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“Ready and… go!”

Laughing, Onoda pedaled as quickly as he could while watching Imaizumi and Naruko saw their legs off biking. They were actually glaring at each other, but Onoda grinned at his vulpix perched on his back. She was curled around the egg that he was trying to hatch. She let out a happy little mewl when Onoda looked at her.

“Hang on tight,” he said to her, before laughing again and chasing after Imaizumi and Naruko.

When he caught up to them, Naruko was throwing taunts out to Imaizumi through his labored breathing. “Do you…” he said, “think you could… beat me… in the… flats…? This is… my territory… hotshot…”

“Stop talking,” said Imaizumi. It took another full minute for him to continue with, “You’re wasting your breath.”

Naruko chuckled. His growlithe was hanging dangerously off Naruko’s bike–unlike Imaizumi or Onoda, Naruko insisted on riding with as little weight as possible, and said frequently that they could definitely hold on. His growlithe seemed to think so too, tongue dangling out of his mouth, barking at Imaizumi’s houndoom every so often, who looked bored and awkward with its paws around Imaizumi’s waist. Imaizumi’s egg was pressed between them, and houndoom ignored growlithe’s barks.

Naruko said, “I… didn’t… know… you cared about me, hotshot!” He slowed with the last sentence, but started dancing on his bike to make up for the time.

Imaizumi started dancing as well. His houndoom tapped himself back into his pokeball, rolling against Imaizumi’s egg. “I don’t want to race against someone who’s doing everything half-assed,” he replied.

The three of them reached the end of the road, and then Naruko shouted, “Turn!” They did, swerving and nearly hitting the citizens of Verdanturf, but neither of them really paid much attention.

It had been Imaizumi’s idea, for the bike and egg thing. He’d told them about the flame body ability when Naruko and Onoda were complaining about their eggs not yet hatching, and Naruko said, “O-Oh, I knew about that!” while Onoda looked at him with sparkling eyes and said, “You really do know everything, Imaizumi-kun!” It’d been Onoda’s idea, then, for them to bike together–and then Naruko’s, afterward, to turn it into a race. They’d all gotten mach bikes when they’d started their pokemon adventure, naturally, and sometimes Naruko challenged Onoda to the top of Mt. Chimney, even though he knew he’d lose almost every time.

They passed by the Day-Care Man. He looked warily at Naruko and Imaizumi, both of whom were kind of yelling at this point. He shouted to Onoda, “How are they coming along?”

“Not yet!” Onoda shouted back.

His vulpix mewed as well.

“Hey, Onoda-kun!” Naruko shouted from up ahead of them. “You’re falling behind!”

“Yeah,” Imaizumi joined him. “Do you plan on losing?” But he was smiling at Onoda too, in a way that made Onoda lift himself up from his seat and beam back at them.

“Of course not!” he said, and, once again, laughed as he raced to catch up.