Summary: all his life, Nate always thought that there was something missing. (aka: in an alternate universe, Nate never obtained the yo-kai watch. Katie, however, did.) Set in anime-verse, English-dubbed. -- Sometimes, Nate wondered if he was actually made for bigger things. This thought always came unbidden and never failed to catch him off guard. At the dentist. In the middle of a dodge-ball match. When he was queuing for the bathroom, because somehow every single boy in his class simultaneously had the urge to pee. Every time he crossed the street at one particular cross-road, where he was almost got hit by a truck a year ago. The close brush to death got him thinking, “Is this it?” “I thought I saw a cat,” the truck driver said at the time, when he got off his vehicle to help Nate. He apologized and offered to bring Nate home, but the boy refused. There was enough trouble at home, Nate did not want to add to it. “A cat?” he repeated flatly. “A red cat,” the driver confirmed. “I didn’t see it at all,” Nate said, and that was the end of the conversation. Except now every time he passed that cross-road the thought would take root into his mind, telling him, you are actually more than this, and Nate would look around, in hope he would catch a red cat. He felt like if he could actually see one that would be the start of an adventure—because no cat could be red, couldn’t they? Maybe it was a rare exotic breed, and Nate would get famous for discovering a new species. Maybe it was actually a ghost, like a- like a nekomata, and it would have two tails, and there were more than just a cat-like creature out there, waiting for Nate to find them. Maybe Nate could have it as a pet. It got lonely, being the only child, and having your parents fight all the time. “You’re brooding again,” Eddie nudged him. Across the boy, Bear looked uncharacteristically concerned. Nate blinked rapidly, shaken out of his reverie. “I’m sorry,” he said. He looked down to his notebook, trying to focus again. “What’s wrong?” Katie asked. She was a part of their study group because she was the best student, and the trio needed her if they wanted to pass and graduate. “Nothing,” he said, eyes stubbornly not straying from the loopy writing in his notebook. “…Okay,” Katie said. “But you know that we are here for you, right?” “I-“ Nate looked up. He found his friends staring at him, and he turned his head away. “I- my parents,” he said. “Yes?” Katie prodded gently. “My parents… they fight a lot,” Nate lied, but at the same time, it was not a lie, either. He did not know what possessed him to answer Katie with something that he had not even told Eddie and Bear about—it was like something pulled his mouth open and forced words out of him. “I- I’m afraid they’d get a divorce.” “Oh, Nate,” Katie said and held his hand, which had balled into a fist on the table. -- Pokemon Go was trending. Everybody played it, even Mr. Johnson, who claimed if a game could get people out of the house then it was a good game that should be played, no matter what age. Nate too made Pokemon Go as an excuse to get out of his house when he could. The yelling match between his parents had been unbearable recently. At the start, Eddie and Bear always accompanied him. After three months Nate was the only guy in the class who kept going. His classmates made fun of him for it. “It’s so last summer,” they said. Nate thought about how closed doors could not muffle raised voices, and he said, “You’re just jealous you don’t have Gyarados!” then he added, after a pause, “This is my true calling!” And it did feel like one. There was something familiar about going around the neighborhood to catch little monsters. If they were real Nate could imagine them creating small havoc, like Pikachu causing random electrical appliances to go boom, or Jigglypuff casually made the whole school fall asleep on talent show night. Nate thought about befriending them one by one and maybe saved the day. He would be a hero, just in small doses. So Nate continued his Pokemon-catching. It consumed most of the free time that he did not spend with his best friends. He came home late every day. His parents were too preoccupied with each other that they probably did not notice. Until one day. “Nate!” somebody shouted from afar. The boy looked up from his phone. It was Katie, who was waving and running towards him. “What’s up, Katie?” Nate greeted when she arrived. “You are what is up,” Katie said. “You haven’t been picking up your calls, have you? Your parents are looking for you.” “Are they?” Nate replied almost disinterestedly. It was difficult to believe Katie’s words. “Yes they are! You didn’t answer your phone, so they called Eddie and Bear and me to check whether you were with us. Your mom sounded very worried. I had the mind to cover up for you because I know you’d be here. Let’s go home, Nate. It’s so dark already.” Nate looked up to the sky. The sun was indeed nowhere to be found. It was not actually that late, but it was mid-autumn and Nate was too used to his summer schedule. “Sorry, Katie, I lost track of time,” he apologized. “Thanks for your trouble. But- your parents allowed you to go out alone?” “I sneaked out,” Katie shrugged easily, like it was something that she did every day. Nate barely hid his surprise at her response—Katie was not the type who sneaked out, was she? “It’s really fine, Nate,” she said when she saw Nate’s face. “You, however, probably have to tell your mother that you’re okay.” “I- alright.” Nate exited out Pokemon Go app. He could see Katie peeking at his screen from the corner of his eyes as he cleared his notification panel. Ten missed calls, geez. “So you’re still playing Pokemon Go, huh.” Nate readied himself for a ridicule, but it did not come. He was not sure how to answer Katie’s statement—he could hardly say that playing Pokemon Go make him feel like he was somehow fulfilling some greater purposes he was actually meant to do but never happened. That there was more to his life than just- this. That it felt too right, like he was doing a role that he should have played. He did not say all of those. Instead, he just nodded. “Yea, sure. Have you ever played? I can’t remember if you actually ever played it.” They walked side by side out of the park. When no answer was forthcoming Nate paused typing out the text message to his mom (I’m with Katie mom don’t worry) and stole a glance. Katie was fiddling with her watch pendant, cringing. “Uh… It’s just… It hits too close to home, I guess?” she said. The movement of her fingers was hypnotizing. For some reason Nate could not tear his eyes away from Katie’s necklace. It was not the first time he had seen it—Katie wore it every day—but it was the first time that he got to see it up close. He looked away after he realized the general area that he was staring. Mom do you just realize that I always come home this late, he typed out and deleted a second later. Mom I’ve always come home late since last summer what’s the problem, was more polite, but Nate deleted that too. He thought of it’s not like you care, but he did not think he was physically capable of typing it out, it hurt so much. “Nate, are you okay?” Katie asked. “I’m fine,” Nate quickly replied. “Everything’s fine,” he added a beat later to make it sound more convincing, but it did the exact opposite thing instead. Katie touched his shoulder. “Nate, I’m here for you. Do you want to talk about it?” A moment passed. Nate looked at Katie’s eyes, and then something compelled him to tell her everything. It was difficult to stop once he started. “—and at first it wasn’t bad. Just the small things, really. Missing mars bars in the fridge. Coffee’s too bitter. Dad’s pancakes more delicious than mom’s. But then it escalated. Every time they fight they would bring the little things from yesterday and these small mistakes piled up, you know. And some of them aren’t even mistakes. But at other times they could be really sweet to each other. I don’t know, it’s like they are possessed, and—“ Katie clutched at her pendant like a life line. “Possessed?” she echoed. Nate sighed. “Like there’s an on and off switch or something, I don’t know, Katie… I don’t know what they’re thinking at all.” Katie looked determined. “Don’t you worry, Nate. Everything will work out okay in the end.” -- Katie’s words came true. The day after, Katie wanted to have the study group in Nate’s house instead of the library. Nate was reluctant, but he acquiesced in the end. Nothing special happened, really. However, after the study session ended and everybody had gone home, Nate caught his parents apologizing to each other on his way out for Pokemon Go. Then suddenly everything was back to normal. Nate was suspicious for a week, thinking that it was calm before the storm, but his parents remained (and was increasingly) lovey-dovey. It was like the last year did not happen. It was easy to be grateful for what he had, after so long having his life fallen apart. Nate ignored the voice at the back of his head telling him that something was missing. There was nothing missing. He had his parents back. He could not ask for more. Some nights, though, Nate would dream about a watch. It was always the same watch—round on top, and colorful, and Nate remembered using it not to look for time but to light things up, and— —and he would wake up, and forget. ---- Note: Please let me know what you think about the story! Criticism and feedback are welcomed!