Illustrations by Shigeru1313.
Broken Souls (Part 3)
by Cori Falls
I can't shake this feeling from my head....
I cannot make this feeling go away.
I know it's not the right thing,
And I know it's not the good thing,
But kinda I want to.
I'm not sure of what I should do,
When every thought I'm thinking of is you.
All of my excuses turn to lies.
Maybe God will cover up his eyes.
I know it's not the right thing,
And I know it's not the good thing,
But kinda I want to.
Kinda I want to,
Maybe just for tonight,
We can pretend it's all right.
What's the price I pay?
I don't care what they say.
I want to...I want to....
(I'll take my chance tonight....)
-- Nine Inch Nails "Kinda I Want To"
Chapter 6 -- Rout to Revelation
Jessie walked aimlessly down the street. It had been a week since she'd rescued James from the suicide machine, and she still couldn't get him out of her mind. Everywhere she looked, she saw his handsome face. Every sound she heard was the sound of his beautiful voice. Every night, he haunted her dreams. She tried to deny it...tried to banish the thoughts from her head, but it was impossible -- she was in love with him.
And she knew that he was in love with her, too! He had even told her so! And when she had looked into his sparkling green eyes, she saw nothing but sincerity in them. He wasn't like the other men -- his feelings were true!
Which was precisely why she couldn't have him.
It's for the best...it is.... she told herself over and over again. Think about it, Jessie! Who are the only people in the world who've ever loved you like that? Momma and the children. And what happened to them? They all died, that's what! They all left you! Loving you is a death sentence! Everything that loves you dies....
Hot, bitter tears rolled down Jessie's cheeks as these thoughts passed through her mind. "It's different with James, though!" she said aloud.
"Yes. He's the only person I've met who didn't die because of my love!" she continued, ignoring the stares she was beginning to attract from passersby. "James would've died if I weren't there! He's alive because of me!"
But is it a chance you want to take?
Jessie thought about it for a moment. An image of James dying in her arms flashed through her mind, and it broke her heart to behold. "No...no, I can't do that to him...." she whispered. "But still...."
Don't get involved, Jessie!
"But he was going to kill himself because he was alone!" she protested. "He told me that I was something worth living for, and I ran away from him! What if...."
He's in love with the idea of you, she told herself. He has an image of you now...that's all he needs. He'll only end up getting hurt if you really do get involved with him....
"I know that, but I still owe him an explanation!" Jessie retorted. "James needs to know why I can never have him...no matter how much I want him, too!"
Don't do it, Jess! If you look into those eyes again, there'll be no going back!
Jessie sighed. In her mind, she knew that she was right, but her heart still yearned for James.
Unable to walk any further, Jessie seated herself on a park bench and hung her head. Her heart and her mind were pulling her in opposite directions, and she didn't know what she wanted anymore.
But just as she was about to start crying again, a teenage boy wearing a Pokemon League baseball cap walked by and seated himself on the bench next to her.
"What's the matter, kid?" Jessie asked, noticing that he looked just as depressed as she was.
"It's my Pikachu," the boy sighed. "I have to challenge the leader of the Viridian Gym in order to win an Earth Badge, but my Pikachu isn't strong enough to defeat his pokemon...."
Jessie frowned and looked down at the tiny electric mouse in the boy's backpack. He didn't look like he was any higher than tenth level. The boy would never be able to beat the Viridian Gym's leader with such a weak pokemon. She knew this because she knew the gym leader personally -- Giovanni, leader of Team Rocket...and her former boss. One measly Pikachu would never be a match for the powerful ground-type pokemon that he commanded.
"Pikachu needs more experience," the boy continued. "I haven't faced many challengers on my journey, so he hasn't had that many opportunities to battle."
Jessie nodded. "I see."
Suddenly, the boy's face brightened. "Hey! Do you have any pokemon, miss?"
"I have an Ekans...."
"That's great!" he exclaimed. "Can we have a battle? Please? My Pikachu's just GOT to get more experience!"
Jessie closed her eyes and considered this for a moment. It was hopeless, really. That Pikachu would never be strong enough to win an Earth Badge for his trainer. Besides, she really didn't feel like battling. Jessie had once dreamed of becoming a pokemon master herself, but she had since given up hope. Back in her Team Rocket days, she and Ekans had been fierce warriors, destroying all trainers and pokemon who dared to oppose them. They had been virtually unstoppable! But after the death of her children, Jessie's fighting spirit died. She and Ekans hadn't been the same since. Shadows of their former selves. Still, she decided to be polite and humor the boy.
"Fine," she conceded, taking a poke ball out of her purse. "But I should warn you, we're really out of practice. It's been almost eight years since Ekans and I have been in a pokemon battle...."
The boy laughed. "I am Ash Ketchum from the town of Pallet, and I'm going to win!!" he cried triumphantly.
Jessie rolled her eyes and tossed her poke ball. "Go, Ekans," she said indifferently.
"Ekaaaa...." the small purple snake hissed as she emerged.
Ash turned his baseball cap backwards. "Pikachu! I choose you!"
"Pikaaaa!!!" the little mouse squealed as he jumped from the boy's backpack and landed before Ekans.
There was something about that moment. Seeing her pokemon standing before an opponent and assuming a battle-stance sparked something inside of her. For the first time in years, she felt like the old Jessie -- the Jessie she had been before the weight of the world crushed her fragile soul. She felt her warrior spirit returning!
"Pikachu! Thundershock!" the boy shouted, taking the initiative.
But Jessie reacted quickly. "Ekans! Go underground!" she commanded.
The mouse began to crackle and spark with electricity, but before he could unleash his attack, the snake burrowed into the earth, where it couldn't hurt her. Once the bolts of static faded away, Ekans sprang up from the ground and knocked Pikachu off balance.
"Ekans! Bind him!" Jessie, who was now getting into it, cried.
Ekans coiled herself around Pikachu and began to constrict.
"Pikachu! Give it another Thundershock!" an increasingly dismayed Ash wailed.
The mouse sparked again, but the attack wasn't enough to faze Ekans, who continued to squeeze her victim.
Jessie grinned. "Finish him, Ekans! Poison Sting!"
The snake sank her sharp fangs into Pikachu's neck and injected him with poison. Within seconds, he was unconscious.
"No! Pikachu!" the boy cried, scooping up his injured pokemon.
"Yes! Ekans wins!" Jessie exclaimed, jumping up and down and clapping her hands. "Oh, Ekans! You've still got it!" It was a moment of pure, unadulterated happiness for her -- something she hadn't experienced since she was a child (and even then, those moments had been few and far between).
She then picked up Ekans and gave her a hug. And for the first time in her life, a tear of joy rolled down Jessie's cheek. The tear landed on top of Ekans's head, and the snake suddenly began to glow with a pale blue light!
"Augh! What's going on?!" Ash cried.
Jessie quickly set the glowing pokemon down and took a step back. "I think Ekans is...evolving!" she replied.
Sure enough, Ekans began to grow larger and larger. Her scales became a deeper shade of purple and took on a sparkly iridescent sheen, and her wide amber eyes narrowed and became more angular, darkening into a shining obsidian black. A flaring hood with fearsome markings on the underside unfurled on the back of her neck. "Chaaaar-boka!" she hissed once the transformation was complete.
"Whoa! What is that?!" Ash said, pointing his pokedex at the newly evolved snake.
"Arbok. The cobra pokemon," the pokedex said in a monotone robotic voice. "The markings on its underside are said to vary from region to region...."
"Arbok!" Jessie gasped, looking up at her new pokemon. "Arbok, you're absolutely beautiful!" Tears of joy were now flowing freely down her face.
The cobra bowed her head and nuzzled against Jessie. Even though her body had changed, she was still the same loving pokemon on the inside. Jessie threw her arms around the snake and hugged back.
"Wow! That's some pokemon!" Ash remarked. "Where did you get it?"
"I got her a very long time ago...almost thirteen years now," came Jessie's reply. "It was Christmastime...."
Ash frowned. "You mean you didn't catch it?"
Jessie shook her head.
"Awww," he said, disappointed that he wasn't going to hear a tale of how the mighty pokemon this woman commanded had been captured and tamed.
"It's okay," he said, cradling his unconscious Pikachu and heading for the Viridian Pokemon Center. "I need to get him healed anyway. I've gotta become a pokemon master someday. I've just gotta...."
Get used to disappointment, kid.... Jessie said to herself as she watched the boy leave.
Chapter 7 -- A Friend For Life
Once Ash was gone, Jessie sat back on the bench and closed her eyes. Arbok coiled herself around her master, who was now recalling the day she got her pokemon. She hadn't technically captured Arbok, but the two of them had been brought together in a very special way, indeed....
It was a cold afternoon in early December, and Jessie had just celebrated her tenth birthday. It had been almost a year since Miyamoto's death...almost a year since she joined Team Rocket.
"Get dressed," Antonio said, barging into her room and tossing her a trainee uniform. "You're going on your first mission today."
Jessie looked up at the older Rocket with wide blue eyes. "Are...are you sure I'm ready for this?" she asked in a shaky voice.
"Sure I'm sure!" he replied. "I've been coaching you on how to do it for months, haven't I? Now that you've got your trainer's license, all you've gotta do is get your first pokemon!"
Jessie frowned. "I just don't think stealing is right...."
Antonio grabbed Jessie by the collar of her shirt and backhanded her across the face. "You're not getting paid to think, Jessica!" he snapped. "Just do as you're told!"
Jessie hung her head and began to cry.
"Stop sniveling and get changed," he growled, shoving the black uniform into her hands. "You're wasting time."
"Fine," she grumbled as Antonio took his leave.
Once she was dressed in her Team Rocket uniform, Antonio drove her to the Celadon City mall and dropped her off near the entrance to the poke mart.
"Alright, you know what to do," he said sternly as he handed her some poke balls and smoke bombs. "I'll be back to pick you up in an hour. And remember...if you get busted, I don't know you. So, DON'T screw this up!"
Jessie nodded weakly and got out of the car.
Once Jessie was inside the poke mart, she browsed the aisles for several minutes, trying to decide what kind of pokemon to steal. She really wanted to get a Chansey. Her mother once had a Chansey before she died, and they were supposed to bring good luck. Unfortunately, most of the pokemon were already sold out since it was getting close to Christmas, so she didn't have too many choices.
But before long, her gaze drifted to a small cage with an Ekans and a Koffing inside. As soon as she saw the Ekans, she knew she had to have it -- it was the most adorable snake she had ever seen, and she had always loved reptiles anyway. It was perfect!
However, as she approached the cage, she saw that a little boy about her age was already there, staring at the pokemon. He was wearing a tattered coat and an old scarf that looked like it was coming unravelled, and Jessie guessed that he was just as poor as she had been. She could tell that he really loved one of those pokemon, but she also knew that he'd never be able to afford it...not even at the special "Reject Liquidation" price. So, she decided to make up for the bad deed she was about to commit by combining it with an act of generosity....
"Like the pokemon, kid?"
The boy turned and looked at her. Jessie's heart skipped a beat when she got a better look at him. A loose wisp of his shoulder-length blue-violet hair hung in his face, and his green eyes were like two sparkling emeralds -- he was adorable!
"Uh...y-yeah," he stammered.
Jessie smirked. "I can get it for you at a significant discount...if you're interested," she told him.
The boy looked around for a moment. "You mean stealing?" he whispered.
Jessie nodded. "This is my first assignment...and I'm really nervous. If you help me shoplift these two pokemon, I'll let you have one of 'em," she whispered back, lifting her cap slightly and gazing into his eyes.
The boy hesitated for a moment, but then, he gazed back into her eyes and smiled. "Okay," he said softly. "What do I have to do?"
Jessie looked at the store clerk from the corner of her eye. "Keep him busy while I swipe the pokemon," she said under her breath.
The boy nodded and slowly made his way to the checkout counter. Then, he engaged the clerk in a conversation.
Once she was sure the clerk was sufficiently distracted, she walked over to the cage and looked down at the two pokemon.
"Hello," she said softly, holding her hand out to them. "Hello there, little cuties...."
For several minutes she did this, speaking gently to the pokemon and telling them what happy homes they would be getting for Christmas. The Ekans and Koffing were a little wary of her at first, but they soon realized that she was telling them the truth, and they warmed up to her.
But just as she was about to sneak them into the poke balls Antonio had given her, she heard the boy shout, "RUN FOR IT!!! HE KNOWS!!!"
Jessie looked up and saw the boy holding back an enraged store clerk, trying his best to keep him from pressing the alarm.
Quickly, she pulled the poke balls from her belt and held them out to Ekans and Koffing. "Get inside! Hurry!" she cried. The poke balls activated, and the two pokemon allowed themselves to be drawn inside. Then, Jessie clipped them back to her belt.
At that moment, Jessie could have escaped. It would have been so easy to make a clean getaway and leave that boy to take the rap for her, but she couldn't. She thought again about his beautiful emerald-green eyes and realized that she could never hurt him like that. Besides, she had a promise to keep....
Quickly, she pulled a smoke bomb from her belt and lobbed it at the clerk. When the bomb detonated, he stopped beating the boy and began choking on the clouds of white smoke. Jessie made her way towards the smoke and heard the boy coughing and gasping for air. Closing her eyes and relying solely on her hearing, she reached out and grabbed the boy by the wrist, pulling him away.
"Come on! Let's get outta here!" she cried, leading him towards the exit.
Quickly, the two children ran out of the store and fought their way through the enormous throngs of Christmas shoppers. Once they reached the parking lot, they decided that it would be safe to stop.
"Thanks, kid," she said to him. "I couldn'tve done it without you."
The boy smiled at her. "Thank you for not leaving me behind," he replied.
Jessie returned the smile and took the poke balls from her belt. "Well, I promised you a pokemon for helping me, so which one do ya want?" she asked.
The boy's smile became a grin. "The Koffing!" he exclaimed.
"Coolness! I wanted the Ekans anyway!" she said, tossing him the poke ball with the Koffing in it. "Now we both have poison pokemon! We match!"
The boy hugged the poke ball to his chest.
At that moment, he looked more adorable than ever. The child-like wonder shining in his green eyes made him look so beautiful. How could she resist?!
Jessie stepped closer to him. "I just noticed something else, too."
"What?" the boy asked.
She pointed up at the lightpost they were standing next to. It was covered in Christmas decorations. "We're under the mistletoe. You know what that means?"
He licked his lips. "A...a kiss?" he said tentatively.
He was nervous! This made him even more charming in Jessie's eyes! She nodded and cupped his chin in her hand. Then, she gently pressed her lips to his. After a moment, he put his arms around her and began to kiss back. The feeling of his mouth on hers was wonderful...like nothing she had ever felt before.
They remained that way for several minutes. Finally, the honking of a car horn in the distance made him break away from her. It was Antonio!
"That's my ride," Jessie said sadly, reluctant to leave the boy already. "I've got to go...."
As she turned away, he placed a hand on her shoulder. "Wait," he said. "What's your name?"
But before she could answer him, the black sedan pulled up and Antonio leaned out the window. "Come on! We gotta get back to HQ before the cops come!" he snapped.
"Hang on, Antonio!" Jessie snapped back. She wanted to tell this cute little boy her name...and find out more about him before she left.
"Get your ass in the car, NOW!" he commanded.
Jessie cast a sad look at the boy before geting into the sedan. "Alright, alright," she sighed.
As Antonio sped away, Jessie turned around. A tear rolled down her cheek as she took one last look at the adorable little boy -- the boy with the enchanting emerald eyes that would haunt her forever....
Suddenly, Jessie snapped out of her reverie. "Oh, my God! That was him!" she cried.
"Char-bok? (What the?!)" Arbok, who had been startled by her master's sudden movement, said.
"Arbok, do you remember the day I got you?"
"Do you remember that little boy that I gave your friend, Koffing, to?"
The cobra thought for a moment. "Char-boka. (Yeah, I remember.)"
"That was him! That was James!"
Arbok gave her a quizzical look. "Char-arbok? (You mean that guy you've been going nutty over this past week?)"
Jessie nodded and closed her eyes. "I thought there was something familiar about him...I had the feeling that I'd met him somewhere before...and I have!"
Then, something occurred to her.
"Maybe this isn't just a coincidence, Arbok!" she said, her eyes beginning to sparkle. "Maybe I was supposed to be in that warehouse after all! Maybe things really will be different with James!"
Arbok nuzzled against her trainer. "Char-bok. (Then, go and tell him how you feel.)" she said.
Now something else occurred to Jessie. Arbok had always been her loyal companion...somebody who trusted her and loved her unconditionally. And Arbok hadn't died like Miyamoto or the children -- if anything, Jessie's love had only made her stronger...made her better! If Jessie hadn't come into Arbok's life, she may very well have been stuck in that cage at the poke mart forever! Now she knew that she had been right earlier -- James wasn't going to die if he fell in love with her. If anything, her love had saved his life!
The realization that she was capable of being loved after all overwhelmed her, and she collapsed on the bench once again. Jessie threw her arms around her pokemon and began to cry more tears of joy than she ever thought possible.
"Yes," she whispered. "Yes. I will tell James how much I love him! The two of us really are meant to be! I can feel it!"
With that, she got up and headed towards the hospital as fast as she could.
To be Continued....
Special thanks to my friend, Shigeru1313, for the awesome illustrations of Jessie with Ekans and Jessie with Arbok! ^_^
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