Separate Ways

In the Hospital

James didn't know how long her had been running, all he knew was that it was starting to get dark and there were no lights on the road. If he didn't reach Hearthome City soon, he would probably get lost.

To his relief, it wasn't long before long he could see silhouettes on the horizon. Hearthome City! He was almost there.

He didn't stop running until he had burst through the front doors of the hospital. Gasping for breath he staggered up to the front desk.

"J – Jessie," he stammered, fighting to get his breath back. "Where is Jessie?"

The young girl behind the desk looked a little bewildered for a second, but then a look of comprehension dawned on her face.

"You must be James," she said. "I was told to expect you. Jessie is in the first room on the left on the fourth floor." She took one look at his flushed, sweating face and added, "You might want to take the elevator..."

Still gasping for breath, he arrived on the fourth floor and found Jessie's room easily. But as he tried to go through the door in to her room, he found his path blocked by a tall, brown haired man, scowling threateningly at him. This must be Jasper.

"Who are you?" he growled.

"Who the hell do you think I am?" James snapped. He wasn't going to let this man get in his way when he was so close to seeing Jessie.

But Jasper didn't move.

"Get out of my way," James said. As he said it, he heard an agonising scream coming from inside the room. It was Jessie. James had never heard her scream like that.

James pushed past Jasper, ignoring the fact that he was about twice James' width, and hurried in to the room.

And then he saw her, lying on a bed near the back of the room, her face shining with sweat. Her body was contorted in agony, her eyes screwed tightly shut. Tubes and wires connected her to several machines, all beeping furiously.

Looking around, James noticed that a doctor was standing at the other side of the room, violently flicking through a huge textbook.

"What's wrong with her?" James choked, still standing near the door, too shocked and dismayed to move. The doctor looked up from his book, a look of intense frustration in his gray eyes, but as he realised who it was that was speaking to him, he relaxed a little.

"You must be James," he said with a weak smile.

"Yes," he said.

"I'm Dr Redhill. I'm the one who sent you that letter."

"What's wrong with her?" James asked again, not taking his eyes off Jessie.

"That's the problem, I just don't know!" Dr Redhill said, his voice rising a little in frustration.

Controlling himself, he continued.

"She has a wound on her leg, so my suspicion is that she's been bitten by some kind of Poison-type Pokémon. Or it might be both Poison- and Dark-type, but it's nothing I've ever seen before, so I have no idea how to treat it."

"What do you mean you don't know how to treat it?" he said, in disbelief.

"Well we haven't discovered every type of Pokémon yet," Dr Redhill said, looking flustered. "This is a Pokémon that no one has encountered before, so we don't know what it does or how to treat someone who has been poisoned by it."

"So there's nothing we can do?" James asked.

"I'm afraid not. I could try some different antidotes, but they might to more harm than good. I think we'll just have to wait and hope Jessie manages to pull through."

James felt utterly helpless, Jessie could die and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. His stomach twisted painfully as he thought about what would happen if Jessie died. The possibility that he might never see her again… never see her smile again, never see her laugh… it was too much. But there was nothing he could do. Nothing.

He approached her bed, only half aware that Jasper was still standing in the doorway, scowling at him. Her face was whiter than he had ever seen it and beads of sweat glistened on her forehead.

James noticed that there were tears pouring down her face, mingled with the sweat. He had to fight back tears himself. Jessie was usually so strong and independent and there was nothing that could faze her, but now she looked so fragile. It was almost too much for him to handle. Every instinct was telling him to run from the room and pretend that this wasn't happening, but Jessie needed him, she had asked for him and he would never leave her.

James glanced down at her hand. She had her hands clenched so tightly in a fist there was blood oozing out from where her nails were digging in to her palms.

He gently took her hand in his to stop her hurting herself. To his surprise, Jessie's tightly clenched hand relaxed as he held it.

Dr Redhill gave a quick glance at the monitors surrounding Jessie and raised an eyebrow thoughtfully.

"Oh," was all he said.

"What?" James asked,

"Her blood pressure is 160/100," he said.

"What does that mean? Is it bad? She's dying isn't she?" James asked, beginning to panic.

"No, no, that's good. Well, it's still too high, but it's lower than it was before. It should be about 120/80. But I think that's an improvement," he said, looking slightly less tense. "Let's just hope her blood pressure keeps improving, but it could take some time. Would you like me to get you anything? Coffee?"

"Maybe just some water, please," James said. He suddenly realised how parched he was from his long run to the hospital.

The doctor filled him a plastic cup full of water from a water cooler in the corner. James went to take it from him, but as he tried to move away from the bed, Jessie gripped his hand.

"Don't leave…" she murmured. "You can't leave me again, James… don't leave me…"

James whipped around to look at her. Her eyes will still tightly shut, but fresh tears were pouring from beneath her long eyelashes.

"Oh, Jess," James said, squeezing her hand. "I'm not going anywhere. I should never have left you in the first place…"

He quickly became aware of how drained he was. Not letting go of Jessie's hand, he sat himself on the edge of the bed and let himself relax a little. He was still terrified for Jessie, but he was doing everything he could simply by being there with her.

"Hm…" Dr Redhill said suddenly, looking at James, then Jessie, then back to James, as if he had just realised something.

"What?" James asked.

"Oh, nothing. It's nothing. Never mind," he said, and James thought he saw him smile a little as he turned back to his textbook.

A short while later, James took his eyes off Jessie for a moment to check the clock. To his surprise, it was almost midnight. He had been sitting there with Jessie, holding her hand, for over two hours. Glancing around the room, he saw Dr Redhill standing making notes on a clipboard, and saw Jasper sitting on a chair with his head against the wall, apparently fast asleep.

Jessie's body was still tense, and her face was still glistening with sweat. It didn't look like she was getting any better.

"Can I stay here with her?" James asked, his voice hoarse.

"Of course you can," Dr Redhill said. "I could get someone to bring you something to eat, if you'd like?"

"No, thank you," he said. "I'm not hungry." James couldn't remember the last time he had said that. He was always hungry.

"Alright," Dr Redhill said. "I have to leave for a short while just now, but I'll be back every half hour to check on Jessie."

"What if something happens?" James said, fretfully.

"She seems fairly stable for now," he said. "But just in case, there will be a nurse just outside, and I'm not leaving this floor. There will always be someone around."

"Alright," James said, feeling a little less worried. If the doctor thought it was okay to leave her, she must be getting a little better, or at least not getting any worse.

James was exhausted, but he wouldn't be able to sleep until he knew Jessie was safe. He kicked off his shoes and brought his legs up on to the bed, still holding Jessie's hand. With his free hand, he pushed a few stray hairs off her forehead.

He still couldn't shake of the horrible feeling of dread as he looked at her pale face. Anything could go wrong and he could lose her forever. He continued stroking her magenta hair. It had fallen out of its usual style, and was now lying loosely on her shoulders. In spite of everything, she still looked beautiful. If this was the last time he was ever going to see his best friend, he wanted to memorise every detail.

He traced his finger across her forehead, down her cheek, across her perfect jawline and paused at her lips. She had such beautiful lips…

Jessie shifted a little in the bed, and turned on to her side, facing James. Her free hand found his chest, and gripped the front of his shirt as if she was still afraid he was going to leave. She let out a shaky sigh, and seemed to relax a little bit more.

James was a little taken aback at how comfortable she looked and how natural he felt lying beside her. They had slept beside each other for seven solid years, but it had never felt this right.

"What the hell are you doing?" A voice interrupted James's thoughts and he looked up to see Jasper had woken up, and was now standing behind him.

"Leave it, Jasper…" James started, a little taken aback by how angry he was.

"Isn't it about time you left?" Jasper growled.

"No. It isn't. I'm not leaving her."

"I'm sure she'll manage without you," Jasper sneered. "I've been doing a pretty good job of making her happy."

"Is that why she's lying in hospital then?" James snapped. He wasn't used to feeling his temper rise. If there was ever a choice between 'fight' or 'flight', he would almost always take the 'flight' option. When it came to Jessie, however, he would fight to the death to defend her.

"That was no more my fault than yours," Jasper shot back.

"I disagree, it is much more your fault than mine. If you had been taking better care of her, she wouldn't even have got in to this mess."

"That was not my fault!" Jasper shouted, his eyes blazing.

Jessie let out a small whimper and pulled herself closer to James, her head now resting on his chest. James put his arm round her, and she relaxed again.

"Can't you just go?" Jasper growled, more quietly so as not to disturb Jessie. "She's my girlfriend, I should be the one looking after her."

Girlfriend?! That would explain why he was being so protective. James couldn't help the stab of jealousy he felt. He pulled Jessie a little closer to him.

"We've been friends a long time," he said, defensively. "She probably just missed me."

But Jasper didn't look convinced.

"We're just friends..." but James stopped speaking as he realised he was lying. Jessie wasn't just his friend. She was so much more than that and it had taken her nearly dying to make him realise it.

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