Gary didn’t roll out of bed at the sound of his alarm, one morning.
He didn’t grumble and putter around attempting to freshen up for the day, didn’t bother attempting to cook something on his little one-burner unit, and made no move to wander out the door in pursuit of the labs.
One hand merely snaked out of his blankets, tapped his screen to silence it, and slithered back in with a soft and almost inaudible sigh.
An hour passed. The phone rang, and Gary pulled it into his blanket nest and murmured into it for a moment before setting it back on his desk.
Another hour. There was an audible rumble from somewhere in the fabric, and yet Gary made no move to get up.
All the while, a pair of red eyes stared from the corner of the room in silent judgement.
When the third hour passed, Umbreon stood and approached the bed where her master was refusing to go about his business. “Bee!” She insisted. Gary didn’t answer. With a huff, she hopped onto the bed and made a point to step where she knew his belly was. While he grunted, he said nothing. “Bee-bee!”
“Not now, Bree…” He finally mumbled. The blankets shifted as he turned onto his side, curled up close to the wall.
His Pokemon’s eyelids lowered, her expression deadpan and unamused. Well then...so be it. She nimbly settled back upon the carpet before trotting to the far side of his room. His belt held six gleaming Pokeballs, and she simply grabbed the whole strip of leather in her teeth. Once she had placed it on the floor, Umbreon used her paw to enlarge one particular ball.
Upon release, the Pokemon that took shape before her gave off a modest amount of heat. Arcanine stared down at her and her unimpressed expression. She jerked her head toward the bed - Arcanine’s eyes blinked, following her gaze. Without a word, he stood and padded over. With the utmost care, he took the edge of the top most comforter in his teeth and pulled it right off.
There was a system, on these sorts of days.
Gary - naturally - was none-too-pleased to have his nest disturbed. He frowned, pouting with his eyes closed, and cuddled further into the pillow clutched tightly to his chest. Arcanine was having none of it. Grasping the back of his master’s shirt in his mouth, the canine beast pulled Gary completely off his mattress and carried him to the then-open door. Umbreon stood beside it, her eyes glowing white with her Psychic energy as she held the door open. Her companion passed through, their squawking and whining master in tow, and Umbreon followed with his belt looped around her neck.
There was no one in the dormitory halls to witness the two Pokemon and their reluctant master traversing downstairs. Arcanine took the utmost care on the stairs, holding his head high in an effort to not drag his master over the floor; Umbreon led the way, ignoring Gary’s demands that they let him go back to bed. The woman at the front desk only glanced up, shaking her head as the two Pokemon approached the front doors.
“I don’t know why you haven’t come to expect this out of them.” She chastised, absently buzzing open the doors for the odd group, “Try not to let him drip all over the floor this time, please.”
Her words made Gary struggle afresh. “You’d better not--!” He warned his Pokemon. Umbreon rolled her eyes, and Arcanine purposefully snorted all over the back of the boy’s neck. “UGH--! Bad dog!”
They didn’t cease walking until they were standing on the fresh, green grass of the campus. Arcanine held their flailing master without a care as Umbreon took her time selecting the right ball. When she found it, she placed a paw over it and stared at Gary until he gave her his full attention.
“Bree.” He said, slowly, attempting to sound stern but unable to hide his wariness.
Umbreon’s brow twitched. If she’d had eyebrows, she’d have one raised high. ‘You chose this.’ , her judgemental expression said, ‘You were being a baby, and now we have to treat you like one.’
The third Pokemon of Gary’s team to arrive was Blastoise. The huge turtle Pokemon rolled his head along his neck, eliciting cracking sounds that produced a content rumble. Scratching at his undershell, the Water-Type looked over the scene before it. With all the exasperation of a cranky grandfather, Blastoise finally settled its eyes on Umbreon. “Toise?” It growled. ‘Again?’
“Bee.” She nodded.
“No!” Gary held his hands out, fingers splayed and his eyes wide as dinner plates. Blastoise faced him fully, his cannons moving slowly to point directly at his master. “Don’t you dare !”
Blastoise rubbed a claw under his snout pointedly before blasting Gary with both barrels. Arcanine had barely a second to put him down, shaking out his fur with a pleased bark. Another white light appeared as the two Pokemon contained Gary for the duration of the impromptu bath.
“Not another lawn bath.”
Umbreon was cleaning her paw; to an outsider, it would’ve looked like she was pointedly ignoring the Alakazam she had released from its ball. After a moment, however, the new Pokemon shook its head. “I suppose I ought to get started, then...dry him off at least, Arcy - if he catches another cold, we’ll only have ourselves to blame.”
There wasn’t more than a second after before Alakazam used Teleport. By then, Gary was thoroughly drenched and shivering. He clutched his arms, teeth chattering. Umbreon frowned, remembering Alakazam’s warning, and snapped an order to Arcanine. The Pokemon shook himself off, panting, and pounced upon their master. Gary’s words were muffled under the bulk of the long-haired Pokemon. Slowly, the heat the Fire-Type gave off began to dry them both.
“Blassss…” The turtle Pokemon uttered with a shake of his head.
Umbreon sighed in response, her ears drooping. “Be-beon.” The bigger creature leaned down awkwardly to give her a sympathetic pat before she returned him to his ball. Looping the belt around her neck, she hollered to Arcanine again. Grunting, he shifted off of their master; Gary didn’t look cold or damp any longer, but he still looked...well…
Both Pokemon exchanged similar looks of concern.
The front desk woman had nothing to say once she buzzed them back through. Gary seemed too tired from the ordeal to complain - he remained silent as his Pokemon dragged him back through the building and back to his quarters. Using her Psychic control once more, Umbreon let them back into his dorm room. They were promptly met with a delicious, hearty smell.
“I’ve laid some clothes out for him - he’s been in those pajamas since Saturday, hasn’t he? Gracious, not even a lawn bath is going to make THOSE smell better...go on, get him changed.” From the small kitchen unit, Alakazam was busy tending to a simmering pot. One of its two spoons dipped into the contents, bringing it to the Pokemon’s mouth. It shook its head, grumbling to itself, and a variety of vegetables and spices shot off the counter and began to rotate around its head. “This? No...this? Absolutely NOT. Then--? No, no…”
The clothes it had indicated were draped neatly over the back of Gary’s desk chair. It was just another pair of sleeping clothes - a t-shirt printed with ‘SAEDA ISLAND RESEARCH TEAM’ on the back and a fossil logo over the breast, along with a plain black pair of cotton pants. Umbreon made a point of tugging on the hem of Gary’s current shirt with her Psychic move, and Gary huffed before grabbing the new clothes. Inwardly, the Eeveelution sighed in relief - the days when Gary didn’t even have the energy to fight back or dress himself were the worst. He wasn’t beyond their help, this time.
When Gary retreated into the bathroom to change, Umbreon released Electivire. The beast took one look around before he gave her a thumbs up - he gathered up all of Gary’s blankets and stomped out the door with them. It would take a bit of time for him to return, and so Umbreon released the last of Gary’s Pokemon. Skarmory stretched his wings, cocking its head until Umbreon directed him into the bathroom. Skarmory had a unique sort of job; one wouldn’t have guessed that the bird Pokemon was the type to be useful in the beauty department, and yet there was no one else Umbreon would’ve trusted with her own grooming. The gentle snips of his feathers moving together slipped from under the bathroom door, clipping over their master’s hair delicately.
A wet nose nudged Umbreon in the shoulder - Arcanine stared down at her expectantly, and Alakazam wasn’t even attempting to hide its curious expression. The Dark-Type glanced back and forth between them and shook her head.
Arcanine whined sadly. The pot clanked against the stove as it was moved. “These are getting more and more frequent.” Alakazam said, gently. Its unseen movements poured a thick and creamy soup into a bowl with great care. “He might not want to entertain the idea, but we really should impress upon him the need to see a therapist.”
“Ummmm…” Umbreon admitted with a nod. She didn’t like it any more than Gary did, but Alakazam had a point. All six of them had been over this countless times. They were worried about their master.
Electivire returned just as the bathroom door opened up, and he side-stepped the exiting boy and bird with ease. The bowl of soup had been placed upon Gary’s desk, and Skarmory poked and prodded him into sitting down. His hair had been meticulously combed and trimmed, his face washed. Umbreon noted with a hint of satisfaction that even their master’s nails were shorter and buffed. He settled at his desk with a sigh and tucked into his bowl without a word of protest.
Alakazam released Blastoise without a word. With three large Pokemon present, the dorm was looking crowded. Still, no one trod upon one another - the others stayed clear of Alakazam as it worked over the dirty cookware, Electivire was given clear access to the bed to redress it with warm sheets. Umbreon took up residence beside Gary’s chair; Skarmory perched upon the top of the bathroom door. Only when the bedding had been readded did Electivire take the puffiest comforter and spread it in the middle of the floor. Arcanine took up a spot there first, followed by Blastoise trying not to flop heavily beside him.
A soft clinking of a spoon being stirred absently through soup dregs told Umbreon that their master had forced himself long enough. Though Alakazam snorted at the amount left over, it whisked the remainder away to be put in the fridge. The chair turned - Gary blinked tiredly at the sight of his Pokemon gathered in the center of his room upon the floor. Umbreon went last, mewling at his ankles and nudging his calf with her foot. There was little choice, it appeared, than to join them.
That day, he chose to settle himself against the rigid belly of his starter as he sat. Umbreon, however, took up her usual place on his lap. The others followed suit, huddling closer into a warm ball around the boy. He didn’t speak, not at first, and none of them pushed for him to.
At last, Alakazam took the reigns. “Do you want to talk about it?” It asked, quietly.
Gary’s fingers idly worked into the fur at Umbreon’s neck. The back of his head thumped against Blastoise’s shell. “...I don’t know if it’s really anything, to be honest.” He said, equally as soft. “Sometimes I just...I dunno. Don’t wanna do anything. I don’t even remember what started it...when did I put those PJs on…?”
“Saturday.” It was said with a disgusted snort, and Alakazam wasn’t the only one who did it.
Gary cringed. “So...three days. That’s…”
He trailed off. His Pokemon didn’t fill in the silence, but they were listening. His eyes restlessly darted about as he mused to himself. “...I’m sorry for making you guys worry.”
All six Pokemon grumbled and growled at him. ‘Nonsense!’ it all said, ‘We always worry!’ ‘None of that, now!’ . The researcher’s mouth turned up just slightly at the corners; his arms encircled Umbreon’s neck, his cheek resting tiredly upon her skull.
“Thanks for caring about me, everybody.”
It wasn’t a promise to talk to someone - Alakazam was going to give Umbreon dirty looks for weeks - but he was feeling more like himself. That was what truly mattered. The six Pokemon edged just a little closer.
There was a system for days like these...but, hopefully one day soon, maybe they wouldn’t need that system anymore.