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~ Keeping My Sanity: Mirrorscape ~


E/GL obsessed
A/N: I'm back! Although no one probably recognises me :p and I might or might not be 'back' for long... *cough* anyway.

Disclaimers first, just to get them out of the way. Firstly, this story is PG-13 for a bit of violence and some disturbing concepts. Plus, there's mention of terrorism, so those of you who are sensitive to the subject, get out while you can.

Secondly, so I don't get whumped by mods, yes, the title does come from Yoru Ryu's comics (for those of you who have seen her fanart) and yes, I do have her permission. ^.^ Thanks, Yoru. This is dedicated to those wonderful comics.

And then there's the obvious, 'I don't own pokemon', etc, blah blah blah... we get it.

As a warning, this is set in my own strange little world, which is a combination of manga, anime and game, with a touch of originality, so there might be some things which make you go 'bouh?'

Really there's only one thing you might need to know, for this story at least: everyone from gym leader strength upward is an Elite (and I don't mean those elite cooltrainers that are in the games. I mean the gym leaders themselves, and then everyone from Karen to Will to Phoebe). The subject of the E4 and the Champions is a little more complicated, and it's not necessary for this particular story, so I'm not going to get into it.

The other thing I should mention has nothing to do with my strange little world, but is a bit of background information for you people who only read the manga or only watch the anime. You're probably not going to get it without that background info.

So what you need to know is that this is a Lance story and... I suppose you could call it a character study, right? Well, in the anime Lance is a good guy. In the manga, he's bad. He even looks slightly different in both universes - in the anime he's got pink hair, in the manga he's got red.

And yes, his hair colour *is* important. You'll see why, if you don't get so confused you stop reading first.

So now that that's all out of the way, let's get on with the show ^.^

...oh. And I've never written from this perspective before, so please tell me how I do.



It’s morning. The light shines through the windows – big windows that they are, covering nearly two walls and my ceiling. I like windows, I like the outside.

But I hate them too. I don’t want to see my reflection in them, or in mirrors – my bathroom only has one mirror and I almost never look into it. But I need those windows. I hate feeling closed in. And I need to see my reflection in them. It’s the first thing I have to do, the first thing every morning. Some people look at their clock or listen to their radio or roll over and pretend they’re still asleep. But I have to look at my reflection.

Today my hair is red.

It could be worse. At least my eyes are still grey. Still, I know that the others will be walking on tenterhooks around me, probably for most of the morning.

So they should, he whispers. They should be wary about angering a dragon in his den.

I dismiss it. He says that often. Today he is making me feel it.

I half expect the other one to speak up, but there is no answer, and so I dress and leave my room, so bare of sentimentality, so filled with objects. It’s my room but it’s one of many. My home is with my pokémon and with my friends. Rooms and buildings are just places to stay.

This morning, my only friends are my pokémon. I know the others see that as soon as I enter the common room. They won’t see that my hair is red, of course; they can’t see it. They tell by what I’m wearing: boots go without saying, but pants, a turtleneck and a red jacket instead of the flight suit I wear otherwise.

“Brooding already, Lance?” Wallace asks cheerfully from the couch, but I only tilt my head in reply. On other days I might have smiled and said something witty, but on mornings like this I can be as silent as a tomb.

They wouldn’t expect anything else. They know me too well.

And yet they do not know me enough.

“Lorelei arrived from the Plateau this morning,” Wallace tells me with his flashing smile, twirling his blue bangs around one finger. He is too happy, that man, and far too perceptive. On days like this he’s one that I try to avoid.

“I know,” I say, moving to one of the buffet tables along a wall. The Mansion of the Elites’ in Evergrande is very different to the Indigo Plateau. Over there we each have our own unit, with a small staff to keep them neat while we’re gone. Sometimes two of us will decide to share – all of the gym leaders are paired with someone – but it’s hardly ever a problem because we all move around so much. None of us really consider our houses at the Plateau and Evergrande to be our true homes anyway, especially since the gym leaders spend most of their time in their respective cities.

In Evergrande we all live in one huge, sprawling complex. Meals aren’t served so much as the fact that food is always on hand. It makes it easy to feed pokémon with fast metabolisms.

“Of course you do.” Wallace sips his tea, and if he were anyone else I would think he was mocking me.

Strike that. I know he is mocking me anyway. Wallace is one of those types that people might call ‘air-headed’, but we all know that it’s a farce.

Or maybe not.

But it’s not all that he is, at any rate, just like the rest of us. None of us became Elites without keeping something in reserve.

If only they knew what I was hiding.

Holding a tray, I turn to find a seat somewhere else, preferably on the balcony where there’d be room for my dragons, and inadvertently make eye contact with Koga across the room. He is here on business; he wants his daughter to have to opportunity to take care of the gym without him. He’s training her to succeed him, and she’s becoming decent, which means that Koga is more often here or at the Plateau than in Fuchsia.

He is watching me, like he always does; assessing, contemplating. He is another I try to avoid on days like this.

Sometimes I wonder whether he doesn’t already know.

He is also the only one who would understand, and that worries me.

Not Koga. The understanding.

I look away and move to the balcony, feeling his dark eyes on my back. The others are involved in their own meals and affairs – I see blonde-haired Karen scribbling notes, surrounded by scattered paperwork, with a plate resting neglected nearby – but none of them offer a place to sit or some company. On days like this they know I want to be alone.

Sometimes I wonder why. I’m wondering that now, aware of the other Elites behind me. I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the glass of the windows and see that my hair has pink highlights, and in the image my forelock has been swept back with the rest, even though I can still see the real one hanging over my eyes.

Then the breeze makes my jacket rustle, and I feel the pokéballs at my back.

Not alone. Not so long as you have them.

I shut the door behind me.

* * *​

I don’t know how long I’ve been out there before I am finally disturbed, but it has to be a while, because I can feel myself getting hungry again. I’m only aware that someone has opened the door because one of my dragonairs lifts her head and trills a greeting to whoever has just come out. I can hear footsteps; too light to be a man, and they’re accompanied by that strange clack of high heels.

I can guess who it is.

“So you are out here. Koga doesn’t lie.”

“Lorelei,” I acknowledge her without turning around, and I can feel the rumble of my dragonite’s echoing welcome from where I sit, leaning against her side.

For a moment there is silence, and then dark shoes come into my view. “He also said you were in one of your moods. He wasn’t lying about that either.”

“As you said. Koga doesn’t lie.”

And he doesn’t, which isn’t really what you’d expect of a ninja. It’s as though he chooses to offset his inherent darkness by being as honest as possible.

“Glacia, Sidney, Wallace and I were going to go down to the beach for a picnic lunch. Wallace wants to show off some of his new moves, and Glacia and I haven’t battled in a while. Want to come?”

I actually consider it. The grounds are big, so my dragons do have plenty of space to fly, but the beach will give them even more. And Gyarados could use that space. The balcony looks over the pool, but it’s tiny in comparison to the ocean.

There are no objections, so I give Lorelei a nod, and she smiles slyly, pushing back the auburn hair fluttering in her eyes. “There. Not so difficult, was it?”

I feel a flicker of annoyance at the patronising words, but I know that it’s often the only way they can deal with me on days like this. At least I agreed. I rather like the beach, and I like Glacia and Sidney. Neither of them are too observant. It should be easy enough to avoid having to make conversation with them around.

It’s Wallace I have to watch out for. He’s likely to try and draw me out.

That wouldn’t be so bad, a part of me suggests wistfully. I know which part it is.

* * *​

The beach is calming. It’s a broad stretch of sand behind the grounds of the mansion, so no one ever comes here but us. It’s almost cove-like, surrounded by reefs, so no one on the ocean comes in either.

I’m right about Sidney and Glacia. Sidney and Wallace are fairly chatty people, and Glacia loves listening to gossip, so that means I can trail along behind as we walk, listening in but not contributing. Our pokémon gambol, fly and surf about, having fun in the day and the clear weather. It’s a nice picture, one that we Elites rarely receive, so busy are we with our duties and jobs.

Right now they’re discussing Teams Aqua and Magma. Neither of those organisations are nearly as large as Team Rocket, mostly because they’re not interested in expanding their ranks. Their goals are more misguided than the Rockets could ever be, but for all their danger their intentions are good. They just want to make the world a better place. Team Rocket just wants control.

Few people see that distinction, but the Elites are some of them. The Magmas and the Aquas are a difficult point for us to deal with, simply because their leaders are Elites themselves; gym leader strength, at least. They want what we want. They’re just going about it the wrong way. It’s caused some fairly heated arguments among the rest of us.

I’m expecting Wallace to turn and ask me what I think – or if not him, then Lorelei. As the most active of the Elites I’ve fought and even infiltrated both Teams on several occasions, so the others know I can be counted on for an unbiased opinion.

Sure enough, Wallace looks at me sidelong, and I can see in his blue eyes that he intends to get me into the conversation one way or another. If it were another subject I might not mind, but the very nature of my duties makes this topic more difficult for me than for the others, although they probably don’t know it. I’ve never been hesitant in my judgments, not outwardly at least.

“What do you think, Lance?” he asks, and I am suddenly in the spotlight as the others look at me with interest. “Should we let them back into our ranks, if they ever give up on their ambitions?”

“You’re getting ahead of yourself, Wallace,” Sidney interrupts, and turns to me, his mohawk damp with the nearby spray of the surf. “You’ve fought them the most, Lance. Steven’s only talked to them. Do you think they ever will give up?”

Silently I regard him, but the others wait patiently. For all that I am instinct in battle, in philosophy I think carefully before I speak, and they know it, though they don’t know why.

But it is a question I do not want to answer, because the next step is something I do not want to acknowledge, and I’m too busy arguing with myself besides.

I always said you should watch that one, I’m told smugly. He’s Darkness too, after all.

I am Shadow, I reply sharply. And the Darkness is too deep to hold Shadow. He is insightful, but not observant.

The objections subside into reluctant acceptance.

Besides, a different part of me adds, the part that was faded this morning and only watched mildly as the day went on. He’s asking the wrong question too.

I say as much aloud, and Sidney’s eyebrows shoot up. “How’s that?”

“You’re asking if they will give up,” I answer simply. “Your question shouldn’t be if but when, and at what cost.”

It’s exactly that which frightens me: the cost. It’s that which I do not want to think about, not now, not ever until the time comes. Because when the time comes, it will be beyond the point of thinking, and there are some things which should only be dealt with in retrospect.

Sidney looks thoughtful. “Alright,” he agrees. “When do you think they’ll give up, then?”

There is the question I truly do not want to answer, for the same reasons that the cost frightens me. Because I know those men. And I know the odds are that the cost will be far too high.

I think Wallace sees something of it in my eyes, because he claps a hand to my shoulder and smiles mischievously, directing the others’ attention away from the issue, and I feel a quick burst of gratitude. “Let him be, Sidney. He’s been brooding all morning; he needs a chance to give his brain cells a rest before he loses what little he has.”

“It’s the company,” I answer, deadpan, and feel a little thrill of satisfaction at the startled and then gratified expressions that flash through Wallace’s eyes. He grins as the others laugh, and I smirk along with them.

Not so bad at all.

And as we pass a pool of still water, I see that my reflection is, for once, the truth: spiky pink hair, thick and shaggy, with a forelock draping across my face, and eyes neither blue nor gold, but grey.

* * *​

It’s evening by the time we get back, and I can feel myself drifting further away as we approach the doors of the mansion, only this time it’s in the opposite direction. So perhaps ‘away’ is the wrong word for it. ‘Closer’ might be more accurate; closer to the way the world sees me as.

A part of me – that part of me – finds it annoying, how the entire world can be so blind. And yet at the same time he finds it useful. He needs it and he knows it.

I know it too. But I’m also afraid of what they’d find out, and so I keep him hidden.

Tonight I don’t get the chance to keep him locked away, because Steven is waiting for us in the common room, and I find myself glad that today didn’t turn out to be ‘one of those days’ after all.

Steven’s one of the few things for which all parts of me are in complete agreement: he’s my friend. He’s the only one who can match me in power during a pokémon battle, and so I respect him. He’s calm and determined, and so I admire him. He takes me for what I am, without pressing issues like Wallace and Lorelei do, and so I appreciate him.

Yet he doesn’t know. I can tell he worries, but for all that, he doesn’t know exactly what makes him so worried. He just knows that something is wrong.

He is the diplomat. I am the warrior. I still don’t think he quite knows what that means. I’m afraid of the day when he’ll find out. Unlike Koga, I don’t fear his understanding. I fear his lack of it.

I know the reason he’s here this evening, and I can’t afford to block myself out.

“Are you ready, Lance?” he asks me, in a corner away from the others in the room. “Professor Oak will be arriving in Goldenrod the day after tomorrow. We’ll probably be able to beat him there if we leave in the morning.”

I nod silently, and Steven gives me a long, measuring look before grinning. I know that look.

Uh oh.

“He’s bringing his grandson, by the way.”

You’ve got to be kidding.

Excellent, I’ve heard he takes after his grandfather.

I know that both the opposing emotions flash across my face, because Steven laughs. For a moment I’m conflicted in my reaction; then I smile slightly in resigned amusement at his amusement.

Steven usually brings out the best in me.

Hopefully that will continue to hold true throughout this assignment. It’s a meeting to determine whether interregional habitation of pokémon is beneficial or not. Some conservatives believe that species native to Hoenn shouldn’t be put in parks in Johto, and so on. They’re claiming that it’s destroying the habitats of the pokémon which were already there.

Seeing as they’re accusing Bill’s storage system of precipitating the transport of non-indigenous pokémon into Johto and Kanto, he has to be there as well, and he asked for Professor Oak to be put on the board.

Steven’s reason for being there is twofold. In the first place, he’s the most diplomatic of the Elites, and considering how heated this discussion has gotten it was decided it’d be best to have an impartial mediator. Since the only people either side considers to be impartial are the Elites, Steven took the job. In the second place, as a geologist he’s gone pretty much everywhere there isn’t a city, so he’s seen enough of the environment to be able to judge.

Officially, the second reason is also my excuse for being there.

Unofficially, I’m going to be on duty. If a law is passed to prohibit the transport of non-indigenous pokémon into a region, it’ll make it that much harder for poachers to work their trade. People are going to be very interested in the verdict – perhaps too interested.

I can only hope no one will try to crash the meeting.

* * *​

I’ve got mixed feelings about big cities – mixed feelings about towns in general. Mostly it’s because of the people. I hate that there are so many people, especially since I can hardly walk anywhere without being mobbed unless I go in disguise. I don’t like being in the spotlight, contrary to popular belief. And whenever I walk into a city I can’t help but think of the pokémon whose homes had been there before it was built.

But I know which part of me is thinking about that, and usually I can block it out.

Yet at the same time I like watching people. It’s fascinating, really, especially watching children. I always wonder whether they’ll turn out to be a trainer or not, or what kind of trainer they’ll be, or whether they’ll be any kind of a challenge.

It’s harder to watch the ones who are actually old enough to be trainers, because I run the risk of being recognised; but when I manage it they can be even more entertaining, watching and analysing their strategies, seeing them learn from their mistakes.

That’s partly why I don’t mind that Oak has brought his grandson along. I’ve often wondered how well the boy battles, what with his grandfather being who he is, although I hear that the kid’s gone into science now.

I don’t want to think about what Wallace or – God forbid – Bruno would think if they knew I like watching children, but I can’t help it. It’s something I have to do, just like I have to look at my reflection in the mornings. Kids aren’t always as innocent as folk law would have us believe, but it’s their youth and their enthusiasm for pokémon which serve to remind me exactly why I chose the life I did. Exactly why I put up with the life I have.

It’s not as good as most people seem to think. There’s that blindness again, but it’s not one I’m about to shatter. The longer I can keep them blind, the longer I can protect them.

And myself.

I turn from watching the kids in the park below me playing at being trainers, aware of the tiny smile on my lips but not about to wipe it away. It’ll be gone all too soon anyway, so for now I’m just contented with the image the window reflects: pink hair, swept back…

And blue eyes. That surprises me. I hadn’t realized I was getting so mellow.

…damn. That’s going to make it harder if anything happens.

But evening comes and nothing does happen. Not much was achieved beyond some very long, very loud arguments – Bill’s got quite a set of lungs on him for a man who spends most of his time shut away in his lab – and I can see that Steven’s already getting a headache.

“Maybe tomorrow,” I offer placidly as we return to the rooms the Pokémon Association has offered us, a couple of floors up from the meeting room we had just spent the day in. The Association’s Johto Headquarters is more like a hotel than any kind of office building, but I can’t complain. It means less time on the streets and less chance of someone ambushing us for some reason or another.

I don’t even need to look at my reflection to know that my hair has just acquired red highlights.

Steven casts me a bemused look. “Were you even paying attention?” he asks. “This isn’t going to be settled quickly. People like that tend to be stubborn.”

I shrug. “I can hope.”

I’d prefer to hope. Optimism is pink, and there’s going to be far too much red in my future if this drags out as long as you say it will.

But I say none of that aloud, of course, and Steven doesn’t notice. He can’t. To him and everyone else, there’s only pink.

* * *​

Steven’s right. The issue isn’t settled the next day, or the next, and I’ve ended up paying as little attention to the actual proceedings as I possibly can. I always manage to get the same window seat in the room, but I find myself more and more torn between watching the children and watching for trouble. Paranoia is red, after all.

It starts raining a few days after we first got here, and that makes it more difficult; no kids to distract me, nothing to do but try to pick threats out of the grey, drizzling rain.

Someone like Whitney would probably be wishing desperately for something to happen, just to break up the monotony, but I’ve been in the business for too long to wish for action when there’s peace. I know that makes me sound old, but it is the truth. In the first place, action isn’t nearly as exciting as people think it is.

In the second, it makes it harder to hold back. Especially when it’s the wrong kind of action.

The kind that demands a cost.

Fate enjoys laughing at me.

The first explosion takes even me by surprise. Of any kind of attack, this wasn’t the one I was expecting.

It’s not close enough for us to see any of the effects, either that or it’s a small one, but it’s still enough to quake the room, and I know that it happened somewhere on the block.

The entire block is composed of the Association Headquarters.

Most of the bureaucrats are looking around in confusion, but Steven and I – and, I note with approval, Professor Oak and his grandson – are on our feet, already alert to the danger.

There’s no time to do anything before there’s a second detonation, and this time it’s close enough to make the lights flicker.

“Someone’s lost control of their electrodes,” someone grumbled, and I can’t stop a flash of incredulity.

How thick can you get? A cool, derisive agreement comes a second later, but it only makes me feel dread.

Not now.

“Those weren’t electrodes,” Oak said grimly. He would know. “They’re bombs.”

Not everyone in this world likes pokémon; terrorists do exist. Team Rocket is only the most famous case, and they’re pro-pokémon more than anything else, but there are other, smaller groups which are the opposite, radicals which do everything from picketing the Safari Zone to euthanizing perfectly healthy pokémon.

Some of the most persistent target the Association and their members. I’ve seen it before; it’s one of the reasons gym leaders tend to riddle their buildings with traps.

I don’t know whether to be amused at the irony or not – this attack has nothing to do with the regulation of non-indigenous pokémon.

“All of you, get outside as fast as you can,” I hear Steven order, but I’m already at the door, just as another muffled explosion rocks the building, and this one is again further away. Behind us I’m aware of disbelieving exclamations and then the tramp of many shoes as the officials move, some of them gibbering with fear and others in disbelief.

The nearest exit is left. I’m going right. Most of the men turn to get out of the building, but there is still more than one set of footsteps following me, and I curse inwardly.

They’re going to get in the way.

If they get in the way then it’s their own fault.

I don’t have time to argue with the callousness of that comment. It might be necessary.

Distantly I can already hear sirens, but they’re swallowed up by the muffled whoosh and roar of a nearby blast, rocking the building, making us stagger against walls and glass shatter. I can hear screams now, see smoke drifting up the stairwell ahead, but I don’t stop. Instead I just pull my cloak over my mouth as a filter and continue my run downward, blocking out all sound but the most relevant.

Every now and then we pass a terrified employee, but our action is always the same: Steven tells them to leave as quickly as they can, and every time he extends the warning to whoever was brave and foolish enough to follow us.

Absently I’m relieved I can’t smell anyone burning as we pass by the floor of the latest bombing. Either we’ve been lucky or it’s not their intention to hurt anyone. The fact that they chose a rainy day for their operation lends credence to that; it suggests that they mean to warn people, not kill them.

Suggests, but doesn’t prove.

It’s pure luck that we come upon the next bomber before it happens, but I don’t know whether it’s good or bad. I should say that it was luck we got there before the explosion, not that we happened to be heading for the right place; red is for paranoia, and I don’t like taking chances.

We find him in the block’s extensive gardens, in the corner of the grounds not far from a laboratory. It’s one of those more scenic places intended to hide things like pipelines and voltage boxes, and that’s exactly what this one does. It’s the easiest and most likely place to be targeted.

With bombers around, it’s a death trap. An explosion here would destroy half the block and put out the lights for dozens more.

There’s always one.

I can’t argue. I know he’s right. There’s always one which has to go beyond the intended and into blatant destruction.

It’s the sound of Dragonite being released which gets his attention, but he’s on guard, whirling around to face me as I burst through the trees. “Stop there,” he shouts, waving around a remote attached to the box he’s holding as the others catch up, too late to free their own pokémon; I’ve always been a fast runner, and I was a few too many steps ahead.

I do what he says, holding out a warning hand for Dragonite to stop without taking my eyes from the man, paying no attention to the rain which soaks my flight suit. I ignore the expletives and cries of fear behind me that belong to the officials who had followed.


Fools. Should have stayed behind.

“No one else touch their pokéballs,” the man says warningly, and he’s irritatingly calm, his eyes narrowed at us assessingly and lips touched with a sneer. He thinks he’s in control.

I know he’s not.

“Listen,” Steven says from nearby in the calm, ‘talking to unreasonable people’ voice he uses when Whitney and Roxanne get into a catfight.

Normally the image would make me smile, but I’m too far gone.

“Put the bomb down, and we’ll let you walk out of here, alright?”

The man sneers and I feel anger; all of me feels anger, which happens rarely and is something to be wary of when it does.

It’s ironic, though, that I can feel such opposing rages. A part of me is blazing. The other is cold. But it’s the one that blazes which will ultimately end this.

“I don’t think so.” He gestures at the green-painted voltage box just visible through the bedraggled shrubbery against the brick wall of the grounds. He’s close enough to it to blow the device and kill all of us with an electrical discharge, if not half the building as he intended, and he knows it.

But I can also see the trigger isn’t a simple one. The kinds of explosives they’re using aren’t based on detonation, so they’re not as destructive; they’ll cause a few bad fires but that’s it, unless put somewhere that would carry a chain reaction. The trigger reflects that. It was designed to be set, so it can’t be activated instantaneously. It’d take him a few seconds to use – not enough time to take him down personally or get out Steven’s metagross for a psychic solution, but…

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Dragonite shift, her antenna sparking slightly with frustration.

“Why are you doing this?” Oak’s grandson demands furiously, and for a moment – just a moment – I snap out of it with a sharp feeling of dismay, quickly squelched.

You don’t have time to feel this.

“What possible reason could there be for doing something like this?”

He’s so young.

He shouldn’t have followed.

You can’t do this.

You have to.

“I don’t need to explain my reasons to the likes of you,” the man says, looking maniacal now, and I can see a gleam in his eyes which says he’s planning something.

You can’t hesitate.

“But it is ironic. I didn’t expect celebrities to be here.”

I know.

He grins now, believing himself in control, and out of the corner of my eye I can see Steven’s jaw set grimly, see his hand twitch as though wishing he could go for his pokéballs.

“All we have to do now is decide what to do,” the man continues, taunting us and enjoying it.

It’s working, I know it is. I can hear words of anger being shouted from behind me, register the warning wave of the button at some insult, but my world is narrowed.

You’re not considering this.

Because I know what I have to do.

You can’t.

And to do it I need to shut a part of myself away.

The part that I cherish most of all.

The part which I have no choice but to reject.

“What are you going to do,” he mocks. “Great, powerful trainers, fools who rely on dumb beasts, righteous saviours of our modern –” the derisive emphasis is clear “–world. What are you to do? If you walk away, I will destroy that box and you will die. If you try to move or call for help, I will detonate.”

“That’s insane! You’ll die as well!”

That one is from Bill, but the pang of consternation is hardly noticeable. He’s a grown man, at least, he knows that life can be ugly.

Though I have to wonder whether he’s ever before seen a demon with an angel’s face.

“Will I?” the man asks, and I can tell from his tone that he has a plan to escape.

The realization has me feeling nothing. I’m calm now, too calm, hardly aware of the rain threatening to drip in my eyes, of the weight of my clothes.

“So. Walk and die, move and die. Because, shining examples of the pokémon world that you are, you wouldn’t dare sully your hands with killing me.”

He smirks at me, thinking he has won, and I can tell from the frustrated sounds behind me that the others believe he is right. The third option is inconceivable.

I meet his eyes squarely.

And evenly I answer. “Fire Blast.”

There is the roar of wind and flame beside me, and in his final split second I see the man’s eyes widen with terror and realization, the realization that he does not know me at all.

And then he is consumed, dead before he can scream, the blaze too strong to be put out by the rain before it is too late, sufficiently powerful to have melted down plastic and wires with enough speed to neutralise the explosion beyond an ineffective whump.

For a few moments there is silence aside from the crackle of flames, the fizzle of water, and the hum of the pokéball as I recall Dragonite. I know I’ll be feeling it later, but right now I’m still as calm as ever.

They’re all looking at me, I’m aware of that before I turn around, and my gaze scans over faces shocked, frightened, disbelieving. It takes only a second; then I’m moving, striding back towards the complex with a flick of my wet cloak, my hair dripping in my eyes.

But for an instant, my gaze meets Steven’s, and I know later I will be frightened, regretful, guilty for his anguished expression, but for now I am only challenging.

This is the way it had to happen.

Then I’m past before I see whether he has accepted it or not, and I don’t look back.

I do step through a puddle as I move through the trees, and I don’t need to see to know, but I glance down anyway. My eyes are gold.

My hair is red.

~ finis

A/N: So there we have it. Lance isn't exactly sane, no one knows, and he doesn't seem to care.

Ever since the Crystal game I've seen Lance as a kind of special agent like they portray him in the anime (except more freelance... no pun intended) but when you actually look at the anime you see that he's this shining figure of valour and righteousness. If you think about the real world, the kind of job he has, there has to have been a time when it's come down to 'kill or be killed'.

I figure, anime-Lance might not be capable of making that kind of decision, but manga-Lance definately is. So in my strange little world, I tend to combine the two of them togther to have this guy who's high in morals, but also has the ability to do what needs to be done.

Oh, yeah, and I don't know anything about explosives, but I did a bit of research and there really are two different kinds. The ones the terrorists use in this story aren't nearly as volatile, so I figure an attack as hot as fire blast can burn it away before it makes a really big impact.

^.^ Okay, I'm all done. Reviews welcome, concrit loved. Thanks!
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Wow. Someone else here is actually interested in minor characters. XD For a while, I thought I would be the only one insane enough to write about Bannai/Hokage.

But anyways, that was a great one-shot. I have no complaints. You describe emotions well, and I didn't find any grammar errors. I'd have to quote the entire thing to point out things I did like, but overall, that was a very solid piece.

Some mistakes:

It’s morning. The light shines through the windows – big windows that they are, covering nearly two walls and my ceiling. I like windows; I like the outside.

Semicolon there.


E/GL obsessed
Thank you ^.^ although I'm not sure what you mean by the semicolon... you mean it's not meant to be there or there's meant to be one where the dash is? Either way, it was deliberate.

Yes, I love minor characters - most of my stories tend to be about minor characters, actually :p and I love Bannai and Hokage (although thanks to Coronis, I know him as Hank... that is him, right?) ^.^

*sister squeals in her ear about how much she loves them too*

...ouch. *winces* As you can see, my sister agrees.

If you like minor characters, you might want to check out 'Heart of the Magma' in my signature (although you may also want to wait for the repost, it's much better than the original), and later on (when I finally get around to reposting it) the sequel, 'Choice and Consequence'. The main charrie is an OC, admittedly, but all those underdevloped minor charries of the franchise play big parts.

*cough* well, enough of the unashamed plugging... I just have to say, you're the first person I've met (other than my sister) who likes Krad! The last time I checked the bishie thread, I couldn't believe he wasn't taken (but I wasn't about to let go of Lance ;) ).

Yoru Ryu

Wow, your view of him is really similar to mine. I guess when you obsess over a character you can't help but put all their 'verse characteristics into one XD

Twas well written, and i don't usually read fics in that perspective but i enjoyed it. I've gotta say i'm kinda glad manga!Lance came out in the end. I'm no good with concrits so i'll just say it was great~

It was lovely to see Bill too XD Ever since the Yellow arc of the manga i've liked him, and i think i like his Viz!Accent over his ChuangYi one :B It's difficult to write though.

Still seems quite odd to me someone still likes KMS after all this time. I think i'll add it on ff.net too~


meet me in the rain
Wow, that was really neat. I never really liked Lance much, but to be honest, I'm almost reconsidering. I loved how you wrote the changes in his appearance to match his moods and feeling and how you combined two people into one. Very neat.


E/GL obsessed
Yoru Ryu: Well, considering that it's based off of your work ^.^; although I don't actually consider Lance to be slightly insane in my strange little world, I do tend to imagine him as kinda psychotic when he gets angry... but that doesn't happen often.

I like Bill too ^.^ he's so funny, and I love how he and Lt. Surge interact in that arc. Actually, it's because of that that I started liking Surge :p I can't say I agree with you on the accent thing, though (mostly 'cause I can't remember which accent he had in which arc) but I'm influenced by the anime, so I always imagine him with an upperclass British accent ;)

Thanks for reviewing, and don't find it odd ^.^ brilliance can be appreciated no matter how long has gone by, after all.

steel-rain: *gasp* you must worship the ground Lance walks on, or I will smite you!

.... *cough* okay, dramatics over. I'm glad I can convince a non-fan into 'almost' reconsidering ^.^ even if you haven't decided yet, the fact you're considering at all is good enough for me.

I really like the concept as well (if I may say so myself), so I'm dying to write more on it, maybe even a chaptered fic... but I don't have any solid story ideas and I don't think I could stretch it that far anyway -_-;;

Thanks, and glad you enjoyed ^.^

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain

Ah, yes, I have fond memories of your prior work. =) Hence, I had a good feeling about this when I learned of this, and surprise, surprise, I wasn’t disappointed. ^^

(…Feck, I use a lot of smilies. XD)

Anyway, this is damned engaging. Nice, rich, satisfying style, and it does a fantastic job of getting into Lance’s head. Plus, I like the choice of present-tense for a story like this, especially when it came to places such as when the bombs started going off—it gave it this great, tense, by-the-moment feel. Loved that. ^^

Following are excerpts that really stood out for me, stuff that I particularly liked:

“Let him be, Sidney. He’s been brooding all morning; he needs a chance to give his brain cells a rest before he loses what little he has.”

“It’s the company,” I answer, deadpan, and feel a little thrill of satisfaction at the startled and then gratified expressions that flash through Wallace’s eyes. He grins as the others laugh, and I smirk along with them.

Lance’s comeback is a thing of beauty. XD

Fate enjoys laughing at me.

The first explosion takes even me by surprise.

Those two lines just go POW. Love ‘em.

There’s no time to do anything before there’s a second detonation, and this time it’s close enough to make the lights flicker.

“Someone’s lost control of their electrodes,” someone grumbled, and I can’t stop a flash of incredulity.

How thick can you get?

Seriously. XD

Absently I’m relieved I can’t smell anyone burning as we pass by the floor of the latest bombing.

…Ooh, wow. o.o Yeah, the kind of detail that always grabs my attention in text. Mainly because I’m rather morbid. X3

“Listen,” Steven says from nearby in the calm, ‘talking to unreasonable people’ voice he uses when Whitney and Roxanne get into a catfight.

Normally the image would make me smile, but I’m too far gone.

I’m not! *giggles hysterically at mental image of said catfight*

Though I have to wonder whether he’s ever before seen a demon with an angel’s face.

Very cool line. ^^

I meet his eyes squarely.

And evenly I answer. “Fire blast.”

There is the roar of wind and flame beside me, and in his final split second I see the man’s eyes widen with terror and realization, the realization that he does not know me at all.

And then he is consumed, dead before he can scream, the blaze too strong to be put out by the rain before it is too late, sufficiently powerful to have melted down plastic and wires with enough speed to neutralise the explosion beyond an ineffective whump.

For a few moments there is silence aside from the crackle of flames, the fizzle of water, and the hum of the pokéball as I recall Dragonite. I know I’ll be feeling it later, but right now I’m still as calm as ever.

THE most powerful moment in the whole chapter. Frelling amazing. o.o

Well, you have succeeded in getting me very interested in Lance. ^^ I’ll be back for more…


E/GL obsessed
It's me! ^.^ Yay, I'm recognised!

Go the smileys ;) smileys are good.

Thanks ^.^ I was a bit nervous about writing in present-tense for the first time, but I didn't even consider writing it any other way. The moment the idea came into my head, that was just the way it was being written. It's really the only way it'd work, too, since the subject is Lance's insanity and because the signs of that insanity are things only he can see... although I'd love to write something from, say, Steven's or Wallace's PoV, on how they look at him and how his 'moods' affect everyone else.

I'm going to reply to some of your quotes, but since this computer is messed up and copy and paste doesn't work, I can't quote you back, so it might be a bit hard to follow -_-;; sorry.

I like the comeback as well ^.^ but I wasn't sure if it made complete sense in the context of Wallace's line, before deciding that it was close enough and it was too good a line to pass up :p

I figure, bombs going off and all, the first hint you'd get that there are injuries would be people burning, and the smell would be the first and most empowering sign of that, so *shrugs* well, actually, I didn't put *that* much thought into it :p just seemed like a logical progression.

Lol, I wasn't too far gone to imagine it either :p in the manga Roxanne is this stuck-up little... thing that kind of reminded me of my perception of Whitney, so I decided, 'what the hey, Lance needs a comparison'.

Then you've got a half a quote... something you looked like you were going to quote but somehow the post messed up and it deleted some of your message... so let's just put *blank* there, shall we? :p

Squee! *glomps Sike* I'm so glad you thought so! That scene was almost the entire reason I wrote the fic... I wanted to write about what might have happened if Lance came into a kill or be killed situation, and I happened to be looking at Yoru Ryu's deviantart account at the time, so the story progressed from there. But that scene was really the beginning, although it did change quite a bit from what it originally was. But in my mind it was this really tense, epiphany moment (for Steven and the others) and I really wanted to get that across. ^.^ So glad it worked!

And you should be interested in Lance ;) Lance is Teh Uber Bestest *glomps bishie* if you're that interested you should go check out deviantart, there are some good artists who like to draw him in 'mirrorscape', so to speak.

But this was only a one-shot ;) although I'm hoping I'll get some more solid ideas, because I really want to write more of split-personality-Lance; the Lance I usually have in mind isn't nearly as lacking in the sanity department. That said, he *is* in CaC (I can't wait until I get to writing that part of the story ;)) and I've got another epic series with him starring as the main character, so keep an eye out ^.^


The King of Kirby
PD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *tackleglomplovehugkissallthatstuffpeopledo* I missed you!!! Where teh crap have you been young ladeh!!! I was looking at the fics I was reading and spotted your name and I was like I swear I've heard that before and in a sudden flash of memory I went OMG PD!!!!!! She's alive and back and all that crazeh stuffs.
Is this chaptered??? If so would love to read more, if not, pooey, I wanted more!!!
Very good writing, loved it all. Great flow, and great characterization. Just loved it all. Got really nothing else to comment on. ^^;
Are you going to be continuing that fic I was reading but died since you left and all that??? Cause it'd be great to have it reposted so I can read it again. ^^; Sorry most of the review was all OMG PD's BACK!!!
jirachiman out ;385;


E/GL obsessed
Gwah! *is tackledglompedlovedhuggedkissed allthatstuffpeopledo*

...that sounds so bad.

Anyway ^.^ hi! *waves sheepishly and hides from scolding* don't hurt me, I'm sorreh! I've been hanging out around ff.net, in the Stargate, Harry Potter and various anime sections. Blame it on FMA, and Saiyuki, and Yugioh, and Rurouni Kenshin and DNAngel and GetBackers... *cough* well, yeah, you get the point. And I wasn't even finished yet. You should see the floor of my room, it's covered in manga books, I have piles on my piles and far too much time and money on my hands...

Sorry ^.^; it's only a one-shot, but I think there's more story to tell. I mean, we can't just leave Steven dangling like that can we, poor guy, after just finding out one of his best friends is capable of killing... I was thinking maybe a trilogy ;) even got the names planned for the other two, although I haven't quite worked out the details... *cough* anyway, an extension on the concept is very possible, so keep an eye out.

As for Choice and Consequence ;) you're in luck. Heart of the Magma should be reposted any day now, and that means that the revamped, much-improved version of CaC will be following soon after. I even know how many chapters there're going to be ^.^

And I don't mind that most of the review was 'OMG PD's BACK!!!'. I seriously didn't expect to be remembered at all, expect by a couple of people I have on my MSN and AIM lists ^.^ *is ecstatic* Thankies!

... although, on your way out, can you please call an ambulance? *is squashed flat from the enthusiastic greeting*


Back for the lulz
Oh, hey, I didn't know you posted fics on SPPf! *is a stupid* XD I'm The Incarnation Pokemon from ff.net, and I just left a HUGE, MONSTER review on this fic (on ff.net). If I had known you'd posted it on SPPf I'd probably have left my review here. It certainly would've allowed me to be even more long-winded (okay, maybe that's not a good thing), plus it would've been much easier to draw out quotes from your fic to give specific examples for my opinion. But. Uh. NEVERTHELESS! Check out my review if you have the time--you'll prolly need at least 10 minutes to properly read and reply to it, it's that long. And keep in touch, because it's always great to see minor characters get love from talented writers!