JC: My first NovelShipping fanfic. It's not actually romantic in a sense, but there are some moments here that are quite cute. I don't know Paul that much, so I think he's going to be a bit OOC here. This is just a simple story about how they met and how they got closer. I hope you enjoy the story.

Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon, Misty, and Paul.

An Encounter with Something New

"I'm dead tired."

"Quit complaining."

Two young Pokémon trainers had been lost in Cerulean Cave for quite a while now, so long that both of them have lost count of hours. Since the time they found each other, they had been searching for a way out. Cerulean Cave is a cave located northwest of Cerulean City in the Kanto Region. The cave is home to a wide variety of high-level wild Pokémon. Only elite and renowned trainers may enter the place. The large underground complex of maze-like tunnels is famous for its mystery and longing.

They had been wandering around the dangerous cave where wild and vicious Pokémon were roaming around. As quiet as it was, there were most prone to battles and attacks.

The young lad scanned the place and searched for a safe spot where they can rest for the moment. He sported such a cold and serious expression. His gaze was as sharp as knives. His hair was in the shade of purple, straight and cropped to hang around his face, just above his shoulders. He wore a long-sleeved jacket with the colors dark-blue and black on it. His loose pants were blue in color and his pair of shoes was in the same color as his top.

Checking her pink PokéGear, the girl let out a frustrated sigh. "It's close to sunset. We've been stuck here for three hours. I don't know if I can take this any longer." She was tired—tired from walking, tired from staying alert, and tired from battling so many Pokémon they've encountered along the way.

"Do you always talk this much?" the lad said nonchalantly, prompting a glare from the young miss.

She shrugged as she folded her arms. "Of all the guys in the world, why did I have to get stuck with you?" She stuffed her PokéGear inside her 'Marill' bag.

The lad took a brief glance at her. Examining her from top to bottom, he could surely say she was his age. The girl had orange hair, making her a red head, which matches her fiery personality. Her hair hung just above her shoulders in a cropped style. A pink clam clip held a bit of her bangs on the left. She had aqua-blue eyes, quite a beautiful shade of color. Her outfit contained a yellow-strapless top with a golden zipper in the middle and a detachable blue hood, red khaki shorts, and white-red sneakers with white-leg warmers.

When she caught him staring, he calmly rolled his eyes away. Then he found a cave-like shade, a bit far from where they were standing. "Let's head over there. Just follow me and don't yap your mouth," he told her in usual plain voice.

Though normally she'd retort to such insult, the girl preferred to groan in reply. "Fine then." She was tired. She could really use some rest.

The lad, who had keen senses, knew the impending danger approaching them. Lurking above the huge boulders were powerful Pokémon, waiting for the right moment to attack.

It did not take long before they finally reached the place.

The girl immediately sat down, ready to lie down.

The boy placed his bag down on the ground before sitting beside her. Of course, there was some distance between them. With his knee folded, he rested his arm.

"Hey…I've been meaning to ask…" She fidgeted her bag on her lap. "What brought you to this dangerous place anyway? No…wait…I'm more curious in knowing how you were able to get in here. Cerulean Cave is only accessible to the high-class trainers of the Pokémon League, which includes the Gym Leaders and Elite Four."

"And why should I tell you anything?" he replied coldly. "You don't even know me."

She'd love to give him a punch on the head but she knew better. "Okay then… Why don't we introduce ourselves?" She gave him a bright smile. "My name's Misty. I'm from Cerulean City."

Reluctant to reply, the boy stared at her for a moment before telling his name. "The name's Paul." He then shifted his gaze to the rocky terrain outside the haven they were resting in.

"From what I've seen so far, I have to say that you're a pretty good trainer," Misty said, placing her bag on the ground, as she brought her knees closer to her chest. "But you treat your Pokémon so harshly."

"How I treat my Pokémon is none of your concern," Paul retorted. "It's my own way of training."

Misty nodded. "I know, but to treat your Pokémon like they're only tools is…" She trailed off and looked at the rocky landscape before them, surveying it as if looking for something. "I think there's something here. I can feel it somehow," she said. "Seems like we can't rest here."

Paul stared at her. It seemed like the girl had sharp senses as well. Judging from their previous battle earlier, Paul had to admit that her skills as a trainer were most impressive. She was no ordinary trainer. But he noticed something about her. The Pokémon she uses were all Water-type. She did say she was from Cerulean City and the gym there specializes in Water-types.

"It's just your imagination," he told her, although what she said was true.

"But I think there are Pokémon close by," Misty insisted. "We have to move or else we might get surrounded or something."

Paul sighed. "You said you were dead tired and now you want to walk again? I don't sense any danger for now, so just be quiet." He spoke in a completely controlled manner. When he noticed that she was going to insist again, he gripped her left ankle.

The girl winced in pain. "Hey!" She slapped his hand away. "What do you think you're doing?"

"You ankle's sprained, isn't it?" Paul said, trying to reach for her ankle. "You just pretended that nothing's wrong. Don't try to deny it."

Irritated, she grabbed his hand. "What's it to you?" she retorted.

Paul's icy expression stayed firm. "If only you stayed out of my way, you wouldn't be injured right now." He remembered it clearly how she pushed him away in order to take the Machoke's attack that was supposed to hit him. If it weren't for her Starmie's psychic powers, she wouldn't have been crushed against the rocks. He felt angry at himself. How could he have been careless during battle?

"Hey, if I knew you were such a jerk, I wouldn't have probably jumped in to take the hit," she said, turning her head away.

"You're one reckless girl," Paul said, thinking if he should thank her or not. She did deserve a show of gratitude from him, but he was never good with words of gratitude, especially to someone who was his age. Slowly pulling his hand from her grasp, he moved it toward her ankle. Carefully, he pulled the leg warmer up and saw how swollen her ankle was. "It's worse than I expected."

"This is nothing," Misty said. "I can still walk."

It was obvious that she was feeling pain. Her face might not show it, but Paul was very aware of injuries like that. "You're in no condition to walk." He took a first-aid kit from his bag, then took out some bandages, and started treating her ankle. "Just hold still."

"Hmmm…" A smile graced her lips. "So, you do have heart."

"Don't misunderstand," he said seriously. "I'm only doing this to pay you back." He secured the bandage around her ankle and pulled down the leg warmer.

Misty grimaced. "What a jerk!" But then she gave off a smile. "Even so…Thanks for the first-aid."

The two decided to spend the night in the cave. After they had quiet dinner and shared some stories to each other, though Paul was being cold and reluctant to talk to her, Misty went to sleep. Paul chose to stay up, for he was not exactly as tired as the red-head beside him. He was also watching out for wild Pokémon that might attack them.

He glanced down at Misty, who was in a peaceful slumber. When her mouth's not yapping and complaining, Misty looked very serene. Most of his life was all about getting stronger and surpassing others. He had detached himself and closed his heart to everyone. But her feistiness, the tranquil scenery she was making, was enough to make him feel just as calm. It was wonderful.

The stories she told him were rather interesting. He found out that she was quite the traveler. She had journeyed all over the Kanto Region, Orange Island Archipelago, and the Johto Region. She even paid a brief visit in the Hoenn Region to meet up with her old traveling companions. She was particularly fond of talking about this boy who stole her bike during their first meeting. She said that he wasn't very smart but he had a big heart. He was a good Pokémon Trainer with an honest dream.

Aside from the boy, she also talked about her three glamorous older sisters. She seemed annoyed with them, but it was evident that they're one happy family. He, too, had an older sibling—a brother to be exact—and his relationship with him weren't as close as the one she had with her older sisters.

Misty, a Water Pokémon expert from Cerulean City, and the youngest of four sisters, Paul reflected on that matter for a moment until it occurred to him. There was no doubt about it. Misty left out one important information about her. "She's the Cerulean Gym Leader," he muttered.

Despite being the Cerulean Gym Leader, Misty's dream to become the World's Greatest Water Pokémon Master. And if anything, she wished to battle the best Water-type trainers in the world. Misty had said that never wanted to be stuck in the city. She wanted to continue traveling with her friends, but a certain duty made her stay. Paul knew that it was because of her sisters and the gym. Though her reputation as a Gym Leader was impressive, it was admirable to how determined she was to make her dream come true.

For some reason, he felt drawn to her, as if he understood her. Aside from the fact that they're both the youngest of the family, they both have something they want to prove to their siblings. However, their methods were different. She treated Pokémon as her friends, while he treated them more as tools. Often, he would abandon and release Pokémon that are deemed useless or weak.

But she had a Psyduck once, a stupid one that can't even swim. Though it annoyed her to no end, Misty never once thought of throwing it away. She formed a special bond with that Psyduck. Now it was a Golduck. And from what he'd seen earlier, her Golduck was a psychic powerhouse. She proved to him that even the weakest and dumbest of Pokémon can bloom beautifully.

It made him feel that his training ways was worthless.

Suddenly, he heard a crackling sound of rocks, somewhere near. His intuition told him that there was something approaching them. Making sure not to wake Misty up, Paul grabbed his Poké Balls and stood up from the place where they were hiding. He scanned the area in search of the wild Pokémon. Then he heard a groan.

In an instant, it appeared, hovering on top of one huge boulder. Paul looked up. There were five Kadabra, Psychic-type Pokémon.

Paul pulled out a Poké Ball. "Guess there's no other choice," he muttered.

He had to defeat the Kadabra. He had to protect Misty no matter what.

Misty gasped as she jerked her eyes open. Sitting up, she felt her heart pounding fast against her chest. She had a dream, a nightmare, but she couldn't remember clearly what it was about. She breathed in deeply and exhaled to calm herself down. When she lied down again, she saw a pair of legs placed closely to hers. She looked up and saw Paul's face resting near hers. He was sleeping. He noticed how exhausted he looked. There were some bruises and cuts on his face and neck.

She clamped her mouth in dismay. "Paul…You're hurt…" She touched his face, smoothing her thumb across his cheek. "It must have been one intense battle, huh? Why didn't you wake me up? I could've helped you."

He opened his dark eyes slowly.

Misty gasped. "Paul!" She felt a pang of relief and guilt at the same time. "You fended some wild Pokémon, didn't you? Why didn't you wake me up? If it were the two of us, then you wouldn't be this badly hurt." She noticed the apparent bruises and cuts on his arms and body. His clothes were in a complete mess.

"I didn't need your help. As you can see, I'm still alive," Paul replied coolly, though the wounds stung.

She looked at him incredulously, his dark eyes meeting concerned aqua-blue orbs. "You're an idiot. Do you know that?"

"Yeah…Whatever…" He sat up, desperately maintaining his cold façade, and faced the girl with an arrogant smirk. "How amusing… To think that you're actually worried about me."

Misty flushed furiously. "Don't flatter yourself, you big jerk! I wasn't worried about you!" She folded her arms in front of her chest, looking very irritated. "I just don't like seeing people getting hurt."

"You should be happy that I won the battle," Paul promptly said. "You'd probably be seriously injured if I didn't beat the crap out of those Kadabra."

"But you got hurt instead!"

"This is nothing."

Misty grimaced. Anger was slowly building up inside her. "It's not nothing! You didn't have to fight alone!"

He stared at her, with a heated expression. "I always fight alone. I don't need anybody's support. I've realized a long time ago that the only person you can depend on is yourself. If I start depending on other's help, then it will only make me weak."

"From the very start, I got the impression that you were a detached and lonely individual… I guess I was right." Misty stood up from her spot and set her sights on the landscape before them. The bonfire paled in comparison to the eerie darkness of the cave. "Depending on other's doesn't make one person weak. I know it's good to be independent, but it doesn't hurt to ask help from others either."

"That's a load of rubbish," Paul retorted, though a part of him wanted to agree with her. "I'm going to sleep. You stay on guard this time. Got it?" He lay down on the cold, hard ground, resting his head on his bag as a pillow.

Misty fists trembled in anger. "I so want to hit him right now," she muttered under her breath. "He's so…so…Ugh! Why should I care? This guy's nothing but a jerk!"

Misty wondered if Paul was all right. It's been two days since the incident at Cerulean Cave. They went their separate ways the moment they got out. Misty suggested that they should head to the hospital, but Paul said he didn't need treatment and walked off without even saying goodbye or thanks. Even though she thought him as the most annoying guy in the world, she can't help feeling sad for him. And for two days straight, all she dreamt about was Paul, much to her utter dismay.

She spent that morning in her bed, earphones in her ear as she talked to a friend on the Poké Gear. She let the guy talk about reports, Pokémon, status and other stuff like that. By the end of the conversation, he thanked Misty for reports she sent to him yesterday and hung up.

A beautiful blonde girl in her early twenties entered her room, looking all bubbly. Her waist-length golden hair was soft and wavy. Her eyes were in a beautiful shade of blue. She wore a pink flower clip on her hair, which goes with her strapless white skirt-dress with hints of pink hues.

The girl was Daisy, Misty's eldest sister.

The blonde greeted the young one very enthusiastically. "Hey there, baby sister! What are you doing being cooped up in your room?" She sat down on the bed and tugged Misty's arm. "It's a beautiful day, perfect for going on a date with a cute boy." She winked a playful eye at Misty.

Misty blinked in confusion. "What?"

"Like, fix yourself up, Misty! You have to look totally perfect for you date!" Daisy stood up, pulling Misty out of bed. "A super cool boy just came in a while ago and he's looking for you. He's asking you to go out with him."

She shook her head this time. "I don't know what you're talking about. Who's the boy?"

Daisy giggled. "You are so cute, playing dumb like that. He told me that you know him." She dragged Misty to her bathroom and pushed her inside. "Now hurry up, baby sister. It's so not lady-like to keep a cute boy waiting." With that, she closed the bathroom door.

Misty, who completely had no idea what was going on, stared at the door in silence for a moment. "Just what the heck…?" She grumbled and looked at the shower. "As curious and annoyed as I am now, I should really fix myself up first."

Misty walked out of her room, looking new and fresh, though she was not excited to meet the 'cute' boy Daisy was talking about. She thought it could be a challenger, so she donned herself in clothes suited for a Gym Battle. Her outfit consisted of a yellow midriff-top with two white spaghetti straps on each side, a pink heart pin with white border located on her upper left chest part, and a white mini-skirt with a pink belt bag around her waist. She also wore white-lilac sneakers.

She headed down to the lobby, thinking and hoping the boy was a challenger instead of a likely admirer. And the moment she saw the boy, her jaw almost dropped down to the floor. "What are you doing here?" she uttered, pointing straight at the boy.

The boy shook his head. "You're voice is going to make my ears bleed," he said nonchalantly.

"You're annoying as usual, Paul," Misty said, regaining composure, as she crossed her arms. "I thought we were never going to see each other again and now here you are." She could see that he was wearing a blue jacket with a white hood and black cargo pants. Damn, Daisy was right about him, Misty wailed in her head. Paul did look pretty cool. "So... Are you here for a Gym Battle?"

Paul leaned back on the counter, keeping his gaze low. "You never told me that you were a Gym Leader, but I figured it out before we got out of that cave," he said. "And to answer your question…That's a no. I already won a badge from this gym, long before you stepped up as Gym Leader."

Misty sighed. "Let me guess… My sisters just gave you the badge, right?" Her older sisters were actually decent trainers, but they were just too lazy to battle. They'd rather focus on their careers as actress/models than being Gym Leaders.

"I actually battled against one of your sisters and won," Paul replied. "It was the blonde one. She was really serious in our battle. Truth be told, I actually had a hard time battling underwater."

"That's a surprise… To think that Daisy would actually give you a run for your money," Misty said, smiling proudly. "

"I don't just admit this to anyone, so you better not spread this around," he said, looking straight into her eye.

"Hey, I'm not the type to spread gossips, you know," Misty said.

Paul stared at her for a while before asking, "How's your ankle?"

"It's fine now. How about your wounds?"

"I told you it was nothing."

"Quit acting so tough all the time."

"I'm not."

Misty sighed in frustration. "Fine… Okay, then tell me, if you're not here for a Gym Battle—" She was then cut off by him.

"I came here to challenge you as a fellow Pokémon Trainer and not as the Leader of this Gym," he said, straightening up, as he held up a Poké Ball before her. "You're famous for being the youngest trainer to ever acquire the status of Gym Leader in the Kanto Region. However, I don't recognize you just yet."

"We've been in so many battles in that cave and still you don't acknowledge me?" She felt her temper rising. "All right! I accept your challenge, Paul!"

Paul gave off his usual arrogant smirk, which never failed to annoy her. "Expect no chivalry here. I will crush you and your Pokémon."

Misty took out a Poké Ball as she placed her other hand on her waist. "It wouldn't be any fun if you hold back. Just wait and see what I can really do."

The day passed, and Misty was rather satisfied how it went. She had her battle with Paul that ended in a tie, and they actually went out for dinner. He told him that he was going back to Sinnoh for the Pokémon League competition, and somehow she felt sad about it. Believe it or not, she wanted to spend more time with him. Sure, Paul was indifferent and can be a big jerk sometimes, but after getting to know him a little better, she found him to be quite comfortable to be with. And he was a talented trainer. She was surprised to see him treat his Pokémon a bit better in their battle. The guy really had a heart.

And before saying goodbye to each other, Paul shared his dream to Misty. The latter was surprised by this but was quite happy.

"You're already strong yet you still aim higher," Misty said, patting his shoulders. "I admire your determination. Never lose sight of your dream, Paul, and good luck! You'll really need it." She winked an eye.

"I'm not going to lose," Paul said, offering her a smile this time, not a smirk. "And next time…I'll make sure I'll win against you."

"Don't bet on it," Misty said confidently with a wink.

He was out of the city early morning the next day. Taking one more look at Cerulean City, he felt like he was going to miss the red-head. Never in his life had he met a girl with so much fire inside of her. She was a respectable trainer—one that's worth his time and one he's willing to consider as a friend. His battle with her helped him gain new experience and develop better strategies for the upcoming Pokémon Competition he'll be entering in the Sinnoh Region.

But he can't return to Sinnoh just yet. He wanted to do more training, so he decided to go to Seafoam Islands three days later.

Inside the caves, he battled with different kinds of Water and Ice-type Pokémon and because of that, he can't stop thinking about Misty.

As he took a break from his training, a wild Golduck appeared and attacked him with its Psychic. Paul was thrown like a piece of thrash and landed on the jagged ground. Groaning, he stood up and took out a Poké Ball. But before he could call out his Pokémon, someone unleashed his/hers first. A Starmie appeared in a burst of light and tackled the Golduck.

When the Golduck tried to retaliate, the Starmie's trainer yelled out the command. "Starmie, use Thunderbolt!" It was a girl's voice—one that was very familiar to him.

The Starmie sent out bolts of electricity from its body and shocked the duck Pokémon. Golduck was weak against Electric attacks, so the Thunderbolt made it flee in fear.

Paul let out a silent sigh as he leaned back on a huge rock.

"And now we're even," the Starmie's trainer said as she recalled her Pokémon.

With a cold expression, he looked up at the orange-haired trainer. "What the hell are you doing here?" he asked in his usual tone.

Placing her hands on her waist, Misty leaned a little forward. "A thank you would be nice, you know!" She straightened up and approached him. "You protected me last time, so I just returned the favor. Now hurry up and thank me," she demanded.

Paul merely shrugged.

"Geez, no sense of gratitude at all," Misty said, crossing her arms. "Anyway… To answer your question a while ago… I came to this place to train, since this is a great place to train my Pokémon."

Thinking how they thought alike, Paul sat down and placed his back on the ground. "How about the Gym?" he questioned.

"Daisy's taking care of it right now," Misty replied, taking a seat beside him.

Their close distance was making him rather comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. He wasn't sure why but his heart was pounding quite fast.

"So… When are you heading back to Sinnoh?"

"I'm heading back tomorrow," he made a brief reply.

"Hmm… Are you going to visit Kanto again?"

The feeling of wanting to see her everywhere surfaced yet again. "If I have the time…" The last three days were lonely for him. Though he was used to being alone, he wanted her company. He had to admit that seeing her today made him feel happy. "I'd like to challenge the Elite Four of Kanto once I'm done in Sinnoh."

Misty smiled. "If that's the case, then we're definitely rivals. I'm planning on taking on the Elite Four too." She slightly raised her fists to shoulder level and put on a determined face. "That's why I'm going to train hard every day."

Her confidence, her strength of mind, and her skills—all that appealed to him—and he felt more motivated to become stronger as a trainer and as a person. Without a warning, he asked her, "If given the chance, would you like to travel with me?" He was surprised himself. Those words just came out freely, even when his expression was so serious.

The girl stared him for a while before she giggled. "I think…I would…" she said with a soft sigh. "I think I'd like that."

Paul felt his heart skipping a beat. He didn't think that she would actually agree to go with him. She did tell him before that she wished to travel again. But to travel with him was a whole different story. Somehow he would really want that to happen. "After I'm done with Sinnoh, I'll go back to Cerulean," he said, hiding his pleased feeling under his icy mask.

Misty was a little surprised to hear that coming from him. "Then it's settled," she said, putting on a smile again. "I'll wait for you back in Cerulean, okay?"

A small smile graced Paul's lips as he faced her. "I'm not an ideal traveling partner, so don't expect me to be so lenient with you," he said.

"Hey, I can handle anything, you know," she said, giggling, as she lightly punched his arm.

A bond is formed when two people meet. A relationship then surfaces when they learn more about each other. As the relationship grows closer and closer, feelings are bound to change. For Paul, he predicted that his unwavering feelings from before will definitely transform into something new. With that in mind, he was undeniably keyed up to finish everything in Sinnoh.

End of Story

JC: See? No romantic moments or fluff, but it heavily implies on the pair. I'm not sure if I'm up for making a NovelShipping Chaptered Fic since I'm experience writer's block lately. I'm surprised I posted a NovelShipping fic before an EgoShipping one. That's all for this story. I really hope you enjoyed reading. Please tell me what you think by leaving a review. FLAMES are not welcomed.