Re: Survival Project
It took a lot of convincing, but I managed to get him back to the pokémon center after his crazy shopping spree. Senori and Kuiora were waiting outside of our room’s door, since we had been gone so long with the key. Sai let us all in the room, and I thought that our day was over—until I remembered that he had to go to that one house for dinner.
I flopped down on the bed, not aiming to get back up. But Senori walked over to me and questioned everything. He was worried, but didn’t know what to do.
“I’m not really sure what happened today, either,” I said lazily, lying there.
“He ran around everywhere, trying to talk to everyone, and he wasn’t angry over anything. And he bought an awful lot of things. And, uh… I thought you said he was out of pokédollars,” I finished stupidly.
“I did say that.”
“Winning battles, maybe? Maybe he had more than you thought.”
“Maybe…” Senori said. He looked down at the ground, lost in thought.
“Anyway, uh, we’re going to be leaving again soon… for dinner,” I said after a few moments of silence.
“Yep. Apparently, Sai now thinks that the town and everyone in it is his friend.”
Senori’s face brightened. “That’s a good thing! Maybe he won’t be angry anymore.”
I didn’t think that he could change so easily, but I didn’t say anything back. I wasn’t given a chance to, anyway, as Sai came up behind me and tried putting on one of the smaller t-shirts that he had bought earlier.
“Atis, your head is too big. I can’t get this on you,” he said, trying to pull it down harder. I was surprised it hadn’t ripped yet. When I could, I ducked down and pelted forward, so that I was out of the boy’s grasp. He easily took it as a sign that I didn’t want the shirt, and went to Senori instead. Being much smaller (and with a much narrower head), the shirt went on easily. It was a white shirt that had a plain pokéball image on the front of it.
“Do I get a shirt?” Kuiora said, running up to Sai and pulling on his sleeve.
“I bought a lot, so sure…” he said, grabbing another one. This one was black and was designed with random designs like swirls and stars. I had to admit that I preferred that shirt, though it quickly got ripped due to the totodile’s red spikes protruding from her back. It was wearable, but it looked odd. Kuiora didn’t seem to mind; she just liked the attention. She didn’t get much of it, however, as Sai started getting anxious again and didn’t want to stay in the room. He took us back out to the lobby, which was much fuller than it was earlier. It was loud, crowded, and full of pokémon. Apparently, it was exactly what he was looking for.
Until it was time to go to dinner, Sai spent the rest of the time running around the lobby of the pokémon center, talking to everyone and showing off his partly dressed pokémon. Whenever he simply introduced me as his strong hitmontop, I closed my eyes and felt myself redden from embarrassment. There were so many pokémon around—none of which were evolved—and I knew they were all looking at me. All the new pokémon at the school had done the same. Some of the girls thought it was cute, but most people were trainers and were in a hurry to get going in order to get a head start in the forest before dark. They ignored him or brushed him off, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Despite the girl’s previous warning, it was difficult to remember where her house was. I had left it up to him to remember, but apparently, he hadn’t. Thanks to Senori’s generous explanation, Sai was at least able to knock on the door and ask for her, whatever her name was. It took us a while to find her. Sai never seemed keen on using pokéballs, so I took this time to rest as best as I could and to prepare myself for the upcoming situation. I hadn’t been with the boy long, but I had already learned that anything could happen.
I was able to get a better look at her when we found her since it was daytime. Blonde hair, big dark eyes, a narrow face with soft skin and a small mouth. She looked an awful lot like the guy who had saved Senori in the cave, and I hoped my assumptions weren’t correct. Since I had to memorize faces at the pokémon school and there had been quite a few siblings there over the years, I didn’t think I was wrong. I knew, at least, that he wouldn’t be here tonight, but still…
I started paying attention to the situation at hand when she solemnly announced that Sai had been an hour late and had already missed dinner. And she didn’t have any pokémon food, though her brother should have been out shopping for some at that very moment. That only heightened my suspicions, but I didn’t have time to think about it as Sai pushed past her and walked into the house anyway. She looked shocked, but didn’t question him or make any attempt to get rid of him.
Us three pokémon stared at one another, wondering if we should follow. Kuiora decided to take the lead and went in as well—he was our trainer, after all, and we couldn’t get in trouble for being loyal, now could we? I was about to point out my observations about the girl, but decided against it.
“Your house is very pretty,” I heard Sai say as I walked in. It was, indeed, a nice house. I mostly noted how full and complete the place felt—this was the home of people who had been here a long time, and would continue to stay. Everything was clean. There were several pieces of furniture, all of which looked worn but still cared for. The walls were adorned with various paintings, some of them consisting of ordinary items, some of them containing rather inspirational quotes that might have affected me if I wasn’t walking around so uncomfortably. The lights weren’t too bright, which made me feel slightly better, but I had a feeling that the girl was watching us with caution. We were weird and new, but mostly weird.
The other three—especially Sai—were especially interested in all the things that I didn’t care for. Tables, doors, couches, several kitchen supplies—what were they made of? Where did she get them? Why did anyone need a table, anyway? I thought that it would be easy to tell how confused the girl was by her hesitant responses, but she was polite and responded to every question nonetheless. I admired her for it. Finding out that everything that made you comfortable in life was a complete mystery to someone else was surely awkward.
“I don’t mean to be rude… but do you have your own place? Where are you from?”
Sai stopped. He didn’t blink, didn’t move. For a moment, he was passive once again. “Vermilion City. And sure I did,” he said finally, “but it was different.”
“Oh? How so? I don’t know much about the Kanto region,” she explained. She sat down at the table and motioned for Sai to join her, but he didn’t. I wondered if he missed the gesture entirely or was too fascinated by the table to the point where he was afraid of breaking it.
“I’ve never been in a kitchen. People brought food to me,” he said, smiling again.
“Not much of a cook, huh?” she said, smiling back. I noted that she didn’t take Sai so seriously, though I believed actions spoke much louder than words.
“Yeah… I mean, I had walls. And, uh, a bed…”
“I see…” she said, looking at him oddly again. “You sound like my brother. He’s not one for conversation, though he knows how to use words pretty effectively when the situation calls for it. Are you the same?”
The conversation went on like this, with her trying to probe for answers, and with him not being specific at all. He had things. Yes, generic things that anyone could have. He really lived in a city… in some region. He had people who lived with him. Who? Just people. You know. No, I don’t know. Had he always been around pokémon? Maybe. He didn’t like to remember. …I hope you don’t mind my pokémon looking around. They’re curious. And they’re wearing shirts.
Eventually, she gave up, but Sai didn’t get the hint that it was time to leave. It was like playing twenty questions, and Sai had just proved that there could actually be a loser to the game without even knowing it.
I tuned them out until Sai said it was time to go. I was thinking that, in a sense, this was like being with Earl in Violet City. Conversations were vague and inconclusive. No one was particularly close with anyone, though they sure tried to be. The main difference was that Earl was never so excited to be in such a place, while Sai was ecstatic.
I thought that maybe something good could come from this hectic day. Sai seemed happiest in a comforting place like this. He sure was happier than any other time I’d seen him so far, anyway. Maybe he could stay in Azalea Town. He didn’t have to travel or train; he could make new goals. Yes, this morning he had had a rather odd… goal. But it had nothing to do with pokémon, and I could work with that. He didn’t even complete his goal, either, but I could work with that, too. I wasn’t accustomed to being a battling pokémon, and neither was Senori. Kuiora may have been another story, but she was young; she could adapt without problem. We could stay, and Sai could become something that wasn’t a trainer, something that wouldn’t make him miserable.
When Sai said it was time to go, the girl ushered us out the door. I was hardly paying attention to anything being said anymore, but I did hear him address her as Sasha. I mentally said good-bye to her, and hoped that we wouldn’t be getting any trouble over visiting if her brother really was the boy who didn’t like Sai.
I also noted that she didn’t invite us to stay for the night. Wasn’t that a normal thing to offer your guests? It was probably for the best if my assumptions about her knowing the hero from the cave. I wasn’t human, so I couldn’t tell the depth of her wariness toward Sai. I just knew that I probably felt more human than he did that day, and that needed to change.
My plan seemed ruined when Sai bought four rooms in the pokémon center that night—one for each of us. The nurse looked at him oddly at first, but then smiled and said it was a considerate thing to do. Pokémon need their alone time, too, after all. My worries ceased when she explained that she would have all of our rooms next to each other, just in case.
After getting room keys, we went around the corner to where all the rooms were located. It was quiet, again, just as it had been during the morning. Sai let the other two pokémon into their rooms, and told them to be good, to not cause trouble. When he went to open my door, though, I stopped him and asked if I could talk to him for a minute.
“Why?” Sai asked, tilting his head to the side slightly.
“I, you know, wanted to talk about today,” I said, trying to sound confident. I was rushing into unknown territory here, I knew. But it seemed like as good a time as any, if Senori and Kuiora’s strange descriptions of Sai were anything to go off of.
“Oh…?” he said as he entered his own room. His backpack and other belongings were still there. I had forgotten that he already had a room. He also already had rented it for two nights, maybe more. Why buy separate rooms now, then? I wondered. My confidence lessened; the lack of concrete answers made me nervous.
“Yeah. I was, um, curious as to how long we’re going to be traveling for?” I asked.
“Not long… but long enough to be able to get all the badges in Johto!” Sai said quickly. He handed me my key—was he expecting all of us to know what to do with a key? I could do it, sure, but maybe not the others…
…Not only was I trying to deter Sai, I was trying to deter myself from the situation at hand. Focus.
“And how many do you have now? Just the one?” I asked.
“Yep,” he replied. I had been hoping for a different answer, but okay. I could deal with that.
“Well, I thought that we could… Well, you seemed happier in Azalea Town today.” I stepped a little further inside the room as I noticed that I was still by the doorway. I had to appear friendly, not scared.
“I guess… Visiting the girl was fun, but she also pointed out my enthusiasm,” Sai said, bending down to take off his shoes. Halfway through untying them, he stood up.
“That’s a bad thing?” I asked, watching him. He started rearranging things in the room—he opened the windows, put the plants in different corners, ruffled and then fixed the bed sheets. It took a long time for him to answer.
“Most of the time...” he finally said, slowly. Once again, he seemed passive, and I wasn’t sure why.
“I think it’s a good thing,” I pointed out, trying to cheer him up.
But it backfired.
“And what do you know?” he snapped, turning sharply to look at me. His eyes were still glazed over, I noticed. It was hard not to notice. I stumbled backward a bit despite myself, as if he had physically hit me.
“Being happy is a g-good thing, Sai… Y-You seemed happy here, you know? Talking to everyone and everything,” I said. I didn’t believe my own words. “M-Maybe we could stay here for a while. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but it could be longer than a few days…”
He simply kept walking around, slower this time, still cleaning things, still attempting to fix things that weren’t broken in the first place. I just stared and wondered if I had said too much and stayed too long.
Eventually, he mumbled, “Get out.”
“Huh?” I wanted to make sure I had heard him right. If I couldn’t succeed now, who knew when I’d try again…?
“I told you to get out,” Sai said, louder and more stern this time. He made his way over the table in the corner of the room.
“I got you guys your own rooms for a reason—”
—he moved the lamp on the table from one side to another—
“—so get out—”
—and it apparently wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t perfect, so he tried again—
“—go to your own room—”
—but it was no good, so he ripped the cord out of the wall—
“—just get out!”
—because it’s always the little things that get to us.
He finally stopped screaming and fumbling with the lamp.
Instead, he growled and threw the lamp at me.
I ducked and let the lamp crash into the closed door behind me. I could hear it shatter. A million pieces all around me. The result of a troubled teenage boy that no one could bother to understand.
I had no choice but to do what he wanted and retreat to my own room. I said nothing more. Opened the door, went into the hallway. Closed the door… and simply sat down. I was holding on to my key so tightly that it dug into my skin and made me bleed a little.
I thought it was over, but the chaos didn’t end there. I could hear him screaming again, unintelligibly this time. Things were still being moved around rather violently, I could tell—I just didn’t know what or how, and I didn’t want to find out.
Suddenly, I jumped a little as I heard someone else yelling. I calmed down a bit as I realized it was Senori. The poor pokémon was too short and probably couldn’t open the door. I stood up slowly and wobbled over to his room’s door, telling him that Sai was just angry… as usual.
“Is he okay?” he asked after we heard yet another crash.
“Yes… No one’s hurting him. He’s just… mad,” I explained as calmly as I could. It wasn’t hard, since I was too paralyzed to care much, like Senori had been earlier. Luckily, the sentret seemed to understand, and left it at that.
Kuiora, however, was another story. Her door opened and she looked at me with a mixture of annoyance and confusion. She had taken the time to drag a chair to the door so that she could open the door. Now, she was looking down at me.
“He’s just angry. We shouldn’t, uh, interfere…” I said before she could question anything, noting the obvious hypocrisy in my words.
“I thought you two were fighting,” she pointed out.
“We kind of were…” I said sheepishly.
“Physical fighting? Pokémon battle fighting?”
“Well, no, but—”
“I’m going to become stronger than you someday, you know.”
“Eh?” I asked. Just what I needed—more cryptic answers… I half-heartedly listened as I checked over the rest of my body to make sure I wasn’t hurt.
“Yeah. You got to fight the first gym battle all by yourself and you apparently got some attention tonight. But I’m going to get stronger than you. It’ll be a competition of sorts,” she said.
Well, I wasn’t hurt physically, but mentally… “I-I don’t want competition—” I started, but she cut me off with a water gun to the face. I didn’t finish my sentence, and was now spitting water out of my mouth instead of words. It was an accurate comparison, but annoying nonetheless.
“You can’t expect to be the strongest and not have competition!” Kuiora cried.
At least it wasn’t a lamp, I thought bitterly. At least I wasn’t hearing screaming or crashing anymore. But now I was wet and cold and utterly defeated. I was done.
“I don’t need this…” I said. I stood up, coughed up the last of the water that had been shot into my mouth, and I finally let myself into my own room. “I’m going to bed. You can have him.”
I shut the door.
I heard nothing else for the rest of the night.
I slept through most of the night, though I woke up shivering and cold a few times, thanks to Kuiora. For some reason, she had a grudge against me, and was going to do anything in her power to win. Cooperation for anyone’s sake was not an option for her.
And Sai… I didn’t know about Sai. All I had done was ask a couple questions, and then violence ensued. Yes, he had given us warning beforehand, but still… He seemed happy, and then it all changed in a few mere moments.
When I awoke, I tried to think about Violet City. I thought about Shannon. How was she doing? Her intentions were always pure. Was it getting her into any trouble? What about Jason? Battles could be so exhausting, I knew. I had been gone for what seemed like forever, now. I didn’t know what day of the week it was. Who was struggling today?
Eventually, I’d have to learn that everyone was always struggling. And I’d have to accept this fact.
I taught myself about some peace of mind and slept through the day.
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