Twisted Paths, Forgotten Pasts
A loud scream emanated through the small section of the lab where a small group of the pokemon specimens were kept along with Michi. So used to sudden, loud cries of pain were the pokemon there, that none of them so much as looked up upon hearing the scream. Michi was the only one who seemed bothered by the cry.
The girl had no idea just how long she had been in the dark lab. She spent a large portion of her time there sleeping, for they kept her drugged up, so she could not tell night or day apart, as the scientists worked all day long, in shifts.
She turned, looking through the bars of her cage on the side where she could see the stairs that led to the next floor. "Hi James!" She perked up considerably, glad to see the blue-haired man. Every now and then he would appear by her cage, just to say hello most of the time, but sometimes he'd stay a little longer, and talk to her about something. "Hi James!" Smiling brightly, she scooted closer to the cage bars.
He returned her smile somewhat nervously, tucking a lock of blue hair behind one of his ears. "Look, uh Michi..."
"What is it?" She asked curiously.
"Me and Jessie and Persian are supposed to be taking care of you from now on... They still want us to return you to the lab at night, but every morning at six am, we're to take you out and, well, just keep an eye on you, and at nine pm, we bring you back."
Grinning widely, she would have jumped up and twirled around if it were possible. "So, what are you waiting for? Let me out!"
He quickly unlatched the cage, but as he was about to reach in the help her out, she jumped into his arms, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him on the cheek.
"Uh, you're welcome." Gently, he set her down on her own feet, but then he reached into his pocket and took out some sort of silver bracelet. "I'm sorry, but you'll have to wear this at all times..." He snapped it onto her wrist, and she examined it curiously. "It's so we can keep track of you." He answered her un-spoke question.
"I'm not gonna run away until I've done what I have to, James." She informed him. "I've told you before, I have things to do here."
Raising his eyebrows, he looked at the young, twelve or so year old girl. "And what are those things?"
"Well, I'm looking for someone, and I also need to kind of destroy Team Rocket, with your help of course." She looked at her wrist and sighed. "This records everything I say, doesn't it?"
"Oh well, I'm sure your boss knows anyway. He probably knows what's really going on here. I think he has an inside informant or something..." Thoughtfully, she frowned, twirling a lock of white hair on one of her fingers. "So," She returned her attention to him. "where are we going first?"
"Well, we're going upstairs, we'll meet up with Jessie and Persian, then we'll go to our apartment and after that... I guess we'll go to lunch."
"Yeah!" She slipped one of her hands into his, beaming happily at him. "Let's go then! You talk quite a lot about Jessie and Persian, but they never came down here with you... I want to meet them!"
He laughed, ruffling her hair with his free hand. "Let's go then."
"I can't believe the boss wants us to baby-sit some little brat..." Persian complained, pacing the floor of the lobby.
"Well," Jessie sighed. "From what James said, she doesn't seem much like a brat. He said she's very well behaved and polite."
The pokemon snorted, sitting down and idly scratching behind an ear with a hind-paw. "I don't really trust James's opinion all that much... He thinks you're nice." Thoughtfully, the perisan paused, licking a paw. "Of course, love does strange things to one's mind..." Slyly, he glanced up at Jessie.
Jessie kicked at the pokemon, who nimbly leapt out of the way just in time. "Shut up! There's nothing between me and James!"
"Whatever you say Jess!" Persian replied. Glancing over his shoulder, he noticed James returning. "Hey, it's lover-boy!" This time, however, Jessie caught him right between the shoulder blade, causing the pokemon to fall to the floor with his legs sprawled out. "YOW!" He yelled.
"Baby." Jessie muttered, walking over to James. Beside him stood a young girl of about twelve, with long, wavy white hair and bright violet hair. /Unusual appearance... Is *that* why she was being kept in the lab?/ "Hi, I'm Jessie!" She introduced herself to the girl.
"My name's Michi." She replied politely, doing a slight curtsey.
Jessie looked over at Persian, with 'I told you so' written all over her face. "That's Persian." She gestured at the pokemon half-heartedly, as if saying that he wasn't really all that important.
"So, Jessie, I was thinking we could take her to our apartment just to let her see what it's like, then we'll go to lunch?" James suggested somewhat nervously. He'd never been all that great with kids, and now he was in charge of one? They had to guard her 24/7 and make sure that she was having fun, while at the same time safe? What had the boss been thinking?
"Sounds good." Jessie replied. "You did remember to clean the T.V. room right?" She looked at both James and Persian, who immediately winced and took a step back from Jessie. "You two are hopeless..." Looking over at Michi, she ignored the two males. "Come on, let's go."
"But Jessie!" James pleaded. "We'll clean up when we get there, I promise!" He looked at Persian. "We promise!"
Taking Michi's hand, Jessie simply ignored his pleads and started to walk off.
Giovanni sat in his leather chair behind his desk, a suspicious expression on his face. The leader of Team Rocket did not entirely trust the androgynous individual sitting on the other side of his desk, but it had promised him many things, not to mention more power, more than he already had.
"Look, I've been working on steal the types of pokemon you wanted me to, dragon, fire, and water, that meet your requirements, but it's not easy."
Red eyes wearily regarded the human before them, and the silver-haired being simply nodded. "You're doing a good job. Just keep your eyes on the girl."
"I am." Giovanni answered coolly, not liking the way the being acted superior to him. "We need her to help us get Kiajis. That little bastard tried to kill me, and he knows too much about us."
"You can't kill Kiajis, you'll upset the balance of the world. Just keep a close eye on the girl." It narrowed it's eyes, emphasizing it's point. "If you lose her, or the creature I gave you to keep your labs, I will kill you, and don't think I won't." It threatened him.
"I can watch over one simple little girl." Giovanni replied with a scornful laugh.
Getting up, the being looked down at Giovanni. "That's the thing, this is no ordinary girl. She is not even human." With a brilliant flash of blood red light, it disappeared.
Sighing for he had finally gotten rid of his strange visitor, Giovanni returned to what he'd been doing originally, partnering up new recruits. Team Rocket was in the prime of it's 'life'. They'd never had this many talented new recruits at one time before, and Giovanni was loving it. Only problem to him was the paperwork. Stroking his persian absently, he continued to work.
"Umm, nice apartment..." Michi remarked as they stepped into Jessie, James, and Persian's living quarters. "Lived here long?"
"No, we just moved in two weeks ago, we have a lot to fix up." Jessie replied, walking ahead of the others and straightening up a painting of a growlithe that hung on a wall. "But James never gets around to painting the walls like I keep telling him to." Glaring at James, she sighed. "James, weren't you going to clean up TV. with Persian like you promised to?"
Immediately, the two sprang into action, running to a little closet, and James got out a broom, while Persian set to work picking things off the floor.
/Well, it's obvious who runs this group.../ Michi thought to herself, sitting down on a couch as soon as the pokemon had finished replacing the cushions. /They seem nice enough, it shouldn't be too hard for me to convince them to betray their boss./ Smiling, she watched as Jessie lightly whacked James on the head and pointed out that the TV. was dusty. They were so much like siblings!
"Okay, all done!" James announced, dusting off his hands. "Can we go to lunch now?"
Disdainfully, Jessie regarded her partner. "Go change, you're all dusty."
He sighed, but immediately retreated to his room to change.
"Do you have any preferences in food, Michi?" She asked the girl, sitting down on the couch beside her.
"Not really. I'll eat just about anything." The young girl replied, quietly examining their apartment, where she would be spending a lot of her time for a while. It was quite a decrepit, run-down place, but it was pretty roomy, and Michi was positive that with a new coat of paint and some new furniture, it would look almost brand new. But she could deal with it as it was, she'd lived in worse before. "Who's the growlithe in the picture?" She asked Jessie curiously.
Jessies expression changed to one of pity. "That was James's childhood growlithe, Growlie... He died a few months ago, and James still hasn't quite gotten over it. He told me that the poor thing got sick, but his parents hadn't taken it to a pokemon center in time to save it." She sighed. "He doesn't have any pokemon right now. He gave his only two away to someone who'd take good care of them. I gave away all mine except my arbok, I'm too attached to that one. The boss said he'd get us some new pokemon soon, because we've moved up enough to deserve them."
"Oh." Again, Michi looked up at the picture, feeling a pang of sorrow for poor James.
"He's hoping this new job of ours will help take his mind off things like that though, so you'll help cheer him up, right?"
The girl looked at the red-haired woman, and noted the sincerity in her eyes. "Right." She replied.
James finally emerged from his room, having changed and cleaned up. "Ready to go?" He asked them all.
"Darn right we're ready!" The persian answered, avoiding cursing around the young girl. "You take too long to get changed James." The pokemon taunted.
"Don't get me started on you." James replied, looking sternly at Persian, who rolled his eyes. "So, what about we go to the 'Rapidash Plaza'? They have some good food there, and the service is quick.
Jessie thought over it for a moment before nodding. "Perfect choice. And it's near so we can walk. You don't mind walking, do you Michi?"
"Nope." The girl replied. "I need the exercise."
"Great! Let's go then, I'm starved!" Persian exclaimed slightly grumpily.
"That was a good meal. Thank you." Michi set her fork down on her plate and picked up her glass of water, sipping it delicately.
"You're welcome." Both Jessie and James replied at the same time.
"So what are we doing after this? We still have five hours before I have to be returned." Setting her glass down, Michi wiped her mouth with her napkin, then waited patiently for her answer.
"Well..." James glanced at Jessie, who shrugged. "We could rent some movies I guess..."
Persian immediately perked up. "How about we get 'Gone in 60 seconds'? It's about pokemon theft! These guys have to steal pokemon in a minute and-"
Jessie immediately cut the pokemon off. "Remember the rating?"
"Oh yeah..." Crestfallen, the pokemon's ears drooped, but then perked up again. "Can we get it anyway? I can watch it tonight when she's gone!"
"Fine." James replied. "Michi, any movies you want to see in particular?"
"Not really." Was her predictable reply. "Why don't we just go to the Video Rental place and look around?"
"Good idea." James nodded, and then paid the waiter who had just approached him with their bill.
They rented five movies, for even though they could not watch them all that day, they'd then have some for the next day as well. Along with the movies, they had also bought some soda and some bags of microwave popcorn. Returning to the apartment, they settled down in front of the TV, and watched two of the movies, 'Homeward Bound', a tale about three lost pokemon returning to their home after getting lost in the wild, and '101 Arcanines'.
After the second movie, Michi sighed. "It's 8:30pm, I'm guessing we should be heading back to the headquarters." She got up and switched off the T.V.
James glanced at Jessie, who had fallen asleep in her chair, and Persian, who was curled up on a cushion. "I'll take you back. We can take the subway."
"It's not problem, it's my job."
Quietly, the two of them snuck out of the apartment and walked to the train station, neither saying a word to each other. Finally, in the train, Michi broke the silence.
"James, why do you work for Team Rocket?" She asked, taking her first step in planting the seed of doubt in James's mind. Actually, she didn't have to plant it, just put it on fertile grounds, for she was positive that he already was a little unsure about his job.
"Well," The blue-haired man seemed at a loss for words, as if no one had ever asked him the question before. "I'm not sure... I guess I needed a change of scenery when I was younger, so I joined, and now I'm stuck with it. It's not a bad job."
"But..." Michi sighed, shifting in her seat. "Don't the killing and the stealing bother you?"
"Well, kind of, but it's my job. Finding another job would be hard for me." His uneasy tone of voice suggested that this was an uncomfortable subject for him, so Michi kept quiet, and did not speak to him again until they had returned to the lab.
"Thank you again for putting up with me." Michi thanked him, climbing back into her steel cage, which was now lined with blankets and pillows.
"No problem, it's my job." He reminded her again.
"Still..." she sat down on the cage floor, glad that she was no longer directly in contact with the cold steel. "Oh, tomorrow, you don't mind going shopping for clothes, do you?"
He shook his head.
"Good, I think I need some new things..." Leaning out of the cage door, she gave James a kiss on his cheek. "Good night James. See you tomorrow." She ducked her head back in, and James shut the door.
"Good night Michi." Silently, he left the lab, trying not to disturb any of the sleeping pokemon. Again, he was left with confused thoughts about his life, about where it was heading, and where it currently was. All the way back home, he had a puzzled frown on his face that only disappeared when he finally fell asleep, replaced with a peaceful smile as he remembered happy days, days when his dear Growlie had still been alive, and days when he had actually been content. There were few of those in his life, and he treasured each one very much.
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