Summary: ComaShipping. Paul has travelled to Hoenn and Ash, whilst visiting old friends, crosses paths with him at a meteor festival. The results of which neither could've expected.

A/N: I scarcely know a thing about Paul, sad to say. I haven't watched more than two episodes during the adventures of Sinnoh, so why, you ask, am I writing this fanfic? Simple. I've become sucked into the ComaShipping fandom by reading beautiful fanfics. So if any of these facts I've interpreted into the story about Paul are false (I just looked into his history actually, and found out he's ALREADY travelled through Hoenn, but I'm pretending I don't know that…) I'm sorry. I'm just a newbie poke-ficker, so go easy on me, okay?


Fleeting Still

Paul detested a lot of things, but Ash Ketchum was one of the top on his list. Who else could be quite as annoying, loud and preachy about 'fairness to pokemon'?

So when he decided to travel to Hoenn, he was confident this was a good place to start exploring, as he was vaguely aware that the moron had already travelled through Hoenn and therefore wouldn't be heading back there anytime soon.

What he didn't know… the moron had friends there. Which he just so happened to be visiting at the time of Paul's second gym battle, against Norman of the Petalburg City gym.

Though he hated admitting it, even to himself, he'd lost, and as Norman shook hands with him outside the gym two kids approached.

"Hey, Dad!" the girl - whom couldn't have been more than a year his senior - called, waving. Norman broke the handshake with Paul.

"Hey, sweetheart," he waved back. As Paul took in her appearance, he focused his gaze on the boy beside her. And his jaw - very almost - hit the floor.

It was that squinty-eyed guy who he'd last seen travelling with the annoying moron. The guy seemed to recognise him too, for he flinched beside the girl.

"P-Paul?" He chose his next words carefully. "Er… what are you… doing here?"

"Just had a gym battle, that a problem?" he snarled back, glancing around to check the moron's miniskirt gal wasn't hanging around too. "Where's the other doofus?"

"Uh, Ash is at the ice-cream parlour with Max…" Before Paul could interrupt him with "Yeah, I don't care who he's with, dumbass", the girl beside the squinty-eyed guy seemed to put two and two together.

"Oh! You guys know each other?" The squinty-eyed guy sighed and Paul rolled his eyes in an exaggerated fashion.

"Yeah… this is Paul. He was Ash's rival back in Sinnoh." He turned to Paul. "Paul, this is May. She's Norman's daughter and, as you'd guess, one of our old pals. She and her younger brother Max travelled with Ash and I when we were exploring Hoenn."

Yeah, I didn't ask for an introduction, thanks, Paul thought bitterly to himself.

"Nice to meetcha, girlie," he drawled without much enthusiasm. "Right, I'm leaving now." He faced Norman again and bowed slightly, gritting his teeth as he muttered out, "Thank you for the gym battle."

"No problem, son. Come back when you're ready. No hard feelings right?" Norman smiled, amusement in his eyes.

"Oh, you lost?" the bandana girl -why should Paul have to remember the name of a girl he'd most likely never see again? - asked, not noticing Paul's clenched fists. "Well, not to worry, I mean you're probably pretty new to this gig, right? You'll get stronger, and my dad's a really tough opponent, so…"

"I didn't ask for your advice," he snapped, pushing past her.

"Oh, Paul - didn't you wanna have a battle with Ash?" the squinty-eyed guy called after him. "I'm sure he'd be happy to see you!"

Paul said nothing and continued walking, not looking back, but a dull rush of colour brushed the tips of his ears.

Even if he didn't fully admit it to himself… that almost made him sort of theoretically… happy?

He blamed hormones.

XXX

"So, anything exciting happened today, Paul?" Paul had called Reggie at the nearest pokemon centre, as he'd promised to keep Reggie posted on his adventures now he'd reached Hoenn. And right now, he was not happy. Talking to Reggie only slightly helped. Slightly.

"Not much… I saw that moron's friends after my gym battle in Petalburg. Lucky I didn't see his ugly face again."

"Aw, I'm sure you don't mean that. How were they?" he genuinely sounded interested, which Paul felt slightly betrayed by.

"Wimpy. Like always."

Okay, Reggie wasn't helping at all.

"Que sera sera, Paul. Anyway, I was talking to a passing-through trainer today and guess what? Apparently there's gonna be a festival tonight in North Petalburg, so I suggest you go, yeah?" Reggie was all smiles; which Paul hated.

"No." Simple as.

"Oh, come on, Paul~ It'll be fun~"

"Who needs fun right now when I could be training for my rematch with the Petalburg gym leader?" Paul snapped, cheeks flushing slightly with bottled rage. Silently, he was still fuming over his loss; what was his excuse for losing such an easy battle?

"Ah, but Paul~ I forgot to mention, as it's a community event there will be a temporary battle tent there, where there will be plenty of trainers for you to take out your anger on! So everybody's satisfied!" Reggie's smile grew into a smirk. "I already signed you up over the phone, anyway, so there's no way you can wiggle out of it. They'll be expecting you."

"Damn it… you…" Paul's scowl deepened, before he abruptly hung up. Great. He could feel a migrane coming on now.

"I swear, if these trainers aren't half decent…"

XXX

When he'd changed and left the hostel he was staying at, already there was a ton of people pottering about outside.

Must be a big event, he mused, stuffing his hands in his pocket. He just hoped he wouldn't run into the idiot and his gang while he was there.

It took about half an hour to get to North Petalburg - although that was probably due to the huge crowds he was weaving in and out of. Paul hadn't realised until today how busy Petalburg really was.

Once he saw the decorative lights strung from street lamps and heard the familiar thumping of music in the distance, he frowned at the tacky display of what he considered a 'typical festival' and hung back by a small shop for a moment, feeling slightly overwhelmed by just how many people were there. No matter. Hopefully it'd be quieter and less busy in the battle tent.

"…Paul? That you?" Paul cursed inwardly and chose not to turn around, but was forced to anyway as a hand tapped his shoulder moments later.

Yep, there stood the idiot and his wimpy friends, all clad in yukatas.

"What do you want?" His voice was flat; monotone. A kid hanging off bandana-girl's arm frowned a little.

"Who's he?" the boy hissed loudly to her. The bandana girl sighed and also frowned at him.

"That's Paul, Ash's rival from Sinnoh," she whispered back, outwardly showing her distaste. Then, as an afterthought, "…He's really rude."

"Well, I… I wanted to say hi," Ash stuttered, suddenly seeming a little nervous. Paul generally had that effect on people, so he didn't think much of it. "Um, are you… are you entering the battle tent this evening?"

"What other reason would I be here?" Paul's tone was cold, and the kid clutched bandana-girl's arm a little tighter.

"Well, hey, why don't you hang around with us tonight?" the moron suggested, a goofy smile on his face. "It'll be fun!"

Bandana-girl's face grew sour and she tugged on the moron's arm.

"Er, Ash, shouldn't we… um, get going already?"

Paul took that as his cue to leave, and melted into the crowd abruptly as the idiot called out from behind him.

"Paul… Paul! We'll meet up later, yeah? Okay? Yeah?"

Whatever.

XXX

Paul wasn't, to say the least, having fun. For a start, he'd been turned away at the battle tent, the guy at the entrance saying something along the lines of, "Sorry, it doesn't open until later". Then Paul had realised he only had a few coins in his pocket, so after spending them on some fried octopus dumplings he found himself sat alone on a bench in what he assumed was the quietest part of town, wallowing in his thoughts while munching the treats half-heartedly.

Even so, the damn music in the distance was still getting on his nerves - it was an annoying song in the charts that he'd heard the doofus singing when they'd almost met again round by the face-painting stall.

"Geez, ever learn to shut up?" Paul growled in the direction of the music.

"Paul? Is that you?" With a groan, said Paul whipped round to face… a zombie?

"What's that on your face, moron?" Paul asked sourly. The doofus grinned dumbly.

"Face paint. Wanted to look more like a zombie, you know. Cause it's a festival."

Yeah, I don't get it. Was that supposed to be a joke? Paul thought bitterly.

"What are you doing here?" His voice was harsh; the idiot looked taken aback.

"W-Well, I just came back from taking a leak," he laughed nervously.

"And where are your friends? And your pikachu? Didn't they come with you?"

"Uhh… no. I said I'd be okay by myself."

He looked confused, so Paul sighed irritably and turned away. "You should come and hang out with us, Paul. It's more fun than being sat alone."

"You don't know squat about me, Ketchum, so just get outta here, okay?" Paul made a disgusted face. "Don't try and understand me. Doesn't suit you."

With a sigh, said Ketchum sat down beside him.

"You know, if you tried being nicer to them you'd have fun. They're awesome friends." Still trying to make conversation? Paul gritted his teeth.

"Whatever."

"…It's a shame. I'd really like it if you came along with us." Paul felt his cheeks redden at that and he turned his face away from the moron, stuffing a dumpling in his mouth. Truth was, that was… well, kind of nice to hear. From that idiot.

He looked over at Paul's treats hungrily.

"Hey, mind if I have one?"

"…Sure. Go nuts." The doofus helped himself to one and began chewing noisily, a weird little smile on his face.

"You know, Paul… I think this is the nicest conversation we've had in a while." When Paul didn't reply, he frowned. "Why'd you disappear earlier?" Paul shrugged.

"…Seemed like my cue to leave. Your little girlfriend didn't seem to appreciate me being here." He scowled as soon as that statement left his lips. He sounded like a jealous fool… and why would he be? He wasn't jealous… um, really. He wasn't.

"Huh? May?" The moron looked startled. "May isn't my girlfriend! I mean, we're friends, and she's um, a girl, but…" He screwed up his face. "We're just buddies. Y'know? Nothing like that."

For some reason… Paul felt strange as the idiot said that. Almost… relieved? He shuddered, which seemed to startle the fool sat next to him.

"Huh? Paul, are you cold?"

"No…" The idiot seemed to pull him into an awkward hug. And, surprisingly… it felt okay. Paul found himself… enjoying it. Almost.

"Liar. You have goosebumps all over your arms." The moron rubbed his arms, his soft hands making Paul shiver more. "Here, that's better…"

"…Ketchum…" Paul felt his face flushing, much to his horror. He struggled to pull away, but the doofus pulled him right back in again, eyes wide as flecks dotted the sky.

"Hey, look Paul! The meteor shower!" Meteor shower? So that's why there was a festival… Paul craned his neck to look up.

"Wow…" Though he wouldn't admit it, the sight was beautiful; he'd have to tell Reggie about it some time.

"Yeah…" As Paul studied the idiot's face, something caught his eye.

His lips were… soft-looking. When had they gotten so plump and… inviting? What the heck…?

"Sure is beautiful, huh, Paul?" The idiot closed his eyes as a smile stretched across his face, so without thinking Paul took this opportunity.

Two pairs of lips met. Neither pulled away at first, as the meteor shower continued overhead. But it only lasted a second, as voices in the distance yanked the two apart.

"Ash! Where are you?"

"Are you there?"

The moron's eyes never left Paul's as he let out a shaky breath.

"What was that…?"

"You had sauce on your lips." Paul looked away, face red. The idiot coughed a little.

"Uh…"

"You'd better go. Your so-called 'wonderful friends' are looking for you." Paul stood up, sticking a dumpling in his mouth before he could protest. "Now do as I say. Before I get mad."

"Before you kiss me again?" mumbled the doofus as best as he could with a dumpling in his mouth.

"Exactly. Wouldn't want that happening now, would we?" As Paul turned away and began walking towards the direction of the festival, Ash spoke.

"I would. I liked it."

And Paul didn't turn back, though his cheeks reddened more.

"Maybe we should run into each other more often, Ketchum." He waved without turning around as Ash's friends caught up to him.

"What was that all about…?" May wondered, tapping Ash's shoulder. As he turned around, his face was pink beneath his face paint and he had a strange smile on his face as he munched on his dumpling.

"What's with that creepy smile?" Max asked, frowning. "You look like an idiot."

"Nothing…"

"Oh, come on! Don't give us that! Something must've happened," grinned Brock, who knew the secret behind Ash's… closet.

"Brock…" Ash said in a warning tone.

"A lil' bit of this, and that~"

"Broooooooock…!"

XXX

As Paul reached the battle tent, he caught sight of Ash and his friends cooing over some torchic ornaments on a stand. As Ash caught his eye, he smiled shyly and gave a little wave.

Paul returned his own tiny smile, before turning away and disappearing inside.

Ash Ketchum, hmm? He closed his eyes, his heart fluttering slightly.

Might be a fella worth getting to know.