~*See Me Shattered*~
Broken into pieces that need to be picked up…
A familiar breeze caressed Lyra's skin as she exited Route 29 and entered New Bark Town.
It hasn't changed a bit.
The ocean wind that blew off of Route 27 caused the white windmills to turn themselves, and the nearly inaudible creak of their inner mechanisms reminded the Trainer that she was home at last. The grass was still soft and springy, well trodden by the multitude of steps that had flattened its green surface. The stretch of water near the various houses glittered in the sunlight, and everything was serene and peaceful.
An inquisitive sound from the Pichu at her feet earned Lyra's attention for a moment. The yellow Electric-type Pokémon peered up at her with bright black eyes, and the girl felt her throat clench painfully. Why did she leave this particular Pokémon out? Why didn't she have Meganium (bless his faithful heart) who at least wasn't filled with painful memories best left forgotten?
Because it's not his fault. Pichu hasn't done anything.
The thickly leafed trees surrounding New Bark shuffled their branches, creating a soft, murmuring cadence that sounded like a gentler echo of the nearby tide. Lyra gestured for Pichu to follow her, and focusing her gaze not on her own home, but on his, she walked carefully across the short, verdant green grass as if she feared a wild Pokémon encounter.
Upon reaching the door, Lyra lifted one hand and hesitated before knocking. Licking suddenly dry lips, she crossed her arms behind her back and sought to look casual. Pichu chirped cheerfully, short tail waving, and her heart ached again at the noise. As she waited, her eyes were inevitably drawn to a spot near Professor Elm's laboratory window, and she blinked conscientiously, remembering a flaming haired boy with—
The door opened and out stepped his dad. He was balding a bit on the top—signs of stress or old age, she didn't know for sure—but besides that, he appeared hale and hearty. His smile died on his face, becoming a perplexed, nervous grin. Scratching the back of his black-haired head, he said, "Well, hey there, Lyra. Been a while since you've stopped by."
She forced a grin of her own. "Yes, I'm sorry about that. Is Ethan there? I really need to talk to him."
"Well, no. He's out right now, should be back soon."
"C-Can I stay to wait for him? It's urgent. Or perhaps you know where he went…?" Lyra clasped her hands in front of her pleadingly, and Pichu mimicked the action.
"Lyra, dear, it's been three years since you were here last, and I used to see you every day. I haven't heard a peep from you since then, so you can come in…provided you tell me what's been going on." His face assumed a teasing expression, and with a snicker (he had ever been slightly immature) he stepped aside and let the Trainer in.
The house smelled of pine and sea salt and fresh cooking, the scent of a father working to be both a mom and a dad to his only child. It was a familiar aroma to her, like her home away from home.
She wasn't so concerned about her mother, now that she thought about it. After all, she had instructed her to go and "make nice" with her old childhood friend. (Never mind that she had been planning to do that since she had first arrived.)
Ethan's father got her a glass of iced lemonade and a plate of cookies, but Lyra didn't feel very hungry. Regardless, she forced herself to bite into the chocolate desert, chewing slowly without raising her eyes.
"Now, Lyra…tell me, where have you been? Y'know Ethan misses you, right?"
A sudden lump formed in her throat that she found it hard to swallow past. Pichu, blissfully unaware of his owner's discomfort, perched himself on the table and stole one of her cookies, nibbling it happily.
"I know. I'm really sorry, sir. I've actually talked to Ethan, even if you don't know."
He raised his eyebrows, leaning back in his chair. "Huh. What happened?"
"That's something I want to tell Ethan. You can learn from him, if you don't mind, sir." She picked at the contents on her plate, feeding the crumbs to her Pokémon. "It's not a pleasant story for me to tell twice."
Weak, he was right, you're weak!
"Hrm. Well, there he is now." Her friend's father nodded at the door as it opened, and she stiffened in shock as she heard the well-known tread of a Marill's quick paws followed by the slower steps of a human.
"Dad, have you—oh…Lyra."
Slowly, she turned in her seat at the table and looked at him guiltily. He was different now, older. And of course he would be! Why should time wait for me? He was dressed mostly the same, but his eyes were darker and his voice had become a slightly deeper pitch.
But he still had that boyish charm about him, of a childish dreamer that would never quite grow up.
She jerked her hand to the side in a quick wave, with her Pichu instantly dropping his cookie and springing to the ground to hiss threateningly at Marill. The Water-type was utterly unperturbed, even when sparks began to fly from the Electric Mouse's cheeks. Instead, Marill opted to glare accusingly at Lyra before rushing back to her master.
The girl was unable to meet Ethan's gaze, in case she would find the same thing there as his Pokémon's.
The silence stretched on, and unexpectedly the air was thick with broken promises and unanswered Pokégear calls.
"Come on," Ethan announced at last. He turned and strode out the door, and at first Lyra thought he had only been speaking to his Marill. However, his father nudged her and said he had been staring at her when he had spoken.
"Pichu, return," Lyra whispered, sending the quick-to-fight Electric-type back into his Pokéball. He'd make a strong battler yet, he quite obviously wasn't a weak Pokémon…(and of course he wasn't, his previous owner had never liked feeble Pokémon.)
"Don't be afraid of ol' Ethan," the aforementioned boy's father advised behind her as she made her way towards the house's exit. "He's not gonna hurt you, he's just a bit confused and hurt."
"Y-Yeah," was all she answered with.
He was waiting for her right outside the door, but as soon as she emerged, he whipped around and stalked into the forest that ridged the entirety of New Bark. Taking a steadying breath, Lyra followed him.
I brought this on me. I need to face up to it.
Regardless, as they speed-walked through the clustering trees, the girl released her Meganium from his Pokéball for good luck. The 5'11" dinosaur-like Pokémon trotted at her side, long neck lowered so his head was at her level, golden antennae flapping behind him with every step. She placed her hand between Meganium's shoulder blades and continued on.
The shadows became heavier, obscuring the forest floor. Several times Lyra almost tripped over an upraised root, and it was with a bitter feeling that she realized what he was showing her. She had once known the area around New Bark Town like the back of her hand, but now it was only a fading memory. Not quite clear, not quite real.
Kanto's sunlit roads and Hoenn's moonlit seas were far more familiar now.
They entered a very small clearing—the term used loosely here—where some of the trees had retreated enough for a patch of grass to grow freely. It was pressed close to the earth by, Lyra thought, Marill paws. It seemed Ethan came here often, with his trusty Pokémon always at his heels. Golden rays from above just barely penetrated the tightly knit branches, speckling the ground with tiny spots of light. Wildflowers flourished around the very edges of the miniature field, creating a sweet-smelling aroma that was only rivaled by the scent that hung around Meganium's own pink petals.
Ethan stopped. He turned almost reluctantly to face her, as if losing himself in the woods would be more appealing than talking with her.
But no. He wouldn't—couldn't—get lost. He knows his way around here.
With an effort, Lyra made her eyes meet his. She flinched at the accusation (just as she feared) that burned in his brown pupils.
"So…welcome home." Ethan burrowed his hands into the pockets of his shorts, blinking at her once before staring at the sky. Marill waved her tail and snuck off to vanish amongst the foliage. Meganium snorted once before folding his legs underneath him and resting on his haunches as if to say, this will take a while.
Look at me.
"Um…yeah. So, how are you?" Lyra's own forced happiness sounded false to both of their ears.
"I've been better. I had a friend once that I used to hang out with and call all the time. Then one day, she stopped picking up and I never heard from her again for a year. Made me wonder if I did something wrong. I had gotten to the point where I had forgotten all about her. Sometimes I thought she went on to be famous and forgot about me."
"Don't be like that," she murmured, moving her fingers to her Meganium's antennae and toying with the strands. "Ethan, please. I'm really sorry about what happened. That's why I'm here to tell you about it."
"Took your time, didn't you?" His gaze slid back to hers with a lazy, sardonic air. His smile in her direction was openly mocking. "Champion Lyra, it's an honor to hear about your life's story."
"Don't! Don't you start too! I hate being called Champion." Hunching her shoulders, the girl resisted the urge to pull her hat down so that she couldn't see Ethan's narrowed, smoldering eyes. "Will you listen to me?"
Marill made a noise that sounded an awful lot like no from somewhere off in the bushes. Meganium pulled his lips back and growled ominously at her, pivoting his head to face the hidden Water-type.
"That's why we're out here," Ethan said at last.
"Good," Lyra breathed, relieved. Her heart thumped painfully again just thinking about it. It had been the first time she had had her heart broken to tiny shards…and why shouldn't it be? Why had she trusted him of all people?
He was assessing her reaction, her silence. He wasn't even fiddling with his cap. His stare felt heavy on her skin, as if he could see straight down to her fractured core.
The statement hung between them, causing Ethan to raise his eyebrows.
"You mean that boy, the burglar that made off with a Cyndaquil?"
"He's a Typhlosion now. Silver's my rival, you know…the guy I battled all the way to the Elite Four? So after I became Champion f-for the second time…after taking out Kanto's Gyms…" Oh Arceus, why did it sound like she was bragging? "About two weeks after I called to tell you I was going to Hoenn, he showed up. And we fought, and got to talking, and…"
"You fell in love." His voice became harsh. "You fell in love with a thief."
"He's not a thief!" Lyra objected, but Ethan interrupted her before she was even finished.
"Why are you defending him?"
"He's not as bad as you think," she whispered, clutching her free hand into a fist. Meganium blinked dolefully at Marill and the aquatic mouse shrugged her tiny shoulders.
Ethan clearly disagreed but motioned for her to go on.
"We dated for about a year and a half."
"So it's not his fault you didn't call?"
"Not at all," Lyra replied. In truth, it wasn't. "I've been gone for three years, right?" At his nod, she continued. "'Gone' meaning I haven't been home?"
"He went with me to Hoenn, and…that's where we broke up."
The words came out slower. "He…said we weren't right for each other. We made a mistake. I was happy, actually. I guess he wasn't. I think I know why he did this. Silver is hesitant to bond with anything that might make him weak or vulnerable. I guess…he saw me as a risk. Our relationship was a risk. So we broke it off."
"That doesn't explain—" Ethan started hotly.
"It does. I was being stupid, and the true reason for this is…the whole year I was in Hoenn without Silver, I was too hurt to talk to anyone. I just battled and went on my way. It's the first time I've had my heart smashed, and I really thought Silver was the one. Guess I was wrong."
Ignoring that, she finished by kneeling beside her Meganium and clutching onto his warm, scaly skin for support. "Silver was right. I am weak sometimes, and I guess he's my weakness. He was my rival and my friend, now that we've…broken up…But I'm not going to cry anymore, so…Oh my gosh this is such a pathetic excuse, but that's all I have to offer you, Ethan. I was too heartbroken to face anyone for a while. It only got worse when I saw Silver whenever I went traveling. He—"
Lyra clamped her mouth shut and felt her cheeks flame. "S-Sorry."
Ethan turned his back, arms crossed, and she wished he would at least face her so she could guess what he was thinking, could imagine what might be bounding through his head. But he stayed that way for a long time, until the smell of the wildflowers and Meganium's naturally sweet scent became overpowering and she wanted to gag.
Her heart lifted hopefully. "W-What?"
"Okay. I accept your apology. I don't think this Silver guy is worth so much torment, but I've not had my heart crushed that way so…What do I know?" Ethan looked at her again and he smiled just a little. The single motion was worth more to her now than any partial upturning of the lips from Silver.
Leaping to her feet, Lyra raced forward and embraced her childhood friend without even pausing to consider her actions. "You understand," she said softly into his shirt as he twisted in surprise to face her. "You always understand. Thank you."
His arms wrapped around her and he returned the hug. She was struck dumb by the feeling of rightness she was getting, feeling more secure and at home than she ever had with Silver.
Of course, she mused to herself privately. Of course.
Three more heartbeats sailed by before they pulled away, both of them blushing somewhat. Marill squeaked in joy, her scowl at Lyra becoming a silly grin. Meganium shook his flower loose, the golden dust from the blossom wrapped on his neck swirling around the pair and glittering in the sunlight like embers. Every breath she took was laden with the distinct aroma of sugary syrup.
Swallowing hard, somehow unable to look Ethan in the eyes now, she pretended to have a sudden, spontaneous interest in her shoes. Meganium huffed and lumbered off somewhere, Marill following, and Ethan just stood still.
"Tell me about Silver. How did you end up attracted to a thief?"
Lyra tensed, waiting for the crackle of pain that the mention of Silver always caused. She found it wasn't as unbearable as she had imagined it would be. "He's strong, and stoic. He has this pull you just can't resist; it sort of materialized after we kissed for the first time."
Ethan made a growling sound. "How was it?"
"The kiss?" She glanced up, amused despite herself. He looked annoyed at the mere concept of Silver's lips anywhere near hers. "That's a bit personal."
His gaze became shadowy again. "You owe me," he reminded her.
"He kisses so hard that he takes my breath away." These words came out in a rush. "Happy?"
He didn't seem like it.
"I…" Lyra felt a memory sweep across her before she could stop it, and her eyes shut tight in an effort to repel the image, but to no avail.
It was dark here, and no one would see them. She was stepping back from him, afraid of his questions, his constant mantra. "Why can't I win?" he pleaded more than demanded, for it seemed as if he was hoping that she held all the answers.
"I don't know," she managed to stutter. The Dragon's Den was empty for once, devoid of the Ace Trainers and Dragon Tamers that dwelled within its hollowed interior. The cave had just her and him, and no one else to see what happened next.
She was backed into a corner, and he towered over her, black eyes blazing behind their mane of crimson hair. He put one hand out to block her escape—his nails were digging into the wall—staring down with a multitude of emotions flashing through his gaze.
"What's your secret?" Silver asked at last, and Lyra just shook her head.
"It's no secret," she replied shakily. "I love my Pokémon, and I know they can do it. I believe you can do it too. You'll beat me one day and I'll happily admit defeat. Okay?"
"How can you be so strong yet be so…hmph." For a moment his hand withdrew, and it seemed she was free to go. Not that she had been scared; mind, because her Gliscor was still awake and active, watching the exchange with suspicious yellow eyes.
As soon as she made to shuffle meekly past him, he abruptly grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. Gliscor hissed in warning but by then it was too late. Lyra gasped as she felt his mouth crush against hers, and her entire body trembled for an instant as she realized what he was doing.
All she could feel was that fire. It swept through her system, destroying everything in its path, and she felt herself kissing him back before she could stop, before she could think. His lips were a burning force melded to her own and she was helpless to do anything.
A strange, blissful, wonderful kind of help—
And suddenly Ethan was there, shaking her shoulders until she snapped back to the world at hand. The recollection had been so incredibly vivid and real that she swore Silver had kissed her only just an instant ago.
He watched her, took in every action moving across her face, and she wondered if he liked what he saw. Was she still Lyra, the girl that had played make believe with him and had harmless sleepovers under starry skies, or was she Champion Lyra, a young woman so completely alien that she was just another determined face in the growing crowd of capable Trainers?
"You were thinking of him," he remarked offhandedly. His hands dropped to his sides and his gaze flickered to the right, to the left, anywhere but at Lyra, lost in blistering memories of heat and flame.
"Yes, I'm sorry. I…yeah." She sighed, feeling a peculiar sensation building up inside of her. "Are you happy now?"
"I'm sorry?" Ethan questioned quizzically.
"I said are you happy now?" Lyra spread her arms out, smiling brokenly. "You've seen me shattered, smashed into tiny pieces, and they lay where they've fallen since that day, a year and a half ago. I've fought a gang, bikers, Gym Leaders, Champions, Pokémon Masters on hailing mountains and everything else you can imagine, not crying once. I've been strong everywhere else…but all it took was one boy that had my heart and dropped it for me to…fall apart. Pathetic. All of this unnecessary angst over a boyfriend, but for some reason, no matter how much I think he's just one boy…it still hurts. Badly."
Ethan seemed startled when a few tears started leaking from her pale blue eyes, and he hesitated for a heartbeat before reaching out and wiping them away. She blinked at him as he slowly stepped closer, just a little.
"It's justified, I mean, he was your first boyfriend and a friend you trusted at that. It doesn't help that I'm making you talk about him when you were doing just fine before I brought him up. Of course it'll be a bit…difficult, but I'll make the pain go away. I promise."
Of course, she thought. Of course. Why hadn't I seen this before?
The moment was lost as a volley of infuriated squeaking earned both of their attentions. Meganium, not far away, had settled down near a berry bush and was gulping down masses of the sweet items. He had one paw extended, flat on Marill's face, easily keeping the irritated Water-type at bay due to his superior strength and size. Marill, regardless, endeavored to keep rushing forward in case she could prove successful in dislodging Meganium's foot from her face.
The sight was so ridiculous that Ethan started chuckling, low in his throat, and soon Lyra joined in. They both had an all-out laughing fit, clinging to their respective sides. She leaned against a large tree for support, snickering to herself all the while, gasping for air.
It had been so long since she had laughed like this, and she understood now how stupid she had been in secluding herself away in Hoenn to wallow in self pity. Finally, her mirth passed and the girl opened her eyes—
To see Ethan less than six inches from her. He appeared just as shocked, his face slack with surprise, one hand resting on the trunk of the tree to support himself. Apparently, during his merriment, he had chosen to keep himself upright by using the same tree as she. His fingers were so close that they brushed her brown hair.
It was just like with Silver. Ethan was in front of her and there was nowhere to run. But this felt different. Better. Not trapped, not cornered, but as if she had stood there by choice. Bonded with her old friend through years of laughter and sunshine, here was a person she knew better than herself. Someone she could trust without thinking.
Not a boy that had started out as a thief, but a boy that had started out as her companion.
Lyra looked down. "I hope Meganium doesn't get fat," she joked halfheartedly.
She tugged at her satchel's strap, nervous but unwilling to move away. Unlike Silver, she was capable of shoving Ethan from her if she wanted. "He's going to get sick from all of those berries, I bet."
Still, nothing. Genuinely distressed, she chanced a peek at him.
Her heart stuttered.
Ethan was staring at her, his stance a little tense, his eyes displaying something new and radiant that turned his dark auburn eyes into gold in the sunshine. It was mysterious and vivid, new and unexpected, but it was something that she liked. Something that made her feel warm all over, and that wasn't because of tangerine rays coating an obscure forest meadow.
It's something…that Silver never made me feel. With Silver I always felt like I was on fire when he held me…with Ethan, I'm…comfortable.
How had she never noticed how fluid her name sounded when he spoke it?
"Yes?" She said back, and her voice was even, not staggeringly shy like it was with…
Of course. Of course. I've missed it before.
He didn't blink, not once. "Mind if I be cliché for a second?" And there was the smile, that endearing smile made from more than a decade of memories that meant home more than Silver ever could.
"If you must." She pretended to groan theatrically. "Cliché is so overdone these days."
His smile didn't waver, but that new spark in his eyes seemed to intensify until she was unable to look away. "There's something I want to tell you," he whispered.
Lyra wanted to preserve this moment, just like how her traitorous mind had perfectly captured her first kiss. She studied him one more time before simply allowing her lids to descend and hide her gaze from his.
Her body didn't flinch or recoil like it had with Silver. Maybe because she knew what to expect now, or maybe because she simply wasn't nervous or afraid. Her trust with Ethan ran deeper than her bond with anyone, even her Meganium.
The touch of his lips was hesitant, careful. But like the rest of him, it was made from sunbeams. A pleasant warmth swept through her from the contact point, and she smiled against him.
Of course. Of course.
There was no movement of their tongues, something she was grateful for since Silver had never been one to ease into things when it came to kissing. One of her hands found his free one, and she interlaced their fingers together tightly. Ethan wasn't harsh, wasn't rough. He was gentle, and she let him lead, finding no reason to. Despite the fact that he was being extraordinarily light about it, she could still taste him.
Sweet. Like the clearing they were in, and so similar to the scent of the wildflowers around the pair that she wondered if, maybe, he had been tending to them. A secret garden she had never known, would never have known, if she hadn't decided it was time to face him and the unanswered Pokégear calls that had been between them.
When it was over, she was beyond words. She wasn't left gasping and clinging to his shirt for air, not like she did with Silver. No, he had let her breathe.
She finally opened her eyes when she was able to, and Ethan was watching her, concerned, his dear golden-brown eyes fixed on hers and she couldn't help but wonder how she had ever imagined them just to be the color of new bark.
She put a hand up to stop the stream of apologies that were threatening to spill out. "Don't be. Thank you."
"For what?" His facial expression clearly read that he thought he had crossed some kind of boundary.
"For being there, even when I wasn't for you." More of Meganium's yellow pollen particles whipped around them, and it was as if they had entered a fairy tale world of dreams and untapped possibilities. "For understanding."
"You're welcome," he replied, flummoxed. Rubbing the back of his head and pulling away sheepishly, he asked without looking at her, "What are you going to do now?"
"I'm headed to Sinnoh," was her prompt response.
Disappointment painted his voice gray. "Oh."
Lyra slipped her hand into his, and she smiled at how right it felt. Something she could accept without struggling deep down in her heart and soul. "Will you come with me?"
Ethan perked up considerably, and he smiled. She understood that spark in his eyes now. His love for her, stronger than Silver's had ever been. She wondered why that was, briefly, before shoving it away.
"Of course! Marill can't wait to try those Sinnoh Gyms!" He pumped his fist into the air and turned to exclaim excitedly to his friend, causing the Water-type to squeal with delight. Meganium stood with more dignity and padded to Lyra's side, his gaze pleased.
She wasn't sure how many Johto Gyms he had beaten while she was gone, but there was always time to catch up later. Laying her hand on her Meganium's head, scratching his scales, Lyra grinned softly to herself, meeting Ethan's eyes again.
It had been him all along.
My first real Pokémon romance. What did you think? Obviously, the protagonists of HeartGold and SoulSilver star here.
No, I don't have anything against LyraxSilver. I like it too, and maybe I'll do one, sooner or later.
Reviews would be greatly appreciated, thanks for the read!