There was a big difference between a Pit fight and one on the street.
No one wanted to see a bloodless Pit fight. No one wanted to see a fight that was over in a few short seconds. No one wanted to waste money betting on a fighter that skewed the odds too steeply in their favor. Sure, now and then they'd toss in some wild card obstacle or challenge just to keep things interesting, but for the most part, Rai had learned what to expect when he stepped into a pit. Two on two, nothing in but you and your pokemon, and brace for a lot of pain.
This was a world apart. The smoke from the explosion stung his eyes, and people and pokemon alike seemed to just keep materializing out of the shifting haze. Every time Rai landed a punch, two more rebounded right back at him. He heard the whistling of something swinging through the air and turned just in time to catch a pipe with his hip. He blindly grabbed for the improvised weapon out of instinct and ripped it away from its owner, but not before ramming it forward into what he hoped was their gut.
His first swing connected too solidly to be anything but someone's, or something's, skull. Rai felt the hollow ringing, almost more than he heard it. He saw a familiar jet of flame cut through the jumbled chaos, and panicked scream as smaller flames dropped erratically to the ground near him. Rai blindly stomped down hard, in the center of the flickering fires, and was rewarded with the "whumph" of air leaving lungs. The satisfaction was short-lived, however, as something lunged at him from the smoke and clamped down hard on his arm.
Rai screamed in pain as the bones in his arm started to creak under the pressure, and brought the pipe down over and over onto what he hoped was the head of the furred pokemon that had his limb locked in its jaws. One solid blow finally freed him, as the pokemon let go with a high pitched cry. His entire arm throbbed mercilessly and suddenly felt far heavier than he'd recalled a moment before. His fingers refused to curl back into a fist on that hand, even as someone else's collided with his own jaw hard enough to send Rai sprawling to the ground.
A boot sank into his middle, and the rush of air leaving his own lungs brought the metallic taste of copper to his mouth. Rai smashed the pipe hard into the side of his attacker's knee and heard the bastard join him on the ground with a pained howl. Rai had to swallow more than once to keep his stolen dinner down while his innards rebelled at their violent treatment, all the while trying to refill his lungs with air. He could still hear more of them around him too. He'd only counted a handful of them, but it felt like there were dozens now. Adrenaline was only helping so much to keep him going too. The shot to his hip made it hard for him to do much more than get back to his knees, and with one arm hanging uselessly at his side with the other still clutching his makeshift weapon... His bruised guts twisted into hard knots as the creeping realization settled in that he wasn't going to come out on top of this.
Rai grit his teeth in a last bid to get upright once again, when he heard Kye bellow a warning. He only just saw the flash of golden yellow out of the corner of one eye, and the halo of fire that surged toward it. His muscles twitched in vain to move his body out of the way but only succeeded in pitching him forward into the ground, as their urban battleground lit up with unnatural light.
Rai tried to scream as his every nerve suddenly came to life at once, but nothing obeyed him anymore. He was a passenger in his own body, unable to do anything but ride out the waves of static that overloaded his nervous system. He was vaguely aware of the smell of something burning nearby when it finally stopped. He couldn't stop the tremors in his muscles or force them to relax from where they'd locked themselves in place. Kye's snout dropped into his field of view, frantically nudging at his head and shoulders. He could just make out the vague outline of a bolt shaped tail laying limply alongside the still smoldering body laying a few yards away, as Kye planted himself protectively across Rai's own prone form.
He wanted to tell his pokemon to run, leave, do anything but stay and fight a losing battle. But the shallow, wheezing breaths Rai was able to take barely filled his lungs and left nothing for him to call out to his pokemon. He tried frantically to shove Kye away, or at least get his attention, but it was like trying to get his attention from the other side of a brick wall."Don't worry. You're both coming with us."
If he'd have been able to move his head, Rai would have tried to find where on Earth the crystal clear voice he'd just heard came from. Judging by the way Kye above him tensed ever so slightly, his pokemon had heard it too. Panic and fear set in all at once at the very notion they were being taken anywhere until the voice calmly spoke again as a bizarre tingle swept across them both."It's ok. We'll be safe."
It was a strange sensation, that his body suddenly felt weightless, even if he couldn't move it himself. Someone certainly was, because the chaos that had enveloped them moments before suddenly seemed so very far away. Rai felt the edges of his vision starting to darken and fade, even as he felt the ground slip away, and had no way to fight off the encroaching blackness that threatened to overwhelm him.
Wherever "safe" was, it would have to be good enough for now."I warned you about going outside without a jacket, Raiziel..."
Rai groaned. He just wanted to sleep. The blankets piled on top of him were doing nothing to help warm him up, despite the shine of sweat that continued to bead across his face. He couldn't stop himself from shivering, even though his every muscle ached and his very skin hurt from the shifting contact with his covers.
Yet somehow, the gentle brush of fingers pushing his sticky bangs off his face was soothing. They were pleasantly cool and brought a strange measure of peace to his ailing body. It was enough to coax him to open his bleary eyes, even through the dim light of the room still hurt to look at. Even through unfocused eyes, he recognized his room. The posters on the walls, the mess of carefully sculpted clay pokemon mixed with store bought toys scattered across the top of his dressers, even the disarray of clothes peaking out of his closet where he'd carelessly tossed them instead of hanging them up. Even his pillows smelled faintly of sea salt and the must of ocean air. He scanned the room looking for the source of the gentle voice, quietly chiding him and hiding amusement all at the same time. He found her perched delicately on the edge of his bed, hazel eyes that matched his own looking over him, while errant strands of fell out of the tight bun her uniform demanded to frame her face.
"M...om?" His voice creaked through his sore throat, as a small smile crossed her face.
"I'm sorry to wake you, but you need to take this."
Something wasn't right. Her voice wasn't the same. It had the same calming presence as hers, the confidence, but it wasn't hers. Rai blinked slowly again as the illusion fell away to be replaced by reality. Hazel eyes were really a clear blue-green, and even though her hair was a risher brown, it had been pulled into the same bun he used to be so used to seeing. The room had to belong to a young boy, but it certainly wasn't his. The familiar bungalow walls were really made up of sturdy wooden logs with handmade hangings decorating them. The smell of wood and cooking food were in the air, rather than the metallic tang of the sea.
It all came rushing back to him at once. He'd been in Mauville, not playing in the rain in Olivine. The pain and tremors weren't from a fever, but the aftermath of the fighting that had laid him low. He'd had his ass soundly beaten, and even the subtle shifting of the covers made a pained groan bubble in his throat. He hadn't just been beaten, no, they would have killed him if he hadn't had had someone come to his rescue. Rai could almost taste bile as the twin realizations of where he was and how he'd gotten there hit home.
It was pathetic, but he felt hot tears start to gather at the corners of his vision despite himself, and the most he could do was grit his teeth to hold them and the pain at bay. He wanted to turn away from the woman alongside the bed, but the most he could convince his treacherous limbs to do was twitch and send a fresh wave of pain straight to his brain."Gentle, now. Your nerves are hyperactive and any slight movement will be very painful,"
She cooed softly, pulling a stawfull of liquid from the glass in her hand and holding it to his lips, "Please, try to open your mouth,"
Rai wanted to scream with how helpless he was. Whatever measure of comfort his dazed brain had found in his conjured image of home only amplified the feeling until it might as well have been a fresh wound all over again. All those years lost to the Pits, lost to the single-minded purpose of being able to find a measure of peace in revenge, and here he was being fed medicine a drop at a time because he couldn't even life his damn head."I'm sorry, but this is going to take a while,"
she said. He couldn't tell if she had picked up on his frustration or not. "Just a few more."
He saw Kye's head around the foot of the bed come into view, concern etched into every line on his pokemon's face. He was careful not to crowd around his caretaker, but the fire-type was practically dancing around her to find a spot where he could get closer to check on his trainer. At any other time, Rai might have been impressed with her patience as she finished with him, but the worry on his pokemon's face only served to sour his mood even further. Not even the sweetened syurps of the medicine still coating his tongue were quite able to mask the bitter taste in his mouth now."Just keep resting. Syressa, here, will continue to soothe your nerves,"
She said, easing herself off the bed as slowly as possible, and out of the room to allow Kye to set his snout a few inches away from Rai's elbow. The practiced ease in finding a suitable spot to be as close to Rai as possible without causing him any discomfort made Rai suspect that he'd held vigil for most of the night.
Had he been in control of his body, Rai might have destroyed the bed as his frustration reached a boiling point. Every breathe was sucked through rigidly clenched teeth, as he went to war with his own muscles. He wanted out of this damn bed. He wanted out of this damn house. It didn't matter where he was, but anywhere would be better in that moment. Except, muscles that had been locked in place all night would not be so easily persuaded to move, and his every nerve still felt raw as if it had been left exposed to the air. Just the feeling of the blankets shifting around him was like hot sandpaper against his skin. He could hear Kye chattering and moving hurriedly between the bedside and the door, unwilling to leave Rai's side even as he felt he should get help.
Not that it mattered at all. Rai managed to get a single elbow under him, before his entire body trembled like a leaf caught in a maelstrom, and collapsed back to the bed with a pained groan forced through his nose. Two more attempts got him no further until he had to lay still against the pillows to catch his breath, listening to the faint sounds of the house below.