Dead and Alive
By Lucky_Ladybug

Notes: None of the characters are mine, except some of the baddies! ^_~ Just the story idea is mine, and I hope y'all enjoy! ^^ BTW, I'm *really* bad with Pokemon names and details about the characters' pasts, sooo please forgive if anything sounds too strange! I tried to get everything aligned with the TV show ^_~

"What's happening?" Jessie screamed in shock. "James, you idiot, did you do this??"

"It's the twerps again!" Meowth declared.

Fire was shooting up all around them, covering the nearby trees and an already-collapsing cabin.

"Jessie! Get out of the way!" James gasped, pushing her away just as a huge fireball landed.

The smoke and fire was getting too thick to see anything, and several large branches fell from a nearby tree, separating the three Team Rocket members.
"Look at that!" Ash gasped, pointing at the flames.

"It's a forest fire!" Misty exclaimed.

"And a big one at that!" Brock added. "Somebody call the fire department!"

Misty ran off to do just that while Ash and Brock unleashed their water-squirting Pokemon in an attempt to put the blazes out.

Suddenly a small creature darted out of the flames, coughing.

"It's Meowth!" Ash realized. "What's going on? Did you start this fire?"

"No!" Meowth replied, coughing again. "Somebody's tryin' to barbeque us! I thought it was you twerps!"

"We wouldn't do something like this!" Brock said indignantly.

"Oh no?" Meowth was obviously referring to the time the Volpix and the Ninetales caught them in a fire blast. "Ya always run wild with your Pokemon! And one of these days, you're gonna wind up hurtin' someone! Like today!"

"We didn't start this!" Ash insisted. "Are Jessie and James in there somewhere?"

"They're not here?" Meowth's eyes went big. "Then they must still be in there!"

"We've gotta get them out," Ash said grimly.

Meowth turned around to scamper back into the inferno, and wound up crashing right into Jessie as she made her way out. "Where's James?" she demanded.

"He's in there somewhere!" Meowth exclaimed, gesturing wildly.

"What!" Jessie's eyes narrowed into slits when she saw Ash and Brock. "If you twerps were responsible for this . . ."

"We weren't already!" Ash yelled, getting frustrated.

"Pika!" Pikachu added in agreement.

That's when Misty returned with the fire truck. "Team Rocket?" she gasped. "I should've known!"

"We didn't do this, you little brat," Jessie growled. "We have to find James!" She attempted to disappear back into the flames, but a firefighter stopped her.

"Hold on, miss," he said, "you've inhaled enough smoke for one day. You'd better leave the searching up to us."

"I have to find him!" Jessie's eyes glowed as red as the fire.

"Don't worry, miss, we will," the firefighter assured her.

"Gee, I hope he's okay," Ash said softly.
"Jessie? Meowth?"

James stumbled through the smoke and flames, staying low to the ground. The fire was starting to get to him, and he knew he wouldn't last much longer unless he could get some fresh air.

Suddenly something grabbed him from behind, pulling him up by his hair.

"Who are you?? Unhand me!!" James ordered, his eyes watering and blurring his vision.

"At last." The voice was cold and harsh, with no feeling in it whatsoever, and muffled by some kind of breathing mask. "I have waited years for this. Now you shall die, you meddling imbecile. A pity, really. If you'd only left well enough alone we might not be having this meeting."

"Where are Jessie and Meowth?" James demanded, fighting to get free.

"Ah, never mind them. It's you I want, young James." His hands curled around the boy's neck. "I have poured gasoline around the fire. You can imagine the damage that's causing."

"Why are you doing this?" James tried vainly to pull his captor's hands away. He didn't have enough oxygen as it was without being strangled out of the rest of it.

"You know too much. And I want to make certain you never tell it."

"I don't know anything!" James protested, stomping on his unknown enemy's foot.

"That act won't get you anywhere except to the afterlife." The voice was even colder now, if that was possible. The foot-stomping hadn't fazed him one bit, it seemed.

"I won't die without a fight!" James gasped, knowing that he was too weak to do anything. He dug into the other's hands in vain. One final burst of pressure around his neck and he was gone.

"I believe you already have," his captor smirked wickedly, releasing his grip on the Team Rocket member, who dropped to the ground in a lifeless heap. "He has entered the sleep from which no one awakes." And with that, the dark figure vanished into the smoke.
"What's happening?" Ash gasped. "Why are there all those explosions?"

"In all likelihood, someone has been busy with a gasoline tank," a firefighter responded grimly.

"A what??!!" Jessie leaped up from her position on the grass. "That's it! I'm going in there to get James, whether you like it or not!"

Before anyone could stop her, she was dashing back into the inferno.

"She'll be killed!" Misty gasped.

"Well, there's no stopping her now," Ash remarked somberly.
The fire raged long into the night and the early morning hours. Meowth paced nervously back and forth, and Ash could've sworn that he saw the feline Pokemon shed a few tears.


"Yeah, Pikachu, it doesn't look good," Ash agreed.

"What could have caused this?" Misty said angrily. "Or who! If gasoline was poured around, this wasn't an accident!"

"It's a mystery," Ash sighed. "If someone did this on purpose, they're seriously demented!"

It was hours later when the flames were finally extinguished. The firefighters surveyed the blackened forest grimly.

"This will take weeks to clean up," one of them remarked.

"Did ya find any sign of Jessie or James?" Meowth asked another one pleadingly.

"Nothing," she replied, just as a bedraggled figure staggered throught the debris.

"Jessie!" Meowth exclaimed, running to greet her. "You're alright!"

"But James isn't." Jessie collapsed to the ground in tears. "I couldn't find him anywhere. He's gone! He must be!"

"Gone?" Meowth started crying right along with her. "But Jim can't be gone! He was too young to have his life go up in smoke like that!"

"Gone?" Ash and his friends echoed.

"Pika?" Pikachu's eyes glistened and abruptly he wandered off into the debris.

"Pikachu! Come back!" Ash called in vain, running to catch his Pokemon.

"Where's he going?" Misty wondered.

"Easy, kid, you'd better not go in there," a firefighter said gently, preventing Ash from chasing Pikachu. "It's probably not safe yet."

"But that's my Pokemon!" Ash protested.

"He'll probably be safer in there than you'd be," the firefighter replied firmly. "We don't want to lose anyone else."

It turned out the firefighter was right. Pikachu returned a couple of hours later, carrying something in his mouth.

"Pikachu! Why did you go off? And what have you brought back?" Ash knelt down next to his Pokemon and gasped at what he was handed—a tattered, bloody glove.

"Pika," Pikachu said sadly.

"What's that?" Jessie demanded, then saw and turned pale. "James' glove," she realized. She nearly fainted, but managed to steady herself. "He really is gone."

"Not Jim!" Meowth bawled. "He can't be! He just can't be!"
Even though James had certainly been one of Ash's enemies, his death was felt deeply even by him, Misty, and Brock.

"It seems so strange to think of him being gone," Misty said softly. The firefighters had combed the area searching for his body but had found nothing. They now considered the fire to be arson since finding an empty can of gasoline amongst the charred and burned wood and grass and had concluded that James had probably been caught in one of the explosions.

Ash and Brock nodded. "Pikachu isn't taking it very well either," Ash remarked, looking down at his Pokemon, who was sitting on the ground looking gloomy. "Strange, isn't it? James was always after Pikachu and we hated it, but now that he's . . . gone, I kinda wish he'd pop up out of nowhere with some new crazy scheme . . ."

"Pika," Pikachu said in agreement. It was the first and only time he would agree with such a statement.

"I wonder what Jessie will do now," Brock commented, glancing over at the Team Rocket girl, who was looking very alone and lost.

"Maybe we should go talk to her," Ash suggested. Slowly he made his way over to Jessie, with Misty, Brock, and Pikachu following closely. "Jessie . . . we're sorry about James," Ash said softly.

Jessie's head snapped up and she looked like she wanted to retort, "Oh *sure* you are," but then she saw the sincerity in Ash's eyes. She sighed, trying to control her emotions, and finally invited them to sit with her. They remained in silence for ages, until Jessie said quietly, "I called him an idiot. That was the last thing I said to him. I called him an idiot and accused him of starting the fire. I . . . I was just so angry . . . it just came out. . . . Now I'll never get the chance to tell him I'm sorry, that I didn't mean it. . . ." She couldn't believe she was spilling her emotions out to the twerps, but right now they didn't seem like the enemies they always had been before, and she needed to talk to somebody. "He's gone, he's really gone this time! And I treated him so badly. . . . I'll never forgive myself."

"I'm sure he knows you didn't mean it," Misty said compassionately.

Jessie shook her head sadly as she stood up and walked away.


She turned around. Meowth was scampering after her, and she waited for him to catch up before continuing on. "First my mother and now James," she said angrily. "The only two people who ever really cared about me, and now they're both gone."

"I care about ya, Jessie," Meowth replied softly. "And if we stick together, we can get through this."

Jessie sighed. "It'll never be the same," she said low. "And the boss will probably decide to send someone else to be my partner. I don't want someone else, darn it—I want James!"

"I do too, Jess," Meowth said sadly. "I'm really gonna miss ol' Jim."