Butch Versus Tex... Again
written by Tabby

Tabby was just getting off work at the Pokčmon Center. She skipped along out of the door with Tarquin following behind.

"It's so exciting to have a Mew now, isn't it, Tarkie?" Tabby chattered excitedly to her Meowth. She was still enthralled with the mysterious Mew that had had flown into her kitchen the other day and caught itself in one of her spare PokčBalls.

"So now you have," Tarquin listed off, "Jigglypuff, Oddish, Mew, and... me, of course."

"Ah, yes," Tabby nodded. "But I need more!"

"Why don't we go into the Dark Forest someday just by ourselves and see how many we can get on our own?" Tarquin asked eagerly.

"Now, that would be interesting..." Tabby murmured.

"I told Tess I'd drop in and see her after we got done at the center," Tarquin said after a pause.

"Yes, yes, go along," Tabby responded, smiling slightly. She simply adored her Meowth, even if he abandoned her nearly every evening to see Tess, Merry Treat's petite and pretty Meowth.

"See ya later!" Tarquin called as he ran off on the well-trodden path to Merry Treat's house.

By this point, Tabby had forgotten about Pokčmon. Now, let's see, once I get home I'll scan in those Tweeg pictures for my webpage. Then I can try reorganizing my room a bit. And then go over to Sugarberry's for supper, she plotted out to herself.

All of a sudden, Tabby was aware of hoofsteps coming up behind her. She whirled around to face... Butch? Hmm, what was he doing in Dream Valley? He spent most of his time out in that shack of his in the Dark Forest. Tabby hoped this confrontation didn't have anything to do with the "evil" (in her opinion) duck he owned. "What do you want?" she queried cautiously.

"Oh, I thought you were Tamara," the dark blue stallion mumbled. "Sorry, Tabby." He turned to walk away.

"Was that meant as an insult towards me?!" Tabby demanded.

"Oh, no, not really," Butch said quickly.

" ‘Not really'?" Tabby shrieked in outrage.

"Never mind that," Butch said distantly, turning away again. However, he abruptly stopped and faced Tabby. "Say, does Tamara ever mention me?"

Tabby was still a bit miffed from Butch's so-called "insult" towards her. "I might be able to give out that information, depending on your reason," she said haughtily.

"I just want to know-- what she thinks of me," Butch stuttered.

"Oh," Tabby said thoughtfully. "To tell you the truth, she's never mentioned you."

Butch looked crestfallen. "Well, then, I'll just have to see her myself."

"She's seeing Tex at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe tonight, so she won't be home after five," Tabby informed him. What was all this talk of Tamara? Unless...

Butch sighed. "She still sees a lot of him, doesn't she?"

Tabby's eyes lit up as her suspicion was confirmed. "You're in love with Tamara, aren't you?" she declared dramatically.

"I didn't say that!" Butch protested, and then paused. "But-- oh-- you're right."

"And you want Tex out of the picture so you can have her all to yourself," Tabby continued.

Butch cleared his throat. "Umm... yes."

Tabby contemplatively walked onwards for several moments, her eyes glued to the ground in front of her. "I know exactly how to help both me and you out," she finally declared.

"What would you get out of it?" Butch eyed her suspiciously.

"Just think, if, say, Tamara ever marries Tex," Tabby began to explain. "Can you imagine what the name ‘Tex' would look like on my family tree?!"

"Rather short, I reckon," Butch decided.

Tabby sighed. "He's my arch-enemy. I must uphold the family name!" she said dramatically.

"Tamara doesn't have your last name, and you've never liked yours, anyway," Butch pointed out.

Tabby gave him a sideways glance. Somebody was always making fun of her dramatic lines. "It's the principle of the thing!" she blustered. "I don't want Tex to be a relation to me in any way, shape, or form."

"Oh," Butch nodded, still not getting the gist of Tabby's speech.

"So, you see, if you can get that cousin of mine to forget about Tex-- voila! My worries are gone!" Tabby said.

"Interesting theory," Butch commented. "Do you think I actually have a chance against Tex?"

Tabby winked at him broadly. "Trust me; of course you have a chance. After all, I am her cousin. Now, I know just what you need to make her start thinking more of you. I'll just have to find it..."

Butch breathed a sigh of relief. At least Tabby was being cooperative with him, even if her logic was a bit trivial.

Tabby ran ahead; they were now near her house. She jumped up the porch steps. "I'll be right back," she promised, opening the door and swiftly disappearing inside before Butch could get in another word.

Tabby glanced up the hallway. Now, what was it I was going to get? she momentarily pondered to herself. Oh, yes! The necklace! She headed up the stairs and into her room.

Once there, she tried to remember what in the world she'd done with that precious emerald necklace of Tamara's. Tamara had taken it off in the house once, but Tarquin had found it and given it to Tess. Tamara was heart-broken after it was lost. Tess, however, discovered afterwards that the necklace was Tamara's, and had given it to Tabby to give back to her cousin. However, that was weeks ago; and as far as Tabby remembered the necklace was still floating somewhere around her room, wherever she'd placed it the evening Tess gave it to her.

Usually, Tabby would've just forgotten about giving the necklace back to Tamara altogether-- not because she liked it and wanted it for herself, but because her cousin was never around when she thought about it. However, this necklace might help Butch out in catching Tamara's eye, and therefore be valuable in keeping Tex off her family tree.

After digging around in her desk drawers, her containers for keeping My Little People accessories, and on her bookshelf, Tabby had failed to unearth the precious necklace. "Argh! It's got to be here!" she wailed in despair. "I was sure I'd stuck it in with my people accessories!"

She finally noticed a promising sight: light glinting off a golden chain just showing from underneath Tabby's bed. Tabby triumphantly snatched the brilliant necklace studded with beautiful emeralds up in her hoof. "I knew it was here," she said smugly. This was Tamara's necklace, all right. Tabby didn't know exactly how it'd gotten under her bed, but she suspected Callie might have batted it under there in one of her playful spurts.

Tabby skimmed back down the stairs and out the front door, displaying the fine jewelry piece to Butch, who was still waiting outside. "Here. Tamara'll be eternally grateful to you if you give her this," she said triumphantly, handing it over to him.

Butch held it up in the light. "It's certainly pretty. Is it something you own?"

"Oh, no, it's actually Tamara's. But she lost it, and has been desperately searching for it for months. I just happened to run across it this morning," Tabby fibbed nonchalantly.

"You said something about her being at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe tonight?" Butch questioned, tucking the necklace away for safekeeping.

"She's meeting Tex there," Tabby clarified. "However, I know Tamara will get there earlier than Tex. She always does. You just have to make sure you give the necklace to her before Tex arrives, and he'll be the last stallion on her mind."

"And what time is ‘early'?" Butch furrowed his brow.

"Oh, probably five-twenty," Tabby assured him. "It'll work out great; you have nothing to fear."

"But what'll she do when Tex does get there?" Butch demanded.

"Don't worry; you'll have me backing you up," Tabby winked again, heading back up the porch steps.

Butch sighed. Somehow, that didn't exactly make him feel confident.

* * *

Butch arrived at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe at five-fifteen, to be on the safe side of catching Tamara early. He waited. And waited. And waited...

"Can I help you with anything?" Scoops finally questioned.

Butch shook his head. "No... I'm waiting for someone."

The clock on the wall finally hit five-thirty. Butch groaned. He knew he shouldn't have taken Tabby's advice... except for the necklace. Now, that might have been a good idea after all. He pulled it out and inspected it... and suddenly, he was aware of two ponies entering the shop.

"Oh, Tex, it was so nice of you to let me work with you at the salsa shop today," Tamara's voice bubbled excitedly.

"Next time, I'll let you try your hoof at actually mixing up a batch of salsa," Tex promised.

Butch stiffened. Now he knew he shouldn't have taken Tabby's advice. Tex and Tamara appeared not to notice him as they walked right by him on their way to a table. Butch glared at his arch-enemy from a distance while pondering what he was going to do to Tabby the next time he saw her.

However, he didn't get time to decide. At that moment, Tabby's piercingly-cheerful voice cut into his thoughts. "Hey-hey-hey, Butch! Whatcha doin' just hanging around, hmm?"

Butch cast the pink unicorn an annoyed glance. "Look for yourself," he muttered, pointing towards the booth Tamara and Tex had picked out.

"O-o-o-oh," Tabby nodded slowly in recognition. "Well, I told you to get here early."

"I did get here early," Butch hissed. "They got here together. Is that what you told me?!"

"Well," Tabby said after a pause, "I don't see why you can't still give the necklace to Tamara with Tex there. Why, you can even give him a piece of your mind while you're there!"

Butch glanced at her murderously. "Can I really listen to you this time?"

"Of course," Tabby said sweetly. "Tamara is my cousin. It'll work out great. Now, go!" She gave him an abrupt shove towards the booth. "And remember, I'll be here to back you up!" With another wink, she was quickly off to join up with the rest of the gang.

By this time, Tex and Tamara had noticed something was up. Butch put a stiff expression on his face as he realized it was too late to back out now. He began walking the rest of the short distance to the booth.

"Hello there on this fine evening, Tamara," Butch addressed Tabby's cousin. "I've been meaning to--"

Tamara swiveled her head around in surprise. "Butch? What are you doing here?"

"Yes," Tex said, eyeing Butch coolly, "do tell."

Ignoring Tex's comment, Butch looked towards Tamara and outstretched a hoof towards her, on which rested her beloved emerald necklace. "I found this, Tamara, and heard it belonged to you," he said cordially. "I thought you'd probably want it back."

Tamara squealed in delight. "My necklace! My lost necklace!" She primly took the item from Butch's hoof. "Butch, however did you find it?"

"Never mind about that," Butch said quickly. "Here, let me help fasten it." He came to Tamara's rescue as she was fumbling around with the necklace latch, and in a smooth motion secured the difficult fastener.

"And just how do we know you didn't get the necklace by... stealing?" Tex asked accusingly.

"What would I have to gain from stealing a necklace just to give it back to the owner?" Butch said icily.

Both stallions knew exactly what they would have to gain, but remained silent. Tamara gave them both a demure look. "Now, Tex," she said reprimandingly, "I wholeheartedly agree with Butch. There's no reason of blaming him of thievery when he never did anything in the first place. Butch, why don't you sit down?"

As Butch slipped into the seat next to Tamara, he realized Tabby had been right about the necklace-- he sure was winning Tamara over with it. Tex continued to glare at his foe.

Tamara was seemingly oblivious to the tension in the air. "Butch, I'm so glad you found my necklace for me." She looked at him adoringly. "How can I ever repay you?"

"Wait just a sec--" Tex started.

"All I ask is a date with you tomorrow night, Tamara," Butch said smoothly, chancing a triumphant glance at Tex.

"Name the time and the place, and I'll be there!" Tamara beamed.

Tex was in no position to say any more against Butch-- he couldn't risk having Tamara think even less of him then. He simply sank into a moody silence.

"Can you get to Wig Wam's casino in the evening... eight o' clock, let's say?" Butch went on.

"That sounds wonderful," Tamara gushed. "I've always wanted to go there... Tex never brought up the idea, though." She paused to look over at Tex meaningly. "Can you pick me up at my house, Butch?"

"Of course. I wouldn't do any less for such a fair lady as you," Butch said in a steady voice.

"Tamara," Tex interrupted, "I was taking you to the Estate Manor tomorrow night."

"Oh, you won't mind if I back out just this once, will you, Tex?" Tamara said in her sugary-sweet voice.

"Sure. Waste your time with that loser," Tex muttered to himself.

"What was that you just said?" Tamara asked sharply.

"Umm, nothing," Tex said quickly.

"I believe you were saying something degrading about Butch again," Tamara said primly. "Well, you'll just have to get over that. Butch, will you walk me home now?" She fluttered her eyelashes at the blue stallion.

"Why, certainly, Tamara." Butch took her hoof in his, and the two companionably exited the shop, leaving Tex alone at the table.

"He should have stayed in Bolivia after I'd dealt with him," Tex scowled.

* * *

Late the next afternoon, Tabby was in the middle of a strange scene in her living room; she was surrounded by creatures of all sorts: a cream-colored cat walking upright on his hind legs; a small blue ball-shaped creature with long, green leaves apparently sprouted out of its head; a sphere-shaped pink animal with large, blue eyes; and a dainty, pale pink cat.

No, it wasn't an alien invasion; these were just her Pokčmon. In previous months, she had kept them in PokčBalls most of the time; however, Tabby had discovered how fun it was just to sit down and have a conversation with all of them. Tabby was currently shrieking with laughter over a story she was telling them. "...so, Clever Clover answered that Friendly was..."

All the Pokčmon were chortling with laughter after hearing the full account. That's the way to deal with salesmen! Oddish said in her own Pokčmon-language, which Tabby could easily understand now.

Tabby, you've been very secretive over something since last night. What's up? Mew questioned, abruptly changing the subject.

"Secretive?" Tabby opened her eyes wide in innocence. "What do you mean by that?"

Mew's right, Oddish agreed. You keep grinning to yourself for no reason. You always do that when you have something up your sleeve.

"I suppose I can confide in you guys," Tabby said reluctantly. "Just don't tell anybody else-- why, if Sugarberry found out, I know she'd be disappointed in me." She paused. "Well, I guess I've already done a zillion things she didn't approve of; but, that's not the point--"

What is the point? Jigglypuff demanded.

"It's simply to uphold the good family name," Tabby explained.

Tarquin groaned. "Tabby, does this have anything to do with the fact that Tamara is going out with Butch tonight?" (Tarquin was Tabby's only Pokčmon who could speak English.)

"I'm only getting Tamara to forget about Tex, lest he somehow get on my family tree," Tabby said in defense.

O-oh! Clever idea, if I know what you're talking about! Mew said excitedly.

"I just know it'll work out for me," Tabby said confidently.

What about for Tamara? Jigglypuff prodded.

"It'll work out for her, too," Tabby assured him. "She'll be better off with Butch. He's a zillion times better than Tex."

If you think so highly of Butch, maybe you should be the one to start dating him, Oddish tittered.

Tabby gave Oddish a sharp glance. "I would never--"

"--because you're already in love with Thomas," Tarquin finished for her.

"Hmpf." Tabby simply tossed her mane back as she got up from her seat on the couch. "Come to the kitchen, guys. We must prepare our own supper tonight, as Sugarberry isn't home this evening."

Are you going to ruin the main course like you did last time? Jigglypuff couldn't help but ask.

"No," Tabby said confidently, "because we're going to have cold, leftover chicken."

* * *

"Next time I should leave more leftovers," Tabby sighed a little later as she and her Pokčmon made their way to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.

Oddish stole half my piece, Jigglypuff complained.

That's because my piece was very small, Oddish defended herself.

And that's because there was not enough leftover chicken for all of us, Mew finished.

"I'm sorry..." Tabby apologized.

It's okay, Oddish consoled her. We're just glad you're buying us all ice cream to make up for it.

"Well, yes, it's the least I can do," Tabby agreed.

Why, look! Mew suddenly exclaimed excitedly. Up ahead! I believe it's a Hitmonlee!

"A Hitmonlee?" Tabby gasped. Why, yes, ahead of them on their path-- walking the same direction they were-- was a muscular brown figure, similar to a human in shape, but with a rounded upper torso that engulfed his head.

He has his back turned to us, Jigglypuff added. Let's get in a quick surprise attack.

"Right!" Tabby nodded her head quickly in agreement. "Tarquin, go get hi--" She paused. "Wait, no, Tarkie. You're weak to fighting."

Decide quick, Oddish urged. He might get away, or else notice us and get in the first kick.

Tabby, however, stopped in silence for several more moments. "Mew, you go get him!" she finally decided. "He ought to be weak to psychic-types like you."

What attack should I use on him first? Mew questioned, eyeing her opponent.

"Umm... umm... just use your strongest funny mysterious psychic power!" Tabby exclaimed suddenly. "Just do something, Mew! He's almost out of sight!"

"All right..." Mew started floating towards the tough-looking Pokčmon. However, just then he turned, showing his large, beady black eyes.

"So much for the surprise attack," Tarquin gulped.

"Hit... mon... lee!" the Pokčmon cried, leaping towards Mew with a long leg outstretched, prepared to kick out at her.

Mew, agile as she was, expertly jumped out of the way. She floated silently in air, appearing to be concentrating heavily on something.

Yeah! Go, Mew! Oddish cheered.

You can knock ‘im out! Jigglypuff cried.

"What's she doing?" Tabby asked softly, eyeing her Mew.

"Preparing to attack, I think," Tarquin said.

Just as Hitmonlee was preparing to attack again, he was suddenly surrounded by a strange, purple glow. Confusion showed in his eyes as he was suddenly lifted into the air, unable to move.

Mew patiently remained in her present position with her eyes closed. All of a sudden, the purple aura that surrounded Hitmonlee began to suddenly move him backwards. He hit hard into a large tree-trunk, and dropped to the ground. His eyes slowly closed. "Mon... lee..." he murmured weakly.

Catch him, now! Mew instructed, opening her eyes.

"Here goes nothing..." Tabby took out an empty PokčBall and aimed to throw it at the still form of the Hitmonlee. It hit him straight on the head, and he was engulfed in the strange red glow which emanated from the ball. He disappeared into it in a blinding flash of light.

Tabby watched in apprehension as the ball slowly tottered around over the ground, a red light still showing on it. The light finally shut off. "I got a Hitmonlee!" she cried jubilantly, running towards the PokčBall and picking it up in her hoof. "I never really thought about wanting one; but, hey, I'm not complainin'!"

It was a simple task, Mew said modestly.

"And now that he's mine," Tabby said happily, "I'll get him out again so we can all get acquainted." She held the PokčBall high. "Alright, Hitmonlee, come on out!"

The brown fighting Pokčmon reappeared in another flash of red light. "Hitmonlee," he said grudgingly.

"Aw, it's okay," Tabby said, patting her new Pokčmon on the back. "You'll do fine with me as your trainer."

Hitmonlee still looked rather gloomy; but, he did know that he had been fairly defeated and walked along with Tabby and the rest of the Pokčmon as they continued their journey to get to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.

"So, Mr. Hitmonlee, what were ya doin' out in Dream Valley?" Tabby asked cheerfully.

"Monlee," he replied regretfully.

"Gosh!" Tabby said in surprise. To Tarquin, she whispered, "What'd he say? I haven't picked up on the Hitmonlee language yet, ya know."

"He said... he said he was on his way to get ice cream," Tarquin translated in surprise.

"Hit... mon," Hitmonlee nodded.

Why, Hitmonlee, this is the best thing in the world that could have happened to you! Oddish exclaimed.

That's exactly where we were headed when we ran across you-- to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe, Mew added.

"Hitmon?" The Pokčmon apparently perked up.

And Tabby goes there every night, Oddish went on. If you like the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe, Tabby's the perfect trainer for you!

"Hitmonlee! Hitmonlee!" he exclaimed joyously. "Hitmon! Hitmonlee!"

"Yep, I think we're going to get along quite well," Tabby said to her new Hitmonlee. "Why, here we are already at the good ol' Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe!"

And so, the rather mish-matched group entered the shop-- chicken leftovers and Mews getting in the way of ice cream forgotten.

* * *

However, another soul already in the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe was not happy at all. Tex gloomily stared down into his ice cream. There was no Tamara to share the evening with tonight. And all because of that Butch, he thought bitterly to himself. As if he hasn't done enough already, and now he has to go and try to steal Tamara from me.

Tex was just about to come across a valuable ally in his new battle against Butch, though. As it happened, Tiffany passed by the table he was sitting at right then. "Good evening, Tex," she greeted him cordially. "Tamara running late tonight?"

"She's off with Butch..." Tex mumbled.

"Butch?" Tiffany's eyes flew wide open. "Butch? What is she doing with Butch?"

Tex scowled. "They're at Wig Wam's casino."

Tiffany was still a bit shocked over this piece of news, and took the liberty of taking the seat across from Tex. "Now, how did it happen that Tamara decided to go with Butch tonight?" she demanded.

"Well, he stopped by our table last night, and gave her that necklace she'd lost," Tex sighed. "That really won her over; and, well, now she's at the casino with him."

"Something has got to be done about this," Tiffany said firmly. "Tamara can't end up with Butch. She just can't! Why, Butch, he just-- he just lives in a dilapidated shack in the forest." She shuddered at the thought. "We can't let Tamara get involved with someone like this."

"I already know that," Tex said regretfully.

"Since she is an honorary princess, it would make all of us princesses look terrible if word gets out one of us is seeing a shady stallion from the Dark Forest!" Tiffany continued.

"I remember the night she was declared a princess." Tex smiled at the memory.

Tiffany was silent for several moments, thinking. "Now, you say they're at Wig Wam's casino," she finally said. "Has Tamara ever mentioned that place before?"

"No," Tex shook his head. "She did hint last night, though, that she'd always wanted to go there."

"Then, I think the course of action is obvious," Tiffany declared. "You must top whatever Butch does."

"And how do I do that?" Tex demanded.

"Buy her a necklace that's even better and more expensive than the one Butch gave back to her last night," Tiffany started.

"That'll win her back?" Tex asked skeptically.

"You'll have to go further than that," Tiffany continued. "Fly her to Las Vegas for the weekend."

"Las Vegas?" Tex echoed.

"Of course," Tiffany said knowledgeably. "If she likes gambling, she'll have even more of a blast in Las Vegas than at Wig Wam's little place."

"Tiffany, you're exactly right!" Tex exclaimed. "That's great advice. Butch won't be able to beat that! I've really got to look into this now. Good evening!" With that, he abruptly got up from his chair and left the shop.

"I can pick a necklace out for her, if you'd like," Tiffany called after him. "You can just pay me back later."

"Yes, do that, please!" Tex replied, stepping out the door.

* * *

Early the next morning, while Tabby was still preparing for work, the doorbell rang. Tabby set down her hairbrush. Who could it be at this time of day? she mused to herself as she trotted downstairs to the door. Unless Sugarberry has found out about my scheme and has come to... Tabby gulped at the thought.

Luckily for Tabby, however, it was only the mysterious cloaked flower deliverer standing on the porch. "A delivery for Miss Tamara," the figure said simply as he pulled a long, white box from a concealed place in his cloak.

"Tamara, eh?" Tabby mused as she took the white floral box from him. The flower deliverer gave a quick nod and disappeared from the porch and into his delivery cart in the blink of an eye. Tabby didn't think anything of this; she had gotten used to his mysterious ways.

Walking back into the house and closing the door, Tabby couldn't resist looking into the box to see who had sent the flowers. She was hoping it was Butch.

Lifting off the lid revealed a large bouquet of brilliantly-colored chrysanthemums. Tabby skimmed over the attached card and smiled in satisfaction. Yes, they were from Butch as a gift to Tamara.

Tabby quickly put the card and lid back in place as she heard Tamara's hoofsteps coming down the stairs. "Was that the doorbell I heard?" Tamara questioned, yawning.

"Ah, yes. The flower deliverer dropped off these for you," Tabby explained, shoving the box into Tamara's hooves, and waiting around expectantly.

"Oh? Flowers?" Tamara's ears perked up as she peeked into the box. "Aren't they beautiful?" she gasped, pulling the bouquet up into the air.

"Who'd you get them from?" Tabby prodded. She had to find out what Tamara's opinion on Butch was by now.

"Butch," Tamara replied dreamily, sticking her nose into the bouquet and inhaling deeply.

"Butch? Is that who you were with last night?" Tabby interrogated.

"Yes. We had a wonderful time at Wig Wam's casino," Tamara sighed happily. "I'm not a half-bad gambler."

"Mmm," Tabby said thoughtfully. "What's with seeing Butch all of a sudden?"

"I've only gone out with him once, Tabby," Tamara said primly. "Although... he is rather fun to be with." She let out a high-pitched giggle.

"We'll just see how long it takes until you get sick of him," Tabby said in a bored tone.

" ‘Get sick of him'!" Tamara sniffed. "Oh, Tabitha!"

Tabby just retreated to the kitchen. She hoped her taunting would have the desired effect. Now that Tamara thought Tabby believed her obsession with Butch wouldn't last long, Tamara was bound to stick with him longer!

* * *

"You will never guess where I'm going, Tabitha! You'll just never guess!" Tamara squealed in an over-excited tone as her cousin got back home from the Pokčmon Center.

Tabby paused for several moments, thinking. She hated questions like that. "Just tell me," she finally said, impatiently.

"Tex just came over and said he's taking me to Las Vegas for the weekend!" Tamara exclaimed.

"Tex?" Tabby opened her eyes wide. "Las Vegas?"

"Yes! Oh, this is just so thrilling, I can't stand it--"

"That is one of my lines," Tabby informed her loftily. "Don't use it too often."

Tamara raised an eyebrow. "I had no idea you had your lines copyrighted, Tabitha."

"You're not going to do anything... rash there, are you?" Tabby gulped.

" ‘Rash'?" Tamara raised as eyebrow. "What do you mean by that?"

"Anything besides... gambling?" Tabby squeaked.

Tamara eyed her cousin strangely. "We'll eat, of course. Anyway--" She reverted back to her high-pitched voice. "--I must go and call Tiffany and all the other princesses and-- well, anybody else I can think of-- right away!" Tamara giddily ran into the living room.

With Tamara out of her sight, Tabby stood in the hallway for several moments, waiting for her heart to stop beating so hard. Tex, taking her to Las Vegas for a weekend? Tex hadn't been that jealous of Butch taking Tamara out that one night, had he? They weren't going to get married in Las Vegas, were they?

Tabby scurried into the kitchen. Tamara hadn't sounded as if she was hiding something, but you never knew. She must try to do something! Tarquin was already in the kitchen, checking on the supply of cherry pie filling. Normally, this was the time of day Tabby would get all her Pokčmon out, but she was too annoyed with Tex at the moment. However, she had an idea.

"Tarquin," she said to her Meowth sweetly, "I need your help."

Tarquin quickly slammed shut a cupboard door and jumped down to the ground. "What with this time?" he queried.

"With the Tamara scheme," Tabby explained quickly. "Tex is taking her to Las Vegas for the weekend and we must do something about it!!"

"Oh," Tarquin nodded knowledgeably. "Want me to claw him over the face or something?"

"Hmm, that might work, but not now-- it might get complicated," Tabby considered. "I want you to go talk to Tamara's Persian while she's busy on the phone-- while Tamara's busy on the phone, that is."

"I can do that..." Tarquin said thoughtfully. "What am I supposed to say?"

"You must convince her to convince Tamara that she must not go with Tex to Las Vegas-- or anywhere, after this-- at any cost," Tabby said. "Persian doesn't like Tex much either, you know."

"Alright, I'll try." Tarquin noticed the urgency in his trainer's voice and slipped out of the kitchen and up the stairs to Tamara's room (formerly his room) where Persian always hung out.

"Persian?" Tarquin said quietly as he discreetly entered the room.

The sleek white cat Pokčmon was napping on the windowsill. What do you ask of me this time? she yawned in her Pokčmon-speech while lazily opening an eye.

"We know you don't like Tex all that well," Tarquin began.

He is a low-class peasant. I have no need to be bothered with talk of him, Persian said in dismissal.

"But what about talk of getting him out of the picture?" Tarquin said coaxingly.

That I might listen to. Persian elegantly leaped onto the soft carpeting of the room. You have a plan?

"Tabby has a plan," Tarquin corrected. "The plan is for Tamara to begin seeing Butch and forget about Tex."

Interesting prospect, Persian purred. Tamara was talking to herself about a certain Butch last night. Exactly what would I do?

"Tex doesn't like the fact of Butch intruding on his territory, and is taking Tamara to Las Vegas for the weekend," Tarquin supplied.

Las Vegas... Tamara did not mention anything of marriage, did she? Persian questioned.

"Well... I don't know. That's why it's necessary that you try to convince her that Butch is better than Tex."

Very well, Persian concluded. I shall try to get across to Tamara. Please leave me in peace now; the afternoon rays of sun are fast disappearing and I cannot afford to miss my sun-bathing today. In a fluid motion, she jumped back into the windowsill and made herself comfortable, obviously closing the conversation.

Tarquin shrugged and walked downstairs to update Tabby. He had tried, and hopefully Persian would, too.

* * *

"I'm leaving for Vegas tomorrow with Tex!" Tamara squealed to Persian later that night as she hunted through her closet. "This will be one fantastic weekend!"

Persian snootily stuck her nose in the air in distaste and walked away from Tamara, trying to get her message across: You needn't waste time with that stallion.

"I'll have to take all my best jewelry... and make-up," Tamara hummed to herself happily.

"Per-sian!" Persian yowled.

Tamara glanced over at her Pokčmon. "I hope you're not going to start screaming like that as a habit."

Persian ground her teeth. It was a simple message: Tex is boring!

"I do hope Tabby will take good care of you while I'm gone," Tamara said, flopping down on her bed. "And please don't pick up any bad habits from that Tarquin. That's not where you're getting the yowling from, is it?"

Persian let out a low growl. "Per-per-sian." Listen to Tabby. Tex is evil. And if you marry him, I'm going to scratch you over the face.

"Goodnight, Persian," was all Tamara said as she switched off her bedside lamp.

Sometimes... Persian muttered under her breath.

* * *

The weekend passed slowly for Butch, and quickly for Tabby. Butch was depressed from having Tamara gone. Tabby had convinced herself that Tamara was not planning on marrying Tex in Las Vegas, so she busied herself hanging out with the rest of the gang in the Bushwoolie holes watching Friendly play computer games, or else bragging about her new Hitmonlee. Why, she'd almost forgotten about the current situation with Tex and Butch.

That is, until Tamara got home late Sunday evening. She was flushed with excitement as she came home that night, lugging her suitcase. She was bubbling over with details to Tabby as soon as she walked in the door. Tabby went quite pale in the face, desperately hoping Tamara had no earth-shattering news to share.

"My room in the hotel was positively spacious, Tabby! You wouldn't believe the space. I simply adore big-city living-- not that I don't like Dream Valley, of course. Gambling the days away..." Tamara's eyes got a far-off, dreamy look on her face. "...with Tex by my side." (Author's note-- Tex and Tamara were not sharing a room. They each had one of their own.)

"Eh... eh... oh, for Pete's sake, Tamara, you didn't marry Tex, did you?!" Tabby finally came straight-out and demanded.

"You do get the strangest delusions, Tabitha," Tamara sighed.

Tabby smiled to herself. At least that was cleared up now, and she could go back to her regular taunting. "Las Vegas is so... is so... is so..." Tabby groped for the right word.

"Busy? Fascinating? Wonderful?" Tamara supplied.

"It's so... un-classy," Tabby frowned. "I can't believe you spent a weekend there."

Tamara gave her cousin a disapproving look. "I suppose to you ‘class' is the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe," she sniffed.

"Well, obviously," Tabby said promptly.

"I suppose I won't give you all the details, as you wouldn't appreciate it," Tamara sighed. "I'll just have to wait until tomorrow when I can visit Tiffany. Oh! You wouldn't believe the necklace Tex gave me! Did you see it yet?" Tamara lifted a stunningly bright chain off her neck. "Isn't that the most beautiful thing you ever saw?!"

Tabby looked at the ruby-and-diamond encrusted gold chain, and was unimpressed. "That just plain emerald one you have looks better," was all she said.

"Well, yes, that one's nice and all," Tamara said neutrally, "but..." She suddenly sighed dreamily. "Oh, I remember the other night when Butch returned it to me. It was so considerate of him, don't you think?"

"Actually, it was," Tabby said in full agreement. "It's a lot more considerate to return a lost one than to just buy a new one."

"Maybe you're right..." Tamara murmured. "I'll have to get in touch with Butch tomorrow, too..."

* * *

"Butch," Tabby hissed into the phone receiver once Tamara had gone up to her room, "she's back!"

"Finally!" Butch said in relief. "It seemed like weeks without her."

"It was only two days; but that's bad enough, because she was with Tex all that time. She says she's going to get in touch with you tomorrow."

"Where should I take her next?" Butch asked anxiously. "Where would she like to go? You should know."

"Take her... take her to see Star Wars Episode One!" Tabby said triumphantly, after a pause. "That outta still be playing in theaters. And better send some more flowers."

"Will do," Butch said breathlessly, quickly hanging up.

Tabby yawned. Perhaps she would have a conversation with her Pokčmon, thought it was already late it night. She quickly had them all gathered in the living room.

"How much longer do you suppose it'll be until Tex gives up on Tamara?" Tabby mused.

He won't give up too easily, Oddish predicted.

"I thought that's what you'd say," Tabby frowned.

Think about it, Mew added. If someone wanted one of your plush Tea Bunnies, you wouldn't part with them after even two offers, would you?

"Well... no," Tabby said, after pausing to meditate on that fact. She sighed. "You're right. It does take a lot of work to uphold the family name."

"We've all got villains on our family tree, I'm sure," Tarquin said in consolation.

"That may be so," Tabby said in a sudden burst of energy, "but I won't give up without a fight, either!"

* * *

While eating supper the next evening-- she hadn't seen Tamara at all in the morning-- Tabby noticed a note on her refrigerator:

Tabby, gone to a movie with Butch. Will be back later. By the way, I got another bouquet, and set it up in the entryway with the other. Tah-tah! Tamara

"Very good," Tabby said in satisfaction, and looked around at all the Pokčmon seated there as well. "Two bouquets and two dates with Butch, and only one weekend with Tex."

It will be interesting to see how this turns out, Oddish commented.

"It'll turn out just right," Tabby assured them all for the millionth time, and then got up from her chair. "Ahh, there's the doorbell. I hope it isn't Tex dropping by to see Tamara..."

She apprehensively opened the door. It was... the mysterious cloaked flower deliverer? Again?

"A delivery for Miss Tamara," the cloaked human figure said, as he always did; and handed over the long white box, as he always did; and disappeared back into his cart, as he always did.

"They're from Tex," Tabby moaned, taking the liberty of lifting the flowers from the box instead of Tamara.

Tarquin had followed after her. "Hide them, so she never sees them," he suggested.

"If Fluff were my cat, I could just have him eat them," Tabby mused, but then shuddered. "...and then he'd throw-up..."

"I'll stick them under the couch for now," Tabby said, heading towards the living room, "and dispose of them better later." With this deed done, she trotted back to the kitchen. "Come on, guys, into your PokčBalls! I do regret not being able to take you to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe every night, but..."

* * *

"What were you doing tonight?" Tabby asked, as usual, as soon as Tamara entered the front door later that evening.

"With Butch..." Tamara smiled. "He took me to see that new Star Wars movie."

"You hadn't seen it before tonight?" Tabby yawned. "I did months ago, with Spike n' Cleve Clove n' Friendly n'--"

"I've never been that into sci-fi," Tamara said, interrupting Tabby, "but with Butch by my side, the movie was so exciting. He even held my hoof." She sighed dreamily.

"I'm getting sick of your dreamy sighs," Tabby sighed in annoyance.

"And I'm getting sick of your sighs of annoyance," Tamara responded, walking towards the living room.

Tabby's eyes immediately opened wide. She hoped Tamara didn't notice anything out-of-place in there... she had meant to find a better hiding place for the flowers before now, but she'd forgotten...

It was too late. Tamara had stooped down next to the couch and was extracting the flower box from underneath. "What in the world did you stash down here?" she sighed in exasperation.

It is so interesting, Tabby thought to herself, how very many kinds of sighs there are. There are dreamy sighs, annoyed sighs, exasperated sighs, happy sighs, sad sighs, surprised sighs, bored sighs-- She was suddenly snapped back into her present dilemma. "Wait, wait!" she cried, dashing over to snatch the flower box from Tamara. "Those are private papers of mine inside," she said defensively.

Tamara made a grab back for the box and swiftly opened it. "Hmm, they look a lot like flowers," she mused, suspiciously glancing at Tabby. "Not like personal papers at all. Especially this card attached that reads from Tex to Tamara..."

"Well, I thought that's what was in it..." Tabby said, attempting to sound innocent, but she knew her cousin had her cornered.

"Next time, don't let me catch you messing with my flowers," Tamara said calmly, walking into the main hallway with the box.

Tabby sighed. She wished the box hadn't stuck out from under the couch like that...

A few moments later, she heard a shriek come from Tamara. "Tabitha! That scuzzy barn cat of yours was nibbling the leaves off my first bouquet!" she screamed.

Tabby rushed to her cat's rescue. "She's not a scuzzy barn cat," she said defensively, "and she was only eating those leaves for dessert."

"She is not be caught eating leaves or flowers again," Tamara said coolly, setting up Tex's bouquet next to the first two from Butch. Then she stormed off up the stairs.

"Callie," Tabby said, stroking her fluffy cat as she made her way into the living room, "you can nibble on Tex's bouquet; just not Butch's, okay?"

* * *

Tiffany had invited Tex over to the Royal Paradise that same evening to scheme over Butch. "Tamara has still not been repelled by his lack of good upbringing, has she?" she questioned of Tex.

"I'm afraid not," Tex sighed.

"Taking her to a movie is so lower-classed," Tiffany sniffed. "I know what she'd really enjoy."

"What's that?" Tex asked eagerly. He was always willing to take advice from Tiffany on this latest dilemma.

"There's a traveling orchestra group coming through Dream Valley tomorrow night," Tiffany advised him. "The tickers were hot sellers, but I managed to get two for myself." She extracted two slips of paper from her purse.

"Tamara would love an orchestra performance!" Tex said breathlessly. "Aren't there any tickets available now?"

"Unfortunately, no," Tiffany told him. "However... I would be willing to sell these two to you for the price I paid," she added quickly.

"You're a great help, Tiffany!" Tex exclaimed. "I know Tamara'll see Butch's true side sooner or later."

"But we can't let her forget about you in the meantime," Tiffany added. "In fact, since I know it's for a good cause, I could give you a slight discount on the price of these tickets. Of course, it'd be a good idea to send another bouquet to her, but even better than the one you sent earlier today..."

* * *

Tabby's head was spinning a bit all throughout the following week. Butch had started off with taking Tamara to Wig Wam's casino; then Tex took her to Las Vegas. Butch took her to Episode One, but Tex got his hooves on some tickets to a fancy orchestra. Then the bowling alley. Then dinner at the Estate Manor. Then a swim at the river. Then a trip to the Dream Valley Water Park...

Of course, the flowers hadn't stopped coming, either. Tex had topped Butch's chrysanthemums with dahlias. Butch had topped Tex's dahlias with hydrangeas. Then Tex went with calla lilies. Butch went with sweet peas, Tex with gladiolus. Next, Butch sent roses. Red roses.

"How will they top roses, Sugarberry?" Tabby commented to her friend one evening when she was visiting.

"I think we're about to find out," Sugarberry noted, glancing out the window and seeing the mysterious cloaked flower deliverer's cart parked outside.

Tabby sighed. This had been a regular practice for the past six days. A bouquet in the morning, and another in the evening. It was expected of Tabby to immediately set them up in the main hallway.

"It's beginning to look like a funeral parlor in here," Tabby said cheerfully, adding the latest addition-- yellow roses (to match Tamara's "beautiful eyes") from Tex-- to the display.

"Oh, no, it looks bright and cheerful!" Sugarberry exclaimed. "I'd love a room in my house to look like this!"

Tabby stood back and surveyed the effect. "Bright and cheerful on the outside, yes. But the ulterior motive under it all is war."

"War over a single unicorn," Sugarberry nodded in agreement. "But still, the flowers are pretty..."

Tabby hummed to herself as she trotted over to her bookshelf and extracted a volume. "We," she declared, "shall consult in here and see what would top yellow roses."

The book Tabby had picked was the Anne of Green Gables Treasury, which had a chapter in it soley devoted to flowers and their meanings in Anne's time. "Great idea!" Sugarberry exclaimed, and looked over Tabby's shoulder as she read.

" ‘Pink roses are love hopeful and expectant,' Tabby quoted from the book. " ‘White roses are love dead or forsaken'. Red roses are ‘love triumphant'."

"Tamara already got red roses," Sugarberry mused, "and you can't really get better than ‘love triumphant'."

"And they said nothing of yellow roses, which Tex just sent." Tabby slammed the book shut and replaced it on the shelf.

"It's what's in the heart of the giver, and not the meaning in a book," Sugarberry reminded Tabby.

"Oh! Oh! Tamara's home!" Tabby squealed, hearing the front door open.

"Since when are you so overjoyed at Tamara getting home?" Sugarberry asked, eyeing her friend suspiciously.

Tabby swallowed and tried to look intelligent. She had forgotten that Sugarberry hadn't managed to find out about her little scheme yet-- and Tabby certainly didn't want to give it away now! "Oh, I just have to ask her something," she replied primly.

Sugarberry wasn't completely satisfied with this reply, but kept quiet. Tamara was now in the house, admiring her latest bouquet. "Oh! Yellow roses! To match my eyes! Isn't that sweet of Tex?" she cooed to her cousin.

"Red roses are better than yellow," Tabby said bluntly. "Besides," she added slyly, "red matches your mane."

Tamara extracted one of the yellow roses from the bouquet and wandered down the hallway, clutching it in her hoof. "Oh, but the yellow seems to have so much more meaning."

Tabby was somewhat infuriated that Tamara still seemed to be preferring Tex this late in the deal, but kept her mouth shut from any further comments. Butch would win her over-- she was still certain of that!

All of a sudden, the doorbell rang. This doorbell ringing was really getting on Tabby's nerves, having to listen to it at least twice a day for a straight week. "Tamara, you get it," she said simply, stalking into the living room. Sugarberry followed after.

"Something seems to be on your mind, Tabby," Sugarberry prodded, taking a seat in one of the chairs.

"I am just sick of ringing doorbells," Tabby snapped, and continued on without thinking. "And scheming for Butch. For Pete's sake, can't he come up with any ideas on his own?!"

Sugarberry's eyes flew open. " ‘Scheming for Butch'? Tabby, are you the one that started this war?"

"Butch did," Tabby went on fluently. She felt like ranting and raving, after keeping all this a secret from her best friend for this eternity. "But I only helped him along for the sake of the family name."

"The good Fershund name, huh?" Sugarberry rolled her eyes. "I think I see the basic outline of the plot."

"However," Tabby hissed, "Tamara is still leaning towards Tex. And I simply can't bear to think of-- possibly--" She shuddered in mid-sentence. "--him being on my family tree someday."

"It would be a tragedy, I'm sure," Sugarberry agreed, humoring her friend.

"You're just saying that to make me feel better," Tabby scowled.

"You are caught in the most interesting plots," Sugarberry said in amusement, "but some things are just better not messed with, no matter the cost to your family tree."

* * *

Meanwhile, Tamara was oblivious to Tabby spilling out her whole under-hoofed plot, and was heading towards the door. She opened it slowly and lady-like, and was a bit surprised by who was waiting on the doorstep. Butch and Tex.

"We both arrived here at the same time," Butch explained curtly, glaring at Tex.

"Well... why don't the two of you come in?" Tamara said brightly, not forgetting her manners... whatever the situation.

"Butch, I only have to see Tamara for a minute," Tex said steadily, "if you'd be so kind."

"Of course," Butch muttered, his eyes staring straight at the ground.

"Why, certainly, Tex," Tamara invited him in, still holding one of the yellow roses. "What is it you have to see me about?" She closed the door securely behind him.

There were several eavesdroppers on Tex and Tamara's conversation, however. Butch found he could hear what they were saying by just putting his ear up against the door.

Tabby was still ranting on about all the details of her wonderful plan to Sugarberry when she abruptly turned towards the entrance to the living room. "Who is that at the door, anyway?" she muttered somewhat to herself, peeking around the corner and into the hallway.

"Who is it?" Sugarberry asked curiously.

Tabby made a sour face. "Tex," she whispered. "Don't make so much noise. I've got to find out what they're saying."

Sugarberry shrugged. This scheme of Tabby's would disappear in a puff of smoke soon, she predicted. Taking a stance similar to her friend's, they both inconspicuously listened in.

"I see you got my roses," Tex commented, staring at the one in Tamara's hoof.

"Oh, yes... and they're... beautiful," Tamara stuttered, blushing.

"What I wanted to say, Tamara, is..." Tex cleared his throat.

"What is it?" Tamara looked at him expectantly.

"Well... that is... if you like Butch that much, that's okay, and I'll leave you alone," Tex said in a rush. "And I'll fend for myself."

Tamara's heart was extremely softened by Butch's great sacrifice... and the bouquet of roses that matched her eyes, that is. All of a sudden it hit her that she wouldn't be able to stand giving up Tex... certainly, Butch was nice and all, but he wasn't Tex. And Tex was... Tex was... "Oh, Tex!" she said in a sudden burst of sentimentality. "Don't even think about it! I would never dump you for Butch!"

"You wouldn't?" Tex looked relieved and puzzled at the same time.

"Well, it just came to me now, but it's true!" With that, Tamara threw her forelegs around Tex's neck. "You're a zillion times better than Butch!"

"There she goes, stealing my lines again," Tabby hissed to Sugarberry.

"Well... I'm flattered," Tex finally said, still amazed at how easy it had been to win Tamara back.

"I'm never going to think about Butch again!" Tamara declared.

"That's wonderful and all, but he's standing on your front porch," Tex said slowly.

"That's my front porch, loser," Tabby whispered venomously.

"That's right; I am," a new voice rang out in the hall. Butch threw open the door. "Tamara, is this what you'd planned all from the start? To humiliate me like this in front of Tex?"

"She has every right to change her mind," Tex retorted, turning to stare at his enemy.

"I really hate war zones," Tabby sighed, "especially when they're in my house."

"Do you really suppose we should be eavesdropping any more?" Sugarberry asked quietly.

Tabby shrugged. "Butch was. I don't see why we shouldn't."

Tamara gasped slightly. "Oh! Butch! I didn't know you were... listening."

"I was listening, all right," Butch hissed, "and I think it's just plain cruel of you to have led a guy on like this."

"That's not what I was planning," Tamara said after a pause, "and it's not that I don't like you or anything, but..."

"She doesn't need to explain everything to you," Tex came to Tamara's defense, "and if you stand here one more second throwing insults at her, I'm going to--"

"Oh, for Pete's sake," Tabby muttered. "I am going to go out there and whack him over the head pretty soon."

"I don't see why I'd want to hang around any longer," Butch retorted, "now that Tamara has shown her true side to me." With that, he stomped out the door.

With that taken care of, Tamara turned to Tex and batted her eyelashes. "Tex, that was so brave of you," she cooed.

"I knew you'd find out sooner or later that Butch was nothing but trouble," Tex said in satisfaction. "Tamara, would you like to go to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe with me?"

Tamara giggled. "Why, of course, Tex. I'd love that." And so, the once-again happy couple proceeded out the door.

"I think," Tabby said slowly, getting up and stretching after staying in that crouched position for so long, "that Butch had better get ready to send some white roses out."

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