I don't own these characters or profit from them. Please don't sue me, I'm poor.

A new bike
By, Clayton Overstreet

  Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pikachu walked down the dirt road towards the Tiger city Pokemon center. They had been walking for three days and needed a break. When Ash saw it he smiled then turned to Pikachu. "Come on Pikachu, I'll race you there." Both of them took off running towards the center.
  "Ash, wait up!" Mist yelled and ran after them.
  Brock sighed and walked behind them. This was going to be another one of those days.
  When Ash got to the center he walked in and up to the counter. Looking around he noticed that nobody else was there except nurse Joy and Chancy. He smiled at Joy and put his Pokeballs on the counter and picked Pikachu up. "Hello nurse Joy, can you take a look at my Pokemon?"
  Joy smiled and nodded. "No problem, they should be ready by tomorrow."
  Ash smiled and looked at Pikachu. "I'll see you tomorrow o.k. Buddy?"
  Pikachu nodded and said, "Pi pikachu."
  Ash smiled and Chancy carried his pokemon away. Nurse Joy looked at Ash curiously for a minute. "You look awfully familiar."
  Ash shook his head. "I don't know. I haven't been here before."
  Nurse Joy snapped her fingers. "I remember now, you're Ash right? I saw you on television at the Pokemon league and the Orange league."
  Ash smiled. "Yeah that was me. And these are Brock and Misty. They're Gym leaders."
  Nurse Joy smiled. "A pleasure to meet you two."
  Brock stared at her wordlessly and Misty nodded politely, "Hi."
  Before Brock could say anything stupid Ash asked Nurse Joy, "Can I barrow your phone for a while?"
  Joy nodded. "Certainly, it's in the back."
  Ash smiled. "Thanks." He said. Turning back to his friends he said, "I'm going to call my mom. I'll catch up to you guys later alright?"
  Misty nodded and Brock kept staring at Nurse Joy. Ash turned to go to the videophones leaving them there. 
  When he got to the phone he sat down and dialed his home phone number. It rang several times, and then Mr. Mime's face appeared. "Mime?"
  Ash smiled. "Is my mom, there?"
  Mr. Mime nodded, then stepped away from the screen. A few seconds later his mother came to the phone. "Ash! I see you finally made it to Tiger City."
  Ash smiled. "Yeah, I did. On the way we had a little trouble with team Rocket, but it wasn't really a problem."
  She smiled and nodded. "Glad to hear it. Professor Oak says hi, and your Pokemon are all doing very well."
  Ash smiled. "That's good to hear. Did you send it yet?"
  His mother nodded. "Yes, it should be there tomorrow. I think what you are doing is so sweet Ash, are you sure you don't want one for yourself?"
  Ash blushed and shook his head. "No, it wouldn't be right. Besides, I don't mind walking for another year."
  His mother smiled. "You are such a good boy. Happy birthday Ash."
  Ash smiled. "Thanks Mom. I'll call you when I get to the next Pokemon Center alright?"
  She nodded. "Alright honey. Have fun." The screen went blank and Ash got up to go back out front.
  Misty and Brock looked up at him. "So how is your mother doing Ash?" Misty asked.
  Ash shrugged. "She says she is doing fine. My Pokemon are great."
  Brock looked at him. "Are you alright Ash? You've been really quiet since the last Pokemon center."
  Ash smiled at them. "Oh, it's nothing. It's just... my 12th birthday is all."
  Misty looked at him surprised. "It's your birthday? Why didn't you say so?"
  Ash smiled. "Well you guys didn't tell me when your birthdays were so I just thought it would be rude. I mean it's been over two years and all."
  Misty smiled. "Wow, who would have thought you'd think of manners. I guess you're right though."
  Brock put his arms around their shoulders. "Well I think we should at least go out to dinner. Come on I know of a restaurant in town that gives you free cake on your birthday."
  Ash smiled. "Alright, that sounds like fun. Too bad Pikachu can't come with us."
  Misty shook her head. "Chocolate is bad for Pokemon anyway Ash. Come on let's get going."
  Ahs looked at her. "Hey where's Togapi?"
  Misty motioned towards nurse Joy. "I left him here to get taken care of."
  Ash nodded and lead the way out the door.

  At the restaurant they ordered cheeseburgers and fries. Misty noticed Ash staring off into space. "Ash, are you sure you're alright? You've barely even touched your food."
  Ash nodded and ate a French fry. "I'm just thinking about some stuff." He smirked. "You know how much concentration it takes me."
  Brock nodded. "No kidding. If you got lost in thought it'd take a search party to find you."
  Misty laughed and Ash looked down in mock embarrassment. "Some friends you two are."
  Misty smiled. "You know we're only teasing Ash, cheer up. Besides it's not like you don't mess with us too."
  Ash grinned. "Like that time I scared you two when we went after the ghost Pokemon at the tower?"
  Misty looked at him angrily. "Exactly."
  Ash smiled and took a bite out of his burger. When they finished Brock smiled and motioned the waiter over. "Excuse me, but it's my friend's birthday. Could we get some of your chocolate cake?"
  The waiter nodded. "Certainly sir. Simply show me proof that it is his birthday."
  Ash held up his Pokedex. The waiter looked it over, and then smiled. "Thank you. We have to be careful though. A lot of people try to get free cake even when it isn't their birthday."
  Misty smiled. "It's alright, we understand."
  The waiter left, and then came back with three pieces of cake. "Here you go. If you want any more just ask. And here is your check sir." He handed Brock the bill and Brock gave him enough money to pay for the meal.
  While they ate the cake Ash seemed a lot livelier than he had been. "Mm, this is very good. I'm glad we came here, thanks Brock."
  Brock waved it off. "No problem Ash. I'm enjoying myself too."
  Ash nodded, then looked at them. "So why do you guys stay with me anyway? I mean couldn't you both do a lot better collecting your own badges?"
  Brock shook his head. "You two are my best friends. And the Pokemon I've caught while I've been with you are great too."
  Ash nodded. "I know that, but I thought you wanted to be a Pokemon breeder. How are you going to do that with only one of each kind of Pokemon?"
  Brock smiled. "Don't worry Ash, I have plenty of time. I think I can be a better trainer by learning things on the road with you than I could just sitting at home with my dad, brothers, and sisters."
  Ash looked at Misty. "Is it the same for you?"
  Misty nodded. "Pretty much, plus you still owe me that bike Ash."
  Ash rolled his eyes. Brock may have too, but it's hard to tell. "I know Misty, I know. But what will you do if I do get you your bike?"
  Misty shook her head. "I don't know. Maybe go looking for water Pokemon or something. I'll think about it when and if it happens."
  Ash sighed and got up. "Well I'm done. I'll meet you back at the Pokemon center."
  They watched him get up and walk out. Misty looked at Brock and asked, "What do you suppose is wrong with him?"
  Brock shrugged. "I don't know but without him here we can't get any more cake. What do you want to do?"
  Misty thought about it. "Let's just go back to the Pokemon center and see if there is anything good on television."
  Brock nodded. "Not much else to do really. Is it just me or does it seem like we're just supporting characters?"
  Misty nodded. "Yeah, but what can we do about it?"
  Brock shrugged and got up from the table. Misty followed him and they left the restaurant. In the distance they could see Ash walk into the woods.

  Walking through the trees Ash looked up and saw the darkening sky. He thought about going back, but really didn't want to yet. He rarely got the chance to walk alone. Usually Pikachu was there at least.
  Off in the distance he heard the sounds of crickets and smiled. He couldn't remember the last time he hand seen a non-pokemon bug. Or a non-pokemon anything for that matter outside of a restaurant.
  Maybe it wasn't such a good idea, he thought. Suppose Misty just decided to leave. After all she'd been saying that's what she wanted to do. Maybe he should just forget about it, send it back to where ever his mom had bought it and just save the money for an emergency.  
  He shook his head no. After all it was Misty's choice. One thing he had learned since leaving home was that if a friend wanted to do something, if you were really their friend, you'd let them do it. The same way it had been with Butterfree, Pikachu, Charizard, and the other Pokemon he had let loose.
  Only Misty wasn't a Pokemon. She had been with him through the entire thing, even before Brock. When Brock had decided to stay with Professor Ivy Misty had stayed with him. Even when that one gym leader showed an interest in her. But if she wanted to leave Ash had to respect that.
  Looking around at the hard ground he decided to head back to the Pokemon center. He turned around and followed the path back through the forest.
  Suddenly he fell into a hole. Sighing her closed his eyes and counted down from three. "Prepare for trouble..."
  Ash yelled out of the hole. "I don't have my Pokemon with me!"
  Jessie, James, and Meowth looked into the pit. "Really?"
  Ash nodded. "Yes. And since it's my birthday could you three just help me out of this and go into the woods to get your own Pokemon for a week?"
  James looked at Jessie. "Maybe we should. After all if he doesn't even have Pikachu what would be the point?"
  Jessie nodded. "You're right. And if we just leave him down there he won't get his Pokemon back so we'll be out of a job."
  "Yeah and it is his boithday." Meowth said.
  James reached down. "What are you doing walking around without your Pokemon twerp?"
  Ash took his hand and pulled himself out of the pit. "Just thinking. Anyway can't you two catch your own Pokemon? You've been getting a lot better with the ones you have."
  Jessie looked at him in amazement. "You really think so?"
  Ash nodded. "You aren't exactly masters but you should be able to catch your own. Just leave me alone for a week all right? You don't get blown up, I get to not worry about falling into holes dug in the road."
  Jessie looked at him. "Alright, but you don't tell anyone we just let you go alright? It would ruin our reputations."
  Ash nodded and took off back down the path. "See you in a week."
  Team Rocket waved goodbye and turned to walk back into the forest. "You know, I think we're in a rut." James said.
  Jessie and Meowth nodded and that was the last Ash saw of them.

  When he got back to the Pokemon center Joy smiled at him. "Your friends went to bed a while ago. I added a cot for you to sleep in too. I'm sorry we couldn't do better for you."
  Ash smiled pleasantly. "That's alright. You and the other Joys have been real great to us and our Pokemon. Besides anything is better than sleeping on the ground."
  Joy smiled. "You are a very nice person Ash. And from what I've heard you've helped out a lot of Pokemon centers yourself."
  Ash smiled and rubbed his head. "It was nothing really. I just was there at the right time." He yawned loudly. "Anyway I think I'll go to bed. See you in the morning. By the way, if a package arrives for me tell me about it alright?"
  Nurse Joy nodded and smiled. "Sure thing Ash. Good night."
  "Good night." Stretching slightly Ash walked to the room Joy had gotten for them. When he got there he saw Brock on the top bunk and Misty on the bottom. His cot was a few feet away from the bed. Taking off his backpack and shirt he set them on the floor and lay down.
  For a while Ash just stared across the room at Misty, then shook his head. Rolling onto his back Ash closed his eyes and went to sleep.

  In the morning Ash took a shower then went to the front room to claim his Pokemon. Joy handed him his Pokeballs and Pikachu. "Hey Pikachu, how do you feel?"
  Pikachu smiled up at him. "Pika pikachu."
  Ash smiled and scratched behind Pikachu's ears. Joy smiled at him, "You must have a very special bond with your Pikachu if he doesn't need a pokeball."
  Ash nodded. "He was my first Pokemon. Even when he had the chance to leave he decided to stay with me."
  Joy smiled. "That's very sweet."
  Brock and Misty came out of the room yawning, their hair still wet from their showers. "Hey Ash, when did you get in last night?" Brock asked.
  Ash shrugged. "I don't remember. You two were both asleep so I just lay down on the cot and went to sleep."
  Misty blushed. "Sorry about making you sleep on the cot on your birthday Ash."
  Ash smiled at her. "It was no problem Misty. I didn't mind at all."
  Misty looked at him strangely. "Boy Ash, this is a big change for you. Usually you would make some crack about me needing beauty sleep or something."
  Ash shook his head. "It wouldn't be any fun to say that stuff if it were true Misty."
  Misty blushed, and then shook her head amazed. "Wow, a compliment. Something must be up."
  Brock nodded. "I agree with Misty. You're up to something Ash and you'd better come clean with us right now."
  Ash sighed. "Alright, you win." He turned to nurse Joy. "Did that package arrive yet?"
  Joy nodded. "Yes, a large box did arrive for you. You'll need to sign for it first though."
  As Misty and Brock watched in surprise. When he was done signing nurse Joy and Chancy went to the back and pulled out a large box.
  "What's in it?" Misty asked.
  Ash smiled. "It's what my mom got me for my birthday." 
  Misty, Brock, Pikachu, Joy and Chancy watched with interest as Ash opened the box and it fell open. Inside was a pink bike. "I hope you like it Misty. I wasn't there to pick it out but my mom said it was the top of the line. Comes with a tire patch kit, pump, water bottle, and a basket for your pokeballs and back pack... are you guys alright?"
  Everyone but Joy and Chancy were looking at Ash with their jaws hanging down. Ash casually walked the bike over to Misty. In her arms Togapi looked up at her and said, "Pi?"
  Misty shook her head. "I'm fine Ash, I just... I don't know what to say. It's beautiful bike, but isn't it your birthday?"
  Ash smiled. "Well I thought that since I was having such a hard time getting the money any other time this would be the perfect chance."
  Misty nodded and set Togapi into the basket. "Thanks Ash. Um, do you mind if I go try it out?"
  Ash smiled and shrugged. "It's your bike Misty."
  Smiling Misty took the handlebars and walked the bicycle outside. Ash and Brock watched as she got on and began riding out of site. When she was gone Brock looked at Ash. "That was a very nice thing you did Ash."
  Ash smiled and shrugged. "It was no big deal. Besides now she won't be bugging me about it and won't feel like she has to follow me around any more."
  Brock nodded, then looked at him. "Is that why you gave it to her? To get rid of her?"
  Ash shook his head. "Of course not. But it isn't fair for her to just follow us around all the time, getting lost in the woods, attacked by Team Rocket. Now she can finally go get those water pokemon she wants."
  Brock smiled and put his hand on Ash's shoulder. "You know you are real dumb sometimes Ash. But other times you are probably one of the best people I know."
  Ash nodded, then turned back. "What do you mean dumb?"

  Misty laughed, enjoying the feeling of the breeze on her face. In the basket in front of her Togapi cooed happily as they began speeding down the hill. When she got to the bottom she suddenly stopped, jerking forward slightly on the seat.
  Why had Ash done this? He wasn't the kind of person who usually did this sort of thing. Sure a few times when Team Rocket attacked or when he thought he could help, but he had done nothing for her since the day they... well that wasn't true either. Ash had been a really good friend, if a bit annoying. Misty had to admit she really liked him a lot.
  So why had he gotten her this bike? "Maybe he just wants me to go away. Not follow him around any more."
  Togapi looked up at her and squeaked. Misty rubbed his head, then looked back up the hill towards the Pokemon center. "I haven't exactly been nice to him either. Always whining about my bike, calling him a looser all the time, and a lot of other names." She looked down at Togapi. Think we should just go away and leave him alone?"
  Togapi answered her by hopping out of the basket and rolling down the hill. "Togapi!" Misty yelled. She followed Togapi on her bike and passed him. At the bottom of the hill she stopped and caught Togapi as he rolled up. "You need to stop doing that."
  Togapi made some happy noises and smiled. Then he pointed one of his tiny arms at the phone booth sitting behind her. Misty looked at it, and then her face broke out into a wide grin. "You're a genius!'
  Stepping inside the booth Misty dialed and waited while the phone rang. After a minute Ash's mom appeared on the screen. "Hello Misty."
  Misty smiled. "Hello Mrs. Catchem. Thank you for the bike."
  Ash's mom smiled. "You're quite welcome Misty. But you really should be thanking Ash. Where is he?"
  Misty blushed. "He's back at the Pokemon center. He doesn't know I'm calling you."
  Mrs. Catchem smiled. "Then I take it this isn't just a thank you call."
  Misty shook her head. "I was wondering... why did he do it? I mean did he say anything to you about not wanting me around any more?"
  Ash's mom shook her head. "Of course not. Ash is always telling me how happy he is and how much fun you all have together. And I have to say it's been good for him. Did you know that when I heard what he wanted I offered to get him one too? He flat out refused saying that it wouldn't be the same."
  Misty felt her chest tighten slightly. "Really? Wow, he didn't tell me that. He just said that it had everything I could want in a bike  and that you had picked it out. But the way he acted...I just kind of felt like he was trying to give me a way out."
  Ash's mom smiled and looked at her. "Ash has grown up quite a lot. Do you remember when he let his butterfree loose?"
  Misty nodded. "Yes. It found a mate and Ash told it, it should go with the others."
  Mrs. Catchem nodded again. "Or how about his Figiot, or his Charizard?"
  Misty bit her lip. "I see what you mean. Thank you for your help Mrs. Catchem."
  Ash's mom smiled. "It's no problem Misty. If you ever want to talk again feel free to call me alright?"
  Misty nodded and hung up the phone, causing the screen to go blank. Stepping out of the booth Misty looked at the bike again. Then she looked up the street back to the Pokemon center. She could leave right now, go off and collect all sorts of Pokemon, then go back home and be the gym leader. Or she could go back up the hill and stay with Ash.
  Ash and Brock sat in the Pokemon center. Ash had been watching the door for the last half hour since Misty had gone off. He had been so sure then that she would come back, just like Pikachu had. But like he had told himself before, Misty wasn't a Pokemon. She had her own life.
  "So what will we do if she doesn't come back?" Brock asked.
  Ash forced himself to smile and turned to Brock. "Then we'll go on. Plenty more Pokemon out there to catch. And I'm sure we'll see her again later if she wants to see us, right?"
  Brock nodded. "Yeah, but it sure would be quiet without her."
  "Without who?" Misty asked from the door.
  Ash looked up startled, his smiled turning real. "Misty, you came back!"
  Misty smirked and put her hand on her hip. "Of course, you don't think you'll get rid of me that easily do you?"
  Ash smiled and hugged her. "I never wanted to get rid of you in the first place Misty."
  Misty blushed and Brock stepped in. "Alright you two, let's get going. We have quite a way to go before Ash gets into the Jhoto league."
  Ash and Misty laughed and followed him outside, waving goodbye to nurse Joy.
  About two hours later they were leaving Tiger city and heading on to the next town. As they did Ash looked at Misty, who was riding along beside them slowly on her bike. Brock was up a head of them so Ash looked at her and said,  "You know Misty if you ever want to..."
  Misty nodded. "I know Ash. I don't want to leave though. I... I like hanging out with you. I don't think I'd ever want to stop. Know what I mean?"
  Ash smiled at her and nodded, shifting his backpack where Pikachu was sleeping. "I know Misty. Just don't make a big deal about it ok?" He smirked at her. "Now come on so we can catch up to Brock."
  Misty laughed and followed after him as usual, moving down the road to the next gym.

The End

Author's note
  Hey my first Pokemon fic. Hope I spelled Togapi right. If not feel free to change it. I hope you like the story. Ash was a bit different than usual, but like he said he had a lot on his mind. Anyway it's been two years and he has grown up a bit. Team Rocket made their quick appearance and I got them out of the way without having to go through their entire lame motto. Tell me what you think at clayton_n@hotmail.com