Blasts From The Past Can Be Explosive
Rating: G | Category: Gen | No Warnings Apply
Giacomo & Nemona | Penny | Rest of Team Star appears breifly | Post-canon | Autistic Nemona (and everyone else too she's just the focus)
Nemona runs into an old acquaintance and tried to go say hi. It didn't go exactly as planned
Being stuck at the Academy felt way more boring than Nemona remembered. She had been there for the past few days, working on student council projects, leaving her completely unable to go out into the world. Not that she was upset, she loved working on the student council! She just lamented how she could’ve spent her day fighting pokemon instead of organizing events as she walked into the cafeteria.
Dinner at the academy was always a little busier than the other two meals of the day, with people coming in from long days of classes or traveling just in time to eat. This time though, Nemona found herself with nobody else to sit and eat with. Juliana was at her house tonight, and Arven was out on some kind of overnight field assignment for class.
But Nemona didn’t mind too much, going down the checklist of people, that just left Penny! Granted, they really didn’t hang out much besides when it was all four of them, but she thinks Penny wouldn’t mind too much!
Nemona grabbed a sandwich to eat and began scouting for Penny. Hopefully, she wasn’t the kind of person that grabbed their food and then immediately retreated to her dorm. Nemona did find her pretty fast, though, her bright blue and red hair sticking out.
…Sitting with a bunch of other people who also stood out.
Penny’s Team Star friends. Hm.
It’s not that Nemona cared about the fact they were Team Star, both Juliana and Penny had caught her up to speed on what was really going on with them. Most of the grunts' problematic actions were completely independent as the leaders simply waited for their friend to come home. She was more worried about feeling like she was intruding on their time. Nemona knew Penny cared about them more than anything, and she felt like it wouldn’t be right to just barge into their already 6 party team…
Well, it wouldn’t hurt to just go by and say hello, right? With that, Nemona began walking over to the table Penny and her friends all sat at, but the closer she got, she noticed that the tables around them mainly remained empty. While Nemona knew the truth about Team Star, most other students didn’t, still steering clear from wanting anything to do with them.
Delinquent antics aside, a lot of students were intimidated by the former Team Star members just because of how they dressed, with scary face paint, neon ninja outfits, and big fiery boots. Nemona thought it was super cool, though. She usually found herself only wearing the academy uniform, and she’d been told her clothes outside that would be what many people consider “basic.” Wearing awesome stuff like that at all? In public, no less? It was completely alien to her, but like, the cool kind, where you wished you could have nearly as much of whatever they did that let them do that.
The closer she got to the table, the more Nemona began picking up on the voices and conversations around the table.
“…and then her Tinkaton just snuck up right behind me! Almost launched me into the sun!” Said one of Penny’s friends, face hidden behind a laptop and the other people sitting around them. But there was something about them that Nemona couldn’t put her finger on.
The one sitting next to him, short and dressed in frilly pink clothes, snickered. “Uh, how does a Tinkaton sneak up on you? They’re like, huge.”
“Man, shut up!” was the response, followed by laughter from both.
Hey, wait a minute.
Nemona recognized that voice.
“Yo! Giacomo!” She called out excitingly, speedwalking up to the table. She saw him look up from his laptop, eyes wide and mouth slackjawed. Oh, it was totally Giacomo! Nemona guessed he was probably just as surprised to see her as she was to see him. “Man, I didn’t even recognize you at first!” She closed her eyes as her smile grew, remembering what he looked like back during his student council days. “Hard to believe you’re the same kid who helped put in all those old r-”
Nemona was cut off and had her eyes snap back open to the screeching sound of a chair being suddenly pushed across the floor. Giacomo had shot up from his chair, standing as they made eye contact, if only for a second. It made her feel… bad. Uneasy. Not good. But before she even had time to unpack all that, she watched a blur of black whiz by her. Giacomo had scrambled away from the table, away from her, out of the cafeteria, and presumably down the hall. He’d been in such a rush that he even left his laptop by accident, face open and all.
All the other ex-team star bosses gazes drifted from the cafeteria exit to her, faces all in various forms of shock.
“Did I…do something wrong?” She pondered out loud, frowning.
The short one in pink scoffed, “Are you kidding!? He was looking at you like a sawsbuck in headlights!” He sneered, which didn’t help Nemona at all, trying to wrack her brain for whatever she did that could’ve upset him like that.
“Ortie! Be nice!” Penny cut in. The pink one, whose name was Ortie apparently, rolled his eyes. Penny shook her head and turned back to Nemona. “Do you…know M-uh, I mean, about Giacomo, you know him?”
“Well, we were on the student council together! I became president after he left.” She explained and watched as everyone else at the table turned to look at each other. Like they got something she didn’t. Oh man, was he mad at her for that? She really hoped he wasn’t mad-
The masked one spoke up. “Giacomo’s student council days are quite the sore subject for him.” They said, “He nary speaks of that time, even with us.”
“Oh,” Nemona said, putting her hand up to her cheek in worry. “You don’t think he’s mad at me, is he?”
The tall girl in the facepaint spoke. “I don’t think he would’ve reacted like that if he was mad. It was more like he was almost…scared of you.”
Scared of you?!?
“You do something to him?!” The girl with red boots hissed and leaned towards Nemona, scowling. The tall girl quickly placed her hand on the other girl’s shoulder, seemingly pulling her back, but bright eyes still clawed at Nemona like she was trying to use mean look.
“No! Never!” Nemona pleaded. “N-not on purpose at least…” It had been over 2 years since the last time they had even been in the same room together, had she really done something that upset him that bad and somehow just forgot?! How horrible of her!
Penny came to the rescue. “I’ll back up Nemona on this one. She wouldn’t do something like that.” Penny looked up at her. “Although I can’t help but wonder, either…”
Alright, that was it! Nemona had to do something about this! There was no other option!
“Where do you think he went?!” She asked.
The masked member closed their eyes. “Giacomo most likely retreated to the fortress of his own devices, a place of peace for oneself.”
Penny translated. “Atticus means that he probably went to his dorm.”
Okay, there we go; that’s a plan! Nemona clasped her hands together, pleading. “Take me there! You have to take me there!” Her voice was determined and probably a little too loud for the cafeteria. “I have to go apologize!”
Ortie raised an eyebrow. “You have to…apologize. Really?”
“Yes!” She replied. “I’m not sure what I did, but whatever it was, it seemed like, really bad! I have to go tell him I’m sorry! I’ll feel terrible forever if I don’t!”
“Well, maybe you should think about how he feels!” The red boots girl suddenly spat. “It’s obvious he doesn’t want anything to do with you!”
“I don’t think it’s the greatest approach either. You face the risk of making it worse.” The tall girl added in.
Man, they might have a point. Did Nemona mess up so bad he wouldn’t even wanna accept an apology?! Or let her apologize at all?! How could she do something like that?! Whatever she did!
All of a sudden, Penny got up from her seat. “No, it’s alright.” She turned to Nemona, “I’ll take you to his dorm.”
Nemona sighed in relief. “R-really?” Man, when was the last time she felt this unsure about anything, it didn’t feel great. After everything the others had told her, she didn’t even feel sure she wanted to go anymore. But if Penny was really gonna take her…
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Ortie questioned, and while Nemona was glad that Giacomo had friends that wanted the best for him, their doubting only made her feel more conflicted.
“It’ll be okay. I have a plan,” Penny said, pulling Nemona back on the bright side. Penny’s great at coming up with a plan! “Giacomo left his laptop here anyway. We can go give it to him together.” She leaned over to grab Giacomo’s abandoned laptop, finally closing the poor thing. “I’ll see what I can do from there.”
While the other ex-team star members remained quiet, it made Nemona feel better, at least. Penny’s gonna try her best! Come on! We can do this!
Atticus was the first to respond, giving a simple nod. “...Thou was once our boss for a reason. She knows best.”
The tall girl came next. “Penny knows what she’s doing. I trust her.”
Ortie shrugged. “Well, if you say so.”
Nemona looked towards the girl with red boots, who was quiet for a second before crossing her arms and looking toward the ground.
“Tch, fine. Boss won’t screw anything up too bad.”
Well, that was good enough for her!
Penny looked over at her other friends. “I’ll tell you guys how it goes when I come back, okay?” She watched them all nod before turning back to Nemona. “Follow me, it’s not that far.”
The walk to the dorms was filled with nerves for Nemona, the bad kind, not the fun kind she got when she was about to start a battle against Juliana. It was oddly quiet too. Nemona was so anxious she didn’t really comment on anything she saw while walking through the academy like she usually did. She couldn’t even remember the last time something specific like this dragged her this much down.
It was Penny who broke the silence between them near the end as they reached the dorm wing of the academy.
“We still have a bit to go, his room is a few floors up.” She stated.
“Okay” was all that Nemona replied with, instantly regretting how she didn’t try and make it sound happier.
“Oh, and, um.” Penny re-adjusted her grip on Giacomo’s laptop, using both her arms to hold it close to her chest. “Try not to get too down on what everyone else said. They’re all pretty quick to defend each other for obvious reasons. You know?”
“...Yeah…” Nemona said. While she didn’t know any details, based on what Juliana and Penny had mentioned in passing, the fact they did what they did alone showed how bad it was. “It’s like how pawmos are quick to attack when their groups are in danger.” There we go; thinking about pokemon made her feel a little better, at least.
Penny gave a soft giggle. “Something like that, yeah.”
“Hey, Penny.” Nemona looked over at her. “Do you have any idea why he did that?”
Penny was silent for a moment. “I have some ideas,” she eventually answered, “but I don't wanna say anything yet, just in case I’m wrong.”
“Oh, alright.” Nemona sighed. It just made her feel so bad, she was the student council president! People were supposed to feel relieved when they saw her on campus! Not running away like nymble! Whatever she had done to Giacomo, she was ready to make up for it tenfold.
Penny led Nemona to the elevator, leaning in to press the up button. “I’ll tell you my plan when we’re going up.”
A plan, that’s right! The perfect strategy! Nemona felt even more confident knowing Penny would lead them to victory!
The elevator quickly opened, thankfully empty, and both girls moved in, with another bonus of nobody else joining them. Penny pressed the button for the floor Giacomo’s dorm was on, Nemona making a mental note about it being on the fourth floor, and they began to move up.
“So, what’s the plan you got?” Nemona asked, trying to sound as chipper as she usually did, trying to hype herself up.
“Oh it’s um, nothing special really.” Penny adjusted her glasses. “I’ll give him his laptop back and ask if we can talk by ourselves, just to ease him up, you know? I’ll see if I can get him to talk to you, but anything after that is in your hands, got it?”
Nemona gave a hearty nod. “No problem!” Come on Nemona! You can do it! She cheered for herself in her head. She just needed something she understood better to help her…like a pokemon battle!
If she thought about it, this was gonna be just like a pokemon battle, really. Only with humans instead of pokemon, but not in the like physical kind of fight with your fists. More like…a battle with…emotions? Words? Nemona’s never been great with metaphors. She could do it, though. She knew she could!
As the elevator came to a halt, the two stepped out onto the fourth floor. Penny led Nemona past the identical doors of the hallway. Nemona took deep breaths and kept telling herself that she’d got this. Still almost losing her composure as Penny stopped in front of a door, turning to face it. She turned her head back to Nemona, gesturing towards the door. “This is it, are you ready?” She whispered.
Nemona closed her eyes for a moment as she took one more deep breath and nodded. Penny nodded back, going up to the door and knocking.
“Giacomo. It’s me.” She raised her voice just enough to be heard through the door. “I have your laptop, and uh…Nemona is here too, okay?”
Nothing happened for a few moments. Nemona’s heart was about to sink, thinking that maybe Giacomo didn’t even go to his dorm when she heard shuffling from the other side and the doorknob turning.
The door opened by a crack, just enough to see part of his face. With a slight frown and pleading eyes, that tall girl was right, well, kind of. He didn’t look angry that Nemona was there, but he didn’t seem scared either. He looked…sad.
That was even worse! Nemona could deal with making someone mad or scared by accident, a quick explanation was all you needed to run away from that battle. But sad? That was unforgivable! Being sad was, like, the worst! And making someone else sad is awful! Nemona wasn’t just ready to apologize tenfold, it had turned to twenty!
“...Hey.” He sighed, and Nemona suddenly felt like the most guilty person in all of Paldea. How could she have caused him to be like this? “Thanks for, uh, bringing my laptop, Boss.” Giacomo opened the door a little wider to reach his arm out, assuming Penny would meet him midway and hand it over. Instead, she leaned so slightly back.
“Wait.” She said, clinging tighter to the laptop. “I want to talk first. Just me and you. Okay?”
Nemona blinked, surprised at how Penny sounded. Kind but firm, somehow almost commanding. She started to understand why her Team Star friends used to call her boss.
Giacomo’s frown deepened, eyes flickering from Penny to Nemona a few times. Penny held her ground, expression firm, and it seemed Giacomo caved in with a heavy sigh.
“Alright, fine.” He opened the door to let Penny in, her quickly turning to Nemona and nodding, and Nemona nodded back as she went in, the door closing behind her.
That left Nemona alone with her thoughts for who knows how long, it seemed. She sighed and leaned back against the wall next to Giacomo’s door, still completely lost to what she could’ve done that put him in such a state.
Come on, think, Nemona, think. Think of whatever you did when you were on the student council together. Try and remember whatever you did and start getting ready to apologize for it. Nemona closed her eyes and again pulled up the picture in her mind of their time on student council. He had been on it for a year by the time he became president and only lasted a few months after that. She tried filing through every interaction she remembered them having during then, mostly just brief hellos or working on the same planning teams. She couldn’t have said something then, right? She tried to think of the Giacomo she had known and put him up next to an image of him sitting at that table, laughing with his friends-
Nemona thought about it, thought about it hard, and it hit her.
She couldn’t remember a single time she had ever seen Giacomo smile or laugh up until now, not even half an hour ago.
How…how much did he actually like being on student council?
Before she had the time to start unpacking that, her head perked up at the sound of the door opening. Penny walked out, laptopless, and Nemona leaned into her.
“Well?” She whispered, and in response, Penny only gestured her arm towards the doorway. There stood Giacomo, with the door wide open. He looked at her nervously but flashed a weak smile, Nemona having to stop herself from cringing at how forced it was.
“You can come on in.”
Nemona looked over at Penny, who just nodded, and Nemona gave a small smile. She took a second to breathe, adjusting her glove as if she was about to hop into a battle, and followed him inside his room.
Man, Giacomo’s room was cool . Walls covered in posters for scary movies and rock bands Nemona didn’t recognize, all dark and edge but somehow so bright and loud. The blanket on his bed was black, which means he purposely swapped it out from the blanket they give you with your dorm, surely a defying act of rebellion! And propped up on the wall next to his desk was one of those piano keyboards. It was all…just so cool.
Wait, no, keep it together, Nemona. You’re here for a reason. Her attention went back to Giacomo, who leaned back against the counter of the kitchen area of the dorm.
“Penny caught me up.” He started. “Didn’t mean to upset you like that.”
Nemona froze. This sounded like…
“Hey! No! Wait!” She exclaimed, “I’m the one who’s supposed to be apologizing here! Not you!”
Giacomo blinked. “Apologizin’ for…?”
“Well, uh, not sure, actually. But whatever it was, it must have been like, super bad for you to run away like that!” Nemona clasped her hands together, eyes wired shut. “So, I’m sorry! For whatever I said! Or did! I really mean it!”
Nemona hoped for the super-effective hit, only to be met with the immunity of silence. Had she really been so awful that Giacomo wouldn’t even accept her apology at all? She was ready to accept that even the strongest thunderbolts couldn’t hit clodsires, when she suddenly heard it.
Short, wispy breaths. At first, Nemona freaked on the inside, thinking she had made it even worse than it already was and somehow had gotten him to start crying. But a moment later, she heard them turn into something else. They had begun to turn into quiet giggling - Giacomo was laughing.
Nemona looked up and opened her eyes. Giacomo was smiling but had his face turned to the ground, eyes obscured by the brim of his cap.
“Man,” he sighed, looking back up at her, giving a real smile this time, but with the same sad eyes. “You haven’t changed at all. You’re still way too nice, you know that?”
That left Nemona more than confused. “But apologizing is good, though?” Were there times when the best thing was to not apologize?! There were too many rules for this stuff; she hated how complicated it all was!
“I mean like, you didn’t do anything. It was all me.”
“But- I- you ran away!” She stuttered. “That means I made you really upset!”
“Nah, you didn’t, promise.” Giacomo waved his hand like he was trying to shoo away any doubts Nemona had. “It was just…kind of a lot for me. Weird to explain.”
Well, if Nemona wasn’t gonna be able to apologize, she still wanted to make it up to him. That would be the next best thing, right?! So she put on a soft smile and nodded. “I don’t mind. Explain away!”
Giacomo blinked. “Oh! Uh, yeah. Sure.” He sounded surprised, like he didn’t actually expect Nemona to ask. She watched him take a deep breath and felt nice to know he was probably just as nervous as she had been. “I…had a lot going on when I was on student council. It was a pretty bad time for me, generally.” He clicked his tongue. “I tried to fit in right next to everyone else anyway. Tried to be something I wasn’t. And you saw where that got me…”
Nemona cringed. She knew firsthand what he meant by that. When she became President after Giacomo left, it had been up to her to pull a maushold-style tidy up. It had taken a lot of effort to make people trust the student council again, but Nemona never had it in her to hold any kind of grudge against him, either. She’d never been like that; you can’t do anything about stuff that’s already happened. You just gotta work towards the future to make it better! Which was exactly why she had come up to apologize in the first place. And hearing him now, something just clicked for her.
Nemona remembered what it felt like before she met Juliana. Before she had someone to really put her entire self forward. The way people skirted around the edges of having to deal with her. It was pretty lonely, even if they were still nice to her, but Giacomo having to deal with being bullied on top of that? Nemona couldn’t imagine. It must’ve been absolutely awful. No wonder why Team Star came together like that.
“It was like…there was a glass wall between you and everyone else.” She said.
“Huh. Yeah. It was kinda like that.” Giacomo replied. “And when I saw you running up to me earlier, all I could think about was how it was for me back then…I just…freaked out without thinking. Again, my bad.”
“Don’t be sorry! I get it,” Nemona nodded. “Having me walk around as a reminder of something bad doesn’t seem fun. I was just happy to see you again, that's all. You seem much happier with all your Team Star friends than you ever did on student council, anyway.”
“Yeah.” He said. “I’m better now.”
Nemona thought for a second. She didn’t want anything like this to happen ever again, for Giacomo’s sake at least. Being reminded of bad times whenever she was around wouldn’t be great, given that she and Penny are friends now. She clasped her hands together. “Well! I think there’s only one thing we can do about it now! I gotta spend some time and get to know the real Giacomo!” She leaned in and exclaimed before shrinking back just a bit. “Er, if you want to, I mean.”
Giacomo was silent for a second, eyes wide, before answering. “Hm, you know what? Yeah, sure.”
Nemona beamed and reached out her hand. “No more walls?”
He looked down at her hand, then back up at her, and smiled. Taking her hand to give her a handshake.
“No more walls.” He concluded. The handshake sealed the deal.
Nemona nodded. “We should probably go tell P- AY! Penny!” She shouted. “Oh no! How long did we leave her out there? I hope she didn’t get too worried!”
Giacomo waved his hand again. “Psh, ol’ Boss is fine. Should go tell her, though.” He walked past Nemona and went to open his door, with her quick to follow him. Penny was still there, unmoved since Nemona went inside, looking down at her phone.
She looked up as the door opened. “Oh, hey guys.” She said. “Got it all worked out?”
“You bet!” Nemona replied, smiling. “Nothing like that’s gonna ever happen again! No way!”
“Yep.” Giacomo gave a thumbs up to Penny, who smiled softly in response.
“That’s good, but dinner’s probably gonna be over soon, and I told the others that I would give them an update. Though I guess I can just text them…”
“Nah,” Giacomo cut in. “Tell em we can meet up at the entrance hall, halfway for everyone. Upstairs though, so we can mind our business.”
Penny hummed. “Mhm. got it.” She said, before typing away on her phone. “Nemona might also wanna come, just so we can clear anything up.”
“Sounds good!” Nemona agreed. “Hey, do you think I’ll be able to convince your really tall friend to have a battle with me? She seems super strong!”
Giacomo clicked his tongue. “With Eri? Not sure just yet. Might have to get her to warm up to you a little first.”
“Yeah, that’ll probably be a few steps ahead.” Penny agreed.
“Well, there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?” Nemona started speedwalking down to the elevator. “Come on, let’s go!”
“Hey! Wait up!” She heard Giacomo call out behind her.
It made Nemona smile.