Kaede and I return to the silent dorm wing after dinner with Hitomi and Gwen. It was unusually quiet without Andrei and Kat. I didn’t see Heath either. I wonder if they’ll be having a late dinner tonight.
I reach a hand for the doorknob when something on the floor catches both my eye and my magical attention. I pause a moment, staring sideways at the trail of water trickling out of Heath’s room. This doesn’t seem right to me.
“You go on ahead, I’ll catch up with you in a sec. I have a question for Kat,” I lie to Kaede. He nods with a smile and enters the room. I love how he doesn’t ask questions.
I turn from the door and slowly approach Heath’s room. The door is unlocked and the water is definitely coming from inside. I pull it open and lean my head through the door, calling out for him.
“Heath? Are you in here? Is… everything alright?” I ask. A knot of worry grows in my stomach, knowing that he’s similar to Kat and that water is a weakness to his element. I step into the room when no one answers.
The room is dark, a pile of clothing is left on the couch. I scan the room, following the trail of water to the bedroom. As I enter the room I see that the bathroom door hangs open. I can now hear the sound of running water. Perhaps I was mistaken and he’s merely showering… but then, the trail of water suggests something more to me. The water inside my head feels concerned.
I call out again, louder. Maybe he didn’t hear me over the water. “Heath? Are you there?”
My call is met with silence.
With a growing sense of worry, I creep into the bathroom. I would hate to surprise him and walk in on him naked, but what if he’s in trouble? I approach the door and slowly lean past it, peeking inside. The floor is flooded in water and the shower is indeed on, but the curtain hangs slanted from the rings, torn halfway. My hands shoot up to my mouth as I gasp in fear. Heath lays on the floor, fully clothed, lips blue, motionless.
I dash into the bathroom, splashing through the icy cold water. This most certainly would hurt him… but why? Why did this happen? Who did this to him?
I reach for the tap and switch the water off. I turn as I hear him groan, half-open eyes looking up at me from the floor of the shower.
“What in God’s name happened?!” I shout, pulling the water away from him and directing it down the drain.
His arm shoots out, gripping my wrist firmly, preventing me from moving the water. I glare down at him.
“That hurts, stop it,” I cringe.
“…Stop,” he says weakly, barely a whisper. My heart thumps. He did this, to himself.
“You’re killing yourself!” I shout.
“I know,” he whispers through frozen lips.
“You’re out of your mind! I’m not letting you kill yourself,” I huff, twisting my wrist out of his grasp.
He groans, barely able to move. “Please, leave me alone,” he breathes.
“No! I can’t,” I insist, grabbing his arms and pulling him from the shower. He’s surprisingly light. I drag him out of the bathroom and into the bedroom.
“Noo…” he whines, head twisting as if to drag himself back into the shower. I take his head in both my heads, forcing him to look at me, away from the bathroom.
“Stop this. This isn’t right. You need to talk. Hurting yourself like this won’t fix whatever it is that you’re upset about,” I grind my teeth. This is all too familiar to me. Why am I always the one to find out first?
“I only make things worse,” he moans. His temperature is frigid to the touch, even to me. I know this is bad. Lava, like Fire, is naturally hot and if he’s colder than me, then I know his magic is drained. “If I don’t, he’ll come back. He always comes… he won’t shut up…” he whispers.
I flinch. “He? Who? What are you talking about?” I ask.
His eyes dart to the right and he doesn’t say.
“Tell me! Who are you talking about? Who comes when you aren’t dying of hypothermia?” I demand.
“The voice. Lava,” he mutters through blue lips.
I feel a chill myself. His own magic? The voice of his element? Why is he afraid of it? What would drive him to do such a thing as this?
I release his head, letting him lay there weakly as I pull the water from his clothes. At least I don’t have to change someone when they get wet. That would just make things awkward. I pull the water until he’s dry and then I grab him by the shoulders, wrapping my arms around his chest from behind and drag him over to the bed. I attempt, with great effort, to get him comfortable, on the bed. After what seems like an hour, I manage to get him laying down.
“Why are you doing this?” he asks me weakly.
“Because it’s necessary. Kat wouldn’t want to have another student of hers die. Besides, you’re in no condition to be asking questions,” I poke his chest firmly with my finger. He flinches but doesn’t respond otherwise. He’s made himself too weak to do much of anything. Even his speaking is slow and slurred.
“Tell me about the voice. Why are you scared of it?” I ask pointedly.
Heath hesitates, reluctant to answer, but I wait patiently on the edge of the bed.
His eyes slide to the side as he speaks. “He is twisted and selfish. He makes me do things, horrible things. I can’t stop him!” His pace quickens and I feel on edge as he continues. “Kaitlyn thinks I can hold him back but she’s wrong. I’m weak and I don’t know how. Everything I do only makes it worse.”
“What do you do? What is he making you do?” I ask. His eyes turn to me, a painfully sad look in them.
“Horrible things. Dirty things,” he whispers reluctantly.
“Like what?” I press. He has to say it or it’ll only make his guilt worse. He’s on the brink, trying to imply without revealing.
“I’ve raped her…” he says in the smallest of voices. I see a tear slide out of his eyes and he refuses to look at me. My heart thumps in my chest and I can only guess who he means by her.
His face twists into one of pain as the dam of emotions is broken. I don’t know Heath that well, which certainly doesn’t help, but he seems extremely distraught. I reach a hand out to his arm and place it there gently, shushing him.
“Heath, I want to help, but in order for me to do that, I need to know everything. Can you tell me?” I ask.
He shakes his head no, squeezing his eyes shut. “I can’t,” he chokes. I know I need to be patient. I let him cry, weak as he is, he can’t even wipe his face. I reach across to the nightstand and grab a tissue. When he stops, I hand it to him, but he refuses to take it
With a perturbed sigh, I dab his eyes.
“I never heard it before coming here. I’d forgotten. When I first got this way we made a deal. Now, he wants her back. He takes over me, constantly taunting me. I can’t get him to leave. He wants the Fire so bad, he makes me do the things he says they used to do together. I see everything as if it were me. Kaitlyn, she doesn’t even blame me, always refers to it as him, but I can’t tell the difference anymore. I can’t live with myself. I shouldn’t have come here. I knew it was a mistake,” he rambles.
“Nonsense. You coming here was the best this you will ever do. If you hadn’t come, then the Master would have found you and you’d be working against us. He almost got Hitomi that way. He found her before we could. We were lucky his lackeys brought her with them to Africa and we saw she wasn’t working with them,” I explain.
“You don’t understand,” he sighs. “I have no control.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t have control either when I first came. I caused floods. That doesn’t mean you give up. We’re all here to help you. That’s what we do here,” I purse my lips with annoyance.
“Does your element make you do things against your will?” he asks pointedly.
“No,” I answer sadly. “I don’t have that problem.”
“Then how can you possibly understand the anguish that I feel,” his eyes dart toward the ceiling, avoiding mine again. I feel like if I knew him better this wouldn’t be so difficult.
He’s silent for a long while and I continue to watch him with concern, afraid to leave him alone. I see a shift in his face and his eyes slide down to look at me, pointedly. I freeze feeling a certain dread at his look.
“You think to give him strength over me with sympathy?” his voice sounds different and his eyes, they no longer look pained and weak, but firm and filled with hate, glowing even.
“So, you are who Heath was talking about. How is it that you can even speak right now?” I ask.
He regards me before answering. “He is no longer in physical pain, as he so clearly told you before. The water is his only defense,” he sneers.
The water… but…
“But you would know that, wouldn’t you. You are she, the beholder of water.”
I shiver as he speaks. How is it that his element can do this?
‘Lava, always strong, always burning. Don’t listen to his words. His words are poison.’ The water chimes in my head.
I narrow my gaze at the Heath that lays beside me now, skeptically. “Why are you doing this to him? Surely your actions will kill your user if you continue like this,” I point out obviously.
“Don’t bring your all is one, one is all water ideals into this. There are no absolutes, as I’ve already explained to him. He isn’t able to kill himself, so I have nothing to worry about. Besides, even if he did, I’d just move to the next host, hopefully, someone more compatible than this loser.”
“How can you say such things! How is this… I- I just don’t get it! You’re not a person, you’re an entity! You’re a source of strength! You shouldn’t be able to do any of this! It’s just not possible!” I shout at him. He seems taken aback for a brief moment, but then the shock vanishes back behind those dark eyes, glowing with an inner malice.
“You could never understand the nature of my source. You are a whimsical pushover whilst I am the very core of this planet. I hold the strength to divide your waters in two,” he leers.
“Hardly, I would just erode you in…” I stop, realizing how that just sounded. My hand is on my lips and I stare at the sheets. I nearly slipped into the mindset that I was indeed the water, rather than myself.
‘But… we are one. We are together…’ it whispers softly in my head.
‘Yes, yes, but… I’m still me, Caroline and you are, well… water. A voice, a thing the gives me power. Not a person… right?’
‘Hmm… I don’t know… We all are one, but also different. But one.’
Great, now it’s stuck in a rut again. I can never get it straight, can I?
I turn back to Heath, or Lava, or whatever he is. He chuckles knowingly and I cringe inwardly at having shown a moment of uncertainty. Clearly, his words are his sword, or his poison, rather.
“Heath struggles to accept that what he wants and what I want are essentially the same. He just can’t morally accept what he has to do to get it. I, on the other hand, can do just that and not give a care. She was mine first and I want her back. She is the other thing that is compatible with him. Time stole her. I will not stop,” he says with a dead serious look.
I assume he’s referring to Kaitlyn, or rather, Fire, and by Time, he could only mean Andrei.
“But, if what you are indeed saying is true, then wouldn’t that mean she left you in the first place? I mean, you could look at it like time took her, sure, but, if they hadn’t met beforehand, then that means she left first. She left you, no?” I take a shot in the dark, trying to unseat his logic. The water hums in my ear thoughtfully.
“Impossible. She would never have left me. She was dependant on me. We wreaked havoc together! It was what we loved! We don’t change! We never change,” he grits his teeth.
“No, you can change. You’re wrong there. Nothing is stagnant, not even lava. Just look at your very nature, moving and flowing, covering over the old and making anew.”
“Stop! That’s not true. You’re twisting my words.”
I grin, knowing I’ve hooked it. I’m onto him. “No, I won’t stop, because it’s true. If you were stagnant then nothing would change but that’s what your core is about. Heath may have thought this way once, but he changed and just because you don’t agree or don’t get what you want out of that, doesn’t mean it’s right to use him like this. As a pair, you must respect each other.”
“Shut up! You know nothing of our relationship and respect. You don’t know a thing!” he growls.
“Ah, but I do. You told me enough to guess and you proved to me yourself that I was right. Heath, I know you’re there, I know you’re listening. Don’t let his words deceive you. You can change, he can change. Listen to me!” I call out to him.
He laughs back, a mean, hurtful laugh. “You can talk to him all you want, but he won’t listen. He can’t. He’s miiinne.” He pushes himself up, leaning forward in the bed, shaking. I lean back, fearful of him. It truly frightens me. I jump off the bed, backing away as he continues to laugh.
I’m too scared to stay, so I leave, but I’ll be keeping an eye on him. Someone has to. Heath can’t be left alone to fight this battle. He needs us, he needs friends. I stomp from his rooms, a newfound determination in my gut.
By Kayla West