"Well, Jesse

***A Closure of Kinds***

///For the woman who loves me back... for good. Te amo tanto, mi adorada angel.///

"Well, Jesse."

Jesse didn't look up, continuing to brush her hair as if nothing had happened. That is, as Cassidy reflected, if Jesse now usually brushed her hair while staring down at her lap instead of up at the mirror she had propped on a tree stump. It didn't seem likely. From her own memories of the girl, the problem was usually to get her to look away from the mirror once she had become enraptured with her own gorgeous reflection. Jesse raised vanity to an art form.

There had been a time when Cassidy could be enraptured by the Jesse's beauty by the hour, as well. Maybe she could even do so now, if she let herself. Lose herself in the rhythm of the brush moving through strawberry hair, the counterpoint of every of breath making Jesse's chest rise and fall slightly, under her cut-up white jacket.

But Cassidy had come to silence old dreams, not reawaken them.

She decided patience was a liability, in the situation. After all, it wasn't often she found Jesse without the transvestite and the talking cat hanging around, and the girls needed a chance to talk.

"*Jesse.*" She reached down and captured the gloved wrist wielding the brush. "Pay attention."

Jesse, predictably, didn't meekly accept the grasp. "Let go of me, you old hag!" she snarled, wrestling her arm away. There was a brief moment of struggle, then Cassidy released her old friend's wrist, letting her pull away. It was more difficult to do than it should have been, her old instinctive refusal to ever let Jesse appear to triumph over her coming through. But, after all, she had what she wanted – Jesse's eyes, burning hot blue with indignation, were focused on her, now.

And besides, Jesse was quite strong for a girl.

"Old hag? Jesse, I'm only twenty.… one year older than you, my dear. Or had you forgotten that?"

Jesse didn't answer, but from her tense posture, arms folded over her chest and little rosebud mouth sulky, Cassidy realised that she had accidentally touched a nerve. She's deadly afraid of turning even twenty. Goddess, what would it be like, to be a teenager and already terrified of ageing? Cassidy was oddly relieved that her own pride was based in ambition, not Jesse's fleeting butterfly vanity.

Oddly enough, with contempt came pity and something like the old tenderness. She reached out and touched one lock of Jesse's hair, shining like ripe berries against the white of Cassidy's gloves. The sun was close to setting, the sky already stained with gold and purple, and the dying light warmed Jesse's hair almost to scarlet. "You're still beautiful, Jess."

"Don't call me that!" Jesse snapped. Suddenly the tiny mouth turned up in amused cruelty. "Only James has the right to call me that."

That swipe hurt, just a little. Cassidy ignored the pang. She knew exactly how to get to Jesse; the redhead, with all her limpid tempestuousness, was enraged and defeated by a pose of smug superiority. In any case, Cassidy was*good* at that.

"And where exactly is the, what did he say, Flaming Moltres I think he is calling himself now?" Jesse's cheeks flushed scarlet with embarrassment. "Quite a fetching outfit, that. You were right, I think it did come directly from his *closet.*"

Jesse didn't actually hit her, but the other girl estimated that she was only a few degrees off the incendiary point. "Watch your mouth." She tossed her reddish pink hair. "I don't think you can talk about partners. Wasn't that Butch's plan you were using today? A daycare centre… What were you trying to do, steal pokémon from children? How low can you and your politoed-voiced partner get?"

Cassidy laughed out loud. "How old is the kid with the Pikachu, Jess? Forty-two? And besides, you and James walked right into our trap along with the rest of them."

"You still haven't changed, have you, Cassidy? The same superior little bitch."

"And you haven't changed at all, either, have you?" Cassidy smiled slyly. "Talking of closets…" She twisted Jesse's hair around her finger, admiring the way it glowed like a ring cut from garnet. "I don't think it's a coincidence that James and the talking Meowth just happen to have had urgent business elsewhere. You knew I would come here tonight…"

"I have nothing to say to you!" Jesse grabbed Cassidy's hand, as if to push it away, but hesitated. Maybe it was the imminent danger of pulling her own hair out by the roots, or maybe it was something else. In any case, the immediate result was that she ended up holding Cassidy's hand. Cassidy threaded her own fingers through Jesse's, and they remained locked there for a moment, hand in hand. Perhaps that was why Jesse's voice softened as she said, "It was all a long time ago. And it's over now."

"Yes," Cassidy agreed softly. " I just thought we needed… closure."

She leaned forward just a little, and then they were kissing, bodies not quite touching but their hands still linked, as lips softly caressed each other. It was Jesse, in the end, who opened Cassidy's mouth with her tongue, changing and deepening the kiss. The sun finally dipped below the trees as their mouths parted, reluctantly, mouths lingering in tiny kisses as their communion broke.

There was a long silence, violet eyes burning into blue. Cassidy wondered what Jesse was thinking, if her mind too was on other sweet gentle kisses, other moments together. It was almost the same… Almost.

Amazing, under the circumstances, that their kiss had been so innocent. But then, their kisses always had been… Cassidy wondered, with a brief chill, whether Jesse was still a virgin. It seemed unlikely. But after all, Cassidy still was… Maybe the spiderweb bonds of childhood sweethearting held both girls still.

They had been little more than children in truth, in the first budding years of adolescence. Young enough to conquer the world. They had cuddled together and shared their dreams… Jesse, poverty-stricken and with the aggressiveness born of deprivation, had nevertheless had dreams carved of pure rose quartz. She had, Cassidy remembered, wanted to be a pokémon nurse, and look after pokémon in pain and trouble, protecting them as the motherless little girl had never been protected herself. Cassidy, born to privilege, had had grander dreams, wanting to use power and influence to impose happiness and justice on the world, And they were always, whatever dreams they forged, always going to be together.

What would we have thought then if we could see our future? Cassidy wondered despairingly. Rivals in a criminal organization, souls sold to Giovanni, stealing for a living, and hating each other instead of loving… She could have wept for the idealistic, loving little girls they had been, such a short space of time ago. Wept blood for the women they were now.

Jesse finally broke the silence. "You should go now," she said, flatly. "James and Meowth will be back soon."

"I know." Cassidy leaned forward to steal another long kiss, trying not to taste the bitterness in it, just drown in the honey. She knew that this would be the last kiss they ever shared. Maybe they had chosen the wrong paths in life, but either way, it was time to move on with them. Perhaps Jesse already had, despite James' feathered bodysuit and little cross-dressing habit.

"Goodbye, Jess."

Jesse suddenly hugged her, fiercely enough to squash the breath from her body. At least, Cassidy wanted to think that was why she was suddenly choking. "Goodbye, Cass."

Cassidy pulled away before the tears could come, and ran down the forest path, towards where she knew Butch was waiting for her. For all the wetness on her cheeks, she was happy. She knew she could let Jesse free to live her own life now, and as for herself… Perhaps she could finally find the right girl, someone who could love her back for good, not just for a few porcelain moments of childhood. Not a girl, a woman…

For the first time in years, Cassidy felt free.

**end**