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June 21st, 2012 (12:47 PM). Edited October 15th, 2012 by diamondpearl876.
you can breathe now. x
chapter 9 ; [SENORI]
When I was watching Kuiora punch Sai over and over again, when I was watching her evolve… I felt like my body was falling away from me, through the floor, and then back into myself, over and over again. When my body was falling, it was as if I was dreaming of what my life could be, but wasn’t. And when my body righted itself again, I was reminded that this was real, and that I simply didn’t know what to do about it. The sudden violence wasn’t entirely unexpected. She had been getting more and more desperate, and I had told her about Sai fighting me, thinking nothing of it at the time…I had told her that Sai fought me because it was what fate had brought upon me, upon us, not so that she could use the idea herself. Nevertheless, here she was, freezing me and everyone else in the pokémon center, leaving us to only wonder why she was doing this, why she evolved at this moment of shame, and most of all, why Sai felt compelled to punch her back.
I snapped back to reality as I suddenly tumbled out of Sai’s arms. Though he was still on his knees, he went to pull his arm back and swing it forward, immediately colliding with Kuiora’s rounded jaw. Had she still been a totodile, she may have staggered backward. With her new and larger form, she hardly moved an inch. And just as suddenly, she stopped attacking him. She merely smirked and looked around occasionally, mostly focusing on looking down at the stricken Sai in front of her.
“Kuiora,” he said simply, using his other hand to cover the fist that he had hurt her with, “I didn’t want to hit you.”
“But you did,” she said, smiling now, a different smile from the expectant smirk that was present just moments ago.
“I know, and I’m sorry,” Sai said, standing up now. He moved slowly, carefully, as if he would break or as if Kuiora would attack him again at any moment.
“I’m strong, and I wanted you to know it. You’re not allowed to say sorry!” she replied. She crossed her arms, but made no sign of future violence.
“But I always knew that,” Sai said, chuckling slightly. I vaguely wondered if he was telling the truth, but decided that I’d never speak about it.
“Then why didn’t you use me?”
“Everyone on the team has to fight. If I only focused on you, all the others would get left behind.”
“Who cares about the others? I’m special, aren’t I?”
“Of course you are… I chose you for a reason.”
“You chose me because I was the strongest, of course!”
“Yes, yes I did. But you have quite the temper, don’t you? But you seem easy to please, so let’s make sure this never happens again…” Sai said seriously, looking down on her now, scolding her like the child she was.
Suddenly, a new voice cut in. “You can’t expect to get away with another situation like this, can you?”
I looked around once more. Up until this point, some people were still watching, whispering amongst each other, probably wondering if they should do anything about the situation and wondering about why Sai was able to understand his pokémon while they couldn’t. Others had scattered and moved on, either changed or unmoved by the incident. Only one person decided to stand up to Sai, and I immediately recognized him from the cave and from the pictures in Sasha’s house. This boy had the same blonde hair and the same serious look on his face and the same determined eyes; it was just a different day with him wearing different clothes. The boy walked up to Sai, cutting off his view from Kuiora.
“First the cave incident, and now your pokémon is attacking you. I wonder why. You obviously don’t give your pokémon the attention they need and deserve,” he said, looking Sai straight in the eye.
“I didn’t know it would go that far,” Sai said, just as serious now and having to ignore Kuiora once more. He did pass her a glance, however, as he added, “I didn’t know what she wanted. She’s never told or asked me directly until now.”
“You should figure it out! You even have the advantage of being able to talk to your pokémon.”
I stared at the boy. What was his name, anyway? Did he really have to be here at the same time as us? Was there anything I could do about it? He couldn’t understand me… but he had saved me nonetheless. I was torn between wanting to spare this other boy from the grief and from trying to keep Sai on track, his emotions being my main motivation for remaining stable and calm.
Sai glared at the other boy and said, “Are you really going to be angry over me being able to talk to my pokémon while you can’t?”
“That’s not what this is about,” the boy said, breaking eye contact for just a moment. “I bet you don’t know a damn thing about your pokémon, especially not the sentret you almost got killed.”
Sai sighed, his face softening quickly. “I know that Atis likes the top bunk on the bed at night. I know that Kuiora likes to tell stories like no other. When we sleep outside I know that Senori likes the area with the most grass. Kuiora loves learning about things outside of herself even if she won’t admit it, and Senori always seems sad for some reason I can’t quite figure out yet. Just because it doesn’t look like I’m listening or watching doesn’t mean I’m oblivious.”
When Sai said that, I completely forgot about my trying to decide which trainer to stick up for. Did Sai really pay that much attention to us, enough attention to know about the little things? Did I really even like the area with the most grass? I didn’t even notice, and it certainly never seemed like he paid attention to anything but whatever crazy ramblings went on inside his head. I decided to stay silent for Sai, and watch him deal with this situation by himself.
There was a moment of silence. The boy looked around, glaring at the people who were still watching. “Doesn’t matter if you listen or watch if your pokémon don’t feel like you do,” he finally said, not looking at Sai anymore.
But it does matter, I wanted to say. It says a lot about Sai. I turned to Kuiora to see what she was thinking during all of this. She was simply standing next to Sai, eyes crossed and looking just as defiant as her trainer. She didn’t look angry anymore, and it was smart of her, I decided, to not say anything, knowing that the trainer couldn’t understand her either way. She had probably exhausted her voice for the day, anyway. Crying, yelling, battling all day… Just what had happened, anyway? So many questions were running through my head about her and my trainer, but no answers.
“If you’re not going to listen to anything I say, then we’re done here,” Sai stated, turning away from the boy. He walked up to the counter and said, “Nurse Joy, I deeply apologize for the incident here today. It won’t happen again. I would appreciate it if you healed my Kuiora now…”
“O-Of course,” the nurse said. “May I ask that your croconaw be put into her pokéball first?”
Sai’s expression hardened again, but he looked too tired to care. He returned Kuiora to her pokéball and handed it over.
But the boy wasn’t about to give up. He came up to the counter as well and said, “Have you not learned your lesson? I’m surprised Nurse Joy isn’t reporting you. If I see one more incident I will report you, though I don’t want to let it get to that.”
Sai turned to the boy, glaring once more. “And just what do you mean by that?”
“Fight me. Battle me so they can see what kind of trainer I am, and let them decide if they want to stay with you or not.”
Decide to stay with Sai or not? It almost seemed like every pokémon’s dream—every pokémon who had a bad trainer, anyway. The choice to leave. This had to be happening for a reason, or else it wouldn’t be happening at all… Without the entire situation played out, however, it was hard to judge what I would have done, should have done… and what I wanted to do.
“What’s your name, anyway, kid?”
“My name? My name is Marty.”
“Well, Marty, I’m not worried at all. You’re on, but I’m waiting for Kuiora,” Sai said, and that was the end of the scuffle in the pokémon center, but not the questions inside my head. Fate may have been trying to tell me something, maybe leaving Sai was really an option… Who could ever know?
The battle took place two days later. Kuiora was anxious to get started right away, of course, but Sai insisted that she wait for her injuries to be healed. It took a lot of courage, I observed, to be able to deny her after what just happened, but she seemed to realize that it was for the best—probably because Sai, at least, wasn’t ignoring her.
“You said I tell stories like no other, right?” she asked, hopping up and down on the bed. We were all back in the same hotel room, as Sai said he no longer wanted to spend money that way. He had really calmed down since Kuiora’s outburst, and it was extremely noticeable. No one had to chase him around the entire town or wonder when the next time we’d be able to buy food anymore, after all.
“Yes, yes I did,” Sai said, simply sitting next to her and bouncing up and down to whatever rhythm she wanted.
“That was different,” was all she said. She had already asked about being the strongest at least five times, anyway, since he was no longer ignoring her. Had it been on purpose? I supposed it was futile to ask, but perhaps I would someday.
“I want you to tell a story,” I said instead.
“You do?” Kuiora asked. She stopped bouncing, confused.
“Yeah. Why not?” Because yes, I was tired of hearing about her being the strongest. This could have been a more enjoyable substitute.
“A story about what?”
“Anything goes, as long as it’s not about you being the strongest.”
“Mean,” Kuiora said, crossing her arms. “There are no legends about me yet, anyway, but there will be someday.”
“Do you want me to tell a story or not?” she pouted.
“Go for it,” I said, smirking. It was always fun, picking on her… and that was why I never learned to expect anything serious from her. Her outburst was unexpected, and then soon I came to realize that her serious stories were unexpected.
She told a story of an old man who burned because he was mourning for his lost wife and child. She had died in a house fire while trying to save their three-year-old son. She had sacrificed everything and still failed, according to the entire town. In the man’s mind, however, she had succeeded. Until a child is old enough to take care of himself, he thought, the mother should always follow and keep watch.
“It simply would have been a sin to the gods had she done anything else but die saving him,” she explained. Atis lay on the top bunk, as usual, saying nothing, perhaps not even listening, just thinking. I lay on the floor, curling my tail around my body, occasionally looking up to watch Sai’s reaction carefully. Yes, he was listening, and he was listening well. The croconaw went on.
Every year, on the anniversary of the day they both died, the widowed man would dance with the air, imagining his wife there instead. Every year, he read a story to himself, imagining that it was his son he was telling it to. Other than this, the town never saw him changes his ways; they said he only changed his tires and his dreams.
One day, however, he wanted to face the very thing that had taken his wife and child. Oh, how bad he wanted to face the fire. He lit a candle and mourned for them. He mourned and mourned, planning to burn it and never see it again when he was done—until he heard a cackling sound, an eerie laugh. He opened his eyes, saw that the candle was gone. The candle had really been a rare pokémon shaped like a candle, its purplish glow said to steal the energy of humans and pokémon alike just to be able to burn some more. The man had no energy to stop the fire, or to even notice it was happening. He died in pain, but without even realizing he was in pain.
“The town,” Kuiora finished, “said that he was smoking in bed when he set the house on fire. And then they wondered how the house was set on fire the first time. The end!” she said, bouncing off the bed and scaring me into the corner of the room due to her new larger size and sharper fangs.
The battle took place two days later, after it finally hit me that Kuiora wasn’t just a kid—she was the same as all of us: she came with flaws and things that made her great, both of which she was afraid of showing.
Of course, Kuiora was also feeling much, much better. She was practically dancing over to our designated battlefield: Ilex Forest.
And of course, the battlefield reminded me of home. The forest smell and appearance was much different from home. The trees were much, much taller, and it made the place darker than the one I remembered and thought of often. And like the Azalea Town gym, several bug pokémon were everywhere, out in plain sight, as if they knew their home was protected. I wished that my clan still felt the same—I at least had the comfort of knowing that they felt safe at some point. How was Ari doing, anyway? What about the rest of the clan? Had they perhaps located due to what happened? I thought and thought but it was no use. No one could answer me, as usual. So I tried to focus on the issue at hand: Marty’s crazy ambition and obsession with Sai’s training abilities. We were going to be fighting in a clearing, just as Sai had attacked me in a clearing when we had first met so long ago.
Marty stood on one side of the clearing while Sai and the rest of us stood on the other side. Atis stood by my side, while Kuiora was already out in front of our trainer, knowing that she would be chosen to battle. I didn’t offer any protest this time, for I knew that this would happen as well. After her outrage, it was simply meant to be.
The other boy took no time in choosing which pokémon to send out. He sent out a pokémon he called Halcyon, a name true to the bug’s nature. The purple and white bug flew around with joy, fluttering its wings as fast as it could to pick up speed and show off.
“A butterfree, huh?” Sai said. He sounded tired, and I expected him to say something cocky like saying his croconaw was better or that he would win fast. But his feelings of invincibility seemed to have disappeared over the last few days. “Kuiora, use water gun!”
Kuiora stood up as tall as she could, just as she had when she confronted Sai. We could all tell how proud she was as she inhaled sharply and exhaled a long, steady stream of water toward the butterfree, the first official enemy of hers. Halcyon, with its wings still flapping quickly, easily moved out of the way. It stopped mid-air and looked at Kuiora, waiting for its next move. But its mistake lied in stopping, as Kuiora simply moved her body in the butterfree’s direction, bringing the water gun attack with her. The steady stream of natural liquid never stopped, just relocated—and it ended up colliding head-on with the bug’s small purple face and torso. Halcyon didn’t cry out or move, just took the brunt of the attack.
“Halcyon won’t lose to you, he won’t! Fly under it and use tackle!” Marty cried, smiling and not appearing too worried about his pokémon’s condition just yet.
Halcyon reacted instantly, as if he had known what kind of counterattack his trainer would think of. Halcyon broke free of the water gun, seemingly unscathed, and barely grazed the attack as he flew under the water and straight into Kuiora’s body. Finally, the water stopped, and Kuiora staggered backward.
“I didn’t have time to move my attack. You got lucky,” Kuiora said. I almost chuckled at her, since her excuses were always amusing and childish to me. It reminded me of the old her—but was there really ever an old her?
“You’re fine, Kuiora. Go ahead and use bite,” Sai said calmly.
“Will do!” the croconaw responded happily. She stood there expectedly, waiting for the butterfree to get closer so she could attack.
“We simply won’t go near you then! Try a stun spore instead.”
Halcyon stayed in the air, its wings flapping slower now to help keep the bug suspended, stuck in place, just like the rest of us were at the moment. According to Marty, we were all stuck her pitifully and against our will, and according to Sai, we were all stuck here because the other boy was in our way and was just another obstacle to overcome… Whose beliefs should I have been following? Marty made me wonder, maybe only because he saved me, maybe because fate brought him to me not once, but twice now.
No matter what the case was, it didn’t change the fact that Kuiora and Halcyon were fighting right now. Halcyon was emitting a strange, yellow substance, which started emanating throughout the entire battlefield within the minute. I wished that there were more bugs in my forest so that I could have warned Kuiora. She simply stood there and waited for the substance to sink into her, unsure of what it would do and probably thinking it was harmless enough to wait for.
“Kuiora, you’re going to have to attack quick!” Sai called, finally realizing what the attack was after seeing that Kuiora was having troubles just by trying to keep her arms from drooping.
Once the croconaw realized the situation as well, she immediately started propelling herself forward, past the yellow substance that was paralyzing her. I could tell that she was trying to run, but it looked more and more like jogging. Still, the butterfree remained suspended and focused on its attack as she got closer and closer, and when she was finally close enough, she jumped as high as she could and grabbed the butterfree with her clawed hands. Halcyon’s wings could no longer help him, and the stun spore attack ceased as he tried to free himself in vain. Kuiora had a firm grasp on him, despite the attack—it simply hadn’t had enough time to sink in and get to her completely yet.
Kuiora pulled down Halcyon and kept him in place with one hand. Instead of biting, Kuiora pulled back her other hand and thrust it forward, knocking the butterfree right out of her hands and into the bushes at the edge of the clearing. Kuiora, though she did not appear as tall and proud, stood there as tall as she could, tired and restrained from her battle. She was still smiling, though, which was a good sign. Marty ran over to the bushes to check on Halcyon, but came back with nothing.
“I put him back in his pokéball,” he mumbled glumly. “I’ll send out my next pokémon. It’s my only other pokemon, so this will be a two on two battle. Are you still using the croconaw?”
Sai’s eyes widened, as if he hadn’t considered removing Kuiora from the battle. He was quiet, looking at her, thinking.
“You did well, Kuiora,” he started. I could already see her starting to frown. “But you just healed and I don’t want you to get hurt more. I’d like to send Senori in… so that you can rest from your victory.”
She smiled again at the end, and said that it was okay. Her voice sounded weak and she couldn’t nod; the stun spore was taking its effect now, and it probably wouldn’t start wearing off until the end of the battle or until she got back to a pokémon center.
So Sai ended up sending me out to battle. Last time, I was facing a menacing scyther that could easily tell my weak point due to its clan leader’s commands. This time, I was facing a little cyndaquil that I recognized as one of Professor Elm’s starting pokémon for new trainers. Did Sai and Marty start around the same time? I looked back at Kuiora to see if she knew the cyndaquil, but there was no sign of recollection, just a smile that told me she was stronger than this thing despite the type disadvantage.
“Do you know the croconaw over there?” I asked.
“Nope,” the cyndaquil said, smiling.
“Gracie, start off with an ember!” Marty cried out, clenching his fist in anticipation. He didn’t seem to want to let us talk, probably because of Sai.
The cyndaquil known as Gracie inhaled and exhaled flames, directing them at me. It reminded me of Kuiora’s water gun attack, except this seemed much more dangerous and potentially painful. I ran on all four paws in order to dodge the attack. It didn’t seem as if Gracie was as good with controlling her attacks, so nothing followed me, though I did ensure this before I stopped running.
“Senori, use tail whip!” Sai called to me.
I ran over to Gracie, who was recovering from using her ember attack. She shrieked and covered her face with her tiny cream-colored paws as I attempted to smack her with my tail.
“Are you scared?” I asked, sort of actually feeling sorry for her.
“I get scared easily…” Gracie said, her voice trailing off, “but I can still fight!”
After she finished her sentence, she removed her paws from her face and ran toward me this time, so quick that she was leaving afterimages behind her every time she moved. Every cyndaquil I saw looked the same, and I couldn’t tell who was real and who wasn’t. I turned my body to the left and right, trying to find a good time to escape, but each time I turned, Gracie or her afterimages followed and I second guessed myself. This time, she smacked into me, sending me careening into the bushes this time instead of Halcyon.
When I went to get up, however, I saw another pokémon staring down at me.
“I see that boy around here a lot,” it said. It was a bird pokémon, with white feathers covering all around its neck, with only one red feather sticking up at the top of its head. Its red colored face stared down at me, smiling. Its beak opened and shut numerous times, trying to speak. “If you want to end this quick, just hit Gracie on the back. It’s her weak point. She’ll get scared, and with her trying not to fall, you can put enough pressure on her tiny legs to where she can’t get back up.”
“W-What?” I said, confused. Where had this bird come from, anyway? Had it been watching the entire time? And why even care about Marty and Sai and Gracie and me? I stumbled back to my feet quickly and hopped out of the bushes, not even bothering to say anything or look at the pokémon.
Still, as the battle continued, I couldn’t forget what the bird had said. I didn’t want to cheat and hit Gracie on the back, but she was starting to wear me down. She had hit me into the bushes, and now she was aiming more ember attacks at me and making me run as much as possible, exhausting my energy. I did want to end this quick so that Marty didn’t win and find further reason to antagonize Sai the way he was, but still—
I decided to try a similar strategy, one that I could be proud of. When Gracie shot out her next ember attack, I stopped and let it come straight at me. I prepared my tail as I watched the oncoming embers, and when it was finally close enough, I swung my tail at each and every one. While the embers simply dissipated upon contact, Gracie thought that they were going to come flying back at her and started cowering in fear once more, covering those already closed eyes of hers. Then I ran at her again and tackled her, hitting her in the side rather than mostly on her back. Seeing how small her legs were made me think that maybe there was enough pressure applied so that she couldn’t get up again, or perhaps just be fainted after battling so long and using so much energy on her ember attacks. Either way, she was finished battling, as she didn’t get up again, just kept whining.
“Gracie, it’s okay, I know you’re not much of a battler. Return!” Marty said, and she disappeared as a mere flash of red, maybe looking at me with those closed eyes with desperation. How could I tell, anyway?
“Good job, Senori. Return,” Sai said, copying Marty, though he didn’t return me to my pokéball. He rarely did.
“Well? I may have lost, but it wasn’t about winning or losing, just seeing trainer styles and appealing to our pokémon in the best way possible. Let them choose, and let them remember how you almost let Senori get killed and how you let Kuiora get so out of hand!” Marty cried, frowning and glaring at Sai. But Sai ignored him and turned to us instead.
“You did well, Kuiora, Senori. And Atis would have done well too. I’m sorry that Marty feels compelled to do this… and I’m sorry that I’m inclined to agree with him on some points. Maybe, someday…” he said, stopping to smile softly. “Maybe someday I can love you as much as I was meant to.”
“I’d like to stay now that I can battle!” Kuiora said immediately, hugging and squeezing Sai’s leg closely to her. Sai smiled and rubbed her side, the one that had been damaged by Atis.
“The croconaw is too young to know better, but her choice is her choice,” Marty said, crossing his arms impatiently.
“Why are you so set on trying to get rid of me as a trainer?” Sai asked, looking up at the other boy.
“I should just report you and have your pokémon forcibly taken from you,” Marty retorted.
“That doesn’t answer my question,” Sai said, still calm and tired.
“Most pokémon don’t know what a real good trainer can be like. The only example they usually have is their first trainer… and by the time they realize what they really need and want in a trainer, they’re too far from home to find their way back. It’s too late, and they feel trapped. But I don’t want pokémon to feel that way!”
“I wouldn’t want them to, either,” Sai said sympathetically.
“You don’t act like it!” Marty cried, frustrated.
“I told you before… You don’t know me. I try my best.”
“Then let them choose. I let Gracie and Halcyon choose, and I’ll let Gracie choose again someday.”
“I never said I wouldn’t,” Sai said. He kneeled down once more, looked at all of us—but not expectedly. Perhaps he truly didn’t know what to expect. It made me wonder why he had accepted this battle in the first place. He did care, he cared, he did, I had to believe it. “Senori? Atis? No one should feel trapped or feel like they have to stay, Marty is right.”
There was a long silence before anyone said anything else. There were a lot of factors I had to consider. I could start over here. I could build a new clan… not of sentret, but of bugs and whatever else was in this forest. I could try to find my way back—though, like Marty said, it seemed impossible and tough and risky. I could leave Sai’s world of unpredictability and go back to a life of routine and serenity…
“I’d like to have time to think about it…” Atis mumbled eventually, finally, though something told me he would end up staying. Where else would he go? Maybe he’d stay until he found another purpose in his life, one that Sai couldn’t contribute to anymore.
And me? I wondered. It was my turn. Yes, again, I could start over here. But didn’t I say I wouldn’t let Sai’s emotions get to me? And I had been doing well so far. I acted indifferent when he was going back and forth between being angry at me for losing the way I do and sad at himself for slowing him down, which he was still doing. Surely he’d be sad again soon—he was slowing down, and actually sleeping again, and he was no longer invincible… Yes, he was a rollercoaster. He always would be. And I feared his emotions deep down, even if I ignored them—I never knew what he was capable of, never knew what would happen next, never knew what kind of day I would have when I woke up. Still, he gave me a purpose, and he came at the right time in my life. He did seem to care, though there was something that was preventing him from showing it. Maybe, someday, like he said, he could show me, show all of us, and we could be happy…
In the end… I knew I loved him more than I feared him.
I chose to stay.
Joined Jun 2007
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