Chapter 3: Hold on to the memories?

Jessie stayed behind, frozing to a pillar of salt. His words were still resounding in her ears. «Because I don't want to fall in love with you». A wave of anger and disappointment overpowered her. She wanted to run after him and confront him, talk turkey and once and for all get things straight, but she drew in her horns, too proud, and too timid to hear the truth. He didn't love her, he didn't even like her, he was still a prisoner of his past. The wounds and scars reminded him of dangerous feelings, feelings from which he had to isolate himself. Even though it was years ago since he last saw and met Jessiebelle, she was still intimidating him to this very day. Jessie was without a chance, neither her beauty, her loyalty nor her charisma were able to bring James round. Her hand wandered up to a tiny star-shaped pendant, it was a gift James gave her back in Kalos. A reminder of her willpower, intransigence and combative spirit…

Flashback:

«Turn around, Jess», James ripped the necklace out of his pocket, a piece of jewellery he had stolen from Team Rocket's lost and found. Gently and very carefully he put the golden necklace around her neck. His fingers ran down her shoulder blades. Feeling her soft skin underneath his fingertips, he imagined more intimate touches. But he was shy, he was reluctant and marked by bad experience. Nevertheless, the urge to kiss her neck and nibble on her earlobe outweight his fear of shame and pain. «James, what are you doing?» She felt a rising heat, goosebumps all over her body. His kisses aroused hidden wishes. He was so cautious, he didn't want to hurt her. «Jessie», James whispered into her ear, «you're already my queen, no matter how many times you win, no matter how many times you lose. Take this necklace as a sign of my deepest devotion, devotion from a true fan and supporter. Show them who belongs on the throne. Make us proud, my girl», he kissed her once more before letting her get ready for the upcoming showcase performance.

End of flashback…

«Never mind,» Jessie snorted contemptuously at her memories. After collecting herself and having gained new courage, she decided to leave the empty classroom and gathered with other students on the sports field. A young woman caught her eye. She remembered her, remembered her outstanding performances and close ties to her Pokémon. «Serena», Jessie had to dress up. She couldn't afford any mistakes, for the sake of her trio. She quickly hid in the changing room, slipping into her old wardrobe. Taking a deep breath, she marched couragously towards her former biggest competitor. « Nice to see you, girl », the disapproving tone in her voice could hardly be overheard.
« Jessilee », Serena bowed politely, « what are you doing here ? » she asked her.
«I want to challenge you, how about a quick duel ? » Jessie looked at the now grown-up brat and noticed the embarrased look on her face.
« I'm sorry, Jessilee, but I'm not really in the mood to battle you right now » a sigh of despair escaped her mouth.
Jessie cocked an eyebrow. « What's bugging you ? »
Serena shrugged her shoulders. «I guess it's what you call a cracked heart, not completely broken, but ruptured ». Jessie had to stifle a pejorative smile.
« Let me guess, men are causing trouble, right ? » She sat down next to Serena, clubbing her leg over the other. The young woman nodded her head.
«Tell me more, did he betray you, did he abandon you , did he exploit you, dropping you like a hot potatoe afterwards ? » Jessie could sing a song of unkind romances. She was used to men messing around with her, making her believe in true love only to bring her back down to earth in the most miserable way possible.
«It's just, forget it. I have to handle this on my own», Serena was already on the move when Jessie pulled her back. «Listen, girl. I give you a free advice. Let no man ever destroy your dreams and let no bloke ever take the crown off your head. Live, love and fight!» She winked at Serena, putting a faint smile on her face.

«Jessilee », somebody with a rough voice cleared his throat. Jessie turned around, gazing into two dark brown eyes. « Yes?» The man seemed totally intimidated.
«I just wanted to tell you that I've been a fan from the very beginning. I didn't miss a contest, I cheered you, I supported you and I've always voted for you. Your grâce, your devotion, your temper make you one of the most outstanding showcase performers under the sun. May I be so impudent and ask for an autograph?» he bowed down in front of her, giving her the feeling of royal authority. Jessie laughed out loud. «You may, Sir» she snatched the pen from his hand, wrote down his name on a yellowed greeting card, placing a tiny heart in the right corner of the ornate writing. « Here you go, » pressing her lips onto the card, she left her unmistakable mark. The man thanked her many times, even shedding tears.

Jessie didn't know that James had observed her the whole time. He could have slapped himself for rejecting her. Rejecting the woman of his dreams by repressing the nightmares from memory, but he was a coward, a wimp. He wasn't worthy of a queen… « Jessie », he whispered, « I'm losing you… »

Meanwhile, Ash, Misty and Brock were diligently working on a project. A set case full of vitamins should help them decide which composition was most suitable for water type Pokémon. Misty was an ace in that field. The trio finished the task before all other students, receiving highest praise from their professor. «Misty», Ash broached the subject once more, « did you give up looking for your parents ? » his friend paused to hold.
« Listen, Ash. If there were any hints, even the tiniest clue, I would most definitely resume searching, but there's absolutely no evidence and we should probably leave tings at a rest». Ash was about to start an answer when the doors swung open.

«Ash!» Serena came running for him. She linked arms with her boyfriend, ogling at him. «Will you accompany me to prom night?» He was visibly irritated, not only because Ash wasn't a fan of dancing and kitschy schmaltzes, but because he noticed the somewhat disappointed look in Misty's eyes. «Sure» , he swallowed hard, avoiding Misty's gaze. Serena clapped her hands and pressed a kiss on his lips. «Make sure to get dressed up!» She left the classroom like a twisted whirlwind.
«Sorry,» Ash whispered, but Misty dismissed his apology with a wave of her hand.
«No problem, Ash. I'm sure Brock is more than happy to join me as my dancing partner, right ? » Brock was completely over the moon. « Really, Misty ? Are you serious? You asking me on a date?» She slapped him. « It's not a date, idiot. We're just two good mates respecting the friendzone ! »

Later that evening, Team Rocket called Giovanni to submit their plan. The phone rang nerve-wrackingly long until their boss picked up. «What do you want?» he was bored by their streak of bad luck, their faux-pas and the three unearned wages they cut off from Team Rocket every month.
Jessie saluted into the camera.
«Boss, I think we've worked out the perfect raid», she sounded so self-confidently, but her knees were shaking.
«Let me hear», Giovanni was nervously tripping his fingers on the tablet, yawning provocatively. He was longing for a snatch of sleep, because in his dreams he was rarley plagued by the unsuccessful escapades of his three employees.
« Sir, prom night is almost here, a big party where man and Pokémon celebrate. And by Pokémon we mean every single creature on the campus. Me, Meowth and James will organize this event, we'll figure out each and every escape route and how we can smuggle in the grunts. One bang, one fright, abducting the Pokémon into the night. What do you think, Sir ? » they were eagerly awaiting his answer. Giovanni sighed, chaos was already pre-programmed.
«Don't disappoint me! This is your last chance. ! » He ended the phone call without further instructions, leaving Team Rocket with an almost impossible task.