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"Hanazawa, do you know pyrokinesis?"

"Of course I do."

"...Is it difficult?"

A gust of wind blindsides Teru, running icy claws through his hair and irritating his ruddy cheeks.

"It's not hard, but it’s not easy either." Seems like a pretty uncomplicated answer until Teru actually says it.

"Do you think I could learn?" Shigeo asks, flexing his fingers.

"Um, well, I don't know." Of course he knows. If Kageyama wants to accomplish something, he will fight to achieve it. Regardless of how much he has to struggle, or if he's too weak to stand, there is no permanency in failure for Shigeo.

He even was accepted into the same high school Ritsu was aiming for; Teru witnessed him study ardently and succeed.

In a few short weeks, they would both be starting a new term, and in another year, preparing for University entrance exams. Why would Kageyama even be concerned about learning pyrokinesis? For fun?

He's already…

"You don't know?" Shigeo reiterates, and it's enamel embedding in Teru's bones.

Kageyama moves rather briskly through the snow, each step firmly planting in the eight inches of frozen water that Teru can barely find traction on.

"I don't." Teru smiles as he says it, bittersweet words falling into open air. He works his tongue over the hard edges of his teeth. What he doesn't understand is why an esper as powerful as Kageyama would ask him for the basics.

"Compared to me, you're on a totally different level, Kageyama. I don't even know how I would begin to--"

"But you're more confident and have better control than I do,” Shigeo interjects candidly. “Any advice you can offer would be helpful."

And that stops Teru in his tracks, the slush melting over the laces of his shoes and soaking into his socks. Turning back to look at him, Shigeo sways in place.

"Y-you think so?" Teru stammers gracefully.

Kageyama nods, the wind mussing up his hair and tugging on his sweater's too-long sleeves, his ears flushed from exposure to the cold.

"When I first started playing with the idea, I discovered a way to manifest my energy using psychokinesis… It's not really that impressive, but I found that it’s easier to use a medium at first. Anything metal that won't melt works best."

Shigeo's expression quirks ever-so-slightly, his nose wrinkling as the corner of his mouth twitches.

"Creating flames… using only psychokinesis? ...I've never seen that before," he says, his gaze rising upward to the gray swatches of clouds obscuring the horizon.

With power like Kageyama's, Teru could peel back the atmosphere.

And here Shigeo is, waltzing around in the snow and wondering if he could manage to light a candle. It's like contemplating molotov cocktails when you could create a supernova.

Swallowing his hesitation, Teru steps closer, nervously twisting a lock of his hair.

"Would you like to see, Kageyama?" He breathes out, the air stealing heat from his lungs and pushing clouds from between his lips.

Shigeo lazily swivels his head around and extends a hand toward Teru.

"Yes."

 

There is a quiet place across the street, a lonesome road and empty house soon to be swallowed up by the city. Its outdated architecture crumbles under the weight of its memories and decay.

They gingerly move over the dry, rotting floorboards. The atmosphere is dark, like coffee stains on modern stationary, dust and stagnation tickling Shigeo’s sinuses.

Teru hunts the drawers in the kitchenette for silverware and is genuinely surprised when he finds a spoon. Shigeo rocks on his heels.

"What are the chances..." He exhales, testing the spoon's bendability.

A dried leaf crackles under Teru's sneaker. Dust-smeared fingers intertwine with Kageyama's and he leads him into the next room, which is painfully empty apart from a heap of crinkled newspaper.

There's a rather opaque window, dreary light leaking in through remnants of newspaper separating from the glass. The paper shivers as Teru closes the door.

Being within close proximity of Kageyama always feels different. Sometimes it feels like being submerged in a lukewarm peroxide bath; or like the sensation of pins and needles, but it’s your whole body falling asleep.

Sometimes his barrier is pliable, and Teru finds that when he leans in to whisper small things to Kageyama, its consistency is like ballistics gel, pushing him back.

Today, his clammy skin is conductive, and Teru feels the current ripple up the veins laced in his arm, like thimbles pressing the blood out of his aching fingertips.

A barrier that is both liquid mercury and glass.

Teru untangles his hand from Kageyama's and positions him near the door, moving his own body to the far side of the room, closer to the window.

"Um, well, lets see..." He straightens his spine. "The key is, I think, not thinking about it at all."

Kageyama's eyes glaze over a bit.

"W-what I mean is, focus your energy by relaxing your body. Sync your mind and body together, you know? I always imagine a metronome: timing and tempo… Envision what you want, and let your energy do the rest naturally."

Shigeo hums in response, shifting his weight onto his other foot.

'He's probably not interested in the details...' Teru tries to put aside his doubts as he rubs his hands together in preparation.

"It might get a little warm, OK, Kageyama?" His voice is clear like the chime of a bell, echoing in the eerie silence of the insulated room. Shigeo lifts his chin.

Teru drops his bag by the wall and clears his throat, taking his usual stance. Innocently, Shigeo's gaze travels from inward position of his toes and up the curve of his calves.

Teru glances at Shigeo for a brief second with a crooked smile. The spoon is pinched loosely between his fingers, and Teru begins to swing it like a clock's pendulum, rhythmically. Then his smile disappears.

The spoon no longer moves, but its atoms do. Kageyama can almost hear the cold metal hiss, expanding with the pressure of Teru's energy.

The first wave of heat feels like standing too close a bonfire. Shigeo can feel the moisture on his skin evaporating, drawing the water straight from his cells.

Teru's energy spikes, folds in on itself, and plummets back down, pulsing and alive. The spoon begins to glow, particles accelerating and reacting. Teru's expression pinches, and the spoon smokes, sending thin purls swimming and diffusing into air.

The room is getting hotter, his mucous membranes beginning to dry out, especially his eyes; each blink bears less and less relief. Shigeo's barrier increases in density to compensate, though it doesn’t help much. The latex paint on the walls begins to bubble and peel.

The utensil will catch on fire at this rate, Shigeo notes, seeing the ferocity of its color as dripping molten hues of a sunset burst through gaps in the paper blinds. He raises an arm to shield the heat from his face, but it cannot stop the viciously dry air. Delicate blood vessels crack, and a line of blood trails down his curve of his lip, collecting in the corner of his mouth.

When a blue flame rises in the tip of the spoon, Teru instantly stops. His power flat-lines, all that energy bottoms out, and the walls tremble.

The air slows, icy drafts creeping under the door and up Kageyama's spine. The house's support beams groan in relief, and the glass in the window threatens to warp and shatter.

It‘s quiet, pardoning the structure's settling. Teru's breathing is even, hardly affected by the task. Shigeo's body is covered in a cold sweat soaking into his bones, and he feels unbearably chilled now that the heat has subsided.

"And that's 'How to set shit on fire for beginners'." Teru forces a weak laugh that dissolves into a sigh.

"You alright?" He gestures at Kageyama. The trickle of blood has dried, but it's still wet on his tongue.

"I'm fine," Shigeo shrugs, reaching out his hand. "I've never seen anyone do that before."

"I didn't think it would be impressive or anything... It's all silly tricks compared to your power, Kageyama.” He paused, then continued.

“Honestly, I'm surprised you wanted to see. There's not much I can do that you don't already have a grasp on."

Teru does his best to smile and offers Kageyama the blackened spoon.

"You going to try it? Be careful, it’s still hot." But Kageyama doesn't take the spoon from him. Instead, his fingers close around Teru's wrist, and he pulls him closer, guiding the silverware still awkwardly clasped in Teru's hand into a position over his own eye.

The pads of Teru's fingers are raw and threatening to blister. A bead of sweat crawls down his jaw.

"...It's easy, to avoid getting burned. You know that, don't you?" Shigeo says, closing his eyes and pressing the back of the spoon to his eyelid.

"Kage--" Teru gasps, but Shigeo doesn't flinch. The turgor of his barrier condenses over the area. The sensation causes Teru's diaphragm to contract, and his pulse is so strong behind his eyes, he thinks his brain might cleave apart.

After a few seconds, Kageyama releases Teru's wrist, and the spoon chimes against the floorboards.

"You can attack and defend at the same time, right?" Shigeo blinks slowly, pupils trained on Teru's face.

There is no mar on his delicate skin. It is flawless, and Teru feels utterly stupid for worrying.

"You can do that, right, Hanazawa?" He moves closer as he speaks, so that close Teru can see the blood vessels on his sclera and bright reflections in the fluid of his eyes. In the waning light, Kageyama looks terribly corpse-colored, mauve hues bleeding through a pallid complexion and dried sweat causing his bangs to curl.

Teru's head feels vacant, but his throat is filled with cotton and words he cannot articulate.

'I'm so foolish,' he thinks, biting the inside of his mouth and looking downcast at his sneakers as he nods.

Suddenly there is a cool hand on the nape of Teru's neck, and it pulls him like a lead weight. Kageyama's lips touch his eyelid, brush over his cheek. Lips against his own, languid and tactless. Copper and syrup under his tongue, and Teru thinks he may have a fever.

"You're the only one who can do that," Shigeo says, and his hand is unbelievably warm wrapped around Teru's numb fingers.

"Of course..."