Pokemon: Reunions and Resolutions
a fanfic by Jaelle and Orla

***

Disclaimer:

We do not own Ash, Misty, Brock, Team Rocket, Pikachu and the other 150 Pokemon, who are far too many to name individually. Though we'd like to catch them all - except Jigglypuff because we'd kill the little fluff ball after listening to _that_ song too much (if we could stay awake)! *Achem* Anyway, Pokemon belongs to it's owners, Japanese and otherwise - you know who you are.

***

This story takes place about eight years later than the current Pokemon TV series.

***

C & C welcome, but flames will be answered with a flame-thrower from Charizard.

Comments to: ladyorla@yahoo.com or jaelle@ihug.co.nz

***

Part 5: Mishap

***

Misty blinked and muttered as a piece of sunlight slipped through the curtains and hit her face. She rolled over and tried to recapture sleep, but it was too late. Yawning and rubbing her eyes she sat up and took a few moments to orientate herself.

"Ugh... what a night," she muttered. "Definitely the most eventful party I've been to for a while."

On the pillow beside her, a small egg like pokemon woke up. "Toge-Priii!" it trilled at her, waving it's small arms.

Misty smiled. "Good morning, Togepei." she said. "You sleep okay?"

"Pri!"

"Good." Misty got out of bed and pulled on her dressing gown. She glanced at the dress lying crumpled on the stool by the dressing table and winced as the memories returned. First Fletcher, then Team Rocket - no, EX-Team Rocket, and then cleaning up after the mess caused by Pikachu's reaction to Jesse and James.

"Poor Pikachu," Misty said to Togepei as she selected some clothing to wear. "It was really contrite when it found out that Jesse and James were no longer the bad guys!"

She paused. And then... then there was the problem, if that was the right word, with Ash. She was certain that he had been going to tell how he felt about her before Jesse and James turned up. *He's been _acting_ as if he's jealous, but can I be sure? It's been such a long time since we were together, he could be mistaken in how he's feeling and that would be a disaster!* Misty sighed.

"Psyduck?"

Misty whirled around. "Wha...? How did you get out of your pokeball?" she asked the vacant eyed Psyduck who was tugging on her dressing gown. "What is it? Are you hungry? I bet you are, well, you'll have to wait until I've had a shower and dressed. Then I'll give you guys some exercise to, okay?"

"Psy?"

"Togeprii!"

Fifteen minutes later Misty cautiously crept downstairs carrying her pokeballs and Togepei, with Psyduck following behind. She'd heard snores coming from Ash's bedroom, so he was obviously not up and there was no sound from Brock, Joy or Richie's room. Obviously everyone was still sleeping off the previous night.

She entered the living room and tiptoed past the couch bed on which Jesse and James were fast asleep. Jesse was curled up, while James looked as if he was about to fall off the bed any second. They both still looked slightly singed, but Misty guessed that they were used to it by now.

In the kitchen she found Sasha Ketchum sitting at the table, drinking coffee and reading a magazine. She looked up as Misty entered.

"Good morning, Misty!" Sasha said enthusiastically and quietly. "Are you the first one up?"

"It looks like it." said Misty. "How are you this morning, Mrs Ketchum?"

"Oh fine, it was an exciting party, wasn't it?"

"Er... I guess you could call it that." Misty said.

Sasha looked at her in concern. "Oh, I'm sorry Misty, it must have been quite stressful for you! How are you feeling?"

Misty smiled. "I'm okay, really. It was alarming seeing Fletcher, but I'm glad he got what he deserved!"

"Morning." a yawny voice interrupted and Jesse stumbled into the kitchen. "Do I smell coffee?" she mumbled.

Sasha got up. "Good morning, Jesse. I'll get you a cup - black or white?"

Jesse fell into the chair Sasha had vacated. "Black, and a white with three sugars for James... please." she pulled out a comb and began to work on tidying her long hair.

As Sasha started making the coffee, Misty sat down opposite to Jesse. "Don't you say please very often, Jesse?" she asked teasingly.

Jesse paused and glared sleepily at her. "Shut up." she said. "I am _not_ a morning person."

"Isn't that the truth," said James also entering and sitting down. "Good morning, Misty. Oh, thank you, Mrs Ketchum." he smiled at Sasha as she put a mug of coffee in front of him.

"I'm really sorry about what happened last night." said Sasha. "Are you sure you're both alright?"

"Oh yes," James reassured her. "It was just a misunderstanding and we've been shocked by Pikachu so many times, so no hard feelings."

"Speak for yourself," muttered Jesse. "My hair got fried and after I'd styled it so nicely too! And then that rude girl in the pink dress _laughed_ at me!"

"I think she was laughing at both of us, Jesse."

"Whatever, I still hate her." Jesse slugged down her coffee and got up. "I needed that! I'm going to have a shower now." she said and walked out.

Misty shook her head. "Jesse is still so rude."

James sipped his coffee and smiled. "But that's part of her charm."

"Hmm... you must love her very much!"

There was knock on the external kitchen door. Sasha went and opened it.

"Oh, Gary!" she smiled at the brown haired young man. "Please come in."

Gary stepped inside. "Good morning Mrs Ketchum," he saw Misty at the table. "Misty, I'm glad you're up."

"Oh?" Misty felt a bit wary, then pushed that feeling aside, Gary had helped her out last night! "What can I do for you, Gary?"

"Actually, I was wondering if you'd like to go for a walk?" he asked her.

Misty blinked. Gary _asked_ for something? Politely??!! That's it, call the newspapers - the world is ending.

"Uhmmmm..." *He's obviously delusional, hmmm... what do you do with lunatics - aha! Placate them until you can get proper help!* "Okay."

"Great!" Gary stepped out of the way and then followed her down the garden path as they walked towards the road. "If we go right, there's a nice stream half a kilometre away. I thought we could give our pokemon a break. I believe you specialize in water pokemon?"

"Yes, yes I do." said Misty nervously.

"Thought so," said Gary smugly. "I never forget the details."

***

Back at the house, Ash snorted and woke up suddenly. "YUCK! What a horrible dream!" he said, sitting up. "Eurgh!"

"Pikachu?" Pikachu sleepily inquired.

"It was disgusting! I dreamt that Gary and Misty were dating!"

"PIKA??!!!"

"You said it." Ash stretched and then froze as the bed creaked ominously beneath him. "Hmmm... maybe I have grown a little since I was last here." he allowed. Yawning, he glanced out the window and choked.

"Misty? GARY??? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!"

***

"Did you hear something?" Misty asked.

"Nope," said Gary firmly. "This way. Has Grandfather told you how his research on Togepei was going? I have to say, I'm curious as to how he will evolve!"

Misty filled him in on the results so far as they walked (very little) and then wound up telling him all about why Psyduck wandered around on his own and got in and out of the pokeball as he pleased. By the time she'd finished this narrative, they'd arrived at the river.

"Oh this is perfect!" She cried. "My pokemon have been cooped up for so long!" She began opening pokeballs.

"Starmie! Staryu! Horsea! Seadra!"

"Yes, I heard that you'd been having troubles lately. Word is that the Cerulean Gym has fallen on hard times." Gary commented nonchalantly, letting a few of his own pokemon out. Misty paused to think about how to answer.

"Well, things have been pretty rough lately," she said. "But it's nothing that can't be repaired with a little work!" She tapped the pokeball she was holding against her lip, and then noticed which one it was. "Oh, Gabby! You HAVE to come out!!!"

"Gabby?" asked Gary, letting his Dewgong out.

"My Gyrados," said Misty. "He's a real sweetheart."

"Really?" asked Gary. "I have a Gyrados too! They're quite tough customers I tend to find. Why, when Magicarp evolved, it was quite a shock. I'd almost given up on it, it had taken so long to evolve. Did you find that too?"

"Oh, I didn't get mine to evolve, so I don't know." said Misty innocently. "How long did it take?"

Gary was staring at her. "You didn't get Magicarp to evolve? You mean you captured a Gyrados???!!! By yourself??!! That's incredible! I can see the reputation of the Cerulean Gym has been much maligned if that's the case!"

Misty blushed. "No, I'm afraid Gabby was a gift - Ash caught him for me."

Gary collapsed to the ground. "Ash... caught a Gyrados??? For you???"

Misty felt faintly insulted. "Well, he knew I really wanted one so..."

Gary was still in shock. "Ash Ketchum, the loser? The shrimp? Little Ash? Caught a GYRADOS by HIMSELF???!!!"

Misty giggled. "You seem surprised."

Gary tried to recover. "Hmph, he must have been very lucky and caught a young one." he said, smoothing his hair back. "Or a weak one."

"Gabby isn't weak!" said Misty furiously.

"Why don't we compare him to mine then," asked Gary, pulling out a pokeball. "Ready?"

"Ready!"

"Pokeball... GO!" they both shouted.

Both pokeballs opened and beams of red light shot out, forming themselves into two gyrados'. Gary's jaw dropped open. Misty's Gabby towered above his own gyrados.

"Ash captured THAT thing??!!!" he gibbered.

Gabby swiveled at the sound of his voice. Spotting Gary, it let out a huge roar and lunged for him.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" Gary shrieked as he sprinted back the way he'd come.

"Oh no! Gabby! Stop it! Stop it I said! Heel! SIT!" Misty yelled desperately.

***

Ash sprinted down the road. *What the hell was Gary up to?* He thought furiously. *Then again, who cares! Just find him and kill him!*

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!"

*What the heck???*

Gary ran down the path and slammed into Ash, who staggered and caught him.

"What is it?" Ash demanded in panic. "Where's Misty?"

"Pikachu!" added Pikachu who was behind Ash.

"G-g-g-..." Gary stuttered.

"What?"

"G-G-..."

Ash heard a roar and looked up. "GYRADOS!!!!" he screamed. "RUN FOR IT!!!!"

"Pika PI!!!"

He, Pikachu and Gary took off again. Gyrados in hot pursuit.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!" they screamed.

Screamed so loudly, in fact, that they didn't hear Misty's cry of "Gabby - RETURN!!!"

Dust obscured all vision as the two men fled for the relative safety of home.

Misty stared into the dust cloud. "Gary?" she called. "I'm sorry! He's back in his ball, it's safe now! Gary? You left your pokemon! Gary??!!" *Aw nuts.*

***

"AAAAAAAHHHH!!!!" *Burst* *SLAM!!!!*

Gary and Ash leant against the front door, panting.

"I think we're safe now," said Ash, checking out the front window.

"Chuuuu..."

"What's going on?" asked Richie, sitting up from his slouched position on the sofa.

"What the hell happened to you two?" demanded Brock, running in from the kitchen.

"Gyrados!" answered Ash grimly.

"Where?" demanded Richie, "I'll capture it!"

"Nononono... you don't want this one. Trust me." said Ash. "It's Misty's anyway."

"Oh, the one you caught for her?" asked Richie. "She told me about that."

Ash was about to answer when his collar was seized by Gary. "How the flaming **** did you capture that monster?" he demanded.

"GARY!!!" Sasha shouted, entering the room. "You do NOT use language like that in this house? Now what is going on?"

"Uhmm...." said Gary. "Sorry, private argument, got out of hand. We'll settle it in private." He dragged Ash away from the door and up the stairs. Brock and Richie followed.

Sasha sighed. "Boys."

Jesse and James popped their heads around the kitchen door.

"Just _what_ was all that about?" Jesse asked irritably. "I've got a headache you know!"

Misty ran in carrying Gary's pokeballs and her own. "Did you guys see Gary?" she asked.

"He went upstairs." said Sasha pointing.

"What happened?" asked James.

Misty looked exasperated. "I don't get it!" she said. "Gary went all to pieces when he saw Gabby! What's the problem with my sweet little Gyrados?"

"Sweet?" Sasha echoed.

"Little?" Jesse frowned.

"G-g-gyrados??!!!" shrieked James and promptly he dived under the coffee table.

Misty stared at him. "What the...?"

Jesse sighed. "James, for God's sake! Get out!" she ordered. "He's been like this about Gyrados ever since that incident eight years ago after the St Anne sank." she explained to Misty and Sasha as she tugged on James' legs.

"Ahh..." Misty couldn't think of anything to say so she sidled past them and up the stairs.

As she went up she heard Jesse trying to coax James out in the gentlest way possible.

"James, GET YOUR BEHIND OUT RIGHT NOW YOU BIG WIMP!!!!"

***

Once in Ash's room, Gary released his grip. "Okay twerp, how on earth did you manage to capture that thing? It's HUGE!!!"

"Really?" asked Richie. "Misty said it was cute."

"Misty would," said Ash and Gary grimly.

"Pikapika!" agreed Pikachu.

"Capturing a Gyrados isn't easy," said Brock. "I'd be interested in hearing how you did it too Ash."

"Me too," said Richie. "Then I can get one of my own."

"Me three," said Gary.

"NO!" said Ash. He blushed as they all stared at him, then sighed.

"Look, it was a REALLY tough mission, okay?" he said. "I don't advise you to even try. I planned and planned and planned, and then I got lucky, and then I got even MORE lucky, and that's how it happened. So please, don't try to catch one. It was a really dumb idea of mine. Please?"

Richie and Gary simply looked at each other and grinned.

"Heh," said Gary. "Anything you can do, I can do too!" he smirked.

"Argh!" said Ash. "Okay, I wasn't going to tell any of you this, and you HAVE to promise me you won't tell Mom or Misty!"

The other men looked at each other and shrugged. "Okay, tell us what?" Brock asked.

Ash shucked off his jacket and took off his t-shirt, then turned around.

"Oh my GOD!!!!" said Brock.

There was a large jagged scar going all the way down his back and over his shoulder. Ash looked over the scarred shoulder. "_That's_ what happened - and this was AFTER I'd
weakened him. I'm just lucky that none of my pokemon got too badly hurt, but I REALLY don't suggest that you..."

The door opened.

"Ash, have you seen Gary?" Misty walked in, holding some pokeballs and followed by Psyduck and Togepei. "He left his... Oh my GOD!!!! What happened to your BACK????"

"Where's Gyrados?" Gary demanded, bravely hiding behind Richie.

"In the pokeb... Did he do that?" Misty whispered.

Ash blushed. "Er... it's not as bad as it looks..."

"Nice try," said Richie.

Misty advanced on Ash, her eyes fixated on the scar. "Ash... oh, Ash..."

Ash fidgeted. "Misty, please don't cry, it's not a big deal, really."

Misty ducked her head, hiding her face behind her long hair. "Cry?" she said softly. "_Cry_?!"

Ash gulped as Misty looked back up at him. Her blue green eyes were blazing with fury.

"ASH KETCHUM YOU BIG IDIOT!!!!!!" she yelled at the top of her voice.

"Uh?" Ash, Brock, Gary and Richie stared, this was NOT how they'd expected Misty to react!

"But Misty..." Ash began.

"DON'T YOU 'BUT MISTY' ME!!! WHY THE **** DID YOU GO AFTER A GYRADOS IF IT WAS SO ******* DANGEROUS???!!!"

Richie paled. "I didn't know Misty knew that type of language." he muttered to Brock.

"Shush! She might hear you!" Brock whispered. He and Gary were pinned against the wall hardly daring to move in case Misty's wrath turned on them.

Misty reached out and shook Ash by the shoulders. "You stupid man! I would've NEVER asked you to get it if you were going to get in such a MESS!"

"HEY!" Ash's own temper flared. "I caught it fine, there were only a few minor mishaps!" he knocked her hands off his shoulders and glared at her.

Misty stared at him. "MINOR?" she pointed at the scar. "I just CAN'T believe that you didn't TELL ME that you were HURT!!!" she yelled. "All that LYING about the capture, making it seem so EASY! How COULD YOU?!"

"BECAUSE I KNEW YOU'D OVERREACT!!" Ash snarled. "YOU ALWAYS DO!!!"

Brock, Richie and Gary winced. "Oh no... _bad_ move." said Gary, he sidled towards the door. "I think it's time to go."

Brock and Richie followed this most prudent course, leaving the two combatants to it.

Neither Misty nor Ash noticed the departure of the three men. Lightening flashed between their locked gaze. Pikachu, Psyduck and Togepei looked up at them with deep concern. Pikachu was wondering if a thunderbolt would make things better or worse when Misty made an odd sound in the back of her throat and...

*WHAM!!*

Ash rocked back on his heels with the force of her slap. He put his hand to his throbbing cheek and stared at her.

Misty's eyes were filled with angry tears. "Ash Ketchum... you... fool!" she choked. "Why can't you see?"

Ash scowled. "See what?" he asked her angrily. "That everything I do is _wrong_? You've always been fond of telling me how wrong I am, why should that change?!" he went to the door and opened it. "Could you leave now?" he asked in a cold hard tone. "I'd like to be alone."

Misty stared at him, eyes wide and mouth open for several minutes, then her chin went up. "Fine. I'm going." she said, biting the words off like bullets. With that she stalked out, Togepei and Psyduck behind her.
 
Ash collapsed on his bed and covered his face with his arms. Pikachu jumped up beside him.

"Pikapi?" it nudged him. "Pika pikachu!"

Ash lifted one hand and patted Pikachu's head. "Who needs her, huh? Self-righteous and bad-tempered! Skinny as a bean pole, stuck-up..." he sighed. "...gorgeous, sweet when she wants to be, one of my best friends who'll now hate me because of what I said!" he rubbed his face. "Pikachu, I AM an idiot, she was only yelling because she got a fright. I should've told her!"

Pikachu patted Ash's arm with it's paw. "Pikapika pikachu! Chu." (She'll forgive you! Eventually.)

Ash smiled grimly. "Yeah, sure." *What a mess!*

***

*ring ring*

"Coming!" Officer Jenny run out to the front desk of her small station. She smiled brightly at the three pretty young women who were ringing the bell. "Can I help you?" she asked.

"Like, I hope so!" snapped the eldest, a statuesque blonde with a red flower in her hair. "We are so totally lost!"

Jenny raised an eyebrow. How could anyone get lost in a small town like Pallet? Unless they were totally stupid that is. Jenny bit down on the thought and presented her best 'charm the public' face. "Well, you've come to the right place, ladies. Where are you trying to go?"

"Uh..." one of the other girls, a redhead, cleared her throat. "We're actually looking for someone... our sister."

"Is this a missing person report then?" Jenny asked her hand reaching for some forms.

"No!" the blonde shook her head. "She's just run off! She's, like, sooooo selfish, you wouldn't believe it!"

"Daisy," protested the last girl. "That's not fair!"

"Shut up, Violet! You've been defending Misty all throughout this trip, it's totally making me mad!"

Violet glared at Daisy. "Maybe you're not so right, Daisy and I've just, like, seen how nasty you've been to Misty!"

"You have been rough on her." the redhead chimed in.

"You too, Lily? This is sooooo cruel. Misty's the one who's been sooooo jealous that she has to, like _interfere_ with my love!"

"Ladies, LADIES!" Jenny banged on the table to silence the bickering. "Now did you say your missing sister's name was Misty?"

Lily stared at her. "Like, yah. Have you seen her?"

Before Jenny could answer there was a roar of fury from the cell in the other room. "Hey, OFFICER! I told ya, I want MY LAWYER!!!!"

Daisy gasped. "I recognize that voice!" she squealed. "Fletcher, sugarpie, is that you?"

There was a stunned silence, from both Fletcher AND Jenny.

"Daisy?" Fletcher rasped from the other room. "Thank GOD! Ya have to get me out of here, pumpkin!"

Daisy rounded on Jenny. "How DARE you keep MY fiancé in jail?!" she shrieked.

Jenny blinked. "You're engaged to... *achem*" she pulled herself together. "He's been charged with Pokemon theft, Miss... er... Daisy, also trespassing and harassment."

Daisy looked shocked, Violet and Lily glanced at each other, also surprised. Lily leaned towards Violet. "Y'know, maybe he's not such a cool guy after all."

Violet bit her lip. "He's still, like, a hunk though." she muttered in an unsure voice.

"DAISY!!" Fletcher bellowed. "Bail me out, honey lips!"

Jenny looked faintly nauseous, *_honeylips_*????

Daisy leaned on the desk. "How much is this silly bail thingie?" she asked.

***

May Oak twirled around and giggled. "Why this is _such_ a pretty dress, Mrs Ketchum! How _sweet_ of you to make the bridesmaids dresses _so_ flattering!"

Sasha smiled at May. "Why thank you, May. I'm glad you approve."

May eyed the other occupant with a slight smirk. "And what do you think, Misty dear?"

Misty was staring out of the window, her head in her hands. She jumped slightly when May addressed her. "Huh? Oh, uh... it's very nice." she said lamely.

"And you're crumpling the dress!" cried May in tones of horror.

Misty gulped and stood up. "Sorry about that, Sasha." she apologized.

Sasha gave her an understanding look. "That's alright, Misty. I'm getting someone to iron the dresses before the ceremony anyway, so it's doesn't matter if they get a bit crumpled at this stage."

"I can't _believe_ it!" enthused May. "Only _two_ days until the wedding! How _exciting_!"

Sasha's eyes went a little blurry. "Yes, it's wonderful." she said with a soft smile. She blinked and focused again. "Now, I'm going to see how the boys are getting on with erecting the marquee, I'll see you two later."

Misty barely heard her leave. She was standing in front of the mirror, but she didn't see herself, only Ash telling her to leave him alone. Misty's fists clenched. *Jerk! Moron! Idiot...* her shoulders sagged, *Oh man, I DID overreact, bigtime!*

"Aren't you excited, Misty?" May asked. "About being a bridesmaid?" she sighed theatrically. "But I would much rather be the _bride_ marrying the man of my dreams... like Ash!" she licked her lips and glanced at Misty. "Despite the fact he's sooo rude, but he's very good-looking and that would be worth it!"

Misty frowned. "There's alot more to Ash than his looks!" she snapped. "I knew that when he was just a kid!"

"Oh that's riiiight!" drawled May. "You used to travel around with him, sleeping on the ground, getting lost and all dirty too! I bet you have a _wonderful_ friendship, he must regard you like a brother!"

"He does NOT! I mean, I'm a _girl_!" Misty cried.

May nodded. "Of course, I just meant, that girl's who rough it with the guys are usually treated as one - a guy I mean. And with _your_ figure, Misty dear, well... you are _athletic_, aren't you?" she giggled and slipped out of the door leaving Misty staring after her with an open mouth.

Misty swung around and looked at herself in the mirror. Okay, so she wasn't as well... _endowed_ as May, but still...

*knock knock*

"Uh... yes?"

"It's Richie, I brought you some tea."

Misty opened the door, Richie stood there with a tray and three cups of tea. He looked at her and the empty room.

"Have Mrs Ketchum and May left?" he asked.

Misty nodded and stood back to let him in. "Sasha went down to check on how Brock, Gary, James and... er... Ash were doing on the marquee. You must have just missed May." she sat down on the window seat.

Richie shrugged. "Oh well, can I join you in some tea?" he
asked sitting down beside her and handing her a cup. "Brock, Ash and Gary seem to have the marquee under control and I wouldn't want to get in the way!"

Misty sipped her tea. "Uh... where is James?"

Richie grinned. "Oh, he and Jesse went off somewhere, looking for something I think he said. But I'll bet they were just avoiding the work!"

Misty grinned. "Probably! They still don't like to work!"

Richie looked at his tea, his expression serious. "Uhm... Misty, I realise you may not want to hear this, but... Ash is kinda upset."

Misty took a deep breath. "Really?" she said in a neutral tone.

"Uhm... I know he's sorry about what he said, but... uh..." Richie wondered if he was courting his own death. "You were kinda, well, wrong to accuse him like that."

Misty was very quiet for a long period. Richie stole a look at her face. Her eyes were closed and she was biting her lower lip. Finally she opened her eyes and looked at Richie. "I know." she said softly. "But... but when I saw that scar something just _snapped_. What if it had been worse? I could've lost Ash forever! And then he didn't tell me! I wish... I just wish he wouldn't be so damned impulsive sometimes!" her hands trembled and she quickly put her tea down to avoid spilling it.

Richie put his own tea down and clasped her hands. "Hey, hey! Don't get so worked up!" he chided her. "It's just the way Ash is! If it makes you feel any better he didn't even tell _me_ about the wound, although he was telling me everything else, including..." Richie let out a long sigh. "I shouldn't tell you this but... in his letters to me, Ash mentioned _you_ alot and he really, really cares about you!"

Misty's eyes widened and she looked hopefully into Richie's face. "Is that why you thought we were engaged?"

Richie grinned. "Yeah, so..."

"Richie, are you in here?" Ash threw open the door and stood in the entrance, staring.

Misty and Richie jumped up. "Ash!" cried Misty with a smile on her face. "I want to tell you that I'm..."

"Excuse me for interrupting!" snapped Ash and he backed out, slamming the door behind him.

"...sorry." Misty blinked. "What was THAT about?"

Richie frowned. "Maybe he's still mad." he suggested.

Misty sighed. "What an idiot!" she growled. "Well, alright then! I'll let him stew for a while longer!"

Richie didn't look as if he thought this was a good idea, but Misty glared at him so fiercely that he refrained from opening his mouth.

***

In the hallway, Ash leaned against the wall, fighting the stabs of anger, jealousy and despair hitting him.

"They were holding _hands_!" he whispered. "What if she was going to say that she was _engaged_ to him?!"

He stumbled down the stairs and collapsed on the couch. Pikachu who'd come looking for him jumped onto his lap. Ash stared dully down at it. "What am I going to do, Pikachu?" he asked. "This is all my fault! I _drove_ her to him!"

Pikachu twitched an ear. "Pikachu!"

Ash blinked. "What do you mean I'm delusional?" he demanded. "I _saw_ them! They looked pretty friendly to _me_."

"Pikapi pika...chu!"

"I AM NOT paranoid!" yelled Ash indignantly.

"What are you yelling about?"

Ash looked up. "Oh, hi James. Where's Jesse?"

James flung himself into a chair and sighed. "Shopping." he said in a resigned voice. "She said she needed to find the perfect dress for the wedding." James' voice cracked with a sob. "I couldn't bear it any longer! I _had_ to sneak away!"

"I thought you liked girls clothes." said Ash drily.

James glared at him. "That was _not_ my fault!" he protested. "All that cross dressing was needed... for my job! Besides, Jesse always chose the costumes."

Ash raised an eyebrow. "And she usually wore the men's clothes, I guess we know who wears the pants in _your_ marriage - literally!"

James stood up in a huff. "If you're going to be insulting, I'm leaving!" he started for the door.

Ash realized that he didn't want him to leave. He needed to tell _someone_ about his problems, Gary would sneer, Brock would lecture and Richie was out of the question. Besides, James would probably be the most sympathetic listener, he'd always been a sentimental guy.

"James, wait. I'm sorry."

James turned and regarded him with wide eyes. "Did I just hear Ash the twerp apologize?" he murmured. "I must be dreaming!"

"Don't be like that!" Ash snapped in irritation. "Look, I know this bar in town, want to join me for an uninterrupted drink?"

"As long as you're buying." said James. "I'm broke, and I expect Jesse is maxing out my credit card as we speak."

"Yeah, yeah, I'm buying." Ash stood up. "Let's go. Come on Pikachu."

"Pika!"

***
To be continued

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