Separate Ways

Choices

James said nothing, he just stared at Jessie with his heart pounding in his throat. They lay there with their eyes locked for a few long moments and their gaze was only broken when they heard a loud click behind them. James looked round to see the door closing and Dr Redhill disappearing round the corner. Jasper's chair was empty.

They were completely alone.

James looked back at Jessie, who had still said nothing. He felt vaguely sick.

After what felt like several minutes, Jessie finally spoke,

"What are you doing here?" she asked groggily. Although he had been hoping for a slightly different response, there was a part of him that was relieved that she hadn't instantly shot him down.

"I heard you were ill, so I came to see you to make sure you were okay. You got bitten by something and it poisoned you. You've been out of it for nearly a day."

He suddenly became very aware of how closely they were lying and slipped off the bed, scratching the back of his neck uncomfortably, trying to disguise his embarrassment. He pulled up a nearby chair and sat by her bed instead.

"Of course I'm okay," she said quietly, but James new better. She had the little frown lines between her eyebrows that she always got when she wasn't feeling well.

"Come on Jess, it's me," James said looking straight in to her deep blue eyes, "you don't always have to act so tough."

Usually when he said something like this, she just ignored him but to his surprise, she began to cry.

"Jess, what is it?" he asked, shocked.

"After I collapsed..." she said, through her sobs, "I saw all these horrible things."

"What things?" James asked.

"I kept seeing you..." she said, but tailed off as a fresh wave of tears came over her. "I kept seeing you... dying. I saw you dying in so many different ways, over and over again and I couldn't stop it, I was just watching and I was trying to help but I couldn't move and you were being hurt and I couldn't do anything. It was horrible, seeing you lying there, all covered in blood, not breathing..." she had to stop speaking again to gasp for air between her sobs.

"Well, I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere, I promise," he said, climbing back on to the bed and putting his arm around her.

After a few moments, she had calmed down enough to be breathing normally again. She still looked exhausted. She was obviously still in shock from her ordeal and James was a little glad that she didn't seem to have registered what he had said about being in love with her. He wiped away the tears still slipping down her face and she looked up at him.

"I love you too," she whispered and closed her eyes.

James stared at her, speechless, but before he could think of anything else to say, she had fallen asleep in his arms.

He was suddenly distracted by footsteps behind him and turned around to see the doctor walking back in to the room.

"How are things?" he asked James.

"Alright," he choked. "She was telling me what happened when she was poisoned. She said she kept seeing me being killed in lots of different ways, what kind of Pokémon would do that?"

"I have no idea," Dr Redhill said, "but I've been talking to a few other doctors from neighbouring towns and a few of them have seen this before. It looks like this Pokémon makes its victim watch their own worst fear played over and over again in their mind so they are too afraid and shocked to run away. Not a very pleasant Pokémon, I have to say."

"No..." James agreed absent-mindedly. Jessie's worst fear had been him dying. Not Jasper, not herself, but him. Maybe she really did love him.

"Is she asleep?" the doctor asked. James nodded.

"I think she'll feel almost back to normal when she wakes up, so why don't you go and get some rest too? And maybe get something to eat? I've got the on-call room booked for now, you can go and sleep in there if you like."

It wasn't until the doctor had mentioned the prospect of a nice long sleep that he realised how tired he was. He had dozed off a few times, but he hadn't had a proper sleep in nearly two days.

"I think I'll go to bed," he said. Standing up, he leaned down to kiss Jessie on the forehead. "Sweet dreams," he whispered.

As James walked out the door, he saw Jasper slouched in a chair, resting his head against the side of a vending machine. When he saw James he looked up at him as though expecting news.

"She's still asleep," he said. "The doctor says she'll be as a good as new after a long sleep."

Jasper just nodded.

"Will you come and get me when she wakes up?" James asked.

Jasper just nodded again. It looked like he was getting the cold shoulder, although James couldn't really blame him.

Leaving Jasper, he walked up the corridor and found the on-call room easily. He slipped inside and collapsed on to the bed. He didn't even bother taking his shoes off. The last thing he saw before sleep overwhelmed him was a little digital clock on the window sill. It read 1.36pm.

James opened his eyes after what felt like only a few seconds and glanced at the clock. It said 12.05am.

"I slept for 11 hours?" he muttered to himself. Heaving himself off the bed, he stretched, looking around the room.

Wandering over to the window, he pulled up the blinds. To his surprise he was nearly blinded by bright sunlight. Staring back at the clock he realised that it didn't read 12.05am, it read 12.05pm. He had slept for almost an entire day.

"Damn it," he muttered. "Why did no one wake me up? He threw the door open and ran back to the ward.

He heard voices coming from inside Jessie's room as he hurried along the corridor.

"Jasper, come on! How hard is to fold up a shirt? Move, let me do it."

Despite being annoyed that no one had woken him, James couldn't help but smile. Jessie was obviously feeling much better if she was managing to boss people around.

But as he rounded the corner, his annoyance returned.

"What's going on?" he said, poorly disguising his anger, because when he walked in, he saw Jessie fully clothed, her hair was clean and back in its usual dramatic style and she was standing next to Jasper. She had a black bag in her hand and was stuffing her dirty clothes in to it.

"You're leaving?" he said, incredulously.

"Of course I am," she replied. "I'm feeling better and there's no time to waste, we need to get back to work."

"But..."

"You should get going too, James," she added. "Carmen will be wondering what's taking you so long."

James couldn't believe it. He wasn't sure what he had expected to happen, but he hadn't expected them to both go their separate ways again.

"It was great seeing you, James," she said, smiling. She walked up to him and kissed him on the cheek before turning on her heel and saying,

"Hurry up Jasper, I don't have all day."

But James was suddenly seized by a kind of possessiveness he hadn't felt before. He lunged forward and grabbed Jessie's wrist and pulled her back to him so their faces were just inches apart.

"James! What are you..."

"I let you go once before, Jessie, and I'm sure as hell not about to do it again."

She glared at him defiantly, her eyes burning with annoyance.

"James, I have to go," she said curtly. "I can't take any more time off, this is my job on the line."

"Screw your job," he said, "let's go and do something different, together."

"You don't mean that, you're being ridiculous," she said. "You need to go back to work and so do I. We're lucky to have these jobs."

"I can't go back to work Jess," he growled. "Carmen made me choose between my job and coming to be with you, and I chose you. I've lost my job, but I can't lose you. Come on Jessie, choose me."

Jessie stared at him, wide-eyed for a moment as though she couldn't believe he had given up his job in Team Rocket. She glanced over her shoulder at Jasper who was standing at the door, saying nothing but looking furious.

"Do you love him?" James muttered so Jasper wouldn't hear. Jessie paused for a moment then shook her head sadly.

"Do you love me?" he asked. There used to be a time where asking that question would have terrified him, but now all he could feel was passion and anger burning inside him. After another long pause, Jessie stared straight in to his bright green eyes, and nodded.

"Then stay," he said simply.

"I'm sorry, James," she whispered. "I can't." With that, she pulled her hand away from him and hurried out the room with Jasper following close behind. He shot James a filthy look before rounding the corner and disappearing out of sight.

He had asked Jessie to choose between her job and him and she had chosen her job.

Despite never managing to catch any Pokémon, Jessie had stayed with him and Meowth for years. James had been stupid enough assume she was staying for him, when really she was staying out of determination to succeed in her career. It was like everything he had ever believed about Jessie, about their friendship, about their time as partners, was all crashing down around him.

James just stared blankly out of the door after her. He could feel nothing, no anger, no sadness, nothing except a dull ache in his chest as if Jessie has ripped a piece out of him and taken it with her.

"Thanks for everything," he said vacantly to Dr Redhill as strode out of the door, out of the hospital and in to the thick forest nearby.

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