Chapter 28 – Fire

It was in his arms I landed, and it was him that saved me from myself. Though I had made it from Sheelin, I wasn't well. In fact, I was rather well done as far as steaks go. I had transitioned, and that wasn't something that anyone could walk away unscathed from.

The smoke around us clouded my view, but I knew he was putting me back together again. My skin felt like leather. I couldn't move a muscle, but I felt Derry's lips on mine and I breathed a sigh of relief. Where his moist mouth touched me, I could move. He worked his lips across my face, kissing me everywhere he went, and everywhere he kissed me, it felt like my skin was righting itself.

Derry continued to work his magic all across my face, down my neck, down my arms, and before too long I started to feel whole again.

I had known that he was a part of me. I had known that he had helped me become who I was, but I hadn't really considered how literal that connection was. My fire flowed through him. His fire flowed through me. We were one, and together we would never run out of fuel. We would share it, pass it back and forth, and truly complete each other. We had achieved absolute synergy.

When he was finished, he wound his hands around my neck and rested his cheek against my cheek.

"I didn't think I would ever see you again," he whispered.

Then, he cried, and everywhere his tears touched my skin, I could feel it finishing the healing process. It wasn't the kisses that had cured me. It was his tears. I turned my face and connected my lips to his.

I had to come back, I said smartly. I had papers to sign, didn't I?

He chuckled. "You didn't want to disappoint your dad?"

"No!" I stated resolutely. "I'm the best daughter ever."

"You really are," Derry agreed. "I wish you could have seen his face when she showed up."

"I'm sorry that I missed it."

Derry placed his hands on my cheeks, and he replayed the memory in his mind. It was like watching a picture show only the two of us could see. I wanted to explore the ability, but I had other things that I wanted to do first.

I leaned forward and pressed my lips to his one more time. They were warm, inviting, and most of all familiar. They tasted of Morning Glories and Sunshine, and I wanted to drink every ounce of him in.

"My knight in shining armour," I murmured.

"Are you tired?" He asked.

I laughed. "No, I don't get to do that anymore, remember?"

"How do you plan to spend all your free time?"

"Doing anything we want," I said happily.

"What about what you want?" he asked, brushing my hair away from my face so that he could look directly into my eyes.

"Oh, I'll do that when you're sleeping!" I mused.

He laughed and wrapped his arms around me, before lifting me to my feet.

"Are we going somewhere?"

"Where do you think?" he joked. "Their thoughts are about to break my brain. You don't hear them?"

"Only you, Hotness," I informed him. "I can only hear you."

"Lucky you," he said.

"I truly am," I agreed. "I really and truly am."

He carried me down the stairs. We both knew he didn't have to, but he did it anyway, because that was what he wanted to do. Personal choices were important.

The gang was all there, and they looked to be in the midst of a celebration.

"Am I interrupting my goodbye party?" I asked.

"No," Barry said. "It's your homecoming party."

"But you couldn't have known I was coming back," I reasoned.

He laughed. They all did.

"Do you think for a second we would have let you implode?" Tally said.

"Well, that was the plan," I reminded her. "Only, I was supposed to explode. I did that pretty well, actually."

"Faith," she said seriously. "You need to get some of that."

Barry was right at home in the kitchen, and he spent the afternoon running Tally out for sneaking treats before dinner was ready. It was an interesting role reversal. Usually, it was her wearing the pants, but the kitchen was his domain.

Declan and Kiley sat in a chair together looking through pictures she had taken with her new camera.

"How many are of the landscape and how many are of you?" I teased her.

"Half and half," she replied cheerfully. "Balance is important!"

I laughed.

"Are you coming to our gig tonight?"

I lifted a brow. "Your gig? Already?"

Kiley beamed. "It's a college town! There are soooooo many bars to play in."

I laughed harder.

I sat down on the floor in front of Derry, leaning back between his knees. He leaned forward and whispered in my ear, "We could sneak upstairs you know. Dinner won't be ready for a little while."

As tempting as it was, I knew that we had all the time in the world, and our time with our friends was precious. I wanted to enjoy all the family moments they could offer me. I wanted to see everyone work together in all the human ways I could no longer be a part of. I didn't feel alone. In fact, I felt more involved with the group than I ever had before. I was part of our family. I didn't doubt my place in it. Just being with them was more than I could have ever dreamed of hoping for. I had everything I wanted.

Derry kissed me on the cheek and reached down to hand me something. It was Grady's stone. I brought it to my lips and kissed it before placing it back in my pocket. I might never figure out how to make it work, but it didn't matter. I would carry him around with me always. Good luck charms might be overrated, but they were worth having faith in when they meant the world to you.

I no longer worried about losing control of my fire. They had been right. The transition balanced things out. It was perfectly content resting inside the hope chest I had built for it. That was why I didn't have to sleep. It did all my sleeping for me, and it only woke it up when I wanted something. I had expected more to change, but really it was just minor things – no sleep, no hunger, and no thirst.

We were as complete as we could ever be, and we had done it all together, from the beginning to the end. No matter how fast I ran, I couldn't outrun the fire within me. I didn't need to, and I certainly didn't want to. It was a part of me and a part of everything I had ever and would ever accomplish.

Before they had dispersed to lead their separate lives they'd always wanted to lead, I gave each pair one of the remaining landing stones so I would always be able to find them. I would use what was left of Flint's gift to make sure that they were always visible to me, no matter where they winded up.

My parents didn't need a stone. I had every intention of keeping them close by my side. We had a lifetime of memories to make up for, and I didn't plan on wasting a moment of it away from them.

As for Derry and I, the fuel gauge never emptied. Like the Amazon Coterie had made a significant dietary choice, we had figured out a way to do the same. We found perfect synergy in each other, giving and taking, pushing and pulling, and augmenting our energy between us. We would go on and on, as long as we had each other.