New Directions

by Cori Falls


Chapter 5 -- Turnabout is Fair Play!


"Didja see the way dat girl's Dewgong took out dat Mantine?! And howzabout dat Vaporeon moppin' the floor with dat Staryu?! I can see why the Whirl Cup is such a big deal -- dis is so excitin'!"

I couldn't help but smile as I listened to Meowth recapping all of the battles we'd just watched. The cat was brimming over with so much enthusiasm, he sounded like he was going to explode!

It was the twenty-fifth of October -- the first day of the Whirl Cup preliminaries. Gary, James, Meowth, and I had left Yellow Rock Isle after breakfast this morning and taken the balloon to Red Rock Isle. There was another Team Rocket safe-house just a few miles away from Scarlet City, so we made camp there before coming to town to watch the preliminary battles. Now, the four of us were walking through a shopping plaza in Scarlet City, doing a bit of sightseeing and trying to decide on a place to eat lunch before heading back to the stadium to watch the afternoon matches.

"Yes, Meowth, we know," James chuckled. "We were there too, remember?"

"How many more preliminary battles are there going to be?" I inquired.

"Well, the actual tournament begins when the number of competitors has been narrowed down to sixty-four," Gary explained. "I heard that over two hundred and fifty trainers registered for the Whirl Cup this year, so that means there's gonna be about two rounds of preliminaries."

"Should be interestin' ta see if the twerps make it past the second round a preliminaries," Meowth remarked. "Ash lucked out in his battle, and all Misty had ta do was beat a Magikarp -- from some of the other matches I've seen, the competition's only gonna get tougher from here."

James folded his arms across his chest and scowled. "Hmmph. I think Ash should've been disqualified -- the way he got Totodile to knock his opponent over by sending his Seel crashing into him was disgraceful!" he snorted.

"Ugh. Reminds me of how Ash dislocated that kid's elbow by knocking his Arcanine into him at the fire pokemon tournament in Laurel Valley," I grumbled. "And how he's always knocking Arbok, Weezing, Wobbuffet, and Victreebel into me and James when he battles us -- it's unsportsmanlike conduct, pure and simple!"

"I know! I'm surprised the officials didn't call him on that," Gary agreed.

"Oh, well," Meowth sighed. "I guess the best we can do is root for whoever Ash and Misty's opponents are in the upcomin' round...and keep our fingers crossed dat Ash's dirty tricks'll come back ta bite him in the ass."

"I agree," said James. "But let's change the subject now -- I refuse to ruin this day with talk of the twerps." I could tell from the tone of his voice and the look in his emerald eyes that he still had a lot of anger towards Ash about what had happened to me in the Arbor Forest.

And quite frankly, so did I. Now more than ever, I was glad that James had suggested getting away from the twerps -- if we got any more grief from Ash, the temptation to beat him down again would be hard to resist, indeed.

"Good idea, James," I replied. "Why don't we go back to finding a place where we can get some lunch?"

Meowth placed a paw to his growling stomach. "Excellent suggestion, my dear Jessie!"

"Well, what are we hungry for?" Gary asked. "Anything's fine by me."

James nodded. "Me, too...just as long as it's more reasonably priced than the junk food they were selling at the stadium concession stands."

Meowth looked around at the various restaurants along this stretch of the plaza. "Lessee...dere's a pizza place, a sammich shop, take-out Chinese, some burger joints, a Taco Bell. Looks like dey got a vegetarian place, too!"

"Why don't we go for that?" I suggested. "It'll be a nice change of pace from the burgers and pizza."

"Yeah!" James, Meowth, and Gary said in unison.

As we started heading towards the restaurant, we passed by a small shop that was selling Whirl Cup souveneirs. Normally, a tourist-trap like that wouldn't have caught my attention, but in the window display, there was a golden staff topped with a large sapphire. The sapphire was perfectly round and polished to perfection, and swirling bands of gold snaked their way around the iridescent gem, holding it in place -- it was so beautiful that I couldn't help but stop in my tracks and do a double-take!

"What is it, Jess?" James asked when he saw me staring through the window.

"Check out this wand!" I replied. As I looked at it again, I saw a card that described what it was and read it aloud. "A perfect replica of the Sea Spirit Wand, used by Sea Priestess Maya during the opening and closing ceremonies of the Whirl Cup. The Sea Spirit Sapphire is an enduring symbol of the bonds between land and sea, trainer and pokemon, and all life with the Earth itself."

"Wow!" Meowth gasped.

"That's cool!" Gary remarked.

"Definitely," James agreed. "My grand-mama always used to talk about how all life is interconnected...."

I draped an arm around his shoulders. "That makes it even cooler! I'm so glad I saw this."

James gave me a sidelong glance and smiled. "Would you like it?"

I arched an eyebrow.

His smile widened as he brought out his wallet. "Just say the word, and it's yours!"

"It would be nice to have," I admitted.


"But you already bought me that tiara," I quickly added.

"And this wand will go perfectly with it!" he exclaimed.

"Yes, it would, but my point is, you already spent a fortune on me yesterday," I argued. "I don't really need the wand, and I told you that I didn't want you doing this kind of thing on a regular basis."

"That's true -- I promised only to spend lots of money on you on special occasions. But, hey, the beginning of the Whirl Cup is a special occasion, isn't it?" he countered.

"Heh. Every day with Jess is a special occasion ta you, Jimbo!" Meowth snickered.

Gary said nothing, just smiled.

I placed a hand to my temple and sighed.

James took my hand in his and brought it to his lips. "Tell you what -- if it's really expensive like the tiara, then I won't waste my money on it. But if it's under a hundred dollars, then let me get it for you. Please?"

I looked back at the Sea Spirit, then at James. "Make it seventy-five, and you've got a deal," I told him.

His emerald eyes glittered. "Fair enough!"

With that, he led me into the shop, and Meowth and Gary followed.

Luckily for James, the replica of the Sea Spirit was only thirty dollars. Truth be told, that was still a lot more than I'd wanted him to pay, but I had to admit that it was a spectacular wand. The gold part was only gold-plating on a more durable metal, and the gem was only an imitation sapphire, but the craftsmanship was exquisite. When I held that wand in my hands, I felt beautiful and majestic, like a queen...and James, Meowth, and Gary told me as much!

"Now, aren't you glad you let me buy it for you?" James said as we left the shop.

I admired his purchase a moment longer before looking back at him. "Yeah...yeah, I guess so. I still think we should save our money for more practical things, though."

James wrapped an arm around my waist and pulled me into him. "I know, but I just couldn't resist getting you another present today, honey. Beautiful people deserve to have beautiful things."

I returned his embrace and smiled. "Then, I guess we deserve each other!"

"Definitely!" he agreed.

As James ran his fingers through my hair and lowered his lips to mine, I suddenly heard Meowth clearing his throat. "Ahem! I hate ta break up dis little love-fest, but I'd kinda like ta have lunch sometime today!"

The two of us pulled apart and blushed.

"Sorry," the cat said. "But I'm starvin'!"

"That's alright, Meowth," James told him. He placed a hand to his stomach and blushed more brightly than ever.

"Yeah! We're all hungry," I chuckled, finishing the thought for him.

Meowth smiled. "Den whadda we waitin' for? Let's go get some grub!"

Gary, James, and I nodded in agreement, and the four of us continued on our way.

Ten minutes later, we were sitting at a table in the restaurant, which was called Cafe Green. A waiter had already been by to take our orders, and now, we were taking in the atmosphere while we waited for our food. With beautiful teak wood floors, tapestries adorning the walls, and lush potted plants as far as the eye could see, the place looked a little like an Arabian palace.

"Wow! This place is gorgeous!" I breathed as I admired our surroundings.

Gary nodded. "Yeah! For a minute, I thought it was gonna be too fancy, but everything is so reasonably priced," he agreed.

Suddenly, I felt Meowth giving me a playful jab in the ribs. "Hey, Jess, if you and Jim was wearin' yer Eissej and Mr. Semaj disguises, you'd fit right in!"

Gary raised an eyebrow. "Eissej and Mr. Semaj?"

"Jessie and I have a pair of matching Arabian disguises," James explained. "We wore them and used the aliases, Eissej and Mr. Semaj -- which were just our names spelled backwards -- when we entered a grass pokemon tournament last July."

"Yeah?" Gary prompted.

James's expression darkened. "This was about a month before Jessie got her Sunflora, so she dressed Meowth up like one so that she'd be able to enter the tournament with me," he continued. "We were hoping to win some Leaf Stones, and we made it through our first round matches, but in the second round, Victreebel and I were defeated by some kid with a Skiploom, and Jessie and Meowth had to face Ash and his Bulbasaur...."

"....And let me guess," Gary interjected. "Somehow, Ash found out who you really were, spazzed out, and blasted you off?"

"Have we told you dis story before?" Meowth asked.

"No, but the second you mentioned that Ash was there, I was able to figure it out," came his reply.

"Well, you guessed right," I sighed. "Ash threw a shit-fit when Bulbasaur's Razor Leaf slashed off Meowth's Sunflora disguise, and he blasted the three of us out of the arena."

Gary rolled his eyes. "Jeez, no wonder you guys were so reluctant to enter that fire pokemon tournament in Laurel Valley -- I didn't know Ash had gotten you kicked out of regional competitions before. That kid has problems."

"That's putting it mildly," James and I grumbled in unison.

"Anyway, despite Ash bein' his usual asshole self, dis story ends on a high note," Meowth said, getting back to the original subject. "Dat night, Jess and Jim put dere disguises back on, and Jessie fed grapes ta James and belly-danced for him. I left before things got too hot and heavy, but let's just say the two of 'em had a great time."

Gary snickered, but quickly became serious again. "Well, I'm glad you guys ended up having fun, but there's still no excuse for what Ash did to you. I've really gotta wonder how he's made it so far with such sloppy training and such a shitty attitude."

"Dumb luck, I'm guessing," James remarked.

"Yeah. With emphasis on the dumb!" I chimed in.

After a moment, the waiter returned and brought us our food and drinks.

"Well, I said it once before, and I'll say it again," James continued as he opened his oat bran pita pocket and arranged his falafel patty, lettuce, tomatoes, and hummus inside of it. "Let's not ruin this day by dwelling on the twerp."

I ate a spoonful of my vegetable and curry couscous. "I agree. There are far more pleasant things we can be talking about."

"Yeah! Like how great dis food is!" Meowth suggested. He blew on a spoonful of his red bean and vegetable chili to cool it before taking a taste.

Gary took a bite of his spinach pie and nodded. "That's for sure. I'm really glad we came here for lunch -- it's a nice change of pace."

"Heh. Just bein' able ta eat on a regular basis is a nice change a pace for us!" Meowth remarked as he sampled the jasmine rice that had come with his chili.

"Well, going hungry isn't going to be a problem anymore, Meowth," James reminded him. "We have a much bigger food budget now that we don't have to put so much of our money into savings."

"Thank goodness!" the cat sighed.

Once the four of us finished our lunch, the waiter returned to refill our drinks, and we all ordered some fruit smoothies for dessert. The cool, creamy strawberry shakes were the perfect way to end our meal!

"That was delicious," I said as I dabbed my lips with a napkin.

"It sure was," James concurred, bringing out his wallet. "I'm going to have to remember some of these dishes so that I can make them myself someday!"

Meowth patted his stomach. "Now, dat'll be somethin' ta look forward to!" He covered his mouth with his paw and burped. "'Scuse me!"

"You're excused," Gary chuckled. Then, to me and James, "And you'll have to excuse me as well. I saw a pay phone in the vestibule -- I want to call my grandpa and let him know that I made it to Scarlet City. I think he'd like to know how the Whirl Cup preliminaries are going, too."

"I'm sure he would," James told him.

"Go ahead and give him a call, Gary," I replied. "We can wait awhile."

"Thanks, guys," he said as he got up from the table. "I'll just be a few minutes."

"No prob!" Meowth called after him.

Once he was gone, James, Meowth, and I went into the bathrooms so that we could brush our teeth and hair and so that I could freshen my make-up. When we got back to the table, Gary was still away.

Meowth looked over towards the vestibule, but his view was blocked by a potted palm tree. "Whaddaya think's takin' him so long?" he asked.

"Don't worry about it, Meowth -- he and his grandpa are probably just chatting," James assured him. "We still have another twenty minutes until the afternoon matches start."

"And even if we are a little late, it doesn't matter," I added. "It's not like anybody we care about is competing, so we can arrive at the stadium or leave whenever we want."

At that moment, Gary returned. All of the color had drained from his face, and he looked like he was on the verge of tears.

I reached up and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Gary, what's wrong?" I asked.

"I-it's grandpa," he replied in a shaky voice. "He's been hurt...."

"Oh, no!" James and I gasped.

"What happened to him?" Meowth queried.

Gary's brow furrowed. "When Ash registered for the Whirl Cup, he forgot that Totodile was the only water pokemon he had with him, so he called grandpa this morning and got his Kingler. Problem was, he already had six pokemon in his line-up, so he had to send one of his pokemon to grandpa before he could get Kingler. And the pokemon he sent to the lab was Bayleef...."

James, Meowth, and I cringed as we put two and two together. Aside from Pikachu, Bayleef was Ash's most aggressive pokemon.

"....The stupid thing went apeshit when she arrived at the lab!" Gary went on. "She broke a bunch of equipment, and she's been attacking grandpa! He was all bruised and beaten up when he answered the phone, and I even saw Bayleef hit him with a Tackle attack and knock him across the room while I was trying to talk to him!"

James buried his face in his hands.

"That Bayleef is psycho!" I grumbled.

"Yeah, well whaddaya expect from a pokemon dat's madly in love with Ash?" Meowth snorted.

Gary shuddered. "Anyway, I need to go back to Pallet so I can get that damn thing under control and take care of my grandpa," he continued. "Mom and dad are away on another dig, May is at university this week, and Tracey sure as hell hasn't been any help -- as soon as Bayleef went on her rampage, he locked himself in his room and hasn't come out!"

"That fucking coward," James growled.

"I'm sorry," Gary muttered. "I wish I could stay here and watch the rest of the Whirl Cup with you, but...."

"It's okay," I assured him. "We wish you could stay too, but your family comes first."

"Yes. We just hope your grandpa will be okay," James added.

Gary nodded and blinked back the tears in his eyes. "I...I guess I should go back to the cabin and get my stuff," he said at length.

I got to my feet and gave him a hug. "We'll come with you."

"Thanks, guys," he sniffled.


After James paid the bill, the four of us left the restaurant and returned to the cabin. Once Gary packed all of his belongings, he brought out Smaug so that he could fly home as quickly as possible. He promised to call us when he got home and to keep us updated on how Professor Oak was faring, and we reminded him that our thoughts and well-wishes were with him and his family.

The rest of the afternoon passed slowly and uneventfully. Now that Gary was gone, James, Meowth, and I didn't feel like going back to Scarlet City to watch the rest of the first round preliminary matches. Besides, we had no idea how long it would take Smaug to fly from the Whirl Islands to Pallet, and we wanted to be near the phone when Gary called us.

That evening, James decided to lighten the mood by making calzones for dinner and inviting us to help him. While he mixed the tomato sauce and chopped the green peppers and mushrooms, Meowth grated the cheese, and I kneaded the dough. Then, we watched James roll the dough out, top it like a pizza, and fold it into a pocket. I'll admit that helping James in the kitchen and thinking about how delicious dinner was going to be eased my troubled mind for awhile, but deep down inside, I was still worried about Gary and Professor Oak, and I could tell from the look in James and Meowth's eyes that they were, too.

Luckily, we weren't left worrying for long.

While the calzones were baking, the phone rang. The three of us scrambled to answer it, and when we switched on the vid-screen, we saw Gary on the other end. His spiky hair was sticking out in more directions than usual, and there were dark circles under his eyes, but he was smiling. "Hey, guys," he said in a weary voice.

"Hey, Gary," Meowth replied, placing his paw to the vid-screen. "Howya doin'?"

"I'm whipped," he told us. "Smaug flew as fast as he could, and I got home about an hour ago. I would've called sooner, but it took me awhile to catch Bayleef and take her out to the grass pokemon field. Poor grandpa had been trying to get her outside all day, but whenever he went anywhere near her, she'd go nuts all over again and tackle him. She tried to pull that shit with me too, but when she charged me, I called out Blaze and got him to knock her out with a Flamethrower attack."

James nodded approvingly. "Good for Blaze. Give him some extra dog biscuits for us."

"Will do," Gary promised. "Anyway, once I got Bayleef out of the lab, I revived her with some healing potion...and she went right back on the rampage. As far as I know, she's still raising hell, but at least now it's outside, where she won't hurt anybody. And if she attacks any of the pokemon out there, then they won't hesitate to fight back and put her in line."

"Glad ta hear it," said Meowth.

"How's your grandpa?" I asked.

Gary smiled again. "He's a little shaken up, and he's got some bruises from where Bayleef tackled him and knocked him down, but other than that, he's fine."

"Thank goodness," James, Meowth, and I sighed.

"He's taking a hot shower right now, and I'm heating up some soup for him," Gary continued. "I figured I'd give you a call now that things are back under control. Didn't want you to worry."

"And we appreciate it," I said.

Gary smoothed back his hair and placed a hand to his temple. "I'm probably gonna be here for a few days. Bayleef made one hell of a mess in the lab, and it looks like I'll be cleaning it up all by myself -- I'm not counting on any help from Tracey, and I want grandpa to take it easy until he's feeling better."

"I wish there were something we could do to help," James told him.

"Just knowing that you're here to listen means a lot," Gary replied. "If you want to do something for me, then don't worry about me, and don't let this stop you from enjoying the rest of the Whirl Cup." He winked at us. "I'm gonna be relying on you for updates since I'm not there to see it myself!"

"Alright. We'll be sure ta keep ya posted," Meowth told him.

"Well, I'd better get going -- the soup is almost done," Gary said.

James cast a quick glance at the oven timer. "Our dinner is almost ready, too."

"I'll let you go, then. Bye, guys. Have fun."

"We'll try," Meowth sighed.

"Thanks for calling and letting us know that you and your grandpa are okay," said James. "It's a big relief."

"Good-bye, Gary. Take care," I told him.

"You, too!" he replied.

After hanging up the phone, the three of us exchanged looks.

"Well, I'm glad Professor Oak wasn't seriously hurt," James commented.

I nodded. "Me, too...but still, Ash should've trained his damn pokemon better. It's bad enough that they're always attacking us, but to have them hurting a nice old man is just too much!"

"Yeah! And it's totally unfair ta Gary, too!" Meowth growled. "He's missin' out on the Whirl Cup cuz Ash is so irresponsible...and cuz Tracey is such a cowardly little pussy! I hope Gary kicks dat lardo's ass good and proper while he's dere! And Ash better hope he don't run into us anytime soon -- I'm still pissed about what he did ta Jess in the Arbor Forest, and now I wanna kick his ass all over again for what happened ta Professor Oak!"

James's expression soured. "Get in line," he muttered, clenching his fist.

When he said this, I looked into his green eyes and saw the same angry light that had been there when we'd been discussing the twerp earlier. And truth be told, I felt every bit as angry as he looked. To say that Ash had really been trying our patience lately would be an understatement -- I could only imagine how bad it would be if we were still following him!

Suddenly, the oven timer went off and brought us from our brooding. As James took out the calzones and put them on plates so that they could cool, their warm spicy aroma filled the cabin and eased our troubled minds again.

Yet, as wonderful as the prospect of a delicious dinner was, it was only a temporary distraction from our dilemma. When the three of us started eating, the dark cloud descended on us once more.

Halfway through his first calzone, James set down his fork and closed his eyes.

"What is it, sweetie?" I asked. It wasn't like James to leave a meal unfinished.

"I've been doing some more thinking about what's been happening," came his reply.

"We all have," I told him.

James shook his head. "Not just the incident at Professor Oak's lab -- I've been thinking about other things, too."

"What kinda things?" Meowth prompted.

"This morning, I saw an article in the paper that some woman who lives in Ogi City -- I think her name is Luca -- recovered an artifact called the Silver Wing from her great-grandfather's sunken ship yesterday," he began. "In the article, she said three kids had tried to help her find the Silver Wing last week, but every time they got near the ship, they were attacked by a Mantine and a bunch of Remoraid, and they had to give up. Luca finally had to rent a submarine and hire a professional diving team to get past all of the pokemon...."

I raised an eyebrow. I had no idea what this had to do with Gary or Bayleef's attack on Professor Oak, but I did know that James was trying to make some kind of point. I was sure it would all make sense by the time he was done explaining. "Uh, huh? Go on."

"And then, when we were at the preliminaries this morning, one of the first trainers to be eliminated was a kid with an Octillery," he continued.

"Uh, what does all of dis hafta do with Gary?" Meowth asked. "Ya ain't makin' any sense, James!"

James smirked. "I was just getting to the point before you interrupted me," he said. "Jeez, you're even more impatient than Jessie!"

I reached over and gave him a playful shove.

James smiled at me, but his mood quickly became serious again as he continued. "I had visions of both of these occurances...only the visions that grand-mama showed me were different. In my dream, the Mantine and Remoraid attacked us because we were trying to get the Silver Wing from the sunken ship...and then Pikachu blasted us out of the water with his electricity. And in my dream, we got blasted off by the twerps and that kid's Octillery tonight because we were breaking into his mansion to steal his Remoraid."

"So, that's two more bad things we've prevented by giving up on following the twerps and stealing!" I surmised.

"More than that," James corrected me. "Grand-mama also showed me a vision of the three of us getting attacked by Ash and some other kid at a Chinchou festival on Blue Point Isle, and a vision of Misty attacking us with a Corsola after we robbed a jewelry store in Megi City. And as you know, we weren't even at that Chinchou festival, and we never robbed any jewelry stores or ran afoul of the twerps while we were on Yellow Rock Isle -- we've stopped the first five things grand-mama warned me about! There are still plenty of horrible things that I saw in my dream, but I'm sure that if we keep going the way we have been, we can prevent those, too.

"And in light of what happened to Professor Oak today, I believe it's more imperative than ever that we avoid the twerps," he added. "I have a feeling that this was a warning, too. If Ash is capable of hurting somebody that he claims to like and respect, then...."

I shuddered. "Yeah. We know what he's capable of doing to people that he hates," I concluded.

"We know all too well," Meowth grumbled.

James closed his eyes again. "It all makes perfect sense -- everything that's been happening serves as more proof that we're doing the right thing. I just wish Professor Oak hadn't gotten hurt...."

I placed a hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry about it, James -- I have a feeling that if Ash keeps acting like such a sociopath, he's going to be paying the price for it before too much longer."

"I sure as hell hope so," Meowth sighed.

"You have a point," James admitted. "People may turn a blind eye when Ash attacks us, but I seriously doubt they'd condone the same thing happening to somebody like Professor Oak." A light sparked in his emerald eyes. "And you awful as it is, I think it happened for a reason. Grand-mama told me that on the day you were captured by Vicious, my spell was meant to work differently than I'd planned and that you were meant to be left at Ash's mercy so that I could see the extent of his selfishness and cruelty firsthand -- maybe Professor Oak getting hurt today was meant to happen so that everybody else can see how dangerous Ash is."

I pondered this for a moment. "That may very well be. I just hope this incident is an eye-opener for all those people who think Ash is so great."

"Me-owth, too," the cat concurred.

"So, let's try to put this behind us and enjoy ourselves," I told them.

Meowth nodded. "Yeah! Gary don't want us ta be upset on his account. Besides, he said his grandpa is gonna be okay!"

"Exactly," said James. "Everything that's happening -- even the bad stuff -- seems to be a sign that we're making the right choices. We should, indeed, be happy."

"You're right, James," I concurred. I folded my arms across my chest and smirked. "Ash is still getting his ass kicked again the next time we see him, though."

"Oh, yeah! Dat's a given!" Meowth laughed.

The three of us joined hands and gazed into each other's eyes. "Then, that settles it -- we're not going to let the twerp get us down, no matter what!" James resolved.

Meowth and I nodded in agreement.


After our conversation, the mood brightened considerably, and we were able to enjoy the rest of the evening. Once we finished our dinner, we cleaned up the kitchen, had some ice cream for dessert, and watched a couple of DVDs. Then, James and I took a shower and went to bed.

The next couple of days passed in a similar manner. In the mornings, James, Meowth, and I would eat breakfast and go to Scarlet City to watch some of the Whirl Cup matches. (Much to our surprise, Ash and Misty both made it through the second round of preliminaries and the first round of the Whirl Cup finals. One of them was definitely going to be eliminated in round two, though -- they were scheduled to battle each other tomorrow!)

Once the morning matches were over, we'd go out for lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon at the beach. We couldn't go swimming because the weather was getting too cold, and the whirlpools and riptides made the water too dangerous anyway, but sitting on the shore...listening to the waves and inhaling the tangy air was a relaxing experience. Being refreshed and relaxed gave James the creative boost he needed to work on more of his drawings, and I was inspired to take up pokemon dancing again. (Momma had taught me about pokemon dancing -- the art of being as one and learning to move as one with your pokemon -- when I was a little girl. I was sure that establishing such powerful bonds with her pokemon and working with them in ways that didn't involve battle was one of the things that had made her an expert trainer. I'd never practiced dancing with my own pokemon that much before, but after reading all about momma in daddy's journal, I wanted more than ever to be like her and aspire to her greatness.) And when James saw me dancing with Arbok and admired how graceful the two of us looked as we moved in perfect time with each other, he got me to teach him how to do it, too. Dancing with our pokemon did, indeed, make us feel like we were forging stronger bonds with them, and it was also a great way to get some excersise and clear our minds!

In the evenings, we'd go back to the cabin, and James would make dinner. And after dinner, we'd call Gary (or he'd call us). Since he was too busy around the lab, Gary wasn't able to watch any of the Whirl Cup on TV, so he appreciated the daily updates we gave him. He especially enjoyed hearing about the opening ceremonies and how Maya the Sea Priestess had used the real Sea Spirit wand in a magic ritual to bless the land and sea and remind the trainers of the bonds of trust and love that they share with their pokemon. And like us, he was shocked to hear that Ash and Misty actually made it into the finals...though he was also interested to hear that they were going to be battling each other in round two. And when we were finished giving Gary Whirl Cup updates, he'd tell us about everything that was happening at the lab. We were relieved to hear that Professor Oak had made a complete recovery from his injuries and that Gary was now enjoying his visit with his grandpa. We also got a laugh when Gary told us that once Tracey ventured to come out of hiding, he kicked the coward's fat ass and read him the riot act for not doing anything to help Professor Oak when Bayleef attacked. And this morning, Professor Oak sent Tracey to muck out all of the Ponyta and Rapidash stalls -- Sketchit had been shoveling shit all day!

All in all, our first few days on Red Rock Isle had been time well spent. Watching the Whirl Cup in the mornings, training our pokemon and ourselves in the afternoons, and talking with our friend in the evenings certainly beat following a stupid kid around, trying in vain to catch his stupid electric rat, and constantly getting blasted off! Things really were looking up for us!


"So, who d'ya think's gonna win?" Meowth asked as the three of us took our seats. It was the morning of the twenty-eighth, and were at the Whirl Cup stadium to watch Ash and Misty's second round match.

James closed his eyes and pondered the cat's question. "Hmmm...."

"That's a tough one," I replied. "Misty is a better trainer than Ash, but...."

"Heh. Dat ain't sayin' much, Jess -- pretty much everybody's a better trainer den Ash!" Meowth chortled.

"This is true," said James. "But let's not forget that the twerp has the dumb luck factor going for him."

"Yeah. And that's about all he's got," I remarked.

James nodded.

Meowth smirked. "So, which one are we rootin' for? It's kinda hard ta take sides when both of 'em suck, ya know!"

"You can say that again!" I laughed.

James laughed, too. "Yeah. I can't stand Misty, but at least she's not quite as bad as Ash. And at least she's a somewhat better trainer and actually specializes in water-types. I hope she beats Ash on principle."

"Me, too," I agreed. "I don't like her either, but she's definitely the lesser of the two evils."

Meowth stood up in his seat and looked through his binoculars. "Hey, I think it's startin'!"

As if on cue, the PA system came on. After a moment of feedback from the microphone, the announcer began to speak. "Our first match of the morning pits Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town against Misty Waterflower of Cerulean City! Both of these trainers had strong showings in the preliminaries and their first round battles yesterday -- this match could go either way...."

While the announcer was talking up the twerps, Wobbuffet popped out of his poke ball. Blah, blah, blah, yakkity-shmakkity! They both look like losers from here! he said.

Meowth grinned. "Oh, yeah! I think Wobbu and I will definitely get in some good hecklin' today!"

"Just try not to make a scene, guys," James told them. "The last thing we need is to be kicked out for causing trouble...and we certainly don't need the twerps finding out that we're here."

"Got it, Jimmy-boy!" Meowth replied. "I'll keep the volume down and the cussin' to a minimum."

Now, Wobbuffet was grinning, too. I, however, can say whatever I want as loud as I want since you're the only ones who can understand me! With that, he cupped his hands on either side of his mouth and shouted, BOOOOOO!!! YOU SUCK ASS, TWERP!!! YOU'RE HELLA STUPID, AND YOU CAN'T TRAIN POKEMON WORTH A SHIT!!! BURN IN HELL, ASH!!!

A few people looked at us and smiled. All they could hear was "WOB-BUF-FET!!!" and thought that he was cheering.

James, Meowth, and I laughed again. If they only knew....

Presently, the match began, and we turned our attention back to the twerps. Ash started with his Totodile, and Misty sent out her Poliwhirl. Totodile used a Water Gun attack, but Poliwhirl dodged it and scored a first round knock out with his Double Slap. Ash was losing already, but he evened the match again when he released Kingler and got him to take Poliwhirl out with his Crab Hammer attack. After calling back Poliwhirl, Misty grabbed another poke ball. Before she could send out her second pokemon, however, Psyduck emerged from her backpack and almost drowned when he fell into the water. When this happened, Ash clutched his sides and began to laugh hysterically. Misty, meanwhile, turned bright red from anger and embarrassment as she dragged Psyduck from the water and started shouting that she hadn't chosen him.

"Aw, man, Wobbu and I don't even hafta say anything ta make fools of dose twerps -- dey're doin' a fine job of it demselves! Dis is priceless!" Meowth snickered.

Yeah! They're in top twerp-form today! Wobbuffet concurred.

"Hmmm...I wonder what's going to happen now?" I muttered as I looked through my own binoculars and watched the scene unfolding.

"It's very simple, my dear Jessie," came James's reply. "Now that Misty has to use Psyduck as her second pokemon, Ash is convinced that he's going to win...which means he's going to start acting like even more of a cocky asshole than usual and make a really stupid mistake. And Misty is going to act like a whiny brat because she didn't want to use Psyduck, but the second he gets one of his psychic headaches and blows Kingler away with a Confusion attack, she'll start swooning and acting like he's her favorite pokemon."

I nodded. "Yeah, that definitely sounds like the twerps, alright."

Sure enough, when Ash was finally able to stop laughing, he commanded Kingler to use a Vice Grip attack...and when he did, he clamped down on Psyduck's head and made him unleash a Confusion attack. And when Kingler was sent blasting across the arena, he slammed right into Ash and knocked him on his ass!

"YES!!!" Meowth exclaimed.

How does it feel to get a dose of your own medicine, Ash-wipe?! Wobbuffet shouted.

"Kingler is unable to battle! Psyduck wins!" the referee announced when Kingler didn't get back up.

I couldn't help but smile as Ash's ugly face disappeared from the scoreboard, and the word "winner" appeared next to Misty's picture. And as I glanced to the side, I saw that James was smiling, too.

"You were right, sweetie," I told him.

He took my hand in his. "Can I call them, or what?"

Our smiles grew even wider than they already were as we watched Ash stomping away in disgrace while Misty did a victory dance.

This had turned out to be a fun morning! And we knew that Gary was going to love hearing all about it when we called him tonight.


After Ash and Misty's battle, James, Meowth, and I celebrated the twerp's defeat by buying some sticks of cotton candy from the concession stand. They were a little expensive, but we hadn't had cotton candy in ages, and they were so sweet and fluffy that they were worth every penny! Then, we watched the rest of the day's matches. (Round two didn't last nearly as long as round one or the preliminaries since the competition had been narrowed down to the top thirty-two trainers.) Once the sixteen second round battles were over and tomorrow's match-ups for round three were announced, we left the stadium and took our pokemon to the pokemon center for a quick check-up.

Even though the pokemon center wasn't nearly as crowded as it had been when the Whirl Cup began, Nurse Joy and her assistants still had their hands full, and she told us it would be awhile before she could get to us. While we were waiting, James got out his laptop so that he could send a quick e-mail to Gary, letting him know that Ash had lost his second round battle to Misty and that we'd give him a full account later tonight. Before he started typing the e-mail, however, he logged onto our instant messenger program, and when our buddy list window popped up, we saw that Gary was online! So, James decided to IM him instead....

Black Arachnid 2: Hi!!!
SmaugTrainer: Hey, guys! What's up? ^_^
Black Arachnid 2: We were just getting ready to e-mail you. We've got some great news!
SmaugTrainer: Oh?
Black Arachnid 2: We just got done watching the second round of the Whirl Cup. And....
Black Arachnid 2: ....ASH LOST!!!!!
SmaugTrainer: Mwa, ha, ha!!! Cool!
Black Arachnid 2: It was hilarious -- Psyduck sent Kingler flying right into Ash and knocked him over! Nice little bit of poetic justice, don't you think? >)
SmaugTrainer: Oh, yeah! Gotta love that poetic justice! >D
SmaugTrainer: Thanks for telling me!
Black Arachnid 2: No problem!
SmaugTrainer: ^_^
Black Arachnid 2: ^_^
Black Arachnid 2: Oh, how are things going at the lab?
SmaugTrainer: Everything's pretty much back to normal. I cleaned up and fixed all the stuff that Bayleef trashed, and Ash called a couple hours ago to return Kingler and get his psycho pokemon back. Good riddance! >P
Black Arachnid 2: Indeed. >P
SmaugTrainer: I didn't talk to Ash myself when he called, but I was in the lab with grandpa and overheard the conversation. Can you believe that he didn't even apologize for what his Bayleef did?! He knows that she attacked grandpa and hurt him, but all he could do was make some stupid-ass remark about how he and Bayleef are "buddies!" >__<
Black Arachnid 2: Oh, for the love of shit! That's just...ugh! I'm at a loss for words....

While James was reeling from the shock of what Gary had just told us, I took his place at the keyboard and continued the conversation.

Black Arachnid 2: Well, I'm not! (This is Jessie, btw -- I'll take over while James is collecting his thoughts! ~_^) I knew Ash was a self-centered, insensitive asshole, but oh my freakin' god, this is insane!
SmaugTrainer: I know! I'd expect this kind of shit from Ash if he was dealing with you guys or me, but not grandpa! Gawd, if this is how he treats people he likes....
Black Arachnid 2: Really. That just went way too far over the line! >(
SmaugTrainer: All I can say is, Ash had better be damn thankful that it was grandpa he talked to and not me...and he'd better hope he doesn't run into me anytime soon! I've got some choice words for him the next time I see him...none of 'em suitable for printing. And not just about what happened to grandpa, either -- I'd like to give him the cussing out of a lifetime for the way he's been treating you guys, too!
Black Arachnid 2: Yeah, he'd better be thankful he hasn't run into us, either -- the next time he tries to start anything with us, there's going to be some serious violence that'll make the battle of Helm's Deep look like a picnic in the park!
SmaugTrainer: LMAO!!! Oh, yeah! Judging from what you told me about the last Ash-kicking you dealt out, I'll totally believe it! >D
Black Arachnid 2: >D
Black Arachnid 2: Well, on a brighter subject, we're really glad that your grandpa is okay now, Gary. I know how upset James and I would be if anything bad happened to our grandparents.
SmaugTrainer: I can imagine.
Black Arachnid 2: So, when do you think you'll be able to come back?
SmaugTrainer: Well, grandpa said he's 100% again and that I can take off whenever I want, but I'd kinda like to stay here for a couple more days, just to be sure.
Black Arachnid 2: We respect that. Take as long as you need, Gary.
SmaugTrainer: Thanks! ^_^

Suddenly, Meowth seated himself between me and James. He was holding a flyer in his paws and grinning. "Hey, can I talk ta Gary, too?" he asked.

I set the computer in front of him. "Of course!"

"Thanks, Jess!" he replied. As he put down the flyer and began to type, James and I leaned closer and saw that it was an advertizement for a costume party that was going to be held at the pokemon center on Halloween.

Black Arachnid 2: Hey, Gary! Meowth here! ^_^
SmaugTrainer: Hey, Meowth! ^_^
Black Arachnid 2: I just wanted to say, I hope you're back in Scarlet City by Wednesday -- I just found out there's gonna be a Halloween party here at the pokemon center! I thought it'd be cool if we could all go together!
SmaugTrainer: Yeah! That'd be really cool! My parents usually throw a big Halloween party at our house every year, but they're not gonna be home til sometime in November. I was kinda disappointed that there wouldn't be a party this year, so this works out great! I'll definitely be back by Wednesday, Meowth! ^__^
Black Arachnid 2: Yay!!!!! *bounces up and down*
SmaugTrainer: LOL
Black Arachnid 2: So, have any idea what kinda costume you're gonna wear?
SmaugTrainer: Yeah. I've got an Arcanine costume that May made for me. I found this cool book about pokemon fortune telling awhile back, and when I looked up my birthday, I saw that my sign was Arcanine.
Black Arachnid 2: Oh, yeah! Jess, Jim, and I saw that book, too! Jessie's sign is Ninetales, and James's is Articuno! I don't have a pokemon sign since I am a pokemon, but we did find out that Jessie's favorite historical figure -- the Black Arachnid -- was a Meowth-type!
SmaugTrainer: Wow! Those all sound very appropriate! And hey, I have an Arcanine, James has an Articuno, and Jessie will have a Ninetales once she evolves her Vulpix, so that means we should have good luck!
Black Arachnid 2: Dat's right! ^__^
Black Arachnid 2: And that gives me an idea -- if you're going as an Arcanine, then Jess and Jim can probably wear their Ninetales and Articuno outfits, and I can wear my Black Ac outfit! We can all match!
SmaugTrainer: Yeah! That'd be great!

James blushed as he read the conversation. "Well...Jess will have to make a few...alterations to my Articuno costume before I can wear it in public -- it doesn't exactly leave anything to the imagination, you know."

I felt my cheeks getting hot and my heart speeding up when he said this. Our Ninetales and Articuno costumes would definitely need to be made a little more modest if we were going to wear them to a Halloween party!

Meowth took note of our expressions and laughed.

Black Arachnid 2: Oh, yeah, I forgot Jess needs to tone down James's outfit -- she made it reeeally bulgerific, if ya know what I mean! >)
SmaugTrainer: ROTFLMAO!!!!!!! XD

James and I gave the cat's whiskers a sharp tug. "That's enough, Meowth!" we snapped.

The cat laughed at us again and continued to type.

Black Arachnid 2: Heh. Maybe I shouldn't of mentioned that -- now they're all embarrassed.
SmaugTrainer: I'll bet!
SmaugTrainer: Well, I hate to do this, but I should probably get going. I promised grandpa that I'd run a few errands for him this afternoon, and then I've gotta get dinner started.
Black Arachnid 2: Okay. We'll let ya go, then.
SmaugTrainer: Bye, guys! It was great talking to you! Thanks again for telling me about Ash's loss -- that really made my day!
Black Arachnid 2: We knew it would! And it was great talking to you, too! We'll call later tonight when you're less busy.
SmaugTrainer: Sounds good! ^_^ See ya later!
Black Arachnid 2: Bye! ^_^
SmaugTrainer signed off at 1:35:07 PM.

Once we signed off and disconnected from the internet, Nurse Joy approached us. She was holding a tray with nine poke balls on it. "I checked out your pokemon, and they're all doing fine," she said as we took back the poke balls. "Keep up the great work!"

"We will!" I promised.

"Thank you, ma'am," said James.

Nurse Joy looked at the flyer Meowth was holding and smiled. "Are you going to be coming to the Halloween party?" she inquired.

"We sure are!" came Meowth's reply.

She smiled. "That's wonderful! We look forward to seeing you!"

"We're lookin' forward to it, too," Meowth said as she took her leave.


After leaving the pokemon center, James, Meowth, and I went shopping and restocked on supplies for our pokemon. Now that Vulpix, Growly, Lickitung, and Sunflora were with us, we were going through the pokemon food, nutrition supplements, grooming supplies, and such a lot faster than we used to. Once the shopping was done, we went back to Cafe Green and ordered some take-out. Then, we went to the beach, enjoyed a picnic lunch, and practiced our pokemon dancing with Arbok and Victreebel for a couple of hours.

And now, James and I were sitting together on our beach blanket, listening to the relaxing sound of the waves crashing on the shore, and feeling the cool sea breeze nip at our noses and play with our hair.

"They all look so peaceful," James remarked as he watched our pokemon. Victreebel, Lickitung, and Sunflora were sunning themselves further down the shore. Vulpix was curled up at my feet, and Growly was cuddled at her side with one of his paws draped over her as he licked the curly fur atop her head. Little Articuno was perched on Growly's back, his head tucked under one of his wings as he took a nap. Meowth and Wobbuffet were taking a nap too, and Arbok and Weezing were sitting together beneath a nearby Australian pine tree. The two poison-types were nuzzling each other and sounded as if they were muttering sweet nothings to one another, the way James and I so often do. And every now and then, their lips would meet.

I wrapped my arms around James and rested my head on his shoulder. "They certainly do," I agreed.

James looked at Arbok and Weezing for a moment, then Vulpix and Growly. Then, he smiled at me. "Remind you of anybody?"

I played with his rogue wisp of hair for a moment and returned his smile. "They certainly do!" I repeated. With that, I pressed my lips to his and brought him with me as I laid down on the blanket.

"I love you so much, Jessie," James muttered.

"I love you too, James," I sighed as I closed my eyes and savored the feeling of his lips moving from my mouth, to the hollow of my throat, to my shoulders and chest, and covering me with his warm, velvety kisses.

As James continued to kiss me, my heart began to race, and I felt the familiar stirrings of desire in my loins. I spread my legs apart and brought my knees up so that his pelvis could rub against mine when he laid himself on top of me. I wanted him so badly I was aching, and I could tell from the look in his emerald eyes that he wanted me, too.

I knew that we couldn't make love here on a public beach...but there were other ways that we could enjoy ourselves until we got back to the cabin!

One of my hands slowly caressed James's back, moving lower and lower until it was resting on his butt, and I ran my other hand through his soft blue-violet hair and gently rubbed the back of his neck. I felt a shiver of excitement course through his body as he responded to my touch.

"Oh, Jess...." he whispered.

Knowing that his pants were becoming too confining, I unzipped them and reached inside to stroke between his legs. James shivered again and whimpered with pleasure when I did this.

As I continued to rub him, he slid a hand under my shirt and bra and caressed my breasts. "Oh, James!" I gasped as I bucked against him.

When his mouth found mine again, we parted our lips and let our tongues mingle and play together. A warm, rosy haze seemed to envelop us as we laid there, touching and tasting each other. It was sheer bliss!

Suddenly, however, I heard the sounds of footsteps approaching and our pokemon jumping to attention. And then, I heard a familiar whiny voice shout, "AUGH!!!"

James and I pulled apart.

"Shit!" James muttered under his breath. "Don't tell me he's here!"

My fears were confirmed when I looked up and saw Ash standing a couple feet away. But he wasn't paying any attention to me and James -- his mud-brown eyes were fixed on our pokemon...and he looked absolutely terrified!

And it was easy to see why! At our feet, Vulpix and Growly were both standing guard, their hackles raised and their teeth bared as they growled at him. Arbok and Weezing had come to our side as well and were now standing protectively over us. Meowth and Wobbuffet had awakened from their nap and were both frowning at Ash. Lickitung, Victreebel, and Sunflora were all standing protectively over us and scowling, too. And even little Articuno had all of his downy feathers puffed out as he cast an angry glare at the twerp.

Ash held up his hands. "Take it easy! I was just taking a walk!" he said nervously. Then, to me and James, "Uh, what's wrong with your pokemon? Why do they look so angry?"

James and I exchanged looks. Ash obviously didn't recognize us since we were wearing blue jeans with our black shirts instead of our usual Team Rocket uniforms.

"And, uh...what were you people doing?" Ash continued. "Why did you have your tongues in each other's mouths? That's gross! I'd never put my tongue in some icky girl's mouth, and if a girl ever did that to me, I'd barf!"

"What girl would even want to?" I grumbled as I adjusted my shirt.

James zipped up his pants and got off of me. "Yeah! And it's none of your damn business what we were doing anyway, twerp!"

As soon as we spoke, recognition flashed in Ash's eyes. "Hey, wait a minute! You're TEAM ROCKET!!! WHAT ARE YOU LOSERS DOING HERE?!" he screamed. Before we could reply, however, a look of horror crossed his face, and he started screaming again. "Eeeewwww, gross!!! Team Rocket was kissing, and they had their tongues in each other's mouths!!! EEEEWWWW!!!!! SICK!!!!!"

I buried my face in my hands. "We're never going to hear the end of this," I groaned.

As Ash continued to scream and rant about how grossed out he was that he'd seen us kissing, James got to his feet and backhanded him across the face so hard that he landed on his ass. "Shut the fuck up! I told you it's none of your goddamned business what Jessie and I were doing!" he snapped.

Ash levelled a finger at James and began to laugh. "Ha, ha! Joke's on you, James -- I bet you're gonna get cooties now! That's what happens when you kiss disgusting girls like Jessie!"

James grabbed Ash by the collar of his grubby vest and hauled him back to his feet. "What did you call her?" he asked. His voice was low and menacing as he spoke.

Ash made a nasty face, as if he were getting ready to deal me another insult, but then his attention drifted back to our pokemon, and he started spazzing out again. "AUGH!!! Where did you get all those pokemon, Team Rocket?!" he wailed as he looked at Vulpix, Growly, Articuno, Sunflora, and Lickitung. "I bet you STOLE them!!! I'm not gonna let you losers get away with this!"

James silenced Ash with another backhand across the face. "Wrong as usual, shit-for-brains! These are OUR pokemon -- Jessie and I caught them fair and square!"

"Stop lying, Team Rocket!" Ash cried. He wriggled free of James's grasp and ran over to our pokemon. "Come with me, guys -- I'm here to save you from these crooks!"

James and I folded our arms across our chests and smirked.

"Yeah. Sure. They're going to go with you," I said sarcastically. "I'd like to see you try and take them from us."

Ash grinned smugly. "I will!" he sneered. With that, he grabbed Articuno.

And when he did, Vulpix and Growly lunged and bit his legs.

"AUGH!!!" Ash screamed again.

As Ash's grip loosened, Articuno freed himself. Then, he sank his talons into the twerp's face and started pecking his head, cheeping angrily all the while!

Suddenly, Meowth and Wobbuffet burst out laughing.

"Oh, my god! I knew watchin' dat South Park movie would be an educational experience for little Arti!" Meowth gasped. He flashed me and James a wicked grin. "He's callin' Ash a donkey-rapin' shit eater!"

Actually, it sounds more like "dondey ray-ray shiteader," like how little Ike said it, Wobbuffet remarked. They're so cute at that age!

James and I covered our mouths with our hands and snickered.

Meanwhile, Ash was now running around in circles, screaming in agony as Vulpix and Growly continued to bite him, and Articuno continued to peck him and cuss him out.

Meowth began to laugh harder than ever. "Aw, man! Now Arti's singin' Uncle Fucka! Yeah!!! You tell him, Arti!"

I gave James a playful nudge with my elbow. "And you thought letting the baby watch South Park would be a bad idea!"

James smiled at me and laughed again.

Once Ash was finally able to wrench himself free from Vulpix and Growly's jaws and Articuno's talons, he cast an angry glare at me and James. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO THOSE POKEMON?!?!?!" he screeched.

"It's very simple," James replied as Vulpix and Growly returned to our sides, and Arti perched atop his head. "We just treat them with love and respect, and they return that love. They're not going to go with you because they're our pokemon. They want to stay with us, and if you try to take them, they'll fight you tooth and nail."

"No way! I know you stole them, and you did something to make them evil like that guy with the evil poke balls, and I'm not gonna let you get away with it!!!" Ash insisted. He brought out a bunch of his poke balls. "I challenge you losers to a battle!"

"Fine! I just hope you're ready to lose again!" I told him. Now that we had all of our pokemon with us, and Ash didn't have the rest of the twerp brigade to help him, there was no way he could gang up on us or outnumber us!

Ash blinked. "Lose again?"

"We saw Misty kick yer sorry ass earlier today!" Meowth explained.

Ash's ugly face contorted in anger once more. He obviously didn't like being reminded that he'd just been eliminated from the Whirl Cup! "Well, Misty may have beaten me, but you losers never have! And I'm gonna beat you again!"

"Hit us with your best shot, twerp!" I dared him.

"I will!" he sneered. With that, he tossed his five poke balls. "Bayleef! Cyndaquil! Totodile! Noctowl! Bulbasaur! I choose you!"

"Go, Vulpix, Lickitung, and Sunflora!" I cried as Ash's five pokemon emerged.

"Articuno! Growly! Go!" James shouted.

My blood boiled as I watched Bayleef charging us. It was time to give that crazy pokemon a dose of her own medicine! "Vulpix! Use Fire Spin on that Bayleef!" I commanded.

"No way!" said Ash. "Bayleef! Hit that Vulpix with your Vine Whip! Totodile! Use Water Gun on it!"

I waggled my finger. "Tsk, tsk! Two against one is cheating! You may have gotten away with pulling that shit on us in the past, but it's not going to work anymore!" I turned my attention to Sunflora. "Take out that Totodile with your Petal Dance!"

As Bayleef lashed out with her vines, Vulpix trapped her in a swirling jet of flame. Bayleef struggled to escape, but after a moment, she succumbed to the fire attack and fell to the ground, unconscious. Meanwhile, Sunflora fired a barrage of her golden petals at Totodile and knocked him for a loop before he could hit Vulpix with his Water Gun attack.

"AUGH!!! That was a cheap shot, Team Rocket!" Ash whined. "Cyndaquil! Use your Flamethrower on that Sunflora! Totodile! Try to use Water Gun on Vulpix again!"

This time, Cyndaquil struck first and roasted Sunflora with a jet of fire. She was still standing, but she was on the ropes.

Fortunately, I had the perfect counterattack planned. "Sunflora! Finish Totodile off with your Giga Drain! Lickitung! Use your Surf attack on Cyndaquil!"

As Totodile prepared for another Water Gun, Sunflora latched on to him and began to glow with a green aura like faerie fire. After a moment, Totodile collapsed, and Sunflora was revitalized! Then, Lickitung's eyes started to glow with a cold blue light, and the ocean waves began growing higher and higher. When she unleashed her attack, the waves crashed down on Cyndaquil and extinguished his fire.

Ash's mouth was agape. "What the?! How did?!" he stammered.

I smirked. When James, Meowth, and I had been on Kumquat Island in the Orange Archipelago the summer before last, I'd found a rare Surf HM at the poke-mart. I knew that giving a powerful water attack to a normal-type like Lickitung would come in handy, so I'd bought the HM for her.

"Hey, Lickitung can't learn water attacks! You must be CHEATING!!!" Ash whined.

"No. I used an HM to teach that attack to her!" I retorted. "If you were half the trainer you claim to be...."

"SHUT UP, TEAM ROCKET!!!!!" Ash screamed. "Noctowl! Use your Confusion on them! Bulbasaur! Use Razor Leaf!"

James stepped protectively in front of me. "I'll handle this! Articuno! Take out that Noctowl with your Powder Snow attack! Growly! Use your Flamethrower on Bulbasaur!"

Simultaneously, Noctowl and Articuno took to the sky. When Noctowl's eyes began to glow, Articuno flapped his little wings and clouded the air with a flurry of ice and snow. Unable to see the two birds any longer, I turned my attention back to the other pokemon. Bulbasaur was now firing his leaves at Growly, and Growly was exhaling a jet of fire and roasting them. And after Growly's Flamethrower cut through the leaves, it slammed into Bulbasaur and mowed him down, too.

Now it was down to Noctowl and Articuno.

"Noctowl! Take Down!" Ash shouted.

"Hit it with another Powder Snow attack, Articuno!" James commanded.

As Noctowl went into a dive-bomb, Articuno flapped his wings again and unleashed another blast of cold. And as Articuno's attack buffetted him, Noctowl's feathers became caked with ice and snow. Needing to concentrate all of his energies on staying in the air, the encumbered Noctowl was unable to execute his own attack properly -- when he swooped in, dodging was a simple matter for Articuno!

"Now finish him off with a Peck attack!" said James.

Just like he'd done with Ash, Articuno sank his talons into Noctowl and began hammering him with his little beak. Unable to withstand anymore, Noctowl fell from the sky and landed on the ground with a jarring crash, and Articuno fluttered down and perched on James's shoulder.

Meowth grinned. "Well, whaddaya know! It looks like ya lost after all, twerpo!"

Ash scowled at us and called back his five fallen pokemon. "That wasn't faaaiiirrr!!!" he whined. "I know you were cheating somehow -- you must've done something to those stolen pokemon to make them extra-powerful!"

"Yeah! It's this thing called training! Perhaps you've heard of it?" I replied.

"And for the millionth time, we didn't steal any of these pokemon -- they belong to us! Get the shit out of your ears!" James snapped.


As Pikachu stepped from behind Ash, he gave us a nasty leer, and his cheeks began to crackle and spark with electricity. Before we could make a run for it, or I could command Wobbuffet to use a Counter attack, however, the little rat unleashed a blast of lightning.

With reflexes that almost matched the lightning in speed, James pulled Articuno from his shoulder and placed him in my arms. Then, he shoved me and the baby bird out of harm's way. Unfortunately, before he could follow us, the Thunderbolt struck him.

My stomach tied itself in knots as I watched my poor James get zapped by 10,000 volts of electricity. And as he collapsed, I felt a cold spike of rage surge through me.

I looked at Ash, standing triumphantly over James and laughing. The sight made bile rise up in the back of my throat, and I found myself gripped by the urge to give him another beating like the one we'd dealt him in the Arbor Forest.

It was a temptation I had no plans to resist.

"Big mistake, twerp," I heard myself hissing. "You should've just walked away...."

Ash turned and leered at me, too. "Now hit Jessie with a Thunderbolt, Pikachu!" he sneered.

As Pikachu began powering up again, Weezing darted to my side and spit a river of black sludge at the little rat. The sludge fused Pikachu's eyes shut so that he couldn't see, and it gunked up the sacs on his cheeks, making it impossible for him to use his electric attacks. And once Pikachu was incapacitated, Growly clamped his jaws down on his throat and shook him about like a chew toy. When Pikachu went limp, Growly spit him out and returned to James's side, his fur raised and his teeth bared as he continued to growl at Ash.

Now all of the twerp's pokemon were down for the count. He couldn't fight his way out of it this time, and he knew it.

A drop of sweat formed on Ash's temple as he picked up Pikachu and started backing away. "Uh, heh, heh, heh...y-you know...I think I w-w-will l-leave now," he stammered.

I snickered. "Oh, no you don't! You never let me and James retreat after we've been defeated -- I think you're long overdue for a dose of your own medicine, Ketchum."

"Yeah! Let's see how you like gettin' fucked up when ya can't fight back!" said Meowth, who was kneeling at James's side.

"And we've got a score to settle with you, anyway!" I continued.

When I said this, Arbok, Weezing, Lickitung, Victreebel, Wobbuffet, Growly, Vulpix, Sunflora, and Articuno surrounded Ash. They all looked angry enough to kill.

Now that the twerp was trapped, I knelt next to James and gave him a gentle shake. "James? Sweetie, are you okay?" I asked.

After a moment, James placed a hand to his forehead and looked up at me. "I'll be fine," he assured me. "Nothing a little Tylenol won't cure...."

I smoothed back his hair and smiled. "Glad to hear it. Just give me a moment to beat the living shit out of Ash, and we can go back to the cabin."

Now James was smiling, too, and a mischievous light glimmered in his green eyes. "I hope you weren't planning on starting the party without me!"

"Wouldn't dream of it, Jim! You know we do everything as a team!" came Meowth's reply.

I took James by the hand and helped him back to his feet. Then, I grabbed my Sea Spirit wand, which was lying next to the beach blanket. "Come on, honey. Let's go give that twerp his just desserts."

James nodded. "Yeah!"

With that, the three of us strode over to where the pokemon were standing and watched Ash's antics for a moment. Every time he tried to run away, he'd get bitten, pecked, or tackled and knocked off of his feet. He even took a couple swings at Wobbuffet and ended up punching himself in the face when Wobbu used his Counter attack!

Why are ya hittin' yourself, twerp? Wobbuffet laughed.

"Not so fun ta be on the receivin' end, is it, asswipe?" Meowth asked as we stepped into the circle and came to Ash's side.

He scowled at us. "This isn't fair!" he whined. "Pokemon aren't supposed to attack humans!"

James grabbed Ash by the collar of his vest again. "Oh, really? Then, why are you always doing it to us?"

"That's different!" Ash insisted. "You're always trying to steal Pikachu!"

James raised an eyebrow. "You mean the way you tried to steal my Articuno today? And my Growly? And Jessie's Lickitung, Vulpix, and Sunflora?"

Ash said nothing, just scowled again.

"It would seem the tables have turned, Ketchum," James continued. "My friends and I were just minding our own business when you attacked us unprovoked. Now, you're simply getting a little taste of the shit you're always doing to us. Turnabout is fair play, after all...."

A smile made its way across my lips as I stepped closer and clonked Ash over the head with my wand. "It certainly is!" I agreed.

"AUGH!!!" Ash whined again, clutching his head in his hands. "What was that for?!"

"For picking a fight with us, you fucking idiot! What do you think?!" I shouted. Then, I grabbed him by his greasy black hair and drove my knee into his groin as hard as I could. "And that's for attacking James!"

As Ash crumpled to the ground and continued to whine, I took a moment to admire my wand. "Wow! This thing is really well-made if it can put a dent in Ash's thick skull!" I remarked.

James winked at me. "Now, aren't you glad you let me buy it for you, Jess?"

"Oh, yeah! This baby just paid for itself!" I laughed.

Meowth smirked. "Sea Spirit replica wand: thirty bucks. Clobberin' Ash with it: priceless!"

Now James was laughing, too.

As the three of us continued to laugh, Ash staggered back to his feet. "Grrr! This isn't funny!"

Meowth closed his eyes and folded his arms across his chest. "Yer right, twerpo -- it ain't funny. It's hilarious!"

"NO IT'S NOOOOOOT!!!" Ash screeched. "I'LL MAKE YOU LOSERS PAY FOR THIS!!!!!" With that, he started charging us and windmilling his arms.

When he threw a punch at us, James caught his fist and stopped him in his tracks. "No, I think you're the one who's going to be paying," he said matter-of-factly. With that, he balled his hand into a fist and drove it into Ash's stomach, knocking the wind out of him. "For insulting Jessie...." He released his hold on Ash's fist and smashed his face with a left hook. "....For trying to steal our pokemon...."

As Ash staggered backwards and landed on his ass again, Meowth pounced on him and started Fury Swiping for all he was worth. "....And for doin' such a shitty job trainin' yer Bayleef and lettin' it attack Professor Oak, and not even apologizin' to him!!!!!"

Ash pulled Meowth off of his face and held him at arms' length. Meowth responded by sinking his teeth into his arm and forcing him to let go.

" did you know....?" Ash stammered as he clutched his bleeding arm.

"You'd be surprised at what we know," I told him.

"But how we know isn't the point," James added. "The point is, you'd better not go around calling yourself a pokemon master if you're doing irresponsible shit like letting your pokemon hurt innocent old men, and you'd sure as hell better not put on that holier than thou act with us when you treat your own friends so poorly!"

"Yeah! You should be ashamed of yourself!" I shouted.

Ash rolled his eyes. "I can't believe I'm getting a lecture from Team Rocket!"

I waved my Sea Spirit wand menacingly in his face. "Would you rather get knocked around some more? Because we'd be all too glad to do it." To illustrate the point, I cracked him over the head again.

As the twerp's whining began anew, James hauled him back to his feet, walked him out of the circle of angry pokemon, and shoved him away. "Get out of our sight, you little basilisk," he growled. "For the record, we're not trying to catch your stupid Pikachu anymore -- we don't even want to have anything to do with you anymore! So, you stay the hell away from us!"

"Yeah! We ain't gonna put up with no more of yer shit!" Meowth chimed in.

Ash slowly got back to his feet and cast an angry glare at us. But instead of walking away, he started charging us again.

I placed a hand to my head, which was beginning to throb from a stupidity-induced migraine. "He doesn't know when to quit, does he?" I groaned.

James folded his arms across his chest and exhaled in a frustrated sigh. "Growly, fire a warning shot at him," he huffed.

Growly intercepted Ash and aimed a Flamethrower attack in his path. But Ash was running too fast to stop and plowed right into the wall of fire.

"AUGH!!!" he whined for the millionth time as he ignited and began to race around in circles in a futile attempt to put the flames out.

"Hey! Stop, drop, and roll, ya dumbshit!" Meowth called to him.

Ash, however, was screaming at the top of his lungs and hadn't heard the cat's advice.

James and I exchanged looks.

"Think we should put him out of his misery?" I asked.

"Yeah, I guess," James replied. Then, to Articuno, "Cool him off with a Powder Snow attack."

Articuno nodded and flapped his wings, hitting Ash with a blast of ice and snow.

When the air cleared, Ash was frozen in a spastic pose, his face contorted in an expression of panic and shock. He was covered with snow, and icicles were hanging from him in several places. There were also dark, wet stains running down the front of his pants.

Meowth began to laugh again. "Oh, my god! Did he piss himself?!"

"It certainly looks that way," James remarked.

I pinched my nose shut as the stench of ammonia hit me. "It smells that way, too!"

James and Meowth covered their noses as well. "Come on. Let's get out of here," James said.

Meowth and I nodded.

After calling back our pokemon and gathering up all of our belongings, the three of us took our leave.

"You get back here!" Ash shouted as we passed him by.

"I don't think so -- we've got better things to do than waste our time on a little pissant like you," I told him.

"Yeah! With emphasis on the piss!" Meowth snickered.

James brought a quarter from his pocket and flicked it at Ash. "Here you go. Take a trip to the laundromat, and leave us alone," he said as the quarter struck him between the eyes.

Meowth turned and stuck up his middle claw at Ash. "Smell ya later, piss-boy!" he laughed. "Don't eat the yellow snow!"


As we continued on our way, I draped an arm around James's shoulders, and he wrapped an arm around my waist.

"Are you alright, honey?" I asked again.

The smile returned to his lips. "Never better!" he replied in all honesty.

I breathed a sigh of relief. "Good. When I saw Pikachu electrocute you...."

"She looked as pissed as you did dat time Ash almost got her killed!" Meowth said, finishing the thought for me.

"I was pissed," I affirmed. My brow furrowed. "And I still am -- I can't believe the nerve of him!"

James held me closer and planted a kiss on my cheek. "Don't worry about it anymore, angel -- I'm not hurt...and I'll be genuinely surprised if Ash forgets about this."

"Yeah, but dat's the problem, Jim," Meowth sighed. "Even if Ash does remember dat we kicked his ass, it ain't gonna teach him a lesson -- it'll just make him even nastier the next time he confronts us!"

"True," James admitted. "But at least we know that we can beat him in a pokemon battle when he hits us with everything he's got. The twerps don't have us outnumbered anymore...not as badly, anyway."

"And hopefully, it'll be a long time before we have another encounter like that with Ash," I said. I leaned into James and rested my head on his shoulder. "It's certainly a lot less likely these days."

James nodded. "Indeed."

"James?" I muttered.


I looked up at him and smiled again. "Well...if you're still feeling up to you think we can finish what we started when we get back to the cabin?"

His green eyes glimmered once more. "Of course I'm feeling up to it!"

"Oh, yeah! Youse guys was gettin' all hot and heavy when the twerp showed up!" Meowth chuckled.

I felt my face turning red. "I guess the truth is out now," I sighed.

James winked at me. "I wouldn't worry about it if I were you, Jess -- chances are, he's already forgotten that he saw us kissing. And if not, then who cares? I don't think a stupid brat teasing us about our relationship is much cause for concern these days."

"You're right, James," I told him. "Who cares what that twerp thinks?"

"Not me! That's for sure!" came his reply.

"Me-owth, either!" the cat chimed in.

"Then let's forget him!" James said. With that, he stopped for a moment, ran his fingers through my hair, and lowered his lips to mine.

A shiver of excitement coursed through me at the feeling of his gentle touch and his soft lips pressed against mine. "Yeah! We've got better things to do...and nicer things to think about!" I said when our kiss ended.

"Well, don't get carried away just yet, guys," Meowth told us. "We still hafta have dinner -- I, for one, don't wanna be eatin' at midnight on account of youse horny teenagers."

James and I blushed again.

The cat smiled at us. "Besides, we promised ta call Gary dis evenin'," he continued. "Ya know he'll wanna hear all about what just happened!"

"Oh, I'm sure he will, Meowth," James agreed. "I'm sure he will...."

A feeling of peace came over me as we resumed our walk. Granted, our encounter with Ash had been the one dark spot on an otherwise bright day, but nothing truly bad had come of it -- none of us had been seriously hurt, we'd defeated him fair and square when he attacked us with his pokemon, and we were walking away in one piece instead of recovering from a blast-off. And we still had a delicious dinner, a chat with our friend, and a nice romantic evening to look forward to!

I smiled again at James and held him closer. Once again, I was thankful for the new direction our lives had taken...and I was more thankful than ever to have him in my life.

To be Continued....


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