by: Hugo Reed
Chapter 3: Lunchtime with Brock and Duplica
"I think I'm gonna go see Professor Oak. I want to pitch Duplica's idea with Charizard to him, and see all my old pokemon again!"
"Well, let's go!" said Duplica, scooping up her pack and ditto.
"Wait!" said Ash. "You're going with us?"
"Yeah," said Duplica. "No time like now to start something new, besides traveling with you guys will be better than traveling alone."
Ash shook his head softly. Duplica was crazy, but a good friend, and it would be nice to have a new travel companion.
"Alright!" Ash called throwing his fist up in the air.
"Pika!" called out his yellow rodent, copying his movement.
They all hit the road smiling and talk about anything that caught their interest. One thing that held Ash's interest for an hour easy was the discussion of the new region.
"I don't know much," said Duplica. "It's called the Johto region. It's apparently where pokemon like Togepi are from."
"Huh?" asked Misty. "You mean there are more like Togepi?"
"Of course," said Duplica, as Ditto transformed into Togepi. "You didn't think it was the only one in the world did you?"
"Sort of," said Ash, running his hand through his hair. "To be fair we found it at the bottom of an excavation site."
Brock laughed lightly.
"He means he found it and took it when no one was looking."
Duplica laughed softly.
"But I'm glad he did," said Misty. "Otherwise I would've never won Togepi."
"You didn't win it Misty! I did and when it hatched it saw your first so it picked you."
"Well, obviously Togepi has great taste."
Duplica grabbed Ash and Misty by the shoulders softly, then pointed ahead.
"I don't mean to stop the lover's bickering," she said. "But we're here."
"I'm not her..." Ash began before interrupting himself. "Oh yeah! Back in Pallet Town! It's feels great to be back home, right pikachu?"
"Pika! Pi!" confirmed the pokemon.
Duplica smiled as his enthusiasm. They walked down the winding road as Ash pointed out the new sights to their new traveling companion. When they got home, Ash called out to his mother.
"Mom! I'm home... Mom?"
"Ash," said Misty, hanging her head in irritation. "We left literally right after you had your battle, your mom isn't used to traveling so she probably isn't even back yet. She might not have even left. Did you even think about talking to her before you went home?"
"Hey get off my back Misty! I've been traveling for two years without having to wake up and tell her where I'm going. I'm used to just taking you two around, and Duplica has been with us ever since I ran into her."
"You are an idiot."
"Whatever," said Ash, sitting in the kitchen chair. "What are we going to do for food today? I can't make anything."
"Ash," said Duplica. "I've been on my own for years. I'm plenty happy to make something for you guys since you're letting me tag along."
"Now just one second!" said Brock, stepping up. "I've baked for years for my brothers and sisters and I'm the designated chef on our journey! I'll do the cooking, thank you!"
"Man, Brock calm down," said Ash. "It's not like we're saying Duplica can cook better or anything. I'd just figured you'd want a break."
"What?" yelled Brock. "You're saying she's better! Oh it's on now! Duplica! I hope you're ready!"
Ash expected the green-haired girl to protest or at least be as confused as he and Misty were, but she wasn't. She just nodded, rolled her sleeves and put on an apron before racing Brock to the countertops. Ash turned to look at Misty.
"Do you know what's even happening?"
"I think they're trying to prove their cooking skills..."
In an hour, the two laid out their completed courses. Ash and Misty couldn't help but stare. They'd spared no skill or resources.
"Hey Ash try some of the chicken," said Brock, tossing it over.
"Nonsense this sushi is great!" said Duplica.
It took what seemed like hours, but Ash and Pikachu swore they'd died and gone to heaven. Duplica was easily on par with Brock, which was no small accomplishment. But with every good thing in life, a reprimand is usually on the way.
"So Ash," said Duplica, looking at him eagerly. "Who's food was better! Come on, tell us!"
Misty spoke up.
"I'd have to say Brock's, he had far more experience, and made it look much more professional. He wins hands down."
"I don't agree," said Ash. "Brock's food was good and looked great but taste is tops and Duplica's had a certain edge to it. That's impressive considering she didn't have the taste testers Brock did."
"You're just picking Duplica because you like her!" said Misty.
"Am not! I'm open-minded!"
The argument continued for another hour before Brock had enough.
"GO ONIX!" he called out. "Now look! I've had it. The next person that yells at anyone gets a bind attack from my stone snake ok!"
"Ok Brock," said Ash and Misty in unison.
That night, Brock and Ash spent the night in his room while Misty and Duplica stayed in Delia's room. Duplica was restless, and couldn't seem to get comfortable. She knew it was because her mind was racing, but she couldn't calm it no matter what she tried. Finally, she gave up on sleep and turned to Misty.
"Hey," she called softly. "You awake?"
"Yeah," said Misty, turning to her too. "What's up?"
"You mind if I ask you something?"
"You just did," she said smiling softly. "But sure go ahead."
"I... I mean... Do you like Ash?"
"Of course," she said. "He's been a good friend, if a little block-headed."
Duplica rolled her eyes, but luckily Misty couldn't make it out in the dark.
"I mean do you like him?"
"Oh," said Misty, catching on. "Well I... no! Well, yes. There's something about him sometimes. When it shows he seems so much older and stronger. Please, please don't tell him ok?"
"My lips are sealed," said Duplica, and Misty caught the tone in her voice.
"Why do you ask Duplica?"
"Well," Duplica said, biting her lip. "I sort of like him as well."
"WHAT!" Misty said so loudly that they both held their breath for a moment, but neither of the boys made a sound except for Brock snoring. "When did you start liking him?"
"That time we met at the mansion. He's got a great heart and determination, but I finally had my dream in front of me and I didn't want to abandon it to chase what I thought might be a silly crush. But I found it harder and harder to focus on my act, and before I left for the league, I couldn't even finish more than one or two impressions. That's why I went to find Ash."
"But you don't even know him!"
"Do so! I know a lot about him and what I find makes me like him more. I know his thoughts and attitude just as well as you or Brock. I know how to listen to him instead of yell at him."
"You know what you don't have? Experience! I've been there for him for over two years. You even know when he was born, how old he's going to be?"
"Why do you think I'm traveling with you three!" Duplica said, trying to keep her tone low. "I'm not leaving him again."
"Well you sure aren't getting him without a fight!" said Misty. "I've got him claimed and I don't back down easily."
"You're a fool. You can't claim a boy like a toy or even a pokemon you've caught! He's his own person and he'll chose who he likes. Who do you think he'll chose, the bitch who yells at him nonstop, or a woman who cares about him and helps him in his journey?"
"Oh I didn't realize you've been on all his travels and practically saved his life due to stupid mistakes. I'm so sorry."
"Nice," said Duplica rolling her eyes again. "Sarcasm doesn't suit you Misty. You'll see. You may be a fighter but I'm not going to let you take him without a choice for him."
They both rolled over and tried to find sleep, but the both stayed away all that night, focused on the raven-haired boy. It wasn't until sunrise that they moved again.
Ash and Brock were woken bright and early by the Dodrio's cry. Ash yawned and stretched. He saw the calendar on the wall and flipped forward to see what the date was today. To his surprise he saw that his 13th birthday was in a month. He hadn't really been expecting or preparing for it, but it was a nice thought to see if they could have something done; maybe get some of his old friends from around town and a small party or something.
His thoughts were interrupted by two pebbles hitting his window. Peering out through it, he saw a figure in blue clothing with brown spiky hair. Gary.
Opening the window Ash yelled down at him.
"Gary! What do you want?"
Even from such a distance, Ash could make out Gary's smirk.
"I want a battle! We both lost against your friend Riche in the league and I need someone to step on. So how about it?"
"Oh you are on!" Ash yelled down, throwing on his vest and hat before jumping onto the roof and sliding down the column on the front porch.