Disclaimers:  I don’t own anything.  I didn’t create any of the characters.  They’re being used here for nonprofit entertainment
purposes only.  Please don’t sue me.  I don’t have any money.  Actually, I did create two characters, Damen and Tessa, but I
can’t tell you who they are, since that would give away part of the story.  And Jessie and James’s pasts are totally from my
imagination.  

Author’s comments:  This story is in both Jessie and James’s perspectives and for a short time, Misty’s.  Each time I changed
perspectives I started a new chapter, so that it wouldn’t be too confusing.  But sometimes when I started a new chapter, the
perspective stayed the same.  I hope it doesn’t get confusing.  This is my first attempt at a fanfic, so forgive me if it’s terrible.





The Past Haunts Us Forever




James sat alone by the campfire, poking at the fire with a stick.  Team Twerp had gotten away again and Jessie was mad at
him for ruining another plan, when it wasn’t his fault.  How was he supposed to know that Meowth had forgotten to plant one
of the explosive charges in the ground and had left it in the basket of the balloon?  It wasn’t his fault that squinty-eyed guy
used his vulpix against them.  And it wasn’t his fault that the flames set off the explosives and sent them blasting off.  Sure,
when they finally crashed, he landed on top of her, but that wasn’t his fault either.  It really pained him that Jessie was angry
at him.  It was almost more than he could bear.  Seeing Jessie angry always hurt him terribly.  He did love her after all.

He looked around at his friends, wondering what they were doing.  Meowth was polishing his charm for the hundredth time,
and Jessie was sitting on her sleeping bag, running a brush through her luxurious red hair.  How James loved looking at her.  
Her blue eyes showed her strength, her intelligence, to anyone that was lucky enough to be allowed to gaze into them.  Her
skin was creamy and unmarred by imperfections.  She was beautiful.  No, beautiful wasn’t a strong enough word for what
James saw when he looked at Jessie.  

When he was with her, he felt alive.  When she wasn’t there, it was like a part of his very soul was missing.  But he’d never
tell her how he felt, never let her know how much her words hurt him when she yelled.  He knew that she thought he was just
a stupid fool, someone that never did anything right.  And who could blame her.  They’d never been successful at a plan, not
once since that twerp always stopped them somehow.  They’d never caught that stupid pikachu, and sometimes it was James’
s fault.

She could never love him like he loved her.  So he wouldn’t tell her.  He wouldn’t risk the pain that would come from her
saying that she didn’t feel the same.  Or worse, she could tell him that it was too awkward for them to be around each other,
that she felt uncomfortable when he was there.  That would definitely be worse.  If Jessie asked him to leave, his life would be
over.  She was the only person he truly cared about.  She had been for the longest time.  Without her, his life had no meaning.  
Everything he had ever done since meeting her, had been for her.  He followed her wherever she went, not only to be near her,
but to keep her from being alone.  He never wanted her to be alone again, not like she had been before they met.

James knew about her past.  She had told him one night.  She had been raised in poverty by a single mother, her father having
run off shortly after her birth.  Jessie’s life had been hard.  James had felt ashamed of his own childhood, growing up with all
that money, when Jessie had nothing.

He remembered the night when she told him and being so happy when she finally opened up to him.  She trusted him with her
story.  He wished he could have told her his story, about his past.  Sure, Jessie had met his parents and Jessiebelle, but she
didn’t know the whole story, and James couldn’t bring himself to tell her.  Even after what she told him, he couldn’t tell her.


Flashback


It had been just after one of their many unsuccessful attempts to steal that twerp's pikachu.  They had blasted off again, as
usual.  Unfortunately, this time they had landed in the middle of nowhere with no food or water.  

Jessie seemed unusually upset about their situation, so James walked over to her, while Meowth scouted around for a lake or
any source of fresh water.  “You okay, Jessie?” he asked.

She turned her back to him.  James thought he saw a glimpse of a tear on her cheek, but that wasn’t possible.  Jessie never
cried.  She saw tears as a sign of weakness, or at least that’s what she had told him on several different occasions.  

Finally, she answered, “I’m fine.”  Her voice sounded shaky.

James didn’t believe her.  He persisted, “Come on Jess, tell me what’s wrong.”

Suddenly she turned to face him and James was surprised to see that she had been crying.  Two wet streaks lined her face.  
She bowed her head, trying to hide her face.  “It’s just, I was reminded of when I was younger, when I and my mother were
struggling to survive.  I know we’ve gone without food before.  Those times I never thought about it.  I don’t know what
makes today different from all the other days.”  She wiped her eyes with a gloved hand.

“Anything can bring back memories.  A similar situation, a sound, or even a scent.  You can never be sure of what will remind
you of things.”  He replied without really thinking.  

“Yeah sure.”  She replied, acting like the Jessie he knew, as if she didn’t need anyone.  She pushed him away and sat on the
ground.

He sat beside her, but not too close.  She needed space.  “You want to talk about it?”  He asked.

“Why would you want to know?”

“Aw come on Jess.  We’re friends.  We’re partners in crime.  If we can’t trust each other, who are we going to trust?”  He
placed a hand on her shoulder, gently.

She turned her head to face him, her eyes looking directly into his.  There was something in her eyes he had never seen
before.  It looked like vulnerability, like sadness.  “If I tell you, will you promise not to tell anyone else?  Not even Meowth?”

“Of course I promise.”  He put his hand over his heart.  “I swear on my life that I will never tell another living soul.  Not even
Meowth.”  He smiled, hoping it would cheer her up a little.

She sighed and took in a deep breath, letting it out as she began to speak.  “You already know that I never really had anything
growing up.  Just like I know that you had practically everything.  Most of the time it was just me and Mom, but there were
also times when my mom dated, or got remarried.  Usually she was just using them so that we wouldn’t starve to death.  
Some of the guys she brought home were nice, but most were real jerks.  Then there were the guys that were only mean
when my mom wasn’t around.”

As she spoke, she wrapped her arms around herself, as if she had suddenly become cold.  James knew all to well that
memories could be painful.  But he didn’t say anything.  He just listened as she continued to speak.

“Some of them used to hit me.  I never knew why.  I had never done anything to provoke them, not intentionally anyway.   
And when I told my mom, she never believed me.  She used to say that I must have done something bad, or that I just didn’t
want her to be happy, that I was sabotaging her relationships.  So after awhile I just started to keep my mouth shut.  But one
of her boyfriends was worse than the rest.  One night he came into my bedroom and he . . . and he . . .”  She covered her
face in her hands, unable to continue.  

But she didn’t have to say anymore.  James understood what she was trying to say.  “I never knew.”  He whispered.  “I’m so
sorry.”  He wrapped his arm around her shoulders.  She buried her face in his chest.  He just held her as she cried.  It was all
he could do.  He knew there was nothing he could say to make her feel better.  All the words in the world couldn’t take away
her pain.

Eventually, she pulled herself away.  She wiped her face and spoke, “I never told my Mom.  I didn’t think she’d believe me.  
But one night she walked in on . . . on what he was doing to me.  I thought she’d be mad at me, that maybe she’d think it was
my fault.  But she didn’t blame me, she wasn’t mad at me at all.  She kicked him out.  After that she never dated again.  It was
just the two of us from then on.”  

She put on a brave smile and stood up.  “Come on.  We should really be looking for some food.  Meowth will be back any
minute.”

“Yeah.”  He answered, seeing that she was finished talking.  James followed her silently, placing a hand on her shoulder to let
her know he would be there for her if she ever wanted to talk again.


End Flashback


James looked over at Jessie again, regretting that he had been unable to tell her about his own past.  She had finished brushing
her hair and was laying back on her sleeping bag.  He looked over at Meowth.  The pokemon was lying near the fire, sleeping.  
James glanced at his watch.  He hadn’t realized how late it had gotten.  Slowly he stood and walked over to his own sleeping
bag, carefully trying not to disturb either of his teammates.

As he walked, he passed by Jessie.  “Lost in thought?”  She asked, surprising James.  He had thought that she was asleep.

“What?”

“I was just wondering what you were doing over there for so long.  Were you thinking about something?”  

James continued past her.  “Nothing really.”  He replied as he sat on his sleeping bag.

“Come on.”  She said, rolling over onto her side so she could look at him.  “What were you thinking about?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”  He snapped at her.  He turned his back to her as he laid down.  “I thought you were mad at
me.”

“What, I can’t have a change of heart?”  She replied.  “Fine, have it your way.  Don’t talk about whatever it is.  I don’t care.”

James closed his eyes and mentally kicked himself for being such a jerk.  Why couldn’t he just tell her?  Why did he have to
keep her from knowing?  What was it about him that kept him from telling her?  He closed his eyes, cursing himself for not
telling her.


*****


Jessie looked over at her sleeping teammate.  He was so handsome with his emerald green eyes and perfect skin.  And his
body, she thought, what a body.  He may look like a weakling, but underneath that uniform, he was all muscle.  She had seen
him with his shirt off several times before, and had always been amazed to see those  muscular arms and washboard abs.  But
no matter how much she liked that body, she enjoyed his eyes so much more.  Which was unusual for her since she usually
liked a guy’s body a lot better.  But she could stare into those eyes all day and night.

How she wished he would take her into those strong arms of his and just hold her.  She longed for him to grab her and kiss
her, but he wouldn’t even hold her hand.  

Jessie shook her head and pulled herself out of the daydream she was having.  She knew she didn’t deserve a guy like James.  
He was too nice, too good for someone like her.  Besides, she was damaged goods.  No man would ever find her attractive
because of that.  And if they did find her attractive, they only wanted to hurt her like that bastard did so many years ago.

Once again she looked at James’s still sleeping form.  He had rolled over sometime in his sleep and she could see his face.  Or
at least, she could see most of his face.  His beautiful purple hair had fallen over those eyes that she loved so much.  Seeing
him so peaceful, she regretted all those harsh words she had said last night.  None of what happened while trying to capture
that pikachu had been his fault.  If anyone should have been blamed, it should have been her.  She’s the one that didn’t check
the basket after Meowth had planted the explosives.  She should have checked.

But she had yelled at James, not Meowth.  Jessie had seen the hurt look in his eyes when she yelled.  She had wanted to go
over to him at the fire and try to cheer him up.  But then she noticed the look on his face, like his mind was miles away from
where he was.  She didn’t want to disturb him while he was thinking.  So she waited, and waited, all the time wondering what
he could possibly be thinking about.  

When he finally did walk past her to get to his sleeping bag, she asked him what it was.  She had been surprised when he
snapped at her.  All she wanted to know was what he was thinking about.  And once again her temper got the better of her and
she snapped back.

From his sleeping bag, James moaned and yawned.  Jessie rolled over onto her back, not wanting James to know that she had
been watching him.  Slowly, he sat up and stretched.  

“You awake Jess?”  He asked.

She nearly melted at the sound of his voice, but she didn’t let it show.  She never let her emotions show, except for anger, or
anything that would scare her enemies.  She’d never show anything that made her look weak, or vulnerable.

“Yes.  I thought you’d sleep all day.  Can we get going now?  If we hurry, we can catch up with the twerps.”  She got up and
rolled up her sleeping bag.

“Sorry Jess.”  He replied timidly, lowering his head and closing his eyes for a moment.  “Anything you say Jessie.”  He also
stood and packed up his sleeping bag.  

“Come on Meowth, we have to get going.” Jessie shouted.  Where was that Meowth anyway?  How long did it take for him to
steal a map from a store in that town they’d seen as they were hurtling through the sky?

“I’m coming, I’m coming.”  The cat pokemon grumbled.  “Here.”  He tossed the map to Jessie.

“Finally.”  Jessie said as she opened the map.  Jessie had overheard the twerps talking about where they were heading.  She
examined the map carefully for the easiest and shortest route to get there before them, or at least not too far behind them.

It looked like the only way they could possibly get there anywhere near the time the twerps would, was a route Jessie was
hesitant to take.  They would have to pass James’s hometown.  They could easily avoid going into town, but Jessie was
worried about how James would take it being so close to his parents and Jessiebelle.  He definitely wouldn’t take it well.  But it
was the quickest way, so they’d go that way, whether James objected or not.

Jessie tried to break it to him easily, as easily as she could.  She showed him the map, and the route they were taking.  

“You’ve got to be kidding me.  I’m not going anywhere near there.”  He said, backing away from the map and Jessie.

“James, we’re not actually going into town, so they won’t catch you.  We’re going to circle around it, to avoid any
townspeople that might be able to recognize you.”

“But still, that’s awfully close to my parent’s house.  In fact, we’re going right by their property.”

“How often do your parents take a stroll through the forest that you and your parents call a yard?”

James suddenly looked pale and lowered his eyes.  “Whenever they want to visit the family cemetery.”

Jessie blinked in surprise.  She didn’t know there was a cemetery.  It wasn’t on the map.  “It doesn’t matter.  They won't
even know we’re there.”

“Okay.” He finally relented.  “But if they catch me, I’m holding you responsible.”

Jessie laughed it off, although she was beginning to get worried.  James usually whined so much more when he was scared.
“Let’s get going.  We just have to make one stop in town, to call the Boss and tell him where we’re headed.”

“Yeah, we haven’t called him for awhile.  He’s going to be mad at us.”

So they left, debating whether or not they should call the Boss.  They called him of course.  And naturally, he did yell at them
for being incompetent, saying that they were failures.  Jessie was getting used to hearing him yell at her, that’s all he ever
seemed to do.

As they traveled, Jessie constantly glanced at James who walked beside her.  He had been so quiet.  The closer they got to his
old home, the stranger he acted.  There was definitely something troubling him, more than she knew about.  But whenever she
asked about it, he changed the subject, or ignored her altogether.  She hoped it wasn’t her fault, because she pressured him
into going this way.  Maybe he’d relax once they got past that town and away from those awful people.


*****


How could she be so insensitive? James asked himself.  But he rejected that thought immediately.  She had no idea why he
hated that place.  She thought she did, but she only knew a small part of it.  It wasn’t just because of the way his parents
treated him like property, trying to force him to marry Jessiebelle for their own purposes.  There were other reasons.  Reasons
he didn’t like to even think about.

He knew he wouldn’t be able to keep the memories away much longer.  All the pain he’d gone through trying to forget was
just a waste of time.  The past is something you never forget, no matter how much you want to.  It may fade over time, but it’
s always there.  It always haunts you.

There was an upside to this situation however.  He wouldn’t be able to hide this from Jessie for much longer.  Soon he'd just
break down and tell her everything.  It was only a matter of time now before the pain became unbearable.  The memories
would shatter the wall he’d put up between himself and Jessie.  And he’d finally tell her what had happened.

Once again James was sitting by the fire.  It was the middle of the night and he found himself starring into the flames,
wondering what it would feel like if he just reached in and let the flames wrap around his arm and burn the flesh away.  Oh, he
knew it would hurt, it would hurt like hell.  But he wanted to know if it would make him forget, at least for a little while.

He stood and shook his head, pushing those thoughts away.  He turned away from the fire and looked at Jessie.  She was
sleeping so quietly, so peacefully.  James wished he could sleep like that again.  He had tried to sleep that night, but he just
couldn’t.  They were too close now, too close to the secrets he had hidden inside him.  

A tear escaped his eye as he thought of the past, of the friend he missed so much.  He wiped the tear away and turned toward
the mansion he had lived in so long ago.  Even in the dark he could see it.  He could find it even if he were blind.  

So he started walking, leaving Jessie and Meowth behind, wondering if either of them would miss him if he never came back.  
Meowth wouldn’t, he was almost sure of that, but maybe Jessie would.  Of course she’d only miss him because she had
become so accustomed to his presence over the years, not because she had any feelings for him.  She was too good for him,
much too good.

He didn’t even glance back as he walked.  He kept walking and soon he saw what he had been looking for.  There it was, the
massive iron gate that marked the entrance to the family cemetery.   He couldn’t pass by without visiting the cemetery, it just
wouldn’t be right.  In his mind he hoped Jessie would find him there tonight.  Then he would have no choice but to tell her.  
He glanced to his side and saw the lights of a nearby town.  It wasn’t too far away from him, less then a mile.  Then he
continued on into the cemetery.

He hated not being able to tell Jessie what had happened.  She was his friend, the closest person to him.  She would
understand the pain he felt.  Jessie had been beaten as a child.  She had been hurt in other ways too.  She knew full well how
much pain a child could feel.  And she had told him everything.  But for some unexplainable reason, he just couldn't tell her.  
He wanted to.  Oh God, how he wanted to tell her everything.


*****


Jessie awoke with a start.  That was some nightmare.  Something had been chasing her.  She wasn’t sure what it was, but she
knew it wanted her dead.  But of course, right before it got her, she woke up.  That’s how those dreams always went.

A strange feeling enveloped her entire body.  Something’s wrong, something’s not right.  She shuddered, suddenly very cold.  
Jessie wrapped her arms around herself and glanced over at James, only to find him missing.  She stood quickly, getting more
and more frightened with every passing second.  Where had he gone so late at night?

For the past few days, James hadn’t seemed himself.  Something was definitely wrong, but she couldn’t figure out what.  And
it wasn’t like James was talking to her.  He barely said one word to her anymore.  Whenever she tried to find out what was
bothering him, he wouldn’t talk.  He didn’t even bother trying to change the subject anymore.

She wished he would just talk to her, just tell her what was wrong.  Maybe it was because of how close to his old home they
were.  She cursed herself silently for deciding to take this route.   

Jessie hurried over to where Meowth lay curled up, fast asleep.  “Meowth.  Wake up.  James is gone.”

Meowth’s eyes shot wide open.  “What?!” he shouted as he jumped to his feet.

“We have to find him.”  She was beginning to panic.  That wouldn’t help anyone.  So she took in a deep breath and let it out
slowly to calm herself.

Meowth was sniffing the air around him.  Jessie wondered what he was doing.  Before she could ask, he answered her
question.  “Us Meowths have a good sense of smell.  Comes in handy sometimes.”  He pointed toward the mansion.  “That
way.”

“But why would he go that way?  He’d never intentionally go near his family’s mansion.”

“Ya can ask him when we find him.  Come on.”  He ran into the darkness.

Jessie followed him, not wanting to lose sight of him.  How would she find James if she got lost herself?

“He went in there?”  Jessie asked a few minutes later when they reached the gates of a cemetery.  They were open, but she
hesitated in going in.  It was just so creepy.

“Yeah, so come on.  Ya want to know why he went in there don’t ya?”

Jessie didn’t answer.  She just walked through that metal gate.  As she passed each headstone, she glanced at the name
engraved in it.   As she went further in, the dates became more recent until she found the most recent grave and James along
with it.

James was kneeling on the ground in front of a grave.  He was staring at the headstone, holding one of his red roses in his
hand.  Jessie could see that he’d been crying.  His eyes were red and puffy and there were still some tears on his cheeks.

Jessie sat beside him.  She saw Meowth sit by his other side.  “James?”  Jessie asked as she put a hand on his shoulder.

James leaned forward, tears streaking down his face once again.  The rose dropped from his hand as he wrapped his arms
around himself.

Jessie didn’t hesitate to pull him closer to her, the side of his head resting on her lap.  His body shook as he sobbed.  She tried
her best to comfort him, rubbing her hand along his arm and gently running her fingers through his purple hair.  “It’s okay
James.”  She said in a whisper, hoping it was soothing.

He could stay there as long as he wanted.  Jessie didn’t care how long it would take for him to calm down.  When he was
ready, he’d talk.  She was sure of that now.  There was something different about him now, like finally something had
changed.


*****


James just lay there for what seemed like an eternity.  Jessie was being so nice to him, talking in a soothing tone, stroking his
hair with her gentle fingers.  He truly appreciated it.  And now he could tell her.  He could tell her everything.  She had found
him here, just like he’d wanted her to.  The wall inside of him had broken and Jessie had seen it happen.  He had cried in front
of her.  Sure she had seen him cry before, when he was whining about something, but this time it had been for a much
different reason.

He pushed himself away from her and once again faced the headstone of his friend.  James knew he was ready to tell her
now.  It was finally time to let it out.

“Who’s Tessa Lockhart?”  Meowth asked.

At the mention of her name, the burning in his throat returned as his eyes threatened to release their tears once again.  But he
held them back.  He had a story to tell, a nightmare to relive in memories.  He felt his courage return when Jessie placed her
hand on his shoulder reassuringly.

James didn’t look at her, although he’d been grateful for her sympathy.  As he began speaking, James remembered each and
every moment of one specific night.  In his mind, he saw it as if it had happened yesterday.


Flashback


A young boy crept silently through the darkened hallways of his family’s mansion.  It was James, trying to escape the house
once again.  Every move he made, every step he took, only seemed to cause more pain to his already aching body.  But he
didn’t want to go too fast and possibly make some noise or trip.  He couldn’t wake his parents up, couldn’t risk them finding
him like this.  What would they say?  How would they react?

He paused and looked down at himself.  There was just barely enough light for him to see the rips in his pajamas, the already
drying blood.  He put his hands to his face to wipe away some of the sweat, his hands trembling with fear.  He flinched as he
touched his cheek, which had swelled quite a bit, and by now had turned into a large bruise.

His nanny, Damen, had hurt James badly, not like the last time or the other times.  Damen usually avoided hitting his face or
any other part of his body that might be seen.  He knew how to hurt James without leaving bruises.  But this time he had left
bruises, and cuts, along with other painful marks on his body.

James didn’t know what he had done to get Damen so mad.  He didn’t remember doing anything wrong.  James had even
been nice to Jessiebelle that day.  It had been her birthday after all.  And even though he didn’t like her, he couldn't bring
himself to be mean on her birthday.

James choked back his tears as he remembered each strike against his small body.  He covered his mouth with his hands,
holding back his sobs.  He couldn’t cry now.  He wasn’t safe yet.

Then he saw it, the door.  And he breathed a sigh of relief as he took his hands away from his face.

He slowly opened the door.  The hinges creaked as it swung open.  He prayed to himself that no one heard it.  James turned
back and scanned the darkened house for any signs of movement.  Seeing nothing, he walked out of the mansion, closing the
heavy door behind him slowly.

Once the door was shut, he ran to Growlie’s house as fast as he could.  He knew he’d be safe there.  No one ever went into
Growlie’s house except for him and one of the maids, Tessa.  She was nice to him, unlike the rest of the servants.  She treated
him like a real person.  And she wouldn’t force him to come out of Growlie’s house, even if his parents told her to.  They
wouldn’t fire her since there was no one else to take care of Growlie, so she didn’t have to worry about losing her job.

James opened the door to Growlie’s house and closed it quickly behind him.  Now that he was inside, now that he was safe,
he completely broke down.  His tears came forth in full force.  He didn’t even try to stop them this time.  James sank to the
floor and laid down.  He curled up into a tight ball, clutching his knees to his chest as he sobbed.

Growlie came up next to him and nudged him gently.  James let go of his knees and sat up, his tears still flowing freely.  
“What am I going to do Growlie?”  He asked his friend.  “They’re gonna ask where I got these bruises.”

The Growlithe laid down beside him and spoke.  Although it sounded like he was only repeating parts of his name in different
ways, he actually said, in his own language, “Do not worry James.  You are safe here.  I will protect you.  You can stay here
as long as you want.  I am sure that Tessa will bring you food.”

James threw his arms around Growlie, understanding every word perfectly.  His tears dampened the pokemon’s soft fur.  
Growlie was right, he could stay here.  It’s not like his parents would come get him here.  And Tessa would bring him food
and whatever else he needed.  But what would she say about the bruises, the cuts?

James found out the next day.  He was hiding in the shadows when she came in that morning.  She was only a couple years
older than him, with long purple hair, almost the same shade as James’s but slightly darker, which she kept up in a ponytail.  
He’d known her all his life. She was one of the only two other children he knew, the other being Jessiebelle.  Why she had to
work at such a young age, James didn’t know.  

She saw him standing there.  “James?  That you?”

“Yes.”  He replied timidly.

“Are you okay?  Why are you hiding in the shadows?”  She squinted, obviously trying to see him in the darkness.

Growlie pushed him from behind, forcing him to take a step forward out of the shadows.  James watched as Tessa’s eyes
dropped open at the sight of him.  “Good Lord, James.  What happened?  Who did this to you?”  

She walked forward and dropped to her knees in front of him.  Gently, she touched his cheek.  He recoiled away immediately,
afraid.  He was afraid of what she thought of him.  Maybe she’d think he deserved it.  What if she hurt him like Damen had?

But she didn’t hurt him.  And when he was finally able to look into her eyes, he saw nothing but kindness and sympathy.  He
began crying again.  Tessa wrapped her arms around him, holding him so gently as if he would break if she held too tightly.  
Tenderly, she stroked the back of his head, telling him he had nothing to fear, that no one would ever hurt him again.

She pulled away from him when his tears stopped.  “Why don’t we get you cleaned up?”

James nodded, unable to speak.  His throat hurt so much.  He followed her as she led him to a bathroom.  It was built for
visitors of Growlie’s.  Of course James was usually the only visitor.  She dampened her handkerchief in water from the sink
and gently cleaned James cuts and bruises.

“I’m going to take you away from this place James.” She said as she finished.  “No one’s ever going to hurt you again.”


End Flashback


“Oh, James.  I’m so sorry.”  Jessie said, wiping a tear from her eye.  He couldn’t believe it.  Jessie was crying.  Jessie rarely
cried.

“What happened to Tessa?” Meowth asked.

James cleared his throat before talking.  “She was wrong.”

“Wrong?”  Jessie questioned.  “Wrong about what?”

“I was hurt again  Tessa didn’t get a chance to take me away.  She died the very next day.”

Jessie gasped, but didn’t speak.

“Her death was declared an accident.  But I knew better.  Damen killed her.  There was no proof, but I know he did it.  
Whether or not my parents ordered it, I don’t know.”  

By the time he was finished talking, his body was shivering.  It wasn’t really cold, but he couldn’t stop himself.  He glanced at
the faces of his friends.  By their expressions, he could tell they were shocked.  He watched Jessie blink her eyes repeatedly,
then smile at him.  “Come on, let’s get back to camp.  You really should get some rest.”  She said kindly.

James let her help him up.  As they walked back to the gate, he felt as if he were being watched.  Finally he turned and looked
around.  He nearly fell backward in shock when he saw that all so familiar face.

“What a sad story.”  The man mocked.

“Who are you?”  Jessie demanded.

“Damen.”  James spat out, before the man could answer.  Damen was just as James remembered him, only a few years older.  
His once jet-black hair was streaked with gray, but his face hadn’t wrinkled.  He was a muscular man and wore plain gray
clothes.  He had always been a dull person.

“How nice.  You remember me.”  Damen said.

“You bastard!”  James shouted.  “Murderer!”

“Who did I kill?”  He asked innocently.

“Tessa.  You killed Tessa.”

“Who?  Oh, the maid.  Such a lovely young girl.  Too bad about her little accident.”

“You know damn well that it wasn’t an accident.  You killed her.”  James took a step forward, his blood boiling with rage.

Before James could take another step, Damen reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a gun.  James froze in fear.  “Her
death was ruled an accident.  There was no proof of foul play.  In fact, there was no body to autopsy.  Everything was
destroyed in the explosion”

Damen reached into his other pocket, removing a silencer as he pulled his hand out again.  Slowly, he screwed the silencer
onto the end of the gun.

Jessie spoke from somewhere behind James, “What are you planning to do with that?”

“My job, of course.  My employer ordered me to go undercover in that mansion, and to keep an eye on James as he grew up.  
I was allowed to treat him any way I wished.  Tessa got in the way.  She was going to take him away and I couldn’t allow
that.  My employer was quite angry with me when he ran away.  And now I finally have a chance to redeem myself.  I have
been ordered to eliminate him.”

“But how did you know where he was?  How did you find us?”

“My employer has always known where James was?  And now, he has finally had enough of James.”  Damen said, pointing
the gun directly at James, smiling deviously.

James was disgusted by the smile on Damen’s face.  If there wasn’t a gun pointed at him, he would have tackled Damen by
now.  But there was a gun pointed at him.  And there was nothing he could do.  There was no way out, no way to stop what
was going to happen.

Slowly, Damen pulled the trigger.  James heard nothing, not a single sound as the bullet left the chamber and sped through the
air.  James remembered a quote about not hearing the shot that gets you, and inwardly he laughed.  

At first he didn’t feel any pain as the bullet tore into his abdomen.  Time seemed to slow down, like everything was in slow
motion.  He looked down at himself, in disbelief and saw the hole in his shirt.  Blood was slowly beginning to soak through his
shirt.  Somewhere behind him Jessie screamed.  The moment her piercing cry hit his ears, time sped up again.  Then it hit him,
all the pain, the agony, and he fell to the ground, clutching the bleeding wound below his rib cage.


*****


The gun barely made a sound as it was fired.  Of course that’s what a silencer was for.  Jessie screamed and watched in
horror as James fell to the ground, blood covering his hands.  She wanted to rush to his side, to try and help him somehow.  
But Damen stepped between her and James, blocking her path.  He had the gun pointed at her now.  “No witnesses.”  He
whispered to her.

Jessie closed her eyes, waiting for him to pull the trigger, to shoot her like he had done to James.  But instead she heard a thud,
as if something had just hit the ground.  She took a chance and opened her eyes.  Damen was on the ground, and on top of
him was James.  They were fighting for the gun.  James looked incredibly weak.  Jessie didn’t know how he was able to fight
for the gun, let alone stand the pain he must have been going through.  

In a moment it was all over.  Both Damen and James stopped moving.  A pool of blood was spreading out around the two of
them.  Jessie didn’t hesitate.  James was hurt badly, possibly dying.  He needed her help.  She didn’t care if Damen got up and
shot her while she was helping him.  She didn’t care what he did, as long as she got to help James.

Carefully she lifted James off of Damen, and laid him down on his back.  There was so much blood.  Jessie took off her
gloves and put her fingers to his throat.  He had a pulse, thank God, he had a pulse.

“Jess, I think he’s dead.”  Meowth said from beside Damen.  

Jessie looked over at Damen.  His eyes were wide open and staring at nothing.  There was blood on his chest surrounding a
bullet wound.  “Good.”  She said.  “He deserves to rot in Hell for what he’s done.”

“Jessie?” Said a weak, quavering voice.

She looked down at James.  His eyes were open and looking up at her.  She placed a hand on his pale cheek.  Meowth rushed
around the dead body to stand at James’s side.  

“Jessie,”  James said in a whisper. “I couldn’t let him hurt you too.”

“Sshh, James.  It’s okay now.  You're going to be fine.”  She replied, even though he looked so pale, so weak.

“Just in case I don’t make it, I want to tell you something.”

“No, don’t talk like that.  You’ll be okay.  You can tell me later.”  Jessie insisted.  She didn’t want to hear him talk like this, like
he was going to die.  She wouldn’t let that happen, she couldn’t.

He seemed to ignore her.  He swallowed and stared straight into her eyes.  “I love you, Jessie.”

“What?  What did you say?”  To say she was shocked was an understatement.  But she was so happy he had said it.  Now she
knew how he really felt about her.  She had loved him for so long, but feared he couldn’t love her because of her past,
because she was tainted and damaged goods.  She had been too scared to tell him.  She couldn’t risk the pain of him telling her
that he didn’t feel the same way.  And now that she knew he did love her, she was going to lose him.  He was dying, bleeding
to death right before her eyes.

“I’ve loved you for so long, Jessie, since the day we first met.  You were so beautiful . . .” His words trailed off as his eyes
closed shut.

She leaned closer to him and whispered into his ear.  “I love you too, James.”  Even though she knew he couldn’t hear her,
saying the words lifted her spirits slightly.

Jessie took off her uniform jacket, and pressed it against the bleeding wound in his belly.  The blood slowly soaked into it.  He
wasn’t dead yet and she wasn’t going to let him die.  She couldn’t let it end like this, wouldn’t let it.

Using all her strength, she picked James up and carried him to the town they had seen in the distance earlier.  She nearly
dropped him so many times.  He was heavy and she was so tired.  But she couldn’t give up, James needed her.  Finally she
collapsed to her knees in the empty street, exhausted.  She still held James in her arms, but she just couldn’t go any farther.

“Help me!”  She shouted to the empty streets of the sleeping village.  “Somebody, please help me!”

But no one came.  How could anyone sleep with her screaming like that?

“I’ll go get help Jess.  I’ll find someone.”  Meowth said frantically as he took off running down the street.

Jessie looked down at James as she slowly laid him on the pavement.  He was still alive, but just barely.  Her jacket, which she
had placed over the wound, was soaked with his blood.  Jessie didn’t know what else to do.  She was losing the only person
that had ever cared about her.  If only she hadn’t insisted on taking this route.  She looked up to the sky and screamed again.  
“Help me!”

Finally a light came on in a window, just a few feet away from her.  Meowth also must have seen it, since he turned his
attention to getting the person inside to come out.  He banged on the front door and called out for help.

A man, slightly overweight with a scruffy beard, wearing his pajamas and a robe, ran out his front door.  At the sight of James
he ran back into his house.  Meowth followed him in, then returned to Jessie’s side a few seconds later.  

“An ambulance is on the way.”  Meowth said as he sat on the other side of James.  The man came over and stood over James,
just staring down at him.  Jessie wished he would leave.  He wasn’t helping any.


*****


A nice couple had offered Misty, Ash, Brock, and Pikachu the use of their empty bedrooms for the night.  Their children had
long since gone off to live in their own homes.  The couple was more than happy to let them stay.  They said they missed
having a house full of people.

Misty woke up, hearing the sound of sirens.  She quickly got up and got dressed.  She picked up her backpack, in which
Togepi still slept, and headed out the door.  Ash, Pikachu, and Brock were standing in the hallway as she exited her room.  

“What do you think’s going on?” Ash asked, wiping his eyes.

“How should I know?  Let’s go find out.”  Misty replied, walking past him.

The street was filled with police cars and people.  An ambulance was just leaving.  Misty saw an Officer Jenny standing beside
a police barrier, trying to keep all the people back.  Ash and Brock were a few paces ahead of Misty as they walked over to the
barrier.

“What’s going on?” Ash asked Officer Jenny.

“It seems that two teenagers and their pokemon were attacked.  One of them was shot, but still managed to defend his friend.  
There was a struggle for the gun and the attacker was killed.  We’re still trying to work out all the details.”  Officer Jenny said
without looking at them.

Misty looked out at the crowd, where the ambulance had been, and spotted a familiar red hairstyle.  “Jessie?”  She said out
loud, although she hadn’t meant to.

“You know her?”  Jenny asked.

“You could say that.  We’ve met occasionally.”  Brock replied.

Misty spoke up quickly, realizing that she didn’t see James anywhere.  “Was she one of the two attacked?  And did the guy
with her have purple hair?”

Jenny turned to face her.  “Yeah.  It’s a real shame about her friend.  The paramedics said it doesn’t look too good for him.  
He’s lost an awful lot of blood.”

“Oh my God, James.”  Misty whispered.

Officer Jenny was still talking.  “And she carried him all the way here from the cemetery.  She didn’t leave his side until the
paramedics forced her to.”  

Another officer called out to Officer Jenny.  She walked over to him without saying one word to Ash or the others.

“I’m going to talk to her.”  Misty stated as she walked past the barrier.

Ash grabbed her shoulder from behind.  “What?”  He stammered.  “Why?”

“She’s just been through something horrible.  She needs someone to help her through this.”  She shrugged his hand off her
shoulder.

He and Brock followed silently behind her as she made her way through the crowd.  Pikachu rode atop Ash’s head.

Meowth saw her before Jessie did.  He jumped in between Misty and Jessie, holding his paws up, his claws extended.  “What
do ya want?”  He hissed.

Misty ignored him.  “Jessie, we heard about James.  I’m so sorry.”

“As if you really care.”  Jessie replied coldly, never taking her eyes off the ground.

Misty wasn’t surprised.  “I know we’ve never been friends.  And we’ve said some harsh things to each other in the past.  But
if you need someone to talk to, we’ll be there for you.”

Jessie turned her head away.  Meowth spoke up once again.  It actually seemed like he was trying to protect her.  “Leave her
alone.  She doesn’t need none of your fake sympathy.”

Misty felt Brock’s hand on her shoulder, then heard him speak.  “Come on, let’s go.  Maybe she needs to be alone for a while.”

Misty nodded and turned to leave.  Before she could take a step, Jessie called out to her.  “Wait.  Don’t go.  I, I don’t want to
be alone.”

When Misty turned back, she noticed that Meowth was staring up at Jessie with an expression of surprise on his face.  Then
Misty saw something that she never thought she’d ever see.  Jessie was crying.

Misty wrapped her arm around Jessie, hoping it would help a little.  Ash and Brock stayed behind them.  They probably didn’t
know what to do, or they didn’t want to get in the way.

“He told me he loved me.”  Jessie said between sobs.  “Right before he lost consciousness, he said that he loved me.”

“Oh, Jessie, I had no idea.  I knew you were close, but I didn’t know you were that close.”  Misty said calmly.  She glanced
back at Ash and Brock who looked almost as shocked as she was.

She had never thought much about Jessie and James being a couple.  Jessie was constantly hitting James.  And James
continually whined.  But now that she was thinking about it, it seemed so obvious.  The two of them were always together.  
James never left no matter how many times Jessie hit him or yelled at him.  And Jessie just never left, no matter how much his
whining got on her nerves.

“He never said it before.  I guess we were both too afraid that the other didn’t feel the same way.  At least I know I was.”  
Her tears streamed down her cheeks.  “I was too ashamed of my past to ever tell him.  Now I’m never going to get a chance
to.”

Jessie sank to her knees, crying uncontrollably.  Misty knelt beside her, keeping her arm around the older girl.  “I’m sure he’ll
be fine.”  Misty tried to reassure her.  “He’ll get better and then you can tell him.”

“Yeah Jess.  James is tough.  He’ll pull through.”  Meowth said, placing a paw on Jessie’s knee.  Misty was surprised by his
unusually kind statement.

Suddenly, Jessie jerked her head up and gasped.  “What is it?  You okay?” Misty asked, worried.

Jessie looked down at Meowth.  She pulled a pokeball from her belt and released the Arbok that was inside.  The Arbok looked
around, obviously expecting as fight, but seeing none, it turned its attention to its master.

“Meowth, Arbok,”  Jessie spoke in a hoarse, quavering voice.  “I want you to do something for me.”

“Anything Jess.” Meowth replied.

“Go to James’s parents.  Tell them what happened to him.  And don’t forget to tell that Growlithe too.”

“You sure you want us to?  You know how James feels about his parents.”

“I know, but they’re still his parents and they deserve to know.  But just in case they have plans to get him married to that
Jessiebelle while he’s still in the hospital, I want you to tell them that he’s already married to me.  Tell them that’s why we
were coming back.  That should get them off James’s back for awhile.”

Meowth nodded and left.  Arbok followed close behind.  The cobra pokemon glanced back every now and then until it was out
of sight, obviously worried about its master.

Out of the corner of her eye, Misty saw Brock step forward, placing a hand on Jessie’s shoulder.  “Jessie, you want us to take
you to the hospital so you can find out how James is doing?”

Jessie only nodded.

Brock helped her to her feet and kept one arm around her waist, while Misty walked on her other side with an arm around her
shoulder.  Ash and pikachu just followed behind them.


*****


Jessie sat in the waiting room, shivering.  Ash, Misty, and Brock were sitting in seats near hers, and Pikachu was entertaining
that Togepi of Misty’s.  They had been here for a couple hours now.  The sun had risen shortly after they had gotten there.  
James was still in surgery.  They were waiting.  Jessie hated waiting.

James’s parents ran in, worried expressions on their faces.  “Where is our son? Where is our James?”  His mother asked.

Jessie felt her rage building at the sight of these people.  She couldn’t stand them, the way they treated James.  She jumped
from her seat and began yelling at them.  “You people disgust me.  Why didn’t you stop Damen from hurting James?  You
were his parents, surely you knew what he was doing, all the beatings, all the pain he caused him.  How could you just sit by
and watch?”  She didn’t let them speak up, didn’t let them defend themselves.  She was too angry.  “And what about Tessa,
you must have suspected her death wasn’t an accident.  You had money, you could have kept the investigation open.  Maybe
if you had been better parents, James wouldn’t have run away.”

“We were doing it for his own good.”  His mother said, finally able to get a sentence in.

“Forcing him to marry someone he doesn’t love is for his own good?”  Jessie said, aware that everyone in the room was now
watching their heated conversation.

James’s mother was getting hysterical.  “We just didn’t want him to end up like his mother.”  She blurted out.  Immediately
she slapped her hand over her mouth.

“What?”  Jessie stammered, in total disbelief of what she had just heard.  “What was that?”

James’s parents sat down.  His mother removed her hand from her mouth.  “James isn’t our son.  He’s my sister’s.”  She
paused.  Her husband took hold of her hand.  “I can’t bear children.”

James’s father, or actually his uncle, took over speaking.  “Elisa,  was a pokemon trainer.  She hated money and everything
that went with it, including us.  All she ever wanted to do was travel around and capture pokemon.  While she was traveling,
she met another trainer, a man by the name of Peter Lockhart, and married him.  But they still traveled, didn’t settle down, not
even after she had her first baby.”

“First?  You mean James isn’t an only child?”  Jessie asked.

“No.  He had an older sister.  They were such a happy family.  At least they were until that night . . .”  James’s aunt stopped
and buried her face in her hands.

Her husband took over speaking again.  “My sister-in-law and her husband had made enemies during their journeys and
unfortunately at least one of them was very dangerous.  They were murdered.  The police told us that it looked like someone
had hated them enough to torture them before killing them.”

“My God.”  Ash gasped from somewhere in the room.  Jessie wasn’t exactly sure of where anyone was anymore.  Her
attention was totally focused on the two people in front of her.

“The children came to live with us.  My niece didn’t want to have anything to do with our money.  She wanted to earn her
keep, so we gave her a position as a maid.  She was only five years old, but she was already so much like her mother, so
strong, so brave.  James was two years younger than her.  Over time he forgot his parents, and we raised him like he was our
own.”  She started crying again.

“Was his sister’s name Tessa?”  Jesse asked.  

They both nodded.  No wonder Tessa had cared so much about James.  She was his sister.

“But why didn’t James know?”

“Tessa didn’t want us to tell him.  She wanted him to be happy, she wanted him to grow up with parents.”  James’s aunt said,
before beginning to cry yet again.

“As James got older, he expressed an interest in pokemon training.  But we were afraid that he’d get hurt like his mother did.  
So we tried to discourage him.  And we introduced him to Jessiebelle and hoped she could convince him to stay.”  James’s
uncle said as he tried to comfort his wife.

James’s aunt took her hands away from her face and spoke again.  “Then one day Tessa came to us and said she was going to
take James away from us.”

James’s uncle once again took over.  “She said that we were too cruel to deserve a son like James.  We thought she was only
talking about the arranged marriage.  We had no idea that Damen was beating James.”

“Little boys get bruises all the time.  I thought they came from when he played with Growlie.  I didn’t know.  We didn’t
know.”

Jessie asked.  “So what happened to Tessa?  How come you didn’t suspect Damen killed her?”

James’s aunt looked directly at Jessie.  “After Tessa left, after she told us that she was taking James, Damen volunteered to
talk to her for us.  He said he might be able to convince her to stay, since she was just a child and really didn’t know what she
was talking about.  She was only ten.  We had no reason not to trust him.  We didn’t know.”

“When he came back that night, he said there had been an accident.  He told us Tessa had died. The day after her funeral,
James ran away.”  James’s uncle stated.

“I admit  that when he came back, we were cruel.  We shouldn’t have acted so greedily.  We shouldn’t have tried to force him
into marriage.”  She began crying again.

Just then, the doctor walked in.  Jessie jumped to her feet and asked, “How is he?”

“He’s out of surgery.  There was massive blood loss from the lacerations in his liver and . . .”

Jessie cut him off mid-sentence.  He wasn’t telling her what she wanted to know.  “But is he okay?”

“He’s been moved to the ICU.  But I have to warn you, it doesn’t look too good.  He’s stable, but his chances of survival are
slim.”

“Can I see him?” She interrupted him again.

The doctor didn’t seem to mind her interruptions.  “I suppose I could allow it.  But only one person at a time.”


*****


Jessie stood outside in the hallway, letting the others go in to see James first.  She wanted to be last, to not have to worry
about someone else’s feelings if she stayed too long.  Finally James’s aunt came out.  She was the last.  Now it was finally
Jessie’s turn.

Seeing him, lying there in that hospital bed was almost too much for her.  There were various tubes and wires, going in and
out of James’s body.  Machines were set up around his bed, some to monitor his condition, others to keep him alive.  

Jessie approached the bed slowly.  She was afraid, more afraid than she had been when Damen was pointing a gun at her.  But
she wasn’t afraid for her own life, like she had been then, she was afraid for James’s.  She didn’t want to lose him now.  She
had just found out how he really felt.  She couldn’t let the only man she ever truly loved, just die without telling him how she
felt.  

She felt the fresh tears stinging her eyes, as she sat in a chair next to the bed.  Jessie took his hand in hers, holding it gently, as
if he might break if she held too tight.  “I’m here James.  And I’m not going to leave until you wake up, not even if they try to
force me to.  I’ll never leave you James, never.”

So she sat there, holding his hand, stroking it with her thumb, and never taking her eyes off of him.  She wanted to see him
wake up.  Later that day, the nurses came and told her that visiting hours were over, but she didn’t leave.  How could she,
when James was lying in that hospital bed?  They tried to force her to leave, but she refused.  Finally a doctor came to see her,
with a security guard by his side.  It was the same doctor from before.  Jessie remembered his face.

“Miss, visiting hours are over.  I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave and come back tomorrow.”  The doctor said in a tired
voice.

“I can’t leave him.  He’s the only one I have in my life.  We’ve been together for years.  I’m not going to leave him when he
needs me the most.”  She said and turned to face the two of them.  “Besides, I have no place else to go.”

The doctor walked up to her and placed a hand on her shoulder.  “Surely those people that were here with you earlier can give
you a place to stay.”

“Those kids are just passing through, like we were.”

“What about that couple that was here, this young man’s parents?”

“I wouldn’t stay in the same house with those people.  James didn’t have the happiest of childhoods and it was all because of
them.  If I had a choice, I wouldn’t even stay in the same town as them.  But I don’t have a choice.”  Jessie turned her
attention back to James.  

The doctor sighed, “Fine, I suppose we can make an exception just this once.  If you need anything just let one of the nurses
know.”  

Jessie nodded and thanked the doctor.  He was a kind man.  It wasn’t common practice to let people stay after visiting hours
were over.  Of course this doctor didn’t think James had a good chance of surviving, so he probably thought he was giving
her as much time with James as possible.  But Jessie knew James would get better.  He had to.  She couldn’t be alone again,
not after falling in love with James.

The hours turned into days as Jessie stayed by James’s side.  The only times she ever left was to use the restroom.  She didn’t
even bother leaving for food.  How could she think about herself when James was barely hanging on to life.  The doctors were
surprised when James didn’t die that first night.  His chances for survival went up each day he lived, but there was still a
chance that something would happen to take him away from her.

Jessie spoke to him often, waiting, watching for any sign that he could hear her.  But there was nothing.  Until two days after
he arrived in the hospital, James lay in his bed motionless.  But then, everything changed.  Jessie had fallen asleep in the chair
beside his bed, like she had so many times in those two days.  She had awakened with a start and immediately looked over to
James, hoping to see he had awakened.  When she saw that his eyes were open, she jumped from her seat.

“James?  You’re awake!”  She was so happy.  No, more than happy, ecstatic.  

All he could do was stare up at her and blink, the tube going down his throat preventing him from speaking.  But his eyes said
enough.  He was happy to see her too, but he was also scared.

Jesse tried to keep him calm, knowing he shouldn’t get too excited in his current condition.  “It’s okay James.  You don't have
to worry.  You’re in a hospital.  You were hurt pretty badly.  But everything’s going to be okay.  You’re going to be fine.”

Jessie gently brushed his hair away from his face.  The fear in his eyes seemed to subside as Jessie took hold of his hand, her
other hand gently stroking his cheek.  She could only watch as his eyes slowly closed shut.  As soon as she was sure he was
asleep, she went to get a doctor.  

The doctor examined James, checking his vital signs.  Jessie just watched, impatiently, pacing behind him as he did his job.  
When he was finished, he looked to Jessie.  “I’m not saying he will definitely recover, but this is a good sign, a very good
sign.  The longer he remains conscious the better.  If he regains consciousness again, have the doctor on duty check him out
while he’s still awake.”


*****


It seemed like so long ago that James had been shot and had nearly died, but it had only been a matter of weeks.  He had been
near death for days, awakening only for short periods of time.  His injuries had been very severe and the doctors had insisted
that he stay until they could be certain that he’d make a full recovery.  

Jessie only had to wait one more day.  James was being released the next day. Meowth had secured a place for them to stay
until James was ready to travel again, if he wanted to travel again.  Once they were behind closed doors, away from prying
eyes, she could finally tell him how she felt and what she planned to do now that he was well.

Jessie felt a hand squeeze hers and she looked down to see James, still lying in his hospital bed.  He was awake and sitting up.  
She could see the tears in his eyes as he listened to his parents tell him that they weren’t really his parents and that his friend
the maid had actually been his older sister.  

Everyone had been visiting James that day.  Ash, Misty, Brock, and that Pikachu, they had all been in the room when his
parents showed up.  They told him they had something to tell him, then they just blurt it out.  The others didn’t even have
enough time to leave the room, to give James and his family some privacy before they had told him.

James turned his head away from them, facing the wall behind Jessie.  “Get out.”  He said quietly.  “Leave me alone.”

His aunt cried as they quietly left.  Jessie watched them go, then turned her attention to the others in the room.  “Could you
give us a moment?”  She asked them nicely.  They had been really kind to her and James these past days.  Without their help,
she might not have been able to get through it.  They had listened to her, treated her like a friend, not like an enemy.  They
nodded and left silently.

Before Jessie could get a word out, James started talking.  “I wish I could have known her better.  Why didn’t she tell me?”

“She remembered your parents, you didn’t.  She probably didn’t want you to grow up without parents, like she had to.”

Without another word, James buried his head in Jessie’s side, crying.  Jessie wrapped her arms around him, knowing he had
to let all the pain and sadness out.


*****


James’s  body hurt.  Of course he had been shot, so his body should hurt.  But at least he was out of that hospital now.  He
had gotten out just over an hour ago, and now he was in a small, barely furnished apartment.  Jessie had her arm around him,
helping to support his weight.  He was so tired, he couldn’t wait to sit somewhere. Jessie helped him into the bedroom.  He sat
on the edge of the bed, breathing heavily.  He couldn’t believe that he had been exhausted by such a small amount of exercise.  

“You okay?”  She asked.

“Fine.”  He lied.  He felt terrible.  But looking at Jessie made him feel so much better.  She was so beautiful.

“Come on, let me help you into bed.”  She said kindly.

James was ashamed that he needed to be helped so much.  He felt so helpless, like he was a kid again.  Jessie must have
noticed how embarrassed he was.

“Oh, don’t be so embarrassed.  I’ve seen you in your boxers before.”

“When?”  His eyes snapped up to meet hers.  

She had a sly smile on her face.  Then she began blushing.  “You remember that one time when we actually had enough
money for one hotel room?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I opened the door to the bedroom while you were getting undressed.  I didn’t know you were in there.  I thought you
had gone to get something to eat with Meowth.  Anyway, I closed the door before you could notice me.”

James could feel his cheeks growing red.  He felt so embarrassed even though it had happened months ago.  

“Oh, don’t be so self-conscious.  You have a great body.”  She said, and immediately started blushing again.  “I can’t believe I
just said that.”  She giggled and averted her eyes.

James was in shock.  His mouth hung wide open.  Had she just said that he had a great body?  James shook his head, to regain
his composure.  “Then I guess I can let you help me, since you’ve already had the opportunity to check me out.”  He laughed
it off, trying to make it seem that her words hadn’t really affected him that much.  

She thought he had a great body.  He couldn’t get over that fact.  Maybe she did have feelings for him.  He had told her how
he felt after being shot, just before losing consciousness.  When he woke up, he had hoped that she would say something to
him, to tell him if she felt the same or not, but she never did.  He had begun to feel that she didn’t, but now that she said he
had a great body he had hope.  But then why wasn’t she telling him how she felt?  Was she afraid of something?

Jessie was kneeling in front of him.  “Okay.  Let’s start with your shoes.”  She said as she began untying his laces.

He could only watch as Jessie slipped his shoes off his feet.  He wished he could do that on his own, wished he could do
anything on his own.  But he just didn’t have the strength for it.  He could feel the sweat beading on his forehead.  Even sitting
up was exhausting to him.

After she pulled off his socks, tossing them to the side, she stood.  Slowly, she began unbuttoning his shirt.  Actually it wasn’t
his shirt, just something Jessie had bought for him, along with a pair of plain black pants, to wear when he got out of the
hospital.  

Jessie helped him pull his arms through the sleeves of the simple white shirt.  He saw Jessie flinch when she saw the bandages
under his shirt.  “It doesn’t hurt too bad.”  He said.

She smiled, but James knew she had only done it to make him feel better.  She tossed his shirt over her shoulder.  Jessie
cleared her throat.  “Okay.  Now, why don’t you lie back, and I’ll get those pants off.”  She said casually.

James did as she asked.  He couldn’t have objected even if he wanted to.  He was just so tired.  He groaned as he laid back, his
abdomen burning with pain.  He closed his eyes against the pain, hoping it would go away.  By the time he opened his eyes,
Jessie had already taken his pants off.  He hadn’t even noticed.

“You okay?”  She asked, bending over him.

“I’ll be okay.  I’m just tired.”

She covered him with a blanket.  “Do you think you can stay awake a few more minutes?  There’s something I really need to
tell you.”  

Jessie seemed nervous.  James wondered why.  “Sure.  What do you want to tell me?”

She took in a deep breath and let it out, before she spoke.  “Ever since you got shot, I’ve been thinking.”

“About what?”

“About you.  About me.  About Team Rocket.  Everything.  And I’ve made a decision.”

“What?”  He was getting worried.  Maybe she never wanted to see him again, maybe it caused her too much pain to be around
him anymore.  His mind raced with thoughts that she would leave him and it terrified him.

“I’m quitting Team Rocket.  With all the constant failures and then what happened to you . . .  I just can’t do it anymore.  I
love you too much to see you get hurt again.”  She turned away from him, and he caught a glimpse of a tear falling down her
cheek.

The moment she said that she loved him, all the pain in his body disappeared.  He felt like he could just jump up and dance
around, but of course he couldn’t.  He took hold of her hand.  “Then I’m quitting too.  You’re the reason I joined Team
Rocket in the first place.  Without you, I would have no reason to stay.  Besides, I love you, and I’ll never leave you.”

She turned back, tears streaming down her face.  James reached up and brushed the tears away with his thumb.  “Do you
really mean it James?  Do you really love me?”

“Ever since I first laid eyes on you.  You are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

Jessie leaned closer to him and gently put her arms around him.  She held him tenderly, gently.  He felt her warmth against his
skin and he enjoyed every minute of it.  She pulled away from him and sat up.  

James pulled her hand to his lips and kissed it gently.  He wanted to feel her lips against his, but he couldn’t sit up.  But seeing
her smile when his lips touched her warm skin was enough for now.  There would be time for more kisses in the future. Long
passionate kisses that didn’t end for the longest time.  Once he was stronger, he’d kiss her on the lips, and they’d never leave
each other no matter what happened.  They had all the time in the world.


The End