I was trying to make this one long chapter with the Sketchits, but it's getting long, so let's aim for two chapters. I'm almost done with the second chapter. One milestone at a time. Anyway, enjoy! Hopefully chapter 7 comes before New Years. Happy Holidays!
"Wait, what?" Ash exclaims at the woman walking towards the stair. Tracey and Daisy are coming here? Tonight? Why?
"I guess they want answers too. In person." Misty groans. "They should be gone after a few days, but they might just stick around longer because this is a marriage…" She helplessly looks at him. "We'll tell them what we told your mom, but can you just help me make it look real now?"
"Uh yeah. I mean we don't do PDA, so it'll be okay." Ash answers as they both enter his room.
Misty nods. "Grab your stuff. All of it. We need to be quick." She picks up some things that she can see, though she knows Ash must've put some clothes in the drawers already. She'll let him handle those." Also, it's not Tracey or Daisy we should worry about." Misty knows she can easily trick her ditzy sisters. Plus, Tracey is too nice to pry or question others' intent.
Ash hadn't unpacked much this week due to it being busy. Thus, he is able to quickly grab all of his belongings. "Should we worry about their Pokemon?"
Leading him to the master bedroom, Misty shakes her head. "Pikachu is pretty convincing. He'll lie to their Pokemon for us." Once Misty sets everything down on her bed, she dusts off her hands to face Ash who sets his bag on the ground. "Tina."
"Their 6 year old daughter. She's young, but Mew, she's bright as ever. It's like all of the brain cells my sisters didn't get got passed onto her." Misty sighs. "She's smart. If we're not careful, she'll see right through us."
Ash blinks at Misty in confusion. "Tracey has a daughter?"
"I did mention that Tracey and Daisy are married with a kid. Do you listen?" Seeing Ash frown makes Misty change the topic. "Start unpacking. We need to make it look like you and I have been sleeping in the same room."
"Um. Do I have to sleep in the same bed with you?" Ash's cheeks heat up since he sees there is obviously only one bed in here.
Misty too blushes deeply. "Um. I can sleep on the ground, and then we hide the sleeping bag every morning."
"No. I'm intruding. I'll get the ground."
"You're the guest."
"But you're the gym leader. You're working harder than me." insists the man. "I'll get the ground."
Awkwardly looking between the bed and the ground, Misty tells him, "Tina is sneaky. We'll have to be really careful."
"Why does it seem like she's trying to expose us? Wouldn't she be happy that you're married?" Ash asks as Misty clears a few drawers for him.
"Because she tries to expose things she doesn't believe. She found out Tracey was Santa at 4 years old." Misty knowingly replies. "All the times she's visited, I've never mentioned dating anyone, especially you. She knows you as my old best friend who I don't talk to anymore." Tracey and Misty have had to share their traveling days with Tina before, which would involve talks about their other traveling friend.
"So you're saying she doesn't believe we're in a real marriage?" Ash starts putting his clothes in the drawer. He's glad he didn't pack many.
"Ash, everyone finds it hard to believe. Even I do." She then looks at the empty bag Ash now has. "Is there anything else?"
"Not that I know of." Ash then notices the master bathroom. "Do we have to use the same bathroom too?" His face heats up alongside hers.
Bathroom! Ash has been using the hallway bathroom. His toiletries are in there. "Get your towel and toothbrush and stuff from the hallway bathroom, Ash! Yes, we have to use the same bathroom while they're here."
After obediently following Misty's command, Ash watches her tidy up the room. "Hey, Misty?"
"Hm?" Misty's focus is on her messy desk. She's embarrassed that Ash saw the state of her room. Misty normally isn't a messy person. She's very organized, but with her being busy, she rarely has time to clean.
"Should we just tell them the truth? We told Brock." Ash feels slightly uncomfortable having to share a room and bathroom with Misty. If he's feeling this way, he can't imagine how she's feeling.
Misty, though, stops to look at him. "If we tell them, then we may as well tell the whole world." She knows her sisters can't keep a secret. Daisy would tell LIly and Violet, and then the world would know an hour after. Moreover, Misty will be subjected to more teasing from her sisters if they find out this is a fake marriage. It's just easier continuing the lie.
When there isn't a response, Misty curiously gazes at the shifty man looking at the ground. He seems very conflicted. Even though his head is down, she can tell his brows are furrowed. "Are you okay, Ash?" Still no response. Slightly worried, Misty walks over to him where she waves her hand in front of his face. "Ash." Once Misty raises her head to look at his face, she stops waving her hands. Those brown eyes of his hold so much pain. "Ash…"
"Sorry, Misty." he chokes out and shuts his eyes again. "This is all my fault."
"Yeah, it is."
Ash opens his eyes in surprise. Usually, people would try to console him and say nothing is his fault. However, Misty isn't like usual people. She's Misty. "Uh…"
The redhead rolls her eyes. "Yeah, Ash. This whole mess we're both in where we're lying to everyone all started because of you. So what are you gonna do about it? Are you gonna admit to everyone that we lied, or are you gonna help me keep this lie going? Both outcomes suck, but one of them is better than the other."
Blinking at Misty in confusion, Ash cocks his head to the side. He's getting lost in those blue pools of hers, so he quickly shakes his head. "Yeah. Let's just keep lying." As much as he hates to admit it, Misty is correct. They're in too deep to back out now. It'll be worse for them both if they admit to the lie now than if they pretend to be married and then get divorced later.
"Good. Now get ready to fake this marriage 24/7 for at least a week." Although annoyed by his reclusive nature, Misty is glad to see Ash putting an effort. He's her partner, which isn't too far from marriage. It's a platonic partnership.
When Misty turns to face her room again, Ash mutters, "Thanks."
"You can thank me after we get divorced." Divorced. She never thought she'd get divorced this soon in her life. Well, not so soon because they need to wait about a year before that happens.
About a half hour later, Misty walks out of the bathroom in a tshirt and shorts. Ash blushes despite the baggy clothing not showing much of her bodyshape. Her swimsuit, which he sees everyday shows much more. However, maybe it's the mysteriousness of what these baggy clothes are hiding that intrigues Ash about her pajamas?
"Are you gonna sleep in that?" Misty skeptically asks seeing Ash still in his day clothes.
"Uh. I was waiting to use the bathroom." He lies. Really, Ash has been trying to mentally prepare himself for even more socializing. It's already enough that he interacts with Misty constantly every day. Now, he'll have Tracey, Daisy, and their suspicious daughter. Ash isn't sure he can do that. When he reaches the bathroom door, he turns to face Misty again. "Um. Can you do all the talking?"
"They're not gonna believe we're married if I do." Misty notes. No way will she be left alone to fend for them, like back at Ash's mother's.
"I don't think I can do it." admits the man sadly, causing Misty to shoot him a sharp glare.
"You can do it. You've been doing it."
"Yeah, but that was only a few hours at most. This is days." Ash worriedly breathes out.
Misty sighs and walks over to place her hands on his shoulders. Gazing up into his nervous brown eyes, she reassures him, "Maybe you can't do it." Ash frowns. He half expected Misty to support him and motivate him rather than speak the obvious truth. Nevertheless, Misty has been truthful to him instead of telling him what he wants to hear. "But it's not just you, Ash. It's us. We can do it. We've made it this far."
Seeing that small smile on her lips relaxes Ash a bit. Could this be the reason he's finding himself changing every day? The reason he's not complaining as much and waking up early? Over a week ago, Ash rarely left his bed for longer than a few hours a day. This week, he's been in his bed for only a few hours a night. It's a very drastically different lifestyle than he's been living, and he's not hating it. Misty makes the days go by fast. Why is it that she can bring about this change in him, but his mother, Gary, and Pikachu couldn't?
Thus, Ash is lowering his head towards the woman who is inching her face closer. Misty's hands slide so that her arms are draping over Ash's shoulders. Ash slowly reaches his hands up to gently touch her waist as he tilts his head slightly. Both of their hearts are pounding, but they're too focused on each other to care.
That is until the slightly ajar bedroom door slams open. "Gotcha!"
The fake couple springs apart from one another with deep blushes on their faces. Again! Mew. Misty is mentally cursing herself for almost kissing Ash again. She needs to stop. He's a vulnerable man, and she's long since gotten over that silly childhood crush. Just because they're both a little lonely right now, that doesn't mean they should rely on one another like this. That is all wrong.
"Dang it." Pouts the voice that had burst into the room.
Ash is still too flustered to give the voice any attention. Misty, however, sighs. "Tina, what did I tell you about knocking?"
The girl at the door shrugs. "That it's respectful, but I was trying to catch you lying."
Misty inwardly groans. "How'd you even get in here?"
"We still have a key, little sis." comes a voice behind Tina. Soon, a blonde woman and a man with black hair arrive.
"Tina, you need to knock when you come into Aunt Misty's room." The man scolds his daughter. Even though Tina was trying to catch Ash and Misty lying, Tracey would rather his daughter not walk in on Ash and Misty not lying. The man knows various things occur in a bedroom. Things a child should not know about.
"I never did before." Tina pouts.
After massaging her temples, Misty pleads, "It's late. Can we all just go to sleep and talk about this tomorrow?"
"Who's your husband?" Tina ignores Misty's request.
With her blush darkening, Misty looks at Ash in the corner of her eye. He looks like he's trying to hide from the situation. "I'm pretty sure you all already know." Misty doesn't need to explain to Tina because she's pretty sure Daisy and Tracey already told Tina exactly who Ash is. Tracey and Misty have touched up on Ash in the past, though Tina never knew about Misty's deep relationship with him when they were younger.
"He's the guy you traveled with and had a huge crush on, right?" inquires the girl, causing Misty's face to turn a dark hot shade of red.
"Tina!" Tracey embarrassingly calls to his daughter, though he is enjoying seeing Ash and Misty's red faces. It reminds him of when he used to tease them as kids.
"Crush?" Ash whispers to himself. Misty had a crush on him?
"Good night! You all know where your rooms are!" Misty is glad she had changed out the sheets in the guest bedroom Ash had been sleeping in, else her family would be very suspicious.
"But I didn't say hi to Uncle Ash yet." Tina pouts.
"Yeah, Misty. Let your niece meet her uncle." Daisy teases. The blonde loves seeing Misty uncomfortable. It's what older sisters do.
Misty takes in a very deep breath. Even though she had mentally prepared herself for this interrogation, she still doesn't feel ready. Motioning over to the quiet man, Misty mutters, "This is my husband, Ash Ketchum. We used to travel together. Yes, he's the same Ash your dad and I have told you about, Tina."
Tina waltzes into the room, causing Tracey to give Misty an apologetic gaze. Tina gets a lot of her confidence from Daisy. Misty, though, is used to this, so the redhead watches Tina stand directly in front of Ash. Tina looks up into Ash's nervous brown orbs. The girl doesn't like how Ash has been avoiding eye contact and hasn't spoken this whole time. This is not the type of man she's ever seen with her strong kind Aunt Misty.
"I don't like you."
"Tina!" Misty snaps, and Tracey facepalms. "That is not nice!"
"He's rude. He hasn't said hi to us. Didn't he used to be your friend, daddy?" Tina glares at Ash who gulps.
"Things are complicated now, Tina. Adult stuff." Tracey really wants to apologize to Ash, but he'll do that when Tina isn't around. Tina is a little diva who will question Tracey for apologizing. Tracey would rather not have to deal with that after the long journey today.
Misty grabs her niece to face her back at the door. "Good night, Tina." Misty sternly says.
Frowning, Tina rejoins her parents. "Night, Aunt Misty." mutters the girl. "Night, Mr. Ash." Tina doesn't want Ash to be her uncle. He doesn't deserve Misty, and Tina doesn't like him. Thus, Tina will keep him at a distance.
"Good night, Misty. Good night, Ash." Daisy smiles sweetly and follows her daughter. Misty already knows she's going to be subjected to lots of teasing from Daisy tomorrow once Daisy rests up after the trip today.
Tracey awkwardly stands in the doorway. He makes eye contact with Misty. Shifting his gaze between Ash and her, Tracey mouths, "Is he okay?"
Misty gives him an unamused expression. The media has been televising Ash all week. Everyone knows of his failed life as a Pokemon Master, and he's a recluse now. There are lots of unpopular opinions about the couple, saying that Ash is with Misty for her status. Things of that sort, which Misty and Pikachu have been keeping Ash away from. He needs to stay away from the news, else it may trigger him back to his reclusiveness.
Sighing, Tracey finally musters up the courage to speak, "Sorry about Tina, Ash. She's very outspoken." Ash doesn't respond, making Tracey nervously bite his bottom lip.
The last time Tracey talked to Ash was about 8 years ago when they ran into each other at the Pallet Town lab. Ash happened to be visiting when Tracey was running an errand for Daisy, which Misty had given her. It got Tracey questioning what would've happened if Misty had ran the errand instead. She would've ran into Ash, or she would've ran the errand on time, which means she wouldn't have seen Ash.
Misty shoos Tracey with her hands, so the man reluctantly nods. "Night, Misty. Good night, Ash. It's nice seeing you again."
Once Tracey is gone, Misty hurries over to lock the door. She lets out a really long relieved breath. "It's gonna get worse." She tells the still silent man. "Get used to it, and start helping. I can't always protect you, Ash. It'll look suspicious." Misty then climbs under the covers where she sees Ash still hasn't moved. "Ash, get your shit together. The world is still moving. So should you."
"Tina's right, Misty." Ash defeatedly says, causing the woman to raise a curious eyebrow at him.
"Tina always thinks she's right. She's gonna be a detective someday, I swear."
"No." Ash shakes his head. "I don't belong with you. You need someone strong. Someone on your level. Not me. I'm holding you back." He thought he could fake this marriage with her, but constantly seeing the differences between their mentalities and professions reminds Ash of how a woman like Misty would never be with someone like him, under normal circumstances.
"You're not holding me back, dumbass." Misty narrows her eyes at him. "Don't give yourself so much credit." Misty lays down to shut her tired eyes. She's not in the mood for Ash's self pity. She never is. "Also, you told your mom you wanna be good enough to stand beside me. Live up to those words if you hate this feeling between us." Misty yawns. "And don't worry about Tina. She's just a kid."
"But she's smart."
"And she's 6." Mew, Misty just wants to get some sleep before tomorrow's busy day at the gym and catering to the Sketchits.
After a few minutes of what Misty assumes is Ash in the bathroom, she begins finally falling asleep. Although Misty wants to help Ash return to his once joyful ambitious self, she knows better than to intrude on someone's life. If he wants the help, he will reach out for it himself. She has been giving him little goals she'd like to see from him, though nothing involving her going out of her way for him.
"Did you really have a crush on me?"
Misty clenches her eyelids shut. Maybe if she doesn't respond, he'll think she's sleeping now? Her cheeks are heating up, so Misty is glad she had brought the covers up to shield most of her face. So far, Ash has been very reclusive and cautious. Why is he asking this question now? She never expected him to try and pry; nonetheless, he has questioned her about the Cape. Ash does seem curious about Misty's life, like she is curious about his. It has been over a decade since they last spoke or saw each other.
She hears a low chuckle. "I had one on you." There is some rustling, which Misty assumes is Ash grabbing clothes.
Soon, the shower water starts running, and Misty brings her hands up to her very hot face. Did she hear that correctly? Ash Ketchum had a crush on her? Was it the same time she had one on him? What if they both confessed? Would they have dated? Would they be married for real by now? Her heart is racing so much that Misty doubts she can fall asleep now. Thus, the woman closes her eyes to the thoughts of what ifs if she hadn't been too scared to admit her feelings for the dense boy she fell in love with.
Early the next morning, Misty's alarm wakes up both adults. Ash rubs his sore shoulder as Misty groggily gets out of bed. Misty usually wakes him up, so he's surprised to see her so sluggish. He expected her to always wake up with energy. Misty is so tired that she doesn't even notice Ash watching her. Deciding that she must be exhausted from the late night, Ash chooses to not make her life more difficult for her. Thus, he forces himself up to put the sleeping bag away.
Eventually, Misty exits the bathroom looking a lot more awake than when she went in. She heads for her closet to grab a change of clothes. "It's Sunday. I did say you can rest today."
"But the Sketchits…" Ash shyly replies.
"I can handle them if you wanna sleep in." shrugs the woman who walks back into the bathroom. "Sleep. You're making me feel guilty for overworking you now." She knows he must be exhausted from this week. All the commotion and moving around. Ash Ketchum barely left his bed the past few years. This week must be taking a toll on him.
Since Misty is changing in the bathroom, Ash figures he can quickly change in the room. It should take a while to put on a swimsuit, right? However, the moment he slips off his shirt, the door loudly opens. The reason it's so loud is because it's two doors. Ash glances between both girls and then awkwardly stands in the middle of the room.
Misty, who is in every day casual clothes rather than a swimsuit, because it's not a gym day, blushes from seeing the shirtless man. Despite not doing much these past three years, it seems like Ash's many years of traveling are still showing. He has pudgy muscles, but he still looks very attractive.
At the door stands a young girl suspiciously eying them. "Hmm… What are you doing?" Why is Misty near the bathroom with her pajamas in her hands? And Ash is in the middle of the room. Why are they both avoiding each other's eyes?
Coming to her senses first, Misty quickly rushes over to the door. "What have I told you about knocking, Tina?" scolds the embarrassed redhead.
"Why? I never do it." Tina reminds her.
"Because I'm married now!"
"You don't want me to see you kissing? But I see my parents kiss all the time." Tina pouts as Misty pushes her back out of the room.
Misty's face turns a darker shade of red. Tina is definitely not helping. "Go back to bed or meet me downstairs for breakfast." Before Misty shuts the door in the girl's face, Misty tells her, "Knock next time!"
After Misty locks the door, Ash quietly mutters, "We should keep it locked." He thought it was locked last night.
"Doesn't matter." Misty picks up her forgotten pajamas on the ground. "Tina can pick a lock. I told you. She can be a detective some day." Finishing with her clothes, Misty turns back to the room where Ash still hasn't moved, and he's still shirtless. "Put on a shirt already!"
"Oh." Ash snaps out of his daze while quickly reaching for his new shirt to slip on. "Sorry."
Sighing, Misty turns her back to him so that he can change his shorts. "We're gonna have to sleep in the same bed from now on." Mew. Her head feels like it's going to explode. Misty didn't want to say these words, but she managed to do it.
Ash's own face is a dark shade of red. "Uh. Why?"
"Just while Tina is here. She'll keep trying to break in to catch us." Misty knows Tina wasn't just checking to see if Misty was awake. Tina was definitely trying to catch Ash and Misty not behaving like a couple. When Tina has her suspicions, she investigates until she gets answers. There's no stopping the girl.
"How about we prop a chair against the door?" Ash would prefer not to sleep in the same bed as Misty.
"She's smart. She'll figure out a way to spy on us, so let's play it safe." C'mon, Ash! Even Misty doesn't want to do this, but they need to hold appearances. At least for this week. Then they can go back to sleeping in separate rooms again.
The man lets out a deep breath. "We stay on our sides." He'd suggest putting pillows between them, but Misty would shoot that idea down too. They need to look like a couple.
Misty nods. The two can't even look at each other right now due to their blushes. "I'm gonna get started on breakfast."
"I'll go feed the Pokemon." If Ash was tired before, he's not anymore. His blood is rushing through his body as his heart pounds like crazy.
While feeding the Pokemon, Ash had informed them of the Sketchits' arrival. He also told his Pokemon about Tina since it seems like Misty's Pokemon know all about the curious girl. Like Ash, Ash's Pokemon find his fear of this girl silly. How hard can it be to lie to a 6 year old girl?
"Why aren't you helping my aunt with breakfast?"
Ash and the Pokemon snap their attention to the little girl walking in to hug Gyarados. "Huh?"
After greeting the other gym Pokemon, Tina stops in front of Ash to narrow her eyes at him. Pikachu sheepishly lowers his ears from his perch on Ash's shoulder. "Shouldn't you be helping your wife with meals?" Tina sees Ash's empty fingers. "Where are your rings?" She's noticed that Misty doesn't have one either.
Ash is trying his best to register the girl's words and not mess up the lie. "In the shop. They're getting resized." He lies.
"Haven't you been married for years though?"
"We were keeping it a secret, so we didn't get rings until the secret came out." Wow. It does get easier to lie the more he does it. Ash isn't sure he likes that.
Tina suspiciously eyes Ash. "Who are your Pokemon?"
Glad that Tina has stopped questioning his fake relationship, Ash quickly answers her question. He motions around the room. "Totodile, Sceptile, Noibat." Ash then points to the mouse on his shoulder. "Pikachu."
"Pi pikachu!" Pikachu exclaims at the girl before hopping on her head, making her giggle.
Despite Tina's serious demeanor when curious, she is still a child at heart. Thus, she hugs Pikachu and snuggles his softness. "Hi, Pikachu! You're so cute!"
"Pi pika!" Pikachu nuzzles her cheek.
Tina isn't sure how this quiet boring man has such a lively Pokemon. However, she does recall her father's old traveling stories. Apparently, this Ash guy was once adventurous and fearless. "How come you're so boring now?" Ash blinks at her in surprise as Pikachu warily watches him. "My daddy says you used to be really strong and brave. You look boring and weak now."
Ash's gaze lowers to the ground in disappointment. It's a question he asks himself too. He's been avoiding the real answer because it'll hurt him too much. He's scared it'll break him for good if he actually faces himself and answers that question. Thus, Ash shuts his eyes, which the little girl notices. Hoping to escape from this uncomfortable situation, Ash tries to zone out everything. He really misses his safe old life of being a total recluse.
"Pikapi…" Pikachu hops on the ground to tap Ash's leg.
Tina, though, is very confused about Ash's reaction to the question. She's done her research, especially with the media's recent posts about Ash. Therefore, Tina knows a bit about his old life and his current life in hiding. "I know you were engaged before." Ash flinches. "If you break my aunt's heart, I'll have Gyarados eat you."
Annoyed with the one sided conversation, Tina decides breakfast should be ready by now. Usually when she visits, she'll spend lots of time with the Pokemon, which involves feeding them too. Ash beat her to it, though that finally gave her her alone time with him. She still doesn't understand why her aunt married someone like him. Ash is nothing like how Tina has heard about him. Tina could at least see her aunt with the Ash from those stories.
The girl stops in her tracks to curiously return her attention to him. It's there that she finally sees his somewhat determined brown eyes. "What?"
"I won't hurt her. Misty doesn't deserve that." Again. He's hurt her enough with all of his abandonment in the past. It took him until he was abandoned to realize how much he must've hurt her. The fact that she's taking him back into her life shows how caring she is.
Satisfied with the response, Tina nods. "Breakfast should be ready." She then heads off, leaving Ash with the Pokemon.
"Pi…" Pikachu now understands why Ash was scared of a little girl. It's difficult to tell what Tina already knows.
Sighing, Ash lets out a very long breath he didn't know he was holding. This is only day one of however long the Sketchits are going to be here. "You wouldn't happen to wanna be married to Misty for me, would you?" Ash asks the mouse who shakes his head. "Figured. Wish me luck."
"Pika pikachupi pi pikapi pichu."
"Thanks." Ash pats Pikachu's head and goes back to the living quarters of the gym.
When he arrives, Tina loudly announces, "And there's my uncle!"
"Tina!" Tracey sweatdrops, though Daisy just smirks as Ash sits down at the only open seat, which is beside Misty.
"Hey, Ash. Haven't seen you in a while." Daisy speaks.
Ash gives her a small nod. "Hey, Daisy."
"So I need details." Daisy gushes. "How did you two reconnect? How'd you know you like each other? The proposal? I want everything!" The tabloids don't know the story yet because Misty and Ash haven't come out to speak about it.
Misty watches Ash stiffen up. Deciding that Ash isn't going to be much help again, Misty tells Daisy their story they had told Delia. "And that's about it."
"Why were you keeping it a secret?" Daisy understands Misty wanting to keep her private life from the media, but this is her family too, even if the Sensational Sisters do tend to let things slip to the media.
Giving Daisy an unamused look, Misty answers, "Because you, Lily, and Violet would tell everyone."
"No, we wouldn't!"
Misty rolls her eyes. To everyone's surprise, the quiet man adds, "I didn't want her to tell anyone. I wasn't ready."
Tina looks at Ash's slumped shoulders and low hanging head. "How long were you gonna wait?" Tracey gives Ash and Misty an apologetic gaze.
Adding to Tina's surprise, Ash meets her eyes again. "I don't know. Until I felt ready to stand beside her." It's not a lie. It wasn't when he told his mom, and while he's been saying it a lot lately, it's the one thing that doesn't feel like a lie.
After a few seconds of silence, Misty awkwardly clears her throat. "Well, we have chores to do today, so you three can go enjoy yourselves." Daisy and Tracey know that the first month of the tournament season is the busiest.
"We were planning on seeing the Cape." Tracey tells them.
Daisy winks. "You know. To see where you two would secretly meet."
Ignoring the suggestiveness from Daisy, Misty says, "We'll be busy all day. See you for dinner."
"I'll help." Tina pipes up, causing Misty to mentally curse the situation.
Nevertheless, every time the Sketchits visit, Tina always hangs back at the gym with Misty. Tina will make a great detective or gym leader some day. She's Misty's biggest help, which is why Misty usually looks forward to Tina's visits. "Are you sure you don't wanna sitesee with your parents, Tina?"
The girl shakes her head. "No. I'd rather get to know my Uncle Ash more." She's going to get the truth. There's no way Ash is with her aunt for pure intentions. Someone like him would never mix with her aunt. At least not in his current state.
Ash gulps, and Misty notices. "Why don't you help me out instead?"
"No. You just do papers. I'll help Uncle Ash with the cleaning and the Pokemon." It's what Tina usually does when she visits.
"Okay." Misty snaps her gaze to the man beside her. "It'll be nice to hang out with my niece."
Grinning victoriously, Tina tells him, "I'll be hanging out with you all week, Uncle Ash." She also usually helps with being the gym receptionist.
Misty looks at her food where she winces. Can Ash really lie to Tina? Will Tina believe him? Mew. They are in way too deep to screw this up now. However, she feels a slight poke on her thigh, causing her to glance in that direction. There, she sees Ash's pinky lightly tapping her, like a reassuring tap. This makes Misty raise her head to see Ash is still listening to Tina tell him how she runs the gym. With a small smile on her lips, Misty returns a few pokes of her own to the man. Maybe they'll be okay?
After enduring a very long day with the Sketchits, Ash and Misty collapse on their bed. "How was Tina?"
"She was distracted by my Pokemon." Ash knows his Pokemon enjoyed playing with someone again, especially Pikachu. Fortunately, that means that he wasn't interrogated by Tina as much as he thought he'd be. So far, Ash believes their lie is still okay. Tracey and Daisy were out most of the day.
"That's good." Since tomorrow is week 2 of the tournament season, Misty knows everyone, including Tina, will be too busy to talk about the marriage. There will still be a line of challengers, though not as bad as last week.
Mustering up some energy, Ash decides to shower first. By the time he and Misty are ready for bed, both adults shyly stand in front of the bed they had shared an hour prior, though they hadn't realized it then. They were too tired. "Uh…" Ash blushes.
With her own pink face, Misty moves under the covers first. "It's a pretty big bed. We'll just stay on our sides."
Ash shyly rubs the back of his head. "I don't know. It just doesn't feel right." The last woman he shared a bed with was a woman he loved. Yeah, he used to camp out right next to Misty, but they're not kids anymore.
"I'm telling you, Ash. Tina will catch us if we don't sleep in the same bed." They've made it this far. Every time they reach an obstacle, Misty is always willing to make it work, but Ash isn't. This was all his idea to begin with. Misty would appreciate some cooperation on his end sometimes.
Sighing reluctantly, Ash gets into the bed, though he is very close to the edge. He already knows he won't be getting much sleep tonight either. Having to be self conscious and stay as far away from Misty as possible is going to keep him up. "I'll push you if you touch me."
Misty rolls her eyes as her back is to him. "If you touch me, I'll kick you." Fortunately, the covers are large enough where there shouldn't be too much fighting.
The two lay in awkward silence with neither one being able to fall asleep over the pounding of their hearts. Eventually, Ash breaks the tenseness. "Can I ask my question?" They've been busy with Tina to be alone for their daily questions.
Due to being exhausted, Misty had forgotten about the questions. She'll let Ash ask his first so that she can think of one. "Sure." It's not like they're going to be sleeping any time soon.
"Why are you helping me?"
"I'm helping us." Misty is pretty sure she's made that clear from the start. If their lie ever comes out, they'll be in so much trouble.
"Even before the marriage thing. You helped me at the League." Ash sighs. "I left you again, but you always let me back in. Why?"
The woman frowns because she questions that herself. When she was a teenager, she would cry over Ash sometimes, especially during the time he traveled around Kalos with his childhood friend who later became his ex-fiance. Back then, Misty used to tell herself that she'd never let Ash Ketchum into her life again, yet she always did.
Chuckling to herself, she replies, "Remember when you said our meeting couldn't be a coincidence?"
"Yeah." He recalls their last few moments traveling together. That day still hurts him, even if Brock came back for a few more adventures. The fact that Ash lost his original traveling group, his original friends… That still hurts him today. All three of them will never travel like that again. It was short lived, and he wishes he cherished those times more back then.
"That's why. Our meeting wasn't a coincidence. Who else fishes a boy out of water on the first day of his journey?" Misty finds herself subconsciously turning to face his back. "Every time I've seen you since we stopped traveling together was by chance. Mirage Kingdom in Hoenn. Who would've known we'd be in the same area in Hoenn at the same time? And then when you came to challenge the Kanto Battle Frontier while I was stopping by the lab." Misty smiles slightly at all the chance encounters she's had with Ash. "When I greeted you at the airport, that all happened because I somehow was late to dropping something off at the lab. If I had come on time, it would've been before Professor Oak found out about your field trip."
"What about when you visited me in Alola?" That was planned and definitely not a coincidence.
Misty's smile grows. "Okay. That was planned, but I didn't expect Brock and your classmates to leave us alone most of the time."
"Same." Ash chuckles lightly thinking back to some of his happier times. It used to pain him to reminisce, but it's not too bad right now. It's kind of fun.
"And then at the League dinner. How was Gary to know we'd actually run into each other and interact?" Giggling at all the seemingly coincidental interactions she's had with the man next to her, Misty adds, "How can I cut you out of my life when the world keeps throwing us back together?"
When there's no response from the thinking man, Misty begins to turn her body back to face the wall. This little pure conversation has caused her heart to stop beating fast, and she's starting to get a bit groggy. However, Ash's movement makes her curiously watch him turn himself to see her. With the dim moonlight seeping through the window, Misty meets his warm chocolate brown eyes.
"I don't wanna make any more false promises to you, Misty." Ash apologetically tells her. "So I won't."
Although confused, Misty just nods. "Okay, Ash. Good-"
"Aren't you gonna ask your question?"
She blinks at him in surprise. Wouldn't he normally be glad that he didn't have to dig into his emotions? Whatever. Misty will ask a question. She only gets one a day. "When did you have a crush on me?" She's been wondering that since she heard his confession last night.
Ash's face heats up. "You heard that?" He partly expected her to be asleep because she didn't say anything.
Misty nods. "Tina already outed me. It's only fair I know about you."
"Well, I don't know when you had a crush on me, so that's not too fair." Seeing Misty's unamused glare makes Ash quickly stammer, "It was when we traveled together! I mean. We were prepubescent and you're the only girl I've ever spent a long amount of time with, and we cared about each other and stuff. We were close. Closer than me and Brock. I don't know?"
"When did it stop?" Because Ash has been speaking in the past tense, Misty knows this crush is long gone. He was engaged to someone before.
"I don't know. Probably when I started traveling around Unova. I thought about you a lot in Hoenn, and I used your lure a few times in Sinnoh. Every year, I thought less about you. I also didn't see you after Hoenn. By the time I finished Unova, I don't think I ever thought about you." Ash takes in a sharp painful breath. "And then I went to Kalos…"
Frowning, Misty turns her back to Ash. They both know what Kalos meant. "I stopped around then too."
Ash softly gazes at her small back. "Just because I didn't have a crush on you, it doesn't mean that I didn't care about you. The crush became a friendly feeling." Moreover, by the time he started traveling with Serena, Ash figured he was only crushing on Misty due to her being his first female companion.
"Now do you get why I let you back into my life?"
He blinks in confusion. "Huh?"
Sighing, Misty shuts her eyes as her heart aches a little too painfully. "Good night, Ash." He's too dense to understand her words, and it'll be too painful for her to explain herself.
Ash turns back around too, though a small smile does grace his lips. "I still care about you too, Misty. Good night." Why else would he be fighting with his inner turmoil every moment of the day? Ash constantly wants to hide in a bedroom, but he won't give in to that desire. He's on a team with Misty, so he needs to help her. He is the reason they're in this mess. Every day he's with Misty, it gets easier to fight his old habits.
The next morning, Misty's alarm once again wakes them up. Even more exhausted than the previous day, Misty drags herself out of bed. Ash too sits up to rub his tired eyes. "How'd you sleep?" Misty asks.
"Same." Both were too conscious of the other, so they couldn't sleep. Neither one wanted to have a chance of touching the other.
After getting ready, Misty heads downstairs first to start on breakfast. Ash eventually makes his way out of the room, but when he walks past one of the spare bedrooms, a girl jumps out to the hallway. "Hey, Uncle Ash."
Ash nervously smiles at her. He's somewhat grateful for his fatigue making him less anxious. "Hey, Tina."
Tina walks beside Ash as they go downstairs. Tracey and Daisy are still sleeping because Daisy doesn't like waking up early. She uses Tracey as a pillow; thus, Tracey remains in bed until she's up. With Tina being older, Tina usually gets her own room when visiting Misty. That way, Tina can actually wake to help Misty.
"Why do you like my Aunt Misty?" Ash's face heats up from the question. By the time they reach the kitchen, he still hasn't answered the girl, so Tina once again asks, "Why do you like her?"
"Like who?" Misty curiously glances at the new arrivals. Seeing Ash's pink face makes Misty feel bad for not telling him that Tina always helps out at the gym. Misty usually loves having Tina visit because Tina is the only real help Misty ever gets.
Tina sits down at the table while Ash awkwardly stands by Misty. "Why do you two like each other?" Tina's parents have explained to her what it means to like someone romantically. They also told Tina what they like about each other. Tina just wants to know about this new couple. Unlike her other two aunts who bring men around often, Tina knows her Aunt Misty wouldn't be with someone unless she genuinely likes them.
Misty's breath gets caught in her throat as she now understands why Ash was blushing. "Uh…" The woman fights the urge to look at Ash who too is avoiding his gaze.
This just makes Tina more suspicious of them. "Why aren't you answering?"
Sighing in defeat, Misty shuts her eyes to block out the scene. "He's kind and selfless." Wow. That was the lamest reason ever, Misty. However, she hopes this will work on a smart 6 year old. Ash isn't sure if Misty means those words. He is kind, but he doubts he's selfless. He's trying to be selfless.
"What about you, Uncle Ash?" Tina had asked Ash first and has yet to hear from him. This makes the girl trust Ash less.
"She's kind and selfless." Ash cops out, but it's true. Misty is kind and selfless.
Tina narrows her eyes suspiciously at the pair. "You're being weird."
This statement rings alarms in Misty's head, causing Misty to quickly add, "Ash makes an effort, Tina. For me and for everything I value." The woman glances over at Ash who is still looking away. "Like with you and your parents, Tina. Ash doesn't normally interact with people or leave his room, but he's been trying to spend time with you and your parents because you're important to me." Misty's gaze softens when Ash meets her eyes with surprise. "Because I'm important to him."
Both blushing adults are lost in each other's eyes from across the kitchen counter. Misty isn't sure where these words came from. She was trying to come up with a believable lie, but now she hopes these words are true. Although she doubts this is why Ash is spending time with the Sketchits, Tina must believe it. Nevertheless, the way Ash is looking at Misty makes Misty reconsider if she just spoke the truth.
"How come you always talk for him?" Tina has noticed this the past few days. If she's not alone with Ash, then Misty always speaks.
Placing the eggs on the plates, Misty places breakfast on the table. She then grabs her plate and sits down where she motions for Ash to join them. "Eat, Tina."
Pouting as she eats her eggs, Tina mutters, "Not fair." Once Ash sits, Tina studies him, causing Ash to nervously shift. "I'm gonna spend all day with Uncle Ash." Misty will be battling all day, which only leaves Ash free. Plus, Tina's parents usually go out, so Misty would be left to watch Tina, though Tina has been pretty independent since she was young.
"Please don't torture him." Misty begs. She knows there is no stopping Tina when she sets her mind to something. Tina will be stuck with Ash, and with all the challenges this week, Misty won't be able to rescue him. Maybe Tina will be distracted by Ash's Pokemon again?
Tina innocently smiles at her slow eating uncle. "Never, Auntie Misty."
After the opening onslaught of trainers being registered, Ash and Tina finally have a break until another challenger arrives to register for the queue. Thus, with Misty busy battling, Tina knows this is her chance to question Ash. There are a few challengers in the lobby awaiting their turn, but none are too close to Ash and Tina. Pikachu is hanging out with Ash and Tina mainly because Misty asked Pikachu to help Ash lie to Tina. Misty isn't so sure Ash can be convincing. Maybe Pikachu can do some distracting? The mouse is currently cuddled up in Tina's arms.
"Auntie Misty is my favorite."
Ash knew Tina was going to question him again, so he's prepared for this conversation. Turning in his chair to face her, Ash says, "That's nice."
"But I don't like you still." Tina repeats her words from when she first met Ash. "She shouldn't be with someone boring like you." The girl still can't understand what her aunt sees in Ash. This guy is no one who should be married to a strong highly esteemed gym leader.
Pikachu worriedly watches his trainer. To Pikachu's surprise, Ash doesn't seem too upset by Tina's words. Instead, Ash gives her a small smile. "I know."
"Then why'd you marry her?"
"Why do people get married?" inquires the man.
Tina shrugs. "I don't know. My parents say people should marry for love. Do you love Aunt Misty?"
Ash's face heats up, but he fights the urge to look away from Tina. "We're married. I think that answers it."
"I still don't get why she married you." Tina disappointedly mutters.
Sheepishly chuckling, Ash nods. "Same. She's too nice to me." It's funny because people used to think Misty was too harsh on Ash. Back when they traveled together, and Misty would show her tough love on him.
Tina lifts up Pikachu to see him at eye level. The cute little mouse curiously cocks his head to the side, though he is grateful that Tina's attention is on him now. "Are you his starter?"
"Pi." Pikachu nods.
"So you must be strong, right?" According to everyone, Ash was once a very strong notable trainer. He always went everywhere with Pikachu, so that means Pikachu must be powerful, despite his small size.
"Pika." Pikachu sheepishly smiles. He's a humble mouse who hasn't battled in years. Well, besides that one time last week where Misty easily beat him.
The girl now turns her attention back to Ash who is registering a new challenger. "Is Aunt Misty important to you?"
Ash nods. "Yes." This is definitely not a lie. Misty has reminded him of how important her friendship is to him. Just being around her makes him feel re-energized.
"You know I'm very important to her, right?"
"Yes." Ash hands the challenger back his pokedex.
"So does that make me important to you?" Tina finally asks. Misty did say something along the lines of this at breakfast, but Tina wants to see if those words are actually truthful.
Despite pondering the question a bit, Ash nods. "Yeah."
Tina leaps out of her seat, causing Pikachu to jump to the ground in surprise. "Okay. Then can I make one wish?"
The man is skeptical of what Tina could request. Maybe he could lie his way around it? "What is it?"
She sticks out her pinky finger at him. "Uh uh. Promise me that you'll give me one wish."
Behind Tina, Ash sees Pikachu furiously nodding. Pikachu and Misty have been keeping this lie alive so far, so Ash may as well trust them. The man connects his pinky with Tina. "Okay."
Grinning mischievously, Tina points a finger at Ash's face. "Then I challenge you to a Pokemon battle! If you win, I'll stop complaining about you. But if I win, you need to leave my aunt." No matter how many ways Tina thinks about it, Ash isn't right for her aunt.
Ash furrows his brows at her. What Pokemon could a 6 year old have? Also, no one should decide relationships for others. He sweatdrops because he was the one who decided this relationship between him and Misty. Well, Ash is getting what he deserves...again… "Do you have Pokemon?"
"I'll use Aunt Misty's Pokemon." Tina easily forms relationships with Pokemon. The gym pokemon have seen her grow up from a newborn. They all love her and will always help her.
Pikachu sighs. They just had a battle against Misty's Pokemon last week where they were easily beaten. Ash hasn't done any training since then. Thus, the outcome will be the same, and this time, Ash will have to leave Misty. Misty has caused the most improvement in Ash. Pikachu would hate to see them separated.
"It's a long week. The gym Pokemon should rest." Ash is now grateful for the long gym hours.
The girl won't take no for an answer. "Fridays aren't too busy. We can battle before I leave." The Sketchits will leave back to Johto on Saturday. When Ash opens his mouth to object, Tina says, "You promised, Uncle Ash."
Nodding in defeat, Ash mumbles, "Okay." He'll tell Misty to have her Pokemon go easy on him. Getting divorced now because of a bet with a child will reflect really poorly on Ash and Misty. The media may even find out that all of this was a lie to begin with. To avoid any more speculations, Ash and Misty need to make this work for the year.
That night, after another long day at the gym and dealing with the Sketchits, the fake couple are getting ready for bed. Although Misty rarely gets enough sleep, she would still get some. With Ash in the same room as her, she's gotten basically none. The woman is exhausted. She's not sure she can make it until her family leaves this weekend. Moreover, on top of all the teasing, it's not helping her.
"Misty?" Ash asks as Misty tosses her dirty clothes in the hamper.
"You know how I have to battle Tina on Friday?" At dinner, it's all the girl would talk about. She can't wait to beat Ash. However, she didn't bring up the bet because even she knows it'll make everyone she loves disappointed in her.
"Uh huh." Misty was surprised hearing Ash had agreed to battle someone. She practically had to force him to last week. However, Misty should know that Tina is good at being convincing.
"We sort of made a bet…"
Misty groans. "What did you do?" Any bet with Tina can't be good.
Sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck, Ash replies, "I can't tell you, but I need to win. Can you tell your Pokemon to let me win?"
"Why can't you tell me?" pries the now somewhat alert woman.
"I promised her." Ash lies. He doesn't want to get Tina in trouble, and he knows telling Misty the bet will get the girl in a lot of trouble.
Sighing in defeat, Misty knows it must mean a lot to Ash to promise someone something. The way he is right now, it seems like he doesn't make many promises. "Well, you're out of luck. Be prepared to lose the bet."
"I can't lose it." Ash exclaims, causing Misty to curiously raise an eyebrow at his outburst.
"Um. Even if I tell my Pokemon to go easy on you, they won't. They love Tina too much, so they want to succeed for her." Moreover, it doesn't sit right for Misty to make her Pokemon diminish their power. She's already having them lie for her, and she knows how much that hurts them having to lie to Tina. Whatever bet Ash made with Tina, Misty hopes it won't be too bad when Ash loses.
Sighing, Ash leans back in the desk chair. This is it. He's going to lose. Like he's going to get utterly destroyed in front of everyone again, and then he'll have to abandon this fake marriage. He'll have to abandon Misty again. He'll have to abandon someone counting on him. Ash shuts his eyes painfully as he feels his heart beating slightly quicker. Taking a few deep breaths to try and calm down his anxiety, Ash tries to focus on today rather than the past.
When he feels a warm small hand rubbing his back, he gazes up to see Misty's worried blue orbs. "Ash?"
Regardless of the fatigue on her, Ash thinks she looks like an angel. She's always saving him. Always coming around when he needs someone. And Misty never imposes herself. Just by being herself, she makes him feel better. Ash's gaze softens when he sees those concerned blue eyes of hers, which in turn makes Misty stop rubbing his back.
The two are just staring at each other until there's a knock on the door before it swings open. This makes Misty jump away from Ash. "I knocked." Comes the familiar voice.
Frustrated, Misty glares at her niece. "Tina."
"Yeah?" The girl innocently smiles.
As much as Misty wants to know the details of this bet, Ash did tell her he promised Tina he wouldn't say anything. If Misty brings it up now, Tina will know Ash told Misty there's a bet, even if Misty doesn't know what the bet entails. "You need to wait for permission before coming in."
"Why?" She's never had to wait before.
Blushing slightly, Misty will tell Tracey to explain the importance of knocking on a married couple's door. "Nevermind. What are you doing here?" It's past Tina's bedtime.
Shrugging, the girl sits on the bed to curiously look at Ash's flushed face. "Mom and dad are watching a boring movie downstairs. I wanna hear about Uncle Ash's journeys. You said he traveled a lot more after you left, right?"
Misty sees Ash stiffen up from the question. "It's late, Tina. Maybe he can tell you all about his journeys tomorrow?" The woman also just wants to sleep. While Daisy and Tracey are here on vacation, and to spy on Ash and Misty, Misty still has work.
Pouting, Tina walks over to Misty to hug her tightly. "Okay. Night, Auntie Misty."
The sincere gesture brings a smile to Misty's lips as she envelopes Tina in a very tight hug. "Good night, baby."
"I'm not a baby anymore."
Misty kisses Tina's forehead. "You're the baby until someone has a baby." With Tina being the only member of the next generation of Waterflowers, Tina gets heavily spoiled by her aunts.
"Fine." Grumbles the girl who heads for the door. "Good night, Uncle Ash."
"Good night, Tina." Ash lowly replies.
When the door shuts, Misty quickly locks it. "She's still 6 under all her suspicious questions." Ash nods and starts for the bathroom to get ready for bed. "Also…" He stops, though his back is still facing her. "If you wanna beat Tina, you have a few days to train. If I were you, I'd use Pikachu and Sceptile's type advantages. It's your best bet."
The man leans against the doorframe and groans, making Misty surprised again. He's been showing a lot more emotions lately, though these are usually annoying emotions. Deciding that he has nothing to say, Ash enters the bathroom to lock the door. In the shower, he's thinking about Misty's very real words.
With the short amount of time he has, his best option is to train Sceptile and Pikachu. They are some of his strongest Pokemon too. However, this will be a 3 on 3 battle, so he needs another Pokemon. Would he have time to train 3 Pokemon? The old him would, but this new him hasn't trained in years. He's out of shape too.
Ash lets out a very painful breath. One member of his team is his second strongest Pokemon after Pikachu, and Ash still knows how to reach this Pokemon. This Pokemon has been training relentlessly, despite Ash's lack of communication to train him himself. Although Ash will have the type advantage with Pikachu and Sceptile, this last Pokemon will be at a severe disadvantage. That's never stopped the old Ash before. Will it be enough to defeat Misty's very powerful Pokemon?
Mew. Why is Ash doing this to himself? Can he really not fare without Misty? If she was around, would she have come up with a way for Ash to avoid this bet? Well, Tina never would've made this bet around Misty to begin with. No. Ash can't be blaming Misty for not being around. She has her own responsibilities that he imposed on. Everything he's going through is because of him. He wasn't a convincing enough husband. He fell for Tina's trap leading to the bet. Ash needs to stop feeling like a victim and take his life into his control.
Taking in a deep breath, Ash stands tall in the shower in determination. He's going to show to Tina and himself that he belongs next to Misty. Misty and the Pokemon have pulled more than their weight in maintaining this fake relationship. They can't always come to Ash's rescue. That's okay because Ash is ready to overcome this one problem by himself.