- Disclaimer: I don't own them
- Rating: PG
- My version of what might have happened when Jessi and James met.

The Vow
by Frogwoman
Part One - Pokémon Tech

The eight-year-old boy ran down the path in fear, away from the little girl with the red hair and an Oddish in her arms who chased him. He ran past a mansion and screamed for his loyal pet Growly. A young Growlithe popped out of the doors and ran with him. He tried to get away from her, but he couldn't...

Later that evening, after his parents had captured him and ensconced him in his huge room, locking the door after him, he lay in bed curled up in a fetal position under the covers, wishing he was dead. Jamie. His parents called him Jamie. Why? Wasn't James easier to say? It sounded more grown-up too. He wanted to be called James. He closed his eyes and thought about why he wanted to die. No one here cared about him, his parents the least, except Growly. He was just a tool to be used to carry on the family line and inherit the huge manor he'd grown up in. They didn't care about how he felt.

They didn't let him do anything, ride a bike, play outside, anything but go with Jessibelle to 'learn to be a gentleman'. That was just a euphemism for torture in her little basement torture chamber.

He lay there and imagined himself, Jamie, running away with Growly, clothes tattered, in the snow, until he fell, too weak to continue. He imagined Growly licking his face and him telling Growly to go on without him. He imagined himself dying and Growly howling all night. He imagined it so vividly he convinced himself that Jamie had died, and now he was James, a totally different person. Jamie was dead, the little lavender-haired boy had died in the snow and now only James existed, who wasn't the son of Jamie's parents at all....

6 years later and many miles away...

I was a thirteen-year-old girl nervously swinging a chain over her head.

"Go on, Jess, do it!" Cassidy urged me, tugging on her bright orange bangs. I swallowed hard and looked up at the window. 'Sunnytown General Store' read the gold lettering on the window. It was probably a really expensive window, it was so big, with the gold lettering on it. I swung the chain and the window shattered all over us two girls in the dark. Cassidy jumped on her bike and ran. I tripped.

Officer Jenny caught me.

'Some gang.' I thought, 'Some great flipping bike gang.'

They hadn't even come to help me. They didn't come to see if I was going to juvenile hall for something they'd told me to do. They didn't care. No one did.

It was just a good thing the store keeper decided not to press charges. As it was, facing my parents was hard enough.

"I told you what your punishment would be if you got in trouble with that gang again!" my father warned.

My hair.

The punishment was my hair. They were going to cut it off. My long, beautiful red hair.

I loved my hair, I liked using a lot of hair spray and molding it into a long fiery red mass behind me. It just looked so...striking. But, they were going to cut it off short and send me to Pokémon Tech.

The next day...

It hurt when they cut it off. I swear it hurt like getting my hand chopped off, but I just stared stonily at the mirror and didn't cry out, didn't say a word. I wouldn't speak to them. I wouldn't give them the pleasure of hearing my voice. I hadn't said a word to them since they caught me at the window.

They cut it off straight, jaw-length. I hated it. I hated them. They didn't care about me, only about me becoming a Pokémon Master.

I only allowed myself to cry for ten seconds on the bus with all my things to Pokémon Tech that afternoon. Pokémon Tech was a strict, expensive boarding school with bad uniforms.

I stared out the window with tears in my eyes.

He'd grown his hair out long to annoy his parents. It reached the middle of his back. Now, in school, it wasn't helping. Even though the little lavender-haired boy named Jamie had died ages ago, the hair of this fourteen-year-old boy refused to grow out any color but lavender. He insisted on being called James anyway. Of course, that meant they called him Jamie.

Being small, having long lavender hair and a soft voice with a Southern accent wasn't a good thing for a boy in school.

Angel shoved James to the ground and called his friends to help. Angel had been bullied when he was in the beginning class too, about his name. Being bullied had made James soft-spoken and scared, it had made Angel a bully himself, now that he was older and stronger and in a higher grade.

"Hey, *Jamie*." he mocked, saying it like a girl's name, "Are you sure you're a boy, *Jamie*? You look like a girl, *Jamie*."

James buried his face in his arms and people gathered around crowing.

"Fight, fight, fight, fight..." they chanted.

This wasn't a fight. It was slaughter.

When I stepped off the bus the first thing I saw was a circle of kids all yelling and cheering. Good. A fight. I liked fights, as long as they were even. Espesially when I was in a mood like this. I pushed my way in so I could see and instantly put my hands on my hips in anger.

There were three pretty big guys on all on top of this slight guy with kind of long blue-purple hair. It was almost lavender. Definitely not a fair fight. And unfair fights just infuriated me.

"You look like a girl!" they shouted, hitting him as he struggled just to shield his face and didn't say anything.

'Poor guy.' I thought, 'Blessed with a hair color like that...'

The boy wasn't fighting back. There wasn't a point, really. There wasn't anything he could do alone. I decided not to let him be alone.

I dropped my bags in the dust, pushed up the sleeves of my prissy Pokémon Tech uniform and waded into the middle of the fight. I grabbed the tie of the boy doing most of the beating and mocking. I jerked him up, proud at how strong I was from swinging that chain.

"What are you doing?" I demanded, trying to make my voice really icy. The boy, who had green hair and black eyes smirked at me.

"Teaching *Jamie* a lesson..." he said, talking like the guy on the ground was a girl. The guy looked up at me, pulling an elastic out of the end of his hair. It fell all around his face. He dropped his face in the dirt like he couldn't hold out any longer.

"Why?" I asked coldly, "What did he do to you?"

"He looks like a girl!"

"So?" I asked, anger flaring up. Green-hair was stumped.

"Why don't you pack your sorry butt off to class and take your pathetic, cowardly goons with you?" I said, sounding just as tough as him and dropping him on his butt in the dirt for emphasis. I brushed my hands together as if to clean any traces of him off me.

"Huh." the boy made a short, barking laugh, "I ain't leaving *Jamie* here alone. No *girl* can stop me."

"Wanna bet? I had you good and tied up there. Get lost, loser!"

He got up and left with his two friends, grumbling, and the crowd dispersed, leaving me, the lavender-haired boy and my bags. I knelt beside the boy, who still had his face in the dust.

"You okay?" I asked him, grabbing a handful of his hair and moving it out of his face. It was fine, but there was tons of it.

"I'm bleeding." he whined in a Southern accent. I rolled my eyes. Great, a whiner.

"Get up." I said, pushing on his shoulder, "Your name's Jamie?"

"No!" he said, sitting up, body stiffening in anger. He clamped his hand under his nose and blood dripped through his long, thin fingers, "My name's James. I *cannot* stand being called Jamie."

I dragged a clean handkerchief from my pocket and handed it to him.

"Really? You're not a pansy, are you?" I asked in my blunt way. He was kind of a pretty boy, and at first glance he did look like a girl.

"Not at all. They call me a pansy sometimes, but I'm definitely not. I think it's the hair, you know? It's not like I can *help* my hair color, is it? Maybe if I'd *dyed* it this color they could say something..."

I laughed, "You *could* cut it, y'know. Anyway, quit bleeding and show me where to get my room here." I stood and offered him a hand up, which he accepted. He ran the cloth under his nose one last time and smiled crookedly. He'd stopped bleeding.

"I guess you don't want this back, do you?"

"Not really. My name's Jessi, James. Nice to meet you."

"You too. Thanks."

"No prob. I had aggression to get out."

James bent to pick the elastic up out of the dirt, shook it as if to get the dust off, and then started to run his hand through his hair to get it into a ponytail. He had blood on his hand, so he just pulled the elastic over his other wrist and left his hair down. He probably wasn't looking his best right then, but he still wasn't bad-looking, once you got past the long hair. He had these really big, really green eyes that showed exactly what he was feeling at every moment. Expressive, I figured the word for that was.

We walked to a boys' washroom and I waited while he cleaned up a bit. He came out with his hair very loosely held in a ponytail at the nape of his neck. It was so long. Middle of the back, at the very least. Lots of it was still in his face, including a chin-length strand hanging in his face, right between his green eyes. His hands and face were clean and he had his tie a little loose.

"Okay. We'll go to the office and get your room number." he said, picking up one of my bags and walking ahead of me. I picked up the other and hitched my purse up to follow him, swiping my eyes up and down him, trying to figure him out.

He held the door for me when we got to the office. A gentleman. That was rare.

"Hello, my name's Jessi...I just got here..." I said, putting my bag down on the floor.

"Yes, your parents called. Here's your locker number and room number. Classes for the year start tomorrow. I see you've met James. This is his second year here. He failed the beginning class last year and he's back again this year." the secretary said. James stared at the floor and I saw redness come up into his cheeks. Why did everyone pick on this kid?

I patted his shoulder by way of comfort, "I can't do schoolwork either, James." I consoled. He smiled vaguely at me and stared into space.

I looked at the paper.

"James can show you where your locker and room are, can't you James?" the secretary asked. James continued to stare into space, kind of dreamy. I looked up at him. Yes, up. He was just a little taller than me, but not much.

"James?" the secretary said more urgently. James looked up.

"Huh?" he asked.

"Show Jessi where the locker and room on that sheet are, James." the secretary said, like she was explaining something to an imbecilic child. James blushed again, and picked up my bag.

I followed him to a bank of lockers near the back of the school building.

"Um...your locker's right beside mine." he said quietly, opening the door for me. I loaded my school binders and stuff into the locker and talked to James.

"So, you're fourteen?" I asked. He nodded shyly.

"Yeah. I failed. I don't really...want...to go home..." he mumbled.

"You failed on pourpose?"

"Yeah. I could've done well...I just..."

"Didn't want to go home. I can sympathize." I cut him off.


"Yep. I don't want to go home either. Wanna fail with me this year?"

"Sure," he said, making a little smile, then he touched a forming bruise on his face, "although I must admit, staying here isn't that great an option either, at least for me..."

"Well, I can help you with that. Where's my room?"

He walked me to the girls' dorms and I got myself worked well into the room.

"So, how can you help me with those bullies?" James asked quietly, like he didn't want to ask.

"First thing, I can cut your hair. I can also help you get rid of that accent. I can then help toughen you up a bit. Do you want my help?"

"I-I guess."

"Okay. When I get to know you better, I'll start. For now, I've got stuff to do, if you don't mind..."

"S-Sure...I'll leave..." he said shyly, starting to walk towards the door. I knew I'd been pretty rude, but I was on the verge of tears and wasn't about to cry in front of a guy.

Two days later I waltzed into Socials class first class of the day, having skipped the first school day of the year. The teacher looked me up and down.

"Hi, my name is Jessica. I'm new here." I told the teacher.

"Jessica? Well...take a seat. Where were you yesterday?"

"I was sick. Got a problem?" I said, walking directly over and sitting beside James. He was looking at me in an amused manner.

"No." the teacher said, "But I do have a problem with your attitude, young lady."

"Everyone does. That's why I'm here." I remarked off-handedly, "So, have you started without me?"

"No. I'll start the lesson now."

I ended up getting detention. But, hey, so what? I had nothing better to do. Before next class I hooked up with James at our lockers.

"So, James, since we're flunking out together, we may as well skip. Wanna go out for coffee?"

"I-I guess...but I don't drink coffee..." he started whining, just as I put my hand over his mouth.

"Quiet, James! Don't whine. I won't listen to you if you whine. That's it. Your toughening up starts right now, and it starts with coffee!"


"Have you ever had a good cup of black coffee?"


"Then coffee will toughen you up!"

We walked to the coffee shop together in our Pokémon Tech uniforms and sat down in a booth. The waitress walked up.

"Tech students, eh? You skipping?"

"Yep. Two cups of black coffee please, and one piece of Black Forest Cake. You want anything, James? Besides the coffee."

"Yes. I'll get one strawberry-jelly-filled donut please!" James blurted.

"Coming up!" the waitress said, walking away towards the kitchen.

"So what do the Tech students do for fun." I asked. James moaned.

"Nothing but study, study, study, do simulated Pokémon battles, and then study some more!"

"Really? That's just....stupid!"


The waitress came up with our food and I smiled devilishly at James.

"Eat the donut. That'll get your mouth in sweet mode, and the coffee will do a better toughening job."

"O-Okay." James stuttered, picking up the donut with both hands and nibbling at it with his right pinky in the air. He was cute that way, besides the hair. I had to get rid of the hair. And maybe the pinky thing. No. Too cute.

He finished the donut before I'd even eaten half the piece of cake I'd ordered. I swallowed and stared at his face.

"Okay. Take a sip of the coffee. I warn you, just a sip." I told him. James sniffed at the coffee, and smiled.

"This can't be too hard. It smells wonderful."

I smirked at him, "Just take a sip." He sipped, and his eyes got huge.

"Yuck. That stuff is awful! How can you drink that?" he exclaimed, setting the cup down on the table.

"Finish it."

James made a face and started to whine.

"James, don't whine to me, especially with that accent!" I scolded.

"But, Jessi..."

"Just drink."

He drank, and by the time he was done his eyes were watering. He set the cup down, and I scooped up a forkful of Black Forest Cake.

"I am kind." I said, holding it out to him. He bit it and smiled at me.

"So, how did I do?"

"Not too bad, actually. Tomorrow - black espresso!"

James groaned.

We spent the next week at the coffee shop, and I forced James to drink black coffee till one day he admitted that he was starting to like it. Then that one was done. I tried to think of something else to do.

Meanwhile, I was pretty much failing all the classes I had. Math was 30%, Sewing 45%, English was 50% and Socials was only 20%, since my teacher didn't like me. They didn't even call my parents. Socially, no one messed with me. I was cool and not cool at the same time. I managed to make the Pokémon Tech uniform look good, and my hair now reached the middle of my back. I liked to wear it back in a clip, it was comfortable. Everyone knew I looked good, and yet the only person I hung around with much was James. James, with the whine, which was slowly going away a bit, and the long lavender hair.

I had made my decision about the hair, I knew James well enough to figure out the perfect hairstyle for him. I would just cut it off straight, jaw-length with slight layers. I told him about it at our lockers.

"You're coming to my dorm room this class. I'll give you a haircut." I informed him.

"What? Can you do that?"

"Yep. I have scissors, and my big sis has been teaching me to cut hair since I was four or so. She has a license, too, and I learn well."

"Well, I guess I'll trust you around my hair then." he said suspiciously, "Just don't make it *too* short."

I grinned, "Oh, don't worry, James..."

I tossed a towel at him and pointed to the bathroom, "There, go wash your hair." I said, digging in the drawer of my little dresser. I shared the room with a really nice girl named Alli. She was a total sweetheart with brown-blond hair and blue eyes who was exactly the same age as me. She loved to write, and always had her laptop out to type as fast as lightning.

Of course, she wasn't there though. Alli really wanted to be a Pokémon master, so she was in class. All the better for me. I wouldn't have someone looking over my shoulder, which only made me nervous. And when I got nervous, I couldn't do a good job on James's hair and if I didn't do a good job on James's hair then...well...my reputation as a hairdresser would be ruined.

That wouldn't be any good.

James stepped out with his semi-dry hair hanging all around his face. I pointed to the chair I'd pulled up in front of Alli's vanity and he sat. I wrapped my hair-catcher around his shoulders and started combing his hair to get rid of the knots.

"Ow." he whined in his Southern Accent again, as I pulled on a knot, and I reminded myself mentally to start getting rid of that accent.

"James, what did I say about whining and that *accent*?" I said, as I ran my comb down the section of his hair right beside his face and staring in his eyes.

"You won't listen to me if I whine." he recited.

"Yep. It now goes for the accent too. Try and get rid of that."

"Okay, Jessi." he said meekly.

I pulled out my scissors and, grinning, lopped off the bit of hair I'd been combing at chin length. He winced, like it hurt.

I could sympathize.

Me and James had way too much in common.

I continued to cut away at his hair, and after about a half hour his hair was all cut perfectly.

"What do you think?" I asked. He stared blankly at the mirror, and I watched his eyes go from bright green to a dull grey-green. Two spots of red came up in his cheeks.

"Jessi...it's the same haircut I had when I was eight." he said.

"Oh...not a good memory?"

"Not really." he moaned.

"Sorry, I didn't know. Do you want me to make it different?"

The spots had gone away, but his eyes were still dull, "No. Just leave it. I suppose the cut suits me..."

"Alright. If you're sure...?"

"I'm sure."

The time passed quickly till Christmas break, when parents would come to take their kids home for a while.

I was standing by the phone impatiently while James talked. He always looked so vulnerable while he talked to his parents, like they could destroy him any second or something.

"Yes, mother...that's good...I'm glad...I can't wait to see you..." he said the last sentence in a very unsure voice, then hung the phone up without saying 'I love you' once.

"Are they coming?" I asked. James nodded.

"I hope they do this time. Last year they sent me a two-hundred-dollar cheque and never bothered. They'd said they would come and see me but I really wonder sometimes if they care about me at all..."

"I know how you feel. My parents haven't even called me yet."

"Really? My parents have to look after their little heir...actually, I don't even want to talk about it."

"Wanna go out for coffee then, James?"

He smiled down at me, "As long as its black."

Christmas came and with it my birthday. I hate being born on December 26th, but it's my lot in life to be gypped on birthday presents. And I was still younger than James, now that he was fifteen.

The first day of break we stood dutifully with all the other kids waiting for their parents. I looked over at James, who had really changed a lot in the half-year since I'd first come to Pokémon Tech. He was a little taller, and looked a lot more masculine. He'd gotten a bit tougher and his accent was almost gone, leaving his soft voice to be suave and just a little stuck-up sounding. The only thing I had to work on now was his self-esteem, which had been busted almost beyond repair by his parents and school. Sure, he said things that were conceited and stuck-up, but I could see right through him and hear in his voice and see in his eyes that he didn't mean them.

Everyone's parents came but mine and his. He waited until the very last second but they never showed up. I stared at his face, watching his eyes go bright with unshed tears, his face go a little white. He wasn't doing well.

"Well, I suppose if they're not coming, then I'll just go to the library and study for the exam..." he said, and drifted off towards the library. I looked after him, willing his parents to come, but no such luck. I needed to cheer him up. Suddenly I remembered my Christmas present for him. I dug in my skirt pocket and pulled out the Poké ball I had stored there. I'd carefully picked it out for him at the Pokémon Adoption Agency and done a little training and cleaning on it so it would be perfect for him. A Koffing. I knew he'd love it. It was just like him, happy.

Almost all the time.

I ran after him and found him in the back of the library, sitting with his back to a wall of books, head buried in his arms.

"James..." I said softly, sitting beside him and putting a hand on his shoulder, "...are you okay?"

"No." he said in a firm tone of voice.

"Are you crying?" I asked. Sometimes my bluntness is good, sometimes it's bad.

As soon as that popped out of my mouth I thought it was gonna be bad...but, surprisingly enough, he lifted his head to look at me, with tears streaming down his face.

"Yes...I, Jessi...they don't care about me...nobody cares about me! No one!" he whimpered. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, not sure how to go about comforting him. I'm not exactly the comforting type. I never have been.

But it seemed to be okay. He just cried a little and then felt better.

I made another choice, but this one was a little more important than about the fate of his hair.

"James, I care about you, okay? Who needs parents anyway? Not me, not you. You don't need your parents to care about you, right? I care about you. I'll care about you...always, okay? Let's make a promise...a vow, to each other that we'll always care about each other, no matter what, no matter where we are. Okay?" I said, my own eyes filling up with tears. He nodded numbly.

"It's a deal, Jessi." he whispered. I took his hand and shook it, and his grip was strong and sure, "It's a deal...I'll always care about you."

"Okay. And I have something to give you to seal it." I said, slipping the Poké ball out of my pocket. I handed it to him, "Your very first Pokémon."

"Thanks, Jess." he said softly, "What is it?"

"Call it up."

He threw the Poké ball about a half-foot away, "Come out." he said.

The Koffing appeared, and a smile actually broke on his tearstained face, "A Koffing! Cool! It's my favorite Pokémon!"

Then he turned to me, "Okay, I know you always get bothered by being gypped on your birthday, so I got you a birthday present."

"Thank you, James." I said.

"And a Christmas present too. Seperately."

"Really?" I said, and I knew I sounded more touched than I meant to sound. No one had ever really cared enough to get me both. Not even my parents.

He handed me a Poké ball. I threw it and out popped my favorite Pokémon of all time. Ekans. I actually squealed with joy, which is *not* a very Jessi-like thing to do. James laughed at me.

"And..." he said, taking the box, "...this will do very nicely to seal that vow." he whispered, opening it and taking my hand. He slid an adorable silver bracelet onto my wrist, with an engraved plate on it. There were roses engraved on it, and it read:

'To Jessi, my savior. Love James.'

"Oh...I love it, James." I whispered.

"Roses are us." he said quietly, "Roses are you and me, Jessi and James. Whenever you see a rose, think of me."

"I will."

The night before finals.

Most kids were freaking out over books until twelve o'clock.

Me and James, however, had gone out for coffee.

"So, Jess, d'you think you're gonna pass?"

"I probably could if I wanted to..."

"Me too."

He lay a rose on the table in front of him. Since we'd made the vow to each other, which was still totally serious, he wasn't seen very often without the rose. Every time I saw it I thought of our vow. I still do, I guess, every time I see him with his rose. It's kind of sweet. But then, James was always a kind of sweet guy.

We spent almost the entire night in the coffee shop talking and laughing and stuff. We got home so late everyone was asleep, even the studiers. James walked me back to my dorm room and I quietly opened the door, trying not to wake Alli.

It didn't quite work.

"Jessi..." she mumbled, as I slipped into my pyjamas, "Is that you?"


"Why did you come home so late? Finals are tomorrow. You need sleep..."

"Well, I was at the coffee shop with James."

"Oh. You were with your boyfriend. Okay."

"He's not my boyfriend!"

"Sure, sure." she mumbled, "You two are cute together....goodnight."

She rolled over, but her little 'coupledom' spiel kept me awake for a good long time. Me and James were cute together?


Then again....

Maybe we were.

I was dead tired at the exam the next morning, but James seemed chipper as ever. He'd knocked on my door that morning psyched. He told me he was actually going to try to pass, just to prove he wasn't stupid. I asked him if he'd had coffee. Yep, he'd said. He'd had coffee.

I didn't get a chance to drink any coffee, so when the teacher came around to collect the tests, I'd only done half of the 100 questions and slept the rest of the time.

I was going to fail.

Our marks were announced the next day, but they didn't say mine and James's out loud. We got called to the principle's office.

"Jessi, James..." he said solemnly, after standing us in front of his desk, "I'm sorry to inform you that you both failed."

James looked beyond devastated. I caught his eye and ran my finger tenderly along the bracelet so he could see. He looked comforted, just a little.

"How much did I fail by?" I asked nonchalantly.

"You only got 20%, Jessi. James, you almost passed, with a 49.9%."

"Could you round it?" he asked desperately, "My parents are gonna kill me!" he mourned.

"No, I'm afraid we can't round up. If you would have gotten question 3 right..."

"James..." I moaned, "...that one was so easy! Which Pokémon looks like a dinosaur in its unevolved form and has a flame on its tail?"

James stared at the floor, and I sensed that I had not helped.


"I'm sorry to inform you that since you got such a low mark, Jessi, and you've failed a second time, James, that we'll have to expel both of you. I didn't really expect either of you to pass...."

"Excuse me?" James asked, bright red across the cheeks in anger.

"...since neither of you logged in more than a week of steady attendance this whole year!"

James stared at the floor again.

We were dropped ouside the school with our suitcases, waiting for the bus to take us home.

"I was expecting this, but I didn't expect to feel so awful." James mumbled.

"I know what you mean, James..." I replied sadly.

"I don't want to go home..." we both said at the same time. We had gotten to know each other so well that we could finish each other's sentences and almost read each other's minds by now.

"Well, at least we still have each other." James said, fishing a rose out and stroking the bright red petals. Bright red like my hair, which was now grown out to appropriate length.

"Yeah." I said, investigating the green leaves. Green like James's eyes.

"What do we do, Jess? Just go our seperate ways, home again and forget each other....?"

"No. We have the vow to keep."

He looked up into my eyes, and I looked back.

"Run away?" he asked.

"Yep, run away."

"To where?"

"I know where. The Sunnytown Bridge Bike Gang...."

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