Summary: When Paul tells Ash he is pregnant, his mother insists that Paul should stay with them. As he sets foot in Kanto, he relishes the saying 'a calm before the storm'. And then, dark clouds roll in. MPREG, ComaShipping.
It was the day of their most recent pokemon battle by the port back to Kanto that Ash noticed something was up.
Just from the way Paul was acting as they battled. A little tired… a little unsettled. Distracted by something playing on his mind. And as soon as the battle was over (Ash somehow claimed victory easily), Paul left quickly without so much as a cruel remark.
So Ash followed him, leaving Pikachu with Brock and telling them he needed to 'take care of some errands'.
And five minutes later he found himself standing in an empty public restroom, listening to the sound of Paul heaving his guts up.
It definitely wasn't a pleasant sound.
So when Paul stumbled out of the cubicle, pale and wiping his mouth awkwardly on his sleeve, he stared as Ash had him cornered.
"Are you okay?" Ash asked, concern written all over his face. Paul shrugged and popped a mint into his mouth.
"Whaddya think, lame-brain?"
He pushed past him and left the restrooms, squinting in the brightness of the pale morning sunshine. Ash followed him out, biting his lip.
"If you're sick, we can take you to a doctor," he pressed on. Paul turned round, irritated.
"Give it a rest, will ya? And don't you dare tell your dumb friend about this. If you do…" He took a warning step towards Ash. "…I'll kill you."
Ash raised an eyebrow quizzically.
"Really? Or will you attempt to kill me, and then retreat to go throw up in a bush somewhere?" As Paul's scowl deepened Ash grabbed his arm and forced Paul to look him in the eye. "What's going on, Paul? There's something you're not telling me, and I don't like it."
"It's nothing, idiot." Paul glared at him and shoved his hands in his pockets, turning around. "My throw-up schedule has nothing to do with you."
Ash paled. "Schedule…? P-Paul, you're not bulimic… right?" Paul stopped in his tracks. When he spoke, his voice was bitter.
"Ever heard of a joke, dumbass?" Without turning back, Paul stormed off into the woods, muttering under his breath.
"Something's wrong with Paul," Ash frowned, folding his arms. "I mean, he seemed super tired during our battle, and kinda half-hearted too. Plus he was throwing up in the cubicle, and then was grouchy with me for being concerned - like, more than usual. It was weird."
"I've heard of those symptoms before when I've been researching, but… I can't place my finger on where I've read up on them before."
"Then can I take a look at some of your books?" Ash pleaded. When Brock raised an eyebrow in confusion he explained further. "I'm really worried about Paul, Brock. And if the answer to what's wrong with him lies in those books… I wanna do something about it!"
"Pika-pi…?" Pikachu seemed just as puzzled as Brock.
"Well… okay…" Brock rummaged around in his bag and picked out a few books. "I don't carry that many on me, but if you look up the symptoms on the index page and they all point to similar page numbers, then… well, there's your answer." Brock checked his watch. "We still have roughly four hours or something until the boat arrives. Go nuts."
"Right… thanks, Brock." Ash picked up the first book and flipped it open.
Paul… I'm gonna get my answers.
Ash stared for a moment, before placing the book back down on the floor and leaning back. He must've blanched, for Brock peered at him in worry.
"You okay, Ash? What'd you find out?" Ash leaned forward again, looking as though he too was going to be sick.
"Th…This page…" He pointed to the page the third book he'd checked was open on. As Brock picked it up and scanned the paragraphs, he frowned. When he put the book down, his expression was pretty sceptical.
"You think Paul is pregnant?" he asked carefully, quirking an eyebrow. Ash nodded vigorously.
"Yeah, well, think about it! All the symptoms are… pointing to it…"
"But Ash… Paul's a guy. Guys can't get pregnant, surely even you should know that."
"Well, yeah, but…" Ash frowned. "It just seems a little weird, that's all. I thought maybe it could, y'know. Happen." He sounded a little scared as he said that.
"Ash…" Brock frowned. "There isn't anything you haven't been sharing with me… right?" He glanced over at Pikachu, who'd fallen asleep quite some time ago. "I mean, I know with Pikachu always around it'd be hard for you to do anything he doesn't know about… but has there ever been a time you maybe, um, got close to Paul… in that way?" Ash felt his face flush.
"What?! No! I'm not suggesting it because I've done it with Paul!" He screwed up his face. "No, no, no! That's crazy! Unless people can get pregnant by rivalling against each other, no!"
"Okay. Just making sure." Brock heaved a sigh. "So, where did Paul run off to, anyway?"
"I don't know," Ash mumbled. "I'm assuming he just went to the woods to sulk."
"Well, go fetch him, okay? As a training doctor, I should be able to figure out what's up with him."
"Okay…" Ash stood up and headed in the direction of the woods, worry gnawing at his gut.
Paul slumped against a tree, feeling queasy, though not as bad as when he'd still had breakfast churning in his gut. He squeezed his eyes shut in disgust.
Not a nice thought.
What was more annoying was that after he'd had this little throw-up session that'd been occurring for the past three weeks, none other than Ash freaking Ketchum had been there to look all worried about him. The nerve.
He felt his face flush as he remembered Ash's shocked face as he had emerged from the cubicle. He must've heard everything.
Not that it mattered anymore. He'd made it perfectly clear that he didn't want Ash around, and the kid had slunk off by the time he'd turned around.
"…Paul?" Speak of the devil.
He sighed. "What do you want?"
"For you to come back with me." Ash sounded a little timid, hanging off a tree trunk for support. "Listen, Brock's a doctor - or at least, training to be one - and, and he's gonna take a look at you. He says that, he'll be able to help you out and recommend some sort of medicine for you to take if he can figure out what's wrong."
"And what if I don't want to come with you?" Paul glared up at Ash, but as he saw the boy's desperate expression, something inside his chest just tightened a little.
"Please," Ash bleated again, and Paul stood up, scowling.
"Fine, let the guy poke a needle in me and all that shit, if it'll make you feel better." Ash flinched; he hadn't heard Paul curse before.
"Oh… Okay…" Ash bit his lip gloomily and led Paul to the port, where Brock was sat rubbing the top of Pikachu's head. When he saw the two emerge, he waved a little.
"Hey, Ash. Hey, Paul." Ash waved back but Paul simply frowned and sat down, arms crossed over his chest.
"All right. Lets get this over with." His eyes narrowed. "You wanna examine me or something?"
"That's right." Brock nodded. "We'll go to the restrooms to talk, though - and Ash will stay with Pikachu."
"Huh? But I wanna know what's wrong, too!" Ash cried indignantly. Brock shook his head.
"No, Ash. Some questions may be personal. And while I'm not one to judge, I'm sure Paul wouldn't be comfortable answering those kind of questions with you there."
Paul felt his stomach tighten a little. Personal questions? What was this guy on about?
"Right, Paul…" Brock smiled sweetly. "Care to take a little walk?"
"All right, cut the crap," Paul snapped as they entered the restroom. Thankfully, it was empty. "What are these personal questions you want to ask?"
Brock folded his arms and peered hard at Paul.
"…You've gained weight," he said finally. Paul's eyebrows shot up in bemusement. "I'm not saying you're fat. I'm just saying… your face is fuller, and now I think about it your hands are a little bigger, too."
"Aren't you ever so observant," Paul said nonchalantly.
"All right… Ash also explained about some of your earlier symptoms." Paul frowned a little.
"Symptoms? Such as…?"
"You seemed a little tired during your pokemon battle today. And your mind seemed somewhere else." Paul snorted.
"You count that as a symptom? I just had a late night."
"Maybe so. But then, what excuse do you have for throwing up?"
"I ate crap for breakfast."
"Being grouchier than usual to Ash?""He annoys me."
Brock sighed heavily, wondering if he was going to get anywhere with these questions.
"Look, Paul, I need to know if you've been ill recently, or if there are any symptoms of an illness you've had. If there is… I can narrow down the search, come to a conclusion and help. So please, Paul. For your sake over mine, answer these questions."
"Okay, okay. Got it," he mumbled, glaring at his shoes like a naughty kid.
He suddenly winced, but tried his best to cover it up. Brock wasn't fooled.
"You're in pain?"
"…Stomach cramps," Paul muttered. "It's been happening recently. I've gotten used to them now but today's just been worse than usual."
"Right… fatigue, sickness, temper, cramps… anything else?"
"Nothing else I've really noticed… just that I need to take a leak more often than usual." He shrugged, the tips of his ears reddening.
"Okay. Paul, this sounds daft, but… you sound really… how do I put this…? Pregnant." Paul blinked.
"Wow, I've heard a lot of stupid things in my time, but, 'You sound really pregnant'? That's gotta be by far the stupidest."
"I'm not kidding, Paul. Those symptoms all occur during the first trimester of pregnancy, and… well, how long has this been going on?"
"About three weeks…" Paul frowned. "You're… you're really serious about this, aren't you?"
"Strangely enough, yes," Brock sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. It was that moment that Paul's composure seemed to crumble.
"B-But… But I'm a guy! That can't actually happen!"
"Well, we can't be sure of anything just yet. I'll explain to Ash we'll have to catch the next ferry home, and we'll go into town and buy a test. Ash won't have to know. Unless you want to tell him."
"No," Paul snapped. "I don't want that idiot finding out."
"Then it'll be our little secret."
"Has it been three minutes yet?" Paul asked for the fourth time. Brock shook his head.
"No, still a minute to go."
"…I'm scared…" Brock chewed his lip. He knew Paul wouldn't usually admit something like this; the fear of knowing must've taken a lot out of him.
"I know, buddy. Must be pretty nerve-wracking."
Paul drummed his fingers on his knees, staring into space as though he were watching something without actually seeing it.
"…I'm so glad the idiot isn't here right now…" Said idiot (Ash) and his pikachu had been told to go and stock up on supplies in the grocery store, so wouldn't be back for about another hour.
Finally, after a painful silence, Brock stirred.
"All right, three minutes gone." The moment of truth had finally arrived.
"…I don't think I want to turn it over," Paul said quietly. Brock reached over and patted him on the shoulder.
"It must be hard, I know. If you want, I'll do it for you."
"No… I'll do it…" With trembling fingers, Paul reached for the test stick and flipped it over quickly. At once his face froze and Brock let out a breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding.
"Not what you were hoping for, huh?"
"I-I don't get it… I'm pregnant…" Paul ran his fingers through his hair, dropping the stick as though it were on fire. "But I… I don't understand. How c-can this be happening…?"
Brock felt sorry for the kid - there must've been so many things running through his head at that moment. And yet, there was still a question they both were thinking:What are you going to do now?
"I don't know," he said, heart pounding. "I… I can't tell Reggie. But I can't just get rid of it, I mean… I'm male, how would that even work…? I'd go to a hospital and the doctors would poke me and prod me and experiment, and…" He took a deep breath to calm himself down. "I'll have to go into hiding…"
Brock began to laugh, and Paul clenched his fist. "What's so funny?!"
"Hiding? You won't have to hide! You'll have us, to protect you and whatnot." Brock sighed and patted Paul's shoulder. "Whatever happens, me and Ash, we'll look out for you, kiddo. Listen, Paul, I'm sure your brother will understand everything if you explain to him. And if he doesn't, you can always come and stay in my gym. I'm sure Ash's mother would help you out, too - after all, Ash considers you a close friend, you know." Paul blinked.
"…A friend?" His chest tightened and he hugged his knees.
"Yeah, a friend. Now, I'm not about to tell you to go out there and tell him everything, but he's really worried, so… if you feel it's necessary, just let him know. Put his mind at ease."
"Fine." Paul took a deep breath and stood up. "Hey… and thanks. You've been… kind."
"Man, where in the world was I supposed to find pecha berries in a Sinnoh convenience store, anyway?" Ash complained, arms aching from the shopping bags he was carrying. "Oh well… hopefully Brock won't mind too much."
As the two approached the port they saw Brock and Paul sitting on the ground, both looking a little shaken up. And that triggered a thought in Ash's mind that made him completely forget about the shopping.
"Brock! Paul!" He ran over, Pikachu quickly following. "Did you guys figure out what was wrong?"
Brock held up a hand to stop Ash. "Don't interrogate him. He's the one who decides whether or not you should know, got it?"
"Is it… something bad?" Paul forced himself to look into his eyes. When he saw those big brown eyes wide with fear, once again he felt the familiar tightness in his chest.
I might as well tell him, Paul decided, before he starts crying or something.
"Listen up. Cause I'm only gonna say this once." He took a deep breath and closed his eyes to stop his vision swimming. "…I'm… I may be, just a little bit… pregnant."
He heard Ash take a sharp breath as his pikachu uttered an astonished, "Pika?!"
But what he didn't expect, was what Ash said next.
"…Told you, Brock."
"Shut up, Ash. Now's not the time." Paul opened his eyes as Ash patted the top of his head.
"You know, Paul… I kind of already thought you were." Ash offered him a lopsided smile that made Paul's heart thump; what was it about that idiot that made Paul feel so strange? "Thank you for telling me. It must've been hard."
"Easy as pie," Paul muttered, face a dull red colour.
"But I have a few questions of my own, now." Ash leaned forward. "How did this happen? Did you really… go all the way?" He giggled, and Paul fought back the urge to hit him.
"Shut up," he snarled, "it's certainly not your place to be poking around!"
"Yeah, Ash." Brock frowned a little. "It's really not the nicest thing to ask at a time like this. Paul's stressed out enough, without your dumb questions adding to his problems."
Paul decided now Brock wasn't quite so bad.
"Okay, well… then how much time 'til you start getting fat?"
"How the hell should I know?" Paul glared at the idiot in front of him; he really didn't have a clue who he was dealing with, did he?
"Then… what are you going to do now?"
The silence after that question was unbearable.
"So, Ash, sweetie… what is it you called about?" Ash's mom appeared concerned; he should've been on the ferry right now, but from the corner of the camera she could see the ferry in the distance, leaving a trail of smog behind it.
"Well… I missed the ferry because something came up." He bit his lip. Ash's mom frowned.
"Something like what?" Then, as he stayed silent, she pressed on. "Ash, honey, please tell me. Maybe I could help…"
"My friend is pregnant," he blurted out. She blinked.
"M-My friend Paul," he said hurriedly. "I know it doesn't really make sense and stuff, but he and Brock told me that he took a test earlier and… and it's really true, Mom. I'm sorry to be loading this all on you, but do you think it's all right if he comes and stays with us for a while?"
"…Ash, I really don't know what to say." Her face had paled a little. "Of course he can stay with us, but… what about his family?"
"He doesn't want them to know," Ash explained. "Thanks, Mom. This'll really help him out."
"But Ash… I still don't fully understand…"
"We'll explain everything when we get to Pallet Town, okay, Mom? But I'm starving, so we're gonna make some lunch now. I'll see you in a couple hours, 'kay?"
Ash hung up and turned to Brock and Paul, who were helping to prepare lunch. "Hey, Paul! My mom says you can come stay with us for a while!"
Paul was ready to open his mouth and say, "I'm gonna kill you for telling, Ketchum…" but Brock interrupted.
"He's done a nice thing, Paul, asking his mom to put you up for a while until you figure out your next move. The least you can do is be grateful."
"…Yeah. Thanks." Paul cast his gaze downwards, staring at his shoes. He closed his eyes and rested his forehead against his knees, taking a sharp breath. Brock noticed.
"Feeling okay, Paul?"
"Yeah… just cramps. The usual shit."
"Hey, no need for that." Brock's tone was sharp.
"Sorry if the way I talk doesn't agree with you!" Paul snapped, folding his arms. "…You can't tell me what to do, anyway. Neither of you can."
"Guys…" Ash bit his lip, feeling the tenseness between the trio. Pikachu went and sat on Ash's lap, looking troubled.
"You're right, Pikachu," Ash mumbled. "This is gonna be a long day…"
"Wow! I can't believe we're back in Kanto again!" Ash cried, stretching. "It feels so good to be home!"
"Yeah… man, my siblings will have grown a lot since I last visited them. I just hope my parents haven't left again."
Paul was silent, hands in pockets. He had been for most of the trip.
"Ready to go, guys?"
"Sure…" Paul frowned. He'd been feeling a little nauseous since they got on the ferry, and it hadn't gone away since they'd gotten off either. Since he figured it'd be easier to not physically be sick if he didn't talk, he was praying they wouldn't start asking questions.
"So, Ash, how has your mom been?"
"Oh, she's been fine! Apparently the other day Tracey came round and knocked over a vase or something…" Ash began telling some stupid story as Paul kept his lips clamped shut, the feeling of wanting to hurl growing stronger still.
After a few minutes of holding back he eventually tore away from the two while they were deep in conversation and heaved into a bush beside them as quietly as he could, doing his best not to draw attention to himself.
"So then in the end Misty made him go and apologise, and they bought a new one," Ash finished, grinning like a fool. "Pretty funny, huh, Paul? …Paul?" He turned around to see that Paul was gone.
"Huh? Where'd he go?" They turned back and headed down the path - it wasn't long before they caught sight of him leaning against a tree, looking pale and wiping his mouth on his sleeve.
"Hey, how come you ran off, Paul?" Ash glanced down at the bush beside him and then made a face. "Oh, right… you should've told us you weren't feeling well, we could've taken a little rest or something-"
"I don't need you worrying about me," he snapped, reaching for a packet of mints in his bag. "I just needed to get that rotten lunch out my system."
"Hey, that lunch I made was just fine!" Brock protested. "It was your fault for not eating right!"
"C-Come on, guys, please don't fight…" Ash sighed. "Look, the sooner we stop arguing the sooner we can get home, so lets just try and be nice, okay?"
"You're right, Ash," Brock agreed, reminding himself that Paul was still a rotten kid and naturally would be hard to get along with. "I'm sorry, Paul."
Paul shoved his hands in his pockets and ignored them for the rest of the journey.
"Well, here is where we part for now, guys," Brock sighed, stretching. "I'll see you guys soon, okay? Seriously, I promise I will. As soon as I get the chance, I'll come over and visit. See how you're doing, and all that."
"Seeya, Brock," Ash said, looking a little teary. Paul rolled his eyes and said nothing. Brock waited for a moment in case Paul changed his mind about being rude and ungrateful, but when it passed he simply turned around and waved.
"Bye," he called, heading off in the direction of Pewter City.
"See you soon!" Ash called back, cupping his hands around his mouth in hopes that his words would reach further. "Good luck at the gym!"
And then it was the two of them.
There was an awkward silence to say the least.
Once Brock left things moved quickly. The two continued to walk, Ash asking questions and blabbering away as Paul simply nodded or shook his head, hands in pockets.
As they approached Pallet Town, Ash finally decided to re-ask the question that had been bugging him before.
"So Paul… who's the guy?"
"What guy?" Paul asked irritably, even though he already knew what Ash was going to say.
"That guy that, you… y'know. Did the nasty with."
Paul grimaced. "You wouldn't know them."
"Really? Try me." Ash was curious now.
"Just some guy that used to go to elementary school with me. It was a stupid bet that his friends thought would be funny when the school had a class reunion and they had too much to drink. 'Oh, go have sex with the guy sitting opposite!' …which happened to be me." Ash frowned.
"That's so wrong… didn't you refuse?"
"Well of course I did!" Paul snapped. "But do you think a group of drunk idiots will listen to reason?" He folded his arms, glaring ahead of him. "He practically dragged me off. I didn't have much of a choice."
"That's rape," Ash cried out, clenching his fists. "He could get in real trouble for that!"
"Hardly, since it was my fault for babysitting them. It doesn't matter, anyway. He doesn't have to know."
"Yes he does!" Ash couldn't believe what he was hearing. "This guy needs to take responsibility for his actions! He needs to take care of you!"
Paul turned to glare at him. "Listen here, Moron, and listen well. I don't need anybody taking care of me. I look after myself just fine."
Ash merely appeared puzzled. "But Paul… once your baby is born it'll be a lot of work to raise it by yourself. You're gonna need some help."
"Then I'll go back home. Let Reggie deal with it."
"He'll want to know where it came from."
"I'll tell him I found it in a dumpster."
"But it'll look just like you!"
"I'll tell him I got a girl pregnant and she didn't want to know."
"Got a better suggestion?" His eyes flashed with anger. "I'm a joke, Ash," he said slowly, flinching as he realised he'd said the idiot's proper name. "If Reggie knew, the whole town would know. The whole of Sinnoh, even. I'd be a public display, and once I get bigger I can't hide anymore. So what better option than to lie?"
He headed off in the opposite direction to Ash's house, down to a river Ash used to play in as a child.
"H-Hey, Paul! My house is that way!" He hurried after him worriedly. By the time he'd caught up Paul had taken off his socks and shoes and was now ankle-deep in the water, rolled-up trousers almost brushing against the surface.
"It's a nice river," Paul said without looking at Ash. "Cool."
"Well, yeah, but my house is over there," Ash repeated, pointing over the bank towards the village.
"What does it matter where your house is? What does anything matter?" Paul clenched his fists."P-Paul…?"
"Even you think I'm stupid. I can tell, by the way you keep looking at me with that stupid grin on your face. You're laughing at me. Just like everyone else will when I waddle around looking all big and pregnant." His voice cracked and he stared down at his numb feet in the water. "You're saying I should go back home? Where Reggie will chew me out for being stuck in this dumb position, then go and tell everybody? My parents won't wanna know me anymore if they find out. Reggie will spread it around and everybody will want to come and see me and laugh at me…"
"That's crazy," Ash choked out, heart thumping in his chest. "Nobody will laugh. I swear."
"How can you say that on behalf of people you don't even know?" Paul snapped, spiralling around. Ash stopped and stared as he caught the glimmer of tears in Paul's eyes. "Don't you get it? I'm a guy who's pregnant! If anybody knew I'd be a complete joke!"
Ash's feet began to move on their own. He kicked off his shoes with one swift movement and waded in the water, his now soaking jeans sticking to his a stretch forward he fell into his next step and pulled Paul into a warm hug, feeling tears spring to his own eyes.
"Please don't say that," he murmured, trembling. "You're not a joke. Y-You're amazing for coping like this… and I wasn't grinning because I thought you were funny or stupid! I was grinning cause I was psyched! I was thinking, 'man, one of my best friends is gonna be a parent! This is so exciting!', cause Paul… it really is a blessing. It's not everyday something like this happens and whether you want me to or not, I'm gonna help you through this."
Paul said nothing, but his eyes widened.
"Look, Paul… I care about you. A lot. And I don't want you to feel like you're alone here. Can't you see that?"
"…" Paul was speechless. Even though he'd been so cruel to the idiot hugging him right now, he still wanted to help him out…?
"So don't… don't say that nothing matters. Cause everything does. Especially now you have a new life living inside of you, that you need to take care of. So, Paul…" He pulled away and placed a simple kiss on Paul's forehead. "…I know this is really sudden, but I still want you to stay at my house. Until you've had the baby, and until you're ready to find your feet again… My mom won't mind. In fact, she may be a bit unsure at first, but once she sees you really are pregnant she'll be totally excited! She loves kids… and she thinks that babies are truly magical things. So even if things do get tough… we'll be there for you."
A tear slipped down Paul's cheek and he rubbed it away with his hand, finally coming to his senses.
"…Thank you…" He swallowed. "…Thank you… you've been too kind to me…" He hung his head in shame. "I've been such a jerk to you, Ketchum. I'm… sorry." Ash's expression changed.
"Hey! No more of that 'Ketchum' stuff, it's just Ash! We're friends, right?" His face softened. "But… it's okay, Paul. Lets forget this ever even happened, alright?"
"…Alright…" Ash grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the water.
"Great. Now, lets get going to my house, okay? My mom's probably cooking something nice."