‘She should come round any minute now. Whether she’ll be the same, I can’t say.’
I didn’t want to wake up. I was in a nice, soft world where nothing could hurt me. I was safe. Safe...Ishmael. My eyes flew open, and it took me a moment to adjust to the bright sun in the room. When they had, I could see several people clustered round where I was lying. They saw that I was awake, and began babbling incoherently about what a hero I was, about how someone important had made room for mutants to have seats in parliament, but I wasn’t listening to them. I only had eyes for one face.
Ishmael stood in front of the light, so that it was framing his face. I could see the tops of his wings over his shoulders, and his blue eyes gazed down at me. He smiled at me, and I made a vain attempt to smile back. I probably looked like I was grimacing, but I think he understood. Ishmael waved a hand at the crowd of people, and they filed out silently. As chief advisor, he shouldn’t have been able to do that, but as my friend he was more than qualified. He sat next to me, and for the first time I noticed the wires and needles in my head, restricting movement. I began to panic, but Ishmael put a calming hand on my shoulder.
‘It’s all right; they’re just monitoring you. Do you feel okay?’
‘You? I tried to stop the agent sooner, but I couldn’t. And Charlotte and the others? Oh my God, did they fall when the building . . .?’
Ishmael was shaking his head.
‘You held them up even after you were unconscious. Everyone was fine. Well, except Agent Brackley. He sort of had his brains squished.’
I noticed that he had avoided one of my questions.
‘What about you?’
Ishmael began to look slightly uncomfortable.
‘There was no lasting damage, but . . . I won’t be doing any straight flying for a while. I’ll be fine in a few months, but until this heals,’ He motioned to a gash in the back of his wing. ‘I’ll sort of . . . spin. Like a plane with one wing.’
I felt a wave of guilt. ‘I’m sorry, I should have stopped him sooner-’
Ishmael was nodding gravely. ‘And I should have stopped the extinction of the dinosaurs, saved the victims of 9/11, and prevented the Titanic sinking in my spare time. It wasn’t your fault. Besides, I’ll be fine soon.’
I laughed weakly, and was about to ask him a question, when I remembered something. Summoning up all my energy, I hollered, ‘MISH!’ There was a resounding crack.
‘Is the camp on fire?’
‘Is anyone dead?’
‘Did anyone go on a human killing rampage?’
‘Good job, Mish. Promote yourself. Now GO!’
CRACK. Ishmael rubbed his ear.
‘Does he have to be so loud?’
‘Ickle Ishie got a headache?’
I received a glare for my efforts, and smiled to show I was joking.
‘So,’ I mused. ‘What now? We’ve secured a seat in parliament, a vote for all mutties, and one of us is running for president.’
Ishmael screwed up his mouth. ‘Guess we just do what normal people do. You’ll have to go to school, I’ll have to get a job . . .’
I made a face. ‘Me? In school? You’ll be fine, you could be a firefighter or something, and rescue kitties in distress. But what could anyone teach me?’
‘What’s the capital of Brazil?’
‘Umm . . .’
‘My point exactly. So basically, we just live.’
The full meaning of this began to sink in. ‘But we’ll still see each other, right? I mean, they won’t separate us, will they?’
Ishmael squeezed my hand. ‘Separate Avenger and Bright Eyes? Never.’