This is my first fanfic so please go easy on me .
He would never admit it. Ash Ketchum, 13 years old from pallet town would never admit that out off all his travels the thing he enjoyed the most was his rivalry. To him, his rivalry was a source of motivation and strength to help him get through the hard times. Sure his friends and pokemon were there to cheer him on during his matches, celebrate his victory with him and even say kind words to cheer him up when he was down but those things could not compare to the spirit he gains when wanting to defeat his rival. The drive to work hard and train, Brock and Dawn could not understand it. Like during his journey through Kanto and Johto to compete in the pokemon league there. Gary was there to give him the strength and will to continue travelling and try his best in everything he did as to him at that point of time; Gary Oak seemed so far away. Despite being childhood friends, he was always a step in front of him. So when he beat Gary in the Silver Conference, all his motivation was lost. He did it. HE finally reached to the place Gary was. It was enough.
When he arrived back at pallet town he had nothing to do so he decided to travel to Hoenn to occupy his time, and hopefully find the spark he had when Gary was still around. He met many people there, challenged them and beat them. None of them were strong enough to light the flame inside of him.
After the Ever Grande Conference he was empty again. There was nothing he wanted. Honestly, he thought of giving up on his dream and just settle down...that was until he saw Gary again. After a crushing defeat, he decided to go to Sinnoh, knowing that there HAD to be someone there to motivate him again.
And there he was. Paul. Unlike all his other rivals Paul was the only one who he wanted to beat no matter what. The way he treats his pokemon, his jeers, his smirks, everything Paul did just seemed to get to Ash. He hated this feeling. Whenever he met Paul he could tell Paul never respected him as a fellow trainer so he was always friendly to Paul, hoping that the ice surrounding Paul's heart would melt and he would finally be acknowledged as a rival. Ash could not remember a time when he tried so hard to achieve a goal. Not even when he tried to win the pokemon league did he try so hard as to gain Paul's recognition. When they met at the Snowpoint Gym he felt his heart skip a beat. It had been so long since he saw Paul. He was about to challenge Paul to a battle when Brandon came and all of Paul's attention shifted from ash to Brandon. Ash could not help but feel a tinge of jealousy when it happened. For the first time, he felt that he could easily be replaced by anyone who was stronger than him. He did not want to believe it so he stayed and watched the battle between Brandon and Paul. The battle was so intense. Even a total amateur could tell how much spirit Paul put inside the battle. It was the first time Ash saw Paul like this, all fired up and ONLY looking at his opponent who was sadly not him. After the one-sided battle between Brandon and Paul, ash saw a face he never thought Paul would ever have—a face of defeat. He wanted to go up to Paul, tell him that it was alright, but for some reason he could an invisible barrier between them and Paul was further away than usual. However, thanks to Reggie, He had a chance to show Paul that he was irreplaceable. Days prior to the battle Ash trained as if he was competing in the pokemon league but it was all useless. He lost. After the battle he could tell that Paul was smiling, it must had felt good beating him, a loser who could be replaced anytime. After the landside defeat Ash felt like running away. Nobody needed a loser like him. Barry could just replace him, this way, he could continue living without ever seeing Paul again. He was not worth his attention. But he knew that a part of him still wanted to see Paul again. He wanted to beat Paul. He wanted to be worth Paul's attention. With that thought in mind, the flame in Ash burned even brighter and fiercer. He trained vigorously. And finally, it was time for Lilly of the Valley Conference. For the first time Ash used pokemon which he caught at other regions as he knew he could not let anything slip up. He HAD to be able to battle Paul.
Finally, it was time for their battle. His heart was pounding against his ribcage and he felt as if the battle would decide his whole life. When the platform was raised he could tell that right now Paul was looking at him and ONLY him. It felt nice. All the time he spent training was going to pay off with this battle, a battle where Paul would only look at him. It was an intense battle in which they both battled their hearts out and Ash won. He did it. He caught up to Paul and beat him, the Paul which he thought was untouchable was defeated by him. The feeling of victory was the best kind he ever experienced, it felt even greater than when he beat Gary as he knew that it was only through this battle that both of their thoughts were in sync. Ash could not help but smile as he felt as if he could finally understand and was worthy of Paul's time. After the battle he searched for the mauve haired trainer but heard that he had already left from nurse Joy. Without thinking Ash ran as fast as he could. He did not want things to end like this. He wanted to know, personally, that Paul acknowledged him. He raced down the steps uncaring to all the times he was about to fall, all he cared about was Paul. And there he was, slowly ascending down the steps. Breathing a sigh of relief Ash shouted out "PAUL!" With this, the said person turned his head, making eye contact with Ash. For a moment Ash froze, unsure of what to say but he knew that he could not let Paul leave like this, not like this!
"I lost right? I have nothing to do here."
Those words struck Ash hard.
"What are you going to do now?"
"I am going to Snowpoint city, to challenge Brandon again."
"Yeah, you too."
With that, Paul turned to leave but Ash was not going to let him go yet.
"Hey Paul! Let's battle again someday!"
Even though he had his back turned against him Ash could tell that Paul was smiling. Paul waved his hand in response and left. Looking at Paul's slowly disappearing figure Ash thought that it was enough as he knew that they were finally friends, he was finally acknowledged by Paul. He finally had what he wanted. Or so he thought as a tear slid down his cheek. He was such an idiot. He had known it all along that those were not he wanted. He knew that although he refused to admit it that deep down, he only wanted one thing. It was because of that one thing that he was so sensitive to whatever Paul said and did. It was because of that one thing that he did not want to make their goodbye so sudden. It was because of that one thing that Ash wanted to battle Paul again, so that they could meet again.
And that one thing was Paul's love.