Illustration by Shigeru1313.
Broken Souls (Part 4)
by Cori Falls
So impressed with all you do.
Tried so hard to be like you.
Flew too high and burnt the wing.
Lost my faith in everything.
-- Nine Inch Nails, "Somewhat Damaged"
(Hmmm...can ya tell I listened to a lot of NIN while I wrote this?)
Chapter 8 -- Meowth's Secret
When James awoke the next morning, he found his new Meowth curled in his lap, purring softly. When he began to stir, the cat awoke and looked up at him.
James smiled and scratched behind the Meowth's ears. "So, you're not afraid of me anymore?"
The Meowth smiled back. "Nope," came his reply.
James's eyes grew wide, and he sweatdropped.
"What? Whatsa' matter?" the cat asked in a thick Jersey accent.
"C-c-c-can y-y-you t-t-t-talk?!" he stammered, jumping to his feet and backing away from the pokemon.
"Whaddaya think I'm doin' now?"
James ran a hand through his hair and began to pace about the kitchen. "Oooohkay! This is NOT happening...this is just some whacked-out dream I'm having...."
The Meowth jumped onto the table and looked up at him. "Oh, come on! Is it really so hard ta believe?!"
James looked back at him. "As a matter of fact, it is!" he replied. "Pokemon only say their own names! What in hell am I supposed to think when I hear a Meowth talking like a human?!"
The cat closed his eyes, and a tear rolled down his face. "Baka! I shoulda' known somethin' like dis would happen. What made me think it'd be any different dis time?" he muttered.
James raised an eyebrow. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It always happens!" the cat cried, hanging his head. "Ya don't like me anymore, do ya?! Ya think I'm some hideous freak-Meowth! It never fails -- whenever I try ta share my secret, I scare people away...."
"I never said I didn't like you," said James. "You just startled me, that's all. I've never seen a talking pokemon before...."
The Meowth looked up at him, an expression of disbelief on his face. "Ya mean, ya don't think I'm some sorta abomination? Ya don't wanna get rid of me now?"
He shook his head. "Why would I do a terrible thing like that?! I still like you...and I think it's wonderful that you know how to talk. It makes you one of the smartest, rarest, and most valuable pokemon around! Anybody who'd hate you because of that is insane!"
Meowth saw the sincerity in James's eyes and smiled. More tears began to stream down his face. "Ya really mean dat, don't ya?!"
James nodded and picked the cat up again. The two of them embraced.
"Meowth! I can't believe it!" he cried. "I finally found somebody who undastands...."
"Where did you learn how to talk anyway?" James asked as he seated himself at the table once more.
"Ya sure ya wanna hear the story of Meowth's life?"
Chapter 9 -- The Cat Who Walked Alone
Meowth sighed and closed his eyes. "Well, ta begin with, I never knew my parents. The first memory I have is of bein' thrown away by the people who owned me. I don't remember dere faces, but I do remember how dark the alley dey left me in was...and how cold the rain felt when it soaked through my fur...."
"That's awful!" James, who still felt guilty for almost abandoning his Koffing, interjected.
"And I remember the hunger," he continued. "I was always hungry...and dere was never anything ta eat. For the first few years of my life, I survived by pickin' stuff outta garbage cans."
James frowned and handed the cat a slice of his pizza, which he hadn't gotten around to eating the night before.
Meowth took the pizza and began to eat. "I couldn't go on like dat...I just couldn't -- I needed somethin' more outta life, ya know?" he said between mouthfuls.
"I know the feeling," James sighed. "I know it all too well."
"And I was so lonely," he said. "All I really wanted was ta be loved...but no such luck. I mean, look at me! I ain't beautiful like Vulpix, or rare like Eevee...I'm just a common, scruffy street-pokemon! Who would ever want Meowth?
"Well, dat was when I decided ta do somethin' about it! If I wasn't special, den I was gonna make myself special...I'd do somethin' dat no pokemon had ever done before -- I'd learn how ta speak like a human!"
"And I'd say you did a damn good job," James remarked.
Meowth nodded. "It wasn't easy at first, but I caught on eventually. Mostly I'd just hang out and listen ta people. Den, I'd try ta imitate it with my own voice. I can't tell ya how many times folks threw stuff at me and screamed at me ta quit caterwaulin', but I didn't listen. Nope, Meowth just laughed and thought about how sorry dey'd be when I eventually did learn how ta talk!
"And I'll never forget the day it happened -- I had just listened in on a conversation some people was havin', and I was now tryin' ta repeat what I'd just heard. As I struggled ta form the sounds, my Meow, meow, meowth suddenly became, Hello, how are you?
"I was shocked! Shocked, I tell ya! It felt so strange ta hear my mouth...my voice formin' actual words! But it was a good kinda strange, ya know? Once I started, I couldn't stop -- I had to learn more! I was thirsty for knowledge, so instead of roamin' the streets at night like all the other stray Meowths, I started sneakin' into bookstores, libraries, newsstands, anything dat had printed material...and before long, I found myself readin'!
"Well, now I could talk...and I could read! Suddenly, I didn't feel like such a lowlife anymore. I felt more like a human den a pokemon, and I thought I should start actin' as such. I didn't wanna crawl around before my equals no more, so the next thing I taught myself was how ta walk upright. Just like learnin' ta talk, it was hard at first. Like my vocal cords, my muscles weren't built for things like dat, and I had ta completely re-train myself. It hurt so much, and my hind legs felt so weak when I tried ta stand and move about, but I worked through the pain. And just like the talkin' and the readin' I suddenly found dat one day, I could do it!"
Meowth sighed. "But all dat learnin' had its price. I spent so mucha my time and energy becomin' like a human dat I lost mosta my pokemon abilities. The only attacks I know are Bite and Fury Swipes, and dere the only ones I ever will know -- I'll never get any of the great Meowth attacks like Pay Day, no matter how hard I try. I've become completely useless as a pokemon."
"But still," James protested.
The cat laughed bitterly. "At first, I thought it didn't matter...dat bein' able ta speak would make up for it, but I was wrong. Whenever I tried ta show people what I could do, dey'd just run away, screamin' in terror. Soon, rumors about a freakish devil-Meowth started spreadin' like wildfire across the city. Humans began ta attack stray Meowths on sight, which didn't endear me ta my fellow pokemon. All the other Meowths knew I was the one causin' trouble for 'em, so dey ran me outta town...."
"How sad," said James.
"It's been the story of my life ever since," Meowth continued. "Every city...every town...every village I ever came to. Whenever I tried ta talk ta folks, dey'd just get scared and chase me away. I tried so hard ta become like a human, but I only ended up bein' hated even more den I already was. And since I gave up my powers as a pokemon ta do it, I'm hated by other Meowths, too!"
"But I saw you with a gang of Meowths when you got attacked yesterday," James argued.
"Dat's because when my travels finally brought me here ta Viridian City, I vowed never ta let it happen again. I stopped talkin' and tried ta walk on all fours once more," he explained. "And it worked, too. The stray Meowths of dis city ain't heard the tales of the freak-Meowth, so when I pretended ta be normal, dey accepted me as one of the gang.
"I was able ta stay dat way for a few months, but yesterday I had a relapse. When we was robbin' dat deli, I just felt compelled ta stand and run like a human once again...and it almost got me killed. If ya hadn't come along when ya did...."
James shuddered as he remembered what Nurse Joy had told him. Then, looking back at Meowth, "If you were trying to hide your secret, then why did you speak to me?"
"Cuz I trust ya," came his reply. "Ya saved my life, ya gave me friendship and a new home...and...I dunno. Ya seem different from other humans. When I look at ya I see somebody who's suffered as much as Meowth has. I see...."
"....A reflection of your own soul?" James ventured, finishing the thought for him.
Meowth nodded. "How'd ya know?!"
"Anyway," the cat continued. "I took one look at ya and knew you was a good person. I knew I could trust ya."
James smiled. Somebody else who has faith in me! Jessie really WAS right!
Suddenly, Meowth smacked himself on the forehead. "Jeez! We been talkin' all dis time, and I don't even know yer name!"
"James. Nice ta meet ya!" he said, extendeing his paw.
"Looks like I've got a new friend," James laughed, shaking the cat's outstretched paw.
Meowth smiled at him. "Friend. I like the sounda dat. Ya know, for the first time in my life, I actually feel like I belong -- I feel...complete...."
James returned the smile. "I wish I could say the same for myself...."
Meowth saw the sadness in his emerald eyes and gave him a quizzical look. "Whaddaya talkin' about?"
"A few days ago, I almost died," he explained. "My life seemed so pointless, and I tried to end it. But then...." He reached over and picked up the vase with the rose in it. "....A beautiful woman with hair as red as this rose and eyes as blue as this glass came along. She saved me...made me realize how much there is to live for! I love her, Meowth, but she's suffered as much as we have, and she's afraid of something...."
"And the only way ta end her sufferin' is ta face it with her...ta help her the same way she helped you?" the cat concluded.
"Yes." He closed his eyes. "I met Jessie once when we were children. I suspected at first, but now I'm sure of it -- there's a reason for all of these strange coincidences! I know it sounds corny, but I believe everything that's been happening these past few days is a sign! I believe that Jessie and I are bound by destiny somehow! That she's the only person who can make me happy...and I'm the only person who can make her happy...."
"Hey! Ain't nothin' corny about true love, James!" Meowth told him. "I'll be glad ta help ya find dis Jessie!"
James raised an eyebrow. "You will?!"
He nodded. "Sure! After all ya done for Meowth, it's the least I can do!"
"Thank you, Meowth...I really appreciate this," said James. "But how are we ever going to find her? This is a really big city, and I don't even know where to begin looking...."
The cat grinned. "Don't worry about it! Just leave everything ta Meowth...."
To be Continued....
Special thanks to Shigeru1313 for the adorable illustration of Meowth sitting on James's shoulder! ^__^
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