Illustration by Jessie.

The Prodigal Parents

by Cori Falls


Chapter 1 -- A Birthday Wish

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday, dear Eric!
Happy birthday to you!

When his parents, his sisters, his friends, and their parents finished singing, Eric Woodson grinned, made a wish, and blew out the candles on his birthday cake.

So far, November 18, 2016 had been one of the best days of Eric's life. When he woke up that morning, his dad made his favorite breakfast -- French toast. Then, he opened all of the birthday presents his family had gotten for him. His mom had knit him a blue sweater with an Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres on it. His dad had gotten him an album for his ever-growing bottle cap collection. His older sister, Miya, had gotten him an anthology of all his favorite fairy tales. His younger sister, Rose, had made him a big card with pressed flowers from the garden. His uncle Meowth, cousin Charms, and uncle Wobbuffet had gotten him a pad of drawing paper and a set of colored pencils. His great-grandma and great-grandpa Parker had gotten him a nice winter jacket and a pair of boots. His great-grandma and great-grandpa Rochester and his great-uncle Brad had gotten him some DVDs of his favorite movies. His great-grandma and great-grandpa Woodson had gotten him a wrist watch. And his parents' friends, Annie and Oakley, Mondo and Felicia, Emanuela and Simone, and Cairdea had each sent him a birthday card with a check for twenty dollars enclosed. After opening his presents, his parents took him to school, where his third grade class surprised him with cupcakes at lunch. And now, he was with his family at the Luck E. Chansey's in Viridian City, being treated to a pizza party by Gary and Arwen Oak and their sons, Sam and Devon.

But as much as Eric loved all of the presents he'd received and all of the wonderful things his friends and family were doing for him, there was still something he wanted. Something that couldn't be given in a brightly-wrapped package or mailed in an envelope.

I know I can't get it by asking...but maybe my wish will work! he thought as he watched his dad cut the cake and give a piece to everybody.

"Hey, Eric! What'd you wish for?" Rose asked.

Jessie pulled Rose into her lap and stroked her crimson hair. "Sweetheart, he's not supposed to tell anybody."

Rose gave her mother a quizzical look. "Why?"

"Because if he does, it might not come true," she explained.

Her emerald-green eyes widened. "Oh. I'm sorry."

"That's okay, princess. You didn't know," James said as he reached over and gave his young daughter's nose a playful tweak.

Eric smiled as he took a big bite of his yellow and fudge marble cake and licked the chocolate frosting from his lips. In that case, I'm not telling anybody what I just wished for! he said to himself.

Once everybody finished eating their cake, Gary rattled a large plastic cup. "Okay, kids! I've got game tokens!" he announced. "Who wants some?"

"OOOHHH!!! ME!!!" the children cried in unison.

"What's the magic word?" James chided them.

Miya, Eric, Rose, and Charms smiled sheepishly. "Please?"

Arwen chuckled. "That goes for you too, Sam."

"Please?" Sam asked.

Gary nodded. Then, he handed a cup with sixty game tokens to each of the children. "Here you go! Have fun!"

"Thank you, Mr. Oak!" Miya, Eric, Rose, and Charms exclaimed as they headed for the game room.

"Yeah! Thanks, daddy!" Sam said, following them.

"You're welcome!" Gary replied.

Jessie shook her head and smiled again as she watched the children taking their leave. "I can't believe Eric is seven already! It seems like only yesterday James and I were feeding him, washing him, changing his diapers, rocking him to sleep....Where does the time go?"

Arwen shifted Devon to her left arm and gave him his bottle. "I know that feeling -- it still amazes me to think that Sam is going to be six in a couple of months and that Dev just turned one! They grow up so fast, don't they?" she said.

"They sure do," James agreed. "Jeez, I just realized that Miya is going to be starting high school in another year. And before long, Eric and Rose will be old enough to get their trainer's licenses...and they'll probably want to go on a pokemon journey...."

Jessie sniffled and took her husband's hand in her own. "Our little babies aren't babies anymore, James!"

"I know, Jess...I know," James sighed as he draped an arm around his wife's shoulders and held her closer.

"Heh. I think I've got the purr-fect solution ta yer problem," Meowth remarked as he watched his two friends lamenting how quickly their children were growing up.

Jessie and James looked down at him. "And what would that be?" they asked in unison.

"Well, why don't ya just have another baby?" came his reply.

James facefaulted. "I don't think that's a very practical solution, Meowth."

"Why not?" Meowth asked. "Ya can't miss havin' a baby around the house if ya have a baby!"

"Yes, but that baby will grow up eventually, too," Jessie reminded him. "And what are James and I supposed to do then? Have yet another one?"

The cat shrugged. "Works for Me-owth!"

Jessie rolled her eyes. "Spoken by somebody who's never had to experience the joys of pregnancy and childbirth."

"Yes, but he does know all about babysitting," James told her. He flashed Meowth a wicked grin. "Do you think you're up to that kind of challenge for the rest of your life? Do you really think you can handle helping us take care of an endless string of boys who want to be just like their father, James the Mighty Moltres, and an endless string of girls who have their mother's sweet-tooth?"

Meowth sweatdropped as he recalled the disastrous night of babysitting to which James was referring. Even though that had happened over three years ago and he could look back on it now and laugh, it wasn't an experience he cared to actually live through again. "Uh...on second thought, I guess it ain't such a good idea, after all."

Gary and Arwen laughed as they watched the exchange.

"I guess we should be glad that our kids are growing up!" Gary remarked, taking Devon from his wife and seating him in his lap. "Just look at poor Delia Ketchum -- her son is almost twenty-eight, and he's still stuck in the terrible twos!"

Jessie, James, and Meowth shuddered.

Arwen frowned. "Gary, the boys, and I ran into Ash the other evening when we were out for a walk. He started screaming and challenging Gary to a pokemon battle, and the commotion scared Sam and made Devon cry!"

"And when I told Ash to go away because he was upsetting the boys, he spazzed-out even more!" Gary added. "He kept calling Sam and Dev mini-Garys and couldn't figure out where the hell they came from...."

Meowth's eyes widened. "Jeezus tap-dancin' Christ! Didn't anybody ever explain the facts a life ta dat twerp?!"

"Obviously not. And if they did, it probably went way over his head," James replied.

The cat buried his face in his paws. "Dat's pathetic! Miya, Eric, Rose, and Charms have known where babies come from since the beginnin'!"

James smirked. "Yes, I still remember what Miya said when Eric was being born."

Gary and Arwen gave him a quizzical look.

"When I was having Eric, Meowth was in the waiting room with Miya and Charms. While they were there, another family that was having a baby showed up, and their little girl got to talking with Miya," Jessie explained. "Meowth told us that the other girl was bragging that she knew all about where babies come from and proceeded to tell some story about how God grows babies in a magic cabbage patch in Heaven and gets the stork to deliver them to the hospital when the mommy and daddy are ready to pick them up. When the little girl was done with her story, Miya simply replied, Uncle Meowth said my mommy and daddy had sex!"

Gary and Arwen roared with laughter. "Way to go, Meowth!" they cheered.

Meowth blushed. "Well, better the kids learn dis stuff early on den goin' through life thinkin' dat babies come from a magic cabbage patch or the stork. Case in point -- Ash."

"Good point. I can only imagine the reaction he'd have if he ever saw our kids," said James. "He'd probably think that Eric and Rose are miniature versions of me and Jessie."

"No doubt," Jessie grumbled. "And he probably still thinks we're in Team Rocket. Never mind that it's been almost thirteen years since we retired...."

"Wouldn't surprise me," Arwen sighed.

"Yeah, but if Eric and Rose go on a pokemon journey with Sam, just think of all the fun dey can have messin' with ol' Ashy-boy's head!" Meowth laughed. "He'll prolly short-circuit his lone brain cell tryin' ta figure out why the mini-Team Rocket and mini-Gary are out catchin' pokemon and earnin' badges tagedda!"

"Oh, well. Pokemon journies are a few years down the road yet -- even if they aren't babies anymore, we still have plenty of time to enjoy the kids while they're young," Jessie said, getting back to the original subject.

James nodded and put an arm around his wife again. "That's right, Jess. Every age is wonderful in its own special way."

Jessie gave her husband a kiss on the cheek and looked through the plexiglass window of the game room. Miya and Charms were playing together in a tank filled with brightly-colored plastic balls, and Eric and Sam were competing in a game of ring toss. Meanwhile, Rose was riding on a little mechanical Ponyta. "I'm just glad our children have the chance to enjoy their childhoods the way we never could," she remarked. "I know I never got to do fun stuff like this when I was a little girl -- momma couldn't afford it."

"I never got to do this kind of stuff when I was a young lad, either," James told her. "My parents thought having fun of any sort was unrefined."

"Aw, cheer up!" said Meowth. "Youse guys got ta go ta Luck E. Chansey's at least once when you was kids! I should know -- I took ya!"

"Oh, yeah!" Jessie chuckled. "I'd almost forgotten about that!"

"This happened back when Jess and I were seventeen," James explained to Gary and Arwen. "It was Kids' Day, and Jessie was sad because she never got to celebrate the holiday when she was little. And knowing that she'd never had the day off from school, a swimming pool in the backyard, and all the ice cream sandwiches she could eat the way I always did on Kids' Day broke my heart! We were both feeling pretty low that night, but Meowth came to the rescue and decided to give us one last Kids' Day celebration before we turned eighteen!"

"He took us to Luck E. Chansey's for a party, and when they closed for the night, we hid ourselves in the arcade and got locked in," Jessie continued. "The three of us spent the whole night eating pizza and ice cream and playing video games! I had to wait seventeen years for that Kids' Day celebration, but that first...and last hurrah was worth it!"

James smiled tenderly at Jessie and took her hand in his own. "It was also the best Kids' Day I ever celebrated as a kid...because I was able to share it with a friend. Seeing the happy look on Jessie's face was the best Kids' Day present I could ask for!"

Jessie gazed into James's emerald eyes and placed a hand on his cheek. "Have I ever told you how sweet you are?" she asked.

"Only all the time!" he replied.

Gary, Arwen, and Meowth exchanged smiles as they watched Jessie and James press their lips together. Even though they'd been married for almost thirteen years, they were still every bit as passionate and amorous as a pair of newlyweds, and every day their love for each other grew stronger and deeper.

As Jessie and James continued to kiss, Gary shifted his attention to Devon, who was yawning and trying not to fall asleep.

"Getting sleepy, Dev?" Gary asked.

Devon nodded. "Wanna go to bed," he muttered.

Arwen reached over and tousled her son's brown hair. "I guess that means we should get going soon."

"Hey, Meowth. Go tell the kids to hurry up and use the rest of their game tokens, please," Jessie said as she and James reluctantly drew their lips apart.

Meowth jumped from his seat and headed for the game room. "Will do!"

When he returned with the five children a few minutes later, they took their seats at the table once again.

"Did you kids have fun?" Arwen asked.

They all nodded.

Rose grinned and tugged on the sleeves of Jessie and James's sweaters. "Mommy! Daddy! Guess what!"

James pulled his daughter into his lap and smoothed back her crimson hair. "What is it, princess?"

"Eric and Sam were playing ring toss, and Sam won an Eevee doll, and he gave it to me!" Rose exclaimed. With that, she pulled a small Eevee plush-toy from the pocket of her pink dress and showed it to her parents.

Jessie's sapphire eyes sparkled. "Awww! How sweet!"

James smiled. "That was very nice of him. Did you say thank you?"

Rose nodded. "Yessir!"

Gary tousled Sam's spiky auburn hair, and Arwen gave him a hug.

"You're such a sweet boy," Arwen said proudly.

Sam smiled shyly at his parents.

"Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's past Devon's bedtime, so we need to wrap this party up," Gary told the children.

"That's okay," Miya replied. "We had a lot of fun tonight, Mr. and Mrs. Oak. Thank you so much!"

"Yeah! Thank you!" Eric chimed in.

"Thank you!" Rose and Charms echoed.

Jessie and James shook hands with Arwen and Gary.

"I guess we'll be seeing you next Wednesday?" Gary ventured.

"Of course!" said James. "We wouldn't miss your birthday for anything! You're only thirty once!"

As the two families prepared to take their leave, Eric and Rose exchanged looks.

"Mom? Dad? Can Sam spend the night at our house?" Eric asked.

"Please?" Rose added.

"It's okay with us," Jessie told them. "You'll have to ask Sam's parents, though."

Sam's dove-gray eyes twinkled. "Can I? Please?"

"Sure, sweetheart!" came Arwen's reply.

"Yeah, I don't see why not," Gary said to him. "But first, we'll have to stop by our house so that you can take a bath and get your pajamas and a change of clothes."

"YAY!!!!!" Eric, Rose, and Sam cried in unison.

As the three children began to talk about all the fun they were going to have, their parents smiled again.

"I'm glad they all get along so well," Jessie remarked. "It's nice that Eric and Rose have a friend their own age."

"It sure is," Arwen agreed. "Sam really loves spending time with them."

"Say, when you two come over to pick Sam up tomorrow afternoon, why don't you stay for dinner?" James suggested.

"Sounds great!" Gary replied. Then, to Eric and Rose, "I'll drop Sam off in a couple of hours, okay?"

"Okay!" they said.

Once the two families had gathered their belongings, Gary paid the bill, and they all headed for the parking lot.

"Bye, Gary! Bye, Arwen! We'll see you later!" Jessie called to them.

"Thanks again for the pizza party!" James chimed in.

"It was our pleasure!" Gary replied.

"Drive safe!" Arwen said as she fastened Devon into the car-seat.

Jessie and James nodded. "You, too!"


When the Woodson family got home an hour later, Eric and Rose went to take baths and change into their pajamas before Sam arrived. Once the two children had gone upstairs, Jessie and James pulled their shoes off and flopped down on the couch.

"Whatta day," Meowth commented as he seated himself next to them.

"You can say that again," Jessie sighed. "I'm glad birthdays only happen once a year!"

"Yes," James agreed. "Those kids are fun, but they sure can wear you out!"

Miya chuckled. "Poor mom and dad -- you look exhausted. Want me to bring you some tea?"

Jessie and James smiled at her.

"Would you?" Jessie asked.

"Thanks, angel," said James.

"No problem!" Miya replied as she returned her parents' smile and went to the kitchen.

Jessie closed her eyes and sank deeper into the overstuffed cushions of the couch. "How did we end up with such a wonderful daughter, James?"

James wrapped an arm around his wife and let her rest her head on his shoulder. "All of our children are wonderful, Jess. We're so lucky."

Meowth nodded. "We sure are," he said.

After a few minutes, Miya and Charms returned from the kitchen. They were each carrying a large tray filled with goodies. Miya handed the three mugs of chamomile tea to Jessie, James, and Meowth and set a plate of tea-cakes on the coffee table. Then, she took one of the mugs of hot chocolate that Charms was holding and seated herself next to James. Charms sat down next to Meowth.

Jessie blew on her tea to cool it a little before taking a sip. "Thanks again, girls. We needed this."

James popped one of the butter pecan tea-cakes he'd baked earlier into his mouth and nodded. Meowth and Charms, meanwhile, had already devoured at least ten of the sugar-coated confections.

As the five of them sat together and enjoyed their late night snack, Rose came back down the stairs. "Mommy? Daddy?"

"What is it, princess?" James asked.

"Eric's taking forever in the shower," she said. "Can I use your bathroom? Please? I wanna be ready when Sam gets here."

Miya smirked. "Aw, she's just looking for an excuse to take a bubble-bath in mom's marble bathtub!"

Rose blushed and stomped her little feet. "Am not!" she cried indignantly.

James couldn't help but laugh as he watched the exchange between his two daughters. After he'd bought the Morgan estate and begun construction on his new house, he'd found an enormous jacuzzi-style bathtub made of grayish-white marble with silver, gold, blue, and fuschia veins in it among the ruins of his grandparents' old mansion. Since he knew that Jessie adored marble (and since he hated letting things go to waste), he'd salvaged the tub and installed it in the master bathroom. He'd also salvaged everything else that was still in good condition and used it to build his new house. Using part of Jim and Rose Morgan's old mansion to build his house made James feel closer to them...and it made the house feel even more like a home. He couldn't imagine a better place for himself or his family to live.

Jessie loved soaking in her marble bathtub and gazing out the garden window at the forests, mountains, meadows, and lakes of their property every day. And more often than not, James (who had many fond childhood memories of bathing in the tub himself) would join her! But the children enjoyed the bathtub every bit as much as they did, and they often let them use it as well.

Miya winked at her little sister. "Take it easy, Rose -- I'm not picking on you. I look for any excuse I can to use mom's bathtub, too," she said.

Rose blushed again. "I feel like a princess in a fairy tale whenever I use it!" she sighed.

"So do I!" Miya agreed. Now she was blushing, too.

James smiled. "You girls sound just like your mother!"

Meowth nodded. "Yep! The apples didn't fall far from the tree!" he remarked.

Miya and Rose blushed more brightly than ever. Being compared to their parents was the highest compliment anybody could pay them (and Eric and Charms, for that matter).

"Of course you can use my bathtub, princess," Jessie told Rose. "Just don't make a mess or slop any water on the floor, okay?"

"Okay, mommy! Thank you!" Rose replied as she headed back upstairs.

"She's so cute!" Jessie giggled once her youngest daughter was gone.

James hugged her again. "Like I said, Jess -- we're the luckiest parents in the world!"

"I'll say!" said Meowth. "I'm glad the kids fightin' over the bathtub is the biggest problem we got around here. I was talkin' ta Gary the other day, and he sez Ash's mom STILL can't get him ta take a bath -- her poor Mr. Mime is always chasin' him around, tryin' ta vaccuum him and spray him with disinfectant!"

Jessie and James winced.

"That's so bad...." Jessie began.

"....It's not even funny!" James said, finishing the thought for her.

Miya shuddered. "Ugh. I've heard you talking about this Ash guy before. He sounds like a real loon!"

"That's putting it mildly," Jessie grumbled.

James put his free arm around Miya and held her to him. "I just hope you never run into him yourself, angel," he whispered.

"I hope I don't either," Miya replied as she returned her father's embrace.

When she said this, Jessie and James exchanged grim looks and rested their heads together. Long ago, back when they were still Team Rocket agents, there had been a time when they'd hoped that Ash, Misty, and Brock would be able to see that they weren't really their enemies and that they were only following them and trying to capture their pokemon because they didn't have a choice. They'd hoped that the three children would someday realize that they were people too, that they had a lot of the same goals, and that they'd all be able to set aside their differences and make peace. But those hopes had been dashed before long. Jessie James, and Meowth had followed the twerps on their pokemon journey for almost three years, and during that time, they'd proven over and over again that they were good people, they'd never hesitated to join forces with them when it served the greater good...and they'd even saved their lives a few times! But the twerps just never seemed to understand -- as time went on, Brock and Misty had become progressively meaner and nastier with them, and Ash had degenerated from an annoying dork to a cruel, inhuman monster.

Brock and Misty had eventually realized the truth and apologized for many of the harsh things they'd said and done over the years, and Jessie, James, and Meowth had forgiven a degree. The three of them were now casual friends with Brock and Misty. They exchanged e-mails from time to time and visited each other on special occasions, but there were too many hard feelings and painful memories for Jessie, James, and Meowth to consider them truly close friends. Ash, however, was another story entirely -- he'd never been able to see that they weren't evil, and he'd refused to leave them alone and allow them to get on with their lives after they'd retired from Team Rocket. By then, Jessie, James, and Meowth were so disgusted with Ash that they didn't want to have anything to do with him anymore, and after their marriage, Jessie and James had even filed a restraining order against him to ensure the safety of their children.

In a way, Jessie and James were disappointed that being good friends with Ash, Misty, and Brock hadn't worked out the way they'd hoped it would, but things were still decidedly better for them now than they'd been long ago. At the very least, they'd made peace with Brock and Misty, and they hardly ever saw Ash anymore, even when they went to Pallet Town to visit the Oaks. And Gary and Arwen really were good friends, whom they enjoyed spending time with.

"At any rate, you, Eric, and Rose are much cleaner, smarter, better-behaved, and better-looking than Ash ever was!" Jessie told Miya as she brought herself from her reverie.

James smoothed back Miya's purple hair and planted a kiss on her forehead. "Yes. Your mother and I are very proud of you three. Never doubt that."

Miya smiled again. "Don't worry, daddy -- I don't!"

As James and Miya continued to embrace, the sound of a car pulling up to the house was suddenly heard.

"Looks like Sam's here," Jessie remarked.

Meowth grabbed another tea-cake from the tray and jumped to his feet. "I'll let 'em in!" he volunteered.

When the doorbell rang a moment later, Meowth opened the door and welcomed Gary and Sam inside.

"Have a seat, you two!" James said as he and Miya scooted over to make room for them on their end of the sectional.

Gary nodded and seated himself next to them. "I can't stay too long -- Ari stayed home so she could put Devon to bed, and...."

"We understand," Jessie told him. "Don't want her to wait all night for you to get home."

Miya grabbed the tray of tea-cakes from the coffee table and held it up. "Would you like a tea-cake, Mr. Oak?" she asked. "My daddy baked them himself!"

Gary smiled at her and took one of the cakes. "Don't mind if I do. Thank you, Miya."

Sam set his overnight bag on the floor and looked around the living room. "Where's Eric and Rose?"

"They're still upstairs, taking their baths," Jessie explained. "They should be down before too much longer."

Once Gary had finished his tea-cake, he licked the powdered sugar from his fingers and got back to his feet. "Well, sorry to cut things short, but I need to get going," he said. Then, to Sam, "You be good for Mr. and Mrs. Woodson, okay?"

"Okay, daddy. Promise!" Sam replied.

"Have fun," Gary told his son as he leaned down and gave him a hug. "Your mom, Dev, and I will see you tomorrow afternoon."

Sam smiled and returned his father's embrace. "Bye, daddy! See you tomorrow!"

Gary planted a kiss on Sam's head and tousled his hair. "Bye, Sam!"

Meowth waved as Gary headed for the door. "Bye, Gary! We'll see ya tomorrow!"

Gary waved back. "See ya!"

After Gary had taken his leave, Sam walked over to Jessie and James. "Thank you for letting me spend the night, Mr. and Mrs. Woodson," he said.

"You're welcome, Sam," James replied.

Jessie reached down and placed a hand on his shoulder. "While you're waiting for Eric and Rose, why don't you get changed into your pajamas?" she suggested.

Sam nodded.

"The powder room is at the end of the hallway. It's the last door on your left," she told him. "You can get changed in there."

"Alright," he said as he picked up his overnight bag once again and headed down the hall.

While Sam was getting changed in the powder room, Eric came down the stairs. He was wearing a pair of blue pajamas with a Moltres embroidered on the shirt, and his mop of blue-violet hair was still wet.

"Hey! How's the birthday boy?" James asked as he scooped his son into his arms and lifted him into the air.

Eric's sapphire-blue eyes sparkled as he returned his father's embrace. "I had a lot of fun today," he said.

Jessie took Eric from James and seated him in her lap. "I'm glad to hear it, pookie."

Eric blushed. "Mom, I'm seven now! I'm not a pookie!" he cried.

Jessie chuckled and gently tugged on the wisp of hair that was hanging in his face. "Eric, you'll always be my little pookie...even when you're seventy!" she told him. "I just won't call you that in public or in front of your friends anymore, okay?"

"Okay," Eric replied. A contented smile spread across his lips as he hugged Jessie and felt her stroking his hair and planting kisses atop his head. It felt reassuring to know that he could always count on his mother's affection, no matter how old he was.

After a few minutes, Sam returned, wearing a pair of yellow pajamas that had an Umbreon embroidered on them. Jessie couldn't help but smile when she saw him -- she'd made those pajamas for Sam as a fifth birthday present that February, just like she'd made the Moltres pajamas that Eric was wearing. She was glad to see that he liked them so much.

"Hey, Sam!" Eric exclaimed as he jumped from Jessie's lap and ran to greet his friend.

"Hey, Eric!" Sam replied.

"What do you wanna do first?" Eric asked.

Sam shrugged. "I dunno. It's your birthday, so you should decide."

Eric closed his eyes and thought for a moment. Then, he smiled and looked up at his parents. "Mom? Dad? May we please have some more cake?"

James nodded. "Yes, you may. But you'll have to wait for your sister. It wouldn't be fair if you had cake without her."

"If Rose is taking a bath in mom's tub, she's probably gonna be awhile," Eric muttered to Sam.

Sam covered his mouth with his hand and chuckled.

"Why don't you boys play some video games or listen to some CDs while you're waiting?" Jessie asked.

Eric and Sam's eyes lit up at this suggestion. They then seated themselves in front of the TV and played video games for awhile.

When Rose came back downstairs thirty minutes later, she climbed onto the couch and handed her hairbrush and a green ribbon that matched her nightgown to Jessie. "Mommy, will you please brush my hair?" she asked.

"Of course I will, little princess," Jessie replied. "Did you enjoy your bath?" she queried as she pulled Rose into her lap and gently ran the hairbrush through her daughter's long, crimson mane.

Rose nodded. "Mmm-hmmm!"

"I think I'd like to take my bath in the marble tub, too!" Miya remarked. "May I, please?"

"Yes, you certainly may, angel," Jessie told her.

Miya grinned. "Thanks, mom!"

James smiled and gave Miya another kiss on the forehead. Then, he leaned down and gave Rose a kiss on the cheek. "Eric and Sam are going to have some more birthday cake in a few minutes," he told her. "Would you like some, too?"

"Yes, please!" Rose exclaimed.

"I thought so," James chuckled.

When Jessie finished brushing Rose's hair, she tied the little green ribbon at the end. Then, she and James led the three children to the kitchen. While Jessie got out the plates and forks and poured some milk, James cut the cake.

"Hey, Jimmy! Get Me-owth another piece a cake while yer in dere!" Meowth called to his friend.

"Me too, uncle James!" Charms chimed in.

"I'd like another piece myself," said Miya.

Once Eric, Rose, and Sam had their cake and milk, Jessie and James prepared three more servings and brought them to Miya, Meowth, and Charms.

"Thanks!" they said in unison.

"Would you kids like to watch a movie after you're done with your snack?" James asked as he returned to the kitchen and covered the leftover birthday cake with aluminum foil.

Since their mouths were all full, and they couldn't reply, the three children simply nodded.

Jessie placed a hand on her son's head and tousled his blue-violet mop. "We'll watch whatever Eric wants -- since he's the birthday boy, he gets to decide!" she announced.

"I wanna watch my new DVD of The Hobbit that great-grandma and great-grandpa Rochester and great-uncle Brad got for me!" Eric replied without hesitation once he'd swallowed his cake.

Rose clapped her hands. "Yay! I love that movie!" she cheered.

"Yeah! The Hobbit is cool!" Sam agreed. "My daddy named his Charizard after the dragon in that story!"

"The Hobbit it is, then!" said James.

After the children finished their snack, they put their plates, forks, and cups into the sink and threw out their dirty napkins. Then, they all went upstairs to brush their teeth and wash their hands and faces. When they came back downstairs, Eric, Rose, and Sam set three bean-bags on the floor in front of the big-screen TV and watched as Jessie and James got the DVD and started the movie.

For the next hour and a half, Jessie, James, Meowth, Miya, Eric, Rose, Charms, and Sam sat together in the living room and watched The Hobbit. Eric did his impersonation of Gollum during the riddle contest scene, and Sam and Rose hugged each other in fear during the scenes where the goblins were chasing Bilbo and the dwarves and where the intrepid heroes battled the spiders in Mirkwood Forest. And all of them were on the edge of their seats when Smaug appeared.

Jessie and James exchanged smiles as they watched the way Eric, Rose, and Sam reacted to the movie. They had many fond memories of The Hobbit from their own childhoods, and being avid fans of Tolkien's writing was one of the things that had sealed their friendship. It made them happy to see that their love of reading and their appreciation of the fantastic had been passed on to a new generation.

When the movie ended, James stopped the DVD player and switched off the TV. "Well, I hate to spoil the fun, but it's almost midnight -- I think it's time for bed," he told them.

"Can't we watch one more movie? Please?" Eric asked.

"No, you may not," Jessie replied. "Not tonight, anyway. You'll have to wait until tomorrow."

"Aw, man," Eric muttered.

Rose yawned. "But we're not tired yet!" she protested.

"Sure, you're not," Jessie chuckled as she scooped her young daughter into her arms.

"I have an idea," James said. "Instead of going to bed, how would you kids like to camp out in the hobbit hole tonight?"

This suggestion made Eric and Rose smile again.

When Jessie and James had bought the old Morgan estate, one of the first things they'd done was survey the land so that they could decide where they wanted to build their new house. After they'd picked a site, they'd continued to explore and found a large, grassy hill just east of where their house was going to be. Shaded by oak trees and carpeted with wildflowers, the hill looked like something straight out of a Tolkien book, and Jessie and James had decided that once they finished building their house, they'd turn the hill into a hobbit hole so that their children could have a place to play. And once it had been built, the hobbit hole was, indeed, a success -- with its little round door and windows, it looked like something straight out of the Lord of the Rings movies, and it was every bit as cozy and inviting on the inside as it was on the outside. The children enjoyed using it as a club house when they went outside to play, and they often enjoyed camping out and spending the night in it. And whenever the children weren't using it, Meowth and the other pokemon often went there so that they could have a quiet place to relax. It was a favorite place for the entire family.

"Can we?" Rose exclaimed.

James nodded. "Of course! You can even take some of the pokemon with you, if you like."

Now Eric was grinning. "Thanks, dad!"

Rose put her arms around Jessie's neck. "Mommy, can Bocky come with us?" she asked.

Jessie nodded. "I'm sure Arbok would love to, sweetheart."

"What about Growly?" said Eric.

"And Umbreon?" Sam ventured.

"Yes, them too," James replied.

"Tell you what," Jessie said as she handed Rose to James. "Why don't you go with daddy and get the pokemon, and I'll find a bedtime story for us to read?"

Rose smiled again and hugged her father. "Okay!"

"Can you read us some of the stories from the book Miya gave me?" Eric asked.

"That sounds like a great idea," Jessie told him. "Where is your book, anyway?"

"It's in my room with all my other birthday presents."

"I'll go and get it," she said.

Eric smiled at his mother. Then, he looked over at his big sister. "Thanks again, Miya!"

Miya got up from the couch and gave her little brother a hug. "You're welcome, Eric. Happy birthday."

Shifting Rose to his right arm, James reached down and tousled Miya's purple hair. "You're such a sweet girl."

When Miya released Eric, she put her arms around James. "Thanks, daddy," she whispered.

"You getting ready for bed, too?" he asked.

She nodded.

"I thought so," he said, planting a kiss atop her head. "Good night, angel. I'll see you in the morning."

Miya reached up and gave James a kiss on the cheek. "Good night, daddy. I love you."

"I love you, too," James replied.

Once she'd finished kissing her father, Miya smiled up at her sister and gave her a hug as well. Then, she tousled Sam and Eric's hair. "Good night, guys. Have fun camping out!"

"Good night, Miya!" the three children said in unison.

As James took Eric, Rose, and Sam outside to find the pokemon, Miya turned to Jessie and gave her a hug, too. Jessie returned the embrace, and the two of them began heading upstairs.

"Looking forward to a bubble bath in the fancy tub?" Jessie asked.

Miya blushed. "Yeah."

"I think I'm going to take one myself once your daddy and I tuck the others in," Jessie told her. "I do love that tub -- it's absolutely marble-ous!"

"Bad joke, mom!" Miya laughed as she playfully nudged Jessie with her elbow.

Jessie reached down and tweaked her daughter's nose. "Hey, don't blame me -- your daddy made that joke years ago when he told me about his grand-papa's mansion being made of marble!"

"I still remember the day daddy found that tub," Miya remarked. "He actually cried, he was so happy...."

"That mansion...this estate, it was more of a home to your daddy while he was growing up than his real home ever was," Jessie told her. "He loved his grand-mama and grand-papa so much."

Suddenly, Miya's expression became morose.

Sensing her daughter's change in mood, Jessie draped an arm around her shoulders and held her closer. When the two of them reached Miya's room, they sat down together on the bed. "Your daddy's grandparents were the very best part of his life when he was a little boy. And I remember how happy I was when I met my grandparents for the first time...."

Miya hung her head and sniffled. "It must be nice to have grandparents," she sighed.

"Shhh...don't cry, sweetheart," Jessie whispered as she hugged her daughter again. "I didn't mean to upset you...."

Miya hugged back and rested her head on her mother's shoulder. "You didn't," she replied.

"What did, then?" Jessie asked.

Miya closed her eyes and thought for a moment. "I know how much great-grandma and great-grandpa Morgan meant to daddy, and it's always nice when we visit all the other great-grandparents...or when they come to visit us," she muttered. "But when you mentioned how much you and daddy love your grandparents...I guess it kind of hit home with me that I don't have any grandparents of my own -- grandma and grandpa Rochester are dead, and I don't know anything about grandma and grandpa Woodson...."

Jessie frowned as she listened to Miya. There's a reason we don't talk about grandma and grandpa Woodson, angel...a very good reason, she said to herself.

"Why is that, mom?" Miya asked, as if she could read Jessie's mind. "Why is it that daddy never talks about his parents?"

Jessie looked into her daughter's blue-green eyes and cupped her chin in her hand. "Your daddy should've been the one to tell you, but I guess you deserve to know the truth," she said. "Do you promise that you'll keep this to yourself?"

Miya nodded.

Jessie took a deep breath before continuing. "A long time ago...before you were born, your daddy and I decided that when we had children, we didn't want his parents to be a part of their lives."

"Why?" Miya queried.

"Because they did some bad things to James when he was a little boy," she explained. "They never showed him any affection or love, and they always criticized everything he did. And worst of all, they wanted him to marry a terrible person who abused him. He ran away from home after his grandma and grandpa Morgan died because they couldn't protect him anymore, and he couldn't stand the way his mother and father were treating him. And that's why his parents aren't here -- we never want them to hurt you, Eric, or Rose the way they hurt your daddy."

Tears welled up in Miya's eyes again.

Jessie held her closer and planted a kiss atop her head. "Oh, angel...."

"I...I understand why you and daddy feel the way you do," she said at length. "I just don't understand how parents can be so mean to their own child...especially when their child is someone like daddy! I don't understand how anybody could be mean to him or not love him...."

"I'll never understand that, either," Jessie told her. "But I do know that your daddy and I love you and your brother and sister with all our hearts and souls."

Miya brushed her tears away, and a weak smile made its way across her lips. "I know that, too," she whispered. "And that's what matters to me -- you and daddy are the best!"

Now Jessie was smiling, too. "Thanks, angel. That means a lot to me."

"Just telling the truth," Miya replied. "I love you, mom."

Jessie gave her daughter another kiss. "I love you too, Miya."

After a moment, mother and daughter broke from their embrace and smiled again.

"Well...I guess I'd better get my bath now," Miya remarked as she got to her feet and dug a purple nightgown from her dresser drawer.

Jessie nodded. "And I'd better get Eric's book -- they're probably wondering what's taking me so long!"

"Sorry if I kept you," Miya chuckled.

"Don't be," Jessie replied. "Making you feel better is more important than storytime. You are feeling better, right?"

Miya smiled again and nodded. "Yeah. I'm glad we had this talk," she said. "I can see why you and daddy never bring this up, but thank you for telling me."

Jessie reached over and tousled her daughter's long, purple hair. "Well, you've always been a very smart girl and very mature for your age. I wouldn't have told you if I didn't think you could handle it."

This made Miya blush again. "I think Eric and Rose would be able to handle it, too. But you're right -- they don't really need to know unless it becomes an issue. I promise I won't say anything to them about this."

"I appreciate it," said Jessie. Then, giving Miya another kiss, "Good night, angel. I'll see you in the morning."

Miya returned her kiss. "Good night, mom. And thanks again."

"You're welcome," she replied.

As Miya headed for the master bathroom, Jessie went across the hall to Eric's room and found the fairy tale anthology on his bed along with the rest of his birthday presents. Jessie picked up the book and flipped through the pages, smiling as she recalled how much she'd enjoyed the times her mother had read to her when she was a little girl. But then, she remembered that she now had a little boy and a little girl of her own, who were eagerly waiting for her and James to read to them, so she quickly brought herself from her reverie and went back downstairs.


When Jessie got to the hobbit hole, she found James tucking the children into their sleeping bags and Meowth talking to Arbok, Growly, and Umbreon.

James smiled. "Hey, Jess. What took you so long?"

"Miya and I were just talking," came her reply.

"You were?" James queried. "About what?"

"I'll tell you later," she said as she handed the book to him.

James nodded and opened the book to its table of contents. "Okay, kids. You get one story apiece," he told them. "Which ones would you like to hear?"

Eric, Rose, and Sam exchanged looks and thought for a moment.

"Since Sam is our guest, he gets to choose first," James added.

"Is Puss in Boots in there?" Sam asked.

James scanned the table of contents. "Yes, it is," he replied.

"Okay! That's the one I wanna hear!" he said.

"What about The Colony of Cats?" Rose piped up.

James nodded again. "Yes, it's in here, too."

"I'll read that one when daddy gets done with the first story," Jessie told her. Then, to her son, "What about you, Eric?"

"I haven't decided yet," he replied.

"No problem," said James. "Your mom and I will read the other stories first, and then we'll get back to you."

Eric smiled and cuddled into his blue sleeping bag. "Okay!"

For the next twenty minutes, Eric, Rose, and Sam listened intently as James read Puss in Boots, and Jessie read The Colony of Cats. When the two of them finished, they looked back at Eric.

"Have you chosen a story?" they inquired.

Eric smiled. "Yeah! I wanna hear The Brementown Musicians. That's my favorite one!"

"The Brementown Musicians it is, then!" Jessie and James replied in unison.

"I've got an even better idea!" Meowth interjected. "Howzabout I tell youse kids about the time Jess, Jim, and I found ourselves in a real life Brementown Musicians situation?"

This got the childrens' attention.

"You were?" Sam and Rose asked.

"That's so cool!" Eric exclaimed. "Tell us about it, uncle Meowth!"

Meowth looked up at Jessie and James. "Youse guys don't mind, do ya?"

"Go right ahead, Meowth!" said James.

Jessie leaned down and whispered into the cat's ear. "But no cussing!" she warned him.

"Wouldn't dream of it!" the cat said innocently. He grinned as the three children leaned closer and looked up at him in wide-eyed anticipation. "Well, dis happened a reeeal long time ago, back when yer mom and dad was teenagers," he began.

"Gee, thanks, Meowth," Jessie grumbled.

James covered his mouth with his hand and chuckled.

"Alright, alright, it was about fifteen years ago...which ain't all dat long," Meowth corrected himself. "Jessie, James, and I was on the road ta Olivine City, and we'd stopped at a rest station ta have some lunch and take a break from our travels. While we was hangin' out, we learned dat Simon, the old guy who ran the rest station, had an interestin' ability -- he knew how ta speak ta pokemon and understand what dey was sayin'! Unfortunately, dere was also some con-artists in the area -- dey was claimin' dat dey could speak with pokemon, too, and dey was swindlin' a lotta trainers. And ta make matters worse, the local Officer Jenny was really stupid -- she thought dat Simon was the con-man, and she tried ta arrest him!"

Eric, Rose, and Sam gasped.

"When Officer Jenny showed up, she mistook us for a couple a different Team Rocket agents and tried ta arrest us, too," Meowth continued. "But den, the air filled with smoke, and we decided ta make our getaway. Once we was safe from Officer Jenny, we saw a buncha guys leadin' Simon up the road. Turns out, dey was the ones who threw the smoke bomb and created the diversion. We didn't know what was goin' on, so we decided ta follow 'em and find out.

"The guys took Simon to a cabin in the woods and explained dat dey was the con-men Officer Jenny was really after. Dey wanted Simon ta join 'em and use his abilities ta make 'em rich, but Simon refused -- he'd been given a rare gift, and he didn't wanna use it for evil!"

"Good for Simon!" Eric remarked.

"What happened, uncle Meowth?" Rose asked.

Meowth smiled at the children. "I knew exactly how Simon felt," he told them. "He was a human who knew how ta speak pokemon language, and I'm a pokemon dat knows how ta speak human language -- we had a lot in common. I thought it was insultin' dat dose crooks wanted ta make a mockery of his ability, and I knew dat I had ta do anything I could ta help him! When dey saw how outraged I was, Jessie and James decided ta help me rescue Simon, so the three of us snuck off into the woods and started workin' on a plan.

"And as it turned out, it was the story of The Brementown Musicians dat gave us our idea!" he said. "Jessie and James always loved dat story when dey was kids, and one of dere favorite parts was when the donkey, dog, cat, and rooster bust inta the cabin and scare all the robbers. Since we was faced with our own cabin fulla robbers, Jessie and James decided ta get dere pokemon ta play the role of the musicians and scare all the con-men away. Dey brought out Arbok, Victreebel, Weezing, and Wobbuffet and got 'em ta stand one on top a the other. And since Articuno was still a little chick back in dose days, James put him up on top -- dey looked like a big pokemon totem pole!"

Eric, Rose, and Sam giggled.

"Jessie, James, and I hid ourselves in the bushes. Den, with the other four pokemon on her back, Arbok slithered over to the window of the cabin, and dey all started makin' as much noise as dey could and rammin' inta the window! When the window shattered, the crooks didn't know what was goin' on -- we heard 'em all screamin' for dere mommies and runnin' around like a buncha madmen!"

Now the three children were roaring with laughter.

"But the pokemon wasn't just makin' noise -- dey was tellin' Simon ta run for it! Since he was the only one who understood what the pokemon was sayin', he was the only one who knew what was goin' on. To the con-men, it just sounded like a buncha racket," Meowth continued. "When Weezing used his Smokescreen attack, Simon jumped out the window and saw us waitin' for him. Jessie and James told him ta go someplace where he'd be safe, and dey'd get dere pokemon ta take care of the crooks. Once Simon made his escape, we went to the window and watched the fun -- Victreebel was screechin' and slashin' one a the guys with his Razor Leaf, Arbok was bitin' another guy on his leg, a third guy was hittin' Wobbuffet with his club and gettin' it sent back on him when Wobbu used his Counter attack, and all the while, Articuno was up in the rafters, flappin' his wings and cheepin'! Before long, all dose crooks was runnin' outta the cabin, screamin' about the wizard dat clouded the air with black smoke, the witch dat screeched and slashed 'em with her fingernails, the man with the knife dat stabbed 'em in the legs, the blue ogre who hit 'em with a club, the judge in the rafters, shoutin' Bring the knaves up, do! and how the woods musta been haunted! And dat's the story of how Jessie and James's pokemon saved the day!"

Eric and Sam began to clap. "YAY!!!" they cheered.

Rose reached up and gave a hug to her mother's purple cobra. "You're the best, Bocky!"

Arbok nuzzled against Rose and tickled her cheek with a flick of her forked tongue.

Jessie chuckled. "I see your uncle Meowth is being humble and leaving out the best part."

"Once our pokemon had saved the day, Meowth performed his own little act of heroism," James explained. "You see, there was still a problem after the con-men had been brought to justice and the charges against Simon had been dropped. All of the skeptics and people trying to use him had made Simon lose faith in his abilities -- he didn't know what to do with himself anymore!"

"But then Meowth talked to him for awhile," Jessie continued. "Hearing a pokemon speak to him in human language made Simon remember that his gift was genuine, and it rekindled his faith in himself! Simon went on to do many great things after that -- he helped a lot of trainers learn how to communicate with their pokemon...all because one little talking cat believed in him and told him never to give up."

Meowth's face turned red as Eric, Rose, and Sam reached over and started petting him.

"That was such a cool thing to do, uncle Meowth!" said Eric.

Rose leaned closer and planted a kiss on his golden charm. "Yeah! We love you, uncle Meowth!"

Sam nodded. "Thanks for telling us that story! It ruled!"

Meowth blushed more brightly than ever.

"We're glad you enjoyed the stories," Jessie told them. "But now it's time for you to go to sleep."

"We'll see you in the morning," said James.

"Good night, mommy! Good night, daddy! I love you!" Rose said as the two of them gave her a kiss.

"Good night, princess," Jessie and James replied. Then, they turned to Eric and kissed him, too. "Good night, Eric. Happy birthday!"

Eric smiled and kissed them back. "Good night, mom. Good night, dad. Thanks."

"Good night, Mr. and Mrs. Woodson!" Sam chimed in.

"Good night, Sam," they echoed.

"Night, kids!" said Meowth.

"Sleep tight!" Jessie added.

Before the adults took their leave, James looked back at Growly, who was lying next to Eric. "You and the others keep an eye on them, okay?"

Growly wagged his fluffy tail and nodded. "Arrrc!" he replied.

Satisfied that the children were settled in for the night and that Growly, Arbok, and Umbreon would keep them safe, James closed the door of the hobbit hole, and he, Jessie, and Meowth went back to the house.


"So, what were you and Miya talking about earlier?" James asked as he and Jessie headed upstairs. "If it's any of my business, that is."

"Actually, it is your business," she told him.

James raised an eyebrow. "Really? Do tell."

As they passed by Miya's room, Jessie and James paused for a moment and peeked through the door. Miya was sound asleep in her bed, and Charms was curled up at her side. Satisfied that their daughter was resting peacefully, they shut the door again and continued on their way.

When they got to their room, Jessie closed the door and turned to face her husband. "James...Miya asked about your parents tonight," she said after a long pause.

James ran a hand through his blue-violet hair and sighed. "Shit. I knew this was going to happen eventually," he muttered. "What did you tell her?"

Jessie bit her lip. "I told her the truth, of course," came her reply. "I didn't go into details, but I did explain why we never speak to them...why they never visit. I'm sorry, sweetie. I wish you'd been the one to do it, but I couldn't lie to her...."

"Don't be sorry," James whispered as he placed a hand to his wife's cheek. "You did the right thing, honey. The kids are going to find out about all of this sooner or later -- we can't keep them sheltered from our pasts forever, you know."

"Yeah, I know," she sighed.

"How did Miya take it?" he asked.

Jessie closed her hands over his. "It upset her to know that there are people out there who don't love you...but she's glad that she knows the truth now. She respects our decision."

James smiled weakly, but quickly frowned again.

Jessie frowned, too. "What's the matter?"

"I guess I'm just disappointed," he replied. "The times I spent with my grandparents are some of the happiest memories from my childhood...and yet, my own children don't have that. God, Jessie, my mom and dad live just a few miles away, but it's like they don't even exist to us! I can't help but wonder if I'm robbing Miya, Eric, and Rose of something...if I'm being a bad parent...."

Jessie grabbed James by the shoulders and gave him a gentle shake. "You stop that right now!" she interjected. "You can't compare Jim and Rose Morgan to your parents! Quentin and Judith aren't the kind of grandparents that would read to the kids, or play with them, or do any other fun stuff like that! The only thing we're robbing the children of by keeping those two away is a lifetime of criticism and indifference!"

"Don't you get it, Jessie?" James whispered as tears welled up in his emerald eyes. "History is repeating itself! My parents cut me off from grand-mama and grand-papa when I was a boy. And now, I'm doing the same thing to Miya, Eric, and Rose."

Jessie brushed away his tears. "You may be doing the same thing your parents did, but your reasons for doing it couldn't be more different, James!" she reminded him. "Your parents cut your grand-mama and grand-papa off from you because they disapproved of your engagement to Jessiebelle! You, on the other hand, are only protecting the children and doing what's best for them."

"Hmmmph. My parents thought they were only doing what was best for me, too," James snorted.

"Yes, but the things your parents did in your best interests only made you miserable," Jessie told him. "That's because they weren't thinking about you -- all they cared about was themselves and what they wanted, no matter how much they might have tried to convince themselves...and you otherwise!"

"I guess you're right, Jess," James sighed.

"But you really are thinking about what's best for our children, and it shows!" she continued. "Miya, Eric, and Rose are some of the happiest, most well-adjusted children I've ever seen! They wouldn't be like that if we weren't doing a good job of raising them, so I don't ever want to hear you call yourself a bad parent again! Those kids couldn't ask for a better father than you -- just tonight, Miya even said that you're the best!"

This made James smile again. "She did?"

Jessie nodded. "That little girl loves you so much, James. When she got upset earlier, it wasn't because she feels like she's missing out on her grandparents -- it was because she can't stand the thought of somebody being mean to you!"

Now he was blushing.

Jessie leaned closer and kissed him. "All the kids love you. They love you because you're such a wonderful daddy. Never doubt that, James."

"I know," he conceded. "But I still wish things could've turned out differently between me and my parents. I wish they could be the kind of grandparents our kids deserve...."

"Yeah...I guess I do, too," she admitted. "But you know what? That's their fault, not ours. They were too blind to see what a great son they had, and they're too proud to admit that they screwed up. And unless that changes, they don't deserve the privilege of knowing their grandchildren and being a part of our lives. If propriety and image are more important to them than their own family...well, that's their loss."

James put his arms around Jessie and rested his forehead against hers. "Good point," he said. "It's a tough world out there -- the kids already know that, and they'll see it for themselves when they go to college, or set out on pokemon journies. But should be a place where they're safe from the world and don't have to worry about anything. We've worked so hard and made so many sacrifices so that we could give our children that safety...and I'll be damned if we let anybody or anything compromise that."

Jessie nodded. "Exactly!"

James ran his fingers through Jessie's long, crimson hair and held her closer. "We really are doing what's best for the kids, aren't we?"

"Yes, we are...and they know it!" Jessie replied, giving him another kiss. "So, are you feeling better now?"

"Yeah. A little," he said.

A mischievous smile made its way across Jessie's lips as she played with the wisp of hair that was hanging in James's face. "Well, I know something that'll make you feel a lot better," she whispered seductively.

A light sparkled in his green eyes. "Oh? And what might that be?"

Freeing herself from James's embrace, Jessie pulled off her sweater and her blue jeans. "I was thinking we'd start with a nice, long, hot bubble bath in our tub and see where things go from there...."

James's smile became a grin. "Well, what do you know? I was thinking the exact same thing!"

Jessie winked at him as she unhooked her bra and tossed it aside. "Proving once again that great minds think alike!" she remarked.

When she pulled down her panties and tossed them aside as well, James felt his heart begin to race. His cheeks turned even redder than they already were as he took off his own clothes and followed her into the bathroom.

As he joined Jessie in the tub, however, James found himself looking out the garden window at the starry night sky and wondering what it would've been like if his parents had treated him differently...what it would've been like if they were still a part of his life. As much as he loved his wife and his children, and as sure as he was that he'd made the right choices with his life, he still had that one regret in the back of his mind.


Meanwhile, unbeknownst to James, his young son was staring out the little round window of the hobbit hole at the same starry sky, thinking about the birthday wish he'd made earlier that night and wondering if it would come true.

To be Continued....

Author's Notes

The flashback about Meowth taking Jessie & James to Luck E. Chansey's as a final Kids' Day celebration and the bedtime story Meowth told the children about J & J's pokemon rescuing Simon with a Brementown Musicians performance are mini-WYDS of "The Purr-fect Hero" and "The Poke-Spokesman," respectively. I wanted to tell the stories of what happened after "The Purr-fect Hero" and during TR's rescue scene in "The Poke-Spokesman" (especially since I mention these events in my timeline), but they weren't really the kind of things I could develop into full-length WYDS, so I simply incorporated them as flashbacks into this story. (In the Japanese version of "The Poke-Spokesman," there's a rescue scene that 4Kids cut -- our heroes used a rocket launcher on the cabin and got blasted off. I like my Brementown Musicians idea better, though...and I came up with it before I found out about that cut scene, so as far as I'm concerned, that's how they really rescued Simon. And needless to say, they didn't get blasted off!)

I'd also like to give a very special thanks to my friend, Shigeru1313. I'd like to thank her for letting me incorporate her timeline for Gary's future into my story arc. And last but not least, I'd like to thank her for the gorgeous illustration of Gary with Arwen, Sam, and Devon! ^__^ Another special thanks goes to Jessie for the adorable picture of Jessie & James with their kids and Charms!


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