Mage's Fire

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Twenty: Nadia

“Okay, show me what you can do.”

I blinked. “Right here?”

Sierra nodded and grinned, leaning back in her seat. “Right here,” she said. “Don’t worry, no one will see.”

I gave her a skeptical look. “You’re sure?” I asked. Sierra had called me that morning to see if I was busy. When I told her no, she showed up on my front porch moments later to take me wherever she wanted. We were now sitting in the Hideout, off in the corner to stay hidden from everyone else.

“Okay,” I said, glancing around nervously. I held my hands out on the table between us, palms up. I summoned tiny twin flames of magefire, then bright orange flames a second later. Sierra gasped and I extinguished the flames, giving her a nervous glance. Why were my palms sweating? They never did that after I played with fire.

Sierra laughed gleefully and clapped her hands together. “That’s incredible!” she exclaimed. “Though, I have a feeling you can do so much more…”

I tilted my head. “What do you mean?” I asked.

She grinned. “Close your eyes,” she said. I sighed, but did as she said. After a moment she murmured, “Imagining looking into the souls of every person in this room… think of the colors you’ll see.”

I thought back to that day in the lunchroom, how I was suddenly seeing colors everywhere. When I opened my eyes, I saw the same thing here.

I looked at Sierra, my eyes wide. She was surrounded by a halo of yellow, blue, and green. Everywhere I looked, trails of colors spread all throughout the Hideout. I looked back at Sierra and blinked. The colors had disappeared again.

“What was that?” I asked.

She smiled. “You saw a bunch of colors, right?” she asked. When I nodded, she said, “Those were auras. Most mages can see them, but not on command like you.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means that, as well as being a fire mage, you’re also spirit mage,” she said. “It’s rare, but it does happen, especially if the mage is a strong one. Which you are.”

I frowned. “How do you know that?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I met some spirit mages when I was fifteen,” she said. “I saw the signs, and I could smell the power growing in you. That, and I’m a folklore and mythology nut.”

I could only laugh. “This is amazing and surreal,” I said. “I can’t believe that I have all of this power inside me.”

She grinned. “If the legends are true, that’s not all you can do,” she said. “Supposedly, spirit mages can influence the minds of animals and humans alike. You can also heal people, if you really wanted to.”

“How do you know all of this?” I asked.

“Like I said, I met some spirit mages. I’ve seen a lot of what they can do…” She trailed off, her eyes growing distant as she spoke.

“What happened?” I asked.

She shook her head. “A story for another time,” she said. “The point is, you can do so much. Have you read that spellbook I gave you?”

I nodded. “Some of it,” I said. “I haven’t had much of a chance to really look at it.”

She nodded. “It has a lot of offensive spells, and with your fire abilities, you could easily merge it with your martial arts.” She laughed and leaned back in her seat. “I’ll tell you what. If you had been like this seven months ago, I never would have thought of tormenting you. Again, I’m so sorry about that…”

I waved a hand. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. I gave her a look and added, “Sierra? Can I ask you something?”

She smirked. “You already did,” she said. “But, I’m listening.”

I laughed. After I took a moment to figure out what to say, I asked, “Did you ever… suspect anything about me?”

She frowned. “What, you mean anything magical? I had thoughts about it, and your scent…”

I straightened in my seat. “What about it?” I nearly shrieked.

She laughed again. “No, there’s nothing to worry about,” she said. “Just… you’ve always had something about your scent that I could never place. I guess now it’s because of your dormant magic.”

I couldn’t help but grin at the thought. Even the badass werewolves could sense something off about me before any of us ever knew about it.

We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon just hanging out. After a while, we left the Hideout and I drove us back to my house, where we proceeded to take Delta on a long walk. As we spoke, I couldn’t help but stare at her every once in a while. I was drawn to the way she laughed as she flipped her hair, the way her eyes sparkled when she talked about things that she loved to do. I learned that she enjoyed dirt biking, as well as rock climbing, hiking, and camping. I guess it shouldn’t have been that surprising. She was a werewolf, after all.

When we returned to my house hours later, it was nearly four p.m. I was laughing at some stupid joke about how she recorded her brother while he was snoring and it sounded like a pig on helium. We stopped at my front door, and Delta flopped onto his side at my feet, yawning widely and groaning.

I laughed. “I better get him inside before he melts into a puppy puddle at my feet,” I said.

Sierra chuckled. “It appears that we may be too late for that.”

I crouched down and rubbed Delta’s belly, which caused him to get excited. He growled and sprang to his feet, tail wagging wildly. I laughed and rubbed his ears before straightening.

I found myself face-to-face with Sierra. She was standing inches from me now, and my breath caught in my throat. Her eyes glowed softly, and I wondered what was going through her head right then. I was wondering what was going on through my head. For some reason, as I stared into her face, at her lips, all I wanted to do was kiss her.

I took a hurried step back, shocked with myself. Sierra rubbed the back of her neck and said, “So, um… I’ll see you at school tomorrow?”

I nodded. “Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, see you then…”

She nodded. “Right.” She turned away, then back to me, opened her mouth to say something, shut it, waved to me, then turned and hurried away. I watched as she hopped into her car and sped away, leaving my heart racing in my chest.

I panted and gasped for breath as I sparred endlessly with Jack. I don’t know why, but after that encounter with Sierra, I needed to get my frustrations out, and the fire wasn’t doing it. So here I was in Jack’s gym, pushing out mindless techniques and combos as I sparred.

He breathed heavily as he gasped out, “So what’s… going on?”

I frowned. “What do you mean?” I threw a front kick at him and he dodged to the side, but I quickly pivoted and round kicked him, gently tapping the side of his head with my sparring shoe.

We restarted and he said, “You seem frustrated about something,” he said. “Want to talk about it?”

I shook my head. “Not really,” I said. I punched at him, but he caught my fist in between his hands, holding it to his chest. I struggled to pull free, but he smoothly moved his body around, putting me in an armbar.

“Why not?” he asked, applying pressure to my arm until I was on my knees. I pushed off the balls of my feet, rolling over to get away. I turned onto my side, chambering for a sidekick while he searched for an opening. I turned with him, refusing to let him at my back. I quickly jumped to my feet, keeping my hands up in a defensive position between us.

“Because I don’t even know how I feel about it,” I said, deflecting a punch that he threw at me. I tapped him quickly three times in the chest and stomach before dancing away again.

He raised his hands and called for a water break. While I walked around the mat and sipped at my water, he said, “Why don’t you start by telling me what happened that’s got you so… weirded out?”

I laughed. That was one way of putting it. The way that Sierra looked at me, the way she stood close and made me feel like I was burning… No one’s ever made me feel that way before. It was terrifying, and I didn’t know what to make of it.

I sighed and told him about my day with Sierra, how easily she made me laugh and forget about the troubles going on. When I finished, he nodded and then gave me a strange look. I drew back and frowned at him. “What?” I demanded.

He shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said. He peered at me and said, “How do you feel about her?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know,” I said. “I mean, I should hate her because of what she did to Riley, to us, but I don’t. I don’t know what to think about her.”

He nodded. “I think you should keep spending time with her,” he said. “It’s good to have friends that you can rely on.”

My frown deepened. “I rely on Riley,” I said. “And you, and Drew and Eddie.” Even if Drew did piss me off sometimes. Even though we were on the same side, she still tormented and picked on me, but in a friendly way. I don’t think I’ve ever fully forgiven her for tormenting Riley and I all throughout our childhood, but I couldn’t deny that whenever we needed her now, Drew was always there.

“I know,” he said. “I mean, more than us. It doesn’t hurt to have another friend to help make things easier.”

I narrowed my eyes at the way he said “friend.” “I know,” I said. “It’s just… I can’t stop thinking about her.”

Jack nodded. Finally, he said, “Have you ever thought that maybe you like her?”

I laughed. “I do like her,” I said. “She’s fun to hang out with, and she’s already taught me a few things about being a mage.”

“Anything else?” he prompted, as if there was more that I wasn’t catching up on. I frowned and shrugged my shoulders. He sighed and said, “I mean, have you ever thought that you might have feelings for her?”

It took me a second to understand what he was saying. Once realization hit, I started laughing. I doubled over, putting my hands on my knees to keep from falling over. Seriously? Me, developing feelings for Sierra? What, like a crush? He had to be insane!

Once I had caught my breath I straightened, wiping a tear from the corner of my eye. “Are… are you kidding me?” I asked. “What, are you suggesting I’m falling in love with her or something?”

He shook his head. “No,” he said. “I’m suggesting that the feelings you have for her might be more than just friendship.”

As he spoke, the humor left, being swiftly replaced by anger. “Are you serious?” I asked. “Are you saying I might be… gay?”

He shrugged. “Not necessarily,” he said. “Just because you have feelings for someone doesn’t mean that you’re gay. I’m not.”

I blinked in surprise. “You’re telling me that you’ve had a thing for someone of the same sex?”

He nodded. “A couple of times,” he said. “But I like girls, too. Just because you might like girls, too, doesn’t mean you’re gay. It just means you might like her.”I shook my head, absolutely livid with him now. “No,” I snapped. “No, I like guys. I only like guys.”

He crossed his arms over his chest. “Not necessarily,” he said.

I narrowed my eyes. “What does that mean?” I asked in a dangerous tone.

“It means that I’ve seen the way you’ve looked at her,” he said. “And I’ve seen how she looks at you.”

I shook my head again, turning away from him. “No,” I said again fiercely. “I don’t feel that way about her.”

I stormed over to where I had set my bag on the floor. I pulled my sparring shoes off, replacing them with my sneakers. I pulled my hoodie on over my head and tightened my ponytail. I was about to stomp up the stairs and leave, but Jack grabbed my arm and stopped me. I glared at him until he released me, holding his hands up in surrender.

“Look,” he started. “I’m sorry if I hurt you, but I thought you might want to know.”

I laughed, though it was without humor. “Sure,” I snapped. “I definitely wanted to know that I appear to be gay just because I’ve made friends with a girl that I’ve lived in the same town with for my entire life.”

“That’s not what I’m saying,” he said. “I’m just saying that your feelings for her might be more than friendship, and I don’t want you to be hurt, because I’m your friend, too.”

I raised my hands, furious and terrified all at the same time. “Enough,” I said. “I don’t want to hear anything more about this, you hear me? Not one more word.”

He nodded. “Okay,” he said. “I won’t say anything until you want to talk about it.”

“Trust me,” I snarled, hitching the strap of my bag higher onto my shoulders. “That won’t ever happen.” I turned my back on him and stormed up the stairs, through the front door, and out into the Beast. Before I started the engine, I rested my forehead against the steering wheel and broke apart.

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