"JOURNEYS"

(A STORY IN TWO PARTS)

BY T'EYLA MINH

DISCLAIMER: I don't own anyone here, but you all knew that. As before, this is not intended for profit on my part, and all I get out of it is psyche satisfaction! Please don't sue me!

AUTHOR'S NOTES: It's here, finally! Part Two has arrived! Actually this was never supposed to be in two parts, but it took me so long to put it together that I thought I ought to separate it before my writer's block got the better of me! In this one I've focussed on some of Jessie and James' past and since I got thoroughly confused reading all the other fanfics, I decided to forget ANY continuity at all and start from scratch… This assumes that Jessie has been to James' house ONCE, when they were both twelve, but presumably has forgotten all about it (or has chosen to forget about it), and this is why she didn't know about Jessiebell in "Holy Matrimony". (And I'm sorry about that accent, I've only seen the episode about three times!) Also I haven't got a clue how that Pokémon Tech stuff works, so I've based it on my own University knowledge! I think that about makes excuses for everything. Aside from continuing from where the other one ended, set, as you know, five years into the future, this expands over yet another two or three years. What can I say, I like dragging things out!

And, yeah, this isn't finished, but I don't want to get lynched for not putting it up at all. DO NOT FLAME ME! I have better things to do with my time than finish this and I admit it's taking a lot longer than I thought. I promise I will put up new chapters as soon as I write them and get them beta-ed. You'll just have to stay in suspense. If anyone wants spoilers as to what's going to happen in this (I know what I want to do, which is something), e-mail me at Teyla_Minh@team-rocket-fan.com and I'll let you know. Otherwise, you'll just have to wait :P

WARNING: Brock fans are going to hate me for this one… and probably Jessie fans too. I apologise in advance, but I wanted to do angsty this time around. You know how it is when you suddenly get a wonderfully evil idea that just won't go away… although considering how Brock is NOW, this is sort of inevitable. Don't reprimand me for this, I overdid it on freshly squeezed creative juice!

RATING: I think, in British rating, this would possibly be a 12 or a 15... Don't know how that translates - possibly PG-13-ish. Certainly a higher rating than the last one for implications if anything.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Once again, many thanks to my beta-reader 'Ruby Jesse', who gave me the go ahead on the Brock idea… and pestered me to finish. Plus her lovely comments were a joy to read - thanks, Ruby!

PS: As before, this is thoughts, and ***this*** is a dream sequence.

CHAPTER TWO -THE JOURNEY ENDS…

1. Memories

James was distraught. He'd just made possibly the biggest mistake of his life… but there was no way to rectify it in the immediately foreseeable future.

He ran over all of the reasons he could think of to justify it… and came up with nothing. No! he thought, reprimanding himself, Come on James, you can think of something. This IS for the best. What would Jessie do? Jessie… he sighed. Well that's a start. Her little outburst before had been partly to blame for his decision, not that he blamed HER personally. He knew she hated their lives as criminals, he did too, and it had been becoming increasingly obvious as they continually failed to catch Pikachu. Even when they DID catch the rodent, Meowth had lost interest. It seemed only natural that he and Jessie were going to flip as well, eventually, but he was surprised that it was Jessie who was first. She had scared him earlier - well, okay, she always scared him - but to see her suddenly transform, from the strong and non-emotional person he'd known, to the upset and unsure person that had confronted him - that terrified him. He depended on her strength and decisiveness, and in that moment, she seemed to be depending on HIS. So he'd made a decision, that money was the answer, and stealing it was not the way to get it. One way or another, he'd need to get his inheritance.

The only trouble was now, he didn't have a single clue how he was going to do that. In truth, he needed Jessie to help him, or to come up with something like the last time he'd gone home. Except that Jessie was far behind him on the roadside. Leaving her there, especially when she was upset and confused about what he had suggested, was quite possibly the most difficult thing he'd ever had to do. *I should have told her, right then* he thought in desperation, and his heart sank. His face, however, took on an expression of grim determination and he straightened up in the seat of the jeep. I'm going to do this. He reiterated it out loud. "I'm going to do this! No matter how long it takes! No matter who I have to marry! I will get that money!" Then, slightly louder, "It may take days, it may take years, but one day, Jess, I will find you!" He shouted to the world at large like a man possessed, certain that somehow she could hear him and know. His previous determination soon turned to panic, however, as the mansion he used to call home loomed ominously on the approaching horizon…

It had once been a place of great memories, that house. It was perfect for a boy growing up, with its large grounds, fair-sized swimming pool, and not to mention the hundreds of rooms. All good memories - learning to swim when he was six, having huge parties in the garden for friends, fast-paced games of Hide-N-Seek with Growly… but all of that came to an abrupt end with arrival of his twelfth birthday. On that day, James had been casually informed at six in the morning that he had a scholarship to go to Pokémon Tech, and he started that very day. It had not been the fabulous day he had expected and would almost have been unbearable had it not been for Jessie. They'd started on the same day and both found each looking lost. James remembered it like it was yesterday…

***

He was late for his third class of the day, 'Introduction to Fire Types', and was running down a corridor he thought looked promising, only because it was the only one he hadn't tried that day. He wasn't looking where he was going and before he knew it he was sprawled on the floor, dazed, having run into someone going in the opposite direction. The Someone, similarly sprawled opposite him, was a girl his age, with the longest, reddest hair he'd ever seen, and quite possibly the bluest eyes. He shook his head to clear the cobwebs, then got up, holding out a hand to help her up. She glowered at him, knocked the hand away, and proceeded to help herself up.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"Do I LOOK okay to you?"

"Not really. You look mad."

"That's because I AM mad!" she paused. "Why didn't you look where you were going?"

"I don't know where I'm going."

"You're lost?"

"Sorta…maybe"

"You're lost." she smirked. She tilted her head sideways and regarded him curiously. "Why is your hair blue?" she asked.

"I dunno… just is."

"I never met anyone with blue hair before." She seemed impressed. "Well, anyway, I'm Jessica."

"James."

There was a pause. He wondered what she was going to say next… and whether she even liked him, for that matter, he couldn't tell. *Well, she wouldn't have told me her name if she didn't* he supposed. *Although, she did seem real mad at me…* His brain couldn't cope with this on his first day, but luckily she asked him more questions to stop him thinking.

"What class are you trying to get to?"

"It's called 'Introduction to Fire Types', or something." he admitted.

"Hey, me too!"

There was a chance he'd get there after all! "Great! Do you know where it is?" he asked, hopeful that she did. She turned a deep shade of red that matched her hair.

"Actually… no." she said sheepishly, and looked at her feet.

AHA! He'd got her! "So you're lost too?" he said, and grinned triumphantly. She seemed to growl.

"OKAY, so I'm lost! I've been late to all of my classes today… and it's only my first day!"

"Mine too!"

"On my BIRTHDAY!"

"Wow! Same here! That's so weird."

"It's just not fair!" she wailed.

"I know!" he agreed. Then they looked at each other, realised the complete oddness of meeting someone in the exact same predicament, and burst out laughing. Then James decided to do it properly and held out a hand for her to shake. "Well, Jessica, it's nice to meet you." She shook his hand.

"Nice to meet you too."

"I've just had an idea," he said, "if you're game…"

He interpreted her mischievous grin as the affirmative, and proceeded to explain his idea, which was basically to not bother going to any classes that day. They had another five years, he figured, what difference would one day make? So, they spent the rest of their first day at Pokémon Tech exchanging life stories. 'Jessie', as she had given him permission to call her, explained that she had recently moved into the area so that she could go to Pokémon Tech, and had left all of her friends behind. Unfortunately her parents had been unable to afford the same standard of house they had moved from, and she told him how much smaller their new home was. She prompted James to describe his house, and was completely in awe of it. They also told each other how they'd got into the Tech in the first place, and it turned out that she had got in purely using her brain… her family couldn't afford the expensive scholarships that were apparently purchased at a child's birth. Each was impressed by the other, and they were best friends almost immediately.

Finally, and regretfully, their day came to an end… but then James had another idea.

"You can come round for dinner if you want. My parents will be so glad I've found a friend." he told her. She agreed, eager to see the apparently castle-sized house he had described to her. They reached the front door, and she stood on the doorstep, looking up in wonder at its many floors and hundreds of windows. "You'd better wait here." he suggested. "They don't like unannounced guests."

"Sure…." she replied absently, still glued to the spot as she found yet another fascinating detail about the house that she hadn't spotted before. James laughed lightly - she looked funny like that - then entered the house, shutting the door.

"I'm home, mother, father. I've got someone I'd like you to-" He was cut short as his parents emerged in the hallway, standing either side of someone who looked remarkably like Jessie. His father smiled broadly and spoke in an enthusiastic tone.

"Ah James, my boy. How was your day?"

"Actually, that's what I was-"

"Good, good." he interrupted. "We've got a surprise for you. This -" the girl stepped forward "- is Jessiebell." He waited for James to say something, expecting him to understand what was going on… then looked impatient. "Your future wife."

James' mouth dropped open and stayed like it for several seconds until his mother frowned at him.

"James, manners!" she scolded. He shut his mouth, straightened up nervously and approached the Jessie look-alike with his hand outstretched.

"H-hi." he managed to say. Jessiebell immediately grabbed his hand firmly and shook it until he thought his wrist would snap, all the while talking at him in an irritating accent he couldn't quite place.

"Why, hello James! Ah've heard so much abaht you. So glad we can fahnally meet!" She 'tsk'ed at him. "You're not shakin' hands properly… here, let me show you how it's duhn!" She continued to talk at him but he wasn't listening, he was too much in a daze. Then he remembered that Jessie was still on the doorstep. He had to get her off the grounds before his father found out, so he made some flimsy excuse about hearing the doorbell and left.

Outside, Jessie was now sitting on the doorstep waiting for him to let her in. She was expectant… or annoyed, he couldn't figure out which. He gave her a story about a family crisis and hoped she'd understand and not ask pressing questions.

"…I'm really sorry, Jessie, but maybe some other time. Is that okay?"

"Yeah, that's okay… if you've got a family crisis I don't want to interfere or get in the way."

He sighed with relief. "Great. Thanks for understanding."

"Sure."

"So… I'll see you tomorrow?" he asked hopefully.

"You bet! I can't wait for tomorrow! It's about Cat-types, isn't it?"

"Yeah… I like them. I have a Growlithe, but I like the Cat-types too!"

"Wow." she said. "This gets weirder and weirder… I bet we'll discover we're really twins that got separated at birth!"

"That'd be cool." he said.

"Yeah." There was an uncomfortable pause, then she remembered something. "How about you come round for dinner at my house tomorrow?"

"Really? Your parents won't mind?"
"No, they love company."

"Okay, you've got a date!" he blushed. "Uh - figuratively speaking…" Luckily she smiled. He pointed her in the direction of the main gates. "Goodbye, Jessie! See you tomorrow!"

"Goodbye, James! Hope the family thing works out!" They waved to each other from each end of the driveway, and with that she was gone. James then remembered his parents, screamed lightly to himself, and ran back inside.

His father looked very impatient, his mother gave him one of her infamous, patented 'You've-failed-us-James' looks, and Jessiebell looked upset. Then he realised that he didn't actually care. His father explained the situation to him completely - that Jessiebell's parents were looking to marry her into money to keep it in the family, and that James was the only boy her age from all the families they knew. Then he went on to explain, to James horror, that not only was she betrothed to him, but that she was MOVING IN! His life, from that point on, was going to be Hell…

***

James finally parked the jeep outside the gate. That day, the day they met, was the first and last time they'd ever said goodbye until a few hours ago. They'd spent nearly every evening at Jessie's house, and sometimes the nights too, because he couldn't face going home. Jessiebell would get insanely jealous even if he so much as said hello to other girls, so inviting Jessie over was completely out of the question. He had kept to his story of a family crisis… and that it had got completely out of control, which in a way it had. Jessiebell's torture chamber could certainly be construed as being out of control…

Throughout the years they had known each other, however, they'd never said goodbye… they usually never had time to when James was rushing off home after some frantic call from either his parents or the Banshee. They worked together and had fun together, they studied together and failed together (for which James blamed himself entirely - she had followed his revision plan as a matter of courtesy, despite her own being much better), they had gotten kicked out of Pokémon Tech and subsequently gotten signed up with Giovanni that same day, together. Then Meowth came along, and the three of them were still, always, together… it became second nature to find the other two of them there.

Then, of course, it had all gone horribly wrong… their lives became increasingly pointless as each week of failure passed. Meowth walked away from it, literally… and now James had driven away from it. In the hope of one day having a better life than he was used to. He and Jessie had said goodbye for the first time in nine years. He was alone, about to walk straight back into a life he had spent most of his teenage life trying to get out of…

The jeep pulled up at the all-too-familiar main gates, and he entered the access code that opened them. As they slowly swung apart, the house was released from its prison from behind the wrought iron bars. A prison… a pretty good description… he thought. Once the gates were fully open, he began to walk slowly up the long driveway towards the mansion. His inheritance, and thus his only ticket to the happiness he figured he MUST deserve by now, lay within those four walls. And he was damned if he was going to run away now…