white noise

Solitude is often the best society. - Proverb

"Hey, do you want to–" He stops when he notices the heavy bass beats escaping from her curious red and white headphones. He waves a hand in front of her eyes, but she has them closed, and finally he taps her milky white shoulder. She opens one blue eye and glances up at him. She mouths, "What?" He pantomimes removing headphones and she grudgingly slides them around her neck.

"What?" He can still hear some strange, electronic rhythm that matches her heartbeat.

"I was trying to ask you if you want to go out, take a walk or something. You know, get some fresh air."

"No." She puts her hands back on the headphones, but he stops her.

"Come on Kamitsure, not even in my less impressive moments did I spend as much time as you do, holed up behind four blank walls."

She waves her right hand around. "These walls aren't blank," she points to the strange posters pinned from ceiling to floor – like the bedroom of a teenage girl. Well, it was the bedroom of a teenage girl. "Volkner, I'm happy here. Leave me alone." She does her best to smile up at him as she pops the headphones back in place.

Volkner sighs, leaving her room but not giving up just yet.

On the phone with Flint, who's still probably lounging in pyjamas back in the comforts of his Resort-Area villa, Volkner whines.

"You know, she wasn't always like this. When we were young, she was up for anything. Of course, I guess all little kids are up for anything, right?"


"It just concerns me."

"Why don't you invite her to go for ice cream? I love ice cream."

Volkner's desperate enough to try it, so as soon as he hangs up, he drags his feet back into the younger girl's room.

"Let's get something to snack on. What about ice cream? You like ice cream?" Quickly realizing she probably isn't aware that he's even talking, Volkner tugs the long black cord of her headphones, pulling it from its socket in her laptop.

"Are you kidding me?"

"Let's go out for ice cream."

She scowls. "I'm lactose intolerant."

Before he has the opportunity to ask if she's joking or not, she takes the end of her cord back and plugs it up. She tells him, yelling over the volume of her music, "Leave me alone."

He exits once again, arms crossed. Well, if she wants to live her whole life behind the wall of her awful synthesized music, then so be it. But then, as he slumps onto the living room couch, he realizes he doesn't want that to happen because while he might not be the best role model for eternal happiness and sunshine, he's well aware that there's a whole world outside that she knows so little about.

He plops down on her sofa and takes the remote, quickly flicking through the channels. He wants to find something to distract himself because if he doesn't, he'll be back in her room, prodding her and tugging off her earphones, desperate to break down all her walls.

He stops on some PokéNews Network report about a trainer defeating the Unova champion and they flash her picture, but her tired smile and mousy hair bore him, so he changes the channel to a bright cartoon with cheery characters. He glances at his 'tech, lying on the coffee table and thinks about calling Flint to tell him what terrible ideas he has, but instead he leaves it, trying to instead devise some plan to coax her from her hiding place.

Surely there's something he can do. He almost wonders if he should leave her alone, but he can't, and gets up within minutes and heads back to her room. She looks up at him from her relaxed pose and jabs a bony finger in the direction of the door. He frowns and she shrugs, so he takes a hint and leaves.

The next morning, he calls Jasmine, a faraway lover, and asks as soon as she says hello, "If you locked yourself up in your room, what would make you come out?"

He hears her delicate, tiny laugh and smiles. She says, "Well, nothing. I wouldn't come out until I'm ready."

"But what if someone wanted you to come out?"

"It wouldn't matter. It's kind of like a baby torkoal, you know?"

"No, I don't know, actually."

"Think about it: if the little guy has pulled himself into his shell, you aren't going to get him out by knocking and pestering. You have to wait until he's ready, not when you're ready." He grins as he listens to her voice and the buzzing of her magnemite in the background. "So, anyway, are you still bothering that Unova girl?"

"I'm not bothering her, I'm—"

"Volkner, honestly, you're probably bothering her." He knows she's right, but doesn't really want to accept it, and so he changes the subject.

"How've you been?"

"I've been fairing well. I miss you. You'll have to come by for a visit, sometime."

"I miss you too. That would be nice, actually, yeah. I think I will."

"But wait until you get the Kamitsure thing sorted out, okay? I wouldn't want to try to talk to you while you're more distracted than usual."

"Sure thing. I'll see you soon, Jas."

"Bye, Volkner."

He waits to her the tiny click of her hanging up her PokéGear before he puts his own down. He thinks, maybe the girl's on to something, so he decides that he'll just have to find out.

She's obviously waiting for him, because her headphones are off as soon as he steps into the room. "What could you possibly want this time?" There's a hint of bitterness in her voice, and he doesn't quite like it but brushes it off nonetheless.

"Be honest with me." She rolls her eyes. As if that would really be a problem. "Am I bothering you?"

She stands up, throwing her thin arms into the air. "You think? All I want to do is stay here, listen to this, and forget everything else. Why can't you let me do that?"

"I'm just concerned about you."

"Why? Like I could possibly get into any trouble spending time here rather than outside – I mean, really. If I need to go out, I go out, and then I'm done. Of all people, I can't believe you're the one begging me to spread my wings. I just don't want to. It cannot be any simpler than that."

He realizes that not only was Jasmine exactly right, but so is Kamitsure and he almost feels terrible for pressuring her to do something she wasn't ready to do. In the same way that Flint tried everything to pull him back to the surface and he fought back, so is the cycle repeating, but between himself and this girl. He stuffs his hands into the pockets of his jeans.


She almost smiles. "Okay."

As he turns to leave, she says, "Not that I'm ungrateful for your attempts or anything."

He smiles to himself because it's Kamitsure and he knows it took a lot for her to say that out loud. He quietly shuts the door behind him and decides that she'll be out soon enough and in the meantime he'll enjoy watching the weather from the windows or taking naps on the sofa.

Three days pass before she finally emerges, sporting her headphones as a necklace instead of, well, headphones.

She says, "I'm not actually lactose intolerant."

She says, "So, what about that ice cream?"