For all of his life, Geri was an outcast; the odd one in the group. For being born and raised in Roulettia, the worst and the most violent city in all of the Ninth World, the kid was unusually shy. He was afraid of getting hurt, afraid of hurting others and because of that, kids loved picking on him, calling him names, throwing him into the trash or mud and stealing his possessions. Geri started avoiding everyone and always hid his face in his hands.
But that was only the start of the poor boy's struggles.
Once he reached his teenage years, a new problem arose - because of him constantly rolling in unsanitary places and holding his hands on his face, Geri's face became the perfect soil for the terrible teenage disease - acne. Day by day he watched his face slowly deform into a red and white... thing. Kids loved his changes and bullied the boy even more. Geri used to plead his parents to find him a doctor every day, he had heard of this amazing doctor in the capital named Mako, he'd say, but to no avail.
"You must learn to defend yourself, kid," his dad would say, not even looking at the child.
The only one that would sympathise with the boy was his uncle. The man would make Geri and himself piPods that he was selling and listen to the boy complain.
"I just wish that my parents would understand me! Charmonde isn't that far away from here, we could just visit Mr. Mako and that would be the end of it!" Geri sighed, trying to hide his face from the piPod he was holding. His face would always exude the pimple innards on his food, making it inedible.
"Then why don't you do it yourself?" Uncle asked, offering the boy a hairnet.
"It's just- I'm too afraid to go on my own! And besides, I don't have any money - Zeck and the others always take it away from me."
"Hmm," his uncle was deep in thought. "What about you work at my place and keep the money you earn here? Once you get the money you need, I will go with you," the man offered.
Geri's face lit up wity excitement.
"You will? Thank you, sir!!" he was trying his best not to start crying. He shouldn't cry if he wants the bullying to stop. At least that's what his dad would always say.
"But on one condition," Uncle spoke up again.
"You will try to find a way to treat this disease yourself. If you can't, once you earn enough money I'll pack my things and accompany you to Sharkmen, or whatever the capital is called. And if you do find a way," he winked, "well that's gonna be one problem less and you'll have some money! What do you say?"
"Sure, but how can I do that? There aren't any doctors in Roulettia, where would I learn the art of healing diseases?" Geri scratched his head, confused.
"There are these brothers that own a shop and one of them has a library. You can get books there. I'm pretty sure there are books about healing stuff."
"Oh alright! But where can I find the brothers?"
His uncle retrieved a small card out of his back pocket and handed it to Geri.
"This is a "library card", whatever that means. You can use it to contact them and get any book you want shipped to you. After paying a fee, of course."
"But where will I get the money, sir?"
"By working at my piPod stand, of course!" the man laughed.
Geri was now smiling from ear to ear.
"Alright, sir! That's a deal!"
And that's how the boy started working at "Piper's piPods!". The place had some sort of weird theme going on and Uncle Piper had hired actors to act like very happy customers (they always freaked Geri out), but it was overall a nice food stand. At first, Geri was terrified of talking to people, he'd always get conned, like that one time when a flustered man in a blue robe bought two piPods with terrible filling decisions for him and his friend (Geri could swear that they were a couple, but his uncle disagreed, saying it was only the young man, who had feelings for the tall friend) and then paid even less than the required amount for one piPod. The poor boy only replied with "oh- oh ok!" and then ran to his uncle.
Over time, Geri gained confidence and found a new passion - health care. He read every single book that the Penny Brothers had that was about diseases and humans, he found a library in Roulettia that had only two books on this topic and he managed to memorize them. He tried out everything he found in the books, later even found his own ways of self-care and his awful acne was reduced to a few zits and pimples here and there.
"So what now, kid?" Uncle Piper asked, smiling at Geri, who was cleaning the pod filling trays.
"What do you mean, sir?" Geri asked, like always surprising Piper with his new deep voice.
"You've healed your face and you've dealt with your confidence problems. What will you do now?" he asked, offering a piPod he'd just made to the boy.
Geri gladly accepted the meal, sitting down on the doorstep next to his uncle, just like he used to do years ago.
"Well, actually... I was thinking of becoming a doctor on my own," he smiled into his piPod.
"Oh? But we don't need doctors in Roulettia. EZ-life takes care of us just as good!"
"But it doesn't though? Can EZ-life heal acne? Can EZ-life heal blindness? Can EZ-life heal mental illnesses?" Geri waved his piPod around, almost spilling the filling on his uncle. "Oops, sorry."
"Well, that's true. Can you do that?" his uncle asked, already knowing the answer.
"Not all of them, but I am close to finding out the cures for all of these diseases! And that is why I will open up the first hospital here, in Roulettia."
"And your plans on going to the capital?"
"I will go to Charmonde to study. Maybe I'll even meet the legendary Mr. Mako, I heard he's now travelling around with his wife and a bunch of weird adventurers. But then," he stood up, "then I will come back and become who I was always meant to be!" he smiled at his uncle. "And I wouldn't have realized all of this without you."
Piper also stood up. "Come here, boy," he extended his arms and was immediately embraced by Geri. Piper was holding back tears. He was so proud of him.
Years later, Geri, with the help of his uncle, opened up the first actual hospital in Roulettia.
And all of that he achieved simply because he had someone believing in him. Someone, who did not judge him by his appearance, but by his heart and his true intentions.