Fire and Water

- A Serialized Novel -

Enya Royston has hidden from herself and her abilities, fearing the destruction that always comes with using them.

Author’s Note: So, now, a few things come out, things Cress did, things others did, and some aren’t a big surprise.

Many Revelations

“Cress still out?”

Terra didn’t know why Moira bothered asking, though of anyone, his sister had a better read on his condition. She knew what was real and what wasn’t—when he was lying about pushing too far and when he was okay. He’d been lying more and more lately, and they all knew it.

Oceana nodded. “He’s never been very good at dealing with frozen things, and maybe that has something to do with what that bastard did to him when they first met, but it took a lot out of him to do what he did, and he didn’t have much to work with in the first place.”

Moira let out a breath. “We’ll let him rest for as long as we can, but we have to get on the move again. We need to wipe the accounts our parents had and get a new vehicle. We can’t have anything they can trace.”

Enya looked at the laptop. Terra didn’t remember her grabbing it, but then she’d been distracted at the time. Enya would have thought of it. “We’ve got the information on the company. If we trace their holdings, we’ll probably find where Stone is. Or get an idea of where to look. Once we’re closer, Terra should be able to find him.”

Terra wasn’t half as confident as the others were. She’d messed this up good.

“Agreed, but the trouble is getting moving before they catch up to us. The banks are closed, so we can’t go after the money, and any time we do, they’ll pounce on it. I’m not sure I want to know how our parents got it, and I don’t want to use it if what I suspect is true, but we have to have something to rebuild with if we’re going to go after Stone.”

Sherwin frowned. “What do you mean, what you suspect? Spit it out, Occie.”

“I think that money was what they ‘earned’ by making us. A bunch of purebred elementals.”

“That’s sick.”

Terra pulled at her hair, twisting it around in her fingers. She didn’t like that concept any more than the others did, and a part of her wanted to spread mud all over Cress for suggesting it in the first place. He hated that. “Why would they do that? Why would anyone want to—and why would you assume that’s what our parents did?”

“Because they planned to marry Cress off to a girl who was water, too.”

Sherwin turned to Enya, staring at her. “What? Since when?”

“When he was dating Hannah,” Occie said. “They said it had to end, that he had to marry an elemental—and not just any elemental. It had to be someone attuned to water. They were still making the final arrangements when they died, so it never happened.”

“Damn. For a minute there, I thought we were about to find out that he’d been married all this time—wait, were you? What about you? Did they do the same thing to you? Is that why you and Stone were never… official?”

Occie glared at him. “Sherwin, you don’t know the first thing about love or about how the world works. You think you can have fun and enjoy your flings and it doesn’t matter who you date, or how often or if you ever see them again when we’ve moved on, but it doesn’t work that way. Cress understood. He said none of us would have a real relationship until it was over, and he didn’t know if it ever would be.”

“Yeah. ‘Cause Cress knows a lot about love. Hannah? Sure. That was true love.”

“You are so blind,” Moira said, shaking her head at her brother. “We need to focus on Stone, on getting him back. In the process, I figure we’ll do enough damage to this agency that we’ll take it down or render it less of a threat, at least. Maybe then we can take back our lives. If some of us choose to settle, that’s their choice and no judgments will be made. Cress always said living and working as a team was supposed to be temporary.”

“Only we’re still doing it over a decade later.” Sherwin glanced toward Enya. “Well, most of us, at least.”

“You have something to say to me, Sherwin? Something about how I ‘abandoned’ you, maybe? Or is this a criticism of Cress’ leadership?”

Terra did not want to see this descend into one of those fights. Most of the time, they had them behind his back—when he’d gone to visit Enya or something like that—and he didn’t know how many times they’d argued over his decisions, but in the end, they always went back to listening to him. Sometimes she wondered if he was hoping for them to take the responsibility away from him, but he was too loyal to step down unless they told him to, probably figuring that if Moira wasn’t stepping forward to take control that no one wanted it. “Not again. Just stop. We don’t have time to have this debate again. It’s already settled. Moira’s in charge now.”

“Yeah, but is that too little, too late?”

Oceana stiffened. “Cress did his best. He always did. Even if he made a mistake or a dozen of them, he’s human. We all are. He was trying. He always had our interests in mind, tried to do right by all of us. He did his best.”

“My best?” Cress demanded, sitting up and putting a hand to his head. “Sending Enya away and leaving Stone for dead? How can you say I did my best?”

“You… sent Enya away?” Sherwin stared at him and then turned to her, shaking his head. “Why didn’t you tell us he told you to go? Why did you let him put it all on you? They hated you for it, and all this time it was his fault?”

“He didn’t force me to go. He asked. I chose to go.”

“Enya, he let us all hate you. He never said a word about asking you to go.”

“He didn’t have to,” Moira said, and Sherwin stared at his sister. She shrugged. “He said enough about why she should go to convince me that he had been the one to ask her to go and for me to know that he was still struggling with having sent her away. He was constantly telling us why she shouldn’t be with us. Who the hell do you think he was trying to convince? Us or himself?”

Oceana nodded. “If there were hard feelings about Enya going, it wasn’t because she’d abandoned us. In case you’d forgotten, only a few weeks before that you were all walking on eggshells thinking she’d start another fire that would kill us all. You were scared of her, admit it.”

No one did. No one would.

Oceana sighed. She looked at Enya. “I never hated you for leaving. I understood that. I hated the fact that you could go when Cress needed to go just as much as you did if not more. Between leading us and the constant emotional drain that we all were, he was killing himself. Yeah, I wanted to hate you for it but not because you took off and left. I always knew he’d told you to go. I knew before he made up his mind about it that he was going to ask you to go, and I was the one who stayed with him after he did it. I knew what it cost him to ask. If people made assumptions about it, that was their own ignorance talking. He never once claimed you’d come up with the idea yourself.”

“I never once said otherwise, either.”

“Well, as I said, for some of us, you didn’t have to,” Moira told him, putting a hand on his shoulder. “I want to ask you a lot more about the stuff your parents did. You up to it?”

He ran a hand through his hair. “I suppose I should do it even if I don’t want to. I need to sort out what of our past was real and what they let us think was real. I’m pretty sure that at least the two of them were manipulating us all along. I don’t know if the others had any part in it. I actually don’t think Enya’s parents did.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Because mine let them die, and if they were allies, that wouldn’t have happened.”

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