"What's your name, kid?"
"Theddy, Theddy Glormer."
"Uh-huh. How long were you at the Institute, Theddy?"
"Three weeks? A month? I don't know."
"And this skill of yours," Theddy noticed the man did not say "Gift."
"Did you have it before the Institute, or did you learn it there?"
"There. And do you know something? I don't remember ever seeing you anywhere on campus, not once misterrrrrrrrrrrr..."
"'Campus,'" the man grinned, "I wouldn't exactly call an old abandoned hardware store a campus."
Theddy's nerves jangled and his skin crawled; something about this man seemed disingenuous as hell, and Theddy's body definitely wanted to put some distance between them,
"Just tell me your name, mister."
"Look it, I can help you but you've got to listen to me."
"Why? I'll tell you why, smartass. You can't just go around setting everything aflame on a whim. There are those that will stop you. In fact, I'd be pretty safe in saying the Government is already hunting you."
Theddy snickered derisively, "There is no government, pal."
The man smacked Theddy in the head, "Don't be daft! Of course the government still exists. Not as powerful as it once was, a lot of those old politicians have buried themselves underground, but there are still people who can manage the day-to-day operations of this country."
Theddy folded his arms over his chest and grunted an "Uh-huh."
The man continued, "So you want to take on the Establishment? Fight the Man? Fine. Just don't be stupid about it. You start burning entire states and the Man will beat your ass in a face-to-face scrap. What you gotta do is fight guerilla style: stick and move,
stick and move. Never give him the chance to stomp you in the face."
Theddy wrinkled his nose, he thought he was doing just fine the way he was going, thank you very much. Who was this prick to tell him how to carry out his personal business?
"Yeah well, thanks for the advice but I think it's time I head for the hills."
"Theddy!" the man grabbed his sleeve, "don't go."
At this point Theddy damn near lost it, but he clenched on to the last refuges of restraint while visions of engulfing fire danced behind his eyes. His voice took an icy tone as he warned, "Get your hand off me."
"Theddy, I can be your mentor. I can show you how to control your powers."
This time when Theddy spoke all civility was lost. He bared his teeth and shouted, "Get your hand off me or I swear to god you will have just a melted stump to remove!"
A fair enough warning in Theddy's estimation, but instead of backtracking the man pulled himself closer, nearly hugging Theddy. He leaned in and whispered, "You've gotta know who to trust, kid."
Theddy was feeling trapped; the man had him in a veritable straight-jacket hold and desperation fed Theddy's rising panic levels. The acidic tang of fear set off a wild chain of physiological events within Theddy's body that quickly escalated beyond his control.
For the first time, signs of fear flashed in the man's eyes. He gave Theddy one final terrified stare before his entire body burst into a gigantic fireball.