"You bitch!"

For a moment Misty, who was only just descending from the heights and whose other senses hadn't cleared yet, thought it was Cassidy who was screeching at her. Before she could gather the breath to ask what she had done wrong, she felt the older girl being wrenched off her.

Perhaps Misty should have been alerted that she had mistaken both the speaker and the target, but she was somewhat distracted by Cassidy's… accessory… leaving her body at a rather unfortunate angle. "Owww!" she shrieked.

"You've hurt her, you slut!" There was the sound of a very hard slap.

Perhaps it was the familiar sound of violence, but Misty suddenly placed the face to the voice. "Jess?" she asked groggily, sitting up and opening her eyes.

Cassidy appeared very much at a disadvantage, both because of what she was and was not wearing, and because she had been interrupted at a rather intense moment. The blow to the head probably wasn't helping, either, or the fact that Jesse had slammed her against a tree. "I think you hurt her just then, actually, Jessica," Cassidy said, but without her usual aggression. She rubbed her forehead, wincing.

Misty looked around, taking in the scene as best she could under the circumstances. Jesse was… Jesse was literally shaking with rage. Misty, despite her disappointment and confusion, filed that knowledge away somewhere in her heart. James was – oh, goddess, James was there too. Looking as if he didn't have a clue was what going on, but then, that wasn't all that unusual for James.

Fortunately, his partner seemed bent on sharing with everyone. "How could you rape a child like that?"

"A child… But Jesse, you… Rape?" screamed Cassidy.

"As if she'd consent to – that! And with you!" Jesse abruptly released her enemy, and dropped down on her knees by Misty, tenderly gathering her into her arms. "How dare you take advantage of a sweet little girl like that?"

"What do you mean, you? I mean, me?" Cassidy gasped with outrage. "And from what I've gathered, Jesse, you and this sweet little girl…"

"Um, Jess, actually I –" Misty began, although she was pressed quite suffocatingly against Jesse's breast. Jesse ignored her.

"I may have, um…" Jesse cast a nervous glance in her partner's direction. His green eyes appeared to look back at her with uncomprehending blankness, but then, he was James… "I may have decided to share some of my experience with her, as an older sister might…"

Misty's eyes filled with sentimental tears. "Jesse, do you really think of me as your little sister?"

She might as well not have spoken. Misty decided to enjoy her position, and let the older women sort this one out. She had done her best. She cuddled happily into Jesse.

"…but I would never… Cassidy, she's only sixteen, for the goddess' sake! If you weren't so domineering, and so uncaring about other people's feelings…" There was bitterness in her voice.

"And you were so innocent at sixteen, weren't you, Jessica?" Cassidy said softly, her voice tense. Suddenly, despite the fact that she was standing in the middle of a crowd wearing nothing but a strap-on, Cassidy looked very dignified.

The gazes of the two Rocket girls locked. The air between them vibrated with tension. Misty had the disconcerting feeling that, no matter how tightly Jesse was clutching her, the water trainer might as well not have been there for all anyone cared about her presence. Jesse's attention was fully on Cassidy, and the blonde stared back wordlessly. Even James' gaze was trained on Jesse, and now there was something in his expression that was not quite bewilderment. Misty felt unexpectedly sorry for him.

There was a long, tense moment. Then Jesse stood, pulling Misty with her.

"James, I'm trusting you to look after Misty," Jesse ordered, pushing the younger girl into his arms. "The bitch and I have some things to… discuss."

The two women turned and walked wordlessly off into the forest. James absently hugged Misty as he watched them go.

"Cassidy's going to be really mad when she discovers she has to walk back for her clothes. We'd be better off not being here," he remarked. He turned his gaze down to Misty, and looked surprisingly concerned. "Misty, she really didn't hurt you, did she?"

"I'm fine." Misty realised she was naked and being embraced, and flushed. Then she took in James' expression, which had returned to wounded mode, and decided to forget embarrassment and hug him back. Guilt flooded over her. She had, never once, factored James in as more than an inconvenience. Perhaps she should have worried about him more.

"James? I'm sorry if Jesse, if I, you know. Are you all right?"

He shrugged. "I'm fine," he echoed. "Jesse is just… my Jesse. And I wouldn't change her. Not really. She's my partner." He reddened himself. "Do you think we should get you dressed?"

Misty reached up to touch the lock of his hair where it fell over his brow. He was so pretty, really he was. It was a pity she couldn't offer to comfort him, even if she suspected she wasn't really his type. But, after all, no matter how hot he looked in a dress, he was still at least nominally male.

"Sure." She pushed away and picked up her shorts.

James watched her a moment, then said, "I have to go meet Meowth. That's where Jesse and I were going, but as she seems to have forgotten, I'll have to do it myself. But I don't want to leave you alone."

"That's OK."

"No, it's not. Jesse asked me to look after you. And I find it's safest to do as she says." His brow cleared. "Fortunately, I can hand you over to another guardian."

James turned slightly. "You can come out of the bushes now," he called.

"Tracy!" Misty shrieked, clasping her shirt to her chest.

Tracy blushed, clutching his notepad to his own chest. "I was just…"

"Pokémon watching?" Misty and James chorused, then grinned at each other, rivalry dissolved in a rare burst of camaraderie.

"I'm going to kill you, Tracy," said Misty, but her heart wasn't in the threat. The day had been too confusing. And tiring… Suddenly, she just wanted to curl up in her sleeping bag. "Thanks, James," she said softly.

"No problem." He kissed her cheek, abruptly, in what felt like a gesture of peacemaking, and turned back to Tracy. "I'll deal with you later," he threatened.

To Misty's surprise, Tracy flushed more deeply, watching James' arse as he walked off. She finished pulling on her clothes, called back her pokémon, and scooped Togepi into her backpack. Yeah, chirrup at me, you little blighter. You're the one who got me into all this.

"Let's go back," Tracy said, reaching for her hand. "All's well that ends well, eh?"

"Depends how you define 'well,'" she snapped, trying not to listen to some very feminine noises from the distance. And trying even harder not be jealous, although at this point she wasn't sure exactly who to focus her jealousy on. "If you want it to end well for you, you're going to let me go through your sketchpad tonight and take out anything that seems to be my property, you understand?" She didn't release his hand, though.

"Yes, Misty. Um, Misty?" Tracy asked, as they headed back to the campsite.


"Remind me to have a talk with you some day soon. I have some important questions about your relationship with your older sisters."

The End