Illustration by Shigeru1313.

The Prodigal Parents

by Cori Falls


Chapter 2 -- Twerp in Candy Land

The sun slowly crept above the eastern horizon, painting the dark sky with brilliant hues of pink and gold and chasing away the white mists that enveloped the Cobalt Mountains in the west and the Lilac Mountains in the east. A new day was beginning in Pallet Town, and Gary Oak was sitting at the table with his son, watching the sunrise and getting ready to enjoy his breakfast.

Gary smiled as Arwen brought a large platter of apple cinnamon pancakes from the kitchen and set them on the table. "Those smell delicious, Ari!" he said as he inhaled the warm, sweet aroma.

Arwen returned her husband's smile and nodded. "I used some of the apples that Jessie and James gave us the other day," she told him. "We'll have to thank them again when we go to pick Sam up tonight."

"Yeah. And we'll have to thank them for the syrup, too," Gary agreed as he put one of the pancakes onto a plate for Devon, cut it into bite-sized pieces, and drizzled it with apple syrup.

Devon clapped his tiny hands and giggled when Gary set the plate in front of him. "Yummy!" he exclaimed.

As Gary and Arwen began fixing plates for themselves, however, they suddenly heard a knock at the front door. And then they heard a familiar (and unwelcome) voice....

"GARY!!! I challenge you to a pokemon battle!" Ash shouted as he stormed into the breakfast nook.

Arwen frowned. "What the?! Who let you in?!" she demanded.

Gary buried his face in his hands. "Aw, crap. I knew I should've locked the door again when I brought in the newspaper," he grumbled.

"I'm here to compete for...whatever badge you're giving away in that gym of yours!" Ash announced.

"Ash, the gym isn't even open yet!" Gary snapped. "In case you haven't noticed, we just woke up, and we're trying to eat our breakfast! Now, will you please go away?!"

Ash smirked. "Hah! I still remember the first day of our pokemon journey and how you laughed at me because I showed up at Professor Oak's lab in my pajamas! Well, who's laughing now, Gary?! Now who's the loser that's still in his pajamas?!"

Gary rolled his eyes. "Ash, that was almost eighteen years ago! Get over it, already!"

"I'm a better trainer than you are, Gary!" Ash continued. "I know I can beat that Umbreon of yours! I beat you at Indigo League, I won an Orange League championship, I...."

"We know, Ash! We've heard this story a million times before!" Arwen said, cutting him off. "But it's not going to change the fact that the gym isn't open yet! Now stop yelling at Gary, and get out of our house!"

"Yeah! Stop yewwing at da-da, you cwazy man!" Devon cried.

"Augh! Now that mini-Gary is picking on me, too!" Ash whined.

"Well, gee, I wonder why?" Arwen muttered sarcastically as she lifted Devon from his high-chair and cradled him in her arms.

Suddenly, Ash's gaze drifted to the platter of pancakes on the table. "Uh, can I have something to eat while I'm waiting for the gym to open?" he asked. "My mom made sausage and eggs for breakfast, but I'm still hungry, and...."

Gary and Arwen sweatdropped.

"He busts into our house uninvited and yells at us, and now he expects us to feed him?!" Arwen said in disbelief.

Gary clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. "Dammit, Ash! This isn't some sitcom where the whacky neighbor can pop in for a visit whenever he likes!" he shouted.

Ash blinked. "Uh...does this mean I can't have breakfast?"

"That's precisely what it means!" Gary replied. "Now go home, Ash!"

"But I wanna battle in your gym and get a baaaadge!" Ash whined.

"Well, that's too bad," Gary said as he grabbed Ash by the lapels of his blue vest and hauled him back to the foyer. "Because my gym doesn't open until later, and I don't accept challenges from whiny crybabies who hassle me and my family! Now get out and stay out!" With that, he tossed Ash out the front door.

"Augh! You're such a jerk, Gary!" Ash cried as he landed on the walkway with a loud thud.

Gary shrugged. "Whatever."

Ash got back to his feet and shook his fist at Gary as he headed down the walkway. "Grrr! I'll show you!" he shouted. "I'll go out and earn some more badges! Then, I'll come back and beat you, Gary! Then we'll see who the best trainer in Pallet Town is!"

"Whatever," Gary repeated.

"I don't know what's more disturbing," Arwen remarked as she watched Ash taking his leave. "The fact that he still thinks there's some kind of competition going on between the two of you, or the fact that he still thinks he's on his pokemon journey."

Gary draped an arm around his wife. "I don't know either, Ari...I don't know either...."

The two of them exchanged looks and rested their heads together as they recalled how Ash had gotten into such a sorry state....

After Ash Ketchum had his trainer's license revoked almost thirteen years ago, he'd gone off on his own for a couple of years, hoping to start a new pokemon journey. But without his license (and since all of his pokemon had been confiscated, and he hadn't been able to catch any new ones), no gym leaders would accept challenges from him. And when he'd returned to Pallet and discovered that Gary had opened his own gym, his imagined rivalry with his old neighbor had been rekindled. Gary, however, had no intention of ever accepting a challenge from Ash. As far as he was concerned, anybody who hurt his friends was unworthy of competing for, let alone winning, the Dark Badge.

But Ash just couldn't seem to understand that he wasn't a pokemon trainer anymore and that everybody had moved on with their lives. In his mind, Gary was still his number one rival, Jessie, James, and Meowth were still the three Team Rocket agents who were after his Pikachu, all of the toy pokemon that his mother had bought for him after he'd lost his license were real, and he was still a ten year-old boy on a pokemon journey. To everybody else, however, Ash Noober Ketchum was just a nuisance.

"Do you think he'll ever learn?" Arwen asked once Ash had disappeared from sight.

Gary held her closer and planted a kiss on her forehead. "I doubt it."

"That's really sad when you think about it," she remarked.

"Yes, it is," Gary agreed. "I'm not about to sit around and feel sorry for him, though -- he has nobody to blame but himself!"

Arwen nodded. "You're right. Let's just hope he doesn't bother us anymore today."

"Or anybody else, for that matter," Gary added. With that, he locked the front door, and he and Arwen returned to the table to finish their breakfast.


Meanwhile, fifteen miles up the road from Pallet Town, the Woodsons were beginning their day as well. After coming in from the hobbit hole and getting cleaned up and dressed, Eric, Rose, and Sam joined the rest of the family at the table and enjoyed a delicious breakfast of cinnamon rolls (which James had made from scratch, using fresh cinnamon that he'd grown in his herb garden) and hot chocolate. And now, Meowth, Charms, and Wobbuffet were cleaning up the kitchen, and the children were following Jessie and James outside so that they could help them feed and groom their pokemon.

Eric, Rose, and Sam squealed with delight as Jessie and James tossed their poke balls and released all of their pokemon. Jessie's shiny Rapidash, Roheryn, shook out her long, fiery mane and switched her tail about, and James's Donphan did a Rollout into the soft, green grass. Weezing drifted to Arbok's side and nuzzled against her, and their baby Ekans and Koffing did the same. Ninetales licked Growly on the nose as he emerged from the hobbit hole and joined his friends. Umbreon, meanwhile, seated herself at James's feet and watched as Jessie's Sunflora and James's Cacnea and two Victreebels began soaking up the sunshine. James's Xatu, Thorondor, perched in the branches of a nearby tree and gazed off into the distance as Jessie's Lickitung, Delibird, Espeon, Seviper, and Suicune frolicked together on the ground beneath him. Jessie's shiny Beautifly and Articuno took to the air with James's Moltres, Charizard, and shiny Dustox while her Serpentite, and his shiny Gyarados went to a nearby pond. Following their parents' cue, Miya tossed her own poke balls and released her shiny Ponyta, Shadowfax, her Wobbuffet, her Enekororo, and her shiny Articuno chick, Eric released his Articuno chick and his Griffin, and Rose released her two Bellsprouts. And when James released his Articuno, the bird tried unsuccessfully to perch on his head the way he used to when he was a chick. After several failed attempts, Articuno finally settled on standing next to James.

Jessie chuckled. "Apparently, Articuno never got the memo that he outgrew perching on James's head about ten years ago," she told the children.

James laughed, too. "No matter how big he gets, I'll always be daddy-bird to him," he said as he stroked Articuno's ice-blue feathers.

Sam knelt down and scratched behind Umbreon's ears. "You have such cool pokemon, Mr. and Mrs. Woodson!" he remarked.

"Yeah! Mom and dad's pokemon are the best!" Eric agreed as he put his arms around Growly's neck.

Growly pressed his nose against Eric's cheek and gave him a gentle lick.

"My daddy says his Umbreon loves your Umbreon," Sam continued.

James nodded. "Your dad gave me and Jessie a lot of helpful advice when we found our Eevees. And his Umbreon absolutely adored my Eevee!"

"Daddy, are your Umbreon and Mr. Oak's Umbreon gonna have babies someday?" Rose asked.

"Yeah! Like Roheryn and Mrs. Oak's Rapidash!" Miya chimed in as she stroked Shadowfax's fiery mane.

Eric stroked his Articuno chick's feathers. "And your two Articunos!"

"And your two Victreebels!" Rose added, scooping up her Bellsprouts.

"I'm sure they will, kids," James replied. "Gary and I would love for our Umbreons to have some pups together!"

Miya blushed when she heard this. "A litter of Eevee pups would be so cute!" she exclaimed.

"It sure would!" Jessie agreed. She was blushing, too.

"Arwen was telling me that she'd like to breed her Donphan to mine someday, too," James went on. He smiled at Sam and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Wouldn't a Phanpy be a cute pokemon for your little brother to have?"

Sam's gray eyes lit up. "Yeah! Devon loves mommy's Donphan! I bet he's gonna want one of his own someday!"

"At any rate, you kids certainly aren't going to have a shortage of pokemon!" Jessie told them as she picked Rose up and set her on James's shoulders.

As the six of them continued to talk, they made their way to the barn and got out the pokemon food that James had made. After the pokemon had been fed, Jessie, James, and the children got to work on grooming them. Miya, Eric, and Sam brushed Ninetales, Growly, Espeon, and Umbreon's fur while Jessie brushed and curry combed Roheryn and Shadowfax and picked their hooves. Meanwhile, Rose helped James water Sunflora, Cacnea, and the two Victreebels and Bellsprouts and give them their daily chlorophyll supplements. Then, they spritzed all of the pokemon with a solution to keep them clean and sweet-smelling.

Once they were finished grooming the pokemon, James held out his arm and called to Thorondor.

"Xa-tu!" the eagle said as he perched on his trainer's arm.

"Thorondor, would you please use Future Sight and show us what the weather is going to be like today?" James asked.

Thorondor nodded and looked to the sky. After a moment, his eyes began to glow.

James closed his eyes and concentrated. "Hmmmm...a clear, sunny day with a high of 60 and light winds from the north," he said. "That sounds like perfect apple-picking weather to me!"

"It sure does!" Jessie agreed.

The two of them exchanged smiles. After they'd built their new house, Jessie and James had planted an immense orchard of apple, peach, pear, pecan, cherry, avocado, orange, and grapefruit trees on the northern edge of their property. No matter what time of year it was, something was always in season. And along with the fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and flowers that they grew in their garden, they had a neverending supply of produce. They had so much produce, in fact, that after taking what they needed for their family, sharing with their friends, and even donating to the less fortunate, they still had plenty left over! Now that Jessie and James no longer ran Salon Roquet, they made their living by selling the fresh fruit, jams, jellies, marmalades, preserves, syrups, and candies that they made from their orchard and garden's bounty...and it had made them more successful than they'd ever dared to dream!

And now that the apples were in season, they were busy with harvesting and preserving once again. Jessie and James had spent the past month picking apples and using them to make apple butter, apple jelly, apple syrup, and various other things...and today was no exception.

"Why don't you kids go and play for awhile?" James suggested. "I'm sure Sam didn't come over to sit around and watch me and Jessie work all morning."

Eric, Rose, and Sam giggled.

"Are you sure you don't need any help?" Miya asked.

"You four were already a big help with the pokemon. Now it's time for you to have some fun," Jessie told her. "Besides, James and I are only going to work on a few trees today, and the Victreebels are going to help us."

Miya nodded. "Okay. Just thought I'd ask."

"And we appreciate it, angel," James said as he leaned down and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

After returning her father's kiss, Miya took Eric and Rose by the hands and motioned for Sam to follow. "Come on, guys. Let's go back to the house and watch another movie," she said.

"Can we watch The Last Unicorn?" Rose asked.

"Yeah!" said Eric. The Last Unicorn was another DVD that he'd received for his birthday.

"Of course we can!" Miya replied. "In fact, that's the movie I was going to suggest!"

Jessie and James smiled again as they watched the children taking their leave.

"I said it before, and I'll say it again -- those are some of the best kids in the world!" Jessie commented.

James draped an arm around her shoulders. "I couldn't agree more!"


Jessie, James, and the two Victreebels spent the next three hours picking the choicest apples from the trees in their orchard. By the time they were finished, they had ten bushels, and there were still lots of apples that needed to be picked!

"Not a bad haul for only half a morning's work!" Jessie remarked as she and James put the baskets into the back of their truck. "We should be able to make at least twenty gallons of apple butter from this and still have plenty left over for other things!"

James nodded. "Speaking of which, I think I'll use some of these to bake an apple pie this afternoon -- it'd be the perfect dessert to go with the pork roast I'm making for dinner."

Jessie licked her lips. "That sounds like a great idea, James!"

James smiled at her as he revved up the truck. "Come on. Let's get these apples into the store-room and go get some lunch -- all this talk about food is making me hungry!"

"Me, too," she said. "I guess making apple butter will have to wait until tomorrow -- we already have more than enough on our plate today."

"More food talk," James chuckled. "Now I'm hungrier than ever!"

Sensing a golden opportunity, Jessie chuckled, too. "These hunger pains are giving us trouble!"

James grinned. "So we'd better eat lunch on the double!" he concluded.

The two of them laughed as James put the truck in gear and started heading back to the house. They still enjoyed speaking in rhymes, finishing each other's sentences, and reciting impromptu mottoes as much as they did when they were teenagers.


By the time Jessie and James finished putting the apples in the store-room and returned to the house, it was almost one o' clock. When they went inside, they saw that the children had finished watching their movie. Now, Miya was making lunch, and Meowth, Charms, and Wobbuffet were watching an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

"Hi, mom! Hi, daddy!" Miya said as her parents came through the kitchen door.

James set a basket of apples on the counter and planted a kiss atop his daughter's head. "Hi, angel. What's for lunch?"

"Peanut butter and blackberry jelly sandwiches, graham crackers, and milk for the kids, and I'm making some vegetable soup for you and mom," came her reply.

"Thank you, Miya. That's so sweet," Jessie sighed.

"Don't mention it!" Miya said as she removed the pot of soup from the stove and continued putting the sandwiches together.

After taking off their jackets and boots and putting them in the coat closet, Jessie and James went to the powder room to wash up. When they returned to the dining room, Meowth, Wobbuffet, and the children were eating their sandwiches, and two large bowls of vegetable soup and a loaf of pumpernickel bread were waiting for them.

"Did you kids enjoy your movie?" Jessie asked as she cut two slices of bread for herself and James.

Sam nodded. "Yeah! I like that one almost as much as I like The Hobbit!"

"And guess what!" Rose exclaimed. "While we were watching the movie, Eric used the new sketchpad and colored pencils he got for his birthday and drew a picture of some unicorns! It's really pretty, and Miya liked it so much that she put it on the refrigerator!"

Eric blushed and buried his face in his hands.

Jessie and James looked over at the refrigerator and saw a beautiful colored pencil drawing of two unicorns standing on the bank of a pond.

"Awww! What a wonderful picture!" Jessie exclaimed.

James reached over and patted his son on the back. "Don't be shy -- you know we love your drawings! You've got real talent!"

Eric looked back at his parents and smiled. "Thanks," he said softly.

For the next half hour, the family sat together at the table, eating lunch and talking about everything that they'd been doing. When they finished eating, Meowth, Charms, and Wobbuffet cleared the table and went back to watching Monty Python. Meanwhile, James got the pork roast out of the refrigerator and began browning it in a large pot while Jessie and Miya got to work on peeling, coring, and slicing the apples so that he could make a pie. Eric, Rose, and Sam, however, didn't feel like watching television, and they knew that they'd just be in the way if they tried to help in the kitchen, so they decided to go outside and play for awhile.


"Grrr! That Gary is such a jerk! He thinks he's so great just because he has his own gym!" Ash grumbled as he stormed up the road. "I don't know why everybody thinks he's a better trainer than I am -- I beat him at Indigo League, he never even competed in Orange League, and I bet he cheated at Johto League and that time his stupid Eevee beat you, Pikachu...."

The plush Pikachu that Ash was carrying gave no reply.

"....Well, we'll show him!" Ash continued, clenching his fists. "We're gonna catch lots of new pokemon today, and when Gary finally changes out of his pajamas and opens his gym, he's gonna be sorry! I am Ash Ketchum from the town of Pallet, and I'm the world's greatest pokemon master!!!"

As Ash continued to rant, he suddenly smelled the aroma of apple pie, and his stomach began to growl.

"But first, I need to get something to eat -- I'm huuuungry!" he said, clutching his stomach in his hands. "Why don't we find out where that smell is coming from?"

With that, Ash left the road and began following the scent of the apple pie. After climbing over a tall fence, fighting his way through a dense patch of woods, and running through a wide meadow, he saw a large log house atop a hill. The apple pie aroma was stronger than ever now.

"Come on, Pikachu! Let's go have some lunch! I'm sure whoever is baking that pie will be happy to share with us!" Ash cried.


"All right! I get to take a shortcut through the Gumdrop Mountains!" Sam cheered as he drew a purple card and moved his little yellow gingerbread man.

Rose smiled at him and drew the next card from the deck. She'd spent the last three turns stuck in the Cherry Pitfall, and now that she was finally able to move again, she was hoping to gain some lost ground. "Yay! The Peanut Brittle Cottage!" she exclaimed as she moved her green gingerbread man.

Eric smiled too as he looked up from his reading for a moment and watched his sister and his best friend. The three of them had spent the last hour sitting on the porch and playing Candy Land. After they'd each won a game, Eric had bowed out of the competition. Now, Rose and Sam were playing a tiebreaker game, and he was sitting on the porch swing, reading more of the fairy tales from the book Miya had given him for his birthday.

As Eric resumed his reading, however, he heard the sound of somebody climbing up the porch steps...and then he heard Rose and Sam screaming! Looking up again, Eric saw a young man with greasy black hair and a scraggly beard standing on the porch. The man looked (and smelled) like he hadn't bathed in ages, and several of his teeth were missing.

"Uh...can we help you, sir?" Eric asked as he came to Sam and Rose's side and placed his hands on their shoulders.

But the man gave no reply -- he was too busy staring at the Candy Land game.

"Sir?" Eric repeated.

"Whoa! It's Candy Land!" the man said at length. "I had this game when I was a kid, but when I ate all the cards that had pictures of candy on them, they didn't taste like candy! It sucked!"

Eric raised an eyebrow. "What the hell are you talking about, mister?!"

Sam shuddered. "Oh, no! It's Ash Ketchum!" he whispered to Eric and Rose.

"You mean the crazy guy that your daddy was telling us about?" Rose whispered back.

Sam nodded.

Now Eric and Rose were shuddering, too.

"I wonder if this one tastes any better...." Ash continued. With that, he grabbed a handful of cards and shoved them into his mouth.

Eric sweatdropped. "Jeez, I've heard horror-stories about this guy from mom, dad, uncle Meowth, and Mr. Oak, but...holy shit! I had no idea he was really as stupid as they said!"

Rose's eyes widened. "I thought he was just a monster, like the Boogieman!"

"Hey! Stop eating Eric and Rose's game, you weirdo!" Sam shouted.

Ash looked up from the game and frowned at the three children. "Augh! It's another mini-Gary! And a mini-Jessie and a mini-James! You can't have this candy, you losers -- I saw it first!" he snapped. "And I won't let you steal my pokemon, either! Pikachu! Hit them with a Thunderbolt!"

When Ash said this, Sam and Rose screamed again and hid behind Eric. But when they saw that the Pikachu he had with him was only a toy, the three children burst out in peals of laughter.

"Stop laughing at me!" Ash whined. "This is MY candy!"

An angry light sparked in Eric's sapphire-blue eyes. "Listen, you dumbshit! It's not real candy, and it's not yours! Now go away, and leave us alone!"

"You're a jerk, mini-James!" Ash shot back. "Team Rocket is evil, and I'm gonna make you losers pay for trying to steal my candy!"

Before Ash could bark out another command to his plush Pikachu, however, Eric punched him in the stomach and made him spit out the cards he'd been chewing on. While he was doubled over, Eric punched him again, this time in the face.

"Augh! You're a bunch of dirty, rotten cheaters, Team Rocket!" Ash wailed as he tumbled down the porch steps.

Eric ran a hand through his blue-violet hair and sighed. "What the hell is that guy's problem, anyway?!" he asked.

Rose sniffled as her emerald-green eyes filled with tears. "And why is he so mean?"

"And stupid?" Sam chimed in.

"Aw, phooey! Those tasted like cardboard, too!"

The three children turned and saw Ash coming back up the steps.

"Y-you're still here?!" Eric stammered.

Rose scowled. "I'm telling on you, you big bully!" With that, she stomped on Ash's foot and ran into the house.

"Augh! That mini-Jessie is just as mean as the real Jessie!" Ash whined as he clutched his foot and started hopping about.

Eric punched Ash again and sent him tumbling back down the steps. "Don't talk about my sister and my mom like that, you asshole!" he shouted as he and Sam followed Rose inside.


Jessie smiled and draped her arm around James's shoulders. He'd spent the past hour getting dinner started and baking an apple pie for dessert. And now that the pie was out of the oven and cooling on the table, he was relaxing on the couch.

"Mmmmmm...that feels nice, Jess," he muttered as Jessie worked her fingers in tiny circles, giving his shoulders a gentle massage.

Jessie leaned closer and kissed him on the cheek.

James closed his eyes and melted into his wife's embrace. Just as he was about to doze off, however, Eric, Rose, and Sam raced into the living room.

"Hey, kids," Jessie said softly.

"Are you having fun playing Candy Land?" James asked as he opened his eyes again.

"Mommy! Daddy! A crazy man with a dirty face is eating our game cause he thinks it's real candy!" Rose cried.

"The dumbshit was screaming at us and calling us mini-Jessie, mini-James, and mini-Gary, too!" Eric added.

"And he wanted his Pikachu to attack us!" said Sam. "But get this! It was only a toy Pikachu!"

A fire sparked in James's green eyes as he jumped to his feet. "I think I know who this is!"

"I think I do, too!" Jessie growled.

"Don't worry! We'll take care of him!" they said in unison as they stormed out the door.

When Jessie and James went outside, they found Ash sitting on the porch. Most of the Candy Land cards had been chewed to a pulp, and now Ash was gnawing on the yellow game piece. The sight of him made their blood boil.

"Augh! Whoever made these cookies baked them too long!" Ash whined. "I'm not so sure I wanna eat their apple pie now...."

Jessie clenched her fists and gritted her teeth again. "Hey, twerp!" she shouted.

Ash scowled when he looked up and saw Jessie and James standing over him. "TEAM ROCKET!!!" he screamed. "WHAT DO YOU LOSERS WANT?!"

"We want to know why you threatened our kids and ate their game!" came James's reply.

"And then we want you to get the hell out of here!" Jessie added.

"Yeah! Don't you remember the restraining order?!" said James. "You're not allowed within a hundred feet of us or our children, and you're sure as hell not allowed on our property!"

Suddenly, Miya came onto the porch and joined her parents. "Mom? Dad? What's going on out here?" she asked.

"Miya, get back inside!" Jessie cried.

"Listen to your mother! We'll explain later!" James told her.

Miya nodded and went back into the house, but she remained at the door so that she could continue to watch the exchange.

"I'm hungry!" Ash whined as he picked up the Peppermint Stick Forest card and shoved it into his mouth. "I had this game when I was a kid, but it didn't taste like candy, so I wanted to see if this one tasted any better, but it doesn't. Whoever made this isn't a very good cook...."

Jessie clutched her head in her hands. "Urgh! This twerp's stupidity is giving me a migraine!"

"....But then some mini-James beat me up, and a mini-Jessie stomped on my foot, and that wasn't very nice of them, but I guess they did it because they're Team Rocket just like you, and they're evil, and that mini-Gary is a jerk just like the real Gary, and...."

"Ugh! Now I'm getting a migraine, too!" James groaned.

"....So, can I have some apple pie, or something?" Ash asked. "This candy wasn't very good...."

"Oh, I can NOT fucking believe this!" Jessie growled. "You've got a lot of nerve, Ketchum!"

Ash blinked. "....And I saw some apple trees near the house. Can I have some of those apples, too?"

James balled his hand into a fist and held it up to Ash's nose. "If you were starving to death, I wouldn't even give you the Rapidash manure I use to fertilize my garden! Now, get the fuck out of here before we throw you out!"

"Does this mean I can't have anything to eat?" he asked.

Unable to control her temper any longer, Jessie brought out her mallet and struck Ash in the face with it. The force sent him reeling, and he tumbled down the porch steps a third time. "That's exactly what it means!" she said coldly.

As she and James turned away and prepared to go inside, Ash raced up the steps again.


When Miya heard this, she raced back outside and stood protectively in front of her parents. "NO!!!" she cried.

James grabbed Miya by the shoulders and pulled her away from Ash. "Stay away from him, angel," he said softly. "He's not going to hurt me or your mother, but we don't want him anywhere near you."

Miya nodded and put her arms around her father.

As Ash hurled his stuffed Pikachu at the three of them and screamed at it to Thundershock them again, Jessie brought up her right hand and caught it. A wicked grin made its way across her lips as she ripped the head off of the toy and threw it back at him.

The color drained from Ash's face. " killed it!" he said in disbelief. He knelt down and began stuffing the polyester fiber-fill back into his decapitated doll. "You killed my Pikachu!"

Miya's blue-green eyes widened. "Oh, my god! Is this guy retarded, or something?!"

"You have no idea," Jessie and James muttered.

Ash scowled up at them. "Grrr! You're just as bad as Gary!" he shouted. "Last week, I challenged him to a battle, and he ran over my Bayleef with his car!"

Jessie and James exchanged looks and snickered as they recalled the horror-story Gary had told them the previous week. He'd been driving Sam to school, and when he'd passed the Ketchum house, Ash had raced outside and thrown his plush Bayleef into the the path of his car. Since Gary didn't want to cause an accident by swerving to avoid a toy, he'd simply driven over it, much to the dismay of Ash.


"Ooohhh, we're so scared!" Jessie said sarcastically.

As Ash continued to rant about how he was going to make them all pay for "killing his pokemon," James grabbed him by the neck and lifted him from the ground.

"Hey! Let go of me!" he croaked.

"Listen, you stupid asshole," James sneered. "I already knocked half your teeth down your throat when you sicced your Pikachu on Jessie while she was pregnant with Miya -- I'll be happy to relieve you of the rest of them if you don't shut the hell up and get out of here!" He tightened his grip on Ash's throat before slamming him to the ground. "Now hit the road! And if you ever show your ugly face around here or threaten my family again, YOU'RE the one that's going to pay!"

Ash staggered back to his feet and scowled again. "Stupid Team Rocket! I'LL SHOW YOU!!!!!" he screamed.

As he began charging them once more, James whistled, and an orange and gold blur intercepted Ash and knocked him over before he could get back up the porch steps. When Ash's vision came back into focus, he saw an enormous Arcanine standing over him.

"Grrr! Where did you get that Arcanine, Team Rocket?!" Ash demanded. "I bet you STOLE it!!! I'm gonna call Officer Jenny!!! You'll be sorry!!!"

James rolled his eyes. "Growly, you know what to do."

Growly bared his teeth at Ash and began to snarl. Suddenly, however, the dog yelped and jumped backwards.

"Oh, no!!!" Ash whined as he jumped to his feet and began to back away. "Now my mom is gonna yell at me to change my underwear again!"

Miya covered her mouth with her hand. "Did he just shit his pants?!" she gasped.

"Wouldn't surprise me," Jessie snickered.

Miya wrinkled her nose. "That's disgusting!"

"That's Ash," James replied. "The stench probably startled poor Growly."

"I hope you're happy, Team Rocket!" Ash shouted. "If my mom makes me take a bath, it's all your fault!"

"Then I'd say we just did the world a favor!" James countered. Then, to his pokemon, "Growly, why don't you kill some of his germs with your Fire Blast?"

"Arrrccc!" Growly barked. As he exhaled a jet of flame, Ash turned tail and ran.

"AUGH!!! This isn't faaaiiirrr!!!" Ash whined as he disappeared over the hill and back into the forest.

"Well, that was...disturbing," Jessie remarked once he was gone.

"I'll say," James agreed. He gave his daughter another hug. "Are you okay, Miya?"

"I'm fine, daddy," she replied, returning his embrace. "What about you and mom?"

"We're fine too, angel," Jessie told her.

"What was that guy's problem anyway?" Miya asked.

"He's a very mean and stupid person, dat's what."

Jessie and James looked and saw Meowth standing behind them.

"I heard screamin' and came downstairs ta see what was goin' on," he told them. "Looks like I missed all the fun."

"Yeah. Fun," James grumbled.

"How are Eric, Rose, and Sam?" Jessie queried. "They were pretty upset when he showed up."

"Dey're pissed dat Ash ruined dere game, and dey're shocked by how fuckin' stupid he is, but other den dat, dey're okay," Meowth told her.

"I'm shocked, too," James admitted. He winced as he looked down at what was left of Candy Land. In addition to the cards that had been chewed up, all of the game pieces had bite marks on them. "I knew that twerp was an idiot, but...goddamn!"

Jessie sighed. "Looks like we'll have to buy a new Candy Land game for the kids -- I don't want them touching this thing again."

"Me either," James agreed. He picked up the game board and put it back into the box. Then, he used the lid to scrape all of the chewed up cards and game pieces in so that he wouldn't have to touch them with his hands. "This is absolutely revolting."

Once he cleaned up the game, James took it to the garbage can, and Jessie and Meowth poured disinfectant cleaner on the porch where Ash had been and hosed it off.

"Dere. Dat oughtta get rid of the twerp germs," Meowth laughed as he turned off the hose.

"One can only hope," James remarked. "Now let's get ourselves cleaned up."

Jessie nodded. "Yeah. And after that, I think we all need a little rest and some nice, hot tea."

"Not ta mention a healthy dose a Tylenol," Meowth added. "I wasn't even out here, and dat twerp's stupidity gave me a headache! I can only imagine how youse guys feel!"

James nodded. "Yes, and I have another phone call to make. I think Gary and Arwen will just love hearing about this!"

"No kiddin'!" Meowth snickered.

When Jessie, James, Miya, and Meowth went back inside, they saw Charms and Wobbuffet talking to Eric, Rose, and Sam. The three of them were giggling at the pokemons' antics, but the tear stains on their cheeks and the dull, glassy sheen in their eyes showed that they'd been crying.

"Hey, kids! Yer mom and dad got rid a the bad man, just like I said dey would!" Meowth announced.

This made the children smile again.

After the four of them washed their hands and faces, James went to the kitchen to prepare some tea. Meanwhile, Jessie took another game from the closet and handed it to Eric, Rose, and Sam.

"Here you go. Why don't you play Chutes and Ladders for awhile?" she suggested.

The three children nodded as they took the game from her and began setting up the board.

"Now play quietly," Jessie continued. "The bad man gave all of us a headache, so we're not feeling well."

Rose nodded. "Okay, mommy."

"We promise," Eric said softly.

"Yeah. We'll be good, Mrs. Woodson," said Sam.

Once the children had become engrossed in their new game, James returned from the kitchen with four mugs of hot tea and a bottle of Tylenol. After they each took a mug and a couple of pills, James seated himself on the couch next to Jessie, and Miya nestled between them. Then, he picked up the phone and dialed Gary and Arwen's number.


Gary placed a hand on his forehead and sighed. "Oh, shit...."

"What's the matter, Gary?" Arwen asked when she saw her husband reaching for the bottle of Tylenol that was on the table.

"I just got off the phone with Jessie and James," came his reply. "Apparently, when Ash wandered off this morning, he ended up at their place. Eric and Rose were on the porch, playing Candy Land with Sam when he showed up...."

"Uh, oh," Arwen muttered.

"....And when Ash saw the kids, he started screaming at them, calling them mini-Gary, mini-James, and mini-Jessie, and he took the game away from them!" he continued.

Once Gary had taken a drink of water and swallowed a couple of Tylenol capsules, Arwen took the bottle from him and did the same. "Oh, for godsake! Why would a grown man get so worked up over a little kids' game?!" she asked. "I swear, he's so competitive!"

"That's the thing -- it wasn't one of his weird competition issues. Not this time, anyway," he told her. "He thought the game pieces were real candy, and he was trying to eat them!"

Arwen's dove-gray eyes widened.

Gary shook his head. "Jeez, I know he ate his toys and games and stuff when he was a little kid, but...."

"You know, hon, if everybody else in Pallet weren't so normal, I'd be worried about some sort of contamination in the water supply," Arwen sighed.

Gary facefaulted. "Yeah, I know."


"Jesus Christ on a motorcycle," James grumbled as he hung up the phone.

"The nightmare never ends," Jessie sighed.

"What's goin' on?" Meowth asked as he took another sip of his green tea.

"Apparently, the Candy Land incident wasn't Ash's only act of stupidity today," James replied. "First thing this morning, he broke into Gary and Arwen's house, screamed at them about wanting to battle in their gym, and tried to take their breakfast!"

Meowth began choking on his tea when he heard this.

"I guess he wandered out of town and ended up here after Gary and Arwen threw him out," Jessie continued as she reached over and patted Meowth on the back. "I swear, that twerp is more of a menace to society than we ever were, even in our Team Rocket days!"

"No shit!" Meowth agreed once he'd finished coughing.

"I feel sorry for Delia, having to put up with Ash all the time, but she needs to keep him under control!" James snapped.

"That's for damn sure!" Jessie agreed.

"I win!"

Jessie, James, Miya, and Meowth looked and saw Eric and Sam clapping as Rose moved her game piece up the final ladder to the finish.

"Good job, Rose!" Eric praised her.

"You did great!" said Sam.

Jessie smiled. "You kids enjoying your game?" she asked.

Rose nodded. "Yeah! And guess what! Every time one of us got near the big ladder where you rescue the kitty from the tree branches, Charms messed with the spinner to make sure we landed on that square!"

The kitten grinned sheepishly.

"We got to play three times cause we always landed on the big ladder, and all three of us won!" said Sam. "It was fun!"

"Yeah, it was. But can we go back outside now? Please?" Eric asked.

Jessie and James exchanged dubious looks.

"I don't see why not!" Meowth replied.

"Meowth, how could you?!" Jessie snapped.

"What makes you think it'd be okay for the kids to go back outside?!" James demanded.

Meowth looked up at his two friends. He could tell from the expression on their faces what they'd just been thinking about. "I'm sorry -- I didn't think it'd be a big deal," he said. "It ain't like the twerp is still lurkin' out dere."

"Yeah, but still...." James grumbled.

"It was an isolated incident," Meowth assured them. "Besides, yer pokemon are out dere, and dey ain't gonna let anything happen to the kids -- ya know ol' Growly'll Fire Blast his ass ta Kingdom Come if he shows up again! Quit bein' so overprotective!"

Jessie closed her eyes and sighed. Then, she looked back at the three children. "Okay. You can go outside to play for awhile," she said. "But you have to stay in the yard, and if you do see a stranger or somebody who's not supposed to be here, then come back inside immediately and tell us!"

"Yes, ma'am!" the three children said in unison.

James nodded. "And keep Growly with you! Tell him that I want him to keep an eye on you!"

"Yessir!" they said again.

"Now play nicely, and have fun!" Jessie told them.

"We will, mom," Eric promised.

"And be careful," James added.

"Okay, daddy!" Rose replied.

Sam grabbed his backpack and headed for the door. "Come on, guys! I'll show you my new toy!"

"All right!" Eric and Rose cheered as they followed him outside.

Jessie and James looked out the window and watched for a moment as the children ran through the yard. Once they were sure that everything would be okay, they nodded approvingly and turned their attention back to Meowth and Wobbuffet, who were now watching their DVD of Dogma.

"Heh. I see you had ulterior motives in wanting the children to go outside," Jessie remarked.

"C'mon, ya can't expect us ta watch dis movie with little kids in the room!" Meowth replied.

Well, we could...but I don't think Jess and Jim would be too happy about it, said Wobbuffet. Though today's encounter with ol' Ashy-boy kinda makes the Shit Demon look mild by comparison!

"You're right on both counts," James agreed. "I just wish you'd waited until later to watch it."

"So the kids wouldn't hafta go outside?" Meowth asked.

"Yes...but did it ever occur to you that James and I might want to watch it, too?" came Jessie's reply.

Wobbuffet patted the couch cushions. Well, what's stopping you?

"We'd love to, but I think James and I need to take a nap before Gary and Arwen get here," she said. "Even with a healthy dose of green tea and Tylenol, these headaches are still killing us!"

Meowth frowned. "Yeah. Ash-induced stupidity migraines are the worst."

"Don't worry about it -- we'll watch the movie with you some other time," James told him. "But in the meantime, can you do me a favor?"

"Sure thing, Jimmy! Whaddaya need?"

"I've got the pork roast steaming, and I need you to check on it every thirty minutes or so and make sure it doesn't burn or dry out," he said. "If the liquid starts getting low, add more apple juice, and if I'm not awake by five thirty, come and get me up."

"No problem!" Meowth replied. "Youse guys just have a nice nap."

James smiled at him. "Thanks. And you guys enjoy your movie."

"Oh, we will!" Meowth said as Jessie and James headed upstairs. "We will...."


"So, what's this new toy you've got?" Rose asked.

Sam grinned at his two friends and produced a boomerang from his backpack.

"Whoa! That's so cool!" Eric exclaimed. "Where'd you get it?"

"My grandma and grandpa Oak went on a trip to Australia a few weeks ago, and they brought this back for me," Sam explained. "Grandma says the Aborigines used to use it as a hunting weapon cause it comes back if you don't hit anything when you throw it."

Rose's eyes widened. "Isn't it dangerous?"

"Not if you know how to use it," Sam told her. "Grandpa taught me how to throw it so it comes back. Check this out!" With that, he flicked his wrist and sent the boomerang flying. A moment later, it reversed directions and returned to his hand.

Rose clapped her hands and squealed with delight. "That looks like fun! Can I try? Please?"

"Sure!" Sam replied.

Rose smiled as she took the boomerang from him. When she gave it a toss, it glided through the air for a moment, but instead of coming back to her, it did a nose-dive and crashed into the grass. "Aw, man!" she grumbled.

"Don't worry -- that happened to me, too," Sam said reassuringly. "Grandpa told me it's all in the wrist. I'll show you...."

Eric smiled wistfully as he watched Sam and Rose going to fetch the boomerang. Then, he turned to Growly. "Sam is so lucky," he muttered, stroking the Arcanine's soft, golden mane.

Growly licked Eric's cheek and nuzzled against him.

"His grandma and grandpa Oak always bring him cool stuff when they get home from their trips, and his grandma and grandpa Grey are always coming from Florando to visit him, too," he continued. "It must be nice to have grandparents like that. Sometimes I wish grandma and grandpa Rochester were alive -- from what mom told us, they sounded really great. I wish I could've known them. And sometimes, I wish...." His voice trailed off for a moment. "I...I'd better not say anymore -- mom says that if I tell anybody what I wish for, then it won't come true."

Growly nodded and licked Eric again. "Arrrc," he said softly.

After demonstrating how to use the boomerang, Sam gave it back to Rose so that she could try again. Her first few attempts were unsuccessful, but on her seventh throw, it finally came back to her.

"All right!" Rose cheered as she caught it in her hand.

"Hey, you're pretty good!" Sam remarked. "It took me an hour before I got it right!"

Rose blushed. Then, she turned to her brother. "You wanna try, Eric? It's really fun!"

Eric smiled again as he joined his sister and his friend. "Of course!"

"You don't hafta throw it hard -- like I told Rose, it's all in the wrist," Sam said as he handed the boomerang to him.

Eric nodded and tossed the boomerang the way he'd seen Sam and Rose do it. Instead of coming back to him, however, it crash-landed.

"Guess I need to try again!" he remarked as he ran to fetch the boomerang. "This isn't as easy as it looks!"

"Yeah, they don't automatically come back, like in cartoons and video games -- real boomerangs are tricky," Sam told him.

"Well, I'll get it this time!" Eric replied. But when he tossed the boomerang a second time, a gust of wind came from the north and blew it into the forest.

"Uh, oh," Rose muttered as she watched the boomerang disappear behind the treeline.

Sam blushed. "Aw, man! I completely forgot!"

"Forgot what?" Eric asked.

"Grandpa told me that it doesn't come back if you throw it left-handed. I dunno why -- it just doesn't work left-handed for some reason," Sam explained.

Eric facefaulted. "Great. I wish you'd told me that before I lost your boomerang!"

Sam patted him on the shoulder. "Sorry. I forgot you're a lefty."

"Well, what're we gonna do now?" Rose asked.

"I hafta go and find it, of course!" came Eric's reply.

"But it went into the woods! Mommy and daddy said we're not allowed to leave the yard!" Rose reminded him.

"I know, but they also say that we're supposed to respect other peoples' property!" he argued. "Do you really think they'd be happy if they knew that I lost Sam's toy and didn't even try to find it?"

"Don't worry about it," Sam told him. "It's kinda my fault for not telling you."

"Yeah! Why don't we just go back inside and get mommy and daddy or uncle Meowth and uncle Wobby to help us look for it?" Rose suggested.

"Cause I don't wanna bug them, that's why!" Eric countered. "It probably just went over the fence, or something...."

Sam and Rose exchanged looks.

"What are you so worried about?" he asked. "It's not like Ash is still here! Besides, nothing'll happen if I take Growly with me!"

"I guess," Sam muttered.

"I'll get your boomerang back, Sam. And if I run into that guy again, Growly and I will clobber him!" Eric promised. "Just don't tell mom and dad that I did this, okay?"

Rose nodded. "Okay. We won't tell on you...but we're not gonna lie to them, either! Just be careful."

Eric gave them a thumbs-up. "Don't worry -- I will." Then, stroking Growly's soft, orange fur, "Come on, Growly! Let's go!"

"Arrrrc!" Growly barked as he wagged his fluffy tail and followed Eric.

Sam and Rose frowned as they watched Eric and Growly disappearing into the woods. They knew that Eric could take care of himself and that Growly would protect him, but they didn't relish the thought of keeping a secret from Jessie and James or getting in trouble if they got caught. And in the back of her mind, Rose couldn't shake the feeling that something was going to happen to her brother.

To be Continued....

Author's Notes

Once again, I've gotta thank my friend, Shigeru1313, for all of her help with this chapter. The scene where Ash eats the Candy Land game is actually an RP we once did that I converted to prose. She also helped with some technical details (like Gary awarding the Dark Badge in his gym). The Griffin pokemon is her creation as well. And, of course, I've gotta thank her for the beautiful illustration of James with his kids! ^__^


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