(I’ve split his history into multiple spoiler tags as it makes it easier to read, at least to me. Hope that's okay!)
- pt. 1:
Mike was born in Hoenn, living specifically in tiny, overlooked Oldale Town. He and his twin brother Joseph were cared for more by the neighbors than their own parents, both of whom showed little emotional interest in either child. It was a lonely life-their parents were very good at pretending to have a happy family-but at least having nice neighbors made things easier. One of the townspeople even helped the brothers befriend their first Pokemon, a Poochyena for Mike and a Ralts for Joseph; their childhood wasn’t as empty after that. Mike still longed for a chance to get away from their parents’ uncaring presence, though. They didn’t pay attention even when he tried to tell them about his Poochyena, only ever giving stern reminders about taking care of him, as if Mike needed to be told.
Though held back for several years by their parents, both Mike and Joseph eventually managed to set out on a Pokemon journey together. Their badge collecting wasn’t very rushed; both of them were far too easily distracted for that, with Mike constantly writing things down and his brother being obsessed with anything space-related. Pokemon battling was fun, but he was far more interested in learning as much as possible. Mike had always dreamed of writing a novel someday; his journey would be a great time to get ideas for one. After six badges, he was feeling very confident about this goal, and wanted to share with Joseph some thoughts he’d had. Their next stop was meant to be Mossdeep; Mike knew his brother would go full Space Nerd mode there, he was excited to see it happen even though he only ever understood a third of what Joseph said every time that fixation came up.
Unfortunately, his parents chose then to demand Mike meet up with them in Slateport for one of their many stupid “family outings”, where they sidelined the two or just used them to vent. It was always terrible, and deeply uncomfortable; Mike hated the reminder his parents didn't actually care about him. He couldn’t say no, though, feeling too guilty at the thought. Mike accepted his fate and turned right back around, taking public transport to the oceanside city. That was how he and Joseph ended up in Slateport instead of Mossdeep, both obviously annoyed by their situation; it was how they were caught up in the same accident that killed their parents.
Mike found out later it was apparently a partial building collapse, but for him, it felt as if things had been perfectly normal one minute and the next, his whole world was lost in a haze of agony and darkness. He hadn’t been conscious enough to hear anyone screaming, or feel trapped, or know his family was in trouble. Mike had taken some not-insignificant head trauma in the accident; it was awhile before he was aware enough to understand his parents were gone. He’d been complaining about being around them, and now they were dead. To make the guilt eating his heart worse, his brother had endured even worse injuries; he’d even been conscious longer during the accident, before they’d been rescued. Mike learned all this from Joseph himself later, and felt despair at the thought that somehow, he’d been almost entirely spared while his immediate family either suffered immensely or died. Head trauma or no, it was not fair at all.
The two boys were in the hospital for awhile, Joseph for a far longer period of time. One-really the only-silver lining in the nightmare was that his Pokemon had come through unscathed, neither of the Pokeballs broken. It gave him some comfort, having his Mightyena and Absol there at his side. Everything around this time should have crawled past, felt slowed down, but for him it was more of a whirlwind than anything. His parents’ funerals, meeting the relative who’d agreed to take them in, moving things from their old childhood home-all this and more, it blurred together. Mike wasn’t sad about leaving Hoenn either, really, even as he said goodbye to the Oldale neighbors he’d known for years. The accident had stolen away whatever positive emotions he had for the region.
- pt. 2:
Living in Sinnoh was, on the surface, not that bad. The home in Jubilife they had with their uncle, a tall man named Mordred, was actually a good place to live all things considered. It was hard to imagine the guy as their father’s brother; he seemed to genuinely care about them and their lives in a way their parents hadn’t, though that thought never sat well with Mike anymore. Whenever their uncle would ask about his day or how he was doing, it always shocked him enough to give him pause before he answered. If Joseph felt the same, he didn’t mention it. The accident and its aftermath had made his brother withdraw from him, and though Mike knew why, he couldn’t help but miss the way they used to share everything. It was painful to see his twin every day, and yet still have an empty space where Joseph once stood.
Unable to fully adjust to his new situation, Mike found himself out of the house more and more. In the midst of guilt and loneliness, he’d taken up battling again as a distraction. Badges no longer mattered to him, but plenty of other teens his age were always looking to pick fights. Messed up as it was, he preferred the way they looked at him with loathing and condescension rather than pity. It validated his own guilt. And psychological bullshit aside, battling itself was honestly more exciting than it'd be before he moved. After adding two more Dark-types to his party, Mike found he wasn’t actually that bad at the whole thing; it became his main hobby, his writing now almost fully abandoned. He’d never gotten back into it after the accident.
It was during this time in his life that Mike met his closest (human) friend: a boy around his age named Danny Bright. He’d never had anyone bother with him after a battle for any reason other than petty revenge, but Danny was different. Even after losing to him, the boy still acted cheery and outgoing in a way Mike absolutely wasn’t. He didn't know why anyone would want to be his friend, but he didn't drive this new person away, either. Though his renewed interest in being a trainer started purely as a distraction from trauma, he couldn’t help but enjoy the presence of someone nice who knew nothing about his messed up past. With Joseph no longer talking with him very often (and his Pokemon not exactly having the ability to answer), Mike thrived on having someone his own age to talk to, to relate with. His hobby turned into a strong curiosity towards competitive battling, something Danny enjoyed and was aiming for.
In the years to follow, Mike again spent more time out of his uncle’s house than in it, though he always made sure to come home at night. He and his twin had never truly reconnected, and eventually Joseph moved on to university. It hurt more than anything to know they’d probably never be the same again; Mike threw himself into his hobbies and singular passion, all in an effort to keep from thinking on it. Truthfully, it wasn’t healthy of him to keep repressing the pain, to refuse all his uncle’s attempts to get him connected with things like therapy, but Mike never wanted to confront the past. He just wanted to feel normal, and if neglecting himself in favor of his best friend and their shared dreams helped with that, then it had to happen. Besides, he was far happier spending time with Danny rather than wallowing in his own misery.
Of course, his luck was never with him. Danny eventually had to move to an entirely new region, and though they could keep in touch online easily, for Mike it wasn’t the same as him being close by. As was inevitable, he began to sink back into his depression. First Joseph left, then Danny... the only thing Mike knew how to do was not think about it. Job applications helped with that; they had to no connection to the things he felt he'd lost. He already had quite a bit of money saved up, anyway, so it made sense. The best thing Mike felt he could do was strike out on his own; it had to be better than leeching off his uncle’s kindness. And at least his job let him write again.
Mike did eventually get his own place, a small apartment in Jubilife where he and his Pokemon lived. He thought it best to stay close to home, for his Pokemons' sake if nothing else. Even with his new job and lack of interest in battling, he would never neglect or abandon them. They always got attention, their needs met, no matter how bad his depression became. Mike made sure of it. He also visited his uncle as much as his mental state would allow him to, and talking to Danny was of course a daily occurrence. It was his best attempt to live some kind of life, and as long as he didn't think too hard about the past, it seemed to work.
Joseph, though, almost never answered his texts. Mike found himself failing to send them, after enough time had passed. That was the one thing he could never manage to put out of his mind.
- part 3:
Mike’s adult life was... normal. That was what he always wanted, right? His coworkers saw him as friendly and helpful. He had his own space, with his Pokemon friends there. He talked to his best friend every day. Still, something was missing... there was an emptiness Mike couldn’t describe, nor bring himself to confront. It wasn’t Joseph. He’d long since learned what the pain of missing him felt like. No, Mike didn’t understand what was wrong with him, only that he had to do everything in his power to bury it out of sight.
What happened when he was only 23 years old made that very easy to do.
The rumors were scattered, terrifying, and somehow strangely distant. Apparently, there were Pokemon in other regions who were becoming not only very sick, but incredibly violent too. Some people claimed their corpses were rising back up to attack everyone in sight, like some sort of morbid zombie movie. That one, Mike could hardly believe. Maybe it was stupid not to when ghosts and other phenomena existed, but the rumor was so gruesome, he didn’t want to accept it as fact. People spread wild, fake ideas all the time, surely this was just another one of those?
It wasn’t. It’s almost unreal how quickly life can turn itself upside down, how fragile existence really is. He'd known it before, but this was far beyond the scale of a single accident he suffered as a child. Mike had the distinct misfortune of living in a big city when Sinnoh became the next target of the virus that truly did raise the dead; the amount of blood, suffering, and violent death he witnessed was, in its own way, surreal. He never found his uncle. Joseph and Danny never responded to his frantic attempts to contact them. His one miracle was the survival of all his Pokemon companions; for their sake, Mike did the one thing he’d always been best at. He buried it all. He took the despair, grief, everything that might have made him a burden, and threw it out of sight. Anything less, and Mike probably never would have survived.
He didn’t track the time he spent living in this entirely new Sinnoh; Mike worried he might be driven to something horrible if he knew exactly how long this nightmare dragged on. It got even worse after scavenging the device that let him talk to his companions. What should have been a wonderful, life-changing event was corrupted by the fact Mike had an even stronger awareness of how badly they were doing. He’d known they were both depressed and exhausted in the midst of the endless blur of days and months, but hearing it straight from them made the bleak reality hit so much harder. It didn't help that they also missed his friends and family. All of them were bound together in grief.
It was a long time before they met anyone else, human and Pokemon alike. At that point, Mike had long lost hope of ever seeing his human loved ones again. The group he fell in with helped with that despair, at least somewhat; his Pokemon were always going to be his closest companions, but still. The three women-Lumina, Theta, and Charlotte- and a Ninetales became his traveling group, and he quickly grew to care for them. Whether due to a lack of human contact or if he simply connected with them that much, Mike didn’t care. Eventually, their little band found a place to stay in the Veilstone Department Store, a point of safety in an otherwise incredibly dangerous city. Here Mike met a little Eevee who'd been hiding by himself; he without question accepted the Normal-type's request to join him and his Pokemon. How could he have ever said no to that?
Over time, to his surprise, more people and Pokemon found their way to the mall, and a small community began to form. Mike has no idea what would draw so many people to a once-abandoned department store, but he’s not opposed; after so long wandering and losing both himself and his beloved Pokemon to depression, he’s glad for this chance. Together with his friends, they’ve built a (mostly) stable place to live, and he wouldn’t turn anyone away. Mike just hopes it can keep staying that way; safe and hospitable.
+Kind, genuinely affable towards others; when in the right mood, he loves to talk and joke around with people. positive and encouraging, but with the right person (such as Lumina) Mike takes on somewhat of a sibling role; joking teasing, mock fighting, being endearingly annoying
-this is natural for him, as he once had this same dynamic with his brother and adopted it again with Danny Bright
+A lot of his past trauma centers around being ignored, neglected, and otherwise treated as a non-person, so his anxiety tends to revolve around this; being brushed off or met with silence, etc has him immediately begin to panic internally, wondering what it is he has done wrong
-Self blame is his gut instinct for many situations, especially triggering ones; Mike is no stranger to criticizing or holding himself to a higher standard than he would other people
+Tries to act as an emotional support, especially when people around him are obviously depressed or when tensions are high; if someone approaches him wanting help or needing a person to vent to, he won’t turn them away
-This ties in with him being a mediator of sorts; knowing how delicate their situation is, Mike will try to diffuse conflict whenever he can, especially if there’s a risk of violence breaking out
+Has a consistent tendency to repress his own pain, seeing his own feelings as a burden best not placed upon anyone else; striking a balance between his own needs and those of the people around him is not something Mike is any good at. Even when he’s barely able to function due to depression, he’ll try to push through it anyways
-Definitely trapped in emotional burnout, but is in denial of this. Refuses to acknowledge that his mantra of not thinking about it is very unhealthy
+Having been mostly neglected by his parents and shown care and compassion by the others in his hometown instead, Mike has grown to be a communal person who cherishes strong ties within a group, and becomes withdrawn/listless if deprived of this; feels a responsibility towards Veilstone as a whole, and tries to help meet the needs of the residents
-This includes making sure newcomers are less overwhelmed by their new home
-He’ll willingly take on unwanted and/or physically demanding tasks to keep others from having to do so
•Is extremely empathetic in the literal sense; he cannot help but try and connect emotionally to other people regardless of who they are, and sometimes that means he has strong emotional reactions to shitty people. Mike sees this empathy as a curse, an unwanted poison that makes him closer to the sort of person he would despise
-So sensitive about this, he very likely would snap at someone if they praised him for his empathy
-Hates anything involving secondhand embarrassment and/or schadenfreude
•The epidemic has added a great deal of fear and shame centering around his disability, as Mike has no way of knowing upfront whether someone will accept him or be ableist instead; he worries over being judged as useless, so he tries to hide it as much as possible. This includes silently enduring pain, or concealing his struggles to write, things of this nature
•Deeply ashamed of his past, particularly the accident that claimed his parents’ lives and the countless years of trauma that followed. Mike does not outright say it, but he feels like little more than a failure who did nothing with his life, wasting it instead on pointless distractions and endless mental health episodes. Perpetually feels empty inside because of this
+If he talks of his past, it’s the ultimate show of trust for Mike
+Deeply misses his family and best friend beyond words, in particular his twin. If Mike was given the chance to go back in time and find a way to keep them from drifting apart, he’d accept in an instant. As it is, he’s constantly wracked with guilt, regret, and hopeless grief