Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ There for You ❯ Forgiven ( Chapter 2 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

The residents of Serene Village could always figure out the time of day based on how soft or intense the sunlight was.

It was early in the morning. Chikorita crawled out of bed and went into the next room, finding Nuzleaf at the table.

"Good morning to you!" he greeted. "Heading out so soon?"

"Yeah, Totodile and I are meeting our old classmates up by the big tree. I haven't talked to them in ages! I'll see you later today!"

"Take care, now."

She scurried out the door.

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"Chikorita! Totodile! It's so good to see you!" Goomy cheerfully greeted as they two approached the top of the hill.

Totodile waved. "Hi everyone! "It's good to be back!"

"Back so soon, huh?" Pancham said with a smirk. "How irritat-" Shelmet nudged him. "…Er, I mean, it's good to see you guys too. In all seriousness."

"Thanks for letting us know about your gathering," Chikorita said to Espurr.

"No problem. Forgive me for not going over and inviting you in person last night. I honestly wasn't feeling very social and didn't want to leave the house, so I didn't."

She smiled cheerfully.

"Oh, Espurr. We love you," Deerling said as she walked up to the two heroes.

"So, this has sort of become our main hangout spot," she went on. "Every Saturday morning we all come up here and try to catch the sunrise."

"Except for when Pancham sleeps in," Shelmet blurted out.

"I don't see what the big deal is," he retorted. "I see you guys all week and we do this every weekend. So what if I wanna sleep every now and then?"

"Don't worry about it, Pancham," Deerling said.

"I don't even get why it's such a struggle for him to wake up in the mornings," Shelmet continued. "I mean, it's not like his mom ever lets him stay up past 9…"

"Okay, shut up already!"

Pancham tackled him and they started bro wrestling. Goomy sat there and just laughed.

"Um… are they okay?" Chikorita tilted her head.

"Oh, they're fine." Deerling smiled. "This is normal. They do this almost every time we see them."

"I find it somewhat entertaining," Espurr said.

"While they're having their fun," Goomy began, joining their circle, "how about we all sit down and catch up? I'd love to hear about your adventures overseas!"

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"And that's why…? It was all just to get the Luminous Water…?"

"Yeah, and I sure do thank you for your help with that, fools."

*Toss* *turn*

"But I'm afraid you've done all you can for me, and now you ain't nothin' but loose ends. Especially Chikorita there."

"Once you're down there, in the pits of the Voidlands… you ain't never comin' back up. Not even you, Chikorita. Finally get it, don't you?"

*Toss* *turn*

There ain't nothin' left for you in this world! So you be good little pawns… and let me turn y'all back into stone!"

*GASP* *PANT* *PANT*

Nuzleaf's heart was beating so hard he was shaking. He looked out the window and saw that the sunlight was still soft, suggesting that it was still early in the afternoon. The house was quiet and Chikorita wasn't back yet.

"I reckon… I must'a dozed off by accident…" he whispered to himself as he tried to catch his breath.

This was the first nightmare he had in a long time. And the weight these nightmares always left on him felt overwhelming.

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"I can't BELIEVE those guys tumbled all the way down the hill!"

Totodile was struggling to regain his composure after laughing so hard.

"It was pretty funny." Chikorita was just laughing at her friend who couldn't seem to get over it. "Those two are interesting characters."

"And then when they started coming back up the hill… and then Pancham tackled him back down AGAIN! Ahahahahaha!"

Totodile was on the ground at this point, pounding his fist and just dying of laughter. Chikorita had to pause her walking to let him get it all out.

"My goodness, Totodile. It was funny, but make sure you take a breath now and then…" she teased.

"Okay, okay… I think I'm good." He pulled himself up from the ground. "So, I'm gonna run home and spend a little time with Pops. But I'll meet you at your house in a bit and then we can go?"

"Sounds good!"

The two parted ways and went into their respective houses.

Chikorita stepped inside and found Nuzleaf… staring out the window and looking incredibly pale.

He snapped out of his trance and turned when he heard her come in.

"Hey you." He forced a smile. "Did ya have a good time with your friends?"

"Yeah, it was good to see everyone again. Are you… okay? You look like you've seen a Gastly…"

He didn't really try to hide it. He stood there silent for a moment, and finally mumbled, "I'm sorry…"

"Sorry? For what?"

He suddenly walked her way and knelt down in front of her, looking her right in the eye. He looked like he was about to cry.

"Chikorita… you know I didn't mean none of what I said back then, right? Back when Dark Matter had control of me… all that stuff I said, about you bein' a fool and all… I didn't mean none of it. Not a single word. You know that, don't ya?"

"Of course I know that. What's wrong, Papa…? Why are you bringing that up now?"

"I… had one of them nightmares again, just now."

"Again?! What do you mean again? Does this happen often?"

"Not too much, no. It sorta comes in waves. Hasn't happened in quite some time 'til now. I reckon I've been pretty good this whole while at not lettin' it get to me and stayin' clear headed, but… sometimes, when I think about how I almost went and sent you to-"

"You're still experiencing trauma…" she cut in. "And I really, really wish I could help and take that away. But all I can do is forgive you."

She paused for a second and gave him a hug.

"…And I'll remind you of that every single day, if it'll help…"

He took a deep breath. "You sure are a sweet child, ain't ya?"

He released the embrace after a moment and looked into her eyes again. "There's somethin' I've been meaning to… ask ya."

"What is it?"

"It's just… here I've been, all this whole while just talkin' about my side of it all. But I don't recall that I've ever once asked you about… how you feel 'bout the whole thing."

She was a little confused. "You mean… how I feel these days?"

Tears started spilling down Nuzleaf's face as he spoke. "I know I hurt you, child. Back then, when I went and betrayed ya, and you truly had all the reason in the world to hate me… and yet, here you are. I just need to know, honestly… how did you feel then? How bad did I hurt ya?"

Chikorita thought for a moment, looking down.

"…Back at Revelation Mountain, when we first found out the culprit was you… honestly, in that moment, I wanted to scream. I was so mad. I had come to trust you, and looked up to you like… well, a father. But I-"

He was still on his knees at her level, still facing the ground and teary-eyed.

"I used you…" he whispered.

"But," she continued, "at that time I didn't realize you were being controlled. I didn't really know much of anything about Dark Matter yet. Later I learned what was happening, and then of course I couldn't be mad at you anymore. It just broke my heart when I had to fight you that one time. I didn't want to hurt you…"

"You were rightly justified in it." He finally looked back up. "I was askin' for it."

"But it's all okay now." She smiled as she spoke. "You're okay, I'm okay… and we've come so far since then. Totodile's always saying that if none of that ever happened, you and I would've never met. And so I'm thankful for that."

"Heh…" he pondered for a moment. "…That kid has the darnest insights sometimes."

He stood back up and smiled. "I sure do wish it didn't have to go the way it did… but likewise, I truly am grateful things turned out this way."

"I always knew that the real Nuzleaf had to be a pretty swell guy…" she winked, trying to lighten the mood.

He smiled. "Oh, did ya now?"

"I mean, last night you let me eat all of the best pastries from Kangaskhan's basket, so… if that isn't proof, I don't know what is!"

"You're just lucky I like ya, kid," he teased.

"Chikorita!" Totodile called from outside. "Ready?"

"Headed off again?" Nuzleaf asked.

"Yeah. We wanted to stop by the school and say hi to all the staff."

"Well that sounds like a fine idea. Off you go, then."

"Okay. I'LL BE RIGHT THERE," she shouted out to Totodile. Before leaving, she run up and hugged her father one more time.

"Don't let the flashbacks get to you," she said. "You're forgiven."

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"Sheesh. Took you long enough," Totodile teased as she came out the door. "Is everything okay?"

She put on her smiley face. "Yep! Everything's good." I hope…

The two walked into the plaza when Totodile suddenly stopped.

"So… I know I gave you a hard time for taking too long just now, but… I kind of really want to grab a snack from the café real quick…"

"Of course you do." She rolled her eyes and giggled. "Well, you go do that. I'll meet you back out here."

The hungry crocodile ran inside, and Chikorita walked around the plaza for a bit.

There weren't too many Pokemon out and about at the time. She walked over towards the pier by the lake.

"Hi, Beheeyem!" she called out.

He turned away from the view.

"Oh? Hey there, Chikorita. When did you get back?"

"Just last night. But you know, it's funny… last time I was here a couple months ago, you were in this exact same spot. You have moved since then, right?" she teased.

He went along with it. "Heheh… I don't see why you've gotta be judging me like that, kid. I love this lake; what can I say?"

"It really is beautiful out here." She walked up by him to gaze out.

"I've gotta be real with you, small fry. I think you're becoming more and more like Totodile with each visit."

"Shall I take that as a compliment?"

"For sure. I just think it's funny, remembering the days when you were all shy and quiet. It's refreshing to see you two always so full of life."

Chikorita was quiet for a minute or two, wondering if she should ask him a certain question…

"You know something?" Beheeyem suddenly spoke, still gazing out. "I used to be afraid of silence. But since coming here, I've learned to enjoy it."

"I know what you mean."

More moments of silence.

"…Can I ask you something?" she finally uttered.

"Sure. Anything."

"Let me know if I'm crossing the line here, but… I was just wondering if you ever struggle with… trauma, of any kind, from being controlled by Dark Matter?"

"Don't ever feel bad about asking those questions, kid. It's not like you weren't there. But to answer you, I do sometimes get flashbacks and random waves of guilty feelings, but it's actually pretty rare and never lasts for very long. It's the same for the other two. I'm honestly surprised that it hasn't been harder for us."

"I see."

"Is there a reason why you're asking? I mean, it's been almost a year now."

She let out a sad sigh. "It's Nuzleaf. He had a breakdown today and I just… feel so bad. He has such a big heart and knows that he's forgiven, but it seems like he just can't seem to fully forgive himself…"

"I get you. I know it's different for Nuzleaf since he was so connected with you all here in the village while it was all going on. It's been easier for the three of us since we weren't personally involved with the villagers and basically just hid behind the scenes for most of it. But I wouldn't worry about him too much. He'll be all right."

"I just wish I could do something to help…"

"You already are. I don't think you realize how happy he is whenever you come visit. He really does love you, kid. I'll never forget the day he brought you back when we had that wildfire. The guy could barely even walk because his leg hurt so bad, but that sure didn't stop him from walking five miles back here to get you home."

"Yeah…" Chikorita's heart felt warm as she started remembering that day. "I'll never forget that either."

Totodile finally came out of the café and headed their way.

"Well, I guess that's my cue."

"Good seeing you. If you ever wanna chat more, you obviously know where to find me."

"Thanks!"

And with that she took off to meet her partner.

"Sheeh! Took you long enough!" she sassed.

"Okay, okay. I deserved that one. Now let's get there before they all go on lunch break!"

They ventured north to their old school. Totodile was hyped up, like usual. But Chikorita was lost in a trance.

I can't believe it's been almost six months since that fire happened… I'm so lucky to still be alive right now…