Single By 30 @shinygrowlithe12
Chapter 15 (Part 1)

Guess who's back? Okay. I never left. Took a few breaks, but I'm always here. Anyway, this chapter got really long. Like I've been working on it for a few days, and it just keeps getting longer. I don't wanna rush anything. I still have more to type on it, but I figured here is a good spot to cut it before we have a 40K word chapter. Thus, here is Part 1 of Chapter 15. Tune in for Part 2 coming some time this week (hopefully). I'm almost done with part 2.


Chapter 15 (Part 1)

"You look worse than me, Ashy Boy!" laughs the auburn haired man.

Turning her attention from Leaf's arms, the redhead curiously glances behind her to see her husband is still standing by the doorway. Misty stands up straighter and walks back towards him where she extends a comforting hand out. "C'mon, Ash. He's just a baby. He won't hurt you."

The slightly sweaty pale nervous man's eyes have remained glued onto the floor this whole time. He never wanted to come here. Mew. After the whole League thing, Ash and Misty arrived in Pallet Town to relax and take a break. They've spent lots of time with Delia and Ash's other Pokemon at the lab. Of course, the pair has had their fair share of the media trying to piece together the fight between Ash and Rudy. The tabloids are making it out to seem like there's a love triangle, though at least Rudy is portrayed as a crazy ex.

Fortunately, Rudy's claims of the marriage being fake is being taken lightly by most. Due to Ash and Misty being very secretive about their relationship, there's not much evidence stating otherwise. There are a few journalists and people who have started putting out content agreeing with Rudy. The fact that there's not much documentation with the Ketchum-Waterflower marriage is suspicious. Ash and Misty have ignored these minor claims, which they hope will go away with time.

"I'm gonna wait outside." whispers the quiet man.

Before he can turn around, Misty grabs his arms, causing his wary eyes to meet her determined ones. "This is your nephew. You should see him." While Misty understands Ash has an aversion to babies, he's been doing just fine with those he has to have in his life, like Tina and Annalise. Also, this is Ash's first nephew he is meeting!

The Sketchits had a son last month, but due to the tournament, Misty and Ash haven't had a chance to visit. They do videocalls weekly where Tina tells them a lot about being a big sister. She fits the role perfectly. It takes up most of Tina's time, meaning Ash and Misty can breathe a bit more knowing Tina won't be as adamant about exposing them...if she chooses to do so again. Misty and Ash, though mostly Misty, plan to visit the Sketchits once the tournament is completely over. Traveling right now is too hectic.

A few ago, it was practically impossible to get Ash to accompany Misty to the hospital. They didn't even know Leaf was in labor. Misty had received a call from Gary telling her to come see the baby. Leaf isn't due for two more weeks, and the couples had plans to hangout this weekend. Therefore, add in the usual pranks from the Oak couple, everyone was surprised to learn about the birth of the newest Oak. Gary and Leaf's family members are in Johto, so they won't be arriving to see the little one until tomorrow. That allows Ash and Misty to be the first ones to see the baby. Delia is currently in Viridian City, so she will be dropping by once she's back.

After Gary's call, Misty was ecstatic. Misty is always happy whenever her friends reach large milestones. She went to tell Ash, but unlike with her reaction, Ash was the opposite. He frowned and kept muttering about watching the house. Misty practically had to drag him out of the house. The whole time since she announced the new baby, Ash has returned to the state she met him in nearly a year ago.

"Misty-"

"Look. I don't know why you don't like kids, but you can't avoid them forever." He's great with kids. What is he so scared of?

Running a hand through his hair, Ash sighs. His eyes plead with Misty to no avail. "I'll see him when he's older." Kids Tina's and Annalise's ages are fine. It's just babies that make Ash the most nervous, and not just because they're fragile.

"Oh no you don't, Ash Ketchum!" Misty yanks on his arm. "This is my godson! You're gonna see him on the day of his birth."

"I don't want to."

"Give me a good reason."

"Don't need to." Ash can feel his heart beating quickly, which is not from Misty's hand still on him. It's been picking up speed with every moment since he found out the Oak baby was born.

"What're ya whispering about over there?" Gary calls over to the pair.

Ignoring him, Misty sternly looks in Ash's scared gaze. "Then you'll be seeing this baby. Hold him for 5 minutes, and then I'll let you leave." She doubts he'll want to let go of the newborn once Ash holds him. It's like when Ash accepted Tina and Annalise after interacting with them. No matter how much Ash wants to avoid children, his large heart opens up to them.

"I really don't-"

"I'm not taking 'no' for an answer." Misty pulls Ash towards the hospital bed.

Gulping nervously, Ash uses his free hand to tug at his sweaty shirt collar. How did he let Misty convince him to leave the house? Why did he leave the house? Did a part of him hope this would help him overcome his fear? Misty has helped Ash recover so much this year, but there's still this holding him back. Obviously, seeing the Oak baby is not helping Ash at all, though Misty won't let him leave now that he's here.

When she releases him, Ash lets out a relieved breath. He contemplates bolting for the door, but his feet feel heavy. Misty goes back to peering over Leaf at the bundle in her arms, and Gary is smiling warmly at his little family. Ash feels extremely left out because he wants to remain as far away from the baby as possible. He's just watching the beautiful scene with a feeling of pain in his chest.

"Hold your godson already." Leaf giggles when Misty pokes the baby's cheek again. Anyone can tell how eager Misty is to hold him.

Being careful, Misty quickly scoops him in her arms. "He's so little!" She coos. The last time she saw a baby was Annalise four years ago. "Hey, baby Sammy. It's your godmommy!"

"I never knew I could cringe so much." Gary feigns vomiting. He's used to seeing the tough tomboy. Not the sweet, slightly embarrassing, godmother.

Despite being tired, Leaf can always find energy to whack Gary. "Be nice." Leaf is glad to see Misty so happy. Misty always looks stressed and bored. Well, she did before marrying Ash. It's nice seeing happy emotions on Misty. Leaf's gaze turns from the giddy godmother to the quiet man feet away from them. "Misty's so happy, Ash. You guys should have a kid too." teases the brunette. If the Ketchums have a child, then their child can grow up with Sammy.

Ash's mouth dries up more than before, making him not be able to form any words. All he wants to do is disappear right now, but he's stuck. He's frozen in fear. All these people are happy and celebrating the birth of the baby, except for Ash. Misty's focus is still on Sammy, so she hasn't noticed Ash being more reclused, and she didn't hear Leaf's teasing.

Chuckling, Gary claps Ash on the back. "It's a joke, man. Why does it look like you saw a ghost?"

"Who's the godfather?" Misty's innocent question breaks the tension, which Ash appreciates.

"Silver." Leaf grins. She can't wait to tell the stoic man tomorrow. Silver likes to come off as cold and mean, but Leaf knows he'll be a great godfather. He's already a great brother to her.

Misty frowns. The only interactions she's had with Silver, who she's met a few times, have been negative. He never talks and he always seems annoyed. He doesn't care for Misty, so Misty had learned to just ignore him whenever he's around. He visits often because of his close relationship with Leaf. A relationship no one can understand, but that's just the beauty of Leaf's relationship with Silver. "Don't tell me I'll have to interact with him more." MIsty grunts.

"Silver is not that bad." defends Leaf.

"To you. He's an ass to everyone else."

"Mew, Red! No cursing in front of Sammy!" Gary astounds.

"He won't remember." Misty continues rocking the baby. "You two better not put me in any situation where I have to spend more time with Silver than necessary." They've already put her in a situation by naming her the godmother and Silver the godfather.

"You knew it'd be Silver." Leaf smirks. "He's the only family I have, but he's not blood family."

"Then you should've made Daisy the godmother instead." Although Misty is honored to be Sammy's godmother, she is already a godmother to Annalise. Also, Misty really doesn't like interacting with Silver.

"Daisy is my blood sister." Gary reminds Misty. "She's already Sammy's aunt. And you knew you'd be the godmother. You're the only female friend we both trust, and you're friends with both of us."

Groaning, Misty looks back down at the sleeping baby who has Leaf's hair and eyes. There's no use arguing now. Who is she to tell these two who to pick for godparents? "I'll do anything for you, Sammy." Even if it means having to have a conversation with Silver.

"When we have our second, you'll be the godfather, Ash." Gary chuckles, and Leaf once again, hits him.

"Second? You're not the one carrying the baby for 9 months! I can't wait to have a drink!"

"Sammy needs a sibling. Studies show that children who grow up together are more attuned with their feelings and- huh? Ash?" Gary curiously watches the very quiet man slip out of the room.

When the door clicks shut again, the Oaks exchange confused glances. Misty is now staring at the door too. "Is everything okay, Misty?" Leaf asks.

Taking in a deep breath, Misty's shoulders slump. "I don't know."

"He looks like he did when he came back from Kalos." Gary notes, earning him an elbow to the ribs. "Hey!"

"Don't bring up his ex!" hisses Leaf. With Misty around, and being the new woman in Ash's life, there's no need to bring up Ash's ex.

Rubbing his side, Gary whispers, "That was when he was at his worst. You guys have never seen that Ash before." That Ash scared Gary a lot. He and Delia, along with Ash's Pokemon, were on constant surveillance just in case Ash decided to do something. Fortunately, a year later, he was a lot better, so no one feared for his life anymore, though he still remained a recluse. Could it have been Misty's doing? Ash and Misty did say they started seeing each other the year after he returned. Gary feels better knowing how much Misty has benefitted Ash, and Ash has done the same for her.

"I'm gonna go find him." Misty passes back the baby.

"It's okay." Leaf calls after the redhead headed for the door. "Him showing up already means a lot to us. It's okay if he doesn't want to hold Sammy." Regardless of her fatigue, Leaf could tell something is off about Ash today. When he feels better, he can hold Sammy. For now, Leaf just wants Ash to be taken care of, and the best person for the job is his wife.

Nodding, Misty replies, "We'll visit soon." Whether it be in the hospital or at the Oak house. Ash and Misty are in Pallet Town for a few weeks while the tournament season is going on. They'll have plenty of time to see baby Sammy.

"See ya, Red." Gary grins. Although he is worried about Ash, Gary knows Ash is in good hands with Misty. Unless there's something else going on between those two? Could that be the reason for Ash's reclusiveness again?

Once their friend is out of the room, Leaf passes the baby off to Gary. "I'm gonna take a nap."

Holding his son carefully, Gary smiles down at the being he created with the woman he loves. He still can't get over the fact that he's a father, and he's married to Leaf. Gary never knew he could love anyone this much. His love for Leaf has grown, and he's now in love with his son too. Life is absolutely perfect. To think, a year ago, he and Leaf were just former players too stubborn to make their relationship official. Today, they're married parents to a beautiful healthy baby boy.

"Leaf."

"Hm?" The brunette has her eyes shut.

Gary leans over to peck her forehead. "I love you."

Smiling slightly, Leaf tells him, "I love you too, dumbass."

"Hey! Language!" Gary uses a free hand to cover one of Sammy's ears.

"He's too young to remember this." Leaf giggles, recalling Misty's exact words. Misty. Leaf hopes whatever is going on with the couple is okay. She knows about their whole spat with Rudy at the League last week, which Leaf has yet to tease them about. It seems like Ash and Misty can never get a break.

Outside the hospital, Misty catches Ash before he can fly off on Charizard. She's out of breath from all the running. Luckily, Pallet Town's hospital is small. Resting a hand on Charizard's back, Misty pants out, "Where are you going?"

"Home." comes the blunt response.

"Why?" They haven't talked about this in months, and for good reason too. Misty doesn't want to bring up past traumas, but when they affect Ash's life so much like this, then she can't help herself.

Choosing to ignore the question, Ash replies, "Can you let go of Charizard? I'd like to get home now."

"No." Misty glares into Ash's pained eyes, which makes her gaze soften in surprise. Why does he look like he's barely hanging in here? When Ash tears his eyes away to look at Charizard's back again, Misty takes in a deep breath and climbs on behind him. This surprises Ash because he thought she'd want to stay with the Oaks longer. "Take us to Route 1, Charizard."

"I wanna go home." Ash quietly reminds them, but Charizard listens to the more confident voice.

Holding onto his back, Misty tells Ash, "I'm not letting you hide in your room again, Ash. Some fresh air will do you good."

"I really-"

"Shut it." She squeezes him with her arms, making both of them blush. Regardless of how long they've been together, they still blush from the slightest touch. Misty rests her head against Ash's back to listen to his heartbeat. It's beating very fast, concerning her more. A part of her feels bad for forcing him to see Sammy, but Misty really wants to help Ash overcome his fear.

Relaxing in her hold, Ash allows Misty and Charizard to keep him out. At least with the Route 1 river, he won't be around babies or children. Most people are home watching the tournament. There's no need for traveling the region except to go watch at the League. Plus, the Route 1 river is usually empty. Ash isn't completely sure why Misty wants to go to the river, but he does feel more at ease with nature. It's a reason he loved traveling.

Once they land, Ash follows Misty towards the riverbank. Pikachu is home because Pokemon can't go inside hospitals, for sanitary purposes. Misty climbs onto the large rock she likes to fish off of. She moves over to let her legs dangle off the edge and pats the spot beside her for Ash. Sighing, he obediently climbs up and sits too. Ash has been anxious because he knows Misty will question him about something he does not want to talk about. He's glad when she doesn't say anything except look out over the river as the sun sets.

In the corner of his eye, he watches the beauty he's lucky to have in his now seemingly tranquil life. Misty is relaxed and basking in the light. It calms Ash a lot. How come she isn't saying anything yet? He just wants to get it over with, but with every second, Ash is becoming more at ease. Misty always has a way of reaching him. Thus, Ash finds his hand slowly moving towards hers until he can rest it on top. This makes Misty finally turn her attention back to him as a smile graces her lips.

"I love it here." She used to avoid this place like it was poison. This year, Misty has often yearned to come here. It's the place she met Ash. It's a special place to them. Now that they actually have a relationship, she's been pining to visit Route 1. Leaning over to rest her head against his strong arm, Misty says, "We should fish here again." She loves fishing, even though Ash doesn't have the patience for it.

Nodding, Ash intertwines their fingers and moves their hand to his lap. This hand. This small soft warm hand that he always wants to grab. It comforts him. This woman comforts him. He can't be without her again. "I love you, Misty."

Although Ash's eyes are still shifting nervously, they finally rest on her soft blue ones, further alleviating his worries. "I love you too, Ash." Misty squeezes his hand.

When she left the hospital, Misty just wanted a private place to question Ash. However, flying with her head on his back, listening to his heartbeat, she started thinking otherwise. That rapidly beating heart sounded so scared. She shouldn't force him to confront something he isn't ready to face yet, like that ring she knows is still in his sock drawer. Misty isn't going to change Ash. Only he can change himself, but she'll show him her utmost support.

Once Charizard landed here, Misty really couldn't bring herself to say anything about the hospital. Ash was so agitated and nervous. She never wants to be the one making him feel this way. So what if he has an aversion to children? It's not like she's ever planned on having any, especially with Ash. They have plenty of time to jump that hurdle if they choose to do so in the future. Right now, Ash just needs a comforting hand, which she will always provide for him.

Therefore, the couple watch the sun completely set as they enjoy being in their own little world together. If only time would stop for this moment. A moment Ash doesn't have fears or pain. A moment Misty isn't bored and moving through the motions of life. A moment they both love. At the end of the day, they care about each other. This past year has really shown that. Neither of them thought they'd ever see each other again, and now, they're in a serious relationship where they support the other. A friendship they've missed, and a relationship they've wanted since childhood.

That night, Misty walks into the room after a nice warm shower. Delia is currently still at the hospital fretting over Leaf and doting on the newest arrival in Pallet Town. Ash is mentally preparing himself for his mother's onslaught of questions tomorrow for when he sees her. She's going to ask when he plans to make her a grandmother. A conversation he really wants to avoid, but he knows he can't. Not unless he wants to come to terms with his own pains.

An obvious slam makes Misty curiously look at the man sitting on the ground in front of his dresser. It's a no brainer that Ash was just in his bottom drawer, especially with that guilty expression on his face. "It's okay if you're not ready yet." Misty doesn't want Ash feeling rushed. Yes, they're in a relationship now, though there's a lot going on with his past that he's not quite ready to part with. Misty will remain patient.

When Ash and Misty returned home earlier, Ash was relaxed enough that Pikachu couldn't tell he was practically suffocating at the hospital. Pikachu has been sleeping in Delia's room because he misses her, and he doesn't want to be around in case Ash and Misty do something. Ash has been sleeping on the floor. Despite saying he'd get condoms, he won't dare buy them in small Pallet Town. His mother would find out, and Ash doesn't want her knowing about his sex life.

Standing up, Ash shakes his head. "I'm over her. I love you." The last thing Ash wants to do is make Misty feel like a rebound or a second option. She has always been the first, but he was too dumb and blind to see it. All he's done is cause himself this pain.

"I know." Misty reassures him while drying her hair. The towel obscures her view of him as she sits on the bed. "But just don't rush anything." She doesn't want him to regret anything or make any mistakes. Ash needs to overcome his past correctly.

The man's heart beats quicker every time Misty shows him care. Why is she so patient with him? Why does she love a loser like him? How is he lucky to have her? Once Misty removes the towel from her head, she's surprised to see Ash kneeling directly in front of her. He rests his hands on her bare knees and smiles slightly. Mew. These mesmerizing cerulean blue orbs that melt him. It's not only the eyes, but he's her. Misty has his heart. There's no doubt about that, though that's not the reason Ash still has his old engagement ring.

Feeling guilty about his past holding them both back, Ash breaks the gaze first, much to both of their dismays. They don't kiss often, so every touch is special. Awkwardly clearing his throat, Ash gets up to grab Misty's towel. He hangs it up on one of the hooks in his room and then sits beside Misty. "Let's see Sammy when he leaves the hospital."

Misty curiously raises an eyebrow at him. She hasn't talked about the hospital or the baby since leaving it this evening. Why is Ash bringing up the very thing that pains him? "Are you sure?"

"I should hold him." Ash nervously replies. "Gary is my longest friend and all."

"It doesn't matter what you should do, Ash." Misty already feels guilty for pushing him to come to the hospital. It's hypocritical of her. "Go when you're ready."

Chuckling sadly, Ash puts his face in his hands. "That's the thing." He tells the concerned woman. "I doubt I'll ever be ready, but I can't keep hiding." This past year has taught him that. Hiding just made him become more of a loser. Misty prevented him from hiding, and he's almost back to himself. He had to face his fears head on, so he'll face this one too. This year has trained him for his ultimate showdown. The reason for all of this in the first place.

"Ash-"

He shakes his head. "I'm gonna hold Sammy next time I see him. And I'll hold Jayson when we visit him this summer too. I'm done hiding."

Intertwining their fingers, Misty smiles warmly. "I'll always be here, Ash."

The man returns the small smile and places a long kiss on Misty's forehead. He rests his lips there to mutter, "I know." With Misty by his side, Ash feels like he can face anyone and anything. He has time to prepare himself for meeting his nephews. For now, he'll accept being spoiled by this loving woman. Fighting the intense ache in his heart, Ash attempts to forget the painful memories.

One Week Later

"I thought you wanted to wait until the tournament ended?" Ash once again asks his wife as he folds some of his clothes.

"We have a busy summer, Ash." Misty reminds him of the weddings and events they have. "Leaf and Gary are busy with their families, and I just want to see my nephew already. He's the first Waterflower male!" In reality, Misty is feeling more anxious as the tournament goes on. Jimmy is effortlessly advancing through it, meaning there is a very real shot he will be the Johto Champion. That would then leave his Elite Four position spot open. A spot Misty applied for.

A key reason Misty wanted to remain in Pallet Town until the tournament ended is because she feels like she should be at the closing ceremony. As a gym leader, especially as someone who applied for a League position, Misty wants to show her face. However, with all the publicity from the last League event, Misty doesn't want to deal with it again.

Moreover, Delia has been constantly trying to convince Misty and Ash to have a child too. With baby Sammy's birth, Delia is eager to have a grandchild of her own. Misty has noticed Ash tense up and freeze whenever his mother asks about grandchildren. Plus, it's awkward on Misty having to do all the talking about how she and Ash are not ready for a baby. It's like they're talking about the Beedrills and the Pidgeys again.

Time away will hopefully get Delia over her baby craze, and maybe it'll help Misty feel more at ease. She's too close to the action right now. Violet and Lily are already in Johto, so it'll be like a family reunion once Misty and Ash join. The Waterflowers rarely have family reunions. All times spent together is special, yet annoying. Misty wouldn't trade it for the world.

"Would it be okay? You know. With the League?"

"I never went to those events anyway."

The fact that she's gone to two this year means a lot. Furthermore, Misty does not want it to look like she's trying to suck up to the League when she applied to be an Elite Four Member, though that is what she was doing. The last event just reminded her of how much she avoids the League. Can she really be an Elite Four member when she doesn't like following the League's limited rules on Gym Leaders? Well, that just depends on Jimmy being the champion, and Misty being chosen from the pool of who knows how many strong trainers.

Zipping up his suitcase, Ash faces Misty to see she is folding way more clothes than she needs. She's packing a lot more than she usually does. He's noticed Misty has been weirdly quiet lately, but he thought she was giving him space from last week's hospital thing. Could it be something else? How can Ash be so self-centered not to have noticed until now? Misty looks stressed despite not having much work in the offseason.

He places a hand on her arm to stop her from folding the next article of clothing. "I think you have enough."

Misty finally looks at her suitcase and sweatdrops in embarrassment. "Right."

Helping her, Ash grabs half of the clothes to put back in her drawer. "Is everything okay, Misty?"

"Yeah." Lies the woman. Ash has his own problems, so Misty doesn't want to trouble him with hers. Well, it's just nerves, which will be gone once the tournament is over. These nerves are nothing compared to Ash's years of pain. Fortunately, Ash is dense enough to convince. "I just feel left out having not met Jayson yet. He's so big now."

Still nervous around babies, Ash gulps with a nod. "Yeah. Your whole family hasn't been together since New Years." Both adults blush because New Years reminds them of something else: Their first kiss.

"They're gonna ask us when we're having a kid." Misty warns Ash. At least Delia's constant questions have prepared Misty to handle her family. How will Ash fare? Especially if Tina doesn't stop prying.

"We'll just tell them what we tell my mom."

"What I tell your mom?"

Sheepishly scratching the back of his head, Ash mutters, "Yeah. That."

Misty zips up her suitcase and falls onto the bed in exhaustion. "Mew. We're at that age, so people won't stop asking."

"They think we've been married for years." Ash lays beside her. They haven't done much today, but they just feel tired thinking about upholding this lie and fending off unwanted questions. Has it really almost been a year already?

"Who's fault is that?" grumbles the woman, making Ash chuckle. It's been a while since he heard Misty blame him for their predicament.

"If I didn't marry you, we wouldn't be dating right now." He notes proudly.

"If you didn't marry me, I'd be living a much more peaceful life." Yes, her life is happier and more exciting, but Misty feels like she gets in so much trouble lately. The only difference in her life has been Ash. Regardless of the stresses, she prefers having Ash in her life over not having him at all.

"I'm not taking it back." Ash chuckles, which makes Misty turn her head to face him.

Shoving his arm playfully, Misty says, "You're stuck with me now, Ketchum." As the two laugh and play, Ash manages to grab Misty's wrists, stopping her movements. They lock eyes, and Misty quickly kisses his lips before getting off the bed with a dark blush. "We told your mom we'd have lunch with her before we leave." Misty shyly reminds him.

"Yeah." Ash sits up. Misty did plan this trip yesterday. Ash figures she's also restless. Small Pallet Town doesn't have much to offer, though Misty rarely left the Cerulean City gym. Fortunately, there are plenty of flights leaving Viridian City compared to arriving. The tournament is bringing in people from all over because Jimmy is competing.

In the kitchen, Delia is finishing the last touches on lunch. She loves having Ash around again, especially now that he's not moping around. Also, Misty is here too. Having visitors brings a smile to Delia's face. She knows Ash and Misty will be back next week, but she will still miss them dearly. And Pikachu.

"Did you two finish packing?"

Ash nods. "Yeah." He sits at the table just as Delia removes her apron.

Misty sits beside Ash. "This smells good, Delia."

Delia waves a hand at Misty. "Misty, dear, how many times do I need to tell you? You can call me mom now that you're married to my Ashy."

The young woman shyly blushes. "Maybe some day." With this being a fake marriage, Misty isn't quite ready to get that familiar with Delia. Actually, Misty has always viewed Delia as a mother, but Misty will wait to refer to Delia in that way. If things go well with her and Ash, then some day, Misty may be able to refer to Delia as her mother.

Ash knows this is an awkward topic for Misty, so he comes to her rescue. "It'll only be a week, mom."

"I know." Delia sighs as she starts passing out the food. "Send me pictures of Jayson. No. Call me, so I can see him!" Delia giddily exclaims, making Ash and Misty nervously look at each other. Getting Delia started on babies always results in… "Maybe he'll get you two to finally bring a little one into the world too?" Delia hopes that all these people around them having babies will influence Ash and Misty into having one. Ash is a lot better. Delia believes he can handle a child, especially with Misty's help.

"Heh heh." Misty awkwardly laughs. "Ash and I are still quite busy, Delia."

"You're not getting any younger. This is a prime time to have a child." insists the older woman.

Misty wishes Ash would help talk to his mom, but Ash is always silent during these conversations. He's been a lot more quiet since the hospital. Misty figures it has to do with his aversion to children, though he should help her! "When we're ready, you'll be the first to know." They just need to make it through this meal, and then they can have a breather until they see Misty's family.

"Gary has a little one, Tracey has two now. I understand that you both want to focus on your lives right now, but don't let the time pass by. A child is more than just a responsibility. They're someone you love and raise." Delia smiles recalling her young days of raising Ash.

"Mom." Ash mumbles, surprising Misty. With the womens' eyes on him, Ash nervously picks at his food. "I, uh, don't wanna rush anything. Misty's right, though. We'll let you know when we start trying, but can you respect our decision right now?" He never wants to hurt his mother's feelings, but Ash needs the questions to stop. He shouldn't feel like he has to tiptoe around his mother or avoid her. Meeting her eyes with his own apologetic ones, he adds, "I'm still getting better. I'm not ready for all the pressure."

Once they return from Johto, Ash just wants a safe space. He knows he can't avoid the Sensational Sisters. At least, he can talk to his mother. These past few days, he couldn't figure out how to bring it up without hurting her feelings. Delia has good intent, and it's not her fault she doesn't know how uncomfortable the conversation makes him. Nevertheless, Ash wants to be somewhat honest with his feelings. Misty has beared enough on her own, something Ash shouldn't make her do. It's like back when they first got together and she had to carry on the lie for him because he was too incompetent to do so. So much time has passed, and Ash is a lot better. Thus, Misty shouldn't be the alone in covering for them anymore. That's selfish of Ash.

Letting out a breath, Delia looks between the shy adults. The look they're giving her makes her feel guilty because they also don't want her feeling bad. "I'm sorry, you two. I'm just really excited."

"Don't be sorry, Delia!" Misty quickly speaks. "I understand your excitement."

Ash nods. "Yeah, mom. I know you can't wait to be a grandma, so I'll let you know when you'll be one."

Prior to the marriage, Delia hadn't seen Misty in almost a decade. After that one dinner where Ash couldn't make it, Delia didn't hear from Misty again. These two have really grown up a lot. Ash in this year. And Misty in the decade. They're in their early 30s now, so Delia trusts they know how to live their lives. They know how to love each other. She can't wait for the day their love brings another life into this world, but in the meantime, she will fully support their decision.

Reaching over to place her hand on top of each of theirs, Delia replies, "I promise, I won't bring it up again until you do." It'll be hard to hold her tongue, though she'll do anything for Ash. He is her only child and her only love.

Johto

"We can still play hooky." Misty says as they walk off the ferry.

Chuckling, Ash gazes up at the bright sky. "I never knew Misty Waterflower to be the type to play hooky."

"It only started when I let you back in my life."

"I'm flattered."

"Pi." Pikachu shakes his head from Ash's shoulder. They just got off a very long ferry ride, and they're supposed to be picked up by Tracey. Pikachu would rather these two do not get into an argument. They are already dealing with a lot of heat from the League fight with Rudy.

Rolling her eyes, Misty walks ahead of Ash. "Don't say I didn't give you a chance." Ash still has an aversion to children. They can still turn back now, but he comes off as okay. Last time Misty thought he was okay, he almost had a panic attack in the Pallet Town hospital. She'll be keeping a close eye on him here in Johto. Misty told Pikachu about the hospital incident, so the mouse will also help her watch over Ash.

"Auntie Misty! Uncle Ash!"

"Pi pichupi!" Pikachu leaps off of Ash's shoulder and sprints into the crowd. The adults easily recognize the voice, and soon, they spot their niece who has Pikachu in her arms. Pikachu moves to Tina's shoulder, allowing Tina to hug Misty and Ash.

"What took you so long? Jayson is big now!" scolds Tina, making Ash and Misty very amused.

"Tina! Stop running off!" exasperates a slightly sweaty nervous man behind her.

"Hey, Tracey." Misty hugs her brother in law.

"Hey, Tracey." Ash does the same.

Letting out a relieved breath, Tracey greets them too. "Let's get going. Daisy doesn't like me being gone for too long." At least she has her other sisters with her right now.

"Can we battle, Uncle Ash?" Tina eagerly asks as she walks beside him.

"We can battle any time." Ash grins in excitement. Tina has been his mini rival this past year. She was the one who got him training and battling again. He owes Tina a lot for that, even if he can easily beat her now.

While Ash, Pikachu, and Tina are talking in the back, Misty faces Tracey. "How's Daisy?" Misty recalls the few months after Daisy had Tina. Daisy was a lot more demanding than usual, for good reason too. Misty helped out for a week, but her gym leader duties called her back. Daisy is really lucky to have someone as patient and loving as Tracey in her life.

"Better than last time." Tracey smiles. "But I think that's because Tina has been helping a lot."

"I'm glad Tina now has something to focus on."

"Same." Tina usually gets in all sorts of mischief due to her curiosity. Now that she spends most of her time watching Jayson, she's a lot more calm. "Thanks for visiting. I know Daisy doesn't say it to you much, but she really appreciates you, Misty. You're always helping us in your own way."

Shyly nodding, Misty gazes out the window. "We're a family. As much as my sisters annoy me, I will always be there for them and my niece and nephew." She playfully shoves his arm. "And my friend turned brother-in-law."

Chuckling, Tracey turns onto the highway. "At least I asked for your blessing before pursuing Daisy."

Decades ago, Tracey used to visit the gym often to see Daisy, though he was there under the guise of fixing various things at the gym. It was obvious to anyone that Tracey was there for Daisy, despite him originally being Misty's friend. Thus, when the day came where Tracey mustered up the courage to speak to Misty about his feelings for her sister, Misty already knew. Misty could also see it on Daisy's face how infatuated Daisy is with Tracey. The rest is history from there. Misty is grateful that Tracey thought about her before confessing to Daisy. Tracey has always been such a sweet friend.

"If you didn't go after her, I was going to make you sooner or later. All that obvious tension you guys had because of your crush on each other was unbearable."

Smirking, Tracey eyes the rearview mirror where he sees Ash eagerly talking to Tina. "You only had to deal with that for barely 3 years. I've had to deal with you two for decades."

"Tracey!" Misty blushes at the laughing man, which now gets the attention of the trio in the back.

"What's so funny, daddy?" Tina innocently asks.

Ash notices Misty's blush. Was Tracey teasing her? A part of Ash is slightly jealous that Tracey made Misty blush, even though Ash knows Tracey is very much in love with Misty's sister. "Is everything okay, Mist?"

Now, Ash wishes he didn't ask and that he had just left the front to themselves. Wiping his tears, Tracey replies in amusement, "I was just telling Misty how much I had to bear watching you two crush on each other for so long. Why do you think all of us were so compliant to your surprise marriage announcement? We always knew you two liked each other."

"Uh." Stammers the younger man who now is also blushing. "Tracey, um…"

Pikachu doubles over laughing too, so Ash admits defeat by silently looking out the window. He spots the mirror where he can see Misty's equally red face reflected in it. They make eye contact, and Misty smiles warmly. This makes Ash's heart beat quicker. Alright. They can put up with Tracey's teasing for now. At least Ash and Misty are seriously in a romantic relationship. It makes all of this so much easier. Thus, Ash discreetly slips his hand on the side of Misty's seat in front of him. He uses his pinky to tap on her thigh, causing both of their smiles to grow. No matter what they go through, they will always have each other.

Once at the house, Tracey tells the couple that he'll bring their luggage in. He has Scyther help him, so Tina leads her aunt and uncle inside. The moment the door is opened, they're all met with three pairs of eyes. Ash and Misty stiffen up because they know seeing the Sensational Sisters is a lot of work. Tina runs to her mother with Pikachu to look at Jayson, leaving Ash and Misty to awkwardly stand by the doorway.

"Like, are you coming in or not?" Violet speaks first.

Clearing her throat, Misty stands up straighter and struts further inside. Ash follows her. "Hello to you too, Vi." Misty rolls her eyes. She stops in front of Daisy. "Can I hold my nephew now?" Jayson is already a couple of weeks old. He's so much bigger than the newborn Sammy Misty held last week.

Being a protective mother, Daisy finds it hard to let anyone hold her babies, even Tracey. However, these past few weeks, and with all the visitors they've had, have made her more at ease with allowing others to hold them. "Hey, Misty. Hey, Ash." Daisy greets the new arrivals as Tracey walks inside with Scyther.

Still slightly uncomfortable, Ash quickly grabs Scyther's suitcase. "Uh. Let me help you, Tracey."

"No. You're a guest!" insists Tracey.

"And you're a new dad. You must be tired." Ash is able to get his suitcase from Scyther and go upstairs with Tracey. The Sensational Sisters raise confused eyebrows at Misty who is sadly watching Ash's retreating back. This is Ash's first time in the Sketchit's house.

"Is everything okay, little sis?" Lily inquires seeing Misty's frown.

"Huh?" Misty turns her attention back to them and fakes a smile. She's fine, but she's just concerned about Ash. Scyther could've easily helped Tracey. Even if Ash genuinely felt bad about Tracey carrying his suitcase, Misty has a strong feeling that Ash wants to be away from Jayson.

"You're frowning." Daisy notes.

Faking a smile, Misty continues rocking her nephew in her arms. "Oh. I'm fine."

"Isn't JayJay cute?" Tina unknowingly comes to Misty's rescue. The girl has been bragging about her baby brother for so long. She's eager for Misty to meet him, and she wants Misty's opinion now.

Glad for the distraction, Misty answers, "He's adorable." Jayson is babbling in Misty's arms. He recognizes her from their weekly videocalls. As Misty sits down, she's baby talking with Jayson. Tina and Pikachu sit beside her, and the Sensational sisters are engaging in conversation. Soon, Tracey and Ash return where Ash awkwardly sits beside Tina. That way, Misty and Jayson are not next to him. Daisy notices this, but she doesn't say anything. Not with the children around.

"How was the trip?" She decides to ask instead.

"It was nice to get out and feel the sea breeze." Misty loves being on the water. She's missed traveling.

"What about you, Ash?" Daisy presses the quiet man. While everyone knows Ash doesn't talk much, he at least spoke more than this at New Years.

"Good." comes the barely audible response. Everyone can see that Ash is avoiding looking at Misty. Did they argue?

"Hey, Tina. Didn't you want to battle Uncle Ash?" Tracey stands up, which gets his daughter very excited.

"Can we?" Tina's large puppy eyes gaze up expectantly at Ash who is eager to leave the tenseness.

"Yeah! Let's go." Despite being somewhat tired from the trip, Ash is always ready for a battle. And he prefers one right now.

"I'll come too." Tracey leads them out of the room. "Let the sisters talk."

Very relieved, Ash nods. "Yeah. Misty's missed her sisters."

"Can I use Pikachu?" Tina clutches the mouse in her arms.

Chuckling, Ash scratches Pikachu behind the ears. "Sure. We'll have a 3 on 3 battle." That'll be plenty of time for Misty to catch up with her sisters, right? And then dinner will be happening, and then they'll sleep soon after. Although he knows he can't avoid Jayson forever, Ash isn't ready to interact with the baby. It's one thing to see him over a video call, and it's another thing now that Ash is face to face with him. He's been sweating the moment he entered the house, and it's not from the summer heat.

Back in the living room, Violet crosses her arms over her chest expectantly. "So did you two argue or something?"

"What?" Misty snaps her attention up from Jayson. "Why would you think that?"

"Hello, Misty? Anyone can feel the awkwardness when you and Ash are around." Lily chimes in.

"Wait. What?" The redhead is very confused. Where is this coming from? She and Ash have been just fine. If anything, they've been great.

Sighing, Daisy decides to spell it out for Misty. "He was so quick to help Tracey and leave just now. And when he was here, he sat by Tina. Not you. Are you guys okay?"

Oh. That. Misty knows Ash's reason for all of this, but it's not her business to tell. Instead, she innocently smiles and answers, "Ash is shy. You know that."

"Yeah, but-"

"Trust me, guys. We're good." The last time Misty saw her sisters, she was in a fake relationship with Ash. Times were more awkward back then due to that New Years kiss. Today, she and Ash are in a very stable romantic relationship. Things are much better.

The Sensational Sisters exchange skeptical glances, but don't question Misty further. "So…" Lily starts. "Are you and Ash finally gonna have a baby now?" It's a question that has been on all of their minds. The Sensational Sisters ask Misty and Ash every time they see them. Daisy is on her second child. Misty and Ash have presumably been married for years now. They are at a good age for children.

Letting out a breath, Misty passes back the now crying baby to Daisy. "When we have one, I'll let you know." She really doesn't want them bringing this up with Ash around. It's already enough having him here. "Please stop asking, guys."

"Like you're not getting any younger, Misty. What do you and Ash plan to do now?" Lily speaks up. "Do you even want kids?"

Blushing in embarrassment, Misty stands. "I'm gonna go watch the battle." She and Ash just barely started dating. Children are not something she's thinking about, especially with his fear of them. Even if he didn't have this aversion, it's just awkward having this conversation because making babies involves… Memories of the night after the League flash in Misty's head, causing her blush to darken. Luckily, her sisters don't follow her out the back where Misty decides to stand off to the side. She's not in the mood to talk to anyone, though her gaze does fall on her husband.

With her heartbeat quickening, Misty watches Ash's very large goofy grin. A grin he's been showing a lot with every battle. He still has yet to beat her, but he's a lot more of himself when he battles. He looks like he's enjoying himself. If someone were to wake up from a 5 year long coma, they'd have no idea the trauma Ash endured these past few years. He looks like his old self. There's just one thing holding him back now. At least, one thing Misty knows of.

That evening, Ash retreated to the room under the excuse of being tired from the trip. He had dinner and disappeared soon after. This makes everyone else more suspicious. Misty wants to spend more time with her family, especially little Jayson, but her sisters force her upstairs. Something about how a married couple needs to stick together. Misty knows they think Ash and her are in an argument, and they want the two to makeup. Whatever. Misty is somewhat tired too. She will be here all week, so she has plenty of time to be with her family.

Misty walks into the guest bedroom she will be sharing with Ash. They could take the risk and have Ash sleep on the floor. However, Tina might get curious again. Tina loves Ash and Misty a lot, so she may just innocently drop by too. The fact that Ash isn't in the room means he must be in the bathroom. Misty opens her suitcase to grab a change of clothes too because she'll be showering once Ash returns. They'll figure out sleeping arrangements later.

While they've slept in the same bed before, that was prior to them seriously dating. The last time they were in a bed together, they almost took it all the way. Misty doubts that'll happen with them under Daisy's roof, but Misty knows she and Ash will both be thinking about that day. It's embarrassing enough, and she's glad that Ash has also not mentioned that night.

Speaking of Ash… the door swings open to reveal him. He's fully clothed in his pajamas and curiously looking at her. Pikachu, like always, is with Tina, and Ash expects that's where Pikachu will be. Even though Tina had Pikachu on her team earlier, Ash still beat her. Ash likes the bond between Pikachu and Tina, but he wishes Pikachu would stick with him. Maybe he'll have Totodile come out of his pokeball to save him from this awkwardness.

"Hey."

"Hey." Misty responds and stands up.

Ash steps to the side to allow her to exit the room. "I thought you wanted to spend more time with your family?"

"They think we're arguing, so they made me come up here to make up with you." Misty nonchalantly tells him. "Just sleep on half of the bed."

"I'll take-"

"Tina." Misty reminds him and walks out.

Sighing, Ash hangs up his towel and looks at the lone queen sized bed. Misty is right. They can't be too careful with Tina around, even if she's preoccupied with her baby brother now. Also, Misty did say the Sensational Sisters think he and Misty are having marriage troubles. If anyone catches them not sleeping together, like Ash is on the ground, that'll bring up even more concerns. None of these argument accusations are true, but Ash and Misty don't want to deal with trying to convince Misty's family otherwise.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, Ash has his head in his hands. He lets out a long breath. When he was in the shower, he was doing the same thing. Just basking in the hot water and dwelling on reality. He can't avoid Jayson forever. He can't avoid all children forever. Being with Misty has shown him that he will constantly come to contact with children because he still wants to be involved with his friends. His friends who are moving onto bringing forth the next generation of themselves.

Back when he was hiding in his room, he could avoid all of these things that make him nervous. Nevertheless, that meant he was extremely lonely and unhappy. If he was to choose right now: return to his lonely easy life or remain in this more fun rewarding yet scary life, he's pretty sure he'll stick with this one. It's not too late for him to hop on Charizard and fly away, never to hold Jayson. Maybe hide in his room in Pallet Town again. Avoid everything that makes him anxious. That sounds very appealing, especially after everything he's endured these past few weeks.

The door opening breaks him out of thought as he watches Misty walk in in his tshirt. She's been wearing his tshirt lot because she likes how flowy and big they are. It's convenient, but he doesn't mind it. He likes seeing her in his clothes. When Misty removes the towel from her hair to hang up, she turns to instantly lock eyes with Ash. Blushing, Misty says, "What?"

The man stands up and chuckles. He approaches her, but with the door now closed, Misty shyly backs up against it. Slightly trapping her between him and the door, Ash lowers his face towards Misty. Running away to Pallet Town and his old life would be very easy and convenient. However, he doubts he can live his life without Misty again. This beautiful confused woman in front of him is the very reason he's loving his life right now. Regardless of his fears, she's helped him overcome so many of them already. Ash is sure he'll overcome this one with her help too.

Therefore, he rests his forehead on hers while his lips turn up into a warm smile. "I love you, Mist." Ash then closes the space between them with a very passionate kiss.

Overcoming her confusion, Misty finds her arms wrapping around Ash's neck out of habit as she now kisses him back. What happened while she was showering? Why is he kissing her? This came out of nowhere, but she won't stop him. They rarely kiss, so when they do, she basks in it. "I love you too, Ash." Misty pants out.

Shyly scratching the back of his head, Ash steps back to give Misty space. "I'm uh, gonna go to sleep now."

Not fair. He kissed her and got her heart beating too quickly to sleep. How can he go to sleep right after this? Misty saw the equally dark blush on his cheeks too. Climbing into bed beside him, Misty is sure to be as far away as possible, like Ash is. This is a lot more awkward now that they are a couple. Both of them are thinking about that night in Pallet Town after the fight with Rudy.

Since she can't sleep, and she doesn't want to keep thinking about almost having sex with the man beside her, Misty mutters, "Can I ask my question?"

Ash is grateful for the distraction, even if it is coming from the person he wants to forget is here. He fears he won't be able to control himself again because they're sharing a bed. "It's been a while since we did this."

Giggling, Misty agrees. "Yeah. But it's nice. It's how we first started getting along again." Misty does miss some of their antics in the beginning of their relationship. Back when things were awkward and no one knew what to say or do. These questions allowed them to have permission to get to know each other more intimately. Without the space to ask personal questions, Misty doubts she and Ash would have gotten as close as they are now and as quickly as they did.

"So what's your question, Mist?" They're both laying on their backs and facing the ceiling to avoid looking at the other.

She has a lot of questions actually. Does he plan to hold Sammy or Jayson? Why is he scared of children? Did he ever decide what he's doing this fall? Why did he kiss her? Where does he see them in the future? Does he even see her in his future? Did he ever buy condoms? Is his heart beating as fast as hers?

Instead, Misty opts for, "What do you want to do tomorrow?" Wow. What a copout, though they are here on vacation. Goldenrod City has so much to do.

Slightly relieved that Misty asked an easy question, Ash replies, "You've been here a lot, right? I haven't been here much. Is there some place you really want to go?"

"That's why I'm asking you, Ash." He's the newer one here.

Chuckling, Ash shuts his eyes. The last time he was in this city was to battle Whitney again to increase his ranking. "Is there any place you think I should see? I don't mind doing the Bug Catching Contest some time."

She shivers from the word. "I'm not doing that!"

"Why?"

"Bug Pokemon really bug me!" Misty reminds Ash, and he laughs again.

"Okay. How about fishing on the routes?"

"We can fish anywhere, Ash. Let's go to the underground shops." If he won't come up with something unique to do, she will. Although, fishing does sound like a lot of fun.

"That's sketchy."

"I'm a gym leader. We'll be fine." Also, Ash is a strong trainer again. They'll overcome any thugs who try to battle them below. Misty hopes they get challenged because that way, Ash can improve. He's only battled her and Tina, though he did battle Max that one time at Annalise's birthday party.

"Gym leader today. Elite Four Member next month." Ash proudly boasts, earning him a light slap on the chest from the woman beside him.

"Don't jinx it!"

"I'm speaking it into existence!" Ash whines as he rubs his chest playfully hurt. "Jimmy is doing awesome in the tournament. He's gonna win, and then his spot will open up, and you'll get it! You deserve it more than anyone!"

"The League doesn't think that." Misty scoffs. She isn't exactly the best employee because she does her own thing with her gym. As long as she follows the minimum requirements to keep her gym open and passing inspections, then the League can't do much to her besides fine her.

"I'm sure they'll make the best choice." Ash really hopes the League won't hold Misty's bad attendance against her. She really is one of the most powerful single type trainers in the region.

"Enough about that!" Misty waves her hands in the air. This is exactly why she wanted to get away from Pallet Town. It's too close to all the action, and that's making her more anxious. She just wants to forget about the tournament. If she gets offered the Elite Four position, then she'll handle that problem then. Else, she'll just keep living her gym leader life like she's been doing. "What's your question?"

Frowning, Ash takes in a deep breath. He hadn't thought of a question because Misty brought this up. Again, they haven't done this in a long time. He'll probably regret asking this, but it really is the only question on his mind right now. Ever since he and Misty got together seriously, Ash feels like she's more wary around him. Like she's more considerate about his feelings and scared that something she says could push him away.

He wants her to continue treating him like she did before they confessed to each other. To be blunt and have no patience with him. To push him and expect a lot. To be vocal and honest with him, regardless of how much it hurts him to hear the truth. That's the reason he was able to grow as much as he did this year. Thus, Ash answers, "What's your real question?"

"Huh?" Misty blinks at him in confusion to see his eyes are shut. "What do you mean?"

"That's my question." Ash sternly states.

Sighing, Misty shuts her eyes to hopefully escape the tenseness. Why is he doing this? Things are already awkward enough in Daisy's house with them faking their marriage and Ash avoiding Jayson. The one place Misty thought they could be safe and comfortable was this room, but that has proved difficult too. She can't stop thinking about the fact that they are alone in the same bed. And now, Ash wants to ask personal questions? Well, that's the whole point of these one question a day things anyway.

"Why?"

"Because I know that wasn't your question. You could've just asked me that in the morning tomorrow. It doesn't count." Ash can feel his heart picking up speed. "So just ask whatever is on your mind."

"That was it." The stubborn woman answers.

Inwardly groaning, Ash turns on his side to open his eyes and lock them onto the slightly annoyed cerulean ones beside him. "If you don't ask, then I'll just guess it."

"This is stupid, Ash. Stop wasting your question."

"You wasted yours, so I can do what I want with mine." Their sacred One Question A Day should not be used in vain like this. That is not the point of asking the question.

"Night, Ash." Misty turns around to stop looking into those dangerous brown eyes. Eyes she's sure will make her lips latch onto his and certain actions might occur on this bed.

However, Ash is not going to let this go. He's just as stubborn as her, so he says, "You want to know what I'm doing this fall?."

"Just go to sleep, dumbass." She is not trying to argue right now. Every time talks about the fall come up, the air becomes uncomfortable around them.

"So that's it." confirms the man.

"Go to sleep before you regret it."

Ignoring her threat, Ash tells her, "If you are an Elite Four member, I'll travel again. I mean, I want to travel, so I should. I need to stop being scared, right?" No response, so Ash continues. "But if you're still at the gym, I'll stay." Running a gym is a lot more busy than being an Elite Four member. Misty will need the help, despite her claiming otherwise.

"Just travel since you wanna do it so bad." grumbles the redhead. She will not stop him, nor will she hold him back.

"The gym-"

"I ran it by myself for over a decade. I can do it again."

Sighing, Ash nervously clenches his sweaty fist. "I don't wanna break up. I don't wanna take a break."

Okay. Here he is opening this can up again. Annoyed, Misty turns back to glare at him. "Why couldn't you have just let it go and gone to sleep?"

"I-"

"No, Ash! You always do this! You always push things when you shouldn't! You're the one who's the most secretive, but you want to get the most information! It's not fair!"

Back when they first started out, and he kept questioning her about the Cape. She would back off about his breakup and his past, but he kept asking about the Cape. While Misty is being respectful of Ash, he is doing the opposite towards her. Why is he being so pushy? Does he understand that she's just as curious, if not more, about his secrets? It's taking everything in her to bite her tongue for the sake of their relationship and for his sake. She knows he's not ready, so she will be patient and wait, though he can't do the same with her? That's so hypocritical, Ash Ketchum!

"Summer will fly by. I think we should talk about this!" insists Ash, further irking Misty.

"I don't want to talk about this right now. The last thing I want to do here, on vacation, is argue!"

"Me too, Misty, but we can't just keep ignoring it!" Ash is now getting more upset too. "I don't wanna take a break!"

"I don't wanna talk about this! Don't you care about my feelings, ever?"

"Don't you care about mine? We-" exclaims the heated man.

"Wow! That's so rich coming from you!" Misty sits up angrily. "I don't care about your feelings? You don't think I want to ask you all these personal questions too? But I fucking don't, Ash! I respect your privacy and feelings enough not to push it, but you're always pushing me!"

"What are you talking about? I've been giving you space!" Ever since the whole Mewtwo thing, Ash hasn't pried into her life.

"Really?" She states in disbelief. "What am I talking about?" Too late now. They're both angry and frustrated by a lot. "Since you asked for it, here it is! Why are you scared of children? What made you hide yourself for three fucking years? Why do you still have that ring? Why did you and Serena break up?"

"Don't say her name!" shouts Ash.

"Why? Why?" Misty yells back. "You can ask about the Cape and you can push me now, but you can't take it! And you claim I don't care about your feelings? You're such an ass!"

Slamming his fist on the bed, Ash storms out. He's pissed, and now he's hurt. Hurt by Misty and his past. Any time he hears that name, his heart drops. Hurrying down the stairs, Ash is met with the eerie silence and the nervous eyes of Misty's family. Pikachu is the only one with enough courage to speak up. "Pikapi?"

However, Ash ignores him by opening the front door and leaving. Everyone had heard the shouting from the past minute. Tracey was about to go upstairs when he heard the guest bedroom door slam, indicating that someone had left. That was when Ash came downstairs looking very angry and hurt. Tina worriedly holds onto Pikachu. She hates it when people argue, especially adults.

"Let's get you to bed, Tina." Tracey ushers the girl upstairs.

Everything Misty said earlier about how she and Ash are fine is now invalidated by the family. That argument and Ash's expression says everything about what's going on between them. While the Waterflowers and Sketchits don't know the details, they do know that things aren't faring well for Misty's marriage. No one wants Misty to be hurt by Ash again, nor for her to be abandoned by him once more.

Jayson had started crying when Ash slammed the front door, so Daisy decides to put him to sleep upstairs where Tracey is now with Pikachu and Tina. Before Daisy leaves, she tells her sisters, "You gals should check on Misty."

Sighing, Lily and Violet exchange concerned looks. They've never been the ones to have heart to heart conversations with Misty. That's Daisy, mainly because Daisy has settled down. Lily and Violet are only taking a break from traveling to see Jayson. Then they decided to stick around for Misty and Ash to arrive. That way, the whole family could be together, but no one expected this argument to occur.

"You've always been better at it." Violet states.

Daisy yawns. As much as she wants to go comfort Misty, Daisy is exhausted. Raising a newborn is a lot of work, and she's still recovering from the birth. How can she help Misty with her problems when Daisy isn't mentally prepared for it? "I'm not the best person today."

"I'll do it." Lily throws her hands up in defeat. She's the least emotionally sentimental one here, but Lily doesn't like knowing that Misty has been upstairs alone this whole time.

What if Misty is crying? What if there's something worse going on? The little sister who comes off as independent and strong is quite the opposite. She's lonely and scared. Having Ash in her life had really made the Sensational Sisters more at ease about Misty's well-being. Misty is happier and more adventurous with Ash. Thus, this argument, and the potential for more, concerns everyone who knows how Misty's happiness has depended a lot on this man.

"I'll talk to her tomorrow." Violet nods as Lily walks off. If more than one person goes into the room, Misty will get defensive. She'll feel attacked, and she already feels terrible due to the fight with Ash.

When Lily knocks on Misty's door without a response, the pinkette fears the worst. She flings open the door, letting in light from the hallway. To Lily's surprise, a very grumpy and annoyed, "What?" comes at her.

Lily blinks in confusion at Misty who is under the covers with her head out. Was Misty just sleeping? Sleeping peacefully? After Ash had stormed out? After a huge argument with him? "Um. Are you, like, okay, Misty?"

"Yeah. Just tired."

Yup. Lily is definitely not the best person for this. How can she talk to Misty when Misty is acting like everything is okay? Awkwardly fidgeting by the doorway, Lily finds the courage to say, "So we saw Ash leave. He looked pretty upset."

Sighing, Misty faces Lily where Lily can see the very annoyed younger woman. "I don't wanna talk about it. I just wanna sleep." What is it with people wanting to talk about things Misty isn't in the mood for? She gets it that conversations need to be had, but there is a time and place for that. A time and place both parties can feel comfortable about.

"Someone should probably check on Ash too, right?"

"Do what you want." Misty shuts her eyes. "I'm gonna sleep." Although she's hurt by Ash's words and actions, Misty just wants to sleep off this feeling. Or at least sleep off enough of it. She knows in the morning, the tension will be less...hopefully.

Reluctantly nodding, Lily steps back out of the room. "Good night, Misty."

"Night, Lil."

Making her way downstairs, Lily notices that it's empty. Did everyone go to bed already? She enters the room she shares with Violet only to see it's empty too. Is Violet in the bathroom? But that's also empty. Tracey and Daisy have a master bathroom they use, so Lily goes to knock on their door.

Daisy slowly opens it to glare at her sister. They just managed to put Jayson down to sleep, and they don't want him waking up. "How'd it go?" Daisy steps into the hall. If Daisy wasn't concerned about Misty, Daisy would just tell Lily to go to sleep.

"She didn't want to talk, so I didn't push her."

Daisy groans. Typical Misty. "I'll talk to her tomorrow."

"No. You're stressed out enough, Daisy. Violet and I will handle it."

"Thanks, but she's still my baby sister." Daisy will prepare herself to talk to Misty tomorrow. Misty is more honest with her too.

"Do you know where Violet is?" Lily inquires as Daisy yawns.

"She and Pikachu went looking for Ash." After Tracey put Tina to bed, Pikachu couldn't fall asleep. He left the room. Although Tina wanted to search for her uncle too, Violet made the girl stay back by promising to check on Ash herself. Thus, Violet and Pikachu left to search for the angry man.

"Really?" Lily is surprised because Violet didn't want to be the one to talk to Misty. Maybe it's just easier talking to a stranger than to someone she cares about and knows well? "Well, good night, Daisy."

"Good night, Lily." Daisy smiles. "They'll be okay. Tracey says they've always argued and made up."

"True." Lily replies. However, both sisters aren't fully convincing themselves. This looked and sounded much worse than a childhood argument.

Outside, Pikachu has managed to sniff out Ash's scent, which allows Violet to find him. Fortunately, Ash hadn't ventured off too far. He seems to just be walking aimlessly around the quiet neighborhood. It's not too late yet, so there are a few people strolling too. Ash is so deep in thought that he doesn't notice Violet and Pikachu until Pikachu jumps onto his shoulder.

Shocked, Ash soon relaxes noticing it's just his loyal starter Pokemon. He is curious why Violet is here. If any of the Sensational Sisters were to come after him, he figured it'd be Daisy. "Hey, Ash!" Violet grins, unsure of how to interact with him. Usually, Violet and Lily are together when they see Ash. Violet has never spoken to him alone.

"Hey, Violet." Ash can't even fake a cheerful voice. He continues walking, though he does slow his strides down for her. He doubts Violet has any Pokemon on her, and she is very pretty, though not as pretty as Misty. Ash can't let something happen to a helpless woman, especially Misty's sister. Mew. He shakes his head in frustration. All he can think about is Misty when he wants it to stop. He just wants to cool down already!

Noticing the aggressive shakes, Violet nervously asks, "Are you okay?"

Ash sighs. "I don't know." He admits. As much as he wants to lie, he can't bring himself to do it. He's hurting too much.

Nodding, Violet continues walking beside him silently. She occasionally exchanges worried looks with Pikachu. Neither one is sure of what to say. Giving in, Pikachu goes for it. "Pikapi pikachu pikachupi pika?"

Ash chuckles sadly. "We've been doing that a lot lately, huh?"

"Pi." Pikachu's ears go flat.

Violet doesn't understand Pikachu, so she doesn't know what he said to Ash or what Ash agreed to. "Are you and Misty okay?"

Of course he knew letting Violet walk with him would mean he can't stop thinking about Misty. Not like he could prior to Violet joining. All he can ever think about is his girlfriend. "Don't know." Ash is careful to make sure no one is near them. Pikachu too uses his great hearing to listen around for eavesdroppers.

While Violet does not know the nature of the argument or whatever is going on in this marriage, she does know Misty. Gazing up at the night sky, Violet informs him, "Misty never wanted to be the gym leader. She felt like that was our parents' legacy they left on us, but not her because she was only a baby when they left."

Ash keeps his gaze on the ground. He hates hearing about Misty's parents abandoning her because it angers him. While his own father left him, he can't imagine both parents leaving four young girls to run a gym! That's much worse! Props to Daisy for keeping the family together, but that doesn't justify the abandonment. No one deserves that.

"She kept going off about becoming a water Pokemon master. I know we tease her a lot, but we are always rooting for her." Violet smiles thinking about the young spunky Misty. "We were pretty selfish teenagers throwing the gym at her without even asking her."

Now that they're older, the sisters realized that was pretty cruel of them. They always figured that they'd return after a year and Misty could travel with Ash again. However, once they did return, Misty was very invested in the gym. The Sensational Sisters prefer performing shows over battling, so it was a win-win situation for everyone.

"Over time, we came to realize that Misty still has that dream to be the best water Pokemon trainer. A dream she can't accomplish just by being a gym leader." Violet sighs disappointedly. "And we know she's missed you. Every time she returns from seeing you, or from a call or letter or message from you, she'd be so happy. The happiest I've ever seen her. And even though we are the reason she had to stop pursuing her dream with you, she never blamed us. She took on the responsibility." Violet's voice cracks. "We were forced to grow up fast, but we should've never done the same to her."

"Don't blame yourself. She doesn't." Ash reiterates Violet's words. "Being a gym leader has developed her a lot and made her stronger. She has a much better reputation than me." He only has the Alolan Championship to show for, but that was over a decade ago.

Gratefully nodding, Violet takes in a deep breath. "Just, um, like, Misty is very forgiving and understanding. I know she's hot headed and stubborn, but she always puts others first. It's the reason she forgets to take care of herself. I'm glad you're around to care for her, Ash."

For now. Thinks the man with a frown. Everything Violet said is true. Misty is selfless and caring and considerate. It just pisses him off more as he recalls his argument with Misty nearly an hour ago. They were talking about who cares more about the other's feelings, and he accused her of not caring for his. All she's done is cared about his feelings, except for just one thing. One thing he can't let go of. "If I travel again, I'm scared it'll break us."

Pikachu and Violet look at him in surprise. "What do you mean?"

Shaking his head, Ash clenches his fists in his pocket. "I wanna travel and compete again. I feel ready, but every time I'm away from Misty, our relationship falls through." The man chuckles. "I don't wanna lose her, so I won't travel, but then she got mad. She says if I don't travel, then she's breaking up with me."

"Ash, you're married. It's not that easy to break up when you're married." Violet reminds him, and Ash recalls that everyone thinks he's married. They don't know that he and Misty are dating now.

"Right." Mutters Ash.

Pikachu, though, remembers the conversation in the car ride from Cerulean City a few weeks ago. "Chu?"

"Uh." Ash bites the inside of his cheek. "If I travel, we're done. If I stay, we're done. I don't get it. Why won't Misty just let me stay with her like I did this year?" They all know the answer to this.

"So let me get this straight." Violet massages her temples. "If you travel, you'll break up with her. But if you stay, she'll break up with you."

"Exactly."

"So no matter what, you're going to get divorced?"

Ash breathes out a long breath through his nose. When Violet puts it this way, then he has no idea what he's fighting for. This relationship is inevitably going to end. With his heart aching at the realization, Ash mumbles, "I guess."

"You two just went public less than a year ago!"

"I know."

"I don't get why you can't just stay together? Whether you travel or not, love is supposed to withstand anything, right?" Violet knows how much Misty loves Ash. Misty has loved Ash since she was 10. However, does Ash love her that much too? He has forgotten her plenty of times already.

Guilty, the man decides to silently walk around the block once more rather than turn into the Sketchit driveway. Love is supposed to withstand anything, though he's neglected Misty twice already. He claims to have loved her when they were children, but his actions have shown the contrary. The only difference now is that he's aware of his feelings. Although he claims to not let there be a repeat of before, he doesn't fully trust himself. He doesn't have the best track record for maintaining communication with Misty.

When they round the corner and see the Sketchit house again, Ash says, "I'm not sure love is enough, Violet." He then hurries up the front steps of the porch, relieved that the door was left unlocked.

"Wait, Ash!" Violet wants to know what he means by that. What is going on? She slips inside behind him to lock the door and ask, "What are you saying?"

Ash lays down on the couch, grabbing a couch pillow to support his head. There's no way he'll be going back in the room with Misty. "Do you know where the spare blankets are?"

"Don't ignore me, Ash! This is my baby sister's happiness! It's my business too!"

"Pikapi!" Pikachu scolds too.

Groaning, Ash sits up to face their demanding eyes. "If you get me a blanket, I'll answer you."

Violet rolls her eyes, but she returns with a spare blanket she tosses at him. "Are you getting a divorce?"

"That's the plan." It was always the plan. He and Misty can't see eye to eye, so they may as well end things before it gets worse. They're both too stubborn to see the other's view. As much as they want to stay together, they doubt it'll work out regardless of what Ash ends up doing this fall. When all of this started nearly a year ago, the plan was to get divorced. It was spoken into existence.

"Ash…"

"Can you not tell anyone? I don't want Misty knowing I told you. She'll be more mad, and then it'll be more awkward here." Ash already regrets telling Violet everything, but he was just so angry. He needed to get things off his chest. Confiding in a Sensational Sister was the wrong way because even Misty doesn't confide in her sisters. They have huge mouths. Ash fears the tabloids will hear about this in the morning.

Fortunately, Violet is the most reasonable sister after Misty. Despite wanting to tell the whole family, she will respect Ash's words. He confided in her because he trusts her enough. She needs to respect that. Also, Violet respects and loves Misty too much to tell her news. Misty will tell them when she's ready. Nodding, Violet heads for the stairs as Pikachu hops onto Ash's stomach. "I won't say anything, but I really hope you two work this out."

"Me too." Ash shuts his eyes. "Thanks, Violet." When Violet is upstairs, Pikachu sends an angry thunderbolt attack on Ash, jolting Ash off the couch. "What the heck, Pikachu!"

"Pi pikapi pikachupi pika pi pichu!" scolds the mouse.

"You've seen us! We've always had the tension! And we avoid talking about the fall! Whenever we do, we just argue worse and worse, Pikachu! It's not going to work out!"

"Chu!"

"I did try!"

"Pi pika!"

Shaking his head in annoyance, Ash climbs back onto the couch, but Pikachu shocks him again. "What?" he exasperates.

"Pikapi pikachu pi pika."

"I've gone through a much worse break up before. I can handle this one." He doesn't need anyone worrying about him anymore. He'll just travel and return to his old self. Adventure has always excited him and made him content. Maybe he's letting his anger cloud him and make him selfish right now? Regardless, he knows the world is calling to him. It always has, and he will make his return this fall.

"Pi…"

"Go to sleep. I am." Ash is glad Pikachu doesn't shock him again, though he feels the holes Pikachu's eyes are bearing on his back. Eventually, Pikachu scampers upstairs to either Tina's or Misty's room. Whatever. Ash doesn't need anymore judgment. He's tried to make amends with Misty who won't give in. There's no reason to break up if he stays. He loves her, and he will stay for her, but she won't let him. That's her own fault. Even if he visits from his travels every month, like he promised, she still wants a break. They might as well just break up at that point and stop wasting each other's time. They should just break up now.

However, his aching heart tells him that's the last thing he wants. This very real future for them is not what he wants. All he wants is to be with her and to remain happy. The world is pulling them apart again. No. He is pulling them apart again, but this time, he has no choice. Love is not enough to fix this. Why does it seem like love is never enough for him?

In the morning, typical Misty is the first one awake. Pikachu had checked up on her last night, but he went back to Tina soon after. Ash obviously didn't return because Misty woke up without him in the room. She's also a light sleeper, so she would've known if he returned. Whatever. Despite feeling hurt that he didn't come back, she's just as stubborn to not admit her emotions. He should not have brought up that conversation last night. Misty regrets asking him a question rather than just going to sleep.

Deciding that she'll start on breakfast because everyone else is still asleep, Misty makes her way downstairs. Once at the bottom, she's in the living room where she instantly spots a sleeping figure under a blanket on the couch. So that's where he was all night. Shooting him an intense glare, Misty walks into the kitchen. He's the one who argued first, so he will have to be the one to apologize. She did nothing wrong.

As the morning goes on, typical heavy sleeper Ash doesn't wake up. Tina and Pikachu are the next ones up after Misty. They help her make breakfast, and Tina asks, "Are you okay, Auntie Misty?"

Misty and Pikachu know Tina is referring to the argument last night. Faking a smile, Misty ruffles Tina's hair. "Yes, baby. I'm always okay."

The girl is skeptical of the answer, especially because her uncle is asleep in the living room. "Are you and Uncle Ash going to get a divorce?"

"No!" Misty exclaims, making Tina flinch. Calming down, the redhead takes in a few deep breaths. "I mean, people argue all the time. Don't worry about it." It's nothing new between her and Ash. All they've ever done is argue since the day they met.

"It sounded scary."

"I know. I'm sorry, honey. It won't happen again." Misty will make sure to control her anger better while they are in public. It keeps nosey people away, and it stops the children from being frightened.

"I like Uncle Ash." confesses Tina shyly. "And I love Pikachu. I don't want you to get a divorce."

Why does she keep talking about a divorce? Tina is so smart. Misty can't get anything past her. "Tina, I love your Uncle Ash so much." Ouch. Only these children can ever get Misty to easily swallow her pride. No matter how much it hurts her. "And I love Pikachu too. You have nothing to worry about."

"But-"

"Why don't you go wake up your aunts? Breakfast is almost ready." suggests Misty who heads back to the stove.

Tina exchanges a worried look with Pikachu, but she nods. "Okay. I'll get mommy and daddy too."

"Let them sleep in. I know they're tired because of Jayson." Misty heard the baby crying throughout the night. She is a light sleeper. The Sketchit parents haven't had much sleep, as most parents of newborns suffer.

With Tina and Pikachu out of the kitchen, Misty leans over the counter to let out a long heavy breath. They just had to argue in this house where everyone could hear. No use trying to hide anything now. And her sisters were speculating that she and Ash are having marital problems right before the argument. The timing is awful.

"I still love you too."

Misty's attention snaps to the entryway where she locks eyes with familiar warm brown ones. He's very annoyed, but he looks a lot better than last night. "What?"

Swallowing his own pride, though somewhat, Ash reiterates, "I love you too." He heard Misty say that to Tina a few minutes ago while he was in the living room.

Scoffing, Misty starts putting the cooked food on the table. Tina and Pikachu had helped set it with clean dishes earlier. "That doesn't change anything."

"Why not?" insists the man. It took him hours to fall asleep because he kept thinking about her. About them. Why are they being so stubborn? Why is she being so stubborn? How come they just can't be together?

"Do you need me to explain everything to you, Ash?" Mew. He's infuriating, even when it's not his intention. She reaches for a large serving bowl on a high shelf, though her fingers barely brush against it. Not only is she in a bad mood from last night and then Tina's concerned questions, but she has to deal with her boyfriend again now and this bowl is out of reach. The slightest inconvenience is really going to set her off.

Soon, Misty feels something warm pressed against her back, and a large tan arm is beside her own. With her gaze still up at the bowl, she watches the new arm easily grab the bowl and bring it down to the counter. Ash then takes a step back awkwardly and scratches the back of his head. "If we love each other, then why can't we just stay together this fall?"

"Because I don't trust you not to break my heart again." Misty walks away with the bowl. "Thanks." She refers to him grabbing it for her. Having her back to him as she scoops food into the bowl, Misty is glad her blush is being hidden. Mew. Does this dense man realize what he was doing by being so close to her? Does he not realize how fast he makes her heartbeat? How much he makes it ache? How much she wants to let him hurt her again next year, but her brain is telling her otherwise.

"Just give me this chance." insists Ash. He doesn't blame her for not trusting him when he travels. He's forgotten about her twice already, though this time, they're romantically involved. He won't forget about her this time. He just needs her to believe in him once more. For their sake. If they love each other, there's no reason to separate.

"This is exactly why I don't wanna talk about it."

"We need to talk about it! September will be here before we know it!"

"Then we'll talk about it then!"

"That's so selfish!" Ash exclaims as Misty walks to the table.

"Tch. Selfish? That's rich coming from you."

"Tina's coming." The two adults turn to see Violet walking in for a glass of water. She raises a skeptical eyebrow at them. Hearing them from the stairs, she hurried to quiet them down before Tina could arrive and hear them too. The little girl would be devastated. Ash's words from last night reiterate in Violet's head. It's taking a lot for her not to say anything, but hearing another argument, Violet knows things aren't looking too good for Ash and Misty's relationship.

Since the privacy is gone, Ash leaves to brush his teeth and prepare for the morning. With him out of the kitchen, Violet continues eying Misty who sighs. "What is it, Vi?"

Violet innocently shrugs. "That's two already. Are you guys okay?"

"We can handle it. You know we argue all the time."

"Not about breaking up or a divorce." She had heard the context on the stairs. "You've barely been public-"

"Yeah, I know." Misty narrows her eyes sharply at Violet just as Tina and Pikachu walk into the kitchen. Noticing the new arrivals, Misty resumes cleaning up a bit as she waits for Lily and Ash to come back. Everyone awake might as well eat.

Letting out a breath, Violet drops the conversation for now. Just what is going on between Ash and Misty? They were fine at New Years...right? Although, they were kind of awkward towards the end of that reunion. Nevertheless, in the beginning, they were very lovey dovey. Violet really hopes this is just a phase where Ash and Misty are still learning how to be married.

Hours later, after everyone is awake and Ash and Misty have continued to avoid each other, the group splits to do their own activities. Ash opts to train, which has Tina eagerly following him. He's her only uncle, but she loves him a lot regardless of the title. Ash is a very strong trainer. Wanting to be a strong trainer someday too, Tina has always admired Misty. Now she has Ash too.

"How come you're not talking to Auntie Misty?" asks the innocent girl. Pikachu warily watches his trainer.

Frowning, Ash commands Sceptile to attack Charizard. "It's adult stuff."

"Are you getting a divorce?" She had asked Misty that this morning.

How can Ash lie to a child? How can he lie to Tina? "Don't worry about it."

"That's what Aunt Misty said too! Why are you mad at each other?"

"It's complicated." Ash sighs in frustration. "We love each other, so we'll figure it out, okay. Please stop asking, Tina."

"But-"

"Tina." His stern voice makes her obediently nod.

"Fine. I'm gonna go see Jayson." Rather than being around her uncle who she just upset, Tina will see her baby brother. She misses Jayson because he's very cute. Also, the air is awkward around her and Ash right now.

Feeling slightly guilty, Ash quickly says, "Tina!" Before she can enter the house, she faces him with a small smile. "It'll be okay. I promise."

"Okay, Uncle Ash." The girl then walks inside, and Ash groans loudly. He just lied. How can he make a promise when he's not even sure? Why is Misty making this so difficult? If she loves him, then it's a no brainer that they should just stay together.

"Pi pikachu." Pikachu knowingly remarks, making Ash glare at him.

"I'm not the problem here."

"Chu."

"She doesn't believe in us. I mean, I get why, but c'mon, Pikachu! I've changed! We're seriously together now! Why won't she just give me one more chance?"

"Pika pikachu pi pikapi pikachu pi pichu."

He frowns again. "I do believe in us."

"Pi pika."

"I don't have doubts!" Pikachu gives him a skeptical look, so Ash's glare deepens. "Fine. Maybe I don't fully believe I won't forget about her again. But I am older and more aware now. I'll set reminders on my pokenav, and you can nag me about her too."

"Pikapi pikachu pi pichu!" That is not what Misty wants! She wants Ash's love to be enough. Not some reminders. Of course, Pikachu knows his dense trainer won't understand this. Giving up, the mouse scampers back into the training field, leaving Ash more frustrated.

"This sucks." He mutters and kicks the dirt. Taking in a deep breath, he regathers his Pokemon to run some sprints. Wearing out his body will surely distract his already aching brain. He is wrong.

After Tina and Tracey take Jayson for a stroll outside, Misty is left home alone with Daisy. Lily and Violet always venture off into the busy city. They love Goldenrod City. They claim it's a much more exciting Saffron City. Misty has her head resting on the cool kitchen counter as Daisy is making a smoothie. The moment Misty was left alone with Daisy, Misty's tough resolve crumbled.

"Is it really that bad?" Daisy inquires once the blender stops.

"Are you gonna ask me about it too?" Tracey had tried to talk to her earlier as well.

Daisy shrugs. "Tracey says you two always argue and make up, so we should give you time, right?" Daisy is used to Misty's short temper, and Tracey did say the couple is very stubborn.

Chuckling sadly, Misty mutters, "Sure."

Daisy pats Misty's back reassuringly. "You and Ash have always been in love. Trust yourself and your feelings. It'll work out."

Yeah right. No one knows the basis for this argument. It's not like some of their usual childish ones. It's one that will end up breaking them because it's inevitable. Why does the world keep pulling them apart? It's been over two decades, but it's never the right time for them. Is it wrong of her to push him away to pursue his dreams? Not at all.

The reason she's telling Ash for not trusting his communication skills when he travels is really a cover for her to protect her heart. She loves him a lot. So much that'd she allow herself to be betrayed by his negligence again. However, her brain is telling her that this neglect will break her, and she can't afford to let that happen. Not at this stage in her life.

"Thanks, Daisy."

"You're welcome! What are big sisters for?" Daisy boasts. Rarely does she ever play the big sister role towards Misty. "I'll have Tracey set up the pull up downstairs for Ash."

The redhead shakes her head. "No. We should be in the same room. Married couples should always spend their nights together, especially when they're arguing." In reality, Misty just doesn't want Tina getting more scared. Misty and Ash are like her second set of parents. Them going through a divorce will devastate Tina. With her heart aching tremendously, Misty knows it's inevitable to protect Tina from the truth for long. The divorce will happen. Tina will be hurt, but Misty will deal with that in a few months.

That night, Ash finishes what is his third training session for the day. He's been using the training sessions as a way to continue avoiding Misty. Something all the adults have noticed. Tina thinks it's because he wants to get stronger for the tournament this upcoming season. Ash's Pokemon don't mind the training because they love it. They love getting stronger alongside their trainer, especially after that three year hiatus.

When he walks out of the shower, he is surprised to see the very woman he's been avoiding and who has also been avoiding him all day. Stepping past her, he hopes to quickly escape to the room, though her voice stops him. "We need to talk."

"So now you wanna talk?" He winces. Why did he say that? She wants to have a civil conversation, but his pride made him say that. She didn't want to talk last night, and now she wants to talk? It's not fair, though he shouldn't have brought that up.

Turning to glare at him while following him to the bedroom, Misty's arms are crossed over her chest. The whole time he was in the shower, she was swallowing her pride and trying to think of how to approach him. However, him saying that just now irks her to the core. What an ass. "We can just get divorced now if you're gonna be like that." Thankfully, her family is all downstairs watching a movie. Ash and Misty haven't been able to wholeheartedly enjoy time with the Waterflowers and Sketchits due to arguing their first day here. Misty just wants everyone to get along!

"Fine. But I at least tried!" Misty snaps.

Shooting his attention back to her, Ash counters, "I tried this morning!"

Misty is about to shout, but she remembers her family downstairs. Taking in a deep breath, she shuts her eyes to calm down somewhat. Ash's anger also subsides a bit with her silence as he watches her. When Misty opens her eyes again, she meets his brown orbs. They don't look angry, like she expected. They look hurt. Why is he looking at her like that despite his face being in a clear scowl?

"Can we go for a walk?" If they argue, then Tina won't be subjected to hear it again.

"Fine." With it being summer, Ash doesn't need a coat. He didn't even pack one. He grabs his pokenav and wallet to put in his pocket, hangs up his towel, and walks past Misty who is at the doorway. "Let's go."

Sighing, Misty hopes she can keep her anger in check. When they get downstairs, they're met by the curious and concerned eyes of her family. "We'll be back." Misty innocently tells them and follows Ash out of the house.

After a few blocks, Ash stops to turn and face her. "What?" They've walked for a while now and she hasn't said a word. It's just been extremely awkward silence between them. He should've grabbed Pikachu on his way out.

Taking her time, she catches up to him. Ash has longer legs, and although he was walking slower than usual for her, he was walking just fast enough to not be beside her. "I don't wanna talk about the fall anymore."

"That's so stupid." Ash shakes his head in disbelief. They can't keep hiding from something that is bound to happen!

"We already know we're done that day, Ash. What the use in talking?" Misty is being quiet enough in case someone is listening.

"You say we're done! I don't want us to end." hisses the man.

"But can you really believe that you won't forget me again?"

Pursing his lips, Ash turns back to walk. That's not fair. "I know I love you."

"Will it be enough?"

"Is it enough for you?"

Misty furrows her brows. Ash is walking slow enough for her to be beside him now, but the two aren't looking at each other. "It'll be too painful."

Well, when she puts it that way, then he definitely distrusts himself more. While he may claim and want to believe that he won't forget her, he isn't so sure. How can he try to convince her to trust him when he can't even trust himself? He cannot put her through that pain again. "I don't wanna break up."

"I've only loved you." Misty reminds him. She will only love him. It's always been only Ash. "Just be a Pokemon Master quickly and come back to me."

"Don't wait for me." sigh Ash because she's waited enough for him. "I'll stay." If he doesn't trust himself to remain in contact with her, then he just won't leave her at all.

"I'm not gonna be the reason you don't fulfill your dream." Misty reminds him.

"So you'd rather be the reason we break up?"

"Yes!" No hesitation there because she's already had this conversation with herself many times over. Despite her heart breaking, this is the right choice. She fell in love with an aspiring Pokemon Master. Not a stay at home husband. As much as she's enjoyed his company this past year, this is not Ash's destiny. Misty loves him too much to allow him to sell himself short like this. "We're breaking up regardless, so just accept it already."

Ash scoffs painfully. "I won't accept it. We do not need to break up."

"And I don't need to be hurt by you again."

"And I said I wouldn't hurt you!"

"You don't even believe yourself!" Misty notes since Ash can't look her in the eyes right now. "It's going to happen, whether we like it or not. So accept it now and we can keep faking this until then, or we can just end it now."

"This is so stupid." Ash shakes his head in disbelief. "Why even agree to be my girlfriend if you were just gonna break up with me anyway?"

"Because I didn't think you'd make the wrong choice again." She picks up her walking speed, and Ash inwardly groans.

"What are you talking about?" No response, so he grabs her arm. "Misty!"

"What?" Her pained fiery eyes pierce his, causing him to release her. The two stare at each other for a while until Misty answers, "The world wants Ash Ketchum. Not who Ash Ketchum expects we want." And when she walks off this time, he lets her.

Rubbing the back of his neck, Ash gazes up into the night sky. So it's gonna happen anyway? Then let it happen now. That will save them both a lot of heartache, though he'd have all summer to deal with the media and his loved ones questioning him. Yeah. He'll just wait until he leaves. That way, he can just ignore all the questions. He'll be leaving Misty to deal with them, but she's the one selfishly putting this breakup on him.

Ash clenches his fists tightly. These next few months are going to be hard. He's mad at himself for not being able to convince her to make it work. He's mad that he let her walk away. That he's letting this breakup happen. He's so mad. It's the reason he was training all day today. Although he can blame Misty all he wants, he knows this breakup is because of him. She doesn't trust him, for good reason too.

Thus, Ash doubles back to the house to wait for Misty on the front porch. She arrives later, probably because she decided to walk longer. Thinking he's going to try and convince her otherwise again, Misty hurries to the front door, but Ash doesn't stop her physically. Instead, he says, "We'll wait until a few months after I start traveling again. Say the distance didn't work...but let's break up now."

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