Title: New Year's Absolution
Fandom: Pokémon
- Characters: Morty, Falkner (Honorshipping)
Rating: PG-13
Summary: It's one year later. What did Morty accomplish?
Notes: Second in the New Years' set. Since NYR's own rewrite hasn't been completed at this point, you'll note this story makes allusions to events that's going to happen in it. And it only took two years to complete.

- b - e - g - i - n -

The snow never took as well in Cianwood as it did for the inland towns. The winds off the Whirl Pool Islands kept the snow on the sand to a faint dusting, hardly ever more than two inches under heavy precipitation and always quick to melt. Celadon City would have the better conditions for it, surrounded on all sides by the wood of the Oddish, and the Gym itself isolated from the rest of the town, the wind stifled by the evening, leaving a delicate silence easily perverted by those not of its realm.

They should have been in Celadon this year. Except Celadon was miles away with mountains between, where a festival was currently being alighted with funny stories and music and smells of sugared berry cakes and above all, Morty believed, chatty ladies with nothing better to do then spin fables. Cissy would be there this time, already long informed on what happened last year, if Whitney had anything to do with it. In fact, Cissy probably found out two mornings later, since Whitney would have likely called the first day of the new year, and Cissy would have told her, as politely as possible, to buzz off, I have a hangover, don't talk.

Cissy was a holiday drinker. An over-indulgent one at that.

Which gave him one of the better reasons to not go this year: if anyone could make a loud (yet nothing short of embarrassingly jovial) spectacle, it would be Cissy. And she would be there this year. And he wouldn't allow her near him, not when he finally had this precious creature all to himself. Morty was not about to share this without fully getting his own fill, because the effort he had put in would make an artist weep in appreciation.

The summer-living trees were thin and naked in the scape of the barren white land, casting small shadows from the fortunate light of the full moon. The only noise was made by the crunch of snow, underfoot or settling in for the night. Otherwise, the silence was loud and frightening, and it wasn't until they stopped were the trees full of sounds that eased the anxiety of the winter quiet.

They had done this a few times before, during the cold, the crisp, and the summer nights. It was an adventure they had together, in lieu of stepping out for a bite to eat or going sight-seeing. Yes, it was a date, in a matter of speaking. A safe date, one meant to have no expectations.

Morty felt content, for the time being, as he walked along side Falkner through the stale reality of a windless, winter night. Even without the flashlights in hand, they would have found their destination nevertheless, as it was the Hoothoot that found them and not the other way around.

Hoothoot didn't generally gather in groups bigger than three, but the static number of seven was no surprise anymore, once Falkner explained it was three groups in one. "The woods are big and lonely this time of year," he had explained at the start. "They tolerate the extra company. They won't once they evolve."

It was the simplicity of the picture that tugged at Morty's heart, watching Falkner with knees in the snow and bird seed in a gloved hand, tossed into the white blanket or held out to be nibbled at up close and personal. Most of the Hoothoot personally gave Morty some space, save one that seemed aged and fully capable of handling the other worldly aura Morty knew he had. And it dared to freely eat from his own hand, finally.

This wasn't in Morty's element, but it was nice and it was growing on him, much as it did to watch Falkner get used to Gastly and other ghosts bombarding him with tricks and a little teasing. Feeding birds by the light of the moon had its own serene appeal, and only reinforced that their chemistry was also bound in the quiet they shared.

They had chemistry, yes they did. It took a while for Falkner to see it, before and after his wits had been whittled to nothing and agreed to go out with him. The whole year had amounted to this point in time, and every second had been worth it.

Falkner had not gotten so drunk he forgot about the kiss by the next morning. Then he proceeded to do nothing wish death upon Morty, and it showed in his glare for months to follow (he'd even received a recount by Whitney who had only mentioned Morty's name in passing; she was careful never to do so afterward). Which was unfortunate, because Morty had not said the things he had arbitrarily, and still fought to pursue a relationship as subtly as he could; aggression was usually met with equal aggression, as far as Falkner was concerned, given what else had transpired that night.

It had taken a miracle and Clair's own surprising intervention-to be a fly on the wall for that scenario-to hook the Wing Master on the idea of giving them a chance, and Morty counted his lucky stars (and how much he owed Clair) when Falkner showed up on his doorstep with a blush and cowed, and simply said, "All right."

A resolution was fulfilled, tonight.

With a glance at his watch, Morty read 23:53 as the time just before Falkner dusted off his gloves, glanced back to him, and asked through his muffler, "Ready?"

"Yeah." The Hoothoot scattered to the trees as Falkner rose to his feet, leaving naught but tiny feathers and nigh-invisible foot impressions in their wake. And perhaps unconsciously, or so Morty hoped, Falkner's hand slipped into his as they navigated their way back to Falkner's homestead.

It felt so good. All across the region, people were hunkered down in bars and homes and other establishments of broadcasting technology. Ears pressed to radios, eyes glued to televisions, party hats on tight and noisemakers ready to pop. Everyone was crowded around some instrument, watching and listening and howling the last night and the last moments of the old year. Completely ready to bring the new one in with a terrible roar of celebration.

Morty didn't need that roar. This was fine. It had perhaps grown to be not enough, but the physical wants weren't always related to the spiritual wants, and any physicality happened when they did. To lose the hand in his was far more devastating emotionally than it was physically. However, for the months they had been dating, for the periods of time the could steal with one another...

Shouldn't need to think too hard about it.

The trees shook with voiceless aches and groans, with the kind of thick calm Morty reveled in back home. The ghosts loved that hanging air of suspense and tension, lived to weave it about their territory and ready to spring a trap for the ones unfortunate to snare their web. But no ghosts haunted the forests of Violet; they squirreled themselves away in the safety of the floors in the Sprout Tower, where the aged wood and tranquility fed their phantasmic senses with the ethereal essence of history and memory, and rarely left the haven the Kikyou priests were forbidden to exorcise.

Morty was glad for such small things. Where birds traveled freely, so did spirits, and so did human hearts. To be able to nestle Falkner in his element as Falkner did with him...no matter how slow the relationship might be going in terms of intimacy levels, it was climbing up to an entirely different level in terms of understanding the roots of each other's upbringing. And that, he would argue, was worth its weight.

"Too bad we won't get back in time for midnight," Morty lamented wistfully. "It would have been nice to watch Mt. Fuuen light up from the comfort of a kotatsu."

Falkner's head whipped around sharply, almost stopping in his tracks. "Is that- Would you have rather done that?"

The startled deer look was unbecoming, but it distressed Morty only a little. He squeezed Falkner's hand reassuringly. "Where you want to be is where I wanna go." He smiled brightly. "Not to mention, I've got faith we can make it until next year."

Falkner looked away, but tightened his grasp for longer than was due. Thinking long term was probably still a ways away, though it was usually how Morty planned. Falkner might not be able to put that much stock in looking that far ahead, but that little squeeze on its own... Perhaps he hoped too? Lightly, Morty bumped his shoulder against his partner's. "Though watch, next year it'll be in Ecruteak."

"I know ghosts like to self-inflict their curses," Falkner rejoined, "but don't start the new year with one of your own."

"Hmm, I suppose you're right." Morty reaches out to the next tree he passed, and knocked on it three times. "Curse avoided. One less thing to worry about for the morning."

"I'd rather not think about it."

"They're going to call."

"I'm not thinking about it."

Morty chuckled quietly, and happily. Cute. Each range of emotion was taken in stride, but Morty was by far the most used to Falkner sullen and sulky moods. Making him smile took patience and maybe a dirty trick or two. "Well, it's not like anything's going to happen, so the truth will only be that much more frustrating."

Falkner nodded, with a, "Yeah," that sounded a little melancholy, but Morty wasn't sensing anything turbulent from the other. He passed it off as a hitch.

Morty's pursuit of Falkner had started out quiet, stretched so thin he doubted anyone would have noticed until it was too late. But even the best-laid plans had its weak spots, and Falkner had created one in Clair. While their break-up had been angry and public, Falkner had had no one else to turn to when Morty's charm became more overt. He told her everything.

In turn, Clair had approached Morty with all the regency befitting a leader of the Dragon Clan and told him pointblank: "You hurt him, and I'll break every treaty there is in order to crush the Enju Clan." Oh, he felt her affection and best intentions vibrating in every word. Morty believed that had been the end of it.

He sent her the best bottle of spirits he could find in the Matsuri home cellar for Christmas, as an humble and incomparable token of thanks.

"Home" wasn't too far off. The lights from the lanterns were faint in the distance, riding the empty air as will-o'-wisps leading them forward. A shining example of being brave to face the unknown (and hopefully not to their deaths), and Morty made a choice to stop walking, forcing Falkner to do the same, a look of confusion only making it a little awkward. Trudge on, trudge on...

"Actually," he began, making sure to keep a firm hold on the hand still in his, pulled taut between them, "actually, on the subject of, well, that, I think..." He stopped. The words about to pour from his mouth were the ramblings of an anxious teenager, so he tried again. "The rumors are going to circulate anyway, so what if they were, ah, true?"

It took a moment, but instead of the shock of the intention Morty had suspected, Falkner instead averted his eyes to the side, perhaps even shrinking further behind his scarf. And when the silence stretched itself a little too long, Morty plastered on a smile, and gave the arm a playful. "I'm kidding! You'd lie every time they asked, and I know how much you hate lying-" Like Morty was now. "-so it's probably better if we didn't give them any dirt to eventually dig up-"

The entirely time Morty retracted his proposal, he watched the shock (fear?) initially expected bloom in Falkner's eyes, but his mouth kept going, not at all sure what was running through Falkner mind, until Falkner effectively shut him up.

Free fingers flew and buried themselves in the soft fabric of his own wrapping, and lips were crushing into his before Morty could dot his spiel with a full-stop. Falkner never started kisses, always taken and answered wholly, if not with a little encouragement.

This kiss needed no such pressuring. It was hard, hot, and tasted like desperation Morty would only weep for if it meant what he believed it did. He pulled the bird trainer as close as he could, trapping him in his arm, and Falkner fell into him: tongue, body, heart, and all.

Was the wait a job well done?

Easing out of the kiss as slowly as he could, Falkner was panting once it was gone. Panting, but staring straight at him, face and mouth rouge red and his eyes freshly glazed over. "Ah," Morty said thickly, "are you telling me you want to have sex?"

What was a question meant to clear the whole scenario up (and to tease him, just a little) turned into an ungraceful scene faster than Morty knew was possible, as Falkner's regular introversion surfaced. It pushed Morty away, and not metaphorically.

The stars were very pretty tonight. The snow was also not that cold.

Morty blinked, stunned; Falkner blinked, stunned. But then the laughter started, and it wasn't sure just who started it, but it was infectious: Morty lying supine upon the ground, Falkner hovering just over him, and there was nothing funnier in the world.

"Okay, okay," Morty rasped, raising an arm upwards. "M'sorry. Help?"

Except Falkner sooner found himself in the same snow, rather than Morty back on his feet, and it was something to squabble and cackle over, until Morty forced himself up and over, forcing Falkner's shoulders back to the ground, and reshowing just how kisses between them should go.

Beeep, beeep, beeep, beeep.

Simultaneously, both heads turned awkwardly, to the glowing time of the watch on Morty's wrist. 00:00:04.

"No way," Falkner breathed, watching the seconds pass the turning of the hour. The turning of the new year.

"You believe in omens, right?"

"Shut up." Morty turned his head back to the man beneath him, but Falkner was quick to plant a finger against his lips. "This year will be different from the last...right?"

Morty smiled and let his mouth butterfly over the single digit, as the hand in turn cupped his cheek. "It will be so different, Falkner. I promise you that."

Dark eyes searched his face, flitting over his expression to maybe find a hitch, or a lie, or something, and it seemed Morty passed when Falkner lifted his head to touch noses. "Then, happy new year, Morty."

"As happy as we can make it."

"So then, I suppose, yeah, it...we could bring it in in that way, when we get back."

"Why wait? We can start here."

"Oi, hey! I take it back, I take it back!"

- e - n - d -