Broken Souls (Part 1)
by Cori Falls
This story is a continuation of a fic called The Pinball Machine by Alph. The Pinball Machine was a tragic tale that was set in a world where Jessie and James never met. (James was hooked to a suicide machine in an abandoned warehouse and debating whether or not to end his life since he was so miserable. While he was trying to decide, a woman came into the warehouse and started playing "The Love Game," which was a pinball machine. She told James that she was running from five lovers, two husbands, and three children, and James asked her if he should end his life or not. The woman didn't answer him, but when she won the pinball game, she started screaming "yes." Mistaking her enthusiasm for an affirmative answer, James injected himself with poison. When she realized what was going on, the woman took James in her arms, told him her name was Jessie, and kept him company during his final moments of life. X___x)
Even though the plot was extremely far-fetched and Jessie and James were completely out of character, the fact remains that The Pinball Machine is one of the most upsetting fics I've ever had the misfortune of reading. I guess it bothered me so much because it was the first death fic that was submitted to my site. (This was back in the days before I established any fanfic submission guidelines, and I mistakenly thought that I was obligated to post everything that people submitted, no matter how much I hated it. XP) Reading that fic made me physically ill, and posting it made me feel even worse. At first, I tried reminding myself that it was only a stupid fic written by somebody who doesn't really understand or appreciate Jessie and James's characters and that the events which transpired in it would never happen, but when it was still depressing the hell out of me over a month later, I knew that it was a serious problem.
I knew that I had to do something...anything to make myself feel better and set things right for Jessie and James.
I got the idea for this story one evening when I was driving home from work. I was in the middle of another nervous breakdown brought on by The Pinball Machine continuing to haunt me, but I stopped and asked myself if there was any possible way to get around or undo James's suicide. After thinking about it for a couple of minutes, I realized that not only would undoing the tragic tale be possible...it'd be pretty damned easy, too! Since the fic was open-ended and there was never an actual death scene, writing a sequal where Jessie saves James's life and the two of them fall in love and live happily ever after would be a simple matter. And indeed, it was -- even with all of the twists and sub-plots I added, Broken Souls practically wrote itself, and the end result was a success. When I finished writing it, I found that I wasn't upset about The Pinball Machine anymore!
Before you read on, however, bear in mind that Broken Souls has no relation whatsoever to my regular story arc -- it takes place in an alternate reality which was created by another author, so many of the events and characterizations (like James's attempted suicide and Jessie's husbands, lovers, and children by a man other than James) are things that I'd never write about in any of my regular stories. Indeed, the very reason this story exists is so that I can undo those horrible things and get our heroes back into character as much as possible.
As for the author of The Pinball Machine? I make no apologies to her. No real fan of Team Rocket would even think about killing them off in their fics, so she's not a real fan as far as I'm concerned! Alph doesn't even seem to be in the fandom -- after submitting this fic, I never heard from her again. Even her e-mail address was a dead link. I can only conclude that she was somebody who hated TR and wrote The Pinball Machine for the specific purpose of upsetting real fans. And if she was somebody who liked TR, then she sure had a weird way of showing it! At any rate, I don't care if she (or anybody else) is offended by this -- being subjected to that awful fic offended me, so I felt entitled to write this and give myself a little peace of mind.
That said, enjoy Broken Souls.
There are times
When I'm just a shell.
When I do not feel
Anything for anyone.
All I feel
Is hollow and bruised.
Used up and misused.
Forced to be someone
I don't want to be.
Have I failed
Somehow or someway?
Will the weight of today
Finally pull me down
In the depths of despair
Where I am alone
Except for my rage.
My darkest days.
Everything I touch, I break.
And I'll break you, too.
-- Stabbing Westward "Darkest Days"
Chapter 1 -- Beautiful Stranger
The woman paced nervously about the hospital waiting-room and ran a hand through her stiff, red hair. It took at least a can of hairspray every morning to get her long mane to defy as many laws of physics as it did, but the impeccable coif was finally starting to succumb to gravity and go limp after the grueling (and extremely strange) day she'd just had.
And the strangest part was, she didn't even know why she was here! The guy she brought in was a total stranger, and there was no reason for her to wait around. But for some weird reason, she felt compelled to stay and find out what had become of him.
After a few more minutes of nervous pacing, a doctor entered the waiting-room. The woman looked up at him with wide sapphire eyes.
"He's going to live," the doctor answered before she could finish her question.
The woman breathed a sigh of relief and slumped into a nearby chair.
"He's lucky you reacted as quickly as you did," the doctor continued. "Any more of that elixir, and he might not have...."
The woman looked down at the floor. "Goddamned suicide machines. Whoever invented those things ougghta be shot."
The doctor laughed bitterly at her ironic choice of words.
"Can I see him?" she asked.
"Normally, we only let immediate family members into the ICU," came his reply. "But I don't think this guy even has a family...."
"Well, if he does, they sure don't give a shit about him," she remarked.
The doctor nodded solemnly. "Right this way, miss," he said, leading her through the doors.
The man was sleeping peacefully when she arrived at his room. Not wanting to disturb him, she seated herself quietly in the chair next to his bed.
He was, quite possibly, the most attractive man she had ever seen. His soft, shoulder-length hair was a bluish-purple color, and a loose wisp of it hung in his face. And although they were now closed, she knew that he had lovely emerald-green eyes. Never before had she seen such beautiful eyes -- it was looking into those green pools that made her react so quickly when the suicide machine injected him with its lethal elixir. Seeing them fill with tears at the realization that he was going to die made her determined to do whatever she could to save him. Never should the light go out of such wondrous eyes!
Slowly, the woman reached over and traced the outlines of his handsome facial features with the tip of her finger. "Why?" she whispered into the darkness. "Why would you want to do such a thing to yourself? Why would such a beautiful man want to die?"
The man stirred slightly, and she felt her heart flutter at the prospect of seeing him open his gorgeous eyes once again. And sure enough, he did.
He looked over at her with a blank expression on his face. "Wha...what happened?"
"Shhh...." she said softly. "You're going to be okay."
Suddenly, the memories of the day came flooding back to him, and a light sparked in his green eyes. "It's you!"
The woman smiled tenderly at him.
"Jessie, how did...."
"You...you know my name?" she said in disbelief.
He nodded weakly. "That's one of the last things I remember before the poison kicked in," he replied. "You told me your name...."
Jessie thought back and recalled that she had, indeed, told him her name before he blacked out. His final words had been, Jessie, will you hold me? Still, the fact that it stuck with him, even through his ordeal, was surprising.
"How did I get here?" he asked. "I thought...."
"I pulled the needle out of your arm before you got the full dose of that suicide elixir, remember?" Jessie told him. "And as soon as I saw you pass out, I used my cell-phone to call an ambulance. The paramedics were able to give you emergency treatment before it was too late."
The man leaned back on his pillow and exhaled loudly.
"Sorry if I screwed up your plans," she said.
"No, it's okay," he told her. "I've since reconsidered my position on that issue."
Jessie smiled. "Why in hell would you want to kill yourself anyway?" she said reproachfully. "What's so horrible that it's worth ending your life over?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry."
"Well...you already know my name, but I never heard yours," Jessie said, changing the subject.
"I'm James," he replied.
Jessie smiled again. "James. Nice name."
"So's yours," he said.
Ignoring the numerous catheters and IV tubes that protruded from his arm, James reached over and took her hand in his own, entwining their fingers slightly. Jessie felt herself blushing from the thrill of being touched by this gorgeous man.
"It's funny...I wanted to die today because I didn't think there was anything worth living for," he continued as he drifted back to sleep. "Then, a beautiful angel came to me and proved that I was wrong."
Jessie laughed bitterly. "Believe me, James, I'm no angel."
James smiled at her and closed his eyes once again, continuing to hold her hand, even after sleep reclaimed him.
Chapter 2 -- Twice Bitten
Once James was asleep, Jessie pulled her hand loose from his grasp and went out into the hallway. Her mind was racing, and her heart was racing even faster.
Oh, God! Why is this happening?! Why?! she said to herself. I promised I'd never do this again!
Jessie ran her hands through her limp hair once more and sighed. Looking up at the clock on the wall, she saw that it was half past seven. She hadn't eaten since breakfast, and she was now aware of just how hungry she was. Deciding that having something to eat might clear her muddled brain, she headed for the hospital's coffee shop.
Once she had bought some food, Jessie retreated to a dark booth in the corner of the coffee shop, wanting to be alone with her thoughts.
She looked out at the twinkling neon-green lights of Viridian City as she stirred her cappuccino and found herself wondering how even in a big city, surrounded by people, it was still so easy to be alone.
Jessie hated being alone. She was alone now, and her life was an empty void. But as painful as loneliness was, the alternative was infinitely worse.
One abandonment after another. Such was the story of Jessie's life. The only person who had ever truly loved her died when she was a little girl. She still remembered the day the strange young man from Team Rocket came to her house and informed her that her mother had been killed in an avalanche. The news crushed her soul just as the snow had crushed Miyamoto's body, and she suddenly realized that she didn't know what to do with herself.
The man who delivered the news, Antonio, sensed this and took advantage of Jessie's fragile emotional state, convincing her that following in her mother's footsteps and joining Team Rocket would be the best thing to do. Without thinking about what she was getting herself into, she agreed and followed him. When she did join, Antonio took it upon himself to train her, and they became partners.
Jessie soon learned what a mistake she had made. Being forced to steal pokemon and hurt others made her feel dirty inside, and the "Boss" she answered to, Giovanni, frightened her. Still, Antonio was the only person she had, and so, she remained.
As she grew older, Antonio began to look at her in a different way, and once again, he took advantage of her naivete. She mistook his attentions for love, and desperate for a meaningful relationship...for closeness, she gave herself to him. And just like before, she didn't realize the consequences of her actions until it was too late.
When Giovanni found out that she was pregnant, he wasted no time in throwing her off of the Team. Antonio, feeling some degree of responsibility, left with her, and they were married. By age fifteen, Jessie had become a wife and expectant mother.
But the burden of pregnancy was more than her young teenage body could bear, and after only five months, she gave birth to triplets. The three tiny babies did their best to cling to life, and the doctors did everything that they could, but they all died within days of being born. Once again, the only people in the world who loved Jessie unconditionally left her.
Antonio stayed for a little while after the death of their babies, but he soon began to talk about rejoining Team Rocket. Not wanting to return to her former line of work, Jessie refused. When forced to choose between his teenage wife and a glamorous job, Antonio chose his job, and she never saw him again.
For four long years, Jessie wandered through life in a haze, not really feeling much of anything. The pain of so much loss at such a tender age made her go numb, and she was afraid she'd never find love again. Then, shortly before she turned twenty, she was reunited with Marcus.
Marcus had been her next-door neighbor when she was a child...he was also her first true love. But things never got serious between them because his family moved away shortly before the death of her mother. Now, seeing him again after ten years, she realized that she still had feelings for him...feelings that were mutual.
They married after a whirlwind courtship, but the wedded bliss was short-lived. After a few months, she became suspicious of all the late nights out with "the guys," and discovered that he was having an affair. More shocking was who he was having the affair with -- Cassidy, another of her so-called childhood friends. The divorce came shortly afterwards.
Jessie snorted as memories of Cassidy passed through her mind. The two girls had once been like sisters, but Cassidy was the jealous type, and if she couldn't have something, then neither could anybody else! And men were no exception. Jessie could at least take comfort in the fact that after Marcus left her and married Cassidy, he began to run around with yet another bimbo. Not that it mattered. The last she heard, Cassidy was just as unfaithful -- she was screwing some guy named Butch.
By age twenty-one, Jessie was an orphan, a bereaved mother, and twice-divorced. Every time she opened her heart to somebody, they invariably broke it, either by dying or betraying her. After her divorce from Marcus was final, she decided that love wasn't worth all the pain and vowed never to care about anybody or anything ever again. The trail of lovers she left in her wake over the past two years were just men that she used the same way her husbands had used her. She actually took a perverse pleasure in luring them in, chewing them up, and spitting them out.
Revenge was sweet.
But now, as she sat in the dark corner of the Viridian hospital's coffee shop, picking at a stale donut and sipping lukewarm cappuccino, she found that she couldn't stop thinking about the strange man with the emerald eyes and blue-violet hair. James.
She was attracted to him, there was no question about it. Never before had she seen such a handsome man, and the thought of adding him to her long list of lovers was an appealing one. But, for some odd reason, James was different -- she just couldn't picture herself using him and throwing him away like she had all the others. In fact, when she thought about James, her plans for him were something else entirely....
Jessie sighed and leaned back in her seat as a montage of images raced through her mind. Sitting by a fireplace with James in her arms on a cold winter night, and whispering tender words of love into his ear...lying in bed with James as he made love to her and brushed the petals of a velvety red rose across her naked body...wearing a flowing white gown as James placed a diamond ring on her finger and promised to love and cherish her for all eternity...screaming in wonderful pain as James held her while she brought his child into the world...watching a sunset on a balmy summer night and gazing into the emerald eyes of a handsome old man, smiling as he ran his fingers through her long, white hair....
Stop it!!! Jessie's mind silently screamed as she shook herself out of her reverie.
Taking a deep breath, she suddenly realized that her face was flushed, and her heart was racing once again. But this time, it was caused by both desire and fear. Why, after all these years, after she swore never to care again, was she suddenly having these feelings? No man, not Antonio, not Marcus, not any of her lovers, had ever made her feel this way before.
What made James so different? She didn't even know him...yet for some strange reason, she felt as if she had always known him. Something...some supernatural force seemed to be drawing her to him. She had just been walking down the street that afternoon when she suddenly felt compelled to enter that warehouse. And normally, she would've cared less when she saw some miserable bum ending his pointless life on one of those suicide machines. Indeed, she pretended not to care while she played the pinball game in the opposite corner of the warehouse. But when she saw him begin to cry...when she saw him push that fatal button, she could pretend no more. There was just something about him....
It was his eyes. She was sure of it. When she looked into them, she could tell that he was somebody who had suffered just as much as she had. He wouldn't have tried to kill himself otherwise. When she looked into this man's eyes, she saw true pain...she saw a reflection of her own soul.
Can this be? she said to herself. Can it be possible that I've fallen in love?
Jessie slammed down her coffee mug and shook her head. She tried to push the unsettling thought from her mind, but to no avail. Every time she thought about James, she felt her cheeks growing hotter and her heart racing faster.
No...no, I can't do this! If I open my heart to him, he'll just break it like all the others! she told herself.
Still, the temptation to look into those eyes again was too great to resist, and she suddenly found herself leaving the coffee shop and heading back towards his room, almost as if she were being pulled there by some mystical force.
Before returning to James's room, Jessie stopped in the hospital gift shop. The poor guy probably didn't have a thing in the world, so she thought it would be nice to get him something.
She browsed the aisles for several minutes. What should I buy? she wondered. A "Get Well Soon" card? No, too sappy. A stuffed pokemon? Nah! Too cutesy. A gag gift? No way! Too cheesy....
Then, her gaze drifted to the floral display, and she suddenly found her answer.
It was a small, delicate vase made of bluish-purple glass, and in the vase was a single red rose. Somehow, she knew it would be the perfect gift for James.
At $50, it was a little on the expensive side, but as she left the gift shop, Jessie knew that it was worth every penny.
As she rode the elevator back up to James's room, she admired her purchase, thinking about how beautiful the blue and the red looked together -- the glass was the exact same color as his hair, and the rose was the exact same color as hers! This made her thoughts start drifting back to the two of them spending the rest of their lives together -- getting married...having children...living happily ever after....
Stop it! she told herself again as the elevator came to a halt and the doors slid open.
But she couldn't -- the thoughts kept getting stronger with every step she took towards his room.
I'll give him the rose and walk away, she said to herself. I won't get involved...I won't let this happen...not again....
James was still asleep when she came into his room. He looked even more handsome than ever, if that were possible.
Jessie sighed. God, he's beautiful! she thought.
She was a little disappointed that she wouldn't get to look into his eyes one last time before leaving, but then, maybe it was for the best. It would be too hard to turn away if she saw those eyes again, and she knew it.
As she set the vase down on the table by his bed, she heard him begin to stir, almost as if he knew she had returned. Quickly, she made her way towards the door.
"Hey, James," she said, turning to face him again.
James looked over at the rose in the blue-violet vase. "Did you bring this?"
Jessie nodded. "I thought it would be nice...."
"It's beautiful!" he exclaimed. "How did you know that roses are my favorite flower?!"
Jessie felt her chest tightening. She had taken just one look at that rose and knew he'd love it. How, indeed, had she known? "Just a lucky guess," she said nervously.
James smiled tenderly at her. "Thank you," he said as tears welled up in his eyes.
Jessie felt her knees weakening. How could she leave now? Slowly, she came back into the room and sat in the chair next to his bed.
James took her hand in his own again. "Jessie," he said tentatively, "Why...why did you do it?"
"I...I...wanted to...get you something...that's all," she stammered, thrilled that he was touching her once more.
"No, I mean...why did you go to so much trouble for me earlier?" he asked. "Why did you save me?"
"Because I didn't see a waste when I looked at you," came her reply. "Because I saw someone worth saving." But it's so much more than that! she added silently. I did it because....
Jessie closed her eyes and shook her head. No! Don't do this! Don't let him hurt you!
James sighed. "Then you're the only one," he told her. "You're the only person in this world who doesn't think I'm a complete screw-up."
"I'm sure that's not true."
"If you only knew," he said.
Jessie smiled at him.
James returned the smile and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "I know this may sound crazy," he said, "but when I look at you, I feel...I don't know...happy. You're the first person who's ever reached out to me like this, and...I...I think...I...love you...."
Jessie panicked when she saw the sincerity in his eyes. Those forlorn emerald eyes that revealed a soul who knew heartbreak just as well as she. And somehow, she knew that if she opened her heart and let him in, he would never do anything to hurt her.
He does love me....! But, I can't do this -- I can't hurt him! her mind cried. He's in enough pain as it is. My love would only destroy him...everything that loves me dies....
Tears welled up in Jessie's sapphire eyes. "I have to go!" she said, pulling away from him.
"I can't do this, James!" she whimpered. "I can't put you through this...I just can't...." But before she could explain herself, her voice cracked, and she began to cry.
Before James could say another word, Jessie turned and ran out the door. She did her best to block out the sound of him calling her name as she raced away into the night.
To be Continued....
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