Guzma's eyes slowly creaked open as the light streaming through the skylight above drifted onto his face. He rubbed his eyes and blinked tiredly as he pushed himself upright. The young man flinched as his surroundings came into focus; wait, where the hell was he?! Hang on… He was on the loft in Kukui's house. The events of the previous night burned in his mind's eye as he winced and looked at his watch; it was a little past midday. At least he actually managed to sleep for once, despite crashing from the stress alone. Guzma stood, bracing himself on the corner of the desk beside the sofa bed. It felt odd to see what little belongings he had scattered all over it, he would need to organize them eventually.
Guzma collected his usual outfit, but just before he began to change he realized there were no walls, the loft was quite exposed. He stared awkwardly at the Murkrow perched on the railing before throwing his clothes over his shoulder, turning and heading down the ladder. Later he would ask Kukui to put it away at night, the thought of it watching him sleep made him uncomfortable. As he made his way to the bathroom he stumbled over the Stufful, Rockruff and Snubbul that ran in front of him. He entered the bathroom grumbling, Kukui letting his damn Pokémon just roam all over his house was already beginning to annoy him.
He shut the door behind him and splashed his face with water before squinting at himself in the mirror. Guzma ran his fingers through the black hair that was previously his undercut, its softness contrasting the rough bleached mess above it. It clearly needed a trim, along with a redye. He wiped the sleep from his tired eyes, the bags under them were especially pronounced that morning. He scratched the stubble along his jaw line, looking at the old scar on his upper right arm while he was at it. Damn… Iolana was right; he had really let himself go, hadn't he?
Guzma then changed his shirt and his pants; he balled his dirty clothes up and threw them up onto the loft while heading to the kitchen area. Kukui's house was quite spacious, Guzma was glad about that as the distinct lack of defined rooms made it easy to work out where everything was. He looked through the cupboard to find a box of cereal and made himself a quick breakfast; he would pay Kukui back for it later, even though he'd probably say no. The Professor distinctly said he didn't owe him anything aside from keeping the place clean and respecting his property. But Guzma insisted he pay his own way, he didn't want 'freeloader' to become part of his already tarnished reputation. Besides, there was no reason he couldn't; he had an income for once.
He leaned against the counter, eating a bowl of cereal as he took in his surroundings properly. From what he could see Kukui had a lot of nice things, that large plasma screen TV in the sitting area for example. But despite how clean and orderly everything was Guzma couldn't ignore that the entire place was a patch-job. Just the sight of the wooden boards that were nailed over the holes in the wall, roof and door irritated him to no end. Did Candlenut not know how to fix something properly? Or was he just lazy? Stupid bastard was probably making his Pokémon use Hyper Beam or something just as idiotic inside the house, smashing everything to pieces. Guzma mentally noted to take it upon himself at a later time to fix those breakages later; simply looking at them was pissing him off.
He stood up off the counter and slowly strolled around the ground floor of the home, but he couldn't peel his eyes away from the giant tank up the back. Holy shit, it was huge. It seemed to descend into the basement too. He couldn't help but feel envious just looking at it, the Professor got to have a massive, cool tank filled with Luvdisc and Corsola while back in Po Town all he got was a broken swimming pool. But, after thinking more about it, Guzma realized that since he lived there now so he could enjoy the tank whenever he wanted to. Sure, he could accept that.
The man then turned around, his eyes drifted to the stairs leading to the basement; apparently that's where Kukui's whole laboratory was. He tapped his foot and mulled over whether to take a peek, but then decided against it. If he spilt moomoo milk all over the Professor's stuff he would probably either kill him or kick him out. No way was he going to risk that, he actually had a stable roof over his head for once. At least, he was sure he did? Those nailed-on patches on the roof were not very reassuring.
Guzma then decided to head outside, he closed his eyes momentarily when he stepped out onto the veranda, feeling the warm midday sun on his face. He then sat down on the wooden stairs, taking the time to savour the cereal; he hadn't had milk in quite a while. Closing his eyes he inhaled the salty sea air, there wasn't much wind today and aside from the gentle lapping of the waves everything was quiet. Too quiet. Guzma felt his thoughts creeping up on him so he took his phone out of his pocket. He looked at his reflection through the cracked screen, in his eyes it reflected exactly how he was feeling in that moment.
The man then unlocked his phone; it wasn't likely that any sort of news or social media would be able to distract him from thoughts of last night, so he selected his contact list, looking for a specific young student to talk to. A pang of guilt then swiftly stabbed him through the stomach as he stared at the first name on his contact list: Plumeria. His hands shook slightly. He hadn't called her in such a long time, a few months at the least. She probably hated him by now, no scratch that, definitely hated him. He licked his lips as his breath began to hitch. He left her behind; he abandoned her without a single word, twice. What kind of heartless, selfish monster does that to someone they care about? The one staring at him through the glass, that's who.
Guzma's thumb hovered over her name. He didn't deserve to talk to her. He didn't deserve the privilege of being around her. He wanted to see her again so badly yet knew inside that the best thing he ever do for her is stay away; that way he could protect her from the one thing that never failed to hurt her.
Teardrops landed on the shattered glass as he clicked the lock button on his phone. Guzma put it back in his pocket and buried his face in his hands. He bit his lip hard; not again, not fucking again! Why the hell was he getting so emotional lately?! This kind of thing just didn't happen to him! He shook his head and tugged at his hair, embarrassed by his own selfishness and lack of strength. Even after slowly learning to let himself cry he didn't even deserve it after what he did to her. Guzma! What the hell is wrong with-
A sudden shout caused him to jolt and gasp. He quickly scanned the beach in panic for the source of the noise. His gaze soon locked onto a figure in the distance, silhouetted against the harsh sunlight. Guzma rubbed his now stinging eyes before focusing again, there was a figure, with two smaller Pokémon running around near them midway down the beach about 50m away he guessed. He blinked, they weren't an adult that was for sure, but he couldn't see them clearly at a distance.
One of the two Pokémon then stopped suddenly, facing him. Guzma tilted his head, trying to work out what it was doing. It then suddenly began bolting towards him, it was a Rockruff. Oh for the love of… He put his cereal down and braced himself before the excited puppy leaped straight onto his lap and began licking his face, rubbing the rocks in its neck fur into his skin. "Ow! Hey stop that!" he yelled, grabbing the dog and holding it away from him. The Rockruff just looked at him excitedly; its entire rear end was wagging side to side. Guzma furrowed his brows and stared back at it confused before its trainer came into focus in front of him.
"Hey, get off of him!" commanded Kavika, the Pokémon obliged and ran between the boy's legs. He frowned at it before saying, "sorry about that Sir! I didn't think anyone would be out here!" –he then looked up at his teacher, causing his eyes to widen with concern- "woah… Are you ok?"
Aww fuck… This was one of the last things he wanted one of his students to see. He inhaled sharply, rested his arms on his knees and admitted, "no... I ain't feelin' too good right now, Kavika…"
Kavika shifted awkwardly where he stood and looked around before quietly asking, "do you want me to leave you alone, sir…?"
Guzma thought to himself for a moment, wiping the offending tears from his eyes. "Nah… It's alright. Kinda wanted someone to talk to anyway if you're up for it... So what are you doin' out here this mornin'?"
"Um, it's the afternoon… And I'm taking my Pokémon for a walk; they love splashing in the waves with me and I was seeing if there were any Pyukumuku that wandered too far up the shore... What are you doing at the Professor's lab by the way? I thought you two didn't like each other all that much?" he asked as he slowly dug his toes further and further into the sand.
Guzma looked him up and down; the boy was wearing a rash vest and his favourite swim trunks, there was sand all over his legs. He glanced momentarily at the two dog Pokémon which were now play fighting on the beach. "We didn't, but times change; I live here now," he explained, "also keep an eye on those two! Never know where a Palossand could be hidin'!"
Kavika quietly gasped at that realization and whistled sharply, both Pokémon rushed over to him and sat by his feet as he commanded them to stay. "Thanks… So why do you live here now? Didn't you like your last house?"
Guzma's posture stiffened and he looked away. "Let's just say I wasn't doin' too well and leave it at that…"
The boy put his thumbs in his pockets, his teacher looked quite guarded. He decided not to press further. "Is there, um, anything I can do to cheer you up?"
The man shrugged. "Probably not, just keep talkin'…" He then noticed something odd sticking out of the boy's pocket; he tilted his head and asked, "what's that you've got there?"
Kavika appeared momentarily confused and felt his pockets, his eyes then lit up when he took the object out. To Guzma it looked like a green walkie-talkie coupled with a spinning top. "It's my capture styler! Well, it's only a trainee one, but it still works a little!" he grinned widely. Whoa, looks like his front tooth has been fixed.
"Capture styler? The hell is that? Some newfangled toy I ain't ever heard of?"
Kavika looked slightly annoyed at that assumption. "It's not a toy! It's a tool that Pokémon rangers use to befriend wild Pokémon so they can help on missions! This one can only befriend one at a time though, and not for very long. It is just a trainee one after all."
He raised an eyebrow. "Befriend? Why not just catch them?"
"Cuz that way they can go home after they help you… Rangers need a really huge range of Pokémon for any kind of mission; it would be cruel to just keep like fifty Pokémon in boxes when you're not using them!"
Guzma stood up on the stairs and stretched before leaning against the guard rail. "You got a point there… How's that thing work?"
Kavika grinned. "Follow me!"
He then curiously followed his student a small way up the beach, the dogs racing around his legs full of energy. Guzma squinted and shielded his eyes from the sun, he regretted not bringing his shades outside; but nevertheless the cool sea breeze relaxed him.
The boy stopped nearby a Pyukumuku that had wandered onto the beach, did a unique pose and called out, "capture on!" At that moment the antenna on the styler extended, the device released the small spinning top which connected to the antenna via a glowing blue stream of light. Kavika skilfully looped the light around the sea cucumber, the light stream then shone yellow around the Pokémon, causing it to glow momentarily. The loop then disappeared and the spinning top returned to the styler, Kavika grinned enthusiastically and exclaimed, "capture complete!" The Pyukumuku gave a peace sign in response.
Guzma's eyes were now wide, "holy shit… So, you can do whatever you want with it now, right?"
"Yep!" The two dog Pokémon ran around the sea cucumber in excitement.
"Damn… So… What do rangers actually do then..? I don't really know to be honest," he admitted.
"Oh! Well they work for Ranger Union HQ; that's in a really far away region that doesn't use any pokeballs and stuff. The way things are over there is super weird actually..." he looked at his feet for a moment wondering what to explain before getting back on track, "ok so basically they're the heroes of their regions! They help take care of natural disasters, calm down wild Pokémon that are causing trouble, rescue people and take down poachers and villain teams!"
Guzma crossed his arms and smirked. "Heh… I know a thing or two about that! You could come to me for some advice about that if ya wanted to!"
Kavika snapped straight to attention and stared up at his teacher, his eyes shining. "Oh my god… Were you a ranger Sir?!"
His teacher immediately looked confused and quickly shook his head, correcting, "no! I just said I didn't know what they even did… I was tryin' to imply that I was a bad guy kid…"
The boy's expression turned to one of worry. "What…?"
Guzma grinned widely. "Ex boss of the Pokémon thief gang Team Skull at your service kid! I ain't about that life no more though, so if you wanna know a little about how someone like me thinks then just ask!"
"Oh my god… Oh my god oh my god! That's amazing! You're a real ex bad guy?! Holy crap we have to play ranger together at some point! You can be the villain!" He looked more excited than Guzma had ever seen him.
The man stood up straight, surprised at such an oddly positive reaction. "Uh… Not right now, it's too early and I think I had stuff to do…? Things are a little hazy right now, can't remember too good."
Kavika shrugged. "There's always lunch at school, and well Donnie said you were supposed to be meeting him to train today."
Guzma quickly checked his watch and sighed in relief, that meet-up wasn't scheduled for at least another two hours. "Well… I got a little time but I ain't in the mood, so no. Also, a question; where the hell did you get that styler thing? That ain't somethin' you just give out…
The excited look on Kavika's face faded, he looked down at the styler in his hand and smiled sadly. "My mom gave this to me; she was a ranger, a really really good one too. And you're right, they don't just give these out, she took it from the school so I could practise myself…"
"'Was' a ranger?"
"She… Went missing a year ago on a really important mission…"
Guzma inhaled sharply and frowned. "Fuck… I'm sorry kid…"
The boy looked up at him confused. "Why are you sorry? She's still alive… I know she is! She's still out there somewhere in that faraway region and one day I'm gonna go there and find her!"
His teacher momentarily bit his lip before rubbing the back of his neck. He asked in a low voice, "so that's why you wanna be a ranger, huh?"
Kavika then looked up at him, conflicted, before dropping his hands to his sides and shrugging. He seemed disheartened. "I don't know…"
Guzma raised an eyebrow. "The heck does that mean?"
"I… Wouldn't make a very good ranger…"
His expression darked. "After what I just saw I'm almost offended by that… Why the hell not?"
"I just wouldn't…? That's what I'm told at least… My sister doesn't want me to be a ranger… I want to find mom but she gets really angry when I talk about it… I know I'm not as good at her at battling but I'm not that old, I can get better! I want to get better… But every time I try to get better with the styler she always gets in the way somehow… Right now, I wouldn't be very good..."
"And you're gonna keep lettin' her get in the way of that?"
"Well… I don't have many other times to practise or anything…"
Guzma folded his arms and leaned down. "Then do it at school, go for more walks. Or hell, stand up to her… If you wanna do this and find your mom then you better get your ass over to that ranger school, don't let her dictate what you can and can't do! But whatever you find when you get there is out of your hands, remember that, alright?"
Kavika swallowed, exhaled and nodded. "Ok…"
"You know what you gotta do… Unlike me I guess…"
He faced away from the sun. "I just feel a little lost, kid… Not exactly sure what to do next…"
"Well… You have to meet up with Donnie soon and he told me that next weekend you have a competition to go to with Minnie I think?" reminded Kavika.
"Oh yeah… I also gotta make a call about somethin'… I should go do that…"
Kavika smiled. "Ok, you go then! I gotta-" a number of chimes from his pocket swiftly cut the boy off. He checked his phone and groaned loadly. "Oh my god, I get it!"
Guzma looked at him, confused. "Get what?"
"Ugh… My sister wants me to come home right now and Keahi just sent me like, twenty messages about me coming to her house. Every night I get like, fifty messages from her! She's my friend but oh my god it's too much sometimes…" he then sighed in frustration, "I just keep having girls blow up my phone! Do you have the same problem Sir?"
The man then smirked and said, "heh… I wish I did."