Dedicated to my own perfect girl. Te amo para siempre. One love, one life.
People who knew of her would probably claim that Cassidy ruthlessly pursued power.
This was not on the fundamental level quite true, or even fair. What Cassidy needed, what always seemed to elude her once she reached out her hands greedily for it, was perfection. She was always ruthlessly honest with herself – made a masochistic hobby out of self-analysis, in fact, terrified of making another error like the ones that had haunted her – and she knew this to be true of herself. She needed to achieve everything asked of her, to be praised for being clever, for being beautiful, for being efficient, for being… herself, just as faultless as she could become.
Given different parents, a different background, a different chance at life, she might have become a Pokémon Master, and spent the rest of her life waiting for some new trainer to topple her from her throne. Instead, she had joined Team Rocket, and concentrated on becoming just the best villain she could be, Giovanni's praised darling. It might have been a twisted ideal of success, but it had served as the necessary ego prop. She had been happy, for a while… At least she had woken every morning to the comforting knowledge that she was the best of the worst.
She had lost her throne in only a few short months.
First Ash Ketchum and his damned pokémon had come along and ruined her good record of evildoing. And then little Domino, barely more than a child, had tumbled Cassidy from the pinnacle of Giovanni's approval. She had been relegated to second-best… flawed, and acknowledged to be so.
Cassidy lay awake, trying to make out the ceiling in the darkness, and realised that for the first time in weeks, the sharp twisting pain in her breast had eased, and along with it the self-hatred. The awareness of her own failure was still there, but it had ceased to hurt her. The absence of pain gave her a strange feeling that something was missing… That she had been reborn, and was still a egg-shell skinned, helpless baby. She was all too vulnerable to being dropped and damaged but, now, just for now, she felt warm and cosy and loved. It was enough.
She rolled over to ease a cramp in one leg, moving awkwardly to avoid waking the other occupant of the bed. Not that Jesse, as a child, could usually be woken by anything short of an avalanche, and there was no reason to suspect she had changed now.
The bed had somewhat uncertain supports, which had creaked and plunged ominously earlier in the night, and the mattress was not exactly what Cassidy was used to laying her pampered frame on. They had managed to kick away the undersheet at some point, too, which only made the situation worse. Cassidy had deliberately booked a room towards the lower end of what she considered acceptable, afraid of provoking damaging jealousy in her lover if she had displayed what she was used to, and then winced as Jesse's huge eyes had widened still further at the luxury of booking a hotel room at all. Cassidy supposed that if she spent her life sleeping on the ground, in balloons or on benches in Team Rocket shacks, she would have been impressed too. At one point she would have taken a hurting revengeful pleasure at the idea of the hell that was Jesse's life. Now all she felt was an oddly aching, protective pity.
As far as Cassidy herself was concerned, the room was an almost-unbearable tip. She badly needed a shower, too – her skin was clammy with sweat, and the blanket was too rough and too heavy on her delicate skin. And Jesse was not a particularly delicate sleeping companion. She snored like a piloswine.
And yet… For the first time in her life, Cassidy felt free of the prickling awareness of imperfection. There was not a thing in the room she would have changed, for fear of sacrificing it all over one negligible detail.
Although, top be honest, she could probably do without the cramp in her leg. She sat up and began to flex her foot, carefully, trying to tease out the pain, and distracting herself by picking out her new lover's face in the blue-shadowed darkness. A heart-shaped face, with feathered lashes and a small mouth, gaping and drooling slightly in sleep. Cassidy, fastidious woman that she was, should have been horrified.
But … after all, it was kind of cute. Jesse did everything, even sleep, with complete abandon, like a child. Even to a perfectionist like Cassidy, it was oddly endearing. She wasn't used to feeling warm and tender like this, and it was nicer than she would have imagined. But as the blonde smiled fondly down, Jesse snorted and turned over onto her side, and Cassidy's indulgent mood suddenly, brutally, crushed.
Under this light, Jesse's hair looked almost purple, and her profile was too close to that of her mother. Cassidy had hated Miyamoto, hating her at first with a childish passion that was all the more intent because she only dimly understood why her own mother cried at night, and why it was Miyamoto's fault. Later, she had understood slightly better, and her hatred had become so strong that she had thought it would kill her. Miyamoto was everything Cassidy despised, someone who had so little respect for herself that she would give herself to Giovanni or Madame Boss or anyone else who would pay her for the use of her body. To Cassidy, already bent on becoming her own mother's little angel, Miyamoto's willingness to degrade herself so intimately for something as paltry as cash was utterly incomprehensible. Especially as Miyamoto never seemed to gain anything concrete from her relentless obsession with money… Jesse was half-starved and wore rags, while even Cassidy's mother could dress and feed her own daughter.
Even as a child, Cassidy had sensed something ugly and very very wrong in her best friend's home. She had responded by taunting Jesse with the knowledge that her mother didn't love her, not even enough to give her food, that her mother was a whore who cared only for men, that her mother was a failure… The cruelties slipped from her lips like honey, and burned into her best friend like acid. And Cassidy had almost been glad to hurt the friend she had loved and ruin their friendship, as if somehow by doing so she could do justice for being unable to stop her own mother's tears.
Still later, Cassidy understand that Miyamoto's relentless accumulation of unspent wealth had been not a sign that she didn't love her daughter but of some deeper, darker disturbance. By then it was too late. Miyamoto, buried under her mountain, was beyond the reach of help or hatred. Cassidy's own mother had died quietly, the failure Cassidy had promised herself never to become – Domino or no Domino... And Jesse, the only true friend Cassidy had ever had, hated her bitterly.
She hadn't joined Team Rocket only because her own mother's death had left her destitute, and Giovanni always extended a hand to those with both talent and desperation. Joining Miyamoto's organisation had been penance of a kind, as well as a hopeless gesture towards those she had once loved, Jesse as well as her mother and in some strange way Miyamoto herself. And Cassidy had found her second true friend and kindred spirit in her partner Butch, and been damned good at her job.
When her path had crossed with Jesse, though, she had retreated instinctively into childhood enmities again. If hatred blazed in Jesse's eyes, at least it hurt less if she was doing something to deserve it…
And now… Suddenly, in the space of a heartbeat, it was over. She would make it up to Jesse if it killed her. And make it up to herself, who had probably suffered far worse in the end.
Ridiculous that it was that detestable brat Domino who had inadvertently caused the miracle. Cassidy had no doubt that it was at Domino's spiteful instigation that Giovanni had decided to remove the dead weights from his team, and included his former darlings Butch and Cassidy on the list. Jesse and James' places had been taken for granted.
Old resentments had faded in the heat of a common grief and common enemy, but not enough. The alliance to mutually revenge themselves on Domino had disintegrated into the women fighting about their childhood, old slights and quarrels and hurts, and Jesse had started to cry with the uncontrolled bawling of a little girl… And suddenly it was there, staring Cassidy in the face, what should have been obvious all along. She had caught one brief glimpse of the boy's shocked faces as she had wrapped Jesse in her arms and soothed her hot wet face with kisses, and then, oh then, there had been nothing in the world but the two of them. More words, heard with understanding this time, and more kisses, and finally this hotel bed.
And now… She was lying in the darkness, and feeling more dizzy than anything. Hatred melting back into the love it had sprung from was… disorientating.
Cassidy bent over to place a butterfree-soft whisper of a kiss on silky skin, and Jesse made a sound reminiscent of a rhydon in a particularly bad mood. Cassidy sighed and snapped on the bedside lamp. That was about it… True love and perfection or not, she wasn't going to sit awake and alone in the darkness listening to that kind of disgusting racket. Not when there was much better things to do with her time… She prodded the other woman, hard, in the lower back. When it didn't work, she slapped her rump, enjoying it rather more than she had expected. Jesse had a particularly cute bottom.
The redhead spluttered awake, uttering threats of deep violence even before she had regained consciousness. When she encountered Cassidy instead of one of her partners, she stopped swearing in shock. There was a still sweet moment, as the women gazed at each other, then memory crept across the younger girl's face in dusky rose. It was beautiful. And Jesse herself was beautiful, at least like this, her expression almost sweet in its confusion of happiness and embarrassment.
"It's you," she said, as if she could hardly believe it. "Cassidy… you… we…"
It was the same combination of words she had used the night before, after their first overwhelming, perfect kiss. Cassidy shivered at the memory of the first sweet touch of Jesse's tongue against hers. Suddenly she was terrifying of ruining it all, of going back to where they had been.
Instead of reacting to Jesse's wondering gaze, she said in her normal sharp tones, "Don't just sit there staring – make yourself useful. My foot has cramp," she added, whiningly. She attempted a pathetic tremulous growlithe look, even though she was afraid she couldn't quite manage it. She was more of the houndoom type.
Jesse laughed, the lunatic tinkle of her giggle less brittle and less like Miyamoto's than Cassidy had ever heard it. It was almost… sweet. "Don't look so much like James. It's too disturbing!" she snapped, but her eyes had settled from wonderment into happiness, and the anger in her voice was more habit than anything. Surprisingly skilful hands found Cassidy's foot, working the tight muscles loose.
Cassidy had to ask it, despite the Flaming Moltres thing. "Did you and James ever wake like this?"
Jesse's eyes widened. "Are you insane? James with a girl? Even one as fabulous as me?" She fluttered long eyelashes, glittering reddish-pink in the lamplight now that they were unclogged by mascara.
Cassidy shrugged painfully, refusing to joke back. "I've never seen you with a girl either."
Jesse bit her lip, her cheeks darkening. "That's because you were always the only girl I ever wanted." And then Jesse's tongue was in her mouth, and on her throat and ears and breasts in indiscriminate, wet hunger, and the cramp and uncomfortable bed didn't matter at all.
Later, with her head pillowed on Jesse's breasts, Cassidy registered but did not care that the air conditioner had died a noisy death at last and the heat of their bodies pressed together was too much. What was that compared to the delicious way something deep inside her would spasm every now and then, sending shocklets of imagined pleasure through her? She wasn't going to let go of Jesse if her life depended on it. And the pressure of the arms crushing her, wrapped tightly below the breasts, was reassuring.
Almost reassuring enough, but not quite. "Jess?"
"Mmm?" One hand released its death grip, to play in Cassidy's hair. Cassidy dimly realised it would be badly disarranged, and she hated her shooting stars coming awry… But if a vain little bimbo like Jesse could cope with messy hair under the circumstances, so could she. And there were more pressing matters to hands… A little, pulsating fear under all her molten contentment.
"Do you love me as much as you did last night?"
Jesse pushed Cassidy's shoulders so hard she half-flew across the bed. She propped herself up on her hands, staring at the bare mattress beneath her and feeling her own breathing… waiting. Suddenly terrified.
"How dare you ask me that now?" Jesse sounded furious; but then, she generally did. There was no clue there. And it might even be guilt…
"Do you love me?"
Jesse had obviously been ready to yell again, but she met Cassidy's desperate purple eyes, and hesitated. Softened. "Of course I love you." She paused, suddenly looking uncertain herself. "Do you still love me?"
Cassidy took her face between her hands, and stared hard. Then she leaned forwards for the kiss. It was soft and hard at the same time, lips only, sweet and intrinsically female and right.
"I love you." Kisses melted into more kisses, Jesse's mouth opening against hers. "I –" long kiss "always" – longer kiss, wetter – "loved – " Their tongues pushed against each other, caressed, loved. Perfect.
"Don't ask stupid questions, then," Jesse said, when they paused for a moment.
"I'm sorry." Apologising always hurt Cassidy, and she tried to compensate with a hard, flippant little explanation. "I don't trust perfect things."
Jesse tossed crushed-strawberry hair at that. "I can see how you might be intimidated by my perfection," she said complacently.
"I said things, not people. You are certainly not perfect. You're an incompetent brat who couldn't steal a pokémon from a baby. And you snore." Cassidy wasn't quite sure how they ended up in a tickle fight, which only ended when Jesse kicked Cassidy rather sharply in the mouth.
The blonde Rocket screamed rather louder than she had a few minutes ago.
"Oh, I'm sorry… let me look… Jesse offered, still giggling, and it somehow turned into kissing Cassidy's bruised lips better. Which led to them becoming rather more bruised, and another incandescent interval.
When she could breathe again, and the lamp was at last switched off to give them some chance to sleep, Jesse's voice was soft in the darkness. "Don't leave me."
"I – no. Jesse, why?"
"I thought – before, when you asked me that- you were getting ready to leave me. Everyone leaves me." Jesse's voice was shorn of the usual overly dramatic wailing with which she usually declaimed its sob stories - it was quiet and flat. Not a cherry blossom petal in sight, either. Cassidy was sure this was not a good thing. "Every man I've ever been with has used me and left me, just because I'm… a bad person. Only James stays, and we've never… Well, of course we haven't."
Cassidy sought for adequate words. "I'm not a man," she said, which was self-evident and ridiculous and didn't really answer the question, or answer Jesse's pain. It was the best she could manage for now, though.
"No – no, you're not a man." Jesse's hand slipped down a breast, almost reverently. She had never done that to another woman. Cassidy felt fierce pride at the thought. She tried again.
"And if you're a bad person – well, so am I. Nobody's perfect." The words weren't as difficult to say as she would have thought. "And I won't leave you. You are so stuck with me, babe. I love you."
"I love you too." The tension melted out of Jesse, and she snuggled closer. "Everything's nearly perfect."
"We're still fired from Team Rocket."
Cassidy shrugged, feeling sleep inviting her, and not being inclined to argue. "We'll fix that. I understand Giovanni."
"And James and I owe him too much money for him to consider letting us go." Jesse giggled, while Cassidy smiled sleepily to herself, a sudden thought hitting her. All of Miyamoto's unspent wealth must be somewhere. Obviously Jesse had never got her extravagant hands on it… So where was it? Cassidy was sure her own mother's spirit would be very happy, wherever she was, if Cassidy had a share in that insane miserly 0bitch's precious money. "And we still need to find a way to get revenge on that little bitch for convincing him to fire us," Jesse added.
"Oh, I'm good at revenge. And at getting my own way." Cassidy smiled drowsily. "I'm more worried about us being on different teams… but we'll fix that too."
"Yeah." Jesse sounded close to sleep too.
"And the boys seemed a little freaked out by seeing us together… They might feel betrayed. After all, we were very clear about hating each other, and they backed us up rather well."
"Oh, James will understand," Jesse murmured confidently. "As for Meowth and Butch… Well, they only want what makes us happy, right?"
"You're right." Cassidy nodded. Butch would tease hell out of her, of course, but he really was her best friend. He would support her when it counted. She let herself sink deeper.
"Besides." Jesse sounded awake now, and she flung one arm out in a flourish, nearly knocking the dodgy Jigglypuff lamp from the bedside table. "Of course everything will be perfect. How could it not work out for two perfect women like us?"
Cassidy turned her head to kiss one of her lover's shoulders.
"Damn right, Jessica. Everything's perfect," she whispered.
And went to sleep.