Team Rocket KiSS Dolls by Avi
The Facts in the Case of Woodson vs. Ketchum
by Cori Falls
Author's Note: I used to do write-ups of personal injury lawsuits for a living, and I came up with the idea for this fic one day when I was more bored than usual. The case write-up at the very end of the story is an example of the type of writing I did all day. The prologue and epilogue with the case-writer are semi-autobiographical. (If only Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe really did send me cases!)
The case-writer yawned and smoothed back her long, auburn hair. Her work day had been more boring than usual, and it was only half-over -- there were still four hours to go! And to make matters worse, all of the easy legal forms were gone, and she was going to have to go to the Attorney Sub bin for her cases.
She hated the Attorney Sub bin. The cases were always complicated, time-consuming, and mind-numbingly dull.
But to the bin she went anyway. She rooted around for a few minutes and pulled out some cases that didn't look too horrible. But as she returned to her desk, she found something on one of the papers that piqued her interest.
It was the cover-sheet for a personal negligence case, printed on letterhead paper from the Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe law firm, and it read:
Hope ya get a kick outta this! ^_~
-- Hugs, J, J, & M
Turning the page, she looked at the case caption, which read:
James Eric Woodson, Esq. -- a minor by and through his parents, Quentin Edgar Woodson, Esq. and Judith Aislinn Morgan-Woodson vs. Ash Ketchum
The cover-sheet was right -- she WAS going to get a kick out of this!
Chapter 1 -- The Lovely, Charming Lawyers
It was a sunny day in the Orange Islands as pokemon trainer Ash Ketchum continued his journey to earn his fourth and final Orange League badge. After spending the entire day on the back of his Lapras with Misty and Tracey, he decided to stop at a nearby island so that he could revitalize his pokemon at the local pokemon center.
After giving his poke balls to Nurse Joy, Ash decided to kill some time by going to the computer and checking his e-mail.
It was a decision he would soon regret.
The first message was from TrialGod@dixielaw.com. "Hey, Pikachu, do you know who this is?" he asked his pokemon.
Pikachu shook his head. "Chuuu...."
Opening the message, Ash found a lot of big words that he didn't understand.
He shrugged. "Weird. Oh, well. Who else did we get mail from?"
The next few messages were from his mom, Professor Oak, and Brock, all asking how he was doing. There was also a bunch of spam from Gary. But then, he came to another strange message. It was from 3Rocketeers@team-rocket.com. He didn't know who this was either, but he had the feeling he wasn't going to like it.
When he opened this message, it read:
Hey, Ash, I don't know if you heard or not, but my parents are suing you for all of the injuries you and your pokemon have inflicted on me. They got their lawyer to send you the court papers. Just thought I'd let you know.
P.S. Don't blame me!!! It wasn't my idea!!! O_o
Ash frowned. So that's what that first e-mail was! What was he going to do?
Since he couldn't think of anything, he decided to consult Misty and Tracey.
"You need to get your own lawyer so that you can defend yourself," Tracey told him after he read the two messages.
"But you have to get a good one," Misty added. "Remember, James's parents are rich -- they've probably got a legal dream-team working on this case!"
"Great," Ash grumbled.
Suddenly, however, the group was approached by three strange figures in business suits. The first one was a young woman with red-rimmed glasses and her long, crimson hair tied into a bun on top of her head. The second was an elderly gentleman with shoulder-length bluish-gray hair and a brushy mustache. The third was a furry midget who looked kind of like a cat.
Ash looked at them blankly. "Uh...who are you?"
"We heard about yer predicament and thought we'd lend ya a hand," the midget said in a thick Jersey accent. "Allow us ta introduce ourselves."
The young woman cleared her throat and stepped forward. "Ahem. To protect the world from litigation."
Then, the elderly gentleman came to her side and held up a blue rose. "To defend all peoples within our nation."
"To denounce the evils of frivolous lawsuits."
"To keep defendants from payin' through their snoots."
"Dorothy Dewey!" said the woman.
"Charles Cheatum!" said the man.
"Harvey Howe!" said the midget.
"Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe -- we're the Masters of Tort!"
"So settle with us now, or we'll see you in court!"
"Where we'll cross-examine ya for sport!"
Ash blinked. "So...are you guys lawyers, or something?"
Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe fell over, anime style.
"Isn't that what we just got done telling you?!" Dewey snapped, jumping to her feet again.
"Oh, so you ARE lawyers! Will you help me?"
A vein popped out on Dewey's forehead. "That's what we said, you little twe-"
"Yes, yes, of course!" Cheatum said, cutting her off.
Misty and Tracey noticed that Cheatum was now holding his partner by the shoulders and that Howe had her by the legs -- it was all they could do to keep her from pummeling Ash. Before long, however, she calmed herself.
"Now, as we were sayin'," Cheatum continued in his smooth Southern voice, "we heard you were bein' sued by the Woodson family, and we'd like to offer our services as your counsel."
"Better take them up on it, Ash," Misty whispered into his ear. "I don't think you're going to find another attorney by the time the trial starts."
"When is the trial anyway?" Ash asked.
Tracey went back to the computer and brought up the first message again. "It's in three days at the Superior Court of Mandarin Island."
"But we just left Mandarin Island!" Ash whined. "I already got the Orange League badge there!"
"Dammit, kid, dis ain't about pokemon trainin'!" Howe shouted. "It's a lawsuit, for cryin' out loud!"
Cheatum rolled his emerald-green eyes. "Look, just meet us at the Mandarin Island Courthouse in three days. My partners and I will work on your case in the meantime."
"Uhhh...thanks," Ash replied.
"Heh! Don't mention it!" said Howe.
The three lawyers grinned at him.
"Why does Team Rocket always have to ruin everything for me?!" Ash grumbled as he left the pokemon center with Misty and Tracey. "This trial is keeping me from winning another badge!"
"Ash, is pokemon training all you ever think about?!" Misty snapped.
"Uh...what else is there?"
"Grrrr! Ash Ketchum, you are so aggravating!"
Tracey said nothing, just smiled and shook his head in amusement as he followed them.
Once the three of them were gone, Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe tore off their lawyer disguises and revealed their true identities.
"You think they fell for it?" James asked.
"Of course dey fell for it!" came Meowth's reply. "Dose kids are so stupid -- dey NEVER recognize us!"
Jessie scowled and folded her arms across her chest. "Well, I don't like this...not one bit! Tell me again why we're defending that little twerp!"
"Because I don't want my parents cashing in on MY misfortune," James told her.
Meowth nodded. "I don't like it any more den you do, Jess, but he's right -- the last thing his parents need is more money...especially when it comes at his expense!"
James sighed and ran a hand through his blue-violet hair. "They don't care about me...they never cared about me. All I am to them is a way to get even richer, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna let that happen!"
Jessie smiled tenderly at him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "You're right, James. Helping the brat isn't exactly my idea of fun, but it's the lesser of the two evils."
James returned the smile and put his arms around her. "Thank you for understanding."
Jessie embraced her partner and rested her forehead on his own.
"Come on, youse two! We gotta get ready for dat trial!" Meowth said, breaking them apart.
James nodded. "Yeah, the Woodson family attorney is the meanest, dirtiest, slimiest backwoods Southern lawyer to ever come down the pike!"
Jessie and Meowth noticed that as James spoke, his Southern accent was becoming increasingly raucous. He now sounded more like a rabid tent-revival preacher addressing his congregation than a suave, high-class gentleman.
Meowth sweatdropped. "Uh, what's with the voice, James?"
"Oh, sorry," he replied in his normal voice. "I was just getting into character again. You see, we're going up against Preston S. Beauregarde III, and he fights dirty! Dirtier than most lawyers, anyway. We don't stand a chance against him unless...."
"Unless we fight just as dirty!" Jessie concluded.
"Which means, we gotta dig up some dirt on the plaintiffs!" said Meowth.
James folded his arms across his chest and smiled. "That's right!" he exclaimed. "And it shouldn't be too hard...seeing as how I AM one of the plaintiffs, and the other two are my parents! I know enough about them, and myself, to discredit any testimony they might have to offer!"
Jessie grinned. "Then this case is as good as won! We can just goof off for the next three days!"
"Precisely! All we have to do is show up in court!" said James.
"Heh, heh! Den what're we waitin' for?!" Meowth exclaimed. "Let's hit the beach!"
And that's exactly what they did.
Chapter 2 -- A Trial of Errors
Three days later....
"Order! Order in the court!" the judge shouted, banging her gavel.
James chuckled and supressed the urge to ask for a foot-long Italian sub and an extra-large cola. He had to remember that he wasn't James anymore -- he was Charles Cheatum, Attorney at Law. And Jessie and Meowth were now Dorothy Dewey and Harvey Howe. He looked over at his partners, who were sitting at the table on the right-hand side of the courtroom. They were on either side of Ash.
He, "Dewey" and "Howe" looked sharp in their lawyer disguises -- how could they not when Jessie made them herself? Ash, however, was another story. When they met up with him that morning, they knew that the first thing they had to do was give him a makeover. After all, juries were some of the most shallow people in the world, and more often than not, they reached their verdict before the trial even began, based on nothing more than what the parties looked like!
So, they took Ash shopping and got him a suit and tie to wear to the trial. Even though he appeared to be a little more professional now, he still insisted on wearing his baseball cap, and it produced an extremely ridiculous-looking effect. Maybe it was for the best, though -- if he took the cap off, he'd probably have a bad case of hat-hair that not even Jessie's arsenal of hair-styling products would be able to remedy! Ash never was one to have a good hair day.
James then looked over at the table on the left-hand side of the courtroom and saw Preston S. Beauregarde III sitting next to his parents. His blood boiled at the sight of them. By all outward appearances they seemed distressed by the fate of their much-injured son, but James knew the truth. Quentin and Judith Woodson may have appeared to be loving parents, but their hearts were filled with cruelty, deception, and greed. They had always been paragons of Southern hospitality to acquaintances and strangers, but to their own child they were monsters.
When people met his rich parents, they always assumed that James was a spoiled brat for running away from home. Nobody ever suspected that this perfect lady and gentleman were really manipulative and abusive, and nobody ever believed James when he said they were. But now was his chance to change all of that -- he was going to show the world what Quentin and Judith Woodson really were.
The judge banged her gavel again, and the milling crowd became quiet and took their seats.
"Ahem! This court is now in session," she announced. "Will the counselors please approach the bench?"
James closed his eyes and sighed. This was it.
When he and his rival approached the bench, they locked stares. He was frightened at first, but then he remembered that he was in disguise -- the only people that knew who he really was were Jessie and Meowth. And they weren't going to blow his cover. Charles Cheatum felt his resolve return as he looked into Preston S. Beauregarde III's icy blue eyes. Neither man was going to back down, but Cheatum was determined not to lose.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," Preston S. Beauregarde III began. "I give you two lovin' parents, who have lost the society, companionship, and services of their son, James -- their only child."
As if on cue, Quentin and Judith brought out their handkercheifs and began to cry.
"They come here today to seek reparations," he continued. "To be duly compensated for the loss of their son's consortium and to see that the person responsible for this atrocity be punished accordinly." When he said this, he pointed to Ash.
Howe patted him on the shoulder. "Don't worry, kid. Dis guy ain't got a chance!" he whispered.
"I call as my first witness, the plaintiff -- Mr. Quentin Edgar Woodson, Esquire," said Beauregarde.
Quentin came to the stand and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him, God.
It was all James could do to keep from laughing.
"Mr. Woodson, would you tell us, in your own words, what happened to your son?" Beauregarde asked.
"Yes, sir," Quentin replied. "My boy went off on his pokemon journey when he was ten, and a little over a year ago, he started bein' harassed by another trainer."
"And, can you tell us who this other trainer is?"
Quentin nodded and pointed to Ash. "That boy right there."
"What exactly did this boy do to your son?"
"The kid's just evil!" Quentin cried. "He trained that Pikachu of his to electrocute my son on sight!"
There was a collective gasp from the jury.
"And that ain't the half of it!" he continued. "I can't count the number of times my boy's been assaulted by his other pokemon...and how many times he's been the victim of that devil-spawn's evil schemes!"
"What?!" Ash snapped, jumping up from his seat. "James is Team Rocket! HE'S the one who comes up with all of the evil schemes!"
Dewey pulled Ash back into his seat and Howe put a hand over his mouth as the judge shot them an icy glare.
"Please excuse our client," Dewey said. "He's very...emotional right now...."
The judge nodded and looked at Quentin again. "Please continue."
"But...." Ash began.
"Just be patient, kid," Howe whispered. "You'll get ta tell yer version in a minute!"
Ash scowled and slumped down in his seat.
"Better listen to them, Ash," Misty said, leaning over the railing. "The judge isn't going to like it if you cause a disturbance."
Tracey nodded and began working on a sketch of the courtroom scene. "Yeah. Contempt of court is a very serious offense."
"Fine," Ash grumbled.
Quentin brought out his handkercheif again and began sobbing. "My poor boy...I just can't bear the thought of what he's suffered because of that Ketchum kid...."
"Bullshit! Bullshit!" Cheatum coughed into his hands.
"Do you have something to say, counselor?" the judge asked cooly.
The lawyer grinned. "Uh...no! Nothing! Nothing at all!"
She smirked at him and turned back to Quentin.
"I...I only pray that the ladies and gentlemen of the jury can find it in their hearts to take pity on my poor son and see fit to compensate us for what's happened to him...." he continued before breaking down completely.
"Your witness," Beauregarde said. Then, turning to the jury, "Ladies and gentlemen, a father in his own words. His beloved son -- his only begotten child, maliciously and relentlessly persecuted by the defendant...."
"Oh, dear!" Judith wailed, fanning herself. "My poor, sweet boy! I'm gettin' the vapors just thinkin' about what's happened to my little James!"
"And a mother's tears, ladies and gentlemen!" Beauregarde cried. "Look how she suffers because of the defendant's cruelty! I implore you to give them their due! Indeed, money is a cold, hard companion compared to the love of a son, but it's at least some assurance that all of his sufferin' isn't in vain. Please! Won't you give this lovin' family a little assurance?" When he said this, he sounded like the tent-revival preacher that James had been impersonating three days earlier.
And it was working -- several members of the jury were in tears, and the rest of them looked like they were about to cry.
It didn't look good for the defense.
Chapter 3 -- The Price of Victory
Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe huddled.
"Boy! You wasn't kiddin' about dat guy fightin' dirty!" Howe muttered.
Dewey nodded. "Yeah, they really won the jury over with that sob-story! That's going to be a tough act to follow!"
"No kiddin'! How're we suppose ta cross-examine yer dad without pissin' 'em off?" Howe asked. "If we try ta discredit anything he says, dere just gonna think we're bein' mean!"
"Don't worry about a thing," Cheatum told them. "Beauregarde may have played on everybody's emotions, but he didn't offer any real arguments. I've got a far more deadly weapon!"
"And what might dat be?" Howe queried.
"The truth," came his reply.
"James, this is a court of law!" Dewey whispered. "Since when does the truth count for anything?!"
Cheatum winked at her. "It's all in the delivery, Jess. Quentin Woodson may have talked a good show, but that's all it was -- talk! When you mix a little truth in with that smooth talk...."
Dewey grinned at him. "You're right -- the son has his father's silver tongue! We can use that to our advantage!"
Now Cheatum was grinning, too. "By the time I'm done with him, he's going to wish I was never born!"
"Uh, reality check, Jimmy!" Howe piped up. "Yer dad already wishes you were never born!"
Cheatum sighed and hung his head.
"But that just makes it easier to discredit him!" Dewey argued.
"Hmmm...good point," Howe conceded.
Cheatum's mood brightened again. "Yes...yes...Quentin and Beauregarde's act will be nothing compared to the scene I lay on the jury!"
"Counselors? Do you have anything to say for the defense?" the judge asked, breaking the attorneys from their huddle.
Cheatum took another deep breath and smoothed his hair, making sure not to pull his gray wig loose. "Yes, your Honor," he replied. "I have a few questions I'd like to ask the plaintiff, if I may."
Cheatum could feel the glares of the jury stabbing into him like daggers as he approached the bench. This was going to be harder than he thought.
"Mr. Woodson, sir," he began, choosing his words carefully. "First and foremost, let me say that I truly regret what's happened to your son. I, more than anybody, feel his pain, and I sympathize with him from the bottom of my heart. God strike me dead if I'm lyin'!"
Quentin nodded, and Cheatum felt the venomous glares of the jury subside.
"But there is a question that nags at me, Mr. Woodson," he continued. "Will you do me the favor of answerin' it and puttin' my troubled mind at ease?"
Again, Quentin nodded. "I will do my best, sir."
"I can't help but wonder, Mr. Woodson, but where is your son?" Cheatum queried. "This is not a wrongful death case, and surely, if he were so badly injured that he was rendered incapable of attendin', there would be some form of medical evidence. So, where is the plaintiff in question? It seems odd to me that the boy wouldn't even be present for the proceedins of his own trial."
Quentin sweatdropped. "Well...you see...."
"Objection, your Honor!" Beauregarde snapped. "The defense's question is badgering and irrelevant!"
"Overruled!" the judge replied. "It's a perfectly reasonable question...and one that I'd like to know the answer to, myself. Please continue, counselor."
"Uh, what was that about a badger and an elephant?" Ash whispered to Dewey. "Are they some kind of pokemon?"
Dewey clenched her fist and gritted her teeth. It was all she could do to keep from hitting him.
"Just keep yer ears open and yer mouth shut, kid!" Howe hissed.
Ash frowned. "Fine."
"Please answer the question, Mr. Woodson," Cheatum said softly.
The sweatdrop on Quentin's face doubled in size. "Our son...is...well...."
"And don't forget, sir, that you're under oath," Cheatum added.
As Quentin's emerald eyes met the lawyer's, he knew that there was no getting around it -- he had to tell the truth. "We...we don't know where our son is."
Cheatum knew that this was the right answer, but he still pretended to be taken aback. "You...don't know where your son is?!"
"Well...you see...he's sort of...missin' in action at the moment...."
The jury gasped.
Cheatum smiled to himself. He had the plaintiff right where he wanted him.
"Again, Mr. Woodson, this seems...odd to me," he said. "I know if it were my son who was missin' and injured, my first priority would be findin' him and makin' sure he was okay...not attemptin' to collect monetary damages from his alleged assailant!"
The entire courtroom began to mutter amongst themselves.
"I don't know about you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury," Cheatum continued. "But it seems to me that Mr. and Mrs. Woodson don't quite have their priorities straight. As their own Mr. Beauregarde so eloquently put it, money is a cold, hard companion compared to the love of a son. So I ask you, why is it that they seem to care more about money than the well-bein' of their own son?"
The members of the jury exchanged glances and began muttering again.
Cheatum looked back at Quentin, who was now visibly agitated. This case was as good as won!
"Just one more question, Mr. Woodson," he said.
"What?" Quentin growled.
"Do you love your son?"
"Objection, your Honor!" Beauregarde said again. "What kind of question is that?!"
"Sustained. Watch it, counselor."
Cheatum put his hands behind his back and began to pace the floor. "Okay, then. Let me see if I can't put this another way. It...just seems strange that a couple who never showed any outward sign of affection towards their child in the past would suddenly become so concerned about him. I can't help but wonder if all you're really concerned about is the money...."
"Objection!" Beauregarde shouted.
"Overruled! I'd like to know where the defense is going with this. Go ahead, counselor," said the judge.
Cheatum nodded. "I can't help but wonder if the only reason you've brought suit against the defendant is so that you can recover damages for your son's injuries before his eighteenth birthday, when he'd be able to file suit on his own," he continued.
Again, the jury began to mutter.
"You're wrong!" Quentin snapped. "We only want what's best for our boy! All we've ever cared about is his happiness and well-being!"
"That, sir, is a lie and a falsehood!" Cheatum shouted, levelling an accusing finger at Quentin.
"And how would you know?" Quentin demanded.
"You'd be surprised at what I know, Mr. Woodson," said Cheatum.
Quentin raised an eyebrow.
"I happen to know that your son didn't leave home to set out on a pokemon journey seven years ago," he said. "It's a well-known fact that he ran away...."
"You can't prove that!" Judith cried, cutting him off.
"Oh, yes I can, my dear lady," Cheatum told her. With that, he pulled a rolled-up piece of paper from his pocket. "If your son didn't run away from home, then how do you explain this?"
Cheatum unrolled the piece of paper and showed it to the jury. It was a missing child poster with a picture of a young James on it.
"Where did you get that?!" Quentin and Judith demanded.
"You have these things posted everywhere within a fifty-mile radius of your estate," came the lawyer's reply. "Now, why would you have missin' child posters if you knew your son was just on a pokemon journey?"
"We...said our son was missin' in action," Quentin said lamely. "We're tryin' to find him!"
"With such an old picture? I doubt it!" Cheatum retorted. "These things have been around long before your complaint with my client arose! I can only conclude that you're usin' your son to take advantage of the poor, witless defendant...."
"Objection, your Honor!" Beauregarde cried. "This evidence shouldn't be allowed!"
"And why not?!" Cheatum shot back before the judge could say anything. "This is not the product of an unlawful search and seizure -- it came from a public source to which any given person has access!"
"Overruled," the judge said to Beauregarde. "The defense's evidence is legitimate."
Cheatum nodded to the judge and turned back to Quentin. "Tell me, Mr. Woodson," he said. "Tell me why your son ran away from home. If you and your wife care about him as much as you claim, then why was he compelled to leave?"
"Answer the question, Mr. Woodson!"
The two men locked emerald stares.
James had never really stood up to his father before, and he was absolutely terrified. But the knowledge that he was in disguise...that he was somebody else for the moment gave him the courage to stand his ground. He wasn't going to back down and let his parents win. Not now. Not when victory was so close at hand. He was through running from his problems, and he wasn't going to let either of his parents use him anymore.
Never before had Quentin Woodson come across such a defiant soul. He was a man who was used to getting his own way, and meeting somebody who had the nerve to stand up to him was infuriating. He was determined not to crack under the pressure this lawyer was putting on him, but there was something about that man's eyes. Something about those pensive green eyes pierced into his very soul and saw him for what he really was. He had no choice but to confess....
"Yes...." he said. "....Yes, my boy ran away from home."
There was a collective gasp from the jury.
"And why is that, Mr. Woodson?" Cheatum asked.
Quentin gritted his teeth and clenched his fists -- he couldn't hold it back any longer. "He was a failure!" he snapped. "That boy never gave me nothin' but disappointment since the day he was born! He never did a thing right in his life, and he ran away because he was such a damned fool he couldn't handle learnin' the proper way to do things!
"You want the truth, Mr. Cheatum?" he asked. "I'll tell you the truth -- I'm glad the boy ran away! I'm ashamed to call that delinquent my child, and I brought suit against the defendant in hopes that for once in his miserable life, James could do somethin' right for me! I guess I was wrong...."
Cheatum turned away from Quentin and faced the jury. "I have nothin' further," he said in a strained voice.
After a moment of stunned silence, the entire courtroom was abuzz.
"Order! ORDER!!" the judge shouted, banging her gavel.
The chatter slowly died down.
"Mr. Woodson," she said coldly, turning to Quentin. "You have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that your motives in bringing this suit are both shallow and self-serving. I have no choice but to...."
"Your Honor, my client was coerced into makin' false statements by the defense's underhanded tactics!" Beauregarde protested.
"If that's the case, Mr. Beauregarde," she replied, "it means that your client lied under oath, which places him in contempt of court. Either way, the defense has discredited the plaintiffs' claims and proven this lawsuit to be utterly frivolous. I hereby dismiss all charges and rule in favor of the defendant."
The judge banged her gavel once again. "Case closed!"
Dewey and Howe jumped up from their seats and began to cheer. So did Misty and Tracey.
"Uh, does this mean we won?" Ash asked.
"It sure does, kid!" said Howe.
Cheatum slowly returned to his seat and exhaled loudly as he buried his face in his hands. It was a well-earned victory, but at the same time, it had cost him dearly.
"How could you say somethin' like that, Quentin?" Judith demanded as she and her husband exited the courthouse. "You were on the stand, for pity's sake!"
"But I was under oath, Judith!" Quentin cried.
"So what?!" she snapped. "It's not like we were plannin' on tellin' the truth anyway!"
"You didn't see that man's eyes!" he said, beginning to shudder. "There was somethin' about those eyes...somethin' that saw straight into me. I had no choice...."
Judith whacked him over the head with her parasol. "You and your excuses! We lost our last chance to get somethin' worthwhile out of James because of you!"
"Well, I didn't see YOU up there!" Quentin shot back, rubbing his sore head. "Besides, we can always file for a retrial!"
"I'm afraid it won't be that easy," Preston S. Beauregarde III broke in. "Even if we file suit today, as slow as the courts are, it probably won't come to trial until after your son turns eighteen. And by then, it'll be too late."
"Dammit, Quentin, what did I tell you?!" Judith shouted.
"And I'm tellin' you it ain't my fault!" Quentin insisted. "Charles Cheatum had crazy eyes! You'd have cracked, too, if you saw that look he gave me! God, it's like he knew about every word we ever spoke to James...everything we ever did to him...I couldn't hide nothin' from that man, Judith, and I don't think you could have, either. There was just somethin' about him...about those eyes...."
Meanwhile, Ash and his friends were still milling in the empty courtroom with Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe.
"Wow! That was really impressive, the way you got the Woodsons to confess like that!" Tracey remarked.
"Yeah!" said Misty. "How did you do it?"
"And how can we repay you?" Ash asked.
The three lawyers exchanged glances.
"It was easier than you might imagine," Dewey replied.
With that, they tore off the attorney disguises once again.
"Auuuuugh! It's Team Rocket!" Ash whined when he saw who they really were.
"Heh! Who were ya expectin' kid? The Three Stooges?" Meowth asked.
Tracey smirked. "You mean there's a difference?"
Jessie scowled. "Hey, fatso! Is that any way to talk to us after we just saved your little twerp friend?!"
"She's got a point, Tracey," Misty told him. "That wasn't very nice of you."
"You're right. I'm sorry," he said.
"Hmmmph!" Jessie huffed, turning away.
"But why?" Ash asked them. "Why did you help me?"
"It's not about you," James replied. "I just didn't want my parents using me to get more money."
"And speakin' of money," said Meowth. "Ya asked how you can repay us? I think $6,000 oughtta do the trick."
"$6,000?!" Ash cried. "Are you crazy?!"
"Hey, kid, we spent the last few days workin' on yer case! The way we see it, you owe us at least dat much in legal fees!" the cat retorted.
"Yeah! We don't work pro bono!" Jessie added.
Ash blinked. "Uh, what does that guy from U2 have to do with any of this?"
"Ash, pro bono means when a lawyer takes a case for free," Tracey whispered to him.
"Oh," he muttered. Then, his expression grew angry. "But you're not lawyers, you're Team Rocket! I don't have to pay you anything!" he snapped.
"That's where you're wrong, twerp!" said Jessie. "We provided a valuable service, which means that we deserve compensation!"
James grinned. "Yeah! And we just defeated one of the slickest lawyers around! Do you really think you'd stand a chance against us in Claims Court?"
"They're right, Ash," said Misty. "You do owe them. Better just pay up and avoid another lawsuit."
"Fine," Ash growled. "I'll call my mom and get her to write you a check."
The three members of Dream-Team Rocket smiled victoriously at each other.
Chapter 4 -- Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt
After cashing the $6,000 check that Mrs. Ketchum sent, Jessie, James, and Meowth put most of it in the bank. Then, they bought tickets for a three day cruise aboard a luxury ocean-liner.
"Hey! Dey've got an all-ya-can-eat buffet table!" Meowth remarked as he looked at his brochure. "Unlimited food! Whaddaya' say, Jimmy?!"
James smiled weakly. "You go ahead, Meowth. I'd like to change clothes first."
"Okay. See ya dere!" the cat said, taking his leave.
James then picked up his backpack and headed for their state room.
There may have been a smile on his face, but something about the look in his eyes told Jessie that he was troubled. So instead of going with Meowth, she followed him.
When Jessie arrived at their room, she found James sitting on the bed. His face was buried in his hands.
He gave no reply.
"James, what's the matter?"
"Come on, James, why are you so upset?" she asked, seating herself next to him. "We're on vacation, where we don't have to worry about anything for a few days, we defeated your parents, and best of all, we made a fortune off of the brat in the process! We won! So what is there to be sad about?"
Then, Jessie realized something.
"This is about what your father said, isn't it?"
Jessie placed a hand on his shoulder. "James, you know your parents don't love you -- you've always known that! They drove you away when you were a child, and they were using you to become even richer today! Why are you letting this get to you?"
"I don't know," he replied, a tear rolling down his cheek. "I guess...I guess there was always a glimmer of hope inside of me that...that maybe deep down, they really did care. But...but after hearing my dad say it out loud...say it to my face? Well, I guess it sort of drove the point home. They don't love me -- they never have, and they never will. I'm just a failure...."
Jessie put her arms around him. "James, that's not true! Today I saw you outsmart not only your parents and the twerps, but one of the dirtiest lawyers around! It took real brains to do that!"
"You think so?"
"I know so," she told him. "You're smarter than you give yourself credit for, James. You're one of the smartest people that I know, and the sweetest, and the most handsome...."
James smiled at her, and she pulled him into her lap.
"You're the greatest guy in the world," Jessie continued, running her fingers through his silky blue-violet hair. "And if your parents are too stupid and blind to see what a wonderful son they have, well, they don't deserve the privilege of calling you their son -- you're too good for them!"
James returned her embrace and rested his head on her shoulder. "I know, but it still hurts," he muttered. "I mean, they're my parents! I thought parents were supposed to love their children no matter what!"
"They are," said Jessie. "But that doesn't always mean they do. Life can be unfair, James -- just look at us! You have two parents, but they care nothing for you. And me? I had a mother who loved me with all her heart and soul, but I lost her forever. That's just the way things are sometimes...."
"But why, Jessie?" he whimpered. "Why does life have to be so unfair?"
"I don't know," she whispered. "I don't know. But I do know that just because you get off to a bad start doesn't mean your whole life has to be that way. I mean, sure we both got off to rough starts, but I like to think that because of our friendship...because of our love, we've made better lives for ourselves."
"But I'm just so afraid!" he cried. "Jessie, I don't know what it's like to have parents who love me. What if that makes me screw things up with my own kids?! I don't want to do that!"
"You won't," she told him. "James, you're going to be such a great father when our children are born! There is so much love in your heart, just waiting to be shared!"
These words seemed to calm him. "Our children. I love the sound of that," he said softly.
"See! We're not even parents yet -- and hopefully won't be for another few years -- but you love our children already!" Jessie exclaimed. "You won't make the same mistakes that your mother and father did, James -- you know that what they've done to you is wrong...which means that you'll know how to do things better than they did. Hell! You're already doing a better job than them! So, don't be sad about the past anymore. I know I'm not...because now I know that there's a reason why you and I had such difficult childhoods."
"Why is that?" he asked.
"So that we could learn," she told him. "James, you and I have suffered so that our children won't have to! If dealing with a little pain means that we can give our children a lifetime of happiness, then that makes it all worthwhile!"
James smiled at her once again. "You're right, Jess! You're right!"
Jessie nodded. "None of us have any control over the family that we're born into, but that family isn't going to be around forever. Eventually, we each have to set out on our own...make families of our own. Families that we do have the freedom to choose," she continued. "James, to me, the two of us, Meowth, and our pokemon...we're like a family. With all we've been through together, I think it binds us so much closer than friendship ever could!"
"Yeah! Yeah, we are like a family, aren't we?" said James.
"Yes," Jessie replied. "We're a family because we all love each other and stick together no matter what! And when we have kids, they'll be a part of this family, too...and the love will just keep growing."
James smiled more widely than ever now. "You're right! I shouldn't be so upset about what my parents did because they're not my family anymore -- this is my family now!"
Jessie smoothed his hair back and kissed him tenderly on the forehead. "And nothing is ever going to change that. James, what happened in that courtroom today proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt -- you had the courage to stand up to your parents once and for all! And now that you know how they really feel, they don't have any more power over you! They can't use or manipulate you ever again!"
James nodded. "Yeah. We finally found the love and acceptance we've spent our entire lives in search of...so all of the bad things that happened in the past don't mean anything anymore," he agreed. "All that's left is to embrace the present and look forward to our future!"
Jessie smiled and pulled him into another embrace. "Exactly! So, do you feel better now?"
James returned the embrace. "I sure do!"
"Then I rest my case!" she laughed.
The two of them held each other as close as they possibly could and pressed their lips together in a passionate kiss. They stayed that way for several minutes, knowing that the pain and heartbreak of their pasts was gone and that they were safe now. Nothing would ever hurt them again, as long as they had each other.
The case-writer grinned when she was done looking over Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe's submission. She had killed a good hour reading it, and she had enjoyed every second!
It wasn't every day she came across a case like this. Usually it was just rear-end collisions or premises liability, where some klutz would trip on his own foot and sue the owner of the property. It was a rare case, indeed, that grabbed her attention so.
I bet I could write a story about this! she thought as she looked over the papers one more time. A case like this deserves no less!
But then, she looked at the tiny text window on her computer screen and remembered that she had to stick to the bare facts. It was painful to sacrifice all of those details, but she did want to be able to collect her paycheck on Friday, so she forced herself to.
Still, the temptation to tell the whole tale was too great to resist, so when it was finally time for her break, she opened WordPad and began to type.
And who knows? Maybe her retelling would turn out to be an okay story. But all the lawyers who bought the legal documents she wrote for a living would ever get to see of it was:
A 17-year-old male pokemon trainer suffered electric shock, cervical, thoracic and lumbar strain, multiple burns, contusions and abrasions to the body, and emotional distress when he was attacked by the pokemon owned by the 10-year-old male defendant pokemon trainer. The plaintiff contended that the defendant utilized his pokemon in a negligent manner by training them to willfully and maliciously assault the minor. The defendant denied negligence and denied causing the minor plaintiff's injuries. The defendant further contended that he acted in self-defense and that the minor plaintiff assumed the risk of injury. The minor plaintiff's parents were found to be 100 percent negligent, and judgement was rendered in favor of the defendant.
Special thanks to my friend, Jupiter, for the cute "what you didn't see" illustration of Jessie, James, and Meowth enjoying a little vacation before Ash's trial! ^_^
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