Author’s Note: Trying to get Enya toward control was not an easy thing to do. Even the baby steps in the beginning were rather difficult for her to accept.
“Sorry. I guess my mind was wandering. How much longer can we stay here? Cress and Occie aren’t back yet, but if it’s getting to be time to go—”
“Almost. Cress should be on his way. He always had decent timing with that, and we need to get to somewhere where we can regroup properly—clothes, food, showers, all of that good stuff,” Moira said, putting a hand on her arm. “Look, I don’t know if you—I don’t want to do this. It isn’t my place, but it’s going to end up making another division between all of us, and I know we can’t afford that.”
“Moira, I… There’s no way I can jump from fear of killing everyone I’ve ever cared about to being able to accept Flint’s offer just like that,” Enya told her. She let out a breath. She’d been trying to be rational about it, trying not to let the instinctive panic always win, but it wasn’t something she was comfortable with. She’d only ever destroyed things when she tried to use fire, and she didn’t know why she would ever want to do that.
“No one is expecting you to accept it easily,” Moira said, turning to look back at the others. “Maybe some of them wish you could just do it, but that doesn’t make them right.”
“If we were going to do it, we’d have to find another lake. That way Cress could have a constant source to renew his strength if he had to stop me and if he or Occie weren’t there, you or Sherwin could knock me back in the water until I came around again.”
Moira nodded. “I’d agree, but I’m surprised you were willing to give it that much consideration.”
Enya sighed. “The entire time since I’ve been back with you, all I feel is helpless. I was able to dig up a few facts on the computer, but any of you could do that, too. I could drive, but then you all can drive. You, Sherwin, Terra, Cress, and Occie, you all fought to save us back there, and there was nothing I could do. When those people were frozen, I couldn’t help them, either. I don’t like being helpless or useless. It scares me to think of using fire, and I know none of us are sure if we can trust Flint or not, even if Cress says his emotions are genuine, so I’m not… thrilled about the idea, but I don’t want to go on living in fear or always hurting people. If it really is possible that Flint could teach me to overcome that and have control… I think I should want that. I’m too confused to be sure, too upset and all over the place. So much has happened…”
“Even with Cress sitting with you a couple times, you haven’t had much of a chance to process what happened at your house the other night.”
Enya closed her eyes. She didn’t want to think about that. She didn’t want to be reminded of her latest kills. “I’m… I’d rather not deal with that.”
“You can’t avoid it. Bottling things up never helped anyone. If you don’t believe that, look at Cress. You know how much of a mess he is. Or Occie. You think she’s doing that well? She lost Stone, and she couldn’t even let herself grieve. Terra was all over the place, but Occie, she just shoved that down like she didn’t feel a thing.”
“She did, she had to, but Cress is her brother. She knows what emotions do to him, and she has to bottle hers, or she can’t help him. It’s a twisted cycle with them. She’s right, though. He needs to get away from all of this.”
Moira’s eyes went to the window. “The team is all he has, Enya. How easy was it for you to build a life when you were gone? Do you honestly think he could do that? He might have dozens of people who want to be around him, like leeches feeding off his ability. At least we know what we cost him and try and minimize it. Strangers wouldn’t bother. Remember all those normals at school, how they would drain him every day. Without us, he’s more vulnerable than ever. I know it’s not me, but if it was… I’d rather bleed for the ones I love than for strangers.”
Enya sighed. “He shouldn’t have to do it at all. We don’t know of any other elemental who got that part, do we?”
“No. Sometimes I think I should be able to read emotions in the air currents, but I haven’t quite gotten there. Sherwin swears that he can feel when someone wants him, but you know him.”
“Stone told Occie once that he can get some sense of what people are feeling if he’s touching the same dirt as them. He put his hand next to hers and told her she was lying about loving him. She made water come up from the ground, mud splattered his face, and she didn’t talk to him for a week after that. I don’t know that he was wrong, though.”
Enya bit her lip. “I never got anything from fire except fear.”
“No one asked for your opinion, Firebug.”
He shrugged. “I think I’d be willing to go along with this insanity just for the sake of pushing your buttons, Windy. It’s way too easy to get under your skin, isn’t it? No one’s rattled you for a long time, but I’m just the right person to do it.”
“Don’t start talking like my brother. I’ll shove you into a brick building next time.”
He grinned, ignoring her as he turned to Enya. “How about a lesson that doesn’t involve you doing anything with your abilities? I’m just curious to see if you can manipulate something I start without breaking a mirror. You don’t have to give me an answer right away. Take as long as you need.”
She frowned. “Why do you care?”
“If you’re as powerful as I think you are, we’re going to need you to stop Aether, and I want to stop Aether.” Flint put his hands in his pockets. “I’ve got another selfish reason—I miss my sister. I miss what it was like to have her around, how it felt to be in balance… I bet you do, too.”
“I… Aidan and I never had control and I…” Enya swallowed, not wanting to start panicking, but before she could, she felt something cool wash over her, turning toward the door to see Cress walking back inside.
She smiled, hesitant, wanting to go to him and be closer to that feeling he generated, but he’d just started renewing himself. She couldn’t do that to him. Flint shoved her forward, and she stumbled, wishing she had some control to make him pay for that, but he just grinned as the hand touched her arm. She looked up at Cress, feeling stupid.
He fought a smile. “Hi.”
“Did you get a good swim?”
“Not really. You okay?”
She nodded. “I am. I’m getting better, I swear. Not sure I can go controlling that monster on the other side of the glass, but I’m not panicking at the idea of trying right now, and that’s got to be an improvement, right?”
A dozen things ran through her head, things to say or do, and she couldn’t think. She didn’t want to try and sort it out around him, that would hurt him too much, so she just wrapped her arms around him and tried not to think at all. It wasn’t so hard. This felt right.