Title: Card Captor Ashura – Red Dawn
Author: Shadow/Phantomness
Pairing: Championshipping (Lance x Red/Ashura), others as the story progresses
Fandom: Pokémon

Rating: R
Disclaimer: Pokemon belongs to Satoshi Tajiri, Nintendo and Shogakukan Comics. This non-profit, non-copyright infringing fanfiction belongs to me under international copyright laws and taking it is plagiarism. Thank you. *Phantomness bows*

Notes: () for telepathy, ** for thoughts, italics if a pokemon talks. This is the sequel to 'Card Captor Ashura – Celestial Spirits and Shadow Guardian'

Warnings: Alternate Universe with lots of fanon influences, crossing over with Phantomness' other fanfics, angst, insanity, multiple pairings in different chapters with het, shonen-ai, and shoujo-ai, violence, gore, sexual situations

(What would you do?) Lugia had asked, just out of the blue one day, (If you could get her back?)

Ashura had been startled, of course – how could he not be, with such a remark addressed to him. There was no sense in elaborating on who she was. There was only one her that he had ever loved, and the chance to get her back – well, that was when he was not sure whether he was being hopeful or downright delusional, because even Guardians were bound by rules, and time and space belonged to no man.

Even Serebii, as much as she played favorites, blatantly so, had flatly refused to bring her back, because as long as Charlotte was there to balance the Realm, and Ashura was there with the power of destruction should things come to a pass, they could always hit the reset button and hope that things would improve in the next life.

But now… now, he stared at Lugia, and took a wild leap of faith.

"If it's to get Lance back, I would do anything."

Lugia studied him, almost dissecting him with that dark blue gaze, as if he were a bug under a microscope. He attempted not to flinch, but there was something in the glance that warned him, threatened him, that this was the only chance he would receive.

He could ponder the why later.

The dragon-bird seemed satisfied enough with his examination. There was no warning, before they were elsewhere, or more precisely, elsewhen.

The giant spreading tree had been the first clue. Ashura had seen magnificent trees before, in the real world and the Dream Realm both, but this one dwarfed them all. The bark was smooth silver, shot through with strands of greenish-gold. It seemed to hang suspended in space, against a background of black velvet studded with diamonds. Then, the fact that it seemed to hold entire planets in each of its branches, at least the closer ones… he had to rub his eyes just to make sure that he was not seeing things.

"What is this?" He finally asked.

Lugia chuckled. (This is the Tree of Life. It is magnificent, is it not?)

He nodded mutely. If there was such a tree, that could hold eternity in its branches, and control time and space, this was the one. Did Serebii live here, perhaps?

Ash turned to look at Lugia. "How does this relate to the question you asked me?"

Lugia motioned for him to take a seat, and he did, folding his wings neatly behind his back, black striped with gold. This could take a while to explain.

(As you know, Serebii has some control over time.) He began. (However, it is not precisely the entire timeline that she can manipulate, although she may have us believe otherwise. She can control only one small branch in this great Tree of Life.)

Ash patiently waited for him to continue.

(The Tree of Life does, as you have guessed, hold eternity in its branches. Here, one can journey to the past or the future, and visit different timelines, for time is not a single river, that flows straight in only one direction. No, time is vast, and incomprehensible, and its branches may diverge and intercept, and new branches may be grafted on, as old branches are pruned away. For the Creator, the Destroyer, and the one who is Change continue to create and destroy and bring change.)

Lugia waited for Ash to absorb this. (Unlike a pebble thrown into a river, which sinks beneath the surface and is lost, any single event in any life, especially any event caused by one of our Chosen, can completely change the course of that branch. It may cause the tree to bloom with fruitful life, but it can also cause withering death. In the Tree of Life, there is no perfect decision. There is right and wrong, and eventually, those branches that do not bear fruit shall come to their rightful dead end.)

He appreciated the explanation, but what did this have to do with Lance?

Lugia sighed. (There are many regions in this world, as you well know. One of those regions was named Shinou, and there reside the legendary Pokemon Palkia, Dialga, and Giratina. With the powers of these three dragons, Lance was able to come here to the Tree of Life. She walked various paths, and saw what the future held for her, but her eyes were darkened, for she saw only the darkness that lay ahead.)

Ash shivered. That was a bad sign. He almost did not want to hear the next words Lugia spoke, but he could not shut his ears against them.

(You were not the kindest.) Lugia said dryly.

He knew that, but there was worse to come. His eyes and his mind swam with images, the touch of crawling flesh underneath his hands and the stench of death and decay. Blood roared in his ears along with crazed laughter from one who had lost all hope. Rainbows of shattered glass mocked him as he stumbled through a maze of rotting faces and dismembered organs, trying to scrub the sensation of loss from his skin.

For how long the torment went on, he knew not, but finally, it was over, and he stood in front of Lugia, his eyes pure red from the tears he had shed.

(She saw this, didn't she?) His voice was too ragged for speech, so now he spoke from his mind, and his heart broke with the pain. (She knew what would have come to pass. She chose to die, and I cannot fault her for it.)

(You are correct.) Lugia's voice held no sympathy. (You would have betrayed her.)

(Betrayed?) The voice was hysterical. (That is too light a word for my crimes. I have shattered her soul and her spirit, defiled her body, trampled upon her heart, made a mockery of relationships, and even those descriptions do the truth no justice. She would have ceased to be Lance at all. She has lost her power. She has lost her memories. She has lost everything…)

(But she lost you first.) Lugia countered.

(Yes…) Ash giggled, finding the prospect amusing in hindsight. (I left her. I left him. I chose another and I kept making the wrong choices. And I broke her into pieces little by little, and now there is nothing left…)

(You speak too swiftly.) He countered. (There is something left. Otherwise, I would not have offered you the chance to make amends.)

Reparation was still an option?

Ash stared at Lugia, unable to process that. He could change the future? Of course, he knew that the Pokemon had power, near-infinite power at times, if it came to that, but…

Could this be a cruel joke?

No! He could not bear that. Knowing that he had destroyed his wife, his Mate, slowly but surely, even as she endured his torture without protest, that was too much to bear! He would kill himself if he thought that would solve the problem, but he feared it would not.

(She swore herself to you for eternity. Have you forgotten so quickly?) Lugia asked. (And even when a Guardian suffers the ultimate punishment, the 'dissolving', pieces still remain. You simply have to search for them.)

How ironic. Ash choked down on his laughter, feeling the bile bubble up in his throat. It sounded so simple in theory, but he knew that it could not be further from the truth. He would have to collect the shards of her heart, and that was no easy task. Would she still choose him, at the end? Even after the puzzle was complete, would she love him?

But he would not be a coward. Even if the chance was one in a million, he would still try. He had to try.

Lugia sensed his intent even before he did, and he nodded, opening his wings to show what he had hidden there. Then, he vanished.

Slate-gray eyes met his, hair as white as snow, and she smiled at him, a long, slow smile that did not reach her eyes.

"You know who I am, do you not?" She asked softly.

"Yes," He said. He took her hands, feeling her skin, cold as manacles. She would accompany him on this journey, for what else could he do? He himself could not travel across time and space, not without paying the price, even as the Cards stirred in his soul. He was the last of the Chosen, and should he leave the realm for good, chaos was the best that would ensue.

She knew the consequences. She always did.

"I love you, Lance." He told her.

She shook her head, placing a fingertip against his lips. "I am not Lance anymore. You know that."

He did, indeed, and he held her just the same. "You are the shard of Duty."

"And you," She tilted her head to look at him. "You are no longer Ashura."

"No," He agreed. For Ashura was Destiny, and Destiny was only a child, an angry, selfish child, who broke his lover into pieces and did not deserve to live. "I cannot be Ashura."

"You are the Guardian," She began, but he shushed her with a kiss.

"Not anymore," He said, and he kissed her again, feeling time ebb and flow around them in preparation for the first cycle. "For now, I am just Red."

And then they were gone.

End Chapter

Started 6/20/12

Completed 11/25/12

…I really wanted to work on this but I had no time since I have full-time internship *sigh* so maybe I can get a little bit of this story done over winter break before I start posting…

There will be character and pairing bashing ahead. You have been warned.