Burning Out

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: Don't own these characters. To get used to the overall weirdness that is the way I write Pyro you could try reading 'Extinguished' before reading this one. R/R of course.

They're watching me again. I can hear their voices through the Plexiglas and concrete. They love to gawk and stare. My life, my pain, is now their entertainment. I hope I give them all a good show.

"Shouldn't someone do something about him?" New fish, innocent and pure. Sheila has pretty blue eyes too. I see them when I watch her pass, see the pity and sympathy in them. So blue, so much like hers. So much like the love I have lost forever.

"Just leave him alone. He won't hurt you unless you give him a reason to. It's the doctor's orders, not mine." Cynic, old one. I hate her the most because I know that if I continue living I will become just like her and lose all my faith and hope. I've bloody lost it already though. I lost it when I lost her.

"But all that fire? Isn't that dangerous?" I managed to find a lighter in this place. Last time the janitor will ever smoke on the job that's fer sure. The fire's the only comfort I have now and it's not much. I lost them both. I lost my passion when I lost Her and I lost my love when I lost Wanda.

"Not to him and he won't hurt you with it unless you provoke him. All he does all day with the fire is doodle, make shapes in the air and stuff." Well, somebody's horribly inconsiderate. Show some bloody respect for the bereaved, huh?

"What kind of shapes?"

"Some woman, some girl. I think it's the girl he lost. I never ask. C'mon, we got rounds to make." Good, let them leave. Let them shirk away from me in fear. What the hell would they know anyways? The fire around me grows angry. I keep it down. There is an unspoken agreement between me and the administrator of this asylum. If I'm good then I keep the fire. Like I said, the fire's little comfort but it's all I have now.

'You have me, John.' No. I don't want to hear that voice. It haunts me in my dreams, Her voice. Since I discovered my powers, She has been in my head, torturing me with empty promises and false affection. I am, or was, literally in love with Fire and She won't let me forget it for an instant.

"Leave," I order Her, "I didn't need you then and I sure as hell don't bloody want you now."

'When was that, John?' She asks, 'When you were with her? She took you away from me, John. Maybe it's for the better that she's gone now.'

"Shut up," I tell her, "You never liked her. You were jealous of her, jealous of the fact that I could love an actual person instead of a fantasy."

'Fair enough,' She replies, 'But where are you now, John? You're alone just like you were when I first came to you. Face it, John, I'm all you need.' I know it's not true. I used to think She was all I needed to feel complete. Now I am seeing clearly. I was blind before, blinded by faulty thought processes and hallucinatory delusions. Then I met Wanda and it all snapped into focus. Finally there was someone who loved me, someone who wasn't just in my head. I couldn't have imagined anyone more beautiful either. My scarlet angel. I couldn't write a love story half as good as the one I had with her. But unlike all those romance novels, there wasn't a happy ending for this one.

'Does it hurt to remember those days at the hospital?' She taunts me. She knows full well that without Her I am now nothing. She won't let me forget that fact or that when I started loving Wanda I banished Her from my tortured mind.

"What do you bloody think?" I snarl. Memories I'd rather consider as nightmares than realities return now. Seeing her lying in that hospital bed. Do you know what it's like? Do you know what it's like to watch someone you love so much lay there and wither away while you're completely helpless to stop it? It is agony in its purest form. It is a constant reminder of how completely powerless you really are. I remember the endless days I watched the Legacy Virus ravage her beautiful form. I remember both of us feigning hope that somehow everything would be okay again. I remember all the unanswered prayers I uttered to a God I only half believe in. It should've been me instead. I would've gladly given up this life if it meant that she no longer had to suffer. Most of all, I remember the night she left me alone forever. I remember the sad little smile she gave me as I gently kissed her forehead. I was going to leave for the day but she knew she was the one who was really leaving. I remember her telling me how much she loved me and then as she closed her cerulean eyes I watched her leave me. I haven't felt any happiness since then. I probably never will again.

'So quickly you forget,' She chides, 'I've been trying to remind you of how much we meant to each other. I've been here all along watching you suffer and still you won't let me comfort you. Do I even get an apology for you throwing me away?'

"Go to hell," I tell Her, "You never loved me. Wanda was the only one who loved me."

'You say that like you really mean it,' She replies, 'but how pure were your feelings? Admit it, John. All those nights she was lying next to you in bed you were dreaming of me.'

"Liar," I spit, "That a bloody lie and you know it!" I don't know how things got this way. I never asked for them to be like this. I want to leave this world so far behind. I want to go where my Wanda is. There's nothing left for me here, nothing but pain and heartache.

'Then leave,' She dares me, 'See if I give a merry damn.'

"You won't," I tell Her, "You never cared about me. There's a catch though, luv. I can tell you're scared that maybe I will leave you. You need me. You could've killed me a long time ago but you never burned me once. I'm the one in charge here, not you."

'Bet that makes you feel proud,' She snorts, 'Well go on then. If you're the master of your own destiny then prove it. You wanna see your precious little witch again, right? Go ahead and do it. You wanna leave this world to be with her then quit whining and do it.' It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. How many people really contemplate their own deaths? How many people cry out to the heavens and beg God to take them away from this life? Probably a lot but very few have the guts to take matters into their own hands. Do I have such fortitude?

'You know you would do anything for her,' She tells me. It's true. I would've done anything for Wanda Maximoff. I did everything to make her happy. I tried to protect her from all the pain but in the end I couldn't save her. What does a knight do when his armor's not so shiny anymore? What does an angel do when he's fallen into the darkness?

'End it,' She prods me. It seems only right. There is no light at the end of the tunnel anymore, no silver lining in the fog of blackness that has enshrouded my life.

"Can you help me do it?" I ask Her. I'm too scared to do it alone. I hate being alone. It's a fear that has haunted me all my life. My fear is what led to Her creation. Most kids have imaginary friends and no one thinks anything of it because they grow out of it eventually. I still have that friend only She's not really a friend. She's more of a curse but sometimes a curse can be your salvation.

'Let me hold you,' She whispers. I feel the flames crawl across my body. No one will care if I leave. It'll just be better in the long run. The administration won't have to honor this bargain with me that lets Her haunt me. The innocent, young nurse won't have to ask bloody stupid questions about me anymore. The old, cynical one won't have to look at me and remember that painful time in her own life when she felt this way. Most of all, I will be rid of this curse and I will be with my Scarlet forever. Yes, this is for the better.

'I love you,' She tells me, 'I've always loved you.'

"Then let me go," I tell Her. I feel it all around me, all over my body. She has never burned me, never hurt me even though I left Her for someone else and will now do so again forever. But now, I need Her to hurt me. I need Her to consume me just like I knew She always wanted to. I've been fighting against that all my life, fighting to keep the void from swallowing me. This time I want it to so I can see what's on the other side. I feel the flames begin the work of slowly killing me. Despite what should be excruciating pain all I feel is numbness.

"I'm sorry, luv," I tell Her. I'm sorry for so many things. I'm sorry for hurting Her by loving Wanda, sorry for hurting Wanda by letting her see me this way, sorry for everything. It's all going to work out though. I smile as I watch the fire and blackness cloud my vision. Even in the heart of an inferno, all I can feel is the cold numbness of loss and death.