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[Gaining From Loss] - Chapter 8 (Final)
Length: Chapter - Complete
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Adventure/Romance
Warning(s): BL, Swearing
Character(s): Ash, Paul, others
Pairing(s): Paul x Ash
Summary: After thrown into certain situations, Ash and Paul must work together to get back what was lost and make it out alive.
Author's Notes: This is the last chapter. I was originally going to make a sequel but I ended it on a good note, so no sequel needed.
Chapters: [1][2][3 & 4][5][6][7][Omake]

When Ash woke up, it was dark outside. He blinked away any amounts of sleep that still clung to his eyes and sat up. He could see that Pikachu had taken to sleeping beside him and currently rested by his pillow. Ash’s vision adjusted to the dark and he could make out the bright red LED numbers of the digital clock. Judging from the time (3 in the morning), Ash could have guessed that he slept the entire day away. His body felt refreshed though, so he didn’t care too much.

“Oh, you’re awake.”

The brunet jumped at the voice and turned to see Paul was sitting in the other bed in the room. Ash sighed in relief, knowing that Paul was okay and still with him.

“Paul… What happened? The last thing I remembered was passing out on Torterra.”

Paul leaned back on the headboard of his bed, cushioned by a pillow behind him. He looked tranquil, from what Ash could make out from where he sat in the dark. The only source of light in the room came from the Pokemon Center sign outside. Ash could see Paul’s shoulders were relaxed and his posture much calmer than his usual stance.

“We brought you back to the Pokemon Center. Nurse Joy patched your arm up and looked at our pokemon, who were perfectly fine. Torterra told me that Pikachu had rescued them from the Quagsire somehow.”

Paul closed his eyes for a second. He had slept enough and woke up not too long before Ash did. He had promptly fallen unconscious as soon as his head hit the pillow after they got a room. He left Ash in the care of his friends, who had tucked him in the bed next to him. True he got less sleep than Ash, but his sleeping patterns were arranged to have less hours, so his internal clock woke him up after the long nap.

“Oh. But why are you here Paul?”

“Your friends already got a room for themselves. It was easier to give us a room together since we were brought in together.”

Ash just nodded, scratching the back of his head anxiously. Why he was nervous, he didn’t really know. He had been alone with Paul for the past few nights already; there was really nothing to be shy about. Paul had mentioned that Joy had tended to his arm, so Ash barely felt any pain from it. It would probably heal in a matter of days, so the boy was glad for that.

“So… we made it out alive. Pikachu is back too. I really have to thank you Paul, for staying with me the whole time and tolerating all my mistakes. I don’t know how I can pay you back for all that you did for me.”

The brunet clenched the sheets beneath his fingers. His heart trembled, and he wasn’t sure why. They had reached the end of their tiny adventure and everything came out all right, but for some reason, Ash didn’t want to call it finished. He didn’t want to believe that this chapter was over, there was still something missing.

“Hey, I told you that I was using you as well. I kept you around because I was handicapped. We stayed alive because there were two of us. Pay me back by getting stronger.”

Ash smiled lightly. There was some semblance of the Paul he knew before this whole ordeal but he heard more of the one that had accompanied him on the trip. And then Ash realized why he felt so empty now that they were fine and in safe hands. They had returned back to the main road of their journey, which set them back to being rivals. Aside from being his opponent again, they were to part ways on their own paths and Ash somehow couldn’t bear the idea of Paul leaving. He knew they were going to run into one another eventually but it was different this time. And what of the Paul that he had gotten so acquainted with? Will his rival revert to the cold person he was before? The thought made Ash feel terribly abandoned.


The brunet jumped at the sound of his name. Paul looked at him in question to which Ash just shook his head and put a smile on his face.

“I will get stronger; you don’t have to tell me twice.”

Paul simply nodded and looked away. He sighed and then uttered a low “Thank you”. It was so light that Ash barely caught it.

“You don’t have-“

“Tell Pikachu I said thank you.” Paul finished quickly.

“Oh. Yeah. Of course.” Ash scratched his neck again.

They sat in silence again. There was no noise at all, not even from the outside since the location of the Pokemon Center was pretty secluded.

“You should go back to sleep. There’s no point in staying up if you’re going to be on the move again.”

Ash bobbed his head in agreement and made to go back to sleep when he thought of something.

“Hey Paul, what was the answer to that riddle anyway?”

“What riddle?”

The brunet lay on his back, his head to his pillows but his eyes focused on Paul on the other side of the room.

“You know, about the Doduo and their two heads.”

Paul positioned himself horizontally to match the other trainer, facing Ash. He racked his memory for the answer.

“Oh, that was when I wanted to hint that I didn’t have my pokemon with me. You figured it out though, so it really doesn’t matter.”

“I don’t get it.” Ash commented.

“It was supposed to imply that the two heads needed the other to survive. Like how… you were necessary for the two of us to get through the situation. Despite all your blunders, we pulled through.”

Paul shrugged lightly from beneath his sheets. It was a thing he made up on the spot, so there wasn’t a definite answer.

“Oh. …I thought Doduo had two heads to keep the other company, you know, so they don’t get lonely.”

Ash heard a snort from the other side of the room. He positioned his body sideways, propping his head on his arm to get a better look at Paul from over the side drawer. He saw that Paul had a light smirk on his face.

“Of course you would think like that.”

“Hey, it seemed plausible to me.” Ash pouted.

His answer wasn’t wrong, Paul thought. It’s just not what he intended, but somehow, Ash had managed to bring something else into perspective. He figured, yeah, Doduo probably acted like brothers, so they probably kept the other occupied. So if he was to compare him and Ash to the Doduo heads, aside from surviving together, did they keep the other from being alone? Paul raised an eyebrow at the logic.

“Would Pikachu be the third head if we evolved into a Dodrio?” Ash suddenly pondered.

Paul just rolled his eyes at the comment. Only Ash would say something that idiotic.

“No. Now go to sleep, this has gone on for long enough. Don’t make a big deal out of something useless.”

The Veilstone trainer rolled over, turning his back to the other trainer. Ash frowned and sunk back into his sheets. He couldn’t help but think he caught onto something that Paul didn’t want to talk about. He hoped the other wasn’t upset with him for bringing it up. He decided he would ask the other later in the day when there was light out.

“Good night Paul.”

There was no response from the other, to which Ash had concluded Paul had already fallen asleep. He snuggled back into the comforts of his pillow. Pikachu had shuffled lightly at his movements but didn’t wake.

Paul rolled back over as soon as he heard the breathing of his rival even out. He sighed and stared at the ceiling, his thoughts swarming with Doduos and the boy in the bed next to his. No, he was not lonely without Ash, he continued to chant in his head. He had been perfectly fine before he met the boy and

before he had been forced to cooperate with him. Why did Ash have to be stupid and put ideas out there that Paul would never have thought about.

Getting stuck with Ash was also something he didn’t ever need to happen again on his journey. The boy talked too much and had uncanny instincts for things that Paul would never need to deal with. He was also ridiculously clumsy for a trainer and was in constant need of supervision. He partially wondered if that was why Ash traveled with his companions. He figured it probably was.

Paul was ready to leave as soon as there was light and he couldn’t wait to get his next badge since he had wasted so much time already. His eyes landed on the boy sleeping across the room. The boy was of no use to him but there was something about Ash that he couldn’t pull away from. He scrunched his eyebrows at the sudden warmth that invaded his chest.

They would split ways and be rivals again and Paul shouldn’t care about Ash until the Sinnoh tournament, if the fool would even make it that far. In the back of his mind, Paul knew Ash would and they were probably going to face each other in the finals.

Fine, Paul thought, this guy keeps me busy and that’s the only reason to have Ash around, really. They were rivals, after all, and that’s what they did, right? Satisfied with that train of thought, Paul finally allowed himself to drift off again.

Not surprisingly, Paul was the first to wake up again. He took a shower and changed out of his dirty clothes with fresh laundry that managed to stay clean in his bag. With a towel over his head to dry off his hair, he made his way over to his side of the room when he heard shuffling from Ash’s bed.


The electric rodent had woken up and stared curiously at Paul, who held his own gaze at the pokemon. He turned away to look through and rearrange the contents of his bag. The strap was still broken and he would have to repair it before he left. Pikachu sat up after seeing Paul leave the room to ask for some sewing material from Nurse Joy.

Pikachu never really had an opinion on his trainer’s rival. Sure, he had drawn a match against the boy, but he never took any losses personally. Ash had not seemed to dislike the boy too much, since he would go out of his way to greet Paul. And if Ash was okay with Paul, so would Pikachu. He glanced down at his still sleeping trainer. It was an hour before noon and Pikachu would normally have woken Ash up if he slept for too long, but he knew that Ash needed to recover.

Paul had returned with a box of needles and thread, compacted into a tiny case for travel conveniences. The boy took another one over at the other sleeping body in the room. He just shook his head and made to repair his bag on his bed. He noticed Pikachu eyeing him from behind Ash’s bed head. It might have been the pokemon’s constant staring but Paul wasn’t sure why he began a conversation with him.

“You must have had it rough, having to stay with him the whole time. He’s such a handful.”

The electric rodent perked his ears, realizing the other male was addressing him. Pikachu leapt over Ash’s body and sat on the edge of the bed, facing Paul. The trainer could tell the pokemon was upset with his words with the way it narrowed its eyes.

“He can’t take a hint, he talks too much, he’s clumsy and way too naive.” Paul went on as he threaded the needle.

“Pika, Pikachu pika pikachu pi.”

He didn’t understand what the pokemon said to him but Paul continued to talk anyway.

“I wouldn’t have gotten into half as much trouble if I was by myself.” He winced when he stabbed himself with the needle. “And he tries too hard and cares too much. It’s annoying.”

Pikachu noticed the slight change of tone in the last sentence. He couldn’t be too sure but he thought it sounded warmer than Paul’s other comments.

“Pika?” He asked, tilting his head to the side.

Paul glanced at the pokemon. “I don’t hate him though, if that’s what you’re wondering. But I doubt I can ever be friends with a guy like him.” His voiced dropped, and Pikachu barely caught what he had said. “Reminds me too much of Brother.”

“Pikachu pipi pika chu.”

“I still don’t know what you’re saying and I don’t even know why I bothered talking to you. I do owe you one for rescuing my pokemon though, so, I guess this is the extent of my gratitude.”

And that was the end the conversation as Paul resumed his mending. He was about half way done with his sewing when Ash stirred in his sleep. The brunet rolled around while muttering something. Paul didn’t pay it much mind until he heard Ash yelling his name before the boy flew over the edge and landed on the floor as a lump under tangled sheets.


Ash only twitched in response. He laid there for a moment and Paul wondered if he had gone back to sleep.

“…Are you going to lay there for the rest of the day?”

There was movement and Ash made to remove the sheet that covered his face. His eyes adjusted to the scenery from his position on the floor. And then his eyes landed on Paul, who sat tentatively but looked on with a raised eyebrow.

The rival saw something change in the boy on the floor. It might have been the way Ash scrunched his eyebrows or the impassive expression on his face but Paul noticed the slight dim in his hazel eye that were usually so full of vigor. He hoped it was just because Ash had woken up but something told him that Ash wouldn’t look that depressed over lost sleep.

“…Are you okay? You’ve been laying there for quite a while.”

“Paul…” Ash called out weakly.

The voice sounded so pathetic but Paul heard it as a plea. It baffled him why Ash would call out to him in such a tone but what confused him more was the dull ache in his chest due to the boy’s cry. He had never heard his name said in such a sad way.

“You let go of me,” Ash whispered, “in my dream.”

The boy grasped the air with an extended arm to emphasize his point. There was evidence of some wetness around his eye but Ash didn’t do anything to remove of its traces. He was so shaken up by his dream, he didn’t want to close his eyes or he might recall the memory too clearly.

Paul didn’t know how to respond to that. It wasn’t like he had actually released Ash’s hand and let him fall to his doom. He shouldn’t have felt bad; he was not at fault and he had no obligations to comfort the other. But Ash was upset and Paul didn’t like how pathetic (not to mention out of character) that was, so it was only natural that he would want to do something about it.

“It was just a dream. Don’t think too much about it, it wasn’t real.”

Ash blinked back the tears at Paul’s words. He sighed, but Ash knew the other boy was right. It had not actually happened and there was no point in worry about it. He tried to reassure himself with a mantra in his head but it didn’t soothe the heavy burden in his heart that felt like betrayal. Pikachu was by his side, a little more sympathetic than Paul. He cooed and patted Ash’s face with his tiny paws.

“I’ll be fine Pikachu. I guess I’ll go take a shower, to clear my head.”

The boy stood up, placing the covers back on the bed and trudged into the bathroom, closing the door behind him without a word. Pikachu hopped back onto the bed and glared at the other occupant of the room expectantly. Paul pretended to be occupied with his sewing and ignored the pokemon. He knew his words hadn’t exactly helped in Ash’s emotional case, but they were the only things Paul would allow himself to say.

When Ash reemerged from the bathroom, he had a towel over his head so it was hard to read any facial expressions, but Paul could tell that he was still somber from earlier. The brunet sat in silence as he dried off his hair. Pikachu was by his side, twittering excitedly about something that Paul still didn’t understand. The pokemon’s chatter worked a little because Ash laughed lightly. He removed the towel from his head and glanced up at the other trainer, who promptly went back to his sewing when he saw dark eyes on him.

Paul finally finished mending the strap of his backpack, testing its strength a few times before replacing the sewing kit to its proper form. Ash was sat quietly watching him. It unnerved him a bit to have such expectant eyes following his every movement but Paul didn’t show it. He got up from his bed, shrugging on the bag with everything already packed and prepared for departure.

“It’s almost lunch time and neither of us has eaten since yesterday. You should go get breakfast.”

“What about you? Aren’t you eating?” Ash tilted his head to the side. “I mean… can’t we go together, to get food?”

Paul just raised an indifferent eyebrow. Ash bit back the frown that was quick to form. He really disliked the fact that his rival was so ready to get rid of him, despite everything they had gone through together. Or maybe he was just pathetic because he admit that he had grown quite fond of Paul and he liked being in the other’s company. And maybe Ash wanted to spend more time with him on his own will and not because they were forced to do so.

“You have Pikachu and your friends to do that with.”

The mauve haired trainer made to move for the door but was stopped when there was a hand on his shoulder. He didn’t have to turn around because Ash had walked up to face him with irritation and a scowl.

“So you’re just going to walk out of here without eating first?”

“I never said I wasn’t going to eat, I just said I wasn’t going with you.”

“But we’re heading to the same place.”

“Yes but I don’t necessarily have to be there when you are.”

There was a pause where both boys just glared at the other in hopes of moving the other.

“…Do you really not want me around that much?” Ash finally sighed in resignation.

“I prefer to be alone, if you haven’t noticed.”

Ash shouldn’t have to fight with that. It was Paul’s preference after all but he still took it personally that the other didn’t want to be near him. And it didn’t help that Ash felt like if Paul walked out the door right now, he would lose him forever. He knew it was silly, but his worries from last night, along with his dream just added extra anxiety that came out as stubbornness. Pikachu went to his trainer and looked up to Paul with pleading eyes.

“This is ridiculous. Ash, move.”

“No!” Ash yelled, surprising the other two along with himself from his outburst. “Just… can we just eat together, one last time before we leave?”

Paul blinked at the choice of words and the begging tone. And then he realized Ash’s desperation. Or at least he had some idea of why the other boy sounded like they were never going to meet again. It wasn’t even about eating together anymore. He scoffed and rolled his eyes.

“Are you still hung up over that dream? I thought I told you to forget about it. It’s no good to be weighed down by useless things. At this rate, you’re never going to beat me, not with that attitude.”

A vein of anger struck Ash. It was the kind of mockery that the old Paul would throw at him and it always worked in setting him off. Ash found himself fisting the material of his rival’s jacket, jostling Paul a bit but he didn’t seem surprised.

“You don’t understand! I can’t just- I don’t know why I bother with you, you’re so- You-“

Ash couldn’t find the proper words. He was so angry at his rival but he was also angry at himself for feeling this way. Why couldn’t he be as calm as Paul, who could put aside anything and just move on? Why did he have to be so stuck on this guy that the thought of him leaving would seem like the end of his world? Why?

Paul put a hand on Ash’s wrist. Ash bristled at the contact, knowing full well that it was Paul’s way of asking to be released but the touch brought him back to the time when they outran the pack of Mightyena. He wasn’t sure if it was evident what he was thinking, or Paul just knew, because the other leaned in and whispered lightly.

“I hadn’t let go back then. I could have left you, but I didn’t. You trusted me back then, why can’t you now?”

Ash’s heart jumped. Paul was right though. From the very moment they were thrown off the cliff, to escaping from the Mightyena, walking through the marsh, to leaping out of Team Rocket’s balloon, Paul had been there with him the entire time. If Ash let him leave now, would Paul still be there? His grip on the jacket only tightened, Ash lowered his head and answered in hushed tone.

“I don’t want you to leave.”

It was almost too low for him to hear but Paul heard it. His throat felt dry and he had no idea how to react to the confession. He hadn’t realized the extent of how much the other boy had grown attached to him. It was a burden since Paul never wanted to have to do with Ash in the first place, but the trembling hold on the fabric of his jacket and the shaking boy in front of him told him that it was a burden he couldn’t leave alone. His hold on Ash’s hands grew soft and Paul thought to console him.

Except there was a knock on the door and the sound of Ash’s friends on the other side that prevented Paul from saying anything. The two boys broke away from the other and stood back far enough so that it didn’t seem so incriminating when Brock and Dawn entered the room.

“Oh, so you are up. I’m glad to see you’re both in better condition. It’s noon already though, and I don’t think Ash has had anything to eat in a while. I’m surprised you haven’t gone downstairs yet Ash.”

Brock surveyed the two boys, who looked away from the other. He wondered briefly if something happened between the two. The sound of Ash’s stomach broke his thought and Dawn was quick to poke fun of her friend’s internal food clock.

“You should join us as well Paul. I’m sure you’re just as hungry.” Brock offered, somewhat to be polite but also because he was genuinely concerned. And maybe they could finally get the story of why they were found together when it was Ash who had gone missing alone.

Ash looked up at hearing Brock’s invitation and then hopefully over to Paul. His rival just shrugged and muttered a low “sure, why not?” The smile on Ash’s face could not be contained. He didn’t say anything to Paul, despite his eagerness, and just made to grab his back pack, ready to leave.

It actually wasn’t too awkward sitting with Ash’s group, despite the girl’s suspicious glare. Paul really was hungry and ate more than he normally would, but it still didn’t compare to the amount of food that Ash had piled on his plate. He hadn’t expected such an appetite in a scrawny boy like Ash. He only guessed that was the reason the boy was able to expend so much energy.

As he slowly finished his meal, Paul could tell that the older friend wanted to ask something of him. The girl was still giving him shifty eyes, despite not even having said a word to her.

“Can I help you with something?”

“Yeah, I’m just curious but what exactly happened?” Brock finally voiced his curiosity. “Ash went to get water with Pikachu and he didn’t come back. And when did you come around Paul?”

Ash looked up from his food, chewing rapidly so he could swallow and answer but Paul spoke up before he could.

“I was chasing after a pokemon. I met him by the river. Team Rocket had attacked us and then this guy jumped off a cliff to save Pikachu.”

Dawn gasped and Brock blinked, though wasn’t surprised by his friend’s actions. Ash finally swallowed his food and took a sip of orange juice before continuing where Paul left off. He explained that Team Rocket had captured Pikachu and they got away but Paul had saved him from the fall. Pikachu broke into the conversation then and Ash was able to figure out how his friend had gotten away safely, which he promptly translated to the rest of the group. Ash was the one who told his friends that Team Rocket had technically taken Paul’s pokemon as well.

“So Paul didn’t have any pokemon with him either?”

Paul looked away from Dawn, who had asked the question. Seeing Paul’s reaction, the coordinator only gaped at him in disbelief. She hoped Ash hadn’t encountered too much trouble with such a handicap and bad company. Ash informed her about how they had to outrun the pack of wild Mightyena and how they ate apples and berries for three days. Paul also added in Ash’s excessive bumbling, which earned

him a glare and an indignant outburst from said boy. Brock watched the two interact, curious and amused by their development. The air between the two had mellowed out quite a bit from what the breeder could tell.

“And Team Rocket showed up again, and then you guys came in and Torterra saved us, and that’s about it.”

Ash also wanted to mention their adventures in the marshes but he decided against it, as that was mostly his discovery of Paul’s nicer side and he liked the idea of keeping it his own pleasant memory. He watched his friends interacting with his rival as he took a few more bites out of his breakfast. There was a sense of normalcy that Ash hadn’t realized he missed, except that Paul was sitting with the rest of his friends and the picture seemed much more complete. Paul was surprisingly civil, as opposed to how Ash remembered him back in Oreburgh City. He wondered if their latest trip had to do with the change in Paul’s attitude towards Brock and Dawn, and himself as well.

“Ah!” Ash cried out. The last piece of bacon had slipped off his fork while his mind had wandered. He pouted lightly at the loss.

Dawn only chuckled and shook her head at her friend’s same old behavior, but it was obvious she was glad for his safety. “No need to worry” was just about right; Ash managed to pull through and was back without too many fatal injuries. She couldn’t help but feel there was something different about him though. It wasn’t any physical difference, but Dawn noticed the way Ash would occasionally glance at his rival and she wondered if there was more to their story that Ash had not revealed.

“I suppose I should get going.” Paul stood up, taking his tray in his hands.

He felt Ash’s gaze on him but he didn’t look at the other. He nodded politely at Brock and thanked him for allowing him to eat with them. He also bowed lightly in acknowledgement of Dawn’s presence, to which she awkwardly bowed back, slightly shocked.

Dawn opened her mouth to comment about Paul as soon as he left the room but she held her words noticing the suddenly gloomy Ash. The boy still held his eating utensils but it was obvious he wasn’t too concentrated on his meal.

“Ash, are you okay?”

The boy looked up at the call of his name, and threw on a smile to reassure the girl but Dawn was not stupid. Brock just sighed.

“Go after him Ash. You still have something to say to him, right?”

Ash wasn’t sure how much Brock knew, but the younger boy wasn’t surprised by it. He put down his fork and spoon and muttered a quick “I’ll be right back guys” before dashing out the dining hall. Pikachu sat still at the table. Despite having been torn from his best friend for days, Pikachu knew that Ash needed to talk to Paul alone.

“…Brock, do you know what’s going on between those two?”

The pokemon breeder shrugged lightly and patted her on the shoulder.

“I can’t say for sure but I think they'll be fine.”

Paul stopped and turned to the other boy, who was breathing hard but tried not to show it. Ash slowed to a few feet where Paul stood. He hadn’t run too far but he found that his heart was pounding rapidly against his chest anyway.

“I, uh-“ Ash started but realized he had no idea what he wanted to say. In the rush to catch up to Paul he hadn’t thought of the appropriate words only that he had to stop his rival from leaving.

Instead, he thrust out an open hand to his rival. Ash swallowed back the dry lump in his throat and breathed in.

“I won’t forget this. And everything that happened.” He finally confessed. "Thanks for everything."

Silence fell between the two boys. Ash put everything in that final gesture. He hoped Paul understood what he meant by it. Will whatever happened between them remain intact or will it revert back to like before? Ash wasn’t sure he would be able to handle the cold shoulders and ignored greetings.

Paul looked at the other boy in question. The gloved hand beckoned him, as did Ash’s expression.

The hand that Paul had shoved in his pockets unfurled and he found himself taking Ash's hand. He hadn't even intended on doing so because every fiber in his mind was telling him he couldn't afford this, but apparently his body had reacted against his wishes.

The smile that lit Ash's face and the light squeeze that held his fingers told Paul that maybe perhaps he didn't always need to rely on what his brain told him. It was, in fact, instinct that threw him off the cliff to catch Ash from falling in the beginning. What was it about Ash that made him want to act and not think?

"I'll see you around then?"

Paul looked down at their connected hands. The firm hold between them warmed him up from the inside. It was strange but not unpleasant, just unfamiliar.

"Ah. See you."

Even as he let go, the feeling stayed with him. Paul took one last look at Ash before heading off to his next destination.

Ash let out a sigh that he didn't know he was holding. His chest still thumped rapidly but he felt better than ever. His hand still tingled with the remnants of Paul's warmth. With a smile on his face, he adjusted his hat and head back to the Pokemon Center where his friends were waiting for him.

So it's been like... 3 years since I last updated. I uh- I figured it'd be about time I release this into the wild and let it go because I've kept it caged for so long it wasn't going to get better by itself. I was really hesitant on posting this before fixing up the whole thing with Ash and his dream but I just couldn't think of an alternative. (I don't even think that scene was part of my original plans, but then again, I don't think I even had written plans down.)

If this chapter/final was kind of lack luster and reminiscent of the end part of Huck Finn's adventures then I apologize. It could have been worst. I could have ended it with Paul not accepting Ash's friendship. (Which I originally was going to do. And make it up with another fic/sequel where they actually get together but I couldn't find it in myself to finish that)

But yeah, thanks to everyone who actually stuck around long enough to read this. ;w; I'm sorry for the terrible ending but at least you guys can get it off your minds now. Wow I started this fic in like 2009. My writing style has changed since then.

---- Go to Chapter 1 - 2 - 3 & 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - Omake - 8----

MISAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! OHMYGOOOOD YOU FINISHED IT!! You could have warned me a little i almost had a heart attack this morning when I saw what you had posted (and then ofc was late for school because there was NO WAY i was gonna wait any longer before reading this)! I was just talking to Kirika yesterday how I didn't know what to offer you so you'd write coma just one more time and then this happens. I can't even begin to describe how happy i was and still am, I knew my waiting wasn't for nothing! Alright, since this is probably my favorite multichapter comafic I am going to comment the whole fic now that it's finished, because my earlier comments from years ago are awful and short.

So! The first chapter- I know I've said this about thousand times already but the way you write Ash and Paul is just... I don't know, magnificent? No one writes them better than you! Your Ash isn't just dense goofball but has pride and doesn't let Paul just insult him without saying/doing anything back. And I feel like he isn't full deredere who just wants to be friends with Paul, but the start of their relationship has some let's say... aggressive tones as well (sorry i am bad at explaining, it's been too long since I've written character analyses to my comments :'D). And Paul, damn if I love the way you write Ash, I'm in love with your Paul. Like, he's jerk, but not like jerk-jerk. He tries to ignore Ash, but isn't some kind of cold hearted bastard who just lets Ash to fall without catching him. And I may as well say it here - i love the whole plot of this fic, the two of them surviving on their own and growing closer in process (yes, i am sucker for this kind of stories).

Chapter two! Ash landing on top of Paul was golden! I liked the reference to that episode (and Ash even mentioning that it felt familiar). Also here again, I love how Paul gives Ash advice how to survive the fall and even when he lands first, he right away tries to see whether Ash made it down safe or not, rather than just ignoring the other's safety. And somehow it was so Ash to come down screaming and generally not being on the top of his falling game, like Paul was. Yeah yeah i already said it before but your Paul<33 he doesn't start to shout at Ash for landing on top of him but acts really calm instead. You write the best Paul, dammnn. And if in first chapter Ash was rather "aggressive" (bad choice of words gomen) in this chapter comes the bit where he asks for Paul's help and sucks up his pride. ALSO there's the part where:

“I’m only helping you so you can get your Pikachu back. That’s the only thing you’re good for anyway.”

Ash smiled silently to himself. Despite the insult, he was really glad that Paul would be willing to help him in time of need.

And I'll come to this later, but probably the saddest part of this fic are the parts where Ash actually feels like he's useless/failed somehow. I mean he doesn't get all upset here because of Paul's words but is rather happy instead because Paul agrees to help, but still I feel like feeling is already looming here. ... ok i have no idea what I'm explaining anymore, next chapter(s)!

What I probably like the most in your Paul (ok i like all the things when it comes your paul) is the way he shows his kindness. Like little things - Ash is hungry - Paul gets him some apples, but in a way that still seems like he's pissed off because of Ash. But again, he still acts nice, and no matter how hard he tries to act like Ash is just a total burden, he still finds himself helping his rival all the time. (Yeeep yeep so he needed Ash's help as well because no pokemon with him BUT STILL he could be colder if he wanted, but he isn't!) Aaaand I like how Ash is still a but bummed he has to hang out with Paul of all people, and not see this as a 100% opportunity to befriend his rival or something. AND I ADORE when Ash is left speechless when Paul shows him some kindness (apple scene for example), like he's just stunned the other can actually be nice on his own way (also it's kinda sad that Ash thinks that Paul never shows him any kindness, I mean yeah I get why he thinks so, but still).

Paul is Paul, no matter what you’re going through. He’s equally as lost as you are and he’s helping you, so you might as well not do anything stupid that might make him angry---

Here it is again, Ash thinking he shouldn't do anything stupid to make Paul angry. Like if does a goofy/stupid thing X with his friends, he probably doesn't think it's stupid, but when Paul's around Ash suddenly is more self aware of his own doings and how the other might think of them. I just feel like Paul ignoring/insulting him gets to him more than Paul even understands. And it's kinda a new side of Ash, he doesn't just get angry when Paul insults him but little depressed instead. I like it, because I feel like it brings something more to Ash's character. And yeah, it was a thing in dp too but it feels like you made it even better here! (i need to stop analyzing right nOW)

That mightyena part is one of my fav from this fic! Paul trying to protect Ash, and Ash still not believing any of that and thinking Paul's gonna use him as a bait instead. But being Ash it's not like he was gonna leave Paul to danger after all (hnggg seriously the two of them protecting each other!!!! I AM DEAD) AND THEN HANDHOLDING. okay, first wristholding, but damn you really know how make me die multiple times. Coma + hand/wristholding =insta KO.


“Don’t let go.” Paul muttered.

Ash thought he meant “don’t let go of your breath” but then the grip on his wrist slid down to his hand and suddenly he felt horrible for thinking Paul would betray him.

THAT PART OHGODDD. the "don't let go", I just HNGDKFSDLSKDJKF SERISOULSY HNGGGG. I guess part of that part's impact is the fact that Paul's been pretty unsocial with Ash so far and then suddenly he's holding his hand and telling him not to let go. Also I feel like this kinda the turning point, where Ash stops thinking Paul is ... eeh what's the word again... well "bad" guy and starts seeing that he can actually be nice. Anyway, this whole end to the fourth chapter is awesome and I send you million kilos of cookies for writing it!!!

Ash didn’t notice until now that their hands were still clasp together. He felt a little thump in the back of his heart but he just figured it was from the adrenaline of being chased and escaping.

Continued handholding even when the danger is already over<333 And I understand Ash, if Paul was holding my hand I'd feel a thump in my heart too. You just write the interaction so natural and their feelings come across really nicely and not overly fluffy. It's almost like a friendship kind of thing, but you can sense something more behind it (thank you shipper goggles!). And gotta love that even when Paul has done some nice things for Ash (healing his arm a little), he still uses (the excuse!) "you're gonna be more useless if don't do these things to you" thing to justify his actions. Such good tsun, just the right amount! :D AND THE WHOLE PAUL CARRYING ASH PART AAAAAA WHY DO YOU WRITE EVERYTHING SO PERFECTLY!? This is the most feels worthy comafic ever!

And then the part where they are by the fire and Ash saying he's sorry for slowing Paul down again, and I don't know Ash just... it's cute and sad at the same time how he puts himself to so low. Like in first chapter he was all "watch it!" with Paul but now he's just "sorry" for the things he keeps doing. I think it also shows how Ash wants Paul to respect him and feels upset everytime he messes up, because the respect thing goes further and further away (or so Ash thinks.) (oops i thought I said i was gonna stop with the analyse and just fangirl the rest of the comment BECAUSE THIS FIC IS SO GREAT DID I ALREADY TELL YOU THAT!?)

Not that Ash had any problems with his confidence but when it came to his rival, he just wanted Paul to recognize him; recognition not only in the sense of a trainer but also as a person. He didn’t like how the other would pretend not to know him sometimes or ignore him completely in front of everyone else.

In the sixth chapter that something stirring in Paul's heart!! I like how when Paul saved Ash, Ash was getting the dokis and now when Paul thinks of Ash saving him back then HE'S GETTING THE DOKIS. And the usual denial that comes with it. Anyway it's good to see Paul is finally getting out of his Ash-is-useless mindset, even a little. The best of the best of the beeeeeest part of this fic is the character development. Never does it feel rushed or forced even when this isn't the longest fic around. It's just perfect. LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS (though no kissu BUT I CAN LIVE WITH THAT)! Because you give us Paul laughing!! Ash keeps messing up for so long Paul finally gives in and laughs (and starts to think his rival's clumsiness is actually cute BD)

The Veilstone trainer made a motion with his hand, but this time, Ash saw that Paul’s eyes had averted elsewhere. The only possible conclusion Ash could draw was that Paul wanted him to take his hand.

THEN MORE HANDHOLDING, MISAAAA MY WEAK SPOTS!!! Heheee i like how it's Paul the both times that wants to hold hands (Ash wouldn't probably dare to even suggest it). It's just so sweet!! how they say, the harder the tsun, sweeter the dere. Deffo the case here! And excuses like "you don't how to walk, hold my hand" makes it even better and PAUL NOT LOOKING AT ASH! So he doesn't think it's purely so that they can walk faster BDD HNGG ASh getting the huge dokis bc of their handholding! Yes the ending of chapter six is also one of my fav moments in this fic, because Paul's reddening ears! (uuung i am almost out of energy sorry if the comment gets crappy for now on)

alright my comment for the seventh chapter was somewhat decent so i am just gonna say that the top moments of this chapter were when a) ash finally understood paul better (that he too cared about his pokemon) b)

The Veilstone trainer shook his head from the mental image but for some reason he continued to stare at the water dripping down Ash’s tan neck. Paul swallowed the nervous lump that accumulated in his throat and looked away. What was that all about?

PAUL GETTING THE HOTS!!! Ash smiling sheepishly and Paul being all "oh no he's hot" (even though it doesn't say that i read Paul like a book here !!! :'D)

He wasn’t sure when he noticed it, but Ash’s smile was quite charming. It was kind of childish, full of innocence and spunk, but that pretty much described Ash. The Veilstone boy did recall several times when Ash would direct a grin towards him but Paul always found a way to erase it. He wondered why he could not stop staring at it now.

MORE HOTS! It's like suddenly Paul notices all these things about Ash (about how good he looks). It's goes together with my headcanon for them (who notices who first) so i am pleased! And Paul is still super IC, well it's probably a common knowledge already that you can't even write them OOC even if you tried! Oh yeah was I making a list of my fav part, okay so c) Ash blushing when their handholding is brought to attention. So the both of them did think something more of it (even when they tried to rationally explain things to themselves hehee). d) Paul saying "Ash", in fact the whole escape from the TR balloon is such an emotional part. Maybe it's the danger or the fact that they actually get along now, but it's different from the mightyena attack, this one feels a lot more calmer (hehe more ship heavy too). Gotta copypaste my favorite line from the fic again:

“I’m sorry. I messed up again.”

I just... i frikking LOVE that line! Ash's has said plenty of sorries in this fic, but now they were finally starting to feel like a equal duo and Paul isn't really mad at him anymore, so that sorry part just... MY HEART! It hurts my heart so much (because of all the right reasons), but i lovelovelovelove that part. And the whole falling, and handholding part. Suck emotional impact on me! Also when they are falling and Paul calls Ash useless again but with a smile this time. THEY HAVE COME SUCH A LONG WAY IN SUCH A SHORT TIME *SOBS* and still EVERYTHING'S SO NATURAL!

Ok this comment is starting to be longer than some of my fics... But hey only chapter 8 left!! (after that long wait *sobs again* did i tell you already that i love you for finishing this, even when you haven't written coma for so long anymore <33 (....now i am also starting to hope you'll write more coma in the future too... because you are the best writer this fandom has)

END OF PART 4 (this is ridiculous)
My first reaction when reading the last chapter: GODDAMN COCKBLOCK DAWN AND BROCK! I WAS HOLDING MY BREATH AT THAT SCENE I WAS SURE SOME WORDS WERE GONNA BE SAID BUT THEN THE FUCKING KNOCK ON THE DOOR! Okay but anyway, beautiful end to this beautiful fic! Ash not wanting to his time with Paul to come to an end even when in the beginning he found the company rather unpleasant. And Paul too, STILL trying to convince himself that "hurdur i was only using ash i am not lonely without him", STOP THE DENIAL! It's cute how they both feel they don't want things to go back to the pre-this fic era, (even when Paul especially is STRONG with his denial) where they were JUST rivals. I have to say, now that i remember, that the name for this fic is really matching and perfect. You couldn't have picked a better one. :D oH BOY then the whole Paul-Pikachu conversation. Idk, I love when Paul talks about Ash to other persons (or pokemon) because he forgets to act as tsun as what he is when talking to Ash. And things regarding to Ash come out more gentle (whether Paul wants them to come or not)

They even almost go back to the chapter 1 Ash and Paul where Ash shouts again and Paul is acting all cold. Ok gotta quote some my fav part of this final chapter:

He wasn’t sure if it was evident what he was thinking, or Paul just knew, because the other leaned in and whispered lightly.

“I hadn’t let go back then. I could have left you, but I didn’t. You trusted me back then, why can’t you now?”

PAUL'S LINE KILLED ME (how many death was that already) aND GAVE me serious goosebumps! This, I know I talked about this in comment for chapter 7, but these kind of small scenes, nothing overly shippy, and yet FEELS! You are really a master of these, small and efficient!!!


“I don’t want you to leave.”

It was almost too low for him to hear but Paul heard it. His throat felt dry and he had no idea how to react to the confession.

ASHHHHHHHHH AAAAAAAAA. Winner line of this chapter (heheee i loved it so much i even ended up doodling fanart of this scene in the class)! I can't even explain why i love this part so much, it just hits all the right feels and andd... the fucking knock on the door. Before Paul could answer anything. But that's your style in coma, there aren't really any big shippy moments and everything is usually left pretty open. BUT I LOVE YOUR FICS THE MOST ANYWAY! Even if "nothing" (it's pretty wrong to say nothing happens in your fics because suff DOES happen, but nothing = kissy etc.) happens, your fics are never just G- rated friendshippy stuff. In fact, it's like comashipping itself. No touching, no shinji calling satoshi by his name, but they are still incredibly shippy. Just like your fics. Good stuff.

AND THEN THE ENDING. I am glad, i am soo glad. They shake hands, they acknowledge each other, Paul ACCEPTS the friendship (seriously if you had written that ending where he doesn't and never wrote the sequel I.....) and I feel Ash can finally stop feeling inferior and thinking he's stupid when he messes up in front of Paul. Perfect.

Oh boy wow now I remember why I stopped writing long comments for fics, this seriously kills the man. But this is special case and I felt like I had to show my gratitude to you somehow :'D I am sorry for (wrongly) over analysing everything, I don't even remember anymore what I have written here and I am not going to read this comment over again.... you can just ignore everything else except the OMG THIS FIC IS THE BEST AND YOU ARE THE BEST parts!

SO summa summarium: I love this fic, I love the plot, I love the characters, I love the development, I love you for writing this. Sorry if I couldn't explain things better and sorry if this whole comment is a giant mess, but I tried. Also maybe hoping you will write some more coma in the future.

Oh gosh Zino I'm just- I have no words, I'm so happy that you like it that much because I was sure it was going to disappoint after so long. Ahhhhhhhhhh

I'm surprised you were able to analyze so much in these two. I love reading all of it. I wished I made Ash more capable because I know he is IRL but a part of me likes seeing him mess up around Paul, and the other part of me wants Paul to take care of him. XP

IM SORRY FOR THE COCKBLOCK. I still wasn't ready to write anything more than extreme friendship with underlying feelings. Will I ever be ready? Who knows.

Actually I decided to finally get around to posting it because I was playing your Kokoro no Fanfare. Oh man, I got serious dokis when I got to the head pat scene. >w<
You could never disappoint when it comes to your writing?!! (lol my analyzes! But yeah, nothing wrong with wanting to Paul take care of Ash! I want it too!!)

Aah, excellent, so the demo did do something good then! :D (Let me tell you everytime I try to come up with something that happens in Paul's route it's always like: "Oh this could be cool! ...Oh wait, Misa already wrote that." I shouldn't have put them in the forest, everything hits too close to this fic! :'D