This is a story of alternate universe in which Jessie and James find their way.
James ran away from his wealthy family’s home as a child. Kanto aristocracy is no place for someone like James—autistic, transfeminine, and altogether too gentle for the heartless politics of the gentry. Learning that his parents had picked a controlling, spiteful woman as his arranged bride, and thus had already planned how they would ruin even the part of his life he could have perhaps lived out of their grasp, was the last straw, and he fled with little more than his clothing and the Koffing he had received as his last oseibo gift. In one world, his beloved pet Growlithe stayed behind with his parents, but in this one, the loyal hound refused to part from James’s side and protected him thereafter. Even as a seeming child prodigy with two Pokémon already loyal to him, he failed out of a school for Pokémon trainers. Severed from his family’s wealth and from his last-ditch effort to make something of himself without them, he joined a biker gang under the callsign “Trainer James.”
It was in this gang that James met Jessie, the neglected daughter of a high-ranking Team Rocket agent. She had dreamed of being a Pokémon nurse, but the school she enrolled in was meant for Chanseys. She made friends and showed great promise, but was expelled because the school would not accommodate her access needs. Defeated, out of options, and possessing only the Ekans she had received as a gift, she joined the bikers. The two rapidly became close, seeing in each other some things they hadn’t recognized in other people before: familiarity, and friendship.
When Team Rocket sent recruiters to woo them, they considered it a sizeable promotion. Being sent the aid of a truly remarkable creature—a talking Meowth with a tragic origin story of his own—seemed, to them, a sign of trust, until they figured out that Meowth’s zealous ambition would effectively put him in charge. The trio tried obsessively to make good on their instructions to capture Ash’s Pikachu, even sneaking aboard the St. Anne after luring Ash and his friends there. Aboard, James was swindled into buying a Magikarp in a gold-plated Pokéball as a present for Jessie. His embarrassment when he learned of how much he overpaid was profound, and it returns to him in memories every now and then, but Jessie appreciated the gift and saw the silly creature’s value.
After many, many unsuccessful attempts to serve their Team Rocket masters, James and Jessie found themselves ensnared in another Team Rocket duo’s far more successful plot. Butch and Cassidy’s fake Pokémon breeding center had convinced James and Misty, among others, to leave Pokémon there for care and breeding, and the ruthless pair refused to return them even to their ostensible allies. Jessie and James only retrieved Growly by allying with Ash and his friends. Betrayed, Butch and Cassidy were taken into police custody, but Jessie and James knew that the combat between them put a major dent in their esteem with the boss.
Meowth in particular refused to let the pair become Team Rocket fugitives, but another round of failed Pokémon theft operations began to strain their operating budget (even with Koffing and Ekans both evolving), and another altercation with Butch and Cassidy sealed their fate. The boss would soon have to choose between this trio of failures and his star agents, and they knew how they would fare in that contest.
They doffed their uniforms, and they ran.
The skill at disguises they cultivated as Team Rocket agents served them well as fugitives. They were never sure if they were being pursued, but they were sure that any Rocket agents chasing them would not figure out which random civilian to attack. Still not sure how his partners in flight would react, James suggested that he take his disappearance-in-plain-sight much farther.
Jane started growing out her hair, and used her black-market connections to seek out hormonal medicine. Jessie and Meowth made no fuss, as though they had expected this move for a long time. Growly and Weezing could feel their master’s improved mood from the start, and grew closer to her. Jessie changed the emphasis in their name, sometimes shortening the normally-long final syllable, depending on their clothing. Magikarp was as unconcerned as ever, but Arbok could tell that this was good for Jessie, too. Jessie caught a Likitung that was stealing their food, intending to chastise it, but the little family merely absorbed the hungry thief. The thought of punishing the feckless creature for the life they themselves were about to live full-time struck neither of them as fair.
Early in their time as fugitives, Jane and Jessie visited a traveling carnival. Jane remembered her childhood dream of owning a Chimecho, and her trusting nature was once again used to swindle her. The Chimecho she bought from a disreputable salesperson turned out to be a painted Hoppip, which cheerfully flapped away into the wild, but Jane was soon approached by a real Chimecho that bonded with her instantly. At the same carnival, Jessie met a child fascinated and delighted by Likitung, and suggested trading it for one of his Pokémon if he had any so that he could keep enjoying its company. In this way, Jessie became the master of a Wobbuffet.
Spotting people they recognized as Team Rocket agents, they hid in the woods to throw them off their trail. Here, they spotted a famous poacher capturing and painfully confining a flock of Koffings and a swarm of Ekanses, and felt honor-bound to free them. The poacher, Rico, was powerfully armed. His team of a Fearow, a Tyranitar, and electrified cage bars proved too much for Growly, Weezing, and Arbok, even with Chimecho providing periodic Heal Bells to keep the team afloat, even with Magikarp evolving into Gyarados mid-battle. When Wobbuffet fell after not activating Mirror Coat in time to reflect Tyranitar’s Hyper Beam back at it and Tyranitar shoved Gyarados into the electrified bars until the Water/Flying type fainted, Jane, Meowth, and Jessie made a fateful, painful decision. Attacking Rico’s Tyranitar with bare hands and claws, they commanded Weezing and Arbok to flee with the freed Ekanses and Koffings. Tyranitar left the trio as thrashed as the rest of their Pokémon and escaped, and Ash and his friends never learned why his team was so weakened when they encountered him a bit later and had him arrested.
Chimecho was still conscious enough after the battle to offer Jane and Jessie some Heal Bells, but the effort exhausted it. The pair, now well enough to stand, collected their Pokémon and started walking in a direction Jane was sure led somewhere familiar. Along the way, a wild Cacnea saved them from some attacking Beedrills. It explained that, in awe of the pair’s selfless defense of the Koffings and Ekanses, it wanted to join them. Jane gleefully accepted the prickly creature’s embrace, not least because the journey to Nanny and Pop-Pop’s “summer cottage” / mansion might involve a few more wild encounters for a thoroughly exhausted team.
Nanny and Pop-Pop, Jane’s grandparents, very nearly didn’t recognize her. Ecstatic to see their granddaughter and meet her friends, they took them in for food, drink, and healing right away. Jane and Jessie met Ash and his friends in the main sitting room, also there for healing, and just barely managed to avoid coming to blows. Jane and Jessie confessed their situation, and the two groups agreed not to antagonize each other during their mutual stay.
While their Pokémon recuperated, Jane, Jessie, and Cacnea explored Nanny and Pop-Pop’s sumptuous “Pokémon house.” This lavish habitat was full of fond memories for Jane, as one of the only places where she could be free from the obligations of her aristocratic upbringing. More than that, it was the only place where she felt free to be…herself, soft and kind, and not the acerbic young man her parents wanted her to be. She found the Pokéball containing the Carnivine she had saved from a mudslide in her youth and hidden in one of her playrooms, and the two joyfully hugged and caught up on a long separation. Jane spent most of her time at her team’s bedside, attended by the household Eevee. Within a day, Eevee refused to be away from Jane, and caringly curled up on Jane’s lap or placed a paw on her whenever the sadness of her team’s injuries, or wistfulness over Arbok and Weezing, came upon her.
Jessie spent most of their time in the Pokémon house, or in the kitchen, stuffing themself with food while Jane worried herself to near-starvation. That was a major difference between the two fugitives: where Jane had never been interested in or able to put a lid on her feelings and had suffered for it her whole life, Jessie learned early to keep theirs firmly behind a wall of practicality and desperate triangulation. But still, Jessie had private moments, kneeling before the ever-full refrigerator in the dark, where they broke down in tears, missing Arbok and Weezing, worried over the fitful recoveries of their Wobbuffet and Gyarados, wondering if they and Jane could count on Ash and company to defend them if Team Rocket showed up demanding heads. In the Pokémon house, a half-wild Seviper caught their eye, and they noticed it during their periodic attempts to compose themself before the Wooper pond.
Eventually, Team Rocket did attack, though the agents didn’t come for Jane and Jessie, but for the Pokémon residing in this de facto hospital. Ash and his friends faced off against the four Rocket agents, and Jane and Jessie aided them with Carnivine and Cacnea. At the last moment, Seviper attacked the agents, poisoning them badly enough with its bite and tail blade that they fled. Jessie was in awe of the serpentine creature, and they could almost swear it knew. After some makeshift repairs to the Pokémon house, they visited their teams once more, finding them mostly or fully recovered. The group’s last day at Nanny and Pop-Pop’s was a grand party and a feast, and for the first time, Jane, Jessie, Ash, May, and Brock and all of their Pokémon were happy and playful all together. Eventually, the five began making preparations to leave, and Eevee jumped into James’s arms. No sooner did Jane recognize that Eevee wanted to go with her than, overcome with affection, it evolved into Sylveon, and embraced Jane with her empathic feelers. Nanny and Pop-Pop encouraged the two to stay together.
Jane told Carnivine to stay with her grandparents in case Team Rocket attacked them again, and she and Jessie made their exit from the mansion. Seviper approached Jessie as they exited, and communicated a desire to join their team, provided they impressed her in a one-on-one battle. Jessie released Gyarados with instructions to do so, and the two serpentine creatures dueled impressively on the mansion’s front steps. Eventually, Seviper was sufficiently convinced that Jessie was a strong trainer and accepted a Pokéball. Jessie worried that taking such a powerful Pokémon away from Nanny and Pop-Pop was a bad idea, but Jane assured them that her grandparents would be offended if Jessie rejected Seviper on their account. By now, Ash and his friends were long gone.
Jane, Jessie, and Meowth used a variety of assumed names and disguises to participate in Pokémon contests, including performances, races, navigation challenges, and exhibition battles. Along the way, Jessie caught a Wurmple that evolved into a Cascoon, which rapidly wormed her way into Jessie’s heart and into their contest strategies. Though the former Rocketeers rarely won their contests, and occasionally competed against Ash and his associates, they always managed to pass at least a few tiers and earn some prize money. During one contest, Jessie was assigned a Hippopotas to ride as part of a race, which the race coordinator seemed to find amusing and a handicap. Jessie proved them wrong by very nearly winning that race, and the beast refused to part from their company afterward.
After getting spotted by a Team Rocket hit squad and attacked in their rooms at a Pokémon center, the group began to worry about their safety a bit more. They arranged for someone they met during one of their contests to help them train their Pokémon, and stayed with them for a few weeks while their Pokémon honed various skills. In these training sessions, Jane’s Cacnea evolved into a Cacturne and learned some Dark-type moves, and Jessie’s Hippopotas and Cascoon evolved into Hippowdon and Dustox. Jane’s four, Jessie’s five, and Meowth all sharpened their tactical edge and learned new attacks and defensive techniques. While Meowth and Dustox were sparring, Jessie pointed out that Meowth had almost certainly become powerful enough to evolve, yet he remained Meowth. Jane mused that Meowth probably didn’t know whether he would retain the ability to speak in his evolved form, or whether he could stand to once again be an obligate quadruped, and so was actively refusing. Meowth didn’t offer an explanation, and they didn’t ask.
Jane spent a lot of this time watching and directing her Pokémon, but her off hours were spent with her body, alone or with Jessie around. Her timely intervention was doing its work, and the sensation of being able to look at herself and see no strangers looking back was too much to deny. Sometimes, Chimecho or Sylveon hugged her during these explorations, seemingly for no reason, and the welter of mingled emotions was enough for a happy cry they could all share.
Jane, Jessie, and Meowth thanked their instructor and headed north, suspecting that their stalkers might be less inclined to chase them into the snowy mountains. With Growly to keep them warm, they traveled much farther than they thought they could…far enough for a mischievous Snorunt to sneak into their camp and steal their food. Her devious tittering and gleeful leaving of a trail of apples and jerky in the snow made sure Jessie and Jane knew this was a game. Sylveon and Meowth helped collect the dropped food while Jessie and Jane followed the trail. Snorunt began throwing food at them from a tree branch, losing her footing in the process. Jane leapt to catch her, and then held her up so that the resulting slide of snow from the nearby heap, brought on by the flung food, would leave her unburied. Touched, Snorunt used her ice powers to unmire Jane, took her hand, and brought her to the rest of the food. The group moved to Snorunt’s cave for the night, and Snorunt became Jane’s fifth team member.
Tracks outside the cave in the morning convinced Jane that they were still being followed, and they made haste to the nearest city, relying on Snorunt to conceal their trail. In town, they ran into Ash, Misty, Brock, and May again. Getting wind of the larger group’s plan to travel to a far-off region, the Team Rocket fugitives asked to join them. Cautiously, Ash and his friends agreed, remembering the peace of their last encounter. Jane then returned Ash’s badge collection, which she found in Snorunt’s cave, to Snorunt’s amusement.
Having six trainers in the group instead of four made sure the group was even more prepared for the hazards of travel than usual. Wild Pokémon, pirates, biker gangs, and other hazards were summarily defeated, and the group’s water Pokémon even went on a quest to retrieve items from a shipwreck they discovered. Snorunt was particularly insistent on Jane’s share of the treasure including a strange round gemstone, which Snorunt refused to touch. Jessie knew immediately what Snorunt had in mind, but left the others to figure it out on their own.
Ash, Jane, Jessie, Misty, Brock, Meowth, and May spent a long time cooperating, and grew to depend on one another in exploration and battle. The fugitives’ long time on the lam gave them skills that their former antagonists did not share, and they grew to become, not just allies, but friends and rivals. Jessie and Jane even began taking on Pokémon gyms for themselves, and found they liked the taste of victory, especially when they managed to find a winning strategy for a particular gym or contest before Ash did. The friendship between Jane and Ash was further cemented when Pikachu noticed something in Growly’s fur, and drew out the Joltik that had taken up residence therein with a small jolt. Jane fed the tiny creature a nine-volt battery and she was satisfied, joining Jane’s team.
After a particularly fierce battle in a gym full of Ground Pokémon, Snorunt waited until Jane’s exhausted Cacturne and Sylveon were restored to health and then insistently escorted her into the nearby forest. Growly followed, curious, as did Jessie. In seclusion, Snorunt reminded Jane about the gemstone from the treasure hoard, and asked for it. Jane complied, sensing the transformation to come. Snorunt took the Dawn Stone and transformed into Froslass. She admitted that she had long feared evolving into a big, burly Glalie like most of her kind, because she instead wanted to be slight and beautiful, like Jane, and thanked her with a big hug for making this dream come true. Growly nuzzled Jane, as if to tell her that she, too, felt ready for her next chapter, and Jane produced the Fire Stone she had been saving for this occasion.
Jessie didn’t see any of this, because they tripped over a Pumpkaboo during their secretive travel, and captured the strange plant-ghost without even thinking. By the time they realized they had filled out their team, Jane stumbled upon them astride her new and improved Growly, with a demure, smiling Froslass behind her. Jessie summoned their new Pokémon to speak to him. Pumpkaboo told them he accepted capture without a fight out of boredom and loneliness, and because his spiritual senses detected that Jessie would make a good friend. Awestruck that a ghost plant used to escorting deceased souls to the afterlife could be so twee, they didn’t notice the Rocket hit squad rappelling down from the trees. Pumpkaboo, Arcanine, and Froslass sent them packing before Jane or Jessie had turned their heads to notice the fight.
Jane, Jessie, and Meowth took the afternoon off while Ash and his older friends explored a nearby ruin. They went shopping for clothes, Jane buying a sundress that reminded her of something she’d eyed in the past, Jessie adding a fine tailcoat to their collection. They treated themselves and their teams to a fine meal around a single enormous table, and watched the sun set from a rooftop crowded with the Pokémon who loved and respected them. Even if they had to deal with Team Rocket trying to bring them in for punishment, steal from them, or keep them from revealing low-level passwords forever, the future would be theirs, and that prize was the very best.
Besides, Jane still had a Galvantula to train up.
For more of Jane and Jessie, visit Alyssa’s Fiction.