Broken Souls (Part 6)
by Cori Falls
The further I fall, I'm beside you.
As lost as I get, I will find you.
The deeper the wound, I'm inside you.
Forever and ever I am a part of you.
You and me.
We're in this together now.
None of them can stop us now.
We will make it through somehow.
You and me.
Even after everything,
You're the queen and I'm the king.
Nothing else means anything
-- Nine Inch Nails, "We're in This Together"
Chapter 14 -- The Calm Before the Storm
Jessie slowly opened her eyes and looked at the clock on the nightstand. It was 6 A.M. Then, she looked over at James, who was sleeping peacefully beside her.
She really wanted to stay longer, but she had to leave. The real world could only wait for so long.
But as she began to climb out of bed, she felt a pair of arms encircle her waist and pull her back.
"Where do you think you're going?"
James's emerald eyes glittered with a mischievous light as she turned and smiled at him.
"I have to go to work."
"No you don't," he whispered as he laid her back on his bed and began to kiss her neck. "Just call in sick."
"James, I've been calling in sick all week," she protested half-heartedly. "It's not even February yet, and I've already used all my sick days for this year! I'll lose my job if I stay out much longer...."
"Then find a new job," James said, rolling onto her. "You hate the one you've got anyway."
"That's not the point," she told him. "We've been making love for three days. We can't stay here like this forever."
But before she could continue, his lips locked with hers, and passion consumed them once more.
"James," she whispered between kisses.
"I know, Jess," he sighed. "It's just that I've never been so happy as I am right now...as I am when I'm with you. I don't ever want this to end!"
"Neither do I," she told him. "But we can't spend the rest of our lives hiding from the outside world."
James exhaled loudly. "Yeah, I know," he conceded. "Besides, I've probably gotta get back to work, too. Reality sucks."
"Definitely," Jessie agreed. "But we'll see each other again tonight."
James smiled and pulled her into another embrace. "That's right!" he said. "And today is Friday...which means we'll have the whole weekend to be together!"
Jessie returned the smile. "And who knows?" she whispered seductively as she ran her fingers down his chest and stomach. "I just might file for a leave of absence...because I've got a severe case of lovesickness, and I'm going to need a couple of months off...."
"Me, too!" James laughed. "What are the odds of that?!"
Now Jessie was laughing.
"We could go to Cinnabar Island," he said. "Leave this cold city behind for the winter...."
"Sounds wonderful, James!"
The two of them kissed again and laid together in each other's arms for a few more minutes. Then, they reluctantly got out of bed.
Jessie leaned down and picked up her dress, which had been lying on the floor in a rumpled heap since Monday night. "Well, won't I be a sight," she remarked. "The hottest topic in the office rumor-mill...."
James threw on his bathrobe and took the dress from her. "I'll iron it for you while you take a shower," he offered.
She smiled tenderly at him and pressed her lips to his. "Thanks."
After James left to get his iron, Jessie went into the bathroom and turned on the water. While she was waiting for it to heat up, she looked at herself in the mirror. And much to her amazement, she looked different than she had at the beginning of the week.
The pain that she had suffered during her life and the burdens of loss that she carried in her heart had taken a physical toll on Jessie, making her appear older than her twenty-three years. But now, she looked like somebody who didn't even know what pain was. The lines of worry that had begun to crease her face were gone, and instead it was glowing with youthful exuberance. She looked more like a teenage girl than a grown woman.
So this is what love does to a person, she thought as she gazed at her reflection. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me, James!
And he was -- his love seemed to have a revitalizing effect on her. Up until now, all of the men Jessie had been with were either uncaring or abusive...or both. She had come to associate sex with manipulation and degradation. Not so with James. When she was with him, she was made aware of just how beautiful a physical expression of love could be. The fact that he truly cared about her made all the difference -- he wasn't just gratifying himself, he was trying to make her happy as well. All that mattered was being close to each other, and what better way to do that than by sharing their bodies? There was nothing dirty or degrading about making love with him. If anything, it made her feel clean inside. The purity of his love had purified her spirit as well.
As Jessie stepped into the shower and the hot water began to flow down her body, she reflected on how wonderful the past three days with James had been...and how wonderful an entire lifetime with him was going to be.
Meanwhile, James was in the living room, ironing Jessie's dress. While he was pressing a particularly stubborn wrinkle out of the skirt, he heard scratching at the window. It was Meowth.
Setting aside the iron so he wouldn't burn the dress, James went to the window and opened it. "Hey, Meowth! Long time no see. How've you been?"
"I've been doin' okay," the cat replied. Then, he saw Jessie's dress on the ironing board and grinned. "Looks like ya ain't been doin' too bad yerself!" he added slyly.
Meowth's eyes widened and he laughed. "All right! Way ta go, Jimmy!"
James turned even redder as he buried his face in his hands. "Stop it!" he giggled.
This only made the cat laugh more. "Look at ya!" he exclaimed. "Just like a schoolboy! Meowth ain't never seen ya so happy before!"
"That's what Jessie does to me," James sighed. "She makes me happy. I swear, Meowth, I've never felt like this before! Not once in my entire life! She's the best thing that's ever happened to me!"
"So, what's the plan now dat youse two are finally together?" the cat asked.
"Well, Jessie and I want to spend some time to ourselves," he replied. "We just want to be with each other and not have to worry about anything else for awhile. We're thinking of taking a couple of months off from work and going on a vacation."
"Dat's probably the best thing ya can do," Meowth agreed. "After all the horrible things youse two have had ta deal with, ya really do need ta get away from it all."
James nodded as he continued to iron Jessie's dress. "Our feelings exactly."
When Jessie was finished showering, she found her dress crisp, clean, and wrinkle-free laid out on the bed. She smiled as she put it on and inhaled the wonderful fragrance of roses that permeated the fabric. That was just one of the many things she loved about James -- he, and everything about him, seemed to smell like roses!
She smiled at her reflection in the mirror as she began to brush her long, red hair. And when she went to put on her make-up, she realized that she hadn't been hallucinating when she was in the bathroom -- she really did look younger than she had three days ago! Jessie could scarcely believe that this new woman in the mirror was really her!
"What have you done to me, James?" she laughed.
Suddenly, she smelled a heavenly aroma coming from the other room. When she went to find out what it was, she saw James in the kitchen. He was cooking breakfast for her.
"Hey, Jess! I hope you like blueberry pancakes!"
"I love them...." she replied, coming to his side and putting her arms around his waist. "....Almost as much as the man who's making them!"
James smiled and put his free arm around her.
Then, Meowth jumped onto the counter and started purring at the sight of his two new friends so happy to be together.
"Hey! There you are, Meowth!" Jessie exclaimed. She hadn't seen the cat since the night he brought her there, and she'd been wondering what had become of him.
"You know, I think we owe our happiness all to this Meowth," James told her.
Jessie raised an eyebrow.
"I probably wouldn't have found you again if not for his help," he explained.
"Yeah. And he helped me find you, too!" said Jessie. "Maybe there's something to this destiny thing after all...."
After breakfast, James took out a piece of paper and wrote something on it.
"You never would have found my number by going through the phone book. It's unlisted," he said as he handed her the paper. "Anyway, here it is. Call me tonight when you get home from work, okay?"
Jessie nodded. But then, something occurred to her. "James, how did you know I was looking for you in the phone book?"
James smiled at her, and his green eyes began to sparkle. "Oh, a little cat told me...."
Jessie laughed and put the paper with his phone number in her purse. Then, she wrote down her address and phone number and gave it to him. "And now you can call me, too," she said.
The two of them embraced once more and gave each other a good-bye kiss.
"I'll see you tonight, right?" said James.
"Count on it!" came Jessie's reply.
Chapter 15 -- Shadow of Doubt
Once again, it was an unproductive day at work for Jessie -- all she could do was stare at her computer screen and think of her lover. Only this time, she was dreaming about her future with James instead of worrying about whether or not she'd ever see him again. The only time that day her mind was focused was when she filed for a leave of absence, asking for all of February, March, and April off. Her supervisor, knowing that she had been sick all week granted it, figuring that she probably needed some sort of lengthy medical treatment.
And she was right about being the hottest new topic in the office rumor-mill -- her co-workers were all talking about her, and the gossip was flying fast and furious. They knew she had a dark past, and she had always been the odd-woman-out for that reason, but her behavior over the past two weeks had been especially odd to them. They were all speculating about what was causing her to act so strangely.
"I heard she's getting back together with her ex-husband," some of them said.
"I heard she's thinking of rejoining Team Rocket," said others.
"I heard one of her lovers got her pregnant," still others said.
But Jessie didn't pay any attention to them -- she knew the truth...and what's more, she was too happy to care about their petty office politics. She and James were going away for a couple of months, and she wouldn't have to deal with these people again for a long time.
Five O'Clock couldn't come soon enough.
When the work day finally did come to a close, Jessie was out of the office and on her way home as quickly as possible. All she wanted was to be in James's arms once again.
She ran all the way to her apartment, and as soon as she was inside, she picked up the phone and called James.
But there was no answer.
He probably isn't home from work yet, Jessie said to herself. I'll just try again later.
While she was waiting, Jessie changed out of her dress and into a pair of blue jeans and a tight black sweater. Then, she made herself a cup of tea. After about twenty minutes, she called James again.
Still no answer.
Now she was worried.
He should've been there by now. What's going on?! she wondered.
Then, a disturbing thought occurred to her -- what if something had happened to him? Things like this are never simple, she said to herself. Should've guessed fate would still try to stand in our way....
Suddenly, Jessie was gripped by the feeling that James was, indeed, in trouble. Something had happened to him, and she had to help him! Without wasting another second, she grabbed Arbok's poke ball and sprinted out the door.
Jessie's fears were confirmed when she arrived at James's apartment. Nobody answered when she knocked, and when she tried the door, it wasn't locked.
It felt like her stomach was in her mouth as she slowly pushed the door open and looked inside.
And what she saw nearly made her pass out.
James was normally a tidy person, and he kept his apartment immaculate, but now everything was trashed. Furniture was overturned and most of his belongings were either broken or scattered about. The sapphire-blue vase she had bought for him was lying on the floor, shattered in a thousand pieces, and the wilted rose was lying crushed among the shards of glass.
She was too late.
Unable to stand any longer, Jessie sank to her knees and began to cry. As she picked up the dead rose and held it to her heart, she became completely consumed by her sadness and despair.
"NO!!!" she screamed. "WHY DOES THIS ALWAYS HAPPEN?! WHY?!"
"Please don't blame yerself, Jessie -- dis ain't yer fault!" a strange voice said.
Jessie stopped crying for a moment and looked around. "What?! Who's there?!" she asked, half-confused and half-frightened.
But all she could see was James's Meowth climbing through the kitchen window.
"No...impossible...." she whispered.
"Nothin's impossible, Jess," Meowth said as he came to her side.
Jessie sweatdropped. "A...a talking cat?! No...no, this isn't happening! This is just some weird dream I'm having...."
Meowth closed his eyes and shook his head. James had said something very similar when the cat first spoke to him. "Dis ain't no dream," he told her.
Jessie's eyes widened, and she began to laugh nervously. "Then...I must be going insane!" she gasped. "Insane. Yeah. That's it...."
Now Meowth was getting frustrated. Time was of the essence, and Jessie was too hysterical to be reasoned with. So, he did the only thing he could think of to calm her down -- he reached up and Fury Swiped her across the face.
When he did this, Jessie stopped hyperventilating and buried her face in her hands as she began to cry again.
"I'm sorry for doin' dat, but ya gotta listen ta me, Jessie! Please!" the cat said softly, placing his paw on her shoulder.
Jessie looked at him. "What's going on here?" she whimpered. "What happened to James? And how is it that you can talk all of a sudden?"
"I've known how ta talk for quite awhile, but dat story can wait til later," Meowth replied. "Right now, James is in trouble, and he needs yer help...."
"James!" she cried, picking up the cat. "What happened to him?! What?!"
"It was a little over an hour ago. He'd just gotten home from work and taken a shower," Meowth explained. "While he was in his room gettin' dressed, a woman broke into the apartment."
Jessie raised an eyebrow. "A woman?"
"She looked almost identical ta you," he continued. "She had a face exactly like yers, and the same color hair...only hers was shorter, and she was wearin' it in curls. Her eyes were different too -- a lighter shade of blue den yers. When I looked into dose eyes, I swear I saw the fires of Hell burnin' in 'em! She was a lunatic, I tell ya! A lunatic!"
Now Jessie was confused. When Meowth had said a woman broke in, she assumed it was that homewrecker, Cassidy (even though she didn't know how her former friend would have found out about James so quickly). But she quickly ruled out that possibility when the cat said that this woman looked like her. A redhead with blue eyes and the exact same face as hers? No, that definitely wasn't Cassidy. (Cassidy's eyes were a purplish-gray rather than blue, and Cassidy wasn't a redhead -- she was blonde.) Who, then, was this other woman?
"I think it was his fiance, Jessiebelle," Meowth said, as if he were reading her mind. "James told me she was...."
"Fiance?!" Jessie interjected. "James never said he was engaged!"
"What the hell was I, then?! Just one last fling before he tied the knot?!" she shouted, cutting him off again. "Shit! I should've known he was too good to be true!"
"Jess, will ya...."
"I thought James was different...I thought he really loved me! God, how could I have been so stupid?!"
Meowth ended the rant by Fury Swiping her again. "He DOES love ya, Jessie!" he snapped.
"Just calm down and listen ta me!" he said. "Yes, James was engaged ta be married, but he didn't love Jessiebelle. Dat's why he ran away from home."
"I thought he ran away because of his parents."
"True, but it was mostly cuz dey were gonna force him ta marry Jessiebelle," Meowth explained. "After the engagement was announced, she started torturin' James and followin' him everywhere he went."
"An abusive relationship...I can relate," Jessie muttered.
"But it didn't stop when he ran away," the cat continued. "Jessiebelle's been stalkin' him ever since he left her. Dat's why I think she's the one who broke in and kidnapped him...."
Jessie covered her mouth with her hand and stifled another sob.
Meowth placed a comforting paw on her shoulder once more. "I tried ta warn him when I saw dat madwoman bust through the door, but she had a Vileplume with her, and she got it ta use Stun Spore on me. Den, she attacked James. He put up a pretty good fight, as ya can see, but Vileplume stunned him, too. By the time I was able ta move again, I was too late...."
"We've got to find him, Meowth!" Jessie cried, jumping to her feet. "Where do you think she took him?!"
"Once the Stun Spore wore off, I followed 'em," he told her. "She took him to an abandoned warehouse just outside the city. I figured you'd be comin' over and dat you'd get worried when ya saw what happened here, so I came ta get ya."
"An abandoned warehouse...." Jessie said. "I think I know which one it is, too. Come on, Meowth! Let's go!"
"Hang on a sec," Meowth said. "Dat Vileplume of hers is pretty, well...vile. If we're goin' up against Jessiebelle, we're gonna need some reinforcements."
"I've already got that taken care of," Jessie replied, holding up the poke ball with Arbok inside.
Meowth nodded. "Still, I know someone who'd be awful disappointed ta miss out on all the fun." With that, he rooted through the scattered items on the floor until he found another poke ball. When he pressed the release button, Koffing emerged.
Jessie smiled when she saw James's pokemon. "Oh, it's the Koffing I gave him!"
Meowth drew Koffing back into the ball and handed it to Jessie. "Okay. Now we're ready ta go."
Jessie nodded and felt her despair give way to steely resolve. She had spent her entire life being beaten down by fate, but this time, she wasn't going to allow fate to tear her and the one she loved apart. She had been a fierce warrior once, and now, just like the battle where Ekans evolved into Arbok, she felt that warrior spirit returning. This ruthless side of her personality had always frightened Jessie, but now she embraced it. She knew she would have to if she ever wanted to see her lover again.
Hang on, James, she said to herself as she and Meowth raced out the door. I promised never to lose you again, and I'm going to keep that promise...no matter what....
Chapter 16 -- Hell's Belle
The first thing James noticed when he woke up was that he had a splitting headache.
The second thing he noticed was that he was no longer in his apartment. He was in an empty warehouse, save for the pinball machine in the far corner.
And when he tried to get up, he noticed something else -- he couldn't move because he was handcuffed to something.
"Leavin' so soon?" a voice with a cloying Southern accent asked.
"Jessiebelle," James said through clenched teeth.
A woman with curly red hair stepped from the shadows and giggled. "Surprised?"
"Not really," he replied. "I was wondering how long it'd take you to find me."
"Not as long as you'd think," she told him. "I've been watchin' you for a couple of weeks now...."
James raised an eyebrow. "Then...you're the one who...."
"Cleaned your apartment?" she said, finishing the sentence for him. "Yes, James dear. You've been gettin' rather sloppy of late. But then, you never did know how to clean anything properly, did you?"
James rolled his eyes. The last thing he needed was another lecture on the "proper" way to do things.
"You can't do anything right," Jessiebelle continued. "Can't even kill yourself without makin' a mess of it."
It was then that James saw what he was cuffed to -- the suicide machine he had tried to use almost two weeks earlier. "Well, why don't you show me the proper way...by demonstrating on yourself?" he growled.
Jessiebelle fowned. "Tsk, tsk, James dear. A gentleman never takes that tone with a lady."
James turned away from her.
She grabbed him by the jaw and forced him to look at her once more. "But don't worry, beloved. You will see the proper way to use this device soon enough."
James smirked. "You can't kill me," he said. "You'd never be able to get my parents' money if you did."
"True," she conceded. "But you aren't the one I'm doin' the demonstration on...."
His eyes widened as he realized what she was planning.
"Yes, James," Jessiebelle said. "Your little whore is goin' to come lookin' for you, no doubt...and I'll be ready for her when she arrives."
"That's why you brought me here? To set up a trap?" James asked. "How do you even know she'll come?"
Jessiebelle smiled. "Like I said, I've been watchin' you for a couple of weeks now, James dear. I know this place has...significance for you and that harlot. And I know the cat saw me bring you here...."
James scowled as he watched Jessiebelle push the "Yes" button on the computer terminal and start filling a syringe with the lethal elixir that the suicide machine began to pump out. He kicked at her, but she simply stepped out of his reach.
"And the best part," she continued, "the best part is, that nobody will suspect a thing. After all, who'd be surprised to find a lonely young woman that's just been jilted by her lover as the latest victim of the accursed suicide machine?"
"I know you're obsessed with me, but why are you dragging Jessie into this?!" James demanded.
Jessiebelle looked down at him, and an angry light sparked in her pale blue eyes. "Because, James dear, I'm disappointed in you," she hissed. "How could you let that dirty little succubus take your purity?! You were intended to be the first with a lady of quality like me, not the hundredth with a low-born thug like her!"
"Don't flatter yourself!" James snapped. "Virgin or not, I wouldn't touch you if you were the last woman on earth!"
Jessiebelle's eyes narrowed to slits, and her lips pulled into a wicked grin as she knealt down and straddled him. "I think we both know that's a lie, James dear," she said seductively. "After what you did with that slut...that slut who looks exactly like me...you must find me desireable, too."
"No. I just think it's an insult to Jessie," James replied. "I love her because she's as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. But you? You're just a demon with the mocking face of an angel...."
Jessiebelle slapped him. "How dare you?!" she cried. "How dare you speak of her like that?! She's a whore, James! A WHORE!!!!!"
"Well, I'd rather have Jessie as my whore than you as my wife!" James sneered.
"I'm afraid you don't have a choice, my love," Jessiebelle said, caressing his face where she had slapped him a moment before. Then, she grabbed him by the chin again and pressed her lips against his.
James quickly pulled away from her and spit on the floor.
"Spittin's a filthy habit, James," she reproached him. "Something else you learned from that little bitch?"
"Is somebody talking about me? My ears are burning!"
The two of them turned and saw Jessie standing in the doorway.
Jessiebelle grinned and rose to her feet, pulling a whip from her belt.
"Get out of here, Jessie!" James cried. "It's a trap! She's going to...."
Jessiebelle silenced James by cracking her whip across his face and knocking him to the floor.
Jessie was infuriated by what this woman was doing to her lover, and she wanted nothing more than to rush to his side and protect him, but she forced herself to keep her emotions in check. She knew that Jessiebelle was up to something and that if she didn't remain focused, it might cost not only her life but James's as well. (Jessie recognized the "If-I-can't-have-you-nobody-can" mentality when she saw it.) Besides, she already had a plan....
"Oh, damn! And here, I thought the two of us were going to be the best of friends!" she said sarcastically.
The madwoman chuckled and stepped closer. Seeing what a striking resemblance Jessiebelle bore to her shocked Jessie, but she stood firm.
"What do you want?" she demanded, trying her best to stall for time.
"My beloved James, of course!" came her reply.
"He's not your James...he never was," Jessie told her.
"You're wrong!" Jessiebelle retorted. "He was promised to me when we were children! He belongs to me!"
Jessie shook her head. "James doesn't belong to anybody but himself. His heart is his to give as he chooses...and he chose to give it to me."
"That's not all he gave you," she growled. "He was supposed to be mine and mine alone, but you defiled him."
"I believe that was his choice to make as well," said Jessie.
Jessiebelle scowled. "Shut up."
"Look, he DOESN'T love you!" she said. "He ran away from home when his parents tried to make him marry you, and he runs away every time you come near him! Take the hint!"
Now Jessiebelle's anger gave way to rage. "I SAID SHUT UP!!!" she screamed, cracking her whip and lashing Jessie across the face. "James is mine! You can't have him!"
Jessie placed a hand to her cheek and felt blood oozing from the cut. She frowned. "You just don't get it, do you?" she said.
Jessiebelle cracked her whip again, but before Jessie could dodge, it wrapped around her legs. Jessiebelle yanked the whip, and Jessie fell, hitting her head on the concrete floor when she landed.
The deranged Southern belle laughed as she watched Jessie try to stand again. "No, dear, I think you're the one who doesn't get it," she said as she stepped over to Jessie and reached for her. "James belongs to me, and you can't come between us!"
"But James and I love each other," Jessie retorted. "And nothing can come between two people who truly love...."
Jessiebelle grabbed her by the hair and hauled her to her knees. "So, you and my James are in love, are you?" she sneered. "A beautiful romantic tale if ever I heard one, but you're forgettin' something, Jessie. All the great love stories are tragedies...and I think yours will be no exception...."
Jessie struggled to break free, but Jessiebelle tightened her grip on her hair and brought out the syringe.
"So ends the story of Jessie. Oh, well. Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, I guess...."
But as she went to inject Jessie with the suicide elixir, she suddenly cried out and reeled forward. The syringe flew from her hand and went skidding across the floor. Then, Jessiebelle screamed again and toppled over.
Now that she was free, Jessie turned around and saw a small purple cloud grinning at her.
"Good work, Koffing!" she said, breaking loose from the tangles of Jessiebelle's whip and getting to her feet again. Then, she delivered a swift kick to the madwoman's side, knocking the wind out of her.
Suddenly, Jessie felt a pair of arms encircling her waist and another pair encircling her legs. It was James and Meowth.
"Jessie, are you okay?" James asked.
"I'm fine, James," she replied, returning her lover's embrace. "What about you?"
He nodded and held her closer. "So am I...so am I. Thank you Jessie, Meowth."
Jessie smiled. Her plan had worked perfectly.
(She knew that Jessiebelle would be ready for her, so instead of just busting into the warehouse, she gave the poke ball with Koffing to Meowth and got him to sneak in through a back window. Meanwhile, she kept Jessiebelle distracted while the cat freed James. Once he had picked the locks on the handcuffs, James sent Koffing to tackle Jessiebelle.)
James then hugged Koffing. "And thank you for saving Jessie," he said. A tear of joy rolled down his cheek and landed on top of his pokemon.
"Come on, youse guys!" said Meowth. "Let's call the cops and get dat psycho locked away before she comes to!"
Jessie and James nodded, but as Jessie reached for the cellular phone in her purse, the air around them filled with sparkling golden powder. Suddenly, she, James, and Meowth found that they were unable to move.
"What's going on?!" Jessie cried.
"Oh, no! Not this again!" James wailed.
"It's Stun Spore!" Meowth growled. "We're too late!"
Jessiebelle laughed and stepped in front of them. Her Vileplume was at her side.
"Oh, no, no, no, dears," she said smugly. "I'm not defeated as easily as that."
"I should've guessed," James said under his breath.
"Vileplume, one more time!" Jessiebelle commanded. "Stun them all into submission!"
"Huh?" Jessiebelle turned around and saw James's pokemon frowning at her. "Looks like Vileplume will have to take care of you, too."
Suddenly, Koffing began to glow with a blue light, and he grew to twice his original size. His one frowning face became two as another, smaller bud appeared on his side. "Wee-zing!"
"What the?!" Jessiebelle cried.
Jessie smiled. Koffing had evolved the same way Ekans did -- with the love of his trainer.
Now James was smiling, too. "Weezing! Hit her with your Sludge attack!"
Weezing spit out a river of black ooze at Jessiebelle and knocked her to the floor once again.
"Oh, you hideous beast!" she wailed, trying to wipe the noxious sludge from her white pants and maroon jacket.
While she was down, Weezing drifted over and nudged the poke ball on Jessie's belt. There was a flash of light, and Arbok was at his side.
"Both of you at once?" Jessiebelle said, getting to her feet again. "Fine. Vileplume, Petal Dance!"
As the flower began to twirl about, some of her large red petals flew off and rocketed towards Arbok and Weezing.
But Jessie and James reacted quickly.
"Weezing! Toxic attack!"
Before the razor-sharp petals could slice Arbok, Weezing, and their two trainers to shreds, the cobra sprayed her venom and disintegrated them. Then, Weezing exhaled a cloud of poisonous gas that sent Vileplume reeling. But even though the flower was weak to poison, she recovered quickly and retaliated with a Vine Whip attack....
While the pokemon were battling, Jessiebelle backed away and grabbed the syringe she had dropped earlier. Then, she quietly made her way back so that she could finish what she had started.
Jessie and James were so busy commanding their pokemon that they didn't even notice her sneak up behind them. But just as Jessiebelle was about to inject Jessie with the elixir....
"Arbok! About face!" Jessie suddenly shouted.
The cobra turned away from the battle with Vileplume and trained her sights on Jessiebelle instead.
"Body Slam, now!" Jessie commanded.
"Chaaaar-bocka!" she hissed.
Jessiebelle sweatdropped, but before she could turn and run, Arbok whacked the madwoman with her tail. The force of the impact caused her to fumble with the syringe and drop it once again.
"Viiiiile-pluuuume!" the flower cried as she whipped relentlessly at Weezing.
James frowned as he watched his pokemon in action. Weezing was doing his best to dodge, but he was still taking a lot of hits. Granted, what he lacked in speed, he made up for in defense, and he was able to withstand the onslaught. Since Arbok had to leave the battle to protect her trainer, however, he was alone.
If only there were something more I could do, he thought.
Suddenly, he found that he could move again. (Vileplume's Stun Spore attack had been a weaker one this time, so it had worn off faster.) And when he looked, he saw that Jessie and Meowth were able to move, too.
"Meowth, you help Weezing with Vileplume!" he said. "Jessie, Arbok, and I will handle Jessiebelle!"
"You got it!" Meowth replied. With that, he unsheathed his razor-sharp claws and charged forth.
Weezing groaned as Vileplume landed another hit with her Vine Whip attack, but he stood firm. He wasn't going to let his friends down. Still, he didn't know how much more he could take....
Then, Meowth darted in and delivered a round of Fury Swipes to his assailant, severing the end of one of the vines.
Vileplume recoiled and cried out in pain. This gave Meowth and Weezing a few seconds' purchase, and they took advantage of it. The two pokemon exchanged glances and charged simultaneously. Another round of Fury Swipes from Meowth and a Tackle attack from Weezing was enough to knock Vileplume out. She was down for the count.
"Arbok! Double-Edge attack!" Jessie cried, wheeling around to face her pokemon's battle with Jessiebelle.
The cobra hissed and slammed Jessiebelle again as she made another attempt to retrieve the syringe. Jessiebelle was sent sprawling to the floor, and she began to scream.
Jessie and James stepped closer as she got to her knees. Suddenly, she brought her hands up and started to cry. "No! No, it wasn't supposed to happen like this!"
James knew that Jessiebelle was every bit as phony and manipulative as his parents, and he was unmoved by her sudden display of emotion.
Jessie frowned. She had no sympathy for the woman who had tried to kill her either.
Jessiebelle looked up at them, tears still streaming down her face. "It wasn't supposed to happen like this," she whispered, holding out her hands.
When Jessie and James looked closer, they saw a red mark on Jessiebelle's right wrist...and the syringe lying on the floor with a smear of blood on the needle. She had been injected with her own elixir when she fell.
James covered his mouth with his hand and turned away. Jessie, however, locked eyes with her dying nemesis.
"Please help me," Jessiebelle whimpered. "You saved James...."
"That's because when I looked at him, I saw a good person...someone worth saving," she replied coldly. "But when I look at you, I see someone who almost drove a good man to his death...and tried to kill me. Give me one good reason why I should help you now."
"So that's it, then?! You're God?! You get to decide who lives and who dies?!" she cried, collapsing to the floor. Unlike James, Jessiebelle had gotten a full dose of the elixir, and it was already starting to take effect.
"Spare me the guilt trip," Jessie told her. "This was all your doing, so the only thing being saved for you is a place in Hell...."
Lacking the strength to do anything else, Jessiebelle just began screaming again, but Jessie turned away from her. She and James closed their eyes and embraced as the screams abated to a whimper and slowly faded away. Even though they hated the woman with a passion, they took no pleasure in what had just happened, and they had no desire to witness her demise.
Once everything was silent again, they turned and saw Jessiebelle lying perfectly still. Her skin was pallid, and she had stopped breathing.
"Is she...." James asked tentatively.
"Dead," Meowth replied, examining the body more closely.
James exhaled loudly and hung his head.
"I know," Jessie said softly, caressing his face. "You hated her, but you didn't want it to come to this either...."
"But it has," he sighed, looking down at the Southern belle's lifeless body. "Why couldn't she understand?"
"Maybe this is for the best," she told him. "James, you're safe now. If we sent her to jail she'd just get out eventually and start tormenting you again. But that's not going to happen now. You don't have to be afraid because she isn't going to hurt you anymore."
James put his arms around her. "You're right, Jessie...you're right."
Jessie rested her head on James's chest and closed her eyes as she listened to the relaxing sound of his heartbeat...a sound that had almost been silenced forever because of the woman who now lay dead at their feet. Still, Jessiebelle's last words echoed in her mind and filled her with guilt. Could James really love her now? Even after what had just transpired?
"James...." she began.
"Come on, youse guys. Let's get outta here," Meowth said, cutting her off. "Arbok and Weezing need ta get medical attention at the pokemon center...and so does dat Vileplume."
Jessie and James nodded and drew Arbok and Weezing back into their poke balls. Then, they took the poke ball from Jessiebelle's body and called back Vileplume as well. Embracing each other once again, they left the abandoned warehouse and hurried to get to the pokemon center before it closed for the night.
It was well past midnight when the two of them finally made it back to Jessie's apartment. (Meowth had volunteered to stay at the pokemon center with Arbok and Weezing, so she and James were alone.)
"You look exhausted," James remarked as Jessie seated herself on the couch and held her face in her hands. "Why don't you lie down while I make us some tea?"
Suddenly, he heard sobbing.
She gave no reply.
"Jessie, what's wrong?" James asked, seating himself next to her.
Jessie still didn't answer him -- she couldn't because of her crying.
"Shhh...it's okay, Jess. It's okay," he whispered, putting his arms around her.
Jessie hugged back and buried her face in his shoulder. "I love you so much, James," she muttered in a broken voice.
"I love you, too, Jessie," he replied, kissing her on the forehead and stroking her hair.
Jessie looked up at him, tears streaming down her face. "Even after everything that's happened?" she asked. "Even though I have the same face as that monster? Even though I'm a monster too because I as good as killed her?"
James brushed her tears away and held her closer. "Jessica, you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. I don't hate you because you look like Jessiebelle -- I hated her in spite of the fact that she looked like you!"
Jessie smiled at him.
"And never blame yourself for what happened tonight," he continued. "I know what she said, but you can't let it get to you! Jessiebelle was a master of manipulation, and if you start thinking that you're a murderer because you didn't save her, then she wins. Like you said -- she brought it all on herself. You didn't kill her...she was killed by her own hatred."
"So...you still love me?"
"Of course!" James replied. "If anything, I love you more than ever, Jessie! Once again, you saved my life -- you really are my angel!"
Jessie put her arms around him once more and kissed him tenderly on the lips. "Thank you," she whispered.
James returned the kiss, and the two of them fell asleep in each other's arms, knowing that this time they really would be safe forever.
Two months later....
It was a warm spring morning on Cinnabar Island. The sun was shining down on a young man with blue-violet hair and a young red-haired woman, who were lying on the beach with their Meowth, Arbok, and Weezing. The ocean waves crashed softly on the shore, playing a peaceful music in their ears.
Suddenly, the man reached over and took the woman by the hand.
The woman turned and smiled at him. "Something on your mind, James?" she asked.
"I've just been thinking about the past couple of months," came his reply. "Jessie, I can't believe how much my life has changed...and it's all because of you!"
"You've changed my life, too!" she said.
"It's strange," he continued. "How one moment, I was so depressed that I wanted to die, and the next moment, I'm the happiest man in the world! And all it took was a chance meeting...."
"You know something," she said. "I really don't think it was chance...it was destiny! Every time I look at you, James, every time I look into your eyes, I get the feeling that this was meant to be!"
"I feel the same way, Jessie!" he told her. "I think...I think that even if our lives took completely different courses...even if we made different choices, we still would have ended up together."
Jessie gazed into his eyes again and nodded. "Yes. We would have."
"Such is the nature of soul-mates," the Meowth, who had been listening in on their conversation, remarked.
Jessie and James looked down at him.
"Dey say dat when two people are soul-mates, dey're destined to meet, fall in love, and be together forever, no matter what," the cat continued. "And after seein' what youse guys have been through, dere ain't a doubt in my mind dat youse two are soul-mates."
James grinned. "Then that settles it! There's only one thing we can do!" he exclaimed.
Jessie raised an eyebrow as she watched James reach into his backpack. "James, what are you...."
James silenced her by placing a finger to her lips. "Jess, I've wanted to ask you something for a long time now," he said, holding out a small box.
A light began to shine in Jessie's sapphire eyes as she pulled her lips into one of her trademark smirk-smiles. "And what would that be?" she asked slyly.
James opened the box and took out a golden ring. It had a setting of emeralds and sapphires encircling a tiny diamond. Then, he got out of his lounge-chair and knealt before Jessie, taking her left hand in his own.
"Jessie...will you marry me?"
She looked into sparkling emerald eyes.
"Yes, James," she whispered as he placed the ring on her finger.
(And they all lived happily ever after!)
Author's Note: I know it may seem odd that I killed off Jessiebelle in this story, given my hard-line anti-death-fic stance (I was actually accused of hypocrisy because of this O_o), so let me take this opportunity to clear a few things up. First of all, when I used to have a rant section, in one of my rants, I stated in no uncertain terms that while I DO have a beef with fics where the main characters die, I don't really mind death in fanfic when the character who dies is canonically dead, a character of the author's own creation, a minor character who isn't really an important part of the show, or a truly and irredeemably evil villain. And as far as I'm concerned, Jessiebelle is both a minor character AND an irredeemably evil villain, so I don't really see a problem with what I did. Moreover, my main beef with death-fics is that they're usually written by people who claim to like the characters that they're killing off. I, however, make no secret of the fact that I despise Jessiebelle. If I'd killed off a character that I like, then it really would be hypocritical, but I didn't -- I killed a character that I hate! Are we understood now? Good!
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