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: The bond forming between Flint and Enya is… necessary. She needs his help so that she can control what she can do. She also needs a friend/brother-type like him, I think.

The Truth about Fire

“What’s the number one misconception about fire elementals?”

“They all smoke,” Enya said, folding her arms over her chest. She wasn’t sure she wanted to do this now, but they didn’t have a lot of time left at the lake. Just a little while longer, enough time for everyone else to load up the car and let Terra rest and Cress recoup a bit before they started running again. She knew it hadn’t been long enough—it never was. He couldn’t seem to get enough rest to rebuild himself.

“Yeah, exactly. Why do they all assume we’d want to do that? Think about it. We know what’s burning. We can feel it. The tar and the other things in cigarettes and cigars… Yuck. It’s not as simple as needing fire. We’re not necessarily pyromaniacs, but we are in some ways. We can get comfort from it, and we can give off heat…”

“When we lived on the end of that block, we never paid for water or heating. My parents could keep us all warm even in the worst of the winter, and the Washburnes made sure we had enough water. The whole ‘firebug’ thing is a bad stereotype.”

Flint shrugged. “Don’t think that we’re not, though. You and me, Maggie and your family, we’re exceptions, not the rule. I know plenty of us that are crazy. Those wildfires a few years back, that was one of us—”

“I know. Cress told me. He and the others had to stop him. It… upset him, I could tell, because he couldn’t find a way to get that guy to stop other than keeping him sedated constantly.”

“Treating everyone who isn’t a part of your little group as rogues—”

“Judge, jury, and executioner?”

Flint gave her a look. “Well, sometimes I’m sure they must have acted like that. Even if they don’t kill. Then again, we don’t have the same kind of… rules in the first place. Normals can’t stop us. If we did abuse our abilities against them… A single one of us could kill thousands of them and even their bullets couldn’t stop us. Maggie could get fires up high enough to burn them if she wanted, or she’d just burn the guns. Your earth elementals can block them, air can divert them, and same with water.”

“Tranquilizers would be better, though they might still be diverted.”

“Point being, someone has to keep the rest of us in check. Some of us aren’t out to abuse anything. Some of us are, and who’s going to stop them if they make that choice?”

Enya’s eyes went to the water. “Cress did, but then again, he knows what it’s like to deal with elementals who abuse their abilities.”

“I had a warped thought—don’t mind me, I get plenty of them—but could part of the plan have been to make him kill his parents? Maybe he was supposed to… cross to the dark side when he did.”

She shivered. “I hope not, but if that was true, at least he and Occie managed to resist that no matter what their parents did to them.”

Flint touched her shoulder, and she felt warmth spread over her, and she choked, fighting tears. She hadn’t felt this since her parents did. Comfort and safety, this feeling of warmth had nothing to do with desire or stupidity like what Sherwin did to her. This was the warmest, softest blanket, a symbol of care and kindness—she didn’t want to say love because that wasn’t what was between her and Flint but it had been like that with her family.


“No one’s done that since my family died.”

He grimaced. “Sorry. I seem to bring up a lot of bad memories for you without trying to. I’m not… Maggie and I used to do that all the time, more her doing it to me—Damn, she was so strong—but I wasn’t thinking—”

“It’s not… bad. I missed it. It’s just hard at the same time. I envy you, not being afraid of it or of yourself, and even having your sister with you for as long as you did. Aidan… he never got much of a chance, and I made things worse because he was more willing to work on his control than I was. Every time I did something, though, I… It was like someone else was in control of me, some other woman with fire, and all she wanted was to destroy. The only thing that stopped her was Cress, and he almost had to kill himself to do it.”

Flint took her hands. “If I wasn’t fire, you’d see nothing but burns on me. Maggie and I were pretty young when we found out what we could do, and it was out of control for a while. We did some horrible things to each other, but we both survived. I’m not scared. Anything you do I’ve probably been through before. I’ve gotten good at controlling things, have been for over twenty years now. Washburne is right—you can do it without him.”

She took a deep breath. “I bet he thinks he’s holding me back. He would.”

“He grounds you, and you ground him. That’s different. We all need balance, and it isn’t always found in a sibling.” Flint let go of her and reached into his pocket. He put his lighter in her hand. “Only if you want to. You don’t have to keep it.”

She opened up the lighter and closed it again. “If you don’t mind, I’ll just… hold onto this and adjust to the idea of it for a while.”

“Sounds good.”

“It must be frustrating, trying to teach someone who is so… slow, who’s such a coward—”

“No. Maggie once said that fire made her a real bitch, and I shook my head, trying to tell her that she wasn’t, but she had to fight against the same thing you did. I had to push her a few times, and she was the strong one out of the two of us. Still, there were times when she wanted to give up, when she said she’d rather die than go on with our ‘curse.’ She never killed anyone, but she came close a few times, and it scared her. She had me to pull her back and help her rein in the fire. You didn’t.”

“I had Cress.”

Flint shook his head. “Not in the same way. You’re terrified of causing a fire he can’t overcome because you—more than anyone else besides his sister—know how much it takes out of him to help you, and you don’t want to put him through it any more than he wants to see you hurt when you lose control. I guess, in a sense, you held back for him, so maybe he’s right in thinking he does hold you back, but I’ve only seen one elemental more powerful than he is—unless what I suspect about you is true—and so he can handle anything you throw at him.”

“He shouldn’t have to. He does too much already.”

“Yeah, and you all let him do it. It’s not that he’s the only one who can, but you’ve all fallen into a pattern where you assume he is and he always steps in and does it, so it reenforces itself. Go ahead. Burn me. You’ll see that not only can I handle it, I don’t need a water elemental to put it out.”

“I am not going to burn you. I might shove you in the water, though.”

Flint laughed.

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