ATTENTION: DUE TO INTENSE VIOLENCE AND MATURE THEMES, THIS FIC IS NOT INTENDED FOR SMALL CHILDREN OR SENSITIVE READERS.
The Dark Side of Innocence
by: Anna Sartin
James sat across from Giovanni's desk, fidgeting uncomfortably as his boss handed him a bottle of pills.
"They'll make a man out of you," Giovanni chuckled, mirthlessly.
James' eyes were drawn to the gun lying on Giovanni's desk, feeling an overwhelming urge to pick it up.
"This is your last chance," Giovanni was saying, but James didn't hear him.
His hand was creeping ever nearer to the gun, until at last he had it within his grasp. He slowly lifted the gun from its place, compelled by some unseen and yet unstoppable force as he aimed it at Giovanni's head. Closing his eyes, he felt his finger pull the trigger...
James woke up in a cold sweat.
"Where did that come from?" he asked himself, wiping his forehead. He did not have nightmares often, and murder was certainly not the main theme when he did. He rolled over and reached for the bottle of pills on the table between his bed and Jessie's. Why had the boss ordered him to take them?
"They'll make a man out of you," he recalled Giovanni telling him. "This is your last chance. If you continue to fail me after this, you're fired. Jessie too." Giovanni leaned back in his chair and reached to pet the Persian at his side. "You're weak, James," he continued, his eyes reflecting an inner coldness that frightened James, even now as he lay in bed recalling the meeting. "And weak people have no place in this organization. I'm tired of your constant failure giving Team Rocket a bad name."
Before James could point out that Team Rocket was supposed to have a bad name, Giovanni had promptly told him to get out.
"What's this stuff supposed to do?" he wondered, placing the bottle of pills back on the nightstand. He had taken the first one just before going to bed. They were large white pills with a bitter taste.
As Jessie coughed in her sleep, James found his attention turned to her. God, he loved her! He wasn't exactly sure what his relationship with his partner was. They lived together, worked together, and were practically joined at the hip 24 hours a day. They had been best friends for... how long? He no longer remembered. He found it hard to imagine her ever not being a part of his life. While their unity couldn't exactly be called a romantic relationship, their love for each other was plain. At the first sign of danger in their highly stressful job the first place they took refuge was in each other's arms. Although they were content with their life together in Team Rocket, both were secretly beginning to want more; and neither knew quite how to tell the other.
Someday... thought James, as he rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. Someday, it'll all work out. Someday I'll figure out how to tell her...
Lulled by Jessie's peaceful breathing, James drifted back to sleep.
. . . . . .
"Get up, lazy!" Jessie scolded, throwing a pillow at James. "Are you gonna sleep all day?"
"Go away," James mumbled, turning over to go back to sleep.
"Come on, James!" Jessie ordered sternly. "We've gotta catch that Pikachu! Get up!" She hit him upside the head with her pillow.
James ignored her.
Jessie was starting to lose her temper. She grabbed him by the collar of his pajama top and dragged him out of bed. James mumbled something suspiciously like a swear word and got up. "What did you say?" Jessie asked, as James opened the bottle of pills and swallowed one.
"Nothing," he grumbled, closing the bottle and setting it back down. Without another word, he went into the bathroom and slammed the door behind him.
Not only did their newest plan to capture Pikachu stink, (it involved crawling through a sewer) but so did James' attitude. He kicked Meowth twice (who fury-swiped him in return) and the only two words he said to Jessie all morning were "shove it." Jessie was too shocked to even hit him with a paper fan.
By 2 o'clock, they had been blasted off twice and decided to give up for the day. When they got back home, Jessie went to take a shower and James started cooking a late lunch. He seemed unable to concentrate on what he was doing and wound up burning the fried rice. He became so enraged that he threw the frying pan across the room, nearly hitting Meowth.
"Hey, watch where yer throwin'!" the Pokémon shouted.
Jessie, who had just come out of the shower, was becoming increasingly concerned. "James, do you feel all right?" she asked, unaware that the towel wrapped around her was slipping off.
"Fine!" he shouted, cleaning up the mess of rice all over the kitchen floor.
He looked up at her and noticed at the same time she did that her towel was falling to the floor. Jessie blushed and quickly retrieved it. As she re-wrapped herself, James felt a strange, violent urge sweep over him. The sudden intensity of the impulse scared him, and he quickly pushed it back down inside him.
. . . . . .
Later that evening, Jessie again approached him about his strange behavior. His mood had greatly improved, and he felt rather guilty about his earlier actions.
"I'm sorry, Jess. I don't know what was wrong with me. I feel a lot better now, though."
"I'm glad," she said, sitting down next to him on his bed. "Hey, James?"
"Yeah?" he asked.
"If anything were... well, bothering you, you know you can talk to me, right?"
He looked up at her. "Of course, Jess. We tell each other everything, right?"
She smiled. "Right, but..." her smiled slowly faded, "Sometimes I'm afraid that... maybe you're uncomfortable around me... because I look like her." She lowered her eyes to the floor. "You know, Jessiebelle."
James stared at her, surprised. That was the last thing he had expected her to say. "Jessie, nothing could be further from the truth! You're nothing like Jessiebelle! I mean, you have a temper, but you're not... not..." James stopped, not sure what word to use. How do you describe a person like Jessiebelle?
Jessie continued to stare at the floor. "But I know I can be mean sometimes, and I thought that... well... after today, I thought that maybe you were getting tired of me."
"Jessie, of course not!" James exclaimed, genuinely distressed as he put his arms around her. "Jessie, you're my best friend in the whole world and I wouldn't trade what we have for anything! I'd never compare you with Jessiebelle. The woman is deranged! She chased me around with a whip for gods-sakes!" He shuddered at the memory and a bitter, angry feeling swelled up in his heart, remembering how his parents had allowed it. Hell, they sat in the same room drinking tea while it happened, remarking on how they thought he and that madwoman were MADE for each other! James pushed those feelings back down inside him and concentrated on Jessie. "You're nothing like her," he said, hugging her tightly. "Nothing at all..."
. . .
That night, after taking another pill, James laid down in bed thinking about his first adult encounter with Jessiebelle and his family and the subsequent encounters he'd had since then. He recalled the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach when he first realized that his parents would both allow and even assist Jessiebelle in whatever physical abuse she deemed necessary to break his spirit as the lunatic chased him around, whip in hand. He shivered. His heart began to race as he remembered running frantically down a beach like a hunted animal with Jessiebelle hot on his heels after she had mistakenly "blasted off" with him and Meowth instead of Jessie another time she'd tracked him down at one of his summer estates. How could any parent want a woman like that for a daughter-in-law? How could they claim to care so much about his future when they cared so little about his happiness?
How could they do that to me? he thought angrily. I'm their son... aren't they supposed to love me for who I am?
Troubled by these thoughts, James drifted off into an uneasy sleep.
"James, dear! It's time for the weddin'!" Jessiebelle said, cracking her whip on the floor.
"Your mother and I are tired of waiting for you to grow up!" his father said, standing behind Jessiebelle. His mother nodded in silent agreement.
Jessiebelle cracked her whip again. "Let the tamin' begin!"
She lashed the whip at him, and he raised his hand in defense. The whip curled its self around his arm, and he jerked it out of Jessiebelle's hand. This time things were going to be different. He unwrapped his arm and took the handle into his own hand.
"I hate you!" he screamed at her, striking her with the whip. Jessiebelle screamed as the whip hit her again and again. At last she slumped to the floor in a bloody heap, beaten beyond recognition. He turned to his parents.
"I hate all of you!" he shouted, sending his new weapon against them.
Neither of them made a move to stop him and when they both lay in a state similar to Jessiebelle's James dropped the whip, in horrified realization of what he had done. He dropped to his knees and began to cry at the sight of his beaten and bleeding mother.
"Oh my god, what have I done?"
James woke up crying. He felt like he was going to be sick. Taking a deep breath, he tried to steady his nerves.
"Are you all right?" asked Jessie, who had woken up to the sound of his crying.
"It was just a dream," he said, more to himself than to her, as he laid back down to go back to sleep. "Just a dream..."
. . . . . .
The next day was even worse.
Their latest plan to capture Pikachu involved using bazookas to distract the newly reunited "Twerp Trio," while Meowth netted Pikachu. Jessie and James would fire shots away from Ash and company to divert their attention while Meowth tried to net Pikachu from behind. All was going according to plan until James decided to fire AT the children, missing Ash by mere inches.
"Are you insane?" Jessie screamed at him.
"Listen, if we just shoot the kid, then we can grab Pikachu!" James reasoned.
Jessie couldn't believe what she was hearing. "WE'RE NOT TRYING TO KILL ANYBODY!" she shouted.
"Well, maybe if we WERE, we would succeed for a change!" he yelled.
By the time they got back to HQ none of them were speaking. Meowth had called James a nutcase and Jessie was secretly beginning to agree. They sat around the place in silence for a while until Jessie couldn't take it anymore.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" she shouted at James, who was sitting at the kitchen table with his head in his hands.
He looked up at her with the helpless eyes of a frightened child and replied softly, "I don't know."
This answer seemed to infuriate Jessie, although in truth it frightened her terribly. James felt an increasing rage building up inside him as his partner continued to rant and rave as she stormed around the room. The strange, violent emotion he had felt toward her yesterday began to surface again.
"Are you even listening to me?" Jessie shouted, beginning to shake him.
Her close proximity and the smell of her perfume began to make his head spin. His anger/desire began to intensify and his conscience was telling him he had to get away from her, now. With his last bit of self-control, he pushed Jessie away from him and ran to the bathroom, locking himself inside. Jessie and Meowth heard the sound of glass breaking, and would later learn that James had shattered their bathroom mirror.
A few minutes later, Jessie knocked on the door. "James, are you all right?"
"James, are you sick?"
"I think so," came the sobbing reply. It sounded like he was sitting on the floor, leaning against the other side of the door.
"James, I'm sorry for yelling at you. Please let me in."
"Because I'm afraid..."
Jessie wondered at this cryptic response. "Afraid of what?" she asked, first to herself and then out loud.
"Jessie, could you just... leave me alone for a while. Please..."
Jessie didn't know what to think. "All right," she finally managed, her voice failing for a few seconds before adding, "James, if you need me, I'll be here, okay?" She heard a sharp intake of breath, followed by another sob from the other side of the door as she said this. "James?"
"A-alright..." he finally replied.
Jessie sat down on her bed, not knowing what to think. Her first thought was that James had meant he was afraid she would yell at him again but some deep, primal instinct inside her was telling her this wasn't the case.
. . . . . .
It was a full three hours before James came out of the bathroom, and when Meowth went in he gasped at the sight of the shattered mirror. The first-aid kit was still sitting on the sink, where James had used it to bandage the hand that he had put through the mirror. The blood had been wiped up from the sink, and the pieces of glass deposited into the wastepaper basket.
"He really IS losin' it," Meowth shuddered.
James went into the bedroom, where Jessie had fallen into a troubled sleep on her bed. Deciding that the best thing to do with a bad day was to end it, he got himself a glass of water and took another pill before climbing into his own bed.
James was standing in the kitchen, listening to Jessie yell at him. His eyes scanned the room looking for something, anything, to silence her. His eyes met with a cutting knife, which he took in hand. He backhanded Jessie, knocking her to the floor.
"Just shut up!" he heard a voice yell at her. It took James a moment to realize that the voice was his own. Before Jessie could get up, he was on top of her, holding the knife to her throat. "Just shut up, or I'll kill you!" his voice told her. With that, he began ripping her clothes away as she cried helplessly.
"No, stop it!" his mind screamed, but his body wouldn't obey him. When his hands had completed their task of removing her clothing, his body began to violate her mercilessly as she cried pitifully. "No, please stop this!" his mind pleaded, as feelings of both pleasure and sickness swept through his body. "This isn't who I am! I would never hurt her like this! I love her!"
James woke up vomiting.
Jessie had woken up as well, and immediately rushed to his aid. Just as James thought it was over, at the sight of Jessie he ran to the bathroom and began all over again. When his stomach had settled down a little, he got into the shower, trying to wash off the physical and psychological filth that he felt. No amount of washing seemed sufficient. He had never felt more dirty in his life.
When he had scrubbed his body until his skin was almost red, he got out of the shower and found a bag hanging on the outer doorknob, containing a clean pair of pajamas. He got dressed and stepped out of the bathroom, finding that his bed had already been stripped of their soiled sheets. Jessie, (who had already taken them down to the HQ laundry mat) came into the room and guided him over to her bed.
"You can sleep in my bed," she told him.
James' heart nearly stopped beating.
"I'm going to go down and wait for your sheets to get finished," she continued. "I doubt I could fall asleep again tonight, anyway."
James sighed in relief. He let Jessie tuck him into her bed.
"James, I'm so worried about you," she said, sitting on the edge of the bed. She gently wiped the hair out of his face, and felt his forehead for any sign of fever.
The gentle touch of her fingers brushing against his face made James start to cry. He didn't deserve to be touched by her! He deserved to be hated, reviled... not cared for. He was so lost in these thoughts he barely noticed Jessie softly kissing his forehead until she had already done it. This brought on a fresh onslaught of tears.
"I don't deserve you," he said weakly though his tears. When he stopped crying, he realized Jessie was gone, only to be back a minute later with a cold washcloth to wipe his hot, tear-stained face with. "What's happening to me, Jessie?" he asked pitifully, as she gently wiped his face and neck.
"I don't know, James... I wish I did."
"Jessie, y-you know that I would never do anything to... hurt you, right?"
Jessie wasn't sure what to make of his question. "Of course not," she said, finally.
"I don't know what's happening to me," he said miserably. "I'm afraid... of myself." His eyes met with Jessie's, which were filled with deep concern. "Jessie... I think..." He stopped.
"You think what?" Jessie asked him.
"I think I'm losing my mind."
. . . . . .
No one had much to say the next morning, and no one even considered going out to try and catch Pikachu. They were lucky Ash wasn't filing assault charges. Meowth had barely said a word all morning, and Jessie had the distinct feeling that James was avoiding her. Whenever she went into the room he was in, he got up and moved to a different room.
As she sat in their living room nursing a terrible headache, she heard shouting coming from the kitchen. When she went to investigate the commotion, she found James clutching Meowth by the throat.
"Let Meowth go!" the Pokémon screamed, unable to free himself from James' grasp.
"James, let him go!" Jessie cried, rushing to assist Meowth, who was turning blue.
Unable to loosen James' fingers from the gasping Pokémon's neck, Jessie smacked him hard, causing him to drop Meowth. James gave her a deadly look and raised his hand as if to strike her. Jessie glared at him, almost daring him to do it. In all the years they'd known each other James had never tried to harm her. His dark expression faded, as if he suddenly realized what he was doing. He lowered his hand.
"Jessie, I- I'm sorry..."
When Meowth had finally caught his breath, he yelled, "I ain't takin' dis no more! Yer tryin' ta kill yer own teammates now!" He turned to Jessie. "I ain't stayin' here ta be killed by dis psycho! I'm outta here!"
"Where are you going?" asked Jessie, hardly able to blame him for wanting to get away from James.
"Mondo's!" Meowth shouted, slamming the door on his way out.
As the slamming door echoed in James' head, a horrible realization dawned on him. He was now alone with Jessie.
"What did you think you were doing?" Jessie shouted at him. "First that kid and now Meowth? You're trying to KILL people, James! You're turning into a murderer!"
James sprang at her like a crazed animal, slamming her against the wall and pinning her arms so that she couldn't move. Normally, Jessie was the stronger of the two, but James' strength seemed to have doubled, and Jessie couldn't free herself from his hold.
"Let go!" she demanded. For a brief instant she considered kneeing him in the groin (and, if needed, follow up with a hard kick in the stomach) but she couldn't bring herself to use such a drastic move on her partner. This wasn't an enemy, this was the man she loved and trusted more than anyone else in the world. But where had that person GONE?
"James, you're scaring me," she pleaded, as he glared at her menacingly. His soft green eyes had become cold as ice, and Jessie noticed that his pupils were slightly dilated.
James felt the now-familiar wave of violent desire rise up in him again, causing the nightmare he had had last night to come back to him. But this time his body was still under his own power.
No! I won't hurt Jessie, I won't!
He silently commanded his hands to release her, and backed away from her slowly, holding his head with his hands. He wanted to tell her to run, to get away, but he couldn't seem to find his voice. Finally he ran from the room, leaving Jessie in a state of semi-shock. She slid to the floor, unable to speak.
"What the hell just happened?"
Half of her wanted to go after him, and the other half wanted to just run, run as far away from him as she could. Neither side prevailed however, as she couldn't seem to pull herself from that spot. The image of his angry eyes came back to her, and the memory of his dilated pupils caused a new thought to come to her.
He looked almost... drugged...
Suddenly she heard crashing coming from their bedroom. The noise had stopped by the time she had plucked up enough courage to go and investigate, and she found that James had totally trashed the place. He was lying on his bed, sobbing into his pillow.
"Jessie, I'm so sorry!" he cried. "I don't know what's wrong with me or why this is happening, but I don't want to lose you. Please don't leave me, Jessie!"
After trashing their bedroom the violence had left his system, leaving only an exhausted and frightened human being who was now terrified that his only friend in the world was going to leave him. He felt almost sure that after what he had done, she was going to walk out the door and he would never see her again.
Jessie went to pick up their lamp off the floor and put it back on the nightstand. When she had returned it to its rightful place, her eyes met with the bottle of pills sitting on the nightstand. It was one of the few things still in place, James had even torn the curtains from the windows.
"Hey, James?" she asked, picking the bottle up. "What day did you start taking these pills the boss gave you?"
James stopped crying and tried to think, relieved that Jessie was still talking to him. His mind felt strangely clouded, and he found that he couldn't even remember what today was, let alone think back. "I- I don't know, Jessie... I can't think straight..."
"It was Monday, wasn't it?" she asked. "The day he gave them to you?"
"Yeah, I think so... I took the first one before going to bed..."
"And Tuesday morning was when you started acting strange," she continued.
James couldn't think clearly enough to see the connection. He just stared at Jessie in a lost, helpless sort of way.
Jessie looked at the label. Except for a red R stamped on it, it was handwritten. The name of the drug was not written on the bottle, just the instructions followed by a number scrawled at the bottom:
Take twice a day, one in the morning and one before bed.
"I'm going out for a while," Jessie said, squeezing the bottle in her hand thoughtfully.
James became hysterical. Clutching her arm, he cried, "No, Jessie! Don't leave me, please! I'm so sorry for what I did! I don't want to lose you, Jessie! Please don't leave me!"
"I'm not leaving you, James," she told him reassuringly. "I'm just going out for a while."
"But you'll be back, right?" he begged, his eyes pleading with her desperately.
"Of course I'll be back," she said, covering him with his blue blanket. "Try to get some rest, okay? I'll be back soon."
He continued to cry until Jessie kissed his forehead and promised again to return soon.
"I'm so sorry, Jessie," he murmured sleepily. "I'm so sorry... for everything..."
"Shhh... sleep now," she whispered, before leaving their bedroom and going out the door, still holding the bottle of pills in her hand.
. . . . . .
The labs underneath Team Rocket HQ were quite extensive, and Jessie didn't go to them often. She only knew one of the scientists currently stationed there, a young woman in her mid-twenties named Lana. It was Lana that she was seeking now, hoping that she could tell her something about the drug Giovanni had ordered James to take. She found the green-haired young woman caring for a sick Raticate, while a Persian paced back and forth nervously in a nearby cage.
"Can you tell me what this is?" Jessie asked her when she had returned the Raticate to its cage. She handed her the bottle.
Lana read the label and then opened the bottle of pills.
"I didn't realize they were using this outside of the lab," she said finally.
"What do you mean?" asked Jessie. "What is this stuff?"
"It's a combination of steroids and a behavior modifying drug, among other things," said Lana. "Except unlike most drugs designed to modify behavior, this one was designed to make the subject more aggressive. It was designed for normal-type Pokémon to make them stronger and more aggressive in battle."
"For Pokémon?" Jessie exclaimed.
"That's right. But I can't believe they're using this outside of the lab already. It's still in the experimental stage and several of the Pokémon we administered it to have died."
Jessie's face turned white. "D- died?"
"I wasn't part of the team that invented the drug, but I was ordered to use it on twenty test-Pokémon and take half of them off of it after a week. Of the ten that continued taking the drug only two are left."
Jessie felt like she was going to faint.
"The only two left are this Raticate and that Persian over there," said Lana. "The Raticate is dying, but the Persian's body seems to have adjusted to the drug. How are your Pokémon holding up?"
"I'm not talking about Pokémon!" Jessie shouted. "I'm talking about my partner, James! Giovanni ordered him to take these pills!"
Lana stared at her, stunned. "He's testing this stuff on PEOPLE? He's out of his mind!"
Jessie felt a wave of nausea wash over her and Lana quickly got her a chair and told her she had better sit down before she fell down.
"He's got to be insane!" said Lana, getting a chair and sitting down herself. "I had to keep all the Pokémon I administered the drug to in separate cages, because they all became so violent they tried to kill each other. When we tried to get them to battle, we found that the drug hindered their ability to concentrate. They couldn't remember their attacks, they just blindly charged at their opponents and tried to tear them apart. What could he possibly hope to gain by testing this stuff on his employees?"
Jessie began to cry miserably, her mind recalling James' behavior over the past three days. "Oh my god... James..."
"How is he?" asked Lana.
"It's like I don't know him anymore," Jessie wept. "He nearly strangled Meowth, he fired a bazooka at a twelve year-old child and he's completely trashed our bedroom! One minute he's like a complete maniac and the next minute he's like a frightened child fighting some kind of demon inside him!"
Lana nodded, knowingly. She got up and went over to a nearby desk.
"And now he could die," Jessie continued, crying all the while. "I can't lose him, I can't!"
"Listen," Lana said, getting a bag out of one of the desk drawers and coming back over to her. "The ten Pokémon I took off the drug after a week are all still alive. Their bodies suffered from withdrawal for a few days, but after that they were fine."
"Then he'll be okay?" Jessie asked hopefully, trying to control her tears.
"I can't guarantee you that, but I believe so. We've never tested the drug on a human being before. I can only speculate based on data I collected from the Pokémon I tested it on. I also don't know exactly what the drug is made of, I was only told it contained steroids and something to increase aggressive behavior. But something in it is addictive, because the Pokémon suffered from withdrawal. I honestly don't know what's going to happen to your partner."
"So what should I do?" asked Jessie. "How can I help James?"
"For starters, don't let him take any more of these," Lana said, handing her the bottle of pills back. "Try to keep him calm and relaxed. Don't do anything that would excite him or cause him to become angry. He's going to suffer from withdrawal once the drug's out of his system, but hopefully it should be minor considering he's only been on it for three days. But right now, the most important thing is to keep him calm while the drug's still in his system. And take these."
She handed Jessie the bag she was holding. It contained a syringe and needles, along with vials of clear fluid.
"What's this?" Jessie asked.
"Tranquilizers," Lana replied. "Do you know how to do it?"
"Yes, I went to nursing school for a while," Jessie said. "But the last thing I want to do is put MORE drugs in his system!"
"I know this is hard," Lana said, gently. "But if he becomes violent, he could hurt or kill someone, including himself. You've got to be strong for him and keep him under control. But once the drug wears off he's going to be very sick and very afraid, and that's when he's going to need you the most."
Jessie nodded and closed the bag. She closed her eyes and held it to her chest.
. . .
Hot tears streamed down Jessie's face as she headed back to the rooms she and James shared at Team Rocket HQ. How could Giovanni do such a thing? Maybe James wasn't the strongest member of Team Rocket- or the brightest either, for that matter. But he had a spark for life that was all his own, combined with a gentle nature that she so loved. How dare he try to take that from him, to turn a sweet, gentle person into a murderer?
Before she had halfway reached home something inside her burst, and fierce anger surged through her as she started screaming in rage. Half-blinded by tears, she marched the rest of the way home yelling threats and curses, until finally black misery overtook her. When she had reached their door, she fell to her knees and began to cry bitterly.
-CONTINUED IN PART TWO-