Title: The Best Of Times: Trailing for Hope
Chapter 42: Catch My Heart, Go Swim, or What If I Left You Half Just To Keep Me Whole
Rating: T, for language I guess. If the rating changes, you'll be the second to know.
Disclaimer: I don't own any aspect of Twilight and all its proceedings, they continue to belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Summary: Ava Swan never expected to move to Forks, Washington, permanently. Then again, she never expected to be imprinted on by a hot-headed shape-shifter either. ...No Bella, or Edward-bashing. Follows storyline from "New Moon". Despite my attempts to write a believable Paul/OC fic, there's no way I can make this sound original, ever.

Notes: I apologize for any grammatical errors, as I've started summer classes and I'm gonna combust. :,)

b.o.c.n. Here's the moment everyone has been waiting for! Without giving tooo much away, just know there's going to be more Paul/Ava moments after this chapter *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*

P.S. If I missed something grammatical or something doesn't make sense, please PM me and let me know!

Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed, followed, and favorited! :)

"I'm sorry." Bella breathed out, keeping her head ducked. "For...everything."

A few long seconds passed before I responded, twirling a dark brown strand of hair tightly with my index finger, "it...it's okay. It's not like you meant to have some crazy vampire go after you."

I saw a small smile cross Bella's curtained face and she looked up to meet my eyes. "No, that wasn't the plan," she replied, rocking slightly on her heels. "But, as of late, nothing has really gone to plan."

Humming quietly in accord, I looked over my shoulder, noticing everyone was still staring at us. We were a little ways away; I was leaning against the side of the hood of the truck while Bella stood in front of me.

"Seems that way lately."

Suddenly Bella reached for me, hesitating for a second when she remembered the cut that was spread across my hand. "Your hand. Oh, my god, I'm so sorry."

In a moment of amusement, I lifted my wounded hand and waved it around in a chaffing manner. "Hey, war wounds are cool."

"Ava…" She frowned, blinking rapidly and looking down at her feet. "I'm so sorry."

"Can you stop apologizing," I mocked lightly, lowering my hand. "It happened, there's no use in saying sorry all the time. What's done is done."

Bella met my eyes again, a pained expression on her face. I knew that she felt responsible about everything and in reality, it wasn't unwarranted. But I wasn't one to cry and moan about it.

She continued staring and I met her gaze. There was a pause before Bella pointed weakly to her truck. "Do you...want a ride? I'm going to Edward's."

I appreciated the offer but shook my head. "I'm heading to Emily's for now to stay the night. We should head back home tomorrow, though. Pick me up?"

"Yeah, of course," Bella agreed quickly, already trying to wrap an arm around me to walk me back.

I quickly slapped her hands away. "I'm fine. I can walk."

"Hobble," Bella corrected, a light tone to her voice.

10:23 PM. Emily Young and Sam Uley's House.

Ava slipped the cloth from her wrist and peeled it away, groaning quietly when she realized that it had stuck to the wound that was caked in blood. She noted gratefully that it wasn't bleeding anymore, meaning she didn't have to tell Carlisle.

Though when she noticed the state of the broken skin of her palm, she second-guessed. It wasn't pretty. The gash was ragged and diagonal, nearly two inches across and the skin surrounding it was tinged a soft red. Her fingers felt stiff and the mere action of moving them caused the cut to open and close painfully.

With her rotten luck it was probably infected.

She turned the kitchen faucet on with her free hand once the cloth was fully freed from the dried blood and she quickly ran her hand under it once. She hissed in pain, flushed pink water dripping down. With another bout of bravery, she held it under again, this time until the water that ran down was clear.

"Ouch." She let out a sudden breath when she removed her hand and the settled air in the kitchen hit.

Noticing the smeared blood that stained the skin down her arm, she grabbed a paper towel, wetting it and wiping away as best she could. She bit the inside of her cheek when the red splotches that had marred her wrist because of Victoria were slowly blossoming into darker shades. Maneuvering her arm to check her upper arm where Edward had grabbed her, it matched her wrist.

"Fuck," she cursed again, trying to think of how to hide them. Makeup surely wouldn't do anything–she was taking into account the encroaching harsh coloring–and touching it too much with brushes and concealer didn't sound like a good idea. She could always just wear jackets and long-sleeves and-

"You need to clean it." The voice directly over her shoulder startled her and she leaned further into the counter, lifting her injured leg instinctively.

"Jesus Christ, you're like a shadow."

"You need to clean it," Paul repeated.

Ava squinted and lifted her brows, gesturing lightly to the sink. "I just did."

"With that…fucking, cut stuff." He waved vaguely at her hand, keeping back the scowl on his face. It looked way worse than he thought and he struggled with the rage directed at the Cullens.

"Do you mean the antibiotic thing?" Ava snorted in amusement, unaware of his inner turmoil.

"What-fucking-ever," he mumbled under his breath, beginning to rummage through the plastic first-aid box that Emily had given Ava when they arrived.

"I don't need it, though," Ava tried, still insisting that it felt better than it looked. "Just need some gauze."

"You need the antibiotic shit," he replied firmly, leaving no room for discussion. He brandished the white tube. "This. You need this."

"I don't," she insisted, sighing heavily before continuing, "I think I need to go see Carlisle."

Paul dropped the tube, narrowing his eyes. As much as he didn't want her anywhere near them, he had to agree begrudgingly. He reached for the white gauze, Ava silently raising her hand for him to wrap it for the time being.

He couldn't help his next comment: "Try not to do this anymore." He glanced at her quickly as he continued wrapping her palm.

Ava couldn't find the energy to argue and she only pursed her lips. "I'll try."

"And I think you're going to need stitches," Paul continued carefully. Ava recoiled, pulling her hand towards her. "No way."

"What do you expect from going to see Dr. Leech? He's going to say the same thing and you need to close the cut."

"Then I won't go see him," Ava resolved.

"Too bad," he shot back, taping down the end after pulling her hand back towards him. "This is infected."

"How would you know," she snarked.

"Will you just listen to me for once?" He let out an annoyed breath, releasing her and taking a step back.

She didn't answer, instead swatting his hands away when he tried to help her walk towards the living room. Collapsing on the couch, she tilted her head up in exhaustion; Ava could hear the loud chatter of everyone outside, planning their trip to go visit Jacob in the morning.

Paul followed her actions silently, sitting on the opposite couch and keeping his eyes locked on her, feeling a deep-rooted, hollow feeling settle in his chest. She looked worse for wear, almost like she'd pass out from today's events at any second. The contours of her face were more defined, a tell-tale sign of her exhaustion, and the darkened shades underneath her eyes were sunken.

Still, he noticed the shape of her lips and the slope of her nose that was nestled charmingly on her face. The splay of small, varying specks of brown at the highest points of her cheekbones, and the slight rounded shape of her face. She always manages to look beautiful despite everything.

Imprinting didn't even feel like the reason for thinking this way anymore–Paul felt as though these were solely his own thoughts and these resonating observations were now drilled into his every cell.

He was in love with her. He was so fucking in love with her that it was maddening.

Catching his eyes when Ava lowered her head, she raised a brow. "What?"

"You look pretty," he replied easily, as if commenting on the weather. And to him, it was exactly that.

An awkward chuckle escaped her and she averted her gaze from him, her challenging and plucky attitude evaporating with his simple words. "Shut up." Was all she managed to say.

She swiped a stray pillow from the side and clutched it to her chest protectively. As much as his words caused an excited flutter in her stomach, hearing his straightforward and brazen tone made her want to cover her face in embarrassment.

A sudden shaky thought crossed her mind and Ava unconsciously tightened her hold on the pillow, ignoring the ache in her hand. Maybe I should tell him now?

Ava chanced a look at Paul and it seemed that he hadn't taken his comment too seriously as he had his eyes shut, head tilted back like hers had been.

I should've told him before he left for the fight. She frowned bitterly, regret filling her mind as she grimaced at his calm features. Then I wouldn't have to worry about it now.

I almost died. Ava realized, glancing down to look at the white gauze that enveloped her hand. I was bleeding in front of two vampires, and now, I'm afraid of a little confrontation?

The thought of telling him anything about her feelings towards him was making her feel nauseous and she could feel the tingle in her hands–though, it was due to her nervousness, not her wound. Ava didn't even know what she would say, only having the rising inclination to say something. When another anxious lurch to her stomach caused her mouth to over-salivate, she felt like she was going to vomit.

She got up, the stiffened pain shooting up her leg and didn't say a word as she tried to slink around the couch. Paul's head straightened up and he moved towards her, his arms trying to support her weight.

Ava ruffled, snapping away from his hands in a panic and whirling around quickly to face him. "Don't touch me."

He reeled back at her sudden shift but continued trying to help. "What are you doing?"

When his warm hands ghosted on her hips, her patience splintered down and she tried to elbow him away. Not expecting to do much, Ava wasn't surprised when he didn't move in the slightest.

"What is wrong with you?" He frowned.

"You," she bit out, wiggling out of his loose grasp when her body vibrated with a shudder. "Leave me alone."

He couldn't have controlled the expression from crossing his face if he tried, the sting of her words hurting worse than anything else he could think of. Ava turned around, breathing heavily and continuing her unsteady walk to the bathroom. With a reverberating slam of the door, she clung onto the white porcelain of the sink and took a shaky breath.

She hadn't wanted to snap at him, making the mistake of watching his expression when she spoke. The look that crossed his face more-than-likely matched her own when she realized what she said and the effect that it had on him. Remembering why she was there, she collapsed next to the toilet, lifting the seat and staring down into the water.

It felt like a woodpecker had taken root in her head and Ava sat down on the floor beside the toilet, leaning against the wall. She rested the side of her head against the wood, shutting her eyes and taking a deep breath. She wasn't sure how long she sat there, willing her head to slow down and the aches across her body to subside.

Everything had hit her at once.

She staggered up, half-heartedly flushing the toilet despite not having used it. She washed her hands quickly, avoiding looking in the mirror as it would only deter her from leaving the bathroom. Creaking the door open, she peeked through and opened it fully when she saw that Paul was still there.

"Sorry." She ambled closer, leaning an arm on the couch and digging her hand into the soft cushions. She could only see the side of his face. "I thought I was going to throw up."

When he didn't reply, a rush of guilt hit her and she maneuvered herself to sit down on the coffee table in the middle of the room. She was facing him but his eyes were focused on the wall behind her.

"I'm sorry," she said slowly. "You were trying to help and I freaked out on you."

"There's more." Was all he said. Ava's face twisted into a puzzled expression.


"There's more," he repeated, his eyes meeting her own in an intense flurry. "There's something else."

"No, there isn't," Ava defended, straightening up her back. "That was it."

"I'm not stupid," he spoke roughly, narrowing his eyes to a significant slant. "Something else is bothering you."

Ava was caught between a rock and a hard place. If she didn't say anything, he'd be angry that she wasn't talking to him. If she did say something, then…well, she would have said something, and the thought of doing that made her chest squeeze uneasily.

"I'm-" She cut herself off, still not having come to a decision.

He continued darting his eyes across her face, waiting for her to continue.

"I think I…" She began, drawing his eyes to bore into her own. Fuck, keep going, just choke it out, already.

Ava switched tactics, hoping to tell him without actually telling him. "When you left me at the campsite, I was angry."

"I know you were." He replied, scoffing slightly. "You tried getting me to stay." This couldn't have been it; there's no way that Ava was acting this strangely because she was pissed about being left behind.

"Exactly!" Ava nearly exclaimed. "I wanted you to stay."

There was a dead silence, only the light chatter from outside being heard. He had on a thoughtful look and Ava wanted to sigh in relief at him actually understanding what she was trying to say. Just as the weight on her shoulders was being lifted, it was slammed back down when he broke the silence with a rough breath.


Ava groaned inwardly. "I wanted you to stay," she repeated slowly, enunciating the words heavily and looking back and forth from each of his eyes. "Stay. With me."

"I know," he repeated just as slowly. "And what?"

Ava frailly stood up and Paul joined her, holding out a tentative hand. She searched his face for a second, using his out stretched arm as a support. "I need you to get this."

"I do," he insisted. For a split second, Ava welled with hope.

That is, until he continued again, "I get it, you're pissed that I left you up there, but what was I supposed to do?"

She gave up, giving him a harsh scowl. He kept his arm that she was using motionless, but he leaned his head back in annoyance. "…What?"

"Am I going to have to spell it out?" Ava muttered to herself.

"What are you talking about?" Paul asked, her skirting around the topic that she very obviously wanted to bring up was starting to frustrate him. He thought his patience with Ava was nearly bottomless, but that idea was steadily being thrown out the window.

"I-" Ava cut herself off again. She wanted to say it already, but she couldn't formulate a coherent thought in her jumbled mess of a brain. The woodpecker was back and in full-force.

Then, with a glance into his deep, concerned brown eyes, her body only reacted.

A small, startled gasp left her own lips once she realized what was happening, but she didn't stop moving.

But…she didn't kiss him.

She only inclined her face towards his, using her grasp on his arm to pull him towards her. His face hovered closer than ever, his nose bumping into hers gently. His eyes had widened in surprise but he didn't move away, snaking his arms instinctively around her back to keep neither of them from toppling over.

She parted her lips prepared to apologize but before a single sound was made, his body reacted. He kissed her. Gently at first, but with a rapidly growing passion.

Ava felt a hand snake to cup the side of her neck as he deepened the kiss.

His other arm remained, his hand falling to her lower back where it splayed widely and pressed her closer. She felt her own hands raise, lacing through his hair, pulling at it unconsciously. All the pain that her body had been experiencing was wiped away, replaced with a heated yearning that she hadn't felt before. Lost in the moment, the warmth that was radiating off him felt like it was pumping sluggishly through her own veins.

She barely noticed when they parted slightly, she released a breathless moan. However, upon reconnecting, his tongue skimmed across her lower lip and all sanity back rushed to her.

With a broken, surprised choke, she jerked back from him. She tripped over the edge of the rug, making it clear across the room before he could even register that she was out of his arms.

Her hand rose, feathering her fingers over her lips.

Their chests were heaving. Paul's eyes stared at her from across the room, something oddly triumphant in his darkened glazed-over expression. The sight of him made her tangled thoughts increase, fueling the heat that had pooled under her skin. He tried walking towards her but with the distance closing quickly, she panicked.

"Wait!" Ava snapped loudly, the sheer volume of her voice freezing him mid-step. Taking a trembling breath, she softened her voice to the usual level, though her eyes had a new, guarded veil across them that he'd never seen before. "Stay right there."

A sole brow shot up in disbelief. "Why?" He breathed out quietly, taking a single step forward.

"This is-this is all too much." As Ava spoke, she gestured to the space between them. She looked down to the floor hopelessly, the pulsating ache of all the movement causing tears to spring in her eyes; her life felt as though it was crumbling all around her. She didn't even notice when Paul didn't heed her request and was now a few steps away.

"I know," he assured carefully, poised in case Ava fell over. She was teetering back and forth. Paul wanted to steady her, but he didn't think getting too close would be a good idea. Especially now.

Remembering what just transpired, Paul felt an unadulterated exhilaration that couldn't be matched with anything else. If he thought his connection was strong before, it had nothing on this new, world-shattering draw to her.

"That wasn't-this-" Ava stuttered out, backing up and pressing against the edge of a shelf. "That wasn't supposed to happen."

Even with her blunt words, Paul still felt as though he was on a high. "It did." He fought to keep the elation from his voice. "It did happen."

"I know it did," Ava replied harshly, her words taking a 180; she side-stepped and brushed past him. Lowering herself onto the couch, her ankle was reverberating with throbs. "I don't need you telling me, I know."

She bent down, lifting the bottom of her jeans carefully and hissing in pain when it brushed past the tender skin of her ankle. Paul lingered by her side, taking the seat next to her; he reached over to help maneuver her leg onto the couch, but he should have expected her reaction.

"I got it," she said quietly, flinching away from him.

She realized that she had to scoot an inch closer to him, and she did so, stacking pillows at the other end of the couch and placing her ankle gently on top. Her back now faced him and when he got up, disappearing through the doorway, she leaned back and rested against the end of the couch he previously occupied.

After a minute, Ava thought she had run him off, the venom laced in her words being uncontrollable. She knew what she was doing was hurtful. But with her and Bella nearly dying earlier, Jacob getting seriously hurt, and now having to worry about her own injuries, Ava had a lot on her plate.

She certainly never pictured telling Paul how she felt by planting one on him without saying another word. Ava had always been a woman of action, but this may have been taking it a little far. But, was she really to blame? Paul was the one that kissed her, all she did was…well, yank him towards her and…kiss him back. She frowned. This really is my fault.

When a crinkle was heard at the end of the couch, she looked up startled to see he was still here. He was holding the ice pack that she had brought from Billy's and discarded into the freezer.

"Thanks," she mumbled as he pressed it onto her ankle. She winced, the pressure causing minuscule twinges to spider up.

He couldn't control her pain, yet, he still frowned. "I'm sorry."

"It's not you," Ava reassured lamely, an underlying double meaning to her words. Before she lost her resolve, she added quickly, "I'm the one who's sorry. About earlier, I didn't mean to yell."

Paul didn't meet her face, tracing the patterns of her socks.

"And the…the kiss, or…" When she trailed off, he felt himself tense up, preparing himself for her rejection if her past reaction was any indication.

"It was, you know, nice…" He darted his eyes to hers momentarily, searching for any sign she was only saying what he wanted to hear. When he didn't find any, he looked back down at the ice pack.

"I don't know what else to say," Ava admitted after his silence. She was quickly realizing that she wasn't any good at this. Paul only kept the pack pressed against her ankle, not offering any sort of solution.

"Paul," she said slowly, keeping her eyebrows raised until he looked at her. "I'm trying to talk to you."

"Well, what do you want me to say?" He asked, trying to keep the frustration from his voice.

"Something." Ava shifted her leg to rest on the coffee table as a silent invite for him to sit down. He took the hint, lowering himself and handing her the ice pack.

"Put this on." Was his demand, and Ava grabbed the cool pack from his hands, pressing it to her ankle again.

"Something else," Ava said lightly.

He leaned his head back. "Like what?"

"I don't know." She frowned, racking her brain. "How you feel about it? You haven't said anything."

That was the final statement that shook him with complete annoyance, he stood up quickly, staring down at Ava's form. With his boiled over temper, he nearly yelled, "you already know how I feel about you, what am I supposed to say?" He brandished a frustrated hand out towards her. "Sorry? I'm sorry, Ava, I'm so fucking sorry for kissing you."

Ava stared at him wide-eyed. She opened her mouth, prepared to ask why he was so angry but she couldn't say anything.

But just as quickly as the irritation enveloped him, it went, and he stalked around the coffee table. Ava watched his actions, his words still sinking in.

"So," she began slowly. "Where are we supposed to go from here?"

"You tell me." Paul chuckled bitterly, stopping and watching her expectantly. "You're the one calling the shots here, Ava, so, you tell me. Where do we go?"

Ignoring his sarcastic tone, Ava heard the truth behind his words. Lifting her shoulders, she said quietly, "I mean, I-I do want to. I want to try, but-"

"But what?" He cut off, fully prepared to go through anything or anyone in the way.

"I don't know," Ava groaned, this conversation stretching far too long. "I don't know, I'm not any good at this." As she finished, she raised her injured hand in the space between the two of them again. "I'm just going to mess things up, we work better as friends."

"How can you know that when we haven't even tried?"

"I just do," she insisted. "Okay, what do you honestly think is going to happen? Because I know. We're going to get together, break up because of something stupid, and go our separate ways, that's what's going to happen."

"Says who?" Paul snapped.

"Me," Ava shot back. "Realistically, the odds of us lasting is next to nothing." She knew what she was going to say next was probably a step too far, but she continued, "we're not Sam and Emily, Paul."

A wounded expression crossed his face, the pain clear in his eyes. The look cleared, replaced with a determined glaze and he pressed on with a scoff to hide the crack in his voice. "Well, I've always liked a challenge."

Ava didn't say anything in response, avoiding looking at him when he took his seat back at her side. She pressed the pack harder against her numb ankle to concentrate on anything else.

"I'm serious, Ava," he continued, not caring that he was begging at this point. He had a chance. He had a chance. "Let's just try, fuck the odds."

His statement settled in the air and she bit her lip harshly, tasting the small tang of metal that seeped from the small mark. Of course Ava wanted to say yes. She wanted to throw caution to the wind and do something for herself for once.

Before her bravery faded, she angled her head towards him. He was right. She couldn't say that they'd be together five years from now, or even five days. All she knew was that it felt like fate every time Paul touched or even looked at her and she was tired of trying to deny it. She was tired of following everyone else's lead. Charlie, Bella, her parents...

Her heart thumped wildly in her chest and she lifted her eyes, uttering the words that would nearly cause his world to stop.


Favorite and Follow! And if you have a second, leave a review and tell me what you think!

e.o.c.n. AaaAAHHHH. Yeah. They're together now, which means way more Paul/Ava. But anywho, we still have a handful of chapters to get into with no rhyme or reason other than to fill in the gap between Eclipse and Breaking Dawn.

Incorrect Quote(s) of the Chapter: this has a lot, i'm sorry lol

Ava: Paul Lahote? Nah, he's such a loser [trips] [hundreds of photos of Paul spill out of her jacket] w-what a fuckign asshole, I-these aren't mine. I'm just [gathering them up frantically, sweating] listen, I just, listen, fuck [thousands more pictures scatter across the floor] shit-fuck-I'm just holding them for a friend, just listen-


Ava: I would rather stand here and bleed out than talk about my feelings.

Paul: [laying upside down on the couch]
Paul: Can you just fucking like me already? Like, I'm cool, I'm pretty. I have beautiful eyebrows.


Ava: Sometimes, I'll start a sentence and I don't even know where it's going. I just hope I find it along the way.


Ava: So, like…do you want to go out with me?
Paul: Let me think about it and consider it carefully.
[3 minutes later]
Paul: I've thought about it and yes, I will marry you.


Ava: Don't say another word.
Paul: ...Fergalicious.
Ava: I said no words!
Paul: Oh, I see how it is. Two weeks ago when we were playing Scrabble it wasn't a word, but now it is. How convenient for you.


Bella: You seem really chill about all this.
Ava: Yeah, I suppose I am.


Ava: It's difficult to have him around all the time.
Ava: He won't leave me alone.
Paul: I made you tea.
Ava, drinking the tea: I didn't ask for tea.


Paul: Truth of dare?
Ava: Truth.
Paul: Do you like me?
Ava: Dare.
Paul: I dare you to tell me-
Ava: Never have I ever-


Ava: Of course, I care about you all equally.
Jacob: We're done, the battle is over.
Ava: Omg, is Paul okay?


Sam: Seth, what do you think are your best qualities?
Seth: My mom thinks I'm handsome, I have a cute face, and sometimes I cry because I love my pack.