Notes: this is a giftfic for LuckyLadybug and takes place mid-Kanto. Although this is anime-verse, I did bring in two characters from the game-verse, Petrel and Proton, as I found them intriguing and wanted to give them anime counterparts.
James was still staring blankly at the video phone message. He had replayed the message three times to make sure he hadn't misunderstood it. But it was the same message each time, no mistake.
"But why does Executive Petrel want to see you?" Jessie asked, her eyes wide.
"I… I don't know…!" James stammered, still staring blankly at the screen. He then groaned. "Maybe the Boss wants to give me a big harangue, but he can't get out here personally, so he's sending Executive Petrel to do it instead."
"Nah, dat can't be it," Meowth said, waving a paw in dismissal.
"What makes you say that?" James asked.
"'Cause if the Boss wanted Executive Petrel to chew you out, he'd chew me and Jessie out wit' ya," he sighed. "But Executive Petrel wants to meet one-on-one at the nearby Team Rocket outpost."
"You've got to admit, Meowth's got a point there," Jessie sighed. "So why else would Executive Petrel want to talk to you?"
James idly wondered if Petrel had found out about his rich parents and the Growlithe he had back at the estate; he hadn't even admitted to Jessie and Meowth about them yet, but he supposed the boss and his executives had their ways of finding out information.
He pushed this thought aside.
"I guess I'd better go to the outpost and meet him—see what he wants to say," James said. He stood up, hobbling away. "I'll see you later… I hope…"
He was still a bundle of nerves as he headed for the outpost; Jessie and Meowth were waiting with the balloon nearby, in the event he needed to make a quick getaway. James nervously entered the outpost, barely glancing at anyone as he went inside the inner office. Petrel was at the desk, and James froze as he noticed Proton, another executive, casually looking over some blueprints in another chair. Proton's reputation had preceded him, and rumors and tales had been flying through Team Rocket in regards to his merciless cruel streak; Proton himself even boasted of being the scariest member of the team, though it was anyone's guess as to whether he was serious or merely blowing smoke.
"Y-You wanted to see me, Sir?" James asked.
"Yes, I did; come on in, James," Petrel said, cheerfully indicating an empty chair in front of his desk.
James sat down, casting a nervous glance at Proton, who merely looked up from his blueprints to give him a searching look before returning his attention back to his work, apparently unimpressed.
"Never mind Proton over there; this is just between us," Petrel said. "There's only one inner office here at this small outpost, so we have to share the space. Anyway, I've been wanting to speak to you for a while now-"
"Look, Sir, if this is about my failure to obtain Dratini-"
"…This isn't about that at all," Petrel said, arching an eyebrow. "…Is there anything else you think this might be about, James?"
"Uh… no?" he replied, without conviction.
Petrel seemed amused, but he shrugged it off.
"I wanted to speak with you because I heard that your Koffing recently evolved into a Weezing."
"…That's it?" James asked, baffled. "I mean, yes, it's true—and Jessie's Ekans became an Arbok at the same time."
"An excellent achievement for both of your Pokémon," Petrel said, with a nod. "But there isn't much that I can say to Jessie. Now, I'm not an expert at training an Arbok; Ariana is the executive for that, but from what I can tell, Jessie is utilizing her Arbok very efficiently, and I doubt there's anything new that Ariana could tell her."
"…And you want to tell me something about Weezing?" James asked.
"Well, yes," Petrel said, releasing six Pokémon from their Pokéballs. Five Koffings and a Weezing appeared around the desk. "You see, James, I consider myself somewhat of a specialist in this area."
"Wow…!" James exclaimed, looking from one to the other. He sent out his Weezing to socialize with the others; they seemed to be getting along.
"Your Weezing looks quite good—quite healthy," Petrel noted. "What attacks does it know?"
"Um…" James thought for a moment. "Smog, of course. And Sludge. Oh, and he knows Smokescreen and Tackle, too."
"…A redundant set of moves, wouldn't you say?" Petrel said.
"Well… maybe just a bit," James admitted, shrugging slightly. A thought then struck him. "Is that why you asked me to meet with you, Sir? You wanted to give me some tips on what attacks to teach Weezing?"
"That's exactly why I asked you to come here!" Petrel said. "But, really, there's only one attack your Weezing needs to know."
"What's that?" James asked.
"Explosion," Petrel said. "My Weezing knows it, and all of my Koffing know the lower-level equivalent, Selfdestruct. You are familiar with the moves, aren't you?"
James flinched, recalling the Voltorbs he, Jessie, and Meowth had encountered in the Fuchsia Gym, and then nodded.
"Now, ordinarily, I wouldn't suggest that a Weezing only use Explosion," Petrel continued. "But you are in a unique position, having Jessie and her Arbok to back you up. Explosion is a devastatingly powerful move—and once you have Weezing use it, Jessie can have Arbok finish things up."
"Sir…" James said, looking at his Weezing. "Explosion… Doesn't that…? I mean, my Weezing… He'll get hurt by using it, won't he?"
"Well… Yes," Petrel admitted. "A Pokémon that uses Explosion is immediately knocked out and unable to battle until it is revived. But, you see, I wouldn't have suggested this tactic to you had Jessie not been your partner; her Arbok can easily clean things up afterwards."
"If you don't mind my interrupting, Petrel," Proton said, his voice cold. "It would seem to me that the problem isn't about the tactics of your strategy, but James's sentimental attachment to his Weezing."
"Well, er… Weezing is rather special to me, yes," James admitted. "So I really wouldn't like to keep using a strategy that results in him getting hurt."
"And exactly how many battles have you successfully avoided letting your Weezing get hurt with your current battle strategy?" Proton queried. "I understand that a certain Pikachu seems to always get the better of it."
"Your Weezing appears to suffer no matter what," Proton continued. "Why not maximize its usefulness and let it go down doing something that will further your victory instead of defeat?"
"Alright, Proton," Petrel said. "I think he sees your point. But I didn't ask James to come here with the intent of railroading him into teaching his Weezing how to use Explosion; it was merely a suggestion."
Proton fell silent, and James sighed.
"Well, if that's all…" James began.
"Just one more thing," Petrel said, handing James a disc-like object. "That's the technical machine—a TM—for the move Explosion; if you give it to your Weezing, he can learn the attack. No pressure one way or another—just think it over. I'm letting you take that so that you can use it when and if you're ready."
"Thank you, Sir," James said. "Weezing, return!"
He recalled Weezing into his Pokéball, gave a respectful goodbye to both executives, and left. A few minutes later, Proton stood up.
"Proton?" Petrel asked.
"You were too easy on him," Proton said. "Both James and Jessie are woefully incompetent when it comes to stealing Pokémon."
"Look, I only gave him a suggestion, not an order," Petrel said. "Maybe if that Pikachu keeps beating them, he'll reconsider and use the TM."
"Or maybe," Proton mused. "If he sees the necessity in becoming stronger, he'll reconsider even more quickly. Excuse me, Petrel."
"What are you planning?" Petrel asked, with a frown.
"A practical lesson," Proton replied, as he left the office.
Petrel said nothing as Proton left, beginning to regret allowing him to witness the entire conversation.
"There you are!" Jessie exclaimed, as James ran over to them and leaped into the balloon's basket. "What did Executive Petrel want?"
"He wanted to give me some advice on how to use Weezing in battle," James said. "He, er… He gave me this." He held up the TM. "If I give this to Weezing, he'll learn Explosion. It's a powerful move, but…"
"It's gonna hurt," the cat finished.
"I don't know what to do," James said. "Weezing can win more battles if he uses it, but he'll also get hurt, too."
"Well…" Jessie said, thinking about it. "I mean… It would be nice to defeat and capture Pikachu easily, but if it was my Arbok, I'd hate to see him get hurt. But I guess it's not really up to me, is it? Weezing is your Pokémon; it's your call."
"Well, Executive Petrel told me to think it over; I guess I'll do that," James said, pocketing the TM.
"Right," Jessie said. She then switched back to her usual, take-charge attitude. "Then it's onward to Pikachu! The twerps are staying in a cabin on that mountainside; we can swoop in for a sneak attack!"
"Yeah!" James and Meowth exclaimed.
James did, however, mull over the dilemma as they headed closer to the fog-shrouded mountainside. He was so preoccupied, he failed to notice the large Golbat approaching closer and closer to the balloon. He did, however, notice as it used Wing Attack to tear through the balloon, sending them careening down onto the mountainside.
"What happened!?" Jessie demanded, clambering out of the basket. "Who's responsible for—YEEEK!"
She dodged as the Golbat swooped at her, screeching. It turned to face them, looking ready to attack again.
"Arbok, show that Golbat who's boss!" she ordered, releasing the snake from his Pokéball.
"You, too, Weezing!" James called.
Meowth facepalmed as Golbat shrugged off both attacks.
"Poison on poison ain't gonna work!" he chided.
"Ugh, fine; Arbok, try using Glare!" Jessie ordered.
Arbok attempted a Glare, but the Golbat retreated up, using the fog as a cover. Jessie gritted her teeth, and then let out a shriek as the Golbat suddenly used Wing Attack, knocking Arbok into a nearby tree; Arbok fell down in a daze, and Jessie ran to his side.
"Looks like it's up to us, Weezing!" James said. "Tackle!"
Golbat dodged, once again retreating into the fog; as with Arbok, Golbat used Wing Attack again, sending Weezing crashing on top of Arbok and Jessie.
"Weezing…!" James exclaimed. He then yelped. "Aaah! Jessie, get out of way! It's attacking again!"
Jessie, still trying to extricate herself from the pile of Pokémon, shrieked as Golbat dove in for another Wing Attack.
"No!" James yelled.
He leaped in the way, taking the full brunt of the Wing Attack; he, too, was sent crashing into the tree, knocked out.
"James!" Jessie exclaimed, trying to revive him. "James, are you alright!?"
The Golbat was still eyeing them, and now Meowth was standing between them and the Golbat, his knees shaking.
"Eh… Can't we just discuss this like two civilized Pokémon?" the cat offered.
The Golbat ignored him, coming in for another Wing Attack.
Meowth cringed, bracing himself, but then a new sound was heard.
Meowth stared, wide-eyed, as the same Thunderbolt that usually meant a lot of pain now ended up saving him. The Golbat screeched upon getting hit, and as Pikachu now stood in front of Meowth, his cheeks sparking in warning, Golbat realized that Pikachu had the advantage, and retreated.
Both Meowth and Jessie now sighed in relief, and then stared as Ash, Misty, and Brock now appeared.
"Good work, Pikachu!" Ash congratulated him. He and the others then cast a glance at Team Rocket. "Hey, are you guys okay?"
"I don't know," Jessie said, so worried that she wasn't even looking twice at Pikachu. "James took a Wing Attack trying to protect us."
"Dat Golbat just came outta nowhere!" Meowth added.
"Don't move James yet," Brock instructed. "Let me see…"
He looked over James for a moment, making sure there were no serious injuries.
"Is he going to be okay?" Misty asked.
"He should be," Brock said. "But he'll need to rest for a while." He paused, looking over at Ash and Misty.
They understood, and Ash nodded.
"If you're willing to call a truce, you can stay in the cabin with us," Ash said.
Ordinarily, pride would have gotten in the way of Jessie accepting their offer, but with James hurt and that Golbat still out there, there was no choice.
"Alright," Jessie said. "A truce."
"Okay," Brock said. "Ash, help me move James, but be careful."
"And Misty, make sure Arbok and Weezing are okay—give them some Super Potions for now, and I'll patch them up after I help James."
As Ash helped Brock carry James back to the cabin, with Pikachu following them, Misty extended a hand to Jessie to help her up and then quickly tended to Arbok and Weezing; soon they, along with Jessie and Meowth, headed back to the cabin, too.
The Golbat, still watching from the fog bank, now retreated back further—back to where Proton was waiting.
Proton silently recalled Golbat back into a Pokéball. One lesson had been administered; perhaps James would need another one to drive the point home.
As he awakened, James was suddenly aware of warm blankets around him—and a sore torso. He opened his eyes, staring at an upper bunk.
He looked to the side, seeing Jessie, Meowth, Arbok, and Weezing beside him.
"How do you feel?" Jessie asked.
"Terrible," James said. "What happened?"
"You took a Wing Attack from that Golbat," Jessie reminded him. "You did it to protect the Pokémon and me."
"That's right… Are you alright?"
"We'll be fine, James; you were the one hurt worst out of all of us," she said.
"Yeah, you were in such bad shape, the twerps brought you here—we called a temporary truce until you're all better," Meowth added. "Pikachu chased Golbat off, and the biggest twerp patched you up."
"That reminds me, Meowth; he said to let him know once James woke up," Jessie added.
"Oh, right…" Meowth paused. "Oh, by the way, James… Weezing wanted ya know… He's willing to learn Explosion if ya want him to."
The cat headed out of the room, and Jessie sighed as James exchanged a glance with his Weezing, who was nodding in agreement with Meowth.
"I'm just glad you're alright," Jessie said. She then gently held him by the shoulders as he tried to sit up. "Not yet."
Brock now entered with Ash, Misty, Pikachu, Geodude, and Meowth; Ash and Misty were bringing in first aid equipment.
"Okay, you guys leave the first aid stuff with Geodude," Brock instructed. "And then I'd like you all to clear the room until I'm finished. See that Jessie and Meowth get something to eat, too."
Jessie reluctantly got up and left with the others; only Geodude and Weezing remained. Brock checked the bandages he'd put on James, and he seemed satisfied.
"Well, you'll be sore for a couple of days, but you should be alright," he said.
"You're used to this sort of thing?" James asked, noting Brock's tone of voice.
"Ash has been known to throw himself in front of Pokémon attacks, too," Brock sighed. "Usually, I'm able to hold him back, but sometimes, he's faster than me, and I have to patch him up afterwards."
"Oh," James said. "Jessie and Meowth haven't eaten yet?"
"No, they've been worried about you," Brock said. "I'll leave some soup for you and some Pokémon food for your Weezing."
James blinked, looking from his Weezing to Brock's Geodude, and a light bulb went off on his head.
"What about him?" Brock asked.
"He can learn Explosion, too—just like Weezing can!"
"…I'm not exactly sure what that has to do with anything, but, yeah, I guess so," Brock said.
"Oh… Well… Would you teach him that?"
"Teach Geodude Explosion?" Brock asked. "Ha, not likely! It may be a powerful move, but I couldn't put him through that."
"…That's what I thought you'd say," James sighed.
"…Were you considering teaching your Weezing Explosion?"
"The option is on the table," James said. "I wasn't sure I wanted to put Weezing through it, either, but after what happened with the Golbat, I don't know… If Weezing is stronger, he can help me protect my teammates. I don't want him to get hurt, but I don't want my teammates getting hurt, either, especially if I… if we can do better. And Weezing says he'll go with whatever I decide."
"…I see," Brock said. "It sounds to me like Weezing doesn't want to see you get hurt, too."
"Well, haven't you been tempted to teach your Geodude Explosion to protect the younger twerps?" James challenged.
"I think about ways to keep them safe all the time," Brock agreed. "And while teaching a powerful move like that to a Pokémon can be tempting… Well, to put it bluntly, brute strength can only do so much. Using strategy is much more important; it's what I've been trying to teach Ash all this time—think outside the box and use your smarts as well as your strengths. That was how I coached him for his rematch with Lt. Surge."
"…Yeah, I remember…"
"Look, I can't really tell you what to do," Brock said. "And while you guys do cause us trouble, one thing I do know is that you and Jessie both care about your Pokémon, which is more than I can say about some people. This is something you and Weezing need to work out, but I'm sure you will, one way or another." He handed him the bowl of soup. "Drink that and get some more rest. Ash, Misty, and I will be leaving in the morning, so you'll have the cabin to yourselves. We'll leave you some food, though."
"Thanks," James said.
After he left, Jessie and Meowth returned with their dinner and spent some more time looking after James.
As promised, Ash, Misty, and Brock had left provisions behind before they continued onward, allowing Team Rocket to spend another day there in comfort to allow James to recover. He was feeling much better after an additional day of rest, and Jessie had been able to repair the balloon, so they were preparing to leave the following day.
James still hadn't decided what he was going to do about the TM that Petrel had given him; Brock's advice had made more sense than Petrel's, though; Petrel, like most of the other members of Team Rocket, saw Pokémon as a means to an end, while Brock and his companions saw them as friends, and that was how James saw Weezing.
"James!" Jessie suddenly exclaimed.
Meowth yelled in a panic as the same Golbat from two days ago emerged from the morning fog.
"Oh, not again!" Jessie exclaimed. "Why is it after us!?"
"And we don't even have Pikachu's Thunderbolt to help us again!" Meowth cried.
"Then… We've got to use strategy," James said. "Weezing, go!"
Jessie bit her lip, but released Arbok, as well.
Golbat now moved to use Wing Attack on Weezing again, but James had expected it.
"Weezing, you can use that fog as a cover, too—and use your Smokescreen as even more cover!"
Golbat looked frustrated as Weezing now used the tactic against him; Golbat responded by using Supersonic to try to echolocate Weezing.
"Keep moving, Weezing!" James said. "Don't stop for anything!"
Golbat was getting more and more frustrated; even as it tried to use his wings to blow the smoke away, Weezing continue to release more smoke.
"Now's our chance; Arbok, you're on!" Jessie ordered. "Glare!"
Distracted by trying to find Weezing, Golbat had been unprepared this time for Arbok's Glare, which froze him in his tracks.
"Follow up with Bite, Arbok!"
Weezing's Tackle launched Golbat right into Arbock's jaws; Arbok clamped down on Golbat's wing and shook him vigorously before flinging him towards Meowth.
"And now I'll finish it wit' Fury Swipes!" Meowth exclaimed, triumphantly slashing at the bat.
Golbat screeched, and after seeing Arbok, Weezing, and Meowth ready to attack again, retreated once more.
"Yeah, you better run!" Meowth yelled after him. "Ha-ha! How about that, youse guys!? We did it!"
"We did…!" James said, amazed.
"And you didn't need Explosion, after all!" Jessie said, smiling.
"…You're right… we didn't! Weezing, we didn't need Explosion to win!" He happily hugged Weezing.
None of them noticed Proton quietly recalling Golbat into a Pokéball and walking away. He had better things to do than waste time with these idiots, he decided.
And as the balloon lifted off, James drew out the TM once more.
"Well, since we've proven that we don't need it, I wonder… what can we do with it?" he mused.
"Hey, TMs run for a pretty penny, ya know!" Meowth said. "I bet if we sold that thing, we could get enough dough to get us some good grub for at least a week!"
"High-end gourmet meals?" Jessie asked, her eyes shining.
"Pikachu can wait!" James agreed, gleefully. "Let's eat!"
And so, fueled by a precious moment of triumph, the team found themselves looking forward to what lay in the road ahead.