Part Three: Balance

by: Shiryu


            Tina would have laughed if she had the strength to.


            It was always night when blood was spilled. It was always night when she wondered if she was the hunter, or the hunted.


            Almost as though the killer were a child, afraid of the dark. Only this time, it was no child, and it was not the darkness that the hunter feared. Only the light.


            She could not afford to lose any time, but already it had been weeks, and nothing. No clues to go off of, and no name to put to the faceless killer. Until last night.


            And suddenly, she really wished that it had stayed that way. Despite her fogged vision, despite the way every logical argument lashed at her, screamed at her, she had to accept it. She knew this person.


            And they might have tried to kill her, too.


            Clutching at her throat, gasping for air that was just not there, suffocating, terrifying, movement so exhausting, draining, blackness creeping in on her eyes, could not see, could not move, could not think –


            Drawing in a shaky breath, she forced her hands to stay in her pockets, and drew herself back into the present.


            The cooler air of December blew through the trees of the park, as she walked along the path. She and Johnny had planned this for the weekend, and she was glad for the opportunity to get her mind off things, and to spend time with Johnny, of course.


            From behind some of the trees, at the grove where they usually met beside a pond, she could hear Johnny’s voice. Smiling, she crept towards him, keeping out of sight with the foliage. Brushing some ferns delicately aside, she prepared to jump out and surprise him.


            He seemed to be sitting on the stone bench, just staring into space, with a hesitant glance from side to side at times. And that’s when the smile slipped off her face.


            Hovering just above his fingertips was a clear, gleaming ball of water, glinting and reflecting the light that came through the tree leaves. Soil and leaf bits danced within its watery walls. And she could do nothing but stare in shock for a few minutes, until she faintly registered that he was actually speaking.


            “How am I going to tell Tina this?” he muttered, transfixed by the orb of liquid that swirled and changed before his eyes.


            “Johnny?” Her voice came out high-pitched and frightened, and inwardly she cursed.


            “Tina?” His head whipped sharply back, and suddenly the hypnotizing sphere dropped in a shapeless mass, enveloping his hands in freezing cold water, but he took no notice of it, dark eyes wide and startled as he stared back wordlessly at Tina.


            She was sure her own face mirrored his, and her lips moved before she could think. “What – how – when - ?”


            “Tina, I – I don’t – “ There was a pained look on his face, and suddenly Tina felt as though she’d just kicked a puppy. Moving quickly, without a second thought, she seated herself beside him on the bench, shuddering slightly as the stone seemed to steal all the warmth in her body away. She laid her hand upon his, and squeezed it.


            He looked back at her, with some measure of guilt and relief, before drawing her into a tight hug, breathing in the scent of her hair as he squeezed his eyes shut.


            “So everything’s okay?” he asked, laughing slightly as they sat, reveling in each other’s warmth.


            “Yeah, everything’s okay,” Tina murmured, content at that moment to simply be with him.


            “How come? It’s not that I don’t care, but…” he trailed off, unanswered questions precariously hanging on the tip of his tongue.


            Sighing abashedly, she reluctantly pulled back from the hug, and snapped her fingers. The little flame that burst up made Johnny jerk in surprise, and he gave the fire a wide berth.


            “What’s wrong?” Tina asked, letting the flame go out. Curls of smoke lingered in the air.


            “Nothing, it’s just… fire’s kind of crazy.”


            “Is that a bad thing?”


            “Not when water’s around to make sure everything’s okay,” he chuckled. And standing up, he swooped down quickly to hold Tina in her arms, and she shrieked indignantly. Laughing, they spun around, before Johnny set her down on her feet.


            Fire and water. Balance. Love. And just the two of them, in their own little world.


            Everything was going to be just fine.


            For now.