesn't need to make too many trips out of the gym.

Pulling out a small flat box, Misty feels that there is jewelry inside. It's not a ring because the box is flat, so she assumes it's a necklace. Ash got her jewelry? Blushing even more, Misty gently removes the cover. She knows Ash doesn't have a job, so the gift can't be too expensive. Expensive gifts are something Gary Oak does. That's not Ash's thing, and Misty prefers it. She wants thought put into a gift.

Gasping, Misty gently touches that charm inside, and Ash fidgets nervously. "Um. I wanted to get you something nice, and I had some savings since I never really went out these past few years and um. I wanted to get you something to remind you of-"


Gulping, he watches her lift the item out of the box as a small grateful smile is on her lips. "I love it." How can she not? It's something from him. She loves anything he gives her because Ash always puts thought into everything. Bringing up her foot, Misty puts on the ankle bracelet. There is only one little charm on it, but that's all she needs.

"The lady at the store says you can add more charms." Ash just didn't have it in his budget to buy more than one.

Misty touches the Togepi charm, making her smile grow. "I love it just the way it is." There's no reason to add anything or change it just like how there's no reason to add anything or change Ash. Misty has never forced him to change himself. She's forced him to help around the gym, but she's never changed his character. Therefore, she views this gift the same way. She won't change it. Ever.

While Misty admires her ankle, Ash cleans up the wrapping paper. He is still wearing the cap she got him, and he doubts he'll ever take it off. Walking back into the living room, he's surprised to see her still looking at the bracelet. Seeing someone appreciate something he gave them always warms Ash's heart, but seeing Misty admire the gift causes his heartbeat to quicken. Shyly approaching her, he whispers, "We should probably go to sleep now."

Due to her focus, Misty is startled by his voice. "Yeah. It's still really early." The city-wide alert did say that it's supposed to storm late into the evening today. If that's the case, then Misty and Ash will just fly on Charizard to Pallet Town because the roads definitely won't be plowed in time for a car ride. Flying on Charizard is a lot more convenient because it's faster and the humans can relax for once. Well, Misty can relax.

Her gaze softens on the cap she got him. She's glad that he likes it. "Yeah. Good night?" Or would it be better to say morning?

Nodding, Ash heads for the stairs. "Night, Misty." They'll stick with night.

Soon, the two fall asleep in their respective bedrooms, content with how Christmas is going so far. Their plans for Pallet Town may have been ruined, but they at least are still enjoying their Christmas together. Later that day, when they get up at a normal time, Misty and Ash both gift Pikachu ketchup. Pikachu and Politoed prank their trainers into being under a mistletoe, which gets Ash thinking about that kiss during the night of Gary's wedding. Much to everyone's dismay, Ash and Misty just hug under the mistletoe because Ash's rule was 'no kissing.'

After a relaxing Christmas indoors making and drinking hot chocolate, finishing their movie from last night, and battling (where Misty beat him again), everyone is feeling even closer together. Because Misty won the battle, she told Ash he'll have to shovel the sidewalk by himself, though she's not cruel enough to make him shovel the whole driveway. The next day, the storm is done, so everyone flies on Charizard to Pallet Town.

A week later, Ash and Misty have been back at the gym since Misty needs to submit some files before the new year. Per the bet, Ash shoveled the driveway, but because Misty has been very busy, Ash also did the driveway with the help of the Pokemon. They were in Pallet Town for two days before coming back to Cerulean City for Misty to finish her work. Ever since they returned, Misty has locked herself in her office, much to everyone's dismay. At least the gym is allowed to be closed since it's still the holidays.

Knocking on the office door as he has lunch, Ash enters Misty's office. There are papers everywhere and she looks so flustered. He's offered to help, but Misty has told him there's nothing he can really do. He's glad he learned how to cook simple meals with her, else she'd have to cook for them too, like back when he was first here. "Lunch."

Misty gazes up from her computer. She hadn't heard him knock or come in at all, and she's stressed. "Thanks." Ash sets down her plate, but instead of eating, she resumes looking at her computer.

Sitting across from her, Ash digs into his meal. "You need to eat, Misty."

"Let me just finish this real quick." mutters the redhead, causing Ash to sigh. She said that yesterday, and her lunch was still untouched when he came by for dinner.

Ash tries to give her space to work, but he feels like he needs to stick by her to make her eat. He doesn't want her collapsing. "Misty." Not getting a response, Ash taps her arm.

"One sec." Misty growls. She's already stressed enough, and Ash is distracting her. If he does it again, she may blow up on him.

"You need to eat." Nothing. Annoyed, Ash clicks the button on her monitor, shutting off the screen but the computer itself is still on. This makes Misty glare at him, and Ash almost regrets his actions. Nevertheless, he's doing this for her well being, like when she'd wake him up before noon for his well being. "I'll leave you alone after you eat." Misty reaches for her monitor button, but Ash's reflexes are back to what they used to be. Thus, he grabs her wrist to stop her. "C'mon, Misty." comes the stern voice.

"Fine." Mew. Why is he so irritating? Since when did Ash Ketchum tell her what to do? She does find it pretty attractive. Feeling her cheeks heat up, Misty quickly starts digging into her food. Ash is learning, so it's not the greatest, though it is good.

Relieved to see her eating, Ash resumes with his food. It seems like these meals are the only times they are actually together, but usually, they don't talk. It'll just be him eating while Misty works. Ash feels like he hasn't spent time with Misty in days, and tomorrow is New Years Eve. Misty's family will be arriving tomorrow to have a New Years party here because Ash isn't quite ready to leave the region yet.

"When do you think you'll be done?"

"I might have to work tomorrow too." She tiredly responds. "Think you can handle my family for a couple of hours?"

"I'll just hide away with Tina or something." Ash hasn't seen Lily or Violet yet, so he isn't prepared for whatever questions they may have. Although he and Misty already went through the interrogations months ago, they haven't spoken to Lily or Violet yet. Misty has told Ash to prepare for her two middle sisters.

"That's probably the best option."

Every New Years Eve, Misty's sisters get piss drunk, but Daisy's pregnancy means there will only be two drunk sisters for Misty to watch. Plus, every year, Misty spends days finishing up end of the year paperwork for the League. She always makes it to her family an hour before midnight because New Bark Town is an hour behind the League. However, with this year's celebration being in Cerulean City, Misty won't be able to spend too much of New Years Eve with her family.

Due to her stress, Misty finishes eating before Ash even though he started eating before her. Disappointedly watching her get right back to work, Ash finishes his food and then grabs their plates to wash. He wishes there was more he could do to help Misty. She does so much for him. After washing the dishes, he goes back to the arena to train his Pokemon. Something else he likes about the gym being closed is that he can train inside and away from the media.

When Ash arrives in the arena, his Pokemon are already there from their lunch break. Pikachu notices the worried look on Ash's face. "Pikapi?"

Sighing, Ash greets his starter Pokemon. "Misty is stressed. I don't know what to do." He's already helped clean up a lot, though there's not much else.

"Pika pikachupi pika pikapi pi kachupi pipika."

"And what should I do exactly?" That's the whole reason he's even asking for Pikachu's input.

The mouse shrugs. "Pi pika?"

Ash rolls his eyes, and he spots Staryu nearby. Staryu has been with Misty for a long time. Politoed was her starter, but Ash doesn't trust Politoed to not trick him. Approaching the star, Ash inquires, "Hey, Staryu. What helps Misty relax?"

Staryu glances up at his trainer's fake mate. "Yu?" The star thinks for a while and then he also shrugs. "Star staryu star star?"

"Thanks." deadpans the man as Staryu swims away. Staryu gave him nothing. Well, Staryu just said that Misty likes to watch movies after a long day of work. Ash wants to do something different. Everyday Ash spends with Misty, he sees more and more what the Oaks have been saying about Misty being boring and not having fun. Ash wishes Misty would have more fun because she's too young to spend all of her days solely working.

"Charrrr!" Ash quickly looks across the arena to see Charizard impatiently calling to him. The man did promise his Pokemon that he'd seriously train with them again, so he needs to honor that. It's not like he has anything better to do since Misty is working. She may end up working late into the night again. Thus, Ash hurries over with Pikachu on his shoulder.

Really late into the night, Misty is still working diligently. Ash came by to make sure she ate dinner, and just like lunch, she was quickly back to work. Misty wants to get everything done soon so that she can spend some time with her family tomorrow, even if they will be here for a few days. Her eyelids are getting heavy, so she thinks about making some more coffee.

Surprisingly, a knock on the door actually gets her attention. Misty watches her husband walk inside. It's really late. He should be sleeping. "What are you doing up?"

"What about you?" Ash counters. Misty hasn't left that chair all day. Ash knows if he wasn't here, she'd most likely sleep in her office every night.

"Probably gonna be a long night." She'll use this distraction as a stretch break, so Misty stands up to extend her arms high above her head. "You should go to sleep."

"You should go to sleep."

She shoots him a glare. "I have things to do, Ash. You don't. And you'll have to be the host tomorrow, so you need to sleep."

"It's your gym. You have to be the host." counters Ash, adding to Misty's stress and annoyance.

"Just go." She doesn't want to yell at him, but she's close.

"Just go to sleep, Misty. We can do this tomorrow." Ash doubts Misty will get in trouble for missing a couple of things. She's a highly established gym leader who the League can't lose. Nevertheless, Misty likes to be on top of everything, which means meeting deadlines and keeping her gym to the highest standards. It also helps her not face too much punishment for all the League events she misses.

Fed up, Misty throws her hands in the air. "Leave, Ash! I have things to do."

"You need to sleep!"

"You can't tell me what to do! Just fucking go!"

Now Ash is also pissed, so he approaches the desk between them. "Oh. But you can tell me what to do? You've been ordering me around since I got here!"

"Because no normal human should be sleeping all day!"

"No normal human should be working all day and not sleeping!"

"I'm not a normal human! I'm a gym leader!"

"You're still a human!"

The furious woman's face is mere inches from his as they're both leaning over the desk. "And this is my life! Go worry about your own."

"You're such a hypocrite." He's just trying to be nice and help her out, but she's attacking him. How can she constantly make him do things, though she won't listen to him when he's also doing it for her benefit?

"I'm not the one who was depressed for three damn years. I've always had my life together, so I'm not gonna take any advice from you."

"Are you happy though?" He challenges. There's no way someone who only works can be happy. Even if her job doesn't always entail paperwork, Misty is still alone.

Furrowing her brows, Misty bites her bottom lip. Is she happy? Well, she's not sad. She's content with her life, and she likes her career. It's a lot of work, but all the hard work shows and pays off. "I like what I do."

"I didn't ask that." Of course Ash knows Misty loves being a gym leader. He's seen the passion in her every day.

"Just go." She sits back down to resume working.

Nevertheless, Ash steps around the desk so that he's back in her field of view on her side of the desk. "Answer the question."


"You owe me one question a day." He reminds her, causing Misty to let out a loud groan.

She glares into his concerned and annoyed eyes to say, "I'm not sad."

"But are you happy?" That was his question.

Misty contemplates her words. She could lie to him, but she doesn't want to do that. The two have never lied to each other. If they don't want to answer a question, they don't. It's why she's been trying to avoid answering this one. However, Ash just had to make it his question of the day. "No." She begrudgingly answers because she knows it means he's right. "Now leave."

Of course he doesn't leave, irking her more. Ash is thinking about how Misty must've been unhappy since she took over the gym. Obviously, she's had happy times, but being all alone here and doing the same constant routine of working must get exhausting. He was unhappy for three years, and that destroyed him. Misty has been doing this for nearly 2 decades.

"Wanna do something fun?"

"I have work."

Ash sighs. "I'm not leaving here without you, Misty."

"Then get comfortable." She resumes typing on her screen.

Shrugging, Ash mutters, "I told you so."

Before Misty can ask what he means by that, she is lifted from her chair and onto Ash's shoulder. Struggling in his hold makes her realize he's a lot stronger than that sad timid man she picked up at the League months ago. "Let me go, Ash!" Oh. He's so dead.

Amused, Ash walks out of the office with her. "Hey, look. I left, like you asked."

"I didn't wanna leave!"

"Too bad." Ash hurriedly walks into the living quarters and up the stairs as Misty continues trying to free herself. Since when did he get so strong? He walks into her master bathroom, and only then does he finally gently put Misty on the ground.

She hits him with her mallet, but Ash knows the pain is worth it. "Stop wasting my time!"

Ash is still blocking her way out of the bathroom, and he won't let her escape. Wincing as he rubs his head, he points behind her, causing the furious woman to follow his finger. Her anger instantly disappears to surprise at the sight of her filled tub, which Ash had filled with very hot water because he knew it'd take some time convincing Misty to come here. The water should be warm enough to enter now.

There are candles lit around the tub, pink flower petals laced along the top of the water, a bottle of wine, and a few other things for a nice spa night. "Take a break, Mist." Ash softly tells her, making Misty slowly turn her head back to face him. Seeing that she's not so angry anymore causes Ash to be really relieved.

She takes a step towards him, so now Ash is nervous again. Oh no. Is he going to get hit by her mallet again? He brings his hands up to guard his head as Misty wraps her arms around his torso in a hug. "Thanks, Ash." She breathes out gently. Yes. She's extremely stressed and overwhelmed, and she's still got a mountain of work to do. However, Ash planned this specifically for her. He's not romantic, so Misty assumes he looked this up online, but she'll take it. He did it for her. Why did Serena break up with such a sweet man?

With a light blush on her face, Misty pulls away from the frozen man. He wasn't expecting a hug, which is why his arms are still on his head. "Uh. Yeah." Ash awkwardly replies. He motions to the doorway behind him. "I'll just um get going."

"Wait." She stops him. "Don't I get to ask my question?" He asked his earlier.

Nodding with his back still with her, Ash says, "Go ahead."

"Are you happy?"

A small smile graces his lips because he had already thought about this when talking to her in the office. "Yeah. I wake up happy everyday… I missed being happy."

"Why are you happy?" Her heart beats quicker in anticipation of his response.

Ash's blush deepens. "I have my best friend back." That's a plus, though he knows there's more to his happiness than just having Misty back as his friend.

And now, Misty's heart can practically explode. "Good night, Ash."

Grateful to be leaving, Ash scurries out of the bathroom. "Night, Mist."

In his room, Ash lays on the bed and lets out a long breath. All he can think about is Misty enjoying the warm bath he set up for her. Nevertheless, he's trying not to think of a naked Misty because that's his friend! At least she is happy with the break. She deserves it when she does so much for him. When she does so much for everyone. Ash attempts to go to sleep because tomorrow will be a very busy day for him, though all he can seem to think about is the beautiful woman he's lucky enough to be married to. A fake marriage, but no one knows that.

"Get up."

Groaning, Ash opens his eyes because he knows only one person can wake him, especially at this hour. Seeing the tired redhead, he shuts his eyes again. "Five more minutes." Being up late to prepare Misty's bath and convince her to take it has him extremely tired. That and the fact that he'll be entertaining Misty's family without her.

Misty lets out a loud yawn. She was enjoying her bath a little too much last night, so she too didn't sleep until much later than Ash. She hasn't been getting much sleep at all this week. Sitting on his bed, she mutters, "The Sketchits will be here soon." Ash needs to prepare this room for her family, and he needs to move his stuff into her room. It needs to look like they're really married.

"Mhm." Ash is laying facedown on his bed. Pikachu spends most of his time in the gym with the rest of the Pokemon. Occasionally, he'll be in the living quarters, but he prefers being around the Pokemon.

Leaning back against his headboard, Misty tiredly says, "Lily and Violet should be here by noon. I'll have lunch with you guys."

"Kay." comes the barely audible response.

"Just let Tracey cook. He's good" yawn. "At it."


"Okay. Five minutes." Misty allows her body to fall onto the pillow beside Ash.

With no one setting an alarm, neither adult wakes up until the bed starts bouncing. "Why are you in here?" Misty instantly opens her eyes, noticing that she is trapped under a large tan arm that belongs to her husband makes her face flush.

"I know this used to be your room, but please tell me the sheets are clean." comes a disgusted voice from the doorway.

Wincing, Misty sees the Sketchit parents smugly smiling at her. The redhead closes her eyes to try and escape the embarrassment. Why is Ash still sleeping? Feeling Tina stop jumping on the bed, Misty mutters, "Wake up your uncle, Tina."

That's all the little girl needs to hear for her to pounce on Ash. "Let's battle, Uncle Ash!"

A flash makes Misty glare at Daisy who is sending a photo to their sister group chat Misty has since muted. The only time Misty looks at the chat is when someone tags her, which is rare because her sisters only talk to each other. Misty tries to remove herself from Ash's arm, despite how comfortable it is, but he wakes up just as she touches him.

Seeing the red hair causes Ash to blush. Five minutes is always a trap, yet he was so exhausted he went back to sleep. How was he supposed to know Misty would sleep right next to him? Ash quickly gets out of the bed and hides his flushed face. Is Misty awake? Does she know he was spooning her? Does she know she fell asleep in his bed? Yes. She can't get mad because it's his bed.

"Hey, Ash."

Shit. Ash peeks through his fingers as Misty sits up in the bed. "Hey, Daisy." He greets back the oldest Waterflower.

"What about me?" pouts a voice, so Ash looks back at his bed.

"Hey, Tina."

"Over here, Ash!" Tracey waves from behind Daisy in the doorway. With his blush intensifying, Ash waves back. Misty too can't even look at anyone, so she's sitting on the edge of the bed with her head in her hands.

"Why are you guys in here?" Daisy suspiciously asks.

"We fell asleep making the bed." Misty lies. She's surprised at how quickly she came up with that lie despite her fatigue and embarrassment.

Tina notices some more items in the room. "Is that your stuff, Uncle Ash?" These things were in Misty's room last time Tina was here.

"Uh. Yeah. I store my stuff here." He really hopes it's a believable lie. Wow. Ash is amazed by how quickly he and Misty lied. They're really getting good at this.

"Better take it out before Lily and Vi come. You know they always pack way more than needed." Daisy knowingly tells the couple. Even with Ash's stuff in the master bedroom, Misty and Ash will still have less than whatever Lily and Violet bring. Daisy used to pack a lot too, but Tracey has since managed the packing fiasco in Johto.

"Yeah. Thanks. Let us change the sheets again." Misty waves her family off. She really needs to change the locks already.

Smirking, Daisy leads Tracey out to the second biggest bedroom after the master bedroom. Daisy always uses the excuse that three people are sleeping in the same room so that Lily and Violet don't complain. In the past, the three older sisters used to argue with Misty about having the master bedroom, but Misty is the one living here full time. She deserves that room.

Tina excitedly jumps on the bed. "I wanna help!" How the girl can have so much energy after an early morning flight, Misty has no idea.

"I'll change the sheets. Can you help Ash move his stuff into my room?"

The girl nods and grabs Ash's hand. "Let's go, Uncle Ash!" Ash is still waking up, and trying to get over his embarrassment. Regardless of how long he and Misty have been together, and how many times they've slept together like this, Ash still can't get used to it. He is glad that a certain body part stayed down or this would be more embarrassing.

After breakfast, Misty returns to the gym office, the Sketchit parents take a nap, and Ash is left on babysitting duty. He and Tina battle where Ash beats her using less Pokemon than he did before. Tina can tell her uncle is a very strong and capable trainer, like her father had once told her. Seeing Ash's improvement in only a few months means he's always had this knack for battling. This is the kind of man Tina can see marrying her aunt, so Tina is glad she didn't force them apart when she first battled Ash.

As Tina is scratching Pikachu behind the ears, Ash walks over from putting the Pokemon back in their resting area. "What do you wanna do now?" He is definitely less timid and more talkative than when she met him. Ash also likes interacting with her, which is always fun for the girl.

Thinking to herself, Tina places a finger on her chin. Pikachu and Ash curiously watch her. "Can we build a snowman?"

"Pi pikachu!" Pikachu points to himself in excitement.

Giggling, Tina nods. "And a snow Pikachu?"

Ash hasn't played in the snow in years, and he doesn't want to think about the last time he did. It's time to make new memories to block out the old painful ones, so he smiles. "Yeah. Let's put on our coats."

Once in the backyard, Tina holds out a little snowball she made. "Daddy says we make a snowball, and then we roll it in the snow, like this." She shows Ash how to make the snowball bigger, something he already knows about. Nevertheless, he'll let the little girl show him this. Tina loves teaching others. Pikachu makes his own little ball to start pushing. Even Totodile is outside with Psyduck and Politoed.

Following the girl's lead, Ash rolls his snowball. "I'll make the bottom, and you make the top, okay?"

Tina nods. "Yeah. And Pikachu will make his own little Pikachu!"

"Pika!" nods the eagar mouse. Whenever Tina visits, Pikachu has the most fun because the little girl gives him lots of attention. All the Pokemon love Tina. Pikachu can see why Misty's Pokemon will always try their best to win a battle for Tina.

"Let's make him really really big! Bigger than you, Uncle Ash!"

Chuckling, Ash watches the many Pokemon and the girl with smiles on their faces playing in the snow. To think, his past two winters he hid indoors. Ash doesn't think he can be any more happier than just this simple time he's spending with those he cares about. "Let's make him bigger than a Gigamax Pikachu!"

"Pi?" Pikachu's eyes open wide at the feat.

"Yeah!" Tina high fives Ash and then resumes rolling her snowball.

An hour later, Tracey is making lunch, and Daisy is talking to Lily and Violet who are unpacking upstairs. Everyone is only here for three days, but they always overpack. "Where's our new brother-in-law?" Lily jokingly yells into the hallway where Daisy is because that's the best place for Daisy to speak to both of her sisters who are in different rooms.

"I saw him an hour ago with Tina. They said they were going to build a snowman." Daisy now realizes she hasn't looked for her daughter. Tina coming in the room looking for snowpants is what woke up the Sketchit parents, and Lily and Violet arrived soon after. Daisy hasn't had a chance to check on Tina who Daisy knows is safely with Ash.

"Aw. That's cute. Is he a good uncle?" Violet recalls her many calls with Tina telling her how excited she is to have an uncle. Apparently, Tina didn't like Ash at first, but the girl liked him a lot by the end of her trip. Tina loves talking to her aunts, so Lily and Violet have heard the story many times.

Ash has only greeted them over the videophone a few times. Lily and Violet will use this face to face meeting to finally get to know Ash and his intentions. As much as they trust Misty, and they know she used to have that crush on Ash, Ash's history is what concerns Lily and Violet. He's ghosted Misty twice already, and he was a complete recluse years before she came back into his life. Like Tina initially did, Lily and Violet will be watching Ash closely. Misty is their little sister. Although they tease her relentlessly, they won't let anyone hurt her, especially Ash again. Daisy has tried explaining that Ash is okay, but Lily and Violet will see for themselves.

Therefore, when they finish packing, they're in the kitchen as Tracey is finishing up. "Smells good, Tracey." Lily wafts in the scent of the food.

Gratefully smiling at her, Tracey says, "Food should be ready soon. You guys wanna get Misty?"

"Is she still working? Mew. Like family time." Violet knowingly remarks. Misty does this every year. The Sensational Sisters think she needs to lighten up, but Misty never listens to them.

"We'll get Misty later. I wanna see my favorite niece!" Lily grins in excitement. Everyone can't wait for the next baby Sketchit. Daisy does have a small baby bump.

Tracey motions to the backdoor. "They're still building a snowman." Cerulean City got record breaking snow this week, partly due to the Christmas blizzard. Tina has never seen so much snow before, so she wants to use all of it to make a huge snowman. Tracey is surprised at how long everyone is still outside invested in this project. He's peeked through the window a few times.

The women walk towards the kitchen window where they see Ash and Tina pushing a very large snowball. Most of the Pokemon are working on their own little snow Pokemon, but Pikachu is assisting Ash and Tina. The snowball is too heavy to push further, causing the three to slip to the ground. With Pikachu between them, they all look at each other and laugh.

"Doesn't that make your ovaries ovulate?" Violet sighs. She loves it when men are good with kids.

Daisy rolls her eyes. "That's Misty's man, Vi."

"I know, but she should be flattered. I did tell you Tracey was attractive."

"That was after he changed the lightbulb." Daisy reminds her.

"Yeah. A man who can cook and fix things. Remember when he unclogged the pipes?"

Hearing them, Tracey's face turns a dark shade of red. "Um. I'm right here." He reminds the women who are always in their own world when they're together.

"He is good at unclogging pipes." Daisy suggestively agrees, causing Tracey to sink to the floor in embarrassment.

"We should show Misty!" Lily claps her hands together. Daisy did say Misty usually works and leaves Ash on Tina-duty. Misty must've never seen Tina and Ash interacting like this. Maybe it'll make Misty have a baby too?

"Oh my Mew, great idea, Lil! Let's go!" Violet and Lily run off in the direction of the gym, leaving the Sketchits in the kitchen.

Noticing her missing husband, Daisy peers around the island to see Tracey is still blushing a beat red. "What are you doing on the ground, babe?"

In the office, Misty is getting a lot done. Even though she started late today, she's moving fast. Maybe it's the relaxing bath from yesterday? Ash had added bathsalts to help calm her too. Blushing as she recalls their morning and his sweetness, Misty rests her forehead on her desk to groan loudly. Who is she kidding? If 10 year old Misty knew it, then 30 year old Misty definitely knows that Ash Ketchum has her heart again.

When did it start? Mew. She has no idea. No. Stop it, Misty! She knows these feelings were never really gone. Buried deep enough where she forgot about them, yes. But completely gone, no. Love doesn't come and go, and it sucks that she has to fall in love with this dense idiot. This man who is in a fake marriage with her, which will be ending in under a year. Every day is an adventure with Ash, despite them doing the same routine thing. As long as she's with him, she's enjoying herself. Plus, Misty loves the attention and care she gets from him since they're the only people ever around.

Her office door slamming open makes Misty abruptly sit up. There are only four people who don't knock, and they're all the females in this family who aren't her. Mist gives her two sisters an annoyed look as Violet exclaims, "Lunch time, Misty!"

The two run to Misty so they can drag her out of her chair. "Give me a couple minutes." She wants to finish this task.

"That means we're not gonna see you until midnight." Violet knowingly replies.

Misty pulls her arms free from her sisters. "Some of us have real jobs with real responsibilities."

Lily rolls her eyes. "This is the first time we've seen you in like a year and this is how you treat us?"

"I will hang out with you later, and I'll come by for lunch in a bit." sweatdrops the redhead.

"But we need your help." Violet pouts.

"Ask Tracey." Misty is very happy Daisy and Tracey got married. Her sisters are such dunces that Misty can keep sane by having conversations with Tracey. Also, Tracey is responsible and helps out a lot, unlike the Sensational Sisters. Tracey marrying into this family has been such a life saver. Moreover, Tracey knows Ash, so Tracey helped Misty a lot through her heartache.

"He's busy cooking. C'mon, sis!" Lily pleads.

Sighing in defeat, Misty raises her hands up. "Fine, but if it's stupid, you can't bother me the rest of the day." She already knows her sisters will be constantly trying to get her out of the office. What's the point? They never talk to her anyway, though they always want her with them.

Lily hugs Misty tightly, the first hug between the two in a year. "Thanks, Misty!"

Violet joins the hug too. "Yeah! You're so rad, Misty!"

Regardless of how annoying her sisters are, Misty loves them. Thus, she wraps her arms around them too. "Show me what you need help with."

When they're in the kitchen, Misty spots Tracey setting the table and Daisy sitting on a stool. Nothing looks broken, so what do Lily and Violet need? The two older sisters haven't said a word except for their plans today. Misty can never speak when multiple Sensational Sisters are around because all they do is chatter.

"What do you need help with?" exasperates the annoyed redhead.

"Hello to you too, Misty." Daisy sarcastically says, further irritating Misty.

Lily and Violet walk to the large kitchen window with Misty following. "Give us another niece or nephew." Violet finally answers, causing Misty to blush profusely.

"What?" Where did this come from?

Daisy walks up behind Misty to turn the gym leader's head out towards the window where Misty is met by the blinding white snow. Being in her office, she hasn't seen daylight in days. Once her eyes adjust, Misty's gaze softens on the scene. Ash has Tina on his shoulders for her to place rocks as eyes on their large snowman. The tired Lucario nearby indicates to Misty that Lucario placed these large snowballs on top of each other.

Ash is looking up at Tina to help position her in place. From the angle, the Waterflower sisters can see large bright smiles on Ash and Tina's faces while Tina is giggling uncontrollably. Misty has always known Ash is great with kids. Tina loves him, and Ash looks forward to seeing Tina. It makes Misty's heart ache because Tina will be very hurt when she finds out this is a fake marriage. Misty doesn't want to think about not having this wonderful man in her life anymore; thus, she decides to focus on the present.

"Are your ovaries tingle?" Violet asks, which makes Misty blush.

"We're not having a kid." Misty groans. Ash would definitely make a great father, but he already told Misty his stance on parenthood. He wants no children. She's still curious about his reasoning because Ash loves kids. He's great with them.

"But look at Ash!" Lily pressures. "He wants a kid." The bond between Ash and Tina shows them all that he loves kids. Actually, he doesn't, but Misty won't go into details about that.

"Lunch is ready." Tracey comes to Misty's rescue.

She gratefully mouths a "Thank you" to him. Trying to escape her sisters, Misty grabs a nearby hoodie. Her coat is hanging on the coat rack in the front, but Misty just wants to get out now. "I'll get them." Fortunately, she has boots at the front and the back.

"Ah. Young love." Lily breathes out.

"You're only two years older than her." Daisy points out.

"Misty is still a kid." Lily counters, though all three, and now Tracey, watch the scene outside.

"He's taller than you and me and Pikachu!" giggles the girl with Pikachu balancing on her head.

"Piiii…" Pikachu just wants to come down to safety now.

"Lunch time." comes a familiar voice, making everyone face the back door.

"Pikachupi!" Pikachu is very happy that Misty came to his rescue, so he jumps to the ground and runs into her arms. She's in Ash's hoodie. It smells just like him, further intensifying her blush. She'll blame her red cheeks on the cold.

Ash is frozen, stunned by her wearing his clothes. Something about her in his clothes always gets to him, like it's his favorite thing on her. While Misty is focused on greeting Pikachu, and Ash is staring at Misty, Tina, who is still on Ash's shoulders, exclaims, "Look at our snowman, Auntie Misty! He's big!"

Misty looks up from her conversation with Pikachu to smile at the girl. "Wow. He's really big. Did the Pokemon help you?"

"Uh huh! And Uncle Ash!" Tina is very proud of her snowman. It's the biggest one she's ever made. "Come see it! It's taller than you!"

"I'm sure it is." Misty stands on the back patio. She'd rather stay out of the snow.

Pouting, Tina yells, "But I wanna see!" Her aunt is very tall. Tina wants to compare.

Sighing, Misty approaches the snowman. The things she does for this little girl. It's why Misty understands how Tina has Ash wrapped around her finger. Ash's eyes still haven't moved from the woman who is now beside him. "See. Your snowman is taller than me too."

"Yes!" Tina fist pumps in the air, causing her to lose her balance.

"Ash!" Misty shouts, breaking Ash out of his trance. Misty tiptoes to grab Tina's shoulders as Ash leans forward for her to stop falling backwards.

Still laughing, despite the real danger, Tina happily tells them, "Again!"

Letting out relieved breaths, the adults now realize that their faces are mere inches from each other. Ash doesn't want to make any sudden movements in case Tina falls, and Misty can't remove her protective hands from Tina's shoulders. Thus, the adults are just staring into each other's eyes while they blush profusely.

"It's time for lunch, Tina." Misty breaks the gaze first after forcing herself away. Ash's intrigued brown eyes are too dangerous, but Misty can hold herself off for now. She helps Tina off of Ash's shoulders, and Ash stretches himself out.

Seeing Misty slightly shiver, Ash grabs the hood of her hoodie to place over her head. She curiously looks at him. "Why are you out here without a coat?"

Smirking, Misty replies, "Are you in dad-mode or something?"

Ash shyly glances at Tina. He hands her some pokeballs. "Can you get everyone inside?" Tina nods and runs off to return all the Pokemon except for Pikachu who is riding on her head. The man then faces his wife with a small smile. "I just care about my wife's health."

"Good thing I'm wearing my husband's hoodie."

"Yeah. That's a good thing." Ash chuckles as his heart continues to pound.

Misty looks around the yard where she notices all of the snow Pokemon too. "You guys were busy."

"Yeah. I don't ever wanna see snow again." He sheepishly rubs the back of his head. Giggling, Misty makes a snowball using her bare hands. Ash furrows his brows at her. "C'mon, Misty. You're not dressed to be out here." She's already overworking herself and not eating much. He doesn't need her catching a cold and being sick for who knows how long.

Instead of getting compliance, he's greeted by a cold wet smack in the face when Misty turns back to face him. "Gotcha!"

Ash brushes the snow off of his face to give her a very unamused look. "No fair. You're not in a coat." He can't throw snow at someone not dressed for the occasion.

"Guess I win then." Misty sticks her tongue out at him.

Okay. Ash Ketchum is not letting her win that easily. She may be able to beat him in Pokemon battles, but he has to win something. Thus, he takes off his coat as Misty curiously watches him. He has a hoodie on underneath, and he swings his coat over Misty's shoulders. "If you wanna battle, you keep the coat." He has snowpants, so it's fair.

Misty's smirk returns to her face while she slips on his coat. Using his long sleeves as gloves, she bends over to make a snowball. "Oh. You're gonna regret giving me armor, Ash Ketchum."

Ash gives her his own smirk while he makes a snowball. "You're the one who will regret starting this."

"Splat!" Ash gets hit in the side of his face. Face shots are cheating, but he'll let her have them, so he hits her in the side

"I felt nothing." boasts the woman.

Annoyed that his snowballs can't penetrate the thick coat, Ash tackles Misty into the tall snow once her next snowball hits his chest. "Did you feel that?"

Misty tosses snow at him, but he's too busy throwing snow on her too. The two are engaged in a snow wrestling match as they're laughing uncontrollably. A hard thunk on Ash's back gets him to stop where he curiously peeks over his shoulder to see Tina holding a snowball. "I wanna play!" Ash and Misty look back at each over and grin. Soon, the three along with Pikachu are engaged in an all out snow fight outside.

"Someone should get them." Violet mutters. She's hungry from their trip and wants to eat already.

"But this is so cute. Have you ever seen Misty so happy?" Lily gushes. Tina, Ash, and Misty really look like such a happy family outside. Lily is glad Misty and Ash are married. They seem to really complete each other, and there's so much love between them.

Leaning into Tracey's chest, Daisy nods. "Let's give them 5 minutes." That's also enough time before Misty's fingers get too cold, or Ash in his hoodie gets cold too. "Our baby sister isn't a baby anymore."

After Tracey gets the three to come inside, Ash and Misty change out of their cold wet clothes. Misty just needed to change her sweatpants while Ash changed his hoodie. Thus, Misty is still wearing one of his hoodies, and Ash really doesn't mind. He'd prefer if she wore his clothing more often. Right now, he's trying his best to avoid ogling over her in front of her family. Tina has been talking nonstop about her huge snowman and winning the snowball fight.

"So…" Violet innocently smiles at the young couple, causing Ash to nervously gulp. "Do you guys have any big plans? A wedding? Honeymoon? Baby?"

The targeted couple blushes. "We're busy." Misty tells them.

"Yeah, but the gym is chill in the summer. You guys are married. Like do something fun for once." Lily knowingly remarks.

To Misty's surprise, Ash actually chimes in. He's never done that the past couple times they were being interrogated. Granted, this is months since the last time they were questioned, and Ash is doing a lot better. He's almost back to his old self. "We like living day by day. It's an adventure."

"That's cute and all, but c'mon." pushes Daisy.

Misty shrugs. "We've been too busy to plan anything, but we'll let you know if something happens." There won't be any of those three options Violet listed because this time next year, Ash and Misty will be divorced.

While Misty's heart is aching from that reminder, she feels a light poke on her thigh coming in the direction of her husband. Subtly glancing at her thigh so that no one can notice, Misty sees Ash's pinky tapping it, making her feel warm inside. He does this whenever he wants her to know that he supports her. At first, he would tap her because he was too timid to touch her, but he wanted a silent way to reach her while they were being questioned. He did it when he met Leaf because he didn't want Gary and Leaf noticing the PDA. It's Ash's little thing he does, and Misty likes that it's something just between them.

"Are you done traveling, Ash?"

Tracey's question causes Misty to look up at him. Ash's attention has been on his food, so he too meets Tracey's eyes. "Don't know."

"Are you just gonna keep helping Misty at the gym?" The Ash Ketchum Tracey knows is restless. He's always calling for adventure.

Trying not to look at Misty, Ash shrugs. "Don't know."

"What does that mean?" Violet skeptically asks.

Misty answers for him, "Ash is still working on himself, so what he wants changes as he changes. We don't know what he'll be doing this time next year." Though he definitely won't be married to her.

"Well, I'm glad you're getting better, Ash. You already look a lot better than you did on the news." Lily chimes in.

"Thanks." Ash shyly mutters.

After lunch, Misty heads back to the gym office for work. Fortunately for the new couple, Tina did most of the talking over lunch. Thus, Misty and Ash avoided some embarrassing questions, but Misty did tell Ash to prepare for them. The questions will be coming from Lily and Violet sooner or later. Currently, Ash is helping clean up lunch while Tina is with her parents and aunts in the living room. Pikachu is also with her. He's inseparable from the girl whenever she's around.

"Thanks, Ash." Lily grins as she places her cup on the sink counter.

He nods and continues with the dishes, though Lily doesn't leave. Oh no. Here it is. It's okay because Ash has been preparing himself for these questions. He's a lot better now, so he is somewhat confident that he can come up with believable responses. "Do you need something else, Lily?"

"I thought you'd never ask." The pinkette leans over the counter, making Ash more uncomfortable. "You know I love Misty. She's my only little sister."


"So I just want what's best for her."

"Me too."

"Good." Lily is glad they're on the same page about this. "The Sketchits may like you and all, but I don't really know you. I mean. I don't know the you right now."

"No fair, Lil!" comes a high pitched voice into the kitchen.

Ash mentally groans seeing Violet stand on the other side of him. Now, he's between two of Misty's sisters. "Hey, Violet." Why are there so many dishes?

"We have to question him while Misty isn't here. You know she'll just be talking for him." Lily knowingly tells the bluenette.

"Yeah, but like, you could've waited for me." The Sketchits are watching a reality show. Tina had gone back to the gym with Pikachu because she'd rather play with the Pokemon. Tracey always follows his wife everywhere.

Lily rolls her eyes. "Whatever, Vi. We didn't even say much yet. Right, Ash?" He nods, still focused on the dishes. "See." Mew. Ash is sweating. Is the heat on too high?

Ignoring her sister, Violet asks Ash, "What do you like about Misty?"

His face tints pink. This is a very easy question, but he's so nervous. Taking in a deep breath, Ash says, "She's nice."

"Boring." Yawns Lily. "Ash, you abandoned her twice already. You can see why we don't trust you, right?"

For the first time since either of the sisters entered the kitchen, Ash stops washing the dishes. He turns his gaze towards Lily to see her curious eyes. "I don't wanna leave her again." Even after their divorce, Ash will still remain good friends with Misty. He doesn't want to lose her again.

"But you will?" Violet adds to his statement.

Sighing, Ash faces the soap duds in the sink. "I don't just depends on if she wants me in her life…"

The sisters exchange confused glances. Why is Ash talking like he and Misty are separating? "Is something going on, Ash?" inquires Violet. Is there trouble in paradise? Are Ash and Misty on the cusps of a divorce? But they looked so happy outside.

Shoot. Have Lily and Violet realized something? Ash quickly shakes his head. "Uh. No."

"Are you guys having problems?" Lily presses.

"No. We're good." Ash innocently smiles at them. Please let them be as dense as Misty claims they are.

Letting out a breath, Violet reassures Ash, "She loves you. She's always loved you, so whatever it is you're going through, you'll make it. Misty won't let you go."

Lily eagerly agrees, "Yeah, Ash! You're all Misty would think about for years. It's good that you're finally together."

Little do they know, but Ash knows Misty's crush on him is long gone. She said so herself. "Yeah. It is." He picks up the sponge again as a soft expression takes his features. "But she deserves someone better than me." Misty deserves someone who can stand next to her. A strong trainer who puts her first always. Not him. He hates that he's duping these people who care so much for Misty.

"Don't be so hard on yourself. She married you for a reason." Violet says, despite not knowing the reason for the marriage was to solve Misty's media problem that day.

"Uh huh. And Misty is so happy with you. She's satisfied."

With a small smile on his lips, Ash tells them, "I see where Misty gets her nice side from. I'm happy she has family like you." His heart aches immensely from all the lies. It's not fair, but he was the one who put this on himself.

Lily and Violet grin widely at each other. They're glad they didn't make Ash depressed. Mew. They'll just wait to interrogate him when Misty is around. "Come hang out with us when you're done, Ash." Violet invites him. Ash isn't one for reality TV, though he should bond with Misty's family.

"Oh my Mew, yes! We'll catch you up, so no worries if you haven't been keeping up with the show!"

Before they can leave the kitchen, Ash speaks up, "Hey, Lily?"

The sisters stop in their tracks to curiously look at him. "Yeah, Ash?" responds Lily.

"Her eyes." Ash breathlessly answers with his warm gaze still on the dishes. "Misty has my favorite eyes." Those eyes that speak so much because Misty keeps everything bottled up inside. Those eyes that can reach him. Those eyes that make him want to do anything for her. Only Misty's eyes can make his heart beat this fast.

Exchanging smiles of their own, the sisters leave Ash to himself. He's not even paying them any attention. Once in the living room, Violet whispers, "Misty's in good hands."

Lily nods as they sit down on the other couch from the Sketchit parents. "Yeah. We have nothing to worry about." Whatever troubles Ash and Misty are going through, they'll overcome them. There's so much love between the young couple.

After dinner, Misty happens to finally finish her League paperwork in time to join the festivities with her family. Ash and Tina have been watching battle film on Misty's laptop in the dining area because the Sketchits and Waterflowers are busy watching reality TV in the living room.

Tina asked Ash about some of his previous battles, and Ash mentioned that a few were filmed. He found some, and now, they're studying the current top trainers and their recent battles. Tina really has a knack and passion for Pokemon training. Ash can't wait to see the kind of trainer she will be in the future. Moreover, he likes that Tina enjoys Pokemon training as much as he does because it gives him something interesting to do instead of reality TV.

Walking into the dining area, Misty spots her niece and husband. Ash is telling Tina some tips based on the battle they're watching. The two don't even notice Misty, so she quietly approaches them. Seeing how excited and invested Ash is into the film reminds Misty a lot of the old Ash. Tina really brings out the trainer side of Ash.

When Misty grabs Tina, that is when they notice the woman. "Auntie Misty!" Tina giggles. Misty plants a kiss on her head.

"Are you on a break?" Ash asks.

She shakes her head while giving him a huge grin. "I'm done!"

"Whoa! Really?" Ash tackles Misty in a hug. He feels like it's been days since he last saw her. He's used to seeing her every day, so this is great news to him. "That's awesome!" Now they can celebrate the New Year together.

With flushed cheeks, Misty pats Ash's back. "Thanks, Ash."

"Mommy says we can party when you're done. Can we party now?" Tina eagerly asks.

Misty sighs. Of course Tina would know the word party, though the girl isn't wrong. Smiling at her now that Ash has shyly released Misty, Misty replies, "Yes! We can party!"

"Did someone say, 'party?'" exclaims Lily walking towards the fridge.

"Party?" Violet and Daisy scream from the living room. They soon run inside, joined by a sweatdropping Tracey. The sisters were too invested in their show to notice Misty had arrived until that one word was spoken.

"Oh em gee, Misty, you have to drink for me!" Daisy clings onto Misty's arm who sheepishly smiles.

"I'll just do a New Years drink." That's all Misty does anyways.

"No way!" Violet pouts. "Daisy can't drink with us, and we have so much alcohol to ourselves!"

"We don't need to drink it all." Misty facepalms. She never wants the alcohol here, but her sisters always buy so much. Plus, the last time she drank was at the Oak wedding where she got blackout drunk. Fortunately, Ash says Misty was pretty tame. Like she only forgot they were fake married and then she fell asleep. Misty doesn't want to get drunk again.

"You'll help us, right, Ash?" Lily holds up a 6-pack of beer.

"You don't have to." Misty tells him.

"Stop being boring, Misty." Daisy rolls her eyes. "Tracey is drinking too. I'll be the designated sober monitor!"

With a small smile, Ash reaches out a hand to take a beer from Lily. "Sure."

Lily grins happily. "Welcome to the family, Ash!"

Misty can only sigh and take a beer too. At least her family is welcoming Ash, and he is reciprocating. Ash is wary of Misty drinking alcohol because he is slightly traumatized by the last time she drank. Will she get drunk again? Will she try to kiss him again? Will she remember? Mew. He knows he'll be managing his intake, though he hopes Misty will do the same. She is a much heavy weight drinker than him, so she may be fine, depending on how much her sisters give her.

"Yes! Let's go!" Violet cheers.

"I'm gonna go get Pikachu!" Tina runs upstairs to where Pikachu and Marill are taking naps while the Sensational Sisters lead Misty and the men into the living room. During the shuffle, Misty looks in Ash's direction to see he is already looking at her. Their eyes lock, and through their soft blushes, they smile and shrug.

Eventually, it gets late, and Tina falls asleep. She always tries to stay up until midnight, but she can't. Tracey tucks her in with Pikachu. Tina always sleeps on the air mattress whenever she has to share a room with her parents. At least Pikachu and Marill get to sleep next to her this way. The adults have drank a bit and played some games, which Daisy recorded for her YouTube channel.

"Misty says you guys aren't thinking of having kids any time soon?" Violet asks Ash who is a little flushed from the alcohol.

Seeing his stiffen up, Misty intervenes, "We're not. Drop it, Vi."
"Aw. C'mon, Misty. Everyone is wondering when you guys will pop out a mini you. You have been married for two years." Daisy knowingly remarks.

Internally groaning, Misty sees they still have about half an hour before midnight. Why can't midnight come any sooner? She really thought she had avoided all of her sisters' questions. "Misty is too busy, and I'm still trying to figure my life out." Ash smiles warmly at the sisters.

Pouting, Daisy leans into Tracey's side. "Aw. But you're so great with Tina. You'll make a great dad, Ash."

Tracey chuckles. "Yeah. I'm starting to get a little jealous, Ash." Tina loves talking about Ash, especially after she learned about his old traveling days. He was once a strong trainer.

"Sorry, Tracey." The raven haired man sheepishly rubs the back of his head.

"Fine. If you're not thinking of kids, then what do you plan to do, Ash? Are you gonna keep helping out at the gym?" inquires Lily. The Ash they all remember was an avid trainer and traveler. He must be restless here. Misty curiously eyes him because she had asked him this question before. However, back then, he was still coming out of his shell, so he didn't know what he'd end up doing.

Looking down at his drink, Ash shrugs. "I wanna travel again, but we'll see if I'm ready for that." All these conversations with Tina, especially about his journeys, has gotten Ash to really miss that aspect of his life. He's always been on constant adventures. It's only fitting that he gets back out there once he's fully ready to.

Although she was the one encouraging him to travel again months ago, hearing this now makes her slightly frown. She always knew he'd eventually get back out there. Ash Ketchum doesn't stay in one place for long, which is why Misty knows he's in love with Serena. He was in Kalos for 5 years all for Serena. Despite the ache in her chest, Misty is happy that Ash is returning into his old self.

"Which League are you gonna compete in?" Tracey excitedly wonders.

"Not sure. I might just go back to the World Tournament and get higher than I did when I left." After three years in the World Tournament, Ash's highest rank was 99. He barely snaked into the Ultra class, and then he left for his relationship.

"What place are you trying to get?" Tracey knows that Ash's rank resets since he's been out of the tournament for so many years.

"Number 1 hopefully." Ash chuckles nervously. "But I know it takes time." He's got plenty of time. Ash doubts he'll ever get in a relationship again. He can't after that heartache, so now he can just solely focus on getting stronger. On being the best version of himself he can be.

"What about Misty?" Violet doesn't get why Ash is talking like he won't be married to Misty.

The young man quickly turns his gaze to his quiet wife who is deep in thought. Mew. He totally forgot about the lie. "Uh. I'll leave to battle certain trainers, but I'll mostly be here. People can come challenge me here."

"Aw. Is that why you picked the World Tournament?" Daisy gushes. Ash is so considerate to not leave Misty for extended amounts of time, like when he was younger. He really has grown up.

"Uh. Yeah." In reality, he chose it just to finish what he started. He needs to reach that Monarch, and hopefully become it. Fortunately, it works for his fake marriage.

"So what about you, Misty?" Daisy faces her quiet younger sister. "Are you just gonna keep doing this?"

Misty has been lost in thought about Ash's plans next year. Even though Misty is happy for him, she hates seeing him go again. Nevertheless, this is a fake marriage, and she was the one imposing the divorce on him. "Someone needs to run the gym."

"Misty is so boring." Violet waves off the youngest sister.

Coming to her rescue, Ash exclaims, "Misty is a lot of fun. I always have fun with her." Regardless of how much work Misty has, she always makes time for Ash. He hasn't had this much fun since before he became a recluse.

"It's okay, Ash." Misty sighs. She's used to her sisters' teasing. She's had a lifetime of it. "What are you all doing?" They're ones to judge her when they're just mooching off the gym's money. Misty is too nice to cut them off. Also, Misty doesn't use the gym money besides for the utilities.

"I'm a stay at home mom. We're very important." Daisy defends herself. Tracey makes a good income working for Professor Elm, especially in the low cost of living New Bark Town.

"We still put on shows wherever we go, Misty." Violet knowingly replies. Lily nods. They think Misty is just jealous of their exciting life. Ever since Misty came back from her travels with Ash, she's been nothing but upset about how her sisters forced this gym onto her. She could've said 'no' and they would've just given the gym back to the League.

Another reason Misty only spends the 10 minutes before New Years with her family is to avoid the judgmental teasing. Her sisters don't understand the work put into the gym. Without it, their family would lose everything. They'll lose their legacy. Frustrated, she stands up. "I'll come back at 11:59."

"Misty, don't be like that." Lily frowns as Misty walks towards the stairs.

Ash worriedly sets his beer on the table and follows when Misty goes upstairs. "I'll check on her."

"Thank Mew she's married to Ash." Violet lets out a breath and drinks the rest of her beverage.

Being sober, Daisy knows that Lily and Violet are too intoxicated to filter themselves. They really hurt Misty's feelings, but it is good that Ash is around. Tracey is also sober enough to realize what's going on. "I'm glad they're finally together." He whispers to his wife who nods.

In the master bedroom, Misty wants to slam the door closed, but that'd wake up Tina. Instead, she just shuts it, but it stops halfway. Glaring at who she expects to be Tracey, because it's always Tracey, Misty is surprised to see Ash. He slips inside and shuts the door behind him. "Hey…"

"Hey." She's not in the mood to talk. She doesn't want to talk about this, so Misty lays on her bed to scroll through her pokenav. They only have less than 15 minutes before midnight, and Misty can't wait for the time to pass already.

He awkwardly sits on her desk chair. Ash isn't too sure why he came after her. For appearances sake, yes, but he doesn't think about that too much anymore. He is actually concerned about her. Misty works hard. And that silence downstairs as well as that look on her face tells him she's exhausted. Ash wishes he could do more to take the pressure off of her. Maybe that's why he's up here? Regardless of just being a good friend who is checking up on her, he actually cares a lot about her.

"What's your New Year's resolution?" inquires the man.

Misty glances over at him from her pokenav. The silence was getting tense, so she's partly glad he broke it, but she would prefer not talking. "Why?"

Ash shrugs. "Curious."

"Don't have one." She finds them stupid. Misty hasn't had a New Year's resolution in years because her last one proved that they're stupid. The last time she had one was when she was 17, and she told herself that she'd see Ash in the New Year. No matter what, her goal was to see him, and she did. After their marriage pact was created, she figured she'd see him again, but of course he forgot about her, like he always does.

"Why not?"

"They're stupid."

"I don't think they are."

Setting down her pokenav, Misty gives him an incredulous look. "Really? So you mean to tell me you made resolutions the past three years?"

Ash nods. "Yeah. They were all the same resolution."

"What were they?"

"Is that your question today?"

She furrows her brows. "Not fair. I already answered this question for free."

A smile graces Ash's lips hearing Misty's tone cheering up. "That was my question. We'll have the same one again." They've noticed that they just piggyback off of each other's questions now.

"Fine." Misty sits up on the edge of the bed to face him, making them a foot apart. "What were your resolutions?"

Ash sheepishly rubs the back of his neck as he blushes shyly. "It's always been to be the champion. The past three years, it was to start training and going on journeys again." He motions to himself. "As you can see, I haven't accomplished any of those."

Meeting his eyes, Misty smiles. He may not have succeeded at any of his resolution, but he tries. Ash has always set high goals for himself. It's the reason he once ranked so high in the trainer world. He never settles for anything but the best. While he hasn't left his room in three years, this year he has overcome so much. "Yet. I know you'll be out on your journey soon, and you'll be the monarch."

Returning the smile with a warm on of his own, Ash relaxes in her comforting blue eyes. He's here to comfort her, but she's constantly comforting him. Every moment he spends with Misty, Ash feels like no one deserves her. He doubts he can pass her off to someone like he did with Gary. "I'll visit you a lot. I promise."

"What have I told you about making broken promises?" Misty teases, though it actually hurts her. He always promises this every time they meet.

"Not to make them." Ash leans towards her. "My New Year's Resolution is to visit you every month." This is one resolution he knows for a fact he can accomplish. Ash will not make the same mistake of letting Misty wait around for him to happen to run into her, nor will he make her use her energy just to see him. He will make the effort this time.

Raising a skeptical eyebrow at him, despite her racing heart, Misty leans towards him as well "How sure are you about this one? You haven't accomplished the other ones yet." Why are his eyes so interesting? Those curious chocolate brown orbs that are honed in on her only. The only eyes she ever cares about are directly in front of her, and they're looking at her the same way she's looking at them.

"Very sure." Ash whispers as their lips touch and they close their eyes.

The booming of fireworks erupts around the city outside the window, but the two are unfazed. They just bask in the warmth of each other's lips. Ash brings a hand to her cup her cheek just when Misty lightly licks his lips. Allowing her entrance into his mouth, he uses his own tongue to explore hers. Their hearts are racing, faces hot, bodies tingling, though all they can focus on is one another. That's all they've ever been able to focus on for months now.

Unfortunately for them both, they need oxygen, so Misty pulls away first at the sound of her pokenav going off. Catching her breath, she quickly answers it since some of her friends do give her New Year's calls. "Hey."

Ash is still taking in a couple deep breaths because he can't believe what just happened. Although his rule is no kissing, that rule just applied to the public. Moreover, they did sleep in past 9 this morning, which was Misty's rule of not doing. Ash brings a hand to brush his slightly wet and warm lips. This kiss was different than the type of fake kiss he thought about when he made his rule. It was intimate and just between them.

While he also was kissed by Misty after the Oak wedding, this kiss is a whole lot better. Neither of them are heavily intoxicated, and they both know what's going on. Their bodies just acted on impulse. It was two sober conscious adults acting on their own accord. Ash shuts his eyes, hoping it'll help him fix his breathing. He's too excited to even think about the repercussions of their kiss just now.

"Yeah. He's right here." comes the voice of the flushed woman. She too is still thinking about that kiss and what it means. Nevertheless, her current situation is to finish this call. "You're on speaker, Brock."

"Happy New Year's, guys!" exclaims the voice on the other end. Hoenn's New Year's was a few hours ago, but he specifically set an alarm to welcome his friends into the New Year, but he did snooze it, so he's a little late.

Now paying attention to his surroundings, Ash awkwardly smiles at the device in Misty's hands. He's really glad that this isn't a videocall. "Happy New Year, Brock!"

"Happy New Year, Brock!" Misty chimes in with her voice slightly higher pitched.

Chuckling, Brock replies, "It's late, so I'm gonna go back to sleep, but I just wanted to invite you guys to Annalise's 4th birthday next month. Think you can make it, Ash?" Misty always goes to the birthdays; however, Ash's reclusiveness has always kept him home. Brock has seen Ash's progress over calls and through the news. Thus, Brock hopes Ash is well enough to finally meet the girl.

Slightly nervous, Ash finds his eyes darting up to Misty's expectant ones. She'll only go if he goes, but she won't give him that pressure. Nevertheless, that warm eager look she's giving him reassures him that he can do this. All Ash wants to do nowadays is make Misty happy. She may not always make the best choices for herself, though Ash will do his best to help her. Knowing Misty really wants to see Brock and Annalise, Ash answers, "We'll be there."

"Awesome! Can't wait to see ya, buddy!" Brock hasn't seen Ash since his wedding with Lucy five years ago.

After the call ends, Ash and Misty are whisked away downstairs by the Sensational Sisters because Misty broke her words about being back by 11:59. Lily, Violet, and Misty are getting along again since all Misty needed was time to cool off. That's how they always make up. Due to the many games and group chatter, Ash and Misty don't ever get around to talking about their New Year's kiss. A kiss neither one can forget no matter how much they try to pretend it never happened.

Some holiday fluff for y'all. We're gonna finally see Brock!

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. Prologue 3335 0 0 2. Chapter 1 3889 0 0 3. Chapter 2 5728 0 0 4. Chapter 3 6858 0 0 5. Chapter 4 7312 0 0 6. Chapter 5 8640 0 0 7. Chapter 6 9818 0 0 8. Chapter 7 19153 0 0 9. Chapter 8 16786 0 0 10. Chapter 9 13286 0 0 11. Chapter 10 15358 0 0 12. Chapter 11 19491 0 0 13. Chapter 12 16349 0 0 14. Chapter 13 11771 0 0 15. Chapter 14 20732 0 0 16. Chapter 15 (Part 1) 17389 0 0 17. Chapter 15 (Part 2) 11842 0 0 18. Chapter 16 16313 0 0 19. Chapter 17 14979 0 0 20. Chapter 18 14493 0 0 21. Chapter 19 13362 0 0 22. Chapter 20 19263 0 0 23. Chapter 21 19779 0 0