[Vol. I] 29. Gluttony
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Rehabilitation didn’t go too well. Joe was back in his hospital bed, staring out of the window at the large orange orb setting below the buildings. Sabrina had long since gone home, leaving just Joe and Absol, who was resting at the end of the bed again.

Looking at his leg, which was under a blanket, Joe was doubting if he’d be able to walk even with the walking stick’s help. He gently put a hand on his left leg, annoyed by his own stupidity that got him in this situation. “Hey, Absol, you up?”

They’d been around each other enough for Joe to know Absol only slept at night. If it looked like it was sleeping but it wasn’t 10pm yet, then it was still awake. Despite this, he didn’t feel a particularly strong bond with Absol, so felt the need to check if the Pokemon was awake and wanted to talk.

Absol’s head rose and turned to Joe.

“...” The words got caught in his throat, so Joe took a breath and calmed himself. “...I don’t know if I can continue with a leg like this. So, er, I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to find another Trainer, someone who can keep up with you.”

Without saying anything, Absol got up, stretched a little and hopped off the bed. At this point Joe thought for sure it wanted to leave, so reached for the belt of Pokeballs on the table by his bed, ready to release Absol. Their bond wasn’t so great after all.

But to Joe’s surprise, after he’d grabbed his belt, Absol walked up to him with his walking stick in its mouth. Absol rested the stick against Joe’s hospital bed, in range for Joe to take a hold of his walking aid.

“What? You were there earlier, I could barely stand, let alone walk. There’s no way I can run alongside you now.”

Absol persisted. It nudged the walking stick closer, but because the grip at the bottom of a walking stick is there to keep it in one place Joe’s walking stick began falling over. Joe reached for it as it fell, then chuckled at Absol once it was in his hand. “Clever girl. Fine, I’ll try it again. Don’t expect much though.”

Throwing aside the blanket that was on him, Joe carefully moved his left leg off the bed and, putting all his weight on his walking stick, stood up. With some control of his injured leg, he was able to keep it off the ground. This was about as far as he got earlier. He couldn’t put pressure on his left leg, it was too painful. He was unable to walk.

He wasn’t going to get anywhere like this though. Readying himself for the pain, Joe breathed in heavily and exhaled. Once again, breathing in and out. Ever so slowly he lowered his left foot down until the tip of his toes touched the cold laminate floor. No pain yet. He continued to lower his foot, centimeter by centimeter, until he felt a jolt of pain rush up his leg.

That was his limit. For now. With Absol watching intently to see how its Trainer was doing, Joe felt like he should keep trying, pushing his limits until he was able to walk again. He’d decided to go on this journey with Absol, there should be no reason to back out.

So over the next few days Joe continued trying his best at rehab. His pain resistance was gradually increasing and he was finally able to put the entirety of his foot down on the ground, although not firmly. But progress was progress. He was now capable of taking steps, but he was as slow as a Slakoth and was still putting too much pressure on his walking stick out of fear of feeling pain in his leg.

Later that day, when Joe returned to his hospital room, he practiced again as Absol watched over him. 

After said practice, he sat down on his bed and let out a huge sigh of relief. “Ha, almost there. We might be able to move on soon Absol.”

The Disaster Pokemon simply nodded in response, before turning its attention to the window. At first this seemed normal, it was just looking outside, but it became apparent there was another reason for Absol to look outside.

A loud knock on the glass made Joe turn his head to look, only to see a Munchlax struggling to hold on to the outside of the building.

“What are you doing?!” He called out to the Pokemon dangling outside as he got up and limped over to the window, quickly opening it and grabbing a hold of one of the heavy glutton’s arms. It was tough with only one hand, as Joe was also holding onto his walking stick, but thankfully Absol climbed up and grabbed Munchlax’s other arm in its mouth, helping Joe pull it up and into the room.

Munchlax immediately hit the floor and rolled over before sitting up. On its back was a blanket tied up with various foods overflowing and spilling onto the floor. Munchlax grabbed an apple that was rolling away and shoved the entire thing into its mouth, barely bothering to taste the fruit as it was swallowed whole.

“Are you serious? This is the second floor.” Joe just looked at Munchlax in amazement. He didn’t think it’d be able to climb up this high.

The Munchlax untied the blanket on its back as Joe sat back on his bed. Various foods were now on display in Joe’s hospital room. Fruits, vegetables, bread, chocolate. A weird mix, that was for sure.

“Where did you get all this? What are you even doing here?” Joe asked, knowing he wasn’t going to get an answer. Munchlax had stopped by the hospital in search of Joe a number of times recently. Rotom’s best guess was that Munchlax was saying thank you in its own way. It only knew food, so it was treating Joe to whatever it could get.

Ignoring the questions, Munchlax clambered up onto the bed with another apple in hand, and proceeded to shove the fruit into Joe’s mouth. Munchlax retreated to grab some bread for itself off the blanket and eat, all while watching Joe.

Joe took a bite out of the apple and removed it from his mouth. It was good. Really good. He’d be surprised if something like this was just found in a tree somewhere. No, it was more than likely from a shop, and that meant Munchlax had stolen it. That would also explain the weird combination of food.

With a deep sigh, Joe spoke to Munchlax. “This better not be stolen. You can’t just take what you want.”

As expected, it was in one ear and out the other. Munchlax, while chowing down on whatever was closest to it, tilted its head in confusion. It had no idea what Joe was talking about. No, instead it stopped stuffing its face for one second and climbed up the bed to force more food into Joe’s mouth, all with a big smile on its face.

Tasting a chocolate cookie after just having an apple was weird. Once Joe had finished the biscuit, he just looked at Munchlax, who smiled at him and continued to eat. Joe couldn’t help but think Munchlax’s cluelessness got it into trouble all the time.

The rest of the night was fairly quiet, as it was difficult to have proper conversations with Pokemon. Especially when one of them doesn't listen properly. Instead, Joe just accepted whatever food the glutton wanted to give him until he went to sleep. Absol simply watched from the end of the bed, occasionally getting a snack from Munchlax.

I was injured for this…? Joe thought as he lay down. Well whatever. Munchlax smiling means it's happy, so it's fine. He was finally coming to terms with his bad leg. With the support of Sabrina he was forcing himself to improve at rehab, with the help of Absol he realised others relied on him and he relied on others, and with Munchlax showing up he remembered why he liked helping people in the first place. He was fine risking himself for other people and Pokemon if it meant they could live a normal, carefree life like Munchlax.

The next morning Sabrina showed up to say hello, only to find Joe sleeping with a Munchlax in his arms like it was a stuffed toy and crumbs all over the bed.