Spirit of Fire

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Chapter Six: Inferno

Saffire

About a week has passed since that night, and if anything, it’s brought Coburn and I closer together. I wonder if he’s told anyone else about what Midnight did to him. I’m sure Luna knows, but considering how long it took him to tell me, I don’t know if Ehren or Ana know about it. Or maybe they do, since he has more of a working relationship with them.

Who knows.

The whole thing makes me hate Midnight that much more. In some ways, I’m almost glad he never told me about it until now, otherwise I probably would’ve let my hatred get the best of me when I saw her.

I decide to pay a visit to Katya in the morning before all my training starts. I need a friend to talk to about all this that isn’t involved in all this. It can be nice to get an outside perspective sometimes.

I walk over to my closet. This room is definitely starting to feel more like home, especially with all my things arriving. All my paintings are put up in my room, along with the vanity and some pillows on my bed. Maybe I’ll get more decorations for the room eventually since I have a lot more space to work with now. Maybe I can get used to this.

I let Luna and the others know where I’m going that morning, promising to be back in an hour. It’s not like I’m blowing off my responsibilities for today, I just need to get out of here, even if it’s only for a little while.

I make the short walk to my old house, passing people on the busy street. The sound of footsteps and conversations is deafening, but I do my best to tune it out. A cold wind blows through the air, chilling me. I focus on my footsteps walking down the hard, smooth sidewalk, trying to ignore passers-by. Some people do a double take at me, some smile, and some don’t acknowledge me at all.

It feels strange getting recognized. All these people know who I am, but I don’t know who they are. It makes me feel a little guilty, like I should know, but I don’t know how I could memorize a million people’s names. Besides, I’ve gotten double takes before for walking down the street because of my red hair – a clear giveaway of my fire abilities – so I’m used to it.

At least a little.

Sometimes I feel like fire abilities are misunderstood, what with their rareness and all. From experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that people are afraid of what they don’t understand. It’s hard for others to see past the destructive nature of fire, like people think fire wielders could spontaneously combust at any moment and burn everything in their path. To be fair, fire does have a higher capability for destruction than other elements, but all the elemental skillsets are harmful in one way or another. Water could flood, Earthquakes could happen, Air can lift things off the ground if it’s strong enough. All the natural disasters of the past were disasters in their own way; I don’t feel that it’s right to put fire wielders in a box. Our abilities do have the power to wreak havoc, but chaotic, destructive tendencies aren’t in our nature simply because of the elemental ability we’re born with.

I wish more could see past that.

I come up on my old house, feeling a strange sense of nervousness, like it won’t be everything I remember it being.

But everything still looks the same.

The garden that Katya works on is as beautiful as ever, the flowers on the vines are in full bloom, thriving, looking as vivid as ever. Nothing has really changed, at least I hope.

I knock on the door, waiting a few moments, hearing footsteps behind the walls.

Katya opens the door, her face lighting up as soon as she sees me.

“Saf!” She hug-attacks me before I can even get through the doorway.

“Hey,” I respond, hugging her back.

“Come in, oh my God, you have to tell me everything.”

I’ve forgotten how much I miss her enthusiasm.

I walk through the door, and everything is almost the same. The only thing that’s missing is a few paintings on the walls, though one that I painted still has it’s place. The island is as pristine as ever, the couch hasn’t moved an inch, the smooth surface of the coffee table still has rings on it from where I forgot to put down coasters under my drinks. The light scent of lavender fills the room from the diffuser in the corner of the room that Katya keeps going at all hours of the day (or night). The floorboards quietly creak under my footsteps.

Maybe I was afraid this wouldn’t feel like home anymore. But it does. More than ever.

We sit down on the couch, holding one of the bright yellow pillows in my lap. It feels like smooth satin in my hands, the diamond patterns like peaks and valleys under my fingers.

“Okay, okay, so tell me what cool new things you’ve been up to!” Katya says excitedly. Her hair is in a ponytail, bouncing every time she moves her head. She wears a bright red lip colour that accents her face, paired with a red crop top of a similar shade with a short black skirt.

I think she stole that shirt from my closet.

“Where do you want me to start?” I say with a laugh.

“Is it as scary as you thought it would be?”

I think for a moment.

“No – well, kind of – but not in the way I thought.”

She gives me a condescending look.

“Babes, that tells me nothing.”

I grin and look down.

“I don’t know. It’s just a lot of responsibility and going on assignments can be kind of terrifying.”

Her face lights up.

“Have you been on an assignment yet?” She asks excitedly.

“Last week, actually.”

“Oh my God, tell me everything. Where did you go?”

“A place called the Shadow Realm.” I reply.

“The what?” She asks, frowning.

“That’s what I said when Luna first told me about it,” I say with a laugh, quickly explaining the premise of it, but I leave out Luna’s relationship to Nox and Midnight. I trust Katya, but I don’t think Luna wants that kind of thing going around.

“Well what happened when you went there?”

“Not a lot, honestly. It was more just for me to check things out. But I did meet Nox and Midnight.”

“What are they like?”

I shudder.

“Imagine the creepiest people you can, and then multiply it by a hundred,” I say with a chuckle.

“Yikes,” she mutters.

“I don’t get good energy from them at all. I’m honestly a little nervous to go back there, but oh well,” I sigh.

She looks at me hopefully.

“It sounds like everything is going well, though,” she says reassuringly.

“I think so,” I look down.

I did come here with the intention of talking through what Coburn told me a few days ago, but now that I’m here, I don’t think I can. It doesn’t feel right, like I would be betraying his trust if I told her. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but for some reason I don’t feel comfortable talking about it with anyone other than him, even if Katya is my best friend.

“But?” She presses.

I sigh.

“I just miss being here, I guess. I miss you, I miss this house, I don’t know.”

She places a hand on my shoulder.

“It’s not the same without you, but you’re just moving on to another phase of your life. You’re always welcome here if you need.”

I smile.

“I think this place will always be home to me in some way or another.”

We both pause, unsure of how to continue the conversation.

“Here, I have an idea,” she gets up, grabbing the black and white painting of the vase of flowers off the wall, also grabbing the stick-on hook that kept it from falling to the floor.

“Take this with you, it was always your favourite. It’ll be a little piece of home.”

I take the framed photo, running my hands over the rough canvas. I can feel the ridges of the layers of paint on my fingers, the small brushstrokes adding detail, causing the painting to come alive in my hands.

“Really?” I ask absentmindedly.

She runs her fingertips along the light wooden frame.

“Of course, girl.”

“I promise I’ll visit as much as I can,” I look at her, blue eyes analyzing me.

“You better,” she says with a wink.

I suddenly catch sight of a clock in the kitchen, realizing what time it is.

“Ah, I have to go. I promised Luna I’d be back by eleven,” I say, quickly getting up.

She joins me, walking me to the door.

“Keep me updated on all the excitement, okay?” She muses.

I smirk at her.

“You know I will. Thanks for the painting, I’m sure it will help with the home sickness.”

She gives me a tight hug before I run back to HQ.

*

It’s the end of the day before I have a chance to put the painting in my room. I trained in the simulation room for most of the day, trying to increase the difficulty so that I’m more prepared to face Nox and Midnight next time I go to the Shadow Realm.

Though, something tells me I’ll never be prepared to face them no matter how much training I put myself through.

I collapse on my bed after a long day, looking at the painting that I’ve placed on the pillows for safe keeping until I was able to properly put it up. I decide on a spot just above my vanity, so that I can look at it to inspiration when I get ready for the day.

Or something like that.

I straighten it out, moving some of my other pieces around so that everything is evenly spaced. Some of my more abstract paintings were brought here on the day of the announcement, probably while I was asleep in Coburn’s room.

I smile at the thought.

I stand back, making sure I like everything.

Katya was right. Having a little piece of her here makes this all a little easier.

At least I hope.

It reminds me that I’m not alone here, that a part of me before all this happened still exists. It reminds me that I have a friend outside of all this. It makes me feel at ease, even if I can never go back to who I used to be before I was given this role.

The last couple of days have been overwhelming, but the amount of support that everyone gives each other is amazing. Honestly, it caught me off guard a little. I was expecting to keep to myself most of the time and have everything together and be adjusted right away, but it hasn’t been like that. Luna has been amazing at answering my questions, Ehren has been fun to get to know, and Coburn is, well, Coburn. Ana is still distant, but maybe that’s just her personality. Maybe she’ll come around . . . eventually.

I sigh and change into pajamas, falling asleep seconds after my head hits the pillow.

*

I’m lifted out of a dreamless sleep, a hand on my shoulder shaking me awake.

“Sparks, come on.”

I open my eyes, Coburn sitting on the edge of the bed. The rest of the room is minimally lit, suggesting that it’s still dark outside. I can’t see much of him, though my eyes begin to adjust and I can make out parts of his face. I can see his jawline, part of his neck and his left eye, which reads as intent and serious.

“Coburn? It’s the middle of the night.” I mumble, attempting to reach for a blanket.

“We need to go, now. Something is happening,” he says, his tone grim.

Oh no.

“What’s going on?” I say sleepily, rubbing my eyes.

“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be waking you up now if it wasn’t urgent. We’re all meeting in the foyer in two minutes.”

“Okay, okay, I’m up,” I say as I swing my legs over the edge of the bed.

He grins.

“See you in a few minutes,” he says softly.

He leaves the room, gently shutting the door behind him. I notice the sliver of light that peaks through the small gap between the door and the door frame, falling onto the dark floor and illuminating the space, if only a little.

I go to my closet, hastily putting on a pair of leggings, boots, and a long sleeved dark gray cotton shirt.

I quickly exit my room, squinting as my eyes adjust to the bright light of the hallway. The light feels overpowering; I almost have to shut my eyes but I eventually get used to it, miraculously not getting a headache in the process.

I jog down the hallway, turning and quickly make my way down the foyer stairs, seeing Luna and the others waiting for me.

“What’s happening?” I ask as I join them.

Luna looks at me with a serious expression.

“There’s a fire a few blocks away at an abandoned building, and it looks like it could spread. We need to go check it out to make sure it’s nothing crazy.”

“What does that have to do with us?” Ehren pipes up sleepily, rubbing his eyes.

“If there’s a fire that’s out of control, that means a fire wielder is out of control,” Luna says quietly as she creates a portal.

I close my eyes as I step through, landing about a block away from a large fire that is engulfing a small building just outside of the city.

The fire is sky high, blazing violently, shades of orange and yellow intertwining, blasting out of windows and threatening to burn anyone that gets too close. The dancing flames leap into the sky, acting as a beacon of sorts, like one would use to call for help in old stories. Though, I’ve never imagined them being this big, but I’ve never seen them in person, so what do I know. I can take in the smell from here, reminiscent of a campfire that has been going for too long. The roaring, crackling sound is loud, threatening, like fireworks, almost acting like a warning of sorts for people to stay back. The thick, dark smoke engulfs the area, blocking out some of the stars, climbing higher and higher into the sky.

We run up to the scene, where a small crowd of people has gathered to see what’s happening. Even I can feel some of the heat radiating from the area, and I generally don’t feel much heat from fires. The wooden outside of the building has begun to char, blackening the areas where the heat is most intense. Though, it’s hard to tell what has been burned and what appears darker simply because of the night hours. The smell of burned wood lingers in the air.

A loud crash makes me jump, suggesting that the structure is becoming unstable with every passing second. I clutch Coburn’s arm in an attempt to ground myself.

It works . . .somewhat.

Ehren covers his face, like he’s trying to protect himself from the heat; I know from being around Katya enough that Earth wielders are vulnerable to fires and burns. Ana keeps her distance, staying near the back of the small crowd. Smoke bothers Air wielders, so I’m not surprised that she’s hanging back.

The fire reflects in Coburn’s eyes as he takes in the scene, a mixture of shock and wonder in his face.

I’m probably fostering a similar expression.

I wonder how much experience Coburn and the others have in dealing with these kinds of situations. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of something this happening, at least to this caliber.

And something like this had to happen right after I became an elemental leader? Ugh.

Luna turns to us after taking in the scene for a few moments.

“Okay, I’ll try and get more intel on what’s happening. Coburn, see if you can get some people to help you extinguish this.”

He nods and gives my hand a quick squeeze before running off, gathering people as he approaches the building.

“Analia, don’t inhale any of the smoke, or try not to. Ehren, try not to get burned, and you two need to help keep people at ease.” Luna commands before turning to me, “Saffire, you need to go inside and see if you can stop whoever is doing this.”

My eyes widen and my jaw drops for a second.

I need to do what?

Nervous energy takes over at her suggestion, but I guess there’s no way the fire can hurt me. I’m immune from getting burned and the smoke doesn’t bother me too much, so I guess it makes sense for me to see what’s happening inside. If anyone else went in there they probably wouldn’t be able to last very long, if at all.

I nod, and Luna gives me a warm smile.

I take a deep breath.

Suddenly, I realize this is all on me.

I can almost feel the weight of the situation, a stress akin to how I felt on announcement day that feels like an eon ago.

If I screw this up, where does that leave everyone? Is whoever is inside there going to burn the city to the ground if I can’t do what I’m supposed to do? Who is even in there? Why would they doing this?

I take a deep breath, cutting off the negative thoughts.

Stop it, Saf. You can do this. You can handle this. You’re not going to mess it up. Luna’s putting her trust in you for a reason. She believes in you. Everyone does. You can do this.

I nod.

“Okay.” I say to myself as I approach the building.

“Good luck.” Ana murmurs to me, a faint smile on her face.

Or did I imagine that?

“Thanks.” I respond quietly.

I feel heat emanating from the fire as I approach it, but it doesn’t feel too hot, at least from here. Part of the reason why I’m so cold all the time is due to the heat resistance accompanied by Fire Wielders, but I think my small frame has something to do with it too. I’ve just come to the conclusion that it’s a combination of both.

I stand in front of the doorway, taking in the building. I wonder how long it’s been standing here, how many people have walked through it’s rooms, it’s hallways, the memories of this place. I feel a twinge of sadness at the thought that it’s story ends here, engulfed in fire.

I concentrate my energy, manipulating the fire to create a narrow pathway for myself, mostly so that my clothes have a lesser chance of getting burned off me.

The heat becomes much more intense as I’m surrounded by flames, but I still feel like I can handle it. Though the smoke does make it a little hard to breathe. The smoke and the heat make the air feel heavy, making my breath and movements feel slow, cautious. Fire wielders aren’t completely immune to smoke like we are to burns, but we can be around it longer than any other elemental skillset.

Still, I can’t be too reckless.

I look around, suddenly aware of the dark energy surrounding this place; like the energy I felt in the Shadow Realm.

What is going on? What does this mean?

I look to my right and see a wave of flames narrowly miss me.

Those aren’t natural flames. They’re coming from someone.

I hear a shout, like someone’s in pain, coming from the same direction.

The voice sounds familiar, but I can’t pinpoint who it is.

The closer I get to the sound, the stronger the dark energy gets.

A pit forms in my stomach.

Midnight or Nox couldn’t be here, could they? They can’t leave the Shadow Realm. And they don’t wield fire. It couldn’t be them.

But then why do I feel so much darkness around me?

Through the blaze I see an all too familiar face, throwing waves of fire in every possible direction.

“Jaxson!” I shout.

He stops and looks at me, his mouth curving into a sinister grin. His hands and parts of his face are covered in soot, embers radiating all around him, like fireflies in the night. He looks unkept, holes burning through his dark clothes, his hair all over the place.

“Saffire, come to join the fun?”

There’s something off about how he sounds. His voice almost seems deeper, or something. I don’t know.

But maybe the fire is distorting the sound of his voice a little bit.

“What the hell are you doing?” I shout.

He shoots a series of flames towards me and I block them off me.

“Jaxson! Stop!” I yell again.

I’ve always known he had a temper, but this feels extreme, even for him.

He’s an idiot, but he’s not an arsonist.

Something is very wrong. I can feel it.

I take a step towards him, ignoring the anxiety buzzing in the back of my head.

“This isn’t you. What are you doing?”

He laughs menacingly.

“Watching the world burn. Isn’t it great?” He says.

I catch myself from quipping back at him; I don’t want to make his rage worse.

“Is this about the Spirit of Fire thing?” I ask hesitantly.

He gives me a puzzled look.

“You think I’m still angry about that?” He pauses, “no, I’m doing what we were born to do. Destroy.”

I gasp, taken aback.

He’s wrong, and he knows it. He knows there’s more to fire abilities than destruction. But then that doesn’t explain why he’s acting this way. I wish I could get inside his head and figure out what is going on, why he’s doing this.

Now’s not the time to figure that out. See if you can calm him down.

“You and I both know that’s not true,” I shout.

He raises his hands, like he’s showing off what he’s done.

“Look around you. This is what we’re meant to do,” he says with an arrogant pride.

I take another step towards him, close enough to reach out and touch him if I wanted.

“Can you not see what you’re doing?”

He looks around, grinning.

“Of course I can.”

He lunges towards me to attack and I quickly move out of the way.

I need to get him to calm down. But how?

A thought clicks into my mind.

You have authority, use it!

“As Spirit of Fire, I’m ordering you to stop spreading this destruction,” I say as bravely as I can, despite my heart pounding out of my chest.

It feels strange to use my position to try and change someone’s behaviour, but I’m all out of ideas.

He narrows his eyes.

“I don’t take orders from you,” he says coolly, shooting another blast of flames my way again.

I quickly block the attack, though this time I notice the flames are laced with dark shadows.

In fact, the entire fire is laced with shadows.

Fire has never looked like this. The shadows snake around the flames, intertwined with the inferno, giving the fire a dark sheen to it.

What does this mean?

“Stay out of my way.” He says darkly, approaching me slowly.

“I’m not leaving until you calm down,” I walk up to him, grabbing his shoulders.

He’s not backing me into a corner. Not again.

His face softens, like he’s taken aback at the gesture, blinking multiple times.

“Saffire?” He asks, fear and confusion in his face.

I notice that his voice doesn’t sound distorted anymore.

Have I finally gotten through to him?

“Stop this. Now,” I say firmly.

A darkness consumes his eyes and he shouts again, like he’s resisting something, placing his hands on his head, backing away from me.

Is something compelling him to do this?

“Saf!” I hear Coburn’s voice behind me, and I turn around, seeing him walk through the flames. He jumps a few times as the fire bites his skin.

He can’t be in here.

While his abilities can put out fire, he’s not immune to burns, and is a lot more vulnerable to smoke than I am.

He could die if he’s in here too long.

“Coburn? What the hell? Get out of here!” I shout.

He coughs.

Jaxson continues yelling, struggling, like he’s in pain.

“What’s wrong with him?” Coburn asks, his breathing heavy.

I look back and forth between the two of them, overwhelmed, putting my hands on my head for a moment, clenching my hair between my fingers.

“I don’t know. But you need to get out of here,” I say firmly.

Coburn coughs again.

“Saf, I’m fine,” he says, covering his mouth and nose with his hand.

His eyes start to glaze over.

He’s not fine.

Jaxson stops yelling and the flames around us intensify, dramatically heating up the area even more, and I find I have to focus on my breathing to not get overwhelmed. Coburn covers his head in response to the fire, protecting himself from the increased heat.

Before I can react, Jaxson lunges at me again, grabbing my throat.

“I could crush you if I wanted to,” Jaxson grins menacingly.

I claw at his hands, trying to breathe, my vision getting fuzzy, the heat feeling more intense with each passing second.

I kick at his legs and Coburn pulls him off me, pushing him to the side.

Jaxson makes eyes at Coburn in the next moment, shooting a flame towards him.

“No!”

I run towards Coburn, pushing him to the ground, landing on top of him, my right shoulder getting the brunt of the hit.

I grimace.

“You’re hurt.” He says softly, sitting up.

“Better me than you,” I say quickly, ducking as Jaxson sends fire blazing across the room. I push Coburn’s upper body back on the ground and shield him as best I can.

Jaxson continues spreading flames across the room, though he doesn’t seem to be aiming at anything in particular. Maybe he’s forgotten we’re here. But even if that is the case, I don’t want Coburn to be in here when Jaxson notices us again.

“You have to get out of here.” I say, turning my attention back to Coburn. A section by his neck is scarlet red, a large hole burned on the side of his shirt by his ribs. Some of the soot has collected on his face by his forehead, making it hard to tell what is shadow and what is debris from the fire.

He sits up, coughing.

“I’m okay,” Coburn says again, his voice hoarse, weaker than before.

Enough of this!

“I’m not watching you burn to death!” I say forcefully.

Realization passes across his face and he nods as we get up.

He squeezes my hand as he leaves the room. He extinguishes what fires he can as he heads outside, coughing.

Jaxson approaches again, inches from me.

Thinking quickly, I rest my forearm on his chest, my arm creating an L shape to prevent him from coming any closer, and I knee him in the stomach, hard.

He stumbles backwards, clutching his abdomen.

“You bitch,” he mutters as he catches his breath.

I brush off the comment. I still don’t care what he thinks of me, even if he is out of sorts.

I take the opportunity to grab his shoulders and force him to the ground, pinning his arms down with my legs.

“You need to stop. Now.”

He looks around frantically, like he’s trying to come up with a way to start attacking again. His eyes have a dark sheen to them, glistening in the firelight.

Suddenly, he stops resisting, his eyes closing, losing consciousness.

His body remains limp on the ground, though he’s still breathing.

The shadows retreat from the fire and the flames calm down, though they still linger, the wood of the building glowing with embers.

I suddenly lose all my strength, collapsing on the ground next to him, coughing from the smoke in the room. I focus on my breathing, trying to not let the smoke get to me, but I’d be lying if I said the smoke isn’t bothering me.

I look up at the ceiling, the beams looking weak, charred, blackened, like they could give out at any moment.

I need to get him out of here, and I don’t want to get crushed.

I stammer to my feet, taking a moment to get my balance.

I grab him under his arms and drag him to the doorway, where Luna and the others are waiting. I’m suddenly aware of how good clean air feels as I step outside. I savour the feeling with a deep breath, feeling the cool autumn air enter my lungs, almost like it’s purifying my lungs.

We distance ourselves from the building, hearing a crash in the background, making me jump in alarm.

Thank God no one else was in there.

“He was the one behind all this? Isn’t he the one who attacked you after the announcement?” Luna asks as Ana, and Ehren carry him to a nearby stretcher, Coburn walking with them. He’s looked better, but at least he’s all right, as far as I can tell.

I glance at her as I cough.

“Yah,” I stutter, catching my breath.

She looks over at Jaxson, then back to me.

“What happened?”

I pause, thinking.

“I don’t know. He just stopped resisting. I’ll tell you more later.”

She nods.

“Are you hurt at all?” She says, placing a hand on my shoulder.

I shake my head.

“No, I don’t think so,” I roll my right shoulder around, feeling an ache in the area, “I got hit in the shoulder but obviously I didn’t get burned or anything. It’s a little sore though.”

“We can talk more tomorrow, you’re hopped up on adrenaline,” she says with a laugh, “but you seem to be okay,” she pauses, glancing at Coburn, Ana and Ehren.

“Are they okay?” I ask.

She presses her lips together.

“Ehren and Ana are fine, Coburn – er – he’ll be okay with rest.”

I breathe a sigh of relief.

“That’s good to hear,” I say with a small grin.

Luna raises an eyebrow at me before a more serious expression returns to her face.

“Saffire, no one else could have done that but you. You did well,” she says softly, her dark brown eyes looking at me softly, reflecting the little bit of light emanating from the fire.

“Thank you,” I whisper back, glancing at the scorched building. The structure is almost completely charred, like the fire took all the life out of it. I watch a portion fall to the ground, leaving only a small section still standing.

Luna nods and heads towards Ana and Ehren, leaving me alone.

I fall to the ground, exhausted, like all the energy has been sapped out of me. I sit on the ground, breathing in the clear air, looking at the other water wielders putting out the last of the flames.

Coburn comes up to me moments later, sitting next to me. The whites of his eyes are pink, though they don’t look as glazed over as they did when he was inside, which I take as a good sign. A burned hole in his shirt near his ribs and soot covering half of his face.

“What happened in there?” He asks, his voice raspy.

A large pink mark extends from the base of his chin to his neck, the burn disappearing behind the blackened neckline of his shirt. It’s not scarlet anymore, but it still looks painful; Luna must have healed it while I was still inside dealing with Jaxson.

He shouldn’t have been in there.

“I’ll tell you later. It’s a long story,” I reply quietly, “Are you okay?” I ask, reaching for his face.

He grimaces for a second and grabs my hand.

“I’m fine, Saf. Really. Luna took the edge off and she’ll heal the rest when we get back,” he grins at me, though it looks forced, like he’s hiding something.

My upper body sways to the side and I lean against him.

I feel so – drained.

I close my eyes for a second before I jolt awake again.

He smiles and looks down.

“Come on, Sparks,” he helps me up and I feel some of my energy start to come back.

I feel cool air on my shoulder; I look over and see my shoulder completely exposed, my shirt completely singed from where I got hit. My skin is unscathed, but I can see a dark purple colour starting to bubble beneath the surface of my shoulder and up my collarbone. I have a feeling this is going to be sore tomorrow.

I glance at Coburn again.

I find myself feeling irate with him. Why would he have gone in there? He had no reason to, and he got hurt in the process. He could have died from smoke inhalation, or he could have burned to death, he could have been crushed by debris, or any number of other terrible things could have happened to him while he was in there. Even if it was only for a few minutes, he’s lucky that he got out of there when he did; or I guess he’s lucky I made him get out of there when I did. He had no reason to put himself in harms way, and I hate that he did. I’m angry that he got hurt, and I’m angry he went in there in the first place.

He shouldn’t have been in there.

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