Characters/Pairing: Jun/Hikari (Barry/Dawn)
Disclaimer: Pokemon is property of Nintendo.
No Place Too Far
Hikari never makes it past Jubilife City.
The truth is, she's never really wanted to be a Pokémon trainer in the first place. Sure, she's always liked listening to Jun talk about it, seeing his eyes light up and his wildly exaggerated hand motions accompany his rapid exclamations, but she would've hung on to every single one of his words even if he had been talking about his fishing trips with his dad.
"When we're old enough, let's be Pokémon trainers, just like my dad," he'd said to her once. "We can travel Sinnoh together, see lots of cool places, just you and me."
No, Hikari has never really liked Pokémon that much, but she's always really liked Jun, so when he makes her pinky swear on it, Hikari doesn't miss a beat.
But it's Jun who forgets their promise, Jun who's too impatient to start his journey, running out of town before even properly saying goodbye to his mother. And when Hikari finally manages to catch up with him in Jubilife City, she barely even has time to say goodbye before he's foisted the extra map in the parcel onto her and jolted out the Trainer school's door.
It hurts. It hurts so bad that all she wants is to go home and give up. What reason does he have to wait for her when his Turtwig pummeled her Piplup so easily in their first Pokémon battle? When the distance between their skill levels is so great?
Hikari has come too far to give up, though. If Pokémon isn't her thing, then somehow, she would learn to catch Jun's attention some other way.
This is what happens instead: Hikari walks around Jubilife, eyes widening over the dazzling lights and wide streets of the city and momentarily forgetting about all her other worries. It isn't that Hikari has never been to the city before, but she's always been a small-town girl and has never been so, so alone. She doesn't know where to go, what to do.
After taking a Pokétch coupon from the clown outside the TV station, she's accosted by a bespeckled man in a pristine suit.
"Miss! Miss!" He waves her over.
Hikari may be a small-town girl, but she's heard the horror stories and isn't stupid by any means. She eyes him warily, but approaches anyway.
"Miss." He smiles at and hands her a flyer. Hikari squints at it suspiciously. "We're having a live singing competition at the station later. The first place winner gets to move up to the national competition to complete for a contract with Silph Co. Records. Could I interest you in participating?"
Hikari looks up at him, then down at the paper again. Then she makes a decision.
It would be a lie to say Hikari has never thought about being famous, being a star. But perhaps unlike most girls her age, she has never fixated on it. Hikari has small dreams for a small-town girl, and most of them revolve around her best friend.
Still, her mother had managed to instill in her a love of contests at a young age. Bows and ribbons, laces and frills, pinks and whites; she loves it all. More than all of that, though, and differently from being famous, she's always loved the rush of standing in the spotlight, center stage. Differently from being famous because she doesn't need them to know who she is or remember her afterwards, but for those few minutes, she loves having all eyes fixated on her.
That's all - and when she steps off the stage, she is content to return to being Hikari, just a pretty smile in a pretty dress with her small-town dreams.
Perhaps that's why she says yes. Hikari's not a particularly good singer, decent enough to hold a tune but there's nothing spectacularly stunning about her voice. Still, she's always loved contests, and singing contest or whatever, she gets to be up there on stage, and that's why she says yes.
She spends one of the two free hours before the show goes live backstage picking a song, flipping through the station's entire catalogue of popular hits until she finally finds one she even knows. Being a small-town girl, she's never cared much about who's famous and what music's popular, but this one, it's one that even she's heard her mother hum while doing housework.
She spends the other deciding between the three contests outfits she's packed - eventually settling on the pink one with white ruffled edges - then choosing the accessories that would go with her dress, before heading over to the make-up station.
It's only when she steps out on stage that Hikari realizes she's never practiced. She smiles uncertainly at the audience, grips the edge of her dress with the hand that's not holding the microphone, and sways as the introduction of the music begins to play.
She catches a shaky breath between the first and second verses, hoping she's not too out of tune. Then, she closes her eyes to think of Jun.
Hikari almost forgets that she's in front of an audience until the moment the music stops. The applause hits her ear and her eyes snap open in shock, a slight red tinge rising to her cheeks for having momentarily forgotten.
She bows politely to the audience and, as the MC reads out the phone number and instructions on how to vote for her, a sweet smile lingering on her face.
It's a surprise to her, at least, at the end of the show, that the MC pulls her up and announces her as the second highest vote-getter. She smiles and bows again, all pink and fills and confetti, accepting the tiara as her consolation prize.
She doesn't get to move on to the national competition, but Hikari isn't much of singer anyway, and she's gotten her ten minutes on stage. For her, that's enough.
Or at least, it would've been if she weren't accosted by a producer afterwards.
Hikari's chatting with one of the TV station's clerks at the front desk about possible hotels or hostels in Jubilife City, and was about to resign herself to a night at the Pokémon center when the man in suit and glasses who'd handed her the flyer approaches her again.
"Miss - Miss Hikari." He smiles at her and introduces himself as the show's producer. "One of the heads of scouting at Silph Co. Records was watching the broadcast," he says. "He wants to offer you a record deal."
"I didn't win first place," Hikari points out. "I didn't even make the national competition."
"He likes your style. He thinks you have the right image for an idol. There's a period of training, of course, but would you be interested?"
Hikari's never really wanted to be an idol, per se, but she has no talent in Pokémon training either, and no way to bridge the distance between her and Jun.
She looks down at the Pokéball holding her Piplup attached to her belt, then back up at the producer. Hikari makes the second important decision of her life that day.
She gets to go home for all of three days.
There's a flurry of packing, hugs and tears, because they're shipping her off to Kanto where Silph Co. Records is headquartered, and she might not get to see her family for another few years.
Her mother buys her new accessories. Jun's mother finds her a Kanto map. But Jun...
Jun's too far away now to come visit, his mother explains. He's already passed Oreburgh's gym and has his first badge, is on his way to Eterna City now - it's too late for him to head back.
Hikari tries not to be hurt that Jun doesn't even call to say goodbye.
Being an idol - or at least an idol-in-training - isn't much fun, Hikari discovers.
Her day begins at 5:30am, and while Hikari has always been a morning person, she doesn't think it really counts as the morning if she's up before the sun is.
She has dance practice four days a week - more and she think she'd collapse from exhaustion - but has vocal training every single day. She can hear herself getting better, maybe not day-to-day, but over the months. Hikari will never have a pure, clear tone or be close to pitch perfect, but these days she can repeat complicated tunes and can sing her own harmonies.
But Hikari knows her competition too. She knows the girl who practices in the piano room after her has better runs, and the third girl in her dance group as a little more flair in her step.
You have a really nice smile, though, they all tell her, and Hikari laughs nervously and pretends not to hear that little jealous edge in their voices.
Still, if it were a contest, Hikari knows she wouldn't win.
If Hikari had been busy before, she's at least ten times busier now that the company set a debut date. The cold stares and jealous glints that trailed after her were ten times worse as well.
Hikari doesn't have many people to go to in Kanto
"Don't let it get to you," Leaf says when the tension almost bursts out of Hikari. "If you think this is bad, wait till you see hear the criticism after your debut." She laughs, but there is sharpness to her voice. After all, Leaf would know best. On top of producing Hikari's album, Leaf's a famous singer herself.
"Anyway, the rumor mill says they're all jealous because you get to do a duet with Green." Leaf rolls her eyes. "I can't imagine why. What they should be jealous of is me producing your album." Leaf winks, and Hikari can't help but laugh, and all the tension seeps away.
Her mother is happy when Hikari calls home to tell her. "I'll be sure to pass the news on to Jun, if I see him."
When, not if, Hikari silently corrects, if it all goes well.
The lights are bright, and there's a hushed murmur over the audience, and for the first time, Hikari is actually scared.
They're not here for her and they have no expectations of her, she knows, but she's still scared. She's singing with together Green, after all. Hikari had learned the who's who of the industry after she came to Kanto, but Green's so big that even Hikari had heard of him before.
"Relax," Green says, putting a hand on her shoulder, making Hikari jump.
"Sorry," she says. "Performance anxiety."
Green looks at her curiously before speaking. "Are you in love?" he asks softly. Hikari's eyes widen, but before she could respond, Green says, "Think of that person, and you won't miss a note." He winks and gives her a smile that's won a thousand hearts, and even Hikari feels her heart skip a beat.
Hikari is about to ask if he knows from experience, but she doesn't have time.
The cue for the stage entrance lights up.
There are awards. Half a dozen or so, but more than enough to be respectable for such a newly-established artist.
"Congratulations on your successful debut," Leaf says.
Her mother calls her, teary and blubbering. "I sent your performance to all our family friends and relatives." She sounds so proud that Hikari doesn't have the heart to tell her about the negative reviews or the backlash against her sudden popularity.
"Have you heard from Jun?" she asks instead. "He never picks up my calls. And when he does, he's always in a rush and doesn't have time to talk."
"His mother says he's halfway done now, working on getting the Relic Badge now." Hikari hums under her breath as she relishes in the familiarity of her mother's voice and Jun's adventures.
"I miss you," she says when her mother's finished.
Her mother laughs. "I miss you too, but you're so popular that I see you everywhere."
Hikari wonders if Jun has seen her too.
"We're promoting in Sinnoh," management informs her during their talks for a second album. "You're huge there. We'll schedule a concert and some TV appearances."
"I'm huge?" Hikari asks, genuinely curious. Leaf had warned her about reading up on her own popularity since those always came with the negative reviews as well.
"As big as Green! Maybe even bigger." And Hikari knows that's no small compliment. "The people in Sinnoh, your fans, they love you."
Being an idol is her job, and while Hikari is thankful for her popularity, thankful for her fans, she only needs one person to love her back.
Hikari calls Jun every day the two weeks she is in Sinnoh.
The first time, he picks up, and she happily exclaims, "Jun! I'm in Sinnoh! I have a concert here!"
Before she could tell him about the ticket she reserved him, Jun stutters, "Oh, w-wow! That's great. Listen, Hikari, I'm in a hurry and have to go. I - I'll call you back, okay?" and hangs up before she can get in another word.
He never does call back, nor does he answer whenever she tries calling him again.
If it had been anyone else, Hikari would've taken the hint. But, it's Jun, and he's always in a rush, always too many steps ahead for her to chase after him.
He's just busy, Hikari convinces herself, and tries not to take it personally.
It's a complete coincidence that Hikari manages to catch the broadcast of Jun's gym battle that day. They're in Sunyshore City, setting up an outdoor stage right by the beach for her concert, and Hikari has a few hours to wander around the city before they're finished, and she can do sound-check.
Sunyshore is modern and beautiful, and notably technologically advanced, with wide-screen projectors set up all over the city.
Hikari's checking out some contest seals in the Sunyshore Market when all the screens across the city switch their display to a view of the gym floor, the loudspeakers announcing a challenger for the badge.
Hikari looks up for a moment, her eyes widening when she realizes who it is.
The match is fast-paced, but drawn out, both the gym leader and challenger matched in skill. Hikari thinks it's a beautiful battle. Jun wins by a narrow margin, his Torterra knocking out Volkner's Electivire, and Hikari rushes to the gym's entrance to catch him before he leaves.
"Hikari!" Jun says when she accosts him at the door.
"Jun!" Hikari flings herself onto him, pulling him into a hug. "I missed you so much! Congratulations." She's too happy for him, too happy to see him right then to take any offense to the fact that he'd been avoiding her.
"Hikari, what are you doing here?" Jun sounds oddly nervous.
"I have a concert here tonight! I was trying to tell you over the phone. I have a ticket for you! Since you're here already, you should come!"
"Hikari." The way Jun says her name makes her pause in her excitement. "I have all my badges now. I can challenge the Pokémon League! I was going to head up towards that area tomorrow, and train some more... I don't have the time."
Hikari grabs Jun's shoulder. "Please. Please? I haven't seen you in forever and it would just mean so much to me -"
Hikari can almost hear her heart breaking. "Please," she says, and presses the ticket into Jun's hand anyway.
Hikari is used to this now, used to the flashing lights and the loud cheers and the thousands and thousands of people.
But tonight, Hikari has never felt more alone.
Still, she smiles and waves, all pink and white and frills and lace, because it's her job - she knows that people aren't paying to see her mope.
The concert goes as smoothly as it ever does, and for once, Hikari tries to think of everything other than Jun. If her audience doesn't notice that she's a little out of it, then all the better.
Hikari tentatively scans the crowd before she begins the last song of her set. Her eyes sweep past Jun's empty chair, and Hikari takes a deep breath away from the microphone before she sings the first line. Hikari doesn't close her eyes like she usually does when she sings this time, her eyes searching for something she doesn't even know. Then-
Hikari squeaks and misses the last two words of the verse. She smiles apologetically and bows, but her attention is already diverted. In the back, so small she almost missed it, is a tuft of blond hair that she'd know anywhere.
When the song ends, the crowd erupts in cheers. Hikari can see her cue to walk off the stage, but she stands there and waits for the cries to die down.
"Thank you for coming, everyone! I hope you had a great time. I have a special surprise for you - I'm going to sing the song I auditioned in Sinnoh with."
Hikari is still not the world's best singer and her a capella is a shaky, but in a crowd of thousands, she's only singing for one person.
She only hopes that it will be enough.
Hikari doesn't know how Jun made it as far backstage as he did, but when she finds him, he's arguing with the security guard standing in front of her dressing room door.
"Look, I'm a childhood friend of hers. I know she wants to see me-"
The guard is unimpressed and looks ready to throw Jun out before Hikari interrupts. "He is a friend. But thank you." She smiles and nods at the guard before letting Jun into her dressing room.
"You did great," Jun offers as he stands in her dressing room, looking uncomfortable and out-of-place. Now that he's actually talking to her, he seems out of things to say.
"I'm glad you could come," Hikari says.
"Your boyfriend - he wasn't at the concert? He won't mind me coming to see you?"
Her boyfriend? "What boyfriend?" Hikari asks, puzzled.
"That guy who sang that your first song with you...?"
Oh. Hikari laughs. Even if she hadn't always seen Green's glance linger after a pair of red eyes hanging around backstage, she could tell that he had no interest in her.
"That was just a song, Jun. He's just a co-worker."
Jun relaxes a little.
"The last song I sang, though, that was for you," Hikari admits. "The day of that contest, you left me in Jubilife City, and I didn't know how to catch up to you. I never wanted to be an idol. I just wanted you to notice me."
"When I heard you were going to become an idol, I was scared. You were going to be famous... I didn't think I could compete. That's why I was working to get my badges as fast I could. I was chasing after you, Hikari."
Hikari rolls her eyes. It'd all been a misunderstanding. "What was I supposed to think? You're the one who's always rushing off so fast, having to be first in everything-"
Before Hikari can say anything else, Jun leans in and kisses her.
"What took you so long?" Hikari laughs.
 First and foremost, the idea for this fic came out of the fact that there is a class of trainers in the Battle Frontier called Idol. Because you (as the PC) are so engrossed in the world, you don't really think about other occupations. I wanted to explore this one in particular~
 When I played Platinum, I reset about nine times to get a female Piplup and when I finally did, Jun kicked my butt but I was too frustrated to reset again. To me, Hikari seems the least inclined of all the player characters to actually journey, so I surmised that it was because she was chasing after Jun. There was going to be more Piplup in this fic, but I got tired of writing. /sigh
 The setup of this idol-training system is actually based on the Korea's entertainment industry because I'm a loser. Companies aren't just distributors of music; they're talent agencies that scout, recruit, and train idols before debuting them.
 The songs I was thinking Hikari sang were The Moon Represents My Heart by Teresa Teng as her audition piece and Another Heaven by Wang Lee Hom and Jane Zhang as her duet with Green. I was thinking her last song of the set would be Firefly by Ariel Lin, and there would be another misunderstanding where Jun thought the song was about him, but... I got tired of writing that too. Why are they all Chinese? I don't know. I got the title from Run by Rex Goudie. That's probably more about Jun than Hikari but w/e.
 Yes, there will be more of idol!AU, as long as school doesn't kill me first.