Single By 30 @shinygrowlithe12
Chapter 14

Life is getting rough lol. Which just means, everything in my life is getting busier, so I'm only able to type on the weekends. I also started going to the gym again (not a Pokemon gym). Like I paid for a 1 year long membership, so I kinda need to go because I dropped a lot of money on that. -_- Therefore, it may take me a few weekends to push out content for y'all, hence this long chapter as my way of asking for your continued support in me. Thank you for your patience and understanding! I appreciate all of you! :3


Chapter 14

Letting out a disappointed breath, the man returns his fainted Pokemon. "Pika…" His yellow mouse has woken up beside him.

"We'll get them next time. I know it." The man smiles reassuringly at his Pokemon who has found the energy to hop on his shoulder.

"That was close. You almost had me there." the redhead approaches their platform. She scratches Pikachu behind the ears. "I'm glad you're feeling better, Pikachu."

"Pi pikachu!" Pikachu grins. A friendly battle is a lot of fun. Nevertheless, Pikachu, like the rest of his team, is tired of losing to Misty.

Sighing, Ash's gaze relaxes on the top of Misty's head. Seeing her check on Pikachu makes the man's heart beat quicker. She cares so much about everything he cares about. How had he not realized he loved her sooner? She's a very strong trainer, loving, selfless, caring… Just thinking about how much he adores this woman causes Ash to gently lift her chin up, so her eyes are now curiously on his. Closing the space between them, he kisses her softly.

They have been officially together for a few weeks now. Despite their new relationship, the two are still sleeping in separate rooms. Neither one is ready for the next step, and sleeping in the same room is more awkward now. There's a lot of pressure that no one wants to talk about. Thus, to avoid it, they just continue sleeping in separate rooms.

Due to faking their marriage, the touches have come naturally now that they are really dating. The kisses come every day, though not as often as both would like. At least the two don't hold themselves back as much anymore when they want something from the other. Like right now, Ash wanted to kiss this beautiful woman, so he did.

Speaking of Ash, he's gotten a lot better since that Cerulean Cape day. Misty has only gone to the Cape once, and everyone was glad to hear that Mewtwo had fully recovered. Ash doesn't question her about Mewtwo anymore, so that strain on their relationship is gone. Moreover, Ash and Misty have been seen venturing out into the city more often. The media doesn't bother them as much anymore because they are old news at this point. Ash is still somewhat shy, but he can interact with others. Misty feels like he's almost back to his old self.

All he's missing is his recklessness and goofiness, though he is occasionally pretty goofy around her. If they were children, she would be annoyed with his goofiness. Now, she misses it. It surprises her every time he behaves that way. How can she be mad at someone who is trying to be himself again? Especially when he isn't trying but it's happening naturally.

Walking into the living quarters after dropping off Pikachu with the rest of the gym Pokemon, Misty heads upstairs to shower. She only battles Ash at the end of the day, so they had closed the gym prior to the battle. His challenges have been coming more frequently too. He used to wait weeks to challenge her, then it became monthly, and now it's every other week.

Each time they battle, he's getting closer to beating her. Misty has to resort to actually thinking to win. Before, she'd just rely on her Pokemon's sheer strength and experience. She has to use tactics now, which makes battling so much more enjoyable. As excited as Ash is about training and battling again, Misty is just the same. She hasn't had this feeling in years. A feeling that only Ash can bring out in her.

Despite all the battles, Misty loves getting Ash to do a favor for her. Usually, she'll ask him out on a date or to do some task around the house. He's learned how to cook somewhat, so she's had him make her a meal once. Ash is somewhat shy about his cooking because he's not as good as her, but Misty loves it. He always puts his all into everything he does. She can't be upset about that. Thus, it involves her having to use her battle favors on getting the shy man to cook.

"Alright. What is it today?" Ash asks as he watches Misty grab her clothes and a towel. He's standing in the doorway of her room. She always showers in the master bathroom.

While it usually takes Misty some time to think of the favor she wants from him, she's had this one on her mind for a while now. It's something that will not only bring Ash out of his comfort zone, but her as well. Sighing, Misty gives him a small smile. "I'll tell you after I shower." It's not something she can just suggest and then leave him alone to dwell on for 10 minutes.

He nods. "I'll get started on dinner."

Misty gives him a surprised look. Ash rarely offers to cook. "Really?"

Chuckling, Ash figures that'll be what Msity asks for. That's all she ever asks for lately. Why she prefers his cooking over hers, he won't understand. Misty is a much better cook than him, but she must be tired from the gym. "Yeah. Come down when you're ready."

Over dinner, Misty has been trying to figure out how to bring up her favor to Ash. SHe feels somewhat cruel about it now that they're dating. Prior to dating, she was so fed up with him that she'd make him do things out of his comfort zone. This time, she is more conscious of her interactions with him. Ash, thinking Misty's favor must've been him cooking again, hasn't thought about the deal yet. He's still mulling over the battle in his mind and how he can come back stronger next time.

Thus, when Misty finishes her meal and puts her utensils down to say, "I'm ready to tell you my favor," Ash blinks at her in surprise.

"Didn't you want me to cook?"

"You offered to cook. I didn't ask." She notes. Is that the reason he cooked?

"But you always ask me to cook."

She feels bad seeing his shoulders slump. Giggling from his cuteness, Misty reaches a hand over to place over his. "I love it when you cook, Ash. But that's not my favor today."

To her relief, he meets her eyes with a small smile. "What can I do for you?" He reluctantly replies, which makes Misty playfully roll her eyes.

"Can you be my date?"

"I'm already your boyfriend." So she wanted a date instead? He should've known. Misty only asks for dates, chores, or his cooking. All tasks he doesn't mind doing for and with her.

Misty blushes from the reminder. Sometimes, she'll pinch herself to make sure dating Ash isn't a dream. "Uh. Yeah. Which is why you're the only one I can ask." He expectantly raises an eyebrow at her. "Can you go to the League with me?"

Seeing Ash stiffen up, Misty's gaze fills with worry. It's one thing to venture around Cerulean City. A city who loves her. It's another thing to go to the League with all the snobby officials and higher ups who will not hold back their remarks. She fully understands Ash's wariness to the request because it's the key reason Misty avoids the League events. That and she finds them unnecessary.

"I thought you don't go to those?" Ash inquires.

Letting out a breath, Misty leans back in her seat defeatedly. "I don't, but I should go to this one."

"Why?" If she doesn't usually go, and she doesn't want to go, then Ash sees no point in them both forcing themselves into this.

"I've taken a lot of days off, Ash. I'm actually using the stupid vacation days the League offers me. So I feel like I should at least show up to an event or two this year. Keep them off my back and stuff." Being with Ash, Misty has had to travel and take time off. She usually never takes days off from the gym, which helped her case when avoiding League events. That's the reason she'd only get a fine rather than the threat of losing her gym.

However, due to taking time off, something the League provides her, Misty feels like she should show her face at events. She doesn't want the League to get ideas about how they can threaten her for being ungrateful. Thus, she will just go to an event or two to show them that she takes her job seriously enough. Even if she has been taking time off this year.

Fortunately, the monthly gym leader meetings are virtual, but there are quarterly in-person meetings with all officials. Misty didn't go to the second quarter meeting because she hadn't taken time off from the gym. Moreover, her excuse was that she wanted to continue hiding from the media. Everyone did just find out about her surprise marriage to Ash. The excuse worked. Misty didn't go to the third quarter meeting because she was in Hoenn visiting Brock, so she already put in her approved vacation hours.

The first quarter meeting is always the meeting right before the tournament season, which she happened to go to, and it is what caused all of this to happen. Stupid Gary, though Misty hasn't cursed Gary's name over this matter in months. If it wasn't for that meddling professor, Misty wouldn't be this happy. She really would've never seen Ash again, and Ash would still be a recluse. Gary did this for both of their sakes despite not knowing the marriage is fake.

Lastly, there is one more League event before the end of the tournament season. This meeting is always right before the Indigo Plateau challenge, meaning most people stick around to watch the battles in person. The Indigo League challenge usually goes for a month, depending on the amount of challengers. The last meeting goes over finances, reflection, and regulations. Usually, the first meeting before the season starts is about new policies.

Therefore, Misty only has one more chance this season to show to the League that she cares about her job. As if her decades of diligence to the gym matters. The League wants her to show effort to them and her gym. It's annoying, but the League is her boss. Moreover, she did apply to the possible Elite Four position. Making somewhat of a League effort won't hurt her chances. "I'm not gonna force you to go with me, but I think it'll be a lot more fun if you're there." She blushes.

Fun. The very thing Ash has been trying to get Misty to do more of. On the weekends, he's managed to get her out of the gym to venture around the city. They've even gone to the Cape once or twice together for Misty to fish. However, they don't ever spend more than a few hours out before Misty returns to do work. It seems like she's always working, especially with the gym challenge ending soon. Ash just wants her to relax. This League event doesn't sound fun at all, which Ash can gauge even more of from Misty's features.

Sighing, his gaze softens on her as he flips his hand to envelop hers. Regardless of how annoying and slightly scared he feels towards this event, he will always do anything for her. "Let's go have fun, Mist."

Months ago, Misty wouldn't even think about asking Ash to accompany her. She doubts he would've been able to. Despite agreeing right now, Misty is surprised that he easily complied. Ash has grown a lot more than she's realized. "Great. I'll RSVP us then. I'll make Gary and Leaf go too. These events are always more bearable with people you actually like."

Grabbing their dishes, Ash chuckles. He hasn't seen the Oaks in a few months, which mainly is due to Leaf being far along in her pregnancy. That and Ash and Misty have been enjoying their time alone. "We should visit my mom too." He tells the woman who nods.

"It's been a while since we've seen her." Delia had visited months ago when Ash and Misty were not a couple. Like they did with the Sketchits, Ash and Misty just slept in the same room. It was pretty easy to fake their relationship, though the two aren't too sure what to do now if the situation arises.

"Yeah. I wanna see the rest of my Pokemon too."

"And then we can visit Gary and Leaf at their house." Misty adds. "In case they feel too pregnant to go to the event." Leaf can't drink alcohol, and Gary won't out of solidarity. Those two would constantly take advantage of the free expensive liquor offered by the League. Without that this year, Misty doubts they'll show. It doesn't hurt to ask them, but that's another reason she asked Ash to accompany her.

Although Misty was going to wash the dishes because Ash cooked, he doesn't let her. She's the one who works hard all day every day. The least he can do are the chores. Watching him scrub away as she tells him the details of the League event, Misty can't help but fall in love with him all over again. Her beating heart compels her to peck his cheek, making them both blush.

"Thanks, Ash."

"Uh. Yeah. I mean. I should go since I'm your husband…" He loves Misty's touches and kisses, but he still gets stunned by them.

"Good thing we got you a suit for the Oak wedding." Misty loves seeing Ash in a suit. Normally, he wears jeans or sweatpants. She loves seeing him in anything, but him in a suit makes him look very handsome. The last time she saw him in a suit was at the Oak wedding. It's been months since then, and Ash isn't that scrawny pudgy man anymore. He's gotten a lot stronger mentally and physically. She can't wait to see how he'll fit his suit now.

"Should we wear the same color?" Don't couples like to color coordinate? It's something he used to have to do all the time.

Misty ponders in thought. "Hm. We should." While she seems calm on the outside, Misty is ecstatic knowing Ash wants to match with her. Maybe dating the Kalos Queen has some perks with him? "We only have the green from the wedding."

Ash dries his hands on a towel nearby. "I can go to the mall tomorrow and find us something. I'm thinking yellow."

"Yellow?"

The man shyly rubs the back of his head. "Uh. Yeah. Since Pikachu will be coming, so I want us to match. I'll get a light yellow, like the green we wore." Ash doesn't remember the word pastel, but Misty knows what he's getting at.

Grinning widely, Misty grabs Ash's hand to drag him out of the kitchen and up the stairs. "I have the perfect yellow dress!" Okay. It's not her dress. I was Daisy's who had left it when she moved to Johto. Misty gets all her dresses from her sisters who never wear them. The Sensational Sisters wear only a small fraction of the dresses they buy. Misty has never had to buy a dress because she just takes from their closets. It helps too with wearing something new at every event she goes to.

"You have dresses?" Ash asks dumbfounded and then regrets it seeing her glare at him in the corner of her eye. Of course Misty owns dresses. He saw her in a dress at the League dinner! "Oh. Yeah." Mutters the man.

As Misty rifles through her closet, Ash expectantly sits on her bed. At least he won't have to buy her a dress tomorrow. He doesn't know her size, nor does he feel confident picking a good dress. That's why he likes wearing suits. It's not too hard to dress up for events when he's only expected to put on a suit. Dresses, though, have different styles. That's unnecessarily complicated. The fact that Misty does this often just makes Ash even more amazed with her.

Eventually, Misty walks out of her closet with a long yellow dress in her hands. "It's a good thing it's May." Wearing yellow in the winter isn't right. She learned a lot about colors and dresses from her sisters. Yellow is a summer and spring color. Winter would need blue. It's all annoying and frilly, but Misty would rather get as little attention as possible at the League events.

When she places the dress in front of her body, Ash gazes up and down. He can only imagine what it'll look like on her. The League event is in a few weeks at the end of the month, so they have plenty of time to mentally prepare themselves. Nevertheless, Ash just wants the League event to be now. That way, he can see how well this dress compliments Misty's body.

"Do you like it?" Misty hesitantly asks because Ash hasn't said anything despite his eyes being glued onto the dress. Is it not the yellow he wants? Regardless of the color, she should get the say because it's a lot easier buying a certain color tie than it is buying a certain colored dress.

Ash is snapped back into reality by her voice, and he nods. "Yeah." The man breathlessly replies. "When is the event?"

Misty rolls her eyes because she had just told him this minutes ago. "At the end of the month."

"Damn." Why does he sound so disappointed? She narrows her eyes at him, but when he mutters, "So long." under his breath, Misty feels her cheeks heat up.

Can she read into that? Is he eager to attend this event with her? All because she'll be in a dress? "I'm glad you can't wait to go." That makes one of them.

He can't believe she heard him, which makes his blush deepen. "Uh. It'll be fun, right? Going together." C'mon. Let this be a good save.

Misty puts the dress away, much to Ash's dismay. She takes a picture with flash on and sends it to him. "We'll see. We just gotta stay for the meeting and dinner. We can leave before the afterparty." Never again will she stay for a League after party. Gary and Leaf had convinced her to go once, but after they ditched her, she was subjected to lots of drunk men trying to get at her. The moment one squeezed her butt, she slapped him and stormed out. These disgusting men. Being a trainer, Misty is in the male dominated industry. At least having her husband around will keep these hounds away. Hopefully.

"Sounds good." Ash pockets his pokenav after checking for the photo. When Misty is about to walk past him, he reaches out a hand to grab her, making her curiously look down at him. "Um. I think you'll look nice in the dress." He just can't get the image of her and that dress out of his mind.

Smiling shyly, Misty bends over to peck his lips. "Thanks, Ash. I can't wait to see you in a suit again." She then makes her way out before either of them get any ideas about being alone in her bedroom with her kissing Ash on her bed. As Misty walks ahead of Ash back downstairs, her face is beet red.

Lately, they spend their free time planning for their summer event. Misty has been contacting the city, and Ash is figuring out the vision for the event. Misty was surprised when Ash brought up the event a few weeks ago. She thought he forgot about it, but he asked for her help in finding caterers and law enforcement. Misty is the native. She knows that information more than he does. What was supposed to be a surprise event he planned became something the couple is putting on for their city. Ash wouldn't have it any other way. Once this tournament season ends, they will be able to relax a bit and do something for the city that has shown him so much hospitality.

That weekend, Misty is up at the Cape again. She knows that summer is her usual season of frequenting the Cape often. Now that the world thinks Ash is her mystery Cape guy, the media has been less intrigued by her going to the Cape. It helped that she and Ash were spotted returning from the Cape a few times already. Mewtwo's injuries haven't been too bad lately, though Misty still sticks around to make sure he fully recovers. He dons his usual hooded cape during their visits.

What is it? Mewtwo is still waiting to feel better to go back to his cave. If he were to return now, he wouldn't withstand much of a battle. Even though he can move around just fine, he is still weakened. The only thing keeping his pride down is his desire to remain free. Thus, he lets Misty watch over him until he's ready to return.

Years ago, he was too prideful to wait with her. He didn't want a human's protection. It was a mistake because he was ambushed at his cave. Luckily, the cave Pokemon along with Misty's Corsola were able to help him escape, which was when Misty reprimanded him. She then kept guard over him until he was completely better. Ever since, Misty doesn't let Mewtwo leave her sight, and Mewtwo also sticks around him.

The two have spent plenty of time together to know each other well. That is why Misty is the only one who can talk any sense into the stubborn Pokemon. And he is the only one who can genuinely figure out and care when she is upset. Despite his psychic powers, Mewtwo has never used them to read her mind after their first year together. Misty had established her trust, and she'd get so mad over him reading her thoughts. They have a partnership. They need to trust each other.

"Huh?" She asks as her train of thought is broken.

Sighing, Mewtwo replies, You've been in a daze all day.

"Oh. Uh. The season is ending soon, so I just have a lot on my mind." Really, she hasn't been thinking too much about the end of the season. Yes, that means she will have a lot of work to do, but that is nothing new to her. She always has a lot of work to do.

I know you're lying.

"Why do you care?" Since when has Mewtwo cared about human affairs, as he likes to put it. Mewtwo despises humans, except for her. That's just because they have this partnership, though Msity is sure Mewtwo wouldn't have formed this partnership if he didn't have to.

The psychic type rolls his eyes. You heal me. Although he will never tell her he cares about her too, she knows. He is grateful that she doesn't say much about it. It's a part of their understanding with each other. With Misty's mouth still shut, Mewtwo adds, Ash Ketchum?

She snaps her annoyed attention his way. "Why are you bringing him up? I told you, he won't tell anyone about us. He's helping us!"

I know. Of course Mewtwo knows Ash is trustworthy. Mewtwo has met Ash a few times throughout the years. Moreover, Mewtwo doubts Ash would ruin his relationship with Misty by telling others about her one secret she doesn't want exposed. The fact that Misty even called Ash to let him find out about Mewtwo means Misty trusts Ash a lot. I know you've been a lot happier with him around.

It's a no brainer that Misty's mood has increased drastically his year. In the past, Mewtwo and her had a strict relationship. She always looked so drained and bored with her routine life. This resulted in Mewtwo relying on her because he knew she didn't have anything else to do. She would make the commitment to him. After hearing about her marriage, Mewtwo was slightly worried that people would find out about them, or that Misty would stop helping him.

Nevertheless, her dedication to her gym and Mewtwo has never wavered. Mewtwo isn't sure how Misty fared in the beginning of her marriage, but she did tell him that Ash wouldn't be saying anything. That she wouldn't tell anyone, and she even told Mewtwo it is a fake marriage. That way, Mewtwo could trust her more. If she ever neglected him or exposed him, she allowed him to leak her fake marriage.

Despite her allowing Ash to find out about Mewtwo weeks ago, Mewtwo trusts Ash. Moreover, Mewtwo and Misty are friends, regardless of how much they don't acknowledge the personal relationship. Mewtwo won't ever put Misty in unfortunate circumstances just like how she won't do it to him. Just like with Ash and Misty, Mewtwo and Misty's relationship has grown into a friendship compared to when they first started to try to keep each other as far apart as possible.

"So what? We are dating seriously now." She had told him this last time.

Your mind has been wandering this whole time.

"I thought I told you to stop reading my mind."

I didn't read it. Anyone with a brain can see it on your face.

Narrowing her eyes at him in annoyance, Misty thinks about how lucky Mewtwo is that she won't leave him. She always waits for him to leave, which is usually when they both can agree that he's fine. "I applied to be an Elite Four member."

Ah. So that's what it is. Good for you.

"You'll have to find someone else to heal you."

Why don't I just move to Mt. Silver?

"You shouldn't move your whole home for me, Mewtwo." notes the woman.

I don't trust anyone else.

"You can."

I don't want to. It was already too much work having to rely on her. Plus, being at Mt. Silver, the Pokemon there are a lot stronger. And Mt. Silver is harder to reach. Only the most powerful trainers can get through it. That will mean Mewtwo will be battling strong trainers, but he already does that here. At least, with Mt. Silver, he'll be battling a lot less. Mt. Silver is better than here anyway.

Sighing, Misty leans back in the grass to look up at the night sky. She knows Ash is up waiting for her safe return. He always is, which warms her heart. Mew. Said heart aches tightly. Although she is worried for Mewtwo's fate if she leaves, this isn't what has been on her mind. "What do you think about Ash?" Mewtwo is her only friend here. It's not like she can talk to Ash about this. She could talk to Brock, but she doesn't trust Brock to tell Ash or meddle. Misty won't dare rely on the Oaks or her sisters. They will slip it to Ash too. Thus, she can only trust Mewtwo who won't be seeing Ash again...hopefully.

Mewtwo is thinking that her thoughts must also be on Ash. No wonder why she looks so deep in thought. Her mind is bouncing with a lot of things. Compared to the past where she only was focused on her gym, Misty has a lot going on right now. He's trustworthy. Mewtwo doesn't compliment anyone. He has a lot of positive thoughts on Ash, but he won't be telling anyone this.

"I know." the redhead groans. "Do you remember when I told you about our relationship back in the fall?" Mewtwo nods. "And I said we're supposed to get divorced after a year? A year is coming! I mean. We won't get divorced right at the year, but we will probably get divorced half a year from now."

Didn't you say you're both dating seriously now? Mewtwo could've sworn that's not a lie. Only the marriage is.

"We are. That's why my brain hurts, Mewtwo."

Humans indeed are complex beings. If you like him, and he likes you, you do not need to divorce.

"Ash is gonna travel again in the fall."

That's good for him, right? Mewtwo recalls all the times he's met Ash have been during Ash's travels.

"Yeah. It is." Misty closes her eyes. "But I don't know if he's still gonna do it. Like what if he chooses to stick around with me because he's comfortable? Because he feels like he has to? I don't ever wanna hold him back."

He is an adult. He can make his own choices. Humans constantly make their lives more difficult than it needs to be. Mewtwo had scolded Misty a lot in the fall over the fake marriage.

"He might make the wrong choice!" Snaps the woman, causing Mewtwo to be taken aback as he watches her glare at him. "The Ash Ketchum I know and love is full of adventure! I will not let him just become some house husband! He's done that enough this year, and he needs to go live his life again."

Have you talked to him about this?

"Yes!"

Then what is the problem? Did he tell you he wants to stay?

"No…" mutters the woman.

Now Mewtwo is really lost and facepalming at how complex humans like to make their lives. Talk to him, not me.

"But I don't want him to think that I want him gone! I mean. I love him, so I never want him away from me, but I want the best for him. If I tell him I want him to travel again, what if he thinks I'm breaking up with him? What if it breaks us because he'll be gone for who knows how long again?" She can't trust Ash's promise to visit often. She won't fall for that trap again, even if their relationship now is different.

That's why you talk to him.

Misty lets out a stressed breath. "Before we got together, he said he wants to travel again. He wants to finish what he started, and I fully support him."

Then let him. This is such a no brainer.

"But what if he's changed his mind now that we're together? We have a lot of fun, like I don't want it to stop. I don't know what he's thinking."

Again, ask him! The frustrated Pokemon exasperates.

Misty gives him an apologetic look. "Women never ask for advice, Mewtwo. We just like to be heard."

I am not a therapist.

"But you're a psychic type."

That does not make any sense.

Giggling from the annoyed Pokemon, Misty feels a little better. With each day that passes, she's nearing the day Ash leaves again. A day she will not stop him from, but encourage him. Misty is never ready to let him go, though she does it because she loves him. Standing up, she reaches a hand out to Mewtwo. "Seems like you're a lot better now."

Prideful Mewtwo doesn't take the hand as he uses his psychic powers to stand by himself. You gave me a headache. This is precisely why he told her this fake marriage was a bad idea months ago. Mewtwo knows all about the effect Ash has had on her since they were young. He could sense it throughout the years, and eventually figured out that some of her sadness stemmed from Ash. Thus, Mewtwo won't waste his time telling Misty he told her so.

"Thanks for listening, Mewtwo." Misty innocently grins, and Mewtwo teleports away.

On the lonely walk back to the gym, Misty is back in thought about Ash. They haven't talked about their plans this fall, and a part of her is scared to. Regardless of what he chooses, she isn't sure how to react. She's thought it over multiple times, and just can't figure out what is best. Nevertheless, she knows she will always be selfless and let him live his life. Let him achieve his dreams because that is the Ash she fell in love with. She loves him so much that she'll let him go again, even though she has him now.

Weeks later, after a very stressful past few weeks at the gym due to last minute trainers trying to earn the Cascade badge, Misty and Ash have finally closed the gym for the season. They've come a long way from when they reconnected at the start of the tournament season. As Misty is in her room putting on her dress, she thinks over this very eventful year. She's done a lot more this past year than she's done in over a decade. The last time she had this much fun and adventure was...when she was traveling with this very man. Even her short stint in Alola was fun.

Sighing, Misty knows she's only ever had fun with the reckless Ash Ketchum. Being a strict person, his constant disregard for her nagging always brought them adventure. While it often annoyed her, Misty loved it. While Ash isn't as reckless this year, just his involvement with her has caused her to live an exciting life again. A life that isn't so routine and boring. An actual life, as Gary and Leaf like to put it.

Speaking of Gary and Leaf… Those two won't be coming to the League event. They find no point if they can't mooch off the free alcohol and party to their hearts' content. They do wish Ash and Misty have fun. Well, they wished Ash and Misty do more than just have fun, but Misty will ignore the usual words that come out of her friends' mouths. Those two really are perfect for each other, and it was their fault that all of this even happened in the first place.

Since she usually dreads League events, Misty has found herself looking forward to this one. It'll be the first time she brings a date, and that date is none other than Ash Ketchum. Compared to the last League event they both were at, they've grown a lot physically and mentally. Misty can't wait to shut up a lot of people when she shows up with Ash. All the doubters who thought he was done. That Ash Ketchum was washed and gave up. If these past few months have shown her anything, it's that Ash Ketchum cannot be completely counted out.

Thus, bringing up the reason for her slightly heavy heart. With the tournament season ending, Misty can relax a bit, but she isn't looking forward to what this end also means. Frowning in the mirror, Misty knows that Ash will be gone in a few months. Talks of their divorce haven't come up since they started dating officially. Misty figured they'd only divorce if they broke up, though the relationship has been going well. She doesn't want to bring up divorce because it might cause a strain in the relationship, which they don't need.

However, married or not, dating or not, Misty will not hold Ash back. Prior to dating he had expressed that he hopes to travel again someday. That he wants to go back to his old self and see the world. Compete in the world championship. While the two haven't spoken about their plans next year lately, Misty will not stop him from leaving. Even if he says he'd rather stay with her and help at the gym, Misty won't let him. She will force him back out. The Ash now is totally ready for adventure again.

All Misty has done is push him, and that is the reason he was able to recover this year. She will push him again, even if she'll be pushing him away from her. That's what happens when people love each other. At least Ash promised to visit monthly, but Misty won't hold him accountable to that. Regardless of her feelings, again, she wants him to succeed at his dreams. It's why she never reached out to him during his travels. With this final push, she's sure Ash Ketchum will finally return to 100%.

Knocking on the door breaks her out of thought as she replies, "Come in."

Of course, it's only Ash. Misty's eyes are still on her mirror, making sure she looks perfect for tonight. Not only will there be lots of media, there will also be people she doesn't want to look inferior in front of. Melody always goes to these events to hook up with someone, and Misty will not let Melody catch her slipping again.

"Wow." Ash breathes out.

"Piii…" Pikachu agrees from his shoulder.

Seeing the dress weeks ago is nothing to seeing it on Misty. The dress really complements her pale skin. It's tight around all the right areas, though it does not look suffocating. Ash can make out the shape of Misty's hourglass figure. There is a slit on the side of the dress, which exposes some of her leg. The man is pretty sure he's going to faint from a nosebleed if he keeps ogling her, but he can't help it. There's a redheaded beauty right in front of him.

Feeling the eyes on her, and spotting them in her mirror, Misty shyly faces the two. She finds Pikachu utterly adorable in his little black bowtie, which makes her approach them to fix his tie. Pikachu has this sole tie that he wears to all events with Ash. "You look so cute, Pikachu."

"Pi." Pikachu blushes. He then hops on Misty's bed. "Pika pikachupi pika pi pichu."

"Thank you." Misty smiles from the compliment. She then turns her eyes onto the man whose mouth is slightly ajar, deepening her blush. Giggling, Misty grabs the poorly wrapped tie on him to untie it and tie it herself. No matter how many times she's taught him these past few weeks, Ash still doesn't have it down. She can't blame him when he rarely goes to events needing a tie. "I'll kill you if you drool on me."

That finally gets Ash's attention as he closes his mouth in embarrassment. "Heh. Thanks, Mist. You look beautif-" Coughing, Ash reaches up to his tie that Misty had tightened too much.

She was not expecting his compliment so soon, and she wasn't expecting it being this close to him. Panicking, Misty quickly loosens the tie for Ash to breathe. "Sorry, Ash!"

"It's okay." He breathes out as Misty pats his back. Pikachu sweatdrops from the two. 31 and dating, but they are still acting like children.

Once Ash catches his breath, he stands up to tighten the tie himself. Misty ties ties a lot better than he ever could. Well, she does a lot of things better than him. She always beats him in a battle. She can cook better. She does so much, so he always wants to do a lot for her. "Can you breathe?" She worriedly asks.

Looking at the apologetic woman, Ash gives her a reassuring smile. "Yeah." He chuckles awkwardly. "But my breath was gone long before you tied my tie."

"You did not just try a pick up line on me." Misty replies unamused with a dark blush on her face.

"Did it work?"

Mew. Just where did this Ash Ketchum come from. Rolling her eyes, Misty turns her back to him to avoid responding. She moves her long red hair to show him her exposed back. "Can you get the zipper?"

"Uh." Ash gently grabs the zipper. As he zips up her dress, his fingers brush her bare back, making them both shiver slightly. "Sorry."

"It's fine." Usually, Misty would have her Pokemon help her with her dresses. She's starting to think she should've asked Politoed again to avoid this intense blush.

Before she can turn back to face him so they can leave, Ash rests his hands on her shoulders. "Wait." His warm fingers make Misty's heart beat quicker. Ash removes them and then brings something around her head. In the mirror, Misty can make out a silver chain with a simple pearly on it. Ash clasps it around her neck with a smile. "Perfect."

"Ash-"

"It's just something small. A gift for working hard these past few weeks. And a thank you for helping me." Ash won't let her try to tell him otherwise. The necklace did drain the rest of his savings, but Ash is used to not needing much money. He does hope to start contributing his own income soon instead of just relying on Misty's.

Touching the pearl as she studies herself in the mirror, Misty returns the smile. "Thanks, Ash." She feels like she's been thanking him a lot lately, which is something he's thought of in the beginning of their marriage. Just like how she's changed Ash, he's changed her. Misty finds more purpose and meaning in life. She's happier. It's all the more reason she isn't looking forward to his departure from her life again.

Turning her head slightly, she kisses him affectionately. Pikachu looks away as Ash melts into the kiss. When they pull away, Ash sheepishly asks, "Ready?"

"As ready as I can be." Misty giggles. Due to dressing nicely, they won't be flying. Flying will ruin their outfits. At least, Ash is good enough to drive for them to switch halfway. Misty won't need to make the long drive by herself this time. And tonight, they'll be staying in Pallet Town, which isn't too far from the League.

"We can always play hooky?" suggests Ash as Pikachu leaps onto his shoulder.

"What is it with you and playing hooky?" Ash has oftentimes brought this up for events, beginning with the Oak wedding.

Chuckling, he replies, "I've been pretty good at it these past three years."

"Don't remind me."

"You were the one suggesting we play hooky for Annalise's birthday."

"Don't make me sound so awful." Misty gasps. Yes, skipping out on their goddaughter's birthday as well as Ash's first time meeting her is huge compared to skipping out on a League event of the annoying Oaks. Well, they shouldn't be skipping the Oak wedding when they were the maid of honor and best man. Nevertheless, these two haven't played hooky at all yet. They are responsible despite being uncomfortable.

Ash kisses the side of Misty's head. "You're far from awful, Mist."

Since when did this man become so sweet? The Ash Ketchum Misty remembers was dense as nails. There's no way he would know to say such warming words. She figures he picked it up from his previous relationship. This isn't Ash's first rodeo with love. Misty knows she shouldn't feel jealous that she wasn't Ash's first romantic partner, especially since Ash and Serena are long over, but she does feel jealous.

"Then what am I?" Misty teases as they put on their shoes.

"Besides hot headed?" Whack! Ash rubs his head painfully while Pikachu sweatdrops again. "I meant hot! You have a hot head!" Alright. That was such a terrible cover. So bad that Misty just walks out of the house without holding his hand. "Wait!" Ash chases after her.

Once they're in the car, Misty calls out Psyduck to keep Pikachu company. Although Psyduck annoys her heavily, Misty finds he is easier to tame than her other Pokemon. In battles, she'll choose her other Pokemon over Psyduck any day. The only Pokemon who would be able to comfortably ride in a car are Politoed and Psyduck. Politoed is very troublesome due to his playful nature. Psyduck is just an idiot, and it's not hard for Misty to watch an idiot. They're never scheming because they're idiots.

Subconsciously, her eyes dart over to the driver. Ash is driving the first half because there will be more traffic as they near the League. The gym challenge ended yesterday, and the League tournament starts on Monday. Thus, trainers and spectators alike are flocking to the League right now to make it in time for the start of the competition. Watching Ash keep his hands at 10 and 2 as he's seriously focused on the road makes her giggle to herself. He always looks so focused when he drives, mainly because he's a new driver and fears he could kill them.

"What?" Ash grumbles with his eyes still on the road.

"Your knuckles are turning white, idiot." Yup. He's such an idiot.

"Oh." Ash loosens his hold slightly, though not by much. He can feel his sweaty palms. This is the longest drive he's ever had to do.

"You told your mom we'll be back late tonight right?"

Ash nods. He wants to focus on the road, but he loves talking to Misty. He's multitasked this before. "Yeah. She said since the gym is closed now, we should spend a few days with her."

"That's why we packed suitcases." Misty reminds Ash of their luggage she made him put in the car earlier.

"It'll be nice to get a break from the busy city. Pallet Town is so quiet." Except for the days leading up to the tournament season. New trainers and their families are always flocking to the lab during that time.

"Uh huh. I can't wait to sleep in for once."

Ash rolls his eyes. "You always say that, but I haven't seen you ever sleep past 10 AM."

"Hey! 10 AM is sleeping in!" compared to waking up at 6AM every day.

"Noon is sleeping in." Ash hasn't slept past 10 AM in a long time. Not since he moved into the gym. He's sure if Misty didn't wake him, he still wouldn't be able to sleep in as late as he once did. To think, a year ago, he'd most likely still be sleeping in bed right now. Would his mom have dragged him to this event too? Ash doubts he'd see Misty if he did go to this event with his mother because Misty did say she's only going due to all the vacation days she's used this year. Vacation days she's had to use because of him.

While Ash is silently reflecting on his year and growth, Misty's thoughts are back to this fall. To the topic she's been constantly thinking about for weeks now. So much that she even talked to Mewtwo about it. Misty never tells Mewtwo her personal life! When she does, it's because she can't keep it in anymore due to her frustrations. Nervously looking out the window, Misty softly asks, "Hey, Ash?"

"Hm?"

She takes in a deep breath. "Have you thought about...the fall?"

They've only been talking about their plans this summer. The Cerulean City campout. The Shinji wedding. In the early fall, it'll be Goh's and Chloe's wedding in Viridian City. Due to various reasons, they'll be having their wedding the first week of the tournament season. That way, their friends won't be missing too much of the tournament. Other than that, Ash and Misty haven't discussed plans for next year. Could it be because Ash assumes they'll do the same thing they did this year?

"What about it?"

Pikachu, who is the least dense one after Misty, curiously gazes at the front of the car. Psyduck is still absentmindedly watching YouTube on the tablet. Although Pikachu and the other Pokemon have been training with Ash, they haven't discussed when Ash would travel again. Ever since he started dating Misty for real, Ash hasn't brought up traveling. Even before dating, Ash would only occasionally bring it up. Like he'd tell them he hopes to be out in the world again. Does he still feel that now?

If he does, then Pikachu totally understands the hesitant voice Misty is giving Ash. All the times Ash has traveled, he's forgotten about her. Well, not necessarily forgotten, but he gets so invested in his journey that he just doesn't contact anyone. He wants to be a Pokemon Master. That is all he's ever focused on, so everything else becomes an afterthought.

"Are you gonna travel again?" Misty finally asks, making Pikachu's breath hitch.

Ash shrugs. "Dunno." Okay. He's only thought about this once or twice since they started dating. Each time, his head would hurt too much along with his aching heart, so he'd stop. Thus, Ash hasn't thought too deeply about next season, and he doesn't want to, but he has to. Misty questioning him now has caught him off guard.

"You did say you wanna travel again...back in the winter…"

Sighing, Ash furrows his brows. Maybe if he concentrates really hard on the highway and doesn't respond, she'll leave him alone? However, feeling Misty's expectant eyes piercing the side of his head eventually makes him give in. "Yeah. That was back in the winter."

"What about now?"

"Dunno." He repeats. "Can I just drive?"

Now, Misty glares at him for his snarky tone. It's a genuine question. He doesn't need to talk to her like that. Plus, it's a very real question between them that she wants to discuss. Maybe now isn't the best time, though when will it be the best time? What if fall comes, and Ash just ups and leaves? She wants to be prepared. That way, she can make the most of whatever time they have left.

"We have five hours, Ash. You can do both."

"I'd rather focus on the road."

"It's a simple question. We need to prepare for whatever happens!"

Groaning, Ash exasperates, "I said I don't know! Mew, Misty! Just drop it already!"

"Pikapi!" scolds Pikachu.

Shaking his head, Ash's grip tightens on the steering wheel. "I haven't decided yet. Can't you all just wait until I do?"

Feeling slightly bad for making him this distressed, despite his outburst, Misty nods. "But last time we talked...you said you were hoping to travel again in the fall. You're a lot better now…"

"That was before we started dating." Ash lets out a long breath. "I just...need more time to think, Misty."

"Fine. But I better not find out you're leaving the day before. I need to know how much time we have left together."

"Whether I leave or not, I said I'd visit. We'll still be together."

"And I told you, I don't believe you. I have no reason to."

"We're seriously dating now! We love each other! I'm not gonna lose you again."

"I don't believe you."

"Mew!" Ash exclaims. She has every right to not believe him, but it still sucks. And it's all his fault. "Then I won't leave!" She'll have to believe him now. He's devoted to her. Indebted and in love. Ash won't risk this again.

"That's not what I want, Ash! You should travel if you wanna travel!"

"And then what?" He snaps. "We break up? Cuz the way you're sounding, you don't believe we can last if I travel again."

"I never said that."

"But you're thinking it."

Misty purses her lips. As much as she hates to admit it, breaking up is a real possibility if Ash travels again. Even if she chooses to believe him, and they try to make it work, Misty isn't sure her heart can handle it. What if she spends years waiting for him? Thinking they're still together when he forgot about her. She can't be broken from his neglect anymore. She won't let it happen; thus, she will be the one to end things if Ash leaves.

If he really loves her and doesn't want to lose her, then he will keep his promise. Only then, will she give him a chance. For now, though, she isn't going to wait for him anymore. She already told herself to stop doing that years ago, so she will abide by her own rules. No wonder why Ash is just as upset about her wanting to talk about this. He too understands what this conversation means to them.

"I will not hold you back." Misty finally speaks.

Ash annoyedly groans. He thought her silence meant she was finally dropping the topic. Of course, Misty would want the last word. "You're not."

"We won't break up if you travel again."

Not feeling as upset anymore, Ash's features relax along with his tense shoulders. "I'm glad."

"But we'll be taking a break."

"That's basically breaking up!" He furrows his brows again. "A break is breaking up!"

"No!" fires back the woman. "A break is you're still committed and faithful to each other, but you just can't be in a relationship at the moment."

"That's so stupid."

"It matters to me, Ash! If it matters to you, it won't be stupid."

"You matter to me! We're not breaking up, and we're not taking a break." He's learned to fight for his love. Not to let it get to the point it once did where he had to allow her to break up with him.

Although Misty loves hearing him fight for them, which means he loves her a lot, she can't stand being controlled. "We'll take a break."

"I-"

"Let me explain it, and then you can tell me if it's still stupid."

"Fine. Whatever." Grumbles Ash. At least now, he can pay attention to the road more than the anger fueling inside of him.

Misty chooses to ignore his tone since he's driving. "If you keep your promise, then we'll continue to be together while you travel. But if you don't, then I'll just assume we broke up."

"I'm gonna keep my promise, so we don't need to do all of this."

"Again, I don't know that."

Biting his bottom lip, Ash spots Pikachu in the rearview mirror giving him a stern gaze. It always feels like everyone is telling him what to do. "How long?"

"How long what?"

"How long will the break be...if we take it."

Weeks? Months? Ash did say he'd visit monthly and call daily. How long should she give him? It usually takes about two weeks before Ash completely forgets to contact her because adventure awaits. However, he did promise to visit monthly, so she should at least give him a shot at that. "Six months."

"That's too long!"

"You'll be traveling. It'll fly by."

"I don't like the idea of us being single for half a year. We've barely been dating three months!"

"Fine. What do you propose?" They are a couple, so his opinion matters too.

"I already said we're not breaking up."

"And I said that's not an option."

Breathing out heavily through his nostrils, Ash mutters, "Three months." That'll give him a few months to show Misty he's committed to her.

As much as Misty wants to agree to his terms, she can't. Her head is telling her no. It's guarding her heart again. Ash has never been hurt by her neglect because she's never forgotten him. He doesn't understand her reservations while she is scared. They're over 30 now. She is too old to be waiting for him, especially for a third time. There's only so many times she can let her heart fool her over the same man.

Despite not getting an answer, Ash won't pry. He notices Misty gazing out the window silently now, which he is relieved for. This conversation is finally over...for now. He doesn't know if Misty agrees to the 3 months thing, but if she doesn't, then he'll show her he can handle 6 months. He can handle a lifetime for her. She's waited 5 and then 12 years for him. Now it's his turn to wait for her.

In the backseat, Pikachu relaxes besides the oblivious Psyduck. He'll have to question Ash in private some time soon. The whole team is itching to get back out and compete. Misty will be left alone, which is the last thing Pikachu wants, but everyone has their own callings. Ash leaving for a journey again will really return him to his once youthful self. Being a Pokemon Master has always been an Ash thing. Thus, Ash has to go out again. Pikachu will make sure Ash doesn't forget Misty again.

Leaning back in her seat in silence, Misty watches the cars drive by because Ash is driving much slower than them. While he just fought to keep them together, she finds it hard to accept it. The first time he promised to stay in contact with her, he said he'd call weekly. Being his first traveling partner, she expected he'd never forget her. She believed in him and in their friendship! A friendship that she'd say was closer than him and Brock. The relationship Misty and Ash shared as children was something that cannot be compared to any other. Thus, she eagerly waited for Ash, and the calls stopped after a few months.

When she heard about his Alola school taking a fieldtrip here, she volunteered to meet him at the airport, and then she even went to visit him! He made that silly promise about their marriage pact, so how could she not believe him? Who would want to get married through some stupid bet? Through a childish agreement? He promised it wouldn't be 5 years, and it definitely wouldn't be 12, but it was 12. And again, she waited like the idiotic hormonal teenager she was.

If not for Gary's meddling, it would still be never. Ash would be hiding away in Pallet Town, so Misty would have no chance of ever running into him. Therefore, how can she believe him this time when he's making this promise in comparison to the extreme ones he's made in the past? In comparison to the ones she was sure he wouldn't break. The only real difference this time that she can rely on is their romantic relationship to each other. She'd be an idiot waiting for him again. Shutting her eyes for a nap, Misty thinks about how she really is the biggest idiot of all.

Once they arrive at the League, they both need to use the bathroom. Fortunately, talks of their future plans weren't spoken of anymore. When they neared the League, Misty reminded Ash what to expect and who to avoid. People come off as nice on the outside, but not all can be trusted. Thus, Misty usually just sticks with the Oaks. While others are not malicious, they just like to gossip. Leaf and Gary only tease Misty harmlessly when these other people don't care about the effect of their words.

Inside the bathroom, Ash is alone and washing his hands. He left Pikachu to patiently wait outside because Pokemon are not allowed in the bathrooms. When Ash hears the door open, someone asks, "Ash?"

Curiously turning his head, Ash spots a very tan man with squinty eyes and spiky hair, like a younger version of Brock. "Brock?"

Chuckling, the man walks up besides Ash. "It's Forest. Brock is in Hoenn. He said you visited for Annalise's birthday." Forest wanted to go to the birthday party too, but his wife was heavily pregnant with their first child.

"Oh. Uh. Yeah." Ash shyly smiles. "How are ya, Forest?"

"Doing good. How's the married life?"

"It's nice."

"I remember those honeymoon days."

"What?"

Forest grins at Ash. "The first few years of marriage are so nice and peaceful. Those newlywed days where your strong love can overcome anything."

"What are you talking about?" Ash is confused by Forest's words.

"I love my wife. Don't get me wrong. We just had our first baby." Who Forest will be returning to after this dinner. "But we had some of the worst arguments during our third year together. That's when your love is really tested. Aren't you in your third year right now?"

"Yeah, but we're good." Lies Ash. They are really in their third month of being together, and they did have a huge argument in the car earlier, making the rest of the drive awkward.

"Look, I'm not trying to scare you." Forest notices someone enter the bathroom, so he steps closer to whisper. "I promised Brock I'd look out for Misty when he left. She's been lonely, and while I've only seen her through the news, I haven't seen her this happy ever. Just don't ever forget how much you two love each other." Forest then pats Ash's shoulder before walking into a bathroom stall.

Glancing in confusion at the stall Forest entered, Ash awkwardly makes eye contact with the man at the urinal. In embarrassment, Ash quickly leaves the bathroom. He's mulling over Forest's words. Misty did say Forest is one of the few she trusts at these events, but she wasn't sure he'd be attending because he has a young son. Although Ash and Misty aren't really married, the love is real. Forest's words impact him a lot due to the uncertainty Misty and him will encounter in a few months.

Meanwhile, when Ash was in the bathroom, Misty surprisingly finished before him. The women's bathroom always has so many people inside, especially since the dinner is about to begin. Misty and Ash would've waited in the car until the last minute, but both had to use the bathroom badly. They haven't checked in for their nametags yet, so Misty is waiting for him.

In the bathroom, Misty was relieved to see Melody avoid her. Actually, Misty was more than relieved because Melody is always looking to pick on her. Did the whole airport incident make Melody finally realize she is no match for Misty and those on Misty's side? Whatever the case for Melody ignoring Misty, Misty will take it. That's one less migraine to worry about, especially since Misty has been trying to get Melody off her case for years.

"Misty Waterflower!"

Misty inwardly groans. Another person she's been trying to avoid is this guy who took over Blaine's gym years ago. She quickens her pace, but he grabs her arm to make her face his cheeky grin. "What is it, Rudy?"

Being from Trovita Island, Rudy easily adapted to the Cinnabar Island gym. When Misty first saw him at the gym leader meeting after he took over, he tried to ask her out again. Something about how Ash had left her, so she needs to move onto someone who actually values her. Obviously, this was not reciprocated well because Misty hit him with her mallet. Anyone bringing up her personal life is not something she wants to hear, even when it comes out of her personal friends' mouths. The fact that it came out of Rudy's after over a decade apart, was just arrogant. Misty knows about his impeding crush on her.

While she doesn't mind the crushes she gets, she does mind when they are negative. His comments about Ash back then irked her along with Rudy implying that she is living a boring life. She knows she lived a boring life, but he doesn't have the right to bring that up. The times she's seen him since that incident, Rudy has continuously tried shooting his shot at her. Unlike when they were younger, Rudy is a lot more arrogant and a fanboy. He's no Gary Oak, but at least Leaf could tame Gary. Misty isn't taming anyone, especially when she's not interested in them.

Plus, Rudy is a womanizer. Misty isn't even sure if he actually likes her or he just wants to sleep with her. They did date as children, and they got close to each other after a few short hours together. After seeing Rudy go home with multiple different women at various events, Misty knew he isn't the same person he once was. His good looks and his charms are paying off, which reminds her a lot of Gary before Gary met Leaf.

The last time she stayed for an afterparty, Rudy was so drunk that he kissed her. Thank Mew she had kissed someone before, so he wasn't her first kiss. However, the fact that he forced himself onto her made her practically beat him to death. He even grabbed her butt. Rudy is lucky security saved him. Even though he apologized for his drunk behavior, Misty still wanted nothing to do with him. Everything about him screamed that he isn't who she wants. He wasn't who she wanted years ago when he was nice, so he definitely isn't who she wants now.

Moreover, Leaf and Gary had pointed out that they don't think Misty should reciprocate Rudy's feelings. If the players are telling her something, some real advice they never give her, of course she's going to listen! Regardless of the Oaks' advice, Misty already had her own qualms about Rudy. The last time she was here, back in the fall when she ran into Ash without realizing it, Rudy tried to make a move on her again. He said something along the lines of how she's 30 and needs to settle down and stop being stuck up.

Well, after once again, beating him with her mallet, Misty stormed out of the stupid dinner that Gary and Leaf tricked her into going alone. She assumed they wanted her to mingle with someone and actually start dating. They know she can easily handle her own against weird men, like Rudy. Right before running into Rudy, Misty had met a mysteriously weird man, who she later found out was Ash, inside. She used him to hide from anyone, and despite his silence, she found that comforting.

After dealing with Rudy's rudeness, Misty decided that she wouldn't play nice at the stupid dinner any longer. No one there actually cared about her. Besides for Forest, but he has many friends. Due to leaving abruptly, Misty missed out on the whole 'Ash crashing the light during the dinner' thing. She was in the parking lot, angry at the world, her friends, and Rudy. Not wanting to drive under such emotions, she just leaned against her car to take in the fresh air. That was when she heard Delia's shouting, and the rest is history.

"You look beautiful, as always." Rudy smirks.

"I'm married." Misty shows her left hand with her glistening ring to remind him. Everyone knows she's married. This is her first League event since coming public with the marriage, so she's gotten plenty of whispers. Whispers are nothing new to the often absent gym leader.

"To a baby. Just divorce him and marry a real man." He steps too close for her comfort.

"Do you wanna get beat by my mallet again?" They are way too old to keep playing this game. Rudy needs to understand that she's not interested at all. She never will be. At this point, Misty figures he needs to score because of all the effort and pain he's put into trying to woo her. Either way, she is not interested.

Rudy raises his hands up defensively. "Hey. I just care about you. You're already so busy and stressed all alone at that gym, and now you have to take care of some grown man."

Rudy definitely doesn't watch the news, else he'd know about how Ash is always training outside. Rain, sleet, or snow, Ash trains every day in the yard. So much that the media grew bored of them after two months. Misty tries to step around him. "Find some other woman to bother." She's seen him leave these events with various different women. He should go woo some tool.

Annoyed, though he's being careful not to get hit by her mallet again, Rudy grabs her arm to make her face him once more. "Think about it, okay? What is he doing for you that you can't do yourself? Nothing. But I can give you so much more, Misty."

This time, Misty can't shake his hand off of her, so she just glares deeply into his amused eyes. "He makes me happy. You make me sick. Now let me go. This is your only warning."

Seeing Misty talking alone with a man, the media outside has honed in on them. Rudy steps closely, making Misty bite her bottom lip in frustration. If she shows any anger or violence, she will get more than a fine. The media and public backlash is not worth beating Rudy right now. At least Misty knows Rudy won't do anything excessive with the amount of eyes on them.

Fortunately for Misty, a strong familiar arm wraps around her waist, pulling her close to a warm body while a tan hand grabs Rudy's wrist. "Please don't touch my wife so causally, Rudy." Ash sweetly smiles through clenched teeth. In shock, Rudy drops his arms, allowing Misty to finally be free. Ash kisses the side of her face near her ear to whisper, "What?"

Grabbing his face to kiss his lips, Misty quietly responds, "Later." She then faces Rudy with her own sweet smile. "We need to check in. Don't bother me again, Rudy. Good bye." Luckily, the lobby is too small for all the people and the media. Thus, the media is outside where they can't hear anything inside.

"What was that?" Ash practically growls when they stand in line at the check-in table. Pikachu sparks his cheeks angrily from Ash's shoulder.

"Rudy's been trying to hit on me for years." Misty rolls her eyes. She didn't want to tell Ash this information because she thought Rudy would back off now that she's married. Obviously, nothing stops Rudy. Maybe now that Ash somewhat confronted him, Rudy will stop. Misty is surprised that Ash was very confident in that altercation. Her heart beats quicker remembering his arm still protectively around her waist. Protectively and intimate.

Feeling Misty melt in his hold, Ash relaxes. "Still? Couldn't you have warned me?"

"I thought he would stop now that I'm married." Misty apologetically mutters.

"Whatever. Let's just get through this." He doesn't mean to sound upset at her, but he just hates that she kept this from him. He would've been better prepared to handle Rudy. Also, it pisses Ash off how Rudy was holding onto Misty. Who does Rudy think he is? Touching and talking to someone's girlfriend like that? Hitting on someone's partner!

Misty frowns from his tone. She wants to call him out on it. To tell him to stop being so angry. To ask him what's wrong. To continue their conversation from the car before. Why is Ash acting like she is the nuisance? It's not fair. However, the many eyes on them prevents Misty from opening her mouth. She will take her anger out on him in private later. This is unacceptable when she's done nothing but help him.

Once they get their name tags, the two make their way inside. Gym leaders always sit around the middle of the room. The League officials and higher ups sit at the front. The select spectators and few reporters are in the back. Normally, Gary would be in the front, which is how Delia and Ash had those seats last time. Ash is glad to see his mother isn't here because he doubts he could hold this fake marriage together with her doting and the constant eyes on them.

Just like Misty had felt in the bathroom, Ash knows the whispers are about them as they make their way through the reception hall. The side eyes and quiet voices of those they pass. It's obvious Ash and Misty are the stars tonight due to this being their first League outing since their marriage was exposed. Even when Ash sits down and the few people at his table politely greet him, he still feels uncomfortable.

Not being new to these stares and whispers, Misty can tell Ash is nervous. While she is still upset at him, she isn't cruel enough to leave him when she can provide support. They both had tried to prepare him, but actually being in this is different. Therefore, she taps his thigh with her pinky. They are a couple, and they've held hands often. It's been months since they've tapped their pinkies on each other, but Misty finds this a fitting situation for pinky taps rather than hand holding. It's like back when they first were together and they would have to discreetly let each other know the support they have. They are a team while also being the only ones who really know about this marriage being fake here.

Feeling the light taps, Ash's thoughts break away for him to give her a grateful smile. To Misty's surprise, Ash doesn't tap her thigh back, like he used to. Instead, he slips his hand in hers to give it a squeeze. Regardless of the strife between them, they will always support each other. They will always love each other. Pikachu is oblivious to the couple because he's focused on the horderves being brought around.

"Misty!" the shout makes the couple and Pikachu look to see Erica approaching them.

Ash has heard from Misty that Erica is nice, though Erica oftentimes slips out information she shouldn't. Thus, Misty advised Ash to be careful what he says around Erica. Wanting to be friends with all females, Erica doesn't fully realize that some of the people she talks to will use the information she shares for maliciousness, like Melody.

"Hey, Erica." Misty fakes a smile.

"Hello, Ash." Erica nods in his direction. She's a lot better with men than when she was younger, though she still prefers being around women more. "I'm glad you're coming around more often this year." Misty rarely comes to these events. The fact that she's come to half of them this year shocks everyone.

"It's a change of scenery." Misty answers.

Feeling slightly uncomfortable from Misty's curt responses, Erica asks, "Are you gonna stay for the after party? It'll be nice to mingle with the other leaders too."

"No. We have plans, so we won't be staying long."

"Oh." Erica's smile drops a bit. "Well, uh, it was nice seeing you, Misty. Don't be a stranger!" Erica then heads off in search of someone who will actually hold a conversation with her.

"You could've been nicer." Ash mutters. Fortunately, their table quit giving them attention because the rest of the table is in their own discussion with others.

Misty rolls her eyes. "I'm not here to make friends, Ash. I tried that when I was younger, and I've come to realize that most people are selfish. I already have my trusted people." Why waste her time on those she doesn't care for and who don't really care for her either? Misty barely has time for the people she does care about.

"What if I wanna make friends?" He presses. "We should stay for the afterparty. I feel better, and I'd like to see if I can talk to some trainers."

Now, who is she to deny any requests from Ash? Especially when he's getting better? The Ash months ago would not have wanted to even come to this event. She has to let him interact with others later. Sighing, Misty gives him an annoyed look, "Fine, but if I say we leave, then we leave."

He obediently nods. "I don't mind." Ash doesn't want to stick around for too long. He assumes that people will be pretty wasted an hour in. Thus, he'll leave then when they're too incoherent to understand.

"Pi!" Pikachu is also excited that Ash is more social again.

Soon, the opening remarks begin by Director Goodwin. Because the tournament starts on Monday, the Elite Four and Champion are excused from any responsibilities at this event. It's all run by Director Goodwin and some other League officials. There is always one celebration once the tournament season finally ends, though that is optional for gym leaders. Right now, a staff member is going through a slide on what gym leaders should do with their gym to close it for the season. Ash recalls him and Misty already doing some of the tasks, which he assumes must be the same every year.

"Also, let's not forget to triple-check and send in all trainer documents before the end of the tournament. We wouldn't want a repeat of last year." Director Goodwin narrows his eyes at Lt. Surge who mutters in annoyance under his breath.

"What happened last year?" Ash whispers to Misty. Being a recluse, he had no idea.

Sighing, Misty replies, "Some kid last year has the same exact name and is born the same year as another kid. Well, only Kid 1 didn't earn all the gym badges, but in the system, it showed he did. He couldn't beat Surge, but Surge mixed up his file with Kid 2, who did beat him. But Kid 2 also didn't have all 8 badges, so Kid 2 didn't even compete in the tournament."

Misty sheepishly rubs the back of her head because she hates outing anyone. "Anyway, someone in the back office found the error because the birthdays and trainer IDs were different from what Surge put down." She furrows her brows angrily. "But the League pinned it on Surge rather than Kid 1 who dishonorably still competed knowing he never earned all the badges." Every trainer eligible for the competition receives an email, which is why Misty was so busy the past few weeks getting in all trainer information in time. "They had to disqualify the kid, and it was a whole thing with the public for the whole summer."

"Oh." Ash blinks. That sounds intense. Now all the times Misty would nag him for looking at trainer IDs makes sense. Sometimes, he'd also go by names because it's easier to remember inputting information. Misty would get really peeved about that.

The lecture is making Ash tired. At least the food is really good. Good enough he finished Misty's plate because she rarely ends. Lately, Ash's appetite is huge. Not to the point it once was at, but he's eating more than just for survival. Misty has to be sure to have snacks and cook a little extra. Like when he was younger, Ash can eat a lot and still not gain a pound. Eventually, they are allowed an intermission, meaning they are halfway through the conference. Everyone gets up to stretch their limbs. Being a gym leader is a lot of work, but the promise of free play afterwards is what keeps them going.

The second half, according to Misty, will be more boring because there won't be any food to keep them preoccupied. Just waiters walking around with platters of horderves. It'll mostly be just listening and reflecting. There was a time the League would make the gym leaders sit together and reflect. However, the feedback they got for that was overwhelming about how the gym leaders are not school children. That they just need to get through the procedures and policies and call it a day. Thus, after much strife for a few years, Director Goodwin finally caved to just talking at the gym leaders rather than with 's easier work for him.

"I'm gonna use the bathroom. Do you need to go?" Misty faces him.

"Yeah." Ash chuckles seeing the line forming at the women's room. "Pretty sure I'll be out long before you."

Rolling her eyes, Misty makes her way over to the line. "Stay out of trouble, Ketchum."

He watches her stand in the line where she sticks her tongue out at him playfully. Ash can't help but break out in a grin. "Pikapi." teases Pikachu, making Ash blush.

"Shut up!"

"Pi!" Pikachu laughs.

Ash narrows his eyes at the mouse. "I knew I should've had Charizard take you to Pallet Town first."

"Pi pikachu pi pichu pika pikapi."

"I can manage just fine." Pikachu only stuck around for instances where Misty and Ash would be separated. That way, Ash won't be alone because Pikachu will be looking out for him.

"Chu." Pikachu skeptically answers as Ash walks into the men's room, leaving Pikachu to scurry over and keep Misty company in line. Like Misty and Ash, Pikachu doesn't understand why the women in the restroom take so much time. The men never have a line, and there are slightly more of them than the women. "Pikachupi." Pikachu nuzzles against Misty's cheek.

Giggling, the redhead scratches him behind the ears. "Thanks for being my friend, Pikachu."

"Pi pikachu!" He's not allowed in the restrooms, so he may as well hang out with Misty.

"Good thing I don't need to go that badly."

After a couple of minutes, Ash exits the bathroom to see Misty is nearing the front of the line. He feels bad for her having to wait, especially since he knows she won't be long. The women really need more bathrooms here. Ash doesn't get why they need to reapply their makeup this often and for this long. Eventually, Misty makes her way inside, so Pikachu rejoins Ash.

"What were you two talking about?" Ash questions the mouse who smirks at him.

Pikachu doesn't tease Misty. He'll tease her as a pair with Ash, but he doesn't tease her alone. Pikachu has noticed that Psyduck likes to laugh at Misty occasionally while Pikachu does the same to Ash. "Chu." Pikachu shrugs, causing Ash to narrow his eyes at Pikachu.

"I really should send you home first." he mutters.

Before Pikachu can make a snide remark, a voice behind them gets their attention. "I was wondering where you ran off to."

Ash inwardly groans from the voice he recognizes. Turning his head slightly to make sure the person is talking to him, Ash meets smug brown eyes. "What do you want, Rudy?"

Rudy steps up to Ash. The lobby is crowded due to the intermission and people mingling, though there are people inside the reception too. "Misty." Earlier, Rudy was too stunned to counter Ash; thus, allowing Ash and Misty room to run off. Rudy has been plotting the whole first half of the meeting on how he'd approach Misty again. Seeing Ash, Rudy figures he may as well go to the next best person. Rudy doesn't want Ash getting any ideas about scaring off Rudy. Rudy Ziggy never backs down from anyone.

Ash narrows his eyes at the gym leader. Ash is an inch or two taller than Rudy, but Rudy doesn't care. "She's with me. Back off."

"You don't deserve her. You never did, and you definitely don't now that you're a loser."

"Pi!" Pikachu sparks his cheeks warily at Rudy who throws his hands up in defense.

"I don't fight the weak." Rudy exclaims.

Knowing that this is not something he wants to get involved in, despite being heavily pissed, Ash turns to walk away. He won't waste his breath on Rudy. There are too many people out here as well as some reporters. Any attention, especially negative, is something he and Misty want to avoid. They're lucky that the media hasn't bothered them much since they arrived. It has been almost a year since the marriage was announced, so Ash and Misty are kind of old news now.

"Hey. Why don't we do a swap?" Rudy catches up to Ash. "I'm sure Misty isn't putting out for you. I'll get you some nice sexy girl tonight, and you just get Misty to listen to me for once."

"Fuck off, Rudy." growls Ash.

"Like I said, you don't deserve her, Ash. But she doesn't deserve you more." The sly man speaks. "She never has time for anything, and she's so uptight. Let me take her off your hands."

"Watch it."

"Or else what?" Rudy challenges as Ash now glares into his eyes. "You gonna have Misty come rescue your sorry ass again?"

"She's with me. Get over it already."

"Well, when you get bored of her, toss her my way."

"She's not someone's possession! And I love her!" He'll never get bored of Misty.

Seeing Ash get more agitated, Rudy's smirk grows as Pikachu too glares at him. "She's basically the League's possession. All she does is work." He notes. "Maybe I'll push for Director Goodwin to have Misty come help me with Cinnabar Island's water Pokemon problems?" Rudy smugly smiles while Ash is clenching his fists angrily.

Ash knows Misty would go if the League ordered her to, especially if they threatened her. "I'll come with her. She won't be alone with you again."

Chuckling, Rudy claps Ash's shoulder, the one away from Pikachu. "Someone will need to watch her gym while she is gone. Guess it'll have to be her lame husband." Rudy winks. "That just leaves Misty with me...Alone."

"Pop!" The moment Rudy whispers that last word suggestively, Ash's fist connects with the gym leader's jaw.

Pikachu leaps off of Ash's shoulder to try and get Ash away from Rudy who now also throws hits back. "Pikapi!"

People are yelling and screaming as they clear a ring around the men. The media is having a field day trying to get good pictures and videos. Gasps and calls for security can be heard, but the men are only focused on pummeling each other. The crowd around them is too thick for even security to get in..

Thus, by the time Misty gets out of her stall to surprisingly see the bathroom is pretty empty, she thinks intermission ended. Going out into the lobby, she's surprised by the large crowd, though she wants no part in whatever could be inside. It's most likely someone showing off again, so she'll just text Ash to find her inside the reception hall.

Passing Surge, who is leaning by the doorframe, on her way into the reception, Surge nonchalantly mutters, "You're not gonna break them up?"

Misty curiously looks around. Is he talking to her? They only communicate when they have to, which is professionally. Lt. Surge likes to keep to himself. He's a gym leader for the battles, so he hates the business part of it. "Are you talking to me?"

"You're the only one around." Lt. Surge does not want to watch a bunch of amateurs fight. It's boring, but he is interested to see what security does once they get through the crowd.

"What are you talking about?" Misty also doesn't like talking to Surge because he talks to people inferiorly.

Rolling his eyes, Surge points to the screaming crowd. "Rudy and your husband are killing each other."

Rudy? Misty blinks in confusion as she tries to process the words. Her husband? Wait. Her husband is Ash! That's what this stupid circle is about? She instantly sprints over to push her way through. Security is still struggling, but Misty is on a mission. Therefore, she pisses off a lot of people along the way, but when they start to realize it's her, a path is cleared. Just like the media, these famous people live off of drama. They all want to see the love triangle.

Once Misty is inside the small circle of people, she spots Pikachu on Rudy's head, blinding Rudy with his tail. At least Pikachu knows not to use electric attacks with the many people around them. Misty's attention, though, is on the bloody man on the ground who Rudy is on top off. Ash is still struggling to hit Rudy who is just swinging blindly now. Fortunately, it doesn't look like Rudy will hurt Pikachu.

Fed up with the scene, Misty shoves Rudy, which is just enough to knock him off of Ash. Pikachu topples to the ground too. Noticing Misty, he doesn't attack Rudy again. Seeing Ash sit up to wipe his bloody nose, the furious redhead is relieved that he's okay. She glares at Rudy's angry annoyed eyes. "What the fuck, Rudy!" Screw the media.

"He hit me first!" Rudy points past Misty at Ash who clicks his tongue. "Why are you with that loser? I'm a gym leader like you! He left you and forgot about you!"

"I don't need to explain myself to you." Misty seethes.

"He's just gonna keep holding you back, Misty!"

"Shut up!" Ash barks, but Misty now turns on him to grab his collar.

"We will talk later, Ash. Just shut up right now!" She then shoves him back to the ground as she returns her attention to Rudy. "Who I choose to be with is my choice. You better stop trying to talk to me already. I wasn't interested 20 years ago, and I'm definitely not interested now." Misty grabs Ash's arm to drag him away now that security has breached the circle.

With his ego hurting, Rudy shouts, "It's a fake marriage! I've never seen you with anyone, and it doesn't make sense." Security grabs Rudy to pick him off the ground. He points at the reporters. "I'm sure if you do enough digging, you'll find the evidence." The media gave in too quickly back then. They believed Misty and Ash's story, which was partly due to Daisy's video. With the public loving the mysterious couple, then the media catered to that.

Knowing that engaging in this conversation now will definitely not be a good idea, Misty doesn't say anything. She digs her nails into Ash's wrist to let him know to keep quiet too. "Don't say a fucking word." She whispers to Ash as Pikachu follows them in annoyance.

"Why would an accomplished beauty like Misty be with this loser who fell off?"

Alright. Talking won't help. It never does with Rudy. However, one thing usually keeps him off her back for a while, so Misty releases Ash to slap Rudy. The crowd gasps while Misty growls, "I will always choose Ash over you. You're not even half the man he is!"

Security drags Rudy away, and Misty feels a hand on her shoulder. "Mrs. Waterflower, please come peacefully." The guard asks. Misty spots another guard approaching Ash while Pikachu sparks his cheeks warily.

Sighing, Misty says, "You know he deserved it."

"Yes, but these are the rules."

"Just fine me later."

Normally, the security officer would arrest those who get into fights, but knowing that Misty isn't a trouble maker, he just defeatedly lets her go. Everyone knows that Rudy is arrogant and deserves a beating. "You probably shouldn't come back until this gets cleared up." Else, he'll have to arrest them.

"Everyone knows I hate these things." Most of security is keeping the reporters back, so Misty runs over to grab Ash and flee down an empty hall. At least now she has an excuse to leave this stupid meeting, though whatever slim chances she had at being an Elite Four member are gone now.

"How come they're not arresting us?" Ash asks when he doesn't see anyone for some time.

"Because I have built a respectable reputation for myself." She tightens her grip on his wrist to let him know that he's still in trouble. "The moment we get outside, call out Charizard for us to take off." She's sure the media have every exit covered. They'll need to make a quick getaway.

"Misty-"

"Save it." She snaps. They need to get somewhere private for her to berate him. Misty already knows the news is going to be flooded with this. Just when she wanted to avoid any negative publicity.

Pikachu hops onto Ash's shoulder, and once they're outside, Ash releases Charizard. Charizard blows an intense angry flame to make the reporters back off while Ash and Misty climb onto him. When they're finally in the air, Ash quietly asks, "Where to?"

The parking lot is flooded with reporters, especially near their car. Misty doubts they'd even be able to drive off if they went to the car. She doesn't want to go to Pallet Town now and subject Delia to all of this. Plus, Misty would rather not leave her car with her luggage here. "I don't know. Not too far. We'll come back after things die down."

"Will it die down?" Ash is pretty sure the media is persistent.

"Don't question me. You're the reason we're in this mess. Again!"

Wincing, Ash keeps his gaze ahead while Charizard wonders where he should fly. "That place we used to train." Ash informs the lizard who nods.

Misty is curious about where Ash is taking them. She's not surprised he's been to Mt. Silver before, though Mt. Silver is huge. Justy what part does Ash know? Does anyone else know he used to train there? Misty quickly shakes her head of the thought. Right now, she's supposed to stay angry that he caused trouble again.

During the whole flight, Ash can just feel Misty's gaze piercing his back. Does he deserve it? Kind of. Well, Rudy was being an ass, but Ash should've held himself back. One small moment of happiness giving Rudy a taste of his own medicine isn't worth the intense backlash they'll have from the public this week. Ash should know this better than anyone, yet he once again put someone he loved through this mess.

Gazing down at the fake wedding band, Ash sighs. He's worn it for so long, he's forgotten about it. Even when he and Misty first signed papers and got the rings, Ash didn't think much of it because the whole relationship was fake. Now, he's wishing he put more time into everything involving this relationship that is very real now. A relationship he never wants to lose.

Soon, Charizard lands, and Ash extends a hand to help Misty off, but she ignores it. Pikachu worriedly jumps on Ash's shoulder. "Pikapi."

"I know." Ash whispers back fearfully. He then grabs Pikachu to place back on Charizard. "Go rest, guys. Uh. Misty and I should probably talk alone." The woman has already walked off to the cliff side, so Ash doesn't feel as uncomfortable talking to his Pokemon.

"Chu." Pikachu nods as Charizard lays down for a nap.

Glancing over at the redhead, Ash lets out a nervous breath. She hasn't said anything since grabbing him from the scuffle. Okay. It was more than a scuffle, but he was mad. Taking in a deep breath, Ash slowly approaches her. She's stopped walking, and her eyes are overlooking the view. Feeling a breeze, Ash notices Misty doesn't have her jacket. He recalls her hanging it up on her seat in the reception hall, which is obviously still there. Thus, he takes off his suit jacket to place around her shoulders when he finally reaches her.

With her gaze still on the view, Misty quietly mutters, 'It's beautiful."

Ash nods. "Yeah. It's my favorite place." The land is large and flat enough for training, but the rocky mountain side is nearby too for running and climbing. Moreover, this part of Mt. Silver overlooks much of the west side of Kanto. Viridian City can be seen easily. In the distance, Pallet Town's faint lighting is illuminated by the lab. If one really looks, they can spot a glimpse of Pewter City.

The two continue watching the night lights in silence for some time, just enjoying the view, until Misty softly says, "Thanks."

Thanks? Ash now turns his attention back to her where he still sees she isn't looking away from the view. Why is she thanking him? Nevertheless, she's the one who finally broke the silence, so he quickly stammers, "I'm sorry, Misty! I shouldn't have hit him, but I wa-"

Warm lips on his stops Ash as he feels Misty's slender arms wrap around his neck. Her body is pressed closely to his, and she deepens their kiss, which Ash happily reciprocates. This is a lot better than being beaten by her mallet. Unlike with their usual kisses, occasionally, they will share a kiss that is just like this: sensible, light on the heart, and heavy on the love. When they both have to separate for air, their foreheads are resting on one another as they each share slightly small nervous smiles.

Misty's soft tender hands grab Ash's right hand, and she rubs her fingers over his sore knuckles. Her gaze never leaves his enticing compassionate brown eyes. "I love you."

"I love you too, Mist." Ash's smile grows along with hers.

"Rudy deserved that." She giggles. Misty doubts Rudy will try to bother her again after getting into a fight that the media is most likely already running all over the region right now.

Apologetically looking at her, Ash replies, "I'm s-"

Kiss. She kisses him again because he has nothing to apologize for. Rudy really needed a beating, and Misty has been too soft on him using her mallet. Ash really gave it to Rudy, even though it looked like Rudy was winning the fight when Misty arrived. "I'm thankful, so don't apologize, Ash."

"But the media, and the Elite Four, and-" Kiss. Both of them are blushing profusely. Although Ash loves her kisses, he really wants her to know that he understands what he did wrong. She may not be mad at him, but he's disappointed in himself.

"Like I always tell you: I can handle the media."

News topics always go away eventually. Something like a brawl between her husband and some gym leader trying to woo her won't last long. This is mainly because there is no scandal. Misty left with her husband, and Misty slapped Rudy. It'll just look like a one sided relationship on Rudy's end, or Rudy will look bad for trying to court a married woman. If the media somehow tries to spell out the story differently, Misty will just let them run their imagination. It's not the first time she's been involved in unwanted publicity, and it won't be the last.

"But the Elite Four." Pouts Ash with a whimper.

Sighing, despite his cuteness, Misty pecks his lips again. "There's no guarantee that a position will open up. Jimmy still needs to win the Johto tournament, beat the Elite Four, and then beat the champion. It's a lot."

"But it's doable." That's how a champion is crowned.

She rolls her eyes. "Chances are slim, Ash. That's why the champion is in the position for years." The average reign of a champion is 15 years.

"But there's a chance, Mist." presses the man. "There's always a chance at everything." He doesn't like her counting out something near impossible because that's not who Misty is. She's always believed in him. She's always strived to be the greatest, so he wants her to get there. Plus, with him wanting to be a Pokemon Master, Ash knows that chance is nearly impossible too, but he won't give up.

Feeling his finger close over her palm makes Misty stop objecting. Ash is right. There's a chance. She knew the chance was slim, yet she still applied and put effort into the application. She knew meeting Ash again was slim, but they happened to meet. She thought being in a relationship with Ash would be impossible, yet they are happily dating right now. Regardless of how impossible something looks, Misty understands that she at least has a chance if she applies herself. Else, neglecting the opportunity, will really make her chances impossible.

"Well, whatever happened happened, Ash. There's no use dwelling over it now."

If they were to go back in time, Misty would still let Ash pummel Rudy. "Hopefully, the League picks the most suitable person to replace Jimmy." Misty doesn't know how many people applied or who. Also, the League does like to play favorites, and, like any large institution, politics are heavily involved. Misty's decades of disregard for the League most likely means she wasn't even going to get the position anyway. Ash's fight has nothing to do with that when she's not even on the League's list of candidates.

"I still feel bad."

"Don't." Misty sharply tells him with a suggestive smile. "Unless you don't want me to stop kissing you?" Mew. Her cheeks are hot. She never flirts, even with Ash.

His own face is radiating heat too as Ash stumbles over his thoughts and words. "Uh, I-um, wha-what?"

Kiss. It's a quick kiss that she actually separates her body from him this time, much to his dismay. "Just kidding." Mutters the embarrassed redhead who sits on the grass.

Taking a seat beside her after he takes in the situation, Ash softly replies, "What if I don't want you to stop?"

He's kidding, right? Misty said she was despite feeling like quite the opposite. She's been checking out Ash in his suit all day. His chiseled jaw, long neck, broad shoulders. Mew. When he brings his arms up even the slightest of bends, she can see a faint outline of his bicep. All that training these past couple of months have paid off well for Ash. Now that he's in a suit, he just looks utterly handsome and sexy. Unlike with the last time they were at the League, Ash is more confident, and he's walking with his head held up rather than slumping his shoulders. He really looked like he belonged at the League, and Misty hopes he will be there someday too.

Ash's lips on her own causes Misty's thoughts to disappear, like they always do when she kisses Ash. She never knew she could love him any more, but he seems to prove her wrong every day. Deepening the kiss with his tongue, Ash leans towards Misty. Their eyes are shut while they makeout with one another, both of their tongues fighting for dominance. Feeling one of her hands cup his cheek, Ash breaks out in a smile through the kisses.

This is all he wants. This feeling right here with this very woman as they overlook their home region. He's content. He's happy. After his breakup with his ex, Ash didn't think he deserved to be happy again. That he was supposed to be alone. That he wasn't supposed to love or be loved again. Misty has shown him that he was wrong, and she reminds him about this every moment they're together. How this woman could love him and only him for all these years, he doesn't feel worthy. Nevertheless, he finally has her, so he won't risk losing her again. Now that he's finally understood his own feelings, Ash knows this relationship is meant to be. He won't have to go through heartbreak again.

Therefore, Ash has made up his mind pertaining to their conversation in the car earlier. He's staying with her. If she tries to push him away to travel because she believes it's his dream, he won't. He'd rather be happy than a Pokemon Master. These past few years have taught him that. And he's happiest with Misty. They're over 30 now. All he wants is to spend every moment with her as a real married couple.

Ash knows bringing this up now will just piss off Misty because she'll feel like she's holding him back. He already dodged a bullet with the fight earlier, so he'll wait until she brings up the conversation again. Right now, he just wants to enjoy kissing his girlfriend at one of his favorite scenic places after he punched a punk. Ash ketchum feels like he's on top of the world. Literally and figuratively, which he knows is all thanks to Misty.

Misty giggling makes Ash break away slightly from their makeout session. "What's so funny?"

"I was just thinking…" Misty manages between laughs. "We're actually playing hooky." How the thought came to her, she has no idea. It was random. One moment, she's blindly making out with Ash. The next, she's thinking about how happy she is that they're not at that suffocating event. The atrocious afterparty should be starting soon.

Letting her words sink in, Ash too laughs with her. "Wow. I guess we are." All those times they've jokingly brought up ditching responsibilities, knowing fully well that they weren't, has finally happened. If they had to play hooky at an event, it has to be this one. This stupid League event that's for show and very pointless where everyone is fake.

Moreover, while Ash used to be a recluse who avoided all responsibilities, this past year, he's been trying to go out as much as possible. Every outing would help him grow and feel better about himself. Every event he wanted to hide from has made him stronger. Along with Misty's love and care, Ash really feels like himself again. Well, almost. There's still something missing, and he can't quite figure that out.

After a few more hours overlooking the city, absentminded chatter, and a few occasional makeout sessions, Misty deems it a good time to return to their car. It's late, so the media must be sparse. Also, those at the afterparty, including Rudy and Melody, are most likely wasted. The majority of the guests have probably already left too, which is also why the media should be light now. The attention must now be on which celebrity will make a drunk fool of themselves rather than Misty's love triangle.

Just like Misty predicted, the reporters are mainly by the League building instead of the parking lot. To avoid being spotted, Ash and Misty flew back on Noivern who doesn't have a glowing tail in the night. Being the better more experienced driver, Misty quickly hops in the driver seat to speed them as far away from the League as possible before anyone can spot them and try to stop them. Fortunately, they make a clean getaway.

About halfway through the long drive down the mountain and partly through Viridian City, Ash yawns loudly again for the umpteenth time. "I don't think I can make it home right now." He's about to fall asleep. Today was such an eventful day. It's a good thing Misty is driving.

Also feeling fatigued, Misty agrees, though they're only a little over an hour away from Pallet Town. "I'll wake you when we get there." Pikachu is dozing in the backseat.

Feeling bad about making her once again do the tough drive, Ash faces her. "Let's just get a hotel or something." Once the words leave his mouth, a faint pink blush appears on his cheeks.

Misty keeps her gaze on the road despite her own flushed face. "It's fine. We're near Pallet Town anyway." Her voice squeaks a bit. "Besides, I doubt they'll be any available rooms." Too many people are here waiting for the start of the tournament on Monday. That and the many League workers at the afterparty right now.

Sighing, Ash knows she's right. He already regrets asking about a hotel room. That's how they got into this mess months ago. Well, it's not really a mess anymore, but it was at the time. "We're halfway, right? I can drive the rest of the way."

She scoffs at his cuteness. "Thanks, but no, Ash. You can barely keep your eyes open." He's also a new driver. Luckily, there's not much traffic leaving the League, like there was going to it.

He sheepishly rubs the back of his head. "Heh. I guess you should drive."

"You can make it up to me by driving the whole way back later?" They plan to be in Pallet Town for a week. Maybe even longer depending on how things go.

Saluting her, Ash proudly grins. "I got you!"

Misty can't help but giggle at his playfulness. She sees more of it as they deepen their relationship. He really is almost back to his old self. "Go to sleep, idiot."

"I'm not an idiot!" Pouts Ash.

"You've always been an idiot." Misty looks in the mirror to see Pikachu is still sleeping. She knows her Pika pal would agree with her.

Ash rolls his eyes, not as tired anymore. "You're dating an idiot, so what does that make you?"

"So you admit you're an idiot?"

He groans as her smirk grows. "Can't you just give me one, Mist?"

"I let you beat Rudy." Even though it looked like Rudy was winning that fight.

"I meant one against you."

"I have three older sisters whose sole purpose in life is to tease me. You will never win at arguments against me."

"I like a challenge."

Misty's blush returns to her face because he really is like the Ash she remembers. "Just go to sleep already."

"Nah. I'm awake now. I gotta beat you."

Thus, the two engage in playful banter and don't even realize how long it's been until they pull up to Delia's house. Misty was slightly worried the media would be here expecting her and Ash. It's very late at night, so she's glad the reporters have some sense to leave the older woman alone, though Misty is sure Mr. Mime could handle a few reporters. Ash grabs the suitcase while Misty picks up the sleeping Pikachu. They tiptoe their way silently inside the still house and into Ash's room.

"I need a shower." mutters the woman as she places Pikachu on a pillow.

"Me too." Ash yawns. It's very early in the morning right now, but they both feel sweaty, and they were laying on the dirt earlier.

Letting Misty shower first because there's only one shower in his house, Ash makes his way over to his sock drawer. He pulls out the small box that doesn't feel as heavy as he remembers. Despite fighting the urge to open it, he does. All resolve he had when he opened the drawer is gone as he sadly gazes at the glistening ring. While he loves Misty, and he's over his ex, this ring means more than his love for his ex. There's still a lot of pain he can't part with, and this ring is what's left of that. Thus, Ash hurriedly replaces the box deep in the drawer before Misty can see him looking at it. That would just ruin this memorable day they've had.

Later, Ash returns from his shower to spot Misty under his covers. Drying his wet hair with his towel, he asks, "Where's Pikachu?" The pillow Pikachu was on is empty, and he doesn't spot any yellow.

Misty is reading one of her many messages on her pokenav, which she was doing while waiting for Ash. She's trying to ignore the League and other officials, but she can't ignore her friends. Maybe her sisters? But the Sensational Sisters have taken up her voicemail and inbox the most. Although Misty knows to ignore her pokenav after being the center of the media spotlight, she always checks it at the end of the day just in case there is something important. There isn't. Besides for her face being plastered all over the internet right now along with Rudy's and Ash's.

"He woke up a few minutes ago and went to sleep with your mom." Answers the woman nonchalantly as her heart races again. Really, Pikachu said he was tired of watching them make out, and he didn't want to be here in case more happened. Plus, he misses Delia, so it's a win-win for him.

"Oh." Ash is mentally cursing Pikachu for leaving him alone with Misty. The only thing that stopped the adults from doing anything further on Mt. Moon was the Pokemon. Now, Ash and Misty are completely alone in their pajamas. Taking in a deep breath, hoping she didn't notice, though her gaze is still on her pokenav, Ash heads to his closet.

When he pulls out his sleeping bag, Misty finally sets her pokenav to the side. "What are you doing?"

"Sleeping." He innocently answers.

"But why on the ground?" They each have hot blushes on their faces, but Misty doesn't want Ash sleeping on the floor anymore. He shouldn't. They've slept in the same bed before, so this is no different.

"Uh. It's proper?" How can he explain this? As much as Ash would love to sleep beside Misty, he doubts he can control himself. Her beauty and warmth melt him. She compels his body to act on it's own, all thought gone. Ash doesn't want to harm someone who means the world to him.

"We're dating, Ash. We can sleep in the same bed." C'mon, idiot! Get the hint already! She just wants to fall asleep in his arms tonight. That's it. They're both too exhausted to do anything, and they won't. Not with Delia a few doors down. "I'm not taking your bed from you."

"You've done it before."

"That's because we weren't dating."

"It's worse now that we are."

"Nothing will happen! Just come to bed already."

His ears are burning, and his heart is thumping uncontrollably. "I can't, Misty! I don't think I can control myself." admits the embarrassed man, making Misty silently watch him.

Just like Ash, Misty's face rivals her hair color, and her heart hasn't stopped racing since he walked in. Even though Misty knows the suggestiveness that comes with being in the same bed, she really thinks they'll be okay just sleeping tonight. However, she doesn't mind if something more happens.

Hearing Ash admit that he also is thinking of her in the same way makes Misty get up. Ash's eyes are on the floor to avoid looking at her dangerously desirable cerulean orbs. Once Misty grabs his hand gently, she easily leads him to the bed. Due to not wanting to talk about the embarrassing topic, both adults are just listening to the pounding in their chests. Eventually, they are laying as far apart as possible on the bed.

"Good night, Ash."

"Good night, Misty." Ash practically whispers after a few seconds. Why does this feel more awkward than before they were dating? After a few minutes, Ash's fatigue is finally taking over his body, he then feels heat radiating on his back, which can only be one other being. "Mi-"

"Don't turn around." She had felt his body shifting towards her, so she stopped him. If he turns around, Misty isn't sure she can control herself.

Letting out a nervous breath, Ash allows her to tenderly hold onto his shirt. "Alright."

Misty nervously fidgets as she softly traces little circles on his back. Always wanting to be near him, especially as she talks to him right now, Misty is once again, ignoring the reason in her head. The reason that told Ash 'good night' first and is screaming at her to go back to her side of the bed and sleep already. Nonetheless, Misty doesn't want to end this perfect day. Regardless of all the mishap and annoyance today, she finds it perfect because she got to see just how important she is to Ash. More important than she thought.

"I, um…"

Why does she sound so small? Ash hates that. The Misty he knows is loud and proud. Obnoxiously annoying. Not this quiet and timid. He loves her best as herself. Worry fills him, causing his blush to cool again. What could Misty want to talk to him about that is making her act like this?

Before he can open his mouth, she continues, "I'm really happy, Ash." Misty finally breathes out, and Ash can feel her warm breath on his neck. "I don't remember the last time I was this happy, and it's scary. Like what if this all goes away? I don't think I can go back."

This past year was stressful, but fun. Misty hasn't had fun in years. Occasionally, she'd have fun with her family and friends, though most of the time, Misty was a serious worker. Despite still being a serious worker, she finds life a lot more fulfilling and enjoyable. The past few weeks have shown her the most happiness, which she knows is all due to Ash. This feeling of life again is all because of Ash.

The moment she sat next to him on that League bench in the fall, Misty's life was thrown upside down once more. Her life is always being thrown around with Ash as the cause. When she happened to fish him out of that river, when she had to stop traveling with him, and every time she got to reconnect with him. Ash has always impacted her life for the better whenever he's in it. Misty is scared she'll lose this happiness again, like all the times they'd separate. She doubts she can endure it another time, though she wants him to accomplish his dream.

The silence is deafening, making Misty worried that she might have scared off Ash. They've only been dating a few months, and he is her first romantic relationship. Is she coming off as too strong? That was not her intention at all. One of her biggest regrets, besides stopping her travels with him, was never letting him know her true feelings. She always allowed her fear to stop her, even though she had a good feeling she would never see Ash again anyway.

Since she's deep in thought over her worries, Misty doesn't notice Ash turn around until he's fully facing her. With his striking alluring brown eyes on her slightly nervous expectant blue ones, he slowly brings a hand up to tilt her chin. Ash has never been one for words. The last few years, he was a recluse who just couldn't socialize. Prior to being a recluse, Ash has always been an act first, think later kind of guy. He's all about actions rather than words. Actions do mean a lot more than words too, so rather than try to formulate his feelings to her, he acts on it.

Relaxing as she registers what's going on, Misty isn't anxious anymore. Instead, she shuts her eyes to kiss him back. It's just like on Mt. Silver: sensible, light on the heart, and heavy on the love. Actually, it's a lot better than on Mt. Silver. So much that Misty deepens the kiss with her tongue. Both or their raggedly hot breaths intertwine along with their bodies, neither one wanting to separate from the other. Ash's hand moves to cup Misty's cheek, and Misty runs her hand through the hair on the back of Ash's head.

Pretty soon, the blanket falls to the side, forgotten, as Ash is hovering over Misty, pressing her against the bed. Every kiss and touch is electrifying, sending shivers throughout their bodies. The racing pounding in their chests is setting the speed for their fervent kisses. While their salivas mix, their tongues are wrestling. When Ash playfully nibbles on Misty's bottom lip, she moans, causing his body to throb with excitement.

Misty manages to slip off Ash's shirt, and everything she's imagined can be felt while she runs her fingers along his naked torso. She helps Ash take off her shirt, a shirt that is actually his, but she likes wearing his clothes. Cupping her exposed hip, Ash is too lost in the heat of the moment to even comprehend what they're doing. The very thing he told Misty is the reason he was going to sleep on the ground.

It is only when he feels her tug at his shorts does he remember what they're doing, but just a bit. His heart and body are still winning this war with his head. Thus, through the hungry kisses, Ash mumbles, "Condom?" While it is his room, he doesn't have any. Ash has never planned to have sex in his mother's house, and he was an adult by the time he was in a relationship.

Misty furrows her brows. "It's your room." She replies without slowing their kisses.

Reluctantly forcing himself away before his body takes over again, Ash heads for the forgotten sleeping bag on the ground. The disappointed redhead pulls the blanket over her naked chest as she blinks at Ash's retreating figure in confusion. She watches him lay out the sleeping bag and get in. What just happened? Now that they're not in a steamy hot makeout session anymore, reason is returning to her.

"Ash?"

"Night." Mew. If he says her name or even thinks about anything pertaining to her, he doubts he can stop himself from pouncing on her right now. His whole body is painfully aching for her, but he can't. He can't do this to Misty because she means too much to him.

Unfortunately for Ash, Misty is feeling rejected and angry. She needs an explanation. "What's going on?" No response. Furious, Misty wraps the blanket around her and storms over to Ash. "Ash Ketchum!"

The man fearfully opens his eyes at the beauty glaring down at him. Although this is a very scary look she's giving him, Ash is currently fighting every inch of his body telling him to quell her anger with what they were doing before. "Please just go to sleep."

"No! Just what was that? You kissed me! And then you stop? That's not fair!"

Does he have to spell it out for her? Mew. Ash blushes and brings an arm up to shield his eyes from her. He can't keep looking at her, picturing those naked breaks under the blanket. "We don't have protection."

"I can take Plan B in the morning." Small town Pallet Town has to have it. Or, worst case scenario, Gary must have some in a drawer somewhere. Gary Oak is the last resort. Misty would rather drive to Saffron City than go to Gary for Plan B.

Ash shakes his head. "Don't wanna risk it." He also doesn't want her messing up the hormones in her body because of him. Misty already does enough for him.

Along with his lack of eye-contact, that's still not acceptable enough of an answer for her, so she growls, "Plan B is over 90% effective if I take it the morning after." Misty has never used it before. Well, she's never had sex before because she's been a busy gym leader who has only loved him. However, her sisters have taken it plenty of times (A/N: Not a good thing), and none of them got pregnant when they didn't want to be.

Groaning from her and his body, Ash grumbles out, "But there's still the chance."

"There's still a chance with a condom too."

"A smaller chance."

"If the condom breaks, I'll be taking Plan B anyway!"

"That's if it breaks!" Why won't she just give it a rest already. He's trying his best to say, 'no' to her and himself, but every second she stands over him talking to him is making it more difficult.

Luckily for him, Misty is feeling too shitty and upset to continue giving him the contraception talk. It's her body too! She's the one consuming the pill, so she should have a voice in this decision. He initiated everything, and despite understanding that consent can be given away at anytime, it seems like Ash isn't giving up his consent. He's forcing himself to. Why? Does he not love her enough?

"Whatever. Asshole." mutters the woman who puts on a shirt and climbs back into bed. Based on the fresh smell, she can tell she put on his shirt, so the one she was wearing earlier is still on the ground since he's still shirtless in the sleeping bag.

Hearing the sad and irritated tone, though mostly sad, Ash's heart tightens. The last thing he ever wants to do is hurt her or make her sad. Shutting his eyes painfully, Ash finds his voice to practically croak out, "I just really don't want a kid…"

Now, Misty feels even worse for her selfishness. Due to the heat of the moment, and the fact that the topic hasn't been brought up in months, she forgot about his aversion to children and pregnancies. Just like Ash's returning outgoing adventurous personality, Misty assumed he must've gotten over all of his old afflictions. Sighing, she turns in the bed to softly gaze at the visibly conflicted man. "Sorry, Ash."

No. This is also why he didn't want to tell her. He knew she'd feel bad and apologize, which is the last thing he wants. Quickly turning his head, Ash once again meets those cerulean orbs that ache his heart more. "Don't apologize, Misty." As much as he'd love to silence her apologies with kisses, like she had to him on Mt. Silver, he knows he won't be able to stop himself from taking the kisses further again.

"But-"

"I'll always bring a few. Um. Just in case." Ash fights through his hot blush. "So we'll be prepared whenever…"

Well, the embarrassment has stopped her from trying to impose her apology on him. Instead, Misty just nods with her own very flushed face. Knowing that he wants to do this with her excites her and makes her nervous. He wants to do this right for both of them. Ash has always thought about her, which she is just realizing now. All those random times he'd interrupt her, despite his timidness. All those unexpected things he'd do just to get her to take a break. Ash has always been thinking about her, even before they started dating.

Overall, Misty feels really loved by this man. So loved that she doesn't feel like she deserves it; however, she'll be selfish and have him for once. Waiting 20 years for him to realize his feelings should be enough payback for all of his love now. He's not that goofy carefree kid she fell in love with, but he's a responsible insightful man now. Regardless of which Ash Ketchum this is, she has always loved every version of him. Afterall, he is Ash Ketchum, her first and only love.


Trying to get my life together and update one or two of my incomplete stories (besides this one). However, I was really feeling this one, so here we are...again. Lol. Honestly, I write stories influenced by the media around me. For example, I've been listening to soothing love songs, which makes me want to type up Single By 30. When I listen to heartache songs (like heartbreak or nostalgia), then I type Hoping For You. An update will come for Things Money Can't Buy. I have like 20% of that chapter done. BUT I am excited for the next chapter of Single By 30 story. Hang tight as I manage everything haha.

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