Author’s Note: This is the scene I was doing before I stopped to finish “After the Flood.” I think I like having that part go first better, even if this has some of the necessary details of “how.” It also might not belong to the overall story, but I’ll see how I feel about it later.
“Wait,” Sherwin said, stopping and grabbing hold of his sister, closing his eyes. Cress watched them in silence, knowing the signs of when they were listening to the wind. Air and earth seemed more attuned to their surroundings, able to hear and feel things at great distance—though Oceana could sometimes sense things from the water. He’d never done that, but he didn’t care if he did or not. He had enough “gifts.”
He’d been the first to break a mirror, and he still cursed himself for that day. He wondered if that was what was behind that saying about breaking a mirror causing years of bad luck, if the ancient beliefs about corruption of the soul were in part based on people like them, people who could tap into the other dimensions and manipulate this world through it. That would mean that he understood half of what he did and why he did it, why he could do it, but he never had, and he didn’t figure that he ever would.
Moira’s eyes snapped open, and she yanked herself free from her brother, shaking her head even as the breeze stirred around her. That expression said scared, but Moira didn’t do scared.
Terra frowned, her eyes darting between Moira and Sherwin. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Fire,” Sherwin said. “Not their kind. Ours. Has a different scent. Doesn’t die out like it should. This one’s been going for a while.”
“It has to be Enya, doesn’t it?”
“No, we want it to be Enya. If it’s not her, then it’s someone who can control fire, and you know what that means,” Oceana said, shaking her head. She frowned, biting her lip as she studied Cress. “We can’t do this. You’re too exhausted to deal with a firebug, even if it is Enya.”
“Water isn’t the only thing that puts out a fire,” Terra reminded her, giving her a dark look. “I know that you don’t trust me after what happened to Stone, and I—I don’t know that I blame you for that, but what there are other ways of dealing with one of them than having either of you manipulate water. Sherwin and Moira can cut out the air supply, make it impossible for it to spread, and I can cover the flames with earth.”
“You mean… work like a real team for a change?” Oceana asked, her lips twisted into a smile that was not the least bit friendly.
Cress touched his sister’s shoulder, and she cursed him even as her temper cooled. Terra had made a mistake, that was undeniable, and Stone had paid the price, but that was how it worked between most siblings. Only Enya had avoided that, but no one would pick her path, either.
“I’ll let you handle the fire,” Cress told them. “I will go after the firebug myself.”
“Occie, I love you, but you know you can’t douse them fast enough.”
She sighed. Her control had never been as good as his, and her abilities weren’t the same as his, either. Point, counterpoint. None of them were meant to do this on their own. “I don’t know that I want you do to this. You could push yourself too far this time.”
He put his hands on her cheeks and leaned his head against hers. “That is why I have you, remember?”
“Stop trying to lull me into thinking this is nothing. I know better. We just lost Stone. We can’t afford to lose you.”
Sometimes he thought getting captured or killed would be a relief, but he never voiced the thought. His job was keeping them calm and as united as possible. He stepped back, giving Moira the keys. “You drive. I’m going to rest as much as I can before we get there.”
“She doesn’t know where to go.”