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Distance over Time — Cover art by Skitterine

"I need you to do more than try. I can't keep doing this. I mean it. I have so much to say and no more time to say it. I've kept so much back. I can't do it anymore."
— Serena
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Serena has a crush on Ash. She's had feelings for him for years, and everyone knows it - except him, of course. Always too shy to tell him, Serena thinks her journey with Ash is going to come to an end without ever sharing her feelings with him. Her time to tell him is soon to run out, but that changes when she and her friends receive an all-inclusive vacation in a luxurious coastal city as a reward for helping to save Kalos from Team Flare. Serena gets two extra weeks to confess her feelings to Ash, and so begins a series of events that will change everything between them.

The Camera Eye is a series of Pokémon anime fanfics by johnny3gud. Told entirely from Serena's perspective, the stories focus on the inner workings of her mind and her interactions with others as she deals with the many trials and tribulations of falling in love with a notoriously dense partner. Initially set late in the XY anime, the series departs from canon and follows Serena on her surprise vacation and beyond, providing something of an alternate ending to the XY anime and a new continuity from Sun & Moon onward.

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While fundamentally a romance story, the tone of the series is more serious than its initial premise suggests, and what begins as a vacation fic with a Will They or Won't They? subplot quickly becomes something very different. Dialogue-driven and focused heavily on character development, the series serves as a Coming-of-Age Story for Serena while deconstructing both her as a character and her longstanding infatuation with Ash.

The first story in the series, The Camera Eye, was published on March 1, 2018 and completed on May 3, 2018. Any Color You Like, a direct sequel, was published on October 24, 2018 and completed on January 21, 2019. The third story, Distance over Time, was published on August 31, 2019 and is currently updating. The stories can be read on both Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own.

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The series:

The Camera Eye Series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Played very straight with Lusamine's treatment of her children.
  • Action Girl: Korrina comes by it naturally. Serena reluctantly works her way into this role over the course of the series.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The first story serves as this for the XY&Z series.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Aria is a lesbian. Serena is Ambiguously Bi.
    • In Distance over Time, Aria goes so far as to suggest that Serena is actually a lesbian in denial. Serena refutes this, but it remains unclear even to her whether she has a stronger preference for boys or for girls.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Palermo is much more conniving and manipulative than she is depicted as being in canon.
  • Affably Evil: Palermo is polite and professional to a fault, even when trying to lure Serena into her trap.
  • A Lesson in Defeat: Serena receives one from Miette in the baking contest.
    • Korrina receives one from Palermo.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: Serena when she throws herself off of Aria's yacht.
  • Alternate Continuity: The series breaks off from the anime canon after the defeat of Team Flare.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Serena rejects Aria's love confession because she has already committed herself to Ash, not because of incompatible orientations. When Aria asks in disbelief if Serena actually likes girls, Serena isn't sure.
    • Serena's bisexuality becomes much less ambiguous when she ends up in a relationship with Aria in Distance over Time.
  • And I Must Scream: Serena's encounter with Nihilego renders her so thoroughly paralyzed with fear that she cannot scream no matter how hard she tries.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Serena finally tells Ash that she is in love with him only after surviving a harrowing ordeal in which she nearly drowns, losing an intense, acrimonious battle against Ash that was supposed to be her last-ditch effort to get through to him, and losing her composure to such a degree that she briefly considered hitting him.
  • Anti-Villain: Aria, in the first story, deceives Serena and her friends for the purpose of protecting Serena. Initially, at least.
  • Apologizes a Lot: As would be expected of her, Lillie does this.
    • Serena also has a tendency toward this, although her psuedo-apologies tend to be more often a way to dodge the point, e.g. "I'm sorry for everything."
  • Arc Words: Courtesy of Palermo, "You don't have it."
    • Although less overt in Distance over Time, several characters echo the phrase it's only a matter of time.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Lillie's lethal question to Serena during their argument.
  • Ascended Extra: Korrina, Aria, and Palermo all play larger roles in the series than they did in canon.
  • The Atoner: Serena becomes this at the end of Any Color You Like when she exiles herself back to her home as self-imposed punishment for everything she has done. She spends most of Distance over Time trying to make up for her actions.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Ash and Greninja's "mega tsunami" technique.
  • Backstory: As revealed in a series of flashbacks, Serena ended up at a summer camp with Ash due to a combination of the dissolution of her parents' marriage and her mother's stubborn insistence that she knows what is best for her.
  • Batman Gambit: Aria's plan was predicated on Serena doing exactly what Aria expected. Aria planted herself in places she considered Serena was likely to visit to set up "chance encounters" and exploited her character by tantalizing her with nuggets of wisdom.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Serena ends up believing it to be a cosmic certainty that Ash will fill the role of the hero wherever he goes, no matter what.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Aria develops feelings for Serena because Serena is the first person in ages to talk to her like she is a normal person.
  • Berserk Button: Nearly everything Miette does serves as this for Serena.
  • Beta Couple: Clemont and Korrina.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Serena delivers this to Ash after he defeats Siebold.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Any Color You Like ends with Serena separated from Ash, but not the rest of her friends, who come looking for her.
  • Blatant Lies: Serena calls herself out for lying constantly about her feelings, most frequently by omission.
  • Body Horror: Serena is terrified of the empty space in Nihilego's body where its head should be, jumping to the conclusion that Nihilego intends to latch onto her head to fill that space.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: During her confession to him, both Serena and Ash bring up their absentee fathers.
  • Break the Cutie: Serena endures this in all three stories.
    • Lillie joins her in Any Color You Like. However, Serena is the one to break Lillie. Serena breaks herself.
  • Broken Pedestal: Serena experiences this for nearly everyone she looks up to in one way or another.
  • The Bus Came Back: Korrina returns to become a member of the main cast again.
    • After being absent for almost the entirety of Any Color You Like, Clemont, Bonnie, and Korrina return at the end.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Serena is cursed with this.
  • Celeb Crush: Inverted. Aria develops feelings for Serena.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The series begins with the relatively lighthearted premise of Serena trying to find a way to confess her feelings to Ash and quickly moves into darker territory as more and more of Serena's troubled mind is revealed.
  • Character Development: One of the driving forces of the story.
    • Serena confesses her feelings to Ash and is then is confronted with the reality of suddenly being in a relationship she had desired for a very long time. She is forced to try to move past her tendencies to hide her feelings and to communicate openly with Ash, and others.
    • Ash, eternally oblivious to love, ends up in a relationship and is forced to start thinking about others in ways he never has before. Much like Serena, communication and honesty about his feelings are not his greatest strengths.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Serena diagnoses this in Ash.
  • City of Gold: Played with. Serena observes the streets of Monego City to be golden and she feels like an unworthy peasant in the presence of the locals.
    • Serena's feelings of unworthiness and isolation are echoed in Distance over Time when she arrives in Lumiose City in autumn and observes everything and everyone around her to be colorful and glowing.
  • Combat Breakdown: When Ash stops giving orders and Serena's emotions overwhelm her, Braixen's attacks against Greninja turn into nothing more than repeated blows to the face.
  • Combat Parkour: Typical technique for Greninja.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Ash's standard reaction to many non-literal phrases.
  • Continuity Nod: Several:
    • Ash's training on the beach is a nod to the training he did on Dewford Island after losing to Brawly, nearly three full generations prior to the events of the story.
    • The straw hat Serena wears in Alola is a nod to the one she wore the day she first met Ash.
    • The dress Serena purchases for her date with Ash in Hau'oli City is chosen to look as similar as possible to the one she wore on the day she first met him.
  • Crowd Panic: Ash unintentionally causes this with Greninja's tsunami technique during their battle with Korrina and Lucario.
  • Cutting Through Energy: Attacks commonly split opposing attacks in half or eat holes through them.
  • Damsel in Distress: Serena recognizes Lillie as playing this role to Ash's perpetual hero.
    • Partially subverted by Aria in Distance over Time. Although she admits that she needs help, she is so adamant about refusing to be another damsel for Ash to rescue that she specifically asks him not to help her, even though she knows he would succeed.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Many of the characters are revealed to have this.
    • Serena and Ash were both abandoned by their fathers.
    • Aria was essentially signed away to Palermo, and she lives a friendless life, estranged from her family, with her fate almost entirely beyond her control.
    • Lillie suffered years of abuse at her mother's hand, effectively imprisoned at the Aether Paradise.
    • Korrina was abandoned by her parents and left in her grandfather's care.
    • Clemont and Bonnie only have a father because their mother passed away.
  • Deconstruction Fic: The series as a whole deconstructs Serena as a character, and her relationship with Ash.
  • Deflector Shield: Protect, Reflect, Light Screen, and Mirror Coat in action.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Serena crosses this upon her Heel Realization after breaking into Lillie's diary, leading to her decision to leave.
    • She crosses it again upon discovering that Ash never stopped writing to her, thus causing her to realize that she was actually cheating on him and resulting in her breakup with Aria and her de facto breakup with him.
  • Determinator: Serena, to an almost pathological degree, always keeps her promise to Ash to never give up until it's over. Always. She is so dedicated to it that Ash says Serena taught him how to never give up.
  • Disappeared Dad: Serena's, Ash's, and Lillie's fathers are all absent from their lives.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Ash brings both Pikachu and Greninja with him to Alola. As such, Serena notes that Ash's second battle against Hau, still a rookie trainer at that time, is a foregone conclusion.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Lillie delivers a crushing verbal blow to Serena during their confrontation by questioning the nature of Serena's relationship with Ash and whether or not it was really love.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The titles of the stories are both references to music as well as having greater meaning within the context of the narrative.
    • The Camera Eye is a reference to Rush. It also alludes to Aria's fame and the drastic measures she has to take to avoid being "caught in the camera eye." It is also a bonus reference to the awkwardness the cast faces from their growing fame and from more and more of their lives being caught on camera.
    • Any Color You Like is a reference to Pink Floyd. It is also a reference to a (possibly apocryphal) quote by Henry Ford, who when asked if Ford would produce the Model T in any color other than black, responded "You can have it any color you like, as long as it's black." The quote evokes a sense of powerlessness and restriction of choice in modern society. Likewise, Serena feels a sense of powerlessness in her situation in this story, trapped in a story that is not her own and unable to change anything.
    • Distance over Time is a reference to Dream Theater. The title also alludes to one of the story's major arcs, of Serena dealing with her separation from Ash and the effects that it has on her over time.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In the first story, Serena navigates a veritable minefield of drama to get together with Ash.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Serena is quick to forgive Aria for her deception. Justified given the circumstances in which Aria was operating and the sincerity of her apology.
    • Lillie sends Cutiefly after Serena with a note telling her that despite everything, she wants to see Serena again and she hopes she comes back one day.
    • Even after learning about Serena's infidelity, Lillie is quick to forgive her because she would rather support her and be her friend when she clearly needs it.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Aria plays this role for Serena for much of the first story, always remaining at least a little bit whimsical and enticing Serena with precious nuggets of wisdom.
  • Epic Fail: Serena creates an experimental recipe in the baking contest that turns out to be incredibly sour.
  • Everyone Can See It: When Serena tells her friends about her feelings for Ash, none of them are surprised. Every single one of them already knew.
  • Evil Matriarch: Lusamine. Serena even refers to her as an evil mastermind.
  • External Retcon: Ash did not lose the final battle of the Kalos League because he was outmatched. He intentionally called the wrong attack because he was afraid of how much things would change if he won.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Aria pulls one of these during The Reveal in the first story. However, the morality of her actions is left open to interpretation, and Serena considers Aria's intentions to have been good enough that she eventually views Aria as a friend again.
  • Famed in Story: Ash and Serena's attempts to avoid this is a recurring background plot throughout the series.
  • Fanservice: The make-out scene on the hill outside Pallet Town, all though it is mostly played for drama as one of the early signs of Serena's struggle against Love Makes You Crazy.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Serena and friends travel to Monego City for their vacation, a luxurious coastal city in southeast Kalos. Kalos is based on real-life France, and as such, Monego City is based on Monaco, a city (actually a sovereign city-state) located on the southeastern coast of France.
  • Fatal Flaw: Serena's inability to be forthcoming with her true feelings bites her again and again.
  • Field Power Effect: Clemont uses Electric Terrain in the double battle against Serena and Ash to power up Luxray's attacks.
  • Flashback: The final chapter of Any Color You Like features a lengthy sequence which depicts the collapse of Serena's parents' marriage and the aftermath.
    • In a stark departure from the series' typical narration style, chapter 11 of Any Color You Like opens with Serena skimming through a selection of entries from Lillie's diary, forming a flashback to the previous two years of Lillie's life.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Bonnie and Clemont.
  • For Want of a Nail: The series diverges from canon with an invitation for a vacation. The rest is history.
  • Foreshadowing: The picture Serena finds in the penthouse of Diantha and Palermo together alludes to the true nature of the place. It does not belong to just Diantha - it's a timeshare, owned by both Diantha and Palermo, and it was through her connection to Palermo that Aria was able to book it for Serena and her friends.
    • The penthouse and the picture also foreshadow the true nature of the relationship between Palermo and Diantha. Palermo is, in fact, Diantha's former mentor, and Palermo released Diantha from her grasp when she realized the threat Diantha would pose to her, choosing instead to turn her into a powerful ally.
    • Serena experiences a headache almost every time she tries to interact with Delphox. She eventually learns that the headaches were an unintended side effect of Delphox attempting to contact her telepathically.
  • From Bad to Worse: In all three stories, things get progressively worse and worse for Serena with little reprieve until everything boils over all at once.
  • Fuuma Shuriken: Greninja uses these when in Ash-Greninja form.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Aria references some tropes from this very wiki by name. Somewhat justified, given her life in the world of show business.
    • Serena unwittingly becomes genre savvy when she correctly identifies that she is not supposed to be in Alola because it isn't her story.
  • Going Home Again: Serena exiles herself back to her home at the end of Any Color You Like.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Played with. Serena thinks at first that she is "losing her mind" because of Nihilego's influence. Instead, when she realizes her mistakes are all because of her insecurity and jealousy, her Heel Realization causes her to have a minor dissociative episode.
  • Graceful Loser: As always, Hau takes his losses to Ash with a smile.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Serena slowly becomes one over the course of Any Color You Like, convinced that Lillie is going to take Ash from her.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Very much so for Serena, as her entire worldview is shaken to the core by the events which unfold around her.
  • Heel Realization: After spending most of Any Color You Like trying to place the blame for her problems on anyone other than herself, to the point of projecting Lillie as a Green-Eyed Monster dead-set on stealing Ash from her, Serena realizes that she herself has been the cause of all of her problems. Her realization is the rock-bottom point on her path of Sanity Slippage.
  • The Hero: Ash's role in life, as recognized by Serena.
  • Hidden Depths: Given that this is a series of deconstruction fics, it's no surprise that the characters have these in spades.
    • Serena is a nervous wreck, constantly filled with doubt and anxiety. She is utterly incapable of being honest about her feelings without being backed into a corner first. All of this comes as an extension of her canon characterization, in which she somehow restrains herself from divulging her feelings to Ash for years.
    • Ash, while not exactly astute, is more aware of what's going on around him than he seems. While he has a lot of trouble picking up on various social and emotional cues (in part because Serena goes to great lengths to hide them), his obliviousness to love is in fact an act of obfuscating stupidity, a wall which he maintains due to seeing how much love hurt his mother.
    • Palermo is basically a White-Dwarf Starlet; she knows a comeback is impossible not only due to her age but because most modern performers are better than she was at her peak, as she's from a time when it was a weekend activity. She therefore chooses instead to trick talented girls into thinking they need her, leeching off their success. Serena is her next target.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Aria's undoing comes from engaging in the same manipulative behavior that she wanted to warn Serena that Palermo engages in.
  • Hope Spot: Serena's impromptu dinner date with Ash looks like a sign that everything will get better. Instead, before the night is through, things get much worse.
  • Hula and Luaus: Serena and Ash are greeted by a hula girl who gives both of them a lei when they arrive at the airport in Hau'oli City.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Aria envies Serena and other normal people due to their ability to go out in public without having to disguise themselves to avoid being recognized.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Aria's life as the Kalos Queen has given her many acquaintances and few, if any friends.
  • Ironic Echo: Miette describes her battle with Serena for Ash's heart as "love and war." Later, when Bonnie foils Miette's plan to kiss Ash, Bonnie taunts Miette by saying "all's fair in love and war" as Clemont drags her away.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Aria sets Serena up to replace Miette on her date with Ash because she recognizes how hopeless her crush on Serena is.
  • Kick the Dog: Serena's final act before her Heel Realization is to break into Lillie's diary.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Although her realization is treated in-universe as a sign of her insanity, Serena leans on the fourth wall with her stated belief that the journey in Alola isn't her story, which the audience knows is literally true - in canon material, Serena isn't there.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Serena is overwhelmed by being in a relationship with Ash and quickly begins to lose control of herself.
  • Love Triangle:
    • In The Camera Eye, Serena has feelings for Ash, and it remains unclear for most of the story whether or not Ash has feelings for her. In the meantime, Aria develops feelings for Serena. While Serena does not explicitly deny reciprocating Aria's feelings, she refuses to give up on Ash and rejects Aria's confession.
    • In Any Color You Like, Serena and Ash are in a relationship, but Serena views Lillie as a romantic threat. Due to her general unfamiliarity with people, Lillie isn't certain what her true feelings are toward Ash. Serena's insecurity and jealousy results in her perceiving all of Lillie's actions as an attempt to steal Ash from her, and the end result is a pseudo-breakup that leaves Serena and Ash's relationship in an ambiguous state.
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Kukui lets Pokemon use moves against him, keeps dangerous Pokemon inside his home, and thinks Ash and Greninja's near-destruction of his lab and everyone in it is a roaring good time. It's all in the name of research.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Aria sets the plot of the first story in motion by gifting Serena and her friends a vacation upon false pretenses and then leads Serena on with tantalizing nuggets of wisdom, all for the purpose of giving Serena a clandestine warning that Palermo is herself a master manipulator who will take control of Serena's life if she agrees to work with her.
  • Meaningful Name: Aside from the already obvious allusions to Monaco, Monego City's name is derived from both the local demonym (Monégasque) and a portmanteau of "Money" and "Go," alluding to the city's reputation as an opulent playground for the rich.
  • Musical Theme Naming: Runs through the entire series.
    • The Camera Eye is a reference to Rush, and eight of the ten chapter titles reference Rush's music in some way.
    • Any Color You Like is a reference to Pink Floyd, and all thirteen chapter titles are derived from their music. The cover art also references the famous cover artwork for The Dark Side of the Moon.
    • Distance over Time references Dream Theater, and all of the chapter titles are derived from their album titles, song titles, and lyrics.
  • My Beloved Smother: Serena's strained relationship with her mother comes in part from her perception that her mother disapproves of everything she does.
    • Played much more literally in Lillie's relationship with her mother, naturally.
  • My God, What Have I Done? - Serena's painful heel realization after her confrontation with Lillie.
  • Never My Fault: Serena spends most of Any Color You Like in denial that she caused her own problems and attempting to project them onto others.
  • Nice Hat: Serena wears a wide-brimmed straw hat with a red ribbon while she is in Alola, a continuity nod to the straw hat she wore when she first met Ash at summer camp.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Everything Serena does to improve her relationship with Ash makes things worse.
  • No-Sell: Type advantages, disadvantages, and immunities are in full effect during battles.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: He's no genius, but Ash is not nearly as clueless as he seems.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Any time either Serena or Ash gets honest about their emotions is a guarantee that drama is about to ensue.
  • Parental Abandonment: Neither Serena nor Ash have a father figure in their lives. Both of their fathers left their mothers.
    • Korrina is eventually revealed to have been abandoned by her parents and left with her grandfather.
  • Playing with Fire: Typical for fire-type Pokemon, but taken to a new level when Braixen evolves into Delphox and gains such control over her powers that she amuses herself by tracing shapes in the air with flames from her wand.
  • Psychic Powers: Braixen struggles to develop these. She eventually succeeds when she evolves into Delphox.
    • Psychic powers take a much more prominent role in Distance over Time. Palermo's Florges displays a frightening mastery of them, the result of decades of privately honing her skills. Serena's Delphox puts them to use for a variety of purposes, most notably to fight back against Florges and, eventually, contact Serena telepathically and enter her mind.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Serena's parting words to Aria: "Get. Away. From me."
  • Put on a Bus: Clemont, Bonnie, and Korrina are absent for most of Any Color You Like. They eventually return for Serena at the end.
    • Serena puts herself on a bus at the end of Any Color You Like.
    • In a reversal of perspective from the end of Any Color You Like, despite Serena placing herself on the bus, Ash and Lillie are absent from the first half of Distance over Time.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Several of these are delivered in various forms:
    • Aria delivers one to Serena, calling her out for what she perceives as her blind devotion to Ash despite all the problems it causes her. In turn, Serena fires back with her own speech and calls out Aria for resorting to the same manipulative tactics as Palermo.
    • Subverted during Serena's first battle with Ash. As her frustration with him reaches a boiling point, she appears to be slowly delivering one of these until it twists into an Anguished Declaration of Love and a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech.
    • Siebold delivers one of these to Ash during their battle, calling him out for his impulsiveness, immaturity, and lack of foresight.
    • Serena delivers one to Lillie, accusing her of playing up her role of damsel in distress and trying to usurp her as Ash's lover. Lillie turns the tables and delivers a crushing blow in response, calling out Serena for not truly understanding what love is.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Aria references this trope by name when detailing her plan to enter the volleyball tournament with Serena, her argument being that it's so bold, no one would ever believe it was actually her.
  • The Reveal: The vacation in Monego City turns out not to be a reward from Diantha, but rather a ploy set up by Aria to get close to Serena without drawing any attention, all so she can warn Serena not to sign her life away to Palermo as her protege. Her plan worked, too, minus the complications of her unexpectedly developing feelings for Serena.
    • Distance over Time features a parade of these.
      • After chasing down Aria, Serena discovers that Aria knows nothing about the emails Serena sent her, nor Serena's attempt to extort her for money. The email address Palermo gave her was a fake, and it was Palermo she was communicating with the whole time. Thus, Palermo uncovered Aria's plot to warn Serena and retaliated by confiscating all of her funds, leading to Aria's decision to run away.
      • Upon Ash and Lillie's arrival in Kalos, Lillie drops a bombshell on Serena when she reveals that she kissed Ash in Alola, but he refused to kiss her back and remained faithful to Serena the whole time. This leads to the even bigger revelation that Ash never stopped writing to Serena, meaning that his letters to her somehow went missing. This all leads to Serena finally realizing that she was wrong about Ash giving up on her and that she had, in fact, cheated on him with Aria.
      • During the confrontation at her mansion, Palermo reveals the full extent of her manipulation via a series of Batman Gambits. After using Serena as an Unwitting Pawn to sleuth out Aria's plot against her, Palermo took the evidence she collected from Serena's attempted correspondences with Aria and spun it as evidence to frame Serena. She presented this fake evidence to law enforcement, thereby resulting in a search warrant that enabled her to confiscate Ash's letters to Serena upon arrival. Aware of the compliated romantic tension between Serena and Aria, she knew that leaving the two of them together under one roof and removing the one obstacle preventing them from being together would eventually result in the explosion of a drama bomb that would send Aria running back to her. Likewise, she knew that Serena and her friends would come after Aria, and she prepared for it by deceiving Diantha, revealed to be her former protege. Well aware that she stood no chance against Ash, she then turns over the battle to the champion of Kalos.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Serena becomes the "evil" rival in the Love Triangle with Ash and Lillie. She even refers to herself as the "evil stepsister" in their fairy tale following her Heel Realization.
  • Rule of Cool: Ash and Greninja's mega tsunami attack makes no sense at all, mechanically. It's the embodiment of Awesome, but Impractical.
  • Running Gag: Serena's dislike of Pyukumuku after her disgusting first encounter with one comes up several times.
  • Sanity Slippage: A case of Love Makes You Crazy, Serena undergoes this throughout Any Color You Like, culminating in her Heel Realization.
  • Sequel Hook: While The Camera Eye ended with enough questions left unanswered that a sequel seemed possible, it would have been a reasonable option to end the series after one story. Any Color You Like, on the other hand, ended with multiple unresolved plot threads, and with a closing line of TO BE CONTINUED instead of THE END.
  • Ship Tease: Serena's interactions with Aria are loaded with this.
  • Shipper on Deck: Most of Serena's friends are rooting for her and Ash to get together.
    • Taken Up to Eleven by Bonnie in Distance over Time. Since Clemont is in a stable relationship, she finds a new purpose in life by becoming a self-declared professional shipper and maintaining shipping charts of all her friends.
  • Shout-Out: Many:
    • Each story derives its title and most of its chapter titles from the music of a particular band. The Camera Eye references Rush, Any Color You Like references Pink Floyd, and Distance over Time references Dream Theater.
    • The movies the cast watches on a rainy day in Monego City are all vaguely Pokemon-themed references to real-world films. Serena chooses Amélie, Ash chooses Raiders of the Lost Ark, Clemont chooses March of the Penguins, and Korrina chooses Kill Bill, Vol. I. Bonnie's original, rejected choice is Goodfellas, and her second choice (the silent vampire movie) is Nosferatu (1922).
    • The black-and-white film that plays on the TV on a rainy day at Professor Kukui's lab is Casablanca.
    • The musical Lillie sees with Professor Kukui and Professor Burnet is Les Miserables.
  • Super Speed: Used by many Pokemon in varying degrees, but put to particular use by both Pikachu and Greninja.
  • Time Skip: Almost three months pass during the final chapter of Any Color You Like.
  • Title Drop: Aria does this when she talks about being "caught in the camera eye."
  • Took a Level in Badass: Driven to the point of no return and teetering on the Despair Event Horizon, Serena challenges Ash to a battle. She holds her own until it becomes clear that Ash isn't actually trying.
    • In Any Color You Like, Serena battles Ash once again, but this time it's Braixen who levels up - literally - evolving into Delphox and gaining control of her psychic powers in the process.
  • Training from Hell: Ash puts himself through this to prepare for his battle with Siebold. His chosen method is a continuity nod to the rigorous training he underwent on Dewford Island after his loss to Brawly.
    • Braixen puts herself through this in an attempt to harness her psychic powers, refusing to move from her spot on the beach for several days unless she moves a coconut with her mind.
  • Troll: Miette's entire reason for pursuing Ash is because she finds it fun to get under Serena's skin.
  • Undying Loyalty: Serena goes to absurd lengths to keep her promise to Ash to never give up.
  • Villain Protagonist: Played with in Any Color You Like. Serena eventually realizes that she is the antagonist of the story.
  • Wham Episode: The later chapters of the stories tend to be these.
    • Chapter 8 of The Camera Eye contains reveal after reveal, culminating with the revelation that Aria was behind everything. Serena is left feeling so betrayed that she throws herself off of Aria's yacht to escape.
    • Chapters 11 and 12 of Any Color You Like are back-to-back wham episodes. Chapter 11 opens with Serena reading Lillie's diary, followed by a vicious argument between the two of them that leaves Lillie on the wrong side of the Despair Event Horizon and Serena reeling from a Heel Realization. In chapter 12, Serena announces to Ash her intent to leave, but her attempted departure turns into a full-blown battle when Ash tries to stop her by force. A bitter struggle ensues, culminating with Greninja and the newly-evolved Delphox refusing to fight anymore due to the idiocy of it all, and Serena leaving, emotionally shattered.
    • Distance over Time contains several.
      • When Serena chases down Aria, she learns that Aria never received any of her emails and that Palermo was deceiving her the entire time. She not only gave Palermo all the evidence necessary to expose Aria's ploy, but also led Palermo directly to where Aria was hiding.
      • After Korrina's crushing defeat by Palermo, everything falls to pieces. The letter that Serena tried to send to Ash at the beginning of the story is returned to her, which strips away her last shred of hope. She gives up, kisses Aria, and ends up in a relationship with her for just long enough for Ash and Lillie to return to Kalos. Lillie then reveals that despite her kissing Ash, Ash was faithful to Serena the entire time and never stopped writing to her. Serena realizes that someone took Ash's letters to her, and that she was deceived into cheating on Ash.
      • In the final confrontation with Palermo, the full extent of her multi-layered plan is revealed, including using Diantha to battle in her place due to not being strong enough to defeat Ash herself. After her apparent defeat, Palermo returns to pursue Serena and the others at the airport. With her plan foiled and nothing to lose, Palermo resorts to unprecedented violence against everyone in her way. After having Florges attempt to rip the Aether Foundation's jet out of the sky, Palermo faces down Serena in what quickly turns into a Curb-Stomp Battle, with her very first action being to have Florges viciously crush Ribombee to prevent Ribombee from healing Serena's team. When all of her team is seemingly either unconscious or dead, Serena begs Palermo not to kill her.
      • After seemingly dying, Serena wakes up and finds herself floating in an empty void, leading her to believe that she really is dead. After thinking about her life for a while, she is startled by the appearance of Delphox, who reveals that she is not dead at all, but rather deep inside her own mind. After offering Serena some words of encouragement, Delphox returns both of them to reality, where they merge minds and achieve a transformation similar to the one shared by Ash and Greninja. Together, Serena and Delphox easily overwhelm Florges, and when Palermo orders Florges to unleash a dangerously powerful blast, the reflected attack consumes Florges, leaving behind nothing but ashes in the wind.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Serena's Sanity Slippage begins when she calls herself out for acting selfishly and resorting to questionable means to get what she wants. Subtle foreshadowing of her realization that she is essentially the antagonist of Any Color You Like.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Occurs several times:
    • Aria repeatedly assures Serena of her self-worth, culminating with her final letter to Serena in which she states, succinctly, "You are enough."
    • Serena and Ash both do this for each other as they kick themselves for their romantic missteps with each other, most notably during their impromptu date at Siebold's cafe and in the aftermath of Serena's Anguished Declaration of Love.
    • Serena does this for Lillie, but her own words turn against her as she comes to view Lillie as her superior romantic rival.
    • In Distance over Time, Serena receives this from most of her friends in one form or another in an attempt to get her to stop punishing herself.
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