A Phony Matrimony?!
by Cori Falls
It started out as another typical day for Team Rocket...and ended as anything but! I'm tempted to spare you the gory details of the day's crappy beginning and just cut straight to the good part, but my story wouldn't make much sense if I did that, so here goes....
It all began that morning, when our travels brought us to a little town on the road to Olivine City. We'd come to this town because we'd heard that there was a huge pokemon lab in the area...and we wanted to capture the pokemon!
Everything went smoothly when we arrived at the lab. We caught all the pokemon in nets, recited our motto, outsmarted the twerps (who just so happened ta be the special guests of the professor who owned the lab...go figure), and made a clean getaway. Unfortunately, when we got to safety, we learned that during our escape, the net lines had been severed, and instead of capturing the pokemon, we'd captured the professor's daughter!
And that's when things got really strange.
As we landed the balloon and discovered that we'd lost our nets, Temacu tumbled out of the basket. Before she could hit the ground, however, James caught her and helped her back to her feet. And when Temacu looked up at James, she fell madly in love with him and started babbling about how he was her knight in shining armor and how she wanted to marry him!
It wasn't really Temacu's behavior that struck me as odd. (As sweet and handsome as he is, I'm surprised MORE girls don't throw demselves at James like dat! Of course, I guess most girls can tell dat he's already taken and think better of incurrin' the jealous wrath of Jessie.) I'll admit this chick was pretty dense to not realize that James already had a girlfriend, but having a crush on him wasn't weird at all. No, if anybody around here was acting weird, it was Jessie!
While Temacu was grabbing at James and talking relentlessly about their wedding, Jessie didn't even bat an eyelash! Normally, she gets pissed if another girl even LOOKS at James, but this time, she looked like she didn't care...and she even made a remark that James had himself a girlfriend! What the hell was going on?!
When Temacu declared herself his fiance, poor James looked like he was going to have a heart attack! He started screaming that the f-word gave him the heebie-jeebies, and he scrambled up a nearby tree to escape the grasp of this love-struck lunatic. I could tell from the look of terror in his emerald eyes that he was probably having a nasty flashback about Jessiebelle.
Just as I was about to ask Jessie if she was going to bitch-slap this bimbo into the next millenium for daring to even think of coming between her and James, she pulled me aside and told me that if we could get James to marry Temacu, then it would be the perfect chance for us to capture all the pokemon in the lab. For a moment, I thought Jess had completely lost her mind, but as I looked into her eyes, I realized what was going on.
Jessie wasn't jealous because she knew that there was nothing to be jealous of! She could tell that James had no interest in Temacu and that the idea of leaving us to marry her repulsed him. Not even Hell freezing over or Swinub learning how to fly would make James fall in love with another woman -- as insistent as Temacu was, she wasn't a threat...and Jessie knew it! She wasn't upset because she was confident that their relationship was strong enough to withstand this test. She wasn't jealous because she trusted James enough to know that he'd never leave her or be unfaithful. And since she was so secure in the knowledge that Temacu didn't stand a chance with James, Jessie simply wanted to take advantage of the opportunity that was being presented to us.
James, however, didn't share her enthusiasm. When Jessie came to Temacu's side and congratulated her on her engagement to James, the poor guy looked like he'd just been stabbed through the heart. He reluctantly decided to go along with the plan when Jess explained that he didn't really have to marry Temacu and that all he had to do was distract her and the professor for a couple of hours. Jessie assured him that once we captured the pokemon, we could leave, and he'd never have to see Temacu again, but he still didn't look too thrilled. I know James well enough to know that he hates toying with peoples' emotions...and that he hates the idea of himself with any woman but Jessie.
This was definitely one of our diciest plans to date...but it was just crazy enough to work.
And our plan did, indeed, work for awhile. After we changed out of our Team Rocket uniforms, we took Temacu back to her father, and Jessie explained how brave, handsome James had battled valiantly to save the girl from two evil Team Rocket agents. While James kept everybody distracted, Jessie and I went and raided the lab. As we were about to find James and make our getaway, however, Temacu's father invited us to stay for dinner. Not wanting to seem rude (and never able ta pass up free food), we accepted the invitation.
Unfortunately, the twerps returned to the lab while we were eating dinner...and Misty was finally able to recognize Jessie and James without their Team Rocket uniforms. (Took dose stupid kids long enough, didn't it?!) When the brats started making a big stink about what a cad James was for tricking Temacu into falling in love with him (never mind dat he was the LAST person in the world who wanted ta do dis), we decided that it was time to leave.
Now that our cover was blown, however, they didn't want to let us get away. As we tried to make our escape, the twerps gave chase and battled us. Arbok and Weezing were beaten by Ash's pokemon, and the brats took back the pokemon we'd stolen. But that still wasn't good enough for them -- once we'd been defeated, that little bitch, Misty, commanded her pokemon to attack James! (Honestly! Why were dose assholes bein' so mean ta poor James?! All he did was keep Temacu from fallin' on her face -- it ain't his fault she noticed how gentlemanly and handsome he is and fell in love with him! I guess he's livin' proof dat no good deed goes unpunished.) When Temacu saw that James was being attacked, she jumped in the path of the Water Gun in order to protect him. We were unharmed by the blast (not dat a piddly little Water Gun attack could ever do anythin' ta hurt us anyway), but Temacu was sent flying and fell to the ground, unconscious.
And when that happened, Ash went even crazier than he already is and started screaming about how he was going to make us pay for what we'd done to her! (Excuse me, shit-for-brains! We wasn't the ones who attacked Temacu! It was Misty's fault she got hurt, not ours! Besides, it ain't like we was usin' Temacu as a human shield or makin' her take the blow for us -- she CHOSE ta do it! I swear, dose fuckin' twerps are a buncha sadists!) He got his Chikorita to strangle poor Arbok and Weezing and slam them into Jessie and James. Then, he and Misty hit us with a double-whammy and got Pikachu and Poliwhirl to blast us away with an electric Water Gun combo.
Like I said. Another typical day.
After our blast-off, we landed in the woods and made our way back to the Team Rocket safe-house where we'd spent the previous night. Jessie and James didn't speak a word to each other on the way to the cabin, but I could tell that something ugly was festering beneath the silence. (And I sure as hell didn't wanna be around when it came to a head!)
When we arrived at the cabin, James stormed into the bedroom and slammed the door behind him. Jessie, meanwhile, put one of her Stabbing Westward CDs in the stereo and flopped down on the couch as Violent Mood Swings began to play at full-blast. Wanting to stay out of the way, I went into the kitchen to find a snack for myself and feed James's baby Articuno.
The baby cheeped at me and flapped his little wings as I brought him out of his poke ball.
"Mommy and daddy ain't feelin' well tonight, so uncle Meowth is gonna feed ya dinner instead," I told him.
As I got a bag of pokemon treats from the refrigerator and began to feed the baby, James came back out of the bedroom. "Will you please turn that down?! I'm trying to sleep!" he shouted.
Jessie scowled at him and turned the stereo off. "Fine. Jeez, what's your problem?" she grumbled.
James scowled back and turned away from her. "If you have to ask...."
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I DO!" she snapped, jumping to her feet. "How the hell am I supposed to know what's bugging you if you don't talk to me?! I can't read your mind all the time, you know!"
A fire sparked in James's eyes as he turned to face her again. "Take a wild guess what's bugging me, Jessica! Take a wild goddamned guess!"
I cringed. It's a rare occasion when James gets angry enough to raise his voice...and he was furious now! "I don't think you need ta be hearin' dis," I whispered as I placed my paws on either side of the baby bird's head.
"This isn't about Temacu, is it?" Jessie huffed.
"BINGO!" came his reply.
Jessie's eyes widened. "James, don't tell me you're still upset about that fake wedding plan! You KNOW I wouldn't have made you go through with it! Why are you so bent out of shape about this?!"
"Well, how the hell do you expect me to react, Jessie?!" James demanded. "That bimbo was all over me, and I was looking for you to throw me a lifeline! But what did you do instead?! You threw me like a piece of meat to a den of wolves, that's what!"
Jessie rolled her eyes. "Oh, yeah. A ditzy, fickle teeny-bopper who passes out when she gets wet! That's SUCH a den of wolves! How on earth did you manage to survive, James?!"
"That's not the point!" he shouted.
"Then what is?!" she cried.
James ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "I can't believe you! I can't believe you think so little of our relationship that the thought of me marrying another woman doesn't even bother you!"
Jessie looked as if James had just slapped her across the face when he said this.
"I wanted to capture the pokemon in that lab just as much as you did -- I'll give you that," he continued. "But why did you have to make a total mockery of our love in order to do it?!"
Now Jessie looked angry again. "Me?! What about you, Mister Don't say 'fiance,' that word gives me the heebie-jeebies?!" she shouted.
"NO! Don't you DARE make this my fault, Jessie!" he shot back. "That fiance-phobia had NOTHING to do with you -- I was referring to Jessiebelle, and you know it!"
Jessie bit her lip and turned away from him.
"And that's why I'm so upset!" he told her. "Our relationship is the most important thing in the world to me, but it's like you don't even care! You would've had me marry Temacu, just so you could catch a few lousy pokemon...just like the time you tried to make me marry Jessiebelle so that you could get your hands on my parents' money! You have no idea how much you hurt me on that day, Jessie...and you hurt me like that again today!"
I could see tears welling up in Jessie's sapphire eyes. "You don't understand...." she whispered.
"Oh, I understand, alright!" he interjected. "You used me, Jessie! You put me in a really uncomfortable position, and you didn't even care enough to be bothered by what that tramp was doing to me!"
"STOP IT!!!" Jessie screamed as the tears began to spill down her cheeks. "That's not what it was at all!"
"Then what was it?" James demanded. "Tell me!"
"James, I KNEW that little flake wasn't going to get anywhere with you! I saw that you weren't interested in her, and I knew that I didn't have anything to worry about! It wasn't because I don't care -- it was because I trust you enough to know that I didn't need to be jealous!" she explained.
James's expression softened when he heard this.
Jessie shook her head as more tears fell from her eyes. "James, I'm so sorry. I...I didn't know you were still mad at me about Jessiebelle. When you saved me from Ayesha last week, you told me that you wanted me to leave all of those things from the past behind. But how can I do that? How can I forgive myself for something you haven't forgiven me for yet?"
James reached over and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Jess, I didn't mean it like that," he said quietly. "I'm not angry with you about Jessiebelle -- I never was. I wouldn't have come back to you that night if I hadn't forgiven you. And I still mean what I told you last week -- I don't want you to punish yourself for things that don't matter anymore."
Jessie sniffled and closed her hand over his.
"All I'm saying is that it's still possible to hurt somebody, even when you don't mean to," he continued. "Even though you hurt me on that day, I know you didn't mean to, and I forgave you. But answer me this, Jessie. If you know that what you did to me then was a mistake, and you regret it, then why did you make the exact same mistake today? Why did you hurt me like that again?"
Jessie closed her eyes and exhaled in a ragged breath. "You're going to think this sounds so lame," she whispered.
"Try me," he whispered back.
After a long pause, Jessie opened her eyes again. "I...I honestly didn't think I was making the same mistake," she told him.
James raised an eyebrow.
"I didn't see Temacu as somebody who'd hurt you or frighten you the way Jessiebelle did, and I knew that our love for each other was strong enough that she wouldn't be able to come between us," she explained. "That's why I didn't think it'd be a big deal for you to feign interest in her for a couple hours. And I even said that you didn't have to marry her. I thought you knew that...."
"Yes, but it's not nice to toy with people," he replied. "Even if she was shallow and fickle, that girl still liked me for awhile -- it made me feel sleazy to take advantage of that. That's what your old boyfriends were like, Jess -- they toyed with you and tossed you aside the moment they realized you weren't going to give them what they wanted. I thought you, of all people, would've known how wrong that is."
Jessie buried her face in her hands and began to cry again.
James put one of his arms around her waist and cupped her chin in his free hand. "I'm not that kind of man...and I never want to be that kind of man!" he told her as his eyes began to fill with tears, too. "Our love is so precious to me, Jessie -- I don't ever want anybody or anything to make a mockery of it or cheapen what we have! I love you too much for that."
"I love you, too," Jessie muttered as she returned his embrace. "Please forgive me, James."
James smiled tenderly at her. "Of course I forgive you, angel...but only if you forgive yourself."
Jessie smiled back and hugged him more tightly than ever.
As the two of them sat down together on the couch, I found myself smiling, too. I was glad that they'd worked this misunderstanding out and talked to each other right away instead of shutting each other out until things became explosive the way they used to when their relationship was just beginning. They've always been a great couple, but they're a better couple now than they were in the past -- they'd made the transition from teenage love to a serious adult relationship. And as I watched them continue to hug each other and share a healing cry, I suddenly got an idea!
I removed my paws from the baby bird's head and grinned. "Kiddo, I do believe I'm havin' a genius moment!"
The baby gave me a quizzical look. "Cheep?"
I winked at him and jumped down from the table. "Just sit back and watch yer uncle Meowth in action!"
When I went into the living room, I saw that Jessie and James had stopped crying. They were still in each other's arms, and their lips were locked in a tender kiss.
"Heh. Am I safe in assumin' dat the knock-down drag-out fight is over?" I asked.
Jessie and James drew their lips apart and looked down at me.
"Leave us alone, Meowth," Jessie muttered as she brushed the last of her tears away.
"Yeah," James chimed in. "We don't need you lecturing us about our fighting!"
"I ain't here ta lecture ya or make fun of ya," I told them. "Truth be told, I'm proud of youse guys."
"Proud of us?" they said in unison.
"Look, every couple argues now and den -- dat just comes with the territory. I'd be more worried about youse guys if you was happy-happy joy-joy all the time," I explained. "I'm proud of ya cuz when ya argue nowadays, yer a lot more mature about it den ya use ta be. I think youse guys have grown up a lot since gettin' tagedda."
This made them smile again.
"Which is why I wanted ta talk to ya," I continued. "I have an idea for how youse guys can prevent another fight like dis from happenin' and ensure dat nobody ever comes between ya again."
Jessie raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"Do tell!" James exclaimed.
I folded my arms across my chest and grinned at them. "Well, since yer always talkin' about how ya wanna get married someday...and ya already act like an old married couple, argue like an old married couple, and make up like an old married couple...."
The two of them leaned closer. "Mmm hmm? Mmm hmm?"
"Why don't ya just go ahead and get married, already?!" I concluded.
"G-g-g-get married?! Now?!" Jessie stammered. "Meowth, you can't be serious!"
"Yeah!" James cried. "We're only eighteen, and...."
"And dat means yer both legally adults!" I argued. "What's wrong? Ya think yer too young now, but bein' in yer twenties is automatically gonna make ya ready for marriage? If yer old enough ta make love all the time and be engaged ta be engaged, den yer old enough ta go a step further and tie the knot, I say!"
"That's not what I meant," he said.
"Den, what did ya mean?" I asked.
"I just mean that we can't afford it yet," came his reply. "Believe me, Jessie and I are physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared to get married...but we're NOT financially prepared! I want to give Jess the best wedding money can buy, and I'm NOT compromising on that! But it's going to take a couple more years of saving before that can happen. I thought you understood this, Meowth."
"I do! And dat's the beauty-part of dis whole plan!" I told him. "You and Jess can have a weddin' now, and it won't get in the way of yer dream-weddin' when ya finally are ready!"
Now they looked confused.
I gave them a sly smile. "Aw, come on, guys! Don't tell me dat with all the fake weddin' schemes we've cooked up before, ya never once thought about havin' a fake weddin' for yerselves!"
"A fake wedding?" they said in unison.
"Sure!" I replied. "It don't need ta be nothin' big, expensive, or fancy cuz it's fake! Matter a fact, the more cheap and absurd it is, the better! Plus, it'll be a great way for youse guys ta practice for yer real weddin' and renew yer commitment ta each other...and it's a good excuse for us ta call a buncha our old friends and have a party! I can't think of a better way for us ta celebrate our friendship and love! And den, a couple years down the road, when ya are financially prepared, you can still have yer dream-weddin'!"
"You know, this actually sounds like a good idea," Jessie remarked.
James nodded. "It sounds like it'll be a lot of fun! Romantic, too!" he agreed. "This is your best plan ever, Meowth!"
I buffed my claws on my fur and smiled proudly.
"That settles it!" James exclaimed. With that, he got down on one knee and took Jessie's hand in his own. "Jessica?"
Jessie blushed. "Yes, James?"
"Will you pretend to marry me?"
She nodded and put her arms around him. "Yes, James! I'd love to be your fake wife!"
"So, we're definitely doin' dis?" I ventured as James scooped Jessie into his arms and pressed his lips to hers again.
"Definitely!" Jessie replied between kisses.
"We'll start making arrangements in the morning," said James. "But first, Jessie and I have some...other business to attend to."
"Like havin' some super-hot make up sex for dat fight ya had earlier?" I snickered.
James nodded and began carrying Jessie to the bedroom. "Yes. And after that, some super-hot fake engagement sex! I think I'm going to be up all night!" he quipped.
"Oh, James!" Jessie giggled.
I winked at them. "Have fun!"
"Oh, we will!" they replied.
Once they'd closed the bedroom door, I went back to the kitchen and seated myself at the table. The baby was still munching on pokemon treats.
"What'd I tell ya, Junior? Yer uncle Meowth is a genius!" I said to him.
He stopped eating and nodded approvingly.
"Now I just need ta figure out how we're gonna do dis fake weddin'!" I continued.
The baby preened his downy feathers for a moment and looked back at me. "Cheep! Cheep!" he said.
"Yeah, I know it's gonna be low-budget, but it's still gonna be a lotta work!" I replied. "I need ta get a guest list tagedda, and I've gotta decide on a time and place for dis thing before I can mail out the invitations...and I need ta get Jess and Jim's approval on all dat -- since it's dere weddin', dey have the final say on everythin'. Jeez, den dere's the caterin', the rings, reception activities...suddenly, yer uncle Meowth don't feel like such a genius anymore...."
Articuno cocked his head and went back to eating.
I waved my paw at him. "Ah, what am I tellin' you for? Yer too young ta understand," I groaned.
At that moment, one of Jessie's poke balls rolled out of her backpack, and Wobbuffet emerged. Hey, Meowth. What's up? he asked.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw him. "Wobbu! Boy, am I glad ta see you!"
Heh. That's a first, he said sardonically. Where are Jessie and James?
I facefaulted as the sound of Jessie and James blissfully moaning each other's names and crying out in ecstasy reverberated from the bedroom. "Do I really need ta answer dat question?"
Wobbuffet smirked. Ah. I thought I heard them fighting earlier. Now I guess they're making up!
I smiled again. "Oh, it's more den just make up sex dis time, Wobbu!"
What do you mean? he queried.
My smile became a grin. "Wobbuffet, my friend, Jessie and James are gettin' married!" I announced. "Jimmy just popped the question, and Jess said yes!"
Now Wobbuffet was grinning, too. Really?! That's wonderful! he cheered. I know they've been planning this for ages, and now it's finally happening!
"Well, sort of," I said. "Dey ain't officially gettin' married just yet. Dis is gonna be more of a fake weddin' ceremony."
Wobbuffet's grin faded. A fake wedding?! Egad, man, what's the point?!
"Dere's several, actually," I replied. I then proceeded to tell him everything that I'd told Jessie and James.
Hey, you're right! This really is a great idea! he remarked once I'd finished explaining everything to him.
"Yeah, but it does put me in a difficult position," I sighed. "I hafta get ta work on plannin' dis thing and gettin' it all organized, but I don't even know where ta begin...and dere ain't much I can do without Jess and Jim. Dey said dey'd start makin' arrangements in the mornin', but I kinda wanted ta get started on it now."
Too excited to wait, huh? he chuckled.
I felt my face getting hot. "Precisely."
He laughed. Well, you've been waiting for this day a lot longer than I have! Hell! I'm as excited as all get out about this, so I can only imagine how you feel!
I smiled at him. "No kiddin'! Just be glad ya didn't hafta put up with dose two back in the days when dey was just friends! I tell ya, nothin' was more frustratin' den seein' 'em madly in love with each other but too afraid ta say or do anythin' about it!"
Yes, you've told me this horror-story many a time, Wobbuffet replied.
"Dat I have," I told him. "So, let's get back ta the subject at hand -- how the hell do I get started on plannin' dis weddin'?!"
Wobbuffet thought for a moment. Well, you said yourself that we can't make any big decisions without Jessie and James, so why don't we just brainstorm for now? he suggested. We can probably come up with a ton of ideas, and then we can get Jessie and James's input in the morning.
"Good thinkin'," I replied. "I've already got a few ideas, too!"
Really? Like what? he prompted.
"Well, it's prolly gonna take me awhile ta think of everybody who actually likes us and would wanna attend, but I do have some definites for our guest list," I explained.
Like your friends, Mondo, Annie, and Oakley? he asked.
I nodded. "Yeah! We can't have a party without dose three! Plus, Annie's got a keyboard -- she can play the music durin' the ceremony! And Oakley would be the perfect minister!"
See! We're making progress already! Wobbuffet exclaimed. And I think I have an idea, too!
"Really? Let's hear it!" I said.
You know those rings we were gonna give Jessie and James for Christmas?
"Ya mean the stockin'-stuffers?"
He nodded. We can probably use them for wedding rings since the ceremony isn't going to be real!
"Yeah! Dose would be perfect!" I agreed. "Why don't ya go get 'em?"
Wobbuffet saluted me and went back into the living room. Once he was gone, I took out a piece of paper and started jotting down potential guests, tentative times and locations, and various other details.
When Wobbuffet returned a few minutes later, he set the rings on the table and grinned at me. Here ya go!
I grinned too as I picked the rings up and examined them. They were both made of clear plastic with silver sparkles. Jessie's ring was red with a big heart in the setting, and James's ring was green with a big shamrock in the setting. Silly and inexpensive, yet fun and stylish -- they were ideal for a fake wedding! "Oh, yeah!" I exclaimed. "We've got weddin' rings!"
Articuno cocked his head at us. "Cheep! Cheep!"
"Hey! Who're you callin' cheap?!" I asked. "Wobbu and I had ta eat twenty boxes a Lucky Clovers, mail in the cereal box tops, AND pay $2.95 shippin' and handlin' ta get dese babies! Dey're the best glittery plastic money can buy!"
Yeah! They were worth every penny! Wobbuffet chimed in. Though we're probably gonna have to eat another twenty boxes and send away for the blue moon ring and the purple horseshoe ring so that we can still have something to give Jessie and James at Christmas....
"Yep. Sometimes friendship means makin' sacrifices," I sighed.
So true, my friend, Wobbuffet chuckled. So true.
And that's how Wobbuffet and I spent the rest of the night -- brainstorming and coming up with ideas for Jessie and James's fake wedding. It was going to be a lot of work, but I knew that it'd all be worth it.
I awoke the next morning to the warm, sweet aroma of baking pastries. As my vision came into focus, I saw Jessie and James seated across from me at the kitchen table. Jessie was sitting in James's lap, and the two of them had their arms around each other. Their lips were locked in a passionate kiss.
"I love you, Jessie...my beautiful fiance," James whispered when their kiss ended.
Jessie ran her fingers through his blue-violet hair and smiled. "I'm glad that word doesn't give you the heebie-jeebies anymore," she whispered back.
James placed a hand on her cheek and gently caressed her face. "It only scares me when a woman I don't love uses it," he told her. "But when it refers to you, the only word I can think of that's more wonderful is wife!"
"I love you, James...you big flatterer!" Jessie sighed as their lips met again.
"Ahem. I hope youse guys ain't plannin' on doin' what I think yer plannin' on doin' -- people eat here, ya know!" I said as James laid Jessie down on the table and started to undo her robe.
Seeing that I was awake, the two of them blushed and released each other.
"Well, good morning to you, too," Jessie grumbled, closing her robe again and blushing more brightly than ever.
I laughed. "And how're the happy newlyweds-ta-be on dis fine mornin'?"
"We're okay...though we didn't get much sleep last night," James replied as he took Jessie in his arms once more and planted a kiss on her neck.
Jessie blushed again and giggled when he did this.
"Looks like you were busy, too," he continued, pointing to the stack of notes in front of me.
I grinned. "Yep! Me and Wobbu and the baby was up til who knows when makin' plans! We didn't get too much done since we need yer opinions, but we did get youse guys some rings and compile a guest list."
"Yeah! We saw the rings," James chuckled. "Very nice!"
"And we'll go over some of the other stuff after breakfast," Jessie promised.
"Speakin' a which, what are we havin' for breakfast?" I asked.
"Cheese danish. Jess and I made them from scratch," came James's reply. "And they should be done any minute now!"
My mouth began to water when he said this. Nobody makes better cheese danish than James, and we hadn't had a treat like that since our stay at the Sunflora Lodge! Today promised to be a good day!
Suddenly, the oven timer went off, and Jessie and James jumped from their seat. While James pulled the pastries out of the oven and set them on a platter, Jessie mixed up some powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk in a large bowl. Once they were cool enough, Jessie and James drizzled the glaze onto the danishes and brought them to the table.
"Breakfast is served!" James announced.
The sound of his voice and the aroma of the food roused Wobbuffet and Articuno from their slumber, and their mouths began to water, too.
Jessie laughed as she fixed a plate for Wobbuffet and took a danish for herself. "So, let's take a look at this guest list, Meowth," she said.
James seated the baby bird on his lap and fed him a piece of pastry. "Yeah! Let's see how many friends we have."
I nodded and handed the list to them.
"Hmmm...yeah, we definitely want to invite Mondo, Annie, and Oakley," James said as he perused the list.
"Oh, I was thinkin' we could have Annie play her keyboard and Oakley perform the ceremony," I told them.
"Yeah! They'd be perfect!" Jessie agreed. "I bet Oakley would come up with a hilarious sermon!"
"You know what would be even funnier?" James asked.
Jessie gave him a quizzical look. "What?"
"If he wears his Dungeons & Dragons costume, too!"
"Yeah! That cleric robe would be perfect!"
Now they were laughing.
I grinned as I listened to them. Aw, man! Dis is gonna be a riot! I said to myself.
"Ooohhh! I just thought of another idea!" Jessie exclaimed.
"What?" James queried.
"You know that song, Aniron, on our Lord of the Rings soundtrack?"
"I want Annie to play that while I'm walking down the aisle instead of Here Comes the Bride!" she replied.
James became starry-eyed! "That's a wonderful idea, Jess! It's the perfect song for us!"
Jessie laughed again. "We're geeks, aren't we?"
James draped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Yes...but I wouldn't have it any other way!"
"Ah, who cares?" I told them. "The geekier, the better, I say!"
The two of them smiled at me again and went back to perusing the guest list.
"Hmmm...Lulu, Rachel, Terra, Celes, Rhiannon, Laine...yeah, I think they'd all want to come to our wedding!" Jessie said.
James nodded. "And let's not forget Gary, Cairdea, Emanuela, Simone, Cassandra, Sofia, and Marcello. Wow. I never knew we had so many friends!"
Jessie looked at the list again and raised an eyebrow. "The Cat Islanders? Are they those people who thougt you were the Great Meowth of Bounty?"
I grinned sheepishly. "Uh...I put 'em down as a maybe. I...well...dey really liked Me-owth...and I'm sure dey woulda liked youse guys too if I hadn't commanded 'em ta throw ya offa the island. I thought, since dis is gonna be such a happy day for me, it'd be nice if I could invite a few of 'em so dey could share my happiness and see what wonderful friends ya are," I explained. "But if ya don't want...."
James placed a hand on my head and silenced me. "Go ahead and keep them on the list," he said. "Inviting them to share in your friendship and happiness is a wonderful gesture...and it's a much greater bounty than money will ever be."
Jessie reached over and scratched behind my ears. "James is right -- you really are the Great Meowth of Bounty!"
Tears filled my eyes as I smiled up at my two friends. "Thank you," I whispered.
They smiled back and looked at the list again.
"Hmmm...the boss isn't on here," James remarked. "Shouldn't we invite him, too?"
"James, do you really think the boss would be interested in something like this?" Jessie asked.
"You're right, Jess -- he'd just think it's a bunch of nonsense," James sighed. "Okay, forget the boss."
Suddenly, Jessie frowned. "I have a question, Meowth."
Uh, oh. "Yeah?" I said.
"Why do you have Officer Jenny listed as a guest?" she asked.
"It was three in the mornin' when I was writin' dis thing! Gimmie a break!" I grumbled.
"Being half-asleep is no excuse!" she snapped. "Why the hell would the thought of inviting somebody who's always out to get us even cross your mind?! Jeez, you might as well invite the twerps, too!"
"Dat ain't what I meant!" I retorted. "I meant dat I shoulda been more specific about which Officer Jenny it is."
"What difference does it make? Every single Officer Jenny out there hates us!" she argued.
"Not the one from The Big Orange. She seemed ta like us just fine, if I recall correctly," I explained. "She even wanted ta give us a reward for helpin' her bring Botch and Crappidy ta justice, and she was sorry ta see us go!"
"Hey, you're right," said James.
"Anyway, I just thought it'd be nice ta invite her, seein' as how she's one a the few people out dere who actually gave us a chance," I continued.
Jessie and James exchanged looks.
"What do you think?" Jessie asked.
"Meowth is right," James replied. "It couldn't hurt to invite this Officer Jenny."
She nodded. "Yeah. But only this one!"
James turned back to me and smiled. "Okay, Meowth! She stays on the list."
Jessie smiled, too. As she consulted the list again, however, her expression became grim. "Oh, no. No...."
Now James was frowning, too. "What's wrong, Jess?" he asked, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"Meowth, we can't invite Blissey! We just can't!" Jessie cried.
"Why not?!" I demanded. "She's one a yer best friends, Jessie! How could ya NOT want her ta be at yer weddin'?!"
Jessie closed her eyes and sighed. "It's not that I don't want her to come...because I do. I want more than anything to share this with her...."
"You KNOW why!" she interjected. "Blissey and I promised that we'd keep our friendship a secret! If I invited her to the wedding, I'd be breaking that promise -- Nurse Joy would find out that she's our friend, and then poor Blissey would lose her job! I can't ask that of her, Meowth! I can't ask her to put her career on the line and risk destroying her lifelong dream for my sake! I'm not worth it...."
James put his arms around Jessie and held her to him as she began to cry. "Oh, honey," he whispered.
Jessie sniffled. "In a perfect world, I would invite Blissey to our wedding. I'd even ask her to be my maid of honor. But it's not a perfect world...."
I felt a pang of guilt as I watched James stroke Jessie's hair and whisper soothing words to her. It had never occurred to me that inviting Blissey to the wedding would be so risky...and making Jessie think that her friendship was some kind of curse made me feel terrible.
"I'm sorry, Jess. I didn't know it'd be such a big deal," I sighed. "I just thought it'd be nice if one a yer best friends could be here on yer big day...."
"It's okay, Meowth. I know you meant well," she muttered.
As she buried her face in James's shoulder, a smile spread across his lips. "I just got an idea," he said. "I know how we can still invite Blissey to our wedding without putting her job in danger!"
Jessie looked up at him. "You do?"
"When we send the invitations, why don't you just include a note with hers?" he suggested. "Tell Blissey not to let anybody know that she'll be at our wedding and to think of a good cover story. And if she can't do that without arousing suspicion, then she shouldn't feel obligated to attend. I know that's not much, but at least it gives us hope that she can be here...and even if she can't, she'll know that we thought of her."
Jessie brushed her tears away and smiled. "You're right, James! I can't overlook her, but I don't want to get her in trouble either. This just might work!"
James kissed the tip of Jessie's nose and rested his forehead against hers. "You're so sweet," he whispered. "I don't ever want to hear you say you're not worth being friends with or being loved, because to me, you are! You're worth everything to me, Jessie."
Jessie's smile grew even wider than it already was. "I love you so much, James. How did I end up with a wonderful guy like you?"
James grinned. "Just lucky, I guess!"
After gazing into each other's eyes for a moment, the two of them went into another liplock. I had the feeling they were going to be doing a lot of this in the days to come.
"The guest list looks great, Meowth," James said when he and Jessie drew their lips apart a few minutes later. "You did an excellent job."
"Now that we know who we're inviting, do we have any ideas for when and where to have the wedding?" Jessie asked.
I smiled at her and produced James's copy of the Team Rocket Field-Guide. "As a matter a fact, I do," I replied. "Wobbu and I conducted a bit a research last night and discovered dat dis safe-house is just a few miles from Cape Jasmine! It's a quaint little town by the sea, and it has lotsa beautiful parks, rustic resorts, and stuff! I was thinkin' maybe we could take a trip over dere today and check it out."
Jessie and James exchanged smiles.
"Good idea!" James exclaimed. "I'm sure we can make some solid plans while we're there."
"And once we do, we can send out the invitations!" Jessie chimed in.
"Den let's make a day of it!" I said.
After breakfast, Jessie and James went back to the bedroom to freshen up and get dressed. Once they were ready, we all set out for town.
And Cape Jasmine was every bit as beautiful as the field-guide said. With lush, green forests to the north and east and the crystal-blue sea in the south and west, there was a splendid vista no matter where you looked! All of the buildings in town were made of stone and wood, making the place look more like a fantasy-world than a modern-day tourist trap. The gardenias that the town was named for were everywhere, and they were all in bloom, perfuming the air with their sweet fragrance.
I couldn't imagine a better place for a wedding!
After scouting around for awhile and admiring the scenery, we found a little slice of paradise on the southern edge of town. Floral Park was right on the ocean, and the verdant maritime forests surrounded an expansive botanical garden. At the heart of the park, a cobblestone walkway lined with rosebushes wound around a white marble fountain and led up to a large wooden gazebo that had vines of ivy twined throughout its lattice structure.
Jessie became starry-eyed as she took in our surroundings. "Oh, James! This place is beautiful! It makes me feel like a fairy-tale princess!" she cried.
James and draped an arm around her shoulders and smiled. "I think we've just found the perfect place for our wedding ceremony!"
Jessie returned his smile. "I can just picture it now!" she sighed dreamily. "You'll be standing here under the gazebo with Oakley and our pokemon entourage, and I'll come through an archway of roses as I walk down the aisle towards you! And all of our guests will be in little white lawn chairs on either side of the path, and that big fountain will be in the background...."
James became starry-eyed too as he listened to her. "I can picture it too, Jessie!" he exclaimed. "It sounds wonderful!"
The two of them clasped hands and rested their heads together as they continued to daydream about the ceremony.
"Uh, guys? Ya do remember dat dis is supposed ta be a silly weddin', right?" I said.
Jessie snapped out of her reverie and frowned at me. "Of course we remember, Meowth!" she replied. "But who says it can't be silly and pretty at the same time?!"
"Yeah! We do everything in style...even the absurd stuff!" James announced.
"That's what Team Rocket is all about!" they said in unison as James pressed Jessie's body to his and led her into a dance.
I couldn't help but laugh at their impromptu tango...and their logic. "Can't argue with ya dere," I conceded.
"You know, Jess, this would be a good place for the reception, too," James remarked as he dipped her.
Jessie scanned the area and grinned as James brought her back up. "You're right, James! Converting it from a wedding to a party will be easy, and it'll save us time and money, too!"
I nodded approvingly. "Dis place is purr-fect! Now we just need ta decide when ta have the weddin'."
James closed his eyes and thought for a moment. "Well, we need to give ourselves enough time to make preparations...and enough time for our guests to make travel arrangements and get here once they receive the invitations...."
"Let's see," Jessie muttered as she cupped her chin in her hand. "Today is Thursday...and if we mail the invitations today or tomorrow, it'll take a couple days for everybody to get them and a couple more for everybody to get here...."
"Howzabout a week from Saturday?" I suggested. "Dat should give us all plenty a time. Plus, it'll be the first day a fall, so the weather should be nice and mild."
Jessie nodded. "Sounds good to me."
"Next Saturday it is, then!" James cheered.
With that, the two of them linked their arms and began to hum The Wedding March as they walked down the cobblestone path together.
After admiring the tranquil setting and daydreaming about the wedding for awhile, we went to the main offices of Floral Park and reserved the gazebo for September 22. Then, it was off to the local pokemon center. Jessie and James wanted to call Annie and Oakley to invite them personally and make arrangements for them to be the organist and the minister. They also wanted them to transfer Vulpix, Growly, Lickitung, and Sunflora to us so that Jessie could get to work on their outfits.
While Jessie and James were on the phone, I brought out our laptop and started a new bitmap file so that I could make the invitations. After finding some clip-art of white roses and doing a bit of copy and pasting, I selected a Celtic calligraphy font and typed up a little motto announcing Jessie and James's fake wedding. Then, I added a paragraph giving the time and location of the wedding and various other specifics. When I finished, I ended up with this:
As I was admiring my handiwork, Jessie and James got off the phone and returned to my side.
"It's a go!" said James. "Annie and Oakley will definitely be here!"
"And we've got the rest of our entourage!" Jessie chimed in, holding up four poke balls. "Four bridesmaids and four groomsmen! And little Articuno can be the flower bird and sprinkle rose petals everywhere before I walk down the aisle! Oh, they're going to be so cute, James!"
James smiled at her and then at me. "And let's not forget our best man, Meowth!"
Jessie's face fell when he said this. "I just hope Blissey can be here, too," she sighed. "If not, I'll still need to find a maid of honor...and I'd hate for her to miss out on this...."
"I'm sure she'll come, Jess," James assured her. "You're one of her best friends in the world -- she wouldn't want to miss out on your big day for anything."
"Yeah! Blissey'll find a way ta get here without gettin' in trouble!" I said.
This made Jessie smile again. "I guess you're right...."
James cupped her chin in his hand. "I know we are. Now, cheer up," he whispered, touching his lips to hers.
Jessie's smile grew even wider as she kissed back.
The two of them gazed into each other's eyes for a moment before turning their attention back to me. It was then that they finally noticed the little project I'd been working on.
"Say, Meowth, what have you got there?" James asked.
I grinned and turned the computer so that they could see the monitor.
Their faces lit up as they read the invitation.
"You did this just now?!" Jessie asked.
"It's perfect, Meowth!" James exclaimed.
"And it's so beautiful!" Jessie added. "It really captures the essence of...us!"
"We couldn't have done any better ourselves!" they said in unison.
I felt my face turning red. I'd only been experimenting with possible invitation layouts, and this was just a first draft! I hadn't expected Jessie and James to like it that much! "Y-ya really think so?" I asked.
Jessie nodded. "These are good enough to print and mail out right now!"
"Yeah! Add that to the list of things we can get accomplished while we're here in town!" said James. "Good work, Meowth!"
"Thanks, guys!" I replied.
While James was hooking our laptop to the pokemon center's printer and running off a couple dozen copies of the invitation, Jessie wrote a note to add to Blissey's invitation, and I started addressing the envelopes. Once we had all the invitations printed, signed, sealed, and labeled, we went to the post office and mailed them express priority. It cost us a little extra, but knowing that everybody would get their invitation in one or two days, even the people who lived far away in southern Kanto and the Orange Islands was worth it.
By the time we left the post office, the afternoon was half over, and we were getting hungry. So, we decided to go back to the gazebo in Floral Park and have a picnic lunch before returning to the cabin. Since Jessie and James had their hands full with the pokemon (and I could tell from all the flirtin' dey was doin' with each other dat dey wanted some time ta demselves), I volunteered to get lunch and catch up with them later.
Once they'd taken their leave, I headed up the street and checked out all the different restaurants. With pizza parlors, sushi bars, French bistros, Mexican eateries, and such, there was certainly no shortage of things to choose from. But the spicy-sweet aroma of cajun cooking wafting from a place called Dalila's is what decided me.
As I entered the restaurant and grabbed a take-out menu, the woman behind the counter gave me an odd look. I didn't enjoy being stared at like I was some kind of freak, but I guess I couldn't blame her -- not everybody is used to the fact that I can walk and talk like a human, after all.
"Can I...help you?" the woman asked.
"Yeah. I wanna order some lunch for me and my friends," I replied.
Her brow furrowed. "....Okay. What would you like...sir?"
"Gimmie a sec," I told her.
After perusing the menu and deciding what to order, I looked back at the proprietor. She was a black woman in her late fifties or early sixties. Her salt and pepper hair was tied up in a bun on top of her head, and the eyes behind her spectacles were as dark as coal. Pinned to her apron was a gold tag that had the name "Dalila Garnier" etched on it.
A strange feeling came over me as I looked at the woman. She seemed familiar somehow, and when I saw the name-tag, I realized who she was. The name, the old photographs James had shown me -- it had to be her!
"Uh...I don't mean ta pry, ma'am, but...did you use ta work for a couple named Quentin and Judith Woodson a long time ago?" I queried.
The woman raised an eyebrow. "I...I did. How do you know this?"
"I'm a good friend of somebody who knows ya," I explained.
"Who?" she asked.
"Dere son, James Woodson."
Her eyes widened when I said this. "James?! You know my Jimmy?!" she cried.
I nodded. Oh, yeah! Dis is definitely her!
A tear rolled down Dalila's cheek. "My Jimmy. He was the sweetest boy in the world...sweeter than a little tea-cake. But his parents engaged him to a monster! That nasty ol' swamp-witch had me fired after she moved in -- said it wasn't proper for James to associate with lower classes. That poor boy...I don't know if I want to ask how he's doin'. I can only imagine how miserable that rotten Jessiebelle is makin' him...."
Poor Dalila, I thought as I listened to her. She's spent all dese years thinkin' James married Jessiebelle. Whatta nightmare! Then aloud, "I got some good news for ya, Dalila."
She looked back at me. "You do?"
"Yes," I told her. "James didn't marry Jessiebelle -- he ran away from home when he was ten, and he broke off the engagement last year...."
Dalila covered her mouth with her hand. She was still crying, but now they were tears of joy. "Oh, thank God...thank God...." she whispered.
"Now dat James is eighteen, his parents can't make him get married," I continued. "And oddly enough, dat's what brought us here -- next week, James is gettin' married ta somebody he really does love, and...."
"James is here?!" she interjected. "Right now?!"
"Will you please take me to him?" she asked, her eyes filling with tears again.
"Of course!" I replied. "James has told us so many good things about ya -- I know he'll be happy ta see ya again! But first...can I order some lunch?"
Dalila laughed. "If you're a friend of my little Jimmy, then lunch is on the house!" she exclaimed.
Once she'd filled a large picnic basket with fried catfish, red beans and rice, a fresh loaf of honey cornbread, and a few bottles of soda, Dalila closed her restaurant for the afternoon and followed me to the park.
When we arrived, I saw Jessie and James sitting together under the gazebo. All of the pokemon were either playing in the grass or napping beneath the trees.
"There he is," Dalila whispered as her eyes grew moist with tears again. "Oh, I'd recognize my little Jimmy anywhere!"
"Wait here," I said as I took the picnic basket from her. "I want dis ta be a surprise."
Dalila nodded and hid herself behind the fountain.
"Hey, guys! Lunch is served!" I announced as I walked over to the gazebo and held up the picnic basket. "Cajun catfish with all the fixins!"
"It smells delicious, Meowth!" Jessie replied.
"Yeah! It kind of reminds me of our chef's homecooking when I was a young lad," James remarked.
"Funny you should mention dat," I told him.
James raised an eyebrow. "Oh? And why is that?"
I grinned and looked back towards the fountain. "Come on out!" I called.
After a moment, Dalila emerged from behind the fountain.
James's eyes widened, and his jaw dropped when he saw her. "It...it can't be!" he stammered. "D-Dalila, is that you?!"
Dalila nodded and held out her arms.
James's eyes filled with tears as he raced to her side and swept her into an embrace.
"Is this one of the servants he used to be friends with?" Jessie asked.
"Yeah! Dis is the chef he's always tellin' us about!" I replied.
Jessie smiled and looked back at the two of them.
"Oh, Jimmy! Oh, my sweet little tea-cake!" Dalila cried as she threw her arms around James. "I can't believe it's really you!"
"Dalila...I missed you so much," James whispered.
After a moment, Dalila released James and held him at arms' length. "Let me get a look at you," she sighed. "Oh, my little tea-cake's all grown up...and what a handsome young man you've become! Goodness, how long has it been?"
"About ten years now," James replied. "The place just wasn't the same after you left -- mom and dad hired all new servants...except for Hopkins." He paused for a moment and sighed. "I've always felt terrible about that -- it was my fault you lost your job...."
Dalila grabbed James by the shoulders and gave him a gentle shake. "No! Don't you ever blame yourself for what happened to me, Jimmy! It was your parents and that bitch they wanted you to marry! They're the ones I blame, not you!" She smiled again. "Besides, I've got a better job now -- I own my very own restaurant! Except for worryin' myself to death every time I thought about you marryin' that Jessiebelle, I've been doin' just fine!"
"Well, as you can see, I didn't marry her," said James. "I used the inheritance my grand-papa left me to get away from there...."
When she noticed the grim expression on James's face, Dalila frowned, too. "I heard about your grandparents passin' on. Jim and Rose Morgan was good people, and I know you were very close to them. I'm sorry, James."
James sniffled and brushed away the tears that filled his emerald eyes. "I miss grand-mama and grand-papa so much, Dalila...but thanks to them, I have a better life now. I may not have the best job in the world, and I don't make a lot of money, but none of that matters to me. I have my freedom, I have friends who love me for who I am, I have wonderful pokemon, and I have a new fiance whom I love more than life itself."
Dalila smiled again. "Yes, a little cat told me that you're gettin' married next week!"
James blushed. "Actually, this is more of a commitment ceremony with a comical twist...but yes, Jess and I do have plans to get married soon."
"Well, whatever it is, I hope you're invitin' me!" Dalila laughed.
"I wouldn't have it any other way!" James replied.
"Is that the lucky lady over there?" Dalila asked, pointing to Jessie.
James nodded. "Yes, that's her. I believe it's time for a formal introduction." Before leading Dalila to the gazebo, however, he leaned closer and whispered something into her ear.
Jessie and I exchanged looks. We both knew that James was warning Dalila about Jessie's resemblance to Jessiebelle.
"Don't worry," I whispered. "James and I know the truth...and Dalila's a nice lady -- I'm sure she ain't gonna hold it against ya."
"I know. But, still...." Jessie whispered back. There was no missing the sadness in her voice -- no matter how much reassurance she got from me and James, it was always going to bother her that she looks like Jessiebelle.
Once he'd returned to our side, James took Jessie by the hand. "Dalila, this is my fiance, Jessie. Jessie, this is Dalila, an old friend of mine."
A nervous smile made its way across Jessie's lips. "Pleased to meet you, ma'am," she said softly, extending her free hand.
Dalila squinted at Jessie for a moment as she took off her spectacles and polished them. When she put them back on, she smiled and shook Jessie's hand. "I see what my Jimmy was talkin' about. There's a light in your eyes...a light that shows you're every bit as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside, he said. I see it...."
"My Jessie is everything that Jessiebelle isn't," James said as Jessie and Dalila shook hands. "She's sweet, she's gentle, she's affectionate, and warm, and humble, she loves me for who I am, and she makes me happy!"
Now Jessie was blushing.
Dalila's smile became a grin. "Bless your heart, child! You were afraid I was gonna think you were...her, weren't you?"
"It did occur to me," she admitted.
Dalila shook her head. "If there's one thing I know about my Jimmy, it's that he's got high standards -- only a very special woman could capture his heart the way you have," she chuckled. "When he told me about that light in your eyes and said that he loves you more than life itself, I knew there was no way in hell you could possibly be Jessiebelle!"
Jessie breathed a sigh of relief.
"Besides," Dalila continued, cupping Jessie's chin in her hand, "you're much prettier than that little heifer ever was!"
James snaked his arms around Jessie's waist and planted a kiss on her cheek. "Yes! I agree!" he said slyly.
Jessie smiled at James and returned his embrace. "I can see why you like her so much, James -- she's got good taste!"
Dalila sighed dreamily as she watched Jessie and James hugging and gazing into each other's eyes. "Oh, tea-cake, I'm so happy for you! I'm so happy to see you again, I'm so happy that you got away from that rotten Jessiebelle, and I'm so happy that you've found such great friends!
"You were always such a sweet boy...as kind-hearted and adorable as could be!" she continued, her eyes filling with tears again. "I'm so glad that you didn't let anybody change you. You can't imagine how happy I am to see what a wonderful man you've become, James! I know you're gonna make Jessie very happy...as happy as she makes you!"
"He does, Dalila," Jessie told her. "He does...."
Jessie, James, and I spent the rest of the afternoon with Dalila. She and James reminisced about the old days and swapped stories about what they'd been doing since they last met, Dalila played with Growly (who was also very happy ta see her again) and met the rest of the pokemon, and she got better acquainted with me and Jessie.
When it started getting dark, Dalila invited us back to her restaurant for dinner, and she also volunteered to cater the wedding reception free of charge! Jessie and James protested at first -- she'd already given us two free meals, and they didn't want Dalila to blow her budget on their account, but she was adamant. She was every bit as excited about the wedding as we were, and she told us to consider it her gift. James knew from personal experience that it was impossible to win an argument with Dalila, so he and Jessie conceded.
I know they felt guilty for accepting such an extravagant gesture, but I couldn't have been happier! I'm the last person who's gonna protest when somebody offers us free food with no strings attatched, and knowing that Dalila wanted to do this for us set my conscience at ease. Besides, her offer to help meant that there was one less thing we had to worry about where planning the wedding was concerned!
Crossing paths with Dalila couldn't have been a coincidence. It had to be another sign that this wedding was meant to be!
The days that followed were some of the longest...and shortest of all my nine lives. Anticipation made it seem like September 22 would never come, but at the same time, each passing day was filled with excitement, and making preparations for the wedding ensured that I was never bored.
Dalila came to the cabin that weekend and helped us plan the menu for the reception. Jessie and James wanted to keep things simple, but Dalila insisted that she'd make anything they wanted, no matter how extravagant. They finally reached a compromise and agreed on a simple yet elegant menu of spinach salad, honey dijon chicken, and honey wheat-berry rolls for dinner and sparkling cider as a beverage.
Once the menu had been taken care of, the three of us went back to town to run more errands. Jessie went to the craft store to buy fabric and sewing supplies so that she could make the bridesmaid and groomsman outfits, and James went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients he was going to need to make the wedding cake. Meanwhile, I went to a novelty store and bought a pair of bride and groom dolls and a set of model paints. After we met up again, we went to the drycleaners, and Jessie took the tuxedo and wedding gown she'd made last summer for our Nidoran-napping plan out of storage.
Since she'd originally made the bridal gown for James and the tuxedo for herself, Jessie had more than a few alterations to make on them now. Fortunately, since James didn't have to bake the cake until the day before the wedding, he was at her beck and call for the refitting and refurbishing of the tuxedo. It didn't take her very long either -- by Monday night, she'd broadened the shoulders of the jacket, lengthened the sleeves and pant legs, and let out the waistline so that the suit would conform to James's masculine frame rather than her smaller, feminine one.
Once the alterations to the tux had been made, Jessie got to work on the gown. After hemming the skirt and bringing in the waistline so that it would hug her hourglass figure, she decided that she didn't like the way the high collar and puffy sleeves (dat she'd originally put on it ta conceal James's muscular chest and arms) looked on her, so she tore them off and re-seamed the edges. The new plunging neckline and tank-sleeves were much more flattering, and the ice-blue embroidery on the bodice, which she'd left intact, was the perfect accent. Jessie also got rid of the veil (arguin' dat it was a sexist and outdated vestige of an era when brides was given as property ta dere husbands...and dat hidin' her lovely face was a crime against nature anyway) and opted to simply twine a white rose in her hair instead.
They were going to be the most beautiful bride and groom!
After she'd finished the tux and the gown, Jessie took the blue satin she'd bought at the craft store and used it to make little bowties for Weezing, Growly, Wobbuffet, Victreebel, and Articuno. Then, she took the red silk roses she'd bought and made little floral tiaras for Arbok, Vulpix, Lickitung, and Sunflora. (Fortunately, she didn't hafta make anythin' for Me-owth since I already had a formal suit.)
Meanwhile, James concerned himself with other things, like planning the layout for the wedding ceremony and the most efficient way to convert it to the reception once the ceremony was over. He also went through the MP3 collection on his computer and burned a CD of romantic rock songs that he and Jessie enjoyed so that they could have something to dance to at the reception.
While Jessie and James were busy with their tasks, I took the bride and groom dolls that I'd bought at the novelty store and started painting them. I gave the bride sparkling sapphire-blue eyes and painted her long mane of hair a rich shade of crimson. Then, I gave the groom glittering emerald-green eyes and painted his long hair, which was pulled back in a ponytail, a deep blue-violet hue. I even painted a little blue-violet wisp in his face! When I was done, the two dolls bore a striking resemblance to my two friends -- they'd be the perfect toppers for the wedding cake!
Once I'd finished painting the dolls, Wobbuffet and I put our heads together and did more brainstorming about what kind of activities to have at the reception. Along with the standard best man's speech, toast, tossing of the garter and bouquet, cutting the cake, and opening the presents (if dey got any, of course), we also decided that it'd be fun to make Jessie and James play a little version of The Newlywed Game to test just how well they knew each other. (And lemme tell ya, Wobbu and I had a blast comin' up with the questions for Me-owth ta ask -- dere was a few dat was really gonna make 'em think...and more den a few dat was really gonna make 'em squirm!)
And while all of this was going on, the inbox of our e-mail was steadily filling with responses from our invitees. Everybody had received their invitation, and almost everybody was planning to attend! (The only people who couldn't make it to the wedding were Emanuela and Simone -- the two of 'em were in Italy cuz Manu's mother had fallen ill, and dey needed ta stay with her until she was feelin' better. But even though dey'd had ta decline our invitation, dey sent us dere best wishes and love, and dey promised ta get a nice wedding present for Jessie and James when dey got back from Italy.)
Now I really couldn't wait for the big day to arrive!
On Friday morning, James got to work on baking the cake. He and Jessie had decided ages ago that they wanted a red velvet cake for their wedding since that's their favorite flavor, so that's what he was making now. And what a cake it was gonna be! I'd seen the preliminary sketches and ingredient calculations that James had done beforehand -- when this cake was finished, it was going to be three tiers high and covered from top to bottom in cream cheese icing and frosting roses! (Just thinkin' about it made my meowth water!)
The other pokemon and I watched intently as James measured and mixed the ingredients, and Jessie did whatever she could to assist him. Once the batter was ready, he had to bake the tiers one at a time since they were so big. It took several hours, but when James finally put the last tier into the oven, he let me, Wobbuffet, and all the other pokemon lick the beaters of the electric mixer and the bowls. (And if the batter was any indication, dat cake was gonna be the best -- it tasted just like the chocolate wafer part of an ice cream sammich, and its texture was smoother den silk!)
While the final tier of the cake was baking, Jessie and James washed all of the bowls, spoons, and cups that they'd used and got to work on the icing. Jessie followed the recipie instructions to the letter, taking the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract and whipping them together until the mixture was smooth and fluffy. (Fortunately, it was a simple recipie, and dere wasn't really any way she could mess it up...not dat I have any room ta talk!) Meanwhile, James whipped some egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar together in another bowl. Then, he divided the frosting into several bowls and added different food coloring to each. When he was finished, there was a bowl of red frosting, pink frosting, blue frosting, purple frosting, and green frosting. He then put a damp cloth over each of the bowls so that the frosting wouldn't dry out before he was ready to decorate the cake.
Once all three of the tiers had been baked and cooled, Jessie and James slathered them with icing and carefully stacked them on top of each other. Then, James got out his decorating tools and covered the cake with red, pink, blue, and purple roses and little green leaves. When he finished making the roses, he held me up so that I could put the little bride and groom dolls on top.
When the cake was finished, we made another trip into town. Since the refrigerator in our cabin wasn't big enough to hold the cake (and since it had ta be refrigerated cuz of the cream cheese icin'), Dalila had volunteered to store it in the industrial-sized refrigerator at her restaurant. After dropping the cake off with her, we went shopping again and bought some flowers and a big, white banner. Then, we went to the main offices of Floral Park and borrowed some trellises, lawn chairs, and folding tables. After that, we returned to the gazebo and began setting things up for the ceremony.
Jessie arranged the chairs so that there were three rows of six, ensuring that everybody would have a good view of the ceremony. Meanwhile, James set the folding tables behind the gazebo so that they wouldn't be visible during the ceremony, but would be easy to reach once it was time for the reception. He also set up the trellises, and he and Jessie began twining roses and sprigs of ivy into them. While they were doing all of this, Wobbuffet and I painted wedding bells, roses, and the words, "Congratulations Jessie & James" on the banner and hung it over the gazebo.
Once our work was done, Jessie and James sat down together under the gazebo. Sensing that they wanted a little privacy, Wobbuffet and I excused ourselves and went to take a walk. As we followed one of the nature trails deeper into the park, however, I got the feeling that we weren't alone.
What's the matter, Meowth? Wobbuffet asked, sensing my unease.
"I think we're bein' followed," I whispered.
The two of us paused and listened. After a moment, I heard the sound of crunching pine needles in the forest. Then, Mondo appeared from behind a tree.
I breathed a sigh of relief...then I found myself getting slightly annoyed. "Mondo! What the hell do ya think yer doin', sneakin' up on us like dat?!" I demanded.
Mondo grinned sheepishly. "Sorry, guys. Didn't mean to startle you," he apologized. "But I don't want Jessie and James to see me."
"Why?" I asked. "Is somethin' wrong?"
"No, nothing at all!" he chuckled. "I just need to speak with you and Wobbuffet in private -- if Jessie and James find out, it'll ruin the surprise!"
Now my curiosity was piqued. "Surprise? What kinda surprise?"
"Everybody you invited to the wedding arrived in town last night, and we all sorta hooked up," Mondo explained. "We thought it'd be fun to throw a little bachelor/bachelorette party for Jessie and James tonight."
"A party? Dat's a great idea!" I exclaimed.
You're right, Mondo -- Jessie and James will really be surprised by this! said Wobbuffet.
He nodded. "And that's where you guys come in -- we need your help."
"Help? With what?" I queried.
"You see, we had a coupon for one of those big, hollow cakes from Cakes a Poppin', and we got one for the party," he replied. "But we don't want a stripper in the cake, so...."
I could see where this was leading. "So, ya want me and Wobbu ta get Jessie in on dis and have her be the girl dat pops outta the cake instead?" I ventured.
"Precisely! We need you to talk Jessie into it without James finding out."
Wobbuffet frowned. That's gonna be tricky. Those two are inseperable, and they can read each other like a book!
"But we can do it if we work tagedda," I assured him. "I'll tell James dat the guys wanna throw a bachelor party for him, and you can pull Jess aside and explain things ta her while I keep him occupied."
Wobbuffet considered this for a moment.
"Sounds like a plan to me!" said Mondo.
"Den let's do it!" I cheered.
"Annie, Lulu, and Sofia are up at the cake place -- it's in the shopping plaza on Main Street. They already bought the cake, and now they're just waiting for Jessie," Mondo informed us. "Everybody else is down on the beach, waiting to get the party started."
"We'll see what we can do," I promised.
Mondo smiled and took his leave. "Thanks, guys! I knew we could count on you! Good luck!"
Once he was gone, Wobbuffet and I turned to each other and grinned. This was gonna be fun!
When we got back to the gazebo, Jessie and James were still sitting together and making out. It didn't look like they'd even noticed our absence.
"Ahem," I said, clearing my throat.
The two of them reluctantly pulled away from each other and frowned at me.
"What do you want, Meowth?" James asked with more than a hint of annoyance in his voice.
"Oh, I just wanted ta let ya know dat while youse two was busy tongue-wrestlin', Wobbu and I went for a walk. And while we was out, we ran into Mondo," I told them.
"That's nice," Jessie said, placing her hand on James's cheek and pressing her lips to his again.
"Mondo sez dat all the guests are here," I continued. "And dey're all so happy dat youse guys was thoughtful enough ta invite 'em ta yer weddin' dat dey wanna express dere appreciation! The guys are down at the beach, settin' up a bachelor party for Jimmy, and the girls are up at the shoppin' plaza on Main Street, settin' up a bridal shower for Jess!"
Now I had their attention. "A bachelor party and bridal shower?" they said in unison.
I nodded. "Dey're just waitin' for youse guys ta show up!"
Jessie and James exchanged looks.
"What do you think, Jess?" James queried.
Jessie smiled at him. "I think it sounds like fun!"
"I think so, too!" he agreed.
"Just don't get drunk, or anything," she chuckled, giving his nose a playful tweak.
James took her hand in his own and kissed her fingers. "Don't worry, sweetheart -- after that mishap at the bike gang Christmas party, I promised myself that I'd never get drunk again. Besides, these are our friends. I think we can trust them."
Jessie leaned closer and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I know. I just wanted to hear you say it."
After sharing one more passionate kiss, Jessie and James released each other and went their separate ways.
"I'll see you later tonight, Jess!" James said.
Jessie nodded. "Okay! Have fun, sweetie!"
As I began leading James to the party on the beach, I looked over my shoulder and saw Wobbuffet whispering something to Jessie. Her face turned as red as her hair for a moment, but then she covered her mouth with her hand and laughed.
"Oh! One more thing, James!" she called after us.
James paused and looked back at her. "Yeah?"
"No running off with the stripper, okay?"
Now James was the one who was blushing.
I snickered as Jessie winked at me and started heading for town. She's doin' it! I said to myself. Man, I can't wait ta see the look on Jimmy's face!
When James and I got to the beach, Mondo, Oakley, Gary, and Marcello were waiting for us.
"Surprise!" they cried in unison as we approached them.
James grinned. "Oh, I'm surprised, alright!"
"Yeah!" I agreed. "We're glad youse guys could make it!"
"Are you kidding?! We wouldn't miss this for anything!" said Marcello.
Gary nodded. "That's right! What kind of friends would we be if we missed your big day?"
"And what kind of friends would we be if we didn't give you one last hurrah before you slap on the old ball and chain?" Oakley laughed.
"So, what all have we got on the agenda for dis party?" I asked innocently.
Mondo smirked. "Well, we ordered some pizzas, and we've got a big cooler of soda. We don't really have anything planned...except for the giant, hollow cake!"
James facefaulted. "You guys didn't hire a stripper, did you?"
Oakley laughed again and pressed a bottle of soda into James's hand. "You'll just have to wait and see, won't you, Jimbo?"
"You did," he groaned. "Oh, great...."
Now I was laughing, too. Oh, dis is gonna be priceless!
For the next half hour, the six of us just hung out together on the beach, drinking sodas and talking about the wedding. Before long, however, a delivery boy arrived with a gigantic cake.
"Is this the Woodson bachelor party?" the delivery boy asked.
James sweatdropped. "Yes, it is," he sighed.
There was a collective snicker from the rest of the guys as James reluctantly signed for the cake.
I snickered, too. Yeah, you ain't gonna be so reluctant when ya see who's in the cake, Jimmy-boy!
Once the delivery boy was gone, Gary, Mondo, Oakley, and Marcello grabbed James by the arms and seated him in a chair. Then, they wheeled the cake over to him and began to sing an off-key rendition of Girls, Girls, Girls!
"Alright, come on out," James groaned once everybody stopped singing. "But if you're going to do any lap-dances or strip-teases, then don't do them to me! I'm not into that kind of stuff...."
"You don't like lap-dances or strip-teases? Could've fooled me, because you sure weren't acting like it last night, James!"
James did a double-take when he looked and saw Jessie popping out of the cake. And when he saw that she was wearing nothing but a black lace teddy, his eyes widened, and his jaw went slack.
"Surprise!" she said, seating herself in his lap.
James smirked and put his arms around her. "Let me guess. There was no bridal shower in town -- you all just wanted to play a big prank on me and make me squirm, right?"
"Yep! And I'd say we did a damn good job, too!" Gary remarked.
"Hah! We really had ya goin' for a minute dere, Jimmy!" I laughed. "Ya shoulda seen the look on yer face when ya thought a real stripper was gonna pop out! Dat joke really takes the cake!"
"Alright, that's enough!" James cried as his face began to turn red.
Jessie giggled and planted a kiss atop his head. "You're so cute when you're embarrassed."
James smiled shyly and held her closer. "Hey, Jess?"
"I've changed my mind about that lap-dance and strip-tease," he replied.
"I thought as much," she whispered. "That's why I've planned an extra-special private show for you tonight!"
James's smile became a grin. "Well, what do you know? Looks like I'll be running off with the stripper, after all!"
"You're even cuter when you're naughty than you are when you're embarrassed!" she laughed.
As the two of them pressed their lips together, the guys started snickering again, and all of the female guests emerged from their hiding place in the forest.
"Sorry to keep you ladies waiting," Marcello apologized.
Sofia put her arms around her husband and planted a kiss on his cheek. "That's okay. It's not like you guys were doing anything exciting anyway," she told him.
"But now that both guests of honor are here, we can get the real party started!" said Lulu.
Jessie blushed. "Well, before we start anything, I need to get changed -- this teddy isn't the most comfortable thing in the world, you know."
"Yeah!" I laughed. "Jess ain't used ta wearin' lingerie for long periods a time -- Jimmy always rips it offa her after a few minutes!"
Jessie and James's faces turned even redder than they already were. "SHUT UP, MEOWTH!!!!!" they shouted.
Sofia and Marcello snickered. "The cat strikes again!"
Gary held up his soda bottle and winked at me. "Good one, Meowth!"
I smiled proudly and buffed my claws on my coat. "Just tellin' it like it is!"
"Yeah, but sometimes I wish he wouldn't," Jessie grumbled as she jumped from James's lap and excused herself to get changed back into her regular clothes.
When Jessie returned a few minutes later, she rejoined me and James, and we began milling with the guests. While James showed off his new baby Articuno to Sofia and Marcello (who "ooohhh"ed and "aaahhh"ed over him and thought he was the cutest little thing...which he is!), Jessie and Wobbuffet chatted with Lulu and told her about some of the adventures we'd had since we last saw her. And after speaking with Lulu, Jessie's attention drifted to another guest....
"Blissey!" she whispered. "Blissey is here!"
James and I looked to where Jessie was pointing and saw Blissey speaking with Gary. As we approached, we could hear her telling Gary the story of how she'd tortured Ash while he was at the Happy Town Pokemon Center...and Gary was enjoying every second of it!
"So, you spilled his dinner all over him, and he had to go take a shower?" Gary asked.
"Oh man, I bet that pissed him off!" he laughed. "Mrs. Ketchum always had a devil of a time getting Ash to take a bath, change his clothes, and stuff."
Yeah! That was probably the first shower he'd taken since leaving on his pokemon journey -- he looked pretty scruffy to me! she agreed. I scrubbed his back til it was raw, and it still didn't get the dirt off of him!
Gary shook his head and sighed. "I don't think any amount of soap or scrubbing would work -- he's had dirt on his face for as long as I've known him. That shit looks permanent to me!"
Blissey grinned. I also did something else to him because he had the nerve to beat up my old friend when she was trying to help me...but that's a story for another time!
Gary raised an eyebrow. "Your old friend? You mean the one you gave part of your egg pendant to?"
She nodded. I finally saw her again after all these years...and she's also the reason I'm here today -- she invited me to her wedding because she wants me to be the maid of honor!
Gary turned to us and smiled. "So, you're Blissey's old friend?"
Jessie nodded and brought her half of the egg pendant from her pocket. Then, she leaned down and interlocked it with the half that Blissey was wearing. "I'm so glad you were able to make it, Blissey!" she whispered as her sapphire eyes filled with tears.
"I met Blissey a few weeks after I set out on my journey to Johto," Gary explained as Jessie and Blissey embraced. "She was really sweet, and she told me about a good friend she had while she was in nursing school. I never would've guessed at the time that it was Jessie, but now it all makes perfect sense. I remember Jessie telling me that she once wanted to be a nurse, and she also said that everything in life happens for a reason...and she's right. That's pretty cool."
"Yes, it is," James agreed.
Jessie sniffled. "Thank you for coming, Blissey. You have no idea how much this means to me."
Don't mention it, Jess. I would've come, even if it did put my job in danger, she replied.
"Fortunately, there was nothing to worry about!" a new voice said.
Gary, Jessie, James, and I turned and saw Nurse Joy standing behind us.
Jessie's eyes grew wide with fear. "Blissey, what's Nurse Joy doing here?! I told you not to let her find out about this!" she cried.
"Why?" Nurse Joy asked. "I think it's wonderful that you invited Blissey to your wedding!"
Jessie, James, and I exchanged confused looks. Why wasn't Nurse Joy upset that Blissey was friends with Team Rocket?!
"After Ash, Misty, and Brock left the pokemon center, Blissey told me everything," Nurse Joy explained. "She told me that you were an old friend from nursing school, and that she never would've graduated if you hadn't helped her. She also explained that you didn't trick her into stealing the food from our pokemon center -- she said that she chose to give it to you because you were hungry, and that you chose to give it back and take the blame so she wouldn't get in trouble. I think that was a very noble thing to do...."
James raised an eyebrow. "You mean you know what really happened, and you're not mad at Blissey...or us?"
She shook her head. "Of course not! Why would I be mad?"
Jessie frowned. "Blissey, why did you tell her?! I wanted you to keep it a secret! You could've gotten in trouble!"
"She knows that...but it was a risk she was willing to take," said Nurse Joy. "From what I hear, you've always been a good friend to her, Jessie, and the way you and your friends were treated was shameful. You didn't do anything wrong to begin with, and you were only trying to make things better. Blissey didn't think it was right that you were punished for trying to help her, and I don't think it was right, either! That's why Blissey told me the truth -- because you didn't deserve to go hungry or be attacked, and I deserved to know what really happened.
"I'm sorry that I didn't do something to stop Ash from attacking you," she continued. "And I'm sorry it took me this long to apologize for it and let you know that nobody thinks badly of you. It was all just a big misunderstanding -- I'm sure we could've sorted the whole thing out, and you could've stayed for dinner if...."
"Yeah, fat chance a dat happenin' while the twerps was dere," I sighed. "Dose kids never cut us any slack -- whenever anythin' goes wrong, it's automatically our fault."
"Ash doesn't even have the decency to apologize for condemning them when he's got proof that they're innocent!" Lulu grumbled.
Gary rolled his eyes. "That sounds like Ash, all right. He's so judgemental, and he can never admit when he's wrong! Sheesh!"
"Well, I know the truth now, and that's what matters," Nurse Joy replied. "That's why Blissey brought me along -- she wanted me to let you know that she's not going to get in trouble because of you...and so that I could see for myself what a good friend you are. You don't have to keep your friendship with Blissey a secret anymore, Jessie. Not with me, anyway. You and your friends will always be welcome at the Happy Town Pokemon Center."
Jessie hugged Blissey again and smiled. "Thank you, Blissey. But you didn't have to do this for my sake."
Yes I did! Blissey replied. Jessie, for as long as I've known you, you've always given me a helping hand and made sacrifices for my sake. Clearing your name and James's and Meowth's was the very least I could've done. And even if it did cause me to lose my job, then so what? I shouldn't have to be "ashamed" of you or keep our friendship a secret. Even if it was my lifelong dream to become a nurse, that doesn't mean it's worth hurting a friend over.
James wrapped his arms around Jessie and rested his chin atop her head. "See, Jess! You're worth everything to the people who care about you! Never let anybody or anything make you think otherwise!"
Jessie blushed. "Thanks, James."
As she turned and touched her lips to his, I tapped Blissey on the shoulder. "Hey. Didn't ya mention dat ya did somethin' ta get revenge on Ash after he blasted us off?" I whispered.
Blissey gave me a wicked grin and nodded. I sure did, Meowth!
"Well, quit holdin' out on us! What did ya do?!" I exclaimed.
Jessie shot me a warning look. "Don't be a troublemaker, Meowth!"
"What?!" I asked. "I just wanna hear what Blissey did to the twerp! Is dat so wrong?!"
"No, but if it's something...unethical, and Nurse Joy finds out, then Blissey really will get in trouble," James muttered. "There's probably a reason she didn't tell the whole story...."
Blissey chuckled. The only reason I didn't tell the whole story earlier is because I didn't have a big enough audience! But if you all gather round, I'll be glad to tell it now!
"Are you sure it's okay, Blissey?" Jessie queried.
Nurse Joy smiled innocently. "I disavow any and all knowledge of the events that transpire in this tale."
"I guess that means it's okay!" Gary snickered.
"Den, whaddaya waitin' for, Bliss?! Talk, already!" I cheered.
Blissey chuckled again. It all started one night when three children arrived at the Happy Town Pokemon Center, she began. I don't know what it was, but when I saw them, I got these really bad vibes...especially from the scruffy boy with the Pikachu. And as it turns out, I was right -- the kid was so whiny and self-centered, he gave me a headache! So, as I was telling Gary earlier, I decided to have a little fun with him. When I brought out their dinner, I "tripped" and spilled it all over Ash. Then, when he went to take a shower, I offered to help clean him up and scrubbed his back with a broom! Well, apparently, one swipe with a little straw broom was all it took to draw blood, so I stopped scrubbing him and decided to patch him up. I did this by pouring alcohol into his cuts and using a big roll of gauze to wrap him up like a mummy! He ended up going to bed without any dinner...and whining incessantly about how unfair life is and how everything bad always happens to him....
Jessie and James snorted, and several other people who were listening to the story rolled their eyes.
"Hmmmph! I'd like ta see how long dat twerp would last if he had ta go through even a fraction a the shit we put up with on a regular basis," I grumbled.
Not long, I'd wager, Wobbuffet replied. That kid is such a wuss!
Anyway, after Ash and his friends went to bed without any supper, my old friend, Jessie, showed up at the pokemon center, Blissey continued. I hadn't seen her since nursing school, so I was thrilled to cross paths with her again! We spent the next few hours reminiscing about the old days, talking about what we'd been doing since nursing school, and Jess even introduced me to her new friends, James and Meowth! When I found out that they'd come to the pokemon center because they were starving and needed something to eat, I knew that I had to help them. I never would've become a nurse or evolved into Blissey if not for Jessie's friendship, so I decided to give them the food we had in our store-room. It was the very least I could do to return the favor.
Unfortunately, when Nurse Joy found the store-room empty the next day, she assumed that the pokemon center had been robbed...and when she went to the surveillance cameras and saw that I was the one who'd taken the food, I got in big trouble, she sighed. But Jessie, James, and Meowth found out what was going on, so they brought all the food back and made up a story about how they'd tricked me into stealing for them. I was so touched that they'd do something like that for my sake that I wanted to thank them, but when I approached Jessie, she got her pokemon to pretend to attack me -- she wanted to make it look like I was atoning for my "mistake"...and didn't want anybody to find out that I was her friend. Once Nurse Joy and the twerps were convinced of my innocence, Jessie, James, and Meowth decided to leave before things got ugly, and Jess whispered that it'd be our secret. But then, stupid Ash went ballistic and beat the living daylights out of them because he was hungry and wanted the food I'd given them. My real friends ended up getting blasted away, and the twerpy kids made a big deal about how they'd saved the day.
Several people in the audience (Jessie, James, and myself included) began to grumble.
Blissey grinned again. But here's where the story gets good! After recovering the food, I made a big victory feast for the twerps...and then I made a very special dessert for them -- brownies! What Ash didn't know is that I laced his serving with an entire package of chocolate-flavored laxatives! He ate 'em all, too! Ash and his friends left town before the stuff kicked in, but I'd imagine he was baking brownies of a different kind for a few days after that!
Jessie, James, and everybody else in the audience covered their mouths with their hands to stifle a fit of laughter.
I thought back and recalled that Jessie, James, and I had steered clear of the twerps for a few days after they left Happy Town because Ash had, indeed, had a case of the screaming shits. We thought it had just been a stomach bug, though -- we never would've guessed that it was Blissey's handiwork, and that she'd gotten revenge for what he'd done to us!
I started laughing, too. "Aw, man! Dat's classic! You rule, Blissey!"
"How disgusting!" Jessie said, barely able to control her own snickering. "But I'm glad Ash got his just desserts for the shit he pulled on us! Thanks, Blissey!"
James was still snickering, too. "I guess it's a good thing Ash left before those laxatives kicked in -- otherwise you might've had to change the name of the place from Happy Town to Crappy Town!"
"Good one, guys!" Gary laughed.
"Now that was a priceless story!" said Lulu. "Ash is such a jerk -- it's good to know that somebody got back at him for it!"
"Yeah! Jessie, James, and Meowth told us plenty of horror-stories about him while they were our guests! I just might have to add this one to our collection!" Sofia remarked.
"With the names and location changed to protect the identity of the innocent Blissey, of course!" Marcello added.
I snickered again. "Heh! I've got the perfect title, too -- you can call it Ex-Lax Marks the Spot!"
Now everybody was roaring with laughter.
"I think quite a few of us have Ash Ketchum horror-stories to tell," Gary sighed once the laughter died down. "I know I sure do!"
"I'll drink to that," Cairdea said, taking a swig of her soda. "But we shouldn't be ruining this party with talk of the brats -- let's get back to celebrating our friends' wedding!"
Everybody turned to Jessie and James and began to applaud. The two of them exchanged smiles and blushed.
Before anybody could say anything and embarrass them even more, another delivery boy arrived with several large, red cases.
"I've got an order of twenty pizzas for the Parker-Woodson party," he said.
"Yeah, that's us!" said Oakley.
"That'll be $69.95."
Annie got out her wallet and handed the money to the delivery boy. Then, she and Oakley took the pizzas and set them on the picnic table. Once they'd opened all the boxes to make sure the order was correct, the delivery boy took his leave.
My mouth began to water as I grabbed a napkin and paper plate and got in line behind Jessie and James. Most of the pizzas were pepperoni and mushroom, but a few of them had green peppers, too. Others had ham or bacon on them, and there was even one with anchovies for me!
Once everybody had filled their plate with pizza and grabbed a bottle of soda, we all sat down together on the beach blankets to enjoy our dinner.
"You know, Blissey gave me a great idea!" Mondo remarked as he took a bite of his pepperoni pizza.
"And what would dat be?" I asked.
He smiled. "Well, since she told us a story about how Jessie and James touched her life, I think it'd be nice if the rest of us do the same! It doesn't have to be a story or a speech -- just a little something to show how much they mean to us."
"Dat is a great idea, kiddo!" I told him.
Jessie and James smiled sheepishly and blushed.
"That's...really not necessary, guys!" said Jessie.
"Yeah!" James agreed. "You don't have to if...."
"Of course we do! Now, quit bein' so modest!" I interjected. With that, I held aloft my soda bottle. "I'll start! Ta my good friends, Jessie and James -- the first...and for the longest time, the only people who could accept me for who I am. Thank you for showin' me friendship, teachin' me dat I'm not a freak, and givin' me a place where I belong."
Everybody else raised their soda bottles. "Hear, hear!"
Wobbuffet smiled at them and saluted. Meowth just took the words right outta my mouth, but I'll say it anyway. Thank you for showing me love, teaching me that I'm not a loser, and welcoming me into your family. My life is filled with happiness because of you, and for that, I'll always be grateful!
"To Jessie and James...and Meowth!" Mondo said, holding up his own bottle. "For teaching me the importance of friendship and unity!"
Annie and Oakley held up their bottles, too. "To Jessie and James -- the nicest kids we've ever met," they said in unison. "May your friendship and love lead you to the bright future you're striving for!"
Dalila smiled and brushed away the tears that were filling her eyes. "To James, for fillin' my life with sunshine! To Jessie, for fillin' his life with sunshine! And to the little cat, who made my reunion with them possible!"
"To the Team Rocket Super Squad!" Cassandra cheered. "You helped my Paras evolve, and helped me make my dream come true! Thanks to you, my miracle potions have helped hundreds of pokemon and their trainers...and they even saved my grandma's life! For that, you'll always be my heroes!"
Officer Jenny saluted us. "To Jessie and James! You helped me save the pokemon of The Big Orange and bring Butch and Cassidy to justice! I'm sorry that you left before I could thank you for what you did or give you your reward...but I hope you'll accept it now." With that, she handed them a certificate.
Jessie and James smiled as they read it.
"What is it, guys?" I asked.
"It's...it's a declaration of citizenship!" Jessie replied. "We've been made official citizens of The Big Orange!"
James's smile became a grin. "Thank you, Officer Jenny!"
She saluted again and winked. "No thanks are necessary -- you earned it!"
Everybody started clapping again.
When the applause died down, one of the Cat Islanders got to her feet. "I don't know the bride and groom personally, but I do know Meowth," she said. "The Great Meowth of Bounty brought an age of wealth and prosperity to my people...but more than that, he taught us that friendship is the greatest wealth of all. His friends -- the bride and groom -- are what make him happy, and he chose staying with them over being a god to us. We're honored that the Great One thought of us on this day and chose to share his bounty with us once again. Any friend of Meowth's is a friend of my people -- you have our blessings, Jessie and James."
When she finished her speech, Terra, Celes, Rhiannon, and Laine raised their soda bottles.
"To Jessie, James, and Meowth, who saved our city from the clutches of evil!" said Celes. "You three are heroes in the truest sense of the word!"
Rhiannon nodded. "You've shown us the meaning of heroism in this time of disillusionment and corruption. The establishment was screwing us, and the hero we were supposed to look to for help was in on it. Thanks for giving us a breath of fresh air and showing us that heroic fantasy is still alive and well!"
"Speaking of heroic fantasy, you also gave us the inspiration we needed," Terra added. "Thanks to you, our comic book dreams became reality!"
"You've made a lot of dreams come true!" Laine chimed in. "You guys rule!"
Gary smiled. "I've known Jessie, James, and Meowth for a couple years now...but I didn't really get to know them til just recently. For the longest time, I didn't think of them as anything but the three Team Rocket agents that are always after Ash, but a couple months ago, they saved me from a pair of pokemon poachers. That's when I got to know them as people. I learned that Jessie has a sweet, nurturing side. I learned that James is an artist and a great cook. I learned that Meowth has a sarcastic wit, and that he's one hell of a fun person to talk to. I learned that they love reading Tolkien and playing Dungeons & Dragons, just like I do. I learned how much they love their pokemon, and how much they love each other. I learned about their past hardships and their dreams for the future. And I learned that they're good friends to have. Compared to all of that, the Team Rocket uniforms they wear just don't matter. Jessie, James, Meowth, Wobbuffet, I'm proud to call you my friends, and I'm proud to be here on the happiest day of your life!"
"We're proud to call you our friends, too," said Rachel. "Wobbuffet Village is still grateful to you, and Lulu and I are honored to be here, representing them today."
Lulu nodded. "To Jessie, James, and Meowth! And their adorable Wobbuffet! You saved our festival with your courage and selflessness, and you taught us that what we have is worth fighting for, regardless of what the law may say!"
"We heard about that," Sofia told her. "Actually, my husband and I have heard about a lot of you here today and how you came to be a part of Jessie and James's lives. And we're proud to be counted among you."
"You see, Jessie and James...and Meowth and Wobbuffet came into our lives in a very special way," Marcello chimed in. "Sofia and I were celebrating our golden anniversary. Our annual tradition is to have our picture taken together in the Sunflora field near our lodge, but this year, the weather was cold, and all of the Sunflora were gone. And that's when they showed up. They got our Sunkern to use his Sunny Day attack and make the sun come out again...and that's what brought the Sunflora out of hiding. Our golden anniversary picture turned out to be the most beautiful one of all thanks to them!"
"And that's not all they did!" Sofia continued. "Later that evening, Marcello and I found them and invited them to stay at our lodge. They'd been attacked by Ash, and we felt bad about not doing anything to stop him, so we wanted to repay them by giving them a place to rest and recover for awhile. Marcello and I spent the whole night swapping stories with them. It was so wonderful to make new friends...and seeing how deeply in love Jessie and James were reminded me of how Marcello and I were at that age. It made us feel fifty years younger!"
Marcello smiled. "Remembering our youth and seeing young love was the greatest golden anniversary gift of all," he said. "Jessie, James, thank you for the joy you brought me and Sofia on our anniversary...and thank you for inviting us to your wedding. May you spend the rest of your lives as happy and in love as you are now, and may your own golden anniversary be as happy as ours was!"
With that, Sofia and Marcello held aloft their soda bottles, and we all toasted.
"Jessie, James, and Meowth are really special to everybody here," Cairdea remarked. "And I'm no exception. I met Jessie and James almost three years ago. They'd just been promoted to field-agents, but before they could go into the field, they had to work with a trainee group for a few months. I was lucky to be one of those trainees. Jessie and James were always so kind to me, and they made me feel like I belonged. I tell you, when I barely escaped with my own life after the St. Anne fiasco and got word that they hadn't survived, it absolutely crushed me. I looked up to them as mentors, and I was proud to call them my friends, too. You can't imagine my elation when I learned that they were alive and well! When I finally saw them again a few weeks ago, it made me feel like I was alive again, too -- it was nothing short of inspirational!" She held up her bottle and winked at us. "And we also had a damned good time messing with that twerp's head and whupping him in a game of Dungeons & Dragons! Here's to you, Jessie and James. Here's hoping that you'll be able to retire and live normal lives before long. And that we can have another D & D session someday...Ash-free, of course!"
When all the guests finished giving their speeches, I looked up at Jessie and James and saw through the tears that clouded my vision that they were crying, too. I knew that everybody who was here liked us in their own special way, but hearing it out loud made it even more special.
Now, more than ever, I was convinced that this wedding was meant to be. The love and blessings of our friends was the greatest gift we could ask for, and we'd received it in abundance!
We probably could've spent the whole night on the beach, chatting with our friends, dancing, eating pizza and cake, and drinking sodas, but tomorrow was a big day, and we all needed our rest. So, shortly after midnight, the party came to a close, and we reluctantly bid farewell to our guests. I was kind of disappointed that we couldn't stay longer, but as we returned to our cabin, I reminded myself that the sooner I went to bed, the sooner it would be Jessie and James's wedding day. (And believe me, dat weddin' couldn't come soon enough for Me-owth!)
As it turned out, I didn't get much sleep anyway. All night long, I tossed and turned in my bed and kept looking at the clock on my nightstand, wondering if morning would ever arrive. I felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve, anticipation of what the next day would bring ensuring that I was too excited to fall asleep. And the fact that I could hear Jessie and James giggling and fooling around in the next room (Jess was givin' Jimmy dat private lap-dance and strip-tease she'd promised him, no doubt) sure didn't do anything to help.
I don't know when I finally drifted off to sleep, but I awoke the next morning to golden sunlight and the cool breezes of the first day of fall coming through the window and the warm, sweet aroma of French toast wafting from the kitchen. I looked at the clock and saw that it was nine AM.
Only six more hours to go!
When I got to the kitchen, I saw that Jessie and James had already eaten their breakfast. Now, they were rehearsing their vows.
"Mornin' guys," I said, fixing a plate of French toast for myself and joining them at the table.
"Good morning, Meowth," James replied.
"Sleep well?" Jessie asked.
"No. I was too excited," I told her. "Plus, I could hear youse guys bein' amorous again."
The two of them blushed.
"Ya ready for yer big day?" I asked, changing the subject.
James nodded. "Yeah. Just getting our lines down. I tell you, Oakley really did his homework -- he researched actual wedding ceremonies and brought a bunch of different ones with him so that we could pick what kind of sermon we want him to give...and what kind of vows we want to give!"
"Well, I didn't suggest dat he be the minister for nothin', ya know!" I replied.
"You know what was really cool?" said Jessie. "He didn't bring any traditional church-wedding sermons or dry civil-wedding ones -- they were all Pagan Handfasting-type ceremonies! It just...I don't know how to describe it." She paused for a moment so that she could put her thoughts into words. "Well, James and I don't want a big, religious church-wedding -- we're not even Christian, so that just isn't right for us. And we don't want a plain civil-wedding, either -- even if it's not in a church, we still want it to be something beautiful and meaningful. And...well...that's exactly what the ceremonies Oakley showed us are!"
James smiled. "When Jessie and I read over the Pagan rituals, they just seemed right. They seemed to capture the essence of who we are, what we believe, and what matters most to us! It reminded me of my grand-mama, and how peaceful I always felt when I'd see her communing with nature. I remember she once told me that she and grand-papa had a Pagan Handfasting for their wedding ceremony, and in the back of my mind, I've always wanted the same for me and Jessie. When we actually read the words, and all those happy memories came back to me, something changed...."
"Changed?" I queried.
He closed his eyes and thought for a moment. "The whole fake wedding idea. At first, we thought it was just going to be zany and absurd, yet still romantic...but now I'm not so sure that's what we want," he replied.
I felt my throat tightening. "Y-youse guys ain't gettin' cold feet, are ya?" I stammered.
"Of course not, Meowth! That's not what we meant at all!" Jessie exclaimed.
"Den, what DO ya mean?" I asked.
Jessie took James's hands in her own and smiled. "We just meant that when we read over the actual ceremonies and saw how profoundly they spoke to us, it reminded us of a few things. That mishap with Temacu showed us that commitment isn't something to be taken lightly...and true love isn't something that should be made a mockery of. Having an absurd fake wedding just doesn't feel right anymore...because it's not a fake wedding -- it's a demonstration of our love and commitment to each other."
"We're still going through with this, but we don't want to do it as a joke anymore," James explained. "We want the ceremony to be more like our real wedding is going to be someday. Because when all is said and done, that's what this is -- practice for our real wedding!"
Now I was smiling, too. "Oh, I get it. Youse guys are goin' serious on me!"
"Pretty much," James chuckled. "I guess it'll still be funny in places -- we've got those Lucky Clovers rings, and you know Oakley won't be able to resist throwing a few smart-ass remarks into his sermon...."
"....But for the most part, it's going to be peaceful, and romantic, and beautiful...just like our real wedding is going to be!" Jessie said, finishing the thought for him.
"Well, youse guys can do whatever ya want -- it's yer weddin'!" I told them.
Jessie and James nodded at me and went back to rehearsing their vows. They probably thought I was disappointed that the fake wedding wasn't going to be such a farce after all, but truth be told, I was happy with their decision. It showed how seriously they took their commitment to each other.
They'd definitely made a good choice. I knew they weren't going to regret it.
After reading through the script a couple more times, Jessie and James decided to start getting ready for the wedding. First they gave Arbok, Weezing, Lickitung, Wobbuffet, and Articuno a bath, watered Victreebel and Sunflora, and brushed Vulpix and Growly so that they'd all be looking their best. Then, they dressed them up in their little bowties and floral tiaras.
Once all the bridesmaids and groomsmen were ready, Jessie and James got into the shower. While they were getting cleaned up, I brushed my fur, gave myself a meowth-icure, polished my charm, and put on my tux. By the time I was ready, it was one o'clock.
Only two more hours to go!
After fixing myself a ham salad sandwich for lunch, I went back to the bedroom to check on Jessie and James's progress. They'd taken forever in the shower, but now they were finally getting dressed.
"How do I look, Jess?" James asked as he buttoned the black jacket of his tuxedo and fastened a red rose to the left lapel.
Jessie smiled as she straightened the collar of his white shirt and adjusted his red bowtie. "Very handsome. What about me?"
James smiled back and ran his fingers through her hair, which was cascading past her knees since she'd left it down. Then, he twirled her around and helped her twine a white rose into her crimson mane. "You're the most beautiful bride in the world."
The two of them wrapped their arms around each other and admired their reflections in the mirror.
Suddenly, however, James's brow furrowed. "Hey, Jess, should I tie my hair back, or not?" he queried.
Jessie reached up and ran her hands through his blue-violet mop. After pulling his hair back in a short ponytail, she studied him for a moment and smirked. "It doesn't matter to me -- you look sexy either way!" she replied.
James pulled her closer and brushed his lips against hers. "Now who's the flatterer?" he whispered.
Her eyes sparkled. "Just telling it like it is!"
James looked back at his reflection. "I think I'll just leave it down," he said. "I don't really feel like messing with it today."
Jessie nodded approvingly as he shook out his hair and began to brush it. Then, she started putting on her make-up. When they were finished, they looked back at each other and smiled again.
"Well, I'm all set," said James. "What about you?"
Jessie looked down at herself. "Let's see...I've got something old -- this dress. Something new -- the rose in my hair, I guess. Something borrowed...." Her voice trailed off for a moment as she fingered a gold chain with a broken egg pendant that she was wearing around her neck. "Blissey loaned me her half of the pendant."
"And I guess the embroidery on your bodice counts as something blue?" James ventured.
Jessie's smile became a wicked grin. "I guess it does...but I had something else in mind!" With that, she lifted her skirt and showed him the pair of blue string-bikini panties that she was wearing.
A light sparkled in James's emerald eyes. "Ooohhh! That's even better!" he squealed.
Jessie squealed too as James pulled her to him again and slid one of his hands into her panties. Then, she began to unzip his pants.
"Hey, HEY! Break it up, youse two!" I snapped. "Ya don't have time for a pre-weddin' quickie!"
Finally noticing that I was in the room with them, Jessie and James released each other and blushed.
"What are you doing in here, Meowth?!" Jessie demanded as she pulled down the skirt of her dress and smoothed the fabric.
James scowled at me and zipped his pants up again.
"I came in here ta see if you was ready...and apparently ta remind ya dat ya ain't got time ta be foolin' around!" I replied. "In case ya haven't noticed, it's almost two! We need ta get goin'!"
Jessie and James exchanged looks and sighed.
"You'll have plenty a time ta make love after ya get married," I told them. "But right now, we have a weddin' ceremony ta get to."
The two of them blushed again. "You're right," they said in unison.
I nodded. "Damn right I'm right! Now let's go! Yer gonna make Me-owth explode if I've gotta wait any longer for dis!"
"Jeez, you're almost as excited about this wedding as we are," James remarked.
"Almost...but not quite!" Jessie chuckled.
With that, the two of them draped their arms around each other and left the bedroom.
Oh, if ya only knew how excited I am! I thought as I followed them. But aloud, all I said was, "Damn horny teenagers...."
After getting all the pokemon together, making sure that I had the rings, and double-checking to make sure that they were looking their best, Jessie and James were finally ready to leave.
By the time we got to the park, it was a little after two-thirty, and some of the guests had already arrived. Mondo was helping Annie set up her keyboard on the left side of the gazebo, and Oakley was looking over his script and rehearsing the sermon he was going to give. Meanwhile, Gary was chatting with Dalila, Blissey, and Nurse Joy.
"Hey, everybody! Here comes the bride and groom!" I announced once we were within earshot.
Everybody dropped what they were doing and came over to greet us.
"Hey, guys!" said Annie. "Ready to take the plunge?"
"You're not getting cold feet, are you?" Oakley chuckled.
"We're fine," Jessie told them.
Mondo became starry-eyed as he gazed at Jessie. "You look really beautiful," he sighed.
"She sure does," Gary agreed. He was blushing.
James smirked at them and wrapped an arm around Jessie's waist. "Eyes left, boys. She's mine!" he said.
Jessie gave James's nose a playful tweak. "Like anybody else even has a chance!"
My heart fluttered as I watched the two of them hold each other closer and press their lips together. There were only twenty minutes until the wedding, but to me it seemed more like an eternity!
The next twenty minutes did, indeed, seem like forever. I sat next to Jessie and James on the edge of the fountain and watched as more and more of the guests began to arrive. As they found their seats and got comfortable, Oakley continued to read over his sermon, and Annie played songs on her keyboard to keep everybody entertained. By three o'clock, everybody was present and accounted for.
It was time!
Once all of the guests had taken their seats, Annie began to play the processional song -- Maria's Aria from Final Fantasy VI.
James took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair. "I guess this is it," he whispered.
I gave him a thumbs-up. "Go for it, Jimmy!" I whispered back.
Jessie winked at him. "See you in a few minutes, sweetie!"
James nodded. Then, he took another deep breath and began his walk down the aisle.
Once James reached the altar, Blissey came to my side. Then, the two of us linked arms and began our march down the aisle. My heart was pounding harder than ever now, and I felt a big sweatdrop forming on my temple. My two best friends in the whole world were getting married, and I was here by their side -- it was a dream come true! When we reached the end of the aisle, I took my place next to James, and Blissey went to the other side of the altar.
After a moment, Arbok and Weezing came down the aisle and took their places. Then came Vulpix and Growly, followed by Lickitung and Wobbuffet, and finally Sunflora and Victreebel. Once all of us were in place, Jessie put a little basket of red rose petals in Articuno's beak and signed for him to go to daddy-bird. Articuno flapped his wings and nodded. Then, he began wakling down the aisle and scattering the rose petals everywhere. By the time he reached James, the basket was empty. James chuckled and scooped the baby bird into his arms. Then, he placed him on Growly's back and ran a hand through his hair again.
"Nervous?" I asked.
James shook his head. "No. Just excited," he whispered back.
I nodded. "So am I."
When Annie finished playing the aria a moment later, she switched on the CD player and made a selection. After a few seconds, a soft, haunting melody began to play. It was Aniron -- the love song from Jessie and James's Lord of the Rings soundtrack. The first time I'd heard the song, I hadn't understood a word of it because it's in Elvish, but the English translation had been printed in the CD booklet, and Jessie and James had read and explained it me. And now, as Jessie took her bouquet of white roses in her hands, took a deep breath, and began her walk down the aisle, I could see why the song was so meaningful to her and James. Now, I understood why James sometimes called Jessie his beautiful Evening Star, and she sometimes called him her king. And as I listened to the words and watched my two friends, I knew why they wanted this to be their wedding song....
From darkness I understand the night.
Dreams flow, a Star shines!
Ah! I desire Evenstar!
Look! A Star rises out of the darkness!
The song of the Star enchants my heart!
Ah! I desire....
When the song came to an end, Jessie took her place next to James, and the two of them joined hands. Annie quietly switched off the CD player and took her seat.
Once everything was silent and he had our undivided attention, Oakley cleared his throat and began to speak. "Dear friends, we've gathered here today to celebrate the joining together of James Woodson and Jessie Parker in the most sacred of unions," he announced. "There are many things to say about marriage. Much wisdom concerning the joining together of two souls has come our way over the course of history. With each union, more knowledge is gained and more wisdom gathered...and with a couple of wise-guys like these, I think we're gonna learn a lot about love today!"
There was a collective chuckle from the audience.
Oh, yeah! I said to myself as I covered my mouth with one of my paws. Oakley's definitely gonna make dis interestin'!
"The law of life is love unto all beings," Oakley continued. "Without love, life is meaningless, without love, death has no redemption. Love is anterior to life, posterior to death...quite possibly the strongest force in the universe. And marriage is a bond to be entered into only after considerable thought and reflection. As with any aspect of life, it has its cycles, its ups and its downs, its trials and its triumphs. With full understanding of this, James and Jessie have come here today to be joined as one in marriage.
"Normally, this is the part of the ceremony where I'm supposed to ask who's giving the bride in marriage. However, since a woman isn't property to be bought and sold or given and taken, I ask simply if she comes of her own will. Jessie, is it true that you come of your own free will and accord?" Oakley asked.
Jessie blushed as she tightened her hold on James's hand. "Yes, it's true," she said softly.
Oakley nodded. "I thought as much. But before we continue, there's one more order of business that needs to be addressed. James and Jessie, do you know of any reason why you shouldn't be joined in marriage today?"
James blushed too and smiled shyly at Jessie. "No, we don't. We wouldn't be here otherwise!"
Oakley winked. "Yeah, I know. It's just a formality," he told them. Then, he turned his attention to our guests. "And by that same token, does anybody here have any reason why these two shouldn't be joined in marriage? Speak now if you do...though I can't imagine why our friends would invite somebody who has a problem with this!"
The guests laughed again.
"I can't think of anything!" Gary replied.
"Neither can I!" said Mondo.
Lulu shook her head. "Nothing comes to mind!"
"Go for it!" Sofia and Marcello cheered.
"Then, it's unanimous -- you're getting hitched!" Oakley chuckled. Before he could continue his sermon, however, there was a loud shriek.
"A WEDDING!!!" a young woman's voice cried. "OHMYGODAWEDDING!!!! THIS IS SOOO WONDERFUL!!!!!"
Jessie and James tensed when they heard the voice.
Aw, dammit! Dat better not be who I think it is.... I thought.
My suspicions were confirmed when I turned and saw Temacu standing in the aisle. Her eyes looked like they were about to pop out of her head.
Jessie scowled. "Oh, no. What's she doing here?" she grumbled.
James buried his face in his hands. "Oh, shit...."
As Temacu looked around and continued to shriek, a young man with light brown hair came to her side. "Uh...I don't think this is the time or the place, shmoopie," he said, taking her by the arm. "We're bothering these people!"
"But look how pretty everything is!" Temacu squealed. "This is exactly how I want our wedding to be! Only I'll be wearing a gold gown, and you'll be...."
All of the guests began to mutter amongst themselves.
"Uh...who the hell is this?" Oakley asked.
James looked back at Temacu and frowned. "Some flake we ran into last week. She had a crush on me and wanted to marry me."
Oakley snickered and gave Jessie a playful nudge. "Bet that led to the biggest cat-fight in the history of the world, huh?"
"Nah," Jessie replied nonchalantly. "I knew James didn't like her -- there was nothing for me to worry about. Besides, you have no idea how fickle this girl is. As soon as James was out of sight, she forgot all about him."
"Yeah. Dis new guy's prolly her flavor of the minute," I commented.
"Too flighty for a big commitment like flavor of the week?" Oakley ventured.
He sweatdropped. "Sheesh!"
As Temacu kept babbling about her dream-wedding, the young man tried to pull her away. "I'm really, really sorry about this!" he said sheepishly. "My fiance, here, is just so excited about our wedding that she can't control herself!"
"Look, lady, you can be as excited about your wedding as you want, but that doesn't mean you have to be rude!" Gary told her.
"Yeah!" said Lulu. "Our friends are trying to have their dream-wedding, and you're ruining it!"
"That's really disrespectful to Jessie and James!" Mondo snapped.
At the mention of the bride and groom's names, Temacu's eyes grew even wider than they already were. Then, she broke away from her boyfriend du-jour and raced up to the altar. "J-James?! James, what do you think you're doing?!"
"He's getting married, you twit! What does it look like?!" Jessie shouted.
Temacu's eyes filled with tears. "But...but you were supposed to marry ME, James! How could you?! How could you leave me for the maid of honor, you two-timing cad?!" she cried. Then, she cast a venomous glare at Jessie. "And how dare you steal MY fiance, you slut?!"
I placed a paw to my temple. "Jeezus tap-dancin' Christ...."
This girl ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer, is she? said Wobbuffet.
"No, she ain't," I sighed.
A fire sparked in James's green eyes. "How dare YOU speak to my Jessie that way?!" he growled.
Temacu gasped as she looked back at him.
"Now you listen to me, and get this through your thick skull once and for all!" he continued. "I. Don't. Love. You. I never have. And I never will."
"Wh-what are you saying, James?" she asked.
"I'm saying that I was NEVER your boyfriend, and I NEVER wanted to marry you! Hell! I never even showed the remotest interest in you!" James shouted. "If you'd been paying attention, you'd have realized that I was already in love with Jessie and backed the hell off, like I kept asking you to!"
"But...but why did she say that you wanted to marry me?!" Temacu stammered. "Why did she offer to be the maid of honor at OUR wedding if she was already your girlfriend?!"
"She was bein' sarcastic, ya dip-shit!" I snapped. "Ya know what sarcasm is? Go get a dictionary and look it up!"
"Yeah!" said Jessie. "You should've known that I wasn't being serious because it should've been obvious that James and I were already a couple!" Her blue eyes narrowed to slits as she stepped closer to Temacu and grabbed her by the collar of her dress. "But I'm being deadly serious now. James doesn't love you -- he loves ME! That's the way it always has been, and that's the way it always will be! So, you get the hell out of here, let us get married in peace, and never bother us again...or I will bitch-slap you clear into the next millenium! You got that?!"
"Hmmmph!" Temacu snorted as Jessie released her. "OUR wedding would've been so much prettier, James! SHE'S not even wearing a blue dress to match your hair like I would've!"
"That's because unlike you, I'm a one-man woman, and I can wear a white dress at my wedding!" Jessie retorted.
There was a collective "Oooooh!!!!!" from the guests.
James and I snickered.
Unable to come up with a decent reply, Temacu turned up her nose at Jessie and James and walked off in a huff. "Come on, snuggle-dumpling! Let's get out of here!" she said to the young man. "I like YOU a lot better anyway!"
"Yeah, but for how long?" I wondered as I watched the current boyfriend cast another nervous glance at us and follow Temacu.
Jessie and James facefaulted.
"I'm no psychic, but I predict that if she actually marries that poor guy, she'll be faithful to him for all of five seconds," Jessie muttered.
"Yeah," James agreed. "And he looks like he only wants to marry her so he can get laid."
"A match made in heaven," I said sardonically.
James took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped away the sweatdrop that had formed on his temple. "Well, at least she finally got the message that I don't like her."
"I just wish she could've done it without turning our wedding into an episode of The Jerry Springer Show," Jessie sighed.
"Ah, don't worry about it," I told them. "Youse guys ruled! So what if dat little interruption didn't fit inta yer vision of a perfect weddin'? It still kicked ass!"
When I said this, all of the guests began to applaud and chant Jessie and James's names, Jerry Springer-style.
The two of them blushed more brightly than ever.
"See what I mean?" I laughed.
"Well, that was certainly entertaining," Oakley remarked. "But now, let's get back to getting this lovely couple hitched, shall we?"
The guests applauded again.
Once the noise died down, Oakley cleared his throat once more and continued his sermon. "A marriage that lasts is one that's based on true love, and true love only comes about through true understanding of each other. True understanding of another isn't something that can be achieved in a short time. Real love and understanding can only develop fully with years of intimacy...as that little interruption so clearly illustrated for us. James and Jessie, over the course of the past eight years, you've been best friends, boyfriend and girlfriend, and lovers...and now your love for each other, your knowledge of each other, and the intimacy you share is bringing you a step further and making you husband and wife!
"With earth below and stars above, we've come to witness one of the greatest gestures of love two people can possibly express! James and Jessie, may your love be as firm and constant as the earth beneath our feet. May your union protect you from devastation and help you extend your reach to the stars above. May the powers of the mind and of the intellect guide you in your marriage. May the strength of your wills bind you together. May the power of love and desire make you happy, and the strength of your dedication make you inseparable. Have patience with one another, for storms will come, but they'll pass quickly. Be free in giving affection and warmth. Have no fear and let not the ways of the unenlightened give you unease, for true love is stronger than anger, hatred, and ignorance combined. May you be blessed with true love forever. Are you ready to give your vows?"
"Yes, we are," Jessie and James replied in unison.
"What tokens do you give that you'll keep these vows?" Oakley asked.
I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out the red and green rings.
"We give these rings," Jessie and James said as I handed them to Oakley.
Oakley chuckled for a moment when he saw that the rings were made of plastic, but he quickly became serious again. "The ring is a symbol of the spirit; that which was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be -- love which is deathless and eternal. Let these rings represent eternity...love without end." When he finished his speech, he handed the red ring to James. "Take it away, Jimmy!"
James took Jessie's hands in his own and gazed into her sapphire eyes. After a moment of silence, he began:
"I, James Eric Woodson, Esquire,
By the life that courses within my body and the love that resides within my heart,
Take you, Jessica Rachael Parker, to my hand, my heart, and my spirit, to be my chosen one,
To desire you and be desired by you without sin or shame, for neither can exist in the purity of my love for you.
I pledge to share my life openly with you,
To speak the truth to you always,
To be faithful to you in love,
And to honor and cherish you forever.
I promise to love and tenderly care for you,
In plenty and in poverty,
In sickness and in health,
For better and for worse,
For as long as we both shall live.
I promise to respect your needs,
To support you in your endeavors,
To encourage you as an individual,
And never seek to change you in any way,
Through all the days of our lives.
With these words, I pledge my love,
And with this ring, I seal my vows now and forever."
When James finished his speech, he placed the red ring on Jessie's left ring finger. It complemented the promise ring she was already wearing surprisingly well.
Oakley smiled and handed the green ring to her. "Now it's your turn, Jess!" he said.
Jessie took James's hands in her own and gazed into his emerald eyes. Then, she began her vows:
"I, Jessica Rachael Parker,
By the life that courses within my body and the love that resides within my heart,
Take you, James Eric Woodson, Esquire, to my hand, my heart, and my spirit, to be my chosen one,
To desire you and be desired by you without sin or shame, for neither can exist in the purity of my love for you.
I pledge to share my life openly with you,
To speak the truth to you always,
To be faithful to you in love,
And to honor and cherish you forever.
I promise to love and tenderly care for you,
In plenty and in poverty,
In sickness and in health,
For better and for worse,
For as long as we both shall live.
I promise to respect your needs,
To support you in your endeavors,
To encourage you as an individual,
And never seek to change you in any way,
Through all the days of our lives.
With these words, I pledge my love,
And with this ring, I seal my vows now and forever."
When Jessie finished her speech, she placed the green ring on James's left ring finger.
The two of them smiled at each other and blushed again. Then, they turned back to Oakley.
Oakley nodded approvingly. "Before we wrap things up, I'd like to speak about some of the things that those of us gathered here today wish for you, James and Jessie," he told them. "First, we wish for you a love that makes you both better people, that continues always to give you joy and a zest for living, and provides you with the energy to face the responsibilities of life. We wish for you a home -- an island of serenity and sanity. We hope that your home isn't just a place of private joy and retreat, but rather serves as a castle wherein the values of your life and family are generated and upheld. We hope your home stands as a symbol of humans living together in love and peace, seeking truth and nurturement through each other. We hope that it has within it the elements of simplicity, exuberance, beauty, silence, color, and a concordance with the rhythms of life. We wish for you a home filled with books, art, and music -- for a home with all the things that represent the highest strivings of men and women. And finally, we wish that your love gives you a white today and leads you to a white tomorrow. May your love be a light to you in dark places, now and forever.
"James and Jessie, you've expressed your desire to be wed, shown your love and affection by joining hands, made promises of faith and devotion to each other, and sealed these promises by giving and receiving your rings. Therefore, in the presence of this company of witnesses, and by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."
When Oakley said those words, I felt my heart filling with more joy than I ever thought possible. It happened! It finally happened! I said to myself, doing my best to hold back the tears I felt coming. But it was no use -- as soon as they looked into each other's eyes again, I became a sobbing wreck!
Through the tears that clouded my vision, I saw James take Jessie in his arms once more and smooth back her hair. "I love you," he whispered.
"I love you," she whispered back.
They slowly leaned closer to each other and rubbed noses for a moment. And when their lips finally met, it was the most passionate, most pure, most beautiful kiss I'd ever seen! It was their first kiss as husband and wife -- the kiss I'd been waiting for since the moment I found out they were in love! It was everything I'd dreamed of...and more!
And apparently, everybody else thought so, too. As Jessie and James's kiss deepened, all of our guests got to their feet and gave them a standing ovation. Several of them were even crying as hard as I was. But I doubt Jessie and James even noticed any of us -- they were lost in each other.
This is the happiest day of my life! Wobbuffet exclaimed as he brushed away his tears. Happier, even, than the day I met you guys! I'm so glad that I got to be a part of this!
"Grooooow-lithe! (So am I! Seeing James marrying his one true love is a dream come true for me!)" Growly howled happily.
When their kiss finally ended several minutes later, Jessie and James remained in their embrace, gazing lovingly into each other's eyes.
Oakley smiled again and leaned closer. "Normally, I'd charge fifty bucks for a ceremony like this, but since you guys are my friends, it's on the house. Consider it my gift!" he muttered.
James chuckled. "Good one, Oakley!"
"I'm serious," he said. "You don't owe me a cent -- it was my pleasure!"
Jessie and James exchanged looks. "What's he talking about?"
"Didn't you two get the memo?" he asked.
"What memo?" Jessie queried.
"I was doing research on alternative religions awhile back, and since I enjoyed what I learned, I decided to become an ordained Pagan minister!" he explained. "I got my license and everything last winter. If you don't believe me, ask Meowth -- he was visiting me and Annie at the time...."
"So...you mean...you're a...real minister?" Jessie stammered.
James sweatdropped. "And...this was...a real wedding?"
"Of course! I thought that's why you wanted me to do the ceremony!" he replied.
"W-we thought you knew this was only supposed to be practice for our real wedding!" said Jessie.
"And we didn't know you were a real minister!" James added. "We thought Meowth was insisting on you giving the sermon because you're a good public speaker...and that he explained all of this to you...."
Oakley shrugged. "Meowth didn't tell me anything. And apparently, he didn't tell you anything either."
Jessie and James both cast a venomous glare at me.
Whoops! Did I forget to mention that Oakley was a real minister and that I'd planned for today's wedding to be the real deal all along? Silly old Me-owth!
"Meowth! You've got a LOT of explaining to do!" Jessie growled.
"Yeah! If this is your idea of a joke, it's not funny!" James snapped.
"Ah, whatta youse guys so bent outta shape for?" I asked. "Ya wanted ta get married eventually anyway, and ya made dis ceremony as much like yer dream-weddin' as possible! So what if it happened a little earlier den ya expected? Life is fulla surprises -- you should be use to it by now!"
The two of them looked back at each other.
"He has a point," Jessie admitted.
"Yes, but I wanted our wedding to be perfect," James sighed. "I wanted you to have a golden band with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, not some piece of cheap, red plastic...."
Jessie placed a hand on James's cheek. "Sweetie, that doesn't matter to me. As much as I talk about wanting jewelry and designer clothes, that's pretty much all it is -- talk. I'd rather have you and a cheap piece of plastic than all the jewelry in the world."
James took Jessie's hands in his own and kissed them. "You're right, honey -- I guess it's not so bad, after all," he conceded. "We're surrounded by old friends and new friends, and we had a beautiful ceremony despite Temacu's interruption. And I can't think of anybody I'd rather have as my bride!"
"Oh, well," James chuckled as he held his new wife closer. "I'll still give you that diamond ring someday, Jess. And as for that real wedding we wanted to have a few years down the road? I guess we'll use it as an opportunity to renew our vows."
Jessie nodded approvingly and returned her new husband's embrace. "Sounds great to me, James!"
My smile grew even wider than it already was. "So, youse guys ain't upset no more?" I ventured.
"Of course not! Even if you did catch us off-guard, we couldn't be happier!" James replied.
Jessie smirked. "But we're still going to get you for this, Meowth!"
Yeah. You'll have yer revenge for Me-owth makin' the happiest day a yer lives possible. I'm real scared, guys! I said to myself. Then aloud, "Well, Jimmy, ya did say dat the only thing you could think of dat's better den Jess bein' yer fiance is her bein' yer wife! I'm glad ta see ya put yer money where yer mouth is!"
"Oh, that's not all I'm going to put where my mouth is!" James replied. With that, he pressed his lips to Jessie's again.
As our guests gave them another standing ovation, Annie went back to her keyboard and began to play The Wedding March for the recessional. When Jessie and James finally stopped kissing, they turned to face the guests again, and everybody lined up to congratulate them on their fake marriage, which turned out to be real, after all.
Once all of the guests had shaken hands with the bride, the groom, the minister, and the rest of the entourage, James scooped Jessie into his arms and carried her down the aisle. Then, the two of them disappeared into the woods.
"Heh. I bet dey're off ta have demselves a little post-weddin' quickie!" I remarked. "I had ta pry 'em offa each other before the ceremony -- guess dey couldn't last much longer...."
Jessie and James came back out of the woods and frowned at me. "We heard that, Meowth!" they shouted.
"Ah, so what?" I shot back. "We all know what yer doin' anyway!"
The two of them made a face at me and disappeared into the woods again.
Everybody began to roar with laughter, myself included.
This had definitely been one of the most exciting days of my life...and the fun was only just beginning!
While Jessie and James were off consummating their marriage, the rest of us began getting ready for the reception. Annie and Oakley helped me set up two small, round tables under the gazebo while Gary and Mondo helped Dalila carry the wedding cake from the refrigeration unit in the back of her van. Once they'd placed the cake on one of the tables under the gazebo, we arranged all of the wedding presents on the other table.
After taking care of the cake and presents, we all placed two of the long, rectangular tables side by side and arranged the chairs around them to form a dining area. Across from that, we set up a third table to place the food on. Between the tables was a space that was wide enough to serve as the dance-floor. Then, we helped Dalila bring the hot-plates, trays of food, dishes, glasses, napkins, silverware, beverages, and ice-buckets from her van and set up the buffet table.
Once we'd finished setting up the reception, Jessie and James returned from their tryst. Their clothes were a little rumpled, and James had a bit of Jessie's red lipstick on his collar. The two of them were brushing leaves and twigs from their hair.
"Enjoy yerselves?" I snickered.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, we did!" James replied smugly.
I nodded. "Good! Cuz I'd hate it if youse guys had a lousy time after cuttin' out and dumpin' all the work on Me-owth!"
Jessie stuck her tongue out at me. "I told you we'd have our revenge!"
Aw, cut 'em some slack, Meowth, Wobbuffet said, giving me a pat on the shoulder. It's their wedding day!
"Yeah! A wedding that you didn't even bother to tell us was real!" they reminded me.
I smiled at them. "I know, I know. I'm just funnin' with ya...again. Now come on. Let's go get some dinner. I'm starvin', and we can't start without ya!"
After smoothing their clothes and hair and making themselves presentable again, Jessie and James went to the buffet table and got their food and drinks. Then, they took their seats at the head of one of the dining tables.
Once everybody else had served themselves and found a seat, I took my spoon and tapped on my glass to get their attention.
"Ahem," I said, clearing my throat. "I...guess since I'm the best man, dis is the part where I'm suppose ta give a speech."
At my side, James snickered and nudged me with his elbow.
"You'd better watch it, or I'll say somethin' embarrassin' about you and Jess!" I warned him.
"How is that any different from what you normally do?" he countered.
I smirked at him and turned my attention back to our guests. "I, uh...I first met the bride and groom a little over three years ago," I began. "I dunno what it was, but the moment I saw 'em, somethin' told me dey was special. As time passed, I got to know 'em, and I learned dat I was right -- dey was special. And even more surprisin', I learned dat dey could accept me for who I am, and dey was proud ta call me dere friend. And it didn't take me long ta notice somethin' else, too -- dey was madly in love with each other!
"I think I figured it out before dey did, though," I continued. "I'd see 'em doin' dere damndest ta hide dere true feelins cuz dey didn't wanna risk ruinin' dere friendship. But dey couldn't hide it from Me-owth -- I'd see the way dey'd cast longin' looks at each other, hold hands a second too long, the way dere faces would light up when dey touched each other. It was so obvious dat dey was soul-mates, but it drove Me-owth nuts dat dey was too afraid to admit it.
"Fortunately, dey didn't keep me waitin' for long -- dey figured out dat dey was madly in love with each other eventually, and dey've been a cozy couple ever since! Now, the only thing dat drives Me-owth nuts is when dey get too noisy while dey're doin' the horizontal mambo!"
There was a collective snicker from our guests.
"Meowth!" Jessie and James whispered through clenched teeth.
I flashed them a wicked grin and continued. "Dere relationship hasn't been smooth sailin' the whole time, though. I'll be the first ta admit dat dey've had plenty a disagreements...and even a few fights! But, like I was tellin' 'em last week after dere last big argument, dat's just a normal part a bein' a couple. What makes dese two succeed where other couples fail is dat dey don't let the hard times get 'em down -- dey work through the disagreements and fights and end up closer ta each other den ever before...and den dey drive Me-owth nuts by havin' a buncha super-noisy, super-hot make up sex!"
Now everybody was roaring with laughter.
Jessie and James buried their faces in their hands. I could hear them giggling, too.
"And dat's precisely why we're all here today," I said. "Since Jess and Jim is always arguin' and makin' up, just like an old married couple, I figured, What the hell? Why not just make 'em get married, already?! It took a bit a convincin'...and connivin', but I think we all know how dis story turns out!" With that, I took my glass of sparkling cider and held it aloft. "Ta Jessie and James -- the best friends in the world...and the best couple in the world! May ya be as successful in marriage as ya are in friendship!"
"Here, here!" everybody replied, clinking their glasses together.
Once I'd finished my speech and we'd all toasted the bride and groom, we dug into our food. With all the free lunches and dinners Dalila had given us since we'd arrived in Cape Jasmine, and this wonderful meal now, it was obvious to me where James had gotten his cooking skills. The spinach, tomatoes, and peppers in the salad were ripe and fresh, and the salty-sweet flavor of the bacon dressing complemented them perfectly. The chicken breasts had been marinated in honey dijon sauce and grilled to perfection, and the spicy-sweet flavor permeated every juicy bite. The rolls were soft, sweet, and fluffy, and the whole grains of wheat and oat in the bread added lots of texture. And the non-alcoholic sparkling cider, which looked and tasted like champagne, was the perfect beverage to wash it all down. It tasted exactly like something James had cooked himself, and I told him as much!
James smiled sheepishly at my compliment. "Don't thank me, thank Dalila -- she's the one who taught me everything I know about cooking!" he replied. Then, he held up his glass and smiled at Dalila. "Thanks again for coming to our wedding and for all of this wonderful food!"
Dalila winked at him. "It was my pleasure, tea-cake!"
As we continued to eat, I stole glances at Jessie and James, twining their arms so that they could feed each other and drink from each other's glasses. Every few minutes, they'd stop eating altogether and dab each other's lips with their napkins. Then, they'd wrap their arms around each other and go into a full liplock.
"Heh. Lookit youse two. Just like a couple a newlyweds!" I remarked when they finally finished their dinner and started kissing again.
Jessie smirked at me and rested her head on James's shoulder. "Well, that's exactly what we are!"
James planted a kiss on Jessie's forehead and made her blush.
I smiled at them. "I'm glad youse two ain't mad at me about dis bein' a real weddin'."
"Why should we be?" James asked. "While Jess and I were alone earlier, we talked about it, and we agreed that even though this isn't what we thought our wedding was going to be like, it'll definitely be a day to remember."
"And we'll remember it in a good way!" Jessie chimed in. "Thanks, Meowth!"
"Ah, don't mention it!" I replied. "I just hope youse two can still be good sports, cuz I've got another surprise for ya!"
Jessie and James exchanged looks.
I winked at them. "Don't worry -- it's all fun and games!" Then, I nodded to Annie, and she turned on the CD player. After a moment, the theme music for The Newlywed Game began to play.
"Uh, oh...." James muttered as the guests placed two chairs in the middle of the dance-floor.
"....I see where this is leading," Jessie muttered back.
As the theme music played, the guests led Jessie and James to the two chairs and gathered around them like an audience. Once everybody was seated again, Annie turned off the CD player, and everything became silent.
"Dat's right!" I said in my best game show host voice. "Since youse two are newlyweds, me and my assistant, Wobbuffet, came up with some questions ta tease and tantalize ya and test how well ya know each other!"
The guests began to cheer and applaud.
Once the noise died down, I approached my friends. "Alright, folks, let's meet our two contestants -- Jessie and James Woodson! Dese little love-birds have been married for almost two hours now! I dunno about you, but I'd say dat sure as hell qualifies 'em for newlywed status!"
Everybody clapped again.
"Well, since we already know dis lovely couple, I think we can skip the lengthy introductions and just get straight to the torture!" I continued. "In round one, we're gonna put Jessie in the isolation booth and have James answer a few questions about her, den we'll see how well Jessie's answers match his. In round two, we'll put James in the isolation booth, have Jessie answer some questions about him, and see how well James's answers match hers. Den at the end, we'll have both of 'em answer the big bonus question! And the number of matching answers dey have will determine just how well-matched dey are! So, let's get to it!"
With that, Wobbuffet took Jessie by the arm and led her over to the gazebo. He turned her so that she was facing away from James and the audience and put a pair of headphones on her so that she wouldn't be able to hear any of the questions and answers. Once Wobbuffet was sure that she was sufficiently "isolated," I grinned and brought out the notecards that we'd prepared.
"Okay, Jimmy. It don't look like Jess can hear us. Are ya ready?" I asked.
James smiled confidently. "Bring it on!"
I nodded. "Alrighty, den! Question number one! What ride would yer wife never go on if the two of ya was at an amusement park?"
James's smile became a grin. "That's too easy -- the roller coaster! Jessie can't stand those things!" he replied. "We've only ever been on one once, and I remember she was scared out of her mind and kept screaming that she wanted to get off. Somehow, I don't picture her ever wanting to ride one again."
"Okay, question number two. Finish dis sentence: If I was Prince Charming and she was Cinderella, I'd know exactly what size the glass slippers would be. Dey'd be a size __."
James chuckled. "I know this one, too -- Jessie wears size eight shoes! Come on, Meowth! Give me a real challenge!"
"Alrighty, you asked for it, Jimbo!" I snickered. "Question number three! What dessert best describes yer wife? Apple tart, vanilla ice cream, or strawberry cheesecake?"
"Ah, a figurative question! But I'm afraid this one's a no-brainer, as well. She's not a tart, and she's certainly not plain like vanilla -- my Jessie is a smooth, sexy slice of cheesecake all the way!" James replied, a sly smile making its way across his lips.
There was a collective "Whooooo!!!!!" from the audience.
I smiled back at him. "Good answer, Jim...but I ain't done with ya yet -- it's time for the grand finale!" My smile became an evil grin. "Question number four! Where's the strangest place you and yer wife ever made whoopie?"
James's face turned bright red. After a moment, however, he regained his composure and laughed. "Okay, now this is a tough one -- Jess and I have made whoopie lots of places. We've done it in the woods, on the beach, in hot springs, we've gotten some mile-high club action in our hot-air balloon, we did it in the Magikarp sub, the Arbo-tank, the Meowthinator Impersonator, the Robo-Mecha-Wobbuffet, hell, practically every mecha we've ever used! Oh, yeah! And then there was the time we...."
I felt a drop of sweat forming on my temple as James continued to name off unusual places where he and Jessie had made love. "Damn horny teenagers," I muttered under my breath.
"....But I think I'm going to go with the Arbo-tank," he concluded. "We actually did it five or six times in that one...and it got pretty wild, too! Jess did say she liked my big rock-drill, after all!"
The audience began to laugh again as James gave me a sly wink.
I laughed, too. "Guess I asked for dat one, huh?"
"Yep!" he replied smugly.
"Well, ya sound like ya know yer wife pretty well, James," I said as I handed him a pen and a few notecards. "Now, why don't ya write yer answers down, and we'll bring Jessie back out and see if dat confidence is merited!"
Once he'd finished writing his answers, Wobbuffet took the headphones off of Jessie, and she returned to James's side.
"Okay, Jessie. We just asked James four questions about ya," I told her. "Now I'm gonna ask you the same four questions and see how well yer answers match his!"
Jessie nodded. "Sounds easy enough!"
I smiled at her. "First question. If the two of ya was at an amusement park, what ride would ya never go on?"
"Ugh! The roller coaster! Don't even get me started...." she grumbled.
Once she'd given her answer, James held up his first notecard, showing that he'd given the same answer.
Jessie smiled at James and tousled his hair. He blushed again.
"Okay, next question, Jess," I said. "Finish dis sentence the way ya think yer husband would: If I was Prince Charming and she was Cinderella, I'd know exactly what size the glass slippers would be. Dey'd be a size __."
"That's easy!" came her reply. "My Prince Charming knows that I wear size eight shoes!"
James grinned and held up his second card, showing that he'd matched her again.
"Come on, Meowth! Didn't you ask him anything difficult?" Jessie asked.
I looked over at my assistant. "Hey, Wobbu, are ya sure dose headphones was workin'? Jessie's repeatin' everythin' James said!"
Jessie held up her hands. "I didn't hear a thing! Honest!"
I snickered. "Okay, den. If ya want trickier questions, ya got 'em! What dessert would ya say best describes ya, Jess? Apple tart, vanilla ice cream, or strawberry cheesecake?"
Jessie licked her lips. "Strawberry cheesecake, definitely!" she replied without hesitation. "That's only my favorite dessert...."
James gave her a playful nudge with his elbow and held up the third card. "I said cheesecake, too...but I picked it because you're so damn sexy!"
Now she was blushing just as brightly as he was. "You keep answering these questions correctly, and I'll give you something a lot better than cheesecake for dessert tonight!" she whispered.
James squealed happily.
"Alright, save it til after the bonus round, youse two!" I told them. "I ain't done with ya yet -- ya still hafta answer question number four, Jessie! And here it is. Where's the strangest place you and yer husband ever made whoopie?"
Jessie closed her eyes and thought for a moment. "Hmmm...this is a tough one...."
For the next few minutes, Jessie named off places where she and James had made love (all the same places dat he'd mentioned). I cast another venomous glare at Wobbuffet, but he insisted that Jessie hadn't heard anything while James had been answering the questions.
"....I'm tempted to say the Robo-Mecha-Wobbuffet," she muttered. "Those turbo-kick engines really kicked it into high-gear for us! But...I think I'm going to go with the Arbo-tank. James was so sweet to make that mecha just for me...and I really enjoyed showing him how much I loved it!"
James's eyes widened. "Well I'll be damned -- we matched again, honey!" he said as he held up his final card.
Jessie threw her arms around James and planted a kiss on his cheek. "Good work, sweetie!"
"Wow! I guess James really does know his wife!" I announced. "But dis game ain't over yet -- now it's time ta see how well Jessie knows her husband!"
The audience cheered as Wobbuffet led James over to the gazebo and "isolated" him the same way he'd "isolated" Jessie.
"Ya ready for yer questions, Jess?" I asked as I brought out four more notecards.
She gave me the same confident smile that James had. "Let's do it!"
"Okay, den! Question one! When did you and yer husband share yer first kiss?"
"What kind of kiss are we talking about, here?" she asked. "Peck on the cheek? True love?"
"Just yer first mouth ta mouth kiss," I clarified.
Jessie's brow furrowed. "Hmmm...well, this happened before we became a couple, but it's still the first time James kissed me on the mouth. It was almost four years ago now -- we were still in the bike gang at that point, and we'd gone to a Christmas party." She paused for a moment and chuckled. "James drank a whole six-pack of beer and got drunk...and then he staggered over, planted a big wet one on my mouth, and passed out. I had to spend all the next day taking care of the poor sweetheart because he had such a wicked hangover."
Several members of the audience laughed. Several others "aaawww"ed.
"Interestin' story," I remarked. "Now for question two! How would ya describe yer husband's performance the first time ya made whoopie? Synthetic, athletic, or pathetic?"
Jessie blushed again. Then, she smiled. "Well, I know James told me that he was really nervous and didn't know what he was doing when we shared our first time. But believe me, there was nothing pathetic about his performance! Even then, he knew exactly what to do -- it was so invigorating! I'm going to say athletic!"
"Yeah!" I snickered. "Somethin' tells me youse guys wouldn't be goin' at it the way ya always do if he wasn't satisfyin' ya!"
Everybody in the audience began to laugh again.
Jessie reached over and grabbed me by one of my whiskers. "We don't need your smart-ass commentary, Meowth! Just ask the damn questions!" she growled.
I pulled away from her and rubbed the sore spot on my cheek. "Alright, alright! Don't get yer little blue panties in a twist! Speakin' a which, here's question three! What kinda underwears is yer husband wearin' right now?"
"Oh, please! This is too easy!" she said smugly. "James is wearing a pair of black silk boxer shorts with red hearts on them!"
I winked at her. "Yeah, you would know! But will ya know dis? Question four! Finish dis sentence the way ya think yer husband would: Sometimes, when I look at my wife's chest, I think ta myself, 'Gee, ___________.'"
Jessie folded her arms across her chest. "If he knows what's good for him, James will say, Gee, my Jessie has beautiful breasts, but her sparkling personality and keen intellect are more important to me -- her perfect body is just the icing on the cake!" came her reply.
Yeah, fat chance a dat happenin' -- he's a guy! I said to myself. Then aloud, "Okay, Jess, ya gave some pretty good answers dere! Now let's see what James has ta say!"
Once she'd written down her answers, Wobbuffet brought James back out.
"Alrighty, Jim! Are ya ready ta find out how well Jess knows ya?" I asked.
He nodded. "I sure am!"
"Good! Cuz we're findin' out, whether yer ready or not!" I told him. "First question. When did you and yer wife share yer first kiss? Yer first mouth ta mouth kiss, dat is."
James buried his face in his hands. "Oh, god. I know this one. I'd rather not go into all the details, but Jessie and I had our first mouth to mouth kiss at a bike gang Christmas party almost four years ago...."
"Fortunately, you don't have to tell the story, James," Jessie told him as she held up her first card. "Because I already did!"
James looked back at her and blushed. Jessie winked at him.
"Don't worry, Jimbo -- everybody thinks it's cute," I assured him. "Now, it's time for our next question! How would ya describe yer performance the first time you and yer wife made whoopie? Synthetic, athletic, or pathetic?"
His face flushed more brightly than ever. "Well...no matter how badly I think I did, I know Jess enjoyed it. Since there was nothing fake about what we shared, and she didn't have any complaints, I'm going to use the process of elimination and say athletic."
Jessie leaned over and gave James a kiss on the cheek as she held up her second card and showed him that they'd matched again.
"Holy freakin' crap! Youse guys haven't missed one yet!" I remarked. "And I'm sure you'll match on dis one, too. What kinda underwears are ya wearin' right now, Jimmy?"
James grinned. "I should hope Jess knows this one -- she's only seen my underwear about five times already today! I'm wearing a pair of black silk boxers with red hearts on them!"
"Like I told Meowth -- that one was too easy!" Jessie said as she showed him her third matching answer.
The two of them leaned closer and brushed their lips together.
"Heh, heh, heh. Youse two think ya know each other so well," I snickered. "But I'll be a Mankey's uncle if ya match on dis last question! Finish dis sentence, Jimmy-boy: Sometimes, when I look at my wife's chest, I think ta myself, 'Gee, ___________.'"
James looked down at Jessie's cleavage for a moment. Then, he looked back into her sapphire eyes and took a deep breath. "Okay, here's what I'm thinking right now...and I know that even if I don't match, she'll like this answer. I'm thinking, Gee, my Jessie has the most beautiful breasts in the world. But her wonderful personality and her keen intellect are so much more important to me -- her perfect body and dazzling beauty are just the icing on the cake!"
Jessie gave him a sly smile and held up her card. "It's like you read my mind, James!"
A light sparkled in his emerald eyes as he read the card and saw that he'd practically quoted Jessie's answer verbatim.
Holy shit! What're the freakin' odds?! I wondered. Then aloud, "Are youse guys sure ya didn't overhear each other's answers?"
"Positive!" Jessie replied.
"The only thing I heard was music," James told me.
"Face it, Meowth -- you can't stump soul-mates!" they said in unison.
"We'll see about dat," I retorted as I handed a pen and notecard to each of them. "Now it's time for the bonus round! I'm gonna ask both of ya the same question, and ya gotta turn away from each other and write down yer answers separately! No lookin' at each other for help, no listenin' in, no copyin' offa each other -- dis is the real deal! Are ya ready?"
"Ready as we'll ever be!" they said.
"Okay, here goes. Where do the two of ya see yerselves fifty years from now? And I don't want no generalities, either -- I want at least three specific predictions!"
Jessie and James turned away from each other and began to write. When they finished, they turned their cards over, turned to face each other again, and smiled.
I nodded approvingly. "Alright, you first, Jess!"
Jessie held up her card. "In fifty years, I predict that James and I will still be happily married, we'll have three beautiful children, a whole bunch of beautiful grandchildren...and maybe even a nice farm with orchards and gardens, and stuff!"
I nodded again. "Now it's yer turn, Jimmy!"
James held up his card and grinned at Jessie. "Well, what do you know? I predicted that in fifty years, Jessie and I will still be happily married, have three beautiful children, a whole bunch of beautiful grandchildren...and maybe even a nice farm with orchards and gardens, and stuff, too!"
Jessie gasped and threw her arms around James. He smiled tenderly at her as he returned her embrace. "Why are you so surprised, sweetheart? We talk about our future all the time!"
"I know," she replied. "I'm just surprised that we worded our answers exactly the same!"
I couldn't help but smile as I watched the two of them go into another liplock. They were right -- there was no way I could stump them!
"Congratulations, Jessie and James -- ya got a perfect score!" I announced when they finally released each other. "We don't have any cash and prizes for ya today, but I will say dis. Dere ain't too many couples out dere who know each other as well as you do. I guess it just goes ta show how perfectly matched ya are! I predict dat all dose great predictions ya made about yer future are gonna come true! If anybody can make a marriage last forever, it's youse guys!"
All of our guests applauded when I said this.
"Take a bow, guys! You've earned it!" Mondo exclaimed.
Jessie and James blushed for the thousandth time that day as they slowly got to their feet and bowed.
"You know, all this talk about marriage lasting forever's got me to thinking," Sofia commented. "We all know that the twenty-fifth anniversary is silver, the fiftieth is gold, and the seventy-fifth is diamond. But what about after that?"
"Yeah! How come nobody ever makes a big deal out of a hundredth anniversary?" Marcello asked.
"Maybe because nobody's ever been able to survive a hundred years of marriage before!" Oakley laughed.
"Maybe the hundred year anniversary can be the medicine anniversary!" Annie suggested.
"What kind of gift would one give on an occasion like that?" Gary wondered. "Viagra?"
Jessie and James exchanged wicked grins when he said this.
"You know, Viagra comes in liquid form now," said Jessie.
"Yeah!" James chimed in. "It's called Mydixadril!"
"Dat's right! Now guys can pour demselves a stiff one whenever dey want!" I said, delivering the punch-line.
Everybody started laughing again.
"Now, dat'd be the perfect gift ta give a couple dat manages ta survive a hundred years a marriage!" I continued. "It'd sure get a rise out of 'em!"
"Ugh!" Jessie groaned.
James placed a hand to his temple and sighed. "That was bad!"
Fortunately, I don't think Jess and Jim will need any form of Viagra on their medicine anniversary -- they can always "rise" to the occasion without help! Wobbuffet quipped.
"Alright, that's enough!" James snapped.
"Don't start with us, or you're going back in your poke ball!" Jessie warned Wobbuffet.
I held up my paws. "Okay, got it! No more raunchy sex-jokes!"
Not for a couple minutes, at least! Wobbuffet laughed.
Jessie and James rolled their eyes. They knew all too well that trying to stop me and Wobbu from making dirty jokes was like trying to stop the sun from rising and setting.
"Hey, while we're on the subject a gifts, why don't youse guys open yer presents and see what everybody got ya?" I suggested.
Their expressions softened when I said this. "That's not a bad idea, Meowth!" they said in unison.
As we started heading for the gazebo, however, we were met with an unpleasant surprise -- Ash was there...and he was eyeing the wedding cake and the presents.
I felt the bile rising in the back of my throat as I watched him picking up the presents and shaking them. "What the hell does dat twerp think he's doin'?!" I growled.
"He probably thinks that if there's a party, then he's automatically invited," Jessie grumbled.
"Or worse," said James. "It looks like he thinks this party is for him!"
I looked up at my two friends -- they were every bit as outraged as I was that the twerp was crashing their wedding reception. I wanted nothing more than to give Ash the Fury-Swiping and cussing-out of a lifetime, but I knew that I couldn't. If he somehow managed to get it through his thick skull that this party was for Jessie and James and that they'd just gotten married, there'd be no end to hassling and torment he'd subject us to.
But we still couldn't let him ruin the party. What were we going to do?
Fortunately, Jessie, James, and I didn't have to do anything -- our guests were none too thrilled to see Ash either, and they were more than happy to take matters into their own hands.
"Excuse me! What do you think you're doing with those presents?!" Lulu demanded.
Ash smiled at her. "My friends and I are on the way to Olivine City, and we just made it into town today. Brock sent me to the grocery store to get some food so that he can make dinner, but I got lost on the way to the store. I guess it's good that I did, though, otherwise I wouldn't have found this party that you're having to honor my outstanding skills as a pokemon master...."
Jessie and James buried their faces in their hands.
"Oh, jeez, he really does think this party is for him! What a dumbshit!" James groaned.
Jessie shook her head in disbelief. "And he just now arrived in Cape Jasmine?! It's only ten miles from the town where he met Temacu last week!"
"Heh. Dat twerp is livin' proof dat one doesn't make good time by always wanderin' around with dere head up dere ass," I commented.
As Ash continued to rattle the presents and decide which one he wanted to open first, Gary stormed over and grabbed the packages from him. "Ash, you moron! This party isn't for you -- it's a wedding...and you weren't invited!"
Ash scowled. "GARY!!!! What are YOU doing here?!"
Gary smirked. "Well, unlike you, I WAS invited!"
"Grrr! I bet you told them not to invite me so that you could have all the cake and presents to yourself!" Ash said through clenched teeth. "You're such a jerk, Gary! I challenge you to a pokemon battle!"
Gary rolled his eyes. "Ash, just go away. Please?"
I shook my head and sighed as I watched the exchange. Poor Gary knows as well as we do how irritating Ash is when he throws a shit-fit.
Gary tried to explain several more times that the party wasn't for him, but Ash refused to listen to reason. Finally, Gary just threw his hands into the air and turned away. "I give up," he grumbled.
As Ash continued to rant, Cairdea walked over and smacked him upside the head. "Listen, you dumbass! You weren't invited to this party! Nobody here likes you! Now, if you don't shut the hell up and go away, then I'm going to rip your tongue out and make you wear it as a necktie! You got that?!"
"Augh! Why is everybody here so mean?!" Ash whined.
"Maybe because you're mean to our friends!" Rachel told him.
"You're just as bad as Team Rocket and Gary!" Ash shouted. "I challenge you to a pokemon battle, too!"
"Look, kid, nobody here is going to battle you!" Rhiannon told him. "Just go away and let our friends have their party in peace!"
"What's the matter with you?!" Ash demanded. "Why are you all taking up for Gary and kicking me out of MY party?! I'm a better pokemon trainer than he is -- I got in the top sixteen at Indigo League, I won the Orange League championship, I got...."
"Okay, that does it!" Rhiannon growled. With that, she grabbed a bottle of sparkling cider from a nearby ice-bucket and began to shake it up. Then, Gary, Cairdea, and Rachel each grabbed a bottle and started shaking them, too. Once they'd built up enough pressure, they popped the corks and hit Ash with a giant jet of bubbly.
"Augh! This isn't fair!" Ash whined again as the torrent of sparkling cider slammed into him and blasted him away. "I'm not the one that's supposed to get blasted off!"
"Good riddance!" Rachel shouted after him.
"Sorry we had to waste your cider like that," Rhiannon apologized. "I just couldn't stand that stupid kid anymore."
"Don't worry about it," James told her.
"Yeah! Dat ruled!" I exclaimed.
"I'm just glad that the twerp is gone...and that he didn't figure out what the party is really for," Jessie remarked.
"Jeez. This reminds me of the time Ash invited himself to my tenth birthday party -- he saw the cake and presents and assumed that we were throwing a party for him," Gary sighed. "My parents had to call his mom to come and get him. Fortunately, he didn't open any of my presents or take any cake, but damn if he didn't make a nuisance of himself. I guess some things never change...."
"Heh. I guess if ol' Ashy-boy don't make it as a pokemon trainer, he can always be the Pallet Town village idiot!" I snickered.
Yeah! That kid's got "village idiot" written all over him, said Wobbuffet.
"Alright, can we please not talk about the twerp anymore?" Jessie asked. "Just thinking about his raging stupidity is giving me a migraine!"
James nodded. "Yeah. Let's get back to opening our presents! Then, we can all have some cake!"
This suggestion cheered everybody up. And as Jessie and James began to unwrap their gifts, putting Ash's unpleasantness out of our minds was a simple matter. There was quite an impressive haul of presents, too -- even though we'd made it clear that bringing a gift was optional, everybody had something for Jessie and James. Annie and Oakley had provided us with their music and ministry services free of charge, Dalila had catered the reception, and Officer Jenny had made us official citizens of The Big Orange. And even the inexpensive and gag gifts that everybody else had brought were all wonderful and thoughtful. Terra and Celes gave us a subscription to their Black Rose manga, which had become a series after its extremely successful debut; Rhiannon and Laine gave us a DVD of the entire first season of That's My Shrubb!, which had also become a hit series; the Cat Islanders gave us a golden maneki neko figurine; Cairdea gave us each a custom set of polyhedral dice; Blissey and Nurse Joy gave us a first-aid kit; Lulu and Rachel gave us a lifetime membership in the Dessert of the Month Club on behalf of Wobbuffet Village; Mondo gave us a set of ear plugs to protect us from Ash's incessant whining; Gary gave us a jumbo bottle of extra-strength Tylenol for all of the blast-offs and stupidity-migraines that the twerps inflict on us; Cassandra gave Jessie and James a set of herbal bath soaps that she'd made herself; Sofia and Marcello gave Jessie and James a pack of flavored condoms; and even the boss had gotten something for us!
"The boss got us a present?!" Jessie said in disbelief as she picked up the final package.
Mondo nodded. "He knew about the wedding, but he couldn't attend. He still wanted to get you something, though," he explained.
"I wonder what it is," James remarked.
"Only one way to find out!" Jessie said. As she tore the wrapping paper away, however, she sweatdropped.
James raised an eyebrow when he saw what the gift was. "His and Hers brass knuckles?!"
Jessie facefaulted. "How romantic."
I leaned closer and examined them. They weren't just any old brass knuckles -- they'd been custom-made for us! There was even a little set of cat-sized ones for Me-owth! "Hey! Dese babies have lines from the motto engraved on 'em!" I exclaimed.
Jessie and James looked more closely at the brass knuckles.
"Hey! You're right, Meowth!" James exclaimed. "Now we can really leave an impression when we say the motto!"
"We should've tested these out while Ash was here!" Jessie laughed.
"Yeah!" I agreed. "Dat woulda been funny ta see him walkin' around with Team Rocket blast off at the speed of light! Surrender now, or prepare to fight! Me-owth! Dat's right! printed on his face for a few days!"
"Oh, well! Some other time," said James.
Jessie smiled at him. "Yeah. But right now, let's take a look at all the other great things we got! Like these herbal soaps -- they smell just like a garden full of flowers!"
James became starry-eyed as he sniffed one of the clear green bars of soap. "Ooohhh! I can't wait to try these out!"
"Thank you, Cassandra!" they said in unison.
Cassandra nodded. "Don't mention it!"
"And check out dis first-aid kit!" I said as I held up Nurse Joy and Blissey's gift. "Dis'll really come in handy...especially if youse guys wanna, ya know...play doctor, or somethin'!"
James's face turned red again. "Behave, Meowth!"
"Aw, come on, Jimmy!" I laughed. "You know ya want naughty nurse Jessie ta make ya turn yer head and cough!"
Now Jessie was blushing, too. "Knock it off, Meowth!"
"Let's just ignore him and see what else we got," James told her as he picked up another gift. "Ooohhh! Like this Dessert of the Month Club membership!"
Jessie's eyes lit up when she read the card. "Every single month, a brand new delicious, decadent, and delectable dessert will be delivered directly to our door! Now, that's what I call a sweet present!"
They smiled at Lulu and Rachel. "Thank you so much!"
"You're welcome!" they replied.
I grinned as I picked up another of their presents. "Speakin' a desserts, check out dese flavored condoms Sofia and Marcello got for ya!"
It's a condom! It's a mint! It's a condiment! Wobbuffet quipped.
"Oh, dese don't come in mint flavor -- dese are the fancy ones!" I told him. "Dey've got chocolate truffle, tiramisu, and strawberry cheesecake! Heh. I bet I know what Jess is havin' for dessert tonight!"
Jessie blushed again and grabbed the box of condoms from me. "Mind your own business, you nosy thing! These are OUR presents!" she snapped.
James frowned at me. "Haven't you ever heard the expression, curiosity killed the cat?"
"Yeah, but satisfaction brought him back!" I countered.
The two of them rolled their eyes.
When Jessie and James finished admiring all of their presents and thanking everybody, it was time for cake. We all gathered around and watched as Jessie and James took the knife in their hands and cut the first two pieces together. Then, they each took one of the pieces and held them up so that they could eat from each other's hands. (Dey'd agreed beforehand dat dey wasn't gonna smash any cake in each other's faces -- dey both considered dat ta be a really stupid and childish tradition...not ta mention, a waste of perfectly good food!) After they finished eating their pieces of cake, they gently licked the icing from each other's fingers. As they leaned closer and began to lick the stray bits of icing from each other's lips, I took the knife and started cutting pieces of cake for everybody else.
Once everybody had been served, I cut two more pieces of cake for Jessie and James, and we all sat down together to enjoy our dessert. And if I thought the batter I'd tasted yesterday was good, then the actual cake was ten times better! It was a beautiful shade of red -- the same color as Jessie's hair, and the texture was soft and fluffy, like real velvet! It still had that wonderful chocolatey flavor, and along with the sweet, creamy icing and sugary roses, it was like heaven on earth!
As I savored my cake and watched Jessie and James feeding each other again, I congratulated myself once more for coming up with this idea.
After we finished eating cake, Jessie and James were ready for the tossing of the garter and bouquet and their first dance as bride and groom. Jessie seated herself on the chair that was still in the middle of the dance-floor, and Mondo, Gary, Wobbuffet, and I gathered around and watched as James lifted her skirt and slid the little lace garter off of her thigh. (Oakley was already engaged ta Annie, so he didn't count as single.) Once he'd removed Jessie's garter, James fired it at us like a slingshot. The four of us made a mad dash for it, but Mondo was the fastest, and he ended up catching the garter (and bein' the butt of all the "next victim" jokes.)
Mondo blushed as he put the garter on the sleeve of his jacket. "Guess I'd better find myself a girlfriend -- otherwise, it may be awhile before there's another wedding!" he laughed.
"How old are you, Mondo? Fifteen?" Marcello asked.
He nodded. "Yes, sir."
"That's what I thought! We have a granddaughter that's about your age!" Sofia told him.
The two of them beamed as Marcello brought out his wallet and produced a photograph.
Mondo's indigo eyes lit up when he saw the picture. Unable to resist, I jumped onto his shoulder so that I could have a look, too. And I could see why Mondo was so impressed -- the girl had long auburn hair and large, crystal-green eyes. She looked a little like a younger version of Sofia.
"Whoa! She's cute!" I commented. "You should ask her out, Mondo!"
"Yeah," he sighed.
"Her name is Felicia," said Marcello.
"If you give us your phone number or e-mail address, we'll be glad to set you two up," Sofia offered. "I'm sure she'll like you!"
"That'd be great!" Mondo exclaimed. "Thank you so much!"
As he gave his e-mail address to Sofia and Marcello and got them to tell him more about Felicia, I turned my attention back to Jessie and James. Several of the women were on the dance-floor, waiting for Jessie to toss her bouquet of white roses. When she turned away from them and threw the bouquet over her shoulder, most of the women raced to catch it. But in the end, it landed in the arms of Blissey, who'd been hanging back because she didn't want to get trampled by everybody else.
Jessie grinned and clapped her hands when she turned back around and saw that her old childhood friend had been the one who caught the bouquet. "Congratulations, Blissey!" she cheered.
The rest of the women smiled at Blissey and applauded her, too.
Blissey's face turned even more pink than it already was as she hugged the bouquet and inhaled the sweet fragrance of the roses.
"Thanks again, Blissey," Jessie said as she knealt by her friend's side and gave her a hug. "For clearing our name, coming to our wedding, being my maid of honor, loaning me your pendant...everything!"
Blissey hugged back. Don't mention it, Jessie! It was my pleasure!
When the two of them released each other, Jessie took off the egg pendant she was wearing and gave it back to Blissey. Then, James came to Jessie's side and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Care to dance?" he asked.
Jessie's eyes sparkled as he brought her to her feet. "I'd love to!" she replied.
As Jessie and James wrapped their arms around each other, everybody cleared off the dance-floor so that they could have the first dance to themselves. And as the soft, melodic music of The Only Thing by Stabbing Westward began to play, the two of them gazed lovingly into each other's eyes and sang along:
There's so many things
We need so desperately,
And the TV preaches
We can't live without them.
You tell me what is neat,
I'll tell ya what I believe --
If I ever were without it,
Then I'd be worthless.
'Cause you are everything,
The only thing that matters!
You are everything,
The only thing I need!
You are everything,
The only thing that matters!
Yes, you are everything,
You are the air I breathe!
I wonder if someday
We took all their toys away,
You think they'd find the strength
To go on living?
'Cause deep inside I know
If I lost everything I owned,
I'd be a king
As long as you're beside me.
'Cause you are everything,
The only thing that matters!
Yes, you are everything,
The only thing I need!
Our love is everything,
The only thing that matters!
Yes, you are everything,
You are the air I breathe!
The air I breathe.....
I hope someday they find
A place to bid online
Where all lost souls
Can buy their lives some meaning.
I know we'll survive --
All we need's more time.
As long as we've got love, and art,
And the ocean.
And we are everything,
The only thing that matters!
We are everything,
There's nothing else I need!
Our love is everything,
The only thing that matters!
Yes, we are everything,
You are the air I breathe!
The air I breathe....
You are everything,
The only thing that matters!
You are everything,
There's nothing else I need!
Yes, you are everything,
The only thing that matters!
Our love is everything,
You are the air I breathe!
You are everything,
You are the air I breathe!
The air I breathe....
When the song ended, Jessie and James rubbed noses and brushed their lips together. "I love you," they whispered in unison.
As they kissed again, another song called You Complete Me, which was also by Stabbing Westward, began to play, and several people joined them on the dance-floor. But I doubt Jessie and James even noticed -- they were lost in the moment...and each other again.
While Jessie and James danced the night away, I helped myself to the leftovers at the buffet table and chatted with some of our old friends. It made me a little sad that everybody had to leave tomorrow and that this wonderful weekend would soon be over, but it was nice to know that the happy memories we'd made today would last forever.
As all of their favorite love songs played, Jessie and James remained in their embrace, gently swaying to the music and gazing into each other's eyes. With every passing minute, it seemed like it was getting more and more difficult for them to keep their desire in check.
"Gettin' hungry for dose flavored condoms, Jess?" I ventured as I came to their side.
Jessie stopped nibbling on James's ear for a moment and frowned at me. "Mind your own business, Meowth!"
James's face turned as red as the rose on his lapel as he removed his hand from Jessie's breast.
"Aw, don't be embarrassed -- everybody knows yer anxious ta go on yer honeymoon," I told them. "We don't mind if ya cut out early."
"Are you sure?" Jessie asked.
"Yeah!" said James. "We don't want to be rude...."
I winked at them. "Sure I'm sure! Besides, it's not like yer never gonna see everybody again once ya leave the party -- while youse guys was dancin', we all made plans ta get tagedda at the Cape Jasmine Hotel tomorrow mornin' for Sunday brunch," I replied. "Now go on! Go enjoy yer weddin' night! We're perfectly capable of partyin' without ya!"
Jessie and James exchanged looks and blushed. Then, Jessie grinned and started running.
"Last one to the honeymoon suite is a rotten Exeggcute!" she cheered.
"Heee!" James cried happily as he gave chase.
Jessie squealed with delight as James caught up to her and playfully spanked her behind.
I couldn't help but laugh as I watched the two of them racing each other back to the cabin. After a moment, however, they stopped, did an about-face, and returned to the gazebo. Jessie and James flashed me a wicked grin as they grabbed the herbal soaps and flavored condoms. Then, they resumed their race back to the cabin.
"Is our lovely couple off to celebrate their wedding night?" Oakley ventured as he came to my side.
I nodded. "Yep! Dey was gettin' pretty antsy, so I told 'em it'd be okay ta leave early."
Oakley chuckled, but quickly became serious again. "Hey, Meowth, can you do me a favor?"
"Sure thing," I replied. "Whaddaya need?"
"When we get together for brunch tomorrow, can you make sure Jessie and James bring their marriage license? I should've asked them about it while they were here, but it slipped my mind...."
"Marriage license?" I queried.
"I need their signatures on it, and then I need to sign it and get it filed so that they can be issued their marriage certificate," he said.
Now I was confused. "Marriage certificate?"
"Legal documentation that a wedding ceremony took place and that they're married," he explained. "That's what seals the deal, but I need to file the marriage license in order to get it for them."
I felt a sweatdrop rolling down the side of my face. "Uh...dey ain't got one," I told him.
He gave me a quizzical look.
"Dey wasn't plannin' on dis bein' a real weddin', so dey didn't do any a dat legal mumbo jumbo stuff."
"Oh, that's right," he muttered.
I hung my head. "So...what does dat mean? Dis wasn't a real weddin' after all, and dey ain't really married?"
"No, it was a real wedding, alright. And Jessie and James are officially married in spirit and in the eyes of the Pagan clergy. They're just not officially married on paper, that's all," he said.
Now I was beginning to understand. "So...dey really did get married...but technically, dey ain't really married til dey get a marriage license?" I ventured.
"Exactly," came his reply. "In order to tie the knot, you have to cut through the red tape. The certificate doesn't really mean anything...not compared to the actual commitment, anyway. But until they get that piece of paper, for all practical purposes, they're still single."
I placed a paw on my forehead. "Ugh. Where's dat Tylenol Gary got for us? Dis is givin' Me-owth a headache!"
Oakley laughed. "Don't worry about it, Meowth. Since they've already had a ceremony, getting the license and my signature should be easy. The hard part will be telling them that they still have a bit of unfinished business to take care of before their marriage is completely official."
I poured myself another glass of sparkling cider and washed down a couple tablets of Tylenol. "Ah, maybe dis is for the best," I sighed. "Dey wanted ta wait a couple years before dey really got married, anyway. I guess dey can get dere marriage license and certificate and junk when James gets dat diamond ring for Jess...and den dey can have dere dream-weddin' and renew dere vows.
"I think I'll wait awhile before breakin' the news to 'em, though," I continued. "Don't wanna spoil dere fun, ya know."
"Yeah," Oakley agreed. "I doubt it'll even be an issue, but you still need to tell them before too long." He smiled slyly and shook a finger at me. "That means no waiting til the first baby shows up!"
I winked at him. "Don't worry. I won't wait dat long. But I will wait til the honeymoon's over before I spring it on 'em."
He laughed again. "Knowing those two, that's gonna be one long honeymoon -- they've been like a pair of newlyweds ever since they became a couple!"
"Dat's what I'm countin' on, my friend," I told him. "Dat's what I'm countin' on...."
True to my prediction, the party was able to last for a couple more hours after the bride and groom left. Once all the food had been eaten and all the music had been listened to, however, things finally started to wind down, and the guests began to leave so that they could be rested for tomorrow's brunch and their trips home. And once everybody started to leave, I got to work on cleaning up.
Since the trellises, tables, and chairs belonged to the park, an employee would come by to pick them up in the morning. And since the serving dishes, plates, silverware, glasses, and cloth napkins had come from Dalila's restaurant, she'd taken them with her when she left. This made cleanup a simple matter for Me-owth -- all I had to do was throw out a few pieces of garbage, take the banner down from the gazebo, and gather the flowers and presents.
And I wasn't alone while I worked, either -- Wobbuffet and the other pokemon were still there, and even Gary had stayed to keep me company.
"Thanks again for inviting me to the wedding, Meowth," he said as he helped me fold the white banner. "I had a blast!"
"Ah, don't mention it," I replied. "Yer our friend -- we couldn't have a party without ya!"
This made Gary smile. "I had fun meeting your other friends, too."
I smiled back. "Yeah! Dey're great, ain't dey?"
He nodded. "You know, I'm always running into people who say they've met Ash and befriended him, but most of them are pretty annoying or just plain mean. Not so with the people who were here today -- they all seem really nice. I guess it just goes to show that any idiot can be mean, but it takes a special kind of person to see past Team Rocket and like you guys for who you really are."
"Can't argue with dat!" I laughed.
"Anyway," he continued, "I had a lot of fun this weekend. And that bit with Oakley turning out to be a real minister and the ceremony turning out to be a real wedding was priceless! I'm glad Jessie and James didn't mind -- if anybody deserves to be happily married, it's those two!"
"I think dat's why I did it," I told him. "Cuz I just couldn't wait for dere weddin' any longer!"
Gary gave me a thumbs-up. "Well, it worked! Great plan, Meowth!"
I smiled again. "It was, wasn't it?"
"So, where are you guys staying tonight?" he asked, changing the subject.
"Uh...I dunno yet," I confessed.
Well, I know we're not staying in the cabin, Wobbuffet remarked.
"Yeah," I sighed. "Don't wanna disturb Jess and Jim on dere weddin' night."
"I have a room at the pokemon center -- you're welcome to crash with me," Gary offered.
"Really? Ya don't mind?" I asked.
"Not at all!" came his reply. "I'd love the company."
"Well, in dat case, you've got yerself some company!" I exclaimed.
When we finished cleaning everything up, Gary helped us carry all of the flowers and presents to the pokemon center. I put the things that didn't have an immediate use in storage so they wouldn't get lost or broken, and I set everything else aside to give to Jessie and James in the morning.
Once I'd taken care of the gifts, we went to Gary's room and helped him set out some extra cots so that we'd all have a place to sleep. I stayed up and chatted with him for awhile after the rest of the pokemon had fallen asleep, but before long, the events of the past week finally started catching up to me, and I found myself drifting off to sleep as well....
After falling asleep, I found myself standing in the middle of an immense rose garden. Jessie and James were at my side. The two of them were dressed in a white gown and a dark blue suit, and they were repeating the vows they'd given at today's ceremony. As they placed the rings on each other's fingers, however, I noticed something -- the bands were made of gold rather than plastic, and they had tiny ruby hearts, sapphire moons, and emerald shamrocks in the settings.
Once they'd exchanged rings, Jessie and James's lips met in a passionate kiss, and rose petals began to rain down on them from the heavens. As I looked to the sky, I swore that I could perceive the spirits of Miyamoto and Jim and Rose Morgan smiling down on us and showering us with rose petals.
When their kiss ended, James leaned down and planted another kiss on Jessie's stomach, which was still perfectly flat. Then, he took her in his arms again, and they held each other as close as they possibly could.
"I love you," they whispered in unison as their lips met once more.
In the back of my mind, I knew that this was only a dream...but I also knew that this dream was going to be real someday! James really was going to get Jessie that diamond ring, and they really would have their perfect wedding...and I was going to be an uncle!
My eyes filled with tears as I watched them. I was right, I said to myself. All dose great predictions dey made about dere future really are gonna come true!
When I awoke the next morning, I found myself consumed by a feeling of total peace and happiness. I knew that it'd be a couple years before my dream became reality, but I also knew that when it did, it'd be every bit as wonderful as I'd imagined. It was reassuring to know that even though our life may not be perfect now, it'll all pay off someday soon. In the meantime, we'll keep striving for that dream and getting one step closer every day.
And Jessie and James had taken a big step yesterday...a very big step.
As I sat up in bed and looked out the window at the pink and purple light of dawn peeking through the curtain of green forest that surrounded Cape Jasmine, I found myself consumed by thoughts of Jessie, James, and our future together. I felt like I could sit there and daydream forever!
"You're up early," a voice said, snapping me from my reverie.
I turned around and saw that Gary was sitting up in his own bed. He looked like he'd been staring out the window, too.
"Yeah. Still too excited ta sleep, I guess," I told him.
"Me, too," he confessed. "I'm looking forward to seeing everybody at brunch today. I'm looking forward to going back to Pallet Town, too. My mom and dad are on their way home from another trip, so I'd like to visit them...and grandpa and May for a couple weeks."
"Dat sounds nice," I said.
He nodded. "What about you?"
"Once brunch is over, it'll prolly be back ta the daily grind for us," I replied. "But Jessie and James's newlywed bliss oughtta shake things up for awhile."
"No doubt!" Gary chuckled. "I can only imagine some of the ribbing you and Wobbuffet have in store for them!"
I laughed. "Oh, yeah! Dey're definitely in for it! Speakin' a which, I should prolly get goin' soon. Somebody needs ta get Jess and Jim so dey won't be late for brunch -- knowin' dem, dey're either still bein' amorous or still sleepin' it off."
He smiled. "I won't keep you, then."
After getting cleaned up and waking all of the pokemon, we said good-bye to Gary and promised that we'd see him at brunch later. Then, we set out for the cabin.
By the time we reached our destination, it was half past eight. An empty bottle of sparkling cider and two glass goblets were on the coffee table, and a thin stream of gray smoke wafted from the smoldering embers in the fireplace. Red rose petals were scattered everywhere, and the air was thick with the warm, sweet fragrance of scented candles.
Heh. Think they enjoyed themselves last night? Wobbuffet remarked.
"I'll be damned if dey didn't," I told him.
When we peeked into the bedroom, we found Jessie and James lying pleasantly spent in each other's arms. Jessie's head was resting on James's chest, and their naked bodies were engulfed by a sea of red rose petals. Their fingers were twined, and sunlight was streaming through the window blinds, glinting off of the red and green rings they were still wearing. The light was also filling the room with a soft, pink hue and making Jessie and James seem to glow even more than they already were.
They were almost too beautiful to be real...like two radiant angels come to earth.
Hey, aren't we going to wake them up? Wobbuffet whispered as I walked into the room and draped a satin sheet over them.
"Ah, let 'em sleep," I whispered back. "It's another three hours til brunch -- we don't hafta disturb 'em just yet."
Wobbuffet nodded and headed back into the other room. You're right. They need their rest.
As I started to follow him, I glanced back at Jessie and James one more time, and my smile grew even wider than it already was. They looked so peaceful as they slept in each other's arms, as if they were having a pleasant dream. Who knows? Maybe they were having the same dream that I did!
In the back of my mind, I knew that I had to wake them up...and tell them about the marriage license eventually, but I promised myself that I wouldn't do either until I absolutely had to. Until then, I'd leave them to their pleasant dreams and wedded bliss.
Hey, I know a good thing when I see it! And who am I to mess with a good thing?
I did lots of research for this one. First, I researched flower names and their meanings, so all the flowers in this story are there for a reason. Red roses mean passion and true love (that one's obvious), white roses mean purity, cape jasmine means "you're lovely," and ivy means fidelity, marital love, and friendship. Second, I researched various types of weddings, and the ceremony that Jessie and James had is an actual Pagan Handfasting. (I made a few changes to the sermon and the vows, but for the most part, the Pagan ceremonies didn't require that much "motto"fying because they already did a terrific job of capturing our heroes' essence!)
And last but not least, special thanks to my friends, Shigeru1313 and Hot Lips (who had cameos in this story -- they were Rhiannon and Rachel, respectively). They both helped me come up with ideas for the gifts that everybody got. I'd also like to give an extra special thanks to Shigeru1313 for the beautiful illustration of Jessie and James in their bride and groom outfits! She did an excellent job, as always! *.* Additionally, I make a few references to her story, More Than Allies, since she wrote it to fit into my timeline, and I drew a lot of inspiration from our conversations and RPs. Thanks again! I couldn't have done it without ya! *hugs* And more special thanks go to Christine for the gorgeous illustration of the newlywed Jessie and James and their pokemon entourage, and to Jupiter for the sweet illustration of James thanking Cassandra for her wedding gift! ^__^
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