"Jessie! Jessie!"

Jessie looked up, her vision blurring from the tears. Meowth, fully recovered from the ambush a few days before, was bounding toward her, followed closely by Ash, Misty, and Brock.

"What happened?" Ash gasped.

"It's James," Jessie said softly. "Giovanni attacked us and James started fighting with him."

"Is he . . .?" They all gathered around, looking worried.

"I'm afraid he just might be," Jessie sobbed.

"Pika?" Pikachu nudged James, trying desperately to get him to respond.

"What's this?" Ash held up a red rose, which Jessie took with trembling hands.

"James loved roses," she whispered, pressing the flower gently into the lifeless boy's hand. She caressed his cheek. "Oh James. . . . Why did you have to go?"


Everyone jumped.

"It's Jim!" Meowth exclaimed. "He's alive after all!"

"Huh?" They all turned to look at James. His eyes were open and he looked confused.

"James! You scared me so bad . . ." Jessie trailed off, hugging James tightly.

"Boy, first he's dead, then alive, then dead and alive again," Meowth remarked sardonically, trying to hide his own relief.

Ash tried not to laugh. "Are you okay, James?" he asked. "You've been through a lot these last few days."

James smiled ruefully and rubbed at his head. "I think I'm alright. At any rate, I remember everything now."

"Pika-pika!" Pikachu greeted James happily.

"Ah, Pikachu. . . . I never thought you'd be happy to see me," James chuckled, stroking the small Pokemon's fur.

"Pika!" Pikachu replied.

"So, Jim, ya remember me too?" the feline Pokemon asked.

"Of course, Meowth," James said dryly.

"Maybe ya can tell us how ya survived the explosions," Meowth said. "They said there was no way ya could've gotten outta there!"

James smiled grimly. "Somebody—Giovanni, I'll assume—snuck up on me in the woods and tried to strangle me. I must say, he almost succeeded. But he wasn't counting on me playing a little trick on him."

"A trick?" Ash repeated.

James nodded. "I pretended to pass out on him, and he fell for it, just like I was certain he would. When he was gone, I got up and tried to fight my way out of the fire. Somehow I must have taken a misstep somewhere, because first I wound up cutting myself on a jagged rock I fell across, and then I was pushed over a cliff. I tore my shirt on the way down and hit my head on a rock at the bottom in the water."

"You were pushed over the cliff?" Jessie said in horror.

"Giovanni must have discovered I wasn't dead and tried to finish the job again," James said with a shudder.

"Oh man, that's awful," Brock remarked.

"Pika," Pikachu agreed.

"Oh, speaking of Giovanni . . ." James looked around nervously, peering over the railing. "Is he . . . dead?"

"I don't know, Jim," Meowth replied, "because no one's found him."

James groaned. "I have the sneaking suspicion we haven't heard the last from him."

"Why did he want you dead, James?" Ash asked.

"I have no better idea on that than I did before," James said with a helpless shrug. "And I'm not so sure that's a good thing."

"Well, let's get out of this creepy place," Misty announced suddenly.

"That's fine with me," James said wryly as they came down from the balcony. They all left the factory together as friends, at least for the time being.