We're In Double Trouble

by D.F.Q.

Chapter I: An Impoifect Boithday

"Aaaaaaaaaaaachoooooooooo!"

The old mountain seemed to quake its igneous bones at the horrendous sneeze that echoed through its internal cavern network. Getting caught in a thunderstorm after weeks of exertion chasing a bunch of stupid human children had swiftly taken its toll on a certain cat-type pokémon.

"Aaaaa-aaaaa-!" Meowth threatened whilst his human colleagues cowered, fingers in their ears.

"Put a sock in it, you damp furball!" Jessie yelled.

"You'll bring the whole mountain down!" her partner snivelled.

The miserable pokémon halted his sneeze, eyes watering. He huddled in a tattered blanket that was nearly wetter than he was. "It ain't my fault I'm sick! If youse two hadn't been slowin' me down da past few days, we'd'a caught dat rotten Pikachu and been high an' dry. I never – ah – ah – asked f' dis!"

Jessie ground her teeth. "Us slowing you down? We're always having to wait for you and your stubby little legs!"

Meowth made a leap to fury-swipe her unblemished face but sneezed mid-flight and hit the ground.

"I don't like it here," James whined, clutching handfuls of his blue hair. "I can hardly see a thing and this place could go on forever!"

Crawling to his feet, the pokémon replied, "At least it ain't rainin' in here."

"We should find a place to rest and figure out what to do in the morning," said Jessie. She wandered on through the rock passages, the others following tentatively, wary that her ridiculously over-starched hair could suddenly jab them in the eyes.

"Maybe we ought to get Meowth to a Pokémon Centre?" James suggested. "He doesn't look very well at all."

"Oh that's a great plan, James!" His Team Rocket partner's sarcasm was swiftly revealed. "Why don't we go and hand ourselves in to the Jennys while we're at it? No. We'll wait for the rain to stop, get out of these caves and go back to HQ. Meowth will just have to hold on."

They trudged on, the caves seeming to get deeper and gloomier. The only light they found was an odd phosphorescence clinging in patches to the walls and squatting rocks.

James shivered. "Brrr! I sure wish I had a fire pokémon right about now."

"Well whose fault is that?"

James looked at his partner, baffled.

"If you hadn't left your Growlithe back at your parents' estate, we'd all be toasting ourselves by a fire by now!" Jessie grumbled. "And we'd see where we were going."

Sulking, he retorted, "Growlie's better off staying there. He's well kept and never has to know what awful things I've done since I left. Besides, he can't light our way, whatever you say. He doesn't glow in the dark, you know!"

"He could be barking out embers all the way if you'd had the stomach to take him."

"Oh yeah? Well I'm glad he stayed. At least he doesn't have to listen to your selfishness twenty-four seven."

"My selfishness? You're the one sapping up all the heat in this cave! I'm freezing!"

"You're saying that's my fault?"

Meowth sighed as he tagged after the squabbling duo. Tail curled tightly around him, whiskers drooping, he drifted in thoughts of self-pity. It's always da same. Every day wid da failures, da ill-conceived plans, da blast-offs, an' den dese two end up fightin' over somet'in woithless. I should be sittin' in da lap of luxury, not achin' my paws in dis horrible dingy cave. What I wouldn' give for a nice hunk o' roast ham an' a hot glass o' milk. I'll bet dose two joiks ain' even remembered it's my boithday. After everyt'in' I've done for dem…" The cat pokémon moped onward, letting the other two thirds of Team Rocket bicker themselves hoarse.

At last they came across a cave with a floor smooth enough to set up camp. The strange luminous substance splattered a cluster of stalagmites on one side, giving the place a natural night-light. Meowth chose to curl up beside the jutting rock formations to get some peace from the still-grumbling humans.

"Jess, how come you get the Super Snuggly-Wuggly sleeping bag and I have to make do with the Light-Sleeper Iron Maiden?"

"Because I need beauty sleep, only provided by the Super Snuggly-Wuggly and it's designed for girls!"

"That's not fair! I want that one! Mine feels like it has tiny spikes inside. I need my beauty sleep too!"

"They're probably just mothballs, now shut up and let me get some sleep!"

"Mothballs!" James shrieked in disgust and proceeded to initiate arm-less combat from the confines of his Light-Sleeper.

When the battle was over and James suitably more bruised, the pair of Rockets fell asleep under the watch of a half-open eye. Meowth listened as Jessie began to snore and James murmured in his sleep about his 'kimono being too tight'. Shaking his head, the shivering pokémon sat up and looked about at the cave. It gave him the creeps despite his superior night vision. The mountain was a long dead volcano situated outside the newly developed Tangerine City and was said to be home to all sorts of cave pokémon, some of which had never been discovered. The feeling of unknown perturbed weakened Meowth but he could not help his natural curiosity stirring.

He noticed a patch of mud just beyond the stalagmites and wondered how the water had got in. Condensation, perhaps, from the life thriving in Mt. Perfidious? Padding over to the patch, he realised there was a veritable lake of the stuff spreading out a few yards away. He poked a paw into the one closest to him. Harmless enough. Alleviating his boredom, the cat-type began to sculpt shapes out of the mud, delighting in how well it remained formed. When at last he grew too tired, he made one last model in the shape of a birthday cake. He located a stray stick and jammed it into the middle to make a candle before sitting cross-legged beside his creation. Pretending the stick was alight, he reverted to feeling dejected.

"I wish," he muttered quietly, "dat Jessie, James an' Meowth could be successful, dat we could catch Pikachu an' live t' see da day when we're in charge of da whole'a Team Rocket." He readied to blow out his imaginary candle but hesitated at the sight of something glowing at the far end of the lake. "Huh?"

A lick of flame popped into view at the top of the stick, startling him. Instinctively he blew out the fire and ran, yelling, back to where Jessie and James lay. Forgetting his cold, Meowth scratched the sleeping bags into tatters in an effort to rouse them.

"Wake-up! Wake-up! Wake-uuuuuuuuuuuuup!"

The human Rockets wailed under the onslaught and leapt out of harm's way.

"What IS it, Meowth?" James blubbed in his shredded 'R' pyjamas.

"Over dere! In da mud! Dere's somet'in dere!"

Jessie yawned and walked closer to where he was pointing. She scowled. "There's nothing there. Your brain must be playing tricks on you. You woke us up for nothing!"

"I swear! I don't loike dis place. We's should get outta here."

"Nonsense, Meowth," James scoffed. "Jessie's right. That cold's making you crazy. Get some sleep and we'll get you cured in the morning."

Meowth growled. "Meowth ain't crazy. I'll show youse guys…" He stomped back to the edge of the lake. "Hey, you out dere. Come out. Don't be shoy! Meowth ain't gonna hurt'cha."

The mud lake was dark and silent as it ever had been. His shoulders sagged and he turned back, expecting to feel ashamed in front of his companions. They had already gone back to bed. Sighing once more, the only talking Meowth in the world curled up with his blanket and drifted off to sleep.

"Happy Boithday, Meowth…"

With no Rocket awake to see, the glowing thing, like the round surface of a stone, rose from the lake. Two bright eyes regarded the slumbering party, particularly interested in the pokémon, before the silhouette shimmered and faded out of reality.


A/N: Ehh, a bit shabby but so little time these days! Here be the first chapter of a new fanfiction, to celebrate the upcoming year where I hope to continue all of my waiting fics, as well as indulge in a shameless TR obsession! Oh , how I've missed thee -x-