The door of my rented room in the Pokemon Center slammed shut behind me, collapsing the room in a wall of darkness, as I hadn't yet turned on the light. I collapsed against the wall, sliding into a ball of trembling fingers and shaking breaths. A thin line of light revealed the colors of the carpet and the tips of my shoes, quickly blurred by panicked tears.
I came to Alola to try and recover, and out of literally nowhere, all of this responsibility crashed down on me like a waterfall. It hadn't been but three weeks since I had been out of the asylum-- Oh right, mental institution was the proper word-- when I had moved to Melemele Island. I didn't even really want to do the island challenge, I was pressured to by not only Hau but Kukui. And Kukui knew! He knew what I had been through. I appreciated the sentiment-- trying to broaden my horizons and all-- But I don't want a bigger world. I want quiet.
And now, these folks were expecting me to singlehandedly take on Team fucking Skull. I was just a kid... Why did it have to be me?
A knock at the door.
It was Hau.
"Faith, we need to go, okay? Gladion is getting impatient... I'm worried about you, running off like that..." He said through the door, and I could hear the urgency in his voice. I growled, standing up and throwing the door open.
"Well, what do you expect?" I barked, voice hardly as steady as I willed for it to be. "What do you WANT from me, Hau? Gladion?!" I glared at the blonde kid, who leaned against the wall across from my door, looking at a pokeball. "I'm not a hero! I'm... I'm not even supposed to be an island challenger! I'm just Faith!" I choked on my words, biting the inside of my cheek to force down the tears. "I can't help you anymore... Po Town, it..." I brought a hand to my face, shielding it from them as the dam broke. "...It... God..." I turned away.
Hau tried to grab my wrist and I lost it. I turned around and cracked the back of my hand across his face. He hit the ground in a flash of color, eyes-- innocent, brown eyes-- wide in shock and horror. Gladion stared with equally wide eyes, mouth agape as he watched me stand there and stare in horror at what I had done.
"Leave me alone." I croaked out. "I'm not a hero, okay, I'M NOT A HERO! CALL THE FUCKING COPS, IT'S A KIDNAPPING, THEY CAN HELP YOU I CAN'T I CAN'T I CAN'T DO IT!" I slammed the door behind me and broke into a mess of hysteric sobs. I locked the door and collapsed onto my bed, letting all the stress and frustration of these past few weeks break.
I remembered Guzma's words to me.
"See, you don't even know why you're doing it, stupid girl!"
I want to go home... But I didn't know where home was anymore.
Po Town felt familiar in the worst way. It felt like a prison that the grunts were making the most of. It felt like the mental institution. The giant walls encasing us, the rain pouring down so hard it made it hard to see, the thunder clapping overhead. It filled me with disgust... it disturbed me.
I jumped when every grunt who challenged me shouted at me. Whittle looked at me with concern-- she knew something was off. She was a therapy pokemon, of course she did. Despite hating to get her feathers wet, she hopped along next to me, outstretching her wing anytime she thought I might need it.
The grunts... were weirded out by that. Some understood. One grunt nodded in understanding-- he had once used a therapy pokemon too.
I was thankful for a moment to reach the mansion. Thankful that I was away from the rain and I could dry Whittle off without it being pointless, and then filled with a deep horror at the place. It felt like a padded cell. It felt like the room I slept in at Pinnacle. It felt like a goddamn nightmare.
The grunts-- the bright colors of them both unnerved and fascinated me. The notes were like death sentences. The dishevelled look of the place, the blocked off exits-- it was like the nightmares I'd had about the hospital. I half expected to turn around and see myself in the blue, cotton pajamas they'd given me-- hair soaked as it always was this time of night, and bleeding at the wrists and throat.
The worst of it was actually seeing the boss again. I wanted to drop down to my knees and cry and tell him he was right. I wanted to throw down that island challenge amulet at his feet and beg for another way out. I wanted to lead these grunts out of this place like Moses led the Jews to Jerusalem.
But I didn't. I stared at him, hair and clothes soken wet and sticking to my body and I said: "I'm here for the Pokemon." Because I was a hero, right? That's what I was supposed to do. And we battled, and I watched myself reflected in Golisopod's eyes, seeing mine so dull and lifeless.
When he left, and when I was certain he was gone, I collapsed. Whittle was at my side in seconds, helping me to stand back up and hobbling with me to the throne. As soon as I was sat down and attempting to gather my bearings again, that grunt came in.
The poor boy.
He spoke to me, yelling something about me "not being his boss, homie", and I clocked him across the face, my last two knuckles nailing him straight in the eye. He didn't gave time to pull out his pokeballs before I had him on the floor, pinned under my weight, beating the living hell out of him.
Whittle was the one who brought me back to earth, talons digging into my shoulders hard enough to draw blood and wings beating into the air as she attempted to pull me off. I heard myself sobbing, loud hysteric sobbing, and voices mumbling in discreet panic outside. The grunt looked dead-- and for a moment I was horrified that I had killed him. But, no, he had simply passed out. I fell back onto the floor and scrambled to my feet, rushing out of that room so quickly I thought I'd fall off of the rain-slick balcony.
The talon marks on my shoulders would go on to scar, and still remain in little white crescents on my shoulder blades.