"Aww yeah there's that Big G!"

"Oh, there he is! You get lost or summat?"



The fire hall was full enough for Griffin to earn a well-deserved fanfare as he walked in, grinning to beat the band. While he recognized some of the volunteers from their afternoon's entertainment, everyone who'd ridden the engines back to the station had had time to wash the housefire off. Having stayed behind to finish handing things off to the EMTs, Griffin had missed his ride, and was still a mite blackened and singed around the edges. He had clearly transited through the city in his athletic skivvies, turnout over his shoulder, and doubtlessly left a trail of dusty footprints and smudged handrails behind him. The boys found this hilarious.

Finally the career fireman managed to escape the backslaps and jackassery, and after a bark through the captain's office door to 'WASH THEM MITTENS, BOI' and the ensuing scramble to comply, Griffin was collapsing into an open spot on the lounge couch. After plugging his PET in to charge, he keyed it open and flipped through a few tabs. All of them were lit green.

"You awake in there, ScorchMan? How're you feeling?" he asked the device. Someone handed him a bottle of bright red sport drink, a tribute he gratefully accepted, and immediately drained half in one down-the-hatch.

The screen lit up, first in a thermal red welter, then in wireframes, and then ScorchMan was yawning on Griffin's homepage. He took a moment to process the question, looking down and rubbing his chin for a moment like he wasn't sure how to answer. "Good," he nodded to himself at last, "I'm feeling pretty good." He sounded surprised to hear himself say so. His hand slipped under his visor to scratch his face. "I'll be honest with you, Griffin, I wasn't sure I was going to win that one." he spoke quietly - he could hear other people moving around the station.

"Right with ya there, dude," Chuckling, Griffin's head tipped back to hit the pillow. "I had no damn idea what I was doing for most of it," he admitted. The couch was working his magic: the more his muscles relaxed, the lower his filters dipped. "Kept wanting to jump off the bench and break through a wall, but I had to be all strategic instead. Was a damn trip."

"Heh..." ScorchMan kept stretching and flexing experimentally, prodding his stomach where the seeker-beast had stung him. Nothing hurt, somehow. Griffin's words were ringing a backward sort of familiar; idly, he poked at the thought to see how it would unspool. "It was like...firefighting, in reverse," he realized, "Right? I was doing your job bashing around in the fire, and you were doing my job feeding me the where and how!"

Griffin digested that a moment. Then, as his mind was expanded, "...Huh!" He sat back, turning the idea over in his head and finding it very much to his liking. "Dude, that's awesome. We're all, like, learning from each other, how cool is that!"

"Yes...we are, aren't we?" ScorchMan murmured, his head churning. After a moment he spoke up, "Not to change the subject, but we got a tidy little sum from pulling that off, right?" The number was in his head, but there was no telling how much Griffin had spent already. "You mind if I...?"

"Hm? Yeah, of course, go ahead! You damn well earned it...so, you want me to jack you in?"

A thoughtful hum. "The PET's already hardwired, I can do it. Only...you think I could try making the trip myself? I could use the practice, if we're gonna do this again." Left unsaid was a strange desire for time away from his Operator. ScorchMan wondered how one gave voice to that sort of thing.

Griffin blinked. "Yeah," he managed, feeling a fine-grain blend of pride and wistfulness, "Course, ScorchMan. I'll set you up with a call for a GuideProg if you need it, alright?" He held the little screen to his face in time to catch the Navi's grateful look. "Right on. Well, have fun, dude."

"See you in a bit," ScorchMan nodded, and vanished in a red streamer of light.

<(To Navi Net Shop)>