Kane remembers their father. They wish they couldn’t, but they do. He was the centerpiece of the hazy collage that made up their childhood: a jealous, bitter man who hated the world for wronging him. What he despised most within it-the one who had hurt him more than anything-was his child. Kane’s birthing parent, a short man who always wore a smile on his youthful face in old pictures, had taken his own life only a few months after giving birth as a horrible result of untreated postpartum depression. For their entire childhood, Kane took the blame, and their father never stopped reminding them of how they’d robbed him of the only worthwhile person in his life. Kane, too young to protest, internalized the shame and hatred. They were born bad, and nothing could change it.
Their father never treated them like a human, let alone his own child; instead, they were his tool. Having been robbed of his dreams in his childhood, the man forced them upon Kane instead. If he was going to be forced to feed and house them, they were damn well going to give something back. Their days became a repeating cycle of following the harsh lessons their father forced upon them. Most of it involved hours of manual labor, a strict educational regime, and what Kane could only describe as obedience training. When he told them to sprint until they collapsed, they did so. When he made them sit in one spot for hours of lessons and punished them for fidgeting, they never complained. When he screamed in their face for what felt like years, they forced their own expression to be blank and unfeeling. There was never any time for play or relaxation, only endless work. Kane was physically exhausted and emotionally stagnated. They felt uncreative, stupid, and useless. Combined with the fact they were homeschooled, and that their father rarely went out without them, Kane’s life was like being an animal trapped in a cage.
But at least they were “the perfect kid”. People praised them for being such a good, obedient child; how had his father done it? The man would puff up his chest, and declare that all it took was tough love and perseverance. Other parents would ooo and aaa and ask questions, and Kane hated them. The attention never earned them any rewards. It only made their father double down on reminding them they were a blight upon his life. That, and the kids they saw during these encounters usually looked at them with envious dislike, as if they’d chosen their life.
As a pre-teen, Kane became the victim of another psychological minefield. Their father hadn’t only been deprived of his athletic dreams, his family also stole away his Pokemon journey. Because of this, he wanted to do the same thing, but at the same time, they were expected to gain the skill to become a Champion. Kane was, after all, merely an extension of a long-lost desire. They weren’t really his child. They began to be drilled on battling, and their father was no less cruel here than he was with their physical labor or education. The former lessened in favor of Pokemon training and study, but there was always at least one day saved for it. Their father was nothing if not devoted to making sure they never enjoyed their life.
Pokemon battling may have been something exciting for other kids, but for Kane, it only reminded them of their utter inadequacy. They were useless at strategy, and somehow worse at leading. There was no shining storybook moment where they bonded with their father’s Pokemon, either. No, not one of them ever lifted a finger to stop the abuse, and so Kane hated them. They were the symbols of something Kane dreaded, and this feeling eventually spread to all Pokemon. The only reason they had any of their own was because they were forced to catch some. Their Bounsweet and Venipede were happy to have a trainer, though, and it made Kane feel so guilty. These Pokemon were stuck with someone who could never love them. Kane would only bring them misery, the same as they’d done to their father by being born.
As years crawled on, and they grew older, Kane never transformed into what they were expected to be. They were a below-average battler, a mediocre athlete, and not gifted academically in any way. Eventually, their father gave up on them. Kane never believed it possible, but this managed to hurt worse than any of the abuse ever did. They weren’t good enough to be used even as a tool. In a desperate attempt to please the parent who’d never loved them, Kane took gentle care of their father as his health began to slowly deteriorate. Everything he needed, they did for him. If he wanted something out of the house, they would drop anything to fulfill the request. They picked up a job to help pay bills, too, and worked long hours without complaint. Maybe, Kane thought, they could earn tolerance from him. Not love, never love, but a grudging acceptance was all they desired. Their wish never came to pass, unsurprisingly. No matter what they did, their father still insulted them. He held Kane’s worst failure over their head the same as he did when they were a very young child. And though he couldn’t force them into endless days of direct torment any longer, the damage to their psyche was long since done.
One day, for seemingly no reason at all, their father told them to leave. He didn’t say why, or what they’d done to earn it. He only wanted them gone. Ever obedient, Kane did as they were ordered. They left, taking only their two Pokemon with them; there was nowhere for them to go, but they didn’t care. The house they existed in had never been a home, anyway, so what right did they have to feel grief at losing it? On the first night of their new “life”, Kane crashed on one of the beds left for traveling trainers at a PokeCenter. Sleep arrived easily, but so did the nightmares. When they awoke, they found that a nurse had placed another blanket over them, and left a cup of water.
For the first time in a long time, they cried.
Kane’s life honestly didn’t change much after leaving their father’s house. The days remained blurry and meaningless, with long hours spent at work and the rest of their waking moments spent being miserable. They’d been deprived of fun and purpose for so long; even in the grasp of supposed freedom, Kane couldn’t find joy. Living with strangers as roommates didn’t help matters. Surrounded by people they could never understand, and lacking any sort of privacy, Kane often simply wandered. They had no clear direction or goal; they just walked until they were too tired to keep going. It was the only hobby they had. Kane’s roommates tried to get them into new things-music, parties, movies-but quickly gave up when it was clear they had no interest in doing anything other than wallowing in self-hate. This was their life for years: pointless, hollow, wretched.
And then they met Erdan.
There had been a heavy storm that night; the rain beat down upon them mercilessly, and cold, sharp winds cut through their coat with ease. Still, Kane walked. They were no stranger to more abstract forms of self-harm. To their shock, however, they soon stumbled across the unconscious form of a red-haired man lying facedown in the rain. Two Phantumps floated above him; for a second Kane wondered if they had attacked him, but their clearly panicked cries soon convinced them otherwise. Acting without thinking of consequences, Kane scooped up the unconscious stranger and hurried him to a PokeCenter. The nurses there were usually trained to help humans and Pokemon alike. In hindsight, Kane probably shouldn’t have moved them and called an ambulance instead, but at the time all they could think of was getting the redhead out of the water and to someplace warm.
Fortunately, the stranger ended up being okay. Less fortunately, this man they’d met by complete chance ended up being the only other human Kane ever truly cared for. They never wished to grow close with anyone, but Erdan found his way into their dead heart. He drew out smiles and laughter from Kane; with him, they were willing to explore new things, and took up interests in both woodcarving and sketching. For the first time in their life, they felt the emotion of passion. It was the strangest experience. Kane wanted to keep creating... they wanted to keep living. Eventually they moved in with Erdan into a small apartment, and there, Kane felt alive. The two watched movies, cooked together, cried together, visited new places side by side-though Erdan could not fix what Kane really was inside, he still made them happy. They even grew closer with their Pokemon during this time. It seemed to be some kind of story, a fairy tale for the damaged goods that was Kane.
Like all stories, it ended.
The day had been a special one: Erdan’s birthday. Kane planned out something to truly make him smile; they’d baked a lovely cake while he was at work the day before, and somehow managed to keep him from opening the case early. They bought him gifts, put up cute decorations, and set up a small collection of Erdan’s favorite movies to marathon. Kane thought it would be perfect. What they didn’t know, however, was that a chance occurrence had badly triggered their partner. Instead of spending a cute and fun day together, Erdan instead spiraled into a horrible, furious meltdown. The two were no strangers to each other’s breakdowns, but this time, all of the words said stabbed straight into Kane’s soul. Erdan tore into them, and they remembered the traumatizing screams of their father, telling Kane how hated they were; their mind flew back to the day they’d been kicked out, and told they were never wanted. The words of past and present mixed together in their panicked thoughts. Erdan’s irrational, unthinking rage flung Kane into an episode of their own. They knew now that they’d ruined whatever love Erdan could have held for them, the same way they’d stolen their father’s happiness. So Kane ran. Without bothering to grab any of their belongings other than their Pokeballs, they ran away.
A year before the end of the world, their life was once again locked into that depressing, hazy nightmare. Without Erdan, Kane devolved back into the worthless mess that they started as. It was a fitting punishment. How could someone like them think they deserved happiness? Once more trapped in that dark place, they began the cycle all over again: no hobbies, no friends, nothing other than working to pay bills. This was Kane’s existence up until the epidemic. By some miracle, they survived the collapse of society and the reign of the dead. It would have been easy to throw themself into the jaws of an undead, and they were tempted to finally end this façade, but Kane never did so purely for the sake of their Pokemon. The two had stayed with them despite everything; Kane couldn’t bring themself to abandon the only beings who considered them a friend.
Early on, as soon as they were able to, Kane did what they never had the courage to do before-they went home. Despite everything, they worried for their father. He’d been sick and weak before the epidemic; they feared the worst, knowing that with their absence, the man likely had no one to care for him. Even if his Pokemon lived, they couldn’t handle human medical needs. To Kane’s initial relief, the man was alive in his home... and severely delirious. They couldn’t know if this happened before the outbreak, or as a result of it, but either way lead to the same conclusion. Kane’s father didn’t recognize them. Instead, he called them by the name of their other parent, the one who died as a result of their existence. Unable to break his heart yet again, Kane played along, and talked to him as if that’s who they truly were. It was the only gift they could give to the man whose misery originated with them. Kane stayed with their father until he died, only a few days later.
Completely emotionally numb, Kane knew they wouldn’t have the strength to give their father a burial. They left him in his bed as if he was merely asleep, not dead; in some attempt at a funeral, they left pictures of their other parent around his lifeless form. One of them was a wedding photo. It felt odd to see that their father once looked so happy. Kane could only hope that what they’d done helped his tortured soul move on. Without a trainer to protect, their father’s Pokemon went their separate ways, and Kane had no choice but to do the same. There was nothing left for them in this house except bad memories.
From that moment on, Kane fell back into the tedium and loneliness they were so used to. Throughout the years, it was mainly themself and their Pokemon; attempts to integrate into survivor groups never worked out. As long as their Pokemon survived, however, none of this mattered to Kane. They’ve stayed alive for this purpose, and nothing else.
-They’re not exactly the greatest conversation partner.
-Kane prefers to speak using as few words as they possibly can, or even none if possible. If someone tries to strike up conversation with them, they’ll be noticeably uncomfortable; in a group, they will often stay off to the side or attempt to blend in without standing out.
-It’s not that they dislike people, they just struggle to think of what to say, and see themself as uninteresting.
-Always a follower, never a leader.
-If someone takes charge and tells them what to do, they will go along without thinking, all for the sake of having a goal to work towards. They aren’t very rebellious, nor insulted by the idea of being bossed around.
-They do have limits, though, and aren’t bereft of morality. Saying no is, in fact, an ability of theirs.
-Kane doesn’t know how to be idle.
-Not doing anything frustrates them to no end. They need a task, a goal, anything to keep their mind distracted and their body moving. There’s nothing Kane hates more than waiting, or feeling useless.
-Often either pacing or working on something, whether necessary tasks or hobbies, to keep themself occupied.
-Doesn’t genuinely care for much of anything anymore, and hasn’t in a long time.
-It’s rare to see them with any outward emotional response; their ability to experience strong feelings has deadened with time and trauma. It still exists, but most of the time, Kane only feels empty.
-Their movements appear to be almost mechanical. Everything they do is merely going through the motions.
-They don’t really care if bad things happen to them, or if others treat them like shit.
-They deserve it, after all.
-If they’re manipulated, or used as a tool, Kane’s instinctive response is “so what”. They will not stand up for themself. Being used is fine; to them, it’s better than not being acknowledged at all. Perfectly content with being dehumanized, and does so to themself on a regular basis.
-Has self harmed their entire life, both physically and emotionally.
-Towards themself, mostly.
-They don’t know how to deal with difficult problems head on. Mainly, their own trauma. Their first instinct when confronted with something out of their control is to either run away, or pretend it doesn’t exist.
-If forced to confront the things they wish to either escape or hide from, Kane will easily break down. Unable to handle the weight of their own psyche.
-They’ve buried their pain for a long time, and they aren’t about to stop now.
-They do not know what it is like to be their own person.
-Kane sees themself less as a completed individual, and more as broken pieces of a human awkwardly fitted back together into an asymmetrical shape. They struggle to identify who they are, or what defines them; they’ve become completely dependent upon how others interpret their existence.
-The only reason they stuck with the name Kane for so long is because Erdan liked it. It had nothing to do with their own preferences.
-They just want to be loved.
-Or maybe more accurately, they just want to feel loved.
-Deep down, they crave true companionship, and hate themself for the emotional distance they’ve put between them and their Pokemon. Kane cannot separate it from the dull haze of their apathetic existence, but they are constantly, painfully sad.
-They wish they’d tried to make things work with Erdan. He still has their heart, and the years of separation have given them an ugly, weeping mental wound.
-More than they think they are.
-They tried to kill this part of them and leave it rotting, but Kane cannot entirely destroy the instinct to care for others. They would give their only cup of water to a stranger, or put themself in harm’s way to save another without thinking.
-Especially protective of kids and defenseless people or Pokemon. There is still a sense of justice lingering within them, despite everything.
-The horrific trauma of being blamed for a parent’s death has never left them.
-Kane feels intense shame for the act of being alive, an emotion that worsens if they dare to feel even the slightest spark of joy. They see themself as a monster, one who should be suffering constantly.
-That they were seriously hurt by Erdan’s lashing out is something they feel regret towards, despite it being justified.