My phone buzzes loudly on the wood of my nightstand. I yawn and roll over slowly to reach it. Who would be texting me at this time? It's past midnight! I'm trying to sleep! I press the 'unlock' button and turn my head away quickly as the brightness of the screen sends me into temporary blindness. I turn back to the device and, once I've read the screen, a large smile springs onto my face.
1 New Message.
Me and Scott had exchanged numbers earlier today after I found him on the bleachers. He promised to contact me with news on when we could 'train' with our abilities. He's way too serious about this stuff. I select 'Open' and yawn again.
Hey. Football field. Now. Training time. Race you there. Scott x
But it's 1am! :O E x
Technically, it's 00:51, which gives you 9 minutes to get yourself to the school football field. S x
I quickly slip on some comfortable clothes and a big warm hoodie, before sneaking quietly down the stairs and out of the door. Yet another thing I'll be lying to my mother about later.
I reach the football field at precisely 01:02, after half-walking, half-jogging there. I walk slowly to the centre of the field. Where's Scott? A cold breeze makes me shiver and shrug my hoodie up higher. This is a really creepy place in the dark. Alone.
"You're late." The amused voice behind me makes me jump. I turn and let an unstoppable grin claim my face when I see him. Scott.
"I think you can let me off 2 minutes." I say, wrapping my arms around his neck.
"Hmmm..." He nibbles his lower lip in concentration. "Okay, but you owe me."
"Owe you what?" I ask, giggling.
"This." He whispers and kisses me softly, before pulling back quickly. "But, another time. Training now!"
"Seriously? You'd choose training over kissing?" I raise me eyebrow. "You need to lighten up."
"And you need to learn to control the flame thrower on your head!" He winks at me and starts off down the field. "Come."
I roll my eyes and follow him. My 'bad habit' has got worse since we've been spending more time together. He's so perfectly infuriating.
"Okay, go." He orders when we are in the centre of the field.
"Flip your hair." He says, nodding.
"But what if there's someone-"
"There's not. I checked." He gives me a comforting smile. "Plus, what kinda weirdos hang out in a school football field at 1am?"
I giggle and relax slightly. I knew I'd have to use my ability again at some point. I have to deal with this. I take a deep breath and flip my hair, sending it flying around my head like some sort of halo. And then... Nothing.
"What?" I whisper to myself. "I don't understand- I- I mean... What?"
"What happened?" Scott calls from where he was stood - safe, none burning distance away.
"I don't know." I reply. "It won't work!"
He walks back over to me and takes my hand. He pulls me down and we sit on the grass together.
"Okay... Let’s think this through." He says calmly. "When have you managed to do it before?"
"You were there all three times; prom, afterwards out here and that time you were walking away from me in the alley." I say, scanning my mind to recall the incidents.
"So what was different about those times?" He asks me gently.
"I don't know. It can't be that I'm tired; I was exhausted after prom. It can't be that you're telling me to because I've done it on cue before." I'm so confused. What if my problem has gone? What if I can't set myself on fire anymore? I thought that would make me happy. No more lying. I couldn't even handle a few days of lying to my mother, let alone a lifetime - and if it went away, I wouldn't have to. But this is my connection to Scott. Will he still want me if I'm not different anymore? Not special?
"Well, how were you feeling then?" Scott's voice snaps me from my train of thought.
"Ummm..." I close my eyes and refocus my thoughts. "Well, at prom I was really excited - practically buzzing. Afterwards, I guess I was scared - of what I was, of who you were. And then, in the alley, I was..." It is only now it dawns on me how strongly I was actually feeling. "I was terrified." I whisper. "I was so afraid to lose you..."
"Would you say those emotions were quite strong?" He asks, sounding rather intrigued.
"Yeah, I'd say so."
"Okay." He pauses. "I have an idea."
"Really? What i-"
He cuts me off with a strong kiss. At first I am completely startled. What is he doing? I thought he said he had an idea. I can't help but kiss him back. I'm not complaining, I'd choose making out over setting myself on fire any day. He deepens the kiss, leaning forward, pushing me back to lie on the sharp, dry grass. I feel my body relax as I wrap my arms around him and pull him closer to me. He can never be close enough. My heart begins to race under his body; his smile growing through our kiss tells me that he feels it too. I kiss him harder before, suddenly, he stops.
"Right," he starts, standing and offering me his hand "Try again."
"Are you kidding me?!" I stare at him in disbelief. Seriously?!
"Nope, come on!" I sigh and take his hand.
Once I am on my feet, he walks a couple of meters away, into the 'burn-free' zone, before nodding to me. I sigh another heavy, exasperated sigh and try again. To my surprise, this time, it works! I feel the already familiar warmth claim my scalp and see the grin break onto Scott's face. Also to my surprise, I feel happy - relieved even - that it worked. I want this.
"Okay, please calm down because I just want to hug you now!" Scott shouts over the roar of the flames. I remember the first words he said to me, about slowing my breathing, and obey them. Gradually, the warmth recedes. Scott runs towards me and takes me into his arms, spinning us around.
"It worked! I'm so proud of you!" He says as he puts me down, a huge smile on his face.
"What worked? I didn't do anything." I laugh.
"I figured maybe you needed heightened emotion to bring out your flames. And kissing you seemed like the most logical - and enjoyable - way to provide that emotion. And it worked!" He explains. That kinda makes sense.
"Scott, how do you figure this stuff out?" my curiosity forces me to ask. "I mean, I could kinda just understand how you got to that conclusion, but how did you know about how to make it go away at prom?"
"You're lucky." He starts. "Really lucky! You have an amazing ability that you can almost completely control. I don't. I have a dangerous weapon in my head and it's always firing. So, when it first happened, my eyes I mean, I tried so desperately to find a way to stop it. I decided to do some research to see if there was anyone else like me. I found that there were a few teens like us who had been discovered - teens who were different, powerful. I read through hundreds of online reports and the point about them being able to control their gifts when they were calm came up regularly. So, I tried, again and again. But still, my eyes destroyed everything. I researched more and more, trying to find different techniques to calm myself when the tell-tale head aches and harsh burning told me that one of my outbursts was coming on. But it never worked."
"You mean, it never used to be constant?" I asked, completely wrapped up in empathy at his story.
"No, when my ability first manifested, it was patchy - came and went. But after a few months, it started and hasn't stopped since." His voice begins to fill with more and more emotion. Oh, Scott! And I thought this was difficult for me...
"So, what did you do? How did you stop it?" I ask. I feel guilty for pushing him more, but my curiosity gets the best of me.
"Well, luckily, just before my ability manifested permanently, I did more research, this time, into containing it, not controlling it. I discovered ruby quartz. I found that this mineral could repel certain types of energy, so I decided to try it. I had my glasses made and wore them whenever the headaches and burning returned. Then, I put them on one day, and haven't really been able to take them off since."
I pull him into a strong embrace. Poor Scott. No one should have to live their life this way. I suddenly feel very guilty for my dislike of my gift. What reason do I have? I can control mine, live a completely normal life. Scott can't.
"Oh, Scott. I'm so sorry!" My voice wavers, on the edge of tears.
"It's not your fault. Don't apologize." He whispers, wrapping his strong arms around me and returning my hug.
"You shouldn't have to live in fear of your gift. You should be able to enjoy it - it's amazing!" I say, it comes out almost like a plea, as one tear slips down my cheek.
"Exactly," he holds me at arm’s length and examines me. "Which is why I want to help you do that!"
"I'm so so sorry, Scott. You don't deserve this." I sob. He shrugs and pulls me to him again.
"Maybe I do." He whispers.