A quick series of ficlets; the challenge from PokePrompts on LJ was to write five random song-based fics and spend 15 minutes or less on each.

lost to me

"Precious Things" by Tori Amos

The first time he saw Ho-oh was when he was ten.

It was a sunny day, but the bird Pokemon blocked it out. A shadow fell over Ecruteak City.

A sparkling shadow. A force dimmer than the sun, but stronger. A rainbow on a clear day.

He watched as it flew overhead, entranced. It was the first time he had seen Ho-oh, and the last time he would look upon it with such innocence.

He is eighteen, barely so, and the music from the dance theater is faint as he looks down at the ruins of the Brass Tower. His scarf blows in the wind coming from the open windows of the remaining building, and he scans the skies without expectation. He knows he is not ready. Ho-oh would not come for someone so young, so inexperienced.

He turns, Haunter following him as he walks down the stairs once again. The music grows louder as he re-approaches Ecruteak.

When he is older, he will prove himself. He knows it in his heart; he believes it. His intentions are pure, he thinks, and Ho-oh will see that.

He just needs more time. Time to train. Time to grow.

He was twenty-three when he was defeated in his training. He was surprised only by the age of the young girl who defeated him; defeat was necessary sometimes. The doubts surfaced in his mind - whether Ho-oh would truly choose him. She had something he didn't, though he could not name it.

Ho-oh was captured months later, by the same girl. She was an up-and-coming trainer, strong and kind. She would treat it well.

He never knew just when the innocence had gone. He prayed she kept hers.

things not seen

"Behind These Hazel Eyes" by Kelly Clarkson

Morty could remember not believing in ghosts. Sometimes, he remembered it so clearly it seemed real again.

At age nine, he lost a grandfather. At age twelve, an aunt. Death was not a subject unfamiliar in Ecruteak; it was part of the natural cycle of life, and the stark truth was better than a gentle lie.

Morty had only been slightly close to both relatives, but that did not mean he ignored their passing. Their souls were elsewhere, gone from Ecruteak, Johto, and all the known regions. Death was not mysterious, but neither was it something he should hope to comprehend.

Other trainers feared ghost Pokemon. Morty embraced them. They spoke to him; spoke of a world closer to him than any of his family or friends, lost to sickness or old age, inhabited. A world in reach, but intangible.

He had been taught to believe that Pokemon did not have souls. What, then, were these? The question did not frustrate him; he did not question his beliefs, only became more curious. Pokemon must have something humans did not.

The whispers bothered him, but his bond with the ghosts was true. Morty did not delude himself; these ghosts were independent spirits choosing to appear to him, not lost souls of anyone once human, or even once Pokemon. He would have had it no other way.

He never stopped paying his respects to the dead; nor did Morty ever disrespect the ghosts he worked beside. His questions remained unspoken: What are you? Where have you come from? Why are you here? The answers never came; at least, not in any sort of clear way.

Pokemon were revered in Ecruteak, up to and including the ghostly ones. Yet, even as the original trainer of ghosts in the town, Morty was never sure he understood them.

"I have trained here secretly for all my life. As a result, I can see what other cannot..."

He could never quite see through the apparitions.

silent night

"Be Like That" by 3 Doors Down

The sky was dark outside. There may have been stars; most likely there were, clearer than in any city like Goldenrod. The moon was half-full, waxing.

Hands folded behind his head, Morty stared up at the ceiling of Ecruteak Gym, darkness swallowing him all around. The trainers were present, but sleeping quietly alongside their Pokemon. His Gengar was taking a well-deserved rest after the day's several battles. Silence and darkness had settled neatly into the dusty corners of the building and layered themselves over each and every surface.

Tomorrow was the day Eusine left again in search of Suicune. The young trainer had already continued her quest; perhaps Ho-oh would appear to her someday, as he had predicted. Tomorrow, life would continue on in the city where ghosts dwelled; tomorrow, he would train and fight the next trainer or trainers who came in search of a Fog Badge.

Same routine. Same life. Same old, same old, and there was nothing wrong with it.

Morty didn't see the gym as his ball and chain; far from it, it was his stronghold, a place to grow ever stronger, to keep traditions as the world changed around him. It was a place to hold fast to what mattered to him.

Even if some of what mattered to him was halfway across the region some days, some weeks, some months of the year.

The stars shone outside; he had never needed to look at them, beautiful as they were. The darkness beckoned him, even more than the specks of light that peppered the sky and mesmerized the city people. The outside world was merely a bonus, a highly pleasant one.

The ghosts rested; slept, even. The silence was the quiet type, not the loud kind that drew out every sound. It was a truly peaceful moment.

Morty broke it, standing up quietly to navigate the pathways of the gym, heading towards the entrance.

Tonight, he might as well look at the stars. He could stand to miss the sleep.

time dies

"Where Will You Go" by Evanescence

Thirteen years. Thirteen years now, since he had begun striving for the power, the perfection, and the strength of self needed for Ho-oh to appear to him. Thirteen years had passed, and with each passing day he knew he was the one. He was the one Ho-oh would notice. He was the one who would become worthy.

It had been thirteen years since he first saw the bird of legends. Twelve years, eleven months and some twenty-something days since he'd determined to follow this path. Thirteen years, when all was said and done.

Thirteen years for him to grow stronger, it had been. Thirteen years for him to know his place in the world. Ho-oh had to recognize him. He was the pride of Ecruteak; he had trained the elusive ghost-types for years, remade the gym, and gained strength the whole way along. A hundred and fifty years had to be long enough. It wouldn't be long now.

It had taken thirteen years to get to where he was, and he was still growing. He would become clearer than a shadow, a silhouette, and shine brightly in Ho-oh's presence when the time came. There was nothing wrong with the shadows; they were where he operated from, and not that nor anything else would get in his way.

He treated his Pokemon with the utmost respect. He trained hard and followed traditions and morals, some over a century old. He was the one. It was inconceivable that things could turn out any other way.

Thirteen years had passed. He didn't regret the time he'd taken. The ten-year-old he had been never would have regretted spending so long training. The twenty-three-year-old couldn't wait thirteen more years.

Thirteen years wasn't a long time in the long run, but it was long enough. He was ready - had been ready for years, perhaps. Any day now.

Thirteen years was long enough to change a person.

future sight

"Shackled" by Vertical Horizon

Now he sleeps uneasily. The ghosts don't haunt him; they never have. He doesn't mind their presence. The quiet noises have returned to the silence; flickers of imagination have returned to the darkness. He minds that, more than he can say.

His dream has been seized by another, but he does not regret it. He tells himself he does, somewhat, but he does not. There are other fish in the sea, other birds in the sky, other reasons aplenty to hone his skills. There is a world around him, one he is familiar with, and almost as comfortable in as he is in the darkness.

He ventures out into that world. He sees friends and acquaintances, moves with the times even as he protects what has always been precious to him. He is as happy as he ever was, and as focused as he has ever been at any point in his life.

The sunlight is beautiful, and he enjoys it. The stars are nice as well, and he pays them attention some nights. He is still young, and he is certain he has a long way to go. He'll find his new destiny, and then the one after that, until he completes one. There is nothing wrong with that.

Still, when he returns to the silence, the starless ceiling and the darkness enveloping him, there is something missing - something he cannot have back. Something that has disappeared along with his purpose for the past thirteen years.

He no longer thinks of Ho-oh. That time is long gone, even if it is not far in the past at all. He searches his dreams, his sight, for a new shadow, a new destiny. He knows he will find one.

He just doesn't know that it will be his.

He meets up with the other Leaders, battles every trainer who challenges him with the same vigor he has always put into his Pokemon fights, and bonds with his Gengar and Misdreavus and alll the rest. He talks on his PokeGear and listens to the radio without ruining either his hopes or his image.

The world is his to live in, but the shadows are no longer his to command.

He meets up with the young girl, the trainer, the one who has claimed Ho-oh for her own. He speaks with her, sees how she has grown. They battle.

She offers to show him Ho-oh, for the first time in years.

He smiles quickly and shakes his head: No.