Locked Away Chapter 67
"...This was a disaster... I'm so sorry..." James whispered into the ocean air, staring sadly into the distance.
Unaware of who he was talking to in her groggy state, Misty barely heard him. The boat ride was the worst few hours of her life. She could not discern how long they were in the boat for, or when the wails of the two battling pokemon dissipated into echoes over the ocean because she was entranced by the rise and fall of Ash's chest. Her fingers untangled the knots in his black hair, waiting for a response. Meanwhile, togetic sat away from the two of them, loyally watching until he could see the battle no more.
Near her, Jessie and James talked among themselves in whispers. Jessie, despite her wobble, seemed to recover quickly. When she tried to talk with Misty, the latter didn't listen, or couldn't. Between the shock and her hand on Ash's chest, Misty's sole aim was to keep her own emotions and pain buried into the pit of her stomach.
Unfortunately, that shut her off from the trio.
For the time being, Misty wasn't planning. She wasn't thinking about the next step. For once, she focused solely on the present. On surviving the moment.
Ash wouldn't open his eyes, despite her calling to him, despite the gentle brushing of his hair.
It was killing her. It was like she was reliving that stupid walk from the Viridian Forest into the city, repeatedly. Only, she was on a boat, in terrible condition herself, barely keeping her own eyes open. The world was on fire around her, encased in endless darkness, despite the insistent morning glow. The brightness felt so wrong—she would have preferred the pitch-black storm clouds that funneled over the prison. At least, they matched her mood. Not a bright, noon-day sail, like everything was okay.
Tears stung her eyes again, but she stifled them.
Everything went so terribly wrong.
The entire prison was destroyed. She was mind-controlled and turned on her friends. Giovanni hadn't been the real mastermind, despite being inherently bad, and Mewtwo was easily defeated by Ho-oh. Lugia was dead and they weren't sure what was going to happen to charizard... and Ash was unconscious and barely breathing. Yes, they 'won'. Mewtwo and Giovanni were gone, but their successes were stomped out by the dread of their failures. This didn't feel like a victory.
Just wake up, please. Misty urged, placing her hand over Ash's forehead. He didn't have a damn scratch on him again. He was a walking man of iron behind a skin of flesh, and yet, he was so pale. She hated it when he was pale, it brought her back to that small hospital room that he slept in for ten years.
Eventually, when togetic could no longer see the battle, he joined pikachu, sleeping at Ash's side. Both of the pokemon had battled harder than they ever had in their lives, and they were exhausted. Psyduck, who was usually clumsy, finally slept beside Misty. His breathing offered little comfort to the young woman right now. Misty tried to imagine what Ash would say, or do in this situation but thought of none. What could she do, that she wasn't already? Moving him on an injured gyarados would be far too dangerous and the boat was already going as fast as it could in their circumstances. Patience, she had to have patience and yet the very thought of just sitting here while Ash died made her want to cry all over again.
Her eyes burned from the saltwater and tears, but she kept them open for as long as humanly possible. Even after exhaustion gripped her and lulled her into sleep, her fingers never left Ash's chest or his hair. Hoping if he woke, she would know right away.
Misty's slumber was dreamless and full of unrest. Nothingness in every direction. She would have loved to imagine a peaceful world, with Ash there, and her friends... but she felt nothing but the cold, and she curled up so tightly, her body was clammy. Even though she slept, she was exhausted. More anxious. The boat rocked less, and birds chirped in a foggy distance alongside a thud of the boat's exterior hitting something solid.
"Call an ambulance!" Misty heard the shrill voice of a woman, followed by the guttural panic of a man who scurried.
People. It was people. One at a time, Misty pried her eyes open, her head stooped low enough that her upper back ached. Blurry vision at first, she blinked her eyes clear several times to get a better look at Ash. His chest still rose and fell. His face remained lifeless. Misty smacked her lips, needing to reply. To show that she was alive, but she was so tired. When the boat braced against the dock, she brought her eyes to survey for Jessie, James or meowth... but she saw no one.
She turned her head to the side, straightened her back. Psyduck collapsed beside her, rolling with the motion of the waves, and she narrowed her glance at the control room.
Not a single soul besides she and Ash, and their pokemon.
Bitterly, she kept the worst thoughts at the back of her mind and chomped down on her lip until the new pain replaced the one in her shoulder and back.
"Dear, dear." The woman said, taking an unsteady step into the boat. She was dressed in hip-waders for the water. She knelt beside Misty who immediately shook her head, eyes red with tears when the woman reached for Ash.
"No," Misty answered, biting back on the hitch in her voice.
"It's all right, help is on the way. Can you tell me what happened?"
And despite the tears that welled into her eyes, at the supposed betrayal of her friends and their abandonment, and the barely living body beside her, Misty tried to reiterate what happened, to the best of her ability.
Mostly, she spoke in tongue. Misty's words made little sense as she jumped from one sentence to the next, trying to help the woman as she checked on Ash. Misty used the moment to return psyduck and talk about charizard, and Mewtwo. She babbled like a crazy person, mentioning fire, and dead bodies, and Lugia, and then the tears when she mentioned Ash falling, and her friends that left them. Despite the woman's attempt to calm Misty down, she shook with sadness and curled up. Still holding onto Ash in fear of what could happen if she let go.
By the time the ambulance arrived, which felt like an eternity, they were as concerned for Misty as they were for Ash—if not, according to one that couldn't get her to remove herself from his side—more so because she was in shock. Before Misty realized what was happening, she was whisked into the same ambulance as Ash. Once she was seated in an uncomfortable plastic seat, perpendicular to Ash, they put a very uncomfortable plastic mouthpiece over her face and told her to breathe and to calm down. The man held her wrists, which were cut up, not unlike the rest of her, and tried to ask her what happened to her, but she hadn't the strength to relay it again.
How is Ash? Is he okay? She asked herself instead until the two men finally looked to one another and her vision started getting blurry. They were using gas on her. Something in the mask. They were trying to drug her! Holding her breath, Misty tried to pull it off, but the emergency response member held her still.
"You're in shock, you need to calm down before you injure yourself." To which Misty replied by kicking at him until the vapor they forced her to breathe in made her body weak.
Misty opened her eyes to a world with flat grass, a few flowers, and a starry sky, despite it looking like daylight. She didn't move, didn't want to. Her heart hurt as much as her head, but here, her body didn't hurt nearly as much.
"Are you alright, Misty?"
Her eyes closed, again. Ash.
His voice broke slightly, "Misty." He teased, poking her in the side. She felt nothing.
"No." She answered through dry lips, then stared up at him. He leaned over her, his face warm like summer, brown eyes full of life and excitement. He wore the red jacket she bought for him and a goofy-looking hat. His hair was too long again, motioned by the low ponytail he pulled it back with, but his smile was wide and affectionate. Her stomach tightened, and her eyes watered.
"Are you...?" She asked first, and foremost.
He answered by smiling, and his rough fingers brushed her hair out of her face. The familiar touch made her flinch slightly when he ran his fingers down her jaw, and then her shoulder until he was holding her hand, which had been clasped over her stomach.
"You need to wake up." Ash smiled, lips tugging slightly to show his teeth. Lopsided grin and all, she wished she wasn't dreaming. "You can't stay here."
He squeezed her hand.
"You know why."
Misty's eyes fluttered again, this time, to a painfully bright, white room. Her body hurt everywhere, and the mask over her face cut into her nose. Immediately, the bandages around her body were horribly noticeable by the itch they left. Her shoulder was sore and nearly unmovable, her stomach felt pinned to the uncomfortable bed, and her head was a ten-pound weight. Not to mention the six-thousand needles poked into her body. She felt like she had been dragged through the mud and left to die.
The warmth and weight on her hand, however, felt real. Without thinking, her heart skipped, and she turned the best that she could. Ash, it had to be Ash.
...but it wasn't.
Brock held her hand, staring at her wide-eyed, for the first time in her life. She saw the deep hues of his iris, and despite the initial disappointment, she had never been happier to see the man in her life, and a small smile tugged at her lips.
"Mis..." He inhaled, "Misty. You're awake."
"Misty!" came the combined squeal beside her, and she only now realized how tired she was, because moving her eyes that distance felt like a chore.
Her sisters squealed beside her bed, but not in that annoying way when they were shopping, but in a grateful-released way. All three of them stared down at her and ran together to her side. Daisy was crying. She always cried. She put her head down to Misty's chest and the warm tears made Misty's own eyes tear up. If she could speak, she would have told them how wonderful it was to see them-how much she missed them these last few months. It felt like it had been years and she had so much to tell them... however, she couldn't really speak, so every word was important. Misty swallowed, turned to Brock.
"...Ash?" She managed, but when Brock's joy vacated his eyes, her entire body swayed into motion again. She moved her arms quickly—too quickly. Her sisters hadn't expected a woman in her condition to move so fast.
Misty removed her mask, sat up, and ripped out one IV before the nurse rushed into the room and pinned her back onto the bed by her shoulders. Blood oozed from the open puncture in her arm and the nurse shouted for help while a wave of vertigo hit Misty. Ears ringing, she was spinning in a room that she was sure wasn't spinning. Floating, felt like she was floating.
Did they inject her with something or was her body having a meltdown?
She couldn't tell, but the soft, relaxing voices of her friends and family became incomprehensible.
Someone kept screaming 'going into shock', but it sounded so far away. Further each time Misty tried to focus on it, her mind pulled away faster until there was nothing again, and she sat in the emptiness of her mind and curled up silently.
When she awoke next, it was far less exciting. The room was empty and dark. The light didn't hurt her eyes. Her mouth was dry, and the mask on her face was gone. Free to lick her lips, she did. She sucked in the smokey air and willed herself to look around. Basic room, with white walls and pink curtains. She was in a hospital, which she hadn't been able to determine before. Her mind was so foggy.
Her hands hurt, as did the bend of her arm. A slow beep sounded beside her, and the drip of the IV bag in the silence brought her attention down to her body. She was covered with a thin, white blanket, but worst of all, her hands were buckled down to the bed-rails that cradled her like a crib.
Slowly, the memories came rushing back; back in the ambulance when she threw the oxygen tank when they separated her and Ash. They thought she would sleep because of the medication they gave her... but it didn't last. It took two men to bring her into the hospital. They injected several tranquilizers into her bloodstream.
They took pikachu and togetic.
They asked who she was—but it didn't matter, one person recognized her.
Waterflower! Misty Waterflower!
Misty groaned quietly, wishing she could rub the pain away from her temples. Recalling that when she first arrived at the hospital, despite her drowsy state, they tried to explain that Ash had to go for tests, and her mind and body were in a state of severe shock, and they needed her to relax or things could go very badly for her. She couldn't relax because her head split open like an earthquake. Her entire body felt like it was on fire. They took Ash, much to her dismay, but in her original hysteria, she couldn't even move. The doctors sent her for several tests but she couldn't have been awake for more than half of them. Misty only vaguely remembered the one where they pumped a warm liquid into her body and put her into a loud machine. Her head felt heavy trying to remember, so she stopped.
Misty swallowed hard against the lump in her throat, and clenched her fists, feeling the tension throughout her body worsen. She was safe, but where was Ash? She pulled on the restraints a bit, testing their strength. Testing her strength. She had none to break out, and no way to click the nurses call button... so instead, she screamed.
A wicked, croaking scream escaped and she tried to kick her feet. Soon, two nurses came to her aid. One ran to the IV bag, and the other came to her side, whispering at her. Their words sounded muddled and distorted and Misty shook her head. She was fine! She just needed to get up!
"You'll hurt yourself if you get up. You need to calm down. You need to rest."
"Stop telling me to calm down!" Misty roared as the nurse placed another injection into the IV bag that worked immediately. Misty's will to fight subdued and her eyes felt heavy. They opened to see the nurse, glared at her. Swear at her. Closed again for only a second, and opened again to see the black room closing around her. When she couldn't force her eyes open again, dread sat on her chest and even though she tried to squirm, her body wouldn't move.
Stop it, stop it! She wanted to scream as the embrace of blackness took its hold around her body once more. She closed her eyes...
For only a second.
The darkness gripped her, swaddled her in discomfort and begged her to stop moving so much. Pleaded with her body to stop resisting, and yet, she couldn't. She wouldn't. It couldn't happen again. She forced her eyes open, and the room was bright. The sun gleamed behind the curtains. Daylight already?
Surprisingly, she felt settled amid the new day. Even though her chest was tight, and her stomach knotted, she felt a smidge better. She had only been out for a few seconds, she thought—but in reality, it had been much longer than that.
So much longer. Images of fire and blood paraded through her mind and she squeezed her eyes shut to make them go away.
"Misty..." Daisy's soft voice tried to soothe her. "You're awake. Please don't panic like last time. You're safe." Immediately she added, stroking her sister's hand. "You're both safe."
Slowly, Misty turned her green eyes to the face of a tear-stained blonde. She glowed in the sunlight. Misty's shoulders instantly relaxed, as if that was the only phrase Misty needed to hear. With softer eyes, Misty nodded and the fight left her body and eased her into a state of minor relaxation. The weight on her chest lifted, and she bitterly squeezed Daisy's hand in support while Lily and Violet circled around to sit beside Daisy and reach for her hand. Misty couldn't help but smile.
Together again. She had never been happier to see her sisters.
Apparently, when Misty and Ash were found at the Celadon bay, she was so severely disturbed, that she hadn't realized how injured she really was. The emergency response team fought with her the entire trip to the hospital, and she was so resistant to the medication, she fought the hospital staff. However, as soon as the staff recognized who she was—the supposed deceased, newest Elite Four member—they contacted her sisters, and the temporary leader of Kanto to alert them.
It didn't take long for the news to pick up her story, and the incoherent nonsense she shared with the woman that found them on the boat. Luckily, she wasn't awake enough to answer their questions during the week she was in and out of consciousness at the hospital. Even when the doctors attempted to discuss her future therapy plan and her and Ash's transfer to Saffron City hospital, she kept her mind focused on Ash. They insisted that she need to think about herself, as she would need a few months of therapy, and she had nerve damage, and...honestly, she didn't care. She didn't hurt nearly as bad as she did at that prison, and to her, that was a victory.
Brock was far more helpful than the doctors—or her sisters. While the latter tried to tiptoe around the events that took place recently, Brock filled her in without sparing a detail. They took out Lance and the tower. He retold the story about how Dawn found and brought Iris here, who was now running the show in the absence of an actual Kanto leadership, but most importantly, how the citizens rejoiced that Misty was, in fact, alive. People remarked her prior 'outbursts' that the former Elite Four deemed as insanity, as the truth. The public wanted her to speak to them—as did Iris. Yet, Brock was very insistent that Misty wasn't ready for that. She didn't disagree.
However forthcoming Brock was about current events, Misty didn't return the favor. She did not tell him what happened at the prison. She couldn't. Thinking about it made her whole body hurt again. Instead, she asked him what happened at Viridian Forest, and if they had seen the Sevii islands.
"...The flames in the Viridian forest have been extinguished... but..." He trailed off. "No one can get close to the island. It's buried in a mountain of fire."
Misty's shoulders deflated. She shouldn't have been surprised that it was on fire and that it was the least of Kanto's concerns at the moment. They had entirely too much political nonsense to worry about over an old, retired facility that was supposed to have been out of use.
With all of her questions nearly answered by the end of the first week, and some stability returning to her mind, Misty only had one request remaining.
"I want to see him."
"You can't leave your bed, Misty."
Misty reached for his wrist before he pulled away. With, large, pleading green eyes, she shook her head.
"Please." She begged.
Misty was stronger than Brock thought. She picked herself up and fell into a wheelchair pretty effectively. With each day, she was getting better movement in her body. Time may have been fleeting, and she slept a lot, and she hurt like hell constantly, but she was strong. Strong enough to get past this.
"Misty...It's just..." Brock started, but Misty already knew.
She had the gut instinct from the moment James rescued him from the water. The familiar memory was all too painful, and she knew before they went through the door to his hospital room, before her eyes found Ash laying on a bed, with a tube down his throat, an oxygen mask over his face, and his arms hooked to several machines. Misty covered her face bitterly but willed the tears away. Brock shut the door quietly behind them when Misty stood in front of her chair and brushed the black hair from Ash's face.
He was pale, and cold to the touch. His heart monitor beeped beside her vehemently, and the whirl of the oxygen tank filled her ears by the time she was sitting again, with her head down beside his IV-infested hand.
Brock's large hand found the curve of her shoulders and rested there, but it offered no comfort to the horrible iciness in her chest.
"...No..." She whined and gripped Ash's hand.
Walking the streets of some old town...
Ash turned his head, looking around the small, vintage diner.
"You alright, there? You dozed off for a minute." Serena's voice pierced his ears eloquently, as he looked down at his companions, who still aimlessly scratching at ideas and plans, and he ate his chocolate sundae.
"Uh..." he muttered, his voice young and raspy. "Yeah. I must have spaced out." He smiled to her with a wide ten-year-old smile and took another bite of ice cream, blissfully unaware.
Happy New Year! I thought I would get this done before the end of this year, but then time gets away from you!
I tried my best to show the process of shock through Misty's eyes. Clearly someone who went through what she just did would be very shaken up, and it was a good way to progress the story without taking on another POV outside of Ash or Misty (especially since Ash is unconscious). I asked a couple of nurses about how patients who have suffered a severe 'trauma' situationally or physically and tried to pick the pieces that worked best, so I hope this is okay. Also, yes, of course, this story was going to end with Ash in a Coma-it's the Coma theory (No matter how far away from that concept it seems we've branched)! C'mon!
See you next year (2020)