Disclaimer: Pokémon and all characters mentioned in the story belong to God. I just own their expensive products.
A rather old fic ('03) written when much was very much unknown about the Hoenn region in general, and when facts of Misty's departure were still shrouded and grossly misinforming (the infamous hat scene that never happened, for instance; it totally skewed my writing and that made me mad). Anyway.
This is Neglectshipping (and not Ash/Cassidy). Still the only 'fic solely dedicated to the couple (that I know of; please prove me wrong), it really does need a bigger fanbase. =P
To Define Fate's Neglected Victims
Ripples in the water barely reached the walls, returning weak echos of aquatic choirs. But the ripples were few and disappearing subtly, becoming more silent within moments.
The walls caught breathing instead. They weren't rebounded, merely listened to. A muffled exhale, a hesitant inhale, hardly a movement in the stirrings of the water. She lay still, motionless. Pale skin illuminated by the overhead lights, red across her body and filling the pool with its bleak contract to the surrounding blue. So quiet--
The door opened.
Tranquility lost. Echos upon echos of sound bounced like pong balls against the open-wide cage, awaking the body none from death.
"What?!" She sat up, disturbing the water and all its peace. Misty glared at the intruder and the junior trainer flinched.
"You have a challenger."
Challenge. She'd challenge Fate, challenge her responsibility, challenge the authority who thought taking her away from her friends was a good idea. She'd challenge it all. And win. "Send them in."
The younger nodded and ran back through the door, down to whoever thought they were ready enough to face the might of Cerulean's Leader, while Misty climbed out of the pool and grabbed her towel from the bench. Soft cotton. Gentle. Like Brock's medical touch to pokémon. Like Ash's heart. Like Pikachu's coat.
She sighed harshly and dried herself off as best as possible before wrapping a yellow robe around her lithe frame. The door opened again just as she finished tying off the belt and began reaching for the official PokéLeague hat Ash left her.
"Misty, this is Brendan Birch."
Weak introductions, weak trainers, she didn't want to turn around and face this 'Brendan'. Just another wanna-be master who won't cut it down the road. But once the hat was on her head, she did face him -- turned around, with a hard expression in her eyes. But it melted. Melted, washed away, gasped in silence, died...at the sight of the boy.
Tall. Maybe a few inches taller than herself; it was hard to judge from the distance. Nervous. Just a little; he was scrutinizing the pool and his surroundings with an experienced eye. Well-clad. The style he wore wasn't native to either Kanto, Johto, or even the Orange Archipelago (which left Quana, Hoenn, Orre, and Perot); red-and-black marked shirt, black and yellow pants, and a black headband with two surrounded semi-circles on the upper half.
But the shocker was the white hair being held back by the headband. Snow white, it reminded her of the elderly people they had met along the journey.
Maybe it was a trick of light.
A few seconds lapsed, nothing much to raise doubt or suspicion over. Misty tucked her pokémon into a pocket and approached the trainer and his escort-- scratch that, the junior trainer just took her leave through the door they came through.
"Brendan, is it?"
"Yes ma'am, that's me." He beamed; the smile was genuine and based upon pure emotions, like guilt for starters. "If I caught you at a bad time, I can always come back some other day."
"No, it's alright," she replied, smiling as well; it never reached her eyes. "It's nothing I can't do after this is settled." She held her hand out. "I'm Misty, Leader of the Cerulean Gym. Our specialty is water, if you didn't notice."
Brendan nodded as he took the offered hand into his, shaking both firmly. "I did, actually. You all have a fascinating array of pokémon and I can't /wait/ to see yours."
Too enthusiastic. I wonder why? Her smile twisted into a smirk as she motioned for him to take his place at one end of the pool, and she copied the command. "You may regret those words," said Misty, pulling out one of the pokéballs in her possession. "But I want to ask you something?"
From across the water, the red-head just barely made out his flinch. "Yeah?"
"Just where exactly do you come from? And it's summer for crying out loud, so why are you in those hulking clothes instead of something lighter?"
Brendan sighed, utterly relieved, and grinned. "Can I tell you later? I'm a little anxious right now."
She shrugged. Win or lose, she'd get it out of him soon. "Sure." But then her expression changed from light to dark, as the stadium lights were brightened; again, Brendan flinched and shielded his eyes. "All fighting is to be done on either the platforms or the water. You may use up to six pokémon. The winner is declared when one person's pokémon have all fainted. Do you understand the rules?"
"Yes." All traces of humor were also gone as Brendan tightly gripped his own monster ball. "I understand."
"Then go! Starmie!"
The bird that appeared on the opposite platform sent Misty into a recoil. It was obvious she'd never seen this type of pokémon. But it was also obvious to by the light in Brendan's eyes that the same went for him and Starmie. He was at his pokédex in a flash, registering this new addition to his database. "This is so totally cool!"
Misty wished she also had a pokédex, if only to find out what that avian was. It was small, with a split-tail and a crest that flowed backwards. But how dangerous could it be? It was hardly the size of a Pidgeotto. Yet both Swellow and Starmie were sizing each other up.
Brendan put his 'dex away, a dopey smile slapped back on his face. "Sorry. I get excited. Can we continue?"
"We should, in fact. Starmie, Rapid Spin!"
The Swellow turned out to be fast. Really fast. Misty subconsciously noted it would be Falkner of Johto's type of pokémon.
In no time, her beloved Starmie was defeated, its center jewel flashing surrender. Misty frowned and recalled it into its shelter, whispering a few words of hard earned praise, only to pull out another pokéball. "Don't think you're going to be so lucky through the rest of the match. I choose you, Qua-- Oh, no!"
From the red light that landed on the platform came not her pokémon of choice, but the last face she ever wanted to see at the moment. "Psy...duck?"
"Psyduck!" She flailed, very upset. "How many times do I have to tell you?! Four years and you /still/ can't seem to get it!"
The duck creature merely tipped its head to the side with a puzzled inquiry and Misty wanted to weep; Brendan was chuckling, amused. His Swellow was also laughing. "I can always come back--"
"No!" Fire raged in her water-hued eyes and Misty gave her commands. "If you want to do anything right, Psyduck, you'll do it right now! Confusion!"
"'Duck!" With all the brainpower it was able to acquire, Psyduck sent out a wave of psychic energy of emmence proportions!... And all it did was make Swellow a little dizzy.
"Swellow, Quick Attack!"
Again, the Swellow claimed victory as its multiple barage of speedy hits knocked Psyduck into the water, where it flailed and began to drown. A sweatdrop appeared on Misty's head; she was being humiliated. That's the last time I keep him in my company, she thought as she recalled the duck pokémon with much remorse for her dignity. The bird isn't big, so maybe something to intimidate it will work. "Lapras, go!"
Brendan again pulled out his pokédex right as the majestic blue monster flung its head back in a long, wailing cry. And it was big. Not to mention the sudden discovery of its dual-type made a sweatdrop run down the side of Brendan's temple. "Swellow! Quick Attack, and keep moving!"
"Lapras, use Sing!"
The graceful, shelled leviathan was faster than Swellow -- Brendan cringed as the Lapras' haunting song of woeful tragedies hit hard the swallow pokémon and sent it falling towards the water like a plummeting stone. Brendan quickly recalled it before it hit the water. Ice and water type. She could've knocked it out with an ice attack, but she only put it to sleep. Heh. My luck. "I think I'll send out you," he said, down to the next ball in his hand. "Go, Gardevoir!"
Again, Misty found herself surprised. What appeared from the encasing light was a pokémon that rivaled the beauty of even Goldeen. Veils that acted as robes veered off like waves in a pond, as tall as any human, and the epitome of grace and delicacy. And she has no clue to what it did. "Uhh.."
Oh. Misty steeled her resolve, determined not to let the embrace pokémon get the best of her and her team. "Lapras, dive below the water and use Ice Beam!"
A flurry of paranormal energies parted the water in Lapras' direction, just as the giant sunk into the pool. It missed its target by millimeters and crashed into the opposite wall... Misty found time to twitch her eye in irritation, while Brendan looked ridiculously apologetic.
But both trainers' stew about the wall were forced back as Lapras' head rose from the water behind the Gardevoir, frozen mist pouring from its gaping maw.
"Gardevoir! Light Screen and Calm Mind!"
But it was too late. Lapras' high level of expertise pushed extra power into its attack, breaking through the newly erected shield and to the currectly defenseless pokémon. A gentle cry toppled from the falling pokémon, signalled its defeat and Brendan recalled it, crestfallen that he allowed his beautiful Gardevoir to be injured. He whispered an apology to the monster ball.
Lapras swam back to its trainer, receiving a stroke on the head for its good deed. But even as she praised it, Misty kept one eye on her odd opponent. What type of strange creature will you pick now? I can only fear...
Brendan gazed warily at his four remaining choices. His newest one would be of no use in this gym, his most powerful should be a last resort, his type advantage would be perfect, but somehow... I don't know. My gut tells me I shouldn't send her out. ...I wonder if this Lapras is guarding anything.
He pocketed the rest and threw out his next champion. "Do it, Mightyena! Take down that Lapras!"
Misty's eyes hardened, but as a leader she reminded herself, she would not be shocked again. But when the wolf arrived on the platform, she allowed herself a sweat. It was evil-looking, cold and ruthless. ..Misty felt her Lapras' fear and it shrunk away...Intimidated.
"Lapras, Aurora Beam!"
The rainbow-endowed attack missed by a longshot, the Mightyena having bound out of the way and was making a straight-forward attack towards the transport pokémon.
With accurate precision, the wolf-like beast leapt around Lapras' neck and snapped its jaws down at the spot where the shell met the nape. It dragged out something incredibly shiny from the nitch and propelled itself back to the white-haired boy. Misty suddenly felt insulted, even as the Mightyena dropped the item to Brendan's feet. Her never-melting ice.
"Is this why you haven't used a water attack?"
Honest question. But did it deserve an answer? "I trust my Lapras' ice attacks than I do the water attacks. It's not a crime to give a pokémon an item to help it." Why did I say that?
"No. ..No, it's not." Brendan appeared thoughtful. "Oh well, game on. Mightyena."
The dark pokémon took its position back on the platform, and Misty glared Death at the boy. "Don't think my Lapras is defeated just because you stole my ice. Its still quite powerful. Lapras, call up a Rain Dance!"
Brendan grit his teeth and barked an order to watch out. The Lapras' slow, rhythmic motions could have doubled as Hypnosis, but the waters churning the platforms kept Mightyena awake, hunched over and growling deep in its throat. The storm clouds came soon enough, drying out their tears close to the ceiling of the room. Naturally, all of them got soaked; Misty hardly minded, but the Mightyena found it less then pleasent and Brendan's temper changed as fast as the weather. "Mightyena, Crunch it!"
Perfect. Misty closed her eyes. "Lapras, Thunder!"
The command sounded ludicrious, but right before Brendan's eyes, the clouds charged with electricity. "What?! That crazy thing can use electric attacks?!"
"First rule in gym battles, Brendan!" Misty pointed to the mid-air wolf. "Always expect the unexpected. Now!"
At the beck and call of the Lapras, the tempest spat out the streak of lightning from its deepest bowels, striking its target with dead-on accuracy, sending the Mightyena down into the watery field. Brendan recalled it as fast as he could, cursing. He had been careless. "Oh yeah? Well, how about this?! I choose you, Manectric. Hit that Lapras with its own folly!"
The blue and yellow monster called Manectric, Misty feared. It had the same build as the Mightyena, but with a name and order like that, she knew too well what would happen next. "Lapras, use Endure!"
Lapras curled around itself just as Manectric's returned Thunder, aided by the Rain Dance, hit. Endure helped, but the electrocution pummeled the almost invincible behemoth, leaving it down to barely nothing. Its will to fight remained, evident by the fierce look in its eyes, but Misty knew when to call it quits. "Lapras, return."
The monster protested, but didn't go against its trainer's decision. Misty spoke a few quite words of praise, and mentally beretted herself. But in the end, it seemed to work out for the better, as she had the perfect choice to take out that electric type. "Go, Quagsire!"
Brendan blinked, tipping his head to the side at the silly looking fish..thing. It looks as docile as Lapras and as dumb as her Psyduck. But can she win with it? It's definitely a water type...but Rain Dance is still working. It would be a lost cause...but only if it has a single trait. Does it have a second or is she only messing with me? She could attack while I have my pokédex out, so I guess I'll gamble. "Manectric, Thunder again!"
But as the attack shot out of the clouds, Misty's expression change...and it wasn't what Brendan had expected. The Thunder attack collided, but to his surpise, it rebounded off of the pokémon, leaving Quagsire unharmed with its goofy smile and proud stance. "But... what?"
"You weren't listening, were you?" Misty waved a finger in his direction. "Unexpected, Brendan, you should have looked it up. Quagsire's a water and ground type, and completely immune to your electric attacks."
Brendan swallowed nervously. He lost his gamble, but the information was more valuable. A water ground type? But I thought it was a one-of-a-kind combination...--Ah!
Quagsire was acting on its own, waving its tail tauntingly at the Manectric as a giant wave from Surf tore over like a tsunami towards both of them. Manectric yelped in shock and Brendan groaned to himself, picking at his skin-clingy clothes... Manectric shook itself off, not out yet, and made its own unsummoned move on its wounded pride, phasing its way towards the cocky pokémon and pounding it with Strength.
Quagsire hardly flinched. It only continued to smile.
With Manectric still on Quagsire's platform, it was a piece of cake returning the blow and Manectric found itself flying out of the pool area. It would have hit the bleachers too, if Brendan hadn't cried out in anguish and recaptured it.
It was two-on-two now. Misty had to wonder just what else Brendan had up his sleeve. But when he held up his fifth pokéball with hesitation, she became curious... and just maybe, concerned. "Hey, is everything alright?"
"Yeah.." he murmured. "...I'm just sizing the match up. While I do have six, my last one isn't strong enough to take on your water types. ...So my victory is all riding on this one right here. And you just said, Quagsire's a water/ground type.. Well," he smiled weakly, "so's mine. And I guess it's a bit intimidating when you're hope is the same typecast."
Despite herself, Misty smiled too, kindly. "You know if you don't win, you can always try again after you've gotten stronger. Its not the end of the world."
"Yeah well.." Brendan chuckled, scratching the back of his head. "I like telling my dad that I haven't lost a gym match yet. It'd be a shame if I had to tell him I lost to a pretty girl with her silly pokémon."
It could have been a compliment, it could have been an insult. Either way, she blushed, embarrassed. "Just for that, you're going down!"-- Brendan facefaulted.-- "Let's go!"
"Okay, if you say so..." He collected himself and threw out the pokéball. "Swampert, now is the time! Come out and win!"
It was big. Maybe not Blastoise big and certainly not Feraligator big, but it was still big. Fins on its head, orange whiskers, a diamond-shaped tail, and very powerful looking. And despite its unattractiveness, Misty's eyes sparkled with love and adoration. "Oh, it's so cool! What I wouldn't do for one!"
Sweatdrops appeared on Brendan's head. God, is she weird. "Now /you're/ holding up the match, Misty."<P>
Oh yeah. Misty coughed and straighted, swiftly regaining composure. "Let see what your Swampert can do. Quagsire, Surf!"
"You too, Swampert. Surf!"
The two water titans nearly emptied the pool with their attack, dealing minimal damaged and mostly canceling each other out. But their humans weren't discouraged.
"Swampert, Muddy Water!"
The attack hit, but no mud got in Quagsire's eyes due to the misty barrier around it. And such attacks kept continuing, either identical or meant to cancel effects of another. After numerous traded blows, both were panting, but still dead-set on winning. Misty finally huffed, impatient, and just decided to screw what was left of the grand room.
Brendan squeaked, just a /bit/ afraid, considering where they were...but in this condition, he'd lose if he didn't retaliate; he too sacrificed common sense. "Match its Earthquake, Swampert!"
Chaos and power....
"Ah..." Brendan cringed, guilt his current best friend. "M'sorry about your gym."
Misty sighed lightly.
Where Cerulean's Gym once stood, a pile of rubble replace it. Support beams and slabs on concrete jutted out of the mess, twisted angular monstrosities-of-man broken and crumbling. No one had been hurt, but what in the world was she going to tell her sisters?
Did they have to know?
"....That's the last time I use Earthquake inside a building."
"You said it."
A cracked wall collapsed with a rumbling groan and the whole town seemed to sweat. Oh, how they put up with this walking disaster they called a Gym Leader.
Firefighters and the police force soon arrived, but there wasn't much to do except yellow-tape the area off. Misty led Brendan away with a dropped head, exhausted from the commotion and a touch upset. After all, they still had a badge to talk about.
With most of the town at the site of the accident, the water fountain at the park was empty and there, Misty sat Brendan down. It was only then she noticed that he'd covered his eyes with a pair of sunglasses, but didn't bother to inquire. After all, it was a sunny day. She idly adjusted the cap on her head.
"Okay, so both Quagsire and Swampert fainted. We still have one pokémon each. I'm sure we can finish the battle."
Brendan gave a half-smile and shook his head. "Remember what I said? My last pokémon could never stand up to your water types."
"What is it, anyway?"
"Oh." His fond smile brightened considerably. "A Growlithe. I caught him while I was in Lavender Town a couple of days ago. He's practically brand new and not on a par with your pokémon."
"You're too quick to judge, Brendan." She got back to her feet, only to face him down -- his hair, indeed, was stark white. "Who said my last pokémon was a water type?"
The boy's expression was stupified and practically clueless. Misty wanted to roll her eyes, but she didn't. In the back of her mind, memories screamed at her. The ones from years ago, where Ash'd destroyed her bike and how she followed him around until he paid it back. After a few weeks the bike was forgotten... But here was a trainer who helped destroy her /gym/. She could do the same thing now, follow him around with the same half-hearted excuse. Maybe she yearned for the outside world again...
Maybe she just wanted to forget about stupid Ash.
"Let's take a break for now," said Misty, turning around and folding her hands behind her head. "It's still pretty early and won't get dark for a while. Ten minutes can't hurt." She gazed expectantly over her shoulder. "Can it?"
"Uh, oh, um.." Brendan nodded. "Yeah, alright. Break. Let's break."
Fox-eyed, Misty plopped back next to him, leaning in close. "You still owe me a couple of questions, Mr. Birch."
Brendan promptly sweatdropped. "I guess it couldn't hurt. I'm from Hoenn."
Misty's mind blanked out, her memory going back to Ash and his one and only video-letter to her, a few months ago. It was never said, but she was quite sure it'd been Brock's idea, seeing as he'd joined the younger teen in the land across the ocean and Ash was too dense to keep in touch with /anyone/ but Professor Oak. And that girl, who barely got the chance to introduce herself as May before Ash continued raving about his Taillow and Treecko... The sight of the unfamiliar brunette crushed her heart, like she'd been readily replaced.
Her reverie snapped and Misty pushed her smile back onto her lips, a fascade for the boy next to her. "I'm sorry. You said Hoenn and I... It reminded me of my friends."
Brendan didn't seem to be the wiser as he grinned, perhaps sensing a common link. "They went to Hoenn?"
"Yeah. See, we journeyed through Kanto and Johto together, doing as every trainer does: collecting badges and battling. It was really Ash's journey though." She lay back against a protruding block behind her, gazing idly up at the sky. "See, on Ash's first outing into the world, he had the nerve to steal my bike to outrun a murder of Spearow. It got demolished when his Pikachu called up enough energy to fry Ash and the Spearow, so there was my excuse. And there was Brock, who was Ash's first Gym Leader. He saw /something/ in the stupid kid and tagged along as well. And it's been just us, maybe with the occasional straggler, wandering and getting lost through Kanto and Johto-- we even went to the Orange Islands, but Brock was replaced by Tracey and--- oh." She bit her lip and bowed her head. "Ah, excuse me. I sort of let my mind wander just then."
"No, no, s'alright." Brendan waved his hands in front of him. "My dad's assistant Josh, right?, told me right before I left on my own journey, that the best way to cure homesickness is to talk to someone about it. Eh... you may not miss being home, but you miss your friends and it's the same principle."
Misty cocked her head to the side, staring at her opponent-turned-companion. It rang some truth, this philosophy. At the same time, she felt like she'd always known it to be truth; Brendan simply put it into physical words. "Well, I do feel a little better."
He smiled at her, pleased. "That's great."
His eyes. She wanted to see his eyes. But the dark glasses prevented it. Why wouldn't he take them off? Their backs were to the sun.
"Which means you get to answer my second question!"
His enthusiasm dropped when Misty threw it back at him, with her cute smile and kind eyes. Brendan rubbed the back of his neck, hesitant. "Why I'm wearing a sweatsuit in the summer?"
"That's the one."
Brendan adverted his hidden gaze; it wasn't something he liked to talk about. .....Then again, she wasn't asking about his hair, so maybe it'd be alright? "It's... ah... Well, it's more complicated than you'd think. ..I'm an albino." As if it wasn't any more obvious.
She didn't say anything right off the bat; Brendan couldn't help watching her face. Misty had a bewildered look to her, but thankfully nothing that said either disgust or 'freak'. "Well, it explains the hair. Is it also why you're wearing those?"
"The shades? Yeah." Brendan shrugged. "I /do/ have dark eyes, but it's not enough to filter out UV rays and all that."
"Mmm. I'm like an experiment case." Surprisingly he laughed, bemused at his own thought. "And it's called 'oculocutaneous albinism'. Quite the mouthful, and a real pain around little kids. 'You gots white hair! Are you an old man?!' 'But he doesn't have wrinkles!' 'Maybe he's a young old man!'"
The crack on himself wasn't too funny, but Brendan's falsetto put the smile back on Misty's lips. "It's still really unique."
"Mmm hmmm." He chuckled, leaning back on his hands and looking sky-wards. "Mom says it matches my personality: white like sugar and just as sweet. But my mom doesn't say anything bad about /anybody/. ...Except Dad, but that's a whole different ballgame."
Misty nodded, but wasn't sure if Brendan saw. It was quiet past then, the two simply enjoying the remaining day before the match continued in another minute. The orange-haired girl put on a laxed disposition for the world, but inwardly, she toiled. Brendan seemed like a very down-to-earth individual, unlike Ash who dreamed big. But otherwise, they could've been the same.
The trainer who disrupted her meditation was growing on her, and she more than ever wanted to reuse her destruction-of-property excuse.
But unlike Brock, her family wasn't around to reestablish their roles as co-Leaders. No, the Sensational Sisters were on tour and Misty was left to defend the homebase. Just in time for Ash to restart a new experience. Maybe /that/ had been the sign, that her traveling days were over...
And if she did, would she only burden Brendan in his own journey?
Was that all she was?
"The sun's starting to sink."
"So it is."
"Unless you want to make our ten minute break into a recess and continue tomorrow, we should probably make up for lost time."
Misty watched as Brendan stood up, his sixth pokéball between his fingers, and a radical grin in place. "C'mon, 'Leader'," he said in jovial sarcasism. "You couldn't hit my Growlithe with the broad-side of a Wailord!"
"....What's a Wailord?"
He laughed, golden light bouncing in the reflection of his sunglasses. "You'll like 'em, I swear. Biggest things to hit the ocean. Now c'mon, Misty!"
Contagious. His whole attitude is a disease. The dainty teen woefully left her seat, fishing into her robe-pocket for the final pokémon of the evening. No one was around; the earthshake of the collapsed gym still remained responsible for the lack of life.
"Pokéball," they both cried, "GO!"
As Brendan had said, his last was a Growlithe. The proud, diminuative canine shook itself off and psyched itself up. On the otherside of the designated fighting field, however, was a pure enigma. It was white, with red and blue mutant rings around its torse, and tiny, fae-ish wings junction between the round body and the long, long neck. ..There was no true way of describing it.
Habit is hard to break, and Brendan soon found his pokédex in his hand, searching frantically for this new entry to his files. Togetic. ...Togetic. The entry explained alot, especially why Misty might be attracted to such a...a......cutie.
It was adorable, if not truly freakish.
But now, he was ready. Ready to battle and ready to win, ready to prove to her, to his dad, and to his self... that he wasn't just lucky.
Officially, they reported it as all his fault.
When the Fire Blast made from Togetic's Metronome burned down half the park's trees, and Growlithe being the only fire pokémon there, Officer Jenny blamed him for both ruinous incidents and was ordered to leave the city as soon as possible....under the pretense that if he stayed, something /else/ would be demolished.
And Misty found her chance. They both knew it was Misty's fault, but she played the misdeed to her advantage, telling Jenny that since her Gym wasn't going to be open for.....QUITE the long time, she offered with the most devious of silver tongued (and a nefarious wink for anyone to see, to Brendan's utter incredulity) to stay with him and keep him out of any more trouble.
If Brendan didn't know better, he would have accused her of planning this from the beginning.
So now there he was, banned from returning to Cerulean City without strict military supervision, with a bouncing, fox-eyed redhead at his side, and labeled a natural disaster for other towns to beware. On the bright side, he had some company for once.
"You know I'm not a trouble maker."
"I do, but they don't."
Brendan sighed, the epitome of dismay. He was hunched over, head down, and arms hanging. Misty didn't seemed to notice; she was too busy revelling in the road beneath her feet. A small, red bag was over her shoulder and the cap from earlier tight over her hair, her entire outfit too scanty and revealing but it suited her. She was ready for her next adventure.
"You owe me something big, ya brat."
Misty smiled down at him, patting his back with two quick pats of affection. "Why are you so upset? You won, after all."
Tears streamed down his cheeks like rivers. "What am I going to tell my mom and dad? 'Hi! I won another badge, at the expense of destroying half the city and now I'm forbidden from going back to it! By the way, the irony is the real culprit who did the things I was blamed for is right here, making sure /I/...stay out of trouble.' Yeah, that really works."
"C'mon, Brendan, cheer up!" At least someone was happy about the arrangement. Misty straightened him up and brushed some dirt off his shoulders, a moment's pampering. "Look on the bright side: You /still/ got the badge, you've filled in a few more spots in your pokédex...and your Swampert has a new friend."
"...yeah." He still looked sullen -- but, mused the water trainer, it wasn't something a mocha in the next town couldn't fix. Misty's smile lit up and she took his hand, tugging him forward playfully. "Let me show you the rest of my world, Brendan. It's the least I can do for you."
It wasn't a hard decision, at least not one that shouldn't have taken so long, but Brendan bit at his cheek as he mulled it over. This girl was just like May back in Littleroot Town, only older and wiser, yet just as pretty and adventurous.
...Of course, Misty actually /liked/ pokémon, whereas May didn't seem too thrilled with them.
And Brendan smiled at her. It wasn't fancy, or overdone; just a simple turning of lips, and he tightened his hand over hers, paid admission to his life, perhaps even for the rest of it.
"I'm in your hands."