"What do you want?" Ash leaned against a wall, too weak to support her own weight. Blaze looked at her with something akin to concern in his eyes.
"Come on, I'll take you to food."
Ash fell into step behind Blaze as he led the way to the kitchens. He motioned for Ash to sit down. She did and Blaze walked around the giant kitchen, getting food for Ash. After awhile, he set down a tray of steak, fish, bread, and fruit. Ash looked at the food suspiciously. Blaze laughed.
"I assure you, the food is good, it's not poisoned, if that's what you think. Go on, eat."
Ash slowly reached for a piece of bread. She took one bite and then wolfed the food down.
"When was the last time you ate, Ash?"
Ash shrugged. "The morning I went to the specialist. I haven't eaten since then."
"You haven't eaten anything for two days. You spent the first day unconconcious in that first room. Then you spent a few hours in the other room. And the rest of the time you spent with Will."
Ash nodded as she finished another piece of fish. Blaze continued to stare at Ash. She slowly looked up and self-conciously wiped her mouth on the sleeve of her leather jacket.
Blaze leaned forwards. "Isn't it fascinating?"
"Isn't what fascinating?" Ash gulped down a bottle of water.
"Your blood. How did those elements get there? Why are they there? How are you able to produce fire from your blood? Why doesn't it burn you? Fascinating…simply fascinating."
"So I'm like a science project. To help you figure out all this?"
Blaze shook his head. "Of course not! You're here so we can find the problem and fix it. That's why you're here."
Ash raised one eyebrow and leaned back, not feeling the need to stuff her face anymore. "If I'm here to be helped, then why am I being starved and abused?"
Blaze looked away and cleared his throat. Ash stood up and pushed the chair away from the table.
"Fine. Lie to me. But just know that I will find a way to stop this." Ash flung a fire ball at the remaining food and walked away.
Ash slammed the door shut behind her and stormed down the hallway. She gritted her teeth and worked to control the fire inside. Ash reached another huge door, heavy padlock on the handle. Ash indulged the fire and shot the padlock off. She pushed open the door with her shoulder as it lazily slid open. Ash was in a room with a pool. Unable to control her anger any longer, Ash threw a red fireball into the pool.
"Hey! Watch where you throw those!" Will's voice appeared from the pool. Startled, Ash looked around and finally realized where she was.
"I'm sorry, Will! Are you okay?"
"Oh I'm fine, but the pool isn't. It's half empty."
Ash stepped closer to the edge and looked over. Will was right, the pool was half empty.
"Sorry, Will." Ash sat down on the edge of the pool as Will half walked, half swam to her.
"So does the human flame-thrower like to swim?"
"Not unless I have no choice."
Will pushed off the wall farther into the waist-deep water.
"Come on, Ash. Get in!"
"No, I'm not getting wet!"
Will looked at Ash as a mischevious glint came into his eyes. Water shot from Will's hand, soaking Ash. She stood up, wet leather squeaking. Will started laughing. Will was thrown back. When his eyes focused again, he was laying on his back in the bone dry pool. Ash was doubled over, laughing. She looked at him and started laughing even harder. Ash gracefully leapt off the side and into the pool.
"I'm in the pool now. Happy?" Ash smiled as she walked closer, one hand on her hip.
"That is not funny!" Will winced as Ash helped him up. On his knees, Will pulled Ash down. They fell back and she landed on him as they both started laughing. After the laughing passed, they both sat up. Will's face faded out as coughs racked Ash's body. She fell forwards, red-black blood dripping out of her mouth.
When Ash woke up, she was lying on a blue silk bed.
"Morning, sunshine." Will walked across the room and sat in a dark wood chair. Ash stretched and noticed her leather jacket drying on another chair, along with all her other leather and metal, leaving Ash wearing a crimson red tank top and black skinny jeans.
"How long was I out?"
"Not long, about three hours. It's only five in the morning." Will's eyes didn't leave Ash's face. Ash nodded as she swung the silk blankets back.
"So what's this room?"
"This room would be my personal quarters." Will smiled. Ash stood up and reached for her boots.
"I don't have a room yet."
"Well come on! We'll find you one." Will grabbed Ash's jacket and the rest of her things as she pulled her boots on. Will handed Ash her jacket as they walked out the door.
The lighting was very poor the farther they got from Will's room. After awhile, the blue walls gave way to black, making the hall seem even darker. Ash ran into a wall. Will laughed and grabbed her hand.
"I'll lead you so you won't run into anything else."
"Or is this just an excuse to hold my hand?"
"Whatever helps you get to sleep at night." Will intertwined his fingers with hers. Ash smiled, glad the dim lighting hid her face. Will gagged. Ash laughed.
"This is the fire wing. It smells like smoke. Doesn't it bother you?"
Ash inhaled. "Nope. It smells good to me."
Will muttered something under his breath about a bad sense of smell. Ash smiled. Will stopped in front of a solid looking wooden door with wrought iron enforcing the heavy wood. Will let go of Ash's hand and reached up on the top of the door. He turned to Ash and held out a dark iron key. Will handed it to Ash and stepped back.
Ash found the lock and turned the heavy key in it. The lock clicked and Will turned the handle and pushed the door open. The room had dark red walls, black silk and lace curtains, and a large bed with red silk sheets and a black feather comforter. Ash turned her head and looked at the walls. A mirror with an iron flame-shaped frame. Ash stopped and looked at her reflection. Her black and charcoal curls were amazingly staying in place. Her eyes were mostly charcoal, but a ring of sunset orange-gold had formed around her pupil. Will appeared behind her.
"So what do you think of your new room?"
"I love it." Ash turned towards Will. "So what do you usually do during the day?"
Will grinned. "Well, when they're not treating me like a science project, I usually play pranks on the workers."
"What kind of pranks?"
Will smiled. "I can show you better than I can tell you."
"What are you doing?"
Will laughed. "Calm down, Ash. And be quiet. We don't need to get caught." Will smiled as Ash swallowed her retort and continued to keep the little ball of fire burning above her hand. Will kept shooting small orbs of water at it. The room began to fill with steam. The door opened and a small blonde woman walked in. Ash's concentration slipped the same time Will shot water at the fire and the room exploded with steam. Ash felt Will grab her hand and they were running out of the room. When they were far enough so they wouldn't get caught, they laughed so hard they fell to their knees. Ash finally caught her breath and looked up at the door next the her.
"Where does this door go to?"
"The break room. Why?"
Ash grinned. "I have an idea." She scrambled to her feet and quietly opened the door. Will followed. Ash looked up at the ceiling light and grabbed a chair. When she stood on the chair, Ash reached up and tried to unscrew the glass covering. It was stuck.
"Will, can you get this?"
"Sure." Will stood on the chair and unscrewed the glass covering. Ash turned out the lights and put a small fire ball in te covering. She turned to Will.
"Can you put some water in here?" Starting to understand her idea, Will added a small orb of water. He quickly replaced the light. Small wisps of steam floated from the light. Ash and Will snuck back out of the break room and hid behind another door just as the blonde woman walked in. She grabbed some paper towels and tried to dry off from Will and Ash's earlier prank. She fumbled in the dark for the light switch. When she flipped it on, the glass covering exploded as white hot glass, water, and small bits of fire rained down from the ceiling. The woman screamed. Ash and Will watched for a second as the woman threw open the break room door and furiously walked back down the hallway. Ash grabbed Will's hand as they fought to run through their laughter.
When they finally stopped laughing, they were back at Will's room. Ash leaned against the wall. Will stood just a couple inches in front of her.
"So how did you like that?"
Ash smiled. "It was fun. It sure beat being strapped to a table."
Will nodded in agreement. "Well, food should be getting to our rooms soon. It usually comes around this time."
"And what time would that be?"
Will smiled. "Noon. We spent seven hours finding your room and messing with the workers."
Ash nodded. "So now what?"
Will held out his hand. "Now I walk you back to your room."
Ash smiled and intwertwined her fingers with his as they walked together to her room.
The lighting on the way to Ash's room was better the second time, as if someone had remembered that people lived on this hall. But in the brighter light, the fading paint was showing more clearly. In some spots the walls had faded all the way to an ashy grey-white. Will and Ash stopped in front of her door. Will grabbed the key from the top of the door again and wordlessly handed it to Ash. When she unlocked the door and pushed it open, Will dropped her hand like it was a venomous snake. Confused, Ash turned and looked at him. Will's face was an unreadable mask.
"Bye, Will. Thanks for everything."
Will nodded. "Bye. You're welcome." His voice was emotionless, flat. Will turned and walked back to his room. Confused and slightly hurt, Ash stepped back into her room and closed the door. Will had been right, there was food already laid out for her. A gleaming iron tray was piled high with different meats, breads, cheeses, and fruits. A large pitcher stood next to the tray, guarding the food. Ash picked up the pitcher and smelled it. It smelled like water with something else mixed in. Ash looked in the pitcher and saw the water had a faint white tint to it. Slightly digusted, she turned to the food. The food smelled normal and there was nothing visibly wrong with it. Hunger winning over caution, Ash pulled out the black wooden chair and grabbed a large loaf of bread. She broke it open and warm steam wafted out. Ash loaded the bread with meat and cheese and ate. After she finished the loaf, there was a knock at her door. Ash stood up as Gustav walked in. Blaze walked in behing Gustav.
"Ash, we're here to take you to another testing room. So follow us."
Ash looked at Blaze. "And if I don't?"
Gustav grinned. "Den I vill deal wif jou." With a shudder, Ash reluctantly followed the two scientists.