It was the middle of a hot summer day as a man was still asleep in his bed. Groggily he slowly woke up as the clock neared two. He lifted his small frame out of bed with little difficulty.
"Come on Kevin. It's another day. Oh, you woke up even earlier today." His soft voice spoke to himself, clear and bright. As usual he forced a smile on his face, even though no one was around to see the charade it was a habit he's had for over a decade at this point. With steady steps he walked to the bathroom and stared in the mirror. It was dirty, uncleaned for... too long. He couldn't even see his own reflection anymore... how long has it been since he saw himself?
"I... should take a shower. After that, I'm going to clean some of the bathroom. Then... I'll. I don't know. I need to change. My family wanted me to live, not whatever this is." He took a deep breath and decided to take off his white cotton shirt, revealing his smooth skin and abs underneath then he slipped out of his boxers. He stepped in the tub and turned on the shower. At first it was a blast of cold water, but it shortly warmed up within a few moments.
"Oh, I never realized my hair got this long. This has been the first shower in... too long. Since I last went out for groceries." Indeed, his daily life just consisted of waking up and going to sleep whenever and then playing around in his basement. In the meantime, his hair had gotten so long that soon he would be sitting on it. Miraculously though any split ends were few and far between.
He absent-mindedly scratched at his arms with his long nails, revealing dirt that he had never even noticed before.
"Okay. So maybe this shower won't take just five minutes this time."
After an hour he finally felt satisfied and started to dry off and brush his hair. For some reason, he felt in a slightly better mood than usual. He wiped down the mirror absent mindedly before deciding to shave the bushy red beard on his face. It went down to his chest and covered nearly half of his face.
"I always did feel better clean shaven but it's always too much trouble to shave. Maybe I should get electrolysis?" He murmured absent-mindedly as he began to work by first taking some scissors and trimming it to an acceptable length to shave. He began to think of the positives and negatives of his life.
On the bright side, he had enough money and a place to live so he never actually had to work again in his life. On the other hand, that enabled things to become... like this. Completely shaving took nearly as long as his shower but he felt a little motivated today. So, it would be a full shave instead of just a trim. The person that stared back at him in the mirror though, surprised him.
He looked exactly like he did in high school, just without the scruff and much longer hair. What surprised him the most was just how much he resembled his mother. He never actually realized it, but aside from the blonde hair and blue eyes he inherited from his father he was his mother's twin. This brought up some complicated feelings for a bit until he laughed. He laughed as joy and pain intermingled in his heart. He laughed as tears came out for the first time in far too long.
"At least I'm not ugly if I look this much like Mom." Was the only thing he could say as he stayed between laughing and crying until it was dark. Afterwards the world seemed a lot brighter than before, and his body felt lighter. "Oh, it's still only six, I'm making good time for breakfast." He replied to himself cheerily.
Cooking, it was a hobby that he did with his dad often. One of the things he never failed to do a single day. As he walked through the messy house with gross floors, he found his way quickly to the kitchen. A stark contrast to the rest of the place, it was clean. Sparkling, even. Breakfast was something he oddly craved at the moment and thankfully it didn't take long to complete. French toast, some sausage, bacon, all drizzled in light organic syrup. Of course, he also cut the sandwich diagonally, the final important touch.
"Wow... this is better than I expected. Huh. Maybe I'm just in a good mood? That was a pretty good cry earlier." Eating didn't take long, nor did cleaning up the small mess he made from cooking. "If only I could keep the rest of the house like the kitchen. Maybe I'll clean somewhere after playing today. Baby steps to change." So, with steady steps he made his way to the basement. He flipped on a switch to reveal the interior. There was a small cubicle in a corner with a high-end gaming PC and an extremely comfy and adjustable chair that was his usual bed most nights. However, his first order of play would have been keeping the hobby of his older siblings alive.
They remodeled the basement into mostly an obstacle course to practice on. Apparently, they were wanting to go on some television show together and compete. American Ninja something. However, try as they might they never could drag the youngest into it. Until they passed and he would run the obstacle course every day in their memory.
Was it stupid, was it childish? Did it matter? Was he even ever going to go on the show? Kevin really didn't know; he did know that he was in the best physical shape of his life though. He walked to the start and hit the button that started the timer. Quickly he ran forward and jumped. It was to a small platform a meter away that was only big enough to land on with a single foot. Using the momentum, he launched himself to the next, and then the next. As usual he nailed the timing and distance, adjusting for the different slants of each platform.
Then, the next obstacle came. It was simple really, climb up. At first there were hand holds, then he removed them and added a rope to climb up. After a few years he instead replaced it with just some walls. He quickly chalked up his hands with a nearby supply he kept and climbed up. One, two, three, four, five meters later and he was finally done.
The next obstacle used to be a zip line, then he decided to eventually just leave the rope and use that to get across. What form would he go with today? Hand over hand, the crawl? Instead, he decided to simply get on top of the rope and walk across as swiftly as he could without falling.
"Let's go for speed today." He simply kept looking ahead while doing his best to balance, adjusting his arms that he spread out to help. The obstacle was soon overcome, leaving only two left. A 5.5-meter warped wall, and then he had to lift increasingly heavy weights before finally just sprinting around back to the beginning and pressing the button again. He first envisioned it in his mind, the hardest part. Often times it took him many, many tries a day. Today however as he ran up the wall, his face broke into a bit of a smile. He realized that his siblings would be proud of him, hell his parents too probably. Not for much maybe, but at least that he could do this. At least that he kept himself physically healthy.
The weights felt lighter than normal, and the sprint back didn't even wind him. He pressed the button and sighed, but all he could hear was his heart loudly pounding as tears fell from his face again.
"Twice in one day. Damn, I'm a leaky faucet. It's probably a good thing." He stood there, for far longer than it took for him to run the obstacle course. Eventually his heart calmed down and his tears dried. "Next order of business... I'm not sure. I'll just go again."
So, he ran it again, and again. Sometimes he tripped up, sometimes he ran it flawlessly. He just kept running it over and over with a small break in between until an alarm knocked his aching body out of the trance that he was in. He grabbed his phone and smiled as he looked at the alarm's label.
As childish as it was, this was his 'Pokémon Time'. Growing up, his mom was the Champion of the Kronos household for the first generation. Her original team of six was often changed. However, she always kept a Gengar and a Persian, two of her favorites she refused to ever have a team without. Then when the time came for to the next generation it was his dad who asserted himself as 'man of the house'. His indomitable strategies used his spirit Pokémon, Snorlax. Truly, in the second generation Snorlax was a menace. His two older siblings would then keep swapping first and second place from the third generation forward, with the odd upset of a parent.
Unfortunately, Kevin never managed to win a single Kronos Kup. Absent-mindedly he plopped into the comfy chair. He kept reminiscing about the past and just sat there. It took him a while to even process what he would do. OU, Random Battles, a different format, a romhack, a nuzlocke, what?
After more time passed, he realized that he still wanted to move. His body was aching, but also restless. His heart was still pounding a little even, but he wanted the exhilaration as it pumped even harder in his chest again. That moment when he's truly running, truly moving, truly alive. The pounding of his heart, he didn't want it to end yet.
"Guess it's time to Pokémon Go outside. Wow, that was cringe even for me. Now, I could hit up some stops... or I could use the power of my credit card to refill and hit up the local forest. Yeah, I could use a jog in mother nature."
It totally wasn't that he was terrified of any form of talking to anyone and coming off like the majorly anti-social creep he probably was. Actually, it was exactly that. He managed when it was time for groceries, but that was in and out, also there was self-checkout! If he were to actually go on a walk... among them. They would recognize him and attempt small talk that he definitely wasn't ready for. He began to reminisce of his three most recent conversations in the wilds of his small town on the walk to the grocery store last time. They were so exhausting he began to order food online.
'Why don't you have a girlfriend yet, a cutie like you shouldn't have any troubles now. Or are you into men? My son had quite the crush on you in high school, perhaps you two could go for coffee?'
He wanted to say, 'Sorry, I'm straight, but I'm actually very flattered someone had a crush on me then. However, regardless of orientation I'd prefer to remain single at this moment. I'm sure your son will find the man of his dreams.' Instead, it came out differently.
'Don't swing that way and women are too much hassle. Flattered though, your son broke hearts in high school, imagine it won't be too much trouble to break some more.'
"That, probably wasn't too bad, right?"
'Kevin, so nice to see you! Are you eating properly? Oh, dear look at those bags under your eyes, why don't you come over for dinner, my daughter will be back, you remember Sammantha? She's a doctor now, just like you told me she'd be!'
Sam was a friend of his growing up, Kevin didn't know she was a girl until middle school. The most surprising thing was that not a single person was surprised except for Sam herself. She was at first devastated, then outraged, and then she just couldn't stop laughing. She moved away for college a couple states over for some ten-year medical program. A weird girl. Kevin thought it would be obvious that she'd make it as a doctor, but her family was worried back then, unsure of how she would manage alone in a big city. He was happy for her. He wanted to say something... different than what he did.
'Of course, she did. Sam studied her ass off and was never the squeamish type. Also has the heart to help people and the ability to be awake or fall asleep at a moment's notice. Combine that with the messy handwriting, perfect doctor. Excuse me, gotta go.'
"Well, at least it wasn't mean."
'Kevin is that you? Why that beard is covering nearly half of your face, you can't even see your handsome features underneath. Why don't you come over to my daughter's salon and get it trimmed there. Weren't you both part of the chess team, I'm sure she'd love to catch up.'
He wasn't even sure if her daughter could stand him on account of being the chess club's eternal number two, much less want to catch up. Although it would normally be a petty grudge, their school had a scholarship for the chess club. Which Kevin of course won, and then never went to college. Effectively cutting off her easy route and benefitting no one. He wouldn't blame her for being at least a little bitter if it altered the course of her life negatively. He also vaguely remembered she was plain, so cosmetology was a surprise. That said, it was more so her style of dress and long braided hair that was 'plain' or 'homely' one might say. He always stood by her being a beautiful girl.
Of course, his reply was less than ideal again.
'Kate? Nah, I don't think she even likes me. Probably a looker now though, if she went to study cosmetology and all. She always had good features. I'll go shave at home, tomorrow even.'
Tomorrow was... months ago but he shaved today.
"Why the hell are they even trying to set me up with them anyways? The only people interested in a mess like me would be gold diggers, probably. I'm a mess and certainly don't fit the conventional male standards of beauty. Hell, I'm even shorter than your average chick, don't girls want tall, dark, and handsome? Not short, pale, and cute? Just old people being meddling, at my age most people are probably settling down or close to it. Well, a doctor and someone owning a small business are probably doing okay for themselves. Chase could skate by on his handsomeness alone but probably has a respectable job. Unlike me, who is just... whatever. These thoughts aren't helping. Realistically I can cook and I'm in good shape, but no way am I worth the emotional baggage or waking my partner up at night because I'm screaming from a nightmare. Fuck, these thoughts aren't helping. Let's just go in the forest and play again, like when I was a kid."
His thoughts turned towards his time running in the woods and pretending these monsters were real for him to catch and befriend. He would imagine epic fights and quests all in the backdrop of this local forest. As an adult it was a surprisingly nostalgic and exciting thing to catch Pokémon in the forest again, but for real. Well, for real digitally at least.
He ran out, quickly locked his house and hummed happily. Although really, locking his house in this neighborhood he felt was completely optional. It was more so to close out some clever wildlife. Kevin felt his heart start to pound again, excited to 'catch and release'.
Unknown to Kevin, this small disturbance was noticed by someone who could aptly be described as 'tall, dark, and handsome, but a little dumb.'
"Is that Kevin? Is he also going on a run? Holy hell he's a twink. Yeeeep. I'll just say hi for old time's sake! Fuck, how is he so fast?"
It was peaceful and dark, but he felt safe in the woods. Suddenly a loud howl interrupted his thoughts as he was looking forward, but oddly enough the howling came from his phone. He looked down and on the screen was a shiny Ralts seemingly running away from a small pack of Mightyena. It was only on the screen for a moment, and he didn't have time to engage with any of the Pokémon to catch them, but he did notice the direction they were going.
"Is this a new feature, some kind of event or something?" Without much thought Kevin took off running even faster. Faster, and faster. For a moment he saw one on the screen but apparently, he shouldn't catch any Pokémon while driving? He didn't even own a car what the fuck was this shit? The momentary distraction caused his shirt to get caught on a branch. For a brief moment it was a tug of wills and fabric, cotton versus wood. The cotton lost. "Screw it no shirt then! It's nice out anyways!" Kevin screamed in frustration as he discarded the rest of his torn shirt and kept running. He'd come back and get the shirt after he caught the shiny Ralts. Ralts was one of his favorite Pokémon, and he loved the shade of blue on the shiny. It would even be worthy of a permanent party member slot instead of his usual catch and release!
He didn't even notice the two campers that were nearby laying down and looking at the stars as his torn shirt fell on one's face.
The pair looked at each other in confusion. The girl laying down took the shirt off her now crimson face.
"Sam, w-was that Kevin?" She stuttered to the other with disbelief evident in her voice. Soon after they heard a much quieter voice. It was one that seemed to be asking answers to the universe for the deepest questions mankind could fathom.
"Holy hell he's ripped, he's more ripped than his shirt. Is that a muscle twink? Is that even a thing?" Contrary to the tone however, the contents weren't particularly deep.
"Was that Chase?" Sam replied in disbelief. "We should catch up and see what's going on. Come on Kate!"
"Yeah, yeah we should catch up! L-let's go Sam!"
So, the two women took off chasing Chase who chased Kevin as the clock neared midnight. When the clock struck midnight, something magical happened. The Ralts on his screen fell off a cliff over the local river so without thinking Kevin jumped. He didn't bother to think if his phone was waterproof or not, which it was, he didn't bother to think about just catching the Ralts from the cliff. Something inside him just told him to jump after he looked below the cliff. The three following saw just in time as Kevin jumped off the cliff, presumably to take a swim like they would sometimes do as kids. However, no splash came. They all ran forward and stopped together at the cliff then looked down. Below there appeared to be nothing but darkness instead of the usual flowing river.
"Kevin!" It didn't take long for the three to jump in afterwards, worried about the friend they hadn't seen or talked to in years.