Last chapter. Ever. Oh my. Gonna go sit in the corner and cry now.
A Year Later...
"Professor? Should Bulbasaur be sleeping right now?"
"Yes, Ash has just sent him back after a battle, apparently he didn't do too well against the Infernape Ash put him up against."
Paul muttered a quiet 'idiot' under his voice as he reached out and nudged the pokemon, concern laced through his being. He glanced up quickly to see if Professor Oak was okay with him touching the pokemon before all out grabbing Bulbasaur and lifting him up into his arms, smiling as he nuzzled into his chest.
"He's pretty adorable," he commented as he grinned at the Professor who just shook his head and smiled before turning to continue tending to the other pokemon littered around the hill. Paul glanced around too, his lips pursed as he tried to find a place to put Bulbasaur down where he'd be comfortable and with a small "aha!" he jogged over to a small pile of hay and nestled Bulbasaur into it.
He grinned as the pokemon whined at the lack of contact when he pulled away.
"Sssh buddy, you're alright," he soothed before standing up and joining Professor Oak again, grinning up at the older man as he reached out and ruffled Paul's hair.
"Ready for a break? I think Weavile and Froslass are getting annoyed at the lack of contact," the Professor chuckled, smiling back kindly before leading Paul over to a small set of table and chairs that were set out. Perched up on the table waiting for them were the mentioned pokemon and as soon as he'd sat down Weavile scrambled into his lap and Froslass nudged against his hand wanting a pat. He smiled softly at his pokemon, trying not to look at the Professor as he watched them.
They lapsed into silence, the only sound being the clinking of tea cups as Professor Oak poured them some and the occasional growl or acknowledgement of a passing pokemon. It really was like some sort of community here in Professor Oak's lab, a community of pokemon. Paul even smiled when he saw the two Ralts and Ash's Bayleef settle down beside Bulbasaur, eye them all in a challenging way and Bayleef looked like she was trying to threaten a curious Rhydon.
"You know, I don't understand why you don't catch some more pokemon Paul. It's clear you love them, and the way you treat Weavile and Froslass is a big show of how much of a wonderful trainer you are."
His simple observation left Paul nervous, flinching slightly in his seat as the words sunk in before he tore his eyes away from the pokemon and all but glared at the ground.
"You should know Professor, I'm a terrible trainer. I killed my other pokemon," he mumbled out, automatically brushing his fingers over his bracelet and clutching his necklace. "I don't think I'm worthy of anymore."
"Nonsense. You're brilliant Paul, a worthy trainer. Why else have Weavile and Froslass stayed around so long?" Professor Oak gave him a kind smile, one that made Paul feel warm on the inside. "It's about time you considered reliving some form of your life Paul. You've been away from everyone for too long and you've separated yourself from your… from your life! I know you're mourning, and I know that you are trying to solve things in your head, find yourself, but running away and pushing things to the side never help."
Paul just remained quiet, allowing the words to sink in. He respected Professor Oak, the man was almost a grandfather to him, and he slowly smiled again, nodding in his direction.
"I thought of maybe going back to Reggie, helping him with caring for pokemon," he started after a while, shooting a glance over at the Professor and holding back a blush at the sudden proud grin that was on the older mans face. "I mean, I promised myself that I'd go see him after a year and I'm not ready for training yet. But maybe looking after pokemon I can let go, that I don't have full responsibility over, might be good."
"Yeah, baby steps."
"Do you think you'll consider seeing the others again? Soon? I know that Gary and Drew miss you, Gary talks about you a lot when he visits." Professor Oak sighed and turned away to look back out at the pokemon. "I mean, you should stop punishing the others in the process of punishing yourself."
"What makes you think I'm punishing myself?"
"Please Paul, you all but reek of guilt and regret. Its obvious that you still blame yourself, and I don't doubt that you will for a long time." Professor Oak stood up and smiled, his eyes gentle and kind. "And there is no problem with that, its natural. One day you'll wake up and realise it isn't, but that might be a long long time away. But you can't keep punishing the others."
Paul just looked at him with a look of both discomfort and alarm, clearly shocked at what he'd said. Professor Oak merely smiled in his direction and sipped his tea, closing his eyes as he swallowed. Paul frowned at him, a little bit curious as to what was going through his head and was about to ask, god knows why, he just wanted the silence stretching between them to be over.
"I'd prepare myself Paul, you're about to find out just why ignoring your friends isn't good."
He wasn't able to answer before a large ball of green slammed into him, sending him flying out of the chair as they hit the ground. His chest instantly felt like it was caving in, the weight of the person on top of him crushing his torso and it wasn't until his head stopped buzzing from pain after slamming it against the ground did he realise the person on top was sobbing his name over and over in a familiar voice.
"D-Drew?" he stuttered, awkwardly reaching out the arm that wasn't pinned to push him back a bit and was rewarded by a pair of bloodshot, tear-filled green eyes staring back at him.
"Paul! Paul, oh god! Where have you… where have you been! I've… we've been so worried and-"
He suddenly cut himself off and surprised Paul as he threw a punch at the other, smashing him right in the cheekbone before he was standing up and glaring down at Paul.
"You insufferable asshole!" he screamed, and Paul had to blink many times to try get his eyesight back from where Drew's knuckle had clipped his eyeball. "How fucking dare you just leave and not tell us where you went! Do you have any idea how worried I was? Do you? I fucking cried for you Paul! I was terrified you'd gone off to kill yourself and weren't ever coming back! Fuck you!"
"Drew, stop it."
Both Drew and Paul turned their attention to the two Oaks, Professor and Gary as they stood side by side, both having spoken at the same time and Gary moved forward to put a hand on Drew's shoulder before reaching around to pull Paul to his feet. He offered his friend a small forced smile as he checked him over briefly, his eyes running over him and lingering on the bruise already forming.
"I'd hit you too, but I think Drew's already done a pretty good job," Gary joked before he stepped forward and hugged Paul, surprising the purple haired boy by burying his face in his shoulder. "Fuck Paul, where the hell did you go."
"Don't try and wheedle your way out of this," Drew said as he also stepped forward again and, being shorter than the other two, wriggled his way in between their chests, his cheeks pressed against them both. Paul couldn't stop the affectionate smile appearing on his face before he was hugging them tightly, the overwhelming need to just touch them so extreme, the realisation of how much he'd actually missed this a stunning slap to the face.
"I'm so sorry," he whispered into Drew's hair, feeling Gary's cheek beside his and ear right by his nose. He felt them both stiffen slightly before Gary nodded and Drew's arms tightened around them.
"Don't think I'm forgiving you anytime soon," Drew mumbled as they pulled back and he gently reached up to cup Paul's cheek, his watery eyes searching Paul's before he leant in and kissed the already forming bruise. "I refuse to be sorry about that, but I have to admit I didn't expect it to be that bad."
Paul laughed and dragged his cousin into a one armed hug. "Always underestimate yourself don't you? Idiot."
Gary smiled at them fondly, his arms crossing over his chest. Drew looked up at him, his eyes wide and a happy smile taking over his face before he wandered over to sink into Gary's embrace, and for a brief moment Paul saw something in the sudden almost desperate touch that he vaguely recognised as… reconciliation.
Confusion swept over him, and he opened his mouth just as a new voice brushed over the clearing they were standing in.
Instantly he froze, his body trembling as he slowly turned to see none other than Dawn standing there, her arms buried in the pockets of a familiar red coat, her face one of indifference but Paul could see the small spark of acknowledgement in her eyes as she appraised him. His mouth opened, then snapped shut before suddenly he was taking a step forward and trying to force words out.
He glanced briefly at Gary, wondering with desperate eyes if the other could help him, try and voice the words he longed to speak. He saw Drew bristle, stepping forward with his eyes locked on Dawn but Gary was suddenly reaching out and grabbing his hand, tugging him back as if to reality.
"We're gonna go back up to the house," Gary began, his arm going up and sliding around Drew's shoulders, pulling him away as he flicked a small smile in Paul's direction, some sort of encouragement. "We're not as important right now."
He began to walk off with his significant other, already murmuring things under his breath to calm the other down. But he was yanked back by a sudden hand on his wrist and soon both Gary and Paul were staring at each other, their eyes secured in a tight lock.
"You are important Gary, always." And Gary's eyes teared up at hearing that from his friend, the one he'd missed for so long. Paul himself had the urge to step forward and hug the other again but Gary just nodded his head and slid his hand down to squeeze Paul's before walking away, back up the hill in a tired and almost defeated stagger.
"That was nice of you."
He slowly turned back to look at her, appraising her himself. She looked the same, not that a year could change one much, but he saw the weariness in her stance, he could see her hands balled into fists as they stretched the material of the pockets they were situated in. He resisted the urge to gnaw on his lip, his gaze focused completely on her. Vaguely, in the back of his head, he wondered where Weavile, Froslass and Professor Oak had gone, but he shrugged them off as he waited patiently for Dawn to speak again.
"They almost broke up you know," she suddenly said, tearing her own gaze from him to look up at the hill at the retreating figures. "Your disappearance almost tore them apart. Drew was a mess, he blamed it on himself for a long time. And Gary just couldn't pull him out of it, it just wore him down." Her eyes were hard as she glared at him. "He had a breakdown right in front of us. Drew couldn't handle it and broke even more. It was horrible. They then yelled and blamed each other and refused to acknowledge the other existed for weeks afterwards." She smiled sadly, her hands coming out to push her hair behind her ears, something Paul's fingers itched to do themselves. "This is the first time they've actually touched each other in more than just a hand on the shoulder in months, too many months to count."
"Why are you here?"
She looked stunned, and he admit he felt like shit. There she was explaining that he had almost destroyed his cousin and friend, and the only thing on his mind was why they were there?
"Why are we here? Because Professor Oak couldn't take it anymore," she hissed, her hands fists again as she glared at him, but there was no true anger Paul noted. "He couldn't take seeing his grandson fall apart. He called us and told us you were here, and we couldn't have stopped Gary and Drew if we tried. So we came, Ash, Brock and Misty too. They're at Ash's mothers." Her gaze softened as she looked away before glancing back up, eyes tarrying on his bruised cheek before meeting his own eyes.
Paul let out a breath as if punched when her soulful blue eyes met his, filled with so many emotions ranging from anger to… understanding that made his head hurt trying to keep up.
"They missed you enough that it broke them."
Paul winced at the bitterness he heard in her voice, a small humorless smile playing on his lips before he turned to look at Dawn, flinching slightly at the harsh glare sent his way. A million thoughts ran through his mind, thousands of excuses, hundreds of explanations, and only one single torrent of feelings as they coursed over him and flooded his mind. He opened his mouth, one of the many thoughts about to tumble out, but he was suddenly cut off as she stepped forward and placed a small hand, he'd never realised how small they were, on his chest, her fingers splaying out before tightening into an almost claw.
"I missed you."
And like that they were tightly embracing, Dawn's head coming to rest by her hand whilst her other arm looped around Paul's waist as his own came up to bury in her hair and wrap around her hips. He drew her close, closing his eyes and burying his nose in her hair, breathing in the wonderful strawberry scent she was so fond of, enjoying the softness as it tickled his face, biting back small tears as he thought how wonderful, just wonderful it was to have her back in his arms despite the anger she must feel towards him.
"I'm sorry Dawn," he whispered, his body trembling once before he choked out the words again. "I am so sor-"
"Don't." She drew back, looking up at him with a harsh yet slightly compassionate look. "Don't say sorry. You did what you had to do. I didn't understand for a while, a long while and I was so mad at you Paul, but I'm not now."
"I left you, you had a reason to hate me. I left you after all of that crap and-"
"I talked to my mother," she interrupted again, reaching up to cup his mouth and felt it instantly shut behind her hand. "She told me what you said when she saw you. I know you told her not to tell anyone, but she snapped after six months. Its a long time to keep a secret around a daughter who's mourning the person she knew naught about his whereabouts." She felt his mouth open again but she shook her head, tightening her grip. "It made sense I guess, what she told me. How you seemed so lost and alone. She told me about what she said to you, about when we first meet again after so many years. And then Reggie told me more." She paused and smiled at him, her lips curving up gracefully. "I did recognize you when we met again. I recognized you as Paul Shinji Hayden-Lopez, but I didn't know who you were. We never did stay much in contact, you knew me but I didn't know you, and to see you as someone else who wasn't a sweet innocent little boy who was determined to marry me was… was shocking. I didn't know what to say, what to do, I didn't know if you even knew who I was. Especially when you began to call me Troublesome."
Dawn stopped, seeing the way Paul's eyes slid shut and his hands began to fall from her lower back as his shoulders slumped. He was beating himself up again, she knew it. Instantly she leaned in and hugged him, her own eyes closing as she squeezed him tight.
"I still want to marry you, you know."
He froze, she smiled.
Paul knew what she was asking, knew what she wanted to know. He refused to let go of her as he pulled back and looked down at her with the most vulnerable expression before he was opening his mouth and words were tumbling out. He told her everything, how he came to Kanto thinking it was far away enough. How he moved to the Johto and Hoenn every time he became aware of them being in the same region. He told her of Weavile and Froslass, their dedication to him and the way they were more closer now than before. He showed her the jewelry he wore, explained the significance and he watched with bated breath as she lightly kissed the necklace and then the bracelet, whispering a thank you to the pokemon inside for protecting her and Paul. He told her of his experiences, how he went to every corner of every region, how he ran into people he knew from his old travels, into pokemon so rare he was stunned speechless every time. He told her how he would try to do things for people he didn't know, how he would help small villages he stumbled across, how he would just try to be good. He mumbled through stories and realizations, he told her about the nightmares he suffered from, the dreams he'd have of everything being normal, the way his pokemon would curl beside him and lull him to sleep every night, how they would try to starve off all possible horrors yearning to find him. And when he struggled to stand as everything rushed out of him she simply guided him to the ground and watched him with doe eyes as he told his story.
"Then Professor Oak took you in?" she whispered when he trailed off at the end, his gaze locked on the nearby pokemon as they settled down to sleep, the sun setting in the distance.
"Only for the past few weeks. He refused to lie to Gary if he called and asked if he'd seen me. I was due to leave today, this evening actually." He gave her a smile. "Guess that's not happening now."
"Damn right," she almost snarled as she glared at him. "You're not running away, not again. I might be forgiving this time, but I swear I won't be if it happens again. There's no need to keep away Paul, not now, not that Conway's gone, not that anything can stop you or hunt you down or just stop you from being you." She touched his cheek, a smile bright on her face. "Come home Paul, come home."
He looked at her long and hard, his gaze wandering over her every feature, the long blue tresses he yearned to run his fingers through, the large blue eyes so filled with life, the long eyelashes and delicate eyebrows, the full lips that were pulled up into an innocent smile. His fingers twitched in anticipation, wanting to reach out and touch her, but he fought it back as he stood.
"Alright," he finally mumbled, throwing her a cautious smile that was eagerly returned. He watched as she moved forward, her hands coming out and he couldn't stop himself from turning away and beginning to walk back up the hill.
Stupid stupid stupid!
Her voice sounded rough and angry, and Paul turned to see her standing there with her hands on her hips, eyebrow raised, pursing lips. He swallowed quietly before locking eyes and stepping forward.
"What else Dawn? I will come home, I made a promise to go see Reggie in a years time. The fact you will be there too is a bonus, but what else do you want? What do you want from me?" He stepped forward again so they were almost touching, his breath quickening as he did so. "I hurt you many times before, many times and I hardly doubt you to forgive me-"
"Don't blame yourself."
"I'm... I'm simply pointing out the facts. Yes, it was because of Conway that my actions were harsh, but I still did it, I still lied and caused pain."
He stopped when she stepped forward as well, her hands coming up to rest on his cheeks. "Paul, nobody is perfect," she whispered as she pulled him down slowly. "I told you I wanted to marry you didn't I? Despite it being so fast? We made promises Paul. I plan on keeping that promise."
"I love you."
He fell silent, completely shocked and he saw the flicker of a smug smile appear on her face before she tugged him down and slammed their lips together, eyes sliding shut and hands clutching his face tightly. He foundered for a long moment, mouth trying to form words but the sudden noise of impatience from Dawn made him stop and fully relax, his arms sliding around her waist.
And then he was kissing back ferociously, almost bending her in half in a dip as he deepened the kiss quickly, wanting to taste Dawn, wanting to taste the strawberries she seemed to be made of, wanting to inhale the sweet aroma as her body wrapped around his, wanting to feel her pressed against him and never ever let go. His whole world finished falling apart right then as he kissed her, kissed Dawn, but a new world, one that smelled and tasted like strawberries, that was a unique shade of blues and pinks, was more annoying than anything else and utterly perfected in every way was revealed underneath the cracked remains.
"You know that not everything can end in a happily ever after right?" he whispered when they pulled away, both grinning madly, both panting heavily as they leaned their foreheads together.
"We'll just have to make one then, won't we?"
He couldn't help but laugh as he kissed her again, hearing her giggle and his heart melted into one, no longer separated by pain and guilt but pulled together by love. Everything dark fell away, everything new came together in a bright spark.
And in that moment Paul felt something he hadn't felt in years.
Paul felt Lucky.
So it ends.
It took me a long time to actually buck up the courage and post this, I mean Lucky has been a huge pain in my ass most the time and I really hate the first few chapters, but I'm still really attached to it. It's been my 'baby' for over a year, almost two. Its sad to see it go.
There will be no sequel unfortunately. I think this is the end of their story. Lets say they lived happily ever after and had lots of children who were lovingly doted on by their Uncles Drew and Gary. Yep.
I'd like to thank you all for reading this, it is so lovely that you all hung on despite my horrific ability to update on time. I really need to work on that. I'd thank you all individually, but holy shit that'd take a long time.
I GIVE YOU ALL COOKIES AS THANKS!
But most importantly I'd love to thank Starfire1407, you are amazing. I'm really glad I met you, because sheeeet gurrrl! You da bomb! Or some crap like that XD
And xotennisloverxo, you're amazing. Like literally amazing. Thats all I can say, just don't ever stop being amazing.
ARGH! So sad for this to end! Don't stop!
But seriously, thank you guys so much.
PS. In case you are interested in Drew/Gary's backstory on how they got together, go look for "Messages in the Sand" by me. First story ever for that couple on here! Woot!