They didn't speak for the majority of the walk home.
Fayne bit his lip as he cast a nervous glance up at his father. The older man's unwavering blue gaze was fixed on the sidewalk ahead of them with so much intensity that Fayne instinctively looked away. He wished he could find the right words to break the silence, to make amends with his father after the mess he'd caused, but the words he desperately sought out refused to make themselves known to him. He decided that he needed a distraction, so he pulled out his phone, only to be greeted with a screen full of missed calls from Seth. Leave it to his worrywart of a brother to make a mountain out of a molehill. With a sigh, he gingerly shoved the phone right back into his pocket.
So much for a distraction.
"I'm sorry," his father said out of nowhere, catching Fayne by surprise. That certainly hadn't been the first thing he'd expected to hear from him.
"Sorry?" Fayne echoed. "For what?"
"For making you feel like you had to diminish your powers. I didn't realize I've been giving you that impression."
Right. Of course, that was what he meant. Fayne averted his eyes. He'd kept his feelings bottled up for so long that it still felt strange to hear them being openly acknowledged like this. "It's fine, Dad, really. I just...I wish you didn't treat my power like its only purpose is destruction."
His father's lips parted as if he had something to say, but he stopped himself, so Fayne decided to continue.
"The truth is, Mask was the first person to ever see my power as an asset instead of a liability. That's why I went to him for training. Even if his methods were kind of extreme, he told me that it was the only way I could learn to control it properly."
"Did he, now?"
Fayne nodded, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. "Yeah. And I...I believed him, I guess. I didn't have any reason not to."
He waited for his father to scold him, to tell him that none of that excused his actions. That is, until he noticed that he'd completely stopped in his tracks. He then turned around to see his father standing with a hand outstretched.
"Come here for a second," his father said.
Puzzled yet somewhat intrigued, Fayne did as told. Once he reached his father, he crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"What now?" he asked. "It's getting late, so this better…oh."
He never ended up finishing his initial thought. In fact, every coherent thought in his mind evaporated as a small flame flickered to life in the palm of his father's hand. Small as it was, however, it burned brighter than any flame Fayne had ever brought into being with his own power. He'd been aware that his father possessed the same ability he did, but up until this point he'd never actually seen him use it. This flame was so immensely unlike the wild, angry flames that Fayne produced that he couldn't tear his eyes away from it. He found himself entranced by it as it danced in the breeze, swaying back and forth to an unheard melody.
His father's attention remained fixated on the flame as well, likely to keep it in check, but his words were for Fayne. "It's true that fire can be a destructive force. And you know what? When I was your age, I hated that fact just as much as you do now. I hated that I was capable of causing harm to people around me with a single touch. But then, one day, I learned something very important that changed my life forever."
Caught off guard by that sentiment, Fayne stared up at him incredulously. "Really? What was it?"
"You should already know the answer to that," his father said. He then looked up from the flame, his expression softening as his gaze met his son's. "It's what I said to you the day you first discovered that you had the same power I do."
All the way back then? If he was being honest with himself, he didn't remember much about it, but all he knew was that his power had manifested when he was a little kid. How little? He must have been four, right? Or maybe five. Beyond that, though, he couldn't seem to grasp anything else. No, wait, he remembered his father being there. And Seth, too. If he thought hard enough, he could almost hear Seth saying...no, Seth shouting something, except he couldn't quite make out whatever it was because...because...
Because the world was on fire.