The ear piercing siren rang through the gymnasium and I let out a breath of relief. Combat had finally finished! I painfully climbed off Val and wiped her silky blonde hair out from her face. She looked horrible... in a beautiful way. I momentarily glanced around and noticed everyone had either been dragged off to the Healers outside or lying unconscious strewn across the ground and even on top of cars.
“Derrek!” Coach Shulk boomed as she strode over, “Great job! You’re the last standing student! That last explosive really did the trick! Bring Valerie over to the Healers and get healed yourself too... you look like crap!”
With that she strode over and began shouting at unconscious students to wake them up. I shivered and was glad I didn’t have to wake up to Coach Shulk shouting in my face. I quickly bent down and carefully scooped Val up into my arms before striding to the open doors to look for a free Healer. The sun was blindingly bright and I squinted while looking around the grounds. There were students lying or sitting everywhere and it vaguely reminded me of a warzone make shift infirmary, minus the bandages.
“It’s starting to feel like I’m becoming Val’s personal healer when Nurse Oakley isn’t around” I turned at the familiar voice and saw Kayla standing to the side with a wry smile.
“Seems like it. Heal her first, I’ll be fine” I slowly sat down with my back leaning against the wall of the gymnasium and eased Val’s body down so we both we were comfortable. I wasn’t about to just leave her on the ground...
“Alright, just hold her still” Kayla told me and she frowned while she focused on healing Val. She took longer than Nurse Oakley for her to finish healing the cuts and gashes that marred Val’s face and body. It wasn’t as cleanly done but eventually she was finished and there were only the faintest of scars left behind that would disappear in an hour or so. “Ok Derrek, your turn”
“I’m not moving her” I told her bluntly. I still hadn’t opened up much to anyone else besides our group and my blunt reply caused Kayla to blush and stutter a little.
“But... what about the wounds on your torso Derrek?”
I shrugged and fixed Val’s head that tilted uncomfortably on my arm, “Then don’t heal it. I won’ tell Coach Shulk if that’s what you’re worried about. It won’t affect your grading” I refused to budge and eventually she had no choice but to heal around Val.
“Hey... how long has she been out for?” I turned and saw Helena and the others gathered around. “It seems like the entire class got wiped out in that Combat class”
“Yeah seems like it” I replied letting my gaze wander over the numerous students who were still unconscious. “She’s been out for a while, but she was one of the last ones to get knocked out”
Just as I finished talking Val began to stir and her eyes flickered open, she groaned at the sight of everyone staring down at her before sliding off my lap. “How long was I out for?” she murmured.
I shrugged, “Maybe twenty minutes or so... but you woke up before some other students. Some of them are still out cold”
She nodded silently and soon we were all heading back to the apartments. As we walked I knew something was wrong with Val. She was very quiet and wouldn’t look at anyone. I could feel her brain working overtime. It was a buzzing hive of bees, so full of noise and flashing images that I couldn’t understand what she was trying to think.
Ever since the incident that nearly killed me in the caves last year my ‘Stinger side’ had been a little hard to understand. Before, I was able to easily pin point where Val was and what was wrong. Now, however, I could only seem to know when something was wrong and it was irritating to say the least. We continued to walk and I sighed when I figured it would be best to leave her to her thoughts, or talk with Helena. If she wanted to talk to me then she would.
Blake and my apartment came up first and when she kept walking, lost in her own thoughts, I stopped her momentarily. “If you need anything I’m here okay?” My eyes probed hers, just trying to extract some clue as to what was going on in her busy mind.
“Thanks” she murmured and pecked me lightly on the cheek before walking off with Helena. Blake strolled into the apartment with a grin plastered to his lips and it only made my mood worsen to know he was happy when I wasn’t. It was childish but I didn’t care. Slamming the door behind me I began to make my way to the bedroom when he started humming an annoyingly happy tune.
“What glitter and sparkle bug flew up your ass to make you so damn happy?” I grumbled leaning against the doorway.
Blake looked at me from the corner of his eye and grinned. “Helena”
“Helena? Ahh, right... you have a thing for her. What about her?” I sighed heavily. I might as well listen to take my mind off Val.
“I’m not your bro...”
“Bro, she’s something different. She acts all shy and peaceful but in Combat she was like a totally different person. She’s strong and smart and so down to earth you know?”
This was touchy feely talk. I didn’t like touchy feely talk. “I guess” I shrugged my shoulders, “I always knew she had a strong side but she keeps it hidden”
“Yeah” Blake stared off blankly at the wall, “I want to know more about her. I want to actually get to know her”
“Then get to know her. It’s not that hard, talking usually gets people to know each other” I rolled my eyes. I wanted to just move away to the bedroom and sleep the rest of the afternoon off. Kayla was a good Healer but while she could heal the wounds she doesn’t really get far in removing the left over aches. Blake, however, kept talking about Helena and it was soon making me feel too awkward around him.
“Okay! Go to her then! I don’t want to have a bloody heart to heart with you Frosty! I’ll drag Val out of the apartment and you two can talk or whatever!” Blake had just about talked my ear off about ‘Helena this’ or ‘Helena that’ and I had had enough.
I took a quick shower and changed into clean clothes before storming out of the apartment and towards Val’s. Just as I was about to knock when the door flew open and Helena stood in the doorway with a surprised expression colouring her face. “Oh hi Derrek”
“Hey... where’s Tadpole?” I wasn’t in the mood for pleasantries and despite Helena being a good person, I’d heard enough of her from Blake.
“She’s gone down with Cara for her personal lesson. She think it’s better for her if she goes with Cara” Helena shrugged. I felt frustration and worry fill me. Something always goes wrong when Val is with Elementals. It’s not Cara’s fault per se, but one of these days if she’s not careful Val could die and the Healers won’t be able to do anything for her.
“Hey Helena” I heard Blake’s voice behind me. I could already tell he was smiling.
“I’ll leave you two be-“
“You don’t have to!” Helena cut me off.
“No, I really do. Blake is nothing but a pain in my ass and he’s already talked my ear off as it is. You two have fun” I moved out of the way and Blake practically skipped inside closing the door behind him.
I dragged my feet back to the apartment and waited... I just knew something was going to happen. Nothing good ever comes from Val hanging around with Elementals.
The happy skip in my step faltered when I realised it was just me and Helena in the apartment again. I couldn’t help but feel a little awkward and the less than receptive feeling seemed mutual from the way Helena’s body language seemed to look.
“You were amazing in Combat today” I complimented her as I tried to get her to relax a little.
A small smile quirked in the corner of her lips before she looked up at me from her hands, “Thanks. You were great too. I think everyone was a little confused on how to go about with your ability”
I chuckled at the memory of setting flaming bombs over the ground like mines and how the other students tried to deactivate it with water bullets. The water only strengthened the explosion and took them all by surprise, including Helena. “Yeah, it was pretty fun... in a painful way.” I chuckled rolling my shoulder back a little at the ache left. “Besides I really didn’t expect your whipping vines exploding from the bombs you threw! That was amazing!”
Helena smiled brilliantly at me and the wind was knocked out of me a little. “I’ve never stayed as long as I had in Combat before, I always got taken out within the first ten minutes or so. I guess it means we’re a good team”
Well, this was as good an opening as ever!
“Speaking of being a good team together...” I cleared my throat, “I was thinking we’d make a pretty good team together outside of Combat”
I sucked in a much needed lungful of air and looked hopefully into Helena’s eyes. She stayed silent and just watched me for seconds, as though waiting for me to continue talking. “... I’m not really following Blake”
Oh okay... awkward. I guess I needed to elaborate. “A team outside Combat as in... you and me in a team... together... like outside of class...” I groaned in frustration. I didn’t actually think I would have needed to elaborate. “You and me together, Helena. Like dating”
Her eyes widened and her mouth popped open a little as though she silently gasped. “Like a couple?”
“Like a couple” I nodded. I was actually quite nervous and I could feel the chill of panic spreading down my spine.
“I’m not sure, Blake. I don’t really know you” she answered meekly. I felt a hollowness inside that I hadn’t realised was there and all expression of hopefulness dropped from my face. Helena’s eyes widened and she stepped forward to lay a hand on my arm, “I didn’t say ‘no’, I just said that I’m not sure. Let me get to know you first Blake”
Just like that hope sprung from the tiny seedling inside and I beamed at being given a chance. I held out my arm for her, “Well then how about a walk? No better way to get to know each other than to spend time together right?”
She mirrored my smile and held onto my arm as I steered her out of the apartment for a walk around the campus.
It’d been a week.
A week since the Combat lesson with guns and explosives. A week since Val had been quiet. And a week since she practically ignored everything I said to her. Everyday she’d go down to the Elemental’s Skills room with Cara and every damn day I met her in the infirmary with some sort of near death injury. I was getting beyond furious and I didn’t hold back in letting her know.
“YOU NEED TO STOP VALERIE!” I shouted her full name angrily as I paced the infirmary. “This is the eighth time this week you’ve landed back here and it’s because of Cara! What the hell is your job description in that lesson?! Are you her damn target for shooting practice or what?!”
I was breathing heavily and began to take slow breaths to calm me down. Val was keeping something from me since the Combat lesson last week and been using the practices with Cara as an excuse to not be around me during our free time after classes. I looked back her and let my eyes travel along the deep gash that ran down her cheek and her neck. I had to quickly burn her gash shut otherwise she’d have died from blood loss before we could even get her to the infirmary.
“I’m not a child Derrek” she shouted back using my name as I did with her, “Believe what you want but I am actually helping Cara! She’s made an extraordinary amount of progress since her first lesson and today was just an accident-!”
“It’s always ‘just an accident’!” I shouted, cutting her off. “And it will always be ‘just an accident’ until that accident actually KILLS YOU! I can’t handle knowing every damn day that you put all self preservation on hold while you stand by and let that Elemental cut you up like yesterday’s roast! I won’t stand for you getting hurt Tadpole!!!”
I could see the anger burning behind her eyes and the heat from her body had skyrocketed during our argument making it clear as day that she was furious as well. Her tone, however, was quiet. So quiet I was pretty sure I heard her incorrectly. “Then I guess it’s over Sparky”
Silence filled the air of the sterile infirmary. I was pretty sure I had heard her wrong. “What?” I asked her calmly.
Her clear blue eyes were full of emotions but were completely dry as she looked straight into my eyes and repeated what I thought I’d heard incorrectly. “I said it’s over”
I snorted, “You don’t mean that Tadpole. See? All those hits from Cara are making you lose your mind”
“I’m being serious Sparky! You can’t handle what I’m doing and I will not stop. I refuse to. Cara is important and she’s getting better with her abilities the more that I’m there. I’m not going to just abandon her because you ‘can’t handle it’” Val’s voice was stern and clipped. “It’s probably best that we end it anyway... Abled people always date within their own abilities”
She was serious. “Tadpole, you know that’s not true. Look at our parents! They married different abilities for Christ sake”
“And look what at what happened to them Sparky!” she shouted, “They. Died. They died because of their mixed abilities and-“
“No, my mom died during childbirth and The Control murdered the rest of our family!” I corrected her angrily. She knew I hated talking about my family.
“Oh my! Should I come back another time?” Val and I both turned towards the entrance and saw Nurse Oakley standing awkwardly looking between the two of us.
Val shook her head and all expression left her face. The emotions I could feel from her, even with my haywire mind reading, was just a hollow emptiness. “No Nurse Oakley. Derrek was just leaving anyway”
“I won’t chase you Tadpole” I murmured stoically. “That’s not the kind of guy I am”
With that I turned and it took everything I had to not take one last glance at her. I could hear Nurse Oakley fussing with Val’s wounds... again... before I began to storm down the corridor and out of the campus. I really just needed to burn something right now.
As always people kept out of my way and I kept my face forward. If anyone crashed into me it was automatically their fault and would most likely become the charred leftovers of my target practice. Before I knew it I was outside and walking into the forest once again. It seemed that my mind had gone on auto-pilot and brought me back to where I always had my target practices.
I was back in the circular plain in the middle of the forest and threw off my shirt as I faced the blackened log that had once been my daily target. Looks like I was back to being my own company. I thought back to Val being injured every day, back to the memories of having to either meet her in the infirmary or carrying her up there myself, back to the conversation that was still fresh in my mind.
I let the emotions take over and fill me with anger, fury and something I’d have to relate to sadness. The familiar burning sensation prickled over my skin and blood red flames burst out from every pore of my body. My sight had a red tinge to it and I focused it all on the black log across the field. Pulling my arms back I let out all my rage as I shouted out my frustration and threw my arms forward, clapping them together. Sizzling and burning heat burst out from me and flew forward like a meteor falling from space. The force threw the log back the next thing I knew the entire tree behind it had caught on flames.
In the back of my mind I knew that if Helena had been here she’d be whining about me killing trees, but I didn’t really care. I watched the angry flames swallow the tall tree and blacken every inch of bark and every single leaf. It didn’t seem enough though. I wanted it to burn faster, I wanted it to be stripped of all life like the way I felt right now and in acquiescence to that feeling I threw fireball after fireball at the already dying tree.
I fell to my knees in fatigue as the neighbouring trees caught flames and burnt as well. It helped only the slightest bit. All the energy I had left me, and when my thoughts strayed to the girl being healed in the infirmary right now, I noticed the red flames slowly turn blue along with my thoughts.
What have I done?
Helena was incredible.
As we wandered around the campus we both asked questions about anything and everything and she seemed to just light up. She had begun to open up to me and I found that she wasn’t just the blushing and quiet girl I thought her to be.
She had this spark inside her that seemed to just be hypnotising and it seemed as though the people around her could feel the happiness radiate from her. I was thrilled to be the one who made her happy. We were laughing, we were in absolute hysterics at a story she was telling me about Val’s birthday party last year when I stopped and looked around.
“Where are we?” I asked as I tried to stop the bubbles of laughter from bursting up my throat.
Helena’s smile stayed firmly on her lips as she looked around and she shrugged. “I have no idea, Blake. I’ve never actually seen this part of the campus before. That’s so strange”
What was strange was the urge I had to kiss her and yet I didn’t find it strange enough to not listen to it. Helena was leaning against the wall underneath the portrait of a man with a thick moustache and quickly closed the space between us.
I walked up to her and caged her in with my arms on either side of her. Before I could even attempt to kiss her the wall gave way and we were tumbling through into some hidden room. Helena’s surprised squeal echoed down the corridor and before we knew it the wall closed behind us, enclosing us in complete darkness with nothing but the scent of dust and mildew as a clue to where we were.
I quickly scrambled off Helena and blindly felt for her face. “Helena, are you okay?!” She answered with a groan. “Helena?!”
I quickly conjured up an icy flame in my palm which, although didn’t have the same illuminating abilities as a normal flame, brightened the room enough for me to see Helena pulling herself up from the dusty ground. She held the back of her head and pulled away with a wince. Her fingers were tinged with dark red blood and I knew that she must’ve fallen harder than I thought.
She looked around blinking hard as though her vision was distorted before speaking. “Where the hell are we?”
I’d had the worst writer’s block for ages and was suddenly able to get things rolling. So I do apologise for the wait and thank you all for your patience. No nasty remarks please.
Thanks to the wonderful fans who were supporting me on Facebook (n.n) y’all are just lovely people <3
Dedicated to @missbitch. Seriously, I love that I got flooded with comments from you XD I kept seeing your username popup in my emails so much that I began to think my computer was calling me a bitch! Lol