"You know, I've always thought you needed one of these. You always seemed so alone two years ago… Have you ever been hugged before, N?" Anya asked him softly. Confused, the young man just shook his head, trying to think.
"Anthea or Concordia might have when I was little, but Ghetsis was distant and strict. He never really showed affection, but I can see why now," he replied. N could feel the fading warmth of Anya's spilled tea seeping into his shirt, but he didn't have the heart to try and push her away. He wasn't sure he'd ever been hugged before, and now he was beginning to grow certain that if he had, he would have remembered the feeling that came with it. He was certain he would have remembered the warmth that wasn't just from spilled tea clinging to a young woman's sweater, or the certainty that he wasn't a freak in that moment, or the feeling that finally something was right in the world. "I think I would have remembered if I had been, though…unless it happened before I can remember…"
"Don't think about it too hard; you're going to need your brain to learn," Anya laughed, breaking apart the sadness that had crept up on him. He found himself starting to laugh as well when Anya's front door flew open.
"Hey, Anya, I was just wondering if maybe you wanted…to…go on a trip for the Professor with me…?" the peppy female voice fell flat at the end of her sentence. The girl knew she'd stepped in on something she probably shouldn't have, and looking over, N just barely recognized the girl standing in the doorway as one of Anya's friends. Anya didn't let the situation bother her in the slightest.
"Hi Bianca," she greeted her visitor cheerily, letting go of N. "I know this is probably a bit odd, but what can you do? Anyway, in light of recent events, I think an introduction is in order—Bianca, this is N. N, this is Bianca." That didn't get much of a reaction; N and Bianca just kind of looked at each other oddly, neither quite sure what to say. N was pretty sure the original Team Plasma had stolen Pokémon (or at least tried) from this girl.
"Ah…hello, Bianca," N found himself saying, letting his learned politeness kick in. The girl frowned a moment before she spoke.
"Hi, N…" Bianca said shyly, playing with the lime green beret that sat atop her head.
Anya only grinned as she helped the two through introductions and managed to convince Bianca to allow N to accompany them on a simple field study of the Pokémon living on Route 1. As they stepped out the door, she elbowed him gently to grab his attention. "Looks like your learning starts now; hope you're ready for it," she whispered so that Bianca couldn't hear. N fought back the urge to laugh. If this was what being a normal person was like, N thought he would enjoy being normal for once.
It wasn't until a few weeks later that he remembered he had Sophia's Xtranciever number written messily on a small scrap of paper that was tucked inside his hat. When he finally remembered, Anya found him sitting on her living room couch one morning, typing a quick message. After a bit of poking and prodding, he admitted he had sent the message to Sophia and that it simply consisted of three words: "She forgave me."
If only Sophia could have known that Anya had done so much more than that.