I don't think this story was quite successful. There's no way I can write tragedy in a short story! It's hard, you need to build up empathy in the readers for the characters before you can make a tragedy... oh well. ^_^;;

by Leto

The sky flashed with thunder, and for a brief second, the dark grey clouds were split by a brilliant light. The travellers had given up running through the rain; they were already soaked to the skin and there were certainly no towns nearby.

One of the travellers, a small yellow creature, sniffed the air excitedly. It loved storms. None of the other travellers shared its sentiment; in fact, another of the team, a smaller yellow creature, started to cry.

"It's okay, Togepi," said Misty softly, but the thunder and pouring rain tore away her words. She just clutched it to her chest instead.

It was beginning to get dark, so one of the travellers pulled out a Pokeball and threw it high in the sky.

"Pigeoooo!" cawed the flying Pokemon.

"Pidgeotto, see if you can find some shelter," shouted Ash, trying to be heard over the storm.

Pidgeotto nodded, somewhat nervously - it hated storms - and flew off, cawing.

About twenty minutes later, Pidgeotto returned to the group, who were huddled together, shivering.

"Pii, pigeoo... pigeonn," it said to Pikachu, and Pikachu translated to its owner.

"Let's go," said Ash, "there's a small shack-type place about a kilometre south of here."

"A kilometre," sighed Misty, but it was better than nothing, especially in a night of no peace. And there was Togepi to worry about; Pokemon were more susceptible to the elements than humans, depending on their age and size, and Togepi was very vulnerable especially.

They sloshed through the mud in the dark forest until they finally saw what Pidgeotto had seen - a small, folorn looking structure, from which the glow of some sort of light came.

Shivering from the cold, Ash led the way into the shack and the three humans, without looking much, plonked themselves down to try and warm up.

Unfortunately, they weren't alone.

The tired travellers found themselves sitting on two sleeping - well, formerly sleeping - figures.

The figures leapt up with a yell, and in a second, everyone recognised each other.

"YOU!" they all shouted in unison.

"Prepare for trouble!"

"Make it double!"

"Please, not this now," begged Misty, sounding quite unlike herself. "Couldn't we just stay here for tonight?"

"This is OUR shelter, find your own," snapped Jessie.

"But this is the only shelter around here for kilometres. Please, you gotta let us stay."

Team Rocket was surprised that Misty was being so polite, and inwardly, Misty was cringing, but her concern for Togepi won out over normal instinct.

Jessie and James looked at each other, uncertainly. Even they couldn't help feeling a little sorry for the group of travellers; they did look pretty pathetic. A wet, bedraggled group, Togepi sniffling and Misty so worried she was actually being polite.

"If you stay," said James, "don't jump on us any more."

Everyone sighed in relief, and Jessie begrudgingly moved her sleeping bag so that the others could lie down.

"I don't believe dis," muttered Meowth, "bad guys don't help da enemies like dis."

But he was too tired to argue and soon went back to sleep.

"Here," said Misty softly, and gave Togepi to James. He looked surprised.

"Why are you giving it to me?"

"Togepi needs to be warm," she explained, "take care of it."

He nodded, dazedly, put it in his sleeping bag and went back to sleep.

The group of wet travellers lay on the floor and went to sleep surprisingly quickly, given that they were sharing the room with their worst enemies, although Ash was seen to clutch Pikachu a little tighter to his chest than usual.


In the morning...

"AHHHH! My hair looks TERRIBLE!"

At Misty's scream, everyone else woke up, startled. The different characters were either morning people or not, and it was plain to see who was and wasn't.

Jessie jumped up and eyed Misty. "Yup, you're right, it does," she said helpfully, with a smirk, "you shouldn't go to sleep with it wet."

Jessie pulled out a hairbrush and started working on her own hair, while Misty pulled one out of her own soggy, wet pack.

Brock got up and watched the two girls. He liked girls. ^_^ He had no intention of asking either of those two out, but there is never any harm in looking (unless they see you, that is).

"Ash, James, do you want breakfast?" he asked the two, presently.

Ash and James, meanwhile, were not morning people at all.

"Mrrrfph," mumbled Ash incoherantly, rolling over and trying to go back to sleep.

James perked up slightly at the sound of food, but didn't get out of bed or even raise his head from the pillow. He croaked (those who aren't morning people never TALK in the morning, only croak or mumble) "I'll have a double serve of those gorgeous fluffy pancakes, six slices of toast, bacon, eggs, some orange juice and a bowl of Cornflakes."

He too rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.

Brock got a little sweatdrop and said "got any plausible requests?"

James didn't respond beyond an incoherant "grph".

Brock, Misty and Jessie looked at each other and grinned. Being morning people, they had built in evil senses of humour.

With an unspoken agreement, Misty handed a bucket to Jessie who went outside. Two minutes later, Jessie returned lugging a bucket full of water.

Brock said "allow me to do the honours," and dumped the bucket of water all over Ash and James.

The two sat bolt upright and screamed. James jumped out of his now soaking sleeping bag.

Before the two dripping wet, now wide awake people could tear Brock limb from limb, a small sneeze came from James' sleeping bag.

"What's that?" began Ash, but James reached into the bag and pulled out Togepi, who was looking very sorry for itself.

"Toge toge," it whispered, and looked up at James imploringly.

"What's it want?" he asked Misty.

Misty ran up and took Togepi from him. "Oh this is terrible! Togepi's sick! This is all your fault!"

James blinked, "what'd I do?"

"I told you to look after it and now look at it!"

James blinked again, unable to think of any sort of reply. Such is a common characteristic of those who are not morning people.

Then, to everyone's shock, Misty started crying and ran out the door with Togepi.

Ash and Brock stared at each other in shock, then ran out after her, leaving Team Rocket looking after them in confusion.

James said, "we'd better follow them."


"We have to see if Togepi's okay."

Jessie looked as though she was about to argue, then she realised that James really did feel guilty. She may not like Misty, or any of that group, but she liked Pokemon, so she nodded and the two left.

It was morning outside, and everything showed it. Small drops of rain still trickled off leaves, but the forest was breathtakingly beautiful. The rain of the previous night had created a misty effect, and the sunlight fell in slats through the breaks in the trees. If you looked carefully, you could see the hint of a rainbow in the clear blue sky.

The beautiful morning was wasted on Misty, who ran, not knowing where she was going really, knowing only that she had to find a Pokemon Centre, somewhere, somewhere, there had to be one...

Togepi looked up at its trainer with fearful eyes, as its breath came in short gasps.

Brock and Ash ran too, but they couldn't keep up with such determination, and eventually fell behind.


Nurse Joy had just gotten out of bed and was barely awake when a wild figure burst into the Pokemon Centre.

"Please!" she begged, gasping for air, "you've just got to help my Togepi!"

Nurse Joy accepted the tiny egg Pokemon and examined it. Togepi sneezed and looked miserable.

"I'm afraid," she said sorrowfully, "I don't know very much about Togepi. I've never had one as a patient before and it's -"

"Please, try something, anything!"

Nurse Joy looked worried, but tried to smile reassuringly. She took the Togepi from Misty and called two Chansey to follow her into a back room.

The room was empty, and Misty sunk into a chair with a sigh. A tear ran down her cheek but she scrubbed it away furiously. "Trainers have to be strong for their Pokemon," she thought.

"It's all James' fault," she muttered, "if he'd just taken the time to look after Togepi like I asked... it's all his fault!"

She knew it wasn't really, but she kept telling herself that it was. She needed someone to blame, she couldn't let herself accept that fate would be cold enough to bring this about.

"Please don't die, Togepi," she whispered, and then, drained, closed her eyes.


Hours passed. Ash, Brock and Team Rocket had since arrived at the Pokemon Centre, but Misty wouldn't look at any of them. She wouldn't even respond, or acknowledge they were there.

Pikachu looked nearly as anxious as Misty, and at one stage, Nurse Joy actually thought it had been brought in as a patient.

A few hours later, a Chansey appeared behind the front desk and spoke to Nurse Joy. She walked, wearing a serious face, towards Misty.

Misty looked up, finally showing some interest in something. "Well?"

Joy sighed and said, "Well, it's not good news. Your Togepi has a fever."

Misty looked relieved. "Ah, a fever's not too bad, is it."

Joy bit her lip and said "We just don't know. It hasn't been recovering well. It may live, but if it does, it probably won't ever fully recover."

"From a fever?!" squawked Misty. "Fevers are curable! Do something!"

"I'm sorry," said Nurse Joy, meaning it, "but we've been trying all our treatments on it and none seem to have any effect on a Togepi. We might have to wait for it to clear naturally."

Misty nodded mutely, and as Nurse Joy walked away, buried her head in her hands.

"Wow," whispered Jessie, "she's really taking it hard."

James nodded wordlessly, then cringed slightly as Misty stood up and started walking towards them.

"This is all your fault," she said in a low, furious voice. "Togepi's gonna die and it's all YOUR fault."

"It might not die."

"Huh. I wouldn't get my hopes up like that. I should have known better than to trust *anything*, let alone something important, to Team Rocket."

Jessie jumped up. "You take that back!"

"I won't take it back!" snapped Misty, "you two are pathetic! Why don't you get a real job or something, all you ever do is follow us around and make our lives miserable, and you can't even do what you do right!"

Misty had hit a sore spot there. Jessie looked ready to slap her, but thought better and spat out in an icy voice: "you will regret this!"

Misty was beyond caring. She snapped "no, you will!" She returned to her seat and didn't respond to anything more, from Ash, Brock or Pikachu.

"Ooh, the NERVE of that girl," hissed Jessie furiously, "calling us losers like that! I'll never forgive her!"

"It's the truth though," said James softly. He hadn't spoken this whole time.

Her temper flaring, Jessie hit him over the head and snarled "don't you dare agree with her! We are not losers! We are not losers!"

"Jessie, everyone's staring," he whispered.

She realised, blushed and sat down. "I hate her," she said.

James didn't reply, so she continued. "I hate her, she's got everything and she had every chance, and now she's getting on our case about being losers... I'd like to see what she'd do in our situation."

James nodded almost imperceptably and Jessie snapped "Why are you so moody?"

"I'm sick of this," he said quietly.

"Sick of what?"

"Everything. What she said was true. We can't do anything right. I've just killed a Pokemon. We don't have any job, we don't have any future."

He stood up and slunk out of the Pokemon Centre. Jessie's temper subsided as she stared after him in shock.

At that moment, Nurse Joy appeared again, holding an unfamiliar figure wrapped in a blanket.

"Guess what!" she said happily. "Your Togepi's fever turned out to be a side effect!"

"Side effect of what?" asked Misty.

Nurse Joy whipped off the blanket, revealing a small Chansey.

"A Chansey," said Ash. "Why are you showing us that?"

"Togepi just evolved into it!"


Meowth awoke to find that everyone else had left the shack. Looking at the sun told him it was early afternoon. Meowth was an unusual member of its species in that it kept the same hours as humans, but even it had natural instinct, and that was to sleep.

Suddenly he heard footsteps, that he recognised as James'. Team Rocket knew each other so well they could recognise each other's tread, but something seemed off about James'.

James ran into the shack, and wordlessly started bundling things together.

"Meowth, what happened?" enquired the cat, actually concerned. James looked awful.

James turned away and started rolling up his sleeping bag.


James didn't respond. He picked up his backpack, turned and walked from the room.


"You said your Togepi was caught out in the rain last night," said Nurse Joy to the surprised trio. "But it didn't seem to do very much damage. You must've taken good care of it after it got wet."

Misty blinked, and gasped, remembering. "James!"

She turned, but he was gone. Jessie was still there, but Misty didn't feel brave enough to ask her where he was.

"Yeah," she whispered. "Yeah, it had good care taken of it."


"Where's James?!" cried Jessie, running back into the shack where they'd spent the previous night.

Meowth looked confused. "I wish I knew. He came in here and took all his stuff, then he just walked out. I dunno where he went, he wouldn't say nothin'."

"He... walked out?" whispered Jessie. The colour drained from her face. "In Pokemon Tech, we flunked out together. In the bike gang, we 'hung' together. We joined Team Rocket together. How could... he walk out? He's just the same as me, he's just the same, how could he walk out? Meowth, tell me how he could walk out? He's coming right back, isn't he? He'll be coming back and we'll keep being Team Rocket together, right? RIGHT?!"

Meowth sat, stunned. He'd never really seen Jessie cry before, and definately not this hard. She was demanding him to give reassurance, but he couldn't give it. He wanted someone to reassure him.

Misty, Ash and Brock walked back in, and stopped in the doorway as they saw Jessie crying.

Misty didn't like to approach her, so it was Ash that went up to her.

"I-is something wrong?"

Jessie slapped him, hard. "WHAT SORT OF QUESTION IS THAT?!"

"I-I was just worried."

Jessie sobbed harder. "He's gone, James is gone! This is all your fault!"

Misty cringed at the familiar phrase. She wished she hadn't let her temper get the better of her. She wished she'd gotten a hold of herself. But it was too late for that now.

"We'll help you find him," Ash promised.

Jessie looked at him, mistrusting. "You wouldn't help me. Why would you help me. I'd never help you."

Ash didn't say anything, but looked at her in a steady way that made her nod miserably, agreeing to accept his help.


"It's been two days," said Brock, "and we still haven't found him."

"We know, Brock," scowled Misty, feeling very guilty.

"Chansey," whispered the egg Pokemon from its perch on her head.

"I don't think he's coming back," said Ash.

Jessie's face was blank, but she nodded. She wasn't really able to absorb what he was saying though, just nodding as a means of showing him she was listening.

But she wasn't listening. Her thoughts were kilometres away, back when she met James, back when she saw his eyes sparkle and his lopsided grin when he looked at her.

'I can't believe James is dead,' she thought, feeling furious at the world. 'I can't believe he took that way... he really is a loser. He really is a loser!'

She was ragingly angry against him but she couldn't hate him, even if he had given up.

She clenched her teeth and declared to herself, in her mind, that she would make it anyway. Some day, she wouldn't be a loser any more...


"I now pronounce you husband and wife."

'This is the only way I can get a future. This is the only way I can get some respect. This is the only way.'

The new bride smiled at him, in a way that unnerved him slightly.

'She looks like her, but she's not her. Not nearly. I can't kid myself, this is the biggest mistake of my life. But, this is all there is...'


"Jessie," said Meowth weakly, "I think ya better look at dis."

Jessie silently took the newspaper from the cat Pokemon's paws and read the article.

"Jessiebell," she spat, "he hates Jessiebell. How could he, how COULD he marry her?"

Meowth didn't know, but there were more important things to worry about. He began detailing the outline of a new plan to capture Pokemon.

Because, life goes on.

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