This is a spin-off from ideas by Lady Shadowcat, who wanted to write an AU fic where Jessie was a brothel girl in the Old West, and was also looking for fics about Dark Pokemon. With permission, I changed the setting to Regency England and wrote it. (Thanks, Lady Shadowcat). As you will see there are many differences from the Pokemon world as it works in the anime, for example there are no Pokeballs. Characters retain their English names and I hope they are at least recognizable. Warning: rated for mature thematic elements such as prositution.

Disclaimer: Pokemon is owned by Nintendo and many other people, not by me. No copyright infringement intended or implied.

Briah

Part 1

James

I'm starting to regret joining up with Butch and Giovanni. At the time, it seemed like a lark, a way to escape my family and their pathetic decayed nobility. A little gambling, a little genteel thievery, and I could afford nice clothes and enjoy myself while I looked for a more respectable way to make a living.

But Giovanni and Butch have a ruthlessness I don't understand. I don't think it's because they're foreigners. everyone in Italy can't be like Giovanni and everyone in the former colonies can't be like Butch. And there are all too many people here in London with the same dark minds.

They know I have my limits; I'm not going to do whatever it takes, hurt whomever it takes to get pokemon or money. And they laugh at that.

That's not all that bothers me. The other night they took me to a bawdy house. I admit, I went along willingly, and it wasn't the first time. But when I got there I saw a girl who couldn't have been more than fourteen, and she looked like she'd been beaten. I lost my temper completely, and I called my Growlithe in from the carriage to attack the man with her.

Butch and Giovanni made me stop. They both admitted to me later that they thought it was sad themselves, but said, "That's the way of the world, it can't be helped. Gentry visit that place all the time, don't pretend you're above it."

They think I'm stupid because I don't plot and plan the way they do. But all the same, sometimes I believe I'm the one who really thinks.

Umbreon

I was running from two men today, a slim man with green hair and a man with angry eyes. They kept throwing rocks at me, just as people have ever since the night I woke with my form changed. I tried to run but a rock hit my leg and cut it. I fell.

I heard voices then.

"Giovanni, what on earth is going on?"

"We're just chasing off an Umbreon."

"Why?"

"They're bad luck, don't you know that?"

"But it's only an Eevee!"

"Nobody should let their Eevee evolve that way."

The green-haired man had caught up with me then, and was staring down at me. Then I felt arms picking me up.

"What in hell are you doing, James?" asked the first man.

The man that was holding me replied, "I can't believe you'd hurt a Pokemon this way, Butch. You're an intelligent man!"

"Look, I wasn't going to kill it. I didn't even mean to hit it."

"Well, I'm keeping it until it gets well."

The man with dark hair and angry eyes came up then. "Keep it then, but don't let it near any of ours."

The green haired man was still glaring at me. The man holding me said, "We're bad luck too. just leave me alone."

And he carried me back into a building.

Finally he I turned and looked into his eyes. He had deep green eyes and blue hair, and he seemed gentler than the other two. I didn't believe he would hurt me.

He put me down on the floor.

"Well girl, what shall we call you?"

"Briah," I said. It didn't mean anything, only that I was afraid, but it could be a name.

He nodded. "Briah, that's lovely. I hope you'll get along with my Growlithe; you can share his doghouse nights. I don't think Pokemon are stupid enough to be suspicious of each other."

I had an owner.

Jessie

I looked in the mirror. My jaw was still swollen, and my eye was black. Madame, as we call her, came up behind me.

"Look, Jessie, you shouldn't have spoken to him that way. I wouldn't like to throw you out onto the street but I will if I have to."

"I thought you were here to protect me! And he was supposed to go with Violet, not be bothering me. You didn't even send Scyther after him."

She shrugged. "You haven't been here long. you'll find it gets easier as time goes on."

I had only been here a month since being abandoned by a man who had promised to marry me. I was left alone in the city and I had to become a whore, or starve. I didn't want it to get easier.

Madame looked critically at me. "No man will want you with your face like that tonight. Go on over to Cass at the inn and get me something to eat."

I went. I couldn't afford not to follow Madame's orders.

Part 2

James

Butch knocked on my door and asked me to come meet his "lady", Cassandra. Briah jumped onto my shoulder and seemed willing to go. Butch gave both of us a dirty look and said that his Raticate wouldn't like accompanying my new pokemon. I guess I was wrong that only people would have such attitudes. Fortunately Growlithe had shared his doghouse without objections.

I got further dirty looks when I entered the shabby inn Butch took me to. Evidently I wasn't going to be popular with an Umbreon on my shoulder. I wasn't sure I cared anymore.

"There!" said Butch.

Behind the counter was a serving maid, with striking green eyes and blonde hair. She did look unusually shrewd and aware, and I could see what Butch saw in her.

As we approached the counter a woman with red hair and a bruised face approached as well.

"Cass, I need to get something to eat for Madame," she said.

"One of the men got to you again, did they Jessie?" sneered Cass in reply.

I was starting already to dislike Butch's lady, which didn't surprise me. The redhead named Jessie intrigued me, however. Despite her evident profession she carried herself with a certain dignity. I tried to look at her more closely without being obvious but when she saw Briah she backed away from me as far as she could.

"Look, Cass, don't trouble yourself to insult me. Just give me what I need and I'll leave."

Cass winked at Butch and ordered someone to bring a meat pie.

That was when a man leading an Arcanine came and grabbed Jessie by the shoulder.

"Well, here you are!" he yelled. "And without that Scyther to protect you."

He tried to turn Jessie to face him but she struck out at him and tried to run out the door. The Arcanine blocked her path, growling.

I hadn't brought Growlithe with me, and surely Umbreon couldn't fight.

"Butch, send out Raticate!" I yelled.

"Don't bother," said Cassandra. "She ain't worth it. And that customer of hers looks to be somebody rich."

The Arcanine ran forward and knocked Jessie over. Then Briah jumped off my shoulder.

Briah

I don't know why I decided to fight. My leg still hurt. But I liked the woman with the red hair. She was afraid of me just like everyone, but she had eyes like mine.

The Arcanine breathed fire at me, but I ducked.

I could hear its owner yelling, "An Umbreon! That's not right! Send for the law!"

I jumped for the Arcanine and bit it on the leg. It threw me off and ran for Jessie again. James was helping her up from the floor and they both stared at the Arcanine in fear. I jumped for its neck then, and this time I hung on. Finally the Arcanine slumped into unconsciousness.

The Arcanine's owner was still screaming about evil Umbreons and calling for the law. James was trying to help Jessie to her feet. She looked almost as frightened of him and she had been of me or of her pursuer.

That was when a servant came in with two constables. After more arguing, they led James away. I ran after him.

The constables glared at me.

"Please," began James.

One of them shrugged. "We're leading you right to the jail. You might as well bring your Pokemon."

James

I couldn't believe I was being thrown into prison for a fight, when I had never been caught stealing Pokemon. And I kept thinking of the woman, Jessie. Would he hurt her now? And would anyone care?

They put me into a cell with two other men.

"They're just in jail for being drunk in the street," said the constable. "They won't be bothering you, especially with that Umbreon on your shoulder."

When we entered the cell, something stirred in the corner. Looking more closely, I saw that it was a dirty, ragged-looking Meowth.

It looked up at Briah.

To my shock, it opened its mouth and spoke in English. "Oh, lovely, look what I get to share my cell with."

Briah

Was this Meowth going to make fun of me too? I stared sadly at him. James was staring too.

"I suppose a talking freak Meowth who lives in a jail cell can't be too careful who he chooses for friends," replied James eventually.

"I don't live here! They threw me in here when they caught me stealing, but they can't send a pokemon to prison. They just don't want to let me out until a human comes to get me."

The Meowth eyed James. "You know. you could take me out when you go, if you want. Rich guy like you can't be headed for prison."

"I don't know where I'm going, and I don't know what I'd want with you when I get there."

"You carry around an Umbreon but you don't like a Meowth, figures."

I started talking then, even though I knew James wouldn't understand me.

"What's wrong with me?"

"You're an Eevee gone evil, everybody knows that!" replied the Meowth. He still spoke in human language.

"I've never done anything evil! Do you know one like me who has?"

"Everybody knows Umbreons are evil," replied the Meowth.

"Everybody knows Pokemon can't talk," snapped James. "Go sleep over there with the drunks if you don't like us."

I was curious then. "How do you talk, anyway?"

"I taught myself to talk. I was trying to impress... somebody. It didn't work."

"What did your owner think?" asked James.

"I don't remember much about owners. When I was a baby my mother and I lived with a family but they were poor, and eventually the landlord threw us all out. After that I ran off and became a street Meowth."

"Nobody cared that you had no home?" James asked.

"Nobody cares if people have no home, rich boy."

"I'm not rich, I'm just well-dressed," replied James.

"So even a Meowth can go through hard times?" I asked.

"Yes," said the Meowth simply. Finally he looked me in the eye. "Even a Meowth."

Meowth told us a lot of stories that night. About what real poverty is like, about the female he had tried to impress with speech. James told him how he had ended up in jail. And I tried to tell the Meowth what it's like to be an Umbreon, to be hated. I don't think he really understood, but he stopped looking at me with such suspicion.

James

Giovanni and Butch came in the morning to get me out. People had been bribed; there would be no more trouble.

"You've got to stop this Don Quixote act, James," said Giovanni. "We're criminals, not heroes."

I turned to the Meowth. "Are you coming with me?" I asked. I don't know why I did it. But he just nodded and followed me.

"Another new Pokemon?" asked Butch. "Just as well, we had to sell your Growlithe to pay the bribes."

I was stunned. That Growlithe was mine from childhood, I'd rather have gone to prison than see him sold. But there was no point in telling them that.

"What happened to Jessie?"

Neither of them knew; Butch said we would stop on the way to ask Cass but he was only humoring me.

"Jessie is that woman you got in trouble over?" asked Meowth.

Butch and Giovanni stared. Finally Butch started laughing.

"It talks! The mangy thing talks! You are just never going to find a normal Pokemon, are you?"

"I suppose not," I replied.

Cass informed us that the Arcanine's owner had been too busy dealing with the law to bother Jessie more that night. She was back at Madame's, waiting for her face to heal so she could resume work. Cass seemed to find the whole situation funny.

"I'd never end up like she has, I can tell you that!"

I just nodded and headed for Madame's with Meowth and the Umbreon.

I knocked until I woke a servant. She refused to let me in at first. Then the Umbreon began making a strange snarling noise. The servant backed away nervously and pointed out Jessie's room to me.

I knocked on the door. Jessie opened it. She looked pale and strained, and her face was still bruised. But she still had the dignity I had noticed the night before.

"I'm not working right now," she muttered.

"I'm not here for that," I replied. "I'm here to see how you are."

"Why?"

"Don't you remember me?" I asked. I had spoken to her, introduced myself, before the police had come."

"Yes, I do. I'm getting better I suppose. Madame's angry over the fight though, I think she wishes I'd find some other place to go."

"I can arrange that," I said.

She looked at me cynically. "I guess that would be better than here."

Then I realized what she thought I meant.

"I don't want to purchase you," I said. "I just want to help you, give you somewhere to stay for a while so that man won't be after you."

"Why?"

"Because you have eyes like my Umbreon. Because you don't belong here."

"Every girl here has a sad story, I can assure you," she said. "Don't bother thinking I'm better than the rest of them."

"Maybe none of them belong here," I said. "But please let me help you, at least for a while."

Jessie

At the time, all I could think was that my life could hardly get any worse. He had hired a carriage and we went into it.

"I suppose I'll have to get used to an Umbreon," I murmured.

"And I suppose we'll have to get used to you too," said the Meowth in the carriage.

I stared at it for a moment. "It talks," I muttered.

"Yes, you are joining a rather interesting group here." said James.

I began to look at him. He seemed so kind and gentle. What was going to happen when he realized that he couldn't make me over into whatever he was dreaming of?

"James, you have to understand something. I'm... you know what I am."

I took a deep breath and continued my story.

"A few months ago a man named came to my house and started courting me, or so I thought. I'd been alone with my father since my mother ran off when I was a baby. He seemed so nice, and he seemed to love me so much. He said we should go to London and get married and it didn't occur to me to worry that it wouldn't happen, or that I shouldn't take the chance of living with him before it did. And he left me here, with nothing."

"Cruelty," murmured James.

"It happens all the time," I said. I think he is probably married to someone else."

I continued, "I had no food, nowhere to stay. and I went to Madame's house. Do you understand? I knew what it was; I knew what I would have to become there. Dying of hunger would have been better but I didn't do that."

He just looked at me with his sad green eyes.

"Jessie, I'm a pokemon thief and a gambler who cheats if he has too. I don't even do those things to survive; I do them because it's better than living with my family."

"Were they cruel to you?" I asked.

"They were sometimes. Mostly they were just decadent and a little insane. They're distantly related to nobility and they never quite realized that they still shouldn't let the house fall apart around them rather than work. Their big solution was that I should marry my distant cousin who belonged in Bedlam. Really, she was mad. and they didn't care. But I could have done something else; I could have turned to one of the saner branches of the family for help, but I didn't do that. So how can I judge you?"

I couldn't say anything more. He was determined to care about me. Perhaps I would just go along with it while it lasted.

Briah, Part 4

James

At first I couldn't find an inn that would accept an unescorted lady, except places little better than Madame's. Finally I bribed an innkeeper and promised him that Jessie would receive no male visitors, including myself.

I came to visit her every day, but I had to send Meowth up to announce me and we would then walk through the park. I didn't mind; I wanted her to trust me.

We talked about our childhoods, about London, about our disappointments. I suppose we would have talked about our hopes and dreams if we had had any. I was still as impressed with Jessie as I had been when I first saw her, and I was glad we were becoming closer.

One day while we were walking Jessie began speaking about her childhood. She looked so wistful and beautiful that I kissed her.

She just looked at me impassively, neither happy nor unhappy.

"I'm sorry," I said finally.

Jessie just shrugged. "Well, it's not like I didn't expect it, you'd hardly spend all this money on me for nothing."

"That's not how I feel at all! I care about you. I was hoping you could care about me."

She didn't answer. I put my hand on her shoulder.

"Honestly, Jessie, I don't want you to do anything unwillingly."

She sighed. "James, you really don't understand. I'm grateful to you, but I can't give you anything I didn't give the customers at Madame's. If that's what you're after I'd be stupid to refuse you, it would only put me back in that life. But as for feelings, that's just not there for me anymore."

"You don't have to worry about refusing me anything, Jessie. I promise," I said. "I just hope you will feel differently someday, even if it isn't for me."

She shook her head, and I dropped my hand and changed the subject.

I really meant what I said, and even if Jessie could never love me I knew I could never abandon her.

I had been gambling for money to give to her; Giovanni put up the stakes and I gave him some of my winnings. I cheated when I had to, but usually I'd been able to rely on cultivating a look of stupidity while paying attention to details.

But I wasn't going to be able to get out of Giovanni's pokemon stealing expeditions, so this night I set off with them to a country house with a barn full of Eevees.

Briah

I felt strange being taken along to steal pokemon. I wanted James to take Meowth instead. But Butch and Giovanni trusted a talking pokemon even less than they trusted me.

Butch brought his Raticate and Giovanni his Persian. Another pokemon, a Drowsy, had been acquired for this mission, and Cassandra was to go along to control it.

It took hours to travel to the house. We had to take two carriages. Giovanni assured James that the house was very isolated and the owners had gone away. James was more concerned about the fate of the Eevees. But Giovanni stated that his compatriots were only going to sell them to pokemon trainers just as these people would have.

A few servants occupied the house, but only an aging Flareon guarded the building where the Eevees were kept. The servants didn't even notice us sneaking in. We had brought cages for the Eevees, and the Drowsy. I had never seen a Drowsy before; they were quite rare and usually illegal to keep. That was because they made schemes like this so easy.

First Cassandra used the Drowsy to put as many Pokemon as possible to sleep. It seemed to work on almost all the Eevees but the Flareon was barely affected.

I was sure I could beat the Flareon in battle, but I was happy to see Butch send out Raticate instead. I was grateful to James for saving my life, but I wasn't sure I was grateful enough to help him steal pokemon.

The Raticate avoided the Flareon's flames easily. I expected the usual end to a pokemon battle. I was shocked to see the Raticate slash at the Flareon's neck with its teeth, deliberately killing it.

Evidently James was shocked too.

"Your pokemon can kill?" he asked Butch.

"Sure, they all can if you train them to. Doesn't yours? I'd think it would come naturally to an Umbreon."

I was crying, looking at the body of the Flareon. I had never seen a pokemon kill another in battle.

"Couldn't we have just left it unconscious?" asked James.

Butch shrugged. "Forget about it. Just come help me load these Eevees in the cages."

The Eevees were mostly asleep. In any case, they were all very young and didn't seem to care what was happening to them.

James's hands were shaking as he loaded them in the cages. I stared at them silently. I was hoping none of the would become an Umbreon like me, and hoping even more that none would become like Raticate.

Briah, Part 5

James

The next night I had to go out on another stealing expedition with them. Cassandra came along again also.

"You've become quite the member of our little band," I said to her.

"Butch is going to marry me," she replied. "I'm not like your Jessie."

She smiled cruelly when she said it, but she was right.

This job was closer to London; it involved stealing two Rapidash from a stable. We needed to take two carriages again and hitch one Rapidash next to each Ponyta for the ride home.

When we got there, there were two stable boys guarding the Rapidash.

"Will that Drowsy put people to sleep?" asked Butch.

Giovanni shrugged and Cassandra took the Drowsy as close as she could without being seen. It took longer than it had with pokemon but it did work. Soon we were inside the stables ready to lead the Rapidash out.

Then one of the stable boys started to stir.

I saw Butch hand Cassidy a pistol and I knew what was about to happen. I ran up behind her and hit the stable boy in the head with my own pistol. He fell to the ground, unconscious but alive.

"They'd have heard a shot in the house," I said to Cassandra.

"I doubt it," she replied. "Safer to finish him off."

"He didn't see anything, just leave it," I said.

Butch turned around. "Look, Cass, don't bother arguing with James, just come here and help."

She gave me a mocking look and turned away. I knew then that I couldn't continue this life anymore.

The next morning I packed all my goods and put them in the carriage I had used to run away from home. The Ponyta I had used to lead it was still there too. I took Briah and Meowth to Jessie's inn.

I got to the door and sent Meowth up to look for Jessie, telling him it was urgent.

The innkeeper began to speak with me.

"Look, I have to tell you something. I didn't trust that woman when you brought her here. But you were right; there haven't been any men here except you. She came down get a meal once, and one of the guests made a remark to her. She practically threw a chair at him, and I've been letting wife bring her food in her room ever since."

"Thank you," I replied. "I think she may be leaving today. and I appreciate your kindness."

Jessie

When James came to get me that day I knew something was wrong. He made Meowth and Briah wait in the carriage.

"I can't stay here in London anymore," were his first words. "I left Giovanni a note and took everything that belonged to me. I don't know if he'll be angry or not but I'm going."

He told me about Raticate killing a Flareon, and Cassandra almost shooting a man.

"You understand why I can't keep doing this, don't you?"

I nodded. I really did understand. James could never deal with that kind of insensibility to violence. I didn't know if I could either. I had been through the worst things that I thought could happen but the idea of killing still turned my stomach. And I wasn't sure what I was going to do now, either. Going back to my old life would be despicable; doing anything else would be impossible.

"Where are you going to go?" I asked.

"My cousin has a farm in Ireland. Food mostly, a few grass pokemon. He always said he would welcome me if I chose to join in with him. At the time it sounded too boring. I feel very foolish for thinking that way now."

"Well, I appreciate all the help you've given me," I said finally.

He looked a little confused. "Jessie, you don't understand. I want you to go with me."

"Go with you? I can't do that. At least in London I know where I can go, I couldn't handle myself in Ireland."

"Jessie, you won't be alone, you'll be with me."

"For a while I will, but then... who knows?"

"I'm not like that man who abandoned you here!" he said angrily.

"I know," I said calmly. And it was true. "But I can't take chances."

"How about this," he said. "We'll get married. Then I'll be legally required to take care of you."

I was so shocked I couldn't speak.

"We wouldn't have to have a real marriage right away," he continued. "We could wait as long as you want."

"I don't know if I'll ever really..."

"Don't think about it now," he interrupted. "We'll work it out somehow. I just can't stand to leave you here."

Did this mean I would someday have to pretend to love him? I didn't know, and I felt guilty at the idea. But finally I nodded.

He smiled. We were married by special license the next day, on the way to Ireland.

Author's note: "The Continent" is a term for Europe. I hope.

Briah, Part 6

James

My cousin in Ireland seemed happy to see me, and asked few questions about my mysterious new wife. He was a bit more suspicious of an Umbreon and a talking Meowth, but agreed to let me help supervise the farm if I would keep them out of his way.

We were given a cottage on the grounds and lived there for about a month. Jessie showed no signs of wanting a real marriage, but after a while she did seem to relax. She spoke more about her family, and sometimes she would cry. On those occasions she might permit to hold her, and I had to be content with that.

She couldn't quite bring herself to hold long conversations with Meowth, and she preferred that Briah stay in another room. But we were all happier than we had been, for a while.

Then there was the day that Giovanni, Butch, and Cass came for a visit.

I was out walking alone near the road. We didn't have many friends so I was nervous when I saw the carriage pull up. Seeing them climb out, followed by Raticate and Persian, only confirmed my fears.

"James," called out Giovanni. "You left us, and you didn't even leave a note!"

"I didn't take anything that didn't belong to me," I said as calmly as I could.

"So Jessie belongs to you then?" asked Butch with a smirk.

"Jessie is my wife," I replied.

Cass laughed. "Some wife! Let's all go visit her, shall we?"

The three of them moved toward the cottage and I didn't feel I could do anything but follow.

Jessie came out of the house as she heard them approach. She looked pale, almost ill, when she saw them. Meowth and Umbreon were behind her.

Cass gave her another nasty smile. "You've done well for yourself! A handsome husband, a nice little menagerie of bizarre pokemon. Of course, my Butch didn't have to marry a whore."

"Shut your mouth!" shouted Jessie. "It's none of your concern. Why are you here, anyway?"

Giovanni laughed. "Perhaps we just wanted to see how you are doing. Perhaps we were wondering if there is anything here worth stealing."

Butch spoke then. "We're on our way to the Continent now that the war is over. Maybe James is tired of farming, or of his so-called `wife' and would like to throw his lot in with us again. He was a good gambler, James was, even if he didn't really have the stomach for crime."

"That's all over for me, Butch."

"I really did want to make sure you hadn't created a rival gang," said Giovanni.

"Well, as you can see, I haven't. This a real farm, Jessie is my real wife, and I don't know why you're still here."

"We might as well go then," said Cass. "Nothing here worth stealing, unless you like turnips or Oddishes."

Then Butch's Raticate jumped out and ran for Briah.

Briah

I knew the Raticate had always wanted to kill me. I couldn't believe I would be faced with it again.

It jumped on me, scratching and biting. I should have been strong enough to throw it off, but I couldn't.

"Stupid, evil thing," it yelled at me.

I bit it, but not hard enough. It kept fighting.

Finally I lay on the ground, close to unconsciousness, and I heard Butch shout, "Kill it, Raticate!"

I saw its fangs coming for my neck. Then the Raticate turned aside. Meowth was scratching at it and yelling at me to run. I got up but I couldn't move, my wounds were too serious.

Then I felt Jessie pick me up and run with me.

Jessie

I'm afraid of an Umbreon like anyone else. But when I saw what the Raticate had done to it I couldn't go on. I ran toward the river with it, hoping I could help it somehow. I was afraid if went in the house James' old gang would trap me there.

I sat with the Umbreon on my lap, washing its wounds. I could see James and the gang through the trees in the distance. I watched as Butch, Giovanni, and Cass got in the carriage and left. I turned my full attention to the Umbreon then.

I had never seen it so closely before. I found that its black fur was actually beautiful, and the look on its face was helpless, not cruel.

I began to try to reassure it that it was going to be all right. It replied to me in its own language.

Meowth came up behind me then. He held out some strips of cloth for bandages.

"Thank you," I said.

"It may be an Umbreon, but I didn't want to see it get hurt," he replied.

I nodded. "Can you understand what it's saying?" I asked.

"It's saying maybe it really is evil, since this is happening to it."

I felt myself starting to cry.

"You aren't evil, Briah," I said.

"It's surprised you know its name," said Meowth.

I began to bandage the wounds.

"Why shouldn't I know it? James is very fond of her. He saved her life just like he saved mine."

"And you're as afraid of her as you are of yourself," replied Meowth.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked.

"I may be a pokemon but I know things. You worry to much about your own past."

"Shut up!" I snapped at him. "Now help me with these bandages."

He did.

Briah looked a bit stronger when we were finished. I could tell the pokemon would live. But I didn't want to put her down somehow. I just sat there, stroking her, wondering if I could ever change my mind about myself as I had about her.

Finally I got up and washed my own hands in the river. I sat there for a moment, staring at my reflection. Then I saw James walk up behind me.

"I saw Briah and Meowth," he said. "Thank you."

"They're gone now," he continued. "I don't think they'll be back."

"No," I said bitterly. "I'm sure Cass isn't going to bother to travel here from the Continent to call me a whore."

I felt James put his hand on my shoulder.

"You know, every time I see Cass all I can think of is when I saw her ready to kill a man. But when I see you, I only think..."

He stopped.

I felt myself tremble a little. "You think what?" I asked.

"That I love you," he replied. "I'm sorry, I know that isn't welcome. But it's true."

I looked in his eyes then, and I knew that what I felt for him wasn't only gratitude.

"I love you too," I said finally. I began to cry again. "I thought someday I might have to pretend, but somehow I just started. You deserve better than someone like me, I suppose."

"Shhh." he said, holding me and stroking my back gently.

"It's going to take some getting used to, trying to be a whole woman again," I said.

"I know," he said. "And you know I'm very patient."

I nodded.

"May I kiss you?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

And in the kiss I felt no memories of brutality or of self-hatred, only love.

Epilogue

Briah

It has been two years since I woke with a new form and learned the world hated it. And somehow I have managed to find a few people and pokemon who love me. My owner, who saved my life, and his wife who saved it a second time, despite her fears.

We never saw the Raticate and its owners again. I have heard that war broke out again after all and perhaps they were caught up in it; no one knows.

But I am content with my family here. For a brother I have a Meowth, who fights mock battles with me and chases me through the Oddishes.

For a sister I have a human child with red hair and bright green eyes, who crawls on the floor and pulls at my ears.

I am probably the only Umbreon who is thus privileged to play with a human child. The hatred of my kind will not disappear soon. But I know now that I am not evil. People who teach pokemon to kill are evil. A world that can drive a woman to sell herself and then condemn her for it is evil. And so is a world where I could be chased off and killed for being a night creature.

Perhaps someday I too will find a mate and give birth to my own Eevees. And I can teach them what I have learned, that it can be glorious and beautiful to an Umbreon.