By: Hugo Reed
Chapter 7: Gifts
A month after that night, Ash was seated at the head of a small picnic table his mother had set up. Duplica and he had spent most of the time together, training or just talking. Of Brock and Misty had come sometimes, and sometimes held back to do their own things. The green-haired girl and he learned more and more about each other and he came to find that Duplica simply couldn't be a woman who would sit still. She liked to road too much and wanted to see new places.
Ash was snapped back tot he present by his mother hugging him tightly and giving him a traditional happy birthday. The woman may not be the best when it came to not embarrassing him in front of others, but she never held back on a celebration. She'd even made a huge triple layered cake with a wax Pikachu atop it. Ash's own pokemon looked at it for a full minute before tapping it softly. It muttered it's disapproval of the newcomer before going off to play with Ash's other pokemon.
Soon enough, the traditional chorus of happy birthday was strung up; and it was time for him to make his wish. He may be thirteen now, but there was something profoundly strong about a birthday wish. He still hoped it had some magic to make it all come true. In the moment he took his breath, time froze; and he had to weigh his two desires against each other. Pokemon against Duplica.
All his life, he'd never wanted anything more than to be a pokemon master. It was his dream, and nothing had ever changed that. Now though, a whole new part of life was being opened up to him; love. He thought about the two for what seemed like a lifetime before finally blowing out the candles.
Let me learn how to love Duplica like she loves me.
Then there was cheering and food and Ash smiled. It was a nice relaxing time and he enjoyed it. He had a small pile of gifts from people: a new set of travel clothes from his mother, a set of thirty great balls from professor oak, and even a set of pots and cooking utensils from Brock with apron included.
"Thanks man," he said upon opening the last gift.
"No problem," said Brock smiling. "I figured you should probably learn to cook for yourself someday, just for when we go our own ways."
Ash nodded, making a mental note to dump the flowery apron first chance he got. He took a note that there were only two presents left; Misty's and Duplica's. He reached for the redhead's first, and smiled at her before unwrapping the gift. It was a large photo album, filled with pictures from his time in the league as well as some Todd had taken during his time with them.
"I know how much you like showing off," Misty said winking. "I figured you might as well have something to back it up."
"Thanks Misty," Ash said.
It was a good gift and actually pretty thought out. After all, he didn't have any real pictures from his travels yet… maybe it was time to invest in a camera. He knew his mom would like the pictures anyway. Now it was time for Duplica's gift, and Ash could feel his pulse quickly slightly. He pulled it closer to himself and noticed it extremely light. Pulling off the card on top, he saw Duplica's neat script.
Hope that these will help you in taking care of your wild Pokemon problems.
Ash even felt his heart beat harder reading the word love. Nervously, he opened the package and saw a very odd looking cloak. He spent a minute looking at it before awkwardly looking at the green-haired girl.
"Thanks Duplica, what exactly is it?"
She smiled at him, winking quickly.
"It's a flame-retardant cloak. I figured it would help you with training Charizard. Also it's very light, but also stays the same temperature on the inside, so it'll be useful if you stay in areas that are too warm or cold for you."
"Wow," Ash said simply, not even knowing such things existed. "Thanks this'll be a blast."
"Your welcome, I had one myself when I first traveled and feel in love with it."
Ash picked up the cloth and spread it out. It was bright white and almost seemed to shimmer. Carefully he folded it up and placed it among his other gifts. They all stayed for a few more hours, talking and congratulating him. It was fun and Ash knew it was going to be one of the days he'd remember for a long time. His mom's Mr. Mime even took a picture for his new photo album. It was definitely a good day.
That night, Ash slowly walked over to the window, careful not to wake Brock and climbed out onto the roof. He sat and stared at the full moon hovering over his house. he thought carefully over his journey and how close he'd become to his pokemon. It had been more than a little hard work, but it had been worth watching them all grow stronger and closer together. He smiled lightly. Pokemon were as much a part of him as his own heart, and always would be. It was during his musings that a heard a small noise behind him. Turning quickly, Ash saw Duplica leaving her and Misty's room.
"Hey," he said softly.
This was not the first time they had met on the roof like this. In fact, it was becoming pretty commonplace.
"Hey you," she said, sitting right next to him, and laying her head on his shoulder.
"Thanks for the gift," he said.
"No problem," she said. "I think it suits you. Actually I came here because of your gift in a way…"
"What do you mean?" he asked.
Duplica often began sentences in a way that didn't makes sense to him, but she'd explain it well enough so that he'd get the gist of what she meant.
"Well I also wanted to give you this," she said.
Ash turned to see what she was talked about and was stunned as he felt her lips crash into his own clumsily. She quickly readjusted and kissed him passionately. Ash's mind wasn't working properly. He kissed her back as best as he could, having literally no knowledge in what to do. It felt good, but awkward. Where the hell were his hands supposed to go? Weren't you supposed to close your eyes when kissing? He hastily shut them and after Duplica broke the kiss, he opened them slowly.
It had felt wonderful, but he was hoping he hadn't alienated her by being awkward. He looked at her and noticed she was scarlet red.
"That was… wow," he said stupidly.
"Yeah," she said, quietly, and placed her head under his chin, curling into him.
They stayed like that for a while. Ash had come to accept that often, Duplica would rather be close to him rather than try and explain her thoughts and he was fine with that. It left him plenty of time to just accept the moment, and be happy. They stayed like that, cuddled up against each other and happy until the sun rose. Amazingly, Ash didn't feel even remotely tired. He was wide awake and full of energy.
The real problem was he wasn't sure what to do at this point. He'd never felt like this or been in his position with a girl before. It was new, it was strange, and he loved every second of it. He knew he cared for Duplica just as he cared for his pokemon. He also knew he'd fight just as hard to make sure she was safe.
"Ash," she said softly. "When did you know that you and Pikachu were friends?"
"Pikachu and I certainly weren't friends at first," he said. "We didn't agree on much of anything and I left pallet dragging him on a clothesline. But after stood up against sparrow for him, pikachu respected me a little, and we only grew closer and closer after that."
"What made you stand up for him?"
"Well, reluctant or not, he was still my pokemon. Besides, I wasn't going to let a bunch of birds bully us around if I could help it."