First pokemon fanfic I've published here to not be part of my established AU, but still definitely an AU. Also, I would definitely not describe this as 'grimdark', but there are still some definite darker and violent parts of the story later, so I've gone ahead and rated it T right away.
Giovanni and Persian
Meowth climbed on the roof in the dark, frowning. Not even the bright light of the full moon in view could cheer it up. So, it was now a freak. Meowth had been repeating this in its head over and over again for hours, feeling worse and worse each time. It was embarrassing to think that it had gone though so much effort, only to be smirked at, mocked and eventually just ignored. Meowth couldn't forget that kind of humiliation, made worse by the fact that it had thought things would go so much differently.
It stood out now, didn't it? Though there were a lot of meowth around, as one that spoke and imitated a human, it was now different from just any other meowth on the street. But that wasn't really a good thing, Meowth considered. The attention Meowth got wasn't the kind it wanted.
Meowth stared up at the appealing round sphere that was the moon. The same as Meowth had, the moon had slowly changed over the days, appearing first as a sliver and then rounder and rounder, until it shone brightest in the wonderful shaped it appeared now. Well, Meowth considered, the moon would lose its brightness over the days, eventually becoming the new moon which could float in the sky unnoticed.
Just like the moon changed, Meowth could also change back to what it was before. Not a 'freak', but a normal meowth. It hadn't been adequate then, but it had at least been normal, Meowth thought. So it would change itself back easily. Changing back to what was natural would be easier than the opposite, wouldn't it? Meowth vowed to do that, sitting down as a normal Meowth would, rather than the way it can grown used to. This wasn't so hard, was it?
Meowth climbed down from the roof, feeling better until it realized that it had landed standing up straight, the same as an human.
This was going to take practice, just like it had to change to imitate a human, Meowth realized. The next day, it walked along its four legs, trying to blend in with the rest of the random street pokemon. Unfortunately, that kind of appearance came with its own problems. "Stupid stray," a man passing by Meowth said. "Get out of here, your group is mucking up this place!"
Meowth saw the foot swinging toward it, then jumped out of the way, again landing on its two hind legs. "Watch it! You keep away from me!" Meowth warned, holding out its front paws in a warning.
The man who had casually kicked at Meowth now stood up straighter, a shiver running through him. "What?!" he said, taking a step back. "That's creepy!"
The man still glanced back at Meowth several times as he walked away, then picking up the pace when he was at a distance. Meowth couldn't be pleased. The situation was better than being attacked, but Meowth didn't want to think that it was too 'creepy' or 'freakish' to be around any other humans or pokemon, either. Meowth forced itself back onto four feet, then began to walk forward again.
Going further down the street, Meowth reached its goal. The market with its favorite kind of fish. It might have to try some place else later, as this was indoors and therefore more difficult to steal from. Still, Meowth wanted to treat itself, and looked hungrily at even the drawing of fish displayed in the window. The owner looked across the way at Meowth, glaring warily.
Meowth walked down the street as if it hadn't been thinking of going in the building and helping itself to some of the delicious food inside. But then it crossed the street, doubling back, the possibility of this food still the first thing on its mind. It approached the store, still walking on its four paws, under the window so the owner wouldn't be able to see it. Meowth approached the door, and looked up at the handle, thinking it would need to be opened first.
Meowth had been about to stand up to try and open it. No, that wouldn't work, Meowth realized. This particular type of knob wasn't compatible with its paws. Besides, standing up would be something that a 'freak' meowth did, not the kind of meowth that it wanted to be.
So, it would just have to wait until the door was opened, the same as it had many times before. Meowth sat and waited. A customer approached, reaching for the doorknob. He would open it, Meowth realized with excitement.
But first the man looked down at Meowth. "Shoo!" he said. Again, a boot was swung its way, but this time, Meowth just ran off on four legs without comment, starting to become frustrated. Moving on, Meowth meandered back to in front of the shop, looking intently at the door. As the now departing customer swung the door open, this time paying no mind to Meowth, Meowth considered running in. Then it had another idea.
"Hey! Delivery! I'll just leave it over here!" Meowth shouted. As it predicted, the owner came running out. As he looked around for where the delivery or deliverer might be, Meowth dashed in unnoticed by his feet.
On the counter, there was a delicious looking fish, which the owner had apparently been wrapping. Almost too convenient! Meowth excitedly stepped on the stool, then reached up its front paws, pulling the fish off the counter.
Oops, Meowth thought, it shouldn't have done that. Not one but two mistakes just with this one plan. But if it could use its abilities to an advantage, why shouldn't it? Meowth could hardly feel upset with itself as it looked at its much desired prize, then snatched it up, pushing open the door and running out. "Hey!" the owner shouted as he saw.
Meowth ran now, carrying the fish in its front two paws as it ran with its back two legs. The person Meowth had stolen from ran behind it, shouting, but Meowth just kept running, feeling elated. If it hadn't gained this skill of walking upright, the prize would be more difficult to carry in just its mouth. It had gotten better running this way, too. Now Meowth just needed to get away, then it could properly enjoy what it had earned.
Just when Meowth had gotten ahead, there was a crowd in its way. The darkly dressed group piled out of a building. Meowth looked toward the street. A bunch of cars were driving by quickly, so it wasn't going to take a chance going that way. Maybe right through the crowd would be best, then that owner wouldn't be able to chase as easily.
Meowth leapt into the action, dodging around the feet before it got stuck. "Someone get that meowth!" Meowth's pursuer shouted.
It only had a little farther to go, Meowth saw. It tried to force its way through the crowd, pushing with one paw, and holding its fish close with the other. "What is this?" Meowth heard someone nearby say. "Get out of the way!" Hearing this, Meowth found itself being the one pushed, and without meaning to, threw its fish forward.
"Ah!" Meowth cried, looking at its meal flying up and through the air. It ran forward, trying its best to catch it. Instead, it ran into someone. Just then, the fish went up and hit it in the head. "Meowth," Meowth said, briefly stunned.
Before it could get its bearings, Meowth found itself snatched up by one of the men nearby. "This thing's pretty rude! What do you think you're doing to the boss, huh?"
Meowth was thrown to the ground again. It shook its head, then looked up and around. People dressed in black uniforms adorned with a bright red 'R' surrounded it. In front, was the person Meowth had run into. Some clown in a neon-colored suit, Meowth noticed. The wet stain on his jacket made it obvious that the fish had hit him. One of the darkly-dressed goons kicked the fish to the side. Seeing this, Meowth let out a cry.
"What's this?" the clown said, looking down at his outfit in disgust.
"Should we punish it, boss?" one of the other men asked, taking out a pokeball.
"No need to bother with this kind of trash," the boss said, walking forward. As he did, he also kicked Meowth's fish, off of the sidewalk and into the mud on the streets.
Meowth clenched its jaw. It still thought it could have saved its dinner, but it was done with that now. Maybe Meowth was hungry enough to go and fish the thing off the street, but its pride overcame its hunger. Meowth stood up tall and glared in the direction of the guy it had run into. "Hey!" Meowth shouted. "Hey! You, the joker over there! How about some respect for another guy's hard earned meal, huh?"
The man, just having taken off his orange jacket, turned around and faced Meowth, looking down at it with a cold, blank expression. Meowth glared back up at him, unyielding. After a few seconds, he turned away without comment. The uniformed people around him still looked at Meowth dubiously.
"What's with that thing?" one said.
"Don't you insult the boss!" another spoke.
"You'll get a punishment for that!"
Meowth saw the suspicious-looking humans beginning to surround it. It realized it was in over its head. This was some kind of gang, and these creeps probably had tons of overpowered pokemon, Meowth realized. It tried to retreat, but other humans blocked its path. Meowth's anger had faded, only be replaced with anxiety over what might happen.
"Enough!" the weirdly-dressed guy who was apparently their boss ordered. "As I just said, we don't need to waste our time."
"Yes, boss!" The mob around Meowth began to dissipate. Meowth felt some relief, though it was still tired and hungry. As the group began to walk away, Meowth sighed. At least it didn't have to worry about being attacked anymore.
Then suddenly, something went over its head. "Ah!" Meowth exclaimed. It was now in a net, lifted off of the ground. Face to face with the shop owner it often stole from, Meowth could only glare back at him.
"You naughty meowth," the shop owner said. "It might have done you some good if these hoodlums taught you a lesson! Now I'll be making sure you're out of my hair!"
Meowth said nothing. It had again called attention to itself as a freak, and for what? Still hungry, Meowth was also captured again, and would be easily identified for all of its crimes as the talking freak. Meowth frowned, sighing for a different reason as it was dragged away.
"Take care of this," Giovanni said, shoving his soiled jacket over at a random rocket grunt. He watched as the strange pokemon's pursuer carried it off. There really was no need to do anything further. They were here for recreational reasons, to build up morale and loyalty among the ranks. Giovanni shouldn't have to deal with this in the meantime, he thought, climbing into the car. Dr. Fuji took a seat beside him.
"Now that we can converse in private, please give me a full update on the project," Giovanni said. Dr. Fuji looked outside the window, his eyes still on the departing pokemon. Giovanni glared his way. "Doctor, don't try my patience," Giovanni said.
"I'm sorry," Dr. Fuji said, turning back to Giovanni. "I'm just surprised the stories were true."
"What stories?" Giovanni said.
"About the meowth."
"Are you trying to distract from the matter at hand?"
"Good, then let's continue with the proper discussion," Giovanni said.
Dr. Fuji still peered back once more before turning back. "You know I'm only here to answer any questions you have at all. It's just, that meowth alone might be a valuable research subject itself."
"And why do you persist with this?" Giovanni said, frowning.
"From your basic understanding of pokemon, should a meowth like that exist?" Dr. Fugi asked. "If you consider how we use pokemon, it's because we can only imagine them as powerful tools, not having the cognizance to do things like speak. They are monsters, after all. If they spoke, it could change how we look at pokemon entirely."
"Does it really matter?" Giovanni said.
No, Dr. Fuji thought, to a person like this, it wouldn't matter. The rocket boss used humans the same as pokemon, as tools to expand his own power. "Well, there was some talk about this among researchers that I know. If they'd known there was any merit, I know they'd be here right away. So would some of the more well known pokemon professors, if nothing else than to be rid of the freak of nature. It could harm their business."
"Hmph," Giovanni said, smirking as he thought of it. Yes, some of those pokemon professors had interesting ideas about pokemon. They worked their lives to 'understand' the nature and minds of the beasts, making a profession of the mundane task. If pokemon could just speak and let everyone know on their own that most of those professor's well thought out ideas were false, that would be trouble for them, wouldn't it? Giovanni might have something else to hold over their heads.
That was, if it didn't just parrot back what it heard. Thinking back on the encounter, Giovanni realized that it hadn't. It had gazed at Giovanni purposefully and said something related to the situation. Maybe the idea of a talking meowth was interesting after all, Giovanni thought after considering.
"Well, let's go on with the update," Dr. Fuji said. "Then, if you don't mind, I'd like to double back there and see about the meowth."
Giovanni opened the small window separating the passengers from the driver. "Stop," he said. The driver stopped right away, and everyone stepped out, Dr. Fuji looking a little confused. Giovanni turned to one of his grunts, who had also been in the front. "Take him back, and keep an eye on him." Giovanni said, motioning toward the doctor.
"Yes, boss!" the grunt said.
"Sir?" Dr. Fuji said.
"We'll have this discussion later. I have something else to take care of," Giovanni said, and climbed back into the car. It soon sped away.
"Meowth!" Meowth said by habit as it was thrown into the cage. As the door was slammed shut, it was momentarily happy that it had reacted like a normal meowth. But what good would that do now? Freak or otherwise, it was trapped here along with these other misfit pokemon. Meowth lay back, depressed but relaxing.
"Growlithe!" the other pokemon in the cage made its presence known. Meowth jumped up, now tense, knowing it had a cell mate. "Gro! Gro! Gro!" the growlithe barked, letting Meowth know just how unhappy it was with another pokemon's presence.
Meowth stood up, pushing Growlithe's head back. "Back off, bud," Meowth said, glaring at the pokemon.
"Gro..." Growlithe was momentarily surprised. "Gro! Growlithe! Growlithe!" The delinquent growlithe now let Meowth know just how much it hated all meowth, and what it would do if Meowth stepped too close to it.
"Whatever," Meowth said, but still stepped away. It just wasn't worth a fight.
Meowth sat in its corner of the cage, which seemed to grow smaller and smaller as the growlithe paced around, muttering threats. "Growlithe, growlithe..."
"Yeah, you just see what happens if you try that," Meowth said.
"Growlithe!" Growlithe shouted in surprise as the door to the room opened. "Gro! Growlithe!" it now shouted loud threats at the humans who had entered.
"Quiet," a man said as he approached the cage. He glared at the growlithe, which suddenly stopped, backing away, though it still scowled, not letting down its guard. Then Meowth looked at the person who had spoken. It was that guy again, the clown from before, Meowth realized. "Is that you?" the man said to Meowth.
"Yeah," Meowth confirmed. "What, you want to execute me yourself?"
"Hmph. Not quite." Giovanni turned from Meowth to the other human. "Yes, this is the one."
The cage door opened. Growlithe was kicked as it tried to escape, and Meowth was carried out. "Here you are, sir," the other man said, holding out Meowth.
Giovanni made no motion to take it. "It can walk on its own two feet. Can't you, Meowth?" Giovanni said, looking toward the pokemon.
"Yeah," Meowth confirmed. It didn't point out that meowth technically were supposed to be quadrupedal. Meowth only stood up on its two hind legs as it was put on the ground.
"Come with me now, Meowth," Giovanni said.
Meowth didn't know why, but followed the instructions. For some weird reason, this guy was being somewhat nice to it. He had to know that Meowth could just run away as soon as they reached the door. But even as they did, the guy hardly looked at Meowth as he opened it, then stared out into the night sky. Meowth stared up too. It became relaxed, transfixed by the moon. No matter what the reason, this was a lucky break, it thought.
"So, do you go by any other name?"
Meowth looked over at Giovanni. So, the human was still around, and acknowledging Meowth. He was even asking its name, as if Meowth were human too. Meowth just decided to respond normally. "I'm just Meowth," it said casually.
Giovanni nodded. "I suppose you're hungry then, Meowth. Come with me, I'll get you something to amend for before."
Meowth blinked in surprise. No human had ever given it even a little food willingly before. No pokemon had either, no one at all, actually. It was tempted, but still suspicious. Why was a human treating it so kindly, anyway? This guy hadn't paid it any mind before, Meowth recalled.
Giovanni began to walk forward before Meowth could respond. Meowth straightened up and followed him. Well, this guy hadn't really kicked it around on purpose, and it had been crowded. Even so, he was suspicious. A human wanting to make up for something done to a street meowth was absolutely suspicious, but the idea of food was way too tempting for Meowth to give heed to its misgivings. It wordlessly followed Giovanni.
They came to a sandwich shop. "Go sit down, I'll get something," Giovanni said. Meowth climbed up on one of the chairs at the table, feeling tense as people stared at it. When Giovanni came back and sat across from Meowth like the pokemon sitting there was normal, the stares went away though. Giovanni placed a wrapped item in front of it.
It was a delicious fish sandwich, Meowth realized. Unlike with the uncooked fish, Meowth could eat this one with little mess. It took the food into its paws like a human, then ate the whole thing in only three bites. It began to feel some relief from its hunger. Meowth sat back, a hand on its stomach, and sighed.
"Is that enough, then?"
Meowth sat up, realizing where it was. This human might have done something kind, but he was just a human. "Yeah, thanks," Meowth said, though it still looked at the man warily.
"Good. Then let's chat. I'd like to hear your story, Meowth. How did you gain such an impressive ability?" Giovanni asked.
"Um... I don't know who you think I am, but I don't have any ability like you're talking about," Meowth said sheepishly.
"Come now, Meowth. You're sitting upright across from me, speaking clearly, when no other pokemon has ever said one word."
"Most pokemon talk, I guess just not how humans can understand it," Meowth said. "I'm not that much different than them."
Giovanni blinked in surprise. This was what many people had suspected, including himself, that what pokemon said and how they communicated was some kind of 'language'. But there was no way to prove it, or at least no pattern that humans could recognize. Yes, it seemed that this Meowth was very interesting and possibly useful. "So, if you can already can speak to each other, why bother learning a human language?"
"Because I want to be human," Meowth said, with a little more intensity than it meant to, glaring up at Giovanni.
"Oh? And why would you want something like that?" Giovanni asked calmly. "Compared to pokemon, humans are fairly weak creatures."
"Even if they're weak, anyone can see that humans rule the world," Meowth said. "Meowth aren't very powerful in the first place. Why wouldn't I want to be a human?"
Giovanni shrugged. "But no matter what, you're still a pokemon," he said plainly. Hearing this, Meowth was filled with irrational anger. It knew that already, but this guy telling it to him so off-handed brought all the pain to the surface. Only humans could provide for pokemon, and it was a cast-off, unable to provide for anyone, even itself. "Is that really so bad?" Giovanni continued. "With your impressive ability, you're better off than a lot of pokemon."
"Is it really that impressive?" Meowth asked.
"Of course. You can interact with both pokemon and humans. There's no one else, pokemon or human, that I know who can do that. You would be one of few, if not the only one in the entire world," Giovanni said.
Meowth took a moment to consider that. Even if it was true, what good did would it do? Its crush had seen Meowth as just a 'freak', and a creepy one at that, as did many other pokemon and humans alike. The humans it could now talk back to just shouted back more and more insults, and were sure to punish Meowth harder for whatever it had done. "Yeah, talking with humans doesn't help me at all," Meowth explained to Giovanni.
"I think you've just not had the right opportunities," Giovanni said. "You might with me."
"What makes you think that? What do you do anyway?"
"You don't know? Well, have you ever heard of Team Rocket?"
"Kind of," Meowth said. The name sounded vaguely familiar. "You guys are criminals, right?"
"Some call us that," Giovanni said with shrug. "It's not the point. I know from your point of view, humans rule the world, but the fact is we don't. At least not yet."
"Not yet?" Meowth repeated.
"No. That's my goal though."
"You want to conquer the world?" Meowth said, raising an eyebrow.
"Yes," Giovanni confirmed. "This is something Team Rocket can and will accomplish. With and only with pokemon at our side. I can imagine you'd be an invaluable addition to Team Rocket as one of those pokemon."
"Yeah, I don't know about that," Meowth said.
"Meowth, you're just letting yourself go to waste here. Isn't there anything you'd like to get out of life?"
"Of course! What do you think I've been trying so hard for?"
"Whatever your dreams are, I'm sure you can accomplish them through Team Rocket. I really do want you as part of my team. I'd be willing to pay you more than my average grunt."
"You'd pay me?" Meowth repeated dubiously.
"Do you pay your other pokemon?" Meowth asked.
"No. But you aren't like other pokemon. They're just happy to be my minions. Money is something you'd want for yourself, isn't it? Not just something that your 'master' would have."
Meowth considered it. Yes, if it had had money, Meowsie would have paid attention to it. Meowsie had tried to tell about how the world worked. It had explained to Meowth that money made the world go around, and humans had all the money, therefore all of the worth. It wasn't the standing and speaking that would make Meowth human-like, but lots and lots of money. With that, Meowth could have love, food, and anything else it wanted. "Yeah. I'd like that," Meowth said. If it was going to be a freak, it might as well be a rich freak.
"That could happen for you. I do pay more valuable agents more. As you proved yourself valuable, I'd give you more and more," Giovanni promised. Meowth now looked at him, intently interested. "But of course, right away you'd get everything you needed. You wouldn't have to be a part of any demeaning scenes as I witnessed today. I'll give you all the basic necessities, the shelter and food that you need. You will join me, won't you?"
"I think... Yeah, I think I want to," Meowth said. Just from sitting there, it had already gotten hungrier, and its mouth watered as it thought of the sandwich it had just eaten, smelling its remnants on the wrapper it still held. Meowth didn't know if it really wanted to join this guy's weird group, but just getting food and probably a warm place to stay was more than enough for the moment.
"Good," Giovanni said, grinning. Just with a few words and promises, he was beginning to 'catch' this valuable pokemon. "Let's get going then. I have other business in town, but I will introduce you to everyone to start with."
After waiting just a few moments outside, Giovanni and Meowth were picked up in a car. They drove a little ways, and then arrived at a hotel. As they walked in, there was a lot of loud joking and laughing, but then everyone stood at attention, saluting him.
Meowth felt momentarily uncomfortable as the group of uniformed people stared at them. It had gotten the idea that the guy next to it was an important person from their first encounter, but not to this extent. Everyone in the room had stopped whatever they were doing the moment he'd walked in, gave him their full attention, and waited for whatever he was going to say. Then one noticed Meowth standing by his feet. "It's-"
"This is Meowth," Giovanni began. "A valuable new member of Team Rocket. I'll be busy tonight, and I want you all to welcome it. Give Meowth your best, the same as you would myself."
"Right, boss!" the people agreed. As Giovanni left with several other people, Meowth found itself surrounded by the people. This time, they weren't threatening, some of them even smiled.
"So, the cat's the boss for now?" one said, laughing and stumbling over his own feet.
"Get over here and sit next to us, then!" another said.
"It'll need a little help."
One grunt put a booster seat onto a chair, another lifted Meowth up. "Hey, hands off! I can get up there myself," Meowth said.
"Is it saying something?" a grunt asked.
"Come on, the boss didn't tell us to make nice with it for nothing! There's gotta be something special about this meowth. Come on Meowth, join us. Do you want something? Something to eat, a nice drink?"
Being properly invited, Meowth sat on the booster seat, almost at eye level with everyone else. They'd gone back to the loud party-like atmosphere. Some of them looked a little drunk, Meowth noticed. It began to joke about that fact. Instead of being offended, the rocket grunts laughed. They patted Meowth on the back, and piled food in front of it. When Meowth spoke, they responded the same as they would to any other human.
Meowth was surprised at just how much it was able to relax and join in. This was Team Rocket, was it? And besides getting this kind of regard from other agents, its hard work could make it rich? This wasn't bad, Meowth thought. Maybe it would stay with the group. It just needed to consider things a little more.
Meowth grabbed Giovanni's sleeve. Giovanni leaned down at listened, then nodded. "Get rid of him," Giovanni said.
Meowth smirked as the grunt who was being questioned had his pokeballs taken away, then he was punched, and dragged out of the room. The boss wouldn't have to worry about this traitor anymore. Meowth had found out exactly what he'd been up to from his assigned pokemon. "That's a good cat," Giovanni said, giving Meowth a pat on the head.
Though it definitely wasn't anything close to what the boss would have said to any other Rocket, Meowth was starting to appreciate itself as a pokemon. It had never really been valued as such before, but now it was. He stood beside Giovanni as his 'top cat', yet Meowth also stood on its own. It wasn't really contradictory, and Giovanni appreciated Meowth in both aspects. Meowth really loved its boss's praise, no matter what the context.
"With that worry out of my hair, I can take care of some more pressing business," Giovanni said.
"What's that, boss?" Meowth asked.
"I'd like to check on the cloning project," Giovanni said. "I'm really very excited about what might transpire from it."
"Hopefully it won't be anything too freaky that jumps out of that lab," Meowth said, slightly disappointed. The boss never wanted it to go with him on these trips.
"You'll be coming along," Giovanni said.
"Oh?" Meowth said in surprise. "Yeah, sure boss!" it said, grinning.
As they exited the rocket base, a persian jumped in front of them, yowling about the trash. Meowth stepped forward. As a member of the renowned Team Rocket, the boss's top cat, it was able to act above all other pokemon. Even an annoying persian wouldn't intimidate it. "Go garbage picking somewhere else!" Meowth said, shooing it away. It was gratifying to be the one to say these kind of things, Meowth thought, still smiling. This was turning out to be a pretty good day.
"Persian. That's your evolved form, isn't it?" Giovanni said as they sat down in the car.
"Yeah, some meowth evolve into that," Meowth muttered. It didn't like meowth once they did evolve, and if Meowth had already disliked them prior, evolving to persian made matters worse.
"I've always liked them. So graceful and sleek. How much longer do you think it will be until you evolve?" Giovanni asked.
Meowth's mouth opened in surprise. How could the boss be thinking that? "Well, even if I know some moves, I haven't really been battling much. So I won't evolve anytime soon."
"It might not be a bad thing for you to become stronger by battling, and then evolving," Giovanni said.
Meowth frowned and fidgeted. It wasn't bad at battling. But hadn't the boss valued it as a pokemon who didn't just battle? "Who knows what'd happen to me if I evolved," Meowth said. "Maybe I'd lose my abilities." It very likely couldn't stand on two legs for long, and the persian body might affect its speaking abilities as well.
"Right. Of course, you need to stay a meowth," Giovanni said.
Meowth smiled again. Yeah, the boss just hadn't been thinking. He wanted powerful pokemon for sure, but also appreciated Meowth for what it was. Yeah, Meowth assured itself, the boss thought of acquiring powerful pokemon a lot, but considered Meowth a irreplaceable part of Team Rocket.
How Meowth was by his side all the time proved it. Besides translating what other pokemon were saying, Meowth often engaged in conversation with its boss, about various topics. Its boss really prized it, Meowth knew. With that, Meowth was starting to see itself as valuable more and more.
The boss didn't make a habit of inviting many along to this secret lab, Meowth knew. It was privileged just to know about the place, and now even more so to visit it. Meowth realized this with pride as they took off in the helicopter, flying over the ocean. "Is that where it is?" Meowth asked, seeing an island in the distance.
"Yes. Nothing there has been successful as of yet. I'm really not sure if I should keep financing it. What do you think, Meowth?"
"Depends what you're hoping to get out of it, I guess. It can be fun to gamble, huh?" Meowth said.
Giovanni nodded. "Yes, and this gamble may well be worth it. I'll have to wait and see."
As they landed, Meowth followed at Giovanni's feet. It took a good look around, where people didn't salute the boss as usual, just stayed caught up in their work. They probably wanted to look busy. But someone did eventually run over to them. "Sir! You didn't tell us you were coming," he said.
"Is there a problem?" Giovanni asked.
"No, not at all. I just would have been there to greet you."
"No need for that, I wouldn't want to distract you. With so many failures, you don't need any distractions, do you?" Giovanni said. He turned toward the tubes. "I've just come to have a look."
With that, Meowth took a close look around too. There were several large tubes all around, all empty. Were they supposed to be fish tanks or something? Meowth thought it spotted something in one in the distance.
"Meowth here thinks I'm making a big gamble," Giovanni said.
"Hm?" Meowth turned back to the people in front of it. No, it hadn't exactly said that, since it didn't know the situation, but took Giovanni's comment as permission to speak. "Yeah, you really don't want to disappoint the boss here, either," it said.
"Yes," Dr. Fuji said. "This new clone, it's survived far longer than... Than the rest. Sir, if you were going to discontinue your support, I'd wait to see how this last specimen fares."
"That is what I'm waiting for," Giovanni said. He turned toward the back, where Meowth had thought it had seen something. As Giovanni walked toward the occupied tube, Meowth followed. It stared up along with Giovanni at the purple-ish muscular pokemon inside.
"What is that?" Meowth said.
"There's no need for you to know that much, Meowth," Giovanni said. Meowth was silent, realizing it had stepped over a line. "But it is a pokemon. That much is clear, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Meowth said.
"So then, Meowth, why don't you and this pokemon have a chat? Ask it if it would like to wake up," Giovanni said.
Meowth looked up at Giovanni, a worried expression on its face. "Um, boss, I can't just do that," it said. Giovanni looked down at it questioningly and Meowth cowered. "Yeah, boss, you know I'm not psychic. I can't talk to a sleeping pokemon in a fish tank."
"Of course," Giovanni said. Looking at the unconscious clone once more, he turned away.
Meowth still saw its boss's disappointment, and looked down in shame. It wanted to do everything the boss wanted, but the impossible was impossible. Giovanni might have just come out here simply with this in mind, and Meowth couldn't deliver. Its abilities weren't magic or anything, though at the moment Meowth wished they were.
Giovanni didn't say much to anyone else there as he looked around just a short while longer before leaving. Yeah, Meowth realized with embarrassment, Giovanni had only come for one reason, and that was a hope Meowth could help him. He wouldn't really be angry, Meowth thought, and its abilities were useful in most situations. Still, Meowth was worried as they traveled back to the base.
As they arrived, a group of grunts stood outside laughed, one throwing a pokeball into the air. "What's going on?" Giovanni asked as he approached. The grunts all stood at attention, the tension apparent.
"Sir, it's just that persian was really becoming a nuisance. It wasn't approved, but we decided to catch it," one grunt explained.
"And who decided on that?" Giovanni asked. Immediately, people backed away from the individual holding the pokeball. "To my office," Giovanni said to him.
Meowth came along with them. It was hardly ever away from the boss these days, even with discipline matters like this. Meowth sat near Giovanni, loyally watching and ready to help if needed.
"Boss," the guilty grunt began. "This thing's really caused some damage. I wasn't catching it behind your back, really, I was going to-"
"Show me the pokemon," Giovanni said.
"Right," the grunt said. It pressed the button on the pokeball, releasing Persian into the open. Persian sat with its back to them, calmly licking its paw.
Giovanni approached it, observing Persian closely. "For a street pokemon, it's very muscular and clean. A little shabby looking, but we see how well Meowth polished up with some care."
"Boss?" the grunt said, realizing he might get away easily.
"I'm going to take it," Giovanni said. "You can have another pokemon instead. Take this raticate."
"Right, boss!" the grunt said, hardly believing his luck. He happily handed Giovanni the pokeball, receiving one from Giovanni in return.
Meowth watched the exchange, frowning. Did the boss really want his own persian that much? "Hey, boss, why are you bothering with that kind of pokemon?" Meowth asked as the grunt left. "It's the one we saw out front today, right? There was nothing that great about it. You should tell that guy what for, for wasting a pokeball to catch something like that."
Giovanni shrugged. "I was planning to disperse more pokemon into the ranks," he said. "I just wanted to test the potential of this new pokemon myself."
Meowth nodded. That's right, it thought as it watched Giovanni putting the persian's pokeball away. The boss liked powerful pokemon. Persian were stronger than meowth, but really not that strong when compared to the pokemon the boss already used in battles. Giovanni would see its limited potential, then disperse it to some low-ranking grunt. Meowth was still the top cat, it assured itself.
"Meowth, that reminds me, I think I'm going to reassign you," Giovanni said. "There's really no more point to you just sitting around here with me."
Surprised, Meowth's facial expression fell, then it looked at the floor in shame. So, it really had disappointed the boss just then. And with the boss grabbing that persian right then...
"Chin up, Meowth. There are a lot of areas where your talents could be put to use," Giovanni said.
"Yeah, sure boss," Meowth said, forcing a determined expression to appear on its face. It was disappointing to be moved, but the boss was right. He was someone with a master plan, and Meowth was going to be an important part of that. "So what do you got planned for me?" Meowth asked.
"Some field agents would likely find you useful in some situations," Giovanni said, beginning to leaf through some folders.
"Yeah, it might not be bad to have partners," Meowth said.
"Right," Giovanni said. "These two should still be nearby. Yes, they should do."
Meowth looked at the folder Giovanni had dropped on his desk blankly. He'd made that decision pretty quickly. "Are they really good agents?" Meowth asked hopefully.
"Good enough," Giovanni said.
Meowth nodded. Everyone who worked for Team Rocket was good enough. If they weren't, Meowth would make them good enough. It had been allowed to order humans around before, and would do so again.
That afternoon, Meowth sat on a window ledge thinking about it, convincing itself that this was a good thing, and all the awesome plans it would enact with some humans working for it. From sitting by Giovanni's side, it was sure it knew what the boss liked, and would steal hundreds of pokemon for him.
Looking outside the window, Meowth saw Giovanni training with a random uniformed opponent. The persian knocked out the grunt's sandslash easily with some fury swipes. It wasn't bad, Meowth supposed. It had just been hanging around the base recently, but maybe it had been through a few battles before evolving and then wandering over here. But that sandslash could just have been ill trained, too, Meowth thought with a smirk. There was nothing really special about the persian.
The persian walked back to Giovanni, yowling at him. The boss wouldn't like that, Meowth thought, as he hated it when underlings got too loud. Meowth waited for the boss to chide the persian, but instead, Giovanni just patted it on the head, smiling. Persian moved its head into Giovanni's hand, grinning itself.
Meowth had lost its appetite, and its mouth fell open. It shouldn't be jealous, it thought, not with just one little scene like that. But even thinking this, Meowth was jealous. Wasn't it special in some way? Wasn't that why such an important person had picked it off of the streets? Maybe not, as the boss was pushing Meowth to the side, all while pulling some random annoying persian to the front.
No, Meowth told itself, that wasn't what was happening. Whatever Giovanni was doing, it was Meowth's fault anyway, it told itself. Meowth hadn't been useful in the cloning lab. Maybe it had been too loud and annoying at other times. But it could be useful again. Meowth was the same as any other rocket agent, and would prove itself out in the field.
So Meowth convinced itself it wasn't jealous, just for the moment, even when Giovanni walked inside the building while still allowing Persian to stay outside its pokeball. It had only ever allowed Meowth to do that before, though Meowth didn't have a pokeball, of course. It didn't mean anything, Meowth thought. No, Meowth wasn't jealous. It was going to start a new assignment in Team Rocket. Meowth wished it had opened that folder and read what was inside, because its new partners were the only thing it cared about for the moment.
Meowth stood in front of Giovanni's desk, the only pokemon present in the room. Two uniformed members entered, saluting the boss. Meowth took a good look a them. There was a man and woman, both dressed in white rather than the standard black. There had been a few other agents it had seen in that color, but Meowth wasn't really sure if it meant anything special. They looked pretty nondescript in general, just a normal pair of humans.
"As I briefed you two before, this is Meowth. Meowth, you're to assist these two the best you can. And you two, of course, are to make use of it. Don't let this pokemon go to waste."
Meowth felt weird leaving the office with them. But it still held its head high. When they got out, the two of them sighed, slumping over in the chairs in the lobby. "This is it?" the woman said.
"I was expecting something else," the man commented.
"Hey, don't talk about me like that! You two don't know how lucky you are to have me around to help! Call me Meowth if you're gonna talk about me!" Meowth said.
"Oh, we do know we're lucky," the man said with a smile.
His partner scowled at him. "Can it," she said.
"What do you mean?" Meowth said.
"Oh, fine," the woman said with a sigh. "Our last mission was a spectacular failure. The boss had to get us out of jail and everything."
"So, the boss saddled me with some losers?" Meowth said.
"Hey!" the man said.
"Don't talk about us like that either!" the woman said.
"Oh," Meowth said, realizing its mistake. "Sorry about that. So what do I call you two?"
"And," Jessie began. "Don't think we're some rejects or anything. One bungle doesn't change that we've been successful over all."
"Right!" James agreed. "That's why the boss partnered us up with his very own meowth, right?"
"Exactly," Jessie said.
Meowth smiled, feeling better as they spoke. It nodded and agreed with the overall sentiment, thought there was just one thing it needed to correct. "I'm not the boss's pokemon," it said.
"What? But you're the same Meowth that's around him all the all the time, right?" James asked.
"That's right," Meowth confirmed. "But I'm the boss's agent, the same as you."
"Hm," Jessie said, raising an eyebrow. James just nodded.
"I guess the boss put me with you two because you're pretty good. Like he said, he doesn't want me to go to waste. But you two better be useful to me too. I've got plans for us. We're gonna be the top 'team' in the team, you know?" Meowth said.
"Our thoughts exactly," Jessie said.
Meowth felt a lot better as it talked to its new partners, especially as they discussed the plans for their upcoming heist. This wasn't a bad place to be, with these humans that knew how lucky they were for having it around. Meowth felt even better the next day. The fact that it saw Giovanni addressing the grunts with Persian following him around just like Meowth had done only the day before didn't bother Meowth at all. This was where the boss had decided was best for it to be, and Meowth wasn't going to disappoint.