A/N: Hey guys! One last update for this month.
I need to get to individual reviews. For now, here's some stuff that's been cropping up.
N:In the games, N is known for talking very fast and very awkwardly. He is shown having a lot of trouble with humans, confusing what people are saying and being very stubborn in his beliefs. He is quite young, but from the backstory that's been revealed, it seems like he was mostly around adults, when he was around humans at all. So I tried to have his speech be as generally socially awkward and formal as I could. Adults would rarely, particularly in a criminal organization, be focusing on a child's sociability. That especially goes for Ghetsis, who has, in my opinion, the most twisted way of talking in Pokemon ever, even with Colress around.
I will be adding to this as the subjects crop up, but my computer time is limited at the moment of this update. Enjoy!
Chapter 2: Footsteps
"I… I'm sorry?"
N swore he had heard incorrectly. Yet even as Katherine grimaced, Simon's expression didn't change in the slightest, cool and earnest. N rushed to add to his sentence, grateful to see he wasn't the only one confused by this. "We've just met. Wouldn't it be… too much to ask such a request of me?" The Pikachu let out a high-pitched sound almost like a snort.
Simon sighed."Please allow me to be frank with you." N stared dumbly for a moment, not understanding the figure of speech. Then he nodded slowly in carefully appearing clarity. The other continued patiently. "Sir, my brother, as you probably can tell, is not like ordinary children. He and you are rather similar in the regard of caring for Pokemon. However, unlike him you have taken a glimpse of the world." He folded his hands, still with that enigmatic look that N allowed himself to consider scholarly. "Maybe you are not well-versed in it as much as you'd like to be. However, my brother is young and rather childlike. I want him to take a journey but I fear he will be taken advantage of." As you have been.
"You're sure I won't?" N challenged quietly, giving the best glare he could muster. It scared him that the young man disregarded it. And why wouldn't Katherine stop staring at him? She was like a Vullaby… or maybe a Braviary. He was never sure which one never stopped glaring. Then again, if he was a woman with a clearly… innocent little brother, he would certainly be rather protective himself… right?
Simon smiled with what appeared to be slight malice. "I am under the probable suspicion that you don't know how." N resisted the flush that ran up his face. He was right… but still. N had the sneaking suspicion that Nai was nicest of the family… or simply the least devious. Around the room, N watched his Pokemon grow quiet, as though perhaps they had come to their own decisions. He wanted to ask. He wanted to speak so, so desperately. However… somehow it felt wrong to do that, like it would flaunt that wonderful ability in some way.
"I-In any case…" N struggled to find a way out of this. "Why would you ask this of me? Whether I could do as you fear others would or not, what makes you believe I am the most suitable for the task?"
Simon gestured loosely around him with that lopsided smirk. Already, N was beginning to hate that look. "Nai likes your company."
"Nai likes everyone," Kat objected, arching a finely tweezed eyebrow and shaking her head. The Pikachu snorted again and for a moment N thought he could hear the words: I think you meant Nai is too stupid to dislike anyone. Kat glowered at the mouse; daring the creature to comment again anyway. It waved a lazy paw before marching up to N's Zoroark and beginning to chatter at him. The Pokemon raised an eyebrow and listened. N wished his Pokemon would say something, anything to help him figure out what was going on.
Simon chuckled at his sister's words before shaking his head. "Let me phrase this better, for all of our sakes. We can have you arrested as a wanted criminal Mr. N." The frank words would have made many other men quail but N admittedly knew very little on the justice system of the world they lived so the threat rather zoomed over his head. The little he gleaned from that man's mutterings was that it was not a good place to be and it was lucky he had been locked there. "You willfully committed a crime and here in Hoenn, we tend to be rather twitchy about that sort of thing. Rayquaza wasn't our idea of a good time." Kat shook her head and Simon shot her a frown.
"Rayquaza… he calmed the wrath of Groudon and Kyogre…" N pondered aloud. "It… was… so long ago." Anthea had told him of it, of when humans had foolishly reawakened two of the great Titans and led them to do battle. She had said someone had led Rayquaza to calm their fury but if the humans had not done the horrible act, nothing would have gone so wrong.
"Eleven years," Simon confirmed. His voice was somber."And Hoenn hasn't let it go, especially with Galactic having done what they did. People are easily able to given into fear Mr. N." He sighed very gently, fixing the taller man with a patient, patronizing look. "No matter where you go, or what you do alone, you will have the mark of what you did with Team Plasma on you. And if you try to find your answers here, alone, it will be all the worse." He took a deep breath, as though steadying himself for his next words. "Nai is a child Mr. N. Children can be easy to sway. I do not want… my baby brother… to end up swayed by people with those sorts of thoughts."
I don't want him to end up like you.
N felt his temper bubble underneath his Adam's apple. He was not some kind of freak of nature… was he?
"You think a freak like you can have a human heart?"
Maybe he was. N's tea-green eyes dimmed as he thought about it, wondered at the old man's parting words, his hateful screams. What… what was wrong with that man?
There was a soft knock at the door. Kat glowered gently at the noise. "Were you listening Nai?"
"Listening to what?" The boy replied as he entered the room, practically flying inside. Simon chuckled and the tension eased out of the large living room. Nai was bouncing on the balls of his feet, looking from adult to adult as though trying to remember just who he needed to talk to. Then he waved at Katherina, bounding over with a phone in one hand. "Client call~" he reported delightedly before whistling and leaving the room. The Pikachu ran after him at this, sighing like an old man.
"Feckin' lovable dork," it squeaked, leaving N completely and utterly puzzled by the going's on. He really wished he could understand…
Perhaps this is how I made them feel, he thought with a sudden rush of guilt as Katherina held the phone and spoke in a quiet, pleasant murmur. Guilt… he was very familiar with that. He was always guilty of being a human being, a creature which hurt the creatures he had been raised to love. He had been wrong though on that… hadn't he? There were good humans and good Pokemon… but there had been abused ones. So Ghetsis hadn't lied entirely… but he hadn't told the truth either. Was that what humans did? Did they tell half-truths that could really be one way or the other?
"No one point of view has the right answers," whispered a voice in his ear, solemn, almost heartbroken in its commentary. He ignored it the best he could, looking instead at the one called Simon. N didn't know what the right response was but… he was certain he could not make it. The green-haired male opened his mouth to tell him so but abruptly clapped it shut, feeling utterly discomforted.
The other male smiled earnestly, mischief and serious disappearing into a kindness that reminded him of a veil. It made him think of Father's veil. "I'll let you think this over. If you agree, wonderful. If you do not, that is your choice too. Choose what you feel is right. That is the way people really live, at least…" He rose to his feet. "That's what I believe." Simon left the room, leaving his sister to glare at N for a moment.
N frowned in both puzzlement and dismay. He only barely grasped why he had been asked, but certainly not what. He was to protect this child? From what? He barely knew what threats looked like. He hadn't seen one until it was right in front of his nose and screaming at him with so much hate and rage he thought the man's veins would burst. Maybe he could ask his Pokemon. They were usually wiser than he was, except Vanilluxe, who was simply angrier than he was. So N wandered outside to sit in the grassy yard. His Pokemon followed with curiosity, never trepidation. They were never frightened or hateful with humans like other Pokemon of his. They were merely interested in them, distrustful only due to the strangeness. Or because of N? He had never asked.
The cool evening air brushed at his hair, the uneven strands trembling in the breeze. "What do you think?" he finally asked the four of them, each pair of eyes glowing gently in the dark. None of them answered, not even the loyal Zoroark who had been by his side longer than almost everyone. For his kit, he had said when the creature had joined him, but he had never specified which. N shook his head quietly. No Pokemon considered humans their children. Sure they likely cared for them as such, but none of them…
"He is like a baby trying to leave the nest. I will not let you knock him to the ground."
"She is my cub. Good parents do not abandon their cubs."
"N, aren't you as bad as you call others? Because if Pokemon are raised in captivity, do they know anything else? Would you really doom them to be that lonely?"
N turned to Nai, noticing that he was carrying the yellow mouse in his arms. It seemed to be resisting the urge to protest, if only because the boy didn't seem all too enthused about letting go. The turquoise human eyes were quizzical, a raw confusion that was simply all too present. "Did Simon make you do something?" the boy asked, expression slowly slumping itself into a frown. "Piku said he was saying some weird things… wouldn't tell me what they were…"
He hesitated. Could he explain all of this to such a young boy? He hadn't been able to explain his dreams back then; how could interpret what he did not know now? "I…" he began, the word leaving his lips unbidden, trailing off into a sheepish quiet.
Nai's large eyes widened further. "Did they threaten you Mr. N?" Before the man could answer him, Nai babbled on. "Oh, if they did, I'm gonna smack Simon on the head. That's not nice to do to new friends, not at all! Don't listen to them Mr. N," he then informed the surprised green-haired man. "You can do whatever you want to do as long as it feels right. You don't think about Nai or Piku or their feelings if they aren't following your heart."
"Even… if it hurts someone?" he asked incredulously.
Nai blinked at him slowly before tilting his head. "Well, sometimes people have to be hurt. And as long as you aren't hurting them for the sake of hurting them, it's okay to mess up once in a while. Besides, your heart doesn't lie. Not now, not ever." Piku smirked at this, content.
But my heart told me to help the Pokemon. "What if your heart… what if it's wrong?"
Nai blinked at him slowly. "Well maybe you didn't read it right." With that, the boy ran out into the yard, followed by that small, odd dog. "Stop it Poochy," the boy scolded as it attempted to nip at his ankles. "What'll happen if you do that for your new trainer? That would be rude!" The dog whined and stopped, looking mollified.
N laughed despite himself, feeling a genuine smile rise to his lips over exhaustion. "That Pokemon… what is it exactly?"
Nai glanced at him, auburn hair swinging over his eyes. "Poochy is a Poochyena, a small dog Pokemon. I have to go take him to his trainer tomorrow." He patted the pup's head and smiled fondly. "New trainer time for you Poochy!" Poochy barked, nodding his brisk and eternally gleeful approval.
"I can't wait!" squealed the grey dog. "I hope I can run on water!"
N blinked slowly in surprise and Nai merely giggled. "Silly Poochy! Dogs don't run on water; they swim!" The dog huffed, clearly thinking running on water should be perfectly possible. Nai giggled again and in reply Poochy tackled him to the ground. N smiled to himself. This felt… nice… to him, like when he was a child… before that man… before everything…
"Say… Nai…" For some reason, his throat caught at the boy's name, aching slightly as the twelve-year-old looked at him, gently shoving the Pokemon off. "What kind of trainer… is Poochy going to?"
"Dunno," Nai replied as the yellow rat dragged the puppy away by his tail. "That's why I have to go with him. I just gotta know!" Nai sounded excited; anticipating what to him must seem like a great adventure. "Maybe Nai will make a friend this time! That would be so cool!" Piku let out an irritable squeak and Nai patted his head. "Different than you and Poochy, promise. Nai can't talk to just Pokemon you know." Piku's ears twitched as it huffed, clearly believing otherwise. Nai's optimism didn't reach N's frown, which was noticed. "Mr. N? Are you worried about Poochy?"
N jumped. "I… well, yes I am."
The preteen beamed at him. "Then why don't you come with Nai?" Earning a bemused look, Nai explained. "Nai is going tomorrow to start to Petalburg City. If Nai is careful, it will only take three days."
"Theh-three days?" N yelped. It only took half a day to get from Nuvema to Accumula! Maybe a day if you stretched out some captures. Nai nodded and Piku rolled his eyes. N was beginning to suspect the creature disliked him. Why would it though? "Are you-will you be all right by yourself?"
Nai nodded brightly. "Nai will have Piku with him so he'll be fine! Also, Nai knows others who can help him! So…" He gave the older a thumbs up. "Don't worry about it!"
Despite himself, N found himself worrying. Now he could see what Simon meant, Unshakable optimism, just like them, but none of their experience or strength, none of their natural suspicion. He was guileless, hopeful, unready for this world. Could I really leave him to journey alone? Like Father let me journey alone?
"That was different," the cold chill hummed. "You were meant to be perfect. That one is flawed. Let him fall."
"Why," he whispered to the air. "Why would I do such a thing?"
The boy looked at him. "Are you all right Mr. N?" N nodded slowly, mentally shaking his head. No. He would not be like that man. He would help this child, this person who was like him. There would be no other non-human humans like him. There could not be any more sad existences. Also… if that Pokemon got hurt, it would be his responsibility to help it right? Right.
"Nai," he began softly. "Could I perhaps… go with you?" Silently he closed his eyes, waiting for the cheerful yet blunt refusal. Nai probably thought he could take care of himself.
The child surprised him yet again however. "Yeah! Adventures are more fun with people!" He sobered quickly. "But Zekrom will have to hide. Are you okay with that Mr. N?"
N nodded slightly. It was a small price to pay, he realized, for the safety of a new friend and the protection of a child. He wondered if he could make his father see that. Looking up into the house, he saw Simon smirking at him a little before leaving his vision.
That guy… sure is scary.
Zekrom lounged in the glade, resting in the grass with contentment. No one came out here, he realized, hence why the Pokemon were so calm. Or perhaps they were because the people were. He could not deny how peaceful this place was, how serene the air felt. It was not entirely healthy air, but like another place, they had grass instead of city streets and trees over skyscrapers. It was a sweet place, warm and light. No wonder that child lived here, in this peaceful place.
That child had dreams. The dragon would have known that even if he was not the Bearer of Ideals. The child had a shine. Nai had an inner, gentle shine that simply outweighed fear. He would be a wonder at whatever he did, whatever good or evil that would be. He hoped the child would do choose a proper path, a warm one with sunlight and friends. He was too much like N and N still had strayed off his path. No matter his environment, the lad had only himself to blame. The man would not like to know that, admit it. However, it was a deep truth, one that the dragon itself could not say. Reshiram would of course, damn consequences. He could not lie; that other half of his.
"Perhaps the child will be of help," he thought wistfully. N was very lonely… and loneliness made people very bitter, humans and Pokemon alike. Nai, in N's eyes, must appear very lonely. However, he was too young to see what Zekrom could. He was too human to feel that peace. The second Nai's hand had rested on his neck; he had been easy to read.
Otherwise Zekrom would have simply thrown him off.
"What is your dream Nai?" he had asked the boy while he worked. Nai had looked at him and smiled, unabashed by the simplicity of his answer.
"Nai wants friends!"
Is that all, someone would say with a scoff to this child. Anyone can do that. Dream a bit bigger. N's dream had once been to separate all humans and Pokemon. His dream had not only failed, but tore his heart to pieces. It was nice to have a great dream that encompassed the world. However, perhaps Nai's tiny dream was enough for him. To not be the best, but to help anyone who needed it… maybe that was where his sunlight came from.