Giovanni sat at the end of the long room, his formidable figure thrown into silhouette by the vast window behind him.
"Enter," he called.
Jessie and James glanced at each other as the stood in the entranceway, their own apprehension mirrored in the other's eyes, and stepped into the office.
"Sit," he commanded, as they reached his desk. They obeyed. His voice was quiet and almost casual as he began to speak, but both Rocket agents remained anxious as they sat before him.
"Do you know how Team Rocket makes most of its money?" They were both a little taken aback by the question, but neither dared to answer, sensing, correctly, that he was not expecting them to respond. "From selling rare Pokémon," he continued. "And do you know where we get these rare Pokémon?" This time he didn't answer his own question, and Jessie felt herself grow warm under his cold gaze.
"From Rocket agents?" she ventured, keeping her eyes firmly on the desk.
"Precisely," he replied. "Would you like to know something interesting?" Beside her, James shifted uncomfortably in his seat as if he knew what was coming.
"You two are the lowest ranking field agents in Team Rocket, by quite a considerable margin. You have failed to bring me one single valuable Pokémon, and you have been working for me for seven years."
"That's not true!" Jessie burst out. James stared at her, eyes wide with surprise and fear. "We sent you that Eevee just two weeks ago!"
Giovanni let out a bark of laughter "Ha! I said valuable Pokémon! That little rat was worthless to me. I had it destroyed."
"You – " Jessie started, her anger becoming more and more difficult to control. But before she could say anything else James kicked her under the table.
The Boss's attention shifted on to James now. James studied the floor, feeling uncomfortable under Giovanni's scrutiny.
"You are quite the enigma, James," he mused. "You often surprise me with moments of great intelligence…" He paused for a moment. "But you're also weak, clumsy and hopeless." James just stared at him, wide-eyed while the Boss continued, "but I am not an unfair man."
At this point Jessie let out a cough that might have been disguising a laugh of disbelief, but if Giovanni had heard this, he ignored it.
"You two have cost me far more money than you have earned. Perhaps I ought to cut my losses and just fire you now." Jessie looked up at him, a wave of dread wash over her at his words. Team Rocket was all she knew. "Perhaps I'm being optimistic, but I can't help feeling you both may still have some potential given the right partners."
"Partners?" Jessie echoed, but once again, the Boss ignored her interruption.
"James, I want you to return to Sinnoh with Carmen, a very promising agent indeed, top of her class at the Rocket Academy in Kanto. She has been training new recruits for the past year, so if anyone can turn you into a worthwhile agent, it's her. But I warn you, James, Carmen will make your dear Jessie look relatively tame."
James still sat in silence, staring at Giovanni, but his fists were clenched so tightly that his knuckles were turning white.
"As for you," he said, turning back again to Jessie.
"What?" she spat.
"You'll be going to Johto with one of my best agents, Jasper. He has been out in the field for almost ten years and has had great success. You may still not know when to hold your tongue but at least you're determined. I trust Jasper won't hold you back like James so evidently has."
"He doesn't hold me back!" Jessie said, her voice rising, "it's not our fault you're so damn picky that you don't want any of the Pokémon we send!"
Finally Giovanni's composure broke. He rose from his seat and slammed his hands down on the desk. "Silence!" he yelled. "You will speak when you are spoken to, you insolent child. You should be thankful you still have a job. If it weren't for me, you and your worthless partner would have nothing! You should be thanking me. Or would you rather I just cut you from the team?" Jessie said nothing, she just stared at her feet. Giovanni leaned over the desk to face Jessie, his voice dropping to a dangerous whisper.
"Answer me," he said.
"I want to stay," she muttered, not taking her eyes off her shoes.
"Good," he said, smiling darkly as he sat back down. "I will give you a month with your new partners to make your way to Johto and Sinnoh and after that I will expect you to send me some Pokémon for once in your miserable lives. Now, get out of my sight." They rose from their seats abruptly but Jessie paused for a moment, turning back to the desk.
"You didn't say what was going to happen to Meowth."
The Boss stared at her coldly for a moment and then replied, "Meowth has never displayed the spectacular levels of ineptitude that you have. He will stay here and work for me in Headquarters. I told you to get out of my sight, I don't want to have to say it again." And with that, he turned his back on the two Rocket agents and motioned towards the door.
Neither of them spoke until they had been escorted down the 17 storeys and out the front doors of Rocket Headquarters.
"So, that's it then," James said, his eyes glazed. "He's split us up."
"Yeah," Jessie said.
"I need to go all the way to Sinnoh. I hate Sinnoh. And I don't like the sound of my new partner either."
"Mmm," Jessie agreed.
"What?" she replied, not meeting his eyes.
"Are you okay?"
"I don't believe you." Finally she looked up at him. Her eyes were blazing with anger but when she met James's green gaze it quickly changed to disappointment and sadness. He put his arms around her and pulled her in to a hug. She rested her head on his chest for a moment and let out a long sigh.
"We had a good run though, didn't we?" she said, with a small smile.
"Yeah, we did. We might not have been very productive, but we were certainly creative."
Jessie gave a sad laugh. "I'm going to miss you, James."
"I'll miss you, too."