ices prodigy

you are far brighter than the sun;

Yuri is fourteen and out on the ice he is a prodigy, a rising star. He skates and he knows: there is no one here now who comes close, who can touch him. And he wants more, he wants better but the people around him laugh and pat his head and say, not now, little boy. They tell him he can’t do these things yet; he’s too young; he’s not yet enough. The spotlights flash off the ice. The person Yuri wants to be (and to beat) says: all right, I’ll give you more, I’ll make you better.

Yuri is fifteen and his senior debut hurtles at him like a freight train. There is no time to wait, to train and be more and be better, it has to be now. (He thinks of his grandfather, ageing and ailing; he thinks of a mother who is always never there; he thinks of what little he can give as he is and he thinks, it has to be now.) He returns to a city that is not home and he looks for silver hair, for a promise. But it’s not there, it’s left him alone and desperate; he’s been left behind again.

Yuri is fifteen and flying across continents by himself, chasing after a hope and a promise. He does the only things he knows how to do, he shouts and he begs with his anger to let it be him, he needs this, he needs this. He tries and he’s not enough. He leaves before anyone else tells him that. He leaves and he returns to the city that is not home and he thinks, I will make myself enough. Somehow, he will.

Yuri is fifteen and all people tell him is they need him not to be him. They need him to be all other things: their prima ballerina, their next protégé, their angel. Yuri looks at his skating and wonders where he is in all this, where he will be allowed to be. He looks at his skating and feels the shadow that drowns it, a legacy that traps him in a box, whispers in the kiss of his skates on the ice. He looks at his skating and he thinks, it has to be more, it has to be better.

When will he ever be enough?

And Yuri is fifteen and he loses; he skates personal bests, bleeds desperation on ice, and he still loses, once and again. He pushes himself to his edges and it is not enough, it isn’t, why isn’t it? He needs to win, he has to win, why can’t he win? He stands at the rink’s edge and looks for his grandfather and waits, waits like he’s looked for and waited for people his whole life, why is he always the one left waiting? He’s already given everything he can.

What more does he have to do?

And then, in a back alley: quiet words and sincerity. Someone looks at him and sees him, sees everything that he is, this insecure, desperate, determined boy with eyes like the shallow ocean (like a soldier). Someone has also been looking, been waiting; someone echoes the pain of wondering if he will be enough.

After everything, when Otabek says: that’s the Yuri Plisetsky I want to see, and Yuri feels the breath stutter in his lungs because no one has ever acknowledged him like this–

(when will you be enough? what more do you have to do?)

In Otabek’s eyes Yuri has always been more than enough, and Yuri knows that all he has to do is be himself.

———-

[on twitter] // @otayuriwriterscollective

6

Chapter 3/12 - EXO Planet Recruits A/U: Ice Boy (Kim Minseok) (Ice Manipulation)
“They call him Ice Boy. A prodigy hacker. Helped the military infiltrate systems when he was fifteen. He knows all kinds of dirty secrets, and he knows those with power are waiting for an opportunity to kill him and clean up. But this kid is smart. He hid his strongest asset. The enemy have convinced the military that mutants are a threat and a battlefield against our favour is unfolding. We have no choice but fight, and I want him on our side.”

missteagodess  asked:

OC Sunday XD My OC is from the Haikyuu!! Universe, and her name is Yume Kageyama, and she's the twin sister of Tobio Kageyama. She's a prodigy at ice skating, but I haven't thought up so much about her, maybe you have some advice? XD <3

*sniff sniff* Smells like a Haikyuu/Yuri on ice crossover! hmmmm

Nyerus’ Victuuri Fic Rec List

These are in no particular order, really, just a list of my fave Victuuri fics—some of which I think a little less well known (but idk). I’ve been sitting on this for SO LONG that some of the “lesser known” ones are huge now hahaha! I’ll probably make a page for this or something later.

I pulled the “genres” mostly from the tags, but basically winged it based on what felt right. Most fics rated as “Explicit” in this list have smut in them so keep that in mind, but I’ve made special annotations as need be. I’ve also mentioned if there are any significant side pairings.

I’ve added mini-reviews (kinda) as well, which are just my personal thoughts on a fic without getting too spoilery, but you can feel free to skip them.

Current count:

Canon:7

AU: 21

(Quite long, so under a cut).

Keep reading

Sunset Frost

Characters: Ice Skater Jimin/Reporter Reader

Length: 8985 words

Genre: Fluff

Author: Faryn

Summary: He was a sports star who skated in fame and you were an unknown reporter with not much taste for champions.


The sharp sound of skates cutting across the ice filled your ears for the 100th time since you entered the busy indoor ice rink. You were currently sitting on a set of frozen bleachers with possibly the absolute worst view of the professional ice arena. Reporters, sports columnists and fans were all milling about in front of you, blocking your disinterested view, and filling the echo of the hall with a loud buzzing of excitement.

The tournament favorite was supposed to be here soon, to enter and perform in a flourish and yet again wow the judges and shatter records and win first place and earn a standing applause. You glanced down at the slightly crumpled paper assigned to you from your employer at a small sports journalism company. This was one for your very first jobs and your excitement had initially overwhelmed you until your eyes had laid upon the name that seemed to scream back at you from every corner of the sports world.

Park Jimin.

You heard that he was a skating legend, that he would move with such eloquence and beauty that he might as well be water. You heard that he had already won hundreds of glinting trophies that he used for his doorstep sometimes. You heard that he was an ice skating prodigy since he could walk and that he could get anyone to fall in love with him with only a flash of his smile.

Keep reading

itsgonnabeacoldwinter-soldier  asked:

Coldwave 33? Maybe? Please and thank you!

Lenny Snart’s been doing press conferences since he first stepped on the ice – it’s the great burden of being an ice hockey prodigy. That should mean that he’s not fazed by them now, so many infinite years later, but here he is, standing just outside the view of the cameras, trying very hard not to panic. 

“Relax, Cap –“

“We’ve got you.”

The Mardon brothers, superstar defensemen, have come up to flank him, Mark on his left and Clyde on his right. The last member of their little trio, the perpetually underestimated goalie Hartley Rathaway, is conspicuously absent – only because he’s already on stage. This is Hart’s press conference after all, and Len’s only going up to say a few words about the team’s reception of Hart’s announcement.

Hart’s engagement announcement. To Cisco, one of the trainers. Which is also Hart’s coming out.

It’s this fact that is causing Len’s anxiety. Don’t get him wrong, its not that he hates the idea of Hartley being queer. He’s afraid for Hartley, scared of the negative response. He’s afraid for their team, who will be subjected to slurs and vitriol for the rest of the season. He’s scared for Cisco, who’s a good man and doesn’t deserve the shitstorm coming his way, for daring to exist, to be gay and to be brown at the same time. He’s afraid of the ghost of his father, who’d kept Len in the closet for so long. And, perhaps most importantly, he’s scared of what’s going to come out of his mouth when the press asks him what his personal opinion of Hart and Cisco’s relationship is.

Len’s afraid of his own traitor mouth, which might answer that question in a way that condemns Len’s on-ice family to twice the pain.

See, here’s the thing. He hasn’t told anyone on the team the details of the relationship that’s making him grin every time he looks at his phone, but if he’s being perfectly honest – The guy’s name is Mick. He owns a bakery. It’s a pie store, if you’re being pedantic. He’s got broad shoulders and a Kiwi accent and he complains about slang for fries and regional idioms and shitty American politics and shitty Kiwi politics in the same breath and he can carry two thirty pound bags of flour like it’s absolutely nothing, and he knew exactly who Len was from the minute Len walked in, and he treated him no different, beyond a question or two about the season and a question about marks in communal showers or locker rooms the first time he’d picked Len up and slammed him against a wall before attempting to check Len’s tonsil health with his tongue. And if someone asks Len what he thinks about Hartley and Cisco, or what he thinks about queer hockey players, it’s all going to come tumbling out in one long mess of lovestruck babble because its been six months now and Len is so very sure Mick is everything he’s ever needed. 

Hartley chooses this moment to give him a way out, by throwing his mike at the head of a reporter who addressed him with a slur. Len spins on his heel, shoves past the Mardons, and walk-runs to the Head Coach’s office. Joe glances up when Len bursts in, interrupting Harry Wells’ latest rant.

“Len?”

“I can’t answer press questions about Hart and Cisco. We need to field them to the Mardons.”

Joe’s eyes widen, both in response to the opening salvo, and to the fact that Len is staring intently at his phone, which chooses that moment to buzz.

“People are going to talk if the captain doesn’t say anything, Len.” says Joe.

“I’m going to be saying plenty.” Len assures him. “In my own press conference. Which I need you to call.”

He places his phone down on Joe’s desk. Harry cranes his neck to get a look at the screen.

“Who’s he?” asks Joe, plainly confused. Len heaves in a breath, and blurts it out before he can change his mind. His father’s not leaning over his shoulder any more. He’s safe.

“That’s my partner. Mick.”

Joe looks up, eyes wide. 

“I can’t keep it secret any more. And I’d like to be in control when I tell the press. Plus, it will take some of the heat of Hart and Cisco.”

“Can he handle it?” asks Harry, ever the cynic.

Joe gestures at the photo, expression informing Harry that it would be a dumb question. Len thinks of the reception wither the press or homophobic assholes would get at Mick’s store, and grins at the mental view of the carnage.

“Perhaps we ought to keep his name to of it, for their sakes.”

***

Central City Riveters fans are loyal bastards, perhaps due to the years of losing seasons before Len and Barry and Wally took over as the linemen and the Mardons closed up the back, and they close ranks around Hart and Len like a fucking bear trap. Rainbow t-shirt with the team logo become a common sight around the city, and the fans cheer for Cisco when they see him almost as loud as they cheer for actual players. But nonetheless, there are still assholes. After one of them throws something at Cisco, Riveters games start having a new regular, who sits right behind the part of the bench where the trainers sit, and glowers at everyone while looking more physically intimidating than most of the team.

Len had never gone public with Mick’s name, just in case, only referring to him as his partner, so no one knows who Mick is when he attends games, just that he’s particularly protective of Cisco.

It’s been almost a year and a half now, and there’s been two rings hanging on a chain around Len’s neck or looped around is water or spare stick for three weeks now. Mick almost gets kicked out for fighting until it turns out some scumbag was coming after Cisco with a knife and Mick’s suddenly a hometown hero, and the game’s basically over anyway, so Len skates over to the bench, makes grabby hands until Axel hands over his water bottle, unloops a ring, and cups his hands around his mouth.

“Hey asshole!” he roars. It’s a testament to the kind of relationship they have that Mick answers to the call. Len waves the ring in the air. “Come down here so I can ask this properly.”

The Mardons and Hartley are all grabbing at each other behind him, giving off a semi-harmonized low screech. The entire stadium has gone silent.

“Lenny-“ says Mick, and his voice almost breaks in the middle.

“Come on. Get down here so we can do this proper.” says Len.

“Lisa is never going to forgive you for doing this when she’s not here.” says Mick, slowly making his way down to the bench.

“Time was right.” says Len. “She’ll let it go if we let her plan the wedding.”

Mick makes a noise that might be a choked little sob.

“What do you say?” asks Len, when Mick’s on the other side of the tiny barrier to the bench. Mick reaches out to punch him in the arm.

“Of course it’s yes, you fucking asshole.” snaps Mick. The entire stadium erupts in a roar, and Len leans over the barrier in order to kiss his new fiancée, only for half his team to sweep him up in some kind of hybrid tackle hug. Mick is standing there, his ring in his hands, laughing through the tears on his face, and Len’s ears are ringing because it’s okay, everything’s okay, his city’s behind him and his team’s behind him, and his father is gone, and the love of his life has just agreed to marry him.

It’s a better feeling than hoisting the cup.

fire and ice (part 1/?)

So it’s legendweek and I had this half-written and I figured why not? I’ll post the rest of it eventually, just gotta work out the kinks first. 


June is seven and she’s the strongest mage in her class.

Because magic is a thing, or at least, Gifts are. Some people have them, some people don’t. June has ice and snow at her fingertips and she’s seven with long hair and a bright mind and she hosts snowball battles at recess and offers to create snow days for Metias when he’s exhausted but hauling himself out for work.

He always refuses, but he smiles a little softer each time.

-x-

June is ten and she’s going for her Trial and there is absolutely no way she will fail.

Mages never fail. Mages never, ever fail. They’re too useful for the economy, so the Trial has a special test for mages on top of the other components. If you’re a mage, you’re practically given an automatic pass.

So June walks in and walks out expecting to pass. She didn’t expect to get a perfect score, to be named the girl with the most potential in the entire Republic, but life isn’t always what you expect, and not always in a bad way.

Metias grins so wide that she thinks his face will fall apart and ruffles her hair and looks proud enough to burst.

-x-

She’s fifteen and Metias is dead.

Metias is dead and they say that it was a car accident, that he died the way June’s parents did. June goes cold down through her skin and bones, down to her very core.

She cries for two hours and trains for six, screams and freezes the Academy’s training grounds beneath five inches of ice and walks out in a blizzard of sharp, frozen shards.

And then she discovers the notes in Metias’ journals, she hacks into the Republic accounts, she finds out.

Metias didn’t die in a car accident. Metias was killed.

She gets found out - she was never as good at hacking as her big brother - and then the Republic tries to get rid of her.

June slips past them and drops the house into freezing temperatures and runs.

-x-

A week later she finds the Patriots, because she’s fifteen and powerful, because she’s fifteen and alone and her big brother is dead and she’s angry, so angry she can’t breathe. Because she’s June Imparis and they’ve taken the only person she loved with all her heart and she hates.

Because she was never as good a person as Metias and she wants to break things, she wants to shatter the whole world in her fury. Because she wants to fix things. Because life isn’t fair and she knows that, she knows, but it should be. It should be better.

The Patriots fight because they hate the system of the Republic, the unfairness, the Trials. June figures that they’ll get along just fine.

(She knows before joining that she’ll be sent to the front lines, where the Patriots are waging war against Republic soldiers, but she does it anyway.

June Imparis, ladies and gentlemen. Princess of ice, prodigy of the Republic. Queen of ice and snow, the girl with blizzards at her fingers and avalanches in her veins.)

-x-

“Why’re you here?” A Patriot soldier asks, once.

June shoots him a look, because they cleared this ages ago. They figured that she wasn’t a spy when the Republic sent out wanted posters and tried to assassinate her with a dozen soldiers. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Not that way, jeez! I mean, why’d you come? You could’ve gone anywhere, why’d you come here?”

June glances up at him, then looks back at the ground.

“They killed my brother,” she says, voice dark, anger filling her chest and threatening to suffocate her. “I found out, and then they tried to kill me.”

The soldier whistles beside her. “Damn.” A hand lands on her head and she jerks away; the soldier just laughs. “Don’t get so worried, girlie, we ain’t gonna hurt you here. You’ll get on well with Day.”

Day, the Republic’s most wanted criminal, who mysteriously joined the Patriots just over a month ago. Day, a mage with fire in his blood, who burnt Republic ships to nothing but twisted metal and ash. Day, who no one’s ever been able to catch.

June frowns. “Why’s he here? He’s been independent of the Patriots for years, what changed?”

“What I heard, the Republic got his family. Didn’t know it was his, of course, he’s too smart to let anyone know, but his little brother… the kid’s a genius, I heard. Literal magic fingers, can make machines with anything. Gift of technology. His mother died trying to protect him, and the family’s oldest son was captured with him.”

“A gift of technology?” It must be especially powerful, since that gift is fairly common.

“Yeah.” The soldier nods, eyes turned dark. “And if he can make machines…”

“He can make weapons,” June finishes, voice a breath.

“You’re a sharp one, girlie.” The soldier doesn’t sound impressed, just tired, grin approving but worn. “Day figured our interests would be aligned. We work together to get the kid without killing him, and Day’ll help us with whatever we need. With firepower like his, it works out pretty well.”

“Day’s never killed before,” June says. “I’ve seen his files.”

“Not before he joined,” the soldier agrees, and suddenly June feels overwhelmingly sick.

-x-

She meets Day at the edge of the campsite, a boy with blond hair and brilliant blue eyes that remind her of skies reflected in ice.

“Hello, cousin.” He’s sitting on a log, letting fire dance across his fingers. “Haven’t seen you around before.”

“I’m a new recruit,” June tells him, and he nods like he was expecting this. His eyes are bright but absent.

“What’s your name?”

“June Imparis,” she tells him. He looks up.

“You’re a Gem sector kid.”

“How did you know that?”

He nods at her, letting the fire in his palms reach a little higher. “Your accent. Your name. The way you stand.”

“You’re pretty sharp.”

Day shrugs. “Why’re you here?”

“What?’

"You’re from a Gem sector. You’ve got money, power, food. Anything you want. Why’d you come here?”

“The Republic killed my brother.” June feels that old, ugly anger rise in her gut and up her throat. “He was all the family I had.”

“Or you could be a spy,” Day says, not aggressive, just matter-of-fact. It makes June angry anyway.

“I’m not a spy,” she snaps. “You want proof? Take me with you the next time you fight. I’ll turn their blood to ice.” He makes an absent noise and fury crashes through her. She crosses her arms - “I thought you’d understand losing family, with what happened to yours.”

Day’s shoulders tense, whole body going still. The fire in his hands flares bigger, brighter, angrier. “Hold your tongue, cousin.”

Instinctively, June draws ice to her fingertips, but when she looks at him Day’s face is lined with frustrated worry, exhaustion and pain and steel twisted into something hurting in his eyes. He looks tired, looks old.

“Sorry,” June says, angry at herself for the careless cruelty. “I shouldn’t have said that.”

Day scowls, not looking at her. “David needs to stop blabbering about it.”

“I asked. I wanted to know why you were on the front lines.”

Day glances at her. “So why are you here? Revenge?”

“I’m not fighting for revenge,” June says, and when she thinks about it the honesty of that surprises her. “I’m fighting for change.”

She meets his eyes and the intensity of his gaze takes her breath away. He watches her carefully, analytically, like he’s looking right through her.

Eventually he nods. “I reckon that’s a good reason to fight.”

June cracks a smile. “So is yours.”

He grins at her, and it surprises her how it throws light into his eyes and brightens his face. “Sorry ‘bout calling you a spy. I guess a spy would be smarter than to let us know they’re from a Gem sector, anyway.”

June nods. “I would, at least.”

He tips his head to the log beside him. “Want to take a seat?”

“Sure.” She settles beside him, warmed by the heat of his flames. He doesn’t say anything for a long moment, and she begins to talk before things get awkward. “You’re from Lake sector?”

He slants a look at her, surprised. “That I am. How did you know?”

“You called me 'cousin’. Lake sector slang.”

“Sharp,” he says, nodding. The ball of fire between his hands expands, and he pulls it closer to his chest, like he’s cold.

June can relate. She’s felt cold since the day Metias was killed, since she found that she’s been living a lie, since the world turned on its ear and tipped her right out. She absently materialises a ball of ice between her palms, shifts it through the basic shapes students learn in school.

A perfect sphere, then an oval, a triangle, a square. Then more complicated ones - a heart, a flower, a butterfly. A toy bear, a rabbit, a bird.

A dog, like Ollie, who looked like he’d been made of powdered snow. Something in her chest aches fiercely, and she glares because her eyes are prickling and hot.

Day whistles beside her, and she realises that he’s been watching her all this time. She looks up at him, but he doesn’t look anywhere near annoyed; just examines the dog in her hands for a long moment.

The fire in front of him begins to shift, and then there’s a replica of her ice dog in his hands, mirrored in flames. Day frowns. “It’s not quite right.”

“The ears are floppier,” June says, “and the paws are bigger.”

He makes the necessary adjustments, grins. He cups his palms like he’s tossing it at her and the fire dog leaps from his palms, prances in front of June for a moment before running back to Day.

June smiles and tilts her hands towards him. The dog bounds out towards Day, the way Ollie would to greet her after she came home from school, and Day laughs. It sounds like music filtering through the trees.

“Fire and ice,” he says, and June grins.

-x-

Day is the Patriot’s greatest weapon, the human equivalent of an atomic bomb, an inferno, a storm.

The first mission June gets with him, he gets a kill order over the radio, and his face shuts down completely. He ducks his head, lets too-long blond hair fall to hide his eyes.

When he looks up, his eyes are very dark, very cold. “No other choice?”

This is war,” the voice says, crackling with radio static. “People die.”

“I know that, cousin. But unnecessary kills aren’t the way to go, yeah?”

“The only way to win is to whittle down their forces. Keep this up, your little brother’s never gonna be found- or, hey, maybe they’ll have him build an atomic bomb and blow us all to kingdom come, wouldn’t that be ironic-”

Fine,” Day snarls, lip curling over sharp white teeth. “Fine, I’ll do it, shut up.” He slams a finger into the radio, cuts off the broadcast. “Goddy bastards.”

There’s a girl who can see through walls with them, and she narrows her grey eyes when they get to the camp. They slip in and gather the data they need. 

Through the thin tent walls, they overhear a soldier talking about how much he misses his family, laughing about his kid, and Day goes very tense, very still.

They slip out again, and the girl nods at Day. Day takes a breath, eyes hard, and raises a hand. Smoke billows up towards the dark sky, and suddenly the camp is burning, fire raging dark and angry and spitting dark choking smog. The flames are blinding in the black night. Even at this distance, June can feel the heat.

She thinks of the man, of the kid waiting for her daddy to come home, and she feels sick sick sick.

“Let’s go,” the girl says, and Day drops his hand, shaking. He takes a step and staggers, falling to his knees like the ground is yanking him down. His breaths come ragged and shaky, and he bites out a trembling curse.

“Day?” June drops by his side, takes in his pale face and wide, glazed eyes. “What’s wrong?”

“Backlash,” Day snarls, trying to get to his feet. He can’t seem to get his legs beneath him.

June grabs his arm, pulling it over her shoulder, and hauls him up. He tries to support his own weight and stumbles. “What backlash? Magic doesn’t have backlash, it’s a natural occurrence, it’s like a muscle, you just get tired-” that was a lot of magic Day used, a lot of power - terrifying, deadly, terrible, but June can tell from his dilated eyes and white face that this isn’t just magic exhaustion. “What backlash?

“Not now,” he hisses. “The jeep. Fast!”

She gets him to the jeep, just in time. He falls into the seat and brings his knees to his chest, breaths coming ragged and broken, and then he chokes out a scream, ragged and hurting and when June touches his arm, his skin is fever-hot, is burning like coals. Day convulses, chokes, sucks in a breath. It sounds like he can’t breathe.

“What’s wrong with him?” June demands. Day makes a broken, strangled noise. “This isn’t normal!”

The girl starts the jeep. “His magic isn’t normal. Gives him backlash. He’ll be out of commission for a bit, but this much isn’t too bad. He should be walking by the time we get back.”

“This isn’t too bad?

“He’ll be fine,” the girl says, hands white-knuckled on the steering wheel. “He always is.”

He always is. Even after killing an entire camp of people, of men and women and brothers and sisters and parents, of people like Metias-

-Day makes an awful, aching sound, like someone ripped him wide open and dug fingers into raw lungs, and June shuts her eyes. What he did was unforgivable. What the Patriots are doing- it’s awful and inhumane and wrong, and despite their claims it’s nothing but murder and what’s the point of overtaking a country if there’s no people left to save? It won’t help.

But what will? June doesn’t even know, can barely breathe, can’t close her eyes without seeing angry flames and smoke. Day’s gasping beside her, hurting, and he just wants to save his baby brother. June can’t promise that she wouldn’t rip the world in two to get her big brother back.

She swallows, summons ice to her fingers, and pushes back Day’s fringe with cool hands; presses her icy palm to his forehead, fingers shaking. He moans raggedly, leaning into her touch.

An eternity later, his breathing evens out, and he looks up at her with glassy eyes. “Sorry,” he mumbles, trying to sit up. June pulls his forehead onto her shoulder, hand wrapped around the feverish base of his neck.

“You okay?”

Day goes limp against her, breaths deep and shaky. “Yeah,” he says, and June doesn’t call him out on the lie.

-x-

Day stumbles away when they get to camp. June follows him, and finds him throwing up in the woods.

“Backlash?” she asks, holding back his sweat-damp hair as he gasps raggedly for breath. His skin’s cooled, though, a little warm but not much more than usual.

He shuts his eyes, but June catches the flicker of aching hurt. “You could say that.”

“You don’t like it. You don’t like killing.”

Day laughs, broken and splintered into millions of fragmented bits. “Sweetheart,” he says, “what sort of goddy trot likes to kill?”

“You could stop. You could stop, there has to be another way-”

“Eden,” he says.

“What?”

Eden. My baby brother. I’ve got to get him back. And John- they took John, too, I can’t-” Day breaks off, takes a breath. “I can’t leave them there.”

June bites her lip, thinks of fire and smoke and parents melted to bone and ash. “Is it worth it?”

Day opens his eyes, and he looks so tired it makes her ache. And still, still, his eyes are steadfast blue and stubborn, glittering with determination.

“Yes,” he says.

-x-

“What’s your brother like? Eden?”

They’re sitting on the grass at the corner of the camp, damp dirt between their fingers and the blue sky above their heads. Day shrugs.

“Great kid,” he says. “He was always messing with tech and stuff. Built machines all the time- when he was four, he build a catapult to fire water balloons at the plants.” He grins, sharp but soft at the edges, at the corners of his eyes. “He was always the smartest, you know? We were thinking that he’d be the lucky one, get though the goddy Trial easy and get some sort of scholarship, maybe.” Day spreads his hands out, holding them against the sky. “Eden Bataar Wing, greatest engineer of his age-” his arms drop like broken wings “-guess you’ve really gotta be careful what you wish for.”

Eden is the greatest engineer of his age, or close. That’s why he’s been taken by the Republic, that’s why their family is dead, that’s why Day joined the Patriots and kills and kills and kills, even when it hurts him and sends fire across his skin. June shuts her eyes.

“Why did you start breaking the law, all those years ago?”

“I wanted to help people.” Day’s voice is heavy, is tired. Helping people has only gotten him a bounty on his head and blood on his hands. “Grew up in the slums, yeah? There was never enough food or money, and the plague came every year. Always scared.”

“Why didn’t you just go to a good university, then? With your abilities, you could have gotten really far. You could have made better changes, more long-lasting. It’d help people more in the long-term.”

Day laughs, startled and sharp and bitter. “I failed my Trial, cousin. And people needed help right then.”

June’s eyes snap open, and she stares at him. “Mages never fail their Trials. Not ones as strong as you. ”

Day looks at her, the boy who can hold fire without being burnt, who wields it as a weapon and draws it close like a friend.

“I wasn’t a mage back then,” he says.

“What?”

“I wasn’t born with this, didn’t you know?” He lets fire flicker in his palms, dance up his arms. “That’s why it’s so strong, and why there’s those side effects after. I’m not meant to have so much power.” He shrugs. “I’m not meant to have power at all.”

“That’s impossible, you’re either born with it or you’re not.” She knows people have tried, but they failed, and failed, and failed. There are stories of the experiments in her old textbooks, of blood and broken children and blown-up research centres, of kids’ hearts giving out beneath the weight of power they weren’t meant to hold.

“That’s what you’d think, right? But the night of my Trial, they experimented on me. Hurt like fire.” He laughs, something like bitter, at the irony. “They thought I died; mortality rate’s pretty high, I guess.” He shrugs. “Woke up in the basement with the rest of the bodies.”

June can’t breathe. She stares at him, and he slants a tired grin at her. “You were supposed to be in a labour camp,” she says. “Why were you-”

“Don’t you get it?” Day’s eyes are dark, are hard. “There are no labour camps, June. Just morgues in hospital basements.”