- WITH THIS RING - by Mark (zoominonmark@aol.com)

**Disclaimer: The characters depicted in this story do not belong to me. I do not own Pokémon, yadda yadda yadda, you know the drill. Don't sue me!**

"Let me hear, Jessie!" With some difficulty, James managed to squeeze into the tiny phone booth where Jessie stood, glaring and holding the receiver up to her ear.

She stomped hard on his foot with her heeled boot. "I'm talking," she hissed as quietly as she could manage. Then she said into the phone, "Yes, sir. Uh-huh. Yes."

James' eyes glistened. "What? What? What's he saying?" He tugged anxiously at the phone cord. "Jessie!"

"SHUT UP!!" She kicked him in the ankle and sent him flying against the side of the booth. She listened intently to the voice on the phone, her eyes suddenly wide with horror. "Oh! Oh, nonononono, not you, boss! James! I was talking to James!" She fixed her partner with The Look.

"Owww ..." James rubbed his ankle carefully.

"Yes, sir," Jessie continued into the phone. "The Newlywed Ball. Nine. Got it. Yes, sir, but why are you laughing? No, I didn't mean to question your brilliance, sir, I'm terribly sorry. Oh thank you so much, Boss! We'll make you proud this time. Thank you, thank you!! Oh, thank ..." She stopped speaking ubruptly and held the phone away from her ear. "He hung up." Shrugging, she placed the receiver back on the hook.

There followed a five-minute struggle between Jessie and James to get out of the booth. They finally ended up in a heap on the ground.

Jessie stood up and brushed off her uniform arrogantly. "Well, that was unnecessary."

James followed suit. Once his lavender hair was free of grass and dirt, he turned to Jessie with an anxious expression on his face. "What did the Boss say?"

"He said to forget Pikachu for now. We have a much more important mission, and we can't fail this time." She grinned as evilly as she could manage.

"Oooh!" James squealed. "Tell me all about it!"

"There's this dance called the Newlywed Ball at the Cerulean City Hall tonight at nine. Apparently it's being sponsored by some rich guy, because he just got married or something. Anyway, the important thing is that he's going to display all his rare and precious Pokémon at the ball, with almost NO security!"
"Newlywed Ball?" James scratched his neck thoughtfully. "I've never heard of it, though I did go to a lot of balls when I was a kid. My parents used to drag me a long and make me dance with ..." His face twisted into a tortured grimace. "_Jezebel._"

"That's nice. Now, look around for a flyer. The Boss said they're posted all over the place from here to Pallet Town."

James peered curiously at the phone booth. He reached out an arm and plucked a small, white piece of paper off the side. "Is this what we're looking for, Jess?"

She snatched it out of his hand and studied it. "Hmm," she muttered. "Stefan M. Madison and his lovely wife Tiffany cordially invite all newlywed couples to join them for dinner and dancing ... Please present your marriage certificate at the door." Jessie's face paled a few shades. "James, do you realize what this means?"

James' eyes were filled with stars. "Yes," he breathed. "There's gonna be food!"

Jessie smacked him with a conveniently-placed mallet. "No, you moron! It means that we have to get married!!"

The boy's stars were exstinguished immediately. "Ma-married?" he squeaked.

Jessie nodded slowly. She loosened her grip on the flyer and let the paper float to the ground. She groaned. "We can't do it," she said. "We're gonna have to tell the Boss we resign. At least he can't fire us that way."

"But Jessie," wailed James, "how can we quit now? What will we do?"

"What choice do we have? It's either marry or leave Team Rocket." Her eyes filled with tears. "I never thought it would come to this!"

Her partner let out a sob in agreement, and there were a few moments of hopeless misery. Then James snapped his fingers and let out a cry of delight.

"Jessie, I've got it!"

"Sure you do, James." Jessie slumped against the phone booth. "I wonder if I could get a job as a model?" she mused.

"No, Jessie, listen!" James grabbed her arm, too excited to worry about the possible consequences of touching Jess without permission. "What if we get a FAKE marriage certificate?"

Jessie perked up. "James, I think that's the first intelligent thing you've ever said to me!"

"Yaaaay!" James hugged her.

"Let's get to it. We don't have much time."

James nodded, and the two set off for the Las Vegas Fake Marriage Certificate Office, determination in their eyes.

"Jessieeeee, this suit is uncomfortable!"

"Shut up! This dress isn't exactly a picnic, either."

The two rockets were standing outside the dance hall. The sound of laughter and music could be heard from inside. The light from the chandeliers streamed out through the windows and played on the faces of the oddly-dressed couple outside.

James was wearing a fashionable black suit which would have looked ravishing on him, had it not been three sizes too big. The sleeves reached far past his fingertips, and the pant legs dragged on the ground. He looked like a little boy who had raided his father's closet.

Jessie's outfit, on the other hand, was too small. She was stuffed into a tight, sequined blue dress. The color accented her eyes beautifully, and the tightness showed off her figure, but she was clearly uncomfortable.

"I wish those people we knocked out had been closer to our sizes," James muttered unhappily.

"Look, it's not my fault the costuming department won't talk to us anymore. YOU'RE the one who broke into their tutu warehouse and tried everything on in front of a full-length mirror, and we can't sit around and wait for someone else to walk by, so let's get moving!" She pressed her fist into James' back and pushed him through the door.

James whined a bit, but he didn't have an argument to match Jessie's, so there was not much he could do. He walked slowly, awkwardly. The waltzing couples and the sound of clinking champagne glasses brought back bad memories of his childhood as a 'poor little rich boy.' The image of Jezebel's smiling face came to mind, and he shuddered involuntarily.

Then he saw the buffet.

"Ooooooh, Jessie!!!" he squealed, letting go of all inhibitions at the sight of his one true love, food.

She smacked him. "Shh! Idiot!"

"Excuse me, could I see your certificate, please?" asked a well-dressed man near the door.

"Foooooood!" sobbed James, clawing at Jessie's arm.

The well-dressed man looked at him oddly, then repeated his request.

"Umm, sure. Hold on." Jessie fished around in her dress until she found the folded piece of paper. She handed it to the man and bit her lip nervously.

The man was silent for a long time, but he finally nodded his head and said, "Go right in."

"Yesss!" Jessie hissed under her breath. She leaned in close to James and whispered, "We're in!"

James did not respond. In fact, he had not seemed to notice the previous scene at all. His eyes were fixed adoringly on the buffet table.

Jessie smacked his head. "We've got to get the pokémon. Look over there."

She pointed to an open display case, where several well-trained pokémon sat calmly. Next to each was a brass nameplate with a description about the rare and unusual creatures displayed. Jessie allowed herself an evil laugh.

"Now, we have to do this stealthily," she said. "Let's dance over to the display and then stuff the pokémon into your suit."

"I'm hungry," James said plainly.

"Will you shut up about the food already?" Jessie growled.

"But, I haven't eaten in days!"

"Just be quiet and dance with me."

Jessie was surprised when James took the lead and began expertly waltzing her around the floor. She found herself struggling to keep up with him.

"I didn't know you could dance," she said.

"My parents forced me to take lessons," he replied grimly.

As their dance lead them toward the food table, James reached out a hand to grab a snack. Jessie smacked him. "Stop that! We're on a mission!"

James let out a high-pitched whine. "You're not being fair, Jessie!"

"Life isn't fair! Now dance me over to that display case before I hurt you!" She purposely took a wrong step and slapped her heel on James' foot.

"YOOOOOWWW!!" he screeched, hopping up and down in pain. A few people turned to look at him. "Jessie," he pleaded hurtfully.

"I mean it!" She scowled, but she did feel a little guilty. She noticed that he was limping now.

They were nearing the display. Jessie's eyes widened. She could almost touch the pokémon! This was it!

Suddenly, James twirled her around and tossed her in the direction of the buffet. He ran to catch her before she crashed into anyone. There were some appreciative claps from onlookers. James grinned, enjoying the attention. He picked a shrimp out of a seafood platter and popped it in his mouth.

Jessie, whose face was bright crimson, smacked him so hard, the shrimp flew out of his lips and landed in the middle of the dance floor. "You moron!" she yelled, a little too loudly. "What do you think you're doing?!"

James' eyes filled with tears. "I'm hungry, Jessie," he said softly.

Jessie growled. "What's new?!" She pushed him and he stumbled back a few steps.

"Why are you always so mean to me?"

"Because you're an idiot, that's why!"

"You can't talk to me like that!"

"Oh no? Watch me!"

"I can't take this anymore, Jessie!"

"What are you gonna do about it? Hit me?!"

"Maybe I will!"

"I'd like to see you try, wimp!"

"I am NOT a wimp! I'm a very masculine MAN!!"

"Would a man wear tutus?"

"Tutus happen to be tres chic, according to InStyle magazine, for your information!!"

The band had stopped playing, and a small crowd had gathered around the bickering Rockets. The host and hostess of the party, the Madisons themselves, had pushed their way to the front of the group and were watching the argument with a mixture of horror and amusement.

"You're too mean to me, Jessie!" James wailed. "I don't think I like being your husband!"

"Don't be so stupid, James! We had a job to do, and we're going to do it!"

"I don't care about our dumb job! I WANT A DIVORCE!!"

There was a collective gasp from the audience.

"A divorce?! This isn't even a legal marriage, Dirt-For-Brains!!"

There was another collective gasp from the audience.

"You're not a good wife, NOR a good Team Rocket member!"

This was too much. Stefan Madison and two security guards marched up to Jessie and James and 'showed them the door.'

In the back alley outside the dance hall, Jessie and James sat slumped against a brick wall. Jessie had taken off her heels and covered herself with James' jacket. Both wore identical expressions of humilation.

"Well, that sucked," Jessie grumbled.

"Yeah," James agreed listlessly.

There were a few minutes of awkward silence.

Finally, James spoke. "I'm sorry I called you a bad wife," he said softly.

Jessie shrugged and played with the heel of her shoe. "No problem," she said.

"Yeah," James said.

"I'm sorry I called you an idiot and slapped you and stomped on your foot," Jessie said.

"That's all right," James said.

"Good," Jessie said.

"I'm sorry I kept trying to eat and wouldn't carry out our mission."

"That's okay. I'm sorry I yell so much."

"No problem. I'm sorry for being so whiny."

"It's fine ... I'm sorry for saying you're a selfish, conceited snob."

"That's ... Hey, wait a minute, you never said that."

"I know, but I was going to."

"Oh." James paused. "Well, that's okay too."

"So are we still friends?" Jessie held out her hand.

"Of course." James shook it. Then he laughed. "But we're not married, okay?"

"Agreed!" Jessie grinned. "Wanna go find something to eat?"

James' eyes lit up. "Yeah! Definitely!"

They stood and walked out of the alley, two sillouhttes in the moonlight.

"Oh," James added. "You forgot to apologize for revealing our secret."

"What? That wasn't me, that was you!"

"No, I'm pretty sure it was you, Jess."

"It was NOT, you liar!"

"OW!! Jess, that hurt!"

"I'm glad, you little imbecile!"


The End