Hotter Than Fire

266022
**Darkest Minds Fanfiction**
Tamarin is twelve years old when his little sister Chamberly is taken away by soldiers in black. Several inexplicable things happen that day, including explosions and unexplained fires. Six years later, now 16, Tam begins to understand everything that's happened. He discovers his identity as a red. Attempting to survive, he searches for Chamberly- joining up with some interesting allies along the way.

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11. The truth is out, and orange is back

 

    It’s dark when she wakes up. We’re hiding in an abandoned warehouse. I had already gotten a fire going, and had placed Kia as close to it as I dared. It’s hard to tell with others who aren’t fireproof like I am.

    First she begins to stir. Then her eyes open, and she sits up.

    Almost immediately, she sees me. “Tam.” I can’t tell what that means. Is she happy to see me? Angry? Scared?

    “Kia. Are you hungry?”

    She shakes her head, but I’m pretty sure she’s lying. She studies me with a cornered look.

    “Tam, what you did back there…”

    I can’t meet her eyes anymore. “I know. I should have told you. I’m a red, Kia.”

    She studies me. And then, unexpectedly, she smiles.

    “Why didn’t you tell me?! Reds are one of the most powerful adaptations. That makes everything so much better for both of us!”

    I stare at her in total shock. “Kia, this power is dangerous! It’s killed people!”

    “Yes, it certainly did a number on those soldiers,” she shrugs. “You haven’t killed me yet, and that power just saved my life.”

    “Kia…” I don’t know what to say. I want to hug her for being so kind and forgiving, but I couldn’t even bring myself to move. My heart feels like it’s melting. She doesn’t hate me. She isn’t afraid of me. This shouldn’t be true, and yet it is.

    “It’s okay, Tam,” she says gently. “It’s not your fault. It’s not anybody’s fault. You’re red, like I’m blue. Okay. So what? If it keeps us alive, I don’t care.”

    “How… how are you so calm about this?!” I demand in quiet disbelief. “Fire is one of the most dangerous powers. It’s gotten out of control before. If you knew what I’ve done… the people I’ve almost killed-“

    “Tam, we’ve all done some bad things,” Kia whispers gently. “We live in hell. That makes us go to the extremes. We all do what we have to do to survive. I don’t blame you.”

    I shake my head. A horrible urge to tell her everything rises inside of me. All the people I’ve killed- all the lives I’ve ruined- but I can’t. The words stick in my throat, and all I can do is shake my head despondently. She’s too kind of a person for me- too pure. But here she is.

    “Listen, Tam.” She pulls herself over to my side, and puts a hand on my shoulder. Her touch reminds me of Amaranth, and I shake that thought off quickly. “I don’t hate you, and I will never hate you. You’ve used that power to save my life again and again. So I don’t think it’s so bad. I think you’re a hero, and that you’re doing the best you can. I respect that. And I care. I care about everything you do. And I know you’re trying to survive, just like the rest of us.” She grips my arm. “I know you don’t think you deserve this, but the truth is that you do. You’re important, Tam, and I care about you. That should be enough.” She leans up, and before I can react she kisses my cheek.

    I freeze up. I have no idea how to react. Should I be angry at her, like I was at Amaranth? But no, there was nothing romantic about it. It was more of a sibling to another kind of thing. But still, I’m shocked.

    “I’m sorry, am I interrupting something?”

    I spin. Standing at the edge of the firelight is Amaranth.

    It’s unfair. I hate to see her, and she’s still gorgeous. She cocks her head, giving me a little flirtatious smile as she steps into the light. Almost instantly, my hand catches fire. Beside me, Kia lets out a quiet yelp and I instantly feel bad, but I keep my hand out, threatening Amaranth.

    “Don’t come any closer.”

    “Aw, come on Tam, is that any way to talk to me?” She studies Kia. “Is this your little girl? She’s cute.”

    “Her name is Kia. And she’s not mine.”

    “Yeah, whatever.” Amaranth studies the fire with a hungry light in her eyes. “I heard voices, and I need food. I was going to steal it later, but then I saw it was you. So, can I join the party?”

    I don’t want to let this snake anywhere near me, but Kia is already nodding.

    “Sure! Tam said he had food, right Tam?”

    Too late to back out now. I nod, and Amaranth smiles at Kia, who smiles back.

    “Thanks, sweetheart. I’m Amaranth, by the way.” She offers Kia her hand, and Kia takes it.

    “Kia.”

    They shake hands, and  that is that.  I’m now stuck with her. Now I have to keep watch so that she doesn't do something to us in our sleep.  I mentally curse Kia for being so innocent and trusting.  it's technically not her fault but I still wish she’d be a little more suspicious of people she didn't know. Because Amaranth claims to know me, that doesn't mean she's friendly. For all Kia knows she could be a psychopath, which isn't that far from the truth, actually, considering the fact that she messed with my brain for fun. Either way now I guess she's with us. I'll have to find a time where I can ditch her without Kia being suspicious. Which is easier said than done- Kia is pretty perceptive. Still, I can't risk having that orange around me.  I don't like the way my brain works, or rather doesn't work, when she's with me.

Honestly it's bad enough that she can control people's minds. Why does she have to be gorgeous as well? Or maybe my perception of her beauty just has to do with her mind-scrambling powers. I'm not entirely sure, and I'm not inclined to ask her. Either way she's dangerous to have around, and I don't want to take any risks. Her tricks might not work on me but they might work on Kia and I don't want to risk her getting hurt. The problem with Amaranth is that I don't know where she stands and I'm worried that she might do something to Kia just because she's jealous that she likes me better than I like her.

Honestly can you blame me? She screwed with my brain and kept me from following after Kia. She could have died because of Amaranth, so honestly I'm not sure why she thinks I would like her. We kissed once but that doesn't mean anything. She was using her powers to make me want to kiss her. I would never actually kiss her. Though for not wanting to kiss her, I seem to be doing a lot of thinking about it. It probably just had to be her powers again, and her being here, and wondering why she was here. I’m sure it had had nothing to do with the kiss feeling good join in any way shape or form. It was definitely not something I want to do again.

    And yet it had felt so good at the time.

    It was just her powers, Tam. Get a hold of yourself.

    “So Amaranth,” I ask, trying to start conversation and not sound horribly awkward. “What brings you here anyways? I thought you were off in the woods somewhere.”

“I got bored,” she replies cheerfully, “So I thought I would follow you. Life always seems to be more interesting when you're around.”

I feel my face turning red. Stupid orange for making my life even more difficult than it already is. Did she have to make everything she says sound like flirting? Maybe that's just my interpretation of what she’s saying. It's hard to be sure. Being with someone that can manipulate your mind definitely makes life much more complicated. I want to warn Kia but, Amaranth is sitting right there, and I really don't want to start an argument right now. So I sit in silence and hope she isn't manipulating Kia's mind. So I don't know if she would. I can't imagine her getting anything out of it other than entertainment, and I really don't see what's so entertaining about manipulating someone's mind. I mean honestly, who would take pleasure in that? It seems a little bit twisted, but then again, she did make me kiss her so I suppose her morals are a little loose. I quietly resolve to keep her away from Kia at all costs. She’s too young and innocent, and I don't want Amaranth twisting her in one way or another.  

I shove my bag towards Amaranth, doing my best to imply that I don't want her here. “Here. I have some food. You can eat, but don't take all of it.”

I'm sure she gets the meaning of my words, but she still gives me one of her dazzling smiles. She reaches into the bag, pulls out an apple, and starts munching on it. I don't miss the fact that Kia’s eyes stay on the apple with very hungry light.

I grab the bag and shove it towards Kia. “Here. You look hungry. You should eat.”

“I'm not hungry, Tam.” She's lying again. It's pretty obvious, by the fact that she’s not looking me in the eyes and is playing with her hands, while doing her best not to stare at the food. She's probably starving and hasn't eaten in days, and she’s still leaving the food. I can't imagine why. Maybe she thinks there will be more for me that way. Stupid Kia. Wonderful, kind hearted, stupid, self sacrificing Kia. But just because she's trying to help doesn't mean that I'm going to let her starve herself for me. She needs to eat and keep her strength up if we're going to find Chamberly.

“Eat,” I insist shoving the food a little closer. This time the sight of food tempts her. She snatches an apple, bringing it up to her mouth with care, like she’s worried it’ll disappear. She gives me an annoyed look to tell me that she's only eating because I told her to, but I think there's a bit of gratitude in her eyes as well. She chomps down the apple, and lets out a little soft sigh of appreciation. Judging by that, I believe my guess is correct, and she hasn't eaten in a long time. Seeing her happy brings a smile to my face- a smile that quickly falls as I see Amaranth staring at me. She quickly looks away but I don’t miss the deep interest in her eyes. I don’t like her looking at me that way.

“You guys should get some sleep,” I say finally. “I’ll keep watch.”

Kia shrugs and smiles, and then curls up on the floor. I silently thank her gentle, sweet innocence. But Amaranth, of course, knows exactly what I mean.

“I’m not going to hurt your little girl, Tam,” she says quietly.

I shoot a worried look at Kia, but she’s already asleep. I sigh, turning back to Amaranth. “I don’t want you here.”

She nods calmly. “I know that. I know you don’t like me. But how will you justify sending me away with your little girl? She’s a cute, kind hearted little thing. She wouldn’t understand. She’s the kind that just wants everybody to be friends. I can tell just by looking at her. I mean, look at how quick she was to invite me into your circle! Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to deal with me. Unless you want to explain to her why you cast a poor, defenseless girl out into the night.”

I can feel her touch on my mind, and I quickly bring Chamberly to mind. She pauses, then gives me a little half smile.

“You’re not defenseless,” I reply.

She shrugs. “She doesn’t know that.”

I scowl at her, and kick at the flames. As usual, the fire causes me no pain. I don’t know why I do it. Maybe just to show Amaranth that I can. She doesn’t look intimidated. She just watches as I kick at the fire again, scattering the logs and the coals. I’m careful to keep the sparks away from Kia. As the fire dims, I can see Amaranth’s eyes on me.

“Tam, why do you hate me so much?” she whispers. “I could be a powerful friend.”

“You lost your chance to be a friend when you tried to turn me away from Kia. Good night Amaranth.”

With that I close my eyes and lay down to sleep, trusting that she won't try anything in the night.

 
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