Chapter 21: Research

1.9K 164 0

        Midweek after classes found Fiona and Chay in the computer lab. After three days in the library turning up nothing, Chay had suggested the change in research methods and Fiona had agreed. She had taken to combing the internet for anything that spoke about people waking up from comas, the different methods that could be used and everything.

            While now more knowledgeable about the different types of comas, most of the information didn’t seem all that applicable. Still, Fiona kept at it, ignoring the blurring of her eyes as she checked site after site. Her eyes might burn slightly from the tears that always seemed to catch her at night when she returned to the empty dorm room, but that wasn’t enough to stop Fiona. Her only thought was for Meredith.

            And with a sixth person fallen as well, the whole academy seemed on edge. There was a lot less people playing sports or cards in the courtyard after classes and a lot more of people huddled in groups, whispering. Fiona paid them no attention. She had far more important things to focus on than to worry about what the other students were doing or not doing.

            Fiona’s attention as briefly captured by the mention of a magic bone curing a man’s coma, but it was supposedly a saint’s bone. She wasn’t sure if that would work or not on a Phasm, if it even did work, so she moved past. Fiona felt a flicker of hope at the fish oil, but it died when she found out it was used to treat brain injuries.

            The door opened and Chay turned to look. Fiona didn’t bother, clicking on the next link already. She only glanced up when she heard the sound of someone clearing their throat beside her. Standing together, looking awkward, were Tyna, Jordana, and Aura. “Hey,” Tyna said, rubbing one arm. “We were wondering if you want to come for a walk with us or something.”

            She shook her head, eyes flickering back to the computer screen briefly before going back to the girls. “I’ve got work to do.”

            “Yeah, but the thing is, you know, that all you’ve been doing since-well for days now is look stuff up. You barely eat and we’re worried. You need to get outside and do something else. Something to-to take your mind off stuff,” Aura said as she leaned forward.

            Fiona met her eyes steadily. “I’ll do stuff like that once Meredith wakes up.”

            Jordana bit her lip. “But, what if it takes a long time? You can’t do this for long. It’s not healthy.”

           She shrugged, eyes gone back to the computer. “Neither is being in a coma. I’ll keep at this as long as it takes. Mer would do the same for me.”

            The other three watched as she scrolled through search results for several seconds before they exchanged glances. “If you change your mind…” Tyna trailed off.

            Fiona nodded without looking at them. “I’ll let you know. Thanks.”

            With another group gaze exchange, the three girls hurried off, pausing only long enough to give Chay imploring looks. He sighed but nodded. Several minutes passed before he reached over and tapped Fiona’s shoulder.

            She turned to look at him, a slight frown tugging at her lips. “What? Did you find something?”

            Chay shook his head. “They’re not wrong you know.”

            When her frown deepened, he ran a hand through his hair. “If you spend too much time not eating properly and not doing something besides research and classes, you’ll get sick. If you get sick, you won’t be able to keep going. And you’re getting close to being obsessed with this. Obsessions aren’t healthy, trust me.”

            Fiona leaned back in her chair, slowly crossing her arms over her chest. Chay had a point about getting sick. She wasn’t sure about the rest though. All she knew was that every second she spent focused on fixing Meredith kept the other emotions at bay and helped lessen the gut-twisting guilt that plagued her still. She massaged her temples, partially alleviating the faint headache that always hovered around her head these days. “What are you suggesting?”

            He hesitated for a moment before he said, “Why don’t you spend a half hour to an hour every day outside of class and research doing something else. And not eating. We could go for a walk, play cards, or something else. Going away and coming back might give us fresh eyes too and we’ll see or think of something we wouldn’t have otherwise.”

            That was another point to him. Fiona studied him, noticing the dark circles under his eyes for the first time. She felt a fresh surge of guilt. Chay had followed through on his word, helping her with everything she was doing with barely a word. And he hadn’t steered her wrong yet. Even if she didn’t really need the break, she bet he did. And if something happened to Chay…

            Fiona nodded. “You’re probably right. We should take a break every day. Will you remind me to do it? I think you’re more likely to remember than me.”

            Chay smiled, something she hadn’t seen since-since they’d gone flying. “Yes. Should we go now?”

            “Let me finish this page of results,” she replied, her eyes going back to the pale glow of the screen. “I should be done in a minute or two.”

            He nodded. “I’ll remind you.”

            The tiniest upwards turn of her lips were as close to a smile as she’d come since Meredith’s fall. She flicked through the results, pausing briefly on the website of healing spells until she realized they were all Wicca and not real. At least she didn’t think they were real. But with the faculty working on it, she assumed most of the magical options had already been explored.

            She did make note of another pill to mention to Dr. Volkov. He’d so far been very patient, understanding and appreciative of her various suggestions of pills and modern medicine that she’d found from her research. She wasn’t sure if he’d tried them all or even if he was just humouring her, but just giving him the information made her feel better, like she was doing something.

            When she came to the end of her results, she clicked on the next page. There wasn’t much there except mention of faith healers. Fiona wasn’t sure if they were of any use, but she thought she might mention them to Mr. Bishara whenever he made it back to the academy. She was about to click on another page when a hand on top of hers drew her attention.

            Fiona looked up into Chay’s grey eyes, frowning for a moment before she winced. “Sorry,” she said. “I just…”

            He nodded, squeezing the hand he held gently. “It’s fine. But we should take a break now before you forget again. Is there anywhere you want to go?”

            She shook her head. “Wherever you’d like to go. You probably need a break as much as I do.”

            Chay smiled at that. “Not quite as much as you, but I’d definitely like one. Come on,” he said, standing. “I think I know a place you’ll like. And it’s one I don’t think you’ve been to before.”

            Fiona stood and followed, wondering where Chay was taking her.

Academy for the StrangeWhere stories live. Discover now