He couldn't have asked for a better day. The forecast had asked for light showers in the morning, but by 11:00 am the clouds had long cleared, leaving the earth smelling clean and bright. The grass was only slightly wet, sparkling with a fresh layer of dew that scattered like little beads in the cardamom sunshine.
The picnic blanket was getting damp too, he supposed. But that didn't seem to matter to May, who was currently lying down beside him, her arms pillowed behind her head, a half eaten cupcake balanced on her stomach and spilling crumbs over her skirt. Pikachu was dozing off beside her, chirping lightly.
"I'm so glad we came out today," she said at length, her eyes trained on the clouds. Her eyes were so blue, reflected by the sky.
Ash chuckled, pouring himself some lemonade. "Yeah, me too," he said, then blushed at the utter simplicity of his answer.
But May was looking at him, a smile on her cheeks, so he guessed it was okay.
They sat in silence for a few more minutes, but then Ash started to get jittery. He was never one to sit so still for so long.
"Hey, let's go look for Pecha berries!" he said, standing up. May's eyes fluttered open in surprise, as if she had been sleeping too. Pikachu roused from beside her and hopped onto Ash's waiting shoulder.
"Pecha berries?" she asked curiously, standing up and brushing crumbs off her skirt. "Do you even know if there are any berries around here?"
Ash smiled and took her hand shyly, helping her up. "Yeah, I remember coming out here with Pikachu before. There was a whole bush of them somewhere. Isn't that right, buddy?" He turned to his long time companion with a smile.
"Pika pika!" the yellow mouse pokemon replied, which Ash took as affirmation.
"Come on, it'll be fun!" he insisted. May gave him a fond smile. At least, he thought it was fond. He really needed to start learning to decipher her many expressions. God knows he was bad at that.
"Okay..." she said, stepping off the blanket. "I certainly hope you know where we're going..."
Ten minutes, several thorny bushes, and an angry group of Shroomish later, they finally reached the bush.
May was slightly cross at this point, picking leaves out of her hair. "So you're telling me we came all the way here for this dinky little bush?"
Ash had the decency to look sheepish. Sure, the bush was definitely smaller than he remembered it...but there had to be Pecha berries on it, right?
"Trust me, it'll be worth it!" he insisted, reaching over to brush a stray leaf out of May's hair and pressing a hesitant kiss to the spot. May's expression softened slightly as she ducked her head, chuckling.
"Okay, okay," she said, reaching her hand into the bush and feeling around. "Hey, I think I found one!"
Breathing a sigh of relief, the three sat down in the soft soil, savoring the sweet, juicy flavor of the pink fruit. When May finished hers, she looked over at Ash with a mischievous smile.
"I think you've got Pecha juice on your lip, Ash," she said sweetly, wiping off her sticky fingers.
Ash blinked owlishly. "Do I?" he asked, reaching up to wipe it away.
May laughed and caught his arm. "Yeah, right here," she whispered, then leaned in to give him a kiss.
From between them, Pikachu made a sound of protest. Ash pulled away with a grin, expression soft and silly. May didn't let him go far, laying her head on his shoulder and rubbing the fur between Pikachu's ears. "Oh, don't worry, I love you too, Pikachu," she said teasingly.
The yellow mouse pokemon cooed happily. Then, suddenly his ears perked up, eyes widening in what looked like fear.
Ash and May automatically stiffened. "Pikachu, what is it?" Ash asked tersely.
May squeaked. "Oh no, Ash, look!"
Raising his head, Ash suddenly realized that the entire clearing was filled with Beedrill. They buzzed angrily, filling the forest with a dissonant hum.
"I...I think they're mad we ate their Pecha berries..." Ash stuttered, slowly trying to stand up. May followed suit, and Pikachu's cheeks started to spark.
"There's too many of them, we can't fight!" May whispered hastily, as if afraid that any loud noises would spur the Beedrill into action. Her hand reached down to squeeze Ash's almost painfully.
Somehow, her touch jolted Ash back into action. "You know what that means, right?" he asked, body coiled tight.
May nodded. "Run!"
And off they went, tripping and stumbling over the grassy twigs and trees, the Beedrills in hot pursuit. In the middle of the chase, Ash dared to look over, the wind rushing in his ears, almost as loud as the drone of Beedrills. "You okay?" he shouted, tightening his hold on May's hand.
And May looked back at the sound of his voice, her hair whipping her face, cheeks pink. What surprised him most though was how utterly free her smile looked. "Yeah!" she shouted back. Her next words were pitched on a breathless laugh of exhilaration. "I've never felt so alive!"
Ash's eyes widened, then he found himself laughing too, the sheer ridiculousness of the moment overtaking him. She was right. He felt great.
And so off they ran, hand in hand, the Beedrills following like a trail of yellow balloons, bright and beautiful as the sun.