Chapter 5.
Word count: 450 

Phaedos stood at the top of the mountain, the wind whipping at his clothes and tossing his messy brown hair all around his face, his arms crossed as he stared down at the carnage below.  

Tobias had set fire to the woods, and not a small fire, either.

The grin that spread across his lips was dark, bordering on nasty.  He breathed in the smoke greedily, swallowing down each lungful as if it were his last meal.  He could practically taste the fire on the wind.  The smoke billowed up from the tops of the trees, clouding the air with it's plumage.

He could almost see a mushroom cloud, the thin layer of old memories temporarily distoring the reality.  He shook them off.

He sighed, happy with the events of the day for the most part.  Sure, the students had managed to put out the fire.  But that hardly mattered in the grand scheme of things.

Tobias didn't know how to bring the fire back to him, and that was a blessing beyond words for Phaedos.  In most cases it came naturally; instinctual, entirely unteachable but usually one of the first things a student learned.

There was a chance he never would, and the prospect of such wonderful luck left Phaedos feeling light and joyful.

He lingered a moment longer before making the trip back down to camp.  It wouldn't do well for others to wonder where he was, or what he was up to.

He didn't have to fake the smiles he gave the other members of the camp as he made his way through the center to his quarters.  For once, they were just people.  Distant bodies that meant nothing to him, and had no power over his mood.

He pushed open his bedroom door and was surprised, though he should have guessed, to find Tobias sitting in the swivel chair in front of his desk.  Phaedos pushed a smile onto his lips and said, "Oh, hello, Tobias."

"Phaedos, finally!  I've been waiting for you for hours," Tobias spat, all energy and anxiety.  The spark of it filled the air between them.  "I can't believe what happened."

Phaedos' hand reached across the distance to rest on Tobias' shoulder, and he sighed, as if the news upset him as much as it upset Tobias.  "Listen, Tobias, it's okay.  Everyone makes mistakes," he said, giving the boy's shoulder a squeeze.  "In fact, you probably did the forest some good."  He gave Tobias another empty smile, careful to be sure his eyes shielded the hollowness of his gesture.  "Fire can refresh an ecosystem, don't forget.  Sometimes the only way for things to start fresh is to be burned to the ground."

The End

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