Foolish Weatherman

Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form do I claim ownership to the Pokemon franchise.

Everyone who worked at the Weather Institute, which was located just outside Fortree City in the Hoenn region, were passionate about their job, but none more so than the young manager Bart. Despite being younger than nearly everyone else who worked there, Bart was polite, kind, driven, modest, trusting, and selfless to a fault. No one doubted Bart’s abilities, and everyone liked him for his personality. Bart was also incredibly open and easy to read, almost embarrassingly so. For example, when a pretty young woman by the name of Millie had arrived recently, looking to apply for a job opening and was introduced to Bart, all anyone had to do was look at the manager’s face to know that he was smitten with her. Not that anyone could blame the dark green-haired manager. With thick, glossy locks of medium-length, maroon colored hair, bright blue eyes, and a seemingly flawless complexion, there was no denying that she was quite attractive. In addition to her looks, Millie was as hard-working as Bart, if not more so. She would get up earlier and go to sleep later than anyone else, and would complete any task given to her with astounding skill. She also displayed great interest in seemingly every single aspect of the various studies and research going on at the Weather Institute. Every day at lunch Millie would sit alone with Bart, and together the two would talk enthusiastically about various projects and research studies that were conducted at the Institute, even ones that had been completed long before Millie arrived. And much like Bart and his enthusiastic partner Castform, she also had a close Pokemon companion, a rather silent Ditto that could always be found clinging to her shoulder. In the eyes of those around them, it truly seemed as though the two were meant for one another.

One day, when Millie had been at the Institute for over a week, Bart was walking down the hall on his way to lunch when he suddenly found himself cornered right outside the cafeteria by his fellow researchers, something that greatly confused the young manager. But what truly caught him by surprise was what they were demanding that he do.

“You guys want me to do WHAT?” Bart asked.

“Do we have to spell it out for you? We’re telling you to take Millie out to dinner!” said one of the researchers.

“And don’t even think of denying that you like her! The whole Institute figured it out the day she arrived,” said another, causing Bart’s cheeks to flare up.

“E-Even if that were true, you don’t know if she feels the same!” Bart stuttered.

“Bart, three days ago, I overheard her outright tell you at lunch that she wasn’t seeing anyone at the moment, and yesterday, she asked if you knew any good places to eat in Fortree,” yet another researcher remarked bluntly. “Even Millie is probably wondering why you’re taking so long.”

“B-B-But I…I just…” Bart began to argue, only for a new voice to cut him off.

“Castform! Castform Cas Cas!” The small Weather Pokemon was now its owner’s face, scowling deeply for the first time in Bart’s memory. And while it’s true that Bart, like many other humans, didn’t know how to speak Pokemon, there were some messages that required no translator to be understood.

“Even you, Castform?” Bart moaned in defeat. After taking a deep sigh, Bart opened his eyes to see everyone staring impatiently at him.

“Alright, alright! I get the picture! I’ll ask her out on a date!” Much to Bart’s irritation, everyone’s stares intensified instead of lessening.

“You mean I have to ask her NOW?” All he got for a response was one of his captors gesturing back towards the cafeteria, where Millie was already sitting and eating at the table she usually shared with Bart.

“Why is this happening to me?” Bart muttered. Getting restless, Castform floated behind its owner and began nudging him in the back. The Pokemon kept this up until Bart had made his way through the cafeteria double doors. Bart turned around, only to see the door closed behind him. With several sets of eyes watching him through the glass windows in each door, the manager realized he was trapped.

Mustering up every ounce of courage he possessed, Bart walked over to Millie and took his usual seat right across the table from her.

“Hello there, Bart,” answered Millie, looking up to great him with a charming smile on her face.

“Hi, Millie…” Bart almost stuttered, puzzling Millie slightly.

“Are you alright, Bart? Usually, you’re in higher spirits. And are you going to get anything to eat?” she asked.

“I’m not that hungry at the moment,” Bart scratched the back of his head nervously. “Actually, I want to ask you about something, if that’s okay.”

“Of course it is,” Millie said, still confused.

“Well, there’s this restaurant in Fortree City that opened up a while back, but I haven’t had a chance to go and eat there until today. I was wondering if you’d like to come and check it out with me later tonight. At around 7, maybe? My treat…” Bart’s voice had been getting softer and softer the entire time he was talking, and at the end, it was a faint whisper. As soon as he had gotten his question out, however, he suddenly jumped up from his seat and began to rapidly wave his hands in front of him. In a fast, panicked tone, he added, “It’s alright if you’re not interested or anything. I’d understand, but well, what I mean is that I, well, you see –”

“Bart, it’s alright! Calm down!” Millie interrupted. After letting out a soft giggle, she continued to speak. “I’d love to go with you. How about we meet by the front entrance of the Institute at around 6:15? That should give us both plenty of time to get ready, as well as make sure we’re not in a rush on our way out.” No longer trusting his voice, Bart nodded his head up and down very quickly.

“Great! It’s a date, then!” At this point, Bart’s face was as red as a Charmeleon. “But even so, you should probably have at least something light to eat before you get back to work.” Millie pointed down at her own plate, which had a fair amount of rice on it. “If you like, I can give you some of mine. Consider it my way of saying thank you.” After nodding once again, only not as quickly this time, Millie nudged her tray in Bart’s direction, and for the remainder of their lunch break, all that could be heard from the cafeteria were the sounds of nervous eating and the occasional feminine laugh.

It was at this point that Castform and the researchers who had forced Bart to ask Millie out finally backed away from the cafeteria entrance, satisfied that the first phase of their plan was a success. Now it was time for the next phase, and if the way their boss was acting was any indication, even if they took their time, Bart wouldn’t notice anything until they were finished.

For the remainder of the afternoon, Bart was in a haze, barely able to focus on his work. At around 4, after accomplishing next to nothing over the course of the last few hours, the green-haired manager finally decided to just give up and return to his quarters. Once inside, his partner Castform welcomed him cheerfully.

“Hi, Castform!” Bart greeted the Weather Pokemon. “You know, I just realized that I haven’t seen you since lunchtime today. What have you been up to?” Suddenly, Castform floated behind Bart and started nudging him in the back. “Huh? Is something wrong?”

It was then that Bart finally noticed that there was something lying on his bed. Upon closer inspection, he saw that it was a small pile consisting of a package with a small piece of paper taped to it and a set of keys sitting on top. With Castform still nudging him forward, Bart made his way towards the package, which he found to be surprisingly light after picking it up. But what truly shocked was what he found on written on the piece of paper.

‘Dear Bart,

It was a unanimous decision that everyone chip in and help buy you a new set of threads for tonight. We also decided to let you borrow one of our cars for the night, seeing as how the two of you might not want to walk all the way to Fortree City. Have a great evening, Bart, and good luck. You deserve it.’

The letter had been signed by every single employee at the Weather Institute, with the exception of Millie and himself, naturally. Admittedly, that amounted to just four signatures (the Weather Institute was very short-staffed these days), but even so, this made Bart feel both immensely grateful and slightly embarrassed. “When they said that my feelings for her were blatantly obvious to everyone, I guess they really meant everyone,” he sighed aloud. But more than anything, he truly appreciated all of the support that his fellow researchers were giving him, for he had never imagined that they respected him so much that they would all be willing to go this far for him just so that he could be happy.

Feeling something rub against the side of his head, Bart turned to see Castform staring at him, a knowing grin upon its face.

“You knew about this, too, didn’t you, Castform?” The Pokemon cried out happily in response, which brought forth from Bart a smile of his own. “Thanks buddy.” Walking over to his desk, the manager of the Weather Institute prepared to open the package. “Alright, let’s see what kind of clothes they got me.”

-----------------------------

Two hours later, a freshly shaven and showered Bart stood just inside the main entrance, with a convertible waiting on the other side. Bart himself looked like a new man in his new attire, which consisted of a white dress shirt, long black dress pants, a tie of the same color, and matching dress shoes. Until he had opened the package that contained the outfit he was now wearing, Bart had completely forgotten to look into just what type of restaurant he was planning on taking Millie to. Realizing that those who forced him to ask Millie out in the first place must have overheard their conversation, it didn’t take him long to figure out that they must have gone and purchased these fancy clothes for him sometime over the last few hours. The fact that he hadn’t noticed that anyone had gone out between lunch and now reminded him of just how nervous he’d been all afternoon and how he was anxious even now.

“If they hadn’t done all of this for me, I would have looked like a fool in front of Millie,” Bart acknowledged to himself out loud, taking comfort in the notion that there wasn’t anyone or anything around to hear him. It appeared that the other researchers at the Weather Institute had already retired to their rooms for the evening, and even Castform had been napping on its owner’s bed when Bart had last seen it.

Suddenly, he heard what sounded like the clicking of high-heeled shoes coming from around the corner. Turning to face in the direction of the noise, Bart was greeted by a sight he wouldn’t soon forget. Instead of her usual lab coat, Millie was wearing a bright red, button down blouse with a matching skirt and pumps, with a purse of the same color slung over her left shoulder. Her thick maroon hair, which was usually tied in a small ponytail with an orange hair tie that she let rest on her right shoulder, had now been set in a longer ponytail using a red ribbon and had allowed it fall down the length of her neck. Instead of their usual bright pink, Millie’s lips were now the color of rubies, but other than that, Bart couldn’t tell if she was wearing any other makeup. Lastly, Bart noticed that she was wearing a gold-colored necklace instead of her usual silver one, and was now sporting a pair of gold studded earrings. To put it simply, Millie looked gorgeous. Her stunning appearance rendered him speechless, and both his mind and heart were racing like never before. Noticing that that his face had turned as red as her outfit, Millie walked over to Bart and gently placed her manicured hand on his forehead. “Bart, are you feeling alright? You look you had just bathed in lava, and you almost feel like it, too.”

“…Beautiful…” Bart stammered, burning up even more from their close proximity to one another as well as from the physical contact. Seeing Millie blink in confusion, Bart hurriedly gathered himself together. “I’m fine, or at least I think I am. But wow, Millie! You look absolutely amazing.”

Now convinced that Bart was not ill, Millie stepped back, smiling. Leaning to one side, and with a hand on her waist, she teased, “How amazing? Like a volcanic eruption?”

Without even thinking, Bart blurted out, “There’s not a single thing in nature, or that our research on weather could ever produce, that can compare to how beautiful you are right now.” Realizing what he just done, he quickly amended his statement. “At least, that’s how I feel.”

Afraid that he had made Millie uncomfortable, he was reassured to hear the giggle that he loved so much. “Well, well, Bart. You sure know how make a lady feel special. And frankly, you’re quite the knockout yourself tonight.”

“Thank you, Millie,” Bart smiled, but suddenly noticed something. “Come to think of it, this might be the first time I’ve seen you without Ditto.”

Pretending to be offended, Millie pouted, which Bart thought looked adorable on her. “Are you somehow suggesting that you aren’t satisfied with just me?”

“Of course I’m not, Millie. It’s just that the two of you are rarely seen without one another,” Bart remarked.

“Fair point, but to be honest, I could say the same about you and Castform,” said the young woman. For the first time since this morning, Bart was able to relax enough that he was able to laugh. This appeared to be contagious, for Millie started laughing right along with him.

Once they had both quieted down, Millie spoke up once more. “But all teasing aside, Ditto’s actually right in here,” she said, pointing to her purse. “I doubt anything bad is going to happen to us tonight, but I felt that we should have some form of protection, just in case.” Bart nodded at her explanation, but taking another look at her purse, he realized that until tonight, he hadn’t even known she liked or even owned a purse. In fact, Bart knew very little about the young woman personally. What were her favorite foods? What were her interests other than weather? What her friends and family back home like? However, instead of letting this new found awareness sadden him, he used to it further strengthen his resolve. After all, if there was ever an opportunity to learn more about the woman before him, tonight was that night.

Extending his right arm out in front of him, Bart smiled at Millie. “Shall we go, then?”

“Yes, let’s go,” Millie replied before linking her arm with his, and together they strolled down out of the Weather Institute. As they got into the car and prepared to drive towards Fortree City, Bart’s mind was dominated by a single thought and nothing else.

‘Tonight is going to be wonderful.’

-----------------------------

Upon reaching the outskirts of the city and parking the car, the two researchers made their way to the restaurant, but not without checking out the scenery along the way. After all, Fortree City was famous for its unique architecture, namely how a majority of the structures in town were treehouses. It wasn’t hard to see why it was known as the treetop city.

Millie’s suggestion about leaving early had come in handy, for they still had plenty of time before their seven o’clock reservation. For the most part, the city was fairly quiet this late in the day, but every so often the two came across signs of what appeared to be some form of construction, though nothing a major scale.

“Do you know what’s going on, Bart?” asked Millie.

“Well, if memory serves, the annual Feather Carnival is coming up soon, so perhaps this is all equipment and supplies for some of the rides, booths, and other events that will be taking place,” said Bart.

“The Feather Carnival? Sounds interesting! What’s it about?” inquired Millie.

“It’s a festival where the whole city comes together and celebrates Flying-type Pokemon, though in recent years, it’s also come to include non-Flying type Pokemon that are capable of floating in mid-air,” answered Bart, who saw a flier for the event taped to one of the few ground-based buildings in Fortree. Gesturing for Millie to follow him, the green-haired man walked over to the ad, which provided a list of special events that would be held as part of the festivities, as well as general time-frames for each.

“Does that include just Pokemon with the ability Levitate, or any Pokemon that hovers naturally, with or without that ability?” Millie once again looked to Bart for answers.

“Admittedly, that’s a bit of a grey area, but either way, the primary focus is still centered on Flying-types,” Bart confessed. “Still, I’ve heard that it’s always a lot of fun.”

“You mean you’ve never gone to the Feather Carnival before?” said a surprised Millie.

“Sadly, no, Millie,” admitted Bart. “Because of how small our staff is, we’re generally all needed at the Institute. But ever since you arrived, we’ve been more on top of our work than ever before. At this rate, it may even be possible for all of us to take the day off and attend the festival.”

‘Plus, after everything they’ve done for me today, it’s the least I can do for them,’ the young man mentally added.

“Have I really made that much of a difference?” asked the shocked young woman.

“More than that,” with a sudden burst of passion he couldn’t explain, Bart clasped Millie’s hands in his own. “Millie, you’re not only a fantastic employee, but a wonderful friend as well. I know you’ll make an amazing researcher someday, much better than me. But most of all, I’m really glad I got the opportunity meet someone as incredible as you.”

Millie’s eyes widened at the sound of Bart’s praise. “Why, Bart…I had no idea you felt that way about me. That means more to me then you can imagine.” Millie turned her head to the side and smiled. “It looks like we’ve arrived at the restaurant. Shall we go in, then?” Bart merely nodded, wearing a smile of his, and with one hand still holding onto his date’s, the two entered the establishment in front of them.

-----------------------------

Dinner went even better than Bart could have possibly asked for. Not only was the food delicious, but there weren’t too many other people there, so he and Millie were able to converse at their leisure. To his credit, Bart tried to talk about something other than weather-related topics in an attempt to give Millie an opportunity to talk about herself. But it was quite clear that this made him feel very uncomfortable, so Millie told him that it was alright for him to not try so hard to do something that was difficult for him. Even so, Millie acknowledged that it was sweet of him to try to give her a chance to talk about something that wasn’t work related, but she would actually prefer to hear more and more about what he himself was passionate about, for it was one of the things she really admired about him.

“So, other than natural disasters around the globe, what else have you and the others been working on recently?” Millie asked Bart as they were enjoying their dessert.

“Nothing that special, sadly,” Bart sighed before remembering something. “Actually, a little while before you started working with us, we received some unusual data from the Oceanic Museum in Slateport City.”

“Unusual? How so?” Millie’s blue eyes lit up.

“Well, the data contains information on mythological Pokemon,” Bart answered. “Supposedly, there were once Pokemon capable of altering local weather conditions with their mere presence. But that’s all we’ve been able to determine so far.”

“So far? What do you mean?” the young woman asked as she leaned forward, very curious now.

Bart poked a bit at some of the crumbs still left on his plate. “Well, the museum sent us a ton of books and files, so we had to spend a lot of time just copying and entering the contents from the printed text onto our computers, where it’d be easier for us to look through. But to make matters worse, the source materials we were copying the data from use very complex language that makes it difficult to fully understand what is being said without going over each sentence multiple times. Fortunately, the people from the museum who gave us the data had warned us ahead of time that this might be an issue, so they encouraged us to just work at our own pace with it,” he explained, but seeing the disappointed expression on Millie’s face, he gave her a reassuring smile. “Still, if you’re that interested and you don’t mind waiting a little while, once we’ve made some more progress with our current research, feel free to remind me about that data, and I’ll show you where we have it stored. You’re more than welcome to look it over, then.”

“Thanks, Bart. I’m really looking forward to reading over that data with you,” said Millie, a gentle smile gracing her own features.

-----------------------------

The rest of the evening went by in a flash. Before either of them knew it, Bart and Millie were back at the Institute. Walking through the halls, the pair had all too soon reached the door to Millie’s room.

“Bart, thank you so much for tonight. I had a wonderful time,” Millie smiled as she turned to face Bart, their fingers intertwined.

“My pleasure, Millie. Hopefully, we can do something like this again soon,” the green haired man said with a smile of his own. The two had been holding hands the entire way back, and in truth, Bart was very reluctant to let go.

“I’d love that, Bart,” replied the maroon-haired woman, whose face suddenly seemed very close to Bart’s own. In that moment, an idea popped into the young manager’s head, one that made his cheeks turn bright red.

“H-hey, um, Millie?” Bart stammered.

“Yes, Bart?” said Millie.

“I, uh, have something I want to give you, if that’s alright,” said Bart.

“Sure. Might I ask what it is, though?” asked Millie

“Well, forgive me if this sounds foolish, but would you mind closing your eyes for a moment?” Now Bart’s entire face was heating up, not just his cheeks.

“Um, okay,” Millie complied with his request, though she sounded fairly confused.

‘Now or never, Bart,’ Bart screamed mentally. Before he could lose his nerve, the green-haired weather researcher placed his left hand on Millie’s right shoulder, with his right hand still holding the hand of the dazzling woman before him, and closed his eyes as he kissed her right on the lips.

While kiss itself was incredibly light rather than forceful, the mere gesture made Millie’s blue eyes open right back up, wide with surprise. Just as quickly as the urge had come to him, Bart broke of the kiss, and seeing how still Millie appeared, immediately began bowing and apologizing, feeling as though he had just made a horrible mistake.

“I’m so sorry, Millie! I swear I’ve never done anything like this to anyone before, and I have no idea what came over me! Oh, what was I thinking? Millie, I –”

Without warning, Millie had cupped his face in her hands, pulled him up so that their eyes met, and smashed her mouth onto his. At first, Bart’s brain felt it just been hit by a Pikachu’s Thunder, but once it sunk in that Millie was not only kissing him, but had been the one to initiate it this time around, all the fear and guilt he had just been experiencing vanished. In that moment, all that mattered was that the soft, red, yet oddly cold lips of the gorgeous woman he adored were currently pressed against his own rough, pale, but warm lips.

The green-haired man quickly began returning the kiss, which quickly intensified in force and passion. For several minutes, the two just stood like that, kissing each other with everything they had. But eventually, the two broke apart, each wearing starkly different expressions. Bart’s face had turned bright red, his dark blue eyes shining with giddiness and surprise, and his mouth was gaping wide open yet with no sounds coming out of it. Millie, however, was a very different story. With a slightly raised eyebrow and a small smirk, the maroon-haired woman was giving Bart a teasing look that almost seemed to border on…seductive.

“You’re…not…mad?” finally croaked a still recovering Bart.

“It must have taken a lot of courage to give a girl like me a gift like that, so I felt like rewarding your bravery with a little gift of my own,” Millie said with a wink.

“But, are you sure? I mean, you’re an amazing woman, and I’m just a simple weather researcher,” Bart said, having regained control of his voice.

“And I’m not even that yet, Bart. I’m still learning from you about weather research. But for someone’s supposedly just a simple researcher, you’re pretty darn brilliant and a fantastic teacher,” replied Millie. “Not to mention kind-hearted and even good-looking to boot.”

Bart wasn’t quite sure he’d heard that last part correctly, but wasn’t given a chance to ask for clarification. “Bart, you and I both have a busy day ahead of us, so I’m going to get ready for bed now,” Millie said with a hint of sadness as she turned to face her door. “But I wouldn’t mind if you and I spent more nights together like tonight, even if we didn’t end up going out. In fact, maybe next time, I could show you something special, right here in my room. But until then, no sneak previews, alright?”

Now convinced that he had misheard her, Bart struggled to speak up. “Millie…I…um…er…” the manager mumbled, much to the young woman’s amusement.

Millie stepped inside her room and began to close the door, but poked her head out to look at Bart one more time. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, Bart, including today. Next time, it’ll be my turn to treat you,” she said with a wink. “Sweet dreams, handsome.” And with that, the object of Bart’s affection disappeared behind the door. The young manager waited about a minute before shaking his head, and deciding to return to his own room before trying to make sense of everything that had just transpired. He didn’t have much luck, even with a change in scenery.

-----------------------------

Once she heard Bart’s footsteps recede down the hall, Millie let out the giggle she’d been holding in. Tonight had not only been productive for her, but incredibly interesting and enjoyable. After locking the door, she took a moment to glance around the room the Weather Institute had given her. While not very big (none of the sleeping quarters the researchers were given were, not even the manager’s) and lacking windows, they’d been surprisingly kind enough to provide her with not only a dresser, but her own private bathroom. While not the most gracious of accommodations, they more than suited her needs and purposes.

As she made her way towards her bed, upon which she gently lay down her purse, the maroon-haired woman couldn’t help but think back on all of the great things that had happened to her today. She was asked out on a date, got to dress up more nicely than she’d been able to in quite some time, been treated to a delicious meal, and shared not just one, but two kisses with a handsome young man. But that wasn’t all she’d gotten out of her day.

Entering the bathroom, Millie began to strip out of her clothes as an odd sound could be heard coming from her bed, right around where she had left her purse. Once finished, she undid her ponytail, letting her long maroon locks cascade down her back. As the young woman amused herself by posing seductively in front of the mirror, she continued to go down the list of just what had made today so good. Because her boss was so smitten with her, she’d gotten to take the evening off from doing any work whatsoever, had a very good chance of convincing Bart to go to bed with her in the near future, something she’d craving for what felt like ages, and above all, had been given information vital to Team Magma with barely any prodding on her part. In such a short time, she been able to accomplish two of the three tasks she had been assigned by Team Magma’s leader Maxie, Team Aqua had yet to make a move that would possibly interfere with her mission, and as an added bonus, Bart and even the other researchers at the Weather Institute were completely fooled by her performance, not one of them suspecting a thing. She had each and every one of them dancing in the palm of her hand, and only she was aware of it.

Millie stopped posing and grinned at her reflection. Unlike all of the kind and gentle smiles and playful smirks she’d shown Bart today, the grin she wore now was one of excitement, but of a malicious sort. Putting her hand over her right eye, she removed a colored contact from her eye socket, and then did the same with her left eye. After putting the contacts away, she looked back in the mirror, small mischievous brown eyes, almost like glittering topaz, staring back at her instead of the wide, shimmering blue orbs that Bart had come to love so fondly.

Millie felt around at the back of her neck, seemingly scratching at an itch. A moment later, she held between her thumb and index finger a small piece of flesh-colored metal, specifically part of a zipper. Tugging downwards, Millie slowly traced the length of her spine, the skin on her back parting down the middle as she went. Once she had reached her waist, Millie started pulling on the tips of her fingers, slowly at first, but very quickly picking up the pace until the entire length of each arm resembled extremely long skin-colored gloves. With a nudge, Millie’s torso began to droop towards the floor, her arms resembling wet noodles. A set of hands, slightly more tanned than Millie’s, began to pull down the sagging body along with Millie’s waist and legs. Now with the exception of her head and neck, Millie’s body had been replaced by a different one. The body that had been concealed by the skinsuit was only somewhat darker in tone, and fairly slim, but the most obvious yet shocking difference was that it was that of a male.

“This whole Millie disguise has worked out even better than I thought it would. Makes me wonder what will happen when the real deal eventually shows up,” said the fake Millie with a nasty sneer. Their voice was still that of a woman’s, albeit with a very arrogant tone which “Millie” had never been heard using before by anyone at the Weather Institute. “But even if I happen to still be around then, I’ll get to play at least one more game with Bart.”

The imposter pulled off the maroon-colored wig they’d been wearing before proceeding to turn on the faucet and wash off their makeup. The now bald Millie briefly assumed a sad look in the mirror, but one with questionable sincerity. “It’s a shame that I can’t stay and string them around forever, but at the very least, I know I’ll have left dear Bart with some very special memories,” the fake Millie lamented before blowing an exaggerated kiss at the mirror. As the sneer from before returned to their face, they let out a snort. “Good night, Millie. See you in the morning.”

With that parting remark, the Millie imposter reached for the neck of what was now clearly a mask and pulled it over their head, revealing a man with spiky purple hair with a single streak of orange, thick purple eyebrows, and a strange green marking underneath his right eye. No longer in disguise, the man let out a deep, mocking laugh, which contrasted greatly with the voice he’d been using until now.

“What a foolish weatherman you are, Bart. Attractive, but naïve,” said The Man of a Thousand Faces, the Phantom Thief Brodie. Leaving the remnants of his Millie disguise in the bathroom for the following day, Brodie returned to the bedroom, where his partner in crime Ditto waited eagerly on the bed, the purse from before now nowhere to be seen.

“You did an excellent job tonight, Ditto,” said Brodie as a wide grin appeared on his face. “And I did make you a promise after all. So, what do you have in mind, partner?” The Transform Pokemon didn’t need any further encouragement, and immediately began to morph.

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An hour or so later, Brodie was laying sprawled on his back on top of the mattress, the covers for the bed having fallen to the floor, with Ditto asleep next to him. So far, the Phantom Thief had finished investigating the potential usefulness of the experimental weather controlling device and of Castform for Team Magma. Sadly, the control device itself had very limited range, and attempting to transport it would be impractical. As for the Weather Pokemon, while it was undeniably cute and had some rather interesting abilities, just one by itself wouldn’t be able to accomplish much towards Maxie’s goals. However, “Millie” had gotten access to the device’s blueprints and had found out from Bart how they had artificially designed and created Castform in the first place, and had sent these findings along to Magma’s scientists, thinking that they’d probably find some creative use for them. True, they hadn’t had any significant breakthroughs since Butler’s humiliation and dismissal, but perhaps this would help bring their spirits back up at least.

But what Brodie hadn’t had much luck with until tonight was what happened to be the directive Maxie had considered to be the most important: the data on the “mythological” Pokemon that the Weather Institute had in their position, namely that of the Continent Pokemon Groudon and the Sea Basin Pokemon Kyogre. Control over the former was Maxie’s overall ambition, and doing whatever was possible to prevent Team Aqua from finding and reawakening Kyogre was a close second. “Millie” had not been able to find the data so far, meaning that trying to look for the data in any possible remaining locations would require entering areas that “she” did not have access to, and trying to get in by force would risk drawing unwanted attention. And while there was always the option of just finding and taking the books and files that the information had come from in the first place, under the circumstances, it would be more efficient to just focus on acquiring the data in its digital form. Fortunately, Bart had just promised to show the woman he liked just where the data was being kept before too long, so all Brodie had to do in the meantime was continue to play the role of the enthusiastic researcher.

Much to his pleasant surprise, Brodie found that he was actually having a lot more fun pretending to be the hard-working Millie than he originally expected. While he naturally had to possess a vast amount of general knowledge in order to successfully impersonate so many different types of people, the various pieces of information while working at the institute were genuinely interesting to him, and while some of the work he or rather “Millie” was assigned could get to be difficult, the other researchers were always more than willing to lend their assistance to their newest co-worker, Bart most of all.

Bart…While Brodie felt no guilt for deceiving the manager, that didn’t mean that he didn’t care at all about the poor guy. The green-haired researcher was knowledgeable and passionate about his work, as well as kind, honest, and very considerate of just about everyone he met. The Phantom Thief had gotten to know many people while in disguise, and admittedly, not that many people were as genuinely selfless as Bart, especially those in positions of at least relative authority and power. Not to mention that the head of the Weather Institute wasn’t that bad on the eyes, at least in his opinion. If the Phantom Thief had his way, “Millie” would have Bart spending the night in bed with “her” very, very soon.

Still, Bart would eventually find out the truth, regardless of Brodie’s performance, and if his behavior tonight were any indicator, the reveal would undoubtedly hurt the researcher. But Brodie had a rather odd perspective on the matter. First of all, whenever he took on missions that involved a time limit with an inevitable exposure at its conclusion, but allowed for an opportunity to form connections and get close with specific individuals, some more closely related to his objective than others. The Phantom Thief viewed these scenarios as a sort of personal challenge, where he would try and see just how deep a bond could be formed between one such individual and whoever he was impersonating before time ran out. When that happened and the truth came out, Brodie also found it interesting to occasionally go back and see to what extent people had been affected by his actions. For some, the pain of betrayal had become too much to bear, but in other cases, those who he had deceived would eventually recover, grow stronger, and become better people afterwards. Such outcomes became especially apparent when he had formed romantic relationships with another person while pretending to be someone else, namely someone who the person he was deceiving either already know or very well come to know after Brodie had left. To The Man of a Thousand Face, the more of an impression he’d left and impact he’d had on a person he’d gotten together with, the more victorious he saw himself as, and the greater a job he must have done impersonating someone else.

Speaking of which, from what info he had gathered on the real Millie before beginning this operation, his portrayal of her wasn’t that far from the mark. The woman in question really was just as enthusiastic, polite, and interested in meteorology as the façade he had been maintaining while here at the Institute. The only potential alterations Brodie may have made to her was making her flirtatious, confident in her physical appearance, and interested in relationships of a specific nature, and even those traits were subdued for the most part, not to mention not necessarily implausible based on the data he’d gathered prior. In fact, from what he knew of the actual Millie and what he’d come to know firsthand about Bart, he wouldn’t be too surprised if the two of them really did end up together in the end, either despite or possibly even because of his own actions at the Weather Institute.

Yes, Brodie was extremely confident in his talents, and justifiably so. Nothing short of a specialized x-ray machine, body scanning or tracking device, psychic mind-reading technique, or some sort of sixth sense could penetrate his illusions, and he rarely had any reason to worry about any of those possibilities. He was accustomed to traveling via a compactable jet-pack with an impressive fuel supply, and since he operated only within the Hoenn region, over the top customs like those at some security check-points were almost never a factor for him. He also made it a habit to check anything he stole for tracking devices. As for mind-reading, such a talent required great mastery over Psychic Pokemon, along with a large amount of training and specialization, and even on a global scale, few people in law enforcement were capable of or in some cases even allowed to attempt such methods. And after years of deceiving so-called experts who claimed to be able to identify anyone who was dressed as another person (sometimes getting quite intimate with them in fact), the idea that he could come across someone that could just instinctively know when someone was not who they appeared to be without any real logical basis had become one that he barely took into any real serious consideration.

But while Brodie may be “The Man of a Thousand Faces” and a master of impersonating others, not once had he ever assumed an identity that didn’t already exist. Maybe one day he’d risk trying to completely fabricate an alias, but for now, he was content with simply imitating actual people. Trying to do something original just wasn’t a concern of his at the moment.

Brodie’s thoughts were interrupted as he heard a faint beeping coming from inside one of the drawers in the dresser. Getting up to investigate, he opened the drawer which contained his Team Magma uniform and pulled a small device from one of the pockets.

“An update from HQ? It has been a while since they last contacted me…” Brodie murmured to himself as his eyes scanned the message that had been sent to his communicator. Apparently, the real Millie was due to arrive much sooner than originally expected. In addition, Team Aqua had been seen making their way towards the Weather Institute. However, the sender of the message didn’t know enough to provide an ETA for either party, but either way, Brodie should be on the look-out.

Brodie put the communicator back inside the pocket of his uniform before proceeding to close the drawer and get back into bed, not feeling the least bit concerned. He’d been in situations with much worse odds before, so he was confident that one way or another, he’d be able to return to HQ with the data. On top of that, if Team Aqua was enough of a scene when they showed up, he might not even have to wait for Bart to share the data with “Millie”. Depending on how things played out, Team Aqua would actually end up making his own job much easier. As the real Millie, it was unlikely that she’d get there before Team Aqua, but either way, all this really meant for him was that he was going to have to act just a little bit faster, but just as cautiously, if he wanted to have a bit more pleasure before his work at the Weather Institute came to an end.

“Perhaps Bart and Millie will be having their next date a little sooner than expected, thought I doubt either of them will mind much…” said a smirking Brodie, eagerly awaiting the coming morning.

(The End)



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