I stared into the fireplace at the dancing yellow and orange flames that burnt into the blackened wood. The warmth that exuded from it felt almost exactly like standing next to Derrek. I closed my eyes and imagined the heat radiating from it and pretended it was a warm embrace from him. Derrek, Blake, Cameron and Troy had gone out to chop more wood and I hadn’t seen for most of the morning.
Serena was dancing about in the kitchen baking and cooking while the rest of the girls lounged about watching TV or reading a book. I looked over at Cara who was sitting on the loveseat by herself and noted how quiet and introverted she was. She had such a powerful ability and yet was absolutely terrified to use it. She kept to herself more and the most she spoke was when she was with Cameron.
My eyes roamed over to Sophia and Bree who were sharing the sofa commenting on everything that was on TV. They seemed a lot closer despite being opposites. Bree was calm and went with the flow with everything, not wanting any conflict or negative energy. She was like a river, flowing swiftly and smoothly through and over smooth rocks. Sophia, on the other hand, wasn’t afraid of conflict. She was strong-willed, spoke out how she felt and sometimes was over dramatic but had a heart of gold.
It was hard to imagine that only a few months ago they had been the very people we were trying to escape from and were attempting to kill us. Well, more of Derrek, Helena and Max. I sighed at the thought of Max. I still couldn’t handle to look at myself in the mirror. I would still wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air and drenched in sweat at the nightmares I had.
I would dream that I wasn’t the animalistic brain-washed creature that was so intent on killing my friends. I dreamt that I was completely sane and yet... I just wanted to kill them. I saw myself throwing the ice spear that pierced through his body and then my malicious laugh would crawl out my throat and echo all around me like a horrible memory of how insane I was.
Despite sitting in front of the fire, I rubbed the goosebumps that stood up on my arms. It was like when one nightmare ended, another one had to begin and yet this one was infinitely worse because of the fact that it was actually real.
The flames whooshed to the side and slowly the yellow tips of the flames changed to a light shade of violet. As the seconds ticked past the violet tips began to engulf the yellow and as it reached the orange core of the fire the violet deepened to an imperial purple. The once orange and yellow fire had completely morphed into a purple fire.
“What are you thinking so hard about Tadpole?”
I smiled at Derrek’s deep voice but didn’t take my eyes away of the fireplace, “Nothing.”
Derrek sat behind me and pulled me back against his chest as we both stared in silence. “You know, I can tell when you’re lying Tadpole. Your cheeks warm up and that warmth spreads down your neck. What’s bothering you?”
At first I didn’t speak. I tried to squash all my jumbled thought into a cohesive little box so that I could at least explain to him without tripping over my own tongue. “I’ve been having nightmares again” I sighed.
I could feel him nodding his head and he was the one to stay silent now. He held his hand out towards the fire and began flicking his finger up and down. The flames began to sway and dance and little tuffs of purple fire would jump away from the rest to float up into the chimney.
“You want to talk about it?” He asked, leaving the choice up to me. I sighed and couldn’t help the jumble of words that came flying out from my mouth as I explained the nightmares I’d been experiencing about murdering one of my best friends. The whole time Derrek stayed quiet and by the end of my ranting explanation he shook his head.
“You’re no monster Tadpole. You’re the total opposite. You were under Malum’s control when that happened and not even Max held that against you. I was there remember? He loved you and it was his choice to jump in the way. This wasn’t your fault” Every word dripped with such powerful emotion, letting me know just how adamant he was about this.
“How was wood chopping?” I didn’t want to talk about this anymore and desperately needed a change of topic.
“Good. You’d be surprised how easy it was with Cameron there. We barely needed to use the axes because he would just snap them with his hands. Suppose he came in handy” Derrek chuckled. Right on cue Cameron came through the lounge and squashed himself into the loveseat pulling Cara’s legs over his lap. Cara and Cameron were a quiet couple. They were cute together and seemed to balance each other well. Though with Cara’s abilities it was safe to say that Cameron would be smart not to piss her off!
“We’ll, I’d have to say that that was the easiest I’d had it when it came to chopping wood! You guys should come over more often and maybe I’ll take a break from it” Troy announced stretching his back out.
“I have to admit, it felt good to finally be able to use some of my strength for something” Cameron added.
I smiled at how at home everyone seemed to be feeling here and was starting to feel a sort of familial kinship with them. Not even as friends but as though my family just grew. “Want to go for a walk Tadpole?” Derrek asked, snapping me out of my reverie.
I turned my head to look back at him with a raised eyebrow. “You want to go outside in the snow? I’d figure you’d want to stay inside, away from all the cold and wet snow?”
Derrek shrugged and continued playing with the purple fire, “Yeah, well there’s only so much time I can handle being a crowded house. Besides I hadn’t been alone with you for a while”
My lips curved into a smile and I nodded. We stood up and I noticed the purple flames slowly morph back to orange and yellow the further we walked away from it. I called out to Troy that we were going for a walk before exiting the house through the back door. The backyard was edged with tall bare trees andthe snow had begun to fall in little white puffs again. I felt myself being pulled against Derrek and together we walked nowhere in particular. With every step Derrek melted the snow leaving a clear path for us to walk on.
Something dark caught the corner of my eye and I turned my head to look into the trees. I searched for the animal or whatever it was I thought I saw but couldn’t see it. How odd... We continued to walk and make small talk but whenever I looked straight ahead or at Derrek I saw the black shadow that seemed to float through the trees. I frowned and began to walk towards the trees, absolutely curious to what I’ve been catching glimpses of.
“Uh Tadpole, what are you doing?”
“I think I saw something in the trees, but everytime I look at it it’s gone. It’s driving me nuts” I answered as I reached the edge of the trees. The trees were a far cry from the forest we had back at university but it was a small wooded area that sometimes small and large animals liked to gather in. Even when I was younger I loved catching a glimpse of them in their habitat.
I looked around and still saw nothing. I heard Derrek walk up behind me and saw him look from side to side. He looked at me, almost as if to say ‘are you sure?’ and I shrugged. “I know I saw something dark passing through the trees, almost following us, but I can’t seem to just see what it is”
Derrek spread his fingers wide open and a ball of orange flames erupted in his palm, lighting up the darkened shadows among the trees. We walked and searched but still nothing. I was about to edge deeper into the trees but sharp barking made me jump and my heart to skip frantically.
Suddenly Butterscotch was running towards us and around her collar was a note. I quirked my head and bent down to open it and read the small scribbled note,
‘Time for dinner guys. Come back to the house and wash up. Serena’
I chuckled and scratched the back of Butterscotch’s ear. “Good girl” I praised her and the three of us turned and walked back to the house. Just when we reached the back door I glanced back at the trees and squinted maybe I was seeing something again. At the edge of the trees I thought the dark shadow lingering but after I blinked it was gone, so I figured I must be seeing the shadow of a bird or something.
The exquisite aroma of baked and cooked foods reached our nostrils and I basically drooled right then and there. I missed Serena’s cooking and almost forgot that, just like her Christmas decorations, her Christmas Eve dinner was always extravagant. Even with the three of us there was always enough food to last for a few days afterwards... I couldn’t even imagine how much food she’s cooked for all of us this year.
We passed through the kitchen and my eyes widened at the mountains of food that lay across the bench tops and tables just waiting to be devoured. “Wow, Serena you seriously outdid yourself this time!” I exclaimed with wide eyes.
“I couldn’t help myself! I mean, what if we ran out of food, I know how guys eat a lot and now there’s more than just Troy and there were just so many recipes I wanted to try this year!” she gushed looking a little red faced.
“It looks spectacular Serena” Derrek complimented and Serena beamed back. Derrek and I washed up and met everyone else in the dining room looking as though a buffet line had started. I chuckled and joined the end of the line peeking around to see which foods I wanted to eat first. After everyone had filled their plate to resemble miniature Mount Everests we scattered around the dining table and lounge and dug in. Moans of appreciation filled the air and soon the only sound that filled the house was the quiet jazzy Christmas carols that still seemed to play consistently.
With some difficulty, I lifted my head to gaze around the lounge and saw Derrek and the Elementals very close to passing out into a food coma when Serena’s chirpy voice called from the kitchen. “Who’s ready for dessert?”
I laughed at the sound of groans but stood up to grab some of the several desserts made. I knew this was how Serena worked and deliberately left some space for more food, even though my stomach was already visibly bulging over my jeans. The others soon followed and I could tell that several jean buttons would end up having to be undone just to get the extra food to fit.
I ran towards him with nothing but pure intent to kill. I clenched my fist together leaving an inch of space and felt the icicles begin to grow from the pores of my skin and fill the gap inside my fist then grow out longer and longer until it was shaped into a spear. I caught his chocolate brown eyes with my ocean blue ones and his eyes widened in fear as they glanced at the glistening point of the weapon I carried.
I hissed and pulled my arm back loving the weight of the ice spear. My muscles clenched and my tendons tightened as I threw my arm forward, releasing my hold on the spear and watched as it sailed through the air. A ghost of a smile fluttered across the corners of my lips as the spear pierced his skin and my eyes grew wide with anticipation as it delved deeper in his chest.
I jerked awake.
Same as almost every morning.
I gasped deep breath after deep breath of chilly morning air as I tried to erase the crystal clear images that seemed embedded in my mind’s eye. I rubbed my tired eyes with my fists and ran my fingers through my messy hair as a yawn broke its way up my throat. Through the curtains I could see the morning sun peeking over the mountain tops in the distance and knew it was way too early to be awake.
Silently, I threw the covers back and shivered as the cold air attacked my body, even through the layers of clothes I was wearing. Cara, Bree and Sophia continued to sleep , completely unaware of the gory images that haunted me so I quietly tiptoed out of my room. The house was still slightly dark as I walked through the hallway towards the kitchen and placed the kettle to boil.
After the kettle began to whistle its tune I quickly poured it into my waiting mug of coffee, slipped on my boots and walked out to the backyard. I sat on the steps and sipped at my steaming coffee and welcomed the feeling of it swimming down my throat. The sun slowly rolled higher above the mountains and I watched as its rays of sunlight chased away the shadows of the night.
“Merry Christmas Tadpole”
I smiled and turned my eyes onto a tired looking Derrek. “Merry Christmas, Sparky. What are you doing up so early?”
“I smelt coffee and felt the fire burning from the stove” he shrugged lifting his mug of coffee to show me, “Besides seeing your beautiful face, they’re two of my favourite things”
I chuckled lightly and moved over leaving him some space to sit next to me. He sat down with a groan and I heard the slight sizzle of the ice melt beneath his body. Immediately I felt his warmth spread over my body the moment his arm touched mine, and compared to Derrek, the coffee seemed cold.
“Nightmares again?” he asked out of nowhere. I sighed and nodded, taking another sip from my mug. “But you don’t want to talk about it”
He said it more as a statement than a question and he was completely right. I bit my lip and shook my head hoping he’d understand. Fog blew out of our nostrils as we breathed the fresh air and after drinking a mouthful of coffee I huffed out a cloud of fog. I waved my hand in front of me and the fog burst out as it solidified slightly. I jiggled my fingers and the fog rearranged itself to spell ‘Merry Christmas’ in the air before I blew it away again.
“Nice” Derrek complimented me but quickly threw his hand forward, almost like he was throwing something invisible onto the ground. I frowned and looked over to him before glancing back at the snow covered ground and noticed the snow was sinking, almost like a sinkhole. As Derrek began to wave his hand around it seemed as though he was attempting to best my greeting with his own. In large writing across the once completely smooth snow ‘Merry Christmas’ was melted down.
I laughed and shook my head, “Always need to be a step further don’t you Sparky?” He replied with a cheeky wink.
Back in the house I could hear Serena singing Christmas carols and didn’t realise we’d been outside for a few hours already. We walked inside and noticed everyone was up and eating while Serena sat by the tree and threw the presents out according to who it was bought for.
She threw presents over to each of the Elementals and the surprise that was etched onto their face was priceless. Obviously they hadn’t expected anything besides a house to stay in. Serena called out our names and threw presents to us and Troy silently sat behind Serena just smiling to himself. This was nothing new for us to see.
“Well? I didn’t pressurize acid in them! Open them up!” She shrieked happily and everybody began to tear at the wrapping paper. The girls cooed at the clothes and make up they’d received while the guys called out their happiness at the Playstation 3 they’d received along with several games.
“Serena, Troy... these are too much!” Cara gasped.
“Nonsense! I won’t hear another word about it” she rebutted shaking her head at the same time. From Serena and Troy I’d received a scrap book filled with old photos of my parents and me along with a small jewellery chest that belonged to my mom. They knew these meant more to me than anything money could buy.
“Open your present” I urged Derrek while I pushed a small parcel into his hands. He unwrapped the multicoloured paper and inside was a gold lighter with carvings of flames. On one side I had writing engraved in small cursive writing
‘A small token for being my flame when I was lost in the shadows
I love you, Tadpole’
I was never great at poems so I went with the straight up truth. “Whoa! This is awesome Tadpole, Thank you!” he gushed turning quickly to kiss my lips , “This is yours”
He placed a jewellery box on my lap and I smiled, eagerly opening it up and gasped at what was inside. In the case was an intricate gold chain that held what looked like a small golden cage. What intrigued me, however, was not the cage but what was inside of it. A tiny purple flame was frozen inside a small block of ice and I looked up to Derrek with wonder in my eyes.
“You better like it Tadpole, you wouldn’t believe the trouble I went through to get Blake to cooperate in freezing my flame for you. Now... I know you know that different colours of flames have different emotional meanings and this purple flame is how I feel about you”
I traced my hand over the cage and gazed at the frozen flame, “Purple. I always thought purple fire meant you felt calm?”
“Tadpole, have you never noticed that my flames are only ever purple with you?” he asked cocking his head to the side, “Purple means love”
My eyebrows shot up so fast and high that it could’ve disappeared somewhere in my hair and I gasped. My mind flashed back to my birthday party earlier in the year and second time I’d spent any sort of alone time with Derrek. The first being when he ran into me. We sat outside my apartment on the balcony and he was twirling purple flames around his fingers.
“The fire changes colour according to my emotions.” He stated matter-of-factly.
“Really? What colours are there and what do they mean?”
“Well, there’s purple” he started nodding towards the purple flame he was twirling around, “then there’s orange, red and blue. They’re the ones I know of at least” he shrugged.
When he didn’t continue I asked him, “And what do they mean?” I urged him. He smirked and closed his hand letting his fingertips touch causing the flame to disappear leaving a ring of smoke floating up into the air.
“That’s for me to know...”
“...and me to find out?” I finished for him.
“Maybe” He stood up and eyed me again.
“Sparky... you’re fire’s been purple with me since I found out you were Fire-abled” I said.
He just smiled and picked up the necklace clipping it behind my neck and rubbing his fingers over the cage. “I know”
I’m actually quite surprised no one picked up or asked what the purple flame meant. I never explained it before and thought this would be a good time to mention it.
Also, this chapter was a little odd/funny to write considering Christmas here is in the summer and it’s bloody well no where near snowing and I also don’t drink coffee haha.
Let me know what you think!