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*Forever With You- A prologue to the Price Of Love*

*Forever With You*

*By: JLJ*

*Warning: None, other than EXTREME NEOSHIPPYNESS! Not for those with a weak stomach..^_~*

*Summary: A prelude to the "Price Of Love." Occuring two days before, it sets the stage for the subsequent events..*



Cassidy sighed with relief as she sat down on her sleeping bag , resting her tired feet. Next to her, her partner Butch sat stabbing the dying embers of their campfire with a metal poker, then he tossed more wood on the blaze. Within seconds, Cass felt a surge of warmth as the orange-red flames flared and flickered from the heat. It was a very soothing and relaxing sensation.

Finished, Butch brushed the dirt off his hands and stared off into the flames, silently reflecting on the day's events.

Cassidy looked over at him. It was obvious from the perplexed look on his face that he was still mulling over the orders Giovanni had given them.

They had been assigned to field work for the next two weeks, which consisted of capturing and training Pokemon for Team Rocket. It was extremely embarrassing when they heard the news, as this was an rookie job, but they had no choice in the matter. Despite the fact they'd been working there for almost three years, they had failed their previous mission, and the boss did not take kindly to failure.

It had been exactly a week today since they began and all had been successful. But that afternoon they recieved a phone call from Giovanni. The boss's words still rang in Cassidy's ears. "Return for reassignment immediately..." he had commanded. Numb from fear, she had tried to ask him why, but Giovanni only insisted they returned at questions asked. She had hung up the phone, bewildered and confused. They had already captured seven Pokemon for Team Rocket that week alone, hadn't that been good enough?

It had taken all of Cassidy's will power to keep from breaking down into tears as she told Butch the news. He turned as white as a sheet, his stare blank and empty. Reassignment only meant one thing in Team Rocket. They would be split up and recieve new partners. Giovanni obviously felt that they hadn't been doing a good enough job together and would be more beneficial to the Team with someone else.

The thought of a new partner was incomprehendable to Cassidy. She had been with Butch right from the beginning, and through thick and thin, they had always been there for each other. They were more than just partners, they were best friends. They could tell each other all of their deepest secrets and they would sit for hours on end and talk it out. Butch knew everything about her..except for one thing.

She turned and gazed at him again, her eyes growing teary. Butch looked depressed, his shoulders drooping in an mournful posture. Cassidy knew he was probably taking the news worse than her, but not by much. Butch had never really had anyone to be close to growing up. She was the first person he had ever really bonded with, the first person to really care about him. She needed him and he needed her.

Cassidy decided to try to cheer him up a little, so she scooted behind him on his sleeping bag and set her hands gently on his shoulders. She began massaging his neck and back tenderly, her nimble fingers slowly working out the knots. "Wow, you're tense, " she stated simply. "Try to relax, Butch. Everything will work out for the best in the'll see."

Butch couldn't help but smile. It was always like Cassidy to try to find the best in every bad situation. It was one of the things he loved most about her.

Even though Butch did not respond, Cassidy could feel him gradually loosening up, the tension leaving his muscles.

He arched his back and sighed contentedly. Butch felt a warm shiver run through his body, as her touch sent his emotions running a million miles per hour. He strongly resisted the urge to whirl around and give her a kiss and instead immensely enjoyed the back rub Cassidy was giving him.

His eyes droopy, Butch could feel himself slowly nodding off to sleep, calmed by the warmth of the fire and the closeness of Cassidy's presence.

Cassidy saw his eyes flutter, so she gently laid him back, his head cradled in her arms. Butch roused a little at this, asking her in a sleepy voice, "What are you doing, Cass? You need your rest too..we have a big day tomarrow.."

She only hushed him and stated, "Oh, I'll be up for a while yet. You just get some sleep, okay?" Butch was too tired to argue with her, but even if he hadn't been he still wouldn't have wanted to leave her loving embrace. Once they return to Headquarters, she might never hold him like this again.

Cassidy gazed up at the moon. It was so full and luminous tonight, shining over the tops of the trees. She began quietly humming a familiar tune, further lulling Butch asleep.

Within minutes his breathing grew slower and rhymatic, signaling Cassidy that he had indeed fallen fast asleep. For a while she only sat there staring at his sleeping form, trying to imprint very detail of this moment in her mind, for years to come if necessary.

She began to silently weep, being careful not to disturb her sleeping partner. 'Its just not fair!' she thought bitterly. 'Now he'll never know how I feel....' she held him closer to her, while lightly stroking his cheek with her fingertips. She knew she could not tell Butch she loved him would only make the separation harder for them.

All her childish fantasies came rushing back to her as she sat there, savoring this closeness with him. Fantasies of him sweeping her up in his arms and gazing deeply into his deep brown eyes, before giving him a long passionate kiss...but only fantasies and nothing more.

Choking back a sob, she softly whispered her love to him, even though he'd never hear it. "I would have spent forever with you Butch...."

She leaned over and tenderly kissed his forehead, tears stinging her eyes. Humming the soothing tune again, she pushed all their problems to the back of her mind. Team Rocket, the boss, reassignment..none of that existed tonight. Because tonight they were together and thats all that mattered.


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