~~~A Memory~~~

"Ruined!" Allison had screeched. "Why can't you just be normal? Act like a HUMAN, for once in your life!" she had bellowed. Once again, her hand had hit the side of my face, making it worse. The fire had burned within me, and I had known no way of putting out the flame.

"Mom, please!"I had begged. "I'll stop. I...I promise I will. I can figure this out. Just please...please, Mom. Give me another chance. I'll be good! I can."

"No." Her fingers had left my cheek, and she had started to run them through her blonde hair. "Reyna, I cannot handle this anymore. Honey, you need to leave. And do it soon."

"But Mom! I'm only thirteen. I can't do anything on my own. Please, just..." Then I remember the rage. I remember how that anger just exploded within me. And so did the fire in my palms. I had spoken then, one simple word, and my mother had gone whiter than a piece of paper. "No."

"Wha-What?" She no longer seemed angry. The only feeling I could read on her face was terror…and lots of it. My own mother was scared of me, but for some reason, this hadn't clicked in my head. I was just angry.

"I said, 'No.'" I had practically snarled the words. Then, I grabbed Allison's wrists, and the fire flew. From my palms, the white-hot power shot, burning every inch of her they touched. Instead of feeling guilty and using my water to put it out, I had not felt that way. Instead, as she had cried out in pain, fear, and surprise, I had grown angrier, and things had gotten out of hand.

The next thing I remember was waking up to a fire-fighter dragging me from the ashes of my home. It was a miracle, they had said, that I was still able to breathe through all the smoke, and a miracle, also, that there hadn't been one single burn on my body. A miracle, they had claimed, that I was even alive. But I was alive, and more so than ever. And that was no miracle…it was a nightmare, a disaster waiting to happen.

~~~The Present~~~

"Happy birthday to me," I mumble to my reflection in the mirror, giving myself an evil grin as I fix my hair. "Sweet sixteenth."

"Talking to yourself again?" teases Aaron, standing up. His tall, thin form looks so out of place next to my short, muscular one. But when he leans down to kiss the top of my head, I have to admit that I honestly don't care.

"Who else is there to talk to? Talking to myself is the only way I can get an intelligent conversation around here," I laugh, wrapping my arms around him. Just his presence erases that lingering pain of the memory, and his smell washes away the anger at my mother. That's good. Feeling any emotion is bad because it makes me lose my small amount of self-control. Aaron doesn't know what I am, what I can do, and I don't want him finding out by getting hurt. I like him, which means he isn't safe. I need to find someone that can help me.

I realize Aaron must've asked me something, because he's watching me, expectant and confused. "Reyna?" he asks, confirming my thoughts. "I said, 'Would you like to go out and eat?'"

"No!" I say, too quickly. At Aaron's quizzical look, I add, "Sorry, I just...I'm really not hungry. That's all." In reality, I don't want to have to relive old birthdays in my head. I don't need more to worry about.

"All right, honey. We can stay home." He kisses my head again, breathing into my feathery hair. "Mmmm," he whispers, taking in my scent. "You always smell so good, so natural. I love that about you."

"Is that what you love?" I grin, but I'm only half-joking. I'm a complicated person, Aaron realizes that, he just doesn't know to what extent. My earthy smell is part of my...'power,' and if that's what he loves...does he even love the real me?

As usual, Aaron knows just what to say. "What I love," he says, "is you, and your little quirks. I love the way you never let a candle burn. The way you hide your emotions just makes me laugh. But I've always wondered why you do that. It's hard, being with you, but I love a good challenge. And you most certainly are just that. You're a beautifully good challenge, my Reyna. Love you."

"That's what I love about you. Honesty," I say quietly, burying my face in his shirt.

"Happy Birthday, Rey," he whispers back, hugging me to him. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't let go. Aaron is my rock, and I'll stand by him as long as he will let me. I only hope he does let me. Life would be impossible without him there.