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: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Part 6: Confiding
Jesse let out a gasp of relief as she reached the front door of the Ketchum house. Her ten shopping bags were feeling like lead weights and she was furious. With a grunt she opened the door and flung herself inside.
"I am going to _kill_ James!" she muttered dragging herself into the living room and dumping the bags on the couch. "What's the big idea, abandoning me in my time of need?" she walked into the kitchen. "Mrs Ketchum? Hmm... looks like no one's here."
There was a note on the refrigerator, actually several notes. Jesse read the first one aloud.
"'Gone to Professor Oak's to continue preparations, back late - Sasha'." She looked at the second and third. "And Richie's out training his pokemon while Brock and Joy are having dinner with Officer Jenny, and Ash and James have gone to a... WHAT????!!!!"
Jesse ripped Ash's note off the fridge. "A BAR???!!! Ash has taken James to a BAR??!!!"
"Jesse? I thought it was you, what's wrong?" Misty wandered into the kitchen carrying Togepei.
"Your twerp boyfriend has taken James out drinking!" Jesse snapped.
"He's not a... I mean he's not my... he's done WHAT???" Misty's shriek of surprise was almost as shrill as Jesse's.
Jesse groaned and sank onto one of the kitchen chairs. "James drunk, oh God..." she buried her head in her hands.
Misty looked worried. "Surely Ash won't let it go that far," she protested. "He's not really the type to drink heavily."
Jesse perked up a bit. "Yes, Ash does have more restraint that James I guess." Her eyes narrowed. "I'll just scold James when he gets home."
Misty sat down opposite her, setting Togepei down to wander around. "I wonder why Ash decided to go out to a bar," she mused. "It's not like him, but then, he has been acting really weird lately."
"Oh?" Jesse looked faintly interested.
"Well, we had this big fight this morning..." Misty began.
"Well, that's hardly big news," said Jesse. "You two were always having big fights and just because you're going out doesn't mean they'll stop. Trust me, I speak from personal experience."
"Maybe," said Misty dryly. "But aren't your fights a bit one-sided?" she frowned suddenly. "Hey! Ash and I are NOT going out!"
Jesse raised her eyebrows. "Really? It certainly looks like you two are very, very interested in each other!"
Misty went red. "Well... I... we..."
"Are you _still_ in denial?!" Jesse exploded at her. "That's _pathetic_!"
Misty's eyes blazed. "Hello? Pot? This is the kettle, you're sooo black! How long were you and James in _denial_?!"
"Don't you change the subject!" Jesse slammed her fist on the table and loomed over Misty. "Now, are you in love with Twerp Ketchum or not?!"
Misty looked up at Jesse and gulped. "Er... yes?"
Jesse sighed and sat back down. "Right, then what's the problem?"
Misty gave up trying to deny her feelings. It actually felt good to have someone to confide in, even if that person was Jesse. "I guess I'm a bit scared." she confessed. "It's been a long time since Ash and I saw each other, three years, so I don't really feel confident about his feelings for me."
Jesse snorted. "From what I heard last night he didn't seem to be hesitating!"
Misty blushed again. "Yeah, maybe. But I was feeling really uptight and all... emotionally after Fletcher's appearance."
"Who's Fletcher?" Jesse asked. "An old boyfriend?"
Misty looked revolted. "NO WAY!!" she yelled. Calming down she filled Jesse in on the whole sticky mess involving Fletcher and her sisters.
"What a bastard." said Jesse flatly. "If you ask _me_, he's the reason why you're feeling all messed up, helped by your sisters, they sound like a bunch of drips! If they've been putting you down all this time, no wonder you're confused about the whole Ash thing."
Misty's eyes opened very wide. "Psychoanalyzed by Jesse of Team Rocket, would've thought?"
Jesse sniffed. "Hmph! I take it that you don't appreciate my advice?"
Misty sweatdropped. "I didn't mean _that_, it's just you're the last person I'd expect to support me!"
Jesse gave her a very direct look. "Whatever you may think, I don't like people who emotionally abuse others! Look what James' family tried to do to him!"
"He's really important to you, isn't he." said Misty softly.
Jesse turned her face away and bit her lower lip. "I wouldn't have married him otherwise." she said. "Besides, he's such a silly, sentimental fool that he needs someone to look out for him, and I've been doing that since we were in Pokemon Tech!" she turned back to Misty, surprising the younger girl with the sheen of tears in her blue eyes. "I told you that time, when we met up in Cerulean City, that James has been part of my life for so long I can't imagine him _not_ being there!"
Misty smiled. "That's beautiful, Jesse."
Jesse sniffled and wiped her eyes. "Oh crap, now you're making me mushy! I hate that!"
"I feel very privileged that you're actually confiding in me." said Misty. "It does help to talk."
"I'm so glad you feel that way!" Jesse's voice was back to it's normal tones. "But let's change the subject, you and Ash..."
"Are you and James planning to have kids?" Misty interrupted her quickly.
"...." Jesse stared at her in shock. "Wha...?"
"Are you going to start a family?"
"Are you MAD???" Jesse cried. "Ruin my figure and my life by having a selfish little brat??!!"
"Hmmm... maybe two in the family would be a bit much." muttered Misty.
"What did you say?" Jesse demanded.
"Er... maybe it's a bit soon to think about that?"
Jesse shook her head. "I'm NOT the motherly type!" she stated firmly. "Besides, James and I have enough work trying to figure out how we're going to look after _ourselves_ without thinking about noisy babies!"
Misty frowned. "Don't you two have a place to live?"
Jesse grimaced. "Well, James' parents aren't too happy about our marriage, and we're not going to try and convince them otherwise - they might try to get us divorced so James'll marry that... that... whip crazy tramp Jessebelle!"
"So, no money from them, huh?"
"Not a cent, although we did pawn the pearls and the diamond engagement ring I stripped from Jessebelle which gave us a bit of cash."
"Someday Jesse you HAVE to tell me this story!" Misty said.
"Someday," Jesse agreed. "Anyway, since we dropped out of Team Rocket we haven't had proper jobs and the money is running low now." she thought of the shopping bags on the sofa and sweatdropped. "Quite low in fact."
"Have you any ideas?" Misty asked.
Jesse hesitated. "Well... it's a bit of a long shot, buuuut we do have one idea." she blushed faintly and cleared her throat. "A restaurant."
Misty raised an eyebrow. "A restaurant? Can either of you guys COOK?"
"What was that?"
"I CAN'T COOK! I can't even boil an egg!!!" Jesse wailed. "That's the biggest hitch to our perfect plan!!!"
"Oh, that is a problem. I take it that James can't cook either?" Misty asked hopefully.
Jesse drooped. "He can make cheese on toast and even then he usually burns the toast!"
Misty shuddered. "Ugh... so how did you guys eat when you were on the road chasing us?"
Jesse drooped even more. "We even thought up the perfect motto," she lamented. "It was so _us_!"
"Really?" Misty smiled encouragingly. "I'd love to hear it!"
Jesse perked up. "Alright!" she stood up and posed. Misty started to have a bad feeling.
Jesse started her speech. "Want a burger and fries without trouble?"
"If you're really hungry make it double!" she deepened her voice to sound like James.
"To protect the world from hunger and thirst."
"Our food isn't bad, at least not the worst."
"The Jesse James restaurant, blast in for a bite."
"We're open all day and open all night!"
Misty clapped weakly. "That's... uh... very _you_ alright."
Jesse smiled. "Thank you, I thought so!" then her pleasure turned to despair again and she slumped into her chair. "Not that it does any good if we don't have the capital OR the ability!"
Misty looked at her sympathetically. "It's not like _you_ to give up so easily, Jesse!" she said, an idea was forming in her mind which could work - if Jesse accepted it! "You and James were always so determined, we'd beat you again and again and you still kept coming back as if you were too dumb to quit!"
Jesse frowned. "If you're trying to make me feel better you're FAILING!" she growled.
"No, no! What I mean is that you have to persevere! And accept help from other people," Misty grinned. "Like me and Ash!"
"Accept help from the twerp team? NEVER!"
"You accepted my help before." Misty reminded her.
Jesse fidgeted. "Yes, well, okay... you maybe, Ash - no!"
"Why don't you just hear me out?" suggested Misty. "Before you refuse completely."
"Alright." said Jesse reluctantly. "But this better be good!"
"Okay, how about _I_ teach you to cook? I wasn't very good until a couple of years ago, but I taught myself and I've cooked roast dinners and fancy desserts and everyone liked them! Plus Brock's a _great_ cook! I'm sure he'll be happy to assist James!" *Once I've pleaded and bullied him into saying yes, I'm sure Joy'll help!* "As for raising money to buy a place, well, Ash'll need people to help build his Gym, you could work for him!"
Jesse thought about this. "Okay..." she said slowly. "Learning to cook would be good, but I don't know about the working for Ash thing, I just don't think I could do that."
"Just think about it, okay?" Misty asked.
Jesse's eyes narrowed. "Y'know, I was pretty nasty to you when we were younger, why are you helping me now?"
Misty shrugged. "Because I'm a kind and generous person?" she suggested lightly. "Or maybe it's because I don't believe that you and James are that bad after all, you guys just need a chance."
Jesse was embarrassed, she looked around the room in an effort to avoid Misty's sincere eyes and her gaze locked on the clock. "It's getting a bit late, isn't it?" she said.
Misty looked at the clock. "Yeah, I wonder if..."
The front door slammed, Jesse and Misty rushed out, but it was only Richie who looked at them in surprise.
"What's up with you two?' he asked.
"Er... nothing." they chorused, abashed.
"Oookay, well, I'm going to have an early night, see ya in the morning."
"Good night Richie." said Misty.
Once he'd left, Misty and Jesse glanced at each other. Neither were very happy.
"Here we are," Ash put three mugs of beer on the table he was sharing with James. "Drink up!"
"What's the third... oh..." said James, as Ash lifted the first mug and drained it. "It's going to be like that huh?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about," said Ash firmly, inhaling the second mug. "You want another?"
James looked at his untouched beer. "Ummm... sure."
Ash slammed the sixth mug down on the table and exhaled. James' nose wrinkled as a huge cloud of alcohol breath blew in his face. He hurriedly took another drink of his beer. He was halfway through his third mug, and accelerating.
Ash rubbed his nose. "I can't stand it!" he said finally.
"Huh?" James tried to focus and managed it after a minute or two. "What?"
"I just don't understand her!"
"Ah," James nodded wisely. "Women. Take my advice Ash - don't even try."
Ash looked at the purple haired man. "Well - what about you and Jesse?"
James laughed. "I've been hanging out with Jesse ever since we both started at Pokemon Tech and flunked out together. I joined a bike gang with her and finally got recruited into Team Rocket with her - where we worked together constantly day and night for eight years. Then we confessed our love, and then we got married... and I STILL don't understand her."
Ash groaned, "Now I'm REALLY depressed." He stood up a little unsteadily. "You want another?"
"Make it double," said James, draining his mug.
Half an hour later James had finally caught up with Ash in the beer drinking statistics and the two men were feeling pretty good about the world in general.
"I can't understand why I always get the weird pokemon," said Ash.
"Did you drink some of my beer when I wasn't looking Pikachu?"
"Thatsh what I thought." Ash looked at his comatose pokemon, who was snoring on the seat next to him. "Boy am I going to get a lecture for this."
"So what? Tell em to go to heck." said James. "You're a big boy now." He blinked. "Very big in fact."
"Argh!" Ash said. "Everyone an' their pokemon keeps telling me I've grown."
"Well you have," said James, grabbing for his beer and missing. Damn tricky things... always moving around! "It's very noticeable. You were always such a shrimp back in the old days. You were a tadpole! Now you're a... frog."
"Yay," said Ash.
"Nonononononono... dint mean it like that. It's like," James cast around for an idea. "You were a Charmander, and now you're a Charizard!"
"Don't remind me of that pokemon, please!"
"Hey man, you think YOU'VE had bad luck with your pokemon, you ain't seen nothing." James wiped the back of his mouth after missing with the beer glass again. "Oops."
"Oh yeah?" Ash asked.
"What about Weezing?"
"Okay, you have a point."
"Yeah, and have I ever shown you my Victreebel?"
James fumbled with a pokeball. He tried to throw it, failed and in the end wound up tapping it against the table. "Come out come out!" he sang.
A large Victreebel materialized on the table.
"S'a healthy looking pokemon," said Ash. "Dunno what's your problem."
"Hah! It may look nice, and it is... it really is... but it mfffff..."
Ash gazed at the spectacle of James' pokemon trying to eat his head.
"Aha. I think I see what you mean."
After Ash had finally managed to wrestle the Victreebel off James' head and it had been restored to its pokeball the two men decided that another drink was in order. All that exertion you know. One drink led to another. And another. And then the secrets began to spill.
"And then... then she SLAPS me..." Ash slurred. "C'n you b'lieve it?"
James hiccuped. "It just means she likes you," he commented.
"Girls always hit the ones they like," James elaborated. "Look at me and Jesse - she hits me all the time. Though fortunately not with a whip like Jessebell."
Ash paused for a moment. "James - I really love you man, but I am just not going there."
"S'my point," said James. "If she bugs you she must like you."
Ash blinked. "Thatsh the most ridiku.. rididicully... stupid thing I've ever heard."
"It'sh the truth, she digs you man," commented James. "And she's not the only one - that May was ALL OVER you at the party last night."
"MAY! The one with the..." James paused. "The brother."
"Oh HER!!!" Ash said. "Yeah, I used to like her."
"Really?" James asked, intrigued.
"Yeah, used to have a really big crush for her," Ash elaborated. "Wow. Who knew?"
"Do you like her now?"
"Who're you calling dummy you dummy?"
"I'm calling you dummy twerp!"
"You wanna make somethin' out of it?"
"Maybe I do!"
The two men lurched to their feet. Eventually.
Holding himself aloft Ash stared at James. "You know... I don't think I can fight you right now."
"Oh thank goodness," said James, giving up his battle with gravity. *THUD*
Ash looked at the snoring James and sighed. "Oh man..."
Misty and Jesse sat together on the sofa. Eyes glued to the front door. Arms folded, legs crossed, battle aura streaming off them.
"I thought you said Ash was a responsible drinker!" Jesse hissed.
"How would I know?" Misty demanded. "I stopped traveling with him before he got old enough to drink."
"I was reassuring you!"
Misty glared at the door. "Now I'm just going to kill him."
Jesse cracked her knuckles. "At last, we agree on something."
There was the sound of footsteps staggering up to the door. It began to creak open.
Misty and Jesse leaned forward as Ash staggered inside, James thrown over one shoulder and Pikachu tucked under the other arm. He tottered briefly then regained his balance. Then he became aware of his imminent demise.
"Misty..." he said slowly. "Jesse..."
"Prepare for trouble," said Jesse.
"Make it double!" said Misty. "Ash, where in the world have you BEEN???!!!"
Ash struggled to remember. "Bar." he managed finally.
"It's 1 o'clock in the MORNING!" Jesse screamed. "What happened to James???!!!"
"James... James... He was here a minute ago." Ash looked around.
"You're _carrying_ him," Misty pointed out.
"Oh yeah... I thought my pack was heavier than usual. Here." Ash unloaded James onto Jesse, who collapsed beneath him.
"Night..." he muttered as he headed for the stairs.
"Hey! Hey, Ketchum! Hello!" Jesse screeched.
"Sleeeeeeppp..." Ash got to the foot of the stairs.
"ASH!" yelled Misty.
He paused and looked at her. "Misty..." he said.
Misty fumed. "You've got a lot of explaining to do Ash Ketchum!" she yelled. "You're in big BIG trouble!" She ran up to him and punched her finger into his chest repeatedly. "What about Pikachu? How irresponsible can you be?"
Ash seemed to be thinking about something. "Misty - are you mad at me?"
"YES!!!! OF COURSE I AM YOU DOLT!!!" Misty drew back her hand and slapped him across the face. Slowly, slowly, he turned back to face her. He rubbed his cheek slowly and then grinned.
"YES! JAMES WAS RIGHT! YOU _DO_ LOVE ME!!!!"
"Wha...?" was all Misty got out before Ash engulfed her in a huge bear hug and kissed her.
Misty struggled for a while, disgusted by the beer smell and taste, but struggling against the new Ash was much like trying to wake up a Snorlax. It just wasn't going to happen. And after a couple of seconds, she didn't really mind after all.
Jesse levered James off her and gawked at the passionately kissing pair. "Camera... camera... damn it where's my camera..."
"You're really going to regret this in the morning," said Jesse, nudging her fallen spouse. "But not as much as HE is," she grinned, raising her polaroid camera.
The next morning, Ash Ketchum woke up at the foot of the stairs to a hearty and high-pitched. "Good MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRNIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNGGG!!!"
"Guh!" he said. He wanted to say more but apparently there was a Jigglypuff where his tongue used to be.
"AAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!" screamed James. "Oh God, my head... my HEAD!!!"
"Oh I'm SORRY dear, was I too LOOOOOUD!" Jesse howled in his ear.
Ash stood up and grabbed at the wall. He ran a quick check. Hmmmm... not in my bed, tongue all furry, headache, large gap in memory where last night should be - aha! I got plastered last night. Right... aspirin.
Ignoring Jesse's tormenting of James, he stumbled into the kitchen and fished around in a cupboard. A hand pushed a full glass in front of him.
Ash turned to see Brock attached to the hand. "I figured you'd be needing this," he said. "I put three aspirin in."
"Thanks," said Ash. "One more and I'll be fine."
"How often have you done this?" Brock raised an eyebrow.
"Oh... two or three times..." Ash yawned. *Or maybe four or five.* "The same thing always happens. I get a headache, my tongue is fuzzy and I've forgotten everything from the night before."
Outside the kitchen door, Misty froze. *Forgotten?*
"Forgotten?" asked Brock, adding another aspirin to the glass and handing it back to Ash.
"Mmmm..." said Ash. "Some people have killer hangovers, some get sick, I get amnesia."
"Then why do it?" Brock demanded.
"I can never remember", Ash replied, drinking the medicine. "Oh yeah, that's better." He closed his eyes. The kitchen door opened and he opened them in time to see Misty stalk up to him.
"So you don't remember ANYTHING from last night?" she demanded. "Not a single THING???!!!"
Ash yawned. "The last thing I remember is James' Victreebel trying to eat his head. After that it's just a big blank."
Misty was practically vibrating in anger. A fact he didn't notice till it was almost too late.
"What's the matter?" he asked. "And has anyone seen Pikachu this morning?"
Misty frostily held out his still sleeping Pokemon. "How could you be so irresponsible??" she demanded. "How could you give him alcohol?"
"Oh no, Pikachu," Ash looked disconsolate. "I'm sorry, I was too slow drinking that tankard."
"I always have to drink _really_ quickly otherwise Pikachu gets into it," he explained, cradling his pokemon. "He really likes the taste of alcohol."
"So you have an alcoholic pokemon?" James walked in. "Okay, you win the weird pokemon competition."
"JAMES!!! I haven't FINISHED!!!" sang Jesse, following him in. She looked at Ash and smiled. "And how are we this morning?" she purred.
Ash blinked. "Fine, I'll be perfectly back to normal once I've had a shower and changed." he said.
"Huh?" Jesse was confused.
"He doesn't remember last night," said Misty quickly. "Apparently he always forgets everything after he gets drunk."
"Reeeeeeeeallllyyyyyy..." said Jesse. "So, for example, if you _kissed_ someone last night you wouldn't remember it?"
"Nope," said Ash. "Hell, I woke up once with two new pokemon and I still don't know where they came from."
Sweatdrops trickled down everyone's foreheads.
"So, even if you _kissed_ someone who you knew, you wouldn't remember?"
"No," said Ash.
"Not even if it was a great big kiss? Full of passion and fireworks?" Jesse asked. Misty, with great deliberation and precision, dropped the toaster on her foot.
"Oh, I'm so SORRY!!!!" said Misty. "Well, you better have that shower Ash!"
"Yeah," Ash pushed away from the wall and headed for the door. Memory suddenly kicked in with a vengeance and he paused at it and turned back.
"Misty... about yesterday?"
Misty froze. *Oh God...*
"Uh, well I'm sorry about the whole gyrados thing, and I hope you'll be very happy." He quickly ran off.
"Huh?" was the general consensus. Jesse smiled evilly and fingered a very special photo in her skirt pocket.
Misty watched the door swing closed behind him. *Ash...*
"Fletcher sweetums, let's just go hoooommmmeee!!" wailed Daisy. "This place is, like, sooooo boooorrriiinnnnggg!!!"
Fletcher winced briefly but smiled at Daisy. "Now sugarpie, you know I have to have another little talk with Misty AND get her to give me some Pokemon for the Gym."
"I don't see why she has to," said Violet from the sofa. "They're, like, HER Pokemon. Anyway, I thought you had Pokemon."
Fletcher restrained himself from yelling and replied to Violet in a controlled tone. "I never told you, but all my Pokemon were stolen from me sometime ago." he saw a chance to get Violet and Lily back on his side here. "It really tore me up," his face twisted with false grief. "And that's why... why I'm trying so hard for the Cerulean Gym!"
Lily and Violet glanced at each other. "Oh," Lily looked stricken. "I'm so sorry Fletcher, I guess I understand."
"Oh, baby!" crooned Daisy casting herself on his chest. "You never told me how much you were suffering!"
Fletcher assumed a resigned air. "I didn't want to burden you, pudding-pie." He took a deep breath. "Anyway, time to attend to the current situation, who knows where Misty might be?"
Lily snapped her fingers. "Why not, like, try Professor Oak's Pokemon Research centre?" she suggested. "Misty was going there alot to see him about her Togepei, and I think he's good friends with Ash Ketchum."
Fletcher recalled the party he'd crashed, hadn't that been thrown by someone called Oak? He grinned triumphantly. "I think that sounds like the perfect place to start, thank you for your help Lily."
To be continued
Go ON to Part 7