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everybody says that nothing ever lasts forever, so I'm hanging on tight trying to keep it all tied together

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“This is dumb,” Piers says, sitting on the back of his hydreigon.

“Absolutely,” Leon agrees, comfortable against charizard’s back, as they sort of glide high above Hammerlocke, so far high the Keep and the Spire look small, and the fall would be nothing short of lethal if they slipped. It’s so far high the air is frigid enough the only reason Leon’s teeth aren’t clattering is that there’s still enough beer coursing through his veins that his face feels perpetually burning. “But it’s the fun kind of dumb.”

Piers doesn’t look convinced. That’s fine, Leon is used to people reacting that way – at the very least – when he shares this particular hobby of his. He’s decided this is a hobby, matter of fact, because the alternative is calling it a maladaptive coping mechanism and he likes it too much for it to be a thing he should stop doing. So there’s that.

“How do you give the order to pull back?” Piers asks, rubbing his palms on his thighs, starting a little warily at the three heads playfully throwing bites at each other, like they’re wont to do whenever they’re outside their pokeball for more than five minutes and there isn’t a clear objective Piers needs them to obliterate.

“You don’t,” Leon replies, and then giggles at the offended look Piers gives him. “You don’t! They know better than we do, what they can do. You just gotta trust them.”

“Or else you go splat,” Piers deadpans, eyes narrowed.

“Yup.”

There’s a moment, there, where Leon expects Piers to back out. Most people have. Actually, all people have, so far. Only Nat has ever taken to play tag with him like that, but whether he’ll want to now that he’s bound to Gloria is anyone’s guess. He misses playing tag with him, though, he realizes. It’s a bit boring not having anyone to fly with, even if flying itself has always been a private pleasure of his. Leon reckons it’s silly how easily he gets used to company, even if he’s gone so long without it.

“Ah hell,” Piers says, “why not?”

And then he pats hydreigon right where the necks split up, as if to give them the go ahead. Hydreigon roars, all three heads in unison for once, and then drops down so abruptly Leon can’t hear the full curse slip through Piers’ lips. Leon laughs and shifts his weight, and charizard picks up the order tacitly, well aware of what to do.

Then they’re dropping, and as soon as they hit terminal velocity, they stop dropping and it feels like floating. There’s the drunken euphoria bubbling away in Leon’s veins, making him giggle as he spreads his arms to feel the rush of air cutting through his hair, and then all too soon, he’s clutching his hat as charizard swerves, wings wide open, and suddenly they’re going back up, and not splat. He catches a glimpse of Piers, arms thrown around hydreigon’s middle neck, curled forward and eyes tightly shut, and he reckons that at least he tried. That’s more than most people do, when it comes to this. Even Raihan.

Charizard circles hydreigon, once they’re back at a decent height, and Piers is still clutching hydreigon for his dear life. Leon would worry about the cranky dragon getting prissy about it – he’s willing to give it belly rubs and call it pet names, partly just for the sake of making Piers prissy about it, but Leon is both a certified dragon trainer and a very proud Gym Trainer in Hammerlocke Gym, he’s perfectly aware of the sheer damage Piers’ Alolan hydreigon could unleash, if it got into the mood – but one of the heads is looking back at Piers, observing, and the other two are staring straight ahead, carefully careless and poised.

And then Piers shudders a breath, and sits back up, balanced in place – good, good, Leon managed not to make him permanently scared of flying on his partner’s back, at least – and his hair is a ludicrous mess that Leon itches to brush for him, even though he’s sure he’d lose a finger if he tried.

“We’re going to do that again,” Piers says, voice low and steady, blue eyes icy sharp as they pin Leon in place, and then he snarls at the look of surprise Leon can’t quite stifle back. “And then we’re going home, and you’re going to feed me, and I will refuse to explain why I’m going to cry.”

Raihan finds them thus, when he gets home: Leon sitting on the living room couch, watching reruns of the Johto League, and Piers sprawled as long he is, head pillowed in Leon’s lap and eyes the particular kind of red and itchy that only comes after letting yourself become a proper bawling mess – Leon would know, he’s a regular cry baby when he forgets he’s not ten anymore. Leon doesn’t ask, and of course Piers doesn’t explain, but it’s okay.

It’s okay.

He remembers, even as he twists his fingers into the weirdly textured ropes of striped, two-tone colored hair, once upon a time, Lydia of Spikemuth had a hydreigon of her very own.

Of course Piers remembers too.

Not all ghosts, Leon reckons, are the sort he's meant to see.