Your childhood wasn’t exactly a good one. A mother who had too many kids with too many men, in a small shack-like home built for two. Who your father was, you had no idea. He didn’t matter. You don’t remember a time when you aren’t panhandling for money from passing tourists and trainers. You don’t know a time when you’re not forcing stolen food into your siblings hands, begging them to run and bring it home. This is your life, a life you don’t know is wrong. You don’t know better, not until a man comes to the house just a handful of weeks after your ninth birthday.
He says he works for the Alolan government. You - and your siblings - need to go with him.
It takes them almost two hours to wrangle you and your siblings into the back of the van. Your mother simply waves from her spot on the porch, her latest child suckling at her breast. You don’t know if you’ll see her again. In that very moment, you don’t care if you do.
You and your siblings arrive at the facility. Your sisters are taken away from you, and then your brothers are separated by age. Fear grips you like nothing you had ever felt before. What was going on? Who were these people? Where were your siblings? Why was this happening? You’re given a uniform and a tiny bedroom and told that this is where you’ll stay while you wait for your new parents to come. You’re nine and a half years old. You’re almost too old to be adopted.
It happens just a year after the people had taken you.
A young woman with wild red hair and kind green eyes approaches you. Her name is Maya, and she lives in Kanto. You haven’t seen your siblings in months. The ache in your chest from the separation flares as this woman talks about her home, and the toys you’ll have, and the Pokemon you’ll see. You don’t know where your siblings are. You don’t know where your mother is, where you are- Maya was giving you a chance to become someone who didn’t steal food for their siblings or money for their mother. She’s giving you a second chance at life, and you’d be an idiot not to take it.
You spend an hour with her, steadily picking her brain, asking questions and making comments. You almost tell her ‘yes’ right away, instead you make her work for it. By the end of the visit, you’ve already made up your mind. Your siblings were old enough to look after themselves, and if they were smart they’d fall into the right hands like you did with Maya. You take the small gathering of your possessions, and the following morning you board a plane that’ll take you to your new home.
Kanto was nothing like Alola. Maya lived in Cerulean City; straddled by a mountains. It was busy; children running around without the fear of being chased by the force, Pokemon following, or watching, adults conversing like nothing was wrong. You were impressed. No one begged for food or money here. Maya showed you to your bedroom, explained that while you lived with her and her husband, you could come and go as you pleased as long as you told them where you were going.
Never leave the city without a Pokemon is one rule you learn to hate early.
You spent the next few years assimilating to the culture and the people. You’re enrolled in the local Trainer’s School. You immediately have a problem with the teachers, and Maya is called a few times from work to come get you. You’re pulled from school before the end of the year, and on any of Maya’s off days you spend in the kitchen, doing the work she managed to get her hands on from the Trainer’s School. You’re fourteen when you finally earn a license to obtain and train Pokemon.
A little older than most starting Trainers, you pack a bag, say your goodbyes to your adopted mother and father, and head down to Pallet. The years you spent training, battling gyms and reaching the League have all but been pushed together as one long blurry memory. You collect all eight badges without issue. The League decimated your team. You lose, and with your loss you tuck your tail between your legs and head home.
You grow resentful of those who make it to the televised portion of the League. The winners become household names overnight. Losers are short-running jokes on the radio. This resentment is probably what finally brought you to go travelling for weeks at a time with a few Pokemon, seeking something… more.
When you meet the Rocket Grunts for the first time, you’re suddenly, keenly aware that they’re all like a rag-tag group of siblings. They’re not related, but they look out for one another, and at the tender age of seventeen you’re hit with a fresh renewal of regret. Your siblings are all out there somewhere; some might be back on Alola, some might be here in Kanto. You’d never know. You avoid Team Rocket, not because you’re scared, but because you’re not sure how to feel about it.
You’re not sure when you manage to convince your mom that you want - no, need to get back to Ulaula, but somehow you manage it. No, you don’t want her to come with you. No, you’re not mad at her. No, you don’t want to find your birth mother- as far as you were concerned, when Maya signed those adoption papers, she was the only mother you knew. You just want to see home again. Calling the far away island home registered shock and hurt on your mother’s face. Home was here, in Cerulean City, in Kanto.
You reach the island and you’re home. You can feel it in your soul. You can feel it in your heart.
First thing on the docket? Find the adoption agency. Find your siblings. Maybe find the only home you had known for nine years of your life. You don’t tell Maya when you’ll be home; you just tell her you’ll come back when you find whatever it is you’re looking for. You find a half brother on the island, the one that had been left with your mother when they had taken the rest of you. Mom’s gone. Died three years ago. There was a little girl behind him, and you learn that she’s your baby sister.
You find that your siblings have all but been scattered. It’ll be near impossible to track them all down. Instead, you find the tiny headstone that simply read “Savina”. You touch it, and expect to feel sad, to feel loss, to feel something that wasn’t resentment. You were angry with your mother. She allowed you to be taken away. She put you into a life that revolved around stealing, begging and running. Resentment that she had kept your younger siblings but gave the rest of you away like you meant nothing.
You return to Kanto three years later.
You’re twenty and eager to move on.
You’re twenty one and living on your own in an apartment not too far from your parents house.
You’re twenty-two when you’re recruited into Team Rocket.
Your life is divided at twenty-three. Your father; a faint figure married to Maya, working all the time, dies of a heart attack. You’re in Lavender Town when your mother calls you, crying into the phone. You tell her you’ll be there for the funeral. You never show up.
You’re twenty-four, and arrested for the first time. Your mother bails you out, but her lips are tight and she doesn’t look at you the same way anymore. You storm out of her house, miserable and resentful that she thinks she can still treat you like the nine year old child she rescued.
You’re twenty-eight and you fall in love. She’s everything you could have asked for and more. She’s spunky, independant and can keep up with you in damn near every aspect of your life. You don’t bring her home to Maya, and you definitely do not tell her you’re a grunt. Instead you let her think you’re a breeder, with real estate all over Kanto. It’s a fun lie; you keep your bad parts hidden and your best parts she holds in her hands. For a long while you let yourself get comfortable and think she’s it. She’s the one.
You’re thirty when she leaves you. She finds your face in an old wanted poster and packs her things. You try and stop her, beg her to stay, to give you another chance. She spits at you and screams in your face, tears running down her face. She leaves your apartment without a look back, and you go to bed numb, for the first time in a very long time, longing for your mother’s warm and comforting hug, and her advice you had shrugged off so carelessly before.
It’s been years since you last saw your mother. You work nearly full time for Team Rocket; you do whatever they ask of you. It’s better than failing the League; it’s better than looking at Maya and seeing that sad look in her eyes, it’s better than mourning the loss of a family you looked after. You were busy. You kept busy. Life was finally going in the right direction and there was nothing that was going to derail you now.