So, the latest Pokemon Masters event gave me Feelings, and therefore I had to write something for it.
Needless to say, this contains Pokemon Masters event spoilers, verbal/mental abuse, and one reference to physical child abuse.
And in case the “read more” breaks, this is also tagged as a long post.
N stepped into the cave, his heart thudding. He could see the oh-so familiar cloaked figure in the distance, and he swallowed hard. He was not alone, for which he was very grateful, but companionship was not doing much to assist his nerves.
‘You’re sure about this?’ his companion dubiously asked. In Nate’s opinion, N was making a huge mistake, and it was not yet too late to turn back.
‘Yes. This is the answer I’ve come to. I’m sure,’ N insisted, and Nate held back a sigh. Damn it. ‘...Thank you for coming with me, though.’
‘It’s fine,’ Nate replied. ‘I wouldn’t want you to go and see him alone.’
‘Mmmm,’ N murmured. He knew only too well that Nate had a point. ‘We need to be careful when dealing with a man like… him.’
N had tripped over his words. He was uncertain how to refer to the man they were meeting. “Ghetsis”? “Father”? As much as he wanted to call the man “Father”... it was too soon. Much too soon for that.
‘I’m still a little worried,’ N confessed, after a pregnant pause.
‘Yeah, well no matter what happens, I’m on your side,’ Nate promised.
Any further conversation was cut off, by a sudden interruption.
‘N! You’ve come to see me!’ a voice called out. For a moment, N froze; when they entered, Ghetsis had his back to them. His and Nate’s conversation had been in whispers, and he had assumed Ghetsis had not seen them yet.
He shook himself out of his reverie, his face calm, stoic, as he turned to lock eyes once again with the man he called Father, his abuser.
At least in appearance, Ghetsis had not changed. N sincerely hoped that was the only thing that remained static. Incredibly tall, Ghetsis towered over those he met, and his own son was no exception. He still used a cane. N’s gaze lowered to the gloved hand that held onto it, as his mind helplessly wandered to thoughts of what was hidden beneath the cloak. Was Ghetsis’ health the same? Had it improved? Or perhaps worsened?
That was the most likely scenario; Ghetsis always had a great love of expensive wines, scotches and other such alcoholic drinks, and it had taken its toll on him. Combined with one arm, the nerves permanently damaged by his Hydreigon, Ghetsis was an incredibly unhealthy man.
N lifted his head, staring his father in the eyes. One was still covered, and the other just as vividly scarlet as he remembered. It was difficult for him to maintain eye contact, but he forced himself to push through it.
‘I’ve come to let you know my answer,’ N declared. He had taken a quiet, deep breath in before speaking, to ensure his voice would not wobble, nor crack.
His head had been spinning, ever since Ghetsis initially approached him. Wanting to be a father to him again…
Though in order for him to be a father “again”, he had to have been one before. N knew that, deep down. But it was a thought he tried to keep pushed to the back of his mind.
‘Let’s send out our Pokemon,’ N added, when Ghetsis remained silent, just observing him.
Zekrom and Kyurem were both released from their Pokeballs, two thirds of the Tao Trio coming eye to eye with one another again for the first time in years.
‘Well? What’s your answer?’ Ghetsis demanded. Still so impatient.
‘...I don’t think it’s possible for us to become a true father and son so easily…’ N cautiously replied. His nerves were threatening to spill over, and he grabbed the brim of his cap. Something to focus on, while under his father’s scarlet gaze. ‘But… if you’ve really had a change of heart, and are seriously prepared to face people and Pokemon, then… maybe one day, it will be. That’s why I need you to show me that you have love in your heart -’
Ghetsis, the lower half of his face hidden by his incredibly high collar, clenched his jaw together tightly. How the fuck was he going to do that?
‘- through battle!’
Oh. The former Plasma leader relaxed. That was alright, then.
‘Father!’ The word escaped N’s lips, as he called out to the man before him. Ghetsis’ eyes slid shut.
‘I am grateful you’ve given me this opportunity…’ he started, his voice soft. N’s demeanour changed a little - Ghetsis was accepting what he said? Then maybe, just maybe, he had been telling the truth, after all! If Ghetsis could work on his issues, and treat those around him like human beings, and N himself like one, instead of an extension of Ghetsis, then -
‘Thank you for this chance.’ Ghetsis’ voice pulled N out of his thoughts again. The Plasma leader’s face twisted into a wicked grin, as he leant forward on his cane, a malicious glint in his eye. ‘To capture Zekrom for myself!’
No. No, please, God, no -
‘What?’ N gasped. The words left him winded, as though Ghetsis had struck him with his cane.
And it was a feeling he remembered all too well.
‘Now! Restrain Zekrom!’ Ghetsis commanded, his voice thunderous, as N tried to wrap his head around what was going on.
How could you be so stupid? Of COURSE Ghetsis was going to betray you, it’s what he DOES! the former king mentally chastised. How could he have been taken in so well? How, even now, with years free from Ghetsis’ influence, could he still be so easily manipulated?
As Ghetsis slammed his cane down on the rocky ground, several unfamiliar figures in black and white masks suddenly leapt out, having been waiting for Ghetsis’ signal. More Pokeballs were flung into the air, as more Pokemon were sent out, between N and Ghetsis.
Crackles of electricity zapped around Zekrom, the giant legendary held in place. N had frozen up again, feeling helpless, lost for what to do.
‘Zekrom!’ he cried.
‘It can’t move,’ Ghetsis said, a sinister chuckle coming forth. ‘I took special measures to use Pokemon that can hold it in place.’
N’s hands clenched into tight fists, shaking. How could I be so stupid? The entire thing had been a scam. Not only had Ghetsis prepared his Hydreigon to counter his team, not only had he made sure the Shadow Triad had Pokemon that could take down Zekrom, he had now done the same thing again on Pasio, to ensure he got what he wanted!
And like a fool, I fell for it, N’s mind traitorously whispered.
‘What d’you think you’re doing?!’ Nate angrily snapped. He looked as though, if the Pokemon were not there, he would run at Ghetsis and try to physically attack him.
‘I can’t believe you’d actually do such a thing…’ N’s voice was flat, hollow, belying the deep sense of betrayal that was rooting him on the spot.
‘Of course I would!’ Ghetsis taunted, cackling. In typical Ghetsis style, he seemed to be relishing rubbing salt into the wound. When he spoke again, his voice was a disdainful sneer, not making the slightest effort to mask his contempt for his own child. ‘I only put on that ridiculous act so that I could get my hands on Zekrom! That is all you’re worth to me! As if we could be a true family! Me? With a freak like you?!’
N’s jaw was clamped tightly shut, only barely managing to contain an outburst of pain at Ghetsis’ words. He had heard that insult too many times.
“He’s nothing more than a freak without a human heart!”
“DON’T TALK LIKE A PERSON, YOU FREAK!”
He had lost count of just how many times that word had been wielded like a weapon against him throughout his entire life. Every time he had attempted to talk to his father, particularly about his ability to talk to Pokemon, it had always gone the same way.
And that was no doubt the reason why, as an adult, he was still being called a freak. Because Ghetsis had always refused to believe his claims.
The fight had left N, and he did not bother to counter his father’s harsh words. But Nate was livid.
‘How dare you play with N’s feelings like that?!’ he yelled, launching his Pokeball into the air, Braviary bursting from it. ‘I’m going to help N protect Zekrom!’
With an instruction to attack, and N still paralysed, Nate began to battle the Team Break grunts that had gathered under Ghetsis’ command, and easily took them down. As the last opposing Pokemon fell, Ghetsis’ expression twitched, ever so slightly.
‘...Not bad,’ he conceded. ‘I can feel your anger!’ And it fuelled him.
‘Next is the pair holding down Zekrom!’ Nate declared. The Team Break trainer in question looked concerned as Nate attacked again.
A new, commanding voice interjected, as yet another Pokemon appeared. The sleek, yet threatening form of Mewtwo landed between Ghetsis and Team Break, and N and Nate, pushing the latter two back. Mewtwo extended one arm, launching a hard blast of psychic power, taking Braviary down. Trying not to panic, Nate recalled his Pokemon before it could hit the ground, as N gawped at the newcomer.
‘Is… is that…?’ His voice trailed off, his eyes wide in horror when he recognised his father’s ally.
‘Stay out of my way,’ Giovanni warned, his voice a low snarl. He looked almost exactly as N remembered. He had not seen anything of Team Rocket himself, not even on the news; Ghetsis had done too good a job when Team Rocket were around, of keeping N secluded and ignorant of the outside world. But the boy had heard things from his sisters, and done his own research since escaping Team Plasma.
This Giovanni did not look too dissimilar to the man he had seen in photos. Perhaps a little older, his face slightly more lined. A few flecks of grey in an otherwise jet black head of hair. But the biggest difference, was the symbol emblazoned on the breast of his jacket. Not a red R, but multicoloured. Reds, yellows, greens and blues, one colour transforming into the other.
Rainbow Rocket Giovanni rolled up a sleeve. In doing so, he revealed not just the fact that his arm was so heavily tattooed that his skin colour could not be seen, but more importantly, the Mega Bracelet enclosed around his wrist.
‘Giovanni?’ N questioned, as the man in question approached, coming to a stop beside Mewtwo. ‘W-What are you doing here?’
The realisation that an already bad situation had just gotten worse caused N’s voice to crack. Which in turn made Ghetsis smirk. N was afraid. Good.
‘I just so happened to meet Ghetsis, while recruiting Team Break members,’ Giovanni explained. The apparently leaderless team had been like a gift for him. Already organised, already with their own Pokemon, all they needed was someone to take them under their wing. Someone to guide them.
And who better than Giovanni?
‘He told me all about his plans. And if he’s able to get his hands on your Zekrom, then that works out perfectly for me.’
In just getting him this far, this Ghetsis had already proven himself to be much more useful than the one he had already met and recruited into Rainbow Rocket. But, Giovanni was a smart man. He knew that the Rainbow Rocket Ghetsis had already tried to manipulate him, and was absolutely prepared for the current Ghetsis to try and do the same. Ghetsis no doubt had his own hidden agenda, but he was certainly not the only one.
‘Yes, so I should thank you for gathering these pawns, and sharing your information with me,’ Ghetsis smirked. ‘I’ll be sure to return the favour. Now, our preparations are complete! I will soon possess a legendary that combines two powers!’
‘No…!’ Nate gasped.
‘The fusion of Kyurem and Zekrom…’ N murmured, the memories of the exact same thing happening before flying through his mind.
‘Watch this moment closely!’ Ghetsis cried out, as he approached the trapped Zekrom, Giovanni keeping close behind him.
‘Zekrom!’ N called.
‘Ghetsis, don’t do it!’ Nate added. He knew too well that there was no way Ghetsis would listen, but without his Pokemon and badly outnumbered, there was not much else he could do.
‘Kyurem! Absorb Zekrom, use Absofusion!’ Ghetsis ordered, an unhinged, determined grin set upon his face.
‘Now’s my chance,’ Giovanni quietly said, watching the scene intently. He snapped his fingers. ‘Do it.’
Mewtwo reappeared, floating in the gap between the two other legendaries, facing Kyurem down.
‘What the -?’ Nate spluttered. N looked similarly taken aback.
‘They stopped them from fusing?’ he questioned, not entirely certain whether he believed what he was seeing.
‘What do you think you’re doing?’ Ghetsis spat, glowering at Giovanni. He slammed his cane on the ground again. ‘Giovanni!’
‘Well, you see… I too have a plan,’ Giovanni replied. ‘I know how you operate, Ghetsis. Perhaps a little too well, and the way I see it, once you have both of these legendaries under your command, your next move will be to secure more pawns to make use of. And as these Team Break members answer to me, I know that it’d be me you target next.’
Ghetsis remained silent, teeth bared. As Giovanni observed him, he could see that he had been completely right. Granted, it would not have been out of character for Ghetsis to lie, and claim he had nothing of the sort planned, but he surmised Ghetsis would only have done that if he were calmer. And the ex Plasma leader, as he was currently, looked apoplectic with rage.
Ghetsis’ raging, hateful silence was the only answer Giovanni required.
‘So, I intend to take Kyurem and Zekrom before that can happen!’
‘How cunning,’ Ghetsis hissed. ‘But it’s too little, too late.’
More masked members of Team Break appeared, again, on Ghetsis’ cue, standing beside him, as Giovanni’s eyes widened, just for a second.
‘You are not the only one who has a talent for convincing people to join you,’ Ghetsis gloated. ‘I am more than capable of that, too! A faction of Team Break is already under my command!’
Oh, shit. This was not what Giovanni had in mind. He knew exactly what Ghetsis was planning, yet the son of a bitch still out-witted him!
Despite his inner panic, the Rainbow Rocket leader’s expression continued to be a smug grin, as though it was all a game they were playing. He would be damned if he was going to let Ghetsis know that he was rattled.
‘I guess I underestimated you after all,’ he admitted. ‘In that case… Mewtwo, get them!’
‘Rise! We must defeat Giovanni!’ Ghetsis roared.
‘...So they’ve broken their alliance,’ N mused, as more Pokemon were sent out. With the attention mostly taken off Zekrom, N felt he could breathe a little more easily. ‘...I suppose they were never actually allies in the first place…
‘I want to help Zekrom, but there are way too many Pokemon over there…’ Nate fretted.
Another new voice entered the fray, as a familiar Volcarona appeared over N’s head, striking the Team Break Pokemon. As they were knocked out, N and Nate spun around on their heels to see the former champion, Alder Castillo, striding forward. He was staring directly at Ghetsis, his expression set into a look of grim determination, with a young redhead behind him.
‘Alder! Silver!’ Nate greeted, a wave of relief washing through him to have some backup.
‘I had an unpleasant feeling that something bad would happen,’ Alder stated. The sensation of foreboding had been with him ever since he learnt Ghetsis was back. He knew that N had been ambivalent about forgiving him, and having a proper father and son relationship with the man again. And Alder did not want to completely squash his hopes of that happening. He had been direct with stating that he did not trust Ghetsis, but seeing the look of utter defeat in the young boy’s eyes, Alder had to wonder just what he had missed. That maybe he had not been severe enough. Perhaps he should have explicitly told N not to trust his despicable excuse for a “father”, even for the faintest fraction of a second. ‘I’m glad we made it in time. We took care of the Team Break members at the entrance, but reinforcements are on their way right now! We need to get out of here!’
Silver, the young redhead, was not paying any attention to Alder. Nor was he even paying any attention to Ghetsis. No, his gaze was firmly on Giovanni, and his expression was one of hatred.
‘Oh?’ Giovanni questioned, glancing over. He was uncertain how to react, so he kept the same usual smug demeanour. This boy was not his Silver, but was a Silver. And clearly things had gone the same way between him and his Giovanni, as they had in the Rainbow Rocket leader’s timeline.
‘I have more important things to worry about right now, than him,’ Silver declared, without giving one single fuck about the fact that his voice was loud enough for Giovanni to hear. Not that Giovanni seemed bothered. He was used to it from his own Silver. ‘Come on, hurry up!’
Now freed, N turned back to the rest of the group to see Zekrom land before him.
‘I’m so glad you’re okay…’ he murmured, relief sparkling in his eyes.
‘Let’s get out of here,’ Nate urged.
Sensing that the situation was no longer in their favour, the Team Break grunts who had followed Ghetsis began to retreat, much to his annoyance.
‘Tch… Worthless fools,’ he growled.
‘Now that a former champion has arrived, I suppose I have no choice but to give up on Zekrom,’ Giovanni decided. For now. ‘Kyurem, on the other hand, will be mine.’
‘I warned you before…’ Ghetsis started, his voice dripping with rage, before suddenly ramping up to a scream, ‘NOT TO UNDERESTIMATE ME!’
The cane struck the ground, as Kyurem roared. Alder winced at the noise, but Giovanni seemed unbothered. A snap of his fingers later, and he was gone, along with Mewtwo. Alder glanced back, seeing N approach, and noticed how the boy looked mentally exhausted. It was no surprise, Alder guessed that N must felt like he had been put through the wringer.
Because he had been. He was about to speak up, to try and reach out to N, when Nate interrupted with another insistence that they should leave. He was right, the less time they spent in the cave, the better. Giovanni might have been gone, but there was still Ghetsis to contend with.
N stopped before he reached Alder and Nate. And, without breathing a word, he turned his back, and strode over to his father.
‘...What?’ Ghetsis questioned, a look of annoyed confusion on his face. N refused to clarify, but stayed by his side.
‘What are you doing? Just leave him!’ Silver irritably told N.
‘Yes, what are you doing?’ Ghetsis agreed, clearly as baffled as his son’s friends.
‘...I want to save Kyurem, regardless of whose Pokemon it is. Even if that means I have to help you...’ N finally answered, without looking at any of them. Part of him had to wonder what the hell he was doing, siding up with Ghetsis, after how Ghetsis had betrayed him, insulted him, and openly laughed about it. He told himself that he was not doing this for Ghetsis’ sake, or even his own.
This was for Kyurem.
‘...I won’t call you my father, Ghetsis.’ That was fine with the Plasma leader. His skin always crawled when that word left N’s mouth. Disgusting. N turned and looked at him. ‘But if you co-operate, I’ll help you get out of this!’
‘I see. Very well. That’s convenient for me,’ Ghetsis replied. No “thank you”, but of course not. N had never gotten a “please” or a “thank you” from Ghetsis in his life, and he definitely did not expect that to change now. ‘Let’s take him down, N!’
‘N and Ghetsis, standing side by side…’ Nate muttered. The idea left him unsettled. It was wrong. He brought the Pokeball with his unconscious Braviary in it up to his mouth, whispering to it, as he used a revive. ‘Just a little longer, we need to help N…’
‘Hey!’ Silver called out, as Nate and Braviary took off.
‘It’s too late to stop them. Let’s just make sure that they have a safe escape route,’ Alder told the redhead.
‘The plan is to hold off Mewtwo until he can’t come after you any more, alright?’ N told his father.
‘Yes,’ Ghetsis crisply agreed.
‘Well, why don’t we put it to the test?’ Giovanni questioned, as he was joined by his own Team Break grunts again, now they had recovered from the previous fight. ‘Let’s see what your little father-son team up can do!’
Nate’s Braviary, and the two other legendaries opposing Giovanni started the battle, fighting ferociously against the Rainbow Rocket leader and his underlings. It was not long until it was just the legendaries against each other, and with Mewtwo outnumbered, it was Giovanni’s team that fell.
‘...Hmph, I suppose that does surpass my expectations,’ he reluctantly confessed.
‘After him!’ Ghetsis then commanded.
‘No! You remember what I said earlier, don’t you?! We’re getting out of here!’ N countered.
‘What?’ Ghetsis hissed, angry that N spoke back to him. But he could see that this time, N was not going to be moved. ‘Fine.’
‘Too bad,’ Giovanni said to himself, as the others left. ‘This would have been so much easier had you stayed here...’ He glanced to the cave exit. ‘Go after them.’
Giovanni had assumed that it was just him, Mewtwo, and his underlings left. That the others had all left with Ghetsis and N. So he was surprised when he saw himself suddenly face to face with his son.
‘That’s enough. Your plan failed,’ Silver glared. ‘Let them go, or else!’
To Giovanni’s surprise, the Pokemon that Silver released was none other than Ho-Oh.
When did Silver obtain a legendary of his own? Giovanni thought, as Ho-Oh flapped its wings and released a loud cry.
‘...Change of plans,’ Giovanni decided, recalling Mewtwo. ‘We’re leaving.’
His decision confused his underlings, who had been readying themselves for another fight.
‘B-But sir…?’ one hesitantly questioned.
‘The more people you command, the harder it is to control them. I think learning that much is enough for today,’ Giovanni replied. He tilted his head, glancing to the side at Silver. ‘Besides… I’m very pleased by what I’ve seen today.’
Silver pulled a face, and blinked. Was Giovanni complimenting him? For standing up to him? Obtaining Ho-Oh? But once the shock quickly wore off, his expression turned back to angry. He was not going to be taken in, be swayed by Giovanni’s words! This man had no idea who Silver was, if he thought a few pretty words could appease him.
It was probably a lie, anyway.
Silver headed outside the cave again, where the rest of the group - unfortunately, still including Ghetsis - were waiting for him.
‘I think they’ve stopped coming after us now,’ Silver declared, without offering any explanation as to why he had stayed behind. None of them needed to know about him challenging Giovanni. Or what Giovanni had said to him.
‘I see. In that case…’ Alder pointedly looked back at Ghetsis.
‘You want to come after me, now? I can’t allow that to happen,’ he warned. ‘Perhaps we can come to a truce for today. What do you think, N?’
‘...I know that you haven’t changed, at all,’ N said, and Alder was relieved. He had been concerned that siding with Ghetsis to protect him might have caused N to start reconsidering, again. He wanted nothing more than for N to have a father he could be happy with, but as long as his father was Ghetsis, that was just not possible. ‘If you do anything to harm the people or Pokemon here, I will be the first in line to stop you!’
‘I’ll keep that in mind,’ Ghetsis replied, tone thick with sarcasm. Clearly he did not believe N to be a big enough threat to him. ‘Then, farewell.’
‘Wait, Ghetsis!’ Nate then called. Ghetsis paused, not turning back around to face them, but instead peered over his shoulder, to see what Nate wanted. ‘I hate you. I’ll never forget what you did in Unova! But you’re still N’s father! You raised him, and spent all those years together!’
Ghetsis had no idea where Nate was going with his tangent, and neither did N. N’s childhood had been spent cooped up inside one room. A very spacious room, admittedly, but still locked away from the rest of the world, and fed only whatever information Ghetsis deemed worthy of him knowing. As much as N longed for change, he was no longer blind to the horrendous circumstances that stole his childhood.
So why was Nate bringing it up?
‘Are you really going to say you felt nothing when the two of you were fighting side by side?!’ Nate demanded. ‘It’s not too late to change your ways! Please, at least think about it!’
Oh. N braced himself. He was certain that Ghetsis was going to scoff, laugh hysterically at such a ridiculous notion, and he knew it was going to hurt.
‘Nate…’ N began.
‘Ghetsis!’ Nate repeated, when he got no reply. And N’s heart sunk to his stomach, when sure enough, Ghetsis began to chuckle. At last, he turned back properly to face them, and erupted with laughter.
‘You naive fool! Our relationship is nothing more than that between a master and his tools! What happened here changes nothing!’ he barked, before turning his evil scarlet gaze onto N. ‘As long as I can keep using you, I don’t care what you call our relationship! I do whatever I please! I am not your ally, not your friend, and I am certainly not your father!’
In unison, N and Nate both tugged on the brims of their headwear. Nate in embarrassment, and upset for N, and N to try and cover his face. He was attempting to be as expressionless as he could, but the hurt shone in his eyes.
‘How dare you -!’ Silver began, readying to go into a full force rant.
‘Despicable,’ Alder quickly interjected, unwilling to let the youngster draw too much of Ghetsis’ attention. ‘You’re the one without a heart!’
‘If that’s all,’ Ghetsis sneered, their anger and words bouncing off him. With another - but more sardonic - farewell, Ghetsis was whisked away by Kyurem, leaving them free of him at last.
‘I had a bad feeling this might happen,’ Alder sighed. ‘N, my apologies. I think I should have stopped you before you went to help him.’
‘Don’t apologise,’ N said, to Alder and Nate. ‘It was my decision. Please, don’t be sad on my behalf.’
‘...Nate, are you crying again?’ Silver questioned. He looked embarrassed.
‘You truly have a kind heart,’ N gently told Nate, ‘one that resonates with others. You got angry for the people of Unova, you yelled at Ghetsis for me… and now, you’re even crying for me...’
‘I can’t help it! It’s just all so messed up!’ Nate wept. ‘You’re not asking for anything special! You just want a normal relationship with the man you call your father! It’s not asking for much! Why can’t you have that too?!’
‘Nate… It’s okay.’ It was a lie, but a lie told for N’s own sake as well as Nate’s. Right now, he felt like being strong for his friend distracted him from his own pain. ‘I may not have a father, but I have good friends like you.’
‘N…’ Nate sniffled.
‘Yeah, you can survive without a father,’ Silver chimed in, and N nodded in agreement.
I’m blessed to be surrounded by such kind people and Pokemon. That’s enough for me. I suppose… a father figure was just never meant to be.
...But it was nice to hope for it.
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