Joined: 23 March 2012
Chapter 41: Damsel in Distress…
[Not proofed yet]
He walked to his room and locked the door against her threatened intrusion before going to lie down on the bed.
He closed his eyes and lay there for a while, wishing for sleep that now refused to come. The pillow felt lumpy and hard and the mattress felt as it would give away. He kept expecting to fall through it at any moment.
He closed his eyes and his sister's image rose in his mind. She was smiling as she had always done. He tried to focus on the image, but the more he focused, the more it blurred… it blurred until it disappeared… instead, he saw an image of her as a four year old trying to pick him up and hold him. The image spun out of view and another emerged of her trying to not let anyone else near him at his first party. Then it too was gone and another rose of his mother trying to pull him away from his sister while he tried to hold onto her hair. His sister was crying out in pain and his father was trying to distract him. He squeezed his eyes shut to focus in on his parents, but their images remained hazy… unclear… then, it too disappeared and another emerged. It was a boy just a few years older than Nalan standing next to a smiling girl. There was a petulant child in the boy's arms who seemed quite entitled… entitled to her brother's arms, her sister's smile, and her own sulking. The image was in black and white and he stared at at the little girl's big round eyes for a while until it changed into the flashing ones that had blurred with tears for him and held him in her arms all night so that he could sleep in peace unlike any he had known in ages…
His eyes snapped open suddenly.
Without pausing to question why, he unlocked the door and ran out into the hallway and then to the windows where Pallavi played her veena every morning.
Pallavi was there, just like she was every morning, but her back was turned to him and she appeared to be struggling to hold something.
"Wha…" he started and she turned around.
Kashi was in her arms, unconscious.
He rushed towards them and took Kashi's weight onto himself as Pallavi said, "I don't know what happened. She was here when I got here. She looked tired so I started to ask her about it, but just as I reached her side, she fainted."
"She didn't sleep last night." He said without thinking. It took Pallavi's silence for him to look up.
"I didn't mean it that way. Nothing happened. She just didn't sleep." He didn't know how he knew that Kashi hadn't slept, but he offered it anyway in the way of an unsatisfactory excuse as he swung Kashi into his arms.
"I think she's running a fever, Arnav." Pallavi said just as he noticed her spiked temperature.
"I'll take her to my room. It's closer. Can you bring me some cold water and a compress?" He asked and started walking to his room without waiting for an answer.
He heard Pallavi rush off and reached his room within moments, laying her down on his bed.
She looked so still that he fought the urge to slap her hard to make her wake up and instead held two fingers to her wrist until he could detect a weak pulse.
"Check on me, my ass!" he muttered as as he sat by her side and took her cold hand in between his to rub warmth in.
"Snobby little know-it-all. Mocking me when she can't even stand on her two feet." He took her other hand in between his to do the same.
She showed no reaction.
He fought rising panic as he pulled her up into his arms in a sudden motion that had her head rolling back like a rag doll's. He grasped the back of her neck in alarm.
"Come on! Wake up! Wake up Kashi!"
Her eyes remained closed and her breathing slow and even. There was no other response.
"Wake the hell up! Or I swear to God, I will kiss you so much that your poor father will expire on the spot! Wake up!" He shook her hard this time.
"You're too rough, Raizada." He heard the croaky whisper and pulled back to look at her.
For a moment he was too relieved to speak, but then brought her hand up and pressed his lips into the center of her palm.
"I am not that easy to kill, you know." He heard her say and looked up to see a half-smile on her face.
"Between all the midnight action you have been getting, a girl's got to faint to get some shut-eye." She added, schooling her features into seriousness as she started to rise from the bed.
"You're not moving." He said as he pushed her back on the bed.
She started to resist but then they bothered heard Pallavi's footsteps outside the bedroom and she fell back on the bed on her own.
"She did not wake?" Pallavi asked and he looked back to see that Kashi's eyes were now closed.
He looked back up at Pallavi and raised an eyebrow.
He saw her look at her sister's still form for a moment and then looked back at him with a smile.
She walked closer to him and passed the cold water and compress to him. "She will wake on her own. This sort of thing happens to her all the time. She is quite the damsel in distress, you know, Arnav?"
If nothing else, the girl was predictable in taking the bait, and her eyes opened with a flash.
Pallavi laughed and leaned in to kiss Kashi's forehead. "Ingane rathri urakkamillathe nadannal, nee enne veruthe thee teettum. Innu nannayi visramikkanam." (If you roam around at night without sleep like this, you'll scare me half to death. Get a lot of rest today.)
"Ichechi ente koode nikkille innu? Thala karanginnokke paranja athra nissarallatto." (Won't you stay with me today, di? This fainting stuff is not that simple, you know?)
He saw Pallavi look at him and then saw Kashi look at him as well. He raised an eyebrow again and saw Pallavi look back at Kashi. "Ninakkoru kuzhappom varilla. Enikku innu ravile lecture ullatha penne. Vainneram kanam. Anneram vare urangikko." (You will be fine. I have a lecture this morning. I will see you in the evening. Rest until then.)
He missed the entire exchange between the sisters, not that they cared to elucidate.
Pallavi smiled at him again and stroked Kashi's hair back before leaving the room.
He looked back at Kashi.
She gave an exaggerated yawn and fell back on the pillow.
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