“Ehh? Ash?! ”
“Gah!” Instantly, all the color drained from the raven-haired boy’s skin as he whipped his body toward the source calling his name. “M-Mallow! W-What are you doing out here?” the boy asked, shaking like a leaf in an Alolan hurricane wind, as his Pikachu sat perched on his shoulder, its fur pointing out like spikes, equally startled.
The boy, Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town in the far-off Kanto region, stood stiff as a board, both hands folded over his groin, averting the green-eyed gaze of his green-haired classmate.
Mallow pouted. “Well, I was coming out here to tell you that I just finished making lunch, but—” She paused, then pointed. “What’s that thing in your pants?”
“T-Thing? In m-my p-p-pants?!” Ash replied, sweat starting to pour down his reddening face as he stammered over his words. “W-What are you talking about?”
The girl scratched the back of her neck. “Well, Ash, I didn’t want to say this when we first met, because I didn’t know if it was just a result of me hitting you with Tauros,” she started, “but you’ve been walking kinda funny ever since you got here.”
“M-Me?” Ash said. “W-Walking funny?”
Mallow nodded. “Mhmm, yeah,” she said. “You don’t seem to walk like anyone else I’ve ever known, unless they’re walking in the snow in wet swim trunks or something. Do you have a bruise on your thigh or something?”
“Gah! No!” He vigorously shook his head, as did Pikachu.
“Come on, Ash. You can tell me. I am your friend, aren’t I?” She smiled. “Is it—” She paused as she briefly saw an abnormal bulge in Ash’s pants as he lifted one of his hands to wipe sweat from his brow.
“Pikapi!” The electric mouse Pokémon nudged its trainer.
Ash, noticing the direction of her gaze, quickly returned his hand and stiffened even more. “Gahh! ”
Eyes bulging and an eyebrow cocked, Mallow pouted again. “Ash Ketchum, are you hiding something?”
“No, no, no!” he replied, shaking his head again.
“Because it kinda looks like you’re hiding a berry in there. Did you take something from the kitchen? ’Cause I’ll have you know I had a rare starf berry earlier today, and I couldn’t find it while I was cooking!”
“Nuh-uh, nope! Haven’t seen it! Honest, really!”
Mallow’s eyes narrowed and her lips curled into a smug smile. “Oh, really now?” she said, walking closer to Ash, her hands on her hips. “Because you know what I think, Ash?”
Ash’s face glowed like a tamato berry. “W-What’s that?”
“I think you saw my starf berry in the kitchen and thought you were going to come out here and have a secret snack while nobody was looking,” she said.
Ash waved his arms. “N-No, I—”
“And the proof is right here!” Mallow said as she grabbed Ash’s capri shorts and yanked them down, grabbing so hard that his underwear came down with them.
“M-Mallow! ” Ash shouted, before slamming his hands against his mouth, mortified at the thought that his shout could draw the others to see what was going on.
“Ah-ha, you s—” Mallow froze instantly. She was speechless as her face heated up, her eyes wide and mouth left agape mid-word.
Between Ash’s legs, affixed just above his two exposed, dangling, fleshy sacks, was a strange blue plastic multi-piece contraption—a ring curved around his testicles, a tube with an opening at the end encased his shaft, and a metal padlock with a pink heart emblazoned on it seemed to hold it all together.
“Mallow, I can explain!” Ash said with desperation as he hurriedly pulled his underwear up from his ankles. In his rush to pull up his capri pants, however, he tripped and fell back on his bum. “Oww!”
Finally regaining her composure, Mallow looked down at Ash, her face pink with blush and drops of sweat slinking down her cheeks. “Uh, Ash, what was that thing?” she asked. “And why did it have a lock on it?”
It was as if literal plumes of steam were rising from Ash’s beet-red face as he struggled to give an answer. “W-Well, y-y-you s-see, um, it’s not, um, well—”
“Did a doctor put it on you to help you, well—” Her face scrunched up. “—tinkle?”
“No, it’s not like that at all!”
“So, you put it on yourself?” she said with more exasperation.
“So why is there a plastic locked thingy on your—”
Ash leaped up and placed his hand over Mallow’s mouth. “Shhh! Everyone else will hear you,” he whispered.
Mallow pouted. “You were shouting, too, you know.”
“Yeah, well…” Ash trailed off.
“Ash,” Mallow said in a quieter voice, “seriously, what’s that thing all about? Why are you wearing it?”
“W-Well, b-because I have to wear it.”
Mallow cocked an eyebrow. “You have to wear it?”
“Uh-huh,” Ash replied sheepishly.
“Well, what is it and why the heck do you have to wear it?” she asked. “I’m not boy, but that thingy didn’t look comfortable to me.”
“Um, well, she said something about keeping me ‘safe’ and ‘protected’ while she was gone.”
“She? ” Mallow was taken aback. “Who is she? ”
“Oh, um, this really amazing girl I traveled with before coming here to Alola,” he replied.
“A girl? ”
Just then, the situation seemed to click in her mind. Gradually, her disturbed shock gave way to bemusement, and her mouth curved into a catlike grin. “Ohhh, I think I see now,” Mallow said slyly.
With that, Mallow gave a big, toothy smile and took off running back to the schoolhouse, barely able to contain her laughter.
Ash was mortified. “Wait, no! Mallow! Get back here! ” he screamed, before racing off after her, his pants still around his ankles. “You’re not going to tell everyone, are you? ”
Turning her head back, Mallow playfully stuck out her tongue and winked. “Never said I couldn’t!”
Across the ocean, in the thick woods of the Hoenn region, two young girls who had just met earlier that day were making their way toward the next town, the warm sun beating down on them from above.
“Wow! That's amazing!” the brunette girl said in wonderment, her blue eyes widening. “You traveled with Ash, too? What are the odds of that?”
“Yeah, well, I really do admire Ash a lot,” her honey-blonde-haired companion replied, chuckling. Then, she clasped her hands together and smiled wide, emanating pure bliss as her cheeks blushed pink. “In fact, I even built up the courage to kiss him right before I came here to Hoenn!”
“You what!? ” the brunette shrieked. “Kiss? With Ash!? Like, on the lips?! ”
The blonde winked and then reached into her front pocket. “Hehe, yeah! And even though Ash is far away, probably in another new region right now, I’ve always got this to remember him by, until we meet again.” With that, she pulled out a little brass key with a heart on the end of it.
“Aww, that's so cute!” The brunette’s eyes grew starry. “Is that the key to his heart, Serena?”
“Ha, well, you’re close,” she replied, chuckling. A big smile arched across her face, stretching from ear to ear, as she gazed longingly at the key in her hand. “Actually, you could definitely say that.”