Categories > Anime/Manga > Pokemon > The Spirit of Alola

14. A New Puzzle

by CJWorthington 0 reviews

Chapter 14 of The Spirit of Alola

Category: Pokemon - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2021-03-30 - Updated: 2021-10-29 - 3670 words - Complete

"Oh, it looks so cute!" Sashi says with a barely contained giggle, referring to the pretend dress she picked up in the shops that morning. I can still hear the exhaustion in her voice, but she laughs along with everyone anyways, feigning energy for our guests.

Kukui's voice, next to me, was confused, not yet realizing the joke that I had started. I suppress a snicker as Burnet continues with the prank.

"Oh! Yes! Sashi, tell us about the make-up you picked out too!" Burnet says. "Wait until you see this Kabir! It's the cutest!"

I can't contain my chuckle at her heavy exaggeration on the word "see." Finally, Burnet and I both lose it, and we begin to laugh loudly, Kukui joining in, now realizing he'd been the butt of the joke.

"Woah now," Anya says with carefully controlled surprise. I hear Kukui's laugh fall away and quiet my own as the rest of the room goes silent.

"Sashi, are you okay?" Kukui says beside me. I listen carefully, trying to pick up on any odd sounds, but the room has gone too quiet for even me.

"What's going on?" I ask, worry mounting in the pit of my stomach as I hear people shuffling and calling to my wife.

"It seems that Sashi has passed out," Kukui says beside me, putting a cautionary hand on my knee, telling me silently not to get up. "She isn't responding to anything Anya does," the man says. I hear more movement from the side of the table that the girls are sitting on.

"Why has Aunty Shi gone to sleep?" Himiko asks, squirming anxiously in my lap.

"Shh, it's alright, little one," I hush her, smoothing down her soft hair in an attempt at comfort. "I don't know what's wrong, but your mommy will find out."

I face the direction of my sister-in-law and listen carefully, trying hard to push down my swiftly rising anxiety. "Has she been poisoned again? Did anyone see anything?"

"I'm not sure. She's been sitting in front of me the whole time, and I saw nothing odd." Kukui responds calmly. "The girls have set Sashi on the floor. Anya is examining her right now."

"She's not breathing," Anya comments, the slightest note of worry in her own voice at her suddenly stricken twin. "I don't know why. It's almost like she's holding her breath. Sashi!" her voice is loud and commanding as she calls her sister's name. "Sashi, wake up."

Silence stretches out between us. I feel Himiko turn around in my lap and press her face into my stomach, small warm spots of water soaking into my shirt as she quietly fights back tears of fright. She's a strong-willed little girl, but even she wouldn't be ready to handle a situation as serious as this.

I want to go to my wife's side, but I know I won't be any help. My mind whizzes with possible outcomes, but I try to put my trust in Anya. She knows what she's doing. Instead, I reach my hand around the small figure in my lap and pull her close, trying hard to comfort the scared child. I can hear more movement in front of me as my sister-in-law continues working on my wife.

"Sashi," Anya calls again. "Alright, move. We need to get her to the hospi -" but she can't finish her command.

Suddenly, I hear a gasp of breath, loud and pained, coming from Sashi. She wheezes on the floor near the windows, spluttering and coughing, like she was just pulled from the water, the gulps of air she manages between them sounding difficult and strained.

"Sashi, come on, wake up," Anya says again, her voice carefully controlled.

Then, there's a collective sigh from the watching group. "She's coming to," Kukui explains beside me.

"You're alright," Anya says, speaking to my wife in a calming voice. "You're safe. Grab my arm. Yes, just like that, very good. Let's get you sitting up. Easy now, take it slow. There's no reason to rush. There you go. Very good. Are you in any pain?"

"What happened?" Sashi's voice is scared and breathless. She sounds like she just ran a lap around the island at a sprint.

"You passed out on us in the middle of a conversation." Her twin explains. "Now, I'm going to shine this light in your eyes, it's going to be bright, but I need you to pick a point behind me and focus on that. Yes, good. You stopped breathing at one point," Anya answers her queries in the midst of asking questions and giving directions, all the while remaining eerily calm in the midst of the situation.

She continues her examination, gently talking to my wife and explaining what happened from our point of view. As the minutes seem to drag on, Sashi's breathing slowly returns to a normal rate, though the exhaustion in her voice is worrisome. It almost sounds as if she's struggling to form words in her mind and her speech, at certain moments, sounds slurred and incoherent.

"Right," Anya, in a finalizing tone, says after some time, the tiniest flake of relief in her voice. "Everything seems to be in working order. Can you tell us what you remember?"

Sashi recounts her experience: Joining in on the joke, blinking and finding herself in the ocean, a voice calling for help, being dragged underwater, then drowning in the churning sea. Yet, even as she speaks, it seems her recollection of many of the details has already begun to fade.

My mind flickers with memory as she describes the events. I recall my own experience from a few days ago, though oddly enough, the memory feels distant and foggy.

"I had a similar thing happen to me," I say in surprise at how alike they are to each other.

"How do you mean?" Kukui asks.

"A few days ago, the very morning that Sashi was brought sick to your place, I was dreaming about drowning in salty water. And something was pulling me under. And – and a voice calling out then, too." I struggle to recall.

"Can you describe this voice?" Burnet queries, sounding uncharacteristically serious for the ordinarily easy-going woman.

I think hard, trying to recall the entirety of the dream. "No," I say, shaking my head. "No, I can't. I can't even tell if it was human or Pokémon. Nor can I remember what it was saying. Not even the tone that it spoke in. The memory is sort of," I think of the right way to describe it, growing frustrated by my inability to recall the darned thing, "Um, fuzzy, I guess." I finally finish.

"Sashi? How about you. Could you identify anything specific about the voice?" Burnet asks, moving on to my wife.

There's a long pause as my spouse works on recalling the event. "No. Nothing. It's like I'm trying to pull it through a fog." She answers. I can hear her own irritation at the lack of memory recall. Both of us are usually rather good at remembering, but this mystery has us both questioning that now.

We sit in silence for a long moment as each one of us chews on the new puzzle presented to us. It seems as if no one can think of any solution to the odd quandary, though.

"Let's all get some rest tonight, and we can talk about it more later," Anya says, her voice over the silence, sounding distant and tired, the control gone now that she wasn't treating a patient.

"If we don't try to figure this out now, we might not be able to later. What if we forget any more important details?" I ask, defying the voice of my sister-in-law. I don't mean to sound angry, but I'm worried this could happen to Sashi again. I want to figure it out before something more serious occurs.

"No, Anya's right. We should get some rest," Kukui says carefully beside me, placing a hand on my shoulder to stop my rising temper. "Sashi seems pretty beat after this ordeal." He says knowingly. I take a deep breath and push it out through my nose.

"It's decided then." Anya says quickly, "let's everyone get to bed." It was a command this time. She wasn't going to allow anyone to put up a fight now.

We bade goodnight to the neighbors as they leave swiftly and ready ourselves for bed. Sashi is the first one to drop off, with Himiko following shortly after.

I sit on the couch, Tinsel laying across my lap, sleeping, thinking hard about what happened today and how it relates to my own dream. It had been a few hours since the incident, but I couldn't bring myself to sleep on the terrifying events. The Pokémon that live for the late-night hours murmur softly outside around the home, seeming to sing to each other and the stars.

Someone makes their way quietly down the steps, but I can't pick out who the noise belongs to. Certainly not a Pokémon, and too large to be a toddler, so I know it must be either my wife or her twin. Being so close in stature, it was difficult for me to tell them apart by footsteps alone, the way I can for most others.

"You aren't going to do any good sitting around brooding like this," Anya says beside me. "You need to sleep as well." She sounds more annoyed than usual.

"I'm not brooding. I'm thinking." I reply, my own irritation slipping out in my exhausted state.

"Looks the same from where I stand." She says flatly.

"Then maybe you should get your eyes checked." I shoot back.

"Pfft. Alright, fine. Stay awake and think while you're tired, rather than sleep now and think with a fresh mind in the morning. I'm not your mother." I hear her spin on her heels and flounce off.

"Then stop acting like you are." I retort, but her footsteps have already reached the stairs and are carrying her up them swiftly. I pull in a deep breath and let it out through my nose, long and slow, trying to allow my emotions to slip out with the push of air.

I'll need to apologize to Anya in the morning, I realize, already feeling shame begin to burn in me at my own outburst.

Several more hours pass before I make my own way up to bed. Anya had been correct; my thoughts were scrambled and confusing. I couldn't hold two pieces together long enough to form a probable answer. And, the longer I sat, the less they stuck in place.

I climb into bed, still not able to turn off my churning mind. I can hear Sashi next to me, deep, slow breaths signifying her slumber. Hop stretches comfortably, lying, as usual, pressed closely against Sashi's side. The Delcatty bats my hand gently, pleading for a pat on the head. I oblige with a smile as the cat Pokémon lets out a small contented sigh after I finish dolling out the requested attention.

Then I reach across the bed and stroke my hand through Sashi's hair, pausing as my fingertips brush over her forehead. It feels hot to the touch. Her hair is dry, though, so her fever must have only just started.

Worried, I pull myself out of bed and hurry down the hall to the guest room Anya and Himiko are staying in. Opening the door carefully, I step inside the room and locate the bed with Tinsel's help.

"Anya," I whisper. No response. I grab her shoulder gently, hoping to wake her with touch, unaware of where Himiko sleeps and not wanting to disturb the toddler as well. Instead, there's an annoyed sigh from my sister-in-law, clearly indicating that she had been feigning her slumber.

"Kabir," She whispers in aggravation, her voice more awake than I had expected. "I'm all for a good study buddy myself, but this is getting ridiculous. Leave me alone and go to sleep before you make yourself sick, you Hopip-minded fool. The last thing I need is a houseful of ill patients to care for." She hisses at me, her voice, even in this quiet state, still carrying its usual sting.

"No, it's not that. Sashi is sick." I say, ignoring the bite.

I hear her bedsheets rustle, and the next time she speaks, her voice is closer to my face; she must have sat up. "Sick how?" she asks, sounding more alert to the situation.

"She has a fever."

"What else?" She pushes, waiting for a continued diagnosis from me.

"Nothing else just yet, but you need to look at her before she gets worse."

She sighs irritably and flops back onto her pillow, her sheets rustling back into place. "I'm not getting out of bed and waking Sashi up for a little fever. She needs sleep, not me prodding and poking at her again." She sighs once more, then continues. "Kabir, you're a Pokémon professor, so you deal with this situation often enough. What would you do if this were one of those creatures you guys are always going on about?"

"She's not a Pokémon. She's your sister and my wife." I say indignantly, my voice rising in pitch, shocked by her swift dismissal.

"Quiet down. You'll wake Himiko." I hear the child stir restlessly next to her mother.

"This is serious, Anya."

"I'm serious too. This little girl isn't near as fun to deal with when she's running on low sleep. I'm not so great either." She adds in frustration, gathering her thoughts once more. Then she speaks to me in an infuriatingly kind and careful tone, acting as if trying to help a small child understand a difficult question. "Now again, if she were one of those precious Pokémon, and it was running a fever, what would you do?"

"I'd cover it in blankets to help keep it warm," I answer with a sigh of annoyance, my own voice flat.

"Aaand?" she says in a long tone, keeping the act up as she pushes me.

"Ice for her fever." I spit.

"Oh my, but you're missing the most important thing."

"Fever medicine," I say, realizing, finally, where she's taking this conversation.

Dropping her voice back to an angry whisper, the infuriating woman continues, "Now, would you have been able to figure this out at all if I weren't here to hold your hand? Honestly, do you even know how to care for the Pokémon you claim to know so much about?" I hear her blankets rustle as she burrows herself deeper in, muffling her voice as she grumbles a few curses and crude remarks at me.

I don't reward her with a response. Instead, I leave and quietly close the door behind me. I'm furious, but not at my sister-in-law. I'm mad at myself. Angry that I allowed this overreaction. Reducing fevers is one of the first things I learned as a Trainer when Sashi and I traveled as children, far before I even began my studies as a Professor.

How could I allow myself to forget that and at such a critical time?

Tinsel guides me down the stairs, her ribbon drooping sleepily on my arm. She helps me find the blankets in the box near the couch, which I place quietly by my bedroom door. Then she leads me into the kitchen, and we locate the fever medicine, the name clearly mapped out in Braille on a sticker made by Sashi.

I wrap some ice into a towel and find a glass to fill with water, but Tinsel's ribbon drops suddenly away from my arm. I crouch down and lift her chin, giving her head a comforting pat.

"Take this up to Sashi and put it on her forehead for me, then you can go to sleep yourself," I say, straightening back up and putting the towel-wrapped ice to her mouth. "Hurry up now, Tinsel; I'll be up in just a minute." I listen as she drags her paws too and then up the stairs.

Locating the tap with my fingers, I fill the glass with water and quietly make my way to the stairs as well, pressed against the wall as a guide as I move. I pull myself up the first two steps without a concern, but the third causes an issue.

I feel a soft piece of fabric under me that causes my foot to slide, and I begin crashing to the ground. I hear the glass shatter on the floor next to me, water splattering against my left side. I catch myself painfully on the stairs with my left elbow and right forearm, forcing my fall to a sudden halt. Still stunned, I reach for the item that tripped me and find that it's the blanket I had grabbed earlier.

I thought I put this by the door. I question myself in surprise. I don't get much time to ponder my mystery, though, as I hear footsteps come rushing down the hallway above me.

"Kabir?" Anya's voice calls in a worried hush to me, followed by the click of the hallway light switch. I hear her begin to descend the stairs, but I stop her with a loud whisper, still worried to wake the others sleeping within the house.

"Wait, there's broken glass," I warn, feeling around with my own fingers as I remove myself from the soaked steps.

She pauses but doesn't say anything else as she waits for me to move to a sitting position on the floor. I hear her carefully pick her way down the steps, kicking the blankets to the ground below. She guides me to my feet, careful to avoid any shards, then sets me on the couch. I feel her fingers poking my arms, looking for signs of serious injury.

"You'll have a nasty bruise and will be sore for a bit, but nothing permanent. Did you get hit by any of the glass?" She questions, patting my sides and looking for any signs of blood.

"No," I answer with certainty.

I hear her walk over to the stairs again, then the clinking of glass shards as she begins to clean up. There's a sudden sharp hiss of pain, and a quiet curse slips from Anya's lips.

"Are you alright?" I ask, getting to my feet and making to step towards her.

"I'm fine. It's just a small cut." She responds curtly. "I've got the glass cleaned up. Go on upstairs and get to bed. I'll finish up down here, then tend to Sashi."

Her feet head to the kitchen, and I hear glass being discarded into the trash bin. A small silence proceeds as she presumably cleans her wound. Then there's a clinking of cups as she pulls a new one from the cupboard. Finally, the tap turns on, and this new glass is filled with water.

I hear an annoyed sigh near the doorway of the kitchen. "Why are you still down here? Where my instructions too difficult for you to comprehend?" She asks in a huff of irritation.

Blankets shuffle near the stairway as she picks up the ones she kicked to the floor. Then, cursing in exclamation, she says, "These are wet."

Now her steps lead her to a closet. Opening the door, Anya discards the wet fabric, plopping it into the dirty hamper inside. She walks over to the box by me now and pulls out a fresh blanket from the stack within.

I continue to stand by the couch, listening to her move about the home. Her feet were carrying her back and forth swiftly as she works. Though her speech still holds the usual sting, she's acting far more harshly, without reason, than is typical for even her. I can just barely hear another emotion hidden under her stronger attempts of constant annoyance; sadness.

"Anya," I try but am met with silence.

A couple of blankets, a glass of water, and two fever pills are shoved roughly into my hands. "If you're going to stay awake, you might as well make yourself useful and go tend to your wife." My sister-in-law growls. She makes her way towards the front door, and I feel the cool air of outside rush in through the house's interior.

"Anya, wait. Please, talk to me." I call quietly, but the rush of wind comes to an abrupt stop as she closes the door behind her. Freeing my hands of the items she gave me, I stumble over to the wall, using it to guide me towards where she vanished.

Opening the drawer nearby, I locate my cane with ease, grateful for my wife's clever choice to not change the placement of the stand, always by the front door. Snapping the cane open, I slip out the door and step carefully across the yard to the driveway.

I don't hear her anymore. No receding footsteps. No responses when I call out her name. Nothing. She has made herself vanish to my sightless eyes, even with my sensitive hearing. She wants to be left alone, and she found the perfect person to disappear from.

Sighing, I tap my cane along the ground and find my way back to the front door. I'm too tired to want to learn how to navigate my new home right now, so I keep my cane in hand. Gathering the discarded items, I feel my way back up the stairs and then to my bed, placing the long stick against my nightstand.

I tend to my wife, waking her up so I can quickly give her the medicine and throw an extra blanket on her. Thankfully, she falls back to sleep swiftly, still drained from the day's events. Then, I crawl under the covers myself and close my eyes, but it takes me a while to finally fall asleep.
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