Slowly, Nando woke up in what appeared to be a bathroom, though the walls and floor were covered in dust and grime.
It was obvious, even to the ten year old that the place was abandoned, but wasn’t sure exactly where he was. There were a lot of abandoned buildings in his hometown, and even if there weren’t, it raised the question of how he got here.
He knew he didn’t come here willingly; he’d never go to a place like this!
Wait, now it was starting to come back to him…
He was on his way to get his very first Pokémon from Professor Rowan; he was visiting his hometown being it was one of the poorer places.
He was in a hurry, skipping breakfast to get there, though it wasn’t so much his excitement or running late…
Tears stung his eyes as he recalled the argument his parents had the night before, the walls not thick enough to hide their accusations to one another. And this morning, while they weren’t screaming at each other, his grandmother made things worse with him.
He shivered in a mix of fear and realization of how cold he was.
Someone took his clothes, leaving only his boxers on, tears beginning to flood his eyes once more as he feared what would happen.
He looked around more, seeing he had been tied, no chained to a toilet.
The very thought of his vulnerable position, where he sat, it made his bladder quiver with need, remembering he forgot to take care of business before leaving home.
“Mommy…Dad…” he cried softly, wanting to go home.
He wanted to see them again; he wanted to be in a warm bed, given plenty of hugs and kisses, hot meals to fill his empty stomach. And most of all relieve himself with some dignity than ruining his boxers.
He had to go so badly, but knew if he went while like this, his grandmother would have a few choice words to say. He could hear it now…
“You stupid child! Pissing yourself like some retard? No wonder your parents fight so much! If your parents had the sense to get rid of you when you were young, or even before you were born, things would be so much easier. They wouldn’t have to stay together. You’re just holding them both back, making them miserable.”
Tears flowed faster as he thought more of what else his grandmother would tell him, going on and on about how pathetic he is. That it’s his fault his parents are so miserable, that he was just a mistake, lying about how much they love him.
“Not only are you a complete waste, but you waste their money with your obsession with music! Playing various instruments, a harp for Arceus sakes! Are you some Arceus damned queer? And then to decide to become a trainer? What dreamland are you living in, boy?”
He tried telling her he wasn’t, that he loved music and all the instruments he played were because he wanted to make people happy. And becoming a trainer, he could travel, learn more music and make more people happy.
Just arguing with the crotchety old hag earned him not only a slap across the face, but a good caning for a good ten minutes. He could barely sit down and if his parents asked, he’d foolishly lie, afraid they wouldn’t believe him.
Normally the child was very loving and caring, but he hated his grandmother with every fiber of his being.
She was so cruel to him, treating him so horribly, acting as if she was superior to him.
She even tormented his poor father, and he couldn’t do a thing, his wife, Nando’s mother, blinded with innocence of her mother’s cruelty.
The old hag was a pro hiding her real face, something Nando wished he could do, so he wouldn’t worry his parents any more.
After years of verbal and physical abuse from the woman, he felt like he was ready to snap, scared he’d do something regrettable.
He didn’t want to make his parents sad anymore, actually believing he was the cause for their misery, that his grandmother was right.
That’s why he wanted to become a trainer, he could get away from it all, leave his parents, the evil hag, leave it all behind. If he did, his parents could do what they want, not having to worry about supporting him. He would support himself, battling trainers, earning money, living off fish and berries the school taught him and other future trainers.
He knew his parents loved him, yet they could barely stand each other, namely because of his father’s mistakes.
His mother was a successful business woman, things going wonderful for her, even after meeting her husband and later having him. Things only went downhill between his father’s gambling and her job going out of business. Since then, she hadn’t been able to find another job due to her mother, his grandmother falling ill.
There were so many bills, so many different colored sheets of paper that always made his parents sad. Green, pink, sometimes yellow and white, they made him sad too.
His father used to be a gambler, but after so many losses, he had gotten into a huge debt with some group, Team Rocket if he remembers. He barely paid it all back, scared of those goons hurting his family.
He remembered how one of those thugs leered at him, he didn’t know why, but it made him feel so filthy. He hid behind his father, shaking so badly he was close to crying. He was only four at the time, yet the memory was vivid.
His parents always praised him on his excellent memory, spoiling him with love and gifts of new music sheets he could practice from. He didn’t need new instruments; he had a few at home, a harp, violin, cello, and guitar. But the harp was his all-time favorite.
He hoped that by leaving, they would finally be happy; either splitting up or work things out, not having to worry about him anymore.
What would make things really nice is if the old hag finally kicked it, if he found out, he silently swore to come to her grave and dance on it. He would throw insults and yell and scream all he’d like at her gravestone, even spit at it as she’s done to him.
Of course, he’d do it when it’s dark out, his parents, his mother particularly wasn’t around so not to make her sad.
A noise caught his attention, nearly making him wet himself as a man dressed oddly came in, a mask covering his face. The mask reminded him of a Yamask’s mask, making him start shaking harder, pressing his knees together so not to have an accident.
Taking notice of the boy not only awake, but looking so desperate, a sigh could be heard from behind the mask.
“I don’t need to do that experiment, it’s been done already,” the masked man scolded lightly, his voice slightly muffled.
“Pl-please, let me go, I won’t tell anyone, please!” the boy begged, unable to hold it together as he began to cry again.
He could feel his boxers grow warm and wet, making him sob harder, hiccupping as he tried begging the man to let him ago.
A sharp slap across the face shut him up instantly, staring with wide eyes at the other, knowing he must be glaring through the mask.
“Stop that fucking crying! It’s just piss!”
Sniffling, Nando wasn’t able to comply, nose dripping as he continued sobbing away, hanging his head low.
“Why mean? I didn’t do anything wrong,” he wailed loudly, “I wanna go back home. I wanna go back to my Mommy and Dad!”
“Shut up for fucks sakes!” the masked man snarled, delivering a punch this time to the boy’s stomach, making him cough hard, spit dribbling out.
If he hadn’t been so securely restrained, the child would’ve fallen over, clutching his poor stomach, curling up into a tight little ball.
Appearing to calm down some, the man lifted the boy’s chin up slightly, staring him right in the eye, though the other couldn’t see his face, not even his eyes.
“If you’re a good boy, you’ll get to go home. But you gotta stop crying; you’re a big boy, aren’t you?”
Sniffling still, he gave a trembling nod, dark eyes glittering with hope of being released soon if he obeyed.
“Very good,” the man chuckled darkly as he stepped away to fiddle with things he brought, leaving the boy to his own thoughts.
Nando hung his head, feeling so dirty, unsure if it was because he had peed himself or it was something else.
He heard the man muttering things about what he was going to do, hearing him talking about how he was to perform various experiments on people’s greatest fears. He wanted to see how they’d react under the pressure, if they’d fight it, conquering it, or succumb to the fear, either dying or going insane.
The child immediately recalled how he had been strictly told by his parents he wasn’t to go alone to get his Pokémon. It had been because there was a serial killer running loose, and the few that did escape had to be locked up, having gone insane.
Because of the danger, he was told to either wait for them to finish their paperwork or call a friend for their parents to pick him up and take him.
Of course, he never told them he had no friends, he was scared to have friends, afraid they’d want to come over. He was afraid how they’d judge his broken but loving home, his stressed parents, his wicked grandmother…
If things had gone differently, where he arrived safely, not somehow kidnapped by a serial killer, his parents would find out his stupid mistake.
They would fetch him, scold him, probably spank him; both of them, maybe even the professor too for his foolishness. They may even delay his going out on a Pokémon adventure, to make sure he learned his lesson.
He would give anything for that than what might be happening, what will happen here.
“I’ve been watching you for a bit, you seem to have a huge love for music, yet you seem to try and hide from certain sounds. Such as your parents arguing or that hag calling you names.”
The boy froze, staring with wide eyes, shaking visibly with a new wave of tears flooding his eyes.
He knew his lifestyle? Knew how broken his family is?
What was he going to do to him? Would he go after his parents next?
“I wonder, how you would react if you went completely deaf?” the man questioned, almost teasing the boy as he pulled up a chair.
Setting things up, the man sat down, a notepad and pencil in hand, tapping it lightly, obviously ready to write down notes.
“I expect you to answer truthfully. If you don’t, I’ll be sure to punish you severely. I doubt you’d like to get the same punishment your granny gives you, but far worse than a cane smacking your little rump.”
Shaking his head swiftly, the child let out a small whimper as he squirmed uncomfortably, his boxers becoming cold and sticky.
“Now, are you afraid of going deaf?” the man asked, the child swearing he’s grinning under that horrible mask.
“Yes, I’m afraid…I-I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t hear…” the child whimpered, squirming harder against his bindings. “Please let me go! Just take my word for it, there’s no need to experiment on me. Please, I’m begging you!”
“I would, but then it wouldn’t be very fair to my previous test subjects. They all had to face their fears, so must you, my dear boy.”
“Oh Arceus, no, please don’t! I’m begging you. Don’t take away my hearing, please!” Nando begged, his voice shrill as he cried harder.
He didn’t want to lose his hearing, it was his hearing, it was most prized treasure next to a pretty harp his parents got him for his tenth birthday.
How could he play music if he can’t hear?
How could he make people happy if he can’t hear?
What would his parents do if he can’t hear?
Would they still love him? Would they realize how pathetic he is and throw him away?
Would he even survive the ordeal? By some miracle manage to retain his hearing?
Ignoring the child’s sobs and begging, the masked man got up after writing things down, placing strange looking headphones over his struggling head.
They looked like earmuffs, but when set on his head, they were uncomfortably tight, making him cry harder by how quiet things became. There were still some sounds, but it was so hard to hear, most of it was the man walking about, shuffling things around.
The silence, even if it wasn’t completely silent, it was enough to make the boy feel ill, bile starting to rise in his throat.
His heart was pounding hard in his tiny chest, threatening to burst out from the sheer terror he felt.
So focused on trying to listen, Nando let out a small yelp as cold pads or something were stuck to various parts of his body.
He didn’t understand any of this, making him shake harder and somehow feel urine escape him a second time.
He heard muffled mumbling, unable to make anything out before seeing him hit a switch, sounds much clearer as he sat down.
“Can you hear me?”
“What I did now was to help detect your heartrate in the duration of the experiment,” the man explained calmly, as if the child simply volunteered. “However, it is high right now; I need you to calm down. If you don’t, I may be forced to take drastic measures, which may ruin the research, thus making you suffer greatly for it.”
A small whimper was heard; a dripping sound as the boy peed again, obviously having not fully emptied himself earlier.
“I expect you to calm down within fifteen minutes.”
“H-how can I calm down? My life is on the line, my hearing’s on the line!” the child mentally screamed, scared if he vocalized it, he’d get punished.
He could hear frantic beeping, the noise annoying him, soon realizing it was his frantic heartbeat matching his terror.
Nearly ten minutes passed, almost looking like it wouldn’t slow down, the child finally managed to calm himself. He started to think positive things, praying it was all a horrible dream, that his dream world would be reality and this would fade away.
He thought about enjoying life, traveling Sinnoh with his very own Pokémon, meeting all sorts of Pokémon and people. The battles he’d have, playing music for all to hear, to see them smiling, knowing he’s the cause…
“Perfect,” the man smiled behind his mask.
He could see the boy was in a dreamlike trance, knowing it’ll end soon enough, but pleased to know it got his heartrate back to normal.
It was like having a clean slate, knowing with the boy like this, his experiment should go without a hitch.
“Now we may finally begin. I’ll be holding cards up to explain what happens since I’ll have to do this.”
The boy snapped back into reality when a sharp click was heard, everything returning to that muffled silence.
Looking around frantically, doe like eyes wide and alert, he saw the man holding up a card, seeing something had been written on it.
You will now be experiencing different sound frequencies.
Before he could try to question what he meant, Nando let out a sharp cry as a high pitched noise rattled through his skull. It continued to increase in volume, driving him nearly insane with each passing second.
He was screaming and crying, begging the man to stop, his voice growing hoarse, his wheezing and panting similar to a rabid Houndour on its deathbed.
Why him? Why him of all people? Why did this man pick him, a defenseless child?
What purpose could he have for this fucked up experiment?
There was no way the Pokémon League here or anywhere would allow something like this to happen. No university would allow such horrors to be performed, not if this is what they’d be forced through.
The torturous exercises continued, the frequencies going on from seconds to minutes, from low volumes to painfully high sounds. Some sounds were different, going from a whining noise like a microphone being tested to what could’ve been rainwater.
Breaks were given in between, though when they happened, they were almost just as painful as those horrid noises would be cut off instantly.
Every time it happened, he’d be panting, finding he was holding his breath; his tiny hands curled so tight, nails dug into the palms.
The latest one though, he panicked, thinking he couldn’t hear anymore before a faint noise could be heard.
Tears of joy cascaded down the child’s face, realizing he could still indeed hear, that there might be hope for him yet.
He hung his head briefly before throwing it back, letting out a near insane laugh, his normally sweet voice filled with sobs and hacking cackles.
Calming down, he gave the man a begging look, praying it was over; managing to speak despite his voice horribly muffled, but heard no less.
“Pl-please, please let me go… No more, no more…”
He watched, his hope rising by the way the man sat, thinking he was either done or finally grew a heart.
He eagerly waited as the man wrote something down, though when it was turned to his direction, his heart fell to the pit of his stomach.
Can’t end it now. We’re at the final stage of the experiment. Shame that there’s no way around it. Oh well, that’s science for you. Sacrifices have to be made.
All hope to escape with his hearing, possibly even surviving left him completely.
The boy began begging loudly, screaming for him to not hurt him, that he won’t tell, that he’ll do anything he wants if it meant keeping his hearing and life.
Seeing something appear, the child felt his blood run cold, letting out a terrified shriek as he thrashed wildly on the toilet.
The man appeared to laugh at him, setting the weapon down on the edge of a tub as he adjusted some switches. Like that, any sound he could hear was gone, making all his previous efforts not to vomit ending.
Despite not eating all day, he still made quite a mess, the acidic taste lingering in his mouth, though it was the least of his worries.
The man sat back down, still laughing at him judging the way his body moved, a hand over his chest.
After calming down, he wrote something else, and when it was facing the petrified child, he wished the gun would be used to kill him.
I’m not going to kill you. How would that serve with my experiment if I killed you before it’s over?
Another, click echoed in one ear, hearing things he didn’t hear before, between the dripping from his vomit to the painfully loud heart monitor.
Before he could react, the man pulled the gun out, firing a shot near the child’s head, the side that could hear.
The sound between it leaving the chamber to colliding into the tiled wall was too much for the tiny ear drum. It burst open, blood flooding the canal and pooling into the headphone as the world in that ear went silent.
Nando was screaming in agony, the pain unbearable, struggling to escape, barely taking notice of the other ear being able to hear until the second shot went off.
As before, the drum broke, trapping a once happy child in a terrifying silent world.
“Mommy! Daddy! Help! Mommy! Mommy!” he screamed as loud as he could, yet the sound never reached his broken ears.
As he thrashed and flailed, screaming insanely, the masked man calmly sat down, taking notes of the boy’s reaction.
Nando wasn’t sure how long he had been screaming or when he passed out, his small body unable to take the shock, adrenaline crashing, he woke up in a brightly lit room.
At first thinking it was a horrible dream, he moved his mouth, attempting to speak, to call for his parents, only he heard nothing.
Tears flooded his eyes, realizing this was no dream, it was real, it was all real.
He couldn’t hear anymore, he’s alive, but he can’t hear, making him wish he was dead.
“Mommy…” he whimpered again, knowing he can’t hear, making him go into a hysterical fit, thrashing wildly in the bed.
He continued screaming for his mother, for his father, his adrenaline returning to tear up a pillow, kick blankets, a vase thrown, anything he could get his hands on thrown.
In his crazed daze, he saw bodies run in, screaming as some restrained him, not realizing these were doctors trying to help him.
Outside his room, the parents stood, the boy’s father hugging his wife as she sobbed into his chest, hearing their precious son screaming for them.
When they learned he left, they were furious for disobeying him, driving quickly down to where the professor was. They were ready to give their child an earful, willing to ground him for at least a month, maybe two for going off on his own.
Yet when they arrived, he wasn’t there, learning he never arrived. They waited and waited, but he never showed, even the professor worried.
Police were called, the frantic parents scared their child was lost, possibly abducted.
Nearly three days passed, the police scouring the town and woods for the missing boy, volunteers sent out to help find him.
When word came the child was found, the parents were so thrilled only to begin weeping when learning he was in the hospital.
He was stable, yet at the same time, unstable mentally that is…
They learned he had been found in an abandoned house, the poor child left to rot on the toilet seat, the chains biting into his delicate skin.
He had a rash from where he soiled himself, not that any could blame him for what he went through, bruises from the punch he received and slaps he had gotten.
But what horrified the parents more, after begging Officer Jenny to tell them what happened, was the trance like state the child was in. He didn’t take notice of anyone, not even flinching when bolt cutters were used to free him.
They discovered his blood caked ears, bullet holes in the tiles, revealing why he didn’t react to their presence, why he didn’t call for help when they were calling for him. Their fears only confirmed when doctors properly examined him, explaining the damage and minor infections he obtained because of it.
The damage was irreversible, tearing the parents apart, learning their child lost his most prized possession, his hearing.
Eventually the broken mother came back to reality, lifting her head up to see that her mother had at some point shuffled into Nando’s room.
From where she stood, the old woman appeared sad about what happened to her grandson, breaking the mother’s heart further.
Walking over, seeing her child barely awake, having been sedated to make him more docile, restraints strapped to his tiny wrists and ankles.
Just as she reached the doorway, she stopped, her blood running cold as she listened to her mother. She barely took notice of her husband coming up behind her, not even flinching when he placed a hand on her shoulder.
“You stupid child, now you can’t even hear. Serves you right, trying to go off to become some damned Pokémon trainer, thinking you could be one of those damned musicians. Neither would sustain you, just a waste of time and money. But now, oh now you really done it. Now your mamma and father will have to pay for all your medical bills. Maybe if you had died, had never been found, things would be easier. Better if you were never born to begin with…”
As the old woman snarled at the child, oblivious to her audience, she glared at the child, seeing he was completely ignoring her.
Not only did he not hear her because of what happened, but his mind was so far gone, he put himself in his own little dreamland. A land where all of his favorite sounds were there, making him happy, making him feel safe.
All his favorite songs, lullabies, people, laughter, every sound he loved hearing was there.
It was so wonderful here; he never wanted to leave…
“How…how could you say those things? He’s just a child, he’s my baby, your grandson!” the boy’s mother cried, her hands shaking with rage. “How could you say those hurtful things, to a child who did no wrong?”
“Because it is true, sweetie. He is nothing but a waste of space. All he did was daydream, play music and talk about Pokémon. He had no life; he had no career going for himself.”
“He isn’t a waste of space, he’s my baby! He’s my entire world!”
“You should’ve gotten rid of him when you first found you were pregnant. Hell, I should’ve put something your drink so you’d miscarry the little fag.”
“You…you’re the reason Nando is so depressed! You’re the one who gave him those bruises, aren’t you?”
“A child needs discipline when he back talks to his elders…”
“Get out!” she screamed, not worried of her child panicking as much as it broke her heart.
“What?” the elder woman gasped, having never seen her daughter so enraged with her before in all her years.
“You heard me, get out! Pack your bags and leave forever. I never want to see you again, I never want to see or hear of you near my family again, Nando especially.”
“A-Alice…my health is poor, you know that. I barely have enough money to pay for both my medication and doctor appointments.”
“I don’t care, you should’ve thought about that before you started making my baby’s life a living hell!” Alice seethed as she glared at her monster of a mother. “Now go.”
To emphasize her point, she thrusted her arm, pointing down the hall, her face stone cold, eyes blazing with rage.
Slowly, the old woman made her way down, the sounds of her shoes and sharp tap of her cane echoing.
“You’ll regret having that damnable child, Alice! He’s a dreamer, probably prefers men, disgusting child he is!”
“Fuck you!” she screamed just as the old woman stepped into the elevator, the doors closing behind her.
At that, the poor mother lost the strength in her legs, collapsing to her knees, drawing them up, sobbing heavily.
The entire time, her husband stood by, unable to say a word, not that he’d defend that wicked old hag. No, he could see that this was something his would have to deal with, let her vent her frustration out against someone who rightly deserves it.
Kneeling down, he pulled her into his arms, stroking her back gently, planting gentle kisses on her head, hushing her gently.
“Oh Arceus…” she hiccupped, face buried into his broad shoulder. “I’m so sorry for not believing you sooner. I’m so sorry Ronaldo…”
“It’s alright, honey, just forget about her. We need to focus on Nando now.”
Sniffling, she agreed, the pair sitting with their son, unsure how to help him now, knowing from now on, his life will become a struggle. He would have to learn hand signs, both reading and using them. Chances of him becoming a Pokémon trainer were practically gone, they were both sure. He wouldn’t be able to go on a journey as he had always dreamed of doing. He wouldn’t be able to challenge gyms, enter contests, do anything.
If he did get a Pokémon, it would have to be one already trained to handle him, but he’d be barred from battles.
Not only that, but he wouldn’t be able to perform music ever again, never to enjoy beautiful notes and voices of people and Pokémon alike.
He wouldn’t be able to enjoy the sounds of nature, hear voices of loved ones…
The very thought tore them up, knowing their child’s dreams were crushed.
“How could this happen to him? He’s just a little boy, our baby, what sick monster would do this to him? To anyone? Why?” Alice sobbed, face buried in her delicate hands.
Ronaldo stared sadly at her, wrapping an arm around her, pulling her close as they watched their dreaming child, seeing how peaceful he looked.
If it weren’t for the bandages and the reason being here, he’d almost think he was simply daydreaming as he’d often do.
Days later, the boy staying at the hospital for further care, his parents visiting every day, smothering him with love, a face appeared in the doorway.
The child was still very much in a daze, barely reacting to them, but recognized them enough to weep into their arms, begging for them not to leave when visiting hours ended.
He watched through glazed eyes as they talked with a man, unable to tell what they were talking about, so simply stared, eyes empty of life.
“Wait, you’re saying you might be able to help our son?” Alice gasped, almost not believing the man’s words.
“Yes, it won’t be easy, but if you three are willing, I’ll do everything I can to help you.”
“Why would you go to the trouble?”
“Your son reminds me of my daughter. She died a few years ago, but while he seems lost, I can tell before all this, he must’ve been a very happy child. What I couldn’t do to save my daughter, I can use to at least help your son.”
“Exactly how could you help him?” Rolando asked, not wanting to get ahead of themselves, not wanting false hope delivered.
“Before my daughter, Amber, died she had a terminal illness that would’ve required constant organ transplants. I had studied medicine at the time when I first learned of it, delving into cloning research. I had hoped that if I could clone healthy versions of her organs, then maybe one day I could find a cure for her. But alas, I didn’t move fast enough and lost her.”
“So you’re saying you could help Nando, by cloning his ears?”
“His eardrums specifically. It won’t be easy, they’re extremely fragile as is, so trying to clone and implant them will be harder. But I can do it if you give me time and your son is willing to go through with this. I can’t guarantee it’ll be painless, but I’m positive with all my heart that he will hear again.”
The two stared at one another; they were unsure, hesitant to believe something that seemed too good to be true.
“Take your time with this, talk to your son. This is his body, so it really should be his choice in the end,” the doctor explained, pulling out a card, handing it to the father. “Call me any time if you decide to take my offer.”
“Even if we did…how could we afford it?”
“Don’t worry about money, please. What he went through was inhumane; he doesn’t deserve to live this life, to live as if he’s been punished. It isn’t fair to make his last memory, the last thing he heard to be something terrifying.”
Understanding, they bid the man farewell, still unsure, so decided to speak with Nando once he showed more visible signs of his old self.
Years passed, the boy having come out of his shock, speaking with his parents through notecards much to his displeasure.
He learned that his kidnapper had never been caught, putting him a bit on edge, though because he wore a mask, felt slightly safe. While he heard his voice, he doubted he could ever find him again; it was muffled pretty well thanks to that awful thing.
He had been told of the possible surgery, telling him about the dangers involved, even bringing the doctor in to explain it better.
Yet in the end, Nando went for it, he wanted his hearing back, to hear his parents voices again, the sounds of bird Pokémon chirping, songs played on radios, etc.
He desperately wanted his old life back, to have things back to what they used to be.
Well, almost everything, he was happy to learn that his mother finally learned how evil her mother had been, kicking her out.
That would be another reason to want to hear again, he could finally enjoy sounds at home, no old hag harassing him.
Things could finally be perfect…
Eyes closed, Nando slowly opened them as he stared into the sky, a small smile on his face as Swablu and Starly flew overhead.
His hair once cut near to the scalp, parts shaved even when surgeries took place had grown back to its beautiful length and luster.
Bandages he wore over his ears to let them recover after surgeries, layer by layer they were finally removed.
Now all he had were specially designed ear plugs to help protect him if passing certain areas with loud noises. They let him hear enough, but protected his delicate hearing perfectly and no one would ever know.
Because of how it was done and the time it took to restore his hearing, they were very sensitive to overly loud noises. In some ways, his hearing was as sensitive as it was when he was first born or very close to it in the very least.
But as his hearing grew stronger and adjusted to louder noises at a reasonable pace, he was able to wear the plugs less and less.
Now when he did, it would only be during certain points, such as airstrips, not that he dared go near them. Embarrassingly enough, he was deathly afraid of flying, partly because of the loud noises and how one’s ears may pop from the pressure.
Regardless, thanks to the progress and help he got from the mysterious Dr. Fuji, his life could be considered normal now.
The man couldn’t help but smile, feeling almost like a giddy school girl as he thought back to his parents.
While he despised the man who nearly ruined his life, he was also grateful as they finally stopped fighting. They finally started working together, and most of all, his mother threw his grandmother to the streets, something he wished he could’ve listened.
Since his injury, while recovering from the miraculous surgeries and rehab, his parents love for one another was stronger than ever.
He’d get calls from them when he’d visit Pokémon Center’s on his journey. He’d get packages filled with new clothes or baked goods he’d share with his Pokémon.
It was rough learning how to hear again, recalling times kids picked on him, mostly older kids who became trainers, ready to leave for their journey. And if not them, it would be the younger kids thinking he was stupid.
He had been harassed by various adults, molested a few times even because he didn’t hear them coming up behind him. He had been lost and confused for so long, that when he was finally deemed ready to handle life on his own, not sheltered, he was so unsure of himself.
He dared not speak of the molestations with anyone, his parents especially; he didn’t need to worry them further. That, and whenever some guy or girl did touch him inappropriately, he always screamed. Therefore, people always came to his aid, wondering what made such a sweet looking boy, or in his case now, a handsome gentleman cry out as he did.
Pushing those bad memories out, focusing on the more pleasant ones, he stopped by a tree, leaning against it as he played his harp, humming a lovely tune.
The forest around him, while he loved many sounds, he grew to love peaceful things too, no longer fearing quiet places.
Because such quiet places are never so quiet, it simply takes a patient mind to listen and hear the simplest of sounds…
“Nando!” a voice called out, a voice he loved to hear.
Hell, any voice he heard he was happy to hear, but it was far more precious if the voice belonged to someone he cherished.
“Ash, Dawn, Brock, what a pleasure it is to see you three again,” the minstrel greeted politely, not once pausing in his melody.
Almost right after, the young boy began telling him about his latest badge, the girl butting in to share about a ribbon she recently won.
He couldn’t help but smile as they chattered excitedly, reminding him of himself in his younger days, how he’d tell his parents about what he’d learn in school.
A small snicker escaped him as the two suddenly were glaring at one another, not pleased for interrupting each other of their grand tales.
He hugged the harp close, the instrument being a precious gift he received from his parents before leaving on his journey.
He watched as Brock made attempts as did Pikachu and Piplup to break the youngsters apart, keep them from tearing at each other.
Than letting it go further, the man began to play a new tune, enough to make the pair stop, everyone listening as he sang a soft song. He picked a song off the top of his head, an old one his mother would sing him to sleep when he’d have nightmares.
Once he finished, hearing them clap at his performance along with several wild Pokémon cheering happily before departing.
Glancing at the skies once more, he turned to his friends, “May I suggest that we find shelter? I feel, almost hear a storm coming our way. I doubt any of us would care to get wet.”
“Good idea,” Dawn chirped happily, letting the older man lead the way to a nearby Pokémon Center.
Carefully, making it appear he was simply fixing his hair or hat, he tucked in his newest set of earbuds. They were clear, almost invisible to the naked eye, yet they blocked off most sound, but let enough in so he wouldn’t be completely deaf.
Over the years, he had learned to tell if someone was talking to him, either by their tone or the way they look, particularly at him. That way he’d know whether to make a comment or respond any potential questions sent his way.
He even learned how to read lips, albeit not perfectly, but good enough if more complicated questions were sent his way.
As if on cue, once safely indoors and settled, the storm broke out, earning him compliments for his prediction.
“Wow, you have an amazing hearing, Nando,” the bluenette squealed happily, a bright smile on her face.
“That’s so awesome you were able to tell we were getting a storm,” Ash commented, Brock throwing his fair share along with Pikachu and Piplup.
While his hearing is muffled, Nando felt completely alive as he talked with people, being treated as their equal.
They didn’t know how cruel the world could be, namely the youngest members, making him feel some jealously. Yet at the same time, couldn’t be happier to know they’ve never endured such horrors as he had and prayed they never will.
Whatever miracle fell upon him that day, for that brilliant and kind man to arrive, offering to help get his hearing back, it was a godsend, he was sure of it.
Not only had he regained his hearing, he still turned out to be a fine gentleman his parents are proud of. He is becoming someone many admire and look up too for guidance as much as he would look to others for it.
Looking through the window, watching the rain fall, an occasional flash of lightening, he found himself getting lost in his own thoughts.The other three still chattered away amongst themselves, dragging him into their conversations on occasion, making him feel right at home.