Disclaimer: Sky High doesn't belong to me, which I regret in the matter of a certain pyrokinetic. The song lyrics here are from "Fire" by U2. I don't own them.

This was written in response to my first reviewer's comments. Matchbox Dragon said "if I was Cassie, I would have gone for something a little more fireproof than a polar bear, maybe some sort of armour-plated reptile?" Well, she didn't have any say in the matter… and this piece explains why.

"Burn her, then break her."

I swallow, steeling myself for the pain I know will come soon. Warren's hand gripping my wrists is a lifeline to sanity as I beat back impending nausea. His dark eyes are burning with anguish.

Falling, falling

The sun is burning black

Keeping my head high, I wrench away from Warren and move so the wet bricks of the other wall are pressing against my spine, digging into my back. "Do what you want to me. I won't fight."

Falling, falling

It's beating on my back

With the fire

Please, Warren. Do it. You won't hurt me. Even as I plead silently, I know what his answer will be. The feeble streetlights pick out his red streaks, painting them like bloody marks in the dark of his hair. As I gaze at him, the inner whiteness of his aura—it roils with black and red on the outside, but stays a creamy white at the core—begins to bleed with pulses of tormented red.

I want to go to him and hold him like a child, to comfort him—but I cannot. It would cost both our lives. His dark-eyed gaze is hypnotic, almost compelling.

Falling, falling

And the moon is running red

It's pulling me instead, with the fire

He shakes his head imperceptibly. I can feel his pain, but if he doesn't comply, both of us will die. If my plan goes as I hope it will, at least he will survive.

Damn you, Warren! DO IT! I shriek, close to panic. Attack me!

There is heartfelt agony in his gaze. It is a muted plea, but I nod firmly, slightly at him

As he ignites his hands, I reach for the form, keeping a firm grip on the dragon's mind. It fights me—this is a dominant mind, it wants complete control, it wants to reveal itself fully—but I seize the traits I want and push the rest down as my body shifts. Just as I finish, the first fireball strikes me. My body absorbs the flames without any harm.

Fire

The internal heat generated by my partial shift is making the rain steam off my bare skin.

But there's a fire inside

I stagger as another fireball hits me—it doesn't hurt, but I bite my lip to keep back a surprised yelp.

I'm falling over

There's a fire in me.

Suddenly, another two blasts come out of nowhere and hit me just as Warren's fireball strikes home. Without looking, I know the enemy pyrokinetics have joined the fight—

—but I've got bigger problems on my hands. The dragon mind is already irritable, chafing at not being allowed to manifest fully—and with the shock of the three blasts of flame, I lose my grip on it and the dragon mind slides away from me sullenly.

The fire within my body dies instantly, but is replaced by the searing heat from the blasts of flame.

I do the only thing I can and scream in pain.

And I call out

I see the twins' faces twist with cruel smirks—then they hurl more fire. I shield my face with my arms, trying not to cry out, but the agony rips another scream from my throat.

And I feel some fire.

I'm calling out

Over my own pained cry and the crackle of the flames, I hear Warren's anguished shout. I want to reassure him, I want to tell him to flee and leave me behind—but the pain overwhelms me and I can do nothing but scream.

As the terrible pain racks my body, I am engaged in an increasingly difficult mental struggle. All the animal minds within me—lion, horse, dolphin, hawk, dragon, wolf, seal, and all the rest—are screaming in terror, fighting my mental grasp frantically. They are all keyed to be afraid of fire—they were already frightened when I was standing in the middle of Warren's inferno, but the pain is sending them into paroxysms of panic now.

None of my friends know what I mean when I talk about "holding" the animal minds. Right now, it's like wrestling with a bucket of eels—a greased bucket of eels, at that. They're writhing and struggling against me—I grab the lion mind, but the hawk mind tries to flutter free—I shove it down but have to seize the crazed ice-dragon mind before it comes to the surface—the wolf mind makes a break for it—then the tigeress—oh god I can't hold them

One slips past my grip, knocking me free. I am floating in the sea of minds, soothing and reassuring my other shapes. Hush now, it's all right… everything will be fine…

The stars are falling down.

They knock me to the ground.

Instinctively, I know which mind has broken free. It's one of the more dominating minds—the polar bear. Now, an enraged, terrified bear. Dangerous usually—but even more so now.

With the fire, fire

And there's a fire inside.

Safe behind the bear mind, but unable to do a thing, I watch as the bear roars in pain as the fire burns it, then drops to all fours and charges the twins.

I can smell Warren behind me. His scent reads fear, confusion, and an iron-tang of anguish underneath it. Somehow, I know he is standing there, big hands slack at his side, worried for my sake, but scared of my power.

This isn't me, I want to tell him. It's the bear. I would never hurt you.

When I'm falling over,

There's a fire in me.

The bear gets rid of the two enemies easily, but it is gravely wounded. Even in that state, it knows Warren's scent, and knows this human is a friend, not to be attacked. I breathe a sigh of relief at that.

Its paws—my limbs—are weak. Both the bear and I have taken massive amounts of damage, and the agony is threatening to overwhelm me at any moment.

When I'm falling over

I see the guttering fires—residue of the earlier fight—in the corners of my rapidly darkening vision. The heat is gentle on my scorched fur and skin. Warren's eyes are concerned, but he doesn't move—paralyzed by fear? Is he afraid of me now?

I feel the fire

Warren swallows, but he takes a tiny step forward, moving in my direction. I try to make some sort of noise—but my tongue no longer works, the bear's vocal cords are suddenly paralyzed—

I'm burning fire—

Suddenly, I can no longer see as my body finally gives in. The blackness is a relief from the burning pain that seems to be searing through my skin and bones. My last sight is Warren's worried dark eyes, reflecting the moon overhead.

falling

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