|History ||(this history is so lengthy, please forgive me)|
When Mike entered the world, he did so alongside his twin, Joseph. Irreversibly bonded through nine months together in their mother's womb, the identical twins developed alongside each other in a way regular siblings didn't. They could communicate in ways other kids or even adults couldn't understand, and their minds developed at a similar pace; even if one caught on quicker, the other was never far behind. When the twins slept, they were always close, their bodies naturally adjusting to the others' presence while in the midst of dreaming. Even their competition was fiercer than that of non-twins, but no matter what, their parents and other adults claimed that the boys were connected in ways incomprehensible to singleton children-according to said adults, Mike and Joseph knew what each other felt, and were always aware of each other even when separated. Everything they did was together-it was rare to spot Mike and Joseph apart, and relatives often commented on how the two may as well have been the same person.
They lived with both of their parents in a small house in Oldale Town. The small town was idyllic, and seemingly perfect for raising two very young boys. Their parents kept them away from the further routes where wild Pokemon roamed, but they still had company in the form of their dad's Skitty and their mom's two Arcanine, both of whom loved to laze about and bask in the sunlight. These Pokemon, once formidable fighters during their mother's time as a trainer, were well-trusted to protect the twins from any danger in the rare event that their parents' job hours aligned, or their domestic tasks piled up. Mike and his brother were happy, well-adjusted children, but the peace didn't last forever.
When Joseph fell horribly ill at the age of three, everybody said that Mike felt his pain alongside him. He can't remember if it's true. If you go by what his parents say, then after his twin died, Mike could comprehend the loss, at least as much as a three-year-old was capable of. He became heartbroken, less willing to speak, and had difficulties sleeping. Mike always had Joseph before, and without him, everyday activities that normally were achievable for children his age became insurmountable for the three-year-old. The boy would tell his parents that he could feel Joseph being near him, even though the other boy was never actually there. Mike would often be found talking to nobody, or drawing him and his twin together. There were even times when he wanted to go by his brother's name.
The depths of the pain of losing his twin isn't easy to describe, but no matter how many years past, adults who knew of Mike's "twinless twin" status never really looked right at him, at least not constantly. There was always a shift, a glance to his side, perhaps expecting another boy and only finding empty space. The older Mike grew, the more he found himself living a sort of double life-there was the half of him who lived for Mike, and the other half who lived for Joseph.
It was, truthfully, a sad life for a little boy. His parents managed to hide most of their marriage troubles from him in the years after Joseph's passing, but whenever Mike noticed something was off, he thought that his parents' worry was caused by him doing something wrong. If he could be more like his twin, then maybe they'd be happy again.
Going through school, Mike found that he excelled at reading, writing, and pretty much anything that didn't involve math. His teachers lauded him as being very intelligent, though he had troubles staying focused and often daydreamed instead of paying attention to lessons. That, and the boy wasn't keen on socializing. He loved writing stories (and poems, though Mike claimed it was more of "Joseph's thing"-in his mind, he imagined his twin would've liked poetry), especially ones involving Pokemon or the newbie trainers always passing through his little town. He kept to himself as he wrote his little stories, all of which had two protagonists: Mike and Joseph.
Like many other children before him, Mike desired to become a trainer-either that, or an author, but the former felt more important. That was because he could imagine his twin being one too, and often thought about them beginning their journey together. In his time at Oldale, he'd grown attached to a specific Pokemon, Poochyena, which would eventually kickstart his love of Dark-types. At the age of eleven, Mike caught a Poochyena of his own using one of his mother's old Pokeballs (admittedly, he hadn't asked her if he could use it). His parents worried for their child. Though they wished to encourage him to follow his dreams, he seemed too fragile to handle the real world. That wasn't even taking into account his persistent identity split, which made his true wishes hard to identify. Was Mike doing this for himself, or for his twin, who would never experience any of it alongside him?
The two of them asked their son to wait until he was twelve to start traveling, which Mike agreed to. He didn't want to make his parents unhappy. Throughout the year, they took as much time as possible from their schedules to teach their son valuable lessons about the places outside of Oldale, how to take care of himself and Pokemon, among other subjects. Like many other Hoenn children, Mike had several degrees of independence, but he still had a lot to learn. He also bonded with his Poochyena during this time, naming the pup after his mom's favorite author (or poet, as Mike was convinced Joey would say). Mike adored all Pokemon, and his first companion was no different; he took diligent care of the Poochyena. By the time Mike was twelve, he and his Pokemon were attached at the hip. His parents put a lot of work into making sure their son was prepared for his trip, leaving him reminders to call them, to not neglect his education, and to return home whenever he could. Mike felt immense gratitude for their efforts, but also a sadness that only children seem to understand; the sadness of believing they are somehow hurting their parents. The look on his mom and dad's faces didn't help Mike feel good about leaving.
Once his journey began, the pain of his double life began to weigh down even heavier. Mike kept imagining Joseph with him; it wasn't fair that his twin was gone. He was alive, and his brother wasn't, so Mike had to live in his stead. That was only fair.
His Hoenn journey was rather short, especially since Mike followed his parents' initial instructions, but he managed to get two badges during that time-pretty impressive for a kid with a Poochyena (who evolved before he got to Dewford) and a low-leveled Absol who had begun to follow him after he helped her when she was injured. Even with his questionable self-confidence, Mike still felt proud of his accomplishments. Perhaps more importantly, he managed to make some friends during his travels, but unfortunately, he wouldn't get to be around them for much longer.
One day, Mike got a call from his parents telling him to come back to Oldale. He'd been stuck trying to get his third badge, and thus didn't mind coming back home; the break was sorely needed. However, when he got back to his house, his parents told him that Mom had gotten a better business deal in the Sinnoh region, and that by next month they'd be moved out. It was a huge blow to the young Mike; he'd spent his entire life in Oldale, and all of his few memories of Joseph were in the little town. He didn't want to go to some new place and leave his real home behind. Unfortunately, there was nothing the boy could do to stop it.
His new home was in the Sinnoh region, Jubilife specifically. For awhile, Mike did the usual teenager thing and brooded over being forced to move from his childhood home. It truly did hurt. The city was a huge culture shock compared to his idyllic, tiny Oldale; the boy spent most of his time in the fields outside of Jubilife, appreciating the new Pokemon he'd never seen before. In Mike's mind, Joseph would've loved Budew and that one cherry Pokemon whose name he never remembered, so he tried sketching them (it didn't go well). Other than that, the only fun thing was picking fights with newbie trainers; he may have only received two badges from a totally different region, but Mike still vastly outmatched the kids around Jubilife. Honestly, fighting them was really unfair, but it was hilarious seeing the looks on their faces when his Mightyena easily swept their teams.
Eventually, however, his parents encouraged him to channel his battling talent into something a little more productive. He set out to Oreburgh in order to try and claim his first Sinnoh badge. It sucked having to start completely over, since he already had two Hoenn badges, but oh well. At least this time, the pain of not having his twin with him was a little less sharp.
Even though Mike was attempting to live as two people, some things he gravitated towards were all him, instead of his attempts to personify Joseph. For one, he grew to absolutely love Dark-types even more once he learned about Umbreons, a kind of Pokemon he had never seen in Hoenn. Mike already had a Poochyena and an Absol, so naturally, he decided to become a pure Dark-type trainer. Whenever he voiced this decision, some people told him that specializing in a type wouldn't be easy, but Mike never really cared. He loved Dark-types, and that was that.
Getting the first few Sinnoh badges wasn't the most difficult thing in the world, but it still took a lot of time. He'd stuck around in Eterna City for awhile, absolutely convinced that Joey would've loved the place. However, while there, he met another boy, one named Malcolm-a beginner trainer just like him. The other boy was everything Mike wasn't: gentle, sweet, full of compassion for other people. They initially bonded over Mike's Pokemon, as they weren't native to Sinnoh, and their friendship quickly blossomed. Malcolm seemed to admire his battling skills (even though Mike didn't think they were all that impressive), but when he showed Mike his own Pokemon, the boy was immediately in awe. Before him was the cutest little owl he'd ever laid eyes on; apparently, it was a starter from Alola, a region Mike had never been to. He had family there, Mike knew that much, but his parents had never taken him to the islands to visit them.
Always curious, Mike had a million questions for Malcolm about Alola and himself. According to the younger boy, his parents were originally from Sinnoh, but had moved to Alola, which was where he, his youngest brother, and one of his older brothers had been born. They'd only moved back to Hearthome about a year ago. Mike listened to everything his new friend said rapturously, and when Malcolm asked him if he wanted to visit his place in Hearthome, he immediately said yes. He'd never really had much in the way of friends before now, and the new experience brought a new spark of life to Mike. He wanted to know everything about Malcolm.
However, he soon saw a darker side to his friend's life once they reached his house. The place was a complete mess, for one. His parents weren't home (Malcolm said that they were absent a lot), and his oldest brother, Kaelan, barely spoke two words to Malcolm, even though he'd gotten there from a completely different city. His other brothers didn't take much interest in him either, though that seemed to be the case of the youngest, Cedric, following whatever the second oldest, Cecil, did. From Mike's perspective, it looked as though nobody in Malcolm's family cared about him. That was...really sad. His own parents weren't perfect, but at least they treated him well. He began to understand one of Malcolm's earlier comments about liking to be out of the house.
As Mike traveled around Sinnoh (his parents still made him come home often, but at least public transport was decent in the region), Malcolm tagged along, no doubt wanting to get away from his not-so-great family. He seemed more interested in landmarks and ruins than Pokemon battles, but Mike didn't mind; he had his mind set on becoming a competitive trainer after his parents got him tickets to a tournament, which held some of the most amazing battles he'd ever seen. Mike wanted to have that sort of skill, and to show countless people watching just exactly what he was capable of. Of course, the best place to begin was with gym challenges, so that's what he set his mind to as a starting point. Malcolm encouraged him the whole time, saying that Mike could end up being the best trainer in all of Sinnoh. The boy wasn't so sure, but the compliments made him feel great regardless.
However, as they grew older, Mike noticed that his friend went home less frequently, and he didn't talk as much as he used to. In fact, Malcolm seemed almost bitter, and often snapped back at Mike whenever the latter would inquire as to what was wrong. He always apologized afterwards, as though raising his own voice broke him out of some trance, but Mike didn't feel angry; he was worried. No matter how much Malcolm tried to smile and wave away any concerns, it was obvious that something was eating at him. Mike could see it painted all over his face, probably because he was used to hiding his own negative emotions.
In order to help his hurting friend, Mike took time off from his Pokemon training (his team needed a break, anyways, and he was happy to give it to them) in order to take Malcolm to different sites he would no doubt be interested in. The Ruins of Solaceon, Lake Acuity, places like that. This seemed to bring back Malcolm's old smiles, and he began to look much better than before, even sometimes genuinely laughing. Seeing his friend so happy made Mike happy, too, but not in a way he expected. There was really no doubt about it-he liked Malcolm in a way that went beyond friendship. The unexpected feelings were immediately buried in a twenty-feet hole Mike dug up in his mind. He really didn't need to deal with that, nor did he want to make their friendship awkward. Making things awkward was a speciality of his, and Mike really didn't want to fuck this up.
Besides, what were the chances Malcolm felt the same way? Mike wasn't about to bet on those odds.
Their relationship remained strictly platonic; if Malcolm returned his feelings, than he never let it show. Mike needed a distraction from stupid adolescent feelings, and Malcolm was once again withdrawing from him, so he began signing up for competitive, three-Pokemon tournaments (low level ones, of course); maybe that could cheer him up, but Mike was so emotionally exhausted, he really didn't know what else to do. Nobody seemed to really bat an eye when he signed up, so Mike figured that teenagers were a typical sight in the competitive scene. To be fair, a lot of trainers he saw battle in these kind of places were
around his age, or younger. He even ended up getting thoroughly defeated by quite a few of them, but there really was nothing better than the rush of these battles. His Pokemon were always full of energy during them, and after, Mike took special care of his fighting trio, making sure they were never overworked.
Even though he loved what he did, Mike couldn't help but feel guilty and selfish. He'd started falling behind on everything he associated with Joseph: poetry, sketching, music, simply enjoying nature itself. Had he become so caught up with what Mike wanted that he forgot to live for the things Joseph would've enjoyed? It didn't help that Malcolm said similar things, asking if Mike was truly happy, or whether he was really cut out for competitive battling. The boy hadn't placed well in his tournaments, even though he'd had fun, so Malcolm definitely had a point. Maybe he should stop being so obsessed with his own dreams, and focus more on not letting other people down.
Mike steadily became more discouraged, and his Pokemon noticed the difference. Edgar would lay down at his feet and look up with an expression that could only be described as inquisitiveness, as though the Mightyena wanted to know what was wrong with his trainer. The others, his competitive battling trio, didn't seem to fight with as much enthusiasm. Eventually, with some encouragement from Malcolm, Mike went back home to his parents in Jubilife.
Staying in Jubilife was a low point in Mike's life. Even though he had a friend with him, as Malcolm seemed to never return home, the other boy had changed. The time when he'd been happy with Mike hadn't lasted long, and the sweet, sensitive boy Mike met in Eterna wasn't there anymore. When they talked, Malcolm seemed a million miles away and entirely uninterested in any conversation. Mike had no idea how to break through the chilly wall that now encompassed his friend he'd once known well. At least, he thought he'd known Malcolm once; maybe that entire time, Mike had seen what he wanted to, just like how he imagined things for Joseph.
The revelation that his closest friend might be nothing more than a stranger shook him to his very core. What if he didn't know himself, either? Was his closeness to Joseph nothing more than the product of a child's endless play-pretend, a hopeless, impossible wish for a dead twin to return? Malcolm said as much-Mike had told him about Joseph forever ago, but he'd never said anything other than the usual condolences and admittance to not being able to understand such loss. Now, as if sensing Mike's doubts, he occasionally brought up how pointless and unhealthy it was to be lost in mourning for someone who'd been dead for over a decade. "Joseph's not coming back. You shouldn't pretend otherwise." Malcolm wasn't wrong, but he certainly wasn't kind about it.
His encroaching depression made Mike similar to Malcolm: dispassionate, short-tempered, and always far away. This seemed to please his friend, who said stuff about how life wasn't made for people who wanted to be happy. The boy's changed personality only reverted around his Pokemon, but even then, Mike still lacked his old enthusiasm and curiosity. His parents took notice of this personality change, but their concern was never really tangible. If he had to vocalize a major flaw of his parents, it was their inability to properly approach the subject of their son's mental health. They seemed content to pretend that the problems simply weren't there.
One day, Malcolm broke off their friendship, and he was completely blunt about it. As salt in the wound, he reminded Mike of his failures in Pokemon battling, and how he should probably look into something different before he was inevitably disappointed. Malcolm then told Mike not to try and contact him anymore before leaving. Mike didn't know what to feel; their friendship had already ended before this, Malcolm had just taken longer to acknowledge it. Withdrawing further within himself, Mike tried to make sense of his life. What was he even doing? He wished to be a competitive trainer, but he'd been terrible at it even before falling behind on training. Was his goal nothing more than a pipe dream?
In response to losing a close friend and falling into depression, Mike did what he usually did when his feelings became overwhelming; he lost himself in all the things he associated with Joseph. Carrying sketchbooks around and reading texts on poetry became the new thing for Mike, but he could never truly immerse himself in any of it. Mike felt as though he was finally disassociating from what he'd always thought of himself as: a vessel for two souls always meant to be together.
He worked odd jobs around Jubilife alongside his hobbies, giving most of the money to his parents since they let him live with them (the rest went towards buying things for his Pokemon). Mike never really felt happy, but he had some comfort in the form of a new friend. He'd met another aspiring competitive trainer over the Internet, a boy named Leo. After Malcolm, Mike guarded himself more and wasn't as open, but their friendship progressed at a healthy pace. It was nice to have another person to talk to again, and Leo's competitive nature inspired Mike to take up his old hobby again. This time, he could do it. He could make his dream come true; all Mike needed was a little time.
- adulthood (pre-epidemic):
Mike got back into competitive training with renewed energy, and his battling trio were all too eager to get back as well. He even found the motivation to start taking part in tournaments again. Mike never placed especially high, but he did better than before. Besides, Pokemon battling was a great source of revenue; it took time, but his Pokemon claimed enough victories for him to have the funds to get their own place. It wasn't incredibly spacious, but it was better than leeching off his parents.
When he battled, Mike was all smiles and cheer. He never showed any hints of his depression and anxiety, mostly for the sake of his Pokemon (they already worried about him enough). While nowhere near a big-name level, and still a rookie competitive trainer, Mike felt a sense of belonging. It wasn't enough to chase away the doubts constantly attacking him, but he stayed, mostly for his Pokemon's sake and because Leo's excitement upon hearing about his latest battles was always worth it.
Outside of battling, however, Mike's mental health wasn't doing so well. He'd always struggled with depression and low self-esteem, even though he'd always kept it to himself to avoid the judgments of others-his own parents didn't like the idea that their kid had issues with his brain, so they weren't a good source of help. Without telling any of his friends or family (it was his business anyways), Mike began to look for a therapist, unable to stand the idea of dealing with his problems by himself any longer. The first guy he got wasn't very helpful; Mike could tell he didn't give a fuck about his client, even as he broke down and rambled on and on about his shitty mind telling him shitty things. The second was far more understanding and receptive, even recommending him a support group to help him with Joseph. Or, as she worded it, to help heal the schism in his identity.
Mike wasn't too sure about the idea of meeting a bunch of other "twinless twins". He was certain that they would play some sort of suffering competition, who was made the most miserable by their other half's death, that kind of thing, and he was not interested. To Mike's surprise, however, all of them were pretty nice and understanding, without any of the one-upping nonsense. Due to his defensive personality, Mike didn't speak much, but listening to others' stories of losing their twins and coping with the loss made him feel less alone. Finally, other people understood the pain that had shaped his entire life.
The more he stayed around others who could empathize with his grief, the more Mike knew that he couldn't keep living for Joseph forever. His twin was gone, and nothing could bring him back. His entire life, Mike lived with the burden of two names, and the expectation of another boy being at his side. Was it possible to live for himself without forgetting Joseph? Everyone in his support group said so, but after clinging so long to his twin, it was harder for Mike himself to believe. As he'd done in childhood, he imagined what Joseph would say. For what felt like the first time, his imagination failed him. His twin had died when they were three-everything Mike imagined about him was the projection of a lonely child. He didn't know if Joseph would be happy or betrayed to see his twin move on. What Mike did know was that they weren't the same person...and Joseph deserved to be remembered for who he was, not who his twin thought him to be.
It was far easier to think such things than it was to truly begin separating himself from Joseph, but Mike still tried. He had to, for both their sakes.
Mike put a pause on his training, instead electing to live quietly at home for awhile and give his Pokemon a break. Their victories had accumulated a fair bit of money, enough to cover living for quite awhile. His three fighters seemed happy to be able to laze about all day, and the others followed him around at pretty much every moment of the day. Edgar was especially glad to see his trainer slowing the pace of his life for once, and the Mightyena showed his appreciation by getting slobber all over Mike's clothes. Despite the drool, Mike felt relaxed for the first time in a long time. He used his time to catch up with his parents and talk more with Leo and Miles, his cousin that he'd met on a much-needed vacation to Alola shortly before Mike returned to the competitive scene. Following his therapist's recommendations, Mike also began to focus more on his individual traits-what he wanted to do, what caught his interest, things along that line. It wasn't easy, as he felt horribly selfish doing so, but it was necessary for helping his identity separate itself from that of his twin. Mike often had to stop and remember to act as he himself would, not what he thought Joseph would do.
After some time had passed, Mike had elected to return to his training; though they'd enjoyed their opportunity to be lazy and sleep all day, his Pokemon looked eager to participate in battles again. Unfortunately, they only had a week of normalcy before the world changed in a way it could likely never return from.
Mike was lucky enough to have been out of town when the chaos started-if you consider losing track of your family but avoiding most of the undead hordes to be lucky. For the woefully short time that everything appeared to be normal, he dismissed the rumors about Pokemon-wild and domestic alike-attacking humans. If anyone had been attacked, it was probably a would-be explorer stumbling onto a nest and royally pissing off something like an Ursaring. Nothing to be worried about. Unfortunately, it didn't take long before he was proven wrong, as always. Pokemon were becoming seriously ill and violent-tempered, enough for him to keep his own secure in their Pokeballs just to be safe. But even that wouldn't be the worst of it.
They weren't just sick-in some morbid, impossible way, Pokemon were coming back from the dead. Maybe they were even unable to die like normal creatures did. Mike learned that soon enough, when a Furret that should have been dead picked itself back up from the ground again. Or, rather, crawled towards him and another trainer. There was no way she could have lived through the physical trauma-the Normal-type had taken a Double Edge from an Aggron. That should have broken every bone in her body, yet the Furret still struggled to reach the two humans and the Pokemon that attacked her. It was a scene straight out of a horror flick, yet Mike still felt a cold panic run through his entire body. The poor Furret didn't stop moving until her skull was crushed entirely, and by that point, Mike was ready to throw up. Or faint.
That Furret wouldn't be the only Pokemon who seemingly didn't die easy, or returned from what should have killed any normal creature. Soon, the things were everywhere-and society was falling apart in their wake. Mike couldn't reach his parents due to overworked communication lines, and it didn't take long before they failed altogether. People and Pokemon were dying. Looking back, Mike knew he only lived through sheer luck.
As things really started to turn to shit, Mike kept his Pokemon close, and tried to get back home to both his own place and that of his parents. By that point, however, there was no way he could've made it through the gathered undead (or walkers, as Mike heard another person call them) without severe risk to both his own life and that of his Pokemon. He was forced to keep away, at least until the majority of the walkers moved on, or were killed by survivors looking to carve out some sort of safe place.
By the time he was actually able to get back to where his apartment was, it was unsurprisingly ransacked, and his parents' home was similarly empty. Mike hated to admit it, but he never expected anything less. An empty home, however, didn't mean they were dead. He hadn't discovered their bodies, and though there was dried blood, that didn't necessarily have to have come from either one of them. There was still hope. A tiny sliver of hope, but it was there nonetheless. Gathering what little supplies remained, Mike set out with his Pokemon, rarely staying in one place for long. Along the way, he salvaged a strange piece of technology. After fiddling with the damn thing for god-knew how long, he heard someone tell him to trash it...and realized the voice had come from none other than his Mightyena. From what his team would later tell him, his eyes grew as wide as the full moon, and he was struck dumb for a good half hour. Mike wasn't so sure about that last bit, but being able to directly speak to his companions after years of nonverbal communication felt like too much of a good thing in their bleak world. Yet, he still happily used the device, his excitement over hearing his beloved Pokemon speak overriding any sort of caution.
With their lives becoming nomadic, Mike lost track of how much time had passed since society crumbled around him. It always felt unreal, as though he'd wake up the next morning to his alarm going off in his apartment, telling him to get ready for the day. The walkers remained, though, and the dangers never went away. He never encountered his family, nor any of his friends; his only solace was that none of his Pokemon perished, with even the smallest of them surviving thanks to caution (and likely a lot of luck). His home region was too far away to reach, leaving Mike stranded in Sinnoh, likely permanently. It was disturbing to see the metal corpses of the cities he'd once visited and battled in, to know that the challengers and the audience members were likely all dead. Such sights stirred those horrible dark feelings within him, the thoughts of the pointlessness of life that always tormented him. His Pokemon began to keep an eye on him at night, and never left him alone. Depression had been tormenting him for years, and they weren't about to lose him to it now.
Mike wished to find other humans, but unfortunately, most of his run-ins with survivors were...unpleasant. Even though he could speak to Pokemon, they were never keen on diplomacy, and the one human he met attempted to steal his supplies at gunpoint (they would've succeeded had Hecate not returned from hunting and taken them by surprise). For a long time, it was Mike, his Pokemon, and their weird translating device. He wondered where his parents were, and his friends; where they safe, or at least alive? Some of them, like Leo, were in far-away regions that Mike could never hope to reach. He would likely never see any of them again. The thought haunted him, and plagued his nightmares, a constant reminder of his failures.
One bright spot in the midst of despair was that not all of his encounters with other humans went horribly wrong. Mike eventually began traveling with two women who could've effortlessly kicked him into the dirt, Theta and Lumina; the three made for an efficient, if rather mismatched personality-wise, trio. He got along great with Lumina's weird skeleton horse, Rafael, but boy she did not seem to enjoy any of their wonderful puns. Theta made for great company too, and before long, the little group felt like the closest thing he had to family since before the outbreak. Eventually, another woman named Charlotte would join them, though she was somehow even less willing to socialize than Lumina. Mike could understand why, though. He'd be withdrawn too, if his little sister was missing. That is, if he had a little sister, and not just a twin brother who'd been dead for over twenty years. Though he felt absolutely awful for even thinking it, a part of him was jealous that Charlotte had a chance of seeing her sister again. He'd give anything for the mere chance, even a tiny bit of hope, of seeing his own sibling, impossible as it was.
Of course, indulging in that selfish thought only brought him more self-loathing. Typical. His family could be alive, and his Pokemon all remained, what right did he have to feel envious? Despite these ugly feelings, Mike still wanted to at least help Charlotte find her missing sister; she seemed lost and miserable without her. It made him wonder what his own expression looked like, having long avoided his reflection out of disgust.
Their travels took them to Veilstone, where Mike was shocked to find that the Department Store was home to a lot of survivors-including a bunch of other humans as well. Though it was amazing to see so many humans had lived, and that they'd chosen a great spot for a hideout, Mike felt his old anxiety towards people returning, and tried to keep to himself as much as he could. The Department Store was a safe place, and the survivors there seemed stable enough, but what of the rest of Veilstone? Were they truly safe, or was the security an illusion?
Mike didn't think he wanted to know the answer.
-Mike is incredibly sympathetic. He is easily upset by people being cruel or insensitive to others, even if it seems that they 'deserved' it. Going along with this, he also is typically nonviolent (with the exception of self-defense or to protect loved ones) and despises senseless death, preferring alternative methods to dealing with others rather than delivering a death sentence. It is easy to see him as overly idealistic, and in a way, Mike is. However, he knows better than to think that circumstances will always be in his favor, and he'll never be forced to kill.
-Mike's self-esteem and sense of worth is fractured. He believes himself to be worthless and secretly hated by everyone, and his mind will instinctively analyze anything said or done to him for hints of said hatred. In a way, Mike tries to convince himself of malicious feelings that may or may not actually exist-if he hates himself so much, how can it be possible that others don't hold such strong feelings as well? He can't comprehend why anyone would ever tolerate his presence, and believes that he only brings harm to others around him.
-Can easily be described as short-sighted and self-centered, though he never really intends to be. Mike has trouble seeing past his own powerful emotions or worries, and can't really place himself fully in the viewpoints of others. That's not to say he can never understand how other people think or feel; he simply gets caught up in how his own mind works, and can end up saying things that Mike either instantly or eventually regrets.
-Mike has anxiety, constantly stressing over everything in his life, from big events to the most insignificant happenings. More often than not, his fears are unwarranted and, in his mind, an overreaction. However, he doesn't always have control over all of the fears that plague his mind, and they're not easily dispelled. His mind also has a terrible habit of reminding him of his deepest fears, and bringing up the events or memories that stroke these terrors further, which can-and has-sent him into a panic.
-He is very easily embarrassed and suffers humiliation even from things other people might view as harmless jokes; Mike has an extraordinarily good memory for times when he was horribly embarrassed, regardless of whether anyone else saw it as such. He will stop himself from saying or taking part in certain things due to this fear. However, sometimes Mike can be quite snappy and defensive when attempting to escape his embarrassment, even towards people he genuinely cares for.
-He is extremely paranoid, with everything that could go wrong always running through his head, no matter how impossible or ridiculous the scenarios become (Mike can be categorized as a strong believer in Murphy's Law). Often, this leads him to assume the worst of others, anticipating hatred or betrayal even from his closest friends, though Mike would never dare voice these fears aloud-if he's wrong and accuses his loved ones of something that horrible, then the once-nonexistent contempt could suddenly become all too real.
-Suffers from chronic depression and suicidal thoughts. He cannot be left alone for an extended amount of time, something his Pokemon are all well-aware of. Mike is often emotionally numb, socially drained, and completely burnt out on the very fiber of existence. Anything-and often, nothing at all-can trigger his despondency, even if only minutes ago, he had been laughing and happy. This plays morbidly well with his low self-esteem, causing Mike to think of himself as unwanted, unloved, and completely unneeded; a stupid, useless, and awkward human being with no place they belong.
-He may have depression and a host of other troubles, but Mike can still be happy and energetic, and oftentimes it's not easy to tell that he has anything weighing him down mentally. Though he didn't have much in the way of a social circle, Mike was still known for his razor wit, wide variety of jokes, and his love of stories. If given the chance, he has an endless supply of life stories ranging from absolutely hilarious to tragic, and will absolutely recite all of them. That's not taking into account his seemingly-bottomless well of mundane knowledge, which he's all too eager to bring up in conversation.
-Tying in with the previous paragraph, he can talk up a storm if you let him. Try not to. Mike is passionate about his interests and hobbies, and wants to share them with other people (assuming, of course, he doesn't feel as though said people would mock him over it). Though he never set his sights on becoming any sort of storyteller, Mike has plenty of his old (fictional, not his life tales) stories still with him, most in his head and a few that were actually written out. He would love nothing more than to share these with a person he can unconditionally trust, and during the times he's not forced to think about survival or other such serious matters, Mike is constantly lost in thoughts about the fictional worlds he once wanted to share with the world.
-Though typically shy and hesitant to become caught up in conflict, if he thinks someone is being factually incorrect, morally disgusting, or both at once, Mike will not hesitate to slam down the facts. Few things anger him more than people using falsehoods and blatant emotional manipulation in order to justify their bigotry, and he won't stand for it.
-He's prone to bouts of envy towards other people, up to and including his friends and family; Mike refers to these unwanted feelings as the "green-eyed monster." Mostly, he covets people who have stable mental health, and healthy relationships (as in, the romantic kind). If Mike ever met another person who had a living twin, he'd probably be jealous of them too. He's not proud of these feelings, using them as evidence that he's actually not that great of a person.
-He has strong opinions, but tries his absolute best not to let them override logic. This doesn't always work, unfortunately, and he can give in to heated emotions when it comes to subjects he's passionate about...or defensive towards. Mike isn't always the best at debates for this very reason, and even when he does have good points, they are often lost to his quick temper or confidence-shattering nerves.
-Mike loves being a provider of new knowledge, and absorbs information without a second thought. Losing access to the Internet and almost all the books he once had, therefore losing his entrance to the collections of human knowledge, was a huge blow to him. He'll accept any book at this point, and is desperate to recover more.
-He is easily attached, whether it be to real people, fiction, or simply vague ideas. Mike has a hard time letting go of the past as a result, and often pines for "better days"...even though his logical side knows that those days weren't all sunshine, and the one person he misses the most was never good for him, nor was Mike good for him in return. Nostalgia is one of his greatest weaknesses.
-He doesn't have the best work ethic, but Mike still does his best to carry his weight in a group. Being seen as a burden or dead weight is the very last thing he wants, nor does he enjoy the idea of other people being forced to pick up the slack when he's an adult and can take care of himself. The worst offense of his is leaving out bits of trash, but it's never that much (at least not to him; Lumina would definitely disagree on the matter).
-Loves and cherishes each one of his Pokemon, and does whatever he can to take care of them and keep them safe. As evident by his team, Mike is biased in favor of canine and feline Pokemon, likely due to the fact that he grew up with them. All of his Pokemon have his absolute trust, and he wouldn't mind being on his own again with just them at his side...even though losing his human companions wouldn't be enjoyable, admittedly.
-Though he's fairly open to other people, Mike has difficulty forming legitimate trust and fulfilling relationships. Past mistreatment has made him more cautious towards other humans, and he fears becoming close to another only to be stabbed in the back again. When befriended, a part of him is always wondering why the other person sticks around-his low self-esteem tells him he's worthless, which has made Mike cautious towards those who spend their time with them. Questions that always seem to stick in his mind are: "What do they want? What if they're just using me? Do they just pity me?" Though understandable in the context of past trauma, this is nonetheless a rather disadvantageous insecurity.
-Mike is very affectionate, though since all of his relationships are platonic, he keeps it toned down. Where he grew up, people with his sexuality were not well understood, leaving young Mike with crippling insecurities that caused him to never reveal his crushes (or, more accurately, crush), ask anyone out, or dare approach the dating world; thus, as an adult, he feels as though he 'missed out' and is completely out-of-the-loop romance wise. It probably doesn't help that the only one who he ever felt romantic interest for at all, in an awful and morbid coincidence, ended up being the catalyst for many of the insecurities and painful memories that affect Mike to this day. As desperate for that kind of love (romantic) as he is, Mike's not yet ready or willing to show that sort of emotional vulnerability.
-Despite the amount of time that has passed since his twin brother died (twenty-two years), Mike never lost his feelings of incompleteness, and thanks to the unique bonds shared between twins, he likely will never truly "get over it". Though Mike has mostly learned to separate his own identity from that of Joseph, he still involuntarily experiences a longing to see his lost brother again, and an acute sense of both regret and emptiness, as though a part of him has been lost and can never be recovered. Occasionally, Mike still has to stop himself from acting like his own mental image of Joseph would. He doesn't mind talking about Joseph to others, and still pays his respects to his twin, including speaking to him in private. It brings Mike a sense of peace, and temporarily soothes his survivor's guilt.
-He is terrified of the dark, but is too ashamed to admit it for fear of appearing to be childish or cowardly. Sleeping alone is a daunting prospect for him, so Mike likes to keep his Pokemon out of their Pokeballs at night in order to feel safe in their presence; they all know of his fear, so he is far more comfortable around them. Mike is also afraid of heights, and has had panic attacks be triggered by him going up into high places before. He tends to avoid ladders, catwalks, and other such places as a result.
-Mike has a great deal of admiration for the battle prowess of his fellow Dark-type trainers, especially those who managed to make it into groups such as the Elite Four (such as Karen, Sidney, and Grimsley). He could be described as a closet fanboy, because Mike would never dare act anything less than professional if he met them in person (well, maybe not around Sidney, but who knows). Though definitely biased towards Dark-type trainers, Mike tends to hold a lot of respect for any high-level trainer, especially those who used to compete in tournaments.