My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Phoenix: Chapter 25 (Key)

“Come on, Phoeb, up!” I said, shaking the girl awake. Through about half her mop of messy hair, she muttered something about my sadism and went back to sleep… for about two tenths of a second, before I woke her up again.

“Come on,” I repeated. “Let’s get the hunting and cleaning done now, before Mark wakes up. He nearly threw up last time. Let’s go. I won’t catch nearly as much without you dropping knives on stuff.”

She kept muttering, but wrenched herself out of bed and raked her fingers through her hair.

“Look, there’s a second reason I need you out of bed,” she said. “It’s a lot more interesting than dropping knives on rabbit heads, I promise. And we’re going to do it first. Bring the fleece blanket.”

She reluctantly dragged the giant blanket outside, where I took it and spread it out under a tree.

“What now, Key?” she made out.

“It’s about you, and Mark, and your past,” she said. “I’ve pieced it together, and I don’t think you know.” I sat down and thumped the blanket with my hand: half invitation, half command.

Phoebe rubbed her eyes and sat down heavily. She obviously hadn’t gotten much sleep. Was this the time to tell her? Well, I probably wasn’t going to get another chance soon, so…

Here goes.

“You know Mark used to work with the Agency,” I started. “He helped Daniel with… something. I don’t know what. Neither of them will talk about it. But he did. And when he did, it seems like he learned a lot about how their parallel dimensions work, and about magic, and… well, he’s a genius. You know that.”

She nodded vaguely.

“So there’s also this assassin dude,” I continued. “And he decided to come, like, straight after Mark. See, Mark was all the way back in school by then, so it wasn’t too difficult to figure out where he was. The assassin had magic on his side, too, you know. And… maybe another code cracker. Not me, mind you, but… someone like me. Maybe. I don’t know. But that’s not the point.” I shifted positions.

“The point is, the assassin came after Mark. But Mark was already back in school. Um… I don’t know how to say this part.” I shifted some more. This felt wrong. “Uh, he had a classmate, right? And this classmate was a girl. He, uh, had a crush on her. Majorly. And Daniel had warned him that he might have somebody coming after him, but not to worry about it because the Agency was tracking that person. Well, he decided to protect his classmate,” I said.

“Using a spell,” Phoebe yawned. “Was it the Epselan spell? I read the Agency used that.”

“Yeah, it was that one,” I said, wondering why she wasn’t sitting up in realization. Was she that tired, or was I telling her stuff she already knew?

“Keep going,” Phoebe said. “What happened?”

“He asked the girl, well, pretty much what she wanted her animal side to be, except he didn’t word it like that. He sort of disguised it and then he did the spell really quietly. He had all the stuff with him. Who knows why he decided to do it—I guess it was just a whim—but he Epselan-ified her.”

“What was her animal side?” Phoebe asked, with a little more interest.

“Phoenix.”

Now Phoebe just looked confused. “I thought I was the only one.”

“You are.”

“Then…”

“Yeah.”

“And the assassin got me instead because he didn’t know exactly what he was looking for?”

“Yep.”

“And Mark had a crush on me?”

“Still sort of does. Except not. Now he’s mostly protective. That’s why he’s so hard on you, you know. I think he still has a crush on Tallie, but maybe not on Phoebe. So don’t feel guilty about going stargazing with your boyfriend or anything.”

“Hey!” she said.

“Wow, that one woke you up,” I giggled. “Didn’t you notice that the cabins have windows on them?”

“Yeah, but… weren’t you asleep?”

“No more than you were,” I said. “I don’t think any of us got any real sleep last night. At least you enjoyed yourself.”

“Mark slept,” Phoebe said. “Xavier said he was snoring like mad.”

“Faker,” I said. “Mark doesn’t snore. I just told him that so that when he pretends to be asleep, we can tell.”

That was worthy of the laughs it got.

“Mark came to our cabin late last night,” Key said. “You and Xavier had gone in after, it must be said, a pretty wimpy thirty minutes. So you were already inside when he came to meet me. He’s been looking for an opportunity to tell you this, so don’t be angry at him for keeping it secret. I hinted that I might tell you myself, but he seemed pretty undecided on it. So I did. It’ll save him the embarrassment of telling you he liked you. Even if it was before you died.”

“So… can I go drop knives on rabbits now?”

“You can go drop knives on rabbits now.”

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 at 11:28 pm and is filed under Phoenix. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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