I'm not sure what to say here since I like to at least say something at the end of a story. Just that, thank you, you wonderful reviewers. I sank a lot of personal problems into this, and usually wrote when I was depressed, but writing is one of the few things that make me genuinely happy once I finish something. Thank you for reading this far, but it's time to wrap it up. I haven't written a lengthy fic in awhile, so this feels a little strange. This fic was supposed to be a oneshot, but look how it ended up.
Anyway, thank you the ones of you that stuck with me this far. It's time to give N the ending he deserves.
When they came for him, when they bent down to him where he was curled into a corner, the spot that had become 'home' of sorts for him, when they touched him, and he lifted his face to meet theirs, N knew it couldn't be real. Their touches were tangible, he could feel her nails, his palms, he could smell the shampoo they bathed with. It couldn't be real. When they spoke, he wanted to cry.
"We're taking you home."
Home. Home was always a dreary sort of term for him when he thought about it. N's 'home' was his room. Or it had been for his entire life anyway. Home was a word that reminded him he was trapped; there was little hope he had. Home meant prison, never a place of love.
White and Black were hope. They looked so much older, but he still recognized them. Honestly, he didn't remember much of what happened after they came to him, but he did remember their faces. Horror, sadness, a tornado of emotions. He remembered White beginning to cry, Black looking away from him, maybe holding back tears of his own. N didn't know.
It hurt to stand. They had to grip his arms on both sides to help him off the floor, letting him lean onto them for support. It was hard work since he was so much taller than either of them, but it helped.
N's memory had been shot after that. There were only bits and pieces of what he remembered. There was one thing, something about the police being involved, but N couldn't remember. Nor did he want to. All he could think of, or tried to think of, was that everything was over. It felt like a dream. He had to continue to pinch himself, he had to grab White's arm, Black's wrist, to make sure they were still there, that he was still awake.
They both turned to him once they were outside of the castle, into the cold of winter, N shivering from what little clothing he was given, and they both clung to him like he would blow away in the wind. He wrapped both arms around them, around their small bodies, and pulled them to him, crying.
Black spoke next. "It's over."
Then White. "He won't hurt you anymore."
N could not speak, even if he wanted to. Everything was so surreal, he still felt he was dreaming and would wake up, back in his father's room, back in the corner he was so used to, back to the way everything had always been.
He wanted to tell them thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. He wanted to pour everything out to them, about what had happened to him, he wanted to tell them please, keep him safe. He didn't care if it was pathetic of him. N had been beaten so low into himself, he didn't care anymore.
So he clung onto them, crying, his mind not comprehending anything else other than everything was finally over, that they had saved him.
He was free.
Waking up was something strange. When N opened his eyes, rubbing the sleep from them to stare up at the ceiling, he always noticed first that the room was warm. His blankets smelled nice too. It was a citrus smell that raised him from sleep, but he also associated it with something safe too. A smell to let him know he wasn't dreaming, everything was real, and that he didn't have to worry anymore.
The sun shined in from a window to his left, which made him smile. He wasn't used to windows, and while the brightness irritated his eyes, he welcomed it at the same time.
It had been almost a year since his life had changed, and N still woke up every morning hoping it wasn't just some cruel dream, and that this would be how life would stay from now on. Even though his room was plain, the white walls, his little desk, his closet full of new clothes, a bookshelf, it was still nice and cozy. He didn't miss the clouds on his floor, or the striped walls one bit.
There was freedom in every choice he got to make. When he rose from bed, smoothed out his blanket, dressed himself, and walked out of the room, it felt strange to be this way, to not be trapped and dictated every second, but N welcomed the feeling. Maybe this was wrong, because it couldn't have been real, right?
N's life, every second of every waking moment had been planned, or beaten into him one way or the other. He couldn't let his guard down for anything. If N still had hope left, if he thought he would be saved, free, if he thought anyone would ever care enough about him, if they loved him, then he knew, he knew the feeling of hope would be shattered. His father made every bit sure of that. So maybe this was wrong. Maybe N shouldn't feel happy he got to wake up in his own room, that he got to leave the room when he wanted, that he got to look out the window and see neighbors tending to their yards nearby. Because what if this was still a dream? What if it was ripped away from him? Everything else had been his entire life. It's just what he knew, what had been programmed into him, beaten into him so many god damn times, he knew he would go insane one day.
It made him angry too, but at himself. Angry because...how could daddy do this to him? How could he beat him so, so low that when N was finally out, finally saved, finally, finally, that he still felt this way? That he still felt like Ghetsis would come barging through the door any minute, yelling, screaming at him that he was so stupid and gullible, how could he think this was real? Maybe he'd finally gone insane and was just imagining the entire thing.
N began to shake, stumbling backward onto his bed, his knees knocking together. He wanted to cry, he was so mad. This was real; it was real, real, REAL! But there was still that voice, that fucking voice in the back of his head saying no, it wasn't. Why should it be real? Why should N be saved? Why was his imagination so cruel to him, that it created a fantasy world for him to feel any ounce of love or safety in? Daddy was just going to slam the bedroom door back open, yell at him for not doing something right, and beat it into him that he was there to stay, and there would never be any leaving. Because N never did anything right.
He felt the tears fill his eyes, but he blinked them away, rubbing at his face to try to make them stop. Closing his eyes, he opened them again, the room still white, the closet still there, the window still letting sunshine in. And he hated him; N absolutely hated his father for doing this to him, for still making him terrified. Maybe it hurt more knowing it would never go away. Maybe because N knew he had scarred him more than physically. There would always, always be that tiny voice of doubt in the back of his mind, whispering to him not to get comfortable here, not to have any more hope, because that's how N was programmed to think now. This is what daddy had done to him. He had trained him to think this way, and no matter what happened, N would continue to think this way. He would never feel completely safe. He would never feel completely loved or free.
The smell of food yanked N away from his thoughts. Rising from the bed and exiting through the bedroom door, he made his way downstairs to find Black and White's mother standing over the stove, humming a little as she mashed scrambled eggs with a spatula. It felt a little awkward coming down to this. It's just because even after a year, N was not used to it. He kept to himself mostly. Maybe because in his mind, he'd been trained to be caged, to be locked in a bedroom somewhere and wait. N spent most of his time holed up in his room, like an animal. It was his safe spot, a place he wanted to feel like his father couldn't get to him. But Black and White, their mom, they were more than understanding about it. Never did they force him to do something he didn't want. If N wanted to stay in bed all day, he got to. If he wanted to stay locked in the room, he got to. Whatever he wanted to do, they just smiled, told him okay, and left him to do what he wanted.
Maybe that was wrong too. N felt so lost, even here, in a place of comfort. He was so used to being yelled and screamed at, beaten when he didn't do something right, that being told to do what he wanted wasn't something he fully grasped yet.
The scrambled eggs smelled so good. Mouth watering, N moved to the table and sat down, feeling awkward, but staying silent. Even after a year, he never knew what to call Black and White's mother. She was always 'their mother' or something. She insisted he could call her whatever he wanted, but no, that was wrong.
Still humming her little song, she piled eggs onto a plate for him, not saying anything to him, because he hadn't said anything to her. He was pretty sure Black and White had told her everything, or at least, what they knew. N hadn't even told them everything that had happened. All they knew was that his father beat him and held him prisoner in his bedroom for as long as he could remember. Did they even know he was raped and tortured almost every single day? N didn't know if he was ever going to tell them. It wasn't like it mattered, it wasn't like details mattered. Why should anything matter anymore? He was free, wasn't he? Shouldn't he be happy about that? He was supposed to, but with that influence hanging over him, and the fact that his father was still out there somewhere, rotting away in a prison for probably not very long to begin with, was enough to keep his fear fully intact.
"Hon, would you like a cupcake?"
It took N a second to realize he'd already finished his food, and was stabbing at an empty plate with his fork. He jumped, feeling stupid when he realized he'd zoned out and a bright blue cupcake was being presented to him. "N-no, I'll get fat."
'Their mom' looked a little hurt by his statement, or maybe surprised was more appropriate. Then, "Honey, it doesn't matter if you have sweets every once in a while. They won't make you fat, I promise. I mean, if you eat them every single day without watching how many you're eating, yes, you'll gain a little weight, but I promise you, one every once in a while is nice!" Again, the treat was pushed toward him and, swallowing a little, N picked it up, biting down right on the frosting.
He didn't think he'd ever had a cupcake before. No wait, that was a lie. One of the cooks made him cake for a birthday once, but...it was just that one time. He didn't really care for the cake back then, but he couldn't deny this was delicious. It was moist and not even overly sweet. It was just right.
Smiling, 'their mom' hopped a little next to the table. "So? Was it good? I'm a good cook, aren't I?"
"Yes, it was delicious." N smiled as he finished the rest of the sweet before saying, "Will you teach me to cook one day?"
He might as well have told the woman she'd won a lottery. "Honey, of course I will! Trust me, if you follow my directions, you'll be making mouth-watering dishes in no time! But, it'll have to wait a later time. Black and White wanted to give you a present today, and I'm sure they'll be down for breakfast in a bit."
She smiled, filling two more plates with eggs and setting a cupcake down next to them as well. "That's okay, isn't it, N? I think they wanted to take you to the town up the road and do some shopping. You don't have to go if you don't want to."
"No." He smiled, the little voice in the back of his head telling him no, no, no, this was too good to be true. "I want to go."
At that moment, 'their mom' bent down to him, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him so close, he could smell the perfume on her neck. It was lavender. "Honey, you're so sweet, and you know we love you just like a member of our own family. I hope you know I love you like my own, and I hope you call me mom one day."
The only people who'd ever really given him anything close to 'love' were Anthea and Concordia. He didn't even know where they were, but-they were his sisters, his only family, along with daddy. There were never any I love you's, or hugs, or comforting words. It wasn't something he could get used to either. It felt like his chest tightened, like he was being constricted from the inside when he felt tears come to his eyes. But he couldn't cry. Babies cried.
Comfort and love weren't programmed into him. They were always unnecessary. N had always been told what to do, not told he could do what he wanted. It was so ironic. When he was little, he remembered dreaming of escape, of living life on his own, and now that he was finally free, he was so lost about what to do with himself. Maybe that was his own fault. Or maybe it was daddy's. He didn't know.
Hugging onto her, he blinked away his tears, losing himself in the scent of lavender. "I love you too, momma."
Watching Black and White's morning antics was always amusing to N. They acted like any other stereotypical siblings would: Fighting who would get to use the bathroom first, shoving each other to be the first downstairs, yelling at the other when they wouldn't play fair, scarfing down their breakfast like they were having a contest, and then almost choking on the food, causing their mom to yell at them.
It was like watching a sitcom, with N being in the front row seat. He should've felt creepy all he did was sat there with his chin in his hands and smile, but it was genuinely entertaining to him and made him laugh to see how animated and full of life they were. It was like they never grew up from the time they all rode the ferris wheel together. White was still hyper, and Black was still level-headed. But, he liked seeing them this way. Seeing them the way he had met them, and N was glad they hadn't grown out of it.
"IT'S SPRING!" After finishing her breakfast, White bounced from her seat, throwing a tiny pink purse over her shoulder before moving behind Black, grabbing his shoulders, and moving him back and forth. "Hurry up, slowpoke, the town's gonna get crowded!"
Frowning, Black continued eating as his sister rocked him by his shoulders. "Unlike you, I enjoy chewing my food. You're going to choke one day."
Letting go of her brother, White stood back and crossed her arms. "Ha! I already choke on my food every day, so ha."
Their mom rolled her eyes from her position on the couch, where she and N were seated, watching the weather report. N covered his mouth to muffle his giggles. He really hoped everyday was like this, just laughing at their antics and having a good time. It felt really good to laugh.
After a few more minutes of Black purposely chewing his food slowly to piss off White, she made a loud groan. "DUDE, WILL YOU HURRY? We're supposed to be taking N shopping today."
N perked at the mention of his name before turning around in his seat. "For what though?"
Black nodded, finally finishing his breakfast and putting the plate in the sink, much to White's delight. "Whatever you want, man."
While still turned, N felt something being placed in his palm and whirled around to see their mom putting money in his hands, smiling at him. "You don't have to buy anything if you don't want, but since it's spring, they really wanted to go out with you. I think it might be good for you to walk around. Do you still want to, honey?"
Feeling awkward with everyone staring at him, N chose instead to look at the patterns in the carpet before nodding. "Yes, I still want to go."
"Then let's go!" Without waiting for a response, White was out the door, Black following behind while rolling his eyes, N backing him up.
It was only the start of spring, so the weather was still chilly, but N felt nice and warm in his oversized black coat. The trees were starting to get their leaves again, and flowers were just starting to bloom. In just a short while, N knew the place would be alive with color, and it excited him. He wasn't very...physically able to stand a year ago and look out his window at the color. To him, the entire year flew by. It was supposed to be time for him to heal. Or heal what he could. He didn't remember a lot of it, honestly. Just that he clung to Black and White like they were going to leave him in the middle of the night. Sometimes they would set up sleeping bags in his room and all three of them would sleep together on the floor. Still, N clung to them, because they had saved him. If it weren't for them, he knew without a doubt, he would still be sitting in the corner of his father's room, waiting, just like he'd always done.
"Can I ask you guys something?" They perked at the sound of his voice, the wind blowing suddenly, making all three of them shiver. "How did you find me?"
Black spoke next. "We've told you before, don't you remember?"
Blushing a little, N stared at his feet, shaking his head. "No. I'm sorry." As the wind blew, his damn long hair flew all in his face. It hadn't gotten any less bushy over the past year.
"Well..." White spoke afterward. "We were both at the age where we could travel with pokemon, so while we were on our adventures and battling Team Plasma, we heard them mention you."
N wanted to laugh at that. Mention him? Team Plasma didn't even know him, yet he was supposed to be their 'king'. Even after all this time, he still hated his father for planting those stupid lies into him and making him believe he even had a purpose to begin with.
"And we got to thinking about you more often and why you would be associated with Team Plasma, but we couldn't find any leads until we found the castle. We had Gym Leaders and the police involved and-simply put, we just found you there. We didn't even know you were in the castle from the start."
It sickened him a little that had they not searched the place, he would've never been found.
"And your dad was already wanted in several towns for a few crimes Team Plasma committed. Or at least, they pinned the blame all on him, but yeah."
Why had his father even given two shits about Team Plasma? What exactly had his goal been with them? N didn't know. Or care. They were just servants. Just doing what they were told. He remembered Colress telling him they had given his father 'side projects' to do to try and his mind off of-well him. Obviously, it didn't work. Though, he got a little satisfaction knowing they sold Ghetsis out when it counted. A least a little justice had been served.
"Let's stop talking about this." Black was next to him, patting his back. "It'll only make you depressed."
N nodded. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry. We just want to make you happy is all." Black smiled.
It was a little warmer when they reached the town and already, it was bustling with people, something Black got an earful from his sister for. Black rolled his eyes, his silent way of telling her to bite him.
N liked coming to the city. The crowds of people made him feel like he was finally part of the world, of life. There was a whole world of things that happened and went on, and he was finally a person in a crowd.
White was at his side, tugging his arm. "So, what would you like to do?"
There was only a street full of buildings to choose from. N couldn't pick. Clothes? A movie? Get more sweets? A bookstore? It made him nervous being asked to pick, especially when there was too much to choose from, but Black and White waited patiently for him to come up with something.
When the wind blew, making his hair fly all in his face again, N knew his answer.
"The barber?" Black and White looked at each other, before back at him, making his face go red again.
"I'm sorry. Is that...okay?"
"Yeah, it's just." White tilted her head, squinting her eyes at him like she was studying him. "You want it all gone? You've had long hair ever since we met you. Why cut it all off now?"
"I never wanted long hair. I've just had it for so long, I forgot I have a choice to get rid of it now." He stared at his shoes. "Ghetsis made me grow it out. I've always wanted to cut it."
Black shrugged. "It's your hair, dude, you can shave yourself bald. Do whatever you want."
N laughed nervously. "I was thinking of getting it cut to my shoulders. It's sort of curly in some places, so it'll curl up by itself and-I mean, would that be okay?"
White shrugged too. "If you want it short, then let's go. It'll grow back if you ever want it long again. I mean, it'll take a while, but I think you'd look cute with short hair."
Blushing, N nodded. "Th-thank you."
N had never been to a salon before. Getting his hair washed and his head massaged and finally cutting off all that annoying hair was a very relaxing experience. It felt a little awkward at first, as all new things are, but once he saw himself in the mirror, all of it gone, finally gone, he couldn't stop smiling.
He looked older, cleaner, and it felt a lot better going outside with the wind blowing and not have a waterfall of hair slapping him in the face.
Black and White both looked surprised, probably not expecting his short hair to look good on him. It curled in the right spots, framing his face nicely. Walking down the street with them was a more pleasant experience since he was smiling so much. His smile was contagious. Pretty soon, Black and White were smiling and all three of them were generally just having a good time enjoying each other's company.
Then N felt a tap on his shoulder, followed by a familiar voice. "I almost didn't recognize you without your luscious mane, my lord."
The weight of a train fell into his stomach, almost making him vomit when N turned to see Colress, making him latch onto Black and White like they would save him. What the-the fuck was he doing here? How did he even find him? A million questions ran through N's head. Why, why was he here? How could he be here? Wasn't he arrested with the rest of Team Plasma? Was he here to take him away-?
"You don't appear very pleased to see me. It's understandable, but I assure you I mean no harm."
Black and White had shifted until they were partially in front of N, like a shield. "Who are you?"
Without answering, Colress crossed his arms. "I wish to speak to N alone. That's all I want to do is talk. And if Super Man and Wonder Woman feel like he's in danger, then by all means, attack me in public. I just want to tell him something." Even though he hadn't seen him in years, N still felt hatred toward him, as much hatred as he felt for his father. Colress was just as guilty for what happened to him as his father was. Maybe he was even worse. Because he knew what was happening, he knew everything, but he chose not to help N. He chose instead to try to make excuses for Ghetsis, to try to 'help' him. Even when N got on his hands and knees and begged him, Colress denied it.
N's anger was not left out of his voice. "Whatever you have to say, you're going to say it right here, because I'm not going anywhere alone with you, and if you don't like it, you can go fuck yourself with a knife."
Colress didn't appear fazed by N's threat, he just chuckled like he was amused. "Well you've certainly grown up, but fine, fine. I'll do it your way." After straightening his coat and sighing, Colress spoke again. "I was traveling around the world, doing research on pokemon, trying to make a living as a doctor after the police came and stormed the castle. I was able to escape the hustle and bustle and I've been innocently studying pokemon since then. That's not a crime, right? But I found your sisters in a city miles away from here and got to chatting with them, and they mentioned an interesting piece of information I thought was worth tracking you down and sharing with you for."
Still angry, still a little afraid for what Colress might do, N spoke. "And what would that be?"
"Your father is dead, N."
The weight of the train was back in his stomach, pushing down, suffocating him, but N was motionless, staring up at Colress like he was insane, not even being able to form a response. How-?
"He killed himself in prison. I guess being alone was too much for him to handle. He was already mentally ill. You know that, N. Without you, he snapped."
Black and White were silent next to him, each one holding onto one of his arms, waiting for him to make a move.
But N was still. Tears welled up in his eyes, but he let them fall. Why was he crying though? This...this should have been-maybe not good news, but. This should have made him feel better he didn't have to worry about his daddy anymore. That he was completely free, that he didn't have to worry about him getting out of prison and coming to find him again.
But it was overwhelming. When he thought back on what had happened. When he was little, playing with toys, when daddy would tear the toys up, because toys were for babies, when he made him pump him in the middle of the night until he orgasmed, when he held him down onto the bed and raped him over and over, until N was screaming and begging him to stop, that he loved him over and over, when he tied him up, when he put tape over him, ripping it off and kissing the red marks until they burned, when he fucking tortured him until N was trained to think a certain way, when-all of this. Everything. Everything N had been through, to finally, finally be free now, living with a family who loved him, even though he wasn't related to them. They used to be complete strangers, but they took him in. Momma loved him like her own. Black and White were like siblings to him. He was finally free from his daddy, to find out he was gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.
N cried, sinking to the ground on the sidewalk, holding his face into his hands and sobbed. Black and White sank with him, hugging onto him, telling him it would be okay, he was okay. They loved him.
Colress left at one point, but N still cried, still seated on the sidewalk, people stared at the three in the middle of the sidewalk, but they were ignored.
All N could think of was it was over. Finally over. Even though it would take a long time before he could function normally again, he could at least rest easy at night knowing his father wasn't going to come and lock him up again. He was gone. N was-he didn't know how to explain it. The overwhelming emotions hurt him, to the pit of his stomach, he felt a feeling like he would vomit, but at the same time he wanted to laugh. He wanted to cry tears of joy, hug onto Black and White until nightfall, and hug them so they would never let him go. They saved him after all.
Still hugging him while he was sobbing, Black spoke. "We love you, N. Stay with us as long as you want. You're family."
Still crying, N clung to them. "I love you guys too. Thank you."