About an hour later, Alex sat down on the couch next to me.
“Sleep well?” I closed my book.
“Uh… not really. To be honest–” He glanced at my arm. “Wait, what happened to your arm?”
I looked down at the bloody bandage on my forearm. “Guess you weren’t awake enough to remember that.”
“Oh. Did I do that?” He blushed. “Sorry, I… uh…”
I sighed. “My fault for trying to wake you. I… should have known better, especially after…”
“No. I… let me heal it for you, okay? I…it’s the least I can do.”
He unwrapped the bandages and looked at the cuts his beak made. “I–I didn’t mean to–”
“I deserved a lot worse. I’ve been… killing your own kind. And–” I shook my head. “You have every reason to distrust me.”
“Wha–no. I–” He stopped. “Okay… I guess there may be a little part of me that… isn’t entirely comfortable around a dragon slayer. But I do trust you. It’s just…”
“But it wasn’t enough to stop you from lying awake last night, wondering if I was going to kill you in your sleep.”
“Uh… pretty much… Yeah…” He let go of my arm. “There. Should heal a lot faster now.”
“Thanks.” I tried to force a smile, without much success.
We sat in silence for a while.
Finally, the silence was just too awkward and depressing, and I had to do something to change the mood. “Um… so… I was wondering… when this is all over, and we leave the Academy… you think The Lab would be willing to take me in? Because… I mean, I can’t go back to living with my dad. I–I need to…”
“Of course. You’re a mortal god in need of a place to stay. The Lab would love to have you.”
“As long as I’m worth researching, huh?”
“The Lab isn’t just about research. It’s a safe haven for people like us. A place to learn to control your powers. They offer… a second chance. A chance to belong. If all they cared about was research… they wouldn’t be keeping me around anymore. There’s nothing left to research. But… they know that there’s no other place for me to go. Most people would kick out you after you send them to the burn ward a few times. The Lab just… installs more sprinklers and fire blankets.” Alex paused. Stared at me with an odd look.
“It sounds nice.”
He gave me a weak smile. “Anyway, after all they did for me, I’m going to try to do the same for you, okay? Help you get past all this murder stuff. I have a feeling it’s not going to be easy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up killing me at least once, but I’m here for you, okay? And… just because I’m afraid… it doesn’t mean I don’t trust you. I just know it’s not that easy to change who you are.”
… And I wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up killing me at least once …