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Take My Advice (Oneshot)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by VoltTacklingPika, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. This is a short-story about Brock teaching Ash about girls, attraction, and so on. Here's a quick and short warning list/clarification before you start reading:
    • There is no shipping involved between Ash and Brock or Ash and anyone.
    • There are some tiny hints at sexual/adult themes, but nothing explicit.
    *
    Take My Advice

    Part 1:


    “I just don’t get it, Brock.”

    Ah, how often had he heard Ash utter those words since joining him on his journey?

    “What’s there not to get, Ash?” Brock asked with a patient smile.

    Ash was sitting cross-legged on his bed, dressed in a shirt and a pair of shorts, his precious hat tucked away in his discarded backpack. His arms were folded over his chest and his brow was caving inwards, a pose Brock had come to recognise as Ash thinking hard but struggling to find an answer. Pikachu was asleep at the foot of the bed.

    “You get rejected every time, but you keep going nuts for every girl you see. What’s so great about them?”

    “It’s not ‘every girl’,” Brock said. “Just the pretty ones.”

    “It doesn’t matter. I just wanna know what you find so great about girls.”

    Brock studied Ash. “Do you not like girls?”

    Ash blanched. “Not in the way that you do.”

    “Not even Misty?”

    “What does she have to do with this?”

    A sigh escaped Brock’s lips. He got up from his bed, sat beside Ash and threw an arm over his shoulder. “Everything, Ash. She has everything to do with this.”

    It so happened that the Pokemon Centre they found had more than one room spare. Misty had taken the opportunity to book the room for herself, eager to escape Ash’s snoring for at least one night. Ash had retorted that his snoring sounded like a singing Jigglypuff compared to hers, but the only response he got was her sticking her tongue out. She was in such a celebratory mood that not even Ash could provoke her into an argument.

    Ash wriggled out of Brock’s embrace but didn’t say anything. Brock took that as a sign to start talking.

    “Girls are wonderful,” he started. His tone became whimsical. “We spend all day out in the wild, seeing nothing but the same dusty roads, the same green forests and the same blue sky. It gets tedious after a while, right? So when I see a girl, it’s like coming across a new town. They’re an oasis and I’m a very thirsty traveller.”

    Ash’s face was so blank, Brock might as well have been explaining the intricacies of the stock market. Nonetheless, he ploughed on.

    “When I see a girl, I want to talk to her, get to know her, and see if she’s the one for me. It’s no different to any other guy. We all want that one person we can be with, hold hands with, embrace, share our deepest secrets with…”

    “Sounds like you want to be their friend.”

    “Friends don’t hold hands, Ash.”

    “Sure they do! There were two kids I knew back home who held hands all the time.”

    Brock shook his head, deciding to let the matter die before it escalated into a tiring diversion.

    “The point is, girls are important to me.”

    “Okay, but I still don’t see what Misty has to do with this.”

    “Let me ask you this,” Brock tried while reminding himself to stay patient. “When you see Misty, do you feel weird?”

    Ash’s answer was emphatic. “Nope.”

    “I’ll rephrase that: when you saw Misty in a kimono, did you feel weird?”

    Brock smiled in triumph when Ash fell silent.

    “And do you remember when you saw that picture of Giselle? It was the same feeling, wasn’t it?”

    “So? It’s not like it means anything,” the boy grumbled, turning his red face away.

    “Ah, but it does. That feeling is called ‘attraction’, and attraction is what drives men to act crazy around the opposite sex.”

    “Act like you, you mean?”

    Brock laughed. “Yeah. Just like me. Soon enough, you’ll be obsessing over Misty, asking her out on dates…”

    He got a pillow in the face for that. Ash was up on his feet, doing his best angry Mankey impression. Brock only laughed harder, which caused Ash’s face to flush even redder. If he pushed a little harder, he could probably make him evolve into a raging Primeape.

    “Don’t even joke about that, Brock.”

    “Who says I’m joking? It’s only natural. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

    Ash poked his tongue out like he swallowed something bitter. “Yeah, but it’s Misty.”

    “I’m not seeing the problem.”

    The boy flopped back down on the bed as a complicated expression came over his face. Brock waited, allowing the mirth to fade, curious about what excuse Ash would conjure up.

    After all, he had seen Ash on that night, and how flabbergasted he was at Misty’s appearance. It wasn’t that Ash couldn’t recognise what a cute girl looked like – he had been plenty aware of Giselle’s charms just as Brock was – but associating that with Misty had seemed impossible up until that moment. Nothing had changed in their behaviour after that, but Brock had been wondering if Ash was thinking about her a little differently.

    “It’s like this,” Ash said. “When I think about Pokemon, I get hyped up and want to go outside and battle someone. When I think about Misty, I feel kinda happy, but that’s it. I don’t think the same things you do around girls. You know, the holding hands and sharing secrets stuff.”

    “I see. So you don’t like her like that.”

    “There’s something else I don’t get, though. What’s so special about holding hands and sharing secrets, anyway? Can’t you do that with anyone?”

    Brock stared at Ash a moment, before getting up and falling face first onto his own bed. He groaned into the bed sheets, letting the fatigue wash over him and willing it to lure him to sleep where he didn’t have to answer Ash’s innocent questions.

    “I’m serious, Brock. I wanna know.”

    Knowing that Ash would pester him until he answered, he sat up, and simply said: “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

    *

    Part 2:

    Brock trod through the downpour a few meters behind Ash, May and Max. The Hoenn weather had been immaculate since he arrived in the region some months ago, but the moment they had crossed over to the East and began their way towards Fortree City, the humidity shot up, the forests became suffocating and the skies unleashed showers every hour.

    He was fine with it, though. It represented how he was feeling.

    They took shelter underneath a thick tree branch ruling over a cliff face until the rain eased enough for them to set-up camp. They retreated into their tents. As usual, Ash and Brock were sharing. They had shed their jackets, shoes and socks and left them next to a lamp in the vain hope they would dry by morning. Pikachu had wrapped itself in one of Ash’s spare shirts and was resting atop his bag. Brock was still, a towel draped over his head.

    “Come on, Brock. Cheer up already,” Ash said while fiddling with a pack of biscuits. He wrestled the packet open and offered it to his older friend. “You should be used to it by now.”

    Brock said nothing as he reached and drew a single biscuit from the packet. Ash then wasted no time taking out three and tossing them into his mouth. For a while, the sound of biscuits being ground between teeth was the only sound in the tent.

    “What am I doing wrong?” Brock lamented, staring at the biscuit in his hand. “Am I just that unattractive?”

    “I don’t know about that,” Ash said with his mouth full. He swallowed before adding: “Maybe you’re being too aggressive.”

    “But that’s the only way I know how to approach girls.”

    “Yeah, but how many times does it work?”

    “It’s not like you’re doing any better,” Brock snapped, sounding more bitter than he intended. He glanced up to see Ash’s reaction, only to find him in the process of shoving a pair of biscuits into his mouth with the ferocity of a Snorlax who hadn’t eaten in six hours.

    “I’m not interested in any of that stuff anyway. Pokemon is all I need,” Ash said after swallowing.

    Brock opened his mouth his retort, but found the words dying on the tip of his tongue. For him, it was inconceivable that any teenage boy would be uninterested in girls, but Ash was no ordinary teenage boy. His one true love was Pokemon. That fact was demonstrable throughout the two- and a-bit years he had known him. He had seen him travel with a girl close to his age throughout that time, as well as interact with many other girls they encountered along the way and display barely an ounce of attraction.

    He heard laughter through the open latch of their tent. Next to them, just a few yards away, the silhouettes of May and Max could be seen laughing through the fabric. Those silhouettes morphed into various strange figures, which would be greeted by a moment of silence, and then an eruption of giggles. The rain had eased from the monsoon they had been caught in earlier to waning waves.

    A wry smile spread on his face. He had fooled himself into thinking they would encounter some beauty caught unawares by the weather. Her clothes would be soaked and wrapped around her athletic figure, and she would be sniffling, and then he would swoop in with his coat. They did encounter someone, too. Only she was covered head-to-do in a poncho and prancing around like a Ludicolo. “Fantastic weather, isn’t it?” she had sung before twirling down the path before they could even get a word in.

    Brock had never been so defeated in his life.

    That painful memory aside, Brock recalled that Ash had shown no interest in his plan, nor had he paid any attention to the lightly dressed May standing beside him the whole time. Even now, Ash was more interested in devouring the pack of biscuits that had been lingering in his bag for the last two weeks than he was in only girl in their party.

    “You know what, Ash? I don’t believe you.”

    “How come?”

    “You’re 13.”

    “And?”

    And, there’s this little thing called puberty, which I know I’ve explained to you, so don’t try to act dumb.”

    “I can look without being interested!” Ash blurted. His cheeks reddened as he realised what he just said, and he took a panicked look outside the tent.

    “Oh-ho, now we’re getting somewhere,” Brock said, grinning. “Who have you been checking out?”

    His younger friend shrunk into himself. “It’s obvious, isn’t it?” he grumbled.

    “Nope. You’re going to have to tell me,” said Brock. He chuckled as Ash’s squirmed. Knowing that Ash would pop and kill the conversation if he pushed anymore, he decided to relent. “Whoever it is, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

    “I don’t know, I feel guilty about it afterwards,” Ash groaned. “If I don’t like her that way, I shouldn’t be looking, should I?”

    “But if you’re looking, doesn’t that mean you do like her that way?”

    Ash shook his head. He looked as frustrated as he would be during a Pokemon battle that wasn’t going to plan. “It’s like I said before, I’m not interested in romance or anything. Pokemon is all I can think about right now. All I want to do is fight battles, get to the Pokemon League and take one more step towards becoming a Pokemon Master.”

    Brock thought that was about as typical an Ash response he would ever hear, but something in his expression told him that he wasn’t satisfied with the answer. He could tell he was working through something in his mind but struggling to arrive at the answer he wanted.

    “What you’re experiencing is attraction. Physical attraction, that is.”

    “You mean that holding hands and cuddling stuff you went on about before?”

    “Not quite. It’s something a lot more instinctive than that. You can’t control it, and your body will express it even when you’re not aware of it.”

    “Scary.”

    “Just wait until you’re caught in the act.”

    Ash paused. “You don’t think she…?”

    Brock shrugged. “Maybe.”

    “Oh, man…”

    Ash was fretting, but Brock knew he had nothing to worry about. He had seen May casting looks at Ash; a peek here and there, especially when Ash decided to walk around camp in just a pair of boxers. He was certain that May was thinking the same things Ash were. From his perspective, they were just two kids growing older and becoming aware of each other – nothing more or less than that.

    “Take my advice,” he said. “Worrying about being caught will just make things harder. You’ll start acting weird, and then she’ll definitely notice.”

    “What do you mean, ‘weird’?”

    “Kinda like the way you’re acting right now.”

    Ash blinked a couple of times, and then chuckled. Brock laughed along with him.

    “I guess I better stop acting weird and just be myself, huh?”

    “Exactly. Just be yourself, whatever the situation. Forget about the rest.”

    With that, the conversation turned to lighter subjects. They chatted into the night, long after the final biscuit in the packet had been eaten.

    *

    Part 3:

    Brock was beginning to think he’d never find love.

    He had travelled through three regions, meeting countless girls along the way, and was now in a fourth region, where there were even more girls… and not one of them were interested.

    It had to be bad luck. The law of averages meant that he should have gotten lucky at least once!

    If the world was out to get him, it seemed to be doing its best to support Ash. His best friend and constant travelling companion was chatting up a storm with Dawn, their newest female friend. They were walking ahead of him, oblivious to what he was doing. That had been happening a lot lately. Ever since Ash got his first Sinnoh gym badge.

    Not that Brock was a stranger to this. Back when Misty was travelling with them, he often took the backseat, if only because it was funny watching her and Ash bicker with each other, and he could step in and mediate if he wanted to. That changed when Misty left. With May and Max rounding their party out at four, he always had someone to talk to, whether that meant indulging Max’s rapid-fire questions or telling May about the best spots in the town they were about to visit.

    Still, it surprised him how quickly Ash and Dawn became friends, especially after the rough start they had.

    Maybe that cheerleading outfit had something to do with it.

    He had to raise his voice to let them know they were approaching a Pokemon Centre. Once they were there, he took care of the usual lodging arrangements, while Dawn excused herself to use the phones for her regularly check in with her mother, though not before handing her Pokeballs to Ash to pass on to Nurse Joy. After he had done so, he located the cafeteria and zipped inside.

    By the time Brock followed, Ash was already seated with a tray full of food. He shook his head while smiling and joined his friend at the table.

    “Not gonna eat?” Ash asked between mouthfuls of rice.

    “Maybe later.” He then added, “If you leave any food for me, of course.”

    “Not making any promises.”

    Brock relaxed in his chair and surveyed the cafeteria. The only light in the room was the sinking sun peaking in through the windows, casting a sleepy glow. He and Ash were alone, save for the elderly lady behind the food counter. She smiled and winked when she caught Brock looking before disappearing into the kitchen. It reminded him that he hadn’t given his blessings to the Nurse Joy, who happened to be a rare beauty with an especially bewitching smile that drew in patrons to her admittedly remote Pokemon Centre. Little wonder he was feeling so tired.

    He thought to get up and amend that problem right there and then, but remembered that Dawn was on the phone to her mother and reigned himself in. He began worrying his lower lip and bouncing his knee up and down. He must have been making quite the scene, since Ash stopped eating long enough to look at him.

    “It won’t work,” he commented.

    Brock’s eye twitched. “You don’t know until you try.”

    “No, I do know. It’s never worked. Why would it now?”

    “Look at you, giving out sage advice. Feeling confident after scoring another girl?”

    Ash’s composure was eerie as he picked at some loose grains of rice on his plate. “It’s not like that.”

    “It’s not?”

    “No. Do we look like that?”

    Brock’s answer was instant. “You’ve been joined at the hip.”

    “We have a lot in common and she’s easy to talk to. That’s all it is.”

    Anyone else would have thought Ash was protesting too much, but Brock knew him well enough to know when he was being sincere.

    “I suppose you’re right,” he said, a mischievous glint forming in his eye. “You haven’t been checking her out as much as you did May.”

    Ash coughed, patches of red staining his cheeks. “How do I put this… I guess, compared to May, she’s different. Physically, I mean.”

    Brock refrained from comparing the body types of girls several years younger than him and instead urged Ash to continue.

    “With May, it was like, sometimes I’d space out and then all of a sudden I’m looking at her. That hasn’t happened with Dawn. Maybe because she’s younger? I don’t know.”

    It sounded plausible enough to Brock’s ears. May was only two years younger than Ash, a short enough gap that any differences in maturity weren’t all that obvious. Dawn, on the other hand, was four years younger; not even a teenager while Ash was progressing through the most delicate stage in any boy’s life.

    “I think I’ve gotten better at controlling that sort of thing, anyway,” Ash added.

    “What sort of thing?"

    Brock and Ash nearly jumped out of their seats as Dawn’s head appeared between them. Her face was the picture of innocent curiosity as she swapped her blue eyes from Brock to Ash.

    “We were just talking about battling,” Ash strained out. “I was getting advice from ol’ Brocko.”

    Dawn contemplated Ash a moment before stepping back, seemingly satisfied. Then, as if she hadn’t a heard a thing, she switched topics. Brock swore he could see the world closing in around the pair of them, pushing him out to the periphery again. Ash sent him an apologetic smile. He appreciated the lifeline, but he had to admit, he was feeling left behind. Who would have predicted that Ash Ketchum, a boy who, four years ago, barely recognised the opposite sex, would prove so popular with it?

    The fact he wasn’t even trying irritated Brock the most. Ash had always been blessed with fantastic luck, but this extended beyond that. He was friendly, kind, passionate, and a surprisingly good listener for someone who could talk your ear off about Pokemon if you let him. Ever since he pulled his head out of his rear and took greater interest in the world around him, his perception of others had only improved the more they moved around. He was getting better and better at knowing what to say and when to say it.

    Brock had always thought of himself as the sage on love, but it was becoming clearer now that he had a lot more to learn. With that thought in mind, he dismissed himself from the table, put on his handsomest smile and made his way over to reception.

    *

    Part 4:

    Brock had been face-deep in a tome almost as thick as his head when Ash slid into his bedroom with all the grace of a drunken Spinda. He didn’t even blink; he had heard Ash coming from a mile down the street.

    The teenager grinned. “What’s up, Brock?”

    Despite himself, Brock smiled too. He held up the book he was reading for Ash to see. “About a million words on the medical applications for Pokemon attacks.”

    His friend was horrified by the sheer density of the words on the pages. “That’s rough. It’s not easy becoming a doctor, huh?”

    Brock’s smile turned just a bit jaded. Ash didn’t even know the half of it.

    It didn’t take long for Ash to settle himself down on Brock’s bed after explaining that Pikachu had gone to play with the gym’s Pokemon. Brock marked the page he was reading and set his book down with a heavy thud. That sound was the cue for the conversation to begin in earnest. Ash gave an animated account of his time in Unova. He gushed about all the new Pokemon he got to see and catch. Brock listened to it all, knowing better than to interrupt when Ash was on a roll.

    “Unova was so much fun,” he concluded about an hour later. “You would have loved it.”

    “Sounds like it,” Brock agreed. “I didn’t know Dawn had gone there, too. She could have told me.”

    “She did go there on short notice. I didn’t even know until she surprised me at Cynthia’s place.”

    Brock stared at Ash as he processed what he’d just heard. Cynthia, one of the most attractive women on the planet, had allowed Ash and Dawn to stay overnight at her holiday villa in a prime holiday destination, while he had been cooped up in his room brushing up on the finer points on the anatomy of Diglet.

    In that moment, Brock wondered if this whole doctor thing was the right path after all.

    “So apart from reuniting with Dawn and staying in the same place as Cynthia, who else did you meet? What was her name… Iris?”

    “Yeah, Iris. We travelled together. She was cool.”

    “Is that all?”

    “And different.”

    Brock stared, waiting for Ash to continue. He shrugged. “Her skin tone was darker, she had bigger hair and she liked climbing things. Different.”

    “Uh huh.”

    “She got on well with Dawn, though.”

    That surprised him. “Really?”

    “Yeah. They liked teaming up on me. I don’t know why.”

    Brock imagined Ash being teased by two girls and didn’t know whether to be amused of jealous.

    “So this Iris. Were you…?”

    “Nope.”

    Brock’s brow shot up. “Again?”

    “What do you want me to say? It just wasn’t like that.”

    It never is, Brock wanted to say, but he thought against starting a debate about the issue. He wasn’t there to see for himself what their relationship was like, but Ash was Ash. That guy had the purest of intentions no matter how well he got on with girls.

    “Besides, I think she’s interested in Cilan anyway.”

    Now that got Brock’s attention. “How can you tell?”

    “I dunno. It’s just a feeling I had. Like, they seemed to really enjoy being around each other. They would argue about stuff I didn’t really understand and go on for hours. Sometimes, I felt like I would get in the way if I said anything.”

    This was sounding very familiar to Brock, who had experienced this exact problem first-hand just a year ago, but he kept silent and urged Ash to continue.

    “I didn’t mind that much, but there were times where I felt, I dunno, kinda awkward? Like I was interrupting when I shouldn’t have been.”

    “Sounds like they got on really well.”

    Ash nodded. “Yeah, but I don’t know if that’s all it was. I asked Cilan about it once and he said Iris was ‘a really charming girl’. That means he likes her, right?”

    “It could be. Did he want hold her hand and share secrets with her?”

    Ash laughed. “I think he did!”

    Brock turned serious for a moment. “What you experienced there was being the third wheel. It’s how I felt when we were travelling with Dawn. You’re with two people who get on really well with one another and worry that you’re just getting in the way by inserting yourself in the conversation. It’s not very fun.”

    His friend’s expression turned apologetic, but he waved it away. It wasn’t like Ash and Dawn had squeezed him out on purpose.

    Ash turned pensive as he leaned back on the bed. “Should I have tried to do something for them? Like play matchmaker or something?”

    “I’m surprised you know what they word means,” Brock quipped. “I don’t think you have to worry about that, Ash. If they really do see each other that way, they’ll reveal it when they’re ready.”

    “I guess so, but how? Will they hug and hold hands and stuff?”

    “Sure, but after they say, ‘I like you, let’s go out’ first.”

    “Is that how it works?”

    Brock was certain that it was exactly how it worked, even if he didn’t have the experience to back that claim up.

    Ash seemed to grow frustrated with the conversation and diverted it back towards his experiences in Unova. They talked until the sun began to set, and Brock’s siblings were stomping around the house demanding food. It wasn’t until he stood up and made to leave the room that he remembered something they hadn’t talked about.

    “You’re not going to ask me about my love life?”

    Ash was the very picture of innocence. “I thought about it, but I figured you wouldn’t have much to say. You’ve been busy, right?”

    Busy. Right. That’s what it was. With that unconvincing excuse bouncing around his head, he went downstairs to lament how nobody other than his close family and friends will ever sample his cooking.

    *

    Part 5:

    Pallet Town was truly idyllic in the spring. Whenever Brock visited, he always took a moment to pause before he hit the slope down the town entrance so he could see the sprawling emerald fields swaying in the breeze and the sunny yellow of crops that would soon be ready to harvest. Then he would cast his gaze over the town itself. He would see the coloured roofs of houses, all bunched together in the protective embrace of Professor Oak’s laboratory perched on the highest hill.

    Usually, there was no real purpose for his visit. Sometimes, he just fancied a change of scenery from the dusty greys and browns of Pewter City. Today, though, he was visiting to welcome Ash back from his latest adventure, with congratulations and concern in his heart.

    It had been all over the news. Mere moments after the Kalos League had reached its thrilling finale, Team Flare, yet another crime organisation determined to change the world, had occupied Lumiose City. The reporting on the actual events was spotty to say the least, but Brock had pieced together that Ash had been involved. Because of course he would have been.

    Not he would have known it from how Ash acted. He found the guy sleeping next to a stream with Pikachu curled up on his chest. It was almost unnerving how relaxed he was. He expected him to be bouncing around town in anticipation of his next adventure, not kicking back in shorts and a t-shirt like he was on holiday.

    “I thought we could do with a break,” Ash had explained through a yawn after Brock woke him up. “Our last adventure got a little crazy. Right, Pikachu?”

    Pikachu’s answer was to settle on Ash’s lap and go back to sleep. Ash smiled and ran his hand over his head.

    “You okay, Ash?” Brock asked as he sat down next to him.

    “Sure. Why wouldn’t I be?”

    “You look like you have something on your mind.”

    Ash’s eyes widened in surprise for a moment. He then laughed. “Can’t get anything past you, can I?”

    Brock waited as Ash looked into the stream for nothing in particular while he idly stroked Pikachu.

    Finally, Ash spoke. “If a girl kisses you, does that mean she likes you?”

    Brock frowned in suspicion. “Depends on the circumstances. I guess. Did a girl a kiss you?”

    Again, he thought with no little jealously.

    “Yeah.”

    “Where?”

    Ash paused. “On the lips.”

    Brock sighed. “Okay. Explain everything, from the beginning. Who is it this time?”

    Ash told him about a girl he met called Serena. He talked about how she had seen him on TV and recognised him from a camp in Pallet Town when they were both little kids.

    “I didn’t remember her at all at first,” he admitted with a sheepish look. “She seemed really happy when I did, though. I didn’t know why. Didn’t even think about it after that. Once she started travelling with us, I just considered her a new friend.”

    “What was she like?” Brock asked, keeping a tight a lid on his patience as possible.

    “Really nice. Probably the nicest person I’ve travelled with. She always looked out for people, and she would make me cookies whenever we were in town.”

    “Just you?”

    “Me and the others,” Ash corrected. “She’d always give us our own bags. She really loved baking.”

    “So, when did this kiss happen?”

    “Right before she left for Hoenn.”

    “And what did you do?” Brock asked, almost dreading the answer.

    “Uh, nothing? I just kinda stared into space.”

    Brock groaned into his hands before clasping Ash’s shoulder. “Ash, I say this as your closest human male friend: you’re a moron.”

    Ash responded with a nervous chuckle. “Maybe?”

    “No maybes about it. And here I thought we had been making progress over the years!”

    “I had a lot going on, okay?” Ash snapped back. “There were a lot of tough trainers in Kalos, and I couldn’t switch off for a second without someone catching up to me.” He then fell quiet. “People expected a lot of me, too. It was like I had to be on my game, all the time, otherwise I might have disappointed them.”

    “I suppose even you feel the pressure sometimes,” Brock mused.

    “As for Serena… yeah, now that I think about it, it was really obvious.”

    “Sounds like it. That poor girl spent that whole time hoping you would return her feelings, and you’re only now just realising.”

    Ash grimaced. “It sounds really bad when you put it like that.”

    “But hey, we all make mistakes. It’s not like I’m in a position to judge you,” said Brock. “The big question is: what will you do now that you know?”

    “Apologise, maybe?”

    “Okay, but then what? You surely realise that if you apologise for ignoring her feelings, she’ll be expecting you to give her an answer, one way or another. Are you prepared to do that?”

    This was, Brock thought, the pivotal moment. He had seen Ash grow, from a boy who didn’t know what was so good about girls to a man who, bit by bit, learned what attraction was. He had thought that once Ash knew, that he would follow up on that knowledge by doing something he had yet to do: find love. The state of his own love life was sad, but he always thought that if his advice could steer someone else to that treasure, then maybe he wasn’t that far off the mark.

    But more than all of that, he just wanted Ash to succeed, no matter what.

    It seemed like an eternity before Ash uttered his answer. It was clear and firm; just as it would have been if he was proclaiming to the world that he’d be the best Pokemon Master in history.

    “There’s one thing I love the most in this world, and I think you know what it is.”

    Brock gaped, before he burst into uncontrollable laughter. “Of course you would say that,” he said between breaths. “I should have known better, really.”

    “Maybe one day that’ll change, but for now, I want to keep doing what I’m doing, no looking back.”

    “The Ash Ketchum way,” Brock said, wiping the tears away.

    Ash scooped Pikachu up until his arms and got to his feet. His face was glowing with excitement, as if he had discovered a new place to visit.

    “I don’t know about you, Brock,” he said. “But I really want to hit the road again.”

    “You got a destination in mind?”

    “Not really. I might just hop around Kanto for a bit.”

    “If you do, make sure you go see Misty. She was pretty mad that you ignored her last time.”

    “Ah, I knew I forgot something.”

    “You’re no good at this girl thing, are you, Ash?”

    “Look who’s talking,” Ash retorted with a cheeky grin before bounding away back into town. Brock watched him disappear into the nest of houses, sure as he had ever been that the next time they met, neither of them would be any closer to love as they understood it.
     

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