Act i Stage ii

Madame Gíry

Misty’s aching head roused her from sleep more than once...

The first time was only for a moment, and later Misty wondered if her delusional dreams had merely led her to believe she’d woken up when she hadn’t. Her head throbbed with each heartbeat and the pain in her side was so unbearable her brain had completely shut down that half of her body. She tried sitting up, but her aching neck couldn’t support her head and she could only manage to roll it to one side. And what she saw in the dim light surprised her.

There was a man sleeping next to her—no, that wasn’t right. A boy about her age—nineteen, perhaps twenty, twenty-one at the most—was curled up near the edge of her blankets, dark-haired head nestled against a black-gloved hand. His knuckles caught the edge of a pair of dark sunglasses and forced them askew on his head, revealing a tanned, slightly scruffy face and eyelids flickering gently in deep sleep. Misty stared at him in confusion. Her brain was sluggishly refusing to think. Why was he here? Who was he? And why was he sleeping in a dark room in sunglasses?

The questions overworked her mind and she felt it dimming again. Her eyelids fluttered shut and she rolled painfully onto her back, groaning. She didn’t know how long she slept before she swam dimly up to consciousness once again.

This time she woke up to a warm hand on her neck. It took her a second to realize it was her own. It was resting on rough gauze wrapped—she followed it with fingers trembling weakly—all the way around her neck a few times and over her shoulder, running under her arm. The movement made her head swim and she held it tightly, squeezing her eyes shut and waiting for the dizziness to subside. The sound of laughter made her realize she wasn’t alone.

A bleary memory stirred in the depths of her mind and she turned her head to the side, but there was no one there. Was there supposed to be? She frowned in confusion and, wincing, struggled to lift herself up with her elbows. The room she was in was dark and a little chilly, but thick, scratchy blankets poured from her shoulders as she rose and she realized someone had piled them there to sweat off a fever. Had she been feverish? Had she imagined that—what had it been? A boy?

No. No, she knew she hadn’t imagined him because as she pulled herself to a half-sitting position she saw him crouched down at the foot of her—futon? Was that what she was on?—playing with something in his arms. He was turned away from her, and all Misty could see was a head of messy black hair, a dark jacket, and dark blue jeans. He was hard to make out in the soft glow coming from—the floorboards? She looked down. Between cracks in the wooden floor she could see the tops of caged Pokémon. She gasped when she saw one occupied by the Ariados that had Attacked her.

The boy heard her and turned suddenly, a grin still on his face and a heavily bandaged Totodile—her Totodile!—laughing in his arms, but she saw neither. Her gaze focused immediately on his eyes, though it flickered briefly over the sunglasses perched above his bangs. His eyes...they were wrong. Something was horribly wrong with them. Stories...she had heard horror stories of eyes like those, of demons and angels and Pokémon and humans and...and now he was frowning at her, the smile gone. So were the eyes, hidden once again behind dark glasses, a finger resting on the corner were he had pushed them down.

This time Misty fainted. It was much longer before she awoke.

When she did she sat up immediately, then held her head as a wave of ache smashed through it. Her mind swam with visions of demons and sunglasses and spiders...she couldn’t concentrate on anything for more than a moment. But a single thought managed to burst through the clogged sea of memories and she quickly looked around in fright. Where was that dark-haired boy? Was he near? Was she dead? Did he kill her?

But this large, many-bedded room’s walls were lush green wallpaper, not cold grey stone or dark, unfinished wood, and beneath her was a warm, feathery bed, not a haggard futon and piles of blankets. She frowned and surveyed the rest of the room. Dark wooden dressers and tables lined the walls; thriving flowers of every kind and color imaginable dotted vases, corner shelves, mirror frames, and hanging pictures; rosy pink washing bowls, pitchers, and plates littered the dresser tops and fluffy light pink towels piled atop one another in any spaces left. A lavish maroon border, edged a rich gold and run through by an elegant green vine, ran along the walls against the ceiling and complimented the thick down comforter tucked all around Misty’s sore form. Misty recognized this room. It was Delia Ketchum’s hospital-dorm, a makeshift emergency room for any humans who were injured during Training. It was run by Delia Ketchum herself, the youngest daughter of the former headMaster. Four large empty beds ran along one wall, three dressers with mirrors along the other. She was in the last bed. Delia was nowhere in sight.

But how had she gotten here? Had someone found her? Had that strange boy brought her here? Why? She looked down at herself, peeling away the sheets and blankets until she got to her side. Her jacket was gone, but her shirt was still there, though clearly bloodstained and torn where the Ariados’s spine and pierced her. Misty was surprised by the size of the dry, crackly orangish stain on her light blue shirt, and by the ripped portion. The entire bottom half of her shirt was in tatters.

Beneath it lay soft, fresh linen bandages, not rough gauze like before, and the same wrapped professionally around her neck. Misty poked at the wound tenderly and gasped in surprise as a fierce pain shot all through her torso. She bit back stinging tears and resisted the urge to massage it. She'd forgotten that Ariados poison left human skin extremely sensitive. She would have to be more careful where she put her hands.

But where was Delia? Misty pulled herself up the rest of the way and looked around, stretching her feet out underneath the heavy comforter—and met a warm weight with her knees. She looked down sharply. There was a Pikachu curled up beside her right leg, just above her knee. Her nudge had woken it up, and it stretched languidly and yawned, arching its back and ruffling its bright yellow fur in a shiver that rolled from the tips of its ears to its long, ropey tail. Then it sat like a cat might and looked up sleepily at her, eyes widening when it saw her awake. She was staring at it with a mixture of curiosity and confusion. She recognized those chocolate eyes...

“Pikachupi!” it exclaimed suddenly, leaping to all fours and wading happily toward her through the mound of comforters. “Pi pikachu pi! Pikachu pikachu!”

Misty couldn’t help but smile at its obvious relief. She reached out a hand and stroked its soft head as it perched high on her thigh, arching gleefully into her tough. “And who are you?” she asked, wishing she spoke Pikachu. “One of Delia’s helpers?”

“Chu,” it shook its head. “Pika pi Pikapi. Pika pikachu pika pi?” It pointed at her wounds. Misty recognized the phrase and tone, but she still had no idea what it'd said. She’d never Trained a Pikachu before.

“I’m sorry, little guy, but I can’t understand you, and my head really hurts. What do you want?”

“Pika pikachu pika pi?” it repeated, and looked up at her, still pointing.

“Am I okay?”

“Pi!” it grinned, lowering its forepaw. “Pi, Pikachupi!” Misty grinned weakly back.

“I think so. Where’s Delia? How did I get here? What did—were you in there with that Ariados? Hey— hey, wait! Don’t go!”

But it was too late. The Pikachu briefly touched noses with her and then bounded effortlessly to the floor, disappearing under the bed beside Misty’s, the third in the row from the door. Misty watched the bed carefully, but it didn’t reappear. She frowned. Had it left the room? Was there a window somewhere? Was the hospital-dorm connected to the outside?

The sound of an opening door brought Misty’s attention to to the only one in the room, and she watched quietly as an auburn-haired woman in her early forties backed through it, a tray of pitchers, cups, bowls, and spoons balanced in her arms. When she turned and saw Misty she grinned and set the tray on a nearby dresser, kicked the door closed, and dragged a foldable stand through the narrow gap between the beds and dressers over to Misty, where she gently deposited the tray she had carried in. She immediately began mixing things from unfamiliar bottles.

“So you’re awake,” she said cheerfully, glancing at Misty between measurements. “That’s a good sign. Some people don’t wake up for days after an Ariados bite, if ever.”

Misty gasped, and her head rolled in shock. “How did you know?” Had she been talking in her sleep?

Delia winked slyly at her. “A little black birdie told me—and a very worried one at that. It’s not often a poisonous Pokémon like that one gets out of its cage and nearly kills someone. Here, drink this—all of it, in one gulp like a shot or your throat will never accept it.”

Misty took the small cup and did as she was told, her mouth twisting into a grimace as the freezing liquid tore at her throat like tiny knives. She handed the cup back and accepted some water, which helped wash it down a little. “How do you feel?” Delia asked when she was done. Misty had to clear her throat several times before she could respond.

“Better. Achy. My side’s really bad and I’m still a little groggy. And my head really hurts. How long have I been asleep?”

Delia had gone back to measuring something again. “Oh, about three days. Not bad, considering. Bigger men than you don’t wake up at all. Here, you can drink this one more slowly, but it still won’t taste good.”

Misty’s head whirled painfully as she sipped at the foul-tasting Potion. Three days? But that meant— all those lessons she had missed—her Pokémon locked in their Pokéballs in her room—her Totodile Mew knows where...And the new patron for the stadium arriving tomorrow! The headMasters would want everyone at their best, and here she was sipping Potions in Delia’s dorm! Dammit, she had planned on using those three days to prepare...

“One more,” Delia said finally, and handed her a large spoon. “It’s a sleeping drought, to help heal the last of your injuries more quickly so you can be out of here by the time the new patron comes tomorrow. Drink up and rest easy for a while.”

Misty didn't want to, she knew she had dozens of things to do and shouldn't allow herself to simply sleep through them, but if passing out was the only way to get rid of this splitting headache she supposed she could make an exception. She was holding the spoon to her lips and had nearly swallowed the Potion when she realized she was missing something important. “Wait. Delia, how did I get here? Did someone find me? Do the headMasters know what happened?” Did they know she was in a containment room illegally? If they did, she might be suspended. Her stomach lurched.

Delia smiled kindly at her and patted her arm soothingly. “Don't worry dear, they don’t know what happened. All they know is that you had a run-in with a wild Ariados—I believe they’ve sent out search parties for it.”

“But how did I get here? Who found me? And how do you know where I was, then?”

Delia's smile twisted and a mischievous twinkle lit her deep brown eyes. “As I said before, dear, a little black birdie. Now drink up. I’ve other things to tend to.”

Misty gulped down the burning liquid with a gasp, her mind still running over Delia’s quizzical answer. A little black birdie? What did that mean? a Murkrow? A wild one? In the Stadium? But there were no wild Pokémon here— wait. Could that Pikachu have had something to do with it? But it was yellow...

“Delia, when I woke up, there was a Pikachu on my bed...a brown-eyed Pikachu...But it ran off...” Delia helped her lie down as her head suddenly loomed with sleepiness. “Do you know where...Is it wild?”

Delia smiled kindly at her. “Not wild, dear, but not exactly tame. You thank that Pikachu if you ever see him again, all right? Now sleep. Your muscles need the rest.”

Misty found herself obeying, and once again felt her mind slip into oblivion.