A/N: Once Again.
There is a grave on the outskirts of Pallet Town.
It stands alone, on a promontory overlooking the sea. The headstone is worn and weathered, chipped by years of salt and wind. The inscription has long since faded away.
She comes here, often.
It's a reminder, or so she tells herself. Friends should not be forgotten, no more than family estranged. She made a promise, many years ago. A vow that must be kept.
She goes by many names. The Chosen One; Aura's Flower; Rainbow Hero; Champion. All of them feel like a hollow shell, a badge worn without any honor. In her heart, she calls them burdens – and hers, to shoulder. Had their lives been different, she knows he would have done no less.
Waves crash against the cliffs below.
"I'm sorry it's been so long. I've been …" She pauses, thinking. "Well, you wouldn't believe me if I told you."
A quiet reflection. A look to the sea.
"I did it."
"So I heard about this place called Michina Town …"
Sinnoh? Wow. What d'you think that region's like, Misty?
Hm. Not sure. Maybe we'll find out one day, huh?
"I think … I think this might be it."
"Hey Ash. How's your mom?" The wind catches, and she brushes her hair behind her ear. "I'm a little late, I know. Just got down here this morning. The League's been giving me hell."
Just you wait. I'm gonna be the greatest Pokemon Master in the whole world!
Uh-huh. Well first, maybe you can learn to tie your shoes …
"Ugh. You would hate all the paperwork."
"No luck in Ecruteak City. Turns out Sacred Fire's a dud." She sighs, smiling. "But you did call dibs on Ho-Oh, so …"
Hey, yeah! And it's supposed to have all these special powers, like eternal life, and stuff! Here, look!
Hm. 'Born eternal from the ashes.' Oh, -now- I see why you want it …
"The view from Tin Tower's nice, actually. You can see for miles."
"I talked to Haunter the other day. He says hi." She's quiet for a moment. Contemplative. "I wonder if you …"
Did I see any ghosts there? Uh … I caught one, remember?
No, not Pokemon ghosts, Ash! People ghosts. Are there… other people up there, too?
"… I'm sorry. I'm just … I'm so sorry, Ash …"
"The early days were better, huh."
The soft cooing of pidgeys comes from the woods behind her. The sun emerges from behind the clouds.
"Remember Viridian Forest? I was scared out of my mind." She chuckles at the memories. "And from a caterpie, of all things."
C'mon, Misty. It's just a bug. There's nothing to be afraid of!
Ew, get it away, get it away!
"I caught a surskit in Hoenn," she says. "Eat that."
"May and I ... almost died last month."
Oh, gimme a break! I'm not gonna drown in a shipwreck! There was plenty of time!
Do you even listen to yourself? One of these days, I won't be there to save you!
"If Lucario hadn't …" She stops. Blinks. "... I'll be more careful from now on, okay?"
But it's true! It flew that way, right over the rainbow!
Oh, please. Are you sure that shock from Pikachu didn't fry your brain?
"The legendary birds? I met them. All three." She grins, holding her head high. "Aren't you jealous?"
"So … Nurse Joy finished the repairs today. I can get here a lot quicker now."
Like I told you, I'll pay for your bike when we get to the Indigo League …
Ash Ketchum, the only thing you'll be paying for is a side of fries!
"I … I don't care about that! I-I just …"
"You were always the brave one."
—always running toward trouble, acting first without thinking—
She bites her lip.
Deep breaths, now. Keep it together.
"I'm … I'm okay, Pikachu. Thanks."
It stretches on, forever. Limitless. Eternal.
"I loved you, you know," she murmurs, to the sea.
"I still do."
Her hair trails behind her, long and wild, flowing in the breeze.
Isn't it time you moved on, Red?
She laughs: softly, bitterly. As if she could. As if there were any moving on from this.
The sun is setting, now. There is only faint light on the horizon. The colors of dusk paint the sky: purple, pink, and gold.
Somewhere, far above her, a voice resounds, otherworldly and deep.
"It is time."
Misty lets out a little sniff, then smiles. She lays a hand upon the gravestone, closing her eyes.
"See you soon."
"You will have Judgment!"
Meteors rain from the heavens. They race by, hurtling past flesh and scale, searing her hair and burning her skin. She soars upwards, undaunted. The skies are a battlefield: black clouds and thunder, torrent and flame, twisting and turning, a whirlwind of light and sound.
"Hyper Beam, Gyarados!"
A beam of orange light erupts from the pokemon's maw, screaming at the horse-god; defiance in the face of death.
It connects –
– and dissipates into nothing.
Arceus shifts hue. White to black; darkness from light. It charges, relentless.
Misty throws her hand out. Aura spills from her fingers, her heart. A protective bubble – just in time. Payback slams into the barrier like a cluster bomb, encasing it in a cloud of smoke.
She pushes it away: the aura, the haze, the fear, ready to strike.
Misty searches. "Where—"
And then it is before her. A paragon of chaos and terror. Glorious, blinding. She can reach out and touch its crest.
Arceus's eyes blaze. It stares with righteous fury.
Palkia's claw slams into the side of its head.
Her ears pop. The wind whips her hair into her face, lifts her from her seat. She holds tight to Gyarados, muscles burning, watching as the gods fall to earth.
Silence gives way to roars.
Dialga ascends beside her. She's riding atop its back.
"Kevin and I can hold it off. We need your help to evacuate!" she yells. "Michina Town, it's—"
Lights, from nowhere.
For some reason, Brock's there. Her sisters are laughing. Ash smiles at her from underneath the brim of his hat.
White-hot energy cuts through her like a knife.
—didn't see it coming—
Tremors, like thunder. Glaciers down her spine. Spinning clouds. Vision caked with blood. Her mind is a bonfire. Her left arm is gone.
"… how …"
She's falling. They're falling. Gyarados is—
"Dialga!" screams Sheena.
Misty stumbles. Dappled light shines upon her hands. She looks around, confused.
Ten thousand years have vanished within a blink.
She stands on the vestiges of time and space.
Galaxies pass by, brimming with all the colors of the universe. Stars collapse and reform before her eyes. It is the culmination of everything, of nothing. Breathtaking. Terrifying.
The Hall of Origin.
No human has ever set foot here. None were meant to come.
"There is much to be done," says the voice. "Follow me."
She ascends the steps, eyes locked on golden hooves.
Arceus looks at her. Its eyes are like far-off planets: dark, ambiguous. She can't discern its emotions. She wonders if it can discern hers.
"This intention of yours …" it says. "Hm. Admirable."
"You realize the implications of this?" the Ancients ask.
Silence. It does not answer. There is no need.
They walk further.
She sees the birth of the universe. She sees it again and again, as familiar as the back of her hand.
"Are you ready?"
Sunlight filters through the darkness, upon the remnants of the gate. The Ancients rise, gazing at her.
They expect doubt. A hint of reluctance. A crack in her resolve.
They will have none.
"Marcus is dead."
Arceus opens its eyes. Silver flows from its crown, burning like an unholy chalice. It looks toward the shore.
There is a girl, there. A woman. Her hair is orange, as bright as the summer sun. There is blood on her hands.
"Marcus?" it says.
"The one behind all of this."
Arceus searches her eyes. It can find no malice, there. Only truth.
"Damos …" it says. "What of Damos …"
"Damos didn't betray you. He's the only ally you have."
"The … only ally?"
"That's right," she says, softly. "See, I'm not your friend."
"Misty! What are you doing?!" comes a shout, from high above. A deep voice. Male. "You must return the jewel!"
She ignores him.
Arceus thrashes, struggling against the tomb of quicksilver. It can feel Damos, feel his anger. It looks to the woman with a withering gaze. "Who are you? What is the meaning of this …?"
"This? It's a negotiation."
The woman opens her pack. She digs inside, pulling a luminescent green orb from within. It sparkles with the power of eternal life.
"I will return the jewel," she says, holding it up, "on one condition."
The cavern shudders, buckling under its power. Cracks spring up along subterranean columns. Rocks tumble from the ceiling. Mercury splashes onto the shores.
"I will not be TRIFLED WITH!" it bellows, piercing her gaze with blood-red eyes.
The woman is unmoved. She doesn't flinch. She doesn't blink. It's as if the turmoil around her is merely an illusion. As if it does not exist.
Arceus stares. Judges.
This one does not fear the wrath of the gods. She has already seen far worse.
"Speak, human. What is your wish?"
For a moment, the world vanishes. There is only them. Human and pokemon. Mortal and God.
Misty grips the jewel.
Lights crash together, raging, violent.
And her knees are buckling, legs giving way. She's screaming, clinging to his jacket – threads brushing beneath her fingertips, slipping from her palms. Keep it in your hands. Keep him in your hands.
But it's too late. He's gone, now. All cracked, burnt and broken. And it will never be the same, never ever be the same—
"Ash …" she whispers, sobbing. "Ash …"
There is only silence. The battle is over. A young boy's body lies in a circle of white.
Pikachu stares at his crumpled form, stunned.
'The fool …' says Mewtwo. 'Why would he …'
She's shaking. She can't breathe. The sobs are coming harder now, ragged and ugly. Brock's hands are on her shoulders, but it doesn't help. How could it? How could anything—
She chokes on the words. Her tears drip onto the cold dirt.
Misty looks up. Her eyes go wide.
There's a light, there. In the middle of the stadium, next to Ash. A rift of pure white, like a doorway to the day.
And then, a figure.
Someone's kneeling beside him. A woman, with long, rust-colored hair, dressed in silver and sky blue.
The woman stares at Ash's body. She brushes his bangs from his face, and runs her fingers down his cheek. For a long moment, she gazes at him. Then she lifts the pendant that dangles from her neck, placing it against his heart.
Misty leaps to her feet, sprinting straight at them. "What are you doing?!" she screams. "Don't touch—"
She stops cold.
A faint green light shines from the jewel on the woman's pendant. Ash's wounds gradually vanish. The burns fade. The lacerations heal. The color returns to his skin.
In the course of a minute, Ash Ketchum has been brought back from the dead.
Misty tries to breathe.
It's no use. She's forgotten how.
Stars shine down in the darkness above them. The stadium is quiet. All is still.
The woman stands. Turns to her. Misty meets her gaze.
And in this moment, she realizes:
The woman steps forward. She lifts the necklace from her shoulders, and holds it out, slipping it over the young girl's head.
"Protect him. You're all he has."
Misty stares up at her. She stares at her reflection in her own eyes. Somewhere, from a hidden place deep within her, the words come forth: without reservation, without thought.
The woman smiles.
And she is gone.
Misty blinks. She looks around.
The stadium is just as it was. A legion of pokemon look on from the sidelines. Mewtwo and Mew float above each battle box. Brock stands behind her, speechless.
Her eyes fly to Pikachu, to the trainer at her side.
"Hey buddy. What just—wha, hey!"
She tackles him into a hug. They land in the dirt, in a cloud of dust. Tears stream down her cheeks. She buries herself in his jacket, squeezing him by the shoulders, pinning him to the ground. As if their time together is fleeting. As if she let go, for even a moment, he would disappear.
Ash stares at her, blinking. His eyes glance toward a glint of gold. He quirks an eyebrow.
"What's with the necklace?"
There was a grave near Pallet Town,
that overlooked the sea.
A product of a future
that never came to be.
I remember when I met you:
your smile, oh so wry.
You were taken in an instant;
I wasn't ready for goodbye.
So I vowed to comb the heavens,
to climb the World Tree.
I'd toy with Sacred Fires,
I'd delve through ancient seas.
And if I could, I'd break them:
the laws of time and space.
I promised, I'd do anything
for the chance to see your face.
There is a peak near Pallet Town,
just past a pecha tree,
where the ocean stretches further
than any eye can see.
It was once a place of sorrow,
where friends and loved ones wept.
Now it's just a memory,
of a promise duly kept.
I stand against the sunset,
at the echoes of a grave.
I often come here thinking
of the life I vowed to save.
This world could never break me;
This love will not abate.
So take to heart, this lesson:
We make our own fate.
"The Hourglass" — Misty 'Red' Waterflower
A/N: Yes, that poem is shaped like an hourglass.
Theme 6, 5, Alt Two: Role Reversal; Misty in the Post OS Movies; If Ash Stayed Dead in the First Movie; Return to Maiden's Peak (AU).
Movie References: M01, M12.
Thanks for reading~