It was a bit of a drive, and then more than a bit of a hike, but they were on holiday, and Greg had finally taught Georgie how to hold on while on a motorbike. Of course he had Georgie back in his ball on the motorway, but on the track leading to the head of the trail, Georgie was crouched on the back of the bike, grinning with his tongue lolling out. Greg kept it under 40 kph.
“What do you think?” Greg asked, parking the bike. Georgie jumped off and ran about, barking and rolling over excitedly, coughing out a few flames. “Hey, now! Save some of that!”
They hadn’t been out training in ages. There was work, for both them. Maybe Greg was a little too proud of his Growlithe, but Georgie was the best behaved Pokemon in the entire division (and possibly the Met). There were comments about how he hadn’t evolved yet, but he was young, even if Greg wasn’t. It certainly wasn’t that Greg spoiled him: Georgie could follow orders better than half the PCs, and just as good as the other half.
“You’re a good boy, aren’t you?” he asked Georgie now, and added, “Heel!”
Georgie was instantly standing at attention, ears cocked and eyes bright. Greg shook his head and tucked his hands into his pockets, unable to keep from smiling. “You’re the best.”
They headed into the forest together, keeping an eye out—there were supposed to be a few Nidorans around, which would serve as good opponents. But only for the normal moves Georgie knew; Greg didn’t want to practice his fire moves until they were away from the more flammable areas. There was a cave not two miles down the trail that would do the trick.
Georgie let out a joyous bark and dashed after a streak of brown—a Pidgey, and Greg winced. “Come on back!” he called, and Georgie stopped immediately, though his ears drooped and he looked back at Greg sadly. “Don’t give me that. Those things swarm.”
“Speaking of,” a voice said, and Greg whirled around. There was a man carefully climbing out from a clump of pine trees, fending the branches off skillfully with an umbrella. “You might want to turn back. There’s a swarm of Beedrill up ahead who will be waking up in a few minutes. I don’t know that they’ll send scouts this far south, but better safe than sorry, yes?”
“You attacked a swarm of Beedrill?” Greg asked incredulously. Georgie nudged his leg and Greg quickly made the sign for calm; Georgie settled and sat by his side, understanding that they weren’t about to battle this man.
“They attacked first,” the man said mildly. He was wearing a suit, albeit an outdoorsy one, Greg noticed with increasing bemusement, and had no trainer belt.
“Well,” he said awkwardly, and looked down at Georgie. Bright and eager and ready to go, but definitely not ready to take on a swarm of angry Beedrill. “Thanks for the warning. We’ll—”
Before he could continue, a chill swept over him. Over all of them; Georgie growled and looked upward intently, and Greg saw his breath plume in the suddenly frosty air just before a bit of snow fluttered into view.
“Allumia,” the man said with fond exasperation, and a beautiful blue bird alighted in the tree he’d just pushed past. It tilted its head and stared at Georgie, who was sitting still and upright, his tail wagging violently with excitement.
“That’s an Articuno,” Greg said, completely stunned.
They walked back together, after Mycroft had introduced himself three times and Greg had stared, slack-jawed, at the Articuno for two solid minutes. Georgie stayed at Greg’s side, though his eyes tracked Allumia in her elegant sweeps as she flew ahead.
“I was on business in Switzerland,” Mycroft was saying. He swung his umbrella as he walked, watching its arc rather than his Pokemon, whose wings were still causing bright snowflakes to flash into existence before melting under the bright sun. “She isn’t mine, you’ve realised.”
He said it easily, like he believed that Greg had. Greg, in fact, had not realised that, and his mouth was hanging open yet again. “But—she’s not? She’s just following you around for fun?”
Mycroft shrugged. It was a ridiculously elegant move in him. “For whatever reason, she stays with me. I think our relationship would be damaged irreparably if I attempted to catch her.”
That made sense, and Greg looked dubiously at the legendary bird gliding in front of them. “Yeah, okay.”
They walked in silence for a bit, and then Mycroft said, “Your Growlithe is a beautiful specimen. Male, I assume?”
“Yeah, Georgie,” Greg said, and laughed as Georgie looked up at him. “Yes, you. He’s a Pokemon officer. We aren’t carrying our warrant cards today, though.” He grinned cheerfully at Mycroft.
“You are both a credit to the Met,” Mycroft said, and they were at the trail head, with Greg’s bike in view. There was a car there now, too, a shiny black one, complete with driver.
“You must be a credit to something more exciting,” Greg said, feeling a bit stunned again. He should have been ready for it; business in Switzerland? But he wasn’t, and he felt suddenly awkward in his jeans, heading for his dusty bike. He coughed and shook himself, and held out his hand to Mycroft. “Thanks for the warning, again.”
“It wouldn’t have been kind of me to let you walk into a problem I created,” Mycroft said, and shook his hand firmly. It was a warmer grip than Greg had anticipated, and he was aware, to his dimly-sensed horror, that it was a grip he didn’t quite want to let go of.
Then Georgie barked, sharp and impatient, and Greg turned to find him already perched on the back of the bike, wagging his tail and grinning his fuzzy grin.
“All right!” Greg called to him, and turned back to smile at Mycroft. “Bye.”
“Until next time,” Mycroft said smoothly, turning to his own vehicle. Greg dug his helmet out of the bike’s box and jumped as Georgie barked sharply. Then he felt the chill, and looked up to find Allumia swooping in, and settling delicately on his seat—except for where her talons dug into the leather.
“Hey!” Greg cried out, but the bird had cocked her head and was scrutinising Georgie, completely ignoring him.
“Allumia,” Mycroft called out urgently. “Greg, don’t let him battle her.”
“Why would I do a daft thing like that?” Greg demanded, and reached out to pick Georgie up. Allumia let out a loud, trilling call, surprising Greg into taking a step back, and then very delicately teased a tuft of Georgie’s fur back from his eyes.
Greg looked at Mycroft, who looked back at him. He probably looked equally blank and confused, Greg thought, and they both turned to look at their Pokemon again.
Georgie barked impatiently at Allumia, who only trilled at him once more. Greg put his hand on Georgie’s back, meaning to calm him, and found himself square in the sights of a suddenly aggressive Articuno.
“Allumia!” Mycroft shouted. The chill bit at Greg’s skin and he started to back away, blinking furiously at the sudden stinging cold, when Georgie gave a sharp bark and snapped his teeth shut mere inches from Allumia’s beak.
It would be a bit melodramatic to say that Greg’s life flashed before his eyes. Georgie’s did, though, and he made an instinctive and stupid reaction: he called Georgie back into his Pokeball before he could possibly lose his partner to a pissed-off legendary. Mycroft’s hand closed over his wrist a moment later.
Rather than get angry—or, rather, angrier, Allumia reared back, looking startled and then distressed, and trilled anxiously, her talons making a horrific mess of the bike’s seat. Mycroft let go of Greg and reached out to her, crooning, “Allumia, darling, it’s all right. Georgie’s fine. Greg, send him out, won’t you? She’s worried.”
“She’s worried?” Greg echoed. His hand curled around the small Pokeball protectively.
“Bring Georgie back,” Mycroft commanded, and it spoke to Greg’s muddled state that he obeyed without questioning, enlarging the Pokeball and opening it.
Georgie reappeared, barking happily, though he stopped and stared comically as Allumia gave a loud cry of greeting and hopped down from the bike, knocking Mycroft back with a sweep of her wings. She settled in front of Georgie, who was sitting very still. As Greg and Mycroft watched silently, she teased the lock of fur at his forehead again, and Georgie’s eyes crossed as he tried to watch.
“Good Lord, she’s in love,” Mycroft said, sounding completely horrified.
Greg bit his lip, and then said, “Georgie.”
Georgie turned immediately, wagging his tail excitedly. Allumia was regarding Greg once again with suspicion, and then with fear when Greg held up Georgie’s Pokeball.
Mycroft coughed. ”Greg, please—”
“Return,” Greg said, and Georgie was back in his Pokeball again, and Allumia was dancing in distress, the air growing chilly again. “Oi! Allumia. You.”
“Oh dear God,” Mycroft said, hiding his face behind his hand.
Greg ignored him, and held up the Pokeball. “He’s safe, all right? Watch.” And he brought Georgie out again, earning himself a confused look from his poor Growlithe, and a trill of joy from the bird. “Now watch again. Georgie, return!”
He did it twice more, before Allumia seemed to understand that Georgie was safe in his Pokeball and stopped crying, although she definitely didn’t like it when Georgie wasn’t visible.
“Are you training my Articuno?” Mycroft asked, crossing his arms.
“Yours?” Greg returned, as Georgie curled up by his feet and Allumia danced ever closer, fascinated by the way Georgie’s tail wagged more excitedly the closer she got. “I thought she just followed you around.”
“I’m not so sure she won’t be following you around now,” Mycroft sighed. “Allumia. If I leave, will you behave yourself and find your own way home?”
“No! You can’t leave her with us!” Greg protested, and frowned when Mycroft smiled at him. “And you can’t leave without giving me your number.”
Mycroft’s eyebrow rose delicately. “I beg your pardon?”
“Do you think I’m letting you get away with that?” Greg demanded, pointing at his bike. “She’s your responsibility, and she damaged my bike, and that isn’t an inexpensive fix, Mr. Just Wandering About Switzerland.”
“What a shame,” Mycroft said, and pulled his phone out of his pocket. “I can give it to you now, if you wish.”
“I don’t have a pen.”
Another eyebrow raise. “You have your phone in your pocket.”
Greg bit his lip again. “It’s not charged?”
“You don’t know how to add contacts?” Mycroft asked, though it wasn’t really a question. Greg rolled his eyes hard and handed the phone over with bad grace when Mycroft held out his hand, smiling again.
Allumia didn’t follow Greg and Georgie home, thankfully. Although Greg had had to keep Georgie in his Pokeball to prevent said occurrence, which left Georgie grouchy for the rest of the afternoon. They settled together on the sofa at last, Greg stretched out and Georgie sprawled over his torso, watching some ridiculous drama on the telly and dozing.
All in all, not a terrible day. Greg resolved to ride out to the trail again tomorrow, and let Georgie have his day. The housework could wait another week or so.
That was what he thought, until he woke up from a dream about getting lost in Tesco’s ice cream selection and found Allumia curled up on his feet.
Georgie made a questioning sort of whuffle as Greg dug his phone out of his pocket, and shook his sleepy head. ”Hush,” Greg told him, but Georgie looked over at Allumia and barked excitedly, and then she was awake, too. They tumbled together to the floor, Georgie letting out a yelp when she landed on his tail.
Greg tried to rub some warmth back into his feet as he scrolled through his contacts, finding “Mycroft Holmes” and punching the button just a bit viciously. It rang twice, and went to an automated voice mail; no personal touch there.
“I’ve got your bird,” he said, not bothering to give name or number. Allumia looked at him, and Georgie stiffened suddenly and gave a sharp bark—visitor. The knock on the door was polite but crisp, and just a shade impatient, and how one could manage to say all that in a knock, well. Greg disconnected and raised his voice. “It isn’t locked.”
“That’s hardly an invitation,” Mycroft called back, and Allumia trilled and started preening Georgie’s ruff. Georgie lay down so she could do so, though his eyes remained trained on Greg.
Greg sighed, feeling rather put-upon, and stomped over to the door. Georgie barked at him, wagging his tail; enjoying the theatrics, no doubt. Mycroft was waiting patiently when Greg swung it open and stood aside, holding out his arm. “Please, do come in.”
A smile flickered at the edges of Mycroft’s mouth, and he gave a polite nod before he stepped inside. “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it.” Greg shouldered past him with a friendly sort of roughness, and was pleased when Mycroft didn’t give an inch. “Your bird.”
“Allumia,” Mycroft said, with fond disapproval. “This is breaking and entering.”
Allumia shot him a superior look and went back to nibbling at Georgie’s ear. Georgie yawned and then settled his head on his paws, blinking slowly up at the two humans.
Greg sighed and scratched at his eyebrow. “Well. Before my mum’s Kadabra can alert her to my failings as a son and homeowner, can I offer you anything? Tea?”
“No, that’s quite all right,” Mycroft said, and Greg elbowed him. The expression he got in return was priceless. “What was that for?”
“Have some damn tea,” Greg ordered, “and sit down. They’re going to play for a bit and we’re going to have to decide what to do about it.”