Something pounding her chest woke her up. She coughed and spluttered, choking up water from her lungs. When the water was all gone she took a gulp of air that seared her lungs like fire. She groaned.
I'm alive? she thought.
She was on a sandy beach somewhere. Warm sun fell softly on her skin, and warm water licked her legs and feet. She felt pounded.
She took another breath. This one didn't hurt so much as the first one. Another. Gradually, breathing air again became easier. She opened blurry eyes.
Sitting beside her, odd gray eyes concerned, was the boy from the plane. Those odd eyes were staring at her, seemingly looking right through her.
"Are you okay?" he asked in a strange accent.
"W-what happened?" Nari croaked.
"You almost drowned," he replied. "This was the nearest dry spot I could think of."
Her mind felt foggy, as if drugged. She couldn't form thoughts clearly. "What happened to the storm?" she asked with difficulty. Every word was a struggle. She had to work to make her voice operate.
He hesitated. "We went an awful long way," he said finally.
She wanted to protest that nobody could swim far in that storm but she ran out of energy. She closed her eyes and slept.
When she woke it was night and she had been moved. Now she lay on an improvised bed of palm leaves. It was quite comfortable. By now, her clothes had dried. She heard the crackling of a fire and turned her head.
The boy sat there, roasting something on a stick. It looked like a fish.
Now how on earth did he get a fish? Nari wondered.
She tried to sit up but found to her dismay that she couldn't. She was incredibly weak. The boy heard her struggles and went over to help her up.
"I caught a fish so you can eat," he said. "I ate already. Are you hungry?"
Nari nodded. The motion made her head pound. It still hurt to breathe. "I feel like I've been hit by a train," she said weakly.
He smiled, eyes sympathetic. "In a way, you have. What's your name?"
"Nari-Narinata Anders," she replied.
"Mine's Kael. Here, it's done." He meant the fish, which he went over to. He took hold of the stick it was stuck on and brought it to her. "It will be rather tasteless, as there isn't much in the way of flavoring here." He smiled.
Nari chuckled. Or tried to. It came out as a breathy sort of rasp that might have been a squeak if she hadn't been so out of breath. She pulled off pieces of the fish he gave her and put them in her mouth. As hungry as she was, it tasted delicious, and she had always liked fish anyway.
When she finished with the fish she asked Kael, "How did you catch a fish?"
He grinned mischievously at her. "With my own two hands. You should rest."
"But I've been resting!" As soon as she said that her eyelids began to droop. "I'm not tired!"
"I can see that." He got up and stoked the fire. "Well, I'm going to sleep, so you might as well. You need rest so you can recover."
"And then what?" Nari asked bitterly. "Nobody will find us."
"Don't worry. We'll be fine."
She was going to ask him how he had managed to pull her from the storm's grasp in time to save her, at the same time keeping himself alive, but at that moment he turned his back to her and—to all appearances—went to sleep.
Nari sighed and lie back down with a thump. She closed her eyes and was asleep in an instant.