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

16. Horse and Bull

by CJWorthington 0 reviews

Chapter 16 of The Spirit of Alola

Category: Pokemon - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2021-03-30 - Updated: 2021-10-29 - 3365 words - Complete

We sit for a long time, Anya crying with her head buried on my shoulder, me trying to hold her up, unable to provide any solace. Her sobbing continues for so long her voice grows hoarse, and her tears stop falling. Still, she sits, breath gasping in the pain she's held in for this last year. We let the sea sweep away the sounds, pulling them into the depths, as easily and unconcerned as the loved one it swept away from her before. I can do nothing but hold her and watch the sun crawl across the sky.
After a while, Anya's breathing slows and evens out. She sits, her head bowed, listening to the swaying sea.

Then without warning, she pulls her hands off the sandy floor and puts them on her legs. Pushing off from the ground, she rises to her feet and walks towards the steps, patting sand off her as she moves, acting as if the scene never even happened and we were merely two sisters enjoying the sunrise on the beach.

"We should get back to the house." She says, her voice still raw, but the emotion behind it controlled once more. The silence between us continues to stretch as I follow her up the path, still unable to find words.

Kabir is carefully navigating around the kitchen, preparing breakfast, when we make our way inside.

"Sashi, Anya, is that you?" He calls, a mixing bowl in hand, his head peaking around the corner and an ear facing toward the location of our arrival.

"Yes," I answer, closing the door behind us.

"I wasn't sure if you two would be joining us, but I only just started, so I can throw some more food in."

Tinsel sat in the living room, playing gently with Himiko, probably put on babysitting duty, so Kabir could cook without worry of running into the tiny toddler.

"Mommy!" The child cries when she sees us. She stands and tottles over to Anya, arms wide and smile glowing.

"Hey, baby. How'd you sleep?" She says softly, picking her up eagerly.

"TiTi was playing with me! Look! Look what she can do!" She squirms impatiently in her mother's arms. Anya hesitates before setting the child down, looking a bit saddened by the swift affection.

Without noticing, Himiko runs back over to the watching Sylveon. "Ok, TiTi! Go!"

Tinsel wraps her ribbons around the middle of the child and sets her carefully on her back, keeping the ribbons in place to help hold her up. She then takes off, running cautiously around the room, bouncing off furniture and jumping over lower tables and various boxes. Himiko laughs joyously.

She looks over to her mom again to make sure she's watching. Her laughing halts and Tinsel comes to a stop, concerned by the sudden silence.

"Mommy, why are you sad?" She asks, confused. I hear the sounds from the kitchen die down; Kabir is listening now, too, probably has been the whole time.

"It's nothing, sweetie; mommy's just tired." She says, forcing a smile to her face.

"Anya," Kabir's voice sounds. "Look at your daughter. She's worried about you. You can't keep pretending like nothing is wrong. And, it's not just your daughter who's worried. Look at Sashi. She's worried too. So am I. Stop hiding it from us."

"I'm not hiding anything," She chokes out, a slight hint of her normal sting.

Kabir walks up to Anya, his eyes meeting hers with surprising ease, stern and full of conviction. She takes a step back, looking away from his fierce, sightless gaze.

"Yes, you are," Then he speaks the words that he and I have wanted to say for the past year to her. "We get it. We know you're hurting. I can only imagine the pain you must be in. If I had been in your shoes, and Sashi had died like that, I don't know what I would do. I know you miss Kai, but you can't keep ignoring the people in front of you." His voice shakes, anger lighting it up now as he speaks. Finally, he sighs, long and slow, calming himself from the sudden deluge of emotions.

"Anya, you're not alone." He continues, his words gentle now. "We are here for you, whether you want us to be or not. You can't get rid of us, so why don't you join us? Stop trying to fight this on your own."

A small hand reaches up and pulls on Anya's shirt. Himiko looks up at her mother, tears welling up in her blue depths, so much like her late father's. "Mommy?" She questions.

"He's right, you know," I finally find my voice, though I don't have many words. "We're your family. So, please, allow us to help you like one."

Anya stands for a moment. Fists clenched again, arms shaking. It's her turn to be at a loss for words.

A few days pass, and it finally seems as if my family is returning to some form of normalcy. I spend my time cleaning dust and debris off of furniture, setting the house up in a comprehensible and livable fashion, and making purchases to be delivered to the house at a later date to fill the unused spaces. Kabir assists me in organizing our home as well, so he will be able to start memorizing the placement of our things.

Anya tries to help also, but her quick temper and eagerness to get things done swiftly proves to be more of a hindrance than a help to our carefully methodical ways. Still, when she's not entertaining her child, I catch her watching quietly as my husband, and I move about, her ever-watchful eyes squinting at me whenever she notices my mind slipping from a task.

Unfortunately, this seems to happen more often than I realize as my family begins to catch on when things become too silent.

One evening, while Kabir and I are settling in our bed with some books before going to sleep, I notice him paying attention to me. His hand moves slowly across the pages as he feigns reading the bumpy surface, but I can tell by the look on his face that he's listening to me instead as I silently read my own book.

"The house has been quiet lately." He starts once he realizes I've stopped turning pages.

"How is that possible? We've been so busy moving things about." I say, pretending to not understand his point.

"You know what I mean." He says in a low voice, sliding his hand off the book and setting it in his lap.

I do.

Ever since we were children, after Kabir had begun to learn how to control his psychic powers, I had started singing. I knew he would have a much harder time adjusting when the mystic sight he was so used to began to diminish. The world was becoming black to him as he learned what it truly meant to be blind. He despised the emptiness of his vision, which made him both hate and fear the lack of noise in quiet moments.

And so I sang. I'd fill the dark corners of silence with a soft song. Now that we are older, it has become more natural and enjoyable. I find myself singing while working, humming while I read a book, or even trilling while I studied a Pokémon or taking down notes.

Sometimes, when Kabir and I have a fight, I stop my music, too irritated or sad to continue a song, but he would know I was no longer upset when my vocals would begin again.

However, lately, with the hissing voice that filled my head, it had grown harder to sing as my mood changed with the cruel words it said to me. It spoke of my faults, mistakes and reminded me of painful memories. At times, I would find myself engulfed by the horrid words, and the songs I would try to sing would become choked out by the emotions. Those were the times when I was most silent.

My family, and even guests who would stop by, like the neighbors or our mail carrier Sam, would notice my pause in daily activity and would catch my attention. Sometimes, with a quiet word that would drag my mind out of the dark place, and other times, having to physically grab my shoulder or arm to pull me back into the solid world.

Now, my husband and life-long friend, with concern filling his blind eyes, sits next to me on the bed and questions my frequent distractions and silent moments. I don't know what to tell him. How does one inform someone that they hear voices in their head without causing the concerned party to grow wary of your sanity?

Unable to find a way to explain it, I simply sigh and say, "I've been tired lately. I think I'm still recovering from being poisoned."

You've chosen to lie, I see, dear one. How wretched of you to do such a thing to your poor concerned husband. The voice whispers, laughing at its own mocking.

My comment was only a half-truth. I had finally started to recover. The medicine that Doctor Ōpūnui gave me had worked. I really was tired, though, but that wasn't from being sick. I found it hard to sleep at night now and had only been able to catch small glimpses of proper slumber. The rest of my hours were filled, trying to shut out the voice.

"You know you can talk to me, right?" Kabir tries again, his voice filled with sadness, his face troubled by my clearly blatant fable.

"There really isn't much else to say." I try to diffuse, snapping my eyes shut at the new fib.

"So, you're just tired, is that all?" He whispers, Then turning his milky eyes to face me, he adds more loudly, as if worried that his words were simply unheard. "There truly is nothing we need to discuss?"

I don't like the disheartened look on my husband's face, but instead of answering, I simply flip my book closed. Then, with my eyes downcast, to stop myself from seeing his pained look at my refusal to talk, I turn the switch on the small lamp off on my bedside table and plunge the room into darkness.

"No," I choke on the simple word. "I think it'd probably be good for me to get some extra sleep tonight," I say, and though I know his sightless gaze can't see it, I try to force a smile to my face. "Goodnight, Kabir."

I burrow into my blankets and face the window, my back to him. The silent man now sits, unmoving on the bed next to me. I don't hear his fingers return to his book and slide quietly across the pages once more. Instead, he sits for a long while, listening to me breathing, probably waiting to see if I truly fall asleep.

"Sashi, can we please talk?" he tries to gather my attention one more time with a choked-out call, but I don't respond now as shame sears through me at the hurt in his voice. Instead, I lay quietly as I hear him draw in a deep breath and slowly, shakily push it out through his nose.

There's a soft thump as he closes his book and sets it on his own nightstand. Then, he shuffles the sheets, but instead of moving to sleep himself, he rises from the bed and slips out of the room.

Oh, dear one. How could you have upset him so? You indeed are an awful wife—the voice hisses.

I close my eyes tight and shove my face into my pillow, but that doesn't shut off the sound of the cold laugh as it echoes through my mind.

Kabir and I sit on the benches outside of our home the following day, me trying to act as if our conversation from last night hadn't taken place. Anya sits next to my husband and squints her eyes at me suspiciously. She can tell something has happened.

Instead of dredging up the event, I watch Hop and Tinsel as they enjoy their meal. We had just eaten our breakfast, me picking at my food until the others had finished. Then I took the plates inside and threw out my own untouched portion. I haven't had much appetite lately, but the shame that still pulsed through me from last night had taken away all my desire to eat.

When I returned, Himiko had begged us to be allowed to play. So, obligingly, we had released a few Pokémon for her.

Whiplash the Milotic, Bead the Leafeon, Sardee the Alolan Ninetales, and Tempest, my husband's Kanto Raichu, all play happily with the small child now. They take up a game of tag, Himiko running in between our legs and crawling under the table as she avoids capture.

I also released Garbee, my Fire-Type Ninetales, though he wasn't much for playing. We had no clue how old the Pokèmon was, as he had found us while Kabir and I were Trainers, traveling through a forest. He was already an old beast, even then, but he had followed us around for weeks, observing our journey. Finally, he approached, asked for a battle, and then allowed me to capture him, even when I had lost miserably to the powerful fox.

Now, he sits on the bench next to me, head resting in my lap as I idly scratch him between the ears, soaking in the morning sun. His golden fur, though still shiny, was now streaked with grays. Don't get me wrong, he's still my strongest Pokémon and most skilled battler on this team, but every year that passes makes it more evident of his advancing age.

Being a weekend, it isn't long before our neighbors walk up the hill and join us. I slip inside my home at their approach and make a fresh pot of coffee. Now we all sit, chatting happily about our weeks, sipping from our mugs and enjoying the company of each other.

"I think I can hear Sam," Kabir says after a slight lull in the conversation.

We look to the east and see that he's correct. Massive hoof beats can be barely heard, but the nearing form of a Mudsdale can be seen trotting up the path, Sam riding along on its back. Belts and buckles jingle as the horse Pokémon comes to a halt, snorting irritably.

"Hey, Sam!" I call, "Any mail for us today?"

"Well, not for you guys, but I do have a letter for you, Professor Kukui," They say, dismounting with practiced ease.

I can definitely see why this mountain-sized human uses such a large Pokémon for travel, as even at their considerable height and build, the horse still dwarfed them. However, I find myself wondering if this particular Pokémon was naturally a large one or if the one Sam used was bigger than most, having not seen any others since our arrival. They hand an envelope to Kukui, who places it inside a pocket of his white lab coat.

"Hand delivery! I like that!" He says laughing.

"Well, you know I can't do that every day!" Sam says with a chuckle of their own. They notice a look of surprised discomfort cross the professor's face at the realization of the inconvenience tracking him down may have caused, and they throw in. "I have a very slow route today, though, so it was no issue."

"Well, that's nice of you to stop up here to deliver it. Thank you," Burnet acknowledges.

"Wait!" Sam says suddenly, "Please, I know you love Pokémon, Professor Ashoka, sir, but Mudsdale doesn't tolerate most people."

Kabir had stood during the interaction and was making his way towards the massive Pokémon, holding one of the ever-present treats from his pockets, out on his palm, and clicking his tongue. Mudsdale snorts and stomps but stays where it is, eyes trained on the outstretched hand. It takes a step forward and sniffs at the pellets, snorting in disgust at the offering, giving another stomp of annoyance, and flicking his head irritably.

Kabir backs off and listens for a moment.

He steps over towards us, grabs his water glass off the table, pours it on some dirt and, picks up a handful of the resulting mud. He walks back over to the giant horse Pokémon and offers his hand again. This time, it sniffs his hand, then takes a small mouthful of the mud. Bobbing its head up and down in pleasure, it grabs another portion, pleased by the new gift.

"Ah! That was amazing!" Sam says in wide-eyed surprise. "Mudsdale isn't mean, but it doesn't normally take so easily to anyone!"

Kabir laughs awkwardly, placing his clean hand behind his head, embarrassed by the praise.

"It's like you two were talking," Burnet says, also impressed.

"Guess that's why they call it "Psychic," right?" I respond, coming up from behind my husband with my own handful of mud now. "Mudsdale, I'm Sashi. Would you mind if I give you a treat as well?"

The horse Pokémon glances over to Kabir's now empty hand, then Sam, who was trying to encourage it to accept the treat with waves of their arms and a nodding head. It reaches down and takes the offering out of my hand too. I pet it on the neck, pleased to have made a new friend.

"Guess it just needs the right gift." It's Sam's turn to be embarrassed. "Hey, Mudsdale. If I had more people offer you mud, would you act more kindly to them?" The young person says, giving the giant horse a few affectionate pats on the rump. Instead of responding, the horse takes another happy bite from the mud in my hand.

"I haven't been working with this Mudsdale for very long yet, as I only just started running as a mail carrier a few weeks ago," Sam explains to us.

We all chat for a few minutes more, my neighbors, husband, and Sam all gathering around the benches. I remain by the brown pachyderm, feeding it more bites of mud, as I listen to them conversing

"Oh hey, there's Berns. I wonder what he's up here for." Kukui comments as the cabby approaches, coming into our pathway and pulling alongside the Mudsdale, right next to me.

Suddenly, I hear an angry snort behind me and duck just in time to avoid a horn aimed at my head from the bad-tempered Tauros, losing my footing and falling onto the hard-packed earth. Mudsdale rears back in surprise, raising one of its mighty hooves, and kicks out with a warning at the offending bull Pokémon. I roll over on the ground, narrowly avoiding the crashing hoof.

I feel a set of hands grab me under my arms and drag me away from the fighting. Kukui had already rushed over to my aid, and my sister immediately started checking me over for injuries.

"Mudsdale, stop!" Sam says in shock.

"Tauros, no!" Berns exclaims at the same time, jumping out of his carriage.

They both make grabs at the reins of their respective Pokémon, trying hard to calm them down. Tauros thrashes out at Sam as they reach for Mudsdale, and Sam crashes to the ground, struck in the side by the swinging head with a sickening snap.

Enraged, Mudsdale turns around and aims a kick with its rear hooves at the offending Tauros. It takes nearly all of us to pull Sam away from the battle, Anya rushing over to check on their pained form as they lie stunned on the ground.

Berns makes a grab at the holster on his Tauros' back and pulls him out with a firm shove, saving the carriage and his other, docile Tauros from the fight. The bull moves free from its restraints and charges at the horse Pokémon, horns alight with a Horn Attack. Mudsdale rears on its back legs, readying to use Stomp.
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