Hey, everyone! It's Aeris. Some of you have probably read my story Anomaly- and were sent this link personally if you do- but if you haven't then I should probably explain myself here. Hell, knowing me, I should probably explain even for my regular readers. My name is Aeris, and I write a Pokemon fic using the character Mewtwo that takes place about five years after the Mewtwo Returns movie. 'Anomaly' gets a pretty good readership, and I'm quite proud of it. But then one day I started wondering what in the world Mewtwo had been occupying his time with between the movie and my story. And an idea was born.

I'm so bad that way.

This story takes place two years before my Anomaly fic, but it can also be taken alone as it stands if you don't feel like getting into a novel-length fic afterwards. It's cool that way. After all, Eve doesn't exist... yet.

Honestly and truly, I think this story is the best piece I've ever written. It even comes complete with my trademark "psychobabble" that basically tells me that I think too much. Refractions took a few nights to work it out, and a few afternoons as well. Those sucked because I'd always talk weird afterwards, but that's another story entirely. Either way, I've invested some time into this, even putting Anomaly on the back burner for almost a week, and I'm quite proud of how it turned out. If you like it, too, feel free to review and let me know. No, really, I insist. You're not imposing on my time at all. I'll even reply to each review personally. See? It's win-win all around!

So let's go!

What guides the courses of our lives? Is it destiny, fate, luck? What determines who we are or where we fit in? Some people seem to belong almost naturally, falling into a niche from practically the day they are born. Their lives are laid out in front of them, especially those of the very wealthy classes who can afford to sit back and let things happen for them. They get into the best schools, wear the best clothes, have the best friends, eat the best food, all without fighting for any of it. But for others, all life seems to be is one long fight- a fight for identity, meaning, and relevance. For as many people as seem to have their places handed to them, still more stumble through their lives grasping at thin straws of hope, the hope that someday they will belong. Grasp hard enough, and maybe you'll find the string among the straws, the cord that leads you home. Tie it tightly to your wrist and pull as hard as you can, and you can weave your way into the fabrics until the thread ties off strong, and you find your place. And isn't that all we ever really want? Just to know where we belong?

Or if we even belong at all?

Humans were, by far, the most fickle race on the planet.

The sprawling urban scene was full of light and color and activity. Nestled in the mountains, the city that could not grow outward grew upward instead, its denizens moving up and down through the skyscrapers as much as they went in and out. Sitting high up on the roof of one of the tallest buildings, he could nevertheless see everything going on down below with crystal clarity. His violet eyes were essentially those of a cat, after all, as well suited for darkness as they were for light. Of course, he reflected, darkness was hardly a problem in this city. Its citizens always had some manner of light on, be it a simple street lamp or a glowing neon sign. In this part of the city neon signs were the dominant factor. Some of them glowed steadily through the night while others flashed on and off, but all were the same to him- entrapments and lures that blatantly advertised the human need for sin and vice in lurid color. The lights were a little like humanity itself in that they were vibrant, colorful, at times even pretty- but the light they offered always had the same cold intensity. In that respect, perhaps they were like him as well. Cold and intense, electric blue in the black of night. The thought amused him.

Pokémon were scarce in this city, not because people did not have room for them, but because they simply did not have the time. Everyone was in a rush, running about in pursuit of his or her worldly goals, unable to care for another living creature. Any trainers who stopped through did so briefly before moving on to the next city, and any family pets were kept indoors, away from the dangers of the outside world and its endless traffic. As such, there was little risk of being spotted by another Pokémon or, more specifically, a Pokémon trainer. This was one of the main reasons he had chosen this city as his stopping ground- it was, despite the masses of people writhing below, relatively safe. The only people liable to look up at any time were the children, and no one would believe them anyway unless he allowed a whole group to see him.

He never took the time to wonder what would happen if the humans did find him one day. After all, what else could they do but try to lock him away, a nameless, faceless experiment in one of their obscene laboratories? It was what the men who created him had planned to do, he knew. They had done no less but talk about it right in front of him in the moments after he awakened, congratulating each other for their own hollow success in creating him even as they planned what to do to him first. And then the next human he had encountered had tried to enslave him, tricking him and toying with him. Had it been any wonder that he had grown to hate the race, then? Had it been any wonder that he had wanted to see them gone from this earth, and the Pokémon who so gladly served them as well? Those creatures had seemed such a disgrace to him then, but sometimes now he could almost wonder how it felt, that undying loyalty and the security in knowing that you belonged...

Sometimes he wondered what would have happened had the boy not stopped him. That child, innocent and naïve and foolish, had shattered every concept he had of the world, both then and then again that night in the mountains. He had often found himself thinking about that night during the past three years. Had it been pure coincidence that the same boy had shown up, or had something deeper played into it? Perhaps it had been destiny. Destiny did so love to toy with him, after all. There were times when he wondered if he was not its favorite plaything.

He rose to his feet, his lean form cutting an imposing silhouette in the moonlight. Had anyone who might have bothered to look up actually been able to see him at these heights, they might have been startled by his sheer size. Standing at over six and a half feet by human measurements, he could look down on any human in the city below him and probably all of the Pokémon as well. His upper body was slender, but his legs and tail were powerful- even if they were to somehow strip him of his abilities, he felt confident that he could put up enough fight to send just about anything running. He stretched his tail lazily behind him, swishing the appendage back and forth a few times to restore it to full mobility. It was almost as long as his body, a soft, dusty purple that contrasted sharply with the pale off-white fur on the rest of him. In the cold silver-blue light of the moon the fine hairs almost seemed to glow with a life of their own, as though bespeaking the enormous energy he contained with little more than a flick of his mind. The thought amused him.

His name was Mewtwo. Created in a human laboratory, he was meant to be an enhanced, living replica of Mew, an ancient and powerful Pokémon of legend that humans had believed to be extinct. In short, he was a clone. The genetic strands they had used as his base had been tampered with, tempered to suit the humans' own ideals. He often wondered just how the fool scientists had expected to control him in the first place- they had known, better than anyone, how powerful he was supposed to be. That was not to say that they did not try to prepare themselves against him. But their technology had been no match for his pure power, and he had devastated the lab and killed the people in it. He regretted that now, not for the sake of their lost lives, but for the fact that it tainted his own soul that he came into this world a killer. Then again, most of the humans would not even consider that he had a soul, would they? He had not been born as a normal Pokémon had; he had been created by the power of science. His misguided creators did not feel that their spiritual laws applied to him. And then there were the right-wing religious fanatics who were offended by the idea that even normal Pokémon had souls. He often felt pity for the children of those ones, for what comfort were they to take when a beloved pet died if it could not go to heaven? If heaven even existed, of course. Sometimes he wondered if perhaps humans did not invent religion not as an answer to their questions but as a justification to warp and oppress those around them, as he himself had tried to oppress the world around him to suit his own twisted views of what was right and what was wrong. His mouth quirked silently as he watched a man below carrying his daughter home from the theater. The tiny child was asleep in her father's arms. Was that really her father? In this city so tainted by human lusts and immorality, it was impossible to know.

It was kind of funny, in a sad way. Most would say he won that day in the mountains when he fractured the minds of those who sought to enslave him and ensured his own safety in the world. But in his mind and in his heart he had been the one defeated. Mewtwo had been defeated when the other clones, the ones that he had created, nurtured, and protected, had turned their backs and left him standing alone. He had always considered himself a solitary being, but never had it been truer than in the moment that his companions had decided to seek their own destinies. He had considered them his family, and in that one night his family had abandoned him down to the very last one. He had spent months trying to understand it, trying to see what he had done wrong. Then one day, as he saw a young woman packing her bags to leave her family for a bigger, brighter city somewhere else, it all clicked into place. Everyone left those they cared about, those that cared about them. It was a natural thing, part of the progression of age- you raise someone, nurture them, tend to their every hurt, and just when you care the most for this life you have sustained, they find their own strength and leave. It was supposed to mean that you had done well, and helped them to grow up strong enough to care for themselves. But he studied the young woman's mother for a few days after her daughter's departure, watched her struggle to cope with her new loneliness, and came to a conclusion. If this was the pain that came with caring for someone, this stabbing loneliness, then such a small victory simply was not worth it, and it was better not to care at all. If you hardened your heart against the world, letting no one in, then they could never stab you in the back.

He watched the man carry the tiny child to a bus stop. They got on the bus and were out of site, even as a young woman stepped off at their stop, heading for the bright lights of downtown. She was the kind of woman no one gave a second thought to, the sort that played the streets for her meals dressed in her too-high boots and too-short skirts. There was a word for her type, but he had never bothered to learn it. Usually he looked over her kind, passing his gaze on to the next restless wanderer, but tonight his eyes followed her as she strolled casually along the sidewalk. Perhaps it had been seeing the child before the woman that made him think of it, but at some point this woman had been someone's little girl. How, then, had her family allowed her to fall into this life? Had they turned their backs on her, or had she walked away from them? Then again, some humans did not seem to have families to begin with. Maybe this was one of them, a soul wandering lost and alone, silent tribute to the injustices of the world. Not ten minutes after she had arrived downtown the young woman was accepted into a car with a male driver, and like that she was gone.

With the woman left his interest in the downtown area and, for that matter, the city in general. Mewtwo closed his eyes briefly, choosing to feel the cold moonlight falling on his face instead of seeing it. It was at three-quarters tonight, the great disk in the sky, which was more than bright enough for him to see by as he made his way out of the human city and into the mountains beyond. His home was high up in the cliffs, in an area that was difficult to reach for normal Pokémon and impossible for the humans who inhabited the city below. Hidden below a large outcropping of rock and behind a wall of the same, the entrance to the cave was discreet; it could not be seen from the city or the air. Discretion was important to Mewtwo. So much could be lost with a single mistake- his privacy, his freedom, his life- that he could not afford to take any chances. Mewtwo stood outside the entrance to the small cave system, checking with his mind to be sure that no one was inside before he entered his home. Yes, discretion was important indeed, and one could never be too careful.

It was a small network of rooms, as he himself had carved it from the mountainside to be. The entry snaked along, following along the inside of the mountain's curve for about a hundred yards or so, before widening into a large chamber. The hallway was lit only from the moonlight filtering in from a few strategically placed niches in the walls, but Mewtwo knew the passage well enough not to stumble in even the blackest of nights, so the niches were all but obsolete. It was a thought that made him pause. To know this place so well meant that he had been here more than long enough. How long had it been since he had come here? Almost a year, to his estimate. That was more than long enough to stay in one place. In fact, he realized with a small, indistinctive frown, it was probably too long. He tried not to stay in one place more than eight months or so. It was time to move on.

Still, there was no need for him to leave tonight. Mewtwo looked around the large chamber, satisfied by the stillness, before stepping towards one of two shadows in the walls. One shadowy doorway led to the room where he slept. The other, closer little room housed his books. Books were Mewtwo's biggest windows into the world, and so he had made it his habit to read whatever he could find. If a book were ever carelessly left outdoors or in an automobile, it would be gone by morning. Occasionally he even went so far as to check inside the little box outside the public library where people left their after-hours returns. The box typically yielded anywhere between four to twelve tomes, sometimes more. Once he had sat and read for an entire month off of a single night's visit to the drop box. Mewtwo stepped into the room and examined the piles of paper around him. After months of hunting, the books did tend to add up. He stood among the messy stacks, considering. There was nothing here he would take with him when he went- there never was- and it only took a moments thought to decide that there was nothing worth reading again before he left. Mewtwo turned his back on the books and headed for his own chamber instead.

The second hallway was shorter, the room smaller than the main entryway, but this was the place that looked the most like a home or a dwelling. The furniture was crude stone, nothing more than a table and a small stool that he had hewn from the rock on his own when he made the place. They were not much, but that never really mattered to him. It was just a place to sit and meditate. The table faced a flat panel on the wall, a surveillance system of sorts that he had used to use to watch the outside world. In recent months, however, he had stopped using it. Solitude suited him better in his own home. A low, wide ledge ran along the wall opposite the blackened screen where he could lie down if he needed to sleep, and a small pit in the ground housed a low fire. It was towards the fire that Mewtwo walked. The wood he had been burning had reduced itself to glowing coals, but there was still plenty left for the fire to take life from if he so chose. Instead, he opted to simply watch the embers burn, a warm, soothing glow that offered a different kind of light than the ones in the city...

Someone was approaching the caves.

Mewtwo's head snapped up at the tug of a familiar presence. Had he been the type who opted to vocalize his emotions, he would have groaned when he realized whom the tingling psychic energy belonged to. It would be him, that bane of the clone's existence, that constant reminder of his intended inferiority. For a moment he toyed with the idea of ignoring the presence, but deep down he knew it would never work. That one Pokémon would not be ignored. Grudgingly, Mewtwo headed back through the dark hallways and into the world outside once more. It was always better to just get these visits over with so that he could be alone again.

The visitor came from the east, over the mountains where the sky was blackest. He felt the tiny Pokémon before he saw the interloper, and turned to wait. After a few moments he spotted it- a small, pale blur twisting in and out of the trees. He stood his ground and waited while the Pokémon grew closer, calling out to him in a childishly sweet voice. "Mewtwo!"

Mewtwo did not even nod a greeting. "Mew. What are you doing here?" Anyone else would have been startled to hear Mewtwo 'speak,' but the Pokémon hurtling himself down the mountainside did not even bat an ear. Having no language of his own, the great psychic had instead telepathically adopted the language of the humans. Without that ability he would be unable to communicate at all, an irony that was not lost to him. His 'voice' was deep and masculine, the only sure sign he ever actually showed of being a specific gender. On the rare occasion he spoke to a group his voice echoed slightly, but now it was clear as he 'whispered' to the Pokémon before him.

Mew was not what one would expect, this unwanted visitor, not what they would expect at all. For one thing, the legendary psychic was tiny. Had it not been for some strange instinct, some obscure knowledge deep inside of him, Mewtwo would never have realized that this was the Pokémon they had tried to re-create in him. Mew stood at maybe a foot and a half tall if one was generous, and weighed so little that it often seemed a strong enough wind could blow him away. He was also what had to be the most ludicrous shade of pink imaginable, the kind of color that Mewtwo had often noticed little girls wearing when they were in frills and lace as he watched the crowds outside the opera house at night. It was a pleasant place to sit and hear the music, but the humans clothing could get downright ridiculous at times. The pink made Mew's large, perpetually innocent blue eyes stand out even more in his narrow feline face.

Finally Mew made it to where Mewtwo waited, so excited he could barely stand still. Often Mewtwo wondered if 'stand' was the proper word at all, was certain it was not, for Mew's feet seldom touched the ground. The psychic preferred instead to hover in midair, anywhere from two to twenty feet off of the ground at any time. Right now Mew bobbed up and down at about six feet in the air so their heads were about level. Mewtwo was surprised to see that the kitten was actually panting slightly. Usually even long journeys at high speeds did not seem to phase the tiny psychic. Whatever Mew wanted to tell him, it must be fairly urgent. Mewtwo decided then and there that he wanted nothing to do with it.

Before him, the kitten was gasping for breath. "Needed... to talk to you. Really important." Mewtwo raised an eyebrow at Mew's tone. It was not normal for Mew to approach anything directly; the smaller psychic was fond of dancing around things. For him to get straight to the point was cause for attention, if not alarm. "Need your help..."

The clone frowned. "And you believe I will assist you, why?"

Mew settled to the ground, no longer bothering with pretense as he succumbed to exhaustion. "I found something in Johto, something really, really important. I need your help."

"And if I do not feel the need to give it?" He glowered down at the tiny cat, reinforcing the fact that he was in charge of his own life. "Just because it is important to you does not mean it is important to me."

"But it is! It's totally important!" The huge blue eyes were beseeching, but Mewtwo easily hardened his heart against Mew's pleas. For all the childlike innocence he possessed when it suited him, Mew was fifty times Mewtwo's age if he was a day. In Mewtwo's mind, at least, that was far too old to be begging.

"Important to you," he said again, emphasizing the words. "The last time you required my assistance, it almost got me killed. I have no interest in any more of your foolish endeavors."

"Important to both of us," Mew protested. "Mewtwo, please hear me out! It's about Team Rocket, they-"

Mewtwo cut him off, seething inside. How dare the legendary psychic approach him in regards to those most foul of all humans! "I do not know or care what Team Rocket is doing," he informed the tiny cat snappishly, turning to walk away. "Those people and events are a part of my life that I have left behind willingly. I will not become involved in them again!"

Behind him, the tiny legend made a soft whining sound in his throat. "But brother..."

Mewtwo clenched his jaw in an effort to fight his own annoyance from showing any more than it already was before looking back. "I have told you before, do not call me that."

"But we're linked! You're my family!" Mew was virtually wailing now, as he always did when this subject was brought up. It annoyed Mewtwo the way the legendary psychic tried to force the concept of 'family' on him. He fought to still the tail that longed to twitch in his anger- this, more than anything else, was what drove him to avoid the Pokémon he was cloned from.

"You are wrong," he spat, unable to hide the bitterness from his tone. "There are no links between us."

"You know that isn't true!" Mew's reasons for coming seemed forgotten in his anguish at Mewtwo's persistent rejections. How many times must they have this conversation? "The same blood runs through our veins, and that makes us brothers!"

Mewtwo sighed to himself. For all his age and wisdom, Mew had a stubborn innocence that would not allow him to understand, could not make him see... he turned his back on the legend once more. "You are wrong," he repeated firmly. "There can be no ties born from synthetic blood." He allowed a single lash of his tail, calm and controlled, to emphasize his point. "As such, I owe nothing to you and you should ask nothing of me."

Mew's head sagged on his body as he looked up at Mewtwo with mournful eyes. "That's your answer, then? You won't trust me, just this once?" The legendary psychic's voice wavered. "You won't help me?"

Mewtwo turned his back fully on his progenitor, staring up at the moon. "You and I come from different worlds. The sooner you can accept that, the better." Even though the tiny cat's chest had stopped heaving, he was still trembling slightly, making currents in the air. Mewtwo regarded the skies above with a cold silence as the legend behind him thought over what he had said. Finally, Mew sighed.

"All right." Mewtwo raised an eyebrow at the legendary Pokémon's exhausted yet inexplicably firm tone. "You win, for now anyway. I'll leave you alone for a while. But this does involve you, even if you can walk away from it for a little while, so I'll be coming back someday." Mew made a soft 'hn' noise behind him.. "And you'd better be ready to accept responsibility when I do." Mewtwo said nothing, content to gaze up at the great silver moon and the icy cold pinpricks of the stars, and there was another, softer sigh from behind him. "One of these days you're going to wish you listened to me more often."

"I sincerely doubt that." Strange how he could see every crater in the three-quarter moon tonight. The silver-white light as the sun reflected off of the great orb was soothing to him, as familiar as his own solitude. The moon reflected the sun just as he reflected the Pokémon standing behind him. It was as they were, Mewtwo though to himself for what seemed like the hundredth time. One a real, true light, vibrant and warm, the other a cold, pale false light that could not even illuminate its own shadow. There was a moment's silence as Mew regarded him from behind, and then the slightest of prickles in the back of his mind as his progenitor tried to read his thoughts. Mewtwo closed him out firmly, but not as painfully as he could have. Mew sighed a third time, a final, defeated breath of air. And when Mewtwo turned around, he was gone.

It was for the better anyway, the clone decided as he turned his face back to the moon above. He was meant to walk alone anyway, a quiet watcher, observer of the world around him. There simply was no place for a false light such as his, a cold refraction of what was pure and real. And that was what he was, then, was it not? Just a reflection. Just a refraction.

And there on the mountainside, alone with his own kind of cold humor, Mewtwo smiled.