Hearts Crying Out
by Cori Falls
"Looks like Team Rocket's blasting off again!" James, Meowth, and I cried in unison as the Viridian Gym exploded, and we were blown sky-high.
Then, to add insult to injury, the sparkling green Earth Badge that I was holding fell from my hand and landed on the ground next to the brat. My stomach turned as I watched him pick it up and hold it aloft. I'm just glad nobody noticed the tears that were falling from my eyes.
Somehow, I knew this was going to happen -- nothing seemed to be going right for us today....
Well, it started out as a pretty good day. We had followed that twerp, Ash, and his two friends to Viridian City, where they hoped to challenge our boss for the Earth Badge. At that moment, the little pests were waiting their turn outside the gym, and the three of us were spying on them from the roof of a nearby office building.
Suddenly, James began to laugh.
"What's so funny?" I asked, reaching for his binoculars.
"That little redhead is kicking the crap out of him!" he chuckled.
I leaned over the ledge and shaded my eyes, in order to get a better look. And sure enough, Misty was screaming at Ash and shaking him like a rag doll. When I saw this, I couldn't help but laugh, too! (She may have questionable taste in boyfriends, but that kid's sure got spunk...I've gotta give her that!) "What's happening?" I asked. "What's all the commotion?"
"I don't know," came James's reply. "It's all happening so -- OUCH! What did you do that for?!" he shouted, placing a hand on his rear and wheeling on Meowth.
"What?" the cat asked innocently.
"Meowth, I demand to know why you kicked me!" James said sternly.
"Don't flatter yaself!" Meowth snapped. "I wouldn't waste my time kickin' you!"
The two of them scowled at each other, but before a fight could ensue, Misty's Togepi stepped between them.
"Huh? What's Togepi doing here?" I asked.
"Meowth! It's rainin' rare pokemon!" Meowth cheered.
James smiled. "It's not Pikachu...but it's the next best thing!"
Now, I was smiling, too. "Nice Togepi," I crooned, picking up the tiny egg pokemon. "Cute little Togepi! The boss is just going to love you!"
But suddenly, Togepi jumped out of my hands and began to walk across a narrow wooden plank that led to the roof of the next building.
"Togepi! Come back!" I cried.
Togepi ignored me and continued to cross the plank.
Well, I certainly couldn't let the little guy get hurt out there...and besides, if we brought him to the boss, we'd be sure to get a promotion! Either that, or he'd at least give us a break about catching that Pikachu. "Togepi! I'm coming to save you!" I called out as I began to crawl across the plank.
James waved his arms about. "Jessie! Jessie! You can do it!" he cheered.
I couldn't help but smile. Of all the people in the world, James is the only one that always has complete faith in me. Still, his shouting was breaking my concentration, and it was a long drop to the street below!
"Will you shut up?!" I snapped. "I'm trying to...."
But before I could finish yelling at him, the plank broke in half, and I began to plummet.
I was screaming at the top of my lungs as I fell, but I could still hear James cry, "Jessie! I'll save you!" Then, in a flash, he and Meowth were gone from the roof.
When I looked down, I saw James standing on the sidewalk, holding out his arms to catch me! My heart skipped a beat at the sight -- he was just so sweet...so gallant...so....
....Off the mark. He had miscalculated the path of my fall by a couple feet, and I ended up going splat on the pavement anyway. (Oh well. I guess it's the thought that counts.)
"Jess! Are you okay?!" James wailed as he peered down into the hole I had made in the street.
"Fine," I groaned. Togepi jumped down from the roof and landed on my head, and I grabbed him once again. "Just fine...."
Then I blacked out.
When I finally regained consciousness, we reported to the gym so that we could present Togepi to the boss. I felt so proud of myself! I was sure he'd love to get such a rare pokemon, but when I showed it to him, he was less than impressed. Well, actually, he was furious!
"You fools!" he screamed. "You search for months, and this is all you bring me?!"
Huh? What did he mean by that?!
"You're total incompetents!"
As Giovanni continued to rant at us, I fumed silently. Can you imagine the nerve of that guy? We catch a rare pokemon for him, and all we get is more flak! Sometimes, I wonder why we even bother.
Thankfully, the phone rang, and he forgot about us for a moment. His expression grew even angrier as he listened to the person on the other end.
"I have to go...there's been an emergency," he told us after he hung up. "I'm leaving the three of you in charge of the gym while I'm gone." With that, he pulled three poke balls out of his desk and handed them to us. Then, he stormed out of the room.
I smiled as I looked at the poke balls in my hands. "Do you know what this means?" I said once he was gone.
Meowth grinned. "We just became...."
"....Gym Leaders!" James cried.
The three of us embraced and did a victory dance. Gym Leaders! It was like a dream come true!
But it was too good to last.
"Um, I think we have a problem," Meowth said suddenly.
"What problem?!" I demanded. "We're Gym Leaders now!"
"Togepi is gone!" he cried. "We coulda' used him as bait to capture Pikachu!"
"Hmmmm...." James said thoughtfully. "That's a good idea, Meowth! That really would make the boss happy! Let's go find him!"
So began our search for Togepi.
The three of us wandered the dark, twisting corridors of the Viridian Gym for what seemed like hours, but there was no sign of Togepi anywhere.
Then, Meowth thought he heard something and went bounding ahead. James and I followed. At length, he brought us to a long hallway with a door at the end.
"Togepi must have gone in there!" I concluded, pushing the door all the way open and going inside.
James and Meowth followed me, but as we began to descend the creaky wooden staircase, the door suddenly slammed shut behind us. The noise spooked Meowth and caused him to jump into the air and land on James's back, which caused him to slam into me. The three of us tumbled down the stairs and landed on the floor in a tangled heap.
"Watch it, you clumsy cat!" I growled as I rubbed my elbow. I had hit my funny bone when we landed, and my whole arm was tingling.
Ignoring me, Meowth reached up and pulled a string that was hanging from the ceiling. The room was then illuminated by the dim glow of a lightbulb.
"What is this place?" James asked.
"Looks like the basement," I told him, indicating the storage crates that lined the walls. A computer terminal was in one of the far corners.
We searched the room for several minutes, but we didn't find Togepi anywhere.
"What a waste of time!" I snapped, kicking one of the boxes aside.
"Yeah! This sucks!" James agreed. "I say we go back upstairs!"
Nodding, the three of us went back up the staircase. But when James tried to open the door, it wouldn't budge.
"Here. Let me try," I said. I wiggled the doorknob a little, and then, I started pulling on it. Suddenly, it broke off in my hands!
In a fit of rage, I began to kick the door, and James pounded it with his fists, but to no avail.
"Oh, good one, Jess! Now we're trapped!" Meowth grumbled.
"Don't you dare blame me for this!" I screamed.
"Yeah! You're the one who led us here!" James added, coming to my defense.
That's my James! I thought as a smile spread across my lips. I can always count on him to take my side when an argument breaks out.
"Yeah?! Well yer the one who let Togepi escape!" Meowth retorted.
"He's right, Jess," said James. "You were the last one to have Togepi, so this really is all your fault."
My smile quickly vanished. Maybe I was wrong.
"Excuse me, but I'm the one who risked my life trying to capture the damn thing in the first place!" I shouted. "I don't remember you two cowards doing anything!"
"Cowards?!" James shouted back.
The two of us were nose to nose. What was going on? Why had James turned on me all of a sudden? I was so confused and angry -- I really wished that I had my mallet with me so I could knock some sense back into him!
"Baka humans! We gotta find a way outta here!" Meowth snapped, breaking us apart.
"You're right...you're right...." I said, turning away from James and taking a deep breath.
"But how?" James asked.
"Maybe that computer over there can help," Meowth suggested.
The computer! Why hadn't I thought of that?! "Yeah! There's probably a floor plan in there that'll show us how to get out!" I agreed.
The three of us switched on the computer, but we didn't find a floor plan. What we did find was the Team Rocket database with all of the personnell files!
Naturally, curiosity got the better of us. So, once I located our file, I clicked on it and brought it up.
And what I saw broke my heart.
According to Giovanni's official files, James would be clever if he weren't so dim-witted, Meowth has the amazing ability to speak without saying anything worth listening to, and I have a great potential for evil that I'm too self-absorbed to use. And what's more, together the three of us have made some of the most incredible bungles in the history of the Team Rocket empire!
Well, I knew the boss hated us, but jeez! Actually seeing it in print made me want to cry! Sure, I tried to act tough and pretended to be flattered, like the only thing I noticed was the part about my "great potential," but it really did hurt. And, truth be told, I didn't even like that!
Evil -- every time I hear that word, it cuts me to the core. Is that all people see when they look at me? Am I really such a monster? I know I'm not very nice, but that's just the way I grew up. My mother had to raise me alone (I never knew my father -- he abandoned us before I was born). It was just the two of us, and we had no money or food. Plus, we lived in a really bad neighborhood, which means that my childhood was a constant struggle to survive. I had no choice but to become tough! Life has a way of always beating me down, and let me tell you something -- when you get shoved, the only thing you can do is shove back! Anger...violence...it's the only way I really know how to express myself. I've tried being gentle, but I'm just not very good at it -- it's not who I am. Yes, I'm hard...I'll admit that, but I'm not evil! After all, is an evil person capable of feeling love...like how I feel about my momma...my pokemon...and most of all, my James?
James. I looked over at him, bragging about how the boss thought that he was clever. And Meowth, happy that the boss called him amazing. But I could tell -- they were just as heartbroken as I was, and like me, they were only trying to hide it.
Suddenly, James looked over at me, too. When our eyes met, he smiled and came to my side.
"He thinks we're an incredible team, Jess!" he said, putting an arm around my shoulders. "We shouldn't fight so much!"
Now I was smiling once again. James was back to normal! "Yeah," I sighed, returning the hug.
I guess the three of us reached some sort of unspoken agreement not to talk about what the files really said. So, instead, we passed the time swapping old stories about some of our almost-victories. Of course, none of us wanted to remember the parts where we were inevitably defeated, so, we each took a few...creative liberties with our tales.
And somehow, that led to another fight....
"I don't need either of you!" I shouted after James and Meowth had the nerve to call my Salon Roquet idea stupid. (Where did they get off insulting me like that?! James didn't have any room to talk -- he enjoyed dressing up and grooming all of those pokemon just as much as I did! And it was all Meowth's fault that the plan was ruined anyway -- if he hadn't opened his big mouth, we wouldn't have been run out of town!)
"Me either!" James shouted back.
"Then I guess that settles it -- we're all going solo!" I snapped. "I don't need Team Rocket anyway!"
"No more Team Rocket!" James agreed.
"That's fine with me!" Meowth growled.
With that, the three of us went our separate ways. (Which wasn't saying much, considering the fact that we were still locked in the basement of the Viridian Gym -- we each sauntered off to a different corner so that we could sulk and be as far away from each other as possible.)
I sat down on a wooden crate and buried my face in my hands. What the hell was that fight all about anyway? We were only trying to forget our troubles by telling stories, and then, we just blew up at each other! I guess the boss's words hurt us more than we wanted to admit, and we just took it out on each other.
And because of the hurtful things I said, I had just lost my two best friends in the entire world.
I know I don't always act like it, but I really do care about Meowth. I'll admit it -- the little fuzzball's grown on me! He's the only Meowth in the world who knows how to speak and walk on two legs. And a trainer didn't teach him that, either -- he learned it all by himself! How could the boss not be impressed with him?! Besides, he's a really good friend. I honestly don't know what James and I would do if that cat weren't there to keep us in line!
And James? Well...I love James.
I mean, what's not to love? He's just so damned sexy -- that hair, that voice, that body...and those eyes! Don't even get me started on his eyes -- I could stare into those lovely emerald-green pools forever! He is, quite possibly, the most beautiful man in existence!
And he's every bit as beautiful on the inside as he is on the outside. James may pretend to be evil, but he only does it to avoid being punished by the boss. However, when Giovanni isn't around, he's proven over and over again just what a sweetheart he really is! There was the time during the Princess Festival when he cheered me on during the tournament for the princess dolls. Then, when I lost, he dressed himself as a doll for me! And there was also the time that Meowth and I tried to make him marry his fiance, Jessiebelle, so that we could get his money. But when his parents forced him to choose between his inheritance and his friends, he chose friendship! He could've been the richest man in the world, but he chose to be with me instead! Hell! Even a few hours earlier when I had fallen off of the roof, he looked so worried about me, and he tried to catch me!
To tell you the truth, my life kind of sucked before I met James. Okay, it REALLY sucked. He's the first person who ever reached out to me and wanted to be my friend. And what's more, he's always stood by me, no matter how bad things have gotten -- he followed me when we flunked out of Pokemon Tech, he followed me when I joined the bike gang in Sunny Town...and he followed me when I joined Team Rocket. He didn't want to join, but he did it anyway because he wanted us to stay together! He's made so many sacrifices for my sake -- I couldn't ask for a better friend than him!
So, how could I possibly think that I'd be better off without him?
A tear spilled down my cheek as I thought about this. I love you so much, James, I said to myself. Every time I look at you, my heart cries out to say, "I love you!" I want to say it more than anything, but I can't....
And why can't I tell him how I feel? I know all too well -- it's because I'm afraid to. To tell him that I love him would be to make myself vulnerable...and I can't do that! Besides, what if he doesn't feel the same way? I know he's done a lot of sweet stuff for me and that he's a really good friend, but love? I'm not so sure about that. How could James ever love me after all of the times that I've yelled at him and beaten him up...and as much as I hate to admit it, I think it's my appearance, too. I denied it at first, but I know that I look almost identical to his fiance. She's the reason he ran away from home and gave up all his money in the first place! So, how could he possibly bring himself to love a woman who has the exact same face as the person he hates the most?
And as I looked over at him, sulking on the opposite side of the basement, I couldn't help but wonder if he now hated me, too. I wouldn't blame him if he did.
I began to cry again. I didn't mean it, James...I didn't mean what I said to you...if only I could say what I really meant....
Suddenly, I heard Meowth say, "Uh, guys...I was thinkin'...."
It was just something about the tone of his voice. Quickly, I wiped my tears away and hugged the cat. "You don't have to say it -- I feel the same way!" I told him.
Then, James looked over at us and smiled. "If you're talking about getting the team back together again, then count me in!" He ran to my side and pulled me into a tight embrace.
I released my hold on Meowth and threw my arms around James. Sobbing, I buried my face in his shoulder. His body heaved slightly as he pulled me closer and began to run his hands through my hair -- he was crying, too!
We pulled away a little and gazed into each other's eyes. There was such a gentle, loving look on his face -- I just wanted to kiss him! And it would've been so easy, since his mouth was mere inches from mine.
James leaned closer to me, and that loose wisp of his purple hair flopped forward and brushed against my face. It felt softer than silk, and I smiled at the tickling sensation it created. Then, I began to inch closer to him. I could now feel his warm, sweet breath on my lips.
Oh my God! This was it! It was finally going to happen!
But then, I heard an all-too-familiar (and incredibly irritating) voice cry out, "Togepi! Hey, Togepi! Where are you?"
It was the brat! Somehow, he had gotten into the gym! And he had just ruined what was about to be my first real kiss with James! God, I hate that kid!
"Meowth! Ash is right outside!" the cat exclaimed.
"We've gotta find a way out of here! Now!" James said, pulling away from me. "We have a gym to defend!"
He was right -- the moment had been ruined, and I had to get my head out of the clouds. Smoothing my hair, I walked back to the computer terminal. "Come on, guys," I said. "Let's see if we can't figure this thing out."
After a few minutes of searching, I was finally able to bring up a floor plan.
"Hey! There's another door in the basement!" James remarked as he studied the map. "It's right...."
The three of us looked up and saw a door marked "Exit" right next to the computer.
"....There...." he finished.
We all fell over.
"It was there all along!" Meowth cried, smacking himself on the forehead.
"That doesn't matter now," I said, getting back to my feet. "This floor plan is...interesting. With a few minor adjustments, I think we can rig the gym so that Ash loses for sure!"
"A booby-trapped gym?!" James said. "Oh, Jess, you're so clever!"
My heart skipped a beat at those words -- I just love it when he calls me Jess! It's so sweet! At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to give him a hug and finish that kiss we almost started, but I knew that I had to stay focused.
And, so, the three of us got to work....
Predictably, Ash and his friends were waiting in the arena -- I could hardly wait to beat him in a pokemon battle and wipe that smug look off his face! (Like, I said, he ruined the kiss-that-almost-was between me and James. Revenge would be mine!)
This was going to be the battle to end all battles, so James and I had to make this grand entrance our best ever! Together, we switched on the spotlight and stepped onto a large, red platform. James pulled a lever, and the platform rose up into the arena. And then....
"Prepare for trouble!"
"And make it double!"
"To protect the world from devastation!"
"To unite all peoples within our nation!"
"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"
"To extend our reach to the stars above!"
"Oh, no! It's them!" the brat moaned.
Well, I hate that kid to begin with, but now, I was REALLY mad! He was ruining everything for us today! "Why do you little twerps always interrupt us before we get to finish?!" I demanded.
They started whining about how we always say the same thing, but we shut them up real quick when we announced that we were the current leaders of the Viridian Gym!
Ash didn't look too thrilled at the prospect of battling me (he probably knew I was going to mop the floor with him)! But when I held up the sparkling green Earth Badge for him to see, the temptation was too great to resist!
"What do you say we use three pokemon each? No time limit!" I suggested.
"Sounds fine to me!" he snapped.
With that, I laughed and threw the poke balls that Giovanni had given me. "All three pokemon! GO!!!" I shouted.
When the poke balls landed, a Machamp, a Kingler, and a Rhydon appeared.
Ash turned his cap backwards and threw one of his own poke balls. "Squirtle! I choose you!" he cried. (And he complains about US always doing the same thing?! What a little hypocrite!)
I laughed again as the tiny turtle emerged before Giovanni's pokemon. Even without our secret weapons, this battle was as good as won!
Everything was going perfectly -- at my behest, Machamp proceeded to Karate Chop Squirtle into oblivion! Then, the platform that Ash was standing on began to spark, and jolts of electricity began to rip through his body.
"That's one of the custom features of our gym!" James explained when he saw the dumbfounded looks on the twerps' faces. "The trainer gets to feel all of the pain that their pokemon does!"
"Do you want to quit now, kid?" I laughed.
"Never!" Ash shouted, withdrawing Squirtle and sending out his Bulbasaur.
And just like before, his puny pokemon was no match for Giovanni's Kingler.
Looking down, I saw James and Meowth begin to dance as they watched the brat get electrocuted again. I wanted to join in on the fun, but I had a battle to finish. There would be plenty of time to celebrate later!
On his last legs and his last pokemon, Ash shouted, "Pidgeotto! Quick Attack!"
Then, in the inevitable (and improbable) twist of fate that always seems to bring about our defeat, the bird actually landed a blow on Rhydon's chest.
Suddenly, my platform began to glow, and an electric spark made my feet tingle.
"Pidgeotto! Double Edge attack!" Ash shouted, taking advantage of my surprise. (Boy, he sure did recover from those shocks awfully quick! How come James and I never get to bounce back like that?!)
Once again, Pidgeotto slammed into Rhydon, and my platform lit up with electricity. I screamed in pain as the 10,000 volts coursed through my body.
No! This can't be happening! I thought. We're supposed to win! I'm supposed to have my revenge....
"James! Why did you set it up to give shocks on both sides?!" I demanded.
"I didn't think it would matter," he said sheepishly. "It never occurred to me that we could lose...."
Sigh! His confidence in me was flattering, but he should've known by now that if we're going to stack the odds in our favor, we have to go all the way! Sometimes, he's just too naive for his own good....
"TURN IT OFF!!! TURN IT OFF!!!" I screamed.
Now, he had a look of sheer panic on his face.
Fortunately, however, Meowth had a contingency plan. He pulled out a remote control that would blow up the platform that Ash was standing on!
But then, in another unlikely twist of fate, Gary came to Ash's aid and tackled Meowth, wresting the remote from his grasp and sending it skidding across the floor.
I was devastated! All of our brilliant plans were falling apart right before my eyes! But at that moment, I looked down at James, and he looked up at me.
"We can do anything together! Right, Jess?" he said as our eyes interlocked.
My spirit was rekindled by those words! God, I love him! "Right, James!" I replied.
With that, I threw two more poke balls, sending Arbok and Weezing into the arena.
And then, in the most unlikely (and unkind) twist of all, Ash sent out Pikachu, and one little Thunderbolt was all it took to zap Arbok, Weezing, Machamp, Kingler, Rhydon, and me into oblivion....
Everything was black.
"Jessie! Can you hear me?!" I heard James cry.
"Can ya move?" Meowth asked nervously.
Slowly, I opened my eyes and saw my two friends hovering over me. They both looked worried.
As the memories of what had just happened came flooding into my mind, I became enraged. And since the twerps were all the way on the other side of the gym, I took it out on poor James and Meowth instead.
"I'm lucky I can even breathe after what you did to me!" I screamed as I pounded them with my fists. "Why did I get the shocks?! What kind of stupid plan was that, anyway?!"
"Hey, Jessie!" Ash said smugly. "I won the match fair and square! Now I want the Earth Badge I earned!"
My face turned as red as my hair, and hot, bitter tears welled up in my eyes when I heard this. Not only had I lost...I had been humiliated, too! At that moment, I really did wish those electric shocks had killed me!
But I wasn't about to let the little brat see how upset I was. Wiping my tears away, I turned and made a nasty face at him. "Well, you're not getting it!" I sneered.
Predictably, the little pests became self-righteous and started whining about what cheaters we were.
James smiled at me. "Brilliant, Jess!" he said. "We have something that he wants...and he has something that we want! Maybe we can get Pikachu after all!"
"We really are a great team!" Meowth chimed in.
Instantly, my bad mood lifted. They were right -- even now, there was still a chance that we could twist things to our advantage!
"Oh, James," I whispered.
"Yes, Jessie?" James whispered back.
We began to lean towards each other again. Maybe it was going to happen after all!
But just before our lips met, Meowth screamed, "STOP! GET AWAY FROM THAT THING!!!"
James pulled away from me and looked over at Meowth. Dammit! Once again, our almost-kiss was interrupted!
"What's going on?" we asked in unison.
Meowth pointed to the ground. When we looked, we saw Togepi holding the remote control that was wired to blow up the platforms.
And you guessed it...he pressed the button that was hooked to the platform we were standing on....
Boy! Today sucked! I said to myself as the three of us soared through the clouds, blasting off to who-knows-where.
"Looks like we goofed again," James moaned, as if he could read my mind. "Maybe the boss is right about us...."
"Don't be a fool, James!" I snapped. "We had Ash right where we wanted him! We've never been so close to defeating him before! And you know what that means...."
James grinned. "It means that next time, we'll catch Pikachu for sure!"
I sighed. I wished I could believe this, but in reality, I knew that it just wasn't going to happen. After all, if even our best-laid plans could be ruined by so little, then what hope did we have? The answer was...we didn't....
After blasting off, we landed in a hammock of trees in the middle of Viridian Forest. By then, it was starting to get dark, and the prospect of spending the night in that awful place wasn't an appealing one. So, we decided to walk back to the city. Besides, we left all of our stuff in our hotel room that morning, and we'd have to go back for it eventually anyway.
We made the return journey in silence. After being electrocuted, blown up, and blasted off, I just wasn't in the mood for pleasant conversation. Besides, James and Meowth were probably just as upset as I was. The last thing they needed was to be bothered with my troubles.
When we finally made it back to our room, it was almost nine o'clock.
"Why don't you guys call room service and order some dinner?" James groaned as he headed for the bathroom to take a shower. "I am WAY too tired to cook tonight...."
Meowth nodded and picked up the phone. Too exhausted to reply, I flopped down on the couch and closed my eyes.
James was still in the shower when the food arrived about twenty minutes later. Meowth and I were starving, and the smell of the roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, and corn was too much to resist! We couldn't wait, so we started without him.
After we were done eating, James still hadn't returned, and this worried me. He's never one to miss a meal! I thought. I wonder what's going on?
"I'm going to check on James," I said to Meowth, trying to hide the concerned tone of my voice.
The cat nodded, leaning back on the couch cushion and picking his teeth. He was probably too stuffed to notice.
I went into the bedroom and found James changing into his pajamas. His face was contorted in a wince of pain, and he looked like he was about to cry.
"Hey," I said. "I saved some dinner for you...."
"I'm not hungry," he said softly. "I just want to go to bed."
Now I really was worried! "James, are you okay?" I asked.
"I'm fine," he whimpered as he hobbled towards his bed. "I'm just tired...that's all."
"You look like you're hurt," I said. "Come on, James. Tell me what's wrong."
"It's my back," he replied. "I think I twisted it when we landed earlier...."
I gritted my teeth when I heard this -- when your back hurts, your whole body hurts! And he had walked all the way here like that?! Poor sweetheart -- he must've been in agony!
"Take off your shirt and lie down," I said gently. "I'll give you a nice massage."
James raised an eyebrow and looked at me like I was crazy. My heart sank -- was it really so strange for me to want to do something nice for him? Apparently so.
Still, I persisted. "Come on," I said, unbuttoning his silk pajama top and sliding it off. "It'll make you feel better."
Oh, wow! I'm undressing James! I thought as I tossed the shirt aside and gazed at his beautiful body. This is like a dream come true!
James smiled shyly at me, and I helped lower him onto his bed.
Once he was lying on his stomach, I took off my gloves and began to rub my hands along his back and shoulders.
"Mmmmmm...that feels good, Jess," he muttered.
I smiled and rubbed a little harder. "That's right...just relax, James," I whispered as I worked the knots out of his aching muscles.
Even after all of his tension was gone, I continued to caress his neck and shoulders. Then, I ran my hands all the way down his back and let them linger a little too long when they got to his behind.
James sighed contentedly, and I blushed. Did he know how much I was enjoying this?
Quickly, I went back to massaging his shoulders. Then, one by one, I took his arms and rubbed along them, too, even caressing the palms of his hands. When I did this, our fingers entwined for a moment, and I blushed again.
"Is that better?" I asked once I had finished.
But James gave no reply -- he was so relaxed that he had fallen asleep!
Say it! Say it! my heart cried out once more as I looked down and watched him lying in peaceful repose. I smiled at the realization that I actually could!
Sitting on the bed next to him, I leaned down and pushed his hair aside. "I love you, James," I whispered, planting a kiss on the back of his neck. "I always have...and I always will...."
James sighed again, but he didn't wake up.
Well, at least I finally told him how I feel...never mind the fact that he didn't hear me! I thought as I kissed him one more time and got up to go take a nice, cold shower.
When I returned, James was awake again. He smiled when he saw me.
"Feeling better?" I asked as I removed the towel from my head and shook out my wet hair.
"Yes. Thank you," he replied.
I walked over to his side. "I'm glad," I said. "I really hated to see you suffer like that...."
James took my hand in his own and pulled me down onto the bed. "Jess," he said tentatively, "I just wanted to apologize for what happened earlier -- the fights, the electrocution...I feel awful about that...."
"It's okay," I told him, reaching up and caressing his cheek. "I wasn't really mad at you -- it was all that twerp's fault! If anything, I should apologize for hitting you!"
James smiled and put his arms around me. I hugged back and rested my head on his bare chest.
"We really are a great team, Jess," he said.
"The best," I agreed.
"Best friends forever! Right?" he asked.
I smiled tenderly at him. Once again, our relationship had been affirmed. "Forever," I echoed.
And that's how we spent the next few hours -- just sitting together on James's bed, holding each other and talking. We stayed like that until I finally drifted off to sleep...and into pleasant dreams of James kissing me tenderly on the lips and whispering into my ear, "I love you, Jessie...I always have...and I always will...."
Maybe it wasn't such a bad day, after all.