Dawn relished the sensation of the Kanto breeze hitting her face as her ship finally neared its destination in Vermillion City. She was still pursuing her dream to be a Top Coordinator and was determined to claim victory at the Contests in the new region.
“You excited?” An old friend, Lyra, joined her at the deck.
The trainer had recently participated in the league tournament in Sinnoh and was readying to head back home when she unexpectedly bumped into Dawn at the sea port. Naturally, they would both be taking the same ship to Kanto since a direct one to Johto wasn’t available.
“I can’t wait to see him again.” The blue-haired girl answered the question.
“Jeez, Dane! I was asking about the start of your new journey! But, I guess Ash will always come first for you!”
Dawn ignored Lyra’s smug teasing as something else took her attention. The ship finally reached the city and Ash, along with his partner Pokemon, Pikachu, were waiting for her at the port for a grand welcome.
“Dawn!” He yelled out in joy as he saw his friend run towards him with Piplup trying his best to hold on to her shoulder.
“Ash! It’s been too long!”
She did not know what came across her mind as she immediately enveloped him in her arms.
The impact of the hug made their respective Pokemon fly to the ground but they couldn’t complain. They were together once again.
Ash, who was dumbfounded for a second, finally reacted; putting his own arms around her.
“It’s good to see you again…”
His voice was softer than usual which brought her back to her senses. She let go and blushed heavily after realising what she had done. The boy, however, didn’t seem to mind and continued.
“Did you have a nice journey?”
“Y-yes. It was fine.”
It was just like him to not pay much attention towards things like hugs. Now that she thought about it, why was it so important anyway? Friends hug, don’t they? It was just a matter of surprise from both sides since they had never done it before. Yes, that was all there was to it.
Their interaction was cut short with Lyra bringing attention upon herself.
“Lyra!” Ash turned towards her “I was surprised when Dawn called me saying you were coming along too! How have you been?”
"A bit ignored but, otherwise, just fine!"
The conversation carried forward on the road as the trio made their way to a newly constructed lab in the city.
The girls were greeted by Professor Sakuragi, the owner of the lab who introduced them to his daughter Koharu and her childhood friend, Go. Ash had been using the lab as a home-base as he traveled through different regions with Go and it was apparent why. The place really had a familial feel to it.
They were treated to a delicious three course meal and when combined with endless chit-chat, the evening seemed to go by faster than a quick attack.
Dawn rubbed her belly in satisfaction as she laid on the bed in the guest room.
“I’m so full!”
“You sure did enjoy your dinner.” Lyra commented.
“Of course, I did! Didn’t you think the food was amazing?”
“I wasn’t just talking about the food.”
She sat up straight, looking confused.
“What do you mean?”
“You and Ash were in a completely different world of your own! It’s like the rest of us didn’t even exist!”
“Oh!” She flashed back to the meal and guilt took over soon after “I’m so sorry. I didn’t pay much attention to you or Professor Sakuragi and the others.”
“I didn’t say that for you to feel bad!” She came closer to her bed “Hey, did today reignite some old feelings?”
“C’mon, Dane! You know what I’m talking about!”
“I really don’t.”
Lyra sighed in exasperation. Dawn was, most of the time, just as dense as Ash.
“Do you remember the conversation we had way back in Sinnoh? About seeing Ash as boyfriend material?”
“B-boyfriend?” Her voice squeaked
“Really? Did you seriously forget?”
“N-no! Wait, why are we bringing this up again?”
“Because it is relevant!”
“I told you! I hadn’t really thought about it!”
“Still? That thought never ever crossed your mind?”
Would she be lying if she said she hadn’t once thought of the possibility of being more than friends with him?
She looked at Lyra who had a triumphant smile on her face.
“I got you thinking, didn’t I?”
“Lyra, you’re such a pain!”
“Oh, please! What was today’s hug all about?”
“What about it?” She got defensive “Friends hug all the time!”
“Then, why did you blush?”
“Because we had never done it before!”
“Why did you start doing it now?”
“Because I missed him and was happy to see him again! Gosh, Lyra! I wasn’t even thinking!”
“Again with the ‘no thinking”! Well,” she gave a playful wink “you should really start before it’s too late.”
“Go to bed!”
The next morning…
Dawn needed a distraction and what better way to do that than to train for her upcoming contest! She went to the battlefield behind the lab only to see Ash already occupying a part of the area.
The electric rodent looked more powerful than ever! She was amazed at how much both Ash and Pikachu had grown since their time in Sinnoh. He had even become the first Champion of the Alola region which was no easy feat! If only she was there to witness the moment in person. That would have made her the happiest.
“Dawn?” Ash turned around and noticed the coordinator staring at him “How long have you been standing there?”
Her face turned red at the question. Would she be seen as some sort of creep who was spying on him?
Why was this bothering her? She had never cared about such things before.
“Dawn!” He had concern written over his face “You look really flushed! Are you sick?”
“I-I’m fine. Really!”
She tried to assure him but he wasn’t buying it.
“I’ll go get you some tea! You wait here by the bench!”
“Here you go!” Ash handed her the beverage and seated himself on the empty space next to her.
“What’s bothering you?”
Before Dawn could respond, Piplup jumped out of her lap and cried out to Pikachu. The yellow Pokemon, being significantly more observant than its trainer, understood the penguin’s intentions and joined him as they moved further away from the duo.
“Well, that was weird.” The boy was more than a little confused by their actions and his friend let out a giggle which made him light up.
“Glad to see you feeling better!”
She gave him a smile and went on to take a sip from her drink.
“Dawn, you’ve been acting weird all morning. What’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing, Ash! I’m sorry for making you worry!”
“But I haven’t seen you act like this in a while. And- and you look like you’re uncomfortable being around me.”
There was genuine hurt in his voice and she felt even worse than before.
What if she just told him what was on her mind? It’s Ash, after all! Her best friend! Surely, he wouldn’t think much of it.
“It’s Lyra. She’s messing with my head.”
“Huh? What did she do?”
“It’s just-” Her face got redder “she thinks I have feelings for you.”
Of course, he wouldn’t get it right away.
“Obviously, she’s wrong!” She quickly added; determined to not let him get the wrong idea.
“Oh, no!” He made an exaggerated gasp “I’m heartbroken!”
She gave him a playful punch on the arm and snickered.
“Seriously. What was Lyra even thinking?”
“Hey!” He started as a matter of fact “I’m a great catch! Well, at least Serena used to think so!”
He used to talk about his experience in Kalos when they exchanged mails from time to time. She recalled a photo of his travel group and distinctly remembered a very pretty girl who went by the name of Serena.
“I have told you about her, right? Well, she gave me a little kiss when we said goodbye at the airport.”
Dawn didn’t know how to process that information. She was never the jealous type. She even got along well with May and Iris, his other female friends. But why did this news sting her so bad?
“H-How did you feel about the kiss?”
“Hmm.” He thought for a while “I guess you could say it felt pretty good.”
Her heart sank.
“I don’t know how to describe it but I felt happy knowing that someone liked me enough to kiss me.”
Ash had always been innocent when it came to this department. But she had to admit that his reasoning was rather sweet.
She did like him. Maybe she was confused as to what kind of feelings they were but what if they were, in fact, really strong? Strong enough to want to do just that?
Her hand involuntarily moved towards the side of his face which started burning hot as her fingers started caressing it.
His heart palpitated as he saw her leaning towards him. He was about to shut his eyes and brace himself when she unexpectedly stopped.
“What’s wrong?” He asked as she hid her face in embarrassment.
“I-I can’t do it.”
She faced him once again. Why does he look disappointed? Did he actually want the kiss?
“I haven’t done it before.” She confessed and began to fluster “And what if it’s not as good as her kiss?”
To her annoyance, he responded with a laugh.
“That was just a peck! It was no big deal!”
“Still!” She stood up “A kiss is really important! How can you just brush it off like that even if it was only a peck?”
She turned away to leave but was stopped by him gently tugging her hand. He got up and inched his face closer to hers. She felt a slight brush on her lips as the Alola Champion did the unthinkable. He quickly pulled away without giving her a chance to react.
“That’s how it happened in Kalos.”
She looked at him in confusion.
Was this one of his pranks?
He didn’t look like he was playing around. His face had turned serious.
“Ash, what does this mean?”
“Was this also not a big deal?”
“You know that’s not what I meant! I’m grateful towards Serena and the kiss showed how much I meant to her!”
“Then?” Dawn didn’t want to be too hopeful that she would get the answer she was looking for “Then, what about now? What does this kiss mean?”
Ash intertwined his fingers with hers. A slight blush crept on his face.
“That I like you enough to kiss you?”