Chapter 13

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“Oh, you’re up.” I smiled at Lilly. Playing it cool. Like I hadn’t just used my awesome god powers to save her life. And exposed both of us to a mysterious group of killers in the process… and seriously, I have no idea what the hell is going on with that Lucifer guy.
Lilly sat up, looked at her bandaged side.
“Might want to go easy on it for a while,” I recommended, “Ms. Slaphappy gave you a pretty big cut. Might be a bit low on blood.”
“It–it doesn’t hurt much.” She frowned. “I thought I was dying before…”
“Turns out you weren’t hurt that badly. Lots of blood, probably a lot of pain at the time, but no vital damage.”
“Are you sure?”
“You’re still breathing, right?”
“Then I think you’re okay. You probably just fainted from the blood or something.”
“I–I’ve seen blood before. Never fainted at it.”
“Hmmm. Then I don’t know. No sense in worrying about it, though.”
“I suppose.” She paused. “So what happened to Ms. Slaphappy?”
“I suspect she’s back at the Academy, torturing another batch of kids. Or… she might still be in the infirmary…” I sighed. “I may have, kinda, sorta… set her on fire… just a bit.”
“You set her on fire?”
“Hey, she insisted on fighting. I fight sword-like meter sticks with fire. And if she’s got a problem with that, then she shouldn’t’ve brought a meter stick to a fire fight.” I smiled. “Man, it felt so good to do that. I’ve wanted to light her on fire since I first met her and–”
“I’m starting to worry about you…” Lilly smiled.
“Okay, so I’m a pyro, but… it’s in my DNA.” I sighed. “That thing before, with me not being hurt by fire… it’s genetic. I’m a phoenix.” Half testing the waters to see if she can keep a secret, half just feeling guilty for keeping so many things from her.
“Yeah, right.”
“Seriously. I’m a phoenix.”
“Like how you were rescued by a dragon?”
“Yes. Because that also happened.” In retrospect, I probably should’ve kept that story to myself. Amusing as it is, it doesn’t do much to establish my credibility. Since dragons are… you know… supposedly extinct…
Phoenixes, by the way, are a rare type of angel, highly skilled in the element of fire, and supposedly nigh-immortal. Fitting species for a mortal fire god, eh?
“You look like a normal angel to me.”
“What? Were you expecting red and yellow plumage that glows in the dark?” I spread my plain brown wings (which do not glow in the dark). “Something that just screams ‘I have incredible magical power and my entrails are rumored to cure all diseases. Come and shoot me so you can get rich by selling my body on the black market’?”
“It’s called blending in. Half the descriptions of phoenixes are actually made up by phoenixes so nobody knows what to look for. Keeps us safer that way.”
“You got any proof?”
“Ms. Slaphappy got me in the side, too, remember?” I lifted up my shirt to show her the lack of any visible injury. “Completely healed. Phoenixes have an auto-repair mechanism that’s activated by fire. In fact…” I took out my pocket knife and made an incision on my chest. (I’d forgotten how much that frickin’ hurts.)
“What are you–” Lilly stared.
“Now you see it…” I lit myself on fire. Waited a moment. Flames off. “Now you don’t. Voila, le mécanisme de guérison du phénix.”
“Wow. Okay. So… you’re really a phoenix?”
“Yep. I’d appreciate if you’d keep it between us, though. Don’t wanna wake up in a bathtub missing my gizzard.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone.” She smiled.
“Thanks. Oh, and thanks for your heroic sacrifice earlier. Taking that cut for me. Much appreciated. But… don’t do it again, okay? You really had me worried back there, and if I’d taken the hit instead of you, I’d have healed right away, and everything would’ve been fine. So… I should be taking the hits, not you, understand?”
“Such chivalry, my valiant knight.” She laughed. “Just to be clear, though… that whole ‘reborn from the ashes…'”
“Don’t count on it. Mechanism’s buggy as hell.” I shrugged. “Though I do have an organ that restarts my heart… so if I die, light me on fire, and see what happens.”

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