Disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon.
. . .
Do you think it's possible that every 'hello' could be equivalent to every 'goodbye'?
Why is it that the simple farewell is so dreaded in comparison to the simple greeting of reunion?
Where is the 'good' in goodbye when attached to the whole package deal includes missing someone and separation?
Six Months Later...
Too much has happened since the fall of Plasma and their beloved, but tormented king, N Harmonia. After the army of Officer Jenny's brought him to court and was sentenced to a lifetime in prison, everyone began to rebuild Unova back to the way it was years ago. Most trainers went out to try and recapture old friends while select few still believed what Plasma stood for and never bothered touching their empty pokeballs again.
The gym leaders were able to get their gyms up and running again within a few months. Although they rarely got any visitors this time around, they suspected that would all change when Unova was complete and at peace in the coming months.
And because of this, the Elite Four also had no challengers. They spent their time holding charities at different regions, bringing notice to what had happened to their own home region, and raised plentiful funds to help speed along the process of restoration.
Everyone who knew Touko kept her as busy as possible. The Pokemon Champion of Unova, Alder, even tried to goad her into challenging him and to take his place, knowing that she would be busy if she did win, thus not have much time to her self, but she saw through this and declined, saying her mind and heart was not into this matter at the moment and politely asked him to wait until she was ready.
Red had departed with few words and a sack full of 'high quality' Unova coffee beans, telling her that if she was ever in a tight spot then to contact him and not to go into solitude like he did. He knew that she would think too much and act rash, considering the situation, if she did decide to head down that road. His best advice to her was to act smart, be good, be patient, and everything could go her way. He left with a promise to come back and visit one day.
Belle and Cheren were able to convince her to help with local fund raising and giving small, motivational speeches to help build what they had lost. This went on for months and it helped occupy her but it was not enough.
Any moment she had free, Touko's thoughts would wander over to her green haired ex-lover, if he could be called that, and she hoped he was at least being treated decently in jail. It had taken her a couple days to get over the shock of him being locked up for life and finally admitted defeat that there was nothing she could do. She did not even have the guts to visit him.
The feeling of guilt began to rot inside her gut, slowly growing, manifesting every single day until it was almost difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Until one day she didn't get out of bed and didn't leave unless she was thirsty or had to use the bathroom.
Ms. White frowned upon this behavior and called Belle to come over and talk some sense into her daughter. The older woman had at first been afraid of this happening but her worries were eased a little when her daughter showed no signs of depression. But it appeared as if it had all finally caught up to her and now she was going to begin a slow cycle of self destruction if no one did anything about it. She did not know all the details for her daughters misadventure as much as her friends, so she could not offer much help.
Belle came over in record time, saying a quick hello to Ms. White before dashing up the stairs and barging into Touko's room without knocking, and squealed at the top of her lungs, "Good mooooorning sunshine!"
Touko jerked, momentarily confused and startled, but only to sigh afterwards and close her eyes. She grabbed her blanket and curled more into it's warmth, wishing her friend would leave her to wallow in peace.
"Oh no, we are having none of that," Belle chided and ripped the blanket away from her friend, expecting a reaction but got none. "Touko?"
Touko shivered but did not feel the anger she should have been feeling to demand her blanket back. "Belle, what is wrong with me?" She whispered, sounding as drained as she felt.
"I think... you are depressed, Touko," Belle murmured worriedly and placed the blanket back over her friend after seeing another shiver pass by. She sat down near the head of the bed and tried to run her hands through greasy brown locks but was met with tangles. "You smell."
"I haven't showered in awhile," Touko admitted and felt a little embarrassed, the slightest tint of pink dusting her cheeks.
Belle breathed a sigh of relief that her friend was not completely emotionless and patted her shoulder. "Hey now, you need to take care of yourself."
"What for? Who for? He's gone, why do I need to smell nice anymore?"
"Please, Touko, don't tell me you have become totally dependent on him."
"It's not like that... if he was getting some years, sure, that would be fine. But Belle, he's in for life." Touko felt her throat tightening with emotion and buried her head on her pillow so the tears would be absorbed. "I don't know how to deal with that and I don't want to move on and find someone else. I can't... if that makes me 'dependent' on him then so be it, but he holds the place in my heart whether I like it or not."
"So you're saying that even though you may recover through this, move about life normally, you'll still love him?"
"Yeah, I guess that is exactly what I am saying."
"Oh, Touko," Belle sighed with a small yet sad smile on her face. "What am I going to do with you?"
"Don't leave me here like this," Touko lifted her head to look at Belle in the eye. "Don't let me become some broken mess."
"Okay, I promise," Belle vowed and stood up. "You really need to shower. And change your panties, ugh." The blonde grabbed the other female by the ankles and pulled her out of bed.
Touko, too slow to respond or comprehend what was going on, was met—face first—with her hardwood floor. "Ouch! Dammit Belle, I change them every day!" She now felt pissed at being manhandled and stood, grabbing her bag that sat innocently by her desk and swung it around like a mad woman. "You want to mess with this?!"
"Ack!" Belle chickened out and dashed from the room, slamming the door behind her before yelling "You better be showered, dressed and downstairs in thirty minutes or I'll flush the toilet repeatedly until you get out!"
"Ugh!" Touko breathed heavily and threw her bag at the door.
Then she blinked. Once. Twice. Three times. Belle had successfully gotten her out of bed and actually managed to help Touko emerge some sort of emotion, even if it was downright vile anger. A sensation of gratefulness washed through her, her shoulders sagging in relief. She whispered a quiet thanks to no one in particular before heading to the shower.
She was downstairs five minutes late the set time that was given to her but Belle only smiled encouragingly, coming forwards to give her best friend of hug.
"That is much better."
"Oh, my baby girl," Ms. White babbled and came over to hug her daughter, tears forming in the outer corners of her eyes. "I'm so glad you're not being difficult about this."
"Sorry for worrying you," Touko apologized, feeling bad that she had caused everyone grief and worry once again.
"Hush, hush. Now why don't you go out and have a nice time. Take a break from work."
"Sounds like that's the plan," Touko mumbled and stepped back, scratching her cheek nervously. "What exactly are we doing?"
"You, Cheren, Touya and I are going to the Unova festival held in Undella Town. There is going to be food, drinks and fireworks!"
"Sounds like... fun." She tested the word on her tongue, feeling slightly off for saying it.
"It will be," Belle gave her an amused looked before leading them out of the house and over to Cheren's place.
When he answered, he did not look the least bit surprised that Belle was able to drag their friend out of her house. He stepped aside to give them room to enter before closing the door behind them. "Welcome back to the land of the living."
"Thanks," Touko gave a small smile and headed towards the living room where Belle had already sat herself down beside Touya.
"Hey Touko, good to see you," Touya spoke lowly, as if his usual boisterous voice would frighten her.
"Likewise!" She cheered with enthusiasm just to show how silly he was being. It wasn't like she was going to shatter if he talked loud. He smiled sheepishly.
"Yeah, Touya, don't treat her like a cripple," Belle teased and clasped her hands together and held them to her chest. "Touko, let us go to the festival in kimonos!"
"But wouldn't yukatas be more sensible? It's too hot for a kimono."
"We don't have to wear too many layers. And besides, the yukatas I have are boring."
"Sure, if that is what you want to do."
"Oh no, oh no no no! You have to feel like doing it too, Touko! Don't agree with everything I say just to keep me happy, this is to help you recover. If you really want to go with a yukata then we will. I just thought that with a kimono, there will be colors and wonderful silk. Ah, it's up to you! I will be wearing a kimono, you can wear whatever."
"So it will be alright if I just go with my shorts and t-shirt?"
Belle gawked so pathetically that Touko couldn't help but laughing, truthfully, for the first time in months. The soft tinkling sound made the others perk up hopefully, smiles spreading across their faces.
"W—well if that is what you want, s—sh—su—" Belle just had troubles saying the word.
"Well I suppose a colorful kimono is fit for such an event." Touko's laughs reduced to snickers as her friends face lit up like it was Christmas morning.
Belle ordered both men to clean up nicely for tonight's festival before going over to her house with Touko in tow. They said a quick hello to her parents before going upstairs to the blonde's extremely green and yellow bedroom.
"What kind of colours are you in the mood for?" Belle asked upon opening a closet specially made for kimonos.
"Whatever will bring out my eyes."
"Hmm," Belle hummed thoughtfully, giving a quick glance at her friend before sifting through her collection. "What about this one?"
She held up a light pink kimono with black musical notes printed in random places. Touko tilted her head from side to side, imagining herself in it before shaking her head. "The notes are nice but the pink won't do much for me."
"True," Belle folded the piece up and placed it back in its rightful place before looking through the others. "Aha, this one!" She held it up, revealing a nice shade of grey that faded to blue sakura flowers as it got closer to the bottom.
"That... is beautiful. Why did I never see you wear it?"
"My dad bought it for me for my birthday two years ago. I have worn it twice since then."
'Right. Of course I wouldn't have seen it then.' Touko thought dejectedly and glanced towards the carpeted floor.
"Uhh, but that doesn't matter! I am sure it will suit you much more than it suited me. Honestly, my hips were a tad too huge for this piece." Belle noticed the drop in her friend's attitude and tried to distract her. "Hup, hup! Now get dressed in this with the white and red layers, they should already be set up in the bathroom. The obi will be in the basket on the floor.
Touko took the silk fabric with delicate hands and walked over to the bathroom, closing the door behind her. She was in there for ten minutes before coming out, seeing Belle already dressed in a black kimono with green and blue waves printed in various places. She finished putting her hair up into a lose bun before turning to the other, her eyes bringing out a certain sparkle.
"You look so cute!" The blonde squealed and shuffled on over, grabbing onto the brunette's hand and dragging her out in front of the mirror. "Now stand here and I shall do your hair."
"N—nothing too extravagant," she pleaded and surrendered herself to Belle's ministrations.
Ten minutes later Touko was admiring her side bun. It was simple and a tad elegant. Nothing too flashy and showy, something that won't grab attention. "I love it."
"I knew you would," Belle grinned cheekily and picked up two little matching bags for them to bring to the festival.
After a few minutes of Touko denying she needed make up, even if it was a 'light dusting', they were set off back to Cheren's. Belle was in such a good mood, she didn't even knock and walked right in and saw the two guys sitting on the couch, watching TV. Still in their regular clothes.
"What. Is. This." She bristled, shoulder drawn up and shaking.
"Uh, well, the game—" Touya mumbled incoherently before jumping over the couch and dashing down the hall.
"Don't leave me here you traitor!" Cheren hissed and went after him.
"I swear, if we hadn't come by they probably would have gotten ready at the last minute."
"And here people say that girls take forever to get ready," Touko rolled her eyes and shuffled forward, sitting down on the couch.
"Oh, I have no doubt we could have taken longer to get ready but everyone has been anticipating this event. It is one of the largest ones we have each year."
"That's true," Touko mused, trying to remember the last time she went.
After fifteen minutes both Cheren and Touyo came out of the room, their yukatas a dark blue with horizontal grey lines.
Belle felt her eye twitch. "Why are they wrinkled?"
"Well after I washed and dried them, I never bothered... folding them." Cheren admitted without an ounce a shame.
"That's funny, because the last time I remember you two wearing these, was over a year ago."
"That's correct, give a gold star to the observant one," Cheren's tone was monotone at best and he gave a mock bow to add salt to the wound.
"Don't be a jerk, man," Touya punched his friend's shoulder none too lightly and walked over to his girlfriend. "Sorry about him."
"Hmph," Belle stuck her tongue out at Cheren and slipped her hand into Touya's waiting one. "Just bring yours to my house when you're done, I'll take care of it."
"I know you will," he smiled and looked her up and down appreciatively.
"Please, I haven't even begun drinking yet, I can't vomit now," Cheren sighed and walked to the door, putting on his sandals.
"Puh-lease," Belle drawled, placing her free hand firmly on her hip. "As if your 'habits' with a certain gym leader isn't any worse than ours. Seeing you two with color coordinated outfits nearly makes me gag every time."
"That's—" Cheren flushed, finally looking embarrassed.
"Cheren, you're going out with someone?" Touko asked, eyes wide and blinking. "Since when?"
"Since... A while." He mumbled looking away.
Touko felt a small pang of guilt and pain mixed together. So he has been in a relationship between the time she was captured and planning to bring Plasma down. She never noticed because he requested to stay at another base that was located closely to a certain gym leader... It had been months since the downfall and only now she was hearing about this?
"Touko," Belle murmured, releasing Touya's hand and walking over to her friend, taking her own and giving them a small squeeze. "It's alright if you didn't know, it was not like he broadcasted it to all of the region."
"Yeah, but I'm one of the best friends, right?" Touko sniffed, trying to keep the tears at bay. "I was just too absorbed in myself. Forgive me."
Belle tilted her head to the side, frowning. She knew nothing she would say could cheer her friend up now, because no one would be happy with missing a part of their friend's life. "Okay, let's head to the festival and cheer up a bit. I'm in the mood for cotton candy."
Touko offered to fly them there on Zekrom, considering if they take the boat it would take two hours at best. With her Pokemon it would take as little as forty-five minutes. The name of her Pokemon felt odd on her tongue, she rarely called any of her little friends from their pokeballs since the battle because of mixed feelings.
During the fly there Belle could not help 'ooh'-ing and 'ahh'-ing, Cheren actually began to study Zekrom's form and Touya was doing his best not to look down. Touko watched Zekrom glance back at her a few times, as if studying her. She wouldn't be surprised if the legendary Pokemon knew how she was feeling.
When they landed on the outskirts of town, Touya scrambled down and helped both Belle and Touko as well but left Cheren to fend for himself. After his cursing and everybody's laughter subsided, Touko brought out her masterball and called back Zekrom, but not before missing the piercing look it sent her.
She swallowed thickly, minimizing the ball and placing it in her obi. "L—let's head in," she suggested, glad her friends missed the quiver in her voice.
The sky was dark by now, lanterns and coloured bulbs now lighting up Undella Town. Traditional huts were set up along the streets, each filled with different foods, both local and foreign, and game booths placed side by side near the end of the street. It looked as if hundreds of people came out for the event, many wearing traditional yukatas, kimonos and regular clothing.
Cheren had slipped away in favor to find his girlfriend, promising to meet up before the fireworks began. Belle dragged the three of them to the first food booth she saw and ordered three squids on a stick. After Touya paid, she handed one to him and Touko before nibbling on her own, a satisfied groan leaving her mouth.
"I've been dying for festival food!"
"Why pay for something so overpriced when you can buy the same thing from the super market, at a much cheaper price?" Touya questioned, also taking a bite in his food.
"Because everything tastes ten times better when someone makes it, especially if it is being sold at a festival," Belle reasoned before grabbing his hand, leading them to a random game booth.
Touko ate her squid in silence, watching the joint hands of her friends and couldn't help but feel like the third wheel. She knew that was not their intent, they wanted to include her in their activities, but she couldn't help but feel like she was intruding.
She stayed with them for two more game booths before declaring to check out the rest of the festival at her own pace. Belle had frowned and looked ready to protest but she felt Touya's hand gripping her shoulder, giving it a small squeeze and a small shake of his head.
Touko was glad he still knew how to read her, knew when to leave her alone, because she did not want to explain why she had to get away from them. After sending him a grateful smile she went her own way down another street.
There weren't as many people down this way because there wasn't as many booths as there were on the main street but Touko did not mind, it was getting a bit stifling with so many people around. She stopped at a hut that sold handmade bracelets made from the unique rocks that littered the beaches here and bought a white one with two small black dots on either side.
"Come get your unique cotton candy here! Four different flavors with many color combinations!" A voice sang out enthusiastically and it caused Touko to step backwards uncertainly.
She recognized this voice. She had not heard it for a long time but deep down she knew who it belonged to. She swirled around to find the location of that voice and finally spotted the owner at the very end of the street. A couple went up to the booth, looking at the sign which showed what they had to offer but when they noticed who was selling, they sneered and left.
Anthea frowned dejectedly and sighed. She sat down on a seat, her hands resting in her lap. "Your turn Concordia."
"Very well," the ex-goddess stood, inhaled deeply and plastered a wide fake smile on her face before speaking in a booming voice, "Our cotton candy will disappear from your hands in moments and you'll be begging for seconds!"
'What the hell,' Touko thought with furrowed brows, completely confused. She stormed up to the booth, surprising both women. "Selling cotton candy? Really, that's what you're doing?"
"Miss Touko!" Both Concordia and Anthea exclaimed, surprised at seeing the younger woman.
"Yeah, it's me. But you two, cotton candy? What?"
"It is very hard to sell when people see you as a criminal," Concordia admitted sheepishly, a light pink dusting her cheeks.
"Wha—, no, why? I don't understand."
"You are confused," Concordia observed and gave a halfhearted shrug. "Long story short, we had to retell our story from the beginning. Orphans, Ghetsis took us in and it spiraled down from there. They concluded we were brainwashed and we got off with five years parole."
"Oh," Touko blushed, thinking it was something much more complicated. "Sorry for freaking out. I just didn't know what happened to you two after all that happened and there was nothing in the news. I assumed they locked you up or shipped you out of the region."
"No, but maybe those options would have been better. We do community work under heavy supervision and people are very cruel. I don't mind the snide remarks but when they get as physical as throwing rocks... " Anthea admitted sadly, looking at her once soft hands, now dry and rough.
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"Enough about us," Concordia forced a smile and smoothed out the bright orange overalls they were forced to wear. "How have you been doing?"
"Could be worse."
"Yeah?" The ex-goddess gave a sad smile and began making a green flower cotton candy after the brunette pointed out the option on the menu. "Have you been visiting N?"
Touko froze, her hand clenching onto the coins in her hands. She had to look away in guilt at the look both women sent her.
"Touko," Anthea spoke softly in an accusing tone. "Why not?"
"I'm just not— I can't."
"It's like he is rotting to death in that place, he is not eating again and this time we can't aid him. Not even Officer Jenny will help. They believe he is better off dead and gone."
"What?" Touko whispered, eyes wide. "They aren't giving him anything?"
"They bring the worse kind of food possible to his cell but he refuses to eat anything. They don't force or help, they have brought Nurse Joy multiple times to feed him through tubes but they are requesting her less and less."
"That is barbaric, they can't do that!"
"But they can and will continue to do so. I thought this whole time you were visiting and still could not get through to him. If you visit, you might be able to bring him out of his shell." Concordia spoke in a hopeful voice, her eyes shining with unshed tears.
"I just can't do that, he's in for life! Seeing each other through prison bars isn't healthy, for either of us. I doubt I can change anything because he is done for! He's going to die in that cell whether we like it or not and I can't do a damned thing, so stop asking me to do the impossible!" She slammed her money down on the counter and took her unfinished cotton candy before storming back to the main.
No matter how furiously she chewed on her loaded candy she could not get the shocked and hopeless looks off their faces. They were giving her too much credit for something that could not be done, they should not be surprised by her angry outburst. It was too much pressure, she couldn't handle it.
"Hey Touko, there you... Are you okay?" Belle came up beside the brunette her brows furrowing in worry. "You got a pretty fierce look on your face, you look ready to kick ass."
"S—sorry, I just met Anthea and Concordia."
"Oh," Belle blinked, looking quite surprised as Touko felt. "I thought they got locked up."
"Ah. Did they say something that upset you?"
"Well, let's head this way with everyone else, the fireworks are going to start soon. Touya and Cheren are already saving a great spot for us." Belle took a hold of Touko's hand and dragged her to the supposed superb spot.
They stopped beside a large palm tree and that is where Belle let go of Touko, and stood beside Touya, wrapping her arm around his hip.
Touko let out a heavy sigh and looked around, seeing Cheren standing away from the group with a gym leader who looked familiar but she could not place her name. She stepped a few feet away from the couple to give them space and looked into the starry sky.
Minutes later bright fireworks went off with loud cracks. Touko became mesmerized by the beautiful designs the coordinators of the festival planned out, bringing beautiful image after image. A slow smile spread on her lips, momentarily forgetting her surroundings.
Touko looked to her side, "Hey, you seeing this... N..." She inhaled sharply and wished she could slap herself without looking crazy.
How could she forget so soon? Was she so easily enraptured by fireworks that she completely forgotten her whole situation? Perhaps fireworks were a therapy of some sort, it could make anyone smile when they didn't want to. But she just... How could...
Tears spilled down her face against her will, no amount of sniffling could hold them back any longer. She cried freely because she knew no one could hear her with the fireworks going on, but she could definitely feel Belle's stare. Still she bawled freely, releasing the pent up stress that she had bottled up inside herself. It was unhealthy to hold them in for so long and now she was paying the price.
She cried until the fireworks stopped twenty minutes later. After that she wiped her eyes with her hands and turned to Belle. "Can you guys get home by yourself? There is somewhere I need to go."
"Of course," Belle smiled supportively, knowing exactly where Touko was heading to.
"Thanks," Touko whispered and ran as best as she could in wooden sandals.
Upon reaching the outskirts of town, Touko took her masterball from her obi and called forth Zekrom. After a quick flash, the huge dragon looked down at it's trainer, scanning her stature and emotions. It felt a different energy wave, something strong unlike the weak link earlier. It was satisfied and leaned low enough for her to get on.
"Get to Castelia City." Touko ordered, clinging on tightly when Zekrom took off the ground roughly. It flew faster than it did with its other guests on his back.
They made it to the capital of Unova in record time since the large Pokemon did not have to mind extra cargo. They gave couples near heart attacks upon landing on the pier before Touko called Zekrom back to his ball and began to jog towards the jail. It was difficult because of the wooden sandals and she was half tempted to kick them off but it would not look good.
She entered a crisp white building ten minutes later,caught between panting and gagging, due to being out of breath and the strong cleaning chemicals used there. She tried opening the set of doors inside but found them to be locked. Frowning, she bent a little low to read the sign on the door.
"Visiting hours are from eight in the morning till eleven in the morning and two-thirty in the afternoon till six in the evening."
Touko huffed rather loudly, and pressed the white button on the wall beside a speaker. There was no way she could wait until morning to see him, she would no doubt lose her nerve so it was now or never.
"Good evening, this is Officer Jenny. If you are here to visit a prisoner, I am sorry to say that visiting hours are over and will ask you to return in the morning at the appropriate hours."
"I can't wait that long, I need to see someone right now."
"I am sorry miss, but that is impossible. Please remove yourself from the site and return in the morning."
Touko inhaled deeply and looked directly into the upper corner of the room where the security stared directly at her. "My name is Touko White, hero of Unova, and I demand to see a prisoner right now."
A noise of surprise came from the speaker and a couple seconds later a loud buzzing noise sounded throughout the small room. Touko quickly opened the heavy door and stepped through. An Officer Jenny was instantly at her side, patting her down.
"Miss White, I'll have to hold onto that pokeball of yours," the older woman spoke stiffly, obviously not used to be given orders by anyone else but her sisters.
Touko removed the pokeball from her obi and handed it off to one of many officers and followed her down the white sterile hallway. "I won't be staying long," she promised, already feeling bad for using her title of 'hero' to gain what she wanted.
"It is not much of a problem," Jenny lied smoothly with a wave of her hand, but the discomfort was clearly written on her face and the way she held herself. "Which prisoner did you want to see at this time of night?"
Officer Jenny stopped walking, frozen momentarily before whipping around, a furious expression on her face. "You wish to see that... that... that person who brought pain to all of Unova? Especially to you?"
"Have you been drinking tonight, Miss? Taking something illegal?" Officer Jenny pulled a small flashlight from her belt, switching it on and flashing it into the younger woman's eyes. "Be honest."
"I am being honest," Touko sighed, clenching her hands within her long kimono sleeves to hide how much the other's actions bothered her. "I just want to talk with him."
Officer Jenny stared hard and Touko swore she could hear teeth grinding. "Fine. But you only get ten minutes. After that I will have to ask you to leave the building and not to return until regular visiting hours."
"Ten minutes is good," Touko smiled, feeling relief washing through her.
They went through a series of doors, all which required a card swipe or finger prints or sometimes both just to be opened. When Touko thought they would never reach his cell, she was suddenly halted. They had stopped in a dark and dingy place, a single lightbulb barely lighting the whole area and flickering, showing it was going to die at any moment.
"Get up Mr. Harmonia. It's your lucky day, you have a guest," Officer Jenny could barely contain the sneer within her voice and brought out her baton to bang on the bars. N showed no movement and she shrugged. "He's all yours. Ten minutes." And with that, she left, closing the heavy door behind her and watching from the other side.
Touko could not take her eyes off the skeletal frame behind the bars. He was leaning against the wall, eyes closed and shivers were wracking his body. Although there was a tattered blanket in there, he had it placed far away from him as possible. There was also a flimsy pillow, a lumpy mattress and a stainless steel toilet connected with a water fountain in the cell.
"N?" She whispered, afraid that if she spoke louder, he would shatter.
He visibly twitched at the sound of her voice, but made no other movement to acknowledge her being there.
"N," she spoke louder and shuffled closer to the prison bars. "It's me, Touko. Can you look at me, please?"
She held her breath, watching the battle from the emotions in his eyes. He finally looked at her but showed no signs of happiness, relief or grief. Just utter defeat. It made her gut clench.
"I don't have much time, Officer Jenny was insistent on that, so I'll try to make this quick." He said nothing and she felt a little spooked with his now vacant eyes focused on her but swallowed and surged forward. "I'm sorry I have not visited you since you landed in here. I was acting rather cowardly about it, making myself busy every day, pushing myself not to think while you were in here and have nothing to do but think. If I had stopped by for regular visits then maybe none of this would have happened," she gesture to his thin frame.
N only continued to stare at her and Touko wondered if she was getting through to him or perhaps he had already gone lucid and delirious. She sighed and squatted down to his level, feeling a small spark of hope when his eyes followed her. She reached her hand through the cell, holding it out to him but all he did was stare at it for a couple seconds before looking back up at her face.
"Why won't you eat?" She blurted out, unable to keep her voice stable any longer. It was as if he was really dead on the inside and the outside was only functioning because it had to. "Please talk to me."
"..." He said nothing and she choked back a sob.
"I ran into Anthea and Concordia at the festival today. This whole time they thought I was visiting you and were rather upset when they found out I wasn't. Then when I was watching the fireworks, I looked at my side, expecting to see you but you weren't there."
A spark, so small she almost missed it, flashed within his eyes. An unknown emotion.
"And I felt horrible for neglecting to visit you. I just didn't think anything would come from it, y'know? You are in for life and seeing you like this is complete torture. It hurts, right here," she placed a hand over her heart and clenched onto the silk material. "And it throbs so painfully, almost to the point where I think I won't be able to breath again."
He had now lifted his head, with a bit of trouble due to undernourishment, his eyes a bit more alive than when she first entered there.
"As idiotic and crazy as it sounds, I still want to be by your side, I need to be. But as equals, no glass walls, no social status, no ranks standing between us. You may not be my first love but I feel so much more for you than I did for Touya. There is no way I can forget about you... You are it for me." She practically hissed, grabbing the bars to support herself so she did not fall because her legs were shaking so bad.
"Fool," he finally spoke, whispered, his voice raspy due to the lack of use of it. The word was cruel but it almost sounded between lovingly and a scold. His eyes glistened with unshed tear and green brows furrowed, as if he could not understand why someone would stick with him for so long after all that he had done. He had done nothing but inflict pain onto others, emotionally.
"N," Touko sighed, beyond happy to hear his voice."I know it may be impossible now but I will get you out of here." His eyes darkened in disbelief. "Hey, I'm a 'hero' now, y'know. I have my ways."
He looked away and she felt bad for reminding him of the past but gave her head a small shake. She didn't have time to dawdle over that issue anymore.
"I don't know exactly how long, but—"
"Time's up Miss White. You have to leave. Now." Officer Jenny stepped into the room and spoke loudly with a rude tone.
"You leave!" N hissed at her, baring his teeth at the older woman.
Officer Jenny stumbled back in surprise at the new change in his behavior and glanced between the two of them suspiciously.
"N, eat and drink lots of water, okay?" Touko order sternly, a hand placed firmly on her hip. "I don't want to date a guy who is skinnier than me," She teased light heartily and gave him a kind, reassuring smile before leaving him with one last advice. "Be good."
After that night, Touko flew back home and began planning her strategy. If she was going to get him out of there without too much struggle, she would need the help of her friends. No doubt they would crown her crazy and threaten to send her to the loony bin, but she knew that they would stand by her decision, no matter how crazy it sounded.
She did not strip out of the kimono until the early morning, hanging it up to remind herself to wash it before giving it back to Belle. With one last loud yawn, she crawled into bed and got the much deserved sleep she needed. And for the first time in months, she drifted into a peaceful sleep.
Touko did not awaken until the afternoon, stretching with a pleasant smile on her face. It was a brand new day, although half over, it was a perfect time to put her plan into motion. She may not have realized it before, but when the gym leaders and other trainers had her help out with charities they were using it to help distract her and the power she had over them. Now she was going to calculate everything she did. She was going to work twice as hard to gain favors and hope it payed off in the end.
She would work until she sweated and cried bloodied tears. When enough time passed, she would present her proposition to release N and use her charity work as leverage. It may be playing dirty on her behalf but the others were equally as guilty for not telling her how much her 'hero' status mattered in Unova, heck, she did not know herself until she was granted access to N's cell. She thought the whole 'I'm the hero of Unova' bluff would fail, but thankfully that was not the case.
When Touko met with her small group of friends later that day, she told them of her plan. Each gave their own opinion and thoughts. Belle was all for the idea, believing true love can conquer all. Touya still had some doubts about N being stable and still believed he should not be released, at least for a couple more years. Cheren just stared silently for long moments before releasing a huge sigh, and said that he knew that his opinion would not change her mind so it was useless to say anything but he would still support her like a true friend should.
It went better than expected and Touko felt more empowered with her friends ready to stand by her side.
Her plans were really simple. She would work herself to the bone while helping in charities but this time she would do it with a cheerful attitude and do a hundred and ten percent better than before. She even thought of coming up with some of her own with subtle hints to feel compassion to those in Plasma, hoping some people would realize that a couple members didn't know any better, or perhaps believed they were brainwashed.
Belle offered to spread the news of when she would host such charity events, assured her bubbly attitude would bring a good crowd. Cheren said that he most likely wouldn't get any help from the gym leaders, including his girlfriend because of their dislike towards N, but he said he'll be able to find information for convincing, and truthful speeches for her to read. Touya declared he would track down the ex-goddesses and convince their parole officer to come to every single one of their events, in hopes of bringing down their hours quicker, as well as showing Unova that they are not bad people.
Touko was completely dumbfounded when they came forward with all this minutes after she told them about her master plan, there was nothing left for her to do! She thought about visiting N and explaining what she was going to do but thought it was best not to. If word got around she was frequently visiting him then it would do the plan no good. People would believe she was totally incapable of moving on and whatever their wild imaginations could come up with.
If Unova was fond of anything, it was festivals. Most of the region loved getting together to enjoying a fun themed time. Belle said that because it is almost fall time, they should have a gardening tour within two weeks and a pumpkin festival a week before winter comes.
"We can gather some of your mom's flowers, Touko," Belle explained while Cheren quickly yet neatly jotted down the plan. "because she has some beautiful imported plants, as well as some of the flowers Unova is famous for. If we can get enough people to donate, we will be able to make a huge beautiful garden for viewing. Flowers are for pleasure viewing and can have a pretty calming effect on the soul. That is exactly what Unova needs."
"And a pumpkin festival?" Touko asked, looking over Cheren's shoulder at the details of the gardening tour. He set it aside after he was done and got a new sheet out.
"We can have a pumpkin contest! The biggest and best pumpkin crop wins, and the prize will be... A kiss from you!"
"What?!" Touko all but shrieked, her cheeks flushing. "Are you insane?"
"Possibly," Belle muttered seriously. "I honestly have no idea what to give for a prize."
"We didn't think that far ahead," Touya admitted sheepishly and gave his chin a nervous scratch.
"We can always buy two day pass tickets for the amusement park in Nimbasa City," Cheren suggested, pen tapping against his cheek.
"That! Let's do that!" Belle bounced excitedly in her seat and continued talking.
She talked about other ideas to do during the pumpkin festival, stuff like bottom for apricorns, story telling for the kids, some light ale for the adults.
Touko became just as enthusiastic as Belle when everything started to come together. It will prove to be extremely hard work once they put everything into motion and there will be no doubt that this sort of plan won't take less than a month, possibly up to four months or more, but she will see it to the end. She would do anything at this point to see N again, except outside, and standing in the the warm sun.
Touko sighed tiredly, feeling as if she would pass out any moment. It had been six months since she and her friends planned multiple events, a few of the first ones not being very successful, mainly due to the presence of two ex-goddesses.
Upon seeing them, people immediately left the charity, demanding their refunds and claiming they will never come to another one of theirs due to their 'evil supporting' habits. A few others had picked to ignore Anthea and Concordia and continue about their business about the fundraiser but it was clear their moods diminished a significant percent.
During another festival they held in the winter, Concordia and Anthea were selling hot chocolate mixed with either caramel, mint or mocha, topped with whip cream and cocoa shavings. When it appeared that their services were once again being denied by the public, Belle marched up to the stall and asked for hot chocolate mocha.
When she received the drink, she took three huge gulps and held back from panting and wailing at the hotness of it, and instead yelled out, "Hot DAMN! That's some good hot chocolate!" And ran behind a stall while pretending to take sips.
The people who witnessed the strange event gave each other curious looks but they still did not approach the stall and hovered around instead, waiting for others to make a move.
After a couple of minutes of watching this painful scene, Touko went ahead and got herself a hot chocolate mint drink. The ex-goddesses gave her wry smiles, thankful that she was trying to help them out.
She blew onto her drink, hoping to cool it down quickly enough, before taking a healthy sip. Her eyes widened and she looked at the two older woman. "Wow, this is really good. I think I'll come back for seconds later," and walked to the stall Belle was currently hiding behind, who was now using snow to nurse her burnt tongue.
Touko peeked out and was surprised yet happy when she saw people cautiously approach the small stand. She watched their expressions after taking a sip of their drink and was glad to see that they clearly enjoyed what they bought. Soon enough Anthea and Concordia's stall had the best selling items of the festival. Some people even approached her and begged for them to come to the next one they had planned.
"Touko, you can use this to your advantage," Cheren appeared beside her, holding his own hot chocolate mocha. "Because you are Unova's hero, they will look to you for reassurance and guidance. You have to set an example for their feeble minds." He took a healthy sip.
"Cheren, don't call them feeble," Touko frowned but could understand completely.
"A lot of people will just follow the leader without asking questions. The ones who will ask questions are experienced and older trainers. The younger ones are more impressionable. Citizens are just the same. No matter if it is cruel or not, it is all true."
"I know," she sighed and peeked around the booth again, her frazzled nerves settling down upon spotting Anthea's and Concordia's delightful smiles.
And everything could go her way.
Five months later, Touko and her friends had established a somewhat good standing for ex-Plasma members and the ex-goddesses. Their charities raked in more than they planned, including donations over seas, and it helped tremendously rebuild Unova much quicker.
The gym leaders were a little put off with her for not being invited to help host the events but were allowed to come as guests, it made them suspicious. There was one exception, Lenora, who Touko invited personally on many occasions because she felt the older woman would understand and have more compassion than the others.
One summer morning Touko approached Mayor Biggie and basked in his nervous image when he spotted her coming into his office. He began to sweat badly and dabbed his forehead a couple times with a handkerchief, swallowing thickly and flipping through a few papers in front of him. He never bothered reading his documents before a meeting because he was full of confidence that everything will work out his way, but he didn't expect he would be meeting her at any time.
When his eyes finally focused on the words in front of him, his face quickly left the ash white zone and escalated to red and soon after, purple. "This is absolutely ridiculous! There is no way I'll grant this!" Biggie wheezed and grabbed one of two stamps on his desk, slamming it into the ink before onto the paper, reading 'DENIED', and shoved it over to her.
"I thought you might feel that way," Touko nodded, a tad shaken up but knew this would happen. She pulled out another copy of the same set of papers and replaced it with the denied copy. "So I was hoping you would actually read through all of them before so recklessly deciding to deny my request."
"That man is a complete monster, messed up beyond repair! And you want to grant my permission to release him, hah!" He laughed mirthlessly and grabbed his denied stamp again, aiming for the new papers but missed all together when Touko pulled them out of his way.
"I didn't print many copies so please be careful how you handle your weapon," Touko frowned at his poor behavior.
"You, my child, are asking for something so far fetched, everyone in Unova will think you have truly lost it. Yes, it is nice you host events and help bring the region closer together, but it can only take you so far. I refuse to read through a child's fantasy," he motioned towards the papers and leaned back in his seat, watching her with cold eyes.
"I knew you would not take it all well, but I thought, as Mayor, you would treat everyone equally and without such loathing. I expect a proper Mayor to show kindness during these times and hold no grudges or ill feelings towards others because they are suppose to represent the people. And you are foolishly assuming the people want things your way."
"Now listen here, girlie—"
"No, I won't," she hissed, nails digging into the arms of the chair. "I have been around the people these past months more than you have and they are showing great kindness to the ex-Plasma members, the ones who changed their ways. Some are even saying that others should be released if they no longer believe in Pokemon liberation."
"I have no doubt that more than five percent of Unova want Plasma's king roaming the street," Bigger sneered, hands curling into a fist.
"That may be so, but if they get wind of me, Unova's Hero, standing beside him and showing him a different path from the one he was brainwashed on, I'm sure they would be more understanding."
"I still think—"
"That is your own personal opinion, Mayor Biggie, and you may think it is for the best, but that still does not give you the right to decide without at least some feedback from the people. Besides, you're holding a grudge against the wrong man. N was not the one who took Mewtwo away from you."
Biggie seethed silently at her words and looked down at the innocent papers in front of him and felt his shoulders sag in defeat. He spent the next hour going over each and every single paper slowly, re-reading and evaluating, trying to look for any loopholes yet finding none.
With a tired sigh, he pulled open a drawer from his desk and pulled out a stamp he rarely used. After dipping it in ink and stamping the papers, Touko was happy to say she was now in the 'PENDING' motion.
. . .
Touko wrung her hands nervously together. A week after Mayor Biggie stamped her movement, he went out and made a huge announcement about it and tried many ways to say how bad exactly this idea was. But people questioned him, which was unlikely before. They had seen the ex-Plasmas' behavior, how they changed, and questioned the possibility of their king changing too.
The Mayor could not believe what was happening around him. The people of Unova always loved and believed in him, putting their trust and faith in his decisions but here they were questioning his motives. He thought for sure they would agree with him and beg to keep the so called Plasma king locked up for life. His eyes sought out familiar brown ones and held back a scowl at her smug appearance.
She was completely relaxed, arms crossed and leaning against one of Castelia's buildings. She had the air of confidence but inside she was trembling with fear and hope. Months of fundraising and events, hard work and sweat, were finally paying off.
In the end, the status went from 'PENDING' to 'APPROVED'. Part of the sweet deal was to have Anthea and Concordia off parole in a few months.
Now she was standing outside Unova's prison, awaiting for his release in a couple minutes. There was a big crowd behind, held back by Officer Jennys but she, along with a few reporters, were inside the ring they created. She watched them chat among themselves while their assistants toyed with expensive cameras, tweaking the settings for the perfect exposure.
After the minutes seem to drag on and on, heavy doors finally opened and N Harmonia was a free man. He walked outside in a large white dress shirt and brown slacks. His hair had grown longer and more unruly than the last time the public had seen him and he looked awfully skinny but there was a healthy glow to his skin, showing that he was improving.
'Well, it doesn't look like his spirit was truly broken,' was Touko's last coherent thought before vivid green eyes landed on her. She held her breath, watching raw emotions flutter in those eyes, feeling her own chest tighten. She never thought of the possibility of him losing interest in her. But even if he did, she loved him too much to have him be kept behind bars.
He walked towards her with measured steps, looking almost at ease, but the tense and awkward way his arms swayed at his side betrayed that. He ignored all the reporters shouting questions in his face and the multiple flashes in his eyes.
When he finally reached her, he only stood there, watching down the slope of his nose. She could see his mouth moving and thought that he was probably grinding his teeth or trying to figure out what to say. When he finally did open his mouth, he spoke with a confident, strong voice.
"I won't be able to fit into your pants anymore."
Touko could no longer hold herself back and lunged forward, wrapping her arms around slender shoulders, bringing him into a tight embrace and into a fire searing kiss.
. . .
An hour later, after N was forced to answer questions for the paparazzi because Touko convinced him it would do his image good to have the people of Unova on his side, they were standing in front of her house.
N did not understand why they could not just go somewhere to be alone but Touko had assured him that they needed to get this over and done with as soon as possible so it would not come to bite them in the ass later.
Taking a deep breath, Touko opened the door and felt slightly worried that all pairs of eyes were rested on her companion and not her.
"So, we saw the news," Belle chirped, her fingers tapping the couch in a rhythmic motion. "It was very interesting."
Touko felt her face flame and N's hands tightening around hers nervously.
"Aside from that," Cheren sent Belle a 'are you serious' look before giving the couple his attention. "I thought it was very well executed. For the people. But as for us... "
"We think you may have to prove yourself and that may take awhile," Touya finished, giving his knuckles a good cracking but winced right after.
"Very cool, man," Cheren deadpanned, giving his other friend the same look he gave Belle.
"I will prove to you all my worth, no matter how long it takes."
"That will take a while," Belle pointed out, a single blond brow raised in challenge.
"I have time," N inclined his head to her, accepting the challenge.
"We will be the biggest cock block, just so you know," Cheren mused loudly.
"Language," Ms. White scolded the grown man, happy he had the decency to blush and feel embarrassed. "Mr. N Harmonia, I do not appreciate what you have done to my daughter these past few years."
"I understand and I am sincerely sorry for the pain I have caused."
"It will take much longer to convince me otherwise. If it was up to me, you would not be within a hundred meters of my baby. But she is old enough to decide what she wants and wise enough to think for what's best for her. So I will watch for now and observe how authentic you are as a changed person. Hurt her in any way and you will be booted off my property, is that clear?"
"Good. Now," Ms. White exhaled loudly and headed towards the kitchen. "I'll be making some stew and bannock. You are all welcome to stay and eat."
"Thank you Ms. White."
Belle, Touya and Cheren turned towards the television and continued watching the news.
Touko released a breath she did not know she was holding and brought N up the stairs and into her room.
"I want that door left open, Miss Touko White! I don't want any funny business going on under my roof."
"Okay, mom!" Touko shouted back and rolled her eyes but left the door wide open.
She brought N over to her bed and sat down. He stood, looking around her room, taking in the computer, stuffed animals and stacks of paper on her desk. Few pictures hung on crème beige walls, leaving the room feeling simple yet homely. He finally sat down but kept his back rim rod straight.
"There is no need to be stiff," Touko said, giving him a worried glance.
"That all went better than expected. I thought I wouldn't be able to step through the door," N admitted, brows furrowed.
"They probably would have if I didn't talk to them before hand."
"I should have expected."
"Hey," Touko frowned at his down cast gaze. "Not everyone is going to support... us," she motioned between them with her index finger. "Some will probably out right refuse, but the best we can do is hold ourselves up and prove them wrong."
"I suppose," he mumbled and she was glad to see him finally relaxing. "Are you sure you want this?"
"Positive. I worked way too hard, N, don't start questioning it."
"I thought for sure you would have moved on after I got locked up."
"I couldn't," she whispered, her own eyes dropping to the ground. "I tried to keep busy but it was impossible to stop thinking of you entirely."
"I won't give up then," he suddenly declared, his hands gripping onto his knees so tight, they began to turn white. "I will prove to you every day that you deserve more than me, better."
"Oh, N," Touko sighed and hugged him from the side. "I already know, there is no need to prove yourself. I actually thought you would lose interest in me."
"That would never happen."
"Same goes for me." She leaned over to kiss his cheek before forcing him to lay on the bed. He tried getting up but she tightened her grip. "I just want to hold you, to know you're here, in my home, in my arms."
He held still for a couple seconds before turning on his side to face her, his own arms wrapping around her. He brought her flush against him and nuzzled his nose into her hair. "You assure me so many times but I still feel unworthy. I still feel like you should have just left me to rot in the cell, do onto me what I did onto you but much worse. I don't deserve any of this."
Touko clenched her eyes shut and held back the tears. She knew it would take a long while to get N out of this state of worthlessness, it would probably take years to patch up these fresh scars, but it was worth it for the man she loved. She would prove to him time and time again that he is no mistake for her and she would help him accept that they match perfectly together.
She would reintroduce him to the world, but under a new light, a healthier perspective. He would probably frown upon a lot of things but knew he would see sense in most.
"It won't be easy, I know that, but I will push until you can see how much I truly love you," Touko whispered in his ear, placing a light kiss on his lobe.
"It is hard to believe now, I know. But all I'm asking is for you to trust me. Trust will help us along. Love will make us stronger. We only need each other, N. It's us against the world."
He pursed his lips, looking like he wanted to argue but thought better of it, her words running through his mind. If he argued now, it would prove that he was giving up before the fight started. Did he have such little hope in this relationship? Yes. But when he looked into her eyes, blazing with determination and a glimmer of fear, he realized that she could not do this alone. She needed his cooperation. She needed him to make this team. She needed him.
"I'll… try," he finally whispered, forgetting how to breathe when she gave him one of her smiles. He hadn't seen them for such a long time. And he was the cause of it. The hope in his heart swelled.
"You're off to a great start." She leaned forward to give him a proper kiss, delighted he responded, even if a bit timidly.
This relationship would take time, work and effort. It was far from perfect but it was miles away from disaster. But it would all be worth it because they are and will continue to be happy. They would face their ups and downs, plenty of those, but they had each other to get through the tough times. Even when they have proved themselves, some would still disapprove and would never change their mind. It was fine with them, they couldn't make everyone happy, they learned that personally.
The walk through Eden was tempting, delicious, cruel, and devastating, but the two people who ventured through came out with various scars, a few unable to heal, but they came out together. As long as they have love and each other, they can do anything, even show the world that miracles can happen.
. . .
A/N: WHAAAAAT. I'm crying.
What a bumpy, angsty ride! It's finally over. I thank every single reader, reviewer and even the people who read one chapter and dropped the story! You guys stayed with me till the end, encouraged and nudged me along. There were up's and down's but everything worked well out in the end. Everything went better thn expected! It is a blessing to have such support and understanding from the people who took the time to leave little uplifting reviews.
But most of all, I must thank ALL my beta's, which was probably around 5 LOL. I would get one, then lose one, get one, lose one... But finally two brave souls stepped forward, Blackrose105 and SaitoKeita from DeviantArt, and went straight into battle with my horrible typos and tense and all that. Without them, the last 15+ chapters would have been total shit. I love you guys. So much.
Eden at first was "just a story", but now I have grown attached to Ferriswheelshipping and plan on writing more. Hopefully within a month I will have possibly three or four first chapter samples of different stories I have been working on, up on my DeviantArt Journal.
I hope everyone enjoyed reading Eden and continue to enjoy other works I will post up. C:
I LOVE EVERYONE SO MUCH. -sob-