Chapter 99:

Ch 98. We all lose here

I was Born the Unloved Twin

Good evening imaginary audience in my head. It is I, Rosalia Ventrella. The worst star in any story ever.

Does this scene look familiar?

These bare white walls with no decor or comforts, these fluffy insulated beds, sick child one two, and three? A peaceful and calming scene. Hmmm?

Why yes this is the sickbay of my home and no we haven't gone back in time. I am quite literally trapped in the sickbay, again.

'Sorry' reads the chalk slate help up by the little occupant of the quarantine bed across the room.

I throw a pillow at him, hard. As hard as I can. Then another. I aim and shoot continuously until he's buried in pillows. Which doesn't take long given a primary schooler's size? HE's too far away to smack.

A high speed pillow hits me back from beside my head, nearly knocking me off my bed. When I turn around to yell I recall that I can't. No one can. Because we all breathed in toxic fumes. Painkiller magic aside, it hurts to even breathe let alone speak.

'Pillow fight?' scrawls the messy little slate from my other side, Lukas squeaking and grunting while waving it. Somehow still making noise despite his damaged throat and lungs.

'NO!' I write back.

Then out of spite, I throw another pillow over at what should be Amar underneath the current growing pile. Madly trying to bury him in the feathery fluff.

What's he gonna do next? Dig and disappear from a hole in the bed? How else is he going to sneak out of here? What other kinds of havoc is he going to wreck? This is the only good thing about being locked back in the sickbay again, that this trouble marker is confined.

At least he can't talk right now either. So he can't lie, or trick as Lukas calls it, his way out of this one. Actually, he's in the absolute worst physical condition out of all of us so he really shouldn't.

'Sorry' peeks out a tiny pair of hands out the pillow pile, holding up the slate.

Oh goodie, he didn't disappear from under there just yet. I throw another pillow, aiming for it to show my dissatisfaction. I'd hop over there and smack that slate out of his hands if I could. But I can't. Thus the pillow ammo and throwing.

We're all having a grand old time being bedridden, again.

I just got out of here!

We all just were good to go just this morning and now we're right back in. Not dying necessarily but quite incapacitated. This is, of course, all Amar's fault. If he had just been good and stayed put none of this would have happened, or at least it wouldn't have happened to us.

I would kill him for it if he wasn't already looking like a regular visitor with death.

Amar only stopped coughing up blood a little while ago, an after effect of oh I don't know...running into a burning building of chemical agents! Which is why he's being quarantined solo over there after a Gable approved medicinal bath and all. He's lucky he didn't go into cardiac arrest.

The progress we've made the last few days on his health is shot. He spent far too long breathing shit no one should be breathing. It's far worse and harder to treat in this world than some surface burns. That you can magically potion and paste or apply a salve. Detoxing? Not so much. It's bad enough it's still wrecking his system as I speak and I don't know, pouring out his skin?

It's not but sure why not? Might as well be. The kid got himself drastically poisoned, again.

We all did.

I don't know what else we expected rushing to the scene of the fire. Smokey smokey fire. To be fair I did technically....break and cross the magical safety barrier. Not like Lukas could do that on his own... but it's still all Amar's fault! Yep!

Seeing that I am very angry but with nothing to do in my dizzy confinement I shall now sit here and stew over it. That and I'm out of spare pillows.

Hey hey you down there, toss my pillows back. Don't just hide down there. Amar I know you can still see me and my sign under there, don't ignore me you little shit. Give them back so I can keep hitting you with them.

The pillow pile trembles for a bit, a sign of life, before going still. He's playing dead on me. When I get no response even after tiring my arms out with waving the sign I'm forced to gesture to Lukas to do something. As a bigger and stronger child, despite the poisoning, he can at least retrieve some pillows.

Without even having to write on the slate, Lukas nods, somehow understanding my gestures.

My pleasant surprise does not last long. For it is apparent as he lifts me up high like a pillow to be tossed that he indeed does not understand. I get a split second to be shocked but no time to claw to safety nor stop him.

Little arms fling me thrown across the room, a silent scream caught uncomfortably in my throat.

My landing is soft but uncomfortably face first. It comes with a collapse and small explosion of pillows. A flustered and now exposed Amar quickly pulls my nonthreatening dizzy self further into the remaining pillow fort with him, all without even a blink. Instead, his eyes scan the surroundings as he shakily piles back on the loose pillows as best he can for defense. I have a bad feeling about defense against what. Shaking off the dizzy spell and urge to just yell, not that I can, I clutch tightly to the biggest pillow I can grab before Amar tops us off to bunker down.

The ground, or mattress, shakes and wobbles. A wild cannonball named Lukas comes crashing, bouncing, and bursting through the pillows. He literally jumped over here, on pure mattress momentum and his own legs. These things don't even have springs?

This wasn't what I meant when I motioned to get my pillows back.

The good news is that we knocked the 'sorry' slate out of Amar's hands. However, the excitement, or maybe the repeated blunt force trauma, causes him to start coughing painfully.

Ah great, now I feel awful. I can't attack a weak and pitiful kid like that. Not even with a pillow.

Quick Lukas, reach for some water or at least for the spitting bucket. What if he coughs up blood again?

Please enjoy the fumbling scene of two mochis knocking over themselves and pillows. Lukas and I aren't the most coordinated creatures at the moment. Must be all the nerve damage. Somehow Amar is leagues ahead in that poison damage, coughing and all.

"I assume this means the two of you are feeling much better than expected."

Gable enters the now very heavily guarded sickbay with grace and splendor, despite that furrow to his brow and what may be eye bags. Ah yes, the tired sleep deprived charm, a handsome man at Gable's level can make anything look good. Anything. I feel healed already.

Something that Gable silently disagrees with I'm sure, from the stern laser beams he's shooting with his eyes.

He sees to a teary Amar first, stabilizing that damaging coughing fit before picking up and dropping Lukas and I back to the other side of the room. A gentle but not easy warning telling us to stay put, especially Lukas.

It's for everyone's own good.

The original reason was for our own safety lest we get further poisoned from whatever is lingering in Amar himself. However, it's now apparent that it may be more for Amar's safety than anything. He needs his rest and not to start vomiting blood again.

I understand Lukas with his hard to control energy but why am I being put in the risk group too? I'm not the blunt force trauma behind everything. I'm just the unlucky occasional ammo. ...Okay so maybe I should stop threatening and throwing pillows at Amar. Fine.

For everyone's safety though, I suggest we lock Amar up in here indefinitely? I don't trust this kid or any of these circumstances.

It's just been a danger and things going wrong one after another lately.

The things that I can recall from today alone....after getting a ride with my parents....we were riding off and then...well for one I didn't know mother could ride like that?

It was no surprise that my parents' arrival got the VIP treatment at the troops. The crowds that were there parted and the layers of doorways opened for them with no stall. If it weren't for the emergency situation, I would say it was even amusing to ride a horse straight through everything. What was strange though was the air.

Normally the closer you get to a fire, the smokier the air would get. In this case, the immediate air was clear. Layers of defensive physical and magical barriers separated the scene of the fire from the rest of the camp. Ensuring everyone's safety. The bruise colored fumes were far deadlier than the fire itself, releasing toxic air.

As my father has said, I'm not surprised.

Not surprised at all when we reached as close as my parents' status could get us to, right behind the sealed barrier and safety line, that it was that place up in flames. The same plain building in that previously dark alley was lit up, a giant bonfire. That burning light outshined a fainting glowing isolated funnel barrier that forced the smoke and fumes up and outwards. It was only then that I noticed a dome shield that protected the entirety of the troops' airspace. Toxic smoke rolling up and over, physically showing the safe space of the dome. The contrast of smog and clear air as clear as a snowglobe.

We got off the mounts at the last barrier we could enter without proper protection. People rushed to report to my parents but I hardly heard them. Beyond that were soldiers, responders in masks, and bulky covers that looked more like antique diving suits than anything fireproof.

Another layer of barrier kept them separated from the area of the fire, a buffer zone from the flames and smoke.

It was in that buffer zone, beyond the barrier we were forced to stop at, that I saw it. Not just the collapse of the roof. I saw it on the side.

My father had told me to stay put. Yelled out my name as I did the exact opposite, by running under the crowds and around the side. It was easy to do so, to lose a short small child, in that mess.

"Which way?" shouted Lukas, ducking under legs and catching up to me easily.

"Did you see it? Right before the roof collapsed?!"

"Where all the people were! Something fell from the top."

"Jumped, it was people. Someone jumped."

We ran along the edge of the barrier, trying to get a closer look. Trying to spy a tiny troublemaker in the midst of it all.

It is with both relief and alarm when we finally do.


Even though there was a small gathering of people, it was easy to see a small dirty boy laying on the ground. Nearby I registered a burnt beyond identifying victim receiving urgent medical attention but my eyes were tunneled in on the only child around.

Even covered in soot and burning light all around, it's easy to recognize Amar in the midst of all that. It was almost too easy. It was easy to recognize Vincent, in a half mask and that bulky suit, pressing down repeatedly on that childish frame. He pressed till the Amar hacked up a splatter of blood and them some, messy but breathing.

"Rosa hurry! We almost got him." Lukas called out, and it's from his cry that I realized I had already half stepped through the barrier.

With a stumble and barely a split second to wonder how the hell I did that, I fell over completely. Just plopped my right over the other side of the invisible wall. Maybe fall over and skim my palms in my landing. Wonderful.

"Hey no fair!" knocked Lukas. "Let me in too!!! Rosalia! Hey!"

The kid bashed the barrier for all he's worth, even putting in a headbutt or three to no avail. All it did was made an adorable little knocking sound, like a small pet on the other side of a closed door. Futile in their entry without a human to open it for It was on headbutt number four that I managed to pick myself up and reach a hand back out to him.

As if the barrier was nothing but a holographic light, my hand passed through entirely.

If it was another time I would have played around and experimented with it, how I passed through so easily. But it really really was not the time.

If there is one thing I can rely Lukas on, it's to act first and think later. With a terrible fire reflected grin expanded over his face, he grasped my hand and pulls himself right over. There was a slight resistance when he crossed compared to my easy as air fall but with the both of us pulling and pushing, he made his way over just as well. Too much since we both went rolling on the ground before sprinting towards where Vincent was emergency tending to a reanimated Amar, sitting him up and getting him to breathe through a sea sponge. By sprinting I, of course, meant getting teddy bear pulled along by the speed and force that is Lukas.

The sight of kids, let alone anyone being on the wrong side of the safety barrier caused quite a few pointed fingers. Mostly along the lines of "what are they doing there?!" and "someone get them?". If I heard a panicked scream and curse of my name that sounded oddly like my parents then well...what's done was done.

We got to Amar, we really did.

Saw as he wearily blinked up from sponge and the parting adults, taking in the surroundings. He looked around confusedly after clearly spotting us, a sign of more brain damage I'm sure. He might have even pinched himself from the disbelieving look I saw on his dirty face. As if he wasn't in enough pain. Green eyes bright and grimacing even under all the ash.

"FOUND YOU!" screamed Lukas, flinging the both of us on the obviously injured other child. No one making any move to stop the unexpected rampaging child.

I maybe screamed, due to the trajectory of said fling landing me right into a heavily damaged Amar. Lukas right behind to pile up and crush us both.

"You!-"I barely started.

"Found you cheater! Haha take that! Hide and seeeeeek winner!!! You thought you could trick us but nooooooo. We found you so we won and you lose and-urgh... I don't think I feel so good."

Before I could finish more than a word, Lukas promptly passed out over me in this sad painful kiddy sandwich. He just went from hyper excited to dead in a single beat. Which would have been more concerning if Amar wasn't quite literally dying underneath me.

Even as I make to push the dead weight off, Amar finds his breath enough to forcibly stuff the sponge he was just breathing through practically into my own mouth. Crushing my poor little face with sorry black hands. I recall him yelling at Vincent, most likely to get over the shock of our sudden appearance and get some more of those damn sponges. Sponges that were probably the filter keeping the escaped poison fumes from killing us. Not that I knew it was poison but it was safe to assume and quite obvious from the multi-color flames and the burning original crime scene that was fueling it.

But I was too mad and in sudden pain at that point to think clearly. Maybe already poisoned.

"Rosalia don't get mad? Don't yell? That will be really bad here."

To be fair Amar did try warning me. But I was too busy war crying into the smooshed sponge before ripping it off to smack at him. Repeatedly.

"I leave for one morning, just one morning and what do you do?! Hide and seek!!! How did you get this far?! What?! A fire! Stupid! How do you end up at the scene of a fire? Is that a dead body??? What were you doing in there? Why did you jump from the roof you brain def- urg. It smells...."

"Rosa! Breathe?!"


"Through the sponge? Breathe through the filter!"

"...It's poison again isn't it?"

"Can you stop talking? Vincent, we gotta get them out of here now."

"....I'm... gonna kill you later..."

"Stop talking and keep it to your face! Rosa? Rosa!"

Another point I would like to defend myself with is that Amar is usually much stronger than little old me. I wouldn't be able to normally pull anything away from him, even a sponge, let alone be fast enough to do so. I was also running on adrenaline.

However, I understand and accept that no amount of excuses erases the fact that I stupidly poisoned myself by simply breathing too much.

I soon followed Lukas' wonderful example by passing out right then and there, much to Amar's shaking and sudden coughing. The last conscious thought I had was a mixed pot of unresolved things. From how much trouble I was going to be in with my parents, to how badly I needed a bath after this, and most certainly how to pay back the boys for this lovely game.

Worst round of hide and seek ever.

Which is how we've come full circle to now, right back into the sick bay. All poisoned, again.

When I came to, it was to an even more unpleasant situation. Painfully mute, naked and getting drowned by my own grampa.

Apparently the treatment plan to the extreme carbon monoxide poisoning in kids was a herbal bath. A Gable made concoction of herbs and whatnot that smelled medicinally awful and drew black sludge out from one's body. As if that were a perfectly normal result of a bath.

I mean it technically is....we were getting clean? Ah, thinking about it makes me dizzy. I'm just still very dizzy in general. A whole different sort of bad effects stew compared to the first time I got poisoned by curry.

Being that I am in the body of a toddler, you would think I should be treated with utmost gentleness. Not getting scrubbed and rung like a piece of dirty laundry. But no, that premium treatment was reserved for a then unconscious Amar and absolutely wasted on Lukas. For as my grampa, excited in my wakening, scrubbed me clean of 3 layers of skin in the medicinal bath, Gable was working on a squirming weak Lukas while keeping Amar from slipping under in his sleep.

Modesty does not exist. We were washed and left to soak in our own kiddy pool basins just the same as one would do laundry or clean vegetables.

The shame. I know we're just little mochi kids but oh the shame. Gable must have seen everything and I must now live with this. I must also live with the fact that Lukas senselessly asked why I didn't have 'all my parts'.

Oh the shame. Why didn't grampa drown me when he had the chance? Even worse, no one would let me drown myself, or even bathe myself.

At least one kid was down and out, unconscious to the mess that was the treatment, aka bathtime. Worrying, especially when he let out a red-tinged cough, but what can we do? The examination can come after, health first.

It was interesting to note that the water in each of our vegetable washing basins were different colors. Something grampa assures me was not the case originally. I don't really know what to make of that except for the fact that Lukas and I were wrapped up and sent to the sickbay while Amar kept getting an unknown number of washes. The expelled black sludge tainted his bathwater so quickly that it looked like a pool of tar. He was simply fished out of one dirty bath and right into the next one when the previous one got too thick.

Though we wanted to stay to the end, neither Lukas nor I could voice it. Still can't. We've all been rendered temporarily mute from the smoke. Even though grampa and Gable must have understood our desires, it was still off to bed for us while Amar continued his private treatment.

I wish I could say it looks worse than it is.

I hate how tight-lipped those adults can be sometimes. If I were a real child without any comprehension skills, I would truly be left in the dark. Still, it's an awful chore to have to figure out everything by myself when they could just....tell me?

Despite his energy, I can't say that Lukas seems fine. I'm sure not. But it doesn't seem as bad the curry incident. A lot less pain for one. The signs of a rising fever in addition to the sore chest and throats make it feel as if it's the coming of a bad cold.

"Don't work yourselves up so soon. You'll be feeling much worse tomorrow," warns Gable, tightly tucking Lukas into bed primarily to get him to stop jumping.

'How bad?' I try scribbling, my own body sluggish and still dizzy.

"Not too bad, if you stay good and rest. Properly. All of you" answers Gable, resorting to tying down Lukas with the bedsheets, wrapping him much like a human burrito. Or perhaps a cocoon?

He succeeds but Lukas only fights harder in there, his face going increasingly red not just from the growing fever. In the sheets and weighed down, the boy can only flop uselessly like a little worm. Futile as it may be he sincerely tries getting away from Gable of all things. The blasphemy.

Amar and I watch the show, for lack of anything better to do. That is until my grampa reenters the scene, a corked dark bottle smelling foul even though it's sealed.

"The syrup is ready! Alright, who's first?"

It's futile, all escape attempts will be futile. I know that. But this child's body instinctual fear to horrendously bitter potion syrup is too strong.

'Can we use Lilyanne?' I try scrawling, my handwriting getting increasingly messy.

Amar nods furiously, pointing to my chalk message in agreeance. The fear of bitter and nasty apparently more effective on him than his own wellbeing or fear of terribly dangerous and shady situations. Of course. What a child.

"Can your 3 year old sister do that? Locate and heal what's been damaged in your systems? All on her own? With your constitution Rosalia?" asks Gable with a flat voice.

I feel like I'm being treated as a misbehaving child, and somehow just as equally in trouble as Amar and Lukas. How heartbreaking.

'We can try?' I write out, pulling out the watery puppy eyes to go with it.

Across the room, Amar follows up on his chalk slate with a 'please', looking absolutely pathetic just by being himself, natural puppy eyes and all. Not too far besides me, an unsteadying thumping from a bound Lukas wriggling on the bed, muffled screaming through the pillows. He was much cuter when unconscious and not worming it.

Gable gives us all a flat unamused look before turning that into a glare towards a smiling grampa. Who looks far too cheerful in the situation, Lilyanne flowers practically radiating out of him. But that's grampa for you.

"That means nope! Nothing like a good old fashioned syrup!" grampa sings, pulling out a fearfully large spoon out of nowhere.

Is that...a spoon or a ladle disguised as a spoon? His weapon of choice for the day, and the victims are us sick sad kids. I have a feeling this is also part of the punishment for whatever trouble each of us caused.

"Now! Once again! Who wants to go first?! Aw come up, Gable made it himself!"

Lukas fish flops even more violently in an attempt to escape, surely overheating in there. It seems he would know best just what Gable's homemade medicine tastes like. Magic, in all the bad ways, that much is clear to see.

The more bitter, the more effective the healing. I hate this rule.

It is with great dread and the natural instinct to at least search for an escape that Amar and I make eye contact. We look at each other, then to the tied up Lukas, then back again to slowly nod in agreement before both pointing down to the lucky older child.

"Alrighty then! Lukas my boy, let's show them how it's done!" cheers grampa, uncorking the thing and forcing everyone to wince from the smell alone.

It's so bad even Lukas goes still for a moment, all before rolling over and off the bed, attempting to make his sad escape from the floor. It's almost cute...until Gable picks him right up for Grampa to sadistically spoon feed. That berserk reaction was not so cute, not at all.

Being in the sickbay sucks. We're all losers in here.

"Wonderful! Now on to the next patient!" says grampa, already pouring the next spoon and eyeing me with his award winning smile.

Oh no.

Oh no no no.

At least get me a chaser for this! No make that a lot of chasers! I demand sweets. Amar don't you dare try to escape from this, you're next!




Author note: It is I, the slowest writer. Thank you for keeping up and reading any piece or part of this story. 

It's not going very fast but I don't really know how else to write. So thank you all to those who stick around.