"Ow! Stop, that hurts!"

Jason ignored Andrea's plights and pressed harder against her burn. "I'm helping you, quit fighting it."

Stars flickered across his vision, and he lost his grip on her leg. Blinking against the confusion, he looked at her to find her hand still raised from slapping his face. Her brown face was twisted with pain, tears blurring her honey-colored eyes. "Don't touch me," she breathed, her silky voice strained.

"For the love of all that's good, Andrea, I'm helping you!"

"Don't touch me!"

"Alright! Alright." Jason stood and turned his back to her, crossing his arms with indignation.

He could hear Andrea struggle for a while, her breaths uneven as she moved against the pain. He imagined what she was doing. She wrapped her ankle with a bandage, hissing every time the cloth touched the blistering burn wrong. Then she moved on to her hands, tenderly caressing them in oil before fumbling a bandage around each finger. She took another cloth and wiped her face of the tears that spilled from her eyes. When she stilled, Jason glanced over his shoulder to see her shivering under her cloak.

"Are you cold?" he asked.

"No, I'm just yearning for the fire to consume the rest of my body."

"I can do without the attitude."

"Then don't ask stupid questions."

Jason gritted his teeth and approached. She scrambled away from him. Her hands weren't bandaged after all.

"I am trying to help you."

"Then stay away."

"I'm not going to let you die because of your own stubborn stupidity."

"You're only hurting me more."

"No, I'm helping. I told you it would hurt, but you ignored me and went through with it anyways. I can't take away the pain, but I can soothe it."

"Stay away."

"No." Jason stomped his foot, causing the ground around Andrea to tremble for a moment before the rock morphed against nature and trapped the girl. She yelped in surprise and anguish, but Jason continued to ignore her as he transformed the stone into a bed, cuffing her shins and forearms so she couldn't escape. Andrea screamed and struggled against the confinements, but she found the stone solid and unbreakable. Flames burst from her palms and she cowered before her own power.

"Now, hold still," Jason stated, a smirk flashing across his stoic expression. He unwound the cloth from her ankle and frowned at the burn. It had worsened in just the few minutes he was unable to attend to it. His own skin prickled in sympathetic pain, but he pushed aside the feeling and grasped her ankle.

Andrea twisted and jerked against the pain, unable to scream anymore. As he continued to hold her, infusing his palm with just enough ice to soothe her burn, until she eventually lost consciousness.

"Finally," he whispered. He rewrapped her ankle and encased the bandage in a thin layer of ice. Then he did the same to her hands, marveling that she hadn't noticed the burns on her palms, which were almost worse than the one on her foot.

Her wounds tended to, Jason shifted his focus to warming her. Since she was now cursed with the Fire, it would sap her body's natural warmth to fuel itself. That was why so few Flames lived in the mild climate they now found themselves in.

Jason flicked his wrist, a flame bursting above his palm. He pulled it apart, separating it into both hands, and snuffed the blaze in his right hand. Its warmth return to his core. He guided the flame in his left hand over Andrea's body, directing it to remain fixed over her core for a moment before spilling its heat into her body. Her shivers stopped immediately, and she relaxed under the constraints.

Morphing the stone into a chair, Jason fell into it and sighed heavily, holding his head. That had taken much more out of him than required. Thankfully, the Earth was willing to heed him today, obeying his directions without much resistance. If it had not, he would have barely maintained control of the Water, let alone share his Fire.

"I'll keep watch for you."

Jason looked up at the wispy apparition that hovered near Andrea. "Nice of you to join me," he muttered with more than a little bitterness.

"You know it is difficult to maintain this."

"Still, you could have come with me."

"That is not possible. Why do you insist on requesting the impossible from me?"

"You're the one who the Wind cursed."

"It is not a curse, Kyauta. I tell you that again and again."

"If it wasn't a curse, then it wouldn't hurt our bodies." Jason indicated towards Andrea, the ice around her burns slowly melting away. He would have to replenish that soon.

"She will learn to control it."

"It's Fire, Samira. Do you not know how few even learn how to live with the Fire? Most perish within the first year."

"... You're still here."

Jason scowled and turned away.

Samira's reflection glided to his side. "You should rest. I can tell that you have strained yourself to save her."

"Any good that'll do," he retorted. "Don't suffocate me like you did the last time." He closed his eyes before receiving an answer.

As he slept, Jason's dreams troubled his mind. He found himself running through a burning field. Rain fell from the sky but it could not extinguish the roaring fires around him. The wind swirled like a raging tornado, causing the flames to spread in all directions, as the ground trembled with the might of a thousand earthquakes. He tripped upon something and fell to the earth. Looking back, he found his foot caught in a skeletal hand, chunks of burned flesh clinging to bone. Shaking it off, Jason pulled back the debris to find the owner of the hand. His mother's face, marred with burns, peered up at him, her lips moving but no words coming from them. He stumbled away from her, panic snaring his heart as he continued to race through the fire.

He fell to his knees and screamed at the sky, his voice lost in the clamor. He reached into the fires, begging it to consume him as it consumed everyone else. It retreated from his approach, just as the pelting rain never touched him. Why? Jason screamed again at the world around him. Why couldn't the Elements swallow up him? Why wouldn't the Elements swallow up him?


He jolted up, slamming his body against his attacked and reaching for the throat. Then he realized that it was only Andrea. Her eyes stared widely at him with fear and confusion. He released her and quickly turned away.

"How did you...?" he began, too shaken to properly express his words.

"I thought you released me," she answered. "I woke up without any restraints."

He glanced at her, noting how she picked at the scabs on her palms. Just how long had he been asleep? For all the good Samira was worth. "Don't do that. They need to heal."

"Ah, right, sorry."

"Guess that rest cooled you off a bit."

Andrea chewed on her lip, wanting to say something but unsure how to express it. Jason wasn't in the mood to hear it, however. He stuffed the extra bandages into his pack and threw it across his shoulder before marching from the cave.

"Let's go, Andrea. I don't have all day. We need to get you to the Burns before you lose your Flame again."

"Th-the Burns?" she stammered, struggling to keep up with his wide gait. "Aren't they really dangerous?"

"Definitely. But you're a Flame now. Unless you intend to die of hypothermia, you need the heat from the Burns to maintain your Fire."

"But... you don't live in the Burns."

Jason's fist tightened around his pack. "No. I don't."

Andrea began to ask more questions, but a sharp glare from him stilled her tongue. Whatever secrets he carried, she wouldn't get to know them any time soon. Glancing down at the scabs on her palms, Andrea wondered if she would ever get to know the one they all called Kyauta. Gift.