Ash was beginning to become weary of Paul's intentions. Yes it could have been pure coincidence that Paul always ended up at every town's gym, the same time as he, Dawn, and Brock. He thought long and hard about the reasons why Paul would be purposely setting his route in sync with the trio's. It also bothered him greatly that during the last battle, Paul had the nerve to actually take pictures! Ash's battles were not some sort of side show attraction! They were intense and meaningful...well, to Ash anyways. Only one "logical" reason popped into the raven haired boy's mind. He laughed wickedly to himself, anticipating his gym battle the next day.
- - - -
"Are you ready for your gym battle Ash?" Dawn asked, keeping her stride up to walk in-between Ash and Brock. After receiving no reply, Dawn gently elbowed Ash in the side.
"What? Oh! Yeah, I'm ready. Hey, do you guys think Paul will be here?" Ash asked, his eyes darting from place to place in search for the boy in questioning.
"Probably. It's as if Mew itself has cursed us with Paul's constant presence." Brock muttered, scuffing his feet on the ground as he walked.
"Hopefully he got lost in the forest, and when he tried to use his Pokemon to help him, they all revolted against him and ran him out of this region." Dawn added, her eyes burning with rage. Ash laughed, as Brock continued letting his mind wander to a certain nurse and law enforcer.
"Well personally, I would be delighted if he were to show up." Ash said a little too eagerly. This earned him a grossed out stare from Dawn. "What?" Ash asked as he opened the doors to the gym.
Still in shock over Ash's sudden interest in Paul, Dawn failed to notice a purple haired teen.
"Ooff!" Dawn exclaimed as her chest slammed into Paul's.
"Oh, it's just you." Dawn stated, not even the littlest bit concerned with her current spacing issue. Because of their height difference, Dawn was forced to look up, as Paul stared back down at her.
"Watch where you're going, pesky girl." Paul said, still not moving from the current position the two were in.
"I do have a name you know! It's Dawn! D-A-W-N! How many times do I need to tell you that?!" Dawn spat, her fists clenching by her and Paul's side. Her chested heaved, as her lungs tried to regain oxygen. It wasn't until she felt Paul's shirt rubbing against her breast, that she noticed their closeness.
Blushing slightly, Dawn pushed away a pink faced Paul. It was moments like this Paul thanked Mew he was as heartless as he was. It made hiding his emotions a lot easier. He brushed off his shoulders, and turned to face Ash.
"Well, you're already too late Ass Ketchup. I've already gotten my badge." Paul said, as he flashed his newly acquired prize.
"It's A-SH Ketch-UM, and I haven't even battled yet. I have just as much of a chance of winning, as you did." Ash retorted, crossing his arms and sticking his tongue out at Paul. Brock and Dawn just rolled their eyes.
"Whatever. I might as well stay and watch you get your ass handed to you." Paul said, beginning to follow the trio into the battle arena. He was stopped by Ash's hand pushing him back.
"No. Not this time." Ash said, gaining him questioning stares from Brock, Dawn, and even Paul.
"Why the hell not?! It's a free world!" Paul objected, his voice rising to a slightly higher tone. Noticing the change, Paul coughed quickly hoping no one noticed.
Dawn was quick enough to catch it though. She could've sworn she saw a faint blush appear on Paul's nicely tanned cheeks. Unconsciously, Dawn began studying the small features present in the young man. His skin was perfect, and looked so smooth. She fought the strange urge to just walk up to him and feel his face, as she questioned her sudden hormonal shift. Paul's jacket looked shorter than it used to be, obviously showing his growth in the two years Dawn had known him.
Continuing her analyzation, Dawn unknowingly let her gaze fall a little bit too south. It only took her mind a minute to realize what exactly she was looking at. Her face began to heat up at an alarming rate, as she quickly tore her eyes off of Paul's lower area. Mentally, she scolded herself for her actions and prayed no one noticed her. Unfortunately, the victim of her wandering eyes was the only one to catch her in the act.
As Ash continued to blabber on about Paul's previous actions, Paul tried not to blush at the attention Dawn was suddenly giving him. Right as he was about to steal a glance at Dawn, something Ash said caught Paul's attention.
"...And then you have the nerve to stalk me, and take pictures of my battles!" Ash finally finished ranting. Paul's body tensed at the mention of a so-called photo, but no the less he tried to keep his cool.
"I have no idea what you are talking about." Paul said cooly, as he ran his hand through his hair.
"You know exactly what I am talking about! I know exactly what you are trying to pull, and the reason you always end up where we are!" Ash shouted, pointing an accusing finger at Paul.
Shit! Paul thought. He felt his palms begin to sweat, leading him to shove his hands in his pockets to avoid Ash noticing. He made sure he kept eye contact with Ash, warning him not to mess with him.
"You sir, are cheating!" Ash said. Paul simply sweat-dropped. "You are watching my battles to study my techniques, and are taking photos to memorize my Pokemon's moves." Paul tried so hard not to punch Ash in the face for wasting his time.
"First off, I don't give a flying Rattata's ass about you or your Pokemon. Second, it is not 'cheating' if you watch another trainer's battles." Paul informed the boy standing in front of him. Brock shook his head, and made his way into the stadium to wait. Dawn was too preoccupied trying not to look at Paul, that she barely noticed the two rivals having an argument anymore. Ash's face became redder than Charizard's flame.
"Oh...um, well then...I'm just going to go to my battle now, so...yeah." Ash said uncomfortably, while finally entering the arena. Paul let his body relax, but soon tightened back up as Ash poked his head back out the door. "But, no more taking pictures of my Pokemon. It's creepy."
With Ash finally leaving to battle, Paul was left alone with a very flummoxed Dawn. Knowing that he was the one who caused Dawn so much discomfort, he realized he could not let this moment slip by. He liked this feeling of power too much. Dawn had her head tilted down, finding the floor very interesting.
"Aren't you going to go watch your moron of a friend loose?" Paul inquired, standing only a few inches away from the blue haired girl.
"He's not a moron...well, he is...but he's not going to loose." Dawn replied, lifting her head up unaware of Paul's proximity.
In an almost identical position as before, the two young adults stood completely still, both lost in each other's eyes.
"You sure about that?" Paul asked in a calm and collected tone. "I'm pretty sure he's going to suck."
"If you think he's so bad, then why did you take pictures of his battle?" Dawn was truly curious. She had noticed long before that the said photo was sticking slightly out of Paul's jacket pocket.
"I still don't have the faintest idea of what you're talking about." Paul said, trying to sound convincing.
"Yes you do. The photo is right there in your pocket." Dawn stated, reaching for the item. But before she had a chance to touch it, Paul grabbed her wrist.
"Whatever is in my pocket is none of your damn business, Dawn." Paul informed her harshly. Dawn jumped a little at the use of her actual name. No "pesky girl" or "annoying twit", or any other form of insult. It sounded almost foreign coming out of Paul's mouth, but Dawn could not deny she liked her name a lot better when he said it than anyone else.
"Just let me look at the photo." Dawn demanded.
"I told you, no."
"I'm not going to laugh at your bad photography skills. I just want to look." Dawn said, slowly making her way closer into Paul. Nervously, with every step Dawn took forward, Paul took one step back.
"I said, no"
"And I said, yes." There was no where left for Paul to run. Dawn had him pinned awkwardly to the wall, in a less than appropriate way. Dawn paid no mind to their situation, as she stuck her hand in Paul's jacket pocket, and took his photograph.
"Now let's just see what we've got-" Dawn stopped her sentence as she looked down at the picture in her hands. Instead of a picture of Pikachu in action, her eyes met...her eyes! The picture was of her, in her cheerleading outfit, cheering Ash on. Dawn's jaw almost dropped to the ground.
"Why did you take this?" Dawn asked as she stared violently into Paul's eyes.
"It's not mine." Was all Paul could create as an excuse.
"Stop shitting me. Why the hell do you have this?" Dawn asked coldly. Paul was surprised at her choice of words, not really thinking she had it in her to cuss.
"I-uh-um-I-" For the first time in his life, Paul was at a loss of words.
"Do you, like...like me or something?" Dawn asked, taking a step closer to him. Again, Paul found himself pinned up against the wall and at a loss. He had no idea what was happening to him. Paul was...well, Paul. He wasn't supposed to be speechless, let alone at the mercy of someone else. He had no idea what to do. Pokemon training did not prepare him for this!
"I-um-I-well you see I-um-ah screw it!" He couldn't take it anymore. Before Dawn had a chance to ask what the hell he was talking about, she felt a sensation she had never felt before.
Her eyes sprang open, as she felt Paul's lips crash into hers. Out of shock, Dawn dropped the photo of herself onto the ground.
Paul didn't know what came over him. It just felt...right, like he was supposed to kiss her. Her lips tasted like strawberries, and they were softer than he could have even imagined. He began to become nervous when his kiss was not returned. Out of instinct, he pulled back.
"I'm sorry." He said, something Paul never had said before. Dawn just continued to stand there, her mind still trying to process what the hell just happened.
"I know it was wrong of me, but damn it. You could at least say somethi-" Paul's sentence was never finished. He found himself mumbling into Dawn's lips, a less than pleasant thing.
Paul pulled Dawn in closer to his body, their chests pushed up against each other. Dawn snaked her arms around his neck, pulling his lips closer to her. After several breathless minutes, they finally separated.
"Um, I don't really know what to-"
"Now tell me why you took that picture." Dawn said, completely cutting Paul off.
"Because" Paul began shyly. "Your annoyingness became something I couldn't live without."
"Wow, you really know how to make a girl feel special." Dawn said sarcastically.
"Sorry, that didn't come out right. I mean, something about you...your naiveness, innocence, it felt...new to me. And I felt like I was missing out on spending time with you and seeing you. I didn't want to miss anything. So that's why I've been following you." Dawn pondered Paul's words for a moment.
"So, you've been...stalking me?"
"Well, legally...I guess. But don't tell Ash, he might be disappointed I really wasn't stalking him, such a dumb-ass." Dawn glared at him. "What?! Just because we kissed doesn't mean I'm going to change any." Dawn just laughed, as Paul pulled her into him once more.
"Well, I guess I'll just have to kiss the cold heartedness out of you." She said, as her lips were once again occupied.