The crickets chirped their faded song into the humid night air. A lone bird whistled its last note as the sun finally sunk deep under the horizon and turned the crimson sunset pitch black. A small clearing was the only place that the three rouges could afford for the night, and even with that expense cleared, they had hardly enough dinner for all of them. The sweltering heat tortured them more than they were used to in this part of the region, and to keep cool, they had all spread their sleeping bags out flat instead of the usual wrapped way.

Sleep had only claimed one of the three, the small scratch-cat that was busy purring away at the thoughts of balls of yarn and fried chicken. But the other two had just started to feel weary, tossing and turning, complaining in their usual fashion of the temperature. It was only when the breeze started rustling through the trees when they both settled down and attempted to fall asleep.

James lay sprawled out face up on his sleeping bag. He flipped himself over and brought his hands to rest underneath his head as a second pillow. Glancing at the battery powered clock that lay before him (it read 10:43), he closed his eyes and tried to relax. He could hear Jessie beside him humming the lullaby that her mom always sang to her at night when she was little. He smiled to himself.


The humid air hung over their heads and all they could hear was the sound of their own breathing. A drop of perspiration trickled down James' forehead; his damp hair clung to his cheek as he lay on the pillow. He opened his eyes to find it was 11:19. He was usually asleep at this late hour, but the constant heat kept him from his dreams.

He heard rustling beside him.

"James? Are you awake?"

He was too famished to even crack his lips open.

"James?" The soft echo of Jessie's voice rang in his ear once, twice again.

He had no will to answer.

"Good."

He could sense her sitting up beside him. He wasn't sure what he was to think at that particular moment.

"I know I've said this to you every night, but..." Her words seemed distant. "I'm so sorry for today. Everything went wrong like it always does. Maybe, someday, we'll finally catch that stupid Pikachu and we'll go on vacation and have such a fun time..." The soft breeze faded her whisperings away.

The gears in James' mind started turning, ever so slowly, trying to figure out who she was talking to. Only until she said his name out loud that he knew the voice in the dark was for him.

"It just seems like everything is going wrong for us, doesn't it, James?" She let out a small sigh. "I wish we didn't have such work to catch us up. Maybe then we could go on living our lives like normal people."

'The emotions, all the thoughts she holds in her heart, she tells me under the moonlight and the stars. I just wish I could listen more often...'

"Did you ever stop to think about that, James?" The velvet ran through his ears, and he, indeed, stopped to think about it while her monologue continued.

"Did you ever think just how much of a normal life we've missed? High school, senior prom, graduation, college? Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and relive all those days. Me, in my shimmering gown, fit for a queen, with you at my arm escorting me into the ball..." She giggled, and the wind took that away, too. "I've always wanted to see you in a tux."

He had the urge to sit up and tell her, 'Yes, I've always wanted to, too...' but a quiet thought flooded his mind. She just wanted to be listened to, for now.

"But I guess all that's over. I can't go back and do it, but I can still picture us as if we had. We'll always be together forever, won't we? You're the only one that I need. It's funny like that, two people destined to be. But I think I can live with it." She gently reached over and stroked his violet hair. "It's so odd that I can open up when I'm the only one that can hear it. I don't know why I can't say this to you when you're awake. I think I'm just scared of your reaction to me. You probably think I'm just a demanding, violent person and if I pour my soul out to you, either you take it in or it's gone forever, I guess.

"I think it's easier this way. I just don't want to get hurt like in the past. So for now, I'll tell you everything in your dreams, and maybe someday we can share it. I'll always stay by your side, no matter what. We'll always be 'double trouble', just like fate chose us to be. You're everything to me, James. Everything."

She reached down and touched her lips to the top of his head. She laid back down again and tried to fall asleep.

From the darkness came a long period of silence. James rolled over to face her, her long magenta hair surrounding her like a web, her face set in a portrait of an angel. Her long eyelashes brushed her cheeks, and her mouth formed a miniscule smile.

"Jessie? Are you awake?"

She opened her eyes groggily. Her sapphire eyes met his emerald ones.

"Good."

"Were you awake all this time?..."

He softly put a finger to her lips. He nodded and moved closer to her; the temperature did not matter. His hand rested on her cheek. "I do think we're going to get that vacation soon, and we'll have such a nice time, won't we? I think about going back in our lives, too, but I realize it won't matter where I am, as long as you're here. It took all of my courage to do this, and maybe now we can share those dreams."

He leaned toward her and kissed her, the hand adorning her cheek trembling slightly. Drawing back his hand and his arm, he whispered into the night.

"You're my everything, too, Jessie."

His eyes twinkled with a tender glow in the pale moonlight. Just before he closed his eyes, he spoke one last time to her.

"That can be our secret."