When you play with fire...

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Chapter 5

Our friendship grew stronger over the next four years. Together we trained and became even stronger. I taught Daniel everything that I knew and he became less prone to causing Earthquakes. Although any strong emotional outbreak was usually followed by a bit of ground shaking.

I kept a tight hold of my position as king of the streets. However, I was invited by Daniel to sleep in the spare room of his house whenever It was too cold or wet for the streets to be comfortable or safe.

At first I stubbornly refused to use the spare room even though after so many years as a thief I could tread lightly enough that Daniel’s parents would never know I was there.

One winter however was especially cruel. It was 4am, snow dusted the ground. When I crawled over the fence into Daniel’s yard. I wasn’t feeling so good, I felt... Cold and for me that was bad.

After I hopped the fence I couldn’t find the strength to get up and knock on Daniel’s window. I was Thirteen, strong in my powers now. I needed Daniel’s help and even though I hated to do this... I needed him to get up.

I sent my fire into the ground under his bedroom. Daniel was always aware of the earth beneath him. Even while sleeping this should wake him. I superheated the earth. Feeling it start to crack.

The ground shook and I went from lying on the ground to lying in the ground. I tried to lift my head to breathe but it was so heavy and I was so tired.

“Eric?” fresh winter air rushed into my lungs as the earth opened and spat me back out. Daniel had come to get me. I was still catching my breath when he reached out to help me up and pulled back.

“Eric are you ok? you’re really warm... Even for you” No I was not ok. I never ever felt cold... Never.

“Cold Daniel” I sagged against the fence as I tried and failed to get to my feet. Daniel finally started to realize that something was wrong.

“You stubborn hot head... You’ve obviously caught something from sleeping outside in this weather. Who knows what a fever will do to your powers!” I couldn’t even understand most of what he was saying. I was freezing.

“Ok, Eric I’m going to help you into the spare room but you have to not set me on fire” Daniel was always timid when it came to anything hot. I think its comes with being so linked in with the earth.

I can’t even remember how he got me inside. I suppose he manned up and just carried me. All I know was that when we got inside he stole every blanket in the house. He bundled me up in them after making me promise not to burn his house down.

That was easily the worst night of my life. I was so tired and cold even with the blankets. I don’t remember a whole bunch; I think the blankets were smoking at one point and Daniel dumped a glass of water on me.

It didn’t get better the next morning. I was half asleep, slumped sideways, wrapped in blankets. I couldn’t stop shivering. I think Daniel and I were both scared.

“Eric, Eric we have to do something. You’re really sick” I weakly shook my head. No way were we going to be able to find help. I wasn’t exactly a regular patient and even as a well-off street kid I was still dirt poor.

“N-No... They won’t understand” Daniel mumbled something that sounded like stubborn hot head and sauntered off to who knows where.

Maybe it was the fever, but I suddenly wanted to leave. My mother had passed away Six months before. I hadn’t gone to the funeral, but I knew that her family had buried her in a cemetery nearby.

I could walk there; it wasn’t far and somehow it didn’t get through my brain that going to a cemetery in the middle of winter was a bad idea.

I left with one of the blankets from Daniel’s, silently apologizing as I crawled out the window. I knew Daniel wouldn’t care about the blanket, but I still felt bad.

It was a gray day; it was drizzling with rain and I was shivering so hard I could feel my teeth chattering. I slowly made my way across town.

I’d been so angry at her for sending me away, that when she died I hadn’t even stopped to mourn her. Though tears of anger had sometimes run down my face because I would never get to make her admit that sending me away was a mistake.

There were a lot of people buried here, amongst wilting trees and cobblestone paths. I wiped sweat from my forehead and wrapped the soggy blanket tighter around my shoulders. I was freezing.

It took forever to find her Tombstone, I kept trying to warm my hands by summoning small flames to hold but my fire just would not come.

“Mother...” finally I found her, it wasn’t a well-kept grave but I knew by the name that it was her. Sara Tenson was written in beautiful looping letters. I knew our family last name but I shed it long ago. In favour of the one I had made up for myself.

Fairless has a nicer ring to it, and besides I know better than most people that life isn’t fair. My nose was running; I was shaking and sweating but I’d made it. I wondered what she would have thought if she had seen me standing there.

Achoo! I sneezed violently and a tiny jet of flame came out of one of my hands. It singed the very top of my mother’s Tombstone. Even now, it’s a tiny bit black on top.

“I never got to ask you if you were sorry for what you did” I knew I was supposed to be angry, but it was grief that made my voice crack not rage.

Tears streamed down my face from the red eyes my mother had always fiercely defended. I sank to my knees and wished for the first of many times that I was normal. My father wouldn’t be dead; we would all be a family still. If I was normal.

Where I placed my hands on the ground the grass was dying, wilting and turning black. I lifted my hands and looked at the way that they smoked and the now burnt grass. I couldn’t not ruin things even when I tried.

“Eric?” a hand hesitantly touched my shoulder and I knew that Daniel had tracked me down. Burning shame at being found kneeling in the dirt filled me but it was drowned out by pain.

“I understand why she didn’t love me, why would she when all I can do is cause pain and death!” the drops of rain sizzled when they touched my skin and I hated it. I hated that I was this monster that couldn’t control himself.

“Fire destroys, that’s all that it can do... It’s all that I can do...” the ground rumbled steadily and Daniel knelt beside me. His brown hair was wet and looked almost black in the rain.

“I never got to meet your mother, but I’m sure she didn’t think that you were a monster” He’d read my mind like he always did. That is the one thing that even now after all I’ve done, the one thing that bothers me.

“What if... What if I become the bad guy Daniel? What if I use this to hurt people? I don’t want to be bad!” I was feverish and rambling, but Daniel didn’t leave me in the rain like he could have. He helped me to my feet even though I’m sure my heat bothered him.

“You’re not bad Eric, you know you’re not, I can see that you have a good heart and I know your Mother would see it too” he always had such faith in me. In that moment that was exactly what I needed to hear.

Daniel took me back to his house; the blanket was ruined but he didn’t mind. I got better, I just needed time more than anything.

If you know me now, you must think I’m a hypocrite, considering how I desperately wanted to be good as a child. Compared to what I am now.

You must understand though; I’m still trying to protect people. Not from me, but from our species as a whole. Yes, maybe that means getting my hands dirty every now and then, but fire only destroys.

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