disclaimer. I do not own Pokémon or any of the characters depicted here.
warnings. Rape, non-con.
Have you seen this boy? she asks, but of course, she never gets a reply.
Have you seen—? She holds up the picture of them, clinched in an eternal embrace with the light of innocent love in their eyes, all in the hopes of getting the name that goes with the face, but the response is always the same.
Nope, not a clue.
Is he your boyfriend?
A lovers' quarrel, eh?
Hope you find him.
Each phrase hits her like a physical blow, unwittingly cruel reminders of the fact that the person for whom she searches for seems to have vanished from the face of the earth. She winces at each sympathetic glance, recoils from every gentle reassurance, because accepting them will mean accepting the fact that he has disappeared without a trace.
Where did you go? she murmurs to the photo, but of course, glazed smiles trapped in perpetual stasis on glossy paper do not respond.
She's waited for him for well over a year, but she's received no correspondences from him. She wonders, fleetingly, whether he's gone the same way as the legendary Red of Kanto, the boy who exiled himself to the lonely peak of Mount Silver, dissatisfied and disenchanted with the world which surrounded him.
No, it can't be.
Touko stares down at the laughing faces preserved forevermore on the image before her, on a rectangle of four-by-six photographic paper. She traces the line of their mouths, curved into the widest of grins; she gazes long and hard at the features before her, until her vision blurs and she can no longer tell where reality stops and the recollections begin.
So much for your promises, she says to nobody at all.
I'll be back, he had said before he left. I want to see what the rest of the world has to offer. I want to meet with the strongest trainers from each region and meet them in battle.
She had forced herself to meet his eyes, to see the earnestness which burned there, brighter than any flame.
I have to do this, Touko. I want to know what it is to truly be strong.
She had smiled and nodded, had pulled him into a hug.
I understand, she had said into his shoulder. Stay safe. Come back soon.
And he had left soon after, leaving without a backwards glance.
The lost boy, the forgotten boy, gazes dull-eyed at the Pokémon that bobs and floats serenely at his shoulder, ghostly flames burning in its wake. Somewhere within its fiery core, he feels a tug, an imperceptible pull of his heartstrings.
He had left to conquer the world, to prove himself, to cement his place in the universe. Instead of strength, instead of reassurance, he had lost himself somewhere along the way.
Somewhere within the Shandera's flickering belly, his soul had called out to him, begging him to release it.
But he couldn't.
Initially, he was able to feel it, lost and confused within the genie-lamp innards of the will-o'-wisp Pokémon. It pressed against the walls of its prison, screaming in his head for freedom. His soul, Touya found, had a voice which managed to permeate through his apathetic fugue, awakening within him a memory of who he once was.
He had fought back at first, had reached out blindly to the silent Shandera as it burned purple-black, mocking him with the hollow lustre of its soulless stare.
He had fought and struggled, had waged mental war against the otherworldly flames that licked eagerly at the remnants of his will. Fighting against its hold, he found, was like fighting against fire itself: it danced and capered gleefully out of his grasp, incorporeal as it slipped between his fingers, only to recoil when he was least expecting it, twisting in upon itself to bite and snap at his trembling hands with its burning touch.
Now, instead of pain, instead of the vague, half-formed recollections of his past returning to him in slivers and fragments, he feels nothing for the first time in months. This emptiness is a welcome relief to the agony of before; his head is now silent, so blissfully silent—at last, his soul's voice has been stifled, smothered, now but a mere wisp smouldering on its pyre.
So this is what nothingness is like.
The lost boy, the forgotten boy, gazes dull-eyed at the Pokémon that bobs and floats serenely at his shoulder, ghostly flames burning in its wake. With a gleeful twirl of its glowing spun-glass body, it whisks the youth away, enveloping him in its shroud of funereal fire.
She is almost prepared to give up her search when he walks back into her life, slipping back in so easily that it seems almost as though he had never left it to begin with.
It's a chilly winter evening and she's on her way to the closest Pokémon Centre for shelter for the night, when he appears silently before her, stepping into her path as though he had been there all along. As though he had never vanished from the face of the earth. As though he had not disappeared without a trace.
He's standing there, standing with hands stuffed into his jacket pockets, looking all in the world like someone who has been out hiking for far too long. He's different, somehow, even though nothing about him has changed—he's still got the same unruly shock of brown hair, the same cap nestled atop the rumpled mess. He's got the same blue jacket, the same bag slung across his body, the same sneakers with the laces trailing behind in a knotted tangle.
Why, then, does doubt begin to gnaw on the edge of her thoughts, dampening the thrill of relief that surges through her?
Almost like all the warmth and life has been sucked from her surroundings. He advances on her, a sickle-moon smile on his face, eyes hollow and empty. It's wrong, all wrong. This isn't what she imagined their reunion to be like.
No, she envisioned joy, she envisioned tears. She had imagined sobs of relief and bone-crushing hugs, had imagined an entire reality which doesn't match up to the reality that is unfolding before her.
Her voice leaves her throat in a sigh, soft and uncertain. Silhouetted against the full-bellied moon, the lost boy seems so different from the one she knew, the one with the infectious smile and laughing eyes. His features are sharp in the gloom, the planes of his face distorted by the jagged slats of light spilling from between whispering leaves.
"You're back," she breathes, and her simple statement breaks the spell. He blinks once, lids flicking shut, then resumes his languid forward pace until he seems to fill her vision, until he seems to tower over her.
She's scared. But why should she be? Surely it is irrational to feel that way. It's Touya. Friend. Companion. Almost-lover—
"I've missed you," Touko whispers, as she stands up on her tiptoes to envelop him in a hug.
She doesn't expect what happens next—why should she? Never, in all their times together, has he been one to initiate contact so, not when both of them were little more than blushing youths, unable to express their feelings save for with the most awkward of gestures.
"Say something, anything," she pleads into his chest, knuckles white as she clutches at the back of his jacket. Through the fabric, she can feel the tempo of his pulse, the shallow rhythm of his breath, but something seems wrong, somehow.
He shifts suddenly, a short, erratic motion that makes her take an unconscious step back. She gasps when his hands – so cold, so clammy – close around her wrists with an insistent firmness which doesn't seem to match up with the expression on his face. Then—
Touko freezes when his lips press against hers, crushing her against him when he pulls her close. She had imagined their first kiss going differently, far differently to what is happening now.
Where are the fireworks which all good romance novels talked about? The expectant tingle on her skin, the butterfly-beat of her fluttering heart, the way their bodies should fit together, like pieces of a puzzle—all of those sensations are painfully absent. In place of breathless joy, she only feels a dull pulse of fear, an insistent undercurrent of impending danger which buzzes like a swarm of wasps at the base of her skull.
"What are you doing?" she manages to gasp out, tearing herself away from him. He does not respond—not at first.
"Have you seen hell?" he asks at last, a twisted smile curling, snakelike, across his lips. Mutely Touko shakes her head, fingers clenched as she gazes at him.
"N-no," she breathes, suddenly terribly, terribly afraid. "Touya, wh-what are you talking about?"
He stalks towards her, dark eyes glittering in the half-light. An irrational, irrelevant notion strikes her mind. It's like a dance between predator and prey, Touko thinks distractedly, backing away slowly from the boy she had thought she would never see again. The bark of the tree is rough against her legs; in the face of mortal peril, she is struck by how very corporeal and present the world around her is. She is acutely aware of the frayed edges of her shorts against her skin, of the chill in the night air that licks her shoulders with airy tongues, of the feel of the pebbles beneath her boots.
Out of the corner of her eye, she glimpses movement; she reacts—far too late.
A lot can change in the blink of an eye.
The breath is knocked forcibly from her lungs when Touya pins her to the tree with rough, hard hands; her struggles are useless against his grip—she has no hope of escaping, not with him leering at her with such awful intent in those eyes she thought she had known so well.
He kisses her, chastely at first, then with increasing brutality. When she tries to turn her head away, his hand snakes forth, grasping her by the jaw, forcing her to look at him. She keeps her mouthed clamped shut, even as Touya leans closer again, and then—
Against her better judgment, she opens her mouth for a sharp intake of breath; he slips his tongue between her lips—the first invasion of her body.
"Stop," Touko begins weakly, but her protests fall on deaf ears; she feels the tears prickle behind her eyes, feels the fear starting to burn and coil deep in the pit of her stomach. This isn't how things should be.
At her words, Touya exhales with a hiss, pulling stiffly away from her. "No. You stop," he says blandly, his voice toneless, emotionless. "Stop struggling. Stop talking. Just stop."
With the hand still cupping her jaw, he gently strokes her chin, the simple caress sending shivers down her spine. Then, almost as an afterthought, he forces his fingers into her mouth.
The suddenness of his motion makes her choke; the fear drains out of her, only to be replaced by numbing panic. Every nerve in Touko's body is screaming for her to clamp down, to push him away and to run, but dread roots her in place, powerless and helpless, like a deer in the headlights.
This can't be happening, she thinks to herself, even as Touya's other hand snakes down to her shorts, as he pops the button and pulls the zipper down.
Telltale clinks tell her he is unbuckling his belt. When he pulls his hand from her mouth, she almost gags at the sharp metallic tang which lingers in her throat, a harsh, stinging aftertaste that leaves her gasping for breath. This time, when she closes her eyes, she can't stop the tears. They sting at her skin, burning and searing like the most corrosive acid.
By the time Touya pulls her shorts and undergarments to her knees, her mind has ceased to function. She watches as though from a great distance, watches as the boy grips the girl roughly by the shoulders, forcing her against the bark, pressing her face to the irregular surface.
This isn't how she imagined her first time to be. It is nothing close to what she had imagined. Touko had imagined satin sheets and a bed of roses, the red stark against the white. She had imagined proclamations of eternal and everlasting love, had imagined gentle caresses and—
Her mind snaps back to reality when he positions himself behind her—she is unprepared for the intrusion of his body in hers. The pain makes her buck against him, bumping her tailbone against his pelvis. Touya moans softly, an almost inhuman sound; he arches away from her, digging his nails into her skin.
He winds his fingers into her hair, wrenching her head sharply back as he pushes deeper into her. Touko can only stare blindly at the canopy of rustling leaves over her head, unable to keep the ragged, choked sobs from leaving her constricted throat. "Stop," she cries in a tinny, strangled voice which doesn't sound like her own. "Please…stop. Stop. Stop."
The lost boy, the forgotten boy, lowers his head, tracing the salty trails of her tears with his tongue. His voice is a deadened shadow of his former self as he runs his teeth along her ear, scraping it along the cartilage. "Instead of my tomorrow, I found hell," he murmurs against her cheek. "I found hell. It's been with me all along."
Her eyes water with pain—not only from the grip he has on her hair, but also from the agony which claws at her insides, scraping her raw. Touya is making no sense, no sense at all. Nothing makes sense any more—perhaps this is just a dream and she will wake up from it, shaking and sweaty in her bed with her heart hammering in her throat and a scream on her lips.
In her current state, she is no longer sure of what is real and what is not—she isn't sure if she imagined Touya's words, isn't sure whether she is hot or cold – she is freezing on the inside, but yet her skin is hot and clammy. She isn't sure if the bobbing mote of light which casts a sickly pallor of fiend-fire over their flushed faces is real or not. She isn't sure if—
His teeth scrape against the back of her neck, bruising, puncturing the skin; a line of red blooms along the trail of indentations. As she blinks back tears, the wavering circle of brightness seems to move, floating from its position to circle them.
Touya's Shandera, a small part of her mind whispers with confusion. Somehow, she is not surprised—not when most of her consciousness has shut down and closed itself off from what is happening, has blocked out the shallow, disjointed gasps of the boy who is tearing her apart from the inside out.
The Pokémon dips and sways before her, creating a flickering shadow-theatre of their surroundings. Behind her, she hears a strangled hiss, feels the hands tightening—
Touya shudders convulsively, no sound escaping from between his clicking teeth save for a short, staccato breath; his grip slackens and she slumps against the tree, trembling with the wrongness of it all. She is disgusted at the warmth which trickles down her thighs, is appalled at the small, small part of her mind which is telling her this isn't so bad, it isn't so bad.
It is over as suddenly as it begins: Touya steps away from her, and even though she is determined not to look at him, she knows he is rearranging his clothes, making things seem like nothing is wrong.
"But everything is wrong," Touko blurts out suddenly, as she struggles to tug her clothes back into place. Once she is able to at least regain some meagre semblance of her dignity, she allows her knees to give way, sinking slowly to the leaf-strewn ground.
The leaves scrape and chafe against her skin—this is real, her senses are telling her. This is all very real. It's not a dream, and you're in it.
The trainer who gazes implacably down at her is not the same boy she had bade farewell to a few months ago. Despite what he has done, she cannot find it in her to hate him – not when he looks so very much like the Touya she had hugged goodbye last spring.
"Hell's in my head," he tells her matter-of-factly as he turns to leave, the silent Shandera hovering by his shoulder, like a ventriloquist behind the scenes. "I've seen it, I've found it—hell's all around me, and it'll never leave me."
He sways on the spot, grinning inanely, his cheeks as pale as they had been when she first laid eyes on him. "It speaks to me, tells me what to do. It tells me that if I do what it says, everything will be made right. It's what it says. It has to be true."
His sentences curl in upon themselves like flakes of ash on a dying fire. Touko shivers. He's not making sense. Nothing makes sense anymore.
"I'll see you there, someday," the boy says serenely. "Everybody goes there in the end."
And with that he's gone, walking where the will-o'-wisp leads him—surely, she thinks, to his destruction.
In her current state, she is no longer sure of what is real and what is not—were it not for the pain which dulls to a sullen, throbbing ache, she could have sworn he had never even been there in the first place.
notes. For the Pokémon kink meme on LiveJournal.