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.

***

Part 7: Battles

***

At Professor Oaks house/laboratory:

"Up a little. More on the right. Now on the left... Up on the right a little, bit more on the left..." Professor Oak directed.

Richie and Ash looked at each other and stuck the damn floral arrangement on the wall.

"Ummm... perfect," said Professor Oak. "Nice work boys." He rubbed his hands and looked around. "Right, I think that's everything."

"Oh thank goodness," Ash collapsed on a nearby chair. "I never thought weddings involved so much furniture moving!"

The three of them, well two of them with Professor Oak directing, had been setting out tables and putting up decorations for the wedding reception for the last two hours. Misty, Sasha and May had helped for a while and then run off for dress adjustments, but planned to be back to lay the tables later. Brock and Joy were giving Jesse a cooking lesson in the kitchen, with James a bemused (and, occasionally when something went wrong, amused) spectator. Gary had finished his assigned task twenty minutes ago and was visiting his pokemon out the back.

Richie grinned and wiped at the thin sheen of sweat on his forehead. "So," he said mischeviously, "Want to go get a beer?"

Ash winced. "Har har har," he said, throwing a cushion at Richie.

"Ash, while you're here, I need to talk to you," said Prof Oak.

Ash shrugged and he and Richie followed the Professor as he headed off into the laboratory area. "What's up Professor?" Ash asked.

"It's about your Hitmonchan," the Professor began.

"Oh." Ash's face emptied of emotion and all the joy drained out of the room. "What about it?"

"Whoa," said Richie. "Is it just me, or did the temperature just drop about eight degrees?"

"Well, since you forwarded it on from the Cerulean City Pokecentre, I've been examining it and, well... I think there's something wrong with it." Professor Oak selected a pokeball from the rack and held it out to Ash, who looked at it glumly.

Still holding it, the Professor carried on. "I've run all sorts of tests, consulted most of the other Professors in all the nearby areas, including Professor Ivy and your friend Brock at the Pokemon Tech. None of them can explain the strange behaviour exhibited by your Hitmonchan."

"Wonderful."

"It doesn't fit anything on record, and even your, er, little incident, isn't sufficient to explain it's behaviour. Ever since I got it it's been disruptive, violence, annoying..." the Professor trailed off. "Ash, I'm not holding this pokeball for my health you know."

Ash grimaced and accepted the pokeball. "What am I supposed to DO with it?" he demanded.

"Do?" the Professor raised an eyebrow. "Train it of course! You _are_ a pokemon master."

"I don't think I'm the right person to train this pokemon," Ash whispered.

"Nonsense!" Professor Oak shouted. "I've spoken to the Pokemon League and they feel that you are the ONLY person who can help that Hitmonchan get a better grasp of proper Pokemon behaviour."

"How can I train it when I can't trust myself around it?" Ash demanded furiously. "There must be another trainer it would be better off with. Hell, it would be better off in the wild than with me."

Professor Oak picked up a ruler and thwacked Ash over the head with it.

"Stop feeling sorry for yourself!" he ordered. "You knew this whole pokemon thing wouldn't be easy when you first set out on your journey. You've faced and overcome many other obstacles on the way, and have actually reached the point of being a reasonably-mature, partially-civilised young man. I refuse to let you quit now!"

Ash rubbed his head and sighed. "Okay okay... do you have ANY advice at all?"

Professor Oak's fierce gaze softened and he patted Ash's shoulder. "Sorry Ash, I'm afraid this time you're on your own. But I will say this - if anyone can do this, you can."

"Banzai!" yelled Richie helpfully.

Ash cracked a weak smile and regarded the pokeball. "Well, I guess I better get reacquainted." he said, hefting it.

"Er Ash!" interrupted the Professor. "Umm... outside please." His eyes slid across the room.

Ash and Richie's followed them and regarded a large heap of splintered wood where previously a bookshelf had been.

"Gotcha," said Ash. "You don't have to come Richie."

"Are you kidding? I wouldn't miss this for the world!"

Ash gritted his teeth. "You REALLY don't have to come Richie!"

"Just try and stop me!" Richie grinned at him.

*Oh how I'd love to... now now, just cos HE'S going out with the girl that you love is no reason to want to cause grievous bodily harm... what am I saying? Yes it is!* "Okay, you can come then," Ash smiled evilly. *Of course, I would never do anything to hurt Richie.

Not on purpose anyway. Heh heh heh...*

Ash trekked outside and headed to an empty area of the yard. Richie followed him and set up behind him. While they were clearing more space, Gary wandered up. He glanced at Ash's pokeball.

"What's that?" he demanded.

"Stick around and see," Ash invited cheerfully. *What am I saying? Still, it would be funny... Noooo! Don't do it Ash! Don't give in to the dark side! Stay good Ash, stay good!* "Er, then again, you might not want to."

"It's not another gyrados is it?" asked Gary, eyeing the pokeball warily.

"Nope, a Hitmonchan," said Richie.

"Oh!" said Gary in enlightenment. "The famous masochistic pokemon!"

"IT'S NOT MASOCHISTIC!!!!" Ash shouted. "IT'S JUST CONFUSED!"

"Uh huh," Gary smirked at his rival and leaned against the fence. "Well, what are you waiting for Ketchum? An engraved invitation?"

"Grrrr... Hitmonchan, I choose you!" Ash shouted, hurling the pokeball to the ground.

Red light emitted from it. Gary and Richie each took a step backward.

"Hitmonchan!" yelled Hitmonchan. It looked around and then spotted Ash. "Chan!!!!" It ran towards him, Gary and Richie both gasped in terror, and then sweatdropped as it launched at Ash - and hugged his knee.

"That's it?" Richie demanded. "That's the dangerous pokemon?"

"THIS is what everyone's been worried about?" Gary sneered. They both peered at it. It looked up at them.

"HIT! MON! CHAN!!!!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!"

Ash flung himself on Hitmonchan and held on as it tried to murder Richie and Gary.

"I WARNED you," he said, with a small, really very tiny, but very vicious grin.

"What the frag?" demanded Richie. "Why is it so aggressive?"

Ash hauled Hitmonchan into a headlock and panted. "I have absolutely no idea." he confessed. "I caught it in the forests near Mount Moon. It was a Hitmonlee back then. It was just running around like crazy screaming all the time. I caught it thinking I could take it to a Pokecentre and get it cured or something."

"What happened?" Gary asked, shielding himself with Richie.

"It attacked Nurse Joy," Ash's mouth turned down.

"What?" gasped Gary. "I've NEVER seen a pokemon attack a Nurse - EVER! I've never even HEARD of such a thing!"

Ash grunted. "Yeah, and basically it's just been totally unmanageable ever since."

"It seems to like YOU well enough," said Richie.

"Mmmmm," Ash's mood dropped even further. "It attacked Pikachu, so I hit it to save him. Now it respects me."

"WHAAAAAAAAAATTT?????!!!!!!!!!" Gary and Richie shrieked, assuming frozen poses.

"That's the most insane thing I've ever heard!" Richie exclaimed.

"Tell me about it," said Ash. "Argh... Whoa!" Hitmonchan hooked a foot around Ash's leg and pulled. Ash lost his grip and tumbled to the ground and Hitmonchan sprung free.

"Eep!" said Gary, diving behind a fence.

"Yipes!" Richie wasn't quite so fast, and Hitmonchan caught him a glancing blow in the stomach. Even so, it knocked all of the air out of him and he went down.

***

Misty walked out the back door, Pikachu cuddled in her arms. Where the heck were the boys? Tables needed to be laid! And the seating was COMPLETELY wrong. "Ash! Richie! Gary!" she called.

***

Richie rolled to avoid another blow and scrambled to his feet. Ash had banged his head on a fencepole on the way down and was still struggling to get up.

"HITMONCHAN!!!" Hitmonchan screamed, and threw a dozen swift punches at Richie, who managed to avoid all but the last one.

*CRACK!* Richie's head snapped around as the punch landed full in the face.

***

Misty turned a corner. THERE they were.

*CRACK!*

"Oh no! RICHIE!!!"

"Pika? PIKAPI!!!"

***

"Hit??" Hitmonchan paused, fist upraised, and turned.

Misty and Pikachu stared at it. Then...

"HITMONCHAN!!!" It launched itself at her. Misty threw up her arms and screamed.

"PI-KA-CHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!"

Lightning crashed.

"Hiiiiiiittt..." Hitmonchan stuttered and swayed on its feet. But fire still burned in its eyes and it turned to Misty and Pikachu. "Chan!"

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

Ash knocked it off its feet as it prepared to charge, rolled and stood up in front of Misty and Pikachu, shielding them with his body. He held up its pokeball. Blood trickled down the back of his neck. "Hitmonchan! Ret..."

"THERE YOU ARE!!!"

Fletcher strode into the backyard, Daisy and her sisters behind him.

"Misty! There's no escaping this time! You have some reckoning to do... What in the world??!!"

There was a long pause.

***

Hitmonchan stood up and gazed at its master. He knew Ash was his master, even though he was a strange master who insisted that they be 'friends', and wouldn't beat up the weak. He kind of respected that, even though it was all wrong, pokemon were slaves, the strong ones flourished - or they were beaten, he'd learnt THAT lesson well enough. But why had Ash-master been so angry? He'd only been going to beat the weak, that was right. Wasn't it?

Hitmonchan shook his head. It was all so confusing. And that thundershock wasn't helping the old thought processes any either. He gazed at Ash-master and suddenly a lightning bolt struck. Figuratively.

Of course! Ash-master and the female person were mates! Therefore the female-person was his female-master! How could he have been so stupid? It was so OBVIOUS! Hitmonchan prepared to add the female-master to his list of humans not to attack. She would be number two.

Then a strange noise attracted his attention.

***

Fletcher gaped at the strange scenario. The mime, what was his name, Rocky? Something like that, was crumpled on the ground, nursing his cheek. Another boy was standing behind a fence, and Ash and Misty were staring at him. So was a pokemon, but he ignored it as being beneath him.

He cleared his throat and began again. "Now Misty, it's time we settled things. Your sisters and I are prepared to forgive you for ALL the past problems. All we ask is that you return what REALLY belongs to me... I mean the Cerulean City Gym. They may TECHNICALLY belong to you, but you would never have been able to collect them if you hadn't been affiliated to the glory of me... the Cerulean City Gym."

Violet and Lily looked at each other. *Waaaaiit a second...*

Misty bristled. "I captured ALL of my pokemon on my OWN!" she shouted at him. Something seemed to have snapped inside her, and damn it felt good! "Except for Gabby, who was a gift!" she amended.

Ash winced.

Gary stood up and laughed. "Yeah right, like being a member of the Cerulean LOSER Gym would have helped her capture Pokemon?"

"WHAT DID YOU CALL US???" shrieked Daisy, Lily and Violet.

"You heard me," Gary sneered. "Everyone knows the rep of the Cerulean City Gym. They've gone from bad times to worse, I even heard that the Pokemon League is thinking of revoking your licence."

"Whaaaaaat???" gasped the sisters.

"That can't be!" said Lily. "We'd have been informed, we'd have received an official letter!"

Fletcher sweatdropped. "Ummm..."

Three pairs of eyes locked on him. "Fletcher-sweetums," Daisy began. A hint of doubt entered her voice. "Fletcher?"

Fletcher began to sweat. "Ummm..."

"Hit?"

Everyone stopped and turned. Hitmonchan was staring at Fletcher. "Hitmonchan?"

"D'oh!" said Ash. "I forgot. Hitmonchan - RETURN!"

Red light engulfed the Pokemon, and he vanished inside the pokeball.

Which immediately began rocking violently, and then split open again.

Hitmonchan rematerialised close to Fletcher and moved towards him. "Hit?" it asked.

"What's it saying?" asked Misty. Ash shrugged.

"Pikapi!" said Pikachu.

"Master??!!!"

Fletcher looked at the Hitmonchan. "What the heck is wrong with you, are you defective or something? Get away from me!" he kicked out and struck Hitmonchan in the chest.

"HEY!" Ash started forward. "You leave my pokemon alone you miserable son of a..."

"ASH!"

Ash turned the last word of his sentence into a cough and stepped behind Hitmonchan. "Did he hurt you Hitmonchan? Don't worry, I won't let him do it again."

"Hiiit?"

Ash stood in front of his pokemon, facing Fletcher, anger rolling off him in waves.

"Don't... touch... my... pokemon!" he said, punctuating each word with a jab of his finger into Fletcher's chest.

Fletcher sneered at him.

"Hitmonchan!"

Hitmonchan ran around Ash and ran up to Fletcher. "Hitmonchan! Hitmonchan!" it said.

"Pikapika! Pikachu!"

"What?" Ash turned pale. He glanced at the Hitmonchan and then looked at Fletcher. "He asked you if you recognised him?" he gritted. "He said he looked for you for ages," Ash hissed the last word out. "Master."

Fletcher's face was a study of surprise. "That's ridiculous - I've never had a Hitmonchan!"

Hitmonchan did some more talking. Pikachu did some more translating.

Ash took a deep breath. "It says it's YOUR pokemon!" His eyes narrowed. "I found it in the forests near Mount Moon. Does any of this ring a bell?"

Fletcher stared at the Hitmonchan, then gulped and turned pale. "Of... of course! It's my Hitmonlee! One of my pokemon that was stolen!"

"Hitmonchan!"

"That's not what it says," said Ash. "It... sorry, he, says that you left him in the forest while you went to get supplies."

Fletcher sweatdropped.

The Cerulean Sisters exchanged looks again. *Does... not... compute...*

"Ummm... well, maybe I lost it then," Fletcher said desperately.

"You don't seem very sure of yourself there Fletcher," said Misty. "Are you _certain_ that's what happened? Perhaps you'd like to take another try at it?"

"Er, well I... I meant to go back for it but..."

Hitmonchan stared at him. "Hitmonchan! Chan! CHAN!!!" Shock pulsed through its body. How could this be, hadn't he tried to fulfil his masters every wish? Learned every lesson? Only the strong were to be respected! Obey or be punished! He'd learned these lessons well! So well!

"HitmonCHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNN!!" he shouted, trying to get all of this across.

"Ah! Stay away from me!" Fletcher stepped back, fear evident on his face.

"You BEAT YOUR POKEMON???!!!" Ash screamed, hitting notes he hadn't struck since he was 14. "He trusted you! He believed you! Goddamn your ****ing soul, he LOVED YOU!!!"

"HITMONCHAAAAN!!!" Hitmonchan screamed, lunged forward, and swung at Fletcher with all his strength.

*No mercy for the weak!*

*CRUNCH!!!!*

Fletcher flew into the sky. Ash and the others watched him go. Hitmonchan's shoulders slumped. Betrayed! How could his master lie to him???

A drop of warm water landed on him. Then another. He looked up.

Ash-master was crying. Ash-master was holding out his arms, saying something about sorry, please forgive...

Tears formed in Hitmonchan's eyes. "Hitmonchan!" he sobbed, throwing himself into Ash's arms.

"I promise I'll take care of you properly," Ash said, stroking its head. "And if you don't want to be with me, I'll take you wherever you want."

"Chan..." Hitmonchan muttered.

*Ash-master*.

Ash smiled. For the first time he could understand Hitmonchan perfectly. "Friend," he said. "Ash-friend." He pointed. "Pikachu-friend, Misty-friend, Gary... friend, Richi..."

"Oh no! Richie, you're hurt!" Misty ran to him and knelt at his side.

Ash paused. "Richie-friend," he said in a very careful voice.

*AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGHHH!!!!*

***

Lily looked at Violet, they both looked at Daisy. Her head was bowed, her blond hair obscuring her face.

"Um... Daisy?" Lily moved towards her.

Daisy's shoulders shook. Lily drew back and exchanged another worried look with Violet. "Y'think she needs to be alone?"

"Like, maybe." said Violet doubtfully.

"That..." Daisy gasped. "That..."

Violet put her hand on her sisters arm. "How about we..."

"THAT @%$#%@)*!!!!" screamed Daisy throwing her head back revealling features contorted with fury. "How COULD he??! I thought I LOVED that $#*)&*$@!!!"

Big grins spread over Lily and Violet's faces. "I think she's gonna be, like, okay!" Lily said.

"I am SO through with love! It, like, totally SUCKS!!! I..."

"Do you ladies need an escort home?"

They all turned. Gary Oak smiled at them.

"Oooh..."

***

Later:

"And then Gary walked off with Misty's sisters!" said Richie to Joy and James. "You'd think they'd have learnt by now!"

"Learnt what?" asked James blankly. He had come to join Richie and Joy in the main hall while Jesse was concentrating on her cooking.

Richie rolled his eyes. "Never mind."

Joy frowned slightly. "I think it's a bit unfair to put Gary in the same league as Fletcher, Richie, he's not that bad."

"No, just arrogant." agreed Richie.

"Where did Ash go?" James asked.

Joy laughed. "When Sasha and I turned up she asked him if he'd finished his best mans speech, he _immediately_ took off to start it!"

Richie chuckled, then he sobered. "Y'know, Ash was acting really odd after that whole Hitmonchan incident, I know he was mad about what happened, but I think it's something more."

"OH MY GOD!!!!!"

The three jumped at the shout which echoed from the kitchen.

"Has Jesse blown something up?" James wondered.

The door slammed open and Jesse rushed out giggling. She spotted the trio and came over.

"Oh that was funny!" she laughed. "I've never seen anyone go so red!"

"What did you do to my Brock?" Joy demanded.

"I just showed him... this!" Jesse produced The Photo.

Richie grabbed it and stared. "Whoa! Liplock!"

"Oh my!" Joy blushed.

James frowned. "When did _this_ happen?"

"Last night," explained Jesse. "Ash was completely pissed out of his mind and he just kissed Misty, for _ages_!"

"So _that's_ what you were going on about this morning!" said James as the light finally dawned.

"Yeah, but he can't remember it."

Richie whistled. "He's gonna regret not remembering!"

Brock came out, he looked a bit flustered. "I take it that she's shown it to you guys?" he asked.

"Mmmm..." Joy nodded and gave him a speculative look. "What are you like drunk, honey?"

Brock cleared his throat and turned to Jesse. "Are you going to show Ash?"

"NO!!!!" Misty yelled from behind them. "Jesse! How could you! Give me that!" her face was red with embarassement.

"And if I don't?" Jesse waved the photo teasingly.

"I'll set Gabby on you!"

"Give her the photo, Jesse!" said Richie and Joy at once.

Jesse sighed. "Sometimes being a goody-good is no fun!" she said as she gave the photo to Misty. "What are you going to do with it?" she asked archly.

Misty glanced at the photo and went even redder. "None of your concern!" she yelled. "Now, if you guys have nothing to do except interfere in other peoples business, you can HELP! The wedding _is_ tomorrow!"

"Perhaps we'll be attending another wedding soon." Richie said slyly.

"You might be right," said Brock. "But make sure you watn me in time Misty, I'd like to give a best mans speech that everyone remembers!"

"Who says that you're going to be giving that speech?" Richie asked. "_I'm_ going to be the best man!"

"I will!"

"Shut UP!!!" shrieked Misty. "Now will you all get to work?! Jesse... hey, where are Jesse and James?"

***

"Are you sure we should just run out like this?" James asked Jesse as they slipped put the door and into Professor Oak's extensive grounds.

"_I_ have been hard at work all day!" objected Jesse. "This cooking stuff isn't easy!"

"Not on my stomach anyway." said James recalling the different 'experiments' Jesse had shoved in his mouth during the day.

*WHAM!!!* "Hey! I am doing this to provide us with a _future_!" growled Jesse. "You should be grateful!"

"I am, I am!" James tried to placate her. "It's just that... well, you've always been better at selling Jesse, maybe I should be the cook."

"Oh, don't worry, you'll be getting lessons too," said Jesse. "I'll be the back-up."

"Ah..." said James. "In case I get sick?"

"Well..."

A loud, despairing sigh from behind the grove of trees beside them interrupted Jesse. Curious, Jesse and James sneaked up and looked around one of the trees.

Ash was sitting by a small pond with Pikachu, his shoulders drooping, a look of despair on his face.

"Well, that's that, buddy," he said softly. "Misty is in love with Richie."

"Pika? Pikapi!" (Are you sure? I think she likes you!)

"But she's been so cold to me today and what about yesterday? They were very friendly when I walked in on them!" Ash swallowed against the lump in his throat. "It's funny Pikachu, but I never realised how much Misty meant to me until she fell in love with someone else!"

"Pika..." Pikachu put a paw on Ash's knee. Ash rubbed his friend's head, but then his fist clenched. "It's not fair!" he hissed. "Misty belongs with me! I..." he bit his lip. "No, I'm not going to act like she's my personal property, that's more Pond Scum's department. Besides, Richie's one of my best _friends_!" he looked down at Pikachu with haunted eyes. "There's only one thing I can do."

"Pikachu?"

"I'm gonna be happy for them and support them, yeah, I'll..."

*WHAM!!!*

"Yeow!" Ash leapt to his feet, rubbing the back of his head. "Who the... Jesse?"

Jesse stood behind him, her fan upraised, her cheeks flushed and eyes angry. Beside her stood a shocked James.

"Get over yourself, Ketchum!!!" Jesse yelled. "Stop trying to be so damned noble! You MORON!!! You TWERP!!!!"

Ash blinked. "Did I miss something here? Why are you hitting me and calling me names all of a sudden?"

"Because you're sitting here feeling all sorry for yourself for NO REASON!!!" Jesse shrieked."Misty is in love with YOU!! NOT RICHIE!!" she whacked Ash on the shoulder. "For some odd reason she's been in love with you for YEARS!!! Now go and tell her how YOU feel!!!"

Ears ringing from Jesse screaming into his ear, Ash made a half-hearted protest. "But what if she rejects..."

"GO NOW OR I'LL... I'll... I'll..." Jesse paused, 'I'll beat you up' was not going to work on _this_ Ash Ketchum! "I'll... set MY POKEMON ON YOU!!!"

Ash snickered slightly. "Oh no." he said in a deadpan voice. "Lickitung and Arbok, help, help."

"Why YOU..." Jesse spluttered and lunged for Ash, but James managed to grab her. Holding Jesse back he nodded to Ash. "Just go, Jesse's right about this!"

Ash didn't hesitate a moment longer. "Thanks!" he called and ran off.

"Pikachu!" said Pikachu also thanking them before it ran after Ash.

James let Jesse go and she stumbled forward. Righting herself she glared at James. "It would've served him right if I'd pummelled him." she said.

James shrugged. "But he wouldn't have been able to say anything to Misty if you rendered him unconscious."

"Hmm... I guess you have a point." agreed Jesse.

"Why were you so insistant about inteferring anyway?" James asked her. "You never used to care about anyone else's love life."

Jesse sniffed. "People change James, you know that! Besides, I owe Misty big time and so do you, this was my chance to repay her."

James looked confused. "I owe Misty? For what?"

*WHACK!!*

"For us getting married you moron!!"

"Oh... yeah." James grinned and took Jesse's hands. "I could I forget such a great event as that?"

"I worry about you." muttered Jesse, but she allowed him to draw her close.

"Hahahahahahaha!!! How CUTE!"

Jesse and James looked around wildly.

"Who's there?" Jesse demanded. "I'll teach you to laugh at ME!"

There was more laughter, then two familiar voices began a familiar speech.

"Prepare for trouble and make it double!"

"Oh, noooo..." groaned Jesse. "Don't tell me..."

"To infect the world with devestation..."

"To blight all peoples in every nation..."

"Alright," said James. "I won't tell you."

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our wrath to the stars above!"

"Cassidy!" a pretty blond woman dressed in black with a red 'R' on her chest jumped down in front of Jesse and Jaems.

"Butch!" a handsome green-haired man also dressed in black and sporting an 'R' on his chest jumped down beside her.

"We're Team Rocket circling earth all day and night!" said Cassidy.

"Surrender to us now or you will surely lose the fight!" Butch smirked.

"That's right!"

"Raticate!" a large Raticate dropped down in front of Butch and Cassidy.

"Wonderful." said Jesse. "It's the two losers and their stupid Raticate! What are you two doing here?"

"Why Jesse! That's not very friendly," said Cassidy in a hurt tone. "Acting like this after Butch and I came all this way to see you!"

"You two are nothing but trouble!" said James trying to keep calm.

"And you're not?" said Butch with an ugly laugh. "How's it going James? Still enjoying being Jesse's dog?"

James' eyes narrowed. "I don't have to take that from you!" he growled moving forward with his fists clenched.

"Stop!" ordered Cassidy. "We didn't come here to engage in schoolboy fights, Butch!" she admonished her partner.

Butch sneered, but backed down. Jesse pulled James back.

"Idiot!" she hissed into his ear. "You _know_ you can't fight for toffee!"

"But I couldn't just stand there and let him insult me!" wailed James.

"Don't worry, James." said Cassidy. "We're just here to let you know that Giovanni isn't very happy with the two of you."

Jesse shrugged. "So what, we aren't part of Team Rocket anymore, we don't have to do what that mobster says!"

"You think it's that easy to get away?" Butch cried. "Forget it! Once you're part of Team Rocket, you _stay_!"

James looked terrified. "B-b-but we don't wanna!!!" he bleated. "We're going to run a restaurant!"

Butch and Cassidy looked at each other and burst into laughter.

"A restaurant?" crowed Cassidy. "You two? It'll never work!"

"I've had enough!" cried Jesse. "Let's settle this once and for all Cassidy, with a Pokemon battle!"

Cassidy narrowed her eyes. "Oh? And what are the stakes?"

"If you lose you leave me and James alone, and you tell Giovanni that you couldn't find us."

"And if we win?"

Jesse took a deep breath. "James and I will return with you to Team Rocket."

Cassidy smiled. She looked over at Butch. "What do you think?"

Butch nodded. "Sounds okay to me." he cracked his knuckles. "Let's do it!"

James stared at Jesse aghast. "What are you doing?" he whispered. "We've _never_ won an important battle!"

Jesse squeezed his hand. "Don't worry, remember we have an ace up our sleeves."

James nodded, but didn't look too reassured.

Jesse stepped forward. "Best of three?" she asked.

"Alright." agreed Cassidy, she moved towards Jesse and drew out two pokeballs. "My first choice is... Raticate!"

"Arbok!" Jesse ordered.

It was a short fight. At first Arbok appeared to be winning, but was defeated by a agonising bite on the tail from the Raticate which then knocked Arbok out with a tackle attack. James groaned, Butch sneered, Jesse bit her lip and Cassidy looked triumphant.

Jesse brought in Weezing next, and it managed to gas Raticate in time, making Jesse the winner of the second round. James cheered, Butch scowled, Jesse crowed with delight and Cassidy was peeved. However, soon her confident smile was back on her face.

Cassidy brought out her next Pokemon. "Go... Scyther!"

"Scy!" the large green pokemon with it's sharp blades materialized.

Jesse frowned. "Weezing, return!" she ordered.

Butch chuckled. "What are you gonna choose now, Jesse? Your Lickitung? Or James' Victreebell? Better make sure it doesn't eat poor dumbo before it battles!"

Jesse trod on the fuming James' foot and smiled sweetly at Butch. "I have another Pokemon, Butch." she said. "A new addition to our family."

"Just hurry it up, Jess!" said Cassidy inpatiently.

James couldn't watch, he turned away and waited to be blasted into the sky - the usual outcome of his and Jesse's battles. He heard Jesse order her Pokemon out. There was a scuffle and then a blast knocked him off his feet.

"Looks like Team Rocket's blasting off aggggaaaiiiinnnn!!"

"I knew it!" moaned James. "We never... huh? That wasn't us yelling!" he turned around in time to see Butch and Cassidy hurtling over the trees. "Oooo... that's going to _hurt_!" he looked over at Jesse and smiled. "Good going Jesse."

"It wasn't me!" Jesse hugged her winning Pokemon. "That was just wonderful!" she cried. "You're the best... Raichu!"

"Rai!"

***

To be continued...


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